At Rest: John M Lemon (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks)

April 21, 2014 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, Lemon by onlyarethusa

I’m so excited, I can hardly type. I sent to Macomb County for a copy of John M Lemon’s death certificate, hoping for the location of his burial and to find out who the informant for his certificate was. I was disappointed on both counts. Today I called the Macomb County Clerk’s office, hoping they’d have more information, but they didn’t. The information was entered in a log of deaths, not an actual death certificate and the only information available was what was given on the death certificate that was sent to me. I received it, of course, on Saturday so I couldn’t call them then, had to wait until today.

Then I called the Oak Hill Cemetery in Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan, where John’s second wife, Lavina Hicks, and his daughter-in-law, Ella Bowman, are buried. Lavina and Ella have headstones and Find A Grave memorials with pictures of the headstones. John doesn’t have a headstone. Having recently had great luck with calling a cemetery in Oklahoma and getting information on an Oglesby relative buried there, I thought, “Why not?” and called Oak Hill. Yes, John M Lemon is buried next to Lavina, and his date of death is the same as that on the death certificate I got in the mail on Saturday.

I’ve been researching John M for so long, I feel sort of sad that I have finally learned almost all there is to know about him in documents from cradle to grave. He was the brother of my great-grandfather, Isaac B Lemon. The family story goes that their parents died in Canada and the siblings moved down (or over, as the case may be.) into Michigan and started families of their own. The story was that John, sister Mary Ann, and Isaac came to Michigan and worked in the woods, with John cutting the timber, Isaac hauling it, and Mary Ann keeping house for her brothers. It actually appears that the children, John, Mary Ann, Sarah Beulah (or Jane, as she was called), Isaac, and Jennie “Betsy” came to Michigan and went to Macomb County where their father’s brother, Abner, lived. It does not appear that brother William came to Michigan, as I have never been able to find him in any census record with enough evidence to convince me that he was related to the above siblings.

The last thing that remains to do to tie up all the loose ends on John is to send for a copy of his obituary, which was published in the Richmond Review in Macomb County on April 1st, 1927. The Mount Clemens Public Library, which has AWESOME genealogy resources, has a Macomb County Obituary Index online, which is searchable. I’ve found both John and his son, Frank William, listed as having obituaries and I just have to send away for them, which I will now do as soon as possible. This is me, doing the geni-dance in my chair. I will probably dance all day long. :)

The Bee’s Knees: Alvateen Oglesby Barnard (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks)

April 5, 2014 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, Barnard, Oglesby by onlyarethusa

My maternal grandmother, Alvateen Oglesby, was born in DeKoven, Kentucky in 1905. She was a small woman with vivid blue eyes and a gorgeous smile. The oldest of three children, Alvateen was born to Morgan and Sarah Penrod Oglesby. She became a young woman during the “Roaring ’20′s” and used to tell me stories about rolling her stockings, smoking cigarettes and doing other “outrageous” things before she settled down and married my grandpa in 1929. My grandfather was a minister in the Assembly of God church. One of the “Holy Rollers”, as they were called. My grandmother may have been wild as a young woman, but by the time I knew her, she was God-fearing and the nicest person I’ve ever known. I never once heard her say anything bad about anyone, and she was blessed with a servant’s heart, one of those people whose greatest joy in life was helping others. I used to love it when Grandma Barnard came to our house to stay because my mother would always make a cheese cake and it was our favorite dessert.

After the birth of my last child in 1980, I was diagnosed with cancer. I still have the handkerchief my grandmother sent me that had been prayed over by the women of her Wednesday Ladies Prayer Group. Those women didn’t mess around; my cancer was cured and has never recurred.

One of the last conversations I had with my grandmother contained the closest thing to a complaint I ever heard her utter: “I wake up in the morning and give thanks for being alive, then ask God if I can’t go home yet. I’m ready to meet my Savior”, she told me. She was 92 when she died in Ocala, Florida on the 17th of September, 1997.

She was a tiny woman with a big name and an even bigger heart.

Alvateen and her father

Alvateen and her father

My grandparents shortly before or after their wedding

My grandparents shortly before or after their wedding

The grandmother I remember.

