Monday, December 24, 2012

The Downey House Fire

(By Candice Buchanan)

Beneath a cheery holiday banner, local headlines told of a different sort of Christmas for December 1925.Downey House

On Christmas Eve morning the Waynesburg Republican solemnly announced “Disastrous Fire Destroys Hotel Downey, Grossman Building and Presbyterian Church: Four Young Men, Volunteer Fire Workers, Lose Their Lives By Falling Walls. Four Others Seriously Injured.” The four young men killed while fighting the fire were: Harvey Call, Jr., William Andrew Finch, J. Thurman Long and Joseph Rifenberg. By its next printing on December 31, the Republican announced the fifth and final casualty, Victor Hoy Silveus.

The Downey House had been a prominent feature on Waynesburg’s main street since it was built in 1869. Located at the present site of the Fort Jackson Building where a plaque still hangs in honor of the five men who lost their lives, the Downey House was a hotel and shopping center with over a dozen businesses located within its walls.

The fire began in the Coney Island restaurant and was discovered about 3:30 a.m. on the morning of December 23. The fire tore through the Downey House, where the restaurant was located on the first floor, and quickly spread to the neighboring Grossman Building and then via live embers carried on strong winds to the Courthouse cupola and the Presbyterian Church. The destruction of property was estimated by local papers at near $1,000,000 and the loss of five young men, only in their 20s, was inconsolable.

Amid the devastation of life and property, however, there was a powerfully good human spirit to be seen. And despite the tragic circumstances at hand, this generous spirit was fitting to the Christmas season.

Downey House Following Fire Loss of life was minimal thanks to the courage of the volunteer firefighters not only from Waynesburg, but also from neighboring companies who rushed to answer the call for aid, these included: East Washington, Charleroi, Fredericktown, Carmichaels, Jefferson, Buckeye Coal Company, Nemacolin, Brownsville, Masontown, Rices Landing and Bentleyville. The men battled the fire through most of the morning, gaining control of it by about 7:00 a.m. It was noted in the Democrat Messenger on December 25, that the Rices Landing company had only recently formed and received their first truck on December 22. Not yet in receipt of a hose, they borrowed what they needed from the Frick Coal Company before departing for the fire. Despite these obstacles, the young company was the third on the scene.

Firefighters were not the only people to rush to help. Among the survivors were the hotel manager and twenty-five guests who were roused by H. C. Schreiber, a jeweler, who was working in his store when the early morning fire was discovered. Mr. Schreiber’s store, located on the first floor of the Downey House, was destroyed, incurring at least $30,000 in damages, but rather than trying to save his property he rushed immediately to the second floor to sound the alarm.

Fear of the fire spreading to more buildings was strong and compelled residents of nearby apartments to evacuate. Ordinary citizens came forward to help these people quickly remove their most dear possessions from their homes before the fire could impose.

The Downey House fire had another long-term positive impact. A lesson learned, the Waynesburg community formed the Waynesburg Volunteer Fire Company on March 4, 1926. This company replaced the department run by the borough with a group of volunteers wholly organized and trained for the single purpose of fighting fires.

(Originally published by Candice Buchanan in Greene Speak, December 2005. Updated December 2012 for


Democrat Messenger, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 25 December 1925, page 1.

G. Wayne Smith, History of Greene County, Pennsylvania, 2 volumes (Waynesburg, Pennsylvania: Cornerstone Genealogical Society, 1996), 2: 839-840.

"Disastrous Fire Destroys Hotel Downey, Grossman Building and Presbyterian Church" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 24 December 1925, page 1, columns 1-4.

Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 31 December 1925, page 1.

Photograph 1 - Downey House, corner of Washington and High Streets, Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania. Reproduction, candid. Places Series. Waynesburg Subseries. Greene County Historical Society Collection, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. Online image digitized by Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Photo Archives Project. 2012. Item # To Be Assigned.

