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Two of the Best Blogs for Genealogy, History, and Writing

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“Doing research on the Web is like using a library assembled piecemeal by pack rats and vandalized nightly. ” Roger Ebert

While I always say that I would love to go back in time, I would miss a few important things. A knowledgeable medical community (vaccines, antibiotics, that kind of thing,) ranks at the top of my list, followed closely by warm regular showers. Hard to give up, also, is a gentler, kinder, more equitable attitude toward minorities (think women) and children and a high quality, regular food supply, at least in much of society. But, beyond those essentials, perhaps illogically, I would, if thrown into the past, deeply miss the Internet.

Genealogy, history, and writing consume me of late, (If you call the last three years “of late.”) and the Internet provides me with a “go to” reference library and valuable wellspring of knowledge with which to fuel these passions. The information found online requires the filter of a discerning mind, but real gems abound.

The Library of Congress site stands at the top over all. I use it all the time, especially the pictures on line. But blogs are their own special category, and I keep looking for quality blogs relevant to my interests. The following two blogs rank at the very top of my list for quality, pertinence, and being full of just plain awesome, right-now useable material for genealogy/history and writing.

Number 1 for genealogy/history: “The Legal Genealogist” by Judy Russell It has won numerous awards, and, while heavy into DNA research (which makes me go cross-eyed,) she digs up wonderfully obscure items that deliver a heighten understanding of our ancestors’ worldviews. She was catapulted into favorite because of her last two posts uncovering very cool resources for Massachusetts and Connecticut 17th and 18th century law. Sound boring? Not at all. Check her out.

Number 1 for writing: “Live Write Thrive” by C.S. Lakin It won the top writing blog award for 2015 and almost always gives me the exact information I need at the very moment I need it. She uses regular visiting contributors who expand her blog beyond a single viewpoint, and her “Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing” section excels in providing ways to avoid boring prose. (I’m trying my best.) The hints regarding mechanics come in handy, as well. If you write at all, it is priceless.

What are your favorites?

The Aftermath of Researching the Civil War

Wood Engraving from: Harper's weekly, v. 7, no. 337 (1863 June 13), p. 381.

Wood Engraving from: Harper’s weekly, v. 7, no. 337 (1863 June 13), p. 381.


Is it the way of things that we discover the easier path at the end of a journey rather than the beginning? As in life, also true in research. For the previous six blogs, I searched the net mining the depths of individual records, local written histories, civil war society sites, and records of individual battles. Then, while wrapping things up for this post, I found two sites I wish I had discovered in the beginning.

The first site by the National Archives explains available records and gives an overview of how to proceed with searches, including important disclaimers. I advise you start here. I quote from them here, using it as my own disclaimer for previous Civil War posts and pretty much anything you do in genealogy!

“Do not assume that a particular individual participated in a battle if (1) his unit was at the battle and (2) the person appears likely to have been with that unit. In the War Department’s view, and from a strict adherence to objective information in existing evidence, such an assumption cannot ordinarily be made… military careers are crafted both upon evidence and upon assumptions, with no guarantee that the assumptions are correct.”

Another valuable site from the National Parks Service provides a very user-friendly portal for following regimental movements through the length of the Civil War. You search by your ancestor’s name and up pops information that unfolds detail by detail, and it comes right from the National Archives! The site’s interactive nature saves you the time and energy of reinventing the war.

I say I wish I knew then what I know now (and probably had known and ignored like most humans who begin anything, including life,) but do I? My world is richer for the serendipitous details I discovered on the way. True in research, and infinitely true in life.


As Sherman said, “War is hell.” The aftermath goes to the living. Amazingly, all seven brothers lived, though some not for long. Below find what I know so far from census, find-a-grave, and other documentation. I list the brothers by order of birth and give a brief description of their lives after the war. For a complete family sheet, including the three sisters, check here: Ohio family sheets 1-17-2015

Robert Croy came home to his wife, Emily Gassage Croy, and family in Marietta, Ohio. Within five years of his return Emily died. Less than a year later he married Mary Atkins. Between them they had a son, Arthur. Four years later his oldest son, Stanton died. Robert continued to live in Marietta working as a carpenter and wagon maker like his father. Late in life, he bounced from his daughter Josie’s home in Kansas to the Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. He suffered from heart disease and chronic arthritis. He died in 1908 at the age of 76 in the home of his sister, Fannie Croy Schoonover, in Marietta.[i]

William Croy came home to his wife, Rebecca Hasten Croy and son Anderson. He farmed the land in Decatur Township until nearly 80 and, according to newspaper articles, he and Robert attended Civil War reunions regularly.[ii]

