Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp's 1920 Ohio Death Certificate

Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp was a surprise when I found her obituary at MyHeritage, naming my great-grandfather, Henry Meinzen, as her brother.  I'll continue to research her and her family to confirm the relationship.  My first step was to find and transcribe her death certificate.  At the end of this transcription are comments and thoughts about what I found.
Death Certificate of Sophia (Meinzen) KroppBelow is the information I extracted from Sophia's 1920 Ohio Certificate of Death.

  1  Place of Death:     Cross Creek Township, Jefferson County
  2  Full name:     Sophia Kropp
      Residence:     West Market Rd.
  3  Sex:     Female
  4  Color or race:     White
  5  Marital status:     Widowed
      Husband:     Carl Kropp
  6  Date of birth:     Sept. 4, 1842
  7  Age     78 Years  2 Days
  8  Occupation:      Housekeeper
  9  Birthplace     Germany
10  Name of father:     Deidrick Meinzen
11  Birthplace of father:     Germany
12  Maiden name of mother:     Don't Know
13  Birthplace of mother:     [blank]
14  Informant     Mrs. John Spahn, Steubenville, O.
15  Filed     9/7, 1920      Registrar  Chas T. Beans
16  Date of death:     Sept 6, 1920
17  Cause of death:     apoplexy
18  Signed:  Thos. M. Kirk, Coroner, M.D. on Sept. 27, 1920, Steubenville, O.
19  Burial:     Union [Cemetery],  September 8, 1920
20  Undertaker:     D. F. Coe, Steubenville, O.

Comments, Thoughts, Observations

Sophia's father's surname was transcribed as Munzen at FamilySearch.  When I looked closely at the image this is what I saw:
I believe I clearly see a dotted "i" and "Meinzen."

As for Sophia's father's given name:  Henry Carl Meinzen's father's name was recorded as "Carl" (probably spelled Karl in German) in various records, including family records.  I know that in the German naming system it was not uncommon to give male children in the family the same first name and a different middle name and use the middle name as a call name.   Is it possible that Sophia and Henry are siblings and their father's given names were Carl Deidrick or Deidrick Carl?  If I depend on their fathers' names declared in various records in the U.S. I may never find enough information to solve this mystery.

I think it's interesting that the coroner signed the death certificate.  I have heard that when he does it often suggests that an autopsy was performed.  Some later death certificates have autopsy as a box to check but that was not a question in 1920.

Henry Carl Meinzen was born in 1837, Sophia in 1842.  Those dates align for them to be siblings, with another one or two between them.

I am very hopeful that Sophia is Henry's sister and that this information leads me to their parents and siblings.  My next searches will include:
  • Census records for Sophia and her family to see what information I can find.  Perhaps they lived near Henry and Elizabeth.
  • Naturalization records for Carl Kropp.  They may show Henry Meinzen as a witness to Carl's having living in the U.S. the required number of years.
  • Immigration information, including passenger lists
  • Newspaper articles.  They may show Carl and Sophia Kropp as guests at weddings and other family events.  Online searches may also reveal news articles about the Kropps.
  • Other resources?


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Henry Meinzen's Sister? In Steubenville?

In a previous post I mentioned that I'd found a newspaper article in which Henry Meinzen, my great-grandfather, was listed as a brother.  (Henry is the one great-grandfather for whom I've been unable to find his parents or any siblings.)  The article was published in the September 9, 1920, issue of the Steubenville Herald.  Until reading this obituary I had no indication that Henry had a sibling living in Steubenville, or in the United States, for that matter. 

This is the obituary.

