Friday, January 6, 2017

Mrs. Titus - Friday's Faces From the Past

Mrs. Titus was my grandmother Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen's friend.  Other than that I know nothing about her but she seems to me to have a pleasant, serene appearance.  Grandma has photos of her from this age until she was older, sitting in a wheelchair.

I would like to know where and how they met and how they became friends.  Perhaps some day I will research her.

This image was scanned from a photo, about 1 1/2" square, found in my grandmother's photo album.

If someone related to Mrs. Titus happens to read this post I would love to hear from you!


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017, Family and Blogging Friends

My wish for you as the new year begins is health, happiness, friendship, love, and success in your family history endeavors.

Happy New Year to you and yours!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Highs of 2016

I have a tiny little blog and I won't embarrass myself by telling you how many (or how few) posts I wrote in 2016, nor will I tell you the number of views each of the top five posts had.  I will tell you that it's no surprise that only one of the most-viewed posts focuses on my family; the others are more general to genealogy research.  In reverse order these are the five most read posts of 2016 on My Ancestors and Me.

5th)  A Family Resemblance? - Friday's Faces from the Past
This post explores the possibility that a tiny photo in my grandmother's album is a photo of the mother of a cousin whose mother had died when she was two.  Did I imagine a family resemblance or is there really one?

4th)  The Best Place to Find a German Immigrant's Hometown
While researching the same supposed sister of the same great-grandfather, I learned the best place to find a German immigrant's hometown.  (Unfortunately, the best place did not have a record of her hometown.)

3rd) Travel in Steerage - Websites to Learn More
Having learned that the supposed sister of my great-grandfather and several of her family members travelled from Germany to the U.S. in steerage, I wanted to learn more about that method of travel and what the experience might have been like for them. 

3rd)  The Best Place to Find a German Immigrant's Hometown
While researching the same supposed sister of the same great-grandfather, I learned the best place to find a German immigrant's hometown.  (Unfortunately, the best place did not have a record of her hometown.)

2nd)  Another Kind of Genealogy Toolbox
Most of us probably think of genealogy toolboxes in terms of record collections (both online and/or in repositories), books, and other physical resources.  This post suggests tools of a different kind, one comprised of traits and attributes, both innate and learned.

1st)  Transcription and Translation of a Church Record Written in German
It seems I'm not the only one interested in translating and transcribing old German records.  This post had more views this year than any other.

I've been enjoying reading other bloggers' lists of their top posts of the year.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved. .

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Don't Wait.  A Cautionary Tale - Tuesday's Tip

A little over a month ago my daughter and I drove north several hours to visit my 95-year-old aunt, my mother's second youngest sister.  She has a few medical problems but when I speak with her on the phone she is lucid, appears to have an excellent memory, and speaks clearly.  She's been interested in and supportive of my family history efforts, has answered many questions and identified people in photos, and has always indicated that she would continue to help identify people in old photos and answer questions.

Before we went I finished scanning photos from my grandmother's album and printed them.  (The album itself is/was far too fragile to take along with its black pages shedding fibers.)  I hoped my aunt might be able to identify some of the people, perhaps know or at least suggest possible locations, and share stories or memories of the individuals in the photos.

The photos in the album range in size from about 1" x 1" up to 5" x 7" for individual portraits with most being in the 2 1/2" x 5" size.  I printed the photos at 4" x 6" or 5" x 7" thinking that my aunt might need the larger size to see the images more clearly.  When my aunt pulled out a small magnifying glass to look at the images I realized the larger sizes were not a help.

Not only was her vision failing but her memory of faces has begun to fade.  Was that cousin Edward or cousin James?  In another photo, which was Uncle William, Uncle John, Uncle Andrew, and Uncle Dan?  It could have been a compound problem of slightly unclear photos and/or slightly dimmed vision and/or a fading memory.

I'm grateful my aunt was willing to look at the photos, try to remember people, and identify those she recognized.  My disappointment comes from knowing that I didn't show her the photos and ask her to identify individuals sooner.  Who else could I ask?  I know of no one.

