This time of the year it always seems that life gets in the way…and this September is no different. I will catch up with my blogs when …..


the garden is done..

the peaches are canned….

A ferry ride across Lake Michigan…..

A visit with friends….

A 60th Anniversary with family …..

This time of the year is busy and wonderful… Genealogy will take a back seat….I’ll get caught up…one day soon!

Happy Hunting…


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 31 – LARGE

LARGE…Some weeks I really struggle with what to write…right now my garden which isn’t LARGE is producing abundantly so I am frantically canning and freezing. Not complaining because this is great problem to have. My writing, family history research and my quilting all take a back seat at this time of the year!

Now that I have stalled enough…..LARGE …. LARGE families…. LARGE people … LARGE farms… LARGE houses

Large Families

My mother was one of eight children. To me, especially today, that is a large family. In her German Ancestry lines, there were lots of large families.

Albert Hainer and Catharine Vollick had twelve children, of the twelve kids, nine children all had large families:

Dorothy Hainer and David Putman had ten children.

Henry Hainer and Nancy Schram had ten children.

John Hainer and Nancy Bowman had nine children.

Isaac Hainer and Mary Magdelena May had twelve children.

Hannah Hainer and John Swackhammer had nine children.

Sarah Hainer and John Brandt had six children.

James Hainer and Catherine had eleven children.

Deborah Hainer and Mathias Fisher had seven children.

Catharine Hainer and Jonas Larraway had seven children.

(As I was proofreading this I added up all of Albert and Catharine Hainer’s grandchildren… they had 81 Grandchildren!)

Large People…

My Great Grandmother, Cora Crites Smith was a large lady. Not only was she large “around” but she was pretty tall for a woman too. And as you can see from this photo, my Grandfather Everett who is standing behind Alvin, her husband who is seated next to Cora, took after his mother. So you see, we come from ‘LARGE” stock. (I am not making excuses here but I do have a pound or two to lose.)

Alvin Smith, Cora Smith, Everett Smith, James Fredrick Smith – 1922 or 1923

A Large Farm…

James and Susannah (Overly) are my Smith Ancestors. They are my road block, my brick wall. Well James Smith is. There are so many James Smiths that I am unable to verify his parents but that is a topic for a different blog. James and Susannah had a large family. Fourteen children to be exact. They settled in the Fort Wayne area in 1845 or 1846 after leaving Darke County, Ohio. Two of their oldest Smith boys, William and Branson and some of their Davis cousins left the rural Fort Wayne area and moved to Madison County, Indiana, and settled in Pendleton sometime in the mid to late 1850’s. They married Kinnamon sisters, Hannah and Emily.…. the Smith Farm began. It has been operated by the same Smith family for seven generations. Today, they farm 3000 acres of wheat and livestock. They raise cattle and sell meat butchered in their own processing plant. They have a large pumpkin patch and a Farm Market where they have a fall festival every October. Please visit their website at

Large House

My Mother and Dad had six kids and in the 1950’s and 1960’s that was a pretty large family. Until I was 12 years old we lived in a three bedroom ranch in Romeo, Michigan. It was a tight fit but it was all we knew. I remember fighting with my sisters about who was the messiest and having to clean our room. It was very difficult to have four girls all in the same room. My two older sisters were teenagers, I was a preteen and my younger sister was five years younger than me. We often blamed the mess on my youngest sister! We moved to Imlay City, Michigan in the summer of 1968. My father had bought a big house.

240 North Almont Ave, Imlay City, Michigan

A big OLD house that used to be a doctor’s office….. I know, you thought I was going to say this big fancy house, didn’t you? Nope it was a monster of an old house. My Dad was the original “do-it-yourself” king. And he had three teenage girls that he loved to put to work. So we had to disconnect the left side of the house which was the doctors office from the right side of the house which would be our living quarters. (And that story would be good for a different blog!) Eventually the old doctors office became a nice size apartment and Mom and Dad had a good size bedroom suite downstairs. The great thing about this house was that all four girls had their own rooms. My younger brothers who you see standing on the porch several years after we moved in were toddlers at the time of the move. They loved sharing a room!

So I guess I covered LARGE. What do you think?

