Sunday, February 27, 2011

He Grew up a Motherless Child

My father, Lee Doyle, was raised a motherless child. He and his twin sister, Leila, were born on February 27, 1913. Three days later, on March 2, Leila died. I have a vague memory of hearing that his mother, Beulah (Gerner) Doyle, heartbroken and disconsolate, went out into the cold March weather too early after giving birth. She followed Leila in death one short month later, on April 2. To Beulah’s husband, Gust, was left the care and keeping of the tiny infant, Lee, and a dairy farm.

My father mentioned his childhood on such rare occasions that it seemed his life was lived as an adult: no childhood, no youth, no parents, no previous life. But then I come from a family of non-story tellers so it didn't seem particularly unusual. As I grew older I wanted to know more but because my father seemed reluctant to talk, I asked few questions.

The quest for my father's childhood and youth began after he passed away in 1987. I first contacted Beulah’s sister, Brendice Gerner Davis, because she was the oldest living relative. I asked what she remembered and whether she and her family had much contact with Dad when he was a child. A little later I contacted my father's half-sister, Tressa Doyle Wilson, who shared some memories; and then I asked my mother if Dad ever talked about his childhood and, if so, what she remembered him saying.

Aunt Brendice wrote that she was in high school the year my dad and Leila were born. She and her family lived in Bruin, Butler County, Pennsylvania, a distance of about 50 miles from Mercer County’s town of Stoneboro, where my father was born. It was planned that Brendice would go and help take care of the babies. She said that Beulah’s death was such a shock. It was no doubt a shock to everyone she left behind.

No one seemed to know definite details about my father’s life during the first few years after his mother’s death but Aunt Brendice seemed to think that Gust’s mother, Tressa (Froman) Doyle, known as Maw to the grandchildren, took care of Dad during that time. Maw turned 46 that year and her other children, Emma and Hazel, were 27 and 23. Emma, the oldest, was already a widow with two daughters, 7-year-old Madelyn and 5-year-old Evelyn. They were living with Maw and her husband William (known as Pap to the grandchildren) in 1910, along with “adopted,” special needs son, 9-year-old Raymond. Emma remarried between 1910 and 1920 and in 1920 lived just 6 houses down the street. Perhaps Dad’s care beginning in 1913 was divided between Maw and Emma.

When Dad was 3, Gust, 27, remarried a young woman who was just 19. I suppose Gust had no way of knowing what the chemistry would be like between his new wife and his son, Lee; or perhaps she persuaded him what a good, loving mother she would be. However it happened, it didn’t work as I’m sure Gust hoped and expected.

Aunt Brendice and her family had lived near Stoneboro several years before Beulah and Gust were married. Brendice and Beulah had several sisters who were about the same ages as Gust’s sisters, Emma and Hazel. They had all become friends and saw each other once in a while. Brendice wrote, “One time (some of us girls) went to Doyles and I went in the house or to the door and asked for Lee. His step mother said he isn’t here, he is at [Emma’s] so we went to [Emma’s] and she said no, Lee is not here. She said he must be out with his Dad. And then she told us his stepmother didn’t like him and she was so mean with him that Gus took him out with him when he was a little fellow.”

I’m grateful that his father protected him but feel such sorrow that a young wife would mistreat her husband’s young son. I have heard from StepMother’s granddaughter that Gust’s wife either liked you or she didn’t. If she didn’t like you, there was nothing you could do to change her feelings. Those she didn’t like she either ignored or treated meanly.

Aunt Brendice said the only thing Dad ever said about his stepmother was that she would have things her way or else. I remember when I was a child I was talking about the Cinderella story and the wicked stepmother. Dad commented that he knew about that situation but he never elaborated.

Aunt Tressa shared some other family stories about my father’s childhood. She wrote that Gust liked homemade candy. “Mom [stepmother to Lee] didn’t always have time to make it. To keep your Dad [Lee] from being disappointed if she couldn’t make it – he [Gust] would spell candy – thinking Lee wouldn’t understand. One evening your Dad [Lee] asked Mom to make some CBS. From that time on home made candy, in our family, was CBS.”

Aunt Tressa said that Gust was an extremely good father who enjoyed his family. He and his father, Pap, very carefully taught the children how to help with the farm work as they became old enough. He was interested in his children’s education and wanted to know what they were doing in school.

Dad finished school through the 8th grade as was common with the farm boys at that time. Aunt Tressa said Dad didn’t have chores like the younger children did but worked alongside his father and Pap doing the work of the farm to keep it running and productive. That was probably common for youth during those times.

On the farm the cows were milked morning and evening. Aunt Tressa wrote that “the milk was strained into 10 gallon cans which were set in the cold water trough to cool. Every morning the cans were put on the truck (wagon in the wintertime) to be taken to the Meadow Gold Milk Plant at Sandy Lake. We took turns with 2 other farmers at taking the milk to the Plant. Each turn was for a month. Dad [Gust] or your Dad [Lee], when he was old enough to drive, would take the milk to the Plant.” She didn’t say at what age Dad began to drive. No doubt he learned to drive the horses and tractor sooner than the car and truck.