Greer Croy returned to Marietta and married Malona Basim in 1867. They had three sons. Greer named his first child Sheridan after the General who led decisively at Cedar Creek where he was last wounded. His youngest son died of consumption in March of 1872. Six months later Greer died. He was only thirty-four.[iii]

David Croy came back to Washington County and worked as a laborer. He married Mary Moore in 1867. They had no children and, in March of 1877 at age 35, he was dead.[iv]

After his short 100-day service, Nathan returned to work the land of his parents. When he was thirty-one he married nineteen-year-old Ida J. Nelson. They had to children and cared for Mother, Margaret, for twelve years after his father died. Nathan outlived his wife by 27 years and died in 1919 at 73. [v]

Duncan Croy tried his hand at farming for a while after returning from the war, but soon found milling and selling lumber more to his liking. He married Elizabeth Mayhew and had ten children. After moved down river to Pomeroy for a time he returned to Marietta where he died in 1914 at 68.[vi]

After the Grand Review in Washington D.C., Calvin Croy, my great grandfather, spent a brief period of time in Louisville, Kentucky with the 31st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. After his returned he worked as a farm laborer for a while and then headed back to his birthplace in Coshocton County, Ohio. He worked with his uncle, David, who owned a sawmill for a while. He was soon introduced to the coal industry and Sarah Angeline Payne Smith. (I will delve into her family heritage after a little holiday hiatus.)[vii]


The story leaves many questions unanswered, especially how and why Greer and David died so soon. Some indirect information indicates that their father Jacob Croy died of consumption, as did Greer’s four-month-old son. Was tuberculosis passed around in the family? Did the brothers bring it back from the war? Or were they compromised by their war injuries? I hope to find the time and money to get the boys’ pension records from the National Archives. Then, perhaps, the answers to these questions and more may be unlocked.

No matter how complete, these outlines cannot fill in the haunt of memories. We cannot color in who these soldiers became from an outline of incidents. “Strict adherence to objective information” ignores the heart of the matter. But the heart of the matter impacts the fathers, mothers, wives, and descendants down through time.

[i] 1860 census Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; M653_1048; pg: 124 and 1870 census Decatur, Washington, Ohio: M593_1278; pg: 85A and 1880 census: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; roll 1075 pg 79A and 1900 census Franklin, Jackson, Kansas; Roll: 483; pg 6A and find-a-grave for Decatur Prsbyterian Cemetery, Washington County, OH Emily Croy and U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Records of Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives
[ii] 1870; Census Place: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593_1278; Page: 97A; and 1880; Census Place: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; Roll: 1075; Page: 77B; and 1900; Census Place: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; Roll: 1330; Page: 3B; and 1910; Census Place: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; Roll: T624_1237; Page: 3B; and find-a-grave Centennial Cemetery, Washington County Ohio for William P (J) Croy and Rebecca
[iii] 1870 census; Place: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593_1278; Page: 96B and find-a-grave Decatur Presbyterian Cemetery, Washington County, Ohio
[iv] 1870 census; Place: Barlow, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593-1278; Pg: 34B; and find-a-grave Decatur Presbyterian Cemetery, Washington County, Ohio
[v] 1870; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593_1278; Page: 116A and 1880; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: 1075; Family History Film: 1255075; Page: 100B and 1900; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: 1330; Page: 4A and 1910; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: T624_1237; Page: 3B and find-a-grave Decatur Presbyterian Cemetery, Washington County, Ohio
[vi] 1870; Census Place: Belpre, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593_1278; Page: 75B and 1880; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: 1075; Page: 99D and 1900; Census Place: Pomeroy, Meigs, Ohio; Roll: 1303; Page: 6B and 1910; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: T624_1237; Page: 6A and National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934
[vii]  NARA. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 ( T288_105 and 1870; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593_1278; Page: 116A and 1880; Census Place: Keene, Coshocton, Ohio; Roll: 1003; Page: 115C and Jordan Dodd, Liahona Research. Ohio, Marriages, 1803-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2001.

The Newbie Genealogist

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Always a "newbie"

Always a “newbie”

In the same way that most novices enter an undertaking, I delved into the ancestor hunt passionately, hopefully making up for a lack of necessary background, skill, and knowledge. But here I am, two years and easily 2000 hours later, dreaming of a different approach. How would I do it differently? Let me list the ways.

