Saturday, December 15, 2012

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: spry for his age

From my earliest Christmas memories, I remember this snow globe featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Every year, it would be brought out and carefully displayed, and never played with.  It didn't need to be said that it was something for adults to handle.  Family lore says that it was bought the year I was a baby.   Flash forward to the present, where Rudolph now lives in my house at Christmas.  For his late fifties, he's looking pretty spry!

Another of our holiday treasures was this Advent calendar, which was mailed to us by my great-aunt, Margarita "Dutch" Ives Patton.  She was born in 1901, the daughter of Charles A. Ives & Mary Catherine Myers.  Auntie Dutch lived for about a month past her 100th birthday, and was much loved by us all.  This calendar has also been carefully stored and displayed since the 1950's.  It was a Hallmark product, and cost $1.00, a pretty generous gift at the time.  We were thrilled to open a new door each day.  Various Biblical passages from the Christmas story were revealed.

Wishing you the best of Christmas memories, old and new.

Friday, November 30, 2012

"Hitting the road" for data: Clarence B. Channel

It seemed an unlikely source to find a family history nugget:  the newsletter of the Nebraska Road Department.  But, here's another example of how casting the net a lot wider via a Google search can pay off.  This refers to another descendant of my ancestor Jeremiah Channel(l) of eastern Ohio.  It proved to be a good starting point for uncovering more data about this side of the family.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mom: helpful or ghoulish?

The September issue of the National Genealogy Society Quarterly contains an item about what I would call the ultimate helicopter mom (one who hovers), with a macabre twist.

"In 1877 a desperate mother writes the State Department to beg for a position for her son.  Not unusual on its face, but there is a twist here.  She pins to her letter a newspaper clipping about a State Department employee's suicide, indicating she knows this place is no longer filled, and asks that it be given to her son."

Source:  Applications and Recommendations for Public Office, Hayes-Garfield Administrations.

I hope she at least waited for the funeral to be over.   

A Life in One Sentence: Lucetta Luhr Clark Francis Browning

On the rare occasions when the death of an early ancestor is noted in the local newspaper, the lack of detail makes the item resemble a telegram, or perhaps TV character Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet, known for his dead-pan delivery of  "Just the facts, ma'am."  One such example is the death notice of my ancestor, Lucetta (Luhr) Clark Francis Browning, which appeared in the Canton (Lewis Co, Missouri) Press of 12 April 1878:  "Died, March 27, 1878, Luzetta, wife of J. H. Browning, aged 27 years, 9 months, and one day."

By the time of her death  at age 27, Lucetta had lost her father young, been married twice, given birth to at least six children, made the regrettable decision, probably at the direction of her first husband, to sue her mother, and gone through the public humiliation of a messy divorce.

I am grateful that I didn't stop researching with the death notice...there was a lot left to the story. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Never make assumptions: wrong Ives

I descend from the Ives family of Centralia, Lewis County, WA, which included Allen Ives and his son Charles Abrastus Ives.  I assumed that it was a pretty safe bet that any hits for the surname Ives, made by in a search of the local newspaper for 1907, would be for this family.  Wrong!  Instead, I got the story of the one-legged chicken belonging to a resident of Connecticut, which was used as a filler in the back pages.  Don't get me wrong, it was very entertaining.  Another example of the time-gobbling rabbit holes we all fall down in pursuit of our ancestors! 

Source:  Centralia (WA) Chronicle, 24 Oct. 1907

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Joanna Ives Faidley: surrounded by her girls

     My grandmother had definite opinions about who she liked and disliked among her relatives. She wouldn't have hesitated to say that her father's sister, Joanna Ives Faidley, was one of her favorite aunts.  Apparently, this was helped by the fact that "Aunt Joie" could be counted upon to take my grandmother's side, when a question of appropriate fashion arose.  My grandmother grew up attending the Church of the Brethren, which her grandfather, Allen Ives (Joanna's father), had founded in Centralia, Washington.  The Church frowned upon extremes of dress.  When my grandmother would ask for her next dress to be sewn in whatever the new style was,  her own mother might frown and be ready to say no.  Aunt Joie could be counted on to come to the rescue, saying it wasn't too extreme, and that it was a fine idea.  Although a devoted member of the Church herself, Joanna Faidley seemed to be pretty whimsical.  She is frequently pictured with a huge grin, and this picture of her own daughters would seem to indicate that they were hardly restricted to severe clothing.  Giving her youngest daughter the name "Bluebelle" indicates that this lady was by no means conventional.  I know the size of the hair bow was envied by my grandmother!