Aunt Tressa also related this about a coal mine on the farm property. “The coal mine your Dad worked in was in our pasture field. In the late 1920's Dad, Pap and your Dad dug the shaft for the mine. The shaft was 35 feet deep but I don’t know the other dimensions.... They had to keep shoring the sides to keep it from caving in. Also had to build a ladder for ascending and descending. There wasn’t any heavy equipment at that time – they had to do all the digging by hand. They struck coal at 35 feet. They built a tipple and a building for the hoist that would bring the loaded coal cars up the shaft to be emptied in the bins and returned to the bottom of the shaft. Your Dad helped with all of this....”

Dad’s father, Gust, died of colon cancer in October, 1933, the year my father turned 20. After his surgery and hospital care, the family was in debt to the hospital. Aunt Tressa said that because the hospital used coal to heat the buildings they were able to pay Gust's hospital bill in coal. My father hauled coal to the hospital - at night - to pay the debt. Aunt Tressa didn't say but Dad probably also dug the coal, perhaps with Pap's help.

Aunt Tressa remembers that Dad left the farm when he was 21, probably in the fall of 1934. StepMother was at a funeral and the rest of the children were in school. She wrote, “I knew he left because Mom wasn’t good to him. I’m sure he felt he wasn’t wanted. Evan as a little girl this was a great heartache to me. I always loved your Dad.” And, indeed, there did seem to be a special bond between Dad and Aunt Tressa. I thought she and her younger brother, Bill, were the only siblings my dad had. It wasn’t till years later that I learned there were other half-brothers and -sisters. It seems that the others leaned with their mom in their feelings toward my father while Tressa’s and Bill’s feelings toward Dad followed Gust’s.

I wonder when my father made the decision to leave the farm. It couldn’t have been an easy one for a young farm boy who knew no other means of earning a living. Did he counsel with Maw and Pap and/or with his Aunt Emma? What were his resources? My mother said he arrived in Ohio with a car and a beat-up suitcase. It seems that he relied on Aunt Brendice and several of her sisters for help. Her husband, Uncle Ray, helped Dad get a job at the Niles Rolling Mill and Dad stayed with them till he got his feet under him and could rent a room in a house.

When tape recorders first became available my father was amazed by them. He bought one and later recorded the events around his leaving the farm and moving to Ohio. I heard only some of it, recorded in a dry monotone, probably evidence of a hard shell he’d put around that part of his life, a protection from remembering the pain of being a motherless child and losing a much-loved father. I though it was hard to listen to and perhaps my mother felt the same way. She recorded over part of the tape, mistakenly, she said, not realizing there was already something on it. The recording has since been lost. Mom probably tossed it during a cleaning-out some time after my father died. I wish I had it but I know it would still be hard to hear it.

Mom remembered that Dad and his cousins Evie (Evelyn) and Ine (Madelyn) used to reminisce about the fun Gust and his sisters and their families had during holidays. Oh, to have had a video or audio recording of those reminiscences.

Except for that recording and the occasions when he and his cousins reminisced, perhaps my father never looked back. Aunt Tressa wrote that Dad “never came back to visit at the farm. When he came to visit Pap & Maw Doyle or Aunt Emma & Uncle Ed Leathers – he usually rode out past our house. I could tell the sound of his car and would wait in the front yard for him. He would stop to talk with me. Sometimes your Mom was with him.”

Dad’s early years must have been unspeakably difficult and the memories, both good and bad, painful. I’m grateful that his father, Gust, was aware of how his wife treated Dad and removed him from her presence as much as possible. I’m also grateful for the support Maw and Pap gave him. Despite the difficulties he faced when a child and youth, Dad was taught and learned the important lessons of honesty, integrity, hard work, and perseverance. Each of those attributes shone through in the life he lived.

My father would have been 98 today. Happy Birthday, Dad! I hope you’re surrounded by those who love you!

Several of the images above were cropped from the photos below. Click on an image to enlarge it, then click the back arrow in the browser window to return to this post.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why He Never Wore Shorts

In the 1960s, when he was in his 50s, it became popular --
and accepted -- for men to wear shorts.

One summer when the heat was unbearable we suggested
he buy a pair and wear them because he'd be cooler.

With emphatic finality he said,
"It took me long enough to get out of short pants,
I'm not getting back into them."

He never said how old he was when he finally got into long pants.
He never wore shorts again
except for the boxers underneath his trousers.

This is my father, Lee Doyle, at about age 6.
He was born on February 27, 1913.

