Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Snowstorm, 1950

My brother, Bob, shared with me his memory of the November, 1950, snowstorm that affected central and eastern Ohio and West Virginia.  I thought it would be fun to look through the old local newspapers and find articles and photographs to post along with his memory.   It was fun to read those articles and look at the photos.  But I'm sorely disappointed at how uncooperative those microfilm readers and printers were.  Gosh, they just didn't want to make good copies of black and white photographs!  Below his memory I've included a few headlines and articles and links to some good photographs.

From my brother, Bob:
Over Thanksgiving weekend 1950 a major snow storm hit the Mahoning Valley in Ohio leaving upwards of 30 inches of snow in about 24 hours.

I was 11 years old at the time.  I remember getting up that morning and going outside, walking down the steps of our home on Furnace Street in Mineral Ridge, Trumbull County, Ohio, and stepping off into the snow thinking the ground was right below me.  It wasn't.  Instead I sank into snow that came somewhere between my knees and hip.  I don't remember how tall I was at 11 but I remember that I was surprised how much snow there was.  In order to walk I had to lift my leg up high, move it through the snow and push it back down, then repeat the process with the other leg only to move forward inches at a time.

I recall that we spent some time shoveling by hand a path from the porch to the garage about 45 feet away.  From there we started to clean out a path in the driveway to the street.  It didn't matter at the time that no one was going anywhere for awhile.  As I remember, it was about a week before the snow got cleared away.  Schools were shut down, no newspapers were delivered, there were no milk deliveries, and we couldn't get to the post office either.

We did make it up Furnace Street to Main Street, which was a state highway, Route 46.  We found that sometime during the night a semi had made its way through because we could clearly see the tire tracks in the snow, side by side.  They looked like wide railroad tracks down the street.

Dad and I walked the tracks to Beazel's Market further south on 46.  Mr. Beazel (Jim) had somehow made it to the store.  He lived about a mile or so away on East County Line Road.  We were able to get milk and a few other supplies.  One item in particular was a new bread product on the market, heat and serve rolls.  Why we bought those I don't recall but I guess that there were no loaves of bread left.  I thought it was pretty neat that we had gotten those.  We didn't usually go for specialty items.

Anyhow, when we got back home, over the next few days we got the driveway and part of the road cleaned out and helped the neighbors do so as well.  At the time, Mineral Ridge had city bus service from Niles but that didn't resume for about a week either.

One other fact I remember was that the township road grader finally made it out and plowed some of the snow off the roads.  It probably only had a foot or foot and a half blade so it was hard going for the grader to do much.  I can't remember if the township had any snow plows or not.  I know that pickup trucks at that time didn't had attachable snow plows like they do today.  Snow removal was a long progress at that time.

Eventually though, life returned to normal.  People returned to work, mail was delivered, milk deliveries resumed, and life returned to normal.  The Thanksgiving snow of 1950 is covered in the archives of the newspapers and the memories of those who lived though it.

Our nearest town was Niles, about 3 miles north of Mineral Ridge. Its newspaper, the "Niles Daily Times" covered news of the Ridge, too.

From the research I've done, it seems that the storm began on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23.  Five days later, on Tuesday, November 28, 1950, the headline of the "Niles Daily Times" read:  "Travel Limited To Emergencies."  One article noted that other cars were banned from Niles and roadblocks had been set up on all key streets to the city.  Niles schools were still closed on Wednesday.  If this was the situation in Niles, which was a small city, you can imagine the situation in nearly-rural Mineral Ridge.

You can see photos from Massillon, Ohio, which is about an hour from the Ridge, here, and photographs from Weirton, West Virginia, here.

Thank you for the story, Bob.  What a fun memory.


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Jamie's Birthday

Jamie is my neice Heather's husband. He is celebrating his birthday on November 27. I won't tell you how many years, but he's approaching a milestone pretty soon.