Enjoy the hunt,



52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 30 – The Old Country

This weeks prompt is “The Old Country”. Alot of my genealogy goes back to early Colonial times here in the United States. According to my DNA, I am 66 % from England, Wales, Northwestern Europe which includes Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark. I am 34 % Scandinavian with 32 % Norwegian and 1% each of Sweden and Finland.

As a family we have done our best to stay in contact with our family in Norway thru the years. My Grandfather received post cards and letters from his family after he immigrated to America. He kept them in the top draw of his dresser wrapped in a piece of twine. They were well worn when my mother found them after he died. She remember them. She remembered him reading them. She loved the stamps so he cut them all out and gave them to her. She was flooded with memories when she saw the tattered letters. She also realized that is had been sometime since we had gotten any word from our family in .

Mom set out to make sure that she contacted her uncle, Haakon to tell him of his brother’s death. She wrote a letter to him and mailed it off to his last known address and hoped for the best. Meanwhile in Norway, Haakon had died a few months before and Anna, his wife, was trying valiantly to reach Andrew, my grandfather. Eventually after receiving her letter back, she tried to write my mother. Mom received the letter from Anna soon after Mom mailed the letter to Haakon.

This exchange pushed open the door of communication once again for our family. Our cousin, Bjarne and his wife came to visit my parents in 1972 in Michigan. My parents went to Norway to visit them in 1973. Mom took the letters,which were written in Norwegian, with the hope that someone would translate them for her. She wanted in the worst way to know what they said.

Aslaug Ingwardo and husband, Tormod – Summer 1973

She met all her cousins and was so happy and felt blessed to have gotten to know them all. She left the letters with Tormod, the husband of her cousin Aslaug, he promised to translate them for her. Over the course of several years, Mom received the letters and translations a couple at a time even after Aslaug died of cancer in 1974 at the age of 44 years old. Mom would be so excited when she got mail from Norway.

Front Row L to R: Knut, Leah, Anna, Rita Second Row L to R : Kari, Anna, Elsa’s Husband, Elsa’s Grandson held by her daughter, Sigrun (Bjarnes wife), Elsa Back row L to R : Olaf, Elin (Olaf’s wife), Elsa’s son -in-law, Bjarne Ingwardo /Smith Family photo taken in 1973

Anna died in 1983 and once again we lost contact with our Norwegian family for a time. When I took up this family history mission in 1997, I knew we needed to find them again. Around the year 2000, I was using the old Rootsweb Message Boards. I went out to a Norwegian message board and posted an inquiry. You see “we” are “Andersen’s”! Andersen is as common in Norway as “Smith” is in America so we already had a lot in common. My Great Uncle Haakon decided to changed his surname . When he became a missionary and there were many Haakon Andersen’s in the Norwegian Mission organization. He decided to use his middle name, Ingwardo as his surname. He made my life so much easier! I posted that I was looking for Ingwardo ‘s in Norway and within 24 hours I had addresses and emails for three Ingwardos. My first contact was with Olaf, Bjarne’s older brother. We corresponded for several years. He sent me pictures and emails every few weeks. He told me that Bjarne had divorce and married a Danish woman and that they lived in Copenhagen. He was not interested in Genealogy or family history but it was nice to hear from him regularly. I thought that he would tell other family members that we were once again communicating. Late in 2003, I got an email from him. He said that he was going to the hospital and that he would email me in a few weeks.

Olaf’s family in 1973

I never heard from him again. I sent several emails and they were not returned so I assumed he was just not well enough to using his computer. After six months of silence I decided that something must have happened. So now it is spring of 2004. I once again went to the message boards and this time I went to a Copenhagen, Denmark board. I posted that I was looking for Bjarne Ingwardo. Once again within 24 hours, I had an address.

I wrote Bjarne a letter and I mailed it on the Friday of Memorial Weekend in 2004. I included my address and phone number and re-introduced myself. I told him I was hoping to re-establish contact with our Norwegian family members. I indicated that I had been talking regularly with Olaf through email and that it suddenly stopped.

On Memorial Day, the phone rang and it was Bjarne. He told me that Olaf never mentioned that we were communication thru email. He did inform me that he had died in 2003 after having surgery. We talked for over an hour and before we hung up, he was making plans to visit us in mid June, a mere three weeks away.

