Sunday, November 29, 2009

John Butler - My Irish Ancestor

John Butler
Private, Revolutionary War
My Third Great-Grandfather

Until about ten to fifteen years ago, I was not aware of any Irish heritage. Although my parents has always "celebrated" St. Patrick's Day, it was because that was their wedding anniversary day, not because we were Irish, or had Irish blood.

For a few years, I had been doing research, off and on, to overcome my Aunt LVene's (historically the family genealogist on my father's line - even a "book") comment: "We don't know much about Grandpa Preston." My wife and I figured out fairly early on that it wasn't that she didn't know (she was too smart and good for that) - it was that "She didn't want to talk about him" because of some family conflicts that had occurred earlier and during her lifetime. While we respected her for her position, we were certainly not taking that for a final answer; this was my great-grandfather, after all.

His story is told elsewhere, off course; he is my father's mother's father: James P. Preston. In the information we found on him, we discovered his mother was Asenath Butler, the daughter of John Butler, who fought in the Revolutionary War. It turned out that our John Butler (there are thousands - it seems - by the way) was actually born in 1745 in Cookeny Parish, County Wicklow, Ireland! This is my third Great-Grandfather. I do have Irish blood.

About the same time that we were visiting northwest Ohio to gather some of this information, and share it with others, in hopes of learning more, it came to our attention that the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) were researching Rev War soldiers that were buried in the area. They had identified our John Butler as being buried near the small town of Florida, a few miles east of Defiance, Ohio, along the Maumee River. He died in Richland Twp, Williams Hull Co, Ohio, 22 Nov 1830. The SAR placed a marker for him and held a ceremony. I was unable to attend, but did receive a photo and a VHS video tape of the event.

What more do we know about our John Butler? He served as a private throughout the war and believed that he continued to serve as a soldier through the War of 1812, although only his service in the Rev War is recognized in US military records. He likely served with various state and/or local militias, which we continue to attempt to identify. This is based on his pension files information. He was "serving" or at least living in Detroit at the time it was surrendered to the British by US General William Hull. Gen Hull said he surrendered in order to save the lives of the several hundred civilians there who would surely have been massacred by the Indian allies of the British. By way of the surrender, the civilians were allowed passage back down to Ohio. That is how they got there for his daughter, Asenath, to meet and marry William Preston in Defiance in 1820. Thank you General Hull. General Hull received a court martial for his actions, but I will always thank him, every chance I get. This is based on information left behind by Asenath, retold many times to her family through her long life (1803-1888), and generally confirmed by our subsequent research.

While his father, James Butler, never left Ireland, two brothers did, and served with John in the Rev War. James' brother, Thomas Butler, had come previously to the USA and had a gun shop in Carlisle, PA. Thomas was a supplier of guns to Gen. George Washington and the US army - I've seen the paperwork. Thomas had five sons, first cousins to our John, who all served as Officers in the Rev War and some later in the Mexican War. They were touted as the "Fighting Butlers" later by LaFayette. I'll post that story later, as well, of course. All eight Butler soldiers (first cousins) appear to have served at Valley Forge with Washington. The gun shop building still stands in Carlisle - I have photos of our visit - and a prominent plaque stands on a nearby street celebrating the contributions of Thomas to the war effort.

Finally, there are at least three mysteries regarding our John Butler I continue to research, and I would appreciate help or suggestions:
1. Where did he serve, and where was he between 1782 and 1803?
2. Who was his wife, Lena, and where did he meet her? What became of her?
3. There were apparently two to four sons of John and Lena Butler in NW Ohio around the time daughter, Asenath, married William Preston... what became of them?

Comments welcomed.

Families are Forever! ;-)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Surname Saturday - SMITH

Our SMITH family in the USA began with Michael (Schmitt) (Schmidt) SMITH, born in 1829 in Nambsheim, County Haut Rhin, District Colmer, France per original research done by my Aunt LVene (Smith) Thomas, including a copy of his birth certificate. She believed that he and his family came to the USA shortly thereafter, though no definitive information has yet become available.

