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In Transition

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open door

Transitions: An open door

Recently, the leader of my writing group, Pam Smedley, gave us an interesting assignment. She put slips of paper with writing topics written on them and asked us to draw one and reflect on it for the month. I drew the word: transitions.

 

I’m going through numerous personal life transitions—the self-publishing gauntlet scaled and two books[i]completed; the first draft of my third book in the beta-reader/editing stage; the angst-driven analysis of my accomplishments and mistakes; and coming to terms with aging, time, and…well, you get it.

I’m also beginning to write the fourth book in The Maggie Chronicles. If you are familiar with my books, you know they hop from present to past, requiring reader and writer to transition often. Well, my fourth book transitions between two pasts and one present. Ambitious? Nuts? Who knows? Clearly, TRANSITIONS was an apt and serendipitous pick.

Here’s what I’ve gleaned in a month.

Transition defined:

  • the process of change (noun) like[ii]between passages, musical keys, phases, focus
  • cause to change (transitive verb) as in position, perspective, orientation, viewpoint

You just can’t avoid transitions—or transitioning. Noun or verb, the word implies change. Some changes are easy; the leap isn’t far, or critical, or traumatic; it requires little adjustment—for example, between corn and bran flakes, or sentences. Then again, some changes are hard; they require a huge leap—between established home and homeless, between life and death, or between scenes. (So, okay, taking the leap from one scene to the next isn’t as harrowing as the chasm between life and death, but, if not done well, both can be painful.)

In any case, by addressing all the complexities of change, so as to ground yourself (or the reader) in new territory, you might avoid the stumbles and falls (to stick with the metaphor) or confusions change presents(metaphorical stretch…mid-air collision?).

With this in mind, consider the following as you soar, or flail:

  • Where are you? Have you been here before? Then you likely don’t need an in-depth tour. If the place is new, if you’re out of your comfort zone, then a quick orientation is in order. Is the weather different? The same? Is it safer or less so? Who populates this place…assuming they matter? Get settled, or help the reader do so.
  • When are you? Two days later, a week? Life, and story, does that sometimes; time flies without you paying attention. Jumps like that are easy. Just state the fact and move on. “My writing group meets in an hour. Better hustle.” But…did you time hop from D. 2020 to 500 B.C.? Some head-spinning explanation is required. Were you eighteen and suddenly eighty? Perspectives and concerns differ significantly with age. Don’t ignore it.
  • Who are you? Very important. Hopefully, there’s some consistency. Too much head hopping and you come off as schizophrenic. Sure, you may feel unbalanced but keep moving—forward—as you. Take it all in, from your (or your character’s) perspective. And accept that you (and your character’s) viewpoints aren’t perfect…or necessarily grounded. It’s normal and makes for an interesting story, or life.
  • What are you? Is a label important? Add it. (But it makes me nervous.)
  • And, finally, why? Why are you where, when, who, and what you are? Why do you feel, need, want, care? Why are you afraid, excited, wary, overjoyed? Why don’t you think you’re good enough, smart enough, whatever enough—or why do you?

Put it all down; ground your reader—or yourself—into the next step, next scene, or next stage of your story.  It might be exhilarating or frightening or incongruous, but nothing stays the same and everything’s connected. That’s the point of transitions: somehow, via miniature steppingstones or huge leaps of faith, they move you forward. How exciting and scary is that?

Photo credit: Franzfoto: wikimedia.org
[i]Find links to them here: Book 1 The Scattering of Stones and Book 2 The Forging of Frost
[ii]I’ve bolded a few transition words between sentences in black as examples.

“One Stick at a Time” A Family Fable

one stick

Work to come

I sat in the driver’s seat of the car parked in our garage. A piece of a story unfolded—a movie—but one not in my head. It danced in that in-between place where the mind’s eye plays. As it receded, my shoulders relaxed; my knotted gut began to untie. The story was not lost; it was there.

The launch of both Scattering and Forging were successful. Not like rock star successful but respectable and, well, at least accomplished. The draft of my third book is ready for beta-readers—almost. I still need to give it one last edit.

