This is where HOT new information will be posted, that hopefully will help us all in breaking down those
BRICK WALLS we keep running into.
Check often to see what may have been found!

One of our MOST WANTED  has been FOUND!!
No one had any information on the death dates or burial sites for NELSON CROWE and his wife MARY ANN (WINEBRENNER) CROWE.
The couple had been found in the 1880 Census, thus we knew they both lived passed the date of the census. 
We could not find them in the Maryland Death Index, so it was assumed they died before 1898 OR in another state.

Carol Vivier just received that information from a friend.

Nelson CROWE died in 1883.

Mary Ann (WINEBRENNER) CROWE died in 1891.

Both are buried in the cemetery of Mt. Zion Methodist Church, located six miles west of Frostburg.

Now if we can find out when Morris WINEBRENNER and his wife Hannah died AND who their respective parents are,
we will have knocked down a major portion of OUR BRICK WALL!


William Edward Meders

It looks like we now know who William Edward (Ed) Meders' mother and siblings were. Ed Meders was the father of Mabel (Meders) Gibbs, Fay (Meders) Elsberry, Bob Meders and Bill Meders. It appears William EdwardMeders' mother (Mary Cecilia Lavenia Meders) was an unwed mother, and she gave him her maiden name. I haven't been able to find any indicator for how we could trace his father. William Edward Meders was born on September 25, 1879 in Cumberland, MD. His mother married Oscar A Willard sometime between 1880 and 1882 (census records vary for the years married). William Edward Meders grew up in his step-father's home, yet maintained the Meders name, implying that Oscar was not his father. The information that began to solve this came when I talked with Bob Meders' daughter. She said that her parents had gone to Cumberland in the 1960s and had visited 3 aunts who lived together in the same house in Cumberland. When visiting, her mother tried to ask about Bob's father’s ancestry. Her mother was taken aside by one of the aunts and told "don't ask those questions", and Bob's daughter was left with the impression that her grandpa Meders (Bob’s father) had been born out of wedlock, and had been raised as part of the Willard family when his mother later married. Bob's daughter had kept several old address books her parents had, and she dug out the oldest of these, the one that had many of the entries in her father’s handwriting. She went through those and pulled out the Cumberland names, and other names that seemed to be relatives. Three of the names were listed as being Bob Meders' aunts (all were married names). I checked those out, and found one family tree that listed the aunt's maiden name - Willard. That became a major key. I found another tree and a census record that identified one (and only one) family in the Cumberland area that had that last name and also had a daughter the right name and age to be the aunt. And that family also had daughters with the same first names as the other aunts. And the last name was the same as one of the other names of someone who was apparently a family member, but for whom there was no identified link before. So we seemed to have the right family for being Bob Meders' aunts. But how did Meders fit into the picture, and did the impression Bob Meders' wife received seem to fit with the facts here?
The final key came from someone who I've had contact with for the past couple months out in the Cumberland area (Terry Craig) who is in the Meders line, and who has done a lot of research into the family history. From prior contact and checking I knew that there was only one Meders (or anything similar to Meders) line who stayed in the Cumberland area for any period of time. There were a couple of other families with names similar to Meders, but they were just passing through. And Ed Meders' obituary said he was born and grew up in Cumberland, so it seemed to rule out the families who were just passing through. The family was one that began with John and Margareta Meder coming from Germany on 25 February 1837, with son Michael who was then 2 years old. They landed in Baltimore and settled in Cumberland, and had several children, including 3 other sons, George, John, and Lewis. Michael, the son born in Germany, was a butcher. The other 3 sons were all railroad engineers for the B&O railroad. And George had all his family working for the railroad when he was in Cumberland (according to the City directory). Michael changed the last name to Meders (with an “s”). The other brothers anglicized their last name to Meadows. Two brothers moved down to West Virginia with the railroad by 1870. Louis remained in Cumberland and married, and he had a son named William, but the census record showed the son would have been born in 1875, not 1879 or 1880, so there was a potential issue. Louis died from Consumption (TB) in 1881, so the apparent challenge seemed to be tracking down his former wife (who appears to have remarried). Ultimately that turned out to not be needed. What the Meders family researcher from Maryland put together was that John and Margareta's son Michael Meders, and his wife, Caroline “Nonnie” Meders, had a daughter Mary Meders (or Meadows as was being used on some census returns) who was living 5 or 6 houses away as of the 1880 census, working as a "servant" and listed as single. Sometime between 1880 and 1882 (census records vary) she married Oscar A. Willard (the online family trees only said his wife's name was Mary - they didn't give her last name). So Mary Meders was the mother of Bob Meders' aunts. We had our connection. She wasn't married before, and this was the family that Ed Meders called his family. And by the 1950 Cumberland directory I've been able to confirm that 7 of the recorded Willard children were still living, and Mary Willard was also alive when Ed Meders died, and at the time of the 1942 directory she was listed as a widow (we later found out that her husband, Oscar, died in 1921). The obituary said that Ed's "aged mother" and 7 brothers and sisters were alive as of the time of his death in 1943. And we had the story related by Bob Meders' wife which seemed to confirm the setting.  