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.

Thursday, December 27, 2018


It is almost 2019—a new year.  Time to make some genealogy resolutions. 

My first resolution is to complete all 52 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge with my blog.  I did it this year so I think I can do it again.  However, I think this year will stretch me some as I have blogged about most of the ancestors that I know well.

Second, I want to complete a cluster analysis of my Hannah-Mears ancestors.  I want to trace their movements from Brown County, Ohio to Edgar Country Illinois.  Then figure out where they went from there and who stayed in Edgar County.  I would also like to be able to plot their movements on a map.

Last, I would like to complete six on-line webinars. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

#159--Nice--Christmas Decorations from the Past

The theme for this week is “nice.”  How perfect for the week before Christmas.  I decided that I would blog about some of the Christmas items that I have inherited.  Remember, this family does not discard much that has sentimental value and Christmas items do indeed have a lot of sentimental value.

Let me start with a couple of Christmas postcards that were sent to my father.

I also inherited ornaments that hung on my mother’s tree.

 Little Old Santa
A bell that actually rings


And my father’s tree -- A holder for a candle, not something I am going to try putting a candle in.

When I was very young my mother bought this Santa in a sleigh.  Santa even comes with a music box which plays Silent Night.  He is somewhat the worse for wear but I love him, just the same.  It has been in the center of the dining room table for as long as my parents were alive, and now it spends Christmas on a table.  When I walk by it, I often wind up the music box and listen to Silent Night.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

#158--Naught Incident at the Palace Hotel

.Palace Hotel

My great grandfather, John Wesley Hannah (1838—1899) ran the Palace Hotel in Butler, Missouri.  I discovered that Chronicling American, a Library of Congress web site, had the newspapers for Butler.  When I searched for the Palace Hotel, I got lots of information.  The paper wrote about the parties that took place there, the renovation to the hotel, and the comings and goings of various guests.  It also reported on an event that I would classify as “naughty,” which is this week’s theme.

It appears in 1886 the town decided to hire two night watchmen—Wesley Jones and Decatur Smith.  Why they thought they needed them is not clear to me.  According to the reporter, shortly before February 3, 1886 Smith came to John Wesley Hannah and told him that a gang of thieves was coming
to Butler to rob Bernhard’s jewelry store.  To catch the thieves, Smith said that they need to book room 17 on the third floor of the Hotel so that they would be able to see the robbers arrive.  Hannah told Smith they he could have the room and that he would do what he could to help them.  Hannah told the Newspaper reporter that Jones and Smith had the room for six nights and were joined by Captain Davidson and a man by the name of Welsh. 
Then Smith told John Hannah that the burglars were going to wait to rob the jewelry store until the weather was warmer and would not need the room now.  Smith paid Hannah 50 cents per night for a total of $2.00

About a week later Smith told Hannah that they needed the room again because they got word the robbers were coming.  Hannah gave them room 17 again for 4 days.  Hannah said that he became suspicious of what was going on when he went to bed about midnight because there was a lot of noise coming from room 17.  He decided to investigate the next morning.   Before he was able to, the maid came down to tell him that there was a lot of blood in the room and in the wash bowl.  John Hannah got the Town Marshall and together they went to the room.  After looking it over, they concluded that one of the men had hit his nose on the chair below the transom while standing on it and looking out it down the hall.  When confronted, Smith told Hannah, that they were not looking for burglars but were spying for Captain Davidson on one of the lady guests to ensure her virtue and chastity!  Smith paid John Wesley Hannah for the room, but not for the $5.00 cleaning fee.

When interviewed Captain Davidson denied any knowledge of what had happened.  According to the reporter when “Captain Hannah tackled him (Davidson) about fooling him, he cried like a baby.”

