Patriot Ancestor #2 – Robert McCleary

Patriot Ancestor #2 – Robert McCleary

03e2f-acquia_marina_logoMany people would consider themselves privileged to be able to trace their lineage back to even one person who was among the original patriots who fought for America’s independence.  Back in 2013, I was beyond overjoyed to get notification that the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution had approved my application proving my family’s lineage back to Adam Link, one of those patriots.  This week, I now count our family among the truly fortunate, as it appears that I’ve been able to prove our lineage back to yet another patriot who fought for the cause of American independence!

This journey started not with a mission as my first one did, but with an accidental discovery.  This past Christmas, my wife and kids and I went up to Indiana and Kentucky to2015-12-28 14.56.05 visit family for the Holidays, and while we were in Louisville, I decided to take the opportunity to visit the SAR National Headquarters in Louisville.  While there, my kids and wife were patient enough to let me to a little bit of research in the SAR library.  As I was doing what was more or less random surname searches (I hadn’t really planned on doing any research, so I didn’t have a true objective – not a great place to be normally), I found a few old Daughters of the American Revolution applications that were tracing lineage back to a Robert McCleary.  The applications mentioned Alexander McCleary as one of his children.  I knew that Alexander was my great, great, great-grandfather, so to say the least – the hunt was on!

My first step in the process was to order the record copy of the DAR application to see if it would be admissible now.  Last year, both the DAR and SAR adopted policies that resulted in many older applications (pre-1985) be inadmissible as lineage evidence without further research being done. While the policy is a very good one for the genealogical integrity of future applications, it can have the result of a previous application providing nothing more than “sign posts” to where to do further research.  In my case, I was somewhat lucky and unlucky at the same time.  This application is likely on the border of being admissible.  But where I lucked out was that the supporting documentation for the file exists and gave me hard genealogical evidence for my application.

When Robert McCleary died in 1827, he apparently died intestate and left behind his wife, Jane, and eight children, one of whom (Mary) was a minor.  One of Robert and Jane’s older daughters, Nancy, filed a suite in Orphan’s Court to request a division of Robert’s land and to become the legal guardians of young Mary.  The transcript of this suite was contained in the DAR supporting documentation, and quite specifically laid out the relationships among Robert, his wife, and their children. In addition to the Orphan’s Court proceedings, the DAR documentation included a copy of the will that Jane left behind when she died years later in 1851. (Apparently, Jane learned a lesson from Robert having not left a will behind.)

These two pieces of evidence helped to take care of what I have found to be one of the harder genealogical tasks – proving family relationships in the late 1700s and early 1800s.  For those time periods, Wills, land transfer records and bible records are often the only significant clues left behind, and at least so far in my family research, those clues have been extremely sparse!  Proving Robert and Jane’s birth and death dates were also made much easier by the fact that both of their gravestones still exist in decent shape and the various court documents made mention of their death dates.

Proving the family relationships for Robert on down to my generation was relatively easy because their was a significant paper trail of the lives of the various generations.  The only other generation that I had to rely on something other than an official public record was for Robert’s son, Alexander.  Ohio didn’t start doing death and birth certificates until the early 1900s, so for Alexander and his wife Elizabeth’s birth and death dates, I had to rely on their tombstones.  Again, thankfully, their stones were of the type that listed not only their date of death, but also specifically spelled out how old they were when they died – 66 years, 9 months and 11 days in the case of Alexander.

My lineage from Robert McCleary is:

Robert McCLEARY b. 1761
d. 7 Jan 1827
m. Jane CLOGSTON (?) in 1790

Alexander McCLEARY b. 15 Aug 1798
d. 26 May 1865
m. Elizabeth McCORMICK (?)

Hannah McCLEARY b. 12 Feb 1835
d. 4 Oct 1908
m. Samuel Hill 18 Nov 1869

Franklin J. Hill b. 26 Feb 1873
d. 4 Jun 1935
m. Clara Paessler 18 Apr 1901

Hannah Hill b. 24 Jul 1903
d. 28 Sep 1978
m. Earl Link 16 Jun 1925

Suzanne LINK b. 14 Jul 1944
d. 27 Dec 2006
m. Edwin WASHLER 27 Jul 1968

Christopher WASHLER



The Unexpected Biblical Inspiration

Wow…Two years.  It’s been almost two years since I last wrote a genealogy blog post!  I wish I had some earth-shattering reason for it, but I guess that life just got in the way.  Things got busy around home, other project took priority, and has happened so many times over the years that I’ve been tracing my family history – my research got shelved and all but forgotten.  

