Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Auld Lang Syne

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Every New Year's Celebration Eve ends with the singing of the old Scottish ballad.

But what do the words Auld Lang Syne mean and why do we sing it on New Years' Day? Indeed, why  has the whole world adopted the song as its favorite farewell anthem?

Robert Burns, Scottish poet

Auld Lang Syne can be translated as "old, long, since" but it is taken to mean "for the sake of old times."  It is an old Scottish poem that Robert Burns set to music in 1788. Quickly adopted by the Scots, the song emigrated to the rest of the British Isles and from there to wherever in the world they traveled. Today, it is sung in east Asia and various European nations also. It is used at farewells, funerals (and other memorials of the dead), graduations, the end of a (non-New Year) party or a Boy Scout jamboree.

Besides remembering the past, the song is also about reuniting with old friends over a drink.

The power of the song was such, that Gen. Ulysses S. Grant restricted singing it during the Civil War because of its message of reconciliation and returning home. Once the surrender was signed, he ordered the band to play it.

And during the Christmas Truce of World War One, it was one of the three songs that the soldiers, both British and German, sang together.

Hollywood did its part to popularize the song when it was used as early as 1925. Tears flowed when Shirley Temple sang it to a dying soldier in the John Ford movie Wee Willy Winkie. And who will forget how the whole town of Bedford Falls came together to save George Bailey from jail and they all burst into song, Auld Lang Syne, as the little Christmas tree bell tinkled and Clarence got his wings?

It has been used in countless other movies.

Guy Lombardo, Big Band leader of the 30's & 40's

Guy Lombardo is credited with further popularizing the song when his band used it as a segue between two radio programs during a live performance at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York in 1929. By coincidence, they played "Auld Lang Syne" just after the clock hit midnight, and a New Year's tradition was born.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine†;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

I remember one New Year's Eve party when I was serving in the U.S. Air Force. I was stationed in Okinawa near the start of an 18 month tour of duty. Barring a family crisis, I would not see my family for over a year. The clock struck twelve, the band started up the music. Everyone cheered and whooped, while I struggled to not cry, thinking of my family back in Ohio...

What are your memories of Auld Lang Syne?


Judy Russell and the Family Tree DNA company were offering a free DNA test to whomever Judy found most deserving. Click the link below to learn about the winner(s) and how the holiday spirit moved quite a few people to participate:


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Twelve Days of Genealogy Christmas


Ok. Now I have your attention. The Legal Genealogist, aka Judy Russell, along with the folks at Family Tree DNA, will be giving away three free genealogy tests. You just have to convince Judy that your need is great and your bank account small. For more information see:


I wanted to keep this week's blog light and entertaining and in the spirit of the season.

So I came up with the idea of the setting the 12 Days of Christmas to a genealogy theme.

Cute idea right!?! The tune is already running through your head.

And it turns out, it is not a very original idea.  It has been done before.

A lot.

From Olive Tree Genealogy Blog just earlier this month:
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
12 well-sourced family trees
11 genealogy subscriptions
10 Eureka Moments
9 DNA test results                                                          
8 tombstone photos
7 marriage records
6 new found cousins
5 brickwall solutions
4 family photos
3 Pedigree Charts
2 Source Citations
and a Family Bible for my McGinnis family

From Genealogy Ensemble in 2014:
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Twelve Deeds & Titles,                                                
Eleven Probate problems,
Ten Lost Relations,
Nine Legal Letters,
Eight Manorial Records,
Seven Census Searches,
Six GEDCOMs Downloaded,
Five Old Wills,
Four Christening Cards,
Three French Connections,
Two CD Titles,
And One Fully Completed Family Tree!!

From Living in the Past Lane in 2011:
On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
twelve drives a' flashing,
eleven towns a' mapping,
ten archival filings,
nine headstone rubbings,
eight forms of sourcing,
seven films a' scrolling,
six Flip Pals scanning
five days in Utah (b-dum bum bum),
four family bibles,
three new cousins,
two round-trip tickets,
and a suitable-for-framing family tree.

From GeneaMusings Blog in 2009:
On the 12th day of Christmas, My true love gave to me --
Twelve Revolutionary War pension files with the Family Bible -pages included
Eleven passenger lists clearly written
Ten WorldConnect entries of elusive ancestors
Nine message board postings from distant cousins
Eight probate files
Seven census pages
Six deed abstracts
Five newspaper obituaries
Four marriage records
Three family Bibles
Two draft card images
And a new name in my family tree. http://www.geneamusings.com/2009/12/12-days-of-genealogy-christmas.html

And from Pinterest in 2014:
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
Twelve tombstone photos,
Eleven naturalization records,
Ten DNA matches,
Nine death records,
Eight FamilySearch microfilms,
Seven land deeds,
Six Birth Certificates,
Five probate records, Four gabby cousins, Three GEDCOM files,
Two family bibles,
and a branch in my family tree!

