Thursday, July 26, 2012

Update from GRIP

I'm behind with posting but with good reason. Yesterday's classes were Intense. Yes, with a capital "I" and they were also Interesting, Informative and Mentally Exhausting.

I was up late last night (as were most other classmates in the Advanced Research Methods with Tom Jones). In addition to a full day of classes yesterday (please go read Chris Staats' post about yesterday's classes and wish him a belated happy Anniversary while you're there) we had a homework assignment. We had no idea how hard it was going to be, but that look of glee on Dr. Jones' face when he gave us the 8-page handout should have been a clue!

I do enjoy a challenge but this was something else. There were abstracts of 16 tax lists, 3 census records, 12 deeds, 4 wills, 2 guardian records, 2 marriage records, and a Revolutionary War Pension affidavit that we had to review, analyze, and try to determine the father of a man from 5 other men with the same surname!

But before tackling the homework I decided to attend the presentation by Rick Sayre on Pennsylvania Research, which was good but he quite a bit of time on Pittsburgh records. I would have liked to have heard more about statewide records.

After returning from the presentation, I spent 4 hours working on the homework assignment. At that point, I still hadn't reached a conclusion but my head was hurting and my eyes were burning so I turned in for the night. Less than half an hour later an idea popped into my dull brain and I "had" to get up and work on the problem before I lost my train of thought. Yes, the answer had come to me. A short time later I was back in bed sound asleep. I didn't even hear the storm that came through that many were talking about today.

I worked on the problem for another hour (consolidating my thoughts and trying to come up with some idea of how to "defend" my conclusion) before heading off to class. Dr. Jones went through the list of possible fathers, one at a time, asking those who thought it was a particular man to raise their hand. When he got to "William" the hands of about 2/3 of the class shot up. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach since he wasn't my choice! When the name of the one I had chosen came up only 3 of us raised our hands.

A minute or so later, Dr. Jones announced that there were 3 "A" students in the class! I had gotten it right! To say that I was ecstatic is an understatement... So, I'm giving myself a little pat on the back and tooting my own horn a bit too. I must say, it felt awesome.

It's been another full exhausting and enlightening day, and we're almost caught up with the syllabus. Tomorrow is the last day with only half a day of classes. It's been an amazing experience and I am so glad that I was able to come.

I'm sure that Chris will be blogging about today's classes as will classmates Shelley Bishop at A Sense of Family and Christy Webb at the Geeky Texan. Also Denise Levenick, the Family Curator, has also been blogging about the Intermediate class she is taking.

This will likely be the last post from GRIP... I've got to get busy on the homework for tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

GRIP :: Day 2 of Classes

Tuesday - July 24th - This was our "variety" day.

First up was Tom Jones with Transcribing and Abstracting documents. I've done more than a little transcribing of wills and deeds but now realize that I haven't always been doing it quite right. The main thing is to take your time and refer to helpful references for unfamiliar terminology.

One of the recommended references was the 4th edition of Black's Law Dictionary. Why the 4th edition? Well, after that edition was published in 1967 the next and subsequent editions had to purge some of the old terminology to make room for the new! A paper copy of one of the earlier editions may be hard to come by and rather expensive. If you Google "black's law dictionary 1st edition" you'll find several online versions. This site has links to the individual pages that have been scanned, but also has a full download of the scanned version - but be aware that it is a very, very, very large download.

Abstracting documents has always been rather tough for me. It's hard to decide what to leave out, especially when the document has rather colorful spelling. But it really comes down to eliminating the non-essential terminology to get to the basic information it provides. Dr. Jones said "If in doubt, leave it in." It isn't an exact science although there are some "rules" to follow.

After a short break, Claire Bettag, talked about Archival Research highlighting the differences between an Archive and a Library and the types of collections they have. She also discussed the how you find materials in each - Libraries have Catalogs and Archives have Research Guides that define the various record groups and what they contain. Of course, there was far more to it than just that!

The first session after lunch gave us Rick Sayre on Military and Pension Records. Then Clair came back to discuss various types of Government Documents (aka "Gov Docs") and where to find them. And we got our first homework assignment... thankfully it wasn't difficult.

