Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Thought He Was Dead

I thought George W. Bartley was dead in 1900 because his father, Dixon, bequeathed $600.00 to George's wife, Ursula, but made no mention of George. Dixon wrote his will in February, 1900.

I'm just now beginning a deeper search for the children of Dixon and Rebecca (Smith) Bartley, which explains why I didn't know that George and Ursula are in census records of 1910 through 1930.

When searching for Dixon Bartley at SortedByName, Dixon and his wife Rebecca appeared as the parents of George W. Bartley:
BARTLEY, George W. (child of Rebecca Smith (mother) and Dixon Bartley) ; died 1 May 1931 in Hancock, West Virginia.
and
BARTLEY, George W. (son of Rebecca Smith (mother) who was born in Penna. and Dixon Bartley who was born in Penna.) was born 12 Nov 1850 in Penna.;; died 1 May 1931 in Chester, Hancock, West Virginia; and was buried 3 May 1931 in Locust Hill.

Clicking the first link took me to a Hancock County, West Virginia, death registry where some of information from the death certificate had been transcribed. The second link took me to an online view of George W.'s death certificate (shown at left) at West Virginia Vital Records Research.

George and Ursula, along with my great-grandmother, Elvira, (who was George's sister) and her husband Fred Gerner, moved to West Virginia in the 1870s. All of them returned to Butler County, Pennsylvania by the time of the 1900 census. A quick search of the census shows me that George W. and Ursula moved back to West Virginia between 1900 and 1910 and remained there until George's death.

Conveniently, SortedByName also provided links to death certificates for several of George's and Ursula's children and one for Ursula, herself, who died four years after her husband.

I'd like to find obituaries for this great-great-aunt and -uncle.
And I'd especially like to know why George W. Bartley wasn't included in his father's will!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two New Resources (to me, at least) -- Tuesday's Tip Times Two

I'm sharing two resources today: Family Search Research Courses and SortedByName.

Some other savvy GeneaBlogger may have mentioned this before and I missed it, so I'm sharing it in case you haven't read or heard about it either: FamilySearch offers free, online Research Courses. Some are as short at 5 minutes; others last about an hour; and some are in a series of several.

Some of their topics (with number of courses in parentheses) bu category are:

Beginning Research in Australia (3), England (10), Germany (3), Ireland (5), Italy (1), New Zealand (1), Poland (3), and Mexico (1)

Reading Handwritten Records includes Dutch (3), English (3), French (3), German (3), Italian (3), Latin (1), Polish (3), Portuguese (3), Russian (3), Scandinavian (3), and Spanish (3)

Research Principles and Tools includes presentations on Interviewing, Cemetery Art, Descendancy Research, Maps, Social Networking, Finding More at a Genealogy Library, Beginner Genealogy Mistakes, Inferential Genealogy, Managing Your Family Records on the Internet, Research Logs, Timelines, Thinking Creatively about Research Problems, Tips & Topics from 50 Years of Research, among others.

There are 40 other courses relating to genealogy in the USA, for which I'm not going to list topics. Under the section "Accreditation, Certification, and Professional Presentations" there are more than two dozen more topics.

You might find something helpful. You might even find something you didn't know you were looking for!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SortedByName is resource I found because I watched one of the above Research Courses.

In some ways it might be similar to Mocavo because it collects information from the web and gives the reader a link, but SortedByName is unlike Mocavo in that it has already collected the name and source link.

SortedByName seems slightly cumbersome because one must choose the letter of the last name, then choose the appropriate page, dictionary style. After getting to the appropriate page, one scrolls down until arriving at the last and first name, then looks at the possible links.

One thing I do like about it is that it gives relationship names, event, and date:
BARTLEY, George W. (child of Rebecca Smith (mother) and Dixon Bartley) ; died 1 May 1931 in Hancock, West Virginia. 706,495
Here’s why you should check the source file.
Clicking on "source file" took me directly to a downloadable image of the West Virginia death certificate for George.

I don't know what sources have been indexed by SortedByName but their front page states they have nearly 42,000,000 entries. If they happen to have the person you need, it's a great source.

Those are my newest resources. I hope you find something useful. Happy searching!

Monday, June 27, 2011

This Morning . . .

