Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Organizing Genealogy Papers

As I prepared for my genealogy road trip to Kansas, I wanted to organize my paperwork so I could share it with my relatives. I have thought a lot about going digital, but I am a very visual person and find that I work better with actual papers. But, how should I organize them?

My filing system
I decided to use hanging files, rather than notebooks, because it was both faster and cheaper. Also, I liked how tidy it looked. 

My filing system
I created a hanging file for each couple who were my direct ancestors. And, I color coded them. The blue files are my dad's paternal line and the green folders (in the back) are my dad's maternal line. I searched for great looking colored hanging files but didn't find anything I really liked and they were quite a bit more expensive.

At the front of each couple's folder, I put a family group sheet. Then, I put all of the paperwork I have for them and for their children. When their child who is my direct ancestor married, the paperwork from that point on goes into the new couple's folder. I made copies of the originals that I had (photos, letters, birth certificates I'd sent off for, etc.) and left the originals at home. One problem with hanging files is that things can fall out and get lost! However, my family was able to easily pull entire files to make copies for themselves.

One of many notebooks compiled by Cheryl V. of
Beulah (Peters) Brewer's research
As far as the papers that my family had to share with me, it was incredible! My grand aunt, Beulah (Peters) Brewer, had done work for several decades. She passed away several years ago, but a family friend & former librarian, Cheryl V, continues to go through the enormous task of organizing Beulah's papers and adding to the research herself. She has created about 10 of these 3-inch binders and still has more to go. A few of the books are about one surname, but others are about just one couple and their children. The notebook pictured is for Beulah's parents, Emil Peters & Myrtle Mae (Coppenbarger) Peters. 

I love how she has designed the covers! There is a brief history of the family and a map showing where they lived. Inside, all of the pages are in protective sleeves and she has created her own tabs using a heavy duty tape. The tabs are primarily for the children of the couple with paperwork for this couple and their children behind the tabs.

As I went through each of these notebooks, I set up a little photography studio. I usually worked in my hotel room in the morning and positioned the pages where there wasn't a glare. I used my iPad and took photos of each page. When there were actual photos, I took those out of the sleeves to photograph better. And, for more important papers and photos, I used the copy machine at my aunt & uncles house.

I am still a little overwhelmed with the fact that I came home with over 900 images! I'm trying to decide how to integrate all of these new documents, photos & facts into my own tree. Once I figure out how I'm going to accomplish it, I will be quite busy!

I'm also reconsidering switching to binders as it was an easy way for me to look through hundreds of images while the hanging files are more challenging. My aunt & uncle bring these binders to our family reunions so family members can page through them. It's a great way to share all of this work!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Genealogy Trip: Thrilled with over 900 New Images!!!

I had a wonderful trip back to my childhood home in southern Kansas last weekend. My family has lived in the area (Cowley & Sumner Counties) since about 1870. My grand aunt, Beulah (Peters) Brewer, got me started in genealogy back in 1998 and, when she passed away in 2009, my aunt and uncle inherited boxes and boxes of her research. They are also the ones who have collected many family photos and other family heirlooms over the years. So, I was in genealogy paradise! It was incredible!


A friend of the family, Cheryl, is a retired librarian who has worked on genealogy for many years. She is going through the incredible task of organizing all of Beulah's papers. So far, I believe she has put together ten 3-inch binders of material. And, she has at least 3 more binders to go... plus more boxes that haven't been gone through yet! The task she has done is monumental! And, they gave me permission to copy everything. It's incredible... but it'll take at least another trip. There just wasn't enough time!

Ashton old schoolhouse in Sumner County, Kanasas
photo by Dana (Stewart) Leeds October 2014
The notebooks are incredible! There are probably several hundred old photos. It's amazing! And, I was amazed that I was able to start recognizing my grandmother and other family members in these old photos. There are also report cards, telegrams, poems, obituaries, original wills, and much, much, more. It's absolutely phenomenal!

We also took one 'road trip' to see a couple of old cemeteries and old buildings. Unfortunately, some road work prevented us from seeing everything we wanted to see. But, I did get to Geuda Springs Cemetery where quite a few family members are buried including my Aunt Beulah (headstone above). We also visited the old town of Ashton and I got to see the amazing little one-room school house where my grandmother, Hazel (Peters) Stewart, both went to school as a girl and later taught.

Ashton (Sumner Co, KS) church
Photo by Dana (Stewart) Leeds
We also drove by the old church where young Hazel went to worship. Unfortunately, it is almost entirely covered with trees and bushes. It was hard to see even part of the church to photograph. 

