Rains the Prohibitionist (No, Really)

Perry M. Rains -> William Robert Rains -> William Stephen Rains -> William Harold Rains -> Molly Ann Rains -> Cody Nelson
— Relationship Chart
Wedding beer 

Wedding beer 

Beer and other fine spirits are not for everyone.  The Rains family, my corner of it anyway, has never shied away from it.  In most cases you could even say we have been responsible in our usage.  Grasshoppers on Christmas Eve (creme de menthe, creme de cacao), individual's choice on Buckeye Saturdays, a cold one around the campfire, a goodbye toast at the burial (and often a cooler in the funeral home parking lot).

As one on the inside I can't speak to the degree of appropriateness for any of this.  As a predominantly German-Irish (Catholic at times) family, it has always just been apart of us.  You could say I was surprised to find out that this hasn't always been the case.  Other lines of the Rains family may be a  bit stuffy as a comparison but you couldn't call any of them prohibitionist.

Meet my 3rd Great Grandfather, Perry M. Rains (1852-1917) of Ohio, Prohibitionist.  I came upon this new finding randomly searching old newspapers.

Perry M. Rains can be found near the bottom of this clipping.  Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) 24 June 1883

Perry M. Rains can be found near the bottom of this clipping. 

Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) 24 June 1883

It seems Perry was selected as the representative for Columbus on the Prohibitionist Council.  During this time period the Prohibitionist Party was growing very quickly and often putting it's own candidates up for election, if not backing a Republican or Democrat that aligned with their dry views.  Very little has come up yet as I have researched into the  Prohibitionist Council of Ohio and Perry M. Rains surprising place in it.  

Christopher L. Rains (1947-1968)

It is with some shame that I admit I know very little of Christopher Rains.  We share birthdays, albeit 39 years apart.  Growing up I had been told that we lost a family member in Vietnam but for one reason it never moved me to find out more.  The first step to correcting that is highlighting Christopher today.  Help me tell his story by commenting below, or sending your story to MeetYouinOhio@gmail.com.

Here is a link to the Vietnam Veterans Virtual Memorial Wall, http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/42199/CHRISTOPHER-L-RAINS .  It is a place to share the memory of those lost, even request a name rubbing from the wall.

Who Knew Jury Duty and Genealogy Were Made For Eachother?

It arrived in my mailbox on a Friday (intentionally).  A call to jury duty or more plainly a summons to my local municipal court.  This was my first opportunity to serve as a civil servant and with that came a great deal of anxiety, fear of new things.  I am nearing the end of my two week journey now and I have found that I had nothing fear.


 Doubts were had about whether or not the provided computers/internet capabilities would be up to the task of running Ancestry.com, Familysearch.com, etc.  To my surprise they have been able to handle my genealogy research (not every browser though, Chrome crashed on the 1870 Census three times).  It was a challenge at first to get back into my research, especially away from home and my tools.  The arrival of my daughter in February has made it harder to look back when everything is moving forward.  At the same time, when I find a relative of mine I in turn find a relative of hers.  An odd double satisfaction.


Jury duty is latin for waiting.  Waiting a lot.  It gave me ample time to dig back into my genealogy with few other options.  The starting point was one that I for one reason or another I hadn't looked at very often before.  Grace L. Stevens Nelson, my great grandmother on my father's father's side.  Grace was born on the 6th of October, 1891 in Lewiston, Maine.  She married George Augustine Nelson on the 17th of September, 1913, in Lewiston, Maine.  My grandfather, Paul Donald Nelson, was born six years later on the 25th of July, 1919, the fourth of seven children.


Grace is only ground zero for the research.  I had not collected any information on her parents parents, let alone them themselves.  Her father, Fred P. Stevens, was also born in Lewiston, March of 1859.  Fred spent his entire life in Lewiston employed as a machinist of one form or another.  Fred's first wife and Grace's mother, Mary Elizabeth McGraw.  Born eight months after Fred but still in Lewiston, in December of 1859.  Mary's parents have proven to be a challenge to find any trace of.  According to the 1900 US Census they were both from Ireland.  Fred and Mary were married in 1881, likely in the Lewiston area but unconfirmed.

Mary widowed Fred in 1905, she was 46 years old.  Fred remarried in 1913, marrying Ella Bolster McDonald.   


The parents of Fred P. were Joseph A. Stevens and Abbie A. Faunce (my 3rd great grandparents for those following along).  Joseph was born in Lewi...wait, Lowell, Massachusetts on the 1st of August, 1835.  Someone had to not be from Lewiston I suppose.  Lowell and Lewiston are roughly 131 miles apart but I have found that my Maine relatives often dip into Massachusetts and surrounding New England states for short, sometimes permanent stays.  Joseph, like his son after him, was a machinist.  He married Abbie A. Faunce in 1857.  They four children before Joseph died 1904.  He is buried in Lewiston.  Abbie lived until Christmas Eve of 1919, also buried in Lewiston.


