Tombstone Tuesday – Edward Noble (1827 – 1872)

Posted on May 17, 2016 in Tombstone Tuesday
Edward Noble b. 1827 d. 1872, photo courtesy of RoadRunner at

Edward Noble b. 1827 d. 1872, photo courtesy of RoadRunner at

The photo is of the tombstone of my great-great-grandfather, Edward Noble. Edward and his family, including my great-grandfather Thomas, were found in the 1870 US Federal census. Edward and his wife Mary were born in Ireland; and all the children, prior to that last two, were born in England. Since Edward died prior to 1880, this is his only appearance in the census records.

The World War II Draft Registration of my grandfather, William J. Noble, stated that his father, Thomas Noble, was born in Durham County, England. With this clue, I was able to find Thomas with his parents in the 1861 UK census.

Edward was born about 1826/7 in Ireland. He immigrated to England, possibly during the famine. He and Mary Devine had a son, Thomas (my great-grandfather) in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in Nov 1851. He married Mary Devine in 1852 in Newbottle, Houghton-le-Spring, Durham, England.
They then had another son in Liverpool; relocated to Houghton-le-Spring, Durham, England; had three additional children; then migrated to the US around 1865. The entire family appears in the 1861 UK census in Houghton-le-Spring, Durham, England and the entire family, except for James who died in 1862 in England, appears in the 1870 US census in Locust Gap, Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania. Mary appears as a widow in the 1880 US census so I knew Edward died between 1870 and 1880.

Since then, I have been trying to find Edward in Ireland. Edward and his family were Roman Catholic not Church of Ireland. I found this tombstone on Find A Grave last July. What is really exciting about this tombstone is that is states where Edward was from in Ireland. Edward is buried in Saint Mary’s Cemetery, Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.

This is my latest transcription of this tombstone:
the memory of
a native of [Dun?????] Parish of
[Achill?] County Mayo Ireland
Departed this life May 10, 1872
in the 45th year of his age
May his soul rest in peace Amen
Erected by his wife Mary Noble

born May 2, 1867 [1869], died June 4, 1871

As you can see, I was able to transcribe every bit of the tombstone except the exact location of his home town/townland and parish. I even contacted another volunteer to try to obtain a better photo but this photo turned out to be the best.

The person who took this photo and entered the memorial into Find A Grave believes that it says “a native of Dooniver Parish of Achill”. I seem to see more letters then that in each place name which creates my difficulty with my transcription.

Achill is the only parish starting with an A and ending in double-L in Mayo; also the only parish ending with a double-L in Mayo period. There are no parishes ending in “th” in Mayo; in case this is not a “ll” but rather a “th”. See “this life”.

Any help with this transcription is welcome. Although County Mayo is more than I had before, I am really anxious to find the actual location within County Mayo. If you feel you can help, please leave a comment and I will contact you by email with a copy of the photo, allowing it to be enlarged. Maybe some cousins out there know this information.


Posted in Tombstone Tuesday | 2 Comments

Society Saturday – Practical Use of the Mighty FAN Club: Case Study of a Shadowy Female

Posted on May 14, 2016 in Society Saturday

ccgslogocolorvsmallThe Carroll County Genealogical Society’s upcoming meeting on Monday, May 16, 2016 at 7:30 PM features Sharon Cook MacInnes. A dedicated genealogist since 1976–long before the internet revolution–Sharon Cook MacInnes, Ph.D., gradually uncovered her ancestry and discovered through on-site research that she has deep American roots and a passion for family history.

Sharon is an alumna of National Institute of Genealogical Research (NIGR), the advanced methodology course at Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), and three sessions at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) for which she now teaches.  She specializes in Pennsylvania research, methodology, and federal land records and has written books documenting the earliest landowners of Pennsylvania in seven counties and western PA. She maintains the website at on which she posts 19th-Century Pennsylvania landowner maps and atlases as a service for researchers.

Sharon will be presenting Practical Use of the Mighty FAN Club: Case Study of a Shadowy Female. Have you followed an ancestor as far back as you can through the records until you hit the proverbial brick wall? You probably know that the only way to make any more progress is through studying the FAN Club (Friends, Associates, Neighbors). What does that actually look like in practice?

