Monday, January 25, 2016

This Day in my Family History: In Search of Mary Mulry Bland

I'm finally back at the blog challenge- "this day in my family history." Anybody else at it, too? Comment with a link to your blog.

On this day 103 years ago, January 25, 1913, my great-great aunt, Mary Elizabeth Mulry, was born. She was born in Indianapolis to Lawrence and Nellie Hitchcock Mulry. She grew up with three brothers, Larry, John, and James.

Mary's 61st birthday - 1974

Mary married three times, first to a Leroy Heinrichs in 1929. She had two children with her second husband, Thomas West, - Robert "Bobby", and Marilyn. Tragically, Marilyn was killed in an accident while riding her bike when she was only 12 years old. Mary married a third time to Ralph Bland, and they had five sons - Ralph, Larry, Johnny, Kenny, and Gilbert. She lived in Beech Grove for much of her life, and passed away in 1985. She is buried at Washington Park East Cemetery in Indianapolis.

John, Mary, Larry, & Jim
Mulry siblings at Mulry family reunion 1974

For the past five years now, I have been researching and writing a book about the Mulry family of Indianapolis. I have been able to collect a plethora of information- genealogical details, stories, memories, photographs, and more- about the families of Mary's brothers, Larry, John, and James. (I am descended from James.) I have not had such luck with Mary's family. Despite the potential for many descendants with six sons, I have not been able to locate Bland or West relatives and therefore I know next to nothing about her side. There have been some memories of Mary and her family shared with me by relatives on her brothers' sides, but none of them have any idea of the whereabouts of her family nowadays. If on the off chance that you are related to Mary and you happen upon this blog, I would absolutely love to hear from you. I have been wanting to publish the Mulry Family History for some time now, but there's one thing holding me back and it's this gaping hole in the book that is the Bland family. I would love to complete the family history book, but it may just not be possible. I may just need to bite the bullet and publish it as is, but something is holding me back. If any of you are out
Mary Elizabeth Mulry Bland

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Wayfaring Stranger: A Song That's Stood the Test of Time

The minor key gets me every time. The passion of the voice, the violin, strum of a guitar, the words. That song took root in my soul years ago, it's tattooed on my foot, I listen to it nearly every day. It reminds me of what’s to come, it reminds me to focus on the Lord, it grounds me and centers me. That song… My ancestors sang it, the pioneers in the mountains, the African slaves of the south sang it, and the characters in my books. It’s called Wayfaring Stranger.

The song has a long history, and it’s so shrouded in mystery. It's said to be an Appalachian folk song, others say it’s a slave spiritual. It could very well be both. It's been sung throughout America for two hundred years, and it's stood the test of time, as recording artists are still creating new versions every year. It was sung at revival meetings, and it could have been code for freedom among the slaves - "going over 'Jordan'" could have meant the Ohio River, bordering slave and free states. It just grabs at you with its heartfelt, haunting tune, its words about longing for heaven and to be done with the trials of this earth. It reminds me of the verse from Romans 8, that we long to be set free, that all creation groans for redemption, for the next life. I’ve been listening to this song nearly every day for seven years straight, and I never tire of it. It’s a part of me now.

A Treasury of American Song tells the song was first recorded as having been song as early as 1830, but was likely around for years or decades before then. One source claims it dates to 1784. Spiritual Folk Songs of Early America says the song is found in the first edition of Sacred Harp in 1844, and a note along with the song reads: “the compiler, John G. McCurry, Hartwell, Georgia, ‘when eight years old, learned the air of this tune from Mrs. Catherine Penn.’ That was therefore 1829.”

Today, the song lives on in homes and churches around the country, and artists from Johnny Cash, Andy Griffith, Emmy Lou Harris, Alex Boye, Jack White to Ed Sheeran have created their own versions. Log in to Youtube or Spotify and just scroll down the list. There are hundreds of versions of this song, and no two are alike. That’s the beautiful thing about old folk tunes such as this—you can take it and run with it and make it your own. Violin to acapella to guitar, you can do anything with this song. The words lend themselves to creativity, and yet I have not found a version that was not true to its original intent. Some versions I can listen to over and over again and am still moved by them every time. Find your favorite version and leave it in the comments. I’m always looking for more versions to add to my collection.
I am just goin' over Jordan
I am just goin' over home

What song means the most to you?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

This Day in my Family History: Carrie Goldquist Luckey

My 3rd post in the This Day in my Family History blog challenge! Are any of you doing it? Comment below with a link to your blog to share it with others. Maybe we'll have ancestors that shares a never know!

