Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Tombstone research with my son

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Father & Son

Civil War Sgt. Francis Blair Pearsol 1832-1899

Abraham Lincoln Pearsol 1857-1916

Friday, July 24, 2009

Doyles on old maps

I realized there are more useful ways I can use the University of Pittsburgh's historic Pittsburg maps. After all the work I did searching for the Doyles in the 1900 Census and confirming that they lived at 1586 Second Avenue, I could probably find them on a map. Now, if only I could determine where 1586 Second Avenue was. I know it is Hazelwood. 22nd Ward. But the maps don't show house numbers. This is going to take some digging...

Pursels or Pearsols?

Peter Pearsol, my ever-standing brick wall has opened several doors of late. Unfortunately, behind those doors are more questions. Questions proving to be rather difficult.

I was once told a family story that someone in our Pearsol tree had received a land grant from William Penn. I learned last night that these land grants were not from Penn himself but from his descendants. I encountered this page in the University of Pittsburgh archives explaining the disemination of land once owned by the Penns to settlers of Pennsylvania and veterans of the Revolutionary war. The land that was to become Allegheny County was divided up and granted to many. I scanned the list of men who received and and there he was, Peter Pursel. Not Peter Pearsol but Peter Pursel. He acquired land in 1816 in what is now Oakmont.

The man I know as Peter Pearsol, father of Civil War sergent Francis Blair Pearsol appears in the 1830 Federal Census as Peter Pursel. In Jefferson Township/West Elizabeth, along the banks of Peters Creek. Many Pearsols lived along this creek around the turn of the 19th century. It is unlikely that they are unrelated, but I cannot claim it to be true without proof.

My next task is to visit the cemeteries and churches in this region. Lobb's Run Cemetery,
Jefferson Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, Lebanon Presbyterian Cemetery, Clairton Cemetery and Round Hill Cemetery. There are probably others but these are the ones I know of. I have to start somewhere.

Were we Pearsols or were we Pursels? What's the difference? I can think of one. Pearsol is an English name. Pursel is an Irish name. Perhaps we aren't who we thought we were...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Software Wishlist

Often in my research I find question. A question that I could answer with infinite time sorting through my records. A question I wish I had software to answer.

Here are a few, as they come to mind.

1. I would like to sort for all marriages in Pittsburgh, PA after records began in 1885. And then sort by those for which I do not yet have marriage record sources.

2. I want to be able to find women by both married names and maiden names, not just one or the other.

3. I want to more easily sort geographically. I am going to try but I wish the software I already pay for had such abilities.

4. I want my research to be marked as mine. I am not perfect and have made mistakes. My mistakes have been copied by others thinking my work to be gospel, and I cannot undo the error.

5. I want to make "possible" matches online. I "think" these two people may be the same. I want to continue to investigate without having to start over every day. I don't want other to see the match, however, and run with it as true. If you can support my research, please do, but don't copy it until I prove it.

To be continued...

Monday, July 13, 2009

an uncle?

I am sorting through the 1830 census. I found Peter Pearsol (Pursel). He lived in Jefferson Township, as he would 50 years later. The neat fact? Next door to him were Francis Blare and James Blair. Those aren't middle names, those are last names. Perhaps Francis Blair Pearsol (Peter's son) was named after... his uncle? Could Peter's wife, Sara, have been Sara Blair?

*giddy happy dance*

(click for larger image)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Brick Wall, Go Away!

Last night I was able to break through a brick wall. I have had trouble with my father's father's father's family for years. Doyles. In Pittsburgh. In the early 1900's. I'm lucky they aren't Jones' or Smiths. For the longest time I searched blindly for my great grandfather and his parents, under the impression that his father's name was Joseph. For years I thought his name was Joseph but I could not find a Joseph that matched the dates I had. Then this past fall I tried instead to search for my grandfather's uncle "Patsy," and there they were, my great grandfather and his 9 siblings and parents. His father's name? Anthony. Not Joseph. That explained a lot. According to the censuses of 1880 and 1910, Anthony had come from Ireland in 1872. I took this information and soldiered on.

Anthony Doyle was a ghost. He appeared in the 1880 census and 1910 but no where in between. Neither did his wife or children. Did they leave Pittsburgh? Not likely, I knew my great grandfather had been born in Pittsburgh in 1889. I searched the city directories at and found their address. They were in the city, on 2nd Avenue. The city directories explained where 2nd Avenue ran and what city wards it passed through. I took these notes and went back to the census.

