Civil War tidbits…

In 1865 Abram Rosa was put in front of a military court and charged with “Conduct prejudicial to good order and Military discipline”.

The result of which he ended up spending 3 months in a military prison in Florida. A true hellhole.

According to the charges he took offense at his superior officer, Major Thomas B. Weir’s treatment and punishment of a fellow soldier threatening and insulting him with, “No God damned Officer shall abuse that man, “Look here,” God damn you, you have churned that man enough, “ I’ll show you, by God. He also removed his coat and shook his fists in a threatening manner towards, Major Weir  still using insulting and threatening language. All this happened near Eagle Pass, Texas about September 7, 1865.

While I knew the story, and was of course appalled by the verdict and punishment (nothing like good old military justice). I was interested in learning more about the story, or at least by researching the officers involved in the case maybe I might find something else out about the incident.

Major Thomas B. Weir
Well something interesting did turn up when I googled Major Thomas B. Weir the officer whom Abram threatened. This Major Weir is famous, as he was the same Major Weir who was involved with Custer and the massive defeat at Little Bighorn. 

Major Weir commanded Company D of the 7th Cavalry under Custer, and joined him in the attack on a large Native American encampment on the Little Bighorn River in Montana on June 25, 1876. Weir disobeyed orders to remain on what is now Reno Hill, and instead, moved north to attempt to support Custer, who had led a detachment to attack the encampment from that direction. The effort was too late and Custer and his soldiers were slaughtered. Weir himself survived the assault, but died later the same year, 1876, having drank himself to death. It is believed over his inability to save Custer, whom he greatly respected.

I doubt that Abram would have shown any sadness at his passing, maybe he even did a little jig when he heard the news. It is interesting that Weir allows Abram to be sent to hard labor in a horrible prison for three months, when he was only trying to protect a fellow soldier from over-enthusiastic punishment. Yet, Weir disobeys orders from his superiors, hoping to protect Custer from a disasterous attack, fails, and wasn’t punished in any way by the military.

But justice comes in many forms.

Volunteering is good for the soul

I have done a bit of volunteering over the years, some I have quite enjoyed, some has been a bit of a chore, but all of it was a result of my girl scout years and my mother’s influence. I guess some of it stuck.

As a genealogist I have had many instances where someone who lives in another state has helped me find some wonderful genealogical record, or had photos that I had never seen, or volunteered to check out a cemetery for me to see if one of our ancestors was buried there. These are all acts of wonderful kindness. I have tried to reciprocate when I can, because I do believe in paying it forward.

There has been a lot of talk lately of several genealogical sites that have started big digital indexing projects and are looking for volunteers to help with the massive indexing that needs to be done, all from the convenience of your home. I was intrigued, but put it off for a while as I was a bit busy, but this last month I decided to dig a bit deeper.

At work we are currently assisting the Holocaust Museum in indexing it’s millions of records of victims for the general public, this is through

I decided to try my hand at indexing for the Family History Library. So I downloaded the software and dug right in. I have found that it can become quite addicting. But, I am really enjoying the process and they make it pretty easy to do. There is also the satisfaction of knowing that many people will find these indexes of immense value in their own research.

Back to work — jen

Sad news for me today

I have been making the attempt to get out Christmas cards for friends and family this week, in the process I make a quick list to make sure I don’t miss anyone. Last year I had sent a card to Robert Cain, a cousin of ours whom I met through a very helpful librarian in Oconto (after making inquiries about our Cain ancestors at the local library), and hadn’t heard back from him.

Over the years I have stopped in to visit Bob with Dale, alone, and even with Mom and Dad on one trip. He was very helpful and generous with his time and information on our Cain relatives. Without his help it probably would have taken me much longer to break through the road block on this line.

With trepidation I decided to check the SSDI in an attempt to make sure he was still around to receive my Christmas card for this year. Sadly, I found his name listed in the updated database. He passed away September 30 of this year. I imagine that the reason he didn’t send a card last year was he was too ill. Now I am sorry that I wasn’t able to take the time to visit one last time this last year.

