Tombstone Thursday

Here is another small collection of tombstone pictures. Please feel free to use these for your own collections if they match up with any relatives you may be researching. The first two photos may or may not be related by marriage to ancestors in my family tree. The third picture is posted for a friend. Hope these may be useful to someone out there!

Eva L Dennison

Eva L Dennison

Eva L. Dennison – wife of Charles Dennison. Died 23 February 1878. Buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Arlington, Vermont.

Harriet Babcock

Harriet Babcock

Harriet Babcock – born 12 Aug 1805 – died 19 Mar 1878. Buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Arlington, Vermont.

Meta B & Floyd C Sniffen

Meta B & Floyd C Sniffen

Meta B. Sniffen 1897 – 1971

Floyd C. Sniffen 1899 – 1944

Buried in Woodlaw Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio.

Photo credit: Noryce Degryse (used with permission of Linda Kruschke)


All Things Oregon

Here are a few websites that I’ve found to be very helpful when researching genealogy in Oregon:

1. Historic Oregon newspapers. This is a free site and searchable. It was mentioned on “Who Do You Think You Are” and has proven to be a great resource.

2. has a large repository of Oregon records. Many are indexed, but I was able to find some significant documents just by going through the scanned images. Scanned images include volumes of deeds, delayed birth certificates, marriage affidavits and consents, marriage certificates, even marriage license medical certificates.

3. Historic Map Works has a number of historic Oregon maps. Many of them identify lots of land by the last name of the owner. I was able to find land that my great grandfather owned in 1929 on this site. Takes a little work, but well worth the effort.

4. Salem Pioneer Cemetery has a searchable database at

5. Links to other pioneer cemeteries in Oregon have been collected at a website put together by Stephanie Flora:

Pioneer Cemetery - Salem Oregon - 1

Pioneer Cemetery – Salem Oregon – 1

Pioneer Cemetery - Salem, Oregon - 2

Kelley Stand

Kelley Stand From the book,

Kelley Stand
Photo from the book, “The Turnpikes of New England,” by Frederic J. Wood (1919).

One of my favorite aspects of genealogy is finding some connection with moments and places in history. Such is the case of Kelley Stand Road situated in the Green Mountains in the beautiful state of Vermont. I feel a real connection with this state. Small in size but big in history and beauty, my research has uncovered the fact that both my parents’ ancestors had a significant presence in this state. In fact, I’ve found several instances when it seems that their ancestors were living just a few miles apart from each other. I find it fascinating that a couple hundred years in the future their descendants would meet and marry while living clear across the country in the state of Oregon.

DSC07528Located in the southern part of Vermont, Kelly Stand Road connects the towns of East Arlington and Stratton. In the 19th century this road served logging camps and settlements. The road was named after a stagecoach inn built and operated by my 3rd great grandfather and his wife – John William Kelley and Lucy Grout Kelley. Nearby is Grout Pond, which I assume is named after the Grout family who operated a logging camp in the area – but I have not been able to find any definitive information on why the pond was named Grout.

John was born in Vermont in 1820 and lived until 1890. Lucy was born in 1823 in Stratton and died in 1906 in East Arlington.  The stagecoach inn is sadly no longer standing, but the road that ran past it continues to bear their name.

In the 1840s, U.S. Senator Daniel Webster gave a famous speech to a large crowd in a clearing on this road. It’s known as his “Kelley Stand Speech.” Somewhere along this road is a historical marker noting the spot where the speech was given.

Kelly Stand Road is an unpaved forest road that is impassible at certain times of the year. But in dryer months it’s relied on to access hiking trails and Grout Pond, as well as serving as a much shorter route between East Arlington and Stratton. Sadly, in 2011 Tropical Storm Irene wiped out much of the road making it impassible. It took the better part of four years to get it reopened in September 2014. I had the joy of seeing some of the road in 2012 when I went on a genealogy tour of the East Coast. The memory of the storm was still fresh in the minds of the local residents. They talked of the prolonged, deafening sound of the boulders rolling down the mountain throughout the long night. It must have been terrifying. Here are a couple pictures of the river that runs along the road as it looked in July 2012. Someday I hope to return and drive the whole length of Kelley Stand Road and maybe even find where the inn was once located. For now I’m content to have seen it in person at all. And in my garden are a few small stones from along the banks of the river that runs beside this little piece of history.

