Friday, July 14, 2017

The Quiet Heros - Remembering Wartime France

Today is July 14, Bastille Day, an important date on the French calendar. It reminded me of this video I made a couple of years ago, honoring the World War II service and sacrifice of family members.

The Quiet Heroes - Remembering Wartime France

Left, Bobby Glos, 1923 - 1944, killed in action
Eltie Glos, 1912 - 2007
John Pina, Jr. 1922 - 1983

Jack C. Francis, left, 1920 - 1989

Friday, June 2, 2017

Grateful for the Kindness of Strangers

     Over the years, it’s been a pleasure to the witness many instances of genealogists and historians taking time to assist other researchers. I well remember my early, stumbling steps studying my own family history, where I was often pointed in the right direction by others. This was in the days when letter-writing was a big part of the process. I lived for the days when I’d receive an envelope with hand- or type-written family group sheets, part of a family tree, or copies of photos and documents. This blog is in part a salute to their efforts, where I share some of my own discoveries, and give my ancestors some context. 
     Recently, I ran across another example of someone making the extra effort to ensure his ancestor wasn’t forgotten, by pointing future generations to her final resting place. (I have no relationship with this family.) Long before the advent of, or the wide sharing of information that’s possible via the internet, he inserted a piece of graph paper into a local book of typed cemetery inscriptions, on which he’d carefully drawn a map, shown here.
Insert showing details of the grave of Emily Osburn Durant, as of 1981, by Gary Moore

     Writing in 1981, the author, Gary Moore, knew that Emily Osburn Durant’s parents were David J. and Sylvia Osburn, and he helpfully directed the viewer to lot 195 of Buckeye Cemetery. Comparing this data to the present-day listing for Emily Durant on FindaGrave shows a less intuitive result, because a clickable link to her parents isn’t available. One would have to do a broader search for the Osburn surname within the area. The listing shows the headstone now to be in the Old Van Buren Cemetery, Van Buren Twp., Jackson Co., Iowa. The current photo of the headstone shows that it has been reset at some point. Perhaps it’s been moved from its original location on the map. 
     It is lovely to think, that in her short eighteen years of life, Emily inspired a legacy of kindness.
Emily Osburn Durant, courtesy

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

He Spoke to Me Across Centuries: Asahel Roundy

     Sometimes, the reward of a journey can't be measured by how much it advances my original goal.  This piece is among the most striking, of the many I handled on my September 2016 trip to New England, even though it doesn't concern my "direct line."
     The branch of the Roundy family I’m interested in lived in Rockingham, Windham Co., Vermont.  Some of the family lived across the Connecticut River, in Lempster, then Cheshire Co., now Sullivan Co., New Hampshire.  When I visited the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, the welcoming staff was eager to help me connect with the history of my family.  They produced a remarkable document.
Asahel Roundy letter, 1777,
from the collection at the New Hampshire Historical Society
     This letter was written by a young man during the Revolutionary War, Asahel Roundy.  As a son of Samuel Roundy, he was nephew and cousin to my ancestors, the John Roundys, Sr. and Jr.  I could lift and smooth my hand over the actual paper he used out in a camp somewhere (after the battle of Stillwater, NY).  I wish now I'd taken more time getting the perfect image with a different device.  But as so often happens, I was rushing to find one more source, in one more repository, before day’s end.
     The two inserts below show my attempt at a transcription, and the typed explanation sent, when the letter was donated to the New Hampshire Historical Society.  It broke my heart, knowing that this young soldier would die four short months later, after “a littel butter and a littel shugar” had made him so happy.
     I will always remember his story.

Note:  Evidence of Asahel’s service and death can be found in the roll of Col. Benjamin Bellow’s New Hampshire regiment, the bounty paid for his enlistment, and notation of his death in January, 1778 in the original, handwritten battalion roll.  More about the circumstances faced by his unit is found in the book, "Death Seem'd to Stare": The New Hampshire and Rhode Island Regiments at Valley Forge,” by Joseph Lee Boyle.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

David Ives - Allen Ives: Further evidence

Having just spent considerable time composing the previous message, I couldn't get the story and its tragic circumstances out of my mind.