I met some of my second cousins - children of the cousins I grew up with. And, we met some 'new' cousins - these are more distant cousins who are also doing genealogy who I've met online. They all came and shared their research and we shared ours. One lady also brought her sister and her mother. It was great getting to actually meet these other family members/genealogists in person!

Now, I have a lot of work ahead of me. I first need to print out all of these papers I photographed (I used my iPad to take photos of most of the 3-inch binders) and then enter the information in my genealogy program. This will easily take months. I'm really excited, but I know I have a large job ahead of me! I'll be sharing some of my 'finds' and the stories as I move along...

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Newspaper Article Answers Question: Why Did They Leave Oklahoma?

My daughter is taking a year-long geography course this year. Last week she was learning about the "pushes" and "pulls" that cause people to migrate or move. Sometimes people move because something disagreeable or unacceptable occurs and they are trying to get away from it. While other times the pull of something desirable in another place causes them to migrate.

Although I have yet to find any evidence that they won any land, I believe some of my family members moved to Oklahoma for the 1901 Land Lottery. (I know they were in Lawton by early 1903.) Free land? That's quite a pull for a farmer!

"Big Pasture 1905" map, public domain, originally published in "The Daily Oklahoman" in 1905
(image from Wikipedia)
Faxon, where my family lived, is above the A & N in "COMANCHE"

My great, great grandfather, Charles Peters, ended up dying in Comanche County in 1910 and his son, my great grandfather, returned to Kansas less than a year later. But why did they return?

We often struggle to find out why are ancestors moved. This time, though, I found the answer written quite plainly in the newspaper. It's a short clipping, but I'm thankful for it! It misspells my grandfather's name - his name was actually Emil Peters - but correctly identifies his wife. Here is what the article says:

Ama [Emil] Peters and his wife are here from Faxon, Okla. She was formerly Miss Myrtle Coppenbarger. They say that country will never see them again, everything is burned up by drouth [sic]. [Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Arkansas City, Kansas, 27 Jun 1911, page 6, column 2; digital image newspapers.com(http://www.newspapers.com: accessed 02 Oct  2014)]

Decades before the Dust Bowl, the years of 1909/1910 were the driest consecutive years of the century in Oklahoma. And, 1910 was the single driest year of the century. (Information from Oklahoma Climatology Center.) These farming families must have really suffered!

I'm thankful to learn of the pull (free land!) & push (drought!) that took my ancestors from Kansas to Oklahoma and back to Kansas again. 

Have you been able to learn why your family left their homes and families and friends to move to a new place? Or do you have family members who returned home for an unknown reason? I hope to uncover more of these stories of the pushes and pulls that affected my family.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net

Sunday, October 12, 2014

My Family Lived in Pee Pee

I recently made an unusual find. It's a census record for a family I believe our my relatives. Of course, that isn't unusual. But, what is unusual is the name of where they were living. They were living in a place called Pee Pee!



After seeing this unusual town name, I immediately searched the internet to find out how the town got its name. According to Ohio History Central, it was named after Peter Patrick, an early resident of the area. I wonder if this was his nickname? 

What about your family... did they come from any unusual places?

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Kind of Newspaper Article You Don't Want to Find...

Sylvester Perry Coppenbarger died by an accidental discharge of a gun.
S. P. Coppenbarger death, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois, 23 Aug 1893, page 4, column 2;
digital image newspapers.com(http://www.newspapers.com: accessed 07 Oct  2014)

Of course we expect to find death records of our relatives. But, this is the kind of death you don't want to find. Sylvester Perry Coppenbarger (1839 in De Witt Co, IL - 1893 in OK) was my 1st cousin four times removed. His grandfather, Jacob Coppenbarger Senior (1769 in Wythe Co, VA - 1841 in De Witt Co, IL), was my fourth great grandfather. Sadly, "S. P." evidently died at the age of 53 by an "accidental discharge of a gun."

Do we have ancestors in common? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Civil War Soldier Struck by Lightning!

Here's an excerpt from an interesting letter I found in a relative's Civil War service record today. It appears to be written by a Captain Hogle and is dated February 21st, 1865. It starts by explaining when and where he enlisted and that he had served faithfully for a year and was experiencing good health. But, that changed on the night of August 3rd, 1864... when he was struck by lightning!

