Don’t Stop at One

My family tree includes a large German heritage that settled in Baltimore in the mid-1800s. As such, when doing newspaper research I often consult Der Deutsche Correspondent, hosted on Chronicling America, for my German folks.

I outlined using Chronicling America in a previous post “Are You Using Chronicling America? If You Had Germans in Baltimore, MD…You Should!

Here is yet one more example of why you should look in multiple papers for news items.

Back in 2013 I came across the following article in the Baltimore Sun about my 2nd great grandmother.

“Fell Through a Skylight.” The Sun (1837-1992), Aug 10, 1875, pp. 4, column 4. ProQuest, <;

This article has pretty good detail of the event.  There is no more to find out. Or at least that is what I thought at the time.

Since my Italian immigrant 2nd great-grandfather ran a fruit shop, I had come across numerous advertisements in Der Deutsche Correspondent for his shop. So numerous in fact that I thought that I was beginning to think that was all I would find.  I persisted and it paid off!

I eventually found the article below.

Der Deutsche correspondent. (Baltimore, Md.), 10 Aug. 1875, pp 4, column 5. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <;

I don’t read German, but I was able to pick out the address in the article and knew this was probably my 2nd great grandmother.  Checking the date of the newspaper mentions I had for her from the Baltimore Sun, I realized this was probably the same article I found there, just in German.  But, I saw what looked like the mention of a doctor, promptly posted to the Genealogy Translations group on Facebook and impatiently waited about 15 whole minutes before I got a translation back.

“Dangerous fall through a skylight –
Mrs. Pisani, wife of Massimo Pisani, owner of the bakery
(confectionery bakery) at 141 West Baltimore street, went
on the roof of the building shortly before 12 noon, to
check if it was ok to hang the wash up to dry. As she was
talking to the maid about this, the wind blew the hat from
her head; while she was running after it to catch it she
stepped on a 3 foot by 4 foot skylight that was not strong
enough to support her. The glass broke with a loud crack and
she fell from a height of about 15 feet into the store below,
partially on to the desk at which her husband was working.
Her husband was not injured so he was able to come to her aid
immediately. Coincidentally Dr. W. D. Booker of 143 North
Eutaw street was passing the store; he was called inside to
offer medical assistance. She had a cut on her leg, a sprained
ankle and a cut on the back of her head. The injuries are not
serious and she will soon be well again.”

This version of the event answers one question I had when I found the article in the Sun…”what the heck was she doing on the roof?”  I also get a visual of her running across the roof to catch her hat.  And they had a maid? There are some discrepancies. Did she fall into some shelves? Or did she fall onto Massimo’s desk? Either way, it seems she was very lucky that she wasn’t hurt worse.  She could have broken her neck and died, or gotten a deadly infection from the cuts. As this event happened 15 years before the birth of my great-grandfather, it could have drastically changed our family.

After looking at a map, although my 2nd great-grandmother was a German immigrant and I had found several members of her family in Der Deutsche Correspondent, I believe this event was covered in the German paper because it was unusual.  And because of proximity.  The location of the shop at 141 W. Baltimore Street is now 209 E. Baltimore Street, 2 blocks from the location of the paper’s building at E. Baltimore and Post Office Avenue (now Customs House Avenue).

I imagine that at that time, the event would have attracted some attention and word may have gotten to the paper’s office just down the street. Maybe a reporter picked up pencil and paper and ran the 2 blocks to get “the scoop”.

Or maybe not.  Either way, between the two articles I now have a richer description of what happened on the day my 2nd great-grandmother fell through a skylight.

Sparks High School photo 1937

With my mother’s move to Florida I inherited a bunch of family “stuff”.  I got several pieces of furniture, an old trunk, glassware and even my 2nd great-grandmother’s spittoon.  I also got newspaper clippings, framed pictures and photo albums.

One of the pictures is a class photo of Sparks High School in 1937.  Sparks High School was located in Sparks, Baltimore County, Maryland.  The original school, which opened in 1909, was named Agricultural High School.  Around 1920 the name was changed to Sparks High School and in 1953 the school was converted to an elementary school and Hereford High School opened.

Sparks High School photo – 1937

My maternal grandmother Margaret Adelina Pisani is in the 3rd row, 4th from the right (she was 16, and depending on exactly when the photo was taken, perhaps pregnant with her first child).  The defiant looking lad in the middle of the front row is my great uncle Charles Angelo Pisani (age 17).

The back of the cardboard photo frame has a handwritten list of everyone in the photo.  All names below are spelled as-is from the photo.

