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!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday's Faces from the Past: The Mystery of Salome Clouse Hitchcock

I have one particular ancestor whose story has really thrown me for a loop.

Salome Clouse Hitchcock 1815-1893

Her maiden name was Salome Clouse, and she was born in 1815 in North Carolina. She married her sister's widower, Isaac Hitchcock, and they moved to Hope, Indiana. Her granddaughter is my great-great grandmother, Nellie Hitchcock Mulry. Now, the story goes in the Mulry family history that we have "deep roots in the South, as your great, great, great grandmother was a Cherokee Indian." Later, it mentions that Salome was "half Cherokee Indian." The man who wrote about Salome in the Mulry history was born only 11 years after she died, so I would assume the story may have come directly from Salome. But it remains a mystery, because...

...when I did some research on Salome, I found that her parents were John Clouse and Catherine Lachenauer, who has deep French roots. I wondered if maybe Catherine was John's second wife, and if she was recorded as Salome's mother because she raised her--perhaps Salome's mother died when she was young. But where would this story have come from that Salome was half Cherokee? Did she find out as a questioning young teenager, or was it something that she had known all along? Or was Catherine Lachenauer really her mother? Or maybe she was descended from Cherokee much further back, and the story somehow morphed into her being "half." She did come from North Carolina, where the Cherokee made their home.

I have Mulry relatives that have said their grandmother, Nellie Hitchcock Mulry, told of Indian roots, and one person mentions a photo of Nellie all dressed up in "full Indian garb", but that photo has been lost. This is just something I may have to continue to speculate about, as there may never be any real proof to substantiate the family story. I would be proud to have Cherokee blood flowing through my veins, but I may never know for sure if I do or not.

What about you? There are so many stories about Native American roots floating about nowadays, but often little evidence. I'm excited to read more by my co-writer at The In-Depth Genealogist, who writes about Native American genealogy. I have a lot to learn, and a lot of curiosity to lead me there!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Indiana History Unit Studies

Now that I've completed my first course of graduate school studying History, I'm ready to dive in and finally start creating those Indiana history unit studies I've been talking about for so long. My first course taught me how to do historical research, and my next class will teach me how to write history. My tentative plan will be to release my first unit study near the time I will be completing my second course next summer. 

What will it be about? The first unit study on Indiana history will be all about the Prehistoric Peoples of Indiana, beginning with the arrival of the Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago, and on up through the Mississippian peoples who made this area their home. As part of my research for the study, I have visited sites such as Mounds State Park in Anderson, Koteewi Park in Strawtown, and I have future plans to visit such places as Angel Mounds in Evansville, and a big trip to Cahokia Mounds in Illinois. The unit study will include vivid photographs from my trips, accompanying field trip tips to those sites, and of course, exciting history all about the peoples who called the Midwest and specifically present-day Indiana home, tailored for a 4th grade student beginning their study of Indiana history.

The Great Mound at Mounds State Park, Anderson, Indiana

I have a Bachelor's in Elementary Education and have taught in schools, but am relatively new to homeschooling. My daughter went to a charter school for Kindergarten, but we decided to transfer her to home school for 1st grade on. My son is two, and loves having his big sister home to learn alongside her. I develop unit studies especially for my daughter, mostly focusing on Language Arts. She is a very inquisitive little girl and I often let her decide what she wants to study. We just finished a three-week study on Space, and this week we switched gears and are doing a little study on Native Americans. For this, we went to Koteewi Park in Strawtown and went on a little walk (their Taylor Center for Natural History was unfortunately closed). But as we were walking the grounds and talking about the people who lived there, I realized something. I have the perfect co-writer. My daughter! I realized again just how creative and inquisitive she is, and concluded she just must do my research with me, and write my Indiana history unit studies along with me. It needs a child's touch, after all.

I'll be launching an author website in the near future, and keep in touch - I'll also be posting free lesson and activity ideas on this blog and that website, designed by my daughter and I. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me!

White River, or Wapahani, at Mounds State Park

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Society Saturday: Indiana Genealogy & Local History Fair

The view from my booth at the Indiana State Library

I participated in the Indiana State Library's Genealogy & Local History Fair today, and it was a wonderful experience. Genealogists are some of the nicest bunch of people, I'll tell ya. We may like hanging around dead people, but we're still friendly with the living.