The lesson?  Don't wait!  We've all heard it before but it finally hits home when it happens to you.  If you have old photos to be identified, if you have questions to ask, don't wait!  Ask those older relatives now.  They're not getting any younger, their vision is not improving, and their memories aren't getting any better.  Ask now.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Box for Christmas - A Childhood Memory

During many childhood summers I spent a week at the home of my cousin, Belinda, who was just nine months older than me.  One particular summer when I was perhaps seven or eight, I remember that her mother/my aunt bought each of us a book of paper dolls,
probably with the hope that it would occupy us and keep us quiet and out of her hair for an hour or two.

If you are my age and played with paper dolls you probably remember that they were sold in books about 9" x 12" with a cover and four or six single-sided pages of clothes.  The dolls were printed on the heavier cardboard covers and die cut so they could be punched out (with care) or so that a few snips with scissors would free them from the page.

The doll clothes themselves needed to be cut out with scissors.  Unlike the clothes above, the ones for our dolls had tabs at the shoulders and sides which we folded over to hold the clothes in place.

After an hour or two of cutting, Belinda and I each had a stack of clothes, but we had nowhere to keep them safe.  I told my aunt I needed a box.  When she told me she didn't have a box, I must have been insistent that I needed one because she finally said, "I'll give you a box for Christmas."  Though that didn't satisfy the immediate need, I was happy enough and agreed that a box for Christmas would be great.  I don't remember what we did the our dolls and collection of clothes.

As a child I loved boxes.  Not thin cardboard, fold-down, collapsible gift boxes, but real boxes, sturdy boxes -- hefty paper-covered cardboard or wooden cigar boxes; lidded pasteboard boxes with glued and reinforced edges; candy boxes; wooden cheese boxes, or even lidded cardboard cheese boxes; wooden Shaker boxes, wooden recipe boxes.  Good boxes.  Beautiful, useful boxes.  I was always on the lookout for a better school supply box, one that was sturdy and wouldn't crush or break apart.  (Those cheap plastic boxes children use these days were not yet being mass-produced.)  I don't know how or where my affinity for boxes developed but it continues to this day.  I find it hard to walk away from an attractive, sturdy box with a lid.  Boxes have so much potential.

Six months had elapsed between that summer day we cut out and played with paper dolls and Christmas Day.  Belinda and her family arrived with gifts in hand for all the nieces and nephews/cousins.  We were all gathered in our living room exchanging gifts.  I was sitting on the floor and my aunt handed down a wrapped gift with ribbon and bow.  When I unwrapped the square box I found it empty.  My aunt and cousin laughed and reminded me that I'd agreed on an empty box for Christmas.  I was chagrined.  I was surprised to receive an empty box.  I'd forgotten about the paper dolls, but the worst part was that the box was one of those cheap, flimsy, collapsible ones.  That summer day when I asked for a box I was imagining a sturdy, elongated candy box with a fitted lid, just the right size for paper dolls and their clothes.  After Belinda and her mom (along with everyone else in the room) stopped laughing, my aunt handed me another gift.  I have no memory what it was.

Isn't it strange that some events nestle (or wedge) into our memories -- and others wisp away like smoke?


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Sussex Carol - Blog Caroling with footnoteMaven

Again this December footnoteMaven has invited us to Blog Carol by posting our favorite Christmas carol.  Thank you, fM!

My favorite changes each year but is always the carol with the tune that dances in my mind or with lyrics that twirl in my brain.

This year I've chosen "The Sussex Carol," also known (at least to me) as "On Christmas Night All Christians Sing."  It may have been composed as early as the late 1600s and several variations of the lyrics exist.  The ones with this post were collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, probably in the early 1900s.  Below is the 2008 Choir of King's College singing the carol.  The lyrics follow.  I hope you sing along and enjoy.

                                       The Sussex Carol

                         On Christmas night all Christians sing
                         To hear the news the angels bring.
                         News of great joy, news of great mirth,
                         News of our merciful King's birth.

                         Then why should men on earth be so sad,
                         Since our Redeemer made us glad,
                         When from our sin he set us free,
                         All for to gain our liberty?

                         When sin departs before His grace,
                         Then life and health come in its place.
                         Angels and men with joy may sing
                         All for to see the new-born King.

                         All out of darkness we have light,
                         Which made the angels sing this night:
                         "Glory to God and peace to men,
                         Now and for evermore, Amen!"

Come carol with other family history bloggers.  Click through to footnoteMaven's post, fM's Tradition of Blog Caroling, where you can find links to others' favorites in the comments.

I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas!


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.  .

