Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Funny: Grandma Lutz

One of the first things I came across in my early days of genealogy were pictures that my great-great grandmother, Alma Bruns Lutz, had written on. There were lots of them. Seems she wanted to make doubly sure nobody forgot their names.

My favorite, though, was a baby picture of my grandpa. She sarcastically had written, "Poor Bob. Born March 25, 1944. Married May 25, 1962." There were lots of these "Poor Bob" pictures. Her sense of humor shone through on my grandpa's face as he told me about her.

Grandma would hang her clothes out to dry and unfailingly her neighbor would come out at the same time and start burning trash. The smoke would drift over and inevitably their clothes would always smell like smoke when they took them down off the line. She asked them nicely to find another time to do this but to no avail. This went on for a while until Grandma couldn't stand it anymore. So one day when she was out watering her flowers she asked her neighbor to come over to the fence to chat. The lady came over expecting a friendly conversation when Grandma took her running hose and shoved it down her neighbor's shirt. She had had enough! Needless to say, she didn't have any more clothing smelling of smoke after that.

                                                   Alma "Grandma Lutz" and her son Ervin

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Surname Saturday: Potter

Today I want to focus on my husband's last name: Potter. Yes, I get asked all the time if I am related to Harry, to which I always reply, "yes, of course." Being the Harry Potter fan that I am, I always joke that that's why I married my husband Ben- to have this last name.

But Potter has a rich history in Indiana. Ben had a CD-ROM that I discovered a few years ago created by his great-uncle Bill Potter. It was the entire genealogy that his uncle had conducted, and it shared the history of the Potter family. Needless to say, I was instantly drawn in, being the genealogist and 9th generation Hoosier that I am. Turns out my husband is also a 9th generation Hoosier, so that makes our kids 10th generation!

Anyway, the Potter family came to Brown County, Indiana in the 1850s because they heard it was pretty. (We still camp in Brown County every October.) The Potter men have moved around Indiana from their days in Brown County, including Bloomington, Lafayette, and eventually Indianapolis, where Ben was born. Below I have pictured the Potter family tree, beginning with the youngest, our son, Micah James.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mystery Monday: The Andrews Family

  Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects about genealogy is research on your own last name. In some ways it defines who we are. As a teacher, mine follows me around all day long. First I was Miss Andrews, now I'm Mrs. Potter. So, naturally, when I began genealogy at age 16, the Andrews line was of particular interest to me. Unfortunately my Papaw Andrews had died two years before I started researching my family history, but I did have my Grandma to tell me what she knew, which really wasn't much. I did however immediately learn a heartbreaking piece of my grandfather's past. His father had walked out on him and his mother and sisters when he was very young. My dad had never met his grandparents on that side, and the only hint he had to their character was visiting his grandmother's grave with his father, who stood there, harrumphed, and moved on. So for me, the new genealogist, it was a dead end. I had Katie, Todd, Glenn, and Glen Andrews, and that was it.

  Then, years later, I managed to contact family on my grandpa's side who still lived in Illinois, where he was from. I still remember the happy dance I did in the living room when I received their letter. They had found Glen's parents! Daniel and Sarah Jane Kimball Andrews. So my grandfather, Glenn Daniel, was named after his father and grandfather! Whattya know. Now it was time to take to Ancestry. Sure enough, there was Daniel as a baby in 1850 with his parents James and Hannah Finney Andrews. Yes!

  But past James? Not a trace. We even vacationed in upstate New York last summer, and happened to be an hour away from Saratoga, where he was born. So we made the little trip up to the Saratoga library to come up with absolutely nothing.

  In short, sometimes you have to come to peace with the fact that you will never know everything there is to know about certain lines of your family. I suppose it just makes what you do know all the more special. I am an Andrews, and that's that!