Kelley Stand Road - 1

Kelley Stand Road

Kelley Stand Road - 2

The book, “The Turnpikes of New England” can be accessed online at

Tombstone Thursday

Here are some headstone pictures for the Grout family. These were taken in the Evergreen Cemetery in Arlington, Bennington County, Vermont. Feel free to use them if they’re names in your family tree.

Grout Family Marker

Grout Family Marker

Joel and Marilla Grout

Joel and Marilla Grout

Marilla H. Grout 1897-1982

Marilla H. Grout

Roy Joel Grout 1890-1975

Roy Joel Grout

Roy Joel Grout 1890-1975 (not sure why he has two stones in the family plot)

Roy Joel Grout
1890-1975 (not sure why he has two stones in the family plot)

Josephine Edwards Smith Campbell

Josephine Edwards Smith Campbell

Josephine Edwards Smith Campbell

So much of genealogy revolves around numbers — dates of births, deaths, and marriages; an ancestor’s age at each of his or her major life events; numbers of children in a family; dates of historical events — genealogy definitely revolves around numbers. Unless we’re lucky enough to get access to a family diary or letters we seldom get to hear actual stories about our ancestors. Sometimes bits and pieces of an ancestor’s story will trickle down through a family – when that happens you often find yourself trying to make the facts support the story and using them to fill in missing pieces.

Such is the case of my great great grandmother, Josephine Edwards. She was born in October 1856 in Illinois to Dr. Thomas L. Edwards and Esther Ann Irwin. On March 9, 1875 she married Noah Smith in Muscatine, Iowa. Together they had four children: Lesta Dell, James Clarence, Frank Leroy and Leona Beatrice. Leona is my great grandmother.

By 1895 both of Josephine’s parents had died. In 1900 records show she and 13-year-old Leona were living in Chehalis, Washington. Her husband and sons, however, were still living in Iowa. The story passed down through the decades is that Noah had fallen in love with another woman (Belle Strode) and sent Josephine and Leona away.

SMITH, Noah and STRODE, Belle

Belle and Noah

Leona, who adored her father, was heartbroken. Eventually Josephine ended up in Oregon married to Absolum Campbell. Both are buried in Belle Passi Cemetery outside Woodburn, Oregon.

03/17/18 – When I first wrote this blog I posed a number of questions – just wondering out loud – about what made Josephine move all the way out to Washington. A distant relation pointed out that Josephine had a brother living in Washington. Doing a little more research I discovered that her brother, Llewellyn Marcellus Edwards, and his wife, Lillian Jane (Ruddock) Edwards, were living in Washington. His children were born and raised in various places throughout the state including Chehalis County and Tacoma in Pierce County. This would have given Josephine a safe place to relocate, far away from her Noah.

I still wonder how Josephine survived as a single mother in the early 1900s as a divorcee. I haven’t yet found a marriage record for Absolum and Josephine, but I did discover an interesting connection. Josephine’s sister, Irene, and Irene’s third husband, Thomas Pryor, lived in Missouri where Irene passed away. It seems Absolum and his second wife, Martha, lived in Missouri for at least eight years, from 1870 (US Census) to 1878 (marriage record). It’s totally conjecture that Thomas and Absolum may have known each other. They did, after all, live in counties on opposite sides of the state. But it does make one wonder if somehow there was a connection. I don’t yet know how Absolum ended up going from Missouri to Oregon or how he and Josephine met. Or whether they met in Washington or Oregon.

I still have many questions about Josephine, such as what was life like for her as a shunned and divorced woman on her own with a young teenager to support? What work opportunities were available to her in 1900? How did she survive in those intervening years before she married Absolum? These are questions the likes of which seldom get answered. They’re the kinds of questions that drive us to keep researching in case someday we connect with someone who may have stories, diaries, or letters that will help fill in the missing pieces. I like to think that Josephine was a strong and capable woman who had great survival skills. A woman who made the best of her circumstances and did everything she could to make a better life for herself and her daughter. But I wonder if she ever saw her sons or other daughter again. Did they ever look for her? Did she write them after she left? Did she have a happier life with Absolum? What is the rest of her story?

