Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tombstones for Gust and Beulah (Gerner) Doyle

These are the tombstones of my grandparents, Gust and Beulah (Gerner) Doyle. They are buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Sandy Lake, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

Gust's tombstone reads:
"Gust Doyle
"1888 - 1933"

Beulah's reads:
"Wife of G. Doyle
"1888 - 1913"

Because Beulah died after giving birth to twins Lee and Leila, she is buried near Leila. Gust remarried and his grave stone is beside his second wife's stone. It always makes me sad to think of Beulah's marker in a different row instead of beside her husband.

These photographs are courtesy of Bob and Eva, my brother and sister-in-law. Thank you!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Aunt Who Disowned Us

My mother's youngest sister, Pauline Meinzen - or Aunt Polly, as we always called her - was born this day in 1927. The photobooth photo at left was probably taken when she was 10 or 12.

I don't know what her childhood was like but her sisters have told me that she was spoiled and often got her way. Looking back from my adult perspective at my interactions with her and observing her interactions with others, it seems that she quietly barrelled her way through life, setting goals and achieving them.

Aunt Polly was the aunt who disowned her family - all 3 sisters and all 8 of us neices and nephews - after her father's death. There was a disagreement about who would pay for the funeral. I wasn't involved in the funeral payment problem but I was also disowned. That one action on her part darkened all the previous happy, childhood memories of her when I actually thought she loved me.

What happens to people to cause money to become more important than people and love and family?

Aunt Polly passed away several years ago. I hope she's having a happy birthday.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gust Doyle and Family - census transcriptions 1900-1930

The records below begin with Gust Doyle, my grandfather, as an 11-year-old in 1910, living with his parents, William and Tressa Rose (Froman) Doyle, and end with the 1930 census when he was 41, married to his second wife, and was the father of five children including my father. My line to Gust is: me --> Lee Doyle --> Gust Doyle

I've written some comments after the transcriptions and images. (If you'd like to see an image in a larger format, click on it and it will open in this window; click again and it will enlarge. To return to this post, click the back arrow at the top of your browser window.)

1900 U.S. Census, Pennsylvania, Mercer, Stoneboro, S.D. 19, E.D. 167, Written Page 11, Printed Page 243B, Dwelling Number 231, Family Number 237, Lines 56-60, 1 Jun 1900
Series T623, Roll 1441, Page 243

Doyle, William, head, white, male, born March 1863, 37 years, married 15 years, born England, parents born England, immigrated 1871, 29 years in U.S., naturalized, coal miner, can read & write, speaks English, owns farm free of mortgage, #2 on farm schedule
-------, Rose, wife, white, female, born March 1867, 33 years, married 15 years, 3 children, 3 living, born Ohio, parents born Germany, can read & write, speaks English
-------, Emma, daughter, white, female, born Dec 1886, 13 years, single, born Penna, father born England, mother born Ohio, 7 months in school, can read & write, speaks English
-------, August, son, white, male, born Nov 1888, 11 years, single, born Penna, father born England, mother born Ohio, 7 months in school, can read & write, speaks English
-------, Hazel D., daughter, white, female, born Dec 1890, 9 years, single, born Penna, father born England, mother born Ohio, 7 months in school, can read & write, speaks English

1910 U.S. Census, Pennsylvania, Mercer, Stoneboro, Strawberry Hill, S.D. 19, E.D. 184, Written Page 9B, Dwelling Number 187, Family Number 198, lines 58-64, 25-26 April 1910. Series T624, Roll 1375, Page 215

Doyle, William, head, male, white, 47 years, married 25 years, born England, parents born England, immigrated 1871, naturalized, speaks English, farmer, employer, can read & write, owns farm, no mortgage, #11 on farm schedule
-------, Tressa, wife, female, white, 43 years, married 25 years, mother of 3 children, 3 living, born Penna, parents born Germany, speaks English, can read & write
-------, Emma, daughter, female, white, 23 years, widow, married 5 years, mother of 2 children, 2 living, born Penna, father born England, mother born Penna, speaks English, can read & write
-------, Gus, son, male, white, 21 years, single, born Penna, father born England, mother born Penna, speaks English, farm hand, wage earner, not out of work in April, 0 weeks out of work, can read & write, not in school
-------, Raymond, adopted son, male, white, 6 years, single, born Penna, unknown birthplace of parents, speaks English
Lengour, Madeline, daughter, female, white, 4 years, single, born Penna, parents born Penna, speaks English
--------, Eveline, daughter, female, white, 2 years, single, born Penna, parents born Penna

1920 U.S. Census, Pennsylvania, Mercer, Lake Township, S.D. 17, E.D. 65, Written Page 1A, Printed Page 137, lines 16-19, 30 Jan 1920. Series T625, Roll 1601, Page 137

