Sunday, June 28, 2009

Carnival of Genealogy, 75th Edition—Purnell Houston in the American Revolution

The COG topic for July 1 is “Justice and Independence ”. Since our beginnings as a nation, the United States of America has seen changes with every year, every decade, and every century. Each generation adds growth to our lives, our communities, and our nation. One thing that has never changed, however, is our desire for Justice for those who wrong us and Independence from those who try to oppress us. This edition of the COG will be hosted by Colleen at Orations of OMcHodoy.

For me, July and Independence equals the American Revolution. I have numerous patriots in my family tree; however the most colorful ancestor who has a remarkable pension file is my gggg grandfather Purnell Houston.

Purnell, the son of Robert H. Houston and Mary Purnell, was born on February 1, 1755 in Somerset County, Maryland. Purnell joined a sister, Mary. A year following Purnell’s birth, his mother died. Robert Houston married Priscilla Laws and Purnell and Mary became half siblings to thirteen children.

At the age of twenty, Purnell married Mary Tumlinson or Tomlinson. At that time Purnell traveled to Philadelphia to be an apprentice to Master Young, a saddle maker. In February, 1776, Purnell returned to Sussex County, Delaware having completed his apprenticeship.

The following story of his Revolutionary War service is paraphrased from a sworn statement by Purnell made in a court in Morgantown on October 22, 1832 and is part of his pension file.

In March, 1776, at the age of 21, he volunteered his services as a private in the Revolutionary War under his brother-in-law, Captain John Hazzard. He spent two months in a troop of about 30 soldiers that guarded the Capes of Delaware watching for British ships that were in the waters near the Capes. Following discharge from this service Purnell volunteered, in November, 1776, at Philadelphia for a company of Pennsylvania militia commanded by Captain Chambers which was attached to General Cadwallader's brigade. These troops were raised to guard against the enemy who was over running New Jersey.

In the later part of November or early December, Purnell's company was encamped near Trenton, New Jersey on the opposite side of the River. The enemy was in possession of Trenton and on Christmas Eve, Purnell fought in the famous Battle of Trenton in which the American soldiers crossed over to Trenton and defeated 900 Hessian soldiers. The General in charge of this attack was George Washington. Following the battle, Purnell marched to a place called Blackbird which was located in New Jersey.

In early January, 1777 the troops marched back to Trenton where they held a bridge against the British soldiers. Purnell left at night for Princeton, under the leadership of General George Washington, where they attacked the British. From Princeton his company marched to Somerset Courthouse, to Pluckamin and finally to Morristown which was the winter quarters for the American soldiers. About the last of March, 1777, Purnell's company marched back to Philadelphia were he was discharged.

In April, 1777 an agent of Colonel Bland of the Virginia Cavalry contacted Master Young to attend to the saddles and bridles of the cavalry's horses. Master Young asked Purnell to serve with him for two months in the service of the army from Virginia.

After this term, Purnell joined Master Young as a hand on a ship that was going to Boston from Philadelphia by way of Egg Harbor. On the return to Philadelphia, around Rhode Island, the ship was captured by The Unicorn, a hostile vessel. Purnell was held prisoner for eight or nine weeks. After his release, he went to New London and once again joined the Revolution in service on a brig called the Privateer. Purnell never sailed. He became sick with prison ship fever and was left in New London until the ship returned from duty. In September, 1778 he sailed back to Philadelphia, ending his time of service in the American Revolution.


-Johnston, Ross B., Ed., West Virginians in the Revolution, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 1977, page 138.

-Purnell Houston American Revolution Pension File # S15467

-Tombstone of Purnell Houston, Mt. Union Cemetery, Route 119, Union District, Monongalia County, West Virginia.

-Virdin, Donald O., Houston Family Bible, Delaware Bible Records, Volume I, Heritage Books, page 46.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Godfrey's and the Tate's

One week ago I was sitting at this computer doing the genealogy happy dance. At the last minute, even before packing for our long weekend trip into southwestern Ohio, I was noodling around looking for family in cemeteries down in that area on the net.

When my college roommate told me that we would be visiting a famous cemetery in Dayton, I remembered that one of my husband's aunts lived in Dayton and might be in the very cemetery we would be driving through. The cemetery is Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio. Several of the famous folks interred there are; the Wright Brothers, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Erma Bombeck.

