Military Monday – John L Gamble Deposition A, Part 1

The Pension Questionnaire completed by John L Gamble outlined the family he had with his wife.  The first page of his Deposition A given 15 October 1900 outlines the family he was born into.

Here is a transcription of the first page of the deposition:

My full and correct name is John L. Gamble. The initial
“L” does not stand for any name, but I use it in order to dis-
tinguish myself from other John Gambles.

My parents were John Gamble, and Barbara, maiden name
Frick. Father lives, mother is dead. Father is now stopping
with me. He is 84 yrs.old, and when at home, resides in Butler,
Butler Co., Pa.

I was born May 9″, 1839. I have two brothers and three sisters living, as follows:-
Samuel Gamble, J.P., at New Kensington, Westmoreland Co., Pa, 63 yrs.
Michael F. Gamble, merchant, Ponca, Dixon Co., Nebraska, about 45 yrs. old.
Mrs, Mattie, widow (?) Johnson, Butler, Butler Co., Pa., about 52 yrs.
Mrs. Mollie, widow John Albrant, Jamestown, Chautauqua Co., N.Y., 48 yrs.
Mrs. Lydia, wife Elmer Yarger, oil-well-driller, Butler, Pa. 38 yrs. old.

I was born in Armstrong Co., Pa., near Worthington, May 9″,
1839, on a farm. When I was about three yrs. old, my parents moved
to Butler Co. , Pa. about 4 miles S.E. of Butler, Pa. Since then my
people have always lived in the vicinity of Butler town.

It is pretty awesome that in just two pages of information I was able to put together this descendant chart:

Gamble Decendants

Sunday’s Obituary – Alice L. (Wise) Gamble

Earlier this week I began detailing the information I found in the pension file of John L. Gamble.  You can read about click here to read about the information found in his pension questionnaire.

The questionnaire confirmed that his first wife, and my ancestor, was Alice Wise.  She is listed with the middle initial “J” in the questionnaire.  Other sources listed her with the middle initial “L”.

Another deposition given by John L Gamble states that:

I was married to Alice Wise in the fall of 1865 in Butler, Pa and she died about April 1887, and is buried in the graveyard at Pine Creek Church, 5 miles south of Butler, Pa. She has no grave-stone.  Undertaker Alexander Martin of Etna, Allegheny Co., Pa. , buried her, and her physician was Dr. (?) Purvis, dead.

John L. Gamble continues in the next paragraph that Alice must have died in 1886 because he married Margaret Thompson in 1887.

Using the Obituary Index at the Butler Area Public Library website, I was able to find Alice.  I sent off for Alice’s obituary and promptly received two in the mail.  There was both a death notice and short obituary in the paper on the same day but different pages:


GAMBLE – On March 12th, 1886, at her residence in Etna, Allegheny county , Pa., Alice L. wife of John L. Gamble, of pneumonia, aged 40 years.


Mrs.  A.L. Gamble, of Etna, Allegheny county, died of pneumonia on Friday last.  The remains were taken to the residence of her father, Mr. Daniel Wise, of Penn Township, this county, and on Sunday were interred in the church-yard at that place.

Democratic Herald, 19 March 1886, Page 2, Column 2 and Page 3, Column 2, Butler Area Public Library, Film #060.

Military Monday – John L Gamble Pension Questionnaire

A couple of months ago I wrote about going to the National Archives to find the military pension paperwork for my great-great-great grandfather, John L Gamble. (You can catch up here.)

Me to john gamble

As I looked at the incredible paperwork I kept it in the order I found it in the file.  One of the last items in the file was a standard form questionnaire filled out by John L Gamble.  It clearly identified his first wife and children including dates and places.  The biggest find in this document is that Alice Wise had been previously married.  The names of the children were confirmation of information previously found in census records.  Their dates of birth is new information.  The marriage information is also new to me.  I wonder who has the family bible?!

This is an image stitched together from my Flip Pal scans taken back in April.

