December 31, 2016

"Boots on the Ground" Reprised

We have recently been asked what some of the most important factors are in revealing and telling the stories that are represented by the names and inscriptions on inscribed quilts.  Much of the work is done on the computer using genealogical web sites, family histories, public record data, and information provided by others who have researched and written about the families in question.  However, the most useful and informative way to discover the lives of people whose names are inscribed on quilts is by walking the ground they walked, visiting the homes they lived in (if they still exist), seeing the communities in which they lived and died - all of these activities bring into better focus their stories. 

As researchers, one on the west coast and the other in Virginia, we are usually far away from the towns and communities represented by the people named on Quaker quilts.  This is especially true in Lynda's case who found the concept of "boots on the ground" particularly useful in researching the people and places named on Philena Cooper Hambleton's quilt.

What follows is one of our posts from 2012 that describes the benefits of finding others who are willing to help you discover the intimacy of places you are unable to visit and to shed light on the lives you are researching.


"When asked what I think are the most valuable research tools I've come across, I always answer Tina Frantz and Pat Rowell.  These two remarkable women contributed more to my research into Philena Cooper Hambleton's family and life than any other sources available to me.  I highly recommend to any of you who are trying to research a signature quilt, whether Quaker or not, to seek the help of willing "boots on the ground" - people who live in the geographical areas of your quilt's inscribers.  They can do leg work you cannot do from your home, and discover information you will never find in books or on the Internet.

When you find someone willing to assist you, be aware that research usually involves costs.  Always ask about charges or fees before formally requesting research work of others.  It is a fair expectation that you will have to pay someone for time spent searching files, copying documents, and mailing.  This is just good research etiquette. Sometimes all that is asked is a donation to an organization in whatever amount you wish to pay.  And sometimes fees are waived altogether, particularly if  there is a potential for a scholarly publication or presentation that will bring positive publicity to the research provider.

I became acquainted with Tina Frantz in 2002 when I first ventured to Columbiana County, Ohio.  She was recommended to me by the owners of the B&B where my husband and I stayed just outside of Lisbon.  On our first trip, Tina referred me by phone to local historical societies and libraries where I might find records I was seeking.  In 2004, when we returned to Lisbon, Tina spent three days with us in her SUV negotiating flood-ravaged roads to take us to cemeteries, old houses, open land, and archives pertinent to the lives of the people named on Philena's quilt.

Lynda and Tina Frantz "showing" Philena's quilt to past members of the Dutton
family, including Philena's sister-in-law Rachel Hambleton Dutton.  Dutton Family
Cemetery, McCann Road, Hanover Township, Columbiana County, Ohio, 2004.
Photograph by Theodore H. Chenoweth.
Tina Frantz and Theodore H. Chenoweth using chalk to highlight the names on a
tombstone where the children of William and Hannah King Ward are buried.
King Family Cemetery, McCann Road, Butler Township, Columbiana County, Ohio, 2004.
Photograph by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Tina Frantz and Lynda examining the names on tombstones rolled by vandals down
the hill from the Sandy Spring Meeting cemetery outside of Hanoverton, Ohio, 2004.
Photograph by Theodore H. Chenoweth.
Tina not only knows the "ground" of Columbiana County but has long worked with the Ohio Genealogical Society, local historical societies, and county offices to develop historical information about the early residents of this part of Ohio.  Through her "day job" working with the county court in Lisbon, she has access to 19th century legal records.  These include wills, land purchases and transfers, cases heard before the Court of Common Pleas, probate records, suits, and other legal transactions that she has graciously searched for me outside of work hours.  Of particular interest to me have been the 19th century probate records related to the settlement of estates.  These provide an inventory of every item owned by the deceased and, when sold at the traditional "crying sale", an account of who bought each item and how much was paid for it.  I have urged Tina to co-author an article on probate records with me - titled something like "Probate Records are a Gas!!" - because these records give such insight into the personal lives of people and also show, through recorded purchases, relationships with neighbors and family members who bought items from the estate.  One day we just may do it.  [Although this has not happened as of 2017.]
I found Pat Rowell by chance one day while trying to follow up on some vague information about where most of the Hambletons were buried.  Pat volunteers at the Poweshiek County Historical and Genealogical Society in Montezuma, Iowa, performing research for members of the public seeking information about their families or just interested in the history of the area.  Pat volunteered to visit local Quaker cemeteries for me to see if she could find the graves of Philena, her husband Osborn, and other immediate members of the Hambleton family. Find them she did at the Friends Cemetery just outside of Lynnville, Iowa, in Jasper County!
Pat Rowell standing next to one of several Hambleton tombstones located in
the Friends Cemetery, Lynnville, Jasper County, Iowa.  Photograph courtesy of
Pat Rowell.
Poweshiek County Historical and Genealogical Society in Montezuma, Iowa.
Photography by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Pat them volunteered to comb through the files of the Poweshiek County Historical and Genealogical Society looking for items related to the Hambletons and their in-laws, the Cravers.  She found Osborn Hambleton;s probate records, several articles in various publication about Hambleton family members as Iowa pioneers, old land maps with properties identified by owner names, obituaries about Hambleton family members, an article about the anti-slavery society founded by Osborn and Philena at Forest Home, and a wealth of other information.  We were able to find the house that Philena and Osborn built in 1855 using the maps, and all of these sources helped to bring the Hambletons' lives in Iowa into biographical focus.  My greatest regret is that I was unable to meet Pat in-person when we traveled to Iowa after visiting Ohio in 2004.
Lynda in front of the stone marking the graves of Osborn, Philena, and Lorilla Hambleton.
Friends Cemetery, Lynnville, Jasper County, Iowa, 2004.  Photograph by 
Theodore H. Chenoweth.
So, how do you find wonderful people like Tina and Pat to help you with your research?  The easiest way is to contact historical societies in the cities, towns, or counties where you know quilt inscribers lived.  This can be done by searching the Internet for historical societies in a particular area (i.e., Ithaca Historical Society, Columbiana County Historical Society, Chester County Historical Society).  You usually don't have to know the society's exact name to find them.  If a relevant society does not have its own web site or email address, you will usually find at least a street address and telephone number that you can use to contact it.  Then call or write asking if they have any volunteers who are available to assist you find local records or visit local cemeteries.  You will be surprised at how willing volunteers are to help you, especially those associated with small, rural societies and libraries."
Lynda Salter Chenoweth
Meantime, two "new" old Quaker quilts have come into our lives in the past couple of months.  Lynda is feverishly researching one from Chester County, Pennsylvania, that accompanied a newly married woman to Ohio, and is about to see and photograph another whose maker originated in Virginia and ultimately moved to Ohio. You will be seeing and hearing about these in the months to come.  Both are historically interesting and significant.
We wish you all a Happy New Year.



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