‘Twas the day before Thanksgiving

Twas the day before Thanksgiving and I have been focusing on family and the blessings of life as is the norm this time of year. I am thinking of those who came before and those who may come after. I am feeling incredibly blessed for all that I have.

There have been several of those family members who came before me that have been heavy on my mind. I can almost feel them reaching out to me to tell their stories.

Martha Winchester Beardsley, who is just a name on a tombstone in Clintonville. She died at the mere age of 20 but left 3 children behind. I know nothing but a couple of dates but I can feel here asking questions.

Arvilla Preston Shumway, who was married at 16, to a man almost 20 years her senior. She went on to have 10 children. What must her life have been like. I hear her story wanting to be told.

My own grandmother, Chiara Moro DellaVecchia, who was born in the United States and then went to Italy for 20 years before returning in 1938. What was the real reason the family returned to Italy. What must it of been like to come back. How had it changed.

We always here the stories of the men but what about the women. Their stories are just as important. Even though the records are sparse their stories need to be told. I so want to put together a profile of those families that speak to me.

I am not a writer and don’t profess to be one but I can feel the family before me asking me to tell their stories and now I need to figure a way to tell those stories and to share them. Our ancestors should not be forgotten and they should be more than the names and dates on a stone.

So today I am thankful for all of my family, past, present and future. Thank you for helping me be the person I am.

Post 1850 Immigration

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 3.21.27 PM

This is  a list of the trees I am actively researching. This summer it has been an ebb and flow of research as there has a been a lot going on here on the home front. This afternoon I had every intention of taking the kids to the pool but it is a rainy cool day and that isn’t happening. I decided to choose one of the trees and do some research.

The luck winner is the Angert Tree. I am very intrigued by post 1850 immigration as it is not my forte. Actually researching passenger lists tends to make me nervous and realize how much experience I do not have at it.

I generally let the ancestors speak to me and guide me on this journey, especially when I am researching family that is not mine. These ancestors seem to want their stories told. Today I concentrated on Golde “Jennie” Wasserman and Israel “Joseph” Angert.

I went with what I had already found from the information provided to me. I found the couple on the 1910 census.

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 3.40.53 PM

The Angert Family lived at 129 Bruce Street, Newark, New Jersey. They have been married for 28 years and it is the first marriage for both. Additionally, we learn that Jennie has given birth to 9 children and 9 children are living. They are Russian/Yiddish (I need to do a bit more into this but we can discern they are Jewish immigrants). We also learn that they arrived in 1882 and are naturalized citizens. I need to research the immigration laws of the time to see how it worked. If memory serves me right from my own familial research if Joseph became a citizen his wife and minor children became citizens.

Another point of interest is Joseph and the children spoke English but Jennie is listed as speaking Yiddish. We also see that Joseph and the children can read and write but again Jennie does not.

The Angerts also rent their home. So much can be gleaned from a census record. From this information I now knew the date of the Angert’s arrival so I headed over to Family Search (I have a lot better luck their searching passenger lists for some reason) and searched for their arrival. I checked a few records and found it. Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 3.49.34 PM

Israel Hangert and his wife Golde came to New York in 1886 on the Alaska and both were born in Russia. This is pre-Ellis Island so they most likely were processed at Castle Garden.

Unfortunately, we can not check the 1890 Census so we will check the 1900 census for NY and check the births of their children to see what else we can glean. I did find a death record in 1916 but am not sure it is actually the correct family (as the burial is in Connecticut) so I don’t want share it until I can verify it.

Thankfully with the wonderful work Reclaim the Records is doing I can check the index to see if any of the names match with the census records to further track the journey of Golde and Israel.



52 Ancestors – The Old Homestead

Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 9.15.56 AM

I am way behind on this project but hope to get moving on it again. This is Week 13. The prompt was the old homestead. My grandparents bought this farm in the early 1960s. It is not the house my Mom was raised in. They owned a farm in Harkness before this. This is the house I spent many summers at.

When I think of my grandparents I think of this house or their house in Florida that originally belonged to my Uncle Les. The Weatherwax family owned a much larger spread in Peru but my Great Grandfather Benjamin sold the spread originally settled by David Weatherwax in 1790.

This summer there will be a family reunion and I am sure lots of stories will be told and memories shared. As I get older I realize that the house is not what holds the family together. It is the bond and the love.

Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 9.27.12 AM.png


52 Ancestors – Cemetery

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 3.39.22 PM

Growing up I thought I had been to almost every cemetery in Plattsburgh and Peru. Nope not even close.

In 2016, while awaiting my applications approval from the Daughters of the American Revolution, I joined their Facebook Group and I learned about supplemental applications for other patriots you descend from. One of the tips was to look into the father of the wife or husband of your original patriot. Lo and Behold I discovered Bezaleel Wood. Seriously isn’t that the best name ever.