Robert S. Cain – I have included his graduation picture from the State Teachers College of Oshkosh, 1951
Here is his obituary edited by me. 
Born December 09, 1921 – Died September 30, 2011 

Robert Samuel Cain, a lifetime resident of Oconto died September 30, 2011. Robert was born December 9, 1921 in Oconto to the late James and Maude (Anderson) Cain. He attended Jefferson School and graduated from Oconto High School in 1940. He worked at the A&P Stores in Oconto, Green Bay and Marinette. Bob attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison until he joined the United States Army.  serving for three years and eight months in England and France as a Technical Sargent. Bob later attended Ripon College, and George William College in Chicago, finally graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree from Oshkosh State College. After teaching elementary school for five years, Bob attended a Benedictine Monastery for a time. Eventually, he moved back to Oconto to the house he had grown up in, next to his brother Harold and his family, and spent many years taking care of his mother. A few years ago he retired to Bay Shore Pines in Oconto as his health was declining. Bob enjoyed reading, playing piano, gardening, and spending time with his family.

I remember his kindness and generosity. He was also a bit old-fashioned. In conversations about technology he definitely was a bit of a luddite. One amusing bit I recall is that he loved inviting the religious groups that knock on your door in to discuss their philosophy and other religious issues. Not a thing most folks would do, but he loved the conversations.

I am sad that he has passed.

I’mmmm baaack…

I guess I misspoke in my earlier post. I didn’t really have a speck to time to keep folks updated on my progress during my research trip. The hours flew by, then exhaustion set in, then sleep. Next day do it all over again.

But now I am home and all I can say is, the trip was a bust. But only in the sense that I didn’t find a speck of evidence that Hartley Shepard is the child of Henry and Huldah Shepard. I checked court records, probate records, land deeds, tax rolls, pretty much every index I could find that they had at the Family History Library. So far, no joy.

So my next stop is going directly to the sources in Morgan and Washington counties of Ohio. I am sure there are records out there I haven’t even heard of yet.

I did find some interesting bits on our Massachusetts and Ohio relatives. Lots of local and county history books add to the tales about these people. And it is not just our Shepard line, we have Dewey, Noble, Warriner, and Ashley connections too, and they each have their own stories to tell.

I am looking forward to getting this all put together for everyone to read. Meanwhile the search for those elusive Hartley records goes on…now where did I put that magnifying glass…

On the road…

Well here it is, or close, September 24th, the day that I head out to Salt Lake City, Utah again to do some intense genealogical research.

The main focus of my trip this time is the SHEPARD line, and in preparation I have been boning up on the details of all the related lines these past few weeks. I am pretty sure that I am ready. Now I am just keeping my fingers crossed that I find something of genealogical value.

This trip Mary and I have decided that we will take a day off and do a little site seeing…”Here’s the big brown mountain, there’s the big brown hill, and over there is the big brown desert., and wait for it, look it’s the big salty lake.” Can’t wait.

But the weather will be 80s and sunny! I will keep folks updated on my progress as the week goes by. Later.

p.s. boy is my iPad going to get a work out next week!

Summer doings…

You wouldn’t know it by my lack of blog posts, but I have actually been busy with the genealogy. Just not a whole heck of a lot that merits actual written words is happening. Little bits of flotsam and jetsam being gathered.

My trip to Salt Lake City is coming up in 3 1/2 months,  so I have a little time. But I am always preparing, a little bit at a time, making lists of film and books to look at when I get there.

About the most interesting thing that has happened, is I decided to upgraded my DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA. They now have what they call a ‘Family Finder’ test and it was on sale. The test finds cousins in their data base. And because it uses a different type of marker system, it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, it will find relations. So I decided to do it. My results came back a week or so ago and it lists all my matches. Most are of the 4th and 5th cousin variety, but there were one or two 2nd and 3rd cousins. I still am in the process of contacting them to compare notes. That might take a while.

Another interesting result of the test is it gives your general DNA background regarding ethnicity, mine indicates 100% European. Not a speck of American Indian, so that quells any further rumors in that regard.

Right now we are trying to keep cool – 90s and humid.

Later folks. jen

Road trip…

Saturday I am heading down to Madison to start some of my major Shepard research. Our genealogical society has a bus trip every year that makes it a non-stress, sit back and relax experience. Until you get to the Wisconsin Historical Society that is, then it is non-stop research mode.

My goal on this trip is to get out of the way the history books and similar material that relates to Washington and Morgan Counties in Ohio and Hampden County in Massachusetts. That will help clear off the shelf for the government records that I can then focus on in Salt Lake City later this year. Although it looks like there may be a trip to Massachusetts and Ohio in the works sometime.

I will also be going through the Agricultural and Manufacturing censuses for Wisconsin as I don’t have the complete set for all our John ancestors.

