It has been said, time after time, that when you start researching your family history, you should start with what you know and ask questions of those in your immediate family. I’ve asked my mom and uncle many things and they’ve been able to fill in some blanks. My uncle’s memory is phenomenal. We once spent four hours driving around Marion, Ohio trying to find the house where they lived when he was three. He recalled the route from the house to my mom’s elementary school, but we couldn’t find the house–at first. But when we finally did, it was exactly as he described. It was uncanny.
Their cousin managed to locate a bunch of family photos for me and she was able to tell me some stories about relatives gone long before I was born. My mom only had somewhat frightening memories of her grandmother, Emma Briggs Foster. In fact, Mom thought Emma was a witch. (Mom was pretty young and Emma wasn’t.) But Mom’s cousin was a little older and remembered spending time with her grandmother. She made Emma more real. I almost said “more human,” but that would be disrespectful to Emma. The last thing I would want to feel toward Emma is disrespect. (Bad enough I keep calling her Emma!) She’s the driving force behind my research.
Anyway, for as little information as I had about my mom’s family when I started, I think I’ve done pretty well at discovering things. I’ve been a little envious of those who had families who kept things. It’s been hard to do that in my family–or at least it’s been hard to keep track of the things that were kept–because we’ve always been on the move. Even I have managed to misplace a box of photographs I know I have somewhere. I had them in my last house, yet after 10 years of living here I’ve never managed to find them.
As for my mom, well, she’s had a box of family photos in storage since before I developed an interest in genealogy. Fortunately, said storage is climate controlled. Mom recently moved into a bigger space and as I type, she’s going through those photos. She’s several states away from me and her scanner isn’t connected yet. She called me to tell me that she thought she had found a photo of her paternal grandfather. I told her to take a picture of it with her phone and text it to me. I have a couple of very small photos of him, so I was pretty sure I could positively identify him for her. Sure enough, it’s him. And it’s a portrait that my grandfather (Mom’s dad) clearly took of him. Grandpa was very interested in photography and this picture proves that pretty much no one in his immediate family managed to escape his camera lens.
Mom has also sent me two other text messages, with photos of a couple of her cousins–along with the words, “And I’m a ways from the bottom. These were Mom’s and Grandma Branum’s.” I wonder what else she’ll find?
I’m so excited, I can hardly stand it!
Some time ago, I posted an obituary for my great great grandmother, Lovina Seifert Branum. In that post, I mentioned her daughter, Anna, and my search for what happened to her. I had, at the time, found at least three husbands for Anna, with a possible fourth.
A few days ago, I found an obituary for Anna’s brother Frank online (I’ll post that when I have a little more time to delve into his life). Anna was listed with yet another last name, living in Phoenix, AZ. Searching on that particular combination (Anna Stones), I found an index listing for an obituary in the same newspaper that her mother’s appeared in. So, on a whim, I sent away for it. I had no idea if it was the same person, but at only $3, I figured I could afford to be wrong.
Well, I wasn’t. The obituary was published in 1983 (Anna’s date of death appears to be 22 July 1983) and for that reason, I’m not completely comfortable posting the text online. People are mentioned in it who may still be alive, as well as an address that could belong to family members. But the obituary does list both of her parents (although they missed the mark on my great great grandmother’s name), and Anna’s place and date of birth match the information I have.
It’s nice to know where she ended up, but I would still like to know the story behind all of her marriages. She had no children of her own, according to the obituary, so information is probably scarce. That won’t stop me from trying to find it, though!
Yikes. I just commented on someone else’s genealogy blog and when I went to enter the URL for my blog, I had to come here first to make sure it was right.
It’s November 20th and fall semester will be over in no more than 17 days (sooner if I manage to finish my lit review before then). I hope to be able to pick up on some research at that time. I’m so easily distracted, I don’t dare look at any of my genealogy right now.
So, for both of my readers, now you know I’m still around and will be back eventually.
More than a year ago, I wrote a post on my great grandmother’s birthday, where I mentioned that I had seen a date when she supposedly married my great grandfather, but I hadn’t yet found the proof. And then I went and found the proof and never posted an update. So, here it is! My information had the date listed as 22 May 1889. As it turns out, I was a year off and I’d been looking in the wrong place. Emma and Samuel lived in Marion County, which is where Samuel’s family lived. I’d checked Marion County and Huntingdon County, PA records with no luck. It never occurred to me to check Crawford County!
