Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year's 4 pack

Among our collections, is an old postcard collection from my husband's grandmother, Clara Coleman. Here are 4 of my favorite New Year's cards from the collection. The first was written in 1922; the second was written in 1932; the third was never used and the fourth in 1927. Happy New Year to all!

Reflections on my Mom, the genealogist

Yesterday, December 30th, 2011, was the 5th anniversary of my mother's passing, after a valiant fight with Alzheimer's for one year. I spent yesterday, reflecting that she is the reason I'm so involved with genealogy. She was not just my mother, but my mentor in terms of the importance of leaving a legacy of family history. The picture above was taken of our family in either 1958 or 1959 at our home in Maple Heights, Ohio. It was part of the 40 boxes of pictures and genealogy paperwork that she left in my care.

It was with my mother and father that I first visited relatives in Fayette County, PA; and went hunting for tombstones in the cemeteries. It was through her that I learned about the confusion of the FOX family, and watched while she researched and produced articles and pamphlets relating to Ohio genealogy. She did all of her work with letters! In fact I have over 500 copies of letters she wrote (she used old fashioned blue copy paper) and also all of the replies.

When I first brought my husband-to-be home to meet my parents, all my mom really cared about was his lineage. And was shocked but then thrilled to find she would have another family to unravel. My mother, however, just did not do the work - she insisted that I do it with her support.

Today, my passion has become genealogy, and continuing to unravel the family history. I often wonder what she would have said about her research, if she had been given the opportunity to blog. She traveled to the National Archives in DC, was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City on several occasions. But she never used Ancestry, and had only just begun to put her work into the computer. I wonder whether she would have told stories or written about her research. I simply know that the time we spent searching, rolling the microfilm forward, was precious time and one of memories.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Special Christmas - Story #2

Our youngest son, Zachary James Richardson, surprised Bethany Wright (with the help of her parents) on December 23, 2011 in Hickory, N.C. The purpose - asking for her hand in marriage. Here is their wonderful picture.

What makes this so very special, is that during my genealogy research, we have discovered that Zachary and Bethany are eighth cousins, once removed! How proud my mother would be of this union.

Bethany is related to Conrad Yoder, who traveled to Hickory as an apprentice and lived there his entire life. Zachary is related to his brother, Nicolaus Yoder, how stayed in Berks County, PA - but his relatives eventually moved to Ohio, where my mother, Dorothy Mae Yoder was born.

Congratulations - and Bethany - we welcome you to our family!

A Special Christmas - Story #1

My genealogy line has grown - here is story #1.

On December 23, 2011 Dominique Fufidio and Matthew Scott Richardson married at the Sandals Grand Rivera Resort in Jamaica! They eloped - however, everyone knew about it a head of time - they simply wanted a simple wedding!! However, they had beautiful engagement pictures - and of course the wedding pictures will be coming along later.

Be sure to visit the site of their engagement pictures at:

Matt finished his masters in engineering last week; and Dominique graduates from dental school in Buffalo.

We welcome her to our family tree!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A picture that takes life!

Have you ever found a picture and you have little knowledge about those portrayed? This has happened often to me, as I've gone through boxes and boxes of pictures left by my mother of pictures of relatives. The one displayed here had on the back "Aunt Zella and Uncle John King" missionaries to Africa.

It took me a while to place them in the family tree. John King is the son of Martin King, the brother to Charles Frederick King, who was the great-grandfather to my grandmother Virginia King. The rule in the family was that if we didn't know the "correct terminology" for relationships - we just called people Aunts and Uncles! I believe that they would have been first cousins, twice removed.

The "aha" moment came when on my tree I received this comment:

"I'm the site manager for Hanby House Museum in Westerville, OH. Zella Bates King's wedding dress is on display in the museum. Her husband wasthe president of the Hanby Memorial Association formed in 1934 for the purpose of saving Hanby House. (see www. Mrs. King died of a heart attack in her home on October 18, 1954. There is a great story of the Kings returning from their mission trip to Africa and missing the sailing of their ship...the Titanic! There is a dormitory on the Otterbein University campus named for the Kings."

