Saturday, August 31, 2013

Muskingum County ~ Pottery Capital of the World

Muskingum County Courthouse
Zanesville, Ohio
The first families I tracked into Ohio were the Cullins and the Cordrays and allied families. These are my father’s people and they were in Muskingum County very early.  Everything about Muskingum is interesting to me from the name to the rivers to the pioneers. This is a place where I’d like to do some genealogical digging, or vacationing, or visiting.

I did it backwards today. I’d already done most of the research I needed to complete the history page for the book.  I wrapped that up early. It has been a hot, humid, miserable day – not quite as bad as yesterday – as there was a slight breeze – but bad enough without AC.  Yahoo tells me that right now it 5:00 PM it is 89°- ugh.  I have a feeling we’ll have to cut the bridge game short tomorrow because it will be Tuesday before we have a break. I’m wondering what the weather is like in Muskingum County, Ohio right now. . .it is later in the evening as they 2,338 miles east of here.  Well, it’s not much different.  They had a high of 86. Right now it is 79 and they are expecting 69 and isolated thunderstorms. Alas, we have no rain but yesterday the air was so moist that a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky.
I’m staying home this Labor Day Weekend but I wonder what is going on back in Ohio. I see that there is a Rib Cook-Off at the county fairgrounds – Yum!  Other than that it looks like a quiet Labor Day.  But, coming up starting Sept 7-Oct 31 is something I would love – a Corn Maze. How fun! Coming up in mid-September is The Ohio Show – an annual juried art  show. 

John Glenn
Muskingum County is famous for its pottery. I could spend a whole trip looking for the perfect pot! Have you ever tried to throw a pot on a wheel? I tried, I failed and I admire those who can.  No romantic evenings with the wheel and some clay a la Ghost for me. Sigh.  I wonder if any of their famous citizens got their hands into the clay – see if you can imagine astronaut John Glenn or actor Richard Basehart, or writer Zane Grey covered in the sticky stuff.  Hm, maybe not but I can see Agnes Morehead turning out a nice bowl or pitcher.
Whether you are off on a three day jaunt, picnicking with family, or catching up with the yard work I hope you have a fun and relaxing Labor Day.

Agnes Moorehead
Bewitched, 1969
 Photos: Wikipedia

Zanesville-Muskingum County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

Friday, August 30, 2013

Miami County - from Quakers to Barn Quilts

Right or wrong I have a certain picture of Miami County in my head. Regardless of whether or not the name originated with a Native American word, or the Miami Tribe, or the Miami River . . . Miami evokes palm trees and beaches, Cuban food and Jewish Delis. Having lived in Florida a very long time it can’t be helped!

George Fox, founder of
The Society of Friends
There is another picture that comes to mind and this starts in another culture in a different time – the culture of the Deep South. Newberry County, South Carolina and Miami County, Ohio will always be linked in my mind. We have Quaker ancestors, a lot of them, back to the earliest beginnings in England. For a time, though, I lost them.  They just didn’t seem to hook-up with the Friends around Philadelphia as I had expected. Imagine my surprise when I found that they were in South Carolina and had come there via Barbados, probably through Charleston.  At first this just didn’t seem possible. I’m a northerner – in my heart rooting for the Union Army, working with the abolitionist, helping people along the Underground Railroad.  I couldn’t imagine that I had ancestors from South Carolina. These are my father's people.

Well, in the late 1700s a fiery minister visited that Newberry meeting where so many of my Quaker ancestors were and he spoke like a prophet of God and he told the Friends of Newberry to go north to Ohio, to leave their slaves and the slave owning states in the dust. He said he could see blood in their meeting house. Not all of the Friends owned slaves but those who did freed them.  Many of those Newberry Friends took his advice and a large portion of that community moved north to Ohio . . . and established a community and homes in Miami County. Did his prophesy come true? When the Civil War inevitably rolled around the old Quaker meeting house was used as a field hospital and there was indeed blood.

Over 100 years beyond the Civil War my husband and I visited Newberry, the cemetery, the courthouse, and chatted with the welcoming citizens of this South Carolina town who still felt financial reverberations of being abandoned by such a large group of prosperous farmers.  I would have to say that Newberry’s loss was Miami’s gain.  I notice that Miami County has a township named ‘Newberry.’  Most of my ancestors lived in Union Township near Ludow Falls.  I was surprised today to find nothing about the Quaker community when I perused websites for Miami information.  Such reference may be there, but I missed it. Of course, many of the Friends moved on to Indiana and then on to Iowa as territory opened up, but they must have had an impact on the county when they arrived from South Carolina.