This is a post for Sepia Saturday. Click on the link to visit the Sepia Saturday blog and see other contributors. Post an old photo to share, tell something about it, and join in if you like. All are welcome.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Could This Be My Jacob Saylor in the 1860 Census?

With a name like Saylor and all its variations, I wasn't able to find my Jacob Saylor in the 1860 census at FamilySearch. He just didn't come up. I decided to try Heritage Quest through my local library using a first name and state search.

This may or may not be my Jacob Saylor. The name was indexed as "Soiler." Maybe you'll take a look and compare writing and tell me what you think. Don't you wish those census takers had to pass a handwriting test?!

According to the biography of his son, Peter Saylor, in the Mercer County History, Jacob's second wife was Mary, as listed here. In the 1850 census the children were Elizabeth, 11; Jacob, 12; Frederic, 7; and Catherine, 5. In 1860, below, Elizabeth and Jacob are not listed; Fredrick is 19; Catherine is 15; and there are two more children, Teressa, 10, and Peter, 1. Also living in the home are a 74 year-old male (with an illegible name), and Mary, 69 years. Unfortunately, in 1860 the relationships to head of household were not identified.

Additionally, the family immediately below Jacob and Mary are Jacob and Elizabeth Sailer. It's possible that Jacob (with Elizabeth) is the son Jacob of the 1850 census.

More research to do.
1860 U.S. Census, Pennsylvania, Mercer, West Salem Township, West Greenville post office, Written page 57, Printed page 851, Dwelling #410, Family #409, Lines 21-28, June 18, 1860. Heritage Quest, Series M653, Roll 1140, Page 851. Indexed as Soiler.

Jacob Sailer, 44 years, male, farmer, $1200 real estate owned, $175 personal estate owned, born Germany
Mary Sailer, 25 years, female, born Germany
Fredrick Sailer, 19 years, male, born Germany
Catherine Sailer, 15 years, female, born Germany
Teressa Sailer, 10 years, female, born Pa, in school during the year
Peter Sailer, 1[?], male, born Pa
? Sailer, 74 years, male, born Germany
Mary Sailer, 69 years, female, born Germany
[lines 29-33]
Jacob Sailer, 28 years, male, coal digger, $811[?] personal estate owned, born Germany
Elizabeth Sailer, 21 years, female, born Germany
Daniel Sailer, 5 years, male, born Pa, in school during the year
Elizabeth Sailer, 3 years, female, born Pa
Marcus Sailer, 8/12 year, male, born Pa

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Searching for Jacob Saylor and Family, of Mercer County, Pennsylvania

My first clue about Jacob Saylor came from Catherine Saylor Froman's death certificate where her father was named as Jacob Saylor. My next clue came from the biographical entry for Peter Saylor in A Twentieth Century History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania where Jacob was named as the father of Peter as well as of Catherine, widow of John Frohman, of West Salem Township. That biographical sketch is somewhat unclear in the way it's written but I think I can use it for clues and, with further searching, clarify the information.

This is what I think I've found about Jacob Saylor and his family from the Mercer County history:

Jacob Saylor
born abt. 1812 in Baron, Germany
died abt. 1870 in Mercer County, Pennsylvania

Spouse #1
Elizabeth Shaefer - married in Germany
born ?
died 1858 (probably Mercer County) Pennsylvania

Children (5 living, 7 dead in 1909)
Jacob - dead by 1909
Fred - working at Bessemer Mills, Sharon, Pa in 1909
Elizabeth - dead by 1909
Catherine - widow of John Frohman, West Salem Township
Theresa - wife of Adam Lininger, Greenville, Pa

The above information suggests the names and ages of individuals who should be in the 1850 census. I found a family who could be my Jacob Saylor. The image and transcription are below.
1850 U.S. Census, Pennsylvania, Mercer, Hickory Township, printed page 88, dwelling 327, family number 332, lines 29-34. 5 October, 1850. ( Film #444764, Digital GS# 4205100, Image #00052)

(Click on the image to the right to see it larger.)

Jacob Sailor, 37 years, male, miner, born Germany
Elizabeth Sailor, 36 years, female, born Germany, cannot read or write
Elizabeth Sailor, 11 years, female, born Germany
Jacob Sailor, 13 years, male, born Germany
Frederic Sailor, 7 years, male, born Germany, in school during the year
Catherine Sailor, 5 years, female, born Germany
Notes, Comments, Thoughts
Why, if 5 children were still alive in 1909, were only 3 living children mentioned in the biography in the county history? Sibling (or half-sibling) rivalry? A rift in the family? Who are the other two living children?

In searching the 1850 U.S. census in Pennsylvania for the surnames Saylor and variants, I found no others that include Jacob Saylor with a daughter, Catherine of about the correct age.