The happy dance began when I found their names on the Woodland website. BTW, this cemetery has a wonderful website and all names are on their search engine. WAHOO!

My husbands great grand aunt and uncle, Peter and Elizabeth Tate Godfrey and their sons, Charles C., John W.H. and William Horace were all buried in Section 32. The REAL FIND was Caroline W. Tate, Elizabeth's mother and my husband's great great grandmother was also buried in this section.

Now for the down side! We arrived at Woodland and using the internet map were able to locate section 32. My brother found the Godfrey section, however only two tombstones were there and they were slowly making their way down a steep hill. This small section of what is a beautifully maintained cemetery is a disgrace. Broken gravemarkers are strewn around and numerous ones have rolled down the hill or are in the process getting there.

I've done this for a long time, so I know that finding anything is a plus and Elizabeth's was available for a photograph. The real disappointment was that there was no stone for Caroline Tate, Ted's great great grandmother. That one would have been my "money" shot!

Family in Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum

Section 32 Lot 2106
Elizabeth Godfrey
Peter Godfrey
Charles C. Godfrey
William Horace Godfrey
John H. W. Godfrey
Caroline W. Tate

Section 84 Lot 1520
Anna T. Godfrey
Harry F. Godfrey
Mary E. Godfrey

Section 102 Lot 1367
Harriet Godfrey

Section 98 Lot 1292
Mary Godfrey
William H. Godfrey

Section 111, Lot 3566, Tier 2, Grave 65
Infants of Fred Leingang

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Graveyard Rabbits Carnival--Alpheus Frum

The “challenge” for the July 2009 edition of the GYR Carnival is obituaries. That’s right! This one is going to be a challenge of sorts. The “rules” are quite simple: Find a grave, then find the obituary, or vice versa.

Destroyed tombstones of Alpheus and Jane Frum

Alpheus Frum, son of Sampson Smith Frum and Elizabeth VanGilder, was born in Monongalia County, (West) Virginia on June 7, 1830.1 He is my 3rd great grand uncle. On February 19, 1854 he married Elizabeth Jane (known as Jane) Hayes in Monongalia County, (West) Virginia.2 The ceremony was performed by Reverend Asby Pool, my 4th great grandfather.

On January 6, 1857, Alpheus and Jane received 32 acres in Monongalia County from the will of Charles Hayes.3 Alpheus farmed land along the Aarons Creek three miles south east of present day Morgantown, West Virginia. Much of the land was given to him by his father, Sampson Frum. Alpheus received 143 acres on Aarons Creek when his father died in 1862.4

Numerous members of my Monongalia County family served with the West Virginia Union Militia during the Civil War. Alpheus was a private with the 14th Militia, Captain L.S. Hayes “B” Company.5

The Frums had six children, however only three lived to adulthood.6

1. Benjamin Franklin Frum b. 25 Feb 1854 d. 08 Sep 1863
2. William Samuel Frum b. 8 June 1855 d. 19 October 1912
3. George Frum b. 8 Feb 1857 d. 1 May 1857
4. Martha Jane Frum b. 02 Jul 1858 d. 29 Sep 1863
5. James Sanford Frum b. 08 Oct 1861 d. 24 Dec 1925
6. John Alpheus Frum b. 30 Apr 1872 d. 11 Oct 1945

Alpheus Frum died on October 6, 1901 and Elizabeth Jane on February 7, 1905.7 They are both buried in the Old Frum Cemetery overlooking Aarons Creek. There is a discrepancy with the obituary which lists the Bell Cemetery as his final resting place. Alpheus’ sister, Margaret Frum, married John Beall, which is sometimes seen as Bell. John and Margaret Frum Beall are buried in the Old Frum Cemetery, but they are they only people with that surname interred there.

Children of Alpheus and Elizabeth Jane also buried in the Old Frum Cemetery are: Benjamin Franklin, George, Martha Jane, and William Samuel.8

On June 14, 1902 the following 133 acres of land was divided among Alpheus’ heirs.9

Jane, his wife received 24 3/8 acres on Aarons Creek
John Alpheus, a son, received 40 1/8 acres on Aarons Creek
James Sanford, a son, received 33 acres on Aarons Creek
William S., a son, received 35 ½ acres on Aarons Creek

I have never had any contact on this line from another researcher. If you connect and want to share information, please contact me.


