Saturday, November 19, 2011



There are so many records you can access if you have an ancestor who served in the American Revolution, Civil War, Spanish American War, etc.  Many of the records that are available are now online and that makes your research so much easier!  I will begin to list the wars/conflicts to ask about and then the types of records you can access for links to the proper sources of documentation.  These sources will have important information about the individual that will once again provide you with valid documentation.

Here is a list of wars/conflicts involving the  United States in its history with the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.  The list is extensive, in chronological order and I will be explaining basic aspects of each of these wars/conflicts.  So this posting will take some time to fill out to the extent I want to share necessary information for your research purposes.  In fact, I may continue to add other postings and just go back and fill in information as I see appropriate.  So check back often!

- American Revolutionary War or American War of Independence  September 1, 1774 – September 3, 1783.  It involved Great Britain, the Loyalists living in the colonies, the Iroquois and Cherokee Indians.  It ended with the Treaty of Paris with Britain recognizing the independence of the United States, 

- The Boston Campaign which was part of the American Revolutionary War  September 1, 1774–March 17, 1776.  It involved the British with the Colonists and ended with British forces being driven out of Boston, resulting in Colonial victory.

- Naval Operations in the American Revolutionary War which was part of the American Revolutionary War  1775-1783, and, of course, involved Great Britain.   It ended with the Treaty of Paris also.

- Canadian Campaign which was part of the American Revolutionary War  June 1775-October 1776.  It was the first major military campaign by the newly formed Continental Army and intended to gain military control of the British Province of Quebec, convincing the French-speaking Canadians to join the colonists.   It ended in the British counter-offensive defeating the Colonial invasion.

This posting will continue...

Friday, November 11, 2011


11-11-11,  An incredible number for the countless men and women who we are thanking today for all their sacrifice and courage so that we are able to stand here today and enjoy the very freedom they fought for--so many giving their lives!  So I want to give a big THANK YOU to those who continue to stand on watch all over the world, those who are now back in civilian life and those who have passed onward leaving legacies for ages to come.  We are forever grateful....


Friday, October 28, 2011


This may sound like a strange topic for genealogy, but I can tell you from experience in my family lines that it is quite significant!  Question number 6 of Interview Question Form ,  asks "DO YOU KNOW OF ANY PREVALENT HEALTH ISSUES IN THE FAMILY HISTORY?  [EX. DIABETES, KIDNEY PROBLEMS, HEART PROBLEMS, ETC.]."  The question has a number of purposes in genealogy.  Researching your family tree doesn't just address your need to know where you came from, it can also be a tool for addressing issues in the current generation and those to come in years.  Many medical issues have genetic origins, some of which may not show up every generation.  In my family, there were numerous people displaying same symptomatology with few answers for quite some time.  I was initially diagnosed with a thyroid disease after years of going from doctor to doctor. Once I was diagnosed, it was only logical for other members who had similar symptoms to ask for thyroid tests which then led to their diagnosis of thyroid disease.  Going forward in generations to come, my family members will have documentation of this prevalent disease in our family.  It will save a lot of time, money and frustration, should any member begin to display the symptoms.

Another example is quite interesting in our family line, namely extra digits; meaning extra toes or fingers.  The medical term is called hexadactyly.  A cousin of mine wanted to find out if other family members had the same trait but was not quite sure initially, as to which line would be the source.  Being a genealogist, he was able to track down fellow family researchers who also knew of family members with extra digits, some known by family stories that were told from one generation to another.  He then took it a step further and had his DNA tested so that going forward, anyone who wanted an answer regarding their trait could have their DNA tested and would know if they were of the same family lineage. 

Through research it was amazing to find the number of stories that traced back to a particular family line.  These stories were the main resource to guide the research for answers.

Finally, if you are aware of a history of a particular medical problem, you then have the ability to educate yourself on any preventative measures, whenever and however possible.


Saturday, October 22, 2011


Question number 5.) of the Interview Question Form " ARE THERE ANY FAMILY STORIES OF INTEREST TO SHARE?"

You may wonder how this fits into developing your family tree.  Many people think of genealogy as finding the vital records of someone and then they are done with that person.  However, those birth, marriage, death dates, etc. are just the beginning!  There is a person behind those records who lived and breathed and walked this earth like you and I.  It is so fascinating to learn something new about an ancestor and as I continue to say, flesh them out as a person.  Naturally, photos are priceless!  But what if you have no photos, no painting, sketch or any representation of what your ancestor looked like?  Even if you do have a photo, what was their personality like?  That's where family stories can be priceless.