This case revolves around a woman in the shadows whose married name was even disputed and whose maiden name seemed hopelessly obscure. Using the few records left by her and her FAN Club as she settled in three states, we track her movements, uncover something of her character and life, and discover her birth family. Hints and indirect evidence are gleaned from her will, a manuscript, land and tax records, a county history, maps, and military records. Along the way, we learn the identity and origin of her husband. Techniques in this presentation should encourage participants to think more creatively about breaching that brick wall.

Meetings of the Carroll County Genealogical Society (CCGS) are held the third Monday of each month, March through May and September through November, at 7:30 p.m. in the Dixon Room, Westminster Library at 50 East Main Street, Westminster. Refreshments are available at 7:00 p.m. and the meetings are free and open to the public.  An annual dinner is held each June and a holiday party each December.  These are for members and their guests, with reservations made in advance.

Please come to our meeting and bring a friend. You will meet other folks interested in family research and genealogy and enjoy delightful talks that may help you in your own research.  I look forward to seeing new faces!

You can also come early and take advantage of our large collection of books and other materials housed at the Westminster Branch of the CCPL.  On Thursday afternoons, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., one or more society volunteers will be on hand to assist researchers. Of course, this collection is available to all anytime the library is open.

Volunteers from the society will be staffing an exhibit on May 21, 2016 at the Celebrating America Weekend event, which is being held at Emerald Hill, 1838 Emerald Hill Lane, Westminster, MD 21157. Bring the family and stop by to say “Hello”.

CCGS Genealogical Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo copyright by Eileen Souza

CCGS Genealogical Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo copyright by Eileen Souza



Posted in Society Saturday | Leave a comment

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) – My Favorite Photo of My Mother

Posted on May 7, 2016 in Family Memories, Saturday Night Fun

Randy Seaver of GeneaMusings has given us this Saturday Night Genealogy Fun assignment.

1) This is Mother’s Day weekend, so please go through the photographs you have of your mother and share one of your favorite photograph of her. Just one. Oh, tell us why it’s one of your favorites, and tell us something about your mother, too.

Here’s mine:

Mickey Furlani corr sm

This photo has a story. My mother, Marguerite Noble Furlani, died in 1985 of emphysema. While cleaning out her belongings I found this photo, which I had never seen before. I asked my Dad about it. He told me she was 23 when this was taken. Since they were married in 26 July 1941 and she would have been 23 on her birthday of 21 May 21 1941, I suspect this may have been a birthday photo.

I asked my Dad about the color of her dress and secretly took the photo to an expert in coloring photos. He hand-colored this photo beautifully. I had it framed and gave it to my Dad for Christmas 1985. He opened it and cried. This is the first time I ever saw my Dad cry.

When my Dad died in 1989, I took the photo, in its frame home with me, and it has the place of honor in my living room.

My mother was born 21 May 1918 in Ranshaw, Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. She married William C. Furlani, my Dad, on 26 July 1941 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, since that is where her parents currently lived. The newspaper said they honeymooned in Wildwood, New Jersey but she always told me it was Atlantic City, New Jersey.

I think my mother, who was known as Mickey, would be very pleased if I would honor her for her most loved activity—10 pin bowling. I found 143 articles in the Chester/Delaware County Times about my mother. They almost all featured her bowling wins.

She was about 38 years old the first time she went bowling in 1956. She joined a team in a league. That year she entered the Chester City tournament and won! She was a natural. Over her entire bowling career, her average was never under 200. She probably could have gone pro but, in those days, women stayed at home with their families. She bowled until she could no longer perform due to the illness that would eventually kill her.

One of my favorite stories is of the famous left-handed bowler Earl Anthony, who visited our area. Somehow or another, he and my mother met and he was so impressed with her skills that he gave her some pointers to improve her game. I remember her telling me that he laid in the alley and had her practice rolling the ball down the alley without hitting him.

My mother was a wonderful active woman. She knew everyone in town. We lived in Essington, Tinicum Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. I loved to go with her as she ran errands and visited folks around town. I remember that her friends called her Gas-Ass Mickey because she was always on the move.

Happy Mother Day, Mom!

