Sunday, November 4, 2012

Newspaper Accounts Tell "Interesting" Story

While researching one of my Bemis relatives recently, I happened upon a series of newspaper articles that help fill in those gaps between birth, marriage, and death. Mary (Hughes) Culp's first husband was Wilson Culp. She later married George Bemis. Upon initial inquiry concerning George Bemis, it was apparent that his new wife Mary had been married before, as there were several Culp children living in the household in 1930. Little did I know more about the story until I found these newspaper articles telling "the rest of the story."

"To Trace Fleeing Parson and Girl He Eloped With by Radio; To Give Reward,"
Daily Clinton (Indiana), 12 July 1922, p. 1, col. 6.
  Spring Valley, O., July 12 -- An attempt will be made by radio throughout the United States and Canada to locate Rev. Wilson Culp, Methodist "circuit rider" of this place, and Miss Esther Hughes, with whom he eloped several weeks ago. The father of the girl will bear half the cost of the hunt, Green County the other, and a cup is to be awarded by the county in case the man is found. George McKay, radio operator at Xenia, will broadcast the message.

"Pastor Forgives Wife After He Elopes With Another,"
Rockford (Illinois) Republic, 18 July 1922, p. 1, col. 6-7.
  Xenia, O., July 18. -- Rev. Walter Wilson Culp, former supply pastor of the Spring Valley Methodist Episcopal church, brought back from Port Huron, Mich., last night to answer to a charge of desertion, is to appear before Judge J. Carl Marshall to be arraigned.
  "I think I could love my wife better now than ever before," said the father of nine who deserted them and the wife of his youth to seek pleasure and peace in the arms of Miss Esther Hughes, 18, pretty music teacher. "She looks better to me today than she has for years."
  The deserted wife and her nine children, including the twins of seven months, were among those who stood on the station platform and saw husband and father brought back to face the law. Mrs. Culp waved to her husband. In response he raised a manacled hand, and smiled back at her and the children. No words were exchanged. None was permitted.
  Arriving there, he was willing to discuss his troubles.
  "My wife wasn't a Christian," Culp asserted. "When she was angry she would curse and no Christian can do that. I pleaded with her and prayed for her but to no avail. She made us leave, but I am willing to forgive her," he declared magnanimously.
  Culp hotly denied charges made by T. J. Hughes, father of the girl with whom he forsook home and family, that he had ever had an affair with another girl.
  "I think I ought to be given a chance," he contended. "I am willing to give Esther up. I have given her up."
  When Culp pleaded guilty to abandoning his family in probate court, he was sentenced to one year in the Dayton workhouse and fined $500.
  "Oh, God forgive me," were his last words as he was taken back to jail.

"Culp in Workhouse, Has Truck Patch Job,"
Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier, 19 July 1922, p. 1, col. 5.
  Dayton, O., July 19.--Walter Wilson Culp, Spring Valley parson who took a flyer into the realms of love with Miss Esther Hughes, today began his sentence in the Dayton work house of one year for abandoning his wife and nine children. He also was fined $500 and costs.
  Culp will be put to work in the truck patch. He says he expected to go straight and do what he can for the moral well-being of those around and about him.

"Local Pick-Ups,"
Wakarusa (Indiana) Herald, 26 July 1923, p. 5, col. 6.
   Born to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Culp of Mishawaka, Friday, twin babies. The one baby died and the funeral services were held at 3 o'clock Tuesday, Rev. H. E. Miller officiating. Burial at North Union.

"Report Culp Has Returned To His Home,"
Oil City (Pennsylvania) Derrick, 07 April 1925, p. 1, col. 6.
Wife Denies Former Minister Husband's Return, But Others Say He Has
  South Bend, Ind., April 6 -- Reports that Wilson W. Culp, former Mennonite and Methodist minister had returned to his home here following an elopement with his sister-in-law, Mrs. Dorothy Culp, led police to begin an investigation tonight. Culp's elopement with the 19-year-old choir leader of the Spring Valley, Ohio, Methodist Episcopal church, was a sensation two years ago.
  Mrs. Culp, mother of 10 children born to her and the former paster, denied that he had returned, but neighbors familiar with Culp insisted they had seen him about his home today.
  William L. Miller, St. Joseph county probation officer, confirmed late Saturday that Culp had left his home and that the wife of his brother, Clio Clup was also missing from her home at Nappanee, Ind.