Leaving the Quakers, what I did find on-line today was Reminiscences of Abraham Thomas from the Troy Times, 16 Jan 1868. This is a frontiersman’s story that begins in Kentucky and ends in Ohio. Look at the date that it was written. There is nothing PC about this – he is telling his truth as it was at the time he was living it. It is an interesting read:

Martha Washington Star
Miami County, Ohio
The other thing I’d like to share about Miami County is the wonderful Barn Quilt project. Miami isn’t the only county in Ohio to have this project but they have done it big and done it well.  I sat today and clicked on every barn to see the beautiful quilt squares that have been painted on them by Jose Rafael Santoyo.  The project’s primary sponsor is the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau and the barns are a way to connect the small towns and get people out on the road to see them. I’d say this project is a smashing success. There are a couple of links to follow.

At Barn Quilt Tour of Miami County you will find more information of these beautiful quilts.  Don’t miss it!

Vermont Barn Quilt
Miami County, Ohio

Photos: Microsoft Clipart, Palms, Red barn
             Wikipedia: George Fox, Museum
    - Barn Quilts

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Knox County - There a "Turkey in the Straw"! For Grandpa Disney

William Fidler
I’ve added Knox County to the list, not because our ancestors pioneered there, but because Grandpa Disney’s ancestors were farming there. I planned this blog post as a nice birthday present for him, but I’ve missed it by one day. Yes, he is my step-father. He has been in my life since I was four – a very long time – long enough to add nurturing influence on the flip side of nature. There are similarities in our families.  Some of his family was Quaker like ours. Some of them lived in Maryland, Ohio, and Iowa like ours. He may be more closely related, in a genetic sense, to Walt Disney, but going back to England and before that to the Normans he shares direct line ancestors on our massive family tree – and in great numbers, which in a twisted way makes us related to old Walt, as well (without the Disney money, of course). J
Jane Anne Murphy
I’m past the halfway point in the county journey. Inevitably they are all Ohio counties and therefore have a similar history. Some of them have similar geography. You can count on snow in the winter in all of them. There is farming almost everywhere. As similar as the counties are they all have a unique character and something special and of value to offer.  
What about famous people? Well, Johnny Appleseed (YouTube video) lived in Knox before moving on to plant trees in Indiana. Here’s one you might know. Luke Perry graduated from high school in Knox County. The county is mostly rural with a few very nice middle-American villages and towns. The history was pretty familiar – a few ancient mounds – Indians on the warpath – when looking for early settlers the faint of heart need not apply. There was the same kind of growth – the mill, the bank, the school, the church. I was beginning to despair in finding anything unique to write about. And then. .
Knox County captured my heart.
[Note: the website I originally had in this place disappeared.] Here is one from the Knox County Chamber of Commerce.

And then. . . I found this website:   The site is chock full of information but the best things are the series of videos you’ll find in the center of the page. 
Now, about the videos: A rails to trails project is on-going in Ohio to take the old railroad bed trail from the Ohio River near Cincinnati diagonally across the state to Lake Erie. Knox County has been proactive in completing their several sections of the trail and you may want to check out a video or two on the trails. Don’t miss the video on the Tree Frog Canopy Tours – the zip-lining looks like great fun. Another is the one on Knox County’s most famous son. You may never have heard of him but you certainly should know his songs!  Don’t miss the video “The Life and Times of Dan Emmett.” We had a great grandfather who played the violin and fiddled at barn dances and he no doubt played some of Emmett’s songs. The next video on the list made me smile – it is dorky and cute and a lot of fun – a flash mob at the street fair at Mt. Vernon to “We Built This City on Rock and Roll.”  There is also a video on the Mohican Pow Wow.
Knox is another of Ohio’s counties I’d love to visit. The list is getting long – I’d better start planning a road trip!      

Johnny Appleseed

Happy Birthday, Dad! [Note: Dad Disney passed May 10, 2016. I hope he's out there planting seedlings with Johnny Appleseed. He would love that!]

