Thursday, May 31, 2007

I found it!

I look at the marriage applications and returns at the Clearfield County Courthouse, Pennsylvania, on May 25, 2007. Marriage Records are archived back to 1885. In the 1990s, the records were indexed and put on computer. But, one must still go back to the original records to find the parents' names and who married the couple. Other information may include occupations and residences.

Today, I found several records such as (extracted):
Page 455; No. 6089:
Henry S. ZIMMERMAN, 34, coal miner, son of Soloman and Elizabeth, married on 1 Jan 1896, by E.A. Born, minister of the Gospel; to THERESA A. BERNDT, 20, daughter of William and Mary. Both bride and groom reside in Ramey.

And later the widowed Theresa, nee. Berndt, remarries:
Book 24; No. 18237:
Samuel Kuhn, 31, miner, of Ramey, PA, son of Daniel and Jennie; married in June 1912 by James W. Ruffner, Justice of the Peace, to THERESA ZIMMERMAN, 36, of Ramey, daughter of William and Mary. Death of Bride's former husband [Henry Zimmerman]: 28 Dec 1909.

Note: Theresa Berndt was the sister of Albert Berndt who married Maria Kramp, the older sister of my adopted grandfather, Robert "Pop" Kramp.
As I thumbed through the yellowed and tattered pages, I remarked to a fellow researcher in the room (the lady who took my picture) that these books would not last forever with this amount of wear and tear. Book spines are broken and some of the more greasy indexes have been laminated. She told me that nearby Blair County, PA, was indeed transferring original records to microfilm, and then, probably to compact disks. The county staff was in the process of throwing the old, original books into a dumpster, when an alert passerby, who just happened to belong to the Blair Co Historical Society, rescued the records and transferred them to the Society's archives in Hollidaysburg. Good Catch!

Reed Funeral Home; Mortuary Record for Eleanor Grove

Reed Funeral Home, Houtzdale, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, has been in operation for over a century. It has been in the Hayes-Reed family of morticians. Nell Sweeney was also an undertaker at the funeral home and his signature appears on some of my ancestor's death certificates. Most of the mortuary records of the funeral parlor have been copied and archived at Clearfield County Historical Society.

Following is the mortuary record for the late Eleanor Grove:

"Elearnor M. Grove, of Houtzdale; date of birth 1 Nov 1920; born in Houtzdale."

"Daughter of Robert and Ella (Wagner) Grove. Died in Clearfield [PA] on November 23, 2005, at the age of 85. Member and past president of the Ladies Auxillary of the american Legion in Houtadale, the Pilipsburg BPW and an active volunter at the Hollidaysburg Lutheran Home. She was a very active communtiy service volunteer."

"She was a retired elementary school teacher with the Philisburg- Osceola School [PA] District. She graduated from Woodard High School, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Penn State University."

"She was preceded in death by her parents and four brothers: Robert, Charles, Clifford R. and John "Jack" Grove. She is survived by her brother, Warren (Barney) Grove and his wife, Margaret, of Houtzdale, a sister-in-law, Anastasia Grove, wife of Clifford of Johnstown, and 3 nieces, Sara Grove of Chambersburg, Anastasia Watts of Kane and Mary Alicia Grove-Stover of Richmond, VA.."

"A Memorial service will be held at the Faith United Lutheran Church in Houtzdale on Saturday, Dec 3, 2005 at 11:00 AM. Rev. Brent Jenkins will officiate, assisted by Pastor Andrew Jerome and Monsignor Desmond McGee."

Resizing Experiment- image taken at 1280 x 960 pixels

Experiment: Which size digital image, in terms of pixels, should I upload to my blog? This image was sent as a picture message from my new LG enV cell phone which has a 2.0 MB camera. I can choose pixels sizes of 320 x 240, 640 x 480, 1280 x 960, or 1600 x 1200. I took the above landscape at 1280 x 960 pixels and sent it as a "picture message" to go(at) The POSTED image was re-sized by BloggerSpot to 328 x 248 pixels, 33.2 KB, so it could apparently fit into the column width of this blog. Right click on image and then click on "properties" to see this information. Now, if you left-click on the image here, it appears by itself in a new window. If the "expand" icon in lower right-hand corner of window is then clicked, the image re-sizes to 1024 x 768 pixels, 298.2 KB. All these images are in 4:3 aspect ratio. How do I know? Divide the second number by 3 and then mulitply the result by 4 and get the first number. See next entry below for continuation of experiment.

