WEEK 25: The Old Homestead – Sparta, Wisconsin

This week’s 52 Ancestors‘ theme is “The Old Homestead.”

Sometime around the early 1960s, Eldon and Harriet Dutton purchased a large Queen Anne-style Victorian home located on the corner of Franklin and Belton Streets in Sparta, Wisconsin for themselves and their 10 children. Over the years, the Dutton family celebrated graduations, weddings and the birth of grandchildren in that house.


After the children were grown, and had families of their own, Eldon and Harriet sold the home. Decades later the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, renovated and was turned into a bed and breakfast.

A few years ago, Eldon and Harriet’s three daughters decided to spend a night in their old home. They even stayed in their old rooms.



WEEK 24 – Dad’s Arrowheads

My Dad had a small collection of arrowheads that he had since he was a boy. I would make him show them to me and loved to listen as he explained that Indians had actually carved the small rocks into points, tie them on branches, and used them as their arrows and spears for hunting. It amazed me that I was touching something that someone had made hundreds of years ago. Earlier this year, my Dad was moved to a nursing home for patients with Alzheimer’s. So, when my mom asked if I wanted my Dad’s arrowheads, i immediately said, “yes.” They are a precious heirloom to me, not only for the historical value, but also for the memories of listening to my Dad explain what they were, and how he had found them. They also fit in nicely with the theme of this week’s 52 Ancestors challenge is “heirloom.”

My Dad grew up in the city. He was raised with his older brother and younger sister in northwest Philadelphia. One of the things he always looked forward to every summer, was escaping the city and traveling north with his family to visit cousins of his mother in Laceyville, Pennsylvania. My Dad had many fond memories of visiting the O’Mara farm, which used to belong to his great-aunt, Mary O’Mara and her husband, John and passed down to their children.

My Dad (in the middle) with his Uncle Albert, cousin Al, Jr., his mother, Emma and his brother, Daniel.

My Dad (in the middle) with his Uncle Albert, cousin Al, Jr., his mother, Emma and his brother, Daniel, on one of the family trips to the O’Mara farm in Laceyville, PA.

My Uncle Dan and his catch.

My Uncle Dan and his catch.

Dad riding a pony at the O'Mara farm in Laceyville, PA.

Dad riding a pony at the O’Mara farm in Laceyville, PA.

My Dad loved roaming the wide open fields with his brother, Daniel and fishing in the nearby pond. And my Dad also got to ride a pony, something that inspired him to get his own horse when he became an adult.

Nearby, was a scenic overlook known as the Wyalusing Rocks. The rocks are almost 500 feet above the Susquehanna River. The rocks were also known as the “prayer rocks” and were used by the Indians as a signaling point. Some of the tribes that had lived in the area were the Susquehannock and then later the Tuscarora, which was a tribe of the Iroquois Indians. My grandfather, who was quite the shutterbug, liked to go there so he could capture some of the scenery on film. My dad like to explore the rocks and the Indian path.


It was here that my Dad found his arrowheads. No doubt they were left behind by someone who had been standing as a lookout hundreds of years before. Dad came home with 5 arrowheads on that trip. My grandfather built him a shadowbox frame and lined it with green felt, and they glued the arrowheads on that.

hope my Dad would be happy knowing that his childhood treasures will be with me. I intend to get them into a new frame and display them on the bookshelf we have in our family room.


WEEK 23: Mom and Dad – their wedding photo

The theme for week 23 of the 52 Ancestor Challenge is “wedding.” These days, my parents are in my every thought. My Dad is suffering from late stages of Alzheimers, and may not be with us much longer. So, I have decided to honor both him and my mom with in this week’s post.

