Saturday, July 14, 2012

Genealogy Helps Link Us Together

The past couple of weeks have been exciting for me, as I am getting to know a couple of second cousins I've never met. We found each other through and have been corresponding via email.

Ever since I was a child, I've been curious about my mother's family. My dad's family in Florida we visited nearly every year, so I knew them well, but aside from my maternal grandmother who moved to El Paso shortly after we did and lived there until her death when I was seven, I never had the opportunity to meet my mother's family.

Luella Jean Rote Lloyd

My mother, Luella Jean Rote, was born in Sandusky, Ohio, and she grew up there. Her only sibling was a sister, Marion Virginia Rote, about  two years older, who died (of scarlet fever, according to my dad's unpublished and unfinished autobiography) when my mom was seven. As mentioned before, my mother's mother, Lulu or Lula Craun, died when I was a child. My mother's father died years earlier, while my mother was still in college.

Most of the family stories my mom told were of the good times she had with her sister. I was pretty sure she had cousins, but I didn't hear much about them. One thing that always fascinated me, as any romantic child would be fascinated, was that her grandfather, her father's father, had owned a confectionery store. She spoke of how much she loved to visit, and I always had the impression that her enjoyment of the store came more from her love for her grandfather than for the candy, sodas, and milkshakes she might have obtained there.

My researches into my mother's family lines has yielded far less information than those into my father's. Some lines in my father's family have been traced (and here, I must stand on the shoulders of genealogical giants) into the 1200s, since the Lloyd family has a number of prominent individuals, among them Thomas Lloyd,  lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania under William Penn between 1690 and 1693. The Rotes are a more mysterious lot. According to, the Rotes in America are descended from a very small number of immigrants. Most Rotes entering the United States departed ports in Norway or Germany, with a few others departing from England, Ireland,  Prussia, and Italy, and most settled in Pennsylvania. Even the origins of the name are obscure, although most sources indicate it comes from the German names Rot, Roth, or Rothe, all variants of the word rot, meaning red.

However, my questions have been much less concerned with tracing the Rotes into antiquity, and more with trying to understand my mother's family. So, it has delighted me to have, after so many years, finally found close relatives on my mother's side of the family. I'm currently in contact with two women, both granddaughters of John Charles "Jack" Rote, my mother's father's next younger brother. We've been having a grand time sending emails back and forth, as we trace the connection, fill in gaps, and share pictures. I've learned that my great-grandfather's confectionery store passed into Jack's possession, and later into one of his son's and then a daughter's hands, and remains in the family to this day. Should you have the opportunity to visit New Castle, PA, I hope you get a chance to visit Rote's on Arlington Avenue and, please, tell them you were sent by a long-lost relative. Someday, I hope to visit, myself.

ETA (19 March 2013): Today I am, very much delayed, updating this post. Three days after I published the post, I received the following correction:

I don't think we know that Jack took over the same store from Alpheus, just that they both had confectionaries. Jack's obit worded it as "he opened a store", rather than that he took over from his father. And the chain of possession from Jack was to his son Art … then to Art's son Danny …, and then to Art's daughter Dale ….
My apologies to all and sundry for the unconscionable delay in making the correction.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day 2012

I hope your Independence Day celebrations are happy and safe. Here's an infographic from Geni.

Create your family tree on Geni for free, and connect to the World Family Tree
to find out if you're related to any of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Geni is one of the online services I use to research and record my family tree, and to connect with family members. I'm happy to report that I recently connected with a second cousin on my mother's side through Geni, a connection that has proved to be very fruitful. More about that another day. Have a happy 4th!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rote Home Struck by Lightning on 24 June 1908

I just found a newspaper article that mentions one of my great-grandfathers, Alpheus Rote. According to this story from the June 26, 1908 issue of the New Castle News (the newspaper of New Castle, PA), lightning struck his home and a nearby tree.

Here's a transcript of the information:

Struck by Bolt of Lightening; Yet are Unhurt

Electrical Storm Plays Queer Tricks With City Engineers, a Young Woman and a Horse

To be rendered unconscious and then knocked out of carriage by a lightning bolt and still escape unhurt, is the remarkable experience of three of the members of the city’s engineering corps while engaged in city survey work on Willard street Wednesday afternoon.

The three men, Assistant Engineer C. E. Kimbrough and Assistants Stanley Tresser and Leslie Wilson, were sitting in the two-seated crackey which stood under a tree near the home of Alpheus Rote at No. 55 Willard street. There had been practically no violent electrical demonstration near them, when suddenly the corner of the Rote home was struck by a bolt of lightning.

For several seconds a bluish-green flame played all about the house and the tree under which the horse and carriage with the three men in it stood. Kimbrough and Wilson were knocked out of the carriage and fell to the ground. The horse was knocked senseless and did not recover for several minutes.

Neither men nor beast were hurt in the slightest that they could notice, save that the two who had been knocked out of the carriage were slightly bruised. The Rote home was badly wrecked, portions of the timbers being hurled many feet away.

Sitting near the window of the room at the corner of the house which was struck by the lightning, was one of the daughters of the Rotes. She was engaged in putting on a shoe when the bolt struck, and flying debris, consisting of lath, plaster and pieces of studding flew all about her. She escaped without a mark, not even a piece of plaster having struck her.

