Friday, September 19, 2014

Mineral Ridge Classmates, 1925-1926 - Friday's Faces from the Past

Fifth Grade students of Mineral Ridge School, Weathersfield Township, Trumbull County, Ohio, are smack in the middle of the Roaring Twenties and unaware of the ravages of the Great Depression that would arrive only a few years later.

At right is my mom, Audrey Meinzen, age 10.  She looks angry or at least very serious.  Perhaps she was standing between two girls who weren't close friends or in front of a boy/boys who teased her.  Or maybe some misfortune had come her way just before the photo was taken.  The two dark strips on her dress appear to be the long ribbons of the bow tied at her neckline. 

Every girl in the class wears her hair cut in the popular "bob."  On the other hand, their dresses are as varied as their faces.  Though the 1920s was a time of economic boom for America in general, I suspect that the families in little Mineral Ridge continued to live frugally.  Many of the girls' dresses look home-sewn to me, certainly a money-saving effort at that time (unlike now when it's less expensive to buy a dress than make one). 

The boys wear shirts with ties, vests, sweaters, and/or jackets.  In the front row, most are still wearing short pants with long stockings.  The boys in short pants are probably a little jealous of the boys in long pants (if my father's feeling about short pants was anything like those of these boys).  I wonder if the boys on either end in the front row purposefully stuck out their tongues or it was just a chance lick of the lips and click of the shutter.

My mother never identified her classmates in this photo.  How would one ever know who these children are unless their descendants found this photo and recognized them?  I have a list of those who graduated with my mother but it's no help in putting names and faces together.

I'll just enjoy looking at the faces of these children and imagine what their lives might have been like.  You can click the photo to enlarge it and get a closer look.

Thanks for stopping by.


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Church Records for Your FAN Club - Tuesday's Tip

When you find an ancestor's name in church records . . .

. . . be sure to examine as many records as possible in the collection because you will surely find your ancestor's friends and neighbors (and probably some relatives) recorded too.  (Think of a church as a mini-FAN* club.)  Church communities can be as strong as geographical communities and regularly bring friends, family, and neighbors together.

*FAN = Friends And Neighbors


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Cameo Brooch

My mother had a small collection of cameos:  two pendants, a set of earrings, and a brooch.  I always admired the creamy carvings with their peach backgrounds.  Mom -- the private one who revealed little about her past -- never mentioned the history of any of them.  They could have been gifts, heirlooms,  purchases, or....  When Mom passed away I assumed I would never know more about them.

Then I found my parents' marriage announcement with my Mom's other papers.  It reads,

                     Mineral Ridge Girl Marries

(Special to The Vindicator)

     Mineral Ridge, Sept. 16.--Miss Audrey Meinzen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Meinzen, and Lee Doyle of Niles, were married at 7:30 p. m. Thursday in the Methodist Church.  Rev. Robert L. Clemmons read the service.
     The bride wore a gown of blue velvet with a cameo brooch, the gift of the bridegroom.  She carried an arm bouquet of pink roses.  Her matron of honor, Mrs. Earl Tuxford of Niles, was attired in wine crepe and carried fall flowers.  Mr. Tuxford served as best man.
     Mrs. Isabelle Woodward sang "I Love You Truly" and "O Promise Me" and Mrs. Phoebe Johnson played the traditional wedding marches.
     Following the ceremony a reception was held at the home of the bride's parents.
     Mrs. Doyle was graduated from Mineral Ridge High school, class of 1933, and from Warren Nurses' Training school in 1937.  She will continue her work for the present.  Mr. Doyle is associated with the Niles Rolling Mill.
     Following a short honeymoon the newly weds will live at 20 N. Chestnut Ave., Niles.

"The bride wore a gown of blue velvet with a cameo brooch, the gift of the bridegroom."  As far as I know, Mom had only one cameo brooch, the one shown at right.  I feel confident to say that this was my father's wedding gift to my mother.

They were married on this date, September 15, in 1938.


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

The Pets I Loved - Book of Me

about 1953
My first one-on-one experience with animals was probably when I was about three and my parents took us to see newly-born Boxer puppies.  Not long after that a little female came to live with us.  My parents, or perhaps my brother or sister, gave her the name Lady. 

I don't remember much of her puppyhood but she grew to be a good friend and companion by the time she reached adulthood.  My father carefully trained her to know the perimeter of our yard, where to "do her business," to walk gently on a leash, and to obey some basic commands.

Our neighborhood was relatively small and there was little traffic on the side streets.  Lady was given free rein to move about our unfenced yard as she pleased.  My parents let her out in the morning while they ate breakfast and when she was ready to come back in she barked at the door.  On rainy or snowy days my mom insisted that she sit on a rug or newspaper just inside the back door until her feet were dry.

