Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas! (And Other News)

Me - Christmas c. 1983

Me (and my cousin Tabatha to the left) - Christmas 1985

I know I haven't posted in awhile, but I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I'm about to get on the road and travel to my parents' house for 2 hours, but I just thought I would update everyone on my most recent big news. It seems like this fall is just full of surprises! The company that I work for has announced that it is moving its headquarters from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the Research Triangle Park in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. They've asked everyone in the accounting department to go, and I believe I am going to go. I love change, and I've been wanting to get out of Louisiana for awhile now. I hear that that area of North Carolina is a great place to live. The move won't happen until this summer, so I have some time to plan. I can't quite remember right now if any of you geneabloggers live in that area, but if you do, please feel free to email me at jtrahan2003 at Any advice about where to live, advantages/disadvantages of the area, etc. would be greatly appreciated. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: John Henry Mertena, c. 1910

This is a photo of my great-great-grandfather, John Henry MERTENA, who has been the topic of so many posts lately. I am currently on a mission to find his father. John Henry is the one in the back seat of the car. The man in front holding the steering wheel is his younger half-brother, Bill COTHERN. We are not quite sure about the identity of the other young man in the front, but it was probably a friend.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

FindAGrave Rant

OK, I just need to rant about something that has been bothering me on FindAGrave. I've been photographing tombstones at a local cemetery and posting them on FindAGrave. I've started to notice that some of the more recent tombstones that I've photographed already have a memorial at FindAGrave. At first, I figured that someone must be reading the obituaries everyday and posting the memorials at FindAGrave based upon the burial location mentioned in the obituary. However, I then started to notice that many of these memorials had photos of the deceased person. I thought this was odd because it seemed that the people posting the memorials did not have any family connections to the photographed person, based on the fact that the same two people have several memorials for the same cemetery for several different names that do not seem to be connected to one another in any way. For this particular cemetery, there is a funeral home right next door that is connected to the cemetery. Yesterday I decided to visit the funeral home website. After reading some of the obits on the website, it has become apparent to me that the two people in my area have been stealing pictures and the obituaries from the funeral home's website for people who aren't even their family members and posting them on FindAGrave!

I don't know if the funeral home or the family members have the copyright of the pictures, but I know that FindAGrave specifically states that you should not take a photo from another website. I looked into reporting this, but it seems that the only way to report the theft is if you own the copyright yourself. Since none of these memorials are for my family members nor do I own the funeral home, I'm not sure if I can report it or not. I guess that these people may have permission from the funeral home to do this, but I seriously doubt it.

My other issue is this: If you want to document a cemetery, get your butt out there and take pictures or transcribe tombstones yourself! Quit sitting at your computer and stealing the funeral home's photos and obituaries from their website! I have an issue in general with people combing through obituaries everyday and then posting memorials on FindAGrave for strangers, even if they aren't stealing pictures or obits. I don't have a problem with people actually taking pictures of strangers' graves or transcribing strangers' graves and posting them on FindAGrave, or with people posting memorials for their own relatives or other research interests on FindAGrave after reading an obituary. Maybe this is just my annoyance with armchair genealogists. I guess what really bothers me too is that several of the strangers' memorials have men's last names listed as maiden names or some other error. If you are going to be lazy, at least get it right. Sheesh!

Maybe I am being too harsh, but I am thoroughly annoyed. Please feel free to comment with your opinions.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My MERTENA Conundrum: Part II - The Sources: John Henry MERTENA (1884-1956)

This post will focus on the sources that I have consulted for John Henry MERTENA, my great-great-grandfather. As we learned from his son's delayed birth and death record, John Henry may have been born 11 Mar 1884 in Franklin County, Illinois. I can proudly say that I have actually taken Step One to solving this mystery by mailing a request to Southern Illinois University to request a copy of his birth record from their IRAD holdings. I'm crossing my fingers that the birth record exists. My next step will be to order the Franklin County birth records and index from the FHL for the time period 1861 to 1916 to look for all MERTENA/MERTEENEY births in Franklin County. I think I will wait until after the holidays to do this, since the local Family History Center is closed the week of Thanksgiving and for two or three weeks in December.

Source #1: 1900 U.S. census, Logan County, Oklahoma Territory, population schedule, Rose Hill Township, ED 143, sheet 3B, dwelling 50, family 50, James L. Cothirn household; ( accessed 15 Nov 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1339.

Since I don't have his birth record, the earliest record I have of John Henry is his 1900 census record from Rose Hill Township in Logan County, Oklahoma. Rose Hill is southwest of Mulhall. (The 1931 marriage announcement of John Henry's son said that John Henry lived west of Mulhall). In 1900, John Henry was living with his mother and stepfather. Here is a transcription of the census record:

James L. Cothirn, head, white, male, b. Feb 1861, age 39, married, married for 14 years, b. Tennessee, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Tennessee, farmer, can read/write/speak English, owns farm free of mortgage, no. 51 on farm schedule

Carrie Cothirn, wife, white, female, b. Mar 1861, age 39, married, married for 14 years, mother of 9 children, 4 children living, b. Illinois, f.b. Indiana, m.b. Indiana, able to read/write/speak English

Willie H. Cothirn, son, white, male, b. Dec 1892, age 7, single, b. Oklahoma, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Illinois, attended school 2 months

Rolena Cothirn, daughter, white, female, b. Sep 1887, age 12, single, b. Kansas, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Illinois, attended school 6 months, able to read/write/speak English

Myrtle Cothirn, daughter, white, female, b. Mar 1890, age 10, single, b. Oklahoma, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Illinois, attended school 6 months, able to read/write/speak English

Johny Mertena, stepson, white, male, b. Mar 1884, age 16, single, b. Illinois, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Illinois, attended school 4 months, able to read/write/speak English
This again says that John Henry was born in Mar 1884 in Illinois. This makes me a little more confident because this record is the earliest created record I've found so far that states a birth date and place for him. The source is unknown because it's not possible to know who the census taker talked to that day, but my guess is that it was Carrie, since she would have been in the best position to know John Henry's birth date and place, and this info is consistent with later records. This census record states John Henry's father's birthplace as Tennessee, but it looks to me like the census taker just copied down the same info of his half-siblings. Of course, it's entirely possible John Henry's biological father was from Tennessee as well. It says that Carrie had 9 children, four of whom were still living. I would presume the four living to be John Henry, Rolena, Myrtle, and Willie. There is the family story that she had 3 or 4 girls with her first husband who all died in childhood. Some of the five children could have been with her second husband as well. This census record also tells us that the family moved sometime before Sep 1887 from Illinois to Kansas and then moved again sometime between Sep 1887 and Mar 1890 to Oklahoma.

I just realized that I need to order a copy of the marriage record of John Henry MERTENA and Blanche WELDEN. My grandmother has a copy of a marriage record for them that is in a very large frame hanging up at her house. We believe this is a copy provided for them by the minister who performed the marriage and not an official copy. They were married 25 Dec 1907 in Mulhall, Logan, Oklahoma (just one month after Oklahoma became a state). The FHL has Logan County marriages from the Judge of Probate's Office on microfilm from 1890 to 1908. I think I will order the microfilm that covers Dec 1907 when I order the Franklin County birth records.

Source #2: 1910 U.S. census, Logan County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Rose Hill Township, ED 138, sheet 7B, dwelling 131, family 135, J. Henry Mertena household; ( accessed 15 Nov 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1260.

By the time of the 1910 census, John Henry and Blanche had been married 2 years. Their only child, my great-grandfather, wouldn't be born for another four months. It looks like John Henry hadn't ventured too far from his mother and stepfather's home, considering he was still in Rose Hill Township.

J. Henry Mertena, head, male, white, age 26, married once, married for 2 years, b. Illinois, f.b. Pennsylvania, m.b. Illinois, speaks English, farmer, works on own account, able to read/write, owns home free of mortgage, no. 21 on farm schedule

Blanche Mertena, wife, female, white, age 26, married once, married for 2 years, no children, b. Missouri, f.b. Kentucky, m.b. Kentucky, speaks English, able to read/write
Since the official census date was 15 Apr 1910, John Henry's age of 26 supports a birth date of 11 Mar 1884. His birthplace is given again as Illinois. His father's birthplace is given here as Pennsylvania. So now we have one vote for Tennessee (albeit a shaky one) and one vote for Pennsylvania. Again, we don't know the source because we don't know who gave the information to the census taker. If it was John Henry, he was probably relaying info his mother had given him about his father's birthplace.

Source #3: "World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database and images, ( : accessed 16 Nov 2009), John H. Mertena, Draft Board, Guthrie, Logan County, Oklahoma; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, roll 1851806.

John H. Mertena
Resident of Mulhall, Logan, Oklahoma
Age 34
Born 11 Mar 1884
Natural-born U.S. citizen
Self-employed farmer in Mulhall
Nearest relative is Blanche Mertena of Mulhall
Medium build, medium height
Brown eyes, dark hair
Whew! Another document that confirms his birth date as 11 Mar 1884. Too bad it didn't ask him exactly where he was born.

Source #4: 1920 US Census, Logan County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Rose Hill Township, ED 68, sheet 3A, dwelling 57, family, John Mertino household; ( accessed 16 Nov 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1470.