As if a full day of classes wasn't enough, I went to the "Google Earth" presentation by Rick and Pamela Boyer Sayre. It is pretty incredible what all can be done with it. If you have a chance to see their presentation, I highly recommend it.

And, it all begins again... another full day awaits.

Monday, July 23, 2012

GRIP :: Day 1 of Classes

Today was greeted with anticipation and trepidation - it was the first day of classes. After returning to campus last night, I tried to get some sleep as Dr. Jones had recommended but sleep wouldn't come. After tossing and turning for a while I decided to read the syllabus for Monday's class. I'm glad I did, it helped.

Dr. Jones started the class off by saying that there was a schedule for his talks - four of them for today - but by the end of the day we would be behind schedule. And, boy, was he right about that! He also said that by the end of the week all material in the binder would be covered so we won't miss anything! And there will be homework starting tomorrow (it's optional but highly recommended).

After a round of introductions - who we where, where we were from - the work began.

The first segment was all about Knowledge. Terminology was explained and examined and discussed. Examples were shown. Exercises were completed. Minds were confused. It was all about the building blocks of research: Sources, Evidence, Analysis, Correlation, Hypothesis, Conclusions, Case Building, Proof.

It was amazing how quickly the time passed. It was interesting to see how everyone approached the questions we were asked and how the answers to the same question were different.

Lunchtime came around and we hadn't even gotten through the handout for that first session. Can you say intense?

The afternoon continued with the terminology and examples and exercises. We also made it through the second handout about developing research questions and hypotheses. By the end of the day, I was mentally exhausted and physically tired. I decided to forgo the evening workshop on writing a family history and returned to my dorm room after supper.

The "plan" was to read the handouts for tomorrow's classes but weariness won out and I laid down for a short nap. Two hours later I woke up. I still haven't read all of the material for tomorrow but it's time to get some more sleep!

GRIP :: Check-in Day

After an uneventful 335 mile drive, I arrived at La Roche College early Sunday afternoon. The directions provided and numerous signs posted on campus made it easy to find the check-in station. I was greeted with smiles and laughter as I walked into Bold Hall.

I was a bit early and couldn't get into my room right away so found a chair and took a quick look at the course notebook for Thomas Jones' Advanced Research Methods. That first glimpse made me wonder just what I had gotten myself into! The 3-ring binder was jam-packed with syllabus material and handouts.

A short time later they began giving out room keys. By the time several trips had been made out to the van and back to the room, I was drenched in sweat. The humidity and heat was almost unbearable. Thank goodness the dorm rooms are air-conditioned. The facilities are nice. Nothing fancy but nice. A bathroom, a refrigerator, a microwave, a desk to work at, a chair to sit in, a bed to sleep in and internet access. What more do you need?

Supper-time rolled around quickly and I found my way to the classroom. The campus of La Roche College is small - the dorm is across a small parking lot from the building that houses the classrooms and cafeteria. Close together and convenient.

When we checked in we were given color-coded name tags. The various colors indicated which class you were attending. Advanced Research Methods was coded yellow. I saw a number of yellow-tagged individuals waiting for the cafeteria to open and introduced myself. Welcomed into their little group, I joined them for supper.

Later in the evening I saw the familiar faces of Shelley Bishop and Denise Levenick. There was a short meeting after supper then Denise and I decided to explore the area a bit. We spent an hour or so in a little "pub" getting caught up on everything and just chilling out before the challenging week ahead.

I should probably mention that Tom Jones was in the cafeteria line just in front of me. At one point he turned around, smiled and said hello. I responded with a smile and the first comment that popped into my head and came out of my mouth was "I'm afraid of you!" and I laughed. He smiled pleasantly and said "You're in my class?" We chatted briefly about the homework. His advice to me was "Get a good nights' sleep!" then as he turned and walked away he smiled broadly and chuckled.

