Someone’s celebrating a birthday today! And in this lovely Halloween picture… he stole my hat.
June 18, 2014
June 16, 2014
I’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.
I 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!
June 12, 2014
June 11, 2014
June 10, 2014
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.
I 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.
June 7, 2014
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.While 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.