Genealogy of the Woodcock Valley

Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania

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I'll try to post site updates, new information, or about life in general as things happen.  ~  Deb

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James Creek Mill

Posted on August 14, 2013 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (1)

We just finished up another week of the "Bigger and Better" Huntingdon County Fair.  The Huntingdon County Fair is an annual tradition for many local families.  It is one of the oldest, most continuous county fairs in the state, having started in 1831.


One of my favorite features is the Farm Museum that is housed at the Huntingdon County Fairgrounds.   The board members and community members attend public auctions and scour antique stores and stands to find new items for the collection.  The museum also accepts items on loan for display purposes.  You never know what you will discover at the Farm Museum.


This year, I found a history of the James Creek Mill and some sacks that showed the names of the millers.  



After I did my initial blog post, site member Dale Norris contacted me and shared this photo of an original bag when Joseph Grubb was the miller.  The photo was shared with Dale by George and Anna Mary Grove.  




The above history is included with this sack below for the next miller:



Here is the next sack in the history, also on display at the farm museum:



There was also a poster for the Marklesburg and Woodcock Valley Picnic:



The poster is dated September 3, 1921.  I apologize for the reflections.  I tried so hard to block out the fluorescent light to no avail.  


A new tradition my son and I started last year was attending the tractor parade on Wednesday afternoon.  This year, he was another year older and enjoyed it even more.  This year, the parade started with Clair Grove driving his 1928 Model A Ford.  He drove the fair queen and royalty as grand martial of the parade.  The tractors followed and it was concluded with a vintage fire truck.



The Model A, tractors, and fire truck are all on display at the Farm Museum during the fair and/or throughout the year.


The Huntingdon County Fair is finished for another year, but if you have the opportunity to visit in 2014, please be sure to check out the Farm Museum for more pieces of Woodcock Valley history.

Matthew G. Isett (1838-1863)

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

It's no secret that the family I have enjoyed researching the most, but which is also my nemesis, is the Isett family.  This week, I had the opportunity to visit the Isett Heritage Museum.  I knew they had a photo of Matthew G. Isett in his Civil War uniform.  So after dropping my son off at preschool on Tuesday, I made my way to the top of Stone Creek Ridge armed with my camera.  I explained to the guide that I simply wanted to take a photo of Matthew G. Isett's photo.  He took me to building two, where all of these vintages photos were enlarged, and positioned around the ceiling of the building.  As he led me to Matthew G. Isett's photo, I got goosebumps!  It was so awesome to finally put a face to the Civil War hero.



Matthew G. Isett (1838-1963) was born in the Woodcock Valley area of Huntingdon County, a son of James K. Isett and Elizabeth (Garner) Isett.  He was their second son, but oldest surviving child.  The first born, and his older brother, John G. B. Isett, died at 3 months of age.  Matthew G. Isett enlisted in Co. C of the 53rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry on September 16, 1861 as part of a company from Huntingdon County.  He was elected sergeant and promoted to 1st sergeant.  He was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Fredericksburg.  Matthew G. Isett was killed in battle at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.  He was killed in the Wheatfield area.  You can read about his death in the Civil War letter written by Anthony J. Beaver.  Matthew G. Isett is buried in the National Cemetery, Section C, grave 64, in Gettysburg.  Matthew G. Isett was never married, and if he left a sweetheart at home, that name has been lost with time.  His father, James K. Isett, visited the Gettysburg Battlefield after his son's death, contracted lead poisoning, and died shortly after his visit on August 11, 1863.  


I was stunned by Matthew G. Isett's Civil War photo.  I did not expect to see a big, burly man with such a beard.  Have you ever created an image of what someone might have looked like in your mind?  Well, I just pictured him as a skinny, little, bald faced young man.  So, I was shocked by the image that greeted me to say the least.  I was even more shocked by the image I found next to Matthew G. Isett!


There, beside Matthew G. Isett, was another Isett photo.  It was a photo of George J. Isett in his Civil War uniform too.  At first, I was thinking it was Matthew's younger brother, George Washington Isett, but I knew the middle initial was not right.  So, I took a photo of George J. Isett too, and couldn't wait to get home and place him.  Before I left, I asked my guide if all of the photos were family members or local families.  He explained to me that just the Isett photos were related, and that there was one other photo of a Huntingdon family.  The rest of the photos were donated in an old photo album, and none of them are identified.


Here is the photo of George J. Isett (1833-1865):



George J. Isett was the son of Joseph Isett, Sr. and Susannah (Weaver) Isett.  George J. Isett was the grandson of Jacob Isett and his first wife Sarah.  George J. Isett enlisted in Co. A of the 110th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.  George was wounded in battle on May 16, 1864 and died from his injuries in 1865.  George J. Isett was married to an Emeline Price and/or Clark.