. . . while harvesting lavender, immersed in the delightful and heady fragrance, I wondered . . .

Did any of my grandmothers
love lavender as much as I do?

I hope so. I hope they grew it and cut it and kept it all winter to remind them of summer's fresh days. I hope it was as much a delight to them as it is to me.

Do you ever wonder if your ancestors did some of the same things you do, and how different their experiences were from yours?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Leslie Albrecht Huber and The Journey Takers at Family History Lessons

"If you've ever had the opportunity to visit places where your ancestors lived you'll know what an amazing experience it is and you really develop that emotional connection with them. They become real and you develop an understanding of their experiences as you get to know them."
Leslie Albrecht Huber, author of The Journey Takers

Enjoy Leslie's complete presentation at FamilySearch's Family History Lessons. It is a little less than an hour long and is interesting and worthwhile. She reads excerpts from her book, shares some of her research experiences, and gives some helpful search lessons.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Her Webster's Spelling Recipe Book, Cover & Page 1 - Family Recipe Friday

Among the treasures found in my aunt's apartment after her death a few years ago was this old "Webster Spelling No. 5525" tablet, filled with "Special Form Spelling Blanks." Another aunt took possession of it, then gave it to me. I was delighted. I have loved paper and notebooks and tablets since I was a child and from first glance I knew it was a treasure. How much of a treasure I wouldn't know until I looked inside.

Delicate is a mild word for its condition. The perforated pages were completely separated from the stapled binding. As I gently lifted the cover I found pages of recipes written by the precious hand of my grandmother, Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen.

Gramma was an excellent baker who rarely used recipes, so this tablet is a puzzle. On the cover are spaces for name, grade, school, and class. Each space has words or numbers written in pencil but only the number "4" on the line for class is legible. I cannot tell the year the tablet was printed--or the year my grandmother filled it with recipes--though it was patented on Dec. 14, 1909. Gramma would have been 16 that year but her handwriting looks more mature. That she, or someone else, used it while mixing and baking is evidenced by the remnants of drips and drops blotching the pages. The bottom edges of the pages are ragged and frayed from use and some of the last lines of ingredients or directions are illegible or completely worn away.

I've not made any of these recipes yet. Some list ingredients without instructions, as in the Beet Salad, below. Should I shred or grate or chop the beets, cabbage, and horse radish? Should I cook them--or not--before or after the shredding/grating/chopping? Should the vinegar, salt, and sugar be mixed and poured or cooked together first? Should the whole marinate for a day or be served immediately? Served hot or cold? I will experiment. Other recipes give more specific and/or step-by-step instructions and will be easier to follow.

The front of the first page has three recipes.

Beet Salad
1 qt. of beets.
1 qt. of cabbage.
1/2 cup of horse radish
2 cups vinegar
1 tablespoonful Salt.
1/2 cup. Sugar
1/2 teaspoonful of pepper

Devils Food Cake.
1 cup Sugar - White
1/2 " Shortening lard-[written at an angle at the end of the line] -butter
1 egg whole.
1 cup Sour Milk.
4 teaspoons cocoa.
1 " soda
1 " cinnamon
1 " vanilla
2 cups flower [sic]

Nut Bread.
1 scant cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon Salt.
1 cup [sour?] milk [and the rest of the recipe is illegible]

And on the reverse of the first page is this recipe.
(Soft Ginger Cookies).
3/4 cup lard, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 cup molas[ses,] 2 cup sour Milk, 1 teaspoon Soda, 1 1/4 teaspoons S[oda,] 4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of Ginger. Cream lard & Sugar. Add eggs well beaten. Beat well & add molasses. Mix & sift flour, Sift spices. Dissolve Soda in Sour Milk & add quickly to mixture. Beat hard & add remaining flour. Mix thoroly [sic]. Drop [from] teasp. onto oiled & floured sheets & bake 15 min. in Moderate oven. Flatten each teaspoon of dough before baking.
If you try any of these recipes, please tell me how they turned out! Thanks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This Makes Me Laugh

This blog, My Ancestors and Me, is a little blog that, most days, has fewer than 2 dozen pageviews. So you can imagine my surprise when I looked at the blogger stats and found that one of my posts, Helps for Translating That Old German Handwriting, had been viewed 574 times today! Wow! The power of one well-read blog (and its owner) of directing traffic to other blogs is amazing!

