Thursday, June 21, 2018

Those Places Thursday - Guilford County

I had a meeting in Winston-Salem, NC recently and took advantage of a few extra days to do some research in neighboring Guilford County.  My Wiley, Burney and Kerr ancestors were there in the late 1700-early 1800's.

I started off at Buffalo Creek Presbyterian Church - this church was founded in 1756 and my Burney ancestors were early members.  In fact, they were involved in a scandal there in 1779 - see

Next, I visited the land owned by my 6th great-grandfather, John Burney (c1725-1795).  He received a grant from the state in 1777 for 640 acres.  His son, my ancestor William Burney received 200 of those acres when he came of age.  That land is within the Greensboro city limits at this point, and some of it is now occupied by low income housing.

Western view of back of housing project.

Then it was on to the land owned by William Wiley (died 1783), another 6th great-grandfather.  He received 2 grants of land as part of the Granville grant - one in Sept 1758, the other in Sept. 1759.  This land was along Birch creek in what was originally Orange County, NC - which later became Guilford County.  Views of this land contained fields and farmland.

A little farther south was his son David Wiley's land.  David was my 5th great-grandfather and lived 1754-1816.  He owned a tract of 100 acres which  is now the site of an abandoned golf course.

Last on the tour of family land was David Kerr (1714-1804), the father of David Wiley's wife Catherine, therefore, another 6th great-grandfather.  His land was located just northwest of William Wiley's land.

Finally, I visited Alamance Presbyterian Church.  This was the church that the Wileys and Kerrs attended.  It was founded in 1762, and was also where the NC Presbyterian synod was founded.

In the cemetery I found 2 stones for my family - there are many no-longer-marked graves, as well as illegible stones, so I suspect other ancestors may be buried here as well.  The two I found were for Catherine Kerr Wiley and her father David Kerr - who has an illegible stone along with a newer stone.

Note:  the locations of land were compiled from land records, map by Fred Hughes, and the assistance of Google.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Military Monday - Letters from Henry part 2

There are over 3 months between letters that I have.  I'm sure that Henry was writing home more frequently, but I know that he was home at least for a little while in March because he got married!

Fulton Co OH Marriage Book 11 p377

Henry married Rosa Kaiser on 24 March 1918 in Fulton County Ohio.
Rosa was the daughter of Philip Kaiser and Catherine Baus and was born February 15, 1891 in Denver, Colorado.

By April 7, Henry was back at Camp Sherman and wrote the following:

Camp Sherman April 7 1918
Dear Parents,
Sunday again so I will try and write just a few lines to you. It is raining some at present but think it will soon stop for it looks as tho it would not rain very much. This forenoon I was to church are dedicating our new Lutheran building and it sure is a dandy building I have nearly two miles to go, but don’t mind that for all we do is walk all the time. And every Monday we are to get a long hike with our pack just got mine last night and this morning I rolled it up ready to to an Have to put one blanket one suit of underwear one pair of socks, towel soap, tooth brush, and paste. Hair brush and comb. Mess kit, poncho (raincoat) and shelter ball and pins. That make a good load to carry on the back. Got a letter from Clara and Lorenz, and Eva this week. And today one from Eleanor and some maple sugar. Got one from Rosa saying she was at your place yesterday you want to make her work when she gets there make her earn her board at least.
Haven’t head from Marie yet she must be too busy for I sent her a picture on Monday.
Had thot of going to church this after noon again but the rain scared me out but may go yet for it looks as tho it stopped raining they had the picture take this morning of the church and the people that were there will try and get a few. Cant buy very many for the many wants a dollar for them but will get one and send it home for you folks.
And one for Rosa if I have enough money left. I see by the papers that some of the farmers will get a chance to stay at home for a while yet has John heard if he will get to stay at home for the summer or not. I hope so. Will ring off for this time.

With Best Wishes, Henry.

He is starting to sound like a soldier - learning how to roll his pack, and hike, hike, hike....

Monday, June 04, 2018

Military Monday - Letters from Henry part 1

I am starting a new series of posts based on letters written home by my great-uncle Henry Steinbrecher.

Henry Steinbrecher, pre-military
Henry was born in Donnhof Russia on 10 September 1890, the first son of John William and Eva Elizabeth (Hettinger) Steinbrecher.  Henry had 4 older half-siblings from his father's first marriage to Catherine Baus.  The Steinbrechers emigrated to the U.S. in 1892 and eventually settled in Fulton County, OH.

