52 Ancestors: #17 James Parks – a Memorial Day tribute

My 4x great grandfather, James Parks died from typhoid fever while he was serving in Co. H of the Ohio 159th infantry regiment during the Civil War. Since it’s Memorial Day (or at least it was when I started writing this), I thought this would be the perfect day to remember him.

James was born 29 May 1833 (1), and I believe he was the son of William and Jane Parks (2). On 6 Sep 1853 in Pike Township, Coshocton County, Ohio, he married Catherine J Crawford (3,8), and they made their home in Jackson Township in Muskingum County, Ohio (4).  They had six children:  Eliza Jane (b. 1854), John A (b. 1856), Sarah E (b. 1858), William Stevenson (b. 1860), Samuel A (b. 1862), and James R (b.1864). I’m descended from their daughter Eliza Jane Parks, who married Joseph Hamlin Conard.

On 2 May 1864, just a little over a week after his youngest son’s birth, James enlisted in Co. H of the Ohio 159th infantry regiment (5), a National Guard unit that was to serve for 100 days (6). His company mostly just performed guard duty for duration of their service – no combat (6). Nevertheless, James fell ill with typhoid fever and died on 18 Jul 1864 in a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland (7). This left Catherine a widow with six young children (all 10 years old or younger) to provide for and care for. As far as I can tell, he has gravestones in both West Carlisle Cemetery in Coshocton, Ohio with his wife (1) and in the Loudon National Park Cemetery in Baltimore Maryland (9).

Rest in peace, Grandpa James, and thank you for your service to our country!


(1) “James Parks“, findagrave.com

(2) United States Federal Census; Year: 1850; Census Place: Jackson, Muskingum,Ohio; Page: 325

This is the only James Parks in the 1850 census that lived in either Muskingum or Coshocton County (where James lived in 1860 and was married in 1853, respectively) that is the right age to be “my” James Parks, and in this 1850 census record, he is in the household of William and Jane Parks. I have not been able to locate any records that state who his parents are for sure.

(3) “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1614804), James Parks and Catherine Crawford, 06 Sep 1853; Coshocton County Marriage Records 1852-1859, vol. 1, image 82.

(4) United States Federal Census; Year: 1860; Census Place: Jackson, Muskingum, OhioPage: 507.

(5) Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.

(6) “159th Infantry Regiment Ohio”. Historical Data Systems, comp. American Civil War Regiments [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999.

(7) Ancestry.com. U.S., Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, 1861-1865 [database on-line], Ohio, N-R, p. 87/image 79, “James Parks” . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

 Original data:

Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, compiled 1861–1865. ARC ID: 656639. Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s–1917. Record Group 94. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

(8) Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War Veterans, ca. 1861 – ca. 1910, Ohio, Infantry, Regiment 159, Company H, James Parks (WC40755), p. 21 “Widow’s Army Pension”. NARA.

(9) “Pvt James Parks“, findagrave.com

52 Ancestors: #16 Henry Montgomery’s immigration

In my last post, I wrote about Henry & Mary Montgomery’s wedding and emigration from Virginia to Ohio. This time, I’m going to post a copy of Henry’s recollections of his family’s immigration from Ireland to America in the year 1803. This information comes an autobiographical letter her wrote to his son which was published in the book History of the descendants and connections of William Montgomery and James Somerville, who emigrated to America from Ireland, in the opening years of the 19th century” by Frank Montgomery, available for free on Google Books.

“Many of our relatives had emigrated to America. Ireland had been for many years in a state of war and internal commotion, but the great Irish rebellion of 1797-98 was now over. My father sold his little estate. On the 3rd of May, 1803, our whole family took shipping at Londonderry, a walled city in the north of Ireland.

After remaining a week in the harbor our ship sailed for America. Our voyage on the whole was very pleasant. Our noble vessel rose above the mountain waves. One calm morning we saw many sea monsters. The breath of the huge whales looked like so many smoke stacks. On the 4th of July, being Sabbath, it was announced by the sailors that land was ahead O! what rejoicing. In a short time we could see land with the naked eye. We slowly made our way up the Delaware river, and that evening cast anchor safely at New Castle, where they brought on board fresh water and bread. The next day we weighed anchor and sailed up to Wilmington. There we were very fortunate in getting a wagon which took us into Pennsylvania, and in a few days we all got safely to your Uncle James Somerville’s, who had crossed the ocean the year before. Two months after we landed mother [Margaret (Somerville) (Linn) Montgomery] died of consumption. She had suffered from this disease for some years. Your Aunt Mary Somerville [Margaret’s daughter from her first marriage] was with her till she died. She early taught her children to say, “Our Father who art in heaven.” She was buried in a cemetery a few miles east of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Not long after mother’s death cousin Samuel Linn came up to Lancaster in his two-horse wagon and moved us down to Augusta County, Virginia. We rented a small farm near Staunton, the county seat, and got along finely. We bought a team of horses and raised good crops. Grain always sold high.”

