Monthly Archives: September 2014

Trying to ‘find a grave’ for John Romeyn Brodhead (1849 – ?)

John Romeyn Brodhead

John Romeyn Brodhead (photo from my family’s private archives)

One of the great things about Find a Grave (sadly now owned by that behemoth Ancestry dot com) is that it allows you to link parents to children across generations. With the contributions of countless kindhearted individuals, many ‘trees’ are taking shape. Of course, mistakes happen, and I have seen a few, but overall, these connections offer tremendous value, apart from the fact that it’s just plain nice to see family members linked together.

In my family tree, the Andrew Jackson Brodhead and Ophelia Easton family members are now almost all linked together—quite wonderful considering there were 10 children. Only John Romeyn Brodhead (not to be confused with the famous historian of the state of New York) is missing. I’ve tried to find his burial place over the past few years, but without success. The last trace of him appears to be in Santa Monica, CA, according to the 1930 census. I know he died before 19 March 1936 as he is not listed among the surviving family members in his sister Charlotte Easton Brodhead Burk‘s obituary.

So where is he? If you know, please get in touch. It would be nice to get him (and his wife Mary Martha Holbert and sons Henry & Arthur) linked with the rest of the family on Find a Grave!

Link to Andrew Jackson Brodhead memorial on Find a Grave

P.S. I did find a small clipping in a San Diego newspaper dated Wednesday, October 24, 1934, that described one ‘Arthur J. Brodhead’ speeding to the aid of his dying father in Pasadena who was in desperate need of a blood transfusion. The father’s name is not given. John Romeyn Brodhead’s son was ‘Arthur S. Brodhead’. If the ‘J.’ is a typo, then perhaps this is a clue.

 

Categories: Brodhead | 4 Comments

Mary Rebecca Brodhead Pike (1815-1922) — New Hampshire DAR member — achieved age 106

DAR Magazine Vol52, pub. 1918 This striking black and white image of Mary Brodhead Pike comes from Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, Volume 52 (Jan. 1918),  p. 678.

Mary, daughter of Reverend John Brodhead and Mary Dodge, died on May 17, 1922, at the age of 106, and was buried in Locust Grove Cemetery, Newfields, Rockingham Co., New Hampshire.

The photo was ...taken the day after her 101st birthday, and is a very good likeness, but it does not express the charm of this intellectual gentlewoman. For 101, she looks remarkable!

The article mentions a DAR meeting taking place at Mary’s house in July of Mary’s 103rd year. What an honor it would have been to be a guest in her home.

Volume 55, published several years later (December 1921), gives us an update on the amazing Mary Pike. The Granite Chapter reported:

Our July meeting was held at the home of our oldest member, Mrs. Mary R. Pike, widow of Rev. James Pike, of Newfields. […]

Mrs. Pike at the age of 106 years is active in mind, keen and witty in conversation and gracious in manner. A few years ago this Magazine published a likeness of Mrs. Pike which holds good. She seems not to have changed mentally or physically except that a recent fall has confined her to her room.

Her health is good, she is cheerful and strong in her faith in God, and in her love for humanity. Granite Chapter would like to know if any other Chapter can claim so old a Daughter.

I, for one, would have loved to have been among those who got to sit down with Mary in her later years to hear her discuss her life experiences. As a member of the DAR, she would have been someone extremely interested in family history and the history of our great country.

As is often the case, this is an image I came across while searching for information about someone else. I was intrigued, and wanted to learn more about her. As it turns out, much has been written about Mary’s Brodhead family line, and I won’t go into too much detail here; I’ll just try to give you a sense of where she is located in the overall family tree:

Mary was a granddaughter of Revolutionary War Captain Luke Brodhead (1741-1806), youngest brother of my fifth great grandfather, Lt. Garret Brodhead (1733-1804). (Luke and Garret were sons of Dansbury (East Stroudsburg) founders Daniel Brodhead and wife Hester Wyngart.)

Luke* was wholeheartedly devoted to the cause of independence and was a devoted friend to General Lafayette. Wounds received in battle and in prison eventually forced him to retire from active duty after spending the winter in Valley Forge.

Luke’s June 28, 1806, obituary in the Northampton Farmer & Easton Weekly Advertiser described him as being: …an active patriot in the 1st Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment which marched on Boston in 1775, in opposition to tyranny. He was wounded, and made prisoner on Long Island, where he experienced savage cruelty in a British prison ship [Jersey], and afterwards [he was exchanged on December 8, 1776] served his country with reputation… […] Justice and gratitude had induced his country to dignify him with an annuity for life, and his amiable simplicity of manners endeared him to his friends. He was a tender parent, and an affectionate husband, and an immatable friend...

