Labor ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ Week #36

When I saw the word “Labor” I immediately thought of Labor Day, at least the one I grew up celebrating. As with all things, society changes and so does our holidays. Although my family never had any real traditions while I was growing up, we did always do something for the Labor Day weekend. Maybe that was because my Dad actually had a day off of work!

The first Labor Day was held celebrated in New York City on September 5, 1882, and was started by the Central Labor Union in New York City. In 1884, it was moved to the first Monday in September where it is celebrated today. Labor Day quickly became popular and one state after another voted it as a holiday. On June 28, 1894, the U.S. congress voted it a national holiday. How this holiday is celebrated has changed dramatically over the years, but the ones that have endured are picnics, barbecues, swimming, and shopping!

My Dad belonged to the Carpenters Union. He was very proud of that, and he took it very seriously. Every year we would go to the Union Hall for a barbecue and there were always games and music. After the festivities we would go to Randolph Park (now Reid Park) and my sister and I would run around the small lake and play at the playground. One of my favorite activities was to visit the Prairie Dog village. It was just a fenced in area with a lot of hills in which the prairie dogs dug their holes and tunnels. I would get excited when they would peek out from one of the holes. Their faces were so cute. This area eventually became the Reid Park Zoo with lots of exotic animals.
I remember one year we made a trip to San Diego, and we spent the day at the beach. I believe that is when I first fell in love with the ocean. My sisters attempt to drown me didn’t deter that love. Another year we attended a political picnic at Hi Corbett Baseball Field. It was for Barry Goldwater when he was running for President in 1964. We saw lots of balloons, several music groups, and the longest, most boring speech I ever heard. What would you expect from a 9 year-old girl? It really didn’t matter what we did for Labor Day, I always had fun. By the end of the day I would go to bed excited because the next day was always the first day of school!

Regardless of what we did over the 3-day weekend my Dad would remind us of why we celebrated Labor Day. It was a day to recognize the hard work of the common men and women who toiled to feed their families.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Hometown Tuesday ~ Shepherdstown, Jefferson Co, Virginia

hometown tuesdayColonial settlers began their migration into the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley in the early 1700s. Many crossed the Potomac River at Pack Horse Ford, about one mile downriver from the modern site of Shepherdstown. There, Native American tribes once clashed at what was then part of the Warrior Path. Later it was known as the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, a major north-south connector of colonial and early America.

The colony of Virginia began issuing Valley land grants in the 1730s, but settlers in the area of what became Shepherdstown had arrived earlier, perhaps before 1720. In 1734,great_wagon_road Thomas Shepherd took up a tract of 222 acres on the south side of the Potomac, along the Falling Spring Branch, now known as Town Run. For a brief time, the settlement there was called Pack Horse Ford or Swearingen’s Ferry. In 1762, the Virginia Assembly established the town as Mecklenburg (later renamed Shepherdstown). As the sole trustee, Shepherd retained chief responsibility for its government. Shepherdstown is the oldest town in the state of Virginia, having been chartered in 1762. Since 1863, Shepherdstown has been in West Virginia and is also the oldest town in that state.

More than twenty natural springs feed Town Run before it enters the south end of town. The Run rarely floods and never runs dry; it meanders through backyards, under houses, across alleys, and beneath five streets before it rushes down to the Potomac. To early settlers, the stream provided water for domestic purposes and firefighting as well as fish for the table. Most important, it powered the shops of millers, tanners, potters, smiths, and other artisans. As a result, on the eve of the American Revolution, the town thrived. A busy waterfront on the Potomac and workshops on Town Run complemented growing farms beyond the town. Mecklenburg had grown to 1,000 inhabitants and had a ferry crossing the river to Maryland. Being near Pack Horse Ford gave the town a strategic location on the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road. With the official blessing of the Virginia Assembly, Shepherdstown residents celebrated two annual fairs “for the sale and vending of all manner of cattle, victuals, provisions, goods, wares, and merchandise whatsoever.”

shepherdstown VA Historic houseIn the summer of 1775, the Continental Congress issued a call for volunteer rifle companies from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania to come to the aid of embattled Boston. Captain Hugh Stephenson filled the ranks of his 100-man company from around Mecklenburg. The troops departed from Morgan’s Spring, about one-half mile south of the town limits, in mid-July. This famous “Beeline March” covered 600 miles in 24 days as the marchers hastened to help fellow colonists threatened by George III’s Redcoats.