Ingwardo / Smith Family dinner in 2004 Left around the table : Ingrid, Bjarne, Leah, Jan, Matt, Diane, Nolan Sue, Kelsey, Sharon, Maddie

He and Ingrid came to Chicago, where I lived, on the Thursday before Father’s Day. Their visit lasted about sixteen days. After a couple of days in Chicago, I drove them to Michigan where they visited the rest of the family. They spent several days with each of us and my mother. I returned to my brother’s house at the end of their visit to retrieve them and get them back to the airport in time for their return flight home. We had a wonderful visit full of great memories.

My Mother died in 2009. After her estate was settled in early 2010, her six children decided that we should visit Bjarne in Copenhagen and hopefully his homeland and our Grandfather’s Norway. We called him to make arrangements and they were thrilled that we all wanted to visit. We set the trip up for September of 2010. He and Ingrid decided to once again visit us during the summer of 2010.

Smith/ Ingwardo – Fall 2010 – Copenhagen
L to R: Matt, Mark, Jan (kneeling), Ingrid, Bjarne, Sue, Sharon, Pam

We had the opportunity to very briefly visit Oslo, Norway and meet several of our cousins before returning to Denmark for the rest of our visit.

In 2017, we were troubled by medical issues that Bjarne was having. My sister, Sharon started to investigate flights to Denmark in January and we discussed the possibility of traveling there to see him. I told her that if I was going to Denmark than I would also going to Norway and it had to be for a few days. I started investigating how we could make that happen. So we contacted Bjarne’s daughter, Rita, to see if we could visit her. With in a few short weeks the trip quickly became a reality. My sister told her son what we were planning to do and he wanted to come too. By the end of February, we were on a train headed to Chicago to catch a flight to Copenhagen.

Sharon and Zach -2017

It was an extra special trip for all of us! We spent the first 4 days in Denmark before going to Norway. We spent the next 3 days in Norway, with Bjarne’s daughter Rita and a couple of days on our own in Oslo. On our second day in Norway we rented a car and drove to Tjome, the island where my Grandfather and many generations of our family lived before him.

Tjome – 2017

I have through my research connecting with several distant relatives from Tjome. Inger Zainer is one of them and she arranged for us, Sharon, Zach, Rita and myself, to visit the home where my Grandfather lived. We were graciously invited inside. The energy was electric and moving as we entered the home. Inger invited an long time Tjome residence, who knew our Great Grandfather Hans, to come and answer any questions that we might have about him and his sons. It was a truly amazing afternoon.

Rita, Zach, Ole, Jan, Sharon, Inger seated in the dining area where my Grandfather and his family ate their meals
Great Granddaughters and a Great Great Grandson of Han Andersen in front of the Andersen home in 2017

Sadly, both Rita and Bjarne, have died. Rita died suddenly in 2018 and Bjarne died this spring. We did not know how important that 2017 trip would become to us.

With the use of technology today we have managed to remain in contact with our Norwegian relatives. Now one hundred and sixteen years after my Grandfather left Norway, I send texts thru Facebook to Olaf’s granddaughter, to Bjarne’s wife, to Rita’s children and Bjarne’s sons and their children. It is truly amazing that we can today stay in touch with those family member who remain in the “Old Country” .

Happy Hunting,



52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 29 – Newsworthy


The thought made me smile. I have found very little in my family research that I would call “Newsworthy”. We are common everyday folks who didn’t get mentioned in the Newspaper or on the Evening News. Around the turn of the century, most newspapers has a “society page” of sorts so you might occasionally see a one liner which said ” Addie Anderson entertained her parents, Charles and Mary Densmore for Sunday dinner”. These columns would bring a smile to my face when I came across them but there is no real newsworthy value to them. And I rather like it that way!

A few weeks back I was researching Dr. William Edward Best for the July 21 Tombstone Tuesday blog and I came across a couple of interesting news articles on him from a Newspaper in Eugene, Oregon. George Best has done a lot of family research on our Best Family members and very generously shares with us what he finds. He found all these articles and shared them on Ancestry.

