Monday, August 31, 2015

Preparing for a Research Trip

Yesterday I posted my "items to be checked list" for Salt Lake in January. I'll update it with specific books, films and fiche later.

For those of you planning a research trip, especially inexperienced researchers, here's a few tips.

(1) Check the venue's website or call to see what the hours are. Due to volunteer shortages, some places are open only a couple of days per week or have short hours. It's no fun to show up at a historical society library only to learn that it's closed!

(2) Most libraries have an online catalog. Check to see if the venue has the books, films, documents, newspapers or manuscripts that you need. Make a list of what they have that you need.

(3) Find out what the facility charges for copies. Prices generally range from 10 to 25 cents per page. See if they allow you to unload the pages on a thumb drive.

(4) You are most likely to find deeds, probate files and vital records at the local court house. The same applies here, find out how much copies are [$1.00 a page is common] and how easily accessible they are. Sometimes you will be accessing the record books and other times they will be on microfilm or digitized.

(5) Be polite. Ask specific questions. The librarian or clerk needs details, not your family history! Say thank you. [Sometimes you will run into the "clerk from Hades" who hates genealogy researchers with a passion. Take them with a grain of salt. Be polite and roll with the punches! :)-

Sunday, August 30, 2015

SLIG 2016: Plan of Attack

The Salt Lake Institute is just a little over 4 months away. Subject to change [even once the Institute gets underway], I have started to put together my "plan of attack" for library research. Books, microfilm and microfiche will be checked on the following topics:

(1) Histories of Essex County, Massachusetts, with focus on Lynn and Salem. [Malcolm MacCallum lived in Lynn and, possibly, Salem.

(2) Vital records [especially marriages and deaths] for Essex Co.

(3) Probate records for Essex Co.

(4) Church records for Essex Co.

(5) The Scots Charitable Society of Boston.

(6) Records pertaining to the Scottish prisoners from the Battle of Dunbar sent to New England-1651.

(7) Family histories for MacCallum, Callum [longshot, but needs to be checked]

That should keep me busy for a couple of days. There will also be suggestions from the course consultants to follow-up on.

Before I head west, I will go through each of the above topics on the FHL catalog and make a list of books, films and fiche that look like possible hits. That will give me a starting point for Day 1.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Genealogy Jealousy!!

When I talk to family history researchers or listen to speakers relate their experiences, I get depressed by the people who had a cousin, grandparent or some other relative who had researched the family and left a considerable amount of material, including journals, pictures, heirlooms, original documents and letters. Others had a grandparent or someone else available to relate stories of their family's past. Jealousy rears its ugly head! Those folks are lucky! In some ways, though, they miss out on the thrill of the research effort.

Hopefully, the 'haves" are checking the stories for accuracy and cataloging everything that isn't already well organized.

Then there's folks like me. My maternal grandparents had died by the time I was four. My paternal grandfather died in 1939 and my paternal grandmother died when I was ten.

Mom and Uncle Mutt grew up with their maternal grandmother and great-grandmother accessible. They were able to pass along a few stories and details, but that was it. Uncle Mutt put together his recollections of the McHugh and Crail families. There were some errors, but he did a pretty good job. The notes provided a good foundation for further research.

It was the material resources that really hurt. According to Mom and Uncle Mutt, the following had been in the family prior to my grandparents' deaths. There may have been more goodies.

1. Catherine O'Neil Crail's journal that told of her trip from Ireland to Indiana and included at least a couple of generations of her family in County Cork.

2. A photograph of Aaron and John Crail from 1863 or 1864, in uniform, just before they left to serve in the Civil War.

3. A trunk with some family heirlooms, including Uncle Mutt's WWII uniform.

4. A McHugh coat of arms that hung in my grandfather's office at his tool and die shops.

What happened to the items after my grandparents passed, no one knows. One of my cousins had a print copy of the McHugh arms, so I do have that.

Pop told me that questions about the family just never came up, so he really didn't know anything. [The occasional story about his family did come up from time to time, however.] I had asked him about the origin of the Prall surname. He told me he'd heard it was Scottish. His sister's recollection was Pennsylvania-Dutch. Both were right to a degree. There are Pennsylvania-Dutch and Scots in the tree.

