My name is Kathleen, and I have been researching my family history since I was a child. I love to go into county courthouses and smell the old books and paper... or is it dust? This blog will focus on the stories I've heard over the years and the research methods I follow. I am particularly interested in data management and cloud genealogy.

Some of my personal areas of interest include Southern Maryland and DC (Robie, Rhodes, Grimes, Lindsey), NY state (Hill, Cookingham, Flynn, Rhodes, Skinner, Wheeler, Mead, Havens, Trotter), NJ (Parcell), North Carolina and Eastern TN (Lynch, Seabolt, Spears), MO (Wilcox, Kiddell), and CA (Simi, Grady)

I am always happy to compare notes or share my experiences, so please leave a comment!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

There will be a change of help in the Tilden household....

I came across an interesting article in the San Francisco Call the other day while searching for my husband's great-grandfather.  Theodore Grady generated quite a lot of mentions in the newspapers during his lifetime because of his unusual status as a well-educated man with special needs.  He was the first deaf-mute in the state of California to graduate from a college for the hearing (UC Berkeley), and the first deaf man to pass the California bar and work as an attorney.

This particular article really struck home because it highlights how far our society has come in dealing with people with special needs.  Theodore Grady was only a side note in the story, which centered on his friend, the sculptor Douglas Tilden.  Tilden came home late one evening, realized he had forgotten his key and let himself in by a window.  A servant thought he had gone mad and called the police, who hauled him off.  Justly incensed, Tilden was agitated, but because he was mute he couldn't explain himself.   He was given a "quieting potion," and slept it off until his family came to get him the next day.  The story ends with the dry comment: "There will be a change of help in the Tilden household."

 You've just got to read it for yourself in all its glorious wordiness (here's the link if you want to see the original page):

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Twins are amazing!

How fun is the internet!  Most of the time you go online with a specific task, get the information you need, and you're out of there.  But then there are those days where you are sucked into the black hole, and you come out hours -- or even days -- later with no memory of what you were doing, or where the time went.  Well, it's been my experience that if you don't over think things and just go with the flow, sometimes you get some really good stuff.

Like today.... I was reading emails and somehow got sidetracked to the genealogy posts on the Family Tree Magazine forum page.  This post sparked my curiosity, and with a little more sleuthing, I found the following image on the Library of Congress website:

(click here to see the full image)
The caption read:

Twins become mothers together for second time in less than two years. Washington, D.C., April 7. Accustomed to doing practically the same things all their lives, these Washington twins, now mothers, have apparently decided that having their children together would certainly be in order. The mothers, Mrs. Eileen Moon, left, and Mrs. Kathleen Robie, last week gave birth to daughters to set a new record at Columbia Maternity Hospital. Mrs. Moon's youngster, whom she named Carol, was born on March 29, while Mrs. Robie's new daughter Nancy Lee first saw the light of day on April 1. This same thing happened in July 1937 when Mrs. Robie gave birth to a girl and a few hours later Mrs. Moon's baby, a boy, arrived

  • Digital ID: (digital file from original negative) hec 26626
  • Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-hec-26626 (digital file from original negative)
  • Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

My mom is the baby on the right.  I have to say, genealogy is doing well in the digital age!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Three things....

The theme for this week's Texture Tuesday over at Kim Klassen's Cafe is "Three."  I tried to play with this idea, but everything I came up with seemed so trite and clich├ęd.  That's not to say that my solution isn't any of that, but it suited me -- and that's all that matters.....

I thought of three heirlooms that have come down to me from my great-grandfather, Abel Perminter Lynch, who was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina on 13 January 1859. They are: a prayer book, a pen, and a wonderful tin box, which, according to family lore, once held cash that his father buried for safekeeping during the civil war.
Click here to see all the wonderful images over at Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday party!

For those who are interested, I used three of Kim's beautiful textures on this image: "canvas back" (color burn @54%), "warm grunge" (overlay @ 60%), and "pourvous" (overlay @100%).  I happen to like the warm color and distressed, vintage look you get with a heavy hand on the textures, although some might think it is overdone.  I'm curious -- am I alone in this?

Back to Abel.... Here he is with his twin daughters, Eileen and Kathleen.  My grandmother was Kathleen, and I don't know which one she is in this picture since they were identical twins.
I love this picture of Abel with his girls:  he looks so glum, yet resigned to his fate.  You see, he was 60 and his wife, Jessie Lee (Seabolt) was 45 when the twins were born.  Jessie and Abel were just about to retire to the good life down in Florida, when doctors doing gall bladder surgery discovered that she was pregnant.  In 1919, that was practically a death sentence, so they sewed her up and sent her home.  They moved back in with Jessie's family in Tennessee, where she made a gown for the baby's burial and prepared for the end.  Much to their surprise, "the baby" turned out to be healthy twins; everyone survived, and Jessie and Abel had to scramble to find clothes and cancel their retirement plans so they could raise those babies!

For years, my great-aunt Eileen wanted to be on the "What's My Line" TV show.  Her line was that she was the middle child:  her brother was 25 years older than she was, and her sister was 25 minutes younger....

I made this wall hanging for my grandmother a year or so before she died.  She and her twin sister (or "sin twister") were very close, as you might expect, and in typical twin fashion, dressed alike, had their children days apart, often even bought the same furniture without knowing that the other had done the same.  Both were very active in international causes (in fact, a faculty office at the Johns Hopkins University's Bologna Center is named for them) and they both loved family history.  My grandmother was my genealogy buddy and inspiration, and I miss her.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tales of an old cattle wrangler...

William Francis Robie was certainly a storyteller.  I remember one time when I was just a very little girl, and we were walking around his family farm in Charles County, Maryland.  He pointed toward an old tree stump we could see in the distance up on a knoll.  "That," he said solemnly, "was where I was born."  We walked a bit further.  "Yep," he continued, "it was a dark and stormy night, and the wind was howling something fierce.  Then, all of a sudden there was a giant clap of thunder, and a huge bolt of lightening struck that old oak -- snapped it off at the roots -- and next thing you know, I stepped out of the stump, fully grown and wiping the the rain off my matching six-shooters."

All that a young girl could do in the face of such magnificence was to nod her head, awestruck.

Pop had a way of making you feel happy and excited, and sure that some adventure was imminent.  When I was five, my family moved from Boston to California.  Pop came along on the trip to help my parents with the driving, but I think it was secretly because he wanted to go through Texas -- he was an archetypal Texan in a Marylander's body.  Anyway, once we reached California, we stopped at Knott's Berry Farm for a little bit of fun towards the end of our long drive across country.

Now, Knott's Berry Farm in the mid-1960s was a much more low-key place than it is today -- back then, it was more about panning for gold, or "talking" to plaster images of old prospectors than it was about thrill rides.  My sister and I were waiting in a line to talk to one of these plaster old-timers languishing in a jail house, and could overhear all the conversations taking place with the kids in line before us.  The old guy would say something like, "well, howdy, little girl!" or "hello there, young feller!"  Then, it was our turn, and he exclaimed:  "WELL, IF IT ISN'T KATHY AND NANCY!"  We could only gape at him, dumbstruck.  "Your grandfather and I were cattle wranglers together, back in Texas!  You know, to this day I don't know how he managed to get out of that jail back in Amarillo.  Well, that old fox could outsmart them all...."  He went on in that vein for quite some time, and we were spellbound.  You see, we had heard these stories our entire lives, and the thought that this old timer knew them too (even if he was made of plaster) was just amazing.  I think I can truly say it was one of those magical moments in life, when you are just filled with wonder.

Here I am with Pop, at one of those ubiquitous gas stations with a pony ride, somewhere in the middle of the country.

Pop, as one of those plaster old-timers at Calico
branching out--boots

My grandfather was an expert at making all his children and grandchildren feel that they were the most precious thing in the world to him.  At Thanksgiving, Pop would always take me aside, fingers on his lips:  "Shhh, don't tell anyone..... I've saved the best part of the turkey for you," and pop some morsel into my mouth.  Of course, he did the same thing for everyone else, but somehow managed to make each one of us feel special.  We love you, Pop!

Friday, May 27, 2011

How to find out if your grandfather is just... (shall I say it?) ...blowing his own horn...

My grandfather, William F. Robie -- known to his grandchildren as "Pop," was a great storyteller and had a prodigious memory for the past.  Like many good storytellers, though, he never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn!  So I learned over the years to take his tales with a grain of salt, and never more so than when he was being serious.  He used to tell me about his parents' early married life in SE Washington, DC, saying that they were neighbors and friends of the great composer and band leader, John Philip Sousa, and the two families would get together frequently for visits and meals.  Yeah, right.  Living in the same neighborhood with a famous person doesn't necessarily make you best friends.