Incidentally, the picture here was taken along the C&O Canal towpath above Great Falls on the Potamac River.

Picture taken at 640 x 480 pixels

Cliffs, canal, and towpath along the C&O canal above Great Falls on the Potamac. Picture was taken at 640 x 480 pixel setting with my cell phone and sent as Picture Message to this blog. Right-click on image and then click "properties". Note that the image size is 328 x 248 pixels, 33 KB, as is all other images uploaded earlier to this blog. However, you can see larger sized image of this photo by left-clicking on image. The image properties then indicate an image of 640 x 480 pixels, 133.8 KB.

I also took the same landscape at camera settings of 1280 x 960 pixels (see above) and at 1600 x 1200 pixels. When I tried to send a picture message of the largest image, I received an error message, "Message size exceeds limit. Try another".


1. All uploaded jpeg images will display in the blog at 328 x 248 pixels, ~33 KB, regardless of the size when posted. However, if the uploaded image is larger, the full-sized image can be displayed by clicking on the picture in the blog. The maximum image size which can be DISPLAYED is 1024 x 768 pixels.

2. If the uploaded image is 320 x 240 pixels, ie. smaller than 328 x 248, there will be very minor pixelation (fuzziness) of image.

3. Better to upload 1280 x 960 pixel size of complex landscapes, but close-ups of persons can be sufficiently taken and uploaded at 640 x 480 pixels.

4. The 1600 x 1200 pixel image taken by my cell phone can not be sent via picture messaging.

5. It is not necessary to resize all my digital images before posting to this blog, since they will not show up as huge, overwhelming images, but instead, be displayed within the margins of the blog column, that is 328 x 248 pixels.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Charles J. Gailliot, 1919-1989, US Army Signal Corps, WWII, in South Pacific. My Mother's brother. In honor of Memorial Day 2007. Photo credit: Corrie Lee Barton, May, 2007.

Former Wagner Farm, West Moshannon, Clearfield Co, PA

This is the former farm house of my great grandmother, HENRIETTA HOHNKE, and her second husband, CHARLES MICHAEL WAGNER. Henrietta was widowed by her first husband in October, 1885, according to the marriage registration of Henrietta to her second husband. Marriage applications usually give the death date of a former spouse, though the name of the deceased spouse is not given. So, the name of Henrietta' first husband, who would be my great grandfather, is not documented, but family tradition suggests his name was KARL STREICH. His place of burial is also unknown.

In 1900, the U.S. census enumerated Charles and Henrietta, 3 children, 2 step children, and 2 grandchildren in the farm house. One of Charles' great grandchildren, Eleanore Grove, was the last resident on the farm. She died in Fall, 2005, and shortly afterwards, the old farmhouse was put on the market. I was so glad that I had an opportunity to visit Eleanor a few times in the last decade. She gave me stories of the family as well as old pictures- including several of my grandmother, Mrs. Emily Strike, nee. Russell, which I had never seen before. Thus, the farmhouse which has been in the family for at least 120 years, is now gone forever.

After Mrs. Grove died, the contents of the estate were auctioned. I was not aware of the auction since I live far away in NC. Indeed, Eleanor and her cousin, Alice Wagner, used to keep me abreast of the news and events in Houtzdale. Now my informants are gone; deceased.

When this picture of farm was taken, the property was under a sheriff's sale to pay off debts. Asking price for the house on one acre is about $60,000. I was told by a neighbor, Eleanor's brother, that some of the old clothes, such as military uniforms, and perhaps old pictures were destroyed.

