Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Obituary: Mary Jo Jackson

I was not close to my Aunt Mary Jo but my mother spent many of her younger years at her home playing with nieces and nephews that were her own age or older. As I really begin to sort out this blog now that I am six months in, it is fitting to add Mary Jo today as it would have been her 85th birthday and today is my 33rd. Happy Birthday, Aunt Mary Jo.
Her Obituary as posted in the Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, VA:
Mary Jo Jackson, 76, of Dayton passed away Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008, at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg after an extended illness. Mrs. Jackson was born July 13, 1931, in Rockingham County and was the daughter of the late Hensel and Angie Landis Baker.
Mary Jo attended Rockingham County Schools and was a member of Mabel Memorial Chapel. She enjoyed gardening and flowers and most importantly she loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
On June 17, 1952, she married James M. Jackson, who survives. She is also survived by two sons, Rick M. Jackson and wife, Patricia of Harrisonburg and Donnie R. Jackson and wife, Mary Elizabeth of Dayton; one daughter, Vickie J. Bodkin and husband, Gary of Harrisonburg; five grandchildren, Kimberli D. Jackson, Shannon T. Bodkin, Christopher T. Bodkin, Sarah E. Jackson and Katie R. Jackson; two great-grandchildren, Steven A. Bodkin and Spencer A. Bodkin and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by one brother and three sisters.
A graveside service will be held 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008, at Woodbine Cemetery in Harrisonburg with Pastor David R. Miller officiating.
The family will receive friends this evening (Tuesday) from 7 - 9 p.m. at the Kyger Funeral Home in Harrisonburg.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Harrisonburg-Rockingham SPCA, P.O. Box 413, Harrisonburg, VA

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Obituary: Nelson Thomas Wetsel

Today would have been my grandfather, Nelson Wetsel's 94th birthday. We miss him every day. This is one of my favorite photos of him and me. It was taken after a church youth group play.  


Nelson and Helen Wetsel
Nelson Thomas Wetsel, 82, of 1491 Virginia Avenue in Harrisonburg, died on Friday, July 9, 2004, at Avante of Harrisonburg.

He was born April 20, 1922, in Harrisonburg, and was the son of the late Earl and Edna Thomas Wetsel. Nelson spent his childhood around his grandfather’s seed business, watching it grow from a small business and moving to larger locations. Ninety-three years ago, the business was started from the back of a wagon, which his grandfather and father brought from Port Republic to Harrisonburg on court house days.

Starting to work as a teenager, then college, military service and back to the business, Nelson did everything from sweeping, seed cleaning, inspecting fields, truck driving, sales person and on to office and money management. He served as president of Wetsel Seed from 1970 to 1990 and was on the Board of Directors and a stockholder.

Nelson T. Wetsel in South Pacific
Mr. Wetsel attended Strayer Business College in Washington, D.C. until World War II started. He served in the U.S. Army as a staff sergeant in the 40th Division of the 108th Regiment in the Intelligence Division and received a Bronze Star for "Above and Beyond the Call of Duty." He spent time on many islands in the Pacific including Luzon, Leyte and Guadacanal and was in Korea at the time of the peace treaty signing.

Nelson has twice been president of the Virginia Seedsmen’s Association, as his father before and followed by his brother, Bob, and his son, Tom. He served as board member of the American Seed Trade Association and was instrumental in taking Wetsel Seed from a small seed store to a multi-state distributor.

He was a 45-year member of the Fire Company No. 1 and, as president, helped organize the first rescue squad in Harrisonburg.

Mr. Wetsel also served as president and was a 55-year member of the Exchange Club, which helps raise funds for nurse’s scholarships and promotes an educational program in area schools for justice and liberty.

Also in the community, Nelson served as a director of the United Virginia Bank, Rocking R Hardware, treasurer of the Harrisonburg Parking Authority and trustee at Bridgewater College.

A lifelong member of the First Church of the Brethren, where his maternal grandfather was the first minister, he served as chairman of the Church Board, Sunday school superintendent, helped organize and was president several times of the Friendship Sunday School Class, usher, head usher, deacon, chairman of deacons and served on other committees of the church.

In giving so much during his working life, after retirement, he and his wife, Helen, enjoyed going on cruises.

