Do you ever just wonder?

One day last week I was in the file cabinet – putting a couple of things away, when I came across some old photos. I love old photos.

 Here’s some of what I found – and I’ll share what I know this one and the others in future, and hope that some of the family who read here can fill in some of the gaps!


This is Louise Alcock. She was born May 9, 1894 in Marietta, Ohio. She was – I believe – the youngest of George Alcock and Easter Smith’s 11 children. (I really need to do some more research and find out if all 11 are truly George and Easter’s children!)  George was the son of Thomas Alcock and Ann Racer. Thomas, interestingly enough, served in the 148th Ohio Infantry during the Civil War. We have his enlistment and discharge papers, as well as a Certificate of Thanks with the signature of Abraham Lincoln and Edwin Stanton on it. Thomas must have been a pretty faithful correspondent – we have a number of his letters, ledgers relating to the farm, etc. He seemed to be a pretty interesting guy. (Thomas’s father – Thomas, was an emmigrant from Cheshire, England – we have his land grant dated 1789 – pretty cool stuff!)

I don’t know much about Louise, sadly.

I know that she married Dwight McBride September 10, 1913 – seven years after the picture above was taken.

And I know that she was mother to two boys – Harold and Charles McBride. Harold was my husband’s Father.

That’s Harold on the left, and Charles on the right.

What’s really interesting about this photo of Louise is that it’s actually a post card. Here’s what the other side said:

It was addressed to Louise’s Aunt Aura Smith Dotson.

Things that make me wonder…

Was it normal to just send a family photo in the mail as a post card?   I mean – there’s no message!  Just an address!

I also want to know about the rabbits!

I want rabbits!

 I think I count 16 or 17 rabbits in the picture.

 How did they keep them in there? Wouldn’t they just burrow out? Did they raise them for meat? (That’s what I want to do.)

 And what about that post-mark. Do you see the Akron mark? It says September 23, 1906 – and it has the time on it! 5:30 pm! Did they always mark the time on the post mark?

 I think it’s interesting, as well, that the Reno, OH post-mark is for the day prior. This little post card covered some ground in pretty quick order!

Interestingly enough – being the nosy person I am – I Googled the address on the card and think I may have found the house that Aunt Aura and family lived in! It certainly is of an appropriate architectural age, if it’s the house.

There’s so much I’d like to know about the generation preceding Louise – I know next to nothing about her siblings. I need to invest some time doing some research on this part of the family!

Gotta love those stashes of old family photos!

The Scottish Connection

When John and I met and got to talking about our “kin” and “roots” I was surprised to learn that his grandfather was born in Scotland! A little more conversation happened, and then I learned that John’s Mom had been 42 years old when John was born. So – in a sense, almost a skipped generation there. John’s Grandfather – James Halladay Jr. was born September 25, 1878 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland to James Halladay Sr. and Eliza Black. In the 1881 Scotland Census they lived at 41 Polmadie Street, in the civil parish of Glasgow Hutchesontown, in Lanarkshire County.

[This is James Halladay Jr. in later life.]

He was 2 years old on that 1881 Scottish Census, and at the grand old age of 11 he immigrated to the United States with his mother and siblings. My mother-in-law, Hazel Halladay McBride, told me once that James Sr. did not come until later, as he was in the Royal Navy and had to wait until his term of service was finished. One of the Halladay cousins told me recently that James Jr. didn’t have a middle name – nor did his siblings, apparently – because in Scotland they were taxed if their children had more than one forename!

When John and I were first married, we were gifted with an amazing stash of old family documents, photos, tin types, Bibles, and other treasures. Not only that, we had the rare and precious privilege of having Hazel live with us at that time – and as we unearthed new treasures, we could turn to her with a question mark on our faces and she’d smile, and then say something like, “Oh… that’s Grandfather James Halladay Sr….” and she’d then go on with some of her remembrances that were handed down to her.

That, my friends, is a gift beyond compare!

