Sunday, January 6, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #1 ~ Caroline Flory and My First Great Genealogy ‘Find’

Written for Amy Johnson Crow's Challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. (click here for details at Amy's blog) 

Week 1: First 

"Who was the first ancestor you found who you didn't personally know? Who was the first ancestor to arrive in the country? Who was the first child in one of your ancestral families? First to go to college? First husband out of a string of many?" 

Just the facts:
Name: Caroline Flory
Born: 20 March 1844 in Wayne County, Ohio
Married: John Ulrick Saurer, who was 21 years her senior, on 30 Oct 1860
Died: 16 May 1884, East Union Twp, Wayne Co, Ohio [Find-A-Grave memorial]

Relationship: Great-great-grandmother
I am descended through:
- her son, John Frederick Saurer (1873 - 1962)
- his daughter, Lela Mabel (Saurer) Ritchie (1913 - 1991)
- her son, my father, Donald John Ritchie (living)

Caroline was the source of my first truly thrilling genealogy find. I had just started to seriously research. By "seriously" I mean actually looking for records to back up all the information I had collected over the years from talking to my relatives. I had quite a bit of information at this point because I just loved looking at old pictures and, of course, when people show you pictures they tell you about them.

On a trip to Apple Creek, Ohio to visit relatives I decided to run over to the court house in Wooster. Not really knowing what I was doing at this point I was fortunate that the person there was very helpful and pointed me to some indexes which had been published by the local historical society. I happily looked up births for quite some time and made copious notes. I found more children listed for Caroline and John Saurer then I was previously aware they had. On an interesting side note, I was told that the original birth registers were not available to look at as they were too fragile. Now those same records are available to view on Family Search!

Next I decided to look for marriage records and bingo! There was a listing for John Saurer and Caroline FLORY. I felt so proud of myself ~ an actual new piece of information that no one else in my family had been able to tell me – Caroline’s maiden name. That, however, wasn't even the thrilling part. This was just the index so I asked the nice lady about the actual record and she showed me where the big ledger-type books were kept. I looked up the record and nearly fell off my chair. The record had some writing next to Caroline name which was HER FATHER'S consent to the marriage because she was only 16! So, right there I was able to go back another generation. If that wasn't cool enough, I also found and was able to make copies of her father's will.

WOW! I was totally hooked for life. Of course I soon found out that not every single trip to a courthouse was going to yield up such treasures. I don't mind though. Looking at old records just fascinates me almost as much as looking as old pictures. It's a way of touching history.

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