Patj's Stories & Genealogy

Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Dorothy Cary Craig Evelyn Johnston -- Would Be Age 98 On January 29

Isn't she beautiful?  She is my Mom!  This picture was at a good time her life.  She was in her early fifties at this time. She was becoming quite involved in much of the community and becoming a very professional speaker and leader in many organizations.  I was so proud of her, but in hindsight I know I never expressed it to her.  It was a time when I was young and expected my parents would always be there. There was plenty of time to say those nice things.

It is just human nature to take our parents for granted, but I wish I hadn't.  But I know she knew me well enough to know how I felt without my saying it.  We were never an outwardly demonstrative type of family, but we knew we loved each other anyway.

She was my hero and of all of the wonderful people I have ever known she was the best.  I miss her so much, but as always time marches on indiscriminately.  I try to remember what it was like to know I could pick up the phone and call her anytime.  Of course, I have a great faith that she is nearby now, but I still would love to see her.

I can only say, "Thank you Mom, for giving me and David life."  Her beautiful attributes live on in all of her descendants.  That is the beauty of God's plan. I am the only living person that heard her heart beat from the inside. Without her, I wouldn't be here, and neither would so many other people. Busy as we are -- stop today for a moment and say "Thank you" to her.

So "Happy Birthday Mom. I love you."  Patty Ann

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Middle of January 2016 --- Already?

January 2016 started off with a bang on January 4.  For some reason I have inherited the starting program for each new year at the Fort Collins Civil War Roundtable.  At least the last four years have been that way. This year I presented a program entitled Lady Spies of the Civil War.                                                                                                  

Image result for Lady Spies

My main concern with this arrangement is the weather.  The first Monday in January can be very cold and may be deep with snow.  Not only do I dislike getting out in it, but so would the audience, but this year I lucked out and it was a bright, sunny day, with just a slight reminder of our White Christmas on the ground. The room was packed with about 60 people.  The program was well received and I enjoyed presenting it very much.  It was a good start to the new year.

Next up was January 11 in Loveland at a repeat presentation of Falling In Love WithYour Ancestors. This was at Mirasol Senior Community where I gave the program on December 12 to the group called the Mirasol Dudes. They liked it so much they asked if I would give it to the rest of the community. Of course, I never say "no" to an opportunity to talk about genealogy.                                                                      Image result for Falling In Love with your ancestors                     
It was a very small turnout, but I enjoyed it none the less.

The rest of January has been figuring out my new job as Vice President of the Larimer County Genelaogical Society.  I have also been finishing up two new Power Point presentations.  My new interest is the pre Civil War era in Kansas.  What an emotional, violent, radical time that was, best known as Bleeding Kansas.                                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                             Image result for bleeding kansas images 
It interests me because  I have ancestors living in Kansas before it became the 34th State in 1861. My paternal great grandmother's parents, Dennis and Margaret Pryor Meech were in Kansas on the 1860 Kansas Territorial Census.  They were witness to this chaotic and violent mayhem.

It looks like 2016 will be another fun and fast moving year.  I am ready for whatever it brings. Stayed tuned for further developements.    Patj

Friday, January 8, 2016

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ending 2015 -- Busy - Fun - Appreciated


2015 -- A very good year indeed.  It started off with worry and concern for both of my daughters. 2015 -- Ends up with me feeling good about them and the rest of the family as well.  I don't especially feel good about the rest of the world though.  We have recently been witness to two mass killings. One in Colorado and one in California.  Yes, we are witnesses as wonderful technology puts us right in the middle of these heart breaking events.
     So how are we to cope with these things?  Keep moving and don't let the natural fear we feel take over our lives.  We are not able to fix the things that cause them and we must go forward.  That is enough on my "state of the world address."
     For me, I have had a good November and December.  On November 19, I presented the program at the Larimer County Genealogical Society.  My topic was "Researching at".  It was a packed room and was well received.  Ken Goldsberry announced that I had accepted the nomination for the position of Vice President for the coming term.  The election will be January 21, 2016.
     On December 7th I attended the Civil War Roundtable.  Our speaker was Geoff Ryder and the topic was "Prison of War Camps".  It was very interesting.  Geoff asked me if I would help him set up my projector and computer to use for his program. Somehow I have become the technical expert for this group.  I am not sure how that happened, but I will do it -- at least until the bulb burns out on my projector.  Down deep I know that I enjoy people thinking I am good at something.  some deep seated leftover of childhood I suppose.  Too late to analyze it at this stage of life, just go with it and try not to dig too deep.  Another gentleman asked me today if I would help him at the April meeting. Of course, I said "Yes."
     On December 12th I will be presenting my last program for 2015.  This will be at Loveland at the Mirasol Senior Community.  It is a group of gentlemen that meet monthly and invited me to speak about genealogy.  I expect it will be a fun morning.  It will be a different technology as they use a TV screen rather than a projector. Hopefully, it will work with my program.
Image result for mirasol loveland co                    

     A few years ago I applied to move into Mirasol. That never happened. But I am happy in Oakbrook I. Not nearly this luxuorious, but safe and cozy and nice. I would have to buy all new clothes to live in a place like Mirasol (g).
     One more event for 2015 is the December Social at Friday's Council Tree Chapter, DAR. That will be December 15 and should be a fun evening.
     With that, 2015 will come to a close for me.  I do not do much celebrating on Christmas.  I have had a lot of practice at being alone on holidays and have come to accept that quite nicely.  It is nice to have a quiet Christmas and think about how blessed I have been for 81 years.  I know, you may know I am actually 80 1/2 years old, but I believe we are a person from the moment of conception, so I count those 9 months as well. Heavenly Father has blessed me all of this time (only a blink of an eye in the whole scheme of things) and I am so grateful.
     I wish you and yours the very best new year ever, and the same for me. Stay tuned,Patj