WWI Draft Registration from Fold3

Henry registered for the draft in June 1917 and enlisted in the Army on October 12, 1917.  He was initially sent to Camp Sherman near Chillicothe, OH for training.  He wrote several letters home to his parents.  They are addressed to his younger brother Arthur.  These letters were passed along by Arthur's widow Lola to my mother Ruth and then to me.

We believe that the reason they were addressed to Arthur is because Henry's parents could not read or write in English.  They were part of the Germans from Russia ethnic group - a people who lived in Russia for over 100 years but maintained their German language and culture.  Once they came to the U.S., they continued to speak primarily German.  Of course, it was probably frowned upon for Henry to write in German, so he wrote in English to his brother.  Most letters carry the salutation "Dear Parents".

The text of this letter says:

Camp Sherman Dec 27 1917
Dear Folks,
Just a few lines this evening, have been working in the kitchen today finished at 6.30 and washed my shirt already have been washing something nearly every day. That is a job I don’t like but it has to be done just the same.
We had a real Xmas dinner turkey and ice cream and fruits and vegetables and nuts all we wanted of everything. Sure had a real dinner. The officers eat with us. And several fellows had their Girls. We also had oysters. It was past three till we ever got out of the mess hall believe me we did not want any supper the did not get any either in the evening I and a bunch of the boys went to the picture show and after that I and Dan K went to a musical consert at the big Y. So you see I was quite busy in the afternoon in the forenoon I was so lonesome did not know what to do so I washed my underwear and socks. I think it would have been better if I would not have done it but did not know what else to do.
I wish that I could be home for new year but it seems impossible for they won’t give any passes on account of signing the payroll the last of December you know that if we did not sign it we would not get any pay and we can use the quite well. I got that box of candy and that letter from you and Mrs. Duford, also got that letter today with a dollar bill in it. Many thanks. Lorenz was here from Saturday till Sunday night, and don’t know what is the trouble for he hasn’t wrote if he got home or got lost.
How are all the folks hope they are well. And hope that Arthur will be able to go to school again, after the holidays. I have been feeling good nearly all the time. You tell John that it is too cold to drive to Hammond with the machine I am not very anxious about selling it be if he does sell it to Bill he can have time but must give a not with 5% int. from date. This letter is for Marie but will mail it with Arthurs name so if you should happen to be gone they will not mail it away. Good night, Henry

Monday, May 28, 2018

Military Monday - Roll Call of Veteran Ancestors

For Memorial Day, I am conducting a Roll Call of my direct Ancestors who joined the military.

Some didn't serve very long, some fought in one or more battles, a few were captured, and even gave the ultimate sacrifice.

All were important no matter what their rank or degree of service - they were helping to defend our country.

World War II

1. My Father, Donald E. Ormsby (1918-1988)

            He enlisted on May 12,  1942 at St. Louis, MO in the Army Aviation Corps
            After serving 9 months and 4 days, he was Honorably Discharged as an Aviation Cadet.

World War I

2. My Grandfather, John Steinbrecher (1894-1971)

He joined the U.S. Army on June 24, 1918 and served until Nov. 15, 1918, discharged as a Corporal.

None of my Great-grandfathers served that I know of, but all four of my Great-great-grandfathers on my father's side served in the Civil War. My mother's ancestors were either still in Europe, or were pacifists.

Civil War

3.  My Great-great-grandfather Charles Clark Ormsby (1838-1920)
     He was a Corporal in Company E of the 123rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  He enlisted August 14, 1864 and was discharged July 3, 1865.  He received a pension.

4.  My Great-great-grandfather John Johnson Neeley (1841-1908)

     He was a private in Captain Samuel R. Motts Company C of the 57th Regiment in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  He enlisted on December 5, 1861 from Allen County, Ohio and was mustered in at Findlay, OH on December 9.  During his service, he participated in the engagements at Shiloh TN, Wolf Creek Hindman AR, Vicksburg and Jackson MS, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge TN, Kenesaw Mountain and the Seige of Atlanta GA, as well as a number of minor engagements and skirmishes.  He received a pension.

Monuments to 57th OVI at Vicksburg

5.  My great-great-grandfather William Dennis Hill (1838-1925)

He enlisted in Company F, 59th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in August 1861. He served over 3 years and participated in the battles of Pea Ridge, Stone River, and others and was discharged at Atlanta.  He received a pension.

