Monday, June 12, 2017

Banner Week at Doyle's Berry Farm:  June 13, 1908

That banner week that ended Saturday, June 13, 1908, 600 bushels of strawberries were harvested at Doyle's Strawberry Farm in Stoneboro, Pa.  At that time the owner of the farm was William Doyle, my great-grandfather, known to family as Pap. 

Gust, my paternal grandfather and William's son, is the young man standing third from the right in the above photo.  The lady standing to the right of Gust (from our view) looks like his mother, Tressa (Froman) Doyle.  I believe William (short with a big mustache) is the man standing fifth from the left with the dark hat.  The man wearing a suit, white shirt, and bow tie was the "berry man," the one who made arrangements for transportation of the berries.

If you look closely you can see several carrier baskets with quarts of strawberries.  The man at right is sitting on what appears to be a nearly empty crate of quart strawberry baskets.  Another crate is beside it and empty crates are piled on the far left of the photo.

I've known for years that Dad's family had a strawberry "patch" but only upon finding this postcard did I realize what a misnomer the word "patch" is.  Strawberry farm is more accurate. 

The berries were recorded in bushels but were clearly neither collected nor transported in bushel baskets.  I try to imagine 600 bushels of strawberries, but can't quite.  Research tells me that one bushel of strawberries equals 32 quarts and 48 pounds.  Calculated further, 600 bushels of strawberries equals 19,200 quarts or 28,800 pounds.  Research did not help me find how many acres might have been needed to produce 600 pounds in one week.  My father's half-sister wrote that during Gust's stewardship of the farm there were two acres devoted to berries.  Could two acres produce 600 bushels of strawberries in one week?  Or were more acres planted with berries when William was the farm's owner?

It's hard to know how much income the berries brought to the Doyle family.  A great-aunt recalled payment of 1¢ per quart (worth about 27¢ now) for picking berries at about the time of these photographs.  Another aunt recorded that during her father Gust's time as the primary farmer, 25 years after this photo, berry pickers were also paid 1¢ per quart.   


After picking, the berries were transported by horse-pulled wagons to the train depot.  This photo shows "Berries arriving Stoneboro Depot, from Doyle's Farm."  Imagine transporting strawberries in June, 1908, at the slow speed of a train and without refrigeration.  How fresh could they have been upon arrival, even to Franklin, less than 20 miles away?

I gleaned a little more information about the farm from an article in a Stoneboro Anniversary pamphlet my mother saved.  The article was published in Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania, in 1962, but I don't have any publication information.

Strawberry Time In Stoneboro -- Remember?
     In days of yore Strawberry Time was a big event in the Stoneboro community.  Doyle's Berry Farm, located on the Fredonia Road on the outskirts of town was well-known throughout the area as the strawberry "patch."  The late William Doyle, a native of Cambois Colliery near Blythe, Northumberland, England, was owner of the farm, which employed many local citizens during berry picking time in late June and early July.  Many residents will recall picking berries for Mr. Doyle.
     The top picture, with a scene from the farm, notes the banner week of June 23 [sic], 1908, as producing 600 bushels.  Many local people are pictured, including Mr. Doyle and members of his family.  The man in the suit, white shirt, bow tie and hat is the "berry man" who came to the farm and made arrangements for shipping the berries.
     The bottom picture shows the produce arriving at the Stoneboro Railroad Station, in horse-drawn wagons, ready for shipments on trains to various points.  One of the destinations was Franklin [a distance of about 17 miles using today's roads], where a hotel maintained a standing order for the large "William-Belt" berries which were of such size that 18 filled a quart berry basket.  Among the men pictured at the station are the late George Proud, John Gustafson, John Berrisford, and Gust Doyle, son of William Doyle, the farm owner....

Both sepia photographs in this post were published by Bob Cowan on facebook in a collection of "38 Stoneboro photographs" with the note, "Photos scanned from my friend Lyda for your use and enjoyment."  (Click right and left arrows on facebook screen to see all Stoneboro photos.)  Lyda and I are cousins:  her grandmother, Liz Jane Doyle, and my great-grandfather, William Doyle, are siblings.  Thank you, Bob Cowan, for scanning and sharing Lyda's photos.

Strawberry season is nearly at its end in Ohio this season and I haven't picked a single berry.  I think I'll forego the picking and just eat them this year.  Whenever I eat strawberries I always think of my ancestors' Doyle Strawberry Farm.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. 
All Rights Reserved.
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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Recent Ancestors' Photographs I Don't Have - SNGF

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, suggested by Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings, is this:
Recent Ancestor Photographs

1)  Do you have photos of all of your ancestors back to the 1850 time frame?  Which recent ancestors do you not have a photograph of? 