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Of Plimith Plantation" and My Ancestors Elizabeth Tilley and John Howland

     On November 24, 2015 I watched in total fascination the PBS program "The Pilgrims". This program is destined to be yet another of the captivating programs by Ken Burns. I first watched a program by Mr. Burns titled "The Civil War", and it captured my curiosty. I have not quit learning about the Civil War yet, so many years later.
     When I saw that "The Pilgrims" was scheduled, I jumped to the conclusion it would be the usual first Thanksgiving story with a lot of the familiar images we have seen all of our lives. What a wonderful surprise it was.  The story started in England, just as the Pilgrims did, then forced to flee England to Holland and eventually to The New World.  The distant and unknown New World.
     Thanks to this program I can see the story of my four Mayflower ancestors. John Tilley and his wife, Joan Hurst were among the 102 passengers of the Mayflower.  With them was their thirteen year old daughter, Elizabeth Tilley.  Elizabeth is my 11th Great Grandmother, making the elder Tilley's my 12th Great Grandparents.  Also on the Mayflower was a young man in  the household of John Carver named, John Howland. It is not known if he was related to the Carvers or simply an employee of Mr Carver. John Carver was the very first Governor of Plymouth Plantation.  Yes, William Bradford is the best known Governor of Plymouth Plantation, but he was the second Governor.
     The elder Tilleys died in that first horrible winter in New England. The program illustrated how terrible that first winter was that left only half of the 102 passengers alive, barely alive, but alive none the less.  Among those survivors are my ancestors, John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley.  I can now imagine more clearly the terrible experience these young people endured.  I can only imagine the heartache and fear Elizabeth felt as her parents died and left her alone in a strange and dangerous land.
     John and Elizabeth married about 1623/24. They both lived a long and full life full of further experiences that would do most of us in.  They had ten children, and they ALL lived to adulthood and had big families.  To have all ten children survive in that day is an amazing feat.  It is estimated that John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley have somewhere around 1,000,000 descendants.
     Elizabeth Tilley Howland was one of the last of the 102 Mayflower passengers to live.  She had seventy two grandchildren when she died.  She was a strong lady.  I am so proud to be her descendant, even if I am only one in a 1,000,000.
     The program on PBS, last evening captivated me and thanks to Ken Burns for showing the true story, or at least as close to the true story as possible.
     The main character in the program was William Bradford.  I learned the interesting story of his writing, "Of Plimith Plantation".  How it was lost to history for over 100 years and finally discovered in Europe in the 1850's. After much negotiating it was returned to its native soil around 1890, and is now housed in honor in the Capitol of Massachusetts.
     In closing, I want to say, I needed to hear a great survival story at this time in my life, and I certainly received it in this program.  This is the lure and the goal of genealogy.  Learning what stuff we are made of.  Little wonder we love it so much.  Patj

Thursday, November 19, 2015

John Collins (Married To Sarah Chapman) 1789-1841

I am ready to close out the year 2015. I do this early so I can get my Blog Book printed when "Blog 2 Print" has their sale prices, which expire later today! Of course, I keep writing but that will appear in next year's book.

I just want to share a couple of late developments.

First, I have been asked to take the office of Vice President of the Larimer County Genealogical Society for the year 2016.  It is a big job, primarily finding speakers for the general meetings of the society.  I can at least give it a shot.

The second thing is that I found an article that mentions something about John Collins (1789-1841). I have found no other mention of him other than that he married Sarah Chapman in 1809 in Portage County Ohio.  Sarah is my ancestor that leads me to the Mayflower ancestors I was so excited to find nine years ago. John Collins died in 1841 and his will states that my 3rd great grandmother, Sylvia Collins, is his daughter.  Little else is known about John Collins as he was fairly young when he died in 1841.

What the article states about John Collins is that he was born in, or about, Marietta, Ohio.  That is a far cry from where I was thinking he may have been born.  I figured since Portage County Ohio was part of the Connecticut Reserve he would be from Connecticut.  Marietta is the first settlement in Ohio and was very important in the land sales that were made by the Federal Government when Ohio was opened up for settlement.  It was the first Land Office established in Ohio. I have a picture of that Land Office and it is quite small condidering the importance of what transpired there.
       Ohio Land Company Office Marietta, Ohio
I can imagine the hundreds of back woodsmen and the wealthy land speculatiors stepping into that small building to get in on the possibilities of a new opportunity. Muddy boots, smoking cigars, backwoods jokes, and a definite air of enthusiasm and hope for the future.  If this building could talk our ears would probably be burning with the robust and rowdy nature of the men that went in to do land business.

And on that note I will end 2015.  I have new adventures ahead and clues to follow for John Collins. Only time will tell if I find a true answer to his beginings, but it is an exciting thing to look forward to.  It is definitely a "win win" situation because I will learn so many new things along the way.

Stay tuned for further developments.  Patj

Friday, November 13, 2015

Veteran's Day November 11, 2015

This year I was honored to be invited to present programs at The Worthington in Fort Collins and The Wexford in Loveland.

The programs were part of the Veteran's Day activities at these two Senior Communities. Both places were abuzz with activities for the residents for this special day. Of course, both places have many veterans living in their facility. My program is titled "America's Last Soldiers and Their Wars". It was well received at both places and I enjoyed sharing it. I especially enjoyed the conversation and sharing at the end of the programs from the attendees. The Worthington is the home of a special lady that is a WWII veteran and we all gave her a big round of applause. She was the only WWII veteran in attendance. Most were Korean War veterans.

