Showing posts from 2009

My Genealogy Year in Review

After a few years of limited interest in what I consider my primary hobby, I became active and interested in genealogy again in 2009.  My accomplishments:
I started putting my family tree on Ancestry.comI have made a lot of progress in organizing the family photographs and documents I have obtained over the years.I have met some distant and not-so-distant relatives with whom I have been able to exchange information.Sharing information with my heretofore unknown relatives has been rewarding.  I had shied away from sharing my research with others because of a bad experience in the past when I shared a great deal of information with a distant cousin who didn't as much as acknowledge receiving it.

However, I had reached the point in my research where having only a few facts and maybe a photo or two wasn't enough.  I wanted to know more about the personalities of the people I have been researching for years.  To do this, I needed to network with people who had the type of informatio…

St. Mary's Church in Arnheim, Ohio

Let me begin by saying that this blog post is not about St. Mary's church in Arnheim, Ohio. I was hoping that this title would catch the eye of someone who attends St. Mary's and might be able to offer assistance because of the strange thing that happened to me today.

At work, I spoke to a woman in another department about a couple of business matters. She then said that her next question had nothing to do with work. Although I have known this woman for a number of years, she and I have never had a personal conversation and I have never told her about my family or interest in genealogy.
She asked if I had any relatives in the Sardinia, Ohio area. I told her I might, because my grandmother was from the Sardinia area. She explained that she has a vacation home in the Sardinia area and visited over the weekend. When she visits, she attends services at St. Mary's church and she said there is a woman who attends St. Mary's and looks exactly like me.
Now, if she had mentioned t…

School Pictures

A couple of months ago, I received a letter from a distant relative, who found a family tree chart I sent to the Brown County, Ohio Genealogical Society over 15 years ago. We are both researching the Ogden family of Brown County. My paternal grandfather, James Quincy Davis, was the son of James Ulysses Davis and his wife, Rosa Ogden.

A few weeks ago, my distant relative was kind enough to send me copies of grandpa's school pictures from 1916-17 and 1917-18. He attended the Shiloh School, a one-room schoolhouse in Brown County. He would have been 10 to 12 years of age in these pictures. Even though one of the pictures contains a caption indicating which child he is, I didn't think it was him. I have a picture of him when he was around 14 and I know what he looked like. Also, my mom looked at him and was doubtful because he didn't have the "Davis ears" (large and protruding). I was disappointed.

Then, last week a friend allowed me to borrow his copy of the g…

The Lost Children

One family heirloom in my possession is "Detsie's cup." I don't know anything about this cup, except that it supposedly belonged to DetsieBallein (pictured at right), the eldest child of Elma and HiteBallein and the sister of my paternal grandmother, Jennie Esther Ballein. It's just a small metal cup with a little handle and some engraving on it. Perhaps it was a gift from first time parents to their little girl. Detsie was born January 10, 1897 and died on August 27, 1899. It occurs to me for the first time that I don't even know where Detsie is buried. A little lost life; one of many in the days before advances in medicine. And, sadly, a life often forgotten in the course of genealogical research.
My maternal grandparents, Mary and Edd Donaldson, also lost two children. Ernest Mitchell Donaldson, known as Mitchell, was born in 1922 and died as an infant on January 8, 1923 from pneumonia. I don't believe I have ever seen a picture of Mitchell. Everett Du…

An Impassioned Plea!

I'm frustrated and I need help. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I have been searching for the parents of my great-great grandparents, Thomas Dudley and Iva Lettitia Tankersley Dudley for several years. I have chosen to pursue Lettitia's parents, guessing that researching a less common surname might make my odds better. And, if I can find Lettitia's parents' names, maybe it will make it easier to find Thomas' parents. Although I continue my own research, I am also hoping that someone out there will someday read this blog post and contact me!

Iva Lettitia Tankersley was born around 1811 in Virginia. She married Thomas Dudley on 11/17/1830 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Marriages of Pittsylvania County, Virginia 1806 - 1830 by K. B. Williams lists her name as "Malitia Tankersly." The marriage bond was posted by Nicholas Dillard, a teacher in Pittsylvania County. Soon after their marriage, Lettitia and Thomas moved to Ohio, settling in Clark Townshi…


"We have a relative named Lulu? Sweet!" These were the words of my niece when I mentioned that my blog post would be on my great-great-grandmother, Lulu Dunn Wardlow.