Thank you, Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings, for most of those pageviews. I hope the folks who came to view that post found it helpful.

It makes me laugh with pleasure to think that so many people came to read a post on my little blog.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Birthday Girl

My younger daughter is a fun-loving, energetic, enthusiastic young woman with a delightful sense of humor. She's also generous, good-hearted, and compassionate, among many other wonderful attributes. And she's celebrating a birthday today.

Happy, happy birthday, Dear Daughter!


(Just in case you're wondering about the photo, she enjoys playing and experimenting with the camera and sometimes photographs herself. Not bad for a self-portrait, eh?)

Fathers of My Heart

Happy Father's Day to my father and grandfathers.
Top row, left to right, Lee Doyle, Gust Doyle, William Doyle, Andrew Doyle
Bottom row, left to right, W. C. Robert Meinzen, Henry Meinzen, Edward Jesse Bickerstaff, Dixon Bartley

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's Dolly's Birthday Today!

Dolly, the little tyke in this photo, is celebrating her birthday today. I don't know if this is a birthday photo or not but as happy as everyone looks, it sure could have been.

Sitting on the left is my mother's youngest sister, Polly Meinzen. She was probably about 15 at the time this was taken. The man behind Dolly is my grandfather, William Carl Robert "Bob" Meinzen, looking happier than I've ever seen him! He looks positively radiant, and it's fun to see him looking so. By the time I was old enough to remember him, perhaps 15 years later, there wasn't much joy left.

I can't quite place the location of this photo. At first I thought it was my grandparents' house but the arrangement of the wall and door isn't quite right. Maybe some family member who sees this will recognize the location.

Dolly is my cousin and while "Dolly" was the perfect name for her when she was little -- doesn't she remind you of Shirley Temple but with blonde hair? -- she adopted a more mature name in adulthood. I think the only people who still call her Dolly are family members.

Happy, happy birthday, Dolly. I hope you have a great day and a wonderful year!


This is a Sepia Saturday post. Go to the link to find others who are posting photos from earlier times.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Helps for Translating That Old German Handwriting

A year or two ago I requested and received some church records written in the late 1800s in German.  The handwriting was completely indecipherable to me!  I trusted that they were the records of my ancestors because the church historian who had searched the church ledgers knew the old German handwriting and assured me that they were for my ancestors.  It wasn't enough, though. I wanted to know for myself what the handwriting said, so I looked for websites where I could learn Old German handwriting.

I realized that there are two problems with Old German documents.  The first is that the alphabet is not the same so I had to translate the letters from Old German to English.  Second, I still couldn't read them until I translated the German words to English.  Double work!

Depending on the age of the documents, you may need to translate from Fraktur, Sütterlin/Suetterlin, or Kurrent.  It will be fairly easy to determine which handwriting was used if you compare the letters on your document to the letters from each style of writing.

One of the resources I found very helpful was a lecture hand-out by Sabine Schleichert called "How to Cope With That Old German Script" from German Genealogical Research Service.  Because this hand-out has a copyright, I give you only the link.  I found it especially helpful because it has a chart with letters in English, Fraktur, Kurrent, and Sütterlin.  It also has the signs for days of the week as well as a chart for German symbols and words of genealogical use, such as birth, baptism, marriage, etc.  The German Genealogical Research Service may be a helpful website to you if you have German immigrant ancestors because of the links available there.

The image at the top of this post is Sütterlin from a website called Suetterlinschrift.  You can see that some of the letters are similar to their English or modern German counterparts but others look nothing like our modern letters.  I found that I either needed to practice till I recognized certain words or use a chart like this one and translate letter by letter. 

At this website, write your name in Suetterlin, you can use a keypad to type letters which will appear as handwriting.  Consider writing not just your name, but other words to compare them with words in a handwritten document or to try to decipher the document.

Another site I found useful was German Script Alphabet which looks like Suetterlin and shows the letters in handwriting and in print.  While the digitization of this page is not exceptional, the information is very helpful.  You will be surprised at how different the printed and handwritten versions of the letters look.