The pictures below are the entrances to both facilities. Yes, they look amazingly alike. Both are part of the Columbine Health System. However, once inside the atmosphere and lobbies are distinctly different. Both are very nice and luxurious. But it is a funny thing, when I leave them I breath a big sigh of relief, and happily head for my humble little apartment at OakBrook I. I believe I told you that I have moved to a new apartment this past August.

Yes, life is good and I am so grateful to the people that sacrificed to maintain our freedom and keep our country the best in the World. Patj

The Wexford

The Worthington

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Done 27 October 2015 --- Berriman McLaughlin --- 1776-1850

Finally I have finished this book.  Started in 2013 and intended to be finished in 2014 it is almost one year overdue.  Due to many interruptions and events of the last two years it was shoved to the back burner many times.  The last and most time consuming challenge was entering the end notes and there are plenty of them. 

I can write like a wide open faucet, but entering the endnotes slows me down to a tiny drip of the faucet.  This book in particular had many sources as it covers what I know about Berriman, his wife Catharine, and their twelve children.  It was an experience in finding new information about people that lived so long ago.  For a genealogist it was the best of all fun.  We basically are private detectives at heart.  

I have proof read it so many times I know it all by heart.  Of course, this leads to streamlining and clarifying the text.  This evening I finally declared it finished.

The next step is to take it to InkWorks and get an estimate of the printing cost.  Then it will be shared with libraries in the various places that Berriman McLaughlin lived.  And of course, my two favorite places to donate, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana will get a copy.  My theory is to have a copy in many places in case my material gets destroyed in the future.  I figure libraries are bound to be around for a long time.

So this book will be shared from West Virginia to Ohio and to Illiniois.  It has been a companion for so long there is a bit of sadness to finishing it.  It is like saying good bye to a friend.   But I know it is good to be done and get it out there where maybe other descendants may find it and learn a few new things about these wonderful ancestors.

I can breathe a big sigh of relief and a feeling of a job well done.  Stay tuned for any further results of this book.  Maybe I will even learn some answers that I still have about the McLaughlins.  That is always our quest in this business. 



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My Year Of Learning --- 2015

Image result for teachers
Yes, it is only October and I am starting to wind down this incredible year.  As fast as it is going it will be over in the blink of an eye.  I updated my 2015 speaking schedule this evening to include the last part of 2015 and plug in last minute engagements.  I last did this in the middle of the year and it looked busy enough at that time.  

I have decided that the real reason I receive so many speaking requests is that I almost never say "no".  Hmmmm, there may be a message here.

Actually, I wouldn't have it any other way.  It is a way to learn new ways to speak and teach. Some I tried this year have taught me to not go there again (g).  At my class on October 3, in Loveland, someone asked me if I had been a teacher as a profession.  I said, "No."  I added that I developed this fun filled skill after the age of 75.  Yes, I know, Grandma Moses didn't start painting until age 80, but 75 is nothing to sneeze at in the "elderly world."  It goes with what I tell folks in the genealogy classes "Stay Curious".  I believe it is the secret to enjoying life.

With that little introduction -- here is my 2015 year in a nutshell:
Note that I set aside August and September for the fun task of moving.  That was accomplished, slowly, and I am pretty well settled in my new bachelorette apartment.  My wish for you is to have had a wonderful 2015 as well.  Of course, there will be more posts in this blog before December 31, so stay tuned. Patj

Friday, September 25, 2015

Six Years Later -- I Am Still Here

September 25, 2009.  At just after midnight John Edwin Johnson passed away at this place.  This is a picture from his room at the Blue Grouse Nursing Home (aka RNRC).  It was slightly raining as I drove to the home after getting the call at about 12:30 am.  A cool, crisp night, and quiet as it could ever be in Fort Collins, Colorado.  So many unknown things ahead, but for the moment it was clear what I had to do.  Go to say goodbye to my best friend.  The little nightlight I had taken to his room was the only light in the room and it looked as if he was peacefully sleeping.  It was hard to believe he was not there anymore, he looked so natural.

When I left about 8pm the night before we planned our activity for the next day.  We were going to figure out how to get him out of that place and decide where to go next.  So when I left he felt optimistic.  I told him I loved him and his last words to me were, "I love you too, and I always have." As I walked away, the words stayed on my mind.  They implied something very special.  To me it said that even before we met 26 years earlier he had loved me.  That is how I remember it and I am sticking to my story and the meaning of it.  Cohorts to the end.  Ready to tackle another tough case.

Many things have changed for me in these 6 years.  I have passed a big milestone in age.  I have moved two times.  I have been in a serious accident.  I have learned many new skills.  But always, in the back of my mind my favorite "cohort in crime" is beside me all the way.  I feel blessed to have that to count on.

I can't answer for what John has been doing in the last 6 years.  But knowing him as well as I do, I am sure it has been an adventure supreme.  Seeing family and friends --- and watching out for me as well.  So farewell once again to my best friend.  RILYA Patj

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bringing My Ancestors Home

In February I moved my ancestors to my storage unit for safe keeping until I knew where I would be living.  I knew I would be moving, but not sure where until summer.  Today I finally started bringing my genealogical binders home to my new apartment.  I didn't realize how much I missed them until I started unwrapping them and putting them on the shelves where they will live now.  I had wrapped them in plastic to protect them from dust and moisture and as I unwrapped them I easily got sidetracked by looking at the contents and reliving the experiences I had in finding this huge amount of information.

It was like running into old friends and having a lot of memories to share.  During all of the time they have been gone it never occurred to me that I missed them so much.  I guess the fact that I knew where they were and they would be brought back after I was settled seemed to hide the fact that I truly missed having them with me physically.