The town contributed liberally to the cause of American independence. Its cemeteries contain at least thirty-eight Revolutionary veterans, a measure of the town’s military involvement. Citizens also supplied clothing, wagons, saddles, and other items for military use.

After the Revolution, the little river town continued to flourish, though the War left many widows and orphans, and some veterans moved west to take up land grants. On December 3, 1787, a historic moment during the critical days of the early republic, James Rumsey conducted a successful trial of a steamboat. A large gathering of townspeople and notables witnessed the event from the banks and bluffs of the Potomac River. A few months later, Abraham Shepherd provided riverfront land and facilities for the Mecklenburg Warehouse, a tobacco inspection facility approved by the Virginia General Assembly in 1788.

In addition to Rumsey’s ingenuity, Shepherdstown’s early records reveal impressive Potomack Guardianexamples of wit, learning, and culture. West Virginia’s first newspaper (The Potomak Guardian and Berkeley Advertiser) and first book (The Christian Panoply) were published here in the 1790s. A number of schools had been started before the Revolution, including an English school and a German school, and the first academy in what became West Virginia opened shortly afterward.

Because Shepherdstown provided a convenient stopover for wagon masters and other sojourners, many taverns and inns sprang up. In addition to food, drink, and lodging, these establishments provided horse racing, gambling, cockfighting, and other entertainments for the weary travelers and interested townspeople.

George Washington Heritage Trail MarkerThe 1790s brought many changes. The first post office in what became West Virginia opened in 1793. By 1794 Welsh’s brickyard operated along Town Run on the south side of Washington Street between Princess and King. Because of the brickyard, between 1790 and 1840, many of the wooden structures of pioneer Shepherdstown were torn down to make way for brick homes and shops favored by a new generation of businessmen and industrialists. Houses for the brickyard workers, known as Fossett Row, still stand on W High Street. African American workers, both slave and free, lived at each end of German Street, Little Philadelphia on the west and Angel Hill on the east. By 1857, nearly 100 slaves lived in Shepherdstown.

 My 5x Great Grandfather, Jacob Newcomer was born in 1770, in Shepherdstown. He is one of my many maternal brick walls. He married Susannah Finter (1773-1810) on October 7, 1794, with the marriage being officiated by Rev. John Counce. They had only one child that I can prove, a daughter, Sarah Newcomer (1808-1881). The 1810 Census shows that he had 5 sons and 3 daughters. It was written in one Finter biography that Jacob and Susannah were killed by Indians during a raid of a neighbor they just happened to be visiting in 1810. However, I have never been able to prove this story.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Hometown Tuesday ~ Keller, Tarrant County, Texas

hometown tuesdayKeller is in the western fringe of the Eastern Cross Timbers in northeast Tarrant County, Texas, part of the frontier of the Peters Colony settlers of the 1840s. To the west, there was open prairie as far as the eye could see. In the mid-1840s, the area was first settled by a group of families from Missouri that homesteaded near the head-waters of Big Bear Creek. Led by a widow named Permelia (Loving) Allen aged 73, they homesteaded near the headwaters of Big Bear Creek. Other families that settled the area included Daniel Bancroft, Ireneous Nease, Richard Allen, J.J. Roberts, and Aurelius Delphus Bourland. The area became known as ‘Double Springs’ due to the two large springspeters-colony-sign in the rolling wooded countryside. The springs site is approximately ½ mile north of the first church started in Tarrant County in 1850, known as the Lonesome Dove Baptist Church. The church building was burned down by Indians and the church was rebuilt by Daniel Barcroft and Permelia Allen at the site and renamed Mt. Gilead Baptist Church. There were eight charter members listed: John A. Freeman, Daniel Barcroft, Ireneus Neace and wife, Lucinda Allen Neace, Permelia Allen, Abby Dunham, and two slaves, Ambrose and Caroline Collard.

