Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blue Ridge Parkway :: Reflections

The air was crisp on Sunday morning. Frost still covered the grass in the shady areas.

What it is, I don't know, but there is “something” about reflections in calm, clear water. An image within an image. Real. Yet not real. Seeing what is or isn't there.

Sunday morning, November 15th.
Julian Price Memorial Park. Blue Ridge Parkway.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday :: Sunrise

Sunday morning, November 15th.
Lenoir, North Carolina.
About 30 miles east of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blue Ridge Parkway :: Brinegar Cabin

The grounds were neatly mowed. The garden was lying fallow. The cabin was locked. Peeking into the windows revealed nothing but empty spaces, except for a large object covered with a sheet. It was likely the loom used in demonstrations during the “prime” visitor season, summer.

The Brinegar Cabin, at milepost 238.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A placque at the top of the hill overlooking the cabin proclaims:
The Brinegars were not famous or rich, but they were important to their families and neighbors. In 1876 Martin Brinegar purchased this 125 acre farm from Henderson Crouse, Caroline Joines' uncle, for $200. Two years later Martin and Caroline were married; he was 21 and she was 16. there were many small communities close by where the Brinegars visited their families and friends, traded for supplies, and attended church and school.

Martin and Caroline first lived in a one-room cabin that was already here. Their three children – Alice, Sarah, and John – were born in that cabin. As the family grew Martin built the cabin that stands here now. Their last child, William, was born in this cabin, but died as an infant.

The Brinegars did all the usual work of living on a farm – raising crops and animals, preserving food, and cutting firewood. Martin also made shoes for his neighbors. He was a local justice of the peace and notary public, and for many years he served as clerk for the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Caroline made clothing for her family and augmented their income by gathering medicinal plants like bloodroot, snakeroot, and black cherry bark and selling them to nearby drug merchants.

In 1925 Martin was caught in a storm on his way home from church and died from pneumonia eight days later. He was 68. The state of North Carolina bought the Brinegar farm in 1935 to become part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Although Caroline had a lifetime tenure to stay in her home, she went to live with her daughter Sarah when it became too noisy here for her. Caroline died in 1943 when she was 82.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Greetings From... North Carolina

In an attempt to evade the wind and rain, I left the Richmond area the morning of Friday the 13th, heading west and south, stopping for the night in the small town of Stuart, Virginia. It had rained off and on during most of the drive. Sometime during the night, the rain finally stopped.

The next morning I awoke to sunshine and blue skies and drove the few miles west to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The good thing about driving the Parkway this time of year is that there are very few other people doing the same. The bad thing about driving the Parkway this time of year is that all the campgrounds are closed as are the visitor centers and picnic areas.

Near Cumberland Knob, North Carolina
From the Blue Ridge Parkway - November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Still in Virginia – but not for long!

After determining the location of Hawksbill Church (which was named after a small river rather than the mountain peak) I headed back into Shenandoah National Park on November 3rd. Two days later (and as many very cold nights) I was at the southern terminus of Skyline Drive. The weather had been rather dreary and the color was gone from the few leaves remaining on the trees. But it was still a very pleasant drive. I didn't hike as much as I would have liked though because it was just too windy and too cold.

I wanted to get out of the mountains and back to the coast. But there were a few stops along the way and Mother Nature would have some say in the matter.

Two main stops were at the Walton's Mountain Museum in Schuyler, Virginia – hometown of Earl Hamner, Jr. and Appomattox Court House. Both sites were interesting in their own way. I was a fan of “The Waltons” from the time it first aired. The exhibits were informative and they had a lot of pictures. At Appomattox, I sat in on a chat with one of the volunteer Rangers and was reminded of bits that I had forgotten and learned a few new things as well. It was the highlight of my visit there.