The ancestor I want to write about today I'm not even entirely sure what name she went by. I've found her listed as Ruth Carolyn, Carolyn Christine, Ruthie C., and Carrie. But since her granddaughter Ruth, my great-aunt, recorded her name as Carrie, I suppose we'll stick with that.

Family tree of Helen Lucky Andrews, daughter of Carrie Goldquist Luckey, written by Ruth Andrews Fairchild

Carrie Goldquist was born on January 7, 1860 in Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois, to Olof and Fredericka Petersen Goldquist. Her parents were Swedish immigrants and were among the first settlers in the county. Her father, Olof, died when she was still very young. Carrie was the fourth of five children, and she lived almost her entire life in Knox County. She graduated from Galesburg High School in 1878 and married Joseph M. Luckey on December 21, 1880. We find the family in the 1900 census with six children. In 1910 they are living on East Main Street in Galesburg with the youngest four of their children, and Joseph is working as a machinist for the railroad. In this census we first see the musical talent recorded that ran in the family, as her daughter Josephine is listed as a pianist. Later her daughter Helen (my great-grandmother) would go on to attend the Knox Conservatory of Music, and Helen's son-in-law, Donald Fairchild, would become a well-known pianist and composer.

Carrie continued to live in Galesburg until she and Joseph moved to Muhlenberg, Kentucky, presumably to live with their daughter Josephine's family. Carrie passed away in 1929, and her burial site is unknown. Joseph is found living with their daughter Josephine and her husband in the 1930 census, and he passed away in 1931.

The Luckey family is somewhat of a mystery. Helen Luckey, Carrie's daughter, was my great-grandmother, my paternal grandfather's mother. My Papaw died in 2000, two years before I began my genealogy work, and therefore I never got to ask him about his family, and my grandma, his wife, knew next to nothing about them. My grandpa was born in Knox County, Illinois, but came to Indianapolis when still quite young, and apparently did not have a good relationship (or any relationship) with much of his family. I've pieced together a story over the years, and have made contact with some family members who still live in Illinois, but this whole side of the tree is still shrouded in secrets. For now, I'll just keep researching!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

This Day in my Family History: William & Almira Holsclaw's Wedding

I hadn't planned on writing today but while looking over events in my family history in January, I discovered today is the wedding anniversary of my favorite couple in my family tree. William and Almira King Holsclaw were wedded on January 2, 1862 in Jennings County, Indiana. They were married an impressive 68 years before William passed away in 1930, and Almira soon after him in 1931. They were survived by five of their eight children, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. They were buried in the Summerfield Cemetery (also known as the Vawter Cemetery), which lies on a hilltop above the Muscatatuck River in Selmier State Forest in Jennings County.

Two newspaper articles follow, published on January 2, 1924, and another on January 2, 1929, their 62nd and 67th anniversaries respectively. Many thanks to Don Stanwyck for passing them on to me.

January 2, 1924

On Wednesday, the second day of January this year, Mr. and Mrs.
Holsclaw celebrated in a very quite (sic) manner their 62nd wedding
    To be blessed with long life is a gift from God and to live for 62
years as man and wife, sharing together the joys as well as the sorrows
of this world is more than a blessing.
    We frequently read where some happy couple have lived to celebrate
their their 60th anniversary, but how often do we hear of one living to
celebrate their 62nd anniversary and as is the case with Mr. and Mrs.
Holsclaw in apparently good health.
    Mr. Holsclaw has one sister living, Mrs. Agnes Fredenburg, age 78 of
Westport, Ind., and Mrs. Holsclaw has a brother, George Alvin King of
Lincoln, Neb.
    Three brothers of Mr. Holsclaw's served thruout (sic) the Civil war.
    Mr. and Mrs. Holsclaw are noted thruout the neighborhood for their
generosity and kindness and it is with the fondest hopes that all their
friends wish them many more years of wedded life.
January 2, 1929
NORTH VERNON, Ind., January 2.
Mr. and Mrs. William T. Holsclaw today celebrated the sixty-seventh anniversary of their marriage at their home in Jennings County, just east of this city. They entertained their children and their families. Mr. and Mrs. Holsclaw were married by Mrs. Holsclaw's grandfather, the Rev. William Vawter, January 2, 1862 and their married life has been spent in what is known as the Deer Creek neighborhood. Mrs. Holsclaw was born at Deer Creek and is now eighty-six years old. Mr. Holsclaw was born in Garrett county, Kentucky, and is now ninety-three.