Photograph 2 - Remains of Downey House following fire 23 December 1925, corner of Washington and High Streets, Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania. Original, candid. Friends Series. William Francis Jacobs Collection Collection. Online image digitized by Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Photo Archives Project. 2012. Item # JACD_AN002_0046.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

As We Gather

(By Candice Buchanan)

The holiday season offers some of the best opportunities to tap those family resources. Be it minds or matter you need to explore, you should be prepared to take advantage of so many relatives in one place at one time. It is always tricky to set a time to get together with today’s busy schedules, but with two major family-oriented holidays only a month apart it is like having a built-in family history follow-up. At the Thanksgiving gathering begin your question-and-answer periods and let the kin know what family data or materials you are seeking. If an aunt comments that she has the family Bible or photos that you don’t have – well, that’s the beauty of the Christmas holiday coming just a few weeks later – simply tell her to bring them on December 25.

Before or after the big meal, break out those unmarked family photos and ask for help putting names to faces. Don’t just get the key figures like Grandpa or Dad, but get the names of every person. Ask when, where and why the photo was taken and write that down too. Keep track of who shared each photo to include in notes with any reprints you may produce – this will make everyone feel included and appreciated for participating.

Fill-in the missing leaves in your family tree for descendants as well as ancestors. Get full names (not just initials or nicknames), birthday/baptism/graduation/wedding/etc. dates and places, and any other details that sit-downs with your cousins can provide.

Ask to hear those favorite family stories, this time with a digital, audio or video recorder in hand, or at least a pen and paper. These interviews should go beyond the basic facts to include the interesting or fun details of life that will really add personality to your family history and preserve details that will otherwise be lost. In my family we grew up hearing a humorous tale about Grandma’s elderly aunt who only washed her hair once a year, and a more serious account of a younger aunt who comforted her family from her death bed saying it is “so beautiful to be with Jesus.” Stories such as these can turn a series of names and dates into a personable, intriguing report that will interest even the non-genealogists among your relatives. These details won’t be found in public records, the resources for these priceless pieces of history are the minds of your relatives. Don’t take those story-telling relatives for granted, recording their personal accounts should be a priority.

If you are creative, the photo or heirloom show-and-tell sessions and the interviews conducted on your Thanksgiving holiday may prompt unique gift ideas for the Christmas holiday. Photos can be restored or enlarged to look excellent framed. Combine the photos with family birthdays and anniversaries to create a handy family calendar (for some great ideas, check out this site and click “Products” to see previews). Interviews could be put on a family website or DVD for all to enjoy. Type up those family stories for a book along with special photos and documents too (like the calendars, I use this site to make really cool books that can look any way you want them to, they have great family history templates that you can 100% customize, and you can get personalized help for free if you need it). Begin a Memory Medallion full of all those collected memories to remember lost loved ones whom everyone thinks of so often at this time of year. All of these projects are do-able from your own computer or at minimal costs through professional services; yet, these gifts will be one-of-a-kind and valuable to generations of your family.

(Originally published by Candice Buchanan in Greene Speak, November 2006. Updated November 2012 for

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Man Who Brought Football to Waynesburg College

(By Candice Buchanan)

In the fall of 1894, a 20 year old transfer student arrived on the Waynesburg College campus bringing with him a passion for a young and still developing pastime.

Thomas Davies Whittles, the man who brought football to Waynesburg College, was born in Bardsley, Lancashire, England, on 27 December 1873, to Robert and Emma (Davies) Whittles. When he was ten years old, he immigrated to the United States with his mother and sister, landing in New York on 21 May 1884, after a voyage aboard the ship Helvetia.

Thomas was privileged to receive a preparatory school education at an institution where football was already being played. Outside of the ivy-league schools that had developed the game, football was only being introduced into a wider selection of colleges and universities in the 1890s, and Waynesburg, for its part, had neither received nor encouraged any such introduction, until Thomas came to town.

First Waynesburg College football team, 1895. Identified: BACK ROW – Thomas Spencer Crago (far left, team manager), Thomas Davies Whittles (second from right, credited with bringing the sport to Waynesburg), Jesse Hunnell Hazlett (far right, credited with the first-ever touchdown for the team); MIDDLE ROW - All unidentified; FRONT ROW – Frank Sellers Ullom (second from left).
Football was being denounced by many as an amoral and violent game. Few had actually seen the game played and even fewer understood its rules, so most of the anti-football sentiment came from rumors and ignorance about what actually went on. On the other hand, there was some reason for concern, at least in regard to physical health. The sport was still being refined with few official regulations yet adopted and little or no protective equipment available. Death and injury were a reality of the game.