Occasionally Lady came back inside after breakfast with breath smelling as if she'd been eating garlic.  Mom didn't cook with garlic and Lady had no access to local garbage cans, most of which had secured lids.  No one could figure out where she might have eaten garlic.  A few weeks later my father was talking to one of our relatives who lived near the opposite end of our street.  He told my dad that he sure enjoyed Lady's morning visits.  He invited her in and she was a very well-behaved visitor.  Of course my father was surprised because he hadn't realized Lady had wandered from the yard.  Further discussion revealed that Lady stopped by the homes of several other families each morning, too, and Dad discovered that last night's dinner at these different homes was incentive for her morning excursions. 

Lady was a gentle dog but she was also a good watch dog.  I remember once being in the back yard with my mom while she was hanging laundry.  There were two lines of sheets blocking the view to the driveway and front yard plus another line or two of clothes waving in the wind.  Suddenly Lady barked and charged.  I was alarmed but my mom quickly went through the rows of sheets to find that a salesman had come into the yard unannounced.  Lady warned but did not bite.

about 1954
She had an easy-going, sweet temperament and was fun to play with.  We sometimes played tug with a rope, chased each other around the yard, or walked to the post office together.  She obviously liked to investigate, though I don't know what she was hoping to find in the clothespin basket, at right.

In later years we would sometimes find Lady lying in front of the back porch door with the cat curled up between her legs.  If we awoke her and called her attention to the situation, she would often act very embarrassed.

Lady lived to be about 18.  My father was particularly heartbroken at her loss but, of course, the rest of us had sorrowful hearts, too. 

There were also a series of cats in our family, some of which I dressed in doll clothes and pushed around in a baby buggy.  How my 4- or 5-year-old self managed to put clothes on a cat I'll never know.  Maybe they were just passive cats.

Put, 1967
The cat I most remember is Put.  My brother-in-law worked at a farm and offered to catch one of the farm kittens for me.  At the barn doors I watched the kittens for a few minutes.  All of them were wild and watchful, afraid of us.  When I saw the tiny, grey, wooly one I knew she (or he) was the one I wanted.  She was elusive and fast but my brother-in-law was persistent and faster.  When he finally handed her to me she announced, with a hiss and a scratch, that she wanted nothing to do with me.  I patiently taught her that she had no reason to fear me and that I would provide her with delicious food.  It didn't take long to tame her.  She became a sweet friend. 

There were other animals in my childhood -- cows on my uncle's farm; my grandmother's dogs; my cousin's bird; a friend's pony -- but none were as dear to me as Lady and Put.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This is another post in The Book of Me series, created by Julie Goucher of Anglers Rest.  (See list at


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dixon Bartley - Church Record Sunday

When I found Rev. Charles Althouse's church record book on Ancestry buried in the records of Durham Reformed Church of Bucks County, Pennsylvania (even though my ancestors in these records lived and died in Butler County, Pennsylvania), I felt like I hit pay dirt.  I was thrilled to find the information about several ancestors all on the same page.  I already knew the burial locations but there was new information:  their exact ages in years/months/days; their causes of death; and the scripture text for the funeral sermons. 

Dixon Bartley is one of my paternal great-great-grandfathers.  He died where he lived most of his life, in Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  Dixon's information is on the very last line of these two pages, above.

Rev. Althouse recorded the following information for Dixon:

Date of Funeral:   April 23, 1900
Name:                  Dixon Bartley
Scripture text:     Job 5:26
Age:                     94 years, 6 months, 13 days
Cause of death:    cancer and old age
Cemetery:            Bear Creek

The closest birth information I had for Dixon was "about 1806."  Using the age at death in this record Dixon's calculated birth date is October 9, 1805.

The text for the sermon, Job 5:26, is,
Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.
It seems to state the obvious, since Dixon was 94 years old when he died, but I'm sure Rev. Althouse expanded the thought in some depth.

Thank you, Rev. Althouse, for keeping your record book.  Thank you Durham County Reformed Church for preserving the record book.  And thank you, Ancestry, for making it available.


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Advertising Gift - Treasure Chest Thursday

This little note and pencil holder are from the late 1950s from my father's side business of repairing clocks, watches, and jewelry.  He must have purchased a case or two to give to his regular patrons.  My mom probably saved a few and now I have this lovely green one.

It is 3 3/4" wide and nearly 7" tall.  These holders came in green, blue, yellow (and possibly pink).  It was originally made to hang on a wall from a nail but I've adapted it by putting magnetic tape on the back so we can hang it on our refrigerator.

It's become fragile through continued use and has been repaired several times.  The little Dutch couple are attached to the holder by only their shoes and the connections between the tops of their shoes and their dress/pants are very thin. 

There are three things I love about this little treasure.
1)  The color:  truly a 1940's green.
2)  That it was made in America!
3)  And the phone number on the advertising:

OL. 2-7979

I doubt I will ever forget the phone number of our home -- the same from the time I was a child until my mother passed away in 1997 -- but should my memory fall short I now have it on hand.  Of course, the area code has  changed.