Well, I was there to promote my books, and I did sell a few, glad to say, but I also spread the word about The In-Depth Genealogist, which I now proudly write for. But the best part was the connections that I made! I sat across from the ladies at the Clinton County Genealogical Society, and we discussed my husband's Ploughe ancestors who lived in Clinton County. I also met Naomi from Scott County, and she purchased my books. (I hope you like them, Naomi.) I don't have any Scott County ancestors, it's one of the few counties in Indiana I'm not connected with, but I hope to maybe see them again next year.

But I was very excited to make a connection with the Society of Indiana Pioneers. I have been toying with the idea of joining their society for years now, and today after meeting their genealogist, Michele, I think I'm finally going to do it. I know I qualify- I am a 9th generation Hoosier on both sides, after all, and I've already found my ancestor Jesse Vawter on their list of approved ancestors, I just have to track down all the documentation to prove I'm his descendant. But for me, the big Indiana history guru to not be a part of their society by now, is a little silly, dontcha think? I know, about time.

Side note, I'm also joining the Indiana Genealogical Society. If you join now, you get an extended membership to the end of 2016. That's worth it, I'll say.

I'm excited to make more connections and maybe travel a little, if not in person, then at least on the page. I just finished my first research proposal before writing this blog post, which completes my first course of graduate school towards my Master's in American History. And after today, I'm more inspired than ever to keep writing, and keep researching. Will you join me?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Indiana Tradition

There are certain times when I feel like a super-Hoosier, and I love it. I love my Indiana heritage, and all the traditions that go along with it. We had a chance to go to Myrtle Beach this week, but decided not to, and although it would have been a lot of fun, I'm kind of glad to stay here right now. Indiana in autumn is simply beautiful, and my favorite time of year.

There's one tradition that I haven't missed once in my lifetime, and that's what's known as the "Stewfest". When I was younger we just called it "Joe & Darlene's".

Every October, my Great-Uncle Joe and Aunt Darlene host a get-together in their big red barn, and my maternal grandpa's side of the family gathers, Uncle Joe cooks stew over the fire, we roast marshmallows, we catch up, and, if the weather cooperates, we go on a hayride. Uncle Joe and Aunt Darlene live out in the country in Morgan County, Indiana, down a windy road, their big house with the wrap-around porch set up on a hill in the trees overlooking the wide open fields. My immediate family has even had a tradition of listening to a particular album on the way down to their house since I was probably in elementary school - the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack - but we can't turn it on until we get to SR-67, and the brightly colored hills are all around us. This tradition took on almost mythic proportions for me as a child, and to this day, even now in my 30s, it seems almost magical.

Uncle Joe & Aunt Darlene with the famous stew

The hayride is my favorite part of the whole thing. This year was the first in three years that we got our hayride. Two years ago the fields were too wet, and last year it was pouring down rain, so heavy we could hardly hear each other over the pounding on the barn roof, and my brother Nicholas and cousin Allie and I agreed it didn't really feel like the Stewfest and went home rather bummed. But this year, as the Stewfest has entered a new age with its own hashtag on Facebook among family members, this year was perfect.

My mom with her 3 grandchildren - Micah, Kira, & Ellie - the 5th generation of the Lutz family to attend the Stewfest

We huddle up next to each other in the hay in our sweatshirts and hoodies as Uncle Joe pulls us on his tractor. The Milky Way is clearly visible above us, and we point out all the constellations we know. Aunt Robin starts singing the Brady Bunch song. My son Micah is snuggled in my lap, one of the 5th generation of Lutz family members to attend the Stewfest. My sister Kristin has her little daughter, Kira, at her first Stewfest. And then when we're way out in the field, my mom recites James Whitcomb Riley's "The Gobble-uns'll getcha ef ya don't watch out" as we all chime in on that part, we all go "wooo-oooo" with the wind, and "have the mostest fun." After that, my brother Nicholas takes after my uncle Isaac and cousins Joey and Kevin, and climbs silently out of the wagon and scares my cousin Jameson half to death. The trees finally clear enough for us to see the whole Big Dipper and I point it out to my daughter Ellie. The tractor rumbles on and we joke and laugh and then we're back and it's time to get out and trudge back up the hill to the barn. We roast some marshmallows, catch up around the fire, and then I hate it but it's time to go. We have a long drive home and it's late. The night was so perfect it could definitely go down in the books as the Stewfest to beat.

I don't know October without it, and I'm already looking forward to next year.

