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John Hilyard Family ca. 1909

Saturday, November 29, 2014

If I Liked it Then I Shoulda Put a Pin In It; or, My Budding Relationship With Pinterest

There's a bouncy pop song from way back in 2008 called "Single Ladies" by Beyonce. The gist is, if you didn't want to lose the girl, you "shoulda put a ring on it" and made her yours.

I have to say, as a genealogist, I have flirted with a lot of websites lately. I've been looking. A lot. Can I remember all their names? Not really. Some had flashy pictures; some had wonderful long lists of data. There were a few offering up some new techniques I wanted to try. But when I try to remember which god-forsaken corner of they internet they were located on, I can't come up with it for the life of me.

I''ve tried bookmarking them. That's like writing their names in a little black book. There's a name and a number, but what was it about? What piqued my interest there? I hate actually calling up the page and having to say, "Oh, sorry; it wasn't you."

Enter Pinterest. Now don't run off screaming into the night. It's not just for recipes and funny cat memes. If you've never heard of Pinterest, it is a website that offers you a visual way to bookmark websites and sort them into categories. You get a sneak peek at what the site was about to refresh your memory.

Pinterest is free to sign up for and use. You can sign up via email or a Facebook account. Once you have an account, you can create "boards" or categories that you want to sort your pages into, or "pin" the pages to. You can add new boards any time. If you would like to see what boards I currently have you can check them out here.

As of this writing, I have a few boards labelled "Surname SoAndSo" for when I find a page specifically about a certain family I'm researching. I've created one for Naturalization Sources; this is a new area to me because most of my lines are colonial, and I'm getting schooled on some unfamiliar types of records. A few others, self-explanatory I believe, include Civil War Information and Historical Fashion. Again, you create the categories, so they are tailored to your personal interests.

Two things I've found that make pinning really easy: the mobile app and the Pin It! browser button add-on. If you are using a mobile device, you can get the free Pinterest app in the same manner you get all of your other apps. When using your device, if you are on a page you want to save or "pin," you use the "Share" option in your menu and you can choose Pinterest there from among your other programs such as Facebook and Instagram.

As for how to add the Pin It! button to your browser, I'll let Pinterest tell you how. It is very easy to do, and places a small button in the top right corner of your browser that lets you pin whatever site you are on with the touch of, well, a button.

A warning, gentle readers: Pinterest is one of the greatest time sucks known to man. Be prepared to waste a little time your first few visits. Once the new wears off, I hope you will find it a useful tool in your genealogy research.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Family in the Civil War: Part One, Thomas Hilyard

I have four known ancestors who fought in the Civil War: Thomas Hilyard, William Henry Harrison Reck, Anselum Wilson, and John H. Anderson. I'd like to honor each of them with a post here.

This is the first in my series on my Civil War ancestors.

Thomas Hilyard, Ohio Volunteer Infantry 81st Regiment, Co. E

Tom Hilyard was born on November 13th, 1840 in Fairfield County, Ohio. His parents were Jeremiah Sylvester Hilyard, who was 23 at the time, and Mary Ann Valentine Hilyard, who was 21.  Tom had five brothers and two sisters, though one sister died as a child.

Tom's family moved to Allen County, Ohio sometime in the early 1850s, where his dad Jeremiah died in 1855 at the age of 37. At age 14, Tom was the oldest child of 7 on their family farm.

The Civil War started in April of 1861. That fall, Tom answered the call for volunteers. He enlisted for a three year term on September 1st, 1861 in the 81st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company E (81st OVI Co. E).  He was 20 years old. His company was sent to Benton Barracks, Missouri.

Much can be read online about the specific battles in which Tom's regiment fought. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the Civil War will recognize Shiloh and the Siege of Atlanta, and later Sherman's March to the Sea. Here, I want to focus on how the war affected one particular soldier and his family.

One of the first battles Tom was involved in was the Battle of Corinth II, fought October 3-4, 1862, in Corinth, Mississippi.  Confederate forces attacked Corinth, but the Union claimed victory.  Tom's regiment lost 11 men, had 44 wounded, and three captured by the enemy.

According to testimony in his Civil War pension file, Tom also received a fatal blow of sorts at Corinth, though it took some years to kill him. It was there he contracted tuberculosis, called consumption at that time. His friend Joseph Wagoner, who was only 17 when he entered the war, made a statement in 1888: "[I] was well acquainted with Thomas Hilliard, comrade. I was also a member of the same company and regiment. I know of Thomas Hilliard being sick and bleeding at the lungs which was at Corinth, Mississippi in the year 1862."

Tom went on to complete his three years of service. If you've never read about the siege of Atlanta, you should. Imagine yourself walking hundreds of miles from your home, in all kinds of weather, to fight your fellow Americans.  Picture the huge earthworks that Tom Hilyard helped create, then sat in while fighting the rebel southerners, all after surviving for three years with hunger, cold, war, and the disease festering in his lungs that was going to kill him.