Renee's Genealogy Blog in 2007:
On the 12 Days of Christmas my true love gave to me
Twelve census searches                                                                
Eleven family bibles
Ten e-mail contacts
Nine headstone rubbings
Eight wills and admons
Seven miners mining
Six second cousins
Five coats of arms
Four GEDCOM files
Three old wills
And a branch in my family tree.http://rzamor1.blogspot.com/2007/12/12-days-of-christmas-genealogy-style.html

And from RootsWeb in 2002:
Twelve Days of Christmas, with alterations by Esther Handy
On the twelfth day of xmas,  my true love gave to me:                              
Twelve census searches
Eleven printer ribbons
Ten e-mail contacts
Nine head stone rubbings                                                  
Eight birth & death dates
Seven Town Clerks sighing
Six second cousins
Five coats of Arms
Four GEDCOM files
Three old wills
And a branch in my Family Treehttp://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/MAUPIN/2002-12/1040748285

What would your 12 Days of Genealogy Christmas be?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Historic Home Research

Thank you Lisa for hosting the blog last week. You did an outstanding job! Let me know anytime you want to host it again!

One of the challenging questions we regularly receive at the Medina Library is how to track down the history of a house. Sometimes a member just wants to know more about the home they have fallen in love with. Sometimes people are searching in order to renovate the home. Sometimes they want to track down the spirit that is haunting their home. Whatever the reason, the research methodology is the same.

All houses have a history. But without documentation, we may never know
what that history was. Doesn't this house look like it had an interesting history? 
 I came across this home while doing family research in southern Ohio.

First some disclaimers!

  1. Not every house or building has historical significance. Once, a young man asked for help in researching the history of his home. When questioned for more details, he revealed that his house was only 15 years old. Not much history to be uncovered there!
  2. If a house was built during a building boom (like right after WWII) or is part of a development, there probably isn't a lot of history to be uncovered. My own home was built in 1953, soon after WWII. Although I know all the owners from over the years and I know that it was renovated in 1983, there are no other written records to reveal any of the house's history.
You might be able to find out that an area like the one above was
a hay field or an orchard before the development, but not much more.

    3. Most often, there is NOT a collection of photos of homes, whether they are old
       or not. This is the saddest request. Certainly, homeowners took pictures of 
       family activities with the home in the background and may have taken 
       pictures just of the home. But those photos follow the  family and hardly ever 
      get passed on to the new owners. There are exceptions:

This is an aerial photograph of the farm where I grew up. It was popular
to have such photos edited, colorized and framed. The framed copy had the
outhouse and several other unsightly buildings removed. The white dot to the
right of the driveway is me!

Years after our family had left the farm, I gave the current owners the framed copy.
They were thrilled!

    4. If your home is a notable historic home, you might be able to find more 
        information, but remember, this is the exception, NOT the rule! 

Because the Library receives this request fairly often, we have developed a finding aid that will help you do Historic Home Research and you can access it from the Library's web site or click on the following link:  Historic Home Research 

The brochure will guide you in doing the research and will refer you to the best resources and web sites.

Two useful resources not mentioned in the brochure are aerial photographs and county atlases. 
  1. The Medina County Soil and Water Conservation Office conducted aerial surveys of Medina County for every decade from the 1930's to the 1970's. They can help pinpoint how a piece of land has been used over the years. If the scale is large enough, you might be able to make out any buildings.
  2. There have been several county atlases published over the years. Buildings on the land are indicated by little squares.  If you suspect that your home might have been built in the 1800's, the 1874 or 1897 atlases might give you a better idea of when the house was built.
While this blog and the brochure focus on doing historic home research in Medina County, the process would be similar elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Northwest Ohio Research - Help From A Guest Blogger*

*Kathy is on vacation and asked me, Lisa Rienerth, to be the guest blogger this week. I am a co-worker of Kathy's at the Medina County District Library and I also do genealogy research. I hope my blog will live up to Kathy's standards!

Many of my Mother's relatives lived in Northwest Ohio. The Solether's, McMillans, Rhoades and the elusive Millers. 

     During my research I found a gold mine of information and records for Northwest Ohio! The Bowling Green State University Center for Archival Collections, located on the fifth floor in the Jerome Library on the BGSU campus. It is a little over 2 hours away from Medina with tolls (about $10.00 round trip) and about 2 1/2 hours without using the Ohio Turnpike.

     The first step in using this repository is to visit the website https://www.bgsu.edu/library/cac.html. This will save you time and money! 

    There is a special section on the site For Genealogists where it has some great information on starting your research and guides to the resources available at the archives. Take advantage of these guides,because they will help you get organized for your research  trip.

The two important areas to concentrate on are the Local Government Records and the Newspapers. The links to these records are on the left side of the website page found under Northwest Ohio Resources.

         The Government Records are divided by counties.  If you click on a county an informational page will come up with a map of the county and the townships. Also, the date the county was established and what the county seat is. This is helpful for two reasons. First, it will help you search for your ancestor in a certain time period. Second, the county seat is usually where the courthouses are and where most of the county's records were kept.                                                                                     

The townships, villages, and cities are listed below the map. The listings that are BOLD had an active post office and the ones in BOLD ITALICS had a newspaper printed in the township. None of the townships, villages, and/or cities are linked to other pages.

