Following my post from yesterday, this is part 2 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks prompt Earliest.
Continuing on my paternal side, the earliest new generation that I ever found was my great grandmother’s parents. Serafina Merlenghi was born in 1896 in Macchie, Farindola. I found her birth record on Family Search, before Italy put all of the records of Pescara on Antenati for everyone to view from their comfort of their own homes.
Serafina’s parents were Cesidio Merlenghi and Maria Michela Cirone.
This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks prompt is Earliest. Since I cannot decide on which “earliest” genealogy – related subject to use to this week, I will be posting several “earliest” topics this week.
My earliest genealogy – related memories are from when I was attending the funeral of my immigrant great grandfather Cesidio “Granpop” and his son Albert. They died a few months apart so my memory on whose funeral was whose is hazy. Cancer had taken my great uncle Albert.
Every Sunday we would hit the Pennsylvania Turnpike and travel to see my great grandparents Serafina and Cesidio. Sometimes my great uncle Albert was there. When I was small I remember getting dressed up and riding in a car on the Turnpike. This time was different. There was a mass and my older female relatives were crying. I didn’t know why and I recall looking out the window of our car in that church parking lot in Philly with a lot of relatives and we awaited the direction of a hearse. I have a memory that one of my older sisters said “Uncle Albert is riding in that car,” or something similar.
To me, that big car looked like a limousine, because I didn’t know any better. I know I thought wow, Uncle Albert travels in style not realizing a coffin was in there. I think someone said, “Wow they spent money…”
I remember someone else saying, I don’t know who, an older female relative perhaps, that when Granpop died that he gave up after the loss of his son Albert who had died a few months earlier.
If I went to the cemetery for the burials for either man, I don’t have any memories of them. Because I researched them, I know now that father and son were buried next to one another. Both born in Farindola, both buried in Linwood, Pennsylvania. Both men performed military service for their countries. Grandpop for Italy and Albert for the United States.
Those are my earliest genealogical-related memories. My earliest interest in researching genealogy is actually tied to Granpop because I had realized Granpop and his other son, my nonno, both fought in the World Wars and I didn’t know much about either of them.
Now I know too, Granpop’s earliest ancestor with his surname that I have been able to find was named Donato Marcella. He was born around 1700 in Farindola, Pescara, Abruzzo, Italy when it was part of the Kingdom of Naples. Donato’s direct descendants to Cesidio are as follows:
Domenico Marcella – born in Farindola around 1737
Giuseppe Antonio Marcella – born 1774 in Farindola
Massimo Nicola Marcella – born 1814 in Casebruciate, Farindola
Filippo Marcella – born 1844 in Trosciano, Farindola
This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge is Dear Diary. These are a few short fictionalized diary entries of my 5th great grandfather Nicola Carusi in English!
I know he could read and write because he was Farindola’s Cancelliere, beginning in 1809 and ending at his early death in 1817. His father, was the town’s scribe. Nicola Carusi was born around 1777 in Farindola at age 40 when he died during the time of the famine in Abruzzo in 1817. His family lived comfortably with a business and property so he would not have been the victim of the famine. The occupation listed on his death record was civile.
He died before his parents and all of his brothers and sisters. His early death always makes me wonder, if what he did in May 1807 is why he died young – at age 40. I will not know for sure either way unless I examine the town’s church records because causes of death are not listed on the online civil records.
In the year I am writing these fictional entries for an event that actually happened to him and his family in 1807, my 4th great grandmother Francesca Carusi would have been very aware of the situation. She was 10 and she was in hiding with him.
Background: On May 11, 1807 in Farindola, after a springtime of high criminal activity of brigands in the surrounding mountains and villages, the occupying French and Farindola’s Urban Guard engaged in a firefight with a local gang while the townspeople stayed locked in their houses. Nicola’s father, my 6th great grandfather Paolo, happened to be a Lieutenant of that urban guard, in a strange kind of alliance with the French. Nicola, unfortunately, after the firefight, that didn’t go well for the brigands, gave up to the French the hiding place of the local gang. He had to take his family into hiding because the brigands wanted to murder them. This all actually happened and is written into the history of the town.
