April 29, 2012

The Tragic Fate of Marshal Clark

It seems to me that people who research their family history share an important trait: empathy. Empathy for people long dead, whose lives played out before we were even dreamt of. Nowhere is this more keenly felt than in the loss of a life cut suddenly and tragically short. I feel for you, my soul whispers to theirs, across time and space. I’m sorry.

Consider the fate of Marshal Clark, my great-great-grandfather. His family could never have imagined that a routine trip from their farm in Delaware County, Ohio, into town would result in this front-page story in the Westerville Public Opinion:

Results Fatally for Marshal Clark at Sunbury Thursday

      Marshal Clark, aged 60, a farmer residing near Sunbury, was fatally injured when his team ran away in Sunbury at 8:30 Thursday morning. The team became frightened at a passing train and bolted, dragging Mr. Clark a distance of 100 yards. After examination by Sunbury physicians he was taken to Mt. Carmel hospital, Columbus, where he died at noon.
      Mr. Clark had driven his team and wagon into town during the morning and while the wagon was standing near a railroad track a train went by, frightening the team of young horses. The wagon was overturned and Mr. Clark was caught in the harness and dragged. His skull was fractured and he sustained numerous other broken bones and probably internal injuries.
      Mr. Clark is survived by his wife, one son, one daughter, Mrs. Charles Ballenger, of Westerville, two grandchildren, aged parents, one brother and a sister.

I can imagine his wife, Rose, doing the wash or other routine chores that day. Perhaps she was already cooking the noon meal so it would be ready for Marshal’s return. She had probably asked him to pick up a few things for her while he was in town. Suddenly a horse comes galloping up to the farmhouse, its breathless rider dismounting. His news will break the sweet mundane tranquility of her day, of her life.

Marshal’s obituary ran in a similar front page story in the Sunbury News:

Marshal Clark Dies Of Injuries When
Team of Horses Throws Wagon On Him

      Marshal Clark one of our highly respected farmer citizens received injuries last Thursday which resulted in his death Thursday noon.
      He had brought milk to the skimming station at Condit and while his team was standing near the creamery a train came along and frightened the animals, which turned the wagon short, breaking the coupling pole and pinning Mr. Clark under the wagon. He was hurriedly brought to Sunbury for medical attention and he was then taken on the 9:45 train to Columbus. He died about noon from his injuries. The following is his obituary:
      Marshal Clark, son of James and Martha Clark, was born January 25, 1857 and died October 22, 1914 at the age of 57 years, 8 months and 25 days.
      He was married to Rose E. Edwards January 17, 1886. Their union was blest with two children, one daughter Mrs. Chas Ballenger of Westerville and one son, Mr. Wm. Clark still living on the old homestead in Trenton Tp. Delaware County.
      Mr. Clark united with the M E Church at Wesley Chapel some twenty years ago, was baptized and was a firm believer in the power of the blessed Redeemer. He was a quiet inoffensive man ever ready to deny himself that he might lend a helping hand to others, as a husband he was without fault, as a father he was devoted to his children, as a neighbor to the full extent of the word, neighbor; as a friend kind and true.
      He leaves to remember him a devoted wife, one daughter, a son, a daughter-in-law, Mrs. Wm. Clark, a son-in-law, Mr. Charles Ballenger, two grand children, an aged father and mother, one brother, and one sister, Mrs. Thurston of Centerburg.
      His life gathered to him many friends and with them and the near relatives we will remember Marshal as a good man. Our loved ones go out from us but their lives and happy bygone days live with us and we exclaim with the poet:

Oh joys that are gone will yon return
To gladden our hearts as of yore;
Will we find you waiting us some happy morn,
When we drift to eternity’s shore.

Will dear eyes meet our own as in days that are past;
Will we thrill at the touch of a hand
Oh joys that are gone will we find you at last,
On the shores of a beautiful land.

I’m sorry.

Sunbury Memorial Park, Sunbury, Ohio
Does it seem to you that family historians have an extra dose of empathy?

“Runaway Accident,” Public Opinion (Westerville, Ohio), 29 October 1914, p. 1, col. 1.
“Marshal Clark Dies,” Sunbury News (Sunbury, Ohio), 29 October 1914, p. 1., col. 1.

