Saturday, September 27, 2014


This summer I had a chance to explore the genealogy collection at the Jervis Public Library in Rome, Oneida County, New York.  They have a special floor dedicated to history and genealogy. Click here to see a list of their extensive holdings. 

To access the Local History Room, you take an elevator to the second floor.  However, there are other genealogical and historical items throughout the library. For example, the librarians have the books regarding local cemeteries behind their desk on the main floor.

The Local History Room contains a wide variety of publications. Some that caught my eye were:
  • 200 Years of Vernon Center’s Presbyterian Chuch by Eugene Butler
  • Early Potters and Potteries of New York State by William Ketchum
  • Families of Olde Whitesborough, 1784-1824 by Claire Sperry
  • The Genealogical Journal of Oneida County, New York
  • Italians to America by Glazier and Filby
  • Legacy by the Herkimer County Historical Society
  • Onondaga’s Centennial by Dwight Bruce
  • Pioneers of Madison County by William Tuttle
  • Pioneers of Vernon Center, New York by Eugene Butler
  • Tree Talks by the Central New York Genealogical Society
  • Yesteryears, a quarterly magazine about New York history

If you have New York ancestors, you know how difficult it is to find information on them. These niche publications just might help you.

In addition to Central New York specific publications, there are many publications that cover a wider geographic area such as:
  • Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots
  • The Connecticut Nutmegger
  • D.A.R. Magazine
  • Lexington, Mass: Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths to January 1, 1898
  • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register
  • The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record

There were also many county histories and surnames books.

I had great fun exploring the above-mentioned publications, but my most important discovery came from the Records of the Glenside Cemetery, New York Mills, Oneida County, New York.  I have been to this cemetery many times because I have numerous Welsh ancestors buried there from my mother’s maternal line.   I have tried to obtain information from the cemetery association but have been unsuccessful. So I was thrilled to find a written record of interments at Glenside. 

I began browsing the names and, to my surprise, I found another line of my family buried in this cemetery.  This line was from my mother’s side, but it was her father’s family.  Esther Barber Marsh was my 3rd great grandmother. Until visiting the Jervis Library, I had been unable to discover the location of her gravestone.  The book showed a record for Ester B. Marsh, who died on 21 Dec 1856, at the age of 80. (1)The date matched my records exactly.  After her name there followed four more burial records for other members of my family.

On another page, I found more records from this line. One entry read “Three little lambs” and then noted the deaths of three children under the age of 7 who had died in 1863. Their parents were J. M. and Esther Bell. (2)  Esther Marsh Bell was my 2nd great grand aunt. Her husband was John Morris Bell, and their unfortunate children (Sarah, George and Amos) were my 1st cousins 3x removed. Now I want to find out why these children died. Can you imagine losing three children in one year?  I also want to go back to the Glenside Cemetery and locate the stones.

So, thank you, Jervis Public Library, for your cemetery books and for the many other genealogical publications. It is because of repositories like this that we can slowly piece together the past.


(1) Edmunds, Elizabeth. "Ledger [Record 1884—8--]." In Records of the Glenside Cemetery, New York Mills, Oneida County, New York, No. 62; records copied and compiled in May 1978 from an old ledger now in the custody of the Glenside Cemetery Association in New York Mills, New York.

(2) Edmunds, Elizabeth. "Ledger [Record 1884—47--]." In Records of the Glenside Cemetery, New York Mills, Oneida County, New York, No. 41; records copied  and compiled in May 1978 from an old ledger now in the custody of the Glenside Cemetery Association in New York Mills, New York.


Illustrations from Dover Publications, Inc., Mineloa, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1268 Old-Time Cuts and Ornaments, 2006.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Yesterday I visited the Mount Clemens Library located at 150 Cass Avenue in Mount Clemens, Michigan. I had heard that they have a terrific genealogy collection, so I wanted to investigate their holdings.  I blogged about this library’s online resources last year. Click here here if you want to read that post.

Mount Clemens Public Library
Mount Clemens, Michigan

In order to visit the genealogy/history room, you first must sign in at the librarian’s desk located in the center of the library.  One of the librarians will unlock the door for you. Sometimes there are volunteers stationed in the genealogy section to help you, but yesterday I was on my own. I picked up a handout  titled “Welcome to the Mount Clemens Public Library Local History Room.”  This gave me a good summary of their collection.

Mount Clemens Local History Room
Mount Clemens, Michigan

The first room had a number of tables where you could do research, two computers for online research (they have access to Ancestry Library, Fold3, Heritage Quest and and hundreds of books. Like a puppy with a new stuffed toy, I began scanning the stacks excitedly.   

There was a section of new acquisitions by the entrance, where I found many helpful guidebooks for genealogical research as well as specific interest publications, such as African-American research.  I was impressed that their books were so current.


Against one wall I discovered the Nellie D. Metler (Mrs. John R. Murphy) Ontario Collection, which contained:

Marriage Registers of Upper Canada/Canada West
Canadian Genealogist
Surrogate Court Indexes
The Ontario Register

and much more


For those with German ancestors, there are many volumes of the Map Guide to German Parish Registers and also Germans to America.


Not surprisingly, there were numerous books on Michigan history and genealogy, such as the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society Collections.

The second room had microfilm readers, hundreds of microfilm rolls and many shelves of publications, such as funeral home books, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register and Michigan History Magazine.


There were drawers and shelves full of microfilm, such as:

Newspapers: Detroit News, Macomb Daily, Daily Leader and more

Michigan Censuses and Vital Records

and more...


There were also city directories and old phone books from the Detroit area. 


If you have Polish ancestors, you’ll want to explore “Polish Eaglet,” a periodical by the Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan. For an index of articles, click here.


