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John Hilyard Family ca. 1909

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Valentine's Tale

One of my family names is Valentine. I didn't know this when I started out in research, but was able to discover it along way. Unable to do much with that line, I set it aside, until a wonderful cousin happened on an old website of mine and saw the name. He offered up years of his research to me, taking my Valentines back two more very important generations, and skipping over the ocean to Ireland.

My cousin, Thad Taylor, most generously shared his research with me, and has also made it available online. You can read all of this in much greater detail on his website, and I give him full credit for all you read here.

In honor of Valentine's Day, I want to tell you about my ancestor, Barnabas Valentine. He was born in 1757, and lived with his family in northern Ireland. The family business was weaving and bleaching linen, and as a youngster Barnabas had the job of making spools for the linen. He would take a little boat out and collect elder branches to make the spools.

Click here for a Linen Bleaching Green, courtesy of the National Library of Ireland on Flickr

Large-scale bleaching green from the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum

One day when Barnabas was 14, he took a friend with him to collect materials. They were enticed onto a large ship to take a look around. Of course they wanted to see it, and before they realized it, had been kidnapped.  I don't know if the sailors wanted the boys for labor on board, or more likely to sell as indentured servants in America.

The story goes that Barnabas' friend didn't survive the journey. Being healthy and strong, Barnabas persevered and was able to jump overboard when he sighted land. He seems to have indentured himself to a minister, and at age 20 he joined the army to fight in the American Revolution. He was involved in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, and Paoli, and several smaller skirmishes.

He lived for several years in Pennsylvania, then moved to Ohio in 1819. Barnabas Valentine died July 14th, 1831 at the age of 74.  He was the father of ten children; great-grandfather of Thomas Hilyard, my Civil War ancestor; and my fifth great-grandfather.

There is, of course, so much more to his story. I just wanted to share with you how one of my bloodlines arrived here in America and made up a part of me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Seventeen Children of Melvina Young

All genealogists have a "brick wall" or two in their family trees--lines that seemingly cannot be pushed back another generation. I pride myself on having almost all of my lines traced back into the 1700s, but there are a pesky few that are stuck firmly in the early 1800s.

One of these is my Holtzapple family. I decided to tackle this one first since I actually had pictures of these people, and quite a bit of info right up to The Wall. 

Sorry to report, but as of yet the Holtzapples appear to have migrated from Mars about 1820, though I still haven't found that passenger list. But, in revisiting this line, I solved a little mystery that I've had going for several years.

I got interested in genealogy at a very young age. When I was probably about 20, my dad gave me a little box full of newspaper clippings, containing obituaries and news articles about our family.  One that caught my eye was that of my great-great grandmother, Melvina Young Holtzapple.

"Was Mother of Seventeen Children." What? Is that humanly possible? (Yes, and my ancestress Elizabeth Haught Hilyard actually bore 21 children!) I don't know how many of these children I was aware of at the time but I think about six or seven.  Over the years, I collected information on 16 of Melvina's children, but could never pin down the last one. Who was missing? That project went on the back burner, until last week.

I learned early on that Melvina was married first to Henry Sunderland, and that he had died in the Civil War. I never wrote for his civil war file, since he was not my direct ancestor and I didn't think it would hold any information helpful to me. Well, was I wrong.

I decided to check to see if there was anything, and jackpot! Sixty-four pages of pension for widow and children. And that is where I found the missing 17th child, Isabella S. Sunderland.

Melvina Young was born on June 7th, 1845. Her parents were William Young, who had just turned 58 the week before, and Margaret Madden Young (only 34).  Melvina was a middle child in a family of at least six. In the 1850 census, she was living with her parents, but in 1860 she was living a few families away in the home of Daniel and Mary Carmean. (They'll be back, don't forget them.)

On August 17th, 1862. Melvina married Henry Sunderland in Auglaize County, Ohio. I now know Henry was a young widower with two small boys.  On January 22, 1863 (I'll let you do the math on that one), Henry and Melvina welcomed a little baby girl into their lives:

1. Isabella S. Sunderland (22 Jan 1863-31 Oct 1921)
     This is the little child I couldn't find. She was born before birth records were kept, and didn't appear in any census records with her mother. However, her birth was completely documented in her father's pension file. Once I knew who I was looking for, I easily found her in 1870 and 1880 census records, living with....Daniel and Mary Carmean! This couple had no children of their own. Daniel was appointed Isabella's guardian after the death of her father, and she is listed as "adopted" on the 1880 census, though she kept her Sunderland name. Isabella married Levi Clark Peterson when she turned 18, and they lived right next door to her adoptive parents with their children.