April 23, 2012

Last Call to Pre-Register for the 2012 NGS Conference

For anyone who’s still on the fence about attending the NGS Conference in Cincinnati, which is coming up in two short weeks, here’s a quick reminder: pre-registration for the conference ends tomorrow, Tuesday, April 24th. There are so many great speakers, session topics, and events scheduled that you won’t want to miss it. With a theme of "The Ohio River: Gateway to the Western Frontier," it starts May 9 and runs through May 12 in downtown Cincinnati.  I’ll be there, and so will over 40 other bloggers, according to the last count on Geneabloggers.

While walk-in registration will still be available at the door, pre-registration gives you access to the conference syllabus online prior to the conference. That way you can read about the sessions in much greater detail and choose the ones you want to attend ahead of time—a big plus, considering there are 10 choices available for each time slot! You can even print out syllabi for the classes that interest you. Registering online also gives you a chance to sign up for luncheons and events you might want to take part in.

April 24th is also the deadline to sign up for individual Ask An Expert consultations. These free, 20-minute consultations are available for you to submit one of your own family history research questions to get professional feedback and guidance. Ask An Expert is being coordinated by the Great Lakes Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, of which I am a member.

For more information, see the conference brochure or the official NGS Conference Blog. I also wrote a post on the 2012 NGS Family History Conference for the digi-newsletter News from the Field. (note: News from the Field is in the process of moving to a new site, The In-Depth Genealogist).

So don’t wait any longer to head over to the NGS 2012 Family History Conference registration page. If you’re a member of NGS, be sure to log in before registering to get the member discount. Will I be seeing you in Cincinnati?

April 19, 2012

Finding Reeb's Restaurant in the 1940 Census

Lately I’ve been busy indexing batches of the 1940 U.S. census from Franklin County, Ohio. It’s been fun to recognize some of the streets, as well as some of the surnames, from my hometown. I hadn’t actually tried to find any members of my family, though, until late the other night, when I decided to look for my paternal grandparents.

Edward Reeb
But before I found them, I found someone else first. And that person, Ed Reeb, is a man who profoundly affected my family’s life.

Edward F. Reeb was born in Columbus in 1880, the son of Alsace-Lorraine immigrant Henry Reeb and his wife, Pauline Lockenbach.(1) In 1911, he opened Reeb’s Restaurant at the corner of Champion and Livingston Avenues. It served draft beer, hot sandwiches, and hearty German dishes to hordes of hungry businessmen, politicians, and neighborhood families.

Reeb’s was hit hard by the double whammy of Prohibition and the Great Depression in the 1920’s and 30’s. My grandfather, Lloyd Ballenger, came on board in time to see Prohibition repealed in December 1933. Soon Lloyd was helping run the place from his usual spot behind the counter. Ed Reeb always attributed the restaurant’s survival during these hard times to his loyal customers and dedicated employees.

Reeb's Restaurant in the 1940's 
By 1940, the tide was beginning to turn on the Depression, and Reeb’s had established itself as a popular Columbus eatery and watering hole. And so as I began browsing the census records for the near east side, I found Ed Reeb living in an apartment above the restaurant. He was 60 years old and widowed. His sister Mollie Schneider, 72 years old and also widowed, was living with him.(2)

The census enumerator apparently turned the corner at Reeb’s, went down one side of Champion Ave. and back up the other before resuming his canvassing on E. Livingston Ave. My grandparents Lloyd and Nora Ballenger are found there, a couple of pages later, living in an apartment with their infant son above Resch’s Bakery. The Resch family also had close ties to Reeb’s and the Ballengers. They provided the crusty dinner rolls, melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts, and other baked goods for the restaurant throughout its existence, and were lifelong friends of my grandparents.

This is the last census in which Ed Reeb appears. He died March 2, 1943 of prostrate cancer at that same apartment. He and his wife, Estella, did not have children, and in his estate he left his beloved restaurant to four trusted employees. One of these was Lloyd Ballenger. Lloyd and his son, named after Reeb, bought the others out over time. In 1983, Lloyd celebrated his 50th anniversary as employee-turned-owner of Reeb’s Restaurant.

Lloyd Ballenger with his son in 1940
As researchers, we’re encouraged to look at our family’s friends, associates, and neighbors to increase our understanding of their lives. My little excursion into my grandparents’ 1940 neighborhood has driven home that point to me. Ed Reeb, the Resch family, and the Ballenger family were intrinsically connected through the restaurant that stood at 1041 E. Livingston Ave. Even though I never had the chance to meet Ed Reeb, in a way I grew up in his shadow, playing games with my brother around the booths of the restaurant he created and exploring the subterranean coolers and prep kitchen. My first job was cranking hand-cut onion rings and fresh shrimp through the breading machine.

