Tag: family history


My blog has been dormant for a while now, and one of my goals for 2022 is to remedy that neglect. What better way to get started than to participate in the January 26 #MyGenealogyStory challenge? 

My genealogy story began, appropriately enough, as stories. I can remember as a child eating at Great Western Pizza in Caldwell, Idaho, and asking my dad to “tell me more stories!” Later I made the same request of my grandparents and (thank goodness) took notes. I was also intrigued by the “green booklet,” a pamphlet written about my Hoffmann ancestors’ journey from Alsace-Lorraine to America in 1883.

Stories started to take on a more structured framework when I stumbled across a family history book my second cousin David Johnson wrote and printed for his grandparents’ 50th anniversary in 1989. This plastic comb-bound book traced our common ancestors back many more generations than I had imagined possible at fifteen.

While in high school I read all the genealogy books I could find in my public library and visited my local Family History Center. I wrote out pedigree charts and family group sheets in longhand and filed them in 3-ring binders, then eventually migrated that data over to genealogy software programs. 

It wasn’t until I started graduate school and had consistent access to the internet that things really took off. I found myself corresponding with David Johnson and other newly-found relatives, writing away for copies of records, and continuing to expand my family tree. As technology advances, I continue to take advantage of what it can offer through DNA testing, accessing online documents, and viewing images of headstones and scans of newspapers that would be too distant (or too numerous) to see in person. That same technology then allows me to reach back out to relatives and strangers alike and share those stories that got me hooked over Great Western pizza in the first place. 

What’s in a Name?

I’ve always found names fascinating.  The stories I would write when I was little always involved families with hordes of children because coming up with names for all of them was my favorite part of the writing process. I often hear people say they don’t want genealogy to be just “a list of names and dates.” While it’s true I love to have all the facts to flesh out the stories of who these relatives are, sometimes even just getting that “list of names” is rewarding.

For example, who wouldn’t be thrilled to find they shared a common ancestry with someone named Grimpie Brittimart Gobble? Or another favorite name, Grizzel Spratt? And sometimes I would come across my own real-life family with hordes of children, like the offspring of Samuel Willson (my 7th-great-grandfather):  John, Mary, Olive, Benjamin, Molley, Samuel, Ester, Eunice, Louis, Persis, Jenne, Nahum, and Elizabeth.

And then there are the “family names” that recur throughout our family history. My nephew, Benjamin Leander Montgomery, for example, has two family names.  His first and middle names were the middle names of his great-grandfathers.  “Benjamin” for Joseph Benjamin Hoffmann, and “Leander” for Herman Leander Likness.

Other names were common in the family generations ago, but not any longer. A prime example is “Tacy,” from the Latin for “silence.”  A quick search indicates there are 46 Tacies in our family tree, but none born since 1893.

Then, of course, there are the name mysteries. Grandpa Montgomery comes to mind first. At different times in his life he went by Lawrence Theodore or by Lawrence Conklin.  The story I remember hearing was that he was never sure which was his real middle name, so he used both interchangeably.  Theodore was the middle name of one of Grandpa’s uncles (Joseph Theodore Montgomery) and was passed on to my father when he was born, and Conklin was the maiden name of Grandpa’s maternal grandmother, Mary Ann.

So, what isn’t in a name?

Marriage License of Marcus Walker and Mary Conklin
Marriage License of Marcus Walker and Mary Conklin

Captain Montgomery

One of the most interesting discoveries I have made recently is finding information regarding the 48th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry, which fought in the Civil War and included a Montgomery cousin, Thomas Montgomery, and his brother-in-law John A. Bering (Thomas’s sister Susan was John’s first wife). The 48th Ohio fought at the battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg, among others. Following their war experiences, the two men collaborated on a memoir which was published in 1880 and is now available online.

Thomas Montgomery, 1905

Thomas Montgomery was born in New Jersey in 1837, the fourth son of William and Mary Ann (Extell) Montgomery. His eldest brother John was our direct ancestor. By 1850 the family was living in Clinton County, Ohio, where, 10 years later, Thomas was listed in the census as a schoolteacher. Thomas’s military career covered the four years of the Civil War, after which he appears to have settled down in Highland County, Ohio. His wife, Elizabeth, was born between 1844 and 1845 in Ohio, and their first child, Stella May, was born between 1866 and 1867. Based on a photo of the Montgomery family, 5 more children followed, though I only have details on 4:  Walter T. (b. November 1870), Maud (b. 1872-1873), Harley H. (b. March 1876), and Milton Clark (b. 1878-1879). In 1870 the census listed Thomas as a livery stable keeper, and in 1880 as a U. S. Storekeeper. Thomas died 13 July 1907 and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Lynchburg, Highland County, Ohio.