Nicola Carusi’s journal entries:
May 11, 1807, Domenico’s house. I write from my brother-in-law’s house near Lago Petralunga. His wife and daughters went to stay with her family in Penne while she awaits the birth of another niece or nephew. My dear Giovanna and children have been at my parents this past week as the Francesi became more insistent in their pursuits and I fear reprisal at our property for our support of them. Today there was a big fire fight, a battle almost! Between the French and brigands. Six of them were shot and killed by our guard and the Francesi today. We were lucky none of us were harmed. I think I have the support of the town…. But, I plan to hide here overnight because I gave to the French Colonel the hiding place of the leaders here – the cousins of the Dell’Orso in Trosciano. My father advised me to stay hidden. Domenico’s son has a friend he says can take me to Loreto two days after tomorrow. I am worried about my children and won’t go where they are not. Maybe we can all go and stay with my cousins there.
May 12, 1811, Domenico’s house. My brother visited Domenico today. Domenico’s cousin, Antonio Pompili has made it known his brothers are looking for me and my wife and children. Madre Mia! my brother says they all have been taken under guard by my father’s orders to stay in Penne with the authorities there. I have given Domenico coin to give to Antonio to not tell his brothers where I am. I shall pay his son’s friend to take me to Loreto. I may have made the wrong choice giving up their hiding place. The mill will also suffer for it. Am eager to see my children again.
May 13, 1811, Rigopiano, Farindola. Met with my father today here. His godson, the innkeeper Piero, agreed to hide me here overnight. I have feared Antonio was not trustworthy. I will wait for Domenico’s son’s friend here. My father was unhappy with my choice that sent off a chain reaction. I know his alliance is unfavorable with the Francesi who made him the Lieutenant. It was for show. For good faith only. He dislikes them as much as the rest of us. I feel as though I haven’t seen my children in years.
May 15, 1811, Penne, hunting cabin. Finally I am with my family. We have guards posted outside. Francesi. The Pompili would not come near the cabin because if they harm any Francesi they will hang. It was not safe for us to go and hide in Loreto with my mother’s family. My nephew has taken the reins of my mill in Farindola temporarily. I have written Generale Chavardes for two weeks rations for my family and I. My dear Giovanna, Tomassina, Francesca, Camillo, Giovanluigi, and baby Maria are all unfortunately locked in here until it is safe. Tomassina and Francesca are old enough to know this is not a trip to Penne to visit the market. They know what is going on…and my dear Giovanna keeps looking at me as if her looks could kill me…
This blog post is part II of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks prompt #23 Namesake.
Massimo. I have many Massimos in my paternal lines. Uncles, grandfathers, cousins, you name it. But in one line there were four versions of Massimo in successive generations in one of my Penne, Pescara branches. My Uriani that lived in Penne seemed to use Massimo more than any others. The Uriani are direct ancestors of my great grandmother Maria Luigia Massei.
The Cathedral of Penne is the Church of San Massimo, named after the town’s patron saint. The present-day structure was built on top of an old crypt. That crypt was built on top of a Vestini temple dedicated to the Roman Goddess of family Vesta, whose festival was celebrated June 7-14 and they were so-named for that fact. The Vestini were the independent war-like inhabitants of the area surrounding the Gran Sasso in Italy before they allied themselves with Rome. San Massimo’s feast day falls in the middle of the week previously dedicated to Vesta – June 10.
The first Massimo of the Uriani line I found was my 5th great grandfather, born in 1783 in Penne. His full name was Massimo Antonio Nicola Uriani. He was the father of Antonia Uriani. Antonia was the wife of Sabatino Cacciatore of the Cacciatore – Desiati line in Penne. MassimoAntonio Nicola Uriani was a contadino and was the husband of Rosalina Maddalena Mincarelli. This Massimo was the great great grandfather of Maria Luigia Massei.
Second, the first Massimo had a daughter named Massimina. She was born in 1825 in Penne.
Then I found the first Massimo’smarriage documents that showed he had been baptized in San Massimo and his father was Massimo Nicola Uriani, who was my 6th great grandfather and husband of Vittoria Di Norscia. Vittoria’s father was named Giuseppe Lorenzo Massimo Di Norscia. Massimo Nicola Uriani had a daughter named Maria Anna Massimina (sister of the first Massimo). Massimo Nicola Uriani is a special ancestor. He was born in 1734 and died in 1832 in Penne, making him the oldest direct ancestor in my paternal and maternal lines. His birthplace is unknown. According to his death record, he was 98 when he died. I have a cousin in my paternal lines that lived to at least 100 years in Farindola and the town gave him a birthday party to celebrate that occasion and the fact that he was a veteran of the First Italian War for Independence. Right now, it bears mention, that my great aunt, also on my paternal side, is 99 years old and counting.
