52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Brick Wall


Imagine that the paternal side of your family tree has seven…yes, count them , seven…leaves. This is true for me. A six word sentence explains it all: I am third generation Polish American.

Once upon a time, I set a goal to find my grandparents, Anna Mroz and Franciszek Slabik, in the Ellis Island records. After a year, I had found both of them as they had come separately and unknown to each other. My grandmother’s brother Antoni Mroz was listed as her contact/escort person. Supposedly, he lived in Greenwich, Connecticut. She came in 1906, and she has not been found in the 1910 Census. Also, no Antoni in sight. My grandfather came in 1912, and he was meeting his brother Jan Slabik. He has never been found in any census. No siblings and their families can be located. My grandparents never spoke about their parents to their children. No aunts and uncles came to visit, call, or write. My grandparents and their children lived in Philadelphia.

Once upon a time, I set a goal to find out the names of my great grandparents who remained in Poland…all I sought were their names. I sent for my grandparents’ death certificates. The informant, my aunt and their daughter, only knew the name of her mother’s father: Stanislaw Mroz. The rest of the names were a mystery. I thought about any document that might bear these names. I sent to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for a copy of my grandparents’ marriage certificate. Yes, the names were there! Jakob Slabik and Agata Kendra were my grandfather’s parents while Stanislaw Mroz and Teclas Goruyk parented my grandmother. When the marriage was celebrated in 1914, Babcia’s parents were deceased while Dziadek’s were farmers.

Once upon a time, I yearned just to know where my grandparents were born in that big mess of a country Poland…a country that was not a country for over 100 years. That has been very difficult to research. In reading through research hints by professional genealogists, I may as well be trying to translate Polish without a translator. It is truly overwhelming to me. Will any part of this brick wall come tumbling down…ever?

Ancestry DNA has yielded only one cousin…my first cousin with whom I grew up…his kids got him the test as a gift.

Truly, I am a positive person. I long for the day when someone will say, “Czesc kuzynie…hello, cousin.” Then I can write, “Once upon a time I longed to meet a cousin, and there was a text from her.”

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: In The Paper

The stroke of paralysis sustained by A. H. Boultinghouse, of Tilden township, resulted in his death, Saturday morning last, at 9 o’clock. The venerable gentleman was well along toward four-score. Funeral services took place Sunday and were largely attended, deceased having been widely known and universally esteemed. Osborne County News, Thursday, 23 November 1893

A whisper of a mention in the local weekly paper when he went home to God was paid the venerable gentleman. No obituary was ever published. His wife and eight of his nine children remained along with grandchildren. Why was printer’s ink never applied to newsprint to tell at least a noble fraction of his story? What caused this writing to never have been composed?

So…here is a simple obituary for A. H. Boultinghouse who died in the 19th Century but has been written in the 21st…126 years later.

In 1818, Amos Howell Boultinghouse was born on the Illinois plains to Daniel and Rhoda. He was named after his maternal grandfather. His father died when Daniel was five years old so he was raised by his mother and older siblings. At the age of 19, he joined the U.S. Army. While stationed at Fort Columbus, New York, he met and married Maria Kraemer who was a French emigrant. He was 25 years old while she was 15 years old. (She lied about her age when applying for her marriage license. She stated she was 22.) Together they became the parents of nine children. When the Civil War rocked the country, Amos reenlisted at the age of 43. He served in the 55th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Company E. Under the orders of General William T. Sherman, he became a wagoner. He was honorably discharged and went home to his beloved family. In 1871, the family moved westward to Kansas and settled on lands provided by the Homestead Act. The family were residents of Bloomington and maintained their farm there. At the age of 75, Mr. Boultinghouse went home to the Lord on 14 November 1893. He rests in Bloomington Cemetery.

Much more could be shared about the venerable gentleman, but this obituary is just a footnote. May my second great grandfather enjoy all that heaven does allow!

