Although I contemplated it a few times, I am not sure I saw the end coming - at least not this abruptly. The journey, which began nearly thirteen years ago, has been a good one. It's hard to imagine, but when I created my first web page in 1999 there were few genealogy websites other than RootsWeb. They offered free web space so I took a go at it and have never stopped. Similar to the county page formats, my sites included narratives of my direct family and their branches with easy-to-navigate links to census, biographies, obituaries, marriage, birth, death, and additional pages for headstone photos.
I began my first website, "Moore and Pilcher, the Ancestors and Descendants of Thomas A. Moore and Clarissa V. Pilcher," with the hope of connecting with other descendants. I knew I had unique and first-hand information from old family letters dating back to 1827 regarding my Mossman ancestors. Through this line I made a contact and friend, Kathy O'Connell, whose organizational skills and photo journaling are to be admired. I also received a great deal of information on T.A. Moore's sister, Cinthia, wife of John Harris, through descendant Carol Hodges who has also continued to maintain contact with me all these years. Glenn Pilcher kindly emailed me a CD containing nearly 200 headstone photos from the Winslow Pilcher cemetery in Fayette Co., Illinois. My Ballard cousin, Margaret Meredith Arrington, shared her family history which was equally as interesting as the lovely old photos, and from our first correspondence made me feel like family. I also must mention Connie Nisinger whom I "met" on Find A Grave. Over the years she has photographed countless headstones for me relating to these St. Louis families, and has become a friend who shares my love for felines and flowers.
Documenting my paternal line, I created the "Davidson and Arbuckle of Scotland" website. When I first started genealogy in 1990, I knew nothing more than the names of my dad's grandparents, so uncovering the births, christenings, and census records through the Family History Library and viewing them on microfilm prior to the days of internet, was quite a thrill. Susan Edminster, an Arbuckle descendant, was one of the first to contact me with additional information and has become a friend and fellow blogger. Her research is thorough and her videos are to be envied. I must also make mention the kindness of Walter Stewart of Cambridgeshire, who although not related, photographed my family headstones at the Old Alberlemno Cemetery in Scotland. What a special treat that was! If not for the website, I probably would not have been contacted by author Gerard Giordano. He found my webpages referring to my grandparents life on the Arizona dams, and in his book, "The Verde River: Bartlett and Horseshoe Dams, " devoted much of chapter seven to their story. Nothing has quite made me as proud as convincing my grandmother, Connie (Neagle) to respond to his inquiries because I know when she held that book in her hands, she also held some pride for her part in Arizona's history. She passed away just two years later at the age of ninety-nine.
"The Daily Branches of Clark County, Indiana" website was created during these first years as well, and is relative to my husband's maternal line. Since the Daily family was a pioneer family of that county and married into other early families, I made certain to follow all of the spouses' families and piece them together as well. Over the years, I have received hundreds of emails regarding these early families. Almost from the beginning I exchanged emails from Renee Daily Hill and David James. David has sent me copies of cherished old Mexican War letters from Matamoros, Mexico, as well as other old documents and family photos mostly via snail mail. We've enjoyed the journey and have uncovered some interesting items over the years including the speculation of John Smith being his biological great grandfather - a story I blogged about recently titled "Resurrecting the Memory of John Smith."
My fourth website, "The Peters, Early Settlers of Petersburg, Monroe County, Michigan," has undoubtedly received the most traffic. My correspondence with dozens of researchers precedes my days on the internet with contributors such as Liana Brunell Trombley and Nancy Elder Petersen. Hal Peters and his brother John digitally photographed the book, "A History of Richard Peters of Halfmoon (now Clifton Park, NY) and his Descendants" by Leone Peters Kleinheinz and sent me a copy on CD. This book has been very instrumental in tracing the branches of the family, and included Mary "Polly" Peters who married Thomas Smith. The ancestry of this Smith family has long intrigued many, including Patty Furrer and Brooke Adams, who have each contributed information and photos. The Peters' website, however, would not have been complete or nearly as gratifying without the generous contributions of Carolyn McPherson, who shared old and new photos of Bloomville, New York, as well as the beautifully preserved album of her grandmother, Hannah (Rich) Peters. It's been a joy exchanging emails with Carolyn all these years. Her friendship, guiding force, and editing expertise have been instrumental in keeping me afloat on those occasions when all seemed overwhelming.