William Edward Best was born in Canada. After completing his primary schooling, he went to a University of Toronto thinking that he might want to be a minister but later decided he wanted to be a physician. He changed his course and attended the Rolph’s Medical School in Toronto and from there he went to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He was a practicing physician in North Branch Michigan for over thirty years. Some time after the 1900 Federal Census, Dr William Edward Best left rural Michigan and moved to Cottage Grove, Oregon.

Apparently he did not file his license with the proper authorities and a case was brought against him as a result. These articles are from the “Eugene Guard newspaper in Eugene Oregon.

Eugene Guard – April 30, 1907

This was from the same Newspaper on the same day but buried in the “Society “ section of the Newspaper. It was Dr. B.R. Job and the Druggist J. S. Benson who seemed to come to support Dr W. E. Best’s defense.

Eugene Guard – April 30, 1907 – Society Page

The following articles appeared on August 9, 1907 on pages five and six. The first one appears to have been from the Society page and the other on a news page focusing on ongoing news. It appears that the trial has cause a bit of a commotion in the community.

Eugene Guard – August 9,1907 -Article from Page 5
Eugene Guard – August 9, 1907 – Article from Page 6

This page two article is from the August 10, 1907 edition of the Eugene Guard. It states that Dr W.E. Best has been acquitted.

Eugene Guard Article from page 2 – August 10, 1907

And he seems to be cleared of all charges…

In this September 12, 1907 article on the society page appears to indicate that Dr. Best has returned to Michigan. Not for too long….

Eugene Guard – September 12, 1907 – Society Page

By February 22, 1908, Dr Best is back in Cottage Grove and back in the newspaper. It appears that he attended to G.W. Hubbard when he had an accident and broke some rib. So quite obviously he is practicing medicine again.

And his Obituary indicates that he was in Cottage Grove, Oregon on July 21, 1908 when he died.

His body is brought back to Michigan and he is buried Maple Grove Cemetery in North Branch.

I find it interesting that a man of Dr. Wm Best background would neglect to contact the correct authorities when he moved to a new state. Dr. Wm Best went to a prestigious medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. At the time of his schooling many medical schools were popping up all over the country and not all schools were of the same quality as that of the University of Pennsylvania.

I did investigate a bit about when each state required a practicing physician to have a license. It appears that it was regulated by each state and that the requirements were different from state to state. In 1889, the State of Oregon, mandated that all physicians must be registered, show their degrees from a qualified Medical School to the State Medical Board and may have to take a state test if the board deems necessary.

Dr. Wm Best had a license which was issued in Michigan that he eventually showed the court. Was he just a rebel? Did they want him to talk a test after 30 years of experience in Michigan? All of the information that I find about Dr. Wm Best in Michigan is positive. He was well-known and well loved.

There are many still unanswered questions. This is often what I find while tackling this type of research. I am certain that there is an interesting story hidden here that will likely never be told. It has been another interesting week genealogy research.

Happy Hunting,


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week – 28 – Multiple

The Privilege of having Siblings

This is a previous blog that I wrote ten years ago and posted on a different site. I will repost it largely intact. There is a bit of over lap with the Solo blog from Week 27 but in the end I think you will just see that it is really a continuation and a deepening of the story.

This is the only photo ever taken of Dad and his sister Lucille.

My father was Harold Smith.  He was born on August 29th in 1928.  He was the only son of Everett and Lillian Smith.  He had an older sister Lucille who died when she was a child so he did not have the joy of having siblings.  When he married my mother, Leah Anderson, I believe that it was his plan to have a large family right from the start.  Leah had come from a family of eight children and experience a very different upbringing then my father had as an only child. He had a wonderful childhood but no siblings.

My parents had three daughters, Pam, Susan and me in the first 5 years of their marriage and a pause for 5 years.  Dad was establishing himself in the retail business world, first working for JC Penney in Lapeer and then worked for Egglestons in Lapeer and eventually in Romeo.  In 1955, the year that I was born, we moved to the Fritz Subdivision on 29 Mile Road in Romeo.  He was a hard working man who had gotten his business degree and helped to build the Eggleston business before moving on to work with the Mitzeldfeld’s Department store in Rochester, Michigan. During his years at Mitzeldfeld’s the store grew exponentially and became a very large, highly regarded and well known business in a time of small family operations and decades before the “big box stores” of today. It was a busy time with a growing family.