                  Mrs. Sophia Kropp
         Mrs. Sophia Kropp, widow of Carl
     Kropp entered into rest at the home
     of her daughter Mrs. John Spahn on
     West Market street, at 7:30 o’clock
     Monday morning, September 6.  She
     had celebrated her seventy-eighth
     birthday on Saturday.  Although a
     sufferer from heart trouble for some
     time past and in failing health for
     the past two years, her death came
     suddenly, she being fatally stricken
     on Sunday.  She failed to rally from
     this heart attack and slept peaceful-
     ly away at the hour above mention-
     ed.  The deceased was born in Ger-
     many and was married in that coun-
     try in 1861 to Carl Kropp.  They
     came to America in 1887 and settled
     here.  Her husband passed away about
     fifteen years ago since which
     time Mrs. Kropp has been making
     her home with her daughter.  She
     was a member of Zion Lutheran
     Church, was well known and held in
     high esteem in Steubenville and
     throughout the county.  She is sur-
     vived by two daughters, Mrs. John
     Spahn and Mrs. Minnie Schuetto and
     one son William Kropp, all of this
     city and one brother Henry Meinzen
     also of this city.

Notes, Thoughts, Comments

Granted, little family history information came along from my grandfather Meinzen's side of the family.  His older sister, Mina, was the one to whom he referred when anyone asked about his family.  But my mom visited Aunt Mina on a regular basis and you'd think some mentioned would have been made of Mina's father Henry having a sister living in the same city.  Even in Henry's obituary the only sibling mentioned is a brother, Carl, living in Germany.

Were Henry and Sophia close?  Maybe not.  Just three months before this obituary was published Henry lost his wife, Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen.

Zion Lutheran Church was the church Henry attended.  It had been a German language church until sometime in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

In a newspaper article about Isabella Meinzen's marriage I noticed that Mr. and Mrs. Carl Cropp attended as well as Messrs. Henry and Will Kropp.  Were members of the Kropp/Cropp family at weddings of Isabella's siblings?  I'll check any marriage announcements to see.

I found Sophia's death certificate.  I'll post that soon.


Copyright © 2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Very Pretty Home Wedding - Wedding Wednesday

Isabella is the fifth child and second daughter of  Henry and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen.  She was born in 1880.  It was a pleasant surprise to find an article about her wedding in a Steubenville newspaper.  While this article doesn't give me new information about Isabella it is an additional source for her marriage and it lists attendees at the wedding which may prove helpful in the future.

Isabella's name had several variations during her lifetime including Marie Isabella, Isabelle, Marie Isabelle, Marie Isabel, Marie Belletto, Marie B., and Belle.  To relatives she was Belle.

    A very pretty home weddding was sol-
    emnized at the home of Mr. and Mrs.
    Henry Meinzen on Wednesday, Nov.
    20, at 11:30 A.M., when their daughter,
    Isabella, was united in marriage to
    Benj. R. Hashman, of Calais, O.  The
    attendants were Misses Lena Dreyer
    and Hannah Meinzen, sister of the
    bride, and Messrs. Joe Hashman,
    brother of the groom, and Walter Mein-
    zen, brother of the bride.  The cere-
    mony was performed by the Rev. Aug.
    Bender.  The bride was attired in white
    Bedford cord, trimmed in chiffon and
    ribbon.  After the ceremony the guests
    retired to the dining room where an
    elegant repast was awaiting.  The bride
    received many valuable gifts.
    Those present were:  Mr. and Mrs.
    Carl Cropp, Mr. and Mrs. Henry
    Shuette, Mr. and Mrs. John Spahn, Mr.
    and Mrs. Koontz, of Steubenville; Mr.
    Chauncey King and Mr. Jacob Hash-
    man, of Calais, Ohio; Mr. and Mrs.
    Thomas Hardy, of Mingo, O.; Mrs.
    Thomas Hardy and sons Robert, Peter,
    William and Jacob, of Brilliant, Ohio;
    Miss Mary E. Hashman, of Wheeling,
    W. Va.; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Meinzen,
    Jr.; Misses Lena Woltjen, Kate Rock-
    lege, and Mrs. Bender, of Steubenville,
    O.; Misses Jennie and Anna Castner, of
    Wills Creek; Messrs. Henry and Will

Notes and Thoughts
A mid-week, 11:30 a.m. wedding seems unusual to me, but perhaps it's just the times in which I live when most weddings take place on Saturdays.