Leona Jacobs

Leona Smith Jacobs

Weekend Websites

Well, after a weekend spent with out-of-town guests plus seven hours of road travel, tackling a blog seems a bit overwhelming this evening. Tonight’s entry could definitely use a more creative title, but I’m tired and the creative juices aren’t flowing too freely. So, what I thought I’d do is share some websites and blogs that I’ve recently discovered and found very helpful. Hope someone reading this might find them useful too.

Family History Daily wrote a great article on how to search through records that haven’t been indexed and thus aren’t yet searchable. The images themselves ARE available for viewing and can be browsed. It’s a slower process, but I’ve already made some great finds by searching through records on this site:

While helping some friends with their tree this weekend I was directed to a site that deals exclusively with Caribbean genealogy. The site is simply called Caribbean Family History. It leans a little heavy towards Barbados, but it’s free and there’s some really helpful information here and it seems to be expanding:

I also discovered a FaceBook group called The Organized Genealogist – this is a closed group so you need to submit a request to join and see their posts. The group has over 22,000 members – all willing to share tips on how to organize your genealogy. That is their sole focus – organization. I only joined a week ago, but can already see that this site is going to be a great resource.

Finally, one of my favorite sites is the Library of Congress’ project called Chronicling America. This free site lets you search scanned newspapers from around the country dating from 1836 to 1922. I’ve discovered some interesting information just by searching a particular state looking for just a family surname. The website is

Tombstone Thursday

These are pictures of headstones taken in the Evergreen Cemetery located in Arlington, Bennington County, Vermont. Please feel free to copy and use if they match any of your family members.

Joel F. Grout Died 9 May 1905

Joel F. Grout
Died 9 May 1905

Malvina A. Grout - wife of Joel F. Grout Died 15 Oct 1868

Malvina A. Grout – wife of Joel F. Grout
Died 15 Oct 1868

Lillah I. Grout - Daughter of Joel F. and Malvina A. Grout. Died 18 Aug 1882

Lillah I. Grout – Daughter of Joel F. and Malvina A. Grout.
Died 18 Aug 1882

Unraveling the Case of Two Men Named Silas Bliven

My second great grandfather on my mother’s side has provided no end of stumbling blocks. First of all, his name itself is problematic. I believe he was born Theodaty Hiram Bliven. But over the years various documents recorded him as Theodaty Hiram, Hiram Theodaty, Hiram T., T. H. Bliven, and even Theodore. I often wonder if he did not want to be found after he and his wife divorced. But I digress. Today I want to focus on Theodaty’s parents.

On, Rootsweb, and numerous other online trees, I find just as many people listing Silas G. Bliven and Caroline Woolworth as being Theodaty’s parents as I find those listing Silas R. Bliven and Hannah Fisk as his parents. I am now firmly convinced that Silas R. Bliven and Hannah Fisk are his parents. But I do understand the confusion. Take their births for instance:

Silas G. Bliven was born to Theodaty Bliven and Bethany Rogers about 1808 in Allegany County, New York.

Silas R. Bliven was born to Theodata Bliven and Hannah Rogers about 1807 in Allegany County, New York.

However, their lives took very different paths. Silas G. Bliven married Caroline Woolworth and he lived and died in New York. Meanwhile Silas R. Bliven married Hannah Fisk, moved to the Midwest and eventually to Washington State where he died. When Silas R. Bliven died in Washington the index lists his spouse as Hannah Fisk and his child as Hiram T. Bliven.

Theodaty Hiram also moved to Washington State. In 1916, while living in Spokane, Theodaty Hiram Bliven married Ettie Hall after having divorced his first wife, Esther T. Hilton. His marriage certificate lists Silas R. Bliven and Hannah Fisk as his parents. (The certificate is from the Washington, Marriage Records 1865-2004, available at

So, while the confusion with the two men named Silas – not to mention two men named Theodaty and one named Theodata – is understandable, I think the evidence clearly points to Silas R. and Hannah being Theodaty HIram Bliven’s parents. I have many other questions about Theodaty – and about Silas R. – but those are for another blog on another day.

Update 5/29/15: Movaco has just made all the U.S. Census images available online for free. Here’s the link to the 1870 census showing Silas R. Bliven, Hannah, and their children. Here Theodaty is listed as Theodata (possibly the lower part of the “y” is faded out).