"and the gobble-uns'll getcha ef ya don't watch out!"
What fall traditions does your family celebrate?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sentimental Sunday: A Collection of Foxes

Yesterday I woke up to a phone call from my aunt Sherrie, and my kids and I ended up spending the morning with her. We went out to breakfast, and then we did something that was really hard for me. We went over to my great-great aunt's apartment and went through her things, and I got to choose which things of hers that I wanted to take home. In her credenza, a big note was taped over a collection of old photo albums and memorabilia that read: Katie's Korner. All of that was mine for the taking. She wanted me to have all of it. It was exciting for the genealogist in me: my great-great grandparents' marriage certificate, her high school diploma, an old Bible, old photos, but it was all very difficult at the same time, because of what dividing up all of these things meant. It was hard walking through her apartment without her there, even though she is still living, and deciding to divide up her things. One thing I knew I wanted: a fox. Her name is Betts Fox, and over the years she has collected foxes. Other relatives had already come and taken most of the foxes, but I found a painting of a fox by a local artist in a corner, so I took that, and will hang it in my office. So then we took all of the historical items, paintings, and other odds and ends and loaded up my aunt's car, and then we went over to visit Betts at the nursing home. 

Katie Andrews Potter's photo.
Ellie & Micah with their Great-great-great aunt Betts

We surprised her with our visit, and she was excited to see us. She is 94 years old, and even though she may be in her last months, is still as vibrant as ever. She has always been full of life. She is a Euchre queen, has always kept up with her family and old friends, loves sports and her "soaps".

Betts with her nephew, Jim Mulry, playing Euchre at her birthday party

Happy birthday!

Some day I will write out her life story on my blog, but for now, I just wanted to write out about what was going through my mind as we were going through her things yesterday. This coming week I will be seeing her again, and this time, I'm going to record an interview with her about her life story, memories, and the changes she's seen in her life time living in Indianapolis. I'm so grateful to have gotten to know her. And to my family - take the time to go visit her while you still can. She would love the visit. More to come.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wishful Wednesday: An Enigma

                           "My brother and your father - a good man - an enigma"

These are the words of my great-great uncle, Ralph Holsclaw, written in a letter to my grandmother, Mary Holsclaw Andrews. Her father, Hubert Holsclaw, or "Herb", had just died, and he was writing to her about his death. But neither one of them had known him at the time of his death. Neither one of them had seen him for years before his death.

Hubert Holsclaw had walked out on my grandma and her mother, Helen, when my grandma was only seven years old. She was an only child. My grandma and her mother lived with Helen's parents from that time on, and her grandparents, Elmer and Lottie Oder, became very close to her. But to my knowledge, from the age of seven, my grandma never again saw her father, and I don't believe she ever spoke to him again either.

So in 1973, Ralph wrote a letter on a typewriter to my grandma Mary in response to one she had written to him, telling him there were many things she wished to know. We had never heard about this letter, and only discovered it in her house after she had died. Ralph begins the letter by harkening back to 1927, the year Hubert walked out. He left, relocated to Boston, remarried, and later moved to Miami, where years later, he divorced again. But he was a hard worker, and did, it seems, keep a few close friends, but it seems he had trouble with relationships, and as Ralph later notes, he had a pattern of rejecting the people who loved him. He never did mention a daughter to anyone he came in contact with. He died suddenly, without any warning, at the age of 75.

Ralph writes, "Seventeen elderly persons attended his funeral and signed the register. I met them all as they came in and asked if they had the time to wait after the service so that I could talk with them. We all met in the back of the chapel and each and every one of them expressed to me that they had never known a finer and gentler man. None had laid eyes upon him since he bowed out upon them without a goodbye. An elderly couple who, because of their infirmities, could not attend the service, had a friend drive them to the door of the chapel and asked that I come out and talk to them, which I did. All of their questioning eyes formed the one word - WHY. They and you and I will never know the answer. None of these friends had ever heard of the existence of a brother or a daughter except Mrs. Gasche and she had not heard about you. My brother and your father - a good man - an enigma. I am sure you have detected a pattern in your father's life, as I have - a rejection of the people who loved him....."

These are the times in genealogy when you wish you could have been a fly on the wall. When you wish you could have known Mrs. Gasche, or Ralph, or Ralph's daughter that he mentions, who apparently Hubert favored. But at the same time it gives me insight to my grandmother's childhood, and what pain this man must have caused her. But having only known him to the age of seven, she couldn't really tell me much about him when I asked, or...she didn't really want to. I couldn't tell. An enigma indeed. All of genealogy really is, isn't it?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Travel Tuesday: Lutztown Road

The Lutz line of my genealogy research used to be a huge brick wall for me. It was finally broken down after I was able to look through some things from my great-grandmother's old cedar chest, and then resources from local libraries helped me climb my way up the tree.