As we put together other pieces we later found, even the difference between Mary Willard’s will, written in 1931, and the list of Oscar’s children in his 1921 obituary, confirms this. Oscar’s 1921 obituary only lists 8 children (the newspaper article says 9, but only 8 are listed, since John Perry was one person not two), and William Edward is not one of the children listed. Yet Mary’s will, written in 1931 (mentioned in a newspaper comment about the probate of her will), listed 9 children, and specifically mentioned William Edward (listing him by the last name Willard). Also every other name clue that Bob's daughter provided has been identified and fits. And the fact that William Edward used the last name Meders, not Willard, confirms that he knew the difference.  After the pieces were put together, I received the final piece to the puzzle, which confirms what the previous finding indicated.  The final piece we located was the Catholic baptism record from St. Patrick’s church in Cumberland, MD, which listed William Edward, with the same birth date, his mother Mary Meadows (the anglicized version of Meders), and no father, with the comment “Natural child” after his mother’s place of birth. Another small fact that seems to confirm this is something with the Meder family history.  There seemed to be part of the family history which was hidden and not spoken of.  To go along with this, Michael, Mary’s father, was mentioned in very few church documents, even though his wife was mentioned (i.e. baptism records, etc).  Other than Michael’s internment record (which we recently located), the only two places his name seem to have been mentioned are in the records of his daughter Florence’s wedding, long after he passed away, and in the church genealogy book he is refered to as the spouse of Caroline Hodel by his last name only which is spelled "Meder".  Almost as if he had a disagreement with the church over something.
John and Margareta (Michael’s parents) were devout German Catholics and appear to have been founding members of the German Catholic church that began in Cumberland, SS Peter and Paul's. They have a family plot in the cemetery there where they are buried along with 2 of their daughters. And Louis was also buried at a nearby English speaking Catholic church (St. Patrick’s). Michael's wife (Caroline Hodel-Meders) is buried in an unkempt area at the far end of the main cemetery at SS Peter and Paul's, her interment records state that she died Feb. 9, 1919 of paralysis, and say she was buried in the part of the cemetery for parish members. She was buried Feb. 12, 1919. Her tombstone reads "Caroline "Nonnie" Meders - Beloved Mother and Wife of Michael."  Church records for SS Peter and Paul’s confirm that Michael is buried in the same cemetery, also the part of the cemetery for parish members. His church interment records indicate he died of bronchitis on Jan. 26, 1886 and was buried on Jan. 28, 1886.  Given the custom at the time, it is likely Caroline was buried beside him, but without a grave marker this is not possible to verify.  The lack of a grave marker is probably due to Caroline, as a recent widow, not having funds to pay for a grave marker.  At one time we had wondered what the rough unkempt status of the area where Caroline was buried, and the lack of a listing in the cemetery index, might mean.  It now appears this part of the cemetery was for the common members of the parish, those who could not afford the more expensive family plots toward the front of the cemetery.  The lack of listing in the cemetery index seems to relate to poor early record keeping, where only the records of the purchased family plots seems to remain, and the difficulty in reading some older gravestones like Caroline’s (i.e. it appears that the cemetery records are based on family plots and clearly legible gravestone inscriptions).  The rough unkempt appearance is probably due to a combination of finances and the terrain, where rough terrain and many trees make maintenance a lot more expensive, resulting in a lack of maintenance in the more expensive to maintain areas. Caroline's family also had a long history in the church. Her parents were both from the same region of Basel in Switzerland. Her father Johann Hodel, born about 1800, immigrated to the US along with his older brother Nicolas from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the Brig Xenophon on Aug, 14, 1817. Johann married Anna Maria Bussinger, born about 1801, sometime before 1828. Being from the same region, it's uncertain if they had known each other in Switzerland. They had 8 to 10 children in Germantown, a suburb of Philadelphia with a largely German speaking population.

