Along the Natchez Trace

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Do you remember that book (and I think maybe a TV special) about finding your roots?  Well, Bill has been serious about genealogy for over 25 years now and has done a fantastic job finding his family...  both sides....  as they entered the USA from England, or wherever....  traveled to Kentucky and his own branch... went on to New Mexico where both his Dad and he were born.

Actually, one year we volunteered at Lower Hatchie NWR, which was only 20 miles from Henning, Tennessee, where Alex Haley's roots were started.  But that was years before Bill had begun his own search.

My own?  Well, I've never taken my search seriously enough....  made a few half-assed attempts over the years.  Actually got pretty serious about it in 1996...  drove to western Pennsylvania to a way back in the boonies place called Turkeyfoot....  found my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather's gravesite in the churchyard cemetery.  Also saw that someone had placed a marker that he'd served in the Revolutionary War in 1776.

So I've fooled around with finding my ancestors...  honestly, I've always figured that they were dirt poor, always farmers and later coal miners....  probably never owned a thing.  Knowing my parents, I figured both sides were honest folks, but hard working, kind of hard scrabble kind of people.

I've never expected to find a will registered with a Probate Court....  never figured I'd find any land records....  felt lucky if I found an actual tombstone at a cemetery...  those things cost money.

But... back to 1996...  that was the year of 4 surgeries for me...  the year before I "retired" from my job...  and quite frankly, the year that went to hell and I totally changed course about my future life.

So....  no more research...  until the last year.

My interest sparked to life again.  I made several phone calls to various Probate Court offices in several Ohio counties to get information.  Several places responded immediately.  One, the one that had the most info, I sent the money with the request in February....  and..... just yesterday I finally got the response.  Okay...  part of this is my fault....  the reply finally came to our daughter's in Texas a few weeks ago (the day after we left there)..  and she forwarded it on to our Livingston, TX address, which probably got there the day or so after we left there...  and when we got our mail yesterday, there it was!

But not enough info...

So...  today, Bill and I drove the 40 or so miles up the road to New Lexington, Ohio...  the county seat of Perry County, where my Mom's side of the family came after having moved to Somerset Co, Pennsylvania (moving there from Somerset, NJ....  from Somerset, England in 1710).....   

What a wealth of information we found...
In 1876, when my Grandma was born, there were no Health Dept's that kept records on computers....  the records were written in a huge ledger which was kept in the court houses.  Emma M Colborn....  That's my Grandma...  the only grandparent I ever knew...  she was born June 28, 1876, the daughter of CC Colborn and Harriet Shaner Colborn.  She was female, and white.  Her brother John was born 2 years later and her sister, my great-aunt Vic was born 5 years later.  I don't know when my great aunt Bec was born, but it must have been later.  

This will suffice as a birth certificate for whatever records I need.  Okay...  no inked baby footprints...  nothing about birth weight and length.  Hey...  I'll take what I can get!

Bill and I poured over Birth Records, Death Records, Marriage Records...  and even though I thought it was hopeless, we also looked at probate records of Wills and the such.

We also went to the New Lexington Library, but it was the court house that had most of the information that we were looking for.

Here's Bill....  checking out the facts...

The Facts, Ma'm.... Just the Facts....

We spent several hours in the Court House before heading down to the library.  Turned out that the court house had a lot more documents ... we had 12 copies of various entries made.....  much more info than the library had.  

Sometimes, when you're doing a family history search, you'll find personal documents...  like letters or journals...  I really don't have much hope for my own...  both sides of my family were folks who didn't talk much...  about themselves, their hardships or their own history.  We've barely begun to find a thing about my Dad's side of the family...  and I'll be quite surprised if/when we do....

But....  just making a little headway into the inroads into my Mom's side today brings a smile to my face....  and a few more pages into the records that Bill is recording for my kids to know about their past.

That's All For Today!


  1. What fun. Not only that you have turned up a few records, but that Bill must know exactly how to conduct a search. The only record I found for the grandfather who abandoned his children was a subpoena to appear in court and answer charges of not supporting his children. Irony. Good luck and all good tidings in your search.

  2. I don't know much past my grandparents. I knew all four of them, but my granddad on my dad's side passed away when I was quite young. That is as far back as I know of my family. Somewhere in my mother's files which I have packed away, is a history of her side of the family. I need to read it over again. It has been many years since I read it. Interesting post and it got me thinking of my ancestors.

    1. Oh, BTW, if you go north from Turkeyfoot, past Pittsburg and almost to Butler, you will find where I grew up. But I stated life in Foxburg up along the Allegheny River.

  3. Are you able to look it their lives prior to move to USA? My cousin looked into our history but we're in the UK anyway. He found we built ships in Hull at some point. There was one dodgy character discovered who sold an 'elixir' at fairgrounds.

  4. Family genealogy can be so interesting, to search and follow. Suzie has done an amazing job with both of our families.

  5. I'm glad you've had good luck in finding information, especially when so many people doing genealogy hit walls like ancestors changing their names or marrying or dying without those events being recorded, but personally I've never gotten the point of doing genealogy. My brother-in-law was obsessive about it, did a ton of research, traced his family tree back to about the time they started keeping written records in Finland, and I never could understand why. That said, I will make a suggestion -- whatever information you and Bill find, make copies and donate those copies to the local historical societies in the areas you're from (or your ancestors were from). I'm a member of a county historical society; our family history files have helped a number of people who were researching the same set of ancestors.

  6. I've never delved into genealogy, but I know it can be quite time consuming, but very intriguing and informative as well. I enjoyed reading about your endeavors.

  7. I've done a little poking around about my ancestors. Family legend has it I'm related to Mark Twain. Maybe that's where my bushy eyebrows come from??? ;c)

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  9. That's interesting, to discover your deep roots. I don't know any of mine. In fact, I feel like an orphan of the world, with no connections and barely any family I know. I remember watching a few episodes of Roots on TV, way back when, and being fairly sheltered, I was horrified. I hope you find out more about your farthest family!