Of course, it all makes sense after the fact. My mom has frequently told the story about how her mother fell when she was pregnant with my youngest uncle, and went into labor. Grandpa had to rush her to the hospital in Bucyrus. Since kids weren’t allowed up in the hospital, my mom and other uncle had to stay in the car. While they were there, a car pulled in next to them, relatives from Bucyrus who’d been called by my grandfather to come and take care of the kids. But my mom and uncle refused to get into their car.
Aunt Grace’s notes state that Emma had come to Ohio to live with family, but then she had to go home again briefly because her father was ill. John B. Briggs died on 15 April 1890. Emma married my great grandfather the following month. But before she did, she was probably living in Bucyrus. Her youngest sister, Laura, had been sent to live with family in Bucyrus after their mother died, so everything fits.
Well, except it would be nice to know WHO those relatives in Bucyrus were…
Index five 1940 census records, one for each day during my lunch hour. Save records and verify all citations for Samuel Blocksom FOSTER. Email database backup Explore some of the new apps tweeted by people attending the SCGS Jamboree, specifically Remember the Milk and OneNote. Finish assignments for genealogy reference classThere were a few that I didn’t submit, but I did do the research involved. Since the assignments aren’t graded, it’s not a necessity. Index at least seven 1940 census records (one for each day of the week) Save records and verify citations for all information found (so far) on Howard FOSTER and Gladys Evelyn BRANUMHoly cow, that was more time consuming than I thought it would be. I think future weeks we’ll just stick to ONE person. But they’re both done. Everything I have found for them is now accounted for in my RootsMagic database and I have a better idea of what I still need to look for–which was the whole point!
- Newspaper research for Samuel Ebberts obituary and/or estate notice
Email database backup
There were a couple of unintended finds as well. I located the marriage record of my great great grandparents, Giles FOSTER and Susan BLOCKSOM. I might have also located a death record for the latter grandparent, but I need to explore that a little further… this week!
Also, a bout of insomnia led me to finding my boyfriend’s grandparents in the 1940 census. But that’s a story for another blog…
Now, for the upcoming week…my little staycation is over. It’s been lovely, but all good things must come to an end. I also have a few things on my calendar after work this week, so time gets a little more limited. But we’ll see what we can pull off.
- Index five 1940 census records, one for each day during my lunch hour.
- Save records and verify all citations for Samuel Blocksom FOSTER.
- Email database backup
- Explore some of the new apps tweeted by people attending the SCGS Jamboree, specifically Remember the Milk and OneNote.
This is a variation of Ruth’s ”Last Week’s Research Activities” posts that have inspired me because of how she focuses on specific activities. She’s also a GENIUS for emailing a backup of her database to her Gmail account. I’m definitely following up with that, even though I have Mozy backing up my system daily. After having my laptop stolen and losing the majority of my photos from Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Fairfield County, Ohio, I don’t ever want to deal with that particular heartache again. The more backups, the better!
I’m on vacation the latter half of this week and I am specifically designating some time for genealogy. Part of this involves the genealogy reference class I’m taking for the next couple of weeks. The rest of my time should be split up between organizing and documenting what I already know and making sure all of my information is properly cited, and looking for new information. So, the next week should involve a little of everything:
- Finish assignments for genealogy reference class
- Index at least seven 1940 census records (one for each day of the week)
- Save records and verify citations for all information found (so far) on Howard FOSTER and Gladys Evelyn BRANUM
- Newspaper research for Samuel Ebberts obituary and/or estate notice
- Email database backup
I think that’s a good start on some basic goals. I’ll report on what I managed to get done next Sunday. And thanks so much to Ruth for this wonderful idea!
I’ve really fallen off the wagon now, haven’t I? I have a few good excuses.
First, I’ve been doing a lot of indexing for the 1940 census. So far, I’ve managed to find my great grandmother, Emma Briggs Foster. I also located my paternal grandparents, along with my dad and one of my aunts. I still haven’t been able to find my mom, though, mostly because she was only two years old in 1940 and has no recollection of where the family was living. She’s given me a possible part of town, but I haven’t had the patience to flip through all the pages. When I get a chance, I’ll head down to the library and see if I can find an address for the family in an old city directory. Even that might not help, though. I don’t think the family was there for very long.
The other thing preventing me from much research is the weather. It’s been gorgeous! So, we’ve been working on getting our yard in shape and our garden planted. It seems as though a family of robins has located nearby, as we have a repeat visitor to the yard. As I type this, he’s foraging for food, keeping a wary eye on me.
Lastly, I have had my mind on other things. Tomorrow, I officially am a one year survivor of breast cancer. My one year check-up was earlier this week and its approach had me more than a little anxious. I’m happy to report that there is no evidence of cancer, which makes all the chemo and radiation I went through last year totally worthwhile. I find myself breathing just a little easier the last few days. And I’m ready to tackle my research again.
