Wordless Wednesday: Frederick Nahodil during World War I

Frederick Nahodil (on left) during World War I

Frederick Nahodil (on left) and guys having a light moment during World War I

Tombstone Tuesday: Carrie Agnes Wetzel

Carrie Agnes WetzelLutheran Cemetery; Trevorton, Pennsylvania

Carrie Agnes Wetzel
Lutheran Cemetery; Trevorton, Pennsylvania


The 1900 federal census told me that Carrie was still living at home with her parents, five of her siblings, and her niece (my great grandmother); it also told me that she was 25, single and did not have an occupation.  When I moved on to the 1910 census for the family unit, I was not surprised to see her absent; I just chalked it up to yet another female relative lost to marriage.  Oh, but wait…the 1910 census for a neighboring county lists a Carrie A Wetzel who is 35, single and without an occupation.  Could this be my ancestor…an inmate at the State Hospital for the Insane?  Whoa, what did I miss?


A federal census record for a woman with a similar name does not prove that she is one of mine so I had to just sit on this for a spell.  When Pennsylvania made death records for certain years available as public records at the beginning of 2012 the first this I did was to go through the death index year by year looking for any listing for a Carrie Wetzel.  There she was, or so I hoped, in that same neighboring county of Montour just six short years later.  The two and a half hour drive to the State Archives seemed to take forever…I just wanted to get there and see this death certificate (along with a few others).


Carrie A Wetzel…yeah, yeah, yeah…parents…Henry and Catherine Wetzel of Trevorton.  It was her!  Cause of death, phthisis pulmonalis; contributory cause, epilepsy…she was Epileptic.  But why was she in the State Hospital?  Examining the death certificate further for any additional clues, I saw that she resided at the institution for 12 yrs, 3 mos, 6 ds; this meant that she has been there since August 17, 1904.  Ah, now it is becoming clearer.  Her mother passed away in February of 1904.  Her mother must have been the caretaker and after her passing, the family may not have been able to provide adequate care.  I like to think that they made a go at it since Carrie remained at home for another six months.  I don’t know if a decline in her health or the fact that all of the adults in the house were working the mines which kept them out of the house for much of the day but it must have been a very difficult and painful decision for all.  Thankfully, Carrie’s death certificate also provided her place of burial, which was unknown to this point; now the family can visit this woman whose final years were so tragic.


Sunday’s Obituary: Minnie Etta (Derk) Strausser

Obituary of Minnie (Derk) Strausser

My 2nd great grandmother, Minnie Etta (Derk) Strausser, passed away from heart disease.  Though her obituary lists her eight surviving children, what it doesn’t mention is that she also had seven children preceded her in death, all at a fairly young age.  One of those seven children was my great grandfather George H Strausser who passed away just nine months after his father; both died in the same mine.

Minnie Etta (Derk) StrausserPA_CoalTownship_OddFellowsCemetery_Strausser(Derk)Minnie_20120513_170159_resized

Family Recipe Friday: Rudy’s Apple Cake

George R. Nahodil's wonderful recipe for apple cake.

George R. Nahodil’s wonderful recipe for apple cake.

This is the first time this recipe is being sharing with the world.  I grew up watching my grandfather make this apple cake and to this day it is the only apple cake I have ever liked.


On one visit, he told me that it was time to learn how to bake this treasured cake for future generations of my family to enjoy as I have.  Though he never used a written recipe (like I need to), he did help me write this out during one of his last bakings in the year leading up to his passing.  I’m not sure if it is my inability to cook or bake anything or just my being sentimental but I have yet to attempt to make Rudy’s Apple Cake.


As I was reviewing the recipe, I could help but notice that it doesn’t really take that long to make yet it always seemed like an all day production to me…must have been my anticipation and impatience.

Wordless Wednesday: Hanging in the woods 100 years ago?

