Tag Archives: Genealogy

Lightning has been an occasional recurring theme in the family tree

LIGHTIN’ UP THE HOUSE

I have been tying branches of my grandmother’s family together and in so doing came upon this account of lightning striking a house.

The house of Rev. Israel Hay, on Mechanic street, Fredericksburg, on Sunday afternoon was struck by lightning. The bolt struck the east gable end and for some distance tore up the ——–, and then descended down to the kitchen, playing sad havoc with the glass and chinaware.”

Israel, perhaps the son of David Hay and Nancy Miller, was pastor at the Church of God in Fredericksburg in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.

Lightning has been a recurring occasional theme in the family tree. One of my ancestors was struck by it, making for a brief peculiar historical highlight.

ajh

The origins of my grandmother’s paternal line has been lost to later generations — until now.

The German Connection

hay_catechism_book_edit

Using a multidisciplinary approach, including DNA and a family religious artifact, helped me confirm that my grandmother’s paternal line had its origins in Germany.

The artifact is a book, printed in Philadelphia in 1814 with text in German. This alone is significant. The language is not American English. This is German.

When I first saw this, after a copy of it was reproduced in a book on the family history called Michael Hay and His Descendants, I knew that I had to pursue this. I had to unravel this story.

One of the compiler’s of the book, Lucy Bayley, lived in Oregon. And one day years ago my grandmother, her brother Everett, and I made the short road trip to her home. She was welcoming, but when I began asking questions about the family, she was reticent to give much information.

She was publishing a book and did not want to share, as if I was a competitor. It was a strange experience. I certainly had no intentions of publishing a book. But she treated me like a spy. So I was frustrated. Grandma said that I should just let her handle it.

Funnily, when the book was finally released, many in our branch of the family were disappointed. It was a typical genealogical book, with a bunch of names and dates, but little else. And there were some errors. I much prefer a narrative format, rather than the routine one.

This is not to say that the book is without merit. The first few pages are worthwhile and quite informative. These include maps and photographs, of land where our ancestors farmed and the long-neglected cemetery on private land where many were buried, more than a century ago.

Lucy was convinced of a Scottish connection, that the family had been in Scotland, part of the Hay clan apparently, but had then relocated to Germany. She was obsessed with this theory. To this day I have no idea if there is one. But I have seen no evidence of it.

However, the link with Germany is solid. I convinced my great uncle, the same one who made the journey to visit Lucy, to submit his DNA, and the results proved a link to a man named Kettering, who had traced his line back to a particular place in Germany.

So now I am working on a translation of this catechism book. I don’t know if I can do it on my own, using online translators such as Google Translate. But I am gonna try.

ajh

Ezra’s Farm in 1860

By the Numbers

Statistics from Ezra Darwin Darling's farm in Lime Creek Township, Washington County, Iowa in 1860 provide insight into daily life of an ancestor just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.

Six bushels of Irish potatoes. Are Russet potatoes Irish potatoes? That’s what I am assuming.

Two hundred pounds of butter! He and Caroline, who I am sure did most, if not all of the churning, had 200 lbs. of butter on hand?!

Ten tons of hay. That’s a lotta hay. And their granddaughter Geneva, my great grandmother, would go on to marry a man named Hay.

Forty gallons of molasses. What’s that for, cooking & baking?

Eight pounds of beeswax. Candles? Soap?

Ezra had 180 acres of land, 40 of which were deemed “improved” and 140 considered “unimproved.” What these mean beyond the basic, fundamental understandings I don’t know. The cash value of the farm was recorded as $1440.

Eight milch cows. Gonna have to look up the word milch.

One working ox. Or given that it reads oxen, is that two?

And one “other cattle.” What’s the purpose of this one? Why a separate listing?

No sheep.

Twelve pigs. Or swine. Man, how I love bacon.

The value of the livestock was listed at $238.

There were 60 bushels of wheat and 300 bushels of Indian corn on hand.

It’s quite the list. Everything was tabulated on June 12, 1860 on his farm in Lime Creek Township, Washington County, Iowa.

There is a precipitous decline in these numbers on the 1870 ag census. Why? It is unclear. But did Ezra focus on other endeavors, such as the post office?

ajh

I’ve been wondering. I’ve been trying to learn more about the Jews in my ancestors’ neighborhood. ✡

A photograph of a street with the surrounding shops and homes in the town where my great grandparents married in 1880 before emigrating to the United States. The German name is Bütow. It is now within Poland and the Polish name is Bytów. In America it is often known as Buetow.I just learned that the town in Germany where my great-great grandparents married in 1880 did indeed have a synagogue, which was destroyed in 1938 during Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass, when the Nazis encouraged people to target the Jews after the assassination of the German ambassador in Paris. I am hoping to learn some of the names of these people, the Jews of Bütow.

ajh

A Story of Desertion

desertion_1778

Today was a first. The first time I have seen the charge of desertion against an ancestor. It was during the Revolution.

The man in question is Goodhart Tressler, a resident of Maryland of German descent. According to his company captain, a John Kershner, Goodhart deserted his post on June 2nd, 1778. The soldiers were stationed at Fort Frederick, Maryland at the time, guarding prisoners.

Perhaps one of these days I will be able to dig up more details on this story. What prompted him to walk away? Was the wife and family in trouble?

Goodhart was the great-grandfather of my great-great grandmother Ellen Catherine Lint. The name Catherine, or Katherine, had been passed down through the generations, beginning with Goodhart’s wife, Catharina.

ajh

I love reading details about ancestors in books

Google Books is a terrific resource. Today, I learned a few more details about my great-great grandparents, John Conner and Ellen Lint.

the_connersI didn’t know that my great-great grandfather lived in Missouri before marrying Ellen and that he came to Iowa in 1873, the year of a
financial panic and the beginning of a depression. And he was still farming at the age of 66.

ajh

Embracing my Irish heritage

IRL_IT

Besides the potato famine and the resulting hordes of immigrants, Irish history is mostly neglected in America, despite the fact that many have some Irish blood in them.

In 1916, a rebellion began, or rather continued, and although successfully repressed by the Brits, independence finally came six years later, in 1922. The Irish, including some of my relatives, had been fighting the English for centuries. Some still are.

One branch of the family, on my paternal grandmother’s side, arrived in America in 1790. But when an insurrection against English rule began in 1798, some of the boys returned, itching to help in the fight, despite having to make the perilous transatlantic crossing yet again.

ajh