Let me give you an example of a story about one of my husband's ancestors.  His first name was Ara and he was an uncle to my mother-in-law.  She knew very little about him.  In fact, everyone I have ever talked to,  knew little about him.  That is even if they had heard of him.  What my mother-in-law did know is that Ara disappeared one day and was hardly heard from again, and never seen again.  She showed me a photo of him as a very young boy, but that was all I had to go on, until I interviewed her about him one evening.  As I kept asking questions, even though she didn't remember him, other little stories about him started coming back to her.  These were stories she had heard about from her grandfather and mother.  He came across from those stories as being adventurous, and maybe not one to take on a lot of responsibility very easily.   Then she remembered her grandfather talking about getting a letter from him.  I asked if she knew where it was from and she lit up and said, "Yes! California!"  But that was all she remembered of the location. 

With that little bit of info and knowing there was longevity in that line, I took a chance one day and did a search on the net in the late 1990's.  I decided to see what parts of California were a draw to adventurous types back in the late 1930's and early to mid 1940's.  I had a feeling this man would go for a get rich quick kind of lifestyle.  I found Butte County, California was a big draw at the time.  Then I did a search and sure enough, I found he had died in the mid-1970's and his last residence was Paradise, Butte Co, California!  I learned he had been married, but divorced his first wife.   Divorce would not have been accepted well in his family.  I felt at that time that was his reason for disappearing so many years ago and not letting anyone know where he was for so long.  His father was the patriarch of the family, so it made sense. 

I sent for his social security information which would have a lot of important data and found his work history from New York City to California.  I contacted the company he had worked for in both states, selling radio tubes from door to door.  Although they did not have any records to share, they were able to confirm what he would have been selling at that time.

A few years later, I found a fellow genealogist who did a lookup for me and sure enough, not only found the obituary for me, but sent me a photo of the gate to the cemetery and the obit for Ara's second wife that he married later in life!  I was able to share that with my mother-in-law and she felt at peace knowing the answer to the puzzle in the family for nearly 70 years!  After her passing, I found a lot of letters he had sent to his various relatives prior to leaving the area suddenly, and a few to his father about seven years after leaving the area.  One of those letters described his reasons for leaving, and indicated that, in fact, it was the shame he felt for not wanting to be married any longer to such a sweet woman as his first wife. 

So from a little bit of information, and a few stories about an individual, I was able to flesh out the story of Ara and the mystery behind his disappearance.  I also found photos, when I found the letters, of a very handsome young man who was full of life, but it appears stiffled in a little town.  I also found letters that indicated his father, my mother-in-law's grandfather, had never stopped looking for him during the years when he had no idea where his son had gone.  In the end, he never saw his son again, and passed on with having received very little further communication.  A bittersweet story.

Without my asking questions to spark memories, the mystery would remain today.  I hope this example shows you the significance of asking about family stories.

In my next posting, I will move on to Question number 6 of Interview Question Form.  That question covers health issues within the family. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Final discussion of Question number 4-f.) of the Interview Question Form " Do you know of any organizations that our family has been affiliated with, such as the D.A.R. [Daughters of the American Revolution], Mayflower Society, Any Fraternal Organization, such as the Masons? Freemason? [These will end up giving you another avenue of research if there are any]"

The purpose of researching your family history to see if there are organizations that an ancestor was a member of is simply to add more information to your database, fleshing out the character traits and things of interest to your ancestors.  In the process, you may be lucky enough to obtain some information within the records of the organization that you did not already have in your database.  Most organizations keep minutes of their meetings and those minutes might have information within them, especially if you have a ballpark of dates to narrow down the time frame you want to search.    You may find entries in record books that give a person's birth and/or death dates, or whether they served in the military.  Some even offer benefits to survivors of deceased members, so you would find information relating to that member's death.  The other purpose is it could very possibly give you a lead as to other places to research. 

For example, if you are of Polish descent, as I am, you might want to research THE POLISH NATIONAL ALLIANCE, which is one of the oldest and largest Polish fraternal organizations in the United States, or the THE POLISH FALCONS OF AMERICA .  These are just examples of where your research can take you if you are not easily finding the information you are seeking on an ancestor.

Below you will find a list I put together of some websites that will have a long listing of organizations and fraternal organizations that exist.  I will add to these links as I find more information I feel will be of use to the readers.

 If you have any questions on any type of organization you may be researching, please feel free to comment or contact me!

My next post I will be addressing question number 5 of the Interview Question Form.  I invite comments or thoughts at any time! 


In recent years, seedy characters have taken to stealing GAR markers from graves for selling on the internet, etc.  LET ME MAKE IT PERFECTLY CLEAR.  I am on the board of our family cemetery, and if anyone steals ANYTHING off a grave site, it is considered THEFT and PUNISHABLE BY LAW.  PERIOD. 

