"Let me see generation times, will we hear children singing rhymes? Sweet memories gone by..."

28 May 2012

Memorial Day

When wild war's deadly blast was blawn
And gentle peace returning
Wi' mony a sweet babe fatherless
And mony a widow mourning
I left the lines and tented field
Where lang I'd been a lodger
My humble knapsack a' my wealth
A poor and honest sodger
-- "The Soldier's Return" by Robert Burns 
Memorial Day came about after the Civil War, when families and friends would visit the graves of their lost loved ones.  All of my ancestors who fought in the "War Between the States" survived the war, though some were wounded and some captured.  Most lived in Virginia and enlisted in the Confederate Army.  Only one, my third-great-grandfather, John Wesley Swindall, fought for the Union.

Born on June 13, 1826 in Ashe County, North Carolina, John Wesley was the elder son of Elizabeth "Betsy" Swindle.  As Betsy was never married, John and his brother Eli kept their mother's name (Swindle / Swindall), and their father's identity remains a mystery.  On July 14, 1851, John married Mary "Polly" Phipps, and a few years later, they and their young sons moved from North Carolina to then-Russell County, Virginia, which later became the newly-formed Wise County.

When the Civil War broke out, John and Polly moved their family into Kentucky, settling first near Piketon, until "some rebel soldiers under Colonel Witcher whipped [John] here, and he had to leave.  We raised one crop on Coon Creek, and then some more rebels came and took everything we had.  [Polly] tried to save a quilt by putting it in the creek, but the rebels hauled it out and took it along."  Afterward, they moved to Paintsville, KY.

On November 18, 1862, John enlisted as a Sergeant in Company K of the 39th Kentucky Infantry Regiment at Peach Orchard, KY.  He was described as 5 ft. 9 in. tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and black hair.  John was present on all company muster rolls until his discharge on September 15, 1865 at Louisville, except for May and June of 1864, when he was on detach to Lexington, KY.

Even before the regiment was mustered into service in February of 1863, it "began a series of fights and skirmishes with the enemy in that section which continued during almost its entire term of service."  While fighting at Piketon in April of 1863, the regiment captured Colonel James French.  In July of that year, General Julius White praised the regiment for having "made a charge up the mountain with great gallantry" and taking a number of prisoners at Beaver Creek.

The 39th mostly stayed in Kentucky, with a few forays into West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee.  In October and December of 1864, the regiment took part in the first and second battles at Saltville, VA – the first a defeat, the second a victory.  At the second battle, the Union forces destroyed one of the Confederacy's main saltworks.

After the War, the Swindalls returned to Virginia, to present-day Dickenson County.  For his service, John applied for and received a pension.  According to his pension file at the National Archives, in March of 1864, "he was taken very ill by a severe attack of Paralysis, which was caused from cold and exposure ... and that he was carried to a private house."  Even after the war, he continued to suffer from rheumatism, catarrh, and bouts of paralysis on his right side.

Included in his pension file is a questionnaire from the Department of the Interior Bureau of Pensions dated June 4, 1898.  On it, John had to list his children, and at the bottom of the page, he wrote, "this is all of my children and all a live and 65 grand children, 55 Republicans Beat tha[t] if you can".

John died from typhoid fever at the age of 74 on September 17, 1900.  He was buried at the Swindall family cemetery at Osborn's Gap in Dickenson County, VA.  His grave is marked with a military headstone.

13 May 2012

Caroline Fredrick Campen

Cha tig Mòr mo bhean dhachaidh My wife Mòr will not return home
Cha tig Mòr mo bhean ghaoil My beloved wife Mòr will not return
Cha tig màthair mo leanabh The mother of my children will not return
Nochd a laighidh ri m'thaobh To lie by my side tonight

-- Traditional Scottish Lament

Last year for Mothers' Day, I posted a collage on facebook with photos of my female ancestors... below is an updated collection, with a few "new" faces added.

Top Row: Angela Dotson, Gloria Dotson, Rose Picarello, Savannah Ramey, Grace Campen, Annie Picarello, Maria Paparella & Grace Cole
Bottom Row:  Mary Ann Edwards, Mary Campen, Lucy Jane Dotson, Charlotte Edwards, Mary Swindall, Charlotte Campen & Catherine Edwards

But I'd also like to give a special mention to a particular great-great-great-grandmother who's neatly managed to avoid public records.