This gives me a good idea of Belle and family's friends, neighbors, and possible relatives.  It may be worth comparing who was at this wedding with who attended other weddings in the family.

I try to imagine hosting this many people to a sit-down meal in my home and can not.  It would have required immense effort considering that there was no refrigeration as we know it and cooking was probably done on a wood-burning stove.  How many women worked to prepare this meal?

The only siblings named as attendees were Belle's older sister, Hannah, and her brother and sister-in-law, Mrs. and Mrs. Henry Meinzen.  Belle's younger siblings included Walter, 18; Mina, 15; Lula, 14; Bertha, 13; Robert, 11; Jacob, 7; and Naomi, 2.  Did they attend the wedding?  Several of the girls were old enough to help with preparations, serving, and childcare. 

Once again, I wish I had a photo of the young Isabella in her wedding gown with her husband, her bridal party, and her parents.

This article, found at MyHeritage (but currently not available there) was published in the Steubenville Herald on November 29, 1901, page 6.


Copyright © 2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

When You Find It, Save It - Tuesday's Tip

When I began working on my family history in earnest in 2006 I used Ancestry at a local Family History Center because it was free.  The Center director showed me how to save images to a flash drive and move them to my desktop at home.

At some point in this education I questioned the need to save all the documents right now.  As a new researcher I found many each time I visited, so many that I was beginning to feel overwhelmed.  I assumed that since Ancestry was free then, it would continue to be free in the future and I could easily save the documents later.  In wisdom my friend suggested that what was available then may not always be available.  To myself I scoffed at the idea.  But within a year or two the Family History Centers no longer had free access to Ancestry.  My friend was right.  (Ancestry is once again currently available at no cost at the Family History Centers but that could change again at any time.)

It may not happen often but access to online collections comes and goes, whether at a paid site or free.  Some collections are removed never to return.  Some free-access collections move to paid sites.  We can't assume that next year things will be like they are today.

Save the image of any document you find online that furthers your family history research including
  • birth records
  • death records
  • marriage records
  • wills and probate files
  • property records
  • maps
  • tax records
  • newspaper articles
  • draft registration cards
  • military service records
  • pension files
  • and many more 

All of it!  Save every image!  If you see it now, save it now.  You may not have easy access to it again.  And don't forget to record citation information.

Additional suggestions from comments to this post
  • Right click on an image and click save to save an image to your computer, not just to your online tree.   If the company that hosts your tree goes south or you don't want to pay for a subscription any longer, you won't have the images of those documents.  From Linda Stufflebean of Empty Branches on the Family Tree.
  • When others give you documents, photographs, or any other family history information (either digitally or on paper), record who gave it to you including name and contact information.  If photographs be sure to record who's in the photograph if that's known.  We think we'll remember in a few years but we may not.  From Wendy of Jollette Etc.


Copyright © 2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved. .

Monday, June 20, 2016

Last Ditch Effort

In a last ditch effort to take advantage of the newspapers on MyHeritage before they go away on June 21, I spent some time yesterday and today searching for several ancestors.

I found this "blurb" for an article in a Steubenville, Ohio, newspaper where my great-grandfather Henry Meinzen lived.

You know how the text example is sometimes/often garbled.  It is in this, too, but there's a string of words that stood out to me, just before the highlighted "Henry Meinzen."  Here's a transcription in case you can't read it.

     "... of this llnson on an auto trip to Pittsburgh ' city and one brother Henry Meinzen
     to attend the golden wedding anni-' also of this city, versary of their parents, Mr.' and
     J. C. "Stills, congratulatings from a Dr..."

When I saw "one brother Henry Meinzen" my eyes perked up.  (Yes, sadly, I jumped to the conclusion that this transcription of four words appeared in the newspaper in exactly this sequence.)  You know how fast your brain works out a problem like this.  There were two Henry Meinzens living in Steubenville in 1920.  It took me only a second or two to know this was not the younger Henry Meinzen because he was a brother to 14 siblings, several of whom were still alive.  Had the article been about one of the younger Henry's siblings, the wording would have been different.