Doyle, Gus, head, owns free of mortgage, male, white, 31 years, married, can read & write, born Pennsylvania, father born England, mother born Pennsylvania, speaks English, farmer, general farm, works on own account, #4 of farm schedule
-------, Twila, wife, female, white, 23 years, married, can read & write, born Pennsylvania, parents born Pennsylvania, speaks English
-------, Lee R., son, male, white, 6 years, single, attended school, born Pennsylvania, parents born Pennsylvania
-------, Dorothy J., daughter, female, white, 7/12 year, single, born Pennsylvania, parents born Pennsylvania

1930 U.S. Census, Pennsylvania, Mercer, Lake Township, Fredonia Road, E.D. 40, Dwelling #28, Family #29, lines 34-46, 21 April 1930. National Archives Microfilm Roll #2077, P. 2A, E.D. 40, Image 184.0, ancestry.com

Doyle, Gust, head, home owned, radio set, lives on farm, male, white, 41 years, 23 years at first marriage, did not attend school, can read & write, born Pennsylvania, father born England, mother born Pennsylvania, speaks English, farmer, general farmer, yes actually at work, not a veteran, #14 of farm schedule
-------, Twila M., wife, female, white, 33 years, married, 19 years at first marriage, did not attend school, can read & write, born Pennsylvania, parents born Pennsylvania
-------, Lee R., son, male, white, 17 years, single, did not attend school, can read & write, born Pennsylvania, parents born Pennsylvania, farmer, general farmer, actually employed
-------, Dorothy J., daughter, female, white, 10 years, single, attended school, can read & write, born Pennsylvania, parents born Pennsylvania, speaks English
-------, Tressa H., daughter, female, white, 8 3/12 years, single, attended school, born Pennsylvania, parents born Pennsylvania
-------, Evelyn M., daughter, female, white, 6 1/12 years, single, attended school, born Pennsylvania, parents born Pennsylvania
-------, William E., son, male, white, 4 2/12 years, single, did not attend school, born Pennsylvania, parents born Pennsylvania.

Notes and Observations
1900 census. Gust is known as "August." His mother, usually known as Tressa, is listed as "Rose."

1910 census. Gust is now listed as "Gus." His sister, Emma, is living at home again with her daughters, Madeline and Eveline. Emma was the widow of John Michel Lengauer.

William Doyle’s brother, Robert & his wife, and Tressa's brother-in-law and sister, George & Elizabeth (Froman) Proud, are also on this page of the census. Raymond, listed as adopted son, is the subject of a an earlier post.

A year and a half after this census Gust married Beulah Gerner, my grandmother. She died less than a year and a half later. They never appeared together on a census record.

1920 census. Gust is listed again as "Gus." He's married to his second wife and in addition to my father, together they have a daughter, Dorothy. Gust has become the owner of the farm where he grew up. Lee is listed as "Lee R."

1930 census. Gust has become "Gust." Lee is again listed as "Lee R." Gust and his second wife now have four children. Three and a half years after this census was recorded Gust died of colon cancer.

We know that Gust was also a coalminer but on no census does he claim coalmining as his means of earning a living. That suggests to me that his allegiance was to the farm.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmases Past

About twenty years ago Brendice Gerner Davis, my grandmother Beulah Gerner Doyle's sister, wrote a few memories of her childhood Christmases in the early 1900s. Brendice was born in October, 1895, Beulah in September, 1888, both in Butler County, Pennsylvania. "Mother" is Elvira Bartley Gerner.
You ask me about our Christmas. Well! That has not changed much. Mother thought of the holidays in the fall. She put up some especially nice things to have, like special peaches. Always had a hubbard squash. Since we had chickens she had several nice fat hens instead of turkey and we had all the trimmings.

We always had a big Christmas dinner, all the traditional things that were available. Remember I lived in the country. All we had was a small grocery 3 miles away. Nothing was packaged. Staples sat around in kegs or boxes and someone waited on us. You didn't look around until you found it (or maybe found a clerk) like you have to do today. We always got a gift, something we needed to be sure but you know, Nancy, people were more contented than today.
My father also remembered that his childhood Christmases on the Doyle farm in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania, were sparce by comparision to today's Christmases. He said stockings held an orange in the toe, one toy, some nuts in the shell, and maybe some candy. My father worked hard so his children could have a better, easier child- and adulthood than he had. He succeeded.

Merry Christmas, dear readers!

Excerpts of Brendice's letters were dated February 12, 1989, and August 30, 1988.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lemon Cookies - My Father's Favorite

Lemon Cookies are bare bones cookies: just the basics with a lemon flavor. They seemed particularly unpalatable to me when I was a child, especially compared with, let's say, chocolate chip cookies (and my opinion hasn't chanaged), but my dad never thought much of putting candy (like chocolate chips) in cookies. Another reason the cookies were unappealing is because the recipe calls for ammonium carbonate: when my mother mixed and baked them they smelled more like she was cleaning!

I think Mom made these around Christmas time for my dad. I don't remember him commenting about who made them when he was growing up or whether my mom's were just like the ones he remembered. (I think every baker has a signature, so to speak, a touch that causes one person's recipe to taste a little different when made by someone else.) I remember Dad commenting that when he was a child they were stored in a crock and became crisp and crunchy. As an adult, that's just the way he liked them because they held up when he dipped them in coffee. My preference would have been to have them softer, like a soft, plump sugar cookie.

