Lois Wakefield

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Today, July 11, is the anniversary of the death of my second great-grandmother, Lois Wakefield, in 1891. Here is what I know about her:

- She was born in Illinois in 1822
- She was married to Benjamin William Franklin Corley (we’ll learn more about him tomorrow)
- Together, Lois and Benjamin had 11 children, including my great-grandfather, Joseph Corley
- It appears Lois spent her entire life in Shelby County, Illinois

I haven’t spent a lot of time on this line and I haven’t been able to identify her parents yet.

Treasure Chest Thursday: Thank You, eBay

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Earlier this year, I created an alert for my last name on eBay. I get daily updates on new items for sale that are related to the surname Corley. There’s a ton of 80s TV show memorabilia related to Al Corley, who starred on “Dynasty” (relationship unknown as of now).

There also are several authors with the last name Corley. This daily alert has netted me two books written by my kinsman in the past year. Over the summer, I scored another copy of A Genealogy of Corleys, which I gifted to my half-brother. Just a couple of weeks ago, another book by a relative went up for auction. It was a Spanish-language novel edited by my great-uncle Ames Haven Corley for use in the classroom.

I was the only person to bid on the book and therefore won the auction. For less than $5 ($.99 bid + shipping), I now am the proud owner of the 1922 Macmillan Spanish Series edition of Amalia. It’s in great shape. Too bad I can’t read Spanish!

Ames Haven Corley

I don’t know a ton about my great-uncle Ames, but I do know that he taught languages at Williams College (where my father eventually went to school) and at Yale University, for whom this book was printed. As the title page above states, he was an assistant professor at the time this book was published.

It is neat to read the preface, written in 1917 by my great uncle, who signed his name A.H.C.

There are exercises at the back of the book, which were devised by my great-uncle as well.

I highly recommend setting up a similar search on eBay — you never know what it may turn up about your ancestors. After the luck I’ve had so far, I intend to set up more alerts for other surnames in my family tree.

Mystery Monday: Ida, I Don’t Know

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I am in possession of a number of old photos from my father’s side of the family. I put many of these into a scrapbook when I first got into genealogy several years ago. At the time, I didn’t know much about older types of photos and fashion through the years. Now that I do, I’m starting to second-guess some assumptions that I made way back when.

Case in point: my father’s mother Ida Corley. I always assumed that the wedding photo below was hers.

Ida was married to my grandfather in 1905. I do know that the undated photo below is her:

Compare:

The mouths are the same. The eyes and hair seem very similar. Even the noses, though the one on the left may be a bit narrower and longer…

There are two other photos to consider:

The top photo, I believe, is the same woman in the wedding dress. She is definitely not the stylish woman in the bottom photo, whom I know to be Ida in the 1920s.

I doubt that stylish Ida reverted to granny wear as she got older (with apologies to whomever is pictured on the left; I’m assuming it’s actually Ida’s mother, Martha Alcorn SIMPSON). The thing that clinches the fact that these are two different women for me is that one is wearing glasses and the other is not.

You can barely tell that the bride on the left is wearing glasses — you can see the pince-nez on the bridge of her nose though.

I think that if the person pictured in all four photos were the same woman, she would either not be wearing glasses in all of the photos or she would have them on in all four photos. If you’re self-conscious enough about wearing glasses to take them off for seated portraits, you’d especially take them off for your wedding picture. That’s assuming Ida ever wore glasses, and all evidence seems to point to the fact that she did not.

Given that there is such a strong resemblance between the women pictured though, I’m going to assume that the woman in the wedding dress is Ida’s mother. Now, I just need to find more information about her wedding and possibly other photos of her to prove it.

My next question is, might the earlier photo of Ida be her wedding portrait?

Tombstone Tuesday: Arlington Abbey Revisited

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About a year ago, I began a series of posts about a few of my ancestors who used to be buried at Arlington Abbey Mausoleum in Northern Virginia. The good news is that after learning that my ancestors’ remains were missing, I eventually was able to track down their whereabouts.

I was contacted by another family historian recently who came upon my posts and now she too has been able to figure out where her relatives are buried. I’m re-posting this series here in the hopes that others who may have had family buried there might find the information helpful.

Arlington Abbey, Part 1

Arlington Abbey, Part 2

Arlington Abbey, Part 3

Tombstone Tuesday: Corley (aka Arlington Abbey: Part 4)

I’m actually still struggling to get more documentation from Parklawn Memorial Park — they will not send me the interment documentation because of what they say are privacy concerns (even though I’m a direct descendant of all three buried there and the most recent of them died in 1930). I’m still trying — my most recent call to the cemetery resulted in a promise to send me a hand-written letter stating who was buried there, but that hasn’t materialized yet. I may visit the cemetery again and visit their offices in person to see if I can get further with them.

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!