But today I realized I have to have them close by.  So this sort of answers my thinking about starting to get rid of these records.  I can't do it, it is a deep feeling I have for these people and I can not discard any part of them.  The new trend is to go paperless but I can not go paperless, and now I know why.  I need these binders, pages, charts, documents, and scraps of paper with me.  So in the end the storing them away for a few months was a good thing.  I now know I will keep them until the very end.  After that I won't have anything to say about it, but until then, I do.

So welcome home ancestors!  I missed you and will keep you near always and take care of you.   Patj

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On August 21 -- Happy Birthday # 83 To John E Johnson From Patj

Sort of an interesting fellow, wouldn't you say?  This picture was taken in late July, early August 1983.  The date is not exact, but it was shortly after I met John E Johnson.  This was after he decided he had to reveal his true self to me, as up until then, he had been acting like a "normal" person.  I have often thought it was a deep psychological way to protect his true self until he had a chance to know the other person first.  Then when it felt safe, just spring it on them and let the chips fall where they may.  But whatever the reason it certainly did get my attention.  I can still hear that loud roar as he came rumbling down the street in Berthoud Colorado, to see me that evening.  This was his beloved 1942 Harley Davidson "Knucklehead" and it had a sound like no other bike, ever.  It was his pride, his joy, and his best friend in a new place.  He had just recently transferred to Colorado from Montana.

An interesting fellow?  He was the most interesting fellow I had ever met.   This picture is when he was a young age of fifty one.  We were about to embark on a long and unique journey together.  A journey of twenty six years, and it covered so many experiences it is impossible to list them all.  But Harleys were a big part of most of that twenty six years.  This is when he felt the very best, riding his Harley.  

So today I wish him a happy eighty-third birthday.  He was my best friend, my husband, my person that kept me on the straight and narrow.  I imagine him riding free and easy on his Harley.  The wind in his face, smiling on the inside with that special feeling only found on a Harley.  Happy Birthday, John.  I am glad I got to know you.  RILYA, Patj 

Monday, August 17, 2015

I Helped Fuel the Find -- August 13-17 2015

            Even though I was in the midst of moving to a new apartment, I did quite a bit toward our goal from  I have participated in every other indexng event and couldn't let this one get by just because I was moving.  The results were outstanding. 82,139 indexers participated world wide.  The end result --- 12,251,870 records were indexed and 2,307,876 records were arbitarted. These are records from every part of the world in many  different languages.  They are now ready to be published to the world for researchers to find.  There is definitely truth in the old saying. "It is good to be part of something outside and bigger than yourself."

As far as the move? It is almost complete as we speak.  Lots to do with putting stuff away etc, but it is definitely on the downhill slide now.  I am happy in my new apartment.  Another good feeling. Sooooo I am feeling pretty good this Monday night, August 17, 2015.  Patj

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Big Thompson Canyon 39 Years Later & Estes Park Genealogical Society

On August 1, 2015 I had the honor of speaking at the all day Estes Park Genealogical Seminar. It was a beautiful drive to Estes Park via the Big Thompson Canyon. However I was reminded of this very

day 39 years ago. On July 31, 1976 all hell broke loose and this canyon was a living hell as it roared with the wild power of the Big Thompson River.  Today it was a very pretty, lazy, calm river, but I wasn't fooled by that idlyllic scene.  I remember well the horrific pictures in the newspapers and on the news.  The final toll was 144 people dead. Some were never identified.  This happened when the canyon was alive with tourists and campers and some were never reported missing so were not identified.  Laurie and I had driven to Estes Park the previous Sunday as a nice outing.  But it was raining that Sunday as well, and that was the problem, the soil was so saturated that by the following weekend, and a solid day of a rain that didn't move out, the river just couldn't be contained any longer and away it went.  I was working at AMF Head Ski in Boulder and one of the men in our department called me that Sunday night and said he was not coming in the next day as he was heading up the canyon as a first responder.  God bless the ones that rush to the rescue at these terrible times.
Laurie and I drove to Loveland but could get no further than the mouth of the canyon where the river fans out as it has more room to do so. It looked like this at the bottom of the canyon:

But today, 39 years later, it was a happier day, by far.  I had an enjoyable day talking genealogy and meeting the nicest people.  Around noon my friend Carol S arrived to do the afternoon classes.  Mary S had orderd pizza for our lunch and we enjoyed visiting and of course, talking genealogy.  The seminar was over about 3:15 and we all started for home.  Estes Park was so busy I had a hard time getting on the highway to head home.  The drive down the canyon was wonderful and seemed shorter than the trip driving up was.  All in all, it was a wonderful day.  Thank you Estes Park.   Patj

The Weekend Genealogist: Delving into Family History
Registration: 8:45- 9:15

9:15- 12:15 PAT JOHNSON: Beginning Genealogy

A 3 hour presentation that covers finding primary and secondary sources; Recording those results; Where to learn more;
Various Internet websites Using genealogy software; and much more.

12:15- 1:00 Lunch Break: Participants are welcome to bring a lunch or, go out for lunch.

1:15- 2:45 CAROL STETSER: 1) Cemetery Research for Beginners 2) More on Internet Databases

2:45-3:15 Questions and Wrap up

Friday, July 24, 2015

Went To Oklahoma -- The Show That Is

July 12, 2015 I attended the Mid Town Dinner Theater with my friend Cathy.  What a pleasure it was to see live performers dancing, singing, and acting.  I am amazed at the talent in Fort Collins.  These folks are so energetic and full of life, and it is very contagious.

While on my trip Cathy emailed me that she could get the last tickets for the matinee on July 12.  I knew I would definitely be back by then so I could go.