     In this picture, Joanna Ives Faidley is seated in front of her five daughters.  From left to right are:  Mayme/Mamie, Rena, Ida, Lou, and Bluebelle.  My grandmother took a red felt pen many years later and added all the names.  While we might question her choice of tool and placement, I am really grateful to have the information.    Comparing the names to available census listings, the caption on the photograph is probably one of the few places where these women are all named at once.  There are, however, name variations to be aware of for clarification.  Mayme is Mary Elizabeth, born in 1883, Rena is Irene/Irena, born in 1873, Ida was born in 1885, Lou was Frances Louella, born about 1870, and Bluebelle was Kate Bluebelle, a happy surprise in 1892.  Sadly, she only lived to the age of 27, and is buried with her father, John Faidley,  in Kansas. 
     According to the known ages, and the book Family Chronicle's More Dating Old Photographs, 1840-1929, this picture appears to have been taken around 1910-1912.  Note:  on a PC, double-click to open larger.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Connecticut, 1701: Don't mess with your mother-in-law

  In an article called “Reminiscences of Bean Hill, Norwich,” author Burrell W. Hyde noted the following court case involving my ancestors :
"Allusion to the Royces recalls what befell those who cast reflections upon their mothers-in-law in early times; it is stated in the Colonial Records of Connecticut (Norwich, June 23rd, 1701), Bean Hill:
 Whereas Thomas Stoddard being called before me to answer for casting reflections and aspersions upon his Mother-in-law Deborah Royce, after much kindness received, by him and his wife, after all, reporting that his wife's mother had broken his wife's heart for her unkindness in not giving her a bit of the cake made for her son Jonathan Royce, ordered: that Thomas Stoddard pay a fine of ten shillings to the County Treasurer.
 John Tracy, Justice of the Peace."
The Connecticut Magazine, an illustrated monthly, Volume 3, c. 1897, Hartford, CT,
pages 295-6.
I find myself wondering how this situation got to the point of being decided in court:  who complained, was this relationship always rocky, and what was it like afterward, especially for the wife/daughter caught in the middle, Deborah Royce Stoddard?  Families behaving badly are nothing new.  That must have been some cake.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ohio pensions: unexpected resource

     While searching the microfilmed Cleveland area newspapers for items about my ancestors, I came across an unexpected resource, a published list of Ohio pension activity.  I don't have the exact date or name of the newspaper, as I just copied it for fun, but I believe the year was 1899.  Looking at the towns listed, it appears that the article covers pensioners across the state.
     Perhaps similar articles appeared in other locations at regular intervals, and would be a great way of locating information between census years.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lambert Eckerson: party animal?

     Over the years, I've come to think of my distant ancestors as not having much dimension.  While I admire them tremendously for facing the hard work, financial setbacks, and personal loss many of them experienced, none of what I learned about them suggested much time devoted to "fun."  As genealogists, we access things like census, land, court, and vital records, most of which make for matter-of-fact reading.  The pictures available to us are usually formal poses, with the subjects frozen into rather stern expressions.
     So, imagine the jolt I got, when I read the following article published in the Hornellsville (NY) Weekly Tribune of 20 October 1899.  It reprints an advertisement for a dance to be held in January of 1847, with tickets available "at the bar" for $1.50.  My ancestor, Lambert Eckerson, is listed among the managers of the committee hosting the event, which started at 1:00 p.m. and continued into the following morning.  The 1899 comment is that the venue was "the hottest old place in that section of the county." 
     Lambert Eckerson, 1821-1903, was almost two years away from his wedding to Harriet Graves at the time of the dance.  Would she have been allowed to attend such an event?  She would have been 21 at the time, but perhaps being in the vicinity of "the hottest old place" wasn't encouraged!
     Another smile when taking a peek into the lives of my ancestors.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Louise Coleman Dempsey, 1855-1923: hard-working single mom is nothing new