Anyone who was a child of the '50s will probably remember that phone numbers were a combination of letters and numbers.  Those first two letters stood for a word.  In our case, it was "Olympic."  My best friend's exchange was "Liberty."   The letters were eventually exchanged for numbers.  I don't know what difference it made since we dialed the same numbers.

I think my father hoped that one day his watch repair business would become a full-time means of providing for his family.  It didn't work out that way:  he continued to repair watches and clocks as a side business while working at Copperweld Steel 40-60 hours/week.


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's a Clean Desk, In Comparison?

This morning I was sitting at home minding my own business with a little plan for the day.  I didn't have much energy:  yesterday we drove six hours (round trip) to spend eight hours with our daughters and grandchildren to celebrate one daughter's birthday.  That's a lot of travel in one day and I felt tired.  But I decided that I could at least neaten the table where my computer sits:  clean up, clear out, and put away (or at least organize) the 8" high pile of papers and folders.

Most of the papers were family history-related, so I couldn't do much without turning on the computer to verify whether I'd added the information to RootsMagic.  But you know how one thing leads to another:  I opened RootsMagic, checked my email, then opened feedly to see what was new in the family history blogging world.  (Think little energy, easily sidetracked....)

As I scrolled down feedly I came to The Genealogy Insider post, 17 Genealogy Things To Do If You Have Only a Few MinutesWell, I have a few minutes, I thought to myself.  What can I do?  I stopped at the suggestion to check google books for an ancestor.

Instead of going to google books my mind jumped to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission website; wandered to the Pennsylvania State Archives; and then meandered to the online Farm Census Records -- and my fingers followed every one of those thoughts.  (Between each meaningful stop I explored the Archives to see if there were other helpful resources available.)

At the Farm Census Records I found a surprise.  There were the 1927 Triennial Agriculture Census Manuscripts for Pennsylvania with links to images.  I believe those are new because the last time I looked at ag census records at that site I saw only the 1850 and 1880.

In truth, 1927 isn't far back into history.  I was searching for a recent ancestor, one I might have known had he lived to old age.  It's true that I do already have some information about my grandfather and his farm but I learned more from this census.  (And I do enjoy learning about the lives of my ancestors as opposed to gathering only names and dates.)

So here you have it.  Several hours after reading the post on feedly the pile of papers and folders is still here.  The table with the computer is not a whit cleaner.  I've added nothing to my RootsMagic file.  But I learned that on my grandfather's farm in 1927 he grew 15 acres of oats for grain; had 18 peach trees; owned 30 laying hens; and milked 18 cows without the aid of milking machines; plus 35 additional pieces of information about life on that farm.  I can almost imagine bypassing time to look through a window into his world.  Not just my grandfather's world, but my father's world when he was 14 years old -- the world he never spoke about.

I will clean my desk tomorrow.  What's a clean desk compared to a "view" of my father's and grandfather's farm?

Here's to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission!  And to Diane at
The Genealogy Insider for suggesting searches that take only a few minutes.  (No matter that I spent several hours on this one!) 

Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Choosing Rebecca's Birthdate - Church Record Sunday

Rebecca (Smith) Bartley's birth date has been uncertain from the time I discovered her name as my great-great-grandmother.

Her gravestone at Bear Creek Cemetery gives a birth year of 1817.

But I settled on 1820 for the following reasons, and June because of the census records.

The calculated birth year from her and her husband's golden anniversary article suggests a birth year of 1820.  (Rebecca and Dixon married on July 10, 1838; in July, 1888, Rebecca was 68 years old; therefore she was born in 1820.)

Census records for 1850 through 1880 all point to a birth year of 1820.  (She was 30 in 1850; 40 in 1860; 50 in 1870; and 59 in 1880.)

Then along came Rev. Charles Althouse's church record book on Pennsylvania and New Jersey Town and Church Records on Ancestry, and I learned another birth date.

One interesting thing about this record is that Rev. Althouse noted date of the funeral and age at death, but not the date of death.  Other sources tell me that Rebecca died on December 29, 1899.

Because it may be too small to read, this is a transcription of Rebecca's line in the book.
     Funeral Date         Dec. 31, 1899  
     Name                     Rebecca Bartley
     Text                      1 Thess 4-14
     Age                       80 years, 6 months, 14 days
     Fee                       [blank]
     Cause of Death     cancer of the stomach
     Cemetery              Bear Creek

Using the age Rev. Althouse noted for Rebecca, 80 years, 6 months, and 14 days, and her date of death, I can go to my RootsMagic date calculator and find that Rebecca was born on June 25, 1819.

Accurate?  Exact?  True?  Maybe or maybe not.  Does it matter?  I love putting a "real" date in the birth box in RootsMagic, but it's not essential to me.  As long as I record the various birth dates and their sources, I'm comfortable choosing the most-likely-to-be-accurate birth date.

One last thing about this record is that Rev. Althouse chose I Thessalonians 4:14 as the basis for his sermon at Rebecca's funeral.  It reads,
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
He must have been confident that she was on good terms with her Savior.


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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