I haven't made these for many years. Ammonium carbonate used to be available at Mounier's, the local pharmacy in Mineral Ridge, but became increasingly more difficult to find. A number of years ago I found it in little packets at a local German bakery. Since my dad passed away more than 20 years ago and since they're not a favorite of anyone else in the family, I don't bake them.

I don't know the history of this recipe but I suspect it came from Dad's German ancestors and that his grandmother, Tressa Froman Doyle, was the one who made them. I know the recipe came from a time when the quantities of ingredients were not exact but were determined by the baker. The recipe calls for "enough flour" and "lemon oil." In parentheses on my recipe I noted "8-9 cups flour." My notes for the lemon oil changed from "1 tsp." to "2-4 tsp." to "up to 1 oz." How much lemon you use depends on how lemony you want the flavor to be.

Lemon Cookies
Put 1 oz. ammonium carbonate into 1 pint milk. Let soak an hour or more.
Cream together 2 1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup shortening.
Add 2 eggs and mix.
Slowly add the milk mixture and up to 1 oz. lemon oil.
Add enough flour to stiffen. Roll thin and cut in shapes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
If you bake these, I hope you enjoy them.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beulah Gerner & Gust Doyle - court transcription of marriage certificate

Yesterday I posted a scan of a photocopy of the "Application for Marriage License," "Marriage License," and "Duplicate Certificate" for Beulah Gerner and Gust Doyle. Today's post is a scan of a "Duplicate Marriage Certificate" which is different a transcription of the court record. This transcribed duplicate has less information than the original from the court record.

Duplicate Marriage Certificate

Book No. 23
Page No. 366
No. 11909
          I, Edward J. Knox, hereby certify that on the 19th day of December one thousand nine hundred and Eleven, at Butler, Pennsylvania, GUS DOYLE and BEULAH GERNER were by me united in marriage in accordance with license issued by the Clerk of the Orphans' Court of Butler County, Pennsylvania.

s/ Edward J. Knox  
Minister of the Gospel

Man: Age at date of application 23
Woman: Age at date of application 23


           I, Judith Moser, Clerk of the Orphans' Court, in and for the County and Commonwealth aforesaid, do hereby certify that the above and foregoing is a true and correct copy of the Duplicate Marriage Certificate of GUS DOYLE and BEULAH GERNER as of record of this Court; and that the same remains of record of this Court.

          IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of the aforesaid Court at Butler, in the County of Butler, and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, this 23rd day of JULY, A.D., 1993.

Judith Moser [printed/rubber stamped signature]
Judith Moser
Clerk of Orphans' Court
My Commission Expires Fitst [sic] Monday of January 1996

  • This is an embossed transcription which (I believe) would serve as a legal document.
  • This transcription of the duplicate certificate omits the occupations of the bride and groom; their residences before marriage; the names of their parents; and whether they had been previously married or divorced.
  • Photocopies of the signatures of the bride and groom are missing in a court transcription.

Despite all of the above drawbacks of a transcription versus a photocopy of an original court record, if a court-made transcription is all that's available, I'd take it over having nothing.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Beulah Gerner & Gust Doyle - marriage certificate transcription

It's good to review documents you've had in your files for a while especially if you found them when you first began working on your family history. Below is one of those I've had for a while and pulled out to review after posting about Beulah's and Gust's anniversary yesterday.

My line to Beulah and Gust is short: me --> Lee Doyle --> Beulah Gerner + Gust Doyle

The Application for Marriage License, Marriage License, and Duplicate Certificate are from Butler County Pennsylvania Book No. 23, Page No. 366
No. 11909
1. Full name of the man. Gus. Doyle
2. Full name of the woman. Beulah Gerner
3. Relationship of the parties, whether by blood or marriage. none
4. Age of the man. 23 years
5. Age of the woman. 23 years
6. Residence of the man. Stoneboro, Pa
7. Residence of the woman. Saxonburg Pa
8. Parents' name--man. William & Rose Doyle
9. Parents' name--woman. Fred & Elvira Gerner
10. Guardian's name--man. none
11. Guardian's name--woman. none
12. Date of death of man's former wife, if any. never married
13. Date of death of woman's former husband, if any. never married
14. Date of divorce of man at any time. none
15. Date of divorce of woman at any time. none
16. Color of parties. White
17. Occupation of man. Farmer
18. Occupation of woman. Milliner
19. Consent of parents or guardian of man. not needed
20. Consent of parents or guardian of woman. not needed

