Tuesday, September 2, 2014

100 degrees, cemeteries, and lightening!

Back to Cumberland, MD today to see what we could find in the Allegany County Special Collection at the Maryland College. We headed to the library around 10:00 after a breakfast of yogurt, blueberries and coffee (too hot and muggy to cook anything!)

The librarian was very helpful, pointing us to books and information in their special library room. However, the main genealogy librarian is apparently only there on Mondays. I was hoping to find the following today:

  • Copies of death certificates of several family members who died in Cumberland in the late 1800s or early 1900's 
    • Nope, nothing. Was told I have to go to the Maryland vital statistics office and each certificate is $25. (Sorry, Sis, can't look at the George Banks one, have to purchase it to see it.)
  • Find out where I might look up the coroner's report on George W. Ordner's death in 1904 
    • They had never had that request before. No clue where to even start....
  • Find out where the Cumberland Evening Times newspapers are and possibly look up the newspapers from March 1903 and June 1904 for obituaries
    • Nope, no clue where newspapers would be or even if they would exist, except online I could look. (Already did this from Minnesota, no luck!)
So, not much help at the library and the Genealogical Society of Cumberland. I will try and call the researcher next Monday and see if she can help me.

Next step was to find the graves in the two local cemeteries - Rose Hill and St. Patrick's. We headed to Rose Hill around 12:30 and it was 100 degrees outside and extremely humid. Perfect day for crawling around a cemetery! Not.

The groundskeeper was very helpful in pointing us to the two family graves in the cemetery - George and Mary Banks (parents of George Ordner's daughter-in-law, Charlotte, my great-grandmother) and Samuel D. Ways - Brother of George's mother, Isabella and confectioner in Cumberland. He made candy, baked goods and chocolates and sold them in a store. He was known in Cumberland as "Sugar" Ways, so family history says. After the first failure in finding the graves, we went back to the grounds-keepers office and he gave us a map. (He forgot the first time!) So we went again. If any of you have ever searched for grave sites in a cemetery before, you know what I am talking about. The maps they show you are nice and evenly laid out rows and numbered sections to find the sites. When graves are made over a period of 100 years or more, there is no such thing as rows and the numbers are only on the map! Took a while, but we successfully found both grave sites at Rose Hill.
George and Mary Banks - Charlie Ordner's In-Laws.
Someone had recently put flowers on the grave.

After Rose Hill, we decided to head to St. Patrick's Church to see if we could find George W. Ordner's grave. FindaGrave.com has his grave listed at St. Patrick's. We talked to a wonderful, helpful lady at the pastor's office. She showed us the map to the cemetery and looked up the Ordner's and Ways families who were buried there. No Ordner's showed up in her cemetery card file at all, nor on the map on the wall that had listed names since 1873. There were three plots that contained several of the Way's family (George's mother's family and his grandmother, Cecelia Ways, was buried there also.) As we headed up to the cemetery, the sky turned really dark and started lightening. Not only were we boiling hot, now we were going to get wet!

Again, we had a hard time finding the plots where the graves were located. We did manage to find all three plots - but only a few had actual headstones that were legible. One was his uncle George E. Ways (I had to actually dig out the sod above the stone to see it.)

George E Ways
Born in Frederick, MD
Born March 13, 1826  Died June 15, 1881
Catherine E. McCaughan Ways
Born in Parish of Caulfaughtrin
County Antrim, Ireland
August 26, 1832  Died February 19, 1878
 George Ordner and his wife, Dena, lived with his uncle and family in 1870 right after they were married  and before moving to Fairhope, PA. George and Dena moved to Fairhope sometime in 1870-71 and opened a general store and post office there. George was appointed the Postmaster in 1871. (I have a copy of his appointment certificate.)

We ended the hot, humid day in a wonderful restaurant east of the city  - Puccini's - Italian pasta and good wine. The restaurant was on the site of a civil war battle, Folck's Mill on August 1, 1864 in Cumberland. It was scary for the Cumberland residents to know that 2800 confederates were coming to burn the town if the town didn't pay ransom. George had already mustered out of the Union army and was probably already home in Mt. Savage. The story says hundreds of civilians formed companies to fight to protect the city along with General Benjamin Kelley's Army of the Potomac, which was brand new, untested in battle recruits. Since General Kelley was the general of George's regiment in his very first battle in 1861 in Phillippi, I can imagine that George actually was one of the civilians who armed to protect Cumberland, since many of his family were living there at the time. Pretty great finish to the day!

Tomorrow Jeff and I are headed to Fairhope, PA to learn more about George as the Postmaster there and what life was like for his son Charlie as a boy...


  1. Leave a note on the headstone of banks with yourname etc. Myabe they have more information on the family.

    1. Thanks for the great tip! We are heading back to look for GWO's grave their. I will leave a note in a plastic baggie on the Banks gravesite.

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  2. Sorry for your disappointing day. It's especially hard when people aren't very helpful. But there is someone in Cumberland that can help you. Just figure out who that is.

    Generally $25 pays for a "certified" copy. You don't need that. You might get it cheaper. You should still be able to look at it free of charge. In which case, you could capture a photo with your phone?

    The newspaper archive might be found here: http://www.newspapers.com/title_64/cumberland_evening_times/

    I don't understand why they couldn't point you to the coroner's office where they would surely know where their own records are!

    Another option is to find the "Maryland" genealogical society.

    And of course, you know that a lot of these records are on Ancestry.com

    Whomever left the "notes" comment is right on the mark. You could also make sure you leave your contact information with the genealogical society there.

    What about local libraries? Believe it or not, I found a lot of information in MA that way!

    1. Thanks for the info Ruth. We will try the local library in Cumberland and see what they have. We also found the current newspaper office, I'll check in with them to see if there are archives anywhere. Couldn't find the coroner's office, but maybe I'll stop at a funeral home to see what they can point me to. Nothing like going to the sources!

  3. You are quite a detective doing all the investigation into our past. Amazing and interesting things you are finding. Very anxious to talk to you when you get back. Great work and keep it up...some good comments from other replies too.
    Uncle Ray

    1. Glad to see you following along, Uncle Ray. Check out today's blog...I found a photo of the post office in Fairhope that GWO built in 1871. Really beautiful spot!