There was a place in Philadelphia back in the 1950s called ‘Al’s Riding Academy.” It was a place near Fairmont Park, where Philadelphia residents could own and board their horses. A young woman named Lorraine, boarded  her bay gelding named ‘Kandy” at Al’s.  He was named after the popular snack cake, “Kandy Kakes” produced by local bakery, TastyKake, which is where Lorraine had been employed. In a stall next to Kandy, was a big pinto gelding named “Davy Crockett.” Davy was owned by a young man named Jim, who obviously was a fan of the latest blockbuster of the day. Not only did Kandy and Davy become good friends, but their owners did as well.

Jim and Lorraine eventually married on June 20, 1959 at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia. Many of their friends from Al’s Riding Academy were guests at the wedding, including their friend, Gene O’Neill, who served as the best man.

Jim and Lorraine had two children, and moved to Lehighton, PA where they bought a small farm and raised Arabian horses. The farm was sold several years ago, and is no longer standing. However, Davy Crockett is still buried there, at the top of the hill under the apple tree, where he used to hang out and eat apples to his heart’s content.

WEEK 22 – Eldon Dutton and the commencement of generations.

I am behind on my 52 Ancestors post, because I was out of town to attend a high school graduation. Ironically, the theme for last week is “Commencement.”

However, I was stuck on who to write about as far as “commencement.” So, I decided to search through Ancestry’s U.S. School Yearbooks collection to find some inspiration. I discovered  the yearbook of my husband’s grandfather, Eldon W. Dutton.


Eldon was part of the 1939 graduating class of Sparta High School in Wisconsin. His profile said that his nickname was “Red” and that he was a participant in “Jefferson 1″ and “Oratory 2.”

Eldon enlisted in the Navy on April 2, 1940. He was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1944, and survived. I will save that story for another day. He went on to serve in the Navy throughout  World War II. After his discharge, Eldon returned to Sparta and settled on a farm with his wife, Harriet and started a family of 10 children.

What immediately struck me when i first opened up the page of Eldon’s yearbook photo, was that I could tell who he was, even without looking at his name. I could swear that I was looking at the photo of my stepson.

This immediately prompted me to dig up a photo of another commencement taken only last year to compare the resemblance. It is also a photo deemed to be a classic for future generations, not only because it includes 3 generations (my husband, his son and his father), but also for my father-in-law’s exceptional photo bombing skills.


Francis Vincent Logue who served in World War I. Original photo privately held by Kathy Ender, Hilton Head, SC. Scanned and emailed to Patricia A. Rohn.

WEEK 21: Francis Vincent Logue – World War I

Memorial Day was this past week, so this week’s 52 Ancestor’s theme is “Military.”

I had recently discovered that my grand uncle, Francis Vincent Logue, served during World War I. He was the eldest child of Michael and Elizabeth (Donnelly) Logue, born on September 9, 1894 in Philadelphia, PA. He was baptized at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church on September 23, 1894. His godparents were his father’s siblings, Bernard and Mary Logue.

In 1917, the United States had entered World War I. However, at the time, the United States Army was small compared with their European counterparts. So the Selective Draft Act of 1917 was initiated, authorizing the government to draft young men to raise an army to go fight in Europe. All males between the ages of 21-30 were required to register for military service.

Francis was 22 years old at this time, and registered. At the time, he was employed at Midvale Steel in the Nicetown section of Philadelphia as a stock accountant.

005270445_04829He was assigned to the 112 Signal Corps, 37th Division and sent to France. His aunt, Catherine “Kate” Logue, was also in France serving with the Army Nursing Corp. The two had never seen each other while serving in France. However, they were very close and in some cases in the same area. One time, Francis had come down with influenza while in Nantes, France and was sent to a hospital ward there. His Aunt Kate was working in the same hospital, and was unaware that he was there until after his discharge.

World War I ended on November 11, 1918. Francis sailed home on the George Washington in March of 1919. He was honorably discharged on April 11, 1919. He went back to live with his parents at their home on Wentz Street in Philadelphia, PA. He got a job as a clerk at the furniture warehouse that his father was also working at.