No Isett family line can just be straightforward and simple where my Isett family is concerned!  It would seem that there was possibly two George Isett men born about the same time in the same area, who both married a woman named Emeline and had a son named George. One George, born about 1835, married Emeline Price, and had a son named George Washington Isett in 1860, who moved to Ohio.


Then, there is the George J. Isett pictured above, who was possibly the second husband of his wife Emeline.  The census records are so confusing for this Emeline.  It appears she was Emeline Price, the daughter of Thomas Price in the 1850 census.  It appears that she might have first been married to a Clark who had died by 1860, when she was living with potentially her mother-in-law in the 1860 census with some young children, Cerentha, Millard, Joseph, and George.  Also living in the household was George Isett, who was presumably a laborer, whom Emeline would eventually marry between 1860 and 1865.  In 1870, Emeline has married possibly a third time to William Yon.  She now has children named Sarah and Harry too.  In 1880, Emeline is still married to William Yon, and the family has grown to include Louis, Virginia, Mary, and William.  Throughout the 1860-1880 census years, the children take on the last name of whomever Emeline is married to or living with.  They are somtimes Clark, Isett, and/or Yon children.  It is believed that George W. and Sarah A. are both Isett children of George J. Isett.  His son George W. was born about 1858.  It is unknown who he married.  It is also unclear if the son George W. is Emeline's son, or possibly to a prvious marriage of George J.


So goes the Isett, Price, Clark saga.  Was there really one George married to an Emeline with a son George W., or were there two sets in Blair County?  But, wait...I'm not done yet!  Did you notice the similarities between the photos of Matthew G. Isett and George J. Isett?  And, what are the chances of the their two photos being side by side in the Isett Heritage Museum?  The coincidence was not lost on me!  


Matthew G. Isett's grandfather's name is not known.  I do not know who the father of James K. Isett (1813-1863) was.  I only know that his mother's name was Elizabeth and that she remarried before 1820 to a man with the last name of Matthews.  Supposedly, James K. Isett's father "absconded" to parts unknown leaving his family.


Interestingly, George J. Isett's family line deadends with his grandfather, Jacob Isett (1780-1853).  No one knows who Jacob's father was either.  I have always found it interesting that there was a Simon Isett (born between 1775-1784) who disappeared from Huntingdon County owing a large amount of debt.  Could this be James K. Isett's father?  Well interestingly, Jacob Isett named one of his sons Simon Isett (1806-1877).  So, after seeing two Civil War portraits side by side in the Isett Heritage Museum from two different Isett lines that no one feels are related, I suddenly had to ask myself AGAIN - "Was Jacob Isett (1780-1853) James K. Isett's father, or did Jacob have a brother named Simon (b. bet. 1775-1784) who was James K.'s father and after whom he named one of his sons?"  Why else would these two photographs be side by side when all of the other photographs around them are not even known?


Regardless, it was wonderful to finally see a photo of Matthew G. Isett, who bravely served his country, and gave his life for our freedom.  I will also welcome the image of George J. Isett to the family, even if I'm not quite sure yet how he connects to his fellow soldier, Matthew G. Isett.


As always, if you can help with this mystery, please use the Contact Me button to e-mail me or leave a comment below on this blog post!

Weller Family Photos

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit two Weller siblings and scan some of their family photos, special memories, and local treasures.  


First, I visited with Ruth and Eugene Garner.  Ruth is the daughter of the late William Ralph and Grace Elizabeth (Riley) Weller.  Eugene is the son of the late Homer and Della May (Brumbaugh) Garner.



They each had a photo album dedicated to their individual families.  Ruth's mother was a sister to my husband's grandfather, so I was able to scan a lot of Riley family photos as well as her Weller line.  Eugene is a member of the Garner and Brumbaugh families.  He had a lot of photos of the Brumbaugh Mansion where his family lived, and where he and Ruth started out when they were first married.


The next day, I visited with Ruth's older brother, John Weller.  John is also a son of the late William Ralph and Grace Elizabeth (Riley) Weller.  John was married to Janet Louise (Boyer) Weller.  John is well known in the Marklesburg area, where he was the James Creek post master for many years prior to retirement.  He also worked at the Brumbaugh Store in Marklesburg as a young man.  



John shared his love of local history with me during our visit.  I not only scanned his family photos, but I also learned the story behind each family and photo.  He shared photos from the Weller, Riley, Boyer, Speck, Kyler, and Hetrick families.  


To see the new photos that I added from my visit with Ruth, Eugene, and John, please click on the "Recently Added" button on the Photos and Obits page.  