John Mertino, head, rents home, male, white, age 35, married, able to read and write, b. Illinois, f.b. France, m.b. Illinois, able to speak English, farmer on a general farm, employer, no. 51 on farm schedule

Blanche Mertino, wife, female, white, age 36, married, able to read and write, b. Missouri, f.b. Kentucky, m.b. Kentucky, able to speak English

Merlen Mertino, son, male, white, age 9, single, attends school, b. Oklahoma, f.b. Illinois, m.b. Missouri, able to speak English
Great, now we have a vote for France as John Henry's father's birthplace. So, that's one shaky vote for Tennessee, a less shaky vote for Pennsylvania, and a less shaky vote for France. As the official census day is 1 Jan 1919, his age of 35 supports a birth date of 11 Mar 1884. At least this date and his birthplace as Illinois have been consistent.

Source #5: 1930 US census, Logan County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Mulhall Township, ED 23, sheet 5A, dwelling 73, family, 80, John H. Mertena household; ( accessed 16 Nov 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1912.

John H. Mertena, head, owns home, owns radio, lives on a farm, white, male, age 46, married, age 24 at first marriage, able to read and write, b. Illinois, f.b. Pennsylvania, m.b. Illinois, able to speak English, farmer, works on own account, not a veteran, no. 72 on farm schedule

Blanche Mertena,
wife, white, female, age 46, married, age 24 at first marriage, able to read and write, b. Missouri, f.b. Kentucky, m.b. Kentucky, speaks English

Merlen P. Mertena, son, white, male, age 19, single, able to read and write, b. Oklahoma, f.b. Illinois, m.b. Missouri, speaks English, general farmer, wage earner, not a veteran
Now there are two votes for Pennsylvania for John Henry's father's birthplace. Again, his age is consistent with a birth date of 11 Mar 1884, and his birthplace is consistent as Illinois.

Source #6:
Louisiana State Department of Health, death certificate [no number given], John Henry Mertena (1956); Vital Records Registry, New Orleans.

Last Name of Deceased: Mertena
First Name: John
Second Name: Henry
Date of Death: 28 Jan 1956
Hour of Death: 10:30 PM
Sex: Male
Race: White
Marital Status: Married
Spouse Name: Blanche Weldon
Age of Spouse: 72
Date of Birth of Deceased: 11 Mar 1884
Age of Deceased: 71 y, 10 m, 19 d
Birthplace: East St. Louis, Illinois
Occupation: Farmer
Industry: Cattle & Ranch
Ever in US Armed Forces: No
Place of Death: Maplewood, Calcasieu, Louisiana
Length of Stay: 3 months
Street Address: 102 Beech St.
Usual Residence: Same as above
Father's Name: J.H. Mertena
Birthplace: France
Mother's Name: Carey Orth
Birthplace: Penn
Informant: Mrs. John Henry Mertena
Cause of Death: Circulatory Collapse (4 hours) due to Bronchogenic carcinoma (4 years)
Date of Burial: 01 Feb 1956
Place of Burial: Odd Fellows Cemetery, Marshall, Oklahoma
A new possibility for the birthplace of John Henry: East St. Louis, Illinois. East St. Louis is in St. Clair County in southern Illinois and is slightly northwest of Franklin County. This is the first time we've seen his father's name: J.H. MERTENA. Again, his father's birthplace is given as France, as it was in the 1920 census. The informant was John Henry's wife, Blanche.

Source #7: "J.H. Mertena Dies Saturday," obituary, Lake Charles (Louisiana) American Press, 30 Jan 1956, p. 12, col. 3.

SULPHUR -- John Henry Mertena, 71, died at 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the home of his son, 102 East Beech road, Maplewood.

A resident of Mulhall, Okla., for 35 years, he had been visiting his son, Merlen P. Mertena, the past three months. The body was sent by the Hixson funeral home of Sulphur Sunday afternoon to the Smith funeral home in Guthrie, Okla.

Services will be Thursday at Mulhall and burial will be in the Odd Fellows cemetery in Marshall, Okla.

Survivors include his wife, Blanche; one son, Merlen P. Mertena; four grandchildren; one great-grandchild; one brother, W.H. Cothern of Mulhall, Okla.; and two sisters, Mrs. Edgar Norris of Crescent, Okla., and Mrs. Henry Tate of Lokeba, Okla.

Mr. Mertena was born in East St. Louis, Ill., A farmer and cattleman, he had lived in central Oklahoma since 1889.
The date of 1889 is consistent with the dates suggested by the 1900 census for the family's move date into Oklahoma. I digress here from the task at hand, but this obituary reminds me of a story my grandmother told me about her grandfather, John Henry. She said that he had come to Louisiana because he was very sick with cancer, and my great-grandfather was his only child, so he had no other children to help take care of him. Even though he was very sick, he loved to watch Groucho Marx on television. When Marx was on television, he would get up out of the bed and come to the living room to watch it. He would always ask to hold my dad when he got up to watch Groucho Marx. My dad is the great-grandchild listed in the obituary. He was only 6 months old when John Henry died. My grandmother and my dad were living with my great-grandparents at the time because my grandfather was in the Navy. That must have been interesting having four generations under one roof, if only for three months.

All records seem to be pretty consistent about a birth date of 11 Mar 1884.

Here's a tally for the birthplace of John Henry MERTENA:

Illinois - 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 census

Franklin County, IL - delayed birth record of son, Merlen Paris MERTENA (1944)
death record of son, Merlen Paris MERTENA (1989)

East St. Louis, St. Clair County, IL - death record of John Henry MERTENA (1956)
obituary of John Henry MERTENA (1956)

Here's a tally of the results for the birthplace of John Henry's father:

Tennessee - 1900 census (may be the birthplace of stepfather instead of father)
Pennsylvania - 1910 census, 1930 census
France - 1920 census, death record of John Henry MERTENA (1956)

Here's a tally of the results for the name of John Henry's father:

J.H. MERTENA - death record of John Henry MERTENA (1956)

My next post will focus on the records I've found so far for John Henry's mother, Carrie ORTH.

Introducing Vicariously Victorian!

In my previous post, I mentioned that during my trip to California, my sister and I did research at the county courthouse to find information about the previous owners of her old Victorian house. If you would like to learn more about the house, or are interested in restoring old homes, please visit my sister's new blog, Vicariously Victorian.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My MERTENA Conundrum: Part II - The Sources: Merlen Paris MERTENA

The next few posts about my MERTENA conundrum will focus on the sources I've consulted so far in my research. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't consulted all sources out there. I've mainly consulted the easiest to access sources.

This first post will be about the sources I've found on my great-grandfather, Merlen Paris MERTENA.

Source #1: Oklahoma State Health Department, delayed birth certificate no. 3019 (issued 1944), Merlen Paris Mertena, Division of Vital Statistics, Oklahoma City.

Full Name of Child: Merlen Paris Mertena
Date of Birth: 09 Sep 1910
Race: White
Sex: Male
Place of Birth: Logan County, Oklahoma
Father: John Henry Mertena
Birthdate of Father: 11 Mar 1884
Birthplace of Father: Franklin County, Illinois
Mother: Blanche Welden
Birthdate of Mother: 31 Aug 1883
Birthplace of Mother: Coffeyville, Missouri
Signed Merlen Paris Mertena of 105 E. Fresno, Ponca City, Oklahoma
Date Signed: 04 Feb 1944
Signed Blanche Mertena of Mulhall, Oklahoma
Date Signed: 23 Dec 1943
Abstract of Supporting Evidence: Family Bible (made at birth) and Oklahoma Driver's License (made in 1938)
This gives the birthplace of John Henry MERTENA as Franklin County, Illinois, and his birth date as 11 Mar 1884. Franklin County is in southern Illinois. It was formed in 1818, and it's county seat is Benton. It is surrounded by Jefferson County to the north, Williamson County to the south, Jackson County to the southwest, Saline County to the southeast, Perry County to the west, and Hamilton County to the east. John Henry was still alive at the time this delayed birth record for his son was created, though his wife, Blanche WELDEN, his son, Merlen Paris MERTENA, and the family Bible are listed as the sources of the information. This information is probably based on what John Henry's mother, Carrie ORTH, told him about his birth, which he presumably relayed to his wife and/or son. At best, this is a secondary source.

Source #2: Logan County, Oklahoma, Marriage Records, 25:47, Mertena-Proffit (1931); County Clerk's Office, Guthrie; FHL microfilm 378,328.

Name of groom: Merlin Mertena
Age: 21
Race: W
Place of birth: Okla.
Residence: Mulhall, Okla.
Name of bride: Hassie Proffitt
Age: 22
Race: W
Place of birth: Okla.
Residence: Crescent, Okla.
Date of license: 14 Feb 1931
Person performing ceremony: J.E. Burt, Minister, Methodist Epsicopal [Church] at Mulhall, Logan, Oklahoma
Date of marriage: 14 Feb 1931
Witnesses: Mrs. Blanche Mertena of Mulhall & Mr. Wm. S. Burt of Guthrie
Filed 17 Feb 1931
This record does not seem to provide any information about John Henry MERTENA.