We met at the theatre and were escorted to our table. We ordered our meal and enjoyed visiting until time for the show to start.

Then the curtain opened and we saw a very nicely done set, and the actors began their fun.  The young man that sang the main character, Curley, had a magnificent voice.  The young lady that played Laurie was excellent as well.  The entire cast was very professional and so handosme and pretty.  I can only say I enjoyed it immensely and thanks go to Cathy for thinking of me.

About 9:30 in the morning Glenda and Paul had stopped to see me on their way to Nebraska.  It was so good to see them.  We went to Starbucks in the Northern Hotel and visited.  They dropped me off in time for me to go meet Cathy.

This was a grand day for me.   Thanks to all,  Patj

Highways & Byways July 2015

A back road in Scott County, Illinois July 4th 2015
          On Wednesday June 24, 2015 I began this wonderful trip. It has been four years since my last genealogy/ancestor trip to Kentucky.  I can only go so long without a road trip, so this was the year!  I had planned the trip for months before hand and had already received a lot of enjoyment.  Planning my routes, motels, towns and where I would do research, etc.  I have to tell you, we have a great tool in Google.  It was fun to type in a cemetery and see driving directions to it, thanks to Google.  But finally the day was here and I was ready to take off bright and early that Wednesday morning.
          I had a few trepidations, one of which was that my car had 206,000 miles.  I had never driven it further than Laramie, Wyoming.  As a backup plan I took the car title with me in case I had to trade it off along the way.  I am happy to report that it behaved beautifully and I arrived home with complete confidence in my car.  I am glad I took the chance and took it rather than a rental car, which was my other option.
          My second concern was “Can I go all day without a nap?”  I am so used to doing exactly what I want, when I want to do it, I wondered if I would have the energy and stamina to do this.  Fortunately, adrenalin came to the rescue and I had no problem staying on schedule and on track.  Actually, this concern recaps perfectly the reason I took this trip.  To answer the question, “Can I do it?”  After all, it was my eightieth birthday trip.  So again, I am happy to report that I could do it, and I did do it.
          Another reason for this trip was to gather any unknown items to add to my book about Berriman McLaughlin. It is finally finished but I decided to wait to completely finish it until I returned from this scavenger hunt. 
          So dear reader, with those incidentals out of the way we can begin this adventure of 2015. I sincerely hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
          Travel with me through southeastern Nebraska in Thayer County, across northern Missouri, into southern Iowa and Ottumwa, Wapello County, and the central western four counties of Illinois in Scott, Morgan, Greene and Pike.
          I will introduce you to the many nice people I met, interesting experiences I had, and beautiful parts of America that I saw.
         The title, Highways and Byways signifies the importance of the wonderful ways we have, in our country, to travel. Interstates if we are in a hurry, highways if we want to see towns and people along the way, and byways for seeing the back country known usually to only the local population.  Byways are my very favorite.  And even more fun are back roads.  I traveled on all of these types of roads and am grateful that we have them.  Why, because, each type of road creates a different experience.
          My first day out was a long drive of 425 miles to York, Nebraska.  I had reserved a room at a really cheap price there, and along with the cheap price was a “No Cancel” clause.  So it was make it to York or pay for a room I wouldn’t use.  425 miles does not seem like much to some folks, but to me it seemed like a long day.  Fortunately it was cool, cloudy and rainy that day so the weather wasn’t terribly hot.  I only stopped at one place for a break. That was McPherson National Cemetery in Paxton, Nebraska.  This town is just east of North Platte.  That is where I drove into Central Daylight time and was in it for the rest of my trip.  I never drive past McPherson National Cemetery without stopping.  The first time I  stopped there was when I was on my Harley on my way to see my dad in Omaha.  That trip was again, one to see if I could do it.  Could I take a long trip by myself on my bike.  Once again, I could do it and I did do it.  It was new experience to not have John with me to get me out of tight places, and to be there if I had mechanical problems.
          McPherson National Cemetery is a smaller National cemetery that is the resting place of many veterans that lived in this part of the country at the time they passed away.  The many neat rows of white crosses never fail to stir my heart.  Our flag was at half mast as there was a service that day for a veteran.
         Entrance at McPherson National Cemetery                                    Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address              

         Following Nebraska Hwy 81 south took me to Thayer County, Nebraska. I wanted to see this area where one set of my great grandparents were married and where Catherine Edinger Collins, who I believe is my 2nd great grandmother, lived the last years of her life. That is Hubbell, Thayer County, Nebraska.  This is just about as close to Kansas as  you can be, without actually being in Kansas.

Stay tuned for further excerpts from my Highways Story.    Patj

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Midwest Genealogy Center

A Wonderful Genealogy Library – Midwest Genealogy Center
(Part of Mid-Continent Library System)
Independence, Missouri
By Pat Johnson
          What a delightful find – a library that is full of books, family histories, maps, city directories, periodicals, microfilm, microfiche plus a staff of knowledgeable and friendly genealogists.  Near the end of my latest genealogy trip I took an extra day and stayed nearby, in Independence, Missouri to visit this library. 
            I have dealt with Mid-Continent Library in the past and I knew they had built an up to date genealogy center.  I was pleasantly surprised to find this beautiful building, wonderfully landscaped with a huge parking lot for visitors.
            However, it is the inside that is even more exciting.  The entrance is so nice and peaceful and decorated so nicely it is a treat to come in and look around.  Just like in Salt Lake City, you are greeted at the welcome counter by nice, knowledgeable and very welcoming staff.  It is a beautiful start that promises much more for the visitor.
            What you can find here?  For one thing BOOKS.  The shelves are full of them. I saw no signs of tearing them up to digitize them.  This was my first impression.  Personally, I still like to hold a book in my hands and thumb through the pages.  Maybe it is a generational thing, but it is what I enjoy doing.  The nice thing about this library is that if they have two copies of a genealogy book they will send one out on Inter Library Loan through the usual ILL process at your local library. This is rare for genealogy books.
            What else will you find here? Over 6,000 maps; Over 2,500 periodicals;  Seven book stacks of City Directories; The Draper Manuscripts;  North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories;  North American Women’s Letters, Diaries, Colonial to 1950;  British and  Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries;  American Slavery: A Composite Autobiography over 4,000 interviews of former slaves;  Colonial State Papers 16th to 18th century; Virginia Company Archives 1606-1624.  Plus much more.
            Go to  to investigate this wonderful library and also access many free databases. 