Their living children are: Ezra Holsclaw, living near Franklin; Mrs. Jennie Carson, Seymour; Mrs. Oscar Beeman, Jennings county; Harry Holsclaw, Auburn, Cal., and Mrs. H. A. Searles, Spokane, Wash. The have thirty grandchildren, sixteen great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
William and Almira are among my favorite ancestors, and I love to read about their life together. Have you found events in your ancestors' lives to write about on the anniversary of their happening? Let me know if you've joined the (temporarily named) This Day in my Family History challenge!

Friday, January 1, 2016

This Day in my Family History: Blog Challenge

Growing up with a daily newspaper in our house, I always gravitated towards the This Day in History section. I loved feeling a connection with the past by reading what was happening on that day at different points in history, all around the world. But I’ve been thinking, how cool would it be to create a This Day in Family History record. It would be a huge undertaking, scouring records and lists for hours to find all that happened on that very day throughout your entire family tree. But how about for a start creating a blog challenge dedicated to it? Pick one event on certain days throughout the year and blog about it, then share it with your readers, and especially your family! It could be about anything—but I’ll probably stick to birth, marriage, and death dates. So, what about you? Is this sparking any ideas in your head? What should we call this? Fernando Hidalgo (@Genealogistapro) on Twitter suggested “A Day in the Life” like the Beatles song (I heard the news today, oh no). More ideas? Are you on board? Amy Johnson Crow, you inspired me to do this with your #52Ancestors challenge, which I fell off of too soon, but I kept up reading your blogs. I hope to inspire others to write about their ancestors the way you did! So, y’all, are you with me? Comment with a link to your blog and let me know!


So, I looked through my family tree to find an event in my family history on January 1, and ended up landed in the year 1868. I thought this was very fitting, since I’m a little fascinated with this branch, the Potter family, but the funny things is—it’s not my ancestry, it’s my husband’s! I figure it counts since it’s my kids’ tree too. So, on January 1, 1868, Lewis Edward Potter was born in Brown County, Indiana to William and Mary Rogers Potter, their second son. William and Mary were married in 1864, and just five months later William joined the 145th Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the Union Army, and spent time in Georgia. Lewis was born a few short years after the Civil War ended. Even in 1868, Lewis was a third generation Hoosier. The Potters reportedly came to Brown County because they heard it was pretty! Lewis, or Lew, grew up in the area, and married in 1890 to Ella Story Bracken, who was also a native Hoosier, having been born just over a month later in neighboring Monroe County—likely in a little log cabin, which her father John Bracken wrote about in his letters home while he was in Ohio finding work. The conditions surrounding Lewis’ birth is not certain, but apparently he and his brothers with their father William built a home on Tunnel Road near Unionville, including a solid walnut stairway.

Lewis and Ella were married in Martinsville, which their grandson William speculates may have been the romantic thing to do at the time. They lived north of Bloomington when their first child, Ethel, was born in 1891. Their grandson William tells of houses they lived in being on Boultinghouse Road and Shuffle Creek, two roads which I have tracked down and daydreamed my way through the drive. (These place names in genealogy can be magical when you have a little imagination.) They suffered a house fire and were living in Bloomington by 1896, lived in the country once more, when their son William was born, my husband’s great-grandfather, and then they built a house in Bloomington in 1906, where they stayed and continued to remodel. Lewis took positions as a janitor at the high school and a church. Lewis and Ella had a total of eight children between 1891 and 1911. Lewis passed away in 1950, Ella in 1954, and they are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Bloomington.
A big thanks goes to my husband's great-uncle William Potter, who researched and compiled the Potter family history. I'm very grateful for his hard work!

Leave a comment with your ideas, your thoughts, your links, and let’s get to writing!

P.S. I'm still working on #StorybookAncestor with my daughter. I'd love to have some company in that, too. See a few posts below for that one!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Motivation Monday: Free Online History & Genealogy Courses

I'm a lifelong learner. I'm one of those people who used to drool over course listings in college, and then get all giddy as I looked through the syllabus. I started graduate school this year, finally studying something I've always loved - American History. I'm taking it slow, only one or two courses a year, especially since I'm homeschooling my kids and they come first. But I am still dying to learn more in the fields of history and genealogy, and bringing those worlds to kids through my writing, so when I discovered that universities and organizations offer free (or mostly free) online courses that you can attend at your own pace - well, hello!

Maybe you're with me? Maybe you don't want to make the commitment to go back to school but you still want to learn. Below is the list of history and genealogy courses I want to take over the next year, along with the websites and schools that offer them. Let me know if you see any you want to take, too,  or if you have other recommendations! Maybe we can take them together and discuss.