I want to send out a special thank you to the Weller families who shared their family photos, as well as the Weller family who watched my son while I visited so I could do what I love!

Thomas C. Fisher Civil War Letter

Posted on July 19, 2013 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)

On the days my son goes to preschool this summer, I've been making some time for myself and have been hanging out in the Huntingdon County Court House and the Huntingdon County Historical Society.  It has been super hot here in central Pennsylvania this summer, and while neither are air-conditioned facilities, they are still cool places to hang out!


I have been researching various family lines incuding my Fisher, Shriner, Matthew(s), and Woomer families.  This week, I found an interesting discovery in the Fisher family name file at the Huntingdon County Historical Society that I wanted to share with everyone.


I scanned a Civil War letter written by Thomas C. Fisher of Huntingdon to his brother.  The letter is dated February 15, 1863 and was written near the Stafford Court House in Virginia.  





Thomas C. Fisher, who died, June 24, 1883 near Philadelphia (presumably in a hospital there since he still lived in Huntingdon) was the son of Thomas Fisher (1802-1883) and Rachel (Jackson) Fisher.  From my research, he was one of at least ten children born to the couple.  His siblings included Horatio Gates Fisher, Belle Fisher, Frances J. (Fisher) Andrew, Rebecca D. Fisher, John A. Fisher, Mary (Fisher) Miller, Willemina Fisher, Letitia B. (Fisher) Bailey, Katherine (Fisher) Blair, and Willie Fisher.  Willemina and Willie may be one in the same.  I found an obit for both - one saying daughter of and one saying son of and both dying in the same year, 1854.  If they are not the same, then they most likely were twins.


Thomas C. Fisher enlisted on August 15, 1862 in Co. C of the 125th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and served until May 1863.  The 125th consisted of many men from Huntingdon and Blair Counties.  A virtual cemetery for the men of the 125th was created on Find A Grave by Donald Coho.  


Thomas C. Fisher married Isabella "Belle" (Creigh) Miles on March 12, 1867.  She was the widow of John Blanchard Miles, who served with the 49th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and was killed at Spottsylvania Court House.


The letter was of particular interest to me, because it mentions Isett and Watson not being chosen as the second lieutenant.  Thomas was obviously not happy with the appointment made.  


There were two Isett men in his unit, Aaron B. Isett (1837-1914) and John Dysart Isett.  There is a lot of speculation as to whether Aaron Isett even served in the Civil War or whether he paid someone to serve for him, so it is highly unlikely the Isett reference in the letter is to Aaron.  It more than likely refers to John Dysart Isett (1838-1881), the son of John Stockdale Isett and Mary Ann (Bell) Isett.  This particular Isett family was from the Sinking Valley area of Blair County, PA.


The Watson reference was most likely to L. Frank Watson.  I have researched many Watson lines in both Huntingdon and Blair Counties, but can not find any more information about L. Frank Watson.  There is a Frank Watson in the 1870 census for Huntingdon County, who was born in Delaware, living with his wife Sarah and son James.  If this is indeed the same Frank Watson and he was from Delaware, then he is most likely not related to any of the local Watson families.


I do not immediately have family ties between Thomas C. Fisher and my own Fisher line.  Thomas C. Fisher's grandparents were Samuel Fisher and Rebecca (Dorland) Fisher.  Samuel Fisher was born about 1779 and died in 1812.  Rebecca died in 1802 after the birth of her son Thomas.  Samuel Fisher remarried to Mary Lyon in 1804 and together they had children John, Anna, Catharine, and Elizabeth.  His daughter Mary was born after his death in 1812.  


I do not know anything about Samuel Fisher's parents.  He was of an age to be a possible relation to my Henry Fisher (1796-1876).  Some have speculated that they may have been brothers, but I have no proof of this.


Regardless of my connections or lack thereof to the Civil War letter of Thomas C. Fisher, it is still quite an interesting piece of Huntingdon County history that I am glad to be able to share.


Shultz and Grubb Photos

Posted on July 7, 2013 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

There are angels who walk among us here on Earth.  They are not the angels sent from God, but they are genealogical angels.  I was contacted by one of these angels, Tom Davis, in mid-June who found my website while searching for family information.


You see, Tom is an angel, because he rescues old family photos and albums, researches the family, and tries to return the photos to a family member.  Tom rescued a photo album that belonged to Rachel Ann (Shultz) Grubb (1875-1964) from e-Bay.  Tom thoroughly researched her and her family and found the companion album on my website, Isaac and Rachel (Shultz) Grubb Collection I, that was shared by Kathleen (Grubb) Holder in February 2011.


Rachel Ann (Shultz) Grubb (1875-1964) at the age of 14.