A family story: My uncle Russell Stryke, born Strike, told me he stopped at the farm in 1929. Russell brought along his new wife, Ruth, and they were on their way to a honeymoon in Niagra Falls. Russell said his wife walked out on the front porch and became mesmerized by the baying of mules in the fields below the house. These mules were probably retired from their work of hauling coal cars along the mine headers underground. Ruth, a city girl from Alexandria, VA, had never seen, nor heard, mules before in her life.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

St. Johns German Lutheran

From a plaque at the site of the former church in Houtzdale, Woodward Township, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania: "St. Johns Lutheran Church: Site of First Church in Houtzdale. Built in 1872 and in continuous use until 1997, a span of 125 years. Built and used by a Union Congregation, then by the Methodist Episcopals. It was sold in 1881 to the German Reformed Society and chartered as St. John's German Evangelical Lutheran Church."

My German ancestors, after immigrating to Castle Garden, New York, migrated to and settled in Clearfield County, PA, in 1881. They consisted of the Streich, Hohnke, Kramp, Wagner, Tuschling, Sheskie, Srock (Shrock, Schrock) families to name a few. Most came from the eastern provinces of Prussia: Hinterpommern (Pomerania), West Prussia, and Posen. They were occupied as coal miners (Kohlengraber) and farmers. The parish Kirchenbuch (church records) has been microfilmed by the LDS and is a valuable resource for our family history.

All that remaines of the former church however is this plaque which sits in front of a gazebo and garden.

Family Reseach on the Road

Warren "Barney" Grove, s/o Robert Grove and Ella, born Wagner, and Bob at W. Moshannon, Clearfield Co, PA. Warren's grandmother was Bertha Wagner, daughter of Charles Michael Wagner, who the second husband of my great grandmother, Henreitta, nee. Hohnke. Reportedly, Robert Grove and Ella Wagner offerred to foster my father after the untimely death of my father's mother in the 1918 world-wide, infuenza epidemic. The Grove family had just lost a newborn son. However, my father's aunt, Mrs. Martha (Streich) Kramp, who was the brother of Otto Strike, refused to give up her nephew- she eventually adopted him. Otto had five other children to raise. In those days, I guess children, as in my father's tragic situation, were often fostered by other members of the family.

I imported the following image here so I could copy/paste the image to my Profile. It has nothing to do with this day's blog

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Vendor Hall at National Genealogical Convention, Richmond, VA, May 2007

On Sat., 19 May 2007, I browsed the vendor hall at the National Genealogical Society's Convention being held in Richmond, VA. Pictured here is Mr. Wolf of Wolfshead Books. He led a workshop on how to date postcards and how postcards can be used to illustrate family history. He also had boxes of postcads for sale. Fortunately, the cards were arranged by state. I bought three cards which I will eventually use to help illustrate my family history. I will scan them into my scrapbook.

On my Father's genealogical web site, I used vintage postcards to show the former TB sanitarium at Cresson, PA. To see it, click here and scroll to bottom of page under "Landmarks". My grandfather, Otto Strike (Streich), was the ice machine operator at the institution until his death in 1946. In the 1950s the sanitarium was converted to a state prison. No photos are allowed of buildings inside the security fences as I discovered on a trip there a few years ago. So, the vintage postcards are the only views I have of my grandfather's former place of employment.

Friday, May 18, 2007

This msg sent as test of my new LG en/V cell phone.

Added after Post: I sent the image above from my new cell phone which I bought last Tuesday, the day after my old cell phone was stolen from my bicycle. So, this is really neat to be able to post a text or picture message to my blog while I am on the road or whenever I have my cell phone with me but not my laptop. I can be on a mountain top (if I could hike it) or waiting for a doctor's appointment- to fix my knee so I can hike the mountain.

All I have to do is send a phone message to "go(at)"

The picture of me was taken by the sales person at our local Verizon store. Someday I will find a way to transfer a copy to my profile. Also, I have subscribed to Verizon's Mobile Web 2 which allows me to access my email at Yahoo and at a few other email clients to which I do not have accounts, such as MSN or AOL. I hope I can initiate a "mobile" Gmail account, but it looks too complicated right now. Yahoo works for the momment.

