June 29, 2011

Mystery Photo - Help Needed!


One of my Ballenger relatives showed me this photo, which she inherited. It's a mystery to both of us. Has anyone seen a photo done in this style before? To me, it looks as though the background has been colored in. Can you guess at the approximate date by the clothing or hairstyles of the three young men?  The photo is framed and there is nothing written on the back. I would really appreciate any and all help in trying to figure out when it might have been taken!

June 27, 2011

Ohio Historical Society set to expand hours


Here’s some good news on the genealogy front: the Ohio Historical Society Library/Archives is about to increase its hours of operation.
While researching there Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised to see a small sign greeting visitors. The sign noted that beginning July 6, the Archives/Library will be open on Wednesdays. The new hours will be Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

This is welcome news, considering that at one point not long ago the facility was open only two days a week. The research room has also been redesigned, with the staff desk right in the middle of the room. The new design allows the Library to function with fewer staff members at one time, making the expanded hours possible. I didn’t find a notice about the change in hours on the OHS website yet.

Since it’s always a good idea to find out what resources are available before visiting a repository, you can access the OHS Archives/Library catalog here. Parking at OHS is now free, so your only expense is the cost of making copies (25 cents per page). You do need to check in at the main entrance upon arrival, and first-time visitors to the Archives will be asked to register for a researcher’s card.

The Ohio Historical Society is located at 1892 Velma Ave. in Columbus, just off Interstate 71 at the 17th Avenue exit. (Be aware that during the Ohio State Fair, which runs from July 27-August 7 this year, traffic at this exit increases greatly.) And if you or other family members would like to visit the newly revamped and renamed Ohio History Center Museum in the same building, check out this article in The Columbus Dispatch about some interesting new exhibits on Ohio soldiers, battle flags, and family history. I hope to see these exhibits myself within the next few weeks!

June 22, 2011

Mabel Herrel's Birthday


I’ve always loved this picture. It’s fun seeing the shared joy of blowing out birthday candles and the anticipation of that wonderful homemade cake on everyone’s faces. But most of all I like the juxtaposition of old and young. The photo, like the celebration itself, bridges generations.

The picture was taken in 1971, on the occasion of my great-grandmother’s 80th birthday. Mabel Seely was born June 22, 1891 to parents Samuel Seely and Matilda Adeline Wright in Columbus, Ohio. She married Harry Herrel, and one of their sons, Fred, eventually became my grandfather. I knew her only as Great-Grandma Herrel, a sweet yet seemingly ancient lady with a house full of little knick-knacks. She’s smiling in every picture I have of her. She died in 1975 at the age of 84.

Sharing the “blowing out” honors with her are my brothers and two of my cousins. My other cousins and myself, my parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents were at the celebration too, gathered at my grandparents’ house at Buckeye Lake. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to slip back in time and right into an old photo like this? If only.

Here’s to Mabel Seely Herrel, born 120 years ago this day. Happy Birthday, Great-Grandma!

June 14, 2011

Walter F. Bishop, Aged 20 yrs. - Tombstone Tuesday


Walter’s is the last entry among my series of posts on the Bishops buried in Freedom West Cemetery in the small town of Freedom, Portage County, Ohio. His tombstone reads:

                                         WALTER F.
                                            Son of
                                     F. & S. A. BISHOP
                                             DIED
                                      Sept. 2, 1871
                                       Aged 20 yrs.

There is a verse at the bottom, but the ravages of time have made it illegible. I haven’t found an obituary for Walter yet, and it seems his death wasn’t recorded with the county, so I’m not sure what caused his death at the cusp of young adulthood. Was it a sudden accident or a prolonged illness? I do know Walter F. Bishop was born on August 17, 1851 in Freedom. He likely was named after his older brother, Walter H., who died as a toddler in 1845.

The other thing I know for certain is that his mother, Sarah Ann Bishop, took his death hard. I’m fortunate that her diary from 1873 has survived, and that my father-in-law has entrusted it to me. Week after week, she lamented the loss of Walter. Sarah had already lost her husband, Fitch, in 1868, and her 26-year-old son Albert. On August 17th, she wrote, “This is the birthday of my husband and Walter too, one would have been 62 and the other 22, but their race is run, how soon may mine be…” On September 2, 1873, she wrote, “…this is a solemn day, 2 years since poor precious Walter died.” Her grief is evident throughout the diary. 

Sarah's diary offers a priceless glimpse into her day-to-day life. Oddly enough, there is no tombstone for her at Freedom Cemetery--or anywhere else, as far as I know. But that is a story for another day.