2)  Review your files, and list the ancestors for whom you want and/or need to find a photograph.  Also list where they resided and where they died.  Where would you look to find a photograph of them?

3)  Share your answers on your own blog post (and leave a comment here with a link), or on Facebook or other social media.

These are the photos I have:
  • Lee and Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle, my parents
  • Gust and Beulah Mae (Gerner) Doyle, my paternal grandparents
  • W. C. Robert and Emma Virginia (Bickerstaff) Meinzen, my maternal grandparents
  • William and Tressa Rose (Froman) Doyle, paternal great-grandparents
  • Fredrick and Elvira (Bartley) Gerner, paternal great-grandparents
  • Henry Carl and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen, maternal great-grandparents
  • Edward Jesse and Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff, maternal great-grandparents
  • Andrew and Elizabeth Jane (Laws) Doyle, paternal 2rd great-grandparents (from a small group photo)
  • Dixon Bartley, paternal 2nd great-grandfather

I don't have photos of these 2nd great-grandparents:
  • John Froman, ~1841-~1871, died Mercer County, Pennsylvania
  • Catherine (Saylor) Froman, 1844-1928, died Mercer County, Pennsylvania 
  • Christian Gerner, ~1820-1899, Butler County, Pennsylvania
  • Mary/Elizbeth (Stahl) Gerner, ~1824-after 1880, of Butler County, Pennsylvania
  • Rebecca (Smith) Bartley, 1820-1899, Butler County, Pennsylvania
  • Carl Meinzen, no known dates, born Germany
  • Abel Armitage, 1821- after 1880, Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio
  • Eliza (Hartley) Armitage, ~1813 - btw. 1852-1858, West Riding Yorkshire, England
  • Ellis H. Bickerstaff, 1840-1907, Steubenville, Ohio, and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
  • Emma V. (Nelson) Bickerstaff, ~1845-1878, Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio
  • John Thomas Thompson, ~1850-1923, Jefferson County, Ohio
  • Lydia (Bell) Thompson, 1851-1930, Jefferson County, Ohio, and Wellsburg, Brooke County, West Virginia

I don't have photos of these known 3rd great-grandparents who died after about 1850:
  • Robert Laws, 1810-1881, Northumberland County, England
  • Elizabeth (Thompson) Laws, 1817-1886, Northumberland County, England
  • Jacob Saylor, ~1812-1870, Mercer County, Pennsylvania
  • William Bickerstaff, 1807-1893, Jefferson County, Ohio
  • Susan/Susannah (Holmes) Bickerstaff, 1830-1894, Jefferson County, Ohio
  • Robert Nelson, 1800-1875, Montgomery County, Illinois
  • Catherine (Watson) Nelson, 1806-1876, Montgomery County, Illinois
  • Jacob Thompson, 1820- after 1870, probably Jefferson County, Ohio
  • Mary (Richardson) Thompson, 1822- after 1880, probably Jefferson County, Ohio
  • Jacob Bell, 1824-1915, Jefferson County, Ohio
  • Lydia (Fithen) Bell, ~1826- after 1880, probably died Jefferson County, Ohio

Places to look for photographs (in no particular order):
> Find-a-Grave.  I've seen photos there before but not many earlier photographs.
> Family Old Photos.  Owner submitted photos; most require permission to copy and use
> Dead Fred.
> Mutual descendants (if they can be found)
> Google image search (or general search:  not everyone identifies photos with alt text)
> FamilySearch Family Tree (click Memory tab, then choose Gallery)
> local, county, and state genealogical societies where ancestors lived
> image collections at local libraries (such as vertical files)
> compiled family histories submitted by other genealogists to family history libraries
> newspaper searches (beginning about 1900) if ancestor was well-known in the community, or famous/infamous for some activity/action

Now I have even more searching to do for the 23 direct-line ancestors who could have been photographed during their lifetimes.  Thanks for the fun, Randy. 

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Monday, May 29, 2017

A Thank You to Our Fallen Heroes


On this Memorial Day, the day when we honor and remember those who died in service to our country while in the armed forces, my heart is full.

I hope the angel ears of our fallen heroes can hear my quiet thank you and know my heart's deep gratitude.  Their ultimate sacrifice blesses so many of us in so many ways.

Thank you.