I am looking forward to the trip and maybe lunch with my niece.


Here I am again…

at home during another snow storm. It’s the middle of March already, you would think the gods would be bored with torturing us by now.

I have good news though. A friend of mine recently moved to Massachusetts. In fact he moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, which is 20 minutes away from Westfield. Westfield…the town where the Shepards came from. The town that has the library that has 4 archival boxes of Gen. William Shepard papers. But that is not the good news. The good news is he has agreed to help us out by going to said library and making copies from said collection for me.

It is good to have friends. 

Snow storms can sometimes be a good thing…

I have only managed to get in to work one Monday this month due to the weather. This Monday was no exception. But I have to say it was a productive snow day.

As I have been pretty much in full time genealogy mode these past two months a lot of my free time has been spent doing something related to research: organizing, contemplating, clearing out. Yesterday I was going through some Buchanan material which my lovely, sometime assistant, Larisa, sent me from the clan meet she went to last year. After reading the general material over, I started looking through the Buchanan records I had and where the research stood regarding them. In the process I realized that while we have a bit of information on the Buchanans, William Buchanan’s wife, Margaret Mobely, was a mystery. So I rolled up my sleeves and went to work.

I knew Margaret’s birth name because it was listed on her daughter Jane Buchanan Shepard’s death registration. So my first thought was to find an actual death registration for Margaret. She was entered in my records as having died in 1881, but the information wasn’t sourced properly.

My first stop was the Virginia State Archives online death index. I found an entry for a Marg Buckhannon, died February 13, 1883 of consumption, the parents were listed as William and Sarah Mabley. Hmmmm, that seemed to be a mighty nice coincidence to me, Mabley/Mobley. Especially since Margaret and William Buchanan named one of their daughters Sarah. The other interesting bit from this record tells me that Margaret was born about 1832 and not 1810 as I had found somewhere in the past. Underneath her listing in the online death registration book is, probably, her husband William Buckhannon who died in 1891 at 65, Margaret died at 51. Neither of these records match the improperly sourced bit I had in my records. (The first rule for all beginning genealogists – SOURCE EVERYTHING! and source is properly.)

So I have probably found Margaret’s death record, which changes the dates in my records, and adds a possible parentage. All of these records were found in Jackson County, West Virginia, not Wood County, where my previous searches has been. Which makes sense too as the 1880 census had them living in Jackson County. Something I missed when trying to find the vital records years earlier.

The next step was to try and find Margaret’s parents in the census records. It is possible that I have, but I do not know for sure. As Margaret was married by 1850, she would not be found in any censuses with her parents as anything but a number (individuals were not listed on census records until 1850, previous censuses only listed the head of household’s name). The census records I found for her possible parents were all in Marshall County, Virginia with another early record in Belmont County, Ohio. It looks like I have another couple counties to add to my research list for my trip to SLC.

All-in-all a satisfactory day. Of course this was all a carefully devised diversion, just so I wouldn’t have to shovel the 12″+ of snow that was coming down. (Shhh don’t tell hubby.)

Family stories…

I have been a busy little bee in my free time for the past month, filing, sorting, throwing, exclaiming, groaning – basically trying to get a better feel for what records I need to look for in my Shepard search. In the process I have run across a few piles of emails and photocopies that never got filed. Here is a transcription from Evelyn Mason regarding the 50th wedding anniversary announcement for John Shaw and Idea Webb. Enjoy…


Married, at the residence of the brides parents near Newton, Hamilton County, Ohio January 29, 1837, Mr. John Shaw to Miss Ida Webb.