Posted in Family Memories, Saturday Night Fun | 1 Comment

Family Recipe Friday – Eileen’s Corn Fritters

Posted on April 29, 2016 in Family Recipes

My mother taught me to make these corn fritters. They are good for breakfast with maple syrup and eggs but even better for dinner. I grew up making them almost every Friday. Fridays were always meatless back in those days and corn fritters went well with vegetarian baked beans.

When I was a kid, I used to love to dip the corn fritters into the baked beans (Okay, I confess—I still do). Corn fritters make a great summer side dish for any grilled meat. They also pair well with baked beans and fried chicken for an easy dinner.

This recipe makes around 8 fritters, depending upon their size.

Eileen’s Corn Fritters

corn fritters 1


Amount        Measure              Ingredient

1                 whole                      egg

1 1/3          cups                        flour

1 1/2         teaspoons               baking powder

1                teaspoons               salt

1               17 oz. can                creamed corn

Crisco or other solid shortening


Mix all ingredients except shortening in a bowl. In a large size frying pan put enough Crisco to fry fritters (about 3/4 inches to start). Fritters should float; if they don’t, you need to add more shortening.  I always used a large electric frying pan with deep sides.

Use a tablespoon to measure fritters into frying pan just like you were spooning out pancake batter. Remove the batch of fritters after browning and drain on paper towel. You may need to add more shortening before frying the next batch.


Posted in Family Recipes | Leave a comment

Maryland City Directories Online (Tuesday’s Tip)

Posted on April 12, 2016 in Maryland Research Tips, Tuesday's Tips

The Archives of Maryland Online (AOMOL) currently provides access to over 471,000 historical documents that form the constitutional, legal, legislative, judicial, and administrative basis of Maryland’s government. Online access enables users to research such topics as constitutional records, city directories, land records, military records and many early state records. If you are prompted for a user name and password, in most instances, the user name/password of aaco/aaco# will work, but instructions should be provided as to how to register your own.

Matchett’s Baltimore Director 1827, vol. 491, page 3, Archives of Maryland Online

Matchett’s Baltimore Directory 1827, vol. 491, page 3, Archives of Maryland Online

One of the state records collections that I would like to discuss today is City Directories. This collection contains digital images of the various microfilmed pages of these directories, but it also includes a transcription of each page so this collection is searchable.

The collection includes city directories from Annapolis (1910 and 1924), Baltimore City (1827 – 1856 but not all years) and the first African-American city directories for Baltimore (1913 – 1946).

The page also includes a useful link to Baltimore City directories (1800 – 1850, 1850 – 1890, 1900 – 1950) that are available online through the University of Maryland.  The link provided by AOMOL takes you to the University of Maryland Special Collections and University Archives home page. This link takes you directly to the digital Baltimore City directories.

The city directories at the University of Maryland are digital images only and cannot be searched for specific data, such as surname. You must view them page by page as if you were looking at the original book. One advantage here is that the each of the books are in alphabetical order by surname or business name.

The University of Maryland has many other useful digital collections. Additional sources for Maryland City Directories can be found at Maryland Directories at

Posted in Maryland Research Tips, Tuesday's Tips | Leave a comment

Maryland Early State Newspapers Online

Posted on April 7, 2016 in Genealogy Databases, Maryland Research Tips

The Archives of Maryland Online (AOMOL) currently provides access to over 471,000 historical documents that form the constitutional, legal, legislative, judicial, and administrative basis of Maryland’s government. Online access enables users to research such topics as constitutional records, city directories, land records, military records and many early state records. If you are prompted for a user name and password, in most instances, the user name/password of aaco/aaco# will work, but instructions should be provided as to how to register your own.

A page from the database Ellicott City Times September 7, 1870 - December 27, 1879

A page from the database Ellicott City Times September 7, 1870 – December 27, 1879

One of the early state records collections that I would like to discuss today is Newspapers. This collection contains digital images of the various microfilmed pages of these newspapers and the collection is browseable. Below you will find a complete list of the early Maryland newspapers available at AOMOL. Please be aware that these were very old newspapers and many were already damaged prior to microfilming. This is an ongoing project at the Archives.

