Thursday, December 31, 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
  • I 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 information I was seeking, like family stories and photographs.

I began with the Donaldson branch.  My mom had only met a couple of her Donaldson cousins, since she was only seven when her father died and none of her cousins lived in this area.  I did some research and found the name and address of a gentleman whom I believed to one of my mom's cousins.  In return, a received a photocopy of a picture of my Donaldson great-grandparents and addresses of two other relatives.  I contacted these two individuals and heard back from another of my mom's cousins.  I have received a lot of information from this very kind and helpful lady.  She provided an address of another Donaldson family researcher who is (I think) my second cousin, once removed.  This lady has also been quite helpful.  It has been a pleasure getting to know some of my Donaldson relatives.

I have also gotten to know some of my Dudley relatives.  First, I met a third cousin, connecting through  We have exchanged information and he also put me in touch with a lady who is my second cousin, once removed.  I have also been able to exchange information with her and have been able to provide several photos of her great-grandfather, Charles Dudley, who must have loved to have his picture taken!   I am also hoping to receive information from another Dudley connection in the near future.  I am grateful for the opportunity to have met my Dudley relatives.

I haven't had quite as much success with my paternal lines.  I attempted to contact one of my dad's Ballein cousins with no response.  I heard from a very distant Ballein relative, but at this point we don't have anything to share with each other.  If any Balleins, specifically those with a Brown County, Ohio connection, happen to read this, please contact me by posting a comment to this blog.

My goal this year is to try to find some distant Davis cousins.  I made a connection in the Ogden branch, though.  Unexpectedly, I received a letter from a lady researching the Ogden family and asking if I had any photographs I could share.  She found my name and address on a pedigree chart I sent to the Brown County, Ohio Genealogy Society in the early 1990s!  I was able to exchange information with her.  She was kind enough to send me school pictures of my grandfather, James Quincy Davis.

Thanks to everyone who has been willing to share family information with me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

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 that she had seen someone who looked like me at any other spot on earth, including my other grandparents' hometowns, I would have probably been briefly interested and then have forgotten about it. But what are the chances that she would see someone who looked like me in the hometown of the family member I resemble most?

My paternal grandmother, Jennie Esther Ballein, was born July 17, 1901 near Sardinia Ohio. Her father was Noah Hite Ballein and her mother was Dora Elma Wardlow. Hite Ballein's father was Peter Ballein and his mother was Margaret Kincaid. Elma's father was John Reese Wardlow and Lulu Dunn.

Perhaps this mystery lady has Ballein, Wardlow, Kincaid, or Dunn blood coursing through her veins. I would love to know. Grandma is pictured below. If this resembles someone you know, please post a comment on this blog.