Personally appeared before me, Clerk of the Orphans' Court of said County Gus Doyle and Beulah Gerner who being duly qualified according to law, did depose and say that the statements above set forth are correct and true to the best of their knowledge and belief.
Sworn and subscribed before me, this 9 day of Dec 1911.
R. M. McFarland [signature], Clerk of Orphans' Court
Gus Doyle [signature]
Beulah Gerner [signature]
No. 11909
To any Minister of the Gospel, Justice of the Peace or any other officers or persons authorized by law to solemnize marriages:
Legal evidence having been furnished to me in accordance with the Act of Assembly approved the twenty-third day of June, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-five, you are hereby authorized to join together in the holy state of matrimony, according to the rites and ceremonies of your church, society, or religious denomination, and the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
Gus Doyle and Beulah Gerner.
GIVEN UNDER MY HAND AND SEAL OF THE ORPHANS' COURT of said County of Butler, at Butler this 19 day of December A. D. 1911.
R. W. McFarland [signature] Clerk....
No. 11909
I Edward J. Knox hereby certify that on the 19th day of Dec. one thousand nine hundred Eleven at Butler Pa Gus Doyle and Beulah Gerner were by me united in marriage in accordance with license issued by the Clerk of the Orphans' Court of Butler County, Pennsylvania, numbered 11909.
Edward J. Knox [signature] Minister of the Gospel
Some observations:
Gust Doyle gave his name as "Gus." with a period. My dad always told us his name was "Gust" but most documents record the name as "Gus." Census records have another variation. I hope to post census transcriptions soon.

Gust gave his mother's name as "Rose." (She's known as Maw to her grandchildren.) Family information always gives her name as "Tressa Rose" but the 1900 census lists her as Rose also. When I asked my father's half sister and Maw's namesake, Tressa, about it, she said that Maw was always called Tressa. Interesting.

In 1911, most unmarried women lived at home and it was uncommon for women to have occupations. I think it's interesting that the marriage license application asked for the occupation of the woman.

I didn't remember that they were married in Butler County, but I don't know the town from this document.

Beulah's father moved his family several times during his lifetime. At census time in 1910 they were living in Fairview Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania (which is probably how Beulah and Gust met) and in 1920 they were living in Bruin, Butler County. Family information generally gives Beulah's home town as Bruin but from this document I understand that Beulah lived in Saxonburg before her marriage. Saxonburg and Bruin are approximately 25 miles apart. Was she living with her parents before she married or with a sibling?

How grateful I am that states and commonwealths required and kept documents such as these (even though they are so hard to obtain from Pennsylvania!).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

99 Years Ago for Fifteen and a Half Months - Beulah and Gust

They were married in 1911 on this day, Tuesday, December 19. They were my paternal grandparents, Beulah Mae Gerner and Gust Doyle.

Their marriage ended 1 year, 3 months, and 14 days later when Beulah died on April 2, 1913, several weeks after giving birth to twins. (Twin Leila died at 3 days of age; twin Lee, my father, survived.)

Beulah's photo was taken near the date of their marriage. Gust's photo was taken about 25 years later. The marriage was so very short. I believe they are together now and hope they are celebrating their anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Gramma and Grampa!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Gramma's Christmas Tree

This could have been my family's Christmas tree because our trees were usually only 5 or 6 feet tall; but then we put them on an upturned bucket to make them taller. Because this tree isn't on a bucket, I think it is my grandmother's Christmas tree. The date is probably 1955. In front of the tree is her youngest granddaughter with her newest doll.

There aren't many icicles on the tree. They are the old-fashioned, heavy aluminum (or lead) ones that were always saved from year to year. The bulbs look like they are glass. I can't tell about the star.

Some of you viewing this photo may remember when "television sets" had small, oval screens. They were pieces of furniture and not just the TV as we buy today.

I was trying to see what was under the tree but the only thing I can make out is the box for a Sylvania radio.

My grandparents lived on the same street we lived on and there was just one house between ours. On Christmas mornings we would open our gifts, eat breakfast, get dressed, and then hurry to take our gifts to our grandparents' house. It seems like my mom and her sisters and their families converged there at some point on Christmas day to exchange gifts and visit. We had great Christmases.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Other Sepia Saturday bloggers may be sharing Christmas photographs and/or other old photos today. I invite you to visit and see what's up and join in if you choose.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Raymond - An Unusual Christmas Memory

The memory of Raymond comes to mind now and then, usually for no particular reason, and always at Christmas.

Raymond lived at the Mercer County Home in Mercer, Pennsylvania.  In those days the county home was where people lived who could not take care of themselves and who had no family to take care of them.  Some folks were old, some were just poor, and yet others were mentally limited.  Raymond was in the latter group.  The county homes were usually large buildings with farmland surrounding them.  The people who lived in the county homes worked on the farms growing vegetables and crops and animals which were used to feed those who lived there.

I first met Raymond when I was a child.  My parents took us to visit him several times.  The last time we visited I was perhaps 10 or 11, when 10-year-olds were less mature than they are now, yet old enough to be aware that girls should be careful of strangers.  We parked at the side or back of the building and somehow my father sent word that we were there to see Raymond.  We waited a few minutes and then an older man, probably older than my father, came out.  He was not very tall and had an unusual gait.  He seemed different.  He recognized my father and they greeted each other.  Then he took my hand and started to walk away.  I hesitated, feeling a little shy and wondering if I should go with this stranger.  My parents gave me the nod and we all walked with him, probably to the stables or the pasture.  My memory ends there.  Strange how memories often don't provide all the details.

