Dusting off the Blog

Wow…the last few months of 2013 pretty much blew past me!  I looked back today at my blog and realized that from September through the end of the year, I wrote a whopping two posts!  Getting married in November followed immediately by the holidays and some family medical challenges didn’t really help my writing production much, but admittedly, I think I was burning out a little bit on genealogy and on blogging.

The time off has definitely helped though, because that familiar desire to dig into the past has flared up again as well as a desire to write it all down here.  So….time to dust off my blog and get back to telling the stories of my ancestors.

I am going to pick back up on the Family History Through the Alphabet series, and I’ll be throwing in stories from time to time about the genealogy class I am teaching this spring at our local state college.


Family History Through the Alphabet – A is for Anton

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


It’s been a while in the making, but here is the first post of the series….. (Warning – Long post ahead)

“He built the one room school house up the road there.  He had a few kids…one of them went west and was never heard from again.  He might be buried over in that cemetery.”  Those were pretty much the only “facts” that I knew about my great great grandfather, Anton Hablawetz, when I started my genealogy research.  It was not really much to go on.  Actually, it was pretty much nothing to go on.

When I dove into my genealogy about 20 years ago (seems like it was just yesterday), I did some basic “survey” research on Anton because that was about all I knew how to do.  I lucked out and found a biography of him in a local county history book and a copy of his obituary from a local paper that no longer exists.  I obtained a copy of his death record from DeKalb County, and I took some pictures of the old school house before it was torn down.  These few pieces of information that I found gave me a few more clues about Anton…where he may have been from, possibly when he came to the United States, maybe where he is buried.  But since on-line research was much more limited back then than it is now and since I didn’t live up in Indiana any longer, I was stuck on my research into Anton.  So…I set him aside as being a “brick wall.”

Oh sure, I did a few basic searches every now and again when I came back around to that line, but I never really dug in because I figured I was just stuck on him.

Then I made the decision to use Anton for my “Family History Through the Alphabet” series.  I wanted a challenge, and more than that, I wanted to know about great great grandpa Anton!  I’m still nowhere near “done” with my research on Anton, but as you will hopefully see below, I have made incredible strides in finding out who he was, and I even met a couple of long lost cousins along the way!

Early Life

Anton Hablawetz was born on 21 Oct 1827 possibly in the area of Bohemia, Austria (which is now part of the Czech Republic) or Wien (Vienna), Austria to Johann Hablawetz and Rosalia Klettowetz.  Anton appears to have been the youngest of three children – Margarethe, Florian, and Anton.  At this point, I know very little about Anton’s early life prior to his immigration to the United States.  What I do know comes from records found in the United States later in his life.  Sometime in 1849, Anton married Anna Lippert in Austria.  Anton and Anna had possibly as many as 12 children, but apparently only 4 lived into adulthood.  Anton’s first three children (or the first three that I have found records of) were all born in Austria.  John was born in 1850, Maria (Mary) was born either October 8, 1853 or sometime around May of 1856, and Joseph was born sometime around February of 1859.


Anton and Anna, along with Anton’s brother Florian and his wife, Margarethe, immigrated to the United States in 1859.  The records for Castle Garden immigration center in New York harbor (the predecessor to Ellis Island) show that the two Hablawetz families arrived in New York aboard the Republic from Bremen, Germany on 07 Nov 1859.  While both families’ last names are misspelled in the ship’s register as

New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
(Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010),
Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1859.

“Hablerwitz” and Anton is actually identified as “Adam,” correlation of the names and ages of the other family members confirms that this is indeed Anton and Anna.  The ship’s register indicates that both families were bound for Ohio.  At this point, I have not been able to locate the naturalization papers for Anton, Anna or any of the three children, but based on the 1900 Census, it would seem that Anton and John were both naturalized sometime after their arrival in the states.