Tom lovingly and gingerly scanned each photo in the album with the original handwriting, out of the album to see the photographer's information, and did a close-up of each face in black and white.  He saved this information on a DVD, which he sent to me.  He also put each photo in an acid-free photo safe sleeve, and then into a clear sheet protector along with his research notes.  Each page was included in a hard shell three ring binder for mailing, along with the original album covers.  


Tom also researched each name included in the album and constructed a family tree based on the relationship of each individual to Rachel Ann (Shultz) Grubb.  He housed the Shultz Family Tree at Ancestry.com and included the photos that were available in the album.  The Isaac and Rachel (Shultz) Grubb Collection II includes photos of Rachel's siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, and community members.  Rachel Shultz married Isaac Bowers Grubb (1866-1946) on December 26, 1895.  There is even a photo of the preacher who married them!  The album also contains some of Isaac Grubb's family members.


There was a note inside the album that said: "Mothers old album when I was a girl"





The album that Kathleen Holder shared was given to Isaac and Rachel Grubb's daughter,  Martha Lena "Martie" (Grubb) Robbins as recorded in the dedication inside the album.  The album that Tom Davis rescued also belonged to one of their daughters.  It is unknown if the second album belonged to Martie again or to one of her sisters, Katherine (Grubb) Horton or Gertrude (Grubb) Householder.  Again, the handwriting under most of the photos is believed to be that of Rachel Ann (Shultz) Grubb.  There are a few photos that do appear to have been inscribed by her daughter based on the family relationship.


Some of the names included in the new Isaac and Rachel (Shultz) Grubb Collection II photo album include:  Shultz, Keith, Glasgow, Brumbaugh, Simpson, Criswell, Grubb, Stewart, Dunmire, Garner, Norris, Crownover, Myers, Heffner, Port, Grove, Wolfe, Stone, Shontz, Parks, Hess, Smith, Cunningham, Replogle, Strock, and some unknowns.  


You can see the new photos by clicking on the link above.  You can also view all of the Genealogy of the Woodcock Valley photos and obituaries by clicking on the Photos and Obits link.


From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Tom Davis for rescuing this precious photo album that truly belongs to the history of the Woodcock Valley.  He is such a kind and caring person to personally take care of the album, spend hours researching, scanning, labeling, and preparing the album to return to the heart of the Woodcock Valley.  He saved a piece of the Woodcock Valley and prepared it to be shared with all who have a connection to the Valley.  I hope Tom can continue to return family history to those who have been lost over time.

Elizabeth (Unknown) Isett Matthew (???? - ????)

Posted on June 21, 2013 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (1)

Elizabeth (Unknown) Isett Matthews (????-????)...that is a lot of unknowns, isn't it?  I don't know her maiden name, when she was born, where she lived, who she married, when she died, or where she is buried.  So, why do I even care about her?  Because she is a vital missing part of my family tree!  Well, not even my family tree, but that of my husband and son.  I've been researching her and her son and husbands for so long now that she feels like she is my own.


The only thing I know about Elizabeth is that she had a son named James K. Isett who was born in 1813.  In 1820, her name appears in Orphan's Court recrods in Huntingdon County, PA.  A transcription of the record is as follows:


 

Huntingdon County Orphans Court C, File K, No. 34, pg. 80

"The petition of Elizabeth Matthew late Elizabeth Isett humbly sheweth that your petitioner has a son named James Isett who is a minor under the age of fourteen years whose father your petitioners late husband has absconded his family and gone to parts unknown to your petitioner, and left his said son without any person to provide for the care of his person or property. Wherefore, your petitioner prays the court to appoint some suitable person to be guardian of the said minor and she was in duty bound will pray (some kind of mark) Whereupon it is considered by the court and ordered that Thomas Lloyd be and he hereby is appointed guardian of the said minor." April 1820


So, this tells me that Elizabeth was supposedly married to a man named Isett who abandoned his family and to my knowledge was never heard from again leaving a wife and presumably one young son.  There are no other orphan's court records pertaining to any other children bearing the Isett or Matthew surnames.  In 1820, James Isett was seven years old, and his mother was already remarried to a man with the last name of Matthew.


Now the records were filed in Huntingdon County in 1820, but at that time, Blair County was also included as part of Huntingdon.  So, did James K. Isett's mother live in Huntingdon County or what would later become Blair County?  I don't know.  Thomas Lloyd became the legal guardian of James, and he bound him out to a farmer named Moore in Walker Township.  James Lloyd definitely lived in Huntingdon County, and Walker Township is in Huntingdon County.  James Isett lived all the rest of his life and died in Huntingdon County.


I have often assumed Elizabeth lived in Huntingdon County too, but I can find no further trace of her beyond the 1820 court record.  She is not buried in any local cemetery unless it is in an unmarked grave.  She is not buried near her son or young grandchildren.