There were many French-Canadian books such as:

Michigan’s Habitant Heritage (

After I had explored the rooms, I settled down and did some personal research using the following books.
  • Boston Marriages from 1700 to 1809 compiled by Edward W. McGlenen
  • Scots-Irish Links by David Dobson
  • Family Maps of Washtenaw County, Michigan

There is something for nearly everyone in this collection. If you live in Michigan, be sure to visit this fabulous library. If you can’t visit, be sure to check out their online resources at

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Historical events greatly influenced the lives of our ancestors. Think of the Depression, the San Francisco Earthquake, the many wars, floods, epidemics, the sinking of the Titanic, the changing laws, train wrecks, mining disasters, the Gold Rush. You have to know history if you want to do excellent genealogy research.  One book I recommend is History for Genealogists by Judy Jacobson. 

This summer I had the chance to visit the marvelous Chicago History Museum at 1601 N. Clark Street in Lincoln Park. Here I learned about the many industries of Chicago (meatpacking, railroads, steel, advertising, retail, mail order and so much more). On one of the walls is a detailed timeline of important dates in Chicago history. 


One section is devoted to the great Chicago fire that occurred on October 8, 1871. Were your ancestors living in Chicago at that time? I hope not.  It was interesting to see some of the items that somehow survived the blaze, such as a beautiful porcelain doll. As you walk through the exhibit, you can read about how the city restored its vitality and in 1893 hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition. Oh, yes, you can also read about Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.  Click here to read more about the fire.


Another section of the museum highlights the 1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre There are also displays that discuss the 1920's gangsters of Chicago and the Chicago Crime Commission.  During the Prohibition, as you know, people were devising ways to make alcohol. A copper still and bucket are on display.  For more on the gangs, check out Chicago Gangland History Those were wild times. 


If you have Chicago ancestors, you really need to see this museum.  There are displays of artifacts representing many different ethnic  groups who lived (and live) in Chicago: a Polish prayer book, a Jewish wedding ring and German sheet music were just some of many items I viewed.  There are community settlement maps on the walls for different decades showing where each ethnic group tended to reside. These maps are truly fascinating and could be very helpful if you are trying to figure out where an ancestor might have lived in Chicago. The Demographics of Chicago page at Wikipedia has an image of the 1950 Community Settlement Map. (1)


I enjoyed the exhibit about social reformer Jane Addams and her quest to help poor immigrants in the late 1800s with settlement houses designed to help the community. There is a Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, which I want to visit.  Click here to read more.  If your ancestor was an immigrant in Chicago, Jane may have indirectly made their live easier.


And, best of all for genealogy fans, the museum has a large family tree of the Pritzker family who came to Chicago in the late 1800s from Kiev and later became very successful. Below is a tiny snippet of the tree, but it is enormous and covers an entire wall. 

Chicago History Museum


Now, I don’t have many Chicago ancestors, but Harry Brashear, one of my cousins, was a Chicago policeman during the 1930s. I would like to do more research on him.  The Chicago History Museum has a Research Center.  Click here for online resources .  Here is the link for family research:

When you leave the museum, be sure to check out their excellent store, where you will find numerous books and really nice (not tacky) gifts. 


(1) Wikipedia (, "Demographics of Chicago," page was last modified on 25 June 2014.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Today is National Grandparents Day.  Martha Brashear Taylor Ranke (1898-1972) was the only grandparent I remember.  I wrote my very first blog post about Martha.  That post will give you a sketch of Martha, but today I want to discuss Martha’s Scots-Irish and Huguenot ancestry. I love Martha because she has added variety to my family history research.


Martha’s maiden name was Brashear. If you visit the website of the National Huguenot Society, you will see that the name Brasseur / Brashier / Brashear is a qualified Huguenot name. The Huguenots were Protestants who fled France due to religious persecution in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. See the Huguenot Timeline.

I am slowly researching this line back in time. My great grandfather was William Magruder Brashear (1858-1924); my 2nd great grandfather was Thomas Magruder Brashear (1816-1882); and my 3rd great grandfather was Ely Brashear (1774-1837). I believe that my line goes back to Benjamin (Benois) Brashear (Brasseur), the original immigrant. 

For those of you interested in Huguenot research, here are some links to helpful websites:


Martha’s mother was Margaret Stewart (1869-1943), who was born in Canada to Michael Stewart and Jane McFarland.  Michael and Jane were from Northern Ireland. They were what you call Scots-Irish or Scotch-Irish, who were Protestant dissenters from Ulster, Ireland. Not surprisingly, the 1881 Census of Canada lists the Stewarts’ religion as Presbyterian. (1)

I was told by my mother that my father’s given name (Stewart) was in honor of the Stewart line.

It is interesting to note that my 3rd great grandfather, Ely Brashear, also married a woman of Scottish ancestry—Julia Magruder.  Magruder is a derivation of Clan Gregor or MacGregor. (2) This Magruder name was carried on as a middle name for many of Julia's descendants.

The Protestant religion was important to these families. I know that my grandmother often went to church and that the churches were some form of Protestantism depending on the area in which she lived.

If you are interested in Scots-Irish research, here are some useful links:


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "Women Illustrations," 2004.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, " 1100 Pictorial Symbols," 2007.


(1) "Canada Census, 1881," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 06 Sep 2014), Michael Stewart, Innisfil, Simcoe South, Ontario, Canada; citing p. 41; Library and Archives Canada film number C-13250, Public Archives, Ottawa, Ontario; FHL microfilm 1375886.

(2) Wikipedia (, “Clan Gregor,” rev. 29 March 2014.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014