Friday, December 19, 2014

Update on Harriet Langford McGinnis

Until this week, the trail on Harriet went cold after the death of her husband, Alexander Stuart McGinnis. He died in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1897. Harriet is found still living there in the 1900 Federal Census. It seemed likely that she also passed away between the 1900 and 1910 Federal Census, but I could find no records of such. So I put the issue aside for awhile.

One of the many new places I have looked for resources and help has been various genealogy related groups with Facebook Pages. I joined several of these groups in recent months:
Genealogy: Lost and Found
St. Louis Genealogical Society
Missouri Genealogy Network
Colorize Old Pictures
Your Genealogy Brick Walls
Genealogy and Historical Databases
US Gen Web Project
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

It was in this last Facebook group that I posted a note looking for help on finding Harriet and Alexander's burial place and Harriet's death record at 11:30 PM night before last.

The response to my request was impressive. Almost 17,000 people belong to this group and some are very knowledgeable. Lucky for me, a couple of those folks grabbed the issue. I got responses including links to newspaper articles with both of their obituaries, links to records of Alexander's death of pneumonia and his burial at Union Cemetery in Coshocton County, a copy of a newspaper article reporting Harriet's death of old age in 1904 at the county Asylum. I quickly ordered both obituaries from the Coshocton County library.

It turns out that both Tunnel Hill and Smith's Hill are now both part of Union Cemetery where their son Walter is also buried.

The whole process took less than an hour. I was, and still am, amazed and very grateful.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Start of the Book

 One of the genealogy blogs I follow offered a challenge for February. Lynn Palermo began a writing challenge to encourage people to begin to write their family histories. I took this to heart and wrote the very first part of the book about the Langford family. So far, I have gotten pretty positive feedback along with a few really good suggestions. Here is what I have so far;

Oscar’s first memories were of his loving Griswold family. Pa Griswold had a farm near Fredonia, New York near the border with Pennsylvania. When Oscar was old enough to be a helper, he was Pa’s “cow” boy.  He would help milk the cows and feed them. It was, for about ten years, an idyllic childhood near the beautiful Lake Erie.

Oscar was sent to school at the big red school house in Laona, where he made many friends. As he reached his teens, Oscar became strong enough to help with the heavier work on the farm. There was a lot of wood chopping as every house needed firewood and Pa had lots of trees.

While he had many schoolmates there was one older girl who checked on him regularly. Oscar really liked her and was happy whenever Jeanette Walker came around.

Oscar also liked to read the local paper and was fascinated by the news. There was a lot going on in the country in 1850: westward expansion, Indian Wars, talk of ending slavery. It was in the paper one day that Oscar read about Jeanette’s upcoming marriage to a cabinet maker from Fredonia that Oscar knew, Peter Wise. But, her name was not Walker. It was Langford.

Oscar asked Ma and Pa how this could be so confused. He was 13 now so they sat him down and explained. When Oscar was about three years old, his mother, Fannie Mansfield Langford, died and the Griswolds took him in as their own. Jeanette was his sister and had been taken in by the Walker family. Oscar was still confused but he was very happy to learn that the older girl that came to visit was his sister! Oscar asked about his father but the Griswolds only knew that he left the area. But, Oscar had family.

Jeanette filled him in on the many brothers and sisters that he had, although they were scattered across the rapidly-expanding country by this time. Some had left before he was born. Two of the other young boys were also raised by families nearby. Oscar quickly discovered that he was part of a much bigger family and he couldn’t wait to learn all about them.

From that day forward, Oscar went by the name “Oscar Langford”.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Eliza, can we talk? 
I have spent a lot of time looking for you. I know that you are one of Oscar's older sisters. You were born about 1817, possibly on one of Charles jaunts to Canada. But you seem to be able to dodge me at every turn. Oscar has helped. He told me that he met you for the first time in Monroe, Wisconsin, probably in the mid 1850s. But that's about it.
Cousins have provided a little more information including several possible married names and at least one other possible location.
On the back of some old pictures one cousin wrote that you might have lived in Unique, Iowa. Unique is now officially a ghost town according to Wikipedia.  And, unlike some of your siblings' locations, Unique is a long way from Clinton or Davenport.
How did you get married without leaving some kind of record behind, somewhere? Did you have children? How come no one has a birth or baptismal record for them?
I have looked, and looked and looked, but you still elude me. I have done searches in every place that I know, but no Eliza. 

So, I thought I better ask you directly if you can help me discover your story. One more solid clue, is all I ask. People are indexing new records every day for and Have one of them index a record that gives us the answer we need. Or send me back over some plowed ground where I missed a seed.
I know that Oscar wants me to find you and include your story. And, I believe, that Charles, your father, would want your life recorded. This Langford family story is waiting to be told so that every one, torn apart by the challenges of their times, can be brought together again. This time, we are not leaving anyone behind on their own. 
Just like all your brothers and sisters have done, help me.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Deciphering Old Pictures

Langford cousin Pierce Eichelberger provided a wealth of old pictures passed down in the family. Some had names on the back, others did not. Some had names of the photographer and studio, and some had the town name where taken.

The easy ones to figure out have already been posted. Here are a few more that I have tried to decipher.

I believe that this may be Peter Wise and the two daughters that he had with Jeanette Langford, Delia and Mary. I think this because it was taken in Clinton, Iowa, and the ages look about right. Jeanette and Peter also had a son, James Henry Wise, and it is possible that this is a picture of the three children. I am not very good at estimating ages.

Here is another picture that was labelled with only Wise on the back. It was taken in Winona, Minnesota, which makes it unusual.

Another picture which I think I have figured out is below.This was taken by a photographer in Boone, Iowa. The only Langford family to reside in Boone were descendants of Jane Langford and Merritt Allen. Their daughter Mary married MJ Mann and had several children.
This I believe is their son, Harry Mann. He can be found living in Boone from 1910 or earlier until 1940.
He and his wife Cora had two daughters, Neve and Dolly. The pictures below were all taken in Boone as well and may be their children at various ages:

And the three pictures below were all taken in Clinton or Lyons, Iowa. They are almost certainly relations of the Langfords in some way.