Wednesday, October 26, 2016

National Archives Virtual Fair

Let's All Go To The Fair!

Image from WikiMedia - NOT this kind of fair!

Do you sometimes feel like the universe is trying to tell you something? I DO!

I received two emails this week that told me about an event I had never heard of before. First, my co-worker and friend, James, sent me a link to the Press Release, then The Legal Genealogists'  post covered the same event. Thanks to both of you!

National Archives Press Release

Legal Genealogist's Post

The National Archives will be offering their 12th two day Virtual Genealogy Fair. For those of you who aren't familiar with the National Archives:

The National Archives holds the permanently valuable records of the Federal government. These include records of interest to genealogists, such as pension files, ship passenger lists, census and Freedmen’s Bureau materials. For information on National Archives holdings see
(From their web site.)

These are the people who hold the historical Service Records and Pension Records of our military ancestors. And they have so much more! But finding and accessing their materials isn't always easy. So I am thrilled to be able to participate in this fair. No sign ups required. If you can't view the sessions in real time, they will be available on You Tube.

These are just some of topics that will be covered:

  • Introduction to Genealogy at the National Archives
  • The Best National Archives Records Genealogists Aren’t Using
  • National Archives Innovative Online Resources and Tools to Help with Your Genealogical Research
  • You too can be a Citizen Archivist! Getting the most out of the National Archives Catalog
  • Department of State Records for Genealogical Research
  • Nonpopulation Census: Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Social Statistics
  • What’s New in the Lou: A Look at the Latest Accessions at the National Archives at St. Louis

Thursday's You Tube Link

I plan on viewing these sessions. How about you?

On another topic, have any of you encountered problems posting questions or comments on the RootsWeb mailing lists? I typically post this blog to the OH-Medina mailing list and the posting has bounced back as "undeliverable" for the last 3-4 weeks. I contacted RootsWeb support and received this answer:
"We are currently in the process of upgrading our technical infrastructure. Some processes are on hold until this upgrade is complete. This currently includes some Mailing List processes and features including the ability to send and receive postings. Once the work is finished everything should be working as normal again. Unfortunately, we do not have a timeframe as to when this work may be completed."

Hopefully, they will resolve this issue soon. If you routinely get the blog from the mailing list and don't want an interruption, you can always sign up to receive the blog directly in your email. In the upper right corner, look for "Follow by email" and a box for entering your email address.

Till next week...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

But I Found it in a Book!!!!

... or on the Internet! Or my uncle told me so!!


When I can't verify the information in a family story,
I consider it a piece of interesting fiction.

As genealogists, we all must evaluate the sources that we use ALL THE TIME.

Lisa and I struggle with this constantly as we work with library members who come to us for help with their research. We try to gently remind them that they must have reliable sources for all of their information.

Unreliable sources fall into three main categories:
  1. Oral family stories
  2. Family trees uploaded to the Internet or or
  3. Unreliable Books
We will examine each of these.

1. Family stories are tales that get passed down from generation to generation. Most of us can spout several family stories that everyone will swear are true. But unless you have documentation that proves they story, that is all it is. A story.
Wilma Mankiller - First Female
 Chief of the Cherokee Nation

  • If you have a tradition of Cherokee ancestry, find the family in one of the several special rolls that document membership in the Cherokee Nation. Or track the family to a location that the Cherokee were known to inhabit and examine all sources on the tribe in that area. 
See why you are not related to a Cherokee Princess

  •  If you have a tradition of a famous ancestor, do your research. Work backwards on your family history from the present (yourself) towards the past to see if there is a connection. Avoid the tendency to bend the facts to support your cherished belief. And NEVER start with the famous person and try to work towards yourself.

I am not saying that family stories are useless. They can be great guideposts to help you point the way for your research. But if you rely on them without documenting them, they remain fictional stories.

2. Family trees that are uploaded to the Internet, or or Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with these sources. But you have to look at them critically. They are only as good as the research capabilities of the person who uploaded them. So many people just follow the "little green leaves" on Ancestry and accept what they find there as their family.  They may be. But most likely they are not. And that kind of clicking isn't research. That is more like playing a video game than serious researching. Then they upload their trees and perpetuate the mistakes.

Look for family trees that list where they find the information and use primary resources. If they have a way to contact the person who uploaded the tree, do so. Compare notes. Ask what sources they used.

Evaluating Family Trees on
3. Books 
 I LOVE books, as you might expect from someone who works in a library. There is a clear distinction between fiction/make-believe and non-fiction/based on fact.

However, some non-fiction books have blurred that distinction. Here are a couple of examples:
  • Frederick Virkus published a 7 volume Compendium of American Genealogy in 1925. It was taken at face value for many years and is often cited in published genealogies.  But now, it has been discredited. On page 228 of The Family Tree Problem Solver, author Marsha Hoffman Rising states that the Compendium is wrong 30% of the time.  But the Medina Library still has the books on the shelves of the Franklin Sylvester Room. Why? Because it is right 70% of the time. We expect you, the serious researcher, to verify the information within its pages in other sources. Rising's book goes on to say that "computerized census indexes have an estimated 10 to 20 percent omission rate, and a 30-40 percent inaccuracy rate." 