52 Ancestors: #15 Henry Montgomery – marriage and emigration to Ohio

In my last post, I shared a little bit about  Mary (Grimes) Montgomery, and this post will detail the story of her marriage to Henry Montgomery, and their emigration from Virginia to Ohio – most of Henry’s family came along too. This information comes from the book History of the descendants and connections of William Montgomery and James Somerville, who emigrated to America from Ireland, in the opening years of the 19th century” by Frank Montgomery, available for free on Google Books. All quotes below come from this book.

ImageHenry Montgomery was born in 1790 in County Tyrone, Ireland, the son of William Montgomery and Margaret Somerville. In 1803, he and his family immigrated to America and settled in Staunton, Virginia. “In 1810, emigration to Ohio being very popular in Virginia, and a number of friends and relatives having gone, the Montgomery family concluded to ‘go West.’ ” On the way to Ohio, Henry married Mary Grimes, whose family lived in or near Greenbrier County (then in Virginia, now in West Virginia). Henry’s brother Samuel was a circuit preacher in the Methodist church and had come to know the Grimes family on his circuit, and through Samuel, Henry had become acquainted with the family as well. In fact, Samuel, Henry, and their brother William all three married sisters from the Grimes family.


Henry started out on horseback from Staunton a few weeks ahead of the rest of the family and their wagons, and made his way to the Grimes family home, where he and Mary were married on September 27, 1810. “The next day they started on their wedding tour, taking all her effects with them on horseback, to meet the wagons on the emigrant road. Their bedding, cooking utensils, etc., was carried on pack saddles. Two of her brothers went along to help drive the four cows and take part of the horses back.” The family made their way across the Alleghenies and then crossed the Ohio River at Marietta. 


After crossing the Ohio River, they followed the Muskingum River to Zanesville and from there, followed the Licking River up to Newark. They had planned to settle north of Newark, near where Utica is, since many people from near Staunton had settled there, including family friends like the Conards, Lees, and Edmonds. However, the North Fork of the Licking River was too high to cross at that time, on account of recent heavy rains, and they were told that corn was scarce in that area, and that folks from there had to come south to the Bowling Green area to buy corn. So they settled near Bowling Green instead.

52 Ancestors: #14 Mary (Grimes) Montgomery’s testimony

I just discovered a great source (with lots of pictures!) for the Montgomery line of my family tree, which I haven’t spent much time exploring yet. This new source is an old book, available for free on Google books, called “History of the descendants and connections of William Montgomery and James Somerville, who emigrated to America from Ireland, in the opening years of the 19th century” by Frank Montgomery, 1897. There’s so much in this book that I want to go through carefully, but one of my favorite things I’ve found so far is my 5x great grandmother’s (Mary (Grimes) Montgomery) testimony of her Christian faith, along with her photograph. Since my own faith is an important part of my life, I enjoy finding things like this that show that an ancestor too found faith in God to be an important and meaningful part of their life.

Mary (Grimes) Montgomery

Mary (Grimes) Montgomery

Mary Grimes was born in 1784 in Bath County, Virginia. She married Henry Montgomery in 1810, and then they moved to Licking County, Ohio, where she spent the rest of her life until her death on 14 Oct 1865.

Here is Mary’s testimony (from p. 33ff of the book listed above), which is said to be “her own language”:

 “When I was quite young my parents moved to Greenbrier, now Pocahontas County, West Virginia, which was then infested by bands of Indians who burned buildings, drove away stock and even killed many of the settlers. My oldest brother, Arthur, was a soldier in the Indian wars, and took part in the great battle at Poing Pleasant, at the mouth of the Kanawha river.

“Among the first ministers of the gospel in that country was that man of God, Rev. James Ward. He often rested a few days at my father’s house. Here he formed his first class, which was composed of myself and two other women. I always called him my father in the gospel. In the year 1803 [when she was about 19], at a camp-meeting, I gave my heart God and my hand to the church. Soon after my conversion, while reading Mr. Wesley’s sermon on ‘Sin in a Believer,’ I greatly desired a deeper work of grace. I sought it night and day, and while at another camp-meeting experienced the blessing of perfect love.”

This testimony seems to be an excerpt of an obituary, which goes on to say that Mary’s funeral procession to Hanover cemetery “was the largest ever witnessed in that part of the country.”

52 Ancestors: #13 Marble W. Bean – a terrible name and a tragic death

Marble Bean is not one of my direct ancestors – he’s my 1st cousin 4x removed. But I came across his name when I was researching his mother, who is a sister of one of my direct ancestors, and was intrigued by the name. Did these people really name their child Marble Bean – I’m immediately imagining a bean made out of marble, and today, I’m pretty sure this would end in merciless teasing on the playground for the poor boy. I can only hope that his middle initial W didn’t stand for White – I haven’t been able to find his middle name yet. Anyways, as I dug around a little bit to find out more about this boy with a strange name, I uncovered a tragic ending to his much-too-short life.