Life in the States

After arriving in the United States, Anton and his brother both took their families to Ohio where the settled in Plymouth township in Richland County, Ohio.  It actually took me quite a while to find out this little nugget of information.  You see, up until recently, I had very little information on where the Hablawetz family had settled in Ohio.  When I picked my research back up about 9 months ago, I was looking over a marriage record for my great grandfather, Anton’s youngest son, William.  The record indicated that William was born in Plymouth, Ohio.  This bit of information took me on a page by page search for Anton’s family in the 1860 Census.  On a hunch, I started not with the Census records for the village of Plymouth, but with the records for Plymouth Township.  To my amazement, I found Anton’s family, and an explanation as to why they had eluded me for so long.  In the 1860 Census, the first in which Anton and family are found, my dear great great grandfather is listed as “Andrew Hobawantz.”  I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for Anton and Anna in their new home when it seemed no one could even say their names correctly!
A biography of Anton found in History of De Kalb County, Indiana (Interstate Publishing Company, Chicago, IL, 1885) states that Anton moved his family to Indiana in the year 1868.  However, the birth records, baptismal records and several other pieces of evidence point to my great grandfather being born in Ohio in 1869, which would lead to the conclusion that Anton and Anna moved their family to Indiana in late 1869 at the very earliest.  So far, the best that I can say for sure is that they moved sometime between October of 1869 and 5 July 1870 – the day they were enumerated in the 1870 Census in Wilmington Township, De Kalb County, Indiana.  It would appear that Anton moved his family because of opportunity.  By July of 1870, Anton had gone from being a “laborer” in the 1860 Census to a “farmer” and apparent land owner in the 1870 Census.  The 1880 Census still shows Anton farming along with help from his sons, John and Joseph.  By 1900, most of his children have moved away, and Anton is living with Anna and William, my great grandfather.

The biography of Anton that I found of Anton paints his life as a farmer in Indiana in quite the favorable light (as one might expect):

His land was heavily timbered, but he moved his family into a small log cabin, and went bravely to work to clear it and make a farm.  He owns ninety-nine and a half acres, sixty acres of which he has cleared.  His farm shows the care of a thrifty owner.

One thing not mentioned by this biography is that Anton did donate part of his land to the schools.  Situated on the southwest corner of what is now State Road 1 and County Road 40, stood a small one room schoolhouse designated “Wilmington No. 13.”  The plaque which stood over the door credited “A. Hablawetz” as the builder.  I have to give some serious credit to Anton – this small structure stood for well over 100 years as it was only torn down about 15 years ago.  It’s ironic for me that I passed by this small schoolhouse nearly every day during Junior High and High School and I never knew, until after I had graduated, that the brick schoolhouse held such significance in our family history.


According to the 1900 Census, Anton and Anna had twelve children over the course of their marriage, but only 4 had survived up to 1900.  At this point, I have not found information for all twelve of their children, but I have found records indicating at least 8 children.  As I have already mentioned, the oldest three, John, Mary and Joseph, were born in Austria and came to the United States with Anton and Anna.  Thanks to one of my newly found “long lost cousins,” David, I have transcriptions from the baptismal and confirmation records of St. Bernard’s Church in New Washington, Ohio, which show the baptisms of 4 more of Anton’s children born in Ohio – Margaretha (born 4 March 1860), Antonius (born 25 December 1863), another Antonius (born 16 January 1866) and my great grandfather, William Wenceslaus (born 24 October 1869).  Interestingly, Anton and Anna’s daughter, Rosa (Rose) is not shown in the baptismal records, but the 1880 Census indicates that she was born sometime in early 1862.

