Archive for the ‘Surnames’ Category

Mom's senior class photo

Mom’s senior class photo

My mother passed away last week. She was only 74, but she had been battling lupus for nearly two decades and it had taken its toll on her liver. There is a very long and upsetting story that goes along with her decline, but this is not the place for it. It is upsetting enough that she is gone.

My mom was born in 1938 in Toledo, Ohio. She spent most of her childhood near Marion, but moved back to Toledo when she was in high school. Her father, Howard Eben Foster, was a musician and Mom took up both cello and trombone (the latter of which Grandpa also played). She loved music, particularly jazz and big band. When I first got satellite radio in my car, I would play 40s on 4 with her in the car and with every new song I’d grill her, “Who’s this?” She told me, “I don’t know ALL of them.”

Music is one of the biggest ways I bonded with Mom. I started to play trombone in junior high. I was in concert band, marching band and jazz band and Mom was at all of my concerts. When I was a freshman, our high school invited the Ohio University Marching Band to play the halftime show at our football game while they were on their way to their own event. Volunteers were sought to host members of the band overnight. My mom gladly agreed to host three, including at least one trombone player, in our tiny two-bedroom apartment. I’m not sure what those guys thought of us, but I know we were thrilled to have them there.

I spent a lot of time following a few rock bands around the country, and got to know the band members of one of them, enough to be listed in the liner notes of their CD. Mom supported that particular band nearly as much as I did. I will never forget how when I first played their single for her, she burst into tears. She didn’t know why, other than the music just affected her so much. I know exactly how she felt. It happens to me frequently.

My mom had a wonderfully close relationship with my sons, mostly due to the fact that I was a single mom when they were born. When I became a single mom again after my husband died, Mom stepped up to help out however she could. She rooted for the Chicago Cubs, through good times and bad, right along with the rest of us. She was my representative at games I couldn’t get to because of work. She was back up transportation and she was the cooler head to vent to during those oh-so-stressful teen years.

I think it’s safe to say that 2013 hasn’t been kind. I didn’t mention it at the time because he’s neither a Foster or a Branum, but I just lost my dad in April. I’m still grieving over that loss and now this. 🙁

I really don’t know what I’ll do without either of them.


Gladys Evelyn Branum Foster and her first grandchild

Gladys Evelyn Branum Foster and her first grandchild


When my grandmother passed away in 2001, her death certificate pronounced her birth place as Lancaster, PA. This was my first mystery. Grandma was the third of four children. Her siblings were Twila Mae, Samuel Louis and William Denzil Branum.

Of the four kids, two were listed as having been born in Ohio, and Samuel (Louis) was born in West Virginia. That was logical. The family lived in Ohio, but my great grandmother was originally from West Virginia. It’s entirely conceivable (no pun intended) that she was back home when Louis was born. But the Pennsylvania thing really confused me. Not at first, mind you, because my grandfather’s family were from Pennsylvania and when I first started out, I had everyone jumbled in my head. But slowly, it began to dawn on me that there was something amiss.

And then I had a “Duh!” moment and realized that my grandmother and her family were living in Lancaster, Ohio at the time. (In my defense, I never heard anything about Lancaster growing up—I was always told Grandma was from Marion.)

Grandma went back and forth between Ohio and Florida quite a bit. I remember riding in the car, driving down to see her. This was back in the day when seat belts were just a suggestion at best. I was the youngest, so I slept on the package shelf of the car. I have a vague recollection of being sick when we were down there for one trip, but I don’t recall if it was the same visit. I know that on one visit, there was a hurricane that came through, aptly named Hurricane Gladys. I don’t remember much about that, though.

Grandma lived with us for a while before my parents divorced. My memories of this time are fuzzy, but I have a clear recollection of being with her in the car and her telling me that the turn signals talked. “Listen,” she said, “it’s saying ‘Right turn, right turn, right turn, right turn.” A few minutes later, she told me it was saying, “Left turn, left turn, left turn, left turn.” I still think of that when I’m waiting for a traffic light.

Today, July 16, Grandma would have celebrated her 100th birthday. I would have liked to have seen that. Happy Birthday, Grandma!


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!


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…

Mrs. Lovina Corsen


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:


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 failed in my resolution to blog every week before I even got started.

Research is non-existent at the moment. I’m trying to get my office reorganized in between readings for both of my classes. However, I’d logged in here to share a handy tip and in typical fashion for me, it led to something else, which led to something else and so on… much like genealogy itself.

I learned yesterday that if you highlight text in the browser Firefox, you can then drag that text into a form or document that you’re working on. No right clicking or Ctrl-C /Ctrl-V required. Just highlight, drag and let go. So, I thought “What a great idea for moving some of the information I have in Ancestry into my RootsMagic database! ”

Well, it didn’t work. I tried it on my g-g-grandmother, Lovina Seifert, because I have *some* info on her in Ancestry, but I have none for her in RootsMagic. I highlighted the text for her date of birth and tried to drag it in, to no avail. Of course.

So, I figured I’d at least copy some of the info I had on her while I was there. Baby steps, right? In the process, I discovered I was missing some census records, so I went searching. Lo and behold, I found an index for her obituary! That link led me to the Hayes Center site, which I admittedly have not explored as much as I should. And there, I found a link to order a copy of my g-g-grandmother’s obituary!