So now there is even more curiosity about this couple. And more work will come to discover their full story and their legacy for the family.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Memories - December 5, 1941

My parents, Maurice Fred COFFMAN and Dorothy Mae YODER were married on December 5, 1941 at St. Paul's Church, part of Rock Creek Parish in Washington, D.C. by Pastor Bohanan. The picture above was taken on their wedding day and today marks their 70th wedding anniversary. They both were alive at the time of their 65th anniversary in 2006.

Dad was in the Navy, stationed in DC. On the morning of December 7, 1941, immediately after the hit at Pearl Harbor, the local MP's arrived at their hotel room, and whisked my dad away as a result of the strike on the United States. Thus, their honeymoon was cut short. The wedding was very small, with just their parents in attendance. Afterwards the announcement shown above was sent out by my mom's parents.

Dad and Mom always celebrated their wedding day, through cards and flowers. Within the 5 years before Mom's death in 2006, they returned to St. Paul's Church to visit the site of their wedding. They both admitted that although much "older" the church had not changed.

They taught us all the importance of wedding vows, and as my middle son, Matthew Scott Richardson marries Dominique Fufidio on December 23rd, 2011, I sincerely hope for them the same long life together! Congratulations!!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Wordless Wednesday

I've decided to change the picture up on my blog - but wanted to give this picture a place in history. This is a picture of David and Mary (WHITE) COFFMAN and their family, taken in Fayette County, PA. We know the picture was taken before 1891, since that is the death date of James WHITE, Mary's father, who is sitting in the center of the picture along with his wife, Susanna MILLER. My direct relative is James Wadsworth COFFMAN, a son of David and Mary, who is standing to the far right, with his wife, Mary Elizabeth SHEETS in front of him.
Based on other children in the picture, we believe that the picture was taken in 1865 or 1866. The original is in my possession.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Remembered

I've been traveling the past two weeks, and thus away from the computer, and my blog. I realized while I was away, that I was not getting a chance to reminisce about Thanksgiving and our family traditions and so I apologize for my late posting and thoughts.

Thanksgiving, as a child, was a day spent at the family farm in Ohio, my grandfather Coffman's farm. The picture is of my grandfather Maurice Coffman, and my uncle, James Coffman at the farm in Ohio. The family - extended - uncles, aunts, cousins (close and those "removed"), grandparents and friends got together and feasted for the day. I seem to only remember the pies - typically the count was one for each of us - although I don't recall being allowed to eat a whole one! My dad, and his father were the 'turkey men" and there was also ham along with all of the traditional fixings. After my grandparents passed, the Thanksgiving day was one of family = just those that could make it to either my parents home or my house. Every so often, we would all travel to Texas and spend time with our cousins and their extended families.

As my boys aged, Thanksgiving continued at my home - but dad would always do the turkey. It wasn't until his late 80's, that he allowed me to take over the turkey duty - but always under his watchful eye. This year with his passing, it just seemed right to take the year off - and spend it differently - but remembering throughout the day the special day of Thanksgiving and its meaning to me.

And so I leave you with my memories - but most importantly the indelible sense that Thanksgiving is about family. Communicating with those you love - and when possible being with those that know you the best. Giving thanks to all you have and to your health. Being thankful for your life, and remembering that we were all put here on earth to doing something more, than just take up space. Maybe Thanksgiving should be the start of new goals, and new promises to live life to its fullest, and rejoice in the art of living! My Thanksgiving wishes to you all.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day and honoring their memories

Today, 11/11/11, is Veteran's Day. This is a picture of my father, Maurice Fred Coffman and my mother, Dorothy Yoder Coffman shortly after their marriage on December 5, 1941. Yes, they were married two days before Pearl Harbor, and were on their honeymoon in DC, where dad was stationed.

Dad, was proud of his Naval heritage and service. In addition, we must also honor, his father, Maurice Coffman (see the Coffman page); my father's brother, James Coffman; my mother's father, Earl Yoder (see the Yoder page) and many more relatives who have served this United States.