I didn’t realize before I started that poking around in census records made two decades before I was even born would trigger such strong memories. Reeb’s Restaurant is gone now, a victim of inner city decay. So it’s up to me and others who remember to record and preserve its place in history.

Copyright 2012, Shelley Bishop. All rights reserved.


(1) “Ohio Deaths 1908-1953,” digital image, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org: accessed 17 April 2012), death certificate no. 16002, Edward F. Reeb (1943); citing original records, Ohio Department of Health, held by Ohio Historical Society, Columbus; FHL microfilm no. 2,024,127.

(2) 1940 U.S. census, Columbus Ward 3, Franklin County, Ohio, population schedule, E.D. 93-44, sheet 4A, household 67, Edw. F. Reeb; digital image (beta), Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 17 April 2012); from original records, National Archives and Records Administration, microfilm publication T627.

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April 16, 2012

Announcing My New Website: Buckeye Family Trees

As many of you know, I’ve been working toward becoming a professional genealogist for some time now. For over three years, my primary focus has been genealogical education. I’ve completed the 15-part NGS American Genealogy Home Study Course and the 18-month ProGen Study Group program. I’ve attended institute weeks at SLIG in Salt Lake City and IGHR at Samford University, as well as state and national conferences. Gradually, I began doing research for friends, associates, and clients.

And now I'm pleased to announce that my new business website, Buckeye Family Trees, is up and running!

My professional focus is on Ohio research. It just makes sense for me—I’ve lived in Central Ohio all my life, am familiar with the libraries and archives around here, and have been using these records for years to research my own family lines. I’m looking forward to helping others whose ancestors lived in or traveled through the Buckeye state.

Rest assured that I’ll still be blogging away here as usual at A Sense of Family. I really enjoy sharing my research adventures (and misadventures) with you, my dear readers, and hope to continue for a long time. I thrive on your comments and relish the encouragement and support within the genea-blogging community. In fact, I just wrote an article on genealogy blogs for the 2012 Ohio Genealogical Society Writing Contest—and won first place in the Ohio Genealogy News category! I was thrilled to hear the contest winners announced at the recent OGS Conference.

So when you get a chance, head over to Buckeye Family Trees at www.buckeyefamilytrees.com and check out my website. I’m still fine-tuning and adding to the pages, but I just couldn’t wait any longer to debut it. What do you think of it? 

April 10, 2012

Getting Ready for the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference

I’ll soon be heading north to the Ohio Genealogical Society 2012 Conference, which runs April 12-14 in Cleveland. About a month from now, I’ll be driving south for the National Genealogical Society 2012 Conference, slated for May 9-12 in Cincinnati. Yes, Columbus is turning out to be a sweet place to be based this year!

Even though the NGS Conference may be stealing just a little bit of the OGS Conference’s thunder, I’m excited to have the opportunity to attend both of them. Here’s a few of the reasons why I’m looking forward to OGS:

  • Three full days of sessions led by great speakers, many of them nationally renowned. I wish I could go to them all!
  • The opportunity for hands-on learning with special two-hour workshops on Thursday. There’s 10 of these to choose from, and they go until 9:00 at night. Who says genealogists need sleep?
  • Having dinner with friends and associates from the ProGen Study Group program and Great Lakes APG--sure to be a fun time.
  • Browsing the exhibit hall, with chances to talk to vendors like Maia's Books about their products and services. And I hope to chat with some of the county genealogical societies, too.
  • And last but not least, getting inducted into the Settlers & Builders of Ohio lineage society during Friday’s luncheon. I was able to prove that eight of my ancestors (all on my paternal grandfather’s side) were residents of Ohio between 1821-1860.

So doesn’t that sound exciting? Who else will be joining me at OGS this year? Registration for any or all of the days is still available at the door, and I'd love to see you there!

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April 7, 2012

Baxter Family: Surname Saturday

I’m researching my husband’s Irish ancestors as part of the Irish Research 201 class I’m taking from Sharon Carmack at Family Tree University. This is a summary of his Baxter ancestors.

Baxter is a Scottish/Northern English surname meaning “baker.” This family probably descended from ancestors that came from Scotland to Ireland as part of the Plantation of Ulster in the 1600’s.