American and Commercial Daily Advertiser
M890 – September 4, 1802 – December 31, 1804.
M891 – January 1, 1805 – June 29, 1805.
M892 – July 1, 1805 – December 31, 1805.
M893 – January 1, 1806 – June 30, 1806.
M894 – July 1, 1806 – December 31, 1806.
M895 – January 1, 1807 – June 30, 1807.
M896 – July 1, 1807 – December 31, 1807.

Baltimore Clipper
M8521 – March 3, 1847 – December 31, 1863.
M8522 – January 1, 1864 – December 31, 1864.
M8523 – January 2, 1865 – September 30, 1865.

Baltimore Whig
M8495 – July 2, 1810 – December 31, 1810.

Cambridge Chronicle
M1073 – December 25, 1830 – June 13, 1947.
M8778 – January 3, 1846 – December 30, 1857.

Cecil Whig
M7443 – August 20, 1870 – August 1, 1874.

Centreville Observer
M7951 – June 27, 1871 – October 5, 1918.

Easton Gazette
M11033 – May 27, 1854 – December 14, 1861.
M11034 – January 4, 1862 – December 2, 1865.
M11035 – January 27, 1866 – November 11, 1871.

Ellicott City Times
M7985 – September 7, 1870 – December 27, 1879.
M7986 – January 2, 1892 – December 30, 1893.
M7987 – January 6, 1894 – December 25, 1895.
M7988 – January 1, 1898 – December 30, 1899.

Kent County News
M5091 – January 6, 1965 – June 30, 1965.

Maryland Gazette
Maryland Gazette 1728-1839

Maryland Journal
M1931 – January 5, 1889 – December 28, 1889.

Maryland News Sheet
M5153 – September 24, 1861 – December 31, 1861.
M5154 – January 1, 1862 – March 31, 1862.
M5155 – April 1, 1862 – June 30, 1862.
M5156 – July 1, 1862 – August 14, 1862.

Maryland Republican
M2957 – June 17, 1809 – December 30, 1809.

Montgomery County Sentinel
M476 – January 1, 1860 – December 27, 1872.

Queenstown News
M2622 – January 7, 1888 – July 11, 1903.

Republican Star, or, Eastern Shore General Advertiser
M2800 – September 7, 1802 – December 27, 1803.

M10521 – April 22, 1861 – February 17, 1862.


Posted in Genealogy Databases, Maryland Research Tips | 1 Comment

Genealogy Mysteries 2016

Posted on March 30, 2016 in Genealogy Mysteries

Genealogy Mysteries sm txt

In 2012, I published my first post, which was titled Genealogy Mysteries. It provided a summary of the genealogy mysteries I discovered at that time. In 2014, I published Genealogy Mysteries – Expanded and in 2015, I published Genealogy Mysteries – Expanded and Updated and More Genealogy Mysteries.

Since then, I have been accumulating and reading new books, authors, and series in this sub-genre. It seems this sub-genre is really taking off. For those of you who also enjoy genealogy and reading mysteries, in no particular order, this is my comprehensive list of all genealogy mysteries that I have discovered to date.

2016 Hot News

Kindred by Steve Robinson smOn April 12, Steve Robinson will be releasing his latest Jefferson Tayte mystery, Kindred. This series features an American professional genealogist, who seems to do most of his work in the UK.  To me, this series most closely emulates many of our real life dilemmas in the field of genealogy. In Kindred, Jefferson Tayte follows clues to his own family history in Munich, unlocking dangerous secrets from WWII.

During 2016, we can also look forward to Dead End Street a new Nell Pratt Museum Mystery by Sheila Connolly scheduled for a June 7, 2016 release. Brynn Bonner’s genealogist sleuth, Soph McClure and her partner, Esme Sabatier, will be back in Dead in a Flash on August 30, 2016.

Series Family History Mysteries

The Nick Herald series by Jimmy Fox features a professional genealogist in New Orleans, Louisiana. Recommended.

  • Deadly Pedigree (2001) – Kindle
  • Lineages and Lies (2002) – Kindle
  • Jackpot Blood (2014) – Kindle

The Danny O’Flaherty series by Jonathan Harrington stars an American teacher researching his family’s roots in Ireland and New York City.