(James Halladay Sr. and his wife Eliza Black)

There have been various oral traditions about the Halladay and Black families – but we’ve had little documentation to support it! As I’ve lamented previously, I’ve not spent much time working on this treasure trove of family history. But with a daughter contemplating DAR membership and a deep desire on my part to teach my kids some of this amazing stuff – I caved a bit when faced with a 14-day free subscription to Can I just tell you what a fabulous thing this place is? Actual scanned copies of census records – from all over the world! I should probably warn you, though – that those 14 days go fast, and it’s not cheap to purchase the subscription. So much so, that I’ve been burning the midnight oil quite a lot to get as much digging done while I can! J

Yesterday, as I was pondering the fact that we had the rare gift of knowing actual NAMES of some of John’s Halladay ancestors, I wondered if I could find them on some of the Scottish Census records. Yes, as a matter of fact, I could. And it didn’t take long for me to blow through – oh, about 10 hours – trying to figure out this whole confusing Halladay family!

First of all – I should say that I really believed previously Halliday (and its variations thereof) to be a fairly unique name. I mean, not Smith, right? So should be a LOT easier to find records, etc. because of the unique nature of the name. (I have always been grateful that my great-great-grandfather was named Lycurgus Cincinnatus Barrett – I mean, there couldn’t possibly be TWO of them on the planet, right?!) However, all one has to do is take one peek into the Scottish, English, Canadian, and US records to realize- not so unique, after all! And you know what? They followed standard naming conventions – i.e., John’s grandfather’s name is James Halladay, his father’s name is James Halladay, his father’s name we don’t know, but HIS father’s name is James Halladay. Yep – no middle initials. Yep. All in the same general vicinity for the most part. With loads of cousins who followed similar naming conventions. Lord have mercy!

However, bless Hazel’s sweet heart, I have some great notes from the considerable time she took with John and I to share some of what she knew – and I was able to remarkably easily find OUR James Halladay on that 1881 Scottish Census. Woo Hoo!

Without too much more effort – although quite a lot of time eliminating families that weren’t ours – I was eventually able to find James Halladay Sr. in the Scottish Census records! And I knew from Hazel that James Sr.’s mother’s name was Emma Frame, although we didn’t know his father’s name, unfortunately. Imagine my surprise when I found this on the 1861 Scottish Census:

1861 Scotland Census

Emma Halliday – age 32 – head of household

Born abt 1829 in Alloa, Stirlingshire

Registration Number 644/5

Registration District: Clyde

Civil Parish: Glasgow St. Mary

County: Lanarkshire

Address: 59 Trongate Street

Occupation: Bootbinder

ED: 2

Household schedule number: 51

Line: 20

Roll: CSSCT1861_104


Sarah A Halliday, age 13 – daughter

James Halliday, age 13 – son

William Halliday, age 9 – son

Alexander Halliday, age 6 – son

Marion Frame, age 20 – sister

James Halliday, age 63 – father-in-law

Ann Halliday, age 39 – sister-in-law

Gabriel Halliday, age 9 – nephew


That’s our Emma! And she was a widow already, at age 32! And there were no fewer than 9 souls in her household – including her father-in-law, sister-in-law, and a nephew. So cool! Great info gathered there, but kinda sad – a widow at such an early age. And, no name for James Sr.’s Dad. (I’m going out on a limb here – sorry, bad genealogy joke – and gonna posit a guess that his name well may be James!)

So, I did some more digging. This time I decided to do some more digging into Emma’s background. It didn’t take long for me to find her – but NOT someplace I thought I might! In fact, I’m still kind of reeling from it all!

Okay – let’s recap a bit.

James Halladay Jr. – John’s grandfather

James Halladay Sr. – John’s great grandfather

Eliza Black – John’s great-grandmother

Unknown Halliday – John’s great-great grandfather

Emma Frame – John’s great-great grandmother

William Black – John’s great-great grandfather

Margaret Unknown – John’s great-great grandmother

Hold on to your hat – here’s where it gets trippy.

William Black, married to Margaret Unknown, was the father of Eliza Black. Margaret Unknown passed away – probably sometime between 1861 and 1871 (Scottish Census years) because the youngest child, Arch (Eliza’s youngest brother) was born in 1861, but by the 1871 Census William had remarried.

Unknown Halliday, married to Emma Frame, was the father of James Halladay Sr. – right? Unknown Halliday passed away, I’d guess some time between 1855-ish and 1861, because James Sr.’s youngest brother was born in 1855, and Emma shows up as a widow on the 1861 Census.