Despite his unfortunate name, Marble Bean’s life seems to have started out well enough – he was born in 1870 in Licking County, Ohio, the oldest (and only?) child of Dr. Homer Bean and Lucretia Jane (Bailey) Bean. On 9 Jan 1895, he married Bertha Carnes, and they soon had two children – Homer Bean, b. 22 Nov 1895, and Iris Martha Bean, b. 30 Aug 1898.

At this point in his life, Marble was working as a brakeman on the B & O Railroad (1) – by all accounts an exciting but extremely dangerous job.

Iron wheels, located atop cars, were connected to a manual braking system by a long metal rod. The brakemen, usually two to a train, would ride on top of the car. On a whistle signal from the engineer, the brakemen, one at the front of the train and one at the rear of the train, would begin turning the iron wheels to engage the braskes. When one car was completed, the brakeman would jump the thirty inches or so to the next car and repeat the operation to apply the brakes on that car. The brakemen would work towards each other until all cars had their brakes applied…In good weather, the brakemen enjoyed riding on top of the cars and viewing the scenery. However, they had to ride up there in all kinds of weather – in rain, sleet, snow and ice, as well as good weather. Jumping from one car to the next at night or in freezing weather could be very dangerous, not to mention the fact that the cars were rocking from side to side. 
                   “Railroad Job descriptions“, NEGenWebProject

This job, in addition to a number of other dangerous jobs on trains, resulted in the number of employees killed or injured over the eight years prior to 1893 being equal to the number of people employed by the railroad in a single year (2). However, at this point in history, there was no need for railroads to even be using this dangerous type of brake – in 1868, George Westinghouse had invented a safer “straight air brake” that the engineer could apply himself to all of the cars from the locomotive, and in 1873, Westinghouse introduced an even safer automatic air brake (3).

In 1893, Congress passed the Safety Appliance Act which required that by 1 Jan 1898 (later pushed to 1 Aug 1900 as a result of lobbying by railroads) all trains have air brake systems equipped on enough cars that the engineer could control the speed without needing brakemen to use hand brakes (3).

If B&O had installed these safer brakes on all of its cars by the original deadline, there would have been no need for brakemen in 1899. Marble would have been out of a job, but his life would probably not have been cut so short. 

Unfortunately, B&O had apparently not installed air brakes on all of their trains since Marble was working as a brakeman in early 1899. Then, around 4am on February 13, 1899, Marble was working on the second section of train 97 when he hit his head on the roof of a tunnel near Bellaire, which knocked him off the train. He died later that morning, leaving a young widow and two young children.

Newark Daily Advocate articles

Newark Daily Advocate articles about Marble W. Bean’s death



(1) “Railroad Notes”. 4 Jan 1899. Newark Daily Advocate. Newark, Ohio. 
(“Baltimore and Ohio brakemen…M.W. Bean…have been reported on the sick list.”)

(2) “Railroad Safety Appliance Standards, Miscellaneous Revisions; A Proposed Rule by the Federal Railroad Administration on 07/02/2010″. Federal Register, The Daily Journal of the United States Government. 

(3) Hutchinson, August. 9 Jul 2012. “A Dangerous Ride – Installment One”. From the B&O Railroad Museum. 

52 Ancestors: #12 Daniel Halstead

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a potential breakthrough on the parents of my 4x great grandma, Mary Jane Halstead. I’ve found good evidence that her parents are Daniel and Olive Halstead who lived in Brutus, Cayuga County, New York at the time of the 1855 New York census. At the end of that post, my plan was to:

  1. Do more research on all of the Halsteads in this 1855 NY census record – parents Daniel and Olive Halstead, four sisters (Harriet, Catherine, Eliza, and Emila) and H.A. Fuller (who I believe to be Mary Jane’s daughter Harriet and who is listed as Daniel and Olive Halstead’s granddaughter).
  2. Try to find Olive Fuller and David Halstead after Mary Jane’s death around 1851 and before Olive’s marriage in 1866.
  3. Find an exact death date for Alva Fuller, Mary Jane’s husband.
  4. Find death records/burial information for Mary Jane and Alva.

I’ve been fairly successful with the first goal, completely unsuccessful with #2 & #4, and haven’t been able to make any progress on #3 (last time I had narrowed it down to sometime between 1867 and 1870).  I’m spoiled in that most of my ancestors have lived in Ohio or West Virginia for the last 150-200 years, and both states have a lot records available freely/on ancestry.com from pretty early on. Unfortunately, it seems like New York did not regularly keep birth/marriage/death records until closer to 1900, and even those that exist are mostly not indexed and/or easily available (especially for a poor grad student). So I have to be a little more creative in finding the information I’m looking for, I guess! So in today’s post, I’ll write about the information I’ve found about Daniel and Olive Halstead, who are potentially Mary Jane’s parents. After examining all this evidence, I still think that I have found Mary Jane’s parents, but unfortunately, I still don’t have any records showing it for certain. Census information At the end of the last post about Mary Jane, I had just found Daniel’s family in the 1855 New York census, shown again here. In that census recorc, Daniel and Olive were found with four daughters (Harriet, Catherine, Eliza, and Emila) and a granddaughter H.A. Fuller. Since then, I’ve found a lot more information on this family. 1855 NY census Halsteds I’ve found these census records, with the following household members listed each year:

