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!