For the next few days I stayed at two Virginia State Parks – Holliday Lake (near Appomattox) and Staunton River (near South Boston and about 25 miles from the North Carolina Border). On Monday (November 6th), I checked into a motel and learned that Tropical Storm Ida was due to go ashore near Mobile Bay. The wind and rain would be into the Carolinas the next day with the possiblity of 4-6” of rain. I had waited a bit too long before heading south, so I decided to go back north towards Richmond, partially to meet up with my friend TJ (who also happens to be a distant cousin) and then visit Williamsburg and Jamestown, eventually going down the coast of the Carolinas, specifically Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

But Ida changed directions and stalled out and, in the last two days, has dumped 6 inches of rain, more in some places, in southeastern Virginia! Currently (the morning of Friday the 13th) it is still windy in Richmond but the rain has pretty much stopped. Now is probably not the time to take the route I had initially planned so I'll be going back west, towards the mountains and then south, avoiding the flooded areas along the coast.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Something Better than Good

The inaugural edition of the Carnival of Genealogy was published on June 4, 2006 by Jasia at Creative Gene. The topic of the next edition (#84) is “What has the Carnival of Genealogy Meant to You?”

It was early in 2006 that I first “discovered” some genealogists that were blogging. But it wasn't until January 12, 2007 that I finally got the nerve to start my own blog. My second post two days later, with the very creative title of Carnival of Genealogy - food!, was for the 16th Edition, which was on Food & Family Recipes. I felt like I was in over my head, but Jasia was encouraging when she presented the post:
“Let's hear it for good plain food! Becky describes the good plain Midwestern food she remembers from her childhood in Indiana. This is the kind of food many of you will remember from your childhoods too. Fried chicken, homemade pies, and vanilla caramels... yum! Thanks Becky!”
And Thank You, Jasia. For thinking of creating the Carnival of Genealogy, and for your kind words of encouragement to everyone with each new edition. I've said it before, but I'll say it again – the CoG was truly the beginning point of what would become an online community of genealogy bloggers. A community that provided encouragement and praise. For better, or for worse, you can blame (or credit) the existence of kinexxions on Jasia and the Carnival of Genealogy. I wanted to belong to that community, to be a part of something that was good. And I was welcomed with open arms, as others have been since, and it has become something better than good.

In the beginning, the CoG was the means of introducing yourself to other bloggers. If you wanted someone else to read what you had written the best way to get “noticed” was by contributing to the Carnival of Genealogy. It was how we met each other. It was how we got to know each other. With each post published, we shared a little bit of ourselves with everyone else. We laughed together, and cried together. We became friends. Even though I've had the pleasure of meeting only three genea-bloggers in person, I feel like I know so many more of you because of your blogging.

With each new edition of the CoG, I looked forward to the next. What would the topic be? Would I be able to come of up with something worthy of contributing? Not always. It was a challenge and, in my mind, some submissions were more successful than others. But like many thngs, the more we participate, the better we become.

It has been my honor to host two editions of the Carnival of Genealogy. The first time was July 3, 2007 with the 27th edition, whose topic was What America / Independence Day has meant to my family – hosting that CoG gave me a greater appreciation for the time and effort that Jasia puts into each edition of the Carnival. My second hosting gig came along this year, on February 4th, with Come Dance With Me and it was a huge success, thanks to the 50 contributors who shared their Happy Dance Moments with us!

A recent contribution that I really enjoyed writing was The Best Gift – Ever! for the 69th Edition "What if: Rewriting History" which was hosted by Bill West at West in New England.

Earlier favorites, in 2007 editions 20 and 26 were tributes to Women and Dads in which I presented the stories of my mother's parents in Grandma's Story and Grandpa Vic.

According to my records, including this post, I have participated in 56 editions of the CoG (22 in 2007, 22 in 2008, and 12 thus far in 2009). See Kinexxions :: Carnival of Genealogy Contributions for a complete list of CoG posts. Although, for various reasons, I haven't participated as much as I would have liked this year, the Carnival of Genealogy still holds a place near and dear to my heart and I hope to contribute more often in the future.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Search for Hawksbill Church

Monday afternoon (November 2nd) found me back in Shenandoah County, Virginia - specifically Strasburg, Edinburg, and Luray - in search of that elusive church mentioned in my previous post!