That is a decent chunk of info, almost all found waiting to be put on a jury.  There is more too, as I found the parents for both Joseph A. Stevens and Abbie A. Faunce.  I am proud to serve when needed but it has been an extra benefit to find so many ancestors during this time.  Keep this is mind next time you are greeted with a summons to serve your civil duty.  Not only is it of great importance that you serve and help everyone have their day in court, you may also have the opportunity to dig into research that you would not have otherwise.  



One Wall Down, Another Rises In Its Place

A ten year research wall, one which I had been banging my head against without so much as a lead.  That wall now gone, the path to my family name and it's ancestors were waiting for me.  This will be easy now right?  Ancestors will be falling out of the sky like snowflakes too heavy to fly.  Right?  Or not I suppose.  I should have known, having researched for those ten years that any question to be answered in the world of genealogy could only be followed by more questions.  Hard questions, and the reality with it that said questions would not be guaranteed answers.

So the beginning then?  The beginning is my wish to know what the Nelsons were, who, when and where.  The initial wall was George Augustine Nelson, my paternal great grandfather.  The final reason that wall fell is in the story linked above, but the reason it stood for so long is many.  The ten years of research sounds more impressive than it is.  Year one of those ten is year one of my experience with genealogy altogether.  Add to that the slow addition of even basic records to digital form, my off and on again commitment to genealogy as a teenager at the time, and finally what can seem like simple things now that I've learned over that time.

Meet the new wall, George Scott Nelson and Margaret W. Nelson (Hassett)

At first glance, not much of a wall.  Three out of four parents I feel pretty good about, still working on Mary E and her proper maiden name.  The real wall is George and Margaret after the birth of Francis in 1903.  They never clearly appear on a document I have found after that.

One of the first records I found for Margaret was a private user story on Ancestry titled, "Margaret Hassett Nelson Missing".  The user did not respond to my pleas for even a private glance at the article.  For all I knew, Margaret went missing and never showed up again.  I scoured digital archives of the Lewiston Sun Journal for what seemed like days.  Finally I found an article, "ONLY A PIPE DREAM",  printed the 4th of December, 1901.  I have not yet found how the rumor started but a yet to be found article in the Portland Sunday Times  reported "Mrs. Nelson" missing.  The local paper made it my 2nd great grandmother's home, where she quickly quieted the rumor, stated that she had merely gone to Boston to see her husband who was in the navy there (my great grandfather, George, who I have yet to confirm such service.

At that point in my research I had very little to show.  George Nelson, or at any rate some George Nelson, appeared on several US census in the New England area.  Below is an example of one I found for 1910, Boston.  No age, and he is crossed out...and maybe a female with him?  I don't know enough yet on how lodgers were usually treated in censuses.

That's the best I can do for George at the moment.  Margaret is another story.  Margaret can be found on the 1910 census as a house keeper in Boston for a Mr. William Mcallister, along with three of her sons, John Andrew Nelson, George S. Nelson Jr and Francis Nelson.  All ages and stated births of parents being appropriate.  Margaret states being married, and correctly for 20 years.  Her oddity, having birthed three children with three still alive.  Yet in the 1900 US census (with George) she has three sons, George A., John A. and 7 month old Eugene....who should be the fourth child not listed in 1910.  On top of that, in 1900, she states four birthed, three alive?  So should 1910 read "5/3"?  I know to not expect the truth in all cases but my ancestors were better than that...right?

Okay, still there?  Those that remain at the end will get a gold sticker (a comment gets you two!).  The 1920 US Census.  

What's this?  Margaret is still a house keeper just not the house keeper but the wife of Mr. William J. Mcallister.  Francis appears to have switched last names as well as have his father's birthplace to Massachusetts, rather than George's Maine (Daughter Violet was in the 1910 census as just William's).  I've had no luck finding the Mcallisters after this.  Any of them.  Francis is a ghost too, Nelson or Mcallister.

This is were it truly goes cold for me, George, and Margaret.  I still have a lot of digging to do, newspapers to read, City Directories to sort through.  The process of filling out the lives of George and Margaret's children has been underway for a few days...hoping that something will lead me back to one of the them, regardless of the ending.