Thanks to the 48th OVVI website for many of these details.

Dalen Davis and Beulah

Information gathered from the 1920 and 1930 censuses on Darlen/Dalen/Dalan Davis, fifth cousin of Blanche Agnes Wilson:

Darlen/Dalen/Dalan Davis (son of Claud Duval and Ruhama Bird), born May 1895 in West Virginia, married Beulah M. (b. between 1895-1896 in West Virginia) between 1910-1920. Darlen was a carpenter in 1920 and was living with Beulah in Grant District, Doddridge County, West Virginia that year. By the time of the 1920 enumeration the couple had three children, Graden F., Ruth F., and Edith W. By April 1930 the family had moved to Salem, Harrison County, West Virginia, and had five children – Graden’s name now appears as Bradon, Edith W. now appears to be listed as Yvonne, and two new children, Dalen Jr. and Naomi appear, as well as Ruth.

Descendants of Darlen Davis
1. DARLEN10 DAVIS (CLAUD DUVAL9, ELIJAH8, ABSALOM7, PETER D.6, WILLIAM5, THOMAS WILLIAM4, JOHN3, WILLIAM2, WILLIAM1) was born May 1895 in West Virginia. He married BEULAH M. Bet. 1910 – 1920. She was born Bet. 1895 – 1896 in West Virginia.

January 8-9 1920 Grant District Doddridge West Virginia Sup 3 Enum 35 Sheet 5B
Fm 95 101 Davis, Claud D Head O F M W 46 M yes yes West Va West Va West Va yes Farmer General Farm 55
—Ruhama B Wife F W 52 M yes yes West Va West Va West Va yes None
96 102 Davis Dalan Head 1 M M W 24 M yes yes West Va West Va West Va yes Carpenter Rig building 56
—Beulah M Wife F W 24 M yes yes West Va West Va West Va yes none
—Graden F Son M W 4 S West Va West Va West Va none
—Ruth F Daughter F W 3 S West Va West Va West Va none
—Edith W Daughter F W 1 S West Va West Va West Va none

April 14, 1930 Salem, Tenmile District, Third Ward, Harrison, West Virginia Enum 17-38 Sup 5 Sheet 20A
George Street
94 474 485 Davis Dalen S Head 0 1800 R No M W 35 M 19 No yes West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia 75 yes Tool Dresser [?] Oil OOXV W yes No
—Beulah [Bealal?] Wife-H v F W 35 M 19 No yes West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia 75 yes None
—Bradon Son v M W 14 S yes yes West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia 75 yes None
—Ruth Daughter v F W 13 S yes yes West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia 75 yes None
—Yvonne Daughter v F W 11 S yes yes West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia 75 yes None
—Dalen Jr. Son v M W 10 S yes yes West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia 75 yes None
—Naomi Daughter v F W 8 S yes West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia 75 None

Census: 1920, Grant, Doddridge, West Virginia
Occupation: 1920, Carpenter

Marriage: Bet. 1910 – 1920

Children of DARLEN DAVIS and BEULAH M. are:
i. GRADEN F. DAVIS, b. Bet. 1915 – 1916, West Virginia.
ii. RUTH F. DAVIS, b. Bet. 1916 – 1917, West Virginia.
iii. EDITH W. DAVIS, b. Bet. 1918 – 1919, West Virginia.
iv. DALEN DAVIS JR., b. Bet. 1919 – 1920, West Virginia.
v. NAOMI DAVIS, b. Bet. 1921 – 1922, West Virginia.


I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not writing as many posts as I ought to! Since my goal here is to keep everyone up to speed on all my genealogy and family history discoveries, I plan to write more often about my research progress even if I haven’t received any earth-shattering revelations. So what am I up to now? My major addiction is my current “Census Project”–using the census images at www.ancestry.com to trace all our family branches from 1850 (the first year that every individual in a household was listed by name) to 1930 (the most recent census available). I am working my way very slowly through the Davises right now, many of them located in Doddridge County, West Virginia. My target family today was Anderson G. Davis and his wife Millie (or Mollie) Dotson. All the West Virginia research is made easier by the fact that one of the Ancestry.com databases contains information on West Virginia marriages prior to 1900–this really simplifies the process of tracing an individual from their childhood home to their own home and family after marriage. This particular branch of the Davis family also contains quite a few unusual names–among the siblings of Anderson Davis were Zacharias, Elvira, Donmanuel, Elijah, Elkana, Sylvanus, Penelope, and Vandelee. All the unusual names help with the tracking process–especially with a common surname like Davis. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever see the end of the Census Project–and then I realize I don’t really want to!