This Alphabet Chart includes modern, Fraktur, Sütterlin, and Kurrent as well as several handwritten examples for each of the letters.  You know how handwriting varies from one person to another, right?  We all generally recognize a variety of handwriting but when translating it from another language, it's sometimes hard to tell for sure which letter is which.   This excellent chart helps with that.  Again, you might be surprised at how differently people wrote the same letters.

Handwriting Guide: German Gothic is an excellent resource guide from the Family History Library.  It covers old German type and handwriting and includes a chart showing Roman type, German type, and German script.

If you happen to be interested in having a True Type Font of Fraktur letters, here you go!   Have some fun.  This site includes a few paragraphs of lessons about the alphabet and some specific letters as well as how to type the vowels with umlauts using the number keypad.

Beolingus is a translation site.  If you can translate the Old German alphabet into modern letters, you can use this site to translate from German to English and vice versa.

Finally, among the FamilySearch Research Courses is a series of interactive lessons on Kurrent handwriting which include handouts that you can print.  The great thing about these lessons is that no matter what kind of learner you are, aural, visual, interactive, etc., that method is included in these lessons.  They are presented by a lady with a beautiful German accent who invites you to do on-screen activities.  When you get to the site, be sure to scroll down till you get to "Reading Handwritten Records Series" and then look for the three German Kurrent lessons.

If you're translating Old German handwriting, I wish you all the best.   You will feel like you've really accomplished something by the time you're finished!

If you're translating Old German typefaces, Helps for Translating the Old German Typeface may be helpful to you.

--Nancy.

© 2010-2014 Copyright by Nancy Messier. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Remembering Rebecca Smith Bartley's Birthday

I have no photos, no personal memories, nor even memories of others, of my great-great-grandmother, Rebecca Smith Bartley, and so I know very little about her. Her birth date comes from a cousin's research and I haven't been able to confirm it's source--yet.

For the years 1850 through 1880, the official census date was June 1. The official census date was to have been used for all information given to the census taker. For example, if the census taker didn't arrive until July 1, and a child died or married between June 1 and July 1, but the child was alive and living with the family on June 1, he should have been recorded in the census with the family. Whether census takers and the people being recorded adhered to that it's often not possible to know.

In Rebecca's case, she was recorded as
-- 30 years old in the 1850 census which was taken on September 16, 1850
-- 40 years old in the 1860 census which was taken on June 17, 1860
-- 50 years old in the 1870 census which was taken on July 22, 1870, and
-- 59 years old in the 1880 census which was taken on June 2, 1880

If the census information was recorded based on the actual date the census was taken instead of the official census date of June 1, then the above information could suggest a birth date for Rebecca after June 2 and before June 17.

Rebecca was born and lived in Butler County, Pennsylvania throughout her life. According to a golden wedding anniversary newspaper article, she married Dixon Bartley on July 10, 1838, and was the mother of 13 children. Rebecca died on December 29, 1899.

I'm looking forward to learning more about this great-great-grandmother of mine. Happy Birthday, Gramma Bartley.

Monday, June 13, 2011

If You Had Ancestors Who Lived During the Great Depression...

... you might enjoy reading A Secret Gift. How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression by Ted Gup.

This book is a mix of biography of the author’s grandfather, Sam Stone, and glimpses into the lives and circumstances of people who lived in Canton, Ohio, during the Great Depression. Sam Stone (anonymously as B. Virdot), put an ad in a local newspaper in December, 1933, offering $5.00 to 75 different families if they would write to him and tell them their hardships. Because he promised not to reveal the identity of the recipients, he engendered the confidence and trust of those who wrote to tell their situations. The only letters that survived are those written by people who received money from Sam Stone.

The letters were passed on to Sam Stone’s grandson, the author, who said of them, “It was some months before I recognized what a rare, perhaps unique, historical trove had literally been placed in my hands. There are many extant letters from the period [of the Great Depression], and oral histories aplenty that record the trauma of those years, but here before me was a contemporaneous account of an entire community, written with an intimacy and candor that only the perpetual assurance of secrecy could have produced. Because these letters were never intended for the public eye, they are among the most unvarnished and compelling accounts of those years. Collectively they preserve the struggle not merely of an individual or a family but of an entire town at the very time that it was being ravaged by the harshest poverty America had ever known....”