Atlanta fell on September 2nd, and Tom's term was up. He and 150 of his fellow soldiers headed back to Ohio. There, Tom married Rachel Cremean on December 29 of that year. One year later, they welcomed their first child, Jesse John Hilyard (the man in the portrait on my main page) into the family on December 19, 1865. The war was finally over and they could move forward.

However, Tom's health was never good again. He pension file is filled with testimonies from friends, neighbors, and doctors about how the consumption affected him.

Joseph Roush, about Tom's age, of Allentown, Ohio had this to say:  “I was acquainted with said Hilliard at least 12 years before the war, and lived near neighbors to him, within a half mile.  I have worked with him a great deal before the war, at all kinds of work, and I always found him a stout, hearty, healthy young man as I ever knew.  I never knew him to be sick a single day up to the time of his enlistment and I know that if he had been subject to any complaint or disease I would have known it.
            “When he returned from the service he came back to live in the same place.  He returned in the fall of 1864 shortly after I had enlisted a second time, and I saw him immediately on my return in June 1865.  I know that he was not then in good health; he seemed to be very much broken down, and I have often heared him say he was broken down and could not perform the labor he once could.  He came to work for me soon after my return, and I know he was not able to perform manual labor equal to a well man, nor as he could do before his service in the army. 
            “I remember that one of his symptoms was what is called a hacking cough, which troubled him constantly, and I think his cough gradually grew worse, and after a few years he began to have spells of bleeding from the lungs and his disease became fully developed as a case of consumption.  During the last six years of his life I did not live so near to him as I had before, but still saw him frequently so that I know his disease continued right on in its course untill he died....His habits were exemplary and strictly temperate.”  Signed 26 May 1888.

Another contemporary, Abraham Stever of  Elida, Allen County, Ohio:  “[I] was acquainted with said Hilliard for at least ten years before the war, and lived in same neighborhood, or within about one and a half miles, and have worked with him at hard labor.  I know that up to the date of his enlistment he was a sound, able-bodied, robust young man.  He was entirely healthy or I would have known it.  I never heared him complain of any sickness or disease up to that date.
            “I returned home from the service on the 12th of June 1865, and then I lived within about a half mile of Hilliard.  I saw him within a day or two after I got home.  He was then very much out of health, complained of a pain in his breast, and suffered from a cough, and raised thick yellow matter from his lungs.  I noticed that sometimes after coughing he would spit out matter tinged with blood.  I saw this more than once and can not be mistaken about it.  I worked with him quite frequently when he was able to work up to 1877 and after that I saw him often, and had knowledge of him all the time untill he died. 
            “He was able to do some light work at first, but not very much; was not able to do hard work at all and had frequent spells when he would not be able to do anything.  This continued, and his disease of the lungs continued to increase in severity untill for a considerable time before he died he was not able to do any work at all.  Soon after his return his disease became a settled disease of the lungs from which he ultimately died.”  Signed 10 Apr 1888.

There are other affidavits in the file, but I leave you with this one: Dr. Henry G. Stemen age 36, of Delphos, Ohio:  “I was called to examine and treat on the 27th day of May 1882 Thomas Hilliard, who was then living in Delphos, Allen County, Ohio.  I treated him from that time untill he died August 8th, 1882.  His disease was pulmonary consumption.”  Signed 3 Aug 1886. 

Tom was 41 when he died. He lived the last half of his life with a disease he contracted fighting to preserve the union of our country.

Tom and Rachel had six children. Two of them died before reaching age two.  His oldest son, Jesse John, was my great-grandfather. He moved from Ohio to Indiana, eventually settling on Grease Gravy Road in Orange County, Indiana, the county I was born in. He died long before I was born, but I have a picture of him with my dad.

Francis Hilyard (b. 1939) with his grandfather Jesse John Hilyard, early 1940s

I don't have any pictures of Tom, but I do have photos of two of his brothers and his two sons. There's a strong resemblance among them, so perhaps we can get an idea of what he looked like from them.

Brother Noah Hilyard (1851-1931) on his 76th birthday

Brother Ephraim Hilyard (1854-1918) painted from a tintype

Curtis and Jesse John Hilyard (sons of Tom), Arthur and Vaughn Hilyard (grandsons of Tom) about 1935

You can read a concise summary of the 81st Regiment's movements and battles on Wikipedia.
The very detailed history can actually be read online at Google Books, History of the Eighty-first Ohio Infantry Volunteers, written in 1865.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Like a Dog With a Bone, or Are There Any Kind Souls in Pennsylvania?