On Wednesday (October 25th) I had made a detour from Shenandoah National Park to Luray, known for its caverns. But that isn't why I went there. I stopped at the library and got some assistance from one of the librarians. I was looking for the location of what in the 1700s and early 1800s was known as the Hoxbiel or Hawksbiel or Hawksbill Church. By 1848, when a new brick building was constructed, it was known as Mount Calvary Lutheran Church. The librarian provided a copy of transcriptions of the church register of baptisms and marriages but it was for a much later time period. But in the preface I learned that even though the congregation disbanded in 1959, the church building still existed and that it was located three miles south of Luray. However, none of the library staff knew where it was located.

The first two pastors that served the Hawksbill congregation were J. C. Stoever (Sr) from 1733-34 and J. C. Stoever (Jr) from 1734-42. They were Johann Caspar Stoever and were my 6th and 5th great-grandfathers, respectively. As stated in the previous post mentioned above, the elder man died at sea in 1739 while returning from a fund raising trip to Europe. The younger Stoever was a traveling pastor visiting and serving several congregations, often at the same time, in Pennsylvania (primarily in what was then Lancaster County, which encompassed a great deal more territory than it does today) and northern Virginia. Much has been written of his exploits and troubles regarding his pastorate and conflicts with his fellow clergymen. There is no way that I can possibly condense it all down so it would make sense in a brief blog post. A fairly complete accounting of his life can be found on pages 51-101 in "Stover-Stoever-Staver- Stiver, An Account of The Ancestry and Descendants of Johann Caspar Stoever of Pennsylvania" by Vernon Stiver & Patricia R. Donaldson, Saline, Michigan, 1992.

The fact that the two Stoevers were both pastor of this church was interesting but not too surprising given the fact that it wasn't all that far from Madison and the Hebron Lutheran Church, albeit on the other side of a mountain range! But what intrigued me more was the fact that another ancestor, 5th great-grandfather, Wilhelm Georg Forster aka William Foster, served as the eighth pastor of the Hawksbill Church from 1798-1806. The Stoevers are ancestors on my Dad's side of the family and William Foster is on my Mother's side.

I took the main road south from Luray (Business Route U.S. 340) thinking there might be a sign pointing the way. I got excited when I saw a sign for Hawksbill Primitive Baptist Church, until it sank in that it was a Baptist Church! I did stop at a gas station along the way, but no one there knew anything about Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, which wasn't surprising since it had closed in 1959. For another hour, I aimlessly drove along the back roads of the valley, hoping for some good luck but finding none, and not finding the church.

While staying with my aunt that weekend I spent some time at Panera Bread using their free WiFi (thank you very much – my aunt has dial-up access, sloooow) and found a pdf file which is an application for the National Register of Historic Places and which provided an exact location for Mount Calvary Church. I really wasn't concerned with finding the actual church so much as just wanting to see where it was located. The building itself held no meaning for me since it was built long after the Stoevers and Fosters were there.

To make a long story short, I returned to Luray after I left my aunt's place and found the church, sort of. I briefly saw the building through the trees high on a hill at the base of a mountain on a narrow, winding dirt road where there was no place to stop without blocking the road completely. I did see a dirt road (more like a trail) that led up the hill, but it was deeply rutted and overgrown and there was no way I was going to attempt to drive my van on it. I also chose not to walk up the trail since it was rather remote and rugged terrain. And I didn't get any pictures either. But I did satisfy my curiosity. It was really out in the middle of nowhere. Now and even moreso back then.

While pastor of Hawksbill, Wilhelm Foster also served as pastor of the Hebron Lutheran Church in Hampshire County, Virginia (now part of West Virginia) from 1797-1803. It is located on West Virginia route 259 between Capon Lake and Intermont (Photograph on wikipedia). And yes, I did make the drive and went to see where this church was located.