Amazingly, as it has happened almost every time in the past, some random event has once again lit that fire deep down inside of me that fuels my passion for tracing my family roots.  This time, the inspiration came very unexpectedly and almost not at all.
One of my relatives has moved into a much smaller home and as a result, the old house and many possessions needed to be taken care of.  To make a long story short, many items from the house ended up in an online auction.  My siblings and I all decided that there were certain things we would probably bid on because we had memories of them, or we had at least a strong idea of where they may have come from.  One item that I almost missed was an old bible.  Actually, I have to admit that I DID miss it the first time through – it was my wife who brought the item to my attention.
Since the pictures of the bible on the auction website showed that the bible had been given to my great great grandmother by her husband, I decided that I would try to buy it to keep it in the family.  I set my limit, and away we went.  Over the course of the 5 day on-line auction, I was outbid several times.  I almost gave up because the price was getting pretty close to what I thought I should reasonably spend.  After all, if it really had any importance, it wouldn’t have made it into the auction, right?  So I set one more upper limit and let it ride.  As luck would have it, the person I had been bidding against apparently had a lower upper limit than I did, and I ended up winning the auction.
And thank God I did!!!!
Okay, before I go further, it’s confession time – when I was bidding, I have to admit that I never actually LOOKED at the dimensions of the bible.  If I had, I wouldn’t have been so surprised when this box arrived on my doorstep.
My first thought was “Wow, that’s an awfully big box to ship a bible in.”  Then, I opened the box and quickly realized that I had nearly passed up a genuine family heirloom and family history treasure!
That’s no “small” bible!

Look at the SIZE of that book!

These are pictures of the bible sitting next to a regular sized bible.  As you can see, the gigantic box was absolutely necessary because this is no “regular” bible!  Even with the size, I never expected to find what I have inside – there are clippings from family events, a school certificate for one of my great great aunts, and in the back…oh wow!  There are three pages with old tintype photographs in them!  
One of the pages of tintype photos
Unfortunately, at this point I have no idea who the people in most of the photographs are, so I’ll have to do some research there.
Needless to say, this bible has re-ignited that genealogy fire deep inside me, so it’s time to dust off the records, fire up the computer and start digging up some roots once again!

Sunday’s Obituary – Earl C. Link

I haven’t done a Sunday Obituary post in quite a while, so I thought I would do one this week with my grandfather’s obituary.  Actually, I’m doing it with two obituaries for him.  My grandfather, Earl Link, was born in Wyandot County, Ohio, but was living in Ft. Wayne, Indiana when he died.  My grandmother had saved the obituaries from both locations after grandpa passed, and it was interesting to see the difference in the information contained in each.

Obituary for Earl Link
(Ft. Wayne News Sentinel,
5 May 1967, Ft. Wayne, Indiana)
The first of the two obituaries is from Ft. Wayne, where Mom and her parents were living when Grandpa died.  The obituary is much more focused on Grandpa Link’s career and his descendants than it is his earlier life.  Noticeably, the obituary mentions nothing of his parents, his birth or even his marriage.  It simply gives the details of his career and his immediate family.  One of the most significant pieces of information that I gained from this one is that he was a member of a railroad union!  (I’m still working on getting access to those records.)
Obituary for Earl Link
(Paper unknown, 05 May 1967,
Wyandot County, Ohio)
The other obituary that I have for Granpa, comes from his “hometown” newspaper in Wyandot County.  This obituary focuses much more on his family information than the one from Ft. Wayne.  This article talks about Grandpa’s birth, his parents, his marriage to Grandma, as well as the information about his career and surviving family.  This one even mentions Grandma’s parents!  The one piece of information missing here that was in the other is about the union membership.
The difference in the two obituaries makes sense when you think about where each was from and who the readership would have been.  For readers of the Ft. Wayne obituary, the Pennsylvania Railroad was a significant factor in the town, and many people were likely to have known Grandpa because of his years of service to the railroad.  Whereas, in Wyandot County, the readers were much more likely to have known Grandpa and Grandma as children and from their early lives together.  These people would also have known Grandpa and Granma’s parents.

SNGF – How Many Surnames

Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings does a “challenge” every Saturday called, “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.”  I’ve never done a full blog post on one of his challenges, but this one caught my eye just because I
started to wonder about the answer to his question this week.  This week’s challenge was to find out how many different surnames are in your database and what the top one (or five or ten) are and then write a blog post about it.  So here it goes…..

First off, I used my RootsMagic database for this task.  While I use both RootsMagic and Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic is my more up-to-date database because it is the one that I use for my active research.  To answer Randy’s question, I went into RootsMagic and went to the Reports menu, then went to Lists, scrolled down to the “Surnames Statistics” list.  I then chose “Frequency of Surnames” in the report options.