Last, I found the baptismal record of Massimo Antonio Nicola Uriani’s sister Maria AnnaMassimina, stating that their grandfather, my seventh great grandfather, was named Massimo Oriano (That is how the surname appeared in the church extracts from San Massimo in Penne in the late 1700s.) This Massimo was born around 1700 and his birthplace unknown. His wife was Maria Angela, with an unknown surname. Perhaps the name Massimo means he was actually born in Penne…
This Uriani/D’Auriano/Oriano surname is rare in Penne. Coincidentally, Massimo Antonio Nicola Uriani’s granddaughter Anna Domenica Cacciatore married my 3rd great grandfather who was named Donato Di Massimo! He was from Farindola.
When Christian was born, his namesake was his paternal grandfather, my 5th great grandfather, Johann Christoph Gerbing. Johann Christoph was a laborer living in Vieselbach around 1800. At his baptism, Christian’s full name was recorded as Georg Istoph Eduard Gerbing. His father’s occupation at that time was listed as bricklayer. After finding this record, I wondered if his name was Americanized to Christian.
The first record I found for Christian in the United States was when he was listed as the godfather of my 3rd great grandmother, Christine Katharina Schuttler at her baptism in 1854. She was his niece – the child of his sister Louisa Gerbing Schuttler. This record was from St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church of Chicago.
The next record I found related to Christian in the United States was the baptism of his nephew, Louisa’s son, Charles (Karl Wilhelm) Schuttler in 1856. I know now that Christian’s sister-in-law Katherine Bauer was listed as his godmother. This record was also from St. Paul’s. This indicates that Christian was likely already married to German immigrant Anna Bauer, at the date of the baptism, December 25, 1856. Can anyone else researching this family confirm this? Anna was the daughter of Sebatian Bauer and a lady named Anna Elisabetha.
The third record I found for Christian in Chicago was the baptism of his eldest daughter EmmaGerbing in the St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church of Chicago records from 1859.
On the 1860 Federal Census, Christian and Anna were living with the Bauers and Christian was working as cabinetmaker. Subsequent censuses and Chicago City Directories all list Christian’s occupation as carpenter or cabinetmaker.
One of those Chicago City Directories bears mention. The 1861 Chicago City Directory entry for Christian Gerbing showed that he was working as a carpenter at Peter Schuttler Wagons. This means he was likely making artillery and supply wagons for the Grand Army of the Republic along with Louisa’s husband, his brother-in-law, immigrant Johann Schuttler.
Christian and Anna Bauer had 16 children all born in Chicago. 11 of those children survived to adulthood and they each had families of their own, making the research of Christian’s descendants a huge task!
They are as follows – in order of birth:
Christian b. September 1, 1857, d. September 1, 1857
Emma b. 1859, d. 1924, married German immigrant Carl Findeisen
Amelia b. 1861, d. 1893, married German immigrant Maximillian Stockmar
Ida, b. 1862, d. 1947, married William Kriegsmann and German immigrant Joseph Spanheimer
Anna, b. 1863, d. 1935, married Frank Wedell and according to her obituary a Mr. Lester.
George Lincoln, b. April 1865, died July 18, 1865
John, b. 1866, d. 1934, married Josephine Cote (daughter of French-Canadian immigrants)
Clara, b. 1867, d. 1868
Clara, b. 1868, d. 1938, married James Alexander Thomlinson (son of Canadian immigrants)
Hattie Marie, b. 1871, d. 1951, married William Gluek and Jacob Dietz
Maria, b. 1874, d. 1880
Charles, b. 1875, d. 1933, married Amanda Krick (daughter of German immigrants)
Laura, b. 1878, d. 1944, married Herman Sieger
Edward Carl, b. 1880, d. 1937, married Lillian Haberkamp
Baby Gerbing, stillborn, April 23, 1882
Frank Peter, b. 1883, d. 1950, married Hattie Siebold (daughter of Austrian and German immigrants)
Thank you researcher KStockmar for adding and sharing the Graceland Cemetery plot card to Ancestry that contained most of these vital facts!
I could not locate the 1870 or 1910 Censuses for Christian. That fact could be caused by an indexing or transcription issue at Ancestry.com like I’ve encountered in the past.