Michael served in the Civil War as Farrier with Company E, 2nd Regiment, Iowa Cavalry from 5 Sep 1961 to 3 Oct 1864.

Michael first married Magdaline (Lena) HARBRECHT, who was born in Germany. They had three children: Julia, Mary and Michael. Lena died in Sep 1864.

Michael second married Nellie Margaret SODERSTROM at Hampton, Rock Island County, Ilinois. Their first son was William Emanuel SMITH, born in 1869. Their subsequent children were: Lena, Joseph, Lizzie, Benjamin, Peter, Elsie, Robert and Grant.

William Emanuel SMITH was my grandfather.

I am currently updating the family history written by my Aunt LVene and hope to publish it in 2010.

Families are Forever! ;-)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Follower Friday: Julie at My Pappa's Book

Julie at My Papa's Book:

Her opening story of how she got started is so meaningful to most of us. And then, to see how she has expanded to additional blogs... really neat, from this viewpoint.

Keep up the great work, Julie!

Families are Forever! ;-)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - Immigration Card

My treasure this week is the actual card my grandmother SORENSEN carried with her on the S.S. Hekla from Denmark in 1904 to show that she had "passed inspection" and did not need to be quarantined on Ellis Island on her arrival in the USA.

Last Surname Saturday - SORENSEN, I posted a story about the family, including a photo of the ship S.S. Hekla and a photo of the family just before Dorothy (listed on the card as Dorthea) left Denmark for the USA in 1904.

This card is a true treasure that I will pass on to my grandchildren.

Family is Forever! ;-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - KINNICK Men Three generation

Probably in 1914, at time of marriage of Paul - with his father and grandfather Kinnick. Most likely in Greenfield, Iowa, where wedding occurred. So dignified.

Paul Harold KINNICK (1892-1968)
Alonzo Palmer KINNICK (1870-1923)
Walter Watson KINNICK (1840-1919) Civil War Veteran

Families are forever! ;-)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - 3rd G-Grandparents - KINNICK

This week I want to feature the tombstones of my 3rd Great Grandparents - the KINNICK surname. They were the parents of John S. KINNICK that I featured in an earlier TT post.

They are in the Forest Hill Cemetery, Wyanet, Bureau County, Illinois. Walter died accidently, at a relatively young age in 1853, just a little over 43 years old. Susanna lived a long life, over 75 years, and died in 1881. Susanna is first, here, with a closeup and a full view.

Walter's is also shown in full view and in closeup.

Family is forever! ;-)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods... Part 2

As you gather for the holidays, as there is a mix of older and younger folks, consider keeping a paper and pen/pencil handy - along with your camera. Even better, take along an audio digital recorder to capture those great family stories of days gone by.

You will enjoy them today, but they will be even more precious "tomorrow" when granny or gramps or Aunt Hattie or Uncle Louie are no longer around to tell them. Capture those stories, preserve them, so that you can share them with your young ones at future gatherings.

Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones that can remember and repeat stories orally. I need to have them written down or recorded. I also like to "check them out" for accuracy, so that when I repeat them, some of the facts are even better than when I heard it the first time. This may or may not be for you. We each have our own story-telling practices. What ever they are, use them. Tell your stories. Share them.

Families are Forever! ;-)

Smile for the Camera - Arrion

The Smile for the Camera, 19th Edition Blog Carnival, asks us to use the word prompt "Gift" - and we are encouraged to be creative.

Normally I would be likely to choose a photo of one of my two grandchildren for such a post.

This time, however, I am honoring their mother, my youngest daughter, Arrion. We went a full generation without grandchildren until she and Ben, her husband, gave us our two precious ones to carry on our family line. As a youngster in dance and ballet, her teacher always said her smile had "sparkle." That sparkle is still there. Here is a very casual pose, this summer when they visited us for our 50th anniversary celebration. Thank you for your "gift" Arrion!

