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?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

#204 Rich Man

There are many ways to be rich.  My emigrant ancestor, Edward Richards (1610-1684) was a rich man.  When you are dealing with people in the 17th century, it is hard to determine exactly how rich any one was.  One way to determine that is to look at what they owned, particularly land.

Edward Richards lived in Dedham, Massachusetts.  He arrived there about 1632 and was granted a house lot and another lot because there was a defect in his house lot.  A little later he was able to buy an additional lot from Robert Feak.  Edward joined the church and signed the Dedham Covenant.

The town of Dedham was granted a good deal of land, some of which they held and other of which they distributed to its residents.  They had an interesting system.  The amount of land a person received was based on the amount of land the person already held and the number of people in the family.  So if you had a lot of land and a large family you got more land than people who owned less land and a smaller family.

Edward received land on 14 separate occasions.  In 1642 he was given 4 acres for improvement and two years later received 5 acres.  Typically, he was granted more land than the vast majority of individuals.  In 1657-8 when a cedar swamp was divided, Edward received the second larges grant, only the  Reverend Allin received more.  Another way to determine his wealth is to look at the taxes he paid.  Generally, he was in the top three or four men in terms of the the amount he was assessed.

Within the land granted to Dedham was a large tract of land which previous had been granted to a Mr. Cook of Dublin, Ireland for a large farm and manor house.  After Mr. Cook died, his attorney was given permission to sell the lands to Eliazer Lusher and Anthony Fisher of Dedham.  Some time later, Edward Richards was able to buy Mr. Cook’s farm and built “Broad Oaks,” which remained in the Richards family until 1838.

So I think, in terms of land Edward Richards was a rich man.  If I could talk to him, I would like to know what he did with all that land.  How much was farmed? How much was meadow? How many buildings was on that land?

Monday, October 28, 2019

#203--Trick or Treat

Every year I go to Halloween Nights at the Greenfield  Village.  It is a treat to be there and enjoy all the scenes and displays.  Some are tricks, but others are treats.  Volunteers carve 1000 pumpkins and they are placed along the sidewalks and visitors follow the path.with the pumpkins lighting the way.

First we have a some coffins.

 and a graveyard to put them in.

Now for the witches.

 Witch Hazel will rent you a broom.

 Or a spell

Here are some spooky night creatures
Scary Scarecrow


Very Scary

Thomas Edison got a costume

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

#202--Driving the REO

I found this picture among my mother’s things.  What a wonderful scene of a family going for a Sunday afternoon ride.  I could identify my grandfather, Walter Eitelbach,  driving, my grandmother, Regina, in the back seat and my mother, Marie,  peaking out the side.  I do not know who the other couple is, but I think they may be one of my grandfather's brothers and his wife.  

I was curious about the car.  There was no identifying information on it, except for the license plate with a date of 1914. I am fortunate to volunteer at Greenfield Village and we have an old car festival.  So I took my picture to the section where the 1910 to 1920 cars were displayed and asked if anyone could identify the car.  Several

gentlemen were very interested and had a pretty intense discussion about what it was and why.  The consensus was that the car was a REO. 

I had no idea what a REO was but with a little research, this is what I learned.  In 1904 Ransom Olds started the REO MotorCompany,  which by 1907 was one of the top four car companies in the United States. The company manufactured cars in Flint, Michigan until 1936 when the depression affect the company so much that it ceased to operate. 

I would love to talk to my grandfather about the
car.  Why he  purchased it?  What it was like to drive?  Where they went?

Sunday, October 20, 2019

#201 Adventurer--Lord Admiral Cochrane

Lord Cochrane

My distant cousin, Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (14 December 1775 – 31 October 1860), was an officer of the Royal Navy.  By all accounts he was adventurous and very successful.  So successful in fact that during the Napoleonic Wars that Napoleon called him Le Loup des Mers ('The Sea Wolf').

The Speedy and El Gamo
Lord Cochrane joined the British Navy at the age of 17.  He served under his uncle, Admiral Alexander Cochrane.  He was given command of his own ship, the Speedy.  Always smart, when a Spanish war ship tried to capture him, he flew the Danish flag, and turned back a boarding group by stating that the ship had many cases of the plague on board.  In addition, when followed by an enemy frigate, that night he put a barrel in the water with a candle on it.  The enemy followed the barrel and Cochrane and his ship escaped.  Lord Cochrane was well know for his capture of the Spanish frigate El Gamo in 1801. El Gamo was a large ship with 32 guns and a crew of 319.  In contrast the Speedy had 14 guns and 54 seamen.  Flying an American flag, Cochrane brought the Speedy so near to El Gamo that her guns could not fire.  While the Spanish tried to board the Speedy, Cochrane turned away and fired his guns at the Speedy.  Later Cochrane boarded and captured El Gamo even though he was outnumbered 5 to 1.