I started in the city and worked my way outward, one page at a time. The 1900 census wonderfully shows the street name and house number so I simply had to scan that first column of each page. I worked my way through the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 14th wards through thousands of Pittsburghers, stopping occasionally to skim interesting facts, names and addresses. I noted each time the census taker had walked 2nd Avenue, and saw from the house numbers that the Doyles were not nearby. I considered jumping to the city limits and working my way into town. Each time I considered this, I feared that my family was on the next page, in the next district, just around the corner. Street names, house numbers and addresses in this city make only some sense today, I doubted logic would have applied to them 110 years ago.

Logic did, in fact, apply. I got closer as I worked through the 22nd city ward. The 800 block, the 900 block. Into the last ward on my list, the 23rd. The first few districts were north of my search area, but occasionally a more southern page jumped in. There! 2nd Avenue. The 1200 block. 1400. 1600? Wait, that can't be right. I reviewed the pages again, to no avail, and then noticed the 1600 block was counting down. The census taker was working his way into town. There, the 1500 block. 1540, 1550, 1560, where are they?

And at last, there. 1586 2nd Avenue, there they were, just where the city directory said they should be (click the image for a better view!):

I should credit this image to though I feel funny doing so. I paid for the subscription, I searched their site for it for days and their search function insisted that these people did not live in Pittsburgh in 1900 yet there they are. So yes, I got it from but I paid for it with my own money and time so it's mine now.

I am especially happy to have found them in the 1900 census because of the additional information this census provides. It lists birth month and year which will be great for me to use to sort out my great grandfather's brothers, Thomas, Edward and William. It will also help greatly chasing his sisters after they married. That birth month and year is very, very helpful. Also, this census cleared up something I had been wondering. My 2nd great grandmother, Catherine, had 12 children but only 10 were living in 1900. I was never able to find all of her children in one census, and even in this one the eldest two, Patrick and John, had moved out. I wondered if the names overlapped and if there were fewer children than I thought. It turns out there were many.

Also, I see now why I could never find my great grandfather in a search, if this image is in the search at all. His name, James, is clearly written over top of the letters for the name Daniel. Searches for any other member of this family came up blank, though, so I question if it has been entered into the search.

Interestingly, a family of Doyles lives next door to this one. Elizabeth and Marrie. Elizabeth is older than Anthony and listed as widowed. I suspect she might be his sister-in-law. I must find out more about her. It might lead me to Anthony's parents.

I am looking forward to using everything the 1900 census image for my great grandfather's family was able to provide. Onward!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

In my family tree I have 2 veterans, that we know of. My 3rd-great-grandfather, Francis Blair Pearsol, was a Sergeant in the Civil War. My grandfather, John Phillip Ivan Sokol fought in Italy in WWII. I thought when I was younger that he fought in the Pacific during that war, as he gave me coins from the Philippines that became the start of a small coin collection. It wasn't until after his passing that I read in his obituary that he fought in Italy. I never thought to ask him. I should ask my mom or my grandmother. Eventually WWII records will become public and I will be able to learn more.

John Sokol was the youngest child of John Ivan Mark Sokolvich and Anna Agnes Harto, born 05 March 1927 in Hiller, Fayette County, PA. He had 4 older sisters, Helen, Pauline, Marion and Margaret. His first wife, Doris, is my grandmother. His second wife, Millie, was my step-grandmother but the closest person to a grandmother I have in my memory. John Sokol passed away 24 August 2002. Grandma Millie died in 2006.

Aunt Margaret is now 90 years old. I had the opportunity to introduce her to my son last fall.

Aunt Margaret is pictured here with her son, my mom, my aunt and my son.

My grandfather died when I was away at college. He was the reason I started into genealogy, but I didn't ask him enough questions before it was too late.

Here are excerpts from his obituary. (living people removed) I miss you, Grandpap. I'm sorry I didn't take the time to know you better...

John P. Sokol, 75, of Carmichaels, Pa., died Saturday, August 24, 2002, at 2:10 p.m. in the Uniontown (Pa.) Hospital.

He was born March 5, 1927, in Hiller, Fayette County, Pa., son of John Sokol and Anna Harto Sokol.

John was Catholic by faith.