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: 12

Before they owned a radio…before they purchased a Model T…before they opened a grocery and restaurant, they laid their lives bare. Information was recorded about them by a neighbor who passed it on to the Census Office. Their answers became a part of the Twelfth Census of The United States in 1900. This census asked more questions than had previous ones. On that official enumeration sheet, the lives of the Lafayette Edward Boultinghouse family would unfold in simple facts.

The 12th Census began on 1 June 1900 and was to be completed in one month’s time. The Boultinghouses lived in Tilden Township, Osborne County, Kansas. At the time, Lafe and wife Naomi had three children plus his mother and a lodger within the household. The couple had been married for six years in the previous year. Naomi had given birth to three children with all three living. Lafe was listed as a day laborer who rented their property. Lafe and Naomi were literate and could speak, read, and write English. The children ranged in ages from 1 to 6 years of age. Lafe, wife, and children had been born in Kansas. Lafe’s mother Mary was born in France. The census states that she immigrated to the United States in 1844 and had resided there for 56 years. The lodger, George W. Forrest, had been born in Ohio and was employed as a stone mason. The birth month and year for each was recorded . The birthplaces of their parents were listed.

Who from this household answered the questions? How well did they know the enumerator, George V. Rogers? Did they socialize at Sunday school picnics with their neighbors the Britts and the Tiltons? Biographical facts are told in the census, but personalities are not present. Those discoveries would be left to their descendants in the 21 Century.

Note: Two mistakes can be found in this record. Mother Mary Boultinghouse emigrated from France by 1843 as she was married that year in Manhattan, New York. One of the daughters’ names is listed as Ellen when it was Helen.

Further Note: The Boultinghouses are part of my mother’s family who had been in America since the early 1700s. My father’s parents would not come to America until the early 1900s. They would first appear in the 1920 Census.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Large Family

Fox River District, White County, Illinois

Does the family on the move really put down roots? Does the family know the meaning of being settled? Does the family understand the security of being home? The Daniel Boultinghouse (1775-1823) family would be witnesses to this story as they migrated from Pennsylvania to Ohio to Illinois.

What spurred Daniel to keep moving westward? For what was he searching? Daniel would marry three times with wives Susannah Graves and Rhoda Howell. The name of one wife is unknown. With Susannah, they parented five children. Rhoda gave him two children while the unknown Mrs. Boutlinghouse gave birth to six. Rhoda was the last wife so she took many children under her maternal wings.

Members of large families on the Illinois plains each had jobs and responsibilities: cooking, laundry, planting, harvesting, whatever was needed to be clothed, fed, and sheltered. How did the family turn whatever they had into a homestead…would this be the final place for them along the Little Fox River? How did they call it home?

As some of the children reached adulthood, they married and lived nearby. A couple of Daniel’s sons joined him in the militia to ward off Indian attacks. Family stories tell of one son being massacred and scalped. Daniel was the captain of a militia that fought in the War of 1812.

Daniel died at the young age of 48, leaving Rhoda and the remaining children. Daniel had kept an account of the debts he owed. After his death, Rhoda went to the courthouse to present this account and to pay off the debts. Among the debts were ones he owed two of his sons. He left no will. How did she survive her days on the plains? No records exist. I wonder if one of her children took her in so she would not be by herself.

Rhoda and Daniel are my third great grandparents, and their son Amos Howell Boultinghouse is my second great grandfather. After Daniel’s death, several of his other sons left Illinois to move into Arkansas and Texas. They, too, would parent large families. Did these people finally settle in their lifelong homes? How did these large families take care and love one another?

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Bachelor Uncle

Alfred Alexander Stevens

What would a bachelor like Alfred Alexander Stevens hold close his heart? Family and farming would be engraved on his soul and held dear by him. Born in 1877 in Kill Creek Township, Osborne County, Kansas, he was the fifth child (out of nine) of Will and Isabella Stevens. In birth order, he was sandwiched in as a middle child with loving, protective siblings as his elders. His four younger kin would love him as a big brother.