On the 1871 Scottish Census Emma has remarried.

As noted above, William Black has also remarried by the 1871 Scottish Census.

These are our lovely couple above’s parents, right? James Halladay Sr. and Eliza Black.

William Black and Emma Frame Halladay are MARRIED TO EACH OTHER on the 1871 Census!

Good gracious!

That means James and Eliza are step-brother and sister, right?

My head is still reeling.

From what I can see on Census records thus far – it appears that William and Emma did not have any children together. My, that would be a work out for my genealogy program, keeping those relationships straight if they did! Emma was in her 40’s by then, so I’m guessing the likelihood of many more babies to be fairly slim.

So – WOW! Unless you’re one of the family reading this I probably lost you WAY back when. But – WOW! How wild is that?

Needless to say, this just lures me into NEEDING to spend more time researching. Ugh! My free subscription ends on Friday.

Wanna guess what I’m going to be doing between now and then?!

Old Dead Folks

I’ve failed – I’m afraid in large part – those folks who went before me, to impart to my children the incredible rich heritage with which they have been blessed.

(My Great-Uncle Grant, Great-Aunt Hazel, and Great-Aunt Barbara.)

Yep – they may be old dead folks, but they’re MY old dead folks. The folks who went before. The ones who gave life, limb, property, comfort, oftentimes liberty – in exchange for the freedom of their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren… right on down to me.

When I was growing up I had the handicap
nuisance incredible privilege – yeah, that’s really what it is – an incredible privilege – to have had a Mom and Grammy both who loved history and in particular, OUR family history.

I have memories (yes, my eyeballs ARE rolling up into my head as I type) of summer days spent languishing patiently waiting in the shade, in the grass in front of some public library, county courthouse, cemetery – or some other repository of info about old dead folks – while my Mom and Grammy dug through some – to them, anyway – treasure trove therein.

Okay – I admit it. I didn’t get it then.

I was bored.

I thought it was stupid.

(My Dad and Aunt. Mississippi early 1940’s.)

I kept wondering why the heck we were there, instead of, oh, say, DISNEYLAND! (And in their defense, we spent a LOT of time at Disneyland – it’s just I thought we should have been spending ALL of our free time at Disneyland! J)

You know what in some ways was worse? When we all connected up with some cousin so-and-so, and they’d get together and Grammy would start the conversation with, “Now, I remember Papa saying that your Mom would oftentimes…” and then I’d tune out. I mean, HELLO! My Grammy was born in 1912 – she was ancient! (Keeping in mind this was 1960-something – LOL!) My childlike reasoning was that if she was talking about her Papa, who was born BEFORE the 1900s, then there was certainly nothing worthwhile for me to be listening to… and so I’d check out.

I was so stupid.

For us – it wasn’t a religious affiliation that drove that pursuit of our family history – it was just the wonder of it all. The wonder of learning more than the name and date associated with an ancestor – who might have done something as remarkable as have fought in the American Revolution, or been taken captive by Native Americans as a child – not to have been returned for years, or to have been the guy who got weighed on the town livery scales cause that was the only place that could handle his weight – and got written up in the local newspaper every year when he weighed!

(My Dad, Aunt, Great-Aunt, and various other cousins.)

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20’s that the light bulb went on. I’d moved home to take care of my Dad, who was terminally ill. My Mom, who was still a bit in denial about the severity of Dad’s illness, was a little hacked off that I was there – and not gainfully employed elsewhere. Dad tried to explain it to her – and she grudgingly admitted she really wasn’t able to do it ALL and did the need the help. I made it my mission to do whatever I could to make Dad comfortable, working with hospice, taking him to the ER in the middle of the night, or just sitting and spending time with him. (Gosh, what a treasure those memories of time with him are!)

Anyway – Mom decided at some point shortly after I moved home to take care of Dad that I needed to help her out with a project. I was happy to do that – honestly! But I was in no way, shape, or form prepared for what she was about to spring on me.

One day she came home with big boxes in the car (this was 1992), and asked me to help her unload. When we got everything into the house I asked, “What is this?” She smiled, said, “It’s a computer. A PC. I want you to put all of Grandma’s and my genealogy research into it.”

I looked at her blankly.