I start out on a trip to MD and PA tomorrow from my home in Monroe, NC. It is my second trip there this month. I plan to stop in Richmond, VA, on the way and attend the Family History and Genealogy Fair which is part of the National Genealogical Conference being held this month.

Email ya from Richmond and beyond.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Writing it all down

I didn't become seriously interested in my family's roots until I was about 50 years old. I took a writing course at Radford University in Summer, 1990. Our instructor, a Native American Cherokee named MaryLou, advised up to write about our own experiences. "Write about where you are and where you came from", she said. So, in the Spring of 1992, I took off from my job (more later) and traveled to Cambria and Clearfield Counties in Pennsylvania. Some of my elderly aunts were still living and I asked them a lot of questions about where they came from. Unfortunately, one of my aunts who I was closest to had died the previous year. During the summer, I visited my mother and daughter in the Washington, DC, area. I took the subway downtown and spent several days at the National Archives. I was emotionally moved when I first saw the hand-written enumeration of my great grandmother and her son (my grandfather) in early census reports. Eventually, I saw the passenger manifest of the S.S. Werra which arrived at Castle Gardens, on the shores of NY Harbor, in 1884, carrying the mother and her six children of my ancestral Kramp family.

At the end of that year, I wrote a family history and sketchy genealogy and bound it into a book which I named "Die Kohlengraber". The words mean coal miner in German, for indeed, most of my ancestors were coal miners. The German occupational moniker was recorded in the marriage entry of my grandparents in the parish records of a German Lutheran Church in Houtzdale, PA. I sent about 25 copies of the book to my cousins at Xmas time in 1992.

However, I was bitten by the genealogy bug, and my research and writing didn't stop with the self-publication of the Kohlengraber. The Internet was becoming available to the general public. American Online had 15 million members in the mid-1990s. I posted my genealogy on my own web site courtesy of

I bought a computer genealogy program called Ancestral Quest. Once the vital statistics for my ancestors, including the all important biographical notes, were entered to the computer program, a click of the mouse created a book of our Family's genealogy.

Now, once every few years, I choose each of my end-of-the-line ancestors and create Descendant Charts- called Modified Register Reports by the National Genealogical Society. Thus, for example, I have Reports on the Descendants of Frederick Hohnke, Johann Kramp, and Thomas Russell, as seen in the attached photo.

Though I mailed about 25 copies of my first genealogical book almost 15 years ago, I doubt if too many recipients sat down or even sit down today and actually read the book. I do, of course. And I am very pleased- and that's good enough.

But just in case my own descendants- my two daughters and five grand children- ever want to know where they came from, I hope they will find one of my books or two or three. Incidentally, I keep the most recent printouts in antique wooden book boxes, one box for my father's branch and one for my mother's branch.

First Entry, 16 May 2007

I just bought a new super dooper cell phone yesterday. My old phone was stolen two days ago from the handle bar bag on my bicycle. I chained the front wheel of the bike to its frame so nobody could ride off with it- though one could throw the whole bike in the back of a pickup or car trunk. I was gone only 10 minutes into a Food Lion Grocery store, but it was apparently long enough for someone to lift my phone. I rode quickly back to the house; called Verizon Wireless and waded through the frustratingly long menu to finally get to a real person. She disengaged my phone number from the stolen phone. The phone will soon lose its charge and become a useless piece of metal to the slime ball who took it. I was still upset that my address book and my picture was still with the phone. The phone was 4 years old and I was about to get a new phone anyway.

I used my two year customer credit to purchase an LG/enV for a discounted price of only $50. For another $5 per month I subscribed to Mobile Web 2, which allows me to send and receive email from my Yahoo! account. The phone has a 2 megapixel camera.

My interests and obsessions are photography, genealogy, writing, and travel. Actually, I have found that genealogy itself encompasses all of these interests. So, this blog will be about my travels on the road to find long lost cousins; to discover and write down our family history; and to illustrate my travels with photographs. I hope my new phone will enable me to upload pictures and stories from the road to this blog.