The names in this census record agree with the names in the county history. The age for Catherine Sailor in this census closely agrees with her birth date of June 5, 1844. If this is my Saylor family, the birth years of the family members are as follows: Jacob, abt. 1813; Elizabeth, abt. 1814; Elizabeth, abt. 1839; Jacob, abt. 1837; Frederic, abt. 1843; and Catherine, abt. 1845.

If I can find Jacob Saylor in the 1860 U.S. census, his wife should be Mary. The children may be the same but 10 years older. Some of them may have moved from home.

A brief google search for "Baron, Germany" did not show a location of that name. I'll have to do some historical map searches and consider alternative/similar names.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jacob Saylor in a Mercer County, Pennsylvania, History

I began a more intense search for Jacob Saylor the other day and decided to condense and evaluate the information in a Mercer County, Pennsylvania, county history. I'm publishing this transcription now as a reference for an upcoming post.

I began a more intense search for Jacob Saylor the other day and decided to condense and evaluate the information in A Twentieth Century History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People, and Its Principal Interests, Prepared Under the General Editorial Supervision of Mr. J. G. White, available at Google Books. I believe The Jacob Saylor mentioned there is my great-great-grandfather.

I'm publishing this transcription now as a reference for an upcoming post. Perhaps the information is accurate and perhaps it isn't. I thought it best to evaluate and compare other evidence I've found about Jacob Saylor.

This is my line to Jacob: me --> Lee Doyle --> Gust Doyle --> Tressa Rose Froman --> Catherine Saylor --> Jacob Saylor.

PETER SAYLOR, a farmer who tills the fertile soil in West Salem township, Mercer County, was born June 5, 1859, in the township named. He is the son of JACOB SAYLOR, Sr., born in Baron, Germany, in 1812. He came to this country at the age of forty, with his parents, the grandfather being Daniel Saylor, who settled in old West Salem township. Both were coal miners in Germany and the grandfather was also a shoemaker. He died in 1845. JACOB SAYLOR, who was the father of PETER of this notice, upon his arrival here went to mining at the old coal mines known as the Joy & Rankin mines, where he remained for six years. He then leased and operated a mine on Coal Hill in 1860. This he sold to Andrew Bennett in 1862 and purchased the farm on which he lived the remainder of his life, dying about 1870. He was first married in Germany to Elizabeth Shaefer, daughter of J. Shaefer, who was a coal miner in Germany. By this marriage twelve children were born, five of whom are now living, and seven are deceased. Among them were Jacob, deceased; Fred, employed in the Bessemer Mills, at Sharon, Pennsylvania; Elizabeth, deceased; Catherine, widow of John Frohman, of West Salem township; Theresa, wife of Adam Lininger, of Greenville.

His first wife dying in 1858, Jacob Saylor married secondly Mary Frohman, daughter of J. Frohman, who came from Germany and settled in Sheakleyville and was a weaver by trade. To this second marriage were born seven children, of whom Peter is the eldest. The others are: Melinda, wife of August Brooks, of Greenville; Anna, Mrs. Whorton, whose husband is an oil operator at Wheeling, West Virginia; Josephine, Mrs. Callahan, of Greenville; Louisa, Mrs. G. Welk, of Meadville; Otto, a conductor on the Erie Railroad, at Greenville; Alexander, of Greenville. In all, the father had nineteen children, by the first and second marriages.

Peter Saylor had the advantages of the public schools until twelve years of age, then was employed in the coal mines for a period of fifteen years. He then followed farming for two years on his father's farm. But seeing it to his financial advantage, he shifted from the farm to the mines again and operated the old Morford mine, abandoned by P. I. Kimberly. This mine he tunneled at great expense, and the project finally proved successful and he made a good profit on his outlay and general investment. He then bought additional land to the old homestead now owning one hundred and eighty-eight acres of well improved land, styled the "Prospect View Farm," the same being the highest tract of land in West Salem township. This was originally known as Joy's Corners, of Coal Hill. Mr. Saylor is a supporter of the principles of the Republican party, and in church faith is an adherent of the Reformed denomination.

He was united in marriage when twenty-three years of age to Caroline, who was born November 19, 1860, in Ohio, a daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Schank. The following children were born by this union. Five are deceased and the living are Fred Charles, a farmer of West Salem township, who married Silva Ruff; T. Pearl, wife of William Ruff, coal miner; Stanley, Harry, Ralph, Lottie, Raymond, Grace and Rosetta.

White, John G., A Twentieth Century History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People, and Its Principal Interests, Prepared Under the General Editorial Supervision of Mr. J. G. White, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1909, Volume 2, pp. 725-726.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Six Years Beyond Four Score - William Bickerstaff

William Bickerstaff was my great-great-grandfather. I know so little about him but because he was born on February 14, 1807, I'm posting two obituaries to honor his birthday and remember him.

Happy Birthday, Grampa!

This obituary was published in The Steubenville Weekly Gazette on Friday, March 24, 1893, p. 12.