                                                    Glenn Daniel Andrews 1911-2000

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Mulry Book

I am currently working on a book entitled The Mulry Family: A History of the Descendants of the Irish Immigrants to Indianapolis, Indiana 1868-2014. I thought I'd take advantage of today's Treasure Chest Thursday to give a little preview of that book.

 Perhaps the best thing about writing this book has been the connections I've made. I love how our Mulry ancestors came to Indianapolis in 1868, almost straight from Ireland, and Indianapolis is where most of us remain. I've formed special relationships with distant cousins all over the city and country, and they have supplied me with rich details and timeless photographs from their sides of the family. This has been a labor of love, and has taken many years to come to the point where it is now. I've copied the Introduction to the book below, which is about our common ancestors and should be the one part that is of particular interest to all. The rest of the book details individual nuclear families and their members.


           There is an old Mulry family history that seems to have circulated between various families in our line. It was dictated by Lawrence Mulry, the grandson of the original Irish immigrants. It was given to me by my great-aunt Patty Mulry Higginbotham. Over the years I realized how lucky we are to have such an oral history to share, and I’ve also been surprised at just how much historical records verify it, with only minor exceptions. The majority of this introduction is taken from this history.
           According to the history, the Mulry family hails from County Galway, Ireland. Historical records verify several Mulrys or Mulreys living in Galway. The name means “devotee to the Virgin Mary.” The trade of the family was blacksmithing, and it is reported that there is an old stone water trough in Galway upon which is carved Lawrence Mulry, 1752. The connection to this Lawrence is still unknown, though he was likely an ancestor of our John.
            Our earliest known ancestor is James Mulry. He was from the townland of Toomard, in the Roman Catholic parish of Ballygar, civil parish of Killian, in County Galway, Ireland. He married Mary Dunn on April 12, 1837. The witnesses at their wedding were John Smith and Dermott Loughan.
             In the Griffiths Primary Valuation in the 1850s we find James Mulry leasing land with an office and a house from John Garrard. He also has a neighbor named Laurence Mulry leasing from Mr. Garrard as well, also with a house and offices. James’ property is 1 acre, 2 roods, and 6 perches. (There are four roods in one acre, and forty perches in one rood.) Also in Toomard, we find a Luke Dunn, who is likely a relation to our Mary.
            James and Mary had a son named John. According to the first Mulry history, John was born in 1842 in County Galway, but on his gravestone it reads that he was born in 1845. John came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1863 with his younger brother Lawrence, their cousin Thomas Mulrey (note spelling difference), and a man named John P. Crain, who remained a family friend for years.
         In Boston John met a young woman named Mary Ellen Raridan. She was born in County Limerick, Ireland. The first Mulry history says she was born in 1843, but on her gravestone it reads 1848. Her surname has also been spelled Riordan and Reardon. The history says that she “came over on an old sailboat the same year, but not the same one that brought the others (1863). She told me stories about the sea being rough and they were locked in the hold for 30 days and the trip took 65 days.”
           John and Mary Ellen were married in 1863, and in 1864 moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut. Their firstborn, James Joseph, was born there in 1866.
          In 1868, John, Mary, son James, brother Lawrence and presumably John Crain, removed to Indianapolis. They settled in a house in the Fountain Square neighborhood, historically a very Irish area. Their house was located on the northwest corner of Olive and Willow (now Cottage) streets.
           The house is gone now, but their later residence still stands. The history tells us they moved to a house on the southeast corner of Laurel and Terrace in 1890.This is the house at 1401 Terrace Avenue, and it was here that both John and Mary passed away, John in 1911 and Mary in 1922.
             The rest of their children were born at the Olive Street address. In the 1930 census, there are two Lawrence Mulry families living in separate addresses on Olive Street, one of which could possibly their old house.
              John and Lawrence set up a blacksmith shop in what is now downtown Indianapolis, as mentioned before, this was likely their trade in Ireland. The shop was located on South Alabama Street, across the street from the old police headquarters. The police station is still in use, but the site of the old blacksmith shop is now a parking garage. Many old Indianapolis directories list their blacksmith shop, and John is listed once as a “hostler” and Lawrence as a “horseshoer”. The address of the shop is given as 660 Washington Street.
             The history reads: “They were all Catholics and they died Catholics and were all buried Catholics.”
            John’s obituary reads that the family attended St. Patrick’s Church, which still exists, located on Prospect Street in Fountain Square neighborhood. He and Mary both are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.