Presumably, Elizabeth was probably young enough to have more children in her second marriage.  So, James K. Isett might have some half siblings.  The name Mathew/Matthew/Mathews/Matthews is not that common in this area.  However, that has not made my search any easier.


I was searching Find-a-Grave the other day and found an Elizabeth Matthews buried in the Geeseytown Cemetery in Frankstown Township, Blair County.  She died November 8, 1877 at 79 years and 1 month.  I immediately got excited because there is a Jacob Isett buried in that cemetery (1780-1853) also.  I wondered if he could be a brother to her husband or even her "husband."  It is unknown who Jacob Isett's father was.  Jacob was first married to a Sarah and then later to Catherine (Cunningham) Jones.  But, the bad news is that when I checked the Geeseytown Cemetery records at the Blair County Genealogical Society, I could find no mention of an Elizabeth Matthews being buried in the Geeseytown Cemetery!  Just my luck...


I did find a will in Blair County for James S. Mathews who died between 1864-1866 in Logan Township, who named his wife Elizabeth.  He left his estate to her, but at the time of her death it was to go to his first wife's children, no strike that, to his son, James M. McCloud.  In the will, the first wife's children was literally crossed out and James M. McCloud was written in.  How does a man named Mathews have a son named McCloud?  Anything to make this more complicated and confusing!


Is this the same Elizabeth above, second wife of James S. Mathews, who is supposedly buried in Geeseytown Cemetery?  If so, where is her husband buried?  Why can't I find James M. McCloud in any census record?  Are any of these Elizabeths the mother of my James K. Isett?


Why can't I get a break on this family????  I am begging...if you read this information and can help in any way, please use the Contact Me button at the left or comment on the blog post below.


80th Anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps

Posted on May 25, 2013 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (2)

My family and I took advantage of the first program of the summer season at Greenwood Furnace State Park.  The program was conducted by Paul Fagley, their historian and educational interpreter.  The program, which he titled "Three Squares and a Cot" was a virtual tour of five local Civilian Conservation Corps camps that were local to Greenwood Furnace State Park and conducted work within the park.  I took notes and photographs during his presentation and would like to share his hard work with you here.


This year, 2013, marks the 80th anniversary of the creation of the CCC.  The program was started by Franklin D. Roosevelt, when America was in the grip of the Great Depression.  Roosevelt was inaugurated on March 4, 1933.  Two weeks later, he presented the idea to Congress.  Congress passed the bill on March 27, 1933, and the first CCC camp was opened on April 17, 1933.  In only 42 days, the President created a program that would transform the country.


The CCC gave the men "Three Squares and a Cot" or three meals a day and a bed to sleep in as part of the new work program.  With the nickname "Roosevelt's Tree Army" and the motto "We can take it!," 3,463.776 men enrolled over the course of the program.  They could work for 6 months and/or up to two years.  The men were predominantly between the ages of 18 and 25, unemployed, unmarried, and were from a family on relief.  There were also veterans of the Spanish American War and World War I who could serve with no restrictions.  The men were paid $30 a month, or $1 a day, and were required to send $25 home and could keep $5 as spending money.



This photo was taken during Paul Fagley's presentation.


Over the course of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 40,000 men learned to read and write.  They planted over 3 billion trees, and built 800 state parks.  Many of the enrollees went on to become soldiers in World War II.  The program was de-funded by Congress on June 30, 1942, but was never officially terminated.



This photo was taken during Paul Fagley's presentation.


The CCC did over $400 billion worth of work in Pennsylvania alone on the value of money in the 1930s.  Pennsylvania had the second highest number of CCC camps behind California.  The first camp opened in Pennsylvania in May 1933.  


Some famous CCC alumni include:  Robert Mitchum, Aldo Leopold, Stan Musial, Walter Matthau, Chuck Yeager, Dave Akeman, and Raymond Burr.  


There were different kinds of Civilian Conservation Corps camps.  Most of the ones around Huntingdon County were state forest camps and are designated by an "S" for state forest.  There was one soil conservation service camp that went by "SCS."  Other designations across the United States include ANF, MP, NP, P, SP, and A or AF.  These stood for Allegheny National Forest, Military Park, National Park, etc.


Most companies had no designation, but there were some that did.  There were colored companies (C), veterans companies (V), American Indian companies (I), womens companies (W), and mixed race companies (X).  Paul Fagley said the womens companies were often referred to as the "She-She-She."  



This photo was taken during Paul Fagley's presentation, and is from Camp S-112.


