Monday, August 22, 2016

Catherine Shick VanBilliard, U.S. Postmistress, "U.S., Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971", Operations, Inc, 2010, Catherine VanBilliard, Freemansburg Postmistress
Today in The GeneaBloggers Daily there was an article from talking about how common it was for women to hold the position of "postmistress". I remembered that I had come across one in my VanBilliard line. She was Catherine Shick VanBilliard. She was married to Herman VanBilliard and widowed in 1889. It was mentioned in the article that it was more the case to hire single women to the post as with married women it was expected that she would be taken care of by her husband. So I guess since Catherine was a widow when she received the Appointment 8 Oct 1897 that qualified her for the position., "U.S., Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971", Operations, Inc, 2010, Catherine VanBilliard, Freemansburg Postmistress
Catherine showed on the census records as Postmistress in Freemansburg, Northampton, PA up to and including the 1910 census.
Images of America, Lower Saucon Township, Arcadia Publishing, 2005, pg 13
In this photo Catherine is the woman seated in the middle of the front row. The men in the photo are her sons, Howard, Harry and Reese are in the back and Russell is next to her. The other woman is her daughter in law Carrie, she is Howard's wife. Catherine died 19 Jan 1944.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Goodies on the Childs Family

A few weeks ago my son James said that he has a coworker whose maiden name is O'Donnell and her mother's maiden name was Childs. He asked me to see if there are connections in our families. He got me information on the O'Donnell's but there was nothing I could connect. I always say that O'Donnell is the Smith version of Irish, it is just such a common name.

So then we went to the Childs name. This was the maiden name of my ex mother in law, so my children's paternal grandmother. My son's coworker is my age so when he asked if I could find Leon Childs in our tree I looked at their great grandfather, George W. Childs and found that Leon was indeed George's oldest brother. So I told James that his coworker was indeed his cousin!!! They were both thrilled. So this past week she gave both James and I a copy of this family chart that starts with Leon and George's parents, John W. Childs and Clara Priscilla Aikin. She also loaned me this wonderful photo album to scan. It is filled with so many treasures, I had "photo envy" seeing all the photos she has.

Childs Family Reunion, 25 Aug 1956, photo privately held.
This photo was the last time the family had gotten together. When my son saw it he told me that he found his grandparents in the second row from the back on the right. He asked me is the man in front of my ex mother in law was her brother. I told him to look at the man on her left, I knew that was her brother. It seems the seated row behind the children would be the children of John and Clara. George Childs is the man holding the hat in that row with his wife Hazel next to him on the left.

This is such a great find to get all of us up to date. I think my ex mother in law would love this, she passed away last year and my ex died in 2000. But this is something for my kids and my grandchildren to see and learn. James loves this that he has been working with his cousin for the last 3 years and did not know it!

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Visit to Gratz, PA

Yesterday my son Rob had a doctor's appointment in the nearby town of Gratz. I went along with him and we found some things for an ancestor of my children.

I knew about Leonard Reedy, he is the 4th great grandfather of my first husband. So he is the 5th great grandfather. Leonard served in the War of 1812 and he was a gunsmith. I knew there is an Historical Marker in Gratz for Leonard. I had the photo that someone else had put on Ancestry and I really wanted to get my own photo for my tree. So I said to my son that after he was done with the doctor we should look for it. When we pulled into the parking lot he asked me to put up the photo on my iPad, we looked at it and figured it was on the main street. Then he scrolled to the next photo and it was his grave marker. Here right across the street from where we were was a Church with a cemetery. I said that was most likely where he was buried. After the doctor we went over there and found his and his wife's graves, and I took photos of them and found that there was a marker for him being a veteran of the War of 1812. I then took photos of the church sign, corner stone and the church itself.

Then we found the Historic Marker. As you can see he was known for being the gunsmith making Pennsylvania Kentucky Rifles. Well I saw as we were pulling away from the curb and taking the photo of the marker that the Gratz Historical Society was right across the street from the marker. That will be a trip for another day. But what we found today was great.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ellen Tracy Fitzpatrick-Mid Wife

Today I found another birth certificate with my 2nd great grandmother, Mrs. James Fitzpatrick, listed as the mid wife at delivery. I have found her name on a few family members since the PA birth certificates from 1906-1908 became available. This one is for Gertrude Elizabeth McKelvey, my 1st cousin, 2x removed. This is the first one that was not Ellen's grandchild, but she is still family. Her Gertrude's mother was Mary O'Donnell and the sister of Ellen's son in law, my great grandfather, Cornelius O'Donnell. “Pennsylvania Birth Records, 1906-1909” [database online]. No 43304, Gertrude McKelvey entry, born 1 March 1908, accessed 11 June 2016. Citing: Pennsylvania (State) Birth Certificates, 1906-1908. Series 11.89 (50 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