Frank Nahodil (front right) and two unknown men

Frank Nahodil (front right) and two unknown men

Tombstone Tuesday: Shamokin tombstone displaced

This is the marker of Mary and Alice Fourl.

This is the marker of Mary E. (03/20/1861 – 05/31/1885) and Alice Fourl (04/28/1883 – 02/12/1885).

This is the tombstone of Mary Fourl and daughter Alice.  Their marker is halfway down the eastern bank of the mountain which the cemetery is located atop.

I remember climbing this mountain at a point further south as a young child and seeing many tombstones strewn about.  This cemetery has been plagued with vandalism and neglect for decades.

My Nahodil family are buried in unmarked graves straight up from this point.  It bothers me to think that they once may have had markers that have since been destroyed or are buried by Mother Nature on that hillside.

Did they vote?

As I stood amongst a few hundred thousand people this cold morning awaiting the start of the 57th Inaugural Ceremonies for President Barack Obama, I could not help but think about my ancestors.  Did my people vote?


Woman's Journal, Front Page, March 8, 1913Courtesy Library of Congress

Woman’s Journal, Front Page, March 8, 1913
Courtesy Library of Congress

100 years ago, Washington D.C. was preparing for the March 4, 1913 swearing in of Woodrow Wilson; did any of my ancestors make the trip from Pennsylvania to witness history?  Or did my they make the trip for the previous days Woman’s Suffrage Parade?  I would like to believe that those that came before me spoke up and fought for the equal rights of all men and women.

Were they Democrat, Republic or possibly Progressive?  Where did they go to vote?  Did they go to a local school or church like we do today…unlikely.  I imagine they would have had to go to Sunbury, which was the county seat, in order to place their vote.


Did any of them run for any of the various local positions in the community?  I have been told that Howard P. Wetzel was elected overseer of the poor for Zerbe Township but I do not know if this was an official position or exactly it entailed so I will continue searching.


I have tried looking for any type of record that would provide an answer to any of the questions but I have not had any luck.  In fact, I have not found anything to provide insight into the political activities of the 19th and early 20th century in Northumberland County.  Since I am not an expert or professional genealogist, I have great hope that I just haven’t looked in the right place yet and that one day I will find the records detailing my family’s political convictions.

Genealogy by the States: Pennsylvania coal region

Hidden Genealogy Nuggets has started a new weekly blog prompt called Genealogy by the States.  This week’s prompt is the state of Pennsylvania.  Luckily for me, my family (or at least part of it) has called The Keystone State home for over 200 years.

Of the lines I have traced back to the point of immigration to America, each arrived and directly settled in Pennsylvania.  While there are a few twigs that have branched out across the Unites States, the bulk of the tree has remained within a three hour drive from where our ancestors settled over more than two centuries ago.

Since this week’s post is all about Pennsylvania, I figured I would list some of the web sites I have found most helpful…aside from Ancestry.com and Family Search.  I also use Find A Grave on a regular basis; this is a great tool but data included in memorials cannot be considered absolute fact.  Since my people are primarily in the central Pennsylvania coal region, I am only listing sites related to that region.


State Wide

The Pennsylvania State Archives

The Pennsylvania State Archives: Digital Copies of Documents  Digital scans of a variety of valuable records to aid in online research.  Included in the images are landowner maps from the 19th century that have aided in finding where my ancestors have lived.

Pennsylvania Department of Health: Public Records  PA birth and death indices for those records which are public records due to their age.  I use this to get death certificates for the years 1906 thru 1962.

Online Pennsylvania Death Indexes and Obituaries  Various genealogy records; this site put me in touch with a volunteer in Nevada who provided me with a free copy of an old obituary from her local library.

Genealogy Inc  Pennsylvania county formation map.


Northumberland County

Northumberland County USGenWeb  Various transcriptions of Northumberland County records.

Shamokin  Shamokin nostalgia.

Dalado Photography: The Thomas Collection  Photographs from Thomas Studios, regional photographer.

Roy Schreffler’s Homepage  Stone Valley Cemetery Listing.