  • The Death of Cousin Rose (1996) – Paperback
  • The Second Sorrowful Mystery (1999) – Paperback
  • A Great Day for Dying (2001) – Paperback

The Lottie Albright series by Charlotte Hinger features a historian and editor for the county historical society in a small town in Western Kansas.

  • Deadly Descent (2009) – Kindle
  • Lethal Lineage (2011) – Kindle
  • Hidden Heritage (2013) – Kindle

The Demary Jones series by E. L. Larkin (deceased) is set in Seattle, Washington, with Demary as the owner of Confidential Research, specializing in genealogy and historical research.

  • Hear My Cry (1997) – Hardcover
  • Hear Me Die (1998) – Hardcover
  • Die and Die (1998) – Paperback
  • Dead Men Die (1999) – Hardcover
  • The Swallow Murders (1999) – Hardcover
  • Die in Texas (2002) – Hardcover

Victory (Torie) O’Shea, a genealogist in New Kassel, Missouri, is ably portrayed in a series by Rett MacPherson. Now all available in Kindle editions.

  • Family Skeletons (2014) – Kindle
  • A Veiled Antiquity (2013) – Kindle
  • A Comedy of Heirs (2014) – Kindle
  • A Misty Mourning (2000) – Kindle
  • Killing Cousins (2002) – Kindle
  • Blood Relations (2014) – Kindle
  • In Sheep’s Clothing (2014) – Kindle
  • Thicker Than Water (2005) – Kindle
  • Dead Man Running (2006) – Kindle
  • Died in the Wool (2014) – Kindle
  • The Blood Ballad (2014) – Kindle

Natasha Blake, a genealogist in the Cotswolds in England appears in the series by Fiona Mountain.

  • Pale as the Dead (2004) – Kindle
  • Bloodline (2015) – Kindle

Fay Sampson is the author of the Suzie Fewings books a series about a genealogist discovering interesting secrets in her family history in England.

  • In the Blood (2009) – Paperback
  • A Malignant House (2010) – Paperback
  • Those in Peril (2010) – Paperback
  • Father Unknown (2011) – Kindle
  • The Overlooker (2012) – Kindle
  • Beneath the Soil (2014) – Kindle

The Family Tree mysteries by Patricia Sprinkle feature Katherine Murray as an amateur genealogist who finds strange events in the past.

  • Death on the Family Tree (2007) – Kindle
  • Sins of the Fathers (2007) – Paperback
  • Daughter of Deceit (2008) – Kindle

Mort Sinclair, a respected genealogist and lawyer on Fogge Island off the New England coast, stars in a series by Gene Stratton.  Gene Stratton, a much-traveled former CIA case officer, is a well-known genealogist who has had two prior books published: Plymouth Colony and Applied Genealogy.

  • Killing Cousins (1999) – Hardcover
  • Cornish Conundrum (2000) – Kindle

The Nigel Barnes series by Dan Waddell concerns a professional genealogist who assists the police, mainly Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster in London, England.

  • The Blood Detective (2008) – Hardcover
  • Blood Atonement (2009) – Hardcover

The Jefferson Tayte mysteries by Steve Robinson feature a professional genealogist who ferrets out family secrets and old mysteries using genealogy research primarily in the UK.  This series is a page-turner and keeps getting better and better. Highly recommended.

  • In the Blood (2011) – Kindle
  • To the Grave (2012) – Kindle
  • The Last Queen of England (2012) – Kindle
  • The Lost Empress (2014) – Kindle
  • Kindred (2016) – Kindle

Patrick Day’s new series starring Anna Fitzgerald, a career detective with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Division, who becomes entangled with genealogy to trace old coins in this first book of the series.

  • Murders and Genealogy in Hennepin County (2012) – Kindle

Simon Shaw, professor of history and “forensic historian” in Raleigh, North Carolina, in a series by Sarah R. Shaber, uses his expertise in historical and genealogical research to help solve murders that have their roots in the past.