6.  My great-great-grandfather George Washington Wiley (1838-1920)

He served as a Private in Company B, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery "Madison Battery" from August 26, 1861 - August 31, 1864.  In a letter her wrote to his granddaughter in 1919 he told her how he had sustained "3 bullet holds in my close 2 just grasing the hide". He received a pension.

7. My 3rd-great-grandfather Joseph Thompson McGowan (1819-1890)

According to family lore, "The McGowen family answered Lincoln's call when he encouraged brave men to go to Kansas to assure it remaining a free state".  They settled on land inherited from his father-in-law Henry Miller (see below).
While in Kansas, J.T. answered another call of Lincoln, that of joining the military.  He joined Company A of the Irregular Kansas Militia in October 1864 and was stationed at Mound City, Lind Co, Kansas.

War of 1812

8. My 4th great-grandfather Henry Miller (1793-1858)

He served as a Private in Captain John Lantz's Co. 118th Regiment of the Virginia Militia from February 20 - March 4, 1815.  He was discharged at the foot of Blue Ridge near Kingwood 34 miles from his residence.  He received $3.35 pay for his service at the time, but in 1859 his heirs were granted 160 acres of Bounty land.  His daughter Melvina Miller McGowan and her family moved there.

9. My 4th great-grandfather John Forester (1775-1857)

He served from August 29, 1812 - September 9, 1812 and again from March 5, 1814 - August 15, 1814 in Captain William Wilson's Company, Collier's Regiment of the Ohio Militia.  He received 80 acres of bounty land.

10. My 4th great-grandfather Samuel Stover (1785-1837)

He served as a Private in Captain James Downings Company Infantry of Ohio Militia from March 30, 1812 until February 28, 1813 when he transferred to Captain Walker's Company.  He was discharged at Fort Sandusky on March 26, 1813.

11. My 4th great-grandfather Henry Critser (1793-1877)

He volunteered at Dayton, OH on May 1, 1812 as a substitute for John Robinson (his future brother-in-law).  He was taken Prisoner of War on August 16, 1812 and released 2 weeks later at Detroit, MI.  He volunteered again on November 1, 1813 and was discharged March 4, 1814.

Revolutionary War

12. My 5th Great-Grandfather Nathaniel Ormsby (1734-1777)

He served in the Continental Army from Norwich CT in Nixon's Regiment.  His pay for service began on May 15, 1777.  He was captured at Albany and died while a prisoner of the British.

13. My 5th Great-Grandfather Abraham Day (1747-1797)

He served as a Sergeant on picket guard under Major Baldwin in 1775.  Received pay for travel to and from Ticonderoga in 1776.

14. My 5th Great-Grandfather Oliver Clark (1756-1824)

He was a Private in Captain Oliver Clap's Co. in October 1777, then in Captain Moses Adam's Company from February 20 to April 3, 1778.

15. My 5th Great-Grandfather Joel Hannum (1745-1814)

He was a Private in Captain Samuel Fairfield's Company Col. Sparhawk's Regiment from Dorchester, MA from September 24 to December 12, 1778.

16. My 5th Great-Grandfather John Ludwig Shuey (1755-1839)

He was a Private in Captain Casper Stoever's 3rd Company, 2nd Battallion of the Lancaster County Pennsylvania Militia in 1782)

17. My 5th Great-Grandfather David Neeley (c1748-1818)

He was a Private in Colonel Moses Hazen's Regiment of the Cumberland Co PA Militia beginning on May 4, 1777.  He was noted missing as a prisoner from September 11, 1777 until July 1778.  Finally discharged on June 20, 1783.

18. My 5th Great-Grandfather William Thompson (c1744-1811)

He served in the 5th Battalion Cumberland Co PA militia from 1777-1779, then in the 8th Battalion from 1780-1782.

19. My 5th Great-Grandfather Peter Miller (1759-1838)

He served as a Private for 5 months beginning in May 1776 in Colonel Drake's Regiement from New Jersey, then for 4 months in Captain Parsons' Company at Orange County NY, finally in the summer of 1777 under Captain Marion at Chester, NJ.

20. My 5th Great-Grandfather James Becket (c1753-1821)

He was a Private in the 1st Batallion PA Rifle Regiment stationed from September 1 - October 1, 1776 at Harlem, NY.  On December 17, 1776 he was camped near Corryell's ferry.