Interestingly, in 1880, Christian’s and Anna’s daughters Amelia and Clara were recorded in two different census entries in Chicago. The first – living with their parents, and the other – living with their grandmother Bauer and uncle Sebastian Bauer, named Sebastian after his father. Now if you look at the date of death of one of their siblings(Maria), you can see they lost a sister that year. Does that have something to do with it?
I did find one mention of Christian on newspapers.com. In 1874, he sued Charles Matthai for trespass for damages of $2,000.00. I do not know the outcome of that matter.
One of the last records I found for Christian was his 1890 Voter Registration. It reflects that he became a citizen of the United States on October 2, 1956 in Cook County Courthouse. Also, he was the 18th person to vote in his precinct that year.
Christian died in 1911 at age 77 and is buried in Graceland Cemetery. I encountered trouble while digging around for his death notice or an obituary in the English language newspapers. I found neither. His wife Anna passed away at the age of 83 in 1922.
Christian is related to me through my 100% German-American grandmother. He was the brother of her immigrant great grandmother Louisa Gerbing Schuttler.
Do you have any comments, corrections, or additions? Do you have questions about my sources? I would love to hear from you – firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is Part I of Namesake. I have a paternal Namesake entry for later this week.
This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge is At the Cemetery. A few years ago I encountered a bizarre cemetery issue with the grave of my second great grandmother Filomena Napolitano. There are two headstones for her in the same cemetery at separate locations. Her Find-a-Grave memorial is here-click me.
According to his Civil War pension file, Private Ovington Harris was born on December 12, 1844 in Havre de Grace, Maryland. From census data, his parents were likely Robert Harris and Hannah born in Maryland.
The first record I found pertaining to Ovington was the 1850 Federal Census where he was living in Havre de Grace. His father Robert was working as a ship caulker. The Harrises were designated Mulatto. In 1902, when Ovington filed for a veteran’s pension he stated that he was never a slave.
I spent some time tracing Ovington’s parents. On the 1832 Census of Free Blacks of Harford County, there was a Robert Harris and a lady named Dinah listed by the Sheriff. Dinah could be a mistake and might be Hannah. Dinah could also be his first wife. Or Robert and Dinah could be other people altogether. However, since I found a Free Person of Color named Robert Harris on both the 1830 and 1840 Federal Censuses in Harford County, I don’t think the Robert Harris on the 1832 Census is a different man.
Ovington relayed on a document in his pension file that his father died in March 1865 and that his mother died in 1878.
On May 22, 1863, the United States War Department established the United States Bureau of Colored Troops. In July 1863, at age 20, Ovington was recorded as eligible for military duty in Harford County, while he was working as a laborer.
The following year, on March 22, 1864, Ovington enlisted for military service in Philadelphia for a period of three years and was mustered into service the same day. He was assigned to the 43rd Regiment, United States Colored Troops, Company H. According to the Department of the Interior document below from his pension record, he was a sailor and fisherman at the time of his enlistment. From the Company Descriptive Book, you can see his occupation was actually caulker – like his father Robert.
Ovington likely then spent time training at Camp William Penn, the African American training ground outside of Philadelphia. The camp was built on land owned by the family of Lucretia Mott, an abolitionist, and women’s right’s advocate.
In 1864, his regiment performed duty at the Siege of Petersburg. On July 30, 1864, Ovington’s regiment engaged in and fought gallantly at the doomed Battle of the Crater as part of the siege. Their regiment’s captain even captured a rebel flag in the process.
The quoted text below comes from the digitized “History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-5,” as part of online resources of Pennsylvania’s United States Colored Troops holdings through the Dickinson College Library. It briefly describes the aftermath of the Union’s long planned mine explosion and the 43rd’s participation in the battle.
“The consternation created by the horrors of the explosion, enabled Ledlie’s Division to advance to, and take shelter in, the crater without serious loss… Finally when the enemy had fully recovered from his fright, had brought supports to cover the threatened point, and was fully prepared to repel further assaults, the Colored Division (43rd Regiment) was ordered to advance. It was a forlorn hope; but the division moved gallantly forward, in the face of a decimating fire, and passing to the right of the crater, charged towards the crest beyond. Here so deadly was the fire of infantry and artillery which it met, that it was soon swept back in disorder amongst the debris of the demolished fort, though it succeeded in bringing in some prisoners, Captain Albert D. Wright taking, with his own hands, a rebel battle flag. Little protection was afforded even here, the enemy soon getting the range, and mercilessly slaughtering the helpless victims huddled together. A charge made upon them by the enemy, was bloodily repulsed; but it was madness to attempt to hold the position, and almost certain destruction to attempt to go back, every inch of the ground being raked by the enemy’s concentric fire.”