My Most Emotional Find

Brendon Patrick Deasey, my cousin, born two months apart.  Brendon falls on the Nelson side of my family, along with his mother, Mary and cousins Steve and Brian.  For awhile when we were young there were Nelson holiday gatherings.  I am quiet and reserved now...then I was nearly mute.  Getting to know my cousins wasn't something I was socially capable of doing at six years old.  The Nelson holidays stopped, possibly partly because Grandparents left the bustling city of Columbus and moved to the rolling, quiet hills of Burr Oak.  More likely it was because everyone got older and busier, a bad reason, but not unlikely either.

I saw Brendon less than a handful of times after childhood.  This April 10th will five years since day we lost him.  Being both family and close in age made the loss one I still don't understand.  I don't know that I can explain the feeling I had the last time I saw him.  It was one of the few Mother's Days that we celebrated with our shared Grandmother.  We were both older, certainly out of school or at least close.  I can say this, I wanted to know him after that, befriend the cousin I hadn't after a decade plus sharing the earth.  If he smiled, you smiled (believe it or not, most Nelsons have this trait)

Genealogy...the research of my family, where, when and who have they been?  I wanted to know what it meant to be Nelson.  My Mother was a Rains, many of my cousins were too.  I knew what that was, what it looked like.  If you were a Rains, you were (what we thought) Irish, some German, you could tell a good joke, tailgated at funerals, were a sibling of eleven or related to one and we all missed Big Bill even the ones that were born a decade too late.

I always wanted to be that, Rains.  A lot of that is just being a kid and not knowing how to fit in...or that you don't have too.  So I have been proud to be a Nelson, even if I haven't always had a good guess at what that meant.  Don't take that the wrong way.  I love my Dad, I love being a Nelson.  But I have always yearned for the path that led to what a Nelson was.

I started amateurishly searching for ancestors of Nelson past over 10 years ago.  Since then I have gained many tools, know what particular cracks to take an extra peek into, can recognize a misspelled name before I know its misspelled, looking the same record again every so often usually leads to something new (I still don't know how!).  My grandfather, Paul Donald Nelson was born in Maine and so that is where my digital hunt began.  After 10 years of off and on again research I had his dad, my great grandfather, George Augustine Nelson and his  dad, just George S.  No leads, No more cracks to check, just the worst feeling in research.  The Wall.

Don't worry, this is where I tie it altogether.  The last few months, whenever I have messed around with my family tree (740 people, 500+ records) I could feel the work I had done 6, 8, 10 years before staring me in the face.  So I started over, beginning with the Nelson line.

Last night with my tree in front of me I realized that I had many of my cousins missing from version 2.0.  The first that I added was Brendon.  Wanting to add a picture as well, I headed to the internet.  What I found was a legacy.com page/guestbook that seemed to be waiting for me.  I wrote down what I wanted to say to Brendon, at least what I had been able too at the moment, ending with a request for him to bother our Great Grandfather, George Augustine, to drop me some hints on the Nelson line that has plagued me for over 10 years.

Less than 24 hours later, I now know that my 2nd Great Grandfather's middle initial S, stood for Scott.  Shortly after that I found George Scott Nelson on a 1880 US census in Winsow, Maine.  His father, Eugene F. Nelson.  This is information that I have been looking for for over a decade.  It doesn't tell what it means to be a Nelson (It was always right in front of me), it doesn't tell me everything about the Nelson's.  But I now know that my family name goes back to Maine at least 1836.  I haven't had a chance to dig into Eugene yet, or his wife Lizzy.  Wrapping my mind around the gift my cousin has given me is too much.  In all honesty, finding a relative like this moves me to began with...getting Brendon's help is near life changing.

Thank you Brendon

The Troubled Uncle

Consider this post a needed one. A few nights ago, still stuck on the disappearance of George and Margaret Nelson, I started digging into one of George's brothers, Alton Roberts Nelson. Extraordinary isn't the word to explain Alton's life, maybe more like commitmentphobic? I am at the point where I need to write his story down before I can move on...

Alton Roberts Nelson was born in Maine, likely in Lewiston, around 1872.  It is not uncommon among our ancestors but I'm not sure my second great granduncle Alton liked telling the truth about his age.  As we travel his footsteps, even when he is not in direct contact with a document his age is like an old wooden roller coaster, bumping about whichever way it pleases.  His parents were Eugene Frank Nelson (b. 1836, Maine) and Mary E. Pollard (b. 1846, Maine).  So far his only two siblings were Frank Eugene Nelson (b.1862, Maine) and my second great grandfather, George Scott Nelson (b. 1868, Waterville, Maine).  

Alton first makes his documented appearance in the 1880 US census, Winslow, Maine and at first glance everything looks as it should.  Being an 8 year old boy, you would think to find Alton at school.   Closer inspection shows that Alton was idiotic and  maimed, crippled, bed ridden, or otherwise disabled.  This is were I as a genealogist made a mistake.  Alton, being the first of my ancestors that I've researched to have such problems...I didn't even notice until preparing for this post.  Practically a slap in the face, the post had a much different title.  Another lesson learned.  The rest of our travels with Alton with need to be viewed within such afflictions in mind.