So when Thomas Whittles arrived at Waynesburg College determined to play this notorious sport, he had more than one challenge to overcome. He first raised the $5.25 to buy a football, and then began to recruit and teach his classmates the basics of the game. But the real challenge came when it was time to convince Alfred Brashier Miller, much respected President of Waynesburg College, to permit an official team to form. In The Waynesburg College Story 1849-1974, author William H. Duesenberry recaptures this task, “Whittles and Miller had many private talks, with Miller stressing moral philosophy, and Whittles instructing him about the game.”

In the end, both men were apparently persuasive. Miller allowed for a football team to form and Whittles in a few years time would graduate into an esteemed Presbyterian minister.

In the fall of 1895, the first Waynesburg College football team took to the field. Duesenberry points out, “Whittles felt that Miller wanted to give football a chance, because five members of the squad were ministerial students.” With a minister-to-be as coach (and player) and five more minister-to-be men as teammates it became harder to make a moral argument against the game.

At the side of Thomas Whittles, was another Thomas playing a major role in the team’s development and continued existence. Thomas Spencer Crago, an 1892 Waynesburg College graduate, stepped up to serve as team manager. His presence undoubtedly added another degree of endorsement to the controversial sport. Crago was to become a celebrated military leader and United States Congressman.

On 4 December 1895, the Waynesburg Republican gave one of its earliest football recaps, “A game of foot ball was had on the Fair Grounds here on Thanksgiving Day, between the Washington boys and the home team. The game was an interesting one, and at times very exciting. Those who understand the rules of foot ball, say the game was a good one, well contested. The majority of the onlookers, however, ourself included, knew nothing whatever about the rules of the game, and were reminded more of a pig-fight in a hog-wallow than anything else, though it was interesting in the extreme. The recent rains had softened the ground, and after twenty-two young men had rolled and tumbled and dragged each other through four or five inches of very soft mud for an hour or two, the result was announced four to nothing in favor of Waynesburg….”

So began football in Waynesburg.

Thomas Whittles had only a short football career at Waynesburg College, graduating in 1896. Capped and gowned with him, was teammate Jesse Hunnell Hazlett, the man to score the first-ever touchdown for the College team.

Thomas attended Princeton Theological Seminary from which he received his degree in 1899 and was ordained in October of that year. He married Sarah Canning, of Minnesota, on 16 July 1902 and with her raised two children. After Sarah’s death, Thomas was united in marriage with a Greene County native and former Waynesburg College classmate, Anna Neonette Iams (Class of 1897). Thomas and Nettie were a fitting match, as Nettie, while still known as “Miss Iams,” served as the very first basketball coach for the newly developed women’s team at Waynesburg College at the turn of the century.

In April 1943, when Waynesburg College was trying to raise money selling war bonds via a football analogy that pitted students vs. alumni, Thomas’s name and status as the “father of football at Waynesburg College” and “our first coach” were used to help in the fundraising.

(Originally published by Candice Buchanan in Greene Speak, January 2006. Updated October 2012 for

Dusenberry, William Howard. Waynesburg College Story, 1849-1974. 1975: Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio.

"Introduction: A Brief History of College Football." Article. College Football Encyclopedia. : 2012.

Minnesota. Department of Health, Section of Vital Statisics Registration. Death Certificates. Minnesota Historical Society Library, St. Paul.

"New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957." Digital images. : 2012.

Pennsylvania. Greene County. Marriage License Dockets. County Clerk's Office, Courthouse, Waynesburg.

Sitherwood, Frances Grimes. Throckmorton Family History: Being the Record of the Throckmortons in the United States of America with Cognate Branches. Bloomington, Illinois: Pantagraph Printing & Stationary Co., 1929.

Waynesburg College Alumni Office, compiler. Waynesburg College Alumni Directory 1966.
Waynesburg, Pennsylvania: Sutton Printing Co., 1966.

Waynesburg College Football Team, 1895. Photograph by Hawkins. School Series. Greene County Historical Society Collection, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. Online image digitized by Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Photo Archives Project. 2012. Item # GCHS-AN028-0006.

Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 4 December 1895.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Photo Research Case Study - Local Celebrity

Jesse Lazear
(By Candice Buchanan)

The Greene County Historical Society in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania holds a carte-de-visite size photograph album connected to the Cathers, Inghram, Lindsey, Munnell, and related families. In the album is a CDV captioned "Jesse Lazear." The photographer stamp credits Whitehurst Gallery, 434 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.[1] This photograph shows up again, in combination with another pose from the same sitting, captioned as Jesse Lazear, as a loose CDV in the orphaned images of GCHS and also of the Waynesburg University Museum.[2]

This popular photo has made not only three archived appearances, but it has also made itself present in family photograph collections and research questions submitted by private families to the Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Photo Archives Project. Whether the image appears (1) captioned as Jesse Lazear, (2) captioned with an ancestor's name, or (3) without a caption at all, it has been cause for further research. In the first case, who is this man with a name that does not fit into the family tree? In the second and third, if this is an ancestor, why would he have had a photograph taken in Washington, D.C.? Did he reside there, or did he travel to visit or attend a special event?

Photograph Analysis

This CDV is an albumen print taken in the early 1860s. The beaver pelt collar that he appears to be wearing was at its height in popularity and a cravat was still commonly worn around the neck, the latter a style donned in larger form during the 1850s, but narrowing and beginning to look like a bow tie in the 1860s.[3] There is no revenue stamp on the back of the card-mount, as would have been common during the Civil War, specifically from 1 August 1864 to 1 August 1866.[4] So due to the early-decade fashions he is wearing and the lack of a revenue stamp, this picture was most likely taken prior to 1 August 1864.

Private photograph collections very often feature faces from outside of the family. By the 1860s, tintypes and CDVs were being produced in multiples and traded among friends. Both styles fit neatly into popular photograph albums, and photographers made the most of the trend by reproducing images to sell of famous figures: royal families, politicians, war heroes, and stars of the performing arts.[5] Consequently, it is not uncommon to find Ulysses S. Grant or Abraham Lincoln staring out from Civil War era albums a few pages from a great-great-grandfather. Though not images of family members, these famous photos still tell us about our ancestors' political views or give us a snippet of insight into their interests or sense of humor.

More common and more difficult to discern, are photos of friends, neighbors, and local celebrities such as popular community leaders, teachers, preachers, and others who frequent family albums. These images are less recognizable and do not immediately stand out to be non-family. They are often produced by the same local photographers, who took the family portraits and are consequently similar in studio appearance, card mount, and photographer marks. A study of the ancestor's community is the best way to solve these mysteries. If an image is captioned, compare the caption to rosters of classmates, lists of fellow congregants, neighbors in Census records, and so on. Captioned or uncaptioned photos both can be viewed against pictorial histories, yearbooks, institutional archives (i.e. church, school, fraternal or veteran groups), and community web sites that provide opportunities for photo sharing.

Caption Analysis

In this case, we find Jesse Lazear among the rolls of local politicians. He was Greene County's representative in Congress during the Civil War, having been elected to the Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth Congresses (March 4, 1861-March 3, 1865).[6] Jesse sat for famous wartime photographer Mathew Brady in 1865, providing an excellent identified image for comparison.[7] The popular CDV featured here was likely taken during his first term in office and circulated to his supporters back home. Even though Jesse lived his later years in the Washington, D.C. area, he was born, spent much of his active life in, and ultimately was buried in Greene County, Pennsylvania. Upon word of his death reaching friends in town, the Waynesburg Republican solemnly declared, "There is perhaps no person now living so universally well known and respected in Greene county."[8] This explains why he frequently appears in local collections of his era.

As to incidents of this photo appearing with captions naming family members instead of Jesse Lazear, these may indicate to whom the photo was given as opposed to who is in the photo. This is a frequent problem in any type of photo caption analysis and is a primary reason for testing the caption. It is also possible that in more than a century of photo ownership, notations have been added to the original image by a well-meaning relative who simply misidentified the image. Though captions are always a strong starting point for investigation, they must be treated like any other document in genealogical research. We must consider the evidence of a handwritten notation against other sources and be ready to reconsider our conclusion if new evidence comes to light.