peters colony cabinPermelia’s son wrote in a letter the following description “The area had a soil as rich as the craving that any man could wish for, and timber, water, and grass in an abundance, and sufficient evidence of the sunshine and the showers, besides the woodlands were lined with wild deer and turkey, and fine herds of antelope on the prairies the year-round, the buffalo was there during the winter season. The only serious question was where our bread would come from until virgin soil could be prepared and made to supply our wants. Here was the most wonderful and beautiful sight our eyes had ever beheld. Here we could view the beauties and grandeur of nature before they were being spoiled by the woodman’s ax or the surface of the earth was furrowed by the plow or by the surging of waters.”

The Texas settlers maintained their homes, grew gardens, and raised fruits such as Permelia Loving Allen abstract of Texas land grantpeaches and pears. Hog raising was especially good in the area because of the plentiful supply of acorns from the oak trees. Grapevines grew profusely and provided another source of fruit. Most homes, many of the two-pen variety, were built of lumber brought in by wagon from Grapevine or other locations. Lumber in the Cross Timbers area was not suitable for building, although the woods were thick with a variety of trees, including mesquite, cedar, and dense underbrush. Some settlers maintained farms and ranches out on the prairie but kept their homes in the timber. The area had a cotton gin, a grist mill, a blacksmith shop, a post office, and several stores.

Keller_TX_Mt_Gilead_Baptist_Church_Historical_MarkerPermelia is my 4x Great Grandmother. She was an amazing woman. In a time when women had little or no rights, she led 25 families on a 600-mile trek from Moniteau County, Missouri to Tarrant County, Texas. She died in February 1866 at the age of 92 and she was buried in an unmarked grave in the Mount Gilead cemetery that she had donated the land for. Cemetery records reveal that many settlers in the area were of Scots-Irish-English descent.



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.



Hometown Tuesday ~ Bermuda Hundreds, Colonial Virginia

hometown tuesdayIn the early days of the Virginia colony, it was hard to recruit settlers to leave England and travel to the Colony. Life here was hard. Most settlers were dying here, about 80% over the “Starving Time” during the winter of 1609-1610. Since this was a private venture, managed by the Virginia Company with the blessing of King James I, the Company had to figure out a way to entice people to make the trip. They soon discovered the one item that was the most effective incentive to attract new settlers. It began to offer land, a commodity which the company had in abundance. Anyone paying their own expenses to Virginia, or the expenses of someone else, would receive a warrant authorizing them to survey and “patent” 50 acres of land free.

bermudahundred map

In an even better offer, new investors could assemble a whole group of new settlers and start a plantation away from Jamestown. The new plantations were called Hundreds as each “Hundred” could comfortably hold 100 people including women and children. Each immigrant brought to Virginia, no matter what their age or sex, entitled the investor who was paying their way to 100 acres of land. As a result some colonists became wealthy having plantations of over 1000 acres.

susan constant drawing

Although the initial inhabitants of Virginia came to find gold and silver it didn’t take long to realize the real “gold” was the tobacco that was grown here. My 9th Great Grandfather John Dodson born in 1571 in Great Neck, England, arrived at the Virginia Colony on April 26, 1607, aboard the “Susan Constant” and was one of the first colonists in the area. In 1608, John Dodson accompanied Captain John Smith on a voyage into the Pamunkey River, and on December 29, 1608, he was among the men who accompanied Captain Smith to Werowocomoco, Powhatan’s village on the York River. He married a woman named Jane (Unknown last name) sometime before his first son, Jesse, was born in 1623. By early 1624, he owned land in the Bermuda Hundreds and he grew tobacco. He died in 1652 at the age of 81.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Hometown Tuesday ~ Leavenworth, Kansas

hometown tuesday Leavenworth, Kansas was first settled as Fort Leavenworth in 1827 on the west side of the Missouri River by Colonel Henry H. Leavenworth. The purpose was to protect travelers from Indians on the Santa Fe and Oregon trail and to protect the flourishing fur trade. The town was organized and laid out in 1854. The following year Leavenworth became the first incorporated community in the Kansas Territory.

