Monday, July 31, 2017

Saturday Challenge: The Case of Lead Poisoning

Randy Seaver's GeneaMusing's Saturday Challenge from last week:

1) The Family History Hound listed 20 Questions about your Ancestor, and I'm going to use some of them in the next few months. 2) Please answer the question - "What was the biggest surprise you found about an ancestor?"

John Tobias Gravestone

Perhaps the biggest surprise I encountered was when I discovered that an ancestor had apparently caused a case of lead poisoning as it might be delicately put. Less delicately, he committed murder followed by suicide.

One day early in my research, I was trying to find information about a fourth great-grandfather, John Tobias (1764-1830) and his wife, Polly (Gaffin) Tobias (1773-1830). He died the 16th of August and she the 17th and both are buried in a small abandoned cemetery in the town of Springport, Cayuga County, New York.

The cemetery is referred to in records as Great Gully Cemetery or Tobias Cemetery. It is in fact, either next door to or on the property of the house they owned and raised their family in. I haven’t found out yet whether John got this as Revolutionary Bounty land or if, more likely, he bought it from the recipient shortly after the lands were awarded. He was awarded some land as the heir of a deceased soldier, but that was probably a few miles away.

Although the property had long since been sold out of the family, in the last generations a family bought the property as part of their farm. At the time, they didn't realize that they could trace their ancestry back to these owners, the first ones to build a house on it. Accompanying these cousins, I have explored this cemetery and found the depression where the cellar of the house had once stood.
The remains of the homestead

Yet, the surprising part of the story occurred before I knew where they lived or were buried.

It was when first researching these ancestors that I discovered the reasons behind their deaths. I was reading an abstract of the cemetery records that had been done by women in the local Daughter's of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter in the mid-1960s. I knew that John and Polly had lived near Union Springs in the town of Springport. I was scanning those cemetery listings in particular in an attempt to find them. There, I found a listing for the Tobias Cemetery, and their names listed. [G4]

Excited, at first at finding their burial, I didn’t notice the remark. Then when I read it I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read and reread the entry. Written in ink along side the entry was a notation: “John shot Polly and then turned the gun on himself. Polly outlived him by one day.” My ancestor was a murderer!

This discovery occurred about thirty years ago. Since then I have, as I mentioned, explored the cemetery and found their markers. The dates confirm that Polly died a day after John. I have searched the newspapers that are still in existence around the date of this incident. But cannot find confirmation of what had happened. I do find advertisements in the settlement of John’s estate and his probate filed by the county. Did this case of “lead poisoning” by gun actually occur and why? It is still a mystery to us.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

FamilySearch Free Classes-- Both Live and Through Your Computer

Here are the FamilySearch classes that they offer for FREE at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City during August. There is quite a collection of varied courses that are sure to intrique everybody with at least something they'd like to learn more about. For many of us it is difficult if not impossible to get there to attend these classes. I know I would like to, but can't fly out there in the near future! However, there is something there for people like us as well- many of the classes are recorded. You can view them at a later date by going to the link provided below to find them. Plus! Look at all of the ones marked "webinar". That's all of them this month! These you can watch through your computer live as they happen. Be sure to check some of these out:

*All of the links on their news release should work, but if any are broken, just go to and do a search on the title of the link.