Family is Forever! ;-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

1910 Postcard - front and back

This is a postcard from my Grandfather [Paul] to my Grandmother [Dorothy] about three and half years before they got married. The photo side suggests they were already "pretty good friends!" Note that the young lady is dressed in white, and he wears a white hat!

In 1910, she was 22, had been in this country, from her native Denmark, about 6 years. In 1910, he was 18, just graduated from Coon Rapids High School in May 1909 and was going to go to Commercial College in Des Moines; meanwhile, he was working for his father and uncle on their farms in Coon Rapids and Greenfield, respectively.

Text of Postcard dated 3 Mar 1910:

Monteith, Ia, [a tiny town, about half way between Coon Rapids and Greenfield]

Mar 3, 10

Got here O.K.
Had to bring the cattle.
Will go on today.

Can't be there for Sat. night.

Will be down there next wk.

Papa can't come till after noon.
The roads are a fright.
Tell Cris [her brother] he wants to go Sat. night.

Take good care of yourself. P.H.K. [Very familiar initials - saw them many times, myself]

Paul Harold KINNICK, b. 18 Aug 1892; m. 12 Aug 1914 Dorothy Christine SORENSEN, Greenfield, Adair Co, IA
Dorothy Christine SORENSEN, b. 26 Jun 1888, VorFrne, Aalborg, Denmark

From her Funeral Program:

Dorothy, daughter of Lauritz Christian and Jensine Marie Nielsen Sorensen, was born June 26, 1887, at Aalborg, Denmark. In 1903, she came with her family to the United States where they settled in Greenfield, Adair County, Iowa. On August 12, 1914, she was united in marriage with Paul H. Kinnick at Greenfield. At that time she became a citizen of the United States. Dorothy and Paul spent their entire lives in Coon Rapids, Iowa, except for a short time in Bayard, Iowa. Paul was with the Iowa Savings Bank and the First National Bank in Coon Rapids. Dorothy devoted her time to her husband, her children, and her home. Music was an important part of her life. She played both the violin and piano, and loved to sing.
Dorothy was a member of the United Methodist Church, the Gleaner's Sunday School Class, and participated in the Aid Society and WSCS. While living in Bayard, she enjoyed the Helping Hand Class of the Methodist Church.
On July 16, 1975, Dorothy entered the Thomas Rest Haven Nursing Home in Coon Rapids, where she died on Sunday, November 28, 1982, at the age of 95 years, 5 months, and 2 days.

Families are Forever! ;-)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Surname Saturday - SORENSEN

SORENSEN is my mother's maternal line. Here is a bit of that story line. Dorothy Chistine is my mother's mother, my grandmother. She is the tall one, center back row, below, flanked by Christian and Dagmar (Delma). Louise is between the parents. Maurice was already in the USA.

The Lauritz and Jensene Sorensen Family
Prior to leaving Denmark c.1903-4

Lauritz Christien SORENSEN (b. 9 Apr 1847, Aalborg, Denmark) married, about 1878, in Denmark, Jensene Marie NIELSEN (b. abt 1853, Denmark)

Children of Lauritz and Jensene Sorensen:

1. Theodore SORENSEN (b. abt 1879, Denmark; d. abt 1899, Denmark, of TB)
2. Maurice SORENSEN (b. 14 Feb 1880, Aalborg, Denmark; m. 8 Nov 1903 Ida LUND)
3. Dorothy Christine SORENSEN (b. 26 Jun 1888, Aalborg, Denmark; m. 12 Aug 1914 Paul Harold KINNICK)
4. Christian Otto SORENSEN (b. abt 1890, Denmark; m. Mary THOMPSON)
5. Dagmar Rebecca (Delma) SORENSEN (b. 7 May 1891, Aalborg, Denmark; m. 19 Oct 1914 Clarence Clyde (Clyde) LUSE)
6. Louise Mildred SORENSEN (b. 28 Aug 1894, Aalborg, Denmark; m. 4 Jun 1919 Rasmus NIELSEN)

S.S. Hekla, 1884 Thingvalla Line

This is the ship Dorothy sailed on from Denmark, departing on April 15, 1904 and arriving in New York, May 1, 1904, at Ellis Island. The family moved to western Iowa.

