Monday, November 9, 2015

The Other William, Kate and George

     William, Kate and George are in my family tree.  While it is not the Royal William, Kate and George, they are another piece of the puzzle solved.  There is even a younger sister for George, mine is named Elba.  In a previous post from 11/27/13 I had hypothesized that the William and Kate I had found may possibly be related to me.  After further research I am more convinced that this is factual.
     William Arthur SMITH married Katie G. McELROY on 7 Dec 1890 In Rocky Ford, Otero County, according to the State of Colorado Marriage Record Report.  The ceremony was performed by a Presbyterian Minister, Samuel BARBER.  This is interesting to note because my grandma says that grandpa was raised a Catholic.  I believe that I'm on the right track here and these are my 2nd great grandparents because in the 1900 US Federal Census George W. SMITH is living with William, Katie and his sister Elba in Teller County, Colorado.
     William is listed as a teamster, born in Missouri, Nov 1858.  Katie came from Ireland in 1885 and was born Feb 1868.  She only has 2 children of which 2 are still living.  George, born Jun 1891, is going to school in Teller County, Colorado but no school record was located at the Colorado State Archives.  Elba, born Nov 1896, is too young for school.  At this time it is not know if there are any other children.
     In 1917 George completed a WWI Draft Registration Card listing his wife and mother as dependents, but not his father.  Why is that?  Was his father not in the area?  Was his mother living with him at that time?  The card also gives George's residence as Maxwell, Colfax, New Mexico.
     By 1930, the US Federal Census enumerates my SMITH family as living in Arriola, Montezuma, Colorado.  George has four kids and his father William is living with him, but not his mother.  William's marital status is listed as widow, so sometime between 1917 and 1930 Katie has passed away.  Of interesting note in this census is the name of the next household - John J. SMITH.  Is this a brother or another relative?  The family appears to be in the same place in the 1940 census, having added another child and the oldest son, George W. SMITH, Jr.'s young family is living in the household, but not William.  William seems to have passed away before 1940.
     Next search takes me to  There is a memorial there for Katherine G. SMITH (1870-1919) and William A. SMITH. (1858-1924), both are interned at Valley View Cemetery in Rocky Ford, Otero, Colorado, but nothing else is listed.  No obituaries are found, no more online records.  I decide to take a trip to the cemtery in Rocky Ford.
     My trip to Rocky Ford is not as fruitful as I had hoped.  I visited the cemetery and found the headstones.  I went to the cemetery office and obtained the death dates Katie's being 5/28/1919 and William's being 7/23/1934.  Where did Katie pass away?  I assume William passed away in Arriola.  Where can I look for obits for them?  The local historical museum has no newspaper records available for the time period that I need.
     Not yet wanting to stop looking, I go to the Colorado State Archives and look at the microfilm for Otero County Marriage Certificates.  Bingo!  I find it, the marriage certificate for William and Kate.  Witnesses were a Mr. and Mrs. H.W. POTTER.  How did they know my grandparents?  That's not it though, another random search at the Denver Public Library country record books brings me across a land patent book that shows Katie McELROY had land in 1891 in Otero county, the same year she was married.  Was it a homestead she started with help from her family and William married her?    Other McELROY's in the area are Patrick and Francis (Frank).  Are they relatives?
     So I have some further leads to look into.  How are the Potter's tied into my family.  Are the McEloy's and John Smith related?  Where did Elba go?  I'd like to try for a death certificate and obit.
     Thank you for completing this long post read.  I had a lot to share and work through.  I wanted to map out what I discovered and develop a story.  Thanks again. Until next time.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Experiencing Flight