During the early years of the Civil War, Jesse Lazear, aged in his late 50s, was serving as Greene County, Pennsylvania's representative to the United States Congress in Washington D.C. These facts make him the right age at the right place at the right time to be the subject of the Carte-de-Visite photograph that so often bears his name. His local celebrity status explains his image's frequency in local collections. Finally, the well-documented photograph taken by the era's famous photographer, Mathew Brady, provides a timely photo comparison to confirm the Lazear caption. It is reasonable to assume that any other captions found on this image were either written with an intention other than to identify the subject or were simply errors in identification.

[1] Jesse Lazear Carte-de-Visite photograph, circa 1860-1864, from Whitehurst, Gallery, 434 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.; Album 3 Series, Greene County Historical Society Collection (918 Rolling Meadows Road; Waynesburg, PA 15370), digital image scanned for the Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Photo Archives Project between 2005 and 2011; GreeneConnections ( accessed 4 June 2012), item # GCHS_AN004_0039.
[2] Orphaned images refer to photographs that were either donated without a record of provenance or were at some point separated from their original collections and consequently have lost any contextual documentation. Jesse Lazear Carte-de-Visite photograph, circa 1860-1864, from Whitehurst, Gallery, 434 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.; People Series, Greene County Historical Society Collection (918 Rolling Meadows Road; Waynesburg, PA 15370), digital image scanned for the Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Photo Archives Project between 2005 and 2011; GreeneConnections ( accessed 4 June 2012), item # GCHS-AN026-0116. Jesse Lazear Carte-de-Visite photograph, circa 1860-1864, from Whitehurst, Gallery, 434 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.; Greene County People Series, Waynesburg University Museum Collection (51 W. College St.; Waynesburg, PA 15370), digital image scanned for the Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Photo Archives Project between 2005 and 2011; GreeneConnections ( accessed 4 June 2012), item # WAYN_AN003_0007.
[3] Date of photograph determined from: Maureen A. Taylor, Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs, 2nd edition (Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tree Books, 2005), 92, "Men's Fashions" chart for years 1860-1870. Gary Clark, Photo Tree ( : viewed 4 June 2012), Photo Gallery - Confirmed Dates - 1860s. Family Chronicle, More Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929 (Toronto, Canada: Moorshead Magazines Ltd., 2004), 24-28.
[4] Taylor, Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs, 44-45.
[5] Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler and Diane Vogt-O’Connor et al, Photographs: Archival Care and Management (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2006), 40-43; Taylor, Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs, 39 and 41-42.
[6] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 - Present ( : viewed 27 February 2004), Jesse Lazear bio.
[7] Print from negative: "Hon. Jesse Lazear, PA," by Mathew Brady; Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes, compiled 1921 - 1940, documenting the period 1860 - 1865; National Archives, Washington, D. C. online image digitized by ( : accessed 30 May 2012); image number B-1248.
[8] Jesse Lazear obituary, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 5 September 1877, page 3, column 5.

Friday, August 3, 2012

When Great-Great-Grandfathers Go Hunting

(By Candice Buchanan)

Part of my devotion to (a/k/a obsession with) genealogy comes from the fact that my own immediate family knew and preserved so little. My paternal grandma was awesome for the photos and stories of her generation and even of her parents’ peer group, but of anyone further back she had no knowledge. For me, and for most researchers I know, family history has always been about so much more than names on charts. The entire Greene Connections project grew out of a desire to find and share the rare history hiding in attics and drawers and shoeboxes that could bring our ancestors to life in image and storied detail. And, so, a random little find prompts me to write today.

A month or two ago, I tracked down an 1880 marriage announcement in the microfilm of the Waynesburg Republican available at the Cornerstone Genealogical Society in Waynesburg, Pa. On the same page, I noticed an article about my Cook family. I printed the whole page to study later and today I finally got to read it thoroughly. The following is a story I never knew about my great-great-grandfather Thomas Hamlet Cook [1859-1928], while he was still a young bachelor, and had things gone differently my family would never have been.