In 1796, Wilhelm Forster had purchased 289 ½ acres of land located on the "drains of Bauman Mill Run" outside of Strasburg, Virginia. It was from this central location that he served these two congregations. Strasburg is located midway between the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Mountains, just below the northern end of Massanutten Mountain, which divides the Shenandoah Valley.

To get to Hawksbill he had to go over a portion of Massanutten. To get to the Hebron Church in Hampshire County, he had to cross over the Shenandoah Mountains. Both churches are about a distance of 25-30 miles from Strasburg. Over the mountains, through the rivers and forests. A distance that took me far less than an hour to travel probably took him several days. By spending the time to drive through the valley and over the mountains to locate the churches, I gained a greater appreciation for these pioneer ancestors.

Oh, and I also obtained the signature of Wilhelm Georg Forster. It was on the land record where he and his wife Magdalene were selling the land they had purchased in 1796. (Shenandoah County Deed Book Q page 43) They sold the land on July 4, 1807 prior to their move to Fairfield (now Perry) County, Ohio. In 1805 Wilhelm had been appointed as a traveling preacher in the Ohio district known as "New Pennsylvania" which included Fairfield (Perry), Muskingum, Pickaway and Ross counties.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Shenandoah National Park

After leaving the Hebron Lutheran Church in Madison, Virginia I drove south on U.S. 29 to Charlottesville then west on Interstate 64 to Waynesboro where I spent the night. The next day (Monday, October 26th) the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park beckoned me. The first 20 miles were still quite pretty with brightly colored foliage but further north and in the higher elevations, the trees were nearly bare though there were patches of brilliant yellow here and there.

That notwithstanding, the next several days were spent traipsing through the forest (or perhaps I should say, huffing and puffing) on several trails. The weather was not very cooperative with heavy fog and intermittent rain on Tuesday. It gave me an opportunity to catch up on writing blog posts (but I've fallen behind again – can't believe it's been two weeks already).

I was staying in the Big Meadows Campground, not far from Hawksbill Peak (the highest peak within the park) and hiked to the summit on Wednesday. The rain had stopped during the night and the fog had lifted mid-morning. The trail was just 1.7 miles long with only a 500 foot elevation gain, but it sure felt longer and higher!

Wednesday afternoon, I made a short detour out of the park to Luray to try and track down a church where two of my ancestors served (more about that in a future post) then returned to the park and spent the night at Mathews Arm Campground. It was cloudy on Thursday morning and more rain was in the forecast. I took advantage of the offer made by my Aunt in Silver Spring, Maryland and spent the weekend at her place.

10/26 near Bacon Hollow Overlook

10/26 Moorman's River Overlook

10/28 Fog Rising at Fisher's Gap Overlook

10/28 from Hawksbill Summit

10/28 Crescent Rock Overlook

10/29 Gimlet Ridge Overlook

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

John Caspar Stoever and Hebron Lutheran Church

The charming little town of Madison, Virginia lies on U.S. Route 29 about 10 miles south of Culpeper and 25 miles north of Charlottesville. A few miles north of Madison there is a small church that is significant for several reasons. The Hebron Lutheran Church is the oldest Lutheran Church in continuous use in the United States. Built in 1740, it is one of the few wooden churches surviving Virginia's colonial times. The first pastor of the congregation was my 6th great-grandfather, Johann Kasper Stöver aka John Caspar Stoever, in my father's lineage, on his mother's side.

Baptized January 18, 1685 in the Lutheran church at Frankenberg, Hessen (in present day Germany), Johann Kasper Stöver was the son of Dietrich and Magdalena (Eberwein) Stöver. Along with his son of the same name, he arrived in Philadelphia on September 11, 1728 aboard the ship James Goodwill with David Crockett as the ships Master.

Several years earlier, after fulfilling their obligations at the Germanna Colony, a group of German Lutheran colonists purchased land near what would later become the town of Madison. They settled there and carved out lives for themselves and their families. And in 1726, they built a small log chapel along the Robinson River. It wasn't until the spring of 1733 that they were finally able to secure the services of a minister - the Rev. John Caspar Stoever (Senior).