Source #3: "Friends Honor Mertenas," undated clipping from unidentified newspaper, owned 2009 by Merlene (MERTENA) TRAHAN, Vinton, Louisiana. Merlene is the daughter of Merlen Paris MERTENA and Hassie Cora PROFFITT.

Friends to the number of about twenty gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Mertena, west of Mulhall, Saturday evening to honor Mr. and Mrs. Merlen Mertena, whose marriage was an event of February 14. The bride, formerly Miss Hassie Proffitt, is teaching school near Crescent. The couple were married at the Methodist parsonage at Mulhall by Rev. J.E. Burt. Mrs. Mertena is a daughter of Rev. and Mrs. W.H. Proffitt, of Hollister, Okla., and the groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Mertena. The bride will complete her school term. A special time was enjoyed by all at the event Saturday evening. Cigars and candy were passed to the group.
Again, this newspaper clipping, while valuable in its own right, does not provide any information about John Henry MERTENA, except that he was living west of Mulhall, Oklahoma, at the time of his son's marriage in Feb 1931.

Source #4: Louisiana Office of Public Health, death certificate [no number given], Merlen Paris Mertena (1989); Vital Records Registry, New Orleans.

Full Name of Deceased: Merlen Paris Mertena
Date of Death: 07 May 1989
Hour of Death: 9:45 PM
Sex: Male
Race: White
Marital Status: Widowed
Date of Birth: 09 Sep 1910
Age: 78
Birthplace: Logan County, Oklahoma
Occupation: Operator
Industry: Refinery
Of Hispanic Origin: No
Ever in US Armed Forces: No
Social Security Number: 440-14-2613
Place of Death: Nursing Home
Name of Facility: Holly Hill Rest Home
Location of Facility: Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisana
Usual Residence: 224 Self St, Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisiana 70663
Father: John H. Mertena
Birthplace: Franklin County, Illinois
Mother: Blanche Welden
Birthplace: Coffeyville, Missouri
Informant: Joe H. Mertena, 104 East End, Sulphur, LA 70663
Cause of death: Cardiac duress
Disposition: Burial at Mimosa Pines Cemetery in Sulphur, Louisiana
Funeral Home: Hixson Funeral Home, Sulphur, Louisiana
Again, his son's death record gives John Henry's birthplace as Franklin County, Illinois. The informant for the death record was my great-uncle, Joseph Henry "Tony" MERTENA, son of Merlen Paris MERTENA. I'm not quite sure if the birthplace of John Henry MERTENA was passed down orally to Tony, or if he had a copy of the delayed birth record of Merlen Paris MERTENA. Tony was 14 when his grandfather, John Henry MERTENA, passed away in 1956, so it's possible his birth information was relayed to Tony by John Henry MERTENA himself. It's also possible that Tony consulted with my grandmother, his sister, who was six years older than him and close to their grandfather, before giving the information. Either way, this information is again secondary at best.

Source #5: "Merlen P. Mertena," obituary, Lake Charles (Louisiana) American Press, 10 May 1989, page 2, column 2.

Sulphur -- Funeral services for Merlen P. Mertena, 70, of 224 Self St., will be at 2:30 p.m. today, May 10, in Hixson-Guardian Chapel. The Rev. Howard Childs will officiate. Burial will be in Mimosa Pines Cemetery. Mr. Mertena died at 9:45 p.m. Sunday in a local rest home. A native of Logan County, Okla., he had lived in Sulphur most of his life. He was a retired operator for Conoco, and had been a member of Maplewood United Methodist Church since 1953. Survivors are two sons, William John Mertena of Olympia, Wash., and Joe H. Mertena of Sulphur; two daughters, Mrs. Merlene Trahan of Vinton and Mrs. Jill Ellender of Lake Charles; 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
While this does provide great information about my great-grandfather's life and his children, it does not mention his parents at all.

So, what can we conclude? We can conclude that John Henry MERTENA was possibly born on 11 Mar 1884 in Franklin County, Illinois.

What to do next? Southern Illinois University, an Illinois Regional Archives Depository, has birth records and an index to birth records for Franklin County from 1877 to 1916. I need to write them to see if they can look up John Henry's birth record. I know from past experience that they will look up one to two names at a time, and all it costs is $1.00 per page copied if they find anything. Though in the end I probably will want to order the birth records in full from the FHL. They have Franklin County birth records from 1861 to 1915 and the index from 1877 to 1916. This will allow me to look for other MERTENA births in Franklin County.

FamilySearch Indexing

This post is to tabulate my FamilySearch Indexing progress since I joined about a year ago or so. Most of my work has been done in the past two months, although I did join quite awhile back. I highly recommend that everyone help at least once a week with FamilySearch Indexing. The purpose of the project is to help the Family History Library get all of its microfilmed records online in digital format. Anyone can help index, and it does not cost anything. Even better, the records do not cost anything once they are online. Lately, I have been helping with 1920 US Census, which has been the highest priority of the administrators of the project. Here are my contributions so far:

This month:

Louisiana - 1920 US Census - 200 names
Maryland - 1920 US Census - 100 names
New York 1905 State Census - 100 names
North Carolina - 1920 US Census - 100 names


1905 Wisconsin State Census - 100 names
Alabama - 1870 US Census - 160 names
Arkansas County Marriages VII - 34 names
Arkansas County Marriages III - 20 names
California - 1920 US Census - 50 names
Canada - British Columbia Births - 20 names
Georgia - 1920 US Census - 200 names
Idaho - 1920 US Census - 50 names
Kentucky - 1920 US Census - 100 names
Louisiana - 1920 US Census - 200 names
Louisiana 1850-1954 Death Certificates - 171 names
Maryland - 1920 US Census - 150 names
Michigan - 1850 US Census_General - 86 names
Mississippi - 1850 US Census_General - 84 names
New York 1905 State Census - 100 names
New York - 1920 US Census - 150 names
North Carolina - 1850 US Census_Slave - 84 names
North Carolina - 1920 US Census - 100 names
Ontario 1861 Census - 50 names
West Virginia - 1920 US Census - 50 names
Wisconsin - 1920 US Census - 100 names

My MERTENA Conundrum: Part I - The People

I feel the need to write this post because this is one of the most unusual and toughest surnames on my family tree: MERTENA. This is my paternal grandmother's maiden name. I feel that the family has been calling to me lately. Below is my outline of what I know about the MERTENA family:

1) The only surviving MERTENA male is my dad's first cousin, unless he has any sons, but I'm not sure if he does or not. I'll have to ask my grandmother.

2) My dad's first cousin is the son of William John "Bill" MERTENA, my grandmother's older brother. He died 8 Oct 2001 in Olympia, Thurston, Washington, where he was cremated. He was born 20 Aug 1931 in Frederick, Tillman, Oklahoma, to Merlen Paris MERTENA and Hassie Cora PROFFITT. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism. He then went on to serve in Korea before beginning his journalism career with the American Press in Lake Charles, Calcasieu, Louisana. His parents had moved to Louisiana from Oklahoma while he was in college. He married Living (name kept private to respect privacy of the living) WARD in 1958 in Lake Charles. They had four daughters and one son (mentioned above). In 1963, he moved to Washington, where he retired in 1987 from the American Press.

3) My grandmother had one other brother, Joseph Henry "Tony" MERTENA. Uncle Tony was born 15 Nov 1941 in Guthrie, Logan, Oklahoma, to Merlen Paris MERTENA and Hassie Cora PROFFITT. He died 30 Jan 1998 in Lake Charles. He did not have any sons; he only had one daughter. He was employed by Citgo Oil Refinery in Sulphur for over 20 years. He is buried at Nibletts Bluff Cemetery in Vinton, Calcasieu, Louisiana.

4) My great-grandfather was Merlen Paris "Zack" MERTENA. He was born 9 Sep 1910 in Mulhall, Logan, Oklahoma, to John Henry MERTENA and Blanche WELDEN. He married Hassie Cora PROFFITT 14 Feb 1931 in Mulhall at the Methodist parsonage. She was the daughter of William Harmon PROFFITT and Emmer Link BAKER. Zack worked as an operator for Conoco Oil Refinery, which moved the family from Mulhall to Ponca City, Kay, Oklahoma, and then to Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisiana. Zack and Hassie had two sons (Bill and Tony mentioned above) and two daughters, one of whom is my grandmother. Zack died 7 May 1989 in Sulphur, Louisiana. He is buried at Mimosa Pines Cemetery in Sulphur.

5) My great-great-grandfather was John Henry "Johnny" MERTENA. He was born 11 Mar 1884 either in Franklin County, Illinois, or East St. Louis, St. Clair, Illinois, to John Henry MERTENA/MERTEENEY and Carolina Cristina "Carrie" ORTH. The family story (unconfirmed) is that John Henry the father died the day after John Henry the son was born because of some epidemic that also killed all the other children, supposedly all girls, of John Henry the father and Carrie. Carrie and John Henry the son were the only two survivors of this epidemic. What has been confirmed is that Carrie remarried to James "Leonard" COTHERN two years later on 9 Sep 1886 in Williamson County, Illinois. Carrie and Leonard moved to Oklahoma in 1889. John Henry MERTENA the son married Blanche WELDEN 25 Dec 1907 in Mulhall, Oklahoma. They had only one child, Merlen Paris "Zack" MERTENA, my great-grandfather mentioned above. John Henry MERTENA the son died 28 Jan 1956 in Sulphur, Louisiana, where he had gone to live with his son in his old age. He is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Marshall, Logan, Oklahoma.

