Photo of the Day – January 28, 2015

The family consensus is that we have no idea where this photo was taken. I do think it was taken sometime around 1991 as my sister Colleen was born in 1988 and appears to be about 3 years old. Wearing her watermelon shirt, she’s pretty content hanging out with my dad.
Patrick Lowry and daughter Colleen Lowry, photograph, taken at unknown location, in about 1991; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Patrick Lowry, [address for private use], Poland, Ohio. Daughter sitting on father’s lap at table. Provenance is Patrick Lowry to Joseph Lowry.

Photo of the Day – January 25, 2015

If I had to guess, I would place this photo in the summer of 1991. In the photo are grandmother Barb Viti and five of her grandchildren, (l to r) Mark Witt in her arms (I presume based on the age and others in the photo), Christian Witt, Melanie Witt, Michelle Dockry and Danny Witt. This may have been taken at the home of my uncle Charlie Witt near Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. Can someone confirm that for me?
Barbara Wolford Witt Viti, Mark Witt, Christian Witt, Melanie Witt, Michelle Dockry and Daniel Witt., photograph, taken at unknown location, in about 1991; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Marie Dockry, [address for private use], Austintown, Ohio. Grandmother holding one grandchild and surrounded by four more. Provenance is Marie Dockry to Joseph Lowry.

Death Certificate of Elisabeth Louise Kreher Witt

Click to enlarge.
Elizabeth Louise Kreher Witt, or as it appears on the above, Mrs. Elizabeth Witt, is my 3rd great grandmother. She was born on 22 March 1840 in Herman Township, Butler, Pennsylvania and died at the age of 89 (or specifically, 89 years, 9 months and 15 days) on 13 January 1930 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her husband Martin preceded her in death by nine years.
From this death certificate, we know that her father was Chris Kreher and her mother was Anna Hause, both born in Germany. She died from arteriosclerosis, having been under a doctor’s care for the last few days of her life. Her son Martin Witt served as the informant of her death and McCabe Brothers Funeral Home handled the arrangements. (They remain a Pittsburgh-area funeral home however their location at 3520 Butler Street is no more.) Elizabeth was buried on 15 January 1930 at Mount Carmel Cemetery in the Penn Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

“Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906 – 1963,” index and images,, accessed 18 Jan 2015, Elizabeth Witt, 1930; citing reference Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

What’s My Ancestor Score?

If you scored 14% on a test, most people would consider that a failure. I see it as showing room for improvement. I recently tried to determine my ‘ancestor score’ and it turned out to be 14%. An ancestor score is the percentage of ancestors in 10 generations that I have identified.

Last Saturday, Randy Seaver of the Genea-Musings blog asked his readers to determine their ancestor score so I played along. In 10 generations, a person will have 1,022 direct ancestors. This starts with your parents and walks through grandparents, great grandparents, etc. Once you add yourself, you have 1,023 people.

I had no problem counting the people in my family tree through the 6th generation, but after that, it becomes difficult to count everyone. After all, a person has 64 4x great grandparents. To ease the burden, I created what is called an Ahnentafel Report. An Ahnentafel Report can be created in most genealogy software programs and places all of the direct ancestors of a particular person (in this case me) in numeric order. It becomes very easy to determine how many ancestors of each generation you have.

You can see my results below. Overall, I don’t consider my score to be horrendous as I have 100% of my ancestors identified through 6 generations and 75% identified through 7 generations. For most people, the 7th generation leads back to the early 1800’s. So I don’t consider this to be a poor score; it just means that I have much more research to do!

Click to enlarge.

Photo of the Day – January 13, 2015

I probably met my great grandma Witt at some point when I was very young. Helen Bixler Witt died in January 1985, two months shy of my third birthday. This photo of her was taken on her porch on North Osborn Street on Youngstown’s West Side in the late 1970’s. You can get a more recent view of the houses in the background by clicking here (link).
Helen Bixler Witt (1898-1985), photograph, taken at 24 N Osborn Avenue, in about 1977; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Marie Dockry, [address for private use], Austintown, Ohio. Woman sitting in a porch chair in housecoat. Provenance is Marie Dockry to Joseph Lowry.

Photo of the Day – January 10, 2015

The only thing I know about this photo are the subjects. My grandmother Barb Wolford (Viti) is on the left with her sister Betty Wolford (Thomas) on the right. I need to ask grandma for some details. Sounds like a project for the evening…

My grandma responded that the photo was taken on June 14, 1950 in her backyard in Topeka, Kansas. It was the day before my great aunt Betty’s wedding to Walter Thomas. They had turned 18 the previous October and had graduated from high school just four days prior. Betty and Walter were married for 62 years before he passed away in 2011. One of their girlfriends took the picture. The car belonged to their dad, my great grandfather Ray. Any car buffs out there know the make and model?

Barbara Jean Wolford (1931-) and Betty Jane Wolford (1931-), photograph, taken in the back yard of  the Wolford family home on Madison Avenue, on June 14, 1950; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Marie Dockry, [address for private use], Austintown, Ohio. Two woman standing in backyard with car in background. Provenance is believed to be Barbara Wolford Viti to Marie Dockry to Joseph Lowry.

Photo of the Day – January 6, 2015

My great grandmother Caroline Porubsky Wolford had the gift of the gab, a traditionally Irish phrase, but one that applies nonetheless to this Volga German lady. From her home in Topeka, she made regular phone calls back east to her daughter Barb and granddaughters Julie, Marie and Becky in Youngstown. I’m guessing this snapshot was taken sometime in the 1980’s while great grandma made one of those calls.

Top 5 Posts of 2014

2014 was a great year for my genealogy research. I made some fantastic discoveries, both personally and professionally, that will continue to enhance my search for ancestors. This website has been a great resource to help me connect with newly-located cousins and share facts and stories with known relatives. The past year saw the creation of a custom URL – – and almost 70 posts to share information and photos. Thanks to all of you who enjoy what I put together, whether it is by visiting the site or subscribing to the e-mail digest. As I look back, thanks to some Google stat magic, these were the top five posts of 2014…

5. New URL, Same Great Content – The blog has a new home and I am so happy to share it.

4. Treasure Chest Thursday – Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906 – 1924 – You have no idea how hard it is to prove someone is dead. Until you have their death certificate, that is.

3. (Not So) Wordless Wednesday – A look at the new baby Lowry! – A little genealogy trickery…

2. Military Monday – The Crew of the ‘Rum Pot II’ – A very cool crew photo of a World War II bomber.

and last but not least…
*Drumroll, Please!*
1. Those Places Thursday – A Geography of the North Side – The most popular item on the blog in 2014 is not even something I wrote. My uncle Chuck Lowry wrote up a few stories of life on Youngstown’s North Side; they are shared here with permission.