Pamela, Susan and Janet – 1957

The second half of our family came starting in 1960 with three more children who were born in the next four years. First my sister Sharon came along in March of 1960. By now after 4 girls, he really wanted a son, he would say, “ Leah I really want to have a son.” I remember the Christmas before my brother Mark was born, Dad had bought a model train at Christmas time. It was a Christmas gift for the new baby coming in January according to Dad. If the baby turned out to be another girl, she was going to like trains! Mark was born on January 15th and was the boy that Dad wanted so badly. Before long he told mom “Mark really needs to have a brother! Every boy needs a brother!” And then their family was complete with the birth of Matt in July of 1964.

Harold Smith Family – Christmas 1965

Before they knew it they had six of us. They gave us the opportunity that my Dad did not have. We all grew up together and were able to enjoy family experiences time six. Some times it was chaotic and but it was always fun. There was always someone to play with.

There was always someone fight with, wrestle with and cry with when you banged your knee. There was always someone else to blame; “I did not do it!” but you learned quickly to never squeal on each other either. If one got in trouble, we all did! There was always someone to try on your idea with and someone to conspire with. We taught each other things we should do and things we should not do. I think that he knew what he had missed out on by not having a sibling and he made sure that his children would not miss out of the experience.

New Years 2008

Every time that I gather with my siblings I am reminded how important it was to my Dad that I had the wonderful sisters and brothers that I have. I am reminded how important it was to him that we were not left alone when he and Mom died. I am reminded how much they loved us and all that they taught us and how much they allow us to learn from each other. I am reminded how important as a family we are to one another. I am reminded that we must as individuals walk the path that is our own life but we do not have to walk it alone. I am reminded that they also gave us the faith in God which will always pull us through every event in our lives.

Smith kids and our Ingwardo cousins in Denmark – 2010

In 2010, my siblings and I had the privilege of traveling to Denmark and Norway together to visit with family. Most years we gather for a week or more of camping in a campground that we first went to with our parents in the summer 1968. We gather for holidays and for all kinds of family events. We gather because it is important to us.

Most of the Smith kids some of their spouses and Art and Sandy who we have adopted -2011

We know that Mom and Dad are always with us in spirit. We can thank Mom and Dad for giving these six children of theirs the opportunity and the privilege of having one another.

Happy Hunting,



52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 27 – Solo

The word for Week 27 is Solo.

For my father it did not start out that way. My father, Harold Smith, was the second born child of Everett and Lillian Smith. He was born on August 29, 1928. He was born four years after his big sister, Lucille. Lucille died when she was six of Streptococcus that has spread to her bloodstream or as it is better known today, Sepsis. It was in the days before penicillin, it happen so fast and then she was gone.

My Dad was three when she died. He had no memories of her. Only photos that he had been shown from his parents. All he remembers was being an only child. He was a minister’s kid. You know the kind of a kid who had that little twinkle of the devil in his eye. He was a good kid with a plan.

One day playing with matches in a field behind his house, he started a small brush fire. I wish I had been there to see Everett and Lillian’s reaction to that! I remember him tell us that he took Grandpa Everett’s new car out on the ice to do donuts soon after he got his drivers license. I wish I had been there for that too.

He was a playful person his whole life. Always ready for a fun escapade that more often then not he had dreamed up. He and my mother married on May 28, 1950 and fourteen years later they had six children. When he married, he knew from the very beginning that he would have a big family. It was hard being the only child. No brothers and sisters to play with or get in trouble with.

Harold Smith Family – 1964

He always had a sense adventure coupled with a silly, playfulness. He was always ready for a snowball fight in the winter or a water fight with the hose in the summer. In later years, he joined the grandsons in water balloon fights with a balloon launchers.

He thought nothing of following an old logging trail to see what we could find. We entered more that a few places that we should not have in a station wagon loaded with kids. On more that one occasion, he got the station wagon stuck in mud or sand. He had to hike out to the main road in search of help in the form of a tow truck.