After we left him, my father told us a little more about Raymond and explained that he had an amazing and unusual ability.  Raymond's responsibility at the farm was the chickens.  Dad said that when trying to gather chickens, most folks cause them to scatter.  Dad had watched Raymond with chickens before:  he spread his arms wide and the chickens gathered in toward him and then went wherever he directed them.  Dad said you'd never see anything like it again.  He explained that Raymond was a very gentle person, something I think I sensed while we were together that day.

The only other thing Dad said about him was that something had happened to his family and he lived with Maw and Pap Doyle, Dad's grandparents, for a while.

Searching census records for Maw and Pap, I found Raymond listed with them in the 1910 census as adopted son, 6 years old.  He was nine years older than my father.  Maw and Pap were 43 and 47.  They weren't too old to have a child of their own that age and yet they were already grandparents.  Raymond isn't with them in the 1920 census.  I suspect that there was no formal adoption.  Dad's half sister, Tressa, remembered that Raymond went to school with Dad and one of his friends but didn't do well.  She didn't remember any more about him and my father's not around to ask for more information.  I'll probably never know more about Raymond's history unless I happen to find a newspaper article about a fire or some other disaster in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania, between 1914 and 1920.

I think of Raymond every Christmas because my parents, without fail and with great care, sent him a package which always included Raymond's favorite candy.

The photo of the Mercer County Home is from Family Old Photographs.

Note:  Since the original publication of this post, I've learned that Raymond lived at the County Home in Polk, Pennsylvania, not the Mercer County Home.


Copyright © 2010 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Carol for Christmas

My favorite carol should probably be one from Germany or England, or possibly Ireland, to honor my ancestors. Maybe next year my favorite will be a traditional German or English carol, but the music that twirls through my brain this year is a French carol, "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella." It is the beautiful music that has drawn me to love it so. It wasn't until last night that I knew more than the first two lines of the lyrics.

It seems that there are several variations in the lyrics but the performance that I like the best has the least common variation. I can't understand all the words they sing but I do hear them singing with excitement about the birth of The Child, encouraging all the villagers to awake and come and see Him, to follow Him, and to tell the world that Jesus is the Savior. This performance, in my opinion, is full of life and enthusiasm for the Christ Child whose birth we celebrate at this season.

Below is one variation of the lyrics translated from the French. Rhythmically they don't seem to go with the music (to my not very musical ears, anyway).
Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella!
Bring a torch, to the stable run
Christ is born. Tell the folk of the village
Jesus is born and Mary's calling.
Ah! Ah! beautiful is the Mother!
Ah! Ah! beautiful is her child

It is wrong when the child is sleeping,
It is wrong to talk so loud.
Silence, now as you gather around,
Lest your noise should waken Jesus.
Hush! Hush! see how he slumbers;
Hush! Hush! see how fast he sleeps!

Softly now unto the stable,
Softly for a moment come!
Look and see how charming is Jesus,
Look at him there, His cheeks are rosy!
Hush! Hush! see how the Child is sleeping;
Hush! Hush! see how he smiles in dreams!

This is my first year to participate in "Blog Caroling" as hosted by footnoteMaven. Thank you, Maven. The image at the top of this post is "A Young Singer" by Georges de La Tour from ArtCyclopedia. The lyrics are from Wikipedia where you can learn more about the history of the carol and alternate lyrics.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Edward Jesse Bickerstaff - death certificate and obituary

Edward Jesse Bickerstaff is my maternal great-grandfather.
This is my line to him: me --> Audrey Meinzen --> Emma Bickerstaff --> Edward Jesse Bickerstaff
State File No. 75173....

1. (a) County Mahoning
1. (b) (City, Village, Township) Youngstown
1. (c) Name of hospital or institution: South Side
1. (d) Length of stay: in hospital or institution 2 (Days)
In this community 32 (Years, months or days)
2. (a) State Ohio
2. (b) County Trumbull
2. (c) City or village Mineral Ridge....
3. FULL NAME Edward J. Bickerstaff
4. Sex M
5. Race or color W
6. (a) Single, widowed, married, divorced Wid.
6. (b) Name of husband or wife Mary Bickerstaff
7. Birth date of deceased April 27 1871
8. AGE 74 years 7 Months 26 Days
9. Birthplace (City, town, or county) Steubenville (State...) O
10. Usual occupation Carpenter
11. Industry or business own
12. Father Name Ellis Bickerstaff
13. Father Birthplace (City, town, or county) Steubenville (State...) O.
14. Mother Maiden Name Mary Bickerstaff
15. Mother Birthplace (City, town, or county) Steubenville (State...) O.
16. (a) Informant's signature Cora Bickerstaff [signed]
16. (b) Address Mineral Ridge O.
17. (a) Burial, cremation, or other;
17. (b) Date (Month, Day, Year) Dec 26 1945
17. (c) Place Mingo Junction Ohio
17. (d) (Name of Embalmer) J. B. Lane....
18. (a) (Signature of Funeral Director) J B Lane [signed]....
18. (b) Address Mineral Ridge, O
19. (a) (Date received local registrar) Dec 24 1945
19. (b) (Registrar's signature) D. R. Mellon [signed]