Following the Civil War, Ovington’s regiment was sent to the Rio Grande in Texas to patrol the border. However, while in Texas, Ovington was diagnosed with rheumatism and stayed in the military hospital in Brownsville. On his regiment’s return trip East at the conclusion of their service at the Rio Grande, their boat nearly sank.
Ovington’s brother Daniel Elias Harris enlisted in the United States Colored Troops in Havre de Grace on March 13, 1865 in the 2nd Regiment, Company G. Note his complexion description of Griffe which is something to consider if you are a descendant of either Ovington or Daniel Elias and show Native American ancestry. See Griffe definition. Following his military service, Daniel Elias became a minister in the C.M.E. church.
After Ovington’s military service, Ovington Harris relocated to Williamsport, Pennsylvania and married Charlotte Dedford in 1870.
Charlotte Dedford was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Anna Johnson and David E. Dedford, a Shippensburg, Pennsylvania barber, and a possible A.M.E. minister. While I have gotten nowhere on the origins of Anna Johnson, David Dedford’s family was living as Free People of Color in Mifflin Township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania as early as 1820. That census counted only 45 People of Color in the township that year.
Three of Charlotte’s brothers enlisted in the United States Colored Troops. They are as follows:
Private Thomas H.W. Dedford, a barber, 54th Massachusetts, Company, Enlisted December 4, 1863. (This regiment is known for refusing pay since it was not equal.)
Sergeant Jacob Dedford, a sailor, 43rd Regiment, Company E, United States Colored Troops, enlisted April 2, 1864. He is listed on the African American Civil War Memorial.
Private Palm Dedford, a waitor, 55th Massachusetts, Company H, enlisted June 22, 1863. He is on the 1929 Illinois Honor Roll.
By the 1880 Census, Ovington and Charlotte were living on Maynard Street in Williamsport and he was working as a laborer, while in 1900 he was working as a shoemaker.
Ovington and Charlotte had the following children: Horace, Sarah, Marion, Henrietta, Bessie, Mable, James, Olive, Nancy, Ulysses, Pearl.
I found newspaper articles mentioning that Ovington participated in parades as part of his duties as an officer in the Fribley’s GAR Veteran’s Post near Williamsport in the early 1900s.
Ovington’s pension file was close to 200 pages. I learned that with the aid of an attorney, because of his eyesight, limb, and digestive issues he had experienced since the end of the war, Ovington petitioned for a pension increase and was denied. Ovington outlived his wife Charlotte, who passed in 1908. He died on August 27, 1916 and is buried in Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport. Thank you to the Find-a-Grave volunteer Michelle Coons who fulfilled his photo request last month. See Link.
If you have any comments, edits, additions, or questions about the sources and records I used to research Ovington’s genealogy, please email me at email@example.com.
Private Ovington Harris is on one of my collateral lines. Unfortunately, his regiment’s colors are one of those few Pennsylvania regimental flags that are lost, or I would have included an image here. To the best of my knowledge, at the time of this post, the data regarding Ovington’s genealogy is accurate. For a few years I have been researching his wife’s family the Dedfords and their ancestry in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Maybe in the future a post will be made about the Dedfords and their soldiers. Are you researching the Dedfords too? I would love to hear from you.
So long story short, I found a bunch of new ancestors in the area around Sondershausen, Thüringen, Germany. And just on Friday, I found out that my 9th great grandfather on a connecting branch was the Schultheiss (magistrate) in a little town near Sondershausen called Berka in 1705.
Back to the featured ancestor ~ My 10th great grandfather Johann Andreas Köppels was born around 1639, possibly near Sondershausen, Germany. His father may have been named Hans Paul and could be the man with that name that worked at Sondershausen Palace as a smith. His mother’s name is unknown at the time of this writing.
Around 1662 Johann Andreas married my 10th great grandmother Susanna Margaretha. Her last name is unknown. Unfortunately, the marriage records for Sondershausen start on Ancestry after Johann Andreas and Susanna Margaretha started to baptize their children in the 1660s.
In early 1666, when Susanna Margaretha gave birth to my 9th great grandfather Hans Abraham, Johann Andreas was a harness-maker at Sondershausen Palace and a linen weaver. Harnesses require cowhide and linen comes from the flax plant. Both professions rely on nature, don’t they?