  • Simon Said (1997) – Kindle
  • Snipe Hunt (2000) – Kindle
  • The Fugitive King (2002) – Kindle
  • The Bug Funeral (2004) – Kindle
  • Shell Game (2007) – Kindle

The Alex & Briggie mysteries by G. G. Vandagriff, team up a spunky young widow and her rifle-toting grandmother, who run a genealogy research business called RootSearch, Inc. that seems to specialize in solving murders.

  • Cankered Roots (2011) – Kindle
  • Of Deadly Descent (2011) – Kindle
  • Tangled Roots (2011) – Kindle
  • Poisoned Pedigree (2012) – Kindle
  • The Hidden Branch (2011) – Kindle

In the Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist series by Nathan Dylan Goodwin, we discover a stubborn, determined man who uses whatever means necessary to uncover the past.  Great new series.  Highly recommended.

  • Hiding the Past (2013) – Kindle
  • The Lost Ancestor (2014) – Kindle
  • The Orange Lilies: A Morton Farrier novella (2014) – Kindle
  • The America Ground (2015) – Kindle

These books by John Nixon star family historian, Madeleine Porter.  While not mysteries as we think of them, they all take us through the experiences of our amateur “detectives” unraveling the “mysteries” that surround them.

  • Family Shadows (2014) – Kindle
  • The Cuckoo Clock (2014) – Kindle
  • Stolen Futures (2014) – Kindle
  • Another Summer (2014) – Kindle
  • The Cost of Silence (2015) – Kindle

The Museum Mysteries by Sheila Connolly star Nell Pratt, president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society (think Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia) who spends much of her time solving murders through research in their collections. These books are fascinating for their mysteries, their history, and our glimpses into the lives of the archivists. Highly recommended.

  • Fundraising the Dead (2010) – Kindle
  • Let’s Play Dead (2011) – Kindle
  • Fire Engine Dead (2012) – Kindle
  • Monument to the Dead (2013) – Kindle
  • Razing the Dead (2014) – Kindle
  • Privy to the Dead (2015) – Kindle
  • Dead End Street (2016) – Kindle

In the Family History Mysteries by Brynn Bonner, genealogist Sophreena McClure is an expert at unearthing other people’s secrets. Using old documents and photographs, Soph and her business partner, Esme Sabatier—also a gifted medium—trace family histories and create heritage scrapbooks.

  • Paging the Dead (2013) – Kindle
  • Death in Reel Time (2014) – Kindle
  • Picture Them Dead (2015) – Kindle
  • Dead in a Flash (2016) – Kindle

Geraldine Wall writes about probate researcher Anna Ames in this trilogy. These are mystery thrillers and we are drawn in to Anna’s family, life and work.

  • File Under Fear (2014) – Kindle
  • File Under Family (2014) – Kindle
  • File Under Fidelity (2015) – Kindle

This is the first book in a supernatural genealogy detective series called Maze Investigations by M.K. Jones featuring Maggie Gilbert, set in Newport, South Wales, drawing on real historical details.

  • Three Times Removed (2015) – Kindle

If you like your genealogy mysteries with a little humor, see the series starring Ben Bones, Genealogical Consultant and self-described Articulator of Family Skeletons written by Michael Havelin.

  • Ben Bones and The Galleon of Gold (2013) – Kindle
  • Ben Bones and the Search for Paneta’s Crown (2012) – Kindle
  • Ben Bones and the Deadly Descendants (2013) – Kindle
  • Ben Bones and the Conventional Murders (2015) – Kindle

Esme Quentin solves mysteries using genealogy in the West Midlands and in Devon in the books by Wendy Percival

  • Blood-Tied (2013) – Kindle
  • The Indelible Stain (2014) – Kindle

Non-Series Family History Mysteries

Thomas McKerley and Ingrid Schippers, in their first genealogy mystery, Bloodlines – Touch Not the Cat (2012), introduce Cathy Macpherson, who uncovers her own and her husband’s past.  Hope this becomes a series. Kindle edition.

The Marriage Certificate by Stephen Molineux (2013) stars Peter Sefton, amateur family historian. Not quite a mystery but certainly a detective story. Kindle edition.

In Silent Legacy: Discovering Family Secrets by Diana Church (2014) some German immigration history with new finds from a research trip helps Ellen O’Donnell solve a long-standing family mystery. Kindle edition.