20. Date of Death: Month Dec day 23 year 1945 hour 5 minute 45 AM
21. I hereby certify that I attended the deceased from Dec 20, 1945, to Dec 23, 1945; that I last saw him alive on Dec 23, 1945; and that death occurred on the date and hour stated above.
Immediate cause of death Carcinoma prostate gland
Duration 2 yrs....
22. [blank]
23. Signature Dunsmore Thomas M.D. [signed]
Address 421 Robbins Ave
Date signed 12/24/45

This obituary was published in The Niles Daily Times on Monday, December 24, 1945, p. 1, column 5.

E. J. Bickerstaff Succumbs After Short Illness

Edward J. Bickerstaff, 74, a carpenter by trade, died Sunday at 5:45 a.m. in South Side Hospital, Youngstown, following a short illness. He had resided in Mineral Ridge 32 years and made his home on Kelly St.

The deceased was born April 27, 1871, in Steubenville. His wife, Mary Thompson Bickerstaff, died in 1940.

Surviving are eight children, William, John, Dan, Eddy, Andrew, Mrs. Emma Meinzen, Mrs. Mary Morris, all of Mineral Ridge, and Cora at home, 23 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren, a sister, Mrs. Flora Swickard of East Liverpool, and a brother, John, of Taylor's Corners.

The body was removed from the Lane Funeral Home to the late residence today where funeral services will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Oakland Cemetery in Steubenville.

Friends may call at the residence at any time.

You may notice on the death certificate that Cora Bickerstaff was the informant. Cora was Edward J.'s youngest daughter who was about 34 years old at the time of his death and still single. With the passing of her father, she became an orphan. Certainly she was distraught at the death of her father so it's no wonder she gave his mother's name as "Mary Bickerstaff," the name of her own mother, instead of Emma Nelson, Edward's mother's name.

I think it's interesting that neither of Edward J.'s parents are named in the obituary. Also, the obituary states that Edward J. left a surviving sister and brother. They are, in fact, half brother and sister. Edward J.'s own mother died when he was barely 7 years old. His father, Ellis, married twice again.

I think it's incredibly sad when someone dies so close to Christmas. It must color all future Christmases.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow and My 1800's Ancestors

Most mornings I get up with just exactly enough time to do my morning routine and leave. Sundays are no exception. An hour to get up, shower, get ready for church, and walk out the door, period. But the schedule doesn't always work in winter. Within about a 15-minute time period this morning, the rain changed to snow and left an inch on the ground. I knew travel would be slower than usual, especially with my husband (who's never in a hurry) driving.

On our way through the snow-covered streets I was thinking about my ancestors - the ones who had to hitch a horse (or horses) to a cart or buggy to go to church. They probably already would have figured in the time to hitch the horse as well as the time to travel to the destination, but did travel in snow slow them down? Did the horses step more carefully on snowy or icy surfaces? Did they hesitate or move more slowly? Did they wear special shoes in winter? Perhaps horses would have been more reliable (if slower) than our modern cars.

If there are any horse people out there who know about these things, I would be grateful to read your thoughts.

Just trying to put myself into my ancestors' situation 100+ years ago....

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mary Thompson Bickerstaff - obituary and death certificate

Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff is my maternal great-grandmother. This is my line to her: me --> Audrey Meinzen --> Emma Bickerstaff --> Mary Thompson.

County Trumbull...
Township Weathersfield...
Length of residence in city or town where death occurred 25 years

FULL NAME Mary Bickerstaff
Residence No. Mineral Ridge, O.

Single, Married... Married
If Married... wife of E. J. Bickerstaff
DATE OF BIRTH 10 - 26 - 1940 1873
AGE 67 (years) 10 Months 12 Days
BIRTHPLACE New Alexandria O.
--NAME John Thompson
--BIRTHPLACE New Alexandria O.
--MAIDEN NAME Lydia Bell
--BIRTHPLACE New Alexandria O.
The Signature of INFORMANT and Address E. J. Bickerstaff [signature] Mineral Ridge, O.
BURIAL... Place Mingo Junction Date 9 - 10 - 1940
FUNERAL FIRM Lane Funeral Home
BURIED BY J. B. Lane.... Mineral Ridge, O.

Date of Death (month, day, year) 9 - 6 - 1940
[Physician]... attended deceased from 3 - 15 - 1940 to 9 - 6 - 1940... death is said to have occurred at 9 30 P.m.
PRINCIPAL CAUSE OF DEATH... : Coronary Thrombosis
CONTRIBUTORY CAUSES... : Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus....
(Signed) J. M. Gledhill M. D.
Date 9 - 9 - 1940
Address Niles O
Published in The Niles Daily Times, Saturday, September 7, 1940, p. 1, column 8

Death Takes Ridge Woman, Mother Of 8

Mrs. Mary Bickerstaff, wife of E. J. Bickerstaff, passed away at her home in Mineral Ridge last evening at 9:30 o'clock. Death resulted from complications. She had been ill four months.