     In 2004 I spent a weekend in Savannah, Georgia for a mini-vacation with my husband.  My youngest daughter referred to it as our honeymoon.  We did make a sort of honeymoon out of it.  Staying on Tybee Island, having a dinner cruise, walking around Savannah, truly enjoying our time.   
     While there, we also visited the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum.  As our visit took place late in winter we mostly had the place to ourselves.  We wondered around looking at the memorials, displays and artifacts when we came across the Mission Experience exhibit.  The final part of that presentation takes you on a flight simulation as an observer.  During the last part of the flight the plane takes fire, the voice coming over the intercom says "We're hit, everyone bailout."  When I hear this my stomach knots up and I wonder how my grandpa felt when he heard those words.
     On August 6, 1944, over Berlin Germany, 154 B-17s are hitting designated targets of factories and airfields.  In one of those planes, SGT John R. SMITH, a waist-gunner, is flying his 13th mission.  According to official reports the plane was hit by flak at 20,000 feet knocking out an engine that then caught on fire.  The plane hit the ground about 20 miles southwest of Berlin.  The crew was gathered up, sent for debriefing in a local Berlin jail and then sent to Stalag Luft VI.  Three months later John was transferred to Stalag Luft IV in Poland.  Staying there until Feb. 6, 1945 when all prisoners were forced to evacuate with the advancement of the Russian Army.  Most of the prisoners were forced on a 51 days forced march out of Poland towards Germany until liberated by American soldiers.  Still others were put onto railroad cars and transfered inside German lines, being left in the boxcars until they too were liberated by American troops.
     71 years later I want to share the best story that I can about my grandfather's experience.  My mom told me of my grandpa being a POW when I was doing my senior high school project, because my project was about the concentration camps of WWII.  My grandma said he never talked about what happened.  It appears he never told anyone about what happened, or at least I never found anyone who knew the story.  I've pieced together different sources and memories, but have many holes to fill to get a better story.
     I wanted to quickly commemorate this day for grandpa, and I plan to put together something to share with my family.  This is a snippet for now, enjoy.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 1

I have decided to join in Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over 13 week challenge.  My research is careful than most I've come across, but it would not be reliable without proof and documentation.  Also, I have not been consistent in citing my sources believing I would get back to it one day.  While recently I have realized that I have impeded great progress by not keeping better research notes on the where, how and what I've researched.

The first week of this challenge calls for all previous research to be set aside.  Easy enough for me, as it was a little disorganized anyway.  While gathering up my papers and putting them away this is where I discovered my duplicate research.
Next I'm going to prepare to research, something that I've not done before.  In looking through all the tools and notes that I have taken on how to do genealogy research, preparing to do research was one I never embraced and skipped over.  I look forward to learning and refining a proper research process that fits me.  
The last task for week one is to establish best practices and guidelines.  Which sounds like a checklist to me.  In my recent employment I have grown to live by checklists, and this task fits that bill.  I'll also incorporate the Golden Rules from the challenge blog and am going to be an all-in participant.  That way I can learn more, be organized and fill in those HUGE gaps of missing information.
Here is the link if you want to learn more:
Until next week.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year, Happy Birthday

Aah the new year, a time to reflect on the last and make resolutions for the new one.  My intention of starting this blog was to make connections.  I'm not sure if I am accomplishing that one as I don't receive many comments.  I also wanted to share, which I do when I make the time if my hectic, unplanned life.

So today's post is a quick happy birthday to my collateral family:

John DENISON Junior - born 1 Jan 1669/70

Lt. Ebenezer BILLINGS Junior - born 1 Jan 1683/84
Leslie L. WORLEY - born 1 Jan 1924
Lavaughn D. HEUSON (McMILLAN) - born 1 Jan 1929

LaVaughn Heuson published a book of her family genealogy which can be found in the LDS Library in Salt Lake City.  As well as in the Clay County Historical Museum in Clay, Kansas.  When I did a Google search of Lavaughn's name, I discovered she had authored this book plus it gave her married name.  A few years back, I had received some pages from this book at the Clay County Historical Museum when I mailed a research inquiry to them on a connected family line being researched.  Lavaughn was also found at the Findagrave website with a photo of her headstone, mortality information and spouse's name and birth year.

