Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Every Family Has One

Example of the revolver Jonas Baker used to shoot himself in the right temple.
Studying family history is not for the faint of heart.  This morning I found these notes from another family tree about my third great-grandfather, and upon further research discovered multiple newspaper articles that described his suicide.

The letter seemed to whitewash his dark side, while the newspaper left nothing untouched.  There were at least six stories in Indiana newspapers the day following his death.  On the day of his death, a notice appeared in the afternoon Indianapolis Star.  This is amazing to me: how did the news get from rural Whitley County to urban Indianapolis that quickly in 1890?

Jonas Baker was my great-grandmother Anna Long Hoard's grandfather.  Her mother died when she was a small child, so I'm not sure how much contact she had with his family.  This event happened when she was thirteen and living in the same community.  I believe it impacted her.  What I know about her is that she was a temperate, shy, hard-working woman who kept her proverbial nose to the grindstone.

Jonas was one of the first permanent settlers of Whitley County. He served several terms as trustee of Washington Twp.

per Susan Abentrod, Birmingham, MI     via E-mail Aug. 10, 2006

I have copied some of the notes of my grandfather for you below. These were in a family history prepared for my cousin, who was his first grandchild. I have copied this just as he wrote it.

From the notes of J.A.Mullendore in 1940.

Father of Elizabeth, Frank (who married a daughter of Lewis Long - Cassie), Dan, Jonas. With an ax on his shoulder and his gold wrapped in a handkerchief came from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, arriving barefooted he bought and settled on 320 acres in Washington Twp. He was a character. Was kind to some and Generous to others who praised him highly. 
He was very large and strong and much feared by many, for he drank much and was very rough. At times (was known to take men and thoroughly whip them with a brush or sprout) as he did the nite he was asleep (drinking maybe) in the back of the wagon box, while Lew Weybright was driving the team from Columbia City to his farm, and in crossing a swinging bridge over Sugar Creek, team, wagon, men and all were thrown into the water. He blamed the driver and when a farmer nearby got to the scene, he had the Driver by the neck and was lacing him plenty with a brush (the farmer was Pharis Bollinger, who related this incident to me while I was building a new bridge at the site in 1922). 
He would go to town, put his team in the barn and stay for a week or two. People that knew him in Columbia City were afraid, for where he took a notion to stay all night, he went in and went to sleep, not bothering to knock or announce himself until morning. He hated style, especially silk dresses. He was known to walk up behind and wet them.

 He shot himself in the right temple with a revolver twice to commit suicide (If Dave Shoemaker (who married his daughter Marguete) did not do it for him.) He had very fine horses and was considered very prosperous, despite his faults.

He was known to ride horseback to the home of a poor settler, leave a sack of cornmeal and one of potatoes and ride away not aiming to be seen (as told to J.A.Mullendore in 1939 by Willis Miller, an old man now, who saw him do so at his parents home.)

Lightning struck of his cattle, he shook his fist, and defied Almighty to try it to him - after the storm he took the steer and the family bible to the woods and burned them on the same fire. His grandson, Frank (Jonas he was named for being like him) Mullendore stood looking at his grave and said "there's a man who sure went to hell" (told to J.A.Mullendore by Ira Beachler in 1908 who was with him.)

Jonas came from a large family. He had brothers Henry and John, one of whom settled in Wabash Co., the other was a bum.

He is buried at Eberhard Cemetery.

 Note from Allen White/ 1870 Census records:  Real estate valued @ $12,800.00, and personal possessions valued @ $1950.00 which made him the 4th wealthiest man in Washington Twp. after Noah Swihart, Jacob Metz, and Frederick Morrell.

And now for the rest of the story, apparently inappropriate for the official history.







Monday, March 18, 2019

Dark Haired, Green-Eyed Researcher Seeks Sweets

Unidentified photo from collection, estimating about 1880
The media has, and rightly so for privacy and other reasons, cast aspersions on the relatively new industry of DNA analysis for family history.

My husband and I took tests about five years ago and found that, in both cases, our report mirrored what we knew of our family background.  For me, it nearly mimicked my four grand-parents.  While my DNA has, of course,  not changed since I first took the test, the sample size has increased as more people take the test.  Again, my numbers were about as I expected, mostly western Europe and the
U.K.

But a new featured called Thru Lines allows me to see the family trees of those with whom I may share DNA.  There are about 30 trees to which I have a genetic connection.

Today I was running up a branch of my family tree and ran into a fourth cousin I've never met.  I knew her parents and grandparents when I was a child.  I wrote her a note on the internal Ancestry message board.