Kansas territory 1861

By 1857 it was a prosperous supply base for the settlements of the West. It has held many important purposes over its history, such as being the Headquarters of the Upper Missouri Indian Agency, and an operations base during the Mexican War. It was also important during the Civil War, so much so that the Confederate Sterling Price targeted it during a raid in 1864. It also had a federal military prison and later a Federal Penitentiary in 1895. 

This area of the country was a place of great controversy during the Civil War. It was a Popular Sovereignty State which was a pre-Civil War doctrine asserting the right of the people living in a newly organized territory to decide by vote of their territorial legislature whether or not slavery would be permitted there. All the other states made this decision by allowing the existing government vote without citizen input. During the war, thousands of recruits were recruited and mustered out from Camp Lincoln at Fort Leavenworth. Between 1861 and 1865, the regular army formed the foundation on which volunteer forces were built. Railroads stretching towards the west came under increasing attack by the Plains Indians. Because the western posts were undermanned, Confederate prisoners were called upon to help fight the hostile Indians. Five of these regiments were outfitted at Fort Leavenworth.

Elvira Register Hayes sm

This is the Leavenworth that my 2x Great Grandmother was born into. Elvira Register was born on March 31, 1861, to Mathew and Elisia (White) Register. She was the 5th of 12 children. Her parents, along with her 2 paternal uncles and their families moved from St. Joseph, Missouri to Kansas in 1855. They had established themselves as farmers and were very prosperous. At the beginning of the Civil War on April 12, 1861, Elvira’s father and uncles joined the Union Army and went back to Missouri to engage in the fighting. This left her mother alone at home with 5 children aged 8 (twins), 2, 1 and 1 month. I am sure having her sisters-in-law’s were a small comfort for Elisia.

After the war, the Register’s remained in Leavenworth until 1873 when Mathew moved his family to the Cherokee Indian Reservation in Oklahoma to run a trading post. What an exciting life it must have been for a young girl to see and experience the growth of the Kansas territory. She could watch the hoards of pioneers stopping to buy supplies on their way west. It is said that Elvira had a great sense of humor and curiosity like no other her entire life. I believe it was developed during these early years of living in such a grand place.



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s for Me ~ An Easter to Remember

Easter-Candy-Peeps-EggsGrowing up I was like any other kid, I loved Holidays! Of course, Christmas was my favorite, but Easter came in at a very close second. It didn’t matter that my older sister had spoiled the idea of Santa and the Easter Bunny when I was 4 years old, I still loved all the decorations, the food, the shopping and the anticipation of receiving a gift, even if it was from my parents.


For some reason, when I was about 7 years old, I loved wolves. I used to sit in my room and draw pictures of them. My most frequently drawn scene was of a large apple tree with the limbs weighted down with big red apples. The ground had bright green grass and the sky was a perfect blue with a large yellow sun. Next to the tree was a wolf standing upright like a man. He had a long snout and mouth with long sharp teeth. He always had an apple in his hand. It’s funny how I can still envision the picture even after several decades have passed. Because of my obsession with them, I desperately wanted a stuffed wolf for Easter. Not a bunny, or a chicken or a lamb. A wolf with big teeth!

I will never forget the look on my parents’ faces when I informed them of my choice. My dad chuckled but my mother started giving me a lecture about how hard it would be to find a stuffed wolf, and this was no kind of animal for a little girl. I think I blocked out the sound of her voice at this point as I knew these kinds of lectures could go on forever.