Here is my Lutz family tree: 

George Lutz b. 1772 m. Catherine Wolf b. 1777
    - Baltzer Lutz b. 1803 m. Nancy Eby b. 1803
        - Moses Lutz b. 1828 m. Nancy Ann Shafer b. 1833
            - Ervin Lutz n. Ida Slagle
                 - Earl Moses Lutz b. 1886 m. Alma Bertha Bruns
                      - Harold Lutz b. 1920 m. Virginia Bunce
                          - Robert Earl Lutz b. 1944 m. Jacqueline Ann Mulry

This past week we vacationed in upstate New York, and since it was the 4th of July weekend, we decided it would be neat to swing by Philadelphia to see where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Immediately the thought crossed my mind that we would be coming home to Indianapolis heading due west, and the Lutzes were from an area we would be driving through. A quick Google Maps search confirmed this and I headed straight to to locate the cemetery where George and Catherine Wolf Lutz are buried. They lived in Churchtown, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and are buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery. I also knew from reading in an old county history book that the area where they lived and for three generations engaged in wagon and coachmaking was known as Lutztown. When we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the next road by the cemetery was called Lutztown Road. I was standing in the very area the Lutzes must have lived and worked.

We then took to the cemetery. It was a pretty large cemetery, across from a gas station, otherwise surrounded by cornfields. (I was also excited to discover it was very near to the Appalachian Trail.) For once it didn't take me long to find the graves I was looking for.

It was raining so I didn't stay long at their graves, but it was so neat to see them and feel the rough stone. George is the earliest Lutz ancestor I can trace. He was born around 1772 in Switzerland and came to America because of religious persecutions. He settled in Pennsylvania, eventually making his way to Cumberland County. He married Catherine Wolf, and they had nine children. Our ancestor is their son, Baltzer Lutz, who came to Muncie, Indiana, and his son Moses, who was a blacksmith in Muncie.

(To my Lutz relatives, I have much more information. Send me an email and I can send the rest to you. Let me know if you have any questions too! Someday I will turn this all into a book like I'm doing with the Mulry family.)

Long story short, if you ever find yourself traveling near an ancestral homeland, take the extra hour or two out of your day to visit. It's worth it.

History of Cumberland and Adams Counties, Pennsylvania.
Containing History of the Counties, Their Townships, Towns, Villages,
Schools, Churches, Industries, Etc.; Portraits of Early Settlers and
Prominent Men; Biographies; History of Pennsylvania; Statistical and
Miscellaneous Matter, Etc., Etc.  Illustrated.  Chicago: Warner, Beers
& Co., 1886.

Monday, June 8, 2015

8 Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Wayfaring Sisters Series

With the recent release of Going over Jordan, I figured I'd write up a few things about my books for the inquiring mind. If you want to know a little more about the first book, Going over Home, you can go here:

1.       The title of each book in the series is from a line in the old folk song Wayfaring Stranger. The unknown history of the song is part of its magic. Some say it’s an old slave spiritual, others say it’s an Appalachian folk song. Either way, it probably dates to the early 1800s. The song is ultimately above traveling through the world on our way to our heavenly home, but it can also be interpreted to mean more than that. If it was in fact a slave spiritual, then “Jordan” could have meant the Ohio River, the border between slave and free states, as it does in the second book in the series, Going over Jordan.

2.       There will be seven books in the series—maybe more. One book for each Fox sister: Maddie, Ellie, Carrie, Jackie, and Lottie, and then one book for Mama (Evelyn) and one for Grandma (Eleanor).  There is a lot of potential for other women in the family’s stories to be told, but I’m waiting on the inspiration for theirs. These seven women are the ones whose stories are begging to be told.

3.       Each book will tell the story of the main character’s romances, but ultimately each book will be about the character’s coming of age story, and their growth from girlhood to womanhood.

4.       The heroes in the books I’ve written so far (Maddie-Henry, Ellie-Will, Carrie-Asa) are all inspired by my husband, Ben. They’re all different, but each of their characters reflects his in their own special ways, and their romances are drawn from our own.

5.       Back to Wayfaring Stranger—I have listened to this song thousands of times nearly every day for the past six years since beginning work on these books. I have discovered countless versions of the song, but my favorite remains Jack White’s version from the soundtrack from Cold Mountain. This song has shaped the story and character arcs of the books in so many ways, it can only be considered divine inspiration.