I had to take a break from pursuing my MLIS while I was undergoing treatment, but now that I have the all clear, I’m registered for fall semester. To ease myself back into the learning environment (I attempted to go back to school in January and it was a disaster), I’ve signed up for a continuing education class through the ALA: Genealogy 101. In addition to hopefully learning some new techniques, I’m hoping to be inspired to really delve back into my research, while I still have some spare time to really get into it!
Watch this space! Maybe…
Late last month, I found my great great grandmother’s obituary listed in an index from the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center Library, so I promptly ordered it. It appeared in the Fremont News Messenger on 18 October 1946.
- She’s listed in the obit as Mrs. Lovina Corsen, but those looking for descendants would most likely be looking for her as Lovina Branum. I’ve transcribed it below:
AGED WOMAN DIES IN PORT CLINTON
PORT CLINTON, Oct. 18–Mrs. Lovina Corsen, 88, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Anna Stockwell, here last evening, and the body will be taken to Lancaster, O., where services will be held in Pleasant Hill church Saturday afternoon.
Survivors are a daughter, Mrs. Stockwell, and sons, Frank Branum, here; Edward Branum, LaCarne; Clarence Branum, Marion, and Simon Branum, Amanda, O. Gerner & Wolf, local funeral directors, were in charge of local arrangements.
I was aware that Lovina married William Corsen after my great great grandfather died, as I have her death certificate and I’ve found them in the 1930 census. I was a bit surprised when I saw that someone on Ancestry showed another husband in between, but I was able to confirm that yesterday through marriage records (a post for another day).
Now I’m on the hunt for additional records on her children, including Anna Stockwell. So far, I’ve documented (through marriage licenses) three other marriages besides the one to Mr. Stockwell, and one of those applications mentions yet another husband, with the surname Besis. I’m hoping to get lucky and find some Branum relatives somewhere who can help!
I know this may sound weird, but I guess since I pay for a subscription to Ancestry, I seem to always want to get my money’s worth and I end up forgetting about some of the other resources available.
That has been the case for Family Search. A lot of my research is in Pennsylvania. And until I can actually go to some of the locations I need to visit, I’m limited to what I can do online. Thus far, I haven’t found a lot of helpful information. My ancestors in PA were farmers, in an area that as best as I can tell, is still very rural and not a short drive from much of anywhere. The resources available in that area seem spotty, no matter where I look.
Mind you, I could be wrong. I’m still a relative newbie to all of this. It could very well be that I’m just looking in all the wrong places.
Anyway, in an effort to prove my great great grandmother’s identity through collateral relatives, I ventured back over to Family Search recently. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. I was downright shocked when the very first set of records I viewed turned up exactly what I was looking for, the marriage record of one Ellie S. Ebberts. Yes, I audibly gasped.
Now, it’s possible that this record was there all the time. I’ve only known about Ellie’s existence for a little while now. I had no idea what her married name might be. I’m very lucky that her parents’ names were listed in the record, because they weren’t in her older sister’s earlier marriage record, and both died long before either of the girls were married. That made me certain I’d found the right individual.
This particular record doesn’t really do anything to help me prove my great great grandmother’s identity, other than it’s another small piece of a the puzzle where the Ebberts are concerned. But it definitely serves as a reminder that it’s best to revisit all of the resources at my disposal. Who knows what I might find?
I never met my grandfather’s older sister, even though she lived to be 101 years old. Every time we drove down to Marion, we’d go past her house, but she was never home.
Aunt Grace’s daughter, NJ, has welcomed me with open arms to go through boxes and bins of photos and papers. During my first trip down to visit her, she let me take home several large envelopes, containing various documents so that I could go through them and copy what I wanted. So, I’m definitely thankful for NJ, too!
But Aunt Grace… well, let’s put it this way: were it not for what I found in those envelopes, in Aunt Grace’s own handwriting, I would probably still be trying to figure out what happened to my great grandmother’s siblings. All I had were first names of her two sisters and the names and locations of her two brothers, both of which turned out to be no help in breaking through the brick wall surrounding the identity of their mother. I was at a loss and not sure where to turn, especially because the infamous 1890 census would have likely been the last one either appeared in while still living at home.
So, when I went through the papers in the very last envelope and found detailed information about all of Emma Briggs’ siblings, including names of spouses and children and locations, it’s not surprising that I shed a few tears of gratitude. Aunt Grace started the work on this family history. It’s up to me to carry on where she left off.