New Find, New Location to Search

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Not too long ago, I requested my paternal grandfather’s military service record from NARA. This may seem silly to those who know where I live and work, but I’m an impatient soul and wasn’t willing to wait for records that I wouldn’t have had the time to search out myself for months and months.

My grandfather served during the Spanish-American War in the Iowa Infantry. The CD containing his records arrived from College Park today and revealed new details about my grandfather as a young man.

The image above is from my grandfather’s military service record (his name has been cropped out for privacy/security purposes). Several things are revealed here.  I knew my grandfather was a physician later in his life, but this card shows that he was working in insurance when he was 24.

This card also gives his residence as Grinnell, Iowa, in 1898. The name of this town is new to me and apparently his father also lived there at the time. In 1890, they were living in Morning Sun, Iowa, about 120 miles away. By the 1900 census, my grandfather is in Philadelphia (at medical school) and my great-grandparents also had moved to still another town in Iowa.

So now I have a new area in which to search for records of my Corley ancestors out in the Midwest. It looks like the Grinnell Public Library will be a good place to start.

Other details revealed elsewhere in the service record include the fact that my grandfather spent a lot of time working in the recruitment office. He eventually was promoted to the rank of corporal. One discrepancy I noticed is that his place of birth is not what I have found documented elsewhere.

Next steps include resolving that birthplace discrepancy and accessing the pension application my eventually widowed grandmother filed. Interestingly enough, it was filed under the Civil War pension system.

It Always Pays to Re-Search

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I’ve been through Ancestry records too many times to count, but I find that it’s always fruitful to go back and repeat searches for folks I added to my family tree ages ago. Today’s finds:

A 1904 mention in the Washington Post of a lawsuit in which my grandfather, a physician, was suing an individual, presumably a patient, for $639.42.

A 1910 mention in the Post in an article detailing the inspection of a new milk plant in the D.C. area; my grandfather was one of 100 physicians and other medical personnel invited to tour the facility.

A 1911 Washington Post blurb about recent car sales. My grandfather had just purchased a Model 35 Buick Roadster. According to the American Automobiles web site, the 1912 Model 35 sold for $1,000. An ad for the vehicle is available online.

A 1915 Washington Post announcement that my grandmother would be one of many women assisting at the College Women’s Club’s presentation of “Color in the Home.”

Another 1915 Post article about a University of Pennsylvania alumni dinner that my grandfather attended.

Alert readers will note that all of these items come from the same source. I found them by drilling down into the various categories of records returned among my search results. This helps to separate the wheat form the chaff, bypassing all of those unrelated census records, etc., that always seem to clog up the first few pages of top-level search results.

All of the above items add colorful details about my grandparents’ lives and also a jumping off point for discovering more records (especially regarding that lawsuit!).

SNGF: A Prolific Dad

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Here is tonight’s challenge from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings:

“1) Determine who is one of the most prolific fathers in your genealogy database or in your ancestry. By prolific, I mean the one who fathered the most children.

2) Tell us about him in your own blog post, in comments to this blog post, or in comments on Facebook.”

The most prolific dad that I’ve found so far in my direct line is Jonathan Cheatham CORLEY, my GGGgrandfather. He had 13 children and they are notable for two reasons (in my mind):

1) all survived into adulthood (this is unusual, from what I’ve seen, for kids born in the early 1800s; they were born between the years 1805-1831)

2) all had the same mother (Delilah BASHAM, who lived until 1848, when she died at the age of 63)

I’m lucky to know quite a bit about Jonathan thanks to my copy of A Genealogy of Corleys. Jonathan was a blacksmith born in Bedford County, Va., in or around 1783. He moved with his growing brood to Kentucky before settling in Shelby County, Ill.

In A Genealogy of Corleys, the author relates that Jonathan went by the nickname Grandser (probably a contraction of Grand Sire, according to the author — how appropriate!). He served as a justice of the peace and apparently performed quite a few marriages in Shelby County (I need to make a note to look for records of this!).

The author of the book notes that it’s unusual that he couldn’t find more of a record of Jonathan — he states:

“Mr. Corley lived in the time when there was little opportunity for education, and while he was as stated, a Justice of the Peace, which shows that he was able to read and write and keep records, doubtless this was done in somewhat primitive style. Yet, this renders it all the more strange that he left no fuller account of himself and his father [Caniel Corley]. It was reputed that he kept a family record, but after his second marriage [to Elizabeth DAVIS, which produced no more children], if such a record ever existed, it passed out of the hands of his children and has not been recovered.” (pages 8-9).

Jonathan died 30 October 1861 and is buried with Delilah in a Corley family cemetery in Shelby County, Ill.

A Genealogy of Corleys was written in the 1920s and I’m hoping that with today’s increased availability of resources, I may someday have more luck finding information about Jonathan.

Census Searching: Ancestor Not Home? Ask the Neighbors

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I finally had a chance to do some personal genealogy research last night and so I headed to Ancestry.com to look for tidbits. While researching my paternal line, I found Benjamin William Franklin CORLEY (my great-great-grandfather) and fam in the 1880 and 1860 censuses in Tower Hill, Shelby Co.,  Ill., but had no luck finding them in 1870. I was relatively sure that they hadn’t left the area only to return again before 1880. I decided to look for one of my ancestors’ neighbors in 1870 instead and then check the nearby pages to see if my fam turned up.

I went back to the 1880 census and looked to see who their neighbors were that year.  A NICHOLS family was the next on the census sheet. That’s a rather common name. Next was John SHARROCK. Perfect!

Benjamin William Franklin Corley and fam in 1880. John Sharrock is two households down. Click on the image for a larger version.

I searched for John Sharrock in the 1870 census and was able to find him in the same town and county. The censustaker there that year seemed to have some creative spelling ideas and his handwriting left quite a bit to be desired. No wonder I was having trouble finding my family!

The censustaker wrote “Spirock.” His handwriting/spelling left a bit to be desired.

I scanned a couple of pages back and forth and then found what I was looking for (sort of). Due to his lengthy name, Benjamin William Franklin Corley often appears as B.W.F. Corley in various records. Well, I found what looked to me like a B.W.F. CANBY, but was indexed as CAULY two pages past Mr. Sharrock/Spirock.

Below the scan of the image on Ancestry is a typed index of the information appearing on the page. In the bottom left-hand corner is an “Add Update” button. I clicked on this to update the spelling of the household surname in the census index.

Any index is going to have inaccuracies, especially one that is based on sloppy handwriting and questionable spelling. I’m glad to see this feature on Ancestry that allows for researchers to help contribute to making the index more accurate!

Memorial Monday: Ancestors Who Served

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In honor of Memorial Day, here’s a quick run-down of my military ancestors:

My dad — US Army Reserves; Korean War, WWII (pictured left with his brother, Edmund, who served in the Navy)

Grandpa Wild — U.S. Army

Grandpa Corley — Iowa Infantry; Spanish-American War

Obediah Basham (my 4Ggrandfather) — Revolutionary War (I haven’t submitted a DAR application yet because I’m still collecting the necessary documentation, but others have)

I’m betting that I also had ancestors on one or both sides of the Civil War, but I haven’t collected/found proof of this yet.

For Mother’s Day, “Only One”

This Mother’s Day, I once again call your attention to this poem, which I found folded between the pages of my copy of  “A Genealogy of Corleys”:

"Only One" by George Cooper

The hand-written copy above was addressed “To Mother.” I’ve always wondered who wrote out the poem and the identity of his or her mother. Since this book was once owned by another Corley, they were probably relatives!

Tombstone Tuesday: Corley

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For those who followed my series on Arlington Abbey Mausoleum (see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3), you may remember that when I read up on the mausoleum and its unfortunate history of vandalism and looting, I learned that the remains of several of my ancestors were missing. Shortly thereafter, my half-brother remembered an old copy of our father’s will in which he stated that he’d bought a a burial spot for relatives bearing his last name at another cemetery.

A phone call to Parklawn Memorial Park in Rockville, Md., confirmed that my paternal grandfather and his parents are indeed buried there, and I found out the exact location of where their remains can be found today. Saturday, I was in the area and paid a visit to the cemetery. When I arrived at the building described to me by the cemetery staff, my eyes lit upon my surname almost immediately.

Bingo. But, I must say, the genealogist in me was a bit disappointed. The name “Corley” is all that’s engraved into the marble face of their vault. I had hoped to see all three of their names listed. I harbored a twinge of jealousy after seeing the other vaults with more detailed information listed.

Because this genealogist is a bit unsatisfied, I do plan to call back the staff at the cemetery and see if I can get a copy of the burial record. After all this searching, I want more tangible proof that all of them really are in there.

Still, I was glad to get the chance to visit the cemetery and I’m also so thankful that this mystery is solved. Others whose ancestors were buried at Arlington Abbey are not so lucky. The remains found scattered there (or that are missing altogether) may never be sorted out.