But the older Henry Meinzen?  I've been looking for his family since 2006 without success.  All I know about his family of origin has come from family information and his 1925 obituary that tells me he had one brother, Karl, still in Germany and that his father's name was Karl.  So what's this about "one brother Henry Meinzen?"

Could this be the long-searched-for family member I've been hoping to find, one of Henry's siblings?  Right there in Steubenville, too, since it's a Steubenville newspaper?  And how could Henry's sibling never have been mentioned among family resources/records/memories if he/she lived in Steubenville?  But perhaps this is an error in the newspaper, or in the "blurb." 

Don't you love OCR -- optical character recognition?  It would have taken me years of reading newspapers, both the paper kind or on microfilm, to find these four words in a string.  I can hope those four words are together in the printed newspaper.  I can hope this leads me to some helpful information.

I'm so glad I chose to spend time today on this last ditch effort.  Perhaps it will take me one step closer to Henry's family of birth.  Perhaps.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

On a Dare or to Prove a Point?

Perhaps it was a dare.  Or maybe one of us suggested that Dad was too old and couldn't possibly do a somersault on the bar of the swing set.  It wouldn't have been like him to accept a dare but it would have been like him to prove a point:  at 44 he could still do what his youngest daughter could do. 

I was the one who, at 6 or 7 years old, could hang by my knees and swing, hang by my ankles and pull myself up to sitting, and do somersaults on the bars of the swing set.  My sister and brother were both too old to be interested in the swings when I was that age.  But there we all were outside one summer evening watching Dad do a somersault.  Was it I who ran inside to grab the camera?

I suspect that if my father were still alive and saw this post he might not be too pleased.  But honestly, how many 44-year-old men can still do a somersault from the top bar of a swing set?  It's an accomplishment worthy of remembrance, right?

I'm hoping my brother or sister might chime in on this photo and share their memory of the event.  Maybe one of them will remember the whole story.

Note:  My brother responded to this photo with the following note.  "This happened around the time was about 18 or so.  I thought I'd 'show Dad a thing or two.'  I did a back flip on the swing set and was pretty proud of my ability and agility as well.  Turned out Dad was more agile than me at his age than I."  Thanks for the clarification, Bob!
I'm linking this post to Sepia Saturday 334.  Click over to see what photos others are sharing this week.


Copyright © 2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June Celebrations Among Relatives and Ancestors

June already!  How time flies.

This month I'm celebrating the births of my sweet daughter, one of my dear grandsons, as well as a cousin.  Happy Birthday!

This is also the month my mom was born.  She shares a birthday with my father's paternal grandmother's mother.  (Did you follow that?)  My mom would not have known Catherine Saylor Froman but my father lived in the same community as she did and was 15 when she died.  How I wish he'd talked about her.

Living Family Members
June 12    Malachi Michael D.
June 18    Dolly M.
June 19    Brenna M.

Foremothers and Forefathers
June  5, 1915    Audrey Victoria Meinzen, my mom
June  5, 1844    Catherine Saylor, a paternal grandmother

Among My Collateral Lines
June   1, 1899    Ray E. Davis
June   1, 1924    Bessie Louise Gerner
June   3, 1922    Glen L. (Moe) Morris
June   5, 1873    Lulu M. Smith
June   6, 1882    Frank B. Riss
June   8, 1908    Leonard Miller Fair
June 15, 1927    Margie J. Bickerstaff
June 17, 1849    Elizabeth R. Thompson
June 17, 1884    Bessie Leota Gerner
June 17, 1887    Fred Doyle
June 20, 1862    Laura Bell
June 20, 1897    Ethel M. Knox
June 21, 1838    Margaret Laws
June 23, 1894    Netta or Meta Mildred Gerner
June 24, 1882    Ella Knapp
June 24, 1903    Edward G. Gerner and Ella Knapp
June 26, 1898    John H. Froman
June 26, 1905    Lydia Ann Troyer
June 26, 1913    Chauncey Edward Leathers and Emma Doyle
June 28, 1906    Walter Meinzen and Nellie Elizabeth Leonhart
June 29, 1917    Edward Morris and Mary Ellen Bickerstaff

Happy Birthday, Happy Annniversary.