Once again, one of my cousins came up with the gems - a handful of family photos from about 1911 through the late 1930s. The photos included my grandparents, my grandfather's sister and her husband, Grandma's mother and grandmother and my father and aunt as infants.

So, the bulk of the research, both sides of the family, was left up to me. Tracking the Pralls had its bumps in the road. Shaky research on a couple of generations made it a challenge. The Faucetts finally came together thanks to bios of two of John Faucett's grandkids. There are still missing details though. I've been able to track most of the allied families back to the British Isles or Western Europe.
Heirlooms, photos and the like are almost non-existent, but details and stories have been located.

Mom's side of the family, despite the details from Mom and Uncle Mutt, came together much more slowly. Wisconsin research helped flesh out the McHugh story. Two generations of the Crail, Simmons and Crousore families were well documented. Beyond that, not much.

Three of my Salt Lake trips helped open the floodgates! One took the Crousores back another couple of generations into western Pennsylvania. A second added another 4-5 generations to the Simmons family and a couple of dozen [probably more] allied families to the mix. The third plugged some of the remaining gaps in the Crousore story and added another handful of families to the tree.

I'm reasonably proud of the research I've done and what I've accomplished. There is still more to do; I'll be working on my MacCallum line in Salt Lake come January.

As I have lamented frequently in numerous posts, if James B. Crail and Mary Ann Jones would just come out of hiding....................

Friday, August 28, 2015

Wars in the Middle East [1990 - present]

I decided to combine the US involvement in the Middle East over the last quarter of a century into one blog. It may be unfair to each conflict, but will do to wrap up the military post series. The Middle East conflicts are recent enough that they should not need a great deal of explanation.

1990-91: Gulf War vs. Iraq

1998: Operation Desert Fox vs. Iraq

2003-11: The Iraq War vs. Iraq

2011-present: Iraqi Insurgency

The World Trade Center [9/11/2001] and other terrorist attacks alsso deserve mention here.

To all service men and women who have served the US - THANK YOU! The same note of thanks goes out to police and fire departments who have answered the call domestically.

Family connections: none that I am aware of.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Viet Nam War [1961-75]

Although trouble had existed in Viet Nam long before the US became involved, the Kennedy administration marked the beginning of America's role in SE Asia. Kennedy sent advisors to Viet Nam, but it was his successor, Lyndon Johnson, who initiated full US military involvement in 1963. The war was extremely unpopular on the home front and led to massive war protests, draft age young men fleeing to Canada and an extremely misguided attitude of anti-war protestors toward returning American military personnel.

President Nixon cut back on US troop involvement, but slow progress in bringing the war to an end, escalated protests and Viet Nam became "Nixon's War" to the liberal protestors who seemingly forgot the President Johnson had involved the US in an unwinnable, unpopular war. The war would come to an end during the Ford administration when Saigon fell in April  1975.

For more see:

Family connections: None. I was of draft age during the war and attending college, thus granted a student deferment. Vision technology had not progressed to the point where light-weight, strong eyeglasses had been developed. I imagine my vision would have warranted a 4-f classification.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Korean War [1950-53]

The Korean War was essentially a civil war between North and South Korea, but had global implications with the spread of Communism into North Korea. Communist China was the primary force behind North Korea, while the US and United Nations forces supported South Korea. The outcome was essentially a stalemate, with Korea split at the 38th parallel.

See for more background.

Family connections: none

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

World War II [1939-1945]

The 2nd World War came on the heels of the Great Depression. Germany rose to a world power again under the Nazi regime of Adolph Hitler. Mass execution of Jews, Gypsies and anyone else that did not fit into Hitler's "master race" were placed in concentration camps and murdered by the millions. Germany invaded Poland and quickly conquered most of Europe. Great Britain and the Soviet Union, along with resistance fighters in France, The Netherlands and other nations were left to battle Germany and its allies. Japan was quickly taking over the Pacific.