1. Cemetery Readings in West Virginia: Monongalia County, 1940

2. Robert Poole Wilkins, Frum Family Research.

3. Grantee Index to Deeds, Monongalia County, West Virginia, Volume 1, Page 72.

4. Grantee Index to Deeds, Monongalia County, West Virginia, Volume 4, Page 151.

5. West Virginia Militia Database, Monongalia County, Record ID 13465, Internet Site.

6. Birth and Death Records, Monongalia County, West Virginia.

7. Cemetery Readings in West Virginia: Monongalia County, 1940

8. Cemetery Readings in West Virginia: Monongalia County, 1940

9. Grantee Index to Deeds, Monongalia County, West Virginia, Volume 63, Pages 506-509.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday--Houston's of South Charleston, Ohio

What's that old saying....curiosity killed the cat. (Apologies to all cat lovers out there--remember I have three of them myself.) I hope it doesn't come to that, but I am dying of curiosity to know who is inside the Houston mausoleum. When we were in South Charleston, Ohio this past weekend, Ken and I stopped by the Greenlawn Cemetery, just north of town. Right in the middle was this most impressive burial mausoleum with HOUSTON carved on the front. In my shot it is hidden under the American flag.

The Houston family was one of the primary movers and shakers of the village of South Charleston and Clark County at the turn of the 20th century. This particular branch of my Houston family would be considered my half cousins. The progenitor of the branch stopped by the Morgantown area to see his half brother, Purnell Houston, my gggg grandfather in the early 1800's before settling in Kentucky and then on to Clark County, Ohio and South Charleston.

The mausoleum is an important local landmark
and even has several postcard photos of it!
Original in the possession of my cousin

My half 6th cousin, now living in his great great granduncle's home in South Charleston, was able once to get inside the mausoleum as the key was, for years, in an unknown location. It is still not all that readily accessible to the family. There are photos of the tombs buried inside, plus a listing of the names and dates.

Of the eight spaces, seven are filled. As a family historian I am on a "need to know" mind set at present. Who is in there? We were not able to get inside this visit. I have my fingers crossed that my cousin will locate the photos and written piece of paper. Currently, I am struggling with misplaced items, the primary one being the rather lengthy listing of this very branch of the Houston line!!! So I know how it is. So much little time.

One day I will open my e-mail and there it will be.

Photo with lens pushed against the metal mesh front window

Sunday, June 21, 2009

There and Back Again

Honestly, my brain is cycling from our road trip into southwestern Ohio. I have so many photos to sort through, stories to keep straight, notes to review, and additional research to begin that my poor old brain is just numb.
This trip can best be described as a "growth experience" of the highest degree for both my brother and I. We packed more learning, fun, eating, meeting and love into three days then I ever thought was humanly possible!

A few highlights and then I have to get to bed.

The Houstonia B&B was delightful...great food, down pillows, fascinating stories of family. We toured the Wescott House, a Frank Lloyd Wright, Prairie Style home in Springfield, OH, wandered around Wittenberg College, walked cemeteries, especially the one in South Charleston with a Houston crypt and had dinner at Season's in Springfield--absolutely delicious.

Saturday dawned bright and warm. Our hosts at the B&B turned out to be our 6th cousin and his wife. They were filling in for the owners of the residence who were away. Our cousin and his wife were so warm and sharing. We swaped family tales of our mutual ancestors from the Houston line and their generous hospitality included a vist to their home on Sunday.

Our next stop Saturday was my college roomie's home outside Dayton, Ohio which she shares with a very special partner named Lee. Anne and Lee squired us around Dayton, lunch, a visit to Anne's old house in the historic district of Dayton, which by the way, is haunted by a former owner (that is certainly blogging material if there ever was one!), photographing tombstones in the best cemetery I have ever been in, a stop to see a Frank Lloyd Wright designed office in their area and back home for a delicious menu prepared by Anne and Lee.

Lee is an expert gardner and woodworker. Her talent constructing inlaid wooden boxes and intricate carved frames is beyond compare, plus she can pour a guest a full glass of wine! Anne's culinery expertise is second to none. The meal was beautifully executed and everything was delicious. And to think, she and Lee are hosting a Texas Barbeque in September and I'm invited!!!!