"Former Pastor Deserter Again,"
Steubenville (Ohio) Herald Star, 16 July 1925, p. 14, col. 8.
Wilson Culp Is Still Most Ardent Lover; Joins Sister-in-Law Again
  South Bend, Ind., July 16. -- A.P. -- Wilson Culp, former Ohio pastor, still is a most ardent lover.
  The pastor who has twice deserted his wife and nine children, only to be forgiven each time, has again left his family and is believed by his wife to have left home with Mrs. Dorothy Culp, a sister in law, of Napanee, Ind., who disappeared at the same time as did Mr. Culp.
  It is the second time the pair have deserted their respective households in favor of each other. Last spring they cast their lots together only to break up when Mrs. Wilson Culp obtained a warrant charging non-support. When the latter refused to prosecute, each returned to their homes begging forgiveness. Their requests were granted and each promised not to do it again. However they are believed to have broken their promise and Mrs. Wilson Culp believes they have fled to Mexico.
  On previous occasions when Mr. Culp was in charge of a church in Ohio, he is said to have ran off with a choir singer only to be returned and sentenced to an Ohio workhouse on a charge of non-support. A similar charge is now pending as the result of a warrant obtained yesterday by Mrs. Wilson Culp.

"Pulpitless Pastor Can Marry Again,"
Lethbridge (Canada) Herald, 14 November 1925, p. 1, col. 2.
  South Bend, Ind., Nov. 14. -- Rev. Wilson Culp, pulpitless pastor, who twice deserted his wife and ten children to elope with Mrs. Dorothy Culp, his sister-in-law, is free to marry again, his wife having secured a final decree of divorce here.

"Eloping Minister Weds Sister-in-Law,"
Evening Independent (Massillon, Ohio), 24 December 1927, p. 1, col. 5.
  Chicago, Dec. 24, (/P)--Issuance here for a marriage license to Dorothy Culp, 24, and Wilson Culp, 49, has recalled the case of Wilson Culp, a minister who in 1925, eloped three times within a few months with his brother's wife, Dorothy, in South Bend, Ind.
  Culp was forgiven twice by his wife for the sake of their nine children, but the third time she sought a divorce, naming Dorothy Culp.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Looking for Help?

As many of you know, Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness has been gone for a year or two now.

I just wanted to let all know there is a new website out there that looks like it will be a great replacement for Random Acts.

Please check out Gen Gathering.  Be sure to volunteer wherever you can help.

Please share it with all of your friends and relatives.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Changing County and State Lines

Several years ago, I asked my great aunt why some of her siblings were born in Iowa, and some where born in Missouri? Her response surprised me, "We never moved," she said, "the state line moved!" Now, I had never considered the idea that state lines or county lines could move, but they most certainly did.

Recently, I became aware of an very useful website, the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries, that helps one visualize where these borders were, and where they are today. According to their website:

The map was produced by the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project, which has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency. It also has benefited greatly from support from The Newberry Library, the project's headquarters and sponsor, software grants from Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), and contributions from foundations and individuals.

It is very user friendly, and I spent quite some time just playing with the maps. Give it a try!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Request Two Free Microfilm Images From FamilySearch!

FamilySearch has just begun piloting a new project called "FHL Lookups". The goal is to provide patrons the means to retrieve information from books, microfiche, and film located in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

The first two requests per patron are FREE. Subsequent requests are $10 per record. To submit a request, call FamilySearch at 866-406-1830 (option 7, Personal Research Assistance) or email directly to:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Annie's Ghosts: a journey into a family secret

If you are looking for a great book to read, I highly recommend Steve Luxenbergs' 2009 book, Annie's Ghosts (New York: Hyperian).

We all love a good family history, but when one encounters a family secret, what course to take? Do we continue to hide the secret or do we dig in and try to make sense of what went on. The author finds many such mysteries and it leads to a wonderfully written story in its own right. After you read it, post your thoughts here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources

I often get questions asking where to find sources for genealogical information. One of the best places, used by professional researchers, is the Red Book by Ancestry Publishing. Here is a link the the online version. It makes a great bookmark in your genealogy favorites:
Click Here

Monday, June 25, 2012

Exciting News for New York Research!

New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971, is a wonderful collection now available on FamilySearch. Genealogists researching New York ancestors will indeed be thrilled to find this material online.

Forty-five out of New York’s sixty-two counties are represented. (Counties south of Delaware, Albany, and Rensselaer are excluded, as is Schoharie.) The collection is browsable, but has not been indexed and is not searchable. The content and year range of the probate records vary by county; for some counties there may be a general index to probate, for others there may be an index to wills only. Most records end in the 1920s with some indexes continuing to 1971.
This morning, I found the Letters Testementary for my 3x great grandfather, Ebenezer Bemis.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Evidence Explained

If you are serious about your genealogy, you will find the book Evidence Explained, by Elizabeth Shown Mills to be the absolute authority on source and citation issues.

Now this book is available as a digital download, making it available wherever your research takes you. To learn more about this offering, check out her website at:

I also recommend that you create a free account on the website and view the information in the forums. Some of the most respected minds in genealogy are available to answer and discuss your questions.

