* I sent for 5 remaining birth/death records still in the Scheier 2011 folder, from LDS, in May. I am waiting patiently (well, trying to be patient) for their arrival. One death record is potentially my Joseph Scheier, husband of Zissel and the father of the siblings I have written about.
* Plan research trip to southwestern Ohio with my sister. I think I will focus on cemeteries and maybe a couple of the towns my family lived in with the aim of providing some current pictures and local history for context.
* Continue to search through the 1940 census for family. I have found a number of families, but continue to look for my parents (who were college students but might have been on co-op when the census was taken.)

* In May I actually made it through the rest of the folders in my Research 2011 folder on my husband’s side and sourced information in my database and moved files to where they will reside more permanently. I also scanned all of the photos that were piled on my desk. Celebrate!! Now they only need to be put in protective sheets and it will be done.
* What I didn’t get done was the rest of the inbox, or the Snow and Minor information from the Connecticut State Library. So those are still on the list. If I keep putting them on, sooner or later I will get to them.
* Back up the blog. Putting this on my monthly to-do list reminds me, when I look at the post to see that it got published and this helps me remember to actually do the back up. Otherwise my memory doesn’t always work.

* Learn more about finding living relatives and how to persuasively contact them.
* Watch one online video or webinar about genealogy. [In May I listened to an interview Lisa Louis Cooke did with Bruce Buzbee, head of RootsMagic and senior Magician and was inspired to upgrade my software. I also watched one of the free RootsMagic webinars specific to the latest version, about using the new research log feature. Ok, not strictly about genealogy but very useful and it will stand me in good stead as I research.] Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with RootsMagic except that I use the program and I really like it.

Gettysburg Photos

Gettysburg National Cemetery

It’s also not Veteran’s Day, when we honor those who have served their country.  It’s Memorial Day.  The day we remember those who have died in the service of their country.

John A Logan

General John Logan, the Commander-in-chief of the U.S. army, proclaimed the first national Memorial Day.

“The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.”

Originally intended to remember the Civil War dead, it is now a day to remember those who died in all wars.  The southern states joined in observing this holiday after WWI.

I am not a fan of war, who is?  In my life I have certainly disagreed with my government’s policies in this area, but no matter where I stand politically, my heart aches for all the young people who gave their lives for my country.  They deserve to be remembered and honored.

My husband and I have many relatives, both dead and living who have served and continue to serve in the U.S. military.  I can remember only one who died on the battlefield.  His name was Hiram Blood and he died at Gettysburg.  This is far enough in the past that all those who felt the pain and loss on his death are gone. I am grateful that I can find only one distant relative to remember on this day.

I have written a bit about the five Blood brothers and how their service was a microcosm of the different approaches men and families had to the Civil War, but this is about Hiram.

Godfrey Library

I discovered Hiram’s fate entirely through serendipity.  I was wandering around the Godfrey Library in Wallingford, Connecticut. The Godfrey is a repository for New England genealogy.  Yet, as I wandered around aimlessly my eye was caught by a row of books on the bottom shelf, Michigan in the Civil War.

Michigan?  We had Civil War people in Michigan.  I picked up the book, the names were in alphabetical order and there was Hiram, with enough information to be sure that that it was our Hiram.  Next to his name it said, “Died at Gettysburg.”  I was stunned.  To this day I cannot articulate why this had such a strong emotional impact.  I do know that my less emotional spouse had the same reaction.  There is something surprisingly moving about having a person, no matter how distantly connected to you, who is also connected to this turning point in American history.

Monument to the Third Michigan infamtry

What of Hiram? Hiram was born in 1844 in Kent County, Michigan. His father was a farmer, his grandfather was something of a bad boy, but eventually settled down to farm, his great-grandfather was a Revolutionary War General.

Hiram’s older brothers were already serving on August 17, 1862, when Hiram marched off to join the army.  He was only 18 when he joined the 3rd Michigan infantry.  What was he thinking?  Was he drawn by duty?  Did he think it would be glorious?  Was he afraid or buoyed by the belief common to young people, that they are immortal?

Hiram was killed less than a year later, on July 2, 1863. He died on the second day of the battle of Gettysburg during a bloody battle in the peach orchard– the peach orchard, such a bucolic name for such a bloody place.