Luke’s son Rev. John Brodhead**, an ordained Methodist minister, and Mary Dodge, were Mary Rebecca Brodhead Pike’s parents. In 1809, the parents ultimately settled in Newfields, New Hampshire, and that is where Mary was born.

Rev. John Brodhead served in the NH State Senate from 1817-1827, and was a member of Congress from 1829-1833. John and Mary Dodge Brodhead had twelve children: Daniel Dodge Brodhead, John Montgomery Brodhead, Elizabeth Harrison Brodhead, Ann Mudge Brodhead, Joseph Crawford Brodhead, Mehitabel Smith Brodhead, George Hamilton Brodhead, Mary Rebecca Brodhead, Olive Brodhead, Brevet Brigadier General Thornton Fleming Brodhead, Col. Josiah Adams Brodhead, and Almena Cutter Brodhead.

The Reverend was not the only parent who led a remarkable life. His wife Mary Dodge Brodhead’s September 5, 1875’s obituary in the New York Times stated that she conversed and shook hands with every President of the United States, from George Washington on down. With the martyr President Lincoln, she was on terms of great familiarity.

Brevet Brigadier General Thornton Fleming Brodhead, (1820-1862); Wikipedia (Public Domain--contributed by IcarusPhoenix)

Mary’s brother, Brevet Brigadier General Thornton Fleming Brodhead, (1820-1862); Credit: Wikipedia (Public Domain–contributed by IcarusPhoenix)

Of their children, Brig. Gen. Thornton Fleming Brodhead is particularly well known, for his service in the Civil War. He was mortally wounded at Bull Run after heroically leading his men into battle. George Hamilton Brodhead was once president of the NYSE. John Montgomery Brodhead served as second controller of the US Treasury, Joseph Crawford Brodhead was a Deputy Naval Officer, and Josiah Adams Brodhead was Paymaster in the US Army.

Mary Rebecca Brodhead (subject of this post) married Rev. James Pike***, who similarly to Mary’s father started out as a Methodist clergyman but later entered politics. James also served in the Civil War as a Colonel in New Hampshire’s 16th Infantry.

Mary and James had three children: James Thornton Pike (1841-1911), Anna Gertrude Pike Kendall (1844-1926), and Mary Brodhead Pike (1855-1855).

In closing, I’ll just say that there is a wealth of information available about this family line both online and in the Brodhead Family History volumes; I can’t really do justice to it here, and since it’s not my direct line, I don’t know how soon I will likely be returning to it. For anyone interested, the Brodhead Family History volumes may be available at your local library, particularly if you live in the Northeast, or through interlibrary loan. You can also purchase individual volumes from The DePuy / Brodhead Family Association (find them on Facebook).

Have a great day, all! As, always, comments, corrections, and additions welcome.

**************************************************************************************************************

*Source for Luke Brodhead & family: Vol. I of The Brodhead Family, published by the Brodhead Family Assn, 1986, pp. 80-84

**Source for Rev. John Brodhead & family: Vol. II of The Brodhead Family, published by the Brodhead Family Assn, 1986, pp. 143-153.

***Source for Rev. James Pike & family: Vol. IV of The Brodhead Family, published by the Brodhead Family Assn, 1986, pp. 311.

Categories: Brodhead, Civil War, Gen. Lafayette, Lincoln, President Abraham, New Hampshire, Obituaries, Pennsylvania, Revolutionary War | 8 Comments

Dr. Charles B. Jaques, assistant surgeon during the Civil War for 7th Regiment New Jersey (Post III)

Scan of the cover of my personal copy of the book

Scan of the cover of my personal copy of the book

In my first post on Charles B. Jaques, I wrote in paragraph #12 that the 1863 publication Report of Major-General John Pope. Letter from the secretary of war, in answer to resolution of the House of 18th ultimo, transmitting copy of report of Major General John Pope described Charles as being ‘missing’, last seen on the battlefield near Centreville, Virginia, tending to the wounded on August 29, 1862.

Well, I have since learned why Charles was described as missing thanks to the marvelous book Give It to Them, Jersey Blues! by John Hayward (Hightstown, NJ, Longstreet House, 1998, 355 pages—available on Amazon).

Page 69: “Assistant Surgeon Charles Jaques also returned after being captured at Bull Run. During the battle, Jaques had positioned himself just behind the firing line. When the Regiment withdrew, he elected to stay with the wounded who could not be brought back. … Lieutenant Colonel Francine thought that Jaques was wrong in staying behind, so he arrested the doctor upon his return. Francine felt that the doctor should have helped tend to the seventeen wounded men that had been brought from the field. No charges were ever brought against Jaques and he was released  after only a few days.”

