After Pat and I attended the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh I promised to write a blog post about our experience and here, a mere three weeks later, you have it.


           Pittsburgh, LaRoche College.  No disrespect to LaRoche, a place full of very pleasant and helpful people, but who knew it was there.  Well, not laroche1only is LaRoche sitting there on the northern border of Pittsburgh, but once a year after massive amounts of hard work by many people, most notably Elissa Scalise Powell and Deborah Lichtner Deal, it draws some of the top talent from the genealogical world to the faculty, gifted professionals and amateurs to learn from them and each other, and people like us. I guess it’s hard to keep the riff-raff out.


          We both took Paula Stuart-Warren’s Intermediate Genealogy course. Paula did a wonderful job shepherding a very diverse group of learners through topics including vital records and substitutes, probate records, WPA records, and much, much more. There were also guest lectures from Josh Taylor and Debbie Mieszala.

     It is hard to know where to start, so I’ll just hit a few of my personal favorites.

     In addition to everything that happened in class and out I got to take home a course syllabus that is chock full of wonderful references.  I know I will use it for years to come.

     Paula added an optional half hour to the afternoon session where problems presented by the students in the class were discussed. This was enormous fun.  Everyone was full of suggestions.  I was lucky enough to have my problem with Sam and Gertrude Silver discussed and I could hardly manage to write down one good idea before being hit with another.

      I particularly enjoyed Josh Taylor’s lecture Going Digital.  Sometime someone must explain to me why I had to go to Pittsburgh to learn the value of digital organization. It’s not that I don’t have digital files or that I can’t use a spreadsheet, it’s just…

      my brain is fullJosh showed us his organizing system and I am excited to begin implementing  something similar.  What I love about it is that I can use the search capabilities of a digital format to file everything within my four basic families.  No more looking in the file cabinet and wondering why there is a Woodward file, the spreadsheet will link it to the Coles and my family tree software will show me the connection.

      Josh took a year off from research to implement his digital system.  Josh is a lot younger than I am, so I’m not planning on a year off, but I do hope to put in a few hours each week and see how it goes.

      If our brains weren’t already full there were evening sessions as well.  I particularly enjoyed Michael Hait’s lecture in which he stressed the basic idea of figuring out what you need to know and then finding out how to get that information.  Again, it sounds simple, but it isn’t.  I’ve wasted lots of time looking at what’s available rather than zeroing in on what I need.


eating club

The Eating Club

      We spent hours in class and listening to lectures, but we also spent a lot of time talking to other people, people who don’t run from the room when you begin a sentence with, “My third great-grandfather…”

     When we tired of cafeteria food we found others who enjoy food and drink and a night off from genealogy.  I recommend both Blue and Willow for good meals on the northern side of Pittsburgh.  We tried to make it to the Carnegie museum one night, really, we tried, but the lure of cocktails was too great. So much for culture, maybe next time.


As I have already said, Josh Taylor gave a few guest lectures in our class.  He put up a slide of information about his own family as an illustration of something or other.  Suddenly my surprised tablemate said, “That’s my family.” And it was.  Nan and Josh shared a fairly close connection.  Josh, of course, has lots of information on this family, but not so much on this branch.  Nan had a photo of her branch with parents and their twelve children.  She found the photo on DeadFred.  How much freaking genealogical ridiculousness is that?  Seriously, many of us, including Josh and Nan had tears in our eyes. 


      Would I go back?                                          Yes

      Would I stay in the dorms again?            Probably. 

      The air conditioning that couldn’t be turned off, the paper thin mattress, and the Astroturf carpeting that appeared not to have been vacuumed in this decade were offset by being able to fall out of bed and into a cup of coffee in the morning, the fun of meals and talk with lots of great people, and the low cost. Money does matter.

      My thanks to everyone who made it such a great week. I hope to see some old friends next year and make some new ones.





* I’m getting ready to do a short road trip to Maine with my ever-patient sister. My goal is to begin on-the-ground research on our Boothby family line. I want to know why our family line left Maine and migrated to southern Ohio in the late 1790s-early 1800s.
* Do a timeline for Mary Elizabeth Hockman Earhart. Get all the census records for the Earhart families, her Boothby family, and any Hockman families. Also get all possible birth, marriage, and death records. (I have some of these records but need to be sure I have all of them.)

* Pick a group of records and really learn how to enter them in Clooz1 – a program which I really like my early experience with but which I need to learn to be more proficient using.
* I may also try to create my own version of a spreadsheet to track digital files and note the basics of the sources they come from, as described by Josh Taylor in one of the sessions he taught in our GRIP course.
* Continuing to organize the various files on my hard drive.
* Back up the blog! Plug-ins found so far to automate this task don’t meet my needs However I just saw a review of another one, that looked worth investigating. There is always hope – in the meantime I must remember to do it by hand.

