Saturday, January 9, 2010

Westbound Day 6 Springfield, OH to Springfield, IL 375 miles

The temperature in Springfield OH this morning is 16.  I have several places to visit around here and then I am off west hoping to get to Springfield IL by dark.

I made it to Springfield IL and was able to explore Springfield, OH as well as Richmond IN  and Centerville IN.

The Springfield OH Clark County Historical Society has an excellent museum in downtown Springfield which I had all to myself this frigid cold, snowy morning.  As I was explaining to one of the volunteers working at the front desk my genealogical road trip west I handed him my card and he immediately told me that one of his card playing buddies is Don Grove.  Of course he assured me he would pass my card to him, who knows he's probably a distant cousin.  Springfield has some fine old 19th century homes and is a prosperous community today.  Two of Sarah and Williams children were born in this area.  But something drew them about 50 miles west from Springfield along the National Road to Richmond IN.

Richmond IN is the county seat of Wayne county and is significant to me as the birthplace in 1866 of William and Sarah's final child, Charles Miller Grove, my great grandfather.  The National Road Visitor Center sells an audio CD driving tour of Richmond which is really excellent and gives you a comprehensive historical tour of this small city.  As with most of the towns and cities along the National Road in the 19th century Richmond was a manufacturing center surrounded by fertile farmland.  Some of the items manufactured here were cars, lawnmowers, pianos, and even phonograph records at the Gennette recording studios.   Hoagy Carmichael recorded there. The Wayne County Historical Museum is excellent. There are both indoor and outdoor exhibits that show the town in the 19th century so I was able to imagine what the area must have looked like in 1866.

About 6 miles further west on the National Road is Centerville IN.  This is important to my story as this is where William enlisted in the Union Army in November, 1862.  William's enlistment papers indicate he was 40 years old, 5' 9 inches with dark hair and eyes.  He was enrolled in Co. B 24th Regiment of Indiana Infantry Veteran Volunteers.
 In 1862 Centerville was the Wayne County seat which may be the reason the army was enlisting men there instead of in the larger city of Richmond.  In 1873 Richmond convinced the courts to move the county seat to Richmond from Centerville.
William served in the Army and saw action at the Siege of Vicksburg but was frequently in hospital with dysentery.  He was discharged in 1865 in Galveston TX and returned to Indiana.

After Centerville IN the next documented records of William and Sarah's presence is in Liberty Township KS in 1873.  So I am headed to Liberty Township which is just west of Parker KS which is about 11 miles from Osawatomie KS which is about 40 miles south of Kansas City.  It should be obvious that William and Sarah settled in the heart of rural Kansas.  More on Parker later.

So why am I in Springfield IL?  There are two reasons.  As I indicated in my December 13, post researching only one surname is showing a very thin slice of one's ancestry.  My great grandfather Charles Miller Grove married my great grandmother Kate Short in 1892.  Other genealogists have supplied me with documentation on my Short family line and they have their roots in Roodhouse, IL in Greene County.  Most of them are buried in the Short Cemetery in Greene County.  Since I have already logged almost 1600 miles in my journey I thought it appropriate that I visit these ancestors' graves also.  So as I leave here I will angle off toward Roodhouse.

Reason  #2.  I recently found my father, John Virgil Grove's birth certificate and discovered the address where my grandparents were living when he was born in November, 1925.  So in addition to a side trip to Roodhouse I am also going to get a picture of 1205 S. Eighth St in Springfield.

Of course since the last time I visited the Abraham Lincoln sites I was about 12 I thought I owe it another visit.  My FBLS book club members will appreciate this since we read the Doris Kearns Goodwin book last year which revived my interest.