Nelson T Wetsel and Helen M Moore Sept. 5, 1947.
On Sept. 5, 1947, he married Helen Moore, who survives.

Also surviving are three sons, Thomas M. Wetsel and wife, Sandy, of Timberville, Va., Jeffrey N. Wetsel and wife, Malinda, of Midlothian, Va., and Donald E. Wetsel and wife, Susanna, of Fairfield, Va.; one brother, Robert E. "Bob" Wetsel of Harrisonburg; six grandchildren, Denise M. Ablard, Lorne N. Wetsel, Tamela M. Dove, Peter H. Wetsel, Whitney E. Wetsel and Matthew E. Wetsel, and four great-grandchildren, Earl L. Wetsel, Christopher Wetsel, Destiny Dove and Elena Ablard.

Memorial services will be conducted 7 p.m. Monday at the First Church of the Brethren, 315 South Dogwood Drive in Harrisonburg by the Rev. Ronald E. Wyrick. The family will receive friends following the service.

Private burial will be in Rest Haven Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the Bridgewater College General Fund, Bridgewater, Va. 22812.

Arrangements by the Kyger Funeral Home in Harrisonburg.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Otis D and Minnie Lee (Shoemaker) Falls

My great grandparents tombstone: Otis Daniel Falls and Minnie Lee Shoemaker Falls. This stone is proof that you cannot always trust grave markers to have accurate information. Minnie's first name is misspelled and while Fauls is a common way their last name was written, it was actually Falls. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Frederick Linhoss

My 5th Great Uncle, Frederick Linhoss was born in Hessen, Germany on 29 May 1823. He came to the US alone (my 4th great grandfather, Frederick's brother followed later) and settled in the Shenandoah Valley. 
I feel like I know little of Frederick and yet, know so much. He entered the military and fought in two wars, was wounded and retired. 
In his own words from a family history: He fought in two wars, the Mexican War and the late Civil War. He was wounded in the ankle during the late war which caused him much suffering in after years. He fought in the Battle of Manassas, Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of the Wilderness, and others.
Upon special inquiry made not long since of two vener
ble gentlemen, Mr. Richard Mauzyof McGaheysville and Mr. 
J. N. Liggett of Harrisonburg, I was informed that Rocking- 
ham County, although a stronghold for Polk and his party, 
took very little interest in the Mexican War, 1846-8. Of 
Rockingham soldiers in Mexico, the following were all that 
could be recalled: John P. BrockM1823-1892) ; N. Calvin 
Smith" (1823-1897); William Smith (brother of Calvin). 

In October, 1873, William Ralston died near Linville 
Depot, aged about 50, It was said that he had been in the 
Mexican War, as well as in the Civil War. He was known as 
"Soldier Bill." 

Mr. Robert Coifman of Dayton states that Frederick 
Linhoss, formerly of the same town, was a soldier in Mex- 
ico; and Mr. Benj. Long, also of Dayton, agrees with Mr. 
Coffman in reporting the tradition, received from Mr. Lin- 
hoss and Mr. St. Clair Detamore, that a number of men 
(about a dozen) left Dayton for the Mexican War. 

From his niece in 1938: Frederick Linhoss enlisted at Harrisonburg, VA in the regular army under Capt. George W. Getty in the year 1846. Went to Fortress Monroe and from there to Mexico. Was there until 1848 then back to Fortress Monroe and from there to Florida and stayed there until 1850.
From the National Park Service's U.S. Civil War Soldier records, I have learned the following:
On 18 April 1861 Frederick Linhoss enlisted in Co. D, 10th Virginia Infantry at the rank of orderly sergeant in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He was elected 1st lieutenant on 23 April 1862 and then wounded 9 August 1862 at Cedar Run. On 20 April 1864 he resigned his commission due to disability.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Recording a Transgender Family Member

There are certainly mixed emotions on the transgender topic. I do not plan to write an opinion piece on transgender issues on a genealogy blog. Rather, this post is dedicated to what do we do and how do we do it when a family member has transitioned.

I have researched and read many ideas on recording a transitioned family member but have not found consensus across genealogists. For many, this feels like a new topic as the transgender community has found itself frequently in the news as of late.

The various genealogy software platforms have not introduced any way to note a transgender person. We get very clear choices for sex: Male, Female, and unknown.

