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Meet My Cousin–Lura Brockett

Over the past few years I have spent a lot of time looking for information about my great, great, great grandmother Catharine Hoover.  (Catharine married Andrew Reilly.)  I have spent probably a hundred or more hours trying to locate her.  Her father, Daniel Hoover, married Polly Patton–who was born in Ohio in 1800.  I haven’t had a lot of luck, but Catharine’s mother–Polly–has left a few more bread crumbs on the trail.

Lura and Wendell Brockett, May 2008
Lura and Wendell Brockett, May 2008

I have found many shirt-tail relatives who were searching for Polly and other Pattons; and one (Gwen Boyer Bjiorkman) sent me a letter that she had received from a researcher named Lura Brockett.  It was helpful, but unfortunately Lura had moved from her Arizona home and I had no luck finding her.

As luck would have it though, one day we did connect through a forum.  We started emailing, and sharing information.  Linda and I took a trip back east in the spring of 2008, and our travels took us to within ten miles of where Lura and her husband Wendell live.  I called ahead, and they would be home.  This would be an interesting meeting.

After a few minutes of chit-chat, we finally got into our common interest–GENEALOGY.  We headed to Lura’s basement, where she has an incredible array of references, books, and tons of genealogical documents all arranged in neat, orderly binders.  She even has her own microfilm reader, and more microfilm than most libraries have.  WHAT A FIND!

We had a wonderful night getting to know Lura and Wendell; and know that we will be communicating for many years to come about our common ancestors.  After a little thought, I think we are first cousins, twice removed.  (Whatever that means.)  Anyway, we share a few genes, and a common interest, and are both driven by a love of history–and how our ancestors lived.

Lura had some great information on Illinois cemeteries, which Linda and I promtly went to and photographed.  If you have never “walked” a cemetery, you should give it a try.  It can be a deepling moving experience, sometimes emotional, and you can get a heck of a lot of excercise in the process.

We found Polly’s grave, and it was an emotional experience to imagine a procession of wagons pulled by horses, coming to the Mt. Carmel Church Cemetery near Shelbyville, Illinois.  I could imagine the sadness those attending felt, and I felt the happiness I was feeling because I finally found out what heppened to Polly.  That closes the chapter on Polly, but the book is still open on Catharine–and a hundred more aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

Incidentally, the Mount Carmel Church was a Methodist-Episcopal Church (ME), which during the 1880’s was closely linked to the development of the Brethren Church.  I am positive our Reilly/Riley family name originated in Germany, not Ireland as family tradition has it.  Everywhere I go I find ties to the Brethren, ME, Dunker, Quaker, Mennonite and Amish churches for members of our extended family; and one of these days I am going to make the connection.  I just know it.

How Do I Find Those Darn County Names

When entering genealogical data we are often given a city and a state for a location–and we usually know which country that city or state is in.  BUT, the standard genealogical format requires that four information fields be completed.     <City(or township), County, State, Country.>

How do we find what county these cities are located within?   Well…one way is to find a gazateer, either on line or a paper version–and look it up.  Or, you can call a friend.  Or, you can go to and if you can remember how to find their County Locator you will be able to find the location.  But, there is a much easier and faster way to do this–and it never fails.

On your computer, go to your Google toolbar and do a Google search.  Put in the name of the city, the name of the state, then type the word “county” –then hit <ENTER> OR <SEARCH>

Many hits will pop up as a result of your Google search, and when you briefly glance over the first two or three hits the county will jump out at you.  I would suggest you look at another hit to verify your results.  Counties can be located in as few as eight seconds. 

Now that ain’t bad!