There are many states that have laws on the books specific to removal of items from grave sites and those laws are punishable by imprisonment for a specific number of years as well as large fines.  But, even if there isn't a law on the book, taking anything from a grave is considered THEFT.  Floral arrangements, etc. will eventually be properly removed by cemetery associations, but those are rules that people who buy lots are very aware of in cemetery by-laws.  In fact, for graves that no longer are visual, due to degradation of tombstones, etc over time, the markers within the cemetery that still stand, remain in the cemetery.  It is the veteran's RIGHT and the HONORABLE thing to do.  It belongs to no one else.

If you find a marker that is being sold or you simply find one, and it doesn't matter which war it is from, contact your local veteran's administration office, American Legion  or VFW organization for direction as to whom to contact. 

REMEMBER, these veterans put their lives on the line or lost their lives so that you and I can live under the very freedom they fought for.  They have earned the right to rest peacefully with EVERY HONOR THEY HAVE EARNED.



The GAR ( Grand Army of the Republic) was a fraternal organization founded in 1866 in Decatur, Illinois and ceased in 1956 after the death of its last member. It was made up of veterans from the Union Army, Navy, Marines and the US Revenue Cutter Service, all of whom served in the Civil War.  Once the GAR ceased to function, it was succeeded by the male descendants of Union Veterans who formed the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW). 

The purpose of the GAR was to connect Civil War veterans and for networking purposes regarding advocacy in politics.  The motto of its founding is "Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty."  It was founded April 6, 1866 by Benjamin F. Stephenson.  Early on it advocated for the voting rights of black veterans, and in the 1880's it advocated federal pensions for veterans.  Other goals were in establishing soldiers' homes and caring and educating war orphans.  It consisted of state departments and within individual communities, posts, which were present in every state and a few overseas posts.   The members wore military-style uniforms.  It was the GAR that established Decoration Day as May 30th, which we now know as Memorial Day.  To this day, we celebrate in the same fashion by decorating veteran's graves with flags.  In the late 1800's, its membership was over 400,000 members.  However, by 1940, there were only approximately 1000 members left in the entire U.S.

Just a side note, I was born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne Co, PA.  I graduated from Elmer L. Meyers High School and one of our rival schools was G.A.R. Memorial Junior Senior High School.  G.A.R. for the Grand Army of the Republic.

Anyone who visits cemeteries will see GAR markers in older sections.  These markers were placed at the grave sites of Union soldier veterans from the Civil War upon their death.  The Union soldier represented the Federal Government.  They are in the shape of a star, made from iron, brass, later ones of aluminum, and have the inscription "GAR 1861 1885."  The aluminum replaced older ones that were lost or disappeared over the years.  Some of the markers also named the post.  The post quartermaster kept record of the members' graves that were marked. 

The records you can obtain that were kept by the GAR organization are death rolls which date from as early as the 1880s and continue to the 1940s.  They were published in the resource, PROCEEDINGS OF THE ANNUAL ENCAMPMENTS of the departments of the Grand Army of the Republic.  You will have to search by state and community to see where and if you can access these records.

Unfortunately, there was never a central location for GAR member records.  However, you can inquire at the local historical society for the community you are interested in, the local library, veteran posts, state archives or the GAR Museum and Library located in Philadelphia.  They have limited records, but you can look at the list of what they have on their website.
The physical address is:
 Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library
4278 Griscom Street
Philadelphia, PA  19124-3954
phone:  (215)  289-6484

Here is a small list of links to start your search on the GAR death rolls.  A great suggestion that I read was if you cannot afford to purchase the resource book that has death rolls listed, then ask your local library to do so, it will be a great reference book for them to carry!  You could make a small donation for that purpose.,%20A-Ab.htm

You can also search the Family History Library at where they have some records for Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah.  Use the keyword "Grand Army of the Republic" to search their catalog.*,0,0*,0,0

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War  website  can give you an incredible amount of research links that save you a lot of time!  It is a wonderful resource! 