But the next book lingered in a twist of apprehension, a sensation I suppressed. Vulnerability was not, I thought, a desirable attribute. When in doubt, pretend strength.

But lately I’ve been thinking of a family fable. We call it “One Stick at a Time. The story goes like this.

In the long ago time, when a man and woman first came to this land, an enormous mound of dirt and tree limbs and trunks and bramble, all in a muddle, loomed over them. The pile rose taller than one person standing on the shoulders of the other. It stretched wider than three cars, bumper to bumper…well, maybe two trucks. Say it however you will, it was a mountain; it was big. And overwhelming.

Then a Wise One visited the woman, this time in the visage of an old man. Grey of hair and beard, he hovered before the mound, balanced on a crooked cane. His eyes scanned the mass, his mind considered. He turned to the woman and smiled. “There is nothing,” he said, “that cannot be tackled one stick at a time.”

The woman told her partner what the Wise One had said, and he nodded. They stepped to the mound and each picked up a stick, then a shovel. Sometimes they worked together, sometimes alone.

At night the woman determined her next step. She imagined the new stick or limb she would lift.  When dawn came, her imagination moved her, so she pulled and she dragged, until what she had imagined in the night stood before her, as real as light of day.

Then, one night at a time, the pile diminished and the greater vision unfolded: of a land cleared of debris, flourishing where confusion and doubt once reigned. And, while the work took place, birds flit through the bramble, the man and woman’s bodies grew strong, and they discovered how to clear a space where ideas could grow.

So it is with any story. At first, it seems a jumble, disconnected and unclear. No matter how much you plan its structure or talk through your ideas, you must step forward. You must pick up the first stick.

Every story I’ve written began with doubt. Then the story blew in, one scene at a time, its Wise-One presence appearing sometimes in a car, sometimes before an impossible obstacle, and always just in time. So I will trust that place where my mind’s eye plays, and I will carry on, as I hope you will—one stick at a time.

at a time

It does get done—one stick at a time.

 

All Those Early Croys

 

jacob croy brother in law inventory

A blast from the past in which a Jacob Croy is a executor of the estate.

A FRIENDLY DISCLAIMER: This post is for those with an interest in the Croy surname only…real “in the weeds” research. It happens sometimes (smile).

 

A follower asked for some help with a Croy family line centered in Montgomery, Virginia and, boy, was that a loaded request. He had traced (or was considering) an early Lawrence Croy as one of his ancestors. I’ve been searching early records for a link to my Jacob Croy, so have delved deep into early Croy surnames. It is a potpourri, promoting more questions than answers.

So far, it seems, the early Croys settled in three distinct locals: Pennsylvania, Vermont/NY, and Virginia, as well as a random record or two.There is little definite early verification of the familial relationship of all those recorded Croys. Still, in the interest of helping others, and maybe get some feedback to further my own research, I thought I’d list what I know so far, along with a brief explanation of where to find the records. (Unless noted the records can be located on Ancestry.com)

Reading the information below generates questions, none likely answerable:

  1. Is the Lorenz Croy who arrives in PA in 1753, the same one who appears in Rensselaer, NY in 1785, and, subsequently, Highgate, VT in 1799.
  2. Are the Bedford, PA or Dauphin County, PA Croys related in any way to Lawrence? He may have come to PA with young children?? Or had them soon after, and they headed out on their own?
  3. Is the Jacob of VT who disappears from Highgate records after 1804, the same Jacob who appears in Montgomery (Giles) County, VA in 1810?
  4. Why was Jacob such a popular chosen name? Three Jacobs exist at the same time in the late 1700’s: one in Bedford County, PA; one in Dauphin County, PA; one in Highgate, VT.

Here we go! Ordered by date:

Pennsylvania

1753-First recorded Croy: Lorenz Friedrich Croy arrives in Philadelphia, PA and signs the oath of allegiance

1765-Hannis Croy and wife Marya baptize daughter Annate at the Dutch Reformed Church in Milston, Somerset, New Jersey on Oct. 21st

1768-Michael Croy and Anna Maria, his wife sponsor a baptism at David’s/Sherman’s Lutheran Church in York County, PA

1776 to1790-Appearance on tax roll for Cumberland Valley/Londonderry Township, Bedford County, PA: Richard (beginning 1776), Jacob (beginning 1778), and Mathias (beginning 1787; Micael on 1790 Federal census) There is plenty regarding this line on my blog so I will not repeat it here.