Family history, to me, is like medical information. We should have it as accurate and truthful as possible. So we have to ask ourselves if we are keeping our trees for biological bloodline research or for the stories, the physical people who make up our story. For me, it is a little of both. I love using DNA to find new cousins and share research and trace my paternal and maternal bloodlines. But, the family tree I write about, share with family and friends is about the people, the individuals. I feel I would be short-changing the life of an individual not to include their transition as a part of that story for the good, the bad, and everything in between.

Future generations should not have to guess who these two supposedly different people that will show up in the census or disappear from records were. Documentation will allow those who write about all of us in 75 - 100 years to get it right on the first try and tell the right story.

As I have read on this topic, some like to leave the original birth information as the only information on the tree, others will leave off the original information after transition.

So what have I done?

I have marked the individual in my family with their preferred gender and name with a note: "transitioned in XXXX" and include original names, gender, and other identity information in a comment section. To document, I have sought out the court documents or newspaper legal posting documenting the change in name and keep in my personal family tree files.

I would love to hear how others have handled this, often sensitive, information in their own family trees.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Throw Back Thursday: The Venice of Africa

Traditional pirogue (boat)
As part of my 2007 trip to Benin, our group spent time learning about the slave trade from the African perspective. One of our stops was the safe haven of Ganvié.
Entering the very traditional pirogue (boat), I had no idea what was in store. We traveled for what seemed like forever past fishing boats, other pirogues that served as water taxis on  Lake Nokoué, near Cotonou. Some with motors and others with hand sewn sails. The amazing village that awaited me is still one of the most impressive places I have ever been.
Ganvié is Africa’s largest lake village with approximately 20,000 residents sitting nearly 4 miles from the nearest shoreline on Lake Nokoué. When I say it is a lake village, I mean all structures are on stilts above the water, including the scattered electricity. 

The marketplace is a row of boats bumped up against each other, you float past on your own boat. Older structures look like they could fall into the waters below with a hefty gust of wind. Ganvié is the kind of place you fall in love with because it is so rickety and you feel like you could be electrocuted in your room while as you sleep.
The village was founded in the sixteenth or seventeenth century by the Tofinu people who fled the shores near what is now Cotonou as the West-African Fon tribe was hunting and selling other native tribesman to the Portuguese and taken to the Americas. While there were few physical impediments protecting the ancestors of today's Ganvie village from outside attack, Fon religious practice forbade their raiders from advancing on any peoples dwelling on water, laying the groundwork for the Ganvie Lake Village. Today, the village’s main industries are tourism and fish farming.

At night, the chants of Beninese voodoo followers are heard among the water plants. This isn’t the Americanized voodoo of pin dolls but rather a very majestic, misunderstood religion full of tall tales, kings, priests and ghosts.   
Photos from Ganvié:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Letting go of yourself (and your passport)

This post is the third in a series. While I focus on genealogy and stories of the past, I feel I must also tell my own story so future generations have stories to discover and share.
In 2007, I made the mistake of attempting group travel without the group. I had work to finish before I could leave on my excursion and knowing the group leader well, I told him not to worry about me that I would meet them in Paris. I had my Dad in tow, tagging along for the ride.
I was going as a grad-assistant/paper pusher and low and behold, snow in New York cancelled our first flight. That should be lesson enough not to schedule flights through northern cities in December when I have a timeline (I still make that mistake when the price is right). Not that this should have caused any alarm but my father and I were already going to be running the mad dash from immigration to terminal to make the chartered flight to Cotonou, Benin. With luck, we were able to rebook the next day, upgraded to first class on Air France via Cincinnati.

While we missed the original chartered flight I figured there were worse things than a weekend in Paris. Still was not sure how exactly we were going to get to our group of undergraduate students who, by now were well on their way into northern Benin farm country. We were determined. A last phone call with the professor left me assured our travel company knew we were on our way and I told him I would see him at our camp site, where ever that may be.
In Cincinnati, we found ourselves in the Air France First Class Lounge waiting for our flight and realized we needed alternatives for the ever in-case we don’t get flights to Benin. So, my father made hotel reservations near the airport for quick access should a flight pop up for us and I went in search of a Paris travel guide should we be there a few days.