It's going to be a very interesting week!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Their Magnificent Old Home

Among the family photographs recently shared with me by Roger Waller is the one below, which is the home built about 1874 by Jonathan S. Dunfee. The house (located in section 17 of Jefferson Township, Whitley County, Indiana) is still standing. When I asked for permission to use the photo of Jonathan in the post A Dunfee Duo, Roger not only answered in the affirmative but went on to say "Please put the photo from 1874 with the house and family on your site as well, I would really like people to be able to see it." So this post is dedicated to Roger, and to all other family researchers who willingly and happily share the past with us all. Thank You.

I drove out there last Sunday afternoon and when I saw the house, I realized that the above photo was reversed left-to-right. As always, you can double-click on the images to view a larger version. It's worth the extra clicks as the detail is quite good in the areas that are sharp.

So I "flipped" the image for comparison to the present-day views.

This shot was taken from across a field. The two pine trees in front of the house prevented the taking of a straight-on view. (I didn't want to go into the yard and the camera doesn't have an extremely wide angle lens anyway.)

A view of the house from the side.

On my visit to see Cal and Ardilla on Monday (mentioned in this post), Cal told me that one of Jonathan's granddaughters "from California" had come to the area back in the 1960s and had stopped at this house. She was able to go inside and visit with the owners. She apparently promised to send them a copy of the old photo above and wrote a letter to them in October of 1967. I'm not clear on how Cal got a copy of the letter - he stated that the granddaughter who visited did not contact any members of the Dunfee family that were living in the area at the time.

The author of the letter, Agnes Dunfee Deebel, was the third of four children born to Louis Weldon and Mary Lucretia (Cass) Dunfee who were married November 6, 1890 in Noble County, Indiana. About 1909 Louis and Mary moved with their four children to Calgary, Alberta, Canada where they lived for a few years. By 1920 the family was living in Long Beach, California. Agnes is the grandmother of my correspondent, Roger Waller, who provided me with the old photo.

Below is a transcription of the photocopy of the letter (paragraph breaks and text within square brackets has been added by me):
"Dear Mrs. Murbach - At last, I obtained the 92 yr old tintype, naturally somewhat worn, and here is the print I promised you, of the original house you now own. (The tintype was reversed, left to right, so you will make that correction, please.) The house was built in 1874, by my grandfather, Johnathan Dunfee, standing by front gate. He was helped by my father, Louis Dunfee, 10 yrs old, the boy standing by the front gate.

"The lady on the porch, standing, was my grand mother, Mary Dunfee. The man sitting on the porch, my uncle David Dunfee. The girls sitting [on the porch], my aunts Wilhemina, Martha, Emily & Althea & the man standing to the left, my uncle Clinton, who used to own the property to your north.

"My father bought the 80 acres where you live when he was 26, & brought my mother Mary Lucretia Cass, 22, there as a bride. Their 4 children, Florence, Helen, myself and Ruskin, were all born in this house - right in the north west corner of your present kitchen. The smaller building directly behind your house was built 70 yrs ago, as a "summer kitchen" - (no air conditioning then).

"The roof [three words, illegible] slate, alternating bands of light grey & rose, & was considered very handsome. The shutters were dark green - and the house always white. The Catalpa trees by your front gate were planted by my father in 1900 - and the maples along your lane by my mother in 1898. Thank you for the picture you gave me, and for letting me 'tour' your home. Agnes Dunfee Deebel Oct 24 - 67"

Do you think the man older man standing by the gate is 48 years old or 20?

I do take issue with Mrs. Deebel's statement that it is her grandfather, Jonathan Dunfee, standing by the gate with the boy. My guess would be that it is her brother David who is standing by the gate with Louis and that her grandfather Jonathan is the man in the chair on the porch (in the upper left corner of the cropped portion of the photo above). If the house was built in 1874, Jonathan would have been 48 years old at the time (he was born in 1826). The fellow standing by the gate with the boy appears younger to me. Her brother David would have been 20 years of age in 1874, which I think "fits" a little better.

Jonathan Smith Dunfee was the son of James and Sophia (Hazlett) Dunfee and was born June 9, 1826 probably in Adams County, Pennsylvania. At age 5, he moved to Wayne County, Ohio with his parents and siblings. At the age of 20 "he went to carpentering for two years, and the following three acted as overseer for his widowed sister's farm in Holmes County, Ohio." He married Mary Ann Quick on October 19, 1848 in Holmes County, Ohio. He was 22 years old and she was 20.

