Crafting Genealogy: Family Photo Blocks

Family Photo BlocksWelcome back to Crafting Genealogy! This time around we’re going to make some Family Photo Blocks. This project is really easy, inexpensive and can be done in just an hour or so.

Let’s gather our supplies and get started. You’ll need:

Children’s blocks or pieces of wood

Sandpaper

Acrylic paint/small craft paint brushes

Vaseline

Copies of family photos

Modge Podge

Gathering our supplies

My husband bought the children’s blocks I used. He loves to bargain hunt and stops at garage sales, yard sales, etc. So he bought some older blocks at one of the sales he stopped at. As you can see it was a few blocks, not a complete set, so I was limited in some of my options. I was able to pick out the words “Our Family” and spelled that out with the blocks. I used the rest of the blocks to add my photos.

You could also use some scraps of wood instead of children’s blocks. If you have a spare 2×4 or 2×6 you could cut them into small blocks for this project.

Rough them up with a little sanding

First off I grabbed a piece of sandpaper and sanded the corners to make sure they had a worn, distressed look. I like most of my craft projects to look like they’re old and vintage. I wiped the blocks off with a cloth after sanding to make sure there wasn’t any dust clinging to them for the next step.

Family Photo Blocks

Painting. I decided to use a two step method to paint the blocks. I’m only painting a side or two on each of my spare blocks. First I put a base coat of gray on the side of the blocks where I’m adding the photos. I used gray because that was the color I had on hand. You could use any color or none at all. When the gray paint dried I put some Vaseline on the edges of the blocks. Some blocks had a little more Vaseline than others and you’ll be able to see that in the finished product.

The Vaseline keeps the second coat of paint from sticking to the previous coat. So with the Vaseline applied I put the yellow topcoat of paint over both layers. Once this top coat dried completely I used fine sandpaper on the corners of the yellow painted sides to reveal some of the gray underneath giving the blocks a distressed look. If I sanded off too much yellow I went back and painted over that area.

Since my blocks were small I used very small photos. I picked a few out of my stash of copied family photos. With the wet adhesive used in this project you’ll need prints from a laser printer or printed professionally from Walgreens or WalMart. Ink jet photo copies will smear with this adhesive. I love using my vintage family pics but current photos work just as well. Once I chose my pics I cut them down to fit the blocks.

Using the Modge Podge I put a light coat of adhesive on the painted side of a block. I let it sit for just a moment to dry to a tacky state. Then I added a light coat of Modge Podge to the back of the photo. Now I pressed the photo on the block. I tapped the photo with the end of my paint brush to make sure the edges of the pic were pressed down. Finally I added a light coat of Modge Podge over the block and pic to seal it. I let the Modge Podge dry completely and then I arranged my finished blocks.

Family Photo Blocks

I completed my Family Photo Blocks in just a couple of hours and used supplies I already had on hand. I think the next batch I make I’ll use scrap wood pieces cut a little larger. Although I really like my finished project here, larger blocks will allow me to use larger photos and I’ll also be able to use any color scheme I’d like. Either way these Family Photo Blocks are a fun, easy project and would be great to do with the kids and grandkids. Enjoy Crafting Genealogy!!

William Holmes #52Ancestors

William Holmes

William Holmes

WILLIAM HOLMES is my 3x great grandfather on my maternal side. He was born 25 April 1810, in Carroll County, Ohio. William was the oldest son of Obadiah and Rebecca (Thomas) Holmes, who both came from Virginia.

As one of Obadiah and Rebecca’s eight children he married Margaret Jenkins (Junkins) on 2 September 1830 in Tuscarawas County, OH. While living in Tuscarawas County located in eastern Ohio, William and Margaret had nine children. Their second child, daughter Rebecca (Holmes Williams) is my 2x great grandmother.

William farmed pretty much his entire life. By the early 1860s he and nearly his entire family moved to Allen County, Ohio. This exodus west across the state included several of his older children, already married besides the kids still at home. At least two of Williams’ siblings made the move and his parents Obadiah and Rebecca. I find this astonishing because both Obadiah and Rebecca had to be around 82 or 83 years old when they moved. Obviously no one was left in Tuscarawas County to care for the old folks so they had to move too. Accompanying the Holmes family in the great move was the Williams family. Two of William Holmes daughters, my 2x great grandmother Rebecca and Hannah (Anna) married into the Williams family.