Today, following our breakfast, we headed over to our cousins home a block from the B&B. Here I must say that I have toured MANY turn of the century homes, but I have NEVER seen woodwork like is found in their home! They have been able to purchase a family home that was built by their great great granduncle....something I can only dream of ever doing! Hospitality with the Houston descendants is spelled with a capital "H" in South Charleston. Warm home and warm hearts greeted us and we spent hours swapping more stories and getting to know each other.

So much for a "short" overview of my weekend. More will follow in detail as I unravel the blogs beginning to take shape in my mind.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Festival of Postcard 2nd Edition: Main Street

Evelyn Yvonne Theriault over at A Canadian Family Acadian and French-Canadian Genealogy has come up with a second topic for the 2nd Edition of the Festival of Postcards: Main Street.

     I purchased two old photo postcards on ebay that feature the street where my great grandparents lived in Woodlawn, Pennsylvania in Beaver  County. Certainly not the main street of the town, but it’s a “main” street to me.

     John George Hughes and Elizabeth Olesen Hughes and son, George Henry Hughes moved to Woodlawn about 1915 to 131 Spring Street. Woodlawn was a company town owned by the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company. In an attempt to keep the various ethnic groups separated, the company divided the town into 12 numbered plans. Police patrolled the areas to keep the workers from straying into another plan and fraternizing. 

     My Hughes family lived in Plan 10 at 131 Spring Street until about 1937, years after the death of John George Hughes. Elizabeth’s brother, Bill Olesen and perhaps her brother-in-law, Rowland Richards lived in the house. Following John’s death in 1920, Elizabeth’s mother, Ferdinanda (Ann) Olesen immigrated from England and joined her daughter and son at 131 Spring Street.

     Two different views of Spring Street are pictured in the postcards. One card actually shows a decent view of my great grandparents end unit. One of the few photos taken in Woodlawn, features my great grandmother standing in front of 131 Spring Street. Notice that the vine growth around the front porch in the picture is also shown on the postcard.

     I have also added a photograph of 131 Spring Street taken from my car window during a visit several summers ago. The entire street is now a slum area and frankly the current residents were not too pleased that we were slowing down and taking pictures.

Also on Flipside

-HUGHES, JOHN GEORGE AND ELIZABETH OLESEN HUGHES--131 Spring Street, Woodlawn, Pennsylvania

HUGHES, JOHN GEORGE--Court Testimony

-HUGHES JOHN GEORGE--Court Revisited

-HUGHES, JOHN GEORGE--Happy Dance Photos

-HUGHES, JOHN GEORGE--Burial Information

-HUGHES, JOHN GEORGE--Did my Paternal Great Grandfather Have Additional Sibling(s)


Updated October 2022

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. All comments are welcome; however, if they are inappropriate, they will not be published.    PLEASE post your e-mail in the comment section if you would like to network about a particular surname or topic. I will capture it for my use only and not include it when I publish your comment.
© 2009, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Father's Day


Thursday, June 18, 2009


Tomorrow morning my brother and I will share the old Hughes vacation rhyme…”Grab your shoes and grab your socks. Everybody hit the docks!” Strange, I know. Every summer vacation as kids, my Dad would begin the journey with this little ditty that I’m sure he made up. If we were traveling from place to place, then each day we would hear him wake us up with his little poem.

Tomorrow’s road trip takes us down into southern Ohio. While googling my Houston surname one evening up came
Houstonia, a B&B down in South Charleston, Ohio which was the former home of a 2 or 3 times removed cousin, Foster Houston. When I saw that website, a neon sign began blinking in my head….ROAD TRIP….ROAD TRIP. My brother, Ken is ALWAYS ready and willing in the summer to take off for places unknown….a built in, top notch, travel companion if there ever was one!

The itinerary for the three days includes visiting the Old Grist Mill in Clifton, Ohio, touring a Frank Lloyd Wright home in Springfield, Ohio, wandering around the town of South Charleston, Ohio, visiting cemeteries in South Charleston and Springfield (I did mention what an indulgent fellow Ken is—wink wink), AND driving down to Dayton, Ohio and spending the day with my college roommate, Anne. She has planned to show us some of the historical areas and, of course, a cemetery in Dayton--I hope and believe it is Woodland Cemetery. Anne is a fantastic cook and will be preparing what I am sure, is going to be one of the BEST meals I have ever eaten in my life.