On May 26, 1850 he purchased 80 acres of land for $720 from Silvester Alexander. It was located in the northwest half of the northwest quarter of section 17 (NW 1/2 NW 1/4 S17) in Jefferson Township, Whitley County, Indiana. This is the same parcel of land upon which he would later build the home shown in the photos above.

Two of his brothers, William Hamilton Dunfee (my 3rd great grandfather) and James Henry Dunfee, had come to Whitley County several years earlier. Other family members (his brother George, sister Catherine Tryon, and sister Sophia McNabb) had located in neighboring Noble and DeKalb counties prior to 1850. Another sister, Mary Bonnett Lovett would remain in Ohio (Holmes County) while his parents James and Sophia and two other sisters, Lucy and Sarah, would arrive in Whitley County within a few years.

Jonathan would purchase other lands, at one time owning over 400 acres in Whitley County. About 1891-1892 he and his wife moved to a home on North Chauncey Street in Columbia City where he passed away on April 22, 1900. (Mary's obituary published November 15, 1907 states that they moved to Columbia City "about 16 years ago" which, according to Agnes, is about the time that their son Louis bought the farm house.) Census records show Jonathan's occupation was that of a farmer. Apparently he was rather successful at it too. His biography published in the 1882 history of Whitley County, stated that "his farm is in a high state of cultivation and supplied with excellent buildings, and the signs of prosperity and happiness are all about him."

Jonathan's wife, Mary Ann Quick, was the daughter of David and Margaret (Oliver) Quick. She was born December 4, 1827 in Holmes County, Ohio and died at her home on North Chauncey Street in Columbia City on November 8, 1907.

Jonathan and Mary Ann (Quick) Dunfee were the parents of 7 children, all of whom remained in northeast Indiana except Louis:
  1. Justice Clinton (August 22, 1849 - February 26, 1927)
  2. Margaret Willimina (November 26, 1852 - March 22, 1941)
  3. David J. (October 19, 1854 - August 12, 1892)
  4. Martha Etta (May 21, 1857 - May 17, 1945)
  5. Emily Almeda (February 28, 1859 - June 6, 1933)
  6. Althea Mary (March 26, 1861 - November 22, 1903)
  7. Louis Weldon (September 12, 1864 - December 14, 1947)
For more information on the Dunfee family, see the Index to Posts, which is a compilation of all the posts that have been published here at kinexxions on the family.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Their Magnificent Old Home," Kinexxions, posted July 18, 2012 ( : accessed [access date])

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Dunfee Duo

Last December I wrote several posts regarding Aquilla and Eliza (Dunfee) Hoff and their son. In this post, I discussed the possibility that their son Jonathan H. Hoff (last found with his father in Drum Creek Township, Montgomery County, Kansas in 1880) and John Hazlett Hoff (found in Decatur County, Kansas in 1900 & 1910 and Lawrence, Douglas County in 1915, 1920, 1925, and 1930) were the same person.

Shortly after those posts were published, I contacted Cathy, the submitter of one of the most "promising" ancestry trees. We corresponded briefly at the end of December but came to no firm conclusions. In April, she ordered the marriage record for John H. Hoff that "Charlie" a kinexxions reader had located in an online index. It confirmed the names of his parents listed in the index, but didn't really bring us any closer to a conclusion.

Decatur County, Kansas Marriage Application dated March 15, 1892. Parents of Jno. H. Hoff are given as Olen Hoff and Eliza Durfee.

Part of the "issue" is that John H. Hoff is consistently 5 years younger than Jonathan H. Hoff. And there is the family tradition that John was "the only child of along-toward-middle aged parents, had a father 'mostly' German born in the United States. His mother, Irish, was born in Ireland and came to the U.S. in her seventeenth year" and John's parents reportedly died during his "early teen years" and he then went to live with an uncle.