Saturday, December 10, 2016

FOR SALE--- Shopping Saturday

This classified ad was published in the Ohio newspaper, The Niles Standard, on Friday, December 19, 1941.  
FOR SALE—Kitchen cabinet,  $5;  por-
   celain sink, $2   Inquire Mrs. Robert
   Meinzen,  Mineral Ridge.        11-1t

It's always fun to find little notices like this in local newspapers contemporary to the lives of my ancestors.  Mrs. Robert Meinzen is my grandmother, the one who lived just a few doors down the street from my childhood home.

This notice causes me to imagine that my grandparents had recently updated their kitchen.  I imagine they didn't have a use for the porcelain sink and cupboard that had been removed and decided to sell them.  Had the updating of the kitchen been done during the previous week or had it taken longer?  It's possible the work was done by my grandmother's father and/or brother who were both carpenters.  What did the porcelain sink and kitchen cabinet look like?

Did they decide to sell these items at this time to have a little more money for Christmas gifts?  The value of $2.00 in 1941 is equal to $33.55 today.  The value of $5.00 in 1941 is equal in value to $83.87 today.  Looking at the December 19, 1941 issue of  The Youngstown Daily Vindicator I see that Gramma could have purchased enough food for a week or two of meals.  (Pearl Harbor had been bombed just 12 days before this ad was published:  rationing would not yet have been in place and food was plentiful.)  Or she could have purchased several items of clothing, but she would not have been able to buy any modern conveniences.

The biggest questions, of course, are whether Gramma was able to sell the sink and cupboard and, if she did sell them, whether she received her asking price. 

Gramma and Grampa had four daughters.  Two were already married at the time this ad was published; another would be married in February, 1942; and the last daughter, the youngest, was 13, turning 14 in 8 days.  With two daughters grown and living in their own homes, Gramma's budget would have been a little lighter than when feeding and caring for four daughters.

One of the daughters is still alive and it's possible she may remember the removal and sale of this porcelain sink and kitchen cupboard.  It's equally possible she won't remember, but I'll ask.  I have happy memories of being in Gramma's kitchen but she did not have a porcelain sink.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Child #4:  Sophia Kropp Spahn

Sophia is the fourth known child of Carl and Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp.  Sophia Meinzen Kropp may be my great-grandfather Henry Carl Meinzen's sister.

Sophia is the daughter who immigrated on the same ship as her parents when they came to American in September, 1887.

Sophia married John Spahn, Jr., on December 6, 1899, in Steubenville, Ohio.

Extracted information:
Date:  December 5, 1899
Groom:  John Spahn, Jr., 25 years old, resident of Steubenville, Ohio, born Schleghtem, Germany; is a dairyman; parents' names are John Spahn and Anna Zirgel.
Bride:  Sophia Kropp, 23 years old, resident of Steubenville, born Germany; father's name is Karl Kropp, mother's maiden name is Sophia Meinsen.

Record of Marriage Certificate No. 24505
The State of Ohio, Jefferson County, SS
     I hereby certify that on the 6" day of u A. D. 1899, Mr. John Spahn and Miss Sophia Kropp were legally joined in marriage by me, a minister at Steubenville County of Jefferson, and State of Ohio.  Given under my hand this 8" day of Dec. A. D. 1899A. Lange [signature].
The foregoing Certificate was returned and recorded December 8' 1899WMcSMiller [signature] Probate Judge.

Sophia and John's wedding was announced in The Steubenville Daily Gazette on November 23, 1905.  The announcement was on page 5, split into two columns, the bottom of column 4 and the top of column 5.  Sophia's maiden name is misspelled as Krupp.
A quiet but happy wedding was sol-
emnized at the parsonage of the Zion's
Lutheran Church at 4 o'clock Wednes-
day afternoon when Henry Krupp and
Miss Katie Spahn were joined for
life in the holy bonds of matrimony.
Rev. Schaer performed the ceremony.
Mrs. Minnie Shuette, sister of the
groom, and John Spahn, brother ofthe bride, attended the couple.  Imme-
diately following the wedding cere-
mony the bridal party were driven to
the home of John Spahn, in the coun-
try, where an elegant wedding supper
was served.  Only a few relatives and
intimate friends of the couple were
present.  The bride for the past ten
years has resided with her brother,
having come to this country about
ten years ago from Germany.  She has
become quite well known throughout
the country, and has a host of friends
that will wish her much happiness
and prosperity during her married
life.  Mr. Krupp is an enterprising
young farmer, and for several years
has operated a farm a short distance
west of the city.  He is well known in
this city and is highly respected.  The
young couple went to housekeeping at
once on the groom's farm, where they
are now at home to friends.
Sophia is the daughter with whom her parents lived until the time of their deaths.  They appear with her in the 1900 U.S. Census, and her mother appears with her in the 1910 and 1920 U.S. Census.