I've never told Jamie this but he reminds me of a young Ron Howard. You can go here to see some photos of Ron Howard. Look at the ones of him as a non-balding adult. What do you think?

Happy Birthday, Jamie!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Vigilance is the Price of Liberty"

On this Thanksgiving Day I am grateful to my ancestors who chose to come to America, whether it was for freedom from tyranny or some other way of life, for an opportunity for better employment, or any other reason. I'm grateful to have been born in this nation.

The above image was published in the "Niles Daily Times" on Wednesday, November 22, 1950.

Thanksgiving, 1955

These are photographs of my Aunt Dot's family and my grandparents. Going clockwise around the table from the lower left front are Aunt Dot, David, Uncle Bill, Grampa M., Belinda, and Gramma M. These photos were probably taken in their house on Burnett Street in Mineral Ridge.

Do you notice any differences between Thanksgiving, 1955, and Thanksgiving, 2008 or 2009? My aunt and uncle were not poor, so this is not a poor family's dinner, and yet there are only the traditional foods without many extras. In recent years it seems that there is often an abundance of excess.

The other difference I noticed was the clothing. These days during the fall and winter months, in our home at least, we wear long sleeves and sweaters. I think that in the 1950s there was not an energy crunch so homes were kept warmer than they are now.

These photographs came from the box from Aunt Polly who was, of course, the photographer. Actually, these were slides that I had made into photographs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving, 1911

Have you ever looked at something many times, devouring its beauty with your eyes and enjoying the object - until! - one day you suddenly notice a detail that had previously escaped your attention? That happened to me this week.

In recent years some older postcards have come my way, including the one to the left. Every November I pull out my Thanksgiving cards and put them up. Every year I look over them closely, admiring the colors, the decorative writing, the embossing, if there is any, the sentiment, the message, the sender and addressee. Every tiny detail is interesting.

But this year! This year I was looking once again at the writing on the back of this particular card. My attention was drawn to the postmark: Dornsife, Pennsylvania. And the only visible part of the date was 1911.

1911! My Gramma Beulah and Grampa Gust were married at the end of that year! Either of them could have sent the other a postcard just like this one! And of course my mind wandered a bit, imagining him in Stoneboro, her in Bruin.

This postcard does not have any direct relation to my family, but I love the little connections that happen when aspects of social history (and specific real objects) touch on the lives of my family. And I wonder... what was their young love like...?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Isn't Grace a bright-eyed beauty? Don't those eyes sparkle with joy and energy and a love of life?!!!!

Grace is my sweet great-niece who is celebrating her birthday on November 24.

It makes me sad to realize that I haven't seen Grace since she was a baby -- and I think she's turning 8 this year!

Her mom tells wonderful stories about her in her Christmas letters, though, so I know Grace doesn't enjoy traveling and that she loves spending time with her grandfather.

Happy, happy birthday, Grace!

Monday, November 23, 2009


I think of myself as generally a grateful person. I'm richly blessed in so very many ways and I know it. At this season when gratitude and thankfulness are uppermost in our minds, I thought I would note some of the genealogy blessings for which I'm so very grateful.

The old family photographs I have aren't the best or the most beautiful. I don't have stunning images of individuals and families, but I'm ever so grateful to have the ones I do have. To be able to put a face to a name is beyond joyful!

It is a pure blessing that technology has made available newspapers in digital format. An even greater blessing is the technology that allows us to perform word searches of newspapers on the internet. Except for obituaries, how else could we begin to know where to look for the briefest of articles about our ancestors? How exciting it was to find a short article about my ggrandfather, Henry, who grew a very large vegetable. Thrilling to find the article - wonderful to have it! I'm grateful.

The technology that gives me a genealogy program to manage and store all the information I collect about my relatives is wonderful. So is having a computer on which to save letters and images. Blessings!

I feel blessed to have older relatives who have so willingly shared - and continue to share - their memories of our common relatives who passed away before I knew them.

