Saturday, August 24, 2013

Crashing Through A Brick Wall

The most amazing thing happened recently.  I've been stuck on my maternal 3rd great grandmother for years.  All I knew about her was her name, Lucina McDowell, and that she married Thomas James Hodges.  They were the parents of Elizabeth Hodges Penrod who was the mother of Sarah Penrod Oglesby who was the mother of Alvateen Oglesby Barnard who was the mother of Myrna Loy Barnard Lemon who was the mother of me.  Years ago I was gifted with a copy of a photograph of Elizabeth Hodges Penrod, which I cherish. 

She looks strong and stern and kind of scary.  She was born in 1850 in Indiana and died in 1930 in Sturgis, Union County, Kentucky, where my grandma's family lived.  I've tried repeatedly to find the family of Elizabeth Hodges Penrod, but have always failed.  One cold day last winter, having given up after another of couple of hours of fruitless searching of records on, I stormed into the basement to feed the fire and yelled out loud, "OKAY!  If you all want me to find you, you're going to have to help me out!"  I am serious, this really happened.  I then spent the next 5 or 10 minutes roundly cussing out my mother's side of the family because of their stubborn refusal to be found.  My father's side of the family, which for years had been so difficult to trace, had become almost easy compared to the Oglesbys, Hodges, McDowells and Penrods.  So then I gave up looking for them for a long time.  I worked on my father's family, the Lemons, as is documented here.  I worked on my husband's family, the Knapps.  I even began the search for his mother's biological family, she having been adopted out before she was a year old by her birth mother.  I was wildly successful, for which I take none of the credit.  I am lucky in genealogy and sort of an idiot savant.  I start to look for a family and their names start falling into my lap.  My hunches almost always pay off.  And I love tracing families!  It gives me hours and hours of enjoyment.  When I get stuck on my own families, I create new trees and start documenting them.  It never gets boring, the thrill of finding them never gets stale.
So on Monday I thought to myself, "Why not see what McDowell families were living in Switzerland County, Indiana the year Lucinda and Thomas were married?"  Just an idle thought, and I wasn't able to do it on Monday, I looked on Tuesday.  The heavens opened and names started throwing themselves at me.  I found Lucinda's mother's maiden name.  I found her father's name.  I found the record of her parent's divorce and her father's remarriage to a woman named Lucinda Gibbons.  The names kept coming and I traced siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles.  Then today I found a fully documented site with all the names I'd been finding, plus some I hadn't found yet. 
Roberta Tuller has a website, documenting my family.  :)  I am beyond happy.  I am, almost, beyond words.  Thank you, Roberta Tuller, for putting your research online so I could find it and break down this HUGE brick wall.
Now if I could only find the parents of David Stevens, the father of Edna America Stevens, my great grandmother on my mother's paternal side.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

New Leaf on an Old Tree

My first great-grandchild was born on July 25. A girl her parents named Bella Ann. The Ann is not for me; I'm Denise Ann, but because Ann is a name that is passed down in her mother's family. I'm only 55, much too young, I think, to be a great-grandmother. Of course, her parents are young as well. Her father is only 16. That would be my grandson, the oldest child of my oldest child. Her mother is even younger than her father.

Children are blessings. They ensure that part of ourselves is carried on. The way they end up coming into the world is not always a blessing, especially when their parents are ill-equipped to care for them. I don't know if I'll be able to be an integral part of her life, this newest addition to my family, the circumstances are so strange and messed up. But I love her anyway, no matter how she ended up here.

I met Bella Ann for the first time yesterday. A happy occasion for almost everyone. Babies are possibilities and endless potential. She's quite beautiful. I wonder how much of my own mother and father will be expressed in her. Will she be as intelligent as my father was? Will she be the excellent cook my mother was? What will she do with her life? And my biggest question is whether she will have the passion for knowing who all came before her as I do. Time moves quickly and I hope someone will carry on the work I started.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Finding Mary Sophia Herr

I found her.  I am so thankful to Family Search for indexing all of Michigan's death certificates from 1921 to 1952.  I am so proud that I was one of the people who helped index them!  I found Mary Herr's death record and her name had changed from Jamieson to Meyers, though I can't for the life of me find any record of her marrying a second time, or find her living with anyone named Meyers in a census.  I found her in the 1940 Census with her two youngest children, Grace and Betty Ann Jamieson.  I can't find where she and George W Jamieson divorced, and he didn't die until 1964.  I think. 

But I know it's her in the death record because it lists her parents as Frank Herr and Christine Knolty.  I'm so happy to have found her!  I wish I knew where she was buried, and I wish I could know what happened to her daughters, who were 12 and 16 in the 1940 census, after she died.  I won't be alive when the 1950 census is released, but I suppose by the time it is, I'll have all the answers to every one of my questions.  Or at least I like to think that all questions are answered in Heaven.