Related posts:

June 7, 2011

Free Cemetery Databases: Tech Tuesday

Following the example set by Geneabloggers host Thomas MacEntee, I’m in the process of building a research toolbox on this blog. I started out with My Favorite Genealogy Calculators. Today I’m adding some of the online resources I use for cemetery and gravestone research. The following list concentrates on national databases, along with a few that are specific to Ohio:

Access Genealogy Cemetery Records (select state & county):

Cemetery Junction (directory of cemeteries by state):

Find A Grave (worldwide collection of “memorials”—which may include cemetery & tombstone images, transcriptions, obituaries, and/or family information and links—created by volunteer members):

Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal (how-to's, finding aids, & links):

Interment.net (worldwide database of transcriptions):

Names in Stone (database of plots with maps; strongest for Utah):

U.S. GenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project (national database of cemetery transcriptions organized by state projects, some images):

USGS Geographic Names Information System (aid to locating and mapping cemeteries; select “Cemetery” from the Feature Class):

                           Resources Specific to Ohio
Cleveland Cemetery Index (index of 10 city cemeteries with maps):

Delaware County Burials (index to 60,000 burials):

Franklin County, Ohio Gravestone Photos (partial indexes of numerous cemeteries, with transcriptions and photos):

Ohio Gravestones.org (statewide collection of tombstone images with transcriptions):

Robert’s Cemetery Site (transcriptions & photos):

The Fleshman Files (indexes, including Greenlawn in Columbus):

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it gives your cemetery and tombstone research a boost! What's your favorite online cemetery resource?

June 5, 2011

This is the Face of Genealogy


Two of the priceless faces of genealogy: my great-grandparents, Charles Cleveland Ballenger (1882-1953) and Irene Pearl Clark Ballenger (1887-1965).

Note: Many geneabloggers are posting photos of their ancestors in response to an offensive image published by the LA Weekly. You can read Thomas MacEntee's post about the image and see bloggers' responses here.

Related Posts:

June 4, 2011

Surname Saturday: Ballenger family

My g-g-g-grandfather, Charles BALLENGER, came to Athens County, Ohio sometime between 1833 and 1840. As yet, I don’t know who his parents were or where he came from. Charles is almost certainly related (brothers? cousins?) to James BALLENGER (died 1855) and William BALLENGER, who came to Athens Co. about the same time and lived next door to him. The surname is sometimes spelled Ballinger.

                           Great-Great-Great Grandparents
Charles BALLENGER, born 29 June 1815 (prob. in Maryland or Virginia), died 19 October 1891 in Delaware County, Ohio. He married:
Elizabeth J. “Jane” ADAMS, born 13 August 1815 in Virginia, died 13 September 1891 in Delaware County, Ohio. They had 8 children:
1.    Margaret Ann BALLENGER, b. ca 1838, Ohio
2.    Martha BALLENGER, b. ca 1841 Athens Co., Ohio
3.    Rebecca BALLENGER, b. ca 1843 Athens Co., Ohio
4.    Priscilla BALLENGER, b. ca 1845 Athens Co., Ohio
5.    Ann Maria BALLENGER, b. ca 1847 Athens Co., Ohio
6.    Charles BALLENGER Jr., b. 8 November 1849 Athens Co., d.19 June 1935 Delaware Co., Ohio
7.    Caroline BALLENGER, b. 10 Aug 1852 Athens Co., married Edward Williams, d.17 April 1926 Delaware Co., Ohio
8.    James M. BALLENGER, b. 19 January 1855 Athens Co., d. 8 March 1913 Delaware Co., Ohio

       Great-Great-Grandparents
James Madison BALLENGER, born 19 January 1855 in Athens Co., Ohio, moved to Delaware Co. by 1880, where he died 8 March 1913. On 19 January 1881 in Delaware Co., Ohio, he married:
Anna M. PAYNE, born 3 May 1864 in Ohio, died 20 November 1924 in Columbus, Franklin Co., Ohio. They had 4 children:
1.    Charles C. BALLENGER, b. 15 July 1882 Delaware Co., d. 7 January 1953 in Columbus, Franklin Co., Ohio
2.    Clarence BALLENGER, b. August 1888 Delaware Co., d. 18 April 1954 in Columbus, Franklin Co., Ohio
3.    Cyril BALLENGER, b. 6 July 1896 (twin) Delaware Co., d. 26 August 1944 Bexley, Franklin Co., Ohio
4.    Cecil BALLENGER, b. 6 July 1896 (twin), married Charles Parker, d. 22 May 1993 Westerville, Franklin Co., Ohio

           Great-Grandparents
Charles Cleveland BALLENGER, born 15 July 1882 Delaware Co., died 7 January 1953 in Columbus, Franklin Co., Ohio. On 12 December 1906 in Delaware Co., Ohio, he married:
Irene Pearl CLARK, born 28 November 1887 in Delaware Co., died 21October 1965 in Columbus, Franklin Co., Ohio. They had 4 children:
1.    Florence N. BALLENGER, b. 3 December 1907 Delaware Co., married Gordon Meeks, d. 14 April 2000 Franklin Co., Ohio
2.    Unnamed female infant, b. and d. 27 December 1908 in Franklin Co., Ohio
3.    Lloyd Russell BALLENGER, b. 3 May 1911 in Westerville, Franklin Co., married Nora EBERHARD on 30 March 1935 in Kentucky, d. 4 June 2002 in Columbus, Franklin Co., Ohio
4.    Dwight “Smokey” BALLENGER, b. 27 April 1916 in Westerville, Franklin Co., d. 20 January 1990 in Westerville, Franklin Co., Ohio

I would love to connect with others researching the Ballenger family, particularly anyone who knows or suspects who the parents of Charles, James, and/or William Ballenger (all born between 1815-1820) might be. You can leave a comment below or email me directly at sbishop@asenseoffamily(dot)com. I’d be happy to share the information I’ve collected!


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