Cochrane did well with the Speedy.  He captured, burned or pushed ashore 53 ships before Admiral Charles-Alexandre Linois captured him.

Lord Cochrane served as a model for several books.  C.S. Forester used him as a model for Horatio Hornblower .  He also served as the model for Jack Aubrey in thenovels by Patrick O'Brian. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

#200--Context Matters.

When I started to do genealogy, I was very content to build my family tree--to put all those ancestors with their vital records into it.  Pretty soon though, I became much more interested in who they were and what they did. 

While the vital records are interesting, they really do not paint a picture of who these people were or what their daily life was like.  I have found several sources that have been helpful in that regard. 

One is newspapers.  Chronicling American from the Library of Congress has newspapers from cities all over the United States.  I was delighted to discover that The Butler Missouri Newspaper, The Butler Weekly Times and the Bates County Record were on line.  While you can browse a particular issue, you can also do a name search for all the issues.  Since Butler is a small town, there is a lot of information about its residents and their activities.  When I searched John W. Hannah and the Palace Hotel which he built, I got over 100 hits.  One of my favorites is the description of John and Jennie (Willey) Anniversary Party. 

Fulton Postcards has newspapers from all over New York State.  Since I have many family members who lived in that state, for me it is a great site.  Using it I was able to find an ad for the Hannah-Ross Shoe company in Auburn, New York, a company that I did not know my grandfather was involved in.  I have also been able to read about my grandmother and grandfather’s wedding, various parties, funerals, etc. 

Another source for finding out what life was life for my ancestors is books covering the towns or counties where they lived.  I have used those books from a variety of places.  Most useful have been the town records of Dedham, Massachusetts.  The records go back to the early 1600.  In those records I found that Edward Richards who settled in Dedham in about 1632 was given more land because there was a defect in his
current property.  However, I have also used the History of Edgar County, Illinois and the History of Brown County Ohio.  Both of these books are available on Google Books. 

I have also used books that focus on life at a particular time in our history, e.g., Frontier Living by Edwin Tunis for my Hannahs and Mears who lived in Brown County, Ohio and Edgar County, Illinois in the 1800’s. Since my ancestors moved from place to place Walking with Your  Ancestors by Melinda Kashuba was particularly useful.    While these books do not specifically deal with my ancestors, they do describe what their lives might have been like. 

When I was a little girl, I loved to hear stories from my mother and grandparents about what their lives were like when they were my age.  So I really would like to talk to my relatives and have them described what their lives were like. 

Monday, October 7, 2019

#199 Harvest time with Sarah Ann Hannah

The theme for this week is harvest.  I have many relatives who were farmers; the vast majority of them were men; however, a several were women.  Previously, I blogged about Jane Mears Calvin, my 3 great aunt who also ran a farm.  So my blog this week focuses on Sarah Ann Hannah Mitchell , who ran the family farm after her husband, Joseph, died. Sarah is my great great aunt. 

Sarah Ann Hannah was born on February 17, 1823, in Brown or Clermont County, Ohio,.  Her parents were John M. and Charity (Mears) Hannah. She married Joseph Mitchell and they had five children together. Joseph died in 1857.  Many years later she  married Samuel McCampbell on October 24, 1892,. She died on February 24, 1906, at the age of 83.

The Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales indicate that Joseph Mitchell did not buy any land of the from the federal government.  However, he did buy land from some of his relatives, e.g. John M. Hannah, John Wesley Hannah, etc.  The land was mostly in Ross Township in Edgar County and where he and his family lived and farmed. 

The 1860 Agricultural Census Schedule lists Sarah Mitchell as the owner of a farm.  The farm consisted of 80 improved acres and 32 unimproved with a value of $2000.  $100 was the value of the machinery and farm implements. Sarah had 5 horses, 3 milch cows, 1 other cattle, 20 sheep and 12 swine.  The livestock was valued at $570.  The farm produced 1500 bushels of Indian corn and 86 pounds of wool. The farm produced 100 pounds of butter.  The animals that were slaughtered during the year were worth $30. When I looked at the other farms which were listed, Jane’s farm was pretty typical, not the largest, not the smallest, just kind of in the middle. 