"Accidentally Shot Himself" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 14 January 1880, page 3, column 7.
"Accidentally Shot Himself"
On New Years day, a young man named Thomas Cooke, son of Mr. Wm. H. Cooke, of Centre township, near South Ten Mile Baptist Church, accidentally discharged a load of shot into his person, inflicting a severe wound. He and two or three other young fellows were out with guns and he was standing resting the breech of his shot gun on the ground, when by some unknown means the gun was discharged, the charge entering the unfortunate youth's breast near the left nipple and passing through the shoulder making a ghastly orifice. Medical aid was immediately summoned and at last accounts, the patient was slowly improving. It was a narrow escape from death, and we trust it will not disable him to the extent feared."
Interestingly, a “Mere Mentions” column that I found a few years ago in the same local newspaper, also revealed one of the few random facts I know about another great-great-grandfather, William Daily Buchanan [1847-1922].

Will Buchanan article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 17 February 1875, page 3, column 2.
"Will Buchanan, two miles from Waynesburg, discovered a den of skunks last week. He dug down until a small aperture was made into the hole, and as one would show his head--attempting to get out--he would take it on the snout and lay out his skunkship. He took out eight of the odoriferous animals, and it wasn't a very good day for them either. The eight hides netted him about ten dollars."
Two random stories, unintentionally discovered, brought a little life to my family tree. Keep your eyes open as you search, you never know what unexpected discovery awaits.

If you have made some surprising and interesting discoveries in your Greene County research that you want to share, please post to the comments section below!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The “Rain Day Boys”

(By Candice Buchanan)

Before July 29th was a day of celebration, there was a day of honor and sacrifice; before a solemn plaque of names was placed on the armory wall, there was a youthful band of soldiers marching through those armory doors. The “Rain Day Boys” as they are affectionately known today compose 17 of the 53 Greene County lives lost in World War I. The connection of this particular group of soldiers to the date of our local holiday, they having made the ultimate sacrifice on July 29, 1918, provides an easy reason for us to remember them. And by recognizing these few on this day, we will hopefully be reminded of all the men and women who fought for us then and who fight for us today. AUTL_AN001_0004

In honor of July 29th and the anniversary of their last battle, the Rain Day Boys are remembered here. Click each name to view the more complete stories that are with them at their grave sites on Memory Medallions. Click through the Memory Medallion tabs to see photos, videos, and web links related to each soldier’s life. If you can help us to further these stories with additional photos or details, I’d love to hear from you.

Bert Buchanan – Born 2 May 1892, the fifth of ten children born to Charles and Catherine (Reese) Buchanan. Prior to enlistment he was employed by Charles Thompson. He was a member of the First Baptist Church, from which funeral services were held 8 August 1921.

Harold T. Carey – Born in 1896, a son of Thomas and Belle (Smith) Carey. Harold was a 1917 graduate of Waynesburg High School. His funeral services were held 7 August 1921 from the Presbyterian Church.

Hallie J. Closser – Born 14 February 1885, a son of James Wesley and Elazan (Garner) Closser. He became a successful farmer. Prior to WWI Hallie enlisted to fight for his country during the trouble with Mexico and served with Company K on the border in 1916. His funeral services were held 24 July 1921 from the First Baptist Church.

Harry Dunn – Born 15 January 1895, a son of Washington & Martha (Helt) Dunn. He was a member of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Ruff Creek, from which funeral and burial services were held 25 July 1921.

John G. Duvall – Born 8 January 1897, a son of Cassandra Alice (Duvall) McNurlin. He was a student at Waynesburg High School and would have graduated in the class of 1918 if he had not joined the military. He survived July 29th, but died as a result of the wounds he received that day on 20 August 1918.

Floyd T. Hickman – Born 13 February 1896, the eldest of seven children born to Lindsey McClelland & Cora Lee (Fordyce) Hickman. Floyd graduated from Center Township High School in 1915, and from Waynesburg High School in 1916. He also attended Waynesburg College for one year before enlisting. His Memory Medallion includes the full text of his last letter home written 13 July 1918 from “somewhere in France.” Floyd’s parents waited so long for word of the return of their son home for burial that they became convinced he was missing. On 11 November 1921, when an unknown American soldier, killed in France, was buried at Arlington Cemetery, Lindsey and Cora traveled to attend the ceremony. They were convinced that this soldier was their son. However, a short time later Floyd’s grave in Europe was located and he was sent home to his family and buried at the family plot in Green Mount Cemetery.