I would love to know more about this, but there was nothing more in the paper.  I would like to know what the night watchmen were supposed to be doing, and why no one realized they were not doing it.  Were any of the other guests suspicious or have anything to say about the incident?  I was also impressed that the paper said they were  not going identify the woman who was being spied on, but I would like to know what she thought

Saturday, December 8, 2018

#157--Let It Snow, Let it Snow More

Everyone who has lived in New York City has heard of the Blizzard of ’88, the epic snowfall that pretty much paralyzed the city.  In fact I blogged about it several months ago.  However, most people do not know or have never heard about the Blizzard of 1947.  I was a small child then so I do not really remember that storm, but have heard about it from my parents.  Wanting to know more, I googled Blizzard of 1947 and discovered that Baruch College NYC data has a very comprehensive summary:

Similar to the Great Blizzard of 1888, the blizzard of 1947 was an unexpected visitor, ready to wreak havoc on the post-holiday calm that had settled over NYC. The weather bureau predicted cloudiness and cold winds throughout the day, but little mention was made of snow accumulation. On December 26, 1947, snowflakes began their descent unexpectedly and within the next 24 hours the city was covered by 26.4 inches of white mounds, with snow falling at the rate of 3 inches per hour. Although the blizzard of 1888 had a more powerful impact, claiming up to 400 lives and destroying communication systems all across the north Atlantic States, one distinguishing factor puts the blizzard of 1947 in the ranks of the strongest snow storms to ever hit the NYC region: 

The blizzard of 1947 was fed by the moist weather traveling up from the Gulf Stream and cold weather coming from the north, but what made it different was an absence of high wind speeds and below zero temperatures that made the blizzard of 1888 so deadly. The blizzard of 1947 was known as a mesoscale storm; instead of affecting a vast area evenly, it descended on one spot with a concentrated force.
NYC's transportation systems were devastated, cars and buses were stranded in the streets and train stations faced delays of up to 12 hours. The estimated number of people killed by the storm was 77 and it was widely speculated that if temperatures were colder and wind speeds more severe this number would have been much higher. Other issues that developed during this crisis was a lack of efficient snow plows, slow police response due to inadequate staffing to manage the overwhelming activity of phone lines and difficulty with delivery of crucial supplies to people and local businesses. Although the exact figure is unknown, the damage caused by this storm is estimated at several millions of dollars.”

 I also found a great old news video.  Just click.on the arrow.


Since it was just after Christmas, my aunt, uncle, little cousin and grandmother were staying with us.  As my mother told the story on the 27 of December when it stopped snowing, we had run out of milk, something that you need if you have small children.  So my father and uncle decided that they would walk in the street down to a dairy they knew about and get milk.  They bundled up and off they went.  A little while later they returned, not only with milk, but also with ice cream, I believe the flavors were pistachio and chocolate.  

If I could talk to my parents, I would like to know where they bought the milk and ice cream; how far away it was, and how hard it was to walk in all that snow.  

Sunday, November 25, 2018

#156--Next-to-Last--A Project

This week’s theme is next to last.  I was pretty clueless about what to do with that.  I did not want to blog about someone who was the next-to-last child in a family, or about a next to last job.  But I had another idea.  I would blog about my next-to-last project. 

I have become interested in the movement of members of my family, both closely and not-so-closely related.  So to do that you have to know where they lived.  Family Tree Maker has a mapping program, which I decided to learn to use.  It lists all the people in your tree and any places that are associated with them.  The nice part is that you can see where each person moved and plot it on the map.  For example, I can see that my great grandfather moved from Edgar County, Illinois, to a variety of different places during the Civil War, to Butler, Missouri, to Sterling, Kentucky, where he died.  It will also list everyone who lived in a particularly place.  I was interested in learning exactly who moved from Brown County, Ohio to Edgar County, Illinois.

The problem was that I had not consistently used the same place name for Brown County. Sometimes, it was just Brown County, other times it was Brown County, Ohio, and other times it Brown County, Ohio, USA.  According to the tutorial I watched the last designation is the correct one.  The place name should go from the smallest place to the largest.  So Brown County, Ohio, USA is the correct designation.

What I had to do is go to the list of place names and find those that had Brown County in them and convert each one to Brown County, Ohio, USA.  Unfortunately, I could not figure out if it was possible to convert them all at once, I had to do it one by one.  That took a long time.  However, by the time I finished 70 people were associated with Brown County, Ohio.  If I look at the dates the people lived there it was from the early 1800’s to the mid 1900’s.

Now the current project is to do the same thing with Edgar County, Illinois, which is where my great great-grandfather moved.  Once I know who lived there, I can compare the two lists.  That gives me what I think of as a tribe or a group of people that move together.  Once that is done, I can look at the relationships among them, e.g. who sold or bought land from whom, who married whom, etc.  Stay tune and I will let you know what I find.