It is wonderful to have a brain that still works well enough to have childhood memories of grandparents and other relatives. I count that a blessing.

I'm thankful that my daughters are interested in learning about their ancestors and share my joy when I share with them what I've found.

I'm grateful for the written family records and documents that have come my way. Few are originals, but even to have photocopies or digital images I consider a blessing.

I'm thankful for libraries, archives, and courthouses where records and documents, books and catalogues are available for perusal and copies.

Microfilm is becoming old technology but still, I'm grateful to be able to access newspapers and other documents in that way until they become available digitally.

I'm grateful to the people from years gone by who were so forward-thinking, who realized how important it would be to save and preserve all the pieces of paper that documented a person's life - newspapers, deeds, birth and death records, certificates....

It's a blessing to know that Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, love my ancestors as much as They love me.

I'm grateful for the internet which allows me to share information and photographs in the form of a blog so that other family members can learn more about our mutual ancestors.

It's a wonderful blessing that cemeteries keep good records - and allow us to have copies of them; that churches keep histories - and they're available to us. Blessings!

This is a wonderful time to live when genealogy is our interest! My heart abounds in gratitude!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What a Surprise!

"My Ancestors and Me" was nominated twice this week for the Kreativ Blogger Award -- by Jenna at Desperately Seeking Surnames and by Cheryl at Heritage Happens. I think my blog is still pretty plain so it is a very pleasant surprise to receive this award. Thank you both.

I understand that I should tell you seven things about myself and nominate seven individuals/blogs for the award. Here goes!

Seven Things About Me (in no particular order)
1. I enjoy writing.
2. I love the Lord.
3. I live with my husband and have two adult daughters.
4. I'm owned by an Airedale Terrier named Hannah and am involved in
Airedale Terrier Rescue and Adoption (ATRA).
5. Sometimes I make quilts.
6. I get really excited when I find information about an ancestor and then find further information to confirm the first bit.
7. I enjoy poking around in second-hand stores and thrift shops.

It was really hard to choose just seven other blogs for this award because there are so many wonderful ones. But choose I did, and here they are (in no particular order):
Uphill Both Ways
Graveyard Rabbit of Central Ohio
Family Matters
Ancestor Hunting

Thank you again, Jenna and Cheryl.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Birthdays, Hester & Tim!

This is my niece, Hester, who is celebrating her birthday on November 21. If I recall correctly, it's not just any old birthday, but a memorable milestone of a birthday. I hope you have a wonderful birthday, Lovely Lady, Hester!

And beside Hester is Tim, her husband and my nephew, who will celebrate his birthday on November 24. He celebrated the milestone birthday last year. Happy Birthday, Tim! I hope you enjoy celebrating.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Grampa Gust Doyle

My grandfather, Gust Doyle, was born on November 17, 1888, in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania. His parents were William and Tressa Rose (Froman) Doyle.

I love this photo of my grandfather. I love how he looks directly into the camera lens. It almost feels like he's looking directly at me, across the span of time that separates us. When I saw this photograph it was the very first time I saw what my grandfather looked like. The original photograph, which was a beautiful sepia, belonged to Aunt Tressa. She thought, because of the two different hats, that perhaps he'd had it taken at a fair or a carnival. No matter that it's a very poor copy of a very tiny original which was, perhaps, about 1 1/2" x 3". Considering how small the original was, it's amazing it came out as well as it did.

I just noticed that the hat he's wearing in the photograph on the right, above, looks like the same hat he was wearing in the photograph on the back porch of the farmhouse. He doesn't have a bowtie in the farmhouse photograph, but the shirt, coat, and hat look the same. Perhaps both photos were taken the same day and they had a professional photographer at the farmhouse to take family photographs that day.

Grampa Gust is the grandfather I never knew: he died when my dad was just 20 years old. Because I didn't hear stories about him growing up, I didn't learn about him until after Dad died when I asked Aunt Tressa, Dad's half-sister, about their father. She so willingly answered every question.