William Bickerstaff.
After living six years beyond four score William Bickerstaff, usually called "Uncle Billy" died at 4:20 Wednesday morning at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Mary Kidd, on South Fifth street, aged 86 years, 1 month and eight days. He was born on the "Widow Bair" farm in Cross Creek township on February 14, 1807. He was the son of Augustine and Eliza Bickerstaff and was the last of the members of his family who were among the early settlers in this section, being pioneer Methodists and Democrats. He was married in 1829 to Susan Holmes of Tuscarawas county. His wife, after a long, happy and blessed union of 54 years, survives her husband with nine children. They are Augustine and Enos of this city, Ellis of McKeesport, William N., John and Lewis of this city. Mrs. Mary Kidd of this city, Elizabeth Nelson and Ann Curfman of Steubenville township. He was at the time of [his] death a member of Findley M. E. chapel and he had been a member of the Methodist church for 52 years. He had always been a very devout man, firm in his doctrines, both religious and political. As a Democrat he never swerved from the glorious principles of the party he has voted with since 1828. He was held in highest esteem by our people who had the fullest confidence in his integrity.
This obituary was published in The Steubenville [Weekly] Herald on Friday March 24, 1893, p. 4.

Wm. Bickerstaff
Another of Jefferson county's oldest citizens has passed away in the person of Wm. Bickerstaff, who died on Wednesday morning, at 4:20, at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Mary Kidd on South Sixth street, at the age of 86 years, one month and eight days. Mr. Bickerstaff was born in Cross Creek township, this county, on February 14, 1807, his parents being Augustine and Elizabeth Bickerstaff. He was the last member of his family. In 1829 he married Miss Susan Holmes, of Tuscarawas county, who survives him with six sons and three daughters as follows: Augustine, Enos, Wm. N., John and Lewis, of this city, and Ellis, of McKeesport, Pa.; Mrs. Mary Kidd, of this city, and Mrs. Elizabeth Nelson and Mrs. Ann Curfman, of Steubenville township. The deceased lived in Cross Creek township all his life following the occupation of farming, and came to Mrs. Kidd's residence about two weeks ago. In politics he was a strict Democrat, and has been a devout Methodist for fifty-two years. Lately he has been a member of Finley chapel in the Sixth ward. He was always highly esteemed by his friends and neighbors, and his death breaks another link which bind the present to the early days of this community.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Stories They Never Told

I come from a long line of non-storytellers.  I don't know if the stories weren't there or if, perhaps, telling the stories would have revealed more than the non-storytellers wanted others to know.  Maybe they just left the past in the past.  For whatever reason, it means I don't really have many second-hand memories that were given to me in the first person by any of my direct-line ancestors.

I remember one sort-of story my mom told about her childhood.  Her mother gave her a 50¢ piece to go to the store to buy bread and milk.  She dropped the coin in the snow and couldn't find it.  End of story.
So I asked, "What did you do?"
"I went home," she said.
"What happened when you got home?"

Absolutely end of story.  Did her mom give her more money and she had to go back to the store?  Did her mom send a sister to help look for the coin?  What did they do without the bread and milk?  She would reveal nothing more.  Maybe she forgot.  Or maybe something unpleasant happened.  I don't know and probably never will.

I know little about my grandparents other than my own memories of them.  Gramma never spoke about her own childhood or her parents, said nothing about her growing up years.  We have lovely childhood portraits of her, but no second-hand memories.  Grampa, when asked questions about his family, was very quick to tell the questioner, "Ask Aunt Mina," one of his older siblings.

My father was even less forthcoming than my mother, if that's possible.  His parents were both gone before he turned 21; I didn't know their names till I was a teenager.  Certainly there would have been lots of interesting experiences growing up on a farm!  He shared nothing about his dad or his grandparents, nor about his aunts.  What I know about his childhood comes from his half-sister and one of his aunts.

It's sad to realize that I know so little about the personalities and attributes of ancestors who lived just two or three generations ago.  They are completely unknown to me except through what I discover in documents and newspapers.

More than anything else I think sharing memories about a person and telling stories about events brings the individual and the time period to life.  I often share my first-hand memories with my daughters.  Occasionally one of my daughters will say, "Tell the story about...."  I hope you share your memories and tell stories, too!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Henry and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen & Family in the Census - 1870-1920

Below is the family of Henry and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen as they appear in census records from 1870 to 1920. I think census records are an amazing, brief view of family situations across an expanse of time. It's almost like you can see the children growing before your eyes.

I decided to put notes and comments at the beginning so that as you scroll through the records below, you have a bit of a guide.

Notes and Comments
Henry's place of birth changes from Prussia in 1870, to Hanover in 1880, to Germany. I had hope this would indicate his hometown but it seems that Hanover indicates a larger geographic area in this situation.

I thought finding Joseph Raash of the 1870 census in subsequent census records might help me find more detail about Henry's place of origin but I haven't been able to find him.