6.       Music in general has been such a driving force in writing my books. Alison Krauss and her song If I Didn’t Know Any Better inspired Going over Home. I See Fire by Ed Sheeran inspired Going over Jordan. (Don’t ask why. I have absolutely no idea.) And so far, I Wonder as I Wander by Andy Griffith and Would You Go with Me by Josh Turner have shaped Wayfaring. Thank you, Spotify.

7.       These books are naturally derived from my longtime love of genealogy and Indiana history. I am a ninth generation Hoosier, and so is my husband, so we have a lot of stories to draw from.

8.       I have bipolar disorder, and have had many struggles with my creativity because of this. But I’ve found if I let go and stop worrying about what I’m going to write and give it up to God, he helps me through my brain fog and writes through me. Ultimately I want to use these gifts and passions he’s instilled in me for His glory, and I want to touch lives with them, too.

 These characters are family to me. If they’ve touched you in any way, please let me know. I’d love to hear from readers who’ve enjoyed my work!  

Monday, June 1, 2015

Motivation Monday: The Wayfaring Sisters

Today is release day for my second book - Going over Jordan!

Many of you have read the first book in The Wayfaring Sisters series, Going over Home, released in 2012. The books originated out of my love for genealogy and Indiana history, and are set in present and pioneer Indiana. I am so excited to release Going over Jordan out into the world. You can find it on Amazon in paperback for $7.99 and on Kindle for $2.99. If you've never read Going over Home, it's only $0.99 on Kindle. If you read them, please don't forget to leave a review!

For you Indiana folks, I will also be signing both books at Conner Prairie's Curiosity Fair on Saturday, June 13 11am-4pm. Come out to see me!

Happy reading!

Cover by Kristin Stout
                                                           Cover by Lorie Lee Andrews & Kristin Stout 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cover reveal: Going over Jordan

It's finally complete! Here is the cover for my upcoming book, Going over Jordan, sequel to Going over Home. The design is by Lorie Lee Andrews, an Indianapolis artist, and friend and former neighbor of mine. It is a copper plate etching hand colored with watercolor. Title graphics were done by my sister, Kristin Stout, of Stout Studio Designs in Carmel, Indiana. I must say, I am head over heels with the final product. It's more beautiful than I dreamed. The book will be for sale in a matter of days!


Back of the book reads:

Ellie Fox is a product of the 1990s and 2000s: headstrong, outspoken, and independent. She grew up in the Indianapolis suburbs, started her college life at Indiana University. So when she suddenly has to start life over in the 1840s, her mind is left reeling. She feels, naturally, a bit out of place. Her sister Maddie came with her, but Maddie is now married and seems to be adjusting to her new surroundings quite easily. Not so much for Ellie. She lives with her grandmother in the backwoods and helps her run a station on the Underground Railroad, but what she has been told will become her “new normal” just…doesn’t. And because she is from the future, she knows who she is going to marry— a man named William Cookston. Ellie, ever the hopeless romantic, just knows he will be perfect and will sweep her right off her feet. But when he arrives he seems to be as opposite the man of her dreams as he could be—and he has his secrets, too. Once they’re married, they find themselves living lives of secrecy as they aid runaways. It seems only a matter of time before Ellie’s mouth gets the best of her. And when it does, everything is at stake –even lives. Now it’s up to her to restore their part of the Liberty Line, and grow from a young girl to the woman she is called to be.

Available on Amazon soon!
Release signing: Conner Prairie Curiosity Fair, Saturday, June 13, 2015-11am-4pm- Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, Fishers, Indiana

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

For the love of God

I want to brag on God for a bit here. He is so good. He knows our innermost beings and the desires of our hearts and he seeks to use us through our passions and talents, which he instilled in us. God knows my heart. He knows that the most important thing on this earth to me is my family. When my job in education, being unstable in nature and far away from where we live, which I really did love, began to take a toll on my mental health and my family last year, God helped us make the big decision to transition me to full-time stay-at-home mama at the end of the school semester. It was a huge leap of faith for us. My husband is a good provider, but we really weren’t sure what it was going to look like without my income. But God has sustained us, and has opened up opportunities for me in the world of stay-at-home mamaness. Not only has it restored my mental health and done wonders for my family, especially my children, it has also allowed me to focus my writing career in ways I never have been able to before. I have finally finished my second young adult historical fantasy novel after three years and will be publishing it in June. I am working on editing my great-great-great grandmother’s memoir to turn into a children’s picture book. And the thing I am most excited about: writing Indiana history and genealogy curriculum for homeschooling families.