Copyright © 2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Always Remember to Never Forget

With gratitude to those who gave their all
to preserve freedom for so many.  You are remembered.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

When Dixie Paper Meets Family History

I thought this commercial was too fun.  (You never know when family history
will be the topic of conversation.)


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Dark Time in American History

I spent part of the months of April and May in what may be one of the darkest times in America’s past:  I was reading The Witches: Salem, 1692.  I came upon it while browsing the new books at my local library.  It was standing on the shelf, prominently placed at eye level.  I passed over it the first time but then remembered it was Women's History Month, picked it up for a quick flip through the pages, and took it home -- where it sat until mid-April.

I knew of the Salem witch trials but little about them until reading this book.  If that is the case with you and you only want a brief overview of that time and those events, I suggest you view Wikipedia's article Salem witch trials.  If, on the other hand, you'd like to delve deeply into the times, events, and lives of the people in Salem Village and several surrounding towns in 1692-1693, you might appreciate The Witches.

Nearly 80 people are introduced in the book, each with a story that weaves in and out of events and touches on the stories of others throughout the 400+ pages of text.  Individuals include ministers, villagers, accusers, accused, authorities, and skeptics.  (If you think you might need a cheat sheet, start it early.  A person identified on one page may appear again several paragraphs and six pages later, or a chapter or two later.)

As Schiff chronicles the events of the trials and their aftermath, she tells the background and history of individuals and their interactions in the community.  The reader learns about property sales and purchases, disputes over boundary lines, longstanding debts, etc.; court proceedings; marriages, deaths, and remarriages among families; interactions and feuds between different families and their ancestors; occupations; wealth and poverty and its rise and fall; and of the church's previous and current ministers and the difficulties they faced with their parishioners.  In short, nearly all aspects of life in that time and place are covered to some extend:  society, environment, religion, law, transportation, etc.  

A few things I learned from this book are that
  • Puritans may not have been as pure as one might imagine.  The behavior of some were not what I would call Christlike.  They believed in the Bible but they also subscribed to sorcery, superstition, and witchcraft to explain what they did not understand (even down to bruises on the arm).
  • To be accused of witchcraft and claim innocence was almost certain to land one in jail, or worse; to admit to witchcraft and repent may have saved one's life.
  • Torture was not omitted in the effort to obtain an admission of guilt.
  • Life was hard in the 1690s; life in prison was miserable.  Even small children were chained in dungeons.
  • One represented one's self in court.  The point of a trial was to establish the guilt of the accused, not to determine the facts.

Having read the book I still have a hard time understanding how things could have gone so far awry.  From the perspective of more than 300 years I can't help but wonder why they didn't question the initial accusers, 9- and 11-year-old girls.  And yet, I remind myself, people of that time did not have the advantage of psychology to help them understand the behavior of others or scientific knowledge to understand the world around them.  I kept hoping that a simple explanation for the accusations of witchcraft would be revealed -- rotten potatoes that caused bad dreams or some drug found in the water that caused hallucinations.  It wasn't until near the end that Schiff discussed possible explanations for behaviors and actions.

Aside from the witch trials, this book presented plenty of detail about life in that time period.  If you are interested in social history and happen to have ancestors from Salem (Village or Town) in the late 1600s, or even if you've found ancestors living in that time period in another place in America, you may be interested in this book.  It reinforced to me the ease of our lives in the 21st century; a gratitude for the freedoms we have in the United States; and a deeper appreciation for the wonders of modern sciences.  I'm grateful not to have lived through that dark time in America.


Copyright © 2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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