Monday, August 26, 2013

Highland County - a great place for hiking!

Today I’m thinking about the beautiful Ohio hill county between the Little Miami and Scioto River called Highland County. It was a place that Geren children and grandchildren called home. The Geren family and the allied Bolender family started out in Brown County, but as Highland County became available for settlement the family made a move and lived near Whiteoak Creek. (These are my mother’s people.)

Highland is a county that is mostly rural with some manufacturing and tourism. There are State Parks and preserves and if you want to get back to nature, hike, canoe, or spot birds this is the place. An interesting feature is the 1 ½ mile earthwork called Ft. Hill State Memorial, an archaeological site dating from 100 BC-500 AD. It was most likely a walled village. What is left only whispers of an ancient culture and hiking in ancient footsteps must be intriguing.

Ft Hill on the Gorge Trail, Bob Platt
While looking for photos of Ft. Hill I came across an excellent blog called TrekOhio - Exploring Ohio's Nature Preserves and Parks. While my blog is documenting my long distance experience of following our Ohio ancestors, Bob and Deb Platt are out there in person. Their website is a great place to check out beautiful photos and pick that perfect hiking experience. A link on TrekOhio led me to another fantastic website, Arc of Appalachia.  This is a non-profit working for the preservation and conservation of the forests.
There are two famous people from Highland County that entered our lives in a personal way.  The first was Milton Caniff, a cartoonist who came into our homes daily in the newspaper comic strip, Steve Canyon.   The second had a profound effect on my life in an odd way.  She was Eliza Jane Thompson. “Who?” you might say. She was the founder of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WTCU). “What?” you might ask. Even back when I was a teen this was an old-fashioned and fading organization but I’d like to say, “Thank you, Eliza, for the good example.” 
The summer I was thirteen my friend Jacki called one day to see if I wanted to go to a summer camp. Having nothing else planned I said yes before I had a clue what this ‘camp’ was all about. My family members were not smokers and they seldom drank anything stronger that iced tea. I don’t ever recall a beer in the fridge or at a picnic. They were good role models.  I may have taken a spot in that camp that should have gone to someone more at risk.
The dear ladies of the WTCU were running a camp with a mission and that mission was to keep young people from falling into the unhealthful evils of smoking and drinking. They held classes each day. Even though I was not ever tempted to smoke or drink – why should I, the adults in my life didn’t – the WTCU made a big impression.  They had a clear, plastic mechanical smoking man (well, just the upper torso) and when it smoked you could see the nicotine that quickly built up in its lungs. Yuk, who would want to do that to themselves? At the end of the camp we were asked to sign a pledge that we wouldn’t smoke or drink – and drugs, it went without saying back then, people from good families didn’t do drugs – it wasn’t part of the culture and was found only in the lowest rungs of society. Drugs destroy lives and the greedy profiteers with no regard for human life were coming down the road in a few years to suck away young lives for profit. In the end it is all about money – at a terrible cost.  Maybe educating our young people and asking them to sign a pledge isn’t a bad idea.
I’ve honored that pledge preferring to experience life as it comes instead of through some altered state.  I was able to pass along to my children a healthful lifestyle, which I hope in turn they are passing to their children. I’m sure our ancestors brought some of those same values with them from Ohio.

Covered Bridge, Highland County
Photos: Covered Bridge,
             Ft Hill,
             Wedding & Beach photos - Jacqueline Feasel

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Harrison County, Ohio - Anniversarys

Harrison County Courthouse
This blog started with our Robb family and Harrison County a year ago (one year!). During the year I reread Conrad Richter and it seems this is the area the Luckett family walked into from Pennsylvania. No wonder the books rang true for me.  I need further research, but our Karscadden (Skadden) and Moore families probably arrived pretty much as did the characters in The Trees.  The Robb family arrived in the mid-1800s from Northern Ireland during a period of settlement and growth that evokes The Fields.
The county abounded with game and fish. It was hilly, rugged and beautiful. There were natural resources, such as coal, to be discovered. And, if you could wrest the land from the trees there was rich soil for crops and the raising of sheep. There was hope and promise.