Sometime around 1848, my great-great-great-grandfather John Campen came to Baltimore from Germany.  In the 1850 U.S. census, he's a 28-year-old bachelor, working as a machinist, living with several other German immigrants, possibly in a tavern.

By the 1860 census, he's a widower with two sons, Henry and Louis, and living with other relatives who'd arrived from Germany.

So, at some point during the 1850s, John got married, had two children, and then his lost his wife.  But who was she?

Baltimore didn't start keeping birth or death records until 1875 - so there's no death certificate for John's wife, and no birth certificates for his two sons.  Searching at the Archives in Annapolis, the only marriage record that I could find for John is with his second wife, Charlotte.  John and several other Campens are buried at the old Baltimore Cemetery, but there's no sign of his first wife in the records.  And searching through the Baltimore Sun's archive has turned up no marriage announcements or death notices.

Of the two sons, Louis died in 1901.  At this point, Baltimore had been issuing death certificates for quite some time, but it was still before they required any genealogical information about the person, such as parents' names.

However, the elder son Henry died in 1927, and happily, his mother's maiden name, provided by Henry's daughter Teresa, was included on his death certificate:  Caroline Fredrick.  Mystery solved at last!

So, today I would like to remember Caroline, who is otherwise missing from the public record.  I hope someday to find out more about her, especially where she might be laid to rest, and who her ancestors were.

10 May 2012


I'm new to all this.  So please bear with me.

I've been posting to a family history "scrapbook" on facebook for just over a year now, but recently decided to try out a public blog instead.  Earlier this year, I put together two family history YouTube videos about particular ancestors, which were quite fun to work on, and allowed me a bit more flexibility than facebook normally would.  I'm not big into writing, so I doubt I'll be blogging with any sort of regularity.  We'll see how this works - jury's still out.

Anyway, in recent genealogy research news...

The 1940 U.S. Census was released back on April 2nd.  While ancestry.com, familysearch.org, et al., rush to index the census and thus make it searchable by name - a task that will likely take months to complete - I've so far found 3 out of my 4 grandparents, and along with them, 5 great-grandparents.  They were relatively (ha, ha) easy to locate because I knew their addresses in 1940.

The Campens & Coles, living at 1112 Eutaw Street in Baltimore, MD:

(Full-size image here)

Mom Mom was just 8 years old, living with her mother, Grace, age 34, who was working for Mutual Life Insurance as a switchboard operator;  her grandmother, Grace, age 54;  and her step-grandfather, Robert, age 51, who was chief cook at a mansion house (?).

The Paparellas, living at 515 Emory Avenue in Trenton, NJ:

(Full-size image here)
Grandmom was 19 years old, working as a dress maker in a factory.  Her father "Ralph", age 56, is listed as a road construction laborer.

And the Picarellos, living at 36 Altamawr Avenue in Lawrenceville, NJ:

(Full-size image here)
Grandpop was 20 years old, working as a laborer for a leather goods manufacturer.  His father Generoso, age 61, was a road construction laborer.  The family had moved recently, from living in Trenton in 1935.

Still missing is Noah Dotson, who I believed was still living in Virginia.  Since the census was released, I'd paged and paged through several likely counties, but hadn't found him.  Just yesterday, familysearch.org added their brand-new index for Virginia, and at the moment, Pop Pop, his mother, and his siblings are still M.I.A.  Other possible locations are either Maryland or Kentucky, neither of which are anywhere close to being indexed.

Also on my list to find are the Gallos, living somewhere in Trenton;  Clarence Campen, possibly staying at a Veterans' hospital;  and Lucy Jane Dotson, likely living in Kentucky.  The search (and wait) continues...

And on a side note, for those who don't know, I'm a big fan of Celtic music.  The title I chose for this blog comes from a Clannad song, "Let Me See":

Let me see generation times
Will we hear children singing rhymes?
Sweet memories gone by, they're gone by
Let me be wiser with my eyes
Let me see my love by my side
Let me see heaven