I would like to know how they traveled from Brown County to Edgar County.  Did they go over land?  Did they go down the Ohio River and then up the Wabash River?  Or did go partly down the Ohio and then overland to Edgar County? Did they go all at one time?  If not, who was first and who was last?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

#155 Thankful for Thankful

The theme for this week is Thankful.  I thought about blogging about what I was thankful for in terms of genealogy, but decided to take a different route.  I remembered that in the 1700’s women often had names that were virtues—Patience, Temperance, Modesty, etc.  So decided to look and see if I had any female with that kind of first name.  It did not take long for me to find Thankful Stratton. I am the 4th great grandniece of her husband, Ebenezer Richards.

Like most women of that era, there is not much information available of about her, but here is what I could find.  Thankful Stratton was born on December 17, 1721, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Lydia Fuller and Ebenezer Stratton.  Thankful Stratton married Ebenezer Richards in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 24, 1741.  They had ten children in 20 years. 

She died on June 1, 1796, in Dedham, Massachusetts, at the age of 74.  She is buried in the Old Village Cemetery  in Dedham, Massachusetts.  Their tombstone reads:

“In memory of  Dean. EBENEZER  RICHARDS who  departed this  life Feb. 27th 1796  Æt. 80 years.    Right panel:  In memory of  Mrs. THANKFULL  RICHARDS, consort of Dea. EBENEZER RICHARDS  who departed   this life 1 June 1796  Æt. 76 years.    Bottom panel:  He performed the office of Deacon  in the first church of Dedham for 27  years.  Blessed are the dead that died in the Lord”

Thursday, November 15, 2018

#154--John W. Hannah--What Happened?

The theme for this week is a random fact.  I tried to think of a fact that really did not fit with what I knew about a person.  My great grandfather, John Wesley Hannah, fought in the Civil War.  He enlisted in the Illinois 62 as a private, and by the end of the war was the Captain of his company.  I ordered his war records from the National Archives.  Everything looked find and rather routine in the records, he was where he should have been in terms of muster, carried out orders, and was selected to be the provost marshal at one point.  So you can imagine my surprise, when I found the following:

Head Quarters of South Kansas
Fort Gibson, Sept. 8, 1865

Special Order
No 147
Capt. John W. Hannah
County 62 Ill. Vet Infantry is hereby placed under arrest for disobedience of order and will confine himself to his quarters. 
By order of Liet. Colonel James True   
Commander of the District

Head Quarters of South Kansas
Fort Gibson  Sept. 10, 1865
Special Order 148

The Board of Survey convened for Special Order 47 is hereby dissolved. 
Captain John W. Hannah is hereby released from arrest.
By order of Liet Colonel  James True

There is no indication in the file exactly what happened to place him under arrest.  So if I would talk to John Wesley Hannah, I certainly would ask him. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

#153--Abiathar Richards--That is a Great Beard

Beards are back in vogue and they are this week’s theme.  When I saw that theme, I immediately knew who I was going to blog about—my great grandfather, Abiathar Richards.  I have a wonderful picture of him which is the centerpiece of my gallery wall.

About thirty years ago, when my great aunt, Henrietta Richards, died, her family called my father and asked if he would like the picture of Abiathar Richards that they had.  My father said yes, thinking that it would be a rather small picture.  Imagine his surprise, when they dropped off a portrait that is about 3 feet tall, and 2 and a half feet wide.

To me he looks like a typical gentleman of the late 1800’s—dress coat, high collar, and tie.  However, his most distinguishing feature is his elegant mustache and beard.

I  knew that I had blogged about Abiathar Richards before, and was interested to see that he was the subject of my first genealogy blog, so if you would like more information about him, click here:  Abiathar Richards. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

#152--A Scary Place

Halloween is this week and our genealogy theme is scary.  So what is more scary than a graveyard.  I have visited the graves of lots of my ancestors so I decided to use some of the pictures I had taken there.

Several years ago I visited Paris Illinois in Edgar County and went to the Hannah plot.  In the plot, I found the graves of my great great grandfather, James M. Hannah, and three of his daughters, Albertine, Mary Sayres, and Catherine.   The oblelisk is for James, and the three smaller headstones are for the daughters.  Albertine Hannah left money in her will for the plot, obelisk and headstones.