  • 1850 US Census (Brutus, Cayuga County, New York): Daniel Halsted (55, farmer), Olive Halstead (51), Harriet Halstead (29), Caroline Halstead (26), Martha Halstead (17), William Halstead (12), Eliza Halstead (10), Emily Halstead (5), Jacob Hizer (17, farmer), Alvah K Halstead (20, farmer)
  • 1860 US Census (Sennett, Cayuga County, New York): Daniel Halsey (64, farmer), Olive Halsey (60), Harriett Halsey (40, tailoress), William Halsey (23, farmer), Emma Halsey (15), William Johnson (18, labourer)
  • 1870 US Census (Sennett, Cayuga County, New York): Daniel Halsted (73, gate keeper), Olive Halstead (70), William W Halstead (33, Salesman?), Cilia Halstead (26, Bording), Florence L Halstead (8), Frank Halstead (5), Carrie Halstead (10/12)
  • 1875 New York State Census (Sennett, Cayuga County, New York): William W Halstead (38, farm labour), Celia F Halstead (30), Florence L Halstead (13), Frank E Halstead (10), Carie C Halstead (2), Daniel Halstead, (77, widowed); Daniel listed as being born in Saratoga County, others all in Cayuga County
  • 1880 US Census (Sennett, Cayuga County, New York): William Halstead (42, farm labor), Celia Halstead (36), Florence Halstead (18, teaching school), Frank Halstead (15), Carrie Halstead (11), Ollie Halstead (7), Daniel Halstead (85, boarding)

These census records give the following information for Daniel:

  • Two more children: Martha and William (as well as William’s wife and children)
  • Another possible relative: Alvah K Halstead, living with Daniel’s family in 1850 – is this another son or a more distant relation?
  • A birthdate: between 1795 and 1798
  • A birth location: Saratoga County, New York
  • A probable range for his wife Olive’s death date: between 1870 and 1875 (she appeared in the 1870 US census but not the 1875 NY census)
  • A probable range for his own death date: between 1880 and 1900 (Daniel appeared in the 1880 US census but not the 1900 US census)

For the most part, none of these records indicate whether or not this is indeed Mary Jane’s family. However, there is a Harriet Halstead, whom I think could be Mary Jane’s sister, listed as living with both Mary Jane’s family and their parents in 1850. It’s not unheard of for a person to be listed in more than one place for a given census year, but it’s something to take note of and examine carefully. Unfortunately, since there are no death or marriage records (at least not that I currently have access to) from New York at that time, it’s hard to keep track of women from one census to the next if they’re not living with a known male relative. So did the Harriet Halstead that was living with Mary Jane’s family die or get married between 1850 and 1855, or are the Harriets listed in these two different households in 1850 really the same person, the one who continues to appear with father Daniel Halstead in 1855 and 1860? This question may never be answered satisfactorily, but for now, my best evidence  points to these two Harriets in the 1850 census being the same person. Besides these census records, I found burial information for Daniel and his wife Olive and some church records on the Cayuga County NYGenWeb Project website – they’ve got some great records there. Church Records I found several church records for Daniel Halsted from the Sennett Baptist Church. These showed Daniel, his wife Olive, and their daughter Harriett being “received by letter” at the Sennett Baptist Church in May 1868 (1), which fits with their census records which show that in 1850 they lived in Brutus but by 1860 they had moved to Sennett. Then Daniel and Olive were dismissed by letter in December 1865 and then again received by letter again on 9 May 1868 (2). A church record lists Daniel’s wife Olive as dying on 30 Nov 1870 (2), which also fits with her census records – she last appeared in the 1870 US census. The last church record for Daniel is a record of his death on 1 Mar 1885 at 90 years old (3). Burial Records I found these records for (I believe) Daniel and Olive in the Old Sennett Cemetery (4). The date of Olive’s death in pretty close to the church record for her death, both being at the very end of November in either 1870 or 1871. The writing on the gravestone is not very legible in the image, and without having seen the original cemetery records or church records, it’s quite possible that one of these dates is either wrongly transcribed in these online records and/or that one is the actual death date and the other is the date of the funeral/burial. It seems pretty clear to me that the Olive Flynn and Olive Halsted listed below are the same person – they have the exact same information in the cemetery record, and what are the chances that two women named Olive were born AND died on the same day, both married men named Daniel, and were both buried in the same cemetery? Plus Olive Flynn’s gravestone appears to be next to Daniel Halsted’s, and in the photos, their gravestones appear to have been made to match. So, these burial records don’t give much information about Daniel, but they do potentially give some more information about his wife Olive’s date of death and maiden name (or possibly a middle name or married name from a previous marriage).