13th of February, 1891, Alton married Marion Garland, also of Maine.  Having only recovered a transcribed version of their marriage record, the only other bit of information was the location, Lewiston, Maine.  It is hard to say what kind of shape Alton is in at this point in his life.  He wasn't put into an asylum and has gotten married.  More information that points to his ability to be a productive citizen, the 10th of April, 1893 his daughter Inez Myrtle Nelson was born in Biddeford, Maine.  From that record we can now see that he has become a shoemaker.  Shoemaker as an occupation for the Nelson family, or anyone living in Lewiston at that time, was very common.

There is a chance Marion passed during childbirth with Alton's life taking its first unexplained turn.  The family of three doesn't show up again until the 1900 US census and not together.  Marion is dead, forgotten or ran away.  She is a ghost now.  Inez is living with her Uncle and Aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Chester Davis of Biddeford, Maine.  One door down from Inez is her maternal grandparents, Franklin and Olive Garland (Inez was transcribed as Greg Enlson AND as Chester Davis's sister-in-law in this census).  Uncle Alton you ask?  Well our ancestor is now living in St. Louis, Missouri.  A little early for the 1904 Olympics I think.  He has been married to Emma Janson since 1894 (10 years his younger).  They have a son Oscar Walter Nelson (b. 1895, St. Louis).  This family of three is living with Emma's mother at time of the 1900 census.  This will be Alton's longest marriage.  I'm guessing that Alton was still around for the  1904 Olympics but I have not proved it yet. (Side note- Alton could read and write at this time)

The 1910 US census does not come with as many surprises but surprises still.  Inez Nelson is now living with her Grandparents mentioned before.  Emma and Oscar are still with Grandma Emilia Janson, in St. Louis.  Alton, as you probably guessed, in 1910 is in the Queen City, Cincinnati, Ohio, shoe-making.  The one detail that concerns me here, Emma is now divorced, Alton is married?  The factors of Alton's disability and his track record.  Is he lying and divorced?  Or married to someone new, as is his habit.  

1913 is the last time we see Alton in Cincinnati, it hard to say how long he stayed.  1913 is also the year Inez Myrtle Nelson marries John Powers of Massachusetts.  It then gets even more thin as far as information goes.  I'm fairly certain Emma Janson is dead by 1920, have lost track of Oscar Walter Nelson.  Inez and John Powers have three sons.  Alton doesn't show again until 1923, in Canada.

Ontario, Canada, the 13th of March, 1923.  Alton is at least 50, although claiming to be 46 on this marriage record.  The record that gave me what I wanted.  Alton's mother's maiden name confirmation, Mary Pollard.  I could have stopped there.  You don't do genealogy and leave such a trail without at least some answers.  Especially when Alton's bride that day was Dorothy (Dora) Beatrice Mumford of New York, age 18.  46 to 18 is bad enough but as I researched it got worse.  Following Dora's family from New York, then to Canada (her father having passed), the more I saw the more the wedding appeared to make sense.  Dora wasn't 18 in 1923.  At best she was 16.  I have found her in 4 different census records, US, New York and Canada.  The earliest birth year is 1907, most say 1908.  Their daughter, Alice will be born in 1923 sometime there after.  Much like Marion Garland, I don't think Dora survived the pregnancy, as the shreds of what I can find point to her dying  about the same time as Alice's birth, which happened in Illinois?  No answer for that as of yet.

1930 census is where my time Alton goes cold.  He is living in Randolph, Massachusetts with his daughter Alice, and his most recent mother-in-law, Clara Mumford and her son Norman.  The last I have on any of Alton or his family is Alice's marriage record to Joseph Serlenga in New Hampshire 1945.  It's recorded that Alton is dead, at 52, in 1945.  Off his original birth year, that would be 1924.  But he made it at least until 1930, where with his org. birth year he would be 58.  If Alice was to go off of his marriage record (1877, instead of 1872) that would mean he would be 52 in 1929...almost 1930.  Dizzy yet?  I can best assume that he passed shortly after the April 1930 census.  There is a chance Alice is still with us today although unlikely that she knows anymore about Alton than I do.

Alton is one of my first relatives to truly show so much through so few records.  And it may be not a lot of specifics, but if you follow his path and think as any human would, you will find that his path was a hard one.  The context here is what hurts.  What was pushing him travel and marry like none of my ancestors I've researched before?  How real and tragicwas his disabilities?  Was a good guy?  Was he ever a parent to the 3 children he had during his time here?  I don't have all the answers and some are unfair to even ask.  Alton wasn't my second great grandfather's only brother.  Who knows where Frank Eugene Nelson may take me?