The Village Cemetery in Dedham, Massachusetts contains lots graves as well as some very old graves that are not marked.  The first picture is of the very old gravestones—the names on them are very hard to read.  The Richards graves tend to be located close to each other.
Old Gravestones 
Abiathar and Elizabeth Richards

In the row of gravestones to the right, my great great grandparents, Abiathar and Elizabeth Richards have the second and third stones.

Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn is a very large historic cemetery, in fact it is on the list of historic place.  My family actually has three plots in Greenwood—the Cochrane plot, the Hannah plot and the Richards plot.  My grandparents and parents are buried in that lot.  When I was growing up we lived fairly close to the cemetery, so we used to visit often.  We usually visited the Hannah plot first as it is very close to the entrance.  My grandparents and parents are buried in that lot.

Then we might drive over to see the Richards Lot, my great grand parents, Abiathar and Emma (Merrett) Richards are buried there along with my great uncles and their wives.

Until several years ago, I did not know where the Cochrane lot was, but with the help of a very good map of the cemetery, I was able to find it in an older section of the cemetery.  My great grandparents, William and Emma (Merrett) Cochrane as well as several of their children are buried there.  The two little headstones in the front say Father and Mother.  I really like that lot, it is off the beaten path and in a very quiet spot.

I do not necessarily  find cemeteries scary, I just find them very interesting. I wonder about the lives of the people who are buried there, who they were, and what they would think of the world today.  .

Friday, October 26, 2018

#151--James Willey--A Cold and Lonely Death

Most people die of an illness, usually at home or in the hospital.  So when someone dies in a different way that that kind of stands out.  That was the case with my great, great uncle, James Willey, at least that was the way he was in the census records when he was a child.  It seems that after serving the in Civil War, James changed his name to Signoir Montanio and became involved in the circus.  According to the newspaper articles, James or Sig. Montanio performed as an acrobat, trapeze artist and high wire walker.  And from looking at the newspaper articles, he was very good.  Performing was a family affair.  His wife had a musical act and played the banjo while his two sons also performed, sometimes as clowns and other times as acrobats.  It appears that James and his family were involved in the circus world until 1898. The 1900 census lists him as living in Graham, Arizona Territory and working as a painter.  However, by 1910 James was living in Crook National Forest, Gila, Arizona and working as a ranch hand.

James died on November 8, 1918 in Pinal County, Arizona.  According to the local newspaper, he was camping, became sick and froze to death while returning to town, probably to seek treatment for his illness.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

#150--Conflict in the Goose Saloon

The theme this week is conflict.  I immediately decided that I would blog about my great aunt’s husband, Harlan Turner.  He was involved in a gun fight and that certainly fit the definition of a conflict.  Harlan was born Morgan County, Kentucky on February 27, 1857 to James and Elizabeth (Trimble) Turner. The 1860 and 1870 census describe him as living at home with his parents in Kentucky.  In 1880 Harlan is living in Valley, Linn, Kansas.  He is described as a farmer and a partner in the farm. When he arrived in Butler, Missouri is a mystery to me.  He married my Aunt Gert Hannah in Butler, Missouri on April 4, 1890.   Then they divorced 9 years later.

I had had great success in learning about my relatives who lived in Butler, by reading the Butler newspapers on the Chronicling America website.  So I decided that I would see what I could learn about Harlan. Imagine my surprise to read that he was involved in a gun fight in a saloon in Butler.

 From the article, this is what seems to have happened.  Harlan Turner and his friend, J. W. McVeigh had spent most of the day from noon to early evening drinking in the Goose Saloon.  About 7 o’clock they began to hit each other over the head and in the face with their hats.  To avoid further trouble, the bartender closed the bar, and Turner and McVeight left, and went their separate ways.