At this point in my research, I am able to say that the four living children in 1900 were John, Margaretha (Maggie), Rose and my great grandfather, William.  I have found evidence that Mary died fairly young in 1882 after having married Frank Countryman and giving birth to one child.  Joseph appears to have moved west to Kansas where he raised married Mary Bray and raised three children.  Joseph died in 1896 near Kansas City.  I believe that Joseph is probably the “son who went west and was never heard from again.”  Anton’s oldest boy, John, married Lusina Smith in 1887, and remained living near his father until sometime between 1900 and 1910.  From Indiana, John moved to Michigan and then on to Montana.  From what I have found, most of John’s family stayed in the area of Billings, Montana.  Margaretha has been a mystery for me so far.  I find some indications of her working as a servant for families in Auburn, Indiana in the late 1800s and early 1900’s, and that she died sometime in 1911. (Needless to say, I have more research to do there!)  Rose married Jacob Ginder in 1891 and had one daughter, Edna.  Rose died on 12 Dec 1925.  Anton and Anna’s youngest child, my great grandfather, married Nettie Nichols and had two children, Mary (my grandmother) and Robert.  William died 04 November 1957.  Unfortunately, I haven’t found any real information on the two boys named Antonius, other than the baptismal records.  This leads me to believe that both boys died at a very young age.

The End of a Long Life

Obituary – Anton Hablawetz
(The Butler Weekly Record,
21 May 1909)

Anton died on 16 May 1909 at the age of 81 years, 6 months and 25 days.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Anna, on 16 Oct 1903.   Unfortunately, the actual spot of interment for both Anton and Anna is somewhat of a mystery.  Anna’s obituary indicates that she was laid to rest in the Krontz Cemetery in De Kalb County, Indiana; however, Anton’s obituary stated that he was laid to rest in the Ginder Cemetery in the same county.  The two cemeteries are only a few miles apart, and neither is very large, so when I started my research on Anton, I walked both cemeteries to search out the headstones.  Unfortunately, a couple hours’ worth of careful walking yielded absolutely no results.  As luck would have it though, the records for
both cemeteries are maintained by the Wilmington Township trustee – who just happens to currently be a former high school classmate!  I contacted Heather, and she did some searching through the records of both cemeteries.  There was nothing in the Ginder records that indicate any Hablawetz was ever buried there, but the plot map for Krontz Cemetery shows “A. Hablawetz” on plot 48 with no markings on the adjacent plot.  I know that this is not solid proof of Anton or Anna either one being actually buried there, but with the only other information being conflicting, and the negative evidence pointing to Anton not being buried in Ginder Cemetery, I believe that both Anton and Anna are interred in the Krontz Cemetery.

Comments fixed

I know it’s been over a month since my last post, and I promise that there are more posts coming!  One thing I wanted to mention before I put up any more posts is that I discovered an issue with comments on my blog – apparently when I enabled Google+ comments on my board, it made it so that people without Google+ accounts couldn’t post comments!  My apologies to anyone who has tried to post a comment and was unable to.

Needless to say, this little discovery has made me decide to re-visit the idea of moving my blog to a different host.  I’ll let you know if and when I move on that thought.

Upcoming Series – Family History Through the Alphabet

I have a confession…I have set a few blogging goals and challenges for myself over the past 6 months, and I have to confess that I have not succeeded on those goals as much as I wanted to.  There are all sorts of

‘Family History Through the Alphabet’ Challenge

reasons…summer break for my kids, preparing for my own wedding in November, and the list goes on.  But the reality is that the goals I was setting for myself just weren’t holding my attention.  This past week, I read a post at My Heritage Happens by Cheryl Palmer and it hit with me…I wasn’t achieving those blogging goals because they just didn’t match the reasons that I started my blog.  When I started this blog, my intention was to share my genealogy finds, my family history and maybe connect with some long lost relatives along the way.  As I got rolling, I became caught up in the world of geneablogging.  I was following daily prompts (and I was nearly obsessed with having a post to publish every single day of the week), I was commenting on other topics in the genealogy world, and if I am honest with myself, I was writing the blog to try to gain an audience and not for myself.  Cheryl’s blog post about her reasons for considering quitting hit home.  I realized that it’s time to get back to writing this blog for me and my family as much as for others who may or may not stumble on it.