Henry, age 62 in 1900, still had 10 single children living at home; the youngest was just 2 years old. Henry was 32 when he married; Elizabeth was 17.

There are several children who do not appear in Henry's and Elizabeth's census records because they were born and died between census years.

I think the name changes from one census to the next are interesting: Eliza/Elizabeth (1870/all others); Minnie/Wilhelmina (1900/1910); Luella/Lula (1900/1910); and Naomi/Naoma (1900/1910). None seem as though they are spelling variations or census taker's hearing except possibly Naomi/Naoma.
1870 U.S. Census
Steubenville, Ward 4, Jefferson, Ohio, written page 36, Dwelling Number 268, Family Number 273, lines 5-7, 11 July 1870. Roll: M593-1228, Page 126, Image: 255

MINSON Henry, 32, male, white, works at railroad, born Prussia, father & mother foreign born, eligible to vote
--------- Eliza, 18, female, white, keeping home, born England, father & mother foreign born
RAASH Joseph, 24, male, white, works at railroad, born Prussia, father & mother foreign born

1880 U.S. Census
Steubenville, Ward 5, Jefferson, Ohio, written page 28, North 8th Street, Dwelling 251, Family 257, lines 3-8, 9 June 1880. Roll: T9-1037, Family History Film 1255037, Page 547,5000, E.D. 114, Image 0687

MINZEN Henry, 41, married, laborer, born Hanover, father & mother born Hanover
--------- Elizabeth, 28, married, keeping house, born England, father & mother born England
--------- Henry, 10, son, single, at school, born Ohio, father born Hanover, mother born England
--------- William, 8, son, at school, born Ohio, father born Hanover, mother born England
--------- Hannah, 5, daughter, single, at home, born Ohio, father born Hanover, mother born England
--------- Edward, 1, son, single, at home, born Ohio, father born Hanover, mother born England

1900 U.S. Census
Cross Creek Twp., [New Alexandria] Jefferson, Ohio. E.D. 65, sheet 9, Dwelling 180, Family 187, lines 36-47, 12 June 1900.

MEINZEN Henry, born Jul 1837, 62, married 30 years, born Germany, father & mother born Germany, immigrated 1866, 34 years in U.S., naturalized citizen, gardener, 4 months unemployed this year, can read, write, speak English, rents a farm
--------- Elizabeth, wife, born Aug 1852, 47, married 30 years, mother of 15 children, 11 living, born England, immigrated 1864, 36 years in U.S., father & mother born England, cannot read or write, speaks English
--------- Hannah, born Feb 1875, 25 years, single, born Ohio, parents born Germany, can read & write, speak English
--------- Edward, born March 1879, 21, single, born Ohio, farm laborer, 0 mo. unemployed, can read, write, speaks English
--------- Isabella, born Aug 1880, 19, single, born Ohio, can read, write, speak English
---- Walter, born Nov 1882, 17, single, born Ohio, farm laborer, 0 months unemployed, can read, write, speaks English
--------- Minnie, born Jan 1885, 15, single, born Ohio
--------- Luella, born Jan 1887, 13, single, at school 8 months, can read, write, speaks English
--------- Bertha, born Oct 1888, 11, single, born Ohio, at school 8 months, can read, write, speaks English
--------- Robert, born Feb 1891, 9, single, born Ohio, in school
--------- Jacob, born Dec 1893, 6, single, born Ohio
--------- Naomi F., born May 1898, 2, single, born Ohio
1910 U.S. Census
Steubenville Ward 1, Jefferson, Ohio, House 306, Family 57, South High Street, written sheet #3, lines 21-28, 18 April 1910. Series: T624, Roll: 1201; pg. 40A, E.D. 121, Part 2

MEINZEN Henry, 72, married 40 years, born Germany, parents born Germany, groser [sic], can read, write,
--------- Elizabeth, 57, married 40 years, 6 children living, born England, can red, write
--------- Edward, 28, born Ohio, can read, write
--------- Wilhelmina, 25, Ohio, can read, write
--------- Lula, 23, born Ohio
--------- Robert, 18, born Ohio, can read, write
--------- Jacob, 16, born Ohio, can read, write
--------- Naoma, 11, born Ohio, can red, write
1920 U.S. Census
Steubenville Township, Steubenville 4th Ward, Jefferson, Ohio, 1540 Oregon Avenue, Ohio, E. D. 231, Page 288, Sheet 16A, lines 6-8. Roll T625-1402, Image 111B. 24 January 1920.

MINCIN Henry, own, free of mortgage, male, white, 82, married, immigrated 1866, naturalized in 1871, can read, write, born Hanover, Germany, native language German, parents born Hanover Germany, speaks English, no trade/profession
-------- Elizabeth, wife, female, white, 67, married, immigrated 1864, naturalized 1871, can read & write, born England, native language English, parents born England, no trade/profession
HENDRICKS Edna, granddaughter, female, white, 11, single, attended school, can read & write, born Ohio, parents born Ohio

One of Emma's Studio Portraits

This is my maternal grandmother, Emma Virginia Bickerstaff. As far as I can tell, she had more studio portraits made than any other family member, on either side of my family, and they are wonderful portraits.

