Family History Tour – Tennessee and Kentucky

Our Last Family History Episode – Family History Tour – Tennessee and Kentucky

In our previous episodes, we visited Jeff’s family’s ancestral homes in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  We were able to explore both his dad’s father’s ancestry as well as his mother’s dating back to the early 1700’s.

This is the last episode of our east coast tour with Tennessee and Kentucky wrapping up the trip.

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Carter County, Tennessee

Jeff’s 4th Great Grandfather George moved from Shenandoah Junction in West Virginia to Carter County Tennessee when this part of the country was still part of North Carolina (Washington County N.C.).  It later became part of Tennessee.  Tracking all of the changes from North Carolina to Tennessee was a challenge!

We are lucky to have a family history book written in the 1940’s that chronicled the migrations of Jeff’s family so we have a head start in our research.  Using we then found land grants issued to my 4th Great Grandfather in Tennessee.

We also found records of George being active in the local government by researching local county historical society records online find that George was elected as a judge & jailer at different times besides being a farmer.

The land records for the county record that George sold some of his Tennessee property to his eldest son Peter.  Peter then sold the land back to his father when he moved to Kentucky.  A year later George sold all of his property in Tennessee and moved the rest of the family to Kentucky.

Barbourville, Kentucky

After George moved to Barbourville, Kentucky we found that Peter became involved with local politics by holding various positions and owned several pieces of property in downtown Barbourville and farmland outside of town.  My 3rd Great Grandfather Jacob owned a farm just outside of Barbourville – again county land records were researched using

Both George and Jacob are buried in Barbourville.  Their plot on a city property was assumed by the land owner who had the house nearby, and their headstones were used in the foundation of a house!  We learned this from cousins sharing research they had done.

Wrapping it up

We had a wonderful trip traveling down the east coast.  We visited cemeteries where Jeff’s ancestors are buried and battlegrounds they fought at.  We learned a lot about how early settlers lived during the 1700’s and 1800’s.  We hope you enjoyed these stories and encourage you  to do your own family history story.

Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles.

Genealogy On The Road

How we did our Genealogy On The Road

Genealogy is a popular pastime for many.  There are several programs on TV like Who do you think you are? on the TLC cable channel that are fun to watch.  We are traveling down the eastern states on our way to Florida and Jeff has ancestors that emigrated to the US in the early 1700’s.  Here’s how we did our genealogy on the road.


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Map showing westward migration of the early Engles 1740-1861

Preparing for a Family History Road Trip

Jeff has worked on our family history since the mid 1990’s.  Fortunately an uncle on his dad’s side had done some genealogy research and we already had a book on his mom’s side to get us started.  We purchased other family history books, published our research on and used Family Tree Maker software and to share and exchange genealogy research information.  By 1999 we had several roots of our tree going back 7 generations.

Since then we have filled in lots of blanks – researching other family lines and more importantly learning what professions they had, where they lived and anything else we could find to learn who they were.  The most interesting facts were found by looking at:

  • Birth locations of children
  • Land purchase/sale records
  • War records
  • Census data
  • Historical documents
  • Church Records
  • Cemetery Records ( is great, but not 100% correct!)

We are focusing on the east coast.  After landing in Philadelphia in 1740, Jeff’s 5th great-grandfather Melchor Engle and his mother traveled to Lancaster Pennsylvania.  After marrying Mary Magdalena Beyerle and having 6 sons in Lancaster they moved to Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia.  His son George (Jeff’s 4th Great Grandfather) married in Shenandoah Junction, then moved to eastern Tennessee where Jacob (Jeff’s 3rd Great Grandfather) was born.  They moved to eastern Kentucky where Jacob farmed and lived his days.  Jacob’s son Levi was born in Kentucky and moved to Missouri which takes us beyond our trip to Florida.  This gives us the path for our trip.  In addition we mapped out other ancestors that lived in the colonies & states between 1730 and 1850 along the route.

Lola - Ready to GO!
Lola – Ready to GO!

Genealogy On The Road

On the road, we reviewed existing documentation and used the internet to get more specific locations for the farms and cemeteries to visit.  One of the gems we used were documents for districts, homes and buildings in the national historic registry.  These documents contain a lot of information on the chain of purchases, use of the land/buildings and historical context.  We found some of these documents at county history websites, others at the national registry database.

The most time-consuming task is to match the land record information with maps.  A typical description includes waterways for boundaries.  That is where we started in Google Maps.  Of course you can not search by the names of rivers, brooks, branches and especially locations such as: ‘beginning at a beech tree by Conestoga creek’ etc.  See the example below that shows the challenge of interpreting old land purchase records where Melchor purchased land from his father-in-low.