--Nancy.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Using City Council Records in Your Family History Research

Searching city council records for an ancestor may be like searching for a needle in a haystack:  the volumes are generally unindexed and are handwritten.  But if you know an event date in which your ancestor was involved with the city, these records can offer additional details.  My ancestor filed a suit against the city and I was able to learn more about the outcome of that suit in the city council journals than through other records.  I also discovered that another ancestor and his business partner were hired to build a bridge for the city.  For me it was worth the search.

About these records
City council records are/may be available at FamilySearch among court records of the county where the city was located.  I checked two other county record collections at FamilySearch and didn't find any but FamilySearch continues add records to their online collection.  City council records may also be available at the physical county courthouse, city hall, or a historical society.  Some cities may be putting their own council records online.

Among other things, these records were created to detail the decisions the city council made concerning the operation and improvement of the city as well as about the handling of problems (such as suits filed against the city), and requests by citizens. 

These records were handwritten by the city clerk.  Some clerks' handwriting was easier to read than others' but since each clerk remained in office for a year or more you become familiar with the handwriting and it becomes easier to read after a few entries.

Using these records will feel like going back in time to when one read and searched pages of microfilm, or even further back in time to when one turned the physical pages of the county record books.  But you know how much easier it is to see a name on a written page when your eye is attuned to that one name?  It's that way with these records, so in some ways one can glance through the pages and the name will pop out.  Other times you may choose a serious perusal of the pages.  And sometimes, for me at least, it was just plain interesting to see what was happening in the city.

What you will definitely find
  • who the president and members of city council were
  • which committees were created by the council (e.g., finance, claims, markets, streets, etc.) and who was on each
  • city offices (weighmaster, city wardens, police, civil engineer, etc.)
  • who received money from the city and the amount, though not necessarily the purpose
  • who held government offices in the city

What you may find
  • who filed lawsuits against the city
  • when the city installed street lights and or changed from oil to gas
  • when bridges were built, who built them, and the cost
  • when roads and sidewalks were built and/or improved and with what material
  • which public buildings were torn down, which were built/rebuilt
  • when public water pipes were installed
  • when telephones were first installed in the city 

Reasons to read city council records
If you are interested in learning about the environment in which one of your ancestors, or a family of ancestors, lived, learned, and worked, I can't think of a better source of information.  City council records provide a history of a city in a way no other source can.  Combine them with a city map, a city directory, and old photographs or postcards for a more complete understanding of your ancestors' environment. 

Have you used city council records before?  Did you learn more about an ancestor?  Did you find them interesting?

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Searching for Abel Armitage in City Council Proceedings

Did Abel Armitage win his suit against the City of Steubenville or not?  He filed a case against the city because one night he fell into a trench that had been dug for water pipes.  The suit went to the Court of Common Pleas in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio.  Joyce Jonard Humphrey, another Armitage descendant, found several entries in the Court of Common Pleas journals but they left uncertainty in my mind as to the outcome of the results in court.

When I discovered that FamilySearch has published Council Proceedings of the City of Steubenville, I wondered if Abel's case might be mentioned in those records.  I decided to search these unindexed records one page at a time, beginning with the journal that covers the dates January, 1876 through March, 1882.  In them I finally found Abel and discovered the outcome of his hearing.

From the entry for March 16, 1880, journal page 314



     The solicitor presented a communication in regard to
the case of Able [sic] Armitage asgainst [sic] the city
asking for instructions as to taking the case to
the district court and recommending that the bill
of W. F. Campbell for reporting and transcribing
the testimony in the case be paid.  Mr. Garrett
moved the report be received and the recomend-
ations [sic] be adopted.  Carried.
     A petition from four witnesses in the Armit-
age case asking council to pay their fees was
read.  Mr. Garrett moved the amount be placed
on the appropriation ordinance.  Carried.

Notes and Comments
  • Where might W. F. Campbell's transcriptions be found?  They do not appear in images of the City Council proceedings.  Might they have been kept elsewhere and, if so, where might that be?  I'm sure they would be enlightening to read.
  • Wm. F. Campbell was listed in the next appropriation ordinance with the amount of $15.00.
  • Who were the four witnesses who petitioned the Council pay their fees?  In the next appropriation ordnance there are three individuals who were paid $ .75 each but it does not tell what the payment was for.  They are J. S. Smith, Lewis A. Veite, and James McKay.  What fees did the witnesses want paid?

