Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Monday, December 30, 2019

#111 Who Are You?

Native New Yorker … Relocated to the Midwest ..College professor…volunteer at Greenfield Village …traveler…researcher…dog lover…reader…chocolate lover…genealogist

Thursday, December 26, 2019

#110 --Challenges to Solve

Challenges are all around us.  Rather than blog about an ancestor who faced a challenge, I decided to write about a genealogy challenge that I am working on.  As I worked on my genealogy, I noticed that I had a group of ancestors that seemed to have lot of ties to each other.  They sold each other land, married brothers and sisters, and moved to similar locations.  For want of a better name, I call them the Tribe.  Then learned about a doing a cluster analysis of a group of ancestors, and decided that that is what I would do with my tribe. 

The idea of a cluster analysis is that people do not live in isolation.  They often lived near relatives, friends and neighbor.  They were involved in each other’s lives.  Anyone can be included in a cluster, but it typically involves siblings, extended family, and those living close by.  Thus, your research is expanded in the hope that you will learn more about your direct ancestors. 

So to do this, I first needed to define my cluster or tribe.  The main tribe is the sons and daughters of David and Elizabeth Mears and the sons and daughters of John M. Hannah and Charity Mears, who moved from Brown County, Ohio to Edgar County, Illinois. 

Inspecting what I have already learned, the Mears cluster would include the sons and daughters of David and Elizabeth Mears:

Mary Mears
Samuel David Mears
Elizabeth Mears
Catherine Mears
William Mears
Nancy Mears
Jane Mears
Charity Mears
Sarah Jane Mears.

This is the part of the cluster that I plan to explore first.  My first task would be to find out who each one of these individuals married.    Just dealing with this group should keep me busy for quite a while.  I want to know about their children, where they lived, who they sold land to, etc. as well as what I can learn from census data. 

Friday, December 13, 2019

#109 Christmas Traditions--Santa Claus

When I was about five years old, my mother bought a center piece for our Christmas table.  It was a Santa in a sleigh with a music box in it that played Jingle Bells.  It has been on our Christmas table for as long as I can remember.  My father really liked to wind up the music box and hear Jingle Bells, even if we were not seated around the table.

When I cleaned out my parents' house after they died,  there was Santa, right in the closet where he spent the rest of the year.  I brought him to Michigan and now it drives his sleight in my family room on the side board.

Here is a picture of the Santa in his sleigh with the reindeer, who seemed to have lost their antlers along the way.

Now for a close up.

And lastly a real closeup.  I did not realize until I took this picture, how sweet Santa's face is.

He still plays Jingle Bells and if he could talk I know he would wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  

Thursday, December 5, 2019

#108 Needlepointing

I do not think of my ancestors as being particularly talented in terms of crafts.  However, when I look around my house, I see several things that my mother made. 

My mother was an avid needlepointer.  I can see her sitting on the sofa, with her needle point in her lap.   I have two footstools that she made.  

Here is the red one 

and here is the gold one. 

She also taught me to needlepoint.  Several years ago, I found a needlepoint canvas that I did years ago, and turned it into a pillow.

She also made a number of kneelers for the altar at our church.

I would like to ask my mother more about her needlepointing>  When she started?  Who taught her? Which piece did she like the most?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


This week’s theme is thief and I found one in my family. 
One day while looking at the cases in the Old Baily in London I discovered this transcript of testimony in a trial for theft which involved my great great uncle, Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane. 

Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane was born on May 12, 1809 in London, England.  His parents were The Honorable Andrew James Cochrane and Ann Morgan.  Andrew had two brothers, William and George, and one sister, Anna Maria, all born in London.   In 1828, he married Emma Shaw at St. James Church, London, England.  According to the baptismal records for his daughter Emma, in 1830, the family lived on Museum Street, in London, and from the records for his son, Charles, in 1832, on Court Street.  Both records indicated that Andrew was an assistant overseer.