Union dead near the Peach Orchard

I wonder if Hiram died quickly or if he knew he was dying and thought of home and family.  There is a definable moment when we leave this world, when we draw our final breath.  No one should face that moment alone.  We all should have the comfort of a human voice, a human touch, even if it seems we are past any consciousness.  I hate to think of that 19-year-old boy, dying too young, in the midst of horrible carnage, without the comfort he deserved.

I always have a hard time with Memorial Day.  It seems like a day to be observed, not celebrated.  That said, we work hard, a three day weekend and time to enjoy friends and family is a good thing.  My compromise is to have that hotdog, enjoy the official start of the summer, but stop for a while to think about the reason for the holiday.  If I get this blog done early and I stay sober I might even email my Congresswoman and Senators and let them know what steps I think should be taken to limit the sacrifice of our young soldiers.  I urge you to consider joining me in this effort.

My maternal gggg grandfather is, I think, Captain William Blackman. He was the father of my ggg grandmother, Marinda Blackman who married John Denman in 1819. This “fact” has not yet been satisfactorily documented in my own research, however, the suggestion comes from a number of sources. I originally learned about this Blackman line from another researcher, about 15 years ago. She found me online through a Denman question I had posted somewhere, if I remember correctly. She seemed to have more information than I did, although she was actively searching at that time for more about William and his parents. There were several other researchers around the same time as well. To make my work a little more complicated, I also have a Blackman line (going back to New Jersey) on my father’s side. The two lines have not yet converged but I also know very little about the “other Blackman” family.

William was born around 1776 in Massachusetts, based on his report on the 1850 federal census (as well as other researchers). By 1775-1776, the Blackman family he was born into may have been in western Massachusetts. Family trees posted online show him as the next to youngest son of Samuel and Mehitable (Long) Blackman. This Samuel apparently moved on west to western New York state, where he died. If this is our William’s family, he and a number of his siblings also moved to western New York and then on to the Huron county area in northern Ohio. The 1800 federal census enumerated a William Blackman and another male (perhaps a brother?) between 16-25 in Northampton, Ontario, New York. In 1800 Ontario county was most of present-day upper New York state. Northampton was established in 1797 and was in the area of what is now Rochester New York.

In 1801, William Blackman, along with a Hiram Blackman and a Daniel Curtis were listed as settlers upon the Holland Purchase in Township 12, Range 1. And by 1803 there was a William Blackman listed in a book available at Google as participating in the establishing and governance of the town of New Amsterdam in the Holland Purchase (Buffalo area of New York state). William was named as one of the overseers of highways. By the time of the 1810 federal census, William was listed as head of a household including one male age 26-44 (presumably himself), 3 females under age 10, and one female age 26-44 (presumably his wife Philenda nee Curtis). Ggg grandmother Marinda was born in 1803 in this area. So, now I know that I need to find a marriage record in New York state, between 1800 and 1803, and birth records for at least 3 daughters between then and 1810. It also seems that William owned land, so that is another source of records for me to search.

The mystery I set out to try to solve was that William Blackman was generally referred to as Capt. William for most of his adult life, but there were no explanations to his title. So, until just recently I had no idea why he was Capt. William. What was he a captain of? Or in? The original Blackman family researcher who I had gotten much of my information from suggested he had been in the War of 1812. This made some sense at the time, but I thought little more about it. I vaguely thought about the location of his daughter Marinda’s place of birth, Niagara (I assumed county), New York. This county is in northwestern New York state and borders on Lake Ontario. This was presumably an area active in the War of 1812, and maybe William was a naval captain. You can tell I didn’t (and don’t) know much about the War of 1812.

William Blackman, captain

The resources at have provided the basic answer. William Blackman was first an ensign and then a captain in the local infantry of the New York militia (I think that is correct). The Military Minutes of the Council of Appointment of the State of New York, 1783-1821, list his service in 1806 as ensign and in 1811 as a Captain in the Niagara County brigade. I still don’t know for sure that he was active in the War of 1812, but it seems very likely. And since 2012 is the bicentennial of the beginning of that war, I want to learn more about it.

So, I have answered one small mystery and opened up a number of questions for future research. Having skimmed several local histories of the northern New York counties, I am more aware of how arduous life was for this young family. They, like many other pioneer families cleared and planted land, built a shelter, raised the next generation, and did not leave many clues to what they were like as individuals.

On this Mother’s Day 2012 my thoughts have turned to the women in our families who were not mothers.

