Monday, September 28, 2009

Celebrating Grampa Fred's 1848 Birth-Day

My great-grandfather Fredrick K. Gerner was born on or about September 29, 1848, in Mannheim, Germany (as near as I can tell from family sources and research). He came to the U.S. at the ripe age of 4 years, though I've been unable to identify with certainty the ship on which he came and with whom. It was possibly the "Cotton Planter" but, as usual, more research is necessary. Can you imagine that voyage - 4 years old travelling on a ship across the Atlantic Ocean in 1852?!

Fred Gerner is the father of Beulah Gerner who is the mother of Lee Doyle, my father. Fred's wife is Elvira (Bartley) Gerner.

I always wondered what Fred and Elvira looked like. We didn't grow up with family stories or photographs of them. For some reason I envisioned Fred as tall with a shock of dark hair and a moustache. When I began working on our family history, I sought out some of his known descendants and found a grandson, Donald, a son of Brendice Gerner who is another daughter of Fred and Elvira. I had heard there were tintypes of Fred and Elvira and that perhaps Don had them. No, he didn't, but he had lots of other photos which he very generously gave me. This is one of them. I was very, very surprised to see Fred and Elvira.

Fred and Elvira are in the center of this photograph with 12 of their 16 children beside and behind them. (Don't you love Elvira's beautiful mound of snowy white hair?!) This was taken about 1910, possibly as early as 1908, a guess based on the clothing styles and the estimated ages of some of the children in the photograph.

I suppose you want to know who's who? I'm only going to tell you who some of the children are, and you have to guess which one is my Gramma Beulah. On the left at front is Della, one of Beulah's older sisters. On the far right is Brendice, Beulah's younger sister. Mabel, another of Beulah's older sisters, is beside Elvira. In the back row on the left are twins Alonzo and Alfonzo. They went by Lon and Fon, sometimes spelled Lawn and Fawn. I chuckle when I look at them and then at Fred. I don't know if they are teasing him or imitating him or naturally learned to stand in the stance of their father with his arms folded. All three have arms folded in the same direction. Personally, when I look at the expressions on Lon's and Fon's faces, I think they are teasing their dad just a little.

The original photograph from which this scan was made is just a hint over 2" x 4", so it's very, very small. It's also more in the tan and cream color range than the sepia to black and white range. Still, I'm very, very thrilled and grateful to have it.

Fred was born 161 years ago when photography was a new idea. Now, these many years later, not only is photography common, but we take photographs in a second (instead of having to hold a pose for a minute or more) and can do it without film or paper. I'm grateful for the technology that allows me to make copies of photographs and put them on a blog where others can look at and appreciate them. Enjoy!

P.S. If you want to know which of the females is Beulah, leave a question in the comment section.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Henry and the Six Surviving Children

What a sad family. I think this photo was taken at or soon after the death and funeral of Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen in June, 1920. Henry, Elizabeth's husband, sits in the center of the photo surrounded by his and Elizabeth's six surviving adult children (of 15 born to Henry and Elizabeth).

Around Henry, beginning from the left, are Mina, Naomi (half hidden), Henry, W. C. Robert, Belle, and Lula. Henry is the oldest of the children, born in 1870, and Naomi is the youngest, born in 1898 or 1899.

This is another of the photocopies from the box from Aunt Polly.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Probably Henry & Elizabeth Meinzen's Daughters

This black and white photocopy was in the box from Aunt Polly. There were no identifiers on it. No names, no dates. But because it was with some other photocopies of people we know are Meinzen kin, I'm assuming that these ladies are Henry & Elizabeth's daughters. In fact, three of them look like Meinzens to me!

It's an interesting photo. Taken in a rural setting, 2 of the ladies seem to be sitting on the ground, one on a stool, and one is standing. The lady who's standing has her foot on a cloth on the knee of the lady on the left who seems to be fixing the hem of the standing lady's skirt. What a pose for a photograph. Why this pose in this rural setting? Is there some humor we're missing? Was there some joke between these ladies? Is there a story to go with this photograph? Who was the photographer? Was he or she an amateur or new to photography and is that why the subjects of the photograph are not in or near the center of the picture? I wish I had details about this photo - people, setting, context, story, etc.

Based on the clothing and hair styles, I believe this photo was taken between 1900 and 1908. That's a fairly wide date range, but it's a start. More research to do.