This is from one of those occasions. We were stuck in sand in what was being developed as Algonac State Park. Dad’s curiosity got the better of him and we got stuck. He hiked out and found a tow truck but in the mean time seven of us sat in the station wagon and someone we all know and loved had a poopy diaper, the mosquitoes were as big as fighter jets and just as fierce. All memories that are just as vivid today!

Some of our adventures meant finding wildlife; bears, deer, elk, porcupine, skunks and raccoon. It was hard to afford to take a family of eight on vacation so we went camping! If it rained, we would go for a car ride adventure. What else can you do with two adults and six kids camping in a tent? We have gone to local dumps to watch the bears or any dirt road that might lead to wildlife. We sometimes would follow a fire truck to see where it was going…at a safe speed of course! No one ever knew what adventure was right around the corner or down the next road.

My father took exceptional care of his parents as they aged. My Grandfather, Everett, had MS and was wheel chair bound. Our family went regularly to Detroit to visit them. And brought them out of Detroit to rural Romeo to our house for every holiday. He did this in the days long before handicapped parking spots and vehicles equipped to move wheel chain bound people around. He bought a used panel van and retro fitted it for Grandpa wheelchair. He enlisted help from his friends to go with him to assist in the loading and unloading of his father and his wheel chair.

A few years later he found a van with windows so his father would enjoy the ride better. From the mid 1960 until Everett died in 1978, my father took his father everywhere he needed or want to go. Tiger ball games, church services, weddings, reunions, holiday events. If we were not taking them some where we were visiting them. As an only child, my father felt the strong responsibility he had to his parents. I remember him tell us on more than one occasion how lucky we were to have each other.

SO this is just a snippet view of an only child who had not planned on being solo but was…and how he made the best of it!

Happy Hunting,


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks- Week 26 – Middle

According to Webster’s Dictionary, middle can be an adjective; equal distance from extremes

or middle can be a noun; a central position, the position of being among or in the midst.

Today I think I will talk about “that which is in the midst”, the dash. You know, that little line between the dates. “Harold Smith 1928-1996” or “Leah Anderson Smith 1928-2009” The little symbol that we are all familiar with.

For me the dash is of great importance. I write regularly about the dash in my blog . I write about my ancestors and their dash. I include as much as I can learn about their dash. I write about long dashes and the short dashes because all of their dashes are an important part of who I have become. You are here because of your ancestor’s dash. If they had not been here, neither would you. You, too, have a dash.

Today you are living your dash.

Will your dash be impact full?

Is your dash what you want it to be?

You still have time to make your dash what you want it to be, if you want to change it. Remember life is short! Make your dash count!

Happy Hunting,


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 25 – Unexpected

My Grandfather, Anders Anderson, came to America from Norway in 1904. Anders was a sailor who lived with Gustav Englehart when he was not at sea. Gustav frequently sponsored young sailors when they first arrived from Norway.

This post card was a birthday greeting to Anders (Andrew) from his Grandmother, Olava Jorgensen, for his 25th birthday on September 16, 1908. It is a post card of his home town. She was trying to coax him to come home.

The back of the post card indicated that Andrew is receiving his mail “in care of” Gust Englehart. Andrew is working currently on the Great Lakes Steamer known as the Geo King so this card was forwarded to him on the ship. The ship captain of the Geo King was Captain Thomas Wilson.

Sixty four years later, Andrew’s Granddaughter, Janet Smith married Captain Wilson’ s Great Great Grandson, Gary Tietz. Ninety years later I started this journey into my family history. One hundred and two years later, I had all my grandfather ‘s postcards translated by Norwegian researchers that I was working with. At that time I began to investigate Andrew’s sailing years and came across this “unexpected” discovery ! I would never have known that Grandpa Anderson worked for Captain Thomas Wilson and that the paths of our family crossed so many years earlier.

On a side note, it is totally amazing to me how much information this old post card generated about my family.

Happy Hunting, Jan


52 Ancestors in 52 Week – Week 25 – Unexpected

The Puzzle of Darcus Smith

I love it when I run across an unusual name. The James, Williams, and Johns hide all their clues among thousands of other James, Williams and Johns in the databases. But when you have a name like Darcas you tend to stick out more! So this week I was researching Darcus Smith.

