I am a Buckeye.
No, that's not just a worthless nut (although my husband might agree on the "nut" part), but rather it's an understood term used for those who live in the state of Ohio. I was born there, raised there, my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all spent the majority of their lives there. And so on, and so on, etc...you get the idea.
The only thing is that I no longer live there. As life usually happens, I got married, and we moved to the state of higher taxes and Billy & Hillary. New York - The Empire State. Of course, I wasn't smart enough while living in Ohio to be interested in my family's history when I actually had the resources available to me there. Yes, I spent weeks kicking myself over this fact. Thank goodness for the internet and for weekend trips "home".
So it was while researching my father's family, I learned that my 4th great-grandfather although had died in Ohio, he was actually born in New York. Sure, we're a big enough state, but my interest was peaked. You never know, right? Researching a little further, and I discover that my 5th great-grandfather had left Northampton, Massachusetts, and moved across New York state first settling in Washington County, and then finally settling in Steuben County where he eventually died.
I'm a Buckeye, remember - I had no idea where these 2 counties were in proximity to me. Again - thank goodness for the internet and in particular, mapquest. As it turns out, Washington County was the complete opposite side of the state, and not really an option for in-person research. So I looked to Steuben County.
I smile just thinking about it.
Steuben County, the home of my 4th & 5th great-grandparents, was only an hour and a half away from me. This Ohio-born & bred-woman was now living only 90 minutes from the land my ancestors called home in a completely different state!
I immediately planned my trip to find more information on my family, and that day arrived a beautiful clear autumn day. I was able to visit the history center, where the volunteers were more than helpful. I moved on to the county courthouse where I located the deed for my 4th great-grandfather's land, as well as maps for where both of their properties had been located. The probate department yielded no will for either grandfather, but for an uncle instead that had been appointed executor, and in the midst of "paid-in-full" receipts was one that had the signatures of 4 out of the 5 siblings from the mid-1800's.
Once I was finished with all the "legal" work, I headed out to the two cemeteries where my family was buried. The first one held a number of Hulbert family members, many I didn't even recognize but held onto the information when I would be ready to place them all together. Even found one "little fella" who I affectionately named "Uncle Henry":
After I finished up my work there, and said goodbye to Uncle Henry, I drove on to find my next and last stop - the cemetery of my 5th great-grandfather. I had no idea if I was even going to be able to find his stone, let alone read it. But I knew this cemetery was located in the heart of the families dwellings. It was the land they had helped to establish, and I needed to be out there.
I had my map, and I drove around curves, and up & down hills...and came to a dead end. Retracing my route, I tried again, and there it was - at the top of a hill, surrounded by a little white picket fence. There was no path to drive up to it, so I left my car parked on the shoulder of this county road and hiked up the little trail that led the way. But where to start? The cemetery wasn't that large, but considering my run-in I had just had with "uncle Henry" I wasn't up for trudging through the long grass that and moving aside the weeds that had grown up around some of the stones.
I didn't have to search long. My 5th great-grandfather AND grandmother were right there near the entry of the cemetery. Their stones as clear as the sky was blue. Next to them were a son & daughter-in-law, a grandson, and even a little grandbaby that was part of my direct line that I did not know about.
I sat on the grass in front of Moses & Esther's final resting place, and although I'm not an emotional person, I couldn't help but cry while I sat there among my ancestors, so many in one place that I never thought I would care to find or even be so close to. It was almost a "full circle" moment for me, coming from Ohio to New York myself, and finding myself there among my New York family before they came to Ohio. And as I looked up and out across the grass, past the tombstones and picket fence - I could see miles and miles of farmland. Land that had at one time been worked by the hands and sweat of my family. And at that very moment, I became very proud of the person that I was and where I had come from.