Henry & Elizabeth had 6 living daughters. All of them would have been alive in 1900 and in 1908. Hannah would have been 25 or 33; Isabelle would have been 20 or 28; Mina, 15 or 23; Lula, 13 or 21; Bertha, 12 or 20; and Naomi, 2 or 10.

So which sisters could these be? All 3 of the women definitely have the Meinzen look to them. The girl in front looks less like a Meinzen. The lady on the left looks older than the others. Could she be Hannah? Could the lady at the back be Aunt Mina or Aunt Belle? And Aunt Lula the lady standing? What about the girl in front? Bertha in 1900? Or Naomi in 1908? The girl looks older than 10, so it's probably not Naomi.

Perhaps it's a mystery I'll never solve, though perhaps some Meinzen relative, a descendant of one of the women in the photo, will find this blog post and recognize a great-grandmother based on some other family photograph. That's my hope!

For anyone who's interested, here's information about Henry's and Elizabeth's daughters:

Hannah, b. 13 Feb 1875, m. 27 Mar 1907, d. 4 Sep 1910 from having 3 daughters in 3 years (so states her death certificate).
Marie Isabella, (Aunt Belle), b. 28 Aug 1880, m. 20 Nov 1901, d. 1 Sep 1967.
Elizabeth Wilhelmina, (Aunt Mina), b. 26 Jan 1885, m. 1910, d. 14 Mar 1986.
Lula Bernesa, (Aunt Lula), b. 20 Jan 1887, m. 26 Dec 1911, d. 27 Oct 1979.
Bertha, b. 7 Oct 1888, m. 11 Jul 1906, d. 14 May 1918 from facial erysipelas (a form of strep) with a contributory cause of carbuncle (so says her death certificate).
Naomi Faye, (Aunt Naomi), b. 22 May 1898/1899, m. 2 Sep 1916, d. 2 Dec 1979.

Aunt Polly Meinzen

Aunt Polly looks young and fresh in this photo. Not as I remember her.

I love looking at photos of youthful people. They often have such clear, innocent, pure eyes. Fresh, joyful, full of expectation and anticipation for the future. Older eyes sometimes seem harder, sadder. They have a knowledge of the realities of life. They seem to reflect the realization that life doesn't go as one imagined it. It's a rare person (maybe someone who's senile?) whose aged eyes can reflect the innocence and joy of youth.

I like this photo of Aunt Polly. I wish she'd finished closer to where she started.

Pauline Mary Meinzen was born on 27 December 1927 and passed away 21 May 2005. She was the daughter of William Carl Robert and Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen. She ignored "Pauline" and preferred to be called "Polly."

Fun at the Beach

I don't know which beach this is or what year. Considering the cars in the background, it had to be late 1940s or possibly very early 1950s.

I can identify the child as David and the two men as Grampa Meinzen and Bill Dray. It looks like they were having fun.

I think these are really unsual photos because Grampa Meinzen is smiling. I don't remember him smiling much, and never laughing.

Don't you love Grampa's old swimsuit?!

I think some of the older cousins might remember this particular event or ones similar to it.

Nelson Ledges, Ohio, July 4, 1954

On the left side of the table from front to back (including even partial faces) is Aunt Jerree (Meinzen), Rex and Jeree Lee Foulk, Aunt Dot, Belinda, Nancy's tiny head just behind Belinda's shoulder, and Lee Doyle. Going around to the other side of the table from the back is Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle, Bob and Marsha, Bill Dray, Grampa Meinzen (whose hat shows more his face) and the side of Gramma Meinzen's face.

In the photo on the right below is Belinda, and in the one below that, from left, Jeree Lee Foulk, Belinda, Doris, and Bill Dray.

Aunt Dot and Vi Noel

On the top left is Vi Noel. The rest are Aunt Dot. I have no guess the year. I notice that the first two photos have the same background. I wonder if they were taken at one of the little photobooths where we used to be able to get a strip of photos for 25 cents or a dollar.

Gramma Meinzen's Dogs

In later years Gramma had several dogs but Dixie is the only one I remember. I think Dixie is the light colored one in 3 of the photos. Aunt Polly is on the couch with one of the dogs.

David and Belinda

Belinda in the top two photos. The one on the right is probably from the 1956-57 school year. David in the bottom photos. Different locations, different times.

Belinda & David

Don't you love that little swim cap?!

Photos probably taken about 1952 and 1951, respectively.