But since my last blog, God has opened a door that I am about 98% certain I will get to walk through that will expand my writing career in a way I have only dreamt about. I have been accepted into a Master’s program in American History, am all set to start classes in July. I am just waiting on my financial aid to come through. When I first started college in 2004, my majors were History and Writing –two of my greatest passions. After a semester I decided that this was not the direction I was to go – yet—and I changed my major to Elementary Education. In 2010, I graduated with that degree, and I now hold my teaching license in K-6 and have worked in Special Education and ABA Therapy. But now, as God has brought me home and made it clear that he wants me to WRITE in the field of education, he is now opening doors for me to study History again, and these studies will in turn open doors for me to open the doors of history to children around the country, in both fiction and nonfiction. I firmly believe this is the direction God is leading me. He has instilled a love of writing in me since the day I could pick up a pencil and form a word on the page, and the love of story, history, since as young an age.

I am so excited to see where God is leading. It truly is amazing when you come to accept the unique person God has created you to be and understand how he can work through you. It is not yourself who does the work, that we should get the glory, but God. He doesn’t always show you the path clearly laid out, so we have to trust him, but he is so trustworthy. Our lives are in his hands, and I can think of no better place for them to be. Praise his Name.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

#52Ancestors: So Far Away: From Grimm to Holsclaw

Okay, this week is about more than one ancestor, but for the sake of the hashtag, I'll make it about my paternal grandmother's stories of her last name: Mary Ruth Holsclaw Andrews. More to come on her in another post.

Mary Ruth Holsclaw Andrews

Before beginning my genealogy when I was 16, I never knew my grandmother's maiden name. She had never mentioned her parents, though she had often told me about her childhood. So when I heard the name was Holslcaw, I immediately knew it had to be German. Sure enough, she told me that she had heard it came from the name of a town in Germany. She also told me that the name used to be Grimm before it was changed. I was a newbie to online genealogy research at the time, but I stumbled upon Familysearch and typed in the names she gave me. I was excited to right away find names dating all the way back to the 1400s. But what amazed me the most was that my grandmother was exactly right. The name had gone through several changes, but in the 1400s it was Grimm. That oral tradition had been passed down over 600 years to my grandma. I even discovered a book on the genealogy of the Holtzclaw family, and not once did it mention the name Grimm, so I knew she didn't get it from there. That oral tradition  had traveled from so far away. It resided in Nassau-Seigen area of Germany for 300 years, crossed the Atlantic in 1714 with our ancestor Jacob Holtzklau, settled in Virginia, then made it's way to Kentucky and finally to Indiana in the 1840s, where my grandma was born in 1919, and in 2002 it was passed on to me. Genealogy is pretty stinkin cool, folks.

Church at Oberholzklau
from The Genealogy of the Holtzclaw Family 1540-1935
by B.C. Holtzclaw

William Theodore Holsclaw

Jacob Doddridge Holsclaw
Vawter Cemetery, Jennings Co., Indiana

Friday, February 6, 2015

Funeral Card Friday: Grandma "Maxine" Lutz

A little over seven years ago, my great-grandma, Virginia "Maxine" Bunce Lutz passed away. I remember all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren crowding into her hospital room toward the end, but she only passed away after she saw her sister for the last time. She had lived most of her life as a police man's wife and mother to three in Indianapolis, but lived later in Edinburgh, as did her son, my uncle David, so the funeral was held at a church in that town. She was buried next to her husband, my great-grandfather, Harold Lutz, at Friendship Park Cemetery in Paragon, over a half hour away from the church. It was the neatest funeral procession as police men escorted our party all that long way. Below is the beautiful eulogy given at her funeral.

Grandma's high school graduation picture

Virginia Maxine Bunce Lutz was born on December 30 in the year 1923, and she entered into God’s eternal kingdom on Tuesday, January 15, 2008.  She was preceded in death by her parents Esther Giroud and William Bunce, her husband Harold Lutz, her step-brother Frank and her sister Norma.

 Maxine was born in the city of Indianapolis and lived in the city for much of her life.  She graduated from Arsenal Tech High School as one of the top ten students in her class.  Not liking her given name Virginia she preferred to go by her middle name Maxine.  At age 13 she met her future husband, Harold, thanks to her father.  Her father William was a milkman and he often employed young men to be helpers on his milk route.  This was beneficial not only to Maxine but also one of her sisters as they both married milk route helpers.  Harold and Maxine became high school sweethearts and married on January 31, 1942.  Harold gave her the nickname “Mac” and that caught on with family and friends.  They were married for 50 years, until Harold passed away from cancer in 1992.