From the entry for April 26, 1881, journal page 399



     The case of Able [sic] Armitage against
the City for $207.84 was on motion referred to
the committee on Claims.

From the journal entry for May 10, 1881, journal page 403 and 404



     An ordinance making appropriation passed
a first ready [reading] as follows  Be it ordained
by the counsel of the City of Steubenville That
there be and hereby is appropriate [sic] out of the monies
in the Treasury not otherwise approrpiate [sic] the
following Sums of money to the following [?]
herein after named namely . . .
               Abel Armitage        207.84
     [Not on image above.] It was moved and seconded that the ruls [sic] be
Suspended and the ordinance placed on its
final passage.  Ayes.... 12  nays none.
The rules being declared Suspend[ed] the ordinance
was placed on its final passage and adopted
as follows  Ayes .... 12  Nays none. 

Notes and Comments 
  • In the newspaper's first note about Abel's court case it reported that he requested $2,500.00 for damages.  If that's accurate, receiving less than 10% of that amount must have been disappointing.  The Inflation Calculator tells me the $207.84 that he received in 1881 would have equaled $5,243.72 in 2016.  Not a tiny sum, and yet $2,500.00 would have been equal to $63,073.93 in 2016.
  • From the time Abel filed the case in February, 1879, until its resolution in May, 1881, more than two years had passed.  Even with the settlement by the City Council on record there's no telling exactly when he received his money.
  • It's interesting to note that in the 1880 U.S. Census Abel was recorded as disabled. 
  • These records have not yet helped me learn Abel's death date but at least now I know he was still alive in May, 1881.

I will continue reading these records:  it seems that Abel's wife, Ann, may have also filed against the city, also for a fall, in November, 1881 with the case continuing until 1883.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Team of Fine Horses

I love finding little clips like this one in old newspapers.  They add color to the lives of my ancestors.  Henry Meinzen is my great-grandfather.  This article was published in the August 26, 1901, edition of the East Liverpool Evening News Review.


A team of fine horses belonging to Henry Meinzen ran off at Steubenville Saturday and caused great excitement.  The  driver  jumped from the wagon and escaped injury.  The horses ran at great speed for several blocks when one of them fell.  It was so badly hurt it had to be shot.

Always the questions.
How did this news reach East Liverpool but was not published in Steubenville newspapers (at least as far as my searches show)?

What caused the horses to run off?  Was the driver inattentive for a moment?  Had something frightened them?  How sad that one of them had to be put down -- sad for the horse and sad for Henry who would have had to replace the horse.

Was Henry the driver or someone else?  Henry would have been 64 in 1901.  If he was the one who jumped and was uninjured he was certainly more agile than I am!

Why take a team of horses into the city unless they were pulling a wagon rather than a cart or buggy?  Or perhaps it was a large and/or heavy carriage.  There were still 10 children living at home in 1900.   If a wagon, what was on the wagon?  In 1900 Henry was living in New Alexandria, a neighboring town to Steubenville, and was working as a gardener.  Had he brought fresh produce to town to sell?

I'll never have answers to these questions but nonetheless, they come to my mind.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Audrey Meinzen Doyle and her daughter
I have very few photographs of just my mom and me together.  Most are group family photos, and I believe there are only three or four of those.

So I cropped us out of two family photos to make this little collage.  These were both taken at Christmas time.  I was nearly a year in the one on the left, nearly two in the one on the right.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

--Nancy.
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Saturday, May 6, 2017

I Write Like . . . . - SNGF

I'm coming late to the party but this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, proposed by Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings, was just too enticing to ignore.  He suggested that we
  1. Find something that you have written that you are really proud of - the best of your work.  Do an Edit > Copy of it.
  2. Go to the website http://iwl.me/ [I Write Like] and Paste your text into the waiting box.
  3. Tell us which famous author you write like.  Write it up in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog, or post it on Facebook.  Insert the "badge of honor" in your blog if you can.

For the fun of it I decided to copy and paste several blog posts.  I personally feel like I have somewhat different styles of writing depending on the topic and whether I have an emotional connection, am sharing first-hand memories, writing a factual post, etc.  Below are the results.

Two posts were in the style of Agatha Christie. 
Agatha Christie was a British crime writer of who also wrote romance stories under the name Mary Westmacott.  She is best known for her detective stories, especially those featuring Miss Marple.  According to Guinness Book of World Records she is the best-selling novelist of all time.  (Which brings me to the question:  If I write like Agatha Christie why do I have so few readers?  Ha!)