Reading the reality of today is a little sad. This is Appalachia. Virgin forests were cut. Coal mining
Appalachian Ohio in green
took over rich farmland. The area lost population after the land was mined and stripped for its coal.  The unemployment and poverty levels are higher than average. That being said there is so much of value and so much promise. There are ample wilderness areas for hunting deer and wild turkey (I’m a proponent of hunting with a camera, but if you need game for food the animals are plentiful.) There are three large lakes behind dams in Harrison County making it a recreational jewel. I can imagine the fishing and boating are rather fabulous.  

Gen. George Armstrong Custer

Like many of the Ohio counties, Harrison has a strong abolitionist past. There are some quirky and eclectic famous sons. This place produced Clark Gable, who can forget that famous line - "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.", and General George Armstrong Custer who died with his men at the Little Big Horn. Edwin Stanton, President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, hailed from the area; in fact there seemed to be a strong Harrison County presence around the embattled Civil War president. This wasn’t just a rural area filled with country folk. Franklin College turned out educators, ministers and attorneys ready to spread the doctrine of abolition. “Graduates of this small institution included eight United States Senators, nine Members of Congress, several governors, and twenty state legislators.”*  Franklin also produced the first African American college graduate in Ohio.**

What would I do if I had a chance to go to Harrison County?  I’d spend a few days exploring nature, boating, fishing and relaxing – maybe even find a 4 wheeler. I’d spend a few days more visiting villages, museums, and looking at cottage crafts.  Then I’d get serious about genealogy – courthouse, cemeteries, plat maps, and local experts – I’d have field day! 

*Harrison County Community Improvement Corp. -
**Wikipedia -,_Ohio)
Photos: Wikipedia Commons

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hamilton County, energy center of the Universe! . . .er, really?

Hopping from one metropolitan area to the next seems a bit weird to me because I think of Ohio as an agricultural state. Of course, when our families were there they were farming, even in the counties which now contain large cities. We’ve moved from Columbus, the capital of Ohio, to the rip-roarin’ river town of Cincinnati in Hamilton County.

Rip-roarin’, that is how I thinking of it as of today, August 19. Yesterday the only picture it evoked (having never been there) is baseball. It seems, due to the Ohio River and the other rivers that empty into it, that Cincinnati was always destined to be something really special. Not necessarily good, often naughty, sometimes

Courthouse Riot, 1884
famous and just as often notorious. Colorful would describe its sketchy past; and sad her race riots and poverty. Still all of that is mixed with greatness – and comes along with the larger-than-life energy of place. In this place temperance crusaders battled with cultures that favored a good drink as part of their lifestyle. In this place abolitionists fought with slave-holding sympathizers and worked hard to run the Underground Railroad. From the beginning Cincinnatians drew into opposing camps and battled each other, or the Native Americans they had displaced, or the soldiers from Fort Washington who were there to keep the peace.

I read that even today the majority of voters in Hamilton Country are Independents. Now, that just
Harriett Beacher Stowe House
Cincinnati, Ohio
fits, doesn’t it? They have many famous sons and daughters. It is amazing, considering the size of Ohio that so many of the governors have come from Hamilton County. Harriett Beach Stowe lived there, and two presidents called it home, William Henry Harrison and William Howard Taft. It is a place where culture and education have always been hallmarks. I feel energized just reading about Cincinnati!

From almost the beginning the area had river pirates, bootleggers, hostile Indians, rowdy soldiers, large groups of Irish and German immigrants, and slaves coming from the south with a desperate need to be free – what a mix! Plus there were the movers and shakers, the politicians and the builders, the meatpackers, and the iron workers. The energy on that spot – Hamilton County must be electric.

I hear that they are working hard now to bring the downtown back to life and with the energy it has (probably boiling up from the center of the earth) I can see that the city is rising up like a phoenix to greatness  – and all her citizens proud of their great city. All part of Hamilton County.

Photos: Stowe House, Courthouse Riot, & Cincinnati from Kentucky
Clipart: Phoenix
MaryLu Tyndall's webpage 'The Cross and Cutlass':

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Franklin County, Ohio

It was another perfect 75° day in SoCal.  Checking the weather for Columbus, Ohio I see it was only a little warmer. They have thunder storms and 90 °predicted for the upcoming week – something we definitely do not have; but right now there is only 2° difference in our temp.

Franklin County Government Center
I was looking at Franklin County today. There seems to be something warm and inviting in a place named for Benjamin Franklin. One of my best friends, a friend from high school (long ago), has lived there most of her life and comfortably calls it home. My Dad enjoyed his business trips to Columbus – flying in for meetings at Nationwide Insurance. He regrets not having the time to drive up the road to Knox County to see where his family came from. 

My mother’s mother’s family farmed in and around Reynoldsburg. I see today it is a large suburb of Columbus and that “Bow Wow” is a famous son. That brought a smile.

I liked the story of this capital city, how Zanesville and Chillicothe were just not quite right, so they went to the center and picked a site with great river transportation capability and said, like Brigham Young, “this is the place.”  And then, like Washington D.C., in 1812 they started building a city where there wasn’t one and by 1814 the Ohio Statehouse was completed.  They started fresh.  That is a pleasing story.

I’m still sorting through the family who lived there – the ones who found their way there from other states and died there, and the ones who were born there and wandered westward to Iowa.  Their name was Bingaman. For a time they proudly claimed Franklin County, Columbus, and Reynoldsburg as home. I found Civil War Soldiers.
These Are My Jewels Civil War Monument
Columbus, Ohio
They had lots of kids, several brothers owned farms near each other.  For the children this must have been cousin heaven. There’s something special about cousins. You can feel the bond of kinship.

The people of Columbus are not without humor. I found that there is an ‘official’ weather motto – “if you don’t like the weather wait five minutes it will change!”  Love it.
Photos: Microsoft Clipart War Monument, Ohio Statehouse
Government Center

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Erie County, Ohio

What do I say about Erie County, Ohio?  It is the only county where I have spent any time.  It was the late 80s and my son had a full scholarship to Bowling Green State University. We drove him up – all new territory for the three of us.  I remember how beautiful Kentucky was, especially the thoroughbred horse farms.  My other memory? There was a reception for freshmen and their parents. Everyone was so comfortable with each other, or knew each other, and they were so ‘Ohio’ -- except for us. I really don’t know how my son felt.  I didn’t feel welcomed; I suppose my husband felt that way, too. We were outsiders in this crowd of Midwesterners. Our son was a gifted musician and deserved his scholarship but I left him with some hesitation . . . this Florida boy . . .  we were strangers in a strange land – Ohio.  We made sure he found his dorm and I hoped I was wrong and that we hadn’t just left him in the lion’s den.

Did he stay? Well, it could be that after that initial reception he found his Ohio school mates more welcoming but lions did roar in off the Great Lake carrying lake-effect snow and freezing temperatures. And by the end of that first semester our Florida boy put down his trumpet, gave up the scholarship, and came home to Florida State to major in creative writing. I’m sure he could write about Ohio.

So this I know, it gets pretty darned cold in Erie County. When I started looking into county history and checked to see who our ancestors were there I found the same problem that I had with Darke and Miami Counties . . . Eire was formed from Huron County. Our ancestor lived in Oxford Township; probably close the border of the two counties. 

And I got so carried away with the genealogy and the puzzles there I ran out of time to look into the history of Erie/Huron County.  In the 1870 census there is my 4th great grandmother, Sarah "Sally" Case Carskadden (1785-1871). She lived at Four Corners. At first it looks as if this 84 year old woman was living by herself, but there was something about the name of the people next door, it rang a bell. . . they were her step-mother’s people. There has to be a story there. Why wasn’t she living with her own children?
Here is a photo of Sarah Case Carskadden.  Like so many farm women of this era she doesn't look happy, and her work-worn hands tell the tale that 'women's work is never done.' This is my mother’s 3th great grandmother on her father’s side – her father’s father’s family. She also favored her father’s mother’s family.  Echoes from the past.  