Imagine positioning yourself just behind a firing line…I can’t imagine the courage that took.

Charles in mentioned fleetingly several more times in the book (pp. 91, 93, 151), and his photo appears on p. 209. (I have written to the publishers to request permission to include the image in this blog, but have not gotten a response yet.)

In one case (pp. 91, 93), Charles and Lt. Col. Price observe that Francine appears “so dry and parched that he could barely speak above a whisper.” On Charles’ advice, Francine turned the Regiment over to Price and moved to the rear.  In another (p. 151), when the number of sick men in the regiment was rising alarmingly, Charles is noted as expressing great concern about the lack of fresh water and fruits and vegetables for the men.

The book is a marvelous tribute to the men of NJ’s Seventh Regiment. It contains a wealth of information and a large photo gallery. If you have an ancestor who served in this regiment, you just may find their image here.

Categories: Civil War, Jaques, New Jersey | Leave a comment

Some ‘common sense’ beauty tips from 1910

Los Angeles Herald, 25 December 1910

CLICK to ENLARGE – Los Angeles Herald, 25 December 1910

I got a kick out of these 1910 Los Angeles Herald images showing an early 20th-century American woman really putting her long tresses through their paces.

Holy cow—there’s a lot of fussin’ goin’ on there! But long hair was the style back then, and I suppose caring for all that hair did require quite a lot of effort…

When I looked more closely at this photo assortment, something really struck me. Check out the third photo from the left, up top under the headline… What do you see? A blow dryer! Wow!—and I thought handheld blow dryers got their start in the 60s/70s.

A visit to Wikipedia informed me that the first hair dyer was invented in the late 19th century by a Frenchman named Alexander Godefroy. It was a sit-under version, the type you see at hair salons. Prior to that, apparently many women used vacuum cleaners (!) to dry their hair.

The year 1911 witnessed the first U.S. handheld blow dryer being patented; it was the invention of an Armenian-American named Gabriel Kazanjian. (Go Gabriel!). The first models for consumers, however, did not come out until 1915 (…which makes it hard to explain why this Christmas Day 1910 newspaper is carrying this image! Thoughts anyone?).

woodruff_sisters

Did Grandma and her sisters fight over who got to use the hair dryer first?

As you can imagine, the initial models were heavy (approx. 2 lbs.–real bicep-builders) and cumbersome, and not anywhere near as powerful as the blow dryers of today. It would have taken quite a while to dry tresses as long and thick as these. And the early dryers could be dangerous, overheating or (worst-case scenario) causing electrocution. Thankfully, they have come a long way since then. So next time you power up your blow dryer, which will likely be today or tomorrow (am I right?), say a little ‘thank you’ to Alexander and Gabriel!

To read the accompanying article, which contains all sorts of advice on hair care and growing old gracefully:

Click the newspaper image once and then use Ctrl + to enlarge to your preferred size; or, for a very enlarged view, click the image twice, and use the sliding bars to move to different sections of the page:

Los Angeles Herald, 25 December 1910

Los Angeles Herald, 25 December 1910

Credit: California Digital Newspaper Collection – “A Freely Accessible Repository of Digitized California Newspapers from 1846 to the Present” – California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside; All newspapers published before January 1, 1923 are in the public domain and therefore have no restrictions on use.

Categories: 1910s, Fashion & Beauty, Miscellaneous | 6 Comments

Sarah Nixon Boles (1855-1938) of Drumkeeran, Co. Leitrim, Ireland

In Memoriam - September 1838

CLICK to ENLARGE – In Memoriam – September 1938 – The Irish Christian Advocate

Sarah Nixon Boles, undated

Sarah Nixon Boles, undated photo

I recently found in a box of old papers an ‘In Memoriam’ article about my great-grandmother Sarah Boles Nixon that appeared in September 1938 in the Irish Christian Advocate newspaper, an Irish Methodist publication in existence from 1883-1971. The clipping (right) is a wonderful testament to Sarah’s character and faith in God. She passed her faith on to her children, as many who knew them personally would attest. They were wonderfully kind and caring people.

(Note: Some of the below info has appeared in past posts.)

Sarah was born in County Leitrim, Ireland, on 26 May 1855 to William Nixon and Rachel Millar (perhaps, ‘Miller’). This is the Nixon family of Fermanagh*—about which much has been written (e.g., The Families of French of Belturbet and Nixon of Fermanagh, and Their Descendants by Henry B. Swanzy, published in 1908), however, I have yet to figure out Sarah’s exact location in this Nixon family tree.