Example Deed from 1746

Michael Beyerle to Melchor Engle
This indenture made the 10th day of April in the year of our Lord 1746 between Michael Beyerle of the Borough of Lancaster in the Province of Pennsylvania, Yeoman, and Catherine his wife of the one part and Melchor Engle of the County of Lancaster and Province aforesaid, Saddler, son of the said Catherine by a former husband, of the other part, witnesseth that the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife for and in consideration of the natural love and affection they bear unto the said Melchor Engle and for his advancement in the world, as of the sum of 100 pounds lawful money of the said Province to them in hand paid by the said Melchor Engle the receipt thereof they do hereby acknowledge have given granted and aliened enfeoffed and confirmed and by these presents to give grant, and aliened, enfeoffed, and confirmed unto the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns all of that certain tract or parcel of land situate, lying and being on the east side of Conestoga creek in Larnpeter Twp. in the county of Lancaster afores, beginning at a beech tree by Conestoga creek at a corner of land formerly of Edmund Carthedge and extending thence by the same south, south east 264 perches to a black oak, thence by lands late of Jacob Harress and Christian Jonce, west by south 155 perches to a post, thence by vacant land west by north 400 perches to a Hickory tree by the aforesaid creek, thence down the same by the several courses thereof, 220 perches to the place of beginning, containing 225 and an allowance of six acres on a hundred for roads and highways, which said tract or parcel of land was granted to the said Michael Beyerle, his heirs and assigns by patent from the Hon.  John Penn, Thomas Penn, and Richard Penn, Esquires, true and absolute proprietors and Governors in chief of the said Province, under the land of the said Thomas Penn and the great seal of the said Province bearing date of the 2nd day of May in the year of our Lord’ 1740, as by the said patent recorded in the office for recording of deeds for the city and county of Philadelphia in Patent book A. Vol. 10 page 229 the 10th day of March in the year of our Lord 1740, (relation being there unto had may more fully and at large appear) together with all and singular the improvements, rights, and members and appurtenances thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining and the reversions and remainders, rents, issues & profits thereof and all the estate, right title, interest, property claim and demand of them the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife, of in and to the premises hereby granted and true copies of all deeds, evidences & witnesses concerning the same to be had and made at the proper costs and charges of the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, to have and to hold the said tract of 225 acres of land hereditiments and promises hereby granted with their and every of their appurtenances unto the said Melchor Engle and his heirs, to the only proper use in behoof of the said Melchor Engle his heirs and assigns forever, under the yearly quit rent henceforth accruing and growing due and payable to the chief lord or lords of the fee thereof, and the said Michael Beyerle and his heirs, the said tract of land hereditaments and promises hereby granted with the appurtenances unto the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, against them the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife, and their heirs and against all persons claiming or to claim by, from, or under them, shall and will warrant and forever defend by these presents, and the said Michael Beyerle, for himself, his heirs, executors and administrators and for the said Catherine his wife, doth covenant, promise and grant to and with the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns by these presents, that he, the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife, and their heirs and all and every other person and persons, whatsoever having or lawfully claiming or to claim any estate right title or interest of, in or the said premises r any part thereof, by, from or any of them, shall or will at any time or times hereafter at the reasonable request cost and charges in the law of the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, make, execute and acknowledge or cause so to be all and every such further and other lawfull and reasonable act and acts, deed and deeds, devices and devices in the law, whatsoever for the further and better assurance and confirmation of the said tract of 225 acres of land, hereditaments and promises hereby granted or mentioned so to be with the appurtances under the same Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, as by him the said Melchor Engle or by his or their council learned in the law shall be reasonably devised, advised and required, in witness whereof the said parties to these presents their hands and seals interchangeably have set here unto. 
Dated the year and day first above written, sealed and delivered in the presents of us.
German name (in script) Michael Beyerle (in German)
German name (in script) her
Tho. Cookson Catherine X Beyerle
Received of the above named Melchor Engle on the day of the date of these presents the full sum of 100 pounds lawful money of Penn., being the consideration money above mentioned.
100 0    0
Lb Sh P         Test.  Tho.  Cookson,
By me Michael Beyerle, (written in German)

Hope you enjoyed our hints about doing Genealogy On The Road!

Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles

Rail Trails

Rail Trails in Massachusetts and New York

Finding Rail Trails

We have spent two months exploring Massachusetts and New York.  While staying in Sturbridge Massachusetts we found the Grand Trunk (Titanic) Rail Trail with sections through Southbridge and Brimfield Massachusetts.  In searching for a place to walk our dogs we came across a website on Rail Trails run by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.  Using that we found a number of Rail and Canal trails.


Our Rail Trails in Ma. and N.Y.

Here’s some pictures and a video on the old Railroad lines that are now walking, hiking and biking trails.  For the Catskills Scenic trail the paths are also used for snowmobiling during the winter.

We already did a post on the Grand Trunk (GT) Railway trail that goes by Westfield Dam that you can read here and our Sturbridge Ma. post here.  After staying in Sturbridge, we drove to Accord New York where we found the Catskills Scenic Trail.

Rail Trails are perfect for our older dogs because of the gradual climbs and descents.  Many have historical markers along with the trail guides that make it fun to learn about our country.

Happy Trails!



Sturbridge Massachusetts

Sturbridge Massachusetts August 2016

After attending the FMCA Rally in West Springfield Massachusetts, we traveled less than an hour to our next camping spot in Sturbridge Massachusetts.  For the first time we are staying in the one place for 3 weeks!  This is what traveling by RV is all about for us – taking the time to explore an area.

Sturbridge Encore Resort

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The Sturbridge RV “Resort” is in a great location close to historic Sturbridge and Southbridge Massachusetts.  Old Sturbridge Village looks like a fun place to visit and re-live what life was like in central Massachusetts back in the early 1800’s.

Our arrival was a bit of a disappointment because there were no RV sites that would accommodate our 40′ Lola.  Christine took a tour of the campground where she checked out some sites.  The campsites were too small for us so we stayed in an “overflow” spot the first night.  It was so small we couldn’t even put both of our slides out.  Since we had made reservations almost 3 months in advance that specified the size of our rig it’s surprising that nothing was available.

Getting a permanent spot

The next day an assistant came by and told us that we should move over to an open spot as soon as possible so no one else would get it.  It was a nice pull-through site. We were lucky to get a site that was close to the dog park and away from the lodge and pool where it was quite noisy, especially on the weekends.  We took the camp site, and sure enough once we got parked another rig pulled up and the driver said that the campsite was theirs!  Our new neighbor also mentioned he was originally assigned that camping site and considered moving there.  Obviously there is a need for more staff and organization at Sturbridge.

Facility Review

The pool – laundry – bath house is all together and covered.  It was very warm and musty and the bathrooms were very dirty.  Jeff went back late the next day and the toilets were still disgusting, although the following day they were clean.  We remember the original orientation we attended when we got our Thousand Trails membership back in 1984.  At that time one of the things emphasized was the schedule of bathroom cleanings with the clip board by the door.  That sure wasn’t happening at Sturbridge.  After talking with the staff it is clear the campground is understaffed.


We tried out the Wi-Fi and got a connection, so paid for 2 weeks.  In all, we were able to connect for 3 or 4 hours total during our entire stay.  The office just handed out instructions on how to connect then said that they had nothing to do with the internet connection.  When I contacted TengoInternet the support person verified that the router at Sturbridge was constantly resetting.  We were able to connect later, but the next day it was out again and TengoInternet support said that the site there had a slow internet connection that caused the router to constantly reset.  That’s also why campers are limited to 200 Mb per day!  Nothing more they could do.

We used our AT&T MiFi burning our data plan.

Things to do around Sturbridge Massachusetts

On the plus side of our stay at Sturbridge there are a number of things to do.  It’s close to Connecticut, Rhode Island and Boston, however we stuck close and explored the local area.

We already wrote about Wells State Park,  and the Grand Trunk Rail Trail at Westville Dam.  Then we posted about our wanderings at the Breakneck Brook gravel pit.

More Grand Truck Rail Trail

We explored other sections of the Grand Truck Rail Trail while we stayed at Sturbridge.


We also visited Lead Mine Hill (Tantiusques) where we saw an old graphite mine where the Indians extracted graphite to use for face paint.  Later the colonists used the graphite for pencils – and the link above explains this.  Ticonderoga No 2 pencils used this material from these mines by Joseph Dixon and son.  Dixon made the pencils in Ticonderoga, NY, hence the Ticonderoga name on them.

American Optical

Jeff visited American Optical – the first optical company in the US.  The effort to make US glasses started in 1826 because William Beecher was not satisfied with the high cost and poor quality of European eye-wear.  By 1905 there were over 2,000 people employed in Southbridge Massachusetts.  The site has some great examples of late 1800 manufacturing buildings.

