Connellsville library can help families trace their histories

| Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 5:26 a.m.

During the past year, Casey Sirochman, director of Carnegie Free Library of Connellsville, has been on a genealogical journey, using the library's resources to research her family, going back as many generations as possible.

Knowing the process can be tedious, CFL offers a few options for the research.

“It is important to talk to family members while you still have the opportunity,” Sirochman said. “Ask as many questions as you can. This is a good time — during the holiday season when relatives are visiting, recalling fond memories and thinking about those who have been loved and lost over the years.”

CFL has an in-library use only subscription to's world edition because of a generous donation from the Louis Simons estate in memory of Devora Leah Simons.

“I ended up finding out that my family history shares an ancestral connection with the grandfather of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, on my father's mother's side of the family. Further, I have linked my ancestry to three separate self-published genealogy books, thus saving me time and energy tracing a few lines back generations,” Sirochman said.

The line connected to President Lincoln dates back to 1592 and Christopher Springer, as noted in a self-published book titled, “A Springer Family History: Some Descendants of Dennis Springer and Ann Pricket” by Ruth Irwin. While not entirely proven, it is said that Christopher would be the immigrant ancestor for the Springer line in the United States from Stockholm, Sweden.

While Christopher did not migrate to the United States, his fifth child, Jacob Springer, did in 1692. Jacob Springer had four children, one of them being Dennis Springer, born in 1712, who the book is titled after, Sirochman said.

In 1769, the Springer family became pioneers of what was to become Fayette County. The sixth child of Dennis, also named Dennis, born in 1748, purchased 72 acres and eight perches of land from Henry Beeson in 1790. Mr. Springer lived when the first brick courthouse in Fayette County was erected in 1795. Dennis Springer's second child, Jacob, born in 1777, married Elizabeth Jenkins. Their son, Aaron, born 1800, was a landowner and one of the early iron masters in Fayette County. Aaron's third child, James H., born on Oct. 3, 1825, was appointed by President Lincoln to postmaster of Uniontown in 1861. He married Hester A. Shaw, who is the connection to President Lincoln's family.

“Aaron and Hester's second child was Frank Yost, born in 1851, who married Emma Pollock and had a daughter, Rose E. Springer, more directly known to me as my great-great-grandmother,” Sirochman said. “Rose married a William McLaughlin and their child, Sarah (McLaughlin) Dunham, was my great-grandmother. In regards to the Dunham line, this is the second book that I came across. I even had the occasion to meet the author of this self-published book detailing the Miller-Emme line back to 1707 with Abraham Miller, a pioneer with his family, of Frederick County, Md.”

She said that her genealogy search has led her to distant cousins and relatives.

“I begged for any morsel of information or inkling of hope connecting one relative to another. In fact, in regards to my own maiden name, Brady, I can only go as far back as James Brady, a solider in the Civil War. I was better able to connect to the women in this line,” she said.

As an example, Sirochman's great-grandmother was Mary Ridenour and CFL has a self-published book on the Ridenour family history dating back to 1611 with Anton Reitenauer (spelling can be multiple versions of last names) from a Swiss Village of Reitnau. Further, James Brady married a Julia Tobin, named after the famed Tobin school in the Smithfield area, and thanks to an unnamed distant relative, Sirochman has a copy of the Tobin family tree, she said.

“Begin today. The more you delay and put it off, the more valuable clues could be lost. I have been calling a distant relative in New Jersey for the past month to get leads for the McLaughlin family line,” Sirochman said.

Residents interested in beginning a search of their family genealogy can call ahead and make an appointment with Sirochman, who can work with individuals or groups on simple navigation and searching. For a fee, the CFL or the Connellsville Area Historical Society will conduct basic family research.

CFL has microfilm — although not indexed or searchable — available from the Daily Courier that dates back to 1879 and city directories from 1904 to 1926 and several in print after 1926.

Appointments must be made to visit the historic or PA/Connell room because of a small staff size and volunteers. To make an appointment, call 724-628-1380.

“Do not delay; ask questions over the holidays,” Sirochman said.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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