Friday, April 11, 2014

The Pennsylvania Quaker Split

I did not know this!

I had enjoyed the pilot of the new series, Turn.
I was thinking about it while doing my usual perusal through our various online sites and decided to look up the names of the characters to keep them straight in my head. 
Well! I ended up looking up Anna Strong as the female spy and then ended up in Townsend's  history and some how found a connection to the Pennsylvanian Quakers.

It is noted that during the tension of our nations uprising some of the Quakers began siding with the colonists that felt they had rights to what they had worked for and the stirrings of patriotism along with Thomas Paine's writings caused a split between 'political Quakers' and 'religious Quakers".

Ok, so I've been diverted.
My attention has now been focused on my ancestors.
I could say some Quakers married into my family or my family married Quakers...

Way back in the beginning of my husband and my quest to find the Quaker cemetery and site of the Quaker meeting house built on a piece of ground donated by my ancestor we wondered why the religion was not continued down through the generations.
One of my ancestors felt so deeply about the religion they donated land for a meeting house but the names disappear form the meetings records after so long...
I don't know. 
We have fractured off into so many different quests I haven't found all the info in my families history but am documenting as much info as I can. 

I have always loved history and have focused more closely on American history as I've progressed.
With this new info found about the Pennsylvanian Quaker split I have a new bit of insight into why some Quakers diverted to Patriots.
I knew Ben Franklin had started a Militia to protect Philadelphia because the Quakers were pacifists and Philly was a bedazzling jewel ready to be plucked!

 Not to mention I've still not found out why there is a GAR marker in the Quaker cemetery...
History is who we are!
Don't you just love it?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Some One Asked: Why'd You Get Into Genealogy?

Well, for me it was two separate things that got me started. 

First a  binder of papers families had filled out and returned to one of my grandmother's brothers had my great grandparents and three of their children buried in three different cemeteries.
I wanted to find them for my grandmother before she passed away. 
I started checking out the cemeteries when I went by. One in particular had lost it's records to a chapel fire so I had to hoof it all over the cemetery! 
They, of course, were in one of the last sections I could look in and all together. 
I'm not sure if it was this excitement I had at finding them or his finding Find a Grave first but my husband and I started looking for my ancestors at a Quaker cemetery. 
 This quest for my relatives and the ability to fill requests for FAG fueled a common love for genealogy between us. 
I do confess though, I know I was driven by an underlying motive. Years ago my Grandmother had said the girls in our family could be DARS, Daughters of the American Revolution. Both she and my Mom wanted to do the process but never got to it.

I was told it was through a particular person so I began searching for this person only to find, eventually, this was not the correct person but that they had identified him by his given and middle name. I needed to find an ancestor with a different last name. 
Holy cow, there were so many people with this name in my family...and to confuse me more I had two different lines that followed a Robert to James to Finley generational progression that I kept getting confused. 
When you find one wonderful, hard to find answer it always leads to a dozen more questions.
We have been doing our genealogy for years now and know it will never be done...but it sure is fun doing the research and filling in the blanks.

What got you started in genealogy? 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Finding my lost uncle

How I found my lost uncle.

Growing up I always heard that my grandmother had 11 children, but try as I might I can only come up with seven aunts and uncles and my mother. Growing up it seems that the adults never really wanted to talk to you about it, they would say "grandma had 11 children and three died young", but never saying who, when, where or why.
Now that I am searching my ancestry and doing genealogy I decided that I would get the answer to this. After searching all available census records I went to the cemetery where a good portion of the family are buried including my grandmother and grandfather. When talking to the caretaker in the office I did get a tip that there was a child by the name of Milan Dokmanovic buried in the family plot. He was buried there April 2, 1926 but there was no other information available and prior to that the records had been destroyed in a fire in the early 1920s.

My next step was to go to Pennsylvania vital statistics and locate a death certificate for Milan. You can locate and send for Pennsylvania death certificates that are over 50 years old (1906-1964) at the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health website. After searching in the year for 1926 I located his state file number and used the form from the state to send for the record, the records cost five dollars a piece and you can order five of them at a time.
After about three weeks I received the copy in the mail.

Now I have a record of another one of my grandmother's children, number 9 with still 2 more to go.
Milan Dokmanovic, born July 1, 1923, died April 1, 1926, two years nine months old. This is why he did not appear on any Federal census'. Milan is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery presumably next to his mother and father in the family plot.

Next I will begin the task of searching the Pennsylvania death records between years of 1906 and 1925 to see if I can find anymore Dokmanovic surnames. Some years are alphabetized very nicely with the D's all in order, but with some years Da might be followed by Di then Du then back to Da.
Finding these records in genealogical research can be bittersweet. At first you are happy you've finally found that much sought after info but then very sad imagining how distraught my grandparents would have been watching this active two year old go from his active self to an extremely ill child and then dying. 
Having a grandchild at this age makes it vividly evident to us. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Owning Up To Your Family's Past

Owning Up To Your Family's Past

Being relating in multiple ways.