Although I had the privilege of receiving nearly a hundred letters from my dearest mentor, Uncle Eduardo Rossomanno, whose genuine love and affection strengthened the bond I felt toward our Italian heritage, it was the internet which tied up the loose ends of a lost family. Due to the language barrier, when my great grandfather, Armando Laratta and his wife Eleanora, had both passed away, letters between the family in St. Louis and our family in Southern Italy ended. Fast forward about six decades when I received an email from my cousin Adele, a great granddaughter of Armando's sister Antonia. Since I've always felt a deep connection to my Italian roots, I was overjoyed to receive that first email and always enjoy hearing from them. My deepest thanks and love to Adele, Antonia, and all the family in Crotone for the stories, documents, lovely gifts, and affection they have bestowed upon me. Baci, baci.
Having created four websites for each paternal and maternal family of myself and my husband, I would not have imagined there would be more, but in 2004, a Moore relation, Joyce Franz, shared with me a headstone of Solomon Slayback who was a veteran of the War of 1812. His daughter had married Isaac Cook Moore, the brother of my 2nd great grandfather, and his headstone had been photographed by Gene Beals who had researched all of the veterans buried in Glenwood Cemetery of Collinsville, Madison County, Illinois. After discovering the amount of research Gene had put into applying for and having headstones placed for each of the veterans, I offered to create a website so that the military data and headstone photos could be enjoyed by their descendants. This project then led to additional cemeteries in Collinsville and included soldiers who had participated in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish American War, WWI, WWII and the Korean War. In all, nearly 200 veterans had been given their own memorial page with as much information as we could obtain. As a bonus, I was honored to have received photo contributions of the foreign cemeteries by photographer Eric Dankbar of the Netherlands.
In the year following, I volunteered to create another military oriented website for Gene for the Sons of Spanish American War Veterans, Nelson A. Miles Camp No. 610. Following this, I created two additional websites; Brant Military Hospital - Burlington, Ontario, Canada; and the 93rd Aero Squadron, Third Pursuit Group, First Army A.E.F. - all which I continued to update and maintain knowing they had been helpful not only to the descendants but to scholars, researchers, and illustrators Allen D. Toelle and William Boucher, the latter whose WWI Aviation Pictorial History website is beautifully informative.
Also of use to many students and historical researchers, has been my "Early St. Louis" website which I began in 2007 in hopes of learning more about the associates of Joshua Pilcher, the fur trader and Indian Agent who succeeded Manuel Lisa in the Missouri Fur Company, and William Clark as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. A most fascinating man, I have dedicated a blog of the same name and shall continue to add information on that blog as I continue my research.
There is no way to list all the people who have emailed me, the authors, or dozens who had contributed to the websites. I am sure there are those who offered significant amounts of data who I have failed to mention, but please know how important each of your contributions have been to me and others over the years. Without sounding like a braggart, I'd like to express how proud I am of all we were able to offer the world wide web, and as a researcher how much it meant to see my links and name show as author or authority of a subject in newspapers, school papers, historical and genealogical society websites and newsletters, forums, websites, and books. It's been a honor, and retiring the websites will no doubt be life altering after spending 8 to 10 hours each day researching, answering emails, and adding data which ultimately amounted to more than 2500 separate webpages and nearly 10, 000 files.
It's hard to say goodbye to so many years of research, so hopefully you have not minded indulging me in paying a small tribute to those who shared so much. Best wishes to each of you in your research, and may some of my research tips and stories included on this blog be of value to you.