Holmes Land Liberty Township Hardin County Ohio

Holmes Land Liberty Township Hardin County Ohio

This great migration is going to be the focus of my genealogy research. Two dozen families from infants to 80 year olds moved 175 miles across Ohio. Why? Better farm land? Was there an epidemic? Did the Civil War have anything to do with it? It’s time I do a little research to find out!

William and Margaret lived in Allen County until 1874, when they moved to Liberty Township in Hardin County, OH just a few miles east. I found where William and Margaret lived in Hardin County on an 1870s plat map. My genea-sister and I made the 30 minute drive and wandered the area where they lived. I am very fortunate to be able to walk in my ancestors footsteps almost whenever I want.

William Holmes Property in Hardin County Ohio

William Holmes Property in Hardin County Ohio

According to the History of Hardin County, William and Margaret were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which he had attended since 1829. He was a Class Leader for twenty-five years and was Steward and Trustee. William Holmes, three sons, six sons-in-law and seven grandsons were all Republicans.(1)

William died at the age of 82 on December 22, 1892 in Allen County, Ohio.

Thanks for reading about my 3x great grandfather William Holmes. If you have a Holmes in your family tree email me at cindy@genealogycircledotcom. Let’s share info. I’d love to hear from you!

William Holmes Property/Cemetery

There’s a cemetery on William Holmes’ property

(1)The History of Hardin County, Ohio: Containing a History of the County, Its Townships, Towns, Churches, Schools, Etc., General and Local Statistics, Military Record, Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men, History of the Northwest Territory, History of Ohio, Miscellaneous Matters, Etc., Chicago: Warner, Beers & Co. 1883, online, Google Books, http://books.google.com/books?id=aNQ4AQAAMAAJ pg 1005, 27 March 2012

Silas Williams #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Silas Williams

Silas Williams

This week on my #52 Ancestors post I’m going to reach back into the 18th century. Today I’m writing about my third great grandfather Silas Williams.

It was in researching this Williams family branch that my sisters and I launched our genealogy research “careers”. Look what you’ve done Silas Williams! You’ve created several genealogy monsters in our family. (Good for you!) So I have a special affection when I write about this area of my family tree.

Silas was born 20 August 1796 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His parents were Abel and Sarah James Williams. Silas was the sixth child of Abel and Sarah’s eleven kids. The family moved to Greene County, Pennsylvania for a few years and finally ended up in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. I’ll go into the reason for the move to Ohio in a future post when I write about Silas’ father Abel.

St. Matthews Church, Fairfield Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio

St. Matthews Church, Fairfield Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio

Silas would spend the rest of his life in Fairfield Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio. He married Sarah (Sally) Lappin 15 July 1819. He was 22 and she was 20 years old. Like his father before him Silas was a prolific man. He and Sally had eleven children. My second great grandfather Isaac was their seventh child. These folks were hard working farmers. If you’ve ever seen the rolling hills of eastern Ohio you’ll know farming there wasn’t easy.

After eleven children and 20 years of marriage Sally died 11 September 1839 at 40 years old. Silas eventually married Susannah Wilkin 19 November 1846. Silas and Susannah had a son Thomas in 1847. Silas passed just a year later 1 October 1848 at 52 years old.

Silas’ story was first unearthed by my sister Mary Ellen about 1997-ish. Several trips were made from west to east across Ohio by my sisters and myself as we walked the steps of our 3x great grandparents. We stopped at St. Matthew’s cemetery and took photos of Sarah and Silas’ final resting place. On a whim I tried the door of the little white church next to the cemetery and to my surprise was able to walk in. What a simple yet beautiful place to worship.

St. Matthews Church Fairfield Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio

Silas Williams Headstone St. Matthews Church Cemetery, Fairfield Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio

After several long looks around I saw two framed photos on the back wall. A few steps brought me face to face with Silas and Sarah. What an amazing find! Silas had donated the lot St. Matthew’s was built on so he and Sarah were remembered with their photos still hanging on the rear church wall. How many times does that happen in genealogy research! Another family member contacted the church and was able to have copies of those photos made. That’s the photo of Silas seen above.