UPDATE - It did not take long to get some answers to Uncle Alton's travels.  The first response came from a member of Ancestry who I messaged regarding their tree.  It was one of those trees so large that you are unsure of where it starts and where it ends.  In this case, George's  relation to Alton was thin.  George's sister-in-law's grandmother was Inez (Nelson) Powers.  He did not have more information than that, and what I had already surpassed in my own research.  There was a family mystery though, Grandma Swan, an unknown to the family.

The second response I received was even better.  I added the post to Mainegenealogy.net, in hopes of getting more insight into my always troublesome Nelsons.  That I did not get.  But a user named Chris had found Marion after I lost her, after Alton left her.  She remarried in 1904 and was in Boston in 1920.  Thanks Chris!  

Oh, the marriage?  Marion (Garland) Nelson married a Mr. Charles F. Swan.  Thus solving the mystery of Grandma Swan, at least to some extent.  It hasn't solved any of my direct family questions yet but that was nearly as satisfying. 

PERRY M. RAINS (1852-1917)


For reference, Perry Rains was William H and Helen Marie's great grandfather.  Perry was the second son of Mansfield Rains and Loretta Montgomery, born on December 16th, 1852, most likely in central Ohio.  The first time we find Perry is in the 1860 census in Clinton Township (Franklin County) with his parents and siblings, Theodore (10), Mary (4) and Alice (2).  Mansfield spent most of his life doing odd jobs like house painting, I can only imagine things were never easy for our Rains of years past.

On February 27th, 1873 Perry married Katherine Karst of Columbus.  They would go on to have three children, William Robert, Gertie and Florence Rains.

Perry's occupations ranged from laborer, teamster and file cutter.  When I say file cutter I mean a metal file, the type you might use to saw off a crooked nail or such. 



Here are a some file cutters at work. Credit - https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14582725360/in/photostream/

Perry lived in several homes during his adult life, 214 McDowell, 469 W Rich, most among them.  Many of these homes did not survive the evolution and expansion of downtown Columbus.  Perry passed away a widow on January 17th, 1917 of a heart attack, he was 64.  There is still a lot to uncover about Perry M. Rains my 3rd great grandfather.  There is no known photo, birth certificate...hopefully I can get out to Greenlawn Cemetery and a photo of his tombstone.  Men like Perry make you appreciate the little things, the easiness of which we all live now.  Rest well Perry. 

Mansfield (Rains) the Painter

One of my first posts reference my 4th great grandfather, who happened to be a painter.  I can't rule out that he was the Michelangelo of mid 1800's central Ohio but he was likely just a simple painter of walls and such.  Mansfield Rains (1820/24-1906) certainly lived liked a starving artist.  Through city of Columbus directories, which all state him as a painter, I tracked him moving to a new address every year, sometimes twice. (a chunk of examples;  74 Maple, ?? Chestnut, 148 N High third floor, 21 N Lazelle, 182 East Town, East Walnut, 211 E Naghten, 149 S Fifth 3, 149 S Fifth 1, 79 E Spring, 480 S 6th...).  The thought of that makes you appreciate the walls and roof over your head, especially since those examples are from the later stages of Mansfield's life.  Mansfield is one of my dead ends from my four main surnames (is there a genealogy term for them?).  Mansfield is the last of the Rains (spelling probably changes), having never found him in his home state of Virginia.  My next project is to track him through Pinterest or Google Maps, with hopes that something visual will make something pop.


Record of Marriage, Mansfield Rains and Loretta Montgomery.

9th of April, 1844 Columbus, Ohio

Gramma's Meat Grinder and Bologna Salad Recipe




Over the years I have had my fair share of bologna salad on long car rides and fishing trips.  For my mother it was an everyday type occurrence.  Grinding your own meats, which has become popular again, was a modern marvel around the beginning of the 1900's.  My Gramma's version is a Universal meat grinder #2.




As you can see, it has ground it's fair share of meats (nothing more than bologna I believe).  I cleaned it up some, especially the parts that actually come into contact with the meat.  These became a common wedding gift of their day, which is why they remain so available today.  A simple Ebay search and you will find hundreds of them in relative good shape for less than $20.


Talking with my mother I found that we shared the same excitement for cranking them as children.  Odd but I guarantee that it holds true for today's youth as well.  I asked if she recalled Gramma ever using it for anything other than bologna salad..."maybe ham salad?", so it didn't see multiple types of uses.  At first glance it is just an old meat grinder but to me it is another opportunity to get closer, to understand those that are no longer with us.