The author pointed out that people of that time period were not given to self pity. He wrote, “It was part of the allure of America that the past could be left behind, that men and women could reinvent themselves. Besides, it was a given that others had suffered similarly. There was little therapeutic value to be gained from opening up old wounds, and it was impolite to pry. Nothing in my grandfather’s day was as out of fashion as self-pity. Only to later generations, coddled by prosperity, analgesics, and concerns over leisure and longevity, would such flinty self-reliance seem extraordinary or explorations of one’s sorrows become so common as to be featured on daytime TV....”

“To capitulate to self-pity or public plaints not only exposed weakness in one’s own character but threatened to unravel the composure of others. It was like a team that carried a terrible load evenly distributed across many shoulders. Each looked to the other for support. To break emotional rank only added to the burden of others. It was fine to vent in a political sense, to march on Washington or rail against the banks. But it was expected that one and all would maintain a certain grit and stoicism. ‘When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang one,’ Roosevelt is said to have counseled. For some, it may have been no more than keeping up a front, but the mere ability to do even that said something about their inner reserves...."

I can’t decide whether I most enjoyed the chapters about Sam Stone (which are interspersed through the book), or the chapters with letters and details of life during the Great Depression. Sam’s story is interesting, but the challenges of life during those Hard Times may stay in my mind longer.

Reading the circumstances of those who wrote letters to Sam caused me to reflect on my parents’ and grandparents’ lives during those years–and I wondered how one of my grandfathers, a small town barber, managed to save enough money to put one of his daughters through nurse’s training and another through cosmetology school before the end of the Great Depression. Resourcefulness would have been essential during those years.

The book also offered a different perspective on my parents’ stoicism, independence, and strong-willed stubbornness. My siblings and I always assumed those characteristics came from our German ancestors. My thoughts changed after reading this book. As children of the depression, Mom was 14 in 1929 and graduated from high school in 1933; my father was a 17-year-old farmer’s son in 1929 and the oldest child when his father died in 1933. Perhaps those traits and characteristics had their start in my parents’ genes during early years and just became stronger through the 1930s.

If you want to learn more about what it was like to live through the Great Depression, this book is excellent.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Searching for & Hoping Not to Find Rebecca and Dobson

When working on my family history in the past, I've always sought to find and prove the existence of individuals and their relationships to others. Now, strangely, I find I'm trying to prove the lack of existence of an individual!

My g-g-grandmother, Rebecca Smith Bartley, was married to Dixon Bartley. Rebecca's and Dixon's golden anniversary newspaper article named Thomas Smith as her father. I had hoped that the 1862 will of a man named Thomas Smith in Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, would specifically name his daughter, Rebecca, wife of Dixon Bartley. Instead, the will says "my daughter Rebecca intermarried with Dobson." Dobson?!

In 1860, or in 1870, was there somewhere in the country a man whose first name was "Dobson" married to a woman named Rebecca? In 1860, "my" Rebecca would have been about 43, and in 1870, about 53. Most likely they would have been living somewhere in Butler County, Pennsylvania, but I've been searching census records in all areas of the country. To my mind, not finding Rebecca and Dobson gives support to the possibility of a copying or transcription error when Thomas Smith's will was recorded into the county will book.

Using FamilySearch and Heritage Quest*, I've searched the 1860 and 1870 census records for a man whose first name is Dobson whose wife was named Rebecca. There are plenty of men named Dobson but as far as I've searched, not one of them is married to a woman named Rebecca.

This process of elimination helps but it doesn't nearly go far enough to assure me that Thomas Smith who died in 1862 in Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, is the father of Rebecca Smith Bartley.

Where else can I search? What other source can I use to support a relationship between Thomas and Rebecca? All thoughts and suggestions welcome!

If you're just now joining in on my search for Thomas Smith, you can follow my progress by reading previous posts about my search:
Searching for Thomas Smith, Sr.
The Search for Thomas Smith Continues - 1850 and 1860 Census Records
Neighbors of Thomas Smith, 1850. Neighbors of Henry Smith, 1860
Thomas Smith and 1858 Property Map of Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania
T. Smith - Mount Varnum Cemetery, Washington Township, Butler County, Penna
Thos. Smith in Index to Butler County Wills, 1800-1971
Last Will of Thomas Smith
Will of Thomas Smith - His Children

*Heritage Quest is an online subscription database often available at home through some libraries' websites.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language - Tuesday's Tip

I included Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language as part of another post but it got lost at the bottom. I think it's such a good resource for genealogists searching 1800s and early 1900s documents that I decided to give it its own post.

