Sunday, January 25, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over: Week 1 - Preparing to Research & Establishing Base Practices & Guidelines

As I sat down to read the handout that Thomas MacEntee shared with us that outlined the first week The Tortoise and the Hare.  Remember the story?  It's about a self-righteous, braggart of a rabbit who ridicules the slow-moving tortoise.  Tired of the constant harassment, the tortoise challenges the hare to a race.  As soon as the start flag is dropped, the hare is off, leaving the tortoise in the dust.  After a while, the hare looks back and sees how much of a lead he has and decides that the race is in the bag.  He stops for a snack, and with a full belly, he finds a nice, shady tree and takes a nap.  Meanwhile, the tortoise lumbers along slowly.  Eventually he catches up to the hare, still sleeping.  The tortoise continues on.  When the hare wakes up, he sees the tortoise up ahead close to the finish line.  He starts running, but by the time he catches up, the tortoise has crossed the finished line, winning the race.
of the Genealogy Do-Over, an old story from my childhood popped into my mind.  This is so going to age me, but oh well.  The story, an old Aesop's Fable actually, is

The moral of the story?  Slow and steady wins the race.

See, the hare is the old me.  While I wasn't napping, I was the one racing off all willy nilly into research mode with no plan of attack.  Now I want to be the tortoise, moving slowly, diligently, with a purpose so that when I do reach the finish line I have actually accomplished something.

Now I have accomplished something.  I've completed the first step of this do-over...putting my old research aside (paper and digital).  It's time to move onto the next steps...preparing myself to research and establishing some base practices and guidelines.  As you can probably tell, I'm moving at a tortoise's pace.  If I was on pace with the rest (or most of the group), I'd be in the middle of Week 4, but I'm not going to worry or stress out about being behind everyone else.

Prepare to Research

Who knew that I'd have to prepare myself to start the research process?  I certainly didn't.  In the past, I'd pick an ancestor I wanted to work on, and away I'd go down the rabbit hole for hours at a time.  By the time I took a break, the sun was no longer shining, the skies were dark, my tummy was grumbling with hunger, and not much had been accomplished.  I'd look at all the tabs that were open on my toolbar, and none of them would have anything to do with the ancestor I had originally selected to work on.  I was off chasing bright shiny objects that had nothing to do with my ancestor.

Then there is that record I find, I hit the save button to download a copy to my computer only to find that I already saved a copy of that document.  I certainly don't remember finding that record before, but it's obvious I did as there it is...saved to my computer.  Then I look at the date that it was saved.  Lo and behold, I had located it six months ago.

I have a problem....I admit it.  I'm easily distracted.  I'm sure if I started out with a real plan...a good plan...and willpower, it would help keep me on tract.  It certainly couldn't hurt, but it's going to require some major habit changes.  So I ask myself, where do I go from here?  How do I save myself hours of wasted research time and nothing to show for it?

First, and most importantly, I will have to create a Research Plan before I do anything else.  This means that before I go to, FamilySearch, Google, etc., I have to have something typed up that outlines what I want to accomplish during each research session.  I think for my brick walls, and I have a few, I'll be using a much more detailed research plan.  If I'm just trying to prove the birth, death, marriage, etc. of a specific ancestor, I'll just use a simple research log, with the research objective at the top.  All of this will be kept in OneNote (I'll outline how I have set up OneNote to act as my research log in a separate blog post).  In fact, I plan on using OneNote as one giant research log.  I have decided that when I restart my research, I'll start with my four grandparents.

For compiling my source documents, entering claims, analyzing the data, proving my research objectives, and creating citations, I will be using Evidentia.

Establish Base Practices and Guidelines

Here are a few base practices and guidelines that I have come up with.  I'm sure as I continue with this Genealogy Do-Over, this list will be tweaked and fine-tuned many times.  But for now...

  1. Start with my direct line, and work on one ancestor at a time within each generation (i.e. finish with the grandparents before moving onto the great grandparents).
  2. Don't just collect data on my ancestors.  Get a feel for where they lived, what was going on at the time they were living.  Put them in historical context.  Help them to come alive.
  3. Do an exhaustive search...look into every nook and cranny I can think of to find information that will help me get to know my ancestors.  This includes both online and offline.
  4. Keep a research plan/log for ever ancestor.  Use a detailed research plan for my brick walls.
  5. Be consistent in the naming of my digital files and photos.  Use meta tags.
  6. Complete citations, using Evidence Explained, at the time I save the source record.
  7. No person will be added to my Family Tree Maker Database until I have proven they are my ancestor.  This will also apply when I start research my collateral ancestors.