Early on Maxine or “Mac” was employed by the Indianapolis Police Department and Commercial Motor Freight.  In both positions she worked in the office.  But after her children Bob, Darlene and David were born, Mac focused her energy on being a housewife and mother.  She also did some in home child care.   Mac never drove.  Her first time behind the wheel convinced her otherwise.  She nearly went over a bridge and decided to leave the driving to others.  But this was not a problem for her, as she was a homebody and preferred to spend her time at home caring for the needs of her family and friends.  She was a member of Morris Street Methodist Church, and her three children were all baptized on the same Sunday.

 Maxine had a flair for organization that touched every aspect of her life.  Having grown up during the Depression Era, she understood the importance of stretching every dollar.  She had a knack for household finances and would keep a monthly budget in a rubber-banded Sucrets tin.  She had a pay as you go attitude about spending, and sought various ways to save money, including taking advantage of sales to stock up on necessary items.  Mac was particular about her shopping.  If she sent one of the children to pick up something for her, they better be sure to pick up the correct brand and the right size.  If not, they could anticipate having to go back to make an exchange.  Dented cans weren’t an issue for her.  If it was the brand she wanted, she’d buy it anyway, and save a few cents on the dented can.

 Mac also had a passion for cutting and saving coupons, not only for herself but also for others.  She was a pro at saving Stokely Van-Camp labels and green stamps.  In time she collected enough for a Radio Flyer Wagon and a child-sized wooden rocking chair for each of her grandchildren.

 Her great talent for organization carried over into her daily routine.  Mondays and Thursdays were wash days.  Tuesdays and Fridays were spent ironing.  Her children told me that Mac was passionate about ironing.  Everything got ironed – clothes, sheets, you name it.  Though she did draw a line at undergarments and socks.  Her home was organized.  Furniture never moved once Mac had found a spot for it.  Even after 35 years in one house, the furniture stayed put.

 Mac enjoyed staying current on local events, reading the Indianapolis Star then later in life the Franklin Journal.  She would read the paper cover to cover, and that included the classified section.  She enjoyed collecting information, and would write notes to herself so she could remember everything she wanted to tell someone.  Though she was not an outgoing person, she cared greatly for others.  Household chores were always done by noon and her afternoons were usually spent relaxing in the rocker on the front porch.  She always had a listening ear for her neighbors, and if it was summertime, she would offer homemade iced tea.  She became the repository for all the goings-on in the neighborhood.  Nothing seemed to get past her.

Late in life, when she moved into the Masonic Home, the staff called her the psychologist.  They felt comfortable going to her for advice or simply to vent their frustrations.  They knew she would listen to them and share all their joys and their heartaches.  Even without a front porch, she offered a friendly smile and a welcome to all who knew her.
Though her life was very full with taking care of her family, Mac did have some special interests.  She loved to feed birds.  She enjoying learning about the different types from her bird book and liked to watch them when the came to the house.  She also liked to collect dishes.  If a family member put on a yard sale, Mac would use some of her savings to purchase the dishes.  Though she never seemed to use the dishes she bought, she enjoyed collecting them.

 Mac also loved to bake, and when her children came home from school there was always some type of homemade snack waiting for them.  When her son Bob worked for Standard grocery, she would take the day old fruit and make fresh cobblers for her family.  In the wintertime, homemade hot chocolate was a daily treat.  At Christmastime, snicker doodles and sugar cookies were always part of the festivities.

 Though she was raised a city girl, Mac had no problem adapting when her mother married a farmer later in life.  On Sunday mornings Mac and her husband Harold would drive to her mother’s home to help with the farm work.  She picked vegetables and collected eggs.  She even learned to kill chickens and pluck their feathers.  Mac would take the produce and sell them to her friends in the neighborhood or to Harold’s coworkers.  She did this as a service to her mom and step-dad and refused to accept any money for her help.

 Though Mac had lots of energy, she was plagued by arthritis much of her adult life, and that limited what she could and could not do.  In 1989 she had a double hip replacement surgery.  Afterward she feared being stuck in a wheelchair, never being able to walk again.  Physical therapy was rough for awhile, until daughter Darlene suggested to the therapists a trick of using smelling salts to keep her going.  That worked wonders and soon she was back on her feet again.