Each camp consisted of 4-5 barracks, a mess hall, recreation hall, administrative building with a hospital, educational building, bathroom and shower facilities, sheds, power house, officers quarters, and other necessary buildings.  Most buildings followed the same construction templates.  When camps were first formed, enrollees lived in tents or "tent cities" until they could construct the permanent buildings.  Remnants of the camps still exist if you know where to look.  When the buildings were torn down, the workers planted spruce trees.  So, if you find the grove of spruce trees you can find chimneys, fireplaces, flag pole bases, and even some existing buildings.




This photo was taken during Paul Fagley's presentation, and is from Camp S-59.


Over the course of the evening, Paul Fagley gave a virtual tour of camp S-59, S-60, S-61, S-62, and S-112 using aerial and close-up photographs of the buildings and men who worked at each camp.  To learn more about each camp, please click on my Civilian Conservation Corps home page.



This photo was taken during Paul Fagley's presentation, and is from Camp S-61.


It was quite fitting that I was able to attend Paul Fagley's presentation this evening to gather and share information.  I have been corresponding this past week with Keith Kenawell, whose father George Kenawell, served at Camp S-60.  George was from Hollidaysburg, PA, which is in neighboring Blair County.  George was there from 1940-1941 and Keith has an extensive collection of photos and artifacts.



The photo above is of George Kenawell in his dress uniform at the Owl's Gap camp.  


Keith's treasures include a 1940 Thanksgiving Menu and Roster that lists all of the names of the men who were present at the camp.




This is the second page of the roster that shows most of the names.  The officers were listed on the preceeding page.  All of the names from S-60 in 1940 have been included in my Civilian Conservation Corps Workers database.  Thanks to Keith, I added over 200 more names to the list.  I have also included all of Keith's scans in the Civilian Conservation Corps photo album.  


There will be another program on the Civilian Conservation Corps this summer at Greenwood Furnace State Park on July 20 entitled "We Can Take It!" the motto of the CCC.  The program will be conducted by historian John Eastlake.  For more information, you can see this event on the calendar.


As Paul Fagley said tonight, it is so important that we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the CCC, because this is probably the last anniversary that we will have living survivors with us who worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps.  The youngest members are now in their 90s.  Most will probably not live to see the 90th reunion.


As always, I welcome information on any CCC member as well as photographs and documents.  While I especially love information on those from Huntingdon County and the surrounding areas, I will include information on any CCC veteran from around the United States as a way to honor them and the special work they did for our country during a difficult time in American history.  If you know of someone who worked for the CCC, please send me his information.

Memorial Day Flags

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The Riley family has been putting flags on seven of the Woodcock Valley cemeteries for many generations.  We finished putting flags on for Memorial Day 2013 this evening.  My husband and I usually do the flags, but we had to add some extra help this year since my husband broke his leg!  My father-in-law was glad to help; and I enjoyed his help, because it was like a walking history lesson.


I was contacted by Dale Norris this past year, who found another veteran in the Old Stone Church Cemetery that has never had a marker or flag to decorate his tombstone.  It turns out after some research that the Reverand Matthew G. Boyer was another Civil War representative from the Woodcock Valley.


Matthew G. Boyer was born March 10, 1839, a son of Henry Boyer and Susannah Brumbaugh (Garner) Boyer.  In 1863, Matthew G. Boyer was a student at Gettysburg College and Seminary.  In the midst of the Civil War, with troops approaching Gettysburg, Matthew G. Boyer, along with 56 of his classmates, joined Company A of the 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Militia Infantry.  The unit was organized at Harrisburg on June 22, 1863 for the protection of Pennsylvania against Lee's invasion, and was mustered out on July 31, 1863.  Mattew G. Boyer was a private.  More information about his regiment can be found by clicking on the link above.  You can also view his name on the Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg by clicking on the link.


Matthew G. Boyer was not a long-term veteran, but he helped to do his part at Gettysburg:


  • 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Infantry organized at Harrisburg and volunteered for the emergency
  • Mustered into United States service June 22, 1863
  • Mustered out July 31, 1863
  • Co. A recruited from Pennsylvania College and Gettysburg
  • Total enrollment 743
  • Captured and missing in Gettysburg campaign - 176 officers and men
  • The First Union Regiment to engage the Confederates at Gettysburg and delaying their advance one day.



So, this Memorial Day, we are proud to place a flag and Civil War marker on the grave of Matthew G. Boyer.





Matthew G. Boyer earned his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania.  He married Martha L. Stauffer.  They were the parents of at least three sons and one daughter.  Matthew G. Boyer died on September 20, 1927, and is buried in the Old Stone Church Cemetery in Penn Township, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.