Here is the record from the Old Bailey from 1832

Mr. Thomas Adams is one of the directors of the poor of St. Giles' in the Fields and St. George, Bloomsbury - the prisoner was employed there as a schoolmaster, and to superintend the making of books and eyes ; he had for that, in addition to his keep, 12s. a month.
Old Bailey
WILLIAM WOODS . I am a wire-worker - I furnish the parish of St. Giles' with wire, to be worked up into books and eyes. On the 24th of August the prisoner brought this bill to me for 5l. 18s., for making books and eyes in the rough state, for which I found the materials - I paid him by a cheque on my bankers, Messrs. Young and Co., in Smithfield; this is it - it was returned as paid; on the 8th of October he brought me another bill, which was incorrect, but upon a second application, I paid him five sovereigns and 12s. in silver.
ROBERT WAINWRIGHT . I am master of the work-house. The prisoner ought to have accounted to me for these sums, but he never did.
COURT. Q. Was he employed by you to bring sums of money to you? A. The directors of the poor employed him, and he was to account to me as their agent; I used to pay him the 12s. a month.
PHILIP RILEY . I am beadle of St. Giles'. I took the prisoner; he said he understood he was wanted, that he was very glad, and had he met any of us in the street, he certainly should have given himself up.
GUILTY. Aged 26.
Recommended to Mercy . - Confined Six Months”

Erie County Savings Bank
Shortly thereafter Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane and William Cochrane along with their families migrated to the United States and settled in Buffalo, New York.  From what I could find about Andrew in Buffalo, he was an outstanding citizen.  The City Directories for Buffalo list the associations, organizations, and churches as well as the individuals who held offices in them.   In 1837, Andrew was the recording secretary of the Young Men’s Association, a literary society, which i  A year later, he was still the recording secretary, but also on the library and by-laws committees.  In 1847-48, he was the Assistant Secretary of the St. Andrews Society, a group for those of Scottish descent; a notary public,  and the Deputy District Grand Master of Erie District #3 of the Odd Fellows.  From 1847 to 1849, he was a trustee of the Unitarian Church.  Beginning in 1855 and until his death, Andrew was the general account for the American Merchants’ Union Express Company, which I believe was the forerunner of American Express.
s described as having a “well-selected” and large library of books and was the forerunner of both the Buffalo Public Library and the Buffalo Museum of Science.

I would like to talk to Andrew and find out more about incident.  Did he really think he would get away with it?  Why did he need the money?  Where was he confined? Did the arrest lead to his coming to the United States. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

#106 Soldier

I think of the he War of 1812 (1812-1815) as a kind of forgotten war.  It is sandwiched between the Revolution War and the Civil War and does not get a lot of attention.  However, it was an important war.  It was fought because of British restrictions on U.S. trade, America’s desire to expand its territory, and the impressment of United States sailors into the Royal Navy. 

The war did not go well for the United States with several defeats.  Most notable was the burning of the White House in 1814.   However, the The United States was victorious in New York, Baltimore and New Orleans.  

My great great great grandfather, James Hannah fought in the War of 1812.  He enlisted in the 147 Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia under Colonel Rees Hill.  They were stationed in Erie, Pennsylvania to guard the navel facility.  There is no other information about what he did in the war or how long he served.  

If I could talk to him, I would like to know exactly what he did, how long he served, and if he was in any battles.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

#105 Poor-- Ann Morgan, Poor in Information

This week’s theme is poor.  Poor in money? Poor in land?  Poor in children?  How about poor in information?  That would fit my great great grandmother, Ann Morgan. Other than her name, and a couple of pieces of information about the birth of her children, she is a mystery.

So what do I know that can be verified.  According to the Church of England Records, Andrew George Corbett Cochrane was baptized in January, 1810 at St. Marylebone, London.  William was baptized in 1811, and a year after that Anna Maria Cochrane was baptized.  In 1813, George was baptized.  Three years later, George died.  In each case The Honorable Andrew James Cochrane Johnstone was listed as the father.  However, there is no record of a marriage between Andrew and Ann.

Unfortunately, Morgan is a common name and so is Ann.   I figured that Ann had her children in her late teens or very early 20.  That would mean that she was born in the 1790’s.  Both the 1841 and 1851 census list an Ann Morgan who would be the right age.   The only other piece of information is that she was an upholsterer. 

So I am stuck.  I would love to ask Ann some of these questions?  Who were your parents?  Where did you live?  How long was your relationship with Andrew Cochrane Johnstone?  Did he support you and the children?