Posts Tagged ‘ancestry’

I dusted off the vintage books this afternoon, not to read but to, literally, dust. Spring cleaning. I can’t just dust books. I have to smell them, hold them, and gently open the covers to reveal what might be hidden inside: the claim of former ownership, the lack of a publication date or a copyright. My heart beats a little faster and I sometimes read a paragraph or two. Cleaning vintage book shelves takes more time than simply running a duster over them.

Many of them I purchased at yard or library books sales, careful to check the copyright and condition of the covers and pages. There is a significant portion of the books on that particular shelf I was dusting that are inscribed with the names or initials of my forebears. They are not only family in the sense that all good books are family, but in the sense that someone in my direct lineage once read and treasured them and oftimes someone else read and treasured them enough to save them and pass them on to me.

Most of them were handed down through the Cusick side of my family tree from my Great-grandmother Susan (Miller) Cusick and her husband, my Great-grandfather, Oscar H. Cusick. Some are treasures from one or another of the Cusick siblings: Uncles Art and Ed and my paternal Grandmother Sylvia (Cusick) Wilcox. My father’s sister’s name is in several of the books: Mary Wilcox. A few have my grandfather’s initials in them: Fred Orson Wilcox, husband of Sylvia. The books passed down by my mother are children’s books she treasured.

The collection of mini leather-bound classics belonged to Sylvia (I never knew her, therefor she is “Sylvia” to me, not “Grandma”). The yellowed pieces of paper slipped in above the volumes are the type-written index to all the books therein. I have seen other collections similar to this at antique stores but Sylvia’s is the most complete I have so far located. Shakespeare, Browning, Poe, Lincoln, Anderson, Kipling, Carroll, Dante, Dickens, Hugo, Thoreau, Tolstoy, Emerson, Dumas, and Longfellow – just a few of the featured authors in this treasure trove of literature and poetry.

Surely Sylvia was a dreamy child and prone to spending hours with her nose in a book!

I counted 21 books in the larger size. This is a smattering of the more colorful bindings. I have read Robert Service forward and back over the years. Stevenson’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses” is charming and dreamy. the Courtship of Miles Standish (center) is a bit worse for wear on the inside – the pages are separating from the binding.

One book had a note from my dad: “This was always one of my favorites”. Neihardt’s “Song of Hugh Glass” which many a reader will recognize as the text from which the script for the movie, “The Revenant” was taken. it’s pretty heady reading in the form of an epic poem.

I need to write here who owned which books as a record of genealogy and ancestry:

Mrs. OH Cusick (Susan Miller): Ballads of a Cheechako (Service), The Spell of the Yukon (Service), and Sartor Resartus (Carlyle), Those owned by Oscar Cusick: Courtship of Miles Standish (Longfellow), Snow-Bound (Whittier), and In Memoriam (Tennyson).

Uncle Art Cusick: Tales of a Wayside Inn (Longfellow).

Uncle Ed Cusick: Whittier’s Poems (Whittier).

Sylvia (Mrs. FO Wilcox): Romeo & Juliette (Shakespeare), She must have loved that particular play!

FO Wilcox (Gramps): The Tragedy of King Lear (Shakespeare), Emerson’s Essays (Emerson), The Vicar of Wakefield (Goldsmith), and The Song of Hugh Glass (Neihardt).

Aunt Mary Wilcox: A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream (Shakespeare).

Mary Lou (Melrose) Wilcox (Mom): Campfire Girls (Jane Stewart), Mother Goose, Pilgrim’s Party (Lowitz), and A Child’s Garden of Verses (Stevenson).

I have a lot of reading to do to catch up with the ancestors (I have, in truth, read most of the books and more than once). The love of books and the love of reading runs deep in my blood. I imagine rocking chairs, a fire in the woodstove, and flickering electric lights as the books were read in the evening. I imagine a young teenager curled up with her favorite Shakespeare tale, sitting in a front window where the sun warms her and lights the pages.

These are my priceless possessions, my books. I am never so rich as what I have books to read, and better so: my ancestors read the same works.

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Where was I? Oh, researching the Scots. Got a little side-tracked by the Germans, but discovered some exciting things about my family history through those little shaking leaves on Ancestry.com. Like how German I am.

I pulled up some military records for my 3rd Great Grandfather on my maternal side: Henry B. Rowe was a Private in the 18th Division, Wisconsin Infantry, during the Civil War (that’s on the North side for those of you not familiar with history).

Both 6th Great Grandfathers up the same maternal line were Privates in the American Revolution: Benjamin Reigel (or Riegel, there’s some discrepancy in spelling so it’s either pronounced with the long I (Reigel) or the long E (Riegel). Benjamin was a Private in the 1st Battalion, Northampton County Militia (Pennsylvannia). Peter Kern was Private 2C1 under Captain Arndt’s Company, 1st Battalion of Associators, Northampton (also PA).

Peter Kern is where I ran into trouble with those cute little fluttering leaves of hints. I could accept the data leaves with verifiable written history, but the “other ancestry trees” veered way off course. I had to back way the heck up.