There was one other stone I photographed this year too.  I've been putting a flag on the stone of Gerald I. Grubb since I started helping my future husband in 2002.  However, I had no personal connection to Gerald until this year.  Earlier in 2012, I did a blog post on Gerald Isaac Grubb after I was contacted by Nancy, who had found his World War II journal.  Gerald paid the ultimate sacrafice while serving his country in the Aleutian Island area.  


I was recently contacted by Gerald's niece, Karla, and his sister-in-law, Ruth.  They read my blog post and were eager to be in touch with Nancy.  It turns out that the family knew about Gerald's journal, but were unsure what had ever happened to it. Gerald's mother received his belongings when he was killed, but the journal contained privileged information and could not be returned until after the end of the war.  Unfortunately, it never made it's way back home to the family. Nancy found the journal in a Goodwill Store in Maryland.  Karla has been in contact with Nancy and is hopeful that she can someday add her Uncle Gerald's journal to his foot locker.





We remember all of the Woodcock Valley veteran's who defended our country this Memorial Day including Matthew G. Boyer and Gerald Isaac Grubb, as well as those who are still bravely defending our country!

DNA Test Results are Back

Posted on May 3, 2013 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (1)

And, I guess we are just going to have to say I am DNA cursed!!!


In the summer of 2012, I had my husband do the Family Finder DNA test through Family Tree DNA.  I had one purpose in mind...to once and for all solve the mystery of his James K. Isett (1813-1863)  family tree.  Well, he had 190 distant "cousin" matches, and a few closer matches, but all we did was prove he had no close matches to any other Isett names that have already been tested.  This more or less proves that he does not belong to any of the well established Isett lines through Frederick and Barbara Isett, the immigrants, and their two known sons Jacob Isett (b. abt. 1725 and died before 1790) and Frederick Isett (1730-1803).  However, interestingly, he did match a person who has ties to these Isett lines through marriage.  


In my heart, I still suspect my husband's ancestor was adopted, or was the product of a "non-paternal" event of some sort.  It will be interesting to see what happens as more people are eventually tested.  For anyone with an interest, my husband's kit number is 250393.  


In the spring of 2013, I tested my father's DNA using the Y-DNA 37 test in hopes of taking my Fisher line further back in time than my 3X great grandfather, Henry Fisher (abt. 1796 - 1876).  I started off believing he would test into a Berks County, PA line, but with further research and while waiting on the results, I suspected this would not be the case.  I did not disappoint myself...my dad did not match any other tested line!


At 12 markers, he matched 2,513 people.  Of those, 24 of his matches still bore the last name of Fisher or Fischer.  At 25 markers, he had 44 matches.  None of these matces still carry the last name of Fisher/Fischer.  Most of his matches at the 25 marker level bear the name Vance or Bowman.  At 37 markers, he had 0 matches!  


So, what does this mean?  Either no one else from his direct line has been tested yet, or else there was an adoption or another "non-paternal" event that took place back when.  If you would like to look at his results, he is kit number 281525.


In both cases with my husband and my dad, it is like James K. Isett and Henry Fisher were just dropped from the sky into the Woodcock Valley area of Huntingdon and Bedford Counties respectively.  No one in the world wants to seem to claim them other than me.  I think the DNA is trying to tell me just that...these are lost souls who were outcasts from whatever family they supposedly belonged to.  


My hope is that as DNA testing continues to evolve that more and more people will be tested and that perhaps some day there will be a match to my husband and my father.  


Please understand that even though I feel I am DNA cursed, I still support DNA testing.  I have one genealogy friend who has broken down many brick walls through DNA testing in her family research.  I believe DNA testing is a valuable genealogical tool.  At the same time, I do want to warn others to be ready for the unexpected and be prepared to accept it if it does happen.  It is what it is.  They are still your family members no matter what the past reveals.


Family Tree DNA has lowered the price of their entry level Y-DNA 12 kit to just $49.  The recommended minimum level of testing is Y-DNA 37, but you can start with the lower priced kit and upgrade at any time as your finances allow and as sales are posted.  The Family Finder test is also a wonderful way to go if you want to look at all of your maternal and paternal lines and find other cousins who are also researching their families.  Family Tree DNA just announced that they are going to offer sale prices more frequently as their lab gets caught up on processing results in order to encourage more testing and make the prices more affordable to genealogists.


There are other DNA testing companies and opportunities available too.  I have only used Family Tree DNA.  If you have already tested through another company or choose to use a different testing facility, you can share your results at ysearch, which allows a platform for everyone to post their results and compare them to others who have been tested through any company.  You can only post Y-DNA test results.  My dad is listed as user 65YXD.


DNA testing is a whole other aspect to genealogical research.  I may feel cursed at the moment, but I am still optimistic that answers will be revealed in time and with patience and continued research.