6) John Henry MERTENA/MERTEENEY the father was born about 1854. While a resident of Jackson County, Illinois, he married Carrie ORTH 13 Aug 1876 in Williamson County, Illinois, at the home of John BROWN, Carrie's stepfather. The family story (unconfirmed) is that his parents were the immigrant ancestors. His father, whose name is unknown, was supposedly robbed on board the ship to America and thrown overboard. John Henry was born on the ship. His mother, whose name is also unknown, eventually remarried to a pharmacist and settled in southern Illinois. The family story said that her new husband's name was BROWN, but I've since confirmed that BROWN was the name of Carrie's stepfather. This does not mean John Henry's stepfather wasn't also BROWN, but I think the stories probably got crossed over the years.

Kreativ Blogger Award

Thanks to Linda over at Flipside for awarding me the Kreativ Blogger Award! Apparently, I am supposed to list seven things about myself here:

1) I love seafood and any foods that are non-American (i.e. Cajun, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Greek, Lebanese, Nepali, Japanese, etc.), especially if they are spicy.

2) I love secondhand smoke. I know that sounds weird, and I know it's not good for me, but it reminds me of summers in Michigan as a child.

3) My bachelor's degree is in elementary education, but I'm an accountant. I believe that you can always change your mind.

4) Speaking of changing my mind, sometimes I think about going back to school for a Master's in Library Science, and sometimes I think about getting a Master's in Theological Studies.

5) I love to study religions, particularly the differences between the various Christian denominations.

6) I love to read. I am currently reading Lalita Tademy's Red River. I highly recommend it for all you other genealogists out there, as it is her family saga, based on her own genealogical research on her father's family. She wrote about her mother's family in Cane River. Of course, I do read non-genealogical related books. My favorite book is Rapture of Canaan, and I love just about anything by Anita Shreve. I also LOVE children's books.

7) I'm going on the RootsMagic Valentine's Cruise in 2010!

I would like to award the following blogs with the Kreativ Blogger Award:

1) Caroline at Family Stories
2) Lisa at Small-Leaved Shamrock, 100 Years in America, and A Light That Shines Again
3) Cindy at Everything's Relative
4) Terri at The Ties That Bind
5) Liz at My Big Fat Cajun/Irish/Scottish/English/German/French/Southern Family Blog
6) Elizabeth at Little Bytes of Life
7) Allum at Spence-Lowry Family History

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day Salute

I would like to say a big thank you to all the veterans in my family:

My dad: Michael David Trahan, U.S. Coast Guard, 1974-1978
My paternal grandfather: Benford Maurice Trahan, U.S. Navy, 1955-c. 1958
My maternal grandfather: John Peter Pemberton, U.S. Army Air Corps, 1946-1949
My maternal grandfather: Clifford Robert Drouillard, U.S. Marines and Canadian Royal Army, c. 1950-c.1960
My first cousin: Michael Adam Pemberton, U.S. Air Force, 1995-2008
My uncle: George Albert Pemberton, U.S. Army, c. 1971-c. 1973
My uncle: James Frederick Chamberlain, U.S. Marines (served in Vietnam), c. 1966-c. 1970
My great-uncle: William John Mertena, U.S. Army (served in Korea), c. 1953-c. 1957
My great-uncle: William Howard Pemberton, U.S. Army, c. 1950-c. 1954
My great-uncle: Franklin Mearl Pemberton, U.S. Army, c. 1951-c. 1955
My great-great-great-grandfather: John C. Pemberton, Company C, 1st Michigan Cavalry, Civil War
My great-great-great-great-uncle, Stephen Pemberton, Company C, 1st Michigan Cavalry, Civil War (died from illness contracted during Civil War service)

Another special thank you goes out to two friends of mine who both died in Afghanistan:

Jimmy Shawn Lee (1978-2005), U.S. Marines, Mount Vernon, Indiana
John Michael Hennen (1981-2007), U.S. Army National Guard, Vinton (Louisiana) High Class of 1999

Jim is the cousin of my best friend, Rachel, and I went to school with John for several years in Vinton.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Surname Distributions: Trahan and Pemberton

Randy over at GeneaMusings has challenged us for another night of Saturday night genealogy fun. This time we are to go to the Public Profiler website and determine the distribution of our surnames. I chose to look at my father's and mother's surnames of Trahan and Pemberton, respectively.

There were no surprises for Trahan. Everyone in southwest Louisiana knows that the Trahan's were Acadians who were exiled from Nova Scotia in the 1700s. It looks like Trahan has the highest frequency in the U.S. and Canada with 93.75 FPM in Canada and 50.81 FPM in the U.S. The top regions are Louisiana with 1,926.36 FPM and Quebec with 560.76 FPM. The next highest frequency regions are Vermont, Mississippi, and New Hampshire. Many Acadians were exiled to the northeastern U.S., so this is why Vermont and New Hampshire have the highest rates after Louisiana. I assume Mississippi is just a bunch of transplanted Louisianians.

Pemberton is most frequent in the U.K. with 125.38 FPM. Next is New Zealand with 108.28 FPM and Australia with 94.36 FPM. In the UK, it is most frequent in the North West, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and Humberside.

UPDATE: I went back and looked up the maiden name of my paternal grandmother, Merlene Golda Mertena. Mertena has to be the hardest to find name in my tree. I had no luck. All I found was a Mertena in Washington, where my great-uncle and his son live. Darn! That is the only place in the world where there is a Mertena, and I already know those Mertena's!! I told you it was the hardest name to find!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pemberton Obituary Project: Samuel Pemberton

Samuel Pemberton was the third son and fifth child of Jeremiah Pemberton and Susannah Jermyn. Interestingly, I have found some patents that seem to belong to him at Google's patent search. They had to do with life jackets or something to that effect. Samuel was the hardest for me to find info on because his name was so common, and he disappeared for the 1880 census. For the longest time, I thought he had died young like his older brother, Stephen. Then I just happened to notice a marriage entry for him and Ellen McCoy in the IGI. The marriage took place in St. Clair County, Michigan, on the same day as his younger brother William's marriage to Hannah Winters. That's when I had a hunch that it was my Samuel.

From The Evening News (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan), "Samuel Pemberton," 15 Aug 1917, p. 3

Samuel Pemberton, 59 years old, passed away at Monoskong Bay yesterday morning. His body was brought today to the home of his son, Albert E. Pemberton, 815 Young street, from where burial will be made tomorrow afternoon at 2 o'clock, Rev. A.H. Owens of the First Baptist church, officiating. One daughter, Mrs. Jack Floats, of Monoskong, and four sons, Albert, William, John and Harold, of the Soo survive.
First, I would like to thank a kind volunteer from RAOGK for finding this obit for me. As Samuel seems to have navigated away from St. Clair County, where my family still lives, it was harder for me to get to his obituary on my last two visits to Michigan.

The first thing I noticed is that his daughter's married name is spelled wrong. It is Sloats (not Floats). His daughter was Essie Maud Pemberton, born Sep 1876. She married Albert John "Jack" Sloats in 1903 in Alger County, Michigan.

Samuel's first three children were born in St. Clair County, Michigan, between 1875 and 1879. His fourth and fifth children, Albert and Harold, were born in Alpena County in 1888 and 1895. Considering Samuel turned up missing for the 1880 census (perhaps this is when he was en route for Alpena), I'm surprised I had managed to locate all of his children prior to finding this obituary, or at least all five of them who were still living at the time of his death. I presume that there were probably some who died in childhood, considering his third child was born in 1879 and his fourth child 9 years later in 1888. Then his fifth child was not born until another 7 years.

Apparently, Monoskong Bay is actually spelled Munuscong Bay and seems to be a popular walleye fishing and duck hunting area today in the Upper Peninsula (UP). It is just south of Sault Ste. Marie. I really wonder what made Samuel move from southeastern Michigan to the UP. Samuel's death certificate and the 1910 census said he was a cook in the camps. I'm wondering if these were lumber camps. I'll have to do a little more research to learn the industries of the time in the UP. My best guess as to why he moved is that it had something to do with available work. His older brother, John, my great-great-great-grandfather, took on their father's trade of blacksmith. Perhaps there wasn't room in the community for another blacksmith. John did move south to Macomb County to practice as a blacksmith, so maybe Samuel had to move as well. Samuel's 1871 marriage record lists his occupation as blacksmith, though I don't know how long he practiced the trade. His son's 1879 birth record lists his occupation as farmer. The 1900 census does not list an occupation for Samuel. It does not appear that he was a blacksmith from 1910 to 1917, as he was listed as a cook. And then there were those patents I found on Google, which make me think he worked in the marine industry for awhile. Maybe he was a cook in fishing camps.

Interestingly, the obit doesn't state where Samuel is buried. His death certificate says only "Sault Ste. Marie" as his place of burial. Perhaps there is a city cemetery where he was buried. I'll have to check.

Samuel's wife, Ellen, had died in 1909 from breast cancer. This is the only instance of breast cancer that I have ever found in the family.