Later in the evening they both returned and their gun fight ensured.  The bartender, Robert Plummer,
described the incident as follows:

Harlan Turner was tried in Circuit Court in Butler .  A variety of witness testified as to what they had seen and Turner testified indicating that he shot McVeigh in self-defense. After describing a verbal interaction with McVeigh, Turner said the following:

After defense rested, the jury began its deliberations about 8 o'clock in the evening and returned a verdict of not guilty 15 minutes later.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

#149 Sports

Sports--I was really pleased to see that this week's theme was sports.  I come from a family that is pretty athletic and was involved in lots of different sports--golf, swimming, tennis, sailing, basketball, etc.  So it was a little hard for me to figure out how I was going to tackle this theme.  Remember, that I come from a family that does not throw out things that have sentimental value and sitting right in my family room was my father's lacrosse stick.  What a great thing to write about.
Lacrosse Stick

In high school, my father played both lacrosse and hockey.  When he went to college he focused on lacrosse.  Lacrosse was originally played by Native Americans.  The game involves ten players whose goal is to put a small rubber ball in their opponents net by using a long handled stick with a pocket at the end.  No hands are allowed to touch the ball.

Freshmen Lacrosse Team--Yale

My father was captain of his freshmen lacrosse team.  In this picture, he is the one in the middle holding the lacrosse stick.

After his freshman year, he played on the varsity lacrosse team.  In 1926, he was elected to the third All American Lacrosse Team.
All American Lacrosse Yale in the 1920's

I wish I had asked more questions about his playing lacrosse--who they played, were his friends of the team, how often did they win.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

#148 Ten--Tenth Place to Live

This week’s challenge was to blog about ten—ten of anything.  I had a couple of ideas—families who had ten children, the tenth person on the tenth page of my list of ancestors, etc.  Family Tree Maker can generate a list of where people lived so I decided that I would blog about the tenth address on that list.

That turned out to be 206 Gennessee Street, Auburn, New York, the home of my great uncle and aunt, Charles Walton and and Anne (Hannah) Ross and their daughter, Gertrude, and son, Charles. Jr.  
On January 6, 1895 Charles Ross and Anne Hannah were married in Butler, Missouri.  They moved to Auburn, New York by 1900.  According to the 1900 census, they had been joined by Anne’s brother, William D. Hannah, and her sisters, Cora and Marinda as well as Anne’s divorced sister, Gertrude Hannah Turner and her son, William Turner.  Both Charles Ross and William D. Hannah were traveling shoe salesmen.  By 1910, the Hannahs had moved to various places, but the Rosses remained in the same house.  However, in 1920, the Rosses had purchased a house on South Street.  
206 Gennessee Street

According to several realty sites, 206 Gennessee Street was built in 1900.  It is described as a multifamily or single family home with 6 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.  The house contains 3006 square feet and sits on a lot of .29 acres.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

#147--Abiathar Richards, Farming in Dedham, MA.

When I saw the theme for this week’s genealogy blog was farm, I thought “Oh no.”  I have written about a number of farms and farmers in my family:  George Newell, John Hannah, Sarah Hannah.  They were all farming in the mid 1800’s in the Midwest and the Agricultural Census gave me lots of information about them.  However, I also had farmers in my Richards line whose farms were in Dedham, Massachusetts from the mid 1600’s to the 1800’s.  So I decided that I would see what I could gather about one of them.

I looked though what I had and discovered that I had some interesting diary entries and newspaper clippings about my great great great grandfather, Abiathar Richards, Jr.  Abiathar was born in April 7, 1754 to Abiathar and Elizabeth (Richards) Richards.  He married Elizabeth Smith on April 12, 1782.  They had  eleven children.

According to various records, Abiathar Richards was a farmer. . Nathaniel Ames was a physician in Dedham and Ames’s diary contains several references related to farming and cattle. “ May, 14, 1814…Ab’r Richards to Calf to sell..(P 1017)”; “June 13, 1816 Ab Richards calf w 23lb” ; “November 22, 1816 Calf 7 w old Ab Richards good Veal 16 lb. hind qrs sold At 10 cents Lb (p. 1068).  Dr. Ames also indicates that he was paid by Abiathar in produce or livestock for treating various illnesses.

In the local Dedham newspapers I found several ads from Abiathar related to lost or found livestock. On November 4, 1797, Abiathar advertised that he had five stray cattle and that if the owner could identify them and pay Abiathar for taking care of them, he could have them back.  Somehow, Abiathar lost 23 sheep and a 3 year old mare colt who wandered off.

In 1824, Abiathar advertised to sell his farm.  From the ad, it appears that Abiathar primary focus was raising, selling and slaughtering cattle.  It is not clear what he raised in the orchard.

I have several questions for Abiathar.  Where was the farm?  How big was it?  Did you grown crops and if so, what:  Why did you decide to sell it?