Clip art, photo Wikipedia

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Darke County, Ohio

Quaker Star
When is a county not a county? Before it’s created. I’m not sure I need to have Darke County on my list. Most states (maybe all) were formed with larger counties and then the area was chopped into
smaller counties when the population grew.  This is my problem with Darke.  My 4th great grandparents, like many of their Quaker friends (no pun intended) and relatives lived in Miami County.  I’m assuming that John and Susannah Elleman lived in the same house on the same farm, but when Susannah died in in 1810 she died and was buried in Miami County, and when John died in 1818 he died in Wayne Township, Darke County and was buried in Miami County.  So, does Darke County count when he lived there less than a year?  I do believe some of Susannah Coppock relatives lived in Darke County. 
Darke County Courthouse
I have a warm place in my heart for Darke County regardless. There was an email from Brenda of the Garst Museum in Greenville this morning.  She was kind enough to write and recommend the Beers publication History of Darke County Ohio, 1880. This is a very useful resource and the online search function is extremely helpful in quickly finding the information you need.  I know that Beers published a lot of this kind of book back in the day – it was their business, and I’m grateful. I’m also twice tickled. Beers is a family name of ours.  I have no idea if the publisher is related. But, there’s another I’d like to claim.  John Beers was listed as one of the two first teachers in Darke County from 1818-1830.

Darke County has a rich Native American history as well as a pioneer history – and there was an historical coming together of the tribes and Americans in 1795 for the signing of the Green Ville Treaty. The gathering was impressive and I will not repeat the list of attendees here but highly recommend the account found on the Garst Museum website:’ve been a huge fan and follower of the adventures of Lewis and Clark . . . and even they were at this meeting in what would become Darke County. This meeting was national in scope and opened up the Northwest Territory to white settlement. Well, you know how American/Indian Treatys ended up. 
Lab Technician
It was a gorgeous day with sunshine and a nice ocean breeze – in the 70s – in other words, perfect. I survived my two day fast surprisingly well and then felt it the perfect time to go get those fasting blood tests the doctor has been nagging me about.  Yay!  I got to eat after that.  Michael Mosley’s book arrived today . . . this is going to work!  Whoa, and when I turned on the TV this evening there he was doing his exercise program. I'm notoriously sedentary and don't like to exercise.  But, he has me convinced that sitting long periods of time in a chair will kill you.  I'm going to get up and move much more every day doing everyday things - and never sit through a commercial on TV!
Photos:  Darke County Courthouse, Quaker Star Wikipedia,  Dracula Microsoft Clipart

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Coshocton County, Ohio

This is the second day of a two day partial fast (500 calories) and I’m feeling pretty hungry right now. Maybe if I type I’ll forget about it.  I didn’t have to do two days in a row – it’s supposed to be any two days of the week, but I surprised myself today by wanting to get the second day behind me.  Do I notice any improvement so far?  Well yes. By eating only 500 calories I cut way back on salt consumption and even after one day my blood pressure improved. I never add salt to anything but it is part of so many things we eat that it is impossible to avoid. The other five days I'm eating my usual stuff but I'm watching the salt!

Today I’ve been looking at Coshocton County, Ohio.  (There are some lovely photos of the county on this website - click on the link!) It is an important county for our family as our people were some of the first to settle there.  I have to correct that. Coshocton was the ‘capital’ for the Delaware tribe, they were there first . . .  so I have to say some of the first white settlers were our Draper and Meredith families. 

Walhonding River
Tuscarawas River
I had difficulty finding history notes on this county. There was plenty of genealogical information but basically the history blurbs were all the same. The Coshocton County should get the prize for the most unusual name. It is a phonetic spelling of a Delaware word meaning ‘black bear crossing’ or ‘where the rivers join.’ The rivers Walhonding and Tuscarawas join in the county to form the Muskingum River, a primary Ohio watercourse.

Little Muskingum River

If you travel to Coshocton today you will find a tourist attraction – a pioneer village called Roscoe.  They have an annual ‘apple butter stirrin’ that sounds yummy. There’s a quilt exhibit and other country activities in the area. The one thing I don’t want to miss is a ride on the refurbished horse-drawn canal boat on part of what was once the Ohio and Erie Canal. Hmm. I wonder if I’ll have to bring mosquito repellant. There is a winery in Coshocton County but I’m heading right for the apple butter! Golly, who would have guessed there was so much to do in Ohio!
My 5th great grandfather, Isaac Draper, was the first to register property ownership in Tiverton Township. I’d like to see where that farm was – and oh, wouldn’t it be grand to find a written account of his pioneer experience.  Our Meredith family settled in New Castle Township. These are my mother’s people.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Clermont County, Ohio

