Sunday, June 24, 2012

What happened to

You all know that Katherine Rawlings quit creating the Rawlin(g)s-Rollin(g)s Family History Association newsletter in 2003 after creating it for 15 years. When she made it known that she would be quitting, I called her for permission to create a website based on the newsletters. She and I had talked about people asking her about a possible website on a couple of occasions. Katherine did not own a computer and did not want one. This all happened when I had retired on disability and was going nuts needing something to do. After receiving Katherine’s permission, I registered the domain I even bought a new multi-function printer at that time so that I would have one with a document feeder to speed up scanning the newsletters. When I decided on a format I opted to do a PDF copy of each newsletter so people could print them and have the newsletter just like we received them originally.  I also created an HTML version of each so that they could be searched online. It took me several weeks to have it up and available.

When I first started on this project, I had planned to create a database of all of the names mentioned in the newsletter. I even found software that supported building and maintaining a database and it was affordable.  I started collecting data from the newsletters. I found it challenging and it was going to be a long project for a single person. I confess that I lost interest in it. I had lots of time, but with my physical problems I can’t sit any longer than 20 minutes without a break. I kept losing my place. I also had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus and needed brain surgery. My doctor said it would not affect my memory or intelligence, but I find my attention span is shorter and I struggle over words now.

Over the years a few people have sent me donations to help with the cost of maintaining the domain for the newsletters. The actual cost is much greater than what I have received. I don’t mind paying the cost of keeping the domain up since I can use its space for other domains that I may want to set up. I have one that is similar to my name that I use to show my family the latest pictures of my grandchildren or my 5 dogs.

I want to spend more time with my own research and family now that I am a grandmother. I have also spent some time examining what I have collected and have made some discoveries. When the 1940 census became available, I found the little piece that told me how my Grandma Mary had become so close to her second husband that he became her second husband. I have been reaching out to my family back in Ohio. That in part is due to a group I belong to on Facebook. We are all current or former residents of Wellsville, Ohio. Through this group I have learned more about the history of the village and the concerns for its future. I have reconnected with family members and friends through this group. In learning more of the history of Wellsville, I discovered how my own family tied into village.

The domain will primarily be the home of the R/RFHA newsletters. I will also add any information that people send to me. Since that will be part of the domain it will automatically become searchable. I have another domain that I will be using for my own research that does not include my Rawlings roots.

DO NOT SEND DONATIONS. I am not trying to solicit donations through this blog entry. I am just explaining the changes to It will still be here with the newsletters and new submissions. I just wanted to explain how I am setting up the domain to protect the newsletters and still allow me to branch out.

Thank you for your interest and support over the years. Keep submitting any information that you want me to add to You can email me at or  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Roamin' Gard

     My grandmother told me about this story during one of my visits to Wellsville, Ohio in the mid-1970’s. She had the piece from the newspaper cut out and framed. I wish now that I had taken it to the library and gotten a copy of it. Instead I have a transcription. One thing I have learned since starting on my genealogy quest is regret. I regret all of those clippings I let slip through my fingers. I regret the many conversations that I did not record. The only thing I can do it recover as much of the information as I can and pass the stories along.
     This is the story of my grandmother’s family and the many rocks on their farm. I have to give a big thank you to “The Roamin’ Gard” for recording this story for me and a thank you to my Aunt Nancy for giving me the transcript.

The Roamin’ Gard
The Stone Fence Riddle Solved
By R. Max Gard
(the following story was published in a local newspaper)
                A few months ago, a story in this column told of some mysterious, long stone fences, and at that time, I had not met anyone who could tell me of their origin. Then one morning, Mrs. Ed (Edna) DeVille, a neighbor who lives about 200 yards from us, called up and told us who built the fences and it is quite a story. Herewith, in her words, is the story of the great stone fences which stand in the Southwest Quarter of Section 30, Franklin Twp. Columbiana Co., Ohio.
                “My Grandmother, Jennie O’Rourke Gillespie, and her three children, Mary, Rose, (My Mother) and Lawrence and two of my grandmother’s unmarried brothers moved to the farm about 1900. It had been purchased by my great uncle, James O’Rourke from a family by the name of MacMahon. My Grandmother, being a widow brought her children and her mother (my Great Grandmother Bridget O’Rourke) from County Meath, Ireland in 1899.
                The first thing they had to do was to clear the stones from the fields. My Aunt Mary said, “It seemed like the Lord had picked up all the stones in the area and dumped them on their farm.”
                Where they had lived in Ireland the fences were made of stone, so that is what they did. None of the stone fences, corral, or anything made of the stones were there when they moved there. My Grandmother would go out in the fields and pick up all the stones she could carry in her apron, and the ones that were too large were moved to where they were on a sled-like drag pulled by horses. Some of the fences were built on top of the stones that were too large to move. There was one big flat stone that looked as big as a house to me when I was small that was located over by the barn. My great uncle use to put salt on it for the farm animals to lick. After much hard work they had some fields on top of the hill cleared. They planted regular farm crops, made hay and did well.
                They raised cows, horses, sheep and pigs, also turkey, ducks and chickens. There were quite a few black snakes around, and they would raid the chicken houses eating the eggs and baby chicks. My Grandmother use to have her vegetable garden in the corral. I suppose she planted it in the corral to keep rabbits and other small animals away from it.
                The last of the family to live there was my Great Uncle James O’Rourke and my Aunt Sara, whom my grandmother adopted in 1913. They left the farm in 1928 and my Great Uncle Tom died in 1918 during the flu epidemic. My Grandmother died in 1921.
                My Aunts Mary Pomplin and Sara Patterson who were raised on the farm, now live in Wellsville.”
                We thank you very much, Mrs. DeVille, for solving the mystery of the stone fences and contributing this interesting addition to Columbiana County History.  


Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Moments I Knew

I could not title this the “moment” I knew because it was a series of events that made me realize I wanted to research my genealogy. I was fortunate to live near both sets of grandparents growing up, but my paternal grandmother was a widow and I never knew my grandfather. I never thought to ask her about Joseph Rawlings since her name was that of her second husband.

Then I found my mother’s family register and she nearly took my skin off telling me that had belonged to her Grandpa Nick and I was not to touch it. I was able to look at this family group sheet from 1909 long enough to recognize my maternal grandmother’s name, but didn’t get a chance to really study it. I was so intrigued that my mouth nearly watered. I should have asked my grandmother about it, but she literally believed in the saying “children should be seen not heard”. When she came to live with us she had developed Alzheimer’s disease before it had that name. She would tell me things like that she spoke German with her parents and that her father did not let her date when she was 21 years old. I did learn some things about her life growing up in a home where the European fashion of living was still the norm and they carried Catholic Missals with the Mass in German.

When I had back surgery in 1995, I attempted to return to work, but was suffering constant pain. I was accustomed to a high-pressure world of creating new banking products in response to our competition. I was at home with nothing to do and going quietly crazy. It was then that everything came together. I got a copy of the family register from my mother. She still would not let me have the original! I made calls to my relatives in Ohio to pick their brains. Then I started recording my mother reminiscing about the past. I had started. I was becoming a genealogist. I did as much research as I could with my computer and the branch of the National Archives in Atlanta. I discovered that my paternal grandfather had been born across the state of Ohio from where I was born and raised. But why did he move so far and without any relatives nearby? Obviously I had to go to my hometown of Wellsville, Ohio and to my Aunt Esther. Esther was related to me by marriage to my father’s brother Joseph. She was the collector of all of the family traditions and faithfully recorded all births, marriages and deaths in her Bible. She had also known my grandfather since she married into the Rawlings family in 1938 or 1939 and my grandfather did not pass away until 1941. She talked about him being away on trips as an engineer on a steam locomotive with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Esther also told me that my grandfather’s mother had died rather young and that his father sent the boy to live with his grandfather. It was more to add to the story, but I still didn’t know their names or where they had lived.

One item that came up for discussion was a phone call my aunt had received from a woman who claimed that her name was also Rawlings and she was trying to discover what had become of Joseph Henry Rawlings, my grandfather. The woman said she knew he had moved to Wellsville. The stranger named Rawlings had called my aunt because she knew that there was a good chance that if there were sons, they may be named Joseph or Henry since those names occurred often in the Rawlings family. Esther’s telephone was still listed as Rawlings, Joseph and Esther and so the searcher called there. My Aunt Esther was trying to be cautious and told Ms. Rawlings that she would have someone call her back. It was over a year later when she was telling me about the telephone call and all I could do was hope she had kept the caller’s information. My great luck was holding; she had placed the name and telephone number in her Bible.

Nervously I called Teresa Rawlings the next day hoping that she would remember calling my aunt. She not only remembered, she was pleased to hear from me. I learned that day that my grandfather was called “Little Joe” by his father and other relatives. His father’s name was Andrew Johnson Rawlings rather than John as I had found in my baby book. She had married into the Rawlings family of Meigs County, Ohio which was across the state from my hometown in Columbiana County. Her husband Donald was the grandson of Andrew Johnson Rawlings. But wait, Andrew was my great-grandfather but the grandfather of Donald who was only 4 years older than me. After my great-grandmother had died, my great-grandfather eventually remarried and fathered 3 more children. The youngest was Raymond Vincent the father of Teresa’s husband Donald.

Andrew Johnson Rawlings

I visited my newly found relatives several months later. I learned while there that my grandfather had moved across the state to work on the railroad. He didn’t care for being a farmer. I shared pictures of my father and his siblings and Teresa showed me the notes that my grandfather had written to his father.

Each day holds the promise of new discoveries. Recently I found the granddaughter of my father’s sister Gladys. This granddaughter has access to photographs of my grandfather whom I had never seen. I have now seen the wedding photograph of Joseph Henry Rawlings and Mary Gillespie. I have even seen Mary as a beautiful blonde 4-year old.

Every morning I get up wondering what I may discover.