Location: 3440 S. Lee's Summit Road, Independence, MO 64055 816.252.7228  Open 7 days per week

What fun!  You might want to skip visiting during tornado season though.    Patj

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Catharine Edinger Collins 1825-1901

For years I have thought Catharine Edinger was the mother of my 2nd great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Edinger. What is the problem you may ask?  The problem is that there is no proof of that "assumption".  Yes, everywhere Catharine and her husband, Daniel Collins, moved to, Benjamin was not far away or very long in following them.  Compelling yes, but not actual proof.  Of course, Catharine could be an older sister, but I don't find that a likely scenario.

I have thought, "someone knows some little hint that can give me some confidence in my assumption".  This is why I am a firm believer in folks writing the things they have heard from their relatives.  Well, I finally found just a little glimmer of a hint.  Someone posted a picture of Catharine on  I don't usually pay much attention to these as often the person is guessing as to who is in the picteue --but this was different.  The posting also said what the back of the photo had written on it.

"Walter Edinger's step grandmother Collins in Nebraska".

Walter Edinger was Benjamin's youngest child and would be a grandson of Catharine if my "assumption" is correct.  Granted, the writer said "step grandmother".  I figure it was a spouse, or a child, writing what they knew or had heard. And they knew there was something unusual in the relationship of Benjamin and Catharine, but what that was seemed to have been never told.  Unusual because I believe Benjamin was born out of wedlock.

This does not detract from the love I have for my 2nd great grandfather at all.  Benjamin did not have an easy life.  Losing his first wife, Sarah Cornwell, shortly after Walter was born, being already the father of four little daughters at that time.  Not able to care for them, so farming them out to various families in Edgar County, Illinois.

Why do I admire and love him?  Because when he decided to pack up and go to Kansas, where Catharine and her husband had gone, he gathered his family and took them along.  He kept his little family together in all kinds of situations.  Many men would have deserted this family and disappeared.  He married two more times and neither was an especially happy marriage.  Perhaps due in part to his personality, but none the less they did not add much happiness to his life.  He went on to father two more sons with his third wife, Isabel Britt.  He died at the Montgomery County, Kansas Poor Farm in 1915.

So the citation on the back of that photo was an exciting find for me.

At last, someone was stating what I had thought for years.  I guess you know it doesn't take much to get a genealogist excited.  I am more convinced than ever that Benjamin Edinger is the son of Miss Catharine Edinger.

Stay tuned for even more developments in Benjamin's story.   Patj

Friday, May 29, 2015

Josephus McLaughlin (1820-????) -- Just When I Thought I Knew It All -- Hancock County, Illinois

The Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois Courthouse
Oh my, the twists and turns of genealogical research can surely be a surprise. Yesterday, as I was doing my shift at the Family History Center in Fort Collins, it was pretty quiet so I used some of the premium websites that I don't personally subscribe to.  That is one of the nice tools provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  They are free to patrons that visit the Family History Centers.

But to get back to my story --- as some of you know, I am writing about my fourth great grandfather, Berriman McLaughlin and his eleven children that reached adulthood.  I am almost finished and have one more to go, but the one I just finished is his youngest child, Josephus McLaughlin, born about 1820.  I have studied him pretty thoroughly because so little is known of his life, and when he died is a complete mystery.  I know about his wife, Vilotta Peak and some about their five children.  I figured I had learned all I possibly could about this illusive man.  Until yesterday!!

I was in World Vital Records and just had a whim that said, "Put in Josephus McLaughlin."  I didn't find anything new until I scrolled down all the way to the bottom of the results and saw his name with the location Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois.  Thinking like a person that "knows it all" I thought "no way" is that my Josephus McLaughlin.  But then upon reading the transcription of these land records in Hancock County, Illinois, there was the proof, one transaction was a land sale and his wife was Vilotta McLaughlin.

Now a brand new scenario appeared for Josephus McLaughlin. The first land transaction was dated June 1846.  It adds a whole new chapter to the story of Josephus and Vilotta McLaughlin.  The interesting thing too, is that he bought these land parcels from Mormons at the time they were leaving Nauvoo for The Great Salt Lake.  The grantors were Claudius V and Hiram Spencer; John and Perces Stiles.  One grantor was James Todd, and I can't determine that he was a Mormon.  At the time of the first two land transactions in June and July 1846, Josephus and Vilotta were residents of Jersey County, Illinois.  By the end of the land transaction in May 1850 the McLaughlins were residents of Hancock County, Illinois.  Apparently, Josephus McLaughlin had not kept his agreement in the original land transaction and in May 1850 it looks like a foreclosure caused a commissioner's deed to be executed by the two Spencer men.  All of these land transactions are found in Hancock County, Illinois Deed Books Q, T and Y.