Iron Ore in the Valley

Posted on April 15, 2013 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Lonnie Smith shared some photos of Aitch on his website, Huntingdon County PA History and Heritage, and he had a photo there that I had never seen before of an engine surrounded by miners of iron ore in the Woodcock Valley.


I was "raised" in Penn Township, Huntingdon County, and always heard my dad talk about the ore mines.  As a child, I always had visions of large mines you could walk into and explore.  However, in reality, all he could show me were rocky areas with small holes or piled up mounds of dirt on the side of Tussey Mountain.  This was certainly not what I had hoped to find.  One local family had an iron ore cart relic sitting in their yard, so I knew at one time the holes in the ground had to have been much bigger than what my dad was showing me.  It took until I was an adult to have a better understanding of what an ore mine might have looked like.  A  family friend was doing some excavating on his property, and actually uncovered an opening to an ore mine in 2003.  When I heard the news, I had to go and  investigate.  It was quite exciting to finally see a mine shaft going into the side of the hill with the wooden support beams still visible.  We only graced the entrance, as the shaft was small and potentially unstable, but I couldn't leave without some rock samples and photos.  For the historian in me, it was neat to think about what life was like back in the days of the miners in Penn Township.




Clair Grove can be seen above inspecting the opening of an iron ore mine that was opened up in 2003 on private property along Redstone Ridge Road in Penn Township during some construction excavation.


In the chapter on Penn Township, J. H. Wintrode wrote in the History of Huntingdon and Blair Counties, Pennsylvania for J. Simpson Africa in 1883:


"Within the last eighteen years over one hundred and fifty thousand tons of this ore were shipped from Marklesburg and Grafton Stations, mainly to the Cambria Iron Company of Johnstown, and to the furnace of the Grove Brothers, of Danville, Montour Co., Pa. At present the Grove Brothers are almost the exclusive owners of the ore leases of the township."

 




The engine in the above photo says J. H. Grove on it.  The back of the photo offers the following description:  


"Grove Brothers of Danville, Montour County were almost the exclusive owners of ore (iron) in Penn Township.  One hundred 50 thousand tons of ore were removed from 1865 to 1883.  The mines on Tussey Mountain operated till 1918.  A tipple was built in Isett hollow and the ore was shipped by the Huntingdon Broad top RR to Cambria Iron at Johnstown and the Grove brot. furnaces at Danville.  Huntingdon Co. now claims the ore lease left by the Grove brothers.  There are literally thousands of tons still left in Tussey.  This picture shows the engine and crew and miners.  Note ore car above the front of the engine loaded with ore.  Dumped car on the right is dumping tailings.  Engine hauled cars to the tipple where H & BT backed cars for loading the coasled loaded cars to Brumbaugh to be hauled on the mainline to the Penna. RR."  It is unknown at this time who wrote this information, but obviously the first part was taken from Africa's History.


I grew up at the entrance to Isett Hollow, where James K. Isett and his wife Elizabeth (Garner) Isett lived.  Their property had been in the previous ownership of Elizabeth's father, John Matthew Garner, and surrounded by her brothers.  It is apparent that there was strife over the iron ore rights as can be seen in the following pages from the book, The Mining Reports: A Series Containing the Cases on the Law of Mines Found in the American and English Reports, Arranged Alphabetically by Subjects, With Notes and References, Volume 2, by R. S. Morrison (1883), pages 698-711, that involve the Garner family and Michael J. Grove, owner of Grove Brothers of Danville:  

















The Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad was completed by 1864.  The H&BTM RR left the Pennsylvania Railroad line in Huntingdon and traversed the Woodcock Valley area of Huntingdon County into Bedford County and ended at Mount Dallas.  Within the Woodcock Valley area, there were many stops at Grafton/Hesston, Stump Hill, Brumbaugh, Marklesburg, Fouse, Entriken, Hummel/Beaver, Russell, and Cove to name a few where iron ore could be loaded for transport to a larger rail line.  



The above map shows the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad line with stops throughout Huntingdon County.  In 1877, there were 32 stations located on the line, 81 bridges, 10 wood and water stations, and the line had run 16,938 tons of iron and other ores.


In 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad built their own north-south line, which took traffic away from the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad.  The iron ore mines closed along Tussey Mountain about 1918.  Eventually, the Broad Top coal fields were depleted, and the H&BTM RR was reduced to predominantly passenger trains through 1953.  The H&BTM RR officially closed in 1954. 


It is amazing that there was such an industry in such a small area that necessitated rail line stops and spurs to haul the iron ore out of the Tussey Mountain.  Mining was a livelihood for many local people.  The Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain Railroad also provided jobs and a means of transportation for both iron ore and passengers of the Woodcock Valley.


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