Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Time of Their Lives ~ Using Timelines

During the course of daily blog reading, discovered a post about using timelines.  The post is "Use A Genealogy Timeline To Find Gaps In Your Research" by Lisa Lisson of Are You My Cousin?

Lisa talks about using timelines to discover holes in your research. I'm sure this will become evident with my Eastern European ancestors. Having a document to refer, while trying to move lines forward. Do I have birth, marriage, death and census information? Vital records needed to fill the holes.

A comment from the post that struck a chord:

"one of the best things I ever did for my genealogy research was to organize my genealogy information - the events of my ancestor's lives - on a timeline."

This spoke to my organizational soul. Also, being a visual learner, information laid out in a logical manner.  

In the post, Lisa shows several ways to create a timeline. From using good old pen and paper, to spreadsheets. I love spreadsheets! This method had me hooked. 

Lisa shares a spreadsheet template. I saved this to my Google Drive. Keeping a blank form, copying tabs for each individual ancestor. I love the idea of having all the information in one place. And, using a dynamic document, that I can change and update. 

There is a nice feature to drop in a photograph. Makes the process a little more personal. Using Google Drive, we can add hyperlinks to the document.  And, other researchers can access the information. This could become a family project. Or a teaching tool.  

Timeline for Rev. C.W. Ruth, husband's grandfather

Here we have Christian Wismer Ruth. He was born September 01, 1865 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He died May 27, 1941 in Jessamine County, Kentucky. Because Christian had a very long and interesting life, I selected him for my first timeline. 

I found it interesting to see Christian's life laid out. Discovering where and when he was located, during various events. His age when married, when each child was born and the families move across the country.

By adding historical events, we gain a broader perspective. Did they affect decisions Christian made for him and his family? Did these decisions affect the life you are now living? Food for thought.

So, check out the post. And track the times of your ancestors' lives.

Lisa shares several websites to gather historical information. I discovered additional sites while working on the timeline.

America's Best History


On This Day

The People History

Timelines of History

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Bridge to Serendipity

Burnside Bridge - photograph in personal collection

Growing up, our family traveled to many historical sites in the region. Mainly, Civil War battlefields in Maryland and neighboring states. My father was a huge history buff. At the time I don't believe I appreciate the visits to the spots. As a child I would run around in the open fields. As a teenager, take along a book to read under a shady tree.

Didn't I go and marry someone with the same interests! My father and husband would have in-depth conversations about history. And most of the time, I would leave them to their confabs.

Once our children came along, there we were, driving those same roads. Visiting those same sites. But, something interesting happened. Once I started researching family history, history itself became extremely important. I wanted to know the whys, hows and whens. 

One spot we visit is Antietam National Battlefield. More that forty times over the years. Every season brings a different feel. Each visit, we always walk across the Burnside Bridge.

Hubby standing on Burnside Bridge - November 2020

This month, hubby and I traveled to the battlefield and did just that. Walked Burnside Bridge. Here we see the bridge ... now for the serendipity.

I have been tracing hubby's Finney line. His 4th great-grandmother was Lucinda Finney. She was born January 28, 1763 in Litchfield, Connecticut [1]. Lucinda married Platt Starr on November 28, 1782 [2]. Thus, beginning the Starr line, which lead to my mother-in-law, Rachel Elizabeth Starr.

Yesterday I came to Helen Clarissa Finney, She was hubby's 2nd cousin 4x removed. Helen was born June 10, 1828 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [3]. She married Jacob Dolson Cox on November 29, 1849 [4]

On Ancestry.com, there was an abundance of information about Jacob. He had a distinguished career in the Union Army during the United States Civil War. In fact, he attained the rank of Major General [5].

A hint for Jacob was his Find A Grave memorial page. A very impressive biography was posted on the site. Reading I discovered the following:

"he served as a division commander in the subsequent battles of South Mountain (assuming command of the IX Corps after Major General Jesse Reno was killed) and Antietam (where his Corps fought to take what was to become known as "Burnside's Bridge)" [6].

Doing additional research on Jacob, I discovered he wrote two books. I located both on the Project Gutenberg website.

