Catching up on nine eventful months

December 2002

Catching up on the past nine months…
I can’t believe I haven’t updated since April! I have had such a lucky year that it will be impossible to remember all that has transpired, but I’ll give it a shot.

First, and foremost, were the cousins I’ve met since my last posting—some I have tracked down and others who have found me.

Beth Lidster
Beth was doing a search on, when she came across my name in a message board. She contacted me, and I was stunned to learn that she was a Watson descendant! I have found many distant cousins online, but this was the first “close” relation that I have heard of from my grandmother’s family. As far as I knew, my brother and I may have been the only Watson descendants in existence.

Beth is my third cousin. Her great-grandfather was Alex Watson, brother to my grandmother’s father. She lives in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, my father’s home town. We have been trading information and plan to meet at Christmas.

Gene Dunnuck
Gene is my third cousin once removed. I had been working on Schmachtenberger genealogy for quite a long time before I came across his name on a Dunnuck website and decided to try to contact him. His grandmother was Eva Schmachtenberger Dunnuck, daughter of my Eliza’s brother George. [George’s will is posted on this site.]

It was wonderful to make contact with a living descendant of my Indiana Schmachtenberger branch. Gene lives in Arkansas. He and I have been exchanging info, and he sent me a great old photo of Eva and family, among other interesting data.

Clare Bertrum Billing
In November, I made contact with C. B. Billing. He is the great-great grandson of Shadrack Billing, who is either the son or cousin of my great-great grandfather Edward. Edward Billing, his brother Giles, and Shadrack all emigrated from Cornwall, England to St. Thomas, Ontario in the 1840’s. Clare lives in Connecticut and we are still comparing notes about our ancestors. He sent me some great old family photos.

McCormack Cousins
Just this month, I found an obituary online for Marguerite McCormack Pelissier. She was the daughter of Edward McCormack, who I believe to be the grandson of Julia Lang McCormack, my great-grandfather’s sister. While these connections aren’t proven, and seem to be rather distant, I do have pictures of Edward, and believe the family from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was at one time very close. I’m hoping that these new cousins can identify some of the children in the McCormack photos that I copied from Therese Strucel’s old photo album, and that we can provide new information for each other.

June highlights
June was a big month for genealogical happenings. We visited the Palmers of Virginia and had a lovely drive through Canada, including St.Thomas, my dad’s hometown.

Palmers: Meeting the Virginia Cousins
In my April update, I mentioned making contact with new Palmer cousins in Virginia. Connie Palmer Lawson and I had been exchanging emails for a bit, when she invited us to come to Virginia and meet the whole family. Rick and I spent a wonderful weekend in June in Charlotte County and met all his “new” cousins.

Rick meeting his Palmer cousins

Rick is the tall man, second from left. To the right of Rick are his cousins, brother and sister Connie and Kenneth. The man on the left is Connie’s husband, Donnie Ray. Do you think Rick and Donnie Ray shop in the same store?

We had a great time at our first Palmer reunion. We met the whole Palmer family, and shared stories and photos. We even found a picture of Rick as a boy in Connie’s album! Until that time, the family had wondered who that child was. Connie, her husband Donnie Ray, and brother Kenneth, put out a great meal, took us on a tour of the area—including several of the family graves—and introduced us to all their aunts, uncles, and cousins. We couldn’t have found a nicer family to belong to, and look forward to seeing them all again.

St. Thomas trip in June
This leads me to the very happy report on our trip through Canada this summer. Rick’s week of vacation was in June, and we spent it with family in Michigan. At the end of the trip, we stopped in St. Thomas and I spent some quality time in the George Thorman genealogy room of the St. Thomas Library [although the time was too, too short!]. That’s where I found the obituary for Eleanor Foote Lodge Billings, as well as made some other connections regarding the Billings/Billing family, and found some Rushton and Watson information as well.

I also had some time to traipse through the St. Thomas Cemetery with Lesley, the cemetery manager, then joined her for a lovely barbecue with her family afterwards. We also spent time in the Old English Cemetery, where Giles, Edward, Shadrack and their wives are buried. Unfortunately, I played phone tag with cousin Nancy Daoust, but hopefully, I will get to finally meet her at Christmas! [See “A new aunt” on the Billings page.]

Rick standing outside the Old English Churchyard in St. Thomas, Ontario

On the trip home, we continued on through Canada, down through New York and back to our home in Maryland. Little did I know at the time, but I was passing through some family history sites in Buffalo and other New York cities. Oh well, now that I know, I’m sure Rick and I will go back someday.

Exciting Billings/Foote discoveries
My great-grandfather was Edward Billings. I know little about him, except for his birth location (Cornwall, England) and that he had a brother named Giles, and a nephew or younger cousin named Shadrack [I have since discovered that Shadrack is Edward’s son – 5/2005]. The possible ancestry for Edward is on my Billings page.

Of Edward’s mother, however, I knew even less. I was frustrated because of the usual circumstances surrounding the women in any family history: I can find her in census records and death records, but have no way of discerning from those records what her maiden name may have been.

The first glimmer of hope came when I found Eleanor (Ellen) Billings’s obituary from 1908 on our St. Thomas trip in June. It gave me two big clues that would at least allow me to begin looking for more: it says she was from Fairfield, New York, and she is survived by sons A. Billings and William Lodge. Lodge? This was the first glimmer of hope, and it led to many many more discoveries. Details are on the new Foote surname page.

Finally, my site received a few awards this year, so I’ll paste them here. All in all, it was a fantastic year for genealogy.

award1 award4

Leave a Comment