21. My 5th great-grandfather Johann Balser Dieterick (1754-1838)

He served as a Private in the Pennsylvania Line.  He enlisted in June 1776 and spent 6 months at York Co, PA under Captain John Paxton.  Went to Philadelphia, Trenton, Princeton, Amboy, Long Island and Fort Constitution.  Took part in the attack on the Picket guard of Hessians at Long Island. He was discharged in December 1776.

22. My 6th Great-Grandfather Abraham Day Sr (1712-1792)

He was a drummer in Captain Moses Montague's Co of Minutemen and marched in response to the alarm of April 19, 1775.  He served for 22 and 2/3 days starting on April 20, 1775.

23. My 6th Great-Grandfather Ithamar Clark (1716-1802)

He also served as a Minuteman but under Captain Jonathan Allen's Company.  He served from April 19 to May 15, 1775 and again from July 9 to August 12, 1777 on an alarm at Ticonderoga.

24. My 6th Great-Grandfather Noah Parsons (1731-1814)

He was my third Minuteman who marched in Captain Jonathan Allen's Company from April 19, 1775 for 8 days.  He then served in Colonel John Fellows' Regiment from July 9 to August 12, 1777 marching to Ticonderoga.  Finally he served as a Sergeant in Captain Lyman's Company marching from Northampton, MA to East Hoosuck on the alarm of August 17, 1777.

Minuteman statue in Lexington, MA - photo from Wikimedia commons
25. My 6th Great-grandfather Edward Bates (c1734-1804)

Served in the Invalid Regiment of Pennsylvania under Colonel Lewis Nicola.  He was discharged April 1783.

26. My 6th Great-grandfather Robert Taylor (c1720-1790)

He was a Major in the Cumberland County PA Militia from 1776 until September 1777.

I have many more ancestors who engaged in Patriotic activity, as well as several collateral ancestors who served in the Military.  I thank them all for their service.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Society Saturday - Letters Home from a Confederate Soldier

At our Daughters of the Union meeting today we saw a little from the other side's perspective.

Our program was given by Patricia and Rich Healy who reenacted the story of Confederate Soldier Larkin Moon.

They did they by "reading" letters that he had written home to his wife Malinda Brunetta in Chatham Co NC.

The first letter was written in April 1862.  Larkin was a new recruit fresh from the farm.  He told how they were going to send those Yankees home before the harvest.  He demonstrated how he learned to hold his musket ("shoulder arms") and the nine steps required to load it.

In July 1863 he told of the battle at Gettysburg, how the hill was full of dead and dying boys, in both blue and gray uniforms.  Of the 800 men in Company G 26th North Carolina Infantry, 600 were lost that day.

In February 1865 the spirits of the troops were very low.  They had very little to eat and subsisted mostly on hardtack with weevils in it.  Several of his comrades had deserted.

The last letter was written on April 12, 1865 where he told of taking part in the surrender of the Confederate army at Appomatox.  The troops laid down their weapons and said goodbye to the "Stars and Bars".

It was a very interesting program from a first person perspective.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Society Saturday - Captain Gates

At the Annual Banquet of the Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America, we had a chance to travel back in time to meet the Captain of the Maryland "Dove".  The "Dove" was the ship that brought the early settlers to Maryland in 1633-4.  It is being reconstructed at St. Mary's City in Maryland.

Aiding the reconstruction was the project of 2015-18 DFPA National President Carole Belcher.  

Captain Will Gates is an expert ship rigger of historic tall ships and is currently the skipper of the reconstructed " Dove".  He told us about the history of the ship, and details about its reconstruction.

It was interesting to learn a little about what life was like on board during the 3 month winter voyage for the 120 people on board, each with only a small patch of deck to call their own.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Society Saturday - An evening with the Madisons

At the Associate Council of the Daughters of 1812, we were entertained by James and Dolley Madison.

They were portrayed by Kyle Jenks and Judith Kales who perform first person interpretations of several historic figures.

We learned specifically about the events surrounding the British burning of the White House in August 1814.  James had gone off to be with the US troops, and Dolley stayed behind to safeguard the documents and treasures of their home.  When she was forced to flee, they spent a harrowing several days trying to reconnect with each other.

"Jimmy" and Dolley then told us several anecdotes about how they met and what their family life was like.  

It was a very interesting evening with our fourth President and First Lady.