In my grandfather Coffman's U.S.N. scrap book, in my possession there are pages of quotes and poems that were meaningful to my grandfather. There is no question that this one struck a special note for me:

"Somebody Waiting for Me"
"Somebody's waiting for me;
Some one who loves me, I know,
Somebody's wondering where I can be,
And what can be keeping me so!
Somebody's heart is sad
Waiting so anxiously'
There's a light shining bright
From a window-to-night,
For there's somebody waiting for me."

"You have a sweetheart, somewhere,"
One among them softly said.
"Is she handsome, Jack? pray introduce us, do!"
"If you'll come with me," he answered,
"I will show her to you, boys.
It's the only sweetheart that I ever knew."
Then he led them to a cottage,
Pointed through a window-pane,
Where a gray-haired woman sat with her head down,
"She's my mother, she's my sweetheart
She's the one I meant to-night,
So you see I told the truth boys, when I said:

Somebody's waiting for me;
Some one who loves me, I know,
Somebody's wondering where I can be,
And what can be keeping me so!
Somebody's heart is sad
Waiting so anxiously'
There's a light shining bright
From a window-to-night,
For there's somebody waiting for me."

Bless all those who have served, and know that there is someone waiting for you!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Attendance at Pennsylvania Family History Day

Yesterday, I got to attend the Pennsylvania Family History Day, sponsored by the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania and What a great event. Vendors and Speakers offered an amazing amount of information, all in one area at the Wyndham in Exton, PA.

Curt Witcher, from Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne Indiana, was worth the price of admission. His focus was on the changing face of genealogy and talked about the thing important to me - telling the stories. He even went so far to say that the activity we are all involved in now is going to end up being called family history since it opens the doors more for everyone's involvement. I left the keynote, realizing that I have much work to do to ensure that our family history is preserved properly for the generations to come.

At lunch, DearMRYTLE, shared her story "Let Them Eat Jam." Her impassioned sharing of her family story based on memories, was inspiring to many, and made us all realize that each one of us, and our family handles family memories differently: photography, cooking, talking, writing; to name a few. All of these work - what becomes important are the memories and the traditions.

I received additional clues on research from Lou Szucs from and John T. Humphrey on Pennsylvania Land Records. What was exciting is that Kim McGowan who teaches a class in genealogy with me at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Widener University was present, as were a table full of our students! Learning was a happening activity yesterday!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Using Government Land Records

The Bureau of Land Management has done a wonderful job indexing the land records, and providing over 5 million images from 1820 to present day. The site is located at

The site states the following about the land patent records.
"Federal Land Patents offer researchers a source of information on the initial transfer of land titles from the Federal government to individuals. In addition to verifying title transfer, this information will allow the researcher to associate an individual (Patentee, Assignee, Warrantee, Widow, or Heir) with a specific location (Legal Land Description) and time (Issue Date). We have a variety of Land Patents on our site, including Cash Entry, Homestead and Military Warrant patents."

Just recently I used this site to look up information on the FOX family and their movement to Ohio in the early 1800's; work that had been done by my mother through letters and trips to the county court house. Here, I was able to look up the land patent in 1820 of a cash sale to Henry FOX; Philip AIRHART; Andrew MILBOURN; Samuel CRAIG; James CRAIG; and Joseph RHODES; and George JAMES. What is amazing is that of the seven individuals listed - five are direct relatives of the FOX family. However, it does open up the question about who was Philip AIRHART AND George JAMES. Which is why genealogy research never ends.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Uncovering the history of the search

I really never know what I'm going to find when I look into the files in the filing cabinets of genealogy research left to me by my father and mother. It never fails to amaze me, in today's technology age, how much my parents achieved through letters! At the same time, it often brings frustration - first in understanding my mother's filing system - but also in finding that as her Alzheimer's took hold, she often misfiled pieces of paper and files. However, I can never be too thankful for the time she took to leave me the legacy of our family.