Happy New Year everyone.  May it be a prosperous and fun year.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Finding Bertha Jane FALL (1875-1965)

     "And the walls come tumbling down...." Eureka, I have broken through a tough wall and discovered my husband's great-grandmother's maiden name, thanks to records on  How did I do it, I used the family tree search option only and came across the marriage record on someone's tree.
     First I searched for her with Warren, hoping that there would be other hints in that right-hand column, but no such luck.  After adding all the census information to the family tree I wanted to try out just searching her name, birth year, and birth place.  I got 529 hits, I looked through some of them, but after getting to page nine, knew that I needed another route.  So, I changed the search to just give me results from family trees and it was the third family tree that I reviewed that gave me the names.
     Warren L. CARPENTER and Bertha J. FALL were married 3 Sep 1904 in Morgan County, Ohio.  This was a first marriage for both.  As the marriage license states that were married by Rev. A. CLENDENNING I would like to find out if they were married at home or in a church.  Another stroke of luck gives me the full names of her parents and it also lets me know that she was employed as a housekeeper at the time she was married.
     Now I have Warren and Bertha's marriage record, along with her parent names, I have another road to travel.  What a great success today.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Research Reveals Marriage - William A. SMITH to Katie G. McELROY

        It was sixteen years ago that I put my research into a PDF file and began the process of saving what I had discovered.  Several upgrades later, I'm having to reenter my names again because of two huge mistakes.  One - not backing up my software program and two - I inadvertently deleted around 2,500 names.  This time around I'm doing all the things I didn't do to begin with all those years back; prove my information by sourcing and than backing it up!  The other mistake that I continue to do is not note where I'm doing my research.  So today in commemoration of Thanksgiving I wanted to look up the family genealogy belief that an ancestor married a descendant of the pilgrim Edward DOTY.          I had been researching this information a couple of days earlier and without access to some paid sites I was running into dead ends.  So I pulled out my library cards to see what was available to me that way.  The Denver Public Library has some great databases to access, so I start perusing through them.  Sadly, none of them provide any information to the colonial period.  Curiosity pinches me and I start looking at information for my Colorado family lines.  An index of Colorado marriages from 1859-1935 that the Colorado Genealogical Society put together reveals a clue for my blocked SMITH line.  William A. SMITH to Katie?  I think I found them, I'm almost positive it's them, but I must get more information to meet genealogy standards.  I'm stunned that it was so easy.  I think it is them because the date is close to what was reported in the 1900 US Federal Census, the place is somewhere I know they lived and it's a single listing for a William A. SMITH and Katie G. McELROY married 7 Dec 1890 in Otero County, Colorado.   How exciting, I can't wait to prove this information is correct and mine.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A crack in Lola's wall

       An outing to the library today created a crack in my brick wall for Lola E. GUSTAFSON (1886-).  Since the kids were working on school projects I jumped onto  Not having my research material with me I wonder who to look up and Lola's name popped into my head.
          A search using approximate birth year and place was done, than the family tree section was chosen.  I found my aunt's family tree and a few others, but there was one I didn't recognize and with a click the crack began to form.  At first glance this family tree has no significant differences.  Going to the 1940 federal census source, I know this is my Lola, as the family matches.  Under suggested records I notice an Iowa Births Index and 3 city directories and wonder if this could be her.  The birth index doesn't give a first name and has a different birth date than what I have.  The parents names are given as Charles and Anna GUSTAFSON.  I wonder if this crack will bring down the wall, more information is needed on Charles and Anna.
          Using Charles' name I do a search in the Federal census and Iowa census, nothing concrete is found.  Scrolling down the All Results list I come across an Illinois Death Index that gives the death location for a Charles in a familiar location the family is known to reside in.  By george I think I've found it.  I strongly believe that Charles and Anna are her parents; but my time ran out so I'll have to go to NARA next week and do more research to confirm this.