Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remembered at Last

The request came in through Find a Grave. Someone wanted a picture of Dorcus Ackerson's gravestone. Having just seen Garrett Ackerson's stone, I knew exactly where it should be. I drove past the new section and wound my way through the shady meandering paths until I pulled up beside a cluster of ancient stones isolated from their newer sleepmates.

On the right side of Garrett was a red stone from the same period (he died in 1811) but the epitaph was eroded and flaked away. Poor Dorcus slated to anonymity through weather and an irregularity in the stone itself. I gazed at the defaced stone for long minutes weighing the options. No matter the condition, I would want to see the stone of one of my ancestors. I took the picture.

Now, every time I fulfill a request from this cemetery, I visit Dorcus. Today I visited her with the express purpose of planting a handsome but prolific penstemon from my front garden.

Although she is hidden behind the marred stone, today she sports a perennial that will bloom and bear babies like she did.

Dorcus Springsteen Ackerson
Birth and death dates unknown
Married to Capt. Garrett Ackerson
Had a daughter Martha Ackerson Lequier in 1765

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

The wild Dame's Rocket that I keep threatening to yank every year has turned into a butterfly magnet. This one kept me company on and off for most of the afternoon as I transplanted lots of penstemon. The Black Swallowtail caterpillar eats parsley, carrots and dill. I might be worth planting some just for them.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Facts Behind the Ghost Story

Christmas 2007

My mother put down her fork and leaned back; time and distance receding. She fixed her gaze on us and started to tell us the story as it had been told to her.


Grandpa Charlie sat straight up in the middle of the night and looked around. “Davey?”
He got out of bed.

Grandma Lizzie rolled over. “Charlie, what’s wrong?”

“I just heard Davey call my name.”

“Charlie honey, that‘s not possible. Davey's down south. Everybody's with him. Come back to bed.”

“I tell you, I just heard him call my name. He must be outside.”

Grandpa Charlie went outside and started to search the farm. Grandma Lizzie stood at the door in her nightgown and looked out. She was scared and worried. She had no idea of what was going on.

Grandpa Charlie finally came back to the house alone and perplexed.

“I can’t find him. It is strange. I heard him speak to me clear as a bell.”

Lizzie finally got him back to bed. Several days later they got word that the night Davey spoke to his brother-in-law was the night that he committed suicide by drowning himself in the Ohio river.”

In the Portsmouth Sun, July 4 1922

Man’s Body Found in River

David Darnell Victim of Tragedy: Brother Identifies Corpse at Lynn Morgue

David Darnell, father of five children, left home Saturday evening about 7 o’clock, telling his aged father, William Darnell, that he was going fishing.

Monday afternoon about two o’clock, his body was found by Vernon McQuillen, 205 Front street, floating in the Ohio River, about opposite the county infirmary.

The theory held by the family of the drowned man is that he committed suicide. He had been in ill health for the past seven or eight months, they say he had been forced to quit work. He was very nervous at times, inclined to be despondent.

Before leaving the house of his brother Oakley Darnell, 822 Prospect street where he had been visiting Saturday, Darnell gave his brother, all of his money, clothes, and asked if Oakley could wear his shirts. Before leaving home Darnell changed his clothes, putting on an old pair of overalls and an old black shirt and an old hat.

He had frequently talked to his family of disposing of his property, and had given one of his brothers the key to his safety deposit box in a Youngstown bank and to the rooming house he once lived there.

When he did not come home Saturday evening, the family became alarmed and conducted a search for him, but being unable to locate him, decided that he had either gone to look for work or had gone to visit some friends out of the city.

The first the family knew of his death was when his brother, James, after reading an account of a man found floating in the Ohio river called at the Sun Office and was directed to the Lynn morgue where the body was taken after being removed from the after.

He recognized the body of his brother and after bringing the other brothers to the morgue, the identification was made certain.

McQuillen, who found the body, said that he was returning from the Kentucky side of the river to his camp, which is located near where the body was found and noticed it floating in the water. He fastened his grab hook on the clothing and towed the body ashore notifying Coroner J. D. Hendrickson immediately.

The man’s body was badly swollen and disfigured, being bruised in places where it had been struck by floating debris.

The coroner rendered a verdict of death by drowning Monday evening.

Darnell is the father of five children; Valena, Charles, Alice, Margaret and Cella, who live with their mother on Eleventh street.

He had been working in Youngstown until about six months ago, when he was taken down with a nervous attack, and since that time had been unable to worked at his trade and at the time he left the home of his brother, it was thought he might be looking for work.

Darnell is survived by his wife and children, his aged father and mother, whose home is in Madison county and eight brothers and sisters; William and Charles of Pittsburgh; James, Louis and Oakley of this City; Mrs. Elizabeth Wood of Erwin, Ohio and Mrs. Charles Hersey of Newscomerstown, O.

He was a member in good standing at the Trinity M. E. church of Youngstown, O.

Darnell was born and raised in this county and was 41 years old. His place of birth was Miller’s Run. He had worked here until about four years ago, when he moved to Youngstown, finding employment in a steel mill there.

The aged parents, who happen to be visiting here at this time were, distracted over the news of their son’s untimely end, and the sympathy of many friends was being rendered them last night.

Arrangements are being made for the internment of the remains but these have not been completed at this time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nancy Browning Darnell

Stashed away in my aunt's papers was this picture of my Great Great Grandmother, Nancy Ann Browning. She was born in Ohio April 6, 1855 to James and Bettie Wallace Browning. She married William Henry Darnell on August 7, 1873 in Scioto county, way down by the river. They had 9 children, my Great Grandmother was in the middle of the pack and the first girl.