William Robie, father of William F. Robie
John Philip Sousa

Wikipedia states that John Philip Sousa was resident in DC until 1892, when he resigned from the U.S. Marine Band and began touring with his own band.  The Robie's married in 1891, which didn't leave a lot of time for them to hang out with the Sousa's before he left town.  So in this case, I was fairly skeptical of Pop's story.
Good genealogical practice involves researching not just your ancestral line, but those of your ancestor's brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and associates.  Here's what I found:
The Robie's lived near John Philip Sousa in DC
  • In 1890 and 1892, "William Robey" was listed as residing at 517-7th SE, occupation:  police (1890, 1892 Boyd's Directory of the District of Columbia)
  • In 1890, Zebulon Rhodes resided at 223-12th St. SE (1890 Boyd's Directory of the District of Columbia)
  • William Robie married Mabel Clyde Rhodes in Washington, DC in July, 1891 (no date provided in record, microfilmed marriage index viewed at the Marriage Bureau, DC Courthouse)
  • In 1899, Zebulon Rhodes stated that he was the father of Mabel C. Robie and that her mother, Sarah Ellen Grimes, had died on 2 February 1878. (Zebulon Rhodes affidafit dated 1 September 1899, civil war pension file, National Archives.)
  • John Philip Sousa's birthplace is 363 G St., SE, Washington, DC. (John Philip Sousa, American Phenomenon by Paul E. Bierley, viewed online via Google books)
  • In 1887, John Philip Sousa lived at 204 6th St. SE (1887 Boyd's Directory of the District of Columbia)
  • In 1892, John Philip Sousa lived at 313 B St. SE( 1892 Boyd's Directory of the District of Columbia)
  • In 1887 and 1892, Antonio Sousa, brother of J.P. Sousa, lived at 500-7th SE (1887,1892 Boyd's Directory of the District of Columbia)
  • The Navy Yard, home of the Marine Band, is located in SE Washington.
The Robie's were friends with John Philip Sousa
  • Sarah E. Grimes, the mother of Mabel Robie, was the daughter of Henry V. Grimes and his wife, Catherine H. Lindsey.  (1850 federal census; administration of estate for Catherine H. Grimes,1868; DC marriage index; notes copied from Sarah Grimes' bible, present whereabouts unknown)
  • Henry V. Grimes and Catherine had the following children who lived to adulthood: Samuel J., Alfred, Mary Susan, Sarah Ellen, Cinderella, and Margaret.  By 1880, only Cinderella and Mary were still living.  (administration of estates for Samuel J Grimes, 1867 and Catherine H. Grimes, 1868; will of Margaret Grimes, 1868; Rhodes affidafit, civil war pension file)
  • In the process of researching all the siblings of Sarah E. Grimes, I discovered that her sister, Mary Susan Grimes, married Henry R. Cohill on 26 August 1858, (DC marriage index) 
  • The children of Mary S.Grimes and Henry Cohill listed in the 1860,1870, and 1880 census included:  Cora V., b. 1859, Bion N., b. 1862,  Ada L., b. 1867, and Candace, b. 1872
  • Mary S. Cohill was a widowed head of household in the 1900 census, residing at 619 G St. SE.  Included in her 1900 household were her daughter, Candace Sousa and her son-in-law, Antonio Sousa.   According to the census data, Candace was born in December of 1871, had been married 5 years (marriage date ca. 1895), and the mother of three children, all of whom were still living in 1900.  Candace was born in DC, as were both her parents.  
  • Antonio Sousa was the younger brother of John Philip Sousa.  According to the Bierley biography, he was the ninth child in the Sousa family, born in DC on March 25, 1868.  "He was at one time a letter carrier and post office clerk.  He also contributed to the sports columns of the Washington papers, wrote verse, and collaborated with Edward Lewelly on an opera. He died on 8 May 1918 in Rocky Ford, Colorado, where he had been sent to recuperate from tuberculosis, and was buried in the Sousa plot in Congressional Cemetery."(Bierley biography of Sousa, Congressional cemetery online database)

Since we know that John Philip Sousa left town in 1892, the "partying with the Robie's" pretty much had to end that year.  I created a map to plot the locations of where the individuals I've mentioned actually lived.

View ancestral southeast d.c. in a larger map

Immediately, I saw that in 1890 and 1892 William Robie lived just a few doors away from the Sousa family home on 7th Street, SE -- the head of household at that address in the 1880 census was Elisabeth Sousa, John Philip and Antonio's mother; several of her children remained at home, including Antonio but not John Philip.  In addition, Antonio Sousa continued to be listed at this address In the 1887 and 1892 DC city directories (used to provide information lost in the destroyed 1890 federal census).  Everyone else in the story certainly lived in SE Washington, but as I said before, just living in the same part of town isn't the same thing as being friends, or even acquaintances!  

Furthermore, the marriage of Mable Rhodes' cousin Candace Cohill to Antonio Sousa didn't take place until approximately 1895, by which time the Robie's had moved down to the Robie family farm in Charles County, Maryland, so it is not likely that Mabel's distant connection  with the Sousa family was the cause of this purported friendship, if it actually existed.  
So, in the absence of a Sousa diary or manuscript mentioning his good friend Bill Robie, it would be pure conjecture to reach any conclusion about the nature of the social interaction between my ancestors and the Sousa family.  But the fact that William Robie was a neighbor of theirs implies that he might certainly have at least met the famous band leader.  
The discovery of a marriage between my ancestor's cousin and a brother of John Philip Sousa initially led me to believe that there might be some substance to Pop's story, but the fact that the marriage occurred after the time period in which William Robie and members of the Sousa family were in the same vicinity lends credence to a different hypothesis -- in which Candace Cohill and Antonio Sousa actually came together through their separate relationships with Bill Robie:  Antonio as his neighbor, and Candace as the cousin of his wife, Mabel.
More research remains to be done on this question to nail down exact dates, and look for manuscript sources on Sousa.  The 7th street neighborhood was also the location of Trinity Church, Washington's oldest Episcopalian parish.  It is certainly possible that everyone met at church, although perhaps less likely in the case of William Robie.... (I'll write more about that another time!)  Next visit to Washington, I plan on fleshing this out some more; even better, if any cousins reading this have better data, please let me know.  In any case, a fun exercise!