Weekend Road Trip

My weekend trip back to the homeland was a welcome respite from life in Dayton. It was good to experience the peace and quiet, the sound of the crickets and the tree frogs and the distant roar of the drag strip. That roar was there when I was growing up out there and I just associate it with the other sounds in the area.

My visit to the Westfield Cemetery was pretty much a bust. I found the family plot but very few headstones, particularly not the ones I was interested in. There was a large stone in the center of the plot with “Ossman” carved across the front. There was absolutely nothing to mark the graves of my aunt and two cousins. I should have a mailing address for the cemetery somewhere. I guess I can write to the cemetery office and see what information they’ll provide.

After the cemetery I made my way to the parking area above Chautauqua Gorge where I met several members of the Northcoast Naturists for a group freehike through the Gorge to Skinny-Dip Falls. I’ve never gotten into hiking before but the freehike was quite enjoyable and the water at the falls was cold and refreshing. I hear there may be another group hike later in the summer. I’ll attend if at all possible. I’ll certainly be better prepared.

After I got back from New York, Dad and I looked at a couple of covered bridges. I got some nice pictures (see my Flickr in the sidebar). As always, it was good to spend time with Dad. I would have liked to have helped him some with his firewood but I was recovering from a pulled muscle in my back and didn’t want to risk aggravating it further. I’m sure my hike didn’t help it much.

I spent Sunday relaxing before I made the drive home. Dad suggested that I get some sun in the backyard and said I could do it bare-assed if I wanted. The offer was tempting but maybe I’ll do that next time. The only neighbor keeps to himself, there’s nothing but wetlands all around and hardly anyone ever drops by unexpectedly. I was surprised to hear that idea coming from him. He’s full of surprises.

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Projects & Road Trip

Since I’ve begun working again, I haven’t adjusted to having less time to get things done. I’m overwhelmed by my to-do list. There are so many projects, big and small, demanding my attention. A lot of household projects were put off due to fiscal constraints and now that the finances are starting to look better, I can do some of them. The question is “Where do I start?” Do I tackle the major projects or the smaller ones? After almost five years of forced frugality, I’m reluctant to spend money just because I have it.

I’ve also got other ongoing projects. I’ve been working on migrating my home network from Windows to Linux. My Windows servers are showing their age and Microsoft’s support for the operating system is about to disappear. I’ve been able to scrounge more up-to-date hardware and I’ve got the Linux distros. It’s a matter of setting aside some time to install, configure and test. Last month I put in a Network Attached Storage device and copied my data from the Windows servers to it. Once I’ve got the Linux servers online and configured, I’ll be able to retire the Windows servers although I’m trying to think of new uses for them.

Before I get into the projects I’m planning a weekend getaway to relax a bit, organize my thoughts, meditate, visit a cemetery, and maybe get in a little skinny-dipping. A visit to the “Farm” is always an opportunity to relax because it’s generally so quiet and peaceful. Even the sounds of the dragstrip in the distant seem like they belong as much as the crickets and the treefrogs.

I wasn’t able to find the correct Ossman family plot when I went up to Westfield last year but now I have a better idea of where to find it so I’ll revisit the cemetery and get the pictures. I’m hoping (but not expecting) that the stones will have full dates on them. After the cemetery, I’m planning on heading down to Skinny-Dip Falls to meet up with the Northcoast Naturists and hike down to the gorge with them. I probably only stay two or three hours there so I can get back to Footville at a reasonable time.

Footville & Westfield Visit

I finally made my way up to Footville to visit Dad for a couple of days. I had originally intended to go up the previous weekend but I had some oral surgery late in the week and I didn’t think it would be prudent to make the drive while taking pain killers. When I called Dad last week to let him know I was coming, he told me that he was going to visit Ruth but I was welcome to stay anyway. Since I planned to go up on Friday and return Monday, I’d get to spend some time with him. Since part of the trip was to do some research and just relax, it worked out pretty well. I had considered postponing the trip another week but I’m needed for the big move this weekend.

On the way up I paid a visit to the Genealogy and Local History Room at the Morley Library in Painesville. Armed with my list of obituaries, I began looking them up in the Telegraph and News-Herald archives. I managed to locate all but one of the obituaries on my list. I couldn’t get Mabel (Warren) Pettit’s because there was apparently an error when that edition of the paper was filmed and the obituary page was not filmed. Now I should have nearly all of my grandaunts and granduncles in the Warren and Webster lines. In the next few days, I’ll be working to get them on the web page.

On Saturday, I drove up to Westfield to see if I could find the graves of Aunt Pat and my cousins, Jeff and Vicki Ossman. I located the church but, apparently the cemetery next to the church was not the correct cemetery. It’s the St. James Cemetery and, as far as I know, they were all buried in the Westfield Cemetery, located around the corner on Academy Street. It turned out that the cemetery is much larger than I had anticipated. I began walking up and down rows of graves and stumbled upon an Ossman family plot but it the John and Minnie Ossman family plot. I wander through a few sections and realized that finding the graves would be a stroke of luck and I could easily spend the entire day looking. I had forgotten to write down Uncle Paul’s number before I left the house. I did find a sign which had an address for the Westfield Cemetery Association. I’ll write and see if they can provide me with some information. I’ll try again next summer.