In 1928, he married Marie R. Collins. They had one child (who is still living). Francis and Marie lived for a short time on Walnut Street, but then eventually they and their child moved back with his mother on Wentz Street. His health was poor since he returned from the war. He had chronic asthma, blamed on the use of mustard gas in the war.

Francis died on March 19, 1941 at his mother’s home from bronchial asthma. He was aged 46. He is buried in the Philadelphia National Cemetery.

WEEK 20: Margaret DeGarmo – Black Sheep Mama

I’ve been busy traveling and visiting with family this month which has put me a little behind on my 52 Ancestors posts. So I’m attempting to get caught up.

This theme for Week 20 was “Black Sheep”. I had already blogged about the most prominent “black sheep” in my husband’s family, James Peter Larry. But how did he get that way? This week, I take a look at his parents, specifically his mother, to see if bad blood really runs through the family.

James’ mother was Margaret “Peggy” DeGarmo. She was born around 1806 to Samuel DeGarmo and Elizabeth Grimes, and grew up in Randolph, Virginia.

It appears that Peggy had 3 children out of wedlock in her early 20s, which must have been scandalous in its day. They were Cushing DeGarmo, born 1825; Angeline DeGarmo, born 1833;  and Jacob DeGarmo, born 1836. All 3 children were born in Virginia.

At some point between 1836 and 1838, Peggy and her 3 children moved to Perry County, Ohio. She had a brief relationship with Peter O’Leary, and had one child; James Peter Larry. It is not known if she had ever married Peter O’Leary. But there’s a story that he ended up being incarcerated for murder. Again, this is a story not proven.

Finally, Peggy settled down with Thomas Downey. They married in 1853 in Perry County, Ohio. However, Thomas and Peggy had about 6 children born before they were married: Elizabeth, born 1840; Margaret, born 1841; Prudence, born 1843; Mary, born 1845; Eli, born 1846; and John, born 1850.

Thomas Downey died around 1858 in Ohio. After his death, Peggy moved to Vernon County, Wisconsin with most of her children. She could be found in the 1870 Census living near her children: Eli, Prudence and Elizabeth, who had all married and had children of their own. There were 2 grandchildren living with her, Isaac and Sarah DeGarmo. They were the children of her eldest son, Cushing DeGarmo, who was killed in the Civil War.

Two years later, Peggy DeGarmo Downey, mother of 10, died in Liberty, Wisconsin.

WEEK 19 – Augustus Hettig and how he found a way

The family story goes that my great, great grandfather, Augustus, was 17 years old in 1867 and was faced with having to mandatory service in the military. Not wanting to serve, he apparently found a way to escape it, and came to America instead. So, he is the subject of Week 19 of the 52 Ancestor Challenge, in which the theme is “There’s a Way.”

Unproven facts say that Augustus was born about May 27, 1850, in Leipzig, Germany. His true name is not known, but some family members think it might have been Leppart.

The Austro-Prussian War was taking place around this time frame. The Kingdom of Prussia formed the North German Confederation with allies, and took control of government, military and foreign affairs. Mandatory military service was being enforced by the Prussian government.

For whatever reasons, Augustus did not want to be forced to enter the military and be forced to go to war. So, he made his way to the port at Bremen and was said to have stowed away on a ship that was bound to America. On the ship, he had befriended a family with the last name of Hettig, who took Augustus under their wing. Augustus went on to live with this Hettig family and took on their last name and he was known as Augustus Hettig ever since.

I had discovered that Augustus did in fact, live with a Hettig family. I found him at the age of 20 living in the 1870 Census with Valentine and Sofia Hettig in White Haven, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Valentine and Sofia had 3 other sons living with them: Alvin, age 12; Lewis, age 10; and Otto age 7.

HETTIGValentine_nat2Luzerne County did not have naturalization records for Augustus, but they did have them for Valentine. These records indicated that Valentine had come to America on June 5, 1867 in New York.