The entire family moved from Germantown to Cumberland, Maryland sometime between the 1850 and 1860 censuses. Johann seemed to be a man of numerous occupations according to the censuses from a laborer, gardener to cartman. Anna Marie "Mary" Hodel died Jan. 1, 1884 and Johann "John" Hodel died Jan. 14, 1884. They are buried in SS Peter and Paul's Cemetery not very far from John and Margareta Meders in unmarked graves.  It appears Mary Meders was William Edward (Ed) Meders' mother. It appears she gave him her maiden name, and did not disclose the real father's last name, at least publicly. The only clue we seem to have about the real father's identity is the Edward in his name (there is no Edward listed in the Meders family, and the only William there was Lewis' son). Since his name was not changed to Willard when Mary married Oscar Willard, it seems pretty clear that he was not the father. Unless we find something a lot stronger for a clue, we may never know William Edward Meders' father, but at least we seem to have identified his mother, stepfather, and siblings. Bob Meders' daughter said that the impression she got from her mother was that the reason Ed and Rose left Cumberland when the opportunity presented itself with the railroad was to get away from everyone knowing his background. What you'll notice is that, with the move to Colorado, Ed started with a clean slate, and ended up accomplishing things he could never have done in Cumberland. For example: -

He was on the city council in Grand Junction for at least a couple terms, and Bob's daughter says he was even mayor for a term (not mentioned in the article). -
Somehow, probably because of his political activity locally, the union got him interested in political activity in a union setting. He became a union organizer at the railroad shops (something not popular with employers of the age), and that got him fired by the railroad once, the union got him on at another location, and when the railroad found out, he was fired again. Ultimately he went to work for the public utility as a mechanic, which is where he worked until his death.

He became active and remained active in Democratic politics (the opposite end of the political spectrum than dad was involved with), was active in running the party on a local level, and was apparently a "go to" person for contact with the politicians. Bob's daughter says her grandfather’s records had copies of a number of requests for appointment of people to different positions, and even a political appointment for him. And there are even a couple letters signed by Franklin Roosevelt, apparently signed before he became president.
With Ed’s move across the country, Ed overcame the social stigma at the time, and achieved things never possible back in Cumberland. The difference in last names is probably the reason why the name of his "aged mother" and his brothers and sisters was not mentioned in the article about his death.