Henry Sunderland joined the Union Army in 1864. Sadly, he contracted diarrhea almost immediately and it killed him on July 4th of that year.

2. William Henry Sunderland (15 Sep 1864-?)
    I knew about William from the 1880 census. He was living with his mom and stepdad, but I haven't found anything more about him yet.

3. Lucy Noble? (4 Apr 1867-25 Jul 1949)
     Lucy is a bit of a mystery. In the 1870 census, she has the last name Sunderland. However, since Henry Sunderland died in 1864, he wasn't her father. Melvina's obituary shows that all of her children were born to her second husband, William Holtzapple, though I know that isn't true. William's obituary lists Lucy as his step-daughter. So I'm pretty confident he was not the father either. My only clue so far is that on a few of Lucy's children's records, they list their mother's maiden name as Lucy Noble. I'm still puzzling this one out, but she was certainly the third child of Melvina Young.  Lucy married Antle Moorman in Allen County, Ohio in 1883 and they had seven children that I know of.

Melvina married for a second time to William Harrison Holtzapple, my great-great grandfather, on January 8, 1869 in Auglaize County, Ohio. William was born in Pennsylvania to John and Mary Ann Detrich Holtzapple, the citizens of Mars, on September 2, 1848. These parents are the brick wall I am trying desparately to bust open.  William and Melvina had 14 children together, as follows:

4. Amos Israel Holtzapple (7 Sep 1869-1923)
    Amos married Etta Pfeifer and they had 10 known children.

5. Melissa A. Holtzapple (26 Jan 1871-15 Aug 1873)
     Little Melissa died of diphtheria at age 2 1/2 and is buried in Kings Cemetery in Auglaize County, Ohio.

6. Alice Arah Holtzapple (20 Oct 1872-20 Jan 1959)
     My great-grandmother, and the mother in the website's main photo, married Jesse John Hilyard in 1892. They had four children including my grandfather Vaughn, the youngest boy in the picture.
Alice Holtzapple and her mother Melvina (Young) Holtzapple

7. John Thomas Holtzapple (9 Sep 1874-8 Jun 1947)
     "Tom" as he was called married Olive Wilson 1898 and had no children.

8. Mary Jane Holtzapple (24 Sep 1876-21 Mar 1953)
     Mary Jane married first Henry Wagner in 1892. They were divorced. She married second Leroy Kindlesparger and they had four known children.

Following Mary Jane, Melvina and William lost five small children:

9. Jacob L. Holtzapple (3 Oct 1878-24 Feb 1879)
     Four-month-old Jacob is buried in Kings Cemetery in Auglaize County, Ohio.

10. Carolina Holtzapple (21 May 1880-5 Jun 1880)
11. Charles Holtzapple (21 May 1880-3 Jun 1880)

These tiny babies were both alive on census day, June 1 1880.

12. Adam Holtzapple (24 Apr 1881-24 Apr 1881)
     He was not stillborn; cause of death was given as spasm.
13. Joseph Holtzapple (24 Apr 1881-5 May 1881)
     He lived 11 days. Cause of death also given as spasm.

14. Ida Mae Holtzapple (27 Jun 1882-1918)
     She married Clinton Shields in 1900. I don't know of any children.

15. James Harrison Holtzapple (1 Jan 1885-1943)
     He married Etta Kirk and had two known children.

16. George Grant Holtzapple (10 Aug 1887-2 Feb 1962)
     He married Ines Foreman and they had four known children. George was the only one of Melvina's six twins to survive to adulthood.

17. Maggie Holtzapple (10 Aug 1887-2 Sep 1887)
     Maggie died of inflammation of the bowels before her first birthday.

And there you have it. Still a few mysteries to unravel, but now I know all of the children and most of the basic information about them. Somewhere among them I might find a clue to my Holtzapple ancestry.

What is the largest number of children born to a single mother in your line?

Friday, January 23, 2015

My Family in the Civil War, Part Six: William Henry Harrison Reck

This is the sixth in a series on my Civil War ancestors.