As my day has progressed and I have given even more thought to this trip, something about a cemetery in Dayton has been stirring in my brain. I had to open up FTM and search around my husband's roots and lo and behold, the very cemetery we will be visiting is the final resting place of some of Ted's greats--his great great grandmother, great grand aunt and uncle and various first cousins twice removed. From the photos on line it looks to have some pretty remarkable monuments.

This all sounds so exciting, that I can’t wait until tomorrow. You all know that this will be great blogging material. Miss Snap Happy's camera is charged. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday--The Barefoot Peters Angel

This beautiful monument is not from my family. Whenever I drive to and from work, I can see it from the road. The Barefoot Peters Angel is located in The Evergreen Cemetery, Westlake Ohio on Center Ridge Road. There is a photo of it in Vicki Blum Vigil’s “Cemeteries of Northeast Ohio” on page 52.

While looking up death certificates for the Peter's family, I noticed that at the turn of the 20th century, Evergreen Cemetery was called Dover Cemetery and was located in what was then called Dover, Ohio.

Those buried in front of it are:

Paul Peters

Nicholas Petrasc (Peters)--Father
Wagoner 4 Cav
November 25, 1936

William Peters

Anna Peters

Elizabeth Peters

I have not had time to do a full research of this family. Nicholas and Anna Peters were married and Nicholas was a shoemaker. Paul and Elizabeth were married and Paul was employed as a gardener. William was single. All were born in Romania and I am guessing that the men were brothers.

Someone from the family changes the floral bouquet held by the angel with the seasons. Vicki Vigil mentions in her book that many folks can see a bird if you look carefully at the angel's hair. Take time to click on the photo to see the enlarged version.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Madness--Frederick Gibler/Kibler

There is an on going debate among VanGilder researchers that I addressed in the John VanGilder from Cape Girardeau, Missouri blog. It concerns whether or not the John VanGilder from the Morgantown, West Virginia area circa 1800-1806 is the same John VanGilder living in Cape Girardeau, Missouri beginning about 1808's. I am beginning to think that the answer to the question involves Frederick Gibleror Frederick Kibler.

A tanner with the name of Frederick Gibler lived in Morgantown and is also found in Cape Girardeau at the same time as John VanGilder. To add to the puzzle is Frederick's surname, which happens to be the same as John VanGilder's mother's maiden name--Gibler or sometimes written, Kibler.

I have had bits and pieces of this research sitting on the back burner for almost a decade and have decided it is time to drag it out and begin working on it again.

I am hoping that someone out there might wander onto this blog who relates to Frederick Gibler of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, although from tax and census records in Missouri, it does not appear that he lived there all that long. He either moved on or died.

Maybe we can finally get this brick wall behind us.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun--Small World Department

This Saturday Randy over at Gena-Musings has posted our task--1) Think of three things that you learned about Genealogy or Family History today and 2) Tell us about them in a blog post or a comment to this post.

This falls under the small world department. I was at work ringing up a customer. I noticed her last name was FIFE. When I had finished with her sale, I mentioned that I was a genealogist and that one of my surnames was Fife. The customer became very excited, telling me that her husband's Fife's lived in East Liverpool, Ohio. I told her that mine were up in Madison Township, Columbiana County, Ohio and the chances were good that they were from the same original Fife's in Upper St. Clair, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Now, I really had her interest! She told me that her husband's descended from William and John Fife. And my response do mine.

She gave me her card and I told her to say hello to her husband---my cousin.

My three new genealogy items are:
1. I met the wife of a cousin who was new to me
2. I learned of the Fife's who lived in East Liverpool, Ohio
3. I learned where these Fife's were buried.

