Sunday, January 31, 2016

Photo of the Week: Joseph Throckmorton Sr. Letter (1862)

Joseph Throckmorton Sr. [1]
(By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist)

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: On August 2, 1862, Joseph Throckmorton Sr., age 77, sat down to write a letter to his second wife, Laura (Peck) (Gilbert) Throckmorton, age 63. Laura was at home on their farm in Morrow County, Ohio, to which the envelope is addressed, while Joseph was visiting his family in Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania, from where the letter was written. The envelope itself is postmarked in nearby Harvey's, Pennsylvania, a post office in Center Township, Greene County, on September 7.

Joseph's letter - page 1
Unique documents such as this letter, family Bibles, diaries, and more are being scanned along with photographs for preservation and access as a part of the Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania, Archives Project. You can view shortcuts to those that have been posted so far on the Documents tab.

Rare documents like this letter are treasures that hold a variety of precious gems for family and local history. Most obviously, Joseph's letter mentions the death of his niece Catherine (Throckmorton) Cole and her children, and also notes several of the adult children by the first marriages of both he and his current wife, Laura. Locally relevant, is a single line about the formation of a company preparing to leave Waynesburg for the Civil War, as well as an infestation affecting the crops. To the many descendants of Joseph, though, the most impacting aspect of this letter will no doubt be the opportunity to know his time and place, and practically hear his voice, for these few moments on August 2, 1862.

Joseph's letter - pages 2 and 3
Joseph's letter - page 4
Joseph's handwriting, word choices, grammar, subject selection, and endearments to his wife, all give us a small glimpse into his personality and mannerisms in a way that the cold vital records we so dutifully collect never can. Documents like this are uncommon finds and should be scoured for every detail they reveal. This letter has been transcribed for ease of reading, but if you do not also study the handwritten pages you will miss out. My favorite little insight is on the bottom of the last page, when Joseph is affectionately signing off and inadvertently misspells his wife's name. He scribbles out his error to write a corrected version. This notable fix stands out among other misspellings he left alone. He was dutiful about how Laura's name was to be written.

Before leaving you to read Joseph's message, I will end by noting that this recent acquisition was obtained via eBay auction, fortunately seen and able to be obtained for Joseph's descendants and is now in the custody of Glenn Toothman, Joseph's third-great-grandson. Recently, an incredible photo album shared for this family was found at a flea market (see the VanCleve-Throckmorton Album). Keep an eye out for your ancestors' priceless heirlooms, they could be anywhere waiting to be found!

Joseph and his family are being gradually added to the Greene Connections Tree on Ancestry, view Joseph's profile to see his obituary and more. If you would like an invitation so that you can view the tree for free email

Joseph's letter - envelope with Harvey's Pa. postmark
Joseph's Letter [2]

"Waynesburg Green[e] Co Pa

August 2, 1862

Dear wife

I take the presen[t] / opportunity to let you [know] that I / received yours the 23 July / and am glad to hear from / you that you are well as / common, as for my self I / am not very well I am / very weak and have fell / away very much in flesh / I wrote a letter to John that / if he would come in in the / turn of 2 or 3 weeks I would go / home with him Daniel & Joseph / has so much to do & it will / be so late before they are done / harvesting or one of them would / come home with me, pleas[e] let / me know on what condition you / get the hay cut & who done it // as I wrote to John to / consult you & to get some / one to cut it & I would pay / for it[.] 

I wish you would get some / one to cut that wood if / you can if Jack won't do it / & I will pay for it.

I wish you would let me / know how the mare looks / & if they tended the corn / with her[.] I would like to / know how the hogs is doing / and if they have growed / much[.] There is a great / many little things that I / would like to know a / bout, but I cannot mention / them in / a short let[t]er you will / pleas[e] let me know in your next / anything that would be interesting / to me // as I think a great / deal about you & home[.] / you wished to know / which one of James['] Daughter[s] / it was that died it was / Catharine, Cole[']s Wife[.] She / lost all four of her children / & dyed [sic] her self.***

Those lice you speak of / has ruined the oats in / this county and I think / they hurt / some of the wh / eat all though jenerally [sic] / the wheat is good / they call them abolition / lice here[.]

They are listing men / here for nine months / There is a company make / ing in town & will soon / be full. The children is / all well so far as I know[.] //

I conclud[e] with / my respects to John / & family Needles & / family and all that / may enquire after / me[.]

give my respects to / Mary Dill[.]

let me know in your / next if Whiteley is at / home. Tell Mary Elen / not to let it bee too long before she writes / that letter[.]

So now I conclude with / my sincere love to you / my Dear wife

This from your husband

Joseph Throckmorton to his / wife Laura Throckmorton"

***Catherine Throckmorton was the daughter of James Robinson Throckmorton, Joseph's brother. She was married to John W. Cole. is a free local history archival project. Sponsored by LOLA Energy.