Military Reminiscence of the Civil War, volume 1 : April 1861-November 1863 by Jacob D. Cox; published 1900 by C. Scribner's sons

Military Reminiscences of the Civil War, volume 2 : November 1863-June 1865 by Jacob D. Cox; published 1900 by C. Scribner's sons.

Jacob Dodson Cox
photograph from Military Reminiscenes of the Civil War
by Jacob Dolson Cox, published 1900

In each volume we find this wonderful image of Jacob Dodson Cox.

What an interesting piece of family history! The same bridge hubby and our children walked many times. Love placing ancestors in time and place. Then connecting them with our lives.


[1] Connecticut, U.S., Town Birth Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection), Kent Vital Records 1739-1852, p. 76 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 21 November 2020)

[2] Connecticut, U.S., Town Birth Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection), Kent Vital Records 1739-1852, p. 76 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 21 November 2020)

[3]  Find a Grave, database and images (https://findagrave.com) : accessed 21 November 2020), memorial page for Helen Clarissa Finney Cox (8 Jun 1828-7 Jun 1911), Find a Grave Memorial no. 34521649, citing Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA: Maintained by Janet Potts (contributor 46842861)

[4] "Governor Cox's Widow: died at Oberlin and Will Be Buried in Cincinnati", The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, 8 Jun 1911, Thu, p.16, col. 4; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://newspapers.com : accessed 21 November 2020)

[5] U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA,  Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 21 November 2020)

[6] Find a Grave, database and images (https://findagrave.com) : accessed 21 November 2020), memorial page for Jacob Dolson Cox (27 Oct 1828-4 Aug 1900), Find a Grave Memorial no. 4443, citing Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA: Maintained by Find a Grave

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Family History Meanderings ~ Week of Nov 21, 2020

I spend a lot of time reading, blogging and attending webinars. Sharing discoveries from each week. Hope you find something educational and entertaining.


Finding Your Ancestors Using Employment Records by James Tanner on The Family History Guide Blog

How I Discovered My Cousin was a Victim of Stalin's Purges by Jana Iverson Last of Laura's Jewnealogy

Is GEDmatch Accurate and Legit? by Margaret O'Brien of Data Mining DNA

One Hundred Years Ago: The Art of Driving a Motorcycle by Janice Brown of New Hampshire's History Blog

Instead of Indexing, Trying Something New by Jacqi Stevens of A Family Tapestry

Ancestral Traditions: Occupation and Middle Name by Marian B. Wood of Climbing My Family Tree    

Metadata and Family Photos with Christopher Desmond of the Family History Metadata Group on the Photo Detective

Blogs with weekly list

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings - Genealogy News and Educations Bytes - Friday, 20 November 2020 and Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Linda Stufflebean of Empty Branches on the Family Tree - Friday's Family History Finds

John D. Tew of Filopietism Prism: Saturday Serendipity (November 21, 2020)


A majority of my ancestral lines come from the Czech Republic (mainly Bohemia) and Slovakia. I became a member of the Bohemians In America Facebook Group several years ago. This is a very active page, with researchers sharing information, food, customs and much more.

Podcasts and more

Laura Hedgecock: Sharing Stories Big and Small on Stories in Our Roots with Heather Murphy

Upcoming - Mapping Miles from the Antebellum South to Freedom with Tanisha L. Watson on  Blog Talk Radio Genealogy Talk Show with Bernice Bennett - January 7, 2021 at 1:00 p.m.

Webinars and Online learning

Ready for the 1950 United States Federal Census? I'm have April 1, 2022 marked in red on my calendar. Until then, Stephen P. Morse has the 1950 Tutorial Quiz: How to Access the 1950 Census in One Step. Great information to prepare. 

Genealogy TV offers a downloadable 16 page eBook called "Trace Your Family Tree for Free!"

Free Education for You: NYG&B's Day of Giving Back from NYG&B - December 1, 2020 - Like NYG&B's Facebook page or sign up for newsletter. They will email a link to watch.

  • Release Your Inner Sherlock! Exploring genealogy for the first time - Presented by Jennifer Baldwin
  • "Deemed a Runaway" - Black Laws of the North - Presented by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL
  • That What's New in DNA Update - Presented by Blaine T. Bettinger, PhD, JD
  • Strengthen Your Analysis: Transcribing and Abstracting - Presented by LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL


Friday, November 20, 2020

The Bride Wore Gray

image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

When my daughter became engaged to her husband, I started researching his family line. What else is a good mother-in-law supposed to do? Lucky for me Lucas is very interested in genealogy, so this did not present a problem. It is rather nice to have someone in the family, who will talk about family trees and obituaries.