I was looking at her because Joseph and Mary Ann (Best) Smith had a daughter named Darcus. (the Joseph who we now know is connected to our James Smith through DNA…) Then I found a marriage license for a Darcus Smith and Jacob Best in Warren County but it was long before Joseph’s Darcus was born. So I could not help but wonder who this woman was. Ironically the last name “Best” stuck out like a flashing neon sign since Mary Ann, Joseph’s 1st wife was a Best. The daughter, Darcus, was Mary Ann’s and Joseph’s 2nd daughter. Could this be Mary Ann’s Mother? A Grandmother?

I had posted a message on about the marriage of Jacob Best and Dorcus Smith. And sure enough a response came back the next day.  She was the 2nd wife of James Smith, was the response. The James Smith’s who was the first person buried in Smith Cemetery ! “Really” , I thought.  How could I have forgotten that! I was the person who entered the data for the Smiths in Smith Cemetery in Benton County a few years back but I do not remember entering a Dorcus Smith.

I spent several years looking at the Benton County Smith data but was unable to connect my James to it. I have several old blogs about them. I had totally ruled out any connection between my James and the Smith’s of Benton County! Several other Smith researchers and I have wrestled with this information through the years and remain in contact…(though I need to touch base with them because it has been quite a while since we talked! ) We have all freely shared what we know. I have saved the correspondences in my email, so it was time to review what they had shared with me. There she was, plain as day, among the notes of other researchers. Darcus or Dorcus Williams was the 2nd wife of James Smith, the elder James Smith who came from Darke County, Ohio to Warren County, Indiana. Parts of Warren County would later become Benton County, Indiana! James and his second wife, Darcus, had four children; Joseph, Benjamin, Justice and Elizabeth…I’ll be darned…There is the Uncle Justice too! He is the guardian referred to in Francis Marion’s guardianship papers. I was able to find Darcus Best and Jacob in the 1850 Federal Census and “Justin” Smith is 16 and living with them. Next door to them are the families of Thomas Smith, William Smith and James Smith Jr.

Well, I’ll be darned! Of course she isn’t buried in the Smith Cemetery as Darcus Smith because she is Darcus Best! She and Jacob are both buried there. The “Needles in the Haystack” were right there for me to find if I just got them sorted out right.

There is still quite a lot for me to find out. I still do not know for sure how or where my James Smith fits into this family but with the DNA results, there is no doubt that he does!

So as it always is when doing this kind of research, the answer for one questions always leads to another new question. Was Mary Ann Best somehow related to Jacob and his family? Was my James a brother to Joseph or a cousin? The search continues …

Happy Hunting,




52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 20 – Travel

Annual Fall Road Trip…

My granddaughter Elizabeth Mae Tietz was born on October 13, 1999. Mid October has become a special time for me. Time for me to visit my Granddaughter no matter where she lives at the time. When I worked I always took a few days off for a road trip. I love fall! I LOVE the colorful leaves, the crisp morning and evening air and a new crop of apples! There is an aroma in the air on a prefect Indian summer day that reminds me of heaven. I know it instantly and I want it to last for ever. I close my eyes and bask in the warmth of the sun and take very deep breaths of this wonderful aroma. I do not know if it is the smell of leaves as they die or just the changing seasons but it is an aroma that only happens on a perfect fall day.

My road trips to see Elizabeth are always that perfect fall day. In 1999 when she was born, I lived in Chicago and she lived in Capac, Michigan. When the day arrived for Grandma’s first visit to see her Granddaughter, I decided to take the long way to Capac by way of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Yes….. I know what you are thinking! It only made sense to me!  I left first thing Friday morning figuring I would have a few hours to check out a cemetery or two. All too often my travels involve side trips to cemeteries

I love cemeteries, I always have. I remember as a school girl, I would ride my bike to a small country cemetery down the road from our house. This was a very old cemetery and I visited it often. As I read the names and dates on the tombstones, I would make up stories in my head about the people in the cemetery. Some of my stories were about rich people, some were about poor people, some were old people and some were about very young people. I always pondered why they died and how they had lived.