Today motherhood is a choice, many women both married and unmarried live fulfilling lives without children, but what about our ancestors.  In the nineteenth century and much of the twentieth marriage was the norm and children were Social Security. For women without children the end of life was often difficult. I like to find the stories of these women in our past and be sure that they are remembered

Here are two very different stories from my husband’s side of the family.


Amy and Jessie Martin:

Jessie and Amy Martin

Jessie and Amy martin

I have written before about Jessie and Amy Martin.  They were born in Michigan in 1873 and 1881 and moved to Oregon with their parents.  They spent decades as schoolteachers in Oregon.  The end of life was very difficult for them.  They struggled with financial hardship and poor health, as Amy wrote in a letter to my mother-in-law in 1959, “There were so many things she would have liked to do but lack of money was the drawback for all of us.”  They both passed away in the Methodist home in Salem, Oregon, Jessie in 1959 and Amy in 1982.


Eliza Jane Cole

Eliza Cole Thorpe

Eliza was born in Ireland in 1870 and came to America with her family in 1873.  The family moved to Nebraska and then to Oregon.  Eliza became a Seventh day Adventist Minister.  She married for the first time at the age of 50 to George Thorpe. I believe it was the first marriage for George as well. Eliza seemed to thrive as a minister and was well cared for by the Adventists.  She was visited several times a week by her niece and nephew.  A letter to my husband’s grandfather from Eliza’s nephew states, “We see Eliza once or twice a week.  She always speaks so fondly of you.  You know, of course, that she has not been in her own home for this past year.  The conference has substantially increased her allowance and that plus rental from her home leaves her well provided for.”  Eliza died in Vancouver, WA in 1955.

There are many more examples on both sides of our families. This is a busy time in my life and I have had little time for research.  I expect things to slow down a bit in September and I also intend to find out about these women’s lives and bring them back, if not to life, to remembrance



I am focusing today on developing my strategies for contacting the living possible relatives of this Scheier line. I have posted about this family before (click here). And contacting the living descendents has been on my genealogy to-do list for a long time. So now I’m going to get serious about doing it.

Briefly, what I know about the family is that Joseph and Zissel Scheier had 9 children, 8 of whom were living as of the 1910 census, and 6 of whom I have found at least names for. The Scheier family came from the Dubno, Russia, area, possibly the smaller town of Verba. The 6 that I have found (Julius, Sam, Pearl, Ida, Louis, and Abe) were all in the US, along with Zissel, by 1902. Father, Joseph, may have come earlier and died before the whole family arrived. I have names for the grandchildren of some of these Scheier children, although I am still searching for a married name for Ida. I also am not sure about whether some of the children had any children of their own, or for some of the female grandchildren what their married names might be.

Here is what I have done so far in my quest to contact them: I have contacted (via letter, Facebook and a phone call from my sister-in-law) one relative with no success; I have found two other individuals who are likely relatives and am trying to figure out how to approach each of them to maximize the likelihood that they might respond to me. In addition, I know there must be others out there, so while I keep looking for names, part of my strategy needs to be broadcasting my search.


I think this is the easier part to describe, so I will start here. This post is a kind of broadcast. It includes the names of the furthest generation back I know in the title. I am tagging the post with the family name as well as the location of Milwaukee which was the central point for the immigrant generation and often their children. I will post publicly on my Facebook wall that I have published this post. I will try to remember to tweet about it. This morning while I was walking and talking with a friend, it occurred to me (duh!) that I could/should post a general inquiry on any Scheier listserv I can find. Now what avenue have I missed?


This is the more difficult step for me, since I am somewhat shy by nature and especially since I haven’t had very good luck so far. I have a suspicion that I am so obsessed about interested in getting information that I haven’t thought through how a cold contact might appear to someone not as interested in family history. It also occurs to me that I need to think through just what I am looking for from any of these folks. And along with that, it occurs to me that I need to think about what I can offer in exchange.

I feel like I don’t have much (that is the big picture reason why I want to find others who know more) but I do have some information and a picture or two, and the family tree as I know it. And I’m willing to share with anyone who is related and interested.

Now I need to figure out how to approach these people in a way that makes them want to be in contact with me. I find myself wondering what I would think in a similar situation and how I would respond. Would I be skeptical? Would I think it was a scam or a nutcase or someone trying to get information from me to steal my identity? What would my concerns if I assumed it was a potential relative? What would intrigue me? Unfortunately, in this world, I can think of many negative responses and it is harder to think of positive ones.