I’m feeling my way around an elephant wearing a blindfold. No, that’s not right – the elephant isn’t wearing the blindfold. Let’s try again.  It seems like I’m wearing a blindfold and feeling my way around an elephant. That’s kind of what it feels like to describe counties you’ve never seen.  All I know is what I find on the computer. That’s not a bad thing; of course, there is a lot of information out there. But, how does it feel?
Today I did get a feeling and it was very cold.  My body did an involuntary shiver. I came to a website – and I’ve lost it now – which was for a township in Clermont County, Ohio.  One of the things they sponsored was a winter photography contest.  So many of the photos I've seen of Ohio are green and warm. These winter photos reminded me of the reality – it gets very cold there and sometimes lots of snow falls. Brrrr! Others have waxed poetic. While Googling the photo contest I was directed to the whimsical Ohio Winter Poem posted on Jo Dupree's blog. Love it! I grew up in Iowa with sub-zero temperatures, snow, and random blizzards.  But, since I was young I haven’t lived anywhere that snows – unless you count trips to the mountains for recreation.  I’m not sure I could handle winter anymore.

Another feeling I had for Clermont County came from its proximity to Cincinnati. These days it must be a bedroom community for the city.  I know how that feels and I remember watching and experiencing mostly rural Seminole County, Florida turn into a bedroom community for Orlando. I know the feeling of being in that outlying county and still living close enough that when Dad called to say, “Hey, let’s go see the Orlando Magic play tonight!” it was doable. That would be like running in from Clermont County to watch the Reds play baseball.   Well, actually, this past weekend I could have called a friend to say - "Let's go watch the Padres play the Reds - they were in San Diego - so you don't have to be in Clermont County to see the Reds win.
What I’m looking for is what it was like when my ancestors arrived. Andrew and Catherine Apple were very early settlers in Batavia Township, Clermont County. They came from Pennsylvania and walked inland away from the Ohio River with its floods and pirates. Sometime before 1798 they purchased 2100 acres of wilderness, cleared the land, and raised eleven children. They probably had a hand in starting the small community of Olive Branch.  There once was a post office there but no longer – the only thing left is the cemetery where Andrew and Catherine are buried. 
David Kennedy reported on that Andrew gave each of his children 150 acres.  I’m sure the old folks were hoping their children would settle around them.  That didn’t seem to work as the siren call of fresh lands in Indiana drew the children away. Andrew and Catherine were my 6th great grandparents. Their daughter, Anna Maria, married a Clermont County boy, Peter Bolender and off they went to Indiana.  You just can’t hold ‘em down when the West is calling.  I wonder, once they moved to Indiana . . . did they ever see their parents again?  I do know that in Indiana some of their siblings were near. Maybe 2100 acres became an anchor instead of a blessing.

Clermont County has a rich and interesting history. You will find the highlights at

winter scene -, other photos -

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Brown County, Ohio

Ulysses S. Grant
President Ulysses S. Grant sat down to write his autobiography when he was finished with politics and war. What a wonderful thing he did. He started off with his life as a boy in Brown County, Ohio. I remember how excited I was to read his boyhood story. I knew we had family in Brown County about the same time.  They could have been neighbors, or met at the ferry – but they didn’t have to meet for this book to relay to me and my children what life was like in Brown County. It is a treasure. Grant could write well and the book was a best seller and it has been reissued. (Please note the comments under Clermont County that point out the Grant was born in Clermont and the family moved to Brown County when he was still a toddler. Clermont proudly claims him as their own and his birthplace is open to the public.)
Because of President Grant’s introduction to Brown County I was looking forward to diving in today and putting together my page.  It’s been a tough weekend.  Two days, Friday and Saturday shuttling between home and the vet and serious worry over the dangerous heartworm treatment my dog is receiving. I live in California where heartworms are not common, and still, coming out of Animal Control Beatrice tested positive and has been enduring a painful and expensive treatment. I mention this because there is a heartworm prevention pill out there so please be sure your dog is protected.  Heartworms are a death sentence and not all dogs survive the treatment – prevention is key.  Apparently the nasty worms are moving into California so beware.

Today was bridge day – a complex game I’m just learning. Luckily three patient women who are experienced players are willing to come over to teach.  Bea enjoys bridge day and it was a good, restful time for her. But, remember I’m doing one county a day. So this morning it was important that I get up and do the research before the game began.  I got so wrapped up in the research it took me right up to game time.