This photo of Ellen was taken at her son, Thomas Fitzpatrick's studio in Bessemer, AL. His first child was born in 1892 so the theory is that she may have gone down there to deliver his child since she had been doing that with her grandchildren that were in Hazleton where she lived. 
photo taken in Ellen’s son Thomas’ studio in Bessemer, AL around 1892. original in private possession

In the "History of Luzerne County Pennsylvania with biographical selections" by Henry C. Bradsby, ed. that was published in 1893, I found Ellen's name listed in the "Medical" chapter. The section began with, " The law requiring physicians and accoucheurs to register went into effect in 1881, and the records show the following:" The name Ellen Fitzpatrick appeared near the bottom of the page. 

Ellen Tracy Fitzpatrick died in 1911 but I am sure that there a many birth certificates in Hazleton, Luzerne County, PA that have her name on them. I wish I could find someplace that would have records for the mid wives listing the babies they delivered.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Finding Jerome VanBilliard in Civil War Prison Camps

Ellen VanBilliard, widow's pension application no. 317526 (rejected), for service of Jerome VanBilliard (Pvt., Co. B, 153 PA Inf., and Co. A, 112 PA H. A.); Civil War Pension Files, accessed 25 Apr 2016, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

After posting about the information I found in Jerome's Civil War service file, I dove into his pension file and found some wonderful information. On the first page of Ellen VanBilliard's Widow's Declaration for Pension I found the answer I had been looking for. She stated that after he was taken prisoner at Chapin Farm, Virginia he was held at Salisbury Prison until June of 1864, which I am sure should be June of 1865 because his capture was in September of 1864. She said that during his confinement he contracted rheumatism and deafness and that he was afflicted until he died 7 April 1877. This was the day before his 40th birthday. He died of Typhoid Fever.

Reading about Salisbury Prison I found that in February of 1865 a new exchange program was approved and the men at the prison and the men were moved after being divided into two groups. The more able-bodied prisoners were taken by train to Wilmington, North Carolina and the group of sickest prisoners were sent to Richmond. According to the Salisbury Confederate Prison Association, the prison was then turned into a supply depot, but it held no prisoners when on April 12,1865, 3 days after Lee's surrender, Union General George Stoneman arrived in Salisbury to free the Federals. The prison was burned. If the men were to be exchanged in February of 1865 who did General Stoneman come to free? If he thought these men were still there, what happened to them in February, where were they taken if not exchanged. Why did Ellen say that her husband had been there until June? Looking further into the pension file I found what happened to Jerome in February 1865.

Ellen VanBilliard, widow's pension application no. 317526 (rejected), for service of Jerome VanBilliard (Pvt., Co. B, 153 PA Inf., and Co. A, 112 PA H. A.); Civil War Pension Files, accessed 25 Apr 2016, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
So this document is a time line os what happened to Jerome from the time he was captured at Chapin Farm. The POW records have him captured 29 Sep 1864 and confined at Richmond, VA then sent to Salisbury N.C., 9 Oct 1864. He was Paroled at N.C. Ferry 28 Feb 1865. This lines up with the Salisbury Confederate Prison Association report. Then Paroled at College Green Barracks, MD 13 Mar 1865. He was sent to Camp Parole, MD 14 Mar 1865. He was furloughed March of 1865 for 30 days. He returned from the furlough 3 May 1865. No medical certificate for the extension of furlough on file so he was sent to his regiment 4 May 1865. I am guessing that the furlough was for him to be in the hospital. Then he was discharged by order of the War Department and Mustered out on Individual Roll 28 Jul 1865.

So I found that there are records for both Collage Green Barracks and Camp Parole, MD at NARA so I guess this is the next place I need to look. The descriptions say they contain registers, rolls and list of paroled prisoners, 1862-1965 including the camp hospital. So I know a lot more than I did last week, but there is more to find out

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Jerome VanBilliard, Civil War Prisoner 2x?