* In July Judy and I attended the intermediate course at GRIP2. I hope Judy is getting ready to write a story about our experiences there.
* I will combine education with research in my trip to Maine. I want to explore some of the resources available in Maine including the State Archives and State Library.
* I will find a webinar, probably toward the end of the month, to watch.



Among the various things I have “inherited” from my Aunt Susan, was a frame with two pictures side-by-side.  IMG_0001-horz.jpgThe frame was the kind that stands on a piece of furniture and I imagined my Aunt Susan keeping this on her dresser top or a table near a favorite chair.  I don’t know that this was where she kept it, but it seemed like the sort of picture you would place that way.  Sadly, I have no good idea who these people were.

When I pulled this picture out of the box of things, I noticed that it wasn’t well-framed, that the pictures were not matted and were touching the glass.  So one day I took the frame apart, hoping that the backs of the pictures might tell me something about these two.  A photographer’s stamp, a date, or better yet a name written on the back.  Anything could be helpful.  The two pictures were mounted at the top on cardboard backings, but unfortunately there was nothing to provide any hints about who they were or when or where the pictures were taken.  Except there was some mold on the back of the woman’s picture, probably from being pressed into the cardboard and having been in a house in Florida for a long time.  I scanned the two individual pictures and then took them down to my local framer who is good about handling old photographs.

He was not able to do anything about the mold and could not promise he could safely remove the picture from the cardboard backing.  The man’s picture was not moldy and came off its backing easily.  So I ended up having his picture framed separately, although I had planned to re-frame the two together as they had originally been.

The more I looked at the man’s picture the more I was sure that he must be from Aunt Susan’s Salt family.  In looking through an album of old pictures I re-found 2 pictures of young Edward Wilshire Salt, that looked somewhat like this older man.  Based on eye color, and the fact that one of them died as a young man, I entertained the possibility that the other is the same as the older man.  Luckily at some point my mother had gotten help identifying some of the pictures in the old album and this young man was named:  Edward Wilshire Salt, Jr.

So from this, I have developed my own story about the likely identity of these two older people, based on what I know about the Salt family relationships and who my Aunt might have had pictures of.  I believe that the man was Edward Wilshire Salt, Jr. and the woman was his second wife, Clemma Day Swope.  Edward (who seems to have gone by E.W. at least on official records)  was the younger brother of Aunt Susan’s father, so he was her uncle.  He had been part of the legal proceeding when Susan’s father was probated insane and committed to the state mental health hospital, acting as protector of the children’s interests, and I expect he continued to take some part in helping his brother’s family after that.  Since Susan was only an infant when her father was hospitalized, Edward may well have served as a father figure for her.

If the woman is Clemma, she would have been the only wife of Edward’s that Susan would have really remembered.  Edward’s first wife, Clemma’s sister Margaret, had died in 1895 when Susan was barely two years old.  Margaret and Edward had two children, who were older than Susan and her brother by 2-9 years.  Edward married Clemma 2 years after Margaret died, so Susan was not quite 4 years old.  Edward and Clemma moved West sometime between the census in 1900 (where they were found in Tate Township, Clermont county, Ohio) and the one in 1910 (where they were found in Reno, Nevada).  Since Edward’s daughter had married and was living in Reno in 1910 as well, it may be that Edward and Clemma moved to Nevada to be closer to his daughter. So, Aunt Susan wouldn’t have seen much of them after their move West, but might well have wanted their pictures where she could see them.

In the end I am left with the question: is the older man Edward W. Salt? (If he is then it seems highly likely that the woman is Clemma Day Swope Salt.) A brief trial of Picasa’s facial recognition suggested that the older man is the same as the younger (named) man. Any thoughts out there?

* Request information about possible records from St. Xavier in Cincinnati about the O’Shaughnessys. I had a nice comment from a person who volunteers elsewhere, suggesting a call to ask about the possibility of research volunteers. Have to do that!
* Continue to work on updating the Denman database with information already collected and/or noted by cousin Claudia in her review. I’ve been plugging away at this, and it is a slow job with lots of files and information to integrate. Not that I’m complaining.

* Continuing the work listed above on the Denmans is also organizing files on my hard drive (and helping me establish a standard file naming process).
* Start clearing out the files in the small open box on the floor. [I didn't really get to this one in June - I don't know where the month went!]
* Back up the blog! Plug-ins found so far to automate this task don’t meet my needs However I just saw a review of another one, that looked worth investigating. There is always hope – in the meantime I must remember to do it by hand.

* In June I watched a live-streamed presentation from the Southern California Genealogical Jamboree about the War of 1812.
* In July Judy and I are registered for the intermediate course at GRIP, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. Looking forward to it – with some trepidation but a lot of excitement.

