Surname Saturday: I’m a real WILD child (Virginia, Texas, Germany)

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

My mother’s maiden name was Wild, and I’m sure you can only imagine the jokes made about her and her three sisters as they grew up.

This particular name has German roots. I’ve traced back the line to Aibling, Germany, so far. Rumor has it that we’re somehow related to the original brewer’s of Becker Bier in St. Ingbert, Germany (now a Karlsberg brewery).

My mom and her sisters were Army brats and moved all over the world, but they spent a lot of time stateside in Northern Virginia, where my aunts still live, and in Texas, which is where our ancestors originally settled after leaving Bavaria.

Here are my Wild roots, in all their Ahnentafel glory:

2. Marcia Lea Wild (1949-2003)
6. Col. Herman Bennett Wild (1913-1978; Army accountant — he and my grandma met on the job at the Pentagon)
12. Herman Wild (1876-1928; lived in San Antonio Texas all his life, near as I can tell)
24. Fridolin Wild (1844-?: the German immigrant, from Aibling)

I found Fridolin and the elder Herman in San Antonio directories in the late 19th century, both working as salesmen.

My goal is to trace Fridolin’s family as far back as I can. In my research today, I discovered that his wife’s surname was HOYER and that her parents immigrated from Germany as well.

Local Follow-Friday Love

Here are the genea-folks in the Maryland-Virginia-D.C. area worth following and why:

@michaelhait/African-American-Genealogy-Examiner: thorough, helpful research tips for those in the D.C. area or those seeking information about African-American ancestors

@matfam42/My Nola Heritage: very supportive genea-tweep and has a wonderful blog about her family history research

@InnerCompass/Lessons From My Ancestors: her blog posts about her ancestor Sylvia Tyler are a compelling, worth-while read.

@stephengcox/Ancestral Embrace: relatively new genea-blogger; he’s been doing a lot of research on Slavic ancestors recently and has many posts dealing with Ellis Island records.

@archives_gov/National Archives: goes without saying

@librarycongress/Library of Congress blog: another no-brainer (hoping to post a summary of my visit to their genealogy reading room soon)

@SILibraries/Smithsonian Libraries: Learn about news from the museums’ collections and resources in the libraries. Don’t forget that these libraries have rich catalogs of interest to genealogists/historians! I searched microfilm rolls at the National Museum of American History library last year.

@amhistorymuseum/National Museum of American History: fun daily historical facts and exhibition updates.

@SmithsonianMag/Smithsonian Magazine: info on archaeology, history, life sciences and much more.

Touchdown Tales

Football has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of me in my John “Riggo” Riggins jersey nightgown. Yes, even in this miserable season for D.C. football, I can admit that I’m a born-and-raised ‘Skins fan. (Incidentally, it was several years before I learned that not every team had transvestite fans who wear pig snouts to every game. We’re special — that’s just for us.)

I must admit too that I didn’t quite *get* football at first. Touchdowns were irrelevant to me. The players on the field simply weren’t doing their job if there wasn’t a huge pile of players on top of each other when the whistle blew. That’s when I cheered. The bigger the pile-up, the better. Hence, I was usually rooting for fumbles/recoveries, no matter which team had dropped or recovered the ball.

I was 5 years old when I learned the true meaning of football. We were visiting my grandmother, who lived in a sixth-floor condo in Alexandria, Va. It was a gorgeous day and my cousin Lee (also 5) and I were not content to enjoy it from her balcony, so my uncle Rick agreed to take us to a grassy area on the grounds of the complex for a game of football.

The teams we fielded were small: two-man… no, actually one team had one and a half men (Rick and Lee) and the other team was me and Rick’s Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Jackson.

I don’t remember how the defining play began, but somehow I had the ball (Jackson passed it to me?) and I was careening towards the edge of the patch of grass that had been indicated as an end zone. Lee was only 7 months younger than me, but he was also seven inches shorter for quite awhile. He was firmly clamped around my waist (Jackson was probably sniffing something really interesting).

And so, my cousin dragging along beside me and my uncle hooting at the site of it all, I scored my first touchdown.

———————————-

Big props to Denise Levenick at The Family Curator for her Genealogy and Family History Bloggers Alamanac, which proposed “Touchdown Tales” as today’s writing prompt.

Surname Saturday: CORLEY (Virginia, Illinois and Iowa)

I have posted the various surnames I am investigating on Twitter on a few different Surname Saturdays. Today, I decided to be a bit more proactive and seek out others investigating the same lines. Today’s post will be about what I discovered about the CORLEY line in Virginia, where we can be traced back to the 1600s, Illinois and Iowa.

I tried some searches on Twitter specifically and didn’t find anyone else looking for Corley line information, but there sure are a ton of other Corleys of various ilks on Twitter!

I’ve been avoiding searches on Google lately now that I’m subscribing to several genealogy databases/services and because Google can often send you on a wild goose chase. Still, there are juicy tidbits to be found if you’re patient and know what to look for. The following are what I found via basic Google searches combining the family name, place names and sometimes the word ‘genealogy’ to help narrow results.

CORLEY (Virginia)
I rediscovered the Corley winery, to which I am assured I am related by other Corleys. Their site even refers to my immigrant ancestor, Richard Corley the Immigrant. I haven’t been to California to try the wine and have never seen it in stores out this way. There’s another Corley vineyard in Colorado, but I’ve never heard that we’re related to that one…

I found this link for queries about the Corley clan: http://www.cousinconnect.com/p/a/0/s/CORLEY

Learned of a new possible variation: CORLIES

I found new (to me) web sites about Richard the Immigrant: http://home.windstream.net/jimcorley/descend.htm and http://www.deboriah.com/wordofgrace/genealogy/corley/Ancestors%20of%20Oscar%20Thomas%20Corleyby%20RevCrowe.doc

Found partial text of a book mentioning one of my ancestors — Valentine — parish records from Cumberland Co., Va. The full text is available at the Library of Congress.

CORLEY (Illinois)

Found the following compendia of links, which may warrant further investigation later:
http://www.linkpendium.com/genealogy/USA/sur/surc-C/surc-Cor/sur-Corley/

http://distantcousin.com/SurnameResources/Surname.asp?Surname=CORLEY

This site mentions Corley’s Ridge (would like to learn more about this) and Corley Cemetery (which I’ve investigated in the past): http://genealogytrails.com/ill/shelby/placenames.html

Here is another site about Shelby County, Ill., where the Corley’s resided for quite some time and where an annual reunion is still held ever year (I haven’t made it to one yet). http://www.histopolis.com/Place/US/IL/Shelby_County/

CORLEY (Iowa)

The Iowa Genealogical Society: http://www.iowagenealogy.org/index.htm

These results reminded me that there is a Corley, Iowa (Shelby Co. there as well). I haven’t established a firm connection between my Corley clan and this locale.

———————-
Additionally, I searched “richard corley ‘the immigrant’”

Yay for sources! http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mysouthernfamily/myff/d0059/g0000053.html#I3137

Found full text of a book mentioning Richard Corley Jr. in St. Paul’s Parish (Va.).

Another site listing Corley descendants (but its source is no longer online) — http://mattocks2.wordpress.com/category/generation-12/003072-richard-corley/

Tombstone Tuesday — Arlington Abbey, Part 2

In last week’s Tombstone Tuesday post, I wrote about Arlington Abbey Mausoleum, where my great-grandparents were interred in the 1920s. Over the following decades, the mausoleum’s owners abandoned the property when it failed to become profitable. Its government overseers were unable to keep a close eye on it and it fell victim to looters and decay.

I came across an article that mentioned Scott Watson, an Army Corps of Engineers archaeologist, who in the 1990s had been tasked with locating next of kin of those interred at the mausoleum. The military was moving all of the remains out of the mausoleum in order to close it down permanently. I left a message with Watson and was able to speak with him this past week.

Watson was able to verify that not only were my great-grandparents originally buried at Arlington Abbey, but my grandfather as well. I hadn’t been able to track down his gravesite yet, so this was a somewhat unexpected boon (I was hoping he had ended up in the same location, but hadn’t found any evidence of that yet).

That is the good news — the confirmed burial locations of three relatives. The bad news is that they have all since disappeared.

When the Army Corps of Engineers went in to Arlington Abbey to catalog the remains there and prepare them for removal, the crypt where my relatives’ cremated remains had been interred was empty. Watson made the following observations at that time: the shutter from another vault was propped up against the Corley vault, which was second up from the bottom of a six-vault-high stack (so relatively accessible). He noted there had been a fair amount of vandalism.

Watson did say that between the 1950s and the 1970s, sometimes relatives of those buried at the mausoleum had removed the remains for reburial. The mausoleum sometimes kept records of this, but not always. There were no official records showing my relatives’ remains had been removed. Watson said that they had tried to trace the next of kin of the Corleys — but they put the most effort into tracking down families for whom they had remains to release.

Finally, Watson said that they discovered several unlabeled urns containing cremated remains in a pile on the floor of the Abbey Mausoleum. They had no way to trace the vaults to which the remains belonged. These urns were reinterred in the cremation vault at National Memorial Park in Falls Church, Va. This is where all other unclaimed remains from the mausoleum were relocated as well.

So, there appear to be three possibilities as to the current location of my relatives’ remains:

1) Another Corley descendant removed the remains sometime between the 1950s and the 1970s.
2) The remains are among the discarded urns found in the mausoleum.
3) They’re just gone — stolen or destroyed.

Watson apologized for not having better news or more details for me, but he’s given me a ton of information. He’s mailing me copies of the original interment documents and other information that he has available.

It does sadden me that there was looting at the mausoleum, and that because of this, I may never find the final resting place of my grandfather and great-grandparents. Arlington Abbey Mausoleum was demolished in 2000, so I can’t even visit that location.

But I have to admit that I’m a bit fascinated by this whole case. The story surrounding the mausoleum is quite incredible and I’m glad that I’ve learned as much about it as I have. I’ll report back if there is more to be gleaned from the records Watson is sending me.

Continue to Part 3.

Tombstone Tuesday — Arlington Abbey, Part 1

Several years ago, whilst investigating my father’s family, I learned that my great-grandparents (his father’s father and mother–Joseph E. Corley and Ida C. F. Corley), were buried in a mausoleum called Arlington Abbey in Arlington, Va., after they passed away in the 1920s. The mausoleum is no more, however, and all of the bodies have since been relocated.

At that time, I assumed this was because the former mausoleum bordered Arlington National Cemetery, which from time to time expands to accommodate more graves. Grad school intervened and I had to shelve my family research. Only recently, did I pick this trail back up.

It’s not a pretty one.

A helpful ancestry.com member responded to a post on that site a few years ago to tell me that many of the bodies formerly located in the mausoleum were relocated to National Memorial Park in nearby Falls Church, Va., especially when next-of-kin could not be found. I called there this past weekend and was told that there is no record of my great-grandparents at that cemetery.

Joseph and Ida used to live in Shelby County, Illinois, the location of a Corley Cemetery where a few of my ancestors and extended relations are buried. Thinking perhaps Joseph and Ida had found a way back home, I did some searching. I found an online list of the gravestones and Joseph and Ida are not listed. Scratch that possibility off the list.

Since these were my only leads, I decided to do some more digging into the history of the mausoleum. I turned up a couple of articles in the Washington Times from the 1990s. Turns out that the mausoleum used to be privately owned, but was not very profitable. The owners turned over control of the facility to the federal government back in the 1950s, but the government didn’t have the resources to oversee it closely. It fell into disrepair and was the target of vandals and apparent satanic worshipers. Bodies were removed from their crypts and valuable items stolen.

As disturbing as the above news is, the articles above include valuable information like the name of the company that originally owned the facility, the exact date when they turned over the property to the government, etc. Perhaps most importantly, I now know the name of the Army Corps of Engineers archaeologist who was tasked with investigating the families of the deceased to try and find next of kin when it was determined all of the graves had to be moved.

I was able to track down his contact information over the weekend and I’ve left him a voicemail to see if he has any information about the whereabouts of my great-grandparents’ remains.

He is not my only hope though. If I don’t hear back or he doesn’t have information about Joseph and Ida, I now have more details that I can use to perform further research. Luckily, I live close enough that trips to libraries in Arlington County, Va., or Washington, D.C., are feasible.

I’d be curious if anyone else reading this has also traced relatives to Arlington Abbey — have you had any luck finding out what happened to them?

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week. I hope to report back that I’ve heard from the Army Corps archaeologist.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (A Day Late): Ahnentafel Roulette

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

This is my first stab at Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (albeit a day late) — a concept championed by Randy Seaver on his Genea-Musings blog: http://www.geneamusings.com. This has been a really educational exercise to undertake — I learned about a numbering system I hadn’t been exposed to before, I further investigated a relative that I hadn’t spent a lot of time on yet and I found some interesting discrepancies in his census records that will require some work to clear up.

This week’s challenge is Ahnentafel Roulette:

1) How old is your father now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your “roulette number.”

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ahnentafel. Who is that person?

3) Tell us three facts about that person with the “roulette number.”

4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook note or comment, or as a comment on this blog post.

5) If you do not have a person’s name for your “roulette number” then spin the wheel again – pick your mother, or yourself, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!

This post has prompted me to learn more about the Afhnetafel numbering system. I was a bad MLS grad and went to Wikipedia for a basic description: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahnentafel

Shame on me, I know (actually, it’s even worse; first, I Googled it). Google also led me to this better explanation at ancestry.com. Note that there is a typo, and number 15 should actually be great-grandmother.

Following the rules above, the roulette number to investigate is 26. This is my mother’s father’s mother’s father, Anson G. Bennett (1859-1944). I had done some preliminary investigations online into who Anson G. Bennett was, but I didn’t have much information. Here’s what I’ve been able to glean, with some certainty:

1) He was born in October 1859 in Missouri.

2) He married Josephine Susan Campbell after moving to San Antonio, Texas.

3) His father was a merchant and Anson worked for him in his store before marrying my great-grandmother.

The above has been gathered from a family history previously compiled by a relative and by searching federal census records. The one sticking point is that the state of birth information for his mother varies — either given as Missouri, Tennessee or Virginia, depending on the census year. This could mean that I’ve been viewing the records of two (or more) different Anson G. Bennetts. It could also mean that a recording error was made or that the wrong information was inadvertently given to the census taker in a given year. Obviously, more work needs to be done to clear this up.