After three and a half months of wonderful alternative activities, I’m back in the genealogical world. Bear with me, this re-launch post is really a travelogue – if you like cemeteries, you’ll love it. If you like Texas, you’ll also love it.This past weekend, I went to Indiana County, Pennsylvania, the home of both sets of Dad’s grandparents – the Ruffners and the Stephens, and many of the prior generation lines. The less said about my first drive with a GPS system (standard equipment for genealogists these days), the better. Let’s just say it is not a substitute for really understanding where you are going. But I did arrive in the town of Indiana and spent several productive hours at the Historical Society of Indiana County Research Library on Friday afternoon. I had a to-do list, but as is often the case, I encountered unique materials that added items, modified others, and deleted still more – once realism set in. OK, I’m not really going to be able to work effectively on seven surnames. The library closed at 4PM – leaving plenty of daylight hours. It was, however, 99 degrees outside – not optimal cemetery weather, especially if you don’t know locations of markers. But I picked the smaller cemetery and pressed on. After figuring out how to program the GPS with latitude and longitude, I had a comparatively smooth trip to East Mahoning Baptist Cemetery near Hillsdale, about forty minutes out of town. I decided I wouldn’t throw the thing out of the window after all.
The cemetery is on both sides of the road and during the roughly 90 minutes I was there, three, maybe four, vehicles passed by.
It’s a rare thing to see a lot of Ruffners (still there are way more Buterbaughs!) and I located my primary targets and our direct ancestors behind the church – J. A. C. Ruffner and Huldah Stephens, his wife, our great grandparents, and right “next door” Edward Haney Ruffner, and his wife, Mary Lydick Ruffner, our 2nd great grandparents.
Dad wrote the name of this cemetery on a scrap of paper and gave it to me about 25 years ago. If the word “awesome” wasn’t being overused these days, that’s how I’d describe being there.The library doesn’t open until 10:00 AM on Saturdays giving me plenty of time the next morning to visit Oakland Cemetery in town, where Huldah’s parents, Robert G. and Martha J. Stephens, are buried. I wasn’t very optimistic. There are over 2,300 people interred there and I doubted the office would be open. Still, it was a lovely cemetery and I drove in and parked near the older section. I had walked about 35 yards when this impressive marker caught my eye:
I knew that one of Huldah’s brothers had married a woman named Kinter – and lo and behold, very near the Kinter marker was the row of our Stephens family members – Robert, Martha, and two of their sons.
It had been about five minutes since I parked the car. Awesome! Note: Usage here is more like today’s vernacular.
This is a practical example of how the FAN club principal of genealogy (Study the Friends, Associates and Neighbors of your ancestor) allowed to me find our more modestly-marked family. I practically floated to the library.A word about the library – they have a great collection and I had wonderful help from volunteers Maggie, Chuck, and Mary. Those discoveries need more time to process – they will appear here over time. And I’ll need to go back.
In addition, while planning for the trip, I had “met” another descendant of James Lydick, Mary’s father – and Penny reminded me about the location of the graves of James’ grandparents. Stopping for a moment to count – John and Mary Lydick are our fifth great grandparents.John and Mary are buried in Memorial Park – right next door to the library! Take a minute to read the marker – it covers a lot of territory.
Yep, Indiana is the home of Jimmy Stewart! It is a classic small-town park – even without the Jimmy Stewart connection.
Here is a close-up of the marker (seen above on the far right) for John Lydick, Revolutionary War soldier, and his wife Mary.
By now, my cup runneth over.So what about Texas?
The impetus for heading to Pennsylvania this past weekend in the first place was that Tom D‘s son, Roger, our second cousin, brought his traveling Texas campfire cooking “show” to his niece’s home in Wexford, PA. So that’s where I headed next.
I was told to turn right at the Texas flag. Who needs GPS?
It was something to see – and to eat.
Thirty-two pounds of beef and sides, followed by a peach crisp with pecans cooked in a dutch oven, with home-made vanilla ice cream. Amazing.Roger and I had never met but it sure didn’t feel that way. He, his wife, and the whole Ellison extended family were very welcoming, and I hope we get to pass time together again someday.
Not every genealogical weekend can be as special as this one. But what a way to get back in the saddle!