All in all, Johann Andreas had at least 15 children to at least 2 wives. I counted at least 12 of them to my 10th great grandmother Susanna Margaretha.
At the time of his death in 1726, while my 9th great grandfather Hans Abraham was working as a brewer at Sondershausen Palace, Johann Andreas was recorded in the church death records as being a Meister Leinenweber (master linenweaver.)
If you would like to read more about Sondershausen Palace in English, some history of the structure is featured by clicking here.
It has been enjoyable finding these revelations in Sondershausen in my ancestry. I look forward to digging deeper into these newly discovered branches and sharing more about them.
Do you have any comments, additions, or corrections? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is Nurture. I am picking my second great grandmother Elisabetta Rossi, a mother in a blended family, and mother of my great grandfather Cesidio Marcella.
Elisabetta Rossi was born in Vallecerosa, Arsita, Teramo, Italy in 1866 to Giuseppe Antonio Rossi and Anna Antonia Ricci. Prior to 1893, her parents and Elisabetta moved to Farindola. In late 1893 she married my second great grandfather Filippo Marcella in Farindola.
Filippo was a widower, as his first wife, Maria Antonia Lacchetta had passed away 6 months earlier. Filippo’s first wife had had 11 children to Filippo. However, only 5 were alive at the time of his second marriage. The other 6 never saw their first birthday. Those he brought to his union with Elisabetta were Maria Grazia, Raffaele, Pasqua, Filomena, and Serafina.
Filippo was 23 years older than Elisabetta. A little over a year after their marriage, with her husband’s other children probably all still at home, Elisabetta gave birth to my great grandfather Cesidio Marcella. Maria Domenica, Antonia Vincenza, and little Antonio Andrea followed. All 4 of Elisabetta’s children survived to adulthood and raised families of their own as did the 5 surviving children of Filippo’s first wife.
Elisabetta outlived her husband, who passed away in 1916, and was able to see the births of her grandchildren, her husband’s grandchildren, and some of her own great grandchildren.
Elisabetta Rossi’s father and his family were from nearby Penne in Pescara. Her mother’s family is a bit more of a mystery because they tended to move around Abruzzo more than any other branch I have researched there. I would love to find out why.
Grazie e pace Elisabetta!
Do you have a question, comment, or correction? Please email me at email@example.com.
This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is Road Trip. I plan to read lots of posts in Generations Café on Facebook from those who have traveled to a local spot to visit a cemetery, farmstead, courthouse, or traveled far to visit a beautiful ancestral village, battlefield, or port of entry.
My great uncle John, between World Wars I and II, while he was studying theology in Switzerland, visited Germany to obtain birth information on his immigrant grandparents Johann Leies and Emilia Bold. He traveled to Nunschweiler, Germany to visit the Catholic parish where some of our ancestors worshipped. Since he himself was a priest, the parish priest at Nunschweiler transcribed the baptismal records for both of them for him.
I’ve never made such a valuable trip as he. When I was a child we visited two ancestral towns in Italy – Penne and Farindola. I was too young, obviously, to appreciate the genealogical value of such trips.
Today we have the ability to email archives across the ocean and across this country. I’ve even emailed a few counties away to obtain naturalization information on an ancestor.
My road trips to research my family (if you can call them road trips) have been small. I’ve gone to the local LDS Family History Center to browse microfilm before Family Search started digitizing the films for use, before France added free Departmental Archives online, before Italy uploaded records I needed to Antenati, before Switzerland started digitizing church records from certain cantons free of use online, and before Ancestry added German records I needed. I was loyal, visiting almost three times a month. The night before my first ever visit to the Family History Center, I even had a dream about the ancestor I was researching on the film I had ordered – Angelo Ferraro. It was very vivid and the dream was correct.
Back to the topic on hand – Once I made a road trip to a major historical military archive – the United States Army Heritage Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania – to research collateral individuals and gain service information on those who served in the United States Colored Troops. They have excellent records for those researching Pennsylvania Civil War ancestors. While that is true, the librarian informed me upon my visit right away that they didn’t have any information on United Stated Colored Troop/Buffalo Soldiers and that he could not help it, knew it was sad, and wish it wasn’t true.
Speaking of the Civil War, I’ve been to Gettysburg battlefields many times. My ancestor Johann Schuttler made supply and artillery wagons for the Union Army. This counts as a road trip, right? I would love to visit Ellis Island or Castle Garden ~ and someday Switzerland ~ and the rest the countries in my ancestral heritage ~