When I started to look for her, I kept finding weird inconsistencies. She appears in the 1910 census living with her husband and 3 of her children, her youngest, Oakley was 15. In 1920, she is living with her daughter Celia and it says she is a married. She is no longer living with Celia in 1930 and I can't find her with any of her other children. There is an obit for her in 1936 several counties away. Meanwhile, I can't find William Henry in 1920 and he gets hit by a car in 1926 and dies in the hospital. His son signs the death certificate and says that William was a widower when Nancy is still alive, living in eastern Ohio, for another 10 years.

As you can see in the photo she was a tiny thing and I presume from the black glasses she was blind. I have no idea why she and William were living apart. Maybe Celia was helping care for her. Could her son really have had no idea that his mother was still alive?

This is what makes family history so fascinating.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Making Pot Holders

Some of the best pot holders are handmade. They are thick enough that even wet, you will not get burned. They are washable and last forever. Making them is excellent for emergency boredom prevention.

The key to making good pot holders is a metal loom to weave on (much sturdier than the ubiquitous plastic ones) and you have to get the cotton jersey loops not the nylon ones. (The nylon ones will melt if you get the pot holder too close to the heat source.) It is a basic exercise in elementary weaving. Over under, over under. The loops are put on in one direction making the warp and each loop of the weft is woven in a 1-3, 2-4 pattern. Once completed, the ends are crocheted off the prongs. The fun part is choosing the colors and pride of craftsmanship. And for a little while it will alleviate boredom.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I have the biggest, fattest, cheekiest chipmunks on the planet living in my stone walls. If I leave the garage door open while I work in the yard, I often find one dashing out as I come in. They are not stupid. They know where the seeds are, well were (I am out of seeds and will not buy any more until winter.) I have no one but myself to blame. When we had that 4 feet of snow; I scooped the snow away and poured sunflower seeds down their hole. Now they think I am the local market.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Searching Surnames


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Daffodil Braids

What? You don't braid them? Okay, okay, I know I am completely out of my mind and I don't really braid ALL of them. But I can't stand the leaves flopping all over the place for months until they die back.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Red Admiral Migration

While I was birding along one of my favorite powercuts yesterday, I noticed a Red Admiral butterfly. I stopped to admire it then moseyed down the path. Not too far along, I noticed another Red Admiral, then another. It slowly dawned on me that I was seeing them everywhere. I vaguely remembered that there was a butterfly, other than the Monarch, that migrated. Curious, I looked it up and sure enough not only do they migrate but there is a Vanessa migration project. They are looking for 3 things: what species, when you saw it and where. If you see them, report it.

I love citizen science.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just because you are family

Guest Post on Genealogy from Sissy

The TV show sponsored by has started a resurgence in popularity of all fields of family history.

I am a newbie when it comes to family history. My sister has been at it for about 30 years.

She now has me hooked. That being said, she was doing it WITHOUT the internet.

A lot of time was spent manually going through papers and photo coping.

There were phone calls and letters to different county seats in all the different states where we had ancestors. There were research costs and copy fees for each one of them.

There was and is a huge cost in just the copies from the local libraries.

I firmly believe some etiquette is required.

This should be common sense but……

Do not believe that you are entitled to all of their research. Just because you are family.

Do not believe that if someone has a document that they should give it to you.

Just because you are family.

Do not get into a war over paper. Think how you would feel if you had spent years of your life gathering all of this information and someone (family or not) thought that they could just take it.

Do let them know that you are interested and are willing to help.

Do take on the hard ancestor that no one could find. The internet is a wonderful tool.

Do look outside the box and not just cover the same avenues that have already been mined.

Do get your hands on any local historical documents. The local genealogy societies are a great place to start.

DO SHARE your findings as soon as you get something. The excitement is contagious.

If you help and show that this is not just a fad; that you are truly interested they will more than likely share what they have already collected.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nancy Ann Atha Fields

After finding the death certificate for my Great Great Great Grandfather Thomas Jefferson Fields we looked for his wife Nancy. She was not at the Health Department, nor at the State Historical Society. We know where she lived and thought we knew where she was buried, but she was an enigma. Then my sister was idly reading old copies of the Richwood Gazette when the name Fields caught her eye; it was an obituary for Nancy Ann Fields. Why we cannot find her death certificate, I do not know. She is buried where we thought, but she has no stone. Finally, we have a clue.

The Richwood Gazette p1 c2

Thursday 3-25-1915


Causes Death Sunday of Mrs. Nancy

Ann Fields, a Pioneer Resident

of Union County.

One of northern Union county's oldest

and most highly respected women,

Mrs. Nancy Ann Fields, died Sunday

morning at 6 o'clock, at her home near

Arbela. She was past, eighty-six years

old and the greater part of her long life

was spent in this community. The

deceased was the widow of the late Jefferson

Fields, a pioneer farmer, who died

fifteen years ago. Since the death of

the husband and father, a daughter,

Mrs. Victoria Moore, resided with the

the aged mother on the home farm.

During the past twenty years Mrs.

Fields was blind, but her health was

reasonably good, for one so old. Death

was due to an attack of acute bronchitis.

She is survived by four children: Mrs.

E. L. Schmelzer, Mrs. Moore, Simeon

Fields and Jonathan Fields. Her maiden

name was Nancy Ann Atha and she

was a native of Ohio.

Funeral services were held from

Grace M. E. Chapel, west of Essex,

Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock, Rev.

J. A. Sutton of LaRue, officiating.

The remains were laid to rest in Burnside

cemetery near Arbela.