     My ancestor, Louise Coleman, used determination and hard work to make the most of life's challenges.  Born in 1855 in Rensselaer Co., NY, she married James Dempsey about 1877.  They lived for a time in Oswego, NY, near their parents, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio by 1885.  All together, seven children are known to have been born to this couple, until their marriage unraveled by the early 1890s.  Their married life was marked by regular moves into different lodgings, in the area of Cleveland surrounding the Walker Mfg. Co.  Perhaps James was employed there.  Their children were baptized at St. Colman's Catholic Church, which served the Irish community.  It  still operates today.
     At some point in the early 1900s, Louise and her two youngest children struck out for Chicago, where Louise worked as a "practical nurse" and midwife.  She was said to have received an inheritance from someone in New York, which made it possible for her to obtain the training.  This was no doubt her brother, Civil War veteran John Henry Coleman, who left her $1300 in his will upon his death in 1891.
     I believe that Louise wasn't on the best of terms with the remainder of her family in New York, because she expressed a disinterest in ever going back to visit, or in maintaining contact.  Perhaps something about the man she chose to marry wasn't acceptable, or perhaps pride kept her from going back.
     Louise never remarried, and died in California on a visit to her son James in 1923.  She is buried in River Grove Cemetery in Cook County, Illinois.  Although no marker is visible today, Louise was certainly remembered by her descendants as being a strong and loving woman.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Probate proceedings: why aren't they all like this?!?

     We've all had great hopes of placing our ancestors in an earlier generation by using wills and probate proceedings.  Unfortunately, too often some hazy terms are used such as "his wife," or "his children."  Sometimes, however, we are surprised by the amount of detail that's been meticulously added.  Here is an example from Van Buren County, Iowa, and the estate of my ancestor, George Channell, who died in 1898.  Note that every heir is named, along with relationship, residence and age.  It isn't as though these are young children, either.  This is an excellent means of confirming information I'd collected from other sources.
     A further example of the benefit of collecting ALL available data, not just listings out of indexes or abstracts.  This comes via microfilmed copies available via the Family History Library.  I viewed them in Salt Lake City, but the film can be ordered online for viewing at local Family History Centers.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Debt as an unexpected research tool

     After 32 years of researching my ancestors, I've begun to focus on organizing what I've already done, how well I've done it (or not), making digital copies of various materials, and creating a system for finding my way through the mountain of data.  Along the way, I've discovered that, in my earlier race backward in time collecting ancestors, there are many instances where I should have slowed down and consulted valuable resources for a more complete picture of the people, places, and periods in history.
     A recent research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City gave me an opportunity to take a second look at some better resources.  Instead of acting on my first impulse, which is to yank a book of abstracts off the shelf, and check the index for my surname (we've all done it), I cranked through an unindexed, microfilmed copy of probate records for the years 1804-1817, in the Westminster District of Windham County, Vermont.  Vermont sometimes has more than one probate district per county, as is the case here.  These are the records of events written as they happened, not a later, typed version.  My original intent was to find something about a particular probate, but found an unexpected bonanza by accident.
     I stopped randomly on the pages of  records concerning the estate of Dr. Levi Sabin, in 1809, which gave incredible details of the community.  Among the lists of assets were notations of amounts due the estate by various individuals.  There were literally pages of these lists.  I suspect that the doctor had performed medical services on credit, and these made up a number of  notes due at the time of his death.  At the bottom of one page, I found my ancestor, Selah Graves, owing $14.05.  On the same page is his wife Sabra's brother, Ralph Roundy, as well as a member of the Emory family, which is another family connection.  Other pages list allied surnames, many of which appear next in western New York, where the next generation settled.
     The lists are a perfect snapshot of who lived in the community of Springfield, Vermont in the early 1800s. A name found on something like this is a good way to place a family on their trek in and out of communities between census years.  The FHC film number is 29150.
     I was interested in Dr. Sabin to the point of looking further into his life.  A number of applications have been submitted to the Sons of the American Revolution, based on the service of his father, Elisha Sabin.  Levi Sabin was born in 1764, died in 1808.  His marriage to Barbara Stearns occurred in 1790, in Rockingham, VT:  they produced a large family.  His estate appraisal also gives a couple of pages of medical books.
     Being in debt isn't a pleasant notion, but in this case, it proved a surprisingly useful tool; I plan to revisit this source for more happy accidents.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

More Than Meets the Eye,.....