The trip to Westfield has a secondary objective, Skinny-Dip Falls in Chautauqua Gorge. I headed in the general direction based on what I thought I remembered from the directions I’d received. Unfortunately, I did not remember them correctly, nor did I remember to print them and bring them with me from Dayton. It turns out I had passed by the side road which would have led me to it. Another reason to make a trip next summer.

I spent the time alone at the house relaxing, doing some yoga, and reading. During the day, I spent as much time outdoors as I could as it was warmer outside than it was inside the house. The house is very well insulated, to say the least. Whenever I was in the house, I found it necessary to don a sweatshirt.

The book I was reading was Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. It’s a factual account of Plymouth Colony in the 55-years between the voyage of the Mayflower and King Phillip’s War. He tells the real stories behind the myths and the stories the myths either don’t mention or they gloss over them. Fascinating reading and several direct ancestors are pivotal characters. It certainly gave me a new appreciation for the hardships they faced in coming to New England. The book also gave me a greater understanding of the differences between the Puritans and the Pilgrims. Though they had similar religous views, the Pilgrims were generally much more tolerant than the Puritans.

The time with my father was well-spent. I always come away with some new knowledge and practical lessons in farmer-engineering and self-sufficiency.

Visitng the Family Estate

It was good get up to Footville for a couple of days. It’s a sanctuary, a place where I can get away from suburban life, enjoy some peace and quiet, find solitude and just relax, listening to the crickets and the tree frogs. Even the roar of the drag strip in the distance seems to be in harmony with the surroundings.

This was the first time I’d been up there since the funeral. I really should try to get up there more often, especially in the warmer months. The graduation party for Katie and Cody provided the official reason for the trip although it’s not really necessary to have a reason. The party turned out well. The weather cooperated completely — sunny, not too warm, with a nice gentle breeze. Dad rented a big canopy along with some tables and chairs. There was plenty of food and drink though some were a little disappointed there wasn’t any beer. But beer isn’t necessary to have a good time.

The drive up and back was good. There wasn’t too much construction and the weather held out. It wasn’t until the first rest stop on the way back that I dug out the owner’s manual and figured out how to use the cruise control. The older I get the more I have to RTFM.

I definitely need to get back up there at least once more this summer. It’s home and I can feel the love there.

Putka Immigration, Ellis Island

All of my plans to conduct any research on my trip to Footville fell through. Even without all the snow up there and the power outage, I would not have been able to get near the Chardon Library anyway. The Maple Festival, which used to be earlier in March, is now the first weekend in April. I had contemplated going to the Morley Library in Painesville on the way home but there just wasn’t time yesterday.
I’ll have to plan a research trip soon to look up obituaries and check out the collections at the Morley, Chardon, and Geneva libraries. I will have to make a point to go to the local Family History Center and request the films for the Blakeslee probate documents.

This evening, I did some research on the Putka line. I revisited the Ellis Island records for Andreas Putka, Anna Putka, and Zsofia Piszkura. I saved the images of the original manifests and noted the information. Much of the information matches what I know about them. The final destination for each of them was Cleveland. Relatives paid for passage. His uncle, Paul Putka, paid for Andrew’s (Andreas) passage. Anna’s was paid for by M. Putka, her brother. Could this be Michael Putka? Zsofia’s trip was paid for by her brother, Janos Piskura. I’m pretty sure these are the right people as everything matches so well. Zsofia Piszkura would have been the Hungarian spelling of Sofia Piskura.

I found Anna and her husband Joseph Visocki in the 1910 census. There’s an Andrew Putka listed on the same page. The entry shows him as single and 24. That’s the right age but the year of immigration doesn’t match. It shows him living with his widowed mother, Anna, age 60. The entry shows that she only had one child. I know my great-grandfather had at least one sibling, Anna, and there’s a strong possibility that Michael Putka is his brother.

Research Plans

I’ve been working on peripheral family lately, particularly, Sweet and Betts spouses. Yesterday, I followed a couple of clues in Willis Webster’s obituary and found some information on one of Hazel Arnold’s daughters, Odalita. There were two stepdaughters mentioned but only by their husband’s names. The other was a Mrs. Robert Phillips. It could have been either Sylva or Charlotte. The husband’s name is so common that it’s almost impossible to trace down without more information. Maybe Hazel’s obituary would provide more information.

I’m traveling up to Footville this weekend to help Laura take care of the folks. I’m planning to visit the Chardon library on the way in, stopping long enough to get those probate documents for Cooper and Uri Blakeslee and get a look around. I’m taking a vacation day Monday and planning to visit the Morley Library in Painesville to look up some obituaries. I’m particularly interested in finding Warren and Webster obituaries. I’d like to take a look at other records in their collection, especially birth, cemetery, and marriage records.

Found a lot of Spaller information today. I still can’t find any sort of death record for Evelyn M. Spaller Warren. Every Evelyn Warren I’ve found has died before 2000. The obituary index item for her sister, Lois M. Luhta, lists her. I’m assuming that she’s listed because she was still living. I may have to look up the obituary to be sure.

Romig Census Data

I made a few finds in the censuses today. I found Uncle Charles in the 1930 census. He was in Cleveland and the name was spelled Romick. No luck in the 1920 census though. He wasn’t married yet and he may still have been living in Footville. That part of Trumbull Township was missed in the 1920 census. I still haven’t been able to locate any information on Uncle Nate (Rini).

I also found my grandfather’s WWI draft registration. I’ll have to show that to Dad this weekend.

I located some Pettit information as well. The Pettits were from Crawford County, Pennsylvania, just over the state line from the folks.

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