 In August 1850 the couple and their five children were living back in Scott County, Illinois with Vilotta's parents.  In 1855 on the Illinois State Census, Josephus and Vilotta  are on that census with all five of their children. This is the last record of Josephus McLaughlin that I have found.  From that date forward all of the records are of Vilotta.  She never remarried, and she had her children with her in her many moves until they began their own families.  Family lore indicates that Josephus went to California during the Gold Rush and never was heard of again.  All I can verify is that he was never heard of again.

But stranger things have happened, and someday I may find the answer to this mysterious man's death.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I Helped Make History!

What fun. To be part of a huge and worthwhile project like this one.  A whole week of the dedicated work of 8,658 arbitrators at  I have been indexing and arbitrating since 2004 when the LDS Church first began this work.  It is fun to do and so worth the effort to make records available to family historians.  It is hard not to get caught up in what the records are saying and in the people in the records.  I sort of adopt them as I am doing the work.

Onced in awhile FamilySearch announces an EVENT like this one. When a big backlog of records are waiting to be arbitrated something like this is announced.  A week of total dedication to the task at hand to bring the backlog down and get those records out to the people that are waiting to find them.

The announcement was just received from FamilySearch telling those that joined in what the results were. 1,042,454 images were arbitrated and thus released to the data available at It is always amazing to me what a concentrated effort can accomplish.

The usual procedure is to have two indexers index the same batch of records.  If they both see the same thing the batch passes on to being published at  If they DON'T see the same thing, it goes to an arbitrator who looks at the batch and decided which is correct or if neither is correct they fix it. Three sets of eyes have read these batches and hopefully increase the accuracy of the information.  But of course, being humans, we can't always get it exactly correct, but it is so much better than nothing that I will take it any day.

Even though I am a small fish in this huge pond, it makes me feel good to have participated.
Stay tuned, Patj

Friday, May 8, 2015

Happy Mother's Day 2015 -- It Is Fantastic

Aren't they pretty?  Roses from my great grandchildren, Oliver 4 1/2 and Stella 1 3/4. They fill my apartment with the scent that only roses can give.  In the small vase are what is left of the glads that Laurel brought to me on Sunday when she arrived for a week's visit.  And what a delightful week it has been.  We have been busy doing all sorts of things.

We went to the Civil War Roundtable on Monday and we both enjoyed the meeting very much. We had an out of town speaker from the Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable and the program was very well done and well received by about sixty local Civil War buffs.  After the meeting we went to our favorite restaurant, Lupita's.  We were both stuffed after overdosing on Mexican food.  It is soooooo good.

On Tuesday we went to the movie, "Monkey Kingdom" and it was another treat for sure.  It was an amazing nature/animal movie about the monkeys in Sri Lanka.  So very well done, interesting, and entertaining as well.  Lunch at Noodles, good again.

Wednesday was filled with various errands and finally walking to Old Town and eating at Stuft Burgers.  It was the best hamburger I have eaten in years.  About the time we got to the restaurant it started pouring rain and we didn't have the smarts to have taken any umbrellas or even a coat.  Laurel ran back to DMA and got her car and came around the front and picked me up.  I just can't walk very fast anymore so we would have been soaked if I had walked back.

Today, Thursday, we went to Loveland and toured the Scuplture Park.  It is magnificent to say the least. I have not visited there for years and the city has enlarged it and improved the whole project and the bronze statues/sculptures are out of this world.  So beautiful and imaginative.  I can't even pick a favorite.  It was cloudy and overcast and it made the park even more beautiful as we walked around the paths that lead from one great scupture to the next.  Then we topped it off with Bingo tonight at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

So tomorrow, we will meet up at Lupitas Mexican Restaurant for breakfast and Laurel will be leaving for Longmont to visit her dad for a few days.  We will probably get together on Sunday for Mother's Day --- if we don't have a big snow storm.  That is the forecast, but as you know in Colorado -- one day can be snow and the next 90 degrees, and not ever very predictable.

It has been a wonderful week for me.  I can't thank Laurel enough for coming and spending some time with me.  I love her so very much.  So I will close a busy but contented week tomorrow.  Stay tuned, Patj

Saturday, April 25, 2015

April 25, 2015 - A Wonderful Day In Loveland - Family Discovery Day

Today was a wonderful experience.  How often can you spend an entire day with a great number of genealogists?  For the second year I was invited to participate in this wonderful event.  I consider it an honor to be included.  I gave two presentations, On The Day You Were Born and Tear Down That Wall - Winning the Brick Wall Game.  It was such a good experience, I can't even describe it.  Talking about genealogy or genealogy related topics is my favorite thing to do.  Plus, I really enjoy preparing Power Point presentations.  So for me it is definitely a win- win situation.  To see old friends and make new friends is such fun.  Was I tired after the day was over?  You bet, because sleep doesn't come easy the night before a day like this.  You bet, because there is a lot of hard thinking about how you are doing. You bet, because it is a mental and physical exercise in setting up the technical equipment.  Would I have missed it?  Not on your life.  Was it worth the effort?

As you can guess, I wouldn't have missed for the world. Here is to 2016 in Loveland.  Stay tuned. Patj

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Special Birthday # 102 - Happy Birthday Laurel Lyndon Evelyn

Meet Laurel Lyndon Evelyn, born April 24, 1913 in Minatare, Nebraska. This picture of him was when he was age 47.  It was taken in December 1950 when he married my mother, Dorothy Cary Craig.  I was age 15 and my brother was age 11.  Laurel came into our lives at a time that we needed a father, or perhaps even more, needed a friend.  

My mother, brother and I had been alone for about three or four years since our parents divorced.  At times things were pretty tough for us. Mom had a hard time supporting us, but she always managed somehow. When she met Laurel it was a wonderful change in our lives.  Mainly because our mother was happy, and that makes kids feel good as well.  I had never had the feeling that I was worth much prior to meeting Laurel. He loved me and David and kids bloom when they are in that type of environment. 