Prior to this revelation, I had been planning to take on the “Family History Through the Alphabet” challenge that was created over at Gould Genealogy.  My intent was to make the series educational in nature, but after my revelation, I have decided to use the challenge as a personal prompt to get back to my basic genealogy research and improve my writing skills.  My “intro” for the series is now…..

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

I can’t promise that these posts are going to come out one a week, or even one a month, simply because for several of the names that I am going to use, I still have quite a bit of additional research to do.  What I can promise my readers is that when I put up one of the posts, you will be treated to a narrative of my ancestor’s life that is written with all of the facts that I could find on them and all of the historical context that I can muster.  My hope is to bring my readers and myself into the lives of my ancestors.

Stay Tuned……

Workday Wednesday – Postal Service Follow Up

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post regarding my great grandfather and his father both working for the postal service.  Recently, I found a picture of my great grandfather from the August 8, 1966 edition of The Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

The Daily Chief-Union, Upper Sandusky, Ohio
8 Aug 1966

According to the caption, this picture was taken “about 30 years” earlier, though it would actually have to have been at least 31 years earlier in 1935 since my great grandfather (pictured in the front row, 3rd from the left) died on 04 June 1935 about a month after retiring from the Postal Service.

Military Monday – Letters from the front

Over this past weekend, I was spending a little time going through things that I had brought back from my trip up to Dad’s house back in June, and made a fun discovery that has begun to lead me on a genealogical
mystery chase.

Among all of the letters that I scanned while I was at Dad’s were about twelve that were dated back to World War II.  At the time, I thought that all of these letters were from my mother’s uncles.  What I discovered this weekend was that seven of those letters were from someone outside the family.  My mistake was that with the tiny handwriting on the return address, I mistook the last name for Hill.  When I started to look at the scans this weekend, I realized that the last name was actually Wells.  As I read the letters themselves, it became obvious that this soldier definitely wasn’t a family member.

But who was Bob Wells?

The letters held only a few clues.  Based on the content of the letters I can tell:
1) Bob Wells had worked with my grandfather on the Pennsylvania Railroad before the War.
2) He lived in or near Ft. Wayne, Indiana (my grandmother mentions a “Mrs. Wells” stopping by the house)
3) He served in the 710th Tank Battalion in the Pacific theater
4) He saw action in the battle on Peleliu

With those clues, finding Bob Wells should be somewhat easy for a genealogist, right?  Well………unfortunately at this point, I don’t have my accounts with Ancestry or Fold3 active so the only resources I have are those free ones that we all use, and they weren’t providing much help.

I posted a request for help to an Indiana Research group that I am a member of on Facebook, and a wonderful fellow genealogist from Indianapolis has jumped on the case with me.  With Marilyn’s help, I now have a possible obituary for Robert Wells from Leo, Indiana.  All of the details in his obituary fit my clues so far.

I have talked with my brother and sisters and we have decided that without a doubt, these letters belong in the hands of Bob Wells’ children or grandchildren if we can find them.

I have to be honest, I am hoping to find Bob Wells’ family for some selfish reasons too.  Yes, I want to get these letters into their hands because he writes about his own family, how he is feeling about the war, and they are definitely something that I think his family would want to see.  But I also want to know more about the relationship between Mr. Wells and my grandfather.  Were they close friends?  Were they just co-workers?  Was my grandfather perhaps his mentor (being about 20 years older than him)?  Is Bob Wells the mystery man in a picture that we have of my grandfather standing beside one of the locomotives he was an engineer on for the Pennsylvania Railroad?

I wish I could say that I will have a follow up to this post soon, but all I can promise at this point is that I will post the resolution of the mystery when it happens, and if Mr. Wells’ family gives permission, I will add some content from the letters to my blog.

Stay tuned….

