Fall Schedule

We’re heading out on Tuesday the 20th, so our adventures are about to begin!  A lot of people have been asking where we’re headed next, so here’s the plan.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking for campgrounds and making reservations at various places.  I think I’ve mentioned before that we’ve found that it’s less expensive to stay at a campground for a week or a month, rather than for just a few nights.  So that’s generally what I’m trying to do to keep costs down.  Surprisingly, camping fees are pretty high and will take a big chunk of the budget if I’m not careful.

I’ve already written about plans for the first couple of stops – Gettysburg and then Washington County, PA.

After that, Eric will head west to Ohio, and my plan is to go to a campground in Franklinville, NY, which is in Cattaraugus County.   Some of my ancestors were farmers in the area in the early 1800’s.  I’ll spend a week there, visit them in a cemetery in the little town of Delevan, and do research at the County Courthouse in Little Valley.

My next stop will be a campground in Marathon, NY, which is in Cortland County.  I have some ancestors who farmed in Homer, just north of the town of Cortland, in the late 1700’s. One of them was born in Wales, served as a Captain in the Revolutionary War in a New Jersey regiment, and after the war migrated up to Homer.  He’s buried in the Atwater Cemetery there.

By then it will be mid-October, and I’m going to have to start worrying about avoiding freezing temperatures.  Most of the campgrounds in the upstate NY area close around Columbus Day, or by October 15 at the latest.  So, it will be time to head south.

I’ll make a stop in Bucks County for about a week, staying at a campground in Ottsville.  It will be an opportunity to see friends, go to a doctor, and visit my storage unit if necessary.

Next, I’m going to spend a week with my BFF, aka my sister, Carol, on eastern Long Island.  It’s probably been decades since I’ve spent a whole week with her, so that will be wonderful!  While I’m on Long Island, I’m going to leave my RV with Rick of Central Jersey RV in Jackson, so he can re-seal the roof, replace the awning, and make some other repairs.  It’s perfect timing, since he needs the rig for a few days, and I’d rather not drive it in the NYC area, anyway.

After that, I’ll start my trek south, stopping in Richmond, Virginia for a couple of nights to see my cousin Betsy, who is another sister!  Our mothers were sisters, so Betsy and I have a strong blood bond, and I LOVE being with her and her wonderful husband.  They raise sheep, so it’s delightful to be on their farm with the smell of the earth and the animals.

Then it’s off to Georgia, about November 1st – ish.  Amazingly, 100% of Eric’s ancestors are from Georgia, back 200 years to when the State was first formed.  I have never researched on site in Georgia, and there is SO much to do!  Eric and I are meeting at an old family cemetery on someone’s private land near Monroe, Walton County, where we will “boondock” for three or four nights (boondocking is camping on land for free, with no hookups) while we work on cleaning up the cemetery.

For the next couple of weeks, I’ll stay at a campground near Athens, Georgia, which is centrally located to several counties where I’ll be doing research.  I’m not sure yet whether Eric will be with me, or not.  Then in mid-November, for the week before Thanksgiving, Eric and I will stay at a campground near Jacksonville, Florida.  We’re going there because that’s where our mail forwarding service is.  We want to become Florida residents, so we’ll be getting Florida driver’s licenses, titling our vehicles there, etc.

We’re going to spend Thanksgiving with Eric’s sister and mother, who live in Cape Canaveral.  Frustratingly, the campground where we want to stay is completely booked, and another option close by doesn’t take reservations until a few weeks prior.  So, we don’t have that week locked in, and hoping for the best.

Then I’m headed to Sarasota, Florida.  I’ve decided to store the RV for three months (December, January and February), and rent my cousin’s house there.  There aren’t too many places for me to camp and avoid risk of frost during those months, and I want to stay on the east coast for now.  Staying at my cousin’s house and storing the RV is less expensive than camping, so that’s what I’m going to do, at least for this year.

I’m going to fly to Seattle to see my descendants for two weeks at the end of December!  I’m getting a little studio for a week near my daughter’s house – both kids live in the city.  For the second week, Eric is flying in and the four of us will be staying in a beautiful vacation rental near Index, Washington, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.  I’m sure it will be a magical end to quite an amazing year in my life!

Research in Western PA

washington-county-map
Washington County, Pennsylvania

The first stop on my travels will be Washington County, Pennsylvania.  Well, actually it will be the second stop, since Eric and I will be visiting Gettysburg for three nights on the way.  But Washington County will be the first place where I’ll be doing genealogical research.

My mother grew up in Pittsburgh, and summered in Union Township near the little town of Finleyville, on the farm of her much beloved grandparents.  There’s a cemetery there where her extended family, back three generations, is buried.  That’s where I’ll bury my parents and my two brothers when I’m there, which is my reason for making this the first stop on my trip.  So if there is a place which I could call home, this would be it.

I need to spend about three months there at some point.   I’m so fascinated by my extended family history in the area that I can envision writing a book about them.  This visit will only be for a week, though.  That’s longer – by far – than any other time I’ve been there, but not long enough.  It’s just not the right time of year for an extended stay.

My mother’s paternal line is filled with miners, most going way back into the 1700’s.  Three Furlong brothers (James, Lewis, and Thomas) came to America from south Wales mining country in the mid-1800’s.  Other families in this line, the Paynes, Weightmans and Tunneys, all came from Northumberland County in northern England in the 1870’s and 1880’s.

One of the things that fascinates me is how so many relatives from each family in England came to the same place in America, and then intermarried here, to the point where many couples were second or third cousins.  I wonder if they were aware of that.  I know this was common with all families, but this is the only area where I’ve found it happening in mine.

In addition, their relationships and activities tie together the old country and the new.  For example, in some cases, one sibling went back to England while the other stayed in America.  And of course another fascinating aspect is their occupation – the life of a miner was extremely difficult.  The family suffered many deaths in the mines.

I need to decide exactly what I want to accomplish while I’m there next week.  There are actually three counties involved for my extended family:  Washington, Allegheny, and Fayette.

One thing I might do is get the full divorce file for my grandparents.  They divorced in 1944 in Allegheny County.  I have parts but not all of it.  I’ll have to check to see where I would find it.

Another time when I was in Washington County, I found the original delayed birth certificates for the County.  In the mid-20th century, if an ancestor  needed a birth certificate (for example to apply for Social Security, or a passport), and they were born before birth certificates were issued by the State (in Pennsylvania, this was 1906), then they could obtain a delayed birth certificate from the County.  As I recall, the certificates were stored in the basement of the courthouse.  We were in a hurry so I couldn’t make copies of them at the time.  I wrote down the information as best I could, but there are so many more that I need, and I would really like to have photocopies or photographs of the originals.

A third project that comes to mind is to research the land.  My 81 year old uncle (my mother’s brother) has asked me when the family acquired the grandparents’ farm where the kids spent their summers, and he wants to know if I can find out anything about the house burning down and being rebuilt in the early 1900’s.  I’d like to find the answers for him.  I haven’t had time to do much land research before.

I think that sounds like a reasonable plan which could be accomplished in a week, so that is my goal.  More to come as I do the research!