Friday, January 23, 2015

#52Ancestors: Catherine Kerr Oder

So, I just found out about the #52Ancestors challenge yesterday, so I'm a little late to the game. But I had to jump on the bandwagon because this is a great idea! So, my first ancestor to write about will be:

Catherine Kerr Oder
Catherine Kerr Oder, or "Kate", is my 3rd great-grandmother on my paternal grandmother's side. Kate was born in 1830 probably in Harrison County, Ohio, to James and Martha Morrison Kerr. In a short biography about her father, it says that he moved from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to Harrison County, Ohio in the spring of 1805. In this biography it also reads that James, with his family, moved to a farm near Bellefontaine, Logan, Ohio in 1836, making Kate around 6 years old at the time of the move. She met her husband, Marshall Oder, in Bellefontaine, and they were married in 1849. They couple likely spent the rest of their lives in the area, as they are found in Bellefontaine in the 1880 census. Marshall and Kate had four children: George, Elmer, Charles, and Ella. Her son Elmer Kerr Oder, is my great-great grandfather. My grandmother, Mary Holsclaw Andrews, lived with Elmer and his wife for most of her young years, and she has shared many fond memories of him with me.
Catherine with her son, Elmer c. 1866
This photo is likely of Marshall and Catherine in their later years. The unmarked photo was in an old Victorian album passed down to me by my grandmother.
Catherine passed away in January 1897. Her obituary in the Daily Examiner reads:
   Mrs. Marshall Oder, aged 65 years, died at about 7 o'clock Sunday evening at College Corners, Ohio, where she had gone for treatment. The cancer from which she had suffered had been entirely removed, and death resulted from prostration.
   Deceased was a great sufferer but bore her affliction with patient fortitude and died firm in her faith in the Savior's promises. She was a true Christian woman, a loving wife and mother and was beloved by all who knew her.
   George, Elmer and Charles Oder and Mrs. James Milner, the sons and daughter, were present when their mother's spirit took its flight.
    The bereaved husband and family have the sympathy of all.
Catherine is buried in the Bellefontaine City Cemetery in Bellefontaine, Ohio.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: My Oldest Things

There's just something about holding something old in your own hands. You wonder who else has held the thing you hold in that moment. How did it come down through so many years to land in your hands? How many eyes have passed over it? Who bent over to write upon it? What was your ancestor thinking about the moment the camera captured their face? Were they thinking about you, their descendant, who would one day end up with their photograph in your possession?

I am writing a book on the history of the Mulry family in Indianapolis. I have had the pleasure to meet so many distant relatives in my research for the book, and have had priceless things loaned to me to contribute to the book. Just the other night I met with my grandma's cousin, who she never really knew, and she gave me a funeral register for my great-great-great uncle, Matthew Mulry. Inside were the signatures of so many relatives, including my great-great grandmother. I just ran my fingers over them and thought about how she had stood over this very book to write her name. Living history, right there.

This record, below, is what I believe to be the oldest thing in my possession. It is a very fragile handwritten record of the children of Thomas Coen and Phoebe Randle, my great-great-great-great grandparents. I found it in the old family Bible, which dates to the 1860s, given to me by my grandmother. Just think of all the hands it's passed through, and now it's sitting in my desk drawer.  Now that's a treasure chest.

What about you, genealogist? What's the oldest thing in your collection?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday's Obituary: A Tribute

Do you ever think about what will be said of you after you're gone? I love a quote from the show Lost: "Don't knock the obits," one character says. "It's the nicest part of the paper." To me, there's nothing like the writings of our ancestors in the history books - they could bestow a more eloquent compliment like nothing seen in today's obituaries and tributes. Below find some of the more sincere tributes given to my ancestors.  

Of Fredericka Peterson Goldquist: "Her labors were a continuous element for good in the community in which she lived and her life was, indeed, a serviceable one for she was continually holding out a helping hand, or speaking a word of encouragement, or kindly advice."

Of Catherine Kerr Oder: "Deceased was a great sufferer but bore her affliction with patient fortitude and died firm in her faith in the Savior's promises."

Of Hannah Zimmerman Caylor: "Her affliction has been a constant source of suffering during the last twenty years of her life but she has been patient and silent, always fearing that her own suffering might bring others worry. Thus has she lived long and learned the beautiful, but hard lesson of patience and died as she had lived with fortitude resigned to the will of the God whom she had found and served."