I first learned of Lulu when I found her obituary in my grandmother's Bible. I asked my dad if he knew her. He said he did and that "she was a nice old lady." He couldn't tell me much more, except that he remembered his grandmother's family discussing Lulu's walking a half mile across a field to her daughter's home . . . at the age of 90.
Lulu Dunn was born to Robert and Elmina Shaw Dunn on August 20, 1854 in Sardinia, Ohio. She married John Reese Wardlow on August 3, 1873. They had nine children, the second of whom was my great-grandmother, Dora Elma Wardlow. John Wardlow was a farmer.
The first picture I saw of Lulu was the one below, of a family gathering, probably in the early to mid-1930s. Lulu is second from the left in the back row. I had a hard time picturing this unassuming …

A Cemetery Scare

In honor of Halloween, in this post I will share a frightening experience I had at Troutwine Cemetery in Lynchburg, Ohio.

Several of my Dudley family members are buried at Troutwine. My great-grandparents, Jesse (1847-1925) and Mary Shaper Dudley (1861-1947) are buried there. Jesse's sister, Jane Dudley Setty (1845-1901) is buried at Troutwine. Two of Jesse's and Mary's sons, Lewis (1880-1906) and Thomas (1890-1940), are buried there was well. My uncles Everett (1918-1924) and Mitchell Donaldson (1922-1923) are also buried at Troutwine Cemetery.

The day we visited, the cemetery was sun-drenched. It was a bright day and there weren't any trees in the cemetery to obstruct the sunlight. There were some wooded areas surrounding the cemetery. The grounds were well-maintained, not overgrown and neglected. As cemeteries go, this was a pleasant place.

Or so I thought. I was exploring the cemetery and walked toward a section that bordered a slightly wooded area. I was r…

The Quaker Lambs

A couple of years after beginning my family history research, I decided it was time to compile my findings. At that point, I was somewhat perplexed over the Lamb family. Other than the basic information I found on censuses, I didn't know much about them.

My grandfather, Eddie Earl Donaldson, was the son of Mary Cordelia (Molly) Lamb. Molly was the daughter of Nathan and Anna Lamb. When I first compiled my research, I didn't know Nathan and Anna's parents' names, Anna's maiden name, or when they died.

One day I was perusing Wabash County, Indiana cemetery records when I found an entry for a Nathan Lamb at the Friends Cemetery. Initially, I thought it might have been a different Nathan Lamb or that he might have been buried in a Quaker cemetery even though he hadn't been Quaker. After all, my mom had never heard anything about Quakers in the family.

I decided to pursue the possibility that the Lambs were Quakers, first looking in William Wade Hinshaw's Encyclope…

Wardlow Cemetery

On Memorial Day weekend 2003, my family travelled to Washington Township, Brown County, Ohio to visit the Wardlow Cemetery. My dad was quite weak by that time, due to the disease that would take his life less than three months later. We brought a lawn chair for him to sit in because he was so weak and standing was painful for him. However, he struggled to his feet and managed to walk around the cemetery with my eight-year-old niece and me to visit the grave sites of five generations of our family.

We walked to the rear of the cemetery to the oldest gravestone, which belongs to Samuel Wardlaw. Samuel and his wife, Elizabeth Nesbitt Wardlaw, moved from Virginia to Ohio with his parents Robert and Janet Wardlaw, and his brothers and sisters and their spouses. They were among the first settlers in this area and once owned the land where the cemetery is located. Samuel died in 1848. A foot stone marked EW was the only marker of Elizabeth's grave.

Samuel and Elizabeth's son, Levi, and…

Russell Shaw

I was reminded on Monday's news that the Brown County fair is this week. This, of course, made me think of my 5X great-grandfather, Russell Shaw. The first Brown County fair was held in Russellville, the town he founded, and reportedly his onions were prize winners at that first fair in 1850.

Russell Shaw was born April 19, 1781 in Rensselaer County, New York to Susannah and Anthony Shaw IV. Russell married Johanna Reynolds on February 16, 1800. Russell and Johanna and their children, Sylvester and Susan, arrived in what is now Brown County, Ohio in 1802. After their arrival in Brown County, Russell and Johanna added to their family.