Marriage announcement, James S. Fraley & Cecilia G. Kreymborg
The Baltimore Sun Newspaper - June 08, 1910
Newspapers.com [1]

While researching, I discovered this wedding announcement for his 2nd great-grand aunt, Cecilia G. Kreymborg (daughter of Anthony Kreymorg and Anna M. Wissel). 

Cecilia wore a gray wedding gown and "picturesque" black hat. Further into the announcement, we learn the reason for this unusual wedding attire. The article tells us that both families are in mourning.

Heading back to my Ancestry database, I searched for relatives who passed away close to the date of Cecilia's marriage. That is when we discover a sad story, surrounding the couple.

Obituary, Anthony Kreymorg, 7/14/1909 The Baltimore Sun Newspapers.com [2]

Here we have the funeral announcement for Anthony Kreymborg, father of the bride. Anthony passed away July 10, 1909. Sadly, her father will not be there, to walk Cecilia down the aisle. 

Anna M. Kreymborg b. 03/16/1858-d. 03/06/1910 Holy Redeemer Cemetery Baltimore, MD. [3]

Once again, tragedy strikes our bride. Her mother, Anna Wissel Kreymborg, dies several months before the wedding. As Cecilia sees to final wedding details, she is planning the funeral of a beloved parent. The bride has become an orphan, just weeks before her marriage.

Obituary ~ Sarah E. Fraley ~ Baltimore Sun 05/13/1910 Newspapers.com [4]
Our couple encounters additional loss, weeks before the marriage. Here we have the obituary for mother of the groom, Sarah E. Fraley. 

Such sadness surrounding the combined families. Loss of three parents, as the couple planned for this happiest of days. 

If not for the engagement announcement, we may never have put this story together. The stories are what connects us to the past.


[1] "Fraley-Kreymborg", The Baltimore Sun Newspaper, 08 Jun 1910, Wed, p.8, col. 1; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://newspapers.com : accessed 20 Nov 2020)

[2] "Anthony Kreymborg", The Baltimore Sun Newspaper, 14 Jul 1909, Wed, p.7, col. 3; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://newspapers.com : accessed 20 Nov 2020)

[3]  Find A Grave, database and images (https://findagrave.com : accessed 20 November, 2020), memorial page for Anna M. Kreymborg (16 Mar 1858-Mar 1910), Find A Grave Memorial no. 95925099, citing Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA; Maintained by Deborah R. (contributor 47066664)

[4] "Fraley", The Baltimore Sun Newspaper, 13 May 1910, Fri, p.6, col. 3; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://newspapers.com : accessed 20 Nov 2020)

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

"We Are Not Related to the Gephardts!" or Are We?

Norman S. and Anna Jerousek Gaphardt ~ maternal great-grandparents

When I began this genealogy adventure, the first ancestor I documented was my great-grandfather, Norman Sylvester Gaphardt. Supposedly, his line was our earliest immigrants to the United States. The family came from Germany to Baltimore in 1832 [1]. 

What followed was a confusing journey. Eventually leading to new cousins. Along with a cautionary tale of taking family history with a grain of salt.

Death certificate - Norman S. Gaphardt [2]
Maryland State Archives

While researching the Gaphardt line, I would periodically come across the surname Gephardt. On headstones in Gaphardt family cemeteries. Listed in churches, our family attended. Were they related? I asked Mom if she knew this name. She was certain they were not connected to her line. But, I felt we could have a mystery on our hands.

First step was to get information from my mother. Beyond her grandparents, the facts were pretty vague. Thought she knew Norman's father's name. But, wasn't sure of the accuracy.

I started working backwards, to discover Norman's story. Above we have his death certificate. We see "name of father" as Christopher Gaphardt. Yahoo, back another generation!

Next, Norman (Silvester) was listed in the 1900 United States Federal Census [1]. Residing at 608 N. Montford Avenue with father, George C. Gaphardt. Do I have the correct family? Is George the same person as Christopher?