Park Ave Chirstian Church Drive in Church

We had a family tradition of going to church on the Thursday night before Easter. Then on Friday after school, we would color hard-boiled eggs and put them in last year’s basket. On Saturday evening we would place the baskets outside for the “Easter Bunny” to hide them for us. Then on Sunday morning, we would rise before the sun came up and go to church for the sunrise service. We attended a church that had a drive-in church (like at the movies) in the side parking lot. So, we would pull up to one of the poles with a speaker, put it on the window, sing a few songs and listen to the sermon. Then we would drive home to search for eggs and have a big breakfast.

This year I had been sent home from school on the Wednesday before Easter. I was running a fever and the nurse insisted my mother take me to the doctors. Reluctantly, she took me straight to the doctor’s office. It came as a surprise that I had the Chicken Pox! The doctor gave us some Benadryl to help with the itching and some calamine lotion to put on the never-ending bumps that kept popping up. My mother was convinced that I had purposely caught them because I wanted to ruin Easter for everyone.

Obviously, we couldn’t attend church that weekend. In those days it was believed that you should not be exposed to sunlight if you had Chicken Pox because you could go blind. My mother put a thick blanket over the windows in my bedroom and I was stuck in there for what seemed like an eternity. When Easter morning came my dad came into the room and told me to be quiet and follow him. He took me outside to his truck and he reached in and pulled out a small stuffed wolf with big teeth! I was so happy I cried. He snuck me back inside and told me not to tell my mother or sister, it was our secret.

me 1962 this one

About an hour later my sister came in and said that I could come out to see what the Easter Bunny had brought. I had a basket of candy and a large pink rabbit waiting for me in the dining room. I was able to stay in the living room most of the day and eat lunch with the family. I talked my dad into letting me go outside for a couple of minutes so he could take a picture of me with my rabbit. I look at the photo today and see a little girl in her pajamas holding a big rabbit on her shoulders with a smile on her face thinking of the small stuffed wolf she had hidden under her mattress!



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s For Me ~ My Earliest Memory

Family HistoryAs Genealogist’s we place our focus on the past. We search for that elusive ancestor or record that will give proof of our lineage. Hours, days, months, years go by and we still press forward with hope and anticipation. This is our passion! Those outside the Genealogy community have no idea the elation we feel when we find those who have made us who we are today.

We spend so much time with the past that we sometimes forget to think of those who will remain after we are gone. We can tell our children stories about our lives. We can share our findings of our ancestors with them. But will they really remember all we have said?

The purpose of this blog is to document the stories of my life. When I am gone my children, grandchildren and great-grandchild will have the memories of my life written by me. I am excited to begin this journey.

Growing up it was made very clear that my mother did not like me. Her life was all aboutdads truck my older sister, Mary. I, however, was always an after-thought. I remember the first time I realized how she felt. I was 4 years old and my family was living in Tucson AZ. My mothers’ brother, wife and 5 children came from Missouri for a visit.  All of us kids were playing in the yard, the 3 older boys were fighting and we 4 girls were playing in the back of my dad’s 1953 powder blue Ford pick-up truck.

me & le aged 4&8 2My sister was 8 years old and she weighed over 120 pounds! She had a lot of trouble getting into the back of the truck. My dad had made a gravel driveway to park in and it was edged with 2 x 6 boards and she stood on these to boost herself up onto the tailgate. We were playing tag and running around the bed of the truck. We were laughing and having a great time. That is everyone except Mary. Within a few minutes, she was tired and out of breath. My cousins and I kept playing and Mary got mad because the girls weren’t paying attention to her.  She jumped in front of me, stopping me from running by. Then she picked me up and she threw me over the side of the truck. I fell directly on one of those 2 x 6’s. I let out a scream and my cousins jumped off the tailgate and ran to get my parents.