John L Gamble Pension Questionnaire


Department of the Interior
Bureau of Pensions
Washington, D.C, January 2, 1915

SIR: Please answer, at your earliest convenience, the questions enumerated below. The information is requested for future use, and it may be of great value to your widow or children. Use the inclosed envelope, which requires no stamp.
Very respectfully,
xxxxxxxx (signature) Commissioner

John L. Gamble
2001 Perrysville Ave
N S Pillsbury Pa
No.1 Date and place of birth? Answer: John L Gamble born May 9 1839 Armstrong County Pa

The name of organizations in which you served? Answer: Company D 6 Pennsylvania V Heavy artillery

No.2 What was your post office at enlistment? Answer: Butler Butler County Pa

No.3 State your wife’s full name and her maiden name. Answer: Alice J Gamble Alice J Wise

No.4 When, where, and by whom were you married? Answer: November 14th 1865 in Butler Pa by Rev Stores

No.5 Is there any official or church record of your marriage? If so, Where? Answer: the record of our marriage is in our family bible

No.6 Were you previously married? if so, state the name of your former wife, the date of the marriage, and the date and place of her death or divorce. If there was more than one previous marriage, let your answer include all former wives. Answer: I was not Previously married

No.7 If your present wife was married before her marriage to you state the name of her former husband, the date of such marriage, and the date and place of his death or divorce, and state whether he ever rendered any miltary [sic] or naval service, and if so, give name of the organization in which he served. If she was married more than once before her marriage to you, let your answer include all former husbands. Answer: Yes James Meyers dont remember died in Pittsburgh. Don’t know the date he never rendered any military or naval service.

No.8 Are you living with your wife, or has there been a separation? Answer: yess [sic]

No.9 State the names and dates of birth of all your children, living or dead. Answer: Margaret Gamble Margaret Thompson
were married March 31 1887 in Etna Pa by Rev S McGuire

Samuel E Gamble born August 18 1866 living
Margaret C Gamble born October 30 1867 dead
Barbara E Gamble born February 14 1869 living
William B Gamble born August 18 1872 living
Ruth E Gamble born December 14 1875 dead
children of first wife

Date 6-14-1915
John L Gamble

Tombstone Tuesday – Pahoa Cemetery Update

Last week, I wrote a blog post about how the lava flow has covered the Pahoa Japanese Cemetery (you can read that here) in Hawaii County, Hawaii.  Today, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story about how one family’s tombstone was spared.

There is a wonderful photo of the Sato family headstone surrounded by black lava.  Aiko Sato visited the family plot before the lava arrived thinking it would be her last chance.  The family was surprised and grateful for a scientist who photographed the surviving headstone and contacted them.  There is a possibility of the headstone being taken by continued lava flows but for now it remains.

Check out the San Francisco Chronicle article here.

A Saturday Spent Listening

“I like to listen.  I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”  Ernest Hemingway

I am a true believer in continuing education.  It comes in all forms.  I want to learn more about data sets I have not tried using and how to be a more proficient researcher.  To accomplish this, I have spent two full days this Fall dedicated to learning more about genealogy research.  This past Saturday, I spent the day listening to Judy Russell and learning a lot!

Judy Russell presenting at the San Mateo Genealogical Society Fall Seminar

Judy Russell presenting at the San Mateo Genealogical Society Fall Seminar


Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, was the featured speaker at the San Mateo Genealogical Society‘s Fall Seminar.  She presented four topics during the day.  The first one was Where There Is Or Isn’t A Will.  I have many trips to the courthouse looking at probate records under my belt.  I still walked away from this presentation with ideas about how to look for female death dates from the husband’s estate being reopened after her death.