I am finally finished with Week 1.  I wasn't fast like the hare.  I did a pretty good job at staying on course, working as my schedule and the football playoffs allowed me to work, I stayed calm, and just plodded along, much like the tortoise.  If I keep this up, and I believe that I can win in the end.

I just need to keep with my new mantra...slow and steady...slow and steady.

Now it's onto Week 2.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Changing the Way I Plan on Accomplishing This Task

As Week 2 of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy began (Jan 8, 2015), I find that I'm not even finished with Week 1.  The main culprit is my work and commute schedule.  Monday through Friday, I get up at 4am and leave the house by 5am.  I work 8am-5pm, then don't get home from work until 8 or 9pm.  After eating some dinner and feeding the cats, I don't have much time to do anything before trying to get to bed at 10pm.  I do have the weekends, but half of my Saturday (not every Saturday) is for running errands and grocery shopping.

So I made the decision that I'm just going to have to work the Genealogy Do-Over at my own pace and not get stressed out about not being on the same page as everyone else.  I posted my dilemma on the Facebook page, and someone came back with a great idea.  Instead of referring to it on a week by week basis.  It will be a step by step basis.  Hence, instead of me blogging about Week 1, I'm going to refer to it now as Step 1, then each topic will be a part of that step.

I think then I can keep with it, and actually accomplish something without getting frustrated and stressed.

Now off to re-title and finish my blog post that I started last Tuesday about Part 2 of Step one.  See what I did there.  Off to a good start  now.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Week 1: Setting Aside Previous Research

As mentioned in my previous post, there are a lot of us taking part in Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over that started January 2, 2015.  Knowing I had to work all day on the 2nd, I decided to get started early.  So on January 1st, I started my own Genealogy Do-Over.  I was able to get an early start because Thomas posted the Schedule of Topics for this 13 week endeavor.  Much to my surprise, I got quite a bit accomplished on my day off, but before I get into that, let me tell you what the objectives are for this first week.

Credit for image:  Chinie
at Fab After Forty
The first goal is to set aside all previous research.  While I haven't been doing family research quite as along as others, I still have managed to collect quite a bit in the four years I've been researching my ancestors.

The second goal is prepare to research.  What he meant by this was to think about how I researched in the past.  Well I would just research any chance I got, after work, the wee hours of the morning, all day on the weekends. He also suggested to make a list it items that I must have available to aid me in me in researching successfully.

The third goal for the first week is to establish base practices and guidelines.  He stressed that we spend time going over how we researched in the past, what was and wasn't successful.  The come up with step-by-step practices and guidelines on how we will conduct our research from here on out.  This includes file naming practices, where/how we are going to store our documents, how we are going to retrieve and analyze the information that is gleamed from these documents, what software we are going to use to build our tree and document all the information on our ancestors.  It's a lot to think about.  This last goal is probably, at least for me, the one that is going to require the most thought.

Setting Aside Previous Research

After reading the handout for Week 1, I didn't think the first goal would be a hard one to do, nor did I think it would take very long, it was still found it a bit daunting.  I mean, putting aside, and ignoring for now, all the previous information I had found on my ancestors.  I was wondering how was I going to be able to ignore it, knowing it was in a drawer next to me.  I'm the type of person that, in certain circumstances, when someone tells me not to do something, I want to do it anyways.

I had a decision to make.  It's like when you want to go swimming in a cold lake.  You either walk slowly in to the water, shivering all the way, thinking this is crazy and head back to dry land.  Or you can take off running into the water, and just dive in...completely submerging yourself.  I decided to just dive in and completely submerge myself in doing a complete make-over of how I conduct my family research.

I took a deep breath and got down to business.  The first thing I did was to take all of my spiral notebooks and loose papers and put them in a drawer.  I figured out-of-sight-out-of-mind.  Well see how that works. One think checked off  my To Do List.

Next up was my electronic files.  I have everything in a folder labeled Genealogy. In that folder is everything related to my research.  I moved this folder into another called Genealogy Do-Over Hold File, and made a new genealogy folder called Genealogy 2015.  Within this new genealogy folder, I set up the following subfolders:  !Family Tree Maker, !Group Files, Forms, Subfolder Master File, Surnames, and Techniques and Tools.  I'll get into these folders in another post.

Now that my electronic and paper files were taken care of, next up was the two databases that I use.  I use Family Tree Maker 2014 as my database, and I'm not changing it.  I like the software and am quite comfortable with it.  I know I'm not using it to it's fullest capabilities, but as I continue on this genealogy journey, I plan on learning about all that it can do.  I'm also not deleting my original tree.  It is synced with my online tree, and it has a lot of information in it that I can use as clues when I start my research up again.  Instead, I started a brand new tree called LusbySporie Family Tree - 2015.  I started with myself, then added my parents and both sets of my grandparents.

Next up was my Evidentia database.  I kept my previous database and started a new one called Lusby_Sporie 2015.  I've had the software for a while now, but I only started to seriously use it when I attempted my own version of a Genealogy Do-Over a few months ago with no success.  So it was no hardship to start over with a fresh one since I didn't have a lot of data entered yet.

After that I cleaned out EverNote.  I started to use this as a catch-all for my genealogy and to track my research.  But no matter what I tried, it just wouldn't work the way my brain does.  So instead, I use to to collect various things that I read on genealogy that I think could be helpful in the future.  Especially when I'm at work on my tablet.  I can clip it to EverNote and follow-up on it once I'm home.  For this first step, I went though all the notebooks and notes and decided what to save and what to trash.  Got rid of the notebooks and old tagging system.  The notes I did keep, I retagged with a new system I set up.

The last thing I did was close all my OneNote Notebooks and moved them over to Genealogy Do-Over Hold File.  I really like this software and it works well with my thought processes.  I set up a new Notebook with the Master Notebook Pages that will be used, and also set up a new notebook for the first person I will research once I get all my ducks in a row.  I plan on using OneNote as my research log.

Well, that is where I am at the moment.  My next post will be about preparing to start my research.  That will get more into my folder structure and how I plan to use EverNote, OneNote, and Family Tree Maker 2014.  This will go in tandem with setting up my base practices and guidelines.

Now it's back to work, catch you all on the flip side.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Genealogy Do-Over

On December 15, 2014, Thomas MacEntee announced that he is putting aside 20 years worth of genealogy research and is doing a Genealogy Do-Over in 2015.  He put out a call for anyone interested to join him.  You can read his Original Announcement on why he's decided to do this after 20 years of research.  He's also posted a schedule of topics and he's set up a Facebook Group there we can gather and talk to the 700+ like-minded family researchers that are going to join in this massive undertaking.


To answer the above question...yes, yes, a thousand times yes!!!!!  All aspects of my genealogy, including this blog needs a Genealogy Do-Over.


You are probably asking yourself why would I, or anyone else for that matter, want to put aside all that they had done and start over from the very beginning.  Everyone who is joining in has their own reason(s).  For me, it's pretty simple....I know a lot more about researching one's family history than I did back in 2013 when I first started.  I'm not saying I know everything now, but I sure know and understand a heck of a lot more of what goes into doing proper research, and more importantly, citing the sources that are used to prove that who I say is an ancestor is actually an ancestor.

When I first started, I knew who my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were.  I also had some basic information on my grandparents and great grandparents (i.e. birth dates, death dates, spouses and children).  That information I got from my parents.  I also had a report that a great aunt prepared for a family reunion we had back in 1993 on my paternal line.  My mom gave me all of that paperwork, along with all the paperwork that she had from her maternal and paternal side of the family.

So with great anticipation, I opened up an account at and started inputting names and dates from those files.  Pretty soon I had the beginnings of my first family tree.  It wasn't long before I was collecting all these names, following one shaky leaf after another, adding documents willy-nilly without taking a really good look at them and analyzing them.  I was excited by tree was growing by leaps and bounds.  I was following branches on the East Coast, up to Canada, across the Atlantic to Germany, England, Scotland, Switzerland.

Now so far, I've been pretty lucky with those I've put in my tree as I have yet to find records to disprove that I am related to them, except for one or two.  But because I didn't take the time to really analyze the records, I feel like I just have names in my tree.  Other than my close ancestors, who I knew growing up, I don't know them.  I don't know the reasons they came to America or settled where they did.  I know have any real knowledge to the area they settled.  What the times were really like back when they lived, what their occupation was.

This may sounds strange to most people in general, but I think other family researchers might understand this.  As much as the records will allow, I want to understand the lives and times my ancestors lived.  I want to get to know them as a person...not just as a name.  Then maybe, just maybe, I'll learn a bit more about myself and why I am like I am. I'll be able to see how these ancestors of mine who I've never met, in some small, intangible way, have shaped me into the person I am today.


So now that I've answered the question of Why? I'm doing this, the next question that needs to be answered is How? am I going to do this.

Well the first answer to this question, has been answered by me dusting off this blog and using it once again.  I started this blog back on March 31, 2013.  I was doing pretty good with blogging my research journey, but quit posting on July 23, 2013.

I now plan on not only using this blog to write about my ancestors, but to also write about my restarting my research based on the weekly schedule of topics that Thomas provided.  I haven't decided if I'll strictly follow them or adapt them more to my way of doing things.  I'll have to read them more closely.  I think I'll have a better answer once I have my process set up and start on January 2, 2015.

The second answer to this question has to do with my actual tree.  I have tried this Do-Over twice before, each with their own limited forms of success.  Each time I started over, I also started with a new tree.  Since neither tree has the same information, I've decided to keep them for research purposes.  Last night I started a new tree and titled it LusbySporie Family Tree - 2015.  Eventually those other "starter" trees will be deleted and I will then be left with one fully documented and sourced tree.

I don't have all the how's figured out, but I think I have a pretty good base to work from.  To help me be successful in this Genealogy Do-Over, I plan on utilizing the following tools:
  1. EverNote
  2. Microsoft OneNote
  3. Evidentia
  4. Family Tree Maker 2014
In another blog post, I will explain how I plan on using the above software in my Genealogy Do-Over and the step-by-step process that I plan on setting up.  Hopefully the process that I set up will keep me on task and prevent me from chasing all the shiny new objects that pop up that I end up chasing.

To supplement the above, I will also be using three new tools to aid me in correctly citing my sources and making sure I perform a completely exhaustive search on each ancestor.  Being the genealogy geek that I've proudly become, I had two of these tools on my Christmast list last year, and one was on my list for this year.
  1. Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills
  2. Research Quicksheets
  3. Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones
The Research Quicksheets include:
  • Citing Databases & ImagesCiting
  • Online Historical Resources
  • The Historical Biographer's Guide to Problem Analysis - A Strategic Plan
  • The Historical Biographer's Guide to the Research Process
  • The Historical Biographer's Guide to Finding People in Databases and Indexes

Again, this Genealogy Do-Over will be starting on January 2, 2015.  There is much to do to prepare for this.  I'm ready to start over...what about you?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thomas Washington Lusby (1835-1906)

I took a couple of hours on Sunday using my genealogy database software, Family Tree Maker 2012, to write up a biography of my 2nd great grandfather, Thomas Lusby.  I've been mainly using the database just as a back-up to my online tree at, but lately I've been playing around with all the features and teaching myself about what this program can actually.

I gathered all the facts that had been inputted into the database, along with some additional information I've received from a second cousin, and tried my hand at writing his story.  This is something I'd like to do with all of my ancestors that are in my direct line.  By doing this litter exercise, Thomas became a lot more than just dates and facts.  In some ways, he came alive to me.

I hope you enjoy my story, and if you think we are related in anyway, I'd love to hear from you.

Thomas Washington Lusby

Thomas & Francis J. (Dameron) Lusby (ca 1880s)
Thomas Washington Lusby was born on October 31, 1835 in Westmoreland County, Virginia as the first (and only known) child of John Lusby and Margaret B. Self.  Margaret was the daughter of Moses and Maget Self.  According to family records, Thomas was named for the minister that married his parents, Thomas M. Washington.

Based on the information gathered to date, his father died some time before 1845, as his mother, Margaret, married James B. Moxley on January 7, 1845 in Richmond County, Virginia.  The first census that Thomas appears on is the 1850 US Federal Census.  He was 15 years old and living in Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia on a farm with his mother and stepfather, James Moxley. What's interesting is the fact that he was listed as a pauper on this census.  Also listed was a six year old mulatto named Leviticus Lusby, and his stepbrother, James Edwin Moxley, who was one year old.  It is unknown if Leviticus was the child of John Lusby and a slave or just the daughter one that was owned by Thomas’ parents.

On January 22, 1857, at the age of 21, Thomas married Martha A. (Sebra) Dunaway in Richmond County, Virginia.  Martha was the daughter of Edmond Sebra and Nancy Crowder, and she was also the widow of John Joseph Dunaway.  At the time of their marriage, Thomas became the stepfather of Martha's one year old daughter, Maria H. Dunaway.

During the course of their marriage, Thomas and Martha had four children:

1.     Margaret Ann Lusby was born on February 17, 1858 in Richmond County, Virginia.  She died in 1870 in Richmond County, Virginia.

2.     John J. Lusby was born in October 1859 in Richmond County, Virginia.  He died on October 24, 1892.  John married Laura E. Doggett on February 23, 1887 in Richmond County, Virginia.

3.     Luetta Jane Lusby was born on June 3, 1866 in Richmond County, Virginia. She died on January 3, 1936 in Baltimore, Maryland.  She married Caleb Litchfield Bryant on May 3, 1885 in Richmond County, Virginia.

4.     Martha Ella Lusby was born on September 6, 1868 in Richmond County, Virginia. She married Thomas E. Haynie on March 30, 1886 in Richmond County, Virginia.

According to Richmond County Order Book 31, p. 91, a record found by a genealogist that showed Richard B. Mitchell, administrator of the estate of John J. Dunaway was to pay Thomas Lusby $60 for the for the support of Maria H., who was the infant daughter of John J. Dunaway, for the last three years on May 7, 1860.  As shown in the following paragraphs, Maria is listed as living with Thomas W. and Martha Lusby, her stepfather and mother, on the 1860 and 1870 census.

Thomas next appears on the 1860 US Federal Census where he is living and working as a farmer in Richmond County, Virginia.  He is 24 years old and his personal estate is valued at $200.  Also living with him, at this time, is his wife Martha and the following children:  Margaret (age 2), John J. (age 8 months), and Maria H. Dunaway (age 4).

On June 4, 1861, Thomas enlisted as a Private in Company E of the Virginia 40th Infantry Regiment, which was a volunteer infantry regiment raised in Virginia for service in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.  The regiment was organized on May 30, 1861.  Its members were recruited in Northumberland, Richmond, and Lancaster counties.  It fought mostly with the Army of Northern Virginia.  Prior to the reorganization after Chancellorsville, it was part of the first brigade of A.P. Hill's Light Division.  Field officers were Colonel John M. Brockenbrough; Lieutenant Colonels Fleet W. Cox, Arthur S. Cunningham, and Henry H. Walker; and Majors Edward T. Stakes and William T. Taliaferro.

After serving in the Aquia District, the unit was assigned to General Field's, Heth's, and H.H. Walker's Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia.  It participated in the campaigns of the army from the Sevin Days' Battles to Cold Harbor, then was involved in the Petersburg siege nth of the James River and the Appomattox Campaign.

The regiment sustained 180 casualties during the Seven Days' Battles which was about half its effective force.  The unit lost 4 wounded at Cedar Mountain, had 14 killed and 73 wounded at Chancellorsville, and of the 253 engaged at Gettysburg more than twenty percent were disabled.  Many were captured at Sayler's Creek and only 7 men were included in the surrender on April 9, 1865.  The regiment mustered out on April 9, 1865.

According to his Civil Ward Records, he was present and paid on June 20, 1861, August 31, 1861,
October 31, 1861, and February 28, 1862.  He was recorded as a deserter on May 25, 1862, which was the day before his regiment took part in the Battle at Hanover Court House in Hanover County, Virginia.  Based on the history of his regiment, it appears the last battle he took part in was on April 18, 1862 at Falmouth, Virginia.

Thomas was arrested on May 27, 1863 by the Provost Marshal of the 1st Calvary Division, and was paroled to go north on May 29th, 1863.  No records have been found to explain where he was from the time he deserted in 1862 to when he was arrested a year later.

On June 20, 1869, Martha Lusby died in Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia at the age of 37.  Cause of death and where she is buried is unknown.

Thomas remarried on May 25, 1870 in Richmond County, Virginia.  He married Francis Jane Dameron,
daughter of Charles Y. Dameron and Lucy S. (Douglas) Dameron of Richmond County Virginia.  Thomas was 35 years old, and Francis was 21 years old.

During their marriage, Thomas and Fannie had 12 children:

1.     Charles Edward Lusby was born on August 20, 1871 in Richmond County, Virginia.   He died on June 3, 1886 in Richmond County, Virginia at the age of 14.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

2.      Lucy Margaret Lusby was born in December 1872 in Richmond County, Virginia.  She died in Maryland of Tuberculosis in 1910 at the age of 38.  She's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

3.     Fanny May Lusby was born on August 19, 1875 in Richmond County, Virginia.  She died in Richmond County, Virginia of Diphtheria on September 29, 1878 at the age of 3.  She's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

4.     Thomas Kirk Lusby was born on April 9, 1877 in Richmond County, Virginia, and died on July 15, 1954 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  He married Ina Virginia Richardson on September 7, 1925 in Petersburg, Virginia He's buried at Lebanon Church in Newport News, Virginia.

5.     Frederick Claybrook Lusby was born on January 8, 1880 in Richmond County, Virginia, and died on November 3, 1881 in Farnham District, Richmond County, Virginia of congestion of the brain.  He was only a year old.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

6.     Harry Calhoun Lusby was born on November 7, 1882 in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia, and died on February 18, 1950 of a Cerebral Hemorrhage in Falls Church, Fairfax County, Virginia  He married Anna Dora Cowling in July 1902, and was married again to Kate N. Moore on March 16, 1927 in Alexandria, Virginia.  He's buried at Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in McLean, Virginia.

7.     William George Lusby was born on February 2, 1884 in Richmond County, Virginia, and died of Typhoid on August 18, 1926 in Richmond County, Virginia.  He married Nena Lillian Fones in 1912 in Virginia.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

8.     Theodore Washington Lusby was born on April 10, 1887 in Richmond County, Virginia, and was murdered at the age of 31 in 1918 while living in Ellicott City, Maryland.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

9.     Benjamin Franklin Lusby was born on April 20, 1889 in Richmond County, Virginia and died on June 19, 1968 in Lancaster County, Virginia.  He married Edith Irene Raitz, probably between 1914 and 1915 in Washington, DC.  He also married Willie Ann Perciful around 1949, probably in Lancaster County, Virginia.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia with his first wife, Edith Irene (Raitz) Lusby.

10.   Walter Blair Lusby was born on November 7, 1892 in Richmond County, Virginia, and died about 1904 in Richmond County, Virginia at the age of 12.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

11.   Asa Allin Lusby was born on November 7, 1894 in Richmond County, Virginia and died of Lung Cancer on April 5, 1960 in Arlington, Virginia.  He married Louise Armida.  He's buried at Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

12.    Infant Lusby was born in Richmond County, Virginia, and is buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

On the 1870 US Federal Census, Thomas is listed as living and working as a farmer in Farnham Township,
Thomas W. & Francis J. (Dameron) Lusby w/children
 (ca 1890s)
Richmond County, Virginia.  He is 33 years old.  His real estate is valued at $600, and his personal estate is valued at $125.  Living with him is his wife Fannie (age 21) and the following children:  John J. (age 10), Luetta J (age 5), Martha E (age 1), and his stepdaughter from his first marriage, Maria H. Dunaway (age 14).  There is also a Martha A. Lusby, age 38, also living with them.  (It has not yet been determined who she is.)

When the 1880 US Federal Census rolled around, Thomas is living and working as a farmer in Farnham Magisterial District, Richmond County, Virginia.  He's now 44 years old and his wife, Fannie, is 30 years old.  The census shows the following children living in the household:  John J. (age 19), Luetta (age 15), Martha E (age 12), Charles (age 7), Lucy M. (age 7), Thomas K (age 3 months), and Frederick (age 0 months).
On July 24, 1880, Thomas is listed on the 1880 Agricultural Schedule for Farnham District, Richmond County, Virginia.  At this time, Thomas owned 50 acres tilled land and 119 acres of woodland/forest.  The land was valued at $400 and live stock was valued at $120.  The estimated value of all farm production (including sold, consumed, or on hand) was $150.  The following live stock was recorded:  1 horse, 4 working oxen, 1 milk cow, 1 calf, 20 swine, and 25 barnyard poultry.  In 1879, the farm produced 150 dozen eggs; and he had 12 acres of Indian Corn, which produced 125 bushels; and 6 acres of Wheat, which produced 40 bushes.

Almost all of the records for the 1890 US Federal Census were destroyed in a fire in Washington, DC, and that information is lost forever.

According to Richmond County Virginia: A Review Commemorating the Bicentennial, 1776-1976, Thomas W. Lusby was appointed as the Justice of the Peace in the Farnham District effective July 1, 1895.

At the time of the 1900 US Federal Census, Thomas is living and still working as a farmer in Farnham District, Richmond County, Virginia.  He's now 66 years old, and has been married to Fannie for 30 years.  This census recorded a lot more information about each member of the household.  It showed that Thomas could read, write and speak English.  He owned his farm free and clear.  Fannie is 50 years old, and she's the mother of 11 children, 8 or 9 of whom are still living (the handwriting of the census taker was hard to read).  The following children are living in the household:  Harry (age 17), Willie (age 15), Theodore (age 13), Frank (age 11), Walter (age 8), and Acy A. (age 6).

Thomas Washington Lusby died on February 2, 1906.  He was 65 years old, and according to an inventory of his personal property after his death, Thomas made his share of moonshine

A notice of his passing ran in a local paper, and it sounds like he died of a stroke.  The notice was published in The Virginia Citizen:  Irvington, Virginia on Friday, February 16, 1906.  It reads:

Thomas Lusby, of near Downing's, died very suddenly Friday night before last.  He was stricken with paralysis about five o'clock in the afternoon from which he never rallied, dying at eleven that night.

He is buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County Virginia.  His original tombstone read:

"In Loving Memory of My Husband
Thomas W. Lusby
Born Nov 31, 1833; Died Feb 2, 1906
Not dead, but sleepth"

Unfortunately, his tombstone didn't survive the test of time and has since been replaced by Dennis Smith and Thomas K. Lusby, Jr., my 1st cousin 1x removed and 2x removed respectively.  The headstone lists Thomas and Fanny, as well as many of their children that are also buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - August Raatz: A Letter From My 2nd Grand Uncle to His Niece

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted.  I was working hard and heavy on my family history research, and I guess I got a little burned out.  That all changed last week when I received a scan of this letter from my 2nd cousin that he had found.

I had hit a major brick wall with my 2nd great grandfather, Frank W. Raitz.  All I had on him prior to his immigrating to the United States was his birth year and place - May 1857 and Germany.  This made it pretty impossible to find out where he actually came from and who the rest of his family was.

Now comes this letter from his brother, Carl August Raatz.  To say I was excited doesn't really describe the feeling I had when I read the letter.  It contained enough information that I believe I have now found Frank's father and grandfather, as well as two additional brothers.  I'm still sifting through the information and finding more information.  It's a nice feeling to feel the bricks falling down.

The letter was written in 1934 to my 2nd great grandmother, Edith Irene (Raitz) Lusby.  The letter is dated March 31, 1934, and at the time August Raatz was living in Stettin, Germany.

Mrs. B. F. Lusby

Dear Niece and Children.  I received your letter of Feb 25th 1934 and before I opened it I felt that you are blood from my blood.  I feel very sorry with my family for the fate of your Father, my Brother. To be sure each other that we are relatives, I send you a photo of your parents wich your Father send me in 1889.

I served in the german Army and did not hear anything of him since as long as our Father was alive we had regular corresponding and after his dead I still corresponded with your mother, but only a short time fore she could not read the german language.  Before that your mother wrote me about the accident of your Father.  He is born on May 11, 1857 in Tempelburg, Neustettin (county).  My Father died on April 1894 in Stettin.  Besides me there is only one sister living of your Father, with the name Auguste Raatz.  She is widow and 70 years of age.  Julius and Karl are dead.  There is only the wife of Julius living, my wife and I, my children, wich all send you hearty greetings.

I am married since 1892, had 13 children. Voun of them are still alive, three are married and one daughter 24 years of age is living right at home.  Since 1895 I am working fore the Reichsbahn (Raylway) and was living the last 18 years of service first conductor and foreman.  Since the 1 of Aug 1931 I get a pension from the State of Prussia (Raylway).  On May 18, I will be 68 years old.

Right now I am compiling my pedigree and fore this I ask you fore your help.

Would you please send me the names of your father, mother, sisters, brothers?  All names, first, middle, and
last name with date of birth, marriage and dead and if no such date can be obtained any other date about something that happened on another date.  And if possible the same of your and there children.

If the Lords will and your desire, we can correspond as long as it please you.

Many hearty greetings
Your Onkel
August and Family

p.s.  Can you read the German language

Monday, June 17, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - St. John's - Orphanage or Safe Haven (Part 3)

Here is Part 3 of my Great Aunt Pat's memories from her 5-year stay at St. John's Orphanage in Washington, DC.  You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

St. John's - Orphanage or Safe Haven? (Part 3)

By Pat Geiger

There are so many memories of my five-year stay at St. John’s – the two tall trees at the country house, one designated for the girls, and the other for the boys.  The girls had the better tree.  It was taller, leafier and closer to the road making the top more expansive.  We spent hours sitting at the top of that tree singing our lungs out.  “Springtime in the Rockies,” “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane,” “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbing Along,” “Roll ‘Em Girls, Roll ‘Em,” and all the other #1 hits of the ‘20s.

I remember the swimming pool at the country home, not much of a pool, but how many private pools were there in 1925, outside of Hollywood.  This pool was enclosed in a building with barn-like doors which, when open, made the enclosure three-sided.  The boys and girls had different days to use the pool, and there was a large tent for changing into our bathing suits.  The pool was made of very rough concrete and wasn’t very deep which resulted in a lot of scraped kneeds but little fear of drowning.

I remember Sister Emily sitting smack-dab in front of the large Philco radio in the library listening to “Amos and Andy” with all the kids gathered around her.  If we were lucky she would also listen to “Myrt and Marge.”  If not, the radio was turned off, Sister Emily left the room and we went back to our homework or whatever we were doing at 7 o’clock when “Amos and Andy” came on.

I remember when Maryanne Brooks was adopted.  We were sure her adoptive parents were very rich because when whe returned for a visit she was wearing a pale gree silk dress with a wrist watch.

Not many of the children were adopted since most had at least one parent, but I do remember that the dentist, Dr. Martin, adopted one of the older girls.

Evelyn Robinson had been at the home since she was siz months old.  She grew up there and when she was 18 became a governess.

One memory concerns one of my life’s most embarrassing moments.  For a short while after leaving the home we lived at the Flagler Apartments just a few blocks from St. John’s.  Because of the proximity, it was easy to visit my old friends.  At the home we were required to wear long winter underwear, the little girls’ having a drop seat in the rear while the big girls wore what we called “Sally open splits” because there was a slit the full length of the crotch.  When I knew I was leaving the home, I told everyone the first thing I was going to do when I went home was to take off my winter underwear.

It was December when I left and, of course, my other wouldn’t allow me to change into lightweight underwear in mid-winter.  During my first visit back I was in the playroom with my friends turning carwheels.  My dress came up over my head revealing the still-present long underwear.  I was the laughing stock of the playroom.

I was just as happy to leave the home on December 7, 1930 – I remember the date because it was my mother’s birthday – as I had been that summer day in 1925 when I arrived.  But I did miss my friends and since my mother was remarried to a man ten years her junior and an alcoholic, life outside the home didn’t live up to my expectations.

For the better part of a year each time Elizabeth or I stepped out of line my mother would say, “Do that again and I’ll send you back to the home.”  After hearing this more times than I could count, I silently wished she would stop threatening and just do it.

St. John’s Orphanage operated for 86 years, from 1870 to 1956.  During those years it was often filled to capacity and sometimes, in its later years of operation, had as few as 14 children.  The average number over those years was 90 – 100.  Thirty-three children were admitted in 1925 of which I was one.  The average stay for a child according to the records for 1914-1929 was 3.1 years.  My stay of five years was longer than average and Elizabeth’s seven years longer still.  St. John’s was not a place to dump your child and forget him or her, but a place to keep your child safe until better times came your way.
St. John's Orphanage Country Home
Arlington, Virginia

The orphanage closed in 1956 because the need for its existence had dimished with modern-day thinking and other means of child care, mostly foster homes.  Also, the building housing the city home was old and in need ot expensive repairs.  The neighborhood was no longer residential and not considered a proper environment for children.  The few children remaining at the time of the closing were sent to other institutions or returned home to their parents.

While St. John’s ceased operation as an orphanage in 1956, its service to the community continued.  It became St. John’s Child Development Center located at 4800 MacArthur Blvd, N.W.  It’s name is now St. John’s Community Services and its mission, as stated in the brochure “Celebrating 125 Years of Commitment” is:  “To enable children and adults with developmental disabilities to reach their greatest potential by providing them with support and opportunities that enhance their efforts to make decisions for themselves and that offer them full participation in the life of the community.”

In 1959 the building at 1922 F Street, N.W. was sold for $515,000 to the National Association of Life Underwriters which still occupies the building.  The ten acres on which the country home stood became a housing development many years ago, after having been leased by the U.S. Government in 1941 for the duration of World War II.

While the word “orphanage” has come to mean something less than desirable, personal experience and very vivid memories give a different meaning to the word for me.  To all those who feel sorry for children living in orphanages or are shocked to learn that I spent five years in one, I want to say that those five years were the best give my mother ever gave me.  Rather than being called an orphanage, with all that word’s negative connotations, I prefer to call St. John’s my safe haven because that is truly what it was.

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