The bologna salad recipe below is from my mother, which can't be much different if at all from my gramma's. Like many of the recipes I have tried to learn from her...there isn't one.  She has the ability to just throw things together almost from muscle memory while getting a consistent result every time.  With that said, below is my attempt at writing it down.  You could try to fancy the recipe up by adding some things, or higher quality ingredients...don't.  It isn't healthy and isn't very adult, which is why we all love it so.  My Gramma was not one to use spices or seasonings, even salt.  Between her, my grandfather and 11 children, getting something to please that many mouths was not easy, certainly not affordable.




1 pound chunk bologna (order at deli, not packaged slices)

3-4 heaving spoons of Miracle Whip (do not substitute)

4-5 hard boiled eggs

Tear or cut the bologna chunk into quarter sized pieces and slowly crank through meat grinder (you can probably get a similar result with a processor but I don't recommend it).



Run hard boiled eggs through grinder.  Transfer bologna and eggs to bowl if not already, add Miracle Whip and mix.

Set covered in fridge for at least an hour for best results.  Makes 6-8 sandwiches.

Editor's Note: Not everyone can handle bologna salad on car trips or boats, use with caution.

The (1st) Aunt Down the Street



My first childhood home was only a block or two from one of my father's childhood homes.  The area has fallen into hard times, even more so than when we moved nearly 20 years ago.  Every few years we drive by the old house, built in 1928.  We planted a small pine tree a year or so before we moved and it has become impressive over these past two decades.  Thinking back on that time as someone who now has a deep invested interest in genealogy my thoughts go to my great grand aunt Nelly.  Nellie (Essex) Borror lived several houses down on the same street.  We often visited, or at least to a 5-6 year old it felt often.  Aunt Nelly collected things.  Not in a hoarder sense but the Essex line of my line family certainly has trouble letting things go.  My sister and I often came home with plastic figures of some kind, small California Raisins figures, clown coin banks, to name a few.


I never knew much about Aunt Nelly other than that her name was my father's nickname.  I hope to change that soon.  I have already heard of her confrontational relationship with her once husband, Harry Borror, a influential construction/real estate man in Columbus and the death of their only son, Rollin Borror, at the age of 19 in a auto accident.


Nellie was the scribe behind many of the family notes I have.  With that in mind I hope that it isn't too late to find out more about her and her story.


Dolores (Mender) Nelson, [Child], Ronald (Rollin) Borror, Nellie (Essex) Borror, Mary (May?) ???? and Edna (Essex) Mender....Grandmother, Great Uncle, Great Grand Aunt, ?? and Great Grand Mother

Gramma's Spaghetti Sauce (or so I thought)


Spaghetti sauce, it is similar to meatloaf or potato salad, everyone has a recipe.  The only spaghetti sauce I had growing up was my grandmother's.  Written on recipe cards as "Gramma's Spaghetti Sauce", one was left to assume it was her creation.  Childhood twists and turns such thoughts, building up that person in the best of ways.  I'm not implying that is bad either, in most circumstances they deserve it.  The origin story of the recipe is still a shadow.  My mother and aunts have said it was from an Italian woman that was a mother of my grandmother's friend.  When I first heard this I thought it would be disappointing to find out it wasn't original.  The fact that it is from someone with Italian roots, if not Italy itself, made it even more interesting.


As for the recipe itself, it is incredibly simple, flexible and freezable.  It is my guess that the recipe I have is adapted in some way.  Being the mother of eleven sometimes called for shortcuts and methods that extended original recipes.  For instance, the recipe calls for liquid garlic.    My guess is that fresh garlic was expensive at the time (1960-75?, If you have a good resource for the price of foods over the decades, share it here, or in the comments below).


Below you will find the original and the recipe I use that has been adapted only slightly (Gramma would add water as needed to stretch the recipe. My mother usually leaves water out all together)





  • two small cans, tomato paste
  • eight small cans of water (fill the tomato paste cans)
  • one large can of tomato sauce
  • two tablespoons of butter
  • two tablespoons white sugar
  • one tablespoon oregano
  • two teaspoon liquid garlic
  • one tablespoon minced onion (dry)
  • salt and pepper as needed

Combine in a large pot and simmer for 2.5-3 hours


  • two pounds hamburger
  • one tablespoon celery salt
  • one tablespoon onion salt
  • one tablespoon garlic salt
  • two eggs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • two sleeves of crackers (one in mix, other to roll in)

Add meatballs to sauce at 1.5 in


  • two small cans of tomato paste
  • one large can of tomato sauce
  • one large can of water (fill tomato sauce can, you can add more water to increase servings.  If you add more than two cans of water, double other ingredients and so on)
  • two tablespoons of butter
  • two tablespoons white sugar
  • one tablespoon oregano
  • two teaspoon liquid garlic (you can substitute two cloves of garlic)
  • one tablespoon of dry minced onion
  • salt and pepper as needed