1780-A Jacob Croy is named executor of the will of Adam Rambarger of Anville Township, Dauphin County, PA (brother-in-law; his sister Esther, Adam’s wife; Adam’s children listed George, Jacob, and daughters unnamed. (This is a wonderful insight into the times, particularly the inventory of possessions.)

1780-A Jacob Croy (same as above?) appears on the Lebanon Borough Taxable Returns as a freeman. From  History of the counties of Dauphin and Lebanon: Everts & Peck, 1883. (Note: Annville and Lebanon are right next door.)

Vermont/NY

1781- John G. Croy appears on payroll signed in Bennington, VT for August under Captain Odell in Colonel John Abbet’s Regiment

1785-Lowrence Croy and John G. Croy appear on roster of Henry K. Van Rensselaer’s Regiment (Albany County), Militia. (John G., we will discover, is Lawrence’s son.)

1790-Christian Cray is listed on 1790 Federal census for Rensselaerwick, Albany, New York. Pension records indicate he served with Rensselaer’s Regiment as well. Fold3 has his application for a pension, which indicated he came from Germany. (Christian, we will discover, is Lawrence’s son.)

1790-John Croy appears on 1790 Federal census for Fredrick, Maryland. (Random or John of Lawrence venturing, briefly out.???)

1799- Lawrence Croy files a will on May 3rdin Highgate, Franklin, Vermont. In the will he lists Rachel as his wife and Christian and Jacob as his sons…a later will, named below gives more information. At this time, he willed Jacob 100 acres and Christian 2 pence. The town of Highgate was not really viable until 1791 and the records start at 1794, so it makes sense that this is the Rensseler County, NY family from above. As you will see, John G. and Christian stayed in NY and Jacob, John (yes, there were two Johns) moved to VT with their father. This comes from the Vermont Town Records for Highgate found at Familysearch.org (search Franklin County, then Highgate image #36). I love these records! Only problem—they are not indexed. You have to search them a page at a time. Lucky for you, I am giving you the image numbers. 

1800-Jacob Croy (Lawrence’s son) appears as a selectman and renter of property at Hog Island (now West Swanton, VT) part of Highgate Township in Franklin County Familysearch.org above, image #75

1800-Lawrence Croy’s second will names Rachel, his wife, and Christian, John G., John, and Jacob as his sons. No land is mentioned. He wills John G. and Christian $1.50, John a cow and white horse, and Jacob the balance of his estate. It is recorded August 24, 1800. Familysearch.org as above, image #77

1800- John Croy sold land April 29, 1800 on Hog Island. (Familysearch.org. Sorry, no image #)

1800- Jacob (age 26-44) and Lawrence Croy (age+45) appear on the Highgate, Franklin County, VT Federal Census.

1799 to 1802-residence list names John Croy and Jacob Croy (Familysearch.org images 93, 114…sorry, no image # for 1799 and 1800)

1803- John Croy appears on the residence list. I find no further record for Croys in Highgate…but perusing these records is a challenge. I may have missed something. As it is, I did not list numerous records of John and Jacob’s positions on the town council in positions varying from selectmen to sheriff.

An aside on this family: Christian Croy’s 1842 will in Brunswick, Rensselaer, NY, image 552-555 in Ancestry “Wills and Probate Records of New York” shows no male heirs; nor does John G.’s 1837 will in Petersburg, Rensselaer, NY, images 85-90.

 1810-an illegible ____b(?) Croy (age 26-44, which Ancestry labels as John Cray, appears on the Highgate, Franklin County, VT federal census.