* Citizenship & U.S. Immigration - Coursera - Emory University
* History of the Slave South - Coursera - University of Pennsylvania
* African American History: Emancipation to Present - Openculture - Yale University
* Colonial & Revolutionary America - Openculture - Stanford University
* Europe in the 19th Century - Openculture - UC Berkeley
* European Civilization: 1648-1945 - Openculture - Yale University
* European Cultural History: 1500-1815 - Openculture - Univesity of Wisconsin-Madison
* History of the United States since 1877 - Openculture - Missouri State
* The Civil War & Reconstruction Era: 1845-1877 - Openculture - Yale


* Helping Children Love Your Family History - Brigham Young University
* Vital Records - Brigham Young University
* Family Records - Brigham Young University
* Military Records - Brigham Young University
* Germany Research - Brigham Young University
* Huguenot Research - Brigham Young University
* FamilySearch courses - on anything and everything! -

Also- National Genealogical Society has very affordable courses. I'm going to become a member soon and take their courses.


* Teaching Historical Inquiry with Objects - EdX - Smithsonian
* The Art of Teaching History: A Global Conversation for Secondary Educators - Coursera - Rice University

That's just a sampling of what's out there. What do you see that you'd like to learn about? Check out all those websites and let me know. I'm serious  I'd love a study buddy. Happy learning! :)

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Grandma has an exciting story to tell about her life. Grandpa has told us how he walked three miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways. Your Great-great aunt has passed on exciting stories about her grandparents, who were born just before the Civil War started. These stories have taken up a special place in your heart, and you want them to survive. Keeping stories alive about someone in your family that was a witness to the Civil War is so important to you, but the genealogy bug hasn't gotten to your kids yet, and in order for family history to survive, we need to pass it on to the younger generations.

If you like classic television, you’ve surely seen The Andy Griffith Show. In one of my favorite episodes, Andy gets stuck in a bind with his son’s teacher over History homework. The teacher gets so frustrated with her students’ apparent lack of interest in their History studies that she is on the verge of quitting when Andy steps in and tells the boys that they don’t want to learn about all that “dull stuff” anyway –about “Indians, and Redcoats, and cannons, and guns and muskets and stuff.” The boys get all excited that Andy seems to be in agreement with them, and then they pause, turn, and look at him quizzically. Then one pipes up: “What about Indians and Redcoats and cannons and muskets and guns and stuff?” Andy brushes it off, saying, “Oh, you know. Indians and Redcoats, and you know…history.” And with that, the boys are hooked.

Andy then engages the boys (and his deputy, Barney Fife) in a heart-pounding rendition of the tale of Paul Revere, and with every word, the boys’ eyes grow wider, their jaws drop further, and they are drawn more and more into the story. “He says the British is comin’, the British is comin’, get your guns, we’re gonna have us a revolution!” When Andy is finished, they demand to know just where he got that story! Andy just replies, “Oh, your history book.” But the bait is already sunk. The boys have been won over. History has come alive for them through the power of storytelling, and they wanted to know more.

Barney and the boys listening to Andy's story

(If you want to see the entire episode, it’s called Andy Discovers America, and it’s on YouTube here: The excerpt I discussed starts at the 10:15 mark.)

Children need to know that their ancestors’ lives were a series of stories. There were times your ancestors probably picked up their son or daughter on their knee and told them the story of the time they did this or that. Pa Ingalls in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House book series was an expert storyteller. Laura preserved those stories in her books, always just as exciting as when Pa told it to her.

And that is what I want to challenge you to do with your children. Capture your family stories in a homemade storybook. Write out their stories in narrative form, with dialogue and action verbs and illustrations by your child. Turn that story your grandpa told you into a storybook. Turn the family legend of your ancestor’s crossing of the Atlantic into a storybook. Was your 7th great-grandfather a teacher in a small town in Germany? His story can be in a storybook. Was your 3rd great-grandfather a Union soldier? That can be a storybook, too.
An illustration by my daughter, Ellie, about our ancestor Jesse Vawter

Will you and your children join me? I’d love to create a community of people turning their family history into storybooks with the help of your children. Or you can do it on your own, and present the book to your children or grandchildren as a gift. It’s up to you! Whatever you do, share it with the rest of us! Use the hashtag #StorybookAncestor or simply comment on this blog with your link. I’ll be sharing the storybooks I create with my 7 year old daughter and I'll check in every week to share everyone else's. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. Best wishes!