Ancestry and family Tree

William Edward (Ed) Meders' mother was Mary Cecelia Lavenia Meders, daughter of Michael Meders (born about 1834-Germany) and Caroline Hodel-Meders (born in Nov. 1837-Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.) Michael was the son of John and Margaretha Meder, who came over from Germany in 1837. His family tree, for what is known of it (his mother's side), is at:
http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/ 21505246/family?cfpid=18725543453
She subsequently married Oscar Allen Willard sometime between 1880 and 1882 and had 10 children by him, 8 of whom survived to make it onto census records. The identity of the two who did not survive to census time (one who died before 1900, and the other who died between 1900 and 1910). William Edward Meders' mother and 7 of his half-siblings were alive when he died in 1943.
A framework for his family is at: http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/2150 5246/person/19142022835

(Courtesy of Terry Craig)
Posted April 14, 2012


June 29, 2010 
From Ireland to Allegany, a family reunites
Distant cousins come together to tour Lonaconing, county
Kristin Harty Barkley
 Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Shawn McGreevy couldn’t stop the tears as the bagpipers played “Amazing Grace.”
With about 25 members of her extended family — including three cousins from Ireland — she stood near the Celtic cross at Canal Place on Tuesday morning, marveling at the miracle of their gathering. “Over the generations we were lost to one another, and yet today, we gather here, standing together as one grand family,” said McGreevy, a native of Barton who organized a reunion of descendents of the Connolly family, of Lonaconing.
“We proudly bear many names, but at our core we are the Connollys,” said McGreevy, who lives in Wilmington, N.C. “We are Irish. We are American. We are connected.”
Up until a few years ago, most of those who gathered Tuesday knew only a little of their family’s story.
In the 1800s, John Connolly and his four sisters lived on a family farm in County Galway, Ireland. But like many Irish who fled the country after the potato famine of the 1840s, the four Connolly sisters emigrated to America in 1864, settling in Lonaconing, said McGreevy, who has conducted extensive research of her family’s genealogy. A few years ago, McGreevy was able to track down two granddaughters of John Connolly in Ireland. Anne Trowell and Peggy Kelly grew up — and still live on — the same family farm in Galway where Connolly and his four sisters grew up. Trowell and Kelly arrived in Allegany County on Monday to see for the first time the place where their grandfather’s four sisters raised their families. “It’s absolutely beautiful — the mountains, the trees,” said Peggy Kelly, who remembers hearing stories about places in America called “Allegany County” and “Lonaconing,” but had never connected with family here. McGreevy, who first located and contacted her third cousins in Ireland about three years ago, has visited them there three times. “It’s so amazing all the things that came together for us to find them and for them to know about us,” McGreevy said. “Because their grandfather lived with them, and he told the story. Irish people tell the story. He told them the names ‘Allegany County’ and ‘Lonaconing.’ So when we found them, they were like, ‘Oh dear God, it’s you. Lonaconing ... we’re going to Lonaconing.’ ”Around 50 descendents of John Connolly and the four Connolly sisters met at the Knights of Columbus Tuesday night for a party. This morning, they planned to gather at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lonaconing for a short service, then a tour of town. Figuring out precise blood relationships at Tuesday morning’s reunion was complicated; most had never met.
“What are we, second cousins?” Teddie Bridges, of Herndon, Va., asked Anne Trowell, one of the cousins from Ireland, during Tuesday morning’s
get-together at the Celtic cross.
“I don’t know, “ Trowell said.
“We’re second cousins twice removed,” said Mary Ann Houser, of Keyser, W.Va.,who is a great-great granddaughter of Mary Connolly. The reunion meant a lot to Houser, who grew up with a strong sense of family heritage. “Oh, dear Lord, it just completes the whole picture,” Houser said. “All we’ve done is yap. We stayed up till 1:15 this morning. ... It’s just so neat to find the similarities in the families.”
Cumberland Times-News, June 29, 2010
Contact Kristin Harty Barkley at




Shawn McGreevy's Story of Meeting Her Irish Connolly Family

First appeared in "Allegany Magazine" (Aug./Sept. 2010)

(With permission of the author, Shawn McGreevy)









Welcome Home!


Recently, I was able to get in touch with my kin after 37 years. My Father was adopted out at birth, and through the genealogy site (OurBrickWalls.com) , I was able to get in contact with my Father's biological family as far south as Mississippi, west as Colorado, and East as Maryland. I have gotten to talk and write to kin I never knew of before my find. I thought it to be a good idea to have an update post of my situation and others who has had the opportunity to find kin. Thank you.