The grandmother I remember.

Oh, Canada! Cyrus Meredith (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks)

March 30, 2014 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, Griffin, Meredith by onlyarethusa

Loyalists in Canada; “In the main, the United Empire Loyalists were those who had been settled in the thirteen colonies at the outbreak of the American Revolution, who remained loyal to and took up the Royal Standard, and who settled in what is now Canada at the end of the war.”

I have ancestors who fought for the Revolution, and some who fled the country and helped settle Canada. My 2nd great grandfather, Cyrus Meredith, came from a family of those who fled.

Cyrus Meredith circa 1894

Cyrus Meredith circa 1894

Born in Canada in 1855 to Jesse and Rebecca Smith Meredith, Cyrus lived to be almost 100 years old. My father knew his great grandfather, who died in Pontiac, Michigan in 1951, the year my parents married.

Jesse Meredith was the son of Charles Meredith and Miriam Griffin, and it’s the Griffins who were Loyalists. Miriam was the daughter of Richard Griffin, who was born in Nine Partners, Duchess county, New York in 1732. I found this on the internet:

“Richard Griffin fought with the British during the War of the Revolution, and was forced to emigrate to Canada after 1785. He settled in Smithville, ON where he was given 800 acres to share with his sons in 1787. The town was named after his son Smith Griffin. They previosly lived in Lower New York around Nine Partners in Duchess County.”

Richard, who had married Mary Smith in New York, had 7 sons and 5 daughters. Good thing he was granted so much land. But many of his descendants moved down into Michigan and raised families there. His grandson, Jesse, was one of those. My Uncle Dick, my father’s twin brother, wrote and self published stories Cyrus had told him about living in Michigan. Here’s an excerpt:

“The Meredith family moved to Michigan from Canada. The story goes that the boys came over first and cleared land about one mile west of what is now Route 19 in Freidburger, Michigan. I assume the boys were the sons of my great-great grandparents, Jessie and Rebecca Meredith. They built a two story log cabin on the property. Freidburger, which is in the thumb of Michigan, was logging country at the time. The rest of the family came over when Cyrus was about five years old, which would make it about 1860. The father, Jessie, died in 1865, and the mother, Rebecca, died two years later in 1867. They are buried in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on Route 19 in Freidburger.”

Meredith Headstone

Meredith Headstone

Rose Emeline Ruby Meredith

Rose Emeline Ruby Meredith

As Cyrus was the last child born to Jesse and Rebecca, it’s safe to assume he was not one of the sons who came to Michigan before the rest of the family circa 1860. He married Rose Emeline Ruby in 1874, and their first child, a daughter, was born in Sanilac County, Michigan in 1875.

My great grandmother, Rebecca Jane, (named for Cyrus’ mother, Rebecca, and Rose’s mother, Emeline Jane Kellogg), was born next in 1877.

Rebecca Jane Meredith Herr

Rebecca Jane Meredith Herr

She married Charles William Frederick Herr, or Charley for short, in 1900, and they were the parents of my grandmother, Clara Herr, whose photo graces the main pages of both my genealogy website and this blog.

Cyrus stayed active his whole life. A news article from the Pontiac Press during World War II gives one story of how:

“Too Old To Join The Army, Local Man Knits for the Boys

Cyrus Meredith isn’t exactly a young man–his memory extends back far enough to cover some impressions of the Civil war draft–but still he’s ready, willing and decidedly able to do something that will help the boys who are doing the actual fighting for Uncle Sam. Meredith lives at 78 North Jessie street, is 85 years old, and just completed the first pair of stockings he has knitted for some soldier. He isn’t stopping there either, as already he has begun work on a second pair.

Some time ago he decided that even an old-timer could do something for the boys at war. Having been taught to knit when still a 14 year old boy and having a supply of yarn on hand, his activity naturally led to work on knitting socks.

He had intended to complete at least one pair before Christmas but just couldn’t get them finished in time. However he missed by only a few days and now has completed work on his first pair and is starting on a second.

Mr. Meredith was born in Canada but came to Saniliac county, Michigan with his parents when he was only four years old. He has lived in Pontiac for 24 years. He worked here for some time as a teamster and carpenter and has also worked at the Wilson Foundry & Machine company for five years.”

