Monday, September 26, 2011

Military Monday - Joseph Thompson McGowan

My fifth and last direct Civil War ancestor is Joseph Thompson McGowan (J.T.).  He was my third-great-grandfather.

J.T. was born on 16 July 1819 at Chester Co., PA.  I do not know who his parents were.  Sometime before 1842 he traveled to Knox Co., OH where he married Melvina E. Miller on 27 February 1842.  She was the daughter of Henry and Rebecca (Jackson) Miller.  She was born on 23 December 1821 at Fairmont, Marion, (West)VA.

J.T. and Melvina soon moved to Allen Co., OH where their children were born.

Their children were:
1. Elmina J. McGowan, born 21 April 1844 - she married John J. Neeley (one of my Boys in Blue))
2. Clementine Marinda McGowan, born 28 September 1845
3. Seaman Ellwood McGowan, born 26 May 1848
4. Zelpha A. McGowan, born ca 1850
5. Henry A. McGowan, born 1855
6. Louisa A. McGowan, born 24 April 1859 (second wife of J.J. Neeley)
7. Frank E. McGowan, born 23 December 1862
8. Lura A. McGowan, born ca 1864

Melvina's father Henry Miller received Bounty Land for his service in the War of 1812.   He died in 1858 and willed it to his daughter.  The family moved to this land in Bourbon Co., KS in 1864.   
J.T. joined the Co. A Irregular Kansas Militia under Major C.C. Tompkins between October 15-27, 1864 and was stationed at Mound City, Lind Co., KS.

Melvina died 16 February 1876 at Bourbon Co., KS.

J.T. remarried to Mary A. Smith on 3 April 1887 at Bourbon Co., KS.  She was born ca 1835 in CO.

He died on 10 December 1890 and is buried at Dayton Cemetery in Bourbon Co., KS near his first wife.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Society Saturday - Learning about the Brothers' War

At a recent Colonial Dames Seventeenth Century meeting, we learned about the "Brothers' War".  The meeting started off at a member's home where we conducted business and had a nice lunch.  Then we traveled to Grayslake, IL Historical Society.

There, Society Director Dave Oberg told us about the Brothers' War - ie. the Civil War.  He was in costume and told of the 50 young men from the Grayslake area who fought for the Union.  At the time, the town of Grayslake did not exist, and these were predominantly farm boys who fought.

He gave an extremely interesting and well researched talk about many of the young men.  He told of the battles they were in, showed portraits of some of them, and made connections to some current local residents.

Along with some excerpts of letters and diaries written by these men, he also entertained us with songs that were popular with the troops. 

A very interesting program and I'm glad that I travelled the 40 miles each way to attend.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Military Monday - George W. Wiley

My fourth Civil War Ancestor was George Washington Wiley.

George was born 29 November 1838 at Decatur Co., IN to Thomas and Hester (Critser) Wiley.  When he was 22 years old, he moved to Clark Co., IL with his parents and made a living as a farmer.

He served as a Private in Co. B, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery "Madison Battery" from 26 August 1861 until 31 August 1864.  According to the "History of Crawford and Clark Counties" published in 1883, he "participated in the battles of Pittsburgh Landing and Corinth, and came out unscathed".  George returned to Clark County where he married Susan Mumford on 14 January 1865.  She was the daughter of Levi and Mary (Funk) Mumford and was born 4 April 1844 at Martinsville, Clark, IL.

George and Susan had ten children:
1. John Thomas Wiley born 18 October 1865
2. Mary "Mollie" Wiley born 4 September 1867
3. Thomas J. Wiley born 16 May 1869
4. Arthur Wiley born 4 December 1871
5. Hester Wiley born 11 December 1873
6. Nancy Jane Wiley born 5 August 1875
7. George Wiley, Jr. born 31 January 1877
8. Robert Wiley born 9 January 1880
9. Susan Wiley born 25 September 1882
10. Frances M. Wiley born 12 August 1887

George is described as having light hair, blue eyes and standing 5 foot 9 inches tall.  He was a democrat and served as County Supervisor in 1882.  He was a member of AF&AM Casey Lodge #442.

