google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Moment I Knew - Ellen's Story | The Armchair Genealogist

The Moment I Knew - Ellen's Story

Great Great Grandfather John Goodheart
I think I was born thinking about family history. There was a picture of a Civil War Cavalry officer on my maternal grandmother’s dining room wall. I knew that it was John Goodheart, my Great Great Grandfather. I also knew he was killed in the Civil War. As a five year old, who really did not understand death, the fact that he was killed did not matter much. It was the Civil War that really fascinated me. 

An elderly woman rented an apartment from my grandparents. I used to visit her every time I visited my grandparents. I asked her over and over again, “Are you sure you don’t remember the Civil War.” She told me over and over again that she was a tiny baby during that time. I kept hoping that she would remember something. I am sure she really did not appreciate my visits. 

John's wife Cate, with daughters
Josephine and Kate
I have inherited close to 100 letters written by the same soldier, who was on my grandmother’s wall all those years ago. The letters are mostly from him, but some from his wife, one from his 8 year old daughter, and several from friends to his wife, and one that he wrote to his mother when he was in the Mexican War in 1846. These are crowning jewels of my collection. I am struggling to scan and transcribe them all. In the process, I am falling in love with my Great Great Grandfather, John Goodheart. He was a very kind and loving man, who died way too young. I have an understanding of that part of my family that I could never have achieved any other way. I am posting this excerpt that was written in December of 1861.  

John was so excited to see them. Their eleven year old son had died a month before this letter was written and he was not able to go home, which broke his heart. The fact that they could come and stay with him for the winter helped him so much. They did come and went back home. They stayed from December until March.  

For you will have plenty time hear
Camp Caladonia Dec 13th 1861
Dear Cat

I receved A Leter from you to day which enformd me that you ware all well  I am Glad to hear that you are all well once more for hit sems as though you have not ben well all of you sence I left hom.  I Rote to you By Dilworth if you wanted to Com and Stay A while with me you Could and if you Do Com you had Better have your things that you Dont want to Bring with you tuck to the Pork house and Give the house that you Rented of Low up and the other one to.  I think when you want to Go Back we can find Some other house that will sut you mutch Beter you had Better Bring just what Clothing you and the Childrin wants  I think that I Can Keep you as cheep hear as I can thare and then we can be to Gether I think that we will Be kep hear all winter and then if we Dont I think hit will Do you Good to take a tramp and see how other folks live you now that we have not long to live in this world eny how and we mite as well be to gether when we can as not  
I have ben trying to Get an opertunity to com hom for som time But Cant so I hope you will Com and see me  Lutenit Tarre wife will Com with you and if She wants wants eny money you Can Let her have hit and he will pay me.  She nos the way and I think she will help you take care of the Childrin on your way Down hear  you will have to com by the way of the Cars for I would not risk By the River for fear that hit might frese up when you com you had better rap the Childrin well and not let them get cold.  I hope you will let me now A meditly if you are coming or not so that I can Be prepared to making you Cofertbell hear and if you are Coming you had Better Com Amedlty the suner the beter cause the suner you Get hear the longer we can Stay to Gether  I hant very well to Day  I have A very Bad Cold and I Can’t hardly set up But I hope I will Get Better Sune   nothing more at present But I hope you will have Good Luck and Get Through Safe.  You must Rite to me on this ReCepcon
                                                      Your afeciant husben

Get som Good person               John Goodheart
To take Care of you things
While you ar Gon

John Goodheart was not my only ancestor. My grandmother had many more family treasures in that house. There was the MacLean County Illinois County History, with a long story about John Goodheart’s father, who had innumerable adventures before he came to this country and more after he settled here. I don’t know if any of those stories are true, and I spent years trying to prove or disprove them.  

My maternal Grandfather’s mother was a mail order bride. We are a family of redheads and because her DNA. She traveled from Belmont County Ohio to Wilson Kansas to marry my Great Grandfather and help rear his six children. She was 35 when she married him, and had two more children, and died in childbirth with the third at the age of 41. When I look at her picture, I see so much of her in so many of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, including my own daughter, and somewhat in my own face. 

I have many of the same kind of treasures from my paternal family as well. The work is more difficult, because none of the pictures were identified. My dad’s family were also story-tellers. If they didn’t know the answer to the question, they would make something up. The research is not easy. I have managed to identify some, the most important. 

My dad used to tell me that my paternal Great Grandmother was responsible for all the dark hair and dark eyes in that family.  He always said that she was from Louisiana and was Cajun.  There was no truth to that story. She was born in Ohio and as was her father and her grandfather was born in New Jersey. Many people have researched that surname, and have placed my line in with a certain Ayers family, who migrated here in the 1600’s. There is absolutely no proof of that story either. On the other hand, I do have a picture of her. She appeared to have very black hair and very dark eyes. 

To me, genealogy is much more than names and dates. The stories are what really matter. The search never ends. 

Meet the Storyteller - Ellen Rowan Taylor 

Ellen was born in Pekin Illinois, 71 years ago.  She became a nurse in Chicago, Illinois, moved to Washington DC where she married, and had two wonderful children. She left DC and moved to Fort Wayne Indiana, where she discovered her real life’s work at the wonderful genealogy library. That was 34 years ago. Genealogy was only part time while she lived there. She worked, reared children, and did all those things that you do when you are young. She believes her real work is now. 

Ellen has begun two family history blogs,  her paternal family history: and her maternal side  

She also has Facebook closed groups for each of her families.  Facebook has been wonderful for Ellen in connecting with her cousins and their children. She has also engaged the younger generation in her family history.  

He goal now is to live long enough to finish writing her family history story. Ellen admits that writing the stories may prove to be harder than doing the research.  

If you would like to have your story published on the Armchair Genealogist for our feature The Moment I Knew, click Everyone Has a Story  for all the details.