Belinda, about 1950

Two Christmases - Belinda & David

Belinda, possibly about 1958. Belinda and David, possibly about 1955.

Back to Business - more photos from "the Box"

On the left is Aunt Polly Meinzen with Belinda and David. Probably taken about 1951.

On the right is William Carl Robert "Bob" Meinzen with David. Probably taken mid to late 1940s.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lee & Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle Celebrate 25 Years!

It's too bad this photo is blurred, but you can still see the expression on Dad's face, and that expression is absolutely priceless. It's classic "Dad caught in the act!"

Mom and Dad celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on September 15, 1963. Aunt Polly helped Bob, Marsha, and me plan a surprise open house for them. This is a photo from that celebration.

Dad's expression is the result of events that preceeded this party. The week before the party, they were travelling in New England. I was there with them and my job as 13-year-old was to persuade them not to stay longer, but to travel so they could arrive home before the specified day. We arrived in time and we thought everything was under control.

It was under control until the morning of the party. That was when our hot water heater sprang a leak. Being the handyman extraordinaire that he was, Dad set about to fix it. It didn't go smoothly and took longer than expected. It seems there was some part he didn't have (probably a piece of copper) and was unable to get because it was Sunday and in those days, stores were closed on Sundays. Not to be outsmarted by a water heater, he creatively used a copper penny to repair the leak. Unfortunately, people began arriving for this surprise party before the leak was repaired. Persistent man that Dad was, he refused to believe that there was going to be a party and he refused to quit before the repair was finished.

There he was on the floor in the basement, torch in hand, making his repair when his cousin, Evie McClelland, and her husband, Cub, came downstairs to see what was going on. At that point he realized that, indeed, people were arriving to celebrate his and Mom's 25th anniversary. He finished his repair, cleaned up, and went upstairs to greet the guests -- and be photographed with this priceless expression.

If they were still alive, they would be celebrating their 71st anniversary.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Henry C. Meinzen: Civil War Veteran or Not?

I was surprised to find a Civil War Graves Registration card for Henry. It said that he enlisted in August 1862 and was discharged in August 1863; that his rank was "Seaman" in the U.S. Navy; and that he served on USS Cairo and USS Brilliant. (Further research about those ships indicated that the USS Cairo was the first armored ship to be sunk by a torpedo.)

At right is a photocopy of the Graves Registration card and below it is a transcription of the information for easier reading. You can on the image to see a larger image.

Our family didn't pass many stories down through the generations, but I would have thought that having a German immigrant ancestor serve in the Civil War would have been worthy of at least a brief mention! Frankly, I didn't believe he served in the Civil War, and I don't yet. But I'm doing some research to see what I can find to help prove or disprove it.

So for the past few months I've been on the hunt for any other information I could find about Henry's (supposed) Civil War service. I doubted that he had received a pension (because he didn't have young children, as far as we know, he wasn't injured in the war, and because he outlived his wife who would have received the pension) but the NARA site told me that I should first request that before requesting service records. Henry did not receive a pension.

Where to search next? It seems that CW army information has been compiled and made easily available, but Navy records have not been given the same status by NARA. I began borrowing books about Civil War genealogy from the library and finally found something that I thought would be helpful. One book said that the SLC FHL had some films relating to the enlistments into and transfers of men in the Navy. The one with enlistments is called "Index to Rendezvous Reports, Civil War, 1861-1865." The other is "Weekly Returns of Enlistments at Naval Rendezvous ('Enlistment Rendezvous, Jan. 6, 1855-Aug. 8, 1891: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, National Archives and Records Administration, M1953." So I went to our local Family History Center and ordered copies of the films. I didn't know if they would be helpful or not but I thought it was worth it to look at them.

The first one came in this past week. Saturday morning I went to the FHC and looked at the film. Our little FHC has 2 manual microfilm readers and 1 reader/printer. I wondered whether to be optimistic and use the reader/printer or whether to be doubtful and use the reader only. I started with the reader but had to transfer to the reader/printer because the film was so small.

I found that the names were in alphabetical order by last name, Maney to Moore. I stopped at the possible variations of Meinzen on the way to Meinzen, but found nothing. Then appeared on the screen what I thought was "Meinzen, Henry." Wow!!! Is that MY Henry? The dates were correct. But then I looked more closely and the name was "Meinze" without the "n." (See to the right a copy of the original and a transcription.)

