Archive for category Hobbies

Her Question, My Discovery



It seemed like a simple enough question, how was I related to the McKims in Mercer, Pennsylvania? The question came through and I try to answer as many as possible. I sent back information about my third great grandfather, William R McKim that had died in the Civil War.

There were a lot of things about this man that I knew and could confirm. He had been in the war and died in Virginia. He married my third great grandmother that was a Kilgore, in Oberlin, Ohio. That both of them had been going to Oberlin College at the time of their marriage. And that he had artistic skills, from the drawings that he had signed and left in the family bible. I knew his wife had died a couple of years before he did. And I knew my orphaned great-great grandmother was raised by her mother’s family.

I couldn’t confirm that his father was John “Adam” McKim and his mother Henrietta or Harriet. Logic placed him in the family from location, and his birth year. Nothing else solidly placed him, and what I determined to be his younger sister, in the family of 5 other children living in Mercer.

That was until the email conversation with my now new cousin. As we traded communications, she wrote that William was mentioned in his grandfather, George Rung’s will. George Rung lived in Petersburg, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania and was a tanner and a county Burgess. Not only did this confirm William’s name but corrected the maiden name that I had for his mother.

William’s mother was Harriet Rung, not Nelson as I had thought. She and her husband, John McKim, are mentioned in George Rung’s will. All six of his living children were included in his will, but only four of his grandchildren received notice.

His daughter Henrietta’s first born child, William Rung McKim seemed to be a major focus of his attention. Aside from the one thousand dollars that he would get at the age of 21, he would also be clothed until the age of 16 and schooled for 18 months. He was to be trained in a trade until he turned 16 or he would only receive eight hundred dollars at 21. Henrietta, William’s sister, would also receive one thousand dollars when she reached the age of 21.

George Rung would leave one thousand dollars to his grandson Lewis G Mytinger and five hundred to his oldest grandson John Farringer Rung when they both reached the age of 21. He didn’t show the same concern for these grandsons’ continuing education and training as he did with William.

William would attend Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio in 1853, at the age of 21. While in Oberlin he would marry Sydney Isabella McKim, who was also attending college at Oberlin. Their only child, Lilly, would be born shortly before their first anniversary.

Lilly would be left an orphan by the time she turned 7. Her mother would pass when she was three from illness and she would go to live with her maternal grandparents. Her father would die in the Civil war just 4 short years later.


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Something Old, Something New…

For the past couple of years I have been creating books and calendars as gifts for the family. has a tie in with that allows you to import your genealogy content into books and calendars. It took me about 3 years to finish a 28 page genealogy book for my in-laws as a Christmas present. It was a lot of fun and greatly appreciated, not to mention the exceptional quality of the book.

I haven’t just created that book, but did calendars for family members that contained birthdays and anniversaries right on the calendar, along with the number of years of age or married. For the grandkids I made picture books, these little books have pictures that I have taken of them throughout the year. You can see them grow from the first page of the book to the last.

Yesterday I noticed another book making web site, I have tried for picture books, although their product was ok, there wasn’t anything they offered that was different from what offered and they didn’t have the hooks into my genealogy data. Blurb was offering something I had not seen before, hooks into my blog site to create a book of all or some of my entries, along with many other features that most book making sites offer.

I thought I would give it a try and downloaded their “BookSmart” software. The application is simple. There is a brief video tutorial to watch if you chose to, that gives the user a quick overview of how the software works. I pointed it my blog, let it select all the entries and auto load to pages. There was a small wait because of the amount of information and 90 photos it was loading. It filled over 400 pages including photos. It looks for the highest resolution photos to put in the book. Mine were all low resolution and would have to be swapped out if I wanted to print the book.

Every blog article got its own page; this tends to waste a good deal of space in my opinion. It would be nice to be able to select an auto flow option, although you can copy and paste to rearrange information and delete the now empty pages, for 400 pages, that is a lot of hand work. The layout can also be change, so far I haven’t found a way to do it besides one page at a time, also time consuming.

An interesting feature is the ability to sell your book from their web site. You set the price and all of the profit is your, over the cost per book. A unique way to get a book published.

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You can’t take it with you

Newspaper articles turn up surprising information on relatives. From the obituary of my great great great grandfather I have gained the opinion that when he left this life, he left his family more than a little dissatisfied. Unlike other obituaries of 1911 that lauded the generosity, kindness, intelligence and dedication to family, his began “Was Once Wealthy”.

If he had written his own obituary I highly doubt he would have broadcast to the local public his failure to leave his family in the cushiony comfort that must have been expected. For a man that had always defined himself as a farmer in every census, even after being involved in many oil producing ventures, this statement must have made him roll over in his grave. Not only did they make the statement the he was once wealthy but put a dollar amount on it if $300,000 in the body of the obituary. You can almost hear the "thanks a LOT dad" sneer. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when I wrote for a copy of his will to the local courthouse, he didn’t have one.

This tends to make a person wonder, left to the living what would your family have to say about you?


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Plays with dead people

Several years ago I started a family tree. With improvements to the information available on the internet, that small family tree has grown to immense proportions. Along the way I have found politicians, farmers, oil producers, photographers and soldiers. I am of Irish, German, Belgian, English, Scotch-Irish heritage, at least that captures the major ones. I am sure there are many more nationalities tossed in. Some came across on the Mayflower, others traveled here during religious uprising in their home countries and one even came over to brew beer.  

I thought I would start this blog to share my journey into the past, looking for clues. My major source of information has been As time has progressed I have invested in more of the search capabilities that ancestry offers but lately have found that I needed other sources of help.

My last trip to my hometown, I went to the local Historical society. What a fun trip that was. I was looking for any information on a specific set of multi great grandparents. They were photographers and well known in the town at the time. After digging through census records on line I uncovered the fact that at one point my grandparents were no longer living together. The historical society had photographs that had been taken by my grandparents and speculations concerning the break up of the marriage. It was a lot like a true life soap opera weaving in affairs and drama. In the end they pointed me at the courthouse, even calling the courthouse to let them know I would be over the next day. My trip to the courthouse didn’t turn up a divorce record, or even a will, just a statement of debt that my grandfather owed at his death that took my grandmother 2 years to pay off. It still leaves the question of why granddad moved out or was asked to leave with a son still in the house 13 years old. After more digging another son was turned up that died at 6 years old. I had noticed that my grandmother had claimed in different censuses that she had 4 children and 5 children in the other. After an email to my new friends at the historical society, they found the notice of the death of the 6 year old son.

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