On 7 January 1941, Japan attacked the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, bringing America into the war.

The allied D-Day invasion on 6 June 1944 of Normandy began the downfall of Hitler's Germany. 1945 would see the war come to an end. Germany surrendered in May. Rather than risk an invasion of Japan that would lead to upwards of a million allied casualties, the US chose to drop atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, leading to Japan's surrender.

The internet has a plethora of terrific sites on WWII, check them out. For a timeline of events see

Family connections: Uncle Charles McHugh served stateside as an instructor, I believe, with the engineers. John W. Simmons Jr. fought with the Philippine Resistance and was killed by the Japanese in 1943.

Monday, August 24, 2015

World War I [1914-18]

The assassination of Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a Serbian national helped to ignite the conflict. Austria invaded Serbia. Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy allied against Great Britain, France and Russia. The US entered the war in 1917 and helped Britain, France and Russia defeat the German alliance.

For more detail on the causes, battles and results of the "War to end all wars" see the link below. There are several excellent sites on WWI on the internet, check them out.

Further reading:

Family connections: None that I'm aware of.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Philippine-American War [1899-1902]

The US acquired the Philippines from Spain in 1898. Revolutionaries of the First Philippine Republic declared war on the US in 1899. The war ended in 1902, although some groups continued to resist the
US takeover. The Filipinos were granted limited self-government and English became the primary language. The islands were promised eventual independence in 1916, which was granted in 1934.

For more information:

Family connection: John W. Simmons, brother to ggm Mima Simmons Crail, was living in Washington when he enlisted with the 1st Washington Volunteer Infantry in Tacoma. The regiment was shipped to Manila and saw action in early 1899. The 1st was recalled to the states in August. John re-enlisted in the Hospital Corps and returned to Manila to serve until 1903. He had met a girl, Antonina Del Rosario, while on his first tour. The couple had twin sons [Sep. 1902, one died at birth] and married in 1903. Two daughters and another son were born before John's death in 1909.

John and Antonina's descendants would find their way to the US in 1977.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Spanish-American War [1898]

The Spanish-American War was the result of US involvement in Cuba's battle for independence from Spain. Publishers such as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer used their newspapers to criticize Spain.

The mysterious sinking of the US battleship Maine in Havana Harbor in February 1898 was blamed on Spain by the press. War was declared and US troops sent to Cuba. Among the units sent was the "Rough Riders," organized by Theodore Roosevelt. The Rough Riders gained their fame at the Battle of San Juan Hill.

The ten week war resulted in the US gaining control of a number of Spanish possessions.

Read on:

Family connections: My great-grandmother's brother was supposed to have fought with TR at San Juan Hill, but the story didn't pan out. John W. Simmons did however become involved in the Philippines. [next post!]

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Civil War [1861-65]

Abolitionists vs. Slave-owners, States Rights vs. Federal Government, the causes were many. For several years, politicians had been walking a fine line trying to pacify the Southern slave-owners and those who opposed slavery.

Issues came to a head with the election of Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860. Eleven Southern states would secede from the Union [AL, SC, NC, VA, GA, FL, TX, MS, LA, AR, TN]. Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri and Delaware remained in the Union, but permitted slavery. Virginia would split in 1863, with the formation of West Virginia as a Union state.

The North was industrialized and had the advantage of population. The South was agrarian and the majority of its population were slaves.

Fort Sumter, SC was fired upon by Southern forces in April 1861, igniting hostilities. The war was expected to be a short one, but lasted four years.

Early battles were won by the Confederacy. The Confederate commanders were far more successful than the Union military leaders. The tide would turn at Gettysburg, PA, where Gen. Robert E. Lee was defeated by Maj. Gen. George Meade.

A string of ineffective Union generals was eventually replaced by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who would lead the Union forces to victory. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on 9 April 1865.  Five days later, President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Any chance the Confederacy had for a smooth transition in returning to the Union was lost.