In Finding Eliza by Stephanie Pitcher Fishman (2014), an old diary leads Lizzie Clydell down a dusty road of lies, hidden family secrets, and a lynching that nearly destroyed her family. I loved the quote “It’s just a little family history. What could go wrong?” Kindle edition.

Where’s Merrill? a genealogical thriller by Gearoid O’Neary (2013) is based upon real life historical events. The story unravels as Irish genealogist, Jed, researches his client’s mysterious maternal ancestry. Kindle edition.

Benjamin’s Ghosts: An Enid Gilchrist Mystery by Sylvia A. Nash (2014) is a cozy genealogy murder mystery set in West Tennessee. This is the start of a promising series. I hope we hear more from this author. Kindle edition.

In the Tainted Tree by Jacquelynn Luben (2013), Addie Russell inherits a house in Surrey and begins researching her English family Her research takes her back three generations to the First World War.

A century-old key may unlock the ancestral secrets of four families in The Fourth Descendant by Allison Maruska (2015).

While not a series, these genealogical mysteries by Norma Elizabeth Rawlings focus on how researching their ancestors became a life changing experience for each central character.

  • Sleeping Dogs (2012) – Kindle
  • Sleeping Dogs II (2013) – Kindle
  • Malvern Murders (2013) – Kindle
  • In the Genes (2013) – Kindle

Package from The Past by Jacqueline Opresnik is a search for a missing heir and family fortune set against the historical events of the Boer War and World War II.

Of course, for non-fiction fans there is Only A Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath by John Philip Colletta.  This is an outstanding read.

All of the books mentioned here are available in the editions specified and can be found at Many of the Kindle editions are also available in paperback and/or hardcover.

If I’ve missed any of your favorites, please let me know in the comments. I am trying to make this list as complete as possible.


Posted in Genealogy Mysteries | Leave a comment

M. Thomas, Photographer of Thomas Edison’s Favorite Photo

Posted on March 23, 2016 in Family Photos

Last year I participated in the course “Family Photographs: Identifying, Preserving, and Sharing Your Visual Heritage” with instructor Maureen Taylor. The course is part of the great offerings of the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (VIGR).

One of the topics discussed was the photographer’s mark or logo on the photo. I searched my entire photo collection and only found two photos that included photographer information. One was American Art Studio, H. E. Weikel, Mt. Carmel, Pa. and the other was M. Thomas, Shamokin, Pa. For the moving story of H. E. Weikel, please see may earlier post The Tragic Life of Henry E. Weikel, Mt. Carmel Photographer.

According to both Find A Grave and a 2004 Shamokin News-Item article by Mark Gilger, Myron Thomas was born 7 August 1851, the son of Amos Thomas and Hannah Williams. The family lived in Shamokin, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. He appears with his family in the 1860 US census incorrectly enumerated as Mira a 9-year-old female.

Myron Thomas was self-taught and worked at mastering the new method of making a photographic image by chemistry. He established his first studio in 1876 on the south side of Sunbury Street between Shamokin and Franklin streets. After two years on Sunbury Street, Myron Thomas moved his studio to its final location on Independence Street founding the Thomas Studio (1878 – 1998). Myron Thomas married Emma A. Dyer (1859 – 1954) 10 October 1878 and the couple celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1928.

M. Thomas established a chain of studios in Pennsylvania, including Mount Carmel, Ashland and Tamaqua. The Shamokin studio remained the principal center for processing photos. They specialized in aerial, commercial, publicity, copies, and framing. Newspaper articles indicate that Myron’s sister, Lillian, followed in her brother’s footsteps and also became a well-known photographer.

He retired in 1929, selling the business to two of his sons, Ralph and Paul Thomas, who continued to operate the studio at the same location. Myron Thomas died 17 January 1940, at the age of 89.

Thomas Edison - Thomas Studio

Thomas Edison – Thomas Studio

A letter dated 7 April 1898, from Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb, phonograph and many other contrivances, asked M. Thomas for a copy of the portrait that he described as one of the best ever taken and his favorite. Edison had a portrait taken at the studio in 1876 – 1877, by Myron Thomas, founder of the business. At the time, Edison, was living in Shamokin near Thomas’ studio.