Today, I was working on writing the next post on the YODER family (Howard Harrison YODER who married Luella Drucilla SLACK); and came upon the notes from my mother about the Slack research. They began in 1959 with a copy of the family history of the Slacks given to her by her Aunt Leah (YODER) DAY. The information had been originally distributed at a Slack reunion in July 1926. Supposedly there is a copy of this in the file - but not something I can find. She continues searching through census, marriage records, historical records and DAR records, each providing another piece of the puzzle. In 1967, her father (Earl YODER) suggested that she write to Mildred (MASTERS) COLDIRON about the family - although no response at that time. Mildred did write my mother in 1977, asking for Slack information. How different that was then today - when a simple search of her name on to figure out the relation - a true cousin of my grandfather Earl.

In addition, my mother corresponded with Harold CROWL who descended from a sister of Luella Drucilla SLACK who was known as "Della." What is most fun - is that his son and I have been corresponding and sharing pictures through Ancestry for over 2 years about our respective families! What writing is causing, is the effort to go through each file, look at the collection of documents achieved by my mother, and realize she did this as a labor of love and respect for our past.

Friday, October 14, 2011

More Pages - More People

I've now completed pages for Richardson and Coleman - my husband's grandparents on his father's side; and Robertson and Braun - my husband's grandparents on his mother's side. His mom, at 92 is still living in Miles City, MT. Unfortunately dementia is ever-present, and so we can learn little at this point about her early years. The good news, is that she wrote a book for each of our children about her family (called Grandmom remembers) and we will be able to also share her stories.

Now my goal will be to work each of the families back - not just about who their parents are, but the stories that are part of our family legacy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pages on my Grandparents

Please be sure to visit the pages that I've included in my blog. Coffman, King, Yoder and Fox are the pages I have started introducing you to my grandparents. Virginia (King) and Maurice Coffman were the parents to my father Maurice Fred Coffman. Fern (Fox) and Earl Yoder were my mother's parents.

Both my parents worked hard to research their family lines. My mother started the research because her grandparents, on her mothers side both had the name of Fox. She was curious about their relationship. This is something I will detail in upcoming posts. My father found a similar situation in his King line, with two King's marrying each other 4 generations back.

It was these discoveries that resulted in all of their genealogy work, and a wonderful legacy of stories and pictures.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How did I get started in Genealogy?

I teach a genealogy class each semester at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute for Widener University. Each semester I begin the genealogy class telling the story of visiting cemeteries throughout the Midwestern United States as part of every summer vacation that I can remember. My mom always gave the kids (my brother, sister and myself) the same task and reward, “Find the tombstone with this person’s name, and you can choose the place for dinner
tonight.” For many years I thought that this was the same experience every child had during vacation.

It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I realized these experiences were at the heart of genealogy research. I then began to learn more about genealogy, as my husband and I researched my husband’s ancestors with my mother’s help. The research took us from Montana, the birthplace of my husband, back to Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, and North Carolina in the 1770s.

Throughout the process my mother made sure I studied the stories of the relatives, not to just find the documents that established their lineage, but to research the history and background of the era to better understand why people moved or bought and sold land. It was also during this time that I watched her write and publish several articles about our Fox relatives.

Upon her death in 2006, I received 40 boxes and four filing cabinets of genealogy materials. Pictures, files, documents, and stories—all left for me to learn more about my ancestors.

Last week at a conference (I am by day a continuing educator) one session talked about how blogging could be a great way to communicate information to others. I realized that blogging would be a great way for me to journal my research in genealogy, and to be able to share my work with others. Thus the "birth" of Leaving a Legacy!

The work from the class has resulted in an article that was just published. You can find it here:

Meanwhile - who am I researching? On my parents side we have the names of Coffman and King (my dad's parents) and Fox and Yoder (my mother's parents). On my husbands side we have the names of Richardson and Coleman (his fathers parents) and on his mothers side we have Robertson and Braun. I am hopeful that this blog will help me to stretch my thinking and share the stories of my family.