His time as pastor of Hebron, was short - only about a year and a half. But in that time he laid the foundation for the future growth and prosperity of the church. A new house of worship was badly needed. The chapel in which he preached had become too small for the growing congregation and unsuitable for church purposes. The means of his people were limited. After paying their pastor's salary and taxes for the support of the established church, they felt that the burden of building was too great for them to bear alone. It was finally decided to ask for help from their brethren across the seas. Thus it was that in the fall of 1734, Pastor Stoever, Michael Smith (an elder), and Michael Holt (a member of the congregation) were sent to Europe to solicit funds to aid in building a church, establishing a school, and supporting an assistant pastor.

The fund-raising trip was quite successful. Sadly though, on the return voyage to Virginia, in the spring of 1739, Pastor Stoever became critically ill and died at sea. Though constructed in 1740, after his death, the church building is part of the legacy of John Caspar Stoever as is a school built in 1748 - the first school for German speaking colonists in the South – that was used for 100 years.

This historical marker is on the right side of the road when traveling north on the Blue Ridge Turnpike (Virginia Route 231) and is a little south of Hebron Church Road (County Route 638).

The inscription reads “Nearby stands Hebron Lutheran Church. This cruciform church was built in 1740 and is America’s oldest church in continuous use by Lutherans. The congregation was formed by 1725 by German families, some of whom arrived to Virginia in 1717 to work at Germanna, Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood’s frontier mining community. The church was enlarged about 1800 and a pipe organ crafted by David Tannenburg of Lititz, Pennsylvania, was installed. The interior of the church has elaborate frescoed ceilings painted by the Italian born artist Joseph Oddenino. It was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.”

It was on Sunday morning (October 25th) that I was given a tour of the church by its historian, Mrs. Judy Ann Fray. Due to poor timing, I arrived after services were over but was extremely fortunate that Mrs. Fray was still there. And even more fortunate that she was gracious and willing to take the time to show me around.

Hebron Lutheran Church, Madison, Virginia. The parish house is to the right (east) of the church. The cemetery and stone fences date from the early 1900s.

The south side (front) of the church was added between 1790 and 1802. The small platform in front of the church was used for mounting and dismounting from horses and carriages. There are three of them, the one in front and one on each of the east and west sides.

The north side of the church (now the back) was built in 1740.

The pews and balcony on the east side, part of the original church building.

Installed in 1802 and restored in 1970, the Tannenberg organ is still in use today.

The southern side, added between 1790 and 1802. In the balcony area, where the organ was installed, you can see that the church originally had a high barrel-shaped ceiling.

The ceiling was lowered and plastered during renovations in 1850. In 1884, the ceiling was painted by Joseph Oddenino of Turin, Italy. Additional renovations were made in 1961.

History of the Hebron Lutheran Church, Madison County, Virginia from 1717-1907 by Rev. W. P. Huddle, Pastor. New Market, Virginia, 1908. Pages 23-30.

Stover-Stoever-Staver-Stiver, An Account of The Ancestry and Descendants of Johann Caspar Stoever of Pennsylvania by Vernon Stiver & Patricia R. Donaldson. Saline, Michigan, 1992. Pages 11-49 provide an interesting and detailed accounting of the life of John Caspar Stoever, Sr.

Pamphlet published by the Hebron Lutheran Church, Madison, Virginia. No Date.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday :: Marjorie Quillen

September 11, 2009 - Since it was dark the previous day when I went through the charming community of Overbrook, Kansas and because I was now back in the area to photograph tombstones from another nearby cemetery, I decided to see if I could locate the grave of little Marjorie Quillen.