[1] Frances Grimes Sitherwood, 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), 169, photograph of Joseph Throckmorton [1785-1881] - son of Job Throckmorton & Mary Robinson.

[2] Joseph Throckmorton, (Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania) to Laura Throckmorton, his wife (Sparta post office, Morrow County, Ohio), letter, 2 August 1862; Glenn Jacob Roy Thornton Toothman III Collection, privately held by Glenn Jacob Roy Thornton Toothman III, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 2016. Glenn received the original letter intact with its envelope after it was purchased via eBay auction. Joseph was visiting Waynesburg and writing the letter to his second wife, Laura (Peck) (Gilbert) Throckmorton, at their home in Ohio. Owned and shared with the Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Archives Project in 2016 by Glenn Jacob Roy Thornton Toothman III - son of Glenn Jacob Roy Thornton Toothman Jr. & Katherine Jane Throckmorton.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Photo of the Week: Waynesburg College Music Conservatory Graduates 1916

(By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist)

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: One of the most exciting benefits to a community project such as Greene Connections, is how the research becomes collaborative. Photograph collections from three families and one repository together, contributed to the identification of these five beautiful Waynesburg College Music Conservatory Graduates, Class of 1916.

Sara Virginia (Elms) Simpson
We began in the Waynesburg University Paul R. Stewart Museum, given archival access by curator James "Fuzzy" Randolph, as we scanned the entire collection of alumni images 1852-1938, which you can view by visiting the Waynesburg University Museum Collection (to use index or search engine visit Photo Archives). Among the priceless images were five damaged, but still salvageable, gorgeous portraits of ladies identified only as 1916 Music Conservatory graduates. Alumni records provided a list of names and we were able to immediately identify one of the five because her family had already shared a photo collection with Greene Connections. That first young lady to step forward was Sarah Virginia (Elms) Simpson - wife of Frederic Wheeler Simpson, daughter of George Harvey Elms and Evaline Florence Morris. View the Sarah Virginia (Elms) Simpson Collection, shared by her daughter Eva Mae (Simpson) Grim and granddaughter Cicely Stewart-Kunsman, to see more photos. She was a part of the well known Elms Brothers Machine Shop family of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, and on her mother's side, her grandfather Robert Morris was a carpenter responsible for woodwork that can still be admired in Miller Hall on the Waynesburg University campus today.

Phyllis Affery (Beatley) Trescher
We posted the remaining four ladies with the alumni list of candidate identifications to Greene Connections for public view. This phase requires patience, but in good time we were so happy to be contacted by John D. Boykin and his mother, Marybeth (Trescher) Boykin, who were able to identify their grandmother and mother, respectively, Phyllis Affery (Beatley) Trescher as one of the young women pictured.

Helen Delilah (Patton) Leckey
The final identifications came in a grand swoop with the wonderful contact of Candace (Leckey) McPheron who not only recognized her grandmother Helen Delilah (Patton) Leckey, but also had a clipping from a 1916 issue of the Waynesburg College publication, The Collegian, which included a group photo captioning all five graduates!

Helen Delilah Patton was a daughter of Joseph Patton and Ella Rebecca Webb, two long-established Greene County families. Candace's grandfather Howard Louis Leckey Sr. was also a Waynesburg College graduate (Class of 1918) and wrote a the well-known Greene County, Pennsylvania history book, The Tenmile Country and Its Pioneer Families: A Genealogical History of the Upper Monongahela ValleyCandace went on to share her family photo collection which you can view in full by visiting the Candace (Leckey) McPheron Collection and scrolling through.

Frances Jane (Fry) Caldwell
The article shared by Candace allowed for the final two faces to be accurately named. Frances Jane (Fry) Caldwell was a daughter of William Fry and Elizabeth Klineberger. And, Goldie Ruth (Loughman) Summersgill was the wife of Ralph Summersgill, and a daughter of George Loughman and Eliza Pettit. With these image identifications intact, the Waynesburg College Music Conservatory Class of 1916 now has a complete photographic alumni roster.
Goldie Ruth (Loughman) Summersgill

Watching as each graduate lit up with an identification that reunited her not only with her classmates, but also with her family, was especially fun and rewarding. Please keep this example in mind as you puzzle over unidentified photos. We can work together to solve these mysteries! You must give a little to get a little - share your photos! The context of these 1916 graduates was a vital clue. Watch for context clues in your photo collections. Finally, be patient, persistent and have fun! is a free local history archival project. Sponsored by LOLA Energy.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Photo of the Week: Lisbon Staggers Home, Whiteley Township, Greene Co., PA

(By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist)