                                                     This is our story.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Matrilineal Monday: Winnie Walsh

  Well, I'm back to my direct female line. This time I want to rant a little bit about this particular brick wall. It's been one that I've pushed back a few times, but it's remained solid for the past couple years. If you're not a genealogist, you may not find this interesting. If you are and could give me some advice, I'd greatly appreciate it!

  The first few generations of my female line were easy, as is usually the case. There's usually somebody around who knows their names. For me, my great-great aunt Betts could tell me her mother's name, but then she couldn't even tell me her own grandmother's name. I had to find records of her on a trip to their hometown. This whole family is an interesting case. My aunt Betts' mother, Katherine Garrity, my great-great grandmother, had left her hometown, Connersville, Indiana, when quite young, right after her mother died in 1905. Her older siblings dispersed, and the younger siblings went to live with their aunt Mary in Indianapolis, as evidenced in her obituary and census records. It's not quite clear where Katherine went at this time, as she is not in the 1910 census. But she did get married in Indianapolis in 1917, however, and lived there for the rest of her life.

  My aunt Betts said of her mother and her siblings, "It's like they all left Connersville and wanted to forget it all." I've spoken to descendants of the other siblings and they know nothing of their past either. It's unclear what happened. Their father died in 1895 and their mother, Anna Walsh Garrity, cared for them on her own in Connersville. She is listed as a "washwoman" in the 1900 census, living with all eight children and a Thomas O'Donnell (probably related to her late husband, John, whose mother was an O'Donnell.) Anna's obituary praises her, "Despite her many trials and sorrows, she bravely cared for her little brood until the last."

  I didn't find Anna's full name until I went to Connersville and found her obituary on microfilm. And I had found her first name in a census after finding the names of the children (Betts could tell me their names). The obituary said she was born in England in 1859. On another roll of microfilm I found Anna and John's marriage record, and found out her parents' names were Edward and Winifred. I made another trip to Connersville and visited St. Gabriel's Catholic Church, where the family was members. There I found Winifred's death date. On a stroke of luck I found their immigration record on - Winifred immigrated with only Anna and Mary and a brother who soon died, presumably. Edward was already gone. The girls are listed in the 1870 census, with their mother listed as "Minnie," which, I am guessing, is a corruption of "Winnie." Winnie is listed as born in Ireland in 1837, but not even Anna's marriage record gives her maiden name, unless it was also Walsh. Beyond Winifred, I have no clue.

  If you've made it this far, you see how hard this particular brick wall is. If you have any tips or recommendations on finding more about Winifred's family, I would be ever so appreciative. And, if anybody has Ancestry World Edition, could you be so kind as to look up Edward and Winifred? My guess is they are both native Irish, but lived in England around the time their children were born. I just want to know the story behind these mystery people, but that remains ever elusive.