The obit does not list any siblings, although he had four siblings still living: Eliza, Agnes, Sarah, and Charles. They were all living in St. Clair County, so it makes me wonder if he did not stay in touch with them after he moved away, since they were not listed.

Stay tuned for the obit of Samuel's younger brother, William, who died two years before Samuel in 1915.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Correction to Happy Halloween!

I came home to visit my parents (they live about 2.5 hours from me) on Friday afternoon. It was an exciting weekend because several events were going on: my 10-year class reunion, the Homecoming game/parade, and Halloween. Now, Halloween in my parents' hometown is the old fashioned kind where people still go door to door along Main Street. My paternal grandmother lives on Main Street, so it has been our tradition to go to her house every Halloween and help hand out candy. So when I was at my parents' house on Friday evening, and my dad brought out a box of old pictures and letters, I thought, "How could this weekend get any better?" Then I was even more excited when I found the Halloween picture of him and his brothers from 1964, and what I thought was a Halloween picture of his dad, my paternal grandfather, Benford Maurice Trahan.

On the back of it, however, I noticed it had a date stamp of Feb 1941. I thought that was unusual, but I thought that maybe it had taken a few months to get it developed. Then last night, my grandmother said that she thought it was a Mardi Gras picture instead. Well, that made total sense, in light of the fact of the date on the back and that my grandfather grew up in the heart of Cajun Country, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. Also, if you look at his right hand, he is holding a Mardi Gras mask. My grandmother said that my great-grandparents used to travel to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and there was a large children's parade in Lafayette, so he was probably dressed up for one of these two reasons.

So, I think I will be reposting this pic in February! Stay tuned!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

My dad (top right) and his brothers
Halloween 1964

My paternal grandfather, Benford Maurice Trahan
Halloween, circa 1940

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pemberton Obituary Project: Joseph Putnam Phelps

Joseph Putnam Phelps was the husband of Agnes Emma Pemberton, the fourth child of Jeremiah Pemberton and Susanna Jermyn. His obituary is below:

From The Port Huron (Michigan) Times Herald, "Algonac," 18 Mar 1919, p. 7:

Joseph Phelps passed away at his home west of town on Saturday evening after a lingering illness. He was 80 years of age and has lived here for many years. The following relatives survive him, his aged wife, two sons Joseph and Norman, and four daughters, Mrs. Henry Aspenleiter, Mrs. Wm. Taft, Mrs. Albert Avers, of Algonac, and Mrs. Bert Basney of Detroit. Mr. Phelps was an old civil war veteran.

Again, Henry and Nellie (Phelps) Aspenleiter are listed as residents of Algonac, although I've found them in Detroit for the 1910-1930 censuses. Makes me wonder if they frequented back and forth between Algonac and Detroit. Perhaps Algonac was their summer home.

According to his pension index card, Joseph was a lieutenant with Co. E's 9th Regiment of the Michigan Infantry. His brother-in-law, John Pemberton, fought with Co. C's 1st Regiment of the Michigan Cavalry. I have always wondered if they knew each other from the Civil War or not. Agnes married Joseph after he returned from the war in 1867. I will have to do more research on their regiment's battle histories.

It is interesting that this obit does not mention the funeral services or the burial. I'm assuming they had already happened by the time this obit was published. I should also check to see if there are more details in an Algonac newspaper, if one survives.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pemberton Obituary Project: Agnes Emma (Pemberton) Phelps

Continuing the Pemberton obituary project, here is the obituary of Agnes Emma (Pemberton) Phelps, the fourth child of Jeremiah Pemberton and Susanna Jermyn:

From The Port Huron (Michigan) Times Herald, 30 Dec 1931, p. 12

Funeral services for Mrs. Phelps will be held at 2 p.m. Friday in the Church of Christ. Rev. Ralph R. Woodard, pastor, will officiate. Burial will be in Oaklawn cemetery.

Mrs. Phelps is survived by four daughters, Mrs. William Taft, Mrs. Albert Avers, Mrs. Henry Aspenleiter, all of Pointe Tremble; and Mrs. Burton Basney, Detroit, and one son, Joseph Phelps, Pointe Tremble. There are 31 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She was born in Ontario, March 16, 1845. She married Mr. Phelps shortly after the close of the Civil War. She had been a member of the Church of Christ since her marriage.

This is the first of many references to the Church of Christ in this family's obituaries. This is probably the Church of Christ in Algonac, where Agnes lived from 1880 (probably earlier) to 1930. This obit was listed under the River District News, which includes Algonac and other towns south of Port Huron along the St. Clair River.

Her daughters listed are Sarah J. (Phelps) Taft, Elizabeth M. (Phelps) Avers, Nellie A. (Phelps) Aspenleiter, and Anna Essie (Phelps) Basney. Agnes also had a second son, Norman Angus Phelps, who was the twin brother of Nellie. He died in Detroit in 1928, just three years prior to Agnes' death. I have found his obituary, but I still need to find his death record. I am curious as to why he died so young.

Pointe Tremble is an unincorporated area just west of Algonac and east of Pearl Beach. Googling Pointe Tremble brings up a link for Pointe Tremble Elementary School on Phelps Road! The Phelps family must have been pretty prevalent in Pointe Tremble.

What's also interesting is that a Google search for the Algonac Church of Christ brings up the church's website, which shows several Avers family members who are still active members. I know these are probably not direct descendants of Elizabeth (Phelps) Avers, though, because she only had two children, neither of whom had any children of their own, according to their obits.

It seems as if Nellie (Phelps) Aspenleiter may have moved back to the Algonac area after living in Detroit for the 1910-1930 census. I don't see her listed on the St. Clair County death index, so I wonder if she moved back to Detroit before her death. Or it's also possible that the newspaper got her place of residence wrong.

I can only seem to account for 15 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren who were alive in 1931. Hmm...looks like I may be missing 8 great-grandchildren.

This is the only source I have found that states Agnes' date of birth directly. Of course, it is still a secondary source, since it was not created at the time of her birth.

I will have to remember to share this obit with a newfound cousin on She is married to Agnes' great-great-grandson.

Stay tuned for the obit of Agnes' husband, Joseph Putnam Phelps.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quick Update

I realize that I haven't posted anything since the end of September. I just haven't felt like blogging since losing two grandfathers and being told by my fiance that he wasn't ready to get married (AFTER FIVE YEARS TOGETHER!!!). My California trip did clear my mind somewhat on the issue of my relationship, but I'm still recovering emotionally. He's going to be moving out this weekend (the weekend we were supposed to get married) so that we can both have time to ourselves for awhile. We are NOT moving back in together unless we get married. In California, I realized that I gave up a lot of things up for this relationship, and that did not get me where I wanted to be after five years. I need to learn to be more assertive and fight for what I want in a relationship.

Anyhow, hopefully I will get back to blogging soon. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stovall/Forsythe Home

View Larger Map

I have just returned from my sister's house in northern California. She just moved into an old home in August. The listing agent stated the house was built in 1910. At first, I thought it would be as easy as looking at the census records for 1910-1930. However, only the 1910 and 1930 census listed street names, but even then, there were no street addresses. Therefore, our goal while I was there was to go to the county courthouse and determine who was the first owner of the house.

Like any good genealogist (though my sister is not really a genealogist), she talked to people in the town right after she moved in. The mayor of the town told her that the home was known as the Forsythe home for the longest time, but she thought that the home was originally built for a man named Moore Stovall and his family. She also noticed that the initials M.E.S. were on the sidewalk outside the home. I found a Mary E. Stovall in the census records from 1900-1930 in the town. I did not find a Moore Stovall in census records, but I did find a biography online for a Jessie Curl Stovall, who married Mary Eliza Moore. The Mary E. Stovall in the census records was married to J.C. Stovall. So at least we had some leads before going to the courthouse.

At the courthouse, we went to the tax assessor's office, who gave us a printout of all people on record for owning the house. The farthest back the tax record went was Feb 1976, when the house was transferred to the estate of Lillian M. Forsythe. The tax record listed the location of the deed for the transfer, so we then went to the County Recorder/Clerk's office to find the deed. We found a deed which transferred the house from the estate of John Albert Forsythe, who died on 1 Mar 1963, leaving no heirs, to the estate of Lillian Margaret Forsythe, who died on 15 Jan 1970. Lillian Margaret was listed as John Albert's mother in the deed.

Going backward, we found that in Sep 1956, J.H. Forsythe and Lillian Margaret Forsythe had transferred the house to their son, John Albert Forsythe, with a right to live in the house for the remainder of their lives. J.H. Forsythe died three years later in 1959. Since John Albert died in 1963 with no heirs, and Lillian did not die until 1970, this is why the house reverted back to her estate in 1976. I'm assuming they deeded the house to their son, assuming he would outlive them.

We then became stuck and could not find when and from whom J.H. Forsythe and Lillian Margaret Forsythe had purchased the property in the first place. We had made a very common genealogical mistake: we did not realize at first that J.H. Forsythe was the same person as John Homer Forsythe. We then went back and found a deed from March 1976, which stated that the Dept of Veterans' Affairs of the State of California had sold the house to John Homer Forsythe in Oct 1951, and this deed was being recorded in 1976 to replace the destroyed or unrecorded deed from 1951. Aha!

We then found a memorandum (not an official deed) from April 1944, which stated that the VA Dept was selling the house to John Homer Forsythe. I'm not quite sure why one record stated 1951 and one stated 1944, but it can be safely said that he probably bought the house between 1944 and 1951.

We got stuck again at this point because we could not find when and from whom the VA Dept purchased the house. The VA Dept apparently purchased many homes in the county, and they had their own page in the grantee index. We could not find them purchasing any homes prior to 1946 in the index, however. But there was the memorandum from 1944, so this didn't make sense.

At this point, my sister decided to be a rogue genealogist and just start looking for Stovalls as grantors. I was hesitant because I was afraid that there could have been at least one other owner between the Stovalls and the VA Dept, so I was trying to come up with Plan B. And it was apparent from the index that the Stovalls owned LOTS of land. However, we got very lucky because she found that a Kathryn Stovall Mitchell had sold the house to the VA Dept in April 1944. We're still not sure why the grantee was not indexed in this sale.

In 1941, we found a deed in which Hiram Curl Stovall left the house to his wife, Kathryn Stovall, upon his death. Aha! Going back even further, we found a deed from 1930 in which Mary Eliza Stovall left the house to her son, Hiram, upon her death. Now I just think we have a little more research to do to find out if Mary Eliza Stovall was the original owner.

My sister said that she went to church today and found out that Dolores Forsythe, daughter of J.H. and Lillian Forsythe, committed suicide. Her tombstone says she died in 1951 at the age of 25. Her brother, John Albert, also died young. We're curious whether or not John Albert also committed suicide, or if it's even true that Dolores committed suicide. Time to order some death records!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blogging from Northern California

I'm visiting my sister and brother-in-law in California for a week, so my blogging will probably be sparse. I arrived on Friday evening and will be leaving on Saturday, Sept. 26. I'm having a blast! We went to 2 wineries yesterday in Napa Valley. Today we are just relaxing. Here are some of my favorite pics so far:

Jade Lake at Chateau Montelena Winery - St. Helena, CA

Grapes on the vine at Castello di Amorosa - Calistoga, CA

Castello di Amorosa

Cats lounging around Castello di Amorosa

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bad News

I have been away from blogging for a week or so due to the deaths of both of my grandfathers.

On Sunday morning (9/6), my paternal grandfather, Benford Maurice TRAHAN, died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 74. He had congestive heart failure, and occasionally had heart trouble, but this just happened all of a sudden and was quite shocking. My grandmother is a regular reader of this blog, so please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. They were married for 54 years.

Then, as I was preparing to take a trip back home for the funeral services, I found out on Sunday night that my maternal grandfather, Clifford Robert DROUILLARD, was not doing too well either. I knew he had been in the hospital at least twice since July for pneumonia and that they had found lung cancer, but I didn't realize that he was going to go so quickly. He was in Canada, so I was not able to see him over the last two months. I last saw him in June, when I was in Michigan for my uncle's funeral. Therefore, I only got updates from my mom, who got them from my aunts in Michigan. I had made it back to my parent's house in southwest Louisiana by Monday afternoon, and my aunt came and told us on Monday night (9/7) that he had died about 9 p.m. in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. He was 77.

It's just very weird because I had all four grandparents alive at this time last year. I went from having all four alive down to having one alive.

One good thing about my maternal grandmother's death (in December 2008) was that it got my grandfather (Cliff) talking to me about how they met. I had always heard from family members that he was best friends with her first husband, John Peter PEMBERTON, who died in 1970. According to Pippi, he was actually friends with my grandmother, Violet, first. They worked together in the '60's at the Prestolite factory in Port Huron, Michigan. He was a driver and she worked on the assembly line. He said he flirted with all the ladies on the assembly line, and he had a crush on my grandmother, but he was married and so were most of them, including my grandmother. He said that one day she told him to come over to her house on Stone Street to meet her husband and kids. She said he would know what house it was because there would be a lot of kids playing in the yard (she had 8 kids!). He said he took a 6 pack of beer on a Saturday and drove around the Stone Street neighborhood but couldn't remember the address. So on Monday, he said, "You almost had a visitor this weekend, but I couldn't remember which house it was." So she invited him and his wife to go bowling with her and John Peter and some of their friends that week. From then on, he became friends with John Peter too. He said that one day John Peter told him that he knew Violet and the kids would be okay if anything happened to him because he knew that he (Cliff) would take care of them. I think John Peter must have known by this time that Pippi had a crush on Mimi. Sure enough, in 1970, at the age of 41, John Peter died of lung cancer, leaving my grandmother with 6 minor children to raise. Mimi and Pippi married two years later in 1972.

Although I have lost three grandparents in nine months, I am very thankful to have my paternal grandmother alive. She says she is not going anywhere anytime soon, and I believe she is probably right. She is really tough and independent and very sharp. She's also very hip because she uses email, has a Facebook account, and leaves comments on my blog. I think I'm the only one of my friends whose grandmother has a Facebook account. She even uses her Facebook account. Oh, and she's also very creative!!

One thing I didn't realize fully before this week was how like my paternal grandfather I am. We were going through his files where he kept his bills and insurance policies and such, and I realized that that must be where I get my organization skills from. Of course, before I met my fiance, I never realized that I was particularly more organized than anyone else. My fiance's file box consists of a large pile of papers with no file folders. Scary!! I know that I didn't get the organization skills from my maternal grandparents because we are still searching for their original wills (I have no clue why the lawyer did not keep the originals). My maternal grandmother was ALWAYS losing things. My maternal grandfather lost his birth certificate after he got to Canada in May, although I know I gave it to him when we were going through my grandmother's things after she died in December.

Anyhow, I will quit rambling for now.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

RootsMagic vs. Legacy - Part IV

Well, after much reading of the instructions, I finally created a source template in RootsMagic. I highly recommend reading all of the instructions in the help menu on source templates and source template language before endeavoring into this. Basically, I copied the template for the state-level certificates online images and added a few additional fields to make it work for a state register online image. Adding the fields was easy enough. The hard part was getting the language right in the footnotes.

For example, some of the Michigan birth registers at FamilySearch Labs reference the volume number and page number, but some only reference an item number and a page number. I know from using FHL microfilm that item number is not always synonymous with volume number. In the cases where an item number is referenced, then instead of putting Michigan Secretary of State, Birth Registrations, 1870, St. Clair County, 8: 118 in the footnote, I need it to say Michigan Secretary of State, Birth Registrations, 1870, St. Clair County, p. 118.

Overall, I was excited that it is possible to get a footnote to say this. It's done with what RootsMagic calls switches. Switches are somewhat like if/then statements. For example, "if the Volume field has content, use this format, and if not, use the other format." I just had to study them for about 30 minutes to understand them in their full capacity. RootsMagic has some good examples in the help menu instructions to help users understand how to use switches.

Another thing I like about RootsMagic is that I can still share an event with witnesses that are not in my database. Once I enter a marriage, I can click on "share" and then choose to type in the name if it is not someone already in my database. Once I am done, I can click on the "share" button again, and the names of the two witnesses to the marriage pop up. This is just nice because the witnesses, whether or not relatives already in the database, can be easily found. In Legacy, I have to open up the master source detail screen and look at the text for the marriage record, if I chose to put the text of the source in the database. Or I have to open up the image of the marriage record, assuming I attached that to the source detail. Also, in Legacy, if the witness is not in my database, I have no way to attach a source to him/her.

I'm just still trying to decide if I really want to do another software conversion. I think I do, but it's hard to commit to reformatting all my sources. I still need to play around with the reporting features. I need to go back to my genealogy to-do list and see what kinds of reports I am using for each family file. I need to make sure RootsMagic can produce these reports. I'm sure that it can, but I still need to verify before fully committing to the switch.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

RootsMagic vs. Legacy - Part III

I just discovered one template in RootsMagic that may be missing. It is the template for a state-level registration that is an online image. There is a template for state-level vital records that are online derivatives, and there is a template for state-level certificates that are online images. Neither one of these quite fits what I'm looking for. I'm looking at the Michigan state-level birth registers that are digitized at FamilySearchLabs. The state-level certificates, online images template doesn't work because there is not a field to put the volume number in the source detail. Since the registrations I'm looking at are actual images and not just derivatives, the derivatives template won't work either. Hmmm....time to experiment with creating a new template. That may have to wait until tomorrow, as it seems like a daunting task, and it is getting late. I am printing out all of the instructions for creating a new template. At first glance, I think I will copy the vital record state-level certificate online image template and add a field for the volume number and alternate fields for the county and year, as sometimes FamilySearchLabs does not reference the volume number.

Another thing I noticed is that if I import my family tree directly out of Legacy 7.0, the sources get all jumbled up in the import. It seems like a pretty major problem. This may be what prevents me from switching to RootsMagic. I will have to reformat just about all my sources in RootsMagic. As much as I like all the features of RootsMagic, I'm not sure if I like them enough to reformat 99% of my sources. I have a feeling that importing a GEDCOM will have the same result because I had major problems with the source format when uploading a GEDCOM exported from Legacy 7.0 to Rootsweb's WorldConnect. I think it has something to do with the format of Legacy's source templates more than it has to do with RootsMagic or Rootsweb. Hmm...something to think about.

I'll let you all know how creating the source template goes!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

RootsMagic vs. Legacy - Part II

This post will probably not be as long as Part I, but I just have to lament on here for a moment.

At first, I was very excited that I could share a child's birth event in RootsMagic with the parents. It would then show up in the parent's fact list in the edit person screen with the parent's age at the time of the child's birth. Well, I think I may have figured out one major area where Legacy excels over RootsMagic. REPORTING!!! There were very few options that I could change when generating a family group sheet. Every fact/event was added to the family group sheet. I like my family group sheets to be simple and contain only birth, marriage, death, and burial info for each person. I don't like every single event showing up. How does sharing a child's birth play into this? Well, on my parents' family group sheet, my birth is showing up under my mom's name, along with her birth and the births of my siblings. I only want her birth to show up. I tried going into her edit person screen and making my birth a private event, but this made it a private event for me too. Making it private doesn't allow it to show up anywhere on the family group sheet, even under my name. I looked for ways to exclude certain events, but the only way was to make an event private. Legacy is much more flexible about choosing what events to put in a family group sheet. Maybe I will have to use RootsMagic as my working database and Legacy as my reporting database.

UPDATE: I think I figured something out in RootsMagic. By going to the Fact Type List, I can choose a fact type and then edit it's properties. One of the items to check is Include in Family Group Sheets. This solves most of my problem. The only problem is that I can't tell a birth to not show up in family group sheets. But I can create an event called "Birth of child" and tell this not to show up in family group sheets. At least I can share this event between the two parents because otherwise, it defeats some of my excitement about sharing.

RootsMagic vs. Legacy - Part I

Since I've decided to take the RootsMagic cruise, I've been testing out their software. From some reviews I'd seen of it, I thought that it wasn't much different from Legacy. However, since I've been using it in the last twelve hours and testing out some of the features, I *think* I like it better than Legacy. Who knows? Maybe I will be converted to RootsMagic by the time of the cruise. I really don't want to change software again, but I really like several features of RootsMagic.

First, the layout of RootsMagic is more telling on the screen. In the family view, a couple and their children are shown with the full birth and death info on the screen for each child. In Legacy, each child is listed in the family view, but it only has the name of the child and the birth and death years, such as "John Doe (1896-1940)." I had the full family view using FTM and was slightly disappointed when I switched to Legacy and no longer had the full view. There is an option in Legacy to toggle over a child to see the full info in a popup box, but even then, some of the info is cut off.

In RootsMagic, I can also see the age at marriage in the family view for the husband, wife, or child highlighted. In Legacy, you can see the age at marriage, but you have to click on the marriage information screen to see this. It does not show up in family view. For the child's marriage age in Legacy, you would have to go into the child's family view and then click on his or her marriage info screen, so that involves even more clicking!

I also like that it's much easier to share an event between individuals in RootsMagic than in Legacy. Legacy requires a lot of clicking and switching screen shots to copy and paste an event. In RootsMagic, I can just double click on the event in the edit person screen, then click on "share" to the right, and choose the other people involved in the event. I can choose as many people as I want and even add new people that are not already in my database. I think this is going to be really great for census records. I can also assign roles to these people.

Another neat thing in RootsMagic is that you can share a child's birth event with the parents. In the parent's edit person screen, the child's birth shows up in the facts list, and the parent's age at the time of the child's birth is given. In Legacy, the child's birth only shows up in the Chronology view for a parent. It does not show up in the edit person view. I think that in Legacy, I could create a "Child Birth" event, but then it would show up double on the chronology view/report, unless I told it to not use this event in reports. Still, the parent's age would not show up in the edit person view. Only the event and the description of the event would show up.

The sourcing function in RootsMagic is more sophisticated than Legacy's. They both have templates based on Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained, but RootsMagic has more specific and accurate templates than Legacy does. For instance, I'm frequently having to override Legacy's templates to get them to look like Elizabeth Shown Mills' citations, but I find that I do not have to do this in RootsMagic. RootsMagic does not give the option to override, but it does give the option to create my own template, which Legacy does not do. I would prefer to create my own template rather than override. So far, I have not even had to create my own template, however, because the ones provided by RootsMagic have mimicked Mills' citations to the tee. I think that Legacy's templates are more generic and have more bugs in them.

Of course, I am still not done testing out RootsMagic, so I have labeled this post "Part I." I'm sure that I will come up with some more features to compare. I do have to note that Legacy does have excellent customer service. Once, I sent a request to the Help Desk to add a template for the 1890 Veterans' Census - Online Images. I got an email back from Geoff Rasmussen, co-founder of Millenia Corporation, telling me that it would be in the next update. Now that's customer service!!

One thing that I do like about Legacy better than RootsMagic is that Legacy allows me to source the mother and father relationship. I got around that in RootsMagic by creating an event called "Father Relationship" and "Mother Relationship." I'm just not sure how this event will show up in reports. I know that in Legacy, I can choose "show relationships" for reports, and the sources will show up on the report. Though the function does not work properly on family group sheets in Legacy. There is still a bug they have to fix. I usually use the function in Individual Reports in Legacy instead.

UPDATE: Sue tells me that in the edit person screen, underneath the person's name, is the name of the person's spouse(s) and parents. Sure enough, if I highlight the person's parents, to the right is a button called "Sources." The person's relationship (birth, adoption, step, etc) to the parents is above this. So this is where I can source mother and father relationships. Thanks, Sue!

Another Longer Update

Just wanted to announce that I have decided to go on the RootsMagic Valentines Cruise in February 2010!!! I am super excited!! I don't even use RootsMagic, but Legacy's cruise always leaves from Europe or South America or somewhere exotic that I can't quite afford to get to. This one leaves from Miami, well within my budget...yay!! It is a 7-day cruise that goes to the Royal Caribbean's private beach in Haiti, then to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, before heading back to Miami. The classes all take place during the two full days at sea and half a day on the day in Haiti. I'm excited because the Genealogy Guys will be speakers, and I absolutely love their show! My mom is probably going with me, but she won't be taking the genealogy classes. My dad may go as well if he can get the vacation time. I figure I need something to look forward to since the wedding is now in limbo.

I'm also excited about going to see my sister in northern California this fall! She just moved into a Victorian home built about 1910, so we're going to see what kind of genealogy we can dig up on the house. She lives about 45 minutes outside of Sacramento. We plan to take day trips to San Francisco (probably a weekend trip), Napa Valley, Sacramento, and to see the Redwoods. Maybe even Lake Tahoe, depending on how long I stay. I'm just waiting for my supervisor to return from medical leave before I go. And for my sister and brother-in-law to get settled in their new house. It will probably be late October.

In the meantime, I'm going to New Orleans with Cade next weekend for a Labor Day getaway. We need a relaxing trip after all the turmoil of calling off the wedding. And we are thinking of taking a weekend trip to Pensacola at the end of September.

Anyhow, just so excited about my trips, I had to share!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pemberton Obituary Project: Eliza Jane (Pemberton) Finkle

I just noticed that I don't have an obituary for my 3rd great-grandmother, Mary Ann (Coombs) Pemberton. She was married to John C. Pemberton. I know from her death record that she died in Sep 1913 in Detroit. I have a feeling that there is probably not an obituary for her, considering that she was a woman and it was 1913. In addition, she died in such a large metropolitan area and was not particularly wealthy. Prior to her husband's death in Nov 1912, she seems to have lived in Macomb County, Michigan. When she died, she was living with her son in Detroit (Wayne County). I'm assuming she moved in with her son sometime after her husband's death in Nov 1912 and her death in Sep 1913. The Macomb County newspaper obits are indexed online at the website of the Mount Clemens Public Library, and while I found her husband in the index, I can't seem to find an index entry for her. I think I will still put it on my to-do list to check the actual newspapers in Macomb County, just in case she was missed in the index, and to check Detroit papers, just in case she did have an obit there.

Next on my list is Stephen Pemberton, but I don't have an obit for him either. He was the second child of Jeremiah Pemberton and Susanna Jermyn and John C. Pemberton's younger brother. According to John's Civil War pension application, Stephen died from an illness contracted while fighting in the same unit as John. He died in Limaville, Stark, Ohio. It looks like the Stark County Republican is available from the time period at the Ohio Historical Society. It would be interesting to see if there are any reports of a traveling soldier dying there. John said he was taking Stephen home to see their mother one last time before he died. John had to leave him in Limaville and continue on to Michigan to get their mother. She arrived just before he died.

After Stephen comes Eliza Jane (Pemberton) Finkle. Eliza was the third child of Jeremiah and Susanna. Luckily, I do have an obit for Eliza.

From Port Huron (Michigan) Times-Herald, 21 April 1927, p. 7.

Mrs. Eliza Finkle, 82, died at the family residence, 1804 Scott avenue, Wednesday afternoon.

She is survived by three sons, Hayes W. Finkle, this city, William K. Finkle, Tashmoo Park, Roy D. Finkle, Saginaw; two daughters, Mrs. Harry Knight, Lansing, Mrs. Thomas Leslie, Sandusky; a brother, Charles Pemberton, Algonac; two sisters, Mrs. Sarah Jones, this city, Mrs. Agnes Phelps, Algonac; one grandchild and one great-grandchild.
I just noticed that this announcement does not actually list the funeral arrangements. I should probably go back and check to see if there is another announcement that does mention them.