The first teaching job Laura was offered was in Homer, Licking county, Ohio.  The typed transcript I have of Laura’s memoir says it was Horner, but that was undoubtedly a misreading of her handwriting.  The very small community (an unincorporated community) she went to is named Homer (birthplace of Victoria Woodhull).  “Arrangements were made for this school to commence early in November and to continue for four months at the unheard rate of eighteen dollars per month.  My father had cautioned me not to set my price so high that they would not consent to such an exorbitant price.  I replied that my education had cost both time and money and must be rewarded by a suitable wage.”

Laura’s description of the train trip to her new teaching post described a little train that stopped at every little station and took a lot of time getting started again, so that the trip took much longer than she had anticipated.  In addition the rain came pouring down.  “Then occurred to me the prospect of arriving at my destination at a late hour of the night in a strange town with no one to guide or direct me to a hotel.  Oh horrors!  What should I do?  Not long, however, did I puzzle over the problem but just waited as patiently as possible while the train sped onward as the pace of ten miles an hour; and so at midnight she pulled into the little town of Utica.”

Homer and Utica OhioHere there was no depot, only a platform; the rain was still coming down.  There was no one to meet her since the train was so far behind time.  “I laid my case before the conductor who went out on the platform and brot in a man whom he told to show me to a hotel.”  Laura followed the man, who had her handbox, through dark streets to a house where there was some sort of gathering and the man asked another man there to show her to a hotel.  This man took her satchel and walked her through further dark alleys and streets to the main street of the town and finally to a building said to be a hotel.  Laura ended up in a large dormitory sort of room with a number of beds, and “laid down to await the coming of dawn which could not be far distant by this time.  And so, after shedding a few tears in  pity for myself in this sad plight, I quietly gave myself up to the embrace of Morpheus”

Her luck changed in the morning as she looked out on the street and recognized the store of the father of two college friends.  She went into the store, met the brother of her friends, and was speedily taken in by the family.  There she learned that the people who had been looking for her on the train had waited until midnight and then given up on the train arriving.  “In those days there was no telegraphic communication to tell when trains were due.”

All’s well that ends well, and Laura settled in to a school with about 40 pupils of all grades.  She noted that the people there in central Ohio were very different from those of New England descent who she was used to in northern Ohio.  Many were from Pennsylvania (as my mother also noted in Canton where she was raised).  Laura reported that they were mostly Presbyterians and that they observed the Sabbath from sundown Saturday night to sundown Sunday night.  This meant putting down all the usual work and going to church.  “Then at the close of the Sabbath service and the sun went down the knitting was resumed and other labors take up the same as any week day.”  During her time in Homer she was able to attend the State Teacher’s Association at Columbus which occurred around the holidays when the school was on vacation.  This refreshed and renewed her interest in her profession and she finished out this term with a last day of school demonstration for all the parents.

The next job to come her way was at a new college in Iberia Ohio, which she said was in the southeastern part of the state but was actually in central Ohio in Morrow county.  Iberia College had only been in existence one year; a young minister named Bigham was in charge along with a young woman teacher, Miss Butler.  At the end of that first year the school needed a new instructor since apparently Miss Butler had in mind a different type of school than the founders.  Laura didn’t write much about her teaching experiences here, but reported about the president pro tem, and the churches in the town.  She also told a story about a young lady who suffered the unexpected loss of her fiance to another woman.  Her disappointment and grief were so severe that they “brought her to an early grave”.

As a Denman cousin noted to me in an email, Laura didn’t include much detail in her memoir about her family of origin, usually only mentioning siblings as brother or sister but not by name.  This lack of detail extended to her meeting Joseph W. Booth and their courtship. At the end of her memoir about her childhood days, Laura wrote two short paragraphs about the end of her teaching days and their marriage.   “In the fall of 1854, I took my leave of Iberia College and returned to my northern home, there to prepare for my marriage to Joseph W. Booth of Columbus, which was to take place in the early days of November.  Busy, happy days were these, tho tinged with sorrow at thot of leaving the happy home nest.”

Family lore tells us that J.W. fell in love with Laura through the letters she wrote for her sister to her sister’s husband, Dr. Parker.  J.W. and his brother Henry had both gone West in about 1850-51 with Dr. Parker and others from Ohio.  J.W. and Dr. Parker worked the placer mines for several years and it was probably during this time that J.W. would have had the opportunity to hear Laura’s letters to her brother-in-law.

“The 7th of November, 1854, soon rolled round and we were united in marriage by Prof. Munrow of Oberlin College in the presence of about forty relatives and friends.  Our honey-moon was enjoyed in fitting up our cozy little home in Columbus, where we spent one year of happiness before entering upon our pioneer life—the following chapters of which will give the reader some idea of the trials and hardships we encountered as we made our way toward the setting sun.”


© 2009-2014 The Genealogy Gals All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright