April 29, 2014

Researching Catharine (Fox) Roush: 52 Ancestors

Next week I’ll be attending the National Genealogical Society’s 2014 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing some of the presentations on Virginia records. I know I have several Virginia ancestors and suspect I may have even more, so I’m also excited about working in some research time at the Library of Virginia while I’m there.

One person I want to investigate is Catharine Fox, wife of Jacob Roush. Jacob served in the Dunmore County Militia under Captain Jacob Holman during the Revolutionary War.[1] (The name of the county changed to Shenandoah in 1778, after the patriotic colonists tired of the British Lord Dunmore.) Although I’ve found a number of records for Jacob, I know much less about his wife Catharine, who is my 6th-great-grandmother. According to DAR records, she was born in 1758 in Berks County, Pennsylvania.[2] I haven’t been able to find a birth or baptism record to verify that information yet, but it’s a clue, at least. Her parents are unknown.

Fortunately, I have found some records naming Catharine:
  • The marriage bonds of Shenandoah County, Virginia, show that Jacob Rausch secured a bond to marry Catharine Fuchsin on 21 February 1775.[3] The record, which I’ve only seen in abstracted form, uses the German spellings of both surnames. (Fuchs is the German word for Fox, and the –in suffix at the end of the name indicates the person is female.) In the absence of a surviving marriage return, I’m following the DAR’s lead in using this as the date of their marriage.

  • The births and baptisms of Jacob and Catharine’s first seven children were recorded in the registry of Old Pine Church in Mill Creek, Virginia. The registry is written in German, but has been transcribed by Klaus Wust.[4] The original book is at the Library of Virginia, and I would love to see it, if it’s not too fragile to handle. The family’s record appears on page 7. One entry in particular intrigues me. The only sponsor for the baptism of Jacob and Catharine’s first child, Rosina, born 20 January 1877, was a woman named Catharina Fuchs. Who was this Catharina? Could she have been the mother, aunt, or cousin of the Catharine Fuchsin who married Jacob Rausch? (Note: Catharine’s name is also spelled Catharina in German records, including the baptism registry.) I think there’s a strong probability of a relationship between the two women of the same name, but I don’t know its exact nature.

  • The Old Pine Church registry also contains an entry for the baptism of Johannes Fuchs, son of Adam Fuchs and his wife Elisabeth, born 19 February 1784.[5] Could this Adam Fuchs be the brother of Catharine (Fuchs) Roush? The surname is uncommon enough to make me suspect so, but as yet I have no proof.

  • The final clue I’ve found to Catharine’s birth family comes from the last known record that she and Jacob created in Shenandoah County. After both of Jacob’s parents died, they moved west and bought land in what is now Mason County, West Virginia, and Gallia County, Ohio. They sold their remaining Shenandoah County land on 9 September 1799 to Peter Fox. Catharine made a mark (X) instead of signing her name.[6] Who was Peter Fox, and might he also have been Catharine’s brother?

Catharine Fox Roush Gallia County Ohio

Catharine (Fox) Roush is buried in Roush Cemetery in Cheshire, Gallia County, Ohio. Her date of death is a mystery. I think she may have died relatively early in their residence there, because she did not sign the customary dower release when Jacob sold land in October 1809, or any time thereafter. Jacob wrote a detailed will in January 1827, and Catharine is not mentioned in it.

So where does this leave me? Well, first I need to develop a research focus for Catharine. I’m considering this: "How was Catharine Fox, who married Jacob Roush in February 1775, associated with fellow Shenandoah County residents Catharina Fuchs/Fox, Adam Fuchs/Fox, and Peter Fox?" Then I want to take a good look at the Library of Virginia’s online catalog and determine which resources I want to see next week. And I’d better get cracking—it’s coming up fast!


© 2014, Shelley Bishop

“52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” is coordinated by Amy Johnson Crow, CG, author of No Story Too Small.

[1] Gaius M. Brumbaugh, Revolutionary War Records Virginia (1936; reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1995), p. 607-609.
[2] Daughters of the American Revolution Genealogical Research System, “Ancestor Search” database ( : accessed 28 April 2014), Jacob Roush of Virginia, Ancestor #A098978.
[3] John Vogt and T. William Kethley, Shenandoah County Marriage Bonds, 1772-1850 (Athens, Georgia: Iberian Press, 1983), p. 243.
[4] Klaus Wust, Old Pine Church Baptisms, 1783-1828, Mill Creek, Virginia (Edinburg, Virginia: Shenandoah History, 1987), p. 19-20.
[5] Ibid., p. 20.
[6] Amelia C. Gilreath, Shenandoah County, Virginia Deed Book Series, Volume 4: Combination Minute Book, 1774-1780, and Deed Books M and N, 1799-1804 (Nokesville, Virginia: privately published, 1989), p. 57; citing Shenandoah County Deed Book M: 47, Jacob Roush to Peter Fox (1799).

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April 22, 2014

Finding John Herrel's Naturalization in an Unindexed FamilySearch Collection

John George Herrel, my great-great-grandfather, was the last of my direct ancestors to immigrate to America. In a previous post, The Joy of Holding History in Your Hands, I wrote about viewing his original declaration of intention to become a U.S. citizen. The declaration indicates he left the port of Le Havre, France, on 7 August 1880, and arrived in New York City on 29 August. He was a 21-year-old native of Germany. It was filed with the Hamilton County, Ohio, Probate Court on 25 March 1881, less than a year after his arrival.

John George Herrel

Until last week, however, I had not been able to find John’s certificate of naturalization, which would show he completed the citizenship process. Thanks to a cooperative effort between Hamilton County government offices and, thousands of early Cincinnati records have recently been digitized and made freely available online. It took a bit of perseverance, but I’m happy to report that I found John’s naturalization record.

The new collection, “Ohio, Hamilton County Records, 1791-1994,” is not indexed, so simply entering John’s name in the main search box won’t bring up his naturalization. What do you do when the records you need aren’t indexed? To help others looking for records in browse-only FamilySearch collections, I thought I’d share the process I used, step by step:

1. From the FamilySearch homepage, choose Search. Scroll down to the bottom of the page where you see a map of the world. Under “Browse All Published Collections,” click on United States.

2. In the box “Filter by Collection Name,” enter Ohio. In the list that appears, scroll and select “Ohio, Hamilton County Records, 1791-1994.” You’ll note it says Browse Images—a sign that the collection is not indexed.

3. Read the description of the collection, then click on “Browse through 1,151,606 images.” (Don’t worry, you won’t have to look at them all!)
You’ll see the collection includes Land and Property Records, Probate Records, Naturalization Records, and Vital Records. Choose Naturalization.

4. A long list of choices will be displayed. Since I already have John’s declaration of intention, I can bypass those. Based on my information, I started with “Petitions for Naturalization, vol. 5, 1884-1885.”

5. The volume opens on Image 1. The first several pages of the volume contain an alphabetical index. Scroll through these using the arrow next to the image number box until you find the H page (for Herrel). In time, I learned the H index usually appeared about Image 9, so as a shortcut, I could enter 9 in the box and click Go. You’ll see there are no Herrels indexed in this volume. To go back to the list, click on “Naturalization Records” in blue.

6. I repeated this process for Petitions for Naturalization volumes 6, 7, and 8. I didn’t find a single Herrel indexed in any of those volumes, which initially discouraged me. But wait, there’s more! Keep scrolling down and you’ll find “Petitions for Naturalization, vol. A-1, 1884-1894.” This appears to be another ledger kept by a different courtroom or judge. Alas, there are no Herrels in this volume, either. I went back to the list and tried vol. A-6 and vol. A-7 (there’s no mention of vols. A-2 through A-5), again without results.

7. Finally, I hit paydirt with “Petitions for Naturalization, vol. A-8, 1884-1885.” There he was: Herrel, John, page 227. Now I needed to find what image number corresponds to page 227. Entering 227 in the image box number took me to ledger page 101, so I needed to go much higher. By trial and error, I found page 227 at image 479. Success at last! I checked the next page, too, but John’s record is only a single page.

John Herrel naturalization Cincinnati

See what I mean by perseverance? Browsing through unindexed collections may take more time and effort, but it’s not hard to do, and the results are worth it. In fact, it took me a lot longer to write this blog post than it did to search the indexes of all eight volumes one by one.

Now I know John Herrel stood before a judge in Hamilton County, Ohio, to take his oath and become a citizen of the United States on 28 September 1885. What a proud moment that had to be for him and his family. Of course, I’d be happier today if the record stated the name of the town in Germany he came from, but I have to remember that wasn’t why the record was created. The court only needed to know he had fulfilled the requirements for citizenship and renounced his allegiance to the Emperor of Germany.

The bottom line is that browse-only collections like these on FamilySearch hold many untold treasures. Don’t be afraid to give them a try!


Citation for this record: “Ohio, Hamilton County Records, 1791-1994,” digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 8 April 2014), Petitions for Naturalization, vol. A-8, 1884-1885, no. 227 (image 479), John Herrel, issued 28 September 1885; Hamilton County Probate Court, Cincinnati.

“52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” is coordinated by Amy Johnson Crow, CG, author of No Story Too Small.

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April 20, 2014

Easter Wishes

This little girl with her hands full of bunnies is my mother, Judy Herrel, at Easter 1945. Isn’t she adorable? As we collect memories and keepsakes of years gone by, we naturally find our favorites. This photograph is one of mine.

Happy Easter to my Mom, and to all my readers and friends!

April 8, 2014

Fred Herrel, Curtiss-Wright Production Soldier: 52 Ancestors

Herb and Freddy Herrel
My grandfather, Frederick C. Herrel, grew up in the shadow of one Great War and spent his 20s in the midst of a second. Born May 20, 1914, to parents Harry and Mabel (Seeley) Herrel, he looked every bit the little soldier in a family portrait taken in Columbus, Ohio, about 1920[1] (although I’d like to know the story behind that haircut!).

As a high school student between the wars, in the summers of 1930 and 1931, Fred attended Citizen’s Military Training Camp (CMTC) at Fort Knox, Kentucky. At Fort Knox, he and the other CMTC boys drilled, trained, and lived like soldiers. He pasted photos of Fort Knox in his scrapbook, along with pictures of his sweetheart, Wilma Steele.

Fred Herrel, CMTC at Fort Knox, 1930

After they married in 1935, the mechanically-minded Fred found employment at Curtiss-Wright, which had a production plant on the east side of Columbus.
Fred was 27 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. His country needed men, and he already had some training. But unlike most in his generation, he never enlisted in the Army or Navy. Why? That’s a question future generations might wonder, too.

Fred Herrel, about 1940

The answer's pretty simple, really. As war production ramped up, Fred’s skills made him more valuable on the home front than on the battlefield. Curtiss-Wright received major defense contracts for airplanes and airplane parts during World War II, and skilled workers were in high demand. The company would produce over 29,000 airplanes by the time the war ended.[2]

Fred Herrel’s specialty was installing airplane windshields. Production of new aircraft and parts at the Columbus facility was in high gear, but there was a big need for those who could repair damaged aircraft, too. For about six months during the war, he was transferred to a facility in Arizona, where he replaced windshields on planes that had already seen action.

For his contributions to the war effort, Fred received a metal bracelet, which reads, “Production Soldier Curtiss Wright 100%.” It’s a small token of a different type of service than he might have expected back in his CMTC days. So much history packed into one small object.

Fred continued to work for Curtiss-Wright’s successor at the Columbus plant, North American Aircraft/Rockwell International, until he retired. I wish now that I had asked him about those wartime days, and thanked him for the work he did, while I had the chance.


© Copyright 2014 Shelley Bishop
The “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” blog series is coordinated by Amy Johnson Crow, CG, author of the blog No Story Too Small

[1] Ohio Department of Health, birth certificate no. 63201 (1914), Frederick Calvin Herrel; Division of Vital Statistics, Columbus.
[2] Curtiss-Wright Corporation, Company History (1939-1948) ( : accessed 8 April 2014).