June 2014


The last installment on my Pennsylvania road trip…

Where Gettysburg was a somber experience my next stop was invigorating. The next morning I got up bright and early in the city of York to do research at the York County Heritage Trust. Again, I had emailed ahead to see what I might expect and had received a very positive reply from the head archivist indicating that there was a substantial amount of information on the Helsel/Heltzel/Hoetzel families. I parking at a local ramp and walked a couple blocks to the Museum and Archives. It’s another repository that charges a daily fee for non-members and asks you to put the majority of your materials away in lockers before fully entering the premises—but it’s so worth it.

I could have spent a week here—and as it was I opted to change my plans and spend half the following day there versus making other stops on my last research day. I went in focused on the Helsel family and was very impressed with their systematic approach. With the proliferation of German names they have control spellings and numbers for their research files so, for example, the Helsel’s control spelling was “Heltze”l and the number was 2636. Armed with that, a volunteer pulled a clippings file, and the appropriate sections of cemetery, tax, estate, and vital card files. And the card files in turn led me to detailed transcriptions and facsimiles of relevant church records. And as I started going through those I realized that I could find information on almost all of my German lines within their collection. As I said, I could have stayed a week.

I spent all of day one on the Helsel’s or working through the church records. And the staff didn’t have to twist my arm to get me to come back the next morning—despite the huge one day parking garage bill. In the end that too, could have been helped if I’d asked the right questions up front. When I paid for my copies at the end of the day the receptionist told me that they had access to free parking in a temporary lot behind the building. I’m chalking the day one bill up to a city donation for having such a fabulous research facility.

Christ Lutheran Church, York, PennsylvaniaChrist Lutheran Church Cemetery, York, PennsylvaniaOn the second day, I got up a little earlier so that I had time to walk down to Christ Lutheran Church (where one branch of the family worshiped) and take photographs. At the archives I spent time on my Mohr, Morningstar, Glass, and Kuntz families—all solidly intermingled long before the same families are marrying in again upon migrating to Ohio. If I had more time I would have spent even more time researching my Dice, Coppenhaver, and Grove families. I have no doubt there would be materials to find. Maybe next trip?

Happy hunting,

Jess

robertejohnson1Today marks the 30th anniversary of my Great Grandfather Robert Eugene Johnson’s death. I don’t remember him at all, though I had to have been seven when he died. I get them impression that there is still a lot of anger and hurt surrounding his and my great-grandmother’s seven year marriage but I also know that if not for that union, I would not be here.

One note on the picture:  I have no idea who the woman with him is. She’s possibly a second wife before my Step-Great-Grandmother Rita?

Happy hunting!

Jess

Someone’s celebrating a birthday today! And in this lovely Halloween picture… he stole my hat.

 

My Steampunk Nephew

Happy hunting!

 

Jess

 

CoryEdwardGettysburg1863My interest in visiting Gettysburg was peaked when I learned about my 4th Great Uncle Edward M. Cory. He was born around 1826 in Ontario County, New York one of the younger children of Gideon and Ruth Cory and the younger brother of my 4the Great grandfather John B. Cory (father of Augusta Cory). The family appears to have moved to Michigan sometime between the 1830 and 1840 Census settling in Wayne County. I know nothing of his early life but on 21 Dec 1848 Edward married Clarissa A. Gates in Plymouth, Wayne County, Michigan. Within a year the first of two daughters was born—Miss Mary Ann Cory. Two years later she was joined by Josephine A. Cory. In the 1850 Census Edward was listed as a Farmer but come the time of his enlistment in August of 1862 he was occupied as a carpenter.

Edward mustered in15 Aug 1862 as a Private in Company C of the 24th Infantry. As mentioned in yesterday’s post he was mortally wounded in on 1 Jul in the opening salvos of Gettysburg. He was wounded “through the thigh by a ‘Minnie ball’ and died 14 Jun 1863 of gangrene per his company Chaplain’s testimony in Clarissa’s widow’s pension file. The Champlain states that he was buried at the old burying ground at Gettysburg but there is also at least a stone at Riverside Cemetery in Plymouth, Michigan.

Clarissa was granted a widow’s pension including some funds to aid in raising Josephine as a minor (under the age of 16). I haven’t been able to trace what happened to Mary Ann, but Josephine married Albert M. Button 25 Dec 1868. The couple had one child, Edward, born 22 Jan 1870. At the time of the Census they lived in Plymouth and Clarissa was part of their household. Josephine and Albert appear to have divorced sometime between then and 1880 when she and Edward resided with Clarissa in Plymouth. At the age of 18 Edward married Minnie E. Pulcifer in my hometown of Lansing, Michigan. From what I’ve found so far they had no children—creating yet another dead end in my Cory family.

Happy hunting,

Jess

Monument to the 24th Michigan Infantry at Gettysburg, PennsylvaniaI’d never really been interested in the Civil War… not really. American history in general was never really my cup of tea. But researching my family has brought those parts of history alive for me as I began to understand how events affected my ancestors directly. So, when I realized my route lead me right by it, I added a stop in Gettysburg to my road trip.

I’m told the way to go is to hire a tour guide at the Museum and Visitor’s Center and have him or her hop in your car with you. As a solo traveler that wasn’t going to happen. Instead, I made sure I had a book, in this case Mark Grimsley’s Gettysburg: A Battlefield Guide (older but useful), and due to weather considerations (overcast with periodic downpours) I made a very short list of sites or monuments I wanted to visit: the two monuments to the Michigan 24th Infantry and the National Cemetery.