Bad books? Yes, 30% of the time.

  • Lisa touched on these next two books in her recent POSTThe Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio and The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Who Lived in the State of Ohio. Mike McCann of Medina County Graves ran into this problem also and contacted the National and the State of Ohio DAR offices and got these responses:
    • From  Genevieve Shishak, Historian, NSDAR:   The volume that you mentioned–‘The Official Roster of Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio’ was not compiled by the National Society of the DAR, but under the direction of the state of Ohio, –published by direction of Frank D. Henderson, Adjutant General, and John R. Rea, Military Registrar, and compiled by Jane Dowd Dailey, DAR State Chairman of Historic Sites and Revolutionary Soldiers’ graves of Ohio, 1923-1932. Though our library has copies of these volumes, we do not have any records relating to their compilation, as this was not a NSDAR undertaking.It seems that Ohio DAR chapters collected the information contained in the volumes, in an attempt “to present an authentic and complete list of Revolutionary War soldiers buried in this state,” according to the Foreword, by Jane Dowd Dailey, who also stated the following: “The Roster is not designed as a genealogical reference book, although it may be of service in tracing pioneer ancestry.” You might wish to contact the Ohio Society of the DAR to see if they have any records relating to the compilation of this roster. 
    • Then from Laverne Ingram Piatt, OSDAR State Chairman, Lineage Research, Registrar, Jared Mansfield Chapter, DAR:“Frankly, the publication “Official Roster of Soldiers of the Revolution Buried in Ohio” is worthless. It is not accepted by National Society DAR as a valid source of evidence for service. I don’t know when it was published and I don’t know the requirements for research into the listings of the men included. Personally, I believe that a disclaimer should be pasted into the front cover of every copy of the book still in existence….. Your Fred Jones error is not the only one in the book, I’m afraid. And that’s why the book is not held in high regard.”
  • Bogus Compiled Family Histories: Halberts of Bath, OH, and Morphcor of Denver, CO, are two companies who preyed on susceptible people for years. They promised to send heirloom quality family histories. What their victims received were a few pages of generic genealogical information and a phone book listing of all the people in the country with the same last name. Halberts was forced in 1995 by the U.S. Postal to cease their false advertising. Reportedly the company moved out of state and continues operations.Morphcorp ran a similar scam and was forced by the Colorado Attorney General to change their business practices.  More information here.

What to look for in a reliable book, web site or family tree:

Reliable sources:
  • Show documentation- where did they get the information? 
  • Include complete citations so you can track their research. 
  • Use Original/Primary Sources - written at or near the time of the event by someone who had personal knowledge of the event 
  • Performs reasonably exhaustive search - see Lisa's blog from a few weeks ago Have all the records that are available been searched?
  • Completeness of Research - Is some vital information missing? Are there gaps in the timeline?
  • Analyze their conclusions. If primary source documentation isn't available, have they considered alternate scenarios? Have they scrutinized the information?
  • Resolve conflicting information from different sources. Do they use qualifiers like "probably" or "likely" to describe their conclusions that are not based on documented facts?
  • Make sense. 5 year old girls and 64 year old women do not give birth. Check to see if the information given makes logical sense. 

As always, don't miss an opportunity to learn more about this fascinating and demanding hobby. Take classes and attend conferences. There is always more to learn!

Evidence Explained: Cite History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills
Genealogical Standard of Proof

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Franklin Sylvester

Franklin Sylvester as a younger man.
From the Medina Library Collection

Franklin Sylvester


Franklin Sylvester was born on March 28, 1831 in Bristol, Ontario County, New York. His parents were Francis Sylvester (1798-1878) and Cynthia Hatch Sylvester (1812-1881). They left New York in 1833 and settled in Granger Township in Medina County.

The Sylvesters had seven children. The elder Sylvester was a wagon maker. They family scraped by, but the times were tough and there was little opportunity for much in the way of education for Franklin.

But at a very early age he learned the value of hard work. At 9, he started working for the neighboring farmers. He saved up his wages and started trading in livestock. He started with sheep and cattle and moved on to horses. At 16, he bought a team of horses and a wagon and hired  himself out as a hauling contractor. His twentieth birthday found him the owner of a farm and "one of the best judges of stock anywhere in the country." By the age of 25, he had saved up $3,000. He went into the mercantile business with R.N. Hickox at Grangerburg. He also ran an ashery* and continued to deal in livestock.

On Oct. 4, 1857, he married Eunice Reid, also of Granger Township.

He continued trading in livestock and also started dealing in real estate transactions. In 1878 he is listed as the executor of the estates of several of his neighbors. This was a real mark of respect and trust, both from his neighbors and by the magistrates that oversaw the transactions.

Sketch of the Sylvester homestead from the 1874 Combination Atlas Map
of Medina County

Map of Granger Township with Franklin Sylvester's holdings outlined in red.
From the 1874 Combination Atlas Map of Medina County

In the 1881 History of Medina County and Ohio, he is described as "a self-made man...(of) excellent judgment, a remarkable business tact, and indomitable energy and perseverance, a strict integrity in dealing and a power (which few men possess) of keeping his own counsels." It continues, "Through all his pecuniary prosperity, it is but simple justice to say he has been notably magnanimous in the use of a wealth that a propitious Providence has thrown into his hands. His donations for educational, religious and other charitable purposes have been very considerable..."