Family is Forever! ;-)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods...

How many of you are getting to gather with grandparents, and other family members, sometime in the next week for Thanksgiving? I'd like to hear some of your stories. Do you do the same thing every year, or do you do something different each year, on purpose? Do you alternate places to gather? Do you get together on a different day than Thursday? Turkey, Ham, Other?

How many are flying, rather than taking a horses and sleigh through the woods, for example?!?! ;-)

How many of you will hear stories of the "olden days" - ancestor stories? Do think about listening to them, this year. They can tell you something about yourself, who you are, and why you do the things you do. Your ancestors are a part of you. Some of what they did, you are likely doing, or will do... Give it some thought. Write down some of the stories you hear? Do they ring true? Drop me a note, a comment here, on what you hear? OK? THANKS!

Families are Forever! ;-)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - Straw Stool

This is the story of a little stool, with a straw weave top. My younger brother showed up with it at our house a month or so before our 50th Wedding Anniversary; he said I should have it. My two year old picture was taken with me sitting on it. Here is both a current photo and the ancient one.

Families are Forever! ;-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Billie and Chickens 1942

Because of this photo at age (just under) three - my high school "prophosy" was that I would run a chicken ranch! ;-)

Families are forever! ;-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - KINNICK Paul and Dorothy

This is the Tombstone of my maternal grandparents, Paul Harold (1892-1968) and Dorothy Christine (1888-1982) (SORENSEN) KINNICK, located at the Coon Rapids Cemetery in Coon Rapids, Carroll County, Iowa.

Families are Forever! ;-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Book Update

This is just a note to update those interested in the progress of the companion book to this blog.
"How to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" is in the final editing stages and a preliminary print is being made. For the latest, follow my Book Blog at:

I am very pleased to have just received permission from Judy Shintani to use a quote from her blog on the back cover:

“Telling a story about an ancestor can be a gift to oneself and to one’s family. It is powerful to have your stories heard.” Judy Shintani - please visit her sites regularly:

Judy Shintani blog:

Families are Forever! ;-)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Surname Saturday - PRESTON

My father's mother's maiden name was PRESTON, so this is a very important surname in my research. It is also quite different from KINNICK, that I discussed last week. About every KINNICK I find is of our "clan." Try to research PRESTON, especially William PRESTON (the name of my 2nd great-grandfather), and you find an unending supply of information - but all about different William PRESTONs than mine! It took several years to get a good handle on it.

My William PRESTON was the first elected Sheriff of Williams County, Ohio, in Defiance (at the time, 1826, in Williams County), and became forever known in the family and elsewhere simply as the "old sheriff." He is also noted in the history books of the area as "the first white settler" in Defiance, Ohio. A much more famous William PRESTON, from Kentucky, "passed through" the area in the late 1790s and keeping them separated in the records has been real challenge. In addition, a few years later, a cousin of the "old sheriff" lived and died in the area - again causing confused identities that were really "fun" to sort out.

We'll be discussing this family more, as we move forward, of course!

If you are related to, or have information on the "old sheriff" or his family, or on the area at that time, I'd love to hear from you!

Family is Forever! ;-)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Follow Friday - Kitsune

Today I am strongly recommending (Judy) Kitsune: The Fox Woman's Mirror and specifically her Telling our grandmother's stories to seniors blog.

The joint performance with Lisa Petrides and the great story of how they put the performance together, jointly, with much research and preparation, is simply wonderful. I only wish we would each do this, at least once. Many times would be better. Congratulations, Judy. Keep up the good work.