We got to Paris in luxury after sipping wine, eating steak, and sleeping a good four hours. After checking in to the hotel, we headed off to the Pointe Afrique office to see what, if anything had been done since the groups’ departure, how soon we could fly, and how much it might cost. Snow in New York City was by no means Pointe Afrique’s fault after all.

Point Afrique could not have been more helpful. While on Saturday we only had a standby flight for Monday, things were looking positive. We spent the weekend touring around the city. It was my eighth trip to Paris (and my dad’s first) and I was getting fairly acquainted with La Ville-Lumiére (the city of lights).
By Sunday evening we had a guaranteed flight to Ogadogou, Burkina Faso. This was not in the plans but decided to take it. I was still unsure how we were going to handle hiring a car and driver once getting there, securing a quick visa (as it was Sunday in Paris) and possibly some lodging in Ogadogou once we arrived.

My biggest hindrance in the process: my French skills. Now, I can order a beer or a bus ticket. I can do ok haggling in the African market place but hiring a car to take me across two land borders to find a group of American students in a town I’m not exactly sure how to pronounce or its location? That’s a bit above and beyond.
We did some online research and spoke to the good people at Pointe Afrique who gave me their office number in Ogadogou. They could not guarantee they would have a driver, but their office could assist me. We were told we would be able to get a visa in the airport if we had passport photos with us, something I always carry extra of (I even had 3 of my dad’s)… and this was the first time they had ever been useful!

When we arrived in Ogadogou and filled out the visa papers the man standing at a rather beaten up wooded table took our passports and said nothing. He threw them on a stack of other passports. He would not answer my questions. I didn’t know if we would have a contact outside of “customs,” I had nowhere to go, no passport and no knowledge of the city. I looked to a young guard, maybe 17 years old with a large riffle standing nearby and asked him in broken French about our passports and he said “tomorrow” that it would take 24 hours to get our passports back. I had hoped to be on the road shortly after my arrival.
Leaving this “terminal” as it were, was one of the hardest things I think either my father or I have ever done. We walked out of a “customs control” room leaving our passports, our identity laying on a table without any knowledge of the process or what was waiting for us on the other side of the door.

We went out to get our bags and was quickly approached by a man who knew my name and said “we go tomorrow.” He was from Pointe Afrique, the Paris office had made a phone call to them on our behalf. I was only slightly relieved. I could see my dad getting stressed over the situation. I had wanted to leave immediately for Benin. I explained to him as best I could about our passports. His English was only a little better than my French, but we managed. We got our things and he took us to a hotel and told us to rest and eat breakfast. So we did. He said he would be back. We had no other choice.
We were then in the middle of a new, remote city without our passports, local currency or any sort of guide. As stressed as we were to be in a country we had not anticipated visiting, we cleaned up and ate breakfast.

While at the hotel we met a Tuareg man from Niger who had left his home because of the Civil War and the closure of the airport in Niamey. He said he was out of work because there was virtually no trade and no tourism. We shared breakfast and he showed me the beautiful silver he worked in and gave me a bracelet.

Almost as soon as I had decided I was in for the long haul and prepared to lay down, I had a knock on my door. It was the guide. He said three words I will never forget: “We go now” and had our passports in his hand. The rules do not matter so much on Africa time. If the head of Pointe Afrique goes to the passport control officer and asks for a passport to be stamped early, it gets done. They may have had to pay him, but it gets done. We were only about twenty minutes behind the schedule I had given myself… but on Africa time, there is no “set” schedule.
We left the hotel and I found myself wedged into the back of an old, small geo-tracker complete with plastic windows along with our guide. My father rode upfront with a driver. We were told it is a “long time” to Kutagu, the small town we were trying to get to in Benin. We had to cross two land borders, something I was not looking forward to but was optimistic about since we had two locals with us that were affiliated with a reputable travel agency.

We drove for hours it seemed. We spoke French and English, listened to old cassettes, talked history and politics, and slept a little. We stopped for lunch before we got out of Burkina Faso and to rest the car in the heat. Vehicles can overheat easily in the desert sun if you run them too long in the hottest part of the day. No one wants to be stuck in between villages in the open sun.
When we exited Burkina Faso, Dad and I had to go into a little building where we had to tell a man in a uniform he was obviously proud of; our occupations, how long and why we were in Burkina Faso, and where we were going. They wrote it all down in their large book that no one will ever read or do anything with. I doubt the book will ever leave the little outpost. He stamped our passports without concern, seeming glad to have something to do. I was relieved as land border one was crossed.

