Sunday, April 23, 2017

Family History...So much more than Genealogy

Eleven years old, and I had just watched all of the Roots miniseries on TV. That is when I was bitten by the genealogy bug. My grandfather had judged passed away, but I was lucky to still have a great-grandmother who had just turned 97 that year.

At that time, I thought it was all about attaching names to photographs, and filling in the pedigree charts. I made a point of filling the family sheets also, because I knew it was important to everyone's information.

And that was all you needed, right?

I was so very wrong!

In starting this journey, I have discovered so much more than the names of my ancestors.

I discovered their stories. That is the essence of family history.

I grew up knowing most of the people in this photograph. But I now know so much more about them.

  • I know three of the men are WW II veterans. And that one was injured as a paratrooper in the Philippines, and one was missing for a short time in France.
  • My great-grandmother was a widow for several years before the war, and had to watch alone as four sons went off to war.
  • My grandfather was born a year before his future wife's cousin was sworn in as the governor of Indiana.
  • I know that one of these gentlemen came from Italy as a young boy.

This is Family History! When a picture is so much more than names and faces. 

It is their stories.

It is in how they lived, endured, celebrated.

It is much, much more than a name on a chart!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Hillmans of Moores Hill

Thomas J. and Anna (Moore) Hillman. Children (Clockwise from top left): Grace, Carrie, Edna, Lillian, Maude, George

     Can any of you name the family that most interested you when you started your journey into family history?  I can.  I was eleven years old and had just finished watching the "Roots" miniseries on TV.  I became fascinated with this idea of finding out more about my family tree, also.

     I was luckier than some, when I began my search.  I not only still had my two grandmothers, but I was blessed to also still have one of my great-grandmothers to visit.  She can be found as a young woman behind her mother in the above picture.

     Carrie's daughter (my paternal grandmother) also wrote names and dates in the family Bible, going back to her grandparents. She also did the same for my grandfather's family.

     Judging from the age of the children, this picture was taken near the turn of the century. I am also in the possession of a large photo of Thomas and Anna in an original frame taken approximately around 1880 or so.  These are treasures that I am so blessed to have.

    I love having the photographs, but I wanted to learn so much more about these people than just names and dates.  Great-grandma Carrie's sister, Maude, was still alive when I was eleven, and I actually have a picture somewhere of Carrie and Maude at our family reunion in 1977 or '78.  But, I haven't learned much about Maude yet. Or Edna and Grace.

     The only boy, George, had a career as a blacksmith well into the 1960's.  He also served in World War I in the Rainbow Division.

     Lillian, sitting on the ground in front of her mother, was not fortunate enough to have a long life, as were her siblings.  She grew into a young woman, fell in love, and got married.  However, according to her death certificate, she was a victim of the flu epidemic that gripped the nation around the time of the war. She died within a year or two of her wedding date.

     I have not learned much about Thomas Hillman's family, but Anna Moore has quite a few interesting ancestors and relatives. Her family's story includes an Indiana governor, a territorial judge, the founding of a small town and college, Mennonites, Methodists and the migration from Maryland and Virginia. I told you a little about the migration of Adam Moore in a previous post.

     So, I can tell you without a doubt when, and with what great-grandparent, my journey began. But, as you all know too well, the journey will never end! I hope you enjoyed getting to know my great-grandmother's family. I look forward to telling you more about Anna's family soon.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are We There Yet?

Old Canal Boat in Metamora, Indiana

     We are absolutely spoiled!!  In this day and age, we can be across the country in just a few hours (~ if you don't count sitting in airports on layovers!  LOL) and across the pond to London in 1/2 a day.

     When most of us start looking up the old family tree, we usually just want to start getting names and dates on paper.  But after a while, you really start getting interested in their stories. What made them leave the old country?  How did they get to America? What would make you leave your home in Maryland, and start over in a brand new state named Indiana?  How did you get here?

     This last question has crossed my mind lately as I research several of my lines.  I have traced them back to Maryland, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania and other points along the Atlantic Coast.  My husband is lucky enough to have a journal in his possession that his ancestor wrote from his life in Denmark all the way through his trek across the country to Utah in the 1830's.  So, he has written proof in the trials and tribulations of cross-country travel in pioneer times.

     I have found no such diary or accounts of how many of my ancestors settled in the Midwest.  So, the next best thing that I could do is just plain research on how most of these areas were settled. For example, I discovered that the National Road was completed from Maryland to Wheeling, West Virginia in the year 1818.  This is the exact year that my ancestor, Adam Moore, left Maryland and arrived in Indiana.  Wheeling is set along the Ohio River, which then runs all the way to the Mississippi River.  Adam could easily have taken the National Road to Wheeling, where he then traveled on the Ohio River with his family to Lawrenceburg, Indiana.  Just a few more miles down the road and he was able to settle the town that still bears his name, Moores Hill.

     So, I ask did your family get settled where they did?  Conestoga wagon, canal boat, railroad, river travel...or a combination of all of these?  We all have stories...what is yours?  I would love to hear your family's story!!!