It was a good day at work ;-)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Carnival of Genealogy 74th Edition--Annual Swimsuit Edition

Carnival of Genealogy 74th Edition—Annual Swimsuit Edition. Back by popular demand, the topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Swimsuit Edition! Why should Sports Illustrated have all the fun? This edition of the COG will be hosted at Creative Gene.      Years back my Dad’s cousin, Kae Billick, sent me this photo of their mutual aunt, Mary Louise VanGilder, known to family as “Bobs.” She was the daughter of George Ethelbert VanGilder and Jessie Pool, born March 9, 1894 in Morgantown, West Virginia. During a telephone interview, Kae told me that Bobs was a flapper during the Roaring Twenties. She was the older sister of my Grandmother Hughes and as you can tell from this photograph postcard, loved to have fun.   A couple of years ago, as I was surfing around the ancestry newspaper site, I happened upon the collection of old newspapers from Charleroi, Pennsylvania. Unbeknownst to me, there was a gold mine waiting for me to explore in that collection. 

     My Great Grandmother VanGilder, all of her sisters and even a couple of articles about her daughter, my Grandmother Hughes, were hiding there. I also found the newspaper article above which explains the photo postcard of my bathing beauty.

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. All comments are welcome; however, if they are inappropriate, they will not be published.    PLEASE post your e-mail in the comment section if you would like to network about a particular surname or topic. I will capture it for my use only and not include it when I publish your comment.
© 2009, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Thursday, June 11, 2009

For Greta---Language of Cats

My blogging buddy, Greta, over at Greta's Bog, has had a series called Language of Cats and comes up with some pretty clever titles....with, I understand, the assistance of her husband. I don't know, Greta....all I can come up with for this one is....."punch drunk" or "bowl-ing".

I think a little history is needed here because, after all, this is a blog!

My brother, Jeff, took this photo for a photography class in college. I am guessing that the cat is Mame, as my mother had a penchant for naming her cats from Broadway shows. Addendum: Jeff just called and the cat is Zip, a song in the show, Pal Joey and the photo was taken in 1976.

The photo has been a comical, fav of our family since it was taken. The humor....Mame has decided to take her afternoon nap in one of our treasured family heirlooms.....a turn of the century, American Brilliant Period, cut crystal punch bowl complete with buzz stars, pinwheels, fans, hob stars and a pedestal. My mother told me that it belonged to her mother, Martha Marie Frederick Stark and was used for family gatherings. It came into my possession when Ted and I purchased our first home. I have three cats and none of them has chosen the punch bowl as a place to repose!

P.S. And yet another springboard from Greta's Bog....boys, this is one you DON'T sell when I am gone!!! ;-)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun on Sunday Night

I know it is Sunday, but I am just getting around to Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Fun over at Genea-Musings . It looked like such a good time, that I am doing it tonight.

This weekends task is to find out with of your ancestors were alive in 1909, tell where your ancestral families were living in 1909. What country, state, county, city/town, etc. Who was in the family at the time? Use the 1910 census as "close enough" and have you found each of these families in the 1910 census?

Paternal Ancestors

John and Elizabeth Hughes (great grandparents) were living at 2403 Wright Alley, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (South Side) with my grandfather, George Henry Hughes.

Ferdinanda Olesen (great great grandmother) was living at 73 South Parade, West Hartlepool, England.

George Henry and Ann Storey Hughes (great great grandparents) were living at 70 Florence Street, West Hartlepool, England.

Jessie Pool VanGilder (great grandmother) was living in Morgantown, West Virginia with her four daughters, Mary Louise, Anna Estelle, Sarah Margaret (my grandmother) and Jessica Virginia VanGilder.

Sampson Frum Pool and Sarah Louise Harner Pool (great great grandparents) They were living on their farm in the Morgan District, Monongalia County, West Virgina. Sampson died December 14, 1909

William Lanham Pool (great great great grandfather) was living on his farm in the Clinton District, Monongalia County, West Virginia.

Maternal Ancestors

Alfred Frederick (great grandfather) and Lucinda B. Orr were living at 67 Jackson, Bellevue, Pennsylvania with Martha (my grandmother). Lucinda died on December 15, 1909 at home.

Wilhelmina Stark (great grandmother) was living at 530 Marie Avenue, Avalon, Pennsylvania. Living with her were Charles E. (my grandfather), his brother, Alfred and sister, Dorothy Stark.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Janice Brown Puckerbrush Blog Award of Excellence

Thank you Greta over at Greta’s Genealogy Bog for sending me this prestigious award. It is particularly special coming from you, a fellow genablogger who continually has exciting, innovative and educational blogs. AND, you love cats! So often I find ideas as a springboard for my own writing over on your blog. I am honored.