The resulting list actually surprised me.  I have 204 surnames in my database, making about a 5 page report!  I actually expected the list to be shorter since I only have a total of 816 individuals in my database.  I discovered that I have quite a few one person surnames, and quite a few people where apparently, early on in my research, I neglected to list their surname as unknown so they now show up as a one name person with their first name being their surname.  (One more item on my to do list – clean up those unknown surnames!)
My top five surnames with birth date ranges are:
WASHLER – 76 people from 2012 to 1851
LINK – 67 people from 2006 to 1561
LINCK – 38 people 1846 to 1430
WELTY – 34 people from 1968 to 1720
WARSTLER – 30 people 1914 to 1752
The earliest surname in my database is by far LINCK, dating back to 1430.  The next closest surnames are MUELLER, WUERSCHLER, and NEUWIRTH all dating to the early 1600’s.  (I didn’t count LINK in that one simply because it is a continuation of the LINCK surname.)
The most important thing that I discovered out of this exercise is that I have a lot of work to do on fixing those first names that should have a surname of UNK for “Unknown.”

Family History Through the Alphabet – C for Christiana

For 26 posts I will be doing a personal family history journey through the alphabet, one letter at a time.  My personal challenge for this series is that I am going to try to match as many of the letters as I can to first names of my ancestors and research that individual’s life to write a full narrative of their life.  For those letters that I can’t match to an ancestor, the post will be either a) about a artifact or a location where an ancestor lived, or b) educational in nature.  Although the challenge is complete, Alona, the host, is encouraging others to participate anyway.  Additional information on the challenge, can be found at Take the ‘Family History Through the Alphabet’ Challenge


Christiana Farver

As I started writing my next post for the Family History Through the Alphabet, I realized that March is Women’s History Month, so I completely trashed my original post about my great grandfather, Curtis Washler and instead, I will be telling you about my great grandmother, Christiana (Farver) Washler. (Great coincidence that both husband and wife had names starting with C!)

Great Grandma Washler was one of the very first of my ancestors that I “discovered” when I started doing genealogy.  There were probably quite a few reasons for that – we lived on the family farm at the time; she was the mother of my paternal grandfather; her grave was only a few miles from the house and very well marked, and the list could go on.  Even with all of that, I have to say that I actually knew very little about her.

Curtis and Christiana (Farver) Washler
Date Unknown

Christiana S. Farver (I still haven’t found out what the “S” stands for) was born on 21 August 18591.  She was the youngest child to Isaac and Mary Anne (Myers) Farver.  At the time of her birth, the Farvers were living in Concord Township in DeKalb County, Indiana.  By the time of the 1870 census, Christiana’s parents had moved the family to a farm in Jackson Township where Christiana would spend her childhood and the early part of her adutlhood2.

Unfortunately, at this point, I know little of Christiana’s childhood beyond her place of residence.  I know that in May of 1877 at the tender age of 17, Christiana married my great grandfather, Curtis Washler.3  After their marriage, Curtis and Christiana lived for a few years with Christiana’s parents, Issac and Mary Anne Farver on their farm in Jackson Township.  Sometime between the 1880 census and the 1900 census, Curtis and Christiana moved to Concord Township.4  As of yet, I have not found definitive proof of this, but according to family stories, the farm that Curtis and Christiana moved to was most likely the farm that is still in the Washler family today, and is the farm where I grew up.  One of my biggest “to do” items is to go back home and search for the land records to show when Curtis and Christiana bought that property.  (Unfortunately, DeKalb County is a “burned” county, so the search may not turn anything up.)  Based on census data, Curtis and Christiana stayed on the farm in Concord Township for several years until moving to neighboring Newville Township sometime before the 1920 census.

Christiana and Curtis had nine children in all.  Only seven of their children survived to adulthood.  Their children were:

Christiana, Curtis and their children

Leonora         b. 8 Mar 1878       d. 12 Jan 1879
John               b. 24 Feb 1879    d. 26 Jul 1948
Estella            b. 29 Mar 1881    d. 20 Jan 1971
Lillie               b. 18 Feb 1883    d. 24 Oct 1887
Cleveland       b. 15 Feb 1886     d. 27 Nov 1953
Louis              b Feb 1888           d. 14 Jul 1954
Ida                 b. 14 Jan 1890       d. 8 Dec 1987
Adrian            b. 14 Oct 1893      d. 15 Nov 1983
Donald           b. 10 Jun 1898       d. 11 Dec 1975
  (Donald was my grandfather)

Christiana died on 22 May 1935, four years before Curtis.  They are both buried in Riverview Cemetery near Newville, Indiana.