She described Grampa like this:
"Dad was not a tall man -- about 5 ft. 4 or 5 inches at the most. He had blue eyes and brown hair -- a nice looking man.

"Dad was easy going, yet serious and extremely kind. He had a great compassion for the under privileged. I remember the story he told about helping a crippled boy at the Wesleyan Camp Ground. A 'Big Bully' was teasing and making fun of him. Dad knocked the 'Bully' down and made him apologize to the crippled boy. This was Dad's nature to protect and be good to people. He was strong and never backed away from a fight....

"Dad wasn't extremely talkative but he was a good conversationalist and had a great knowledge on many subjects. He had a good sense of humor and liked to joke and tease the family. He never failed to catch us in April Fool Jokes.

"The only story I can remember about Dad's childhood is the one he told about the last day of school. He always threw his lunch pail away on the way home. I don't remember why he threw it away. It could be he was happy to be out of school for the summer. He completed 6th grade. I think that was all that was required at that time."
I'll post more of Aunt Tressa's words about Grampa Gust and the rest of the family later.

I'm thinking of you, Grampa, and sending you and Gramma love. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Uncle Jacob Meinzen

The young man on the left is Jacob Increase Meinzen, son of Henry C. and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen. He was born in December, 1893. The man on the right is my grandfather, William Carl Robert "Bob" Meinzen. He was born in February, 1892. They are brothers. I wonder if they were good friends. Did they play together as little boys?

There were no family stories about Uncle Jacob, no memories passed along. I know nothing of his childhood and early life, but I know a little about his adult years.

In early September, 1916, when he was 22, he married a young lady named Sudie Coss. At the time they married, they were living in Steubenville, Ohio. Jacob worked as a pipe fitter and Sudie was a pottery worker.

Their wedding photograph is at left. I think it's an interesting photo. Not like wedding photos these days, is it? Sudie looks, perhaps, a little nervous, maybe uncertain. Jacob, on the other hand, looks pleased, I think. Perhaps Sudie was the woman of his dreams?

The following year, at the end of May, 1917, a daughter, Elizabeth, was born to them.

And then, on September 15, 1917, tragedy struck. A local newspaper, "The Steubenville Weekly Gazette," reported on September 20 that Jacob was "engaged in pipe fitting on the top of one of the giant furnaces" at La Belle Iron Works when "he was seen suddenly to fall from his position on a ladder and descend to the ground with terrific speed." "He dropped . . . over 100 feet and was horribly crushed."

When I first saw this article, I imagined the responses of his parents and his wife upon hearing about the accident. His parents had already lost four adult children. Seeing it in print almost felt like a sock in the chest - as though I was reading about a living uncle that I personally knew. How sad I felt when I first learned - and how sad I continue to feel when I think of Uncle Jacob's life cut short at such a young age, when I think about his young wife suddenly a widow with an infant.

Looking at the postcard of La Belle Iron Works, I try to imagine where Uncle Jacob was. Can we see the giant furnaces in this photograph? And how far is 100 feet? It's easy to measure it on the ground but it's another matter - for me, at least - to move the distance from horizontal to perpendicular. Doing a little research, it seems that a building 13 stories high is about 100 feet from the ground. Ohhhhhh.

Sudie later remarried a widower with children, Tom Park, and together they had children. With the help of Aunt Dot's memory and some diligent searching and deduction, I was able to locate Sudie and her daughter Elizabeth and their new family on census records, then in city directories and the SSDI, until I was finally able to find Elizabeth, with her married name, and get in touch with her. Elizabeth was more than generous in giving me two photographs of her father and the wedding photograph of her parents. They are treasures.

I know that Uncle Jacob is not one of my direct ancestors. Part of my interest in genealogy and family history is gathering families together again. They start out together then grow to adulthood and leave home, often starting their own families. Finding the adult children of my ancestors feels like going full circle to me - to put them back with their parents - and at the same time, of course, bringing their spouses and children into the family circle.