For far more detail see:

Family connections: Brothers Sylvester, John and Aaron Crail served with the Union. Sylvester enlisted in the 79th Indiana Infantry and later served in the Veterans Reserve Corps. John and Aaron were with the 124th Indiana Infantry. During the torrential rains at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864, Aaron became sick and was sent to the military hospital. He would be sent home and would die from "lung fever" in 1868. He left a widow and 6 children. Aaron's brothers would suffer war related health problems the rest of their lives.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Mexican War [1846-48]

Mexico held the southwest territories and the US wanted them. The US annexed the Republic of Texas in 1845 along with Florida. President Polk sought to expand the nation to the Pacific coast.
John C. Fremont led a force into California in the winter of 1845-46. Gen. Zachary Taylor had already been sent to safeguard the Texas border. The US declared war in May 1846.

Exiled former president Santa Anna told the Mexican government that he wished a military command, but had no aspirations on the presidency. He had also been negotiating with the Polk. If he gained the presidency, he would negotiate with the US for the territory it desired.

Santa Anna returned from Cuba to Mexico City, declared himself president and led the army against the US.

Northern and Southern Whigs opposed the war, fearing, in part, the expansion of slavery. Southern Democrats were in support of the conflict.

Zachary Taylor led the "American flying cavalry" against Palo Alto. Gen. Stephen Kearney claimed New Mexico Territory for the US and appointed himself military governor. Kearney soon left for California, leaving Col. Sterling Price to ward off uprisings around Santa Fe. Fremont led the California campaign with the help of a naval blockade. Kearney also led a force into Los Angeles.

Santa Anna met Taylor at Buena Vista, nearly besting the Americans, who valiantly held on to the mountain pass. Word came of trouble in Mexico City and Santa Anna was forced to withdraw.

Taylor became a military hero with his victory at Palo Alto and Winfield Scott with his Veracruz victory. Scott also led the troops that secured Mexico City. Santa Anna was finally defeated at Huamantla and forced to relinquish his command.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war and set the Mexican border at the Rio Grande River, giving the US the former Mexican lands to the north, for which the US paid approximately $13 million. The US also assumed a Mexican debt of over $3 million.

Family connections:  None that I am aware of.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Texas War for Independence [1835-36]

The soon to be American southwest is the focus of two posts.

After "Norte Americanos" were permitted to settle the northern states of Mexico under impresarios like Stephen Austin during the early 1820s, Mexico declared and won its independence from Spain in 1824. Shortly thereafter, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna gained the presidency and became dictator. He fashioned himself the "Napoleon of the West." Like Napoleon, Santa Anna would have his Waterloo.

Catholic Mexico feared the encroaching predominantly Protestant Americans. The Americans had served as a convenient buffer for the northern frontier. They made the land profitable and helped contain the Comanches and other tribes in northern Mexico. Some also held slaves [illegal in Mexico] and were Catholic in name only. Although Santa Anna terminated immigration, many Americans and Europeans still entered Mexico.

"Texicans" [as the Americans became known] opposed the dictatorship and rebelled. In 1835 a small force in Gonzalez held off soldados sent to reclaim a cannon given to the settlers for protection against Indians. They held off the soldados while waving a banner reading "Come and take it!"

Later that year, the Texicans defeated General Cos at San Antonio de Bexar, bottling up Cos's men in the Alamo. The Alamo was an old mission and garrison outpost that had fallen into disrepair. Cos surrendered and was paroled on the promise of never returning to Texas.

The Texicans took over Bexar. The regulars were eventually under the command of Lt. Col. William Barrett Travis. The volunteers were led by Jim Bowie, a large landowner who had married into the prominent Veramendi family. Travis and Bowie frequently butted heads, but agreed that Bexar and the Alamo needed to be defended.

Gen. Sam Houston had sent Bowie to Bexar with orders to blow up the Alamo and retreat to Gonzalez. Bowie wrote him that they would defend the Alamo.

Adding to the garrison in early February 1836 was a small group calling themselves the "Tennessee Mounted Volunteers." Former US Congressman David Crockett was among them.