Benjamin A. Manning – Born 22 July 1893, a son of John and Emma (Bare) Manning. He was an expert mechanic and for several years was employed by the Acklin Lumber Company of Waynesburg. He enlisted in Company K, 110th Infantry, when the trouble arose between the United States and Mexico in 1916 and he served on the border with the company, then a unit of the old "Fighting Tenth" Pennsylvania Regiment. He was the company mechanic and artificer while on the border, and continued to serve in this capacity during WWI.

Fred W. Marshall – Born 24 February 1897, a son of George W. & Mary Margaret (Bush) Marshall of Time. Fred was buried on 31 July 1921 following funeral services at the Union Valley Church. Fred's older brother, George Jr., was also killed in action in France on 17 August 1918. The brothers were their parents’ only sons. A special memorial to the brothers is located at the family gravesite in West Finley Cemetery. On the day the memorial was dedicated over 2,000 people attended the ceremony to remember the boys and others like them who had fallen in service to their country.

George T. McNeely – Born August 1899, a son of Simon Coen and Martha (Clark) McNeely, of Harveys. He was shot in the leg during the battle of July 29th, but refused to seek aid and stayed on the front line. He was never recovered. His name appears among the missing on a memorial wall in Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau, France.

Francis B. Moore – Born 25 March 1893, a son of William Arthur & Elizabeth (Guthrie) Moore. Francis was first hit in the leg by a machine gun bullet, but refused to go to the rear and remained with the company until later he was hit again and killed. His funeral services were held 7 August 1921 from the home of his parents.

Charles E. Murphy – Born 1897, a son of Dennis Herman and Lucy (Jones) Murphy. His funeral services were held 7 August 1921 from the Wind Ridge Presbyterian Church.

John Milton Paden – Born 1885, a son of Jesse Randolph Paden. Before entering the military John lived for several years with his aunt, Elizabeth Watters, in Waynesburg. John was fond of athletics and played on the Waynesburg College football team for several seasons.

Walter Burtrum Riggle – Born 30 October 1894, a son of Lewis & Nora Etta (Kuhn) Riggle. Walter attended the public schools of Aleppo and later attended high school in Wind Ridge, finishing his education at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. While in college he took an active part in athletics and was able to travel throughout the state with the football team. When not attending school he worked at intervals for the Wyoming Oil Company.

Lawrence Leslie Staggers – Born November 1896, a son of James Ellsworth & Amanda (McVay) Staggers, of Bristoria. Lawrence had undergone an operation for appendicitis and was told by his superior officer that he would be discharged and could go home. Lawrence begged to be permitted to stay, saying that he wanted to fight to the finish. His plea was granted and he continued on with his company. His funeral services were held 27 July 1921 with burial in the Staggers Cemetery on the old family farm in Jackson Township.

William Webster Throckmorton – Born 25 August 1897, a son of Thomas Morford & Annie (Webster) Throckmorton. He was educated in Waynesburg High School and attended Waynesburg College prior to enlistment. He was a member of the football and basketball teams as a star player. Though he survived July 29th his injuries placed him into hospital care where he contracted pneumonia and died just before being sent home 18 September 1918. William's is a particularly tragic story because of the inevitable delay of communication between Europe and the United States. On 26 September, days after his death, William’s family received a happy letter saying he was coming home for them to nurse back to health. Word of his death reported 10 October was supposed by his family to be an error. Confirmation of the sad news did not come until 17 October. A letter he sent home 30 April 1918 can be seen on his Memory Medallion.

Russell Karl Yoders – Born in 1899, a son of William Henry & Clemma (Durbin) Yoders. His funeral services were held 24 July 1921 from the First Methodist Episcopal Church.

Norman M. Zahniser – Born in 1894, a son of William S. & Ada M. (Alexander) Zahniser. He was a graduate of Waynesburg High School, attended Waynesburg College and was a student at State College when he enlisted in the U. S. military. He was prominent in athletics, being a star on the college and high school football, basketball and baseball teams.