There are more records that might be available aside from the death rolls, but it will be dependent on what was saved and where you can access the member records.  Unfortunately, GAR documents were considered personal property and when the last member of a post died, they were often destroyed.  If you find more links or locations of death rolls, please feel free to contact me and I will gladly list them in this section for my readers! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Continuing with Question number 4-f.) of the Interview Question Form " Do you know of any organizations that our family has been affiliated with, such as the D.A.R. [Daughters of the American Revolution], Mayflower Society, Any Fraternal Organization, such as the Masons? Freemason? [These will end up giving you another avenue of research if there are any]" 

Freemasonry is the most ancient of all fraternities in the world.  Freemasonry as we know it today has been in existence since 1717.  Defined as a fraternity, it is therefore only open to the male population. It is believed that this tradition finds its roots in the historical male membership of stonemasons guilds during the Middle Ages.  Men would travel very far from their homes to acquire masonry work and while doing so would live in lodges during the construction of great cathedrals throughout Europe.  No one knows for sure, but the language and symbols used in the rituals of the fraternity come from this era.  Masons are referred to in the Regius Poem printed in 1390.  Four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England and that is where records of this fraternity become more available.

Freemasonry was popular in Colonial America and included; George Washington, Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, John Hancock, so on and so forth.  It supported the first public schools in both Europe and America, the formation of democratic governments, orphanages, homes for widows and the aged.  Today it is a fraternity that encourages self-improvement, social involvement and philanthropy. 

Almost every lodge is chartered by a Grand Lodge, one in each state. Although open to all men, their membership is mainly Caucasian.   In the U.S. and elsewhere, there are also 45 "Prince Hall" Grand Lodges whose memberships mainly consist of African American men.  Each of these Grand Lodges also charters individual lodges.  You can find a list of all Grand Lodges in the world at wonderful website authored by Paul M. Bessel 

Women would eventually be included as an extension of the founding fraternity during the 1800s, so they could share in the Masonic fraternalism.  The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest of the Masonic-related groups.  It was first conceptualized in 1850, and was followed by the Order of the Amaranth was officially organized in 1873 and the White Shrine of Jerusalem was organized in 1894.  Eventually there would develop women only organizations; Ladies Oriental Shrine of North America, Daughters of the Nile, Daugthers of Mokanna and the Social Order of Beauceant

In the 1920s Masonic-related youth organizations for young women were formed; 1920 the International Order of Job's Daughters, and in 1922 the International Order of Rainbow for Girls.  These organizations promote local charities, community services and educational programs. 

 If a male ancestor was a member in your family, it was because he petitioned to join.  There is no solicitation for membership.  Potential members agree to have their morals and character investigated at the time of petition for membership.  They must be living a life that reflects the high standards of the this fraternal organization. 

If you are looking for information on a Mason, you must go to his Grand Lodge or Lodge.  There isn't a main location to access all information on Masons.  There never has been.  You can access Masonic genealogy by one of two avenues.

1.)  The Grand Lodge annually published 'PROCEEDINGS.'  This is equivalent to minutes, so to speak of the activities that occured during the year and may include the names of officials who held office or members.  Some Grand Lodges publish histories and you may find information in those publications.  Both these types of publications are available in Masonic Libraries.  You can find a list of Masonic Libraries at

2.)  You can contact the Grand Lodge in the state of interest for your ancestor.  They may or may not be able to help you.  You can also find a list of notable freemasons at

There is no guarantee that you will find information on your ancestor, but it is another avenue to pursue. 

The Mayflower Society

Continuing with Question number 4-f.) of the Interview Question Form " Do you know of any organizations that our family has been affiliated with, such as the D.A.R. [Daughters of the American Revolution], Mayflower Society, Any Fraternal Organization, such as the Masons? Freemason? [These will end up giving you another avenue of research if there are any]"

I will now continue my discussion with The Mayflower Society.

The Mayflower Society --

Did you know that there are more than 10 million descendants in the world from 51 of the Pilgrims who journeyed on the Mayflower, landing on these shores in 1620? It's an amazing number that is hard to conceptualize. In the history of mankind, 400 years ago is a drop in the bucket!

The Mayflower Society (also called The General Society of Mayflower Descendents) was founded in 1897 with the purpose of descendants honoring the memory of their Pilgrim ancestors. Anyone who can present documentation of being a descendent from one of the 102 passengers who arrived in 1620 on the Mayflower can apply. Your lineage has to be approved by a Historian General and then you may become a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. The port of arrival for the Mayflower is now called Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The Mayflower Society educates the public on the role of the Pilgrims in the history of what we now call the United States of America. You can find chapters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. To view the contact information for all 50 states on the Mayflower website, click here.