On 24 February 1836, the Mexican army was spotted by scouts and Bexar was evacuated for the Alamo. Santa Anna settled in for what would be a 13 day siege. Bowie fell ill and was bedridden, leaving full command to Travis. Messengers were sent out with pleas for reinforcements. They expected Col. Fannin to send help from Goliad, where the main army was located. Finally, 32 men arrived from Gonzalez. Another group may have come in as well. Recent research suggests that Crockett and the last messenger went out and came across some 50-odd men enroute to the Alamo. Some of those volunteers made it within the walls led by Crockett.

At least one member of the garrison, Louis Rose, may have opted to escape before the battle.

In the early morning hours of 6 March 1836, Santa Anna ordered about 1600 troops to attack. Two assaults were repelled, but the third breached the Alamo's north wall. Travis was among the first to fall. Bowie was bayonetted in his bed, but may have taken a couple of soldados with him. Upwards of 50 defenders attempted to escape the mission-fortress, but were slaughtered by the Mexican cavalry. A few smaller groups probably met the same fate. Those defenders who took refuge in the barracks building were blasted out by cannon fire and cut down in hand-to-hand combat. A small group of defenders were cut down near the mission church, Crockett among them. No quarter was given, every defender was killed. A few may have hid out and tried to escape, but were probably all killed as well.

The Texican bodies were stacked like cord wood and burned. Mexican dead were buried or tossed into the San Antonio River. A handful of survivors, wives, children and slaves were spared and released to spread word of Santa Anna's "small affair."

The defenders died not knowing that they gave their lives for the new Republic of Texas. Independence had been declared on the 2nd. Gen. Sam Houston was forming an army to fight Santa Anna. Fannin's command was captured and executed later in March. Santa Anna marched toward the US border, leaving towns in his wake in ashes. Houston, his army and fleeing families retreated.

Houston finally found his own Waterloo site, San Jacinto. The "Army of Texas" attacked Santa Anna's army on 21 April 1836. The battle lasted only about 18 minutes. Over 800 Mexican casualties and prisoners were tallied. Texican losses were minimal. Santa Anna, dressed in peasant's garb, was eventually caught and signed Texas over to  Houston.

Family connections: Lucinda Morris, 2nd wife of John Simmons Jr., was the widow of Captain Robert Cunningham. Their son, David married Anna Jennison [sister of Dolly, who married John William Simmons]. David and Anna's eldest, Robert W. Cunningham left the family home near Jeffersonville, Indiana to work on flatboats on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Robert found his way to New Orleans and in 1833 took up land in Austin's Colony. Robert was a sergeant in Captain Parrott's artillery company at the Battle of Bexar. He remained in the town to serve as a private in Captain Carey's artillery company at the Alamo. Robert W. Cunningham was one of at least 185 defenders to give his life at the Alamo. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

War of 1812

The War of 1812 was waged between Great Britain and the United States. British impressment of American sailors [capturing US sailors and forcing them into British naval service], trade restrictions and British support of Indians in opposition of westward expansion.

American forces burned York [Toronto], Canada. In retaliation British forces invading the US capital and burned the White House, Treasury and Capitol. The Navy Yard was also damaged. Torrential rains from a hurricane saved the buildings from total destruction.

The failed British siege of Fort McHenry [Baltimore harbor] in 1814 gave birth to our National Anthem, as lawyer Francis Scott Key watched the bombardment from the British ship where he was being detained.

The final battle of the war at New Orleans in January 1815 gave the Americans an overwhelming victory, but ironically took place after peace had been declared. It made General Andrew Jackson a national hero.

For further reading:

Family connections: Willis Gulley and Martin Cawby Sr. both enlisted in the Kentucky militia. The Kentucky regiment was assigned to the Invasion of Canada. When the troops reached Urbana, Ohio, word came that the war had ended. The Kentuckians marched back to Georgetown, KY, then went home. Willis received a pension for his service. Martin's widow filed an application, but it was misfiled with Revolutionary War applications.

Martin Cawby Jr. and Lucinda Gulley married in 1858.