Of Anna Walsh Garrity: "Despite her many trials and sorrows, she bravely cared for her little brood until the last. It has been said by loving friends, in eulogizing Mrs. Garrity, that no woman ever lived that was more void of faults, and that no woman ever bore her burden more resignedly than she."

I'm dumbstruck when I read some of these. What amazing people we come from! My ancestor Almira Holsclaw stands in awe of her parents' generation, her mother in particular: "It must have been the pioneer spirit that kept her going." Do we still have that spirit alive in us? Let's rekindle it. Let's learn the hard lesson of patience and live with fortitude, resigning our lives to the will of God, for we know that he works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).

What stories do you have of your ancestors? Please, share away!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The History Tree Magazine


In the coming months, I will be launching a new free online magazine called The History Tree, a history and genealogy magazine for kids! 

I am in the beginning stages of planning and researching, but as a licensed K-6 Indiana educator, I plan to shape it around 4th grade Indiana history and genealogy for beginners. I would love for the magazine to be a combination of lessons, educational articles, as well as stories of our ancestors.

If this sounds like something you or someone you know would be interested in, please don't hesitate to contact me.  I would love to hear feedback and ideas. Keep an eye on this blog and my Facebook page ( for updates, and when I launch the website, you'll be the first to know!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sibling Saturday

Siblings are our closest relatives, and often our closest friends. Here are some pictures of siblings in our family's history!

The Brewer sisters 1930s

                                              John, Mary, Larry, & Jim Mulry 1970s

                                                         The Bruns children 1890s
Patty, Jim, Jackie, & Tom Mulry 1940s

                   And my siblings and I - Kristin Andrews Stout, Nicholas Andrews, and me 2007

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Almira King Holsclaw

More on Almira King Holsclaw, my great-great-great grandmother
 North Vernon, Jennings, Indiana

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday's Obituary: Almira King Holsclaw


  Mrs. Almira Holsclaw, eighty-nine years old, died Thursday, October 8th (1931), at the home of her granddaughter Mrs. Homer Bullard west of this city.  Funeral services were held at the First Baptist Church in this city Saturday, conducted by the Rev. W. H. Dillard.  The burial took place in the Vawter Cemetery.      Mrs. Holsclaw was the daughter of George and Frances king and was born in Jennings County April 10, 1842.  She was married to William T. Holsclaw and all of their married life was spent in the Deer Creek neighborhood in Jennings County.  Mr. Holsclaw died about a year ago and since that time Mrs. Holsclaw has made her home with relatives.  She is survived by five children: Mrs. Bertha Searles, Spokane, Wash. Harry Holsclaw, Auburn, California; Esra Holsclaw of near Franklin, Mrs. Edwin Carson, of near Seymour; and Mrs. Oscar Beeman, North Vernon Route 5.  She is also survived by twenty-nine grandchildren, nineteen Great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren and by one brother, Elvin King of Lincoln, Nebraska.  She was a faithful member of the Baptist Church and was a woman of sterling qualities of character, respected by all who knew her.

I'd have to say Almira is my favorite ancestor, if you can have such a thing. She is my great-great-great grandmother. She wrote a short memoir of growing up in southern Indiana, of which I have a copy (you can read an excerpt here: My grandmother, Mary Holsclaw Andrews, remembers visiting her when very young, she writes: “William and Almira Holsclaw lived in a ‘little house on the prairie’ type house in North Vernon, Indiana. They had no electricity. They had a pedal organ. The bedroom was very small; it was off the living room. It had a built in featherbed bunk bed. She had a pillow filled with pine needles in the parlor; it had a very strong smell that made me sick! The dining room was the biggest room in the house. Outside the back door, several feet to the right was a little hill with a chicken coop.”

My favorite line from Almira's memoir is in my book:

"I can see my life like a pattern woven in with the lives of so many others. It seems, as I look at it from here, now that it is so nearly finished, that there is plenty of brightness to offset the dark, gloomy part of my weaving."

I can feel her impact even today- her optimistic outlook on life, the impact she made on her descendants, and "the sterling qualities of her character" have been passed down. She concludes her memoir with this, "And so my prayer is, may war be outlawed from the land. May peace and joy and gladness come to take its place."