I decided to focus a little while on my surname, Hilyard. This is a line I got stuck on before my hiatus. As records stood 6 years ago, I was going to have to travel to Pennsylvania in person if I wanted to learn more.

Enter the Internet.

My last known ancestor on that line is Thomas Hilyard. From what I've searched so far, I knew he was born about 1750 and died about 1817. His wife's name was Mary, maiden name unknown. They spent most of their lives in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, down in the western corner of the state.  I know of eight children they had, including my next ancestor Thomas P. Hilyard.

I won't go into all I know in this post, but just my superfind of the day. Google, dear Google, told me about a book called the "Journal of the Forty-Eighth House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,". Here the title continues on to a second page, but you get the idea. Perfect bedside reading if insomnia is your problem. If you are interested, it is available free in its entirety on Google Books.

However, on page 40, I located this little treat. "Mr. Coplan presented the petition and documents of Mary Hilyard, of Fayette County, stating the services of her late husband, Thomas Hilyard, in the Revolutionary War, and praying for relief."

Obviously, these are my people! Mary is applying for a pension that soldiers and widows of soldiers of the American Revolution were entitled to. Up to this point I have never been able to find any military records for Thomas. After learning of this, I did a pretty exhaustive search back at Fold3, and still couldn't find any mention of him.

Back to the Google. Some wonderful person had contributed this page to the USGENWEB Archives because it contained a record of their ancestor. My ancestor was serendipitously located on that same page.  It turns out Mary Hilyard was approved for her widow's pension of 40 dollars per year. Huzzah.

Now, how to find out more? Google explained that Mary HILLARD's file (yes the different spelling is ok, it's her) is located in Harrisburg, PA at the State Archives. Well, it takes nearly 8 1/2 hours to drive there from home, or Google maps also pointed out I could fly there in under three hours, starting at $237. Wait, it's Sunday and they are closed. Plus I have to work tomorrow.

My next step was to turn to Facebook. I put out a plea on the Pennsylvania Genealogy Network group for someone to go there and copy it for me. Come on, Internet, You can't let me down now!

Portrait of Alice (Holtzapple) and Jesse John Hilyard Family
taken about 1923--baby in center was born in 1922 and before my grandparents married in 1925

Back row: Grace (Tomlinson) Hilyard; Vaughn Hilyard (my grandfather); Leonard Tomlinson; Tessie (Hilyard) Tomlinson; Irene (Reese) Hilyard
Middle Row: Arthur Hilyard; Alice (Holtzapple) Hilyard; Jesse John Hilyard; Warren Hilyard
Front row: John Hilyard; Eugene Hilyard; Vivian Tomlinson; Marion Tomlinson; Agnes Hilyard; Louise Hilyard; Nonda Hilyard

Friday, November 14, 2014

Not So Ancient History

Most of the photos and artifacts I've been given over the years are very meaningful to me, and I am grateful to have them. They are generally old things, attached to people I never met, and they have little direct emotional affect on me.

Last week, my father gave me a small shoebox of letters and mementos belonging to my brother Scott. Scott passed away unexpectedly three years ago at the age of 50. He was nine years older than me, and as a child I always admired him.

My father left it to me to curate this box. I let it sit for awhile, not sure what would be in it. I lifted the lid this morning, braced by my coffee and assisted by my ever-curious cat. No demons jumped out. I found I didn't even cry, at least until writing this post.

Nearly everything in the box is from 1978-1980. It contains cards Scott received for his high school graduation in 1979. There are many letters he received from family and friends during his Air Force basic training in late 1980.

The graduation cards include little notes from family long gone. I will treasure those. The letters he received during basic training include several, of course, from our mother. She was a good reporter of what was going on at the time. Many of the events she mentioned I remember well, though I was only 10. Her voice comes through just as it does today, the same mannerisms and turns of phrase from half a lifetime ago.

Also included are several letters from another of our brothers. He was also in the Air Force, stationed in Florida. I recall him being a prolific letter writer, though I sadly don't think I kept the ones he wrote to me. His sardonic humor rings through, also little changed from when he was 20.

A few items that I want to keep and preserve include a playbill and script from the play M*A*S*H that Scott was in during high school. This is the first play I can recall attending and I was so excited when I saw my big brother on the stage.

The box also contained a series of cartoons my brother drew. He had a few characters back then, but these are Granny Grunt, and how she accidentally got sent to the moon. I plan to have these copied and bound with his other cartoons I have to share with my family.

So this little gift from my father will be added to my family treasures. Scott has three little granddaughters he never got to meet. I would like someday to tell them some good stories about their grandpa and what fun we had as kids.

Vonda and Scott Hilyard
at our family home around 1978

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dipping Into Evernote; or Should It Stay or Should It Go?