This photocopy of obituary for George C. Gaphardt, was located in family records . Notation was "George Gaphardt - July 4, 1902". I have yet to locate the obituary on a newspaper database. In the clipping, the family was residing at 608 North Montford avenue. One of his children being Mr. Norman S. Gaphardt. My second great-grandfather was George Christopher Gaphardt. 

This is where things get a little odd.

I found Norman on the 1880 United States Federal Census [3]. He is listed as a son, residing with Geo. C. Gepthart, head of house. We know census records are notorious for misspellings. So, this surname didn't cause too much concern. 

The next records gave me pause. Researching 1850, 1860 and 1870 United States Federal Census records [4-6], the surname has different variations of Gephardt. Curious about this, I called my mother. She stated emphatically, "We were Gaphardts! Most certainly not Gephardts. I have never heard that name."

Like any good family historian, I hung up the phone and started researching. Keeping this information to myself for the time being.

publisher: Baltimore: R.J. Mitchell
Internet Archive

Looking at city directories, we see the first mention of George Gephard (notice "d" missing from the name) in 1851. There were no listings for the Gaphardt surname. 

publisher: Baltimore : John W. Woods
Internet Archives

During each subsequent year, George was listed with variations of Gephardt. Until the Woods' Baltimore city directory, 1874. First time we see George Gaphardt.

For a time, the name seems to go back and forth. Then at some point, Gaphardt was consistently used. In vital records, newspaper articles and obituaries. Looks like we were originally Gephardts, becoming Gaphardts. Sorry, Mom! Most likely will never know the reason for the change.

But, not the end of the story. DNA comes into play, with another twist.

Working with AncestryDNA matches, something interesting happened. Closest relative in the line was a Gaphardt first cousin. No surprise here, since I knew this cousin. But, further down the match list, discovered not just one, but three Gephardts! 

I sent an Ancestry message to one of the matches. Gave him an outline of what I knew about the family. He emailed back right away! He had been confused. Wondered why the Gaphardt surname showed up in his match list. 

Head over to the family tree. Working backwards again, discovered that Gary is my third cousin. His great-grandfather, Joseph and my great-grandfather, Norman were brothers. We share second great-grandfather, George Christopher Gephardt/Gaphardt.

Joseph was the only ancestor to keep the Gephardt surname. All his siblings became Gaphardts, including my line. Makes me wonder why this occurred. Both lines of the family resided in Baltimore City. Did something happen? Did Joseph decide to stay with the original surname? 

Unfortunately, my mother passed away before I made this discovery. I would have loved to share this heritage with her. 

On a side note, I have more Gephardt DNA matches than Gaphardt.

Joseph C. Gephardt
Baltimore, Maryland
date unknown 
b. February 09, 1855, Baltimore, Maryland
d. October 22, 1935

Received this wonderful photograph from a Gephardt DNA match. Pictured is 2nd great-uncle, Joseph C. Gephardt.

Now when asked, reply with "I'm a Gephardt/Gaphardt".

Sources (first attempt at sourcing information on the blog, work in progress, still learning)

[1] 1900 U.S. census, Baltimore City, Maryland, population schedule, Baltimore Ward 8, enumeration district (ED) 1-96, sheet 7-B, household 608, George C. Gaphardt household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 17 November 2020); imaged from NARA microfilm T623, roll 1854

[2] Gaphardt, Norman S., death certificate E 79196 (1902); no. B46428-B4939 reel CR 48119, Baltimore City Health Department of Vital Statistics 1875-1972, Maryland State Archives

[3]  1880 U.S. census, Baltimore,  Maryland, population schedule, Baltimore Independent City, enumeration district (ED) 5-15, sheet 253-A, household 32, Geo C. Gepthart household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 17 November 2020); imaged from NARA microfilm 497, roll 253A

[4] 1850 U.S. census, Baltimore, Maryland, population schedule, Baltimore Ward 6, sheet 515-258, household 1650, George C. Gephart household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 17 November 2020); imaged from NARA microfilm 258a, roll 283

[5] 1860 U.S. census, Baltimore, Maryland, population schedule, Baltimore Ward 1 (ED), sheet 287, household 2539, George C. Gephard; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 17 November 2020); imaged from NARA microfilm M653, roll 1,438