Isn't this a great story? I wish the article had mentioned the name of the daughter. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Surname Saturday: Herrington

Over on, I've added surname information for my mother's surname, Rote, and my father's surname, Lloyd. There's no surname information for either of my parents' mothers' surnames, Herrington and  Craun. It doesn't surprise me at all to find a dearth of information about Craun, but I had expected to find something for Herrington. Researching the meaning, origins, or history of a surname can be serious scholastic work, but as I'm no expert in this field of research and I'll only be looking for enough information to provide a brief overview, which means I can base the information on web-based sources.

Whenever I'm searching for information on a name or surname, my first stop is always Behind the Name; for surnames, that means I head for their surname subdomain, Behind the Name: the Etymology and History of Surnames. Today, I'm looking for information about my father's mother's surname, Herrington, mostly because I know it will be more difficult to find information about the Craun surname. According to Behind the Name,  Oops! Surprisingly, there's no entry for either Herrington or Harrington in their database. Before I move on to other sites, I'll just head over to the Submit a Surname form.

This looks pretty simple; let me just enter the name. Okay, that's done, so I'll click the Continue button.

I should have realized this was too easy! Behind the Name wants me to share information about the surname with them. I'll just leave this window open while I continue my research.

It's time to turn to a search engine. I enter the following search terms: "herrington surname meaning origin history." Note that most search engines, including Google (which is the search engine I normally use), ignore capitalization, so there's no need to bother with it for searches.

The first thing I notice is that Google gives me the results for "harrington surname meaning origin history." While not an absolute, this suggests that Harrington may be a more common variant of the name. Since there's only a slight spelling difference, I'm tempted to just accept the search results, but it only takes a second to switch back to my intended search and I'm sure the results will be at least a bit more closely related to my family's branch.

The first link in the search takes me to Herrington Surname History on Here, I learn that the Herrington name most likely originated in the Scottish/English borderlands, and was used to refer to people from the town of Harrington. There's more, but House of Names is a commercial site and, while in my experience the information offered by these sites is usually fairly close to the mark, I'd still like to find more from a more authoritative, less commerical, site, so I'll take note of the information and continue my search.

At this point, I realize that I've missed the most obvious places to get surname information, and I'm also realizing that what was supposed to be a quick post has turned into a lengthy one. I'm going to do the smart thing (in terms of actually sticking to my to-do list), and make a quick getaway.

Well, sort of. Before I head off, I just want to mention two sites I noticed in my search listings. The first is from the Harrington results: The Internet Surname Database, which has an entry for Harrington. The Surname Database is, according to its About Us page, a "family run web site, that has built up a database of surname origins over the last 20 years." So, it's still a commercial site, but the more personal tone and the portrait given of how the business was built from a one-man researcher's work, make me feel more positive about the information provided.

The other site is a new discovery for me,, which is an online community combining genealogy and vintage photos; their appeal to potential members states, "AncientFaces is a free family history community for sharing vintage photos and family history. Here you can perform a free genealogy search and discover your past." Their Herrington Family History and Genealogy page provides three photographs uploaded by members, in addition to a little bit of information about the surname and its origins. I don't have the time, right now, to explore further, but this could be a fun site for genealogists, whether you've got loads of family photos to share, or are hoping to find a picture of your great-aunt Nelly's husband's mother's brother.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Scanned photographs. Copyright 2008, Pamela D. Lloyd.
Original photos taken in Cambridge, England in February of 1983, probably by my husband at the time, Richard W Powell (now deceased). I am standing in front of a card shop, with my first son, Ian Powell, carried in a Snugli.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Surname Saturday, ROTE

Today's post is based on one of today's prompts from Geneabloggers:
Surname Saturday – create a post in which you discuss a surname and mention its origins, its geographical location(s) and how it fits into your genealogy research. Surname Saturday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.
My mother's maiden name was Rote. In March of last year, I posted the following in the surname database over on
The Rote surname is of German origin. British Surnames and Surname Profiles indicates that fewer than 0.001% of the populations of the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia have this surname.
According to the for-profit site, House of Names, the name originated in Bavaria, probably as a nickname for someone with red hair or a ruddy complexion. House of Names identifies a number of names (e.g. Roth, Rothe) as being related, but other sources are more tentative in making these connections. provides the information that in the United States, the name Rote was concentrated primarily in Pennsylvania at the time of the 1920 census. The number of immigrants to the United States appears to have been quite small, with most departing either Norway or Germany; identifies these immigrants as having arrived between 1864 and 1887, with most arriving in 1874. There were a total of 69 US Civil War veterans with the Rote surname, 65 for the Union, 4 for the Confederacy.
So far, I've only been able to trace the Rote line back a small handful of generations:
  • Galen Weiker Rote (b. March 16, 1888 in PA, USA, d. August 10, 1941 in Sandusky, OH, USA) to Alpheus McClelland Rote and Ella E. Ward
  • Alpheus McClelland Rote (b. March 1865 in PA, USA, d. after 1930) to William Rote and Magdalena (Martha)
  • William Rote (b. c.1814 in PA,USA, d. after 1880 in Shamokin, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States)
During the writing of this post, I've managed to discover a few more members of the family, although none in the direct line. However, I now have a few people to contact who may know more about my mother's family, so I'm very pleased.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop Censorship: Stop SOPA and PIPA

Image by Aldon via Flickr
Why is my genealogy blog getting political? Because censorship affects us all, including genealogists.

Today, blogs and sites across America, Canada, and the world are blacked out in protest of two legislative bills proposed in Congress: SOPA and PIPA. These two bills, which Congress claims are intended to stop online piracy, would have disastrous consequences for free speech, online communication, and online commerce. For an excellent overview of why this is so, read author and reviewer Cheryl Morgan's analysis.
Enhanced by Zemanta