Virginia

1810-Adam (age 26-44); Henry (26-44); and Jacob Croy (+45) appears on the Federal Census. This family is easily traced on the census from this point forward. I doubt it is the same Jacob as in Vermont as he had only one female child under 10 listed on the 1800 VT census. In this census he has (among others) 3 females and 2 males between 16 and 25. I checked Library of Virginia Chancery Records and found no Croys mentioned before 1824. The 1790 and 1800 Federal Censuses do not exist, likely lost in the fires in Washington, DC in The War of 1812.

Can you add anything? Any thoughts? Some mysteries may never be solved—but I’d sure love to unlock this one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Second Edition and a Plea for Help

 

Scattering

Purchase or write a review HERE.

It’s up! The second edition of The Scattering of Stones is now available on Amazon. I am very proud of it. (I don’t easily admit such things.) It corrects a few minor errors, has a clean, very readable interior, and sports a fabulous new cover created by Pam Mullins. The cover design visually links the upcoming books in the series, which I have dubbed THE MAGGIE CHRONICLES.

When I first wrote The Scattering of Stones, I had no idea that Maggie Smith, the “present day” researcher in my historical novel, would decide that she was not done! Her fictional research (combined with my real research) unearthed more stories, and she insisted I tell them. Maggie is a very persistent woman.

To those who read Scattering when it first came out, enjoyed it, and then wrote great reviews and sent heartwarming notes, I thank you.

Now I need your help!

If you read my first book and enjoyed it, please write a review for the version showing the cover above. Just click here, scroll down to where it says, “Write a customer review,” click again, and write away. Or you could just cut and paste your old review to the page—or simply give the book a star rating with no comment. I would appreciate it so much.

Here is why!

My previous publisher and I are having trouble pulling the old version of Scattering from Amazon’s on-line sales. Because that edition has more reviews attached to it, and because Amazon does not transfer reviews to second editions, the old version comes up first in a search.  That version is no longer under my copyright, so until it is pulled (except, of course, for used versions), I’d like to bury it under my new, fabulous, edition.

OH—and if you haven’t read Scattering, it has been very well received. If you like historical fiction, in particular American historical fiction, I’d love for you to give it a read. Find a blurb, along with a colored map and short story to compliment the book, on the Moonset Books page above.

THE MAGGIE CHRONICLES, Book Two, The Forging of Frost, set in 17thcentury New Haven Colony, comes out in early January. Book Three, The Legacy of Payne,which takes place in Bennington County, Vermont at the time of the Revolutionary War, is in draft stage, and Maggie’s been whispering two more stories to me, as well. Okay, I wouldn’t call it whispering, but she’ll have to wait.

The Value of DNA Testing Revealed

 

birth and adoptive mother

A birth and adoptive mother, and a connection across time

DNA testing—not much more use than a parlor game—fun factoids (barely) but…That was my conclusion after testing my family with 23andMe, including my brother, children, grandchild, and husband.

Not that I don’t believe in the power of the genetic link.It’s a theme in my novels, a conduit across time. “She knows them, deeper than words or dates or research; they exist in her DNA; they are a soul truth to her.”[1]Science points the way, as well, with conflicting evidence as to the existence of genetic memory and whether experiences change a body’s DNA.

But I just don’t buy it as genealogical proof.I hoped to use the information as a springboard to more historic and record-based research. Maybe I could break down a few brick walls on my side of the family. And, as an aside, the results might give my children some insight into their adopted father’s ancestral background. On a whim, I also decided to push the button to compare my husband’s 23andMe results to other “DNA relatives.”

Before I get to the punch line in all this, let me mention that I have this thing about the intersect between free will and grace(or serendipity, or synchronicity in Jungian terms). In my book (literally in my books…it’s a theme) nothing just happens—without work.

I had already gone through the long-winded process of unlocking my husband’s original birth certificate, including petitioning our congressman to open the records.(I am grateful that he made it happen, and I recommend doing so if you ever run into roadblocks as an adoptee.) Because of this work, we had my husband’s original name, the names of his birth mother and father, and their places of birth. Not all of it was exact. But that’s always the assumption as a genealogist. Even facts are suspect. Anyway…

Matches came in—but highly unlikely ones.Less than 1% matches; matches that, upon closer analysis, weren’t matches. I didn’t expect much. What are the chances, with so many companies out there, that some relative to an adoptee would: 1. Decide to do a test, 2. Decide to do it with 23andMe, 3. Push the “DNA relative” button, and 4. After all that, keep tabs on the whole thing? Well—highly unlikely.

