I'd never thought much beyond the 1847 Utah arrival besides knowing that the pioneers showed up somehow at This is the Place. But the pioneers had quite a journey down canyons and over mountains to get to that point, and this past weekend we had the unusual opportunity to tour some of those sites with Connie Bauer, a local expert and family friend.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
|communing with cactus|
My paternal grandparents lived in Mesa, Arizona, from the late 1950s until the 1990s. I remember visiting their home as a child, and so returning there last Easter was special. We attended church at their ward and met some of their old friends who reminisced about being in Anna's Cub Scout troop, and TP-ing their house one night while Wally and Anna just watched, smiling, from behind the window curtains. As we stopped by their home, the owner was kind enough to let me wander through and see how things had changed (he owns an exotic reptile business, so the cage collection alone was enough to feel pretty different there).
|Anna's handwritten list of places she's lived|
Monday, August 19, 2013
My maternal grandparents both lived in Logan, Utah for part of their growing up years, and they met while attending Utah State University and were later sealed in the Logan Temple. Their widowed mothers continued to live in Logan through the 1960s and 1970s, so my mom and her siblings spent summer vacations visiting their grandmothers there.
|a restaurant my grandma remembers fondly|
|my two great-grandmothers out shopping together, Eulalia left, Blanche right|
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Monday, July 1, 2013
|Johnstown inclined plan--glad no flood hit us!|
I found the most connection with our Millers on this Pennsylvania odyssey. Seeing their hometown in the wooded hilly laurel highlands of western Pennsylvania (very near the Flight 93 memorial), I appreciated my McLean High School "highlander" heritage in a new way. Sadly, the Miller family records and photos were lost in the 1889 Johnstown Flood, but learning more about that disaster was also enlightening.
My third-great-grandparents Sally Nealy and Philip Miller married in 1837 in Sewickley, a town that is now a northwestern suburb of Pittsburg, right on the Ohio river. I would love to know how and where they met, and why they married so far from where they lived (what is a couple hours' drive for us must have been quite a journey back then).
|German Lutheran Church, 616 Washington Street, Sewickley|
Philip was an innkeeper at the Compass Inn in Laughlintown, and so their daughter Margaret grew up there. It is now restored and open as a museum, with a fascinating costumed tour guide. We were fortunate to be able to stay next door at the Ligonier Country Inn, and see this from our window, and think of ancestors living across the street viewing that same wooded hill behind.
|inn where we stayed|
|ancestral Compass Inn across the street|
|old wedding dress--could it be one of ours?|
Philip also worked as the postmaster of Jenner Crossroads. Although that town is marked now only by a sign on a bridge, the nearby Jennerstown post office made a great memorial.
After being widowed, Sally moved in with her youngest son in Johnstown, which is a windy twenty-five mile drive away from where she had lived. Here, at age seventy-five, she escaped the great flood through the roof with her grandsons, having first run back for her sunbonnet. She clung to a steeple all night before being rescued (there were 27 churches in Johnstown then, so no idea which steeple it was). The flood museum is in the former library, and since Sally was known as being a woman who liked to read, she probably visited this building.
|unidentified survivors, but as the woman has a|
hat and two boys with her, I like to imagine it's Sally
|viewing the flood's path in the museum display|
The Miller family stayed and rebuilt, and Sally was later buried in the Grandview Cemetery (up above the lower area of Johnstown). This enormous cemetery holds many flood victims; Sarah J Miller is located at Central 3-73, on your right as you turn in to the Central 3 section, right off the road.
Highlanders who like books, mail, hotels, and sunbonnets--
I'll claim them!
Friday, June 28, 2013
Our two generations of Mendell ancestry in Pennsylvania make up the lone not-German line, and in fact has its own ethnicity mystery. Civil War vet George Henry Mendell (my second-great-grandfather) was raised in Ligonier where his parents, Colonel Noah Mendell and Mary were innkeepers. Massachusetts- born Noah presumably gained his title in the War of 1812, when he was 22, although I haven't found any evidence of that, and he is of old New England descent. Mary is our Indian legend; born in Nebraska in 1800, on DNA testing she matches with names like "Long Crane Chocsaw" but the ethnicity match is Spanish/Italian/Portugese, and her son George has blue eyes. Conquistador heritage? We came no closer to solving the mystery, although I was tempted to exhume the grave for more info :-)
Ligonier is a charming town which almost resembles a movie set. A library, city hall, and churches surround a central grassy area with gazebo, fountains, and statues. Fort Ligonier, an outpost from the French and Indian War, is located right there, and the main cemetery is across the highway on a hill (but that's not the right one to find).
|Ligonier town square|
Our Mendells are buried in the Old Ligonier cemetery, which is behind the Covenant Presbyterian Church. Their headstones are deteriorating rapidly.
|both headstones together, about middle of the lawn|
|Noah Mendell's headstone|
|Mary S Mendell's headstone|
George, orphaned at a young age, married his childhood sweetheart Margaret Miller in Laughlintown, which is just a few miles down the road from Ligonier. He then served in the Civil War as a Union soldier, and was reportedly wounded at Gettysburg (still trying to sort out some conflicting military records).
|remembering our own soldier|
The Mendell family eventually settled in Nebraska, where George and Margaret are buried.
Perhaps he connected with his mother's heritage there?
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Our Cramer roots extend back in Pennsylvania to the eighteenth century: Adam Cramer, our German emigrant ancestor, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. These early Cramer, King, and Rambo lines settled in the western highlands of Pennsylvania, a wooded hilly area. Adam and his son Samuel lived in the Milford Township area of Somerset County. Samuel's son John and his wife Sarah (my third-great-grandparents) are buried in Kingwood (same cemetery as the Kregers). John's son Hiram was born in Centerville, had a farm and store in Ursina, but ultimately moved west to Nebraska where he is buried. His grandson Wally is my grandfather.
However, following their footsteps was a little tricky. We found John and Sarah at the Kingwood Mount Zion Lutheran Cemetery on Route 281 just past the Humbert Road junction; their headstone is fading fast and is in the far back corner by the trees.
|this cemetery, not the small one behind the church|
|John S. Cramer's headstone|
|Sarah's inscription on the side|
Our other destination was the Cramer-King Cemetery to see Revolutionary War vet Adam Cramer's grave. Findagrave says this cemetery is located on Route 53, and their photo shows a large identifying sign. We approached on a foggy morning, and drove back and forth, asking several people for directions. We learned that the cemetery is actually on Route 281 West, just north of the town of New Centreville.
What you have to do is start with a very patient husband. Then you park at Zambo's Country Cottage restaurant, on the east side of the road (a cash-only establishment featuring ham-loaf dinner).
|Cramer cemetery (back by tree) viewed from the road when it's clear|
Then you have to be brave enough to unwind the chain on the cow pasture (don't touch the electric fence), and walk through the mist and manure.
Have faith that your destination is where the fireman pointed, somewhere in that fog (and that there are no cows in your way)
It's by the big evergreen tree
The sign is no longer there
But Adam Cramer's grave is. Success!
Now good luck finding your car again...