The Puckerbrush Award was conceived by Terry Thornton over at
Hill County of Monroe County Mississippi and the details are on his blog .

This is my listing of the ten blogs that I am giving The Puckerbrush Blog Award of Excellence to. You have all inspired me. Congratulations to you all and pass the award along.

1. Lori E at
Stories of My Ancestors
2. Lori E at
Family Trees May Contain Nuts
3. Sheri at
The Educated Genealogist
4. Linda at
Exploring Almost Forgotten Gravesites in Ohio
5. Terri at
The Ties that Bind
6. Jo at
Wibbling Jo’s Genealogy Blog
7. Olive’s Granddaughter at
Grandma’s Stitches
8. Courtney at
My Family Puzzle
9. Alana at
A Twig In My Tree
10. Evelyn at
A Canadian Family

Friday, June 5, 2009

Smile for the Camera--Wedding Belles

The word prompt for the 14th Edition of Smile for the Camera is Wedding Belles. Historically, couples married in the month of June to honor Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage. Others did it to time conception so births wouldn't interfere with harvest work. And brides in the 15th century chose to marry in June because it coincided with their "annual bath" - that's right - ensuring a relatively sweet-smelling honeymoon.

When I began working on this blog, I quickly realized that I did not have many wedding photos in my genealogy cache of family pictures. My Mom and Dad did not have a white wedding dress ceremony. They were married during World War II when my Dad was in medical school. Their ceremony was small, only family attended, and my Mom wore a new suit. There were no photos taken of either of my grandparents weddings. I think the only family wedding photos, other than my own, are those from the marriage of my Aunt Faith and Uncle Ed in 1955. I was the flower girl.

Then I remembered the professional wedding photograph of my mother’s first cousin, Dorothy Wilma Cooper. After my mother’s death in 1999, I was going through her closets and ran across a box that was filled with her memorabilia. In a manila envelope there was a wedding photo. It was the marriage of my mother’s first cousin, Dorothy Wilma Cooper to Samuel Milton Richards.
Dottie and Samuel married on Halloween, October 31, 1946 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Two of her attendants were her first cousins, my mother, Martha Jean Stark Hughes and Lorraine Wilma Miller.

The name Wilma is common in this generation of cousins as their grandmother was Wilhelmina Stark. Three of the five girl cousins had Wilma as a first or middle name.

I first met “Cousin” Dottie in the mid 1990’s. She was so welcoming and shared numerous family stories and photos of our mutual Stark side of the tree. Once, when we were talking about the family, she showed me the photo of her wedding and shared the following story.

Dottie asked my mother to be one of her attendants. Several months before the wedding day, my mother became pregnant with me causing some concern that Mom would not fit into her gown by the end of October.

The knowledge of this story makes the wedding photo very special to me….after all; I was also in the wedding party!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

John VanGilder of Cape Girardeau County, Missouri—Ours or another Family’s?

Remember “Where’s Waldo”? John VanGilder, son of Jacob VanGilder and Anna Margaret Gibler or Kibler has become an equally illusive character. In most of the VanGilder family research pieces that have come across my desk, John “went west”. No further research was ever done as to just where in the west he went.

There is a letter dated 1925 written by Ezra Morgan,1 a great grandson of Jacob and Anna Margaret. Ezra writes about his recollections of the VanGilder ancestry. In the letter he tells of John VanGilder who went to the state of Iowa, married and had a son, also named John. Ezra remembers that in 1862, John VanGilder, the son, visited the family in West Virginia. The letter can be used for clues and as a springboard for further research as there are many inaccuracies in the names, dates and places. Ezra was 79 years old when he wrote the letter.

The only John VanGilder that I was able to locate in early census reports was one who lived in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. Adding to the interest in this John VanGilder is that Cape Girardeau County is located on the Mississippi River. A story passed down through the generations in the VanGilder family was the tragedy of James VanGilder who drowned in the Mississippi River following a visit with his brother, John.2 The accident occurred after 1840 and before 1850.

The John VanGilder in my family tree was born about 1789 in Maryland, the first known son of Jacob and Anna Margaret VanGilder. Determined from birth records of the next three children, the VanGilder’s decided to join the pioneer movement west after 1797. They left Frederick County, Maryland and traveled on dirt trails and paths over the Allegheny Mountains (probably partially following what was to become the National Road or Cumberland Road) to Monongalia County (West) Virginia, settling in the area of present day Morgantown.