When coming in US Route 30/Lincoln Highway I stopped off first at the memorial’s commemorating the fighting on 01 Jul 1863. I turned down a heavily wooded Stone-Meredith Road and pulled off to take photos of the primary monument to the Michigan 24th, which, as a part of the Iron Brigade, initially turned back the first Confederate offensive of the battle through Herbst’s Woods. Unfortunately, they were outnumbered and eventually outflanked. At the end of the day the 24th’s casualties alone were 363 (dead, wounded, captured) of 496 including a mortally wounded Edward M. Cory, my 4th Great Uncle. To stand there on a gray, rainy day and read the monuments and try to make sense of that much carnage was very moving.

Marker to the 24th Michigan Infantry at Gettysburg, PennsylvaniaI also made sure to drive to the National Cemetery and walk the loop. My timing was good. I was in between school bus groups enjoying year-end field-trips so mostly it was a peaceful walk. I did end up soaked to my ankles because I left the path to walk the headstones of the Michigan wing.  But it was otherwise dry until I made it back to my car—at which point the heavens let loose again. When it lightened up a bit I did a last drive around the southeast part of the battlefields including Culp’s Hill and past the second Michigan monument at its foot.

It was a somber but enlightening day!

Happy hunting!

Jess

The annoying thing is, he could even make baggy plaid look cute. What do you do with a baby brother like that?

p1980116

Have a happy birthday, dude!

Jess

Found this while hunting around for something else. The sisters are my Great Aunt and my Grandmother. The poor kid cut out at the top is their younger brother. I believe the girl in the box is a cousin but I’m going to have to double check that.

Happy hunting,

Jess

SheaKids

Day 2 of my recent Pennsylvania Roadtrip.

I started the day with a quick side trip before the Franklin County Historical Society in Chambersburg opened at 10 am. I drove north of town up to the Emmanuel Lutheran Church Cemetery in Upper Strasburg, Letterkenny Township right on Upper Strassburg Rd. This relatively small cemetery was full of Dice family relatives—including my 6th Great Grandparents John Michael and Margaret (Besore) Dice (headstones below). It was a lovely quiet morning and a peaceful time to be wandering through and taking pictures.

MichaelMargaretDiceHeadstones
Afterwards, I drove back to Chambersburg to try the Historical Society Library which is situated in the upper floor of the Old Cuunty Jail. When I arrived I was greeted by a very helpful volunteer who was there just long enough to set up me and my fellow researchers for the morning. The space for researchers is small—especially when you have guests in from Washington State, Iowa and Michigan—but they have a detailed collection of surname files, area historical records and abstracts, etc. I spent most of my time in the surname files researching the Dice and Grove lines and their allied families. I was thrilled to find abstracts and transcriptions of wills that have helped piece together connections between the Dice, Grove, Foltz and Reith families (among others). Just as a heads up, the society asks for a five dollar donation for researching on site but it is more than worth it. And they allowed scanning which was really helpful—although I killed both phone and tablet using a scanner app.

Old Franklin County Jail, Chambersburg, PennsylvaniaI genuinely thought I would be in the position of running out of time but come to find out it was the Society’s late night and the afternoon volunteer kindly stayed through the hour they would normally close for us out-of-towners. I stayed until about 7:30 pm along with the ladies from Washington.

I had actually meant to stop early because Chambersburg looked so appealing—including great old architecture, a nearby library and a river. I had really hoped to stop and walk around a little. But by the time I finally left I was exhausted and ready for dinner. Best I got were a few lovely pictures outside the Old Jail.

Happy hunting,

Jess

 

I’m well off pace but I still hope to complete the challenge! These next few ancestor profiles will hook into my recent roadtrip.
I’m 99% certain that Philip Helsel is my 6th Great Grandfather and the father of John Helsel who brought his family to Michigan in in the 1840s. I believe—but have been unable to conclusively prove—that he is the son of Johan Tobias and Engela (Mohr) Heltzel. I do not know the name of his wife (some researchers have suggested Catherine) but their children included John (above), Jacob and Catherine (who married William McFall)—who brought their families to Michigan around the same time; Peter whose family thrived in Mahoning County, Ohio; and then I believe there were at least two other sons: Philip Jr. and Joseph. Philip was born in Pennsylvania in 1769 in York County, Pennsylvania. He is the Philip who lived in Fallowfield Township, Washington County in 1810. In 1820 and 1830 he is enumerated in Boardman Township, Mahoning County, Ohio. I believe that he died  before 1840.1830 Census HelselWhile I am fairly confident that my gut feeling that the connection between Philip and Johan Tobias is correct, I wasn’t able to make any progress in proving the connection on this trip. I found a tremendous amount of material on the Helsel/Heltzel/Hoetzel families including a fair amount of supporting material on collateral lines—particularly in Bedford and York Counties—but nothing concrete came to light. I’m hoping that backtracking and doing more research in Ohio will get me farther.

Happy hunting,

Jess

BradleyCountyCoupleBradley County researchers, this one’s for you! My family has no idea who these two are. They could be Trotters, Yorks or just friends of the family. We have no idea. We just found this picture among my Grandmother’s photos (along with this one). Anyone recognize this happy looking couple?

As an aside, the woman reminds me so much of someone I went to school with as a child in Michigan.

Happy hunting,

Jessica

 

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