In 1816, Russell Shaw purchased 200 acres of land at what is now State Routes 62 and 125 in Jackson Township, Brown County, Ohio. He established the town of Russellville and sold 36 lots of land. He donated the land for the public square and cemetery. At the first meeting of an elected Russellville town council in 1854, Russell Shaw was chosen…

One Woman's Junk Is Another Woman's Treasure

I am in the process of organizing the notes, pictures, and memorabilia I have compiled from years of researching my family tree. This afternoon, I looked through one of my Grandma Donaldson's scrapbooks, which contains greeting cards she received from the late 1960s to her death in September 1976. Like her mother, Mary Shaper Dudley, she saved things that, to some people, might seem meaningless and needed to be disposed of. However, these "meaningless" remnants give us an important glimpse at their lives and what was important to them.

My great-grandmother kept hundreds of mementos of her children. She had dozens of pictures of her eldest son, Charlie, including one in front of the Packard factory in Detroit, where he was employed. She kept the funeral card and newspaper clippings from Lew's death in 1906, when he was struck by a train. She saved postcards from her son Frank telling about his travels around the country, a photo of Ab in his army uniform with his wife …

The Travelling Man

My maternal grandfather, Eddie Earl Donaldson, was born to David Scott and Mary Cordelia Lamb Donaldson in Elwood, Indiana on May 30, 1897.

My grandmother, Mary Jane Dudley Donaldson, said that while she was married to him, she never lived in one place for too long. By 1910, his family had moved to Missouri and they then moved on to Oklahoma. We don't know if he actually moved to Oklahoma with them. By 1915, he was living and working in Cincinnati, Ohio. We aren't sure why he chose to move to Ohio. One of my grandmother's brothers, Charlie, worked with my grandfather. Charlie brought him home for a visit and introduced him to my grandmother. They were married December 7, 1915.

Throughout their marriage, my grandparents lived in numerous locations in the Cincinnati area and Clinton and Highland Counties, Ohio. They also lived briefly in Oklahoma, where his World War I draft registration was completed.

Throughout their marriage, my grandparents often lived apart, my grandmoth…

The Many Loves of James Quincy Davis

My paternal grandfather, James Quincy Davis, was born July 11, 1906 in Brown County, Ohio to James Ulysses and Rosa Ogden Davis.

Grandpa was married more than anyone else I have personally known - five times. He was first married at 20 years of age. The family story is that he divorced his first wife because she liked to play cards too much. I later learned that the young lady was only a teenager when they were married. So, I guess grandpa was married to a teenage card sharp.

Grandpa next married my grandmother, Jennie Esther Ballein. The story goes that they met at a store in Eastwood in Brown County, Ohio. There was a story in the Cincinnati Post several years ago about Freeman's store in Eastwood which, back in the day, was a popular spot for socializing. It is possible they met at Freeman's. My grandmother was visiting the store with her sister Freda and brother Oscar. My grandparents were married on grandpa's 25th birthday, July 11, 1931. They had two children, my dad R…

Today's Special Guest Blogger . . . My Mom

My mom wrote the following memories of her mother, Mary Jane Dudley Donaldson:

My Mom was a strong woman; she had to be. Although she was only about 5’4” and weighed around 115 pounds, she was wiry and energetic. When I was seven years old, my Dad, Eddie Earl Donaldson, died, leaving my mother with a year-old baby and three other children aged fifteen and under. This was during and shortly after World War II.

When I was nine, Mom sold the Dodge car Dad had left (he had no insurance, only the car) and put the $50 she got from the sale on a house in Afton, Ohio. There was a house, a dilapidated garage/shed, an outhouse and a chicken coop. Mom planted a half-acre garden (by hand and a hand-pushed plow) and bought a few chickens and a couple of roosters. She canned the vegetables she grew, as well as blackberries we would pick in the summer. Dandelions were Mom’s friends. She would pick the greens and either cook them or wilt them with hot vinegar, sugar and bacon grease and chopped up hard…

Jennie Esther Ballein Davis

Jennie Esther Ballein Davis was my paternal grandmother. She died when I was a baby, so I don't remember her. Her friend, Reverend Ruby Blanchard performed her funeral and was kind enough to provide a copy of her funeral service to my family several years ago: Esther Ballein was born July 17, 1901, the second child in a family of five, to Elma Wardlow Ballein and Noah Hite Ballein at Sardinia, Ohio and departed this life February 9, 1965 at Cincinnati, Ohio. She was always a dutiful, reliable, respectful child - the joy of her parents' heart.