Still, you do the work; so I kept tabs on the results. Then one match came in significantly higher than my version of random, near to 25%.So, what the heck, a brief email seemed in order. “I’m sending this for my husband… Anything strike a chord?” Honestly, I forgot that I’d sent it—until I got a Thanksgiving reply.

My husband’s half-sister found—everything confirmed by birth records and common family stories. (Remember the work?) So, regarding DNA testing, is it a parlor game? Sure. But, sometimes, those kits are a genetic link, a healing of regrets, a righting of mistaken beliefs, and the discovery of a birth mother, long gone, but passing on her love through memories left behind.

Grace, and the will to pursue the improbable; there is, indeed, a lesson in everything.

[1]From Book Two of The Maggie Chronicles, The Forging of Frost, coming out next month…more on all that in a couple weeks.

A Deep Dig into the Town of Morges, Ohio

Morges Marker

You’ve checked the tax records for your ancestor OR you found a deed confirming ownership—you’re done right?They lived there; it’s clear. Okay, asking the question and answering so unequivocally was a dead give away. Nope. You aren’t done. You need to check both taxes and deeds.

DON’T ASSUME YOUR ANCESTOR LIVED ON THE LAND DEEDED TO HIM OR OWNED THE LAND WHERE HE PAID TAXES.

Samuel Oswalt, the brother of my 3x’s great-grandmother, Susannah Oswalt Croy, established the little town of Morges, Ohio, in 1831. You’ll also notice by the sign above that Jacob Waggoner, Jr. is, likewise, a town founder.

I wanted to find the original deeded document for the formation of the town of Morges. I also hoped to find Andrew Croy’s original deed for his Morges property, and maybe those of other ancestors living on lots there. Previously, I had documented all those living in Morges using the only surviving early tax records, 1833-1838.(Some wise soul rescued these few records from the waste pile during a courthouse purge.) Andrew Croy, Susannah Oswalt’s husband, appeared on the tax records for Morges, lot #18, from 1833 through 1838. Jacob Croy, his son, was listed on lot #17, 1833-1835. Numerous Croys and Oswalts littered the list.

By using the on-line digitalized courthouse records available through familysearch.com, I had already found one deed in which Samuel Oswalt corrected an error of location for the town of Morges.I, likewise, located a deed transferring lot #18 from Andrew and Susan/Susannah to a John Zengler in 1848. But they weren’t the originals. I found no deed for Jacob Croy.

So who owned all of the thirty-seven Morges lots? The deeds, in Stark County (the town’s home county until 1832) and Carroll County (its home from 1832 forward), were not searchable. They required that I locate names in indexes—both alphabetized and not—then go to the indicated page. Let the treasure hunt begin.

Morges,_Ohio_map_1874

Plat Map of Morges, Ohio 1874

As I searched for the deeds using the individuals named on the tax records, Inoticed something perplexing. The property tax records and ownership records did not coincide. Why not, I asked? Land ownership and property tax should match up, shouldn’t they? The answer? Well, not necessarily.

Early taxation did not always distinguish between personal (movable) and real (immovable) property.An example is my 5x great-grandfather, Jacob Oswalt’s 1779, Bedford County tax record which taxed real property like land, grist mills, saw mills, and distilleries, along with movable goods like servants, negroes, merchandise, horses, horned cows, and sheep.[i]

Even when property was taxed separately from movable goods, determining the owner of property wasn’t always easy.A tax assessor traveling the countryside did not have immediate access to deeds nor were they always recorded with the county.[ii]The assessor often relied on those living on the land for their information.

In Morges, though Samuel Oswalt often owned much of the property, the person living on it (most often a relative) often paid the tax.For those who have an interest in the little town of Morges, a compilation of my research by lot, with occupants and owners can be found here. Morges, OH Tax and deed Records. It’s a work in progress; I’ll update it regularly.Briefly, here are my bulleted discoveries. Eight lots are still a mystery.

  • By the 1840’s (a timespan of about 10 years) Samuel Oswalt and John Waggoner, Jr. owned few of the lots.The Fetters (Casper, Joseph, and Jacob) owned 10 lots, Frederick Harple owned 5, John Zengler owned 4, Stephen Rennniar owned 4, and Abraham Fredrick owned 2. (25 of the lots)
  • Samuel Oswalt originally owned (and/or sold) at least 22 of the 37 lots.
  • John Waggoner bought two lots from Samuel Oswalt and likely owned 3 more.
  • I found no evidence that the following individuals listed on the tax records owned lots.[iii]Mathias or Peter Waggoner, Thomas Simonton, Henry Casselman, Daniel Wymer, John Oswalt, Michael Croy, or Jacob Croy, all related in some way to Samuel.

Two WOWS!I found the transfer of land from Jacob Oswalt to Samuel and John Oswalt on November 17, 1827,[iv]along with the transfer of land from John Waggoner, Sr. to John, Jr. on February 25, 1826.[v]Thus the seeds for the town of Morges were sown.

I also discovered the transfer of land from John Waggoner, Jr. to the Bishop of Cincinnati.[vi]This deeded donation was the beginnings of St. Mary’s Catholic Church located in Morges and pictured below.morges

I never found the original Stark County record filed by Samuel Oswalt for the town of Morges, though I found many deeds in which he sold lots to others.The exact page of the entry—“which is recorded in deed book J, page 417, in the recorder’s office for the county of Stark”—was provided in a correction to the town location on August 21, 1832.[vii]But, look as I might on the exact page (and in books I in case I read it incorrectly, I couldn’t find it. Any help out there?Looks like I might need to go to Canton.

I also never located my 3x great-grandfather’s original lot 18 deed. A later deed in which he sells the property for $12 to a John Zengler, recorded on May 9, 1848, indicates it is housed at the Stark County Courthouse[viii], but I couldn’t find it in the on-line records for Stark County found at Familysearch.com. Another reason to go to Canton, I suppose.

I keep finding more and more reasons for that next trip to Ohio. Oh, darn!

[i]As time passed, Bedford County tried to track land ownership by indicating who had a warrant to the land or a deed and who was simply living on the land, a difficult business in the wilds of Pennsylvania in the 1700’s.
[ii]I found examples of deed transfers, sometimes as many as 4 separate transfers with dates from the 1830’s into the 1840’s listed page after page, to complete a transfer of ownership.
[iii]The original Morges deeded record may shed more light.
[iv]Deed Records of Five Ohio Counties; 1809-1902: Columbiana and Stark Counties, Deed Records, V. 51, 1809-1834, pg. 230-234; accessed on-line through familysearch.com
[v]Deed Records of Five Ohio Counties; 1809-1902: Columbiana and Stark Counties, Deed Records, V. 51, 1809-1834, pg. 368-369; accessed on-line through familysearch.com
[vi]Deed Records of Five Ohio Counties; 1809-1902: Columbiana and Stark Counties, Deed Records, V. 51, 1809-1834, pg. 537; accessed on-line through familysearch.com
[vii]Ohio Justice of the Peace, Stark County, Volume 51, page 503; Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 2004; accessed on-line through familysearch.com.
[viii]Carroll County, Ohio, Courthouse Record of Deeds; Vol. 10, 1845-48, page 489; Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1964; accessed on-line through familysearch.com.

Off Line for a While

sling

Due to impingement and tendon repair, I’m taking a typing break for 5-6 weeks. Hunt and peck is not my thing. But before I go, got to love how nerdy excited I am to get this old book. It’s research for the next book in my head and I couldn’t find it on line.

climate book

When I return I’ll be getting ready for the Surrey International Writing Conference in Canada where I’m scheduled for a Blue Pencil Cafe session (a critique of my writing) with Diana Gabaldon! She can tell me anything…it’s 15 minutes one-on-one with Diana Gabaldon.

This short missive took all my concentration. How do hunt-and-peckers do it?