     In my perpetual search for clues for the origins of my ancestor, Allen Ives, I often collect data on the family of his step-father, Benedict Singer, and for Allen's half-brothers, Benjamin F. and Francis Marion Singer.  I make a point to visit the website frequently, and browse through any records of interest.  They add new online materials regularly.
     Recently, I was reminded of the need to look further than how an item might be described in a title.  The example?  A record collection described with the following title:  United States, Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans, 1879-1903.  In the paragraph below the title,  giving more detail, is the following qualifier, "Some cards may include War of 1812 veterans.  The gravestones were provided between 1879-1903."
     Sure enough, when the surname Singer was entered into the search box, the name Benedict Singer appeared among the results.  He was buried in Somerset, Indiana in 1870.  Further information indicates that he served as a private in the 1st Regiment of Pennsylvania Militia.  Cemetery:  Mount Vernon, Somerset (Wabash County).  Date of death is simply 1870.  At the bottom of the card is a stamp that says Lee Marble Works, and a hole has been punched in the rest of it, but there's clearly a date that says March 29, 1902.
    When I first looked in this resource, I was only expecting to find "Union Veterans" from the Civil War era, perhaps someone from the next generation down.  Instead, I was reminded of the old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover."


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Genealogical cloak and dagger: who knew?

From the 100th-year anniversary issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly comes the following anecdote.  Who says genealogy is a dry topic?

Writing about former editor George Ely Russell, it states:  "In 2011 George Ely Russell credited Milton Rubincam's always punctual and perfectly typed book reviews for keeping him on schedule and for almost getting him fired from his day job.  Each quarter Russell, a married government employee with a top-secret security clearance, would stand on the sidewalk outside his office and accept a package from an attractive young woman.  Resulting speculation that he was a spy receiving secret documents taught him to keep delivery of Rubincam's book reviews away from his business address."

Rutland County, Vermont letters: David Bates family

     I recently attended the annual banquet and conference held at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston.  Special guests were Michael & Kitty Dukakis, who spoke about their experiences as the children of immigrants, and of their recent European trip in search of their ancestral origins.  The keynote speaker was Professor Bryan Sykes, noted geneticist, who unveiled his newest book, DNA:USA - A Genetic Portrait of America.
     There was enough time during my visit to spend three days in the wonderful NEHGS research library, the scope of which is much broader than New England.  Seeking information which might add to my knowledge of my ancestors on the move, I made a point of combing the online card catalog before I left home.  I made note of the following manuscript:

Call #Mss C451 "Letters addressed to David Bates at Poultney, Rutland Co., Vt. Correspondents include his son David Bates; Josiah Reed; Silas Gould; Rachel (Loveland) Partridge; and others. The Bates and Reed families moved from Vermont to New York about 1815. Their letters discuss travel and living conditions, family matters, spiritual piety, the acquisition of land, and farming conditions."

     None of these people are my direct ancestors (that I know of!), but I thought their experiences might reflect that of my own family during the same time period in the same locations.  The letters range in date from I think 1809 to 1817.
     I was able to handle the actual 200-year-old documents carefully, wearing gloves and using a library card to turn the pages.  There are 11 letters, some easier to read than others.  A very small digital camera, used without a flash, enabled me to record the image without doing any damage.  Some other details I was able to glean were the towns of Castletown(ton), Rutland Co, VT, Poultney, VT, what may be Worthington (unknown state), Auburn, New York, Phelpstown (New York), and Murry (Murray), New York.  Besides the names mentioned in the catalog citation, I saw both David Bates Sr. and Jr., Ruth G____(illegible), a comment from Rachel Partridge who states "mother is not very well and Philips is in a poor state of health," Belinda Bates, Ebenezer Partridge, "Uncle James (Bates?)," and  Eunice Bates, who may be the wife of David Bates, Jr.
     One comment gives an idea of the heavy labor involved in moving to an uncleared location:  David Bates, Jr. writes to his father, "I have chopt twenty acres of land."
    The more complete picture that can be gained by seeking out these absolutely unique sources is well worth the time and effort.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Allen Ives and the Church of the Brethren, Centralia, WA