  1. I would start with a good program to record my information. (I actually put everything into my own excel spread sheet to start!) I now use Heredis. It works with Macs and is adequate to the task. I can’t judge it against anything else.
  2. I would become familiar with the Genealogical Proof Standard. I made some errors early on that required some major backtracking. I am more careful now. Avoid my mistakes. Check them out.
  3. I would use Evernote right from the beginning! Sure, here and there I had heard about it. But I was too busy researching to learn a new program. I could track all those printed documents (and pay a fortune in ink) and create all those folders on my Mac, couldn’t I? What was I thinking?!! Evernote is amazing. Mark web sites either in part or completely, include PDF and word documents, write notes to self, and organize them all in notebooks. Check it out at!
  4. I would start a blog earlier. When I started, I thought no one else would really care. I did it to give back after taking so much from the on-line community. But I’ve met a number of truly interesting, and interested, people. They spur me on and help focus my research.

I’m still a novice, but I learn quickly. To see how much I still need to learn, I will attend my first genealogy conference in August. As a retired teacher and educational administrator, I believe in educating myself. At the conference, I will attend a luncheon focused on Quality Research in a Pop Genealogy World…they call me a “newbie genealogist” in the blurb. I thought it might be interesting to see me through their eyes.

Meanwhile, I’m signing off in order to get more organized. And, by the way, would I really have done it differently? Maybe, but that’s history. I don’t think it unfolds without us passionate newbies.

Solving Family Mysteries

While not positive, a likely picture of Gillie V. Morriss Ison, Gabriel Ison, and their child, Bea?

While not positive, a likely picture of Gillie V. Morriss Ison, Gabriel Ison, and their child, Bea?

For me, solving a mystery provides a little rush of excitement and an almost embarrassing sense of accomplishment. As with my last post, I have uncovered a new link to the past and a better understanding of our nation’s history. I now know more about the parents of Gillian Virginia Morriss Ison, my great, great grandmother. I have also uncovered details regarding their children and their background. I’ll get back to that in a moment but first, the process…which is the fun part.

There are numerous suggestions on information byways regarding how to break through genealogical brick walls. Still, it seems, humans (at least this one) learn best through the trials of self discovery. From my recent detective work, I offer these three take-aways.  1. Find kindred spirits in your extended family. 2. Sometimes going through a backdoor takes you to the right room.  3. Place matters! Here is my “Gillie” example.

First, my dear “cousin-in-law” sent a disc including all the pages from a beautiful family history album she created. Included among many treasures that I plan to share at a later date, I found a page from the Ison bible.  bible isonThat led me to where, with birth dates, I filled in some holes in the information about Gillie and Gabriel Ison’s children. It also started me wondering. I had previously research Gillie, born in 1860, with no luck. I wasn’t even sure of her name. Vital records recorded Gillie’s name variously as Gillia Ann Morrison, Gillie V. Morris, and, in an obituary posted on, Gillie V. Morrison. As an aside, the obituary also mentioned that she was born in Rothville, Chariton County, Missouri where a sister and two brothers still resided at that time (no names given.) In a middle of the night epithany, I decided to search Rothville census information narrowing in on the time period she was there, using only the last name Morrison which I was convinced was her maiden name because of the obituary and marriage record. No luck until I tried Morris and searched every variation for 1860, no luck, and 1870…pay dirt! (See how excited I get!) “Gilian Morriss,” daughter of Peter P. Morriss and Eliza E. lived in Chariton County in 1870. The 1860 record listed her as Julie!  In those times it seems that if you couldn’t read or write that you were at the mercy of the hearing and spelling skills of whoever recorded the information. Thus Gillian Virginia Morriss’ name altered into so many different versions over time, even unto her death.

So now we know that Gillian Virginia Morriss, nickname Gillie with a soft “g” sound, was fathered by Peter Philader Morriss (1831-1916) born in Virginia and Elizabeth “Eliza” Ely (1836-1928) born in Kentucky. They married in 1855 at Rothville and had 5 children. I also am researching their parents’ and their children’s history. I will post that information after I exhaust my research which won’t happen until after our Pennsylvania trip coming up next week. Meanwhile,  it may be interesting to note that this is the first of our family that held slaves and had family members that fought on the Confederate side and believed in that cause. Kansas and Missouri were infamous for the “border wars” of the 1860’s and our family would have been either involved or caught up in the events of that time. Check out the two sites below to learn more about that place in time…it matters.

via Chariton County, Missouri – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Chariton County was settled primarily from the states of the Upper South, especially Kentucky and Tennessee. They brought slaves and slaveholding traditions with them, and quickly started cultivating crops similar to those in Middle Tennessee and Kentucky: hemp and tobacco. Chariton was one of several counties settled mostly by Southerners to the north and south of the Missouri River. Given their culture and traditions, this area became known as Little Dixie and Chariton County was at its heart. It was heavily pro-Confederate during the American Civil War.[3]

About Us. Bates County Archaeology regarding Kansas-Missouri Border Wars