Tag Archives: ancestors

Geotagging Tombstone Photos – I wish I would have!

A while back I was going through some cemetery tombstone photos that I took a couple of years ago. I had found out the married name of one of the daughters in a family I research and was hoping that I might have a picture of her tombstone in the background of another photo. I guess I should back up here and mention that the first couple of times I photographed tombstones, I zoomed in on the individual stone – but then I learned to stand back and get a bit of the general area so that I could later go back and see the surrounding graves.  This way if there were many extended family members in a cemetery, it became easier to figure out who’s who when I got back to my computer to look at the photos. I just need to crop and reduce the photos so that just the relevant tombstone is showing for sites like findagrave. I then save the cropped version and also keep the original one for reference.

Anyway, I was going through the original photos, looking at the backgrounds, when I noticed a partly obscured one that related to yet another family I research. Unfortunately, I needed to get back to the cemetery and get another look and another photo because some of  the dates weren’t visible. Oh how I wish I would have had those original photos geotagged!! (See my previous post about this.) Had it been geotagged, the location (lat-long) of where I was standing when I took the original photo would have been stored and available for me to see. Since it was not geotagged it quite literally took me forever to find the obscured tombstone in the background. This pretty much convinced me I need to start geotagging. Even if the location was off by several feet, it would have gotten me to the right vicinity so much sooner!

I bring this up now because I am hoping to get back out to take some more cemetery photographs soon – as soon as the weather warms up. I am sooo tired of winter!

Murder and Mayhem in the Family Tree

This may seem like a strange topic to post so close to the holidays, but it deals with some information that I have just recently found. It was on my mind, so I decided to post it now rather than later.

For the most part my ancestors and their relatives led very normal, ordinary lives. Most of them were law-abiding, upstanding citizens. Not to say they were perfect. Naturally, there were some scandalous behaviors and skeletons in the closets. There were children who were born (or at least conceived) out-of-wedlock. There was also the 2x great uncle who died of exposure when he fell down drunk coming home late one cold winter night and was not found until morning! Tragic, but not criminal.

Every once and a while, however, I actually do come across someone in my extended family tree who finds themselves on the wrong side of the law. My latest discovery happened just a few days ago. I was looking through an online newspaper collection for obituaries from the late 1940’s when a headline about a murder arrest caught my eye. I was pretty sure the person being arrested was in my database, and sure enough he was. He was my Dad’s second cousin! Continue reading

Genealogy Mystery – Children of Jacob and Mary (Shimer) Keeley

I have decided to try something new. I am thinking that I will try to post a “Genealogical Mystery of the Month.” Who knows, perhaps someone will read it and be able to help!

If you have seen my genealogy website, you will know that one of the families I have researched extensively is the Keeley/Keely family of Chester County, PA.  Jacob Keeley, who was born March 25, 1758 and died April 13, 1814, was my 4th great grandfather. Jacob was the son of Sebastian and Elizabeth. He married Maria (a.k.a. Mary) Shimer, daughter of Michael, on March 17, 1782. Mary died the day after Jacob, on April 14, 1814. They are both buried at Brownback’s Church (present day Spring City, PA).

Per Zion Lutheran Church records: “Jacob Kiele, b. 1757, d. 15 May 1814; son of Sebastian and wife Elizabeth; married 1782; 3 sons and 6 daughters, all living; died of ‘hitsigen fieber.'” [Note that Hitziges Fieber is typhoid fever.] The children are identified in a Chester County Orphan’s Court petition filed October 31, 1814. They were Hannah, widow of John Saylor; Sebastian; Elizabeth, widow of Isaac Stetler; Jacob; George; Mary, wife of Abraham Haas/Hause; Esther; Sarah; and Catherine (the last three being minors.)

So, what became of the nine children? Most of my info (other than my direct line) is sketchy at best, but here’s what I have:

I believe that the eldest, Hannah, the widow of John Saylor, married Jacob Kalb on February 24, 1818. The last record I found for her was the 1850 census, at which time she and Jacob were living in Limerick. Hannah’s known children were Sarah, Maria and John Saylor (with first husband) and Israel Kalb (with second husband). If anyone has further information on her, please contact me.

The next child was Sebastian. He died June 16, 1819 and is buried at Brownback’s Church near his parents. I believe that he married Anna Levengood and that they may have had three children: Jacob (born about 1810 and died before 1900; married first Mary Ann Cassidy and second Catherine Swinehart), Elizabeth (born about 1813; married Peter L. Carl) and Sebastian (born 1817 and died 1899; married Maria Thomas). Unfortunately, this is mostly speculation based on 1) Montgomery County PA land records showing land transactions for a Sebastian Keeley and wife Ann in Limerick township in 1814; 2) New Hanover Lutheran marriage record for a Mrs. Anna Kuhley to Jesse Pennypacker on January 25, 1825; 3) the tombstone of Sebastian saying that it was erected by Jacob and Sebastian Keeley. My hypothesis is that they are his sons and that the afore mentioned Jacob and Sebastian are likely the ones who erected the tombstone. I would really like to hear from anyone with additional information on this family.

The third child was Elizabeth, widow of Isaac Stetler. So far I have been unable to find out if she remarried. There is an Elizabeth Stetler who died in Trappe, Montgomery County, PA on January 26, 1862, but that Elizabeth was aged 70 years, 5 months and 14 days – which doesn’t match the December 18, 1786 birth date for the daughter of Jacob and Mary. So the question remains, what ever happened to Elizabeth?

The next child was the son Jacob who married Sophia Shuler. He apparently died about 1828. That date comes from a biography of his son Davis in the Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chester County, but there are so many errors in that bio that the death date of 1828 must be considered suspect too. So again, specific information on his death date and/or where he is buried would be appreciated.

The fifth child was George. I know that many researchers believe he married Sarah Rooke. However, I believe the George Keeley who married Sarah Rooke was the son of Jacob’s brother John, and thus a cousin to this George, who was born in 1792. So again any information would be appreciated.

The sixth child was Mary who was married to Abraham Haas. She and her husband apparently lived in Philadelphia for a while then removed to Northumberland County, PA, where she died May 3, 1849. The information I have on her and her family comes from a bio of her son-in-law Tobias Shurtz, which seems pretty accurate.

As for the seventh and eight children, Esther and Sarah, I have found no information on either of them and would appreciate any hints, clues, speculation, etc.

The youngest child was Catherine. She married Amos Evans and was my third great-grandmother. I have quite a bit of information on this line on my genealogy website.

So there it is. The mystery is what happened to the children of Jacob and Mary after the parents died in 1814. I’d love to hear from anyone who can add to what I have posted!