WWII Service in India

My maternal grandfather, Roy Bliven, served in India during WWII. He never told stories about his time there – ever. I know almost nothing about it except what I’ve gleaned from a few sparse finds on the internet. From what I have uncovered I can’t begin to imagine the horrible conditions in which they served.

My grandfather did his training at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. The first – and almost only clue – I found online was finding his name on a Christmas program given for the 20th General Hospital. The program can be seen here:

The University of Pennsylvania holds the collection of papers associated with this hospital’s work in India. From their website I learned that the 20th General Hospital was originally formed during WWI in conjunction with the American Red Cross and the War Department. In 1940 the U.S. Surgeon General requested that it be organized again. After two years of preparation in Philadelphia the unit entered active serve on May 15, 1942. The unit trained for eight months at Camp Claiborne and then traveled to Ledo via California and Australia. Ledo was a former railroad bazaar in the Assam region of northeast India. China borders Ledo to the north and Burma is on its eastern border.

According the University of Pennsylvania website, “To reopen communications with the Chinese, General Stilwell chose Ledo as the western terminus of his road into North Burma, to be built with the engineering and organizational skills of General Lewis A. Pick. As a huge military installation sprung up at Ledo, the 20th General Hospital took on the mission of providing medical care for the American-Chinese forces fighting the Japanese in Burma as well as for men constructing the Ledo road.”

That Christmas program is the only connection I have linking my grandfather to the 20th General Hospital – that and my personal knowledge that he served as some sort of medic in India during WWII. The story of the hospital setting up in the jungle during the monsoon season is a story of courage and determination – a story I would love to know more about. I hope someday these records stored at the university will be made available online as it is highly unlikely that I will be able to view them in person.

But I did find one other exciting discovery online that gave me a glimpse into the conditions and environment at the hospital. A site has posted about 16 short films taken during WWII at Assam. Although I could not find my grandfather’s face anywhere in these films, it was exciting just to see where he probably served. These and other WWII archival film footage can be found at

I hope someday somebody will see this who has a relative that served with the 20th General and can maybe give me more insight into life in Assam with the hospital unit – maybe even someone who knew my grandfather. I know this generation is aging fast now and it will be harder and harder to find someone who may have known him, but you never know.

Getting a Seat on the Mayflower

Plymouth - 20

When I started this process of researching my family I never really dreamed that I’d find my way to the Mayflower. That seemed too much to hope for. But early on – and with fairly little effort – I did indeed find that two of my ancestors came to these shores on that most famous ship. Even more surprising was that this line was through my maternal grandfather – a line of which we knew precious little about.

The path looks like this:

Roy Bliven (my maternal grandfather) >> Theodaty Hiram Bliven >> Hannah Fisk Bliven >> Achsah Rowley Fisk >> Jesse Rowley, Jr. >> Jesse Rowley, Sr. >> Elnathan Rowley >> Shuabel Rowley >> Elizabeth Fuller Rowley >> Matthew Fuller >> Edward & (Ann?) Fuller (Mayflower passengers).

It was almost too easy to find this path to the Mayflower. I’m now going through and carefully checking each generation to make sure I can find some type of original documentation to prove each connection – that is certainly easier said then done. I’m toying with the idea of applying to the Mayflower Society if I can pull the documentation together. Fortunately, it appears the society does not require proof of the first and second generation – I suspect because those generations have already had exhaustive research done by professionals. It appears that the question of whether Matthew Fuller was actually Edward’s son remained unresolved for sometime. However, I’ve seen a lot of information that seems to conclude he was. I still need to read the evidence in depth to see for myself what the proof is that they were father and son.  Matthew came to the states several years after his parents arrived on the Mayflower.

I find it sad that no one has ever been able to identify who Edward Fuller’s wife was. Also sad is the fact that neither one survived the first winter. I traveled to Plymouth a couple years ago and was able to photograph the monument/headstone erected to all those pilgrims who didn’t survive the first winter. I’ve read that they were buried in a mass grave so the Native Americans wouldn’t be able to tell how many of their number had died. I need to read more on this.

I’m hoping I won’t discover that I’ve taken a wrong turn anywhere in my research as I go back and retrace my steps and try to confirm each connection – that would be terribly disappointing. But I’m not willing to give my seat up anytime soon…the clues all look too promising to do that!