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Lisbon Leander Staggers [1820-1909] is pictured here, with several of his children, in front of his home in Whiteley Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania.
Lisbon Leander Staggers family home, Whiteley Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania. Pictured [Left-Right]: Ida (Staggers) Roberts [1871-1938], Lisbon Leander Staggers [1820-1909], Elva Staggers [1880-1965], Unidentified woman, Unidentified man.
This photograph was preserved by his daughter Catherine Miranda (Staggers) Bowlby [1855-1941]. The Bowlby family left Greene County, Pennsylvania, to reside in Kansas. Away from home, Catherine maintained her photos in loving condition as reminders of family, friends, and even clearly labeled "beaus" from her youth. Her collection passed to her son Ralph Bowlby [1889-1988] and after his passing family friends saved the pictures from destruction. They charitably scanned and shared all images with the Greene Connections project and recently provided many of the originals to be archived and studied in more detail. These images include the one above, We are very grateful to them for seeing the value in history that was not their own and taking the time to share it with us. Click this link to see the entire Catherine Miranda (Staggers) Bowlby Collection.

Lisbon Staggers property, Caldwell's Atlas (1876)
Lisbon Leander Staggers is profiled in Samuel P. Bates’ History of Greene County, Pennsylvania (1888), where he is noted as “a retired farmer and stock-dealer” in Kirby, Pennsylvania.[1] We see Lisbon first buying property in Whiteley Township in 1857[2] and his family appearing there in the Census accordingly in 1860.[3] Lisbon added to his property over the years, expanding his farm. He appears in a number of transactions in the Greene County Deed Books. In 1876, Caldwell’s Atlas credits him with 200 acres and shows a house on the property[4]. In 1888 Bates credits him with “300 acres of good land where he and his family now live.”[5] 

Lisbon was twice a widower and raised a large family of children with each wife. Many descendants would consider this an ancestral homeplace.

Itinerant photographers often visited rural areas to take photos like this of families in front of their homes. These pictures can be a rich addition to your genealogy and provide interesting details about the life and times of our ancestors. Sometimes identifying the house may be easier than identifying the people. If so, conduct a title search to follow the deeds and reveal the property owners of the featured house. Match the picture to the right time period and you may identify your candidate family.

See more pictures like this in Greene County, Pennsylvania, by visiting the Photo Archives section and clicking Keywords then looking for such terms as House and Property. is a free local history archival project. Sponsored by LOLA Energy.

[1] Samuel P. Bates, History of Greene County, Pennsylvania (1888; reprint, Mt. Vernon, Indiana: Windmill Publications, Inc., 1998), 895-896, biographical sketch of Lisbon Staggers.
[2] Greene County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book, 15: 358, Grantor: Otho Spragg and Lydia his wife of Greene County, Pennsylvania; Grantee: Lisbon Staggers and Archibald Gump of Greene County, Pennsylvania, Date of instrument: 4 August 1856; Date of Record: 1 September 1857; Office of the Register & Recorder, Courthouse, Waynesburg.
[3] Lisbon Staggers household, 1860 U.S. census, population schedule, Whiteley Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania, Newtown post office, page 850 (stamped)/263 (written), dwelling 1830, family 1865; National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 1114.
[4] J. A. Caldwell, Caldwell's Illustrated Combination Centennial Atlas of Greene Co. Pennsylvania (1876; reprint, Mt. Vernon, Indiana: Windmill Publications, Inc., 1995), 100, Whiteley Township map showing Lisbon Staggers property and house.
[5] Bates, History of Greene County, Pennsylvania, 895-896, biographical sketch of Lisbon Staggers.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Photo of the Week: Rice-Fordyce Wedding

(By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist)

Joshua and Henrietta (Fordyce) Rice
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Carte-de-Visite photograph of Civil War veteran Joshua Rice [1840-1896] and his wife, Henrietta (Fordyce) Rice [1846-1920], on their wedding day 4 November 1866.

This original image was captured by Rogers Brothers, Opposite Public Square, Waynesburg, Penna.

The featured couple are at the center of the fantastic John Robert "Bob" Rice Collection, which includes eight series and subseries containing over 160 photos. Scrolling through each of these series is fascinating. The pictures represent not only the Rice and Fordyce extended families, but also neighbors, friends, and community scenes. Also included are Civil War comrades, some of whom were imprisoned with Joshua Rice at Andersonville. Most of the photographs are identified. Researcher contributions credited throughout the collection have enriched the descriptions.

Click the following link to view the John Robert "Bob" Rice Collection. Next, click on each series, and then make a final click on the first photo in each series, to begin touring these historic local images. Detailed captions appear beneath each picture.