As we work on our family history we sometimes see unfamiliar words such as occupations, language in wills and other legal documents, household words, etc. Other times, the definition of the word as we know it doesn't quite fit the context in which it's used in an older document. Definitions of words evolve over time so words mean different things in different time periods

If you find unknown words from earlier times while working on your family history, I highly recommend using one of the online versions of Webster's 1828 dictionary. If you don't find your word in one of them, try another. Because they are all transcriptions, I suspect that not every single word in the dictionary is included in the online transcriptions.

The two online versions I've found are Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary, which includes separate 1828 and 1913 definitions, and Christian Soups' transcription. Another early Webster's, available at The ARTFL Project, combines the 1913 and 1828 versions.

Of course, if you can't find your word in one of the online versions, you can purchase a reproduction copy of Webster's 1828 (use a search engine to find available copies for sale) or you can try a modern dictionary and hope it includes, identifies, and defines archaic words.

What unusual words have you come across in your genealogy research or what words have changed meanings over time?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Will of Thomas Smith - His Children

Thomas Smith is the possible father of my great-great-grandmother, Rebecca Smith Bartley, wife of Dixon Bartley of Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania. Below are Thomas Smith's children as named in the Last Will of Thomas Smith, dated July 31, 1862.

"my son William Smith"
William received all the property on which his father Thomas lived, about 100 acres, including outbuildings and all income that would result from owning the property. This inheritance was an unlimited and unqualified inheritance for his use and the use of his heirs "forever." He was also willed one horse which was to be selected by the executors of the estate.

"my son Joseph Smith"
Joseph was given a piece of property 80 yards long and 40 yards wide (20 acres) plus all the income that would result from using the property. This property bordered that of his brothers, William Smith and Nelson Smith, and 10 acres came from each property. This land was for Joseph's use during his lifetime only and after his death the title for the property was to revert to William and Nelson.

"my son... Thomas B. Smith"
Thomas was given one dollar, having previously received 100 acres of land.

"my son... Nelson Smith"
Nelson received one dollar, having previously received 100 acres of land.

"my daughters who have not married at the time of my death"
Each daughter received 1 cow and 4 sheep, the same as the married daughters had received. The unmarried daughters are not named.

"Rebecca intermarried with Dobson"
"Alvira intermarried with David/Davis"
"Rosanna Smith Sarah intermarried with David Jackson"
These married daughters inherited the rest of Thomas' estate, personal and mixed, to be divided equally among them. From the way the will is written, it is difficult to tell if Rosanna and Sarah are two different daughters but based on other information, I suspect that they are.
___________________________________________________________________
Thoughts and Observations

William was probably the oldest son and possibly the most responsible (my guesses) because I don't find him in either the 1850 or 1860 census with his father and because he inherited both the home and 100 acres.

What about Joseph? Why only the loan of 20 acres? I don't find Joseph on either the 1850 or 1860 census with his father. There are 8 Joseph Smiths in Butler County on the 1860 U.S. census. I don't see any way to connect any one of those 8 with Thomas Smith.

Thomas B. and Nelson both received their inheritance of 100 acres before the death of their father. Both appear on the 1850 U.S. census with their father. In 1860, only Nelson appears with his father. Thomas B. is enumerated on the next page of the census, several houses away, with a family of his own.

The unmarried daughters still living at home in 1860, according to the 1860 U.S. census, were Rosan[na], 21, and Sarah, 18. (Granted, the 1860 census lists Thomas Smith as Henry Smith, but the children's names and ages match.) And yet, it seems that Rosanna and Sarah are both named with the married daughters. Who would the other unmarried daughters have been? In the 1850 census, a 4-year-old daughter, Martha, appears but she is not with her father on the 1860 census.

I so wanted this will to say, "my daughter Rebecca wife of Dixon Bartley." Because it names Dobson instead of Dixon and no last name, my search will have to continue. I understand that this will in the county record book is a copy of the original and it seems possible that there was a transcription error when copying it from the original.