This one is presented three ways: as shown at left; as at left but with a large mat around it; and as a long oval with most of the background cut out. I like the oval best but appreciate seeing more of the chair and background in this one.

I think the chair is interesting with its spindles, ornate carving, and the open mouth of an animal on the arm. I wonder about the pillow behind her legs. Does it serve some particular purpose or is it an accidental touch? I can't tell what she's holding in her left but I think they may be flowers.

I don't know when this photo was taken. She was born in July, 1892. Could she be 8 or 10 in this photo? Could this have been a birthday portrait?

If you enlarge the photo (by clicking on it, then clicking again), you'll see that it's just slightly blurry - not noticed by the naked eye in the smaller versions but definitely obvious when enlarged digitally. The photographer was F. D. Blackburn of Steubenville, Ohio.

I invite you to visit Sepia Saturday and view others' old photographs and thoughts about them.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Grandfather's Unhappiest Birthday

My maternal grandfather, William Carl Robert Meinzen, was born on this day, February 8, in 1892 (although some records suggest it might have been 1891). Either way, this is the anniversary of his birthday. He was born in Steubenville, Ohio, the son of Henry Carl and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen.

I suspect that his unhappiest birthday was 1973, the year he turned 81. It was unhappy because his wife and my grandmother, Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen, died on February 7, 1973. She'd gone to the hospital just a few days earlier and I don't think any of us realized how serious it was. I think all of us were filled with disbelief that she could be gone. But it must have been the worst for my grandfather. They'd been married nearly 60 years.

I believe they are together now and I hope they are enjoying each other's company. Happy Birthday, Grampa!

Monday, February 7, 2011

An Anniversary of a Death

This is the anniversary of the death of my maternal grandmother, Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen. She lived just two houses away from us and was the comfort of my childhood. She was the only grandmother I knew. I share her obituary today because she died the day before her husband's 81st birthday.

The obituary below was published in a local newspaper but my mother did not note which one. It could have been The Niles Daily Times, The Youngstown Vindicator, or The Warren Tribune Chronicle.
Mrs. Robert Meinzen

MINERAL RIDGE -- Mrs. Emma Meinzen, 79, of 30 Furnace St., died of a heart attack at 11 p.m., Wednesday in Trumbull Memorial Hospital after she became ill at home.

Mrs. Meinzen was born July 6, 1893, in Mingo Junction, a daughter of Edward J. and Mary Thompson Bickerstaff. She was a member of Mineral Ridge United Methodist Church and VFW auxiliary of Mineral Ridge.

Besides her husband, Robert, to whom she was married Sept. 8, 1913, she leaves four daughters, Mrs. Audrey Doyle of Mineral Ridge, Mrs. Jerry Foulk of Warren, Mrs. ... and Pauline Meinzen, both of Parma; two sisters, Mrs. Mayme Morris and Miss Cora Bickerstaff, and a brother, Dan, all of Mineral Ridge; eight grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lane Funeral Home Mineral Ridge Chapel, where friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. today. [In my mother's hand: 2/7/1973]
Notes and Comments
As far as I know, my grandmother was not a member of the VFW auxiliary. She was, however, a member of the Daughters of Rebekah, the IOOF women's auxiliary.

The marriage date is inaccurate. My grandparents were married in 1914.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why I Search for My Ancestors: "Be a blessing to your family."

Early February is the anniversary of when I began an earnest search for my ancestors. It was just over five years ago that, with my daughters both grown and generally independent, I wondered what I should do with my time. Was there something in particular the Lord had in mind? I’d devoted much of my time to being a wife and mother along with small and irregular part-time jobs and some church responsibilities. Should I get a full-time job? Get involved with additional volunteer activities? Make more quilts? What?

After prayer, the answer came: “Be a blessing to your family.” That was a surprise because I always assumed I was (even though I had never carefully considered whether I was). I served my family by caring for and supporting my husband and daughters; kept a home where meals were prepared, laundry was done, the house was clean, etc. (sometimes with their help); and I taught my daughters right and wrong, how to make choices, and how to become responsible adults. But if being a blessing was what I was to do, I decided to be more careful about being a wife and mother. Careful as I was, it seemed like I was missing, or misunderstanding, something. It seemed there was something else or something more I was supposed to be doing. I just wasn’t sure what.