Most of his life was lived on his parents’ farm so he knew the value of hard work. He knew the values of loyalty and steadfastness. As an adult, he was surrounded by many of his siblings and their families: he was a devoted son, brother, uncle, and brother-in-law. Farming was a sunup to sundown vocation, and he knew the love of the land. When his parents became elderly, he continued to labor on the farm along with his brother Fred.

When his beloved mother Isabella passed away in 1924, a piece of his heart went with her. Almost two years later, his cherished father passed away. His parents had been ill for a time before their deaths, and it had taken a toll on Alfred. Stressed with worry about poor crop prospects and an unwise investment, Alfred became ill himself. He passed away in September, 1926, at the age of 49. His brothers and sisters came together to mourn the loss of their loved one who would rest under the Father’s peace.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: At The Courthouse

Mrs. Palmer had committed a crime. Mrs. Palmer had committed a murder. Mrs. Palmer had committed a filicide, the murder of her own child. That fact was written on her child’s death certificate,”poisoned by tincture of iodine given by insane mother”. No autopsy was performed. The year was 1923. So what would be the consequences for this Mrs. Palmer?

In the early 1920s, tincture of iodine was given as a medicine to cure every ailment. It had been used as such for well over a century. Medical scientists could not totally explain why it was so successful as a cure. Pharmacists would formulate it for each prescription and include directions for dosing. So what would be the consequences for misusing the medicine?

Was Mrs. Palmer questioned by the police? Did she see the inside of a courtroom to explain…to answer questions at an inquest? Was she ever brought to trial? Was she ever called to the courthouse to tell her side of this tragedy? So what were the consequences for her insane actions?

Perhaps, she was tried and convicted of a homicide by a jury of her peers, the people of her town. Perhaps, her fellow town dwellers mentally sentenced her to a lifetime of shunning. What kind of person would kill her own child could have been an everlasting question and opinion in their minds. Guilty as charged!

By 1930 as the U.S. Federal Census states, she was divorced and living with her parents. Her second child lived with them, and this child had been a mere three months old when her sibling passed. Was the divorce part of her unspoken sentence?

To date, I have not able to find criminal and possible trial records for this case. Also of interest to me is that the physician who signed the death certificate deemed Mrs. Palmer insane. Was treatment, albeit 1920s style, given for that?

After this event, Mrs. Palmer would live another 50+ years. What truly was her life sentence…delivered from a courthouse or delivered from her soul?

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Family Pictures

One of her dearest possessions was a camera. She could capture and remember poignant moments in time, plus to her the lens was magical. Miss Mamie treasured her grandchildren of whom she took many snapshots. Miss Mamie delighted in her husband Lafe’s fishing and hunting exploits so those prizes were photographed, too. Once in a while, she would turn the camera over to a family member so he/she could snap a shot of her.

Mamie had four children: Pearl, Helen, Edward (nicknamed Jack), and Isabella.When her family was young, they visited the local photography studio to have portraits taken. Then, she got a camera…informal pictures were now hers at the snap of a button. There was Jack on his bronco…Pearl and Helen sitting in a Model T…Isabella monkeying up to the roof of the house.

Two of my family treasures are pictures she took of her granddaughter Merna Mae. One is the young MaeMae (as Merna was nicknamed) with her horse Beauty. MaeMae rode her horse to the one room schoolhouse that she attended. In the picture, she looks shyly at the ground and not facing the camera.

The other is a snapshot of MaeMae with her mother Isabella and sister Mary Lee. There they stand proudly by their car and with a pony.

Miss Mamie would be most proud to know that her little slices of everyday life are appreciated and valued by me. She was my great grandmother, and we never met. Her daughter Isabella was my grandmother while MaeMae was my mother. Miss Mamie’s name was Naomi Ruth (Stevens) Boultinghouse. And she is loved along with her family photo treasures.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Love

Well, I should have known that this was no passing fancy…this was real. I had fallen completely and desperately in love…this was real and true. With that very first flirtation, I was hooked. This was real and true and forever. Cross my heart!

It started out with just one look. I yearned for one little answer…one little hint that this was it. Was I on engaging in a short affair or a lifetime commitment? I tended to go for the latter. Time would yield the answer.

And so it was…in this same month 13 years ago, I pledged my love to a beloved. This is a confession of my love for (drumroll here, please) GENEALOGY! Building my family tree, getting DNA results, meeting cousins have been cherished and treasured. I am totally in love and fulfilled.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Surprise

Looking through his military records, my eyes stuttered on one word. How could this be, dear grandfather? What is your story?

Surprised but not daunted by the information, I chose to research why Patriots became deserters…why did my grandfather leave General Washington and his troops as they sought and fought to guard Pennsylvania and New Jersey from the British in the winter of 1777?

Obsessed With History writer, Garit Boothe, offers some answers about why men deserted during the Revolution: lack of proper shoes and uniforms to survive the winter; irregular pay for months on end; PTSD (yes, walking toward the enemy with cannon fire at one’s back can do that); huge chance of losing as the Patriots and Washington had less supplies and soldiers; and/or personal problems at home. Boothe’s comments can be read at https://www.quora.com/Why-did-soldiers-during-american-revolution-desert.

Another commenter, Roosevelt Wallace, states that desertion is not about cowardice. It can be about lack of proper training, lack of food and supplies, weather conditions, disease, lack of leadership. (Wallace’s comments appear at the end of Boothe’s article.)

What I do know about Joseph is this: he was 37 years old when he enlisted. He was a farmer. He was a common family man with no military training. The leader of his company was Peter Dickerson, who was the local tavern keeper. Which of the above reasons spurred him to desert? How did his brain, his heart, and his conscience work that all out?

I also know this about Joseph: in 1790, he helped form a local militia to protect the citizens of western Pennsylvania. He and his family moved on to the Ohio and Illinois Territories, where he was again part of the local militia. So…

My original intent was to research my 4th great grandfather’s military records so I could apply to the DAR and win recognition for him since no one in the family had ever chosen to honor him. Well, surprise, surprise, surprise…my dear grandfather, now I know why your descendants had not. I also know that you hold a special place in my heart for trying.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: At The Library

There they stood facing me…all seven in a row. If they could reach out and speak, they might say, “We have a story to tell. Listen as all of our tales are different. We were witnesses to courage. We were pitted against a might-filled force in the world. We pledged our lives and sacred honor all even though we could have lost dearly. We sought to gain much as we contributed the little we had. In the end, we won it all for generations to come. Find us now…understand who we were.” My magnificent seven are Joseph Story, Joseph Boultinghouse, Benjamin Dows, Ebenezer Newman, Thomas Newman, Conrad Rhodes, and John Nichols. I set out on a quest to find them.

I discovered those who knew of them and their claims on them. Six of them had been proclaimed as the very rebels that they were against the king , and descendants had stepped forward to gain remembrance and honor for them. One of them, Joseph Boultinghouse, had not yet been recognized by the sisterhood.

Part of my journey took me to the DAR Library in Washington, D.C. Beautifully appointed and elegant in design, this facility is free to the public for research. Employees are most helpful and friendly. In a special technology room, one can find the proclaimed ones…the ones recognized by the sisterhood. I can find which of my aunts and cousins have gained further honor for the six. To plan ahead, perhaps, I can tag on to their memberships with their research and documents, which could make my journey easy. Perhaps…

DAR Library

Taking the road less travelled, I am going to claim honor for Joseph Boultinghouse. It amazes me that no Boultinghouse has stepped forward to gain recogniton for Joseph, who was a member of the Third New Jersey Regiment…no one in the DAR and the SAR has done so. This will be the beginning with locating documented connections and bridges to him and back to me. This journey will be long as I connect seven generations. The DAR Library will be visited many times as I seek help.

Perhaps, once Joseph is honored by me, the other six can follow along. Perhaps…