I would love to talk to Sarah  and find out how she ran the farm.  Did her children do most of the work?  Did she hire people to help her? How did she learn to manage the farm?  Did she make changes to the farm as time when on?  Her sister-in-law Sarah Ann Hannah Mitchell also ran the family farm after her husband died in 1857 (See blog on the right side of this page).  I am wondering since Jane had been running her farm for some time, she provided any advice to Sarah.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

#198--Touring Auburn, New York

My great aunt, Anne Hannah, married Charles Ross and moved from Butler, Missouri to Auburn, New York.  When her father, John Wesley Hannah (1839-1899) died, her brother William and her four sisters, also moved to Auburn.  William married Gertrude Cochrane, who came to Auburn to visit her cousin, Lucy Pingree.   My father and his sister were both born in Auburn.  They lived at 187 Genessee Street with William sister, Anne Hannah and her husband, Charles Ross.

Auburn is in upstate New York, in the Finger Lake Region, more specifically on north end of Owasco Lake.  I have never been to Auburn, but it occurred to me that I could use Google Earth, 
Goggle Maps, and Google Images to learn about Auburn and see what it looked like. 

I started by going to Google Maps.  I put Auburn, New York in the search box and when the map came up, I started at Genesee Street and South Street, and drove down South Street.  I was impressed that South street was a mix of older buildings and new ones.

                                                                              Right out of town was the Auburn
Auburn Correctional System
Correctional System, a very large prison, which was established in 1816. The Hannahs lived on South Street, at 136, very near the prison.  The fact that it was near the prison and prisoners did escape made my grandmother very nervous as her husband often traveled so they moved to back to Genesee Street.

I tried to find a picture of that house, but as luck would have it, the house was behind one very big tree, but I did find a postcard of the street in the
early 1900’s.  As I continued down Genessee Street, I came upon The Cayuga Museum of History and Art and Case Research Lab Historic Site.

Head Stone of Anne Hannah Ross

Close by I found Fort Hills Cemetery, where my Aunt Anne Hannah and her husband Charles Ross are buried.  I took a quick look at Find a Grave and was able to locate her headstones.

Harriet Tubman House
When I got to the corner of Genesee and South Street, I turned onto South.  A little way down I drove by Harriet Tubman’s House, the former
slave turned underground railroad conductor.

As I drove on , I found the home of William Seward, a  New York State Senator, Governor of New York, a U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State for President Lincoln.
Seward Home


 I also saw The Cayuga Museum of History and Art and Case Research Lab Historic Site and the Schweinfurth Art Center.
St. Peter's Episcopal Church 

In downtown Auburn, I saw St. Peter's Episcopal Church, where I think my father may have been baptized.

I also saw the Old Post Office and Courthouse.

I was curious to see what was outside of Auburn so I took South Street out into the country.  Not surprisingly, it is very rural with plenty of farm land and vineyards.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


This week’s theme is cousins.  While doing genealogy, I have met several new cousins.    I am going to blog about the two I have worked with the most.  I met Anna when we were both working on our Hannah lines.  One of the first things we did was figure out how we were related.  As it turned out, we were both descended from John Wesley Hannah and his wife, Jennie Sophia Willey.  He was my great grandfather, and Anna’s great great grandfather.  But there was more.  Her  grandfather’s family was in the military and was often stationed overseas.  When that happened, her grandfather stayed with my father’s family. 

The real fun began when Anna and I started to post Hannah family pictures and we tried to figure out who the people were.  Some we knew right off the bat--others were a puzzle--Like the picture to the left.  We know that the man is John Wesley Hannah , we think the woman in the back on the right is his daughter, Marinda--the other two are a mystery, perhaps friends of Marinda.  We sent pictures  back and forth, comparing the faces with those we knew were correct or until we decided we just did not know.  Eventually Anna and I met when I went to Washington D. C. on a New England Historic and Genealogy Tour.

Harry and Perry Willey
Then along came Pam.  Pam is a granddaughter of Jennie Willey and was able to fill in a great deal of information about that branch of our tree.  Jennie had  8 brothers and sisters.  The one that was most confusing was James Willey, whose name was once in a while written as James "Sig Montanio "Willey.  Then one day, Anna was looking at a census of the Willeys and founds a Sig Montanio.  The age, birth location etc. all matched James Willey.  So the three of us started in to figure out this little puzzle.   We were able to figure out the genealogy and why the name change.  It turned out that James joined a circus as an acrobat, wire walker and later running a traveling circus.  We found pictures of his two sons, who worked as clowns and acrobats, information about the circuses he ran and numerous newspaper  articles about the performances.

I love to work with others on a family line and am happy to share what I know.   I know only certain information and often they know different information.