FLYNN, Olive d. Nov. 27, 1871. Ae 72y, 6mo, 0da. Wife of Daniel Row 7 F1/F2 170
HALSTED, Daniel illegible Row 7 F1 173
HALSTED, Olive d. Nov. 27, 1871. Ae 72y, 6mo. Wife of Daniel Unable to locate grave. See list of unknowns.

 Two more records

I found a few more records that I believe belong to this Daniel Halsted, but there’s not enough information to be certain – 1820, 1830, and 1840 census records and an 1823 land assessment. The land assessment is for Springport, in Cayuga County. It lists a Daniel and James Halstead as owning land together.

The census record data is represented in the table below. Where a person is listed that I can’t account for with people I believe to be Daniel’s children, I put a letter with a question mark.

  Male Female
1840Springport under 5 10-14 40-49   under 5 5-9 15-19 20-20 40-49
William Alvah Daniel Eliza, A?, B? Martha Harriet, Catherine, C? Mary Jane Olive
1830 Springport under 5 15-19 20-29 30-39 under 5 5-9 10-14 30-39  
Alvah D? E? Daniel Catharine Harriet Mary Jane Olive
1820Scipio 16-25       under 10 16-25      
Daniel Mary Jane Olive

For the most part this seems to fit with my idea of this family, except that there are a few extra people that don’t seem to fit into the family. In the 1830 census, it seems reasonable to assume that the two unknown males are boarders or hired hands – they don’t appear in 1820 census and they’re old enough to be working and living on their own, apart from their own family. In the 1840 census, it’s a little less clear – there is one 15-19 year old female who not in the 1830 census, and two unknown girls under 5 years old. Is this a young, possibly widowed, housekeeper or relative and her two daughters? Or are the two young girls David and Olive’s daughters who died before 1850? It seems that they would be a little young to have been married by 1850. In the end, it seems like these records fit pretty well, and these census records show that there is a daughter that is the right age to be Mary Jane (she was born in 1818).

One other question this brings up: if this is Mary Jane’s family, where is her brother David? As you may remember from the last post about Mary Jane, the obituary for her daughter Olive said that when Mary Jane died around 1851, her daughter Olive went to live with her uncle David Halstead until she got married. In the table above, I assumed that the son born between 1825 and 1830 was Alvah Halstead who was in Daniel’s household in the 1850 census (but he was listed below the other children with another laborer, so it was unclear if he was really a son or just living with the family). But maybe Alvah wasn’t Daniel’s son, and the son in the 1820-1840 census records is David. Or maybe they’re the same person – a first and a middle name, or either the obituary or the 1850 census got the name wrong.


I’ve found a lot of information about Daniel’s life after marriage, but nothing about his life/family before marriage, although the James Halstead listed in the 1823 assessment could potentially be a brother or something. I haven’t looked into this any more though.

The question of whether or not Daniel is the father of my 4x great grandmother, Mary Jane Halstead, is still open, but for now, I think he is. Here’s a recap of the major evidence in favor of him being her father:

  • In the 1855 NY census, Daniel’s household includes a granddaughter, H.A. Fuller, who is the right age to be Mary Jane’s daughter Harriet A Fuller. This would be just a few years after Mary Jane’s death, and her husband Alva Fuller was not living with either of their daughters, so Harriet must have been living with someone else, probably another relative.
  • In Daniel’s 1820-1840 census records, a daughter is listed who is the right age to be Mary Jane – no other daughter this age appears in household in the 1850 census.

The biggest potential problem with this hypothesis is Mary Jane’s missing brother David who was listed in her daughter Olive’s obituary.

If you happen to have any more information about any of these people, especially anything that proves or disproves the relationship between Mary Jane and Daniel, please let me know!


(1) Baptist Church Members at Sennett 1867-1871, Cayuga County NYGenWeb.

(2) Baptist Church Members at Sennett 1863-1867, Cayuga County NYGenWeb.  

(3) Baptist Church Records at Sennett 1882-1887, Cayuga County NYGenWeb.

(4) Old Sennett Cemetery, Cayuga County NYGenWeb.

52 Ancestors: #11 Isabelle Minnie (Crotinger) Coffman

Crotinger family photo

Crotinger family photo: front row on right-Sarah (Crotinger) Clement; back row, 2nd from right: Isabelle (Crotinger) Coffman


Last weekend, I was home for my sister’s birthday, and decided to scan a bunch of our childhood pictures that were in a box. At the bottom of this box, underneath all the (seemingly) 100s of envelopes of photos from the 1990’s, was an envelope with copies of several photos of my older ancestors on my mom’s side. It was like finding buried treasure! I’d never seen any of these pictures before, and the Crotinger family photo posted above is the first picture I’ve seen of my 3x great grandmother Isabelle Minnie (Crotinger) Coffman with her (I assume) parents and siblings. Earlier, I posted a couple pictures of Isabelle with her husband, John Allen Coffman, and their children. In this picture, only Isabelle and one of her sisters were identified on the back. If you can identify any of the others, please let me know!

