Shortly after I retired I put together a 216 page book of our family dating from 1604 to 2003 - the most rewarding challenge I had undertaken in my life….it took 4 years of internet searching, finding all kinds of information, including 2 books that were published back in the early 1800’s. One from my Grandfathr's family and one from my Grandmother's family.
The one from my Grandfather's family was written by a relative who in all unlikely coincidences’ lived in the next town up from me back in the early 1800’s and he was a genealogist for our Olin family and even has pieces in our local historical society in our town…you can imagine how thrilled I was to have found this out - all those years ago and I ended up living almost in the same town as him and so engrossed in the same goals.
His name was C.C. Olin and I found through reading his bio that our thoughts and goals were almost identical but 150 years apart.
C.C. Olin was also very deep into the Underground Railroad and helped two slaves through his effort…one 'Caroline Quarrells' and another ‘Lewis Washington’.
His efforts were rewarded in 1880 he received a letter from Caroline saying she was safe in Sandwich, Ontario, Canada where he had left her after seeing she was safe over the border…she wrote that she wished to see him again before she died....and she did.
I sold 75 books to relatives at a family reunion the summer I finished the book. An achievement I never thought would happen the first day I started my journey.
I found so many wonderful people through this search - it just can’t be put into words.
If anyone is even considering doing a family genealogy I strongly suggest carrying through with it - you will have a feeling unlike any other when you finally type ‘The End’.
Through this search I found a 2nd cousin living in Pittsburgh, PA…she was 84 at the time….I only had two things to go by…a photograph of her in her wicker buggy all bundled up in a snowsuit and that her father was my grandmother’s half brother and that he had lived in Pittsburgh, PA.
So….after finding out through my grandmother’s obituary the name of the baby all grown up and married - I did a search on the internet for this person’s husband and found a name in Pittsburgh, PA so I made the call….the answering machine came on…“Oh no…now what”. Well I started rambling that I was the granddaughter of Lelah Olin and that her brother lived in PA, etc, etc and that I’m thinking she just might be…..AND SHE ANSWERED THE PHONE AND SAID “YES, I’M THE ONE YOU ARE LOOKING FOR”….chills!!!!!
What a blessing she was and the dearest person I will ever have met.
I wish everyone could find a long lost relative and become such fast close friends.
My husband and I took two trips east for visits and were treated like relatives that had always been there and we also got to meet her 3 daughters and we all became good cousins though far apart.
One cold January day we got a call that Mary Jean didn’t have long to live…she had cancer and they didn’t hold out much hope so Doug and I made a quick journey to PA and had a most awesome visit and during this visit we gleaned more wonderful information that blew my mind.
Mary Jean said her Father had kept journals - this was good to hear and I thought just maybe I could get some more family information if somehow I could read the journals. Mary Jean said she would see if her daughter could locate the journals and then I could read them but it would take some time.
Not much more than 3 weeks went by and I got the call that she had passed away.
Doug had to work and my brother who had met her just once with us on a visit said he and I could go out to the funeral - our cousins wanted us there if we could make it. So we took a very fast trip east and met the entire family. We felt blessed to say the least. I felt as if I had lost a very close aunt and she was only a 2nd cousin to me.
But we ended up having 3 wonderful 3rd cousins from this search.
Lynn, a cousin, handed me a box with her grandfather’s journals in it - it was fairly large so I figured he had kept track of his entire life....I wasn't wrong with the number of journals in the box- but I also found a very special surprise.
In the box were 20+ journals of my Great-Grandfather’s….my grandmother’s dad!!!!! THIS WAS A HUGE BONUS one I never thought I’d have.
SPENCER GOVE -1876 age 29
The journals of Spencer Gove start at the young age of 16 in the year 1847 Fulton, Wisconsin.
Back then some of the older boys in a family were farmed out to help earn money for the family. This is something they did back then so he traveled at a very young age of 11 to Wisconsin from NY to help with his aunt and uncles farm.
Each journal is a new year but unfortunately there are years missing or he just didn’t record them. But what I have is very precious
The early journals are about 3" x 4½" wide and are leather bound. The later years are about 4" x 7" and some cloth and some leather bound.
He wrote very small and mostly in pencil which is very faded.
The recordings are of how the weather was, their work and some of their daily activities. Money they made, travels they did...but the travels were to buy necessary things.
Entries are short and not in detail. Day to day survival was the most important thing in their lives and it was important for him to record this, but when I read on I really did get a feel to what their lives were really like….and as I read on
I got the feeling that Spencer was an honest upright citizen, father and husband who, for the times, provided well for his family.
I transcribed each word exactly as in his journals. Some words were not clear to me but after reading further I could go back and decipher the words. And lots were in the olde English style which made it even more difficult.
He used no periods or commas so I had to re-read to get the idea of what he was conveying.
He entered in his journals right up to the day he went into the Civil War. There were no more journals until he returned home. I'm not sure if this was because of no chance to write or because he just didn't want any accounts of it. There was no mention of the Civil War anywhere.
I wish you all could read the journals - you would certainly get a clear idea of how life was then.
I read every journal thoroughly and most times with a magnifying glass as the words were faint…but it was worth the two year process.
I put together a 76 page (back to back) book of his life. Ending in 1900 just days prior to his death. His wife kept recording in his journals up to his death and then I started reading his son's (Mary Jean's Father) journals after that - and his accounts started months before his father's passing.
I wrote in the book that it was an eerie feeling reading the accounts of his life and knowing the date of his death was fast approaching - while he did not!
I was so blessed to find Mary Jean, her daughter and the journals….it pieced together many unanswered questions…all but one that is.
Through all my search I can not find anything about my great-great-grandfather (my great-grandma’s daddy). Nothing after 1861.
In 1877 my great-great-grandmother remarried so I don’t know if he died in the war or died of other causes or if they divorced. There is just nothing anywhere for answers
Spelling of names were changed back then…some families had several family members of the same name and age. I guess if I lost just one person in all my search I did good!
I'm thankful that I found pretty much everyone including 4 people I never knew existed.
I only wish you all could read these two books.
Pictured here is Sue from South Dakota, Mary Jean, Lynn who gave me the journals and Jane both from Pittsburgh, PA.
Me and MaryJean 3 months before she passed away.
Hope you enjoyed my story
All my love and thanks to the Disegi family