Aquilla Hoff and Eliza Dunfee were married on September 4, 1851 in Ashland County, Ohio. He was 36 years old and she was 38. In the 1860 census, Jonathan is 6 years old. In 1870, he is 16 and in 1880 he is 26 years old - all consistent with an 1854 year of birth. So, yes, he would have been born to "late in life" parents with Aquilla being about 40 and Eliza being 42 years old. And he was an only child.

On his marriage application of March 15, 1892, Jno. H. Hoff gives his age as 33. In the 1900 census, John is listed as born in Nov 1859. In 1910 he is 51 years old. In 1915 he is 55. In 1920 he is 60. In 1925 he is 65. And in 1930 he is 70 years old. All consistent with a birth year of 1859-1860.

According to census records, Aquilla was born in Maryland and Eliza was born in Pennsylvania. My mother and grandmother always said the Dunfees were Scotch-Irish so maybe the "Irish" part in the John Hoff family tradition has some semblance of truth to it. But Eliza was not the immigrant - her parents were both born in Pennsylvania also.

Eliza died on August 6, 1876 probably in Lagrange County, Indiana. She is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Lagrange County. At that time, Jonathan would have been about 22 years old (i.e. not in his early teens). Aquilla died June 27, 1883 also in Lagrange County. Jonathan would have been about 29 years old. Even subtracting the five years "lost" when given the age of John H. Hoff, it means he would have been 17 and 24 years old when Eliza and Aquilla died.

Of course, I have a theory regarding the age difference between John H. Hoff and Jonathan H. Hoff, assuming that they are indeed the same person. Did vanity enter into the equation? Perhaps John "shaved" 5 years off of his age so that he would not be so much older than his wife Mary who was born in January 1868. Using their ages, she would have been about 14 years younger than Jonathan and about 9 years younger than John.

One idea that Cathy proposed was that maybe Aquilla was John's uncle and that John was adopted by Aquilla and Eliza. But if that is true, he would have been adopted as a much younger child, not one in his young teen years. And there were no other known children for Aquilla and Eliza, especially older children.

So we're back to square one, not knowing with any degree of certainty whether John is Jonathan.

But, entering into the picture is contact with another Dunfee descendant, this one through a brother of Eliza. No, Roger didn't add anything to the information we have, but he did have a photo that really got my attention when I saw it. Roger's ancestor is Jonathan Smith Dunfee who is a brother to Eliza and to my 3rd great-grandfather, William Hamilton Dunfee.

You see, Cathy has a photograph of her great-grandfather John Hazlett Hoff. And Roger has a photo of his great-great-grandfather Jonathan Smith Dunfee. And they both gave me permission to use those photos here on kinexxions.

When I first saw the photo of Jonathan S. Dunfee it immediately called to mind the one of John H. Hoff. I kept clicking between the two and finally got them displayed side by side as shown in the composite below. The resemblance is striking. At least it is to me.

On the left is John Hazlett Hoff and on the right is Jonathan Smith Dunfee. Possibly nephew and uncle. Photos used courtesy of Cathy Hansen and Roger Waller.

But a really neat thing that I was able to do, with Roger's permission, was to give a print of the picture of Jonathan Smith Dunfee to one of his great-grandsons that lives here in Columbia City. Cal is my 3rd cousin twice removed and I've known him for a very long time. Mom and her siblings "always" knew their Dunfee cousins, which I think is pretty cool. I spent yesterday afternoon with Cal and his wife, Ardilla, talking about the Dunfee family, genealogy and numerous other topics. We had a wonderful visit! (As a side note, Ardilla is a grand-aunt of my brother's two oldest boys. Their grandfather is Ardilla's brother.)

A hearty "Thank You" goes out to Cathy and Roger for willingly sharing their research and their wonderful family photographs.

I must say, these last few months have been absolutely fantastic for me in terms of genealogy and family history research! It's been amazing and I can't wait to see what comes along next!

For more information on the Dunfee family, see the Index to Posts, which is a compilation of all the posts that have been published here at kinexxions on the family.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "A Dunfee Duo," Kinexxions, posted July 17, 2012 ( : accessed [access date])

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quiet Time? Not Really!