Good to hear from you Michelle Lafleur.  Thanks for the New Salem info Chris.  Hi Emma the BFCCPS sign is enjoying the trip.  Andrew I saw some kids playing hockey in Indiana today.  They were skating on a frozen farm pond. It's -2 in Springfield as I write this.  As I scan the weather I have been in it seems I left the more moderate temperatures in Boston and headed in to the frozen plains.  I hope I get some normal  January temperatures soon.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Westbound Day 5 Uniontown, PA to Springfield, OH 307 miles

About 3" of snow has fallen overnight.  The temp this morning is 11 with a windchill of -1.  Roads seem to be salted but the forecast is for blowing scattered snow all the way west.

So far this has been my high mileage day.  Despite the frigid temperatures and persistent snowfall and wind I had a great day.  I was able to visit the Fayette County Courthouse.  Since most of Uniontown was frozen closed there was little traffic and only a handful of people doing deed research.  Their records are well indexed and within only a short time I found a deed for the sale of land in Masontown by Shepherd B Grove to Charles Bohen recorded October 14, 1825.  This deed along with the baptism record (see post of December 13, 2009) provides further further evidence that Shepherd once lived in Masontown, PA and that is the likely location of William's birth.

Of course I had to visit Masontown.   It's a small town approximately 10 miles from Uniontown.  Jacobs Lutheran Church is a rural church surrounded by a cemetery. I would have never found it if I hadn't had my GPS which took me over some incredibly rural roads that had only been slightly plowed and the wind was causing drifts.  In many cases I was the first set of tire tracks down the road.  But the effort was worth it because not only did I get to see the site of William's 1822 baptism, I also found the graves of John Grove and his wife Mary Brown Grove at this cemetery.  These are William's grandparents although he was born long after their deaths in 1811 and 1812 respectively.

The Grove westward migration truly begins with leaving Pennsylvania.  My research, and this trip, confirms that my Grove ancestors prior to William and Sarah were concentrated in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland.  Based on the birth of their children I know that William and Sarah left West Virginia sometime between 1853 and 1857.  Since Franklin Shepherd was born in Springfield, OH in 1857 and Edward Dunlap was born in Urbana, OH in 1860 it appears they were the first Grove's to cross the Ohio River and head west. The topography of the land drastically changes when you cross the Ohio River at Wheeling WV into Ohio.  The hills, valleys, ravines, immediately flatten out and the mid-west farmland begins.  It's hard to imagine how any of those westward travelers made this journey without automobiles whether they were crossing the Alleghenies or Appalachians or Rockies or Sierra Madres it had to be a welcome sight when the land stretched out before them as compared to the mountainous east.   Once you cross the Ohio River at Wheeling, WV the land seems to stretch out before you and you can see the west horizon.

It appears William and Sarah, like many Americans in the mid-19th century, followed the National Road west.  By 1850 when the railroads reached the Ohio River from the east the National Road began its decline since there was now an alternative to reaching the west.  But for most travelers enroute west of the Ohio, the National Road provided the way.  It reached Vandalia, IL in 1839 so it provided a paved surface for William and Sarah to follow to Richmond IN.  Today that route is closely approximated by I-70.  Prior to the mid-20th century construction of the interstate highway system the National Road was US Route 40.  In places US Route 40 still exists and I exited I-70 for about 40 miles and followed US Route 40 toward Columbus OH.  All along this route you can see references to the National Road.  It provides the main street of many Ohio towns on its route.  You can see stone markers at certain major intersections.  It certainly is not a "fast" route west today since there are stoplights and many crossroads but I'm sure I made better time on it than William and Sarah and the kids, Cynthia, John, Franklin, and Edward.

Tomorrow I am bound for Richmond, IN, the birthplace of my great grandfather, Charles Miller Grove in 1866.  I will also visit Centerville, IN where William enlisted in the Union Army in November, 1862.

Thanks for the emails Michele Murphy, Julia Holloway, Shannon Jordan, Kathy Noren, Jim & Stella Mainero, John Burkhardt.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Westbound Day 4 Martinsburg, WV to Uniontown, PA 195 miles

The westbound weather forecast is 1-3" of snow.  I am doing more Berkeley Co. exploring this morning and leave for Uniontown this afternoon.

About 30 years ago I wrote to the Berkeley County Courthouse seeking the license for the marriage of William and Sarah.  I knew they married in Martinsburg in 1846 but I wanted a copy of the license or some other documentation.  My inquiry was answered by Don Wood who was President of the Berkeley County Historical Society.  He sent me notarized copies of the marriage license and a record of the death of Mary Isabelle Grove, William and Sarah's first child who died at age 2 and was buried in Darkesville Cemetery according to the county records.

Just as I was leaving Martinsburg today I thought I would stop into the Berkeley Historical Society's headquarters on Race St. just to see if anyone was there.  The sign on the door said they were only open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays in the winter.  Since I was in Martinsburg on Wednesday and Thursday I assumed I would find no one there.  I was in luck.  There were two volunteers working. I explained I was leaving Martinsburg after spending two days there. I was just curious to see if they had any Grove information that I was not already aware of.  After 5-10 minutes of explaining who I am and how I am retracing my Grove family migration I let them know that Don Wood had mailed me information many years ago. As my luck would have it of course it was Don Wood I was speaking to.  He immediately pulled the Grove family file and there were my letters from 30 years ago asking for information.  I spent about an hour there.  Don Wood confirmed the abundance of Grove's still living in the area.  He also confirmed that related family names are Bowers, and Van Metre's.

Next stop was Darkesville.  I presume William and Sarah buried their two year old daughter within proximity of their home in 1849.  This would mean they lived somewhere near Darkesville which is just 7 miles south of Martinsburg.  I visited the cemetery in 1981 and it was totally overgrown and almost in accessible.  Don Wood let me know that it had been cleaned up since then and I would be able to walk it easily  but he doubted I would find a marker for Mary Isabelle.  He was right.  I couldn't find any readable Grove markers but it was the same cemetery of my 1981 visit.
I left Martinsburg about 1:30 pm headed for Uniontown, PA but I got side tracked.  The first diversion was in Williamsport MD where I was able to visit the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal aqueduct.  That was a great find, totally unexpected but I had this national site to myself.  The canal parallels the Potomac River and in the early 19th century it was another east west route.  Today it is a bike/walk trail from Cumberland MD in western Maryland to DC in the east.  My second diversion was Ft. Frederick in Maryland.  This is also a national historical site.  It is  preserved just as it looked as a defense of the country during the French/Indian War which pre-dated the US Revolution.  This was considered a outpost on our western frontier.

Again, the best part about visiting these places on a 20 degree January day is I HAVE THE PLACE TO MYSELF.  Just as I experienced at Antietam I was the only person there.  If you have ever visited a popular historical site in the summer during peak tourist season you often have to imagine what the place would look like with no one there.  Well I get to experience it that way.

The trip from Ft. Frederick into Uniontown was uneventful  except for the beauty of the Allegheny Mountains.  I  was totally unaware of how mountainous western Maryland is.  It reminds me of New Hampshire with stunning views across valleys, rivers, and gaps.  I followed I 68 west, also called the National Freeway, since it follows the original National Road which became US Route 40.  I have a hypothesis that William and Sarah (and probably other Grove's) migrated west along this road since their third child, Franklin Shepherd was born in Springfiled, OH; their 4th child Edward Dunlap was born in Urbana, OH and their 5th and final child Charles Miller was born in Richmond, IN.  I 68 deviates from US Route 40 but I followed Route 40 north into Fayette Co. PA.

That two lane highway climbs and descends some pretty tough grades, particularly Mt. Summit which descends into Uniontown.  I'm glad I got through that stretch since it began to snow just as I reached my hotel in Uniontown.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Westbound Day 3 Martinsburg, WV; Hagerstown, MD; Sharpsburg, MD 99 miles

I decided this morning that there is too much to see in this vicinity to try to do it in one day so I am spending two nights in Martinsburg.  I know that my great, great grandmother Sarah Miller Grove was born here and she and William married here in 1846.  They had 3 children here, Mary Isabelle who died at age two and is buried in nearby Darkesville, John William and Cynthia Hester both survived to adulthood and died in the early 20th century in Kansas(Cynthia died in the 1918 flu epidemic).  Spending an extra day here also lets me explore Antietam Battlefield in nearby Sharpsburg, MD.  William and Sarah had left this area by the time of the Civil War but oddly enough I just learned that in the Reformed Cemetery in Sharpsburg, MD are the graves of Jacob Graff and his wife Catherine Stalie Grove (see spelling change in earlier post).  They both died in 1819 and 1823 respectively long before the Civil War.  They are William's great grandparents.  My Grove roots run deep here so there was plenty to see.

I have visited Gettysburg Battlefield twice so I pretty much knew what to expect at Antietam.  Although January is not the ideal time for outdoor touring it does have its advantages.  I had the battlefield to myself.  What a cool experience to walk through the entire area alone. I kept thinking the only way this could be better is if Ken Burns was telling me all about the battle.   I got some great pictures that were not marred by other people and their cars, tour busses, etc.  Antietam was the bloodiest one day battle in the history of American wars.  Yes, much bloodier than June 6, 1944, invasion of Normandy.  Over 23,000 died in the battle at Antietam that day.  The battlefield is rolling hills and farmland and not marred (at least not yet) by encroaching development.

In Hagerstown I stopped briefly at a cemetery known as the Grove Family Cemetery. I'm not sure why the Find-a-Grave website calls this the Grove Family Cemetery.  There is only one Grove marker in the small plot situated in the middle of a cornfield surrounded by a gated fence.  Luther Grove is the only Grove marker in this plot. But I had to visit the place.  It was unique.  It literally borders the Hagerstown, MD airport and had it not been for this family plot I'll bet the airport would have expanded into this field.  Other graves in this plot were of the Brumbaugh family members.

This area is rich with American history.  The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal has a visitor center in Williamsport only seven miles from Martinsburg.  This canal plays into the Grove migration west as the family seems to have migrated west along routes that the canal followed which later evolved into the route US highway 40 follows west through the Alleghenies into Ohio and the west.

Martinsburg seems to be a fairly thriving city today.  I visited here in 1981 when we were on a family vacation that started in Warren, MI and went as far south as Virginia Beach and included visits to Gettysburg, Harper's Ferry, Washington DC, Skyline Drive and Martinsburg.  In 1981 I snapped a few quick pictures and spent the night but no real sightseeing.  The place now has a mall, all the required franchise eateries, big box stores, and over night accommodations all clustered along I-81.  The downtown area seems to be mainly surviving on the business that a county seat requires.  There are plenty of attorney's offices....and oh yes a brilliant architect no doubt....

Now that I have plenty of documentation on my Grove ancestors I have become curious about their movements around the region.  What drove them to go from Fayette County PA east to Martinsburg, WV and then back west again to Springfield, OH and on to Richmond, IN.  Were there family connections in those places?  I speculate that the reason William and Sarah went to Kansas was the opportunity for free land due to the Homestead Act.  This is pure speculation on my part.  But I want to learn what attracted them to the other locations.  In 1843 the B and O railroad came to Martinsburg which brought growth and prosperity.  William would have been 21 at that time.  Did he come to Martinsburg to work and then met Sarah?  Or was he already in Martinsburg since his father Shepherd appears on the 1840 census in Berkeley County?  I'm hoping this trip will uncover some answers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Westbound Day 2 New Holland, PA to Martinsburg, WV 200 miles

Don't be misled by the title of this post.  The distance from New Holland, PA to Martinsburg, WV is about 149 miles.  I logged 200 miles on the odometer today.  So my 51 miles of driving around Lancaster, PA makes up the difference.