We had a great time at Sturbridge and immersed ourselves in the local history and are looking forward to moving on to Downstate New York where we will stay in historic Accord.

Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles


St Lawrence County New York

What to do in St Lawrence County New York

Lola’s still in the shop

BGM RV Repair reports that they are still missing a part from Winnebago.  This is a major delay in our schedule.  We are now expecting get Lola next Monday the 18th if all things go well.  That is par for the course.  It seems like most RV repairs take more time than expected.  As reported in our last post Lola’s in the shop – Watch your rearBGM RV Repair has everything prepped, so once this part arrives Lola will be in the paint shop.  We hope to have an update later this week.

Because of the delay, and since our daughters will be in Boston during the 3rd week of July, we have cancelled our trip to Bar Harbor Maine and will be heading directly to Sturbridge Massachusetts to go to Boston then the FMCA 94th Convention in West Springfield Massachusetts.

Fortunately, our good friends in Norfork New York are letting our pack (and us) to stay with them.  With their 2 dogs and our 3 the place has really ‘gone to the dogs’.  The dogs get along as good as us humans, so all in all we have a great time.  Thanks again Pat and Martha for sharing your home with us.

This has given us a chance to explore St Lawrence County, part of New York’s North Country and write our first true travelogue.

Exploring St Lawrence County

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St Lawrence Lake

The St Lawrence River flows from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic ocean.  From the farthest headwaters west of the Great Lakes it flows 1,900 miles before reaching the Atlantic making it one of the longest rivers in the world.  The river has provided power and navigation for centuries.  In 1902 the Pittsburgh Reduction Company – the predecessor to Alcoa – built an aluminum plant in Massena New York to take advantage of the hydroelectric capabilities.  This makes it the longest operating aluminum plant in the world.

From 1954 to 1957 a joint project between Canada and the US built a huge hydroelectric dam the completely cross the St Lawrence river.  In addition to hydroelectric power, the dam improved the ability to ship goods on the river by creating a series of locks so ships could sail from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic without having to be unloaded and barged over various rapids and through canals.

This dam created St Lawrence Lake – one of the big attractions in the area.  Fishermen from all over the world visit the area – especially for the Bass and Walleye.  It also changed the Thousand Island region expanding an existing destination spot with the huge lake that dam created.

You can check out current ship traffic and lock locations at the Seaway System website.  The Eisenhower lock in Massena has a visitor center.

From our cabin in Lousiville, ship watching was a blast!


Trails and Boat Trips

One of the great things about the Thousand Islands area of the St Lawrence river are all the trails you can go on.  They are great if you are interested in photography because this time of year it seems like every week different wildflowers are in bloom.  And of course nothing beats relaxing on the river in a boat with friends.  There are trails all around the Great Lakes and St Lawrence river on the US and Canadian side.


Quaint towns and villages

There are few large towns in the area so if you like to explore small towns and villages this is the place!  Traffic is no problem here and most towns have one or more treasure shops where you can find antiques and second hand values.  It seems like each weekend a different town has a town-wide yard sale.  Not to be missed is Alexandria Bay and Boldt Castle.


Cities and Capitals

Both Ottawa – the capital of Canada and Montreal – one of the major financial centers of Canada are within and an hour and a half drive from us in St Lawrence county.  Both towns are steeped in history and regional charm.  We visited Montreal on our last visit to the area, so we picked Ottawa on this trip and were able to see a couple of boats go up the Rideau Canal.  This canal was opened in 1832, mainly when the English were concerned about American interference of commercial traffic on the St Lawrence river after the War of 1812.



The St Lawrence County area has many small rivers that flow into the St Lawrence river.  Along with that are lots of waterfalls, most relatively easy to get to.  For outsiders, the best resource is the Northern NY Waterfall listing.  We visited Rensselaer Falls in the town of the same name on the Oswegatchie river., and Allen Falls outside of Parishville on the St Regis river.  It’s questionable whether Rensselaer Falls should actually be categorized as a ‘Falls’, but Allen Falls is spectacular.



Adirondack Park

It would be impossible to talk about the New York North Country without mentioning the great Adirondack Park.  We visited the park on our previous visit to St Lawrence county, and are planning to visit again this fall to capture some of the spectacular fall colors.

Just Exploring…

The area is full of farms – many dating back over 100 years.  If you are into old barns, tractors or anything else related to agriculture you will have fun driving around and exploring.  Pick up great produce from local Amish farms.

Thanks for reading our first true travelogue.  Leave a comment with your thoughts if you wish.

Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles

Jeff, Christine and the three dogs – Kadie, Sam and Danny