According to an entry on Interment.net, Marjorie died on January 20, 1903 at the age of 14 days. Her parents were Mandella “Della” Joslin and James Downey “J. D.” Quillen. Della was was a sister of my 2nd great-grandmother, Malissa (Joslin) Brubaker. They lived in Overbrook for a few years before moving to Anacortes, Washington prior to 1907. While in Overbrook, J. D. was editor and publisher of the Overbrook Citizen. I wonder now whether any issues of the newspaper exist (on microfilm or otherwise) and if J. D. wrote of the death of his little daughter. For some reason I didn't even think of it while I was in Overbrook. A one-track mind, I guess.

I stopped at the library in Overbrook and asked it they had a publication of tombstone transcriptions. She said no, then when I asked if they had a diagram of the local cemetery, she said yes! And then brought out this huge book, which they called a “census” of the cemetery. Different terminology, but just what I was looking for.

Alas, the diagram of Overbrook cemetery that was published in the book bore no resemblance whatsoever to the various sections as they now exist. The drawing even had the librarian confused. The “census” did show that Marjorie was buried in the old section of the cemetery. The lady I was speaking with tried to tell me where that might be and I think that is the area where I went, but nowhere could I find little Marjorie!

I looked for over an hour, in the hot sun, and I walked up and down all the rows in what seemed like was the oldest section, to no avail. Then off in the distance I could see a young man on a three-wheeler driving down each of the lanes. Attached to the three-wheeler was a weed-eater. He stopped in front of me as I frantically waved my arms at him.

He had the nicest smile. He was very helpful but couldn't recall seeing a stone with the Quillen name on it, but he said he sees so many stones every week and even if he remembered the name he probably wouldn't be able to tell me where it was located. So for perhaps another 30 minutes we both walked up and down the rows, but little Marjorie was not to be found – at least not by me and not on that day.

There was a touching tribute to another little girl, Vivian Butell. She was older, having lived for four years from 1914-1918. I am sure that Della and J. D. would have liked to have left such a monument to their little daughter, but they were not wealthy folk. I envision little Marjorie's marker to be a small one, unassuming and unostentatious. I was somewhat saddened that her grave site wasn't found but that's the way it goes sometimes.

Marjorie wasn't found that day, but I must admit that I was overcome with emotion when I saw the lovely monument to Vivian Butell. The inscription read: Vivian Dau of / Dr. A U & Maud / Butell / 1914-1918

Monday, November 02, 2009

Greetings from... Virginia!

There were really only two directions to go when I left Assateague Island. I could have gone south, crossing the Chesapeake Bay on the 17-mile long Bay Bridge-Tunnel into Norfolk, but instead chose to travel north on U.S. Route 50, crossing the bay at Stevensville and passing by Annapolis.

My first destination was the small town of Madison in northwest Virginia, and second was Shenandoah National Park. To avoid most of the traffic in the Washington, D. C. area I took U.S. 301 south through Maryland and across the Potomac River, then Virginia Route 3 through Fredericksburg.

It had been a nice leisurely drive, for the most part. Cloudy, sprinkled now and then with light showers and the occasional torrential downpour. The latter came just as I was getting into Fredericksburg. It was raining so hard it was nearly impossible to see. In fact, I pulled over to the side of the road for a while until it let up some. Then when I got into Fredericksburg, traffic was tied up with several minor accidents. I later learned that they had gotten several inches of rain in a very short time and that I had just gotten into the tail end of the storm. Lucky me.

Even better, as I got out of Fredericksburg, the rain stopped. The sun came out. The clouds broke up. And blue skies appeared. It turned into a beautiful evening. I stopped for the night at Culpeper, a couple miles down the road from Fredericksburg and just a few miles from my first destination in Virginia - Madison.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Assateague Island :: Adieu

It was with some degree of sadness that I bid farewell to Assateague on Saturday morning (October 24th). It had been so peaceful and quiet the previous four days but when Friday evening arrived so did more people. The campground loop where I was staying, which had been nearly vacant, was now filled with weekend visitors. The spell was broken, it was time to go. Besides, rain was in the forecast for the next few days!

The golden glow of the sunset over the marsh. My last night at Assateague.

Not as colorful as the morning's sunrise had been, but quite lovely. Indeed.