Supposedly Sarah was one of 14 children. I’ve come across birth dates for 11 of the 14, and so far, age-wise, Sarah appears to have fallen somewhere in the middle of the pack.

According to our family records, on 26 July 1888, at the age of 33, Sarah married Edward Boles, a farmer—also 33, at the Drumkeeran Methodist Church, Drumkeeran, Co. Leitrim.  Edward was the oldest of the eight children of James Boles of Fingreagh Upper, Co. Leitrim, and wife Jane Payne. (See the Rootsweb page Boles of Leitrim for a partial family tree.)

County Leitrim

County Leitrim (User Morwen on en.wikipedia; This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

Edward and Sarah lived in Clooneen, which is a rural area located about a half mile to the northeast of the small village of Drumkeeran. Between 1889 and 1896, Sarah gave birth to six children: Jane (“Jennie”) Kathleen, John James, William Robert, Edward (“Ben”) Benjamin, Beulah Sarah, and Mary (“May”) Elizabeth. Beulah (Ben’s twin) died in 1900 at age 6; May died of TB in her early 30s. John died in December 1935 in a car accident (a “huge blow” to the family, according to my mother).  He was in his early forties.

As I’ve mentioned before, my grandfather William emigrated to the US in 1912. He was sponsored by Sarah’s brother Robert, a silk salesman, who had emigrated in 1879 and was living in Summit, NJ. That left  just Jennie and Ben in Ireland. Both outlived their parents—in fact, Jennie lived to the age of 92.

On a visit to Ireland in July 1935, my mother got to meet Edward and Sarah for the first and only time. She was twelve and remembers walking with Edward through the fields around the Follistown house counting sheep and chatting with him, but having a hard time understanding him through his Irish accent. He was very tall and seemed a giant to her. Sarah she remembers as being super petite and ‘absolutely ancient-looking’ from a 12-year-old’s perspective. She also found Sarah hard to understand through her accent. (Sarah sent my mom a gold coin every Christmas; of course, my mom’s mother took them immediately for ‘safekeeping’ and then when WWII hit, they all disappeared to contribute to the war effort. Mom understood but was pretty unhappy about that!)

But, back to Edward & Sarah—eventually (early 1930s?), the family purchased land in Follistown, Navan, Co. Meath (about an hour’s drive to the northwest from Dublin); a house was built and sons John and Ben took charge of farming the land. The farm was left to Ben to run after John died.

Follistown House, July 1963

Follistown House

Edward and Sarah spent their final years at the house in Follistown. Sarah died in September 1938 and Edward in October 1940.

They and son John were laid to rest in Kentstown Cemetery, Co. Meath. To go to the grave site photo, click here.

Now, on a side note, something I find very interesting is that Sarah’s parents and most, if not all of her siblings, emigrated to the United States, but Sarah chose to remain behind.

According to information I received earlier this year from a descendant of Sarah’s brother, Benjamin Nixon, the parents moved to NYC in 1869, when Sarah would have been about 14. I presume she would have stayed behind with relatives, but I have no idea with whom that could have been. I’ll have to try to find her in whatever records survived or weren’t affected by the Four Courts fire of 1922.

In recent months, I’ve learned a bit more about the Nixon family in the US, so more about them in a future post. As always, comments, additions, and corrections are welcome.

(*Fermanagh is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland.)

CLICK to ENLARGE the below images:

Sarah and her husband and four of her children, Clooneen, Co. Leitrim

Sarah and her husband and four of her children, perhaps, ca. 1912, when my grandfather departed for the US

Edward and Sarah (Nixon) Boles

Edward and Sarah (Nixon) Boles outside the house in Follistown

Boles_William_WWI copy

Son William R. Boles, born 1892, served in the US army in WWI, though he was not yet an American citizen

Left to right: John Boles, my mother, William Boles (Taken in July 1935)

Left to right: John Boles, my mother, and William Boles (Taken in July 1935; five months later John — who never married — was killed in a car accident.)

Categories: Boles, Drumkeeran, Co. Leitrim, Follistown Navan Co. Meath, Ireland, Kentstown Churchyard Co. Meath Eire, Nixon, Obituaries | 4 Comments

In memory of WWII US Army Captain Henry “Hank” D. Wirsig

George Keller, Henry Wirsig, and Charles Brodhead

George Keller, Henry Wirsig, and Charles Brodhead

(Update 7/24/19: I recently learned that Henry had been a boarder at my grandparents’ house during the Great Depression.)

