Tag Archives: Family History

O! Young Man, a Plea for Temperance in The Lily

Just setting out on the journey of life , when all is bright and full of promise, why will you sacrifice all that is worth living for, upon the altar of intemperance? Why will you wreck your own happiness, and blast your bright hopes by fostering and indulging a love of that poison, the use of which will rob you of reason and consign you to the dishonored grave of the drunkard.

You toil to earn, then rob yourself to enrich your destroyer. And what does he give you in return for your money? What equivalent for the loss of your character–your self-respect–the respect and esteem of friends–your peaceofmind–your immortal soul?

You rob and starve yourself, that the rumseller may fatten upon your gains. Why do you this? You know the consequences of the course your are pursuing, then why will you continue it? (more…)


Of Time Travel and Typhoid

As a young teenager growing up in the late 1960’s, I had a very romantic ideas about life in previous centuries. Bookworm that I was, I read a lot of historical fiction. I watched Masterpiece Theater faithfully. I loved the customs, the language and the fashions, especially the hoop skirts popular during the Civil War era. If time travel were possible I would have been on the first train out.

Unfortunately for me, my mother was a medical historian and quickly pointed out to me the perils of what passed for medical care in a pre-germ theory world. In fact she didn’t hesitate to give me specifics about the particular problems of being female in that world… complications of childbirth and the mortality rates of infants and children just to name a couple.


American County Histories

Alfred Heslop of Cambria County

When researching family history, the American County Histories collection is a great place to start.

These books include chapters with detailed coverage of local history, geology, geography, weather, transportation, lists of all local participants in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, government, the medical and legal professions, churches and ministers, industry and manufacturing, banking and insurance, schools and teachers, noted celebrations, fire departments and associations, cemeteries, family histories, health and vital statistics, roads and bridges, public officials and legislators, and many additional subject areas.

Alfred Heslop

Alfred Heslop, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is a painter and paper-hanger, and comes of a family noted for skill in the art of color-making and blending, designing, and painting. But Alfred Heslop has not always followed the occupation of his father, although he began working with him when only about twelve years old. Instead, when he was seventeen he followed the tide of immigration to Kansas and for the next several years was closely connected with events which made history in the West.

At Leavenworth, Kansas, Mr. Heslop enlisted with the Utah expedition under General Smith, which had for its purpose the chastisement of the Mormons. After peace was declared with these people, Mr. Heslop went on an expedition under Colonel (afterwards General) Sumner against the Cheyenne Indians. Subsequent to making a treaty with this tribe, Mr. Heslop was one of a number of troops (two companies) sent to Texasto quell an uprising of the Comanche Indians, and to reinforce the soldiers already there. He was employed as a teamster and “riding express” at Fort Arbuckle, on the Choctaw Reservation.

After the breaking out, in the same year (1858) of the Pike’s Peak cold excitement, Mr. Heslop concluded to leave the government service and go to Pike’s Peak. He, with four companions, proceeded to Leavenworth City, Kansas (this was during the John Brown scare in that state). But instead of going to Pike’s Peak, Mr. Heslop, with two acquaintances, hired with the famous Ben Holliday♦, a contractor who furnished supplies for the government, and who was about to leave Leavenworth for Salt Lake City. The party was made up of Mr. Holliday, his clerk. Mr. Heslop as an extra, two drivers, and a colored man. The conveyances used were a light carriage and a baggage wagon, four mules to each, with three additional mules for emergency purposes.

Ben Holladay

Ben Holladay

Mr. Holliday was given permission by the government to exchange his mules for fresh ones whenever the opportunity presented itself. The party had one day’s start of the mail. Mr. Holliday had the contract for furnishing flour to the government, and it was his object to get to Salt Lake and sublet his contract before the arrival of the mail which contained information as to the price he was to receive for the flour. He bought the same at seven cents a pound and received twenty-eight cents a pound, thereby making a profit of twenty-one cents a pound. The journey of 1,450 miles was made in sixteen and one-half days, and without mishap.

The party reached Salt Lake one day ahead of the mail, covering the distance in about the time required by the same. All things considered, it may be said that it was a remarkable achievement of its kind. possibly never equaled in the history of the rugged west. Some time after Mr. Heslop had been in Salt Lake, an order came from Secretary of War Floyd for the government to sell 2,000 head of mules and 7,000 head of cattle. Holliday bought 1,500 head of the mules and 6,000 head of the cattle. Mr. Heslop, with the assistance of fourteen men took the mules purchased by Mr. Holliday from Salt Lake to San Francisco. After his arrival in the latter city, Mr. Heslop left for Sacramento City, where he obtained employment at his trade.