...since which time, he has been wholly unable for duty. The lightning struck the right side of the head, face and shoulder extending down the arm, side, thigh, leg and foot. the side and thigh is still black. the leg and arm is to some extent paralyzed and rendered partially useless. the said George W. Ward has has spasms as often as every month since Aug. 3rd, 1864. and in my opinion will never recover or be of any benefit to the Government. He received his Disability while in the service of the United States. Disability in my opinion amounts to at least one half. [the letter continues]

Letter from Civil War Service Record of George W Ward, Union Records, Tennessee,
Second Mounted Infantry, image 20 of 21 on Fold3 (accessed 05 Oct 2014)

I guess these young men were truly exposed to the elements! How frustrating this must have been! Not only the injuries and the pain, but also to have to sop fighting the enemy because of being struck by lightning!

The young man who was struck by lightning was George W Ward (b abt 1837 in Perry County, Tennessee - d bet 1800-1810 in Bollinger County, Missouri) who is my 1st cousin five times removed. The ancestor we have in common is my 5th times great grandfather, Nathan Ward Senior (b abt 1750 in Virginia - d abt 1854 in Perry County, Tennessee).

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net

Friday, October 3, 2014

An Ancestor's Poem: "Actions Speak Louder Than Words"

I'm busy looking through the small town paper where my family has lived since the early 1870's. I lived there when I was young and have many relatives still in the area. These small papers are full of interesting articles!

One article I found this morning said that my second great grand uncle, or the brother of my second great grandmother, had "entertained those present [at a 'big dinner'] by reciting one of his German poems." Oh, how I wish I could read that poem!

But, then I found one published in the newspaper! (And maybe there are more?) It was published about 6 months before this gathering. How wonderful to actually find one of his poems! And, yes, the family was German, but this poem is in English. I'm not sure if they called his other poem "German" because he was German (this is the generation that immigrated), or if he actually wrote it in German. But, I'm thrilled to have this poem written in English!

Poem by Emil Werther,
Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Arkansas City, Kansas, 15 Dec 1908, page 6, column 4;
digital image newspapers.com(http://www.newspapers.com: accessed 03 Oct  2014)


In preaching 'Peace on earth and to man good will'
While having a pistol in your pocket concealed,
And building fleets and guns with intent to kill,
Is your deceitful sham revealed.
                                - Emil Werther (1854 in Germany - 1942 in Kansas)

Note: This poem could actually be written by Emil's son, Emil Jr (1882-1917), but I think the poems are by the father.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Baby Thrown During 1899 Twister

May 31st, 1899. An electrical storm bursts upon the small town of Ashton, Kansas during the late evening hours. Thunder booms and lightning flashes across the sky. A young family probably tries to sleep but the mother and father are kept awake by the show. Then, they hear what sounds like a train coming towards them. They probably crouch together for safety and hold on tight to their baby boy. And then the tornado hits their house.

Image from Wikipedia
The house is torn apart by the twister. It is demolished. The husband is blown 450 feet away and is badly cut on the head. The mother is OK. But, where is baby Floyd? He's only 10 months old! After searching in the dark, they find that he's been thrown by the tornado, too. But, thankfully he isn't injured.

A Small Twister, Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Arkansas City, Kansas, 01 Jun 1899, page 5, column 2;
digital image newspapers.com(http://www.newspapers.com: accessed 01 Oct  2014)

What a terrifying night for a family! But, I'm sure they were thankful that they all survived the tornado even though they lost their house and possessions.

A Small Twister, Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Arkansas City, Kansas, 01 Jun 1899, page 5, column 2;
digital image newspapers.com(http://www.newspapers.com: accessed 01 Oct  2014)

This is what happened on May 31st, 1899 to my great, great grandfather's daughter and her family. D. V. Waggoner was married to Mary Ellen "Ella" Coppenbarger, a sister of my great grandmother, Myrtle Mae (Coppenbarger) Peters. Myrtle Mae and their parents, Josiah Randolph Coppenbarger & Elizabeth (Bennett) Coppenbarger were living nearby as were other family members. I wonder when they found out that a tornado had demolished Ella's home and thrown the little baby away from the safety of his mom and dad. What a terrifying event!

Once again, the only reason I found this story is because of a newspaper article I found at newspapers.com. Newspapers can tell us so much about our ancestors and get us past the names, dates and places.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net

Tip: Search Newspaper Sites Using an Address

Searching newspaper sites for an address, instead of a name, can sometimes uncover articles which would not have been found otherwise. 1...