(Originally published by Candice Buchanan in Greene Speak, July 2005. Updated July 2012 for

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Census - The Personal Public Record

(By Candice Buchanan)

The Census is a wonderful record revealing to researchers trivia about their ancestors every ten years of their lives. Censuses 1790 to 1940 are now accessible to the public, with one exception being 1890, which burned, almost completely, leaving one bothersome (sometimes maddening) blank spot in our decade by decade details.

Census records make a great foundation for further research by outlining where and with whom our relatives lived, in addition to details about birth, occupation, education, income and more. What is really exceptional about the Census though, is that it goes a step further - a step taken when the Census taker walked into our ancestors’ homes.

The Census asks for a particularly family-oriented set of data unlike most other records. By viewing household members and their individual details we gain insight into the day-to-day home operations, like which son or daughter cared for the aging parents; which aunt or uncle took in orphaned nieces and nephews; how many children could attend school vs. how many were needed to work the farm, and so on. Additionally, the Census has a certain lack of formality that allows a more personal element of every day family life to present itself. For example, misspellings or unusual variations of common names can clue us in to pronunciations or nicknames used at home. Educational and occupational information let us know who in the home could read and write, and what role each person played in household labor.

The tricky part of Census research can be simply finding who you are looking for. That personal touch and lack of formality that makes the Census so unique can also make it more challenging to search. Aside from the frequent spelling errors, there are always those ancestors who decided not to live where you expected them to be – and you are left with a whole nation of possibilities.

Advice to conducting a successful search of the Census can be reiterated to apply to almost any record genealogists consult. Most particularly, you have to keep an open mind and you must look at the original record. Be prepared to accept entries that are not exact and be sure to consider every possibility. Don’t ever assume that "this is not my family" because a name, age, birthplace, etc. is not just right. Many ancestors could not read or write and even if they could someone else often did the paperwork, such as the courthouse clerk, lawyer or, in this case, the Census taker.

Consider the source. There is no way to know who answered the Census taker’s questions when each house call was made. It could have been one of the eight children, Grandma who spoke broken English, or worse, a neighbor down the road. How many members of your household today could provide correctly spelled names and accurate birth days and places of everyone living in your home? Not to mention how many children Mom had given birth to and how many still lived, as asked in 1900 and 1910? Or how old Dad and Mom were when each was first married, as asked in 1930? Even if the head of the house was home to do the interview, it is impossible to know how meticulously he or she responded. Perhaps the family Bible was pulled for accuracy, or maybe the cow was milked between rushed answers.

Researchers seem particularly negligent about viewing the original when it comes to the Census because so many records have been transcribed and published for us. While such works are excellent aides and provide many research leads, they are not a replacement for the real thing.

Consider a researcher who was frustrated that George Cumberledge could not be located in 1810. A closer look revealed that Cumberledge had been misspelled and then mis-transcribed. A look at the original document shows "George COMBRIDGE" enumerated in Wayne Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania on page 15 (stamped). A popular 1976 publication, Pennsylvania 1810 Census Index, by Accelerated Indexing Systems, Inc. (AIS), shows him as "George CORNBRIDGE." Though otherwise correctly referenced by AIS, this combination of misspelling and mis-transcription made George challenging to find. It was necessary to take a more liberal look at the spelling possibilities and return to the real document to make an independent assessment. Sometimes a familiarity with local names and families can help to read a sloppy or unusual entry.

Similarly, I was having no luck exploring a name index for the family of Harriet Eldora (Mitchener) Baily in 1920. I tried searches for every potential member of the household with no result: soundex, various spellings, nicknames – nothing. Finally, I went to the original Census and scrolled page by page through Cumberland Township until a suspiciously similar family appeared under the Gwyne surname. Ultimately, the census taker made an error when recording this Baily household. Instead of writing Baily into the surname field, he continued to use his mark quoting the Gwyne surname from the previous neighbor's home. Consequently, the Baily family members are listed as Gwynes. To make matters worse the Gwyne surname, misspelled to begin with, was poorly written and has been transcribed in at least one interpretation as "Guyme."

Know that the Census record, like any other piece of evidence in your search, does not stand-alone to establish proof of your family history. Each fact should be compared with other records for support or contradiction. The Census is one of those important records to be included in your family history, however, and can offer a unique addition to your genealogical knowledge.

(Originally published by Candice Buchanan in Greene Speak, January 2007. Updated July 2012 for