 My maternal grandmother was always telling me, "...we're related to ..". I wanted to hear it but she usually did so when I was driving and interacting with my car seated  little one in my Grandmother's car car that required more than the usual attention to drive. She and my "Pap" had bought it and even though it was very difficult to steer she was keeping it! It just wasn't conducive to writing it all down. When we were at home we both were usually busy doing other daily things.
Anyway, when I was young I remember my (Great)Aunt Gladys and her husband, Uncle Bill coming to visit.  They were both ministers and missionaries. They were always dressed in their 'Sunday clothes'. 
 Aunt Gladys was my Grandpa, Pap's, sister but their last name was Cochenour. Hmmm that name was from my mother's other side...not my Pap's side. 
I'd walk up to Uncle Bill and start a conversation and tell him we were probably related and he'd shrug it off. It made me feel 'warm and fuzzy' that we could be related by family to Uncle Bill and to Aunt Gladys. 
He may have indicated he 'was not related to his wife, Aunt Gladys' in response  but I know time and time again I would try to explain to him it was on his side not Aunt Gladys' so he wasn't married to his cousin.
He just didn't want to hear it. 
To get to the point Uncle Bill was related to us , he was my third cousin twice removed. To make it even more complex he's related to me again; his grandmother is my first cousin four times removed.  So Uncle Bill was related to me three different ways, through his wife by marriage, his 2nd great grandfather and his grandmother. Whew...

Do you have any multiple relationships in your family? 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Great Flu Epidemic's Effect on Family Females!.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my Mom and her Mom's family. I knew my grandmother, Gan; as we called her, had been through the Great Flu Epidemic back in 1918.

I, also, knew her Dad, Sidney,  died October 27 of that year.
In researching the Great Flu Epidemic the statistics indicate October 27, 1918 was the day the largest number of people died as a result of the flu epidemic in one day.

Sidney Davis Gravestone

In retrospect I always found myself thinking how the death of my great-grandfather effected the women in his life.
I know my great-grandfather's death left a widow (at 38 y.o.) with 11 children, having already lost two of them. She had lost a son, Brynley, in 1907 at the tender age of three and an infant not quite two months old in 1914. 

Picture of Sidney Davis and Family

Sidney Davis family in 1913 at Kennywood Park, Pittsburgh, PA 

Now she was left a widow with a 21 year old WWI soldier son, a 20 year old son, a 17 year old son, a 15 year old son, a 12 year old daughter, a 10 year old daughter, an 8 year old daughter, a 6 year old son, a three year old son, a 22 month old daughter and a 9 day old son.
She had her hands full and she was on her own. Her parents and both sets of grand-parents were deceased. What a struggle her and her children's lives must have been. She was thrust into a life without an income. Her perfectly healthy working husband got the Spanish flu and died! How many of the children that lived through the flu epidemic were sick? Did  she suffer the flu herself? I'm sure some of the children old enough to work helped out financially and the older girls helped with youngest children but I can't fathom how she did it. How many were still in school? How many could actually find employment and help with the finances? There was no pension, no social security benefits for her underage children, how did she make ends meet? I know my Mom always told me she came from strong pioneer stock, maybe that was it. My great-grandmother's family had been here for almost 200 years at the time of the Great Flu Epidemic.

Sidney's mom, Mary, had just lost her husband of 49 years, William, 9 months ago. Mary, still grieving her husbands loss, loses  her 44 year old son, with 11 children.  She was dealt another blow by her first son's death at 49 years seventeen days later on November 13, 1918. At the age of  70 years she was living under the roof of two of her coal miner sons, a pregnant daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. Mary will go on to lose a 39 year old daughter, Ida, with  in a year. Ida leaving  3 of her children, girls  ages 12 years to  17 years old motherless and fatherless and her three children from her second marriage with out a mom. (The oldest being 6 years of age and the youngest being 17 months old.) Did the three older girls live with their step dad and their 3 other siblings and help raise them after Mom died? (I know Ida was a milliner and a seamstress so with her death they had less income. )
The oldest girl became a nurse and I don't know if she ever married. The 5 year old was hit by a train at 10 years of age and died. The rest of the kids went on to marry and have their own families.

That brings up the sisters of Sidney: Edith and Ida lost their dear brother. (Ida dies in October 3, 1919)

Next comes the daughters: Margaret, Kathryn, Neva and Marie lost their Dad. How emotionally and financially devistating would that be? They had been the first in their town to have a telephone in their home, now luxuries like that would be unattainable. 
None of the children were married yet so when the widow became a grandmother the grandchildren knew no grandfather.

 Back in 1918 life was hard. In looking at census records you can see a definative pattern of babies showing up on the scene within a year or two of marraige and then about every two years.
Yes, many didn't make it to adulthood but that the doesn't belittle the loss. Losing a viable productive husband with 11 children ages 9 days to 21 years of age had to be mind numbing, but 'pick yourself up and get on with it' would be the only choice the working class family had back then...
honor all those who did so.

Thank you for reading our story. Feel free to add anything or ask anything.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Surname Saturday: "Indian Captures and Murders" was the title!