Families are Forever! ;-)

Kreativ Blogger Award; Thanks, Frances

Thank you to Frances at Branching Out Through the Years for giving me this honor. Frances and Linda and Lori are the chain through which it got to me. It is great to be part a group of people who are so dedicated to setting wonderful examples and encouraging the rest of us to continue to blog about our genealogy.
The winner of this award is supposed to list seven things about themselves and then pass the award along to seven other bloggers.
Here I go:
1. I love genealogy, family history and social history with a passion I cannot control.
2. I am thankful for a supportive wife (even better genealogy researcher than I), three wonderful daughters, two living sons-in-law, two super grandchildren.
3. I keep a blog on the family and my retirement, where the family appears regularly, along with a list of my other blogs, at:
4. I have recently published three family history books. See at:
5. I am about to publish a book on "How to Tell Ancestor Stories" - my blog is a companion - see bazaar blog, above, for when it is available.
6. When I lived in the Kansas Flint Hills I was a big booster of that area; now that I am retired in the Ozarks, I am a promoter of the OZARKS. Come visit!
7. I have many ancestor stories to tell and share. Some are even famous. Visit regulary; become a follower; sign up for the RSS feed at:

Like the others, finding just seven to send the award along to is very tough. Here are some recent ones where I have been able to make comments:

1. Lisa at Small-Leaved Shamrock
2. Heather at Nutfield Genealogy
3. Sheri at Twig Talk
4. Felicia at Our Family as a Whole
5. Carly at Not Another Family History Blog
6. Russ at My Tombstone Collection
7. Deborah at Country at Heart

Families are Forever! ;-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - highchair

Here is another family treasure... though only about 70 years old. It is the highchair I used as a child... 1939-early 1940s, I suppose. A gift from my maternal grandparents, I've been told. Still in great shape - used by all five boys over perhaps 20 years. Notice the original leather strap is till in place. Never refinished, as far as I know. A bit different than those my grandchildren use, with safety this and that.... ;-)

Families are forever ;-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Billie 1941

It is not just that I "feel" old, some days: Billie 1941 - 2 years old!

Families are forever! ;-)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - John S. KINNICK

John S. KINNICK has been an interesting story in my family. Our 1953 "family history" book said of him: "killed in action, Civil War, abt 1865."

When I began seriously researching my family history, this one caught my eye very quickly. First, I looked at him in the 1850 census. It said born in 1837, between his siblings Sarah and Joseph. The 1840 census data fit this pattern as well. But, he was not in the 1860 census. That certainly raised a red flag. Was he really in the Civil War?

A few months later, a member of the Bureau County Genealogical Society, doing some research for me, sent along this photo. John clearly had died in 1851. He had not been in the Civil War.

This is similar to other "family tradition" stories - my next favorite is "he went west and was killed by Indians." Usually, a little research shows "he" went west and raised a normal family... just had lost touch with the family members telling the stories. A good reminder that we always need to "check the facts"

Family is forever! ;-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Madness Monday - SIMMONS

Mary Estelle SIMMONS married Walter Watson KINNICK on 6 Feb 1862 in Bureau County, Illinois. She was born 8 Aug 1843 and died 7 Jan 1909 in Bureau Co.

Her parents were George SIMMONS (b. abt 1815 in PA) and Mary Elizabeth LEE (b. abt 1825, KY).

Mary and Walter are my 2nd great grandparents. I know most of the families in my ancestry at this level... but not this one.

I want to identify Mary Estelle's brothers and sisters and their descendants. I have been able to discover very little about this family. They may have moved to Nebraska, but I know little more. Any suggestions or contacts would be welcomed.

Families are forever! ;-)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Occupational Photos

In several reviews of the thousands of family photos I have taken over the past 50+ years, I have been surprised how few actually show family members at their occupation. What has been your experience? I would love to see references to blogs or websites that have photos of people at work.

Here is my dad with the combine on the farm, likely in the early 1950s. Dad was a general farmer. I have a handful of farming photos, but fewer than I would have imagined.