Here’s the information I have on her family, starting with her parents Peter and Susannah (McDonald) Crotinger. Do your own fact checking if you want to use this information – it’s mostly from my earlier days of genealogy research, and hasn’t been checked/cleaned up since.

PETER CROTINGER was born in May 1822 in Pennsylvania, USA. He died on 1 Jun 1914 inPutnam, Ohio, USA. He married Susannah McDonald, daughter of Francis McDonald and Margaret Craig on 12 Feb 1843 in Union City, Union, Ohio, USA. She was born on 9 Jul 1814 in Canada. She died on 10 Jul 1910 in Perry, Putnam, Ohio, USA.

Peter Crotinger and Susannah McDonald had the following children:

  1. ELISA CROTINGER was born about 1849 in Ohio, USA.
  2. JOSEPH CROTINGER was born on 7 Sep 1846 in Union, Ohio, USA. He died on 13 Jun 1928 in York, Fulton, Ohio, USA. He married Mary J Shumacher on 27 Sep 1873 in Putnam, Ohio, USA. She was born about 1853 in Virginia, USA.
  3. JOHN CROTINGER was born in May 1846 in Ohio, USA. He died on 21 Mar 1920 in Miami, Ohio, USA.
  4. SARAH CROTINGER was born on 31 Oct 1855 in Ohio, USA. She died on 21 Apr 1934 in Tiffin, Defiance, Ohio, USA. She married JOSEPH CLEMENT.
  5. ISABELLE MINNIE CROTINGER was born on 25 Jul 1852 in Union City, Darke, Ohio,USA. She died on 28 Feb 1939 in Piqua, Miami, Ohio, USA. She married John Allen Coffman, son of David Coffman and Anna Elizabeth Jackson in about 1878 in Ohio. He was born on 4 Nov 1847 in Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, USA. He died on 6 Apr 1937 in Piqua, Miami, Ohio, USA.
  6. MARGARET JANE CROTINGER was born on 4 Jan 1843 in Union, Ohio, USA. She died on 14 Jun 1919 in Piqua, Miami, Ohio, USA. She married (1) JOHN FAVORITE on 5 Nov 1865 in Allen, Ohio, USA. She married (2)  GEORGE W CLAWSON on 24 Dec 1867 in Shelby, Ohio, USA. He was born in 1833 in Ohio, USA. He died on 21 Nov 1869. She married (3) ISAAC NEWTON SHORT on 9 Oct 1870 in Shelby, Ohio, USA. He was born on 15 Jan 1836 in Ohio, USA. He died on 1 Jun 1911 in Newberry, Miami, Ohio, USA.
  7. PETER H CROTINGER was born on 18 Oct 1858 in Ohio, USA. He died on 29 Jul 1938 in Perry, Putnam, Ohio, USA. He married Rachel Page on 3 Jul 1884 in Putnam, Ohio, USA. She was born on 1 Oct 1858 in Ohio, USA. She died on 2 Feb 1943 in Allen, Ohio, USA.
  8. FRANCIS WALLACE CROTINGER was born on 1 Nov 1859 in Union, Ohio, USA. He died on 9 Dec 1950 in Union City, Darke, Ohio, USA. He married Mary Smith on 26 Mar 1891 in Putnam, Ohio, USA. She was born on 22 Apr 1866 in Hancock, Ohio, USA. She died on 14 Mar 1934 in Washington, Miami, Ohio, USA.
  9. SUSAN MATILDA CROTINGER was born about 1863 in Putnam, Ohio, USA. She died on 31 Oct 1952 in South Bend, St Joseph, Indiana, USA.

52 Ancestors: #10 Mary Jane Halstead – a brick wall breakthrough?

Mary Jane (Halstead) Bailey is my 4x great grandmother, and up until today, I hadn’t yet been able to find much information about her, including who her parents were, but I think I may have made a breakthrough finally. I’ll start with what I know, which mainly comes from records and newspaper items about her daughter, my 3x great grandmother, Olive Isadore (Fuller) Bailey. Important information about Mary Jane herself is in bold red text, and names of her family members that might hold clues to who her family is are in bold blue text.. Then I’ll continue on to lay out the information I’ve found that may reveal who her parents are. This post is going to be on the longer side, but if any of you readers make it through the whole thing, I’d appreciate hearing if you think I’m on the right track. Or if you happen to have any information about any of the people discussed here, I’d love to hear what you know.

Information from daughter Olive’s records

On Olive’s death certificate, her parents are listed as Alva Fuller and Mary J Halstead, both born in MIchigan. Olive herself is said to have been born on 29 September 1849 in New York state.

Olive (Fuller) Bailey's death certificate (exerpts)

Olive (Fuller) Bailey’s death certificate (exerpts)

In Olive’s census records for 1880, 1900, and 1910, her parents are both said to have been born in New York, while in 1920, they are said to be born in Ohio.