Generation 1
Henry Baxter was born about 1850 in County Antrim, Ireland. He married Elizabeth Cleeland in Belfast in 1871. They had three known children—James, Robert, and Isaac—born in Belfast and Larne, County Antrim, in the 1870’s. The family was Presbyterian. Henry's occupation was master plumber.

Elizabeth Cleeland Baxter died before 1907, at which time Henry married Mary Reid. Henry and Mary did not have children and lived in Bangor, County Down. Henry died October 7, 1930 in Bangor.

Generation 2
Henry’s middle son, Robert Cleeland Baxter, was born September 18, 1874. He married Annie Carmichael Flack on August 29, 1896 in Belfast. They had five children: Henry (who died in infancy), another Henry (called “Harry”), Isaac (also died young), Agnes (called “Nan”), and Margaret. After serving with the British Merchant Marines, Robert immigrated to America in 1908, ultimately settling in Cleveland, Ohio. He found work first as an engineer, and later as a guard at the Cleveland Art Museum. He was naturalized in Cleveland in 1924.

Annie did not come to America until 1921, when she arrived in New York with Nan and Margaret on the Carmania. She and Robert had spent 13 years living on different continents. Annie Flack Baxter died in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 14, 1945, at 68 years old. Robert lived to be 81, passing away in Cleveland on October 22, 1955.

The Baxter family in Cleveland, l to r: Margaret, Annie, Nan, Robert, and Harry

Generation 3
Robert’s second son, Harry Baxter, was born in Belfast on August 26, 1900. In his father’s absence, he grew up under his grandfather Henry’s strict tutelage.  Although underage, he voluntarily served four years with the Merchant Marines in the Great War. In 1920, he immigrated to America on the Baltic and made his way to his father in Cleveland.

Harry Baxter married Leatha Evans on May 27, 1925 in Cleveland. He started a plumbing business, which faltered during the Great Depression. He later operated Baxter Fuel & Supply Company, supplying coal to homes and businesses in Garrettsville, Ohio. Harry died after a brief illness at the age of 50 on September 19, 1950, leaving his wife and daughter. Leatha remarried and lived to be 92 years old. 

Research Questions:
  • Who were the parents of Henry Baxter?
  • When and in what town was Henry Baxter born?
  • Who were the parents of Elizabeth Cleeland?
  • When and where was Elizabeth Cleeland born?
  • When (in Belfast) did Elizabeth Cleeland Baxter die?

Note: while sources are not provided here due to length, I have a fully sourced version of this that I'd be glad to send you. Just email me and ask. And if you have Baxter ancestors or are researching families in County Antrim, I'd love to hear from you!

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April 2, 2012

Advancing in April: Motivation Monday

I hope the weather is good where you are, because we are having the loveliest—and earliest—spring I can remember in a long time in Ohio. The flowering trees are nearly a month ahead of schedule. Wish I could say the same about myself!

I did pretty well on some of my March goals, and not so well on others. I made a research plan for the Allen County Public Library and for the most part followed it when I got there, so I’ll count research as a success (even though I didn’t find anything earth-shattering). I also finished organizing my last three surname binders.

One of the highlights of the month was visiting my brother (always a treat) and scanning over 100 family pictures with my new Flip-Pal scanner. It only took about an hour—amazing! And I wrote ten blog posts, exceeding my goal of eight.

On the other hand, my pledge to write 20 minutes a day took a real hit this month. It just didn’t happen. I haven’t yet gotten the images that I scanned at my brother’s house off the SD card, so I didn’t actually add anything to my digital archives. I only watched one of the two webinars I meant to, and haven’t yet typed up my hastily scribbled notes for that one.

With the release of the 1940 Census starting April off with a bang, though, there’s no time to dwell on missed goals. So without further ado, here’s what I hope to accomplish this month:

  • Process the images that I scanned at my brother’s and add them to my digital archives, with metadata
  • Write eight blog posts
Giving Back:
  • Index batches of the 1940 Census for the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project. This will be my first time indexing, and I’m looking forward to it--as long as all of us eager genealogists don't crash the servers!
I also have one other project I’m working on, but I’m not quite ready to talk about it yet. Stay tuned for an announcement next week.

What would you like to accomplish in April? Will you be indexing or looking for people in the 1940 census? Whatever your goals, best wishes for a productive and enjoyable month!

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