Thanks for your comments and links.

Families are forever! ;-)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Surname Saturday - wife's surnames added

My dad and I share the surname SMITH - my mother's maiden name was KINNICK.

My paternal grandfather SMITH, married a PRESTON.
My maternal grandfather KINNICK, married a SORSENSEN.

The surnames added by marriage, the next generation back were:

Go back another generation, 2nd great grandparents - we would add EIGHT more surnames.... do you know them all, for your line. At 3rd great grandparents we add SIXTEEN more surnames. What a great opportunity for more fulfilling research!
[For a more complete list, with names, see: scroll down to yellow/purple table]

Each one is just as important to who you are - who I am - as those first two, four, eight. If you have not discovered, and researched, each of these "married into" surnames in your family, I encourage you to do so. My wife and I have made special efforts to identify each, back many, many generations. It is quite revealing and very satisfying! Enjoy the search.

A while back, I identified a ninth great grandfather, who was actually a famous person. I was pretty excited until I realized I have over one thousand ninth great grandparents. Do you know all of yours? How many? I'm still working on mine, thank you...

Families are Forever! ;-)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Follow Friday - John Brown Kin

This week I am recommending a very interesting blog:
John Brown Kin - the entry that caught my attention was:

It is not only a family site, but the subject is one of great interest, both positive and negative, in the Kansas/Missouri area where I have lived in the past 15 + years.

I followed with interest the development of the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area, which crosses our two state borders. The Civil War was largely fought, again, in words, over the last ten+ years in getting to where we are today. John Brown is a hero to many in Kansas - he appears in a huge mural in the State Capital. He is the worst of scoundrels to folks from Missouri... along with a long list of others. Many were surprised how heated were the feelings that still existed as the Freedom's Frontier committees discussions moved forward to new understandings by all of those involved.

Thank you, Alice, for a great genealogy blog!

Families are Forever! ;-)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - camera

This is the 35mm slide camera on which I took family photos from 1952 into the 1970s, when our children were ten to fifteen years old... high school, college, early married life. It is a treasure to me and my family... my oldest daughter claims it as one of her heirlooms. ;-)

Families are forever! ;-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Hollister, MO - late fall

The fall of the year takes on many shapes, and has many representations in our thoughts of life and our place in our own ancestry stream. With this in mind, I offer this photo, without further comment.

Family is forever! ;-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Lyon

The Tombstone featured here, of young Harry Lyon [my first cousin 3 times removed], was my first exposure to this type of monument- about ten years ago. Have seen a lot since, but I still remember this one because of the family details.

Here is a close up.
Here is the parent's story.
"William Eugene LYON, the son of Nathan and Roxane (BATES) LYON was born in Warrenville, Ohio, May 19, 1851. He settled in Greenwood county, Kansas, in the fall of 1869. Sometime later, he moved to Illinois and was united in marriage to Miss Fanny Kinnick, December 31, 1879, at Mineral, Illinois, where they lived a short time.

Fanny Susan KINNICK was born in Bureau county, Illinois, on November 1, 1851, the youngest daughter of Walter W. and Susan (SCHWYHART) KINNICK. [She was my second great grand aunt]

The Lyons moved to Ness county, Kansas, in 1882, and located on a homestead south of Utica, where they lived the rest of their lives.

Their only son, Harry, was born 5 Mar 1887. He only lived for seven years, six months and ten days. He died 15 Sep 1894. He was the first person to be buried in the Utica Cemetery.

Mrs. Lyon passed away at her home south of Utica, February 18, 1926, at the age of 74 years, three months and 17 days.

Mr. Lyon departed this life at the Midwest hospital in Ransom, after several months of illness, Sunday, August 17, 1930, at the age of 79 years, 2 month and 28 days."

Here is the tombstone of the parents.

When we went to visit this site, we did not know they had a child. Quite a find.

Family is Forever! ;-)