Mrs. Bickerstaff was born in New Alexandria, Ohio, 68 years ago and had lived in Mineral Ridge for the past 25 years. She was a member of the Mineral Ridge Methodist Church.

Surviving are her husband, eight children, all of Mineral Ridge: Mrs. Robert Meinzen, William H. Bickerstaff, John, Dan, Eddie J., Andy, Mrs. Edward Morris and Cora; 23 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren; three sisters, Mrs. Anna Allen, McKeesport, Pa.; Mrs. Ida Diehl, Parkersburg, W.Va., and Mrs. Jessie Mandenhall, Athens.

Services will be held from the residence at 11 a.m. Tuesday with Rev. Robert Clemmons officiating. Tuesday, the body will be taken to the Finley Methodist Church at Steubenville where another service will be held. Rev. Clemmons will officiate there also. Burial will be in Mingo Junction.

The body will be removed from the Lane Funeral Home to the residence today where friends may call at any time.

In the image of the death certificate above you will notice that "1873" has a line drawn through it and "1872" is written below. Those are my penciled marks on the hard copy. Based on subtracting 67 years, 10 months, and 12 days from her date of death, her birth date was October 25, 1872. Family records give her birth year as 1872.

In reality, Mary was the mother of 9 children. One child, Flora Victoria, was born August 5, 1909, and died August 30, 1910. She was buried in Oakland Cemetery, Mingo Junction, Ohio. Her burial there could have been the reason Mary and Edward Jesse chose to be buried there.

The names of Mary's sisters, Anna, Ida, and Jessie, confirmed census information. However, their married surnames and residences at the time of Mary's death have not helped locate further information about them. I have tracked their names through the obituaries of other family members but have not found their death information. Earlier searches on FamilySearch did not reveal them but because records have been added to that site, I need to search again.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Student Nurses at Play

I posted the left photograph of my mother, Audrey Meinzen Doyle, earlier this year in a story about her nursing school days.  In that photo, my mom is on the right.  The only other student nurse I know is her friend, Leona Paine Tuxford, who is in the center in that photo.  I assumed they were enjoying a joke (as indeed they were).

This week Leona's daughter found my blog because I'd posted some other photos of her parents and named them.  It was a pleasant surprise when she contacted me.  We began corresponding and she shared the photographs on the left and right as well as the story behind them.

She wrote, "From what I remember of my mom's description of the nursing school prank -- for some reason there was a police car in front of the nursing school and the girls thought it would be funny to hug Mom as if she was being arrested and then send her off in the squad car."  Can't you just imagine the conversation that flew back and forth and the ensuing laughter?

I was surprised to learn that my mother would be involved in such a prank because she was such a serious person, at least when I knew her.  But perhaps youth is generally more light-hearted and age brings maturity and a more serious outlook.

The other surprising thing is that they weren't arrested for "playing" around a police car, as surely young people would be these days.  Times have certainly changed over the past 70 years.

Though these photographs are not crystal clear with fabulous lighting, I'm thrilled to have copies of them for the simple reason that they capture a few moments in the life of my mother at a time when she was enjoying herself with friends.  Sometimes slightly imperfect images hold value for the story they tell, not just for the beauty or perfection of the images themselves.  It is so with these photographs.

To Leona's Daughter, a grateful thank you for contacting me and for sharing both the photographs and the story. I appreciate it.

This post was written to participate in Sepia Saturday.


 Copyright ©2010-2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Love Being Found!

And I especially love being found by others who are researching my family and by friends who know my family or me. Twice in the past seven days people have used the contact tab at the side of my blog to get in touch with me. One person is a descendant of my Fithan/Bell ancestors who has already done lots of research. Another is the daughter of one of my mother's nursing school friends who I remember from childhood and who has photos and stories to share. It has been wonderful to meet the first and to become reacquainted with the second.

When I started this blog 16 months ago I though, Oh, I'll just be anonymous. I'm not important and no one needs to know who I am. It didn't take me long to realize that was a poor attitude and a near impossibility, considering that I was posting about my parents, my grandparents, my home town, etc.

So I added a contact tab on the side of my blog. I found it at VisitorContact and it was probably recommended by Thomas McEntee at GeneaBloggers. It's one of the best things I've done -- besides publishing the names, dates, and locations of ancestors and encouraging others to get in touch with me.

If you don't have some way for others to get in touch with you, I encourage you to make your email address available in your profile or add a contact tab.

A Note Added Later: To be fair, this is not the first time I've been found because of this blog. Two high school friends found me earlier this fall. It's been very fun catching up with them. Before that another Meinzen researcher (though not my line as far as we can tell now) and a descendant of Abel Armitage and his second wife have contacted me. It's been very rewarding to make connections like this.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lists and Illiterate Ancestors

I'm thinking about my ancestors who were illiterate and wondering what that would have been like. I'm thinking about the lists I make so I won't forget things.