My grandfather must have been devastated when his brother Jacob died in such a horrible accident. Jacob's whole family must have grieved for a very long time. While I still feel sorry for his death, I'm grateful to have found him. I'm grateful to be able to bring him alive, if only in my own memory....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Doyle Anniversary

Elizabeth "Bess" Laws and Andrew Doyle were married 148 years ago today, on November 11, 1861, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland, England. I'm so happy they were. I can't count the number of descendants they have - I don't know them all!

In this photo, Elizabeth is the lady in black sitting on the right as we look at the photograph. Her husband, Andrew, is the gentleman in black, also sitting on the right.

When they married, Elizabeth was 16 and Andrew was 25. He was a widower and her family opposed the marriage. She must have been pretty strong-willed, don't you think, to go against her parents' wishes when she was only 16? I know she passed on some of those strong-willed genes....

They immigrated to America in 1869-1870. Andrew came first, in 1869, then Elizabeth followed in the fall of 1870 with their children, William (Pap), Elizabeth Jane, Robert, and Martha. They lived first in Arnot, then moved to Pardoe, then Croton, and finally settled in Stoneboro, all in Pennsylvania.

They had 10 more children - Margaret, Andrew, Mary Ann, George, Isabell, Ida, John, Emma, Fred, and Frederick - after moving here.

Happy Anniversary, Gramma and Grampa Doyle! I love you.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

That's What Families Do

No one's ancestors are more interesting than my very own ancestors!

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy hearing and reading about other people's dead relatives and the experiences of their lives. I love history and find the stories interesting, and they help me put time periods and events from those periods into perspective.

I appreciate hearing and reading about the research others have done. It helps me learn more about how to research better and gives me ideas about approaches I hadn't thought about for research.

But for all that, I gotta say, my very own grands and great-grands and gggrands hold my interest so much more than anyone else's grands. I think it has to do with the bonds of love and family. Yes, I have to say, I love them. Perhaps when I meet them, I won't necessarily like them -that is, I may not particularly enjoy someone's personality- but I know I will love them. Because that's what families do.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Not My Family - Schaaf Junior High, Parma, Ohio, 1954

This post is for people who might be searching for photos of themselves or ancestors who attended Schaaf Junior High School in Parma, Ohio, in 1954 and participated in a musicomedy, "The Belle of the West." The participants were in 8th grade in 1954 so now, in 2009, are probably between the ages of 69 and 71. The play was presented on Thursday and Friday nights, December 2 & 3. Tickets cost 40 cents for adults and 25 cents for students.

NOTE: If you would like all or any of the items in this post, please leave a comment or contact me via email. I will discard them on June 1, 2012.

The cast of characters: Bonnie Benditz, Jay Gradisher, Diane Heaton, Darryl Kinion, Richard Klym, Ronald Lendvay, Nadine Rupple, Caroline Simon, Carol Toth, Yvonne Viguenelle, and Ricky Zeuch. There is a longer list of chorus members and accompanists which you may be able to read on the second page of the program, below.

The program, newspaper articles (from unnamed newspapers), thank you card with signatures of cast and crew, and photographs were in the box from Aunt Polly Meinzen. If any readers would like these things, please let me know in the comment section.

And now, for your viewing pleasure....

The Program.

The thank you card with signatures of cast and chorus. This is an old double-fold card. On the left is the front and back of the card; next is the inside; last is the card completely unfolded with signatures at the top.

The newspaper articles. The first two images are from one long article. The photographs were at the top of the clipping and the write-up below.

And photographs of some of the cast. If you click to enlarge the photos I think you'll be able to see who they are by the url. The photographs look like they'd been pasted to a board then cut apart. I thought about removing the board from the back but the identifying names were on the boards and the glue was still secure, so I left them. That explains the uneven reddish background.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...