From left to right, back row: Frances Eicholtz, Rose Mary Wier, Ruth Shelly, Mary Jane Sattler, Esther Wisner, Nell McGraw, Rosalie Nash, Dagmar Monson, Gladys Foster, Margot Robinson, Irene Thompson, Louise Hale, Armide Chilcoat, Virginia Bortner, Dorothy Peregoy

From left to right, 3rd row: Dorothy Ensor, Amelia Skipper, Irene Childress, Elaine Carr, Elizabeth Whiteford, Harry Fehl, Charlotte Bond, Harry Ryan, Elva Miller, Aileen Mays, Muriel Fuller, Adelina Pisani, Agertha Swam, Frances Wilhelm, Angela Wilson

From left to right, 2nd row: Jean Kerr, Edgar Thompson, Lillian Miller, Harry Stilz, Ferne Rodamar, Bernard Forbes, Miss Litsinger, Virginia Garrett, Kemp Beaumont, Mary Miller, Josh Ensor

From left to right, front row: Jack Wier, Charles Cross, Jim Coburn, Edward Ryan, Charles Pisani, William Hurst, Gordon Cumming, John Calhoun, Eugene Sattler


New On-Line Database for New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore

Thanks to a demo last night at one of the genealogy group I belong to I learned of a great new resource for Maryland.

If you have ancestors in New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore, there is great news for you!  There is now a burial database available for FREE!

Let’s take a really quick tour.

To access the burial database head over to  Next, on the top menu bar on the right side of the page, select Genealogy>Research Your Past.


Next, scroll down to the Free Basic Search.

Free database search at

Now you are ready to search.

Search box at

Plug in your names and see the results.  In this example I just searched on the Last Name Henry and got the following results:


Some things to mention:

  • You will notice in the image above the first name in the list is Edward L Henry.  In reality the first listing is for Albert J Henry.  However, the column headers are static, they do not move when you scroll the list.  So, when scrolling, be sure to scroll all the way up!
  • Notice there is more information to the right.  I know that because of the scroll bar.



  • Currently it does not look like wildcards work when searching.
  • You can only search by name, not by Section, Lot, etc.
  • It looks like you can copy the results and paste them into a spreadsheet (YAY!)

Remember to pay attention to those in the same lots, even if they have a different name.  Maybe a search of the Baltimore Sun for those people will yield some new information.

Although I have not spent an extended amount of time searching the database (yet), I am excited to get in there and dig in.

So, search the new database and have fun!


Evernote Premium Has Changed My Life!

My relationship with Evernote has been a tumultuous one.

I first started using it about 5 or so years ago.  I HATED IT.  I found it a little hard to use and didn’t really see an advantage of using it, so I stopped.

Later, I saw a few webinars about using it for genealogy and once I saw some examples, I decided to give it another try and I quite liked it.  I had a free account but it served my needs just fine.  I even did a presentation about how great Evernote was at one of my local genealogy discussion groups!

Then Evernote changed the rules for a free account.  I could no longer use Evernote on my 2 laptops, a desktop, a phone and a tablet at one time.  Now I was limited to 2 devices.  Booooo Evernote.  I was NOT going to pay pretty much for the ability to use more devices, especially when I had another option.

I subscribe to Microsoft Office 365, so I have a TB of space to use with OneNote.  So I figured I would just switch to OneNote.  One of the advantages of OneNote (besides being able to use it on 5 devices) was the ability to use my Apple Pencil on my iPad Pro directly in OneNote to write notes on my uploaded PDF files from meetings or seminars.  With Evernote, I had to use another app outside of Evernote (I used Penultimate) to add those handwritten notes.

So, I exported all my notes from Evernote, imported them into OneNote and tried for about 6 months to use OneNote.  It was OK, but I just didn’t like OneNote as much. I really did like Evernote better.  I liked Evernote’s tagging, the ability to easily create a table of contents note without a 3rd party app and just the overall organization.  There weren’t huge differences between the two but the differences were enough to make me go back to Evernote.

I reinstalled Evernote and used the free version again.  Ultimately I decided that I would bite the bullet and pay for Evernote.  I chose Premium for the ability to search and annotate PDFs.

Now that I had a larger monthly upload limit I decided to upload all of the newsletters and quarterly publications from the various societies I belong to into Evernote.  I previously had them in Google Drive.

WOW!  Now that I have them in Evernote I can search all of those publications quickly.  I have found 4 articles so far that pertain to branches of my family that I would have eventually found, probably by looking at indexes at the various societies, if I took the time to do so.  (P.S. – I don’t think I am smart enough to search in Google Drive correctly because I can never seem to find anything using the search.)

The Evernote searching capability within my PDFs makes it well worth the subscription price for me!


I am sitting on an airplane on my way back home from Florida after spending a week getting my mother settled in her new home.  With her recent move, this will be the first time in my entire life that I do not live within about 30 minutes of someone in my immediate family.