A search of the passenger records confirmed this. Valentine Hettig, his wife Sofia and their sons, Alvin, Lewis and Otto were found on the passenger arrival records on the Baltic, which arrived on June 5, 1867.  There no SSBalticPassengerAugustus “Hettig” listed. However, right under Valentine Hettig and his family, was an “Aug. Schnabel, age 17.” Could this possibly be my great, great grandfather? Is this how he had found his way to America and his new life?

Someday, I hope to learn more and find an answer to that question.






  1. Friday, November 3, 1933; page 6, col 5. Obituary for August Hettig., The Otsego Farmer, Cooperstown, New York.
  2. Ancestry.com, 1870 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1870; Census Place: White Haven, Luzerne, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1365; Page: 393B; Image: 57; Family History Library Film: 552864. Record for August Hetick.

  3. Luzerne, Pennsylvania, Petition record, Valentine Hettick..; Luzerne County Courthouse, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

  4. Year: 1867; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 280; Line: 11; List Number: 528




It has been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything about my participation in Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over. That is because it has been keeping me so busy, that I have not been able to drag myself away to post an update about my progress. But I wanted to take the time to write gush about how this has been such an eye-opening and re-vitalizing experience this has been for me

First of all, I had realized that I had some of the holes my research and documentation when I started back in 1990. Documents concerning information on my own grandparents are a perfect example. I’m sure my mindset back then was, “Well, I knew Grandmom, I know what dates she was born, I have copies of her death certificate and marriage certificate. All the spaces are filled in on the family group sheet. I can move on.” However, when I looked at Grandmom’s death certificate, and began to ANALYZE the information on there, I discovered something that could potentially baffle any future researchers. I remember that my grandmother died in Virginia, where she was living with my aunt. She was cremated, and my aunt and her uncle drove her ashes up to my hometown in Pennsylvania, so that she could be buried alongside her parents in the family plot. I was there for the memorial service and I also remember visiting the cemetery once and seeing where she was buried. However, her death certificate from Virginia does not indicate any burial for her, since she was cremated. If a future researcher saw this death certificate, they would never know that her ashes were then actually buried in Pennsylvania. So, I knew that I would need to get some documentation to support my firsthand knowledge. So on my to-do list for my next trip to Pennsylvania, will be to stop at the cemetery office for information on her burial, get a photo of her headstone (which I never, ever had) and also stop at the library to get a copy of her obituary, because I had never had a copy of that either.

I had also discovered that there was a discrepancy in the date of birth of my great grandfather. I had always had his birthdate as April 16, 1882, because that was what was stated on his death certificate. However, on a church baptism record that I had found on Ancestry.com, his date of birth was listed as April 25, 1882. However, his baptism took place 2 years after his birth. So, coming to a conclusion as to what his true birthdate is, will need more analysis. And, truth is, I may never find certain proof that one date is the true date over the other.

Screen shot 2015-05-10 at 8.39.16 AMAnalyzing each document is probably the biggest change for me. I use Family Tree Maker as my base for keeping all my data. In addition to properly citing the source within the program, I’ve also learned to utilize the “Notes” feature more within the program to transcribe the information of each source I find. This was a tip that I had picked up from watching a youtube video by Crista Cowan of Ancestry. I cannot begin to tell you how eye-opening that has been. I think I’ve discovered new, little facts that I have not noticed before, for ancestors that I had felt I had all bases covered.

I’ve also decided to take on learning Evernote as a support tool for my research. As I mentioned, I use Family Tree Maker as my primary tool to keep all my family research data in. However, I feel that I also need a research log and correspondence log, just so I can keep track of what I had researched already, and who and where I had written to to get church records, court records, etc. This was something I had actually started doing back when I first started in 1990, however I wrote them on paper log sheets that I had purchased from Ancestry back in the early 90s, before they even had records online. But, I wanted to start keeping online logs, because I felt there wasn’t much room on the paper ones for notes. I tried to utilize the “task list” on Family Tree Maker, but I felt that feature wasn’t working for me like I had wanted it to do.  I was inspired to try Evernote after attending a genealogy conference back in March. I found some templates online, and used those to craft my own. I am so far happy with the results. I also use Evernote to create my research plans.

