The American Revolution

If you're studying the American Revolution, the book The American Revolution: The global struggle for national independence by Brendan Morrissey is a great resource. It has  newly-created maps showing lines of battle and troop movements, old contemporary maps, and copies of famous paintings of the historic figures involved in the conflict. Not to mention the narrative year by year through the war.  One reviewer at Amazon critiques some of Morrissey's interpretations, but using a variety of sources helps to counteract that.

After having done US history with my kids so many times and also having read a lot on my own, I  feel like I'm starting to have a command of the flow of US history.

We're also using a new set from the Teaching Company: American Revolution with Professor Allen Guelzo.  Guelzo is my favorite. He's at his finest explaining philosophical concepts (The American Mind is my favorite), but he also does a good job explaining less ethereal things like actions and events.


Clarion County, Pennsylvania Research

After having a wonderful day with the Marsches yesterday, I left their house this morning and headed for Clarion, Pennsylvania. My Lee ancestors: father Addison, and children including my great-grandfather Ira Lee moved from Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, sometime after 1876 (record of a deed in Huntingdon) and before 1880 (census in Clarion County). I know that my great-grandfather Ira Lee is buried in Kane, McKean County, PA, where my dad was born, but I didn't know what had happened to Addison. Today I found out. I was in the courthouse reading orphans' court records and found guardianship papers where guardians were requested for the children because Addison had been killed in a boiler explosion in the previous month of December 1880, and there was insurance money to be managed. Because I had that information, I knew when to look for possible newspaper accounts and went over to the library where old newspapers on microfilm are available. A transcription of the newspaper article follows. The newspaper is dated 16 December 1880 and is the Clarion Democrat. The left margin of this particular edition appears to have been damaged prior to microfilming so the first few letters of each line may not be correct if I guessed wrong. (warning-- the contents may be too graphic for young children)

[Hor or Ter]rible Boiler Explosion at Curllsville -- One Man Instantly Killed.
[O]n Friday morning, the 10th inst., about 7 1/2
[A]M., the boiler in Turney's flour mill, at Curllsville,
exploded with terrific force, instantly
[kill]ing Mr. Ad. H. Lee, the miller. He was
[cru]shed against the stone wall in front of the
???ler, literally crushing him to a jelly. His
[he]ad was split open, his brains dashed out, and
[hi]s face scalded and driven so full of ashes and
[??]uler, as to be almost beyond recognition.
The entire south side, or nearly one-half of the mill,
[is a] complete wreck, except the roof. The stone
[wa]lls are blown out and shattered, timbers two
??? square broken and splintered, floors torn up,
?? So far as is known the accident was caused
[by] the water being too low in the boiler. The
[re]mains of Mr. Lee were taken charge of by
[Cur]llville Lodge, I.O.O.F., of which he was a
[m]ember, and were consigned to the tomb in the
[M]ethodist cemetery at Curllsville, on Sunday,
?th inst. They were escorted by Millville
[Lo]dge, I.O.O.F., 30 members present; A.O.
?, W., No 176 of Rimmersburg, of which he was
[al]so a member, 35 members; and Sligo Lodge,
[N]o. 387, I.O.O.F., 20 members, followed by
? loaded vehicles, besides horsemen and a large
[n]umber on foot. He was aged 44 years, and
[le]aves a wife and 4 children to mourn their loss.
???? be with him. It is said that a highly in-
[te]lligent christian gentleman, upon viewing the
???ling, blackened, mangled remains of Ad.
[Lee] before they were scarcely cold, said, "There
is no use making any fuss with him. Sew him
[up] in a sack and bury him," thus denying the
??? mangled wreck of humanity the privilege
???ing prepared by tender hands and loving
[h]earts christian burial. When the shadow
[of] the dark angel's wing shadows this gentle
[m]an in eternal night, may God in his mercy not
[de]ny to him tender hands and loving hearts to
[pr]epare him for the tomb.

George Washington

Archeologists have long tried to find George Washington's boyhood home at Ferry Farm. They believe they have finally been successful.

Indiana Probate Find

Last Thursday-Sunday, the girls and I went up to Indiana to visit Ben and one family we've known through the internet for many years and to do some genealogy research. It all was quite fun.

I was very successful in my genealogy quest and found a probate packet that had its earliest receipt contained therein from 1835. A probate packet contains all the papers that were collected during the administration of someone's estate when he dies. So people will submit bills owed by that person that need to be paid. There can be bills for expenses related to the illness just before death or burial expenses themselves. There can be outstanding bills from the store which will say "shoes for James", etc.. Then there's an inventory of all the property owned by the person (even if the wife is still alive!). The property is sold and a listing of the sale price and who bought what appears. Then the expenses are totaled and the assets are totaled and the remainder divided among the heirs which are all usually named. This can be an incredible goldmine of genealogical information besides the common everyday stuff one learns about the ancestor. (I debated about putting "ancestor" in quotation marks because I mentally went in the Bertie Wooster way of referring to his Aunt Agatha.) One reason the naming of the heirs is particularly valuable is because names of wives will be given with their married names. Often it can be difficult to track female lines because of the name change upon marriage.

Probate records may be the ONLY proof of the parentage of a woman. Then if the son or daughter of the deceased has died, grandchildren will be named. Back then this happened a LOT.

Fires and Bibles

I wonder how many old family Bibles were destroyed by fires. Supposedly one of my ancestors Clement Nance had a whole trunkfull of family papers that were destroyed by a house fire in the New Albany, Indiana area. I recently received my first-ever-ordered pension packet on my Civil War ancestor Albertus Van Hoesen. With the price of copying the file, you get only the first 100 pages and you have to pay extra to get any beyond that. So Albertus's was beyond that by 43 pages, and so I'm awaiting the rest. I'm planning on transcribing some of the letters contained therein. But one thing that's interesting and why I think context is so important it that Albertus tells how he doesn't have any proof of his birth because the family Bible was burned in 1878. That would have just been some little factoid in my brain without any kind of depth of understanding of the reality of it if I hadn't read before that from the Clarksville Star newspaper about the house of R.C. Van Hoesen (who was Albertus's father) burning down. (see post farther down). Even the little, common place things are interesting.

More Articles ...