The second lecture, The Fair Court – Records of Chancery Courts, opened my eyes to a whole new data set.  During the lunch hour I jumped onto my tablet and used a link for Virginia records that Judy Russell had recommended. I identified 198 hits for Chancery Court records for the surname Strickler in Page County, Virginia.  I was so excited I introduced myself to Judy to tell her how thrilled I was and thank her for teaching me about these records.  A closer look shows that one of the cases was the executors of my 4th great-grandfather’s estate suing the estate of his brother, my 4th great-uncle.  The fight lasted 13 years in court.  Then the daughters of my 4th great-grandfather sued their brother, who was one of the co-executors and my 3rd great grandfather, for not paying them part of their inheritance after the first case was settled.  I will write more about these cases in the future.

The afternoon sessions included Polls, Personalty, and Property – Making Sense of Tax Lists.  This is a dataset that I have only dipped my toes into.  After listening to Judy speak, I am ready to dive into the deep end and immerse myself in tax lists for as many ancestors as I can.

The last session was From Blackstone to the Statutes at Large – How Knowing the Law Makes Us Better Genealogists.  My biggest take away was to understand the law WHEN and WHERE the record was created.  During the session, I was scribbling down ideas about how to use this in relation to my ancestors.  There are several places in my research I need to take a close look at the law to clarify what is the truth.

If you have the chance to see Judy Russell present in person, I highly recommend it.  Her excitement for all things genealogy and law is contagious.  There is also a very good chance you will walk away learning something new.

I also recommend, if you live in the Bay Area, to attend the Spring and Fall Seminars hosted by the San Mateo Genealogical Society.  They do a great job of bringing in quality speakers and run a well-organized, fun day.


Tombstone Tuesday – Hawaii Loses Cemetery To Lava Flow

Yesterday the Kilauea lava flow claimed another victim.  The Pahoa Japanese Cemetery was overrun by lava.  An article ran yesterday in the West Hawaii Today newspaper about the cemetery.  It can be read here.  There is a video attached to the news article showing the headstones engulfed by the lava.

Another great article about the cemetery appeared on Hawaii Public Radio at the end of September.  Click here to read about the history of the cemetery and see great photos of the cemetery before the lava flow reached it.  There are over 250 graves in the cemetery.  I was so happy to read that there is a map detailing all of the burials and their locations.

Hopefully, this information will be added to Find A Grave and/or Billion Graves to preserve for future generations who are researching their families.

This lava flows proves once again that you never know when or why genealogical records may disappear.  Have the cemeteries in your area been documented on Find A Grave or Billion Graves?

Finding Some Balance

Hi! I just wanted to let you know I am still here.  I have been having trouble finding some balance between my life (mom, wife, household Chief Operating Officer, etc.) and the rest of my life (genealogy, writing, and quilting) since school started.  I had no idea that my oldest going to elementary school would have such an impact on my life.

I am learning as I go.  I am loving spending more one on one time with my youngest.  I am not crazy about the daunting amount of paperwork and rules that come with school.  I love the changes I am making to make my house a home that reflects our family.  I am a little surprised to admit that I actually am enjoying waking up earlier and the schedule we are following.

To help right the balance issues, I have signed up for two upcoming workshops in the Bay Area.  First is the Digging For Your Roots Conference at the Concord Family History Center on October 18th.  Two weeks later I will be attending the Fall Seminar at the San Mateo Genealogical Society.  I am super excited because the seminar features Judy Russell.  I love her blog, The Legal Genealogist.

In the mean time, I have calendared some time to write a few blog posts.  Since I am not finding time naturally, it is time to make time.  See you again soon!

Tombstone Tuesday – William Henry Lawbaugh

Last week my family took a second trip to Southern California this summer.  Since we had visited my paternal grandfather’s grave on the last trip, I made a point to stop at my maternal grandfather’s grave this time around.  Even though I have driven past the area many times, I had never been to the cemetery before.

I am so happy we took the time to stop and pay our respects.  Not only did I get the chance to tell my children stories about their great-grandfather, I also took a picture to post to

Lawbaugh william gravestone


When we arrived at my grandmother’s house and I told her we had visited Bill’s grave, the stories started.  I learned my grandparents met when my grandpa was at X-Ray Technician school in Wichita, Kansas.  One of her friends in the dorm, Dee Dee, was dating a man who worked for my grandfather.  Dee Dee set them up.