While he was in the Shamokin area, Edison was responsible for providing electricity to St. Edward Church on North Shamokin Street, which was the first church building in America to have electrical lighting.

The photo below, taken by M. Thomas, has been dated to the 1880s. My great-grandfather Andrew Gunther (1858 – 1931) arrived in America in 1881. He married Eva Meisberger (1861 – 1941) on 11 February 1884 in Shamokin at St. Edwards Church. Eva was the daughter of my 2nd great-grandfather, Theobald Meisberger. Their family was one of the founding families of St. Edward’s church.

According to Maureen Taylor, the dress Eva is wearing is a work day dress, but these are poor coal mining families so this may be her best dress. My speculation is that this may be an 1884 wedding photo of the couple.

Andrew Gunther and Eva Meisberger photo by M. Thomas, Shamokin, Pa., ca. 1884. Original photo in possession of the author.

Andrew Gunther and Eva Meisberger photo by M. Thomas, Shamokin, Pa., ca. 1884. Original photo in possession of the author.



Posted in Family Photos | Leave a comment

Tech Tuesday: Make Google the Default Search Engine in Windows 10 Edge

Posted on March 15, 2016 in Genealogical Tips, Tech Tuesday

This post is not really genealogy, but the default search engine may be of interest to many genealogists who are heavily invested in using Google for genealogy searches on the Internet. Microsoft Windows 10 and its new browser, Edge, default to Bing as the search engine of choice both on your desktop and Edge. If you don’t care for Bing, here is how you can change it.

Microsoft 10 comes with a search icon, which is displayed on the taskbar. That search uses Bing as does Cortana. On my Windows 10 computers I have Cortana turned off. I find it annoying. I have not been able to find any way to set the desktop to use Google instead of Bing when searching using the search icon on the taskbar. I don’t really use this search. When I wish to search my disk drives I use File Explorer searches. You can hide the search icon by right clicking on the icon and selecting Hidden.

There is a way to make Google (or other search engines) the default search engine for Edge.

1. Open Edge and go to or the home page of the search engine of your choice

2. In the upper right corner of your browser, click (…) > Settings.

Settings drop-down in Edge

Settings drop-down in Edge

3. In the “Advanced settings” section, click View Advanced Settings.

4. Under “Search in address bar with,” click Change.

5. Click Google Search > Set as default.

NOTE: If you don’t see Google Search as an option when you click Change, try to perform a search on; then try the steps again starting with step 2.

I am now happily Googling my genealogy again.

Posted in Genealogical Tips, Tech Tuesday | Leave a comment

Tech Tuesday- Using Snagit to Attach Citations to Your Digital Images

Posted on March 8, 2016 in Tech Tuesday

There are many ways to attach a source citation to a digital image using various techniques and products. One of my favorite methods is to use a program called Snagit from TechSmith.

Open your image in Snagit Editor. As my example I am using an image of the 1930 US census that I downloaded from to my computer. Under the Image tab, set the Canvas Color to White. Select Resize then Resize Canvas. Resize the canvas by extending the height about 100 pixels under Dimensions. I changed my 1930 census image canvas height from 2209 to 2300. Under Image Placement, place the image at the top center. This will allow you to add your source citation at the bottom on the extended canvas (background).

Next scroll to the bottom of the entire image and you will see the additional canvas as a white space running across the bottom of your image. Under the Tools tab, select the Callout icon. This opens the Styles window. I usually use the style selected in the image below for adding my citations. Select the style you desire and type your source citation in the text box.

View of Snagit Styles with Abc (black text on transparent background) selected

View of Snagit Styles with Abc (black text on transparent background) selected

I usually save my file using Snagit File Format (SNAG). This allows me to modify it if needed. I then do Save As either JPG or PNG format. Once saved in a format that is not Snagit, the image can no longer be edited.

Here is my finished image complete with source citation.

Example: Thomas Noble 1930 U.S. census with citation

Example: Thomas Noble 1930 U.S. census with citation

How do you add citation text to your images?



Posted in Tech Tuesday | 2 Comments