This post picks up from installment 3 and concludes Ley-Weible Newsletter No. 1
Connecting with Extended Family
During my visit home to Ohio in March 2010, I made four separate trips to what has to be the largest cemetery in New Philadelphia.
The distinctions between neighboring East Avenue Cemetery and Evergreen Burial Park hardly matter anymore, since the city took over the formerly private sister cemetery. But the cemetery department still keeps separate maps — hard copies, unlike Dover’s, which are all indexed and visible online. But I was lucky enough to stumble upon the superintendent of the cemeteries, who invited me into his office, looked up the names I had brought, and printed me copies of the maps, which is a good thing, since between the two of them, I have ancestors from all branches of my family buried there.
I had actually found Zula’s grave on my first visit, a couple days before asking the superintendent for help. At the time, my memories were confused of the place. I remembered visiting Robert Earl Sr.’s, M.A.’s, and Dickie’s graves there as a kid, and remembered there being a Ley bench, and, it seemed to me, pine trees nearby. Zula’s plot contained a memorial bench, but a white one. And on the reverse of her marker, Fishers. I recognized John W. and Addie M.’s markers, but was unsure of the others. Turns out, most of Zula’s immediate family is buried around her.
Inevitably, it seems in genealogy work, it becomes more than just tracing your direct family lines. By getting to know and tracking all the branches that shoot off from a set of great-grandparents, and great-greats, and great-great-greats, you confirm parents’ names, and the places they lived, and who cared for them when they were older, and who inherited the family farm, say, or whether there are still relatives living in them thar hills.
And following the family’s line to your living relatives can bear much fruit in the way of gaining access to photographs and documents you might not find anywhere else.
In this case, the census records indicate the closeness of Zula and Robert E. Ley Sr. to her oldest brother Clyde, with whom they were living in 1920 when Zula took ill and died tragically. The family was also close to the Fisher side, in whom there was enough trust to place the care of an infant Robert Jr.
Tracing the Fishers back through previous censuses shows a lifelong connection to Tuscarawas County and rural New Philadelphia. The families are large. They farm, as did ancestors in just about every branch of my tree back then. From previous censuses, we see that Zula was fourth of five children: older brothers Clyde, Oscar and Byron, and little sister Alverna. For the 1910 census, Clyde was listed as a school teacher, and the census enumerator that year. Perhaps this occupation, before he became a carpenter, had an influence on Zula’s own educational pursuits, and explains a little of their closeness as they each started their families.
I haven’t begun a concerted effort to trace ALL of this family or other branches of my tree down to living relatives from all the siblings way back when. I know, somehow, that we are related to Chris Fisher from my brother’s class, and that one of his grandparents was a close friend of my Grandma Erma Foutz. But through connections on Ancestry.com made with Noreen Moser, daughter of Clyde and Kathryn’s daughter, Thelma, I gained access to something I hadn’t seen before. Here are pictures of Zula and her family when she was a girl.
I don’t know. Even though we can only piece together so much, it feels good to learn more of who my lost relatives were. And to put a face to our history — one we can smile about for the happiness that was theirs at that time.
To learn more about these members of our family — and to share memories and pictures of your own — visit Geni.com. NEXT TIME: A look at source records and mysteries around Thomas and Janet Morgan (parents of M.A. Weible) and their emigration from Wales.