♦ Benjamin “Ben” Holladay (October 14, 1819–July 8, 1887) was an American transportation businessman known as the “Stagecoach King” until his routes were taken over by Wells Fargo in 1866. A native of Kentucky, he also served in the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri before starting his transportation empire that later included steamships and railroads in Oregon.

Source: History of Cambria County
Title: Genealogical History (Part D), page 151

American County Histories

County Land Records Bridge Gaps For Families

Sharon Tate Moody, board-certified genealogist, explains how land transfer records can really make a difference for researchers and family historians looking to solidify time lines and relationships when birth, marriage, and death records are lost or destroyed. In Land record treasures are far from ho hum she gives several examples where records of land transfers were able to not only confirm a marriage but also to establish a trail for a family from one county to another.

Accessible Archives lets you search the full text of its American County Histories collection where you can find a wealth of information for counties in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. To see if your family could benefit from a look in the archives check this list of counties in American County Histories Collection.

Most of these large county volumes were compiled and published between 1870 and 1900 and have long formed the cornerstone of local historical and genealogical research. They are encyclopedic in scope and virtually limitless in their research possibilities. To get an idea of how much time is covered, the counties of Delaware volumes cover 1609 to 1888.

From the Archives

In New Castle County, Delaware you will find gems like this:

The place known as “Cowgill’s Corners,” near Little Creek Landing, was, prior to 1760, in the possession of Joshua Clayton, who, by will January 21, 1761, devised it to his granddaughter, Eunice Osborne. He had previously conveyed to his daughter Sarah, widow of Thomas Cowgill, eighty-eight acres, a part of “Willingbrook,” May 11, 1750. The other tract was known as “Higham’s Ferry,” on which was the mansion-house. Eunice Osborne left the property to her children,— Elizabeth, wife of Henry Cowgill; Mary, widow of Israel Asten; Eunice, wife of Peter Edmonson; and Tabitha, wife of Jabez Jenkins. The latter sold to Henry Cowgill, January 3, 1794, one undivided quarter-interest in the lands of Eunice Osborne. He settled at the Corner, which took his name. Jabez Jenkins, November 12, 1711, bought of Richard Richardson one hundred and eighty-eight acres of land, a part of a large tract called “St. Andrew’s,” adjoining the land of John Clayton, and which was northwest of “London.” This tract of “St. Andrew’s “ is now owned by D. Mifflin Wilson. Jabez Jenkins’ land passed to his son, Timothy, and from him to his son Jabez, who, August 7, 1815, sold it to Sarah, wife of John Turner and Jonathan W. Mifflin.

Union Soldier Miniature

History Under the Bed

Virginia Black found a Tupperware container containing letters and other documents belonging to one of her ancestors, James Cooper stashed beneath her mother’s bed. She didn’t know precisely what it included, and she certainly didn’t think anyone else would care.

She was mistaken.  Materials like her mother’s are exactly what Laura Drake Davis, coordinator of The Civil War 150 Legacy Project, loves to find.

Virginia Black’s find made me curious and I took a look in the archives and found references to her ancestor.  In the January 18, 1849 edition of The National Era newspaper there is an announcement that reads:

JAMES COOPER , Whig , has been elected United States Senator from Pennsylvania, in the place of Mr. Cameron. There were three ballotings, and on the third ballot the vote stood – Brodhead 62, Cooper 66, Stevens 3.

A few months later when he took office there are announcements of his being elected to both the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Territories.   The Committee on Territories must have been an excited and challenging appointment in the mid-1800s.

The Civil War 150 Legacy Project is a collaborative effort by the state library of Virginia  and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission.   Their goal is to spend 2011 digitizing as many old documents currently in the hands of Virginia citizens as possible.  The collection they are building will by open to the public through an online portal.  The best part of this program is that the materials are scanned on the spot and they go home with the owner so historical researchers win and there are no losers.

Bill Lohmann,  the author of “Are We There Yet: A Modern American Family’s Cross-Country Adventure” and “Backroads & Byways of Virginia”, has written up the whole process used by the Legacy Project in Finding history in unlikely places in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

If you would like to participate in the Legacy Project, please locate items within your family collections that document the Civil War and the Civil-War era.

Items suitable for the Civil War 150 Legacy Project include: Original Letters, Military passes / discharge papers, Diaries, Photographs, Hand-drawn maps, Pension materials, Hand-drawn sketches, and Claims for damages by the Confederate Army or Federal Army.

The items must be owned by the individual presenting the materials for digitization. Materials that are photocopies and/or subject to United States copyright law may not be submitted for digitization. Virginians interested in having their materials scanned should consult the committee calendar to find out when the scanners will be in each county.

For general questions or for further information you may also contact the regional coordinators at cw150legacy@lva.virginia.gov.

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