One interesting thing to note is that Eliza's son, Jerry Finkle, died just three days before she did. He was actually buried on the day that she died. He died of heart disease in Toledo, Ohio, and was buried at Lakeside Cemetery in Port Huron, Michigan. From cemetery records, I know that Eliza was also buried at Lakeside.

Eliza also had another son, Burton Finkle, who died in Nov 1909 in Cleveland after being run over by a train.

I just realized that I don't have an obit for Eliza's husband, David Finkle. I do have his death record, which states that he died 1 Apr 1915 in Port Huron. I just added it to my to-do list to search for the obit next time I am in Michigan.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pemberton Obituary Project: John C. Pemberton

I'll begin my series of Pemberton obituaries with the obit of my 3rd-great-grandfather and oldest child of Jeremiah and Susanna (Jermyn) Pemberton.

From The Richmond (Michigan) Review, 6 Dec 1912:

The body of John Pemberton was laid to rest in Centennial cemetery last Saturday, services being held in the Baptist church, Rev. E.K. Smith officiating.

John Pemberton was born in Blennem, Canada, in 1839, and moved to the United States at the age of fifteen. He enlisted in the 1st Michigan Cavalry, Co. C, at the age of twenty-four years and served until the close of the war. After receiving his honorable discharge he moved to Michigan, where he has since made his home.

The deceased was married to Mary A. Combs in 1865, at New Baltimore. Mr. Pemberton leaves a widow, two daughters, two sons, three brothers and three sisters
This obituary was the first record I discovered that gave his religious preference, or at least the religious preference of a close family member: Baptist. Though it seems his parents were Anglican, as they married in the Anglican cathedral in Toronto. I've done a little research on Baptist churches in Richmond, Michigan, and found two that are there today. The one with a website is called Community Baptist Church. It did not include a history on its website, and it had a modern church feel. The other church without a website was First Baptist Church. This is probably more likely where John's funeral was held, though there could have been another Baptist church that is no longer in existence. This is something to research.

This was also the first source I had for his place of birth, though I later found it listed as Hamilton, Wentworth, Ontario, in his army enlistment records. There is no "Blennem" according to the Ontario Locator, but there is a city called Blenheim in Harwich Township in Kent County, and a township called Blenheim in Oxford County. I should probably re-think whether or not his obit referred to Kent or Oxford County, since I have no other evidence of his family being in either Kent or Oxford. For some reason, I was sure it was Kent, but I think that's only because Kent is closer to Michigan, where the family ended up. Oxford is closer to Wentworth and York Counties, where he may have been born and where is parents married.

John actually enlisted in 1861 when he was 22 years old, not 24 years old.

When the obit says that he moved to Michigan after his discharge, I think it may have meant that he moved to Macomb County. He had been in Michigan prior to the Civil War, according to the 1860 census record.

The two sons left behind were referring to his oldest child, Burton J. Pemberton, and my great-great-grandfather, Lovell Hugh Pemberton. The two daughters were Elva M. (Pemberton) Harriman and Myrtle Lavina (Pemberton) Finkle. He had a third daughter, Grace Mary (Pemberton) Leonardson, but she had died in 1909.

His three brothers were Samuel, William Thomas, and Charles Pemberton. His fourth brother, Stephen Pemberton, had died in 1862 or 1863 during the Civil War.

His three sisters were Sarah Maria (Pemberton) Morrison Jones, Eliza Jane (Pemberton) Finkle, and Agnes Emma (Pemberton) Phelps. This makes me think that his sister, Ella (Pemberton) Fink, had died before 1912, especially since I can't seem to find her in the 1910 census. I have it on my to-do list to order the Lucas County, Ohio, deaths from 1896-1908 on microfilm at the FHL.

Something else of interest that I noticed this time. Underneath the headline "John Pemberton" it reads "From The People's Advocate." I can't seem to find a newspaper in either Macomb or St. Clair County called this. The only one in Michigan that I can find is in Manistee, which is very far away from Macomb County in northwest Michigan. I don't know that John ever lived in Manistee. I even searched in Canada, but only came up with one in Vancouver, British Columbia, which is very far away!! Hmm....something to investigate.

Pemberton Obituary Project: Intro

To ease myself back into blogging, I've decided to post a series of obituaries on my Pemberton ancestors. Before I start posting the obituaries, I will give an introduction to the family. As stated in previous posts, the Pemberton's are my maternal grandfather's line. This is one of my many Michigan lines. My mother was born and raised in Michigan, so at least 50% of my lines have Michigan ties. Over the last two years, I've been collecting obituaries, primarily from Michigan, on this side of the family.

The farthest back I've traced the Pemberton line is to my 4th great-grandparents, Jeremiah Pemberton and Susanna Jermyn. Jeremiah was born about 1812, probably in New York. Susanna was born about 1820, most likely either in Ireland, England, or Canada. They married at St. James (Anglican) Cathedral in Toronto on 19 Nov 1836. Their oldest child, John, my 3rd great-grandfather, was born 3 Apr 1839 in either Hamilton in Wentworth County, Ontario or in Blenheim in Kent County, Ontario. His enlistment record for the Civil War states Hamilton, while his obituary states "Blennem." I have a feeling that he was born in Hamilton, and the family later moved to Kent County. By the time of the 1860 census, Jeremiah and Susanna had settled in Brownstown Township in Wayne County, Michigan. According to several records, their youngest child, Charles Pemberton, was born in Michigan on 11 Sep 1856. All other children seem to have been born in Ontario. Between 1860 and 1865, Jeremiah and Susanna again relocated north to Clay Township in St. Clair County, Michigan. Jeremiah died on 7 Jul 1881 in Clay, and Susanna died on 24 Apr 1891 in Clay.

Jeremiah and Susanna had the following children:

1) John C. Pemberton was born 3 Apr 1839 in either Hamilton, Wentworth, Ontario, or Blenheim, Kent, Ontario. He married Mary Ann Coombs on 30 Dec 1865 in New Baltimore, Macomb, Michigan. They had five known children. He died on 27 Nov 1912 in New Haven, Macomb, Michigan. Mary died on 14 Sep 1913 in Detroit at the home of their oldest child, Burton.

2) Stephen Pemberton was born about 1842 in Ontario. He died about 1862 or 1863 in Limaville, Stark, Ohio, during his service in the Civil War. According to John's pension record, he and Stephen were in the same unit. Stephen became sick, and he and John were en route back home to Michigan when Stephen died. John later turned himself in for desertion and returned to his unit.

3) Eliza Jane Pemberton was born 16 Sep 1844 in Ontario. She married David Finkle on 27 Apr 1865 in Clay, St. Clair, Michigan. They had 7 known children. Eliza died on 20 Apr 1927 in Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan. David died on 1 Apr 1915 in Port Huron.

4) Agnes Emma Pemberton was born 16 Mar 1846 in Ontario. She married Joseph Putnam Phelps on 22 Jan 1867 in Clay. They had 6 known children. Agnes died on 29 Dec 1931 in Clay. Joseph died on 15 Mar 1919 in Clay.

5) Samuel Pemberton was born 18 Sep 1847 in Ontario. He married Ellen McCoy on 25 Nov 1871 in Algonac, St. Clair, Michigan. They had 5 known children. Samuel died on 14 Aug 1917 in Raber, Chippewa, Michigan. Ellen died on 14 Oct 1909 in Sault Ste. Marie, Chippewa, Michigan.

6) William Thomas Pemberton was born 5 Aug 1849 in Ontario. He married Hannah Jane Winters on 25 Nov 1871 in Algonac (same day as his brother, Samuel, married Ellen McCoy). They had 9 known children. William died on 12 Jan 1915 in Shelldrake, Chippewa, Michigan. Hannah died on 9 Feb 1925 in Muskegon, Muskegon, Michigan.

7) Sarah Maria Pemberton was born 3 Jun 1851 in Ontario. She married Reuben Morrison on 20 May 1871 in Detroit. They had 2 known children. Reuben died on 7 Apr 1892 in Wales, St. Clair, Michigan. Sarah married Charles F. Jones on 9 May 1910 in Sault Ste. Marie. Sarah died on 9 Feb 1941 in Marysville, St. Clair, Michigan. Charles died on 15 Mar 1941 in Marysville.

8) Elmira "Ella" Pemberton was born Jun 1854 in Ontario. She married Jacob Fink about 1871 in St. Clair County, Michigan (curiously, the marriage was recorded as occurring in 1894, though Jacob states in John's pension record that he was married to John's sister in the spring of 1871...their first child was born in Sep 1872). They had 9 known children. Jacob and Ella had moved to Toledo, Ohio, by 1900. They appear to have died there between 1900 and 1910.

9) Charles Pemberton was born 11 Sep 1856 in Michigan. He married Blanche Poole/Blankerts (she was born a Blankerts and adopted by a family named Poole) on 8 Aug 1879 in Algonac. They had 9 known children. Blanche died on 7 Mar 1928 in Algonac. Charles married Aurelia Blanche Wagner between Mar 1928 and Apr 1930. Charles died on 29 Jul 1939 in Port Huron. Aurelia died 27 Oct 1946 in Algonac.