Upon discovering Bezaleel Wood, I saw he was buried at the Baker Burying Ground off Route 3 in Plattsburgh, NY. I immediately asked my mother where it was since she is a native of Clinton County and she had no clue. She had never been there. Let’s be honest we didn’t even know we were related to Bezaleel Wood until then.

A road trip was planned and we discovered the coolest cemetery ever. Well kept. Situated off Route 3 and sitting behind 2 houses. They should have the coolest Halloween Decorations ever. We found Bezaleel and his Wife Mehetabel Darby and a few of their sons. My Sarah Wood Larkin is buried in Shelters Cemetery.

The Baker Cemetery is peaceful under a throng of trees and I am so happy to say I am planning to visit soon. Oh and I did fill out one of those DAR Supplemental Patriot Applications for Bezaleel.

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 3.37.57 PM

Hopefully this summer or early fall. I need to hit the North Country for some research. I need to find that pesky Old Clintonville Cemetery where my Beardsley family is buried.  I find peace in these old cemeteries and do not want these extraordinary men and women forgotten.

Everyday I research my family the past comes a little bit more alive.

Not my forte…

So I will be totally honest here, Irish research gives me a headache.  A big massive migraine. A great friend gave me a book on researching your Irish roots and I should probably break it out and read it.

I am working on one of my pro-bono cases to gain knowledge on report writing and researching things I am not accustomed too and Irish research scares me. I know I can do it if I could get over the fear but those Marys and James and Johns confuse the heck out of me.

I am working on finding the immigrant ancestors for this case and am proud of how far I have gotten to date on these. I am gaining a huge amount of knowledge into NYC records something I am not super proficient in but getting there pretty quick.

Now I am on to find those naturalization papers and ship manifests and I will call this one a success. After looking at the picture I am a bit aggravated by Ancestry putting the married name in. I should use my RootsMagic but love the convenience of Ancestry on the multiple computers I use.Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 4.48.20 PM

I was very happy for that one United States line that took me into Indiana. I was able to go back prior to the revolution on that one. May see if I can find the gateway ancestor on that branch. I went back to Maryland there.

I will be honest I love colonial/American Revolution research the best. Now off to find my final few facts and work on my reports.

52 Ancestors – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Yes I am still 2 weeks behind but that is okay. I gave this one a lot of thought and there were so many people I wanted to eat with.

  • Sarah Larkin Beardsley – I would love to know her thoughts on Medical School in the 1880s.
  • My Grandpa Tony – What was like like coming to America in 1920?
  • Bezaleel Wood – What was it like to fight in the American Revolution?
  • Rebecca Towne Nurse – What was it like to be tried for Witchcraft in Salem?
  • Obadiah Coolidge – why oh why can’t find any record of you except in your Daughter Hannah’s will.

Then there are my husband’s relatives I would love to eat dinner with:

  • Henry Bass – why can’t I find you between 1942 and the mention of you in Robert Bass’ obituary in 1979. Why did you leave North Carolina and apparently never return? What drove you away?
  • Robert Bass – why did you never have any contact with your daughter again after your annulment in 1946?
  • To all those Irish ancestors why did you name your children all the same names?
  • To Neils and Bergetti Osborne why can’t I find you on a passenger list coming to NY?

But the person I would love to have dinner with the most is my Grandpa. Earl Elmer Witherwax. I would ask for him to tell me all the stories and family history, he had shared with me and I would take notes. He was a master story teller and not a day goes by that I don’t miss you and Grandma. So that is who I would like to eat dinner with.



Meet Earl and Frances (Stewart) Witherwax, my maternal grandparents and the reason I started this family history journey.


Chiara DellaVecchia Osborne, Frances and Earl Witherwax on her wedding day. April 5, 1997.

My Grandma was my initiation into our family history, though Grandpa took us everywhere. I think he did it to humor Grandma at first, though he was fabulous at throwing out comments like “I knew we were German.”; when you finally realized the origins of the name Witherwax and it wasn’t English like everyone thought.

These two meant the world to our family and were the heart of the family. They are missed every day. It is because of them I am about to embark on a new journey. The journey into professional genealogy.

I am obsessed with finding out about family history, whether it is my family or into discovering the roots of my husband’s supposedly new to American ancestors. We have debunked that theory though we are still diving down that rabbit hole.

Once upon a time I fancied myself Nancy Drew, now I prefer bringing ancestors to life and finding out their stories, they all have a story. We all come from somewhere and our families wants their story told and to not be forgotten

I look forward to sharing this journey with you all.