      My grandmother was born in 1904, and had vivid memories of her grandfather, Allen Ives, who was born in 1828.  She conveyed the impression that some wished that he'd paid as much attention to his own family as he did to his church flock, but I have no way of knowing if that was true.  I do know for certain that he eventually went blind, which began when a cinder from a pile of burning debris blew into his eye.  It was her job as a little girl to lead him by the hand  to the outhouse, and wait outside for him, which she detested.  
      The journey of Allen Ives took him from Indiana to Ohio, then Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, and ended in rural Washington state with his death in 1911.  Embracing the Church of the Brethren as a young man,  he worked tirelessly throughout his life for the benefit of his fellow church members.  Books on early history of the various communities in which he lived indicate that the founding of a new church was the first order of business when he arrived.  Many of the names of people known to be church members appear to have traveled in the same general pattern, some being family connections.  Perhaps he was directed by church authorities to spread the growth of membership.
     A document in my collection relates the founding of one of the western outposts of the Church of the Brethren, in Centralia, Lewis County, Washington in 1897.  I've left the  punctuation (or lack) intact:

     "Centralia, Wash. - Jan. 2 1897     The Brethren of Centralia, Wash. assembled at the home of Elder Allen Ives for to organize a Church.  the meeting was opened by singing hymn No. 253.  Prayer by G.C. Carl, closed by Bro. Ives.  Allen Ives was chosen Moderator Stated the object of the meeting and the meeting was ordered open for business.  The meeting proceeded by reading all the Church letters that was presented, Namely Elder Allen Ives and Wife.  Sister Christlieb, Sister Benbow, Sister Miller, Sister Hildreth, and Bro. Holcomb.  The following five were received by Christian Baptism at this place, Bro. Weaver and wife, Bro. Armstrong and Wife, and Bro. Roundtree,  Elder Allen Ives."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Size doesn't always matter...

     A fine new resource has recently been published, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems.  In it, she reminds us of how many different ways the names of our ancestors might appear in the news, no matter how unlikely.
     An example appeared for my ancestor, Nathan Graves of Westmoreland, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire.  The Norwich Courier, published in Norwich, CT, printed the following article on 31 October, 1804,  page 3:  "Several apple trees belonging to Mr. Nathan Graves, of Westmoreland, were on the 19th of August last, scorched by fire, so that the apples were roasted on the trees; and within about four weeks after the same trees were discovered in as full bloom as in spring."  The same article was published in The Democrat, in Boston, 10 days later.
     Now, this tiny article isn't going to tell me a great deal about Nathan's forebears or descendants, or anything about his position in the community.  It does, however, indicate that he had enough resources to have his own apple trees.  It also illustrates what his neighbors read about him over 200 years ago, and how remarkable the sight of apple blossoms must have been at the end of a New Hampshire September! 


Monday, February 20, 2012

Naming children for public figures

Among my ancestors are those who not only honored earlier generations by naming children after them, but also mined the names of public figures for inspiration.  A few samples:
     Benjamin Franklin Singer, 1840-1924
     Francis Marion Singer, 1841-1903
These were the half-siblings to my ancestor, Allen Ives.  Named for two American patriots of an earlier generation, the famous statesman and inventor, and "The Swamp Fox" of military fame during the Revolution.
     Thomas Jefferson Eckerson, born about 1827
     Andrew Jackson Eckerson, born about 1828
     William Henry Harrison Eckerson, born 8 Dec. 1841
These were brothers to my ancestor, Lambert Eckerson (probably named for his grandfather, Lambert Smith).  They were named for three U.S. Presidents, one a founding father, one a former military hero, and the last who died after only a month in office.  This occurred the same year his namesake was born. 
     Millard Ives, 1869-1874.  Son of my ancestor Allen Ives.
     Millard Fillmore Ives, born 1 February 1873.  Cousin to Millard Ives, above.  His father was Oren Ives.    U.S. President Millard Fillmore served between 1850-1853, and he didn't die until March of 1874.  I have no idea what fueled such admiration in this family.  


Monday, February 13, 2012

Eckersons in Civil War

Several of the men in my family have served the U.S. during military conflicts, stretching all the way back to the wars of early Colonial times.  Two examples are the Eckerson brothers:  William Henry Harrison and Charles W., who came to Lafayette County, Wisconsin with their parents, Levi & Hannah Smith Eckerson.  William Henry Harrison Eckerson, born 8 Dec. 1841 in Wyoming Co., NY, enlisted in Company I, 16th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, on 12 May 1861.  Charles was born 16 Sept. 1837 in Angelica, Allegany Co., NY., and enlisted on Christmas Eve, 24 Dec. 1861 in the same company and regiment, following his younger brother into the Union Army.