Combine in a large pot for 2.5-3 hours


  • one pound ground beef 85% or below
  • one pound ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoons onion salt
  • two eggs
  • two tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • two sleeves of Zesta brand crackers (use another brand at your own risk)

Combine all ingredients through cheese into a large bowl.  Break one sleeve of Zesta crackers into pieces, add to the bowl.  Ground the second sleeve of crackers into a sand type crumb, place into another rounded bowl.  Roll the meat ingredients into balls, then coat in crackers, then into the spaghetti sauce after the sauce has been on for 1.5 hours.


  • We always double or even triple the recipe and freeze it.  I can't explain it, but it is always better the second time
  • cover pot with a strainer or be prepared to clean spaghetti sauce up...everywhere
  • The longer it cooks, the better.  It is perfect for Sundays.  Start it around noon, eat at six.
  • Avoid a crockpot.  The sauce will be watery and if it cooks at too high of a temp, can end up with a slight barbecue taste 

Eating with my Ancestors: Schmidt's Sausage Haus and Restaurant


Schmidt's Sausage Haus and Restaurant is a Columbus staple, and in my opinion, a treasure. It originated as J. Fred Schmidt's Meat Packing House in 1886.  Schmidt had moved to south Columbus from Germany in the 1880s.  The restaurant is in the heart of German Village, a historic neighborhood of Columbus that was home to the large German population.  The golden era began in the mid 1800s, running up until World War I. 


All of this only reminds how much more research I still have to do on my German roots here locally.  My German surnames in Columbus date back to 1849.  The surnames are Gatterdam, Hartung, Karst and Eberts.  


The Hartung's home on Third Street.  They resided there around 1900.

The Hartung's home on Third Street is a six minute walk away from Schmidts (0.3 miles).  German Village as it stands today is a must see but I can only imagine what it was like in it's glory days.  Here is a quote from the local newspaper in 1855, "Der Westbote", from the German Village Society

"The people who live in these small houses work very hard. You will not find silver on the doors, but you will find many little gardens which produce vegetables for the city’s market. You will not find silk or other very expensive things; but the houses are very clean, the people work hard, and are very healthy, and they are very happy.”

 The most recent trip to Schmidt's has been the first with my more realized German heritage.  The small brick roads and modest size houses try to take you back to the late 1800s.  The restaurant itself opened in 1967, with the building seemingly much older (in a good way).  Parking can be a nightmare but you will be rewarded.  The waiting staff are dressed in traditional garb, blending in with the decor of the restaurant. Normally Guinness is my first choice but I felt like it would make more sense to go with the house dark, Schmidt's Dark. Whether you are new to Schmidt's or a veteran, you can't go wrong with the "German Autobahn Buffett".


My second plate

My plate(s) included their Bahama Mama (I make sure to get one whenever I see one of their tents at the fair or other such events), German Knockwurst, Garlic Knockwurst, Green Beans und Spatzel, German Sweet Kraut and my favorite that I avoided ignorantly for years, German Potato Salad.


Yes, you will want some dessert but get it to go so you can enjoy it later.  Their desserts are so good that they deserve to be enjoyed separately.  They are best known for their cream puffs but I think the real star is the Banana Cream Pie.  



My mother has received a  Banana Cream Pie from Schimdt's from my father for her birthday for as long as I can remember.  That is probably one of the reasons I had a sentimental feeling for Schmidt's even before I knew how German I was.  

If you find yourself in Columbus, or just passing through, don't make the mistake of not going to Schmidt's.  German Village is a historic neighborhood that is modernly functional and Schmidt's Sausage Haus and Restaurant is the cornerstone.


Schmidt's Sausage Haus and Restaurant

German Village Society

Finding an Origin Country: Switzerland

Swiss in New York, 4th of July Parade (Library of Congress)

Long before I ever started researching my family or even knew the term genealogy, I was inquisitive about where my ancestors came from.  One of the longest lasting uncertainties had always been my paternal grandmother's maiden name, Mender.  We knew it was Mender, the question was where the Menders had come from.  Due to the nature of my shyness and/or the irregularity of visits to my father's parents I did not have the nerve to search farther until I got the genealogy bug.


I asked my father to ask my grandmother for any information they had a few years ago.  He brought home a photo copy of a Swiss passport.  At the time I hadn't realized what was in my hands.  I was excited but if that happened today I would be on a high for a week.