I decided it was time to try out Evernote for keeping track of my research notes. I currently have about one and a half file cabinet drawers and six or seven linear feet of three-ring binders full of stuff.

To try it out, I selected a slim folder from my Farmer family research. My mission: to digitize the file and deal with the paper.

First, I took a look over each piece of paper in the file and decided if any of it was trash. Surprisingly, there were four things I could throw away. One was a printed email of someone researching the name from who knows how long ago, not related to me. One was a cryptic sheet of notebook paper with a few names, no indication of where it came from, useless.

Second, I determined what I absolutely could not throw out. These included photos and certified copies of death certificates. After scanning, these went right back into the file. The .pdfs got uploaded to Evernote.

Third, what could I scan and dispose of? I decided that handwritten notes containing abstracts of censuses and books fell into this category. I'd already put that information into my genealogy database (good old Family Tree Maker) ages ago. I scanned it to my desktop, where the .pdfs will remain. These also got sent to Evernote, but where I had 12 sheets of paper containing census abstracts, I now have two neat digital "notes".

(Confession: I technically haven't really thrown any of this out yet. I'm going to have to let it sit on the table today while I'm at work and carry out the disposal tonight. Consider it a wake, if you will.)

Lastly, there are some photocopies I made of original records. These are the toughest call for me. I will of course scan them and upload to Evernote. I don't think I can let go of this paper just yet. I'm going to let time tell me what to do on this one.

George Thomas Farmer (1861-possibly 1924)
brother of my great-great grandfather J.P. Farmer

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SQUIRREL! Or, How I Discovered Fold3

With a few hours to myself, I decided I would like to learn more about Evernote. From what I have gathered, Evernote is da bomb for keeping track of EVERYTHING in my research, from old research notes that I can scan in, photos, anything I find on the web can be "clipped" and filed. All of this stuff is OCR'd (the computer reads it and indexes all the words) and can be searched. Plus, all of this information is "synced" or copied across all of my devices. This is great because I scan stuff at my desktop, but take my laptop, tablet, and phone elsewhere.

So, while looking for information on that topic, I just happened across a link to Researching Your War of 1812 Ancestor and thought, "Oh, why not?" That took me to an Ancestry blog post, written just a week ago. This, in turn, mentioned a website called Fold3 that has free military records. Click.

Well, there was another rabbit hole. I typed in one of my 1812 ancestors, Smith Cremean. I'd already gotten his records the OLD-FASHIONED way, i.e. I drove to Washington D.C., donned the white gloves, and photocopied them myself. That was in 2004, by the way.  Well, if I'd only been patient, here they are in all their scanned and beautifully readable glory.

Then I noticed a banner, "Free Access to WWII Records", available through November 30th. Yesterday being Veteran's Day, my grandfather was on my mind, so I typed in his name. Voila, there he was. I am fortunate enough to have his records and medals passed down to me, so there was nothing new here, but what a wonderful site! I took time to add his service photo to his memorial page.

So, I still don't know any more about Evernote, though I am desperate to learn how to save those War of 1812 images But what a great find in Fold3! And why is the site called Fold3? According to their blurb, " Traditionally, the third fold in a flag-folding ceremony honors and remembers veterans for their sacrifice in defending their country and promoting peace in the world." Great name for a great site.

William Lee Moore, 1911-1978
My grandfather

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Triumphant Return

Well, it only took six years, Pa.

In the summer of 2008, I was 37 and pregnant with my first child. My father came over to help me pack up my craft and hobby room to convert it into a nursery. As we carefully packed and labelled boxes with "Genealogy Stuff" my father quipped, "You can open these in about 18 years."  We had a chuckle over that.

Fast forward to November 2014. I decided last week it was time to return to my beloved hobby. I've been interested in genealogy since age 10, and fairly serious about it since my early 20s. I've been a Family Tree Maker fan since, well, let's just say the floppy disc days? My last iteration was FTM 2010. I figured there must be an update, so that's where I started. I downloaded the 2014 version, and was off and running.

Whoa. What happened in the last six years? 

In the last week, I have discovered genealogy podcasts and blogs. There's something called Evernote that I MUST learn about. has expanded by leaps and bounds. I found a few pictures of family I didn't even know existed. Not just the pictures existance, but the family.  All this in just a brief time online.

I know I want to blog about my return to genealogy. I want to do it right. But I want to get started now while this is all fresh on my mind. This post is called My Triumphant Return with tongue in cheek. I feel like Rip Van Winkle; so much has changed that I don't even know exactly what I have to catch up on. I thought I was a pretty effective researcher before my hiatus. In some respects, it's back to Genealogy 101 for me. 

Blogger forced me to pick a title for my blog when I hadn't given it any thought yet. I figured I'll be doing this in my precious spare time, which is mostly the late evenings. But at least, I didn't have to wait the whole 18 years.