Screen shot 2015-05-10 at 10.40.48 AMI just want to note that I use Evernote as support, and it is by no means what I use to store my family history. I just use it to keep track of when and where I got my information as well as places I had searched and did not find a single thing. It helps me to not only know to not look at that place again, but also helps me when I cite my sources. I also know that many people are not familiar with computers and learning a new software program is very intimidating. There is nothing wrong with keeping track of such things on paper sheets. There are many sites where you can download those for free. The whole point is that you are keeping track of where and when you are getting your information from. Just do it the way you feel most comfortable doing!

One of the points covered in Thomas’ blog for week 6 is Online Education options. I have been looking into these before this week. There is so much out there and so much material covered. I will typically listen to a podcast or just listen to a youtube video while I’m at work. They’re always easy to stop and back up again if you find yourself interrupted or you just want to listen to one part again. I highly recommend Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems podcast, Ancestry’s Crista Cowan’s Barefoot Genealogist on YouTube, and DearMyrtle on YouTube. In fact, YouTube.com, in general, has a WEALTH of information on there if you do a search for “genealogy.”

I also recommend checking out your local genealogy and/or historical society. Last winter, I had felt like I was in a rut with my research and felt I needed new tactics. I discovered the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society’s website and was pleased to find that they were having a conference in Madison, WI, where I live. I attended in March, and it was definitely worth the time and money. It was exactly what I needed to get out of my rut. Not only do you benefit from great speakers, but you can meet other genealogists and talk to them about methods, strategies and just genealogy in general. In fact, it was there that I had learned about Genealogy Do-Over.

Since then, I had also bought a membership to the society, where they hold free live webinars once a month (last month Thomas was the featured speaker), and members have access to previously held ones. So, my plan is to keep continuing to educate myself on the genealogy proof standard, analyzing evidence and citing my sources through the online sources I had discovered in the past few months, as well as a few new ones that were listed in Week 6’s blog post.

Michael C. Logue, b 1871 in Allentown, PA. D. 1921 in Philadelphia, PA. Original photo in possession of Kathy Ender, Hilton Head, SC. Scanned and sent to Patricia Rohn.

WEEK 18: How my great-grandmother’s will solved the mysterious disappearance of Michael C. Logue

“Where there’s a will…” is this week’s 52 Ancestors theme. I have chosen to write about how a will broke through a brick wall for me. I remember it with such clarity, because it was this that made me realize how important will and probate records can be to genealogy research.

When I first started researching my family tree back in the 1990s, I could not find out much about my great grandfather. I knew his name because it was listed on my grandfather’s birth certificate. I asked my dad about him, and he said he never knew him. He said that he thought that he left my great-grandmother and their 8 children, and was never heard from again. And this was “back in the day” before there were ANY online records and I had to solely rely on good old fashioned renting microfilm at my local Family History Center and  letter writing. So finding out what happened to Michael seemed very bleak.

I discovered a little bit about him by looking at microfilm of census records and other family vital records. The 1910 Census was the latsest census available to the piblic at that time. That record indicated he was born about 1871 in Pennsylvania. My grandparents’ marriage application in 1926, listed him as father of the groom, and was “dead.”   From there, I assumed that Michael may have died between 1910 and 1926.

I found the 1893 marriage application for Michael and his wife, Elizabeth Donnelly on a roll of microfilm for Philadelphia Marriage records and that he was a furniture salesman. On that, Michael stated that he was born in Allentown, PA. That clue led me to ordering the microfilm 1880 Census for Allentown, where I found him living with his parents, Manus and Ann Logue on Liberty Street in Allentown. I wrote to the Catholic church that was right across the street from the address I found in the Census, and they were able to provide me with not only Michael’s birth and baptism, but also the names, and birthdates of his siblings.

