Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.

31 July 2015

Follow Friday

Several articles caught my attention this week but these two stood out.

Schalene Dagutis’ article titled “Social Security Applications and Claims Index.” This was a great example of how this database – newly released on Ancestry.com – is vital to finding those unknown bits and pieces.  

Have ancestors from the Netherlands? This article is for you then! Yvette Hoitink wrote a piece on obtaining certified copies of birth and death records from the Netherlands. Dutch records are available to the public 50 years after death, 75 years after marriage and 100 years after birth.  

Resource Finds:
I thought I would also pass along some resources I tracked down this week through various sources. 

Atcherley.org.uk lists a great number of helpful books and newspapers. He provides a brief description as well as a link off to them. 

Genealogy is enjoying mainstream tv time as more and more celebrities are interested in finding their heritage. “Who Do You Think You Are?” airs Sunday evenings on TLC at 9/8C. This coming Sunday, 2 August, the show will feature J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. 

Recent Twitter Follows:

Final Note:
Tuesdays, at 2 p.m. ET on Twitter, a group of genealogists chat using the hashtag #AncestryHour. This past week the contacts through the session led me to find information about a crime in Canada that I previously could not find. It is a really great place to promote yourself, learn, share ideas, and help others. I’ll be there tweeting as @GenealogicalGem! 

Follow Me:
I’d like to close by inviting YOU to follow me:


Follow Friday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday wishes go out to Cody Catanese Blackenbiller and Kate Walkling today!

On This Day: Former President dies

It was On This Day in 1875 that former President Andrew Johnson passed away. His death was the result of a stroke he suffered while visiting his daughter in Tennessee.

Johnson succeeded President Abraham Lincoln after he was assassinated in 1865. Johnson was the 17th president of the United States. 

Former President Andrew Johnson Dies  History.com On This Day in History, 1875 
Photo: Wikipedia


On This Day is a prompt to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

30 July 2015

Those Places Thursday: Octorara

Octorara Lake is a great little fishing and picnic area in Colerain Township, Lancaster County. Today the Octoraro Reservoir falls under the authority of the Chester Water Authority. Years ago, circa 1880 and into the early 1900s, Octorara was a thriving little community.

A History of the Octoroaro Farmers Club mentions an Octorara Post Office. Originally the post office in that area was called Andrews Bridge Post Office. However it was changed in 1850 to Octorara Post Office. In 1860 Wilson Dobbins bought the store, as well as 14 acres, according to LivingPlaces.com. He managed both the store and the post office, which was housed there as so many were then, until his death in 1878. (Wikipedia photo)

Unfortunately the census records do not list Octorara as Dobbins’ post office. The 1870 census lists “May” and the 1860 census simply says “Colerain”, which is the name of the township. The US IRS Tax Assessment List for 1866 (see below) does note his address, that is his post office, as being Octorara.

The Lancaster Historical Preservation Trust identifies a four bay brick store/house along Creek Road as Wilson Dobbin’s Store, which housed the Octorara Post Office. It is also listed by the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. The building was built circa 1800-1835 and was used as the post office in the early 1880’s.

Franklin Ellis and Samuel Evans, in their History of Lancaster County, note that in 1883 the Octorara Post Office was housed in Roop’s Store. The building is part of the Andrews Bridge Historic District. The Historic District comprises less than a dozen buildings in what is essentially little more than a crossroads village.

The Octorara Post Office however had to have included a larger area. Many older residents have recalled a town – a hamlet really – where the Octorara Lake now stands. In fact, when the water is low, you can still see the outlines of a few foundations. The houses there are believed to have belonged to the quarry workers.

In 1952, according to Jim Neary of Jim Neary’s Live Bait & Tackle, the reservoir was impounded. Today it is home to many varieties of fish and birds. Visitors may rent a boat or a kayak or enjoy fishing in the lake.


Ancestry.com. A history of the Octoraro Farmers Club, 1856-1946 : prepared as a tribute to those men and women of yesterday, the charter members [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

“Andrews Bridhe Historic District” LivingPlaces.com. Accessed 30 July 2015 http://www.livingplaces.com/PA/Lancaster_County/Colerain_Township/Andrews_Bridge_Historic_District.html

“Our Present Past” Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County, Lancaster, PA, 1985. Pp 65-66.

Dobbin’s (Wilson) Store. Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. Accessed 30 July 2015. https://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/phmc_display.cfm?KeyNo=078751


Those Places Thursday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday wishes today go out to Denise O'Flaherty Coblentz and Wendy Mellinger Miley!

On This Day: Last VW Beetle produced

It was On This Day in 2003 that the last classic VW Beetle rolled off the production line in Mexico. Volkswagen, which is headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany, built over 21 million since World War II. 