I continued to ponder and pray and consider what I could do to be a blessing to my family and an answer came: “Find your ancestors!” And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

Seeking my ancestors is both a blessing for them and a blessing to me. My perspective and understanding of them, their lives, and the times in which they lived has broadened and deepened. I know I’ll never fully understand the circumstances and times of their lives nor some of their decisions, yet I’ve grown to love them as I learn about them. I’m grateful for the opportunity to search for -- and especially to find -- my foremothers, forefathers, and their families so that the memory of their lives can be preserved through my memories and the memories I share of what I’ve found.

In many ways it seems like I’ve made good progress, especially because I’ve been searching for my direct line ancestors as well as for the siblings of my ancestors. On the other hand, when I consider how many of my ancestors I haven’t found, it seems like my progress is slow and barely successful.

I’ll keep going with what I’ve set out to do until I receive inspiration to change directions.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bertha Meinzen Henderson - Death Certificate

Bertha Meinzen Henderson is the last of the adult children of Henry and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen who died prematurely. Elizabeth bore 15 children; only 6 were alive at the time of her death. Bertha is my grandfather's sister.
County of Jefferson.... File No. 32528....
City of Steubenville, (No. 1422 Oregon St....)
2 FULL NAME Mrs. Bertha Henderson
6 DATE OF BIRTH Oct 5, 1888
7 AGE 29 yrs. 7 mos. 9 ds.
8 OCCUPATION Housewife
10 NAME OF FATHER Henry Meinzen
12 MAIDEN NAME OF MOTHER Elizabeth Armitage
14 THE ABOVE IS TRUE TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE (Informant) Wm Henderson (Address) 1422 Oregon Ave
15 Filed 5/17, 1918 Chas I Beans Dep Registrar

16 DATE OF DEATH May 14, 1918
17 I HEREBY CERTIFY, That I attended deceased from May 12, 1918, to May 14, 1918, that I last saw her alive on May 14, 1918, and that death occurred on the date stated above a 9 Pm.
The CAUSE OF DEATH was as follows: Facial Erysipelas [barely legible] (Duration) 1 ds. Contributory Carbuncle
(Signed) Edward J. C. Sander, M. D.
May 17, 1918 (Address) Steubenville Ohio
18 LENGTH OF RESIDENCE (For Hospitals....) [blank]
19 PLACE OF BURIAL OR REMOVAL [not legible] DATE OF BURIAL May 19 1918
20 UNDERTAKER [not legible] ADDRESS Steubenville O
Notes and Comments
There may have been an obituary for Bertha but I have been unable to locate any Steubenville newspapers published at the time of her death. I keep hoping one will surface.

The certificate inaccurately gives Bertha's mother's place of birth as Germany. She was born in England.

Though the location of birth is not legible on the certificate, Bertha was buried in Union Cemetery, Steubenville, Ohio.

Erysipelas is a skin infection caused by strep. It can be treated with antibiotics which were unavailable during Bertha's lifetime. A carbuncle is a skin infection that involves a group of hair follicles. In our times it is difficult to understand how quickly an infection like this could lead to death.

Bertha left her husband, William Henderson, and a son, William O. Henderson, who was about 9 years old at the time of his mother's death.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Humility, Be Gone! The Annual iGene Awards at My Ancestors and Me

February's Carnival of Genealogy features the Annual iGene Awards for which each genealogy blogger chooses his or her own best posts for 2010 in five different categories. Thanks to Carnival of Genealogy hostess, Jasia, at Creative Gene for creating the Carnival.

We will dispense with naming all nominations for each category and move on to the most important part of this event, the presentation of awards.

For Best Picture the winner is Eyes That Engage the Camera. View this school photo of my father, Lee Doyle, and a post about his youthful appearance, personality, and a bit about his childhood.

Best Screen Play goes to Father, Daughter, Swimming Hole for the last photo in the post, one of children at play which will appear on your screen. The award for Best Screen Play also goes to Elizabeth for a more serious kind of screenplay. Follow Elizabeth from her childhood in a coal mining area of England, across the sea as she immigrates to America, marries, bears children, buys property, and suffers through the deaths of many of her children.

For Best Documentary a trio of posts receives the honor. They are Searching for Hannah, Finding Hannah, What I Know about Hannah. This details one of my first family history searches for one of my grandfather's siblings and the results of the search.

For Best Biography A Kind & Generous Woman wins this category. Watch Elvira as she marries and becomes a farmer's wife, has children, pulls up stakes and moves to another state a year after her marriage, returns several children later, and serves in her community as midwife.

The award for Best Comedy goes to A Big Radish, a post which originally received little notice but is the best comedy of the year on this blog. Henry grows a garden and almost misses the harvest. Imagine a children's story book or a short movie.

Thanks to all viewers and commenters on this blog. You make it so very worthwhile because it affirms that someone is reading. Thanks, again, to Jasia for hosting the Carnival of Genealogy.

If you'd like to view other iGene Award recipients, please go to Creative Gene in a few days when the results will be posted. (Or check back here and I'll post a direct link.)
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