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The Daily Genealogist Note from the Editor: Hands-on Genealogy

(A Note from the Editor) Permanent link
 
Lynn Betlock

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Last weekend, I went shopping at a rummage sale sponsored by the Miles Memorial Hospital League in Damariscotta, Maine. My husband and kids and I found all kinds of treasures — books and a glass bowl and a doormat, to name a few items — and I happily paid for everything and headed to the car. My husband followed a few minutes later with a dusty old wooden trunk. I suppose he knew better than to get my opinion before he paid for it; I would have said no. Instead, I asked what he was going to do with it. He said he planned to "put stuff in it."

I didn’t have much more to say about the trunk until after we got home and he cleaned it. He came to report that there was a name on the trunk. Well, that got me interested. He couldn’t read the writing in the lid but I had no trouble deciphering “Rev. A. Zeller, 1518 Huey St, McKeesport, Pa.” Then I was off and typing.

Using Google, I soon had a reference to the Rev. Albert Zeller of McKeesport in an online edition of Genealogical and Personal History of Western Pennsylvania (1915). Rev. Zeller, a German Evangelical minister, was born in Württemberg, and immigrated in 1855 to become a missionary to German settlers in western Missouri. Later, over the course of his 53-year career, he served in Cleveland, Buffalo, and Rochester — also “filling many pulpits by invitation.” I wondered if he used the trunk as he traveled to his various speaking engagements. I continued to look for more information and, on Ancestry.com, I even found a submitted ancestral chart and group sheet of the family — and a photograph of Rev. Zeller! (This information is accessible only to Ancestry.com subscribers.)

Next, I tried to identify Rev. Zeller in each federal census year but found no connection to McKeesport or any part of Pennsylvania. I returned to the Western Pennsylvania history and wondered if I was off by a generation. Rev. Albert Zeller’s son, also named Albert Zeller, was born in Centerville, Illinois, in 1866. In 1893, he arrived in McKeesport, where he set up a medical practice, married Harriet Trimble, and had three children. “The family residence is at 1518 Huey St., where Dr. Zeller erected a fine brick house in 1909.”

The trunk, though, clearly states “Rev.” A. Zeller — not “Dr.” My only theory is that Rev. Zeller may have visited his son in McKeesport — or perhaps even lived with him for a time — and labeled the trunk accordingly. And how did the trunk end up at the rummage sale in Mid-coast Maine? Perhaps a descendant of Rev. Zeller brought it north. I don’t suppose I’ll ever know anything further, although I’m sure the trunk’s journey would make a fascinating story if it could be told. Learning about Rev. Zeller has caused the trunk to acquire a lot more interest for me. I’ll make sure my husband puts some extra good "stuff" in it.


The Daily Genealogist: Family's ancestors declared free

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

On Good Friday, April 6, 2012, Wayne County, W.Va., Circuit Court Judge Darrell Pratt "issued a decree recognizing that Harrison Polley and three siblings had been freed in the mid-nineteenth century."

The Daily Genealogist: Turn Your Life into an Infinite, Living Memoir

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

This article offers useful guidelines for writing up your own life story.

The Daily Genealogist: War of 1812: Blood Ties

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

DNA testing on blood on a “War of 1812 red militia coat — on permanent display at the Hamilton [Ontario] Military Museum — is going to be part of a fascinating DNA analysis to connect [Titus Geer] Simons to relatives living today.”

The Daily Genealogist Survey: Ancestral possessions

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Lynn Betlock

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Last week’s survey asked which English county record offices near London would be of the most interest to researchers. More than one answer could be selected. The results are:

40%, None of the above.
27%, Essex
22%, Kent
21%, Suffolk
18%, Devon
17%, Norfolk
16%, Somerset

This week's survey asks if you have returned or received an ancestral possession. Take the survey now!


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