William Henry Harrison Reck, 69th Regiment Ohio Infanty, Company D and 19th Regiment Veterans Reserve Corps Company G

Harrison Reck began an application for pension in 1891. He claimed he was disabled by rheumatism, a shoulder injury, and weak eyes. His physical exam noted he was 5'7" and weighed 138 lbs. at age 55. The rheumatism and weak eyes, he claimed, began during his time in service and increased in severity over time. In fact, by today's standards, Harrison was legally blind. From the doctor's description, this is probably not due to any injury he received but rather progressive myopia. The surgeon's report in 1901 noted Harrison used a cane because his vision was so poor.

The shoulder injury is documented carefully. Harrison was riding a horse on September 3rd, 1889, and was thrown, dislocating his shoulder. Though this had nothing to do with his service, it was considered in his pension application.

Squire Hathaway, a close neighbor of the Recks, testified: "I know that said claimant has been suffering severely with Rheumatism, at various times he would be confined to his house from 2 to 3 & some times 4 weeks at a time."

John Clapper, a young carpenter, had this to say: "[I] have worked on buildings in his immediate neighborhood & worked as a carpenter on the building of a of which said Wm. H. Reck was serving as Building Committee...& know that he was suffering from what he said was Rheumatism to such an extent that at times when we would want directions I would have to go and see him as he was unable to come out although the building was in less distance than 1/4 of a mile from his house."

I admire that even though he was nearly blind and so crippled by back pain he couldn't get out of bed at times, Harrison Reck continued to serve on committees and oversee building projects. He wanted to stay busy and connected to his community.

William Harrison and Catharine (Murphy) Reck

Harrison and Catharine Reck had seven children. They lost their son Charles in an accident in 1893. They, along with four of their adult children--David, John, Martha, and Perry, made a big move to California sometime in the early 1900s. My great-grandmother Jennie and her sister Angie stayed behind in the midwest.

I will leave you with some excerpts from a letter Catharine wrote to her daughter Jennie, my great-grandmother back in Indiana after the death of Harrison. The letter is dated December 14, 1909, a month after Harrison's death.

"Dear Daughter Jennie, Marion and Family, I will write you a few lines to let you know how we are. Martha and I are keeping house together. I have about 50 chickens young and old together. Martha is packing lemons today and expects to pack oranges after the first of January. We both have pretty good health. We have nice weather now, after the rain everything is green and seems like summer, or spring rather where the grass starts to grow, just before the trees put out their blossoms. Next month the wild flowers will be blooming.

"I want to tell you more about Pap’s sickness and death. I don’t know how much Martha told you. I didn’t think she would tell you all. He suffered awfully for a year, first one thing and another getting wrong with him. As soon as one disease let up, he was stricken with some else. He had that cough only worse like he always had. His heart was awful weak. He had dropsy in his legs and it left them and went to his stomach a couple of weeks before he died. He had between 2-3 gallons of water in his stomach. He had to take a teaspoon of cream of tartar and 2 of salts three times a day. Then he had brights disease, his kidneys would not work anymore. He got out of bed on Saturday after laying up for nearly a month. He sat out on the front porch. Then he stayed up and was able to walk outside. 

"But on Wednesday night he got to feeling bad about 10 o’clock and again morning his left side was paralyzed and had a hemorrhage in the right side of his head. He kept on getting paralyzed a little at a time till Friday morning he could not move anywhere. He would not talk nor open his eyes. He only coughed and strangled and choked. He could not take a drop of water from Friday till Sunday morning about 10 o’clock when he died. He went just like blowing out a candle. He looked so nice after suffering so hard. He had a lovely smile on his face. He took sacrament about 2 weeks before he died and told the preacher he was ready to go. He wanted to see you so bad. One night when he realized he was never to get well again, he cried like a child and said he wanted to see you and Angie once more. But you can see him again in a better world. He has passed through what we all have to do sooner or later. He is resting in a nice spot in Olivewood Cemetery. I waited on him day and night when he needed attention and he didn’t seem to want anyone else. But toward the last, John & Dave & Perry stayed constantly by his side. John seemed to stand it the best, and done more about him, he was a helpless as a child...

"I send you my love and best wishes to all. From your loving mother, Catherine Reck"

I love that line, "He went just like blowing out a candle." My heart breaks for the father and daughters that didn't get to see each other at the end, but Harrision was surrounded by his other four children and wife, caring for him until the last.

Harrison and Catharine are buried in Olivewood Cemetery in Riverside, California. I was able to locate their graves while living in nearby San Bernardino in the early 1990s.

William and Catharine Reck graves, Olivewood Cemetery, Riverside, California

This ends my direct ancestors' involvement in the Civil War. I may do posts on brothers and sons of my ancestors who also fought, at a later time. Thank you for reading along.

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Family in the Civil War, Part Five: William Henry Harrison Reck

This is the fifth in a series on my Civil War ancestors.

William Henry Harrison Reck, 69th Regiment Ohio Infanty, Company D and 19th Regiment Veterans Reserve Corps Company G

William H. Reck, one of my great-great grandfathers on my dad's side, was born in Darke County, Ohio on January 29, 1837. He was the son of Samuel Reck and Mary Ann McCune. His father had been married previously, though little is known of that marriage. When William was 10, his mother died at the age of 30, having borne four children. Samuel remarried seven months later to Margaret Alice Miller, who was only 11 years older than her stepson William. Samuel and Margaret also had four children.

I don't know for sure, but I think William went by his middle name. In the 1850 census he is listed as "Hansen" and in the 1880 he is "Harrison."  From here on, I choose to call him Harrison. The Reck family is one that's had a lot of research done on it by others so I haven't delved into the records a lot myself. This is one of the few lines that I have going back to the "Old Country." Harrison's great-grandfather Christian Reck Jr. and great-great grandfather Christian Reck Sr. immigrated from the Palatinate region of Germany and settled in Pennsylvania.

William Harrison and Catharine (Murphy) Reck, estimated about 1860
This photo was taken from a tintype

Harrison married Catharine Murphy on January 6, 1859 in Darke County, Ohio. Catharine was the oldest of 13 children born to William Henry and Mary (Sipe) Murphy. She was born October 3, 1838. Both the Recks and the Murphys seem to have been well educated, able to write well, and by the census records their children attended school. Their daughter Sarah Jane (my great-grandmother), and Sarah Jane's daughter Alys (my grandmother) were both trained as school teachers. The family wrote letters, a few of which I possess copies of, and many photographs exist.

Harrison enlisted as a private in Company D of the 69th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on October 21, 1861. Catharine had just given birth 23 days before to their second son, and had a two year old to care for as well.  The 69th began its journey the following February, traveling by train to Camp Chase in Columbus, then in April to Nashville, Tennessee. Here they performed guard duty for several months. This duty did involve a skirmish with General John Hunt Morgan and his raiding cavalry at Gallatin, Tennessee; the same General Morgan that John H. Anderson trailed through Indiana the following year.

The first major battle the 69th participated in was Stones River. This seems to be a little-known battle, but it involved  over 76,000 men and decided the fate of middle Tennessee. One third of these men were wounded, died, taken prisoner, or reported missing.  The two armies met on the banks of the Stones River on December 30th, 1862. The Confederates attacked at dawn on New Year's Eve: a cold, foggy, wet morning, and six hours of savage fighting ensued. The North was badly injured, but refused to retreat and reformed, receiving reinforcements on January 2nd. With this assistance, they took the victory and secured middle Tennessee for the North.

Stones River produced battle locations called "The Slaughter Pen" and "Hell's Half-Acre." If you want some detailed reading, I recommend The Civil War Trust's article "New Year's Hell." For a lighter version, try their battle summary, "Stones River."

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

On March 24, 1864, Harrison Reck was transferred to Company G of the 19th Regiment Veterans Reserve Corps. I had never heard of this Corps before, and learned that it was organized into two classes. The first was for men who were partly disabled but whose terms were not yet expired. They were still able to handle a musket and do some marching, and did some hospital, guard, cooking, and provost duty. The second class was for men who had been discharged due to disability but could still do light duty and wanted to serve further. Harrison fell into the first class. His civil war military record notes he was absent sick in hospital in June 1863, then transferred to the invalid corps on February 29, 1864 (which was later named the Veteran's Reserve Corps.)  

The Veterans Reserve Corps had a special uniform which included a sky-blue coat to match the regular army pants. I found the page "A study of Enlisted Invalid Corps jackets 1863-1866" by Christopher Daley an interesting read on the history of the invalid jacket, and contains some further information on what disabilities were permitted and which were not in the corps.

Harrison was discharged at Elmira, New York, on December 22, 1864. This leads me to wonder if he might have served at the infamous prison there. Further research is needed into this.

There is much more to Harrison's story, but I'll leave that for the next post.