Free Family History Library Classes and Webinars for August 2017

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (25 July 2017), The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, has announced its free family history classes and webinars for August 2017. Participants can attend in person or online. Many of the August classes teach how to research records in Great Britain, China, and Prussian Poland, to understand DNA, and to use documents and photos to preserve memories. Some classes are also in Spanish. See the full schedule below. Mark your calendars for events you want to join so you don't forget. Find and share this announcement online in the FamilySearch Newsroom.
Online classes are noted on the schedule as webinars. Webinar attendees need to click the link next to the class title at the scheduled date and time to attend the class online. Those attending in person simply go to the room noted. Invite your family and friends. All class times are in mountain standard time (MST).
Most sessions are recorded and can be viewed at a later date at Family History Library classes and webinars.
Wed 2 Aug,11:00 AM
Ask Your United States Research Question (Beginner)
Webinar | MF Lab
Sat, 5 Aug,1:00 PM
Los libros de la vida (Beginner)
Webinar | B1 Lab
Mon, 7 Aug,10:00 AM
Using the FamilySearch Catalog Effectively (Beginner)
Webinar | MF Lab
Tue, 8 Aug,11:00 AM
Starting Family Tree: Navigating, Adding a Person, Standardizing Views, and Printing (Intermediate)
Webinar | MF Lab
Tue, 8 Aug,1:00 PM
British Case Study (Beginner)
Webinar | B2 Lab
Tue, 8 Aug,3:00 PM
Genetic Genealogy: An Introduction to DNA (Beginner)
Webinar | MF Lab
Thur, 10 Aug, 3:00 PM
DNA: I’ve Tested; Now What? (Intermediate)
Webinar | MF Lab
Mon, 14 Aug, 10:00 AM
Using the FamilySearch Catalog Effectively (Beginner)
Webinar | MF Lab
Tue, 15 Aug,11:00 AM
Starting Family Tree: Preserving Memories Using Photos and Documents (Intermediate)
Webinar | MF Lab
Thur, 17 Aug, 1:00 PM
Tracing Ancestry in English Census Records (Beginner)
Webinar | B2 Lab
Sat, 19 Aug,1:00 PM
La tecnología de Ancestry (para miembros SUD) (Intermediate)
Webinar | B1 Lab
Mon, 21 Aug, 10:00 AM
Using the FamilySearch Catalog Effectively (Beginner)
Webinar | 2N Lab
Mon, 21 Aug, 1:00 PM
Researching in Prussian Poland (Beginner)
Webinar | B1 Lab
Tue, 22 Aug,10:00 AM
FamilySearch Wiki (Beginner)
Webinar | MF Lab
Tue, 22 Aug,1:00 PM
Kissing Cousins or Not? Understanding British Generations, Kith, Kin, and Relationships (Intermediate)
Webinar | B2 Lab
Tue, 22 Aug,3:00 PM
Finding Records of Chinese Americans (Beginner)
Webinar | MF Lab
Thur, 24 Aug, 10:00 AM
Using Metasuche or Metasearch on (Beginner)
Webinar | MF Lab
Thur, 24 Aug, 1:00 PM
Genealogical Treasures at (Intermediate)
Webinar | B2 Lab
Thur, 24 Aug, 3:00 PM
Organizing Your Family History Research (Beginner)
Webinar | 2N Lab
Mon, 28 Aug, 10:00 AM
Using the FamilySearch Catalog Effectively (Beginner)
Webinar | MF Lab
Tue, 29 Aug,10:00 AM
Family Tree: Research Help and Searching the Records (Beginner)
Webinar | MF Lab
Thur, 31 Aug, 1:00 PM
Your British/Irish Research Questions Answered (Beginner)
Webinar | B2 Lab
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FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Saturday Challenge: Unbroken Chain of Gravestones

1)    Determine what is your longest unbroken line of ancestral gravestones - how many generations can you go back in time?  Do you have photographs of them?

The longest I have would be five generations on two of my father’s lines.

Gordon (1919-1998) & Alice (1924-2016) Ward in Evergreen (Scipioville Cemetery) in Scipioville, New York.

His parents’ graves, William (1887-1962) and Frances (Ingalls) (1889-1962) Ward are across the driveway from him in Scipioville.

His mother’s parents Charles (1864-1939) Ingalls and Achsah (Brown) (1864-1899) Ingalls.  Charles is buried in Fleming Rural Cemetery in Fleming, New York and his wife; Achsah is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Antwerp, New York.

Beside Achsah, are her parents: John Robert (1835-1917) and Anna (Wright) (1836-1923) Brown.

Over in the Quaker Cemetery in Philadelphia, New York is John Robert’s parents: Quartis (1795-1878) and Julia (Gibbs) (abt. 1798-1855) Brown. [These I do not yet have pictures of].

While in Redwood Cemetery over in Alexandria, New York are those of Julia’s parents: Samuel (1802-1885) and Margaret (Ford) (1808-1894) Wright. [These I do not yet have pictures of].

These graves span five generations, but only two counties. Despite the families moving to better places, immigrating sometimes great distances, these lines are all buried relatively near each other.

Originally thinking about this, though, I immediately thought about not a link of gravestones across time and place, but rather an unbroken line of four generations in one cemetery.  Those first two burials are both in Evergreen or Scipioville Cemetery.

If we follow the other line from my grandparents, you will find William’s parents: John (1854-1932) and Maria (Titus) (1858-1927) Ward along the same driveway and across the cemetery are those graves of his parents: William (1830-1902) and Mary Ann (Blackwell) (1828-1902) Ward.

This gives not quite as long a line of gravestones, but they are all in the same cemetery with many aunts, uncles and cousins scattered about in between.