(My paternal Grandparents with my Dad and Aunt.)

Yes, I’d worked for a law firm in their IS department, managing a dedicated server and specific programs. But I’d honestly never worked with a PC. Wang, yes! PC? No! I didn’t know how to take it out of the box, much less put it all together, much less turn it on and make it work.

She had a plan, though. She had me signed up for classes.


Then she showed me the “research.” Two very large filing cabinets stuffed to the gills with Grammy’s 50 years worth of genealogy research, and then Mom’s boxes representing her 25 years worth of genealogy research.


I had immediate flash backs to when I was a kid – dying of boredom while they did genealogy research. I glanced at the filing cabinets and boxes. I made a quick mental calculation… I would be done with this about the time Jesus came back for His church! Yes, He could come back any day – but He’d been quoted as saying that a day was like a thousand years! Help me, Lord Jesus! Help me!

So I took the class.

I made a lucky guess on choosing a genealogy software program – way back before I had half a clue about what software even was, or what one should look for in a genealogy program.

And one day I dug in.

She tricked me, my Mom.

I think she secretly knew that my love for history would win out eventually… I think she also knew my determined to hate it attitude would eventually fade, and I’d take half a second to consider the wealth literally at my fingertips, and get sucked in.

Oh did I get sucked in.

(My Aunt telling a calf what for!)

Then, as if that weren’t bad enough, my Dad sealed the deal.

One day, he asked me to sit down, and very solemnly asked me if I’d please consider doing him a favor. He’d heard of the successes I’d had connecting with some cousins via this new fangled thing called the Internet and bulletin boards. (I found a husband there, too!) And he asked me if I would please research his side of the family. You see, he ran away from home when he was just a whipper snapper of 8 years of age – only going home long enough to hitch a ride to California as a teenager – so he missed tons of oral history, connections, and the like.

He phrased it somewhat along the lines that this was a dying wish. He wanted to know more about his roots. He wanted to maybe connect with some of his cousins – most of whom whose names he didn’t even know, nor how to contact them.

How could I say no?

So of course, I didn’t.

So that was pretty much the beginning. At first I spent nearly all of my free time researching, adding to the family file on the computer, scanning documents, sourcing stuff, verifying information, and marveling at the wonder of the fact that *I* was related to these amazing people who trekked across oceans for freedom, took part in wagon trains to procure land and a future for their children, and took a stand for things like equality.

(Erby Kay Anderson, my great-great grandmother.)

So – for the girl who could teach the class on genealogy research – how did I fail so miserably at teaching my own children about their roots?

I’m still pondering that.

Yes, I know life is busy.

And they grow up so fast! When they’re little, well, they’re too little to understand. (Well, maybe.) And when they’re older, it seems that life distracts you from saying stuff like, “Did you know that your great-great-great grandfather kept a journal and I’ve got it in that safe over there? Wanna look at it?”

How do I find myself at that juncture of life when my eldest is leaving for college in a year – and I had to spell out for her that she’s eligible to join the DAR (and what it is – Daughters of the American Revolution, for those of you unfamiliar) and may be able to get scholarships because of it! And not just eligible once – but like through 5 or 6 different ancestors!

(Grammy and Grandpa, Mom & Uncle – Victory Gardening circa 1943.)

So, I’m making a bit of a – mid-year resolution?! Yeah, I guess that’s what you’d call it.

I want to do better.

I want my kids to know.

I want them to value the treasure of their family history.

I want them to do a better job of telling their kids about their old dead kin, and why their connection to them matters.

So I’m going to start telling them stuff.

I’ll start with the juicy stuff…. You know, like the newlywed bride who killed her groom shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War because he was a Yankee, she was a Rebel, and he was fixing to join up and fight. A good scandal should intrigue teenagers, right?

Or maybe I’ll start with visual aids! I’ll bring out the Certificate of Thanks signed by Abraham Lincoln and Edwin Stanton that their ancestor Thomas Alcock was given for his service in the 148th Ohio Infantry. That one is really cool.

Whatever the case, I’m going to need accountability. So I’m going to be reporting back here as I make progress. You’ll be stuck learning more about our family history, too! J

Here’s hoping my failure to incorporate this for my kids at an earlier age can be made up somewhat!