I knew I wouldn’t keep this up while I was in Salt Lake but the next blogs will continue to offer highlights from my recent trip to the Family History Library…

Day 2 was spent mostly on B2, the British Research Floor, further exploring my military ancestors and their relations. Among others, I searched for information on Major Wade Rothwell whose sons, Thomas and Frederick, settled in Warwick, Ontario and married Harry Alison’s daughter, Frances, and her niece (and my 3rd great aunt), Mary Anne Massy.

Interestingly, I couldn’t find him anywhere in the records. And I spent a good chunk of the morning trying to search the internet for any additional information I could find beyond one appearance as a Lieutenant in A List of Officers of the Army and of the Corps of Royal Marines in Google Books. But, through a combination of general searching on the internet and in, I was able to uncover a bit more of his story including his brevet promotion to Major while serving as a Captain in the 6th Garrison Battalion on 4 June 1814. The article below is from 1809 when he first transferred to the Garrison.


Probably the most intriguing find was this one on Black Kalendar, a website dedicated to cataloguing cases of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, etc. in Britain from 1254-2015. This was a fabulous fluke find while googling “Lieutenant Wade Rothwell.” It notes his fine and six month sentence for participating in a duel that left a fellow Lieutenant dead… One more scoundrel on the family tree. The reference is a minimal article from the Hampshire Chronicle available through The British Newspaper Archive but it confirms that Rothwell was in the 9th Regiment. (Search on “Obrie” or “Roth Well”—with a space. The indexing is wonky.)

My fail of the day was finding a the reference down to the bundle number in the British National Archives site of a pension for an Owen Byrne (possibly my 5th great grandfather), only to find that the relevant microfilm roll ended exactly before his entry AND is wasn’t on the next roll. A Specialist did his best to assist me but he was stymied as well. My options are to have someone look it up for me at Kew or order it direct from them. And, no, for some reason it’s not in either though theoretically it should be.

Happy hunting!


There is nothing like going into a research trip while still recovering from a performance weekend! But I am happily on vacation, crossing off a bucket list item by taking a week to do research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake Cityona trip hosted by the Oakland County Genealogical Society.

I spent the majority of my first day on B2 (British Isles) tracking my Massys and Alisons during their time serving in the British Military. As noted before I had located a detailed service record for Hugh Massy but hadn’t been able to find the equivalent for his father-in-law, Harry. Well, with the help of one of the specialists, and after going through a lot of microfilm, I finally found an equivalent record for Harry Alison. A service record with his birth date and place, marriage date and place, outline of service at home and abroad, promotions, and children’s birth dates and location of baptisms. That by itself was a tremendous find for me. And I have a stack of baptismal records and a new web resource to play with.

DetailAlisonHarryServiceRecordNot bad for a first day’s work!

Happy Hunting,


Films to FindI am counting down to a genealogy vacation! I have a billion things to do between here and there (including dancing in a show!) but I’m trying to plot a research plan in snatched moments of down time. I can’t wait!

It’s a chance to do serious research among like minded folk, cross something off my genealogy bucket-list, and at it’s simplest I am getting out of town for a little over a week.

Again… I can’t wait! More from the road soon!

Happy hunting,


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,


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!


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.

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,



Between work and the weather it’s been forever since I’ve been out on the road for research but I was finally able to hop in the car and drive away. Destination-wise Pennsylvania won out (heavily influenced by longtime friends and honorary nieces). I went through my entire database and tried to narrow down the families I wanted to work on.  I went in focusing on two lines: The Helsel/Heltzel/Hoetzel family and the Dice/Tice/Theiss family. Then I plotted out a route on GoogleMaps including any locations I had for them.



There were obvious groupings in certain counties—Bedford and York Counties for the Helsels, and Franklin and Berks County for the Dice family. So, my next step was to locate possible libraries or archives to visit, as well as any relevant cemeteries.  I identified the Bedford County Historical Society, the Franklin County Historical Society in Chambersburg, the York County Heritage Trust, and the Tuplehocken Settlement Historical Society. And I wanted to throw in Gettysburg, as it was right in the middle of my route, and we had at least one family casualty from the battle.

Once I’d figured out a route and places to stay (which I was changing up to the day before I left) I packed my essentials and the next morning got up early and hit the road.

Day 1

After a driving day my first true stop of the trip was Bedford County Historical Society in Bedford, Pennsylvania. I’d sent an email ahead and lucked out with a quick positive reply. They certainly had materials on my Helsel/Hoetzel/Heltzel family and their research coordinator, Dr. Jackson, had just been researching the line and was happy to meet me on my first morning in the area. Pioneer Library was relatively easy to find and a lovely space for display and research. This is a well-maintained collection with helpful and knowledgeable volunteers. I spent about 4 or 5 hours going through their Helsel files and county materials, finding great information on my lines. I also took a little time to try and look into a couple of the peripheral families—like the Imlers and Tobias Jr’s descendants.  I came away with a good stack of photocopies that I’ve only made a quick pass back through.

I also took the time to hunt down the HelselJohnAlbrightCemeterycemetery where Tobias Jr. and family are buried—the Albright Cemetery at Dutch Corner. And, like at least once every trip, I got lost trying to find it. I had a map which somehow didn’t help, a tablet with the Google Map App that kept crashing, and my phone GPS that told me I was headed in the wrong direction. After a bit of wandering on winding, hilly roads I did finally track it down and pay my respects to Johan Tobias Heltzel, Jr and his wife.

Triumphant, I hopped on PA-30 for my next hotel and spent the remainder of the day working through my notes and photocopies.

Stay tuned for more on my PA trip.

Happy hunting,


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