Her grandparents and her father are deceased.  She lives in Minnesota and recently was visiting her mother in Pennsylvania.  Her mother suggested to her, sort of out of the blue, that she and I should connect.  Apparently, my fourth cousin is moving her mother (no relation to me) to a smaller home and found pictures of my family.  While my mother wasn't interested in family history per se, she was a great letter-writer and one who communicated with family members far and near.  I'm certain that the pictures of my family came to my cousin's mother from my mom.

My cousin and I will soon talk on the phone to compare notes on our research.  I know that my mom is smiling widely out there somewhere.  What is amazing to me about this feature is that through this simple saliva test I am linked to many others, often corroborating information I already had.

Another new feature to the DNA report is Traits.  A person's DNA can suggest certain traits.  My report listed more than a dozen traits including an affinity for sweets (true!), pale skin, freckles, and dark hair.  The report suggested I have dark eyes. Mine are a medium green. Missed on that mark.

The report also suggested that my close male relatives (attention, son and nephew) have a low chance of male pattern baldness.

I do not have a cleft chin, and the report suggested I did not.  The report said my earwax is yellow and sticky (correct, but TMI) and that my earlobes are not attached.  And apparently I'm not a vampire as my pointer and middle finger are longer than my ring finger, as the report predicted.

The most bizarre note on the report was the suggestion that I can smell my urine after I eat asparagus.  Since I despise asparagus, I'm not sure if this is the case.

Back to my regularly scheduled hunting.  A friend suggested I'll probably go all the way back to Adam and Eve (which we all do), actually we're all from Africa science tells us.  But I have fairly exhausted all my lines in America and will be starting Europe soon.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Great Vastness of the Universe

Earlier in the week I watched a documentary about Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Without Einstein, there is no Hawking. Without Einstein, we may have never understood the concept of time and space. Without Hawking, we would not understand the Big Bang theory.

The TV show hosts used simple metaphors to explain the concepts of physics.  Most of the concepts, and certainly the equations, stretched way beyond my comprehension.  Einstein illustrated  the speed of light by using a train metaphor.  I'm pretty sure I'm still at the station. But I walked away with a new appreciation for the vastness of the universe, of creation, our relationships, and what a small role one person plays.

I've started working on my family history, particularly on my mother's side.  I completed a project with my father last year, so I'm setting that aside for now.

I joined Ancestry as soon as it was a thing, and have been a member on and off for years.  My husband and I did the DNA tests about four or five years ago.  Reading the tests and pondering the meaning and chasing down connections just was not a priority. Until now.

Now I'm plowing through Ancestry and through boxes and boxes of goodies left to me by my maternal grandmother, an aunt on my father's side, and my mother's sister.  Access to the Internet databases allows me to compare and confirm information in the boxes.  But there's much more to it than court, census, and legal records.

It's quite humbling to have all these items left to me.  It's very humbling to find my grandmother's handwritten "Amy LeNore" on a 1958 document, when I was born the year before.

Here are a few of the other family treasures I've found:

  • A letter from a Riley Children's Hospital doctor to my paternal grandmother about "Billy."  Billy is my father, born with a club foot.  Dad had multiple surgeries at Riley between 1930 and 1933 to fix the problem.  (It wasn't quite as easy as it is now.)  The handwritten letter I have from the doctor to my grandmother affirms that my dad is doing well and improving. 
  • A newspaper notice about my great-great-grandfather returning from  several winter months in Florida in the 1910s and 1920s. My maternal grandparents "wintered" in Florida, and I lived in the Tampa area for six years.  My grandmother and I chased down her grandfather's Twigg Street address in the 1980s.  We found ourselves in the middle of city center Tampa looking at a skyscraper.
  • Six tin types given to me by my father's oldest sister, none of which are identified.  I've learned from a helpful friend that Google has a reverse image search.  I will be using it to see if I can find a match.  One of the tintypes is of a Civil War soldier with a woman. The picture is similar to another photo I have of a Civil War gentleman who was my great-grand-grandfather and served in an Ohio infantry.  He came home from war and was never the same.  Today we would call it PTSD.  An old family document notes, "(A man) was well acquainted with the said soldier, who became insane and was taken to the Asylum for the Insane at Athens, Ohio, where he died about 14 years later.  His cause of death was listed as 'the grippe'."
  • My ancestors did not fair well in the military.  On my mother's side, there is an ancestor who spent seven years as a Revolutionary War soldier, spending a winter at Valley Forge with General Washington.  He died two years after returning from the war.
  • On a more contemporary note, I discovered an un-cashed check for $84 from someone who had made me very angry.  Apparently I was so angry, my punishment to them was not to cash the check which is on an account long closed.
  • My grandmother nearly drowned while ice skating on Huffman Ditch near the family farm in her teenage years.  In my childhood, the Huffman Ditch was merely a name where something once was.  Hard to imagine enough water in it to nearly drown. 
  • Almost everyone on both sides of my family were in the agriculture business, one way or another, farming, buying, selling, or supporting it.  One relative won a national vegetable judging contest (who knew?).  The more interesting fact about this particular relative (a first cousin of my dad's) is that he was on the USS Indianapolis when it was torpedoed in 1945.  He spent several horrific days in the water, seeing things no man should ever see, and lived for many years.  I did not know him, but knew his brother quite well as he lived until a few years ago.
Every family has stories.  Some families were fortunate to have someone who documented it. I hope you are inspired to find your own stories.  There are Internet sites that don't cost like Family Search at https://www.familysearch.org/.  You must register for a free account.  Many local libraries have paid accounts to Ancestry, Fold 3, and Newspapers.com.

My search has been interesting.  I've found items that have moved me to tears, made me angry, fostered pride, and brought on a chuckle.  Happy searching to you!


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Henry Kellis Hoard, Age 62

When reviewing old documents and photographs, I'm generally not emotional.  I'm not a cryer at all; it takes something huge to make the tears fall.  When I cry I generally have an asthma attack, so I guess I've trained myself not to cry.

The emotion of finding my great-grandfather's death certificate caused huge tears to well up in my eyes and pour out yesterday afternoon.

Henry Kellis Hoard was 62 when he died on December 2, 1932 after several days in Fort Wayne's Lutheran Hospital.  Kellis, the name he used, was named for his grandfather, a physician in Coshoction County, Ohio.  I'm still researching from here that Kellis (Hoard) Hord originated.

As the story goes, my great-grandfather went to the Tunker Store as he often did, and drank something he mistook for cider.  He was not a drinker, and he was not senile.  We don't really know what happened.  He drank sulphuric acid.

Seeing it written on the death certificate was a bone-crusher, because my grandmother, about whom I'm writing the book, adored her father.  She was his baby, the last of three daughters, and she followed him everywhere.

The prior year, my grandmother married my grandfather on April 31, 1931, and moved to Springfield, Illinois, where Granpy's job with Prudential took him.  My mom was born on March 28, 1932.  I know that her Grandpa Hoard saw her several times, including her baptism day at Homeland Farm.  Mom was a baby, and has no memory of him.

My grandmother had many tragedies in her early life, and I can imagine losing her father when she was only 24 was difficult for her.  She also lived in the same house until 1973, and kept a meat locker at the Tunker Store, and shopped there for incidentals. My brother, cousins, and I were customers of the Penny Candy section and walked or rode our bikes down to the corner to the store.  It never occured to me until yesterday that this store must have been a place of horror for her.

This is an undated article I found among my grandmother's papers, but based on the age of an ancestor mentioned, this article ran in the paper in 1930.  My great-great-grandfather Washington Long died in the same year.




Monday, March 4, 2019

Why Bother?

I was thinking this morning about a "vertical file" kept at the newspaper office where I worked in college during summer vacation.  The editor, Hester Little Adams, filed everything from jr. high band concert programs to magazine articles about Mickey Mouse.  My colleague, Anne Shrock Ott, who worked full-time was the unfortunate mistress of the files during that time.  She reminded me this morning that "it was mind-numbing at 22."  And I replied to her, "And it was mind-numbing at 21."

So why now?  Why at age sixty-one-and-a-half am I mesmerized by the stories of my family? And why do I wish now that I had access to those files about my ancestors who lived in the community?

For one thing, I was brain-washed but in a good way.  When I was a small child, my grandmother LeNore Enz told me wonderful stories about her family.  One of her ancestors Christian Henry Creager encountered native Americans in NE Indiana.  Interviewed for Kaler's "History of Whitley County" (available on Google Books), Creager remembers encountering 150 native Americans on a return from Syracuse to Cleveland Township (South Whitley, Indiana).  Creager reports from  his childhood memories that he saw a native American man who had been killed by their tribe.  The body was buried vertically with only the head sticking out.  The native Americans placed the dead man's possessions around him and let the body decay.  The book notes that the head was taken by a man from Collamer, a tiny burg several miles from South Whitley.

Creager also recalls a time when his father Peter asked him to deliver some meat to his brother-in-law four miles away.  Creager said he was chased by a large pack of wolves, and his three dogs kept the wolves at bay.

It's obvious to me that my grandmother LeNore and I both got some of our hyperbole from Christian, who was LeNore's great grandfather.  He was among the first citizens of South Whitley, the town I grew where I lived as a child. But my grandmother put her interest into action, taping oral histories of elderly individuals from the county for the local library.

