Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dismantling my Brick Wall - Zora Johnson

Well here she is. My "alien" ancestor. Zora Johnson, she just vanished into thin air. Well, maybe she just got back on the mother ship and flew far away from this place. At times I do not blame her. I just wish she left a forwarding address. At least I have this picture to help pick her out in the stadium filled with lost ancestors.

Posted by Picasa

Join me in my quest to break down my “Brick Wall” and find my Zora.

I have been on the hunt for ancestors for what seems like a lifetime and I think some of my hunting desire has rubbed off on my mom. She has been a great help with our Schmidt/Heckrote side of the family. I am so happy to have a tag-team partner on this line. We will slowly dismantle our Brick Wall and find all the answers on the other side, I just know it.

I am very fortunate to have so many people on maternal side of the family who are family researchers of sorts. It all started with my Great Uncle who joined the Mormon Church. It was his following and converting many family members to follow the Mormon beliefs that really got the ball rolling on our family history. Because of him and other great aunts and uncles, I have been blessed with many stories and mini bios on various Schmidt family members. How much of the work has been proved is the question. I find myself hunting down the “facts” to make sure I along with the rest of the family is heading in the right direction.

It is my other maternal line that gives me problems. The key problem of course is Zora Johnson. I wonder if she gave her parents as much of a problem that she is giving me. If she did, I now know where my son gets it.

Here goes the dismantling.

Step 1: What I wish to know.
I would love to be able to find the exact birth date of Zora. Who was her family before she was an adult and got married? With a name like "Johnson" it is like drowning in a pool of mistaken identities. Where did she run off to once her daughter Pearl was born and then sent to live with her ½ brother Ed and his family? When did she die? Where was she buried?

Step 2: What I do know and how I am sure.
I know her name is Zora Johnson or maybe it is Izora or Nora Johnson. She was born about 1888 in Pennsylvania. She lived in Talmar, Columbia County, PA when she was young. Her father’s name was William M. Johnson. I know she was divorced from her husband Fredrick Swisher and was a house keeper to a Dribelbiss family. I also know she had two children Clayton Swisher and Pearl Dribelbis.

Proof: Marriage record of Frederick Swisher and Zora Johnson from Columbia County, PA dated August 8, 1903. This record lists her age as 17 years, she was a resident of Talmar, PA and her father’s name as William M. Johnson.

Divorce between Frederick Swisher and Zora Swisher dated March 11,1907.

Will of Dallas Dribelbis dated February 25, 1911 lists her daughter Pearl Dribelbis. Which means Zora must have existed and been a part of this family for a little while.

Conversation / Interview notes with Jerry Travelpiece that took place on June 1, 1996. He remembered a woman came to keep house for the Dallas Dribelbis family when the wife/mother of that family became ill. In the interview it was implied that there was a relationship between Dallas and the house keeper and that is where Pearl came along.

In the 1910 Federal Census, Johnson Township, Columbia Co., PA you will find this family. Head of house: Dallas Dribelbis (age 62, widow); Servant: Izora Johnson (age 22, divorced); Daughter of servant: --- Pearl (age 3); Son of servant: --- Clayton (age 5).

After Dallas passed away Pearl went to live with her 1/2 brother and you will find Clayton in a few public records living once again with his father Frederick Swisher. I can not find Zora anywhere. The few people that I have been able to interview that remember her do not have any idea where she went.

Step 3: Can't find her, where do I look?

I know she was alive when her daughter Pearl was married and had at least one child. I do have a picture of standing with Pearl and her husband. Pearls children do not remember anything about her. Did she remarry? What kind of work did she do after Dallas passed? Where did she die? Where and with who was she buried? Would she have been buried as Johnson, Swisher or Dribelbis?

If there is anyone out there that can help me find my dear Zora, I would do the longest most happiest "happy dance" there ever was. This is my Brick Wall that I am having such a hard time breaking down.

If you are reading this and have answers, helpful tips, or are looking at a post about yourself [Zora - I know you are reading this, having a good laugh], please feel free to contact me.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My thoughts about BRICK WALLS

I feel that family historians are like long distance runners and we will normally hit that wall in every project that we do. Maybe I just say this to comfort myself knowing that with my lungs a marathon is something I will never accomplish. I have however, watched and helped my husband train for multiple marathons during our life together. It seems like one of the hardest things to prepare for and accomplish. I feel that just like a runner needs to learn to push pass, climb over or knock down that wall so do I.

I feel that the genealogy brick wall is like a HUGE STOP SIGN and when I come to a place in my research that I just can’t seem to get passed, I tend to feel frustrated and sometimes will even give up the search for months at a time.

My motivation has to come from within; no one is standing there with a tow truck to pull me through. Who can push me or help me over the brick walls in research. I need to dig down deep and keep going, now IS NOT the time for me to stop.

I can’t imagine that everyone that has ever searched for their ancestors has not come up against a brick wall; one of my brick walls is my G-Great Grandma Zora Johnson. By the time I started to track her down through all the normal resources that I knew about I was ready to simply admit that she was an alien and truly was never part of my family.

Let me just say if you are facing this very problem; you just can’t seem to go anywhere or worse everywhere you go is a dead end with a HUGE brick wall standing there. DO NOT GIVE UP, but draw on some creative juices and look for the alternatives.

I must NOT sit in front of Grandma Zora with nothing to say, or in front of my computer staring at a blank results. I must not accept that “person not found” google result. It’s time to make a move, try this or that and cover EVERY avenue that comes into my mind. I will find out what happened to her. She could not have gotten on the “Mother Spaceship” and flown away. Come on out Zora, “Come Out, Come Out where ever you are.”

Well, that is just my thoughts on those pesky Brick Walls.

Thanks for reading.

Genealogy Gems

I have been a listener of Genealogy Gems podcasts for quite a while. I have recently become a premium member of the site. Listening to podcasts on starting a blog I felt encouraged enough to give it a try. So here it is after about 15 years of research I am ready to spread my wings a bit more.

My history.

I became very interested in family history at a young age. In 1994, my senior year of high school, I spent many hours sitting at the local library in front of Microfilm projectors. I was always the only one searching through the local history and biography section of the library. My friends and classsmates at that time just didn't understand my obsession with family history.

I bought my first computer in 1995 when I was 19 years old. The first program I remember buying was a family tree program I got for $5 at Kmart. This opened me up to a world of charts and databases.

Then along came the internet. It was a slow moving hard to manage "monster" in those days. The only information I could find was on message boards posted by other family history researchers. It could take hours sometimes just to "dial-up" those boards and have the pages load.

WOW, what wonderful stories and connections I made in those good old Internet dinosaur days. Today, I am amazed at all the new and wonderful information that is loaded on the Internet everyday. Towns, Counties and States are loading old records, google is scanning and posting more books than I could ever imagine, and millions of people are uploading pictures and stories of their lives every hour.

I hope to use this blog to share my past research along with my new research. Perhaps, together we can break down those brick walls. We could fill in those large holes. Rake up all the leaves that were lost in the wind and find order in the pile we create.

I hope you enjoy sharing my joys, pitfalls, and accomplishments in this wonderful world of genealogy. I look forward to meeting many great new cousins and friends.

Thank you for reading.