Tombstone Tuesday – Alexander McCleary

Today’s Tombstone Tuesday post actually features the tombstone for my 3rd great grandfather, Alexander McCleary. Alexander is buried in Chandler Cemetery in Marseilles township in Wyandot County, Ohio.

Alexander McCleary
15 Aug 1879 – 26 May 1865


Mystery Monday – The Wandering Links

Mystery Monday is a blogging prompt from Geneabloggers that encourages bloggers to write about any mystery records they may have or any unsolved genealogical “mysteries” that they have come across.  After spending the past several weeks going through the electronic copies of Census records that I have, I find myself still faced with a mystery that has plagued me since I started doing my family history research – the wandering Links.

When I first started out on my family history adventure, my mother had suggested that for her father’s family line, I do some searching in Arkansas.  Specifically, a town called Paragould, Arkansas.  She wasn’t able to tell me specifically why I needed to look there, she only knew that growing up, she had heard stories and talk that there were family roots in Arkansas.  It seemed odd to me at the time (and to Mom as well) since to her knowledge, the Link family was from Wyandot County Ohio and had been there for as long as she could remember.  When I did my early research, one of the items in my survey phase was to go walk the cemeteries of Wyandot County and find and document the gravestones of any ancestors buried there.  I was quite successful in that, and found the gravestones for my ancestors back several generations, including the Link family.  What I had in front of me back then was documentation of generations of the family living in the same county plus birth and burial records in that county.  I chalked up the family talk of Arkansas as likely just a trip to Arkansas or perhaps some distant relative who had moved out west.  Then came the Census records and the mystery.

As I traced my 2nd great grandfather, Isaac Link, through Census records, I began to realize that there was probably more to the Arkansas information than I had first thought.  My survey of Census records found Isaac in 1860 and 1870 living with his parents in Eden Township in Wyandot County, Ohio.  The 1880 Census had Isaac married to Anna and still living in Eden Township with the first three of their seven children.  Isaac was working as a farm laborer at the time, and his extended family all still lived in the same area.  Something changed after the 1880 Census, though.  During the 20 year gap in Census records, Isaac, Anna and some of their children began moving around.  (It’s Murphy’s Law of genealogy that something significant like that would involve the period around the missing 1890 Census.)

In 1900, I suddenly find Isaac living in Titus County, Texas with his son, William.  My great grandfather, Newton, is still living in Ohio (with his wife Lola and their daughter), and Isaac’s wife, Anna, is no where to be seen in Texas.  Isaac is listed as the head of the household, and he has his son and 11 boarders living in the household.  Isaac is listed as a “Stave Contractor” and the boarders are all listed as “Stave Makers.”  Based on the research that I have found so far, I am so far working under the hypothesis that these men were working in the barrel making industry at the time.

I went looking for Isaac in the 1910 Census, hoping to find him one last time (he died on December 12, 1910).  Unfortunately, I have yet to find Isaac in that Census year.  Interestingly, I have found his wife Anna living with one of their daughters in Alabama in 1910, but Isaac is not listed as part of the household, and Anna is definitely listed as being married.  Adding to the mystery is that Isaac’s obituaries (I have found two so far) all indicate that he died “at his home” in Dublin, Georgia!  Unfortunately, I have yet to find any death records for Isaac because the state of Georgia did not start officially using death certificates until 1920, so according to the incredibly helpful county recorder in Dublin, an official death certificate was most likely never created for Isaac.

I have found Census records for a few of Isaac’s sons and daughters throughout Alabama and even Louisiana so far, with one son, Orville, even still listed as a “Stave Maker” in 1900, a “Timber man” in 1910 and then “Stave Contractor” in 1920.

So I am faced with several lingering research questions…. Why did Isaac up root his young family and begin traveling west?  Where were Anna and the young children living in 1900 when Isaac was in Texas?  What prompted Isaac to go into the barrel making industry?  Was he successful and that was why the family traveled so much, or was he less than successful and was forced to travel to keep work?  Where was Isaac in 1910 and why was Anna not with him?  I have no doubt that this genealogical mystery is going to provide years of research fun for me and take me to courthouses and libraries across the south, from Texas to Alabama and Georgia and of course, Paragould, Arkansas!

Sunday’s Obituary – Mary (Dickson) Link

Obituary for Mary Link
(Upper Sandusky, Ohio,
Wyandot County Republican,
23 Sept 1897

This week, my Sunday Obituary is the oldest published obituary that I have in my collection.  Mary (Dickson) Link was my 3rd Great Grandmother.  As the obituary says, she was born Oct 7, 1822 in Ohio.  She married Shepley Holmes Link on February 23, 1847.  Mary and Shepley had 14 children together. (Can you imagine?!)

One item in Mary’s obituary that caught my eye was the sentence, “She was converted under the preaching of Rev. J.V. Updike in 1875, and gave her hand to the church and her heart to God, and His grace sustained her through sorrow and affliction.”  The reason that this sentence caught my attention was that my 3rd great grandfather died in 1875.  What this tells me is that Mary may have either had a conversion moment during her sorrow over loosing her husband of nearly 30 years or that in the course of her grieving, she “found religion” and chose to convert.  One thing I have not yet discovered, is what religion Mary converted to.  That, I am afraid, will have to remain on my “Research To Do List” for a while yet.