I think I’ve said before (or at least I meant to): distraction can be a good thing sometimes.



Gladys Evelyn Branum FosterOne of my biggest genealogy regrets is not taking the time to sit down with this lady and learn more about her past. My grandmother would have been 98 years old today. She was born 16 July 1913, in Lancaster, Ohio, the third of four children born to Cora Ellen KITTLE and Samuel Clarence BRANUM.

I don’t think her life was easy. Her parents were divorced when she was still in school. She didn’t have a good relationship with her father at all, and from what I’ve been told, she pretty much wrote him off.

She lived in Florida for a time and I have vague recollections of going to visit her there. One time, we went to visit her as Hurricane Gladys was hitting the area. What are the odds?

This was back in the days when kids didn’t need to ride in car seats, and although it was probably a different trip (one with my mom, cousins and uncle), I remember sleeping in the package shelf of the car on the trip down. Craziness!

She was married twice. Her first marriage, to Roger MINYOUNG, ended in divorce. She had a son, Charles, whom I don’t recall ever meeting. (Part of the reason I’m so interested in this side of my family is because of the lack of connections between various relatives.)

She remarried in 1935, to my grandfather, Howard FOSTER. He died before I was before I was born, as mentioned in a previous post. The had three more children together, including my mom.

Grandma was in and out of our lives throughout the years, taking care of us while my mom worked just prior to my own parents’ divorce. She and her sister Twila were in Florida a lot, I think. And she’d be in Marion as well. I think one of the things I need to do is get her kids to help me pinpoint a timeline of where she was and when. There is a lot I don’t know about my grandma, and I would really like to fix that.

Her last few years, she lived with my mom. I regret that I didn’t try to get to know her better. She wasn’t very mobile then, but her sense of humor was still intact and she could get a gleam in her eye… I can only hope I’ve inherited her sharp mind.

Happy Birthday, Grandma! I really miss you.

Emma Briggs FosterFinally! A birthday! On this date in 1868, my great grandmother, Emma Adelia Briggs was born in Blairs Mills, Pennsylvania (Huntingdon county) to John B. Briggs and… well, more on that later.

Emma, according to the notes of her daughter, Grace Foster Seckel, moved to Marion, Ohio and worked in a dress shop. Eventually, she married Samuel Blocksom Foster. The information I have states they were married on 22 May 1889, but I have yet to find a record that confirms that. As I stated in the post about my grandfather, Emma and Samuel had four children together.

Emma lived to see her 81st birthday and then died two days later on March 13, 1949.

This photo is courtesy of Grace Foster Seckel’s daughter (I will not name living people here without their permission). I think she looks about 15 years old, but I could be wrong. I’d be interested in hearing any other opinions on the subject. Feel free to leave a comment here if you have anything to say.

Emma’s mother is a bit of a mystery and it’s one that I will discuss in multiple future posts. I’ll start this evening by mentioning that the 1870 census shows John B. Briggs living with his wife Adaline and three children, Alfred, Emma (who was 3 at the time) and Thomas, whose age was listed as five months. Remember this fact, because it’s going to show up in another post very soon.

Gravestone of Samuel and Lovina Branum, Fairfield County (Ohio)

I feel like I’ve fallen into a rut already, only posting on death anniversaries. I promise that’s not true. Right now, I’m back in school and it’s easier to get a post up when I have a specific event to mention, than to write something more detailed about the research that’s going on. Truth be told, I don’t have a lot of time for research during the semester–although I’ve been known to procrastinate for several hours by nosing around or Family Search.

Anyway, today is yet another one of those death anniversaries. It’s been 92 years since my great great grandfather, Samuel Branum, passed away. The Branums are another name I haven’t done a lot of research on yet, and I have a feeling when I do it’s going to be tough. For starters, there are three Samuel Branums that I know of thus far: Samuel (the first), Samuel Clarence (known as Clarence) and Samuel Louis (known as Louis). To say that it causes a little confusion in my own mind is an understatement. Trying to explain it to others? Sheesh.

What I know about Samuel is that his parents were Allen Branum and Charlotte Huston. They lived near/in Lancaster, Ohio. He married Lovina (possibly Lavina) Seifert in about 1879. They had five children that I’m aware of, including my great grandfather, Samuel Clarence (the womanizer mentioned in an earlier post, according to family members). Samuel and Lovina appeared to have relocated to northern Ohio before his death, as he actually died in Erie Township in Ottawa county and his death certificate is signed by a doctor in Port Clinton. It appears Lovina remarried after his death and remained in that area, but was buried with Samuel in Fairfield county.

In the small amount of research I’ve done on the Branum name, I haven’t yet found a connection between my Branums and a large group that existed in Missouri. But they seem to have had a large family within Ohio and I expect that a lot of them still in Ohio are cousins of mine.

I had a chance to visit the cemetery where Samuel, Lovina and Allen Branum were buried and snapped the photo of the gravestone above. Unfortunately, the day that I was editing and uploading many of the photos I shot on that trip, my house was burglarized and my computer was stolen when I left my house for an hour. This was one of the few that I managed to salvage as it had already been uploaded to Ancestry’s site.

So, I will be making another trip to Fairfield county, hopefully sometime this spring, to retake those photos I lost.