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 Genealogy.ie

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.