Purchase Now:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How exciting to find your parents, and grandparents in the 1940 Census!

I was able to locate both sides of my family tree in the 1940 U.S. Census.

I can help you find your family too!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

RPAC Announces Stop Id Theft Now! Campaign with White House Petition

Hello everyone!
Please see the announcement below from the Records Preservation and Access Committee regarding the SSDI.  Thanks.

Link to the petition:

Instructions for signing up at and signing the petition can be found at  =========================================================== For Immediate Release
February 7, 2012


Genealogy Community Responds To Efforts To Remove Access to Social Security Death Index and Other Records

February 7, 2012– Austin, TX: The Records Preservation & Access Committee(RPAC) – a joint coalition of international genealogical societies representing millions of genealogists and family historians – announces the launch of its Stop ID Theft NOW! campaign with its We The People petition posted at

Call To Action For IRS To Do Its Job

Each year, fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants and adults are filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The current target is the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) or Death Master File since this file, as found on numerous genealogy-oriented websites, could possibly be the source of identity thieves acquiring a deceased person’s Social Security number.

The IRS could close the door to this form of identity theft if, in fact, it were to use the Death Master File for the purpose for which it was created:to reduce fraud. If returns claiming a tax refund were screened against the Master Death File and matching cases identified for special processing, the thief should receive a rejection notice for the filing.

Tax Fraud and Identity Theft: Genealogists Are Not To Blame

The House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security is proposing to completely shut down use of the SSDI by genealogists as well as other industries such as banking and insurance that rely upon its information. Such an attempt is short-sighted and runs counter to the original purpose of the SSDI: to actually combat fraud.

Loss of Access to SSDI Affects More Than Genealogists

The SSDI is accessed by many different companies, non-profits and other entities besides individuals researching their family history. Forensic specialists utilize the SSDI when reuniting remains of military veterans with their next-of-kin and descendants. Law offices, banks and insurance companies utilize the SSDI to resolve probate cases and to locate heirs. All of these entities would be required to spend more money and more time leveraging other resources of information when the SSDI has served this purpose, uninterrupted, for over a decade.

RPAC Petitions Obama Administration

The We the People petition, now posted at and accepting signatures, has a simple yet effective mission: Take immediate steps that would curtail the filing of fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants and adults.

[Note: Visitors to the website must log in to sign the petition, or click Create an Account to register. Once registered, return to to sign the petition.]

No need for lengthy hearings in front of a Congressional committee. No need for filing statements for or against any House action. No need to waste time and effort which could be directed to more pressing national issues. In fact, the National Taxpayer Advocate in 2011 issued suggestions which do not require additional legislation but can be implemented collaboratively between the IRS and Social Security Administration (SSA) almost immediately in time to impact the current tax filing season.

About Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC)

The Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC) was formed to advise the genealogical community on ensuring proper access to historical records of genealogical value in whatever media they are recorded, on means to affect legislation, and on supporting strong records preservation policies and practices. 

The genealogical community works together through The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), which today includes The National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) as voting members. The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), the American Society of Genealogists (ASG), ProQuest and serve as participating members. To learn more visit

Monday, January 9, 2012

National Archives Puts Popular Records Workshops Online for First Time!

"Know Your Records" videos now available on National Archives YouTube Channel

Washington, DC… For the first time, the National Archives has launched online videos of its most popular genealogy "how to" workshops. These videos cover "hot topics" in genealogical research such as census, immigration and military records. Now, these popular workshops led by National Archives experts are available on the National Archives YouTube channel

The National Archives-produced *Know Your Records* video shorts cover the creation, scope, content, and use of National Archives records for genealogical research. "The National Archives is proud to make our most popular genealogy lectures available online and ready for viewing by anyone, anywhere, at any time," said Diane Dimkoff, Director of Customer Services.

Genealogy Introduction: Military Research at the National Archives:
Volunteer Service
Archives specialist John Deeben discusses compiled military service records at the National Archives.

Genealogy Introduction—Military Research at the National Archives: Regular Service
Archives Specialist John Deeben explains how to use Army and Navy registers of enlistment and rendezvous reports for research.

Genealogy Introduction—Military Research at the National Archives: Pension Records
Archives Specialist John Deeben discusses how to research military service using pension records dating from 1775 to 1916. Deeben shows samples of both Revolutionary War and Civil War pensions.

Genealogy Introduction—Immigration Records at the National
Archives Specialists Katherine Vollen and Rebecca Crawford provide an overview of immigration records from 1800 to 1957, including Customs Service and Immigration and Naturalization records, as well as records of ports and border crossings.

Genealogy Introduction: Census Records at the National
Genealogy expert Constance Potter shares tips and strategies for researching U.S. Federal Census Records 1790 to 1930, and explains how they can be used for genealogical research.