William Simmons, eldest son of John and Catherine [Daly] Simmons was with the Treasury Dept. under Washington and with the War Dept. under Adams and Madison. He was not a favorite of his boss, Secretary of War John Armstrong, who managed to get Simmons fired. William became an unsung hero of the war. He followed British troop movements on the road to Bladensburg. He rode to warn US troops and encountered President Madison and his party. The warning to Madison prevented the President's capture. Simmons then acted as a forward artillery observer on the outskirts of Washington. He informed Brig. Gen. Winder that the cannon fire was ineffective, but was dismissed because he was not a soldier. Simmons then rode into Washington and managed to convince soldiers guarding the President's House to save at least one of the two cannons there and get it out of town.

Armstrong was blamed for the Bladensburg defeat and the burning of Washington. Winder was singled out for his inept handling the defense of the capital. Family lore holds that President Madison offered Simmons any job he wanted. William retired to his bounty land in Ohio in 1820. He reportedly left government service in 1815.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Family Update: Wolary and Davis

I received a request several days ago for additional information on the father of Sina Hubbard's first born, Peter, who was a Union soldier named Jacob Davis.

That was all I had, but then did some digging. Here is the new info:

Jacob Davis, born Ohio about 1836.
Enlisted: 5 September 1862, mustered in 30 October 1862
Private, Co. D, 7TH Ohio Cavalry
Captured 31 July 1864 place not given
Died from disease at Florence Confederate Prison Stockade, Florence, Florence, SC
Buried at Florence National Cemetery

The 7th recruited from Hamilton, Clermont, Brown, Adams, Scotia, Athens, Galliard, Meigs, and Washington Counties.

"Honeycutt Family Tree" on gives Jacob's middle initial as R and his father [no name given] born in Wales.

Sina was probably in Clinton Co. in 1860. [not located] Jacob's residence based on recruitment region was possibly Hamilton or Clermont Counties. The others listed above need to be searched as well.

Daniel S. and Joseph Davis are paternal candidates.

That's what I came up with!

[Ankle surgery recovery is slow and that's why posts have been missing.]

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Barbary Wars 1801-1805; 1815

The Barbary Wars 1801-1805; 1815: Pirates/Corsairs from the Barbary Coast [Tunis, Algiers, Tripoli] raided American and European shipping in the Mediterranean Sea and demanded tribute for the goods and crews. If tribute was not paid, ships were captured or sunk, crews enslaved or held for ransom and the goods confiscated. President Jefferson sent the US Navy to end the piracy [1801-05]. The 2nd Barbary War in 1815 , over the same issue, was directed by President Madison.

Although I am not 100% sure, I believe from the accounts of Captain James Cunningham related by Isaac Prall, that Cunningham's was one of the US merchant vessels caught up in the actions of the Barbary Corsairs. His ship was all but destroyed and he was captured. Through the efforts of the Masons or another franternal organization to which he belonged, the captain's released was arranged.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

The War for Independence [1775-1783]

The War for Independence [1775-1783]: Hopefully, a major explanation is not necessary here. After 1763, the British Parliament felt the colonies should help pay for the debt incurred by the war with France. Taxation efforts were met with protest in America. The colonies finally decided to declare independence and a newborn, upstart nation waged war with a world power. Commander-in-chief George Washington withstood devastating defeats, a plot to remove him from command, an uncooperative Congress and diminishing troop strength to outlast the British.  Key events for the Continentals: Trenton, Saratoga, Valley Forge [Steuben training Americans to fight in the European style], Monmouth, Cowpens, Kings Mountain and Guilford Court House. The war culminated in an American victory with the siege of Yorktown, VA.

I have posted about my Revolutionary War relatives before. Here's a quick overview from a few engagements: Lexington and Concord - Peter Jennison [MA]; Battle of Long Island - Edward Prall [MD]; Saratoga - Benedict Arnold [CT]; Partisan warfare in the South: Thomas Sumter [SC]; Privateer [naval] - Holden Rhodes [RI]. Another 7-10 saw service from the Ohio Valley to the Atlantic Coast. Nathanael Greene served as Quartermaster General and Commander of the Southern Campaign.

Check out: