Friday, March 28, 2008

What! I have an Accent????

This is way too good to be true. Thomas MacEntee of “Destination: Austin Family” found this wonderful little quiz that tells you what kind of an American accent you have. Several of my genea-blogger compadres have taken the test themselves. (They are such a fun group!)

If you want to check out your own accent, you can take the quiz at

Thomas's post,, talks about his own interest in accents.

My results from the quiz say that I speak Inland Northern American English.

You may think you speak “Standard English straight out of the dictionary” but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like “Are you from Wisconsin?” or “Are you from Chicago?” Chances are you call carbonated drinks “pop.”

Bingo! Did I not just blog about this very thing in my recent post, “Squawkers and other Regionalisms?”

Wikipedia has a wonderful article about the Inland North Dialect that you can read about here: A cool map shows the region for this dialect. For an equally cool map of all the dialects check out this url:

For the record, I break the dialect when I pronounce the word “on” to rhyme with “dawn” instead of “don.” Hey, so I'm not as perfect as you thought!

My hunch is that the majority of you taking the test will find that you also have The Inland North accent. If not, chances are you speak The Midland dialect.

Thanks, Thomas, for a fun couple of hours — albeit not very productive ones.

Until Next Time!

Note this post first published online, March 28, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Do Not Attempt to Adjust That Picture

There is nothing wrong with your computer monitor. Do not attempt to adjust that picture. The Generations Network (parent company of is now in control of transmission. Okay, I borrowed and tweaked that quote from the opening of that old sci-fi favorite, “The Outer Limits.” You may feel, however, as if you've landed in your own episode of the “Outer Limits” the next time you visit one of your favorite GenWeb sites.

If you haven't been reading any genealogy blogs or newsletters in the past week, you missed an important bit of news. Ancestry announced that the “Web address for all RootsWeb pages will change from to” You can read the entire announcement here:

As you can imagine, there have been a few interesting posts about these changes. Kimberly Powell's “Kimberly's Genealogy Blog” at gives two interesting posts on the subject. The first is “ Being Transplanted to” at

A second post called “USGenWeb - Where Are They Moving?” has some interesting details on what is happening at the various GenWeb sites. Linkpendium and Cyndi's list must be going crazy trying to keep up with the massive rootsweb defections. You can read that post at

Randy Seaver's “Genea-Musings” targeted some interesting statistics for both the Ancestry and Rootsweb sites that you can read about at and

A follow up message appeared on the Rootsweb Newsroom on March 17:

- will still bring you to the RootsWeb homepage after the domain change. We will be redirecting all of the old URLs.
- We are not changing anything on RootsWeb other than the URL. We will still offer the same features and support.
- RootsWeb is now and will remain a free online experience.
- Your data will not be taken away from you. We host the mailing lists, message boards, sites etc. but you own the information that you post or upload.

I remain healthily skeptical of these changes. I hope the follow up message posted at the Rootsweb Newsroom turns out to be true - not only for today, but the foreseeable future.

Until Next Time - Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note: This post first published online, March 26, 2008 at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, March 24, 2008

Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

So last week I dropped in on the Ottawa County Genealogical Society for its March meeting at the Ida Rupp Public Library in Port Clinton. Now, normally when I am about to do anything that might make me look stupid, I like to clue you, my faithful readers, in on it. In this case, I calculated the chances of making a fool out of myself were rather high, and therefore, I decided that while my discomfort might garner a laugh and a high five from any sadists who read my posts, my own sense of self-preservation warned me to say absolutely nothing about my little adventure.

As it turned out, I had a blast. I'm still not sure that my topic was well chosen — I think it was a case of me preaching to the choir, but those hearty souls who listened to me talk turned out be pretty good sports. They stayed attentive, laughed in all the right places (whooh - nothing worse then being unappreciatively funny), and asked questions at the end of the talk.

This was my first foray into public speaking, unless you count my brief career teaching tax classes a few years ago. It's one thing to sit safely behind my computer keyboard, pecking away madly, sometimes chuckling at my own odd turn of phrase, and quite another to stand defenseless, nary a thesaurus in sight, in front of strangers with only my mind and mouth for back up. YIKES!

I want to thank Mary Hamann who invited me to the meeting. Mary understood my “Nervous Nelly” tendencies and my control freak need to get to the meeting early to make sure my laptop and her projector would make friends and play well together. Thank goodness, they did, or I would have wasted a boatload of time on a useless PowerPoint presentation.

If any of you reading this have Ottawa County roots and have thought about attending one of Ottawa County Genealogical Society's meetings, I say, “Go for it!” They are a nice, informed group of people, who know how to make a stranger feel like a friend. Thanks OCGS — you were awesome! I enjoyed meeting all of you and you made the whole experience a very pleasant one.

For information about the Society and its meetings be sure and check out their Web site at

Until Next Time - Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, March 24, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, March 17, 2008

Beating A Hasty Retreat

People have this tendency to write apologetic posts when they have not posted to their blogs for a lengthy period. In lieu of me doing that, I thought I would let you know in advance that I probably won't be posting at all in the coming days.

I have a lot on my plate right now, and it feels like I am continually juggling my time, trying not to let anyone down. But I do - let people down, that is. So this week the readers of this blog get to be disappointed in me — join the club! It's becoming a rather large membership.

Not writing feels like a self-imposed punishment. I write to vent, to inform, to amuse (mostly myself), to think out loud and sometimes, it feels like I write to breathe. So like your momma told you when you were four, this is going to hurt me way more than it hurts any of you.

So until next time - happy ancestral digging!

PS If you are looking for a genealogical blog fix, may I suggest you go to Kimberly Powell's “About Genealogy” column and look at her list of Genealogy Blogs and Bloggers at Many of my personal favorites, as well as some of my own genea-blogger friends are well represented there - Terry Thornton, Jasia, Randy Seaver, FoonoteMaven, Denise Olson, Janice Brown, Craig Manson, Becky Wiseman, Juliana Smith, Megan Smolenyak, Blaine Bittinger, Kimberly Powell, Chris Dunham, Joe Beine …

Note this post first published online, March 17, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Art of Painting Pictures

The little girl hurt. She thought she could hear her daddy's voice. She wanted to tell him about her pain, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't talk and tell him that her throat hurt. She opened her eyes, and saw the sheets of her bed and thought it strange that a hospital would have red sheets.

Her mother in the waiting room didn't have the luxury of her daughter's confusion. When she saw the nurse running through the hall, she knew instantly what the red soaked nurse's uniform meant. Something had gone wrong. She knew, as only a mother could, that the red blood splashed over the front of the nurse's clothing was that of her child.

It was a simple procedure, a tonsillectomy. Children had them all the time. The little girl, 7 years old, had suffered repeated bouts of bronchitis, and the family physician had said the young girl's tonsils were bad and needed to be removed. It would be an adventure, the mother had told her daughter, and the 7-year-old listened to her mother's words and believed them.

Instead, when the physician finally came and found the woman, his own eyes laced with concern, he told her they were trying to stop the child's bleeding and doing everything they could. He shook his head, patted her hand and walked back to be with his patient.

The mother stood there by herself. Her husband, lulled by the routine nature of the surgery, had gone to work that day. The mother dazed and in disbelief, waited until they came to take her to her daughter's bedside in recovery.

The little girl looked small and fragile. The mother thought her heart would break. The little girl moved in and out of consciousness, only vaguely aware of her surroundings those first two days in recovery

The mother left that first night exhausted, and came back early the next day. She stayed at her daughter's bedside, leaving only long enough to shower, change and occasionally sleep. The child, once reunited with her mother, felt the comfortable safety that she always felt in her mother's presence, never once understanding how close she had come to death.

The child never saw, never felt the fear behind her mother's smile, she heard only her mother's comforting voice, talking of things they would do when the girl was better. The mother's words were strong, and the picture painted in the little girl's head so clear, that not for even the tiniest of moments did the little girl think it would be otherwise.

Slowly the little girl recovered. The surgery, the hospital were just a bad memory for the girl, nothing more.

As the daughter grew, again and again, as life presented each new difficulty, she would come to her mother, listening intently as her mother found ways to paint a picture of a positive outcome, no matter how serious the problem.

When the girl grew into womanhood and the problems became larger, the mother's words continued to create positive pictures. Even when the young woman didn't believe, her mother's words were so powerful, so filled with detail that the young woman moved forward on faith alone at the sound of her mother's words.

It happened when the young woman lost her own baby daughter. The mother drew the picture of another baby, this one healthy framed in the young woman's arms and it was so.

It happened when the young woman, in the midst of a broken heart and marriage, listened as the mother painted the picture of another love, a perfect partner for the young woman, and this too became so. And so it went, the mother teaching the daughter how to paint the pictures in her mind.

It would come as no surprise that the mother, who for years had been painting pictures in the mind, now put those pictures on canvas, sharing her talent with friends, family — charming even strangers with her work.

And the daughter, who had not inherited her mother's artistic talents, found her own way to create pictures, creating them with words.

Though many women have had an impact on my life, none more so than my own mother. It has been her strong words that have propelled me through the rough times (tonsillectomies and all) and helped me soar through the good.

This tribute is written for you, Momma — for your wit, wisdom and warmth and most of all, for teaching me to paint pictures. I love you.

Until Next Time

This post is in honor of National Women's History Month and the Carnival of Genealogy whose topic is to “Write a tribute to a woman on your family tree, a friend, a neighbor or historical female figure who has done something to impact your life.”

Note this post first published online, March 13, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunset after a Blizzard

Most of my readers (all five of you) know what happened here in our own little corner of the world this past weekend. We had, at the very least, blizzard like conditions, if not an actual blizzard.

It started out with a light friendly snow Friday morning and by Friday night we were at a level two here in Sandusky County. (For those of you who live out of state; see snow level definitions listed after the post. They range from one to three, three being the worst.)

By Saturday, the wind had picked up, snow came down in a horizontal path, and the county declared a level three, snow emergency. Now normally Al and I are on top of these things and are prepared, but not being able to go out on Saturday changed our normal weekend schedule.

For one thing, we get groceries on Saturday. We had ample food in the house so there was no threat of starvation. My Pepsi and chocolate supply, thank goodness, were fully stocked, but there were still some necessities missing from our larder.

My husband treats himself once a week to a pint of ice cream. I know, I too think he is insane to continue this weekly treat when temperatures are below freezing but the man loves his ice cream. So he moped around like a kid on Christmas Eve who has learned that Christmas has been delayed a couple of days.

In my view, the most serious shortage involved the lack of salt-coated nourishment. I considered taking the saltshaker and just dousing my tongue with it, but that would have meant removing the afghan I was warmly wrapped in, and leaving my cozy perch on the living room sofa — too little reward for so much effort.

On the second Saturday of the month, Al and I have a ritual of going out to eat for breakfast. We started this ritual as a means of self-preservation when we first married and found ourselves heading a houseful of six children, aged 8 to 16. We called it “Al and Terry time” and in the beginning, it was a weekly observance.

After a while, we felt guilty excluding the children from this weekly treat, and one Saturday “surprised” them and took them all out to breakfast. Oh, what a mistake!

They complained because we made them get up too early. They complained about the lack of menu selection. They complained that the whole dining process took too long. They complained that their younger brother was staring at them. They complained for the sheer joy of complaining. And they complained that it was a dumb idea, and in this last complaint, they were absolutely right.

Al and I never took them out for breakfast again, nor did we feel the slightest twinge of guilt. Ever.

As I write this, we have been down graded to a level one. My husband is anxious to get to the store and pick up his weekly treat and I want to make sure that I am stocked up on the appropriate salt laden goodies.

We went from a wind rattling blizzard to the quiet stillness that often follows a storm. As daylight slowly faded, I noticed that the sun, for the first time in several days, began to poke its way through the cloudy sky. It was a comforting sight.

I captured its brief appearance as I leaned out my front door. I’m calling it “Sunset after a Blizzard.”

Until Next Time – Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note: For those of you out of state who have no idea what all this level stuff means, I will quote you from OCSWA (Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness):

LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be icy. Drive carefully.

LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roads. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work.

LEVEL 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one else should be out during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel or a personal emergency exists. All employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. Those traveling on the roads may subject themselves to arrest.

Be sure to memorize this – there may be a test!

Note this post first published online, March 10 , 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Friday, March 7, 2008

Oh No, They Didn't !

The 24-7 History Circle Blog ( had a short piece about Ancestry's New Volunteer Indexing Program (VIP) that they will be launching soon.

To quote Juliana, “This program will allow you to participate in transcribing selected portions of new record collections. The information that is transcribed creates an index of the collection that is searchable, thus allowing you to search for information about your ancestors.”

Hmm — I wonder where they got this idea? Not to be crass, but uh, what's in for me?

In search of answers, I clicked on the link provided by 24-7 ( The Web page claims loudly:


Then Ancestry goes on to ask the question — “Would you like to give back to the family history community…”

So let me get this straight. I am going to do their work for them, help them get indexes online more quickly so they can charge people to view these indexes and/or the actual records, and oh, end up paying my yearly annual rate with no reduction for services rendered?

Am I also helping to eliminate the job of some decent human being now on Ancestry's payroll? Am I being a tad bit cynical?

Who knows — nothing was explained. Maybe I shouldn't be so worried about those pesky details. After all, I will have that nice warm glow that comes from “giving back” to the family history community with the added bonus of knowing that Ancestry thinks of me as a VIP. Sweet!

And if you are buying all that, I have an invisible tree in my basement growing dollar bills that I would be happy to sell you, cheap.

Until Next Time...

Note this post first published online, March 7, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A little of this, a little of that


Just a quick reminder that Sandusky County Kin Hunters will be meeting at the Sandusky Township Hall, 2700 Oak Harbor Road, this Sunday, March 9 at 2 p.m. John Tate will be the featured speaker, and he will have a question and answer session. Visitors are welcomed.

Sandusky County Kin Hunters is a member of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. For more information go the Kin Hunters Website at or contact the organization at


The 43rd Carnival of Genealogy has arrived. I've read all 32 posts. They are an interesting bunch, my fellow Geneabloggers. The subject, of course, was technology. More specifically, what hardware, software and Web sites contribute to each of our genealogical quests. Some answers enlightened, some answers surprised but all answers entertained. If you would like to see what other genealogists deemed important, you can read about it here:


The footnoteMaven, who has designed many of the posters for the Carnival of Genealogy has, at Jasia's request, posted a gallery of these designs on her blog. FM is very creative and you will want to check these out at


Harold Henderson at, “Midwestern Microhistory,” keeps his readers informed about research in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. To keep abreast of what's going on in the world of Midwestern genealogical research, you need to check in with Harold's blog. Harold has given the Desktop Genealogist its second nod, by mentioning the post “Pension File Stories: Louisa Ish Smathers, Disappearing Woman.” Thanks Harold!

Until Next Time - Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, March 6, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Her Inalienable Right to the Elective Franchise

In precinct A of Roscoe, Ohio, Catherine Christofel, accompanied by her daughter, went to the polls at noon on November 2, 1920, and did the one thing that the 93-year-old woman had never been allowed to do before, she voted. When asked by a reporter of the Coshocton Tribune who would get her vote in this, her first presidential election, Catherine smiled and said, “I'm not telling my politics, and besides the ballot is secret.”

In Athens, Ohio, the 90-year-old mother of a congressman arrived at 5:30 AM to wait in line for the polls to open so she too could cast her very first ballot. In Indiana, the Indianapolis Star reported five sisters, aged 73 to 94, would also be voting in their first presidential election.

And so it went, across the country, women made their way to polling places and exercised the same rights as their fathers, brothers and husbands — the right to vote. The 19th Amendment that conferred this right had been proposed on June 4, 1919, and on August 18, 1920, the amendment received the necessary two-thirds majority of state ratification when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment. It was signed into law by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby on August 26. The amendment read:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

In Georgia and Mississippi, where the state legislatures had previously rejected the 19th Amendment, women were told they could not vote. These states claimed a requirement of registration six months prior to an election in order for an individual to vote. Either women who showed up at polling places were turned away or their ballots destroyed.

The road to women's suffrage had been a long one. Catherine Christofel would have been 21 when the first Woman's Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with the help of Lucretia Mott, created a written document called “Declaration of Sentiments” which proposed, among other things, extending voting rights to all citizens of the United States.

After the Civil War, this idea of universal suffrage was embraced by those supporting both black and woman Suffrage. Frederick Douglass, a former slave turned statesman and reformer, was an outspoken supporter of both black and woman suffrage. However, with the proposal and impending ratification of the 14th and 15th amendments, some women in the movement were angry at Douglass's push for the two amendments’ passage pointing out that women were once again left out of the voting franchise.

Notice the difference in wording of the 15th Amendment and the 19th Amendment. The 15th Amendment states:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.”

Douglas defended his support of the 15th amendment at the Equal Rights Association in May 1869, stating:

“When women, because they are women, are dragged from their homes and hung upon lampposts; when their children are torn from their arms and their brains dashed to the pavement; when they are objects of insults and outrage at every turn; when they are in danger of having their homes burnt down over their heads; when their children are not allowed to enter schools; then they will have an urgency to obtain the ballot.”

Some of the leaders of the women's movement refused to support the ratification of the 15th Amendment without the inclusion of women in the voting franchise. Others worked hard for its passage, feeling that this would be the first step to ensuring their own voting rights.

On February 3, 1870, the 15th Amendment was ratified, giving all male citizens the right to vote. With a few notable exceptions (Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho and for a time, Utah) women would wait another 50 years before their time would come.

For Catherine Christofel and the other women who voted that cold rainy day in November of 1920, the time had been long enough.

Until Next Time …

Note this post first published online, March 04, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, March 3, 2008

An Amputation in Georgia - Henry's Story

In my previous entry, I wrote about Louisa Ish Smathers. In order to get the complete picture, I thought a post about her husband Henry would be appropriate.

Actually, the best clue about Henry's past comes from the pension records of his brother, Franklin Smathers. Franklin was a younger brother of Henry who enlisted in the same company and regiment as did Henry and another brother, Ruben Smathers. They were part of Company E., Ohio 53rd Infantry Regiment.

It was stated in Franklin's pension papers:

That during the summer of 1850 and to 1858 he lived in Clarion, Clarion County PA. That during the summer of 1860 he lived in Jackson, Jackson County, Ohio, and up to about the year 1888.

That during the above time he lived with his father and mother up to the time his mother died which was about the year 1856. That afterwards he lived with his father until he enlisted.

That his fathers (sic) name was Jacob Smathers.

That his mothers (sic) name was Polly Smathers.

That his brothers (sic) names were David, Isaac, William, Jacob, John, Henry, Ruben and Lawson.

The family was actually found instead of Jackson County, Ohio in neighboring Vinton County in 1860. Jacob had moved to Ohio with six of his children - John, Henry, Ruben, Franklin, Melinda and Lawson. At the outbreak of the war, John went back to Pennsylvania and enlisted.

Henry enlisted November 27, 1861, at the age of 23. His company muster roll for May and June 1862 states “Deserted from Camp Shiloa (sic) May 5, 1862.”

However, a special muster roll taken on August 18, 1862, notes, “Sent to General Hospital at Cincinnati May 5, 1862.” He appears to have been there on detached duty as Provost Guard until Aug. 31 of that year.

Henry elected to reenlist on January 23, 1864. His vitals are given:

WHERE BORN: Clarion County, PA
AGE: 24 (Note that he only aged 1 year since he initially enlisted in Nov of 1861.)
EYES: Brown
HAIR: Brown

For details of Henry's wounds, I quote the letter of his company commander, William W. Gilbert.

I, Wm W. Gilbert, on honor, certify that Henry Smathers is a Private in my company and that on the 23rd day of June 1864 He received a Gun Shot Wound in the left Knee point which caused the amputation of his leg above the Knee point. I was a 1st Lieut. Commanding the Co(mpany) at that time and was ordered with My Co(mpany) on the Skirmish Line near the foot of Kinesaw (sic) Mountain at which place Henry Smathers Received the wound while in the line of his duty by assisting to build a Skirmish Pit.

I was right by his Side when he was hit and Saw him fall and had him carried off of the field.

Henry would die 23 years, 7 months and 15 days after he fell at Kennesaw Mountain. In Vinton County, Henry's death record would give the cause of death as gangrene.

In my previous post, you get an idea of the hardship Henry faced. You have to wonder why Louisa chose to marry a man who obviously would find it difficult to support a family because of his wounds. His occupation on his death certificate is listed as “cripple.”

Henry's wounding in Georgia began a chain of events that would keep a dark cloud over the family tree for several generations. But it is those very chain events that created me.

For each of us who walk this earth today, the right set of circumstances in EVERY ONE of our ancestor's lives had to occur to create the next set of right circumstances, so that in the end, the right two people, your parents, would meet and create you. One missed joy or one missed sorrow, and someone else would be living, breathing, existing instead of you. What a gift then, each day really is.

Until Next Time!

1. Franklin Smathers (Pvt., Co. E, 53rd Ohio Inf., Civil War) pension no. 896663, certificate no. 676404, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications, 1864-1934; Civil War and Later pension Files; Dept of Veteran Affairs National Archives, Washington, D.C.
2. Henry Smathers (Pvt., Co. E., 53rd Ohio Inf.., Civil War) pension no. 77724, certificate no. 51080, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications, 1864-1934; Civil War and Later pension Files; Dept of Veteran Affairs, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
3. Vinton County, Ohio, Death Record of Henry Cope 1888, Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division, McArthur, Ohio.
4. Military, Compiled Service Record, Henry Smathers, Pvt., Co. E, 53rd Ohio Inf.; Civil War; Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780s-1917, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Note this post first published online, March 3, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Pension File Stories: Louisa Ish Smathers, Disappearing Woman

“I am nearly 48 years old, a housekeeper…”

These are first words that Louisa Ish Smathers gives in a deposition taken by the Special Examiner, J.W. Downtain on January 2, 1889, in Hawk, Ohio. Louisa was deposed when she applied for a Widow's Civil War Pension after the death of her husband, Henry Smathers.

Though she was probably born sometime around 1841, the first time Louisa shows up in any public records is when she marries Henry Smathers on December 11, 1866. (Her last name is spelled Eish on the Affidavit for License.) There is no record of Louisa's existence in either the 1850 or the 1860 census.

Believed to be the daughter of John Ish and Susan Bishop, the Ish siblings were apparently sent to live with other local families after John married his second wife, Susannah Dinger in 1843. Rebecca, Peter W. and Washington Ish are all found living with separate families in German Township of Harrison County, Ohio, in the 1850 census. In all probability, Louisa is also living with another family and either was not enumerated or her last name was reported incorrectly

That she belonged to the Ish family of Harrison County is supported by her death certificate, which lists her place of birth as Harrison County. Unfortunately, the record does not list her parents.

The only real glimpse we have of Louisa's life is from the five- page deposition.

I am the widow of Henry Smathers, who was a pensioner under Certificate No. 51080 for loss of the left leg above the knee. I was married as Louisa Ish, to Henry Smathers in Jackson, Jackson County Ohio, December 11, 1866, by a pastor whose name I do not now remember. Neither myself or husband had been previously married. I can't give the names of any of the persons who were present at our marriage. Mr. Smathers was then on crutches, having lost his left leg, as I always understood, in Service at Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia. From the time we were married until the next March, we lived at Buckeye Furnace, Jackson County Ohio.

We know that Louisa was not literate because it is recorded that she signed her name at the end of the deposition with an X.

Of her early years of marriage, Louisa says:
In March 1867, (we) commenced keeping house at Hamden Junction, Vinton Co. Ohio. While at Buckeye Furnace, he pounded ore, and wore what they called a peg leg, which was made at the Soldier's Home, Dayton. That one cut the leg so that he had to leave it off and it hurt the stump to wear it any way. He afterward secured an artificial leg in Cincinnati, at a cost of $175 - $75 of which was furnished by the Government, but he was never able to wear it on account of the stump hurting him so. It was even worst than the peg leg.

Louisa gives detailed information of how Henry suffered because of his injury.

He complained of the stump of the leg (it was) an awful sight, and would sometimes have me come and hold it down with both hands, and frequently it would fly up out of my hands. It would swell up and get tender, but there was no breaking out or running sores. I never knew any pieces of bone to come out from it, but he often told me that before he came home from the service a piece of bone did come out and showed me the scar. He often said he would rather a person would gouge his eye than to run against the stump, and he would sit and hold both hands over it to keep any one from running against it.

As part of the deposition, Louisa lists the names and dates of her children's births. Of this information, she says:

I had seven children by Mr. Smathers, six of whom were living when he died, only four of whom were under 16 years at that time…. I have no family record of the dates, but I have carried them in my mind all the time. I don't think I could possibly be mistaken as to the date of the birth of any of my children.

Probably the most telling part of the deposition is the matter of fact account that she gives of the events leading up to her husband's death.

On the night of the 30th of January, 1888, he was taken with a chill, in bed, and shook till 20 minutes after 1 o'clock. It was not an especially cold night, and the room was awful warm. We had set up until 11 o'clock. He had been about all winter, and that day, before he took the chill, said he felt better than he had for a long time. He had taken no medicine that winter, nor the preceding fall or summer. He said he had never had but one such chill before, and that was after his leg had been amputated and before he was discharged and the Doctor, he said called it a "digestive" chill. On this occasion, I had not gone to sleep, but he had, but woke up just as the clock was striking 12 and the chill was then coming on. He told me not to give him any water, as the old gray headed Doctor in the army had told him if he ever had another, it would be the last of him. That was on Monday night, and (he) died at 5 o'clock on Tuesday morning, one week after.

On Tuesday morning, I suppose 5 or 6 hours after the chill had tapered off, I put mustard drafts on his side, and when Dr. Ewing came he left them on, and on Wednesday when he came back, he put a fly blister on. Mr. Smathers had complained some of his side (the left) for a week before he took the last chill, but when I put the mustard draft on it, I did not notice any discoloration. He was conscious up to the time he died. I had him up at 12 o'clock on Monday night, and he talked to me as sensibly as he as he ever did, and he died at 5 o'clock, Tuesday morning, February 7, 1888. When I put the mustard drafts to his side, the pain seem to leave there and go to his head. He never could sleep on his left side, never from the time we were married. I was not present when he died, as I had laid down about an hour before.
Thomas Paul and Dinck (?) Gryden, and Lizzie Gryden and Getty Booth were all present when he died. So was Thomas Duffy. I think Bill Mayso, Tom Paul, and Bob Hutchinson prepared the body for burial. I have remained the widow of Henry Smathers, and have not cohabited with any other man.

This deposition is probably the closest I will ever come to knowing Louisa Ish Smathers and what her life with Henry was like. She died September 25, 1930. I have yet to find her in the 1930 census.
Until Next Time. . .

1. Deposition of Claimant, 2 January 1889, Louisa A. Smathers, widow's pension application no. 368863, certificate no. 279465, service of Henry Smathers (Pvt., Co. E, 53rd, Ohio Infantry, Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications, 1861-1934;Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veteran Affairs, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

2. Jackson County, Ohio, Record of Marriages, Volume E, Page 49, Smathers-Eish 1866, Jackson County Probate Court, Jackson, Ohio.

Note this post first published online, March 2, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online