Sorting Saturday – My fractured love affair

I really didn’t mean for it to happen this way.  My relationship with E was so new and so intense that I really never thought that it would end up with another being brought into it, but here we are…all three of us.  I guess it was meant to happen because O just filled gaps in my world that E never could.

I may be delusional, but I think I’ve found a way for all three of us to live in harmony…
Okay, so that description was probably just a little over the top considering that I’m talking about software that I use. Hopefully my description got your attention and conveyed the excitement that I felt when I finally found my perfect combination of genealogy note-taking/research log/genealogy assistant programs.  (And for the record, my entire family thinks that I’m just a little odd after writing that.) E and O in this case are Evernote and OneNote, two of the most popular note-taking/research organizing programs out there right now.

To translate that little romance drama earlier, I started out using Evernote for my genealogy research because when I first found Evernote, I absolutely fell in love with the program.  I use Evernote for nearly all aspects of my daily life – my professional career, my hobbies, my general reminders and organizing.  However, for my genealogy research, Evernote never quite felt right.  Something just didn’t fit with how I wanted to organize my notes and research and what Evernote would seem to let me do.

Enter OneNote….

After doing quite a bit of research by reading blog posts of others, looking at templates and samples, and then doing some experimenting, I have finally hit on an organizational setup in OneNote that feels right and that fits how I organize my research.

Before I show you my final product, I need to give credit where credit is due.  During the course of my research, I came upon a blog post from Caroline Pointer over at 4yourfamilystory.com that was pretty much the linchpin for my set up.  I took one of the templates that Caroline provided and modified it in a few different ways to fit what I was looking for.  I can’t say thank you enough to Caroline for sharing her templates because the moment I saw them, the vision of what I wanted out of OneNote became crystal clear.

Now on to my setup…

My setup in OneNote involves creating a notebook for each surname that I am researching. Within that notebook, each individual that I’m researching will have their own section.  Inside each of the person sections, I have pages created for various types of research notes and phases of research.  You can see the full list of pages in the photo to the right.  Some of the pages that I have are a general notes page, one for items to be analyzed, Reference Materials, Military records, Correspondence, Land Records, and the list goes on and on.  In some instances, I am creating sub-pages such as for the Charts and Reports – there I have created a sub-page for a timeline of the individual’s life.  The beauty of the sub-pages is that they can be collapsed into the main page if I need to clean up the view I am looking at.

The next illustration shows a surname notebook put into practice.  One of the awesome features with OneNote is the ability to move or copy sections and pages from notebook to notebook.  I already utilize this feature in that I have created a “family section” template that contains blank versions of everything that goes into a Family section.  I can just copy this section template into any one of my surname notebooks when I need it.  Additionally, I expect I will be using that feature as I create Section Groups for larger families.

A section group is something like what you see in this illustration.  The icon to the right of the person tabs has a label of “Earl LINK.”  When you click on this, what it contains is a set of family tabs for Earl and each of his children.  For many of the individuals that I am researching, I most likely won’t use this feature, but where it will come in handy is when I have an ancestor that I begin to research his or her down-lines.  At that point, in order to keep the family “together” in my research, I can group them into a section group labeled with the patriarch’s name.  The “move/copy” feature of OneNote allows me to take the individual sections and quickly shift them into a group when I deem one is needed.

I am really just getting started with this new setup in OneNote, so most of my pages and notebooks are pretty much blank as I still need to transfer my notes from Evernote over to OneNote.  Even as I am starting this, I am working with features such as linking notebooks (I can keep the section for a female ancestor under her maiden surname, but link her section into her husband’s section for quick reference between lines) and tagging notes for easier searching.

I still have a long way to go with getting completely setup with OneNote, but overall, this new organization feels right and for me is so much more intuitive to use than what I was trying to do with Evernote.  Evernote is still my go-to application for so much of my daily life, but OneNote has definitely become my “genealogist’s best friend” primarily because of the added depth of organization that it has allowed me.