She was united in marriage with James Quincy Davis on July 11, 1931. To this union were born two children.

Esther and her husband were converted in the same service at the Fairfax Church of the Nazarene. They joined the church and were faithful members until September of 1957. However, at this time she and her good husband felt led by God to begin a new work in the Milford area which in a short time led to the organizing of a church. This ch…

The Davis Curse

Researching my Davis ancestry has been full of brick walls. The Davis surname is quite common, which can always make research difficult. The Davises haven't, to my knowledge, been rich, powerful, criminals, or officeholders, so no books have been written about them. If there are family pictures, documents, or bibles, I don't have them and don't know who does.

Samuel Davis, my 3X great-grandfather, is the first Davis ancestor in my family tree. According to census records, he was born around 1782 in Ireland. I don't know who his parents were. I don't know how or when he arrived in the United States. He settled in Brown County, Ohio, but not early enough to be mentioned in any of the Brown County histories. He and his wife (I'm not 100% sure who she was) had a family. I know their names, but not much more. I'm not even sure when Samuel died.

Isaac Davis, my 2X great-grandfather, was born around 1827 in Ohio, possibly in South Lebanon in Warren County, but I hav…

Who Is Lucy Herr and Why Is She Living with My Great-Grandfather?

Years ago when I began researching my family history, I asked my Uncle Edward about my great-grandparents, David Scott Donaldson and Mary Cordelia Lamb. Among other things, he told me they didn't always get along and at one point lived miles away from each other.

According to the 1920 census, Mary was married and living in Chelsea, Oklahoma with some of her children, but not her husband. David was widowed and living in Oklahoma City with his "half-sister," Lucy D. Herr. Unless there is a long-lost family secret, David didn't have a half-sister.

From what I have been able to gather to date from censuses and her obituary, Lucy Deere was born in 1865 in Oregon to Mary and William Yates Deere. Her parents died when she was a child. She was a great-niece of John Deere of farm equipment fame. She was an artist, but also worked as a servant and a courthouse records researcher. She first married Don Alexander in Oregon and, after his death, Benjamin Herr in Oklahoma City. Acco…

Proceed with Caution!

When researching family history, I have learned the importance of finding primary sources for information. Although family trees prepared by others can be helpful in research, it is vital to verify the information through a primary source. Some examples from my own experience:
My great-great grandfather, John Shaper was born around 1836 and lived in Highland County, Ohio. I had been unable to determine when he had died, so I was quite excited to find that other researchers had discovered that he had died on 10/31/1917 in Highland County. At least one researcher had even provided the death certificate number. I ordered the death certificate and found that it was not my John Shaper, but a much younger person person by the same name. I have been trying to find the names of the parents of my great-great grandmother, Iva LettitiaTankersley Dudley (known as Lettitia) for several years. She was born in 1811 in Virginia. Some online family trees show that she was the daughter of William and El…

The Beginning

For several years I had wanted to begin researching my family history, but just never got around to it. One Sunday evening in the early 1990s, I pulled out my Grandma Davis' Bible. Although family births, marriages and deaths weren't recorded in this Bible, it contained notations of scriptures, poems that she wrote and likely intended to set to music she wrote, pictures, report cards, obituaries, and assorted other items that reflected her life.

My grandmother was born Jennie Esther Ballein on July 17, 1901 near Sardinia in Brown County, Ohio. There is a little booklet in the Bible with a handwritten notation, "In case I should die I want this Bible to go to Jennie Esther Ballein, White Oak, Brown Co., Ohio, and no one else." The Bible was originally owned by one of her aunts.

Included in the Bible was an obituary for Lulu Dunn Wardlow, my grandmother's grandmother and my dad's great-grandmother. I noticed that Lulu had died in 1945 and asked my dad if he knew …