Surname Saturday – Hill

Five of the Hill Siblings

This week’s Surname Saturday post is ironically the surname that I heard the most about growing up, but one of the ones that I have actually learned the least about – Hill.  Growing up, Mom always talked about her mother’s family and told stories of Grandma and her siblings (Mom could recite all 11 Hill Siblings in birth order as if it were simply saying her own name).  But ironically, once I get past my 2nd Great Grandfather on that side, I have a very hard time finding information on the family (at least digitized information).

Surname: Hill

Variations: None known to date, but Mom was pretty sure that when the family came over from Germany, the family name was much longer and that Hill was an “Americanized” version.

Origins:  I have traced the family name as far back as Samuel P. Hill who was born in Pennsylvania in 1830.  I have un-proven information that Samuel’s father was a Rudolph Hill who came from Germany, but I have not been able to substantiate that information up to this point.  From Pennsylvania, Samuel moved to Ohio settling in the north central part of the state in Richland and then Wyandot Counties.  The Hill family stayed mostly in Ohio, but some members moved around to other parts of the country.  I am still working on tracing more descendants of Samuel Hill to see if I am able to link up with other parts of the family.

Challenges:  Probably my biggest challenge has been simply finding digitized information on the family origins.  I am relatively convinced that the Hill family will be the one for which I make the most research trips to distant courthouses!

Funeral Card Friday – Franklin J. Hill

Today’s Funeral Card Friday post is for my grand-uncle, Franklin J. Hill.  Unfortunately, I can’t say that I particularly remember my grand uncle as I probably only met him a handful of times, and he passed away when I was only 8.  I remember Mom talking about “Uncle Frankie” from time to time, but that is about it.

Franklin was the youngest child of my great grandparents, John and Clara (Paessler) Hill.  Frankie was born 09 Aug 1923, and died 5 March 1979.

Thrifty Thursday – DeKalb County, Indiana Resources

If you’ve been reading much of my blog, you know that most of my research up to this point has focused pretty much in two areas, Northwest/Northcentral Ohio and Northeast Indiana.  I consider myself pretty fortunate that my Indiana research is almost exclusively limited to DeKalb County.  In my opinion it makes the process so much easier simply because of the incredible wealth of resources that are available to me and many of them are free!  I have listed below just a few of the links that I use in my research. has been a great resource for finding historical texts that are online. (The link takes you to a search for DeKalb County Indiana resources.)

The GenWeb page for DeKalb County is well maintained and on several occasions has pointed me to the source records that I need.

The Indiana County History Preservation Society is a page that I have used only a few times, but it is a good resource for general county history.

The Willennar Genealogy Center has several resources available online and if you are local to DeKalb County, it is a resource that you don’t want to miss!

And of course, no list of resources would be complete without mentioning the Wiki!

This list is by no means a comprehensive list of the resources that I have used, but it should give you plenty of places to start and will definitely lead you to others.

Happy digging!

Workday Wednesday – What was a "Book Agent"?

Over the past month or so, I have been holding off on new “research” in the form of looking for new records, and instead focusing my research on a more in-depth analysis of records that I had obtained in my early genealogy work.  I made the mistake early on, as I suspect many new researchers do, of getting the data I wanted from a record and moving on too quickly without fully analyzing the record.  Going back into some of these previously documented sources is proving to be incredibly interesting, enlightening and in some cases, it is providing me with new mysteries.  The 1880 occupation of Curtis Washler is one such mystery.
Curtis Washler was my Great Grandfather on Dad’s side.  He and his wife, Christiana, were married in 1877.  When I first found them in the 1880 Census, Curtis and Christiana were living with her parents, Isaac and Mary Ann Farver on their farm in Jackson Township in DeKalb County, Indiana.  Nothing in the Census record was particularly “unusual” other than Curtis’s occupation.  As you can see here, Curtis’s occupation is listed as “Book Agent.”  Hmmm…Book Agent…what on earth is a Book Agent?  I can safely assume that this is not some sort of literary career in this instance simply because there isn’t anything else that I have found to date to indicate that Great Grandpa Curtis was involved in the literary industry.  The next Census available (1900) shows Curtis as a farmer in Concord township (on what has been the family farm since that time).  Leave it to Murphy’s Law to put this mystery smack around the lost 1890 Census!

The only other clue that I have actually confuses the issue even further.  In History of DeKalb County, Indiana : together with sketches of its cities, villages and towns … and biographies of representative citizens : Also a condensed history of Indiana (Chicago : Inter-State Publishing Co., 1885), Curtis is listed as being the proprietor of a saloon in St. Joe, Indiana.  I have a hypothesis that somehow “Book Agent” is perhaps related to the operation of the Saloon (maybe something to do with gambling?).  It should be interesting to follow this trail and see just what a “book agent” was in 1880.  I have the feeling that once I find the answer to this question, it will definitely rate another blog post!