My dad rushed and picked me up taking me directly into the house. I had broken my right arm in the fall. My wrist bone was protruding through the flesh. My aunt ran to get a towel and wrapped my arm and my uncle told my dad he would drive us to the emergency room. My mother was irritated because I had interrupted their good time. When she was told what my sister did she asked me, what I did to upset her enough to do that?

I ended up with 3 broken bones in the arm and it took over 8 weeks to heal. I was so little that a regular red handkerchief was used for a sling. I can still picture the saw the doctor used to cut off the cast. It was quite an ordeal. My sister never got in trouble for what she did. This incident opened the door for my sister to abuse me both physically and verbally for the rest of her life.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Hints on How to Gather Information at That Holiday Family Get Together!

christmasWe have all experienced it. You arrive at a Holiday dinner only to see Cousin Ray, the braggart, has already arrived. You know that for the next few days you will be hearing him brag about his woodworking and listening to him describe in long detail the process of creating his latest masterpiece. Your first inclination is to turn and run but you know you can’t do that. So you decide that you will make every effort to avoid Cousin Ray.

Holiday get togethers are a time to celebrate family and friends and to share with one another. Happy ThanksgivingHowever when one person monopolizes the conversations it can make the other people want to avoid them altogether. Let’s be honest, most people have skipped a party or dinner because they found out that someone who can only talk about their latest scrapbooking or [insert hobby/cause here] project was going to be there.

No braggingNow for some hard truth, some of us Genealogists are guilty of the same mind numbing talking that we try to avoid. We can get so excited over our recent discoveries that we want to be sure that everyone hears the fantastic news. We also want to take this opportune time to ask questions of those present. Who knows when you many see them again or get a chance to possibly fill in some blanks in our trees? Here are some suggestions that may help you to not become the person everyone wants to avoid.

  • If you know who is going to attend the upcoming party or get-together, write a short letter explaining that you are working on the Family Genealogy and that you would like to ask them some questions. Tell them to help avoid long, possibly boring conversations that they may not be interested in, you would like them to consider these few questions and if they could, they can bring the answers with them. Mail or email this to them a couple of weeks in advance. If you don’t know who will be there or if you don’t have contact information for some of the guests, you can take a few extra letters and ask them to fill it out and mail it to you. You can even include a self addressed stamped envelope to make it easy for them!
  • You can also ask at this time if they have any old photos or documents that they would be willing to share with you. Let them know that you will be either scanning them or taking pictures of them at the get together so they will not have to give them to you.
  • Ask them if they know any stories about their ancestors and see if they would either write them down for you and bring clip-art-interviewing-them along or maybe they would be willing to tell them to you. If possible bring a tape recorder so you can record the tales and then transcribe them later.
  • Do some research and ask specific questions about that side of the family that you need help with. Something like, was Uncle Joe Jones ever married? If so, do you know his wife’s name? Did they have children?
  • Be sure to add somewhere in the correspondence that you have found some exciting information about the Familys’ History and you look forward to adding more to it. Hopefully a little enticement will peak their interest in what you are doing.


  • I helped a friend do all of the above before a family event and they all worked very well. She gathered a lot of new information, stories and even a few photos. One thing I helped her with was a poster board display. I had her print out the family tree associated with those who were attending. I had her post a few interesting documents and photos on it and one of the amazing stories that she had found about a Great Grandfather. She included her name at the bottom of the poster so people would know who to talk to. When she arrived at the event she placed it in a place where people could easily view it. Because she wasn’t intrusive she actually had several relatives come up to her wanting to know more and telling her stories. Some even promised to email some photos and documents to her. She was ecstatic as one bit of information she received broke down one of her brick walls!

To those of us who love Genealogy it is so easy to talk about it and we want to share our enthusiasm with others. Sometimes this becomes a hindrance instead of a help. By coming up with alternative ways to engage someone in our passion we can “hook” them without making their eyes glaze over in boredom.

I am positive that if you think about it, you can come up with plenty of ways to gather information this Holiday season without alienating your family. Good luck!

If you think of any other ways to do this please let me know, I would love to hear your ideas!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.