The Rice-Fordyce Series photographs were passed from Joshua Rice [1840-1896] and his wife, Henrietta Fordyce [1846-1920], to their son John Lockwood Rice [1886-1964] and his wife, Mary Irene Phillips [1887-1959], to their son John Robert Rice who owned and shared the photographs with the Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Archives Project in 2006. is a free local history archival project. Sponsored by LOLA Energy.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Photo of the Week: Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, Circa 1876

(By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist)

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: This wonderful image of Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania, is featured in such publications as Fred High's Waynesburg Prosperous & Beautiful (Brown & Whitaker, 1906) and more recently in Images of America: Waynesburg (Arcadia, 2015). The original photograph, though, comes to us from the Helen Mae (Jacobs) Fonner Collection shared by George and Anna (Fonner) Blystone.
Waynesburg, Circa 1876

Family collections often include pictures and papers that go above and beyond immediate family context and actually hold value to a much wider audience. Though this photo was published in High's excellent 1906 book, the ability to scan and study the original image enhances the quality and provides a better ability to zoom-in on specific details.

Dating the Photo

Methodist Episcopal Church, built 1876, on right
High dated the photo as 1875, but the Methodist Episcopal Church on Washington Street was built 1876, and is clearly visible with its unique steeple in the photograph, indicating the picture dates closer to that year or shortly thereafter.

It is unlikely that the image dates later than the mid-1870s, due to the state of the three cemeteries in the picture. The Commons Cemetery (at the site of today's Monument Park) and the old St. Ann Roman Catholic Church Cemetery (further right along the fence line) can both be seen, which is a rare treat! In the late 1870s, both cemeteries were abandoned and removed to the hilltop to Green Mount Cemetery, established 1853, and the new St. Ann Cemetery which was established just north of Green Mount in 1877. Also in 1877, the entry road to Green Mount, off of Morris Street, was improved with the stone wall and columnar entry way. These do not appear to be in this picture.
Commons Cemetery stones are visible in front of Union School (later North Ward). Further right, along the fence line are the stones of the old St. Ann Cemetery. Green Mount Cemetery, established 1853, is above on the hilltop.

Zooming-in on the Photo

This is an image well worth taking the time to zoom-in and study. To do so, click on the photo once to open it in Flickr, then click on it once again to zoom-in,

As an aid to identify significant featured locations, a numbered version of the picture has been created. View and zoom-in on it in the same way. Below is a key to the numbered highlights.

Waynesburg, Circa 1876 (Numbered version)
The following locations have been identified:

1) Cumberland Presbyterian Church, built on High Street 1868
2) Walton Hotel on the northwest corner of High and Morris Streets
3) Presbyterian Church (steeple), built on Morris Street 1849
4) Methodist Episcopal Church, built on Washington Street 1876
5) Downey House, built on the southwest corner of High and Washington Streets 1869
6) Greene County Courthouse, built on the southeast corner of High and Washington Streets 1850-51
Close-up showing #8 - Original Greene County Courthouse, built 1797
7) Messenger Building, formerly the Hamilton House, on the northeast corner of High and Washington Streets
8) Original Greene County Courthouse, built 1797 on Greene Street, as of 2016 the location of the Cornerstone Genealogical Society
9) Flour mill
10) Hanna Hall, built 1850 on Waynesburg College campus
11) Union School, later North Ward, built 1864
12) Commons Cemetery
13) St. Ann Roman Catholic Church Cemetery
14) Green Mount Cemetery, established 1853
15) St. Ann Roman Catholic Church

Bonus Photo

Research at the Greene County Historical Society revealed a sister photograph that expands the view provided by the Fonner Collection image. This exciting addition turns the camera just slightly southwest allowing us to line up some of the central landmarks in both pictures.

Neither image bears a photographer stamp.

Waynesburg, Circa 1876 (Southwest view)
Further Fonner Collection Gems

This historic Waynesburg photograph is part of a larger series and collection including many family photographs for early Greene County families including Jacobs, Kent, Barnes, Dulaney, and more. Visit the Helen Mae (Jacobs) Fonner Collection to scroll through the images. Use the Collections or Keywords links, and the custom Search Engine, all located on the Greene Connections Photo Archives tab to search the nearly 9,000 photographs and documents that have been shared.

The Jacobs-Kent Series probably began with Eleanor Ann (Kent) Jacobs [1832-1902], wife of Henry Moore Jacobs, and daughter of David Kent & Elizabeth Barnes. Eleanor's photographs were passed to her son Joseph Warren Jacobs [1868-1947] to his daughter Helen Mae (Jacobs) Fonner [1922-1999] to her daughter Anna (Fonner) Blystone who with her husband, George Blystone, owned and shared the photographs with the Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Archives Project in 2005. Each generation added to the collection with photographs from their own family and in-laws. The Jacobs-Kent Series is a part of the Helen Mae (Jacobs) Fonner Collection. is a free local history archival project. Sponsored by LOLA Energy.