Showing posts from June, 2018

Another Family Story Shattered!

You know the feeling when you discover a long held belief isn't what you thought?!  Shocked, Saddened, Denying it, Attempting to disprove the new information - yep, those stages of grief.  But learning the truth is important and I know it can change my genealogy sleuthing to find what I really need to get a better understanding of the family.
I've written previously about one of my husband's great grandmothers, Mary "Mollie" O'Brien, who with her purported half sibling, ventured to New York City during the height of the Potato Famine from Ireland.   Cousins and I have surmised that Mollie and her sister must have been orphaned as Irish church and civil records show no trace of her parents after her Baptism in Limerick.  This would explain why she set out for a new life in a new land. Mollie worked as a maid in New York City and it was there she met Scotts immigrant, John Cook.  After a brief courtship, the couple "eloped" via Newark, New Jersey whe…

Hunting Down a Harbaugh

I was catching up on my reading last week when I came across an article in the May 2018 Smithsonian magazine mentioning a George Harbaugh, an oil magnate from Cleveland who was involved in an automobile accident with a streetcar in 1913.  This led to an engineer, James Hoge, inventing traffic lights.
Now when you do genealogy for awhile and you're reading for pleasure, surnames are certain to pop up from time to time and you just lose the drift of the story to think, "How is that person related to me?"  or  "Do I have that individual in my tree?"  I have entered every Harbaugh that I'm aware of in my Main Tree on and so I decided to try to hunt down this George Harbaugh and attach the citation.
I thought this would be a quickie find but it took a few minutes longer than I anticipated.  My first problem was that I have 132 George Harbaughs in my tree.  I tried to eliminate by location and death dates but it was still a lot to go …

Be Mindful of Address Changes

On the plane returning home from New Mexico, I sat next to a woman who had traced her paternal grandfather's side back to the 1200's in a Spanish village thanks to the church records and her ability to decipher old handwriting.  She mentioned that she had found several deeds belonging to her great grandparents but could not locate the residences as the numbering system had changed in the past 100 years.  Lucky for her, she met an elderly man who remembered the family and understood the new address system so she was able to identify where her grandfather and great grandfather were born. Taking into account address changes is an important point to remember as what you're looking at might not be what you think it was.

There are two websites available to help with situations like this. is a site using Google Street View with uploaded photos of what the area looked like from previous time periods.  You can assist this project by uploading old photos you may h…

Deciphering Directions and Finding Places from the Past

Last week when I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico and had a dickens of a time locating the Oldest House that I blogged about on Tuesday.  According to the map and online guides, the Oldest House was said to be NEXT TO the Church.  All I saw next to the Church was a pizza restaurant.
The church was locked so I tried to follow the sign on the government building next door that said "Visitor Info."  The sign had an arrow directing visitors to enter on the east or south entrance.  I walked down the street in the direction the sign had pointed.  There was no entrance on the street side so I suppose it was the  north or west side.  I turned at the intersection and again saw no entrance.  Okay, I was certain to find the way in when I reached the back.  I walked the entire length of the back side and still found no entrance.  Turning left, I finally located the door.  So what the sign meant was that there was one entrance and it was on the south east side. 
I asked the attendant for dir…

A Little Bit of Truth in All of Those Passed Down Stories

I love family legends even if they are tall tales.  Last week I trekked to New Mexico, where I have no family ties, and learned of a passed down legend that was quite interesting.  While visiting the Oldest House in Santa Fe, I heard the story of two elderly Native Americans who once lived in the dwelling.  Supposedly, they had made a love potion for a Spanish soldier, Juan Espinoza, and when it didn't give him the results he had wanted as his love had married another, he returned to seek his money back.  An argument ensued, he fell and was beheaded.  The ancient wooden casket in the home supposedly contains his body; over the years a plaster cast was enclosed to represent his missing head.
The next evening, on a ghost tour, the guide told his version of the story.  He believed the women were sisters and these witches had been threatened by the soldier.  As the soldier attacked one of the women, the other took out a saber and sliced off his head.  The women then dragged his body …