The night of their first date my grandmother was very sick but decided to go out anyways.  She walked to the lobby of the dorm to meet my grandfather for the very first time.  When she saw him, her heart jumped into her throat.  The next morning the school called my great-grandmother to the school because my grandmother was so sick.  When my grandma woke up and saw her mother she said, “I met the man I am going to marry!” My great-grandmother thought it was just the illness talking but sure enough a year later my grandparents married.  The rest is history!

Pension File Treasure Trove

Earlier this year I spent one wonderful day at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  I spent the morning looking at land records.  The afternoon was devoted solely to The pension file of my paternal 3rd great grandfather John L Gamble.

Me to john gamble

I was super excited when I received the file.  It was much thicker than I expected.  The file included the original pension request from my g-g-g-grandfather, the additional paperwork from his wife to continue with a widow’s pension, and ending with the paperwork to close the file at her death.  To say it was AWESOME is an understatement.  I was in full genealogy geek out mode.  Imagine every library celebration except dancing in the aisles.

Among the gems I found was death information for my g-g-g-grandmother, Alice Wise, marriage information for John L Gamble and his second wife, Margaret Thompson, detailed information about where John Gamble lived his entire life, an outline of parents, siblings with their birth dates and marriages, and death information for both John L Gamble and Margaret Thompson.  Additionally, I learned about John L Gamble’s military service, the illness he fought in a military hospital, and injuries he received as a child.

This was the first pension file I have found in my family.  I see it as another record set to add to my researcher pedigree.  I highly recommend using military pension records if you have any ancestors who served.  The government was extremely good at verifying and documenting details.  If you do not have the chance to visit the National Archives for research, you can order a copy of your ancestor’s pension file at
The cost to order is $80.  This amount is small in comparison to travel costs to visit Washington, DC.

I plan on sharing the pension details for all of these genealogy gems over the next several months. Be on the lookout!

Tombstone Tuesday – Adela and Risveglio Capelli

Last week I wrote a post about finding the death certificates for my Grandfather’s cousins.  You can read their stories here and here.

This weekend I followed up and looked for the gravestones of the children on  Using the cemetery information from the death certificates, I quickly located both children and a photo of their shared grave.

Digital Camera, digital images (, accessed 14 July 2014, photograph by Randy Knight, gravestone for Adela Capelli (8 Set 1913 – 23 Nov 1916) and Risveglio Capelli (19 Agos 1911- 23 Nov 1916), Find A Grave memorial #66220248, Redstone Cemetery, Brownsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania. Used with permission from Randy Knight.


This photo helps to explain the conflict of first names I have found for the children. To recap, the newspaper article about their death the children are named Elma and Slavelli Cappelli.  The death certificates list the children as Adela Cofelli and Resveglio Copelli.  This tombstone names the children as Adela Capelli and Risveglio Capelli.

I have to believe that the names provided in the newspaper account were incorrect.  The journalist who wrote the story was on site at an active fire and surrounded by chaos.  It is easy to see that the names he acquired were close but incorrect.  I also think that language may have been a barrier.  I am not sure how much english my family spoke in 1916.  Even if they did, I am fairly confident that they spoke with a heavy accent.  My grandfather told me how his cousin, Mabel, would repeatedly tell her mother she needed to speak english as they were growing up.

The names provided to the Pennsylvania authorities and the gravestone are almost exactly the same.  I will be using the spelling used on the gravestones as the names listed in my genealogy software.  I will be sure to add a note for the other spellings.

The last time I was visiting my parents in Virginia, we spoke about visiting the Pittsburgh area for genealogy research the next time I visit.  Now we will be able to stop at the Redstone Cemetery to pay our respects to Adela and Risveglio.