 Not long after her husband Harold died in 1992, Mac agreed to move to the White Oak Apartments in Edinburgh.  She got involved with a ladies group there.  This was the first time she had been involved in a group like this, but quickly enjoyed being part of their company.  They played cards and bingo and enjoyed regular pot luck dinners.  About 10 years later Mac moved into the Masonic home.  Her friendliness and love of others quickly drew people to her.  And as I said before, she was a friend to both staff and residents while she lived there.

 So many things can be said about this wonderful woman.  It is easy to see why she was so well-loved by all who knew her.  Mac will be remembered for her laughter, her astounding organizational skills, her practicality, her kindness and generosity, and her great love of family.  Mac is survived by her children Robert, Darlene and David, her grandchildren Craig, Michelle, Sharon, Laurie, Robin, James, Isaac, Ashley, Brian and Chris, eleven great-grandchildren, her sister Betty Puckett, and her step-brother Bill Giroud.  Mac will be greatly missed by her family, her friends, and by all who were blessed by her presence in their lives.  But all who have been touched by this special woman can rejoice that she is now at home in God’s heavenly kingdom.
You are missed, Grandma!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

#52Ancestors: Fredericka Peterson Goldquist

Fredericka Peterson Goldquist

I chose this week to write about my 3rd great-grandmother, Fredericka Peterson Goldquist, on the theme of "plowing through."  Fredericka was an immigrant from Sweden, having been born there in the town of Hagersda in 1824. She came to the U.S. when she was 23 with her parents and siblings. Their destination was Knox County, Illinois, where she lived for the rest of her life. While they were traveling through the Erie Canal many of them contracted cholera. Fredericka's mother and brother both passed from the disease, but Fredericka, even though she constantly tended to the sick, never became ill with it. Even a doctor who later took care of others in her group fell ill and died. This seems to be a theme in Fredericka's life. The History of Knox County, Illinois has a short piece on her, and says many times how she devoted her life to the care of others. She married to Claus Olofson Goldquist and with him had five children, who were left to her sole care when he passed away when still quite young. Even through this she gave so much of her time to others. The piece on her says, "When one attempts to analyze the secret of Mrs. Goldquist's usefulness, he finds it in her sincere faith in Christ and in her desire to serve Him by ministering through every possible, accessible channel, to mankind." She was an active member of the Soldiers' Aid Society during the Civil War and was a ward visitor for many years through The Dorcas Society. In addition to this, she taught a Sunday School class for 35 years, which was so popular it was often crowded. When Fredericka passed away in March 1889, it was said at her funeral that "her career can be said to be worked like golden threads into the better natures of hundreds of men and women here."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wedding Wednesday: "They were very much in love"

I'm so glad I started researching my family history when I was only 16. I would have missed out on so much if I had waited till I was older. My grandma Mary had a wealth of memories, stories, and photos to share with me, and she couldn't have been more elated when I expressed interest. The first time I went over to her house with the purpose of learning about our past, she brought out photo after photo of people I had never even heard of-- people who had been so important to her childhood. Two of those people were her grandparents, Elmer and Lottie Ash Oder. See, my grandma's father left her and her mother when she only about seven years old. So her mother, Helen, and my grandma went to live with Helen's parents-Elmer and Lottie. Elmer owned a hardware store that he built in front of their house on College Avenue in Indianapolis, and my grandma has fond memories of helping him in the store and interacting with the customers, especially the time she and a friend had a lemonade stand he brought all the salesmen down to buy from them.

Elmer Kerr Oder was born in March 1866 to Marshall and Catherine Kerr Oder. Lottie Ann Ash was born in February 1867 to Cookston and Melissa Jane Coen Ash. They met in Bellefontaine, Ohio, and were married on Decemeber 1, 1890.

Wedding photo of Elmer & Lottie
My grandma had so many fond memories of her grandparents, who practically raised her, but something she said stuck out to me: "They were very much in love."
Helen, Lottie, Grandma Mary, Elmer
Christmas Day 1920s
Elmer passed away in 1943 and Lottie in 1955. They are buried side by side at Washington Park East Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mystery Monday: Winnie Walsh

I wrote a similar post about a year ago, but I want to put this out there again to fellow genealogists and see what you can make of it. What I want to know is my direct female line, and my last known ancestor is quite possibly my biggest brick wall. Help?

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 didn't know her grandmother's name on her mother's side. Her name was unknown for years, until I finally was able to make a trip to her hometown. 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 (Aunt 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.


John Garrity & Anna Walsh's marriage record

  If you've made it this far, you see how solid 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. I just want to know the story behind these mystery people, but that remains ever elusive.

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!