I found out almost everything except his date of death. The time period I had it narrowed down to was still too broad and having vital records do a search for me during 1910 and 1926, would have cost me an arm and a leg.

I had lots of information on Michael’s wife, Elizabeth too. Up to that point, I felt that a copy of her death certificate was sufficient enough. I knew all of children, so I felt that I wouldn’t really need a copy of her will. I’m not sure what prompted me to change my mind, but one day in 1995, I sent off to request to the Philadelphia Register of Wills, for a copy of Elizabeth Logue’s records.

Almost 2 weeks later, I received a very thick packet from Philadelphia. I had not expected to learn much from this package, so I was so surprised that one one page, was the answer to the question that I had been searching for.


I could not have filled out that form to request the death record from Pennsylvania any faster! When I received the death record, I discovered that his residence was listed as Wentz Street, Philadelphia, which is where he resided in the 1910 Census, and also the house I knew my grandfather grew up. He had passed away of prostrate cancer, while still living with his wife and children. So not only did my grandmother’s will solve the mystery of when Michael Logue died, but also laid to rest that he had abandoned his wife and children.

WEEK 17 – 2015: Michael E. McDonald

MichaelMcDonaldFrom humble beginnings of the son of an immigrant coal miner to becoming an attorney and state senator; the story of Michael E. McDonald is certainly an excellent example of someone who prospered in life. And since “prosper” is the theme for this week’s 52 Ancestor challenge, I chose my 2nd cousin, 3xs removed to write about.

Michael was born September 26, 1858 to Thomas and Bridget (Hughes) McDonald in the small town of Hawley, Pennsylvania. His father, Thomas, had come to this country from Ireland around 1816 and settled in Hawley. He met and married Bridget Hughes and started their family. When Michael was about 4 years old, his parents moved the family to Dunmore, PA which is located close to Scranton. His father was employed by the Pennsylvania Coal Company and worked there for many years. Michael, also worked in the mines when he was old enough to do so, as an apprentice moulder.

The Scranton Tribune had credited Thomas McDonald in his obituary, as one of the pioneers of Dunmore. He was very active in the borough activities. This obviously had a positive impact on his son, Michael. In the 1880 Census, Michael, age 21, was still residing with his parents (listed as Thomas McDonnell), 4 sisters, 3 brothers and a cousin. Michael’s occupation was “life insurance agent.” However, an interesting note is that the enumerator for this census was “M.E. McDonnell.”

Michael was educated in the Dunmore and Scranton school system, before continuing his education at the Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, PA. He became interested in law and eventually completed a course in law and was admitted to the bar while working at the law offices of Lemuel Amerman.

From there, Michael became active in the Democratic party and served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1887-1889. He was elected as a State Senator of Pennsylvania and served from 1891-1893.

On November 23, 1892, he married Martha Louise Mellen. They had 3 children: Randall, Maurice and Martha. Two other children had died at a very early age.

“Senator” McDonald continued to be involved in Scranton and Lackawanna poiltical affairs up until the time of his death. He died suddenly on November 28, 1921 at his home at 440 Madison Avenue, Scranton. He is buried in the Cathedral Cemetery in Scranton.


  1. The Scranton Republican (Scranton, Pennsylvania) at Newspapers.com, 29 Nov 1921, page 2. Obituary for Michael E. McDonald.
  2. Year: 1880; Census Place: Dunmore, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1137; Family History Film: 1255137; Page: 136C; Enumeration District: 030; Image: 0665. Record for Thomas McDonnell.
  3. The Scranton Tribune (Scranton, Pennsylvania) at Newspapers.com, 2 Feb 1901, page 8. Obituary for Thomas McDonald.