Eric Householder, June 30, 2010


"Hello Genie,

It all started back in 2000 or around that time. I always knew my Father was adopted, but never knew of any Family. I lived in East Liverpool, Ohio around the age of 15-16 years of age. Dad had called me one time and had told me he had found out, not sure how, of his real Uncle, living only a few minute walk from my home, my Parents had got a Divorce when I was at a young age, so I resided with my mother. I'm not sure of how he found his Uncle, but I had the chance of meeting him. His name was Charlie Bittinger, my Fathers' Mothers' Brother. Dad had found out that he had two Brothers, Jimmy Wilhelm and Gilbert Bittinger, still living at that time. And A Sister, named Faye Jean, last name unknown. Uncle Charlie had given Dad some imformation on some phone numbers of kin, and also had gotten to meet another Uncle and Aunt, George and Gladys. Anyhow, back in 2000, I got online on a site to find family, they wanted to charge alot of money, I thought it was all a gimmick. I never persued it any farther. I purchased a new laptop awhile ago, sat down and started looking around again. I ran across a geneology site and they had a free trial offer, so I tried it out. I had originally posted a letter of all the information that I had knew of such as Dad being born in Garrett County, Grantsville, MD. in 1948, to a lady by the name of Anna Catherine Bittinger. Dad had siblings, Gilbert Bittinger, Jimmy Wilhelm, and Faye Jean ??. Then, it happened all so fast. I started to get emails from a lady named Carol, still unkown of what or who she is, and Phyllis, who also works with geneology; both are Angels from Heaven. I got imformation such as Family history of everyone in my Family, dating back to like a 5th generation. I once got an email from Carole. It had a list of names, telephone numbers, and even adresses. So, I sat down and typed a letter stating who I was, what I knew, and what I was in search of. About a week passed, I got a phone call from a Don Wilhelm from Mississippi. He says that I received your letter, and had talked to my Sister in Maryland, and she remembers your Dad. I was surprised, finally a break after all this time. I have had the opportunity to meet with a couple, and also talk on the phone with some others. One of Don's Sisters, Dorothy Wilhelm Lape, has claimed that her mother had told her in the past, that her father Herman, had an affair with my Grandmother Anna, who was her mothers sister, and Dad, Jimmy and Faye Jean belonged to him. Jimmy later changed his name from Bittinger to Wilhelm. Dorothy claims that Dad and her are half brother and sister. I guess the only way to tell is DNA testing. Either way, we are related. Dad went last year to Maryland for a reunion, and got to meet alot of our Family. He said it was a dream come true. He was adopted, or from what I've heard, maybe even stolen, at the age of 6 months old. My known Grandmother, who raised him, took him to a reunion in Md. around the age of 6-7 years old, that was the last time Dad had been there. We know that his brothers Jimmy and Gilbert have passed on, but we are still trying to find imformation about his sister, Faye Jean. We have been told that she was raised by her Aunt Florie, in Rochester, NY. No one has any information of her. Don said he had taken his mother up to NY when Florie was ill and in the hospital, they asked where Faye Jean was, Florie never answered or was too ill, can't remember exactly what Don had said. To make a long story short though, a year and a half ago, I never knew of anyone, but now I have a huge Family in Md. Have even found some in Colorado and Mississippi. Thanks to Carole, Phyllis, and the geneology site. Thought it would be a good idea to have an update section on the site, in case someone else out there is looking for any information on their families. Like on the one site I was on, Rootsweb, it had very little for me to go on, but now, it could be a list from what I was able to get, maybe it would help the next person looking. I am still open and always looking for new family to meet and be in contact with. I want to know where I come from.

Take care and have a nice day."

Eric Householder, June 30, 2010

Sheryl Kelso, Phyllis Rosley, Ruth Sprowls and Carole (unknown surname) were instrumental in helping Eric find his family.