The classic VW Beetle was my mom’s choice of vehicles when I was young.  

Last classic VW Beetle rolls off the line  History.com On This Day in History, 2003 


On This Day is a prompt to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

29 July 2015

On This Day: NASA was created

It was On This Day in 1958 that NASA - the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - was created.

On This Day is a prompt to further explore historical events.
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

28 July 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: Thomas McClure

Thomas F. McClure, son of David and Jane McClure died on 30 January 1893. He is buried at the Octorara Presbyterian Cemetery along Valley Road (Route 372) between Quarryville and Christiana, in Southern Lancaster County.


Tombstone Tuesday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

27 July 2015

Military Monday: US Daughters of 1812

The other day I visited the Octorara Presbyterian Church down along Route 372/Valley Road between Quarryville and Christiana, Lancaster County. I saw a grave marker I had not seen before. There was an outer circle reading “In honor of service.” Inside the circle is a star reading “N.S. U.S.D. 1812.” Unfortunately the stone had worn and was not readable.  

N.S.U.S.D. stands for National Society of United States Daughters of 1812. The organization was founded 8 January 1892 by Mrs. Flora Adams Darling for the descendents of those who fought for America in the War of 1812. 

Think you might have an ancestor who served in the War of 1812? The NSUSD offers a database of member ancestors. Some entries are more detailed than others.  

Francis Harbison (member # 14849) was born in 1758 in PA. He served PA as a Private in the Chester County Militia. His entry also reveals his wife was Katherine Hart. They had a daughter, Jane, who married James Ewing. Francis died in PA in 1823. 

John Kennedy (member #3442) served Pennsylvania as a Private in the Chester County Dragoons. Others served in a non military fashion. Comstock Passmore (member # 13971) served PA by building a frontier fort! 

Today the organization continues to dedicate itself to patriotism and the preservation of documents and relics. PA has three chapters: Erie, Lancaster and Pittsburgh. The Lancaster Chapter is called the Robert Fulton Chapter. 


Military Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

On This Day: Toronto scientists isolate insulin

Two scientists at the University of Tornoto – Frederick Banting and Charles Best – successfully isolated insulin On This Day in 1921. They isolated the insulin from canine subjects, created diabetic symptoms in those subjects and then proceeded to administer a program of insulin injection which returned the subjects to their pre-diabetic state! 

Almost 10% of the American population has diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Although scientists like Banting and Best have made great strides, diabetes is still the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. 

Insulin isolated in Toronto  History.com On This Day in History, 1921 


On This Day is a prompt to further explore historical events.
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

26 July 2015

Sunday’s Obituary: Christian Mellinger

Christian Mellinger was in his 92nd year of life when he died on 25 July 1880. A resident of Mountville in Lancaster County, he was a farmer. A member of the Old Mennonite Church, he was survived by four sons and six daughters. 

His obituary reads:

Christian Mellinger, a venerable patriarch of Mountville, West Hempfield township, died last evening between 10 and 11 o’clock, in the 92nd year of his age, of dropsy, with which he had been but a short time affected. Mr. Mellinger was a native of this county, a farmer by profession, and led a quiet and homely life; and yet by his frugality, industry and skill in farming acquired a very considerable fortune, estimated at from $80,000 to $100,00. He was an upright, honorable man, highly esteemed by all who knew him. He was a widower, and for some years past has lived with one of his sons. He was a member, we believe, of the Old Mennonite church. His surviving family consists of four sons and six daughters, all of whom are married. His funeral will take place on Wednesday morning at 9 o’clock. 

Lancaster daily intelligencer. (Lancaster, PA), 26 July 1880. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.  


Sunday’s Obituary is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

On This Day: Robert Fulton honored

The Union Fire Company, On This Day in 1880, commemorated the birthday of Robert Fulton, who was a member of that company.

The Union Fire Company was founded in 1742 and is the oldest continuing operating volunteer fire company in the nation. Many influential Lancastrians were members at one time or another.  

Lancaster Daily Intelligencer. (Lancaster, PA), 26 July 1880. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.  


On This Day is a prompt to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

25 July 2015

On This Day: Two young coal pickers killed

Two young coal pickers were killed On This Day in 1881 in Ashley. Edith and Lottie Low, 10 and 12 years of age, were killed as they were picking coal from the tracks. Edith was struck and killed by a passenger train. Lottie was struck as well. Her injuries were so severe that there was little to no hope of her survival. The train was on the Central R. R. of New Jersey. 


Lancaster Daily Intelligencer. (Lancaster, PA), 25 July 1881. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.  


On This Day is a prompt to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015