Most of the records are on microfilm, but there are a few historical books. Under the name of the repository there is a list of records available, the date it covers, how many rolls of microfilm there are, and the microfilm roll numbers. The books are listed at the bottom of the page.

Wolf Scalp Records
The records available include vital records but go so much further than that! If you have a brick wall in your Northwestern Ohio family tree, these records just might help you  break through it! There are obscure records such as Wolf Scalp Bounty Records, Jail Registers & POW Camp records. Yes, there was a POW camp in Wood  County in 1944-45 where they kept captured German soldiers! 

Camp Perry  - WWII POW camp in Wood County, Ohio

     The Newspapers are the next resource you will want to check out. Click on "Newspapers" and it will take you to an alpha index. The papers are first arranged by the city in which it was published, then alphabetically by the most recent title used by the newspaper. The information following the title includes frequency, type, politics, its title variations, and special notes. Finally, the CAC holdings are listed. 

The newspapers are on microfilm and can be viewed at the archives. Before I go to the archives I check out the obituary index on the RB Hayes library website. If I find any obituaries for my research I check to see if the archives has that newspaper available. I also use the newspapers to see if there is a certain time period I am having trouble finding records for. For example, if I am looking for a death record prior to 1867, I will try to find a newspaper that was published in or around my relatives home around the time of the event. I will then search for a death notice in the paper.

         Don't forget to prepare for your research trip! I print out the list of the county/township records and highlight the ones I am interested in. I then make a list of the relatives this record may pertain to. I bring a flash drive and some cash for copies.

        You can scan copies to your flash drive or to your email from their scanner. If you have to make several copies or scans than you will need to use a "BG1 card". You may purchase this card from the black machine across from the first floor circulation desk. Guest copy cards cost $2.00, which does not include any money for printing. Extra money must be loaded onto the copy card. However, if you are making copies off the microfilm machine, you will need to keep track of the number of copies. The staff will complete an orange slip with the total amount owed and then you pay for the film copies at the first floor circulation desk. They DO NOT handle cash on the 5th floor.

Don't forget, you will probably be there a full day and you will need to stop to eat! The CAC website does list local restaurants, but I pack a lunch because I don't like to take too much time away from my research. You will have to leave your lunch in your vehicle or in the locker provided, so make sure it is non-perishable. There is also a cafe on the first floor called The Thinker's Cafe where you can eat your lunch and/or purchase items from the vending machines.

Red Dot marks the cafe

The people at the archives are extremely helpful. When you arrive on the fifth floor they will provide you with a form to fill out of the records you are looking for. They will pull the film or book for you. Unless the book is located on one of the lower floors, then you will be asked to get it. They have a few microfilm machines where you can view the records and make copies of the records you wish to keep. There is a list of basic rules for the archive on the website. These will also aid in preparing for your research trip.

There is also a link on the website that will give you directions and information on parking and parking passes. I always buy a parking pass, because it is good for the day and it gives you more parking lot options.

The research I did at the Center for Archival Collections filled in a lot of blanks on my family charts . I hope this information will provide a good start for your research at the CAC.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Did He Do It?

Shubal Coy Family:
  • Shubal Coy was a Medina businessman, dealing in livestock.
  • He had a wife and a young son.
  • Was a well liked family.
  • The family was "known to be live happily and peacefully together."(1)
  • Shubal routinely kept money from his business dealings in his home.
  • He had just earned $1200 from a livestock deal.
 Frederick Streeter
  • Was a ne'er-do-well.
  • Was considered slick. 
  • Deserted from the Union Army.
  • First wife almost died in a fire that many considered was Streeter's attempt to get rid of her.
  • Moved to Medina from VT.
  • Tried to raise troops for the Union Army. Failed.
  • Was a gambler.
  • Didn't hold a job
  • Married a second wife.
  • Photo at Medina Co. Historical Soc.
  • Wasn't liked. 
  • Was known to visit the Coy home.
 Early in the morning of July 2nd, 1863, neighbors discovered the Shubal Coy house on fire. When they entered they house, they found every member of the family murdered, their throats slashed. A stained envelope was found on the floor near the bodies.
Suspicion quickly focused on Streeter, as the only man the townspeople knew who might commit such an atrocious act.

He and his new bride left town shortly after the murders. Medina officials tracked him down in Kenosha, Wisconsin and took him into custody. The money in his possession had stains on it.

Streeter went to trial and four days later, after an hour of deliberation, he was convicted and sentenced to hang.

Photo at the Medina Library

He escaped jail but was recaptured, hiding in the hay of a farmer's barn.

He was hung on February 26, 1864.

Did Medina's only hanging execute an innocent man?

  • No other suspect was ever considered or investigated.
  • The doctor testified that it was indeed blood on the envelope, but also admitted he couldn't tell if it was human blood or an animal's.
  • Streeter claimed the money was gambling winnings.
  • Streeter also maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings.

What do you think? Did Medina hang an innocent man or was Streeter guilty?

1. Medina Gazette article, July 1863.
2.The Arrest and Trial of Frederick Streeter for the Murder of the Coy Family compiled by Frank Munz.