Columbia County

Columbia County USGenWeb  Various transcriptions of Columbia County records.


Dauphin County

Civil War Blog  While historical society’s primary focus is the preservation of the history and heritage of northern Dauphin County, their blogs also cover the people and history of central Pennsylvania.


Schuylkill County

Schuylkill County USGenWeb  Various transcriptions of Schuylkill County records.



News Item  I use this for keeping up with deaths and local information, including occasional historical information.

Historic American Newspapers – Chronicling America  Great source for older newspaper archives; doesn’t include every paper but still good.



The Mount Carmel Area Public Library  Northumberland County newspaper and obituary resource.

Genealogy and Local History Materials at the Pottsville Free Public Library  Excellent resource for all things Schuylkill County related.

Wordless Wednesday: Halloween or just another day?

Nahodil children

Nahodil children

Genealogy by the States: Summers in Delaware

Swinging by Geneabloggers.com I saw that there is a new blogging prompt created by Hidden Genealogy Nuggets that focuses on a different state each week.  I love this idea as my family lines have scattered throughout the US and searching in other states can be a bit different that searching in your own town.  Not to mention, this will help me focus on a specific topic at least once a week for this year.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened but at some point when I was very young my grandparents purchased a summer home in Delaware.  Heck, they may have bought it before I was born as it seems to me that it was always there.  Being their little angel throughout my childhood, I spent every summer, all summer, with Peggy and Rudy at the shore house that lie in Bay Shore Park on the Indian River Bay.  George Rudolph Nahodil and Alma (who went by Peggy since childhood) Strausser owned the best place in the whole world and it was that place on Possum Road that left magnificent memories with all who entered.

This is the only picture I have of the home in Bay Shore, Delaware; luckily, my pop is in it.

This is the only picture I have of the home in Bay Shore, Delaware; luckily, my pop is in it.

Though it was small, everyone was welcome and room was always made; I am sure we broke occupancy limits many a time.  If there wasn’t room at my grandparents, people would head a few streets over to stay at their daughter Linda’s place.  Even though I had my own room, I secretly enjoyed giving it up so I could sleep on the floor next to my grandparents bed…I swear I never intended to be an obstacle course separating my pop from his bathroom.  My grandparent never pressured me to “camp out” on the enclosed porch on a folding foam sleeper chair and keep their tight path of navigation free and clear.

Breakfast almost always was either a double BLT or scrambled eggs with fried potatoes and toast smothered with orange marmalade or apple butter.  Lunch was some sort of lunchmeat sandwich if we were home or Grottos Pizza if we were at the beach.  Dinner varied each day depending on who was there and where we were but it was always something or somewhere new.  I do remember that we frequently went out to chicken dinner at one of the local fire houses or community centers; for one price you could eat all the chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and coleslaw that you wanted.  Mealtime was very important as this was when everyone came together no matter what they were doing…this was family time.

Being location between Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach, we would frequently go to Bethany during the day (they had the best mini-golf) and Rehoboth at night (they had the best games and rides).  There was always something to do; hanging out in the game room of Sandy Cove, crabbing, or exploring the bay shoreline during low tide examining everything the tide left behind…including those prehistoric looking horseshoe crabs.  When the rains came we played cards or school (I loved the Weekly Reader and other exercise books my Pop bought for me).  When the night came…we played cards.  There was always somebody coming by to play cards, often into the wee hours of the morning.  The cards had a permanent home on the counter right behind Rudy’s spot at the kitchen table.

While I knew my grandparents loved me I realized in writing this blog that they did everything for me right down to making my favorite foods every day.  There was never anything I wanted for other than to stay with them in Delaware for another day.  Sadly, the shore was never the same after my Aunt Linda passed away in 1990 and fewer people went each year after that.  Within a couple of months of my Pop’s passing in 2000 the house was sold and the family of the past would no longer come together.  Funny how a person or place could bring so many together.

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