Katherine Garrity Fox

Friday, December 6, 2013

Love letters

Below I have copied the transcription of three letters written by my husband's ancestor, John Newton Bracken, to his wife Sarah Adams Bracken. Special thanks to William Potter. The original spelling is preserved so it is a little difficult to read, but I've kept it that way for authenticity's sake.
John N. Bracken was born in 1824 near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He married Sarah Adams in Ohio and they moved to Indiana some time in the mid 1860s, near Unionville in Monroe County. They had eight children and supposedly lived in a log cabin in the woods, if the detail in his last letter is to be believed. John worked as a carpenter and was often away from home, hence the habit of writing letters. John died in 1875, and Sarah had great trouble raising all of the children on her own after his death, but she stayed faithful. She passed in 1903. They are both buried in a cemetery in Unionville, but apparently have no marker.
Letter #1 - May 16, 1856:
Salinesville, Ohio
May 16th 1856
Dear Sarah,
  it is with pleasure that i imbrace the
present oportunity of adresing you a few lines to inform you
of my whereabouts which don't apere to me to be of much
importance for it aperes impossible for me to ??? eny thing
at all these times for i have not got my money yet and don't
no when i shal get it for the prospects seams duler (?) than
when i seen you last. and i have got totaly out of patients
and don't now what in thumder to do I rely beleve tat this
is the longest week that i ever put in in my life and its
not more that half out yet I have the promis of money the
first of next week just as i have had it for the last six
weeks but am in that it will come this time but theres one
thing serten that if i don't get it in time to go next week
i shan't go atall That's so but there's no use in bruding
over past trobles and hatchen (?) up more ill try and look
at the brite side of it any how.
I would like to see you but i don't want to till i no what i
am going to do but Sarah i can't rite and may as well quit
but rest asured that you have my hole hart I will not ad but
read 10, 11, 12 verses of 1st chapter of Romans nothing more
but yours truly yours till Death.
Letter #2 - May 1863:
Address: Mrs. Sarah Bracken
Amsterdam Jefferson Co. Ohio.
Salineville O., May 25. 3 cents postage.
Salinesville May 1863
Dearest Wife Is it with the greatest pleser that pen these
few lines to you to inform yo ua that i am well hoping you
and your tender ofspring enjoys the same There's nothing
strang (?) except its very warm wether its excedingly hot to
day and ita been Sabeth its been a very long day to me ive
not put in as long a Sunday since we was married as i have
to day but ive put in the time as well as i cound between
reding and stroling round on my old walks which seems
fermilure yet its now nearly dark and i must bring this to a
(next page)
as i expect to be at home on Saterday if it ant (?)
ranen or if the soon dont shine too hot so fare well my
derest wife and children Thomas ??? Robert Newton, John
Horrace and our derest sweeet litle tot Sarah Ann give them
all a kis for me and you can imanin one for yourself
you are al constantly in my mind in fact i harly new i thot
so much of my family before nothing more so good nite my
dearest love
J N Bracken
Letter #3:
June 19th /1867
Columbus June 19th /67
Dearest wife
it is with the greatest of plesure that i embrace the
present opertunity of informing you that i am well and hope
this mey find you all in the enjoyment of good helthe i
have stood it first rate since i came here and yet a long
week(?) with my work, i have a good place to board i have to
pay pretty well for it i mite get it cheeper
but id helf(?) to go in with the ruffs such as brick laers
and tenders the borders at this place are a beter class of
men ?? ?? ?? ??
we just finished sheeting over small()?) roof to day and the
tinners are puting on the roof so i am don of the dangers
work i tell you it made me think of wife and babys some
thing when on the top of the 4 story mill
June 20th thursday even
i am very tired this evening ive been laing floor all day
but expect to be rested by morning inclosed you'll find $5
i would of sent you more, but i don't like to risk more that
that at onst i'll send you some the next time i rite
tell Sarah Ann and Mary Patience that i am going to bring
them a new book apece with pictures in when i come home and
that i have a kiss for them and Ellsworth
Now Sarah i want you to rite to me every week if it would
only be that you are all well ita would besuch a pleasure
to me to no id like to how the corn looks and oats and
wheete and how the apells and peaches are thriving I looked
for a letter frome home this week but then none com i shall
be sadly disapointed if i get none next week well i've rote
about all that will be enteresting to you i mite rite a
hold lot of town gossep but its not worth while to begin for
this small space so fare you well for thepresent and when
we mete i anticipate a very plesant time with you and our
deer little ones at home Home sweet home there is no place
like home if ti is an old log cabin in the back woods yours
truly yours for ever
J N Bracken