What would I do if I couldn't read or write?! How did they manage without those skills? Did they have exceptional memories? Did they have fewer things to keep in mind? Were their days so very routine that each day was like the next and once they knew the schedule they just followed it?

If more of my ancestors had been literate would I now have a diary or journal written by one of them? How I wish!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

They Look So Happy

Sometimes I browse (and breeze) through photographs without really looking at them closely. Being able to scan and enlarge them helps a lot because I can see them better and see more details (if they're not out of focus). Still, sometimes I overlook them.

I've passed over this photo many times since I scanned it last summer. My impression of it was, "nice photo of Gramma and Grampa and Aunt Naomi and Uncle Russell." But today I enlarged it for a closer look - and realized that I really, really like this photo. Don't they look happy?!

From left to right is Russell and Naomi (Meinzen) Rhome and Emma (Bickerstaff) and W. C. Robert Meinzen. Naomi and Robert are siblings. I know the photo was taken before 1950 because that's the year Uncle Russell died. Most likely it was taken in the 1940s.

I knew my grandparents when they were in their late 50s or early 60s, when they didn't look like the people in this photo at all. When I knew them they were older and more serious. This shows me a youthful, more loving, happier side of their personalities. I love that Gramma has her hand through Grampa's arm. I love their smiles and how they're just slightly leaning toward each other. I like seeing Grampa's sleeves rolled up to the inside instead of the outside, and the belt buckle that I think he wore as long as I can remember.

No, the photo's not really clear, but it's clear enough to see the smiles and recognize the joy they felt when the shutter clicked on this one moment in their lives. How pleased I am that tonight I didn't breeze past it again.

This is a Sepia Saturday post. Others will be sharing old photographs and thoughts, stories, or memories to go with them. I invite you to look and join in if you choose.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Compiling Information from Three Sources for Dixon and Rebecca (Smith) Bartley

Below is the information I can put together for Dixon and Rebecca (Smith) Bartley based on the 1840-1880 census reports, the Golden Wedding article, and Dixon's will.

Census records suggest that Dixon's birth year was between 1808 and 1810. Dixon was "nearly 80" in July, 1888, which puts his birth after July 10, 1808. Without more information I don't believe I can come any closer than that.

Since Rebecca was 68 at the time of the anniversary, her birth year would have been before July 10, 1820. Census records suggest that she may have been born after June 2 (in the 1880 census she was 59) and before June 17 (in the 1860 census she was 40). The narrowing of month and day would only be accurate if the information on the census was accurate for the date of the census (as opposed to "census day").

The marriage date of July 10, 1838, comes directly from the anniversary article.

From the Census
Concerning their children, I find the following:
b. ~1839: Eliza H. or A.
b. ~1843: Thomas
b. ~1847: Keziah Jane/Jane Keziah
b. ~1849: George W.
b. ~1851: Gillmore/Edward G.
b. ~1853-55: Elvira
b. ~1855-56: Lavina/Levinah
b. 1858: Joseph
b. 1867: Arra Bell/Arrabell

The anniversary article tells that they had 7 living children on July 10, 1888, and 6 that had died. With that information I know that 4 children are missing from census records. Based on birth years, I can guess that the 4 missing children may have been born in any of these years and died before the next census year: ~1841, ~1845, and between 1860-1865.

From Dixon's will
Dixon's will gives further information for some of the children:

Eliza was named as Eliza Ann Shakely. I now know her married name but not her husband's first name.

Jane's son, "Edward Boyed," was named but not Jane. The will was written on February 10, 1900 and I have a death announcement for Jane saying that she died February 6, 1900.

Thomas was named in the will.

Alvira (Elvira) was named, as was her husband, Fred Gerner. They are not mentioned as husband and wife in the will but they are my 2nd great-grandparents.

Lavina Steel was named.

Sula Bartley was mentioned. In other research I've done, Ursula is the wife of George W. Bartley. Since she was mentioned and he was not, I assume that he was dead at the time of the will.

Gilmore Bartley heirs (Ross, Clara, and Edward Bartley) were named, so I assume that Gilmore was also dead.

Bell Steel (Arra Bell/Arrabell in the census) was mentioned.

Since there are two daughters with the married surname of Steel, Ace Steel (mentioned along with Fred Gerner) could be the husband of either one of them. Other Steels named were Rebecca and Dixson. They could be the son and daughter of either Bell or Lavina.

It has been an interesting exercise to compile information from these three sources. I've learned a lot about Rebecca and Dixon, though I'd like to find other documents to support what I've found. I still don't know who or anything about the 4 children who are not on the census records. I don't know the death dates of any of the children except Jane and my great-grandmother, Elvira. And I don't know the spouses of the other females, nor where Rebecca Steel and Dixson Steel belong.

Doesn't it always happen with genealogy: the source of every answer causes more questions?

If there are any more experienced genealogists who read this who have suggestions for further research, I'd be grateful for them.
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