1  I can’t say for sure that Christiana’s birthdate is the 21st, but this is referenced in a family genealogy, “Descendants of Heinrich Worschler,” compiled by Edwin L Wiley, Louiseville, OH.  August 1859 is confirmed by, 1900 United States Federal Census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Concord, De Kalb, Indiana; Roll: T623_366; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 53.
2, 1870 United States Federal Census, Jackson, De Kalb, Indiana; Roll: M593_309; Page: 322A; Image: 161; Family History Library Film: 545808.
3“Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Feb 2014), De Kalb > 1872-1878 Volume 4 > image 231 of 295.
4, 1900 United States Federal Census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Concord, De Kalb, Indiana; Roll: T623_366; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 53.

Digging Up Roots Turns One!

It’s hard to believe it, but this blog turns one year old today!  Happy blogoversary to me!!

Actually, I’d rather say “Thank you” to all of you that actually read my ramblings!  I started this blog last year with the intention that it would be a way for me to motivate myself to work on my genealogy more and actually start writing about some of my findings.  I never really imagined that others would start actually reading what I wrote!  Needless to say, I’m pretty happy with where things are after a year, and I am excited to see where things go from here.

A few things I have learned over the past year of blogging…

1) Even though others are reading my work, I need to write for myself.  I got pretty wrapped up in writing blog posts for a while and it became almost obsessive.  I lost sight of why I started doing this.  I’ve since re-focused and definitely spend more time researching than I do writing now.

2) I need to write consistently.  Ironically, the second big thing I learned is that if I set aside my writing for too long, I get out of practice and get out of the habit of posting my stories.  This defeats the purpose of blogging just as much as getting too obsessive did.

3)  The blog actually can be “cousin bait.”  I never really hoped for my blog to help me find distant cousins, but over the past year, I have actually found a couple “long lost” relatives on various sides of my family!  Talking and corresponding with them has helped me to focus my research at times, find new avenues to pursue in my research, and in one instance – break through a huge brick wall that I had been running into!  One of the things I wanted to do through my genealogy was to reconnect with some of relatives from my mom’s side of the family, and it took doing some blogging to get that underway.

and finally…

4)  I have a lot of education to do for myself on genealogy!  As I said earlier, writing has helped me focus my research, but it has also helped to show me where my weaknesses are in my methodology, documentation, citation, etc.  I think I am definitely a more accomplished and stronger genealogist/family historian than I was a year ago, and I hope that growth continues.

So what’s coming in the next year?  Honestly, I have no idea at this point.  I would say just more consistent posts and a wider variety of stories from more branches of my family tree.

Stay tuned…it should be a fun ride!

Family History Through the Alphabet – B for Bechtel

For 26 posts I will be doing a personal family history journey through the alphabet, one letter at a time.  My personal challenge for this series is that I am going to try to match as many of the letters as I can to first names of my ancestors and research that individual’s life to write a full narrative of their life.  For those letters that I can’t match to an ancestor, the post will be either a) about a artifact or a location where an ancestor lived, or b) educational in nature.  Although the challenge is complete, Alona, the host, is encouraging others to participate anyway.  Additional information on the challenge, can be found at Take the ‘Family History Through the Alphabet’ Challenge


Interstingly, as I was putting together this Family History Through the Alphabet post, I realized something…I have no direct ancestors whose first name began with the letter B!  So I checked for others in my tree with a first name beginning with B…still nothing!  It came down to either I had to switch to a last name for this post, or do a post about my sister.  So, wanting to keep with the family history idea, I moved over to last names.  The first name that came to mind is also one of my biggest genealogical frustrations – the Bechtel family.  (Variations of the name that I have run across include Bechtal and Bechtol.)

My second great grandmother was Caroline Bechtel.  Unfortunately, I know very, very little about Caroline and her family.  I have  found very little in the way of documentation of Caroline’s life to be able to prove or even hypothesize on who her family was prior to her marrying my great great grandfather in 1850.  What I

Caroline Bechtel

do know of Caroline and her family comes from Federal Census records and Ohio Marriage records.  Admittedly, I have not had the opportunity to do “on the ground” research on the Bechtel family due to distance constraints.

Caroline Bechtel was apparently born in 1832 (possibly 3 February according to an undocumented family history passed down to me) in Stark County, Ohio.  Caroline married my great great grandfather on 7 July 1850 in Stark County, and they remained in Stark County until sometime between 1860 and 1870 because by 1870, they appear in the Jackson Township census for DeKalb County, Indiana.

Caroline died on 11 May 1873 at the age of 41 leaving behind John and their nine children.  I did manage to find John and Caroline’s grave marker in Bear Creek Cemetery many years ago though the cemetery was at that time in pretty bad disrepair.

One of my long-term genealogy goals is to find out more about Caroline and her family.  I would love to be able to finally trace the Bechtel family back beyond this one individual.