I have always lived near any combination of my father (who passed away in 2004), my mother, and my sister (who moved to Florida in August) so this is just…weird.

When my mother decided that she was going to move to Florida, my sister said to me, “why don’t you move down here too?”

My response was “I can’t, I haven’t found all our dead relatives yet.”

Family Tradition???

Most families have traditions that are passed down from generation to generation.  And then there are the traditions that die out.

With Easter coming up this Sunday, I was reminded about a group of pictures of my father’s side of the family and wondered about the strange plastic egg “tricks” in the pictures.  I will have to remember to ask if this was some sort of tradition, or just coincidence.

First, we have the men in the family performing the infamous plastic egg balancing act.  This picture is probably from 1967.


Next, the women folk give it a try.  I think the ladies had a little easier time since that hair helped hold the eggs in place.  Except for me. I’m the little girl with the yellow egg falling off my bonnet.


Then we fast forward a couple years and leave it up to the kids.  We apparently decided to kick it up a notch.  Anyone can balance half of a plastic egg on their head, but it takes real talent to balance half of a plastic egg on their head AND half an egg on each ear!  That’s me, the little girl on the left and 2 of my cousins (the same little boys in the first picture).


I kid about the family tradition but I love these pictures.  I don’t remember balancing the eggs but I do remember the Easter egg hunts at my grandmother’s every Easter.

Happy Easter!

Plotting My Ancestor’s Land on a Current Map

As I have mentioned before, much of my research is in Maryland.  In Maryland, all land records are on-line.  That makes finding specific locations for my ancestors’ homes and businesses a little easier since it can be done from home.  There are a lot of tools out there, free and paid, to help plot the information found in the deeds available on-line.  But for my 5th great-grandfather Joshua Whitaker, someone else did much of the work, I just reap the rewards of his hard work!

If you have an early landowner in Baltimore or Harford County, Maryland you may want to check this out as well.

Below is the final result of my search, then I will talk about how I got there:

Map of Joshua Whitaker’s property generated in Google Earth

Step One – Finding THE Land Records

My original search involved searching for land records for Joshua Whitaker.  Joshua was born in 1761, probably in Baltimore County, Maryland since Harford County was not formed until 1774.  Joshua married Ruth Howard in 1781 at about aged 20, so I assumed I should start searching for him in the Harford County land records around 1780 or so.  I found several deeds for Joshua Whitaker and I attempted to plot them out.  Earlier land records are harder to plot (in my opinion) because the property line references are defined very differently than today.  Many times the property lines are defined as a tree line or the edge of a stream, not necessarily as bearings and distances like they are now.  So my progress was S-L-O-W.

Along with the MDLANDREC site, the Maryland State Archives has also made plats available on-line.  So I also headed to and searched “Whitaker” (in the Advanced Search) to see what came up.  Two of the records caught my eye:

  1. A Patented Certificate in 1819 for “Whitacres Invitation”
  2. An Equity Record from 1825 for “Property of the late Whitaker, Joshua”

My Joshua died in 1818 so the 1819 certificate was a head scratcher.  But it was possible that the Equity Record could be for him.

Time to look at the actual documents.  The document contained 9 pages but I will highlight 2 of them here.

Looking at the 1st image of the Patented Certificate it was possible that this was my Joshua. It was surveyed in 1815 and passed in 1816.

Source: Harford County Circuit Court (Certificates, Patented, HA) Patented Certificate 878, MSA_S1199_892, page 1 of 9.

And page 3 had a plot of the land:

Source: Harford County Circuit Court (Certificates, Patented, HA) Patented Certificate 878, MSA_S1199_892, page 3 of 9.

Then I looked at the Equity Record.  I know from Joshua’s will that his property was to be divided between his wife and several of his children.

Source: Harford County Circuit Court (Plats on Microfilm, HA Index) Equity Record ALJ 18, p. 279. MSA_S1540_1495.

Cool!  The basic outline of the 2 records match.  And, referring back to the will, this is my Joshua.

So now I have a plot of the land that Joshua Whitaker owned but it will take a lot of work to put Joshua’s land on a current map to see exactly where this land was.

Step Two – Locate on today’s map

For a while I tried using the land records going forward in time to plot Joshua’s land in today’s landscape.  It was frustrating and I was mostly unsuccessful.

And then I stumbled upon a simple looking ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL website.  One of the pieces of software I use to plot land is called DeedMapper from Direct Line Software.  Besides the software, their site includes a Research Directory (so you can see others researching land records in an area) and a Deed Data Pool (customer contributed deed files).  In looking at the Deed Data Pool I found a Baltimore County and a Harford County file contributed by Mike Pierce.  Clicking on the Harford County file led me to a page containing the Deed Mapper file for Harford County.  This was great because it allowed me to download the file and open it in the DeedMapper program with a background map.

