Year in review: 52 Ancestors challenge

I didn’t do such a great job of keeping up with the 52 Ancestors challenge, but I did make it more than halfway through the year. (Things got a little bit crazy in August once classes began at the university where I teach and life got busier.)

I wouldn’t exactly call it a failure but it wasn’t a great success either since I only manage 30 weeks of posting.

I will be continuing with the 2015 challenge based on themes. Perhaps this time I’ll make it past the 30-week mark.

And, as a good exercise for follow-through in the coming year, I’m setting some goals to keep myself on track with my genealogy research. Here they are:

I’m pretty sure I’ll be in over my head if I go to some of these sessions, but I’m a member and it’s unlikely that the meeting will be this close to me for some time to come. The timing isn’t great for my work and personal life (it’s really busy around her in May with the end of a college semester when you’re teaching) but I’m going to get creative and see if I can’t make it work.

  • Finish my First Families application on Jonah Clymer. (I’ve been working on this for about a year now, and while I don’t know everything I want to, I think I have enough to see this classification from the Missouri State Genealogical Association.)
  • Take some of the free online courses through the National Genealogy Society.

There’s probably a lot of information here that I need to review and would find useful to my searching for records and documents.

  • Continue to add information to the Powers family tree for my husband’s side of the family.

When I hit a roadblock in my own family tree ( and there are plenty of them) I often do a little digging on another tree just to give me something fresh to look at.

  • Trace the Johnston line of my family tree and see what other information I find on Carl Johnston and his wife, Grace, who I believe are the parents of my paternal grandfather.

These are only a few of the many things I need to accomplish in my research for the coming year, but I think they’ll be challenging enough and still attainable. And, I can set new goals as the year progresses.


52 Ancestors #30: Rebecca A. Baldridge

This week’s entry veers a bit from the line of ancestors I’ve been focusing on, but my discovery about this ancestor is important nonetheless.
I have been trying to put together enough facts and sources about James C. “Jonah” Clymer and his life to complete a Missouri First Families application with the state genealogical society. (There’s a workshop next week during the annual meeting so I’m hoping to have most things together so I can get some advice about what’s missing or necessary in order to make my application.)
Anyway, earlier this week I had to spend some time filling in the gaps of Jonah Clymer’s life. And, one of those big gaps happened to be the death of his first wife, Rebecca.
I knew from family lore that he had been married twice and that his second wife and their children were my direct line of ancestors. However, I needed to prove (somehow) that Rebecca died; I’ve seen her grave marker but don’t have a rubbing or any idea of whether it still exists since it’s a small family plot on the edge of someone’s farm.
And, to make things even more challenging, I knew that the state of Missouri didn’t start recording deaths until after 1883 and my recollection is that Rebecca Clymer died in 1882.
So, I set off to the research library at the State Historical Society to see what I could find.
I looked through a transcript of birth and death records for Scott County, just in case, she might be listed. Nothing.
I then checked a series of newsletters for the Scott County Genealogical Society to see what might be listed there. Again, nothing.
But, then I found a book of cemetery records that listed burials in the Clymer cemetery, complete with driving directions to the cemetery site.
Rebecca Clymer is listed as being buried there, along with two of her infant children. Her gravestone notes her birth as Nov. 16, 1845.
She was born as Rebecca Baldridge, according to Tennessee marriage records I’ve also found. She and J.C. Clymer (alternate spelling of Climer) were married in 1869 in Weakley County, Tenn.
They were living in Commerce, Mo., for the 1870 census and have a four-month-old son, Henderson. (He died in 1872.) The couple had another child, Mollie E., born July 26, 1872, who died Nov. 28, 1872. Their third child, Lizzie was born in 1874, followed by Lizzie in 1877 and Caladona “Callie” in 1879.
She and James C. Clymer are still living in Commerce, Mo., as of the 1880 census. It appears that two of her nieces, Allice, 14, and Selina, 10, Finley also are living with them, along with her father, William Baldridge, age 64, and James Baldridge, 28, who is likely her brother.
Rebecca died June 25, 1882.

Getting started — a bit later than I expected

I meant to begin posting on this blog on Feb. 1 as part of the Family History Writing Challenge, but I’m a bit behind.I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to catch up, so I’m just going to move on and begin. I don’t have a clear outline in mind, but hope to be able to organize my thoughts and begin making sense of what geneaology research I’ve already completed.

JC Clymer family, 1900

JC Clymer family, circa 1900, in Commerce, Mo.

I don’t remember exactly when I got interested in learning more about my family history. Maybe it was sometime in fifth grade or so when I had to complete a family tree as part of a class project. Maybe it was sparked by the presence of the photograph at the left. This picture of J.C.  and Maggie Jane Clymer and their family used to hang in the hallway of my childhood home. It was accompanied by a few other family photos of relatives from years gone by.

J.C. “Jonah” and Maggie Jane Clymer, or Mam and Pap as my grandfather called them, are my great-great-great-grandparents. Although my grandfather, Harold Simpson, considered them more as grandparents than great-grandparents, they actually are the grandparents of his mother, Amy Ruth Duckworth Simpson, who is my great-grandmother.

Pictured here is the family: J.C. and Maggie (seated). I believe that my great-grandmother, Amy Ruth Duckworth, is the child on Maggie’s lap. Her mother, Bessie, is in the center. The toddler on J.C. lap would likely be Margaret or Mag, as she was known in the family. The boys are James, Herman and John Logan. Edna would be born about three years later.

I remember lots of times my grandfather would tell stories about going to see Mam and Pap on the farm. Yet, there are lots of facts about their life that I don’t know. I’ve done enough research to know that J.C. was married twice; Maggie is his second wife. His first wife and several of his children died earlier and are buried in a family plot on a farm between Kelso, Mo., and Commerce, Mo.

I’m sure to be posting more photos and stories about individual people whose lineage I have researched as this project continues.

And I’ll likely be posting more questions and research puzzles I’ve yet to solve so stay tuned.