The earliest documentation for the family is a Monongalia County Court record dated 1800--Jacob Van Gilder was ordered to work on the road from Morgantown by Robert Hill's house into the Uniontown Road. Jacob was to be the surveyor.3

Another court record reads, 1804 appearance by Jacob Vangilder who wanted his stolen dog "Scent" returned. Other family members called to testify were son, John and daughter Mary.4 Jacob did not get his dog back!

In a property tax record for 1806 there are two males over 18 years of age listed for Jacob VanGilder.5 One would be Jacob and the other must be his son, John. The tax record for 1810 only lists one male over age 18.6 Has son John VanGilder gone west?

The next piece of interesting information is in the book, “The History of Southeast Missouri”. On page 413 there is a petition dated in the summer of 1808 requesting the court to appoint commissioners for the town of Cape Girardeau.7 One of the petitioners is John VanGilder and listed directly above him is Frederick Gibler.

Back to Morgantown. “The Monongalia Story: II The Pioneers” by Earl L. Core shows an early map of the town of Morgantown, (West) Virginia. Frederick Gibler owned Lot 125 along the Monongahela River. Frederick, a tanner, was the first owner of the lot and could have been in Morgan’s Town after 1785.8 There is a Monongalia tax record for Frederick Gibler in 1805, which lists that there are two males over age 18in the home.9 Is Frederick Gibler a relation of Anna Margaret Gibler/Kibler VanGilder? If so, could he be John Van Gilder’s grandfather or more likely his uncle.

Did Frederick leave Morgantown first, removing to Cape Girardeau County, Missouri and John followed a year or two later or did they travel together? On page 411 in the “History of Southeast Missouri,” Frederick Gibler is listed as an early resident, but not John.10 Was it Frederick Gibler, the tanner, who removed to Missouri or could he have had a son, also named Frederick, who would have been about John’s age according to the Monongalia tax records, that is the Missouri early settler? Were the Frederick Gibler and John VanGilder in Cape Girardeau cousins?

I will mention here that Jacob and Anna Margaret VanGilder did name their second son, Frederick….perhaps for Frederick Gibler. I also want to make note that Anna Margaret’s maiden name is in question. On the pension file papers for Jacob VanGilder it appears that her name was listed as Kibler and someone printed a letter “G” over the “K”.11

Over the years I have been contacted by numerous descendants of John VanGilder from Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. To date they have not been able to make a documented connection to the West Virginia VanGilder roots that stem from Jacob and Anna Margaret. This is one of my genealogy conundrums that will take much more research and perhaps will never been resolved.

I am generally not a betting person; however, I am placing my money on the Cape Girardeau County, John VanGilder, as belonging to my VanGilder line.


1. Ezra Morgan letter dated December 18, 1925

2. Marion County, Historical Society, Inc., A History of Marion County West Virginia 1985, Walsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1986, page 323

3. Melba Pender Zinn, “Monongalia County, (West) Virginia Records of the District and County Courts, Volume 4 1800-1802, 1810,” Heritage Books, June 1800 Court

4. Melba Pender Zinn, “Monongalia County, (West) Virginia Records of the District, Superior and County Courts, Volume 5, 1802-1805,” Heritage Books, 132a.

5. Monongalia County Records of District and County Courts, Monongalia County (West) Virginia Personal Property Taxes, 1806.

6. Monongalia County Records of District and County Courts, Monongalia County (West) Virginia Personal Property Taxes, 1810.

7. Robert Sidney Douglass, “History of Southeast Missouri: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, It's People and It's Principal Interests,” Volume 1, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1912, page 413.

8. Earl L. Core, “The Monongalia Story A Bicentennial History: II The Pioneers,” McClain Printing Company, Parsons, West Virginia, 1976, pages 126, 195, 206.

9. Melba Pender Zinn, “Monongalia County, (West) Virginia Records of the District, Superior and County Courts, Volume 2 1800-1803,” Heritage Books, 2007, pages 62, 87, 119, and 142.

10. History of Southeast Missouri, p 411.

11. Revolutionary War Pension File, Jacob VanGilder, R 10868.