Alvira (as spelled in this will), was Elvira, age 24, in 1850. I think it's significant that Rebecca's daughter, my great-grandmother, was named Elvira. Alvira/Elvira had a niece named Elvira.

"Rosannah Smith Sarah intermarried with David Jackson" is a little confusing. The 1850 census lists Rosannah, age 10; the 1860 census lists Rosan, age 21. Sarah is listed in the 1860 census, age 18. It seems probable that both were married by the time of Thomas' death in 1862.


Other posts detailing my search for Thomas Smith:
Searching for Thomas Smith, Sr.
The Search for Thomas Smith Continues - 1850 and 1860 Census Records
Neighbors of Thomas Smith, 1850. Neighbors of Henry Smith, 1860
Thomas Smith and 1858 Property Map of Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania
T. Smith - Mount Varnum Cemetery, Washington Township, Butler County, Penna
Thos. Smith in Index to Butler County Wills, 1800-1971
Last Will of Thomas Smith

Last Will of Thomas Smith - July 31, 1862

Below is a transcription of the will of Thomas Smith/Thomas B. Smith of Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, which was written on July 31, 1862. All spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are accurate to the original. Only the returns at the end of lines are not the same.

The will was recorded in Butler County (Pennsylvania) Will Book Volume D, 1859-1869, pages 169-170. I viewed it on FHL Microfilm #895101.

The printer on the microfilm reader at the FHC was broken so I was unable to print a copy. I transcribed it from the reader and also photographed it.

I hoped that this will would define the father/daughter relationship between Thomas Smith and my great-great-grandmother, Rebecca (Smith) Bartley. In another post I will discuss what I what I found.
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Last Will of Thomas Smith

Know all Men by these presents that I Thomas Smith of the township of Parker county of Butler and State of Pennsylvania Farmer being in ill health but of sound mind and disposing mind and memory Do make and publish this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills by me at any time heretofore made And as to my worldly estate and all the property real personal or mixed of which I shall died seized and possessed or to which I shall be entitled at the time of my decease I devise bequeath and dispose thereof in the manner following to with 1st My will is that all my Just debts and funeral expenses shall by my Executor here in after mentioned or named be paid out of my estate soon after my decease shall by him be found convenient 2nd I give devise and bequeath to my son William Smith all that certain messuage and tract of land on which I now live containing one hundred acres to be the same more or less Bounded and described as follows Commencing at the south East corner thence by lands of Nelson Smith on the East Thomas B. Smith on the North on the west by George Daubenspeck and John Hoover and [blot] the south by Christian Hoover situated in The township and county aforesaid and all profits income and advantage that may result therefrom To have and to Hold the same to him the said William Smith his heirs and assigns to his and their use and behoov forever 3d I give and bequeath to my son William Smith one horse to be selected from the horses on the place by my Executors hereinafter after named 4th I give and bequeath to my son Joseph Smith for his maintanence [sic] during his Natural lifetime a piece of land Eighty rods long along the northern line adjoining Thomas B. Smith and forty rods wide from North to South one half to come off of William Smiths land and the other half to come off of Nelson Smith land the said piece of land to contain twenty acres The said Joseph Smith to have and to Hold the said twenty acres together with all the profits Income and advantages that may results therefrom during this the said Joseph Smiths natural life and at his death the title in the property is to revert back to t[he] said William Smith and Nelson Smith My Sons Thomas B. Smith and Nelson Smith having given to each one of them viz Thomas B. Smith and Nelson Smith one hund[red] acres of land each I give and bequeath Thomas B Smith one dollar and to Nel[son] Smith one Dollar I give and bequeath to each one of my Daughters who have not married at the time of my death one cow and four sheep each one of those that as[?] married having received the same All the rest and residue of my estate personal and mixed of which I shall be entitled at my decease and which I shall die seized and possessed or to which I shall be entitled I give devise and bequeath to bequeath divide between and among my daughters Rebecca intermarried with Dobson [?] Alvira intermarried with Davis [or David] Rosanna Smith Sarah intermarried with David Jackson and lastly I do mention and appoint my Good Neighbor John Daubenspeck of George to be my Executor of This my last Will and Testament In [illegible word] whereof I have hereunto to this my last Will and testament contained on these pages of paper and to every page thereof I have subscribed my name and affixed my seal this thirty first day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand and Eight hundred and sixty two
Signed sealed published and delivered by the said Thomas Smith
Thomas B. Smith as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us who at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses thereunto
George H. Graham
Geo. W. Daubenspeck