 Two other posts were in the style of Anne Rice.
Anne Rice is an American author of metaphysical Gothic fiction, Christian literature, and erotica.  She is one of the most widely-read authors in modern history.


In other posts I write like James Joyce.
James Joyce was a modern, avant-garde writer from Ireland, considered one of the most influential of his time.  His most famous work was Ulysses, written in 1922.  Other works include Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners


I learned the last bit of writing I submitted was written like Arthur Clarke.
Arthur Clarke is a British science fiction author, and inventor.  His best-known book is 2001:  A Space Odyssey

Considering the speed of the analysis at I Write Like I suspect the accuracy of these results.  I imagine the more written works I submit the more variety there would be in the results.  Still, accurate or not, it was a fun exercise.  Thanks, Randy.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 30, 1880, Common Pleas Court Record of Abel Armitage

In the previous post concerning Abel Armitage's suit against the City of Steubenville, Ohio, on March 12, 1880, it seemed that the case had been settled in Abel's favor for $150.00.  But this entry in a Common Pleas Court journal of Jefferson County appears to be part of the same case.


April 30, 1880
Abel Armitage                 |
v.                                    |>   Civil Action
The City of Steubenville   |

This day came the said defend-
ant and presented his certain R ??? [Rule?] of Exceptions
taken on the trial of their Cause :  and the s??? [same?] is allowed Signed
and sealed by the Court and ordered to be placed on file with the
pleadings and made a part of the record in this case.
Thoughts and Questions
The earlier court journal entry stated that the court favored the plaintiff (Abel) and assessed his damages at $150.00.  So why was Abel back in court on April 30, 1880?  Was he unhappy with the amount?  (Or, as reader Wendy suggested, the defendant, the City of Steubenville, may have been unhappy with the settlement.)

What is a "Rule of Exception" (assuming that's what it says)?

This court journal entry and the one in the previous post are the only two for Abel -- or at least the only two that have been found.  The next ones, dating a year or two later, are for his wife, Ann.

Many thanks to Joyce Jonard Humphrey for providing the image.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved. .

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Common Pleas Court Record for Abel Armitage, 12 March 1880

In February I posted newspaper articles noting Abel Armitage's appearance in the Common Pleas Court of Jefferson County, Ohio.  In March, I posted the results of my searches to find where the court records of those cases might be.

Now, in April, I'm happy to report that Joyce Humphrey, another descendant of Abel (and his second wife, Ann), went to the Jefferson County Genealogical Society office, searched the journals, and found some records.  She noted that the newspaper dates were not consistent with the docket and journal entries she found.  (Reminder to self:  Never take a newspaper article as absolute truth.)  I'm transcribing only the journal entries in this post.  She gave me permission to post and share these documents.  Thank you, Joyce!

The first image of a journal entry is for Abel Armitage vs. The City of Steubenville and is dated March 12, 1880.


Journal page 23
March Term 1880

Friday March 12" 1880  8½ oclock A.M.
Court met pursuant to adjournment
Present Hon. James Palnick Jr. Judge

Abel Armitage                  }
v.                                     }     Civil Action Verdict
The City of Steubenville   }
The jury heretofore impanneled and
sworn to try this cause, after hearing the evidence
arguments of counsel and charge of the Court return to open Court the
following verdict in [uniting touch?]:  We the jury in this case being duly
impanneled [sic] and sworn do find for the plaintiff and assess his damages
at the sum of One hundred and fifty ($150) dollars  E. H. McFeely [?] Foreman.

Notes and Comments
Is this the case that was announced in the February 14, 1879, issue of The Steubenville Weekly Herald.  At that time Abel was asking for $2,500.00 in damages.

The notice in the March 5, 1880, issue of The Steubenville Weekly Herald gave the court date as March 11.  Was the court so busy on the 11th that Abel's hearing was postponed until March 12?  Did this necessitate his being in court both days?

In this case Abel was awarded the sum of $150.00.  The Inflation Calculator tells me that $150.00 in 1880 was equal to about $3784.00 in 2016. 

Was he able to collect the money from the City of Steubenville?  Steubenville's City Council journals are available online at FamilySearch.  When I browsed through them a month ago I was impressed with how much detail they contained.  Perhaps there is a record of money being paid to Abel. 

If this case was settled in 1880, Abel and/or his wife must have filed at least one more case against the City of Steubenville.  The last image Joyce sent dates to 1883.

This is the first of several more court records I'll post.  Thanks again to Joyce Humphrey for sharing so generously.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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