Shortly after their marriage, Laurel moved us to a two bedroom basement apartment on Avenue A in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.  It was a nice home and I had my own bedroom for the first time in my life.  I couldn't believe it when Laurel told my mom to take me to DeMaranville Furniture and let me pick out the furniture for my bedroom.  We went to the store and I picked out my bed and dresser and various other pieces of furniture.  It was like a dream come true to have someone care that much about me.  To say Laurel was generous is the understatement of the year!  

He also insisted that David and I get our eyes and teeth checked.  Another new experience.  There never was money before for that kind of care.  Going to the doctor was a rare occasion, and usually only when the school insisted on a physical examination for entering school.  David and I both always knew we had to stay well.  There was no other option, maybe in the long run that was a good thing, psychologically.  

I remember the day Laurel handed me a twenty dollar bill. Twenty dollars in 1950/1951 was a lot of money.  Especially to a teenager.  He said I should go to town and buy an outfit.  What ever I wanted to spend it on was up to me.  Oh my goodness, I thought about that for quite awhile and I bought a Seventeen magazine to study all of the latest fashions.  I wanted to make the most of this chance of a lifetime.  Finally, I walked downtown and went in to Cheatum's. Cheatum's was the premiere dress shop in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.  I finally settled on a dark green skirt and a pastel green angora sweater.  Angora sweaters were the new rage in teen clothes.  They were furry, cozy looking, and felt so good when worn.  I haven't seen an angora sweater for years!

The gift Laurel Evelyn gave to me and my family was love and caring.  I will be forever grateful for this, and the fact that he came into our lives.  Maybe the greatest gift to David and me, was that he loved our mother.  I believe this is the greatest gift to childen, then and now.  Children then are free of worry about their mother, and can grow. 

Laurel died on May 7, 1967 in Rapid City, South Dakota. During the seventeen years he was in my life, many things happened.  I met Richard Meier and we married.  Laurel gave us $100 for our expenses on our honeymoon.  Which, by the way, covered everything for a week in Denver and we had some left over.  I had my two daughters, and named my youngest one Laurel.  Jobs were found and jobs were lost, houses were bought and houses were sold.  David graduated from College and married, then moved to California. Ordinary family events and we were a family through it all.  

I can still remember when he wouldn't believe me when I said, "Oh I can't dance, I'll never learn to dance."  He said, "Come on, you are going to learn to dance."  We were at the Saddle Club having a family celebration dinner and he led me to the dance floor and told me, "Relax and close your eyes. Just follow me."  What a good feeling that was to have a strong person in charge and gliding so easily across the dance floor. It was like a miracle, and I will never forget that feeling of, "I can do it."

Laurel was always the one person I could count on, Right or wrong I knew he would back me in what ever I decided to do.  It is rare to have a person in our lives like that.  So today I say "Happy Birthday Laurel Evelyn. Thank you for coming into my life at exactly the right time. I wouldn't have missed it for anything."  Patj April 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Sentimental Journey To Loveland, Colorado April 21, 2015

Image result for mckee medical center loveland co
My first stop was McKee Medical Center.  I had to make a sad visit there to the Hospice Center to visit a long time friend, Iva Z.  She is close to ending her long journey of life and I wanted to hold her hand and whisper in her ear that I love her.  There is nothing else I can do.  I visited with her daughter and told her of my first experiences knowing her mother so many years ago.  There were family pictures on the shelf in Iva's room and what a joy to see her life as it progressed.  She was so beautiful, and one picture looked a lot like the actress, Lauren Bacall.  When I commented on that thought, her daughter said so many people have said that very same thing.  It was a nice thing to see her family and her life in pictures.  I said, "I'll bet they are sending positive vibes to Iva."  I didn't stay long as Iva was not conscience and her daughter had other things to do than visit with me.  She was very glad that I had come to see her mother.  I can only pray that Iva can endure peacefully until she is called home to be with her family that is waiting for her.  A farewell to an old friend is sad for us that have to do it.  Have a blessed trip Iva.

My next stop was the Loveland Public Library.  Image result for loveland public library
I decided to donate four of  my books to the Genealogy Room in this marvelous library.  I had the donation form filled out and an addendum that describes the books.  I gave them Katherine's Children the Meech and Huffman Families of Franklin County, Ohio; The Kentucky Ancestors of Patricia Craig Johnson, An American Story; Soft Whispers and Gentle Voices, Meet My Foremothers; Echoes of Distant Voices.

Not feeling like going home, I drove to the place in Loveland where I worked for sixteen years, the  Image result for hewlett packard loveland coHewlett Packard site.
This picture shows the parking lot full of cars -- not so today. As I drove around the four buildings I rarely saw more than three or four cars parked at each building.  As I looked at the windows of the vacant buildings I could see in my memory the 2,000 plus people that worked there when I did.  It was an amazing place to work.  I was so blessed to have been one of those 2,000 employees.  The four buildings that have tan roofs are the four HP buildings.  To the upper left is the newest building,  It is the only one that had cars in the parking lot, I was glad to see it was Keysight Technologies and it was busy. Why was I glad?  Because I am considered a Keysight retiree and my pension check is from this company now. I sure do wish it continued success! It is a spin off of Hewlett Packard/Agilent.  When I retired I was an HP employee.  I was soon an Agilent retiree and now I am a Keysight retiree.  

Finally it was well past time to go home and get ready for my two presentations coming up Saturday. But for a few hours I was happy to visit old memories and visit old places. Although it is sad to say farewell to a good friend I am glad I went to Loveland today.