He was a Coal Mine Construction Worker retired from Greer Limestone Company in Morgantown, West Virginia.

He served in the United State Army in Italy and was a member of American Legion Post 423 and V.F.W. Post 4584 both in Masontown, Pa.

On September 13, 1974, he married Mildred Christopher Sokol, who survives.

Also surviving are two daughters: -- and her husband, --, Apollo, Pa., and --, Beeper, Ohio; two step children: -- and her husband, --, of Waynesburg, Pa., and -- and his wife, --, of McMechin, West Virginia; 13 grandchildren; several step grandchildren, great grandchildren, and step great grandchildren; sisters: -- and -- both of Masontown, Pa., --, Uniontown, Pa., and --, Franklin, Tennessee; one step sister, --, Pittsburgh, Pa.; a brother, --, Charleroi, Pa.; many nieces and nephews.

A brother, Richard Sokol, a sister in infancy, Agnes, and parents preceded him in death.

The Family will receive Friends in the PAUL MICHAEL LESAKO FUNERAL HOME INC., 204 Dowlin Avenue, Carmichaels, Pa., today from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday, August 27, until 11 a.m., the hour of Service with Rev. Fr. James Bump officiating.

Entombment will follow in Greene County Memorial Park Mausoleum, Waynesburg, Pa., where Full Military Honors will be accorded by V.F.W. and American Legion posts.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

I am a day late. So this can also be Wordless Wednesday.

Sadie was my great-great grandmother. Sarah Cauthery Pearsol. Buried in Jeannette, PA.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Staying in Pittsburgh

I can trace my relatives back 12 generations. I can trace my husband's family 6 generations. On each side I can follow for 150-200 years without having to leave Western Pennsylvania.

This is one of my favorite treats of my research. I can visit neighborhoods of my great-great-great-great grandparents by driving 45 minutes (in Pittsburgh we measure distance in minutes).

Hopefully soon I can process my application to the Western PA Genealogical Society to help further this treat and the research assistance it can offer.

Recently I was able to find record of PA Supreme Court ruling in 1895 in which the PA railroad sued to contest my 4th great grandfather's will over a tract of land in what is now West Elizabeth. I hope to use this information to determine more about him, as he is my brick wall.

I was disturbed to learn today of The Great Fire of 1845 that destroyed 1/4 to 1/3 of Pittsburg (before the H!). I consider myself to be an architectural history buff, a history nut and a native Pittsburgher. How did I not know of this fire? What is wrong with education in this country?

But I digress. What will I discover from PA Railroad v. Pearsol et. al? We shall see!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Taylor Alderdice

Thanks to a fabulous website called, I have been able to find my grandparents' and great uncles' high school photos and stories.

My grandfather was in the first class at Taylor Alderdice High School. He graduated in 1931.

The Physics Club? Perhaps that's where I get my engineering brain! Thanks, Jeep!!

I suspected that I would find his younger brother in the next graduating class but I did not. I will have to investigate why.

My grandmother was part of the class of 1937. I wonder why her comment was "So Big." I find it neat that her photo was categorized as Ruth Betty rather than Ruth Elizabeth.

My great uncle Huck was part of the class of 1936. I wonder if it is a typo that he is Blair Frank rather than Frank Blair.

My great uncle John, Class of 1942.

Friday, February 20, 2009

James Anthony Doyle - Naturalization

List of James Doyle Applications for Naturalization from Ireland in Western PA:

August 29, 1876 - Naturalization (age)
August 15, 1889 - Declaration
December 30, 1903 - Naturalization (age)
February 8, 1897 - Declaration
February 8, 1899 - Naturalization

**Edit 6/5/09 - Look for Anthony (not James Anthony), Naturalization 1872.

German Ancestors

To read later:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Crawling Back

After a bit of a hiatus, I am returning to my tree-search.

I thought I'd see what I could find on the Doyles, no doubt my most frustrating branch. Anthony seemed to disappear in 1890 and 1900 from Pittsburgh records. He and Catherine were here, somewhere, but do not appear in any records until 1910. Maybe they were not yet in Pittsburgh. I can review that theory but Poppy was born here in 1889 so they must have been here.

Perhaps exploring Poppy's uncles will help. Patsy first. Was Patsy married to Rose? I'll have to check my notes.

Nothing new today. I'll have to dig up the birth records I found of Poppy and his siblings.