Further investigation turned up this article from the San Francisco Call newspaper of 21 February 1893.

Accessed via California Digital Newspaper Collection
The last known residence in Kansas for "my" David Ives was Burr Oak, Jewell Co., Kansas, where he was living next to his father, Allen Ives.  One newspaper account shows the letter being from Kansas, one from Iowa.  But the detail, "Burr Oak" is too specific to ignore.

I believe that this makes a solid case for the date and circumstances of David Ives' death being much different than what was believed.

David Ives, son of Allen Ives: Is This a Match?

As I approach the 37th year of actively researching my ancestors, I recognize the need to reevaluate some of my old files. Often, I’ve learned new facts that can be used to fine-tune someone’s story.  Frequently, new records are available.  And, yes, sometimes what I’ve accepted as fact is just plain wrong, or in need of further study.

One such case is that of David Ives, oldest son of my ancestor Allen Ives and his wife Mary Deeter.  Years ago, when a large proportion of my efforts were dependent upon the U.S. Postal Service, I exchanged information with another researcher, and was sent a voluminous binder.  This consisted largely of printed, typewritten sketches about each individual.  The Ives family was part of the project.  David Ives’ biography stated, word for word, about his death:  “He died November 22, 1899. (?)  He died in a sandslide.  (It’s possible he may have died in CA.)”
However it got there, this date has found its way onto many online trees; the few I glanced at don’t have a source for the information.  Most state that David Ives died in Kansas, where he lived at the time of the 1880 census, working as a blacksmith in Jewell County.  What may not be known to many, is that there was a footnote to the biography.  It states that David Ives left Kansas in 1883 with his brother Levi (Lee) Ives, eventually settling in Washington Territory.  The location would eventually be called Pateros.  Records for the David Ives I’m related to show his birth to have occurred in Iowa, in 1853.
There begins the part of the story where we have to question the time and circumstances of David’s death.  The Washington Territorial census of 1887 shows a David Ives, age 33, blacksmith, living in Walla Walla.  No other family members are shown, although he had married, and was the father of two children.  His birth is recorded as having taken place in Pennsylvania.  After this point, this David doesn’t appear to be creating any more records in Washington.

Jumping ahead to 1888 and 1890, a David Ives, age 35 (in both entries), blacksmith, is living in Chico, Butte Co., California.  Birthplace is shown as Iowa.  This is from the Great Registers, which record voters, in all parts of the state.  The last entry in 1892 shows a David Ives, age 39, blacksmith, living in Santa Rosa, Sonoma Co., CA.  Birthplace is Pennsylvania.

The final piece of the puzzle was located in an online image of an article, which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper of 21 February 1893.  It reports the death of a man presumed to be David Ives of Santa Rosa (located two counties away), because of the letter found on his person.  It’s from a niece in Kansas named “Lena.”  A snippet view of the same news from the San Francisco Call newspaper from February 22 states the victim was "David Ives, blacksmith, of Santa Rosa."
San Francisco Chronicle, 21 February 1893.  Accessed via

Via, I was also able to access these details from a yearly report of the San Francisco coroner's office:

We don’t really know enough to state, without doubt, that all of these David Ives are the same person.  The differing birthplaces don’t concern me terribly, given the number of other items that fit:  the age, occupation, the physical description, the reference to Kansas.  The voter registration describes him as “fair” with “gray hair.”  Whether someone else would describe him as a round-faced German with a heavy blonde mustache, I have no idea.  A quick search for potential, letter-writing nieces shows Irene Faidley, who would have been about 19 in 1893.

It would be of interest to hear what other descendants know of this story, and whether this is indeed the same person.   

No matter how experienced we think we are as genealogists, our ancestors will always find a way of surprising us.