My 3rd great grandfather, John Mender (Jean Minger), Swiss Passport

I recently got around to trying to transcribe it.  I wasn't sure where to start, having no idea what language they used in Switzerland.  A quick Google search led to finding out German and French are the languages predominantly used.  After playing with Google translate a bit, it was clear that the document was in French.  I transcribed nearly 90%, with the rest being unclear due to either document clarity or user error, surprise!.  I have since skimmed a few books on calligraphy and plan on taking another look in the future.

 The name reads "Minger, Jean".  As I have a John Mender in my tree with an unconfirmed age match, I'm making some level of assumption that Jean Minger is John Mender.  It may not be iron clad, but with the document coming from family it is something I am comfortable with.  The passport reads that John was 24 at the time of this document, 1840.  He had brown hair, eyes, beard and a long face.  I believe the name of his boat is on here but that was one of the rough parts of the transcription.  

I have since tried to find John in Switzerland with the help of the Register of Swiss Surnames , owned by the foundation HDS, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.  No luck as of 21-01-2014, but I am motivated by the Swiss brick wall in front of me.

My Own Genealogical Treasure Chest

Dolores (Mender) Nelson

My paternal grandmother, Dolores Nellie Mender turned 90 on the 13th of November 2013.  She is still well for a women of 90 and a collector of things.  After a recent visit and interview, she gave me permission to take home whatever books and photos I may find.  Needless to say, I now possess the main collection of Mender/Nelson family photos. Also retrieved-

  • three volumes of History of Ohio by C.B. Galbreath .  I have yet to look them over again (they need care and cleaning before entering the house), but I believe them to be part of the original five volume set (1925), or the set from 1928. 
  • Enough documents and photos to write a book about Wilbur "Dike" Mender (1911-2008).  WWII veteran, columnist, troop leader and former mayor of Nelsonville, Ohio (Dolores eldest brother, never married)
  • A very old book/collection regarding Nelsonville during the Civil War.  No background found as of 13 Jan 2014
  • Dolores father, Earl Donald Mender (1889-1979) left behind an entire datebook from 1941.  It appears as though he was very detailed.
  • Several other books and photos!

The ride home was borderline overwhelming as someone who has only had digital and copies of original documents up to this point.  Add on top of that, this side of the family has not been shared very well.  My dream for this collection, and my research of my families in general, is to preserve, protect and share.  Once it is all properly cleaned and documented I plan to offer the originals to those that are my elder (it will be no burden to hold to such things either).

Wish me luck and even advice for this morning as I am more amateur archivist/care taker than family historian.  

Why family history matters to me

(Originally posted on January 6th, 2014)

Rains family, William H Rains is the first child on the left

Family history has always held an interest for me in varying degrees as long as I can remember.  The beginning of that interest sits squarely on my hope as a child to have a real related connection to Ireland.  I can't tell you what it was about the Irish that spoke to me as 7-8 year old boy.  My mother always said we were "some" Irish?  I can promise it wasn't Lucky Charms, never a fan.  It  is something deep, something that has escaped me in description.  The one surety I know,  it moves me like nothing else.

During the "Walkman", "TMNT" days of the early '90s, even as a small child, I wanted proof of that relation.  I would argue with other kids during recesses in March that I was more Irish than them.  Precarious as that may have been, I believed it with every fiber.  I began genealogical research on my family names in 2006.  Nearly eight years later I have learned a great deal more than I could have ever imagined.  The Irish connection I had wanted so dearly to be confirmed was found in John J. Ryan, b. 1873, Ireland.  To my own surprise there has been a surplus of German ancestors, Swiss, English and even a couple from Wales.  While this hasn't lessened my connection to Erin, it certainly made me rethink why I have continued to research after finding the connection I wanted.

In a lot of ways, my reasons for continued research are completely different, unforeseen from the onset.  The more ancestors I add to the tree, the more I want to know about those not so long gone.  My maternal grandfather, William Harold Rains, left this world the 4th of August, 1989.  Growing up, you hear many stories about "Big Bill", often finished with, "I wish he was still around, he would have loved you guys".  Three and a half years old at the time I have the foggiest of one memory with my grandfather.  He and I were on the side of his home, practicing our golf swings.  Bill, with his proper golf clubs, me with my blue plastic little tikes golf clubs.  As soon as I can remember the memory starting, it ends with Bill's friend and daughter's father-in-law, Ralph Montenaro pulling up to house.  I'm assuming they were about to go to a golf course, but very little of it remains clear to me.  

I find myself thinking most often of him, and my other grandparents during my research.  I was only ever close with one of my four grandparents, and trying to find their stories and those of their ancestors pushes me forward.  It has brought me to a place where I now consider myself a collector, a protector, or most properly, a care taker of the family history that is connected to so many people, be it Nelson, Mender, Rains or Eberts.