Start with his wife, one Catharine (Catharina) Deshler, born 11 JAN 1746 and died 11 Hmmm… February of 1825 or November of 1815. Wait… She might have been born 11 JAN 1751. Oh, and her maiden name may have been Hoffert. What the…?

I’ll explain in a minute, after I tell you about Peter.

Peter Kern was born either 11 April 1741 or 23 July 1741. He may have been known as John Peter. He died either 31 May 1820 or 25 May 1820. And his surname may have been Daudistel.

I can’t accept those”hints” because I have no record tying them together. Someone did a lot of interesting research, but how did they tie those names (and dates) together? What records?

Or did someone do what I did ONCE (and one time, only) on Ancestry? Just blindly accepted a hint because the dates were similar and the names were “close enough” that maybe there was room for doubt?


Do NOT accept those hints. Back off. Find another way to verify this person is your ancestor. I now need to find the birth records, marriage records, death records – the actual verifiable bits of history to tie up the loose ends of the Kern/Deshler connections. The children are right and the siblings match, but where the heck did those alternate surnames come in?

UGH. I have a headache just thinking about untangling that web of misinformation.

On the other hand, I as able to follow the hints into the Rheinland down that same maternal line by veering into a paternal line. 6th great Grandfather Benjamin Riegel’s father, Matthias, immigrated from Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany during the early 1700’s. His spouse, Maria Margaetha (Unknown) immigrated around the same time from Rheinland-Palatine.

BINGO: family came out of the German Palatine immigration.My husband’s ancestors also immigrated from the same area around the same time (darn! We might be related outside of marriage – haha). I know another family line came out of the same area (too tired to look it up, but it was up a patriarchal line on my father’s side).

What is interesting to me is how much more connected I am to the Scots/Irish connections than to the German, although the German probably played a greater role in my DNA. Considering how religious the Palatine Germans were, when did that heritage drop off and the Irish/Scots Protestant kick in? (Pretty certain my German ancestors were Protestant, although many were Catholic).

I’m excited about the possibilities even though I feel I’ve reached a dead end up this particular family line as Ancestry has proven ambiguous. But never trust in a single source. I’ll just have to go old school on this line, so I am tabling it for now.

I did save documents about occupations (a lot of carpenters in there), military records, and how people died. Certain records are historic proof.

Oh-Oh-Oh! Rose became Rau the closer I got to Germany. Heinrich Rau was my fourth great grandfather, but the spelling of his surname quickly changed to Rowe, and his son, Johannes, became John. I can trace that and the names are similar enough to make that transition.

Common names often went through a period of misspellings: Presley/Priestly/Pressler/Pressley or Willcocks/Wilcox/Willcox. Johannes is the same as John in German. Rau to Rowe is a simple hop. Americanization. Assimilation. I even noted one stenographer who interpreted the hand-written “ROWE” signature to be “RONE” (I looked at the record. It’s clearly ROWE to me).

But Daudistel to Kern??? Or Deshler to Hoffert??? That’s not a simple leap. And the disparate birth/death dates are a huge red flag.  I’m backing way the heck off on that one until my brain quits hurting.

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6f61bd97-961f-420f-9c8d-36147952a501Thomas Force Palmer 1787-1865

I found a hand-written “history” of the Palmer clan in my file cabinet that I have reserved solely for genealogy. This is where I stuffed everything my father sent me: all my mother’s notes on her side of the family, and anything my dad had on his side of the family. My father was the grandson of John and Irene Wilcox. Joseph Snow Palmer was my great-great-great grandfather.

I have not researched the hand-written history, but I am going to transcribe it below (verbatim). It was written in pencil on faded note-paper, but is still legible. I’d like to capture it before it fades completely.

Here goes:

Coat of Arms was granted to Ralph Palmer in 14 century and brought (?) to the coming of the clan to America.

Ralph Palmer was of great note in the South of England and resided at Sussex. Sir Edward who was a descendant in the 8th generation was our ancestor. he (sic) married a daughter of Sir Richard Clement. She had three sons (think of it3) (sic) triplets and they were born on three successive Sundays, the first one on Palm Sunday*. Some Record (see coat of arms)**

The first of Palmers of our line in America: William. He came from Sommersetshire, England in 1621 on the good ship Fortune. He had a son, William. The second Wm. was a lieutenant under Capt. Miles Standish and has been designated as Lieutenant William Palmer. he was a man of large affairs and held many positions of trust. He married Judith Feake and had five sons & one daughter. One of his sons Ephraim married Sarah Messenger & they had seven children. One of whom was John, who married Sarah Close and had five children, one being Justus who married Amy Lockwood and had six children, all sons & the third of these was Ephraim our Revolutionary ancestor.

He was born in 1760, married Margaret Force in 1786 and had 11 children, seven sons and four daughters. The eldest of these was Thomas Force Palmer born in 1787. Married Rebecca Snow 1813 and then had six children, four girls & 2 boys.

Joseph Snow Palmer, b. 1819

*I’m trying to verify that story. Sounds like a tall tale: giving birth to triplets, but each one a week apart, beginning on Palm Sunday?? I can verify the boys were triplets, but not the story. That link also hints at the tragic death of my ancestor, Sir Thomas Palmer. (Cause of death: beheaded after the Lady Jane Grey conspiracy.) That bears a lot more research!


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