Apparently, as George grew older, he realized that he was not as "unscathed" as the County history claimed.  He applied for a military pension for reasons of: chronic cough, piles, rectal prolapse, injury to "lower bowels and testacles by lifting heavy timbers...resulted in complete loss of right testicle"...causing "privates to swell and turn black" (NARA pension files).  In a letter written to his granddaughter Ethel Wiley Troughton dated 12 September 1919 he tells her that he sustained "3 bullet holds in my close 2 just grasing the hide". 

In 1904-05, George and Susan moved to Pomona, CA.  He joined the masonic lodge there.  They lived at 925 N. Garey St.

Susan died of cerebral hemorrhage and paralysis on 15 January 1916.  George died of bronchitis and gastritis on 1 January 1920.  They are buried in the Pomona Cemetery at Pomona, CA.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

From Russia With Love - Part 2

Part 2 - The Journey -

My great-great-grandparents, along with some of their children made the trip from Doenhoff, Russia to Ohio in 1892.  The first step then, as it is today, is to obtain a passport -

This is a page from their passport - it is predominantly in Russian, however there are some sections in German and in French.  Note that I said "their" passport - the family shared this document.
Listed on this page are Wilhelm Steinbrecher, his wife Catherine, their children Catherine, Elisabeth and Wilhelm, along with Wilhelm's wife Eva and their children Wilhelm, Heinrich, Catherine, Eva Elisabeth and Maria.  Basically, eleven people in three generations planned to travel.

They boarded the steamship "Oldenburg" in Bremen, Germany for their journey across the atlantic.

Their ship arrived in Baltimore, MD on 14 April 1892.  The passenger list gives the following details about the family:

Wilhelm Steinbrecher, age 57 year old male traveling in a family of 11.  Their nativity is Russian, last residence is "Ternhoff".  Their destination was Iowa and his occupation is farmer.  Their religion is protestant and all are in good health.  Wilhelm is the only family member with money and has $15 cash for the voyage.

Other family members are listed:
Catherine 55y female, Wilhelm 32y male, Elizabeth 27y female, Wilhelm 7y male, Catherine 5y female, Eva 3y female, Elizabeth 2y female, Heinrich 1y male, Catherine Elizabeth 20y single female, Elizabeth 5y female.

Within 2 years, the family was established in Fulton County, Ohio.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I have done 86 of these!

I "borrowed" this from the Adventures in Genealogy Education Blog - thanks, Angela, for posting.  She credits this as follows:

I have seen this genealogy meme on other blogs, but it was the post on Sheri Fenley's blog, The Educated Genealogist, that got me to decide to participate. Sheri credits the original author Becky Wiseman, the Traveling Genie and author of Kinexxions, who came up with this meme as sort of a self-evaluator of one's genealogical experience.

My score is in purple.
99 103 Genealogy Things

1. Belong to a genealogical society

2. Joined a group on Genealogy Wise.

3. Transcribed records.

4. Uploaded headstone pictures to Find-A-Grave or a similar site

5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents)

6. Joined Facebook.

7. Cleaned up a run-down cemetery.

8. Joined the Genea-Bloggers Group.

9. Attended a genealogy conference.

10. Lectured at a genealogy conference.

11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society/local library’s family history group.

12. Joined the National Genealogical Society.

13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication.

14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society.

15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery.

16. Talked to dead ancestors.

17. Researched outside the state in which I live.

18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants.

19. Cold called a distant relative.

20. Posted messages on a surname message board.

21. Uploaded a gedcom file to the internet.

22. Googled my name (and those of ancestors)

23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness.

24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it.

25. Have been paid to do genealogical research.

26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research.

27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative.

28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals.

29. Responded to messages on a message board.

30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion.

31. Participated in a genealogy meme.

32. Created family history gift items.

33. Performed a record lookup.

34. Took a genealogy seminar cruise.

35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space.

36. Found a disturbing family secret.

37. Combined genealogy with crafts (family picture quilt, scrapbooking).

38. Think genealogy is a passion and/or obsession not a hobby.

39. Assisted finding next of kin for a deceased person.

40. Taught someone else how to find their roots.

41. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure.

42. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology.

43. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher.