But the really great part was when I went back to the base web address and saw everything Mike Pierce’s “The Happy Map-Maker’s Website”.

This site includes searching aids for Baltimore County and City, his aforementioned DeedMapper files, information on leases and land grants in Baltimore and Harford Counties and an animated progression of land grants in said counties.  GREAT resources.

But the pièce de résistance is a Google Earth version of the Baltimore and Harford County leases and land grants. AAAAHHHHH!  Since Google Earth is one of my most favorite tools, this is awesome!

So I opened the Harford County patents, downloaded the file and opened the KML file in Google Earth.

At first look the file is very busy and looks hard to navigate.

Harford-patents.kml file from loaded into Google Earth

But by using the tools available in Google Earth I was able to isolate Joshua’s 1819 land patent.

Harford-patents.kml file from loaded into Google Earth with Whitaker’s Invitation isolated

This allowed me to export just Joshua’s land as a KMZ file and create  standalone map placing Joshua’s land in today’s world.


Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Interactive Map is BACK!

One of the most valuable FREE tools for genealogists (in my opinion) is finally back!  The Newberry Library has released a test version of the interactive county boundary maps.  You can find it at

Although the information on county boundary changes still existed while the interactive tool was being overhauled, many have been waiting patiently for the return of the interactive map.

What makes this tool so valuable?

One of the time consuming mistakes a genealogist can make is searching in the wrong location for our ancestors.  I learned this when I first started researching.  I was searching for some of my Maryland ancestors in Harford County, Maryland.  I couldn’t find any records for them in the 1700s even though I knew they were there.  Turns out I was right, they were there except it wasn’t Harford County, it was Baltimore County.  Knowing that Harford County wasn’t formed until 1774 would have saved my months of searching for records in the wrong location.  Once I realized that I should have been searching Baltimore County instead of  Harford County, I found many of the records I needed.  If the interactive map had existed back then I would have saved much time and head scratching.

Once I discovered the interactive map it was a definite “go to” site, especially when beginning research in a new location.

Check out the new tool.  Users have the ability to provide feedback on the interactive map as well via email.


I scream, you scream!

I had a little bit of genealogy serendipity happen today.

Back story – Recently while doing some collateral research on a line on my maternal grandmother’s side, I found a 1st cousin 5 times removed, a man named Jacob Fussell, Jr.  Jacob, a Quaker, was the first ice cream manufacturer in the United States.  His business started in Seven Valleys, York County, Pennsylvania in 1851 after an older Quaker asked him to take on a business that he had acquired by way of a defaulted loan.  In 1854 Jacob moved his business to Baltimore City, Maryland and eventually expanded to several cities in the U.S.

Two weeks ago I did a presentation at a local genealogy discussion group that I belong to that included some information on Jacob.  On my slideshow I included a picture of Jacob Fussell’s ice cream wagon that I had found on Google.  During the presentation, some discussion ensued about the ice cream cart and where was it today.  After saying that I had gotten the picture from Google and hadn’t actually taken it, a few people speculated on where the cart may be.  Someone said that they thought they had seen it at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Also, on an unrelated but related note – I belong to the Maryland Historical Society, with a joint membership to the Maryland Genealogical Society.  I needed to renew my membership and while in the process of renewing on through the internet the other evening I was interrupted and never completed the process.

Now on to this morning – I work 3 days a week in downtown Baltimore, about a half mile from the Maryland Historical Society.  Since this morning was so nice and I usually try to get a lunchtime walk in on nice days AND I hadn’t renewed my membership, I decided to kill 2 birds and walk to the Historical Society and renew in person.

I walked in the door and look what was parked in the lobby:

Jacob Fussell Ice Cream Cart at the Maryland Historical Society

WOW, I had chills!  I also lost my head because in my excitement I failed to read the placard that you see in front of the cart.  I found out that the cart had in fact been at the Museum of Industry, on loan from the Historical Society.

Luckily I will have the opportunity to go back (probably tomorrow) to read it and snap a picture or two.

On a side note, in 1951 the Historical Society erected a plaque at the site of his factory at Hillen and Exeter Streets.  In looking at Google Street View I couldn’t locate the plaque on any of the buildings that still stand at the intersection.  So, I am trying to find out if the building is still standing and if it isn’t, what happened to the plaque??  I talked to a couple people at the society today and the consensus is that it unfortunately probably ended up in a dumpster.  I hope not.

Now, if Jacob’s ice cream cart could lead me to his father-in-law’s burial location I would be eternally grateful!