I am in love. I thought I could spend a very pleasant weekend in rural Belmont County. If I had to move east from San Diego I might give Brown County, Ohio some serious thought.  I could easily visit for a week, a month, or maybe a year (well maybe for only one winter).

It is beautiful, historical, and there is so much to do – a busy calendar all year. They’ve captured my heart. No wonder my ancestors liked it there.

In Brown County there is a great interest in the Civil War and the Underground Railroad.  You can paddle, fish, ferry over the Ohio River into Kentucky, or if you are in the mood for big city life you can go up the road to Cincinnati. 

Who were our Brown Countians? I’m going to have to do some more research on John Geren and Easter Hill Geren. The information I have says Highland and Brown Counties. They were apparently on White Oak Creek and possibly on the border between the two counties where the creek crosses. Some of their children ended up in Brown County and some in Highland. Like many early Ohioans, John and Easter were born in Pennsylvania. They are my 5th great grandparents. Their son married Catherine Bolender from Clermont County. Catherine’s father Stephen Bolender died in Clermont County but her mother, Margreta Schenckel died in 1804 at Boudes Ferry, Brown County (Come to think of it, in 1804 that was still part of Clermont in the future Brown County).  I believe her family at one time owned the ferry.  Well, it isn’t all clear but like I say, I’ll be glad to visit beautiful Brown County to track them down. (See my link above 'ferry over the Ohio River' to see that the Boudes Ferry site is only one of two still crossing the Ohio River today.)

Everyone has a story and no we aren’t all U.S. Grant – but if you write your story someday your family will think it a wonderful treasure. Start writing!
PS - For the first time ever I had the high score in bridge! Maybe Brown County brought me luck!

Photos: Microsoft Clipart, Wikipedia, 
Sources: The American Heartworm Society

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Belmont County

Belmont County Courthouse in St. Clairsville
A good part of the day I was sitting in San Diego County but immersed in Belmont County, Ohio. In this mostly rural county that is located in Ohio’s section of Appalachia I could picture a lovely fall-ish day with golden leaves and strolling through the pumpkin festival with a friend, going out to
Dickinson’s and returning with great photos of Texas Longhorn cattle, visiting a country church and Crabapple Cemetery. We might catch a boat ride on the Ohio River and stop in Wheeling, West Virginia for dinner. The next day I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to see Dysart Woods – an unglaciated primeval oak forest.
I’d stop at the Underground Railroad Museum and purchase a lovely glass vase at the Imperial Glass Museum as a memento of the trip. I’d stop at the impressive county courthouse in St Clairsville and then go to Flushing and Stillwater Creek near Sewellsville to see if I could find the locations that 
William Dean Howells
were once family owned.  I have a feeling it would be a very nice weekend.  I found no mention of 'the birthplace' of William Dean Howells, Belmont County's most famous son. Certainly there must be a nod to the Dean of American Letters, the shaper of modern American literature, and editor of the Atlantic Monthly. He died in 1920 and possibly there aren't enough who remember his large presence in the literary world; but I hope somewhere, maybe a library, there is a nod to this great man and a complete collection of his work.

My 4th great grandparents John and Mary Scarborough Moore were Marylanders who married at St. John’s Parish in Harford County Maryland, where they settled and raised a family of thirteen children. When John died at the age of 49 in 1825, Mary and most of the children turned toward new lives in the wilderness of Ohio. The children ended up in various counties but Mary and her sons, Joseph and Amos, and her daughters, Charity and Emily settled with their families in Belmont County. At first Mary located at Stillwater Creek near Sewellsville. I can see her walking along Zane's Trace and deciding she'd traveled far enough. Later on she made her home with Joseph, who lived east of Flushing. The Moore’s were Presbyterians and they lived near the Crabapple Presbyterian Church.  Mary was buried in Crabapple Cemetery.
My third great grandparents were George Carscadden (often shortened to Scadden or Skadden, or spelled Karscadden) and Margaret Ann Moore.  They settled in Harrison County and raised 6 children in addition to the three girls from Margaret’s earlier marriage to John Moffat.  It was George and Margaret’s daughter, Susanna, who married John Clarence Robb. My mother’s maiden name was Robb and these are her people.

Photos:  Appalachia Counties; Wikipedia