This is an exact quote from the Mayflower Society website:

"Any person able to document their descent from one or more of the following Mayflower Pilgrims is eligible to apply for membership in the Mayflower Society: • John Alden • Bartholomew Allerton • Isaac Allerton • Mary (Norris) Allerton • Mary Allerton • Remember Allerton • Elinor Billington • Francis Billington • John Billington • William Bradford • Love Brewster • Mary Brewster • William Brewster • Peter Browne • James Chilton • Mrs. James Chilton • Mary Chilton • Francis Cooke • John Cooke • Edward Doty • Francis Eaton • Samuel Eaton • Sarah Eaton • Moses Fletcher • Edward Fuller • Mrs. Edward Fuller • Samuel Fuller • Samuel Fuller (son of Edward) • Constance Hopkins • Elizabeth (Fisher) Hopkins • Giles Hopkins • Stephen Hopkins • John Howland • Richard More • Priscilla Mullins • William Mullins • Degory Priest • Joseph Rogers • Thomas Rogers • Henry Samson • George Soule • Myles Standish • Elizabeth Tilley • John Tilley • Joan (Hurst) Tilley • Richard Warren • Peregrine White • Resolved White • Susanna White • William White • Edward Winslow"

My Mayflower ancestors are William and Susanna White and their son Resolved White who was 5 years old when the ship embarked for the new world. It is a fascinating journey to research your ancestral history on such a landmark voyage. In fact, Susanna was seven months pregnant when she set foot on the Mayflower and would give birth to the first child born in the new world. They named the child Peregrine (Latin origin, pronounced PARE-a-green)which means "traveler or wanderer." His cradle is owned by and still exists in the Pilgrim Hall Museum (America's Museum of Pilgrim Possessions). The museum is located at 75 Court Street, Plymouth, MA. At the museum, you will also find what tradition indicates is the writing desk belonging to William White which he brought over on the Mayflower.

If you want to apply for membership, know that you will need vital records --birth/marriage/death certificates for each person in your direct lineage. You can also use published genealogies, family documents and valid approved records. If there is a relative that is already a member of the Mayflower Society, you are able to use their lineage documentation to help you verify your lineage.

You have to go through your individual state society for membership. They each have their own governor, officers and historian who will be able to help you with your application. All you have to do is contact your state society for inquiries.

Why is it important to find out if someone in your lineage already belongs to The Mayflower Society? It will save you tons of time doing research and make your application much easier! There are approved publications published by The General Society of Mayflower Descendents. The Mayflower Families Through Five Generations Series, the comprehensive and invaluable "silver books", tracing through 5 generations of descendants of individual Mayflower passengers. There are also books with less complete lineage lines, known as "pink books," that are available for "families in progress."

You can access more information on these publications by visiting The Pilgrim Hall Museum website.

There is another advantage.  The General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) Scholarship has established one $5000 annual scholarship to assist deserving children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of GSMD members in acquiring a higher education, with a view to their becoming better prepared for life and citizenship. Only one member per family may apply.  Your state society can answer your questions on this subject.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Another Chapter in Life

I wanted to explain the reason for my absence so long and apologize for any inconvenience. My mother-in-law approached her 80th year with the hopes of 'enjoying retirement!' But life isn't always so kind, and the best laid plans....well you know how it goes. Making a long story short, she became ill and required 24 hour care. My husband and I did our best to bring her health around, but it wasn't meant to be. It was a difficult time as walking someone through their final days brings a lot of challenges. And although there are tough times, there are special moments too. It's a bittersweet experience.

Grace Ellen Kuehner Kozic joined her ancestors March 15, 2011. It's taken this long to get ourselves back on track, and truth be told, will take a lot longer yet to feel 'normal.' Like my father, Grace enjoyed and honored her ancestry. We had many long, enjoyable conversations about the 'good ole days,' during her decline. She had wonderful tales of days on the farm, picking apples, strawberries, milking cows, watching the birth of baby animals. Her grandfather, Ira M. Schaffer, had the general store in Kunkletown, Monroe Co, PA. She minded the store for him as a young girl and the memories of those days carried her throughout her life. She often referred to the lessons she learned in that store and how she applied them to her daily living.

To hear the stories from that generation, life seemed far less complicated, yet it had its difficulties also. The Peter Schaffer (Schaeffer) family helped in establishing Kunkletown, PA. Grace was very proud of that fact and held her ancestors in the highest esteem. Since she has passed on, I have been able to take time looking at her family photos, some of which are tintype.

By writing down some of the stories Grace shared with me and looking at the photographs I have since discovered since her passing, I have a much better idea of what life was like generations before my mother-in-law was born. I can also put faces to some of the names and have a good idea as to who some of the nameless are now.

If she had not loved her history and saved the photos, books and so much more, so much history would have been lost. I am grateful and proud of her respect for the past.

I will always think fondly of the times we shared reminiscing, laughing and sometimes shedding a tear over fond memories. For the times when I miss her, I only have to walk out into the garden she lovingly tended to for sixty years and once again, we are laughing together.