I have been unable to find a death certificate for Sophia Spahn but Find-A-Grave gives her death year as 1955.  She is buried in Union Cemetery, Steubenville, Ohio.

Observations and Comments

It's great to find a marriage record but I was disappointed not to find Sophia's exact birth date and place of birth.  Her mother's maiden name is spelled "Meinsen," a common variation.

The information in the marriage record and newspaper article do not agree.  The minister who signed the marriage record was A. Lange.  The newspaper notes that Rev. Schaer performed the marriage ceremony.

The newspaper article also talks about Mr. Krupp as "an enterprising young farmer... well known in the city and is highly respected."  I don't know if this is really about Mr. Spahn, Sophie's husband, or Mr. Henry Kropp, her brother.  John Spahn and Henry Kropp were both farmers.

This is an interesting case of siblings marrying siblings.  Sophie Kropp's brother, Henry Kropp, married Katie Spahn who is John Spahn's sister.

I have not researched Sophie and John Spahn's children.  Census records through the years list them; I have just not compiled a list nor performed any searches to find birth, marriage, or death information for them.  It's possible that one of their records could tell me Sophie Meinzen Kropp's birthplace which could lead to further records.  I'm undecided whether to pursue that information.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 2, 2016

My Parents

This is my favorite photo of my parents because they both look so genuinely happy.  It was taken sometime between 1948 and 1950.

I don't remember any time during my life when they looked as happy as in this photo.  For most of my childhood and young adult years I wasn't really sure they loved each other.  They just didn't seem close.

I think things changed when their last child (me) left home and it was just the two of them again.  It wasn't until my father died in 1987 that I realized how very much my mother loved my father.  She was devastated by his death and I don't think she ever really recovered from the loss.  They had been married 48 years, from September, 1938, until May, 1987.

My parents were strict, probably because they had high standards and high moral expectations for their children:  honesty in all things, obedience, respect for others, good manners, kindness, cleanliness, hard work, etc.  I suppose they are things many of my generation were taught at home.  I'm grateful to have had parents who cared enough to teach me the values they held in high esteem.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December Birthdays & Anniversaries

I think December would have been a hard month to have a newborn baby in the house, especially in the 1800s and early 1900s.  Christmases past may not have been as busy and hectic as they are now but keeping a baby warm in winter's cold and washing and drying diapers couldn't have been easy.

Of the individuals below, Emma Doyle (born 1886) and Hazel Doyle were sisters and Gust Doyle was their brother.  Tressa Hazel Doyle was Gust Doyle's daughter.  It was a busy month for the Doyles!

Living Relatives
December 25   Marty A.
December   4   Donald E. Davis

Direct Ancestors
December 19, 1911   Gust Doyle and Beulah Mae Gerner (my paternal grandparents)

Among My Collateral Lines
December   2, 1884   Emma Doyle
December   4, 1862   Susan Bickerstaff
December   6, 1924   William "Billy Joe" Gerner
December   9, 1891   Hazel Doyle
December 11, 1839   Eli Porter
December 12, 1900   Minnie Froman
December 15, 1875   Laura V. Thompson
December 15, 1893   Jacob Increase Meinzen
December 18, 1921   Tressa Hazel Doyle
December 19, 1872   John George Armitage
December 22, 1832   (Westley?) Scott Roe
December 24, 1871   Thomas Hardy and Ann Armitage
December 24, 1915   John Ellis Bickerstaff and Alice May Bickerstaff
December 25, 1886   Emma Doyle
December 25, 1888   William Turner and Catherine Froman
December 26, 1911   Charles Edward Sticker and Lula Bernesa Meinzen
December 27, 1896   Henry Carl Meinzen and Ella Dray
December 27, 1927   Pauline Mary (Polly) Meinzen
December 30, 1864   Elizabeth Jane Doyle

I'm offering warmest wishes to these relatives and ancestors on their special days.


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