Indian Captures and Murders Western Pennsylvania Frontier

Insomnia and the love of history and genealogy drives my husband to do online research late into the night. When he finds something really exciting he actually wakes me to tell me! I'm usually equally as excited with his finds and this one really sticks with me.
Let me first say that all my life I've wanted to move to the Ligonier, Pennsylvania area. Why? I just felt drawn to it. Pennsylvania is the Keystone State. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is where Ben Franklin lived and where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Here in PA the Founding Fathers made the decisions to move to independence.
Many early settlers were Quakers that came here to Pennsylvania to seek two things they could not achieve in Europe;  religious freedom and land that would be theirs. In our search for our ancestors we have found many of mine were in fact Quakers. Ligonier was the first Fort  west of the Allegheny mountains on the way to Fort Pitt in Pittsburgh, PA. It was the gateway west for "pioneers" over those hard to cross mountains. For more info on Fort Ligonier see:

To get back to the Indian captures and murders: Nick, my husband, came upstairs with startling news one night about one of my ancestors we knew about but never heard this exact story before.
It appears as though my fifth great grandfather, James Means had come to Fort Ligonier with his family in 1777 to seek protection from the Indian allies of the British. He would have been about 12 years old. We knew he had a sister that was killed by the Indians but not any details.
This new info gave us stark details.
Four children, two were children of Robert Reed and two were children of Robert and Elizabeth Means. James and Rebecca Means along with Martha Ann and George Reed were headed out to pick berries in a clearing near the fort during the summer of 1778.
The story goes: "On their way and just as they ascended the hill on the other side of the Loyalhanna, the young men, who were walking ahead, met Major William McDowell, who was on horseback, coming toward the fort. At that instant, the whole party was fired upon by Indians lying behind a log. Young Reed fell dead, and McDowell's rifle was splintered by a bullet which glanced and wounded him in the hand. Young Means ran back to protect the girls, who had started to run to the fort. He was captured. The Indians soon caught Miss Means and tomahawked her; but Miss Reed succeeded in outdistancing her pursuers as she fled toward the fort."
"The garrison hearing the firing,a relief party"..."met Miss Reed a short distance from the fort," ..."conducted her to safety while the others proceeded to the scene of the firing, where they found the lifeless bodies of Reed and Miss Means."*
"Three years later young Means returned from his captivity and reported that the warrior who had chased Miss Reed was renowned as an athlete among the Indians, but had lost his prestige on account of his failure to catch the "white squaw".
James Means went on to marry my fifth great grandmother Rebecca McGrew a Quaker that was known for breaking Quaker rules by dancing! They went on to have 16 children!
What a happy ending!
Now I know my connection with Ligonier may have something to do with my ancestry!

Thank you for sharing your time with us.

If you would like more info on this area and Indian situation check out our blog on Col. Pomerroy who was the commander of Fort Ligonier at the time of my anscestors plight!

*"Pennsylvania In The Revolution, Fort Ligonier and It's Times. by C. Hale Sipe, Telegraph Press, Harrisburg, PA., 1932. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday:

Walking through Saint Vincent's Cemetery looking for monuments to fulfill photo requests we came upon this stone. No other stones close and no clue as to where J. F & E. F. BRIDGE are buried is seen.
Now I can hardly image having 12 children let alone losing 12 children. 

J.F. & E. F. BRIDGE lost just that many in a span of 28 years.
The deaths of these children started in 1862 with a one year old child dying. In 1865 two children, a 9 and a 7 year old were gone. A 19 year gap is broken by the 1884 deaths of four children. Four children in one year. They were a 7 year old, an 8 year old, a 9 year old and a 10 year old.  I checked for epidemics in the 1800's none are listed for 1884 all though TB, Malaria or Scarlet fever could happen at any time none were listed as significant that year.
By now the Bridges had lost 6 children between 10 and 1 year(s) of age at the time of their deaths.
A reprieve for 6 years allowed the rest of the family to continue to age.
But then came 1890 and the death of 5 more of the children.
An 8, a 10, a 12 a 19 and a 20 year old all died in 1890. 
Can you even imagine going through that after a gap of 6 years to recover from the loss of the last 4 deaths?
There was a flu epidemic in 1889 and one of Diphtheria in 1890 that continued through until 1895. Typhoid Fever was a problem in these years, also.
The couple continued to have new births through out this time with the last birth of the expired children in 1882.
How many children did this family have? Did any make it through adulthood to have their own families?
One of my ancestors had 16 children and 1 died in infancy, two I don't know their death dates yet. Another ancestor had 14 children and 3 died before adulthood. In all my genealogical research I've never seen this many from one immediate family.  I do know there is a story that my family had a history of herbalists to treat patients and mid wife. The chemicals/medications we currently used had their start from natural items.
We know childhood diseases were more prevalent before chemotherapeutic treatments were discovered and used. Penicillin was first used in 1942 for soldiers.No matter the problems and controversies over immunizations they have decreased childhood deaths significantly.
I understand families lost babies and it was an expected loss but I can't fathom the devastation of  losing 12 children.
Please, comment if you know of other diseases of these years. I'd like to know more!
Thanks for reading our post.
Have a good healthy day!