I came away from the library knowing no more about Henry than when I went. BUT, because one of the staff people there is expert on German research, I came away with some suggestions of where else to search. And I have one more film to come. Perhaps that will have Henry Meinzen (instead of Henry Meinze) and I'll learn something more about Henry.

How can one man leave a trail behind him (his posterity) without a path leading to him from behind (his ancestors)? Who were your parents, Henry, and where were you born? Where and how did you learn your carpenter's trade? Did you apprentice, and where? I want to know these things! (And plenty more, besides.)

For anyone who's interested, here's a (very poor) copy of a photograph of Henry C. Meinzen taken about 1870. There is a matching photograph of his wife, Elizabeth Armitage. I'm guessing the date they were taken by assuming, based on the similarity in size and background of the photographs, that they were probably wedding photographs.

Later I'll post this photograph side-by-side with one of Henry when he was older. You'll be able to see the similarity.

So, I'm still hunting for evidence of Henry's (supposed) Civil War service. Can anyone out there read German newspapers?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Belinda and Gramma Meinzen

Aren't these wonderful photos?

Yes, they're grey and white instead of black and white, but still, you can see Belinda's and Gramma's faces fairly well.

They were probably taken in about 1954, maybe 1953, in Gramma Meinzen's back yard in Mineral Ridge, Ohio.

Gramma Meinzen did not like to be photographed and either turned away from the camera or simply did not smile. I believe this is, perhaps, the only photograph of her with a smile on her face! At least it's the only one I can remember of her smiling.

Gramma is Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen, daughter of Edward Jesse and Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff. She was born 6 July 1893 in Steubenville, Ohio, and died on 7 February 1973 in Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio.

David & Belinda - more photos from "the box"

I don't have a date for these photos but they were probably taken in about 1953 or 1954. In the bottom photo, Belinda is reaching toward Gramma's collie, Buster. I remember him as a quiet, gentle dog, but I don't ever remember him being in the house.
In the background of the photos you can see the Hancox's house. Their house separated our house from Gramma's and Grampa's house. I loved their little house. It was very small and narrow and seemed very rambling to me. I knew the inside of it because Mr. and Mrs. Hancox had granddaughters who came to visit for a week or two at a time in the summers and we played together. The house had a back porch that was more like an attached shed where we set up "house" and played for hours on end. One of our favorite activities was making goulash. We collected grass clippings, flower heads, leaves, small sticks, put them in a pot with water, stirred, and it eventually became goulash. We did not ever eat it!

Okay, so this post rambles just like the Hancox's house!

Isn't David cute? Don't you wonder why David is in jeans and Belinda is dressed up in white shoes, coat, bonnet, and purse?

Happy Birthday, dear Natasha!

This adorable 7-month-old baby. . .

. . .grew up to become this beautiful lady. . .

. . .who has a wonderful sense of humor!

I hope you have a wonderful birthday, Natasha! I love you.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Celebrating 95!

At left are William Carl Robert Meinzen (also known as Robert or Bob) and Emma Virginia Bickerstaff, my maternal grandparents. They would be celebrating their 95th year of marriage on Tuesday, September 8, 2009, if they were still alive. They were married in 1914 in the parsonage of the First Methodist Church in Mineral Ridge, Trumbull County, Ohio, by Rev. John Moore (so says a 50th anniversary newspaper article).

They both grew up in and around Steubenville, Ohio. I wish I knew how they met! I can't find any indication that they were neighbors, though I haven't searched census records too diligently to see. And as far as I know, they didn't attend the same church. Perhaps they attended the same school.... I don't know when they moved to Trumbull County. I suspect that Emma moved there with her parents, then Robert followed so they could marry. That's speculation, of course, based on the fact that Emma's parents moved to Mineral Ridge between 1910 and 1920. Robert's brother, Henry (junior) lived in Youngstown in 1916, but Robert's parents and the rest of his family stayed in Steubenville.

I have not yet found a wedding photo nor a newspaper article announcing their marriage. I think Emma was probably a beautiful bride.

At right is a copy of their marriage license and certificate. Even though it's only a photocopy, I'm pleased to have a copy of their signatures.

Happy Anniversary, Gramma and Grampa!
I love you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Grand Great-nephew Matthew is 13!

Hey, Matt, I hope you have a terrific birthday! Sorry to post old photos, but I couldn't find a newer one. I guess these were taken in maybe 2002-03. You were a cute kid then but you're a handsome young man now! Happy Birthday!
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