And the Press was there when he celebrated his last birthday:

“Pontiac Resident Celebrated 96th Anniversary Here

Cyrus Meredith, of 78 North Jessie Street, knows that one’s never too old for a birthday cake. Mr. Meredith celebrated his 96th birthday Friday. Some 15 friends visited him and helped eat the cake his daughter, Mrs. Bernie Downing, and grand-daughter, Mrs. Gerald Jenkinson, 570 Sterling street, presented him. During World War II, Mr. Meredith knitted stockings for men overseas. Previously he worked at General Motors Truck & Coach division and as a caretaker at the Church of the Brethern.”

He died a month later, September 21, 1951.

His grandmother, Miriam Griffin Meredith, his father Jesse’s mother, lived almost as long. She was born in 1765 in New York and died in 1856 in Canada.

“You Are Here” Bernard Romans (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks)

March 21, 2014 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, Lemon, Wilder by onlyarethusa

Bernard Romans signatureSometimes genealogy findings can be almost unbearably ironic. I used to say quite frequently, “I want a “You Are Here” map for my life” and I meant it sincerely. I have often felt lost and out of place. I have also been heard to say that I must have been a dog in a previous life because this life seems to be so hard and confusing. I once said this to a friend of mine who then offered to read my palm. I agreed and she told me I was a “new soul”. When I asked her what that meant, she told me it was a person who’d never been on earth before. Well, that cleared THAT up for me. But the wish for an actual map for my life? That must come from being a descendant of Bernard Romans, a cartographer, among many other things.

One of the many maps created by Bernard Romans

One of the many maps created by Bernard Romans

Bernard Romans was born about 1720 in the Netherlands. He grew up and was educated there, but moved to England where he trained as an engineer. He was sent to America, then known as British North America, and served as a surveyor of Georgia. In 1761 he married Maria Wendel in Albany, New York. Their son Peter Milo Romans was born there in 1762. Peter would marry have 10 children, one of whom was Leah Romans, born in Albany in 1787, who was my 3rd great grandmother. While not documented, it is believed Maria died shortly after Peter’s birth and Bernard married a second time Elizabeth Whiting in Wethersfield, Connecticut in January of 1779. The couple had one documented child, Hubertus, born there in October of 1779.

Bernard was very active in the young America during his life. He surveyed Florida and wrote a book, A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida, which was first published in April of 1775.

Book written by Bernard Romans detailing his exploration of Florida.

Book written by Bernard Romans detailing his exploration of Florida.

He was in Boston when the Boston Tea Party occurred, and in April of 1775 was appointed a captain by the Connecticut Committee of Saftey, and was active in the American Revolution. There are many articles and some books written detailing the life of Bernard Romans which include his military service in the Revolution.

Elizabeth Whiting Romans applied for a pension in 1852 for his service, stating under oath:

“And he so continued in the line of his duty as an officer until 1780, about eighteen months after the marriage…according to her best recollection, when he was ordered to go to the State of South Carolina, there to join the Southern Army, and shortly thereafter he sailed from New Haven or New London, in the State of Connecticut for the place of his destination, and who, together with the vessel and crew with which he embarked, were shortly thereafter, while on their passage, captured by the British, and her said husband was carried a prisoner of war to Montego Bay, Island of Jamacia, where he was held in captivity until the close of the war in 1783. The British authorities, in the mean time, were applied to deliver him up by exchange for their own men then held as prisoners of war by this government, which exchange they refused to make, on account of his, the said Romans, ability to do so much injury to the British interests. And she further saith, that her said husband, as she was informed and believes, was shipped by the British authorities under the intent of sending him thence to some port in the United States, and he was said to have died on his passage, though from circumstances attending his demise his friends had good reason to believe him to have been willfully murdered.”

The date and place of his death is said to be 1784, “at sea.”

Now when I feel lost and confused in life, I remember Bernard Romans who made maps and explored new lands, and feel a little bit better, knowing he didn’t always know where he was going, but used his experiences to create the means by which others were able to plot their own journeys.