I began by going cross country (read, no double lane restricted access roads) from New Holland to Route 340 which meanders to Lancaster (city).  You really get an appreciation for farmland.  Makes me think this is what America would look like if there had been no Industrial Revolution.  The country is rolling farmland all well manicured and neat.    The landscape is dominated by huge silos and plowed fields.  True farming communities populated, it seems, by Mennonites/Amish.  The first time you encounter a horse drawn buggy on a 25 degree, frigid, windy day in January it's a novelty and you try to get a picture without drawing attention to it.  But after similar encounters all day in all places (I so wanted to take a picture of the buggy parked outside the Target) it becomes no more unusual than a pick up truck would be in the Boston burbs.

This sight was a surprise...a team of four mules spreading fertilizer.  Not as common as the buggy commuters, but this was not the only farmer I spotted doing this.  It must be the time of year to fertilize as the aroma of manure was common in the area.  I spent most of the morning driving around East Earl Township.  This is the northeast corner of Lancaster County and according to a map in the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society this township has the greatest concentration of "Old Amish".  These people seem to reflect the popular notion we have of the Amish.  I learned at the museum the ways of the Mennonites/Amish range from very conservative to less-so and cannot be stereotyped anymore than one could stereotype all Catholics.  This is also the area that my ancestor Hans Graf was said to have originally settled.

About 10 miles from East Earl Township is the Lancaster Mennonite Museum which I had programmed into my GPS along with the address I had of the nearest Starbucks.  I thought I would go to the museum first then to Starbucks.  What a great surprise the musuem is directly across the street from the Starbucks.
I spent almost two hours here. There is a great bookstore and friendly staff.  The library is well maintained and it contained both Volume I and II of the Groff book.  They had a genealogical pedigree chart showing the descendants of Hans Graf originally drawn in 1867 and updated in 1932.  I was able to buy a facsimile of this and I will pore over it to determine my line.  As I paid for the chart the cashier told me she should get one since she too is a descendant of Hans (we both agreed we could use his first name since we are "family").  Here is a bit more about Hans.

It took about 2.5 hours to get from Lancaster to Martinsburg.  My route took me through Harrisburg, PA, across the Mason-Dixon line into Hagerstown, MD across the Potomac River into West Virginia.  In keeping with my efforts to eat local cuisine I can't decide whether to go to Waffle House or Chick fil-A, both within sight of my hotel room.  I am in the "south" after all.

I've heard from Jim and Stella Mainero, Steve Loo, Pam Hall, Janey Price, Aunt Jo Kocourek, Jim and Jean Smith keep reading.  To all my Fugitive Bill Literary Society members I will not be at the meeting on Thursday, I should be in Ohio along the National Road US Route 40.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Westbound Day 1 Norwood, MA to New Holland, PA 389 miles

After almost 72 hours of moderate to heavy snowfall in the Boston area overnight, today was bright, clear, and cold.  I got on the road about 8:30 bound for my first family connection stop in East Stroudsburg, PA.  My father's first cousin Betty Ann George is in East Stroudsburg.  We had a good visit, went through old Cliff family photos and caught up on her family and mine.

From East Stroudsburg to New Holland is about a 2.5 hour drive and the GPS worked great getting me to my first night in New Holland, PA which is in Amish country in Lancaster County.

Now I have never claimed to really understand the Amish faith, other than what our mass media tells us.  I'm pretty sure I missed hearing about Amish (Dutch) cooking but I was really surprised with my meal at Yoder's Restaurant and Buffet in New Holland.  It's a good thing it was a buffet because it gave me chance to sample ham balls, pork and kraut, potato filling, baked oatmeal, beef stew, buttered noodles, stewed tomatoes with cheese sauce.  I think I've discovered a new American cuisine, well at least new for me.

East Earl Township is near here and I intend to scout a few of the Amish museums in the area and do some genealogical research on the Groff and Grove surname at the Lancaster Historical Society.  I've already noticed several Groff references in the area.  Groffdale Road is a well traveled Lancaster County route.  And the placemat at Yoder's advertised Groff's Auto Repair.  I'm pretty sure I share in this gene pool.

Day 2 should end with me in Martinsburg, WV.