This photo on the right supposedly stood on my grandmother’s dresser many years ago, and I’d seen it off and on through the years, when leafing through a family album, always wondering who the gentleman in the middle was. Well, a week ago, I was going through an old bundle of letters, containing correspondence between my grandmother and grandfather, Fannie and Frank Brodhead, and a US Army Captain named Henry Wirsig. As I leafed through the letters, out fell a smaller version of this photo, and I immediately understood that this fellow in the middle was Henry.

The letters and postcards from Henry were sweet and thoughtful, almost always ending in “Love, Henry” or “Love to All, Henry”, and the one letter I found from my grandparents to him was signed “Love, Ma and Pa Brodhead”.

I later learned that Henry was born in 1914, so he was two years younger than my Dad’s brother Woody and seven years younger than my Dad (Charles). My Dad enlisted in spring 1942, and I believe this photo must have been taken around July 1942 as that was his last time home until November 1944.

Henry’s letters always inquired about Woody, my Dad, and ‘grandma’ (a reference to my grandfather’s mother Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead, by then in her eighties), so Henry must have been a very close family friend. Where did they meet? Well, through subsequent research, I think it may have been through the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth (NJ), as Henry and my Dad’s family were all members there.

'Ma and Pa Brodhead'

‘Ma and Pa Brodhead’

As I read along, the letters all saved in chronological order, I was shocked to come upon a March 1945 letter from Henry’s mother to my grandmother, revealing gut-wrenching news—confirmation that Henry had been killed in action on December 17, 1944, at the onset of the Battle of the Bulge, a major German offensive campaign that began on 16 December 1944 and lasted until 25 January 1945, and resulted in a staggering 89,500 American casualties. Suddenly this photo took on extremely deep and personal meaning. I can’t begin to imagine how this crushing news must have devastated everyone who knew and loved Henry.

The website Battle of the Bulge Memories contains the recollections of a veteran who participated in that day’s events, and he describes the events leading up to Henry’s death. To read this riveting account, which is tough to read at times, click here.

Elizabeth Daily Journal, Saturday Evening, March 17, 1945

Elizabeth Daily Journal, Saturday Evening, March 17, 1945

The Elizabeth Daily Journal published an obituary notice on March 17, 1945; it provided me with more details on Henry’s background. To paraphrase the obituary notice:

Captain Henry D. Wirsig, of Union, NJ (formerly of Elizabeth, NJ) died in Bastogne, Luxembourg, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. He was a member of the Ninth Armored Division. Prior to his death, he had been serving as acting mayor of Luxembourg. He was 31 years old.

Capt. Wirsig was born and raised in Syracuse, NY, and graduated from the University of Syracuse. He enlisted in 1942, leaving behind a chemical engineering position with Standard Oil Development Company. He had joined the company as a student intern in 1936.

He was a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps and began active duty as a lieutenant. At Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, in October 1942, he was promoted to Captain. He also trained in the California desert, Camp Cook (CA), Fort Knox (KY) and Camp Polk (LA). [My grandparents received a number of postcards from these places.]

Captain Wirsig was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Elizabeth, NJ. He married Mabel Dorothy Painter of Elizabeth, NJ, on April 5, 1940, and had two children, Kenneth and Jean. He was the oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Carl F. Wirsig, and brother of Stanley S. Wirsig and Paul O. Wirsig.

**********************************************

I was very pleased to discover that Henry’s resting place has been memorialized on the Find a Grave site. He was buried at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Liège, Belgium. I submitted a ‘photo’ and ‘biography’ to Find a Grave, and am happy to see that they have since been included in his memorial page (to view, click here).

Below is Henry’s last postcard to my grandparents.  My grandmother’s last letter to him, affectionately signed ‘Love, Ma and Pa Brodhead’ was written on January 9, 1945. She had no idea he was already gone.

It’s heart-breaking to think of all that Henry and his family lost on that tragic December day nearly 70 years ago.

Henry made the ultimate sacrifice in the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny. I thank him and his family for bearing this awful burden so that others could live in freedom.

Henry's last mailing, a postcard, to my grandparents; such a beautiful and peaceful scene.

Henry’s last mailing, a postcard, to my grandparents; Franciscan Convent in Marienthal, Luxembourg—such a beautiful and peaceful scene.

Written 16 days before Henry's death

Written 16 days before Henry’s death

Links:
American Battle Monuments Commission

PBS American Experience – Interviews with Bulge Veterans

Fields of Honor database

“Infantry & Tanks near Bastogne”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – Battle of the Bulge – Members of the 44th Armored Infantry, supported by tanks of the 6th Armored Division, move in to attack German troops surrounding Bastogne, Belgium (31 Dec 1944)

Categories: Battle of the Bulge, Brodhead, Elizabeth, Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial, New Jersey, Wirsig, WWII | 9 Comments

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