The application Charles W. Eckerson submitted for a pension of 1890 contains the following notarized statement:

" the service and in the line of duty at Corinth in the State of Mississippi...June, 1863 he received a kick from a mule in the abdominal region.  Also that while on detached service and in line of duty at Savage's Landing, near Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, about April, 1864, he was poisoned by having arsenic or other poison placed in his drink or food by a Confederate sympathizer which has ever since affected his stomach.  Not treated at any hospital."
On a 2010 visit to Vicksburg National Military Park, my husband and I located the monument for Wisconsin.  It's one of the few states which named all participants, not just the casualties.  William and Charles are both shown on the monument. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Asa O. Ives...not always popular

     For many years, I've been working to connect the dots between my Ives ancestors, working eastward from Washington state to Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Ohio, toward Vermont and the well-documented New England Ives family.  I have several pieces of documentation which suggest a connection to one of the individuals named Asa Oren Ives.  I'm always gathering anything that would expand my knowledge of the family.
     One piece that stands out is this item, which was published in The Rutland Herald, of Rutland, Vermont, on 20 February 1808:
     We are left without any doubt about how David Palmer of Castleton, VT feels about this particular Asa O. Ives of Wallingford.  Love how he "hints it to the public" by taking out an ad in the local paper.  Could you do that today?   
     This quote comes to mind, whether this turns out to be "my" Asa or not:  “You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't.” 
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Joseph Francis-Lucetta Luhr (Clark)

Turning Family Drama Into a Bridge Across the Atlantic

     For many years, I’ve known that my ancestor, Joseph Francis, was divorced from his wife, Lucetta Luhr (Clark) Francis, in 1869.  She filed for and was granted a divorce in Adams County, Illinois, where she’d taken the children to live with her mother.  This must have been especially difficult, being unusual for the era.  But, I felt fortunate that the divorce papers clearly stated their children’s names, birth places, and birth dates. 
     Fast forward, to a research trip in the more recent past to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  What I learned had never occurred to me:  while Lucetta was suing Joseph Francis for divorce, he was counter-suing her across the Mississippi River, in Lee County, Iowa, where they had lived as a couple in Fort Madison.  It would have taken me half a day to photocopy the many pages of the complete Iowa case, all of which had been microfilmed.  (After I returned home, I ordered the film at my local LDS branch library and made copies.)  While Lucetta’s case against her husband described his low habits, Joseph supplied many depositions attacking his wife’s character.  And, buried among them, was one from his German-born mother-in-law (clearly supplied unwillingly).  The mission was obviously to establish a familial history of “loose women.”  I can imagine a TV attorney screaming “Objection!” to the questions!  However, for my purposes, they proved to be a gold mine. 
     Until now, I’d only had a brief sketch of Lucetta’s mother, based on a short county history, obituary, and census records.  She was born Doris Frantz, perhaps in Domitz, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and widowed about 1844 in Portsmouth, Ohio.  Joseph Francis’ divorce papers supplied so much more:  Doris’ approximate date of birth, HER mother’s name, when Doris’ parents had died, when she had been first married, when and where she’d first had children, about when she came to America, where she had first lived (Buffalo, New York, unknown to me), when and where she had married her second husband, Charley Clark (Canada:  again, news to me).  Using the marvelous resources of the library, I set to work.  I had a rare run of luck:  there was only one town in present-day Germany that looked close to what I wanted, it was in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the records were filmed, and they had a surname index.  (Trust me, it’s only happened once!)  It still required careful study of unfamiliar writing and language, and much trotting up to the help desk, so that the gracious, multi-lingual staff could translate what I was seeing.
     I now have more details than I would have thought possible to get for my 2nd great grandmother, Dorothea Maria Augusta Franz.  So far, I have her birth date, christening date, confirmation date, marriage date, complete names of her parents, grandparents, occupations, and so on.  I have the same details for her husband, who I only knew as Frederick Luhr, but who was born Johann Joachim Friedrich Luhr.  He came from Lubtheen, a village close to that of his future wife.  I hope to find earlier generations in this family, but it will take careful reading.
     I’ll never know the whole story behind my ancestors’ divorce, but I do know I have been reminded of the same, basic lessons:  look for ALL the records in ALL the locations.  And, keep reading that old handwriting; you’ll be surprised at what’s hiding there.