Why does it matter?  Again, why bother?  Living in the past is not a good idea. Living in the future is not a good idea.  The best place to live is in the present, as we do not know more sunsets we will enjoy.  However, learning about the lives of those who came before us may help us understand our present.

In the weeks since I've started my renewed push to research my ancestors, I've learned that my people were slaveholders.  I was certain that most of my family came from Europe in the mid 19th century, but I was missing a piece.  I did not have the correct spelling of my grandmother's family name, Hoard, prior to John Tyler Hoard's period.  It was changed from Hord, which opened up a new line and the reality that my ancestors owned other human beings.

Four hundred years ago this year, Africans were brought to this continent against their will, often changed in terrible situations in the bottom of slave ships.  This is  a legacy of which I'm not proud, yet one cannot stuff it into the back pages of a scrapbook.  This fact also tells the story of my family, of my country.

And my branch of the family left Virginia for Ohio and Indiana.  Many of them fought for the Union in the War Between the States.  This doesn't negate what my ancestors did.


Note:  John Tyler Hoard was born on this date in 1840.  Private Hoard served honorably in an Ohio regiment during the Civil War, two stints in battles in West Virginia and Virginia, and was discharged due to a disability.  He later lived at the Old Soldier's Home in Marion, Indiana, but came home to Whitley County to die in 1902, and is buried at Old Cleveland Cemetery, South Whitley, Indiana.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Journey West


My mother is buried in a Lutheran Cemetery in the rural county where I grew up. Her parents are buried there, as are my grandmother’s parents. My great-grandmother’s parents and grandparents are buried there. Visiting the cemetery gives me an odd feeling, a feeling that I am walking among my history.
The first ancestor buried in the cemetery was Reuben Long. With his brother, Reuben first came to Washington Township, Whitley County, Indiana, from Culpeper, Virginia. The town was founded in 1759 and had been surveyed by a young George Washington who was a protégé of the founder, Lord Fairfax.
The Long brothers likely came to Whitley County before getting the land patent, so I don’t know the exact date. A Whitley County history book I own described the area of Washington Township, as wooded and rocky.
The land patent above, signed in the name of President Martin van Buren, gave the original acreage of what later would be known as Homeland Farm to Reuben Long. I have the original copy of this document, passed down through the generations. The farm was greatly expanded, primarily by my grandfather after 1936, and was sold by my family in 2010. Unfortunately, no one in my family wanted to farm the land.

Our legacy is, then, knowing the hard work and character of those who came before us to keep the "family business" intact for more than a century-and-a-half.


Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Mysterious Mr. Hoard

This is the mysterious John Tyler Hoard, my great-great-grandfather.  I've been looking for him for 25 years since my grandmother died. Apparently, the family changed the spelling of Hord to Hoard. He was born on March 4, 1840, in Lorane, Indiana, a wisp of a village in the northern part of Whitley County, where most of my grandmother's family lived. This picture of Hoard was in my collection. It was taken by the infamous Frank Kelly, who had studios both in my hometown of South Whitley, as well as the country seat, Columbia City, Indiana. John Tyler Hoard was one of five children born to Kellis Hord and Angelina Moore. He served with an Ohio company in the Civil War and married Catherine Creager, daughter of Christian Henry Creager, one of the early residents of South Whitley, who reportedly owned a sawmill and built State Street. (Note: Creager's children by his first wife are missing in this reference.) From a family letter dated 1902: As early as the reign of King John (1215) we find honorable mention of the Hord family in Engliand where they stood high and many were knighted. The genealogy follows them on down through successive reigns until 1685 when John Hord, an English gentleman, came to Virginia. He was engaged in the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth against King James the II and came to America after the defeat of the former. He purchased a large tract of large in what is now Caroline County on the Rappahanock which he named Shady Grove. His house was brought from England in six sections and part of it is still standing (1902). It is located two miles south of the Rappahanock River and eight miles below where the vilage of Port Royal now stands. Here John Hord lived and died in 1712 and from this man is descended every many bearing the name of Hord in America. He had six sons. The coat of arms bears a raven and there is a Count de Hord spoken of in Voltaire's Life in Charles XII, so it is thought perhaps the family originated in Sweden. This letter is from a typed, undated letter to an unknown person from another unknown person named Bill, which was included among the papers given to me by LeNore Alice Hoard Enz. ### Hot links may direct users to other facts. Basic demographic data is saved on Ancestry.com under the family tree of Amy LeNore McVay Abbott. Family names: Creager, Obenchain, Hoard, Enz, Evans, Sarah Mae Hoard, Marilyn Enz McVay, LeNore Hoard Enz