Silas Williams was a husband, father, church-goer and farmer. I’m sure in retrospect Silas felt he lived a pretty uneventful life but nearly 218 years after his birth I’m sharing his story here. Your story is my story Silas and I’m very proud of it.

P.S. I’m a much better photographer today than I was in 1997! :)

I Found My Dad on Facebook!

Cam and Flora Nantz Frueh children 1922

Cameron and Flora Nantz Frueh children 1922

I’ll bet we’ve all done it. Posted old family photos to our Facebook timeline. Maybe someone in your family has started a family Facebook page so the entire clan can share their pics. This very scenario happened to me with some pretty spectacular results.

It all started at the beginning of the year with my New Year’s resolution to organize my family history files. My first step was to take the easy route and scan family photos with my Flip Pal. Documents would get scanned later. As I uploaded my scanned pics to my laptop to file I’d also post a few to my Facebook page. It was always fun to get other family members reactions to the old pics. Occasionally someone would comment when a particular photo jogged their memory.

Soon one of my cousins started a family Facebook page so everyone could post and enjoy each others photos. Great idea! I’ll just mention here that this Facebook group consists of first cousins. All of our parents were children of Flora Nantz and Cameron Frueh. So I posted lots of pics to the Facebook page, some without any kind of identification in the hopes another family member had a similar photo with names.

That’s when it happened! Another cousin puts the photo (above) on our Facebook page. He identifies his mom as the 5 year old in first row far right. There she is with the rest of her siblings at an older sister’s First Communion. The significance? My father is in this photo! In the back row, far left stands my eleven year old dad!

John, Adolph, Mary Frueh

John, Adolph, Mary Frueh
23 April 1922*

I have a copy of a photo of my dad as an infant but the rest of the pics I have of him are all as an adult throughout the rest of his life. I’ve never seen a photo of my dad as a child! I can’t tell you the swell of emotion I felt as I looked at my dad as a young boy. I have to say I touched his little boy face on my computer screen with tears in my eyes.

Now the incredible irony here is that I have digital copies of several photos from yet another cousin last November. It’s the second photo here. My sisters and I took a guess at who these kids were but had no idea since there weren’t any names on the photo. Imagine! I had a photo of my dad (on the left) as a kid and didn’t even know it! Let me tell you learning to date photos has now become a priority.

The takeaway here other than the fact that I’m over the moon having a photo of my dad as a child? Don’t give up hope of finding a photo, some information, a document, anything that will provide answers in your genealogy research. Use all avenues available to you. Courthouses, libraries, online databases and even Facebook. Don’t ever, ever give up! Because one day when you least expect it your info will show up!

*I found the date of my aunt’s First Communion on FamilySearch.org. They have the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio Parish Records from 1796-2004.

Charles H Lowery #52 Ancestors

Charles Henry Lowery

Charles H Lowery

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is about my great-grandfather Charles Henry Lowery. Charles is the son of my Civil War veteran George Washington Lowery and Barbara Ann Lowe. Charles was born 2 Sept 1872, in Sandusky County, Ohio. He married Sudie Louisa Barron on 30 Oct 1892 in Henry County, Ohio.

Charles and Sudie had ten children. My grandfather Basil was their third child.

Charles worked on the railroad which caused the family to move from Henry County, Ohio to Allen County, Ohio and finally Lenawee County, Michigan. By the time the family moved to Michigan a couple of the older children had married. My grandfather Basil was one of them. He didn’t make the move to Michigan and stayed in Allen County, Ohio with his young family.

(You might be interested in a quick look back at wife Sudie’s #52 Ancestors post. It tells a tale about Charles and their family life!)

Charles H Lowery and goat

Charles H Lowery and goat

Charles was my mother’s paternal grandfather. She would remember how her grandfather Charles boasted of his Ohio grandchildren whenever they made the trip to Michigan for a visit. He’d buy them penny candy and it would be waiting their arrival in a brown paper bag. My mom remembered him fondly.

I know my family attended Lowery family reunions in Michigan way back when. I wish I had been there. I’d love to know all of those stories today.

Charles passed away 13 Mar 1946 in Washtenew County, MI. He was 73 years old.