Compiled service record, Jerome VanBilliard, Pvt., Co B, 153 PA Infantry, Civil War; Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780s-1917, Stack Area FW3, Row 2, Compartment 23, Shelf 3; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

I have been in Civil War record heaven this weekend having received some records from my "Genealogy Angel" Susan Bleimehi. It is so much fun going through these records. One of the things I was hoping to find out getting my 2nd great grandfather, Jerome VanBilliard, service record was to find out where he was held when he was a Prisoner of War. It turned out that it gave me some surprise information.
In reading this document it said that he was held at a Parole camp in West Chester, PA. this had me confused until I looked it up and found on Wikipedia that a parole camp was where Union soldiers on parole were kept by their own side in a non-combat role and I found that there was such a camp in West Chester, PA called Camp Elder. Then in reading further it said that they had no dates but that he was returned to his regiment July 18/63. So they did not have a date that he was captured, but looking at the records he is last marked Present for March and April of 1863. then he was returned to his regiment 18 Jul 1863 and then 24 Jul 1863 he was mustered out when the regiment was disbanded.
So one of the surprises would be that I never knew that he was captured when with the 153rd. This also means that he was not at Gettysburg with his unit because he was a prisoner at the time.
So the capture I knew about was when Jerome was with the 2nd Regiment, PA Heavy Artillery, 112th Volunteers. He had enlisted in this unit 26 Jul 1864, 10 days after the birth of my great grandfather. He was captured 29 Sep 1864, just 2 months later at Chapin Farm in Virginia. This was the capture I knew about and I think that was referred to in his pension file.
So I guess I will have to get his service record for 112th to get the info on that capture. this is so much fun finding all this. I will keep looking at all this and have more to talk about. I not only have Jerome's info but two of his brothers.
So I will keep looking!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Finding my McCarry's in Ireland!!!!!!

I really have not done much research since moving to my new place but I have this weekend and what a break through!
It all started with me watching the movie "An Affair to Remember". Love this movie.

 This movie was directed by Leo McCarey and I got to wondering if he could have been related to my McCarry's. I looked him up in Ancestry and found that he was born in LA and he is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Calvert City, California. My one family member that lived in California, Margaret McCarry Kirk, is buried in the same cemetery. I know no big deal. I found out that Leo McCarey's father, Thomas, was born in Illinois and his father's name was Patrick and he came from Ireland. Well this is where I went off the track of Leo McCarey and picked up my own McCarry's.What happened was when I started looking for Patrick my own Patrick started coming up. the first thing that came up was this baptism record for Patrick's son Michael. When the preview of the record came up and I saw Antrim I knew I was on the right track because I knew they had come from Northern Ireland. Then I saw the parents name of Patrick McCarry and Mary Stewart. Bingo! Michael was my 2nd great grandfather, Patrick McCarry's younger brother. Michael was baptized, 11 Jun 1858 in the Ramoan Parish, County Antrim, Ireland. "Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915" [database on-line]. Baptism Record for Michael McCarry dated 11 Jun 1858 accessed 9 Apr 2016. citing: Catholic Parish Registers, National Library of Ireland, Ireland. Published under the National Library of Ireland's terms of Use of Material made available on

 The next record I found was for Hugh McCarry. Hugh was baptized 16 Jun 1849 in Culfeightrin Parish, County Antrim, Ireland. I looked in John Grenham's book, "Tracing Your Irish Ancestors". He has Parish maps of each county and these two are right next to each other.  The Diocese for this area is Down & Connor Diocese. "Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915" [database on-line]. Baptism Record for Hugh McCarry dated 16 Jun 1849 accessed 9 Apr 2016. citing: Catholic Parish Registers, National Library of Ireland, Ireland. Published under the National Library of Ireland's terms of Use of Material made available on
 The next record I found was the baptism for Mary McCarry. Mary was baptized Ramoan Parish the same as Michael had been. She was baptized 13 May 1855. "Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915" [database on-line]. Baptism Record for Mary McCarry dated 13 May 1855 accessed 9 Apr 2016. citing: Catholic Parish Registers, National Library of Ireland, Ireland. Published under the National Library of Ireland's terms of Use of Material made available on

 The last record I found just too wonderful. It was the marriage record for Patrick McCarry and Mary Stewart. My 3x great grandparents. I could not believe it. They were married in the same Parish that Hugh was baptized in, Culfeightrin Parish, County Antrim, Ireland. "Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915" [database on-line]. Marriage Record for Patrick McCarry and Mary Stewart dated 4 Jul 1841 accessed 10 Apr 2016. citing: Catholic Parish Registers, National Library of Ireland, Ireland. Published under the National Library of Ireland's terms of Use of Material made available on
I have not found a record for my 2x great grandfather Patrick or his older brother John, but I am still looking. Hopefully I will find them.