Butler County S.S.
Registrars office October 3d AD. 1862 Then personally appeared Geo. W. Daubenspeck one of the subscribing witnesses to the foregoing last will and testament of Thomas Smith decease [sic] and on his solemn oath does say that he was present with George H. Graham, the other subscribing witness and did see and hear [?] Thomas Smith of Parker township decd the estate therein named seal publish and declare the same as and for his last will and testament and that at the time of the codoing [?] he was of sound desposing mind memory and understanding to the best of his knowledge & belief and that he saw the other subscribing witness Geo. H. Graham in his pr[?] and in the presence of the testator and at his [request?] sign the same will and testament and that he the said George Graham is now in the Military service of the United Sates and beyond the limits of the state of Pennsylvania
Sworn and subscribed before me this 3d day of Oct A D 1862 Geo. W. Daubenspeck
A. P. Reece Depty [sic] Reg

Butler County S. S.
Registrars office Oct 3d AD. 1862 Then personally appeared John Scott Esq. who being duly sworn according to law desposeth says that he is acquainted with the hand writing of George H. Graham of the subscribing [illegible word] to the foregoing will of Thomas Smith late of Parker township deceased that he has seen the said George H. Graham unite his name and that he believes the Signature of him the said George H. Graham that the said George H. Graham is now in the Military service of United States and beyond the limits of the State of Pennsylvania & further saith not-
known and subscribed before me John Scott [signature]
W P Reed Depty [sic] Reg
Recorded Oct 3d 1862

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This Is The Face of Genealogy...



...along with hundreds more photographs of ancestors I love and cherish.

It Must Have Been a Difficult Transition

My mom, Audrey Meinzen Doyle, was born on June 5, 1915, 96 years ago. In the photo to the left she was probably between 6 and 8 months old. There is no date or oral history about this photo postcard but on the back my grandmother wrote a note to her sister-in-law, Mina Meinzen Harris which says,
"I am sending you Audrey's picture[.] She is getting awfull fat and has four teeth but cries just as much as usal [sic]. How is your children? Emma"
I'm not sure if my grandmother meant that Mom cried a lot as a younger infant and continued to cry just as must at the age she was in this photo, or if she cried as much as most other infants. Some babies just seem to have a difficult transition from their pre-birth existence to life on this earth - and my mom must have been one of those babies! Poor girl.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope you're surrounded by loved ones.

Learning a New Old Word in an 1862 Will

The word is messuage. I'd never heard the word before and had no idea of its meaning, even from the context in Thomas Smith's 1862 will.

Webster's 1828 version of American Dictionary of the English Language (Webster's 1828), the one most commonly used until the early 1900s, told me that messuage means
In law, a dwelling house and adjoining land, appropriated to the use of the household, including the adjacent buildings.
Webster's 1828 gives the pronunciation as mess' uage but more modern dictionaries suggest the pronunciation as mes' wij. I suspect it's use has gone so far out of fashion that we will probably never hear it used during these modern days.

If you find unknown words from the 1800s while working on your family history, I highly recommend using one of the online versions of Webster's 1828 dictionary. If you don't find your word in one of them, try another. Because they are all transcriptions, I suspect that not every single word in the dictionary is included in the transcription.

The two versions I've found are M. Shaffer's transcription and Christian Soups' version. Another early Webster's, available at The ARTFL Project, combines the 1913 and 1828 versions.

Of course, if you can't find your word in one of the online versions, you can purchase a reproduction copy of Webster's 1828 (use a search engine to find available copies for sale) or you can try a modern dictionary and hope it includes and identifies archaic words.

Another unusual find in Thomas Smith's will was the word witness written in the old way in letters that look to us like witnefs. I was surprised to see this spelling because I thought that by the mid-1800s it was primarily used only in German handwriting.

More to come regarding Thomas Smith's will in the next post or two.
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