It's been quiet here at kinexxions for the past two weeks. Not because I haven't had anything to blog about. Quite the opposite, actually.

The hunt for Hoffman descendants was "interrupted" somewhat by several inquiries from other researchers and the news that I'd be attending the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) the last week of this month.

A descendant of Christian Rupert shared his family information with me. I, however, had no additional information to give to him. Christian was listed in the 1820 census in Columbiana County, Ohio. Initially, I had thought he might be related to John Rupert (my 5th Great Grandfather) and he may well be, but we don't know how, though he is probably not a son of John since he wasn't mentioned in John's will. Christian Rupert married Mary Stuller in 1818 in Columbiana County. By 1832, they had moved to what would become Auglaize County, Ohio and by 1840 they were in Carroll County, Ohio.

Then there was a descendant of Christian Hoffman who contacted me, thinking that his Christian was the son of Michael Hoffman (my 6th great grandfather). This Christian was of the right age, had enlisted in "April 1776" in the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment. A later deposition states that he enlisted in May or June of 1777 at Easton in Northampton County, Pennsylvania in the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment. In 1819, under the name of "Christian Hoofman" he filed a Revolutionary War Pension application (S38042) while living in Pendleton County, Virginia.

However, there was also a pension file for another Christian Hoffman who was also of the right age and who enlisted in "August 1775" in a company in the 12th Regiment Pennsylvania Line. This Christian Hoffman filed for a pension (S39752) in 1818 while living in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

According to The American Revolutionary War website, the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment was organized in June and July 1775 and consisted of 9 companies from Cumberland, Lancaster, Northumberland, Northampton, Bedford, Berks and York Counties.

The same site shows that the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment was authorized on August 23, 1776 in the Continental Army as the Northampton and Northumberland Defense Battalion, and actually organized between September 28th and December 18th 1776 at Sunbury and was to consist of 8 companies from Northampton, Berks, Cumberland and Northumberland Counties.

Since both men enlisted in Regiments from the same area of Pennsylvania and there was little personal information other than their ages and names of their wives, the pension applications provided few clues as to their nativity. Without additional research, there is no way of knowing if either man is a son of Michael Hoffman. Since Christian isn't my ancestor I didn't pursue the matter any further. Hopefully my correspondent will continue his quest and come up with a more definitive answer.

But the most recent contact was, for me, the most exciting. An email from a descendant of Jonathan Smith Dunfee who was the brother of my 3rd great-grandfather, William Hamilton Dunfee, didn't get me back any further on that line but it sure filled in some blanks on his branch of the family! He also shared some wonderful family photos - more on those in future posts - and I was, happily, able to give him some new information too.

I've also been reading the articles Dr. Jones sent for "prep" work for GRIP but really do need to spend some time STUDYING them. And since I'm going to Pennsylvania I'm hoping to be able to take a few days afterward for on-site research. However, I'm quickly running out of time....

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

GRIP is on the Agenda!

On the morning of Tuesday, February 7th I was among those eagerly awaiting the chance to register for the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, aka GRIP. As I refreshed the computer screen at the appointed time, the link appeared and I began the registration process.

The Thomas Jones course, Advanced Research Methods, was my goal. But within two minutes of the registration process the screen locked up. And it just sat there. And I got frustrated. I backed out one screen and when I returned to the screen I had been on there was a message that the "event is currently unavailable". Really? After just a few minutes?

A message was immediately sent to "the powers that be" and yes, the course really filled that quickly. Did I want to be put on a waiting list? Well, yeah. So I've waited. Without much hope that more than one person wouldn't be able to make it.

Today I received an email telling me that I was still on the wait list and asking if I was still available to attend if a seat should happen to open up. My response was a yes! Less than two hours later another email told me that one spot was open in Mr. Jones' class and my name was at the top of the wait list!

So, I'm going to GRIP! And I'm excited - especially after being able to attend all four of his sessions at NGS in May. And I'm nervous - hoping that I haven't gotten in over my head with this. And it's just 2 1/2 weeks away! Wish me luck, eh?

Who else is going to GRIP? Which course are you taking?


Updated July 26th: Read about my experiences at GRIP!