44. Disproved a family myth through research.

45. Got a family member to let you copy photos.

46. Used a digital camera to “copy” photos or records.

47. Translated a record from a foreign language.

48. Found an immigrant ancestor’s passenger arrival record.

49. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer.

50. Used microfiche.

51. Visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

52. Used Google+ for genealogy.

53. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors.

54. Taught a class in genealogy.

55. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century.

56. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century.

57. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century.

58. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents.

59. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer.

60. Have found many relevant and unexpected articles on internet to “put flesh on the bones”.

61. Own a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

62. Helped someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research.

63. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC.

64. Have an ancestor who came to America as an indentured servant.

65. Have an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 or Civil War.

66. Taken a photograph of an ancestor’s tombstone.

67. Can “read” a church record in Latin.

68. Have an ancestor who changed his/her name, just enough to be confusing.

69. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list.

70. Created a family website.

71. Have a genealogy blog.

72. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone.

73. Have broken through at least one brick wall.

74. Done genealogy research at a court house.

75. Borrowed microfilm from the Family History Library

76. Found an ancestor in an online newspaper archive.

77. Have visited a NARA branch.

78. Have an ancestor who served in WWI or WWII.

79. Use maps in my genealogy research.

80. Have a blacksheep ancestor.

81. Found a bigamist amongst my ancestors.

82. Attended a genealogical institute.

83. Taken online genealogy (and local history) courses.

84. Consistently (document) and cite my sources.

85. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don’t live in) in search of ancestors.

86. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes.

87. Have an ancestor who was married four times.

88. Made a rubbing of an ancestor’s gravestone.

89. Followed genealogists on Twitter.

90. Published a family history book.

91. Offended a family member with my research.

92. Reunited someone with precious family photos or artifacts.

93. Have a paid subscription to a genealogy database.

94. Submitted articles for FamilySearch Wiki.

95. Organized a family reunion.

96. Converted someone new to the love of all things genealogy.

97. Have done the genealogy happy dance.

98. Visited the DAR Library in Washington D.C.

99. Have done indexing for Family Search Indexing or another genealogy project.

100. Visited the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

101. Had an amazing serendipitous find of the "Psychic Roots" variety.

102. Visited the Library of Congress.

103. Belong to a lineage society

Of course, that is 86 things up until today...  (some are definitely on my to-do list)

Friday, September 02, 2011

From Russia, With Love - Part 1

Part 1 - Historical Background -

My maternal Grandfather's parents and grandparents were natives of Russia who immigrated to the United States in 1892.  They were part of the ethnic group of Germans living in Russia. 

Historically, in 1762-3, Catherine the Great of Russia issued an invitation to Western Europeans to travel to Russia to settle and farm the land.  They were promised religious autonomy, the ability to maintain their own culture, and freedom from the military draft.  Between 1764 and the early 1800's, hundreds of thousands of Germans settled in Russia.

My Steinbrecher ancestors settled in Donhoff (German) or Gololobovka (Russian), a town southwest of Saratov, east of the Volga river. 

In 1872, Alexander II revoked the previously granted privileges.  Germans began to be drafted into the Russian army, and were discouraged from practicing their own culture, language and religion.  For this reason, many Germans from Russia began to leave.  They traveled to the United States, especially the midwest and great plains.  Many also traveled to Canada, Brazil and Argentina.

My ancestors were Lutheran.  This is the Lutheran Church in Saratov, the nearby city.  If there was a church in their town, it is no longer there.

My great-grandparents were:
Johann Wilhelm Steinbrecher, born 5 March 1834 at Doenhoff, Russia.  He was the son of David and Catherine (Krauss) Steinbrecher. 
Catherine Elizabeth Steinbrecher, born 30 June 1839 in Russia.
They were married in Russia and had 11 children:
1. John William Steinbrecher (see next post)
2. Henry Steinbrecher, born 11 April 1864
3. Katherine Steinbrecher
4. Marie Steinbrecher
5. John Steinbrecher
6. Marie Elizabeth Steinbrecher
7. Catherine Steinbrecher, born ca 1870
8. Elizabeth Steinbrecher
9. Elizabeth Steinbrecher, born 21 February 1885
10. Eva Steinbrecher
11. Jacob Steinbrecher

For more information about the Germans from Russia, visit