[6] 1870 U.S. census, Baltimore, Maryland, population schedule, , Baltimore Ward 1, sheet 20 household 151, George Gephard household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 17 November 2020); imaged from NARA microfilm T132, roll 13

[7] Baltimore City, MD.City Directory (Baltimore: Machett's Baltimore directory: Baltimore: R.J.Matchett (1851), pp 104-105, Gephart surname; digitized on Internet Archive (https://archive.org : accessed 17 November 2020)

[8] Baltimore City, MD.City Directory (Baltimore, MD: Woods' Baltimore directory: Baltimore Md: John W. Woods (1874), pp 204-205, Gaphardt surname; digitized on Internet Archive (https://archive.org : accessed 17 November 2020)

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Genealogy Gold in Google Books

Saint Aloysius Church - 1893 - Littlestown, Adams County, Pennsylvania

Photograph and obituary courtesy Google Books, "History of Saint Aloysius Church of Littlestown, Penna." by William McSherry, Jr., published 1893

Louisa McSherry Long, my husband's 3rd great-aunt. She was born February 1816 and died May 06, 1891. Louisa was sister to husband's 2nd great grandmother, Sarah Matilda McSherry Starr. 

In the above obituary we learn many important facts about Louisa:
  • gentleness of manner
  • married young plasterer, Andrew Long
  • was a seamstress
  • lost many young children during her lifetime
  • faithful in her religion
  • came from old and respected stock
  • father, Andrew McSherry
  • mother, Eve Norbeck
  • married in 1844
  • was Catholic
  • died May 6, 1871 at the age of 75
Searching Google Books has become a weekly research task. Creating Google Alerts for each surname. These can answer questions, give clues and flesh out the lives of our ancestors. Important fact from this obituary, first confirmation for Louisa and Sarah's parents. I can now go back another generation.

Information about and using Google Books:

Google Books from Wikipedia: "is a service from Google Inc. that searches the full text of books and magazines Google has scanned, converted to text using optical character recognition (OCR), and in its digital database".

Google Books for Family History (YouTube) by Genealogy TV

How To Find & Use Google Books For Genealogy Research  ~ post from Are You My Cousin? blog

Cheat Sheet: Google Alerts for Google by Thomas MacEntee, Abundant Genealogy

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Family History Meanderings ~ Week of Nov 14, 2020

New feature beginning this week. I spend a lot of time reading, blogging and attending webinars. Sharing discoveries from each week. Hope you find something educational and entertaining.


The Archive Lady: Deciphering Old Handwriting by Melissa Barker on Genealogy Bargin$ 

With Thanksgiving around the corner - Tips for a Successful Family Interview by Jessica Benjamin of Storied Genealogy (could do this on Zoom too!)

Ireland's Military Archives uploads 2020 MSPC release by Claire Santry, Irish Genealogy News

The Genealogy Blog Party: Honoring Veterans and Military by Elizabeth M. O'Neal of Heart of the Family

Using NARA's Index to Naturalizations of World War I Soldiers on Pieces of History: a blog of the U.S. National Archives

DNA Tidbit #2: FamilyTreeDNA's Compare Origins Map from Roberta Estes of DNAeXplained

Charles Murphy's Lock Nut Patent by Denise Murphy of Living in the Past

Blogs with weekly list

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings - Genealogy News and Educations Bytes - Friday, 13 November 2020 and Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Linda Stufflebean of Empty Branches on the Family Tree - Friday's Family History Finds

Reading - books & articles

Currently reading  "The Genealogist's Google Toolbox" 3rd edition published 2020 by Lisa Louise Cooke. Chocked full of excellent information! Especially love using Google Earth. Drop a hint to someone in your family, great gift idea. 

Podcasts and more

Go Tell It On the Mountain: Rev. W.J. Hightower with James Morgan III on Researching at the National Archive & Beyond: Blog Talk Radio Genealogy Talk Show with Bernice Bennett

Webinars and online learning

Introduction to United States Military Records - FamilySearch - Jan 21, 2021 (registration required)

Finding the Living: Doing Descendancy Research - Presented by Hallie Borstel on American Ancestors - Thursday, December 10, 2020 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EST (free webinar - registration required)