On Saturday January 29, 1887, a very respectable crowd of 40 or 50 of the friends and relatives of Mr. and Mrs. Shaw assembled at their old residence on the Hilltops to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary day, and were welcomed and entertained by Mr. F. E. Bettle and excellent wife and daughters. About 11 o’clock the company had arrived and after friendly greetings and congratulations Professor J. K. Parker very kindly addressed them with a few pointed and appropriate remarks. Letters from Mr. Shaw’s sister, Mrs. Viola Magill, of Cincinnati, Mrs. Anna Rogers of Goshen, Ohio, Mrs. Jane Davis of Indiana, Miss Mary Eberesole of California, Ohio, Mrs. Sarah Webb of Minnesota, Mr. N. E. Armstrong of Iowa, Mr. James Ferguson of Indiana, Mr. Samuel Shaw of Cincinnati. Judge Edward Riley of Kentucky, Mr. and Mrs. Wright of Kentucky and Judge J.Q. Ashburn of Batavia, Ohio, life long friends of Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, sending their congratulations and regrets at not being able to attend in person, were read. Mr. T.P. Webb of Minnesota read an appropriate poem.
    The blushing bridegroom of 77 summers, one of the best known characters in Clermont Co., and a man of more than ordinary menta1 vigor, who has accumulated a vast store of knowledge and general information by thorough course of reading history ancient and modern, and research of the general literature of the day, being called upon read the following humorous account of his courtship, marriage and first years of his married life.
This the Story
    Since the subject of celebrating our golden wedding has been under family discussion a great many questions have been asked, particularly by our younger grand children, some of them wanting to know why grandpa and grandmother were never married before and wondering how grandpa ever found such a good grandmother for them. To gratify their curiosity I suppose I will have to tell them the story and as well as I now recollect here it is.
    About 52 or 53 years ago when the state of Ohio was 33 years of age and I was a few years younger, I became acquainted with a very pretty little girl living on the Little Miami, near Newton. Somehow or other I got to sidling down that way occasionally to see the folks and test my little girls cooking, I some times staid two or three days, and thus it ran on for a year or two when I discover that the exposure to bad weather or some other cause, there was getting something the matter with me, though my gernera1 health was good. Did not know exactly what ailed me at first, so I thought I would go down and tell my little girl about it, and after chalking on my hat “Barkis is Willin” and supposing that she was getting tired of boarding me so long for nothing, proposed that we get married and board ourselves.
    Well, after hemming and hawing awhile she thought may be, perhaps we had better. That little matter being settled the next thing in order was to hunt up the old folks and see what they thought about it. They did not seem to be much surprised and being of good old hard predestination faith I guess they thought that what was to be would be any how, gave their consent and the old lady thought that if we kept in the same mind we ought marry the following summer. Ida thought in the spring would be a nice time. Well that was some concession on their part, but did not satisfy me by any means and I proposed the fore part of the next week as the proper time. But after higling and jewing for some time the best that I could do was get them down to a month ahead, and we settled on the 29th of January 1837. Meaning business now, and to save another trip, I went to the clerks office and procured a license (marriage) of old General Harrison and put in my pocket, thinking now that I had a preemption right to my girl at least. I then felt in good humor and went around whistling “Yankee Doodle” and occasionally a bar of “Old Dan Tucker”, as if there was nothing the matter. After along month expired, I hastened down to finish the matter up, and be done with It. Found & nice crowd of friends there and among them good old Deacon Ferris, whose occupation was preaching the Gospel on Sunday and blacksmithing the balance of the week. Then we stood up and he struck a few sledge hammer blows while the iron was hot and made the weld, pronouncing us one bone and one beef, or something of that sort.
    Now skipping over an interval of ten days we found ourselves settled in our own log cabin, not exactly in the garden of Eden, but high up on Mt. Pisgah, over against Jerico, and south of Sweet Afton, where we spent the balance of our honeymoon, my wife cleaning the log house and I making rails, just as happy as couple kittens.
    When after a sojourn of 2 years in this happy land we concluded to migrate a little south and we pulled up stakes and came down off Mt Pisgah and crossed over the east fork, through the valley of Jehosaphat and up Ulrey’s run by way of Jerico, to the head waters of Twelve Mile, thence westerly through the land of Nod to the big woods. Here on the ground where we are now, we pitched our tent, under the shadow of a beach tree, which as a memorial stands unto the present day.
    Before we got fairly settled in our new abode there came an imperative necessity for a few yards of calico and some other small fixings, and in due time a bouncing little girl made her appearances and took her place as natural as life at the head of our tribe, which has now grown to what we now see here today} four of the first generation and 19 of the second, all standing fair and square on their pins, physically and mentally allright, apparently and if they continue to grow up making good, industrious and useful members of society then the way we look upon it, the country will be slightly in our debt. But if any of them should be so unfortunate in their growing up as to become dudes or drones or shams, or idle drones, then we would have to acknowledge ourselves indebted to the State for their room. Be that as it may we know that we love you all and hope for the best.
    Now, reserving the best of the wine for the last of the feast, we will proceed to business, which will be to step into the dining room and assault the turkey and enjoy ourselves the best we can.