As we entered Benin there seemed to be trouble with the vehicle in front of us. I thought maybe they would want to go through everything in the car. Not a problem, just a hassle. I began to think I was about to live one of the land border horror stories of corruption and greed. However, it was nothing of the kind. We were again asked to get out of the car and come down to their building, again where they looked at our passports and recorded answers to questions in a large, old book. This time however, the head guard was called to the front as they finished with us and was handed our passports. He was very stern-faced as he looked over our documents. I got nervous and could tell Dad was too.
Suddenly he got a very big smile and said “I LOVE Americans!” He was ecstatic that Americans were crossing his land border. He started to tell us that he had not had an American cross his border in a very long time and it gave him great pleasure to stamp our passports personally and welcome us to Benin. I was relieved. I told him in French I looked forward to visiting beautiful Benin. And we were on our way again.

A few photos from our trip once we reached our group (a needle in a haystack story for another time):

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

[Almost] Wordless Wednesday

Jackson's cafe was owned by my grandparents, E.F. and Irene Falls Jackson. The original location and map is shown below. After falling victim to the Harrisonburg R-4 project, it was relocated.

Jackson's Cafe in its original location in Harrisonburg, Virginia
Owned ans operated by my grandparents, E.F. and Irene Falls Jackson

Map of Harrisonburg showing original location of Jackson's Cafe

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Daniel and Lydia Wampler Wetsel

My great, great grandparents, Daniel M and Lydia Wampler Wetsel, buried along with their son, Wampler H. Wetsel in the Mill Creek Church of the Brethren Cemetery, Port Republic, Virginia

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Throwback Thursday: That Time Dad Needed to Use Powerpoint

This post is the second in a series of telling my own story. While I focus on genealogy and stories of the past, I feel I must also tell my own story so future generations have stories to discover and share. 

I was still in college when my dad called and said he needed to present a PowerPoint presentation for a work meeting and he didn't know how to use it. Mistakenly, I told him to get his text on slides and I would be home over the weekend and we could then make it look professional. He called me on my way home and said when he went into slideshow mode he could only see the first few sentences. 


My dad had typed 40 slides worth into that first new slide when he opened PowerPoint. Saturday morning I sent him to the office with my digital camera to take pictures of the space, products and other items he wanted to showcase in his presentation. That night, I moved most of his text into the notes field and replaced it with the pictures he took. He was amazed by the impact the photos could have when viewed as a slideshow.

Sunday morning I printed the notes page view of his presentation and taught him how to change from slide to slide and not to be an impatient button masher, the kind that ruin their presentations.

His presentation was a success and apparently the team wanted to know his PowerPoint secrets. I’m not sure he credited his college student daughter. But that’s ok.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Lelia C Swope

While searching for my Jackson and Falls/Fauls relatives in Mt. Clinton, Virginia, I stumbled upon my 3rd cousin 2x removed, Lelia Catherine Swope Hertzler in the Mt. Clinton Mennonite Church Cemetery

Tombstone for Lelia C Swope Hertzler (1906 - 2002)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Throwback Thursday: My Own Story

While I focus on genealogy and stories of the past, I feel I must also tell my own story so future generations have stories to discover and share. I'll be using the popular Throwback Thursday model to do so. 

2004 was an incredibly busy year 12 years ago. I had no idea who I would be or where I would be in 2016. I was an undergrad the spring of 2004, living off campus in an apartment with my cousin, her now husband and another friend of ours that we’re no longer in touch with. We had 4 pet rats, 2 male and 2 females. They were a lot of fun.

My cousin and I were working at a sports bar just down the street from our apartment. We worked long hard hours and it only encouraged me never to want to work shift work again. I am very satisfied with the 9 – 5 world after going to class from 8 – 2 and work from 4 – 3 most nights. There was free steak night. Sounds fun, right? Wrong. It was the most awful night of the week to work. After the fall of 2003 working it, I ensured I had a class right during the middle of it for the spring of 2004. It was a good deal for the customer, FREE steak, potatoes and salad with the purchase of any beverage. You could buy the $1.95 soda, bottled water or the $0.50 9oz. draft beer. Then of course, every customer needed A1 or 57 sauce, extra ranch dressing, etc. and so forth. Most would have 2 beers and a grand total of $1.07 bill. Several servers kept getting 15 – 20 cent tips… (The steak dinner was normally $12.99).  

I still have a list of my classes. I took the most brutal German Literature class in my life as a special topics course. There were 3 of us in the class, so we met in the professors office and discussed the works of Georg Büchner. There is no hiding when you didn’t read everything between classes or if you couldn’t quite understand the German. I think I did double the work just to ensure I didn’t look like an idiot each week. I managed a C+ in the class and that was perfectly wonderful for me.

While I was studying Büchner in depth, I was also in a History of Japan course. The professor was an interesting sort. He would come in to the room and start talking. As he spoke, he would write notes on the board that didn’t quite relate to what he was saying. I’m still not sure how he did it. I’m not sure how I managed to keep up with notes between what he said and what he wrote. It was well before I had a laptop that could record the class for me and I didn’t have one of the dictation recorders. I don’t recall much of the course content now other than I wrote a paper using the book Bicycle Citizens.  It had to do with traditional roles for women in early modern Japan.

My favorite class in spring 2004 was a special topics course (the one I ensured was at the same time as steak dinner nights) entitled Democracy and Democratization. It centered on current trends and news in democracy around the world. I was the only female student of about 10 and we debated every week the merits of news articles, policies throughout the world, emerging democracies, etc. It was finally a real world perspective after taking so many theoretical courses that only touched on modern day implications of the great philosophers.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Who was Uncle George?

My grandfather, Elva Franklin (EF) Jackson was born in Greenbrier County, West Virginia in 1888. While I have learned much about his parents, siblings, and extended family, I know little about the people that lived in the area and even on the farm with EF's family. This is one of the few photos I have of my grandfather as a child. It was taken sometime around 1900.

My mom tells me the man seated at the house was known to EF and his siblings as Uncle George. The child in the doorway is his granddaughter. Mom said he was a share-crop farmer that had lived on the farm prior to my grandfathers family.  For 2016, I hope to find out exactly who Uncle George was and who his family is. Hopefully, I can provide this photograph to Uncle George's family.

I have started to look at the records I do have. The 1880 census lists a man named George Brown, aged 24 on the same page as EF's father, James Madison Jackson. That seems a little young for this to be the same George. The man in the photo appears to be much older than 48-50 by 1900.

The 1900 census does not list a George Brown near the Jackson family but does list a John Lewis, age 50, widowed, with a son and daughter. Maybe this is a relative of John Lewis?

Unfortunately, the 1890 census for the majority of the US was destroyed.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Obituary: Charles A. Marks III

Yesterday, we laid to rest my Great-Uncle Charles Marks. I have fond memories of him on his farm near Waynesboro, Virginia at our many family gatherings.

Charles A. Marks III
Charles A. Marks III, 83, of Waynesboro, passed peacefully Saturday, February 20, 2016 at Summit Square, Waynesboro. He was born November 18, 1932 in Augusta County, son of the late C.A. Marks Jr. and Mabel Batten Marks. Charles was a 1955 graduate of Virginia Tech, served four years in the U.S. Air Force, then taught at Fishburne Military School, and several Augusta County Schools, including Stuarts Draft High and Middle Schools where he was active with the FFA and Young Farmers.  He was a member of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Charles loved farming, both in the Barren Ridge area and on his home farm near Madrid.

Surviving are his wife, Peggy Moore Marks; children, Susan Schmidt (John) of Waynesboro, Rebecca Batton (Larry) of Charlottesville, and Chuck Marks (Loretta) of Harrisonburg; brother Henry Marks (Shirley) of Athens, GA; grandsons Ben and Jon Marks and Andrew and Alex Schmidt; nephew Dan Marks; and special cousin Janice Marie Ely Lowden (Bob).

A memorial service will be conducted at 2:00 P.M. Saturday, February 27, 2016 at Grace Lutheran Church by Pastor Paul Pingel.  The family will receive friends in the church social hall following the service.  Burial will be private in the St. James Lutheran Church Cemetery. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Fellowship Fund, Summit Square, 501 Oak Ave., Waynesboro, VA 22980, or to Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 500 S. Wayne Ave., Waynesboro, VA 22980. McDow Funeral Home is assisting with arrangements. Memories and condolences may be shared at

Published in The News Leader from Feb. 22 to Feb. 25, 2016 - See more at:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Letters between brothers

As we searched for information on my husbands family, we came across a website for the Tietzel family in Australia and a few familiar names popped up. So we reached out and were put in touch with what we have come to learn is Jeff's 3rd cousin. The Australian branch had paid a professional genealogist in Germany and shared their findings with us.

As we learned, Jeff's great grandfather, Carl Albert and his brother, Ottto left Germany for Australia. Carl Albert was unable to pay for the land he bought and returned to Germany. Otto remained in Australia.

Carl Albert then moved to Pennsylvania.

Included with the information from Jeff's cousin was this letter from his great grandfather, Carl Albert Tietzel to his brother, Otto.

First image is the letter, re-typed followed by a copy of the original letter.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Brethren in the Shenandoah Valley

As a child, I attended the Church of the Brethren, primarily with my grandparents. While I do not associate with the church as an adult, I recognize the impact it has had on my family history. My great, great grandfather, Peter Swope Thomas, was the first pastor of the Harrisonburg First Church of the Brethren. Through many church documents I have been able to get to know him. This post includes a little history on the Brethren in the Harrisonburg, VA and surrounding area.

History of the Harrisonburg First Church of the Brethren
1900: Ten brethren, living in Harrisonburg, request preaching services. Cooks Creek, Greenmount and Mill Creek Congregations jointly sponsor the development of a new congregation in Harrisonburg, VA.
1901: The first Sunday School and worship services are held on June 9, with P.S. Thomas in charge of the service and J.M Kagey in charge of the preaching.
1906: A new sanctuary is constructed at a cost of $15,000. The new sanctuary is first used for worship in December 9.
1909: Cooks Creek, Greenmount and Mill Creek congregations release control of the Harrisonburg congregation. P.S. Thomas, who has served as pastor since 1901, remains pastor of the new congregation.
 In 1908 the district of the Brethren Church that included Bridgewater and Harrisonburg areas had about 250 – 300 members, five meetinghouses and four Sunday schools with an enrollment of 300 scholars. The ministry consisted of J.M Kagey, P.S. Thomas, S.I. Bowman and S.D. Zigler. I am the great granddaughter of P.S. Thomas and distantly related to the other three.

The Beaver Creek Church. . as written in 1908By Eld. H. G. Miller.
[Hiram G. Miller was born May 29, 1852; joined the church September 9, 1877; united in marriage with Julia A. Wright on November 7, 1877; elected minister April 4, 1885; and ordained elder on August 1, 1896. Eld. Miller has served the church as moderator of District Meeting and as a member of Standing Committee at Annual Meeting at different times. At present he is a member
of the Board of Trustees for Bridgewater College and he also serves on the visiting committee for the same institution. The discipline of the Beaver Creek church, of which he is senior elder, is favorably known.]
" Doubtless the Beaver Creek and Cooks Creek churches were organized near the same time, but when the division was agreed upon is not known. Bro. John Brower was the first minister located in this section. He was followed by John Wine, Joseph Miller, Martin Miller, George Wine and the Thomases. Martin Miller was ordained to the eldership on April 5, 1855, and Daniel Thomas on December 5, 1862. Jacob Thomas was elected minister, April 5,

The Greenmount Church.
This church has been closely associated with the Linville Creek church in missionary endeavor from the time of its organization. It has a strong membership, but it is so centrally located that the church could not easily be divided to advantage. However, it makes good use of its ministry and Sunday-school workers by assigning them duty at outlying points. Bro. P. I. Garber was chosen minister March 25, 1910, and Bro. Daniel B. Garber was elected June 13, 1912. These, with Jacob A. Garber, I. C. Myers, B. B. Miller J. W. Wampler, John H. Kline and I. W. Miller, make a strong ministerial force.
Eld. J. M. Kagey gives the following information regarding his home church, Cooks Creek:
" Since the organization of the Harrisonburg church and a portion of our territory falling to Beaver Creek church, we have two hundred and sixty members in the home church and about one hundred members in the West Virginia mission field. At each of the four houses of worship at home we have an active Sunday school, and we have preaching services at six different places in West Virginia.
" The present ministry is composed of Elders J. M. Kagey and S. I. Bowman, with Brethren B. S. Landis, J. H. Bowman and L. S. Miller."

The Harrisonburg Church.
Eld. P. S. Thomas, son of Eld. Jacob and Elizabeth Swope Thomas, was born April 12, 1857. He lived in the Beaver Creek church, where he was baptized in August, 1889. On October 11, 1891, he married Elizabeth Ellen McLaughlin. In May, 1892, he moved to the Cooks Creek church, where he was elected deacon, chosen minister, and ordained elder. He assisted in the mission work of
that church in the West Virginia mission field, and when the mission was opened in Harrisonburg he took an active part in it. When the Harrisonburg church was organized he was elected its elder, which position he has held to
the present. In addition, he is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Orphans' Home, and its secretary, and also secretary of the General Child Rescue Committee.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Draft Cards

I love finding draft cards for my grandfathers, great grandfathers, and uncles. They often include a signature and has become the only source of a handwriting sample I have for many of my relatives.

WWII Draft card for my 2nd Great Uncle, Arnold Wilbert Wetsel (1888 - 1957)

WWII Draft Card for my Grandfather, Elva Franklin Jackson (1888 - 1971)

WWII Draft Card for my 2nd Great Grandfather, Luther Hamilton Moore (1879 - 1943)

WWII Draft Card for my Great Grandfather, Otis Daniel Falls (1889 - 1948)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mennonite and Amish Connections

"Mennonites are a branch of the Christian church, with roots in the radical wing of the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Part of the group known as Anabaptists (because they rebaptized adult believers), the Mennonites took their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch priest who converted to the Anabaptist faith and helped lead it to prominence in Holland by the mid-16th century. Modern day Mennonites number almost 1 million worldwide, with churches in North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia. Mennonites are known for their emphasis on issues such as peace, justice, simplicity, community, service, and mutual aid." - (an excerpt from )
Standing: Paul and Garnet Linhoss.
Seated: Renecca Heatwole Linhoss,
My 3rd Great Grandmother &
An Old Order Mennonite
 The first Mennonites came mainly from Swiss and German roots, with many of the important martyrs of the early church coming from the area around Zurich. To escape persecution, many Mennonites fled Western Europe for the more accommodating religious climate of the Americas or Catherine the Great's Russia, giving these two groups distinctly different cultura l heritages. When the Russian Mennonites were eventually forced out of Russia in the last half of the 19th Century and the early 20th Century, many migrated to the western states and provinces, where today there is a large Mennonite population. Many people in the older generation of this group continue to speak a low German dialect called "Plautdietsch" and eat traditional foods. Swiss German Mennonites migrated to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries, settling first in Pennsylvania, then eventually across the Midwestern states. They too brought with them their own traditions, including hearty foods and the German language. Today, large Mennonite populations can be found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Kansas, although Mennonites live in all parts of the United States and the world.
 The Amish, who separated from the Mennonites in the late 1600's, are widely known for their plain dress and rejection of modern technology and conveniences. Unlike the Mennonites, they form an exclusive and tight-knit community, with the church dictating much of what may or may not be done: for example, each local church district would dictate rules regarding the use of telephones, if indeed they are permitted at all. While certain conservative branches of the Mennonite church still dress simply and require women to wear head coverings, Mennonites generally are not culturally separatist, choosing to embrace the larger communities outside of their church rather than forming a separate community around the church. Where the Amish believe in keeping themselves spiritually focused by limiting their interaction with modern society, Mennonites believe in practicing Jesus' teaching of service to others in a broader context.
In keeping with their spiritual roots, Mennonites still believe in the close textual readings of the Scriptures and a personal spiritual responsibility as the basis of their faith. Radical from the beginning, but later considered conservative in many of their beliefs, Mennonites have come to represent a spectrum of backgrounds and beliefs. Pacifism is one of the cornerstones of the Mennonite faith, prompting many young Mennonites to elect service to the church rather than military service. The Mennonite church emphasizes service to others as an important way of expressing one's faith.