Picture from a 2001 Medina Gazette article,
showing Franklin, a dog,  his wife Eunice, an
 unidentified girl and a servant

Franklin and Eunice never had any children, but the couple enjoyed and assisted their many nieces and nephews. (16 are listed as beneficiaries in his will.) They cared for and helped several other struggling youngsters, including Etuna Heyl (also a beneficiary).

Franklin Sylvester Portrait
From Medina Library Collection
Eunice (Reid) Sylvester From
Medina Library Collection

Franklin continued to deal in cattle and real estate. He became know as a successful breeder of fine cattle, specializing in short-horns. He accumulated land until he owned 1,500 acres, of what was considered the best land in northern Ohio.

A.R. Webber claims that he inspired Franklin to make his biggest charitable donation. A la Andrew Carnegie, Franklin's name could live on when placed on the side of a library. Personally, I cannot imagine that a man with so many siblings and niblings** would be worried about the perpetuity of his name. But Franklin did believe in a good cause and had a desire to better the world.

Toward that end, he donated  the money for a dedicated library building in the county seat- The Franklin Sylvester Library. He donated $10,000 towards the building and not satisfied with the look of the roof, donated another $1,000 to have it remedied. He also provided $4,000 for the library in his will.

The Original 1907 Franklin Sylvester Library
Franklin died May 1907.

The Board of Directors of the Old Phoenix Bank were his pall bearers. Part of his obituary read: "Showing a mark of final respect to the man who had been so highly representative of all that is best in our county and who had so generously given to the welfare of Medina Village."

The Franklin Sylvester Library opened up for business on 29 September 1907. Franklin never got to see his dream realized.

Franklin Sylvester Local History & Genealogy Room

In a Medina Gazette editorial, a call went out for a life-size portrait of Franklin to be gifted from the citizens of Medina, and to hang in the library that bore his name. Perhaps the citizens stepped up to the challenge, for Franklin Sylvester's portrait in charcoal still hangs in the room that bears his name - The Franklin Sylvester Room.  

*Ashery - is a factory that converts hardwood ashes into lye, potash, or pearlash.
** Nibling - The child of one's sibling (in other words, one's niece or nephew), especially in the plural or as a gender-neutral term. 

The History of Medina County and Ohio, pub. Baskin & Battey, 1881.
The Medina County Gazette,  7 June 1907, p. 1.
The Medina County Gazette, 20 March 2001, p. C-1
1945 Letter written by A.R. Webber to Earl & Elbridge Gibbs urging the citizens of Medina to enlarge the library. (in the Medina Library's collection)
1874 Combination Atlas Map of Medina County
Franklin Sylvester's will. (copy in the Medina Library collection.)
Discover Medina

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

We All Have 'Em

Black Sheep*

We all have 'em. The ne'er-do-wells. The rascals. The "not mentioned in polite company". And the criminal. (read to the end to learn about my family's many "Black Sheep") Many families never do mention their black sheep relatives. And then there are those who celebrate them: Black Sheep Ancestors.

Question is, what do we do with them when we are documenting the family history?

First of all, we do document them. We document them just like any other ancestor or relative. And luckily, they turn up in the written records more often than their tamer cousins. You will find them listed in the newspaper accounts and in the court systems. You might even find these ne'er-do-wells in the history books.

And we interview our living relatives about these characters. And this is where it can get a little sticky, because not everyone will see these individuals in the same light as a genealogist looking to flesh out the lives of ALL of the relatives. Some people would really rather NOT talk about them. Or they might try to gloss over the perceived shortcomings of the eccentric members of the family. And just how hard to you push your living relatives about these "oddballs"?

Recently, I read an article from a respected genealogist who said that you pressure the reluctant relative to reveal all they know about their more infamous ancestors because "you will find it out one way or another". And by answering your questions they at least have a chance to give their side of the story.

I do not agree with this tactic. To begin with, by pressuring someone to reveal family history that they are not comfortable revealing pretty well guarantees that you will never be invited back for more interviews. You could cause real grief and possibly a rift in the family. Also, that person will never want to talk to anyone else about the family either, thereby closing off an avenue of discovery.

Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, recently posted about this topic on her blog:
The Legal Genealogist and she re-posted from another blog hosted by her friend and Certified Genealogist, Debbie Parker Wayne, Deb's Delvings in Genealogy. Deb says that these sensitive situations should be dealt with using Context. Empathy. Time. 

Basically, you want to treat ALL your relatives, the living and the dead, with respect. (EMPATHY) You don't pressure them into revelations that they will regret later and you don't broadcast all of their misdoings for the entertainment or edification of others.

TIME. If an incident happened 100 or 200 years ago and everyone immediately involved is long since dead, the effects of revealing an indiscretion are going to be minimal.

So you will want to "shield" some of your family information and not publicly broadcast it while the interested people are still alive. This is just a common courtesy. You don't lie about it. And you can share the information in a respectful manner.

And while I have a number of "black sheep" stories about my living relatives, the following events all relate to individuals who have long been dead:
Not just for sinners

  • One of my great grandfathers was often quoted as saying "Stop Signs are for sinners." It was always said to indicate that he never heeded stop signs.  A newspaper article about his traffic violations seems to confirm this little tidbit. (But as we are all "sinners" wouldn't this indicate that stop signs were for everyone?)
  • Another grandfather went to prison for 5-10 years for attempted manslaughter. He told the judge that he was just trying to scare the victim into telling him where his wife was. As he was an avid hunter and only wounded the victim, I suspect the he was "under the influence" at the time of the incident. He was also wounded during the exchange and was found walking up and down the street in front of his house by the sheriff. When asked what he was doing, he replied that he was afraid to go into the house by himself because he believed he would bleed to death. I would like to nominate this relative for an episode of America's Dumbest Criminals.
  • This same grandfather was arrested as a young man for "disturbing the peace on the Sabbath" as he raced his horse past a church during service, whooping and hollering at the congregants.
  • And in yet another example of bad decision making, this man left his wife and 3 young children for his sister-in-law, eventually having a fourth child by her. His wife, not to be out-done by her errant husband, also took up with another man and had his child before finally filing for divorce some 9 years later.
  • One of my 2 X great grandfathers was arrested for not showing up when was drafted
    Battle Flag of the 76th OVI
    for the second time during the Civil War. In his defense, he did show up the first time and was part of the Bloody 76th OVI. He had a medical discharge from that unit due to a "head injury received in camp, but not related to any battle injury". When he was later called up for the Ohio 43rd, he just did not show up. So they came and got him. Thirty years after the Civil War ended, his wife had him committed to an Insane Asylum for locking her out of the house. His commitment papers sound a lot like he was suffering from Alzheimer's which has been passed down on that side of the family.
  • Another, more distant, relative was sentenced for horse theft in 1820's Delaware. The Governor commuted his sentence, but the commutation arrived too late. The "corporal punishment" had already been administered. I am still researching to find out what that corporal punishment was.
I could go on, and on, and on... Yep, we all got 'em.

*Wikipedia definition of Black Sheep.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reasonably Exhaustive Research

Hello again! It's me, Lisa Rienerth, Kathy is graciously giving me the opportunity to write another blog spot! She had to listen to me talk (and talk) about this confusing research and thought it might be a good lesson for all. 

The Board for Certification of Genealogists has a list of five elements that they use to judge research to be a fact. The first of these elements is "Reasonably Exhaustive Research".  This contributes to the credibility of the information and reduces the chances of future evidence contradicting the earlier results.

Many beginning family history researchers feel that if they find one source to back up their information, that is all they need. However, as I will show you, this can lead to years of false research. It is gravely important to search for every bit of evidence to substantiate your results.

Two other mistakes made during research is believing that the written word is correct, whether it is in book or digital form and using another persons research as a source. I can't stress enough that you must do your own research. Use the previous research as a stepping off place, but do not consider it proof. You must look at the original source and make your own decisions about the quality of it. Sometimes, you do not find the one source with the exact information you are looking for, but if you have done an exhaustive search, you should have enough proof to back up your results.

Let me show you an example of what can happen when using undocumented sources. My ancestor, Samuel Rhoades/Rhodes, was said to have been a Revolutionary Soldier. As I began my research I found a published source that listed my ancestor as having died in Sandy Hill, Washington County, New York, but that he was buried at Mound Hill Cemetery in Seville, Guilford Township, Medina County, Ohio. I do have sources that prove his wife, Mary Rhoades/Rhodes, is buried at this cemetery, but nothing I had said he was there beside her.

I obtained Samuel's pension record and it stated that he filed for his pension while living in Sandy Hill, Washington County, New York. The record goes on to say that he died on the 9th of February 1832, in Sandy Hill. It didn't say he was buried there.

The pension record also had a letter from Samuel stating that he desperately needed this money, due to the fact he broke his knee plate and was only surviving on the charity of his neighbors and the government.

After seeing this I couldn't help wonder if the family had the funds to bring Samuel's body to Ohio. For that matter, why would the family bring Samuel's body to Ohio in the first place? Washington County, New York is more than 540 miles from Medina County, Ohio. It was doable, but not probable.

I contacted the compiler of the information where I first found my ancestor listed as being buried in Medina County and asked if I could get a list of sources used to confirm Samuel's burial location.

The list of sources below were what was used to confirm his final resting place. 

1. DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution] Website: Ancestor #A096068
2. SAR [Sons of the American Revolution] Website: Patriot P277780
3. Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots, by Hatcher, Patricia Lee [Pioneer Heritage Press, Jun  1, 1987]
4. Official Roster of the soldiers of the American Revolution buried in Ohio, Vol II, page 292 [1938]
5. US Pension Records of Ohio 
6. NSDAR [National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution]  Lineage Book, Vol 91,    (1912), page 88
7.  Revolutionary War Pension W4319

The records found on the DAR and SAR websites do not include sources and I do not feel comfortable accepting genealogical research without sources.

I found the listing of Samuel in the Official Roster of the soldiers of the American Revolution buried in Ohio, Vol II, (1938) page 292 and the NSDAR Lineage Book, Vol 91, (1912), page 88. Which is shown below:

RHOADES, SAMUEL, Medina co [Official Roster of Soldiers...]
Pvt May 1775. 8 mo under Capt Seth Ballard Jan 1776; 12 mo under Samuel Parsons
Sept 1777; 4 mo under Harvey Sept 1777; May 1778 2 mo under David Shay.
In battles of Forge Point and Saratoga. B 9-25-1753 at Stoughtingham Mass; Son of
Samuel and AbigaU (Thorp) Rhoades; mar Mary Morse 11-21-1773 at Walpole Mass;
chldr: Jabez; Polly; Ireney; Andrew; Francis; Samuel; Jesse; Elias. Soldr d 2-9-1832
at Guilfard (later called SevUle) Medina co O. Bur at Seville O. In 1850 cem replatted.
Inscrpt on monument of yvife "Mary, wife of Samuel Rhodes, died Nov 21 1837 ae 81 yr 5 mo 7 da." A sunken grave adjoining with a 15 ft pine tree growing where stone would be is thot to be grave of Samuel. Ref No. 196473 D A R. Rept by Jonathan
Dayton chpt, Dayton O

Born in Lansing, Mich.
Wife of William Rose Lesher.
Descendant of Samuel Rhodes, as follows:
1. Charles H. Sutliff (1843-1907) m. 1868 Eliza M. Rhoades (b. 1848).
2. Jesse Rhoades (1824-98) m. 1847 Lucinda Harris (1828-1906).
3. Elias Rhoades (1794-1874) m. Phebe Safford (1798-1870).
4. Samuel Rhoades m. 1773 Mary Morse (1756-1838).
Samuel Rhoades (1758- 1832) served as private, 1775-78, under Cap
tains Seth Ballard, Samuel Parsons and Daniel Shay. He was
engaged in battles of Frogs Point and Saratoga. He was born in
Norfolk County, Mass. ; died in Seville, Ohio.

Two pieces of information stand out to me in these listings. 

The listing in the book of Revolutionary Soldiers buried in Ohio states "A sunken grave adjoining with a 15 ft pine tree growing where stone would be is thot to be grave of Samuel." This listing looked familiar to me. When my mother died I inherited some family papers and in those papers was a letter to my great grandmother from her cousin. The letter was dated 1931 and spoke of her visit to the "Seville Cemetery" looking for grave sites. To quote the letter "I pushed aside some of the B.B. [Bouncing Betties, Flowers] to read from old stone - I saw this: Mary, wife of Samuel Rhoades died Nov 21 1831 ages 81 yrs. 5 mos. 7 da. I looked for the other stone - for there was space which indicated the other grave, but the pine tree was growing exactly where the stone would naturally have been placed.......I hope it may be duly recognized as other graves are being  marked thru the courtesy of the Sons Organization & also the Daughters of the Revolution." It is almost word for word of what was stated in the 1938 listing.

I then checked an earlier volume of The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio (1929)  and Samuel was not listed. Note the dates of the two resources. In 1929 Samuel was not listed as being buried in Ohio, yet in 1938 he was listed. The letter written to my great grandmother was in 1931 and the same wordage is used to describe his possible burial in Ohio in the 1938 volume. Did my great grandmother's cousin use this information for her application for a Revolutionary War marker? Is this where the idea of Samuel being buried next to his wife started?

The NSDAR listing has one blatant error and that is that Samuel died in Seville, Ohio. I have several sources stating that he died in Kingsbury, New York. Neither of these books included sources and with these errors I don't trust the listings.

A piece of information that added to the confusion was the U.S. Pension Records of Ohio showed Mary Rhoades' pension payments commencing 4 Mar 1831 and coming from the bank in Cincinnati. Why would she be receiving pension payments when Samuel was still alive? And why from Ohio, if she is still suppose to be in New York? Was Samuel in Ohio while she was receiving the pension?

 I went through the pension records once again and found a few records that address this issue. I found a letter written by the attorney for the "heirs of Mary Rhoades". He asked why Mary hadn't  received her payments from March 1831 to Feb 1832. The statement he received back was that the bank's notes stated that they were not to begin until 9 Feb 1832. 

"The instruction from the Commissioner of Pensions to the pension agency now (The Franklin Bank) direct payments in this case from the 9th of Feby 1832"

The pension papers also included this pension slip that shows Mary Rhodes receiving $80 to commence 10 Feb '32. 


And this slip: 

                                                                                                                                                                                The top part can be a little confusing due to the lack of punctuation. It looks like Samuel Rhoades was of Medina County in the state of Ohio. However, it is actually saying: Mary Rhodes is Samuel's wife, Samuel died on the 9th of February 1832 and Mary Rhodes is of Medina County, Ohio.                                                                                                                          In the second section, outlined in red, the number 4 and the month of March are crossed out and replaced with the number 9 and the month of February. The year 1831 was over written with 1832.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
There had to be an error recording the date Mary was eligible for her pension payments. The bank's notation about starting the payments on the 9 of Feb 1832 and the changed date on the pension slip lead me to believe that Mary did not receive her widow's pension money until she was actually a widow. 

I also found some land records for Samuel Rhoades in Washington County, New York. One record shows him selling land to his two sons, Elias and Jesse. It then states that Samuel comes to record this record 6 days before his death on the 3 February 1832. 

With all I have found so far I have more than enough proof that Samuel Rhoades died in Sandy Hill, Washington County, New York, but I don't have solid proof that he was buried there. 

I was then lucky enough to be taking a family trip out to Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Family History Library is located. I was thrilled! I searched the online catalog and found that they had cemetery transcription records for Washington County, New York. When I arrived at the library I was able to pull the transcriptions and found the listing I have been looking for. It listed Samuel Rhoades as being buried in the Moss Road Cemetery in Washington County, New York. Samuel is listed on the eighth line down.

 Now, as I have been saying, I can't rely on this transcription to be correct. I need to see the grave. I have requested a photograph be taken for me on Findagrave.

So, my exhaustive search is not over. I am in the process of contacting the sexton for the Mound Hill Cemetery to see if maybe she has any additional information on Samuel's burial. I am also researching the town of Kingsbury, New York to see who might have the Moss Street Cemetery records.

 However, at this point, by using the land records, the pension records and the cemetery transcription, I think it is probable that he is buried in Washington County, New York. Too many assumptions were made early on in this research and those assumptions were then taken as fact and perpetuated throughout the years. Why no one thought to search for a grave site for Samuel in the town that he died is a mystery. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Educators

School is back in session here in Medina County.  So let's take a look at a couple of Medina's well known teachers; Eliza Northrop and Ella Canavan.

Both of these ladies have elementary schools named after them. But their career paths were very different.

Eliza Northrop is known as the first teacher in Medina County. The school named after her is located on Reagan Parkway. She taught 23 students in 1817 in a "log meeting house".

Log meeting house similar to the one Eliza would have taught in.
The next year, she became the first bride in Medina County when she married Giles Barnes. As it was the first wedding, everyone was invited and everyone came. The partying when on "rather late", and people went home with bark torches to light their way. Some arrived home "snapped with wine".

Eliza Northrop Elementary School on East Reagan Parkway
Thus ended her career as a teacher. It was the custom at that time, reinforced by school boards, that a married woman could not hold a teaching position. She and Giles had seven children and Eliza died in Medina in 1863.

The NORTHROP family is an old Medina name that goes back to Connecticut.

Ella Canavan was born in Medina 1877 to Anthony and Hellen (Staid) Canavan. His parents were born and married in County Mayo, Ireland. Shortly after the couple married, they immigrated straight to Medina County. Ella's given name on her birth record is "Hellen" Canavan and she was born 4 November 1877 in Medina.  Her father, Anthony, was a section boss for the C.L. & W. railroad. The family lived at 514 West Liberty Street in Medina. He died in 1890 leaving his wife and 6 children to mourn him. In the 1880 Census, she is listed as "Helen" but by the 1900 Census, she is "Ella" and that is the name she was known by for the rest of her life.

"Miss Ella" Canavan with her students (1946 Medinian Yearbook)

After completing high school in Medina, Ella graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in teaching. She started a private kindergarten in 1900. For the next 45+ years, "Miss Ella" was a beloved teacher in the Medina School System. She resigned in 1945 but the outcry from past students and the superintendent of the schools, Mr. Spencer, dictated her return. She later resigned permanently in 1949.

"Miss Ella" passed away in 1964.

Ella Canavan Elementary School on Lawrence Street in Medina, was dedicated to Miss Ella in 1960.

Ella Canavan Elementary School

Two other schools in the Medina City School system are named after teachers: Sidney Fenn Elementary School and Claggett Middle School, named after Howard Claggett. But that is a subject for another blog.

Gloria Brown has just published a new book on the history of the Medina County Schools, titled, The Story of Medina's Schools. Read more about it in this Medina Post article: New Book Chronicles History of Medina Schools.  The Medina County District Libraries will soon have copies available to check out!

Pioneer History of Medina by N.B. Northrop (1861)
History of Medina by the Medina County Historical Society (1848)
Highlights of Medina  (1966)
Medina County Gazette
The Medina Post

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Genealogy Lock-In

16 September

No, we won't be dancing any jigs. But we will be delving into Irish Genealogical Research with Margaret Lynch, the Executive Director of the Irish American Archives Society in Cleveland.

It is an exciting time to be Irish and to be searching for your Irish heritage. Just this week, more records went online with the launch of  Irish

The site is described as "...home to the historic records of Births, Marriages and Deaths of the General Register Office. These records join the Indexes to the historic records of Births, Marriages and Deaths that were already available on the website."

Join Margaret to learn more about ALL of the resources to be used in Irish Genealogical Research.

Then MCDL's own Lisa Rienerth will teach us all how organize our research so that we know what we have, know what we need to find out and know where to find it
so that we can be more efficient and more effective researchers.

Lisa is THE GURU at the library on organizing your research.

The Lock-In is an after-hours event that runs from 6:30-10:30 on Friday evening, that focuses totally on genealogical research.

The evening offers light refreshments, door prizes, and the opportunity to use all the library's resources and to work with the Medina County Genealogical Society 's members on your own research.

Sign up for the Lock-In by clicking here  or by calling 330-722-4257.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

September Genealogy Lock-In


On September 16, 2016, the Medina Library will be offering its 16th Genealogy Lock-In!

From 6:30-10:30 on Friday evening, the Lock-In is an after-hours event that focuses totally on genealogical research.

The evening offers light refreshments, door prizes, and the opportunity to work with the Medina County Genealogical Society on your own research.

We also offer two special educational opportunities:

Margaret Lynch

First, Margaret Lynch, of the Irish American Archives Society in Cleveland, will lecture on performing Beginning Irish Genealogical Research. Margaret has been the Executive Director of the Archives since 2008. She is also a free-lance writer and playwright, often writing about the Irish immigrant experience.

Then MCDL's own Lisa Rienerth will shed light on how to organize your research so you know what you have, and know what you need to find out, so you can be a more efficient and effective researcher. TAME THE PAPER TIGER!!

Tame the paper tiger 

Sign up for the Lock-In by clicking here  or by calling 330-722-4257.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Our Ancestors from Europe

The Main Branch of the Akron Summit County Public Library

Any time you can listen to a nationally known genealogy speaker, instructor, and author FOR FREE, you should go for it.

The Akron Summit County Public Library has presented such an event once a year, for the past six years.

This past weekend, they hosted John Philip Colletta, noted genealogist and author of several books, including:
  • They Came in Ships: a Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record
  •  Finding Your Italian Roots, a Guide for Americans and most recently  
  • Only a Few Bones, the True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath.

Author John Philip Colletta & Judy James ASCPL

This all day program was titled Our Ancestors from Europe: How to Discover Their Individual Stories. And it was incredible. He broke his talk into 4 components:
  • Passenger Arrival Records, Colonial Times to Mid-20th Century
  • Naturalization Records, Colonial Times to Mid-20th Century
  • Re-Discovering "La Famiglia;" Accessing and Using the Records of Italy
  • Discovering the REAL Stories of Your Immigrant Ancestors
The library provided a folder with John's handouts and a guide to downtown Akron's restaurants -- there aren't any near the library - bring a lunch! They also provided a place to eat your bag lunch, water, coffee, and, during the afternoon break, bite sized candy to help you through the "hump" of the afternoon. The auditorium was large, the seats comfortable. The room was kept cold (to help keep us awake?) but they warned us to dress in layers in an email that went out to everyone who signed up.

Program attendees perusing literature provided by the library & Gen. Soc.

There is no way to cover his four one-hour lectures in this blog, so I will just give you some of the highlights.

The information on the post-1820 passenger lists and naturalization records should be familiar to anyone doing research for some time. If not, there are plenty of resources in libraries and online to help you with that. I was most interested in the pre-1820 records, as that was when most of my immigrant ancestors made their way to America.

Why the 1820 demarcation? That was the year the U.S. passed a law requiring all ship's captains to turn in a list of passengers arriving from foreign ports. I have not had much success tracking down my pre-1820 immigrants. But John's lecture covered what information is needed to begin the search: the immigrant's full name, approximate year of immigration, and country of origin. Also, he said that era is well researched and many sources have been published that replace the non-existent passenger lists.

For naturalization records, he said you must check all courts of record in the area's where your ancestor lived. Some immigrants chose not to become naturalized citizens. But most did, because it conferred the right to vote and the right to hold office, among other rights. You have to know what the law was at the time your ancestor immigrated. Prior to 1790, the colonies also had laws regarding naturalization. The British Colonies had laws to cover non-British immigrants who wanted to be naturalized, for example. The "new" United States passed its first law regarding naturalization in 1790. Starting in 1906, all naturalization records had to go to the Immigration Bureau (now the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.)

After lunch, John covered using Italian records in a lecture titled "Rediscovering "La Famiglia" Accessing and Using the Records of Italy". I haven't researched the Italian side of the family, but my sister-in-law has. It was a great overview of what is and what isn't available.

The last session of the day was "Your Immigrant Ancestors How to Discover Their True Stories" which presented 3 case studies of some of John's immigrant ancestors. He showed how tracking down all the records and not "assuming" anything you can truly discover the "whys" of immigration.

Here are some of the sources recommended for Immigration & Naturalization research:
  • They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record by John Philip Colletta at your library.
  • The Castle Garden web site for New York passenger lists from 1820 to 1892. I have referred to this site a lot. But it hasn't been working the last several weeks. This covers the pre- Ellis Island period.
  • The Ellis Island web site for ancestors who came through New York City from 1892 to 1954, when it closed.
  • Passenger and Immigration Lists Index: a Guide by William Filby at your library.
  • The Family Search Wiki on U.S. Immigration.
  • Denizations and Naturalizations in the British Colonies in America 1607-1775 by Lloyd deWitt Bockstruck at your library.
  • Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States by Christina Schaefer at your library.
  • They Became Americans by Loretto Dennis Szucs at your library.
  • Discovering Your Immigrant and Ethnic Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack
  • The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service web site where you can request an index search or a copy of a document.
  • The Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild web site is run by volunteers locating and transcribing ship's lists.
  • The Steve Morse web site makes searching online resources easier than the individual site's own search engines.
  • Family Search and Ancestry Library Edition, both have sections dedicated to immigration and naturalization records.

I know that I will be looking forward to next year's event!

Brochure describing the event

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Genealogy Basics Course

                                                                                                                                                                            A few weeks ago I promised to review the online genealogy course available through your library account from Gale Courses. Gale is a large provider of informational databases for libraries. Besides the genealogy course, they offer lots of classes in these categories:
  • Accounting and Finance
  • Business
  • Computer Applications
  • Design and Composition
  • Healthcare and Medical
  • Language and Arts
  • Law and Legal
  • Personal Development
  • Teaching and Education
  • Technology
  • Writing and Publishing
 To access the courses, go to the library's website: and move your mouse over the "Your Library 24/7" tab. When the drop down menu appears, choose "Online Resources" After the next page loads, scroll down to "Gale Courses" under the section for MCDL Databases.  At this point, if you are logging in from home, you will be asked for your library card number and PIN.

To take any of the classes you will need to enter your email address and a password. This allows them to keep track of where you are in the course.

The Genealogy Basics course is a six week course consisting of 12 lessons. If you don't keep up with the lessons, you are dropped from the class. I know. It happened to me earlier this year.  OOPS!

Here is the course syllabus along with a photo of the instructor:

Down the left side you can see that each lesson comes with Resources, Quizzes, Assignments and Discussion areas. They also come with a lot of supplemental material. Oh, and there is a final exam!

Overall, I would say that it is a good basic course for beginners. It covers all the important topics fairly thoroughly. The Discussion area is a good place to go with questions and comments on the material presented. More than one student presented their "brick wall" problems to the professor here. I particularly liked that you could print and/or save the course material. This allows for checking back when a question arises later.

Classes given by your local genealogical society or library would be better. But if that isn't an option and you don't want to wait, take this class.

Most of the issues I have with the course are related to outdated material. Lisa and I update our class materials every time we teach them. New resources and information are always being developed or discovered, and the classes should reflect that.

Some issues:
  • The instructor makes frequent mention of all the great info. available on CD-ROMs which aren't used very much anymore.
  • He mentions Window's 8 as being the most recent version of Windows. (WHAT, NO Windows 10?)
  • The screen shot for the FamilySearch website was from a very OLD version.
  • Videos are dated from 2011.
  • No mention of saving files to "the cloud"
  • Referral to web site Kindred Konnections, which no longer exists. (You get redirected to
  • Screen shots from very old versions of genealogy software. This might have been intentional as the instructor says there is nothing wrong with using older software.
  • Much of the information in chapter 12 on genealogy software was dated and led to bad links. In the discussion area for that chapter, it is mentioned that the chapter is being re-written.
And the final exam? Well, I missed one out of 36... 97%  Not bad, even taking into consideration that I have taught this class in the past!  LOL!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

MORE New Books!!

The Medina Library is very fortunate that a number of local organizations donate items for our Franklin Sylvester Room (F/S) collection.

The Medina County Historical Society and the Medina County Genealogical Society donate frequently. The Historical Society will send us any duplicates they have, but don't need. The Genealogical Society will try to get us materials that the Library is not able to get through its normal channels.

Medina County Genealogical Society

Medina County Historical Society

And lately, we have been the benefactors of several other Medina County organizations:

The Family History Center on Windfall Road is downsizing their small library. They have offered the library any of the books we would like to add to our collection. Here is a sampling of their gifts:

Family History Center at Medina
Church of Later-Day Saints
Just some of the books donated by
the Medina Family History Center

Lisa Rienerth, co-worker and a fellow genealogist, recently did a tour of the F/S collection for the Seville Historical Society. Their members noted that the library did not have a copy of their latest publication and they promptly promised us a copy. And here it is!

Connecting the Past to the Present 1816-2016 updates the current histories we have on Seville and Guilford Township.

The Society of Mayflower Descendants, the Western Reserve Colony noticed that our books on the Mayflower Descendants needed updating and donated copies of those along with some other books on the Pilgrims and the Mayflower.

If any of these books are interesting to you, take a look at them the next time you are in the Franklin Sylvester Room.


1. Following up on my applications to lineage societies, I have just submitted my application for First Families of Ohio. If successful, it will prove that my 3X great grandparents, John WILLIAMS and Lucinda Sartain TILLMAN WILLIAMS were in Ohio prior to 1820. I am using a land record to show that William P. WILLIAMS is the son of John & Lucinda WILLIAMS.

2. This is the last week for the online Genealogy Basics course I have been taking through the Library's subscription to Gale Courses. A fuller report will be next week, but overall, it is an okay basic course. It is a bit dated and needs to be updated.  In this fast changing world it is important to keep your material current. Lisa and I update our class materials every time we teach a class.