I’m feeling a little philosophical today. Do you ever wonder why we like the things we do, our jobs or hobbies? This past month in the ProGen Study Group we were tasked with making an education plan. We examined our strengths and weaknesses in the education we’ve already had and made a detailed plan for the genealogy career we want to have and what it will take to get there. It’s so inspiring to listen to others talk about their goals and dreams. They give you the encouragement you need to reach yours!

picture of a question mark

In conjunction with my ProGen assignment, I also took an online class where the instructor wanted us to get the root of why we love genealogy. The answer “I just do” is not an answer. When I kept asking myself the why question, I drilled down to the fact I like helping people and believe everyone deserves to connect with their past. That may not be my final “why” but it’s good for now.

To be able to help people discover their ancestors, it’s time to get my genealogy business started. Next month’s ProGen assignment is to write a business plan and I’ve joined the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). I’m in the process of deciding on a business name, logo, website, and everything needed to start a business in my town. It’s a bit overwhelming, but piece by piece it will all come together.

A friend of mine reminded me recently that done is better than perfect. So here’s to getting it done. I’ll let you know when I hang out my shingle!

picture of and open sign in front of a business.
Image by rawpixel.com

Reminder: Rootstech 2023 starts this Thursday, March 2nd, so if you haven’t registered for this wonderful conference (free and virtual), do it today. www.rootstech.org

Genealogy tip: To quote Geoff Rasmussen from Legacy Family Tree Webinars, “Life is short, do genealogy first.”

52 Ancestors – Week 8: I Can Identify

My dad’s side of the family liked to reuse given names more than my mom’s. The paternal line is filled with Rebeccas and Janes. There are also a few women with the first name of Julia. I can identify with that as that’s my first name. Outside of sharing a name, we don’t have much in common. I know of 3 Julias; they all died before age 50.

Born about 1849 in Pennsylvania, Julia Ann Dirk was my 2x great-grandmother. She married John George Dettinger in March 1869 in York County, Pennsylvania, and had 12 children. Her obituary said she died on 27 August 1888.1 This was just months after her last child was born. Death certificates were not issued before 1893, so complications from childbirth are just an assumption as to her cause of death.2

Julia Ann Dettinger was the first-born daughter of Julia Dirk and John Dettinger. She became the wife of Joshua Shewell, married on 23 Oct 1892 in York County. Unlike her mother, this Julia only had 2 children. Her obituary said she died in the West Side Sanitarium.3 Her death certificate found on Ancestry.com confirms this. She was only 48 years. old.

The third Julia of this story was Julia Kindig. Born in 1890 to Joseph Kindig and Josephine Keller in York County, Julia was a schoolteacher. Unfortunately, this 27-year-old was a victim of the Spanish Flu Epidemic and died on 17 November 1918 in York County, Pennsylvania.4

My name comes from someone I’m not related to…my dad’s college house mother. She lived a lot longer than any of the other Julias, passing in 1974 at the age of 76. Her last known residence was Walterboro, SC and she is buried in the same cemetery as my grandparents.5 I take a break from driving every week at a rest area in Walterboro. What a small world!

1 “Died,” The York (Pennsylvania) Daily, 29 August 1888, p. 1, col. 2; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com: accessed 19 Feb 2023).

2 FamilySearch Wiki, (https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/York_County,_Pennsylvania_Genealogy), “York County, Pennsylvania Genealogy,” rev. 16:25, 20 February 2023.

3 “Deaths and Burials,” The York (Pennsylvania) Dispatch, 25 October 1920, p. 9, col. 5; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com: accessed 19 Feb 2023).

4 “Obituary,” The Franklin Repository (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania), 23 November 1918, p. 3, col. 6; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com: accessed 19 Feb 2023).

5 “Mrs. Julia Jones Dies at 76,” The Knoxville (Tennessee) News-Sentinel, 11 September 1974, p. 33, col. 1; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com: accessed 21 Feb 2023).

Widows and Orphans

This past week I wrote a blog post about the Fraterville Mine explosion and how it affected my ancestors. But on 19 May 1902, hundreds of women were widowed with up to 1,000 orphans.1 The town of Briceville and nearby Knoxville quickly rallied to help the immediate needs of these families.2

In the 26 May 1902 edition of the Knoxville Sentinel, Mrs. Calvin Vowell gave an interview about a dream she had about the mine.3 She dreamed that the Thistle mine blew up and the men who worked in the Fraterville mine were entombed. She pleaded with her husband not to go to work that day along with several of their sons. Being a good husband, he did as she asked and they all stayed home. Tearfully, he said he would always heed the advice of his loving wife.

This article moved me, but I came across something I didn’t expect to find…a mention of my 2x great-grandfather, John McKamey.4

Edith McKamey became the widow of John and lost 3 sons in the Fraterville Mine explosion. She was left to care for the 5 children still at home.

This initial relief fund, I’m sure, was welcomed, but these women wanted more than just a handout. In the weeks, months, and unfortunately, years after, dozens of women brought lawsuits against the Coal Creek Coal Company. Most settled out of court, but one held out for almost 5 years and won big.5

I can’t find where Edith filed suit against the coal company in the newspaper articles listing the plaintiffs. In 1910 she still lived in Coal Creek with her 16-year-old son Oscar, 2 daughters, and 2 grandsons.6 My great-grandfather, John Edward McKamey, lived close by with his family.

Edith remains a mystery to me. More research is needed to see what happened to her after 1910.

Genealogy tip: Your ancestors may be mentioned in documents or articles about someone else. A broad search of any subject may lead to some exciting finds!

1 Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org: access 13 Feb 2023), “Fraterville Mine Disaster,” rev 02:25 14 June 2022.

2 “Coal Creek Subscription,” Knoxville (Tennessee) Sentinel, 20 May 1902, p. 1, col. 7; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com: accessed 13 Feb 2023).

3 ” Two Coal Mines Ordered Closed,” Knoxville (Tennessee) Sentinel, 26 May 1902, p. 7, col. 2; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com: accessed 13 Feb 2023).

4 Ibid.

5 “Reminder of a Great Disaster,” Nashville (Tennessee) Banner, 20 February 1907, p. 12, col. 6; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com: accessed 13 Feb 2023).

6 1910 U.S. census, Anderson County, Tennessee, population schedule, Coal Creek, dwelling 62, family 62, Mrs. Edith McKamey, p. 3B; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/
collections/7884/images/4449669_00111?pId=157526478: accessed 20 Oct 2020), image 6; citing NARA microfilm publication T624.