I had moved to the Chicago area in 1994 from Phoenix. I started my genealogy journey in 1996 after the death of my father. At this time in my genealogy research, I was still working off of information that my Grandfather had told me when I was a teenager. He said “I am from Roanoke, Indiana. “

When I was eleven, we took a family vacation around Lake Michigan. We drove thru the Upper Peninsula, into Wisconsin, down thru Chicago and back around the bottom of the lake thru Northern Indiana. While in Northern Indiana, we were stuck in a traffic jam …. in a station wagon….. with no air conditioning….. on a hot summer day!  Northern Indiana, in 1966, had lots of factories and refineries and the unregulated pollution that went along with them.  I remember sitting in the back of the station wagon with the back window open, with an awful headache smelling stinky pollution and wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to live in Indiana. SO when Grandpa told me a year or two later that he was from Indiana, I could hardly believe it but my next thought was…. I can understand why you left!

Okay, so I digressed a bit but I thought some of this background information might interest you!

For my first visit to meet my Granddaughter in 1999, I took the “long route” by way of US Highway 30 through northern Indiana from the south east suburbs of Chicago to Fort Wayne. My Dad often favored the “long route” . That is where I get this from. The fall leaves were beautiful. The sun was shining and I traveled the whole distance with the window rolled down absorbing every second of the fall ride. My first stop was at the Methodist church at Nine Mile, Indiana. I had received information from the Wells County Library and the Huntington County Library that my Smiths had lived nearby. They also reported that James Smith and some of the children maybe buried in the cemetery at this church.

I found a section of the cemetery in the northwest corner which had the oldest stones. There was a pile of broken stone pieces stacked on a base. When I moved them, I was thrilled to discover that they were the Smith stones I was searching for.

All these pieces are actually one stone. The church burial records which I would later obtain from a cemetery trustee would show that James, Charles, Kisiah and a baby name Barberry are all buried in this plot. Also listed on this stone is James’s wife Susannah but the church has no record of her being buried here.

James Smith died on March 24, 1868. Charles Smith died in 1863. I believe he died while serving in the Civil War. I have been unable to obtain his records but there is a Charles Smith listed as killed from Indiana in 1863. I will continue to work to verifying this information. I believe that the loss of Charles was a contributing factor to the enlistment of Charles brother’s James W. Smith (my GGGrandfather) and Joseph J. Smith in 1864. Kisiah died in 1861. She was 19 years old. I do not why she died or the exact date which will make it difficult to obtain a death record. Barberry died as an infant and no date is listed. To date I do not know when Susannah died either. She was alive and counted in the 1870 census after the death of James but I do not find her in the 1880 Census ten years later.  She continues to be a needle in my haystack.

James Smith-NineMile

Many years later I had this stone fixed by Mark Davis from Stone Savers Cemetery Restoration in Indiana. The stone was so damaged that Susannah’s name is no longer visible. Some day I hope to replace it with a new stone so others family members who come looking for it after I am gone can find it.


The remaining Smiths’ buried in the Nine Mile Cemetery are in the plot to the south of this worn base stone. I noticed this stone that day but I did not record it. I noticed it because the stone looks like it is growing out of a tree. I thought to myself, “what a shame”. A tree has grown in that woman’s grave. I read the name on the stone but thought nothing of it. After returning home and obtaining burial records from the trustee of the cemetery, I realized that Mary Ann Kimble and her daughter Susanna, who are buried in this grave are the daughter and grandaughter of James and Susannah Smith. I have made many visits to this cemetery and will likely return many times more.

My fall road trip continued as I made my way to Capac. I was now equipped with pictures and lots of new information for researching my Smith ancestors. Now I get to meet our newest descendant…Elizabeth Mae Tietz.


This is my mother, Leah Smith, who I took with me to meet Elizabeth that weekend. She was thrilled to meet and hold her Great Granddaughter and so was I!  I have had many October road trips to see my Granddaughter on or near her birthday.  She now lives in southern Ohio and that just happens where our Smith/ Overly family originates from around 1800.  She will be twenty one this year and as long as Corona Virus allows it, I’ll be going on another fall road trip and…. will likely visit a cemetery and maybe a quilt shop or two…my other hobby!

Happy Hunting,