Olive’s obituary (1) is shown below, but the important pieces of information are as follows:(and can I just say again, how great obituaries are for the wealth of information they provide?)

  • Olive’s birthdate is the same as on her death certificate, and the place of birth is given in Auburn, N.Y.
  • Her mother, Mary Jane, died when Olive was about 2 years old – which would be about 1851.
  • Olive had an uncle David Halstead that she lived with after her mother’s death (this would be Mary Jane’s brother)
  • Olive had one sister, Mrs. Hattie Sunderline of Lyons, NY, and a niece, Mrs. Wm Brown, also of Lyons, N.Y. (these would be Mary Jane’s daughter and grandaughter, respectively)
Olive Isadore Bailey obituary

Olive Isadore Bailey obituary from the Newark Advocate

New connections from Olive’s records

Sister Hattie, niece Mrs. Wm Brown: It was fairly easy to locate Olive’s sister Hattie (Harriet A Fuller) after her marriage to Arthur Sunderline, and they had a daughter Mary who is the niece Mrs. Wm Brown mentioned in Olive’s obituary. Hattie’s family was still living in Auburn in 1870. I haven’t yet located them in the 1880 census, but by the 1892 New York state census, they were living in Lyons, NY, and were there in all the censuses until 1930. After that, I lost track of Hattie, so I assume she died. I never found an exact date of birth, but all of the records say it was ~1857. I hadn’t yet been able to figure out what happened to Hattie between her mother’s death in ~1851 and her marriage in ~1866, nor have I been able to find any marriage/death records that give any information about her parents.

Parents Alva and Mary Jane Fuller: Now that Olive’s obituary gave me her parents’ names, her sister’s name, and a city they were probably living in in 1850, I was able to find them in the 1850 census, right where I thought they should be, Auburn, New York. Olive is not listed, however, despite the fact that she was supposedly born in 1849 – maybe she wasn’t actually born until September of 1850? Also living with the family in 1850 is a Harriet Halsted, b. abt 1820, NY – maybe a sister of Mary Jane’s? This census is the only official record I have for Mary Jane, and it says she was born in about 1818 in New York.

The Fuller family in the 1850 census

The Fuller family in the 1850 census

What happened to Mary Jane’s husband Alva?

After Mary Jane died, I think her husband Alva is the one in these records (all available on ancestry.com and possibly elsewhere):

  • 1855 New York State census: living in Auburn as a boarder with widow Jane Wellington and her two children; listed as a widower,  b. ~1808 in Duchess County, NY, lived in Auburn for 16 yrs, and his occupation was labourer.
  • 1860 US census: living in Auburn with George and Eliza Gilfors, working as a clerk, born ~1800 in NY.
  • 1862, 1863, 1867 Auburn city directories: living at 50 Lewis and working as a watchman in ’62 and labourer in ’63

So after his wife’s death, it appears that he stayed in Auburn and never remarried, at least until 1867. After that, Alva disappears from census records and city directories, so I assume he died sometime between 1867 and 1870, but I haven’t found any records to prove this yet.

Brick wall

At this point in my research, I hit a brick wall and was stuck there for a few years. I occasionally came back to this branch, but wasn’t able to make any headway. I searched and searched for Mary Jane’s daughter Olive Fuller and her brother David Halstead, who should have been living together (along with his family, I assume) between Mary Jane’s death and Olive’s marriage in 1866, but I was never able to find them. There are a few David Halsteads floating around New York during this time that would be about the right age, but I wasn’t able to find anything to tie any of them to Mary Jane and/or Olive. I also wasn’t able to locate Mary Jane’s oldest daughter, Hattie Fuller before she got married – she must have gone to live with other relatives since she wasn’t living with her father, but I couldn’t find her.

For some reason, it never occurred to me to do any more searching for the Harriet Halstead that was living with the Fuller’s in 1850. This should have been an obvious step – she’s almost certainly a relative, probably a sister, of Mary Jane’s since they both are Halsteads and about the same age.

Breakthrough! I think.

So, I did a search on ancestry.com for Harriet Halstead born in 1820 in New York, and one of the first few results was an 1855 New York State census record – this would be just a few years after Mary Jane’s death. And, it looks like it’s the right one!

This Harriet is living in Brutus, New York, which is in the same county (Cayuga) as where I’ve found the rest of the family so far at that time. She’s also the right age – 32, which would put her birthdate around 1822. There’s also an H. A. Fuller, age 8 (b. ~1847), who’s the right age to be Mary Jane’s daughter Harriet/Hattie A (Fuller) Sunderline! Harriet is listed as the daughter of the head of household and H.A. Fuller is listed as the granddaughter. Also, the mother of this family is named Olive – could Mary Jane’s daughter Olive have been named after her?

