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The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference: Part 2


It’s the Alamo Gift Shop!

I made a point of walking to the Alamo on my last day at the FGS Conference. My love of history spurred me to document my family’s history, and I certainly wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to explore one of the icons of American history. My first impression was the juxtaposition of scale. I walked out of a shopping mall onto the Alamo grounds. Highrise hotels dwarfed the small church. The whole beautiful Spanish style structure could fit right into the mall I had just walked through. But stepping inside, I sensed isolation and the fragility of this foothold in a growing land.

Meanwhile, back at the conference, I attended a session about military records by Curt B. Witcher of the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center at Fort Wayne, Indiana. He filled my head with a number of different directions to go while researching the seven sons of GGgrandfather Jacob Croy who enlisted in Marietta, Ohio to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War. More than that, Curt’s calm, welcoming demeanor and obvious expertise made me really want to visit the Allen County Public Library someday. I’ve heard fabulous things about it, and now the library is on my list.

Then I tackled Elizabeth Shown Mills, or more accurately, she tackled me. I attended two sessions by this guru of citations and proofing: Sources and Citations Simplified (really?) and Finding Origins and Birth Families: Methods that Do and Don’t Work (or document, document, document.) She outlined the expectations for sourcing, citing, and documenting all your hypotheses and conclusions. I was trying, really trying, to be thorough, accurate, and forthright, but it seems my performance was more what my husband says it is in the kitchen, a little sloppy. Downtrodden, I walked to my next session. As it happened, I sat next to someone who attended the same session. Not wanting to show my hand, I evenly asked, “What was your impression?” Sure enough, “I felt like quitting,” she said. A rush of relief enveloped me. I wasn’t the only one. Now, don’t get me wrong! I get it and so did the person I “interviewed.” Elizabeth’s “simplifications” are clear and valuable. Her very linear outlines of process are excellent. Her publications are sought out, even revered. Find them here, as a starting point. But, has those of you who have followed this blog know, I struggle with the push and pull between accuracy and the breath that brings these people of the past to life. 

Luckily, I hustled over to another session by Lisa Louise Cooke on How to Use Google Earth for Genealogy. She explained how to solve picture mysteries, access historical maps, find homesteads by searching land patents, and making video tours of an ancestor’s life. Now that will engage my family! The joy was back! Get excited at

And finally, I dealt with copyright law at Can I Use That In My Genealogy? What You Should Know About Copyright Law. I became very conscious of this responsibility while attempting this blogging project. As the presenter, Thomas MacEntee, outlined the process of determining what is and isn’t copyright protected, I began to feel a little more confident again. And, yes, human. I know better when to ask permission and know that I need to ask forgiveness here and there, as well. The bottom line: always give credit. I give Thomas MacEntee credit for a great presentation. Find him at He also gave permission for us to share this amazing site for recording your sources, citations, etc. (remember Elizabeth Shown Mills?) I might be able to do this after all. Meanwhile, my family is going to love those Google Earth tours!

The Family became Widely Scattered: Part 3

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Between the Miamis

Between the Miamis

The Patriarch’s Risk: Alexander Huston and the Symmes Purchase

In the previous post I summarized the migration of the Croys of the Will’s Creek community (Londonderry Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.) Now I turn my attention to another community member, Alexander Huston, father to Mary Huston and Sarah Huston who were my 4x great grandmothers.

In the excitement of the time, sometime before 1799, Alexander bought land in Ohio between the Big and Little Miami Rivers from John Cleves Symmes. His sons, Samuel, Edward, and John, along with John Devores (Devor/Devore,) all neighbors in the Will’s Creek community, bought land through the Symmes’ land company as well. Each name appears on the Memorial to Congress from Citizens of the Territory dated October 22, 1800. [i]

This petition pleaded that Congress allow the undersigned to maintain rights to lands that Symmes sold illegally. Through poor surveying and villainous behavior, he sold lands north of the tract he had purchased from Congress. The petitioners discovered this in June of 1799, after “Many of us migrated with our families immediately after the termination of the Indian War under all the disadvantages incident to such a crisis, since that, much of the money remaining after payment for our lands has been expended, and the whole of our labour employed in clearing the wilderness, and making such other improvements as the wants and conveniences of Society require…”i

Rather than labor inadequately to give you background into the Symmes Purchase, I refer to an excellent resource.i—what-can-we-do-list-names Not only does the site provide superior documentation of this petition but outlines strategies for researching history in general. Elizabeth Shown Mills has created a series of “Ouick Lessons” that are excellent.

By the time of the petition in 1800, Alexander and his sons had likely moved to their new homes but had not yet broken connections with the old ones. While they all still appear on Pennsylvania’s Septennial Census results,[ii] John Devore and Alexander Huston do not appear on the Federal Census for the same year.[iii] Had they gone ahead to maintain their claims while waiting out the Congressional action regarding their petition, make improvements and preparing this new frontier for their families? The journey entailed traveling overland to the Ohio River and floating down river on flat boats to the mouth of the Miami. One can only imagine the dangers they faced. We do know that Alexander died in Montgomery County between the 4th and 28th of February, 1814. His death precipitated two petitions over the next 20 years. These disputes provided us with much that we know about the closely connected Croy, Oswalt, and Huston families.[iv]

Alexander’s other sons, Andrew and Alexander Jr., stayed in Bedford County.[v] But David Huston with wife Rebecca Oswalt, Rachel Huston with husband Isaiah McClish, Sarah Huston with husband Jacob Oswalt II, and Mary Huston with husband Jacob Croy moved north to what would soon become Columbiana County in Ohio. Certainly, the prospects of a new fecund land teeming with the hope of prosperity drew them there. But for Mary Huston, Ohio Territory would reap tragedy and test her strength of spirit and fortitude; genetic traits future generations employed again and again. That story comes with my next posting.

[i] Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 14: Petitions—What Can We Do with a List of Names?” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage  (—what-can-we-do-list-names  [access July 2, 2014])
[ii] Septennial Census Returns, 1779–1863. Box 1026, microfilm, 14 rolls. Records of the House of Representatives. Records of the General Assembly, Record Group 7. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, PA. Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
[iii] Year: 1800; Census Place: Cumberland Valley and Londonderry, Bedford, Pennsylvania; Series: M32; Roll: 36; Page: 418; Image: 62; Family History Library Film: 1800 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
[iv] See probate record attachment Alexander Huston wills
[v] Year: 1800 & 1810; Census Place: Cumberland Valley and Londonderry, Bedford, Pennsylvania; Series: M32; Roll: 36; Page: 418; Image: 62; Family History Library Film: 1800 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.