My Family’s Stories

A “Blue Devil”: Joseph Aloysius Downey

As much as I enjoy researching the family histories of other people, my greatest satisfaction comes from exploring my own family’s history. It is especially satisfying when that research helps answer questions that may have been left unanswered for decades. This is one of those times. James Downey (1847- c. 1910) was born in Ireland…

The White Hill Chain Works of Fieldsboro, New Jersey

Old photographs often offer glimpses of what life was like for our ancestors, and the world in which they lived and worked. One such photograph of the White Hill Chain Works in my own collection did just that. All I had to do was take the time to look. During the 19th century the area…

Michael Sunningshine and The Rocket’s Red Glare

One of the most fascinating things about conducting family history, whether your own or someone else’s, is the discovery of personal connections to significant historic events. My fourth great-grandfather, the subject of this post, was present at an event that has become part of the shared American consciousness. The greatest challenge of studying the Sunningshine…

Harry Ashworth 1944-1945

When I was pursuing my master’s degree in military history, I decided that I wanted to give my grandfather an opportunity to help me document his military service. I created a questionnaire for him to fill out, and told him that I would not share any of the information he provided until after he, and…

Harry Ashworth 1943-1944

I use this blog as a chance to explore, and help others discover, the lives of people in their families and communities. It is fun, and therapeutic, for me to spend my free-time researching and writing about people whose lives may not have received any attention at all until now. This time I continue my…

Harry Ashworth 1942-1943

I use this blog as a chance to explore, and help others discover, the lives of people in their families and communities. It is fun, and therapeutic, for me to spend my free-time researching and writing about people whose lives may not have received any attention at all until now. This time I continue my…

When Harry Met Myrtle

I use this blog as a chance to explore, and help others discover, the lives of people in their families and communities. It is fun, and therapeutic, for me to spend my free-time researching and writing about people whose lives may not have received any attention at all until now. This time I continue my…

Young Harry Ashworth

I use this blog as a chance to explore, and help others discover, the lives of people in their families and communities. It is fun, and therapeutic, for me to spend my free-time researching and writing about people whose lives may not have received any attention at all until now. This time I am going…

A Document Unlocks a Life: Francis McManus

When conducting family history research sometimes a single document holds the key that unlocks an ancestor’s story that otherwise has been forgotten. Just such a document revealed itself while I was conducting research into the history of my great-grandmother Elnor Josephine McManus’s (1890-1975) family. This document, concerning her brother Francis (Frank) McManus’s (1886-1935) admittance to…

10,000 Miles: Jesse William Learish & the USS Asheville

One of the most enjoyable exercises in family history is when one is given a photograph of someone whose name or life has been lost to history. They stare out at you from the image, longing to be identified and to have their story told. My wife’s family had in their collection an image of…

The Last Chapter: Frank Foote Part Three

Frank Foote, Jr. was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of George Clawson in December 1861 and experienced violence and death as a soldier during the Civil War from 1862 until 1865. He returned home to Cincinnati after the war to begin the last chapter of his short life, accompanied by the ghosts of…

“On the Front Line All the Time.”: Frank Foote Part Two

Frank Foote, Jr., convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of George Clawson in December 1861, found himself enlisted in Company I, 70th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in early 1862. He served in the regiment from 1862 until 1865, experienced a number of bloody engagements, until his discharge and return to Cincinnati. It is unclear exactly…

“A Surly and Offensive Reply”: Frank Foote Part One

When studying an ancestor’s personal story, I often wonder how the events and actions they experienced impacted the course of their lives. In the case of my 3rd-great-uncle, Frank Foote, Junior, there is little doubt his death was hastened by the violence of his youth. (The Foote surname is spelled Foote and Foot in the…

Cleverest Young Boxer

Conducting family history and genealogy can be very rewarding for all the wonderful stories and people that you discover along the way. Family histories are also where one discovers the tragedies that one’s family has had to endure over the years. The story of Ernest “Kid” Eppenstiner, an up-and-coming boxer of the 1910s, is one…

The Acadian – Jean Poirier

One of the more interesting exercises in undertaking the study of family history in the United States is determining who was the very first, the “alpha” ancestor to arrive in North America for a specific family line. That individual may not be the most interesting of the family but their name can claim the unique…

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2023.

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