1855 NY state census - Halsted family

1855 NY state census – Halsted family

So, could this be Mary Jane’s elusive family? I certainly think it is, but I also plan to do more research on this Halstead family to see if I can find any records that prove it, or at least give stronger support. If this Harriet Halstead and H.A. Fuller are the same two Harriets that appear with Mary Jane in the 1850 census, then I’ve finally found her family – her parents Daniel and Olive Halstead, and four sisters – Harriet, Catherine, Eliza, and Emila. This will also answer the question of what happened to Mary Jane’s oldest daughter Hattie after her death.

Besides doing more research on the Halsteads in this 1855 NY census record, I’m also still trying to find Olive Fuller and David Halstead after Mary Jane’s death, a death date for Alva Fuller, and death records/burial information for Mary Jane and Alva. But it sure feels good to have found some good leads to get through one of my brick walls!


(1) in the Newark Advocate, 15 February 1929, bottom/center of p. 12

52 Ancestors: #9 Jerome Pierpont – bullies, love, and learning to write

This is the story of why Jerome Pierpont, my 3x great grandfather, dropped out of school but then eventually learned to write. It’s a story of bullies and love. These stories were told by Jerome to his granddaughter Florence (Bailey) Longwell in 1939 when he was 90 years old. She recorded them and they eventually made their way to me many years later.

Jerome was born on 12 Feb 1849 in Greenup, Kentucky, the son of Lott Pierpont and Nancy (Hawks) Pierpont. In 1855, when Jerome was just six years old, his mother died, and a few months later his father remarried, resulting in a large blended family. At this time, the family lived on wild game and corn bread, made from grinding home grown corn on a small hand mill. Soon though, Jerome’s family moved to Ohio. There, children at school teased Jerome, calling him a “Kentucky Corn Cracker”, and so he stopped going to school. His overworked stepmother didn’t try to make him go. Since he wasn’t attending school, he began working with his father at age 10, cutting wood for use in iron furnaces. At sixteen, his father “gave him his freedom”, and from then on he worked on his own to support himself, traveling far and wide to find work.

In 1870, Jerome was in Straitsville, Ohio, building railroads. At the place where he boarded, Martha I. Davison was working as a cook, not far from where her parents lived. After meeting Martha there, Jerome decided he wanted to correspond with her, so he went to a writing class and finally learned to write. In 1873, Jerome came to Licking County where Martha lived, and they married in April of that year.


Jerome and Martha (Davison) Pierpont

I really love this story. Who wouldn’t love the story of a great grandfather who was so drawn to his wife-to-be that he learned to write just so he could correspond with her? And unfortunately, I can relate to the teasing and bullying Jerome experienced when he moved to Ohio. Although my experience probably wasn’t as bad, throughout junior high, all of the boys in my class called me “Cheater” (ironically, because I was one of the smarter kids), and there were certainly days when I didn’t want to face them and the name-calling.  Being teased for being smart may not be the worst thing in the world, but at that age, I think most of us just want to fit in, and being different in any way, and especially being constantly reminded of your difference, can be really hard. I wish that this is not an experience I shared with any of my ancestors, but unfortunately kids have always been capable of being incredibly cruel to each other.

52 Ancestors: #8 Joseph McLaughlin and family

Here’s one of my oldest and favorite family photos.


Left to right: George Johnson, Lydia (McLaughlin) Johnson, Alice Johnson, Theodore Vanderveer, John Vanderveer, Judson Vanderveer, Joseph McLaughlin, Anna (McLaughlin) Reed, Anthony McLaughlin, Mary (McLaughlin) Bloss, Theo Bloss, Joseph McLaughlin, Solomon Shetler, Todd McLaughlin, Opha Myers, Cynthia (McLaughlin) Myers, Laura (McLaughlin) Myers, Mary (Beatty) McLaughlin, Phoebe Vanderveer, Harriet (McLaughlin) Shetler, Inez Shetler, Ivah Shetler, Retta, Lovina (McLaughlin) Shilling, Edd

Besides the fact that some of the faces are blurry and this is a scan of a copy so it’s not the absolute best quality, this was a great find at my grandfather’s house. It’s got Joseph H. McLaughlin (1882-1897) and his wife Mary, and pretty much all of their children and grandchildren. Based on the age of the youngest child (John Vanderveer), who was born 26 May 1882, this picture was must have been taken in late 1882 or early 1883. I’m not sure why they took this picture where they look they’re ready to challenge the Hatfields & McCoys – in all of the other pictures I’ve seen of these people, they look like fine upstanding citizens.

Here are a few of my favorite features of this photo:

  • Grandpa chilling on the fence, and his awesome beard:
Joseph McLaughlin

Joseph McLaughlin

  • These men showing off their guns (that’s my 3x great grandfather on the right):
Theo Bloss, Joseph McLaughlin, Solomon Shetler, and Todd McLaughlin showing off their guns

Theo Bloss, Joseph McLaughlin, Solomon Shetler, and Todd McLaughlin showing off their guns

  • A lot of men with cool hats: