Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sharing the Sun

I think of my ancestors as real people doing real activities in lifetimes years before mine. I am continually trying to find connections to them. I search for documents to verify their existences on earth. I look for gravestones and homes and any number of other ways to connect to them. But perhaps even more than those, I try to find connections between the lives they lived and my own life. What do we share? What activities are alike in our lives? What emotions have we all felt? Family historians refer to the blood in their veins being the same blood that flowed in the veins of their ancestors. True or not, I want something more.

I sew as did many of my foremothers and I sew on my mother's sewing machine, which is exactly the same. But what about the rest of my ancestors? I grow flowers as one of my grandmothers did, but not the same flowers. I dust and clean and cook and iron, but not with the same equipment, or food, or pots. I walk on the same earth they walked on, but the ground beneath my feet is not exactly the same as the ground they walked on. Dirt moves around all the time. Even the sidewalks and driveways, should I go to a place where they lived, would not be exactly the same. They probably lived with ash and honey locust and maple trees nearby, but not the same ones I have in my yard.

The answer came this week: the sun that shines on me is the very same sun that rose when every one of my ancestors lived. Its glow may be less bright now than when they were on the earth but it is the very same sun. I'm satisfied now. Every day of my life I have some connection to my ancestors who lived before me. We share the sun.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

HEARTH - Tuesday's Tip

You won't find your ancestors but you can discover what their world might have been like at HEARTH - Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition, and History. HEARTH offers scanned images of books, journals, and magazines published between 1817 and 1999. It is made available by the Albert R. Mann Library at Cornell University.

If you are interested in how your ancestors might have built, ventilated, and plumbed their homes; mixed paint; bought food; raised their children; decorated their homes; fed their chickens; and myriad other topics, HEARTH is a source of wonder and knowledge.

With a perusal of titles by date I learned that beginning in the 1870s people were concerned about sanitation and sewage as well as the health of their children. Beginning in the 1880s diet became a topic of interest as did the psychology of the child and occupations for women outside the home. By the early 1900s people were thinking about how food and diet affected health. I was surprised that hand-spinning and home weaving were still of interest into the 1920s. Topics of continual interest seemed to be plans for and the building of homes and outbuildings and wise money-management. The first mention of home food preservation was in 1912 and electricity in 1913. Browsing the titles by date gives a brief overview of interests of the various time periods.

HEARTH offers several ways to find information.

Perusing by Subject you will find topics such as Childcare, Human Development, & Family Studies; Clothing & Textiles; Food & Nutrition; Home Management; Housing, Furnishing, and Home Equipment; etc. Each category offers the option to read a brief essay about the topic and/or view a bibliography of titles in PDF. The bibliographies are compiled alphabetically by author but HEARTH does not offer the option to click through to the online sources. As far as I can tell, not all books in the bibliography are available online.

Search methods include basic, boolean, proximity, and bibliographic. The site offer tips for performing searches, an especially handy option for anyone not familiar with search terms. Their search engine seemed somewhat cumbersome to me.

Browse by date in 20-year time periods or alphabetically by title or author. I enjoyed spending time looking at the offerings. The topics I mentioned above are a result of looking through the books available by date.

If you choose to look at an image as a PDF you can enlarge it to whatever size is easy for you to read. There is also the option to print pages or whole books. When you get to the book, you can click on arrows to page through the book or use the drop-down box to click on the page number you'd like to view.

HEARTH also offers issues of Harper's Bazaar, 1867-1900, and of Good Housekeeping from 1885 to 1950.

If you think HEARTH might be useful, I hope you find it so.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Oh Henry!

Oh Henry! Where, oh where, were you born? What are your parents' and siblings' names? How will I ever learn more about you?

If the facts about Henry Carl Meinzen's early years were Oh Henry! candy bars, I would buy a case and know his and the rest of his family's history. But they're not and I'm still searching.

Henry, born July 25, 1837, has claimed his country of birth as Germany, Prussia, and Hannover, depending on which census you read. Searches of all known U. S. records have been no help in determining a specific location. I haven't given up hope of eventually finding the information I seek, just hope of finding it soon.

Henry was proprietor of the confectionery store behind him in the photo at left, in Steubenville, Ohio. He might have sold Oh Henry! candy bars except that he'd given up his store by 1920 when Oh Henry! bars were first introduced.

This is Henry's commemorative birthday post. I hope it's grand, Grampa. (And if you can, please send help!)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ginger Bread and Blitz Kuchen in Gramma's Webster's Cookbook - Family Recipe

My grandmother's recipe book, sadly, calls for chocolate only three recipes. But then her recipes are probably healthier than mine (except that she used lard). Instead of chocolate, she frequently used flavorings such as lemon, molasses, and sweet spices.

Blitz Kuchen, which translates to Lightening Cake, is a German recipe. Was it given that name because it's quick to make, because it disappears as quick as lightening, or for some other reason? I don't know if Gramma's recipe came from her German in-laws or if she had neighbors with German traditions. The cake looks very much like some of our American coffee cakes.
Ginger Bread
1 cup Sugar.
1 " lard.
2 eggs.
2 teaspoon ginger
pinch of Salt.
1 cup Molasses.
2 teaspoon Soda.
1 cup milk or Coffee
4 cups flour.

Blitz Kuchen
3/4 cups Sugar.
butter size of egg
one cup milk
1 teaspoon Baking P.
flavor to taste,
cream butter, sugar
then, add egg, milk
& finally flour
with B.P. Sprinkle over
top with one half
cup nuts 1/2 cup
Sugar. 1 teaspoon
cinamon, bake
[tattered lower edge unreadable]
Below is my immediate family's favorite gingerbread recipe. My daughter found it in our local newspaper when she was about ten. For a school assignment she was asked to double a recipe and when I received a copy from her, I didn't realize it had been doubled. We had a lot of gingerbread to eat. This recipe has a wonderful mix of spices and, unlike most gingerbreads, is moist. (The recipe below is the single version.)
Mount Vernon Gingerbread

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup light molasses

In a separate bowl, mix:
2 3/4 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves

Mix in a measuring cup:
3/4 c. buttermilk or sour milk
1/4 c. orange juice

Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk/juice mixture to the butter/sugar/molasses mixture, stirring after each addition.

Lightly beat:
2 eggs. Add to above mixture, folding in gently.

Bake in a greased and floured 8: x 8" pan in a 350 degree oven.
How long? No times are noted on the recipe card but probably at least 30 minutes or longer, until a toothpick comes out clean.
This gingerbread recipe is almost as good as chocolate.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fresh or Stale, Buttered or Plain

I sometimes pull a bag of potato chips out of the cupboard and eat a few. Now and then I enjoy pretzels. Once in a while I like corn chips. But I always love popcorn. It doesn't matter if it's fresh or stale, buttered or plain. All I ask is that it’s salted.

The first time I tasted popcorn was the same day I burnt my finger on my mother's iron. I was 4 or 5 at the time. After she had finished the real ironing she unplugged the iron and set me to practice my ironing skills on my father’s handkerchiefs. I moved the still-hot iron too close to the hand smoothing the handkerchief. I probably howled. To console me Mom pulled out a box of movie-theater popcorn that my father had carried home the night before (after having taken my older brother and sister to a movie). I loved the popcorn with my first mouthful. My mother could never have guessed what was to come of having introduced me to popcorn that morning.

Lucky for me I grew up in a home with a popcorn popper. By the time I was 8 I was putting it to good use. But there was one challenge to satisfying my desire for popcorn. My mother was very particular: I could make popcorn only on the weekends. (Only once, when my father wanted popcorn, did my mother relent and let me make it on a week night.)

On Saturday afternoons or evenings (or occasional Sunday afternoons) I made popcorn. I did not, as most people might do, make one or two poppers full and be done. I couldn't do that because I had to plan ahead for a week's worth of eating. Two poppers full would have been good for the day but I knew I would want popcorn the next several days. So I made a roasting pan full-–and my mom’s roaster was no small pan. Take a 60" string, make the ends meet, lay it in an oval, and you will see the size of her roaster. Every week I filled it to the brim with popcorn, then made more and mounded it high. You can imagine that by Sunday, Saturday's popcorn was stale and by Monday or Tuesday, no one else was interested in eating it. To me it was delicious both fresh and stale.

Our popper looked similar to the one shown at left with its three pieces. The bottom had electric coils and a removable plug. The handled section looked like a pan but had a spherical bottom. This was where we put the oil and popcorn. Our popper’s lid was also glass and through it we could watch the first kernels get hot, jump, and then pop. As more popped they covered the bottom of the pan and within minutes all we could see was the mass of fluffy corn juggling and rising higher and higher. It was the kernels on the bottom that popped. Our popper probably held 3 quarts or a gallon.

We never buttered our popcorn. My mom thought that the oil used for cooking it was enough fat. I never knew people put butter on popcorn until we visited my father’s cousin, Evie McClelland. One summer evening we drove the hour or so to their home in Sharon, Pennsylvania, for an impromptu visit. Evie and her husband, Cub, were midway through a bowl of popcorn. She offered the rest to my sister and me. I didn't understand why it was wet. My sister told me it was butter. Sure enough, there was a half-melted spoonful of butter in the bottom of the bowl. Evie's popcorn was delicious, of course, but I didn't feel deprived for eating unbuttered popcorn at home.

As a young adult in college I learned that some people had very specific methods for making popcorn. One person insisted you had to wait till the pan was hot before putting the oil in. Another said the only way to get good popcorn was to put the oil into the cool pan and wait till it got hot before adding the popcorn. I didn’t notice that their popcorn tasted better than or different from mine. My method was simple: put the upper pan on the bottom, measure oil into the popper, add the popcorn, put the lid on, put the plug in the outlet, and wait. And watch. I can't remember how long it took to make a popper full, but not long.

The first time my brother brought his fiancee, Jan, to our house he prepared her for the popcorn situation. He told her not to be surprised if I brought in a roasting pan full of popcorn and asked her if she wanted some. I think they had a discussion about the reasons for popping such a large a quantity. My brother related that story to me about 10 years ago. It was then that he first learned why I made so much popcorn at one time. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Through the years I've tried other kinds of popcorn poppers. Air poppers produce popcorn that looks delicious but tastes like packing peanuts--unless it's drenched in butter. And we have one of the old-fashioned stove-top hand-crank poppers. It makes okay popcorn. But for me, nothing compares to the popcorn made in our old popcorn popper.

These days I buy Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop! 96% Fat Free and pop it in the microwave. Of the microwave popcorns I've sampled, it's the best I've tasted. But if you ever find one of those old popcorn poppers, please send it my way.

I hope you'll please excuse me. I'm going to make myself some popcorn -- just one bag for now because I can make a fresh bag tomorrow.

This post is a contribution to Carnival of Genealogy #108: Food! which is hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene. The poster is courtesy of footnoteMaven, who makes the most beautiful posters. Thank you both.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Aunt's Birthday

My dear aunt is celebrating a milestone birthday today, July 19, (though I won't tell you which one).

I spent many hours of my childhood at her home and she almost became a second, more patient, mother to me. Sometimes she is very serious but she also has a wonderful sense of humor and a great perspective on life.

This photograph was taken on her wedding day. Isn't movie-star glamorous?

Happy Birthday, my dear aunt!

(I'm not telling you her name to protect her privacy.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

They Invited Me to Play in the Sandbox!

Yes! They want me to play on Google+.

Jim Gill from Searchin' for Kinfolk was the first to invite me. Then Greta Koehl from Greta Bog and Susan Peterson from Long Lost Relatives both said they would invite me (but Jim had already invited me).

Thank you, Jim, Greta, and Susan!

It looks like I'm not happy. Not true. Everything is so new and I have so much to learn. You'll see me smile soon. It's gonna be great fun.

Would anyone else like to join Google+?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Break Between Chores

I suspect that my father, Lee Doyle, knew the camera was aimed his way and chose not to acknowledge the photographer who was standing on the back porch. The photographer was probably me.

Dad rarely rested except when he was in bed. He was a foreman at Copperweld Steel in Warren, Ohio, and worked turns, as we called it: 5 days day-turn, 2 days off; 5 afternoons, 2 days off; 5 midnights, 2 days off; repeat the cycle. Occasionally there were long weekends but I can't remember how they fit into the cycle or how often they came. He was never off the same days of the week from week to week. I can only guess how working turns must have wracked his body.

In addition to working at the mill, he had a small business repairing watches, clocks, and jewelry. He was also the chief repairman, painter, plumber, electrician, gardener, carpenter, and mechanic at our house. If something was broken, he fixed it. If it wasn't broken but could look or work better, he maintained or improved it. In later years my mother used the term work-a-holic to describe Dad. I don't believe that's true. I think he had a very strong work ethic and a high standard for maintaining and improving his property and possessions.

We didn't use the picnic table very often but on hot summer days after several hours' work, Dad sometimes sat at the table with a cold drink or, as in this photo, actually stretched out on it. The apple tree gave welcome, cool shade.

In a previous post I wrote about my father's hats and said he wore a baseball cap to work around the house. Looking at this photo I remember he wore a flat cap, not a baseball hat.

You can see our driveway behind Dad. For many years it was slag, a cast-off product from steel production that was readily available in our area. The slag was hard to ride a bike on because it was very angular chunks of rock. I wonder now that it never pierced the tires on any of our cars. He eventually chose to put down black-top.

The picnic table sat in our side yard: our house is in front of and almost parallel with it. The window above the kitchen sink looked out on the apple tree and the driveway. Main Street was within view from the window, too, but less visible from the window because of the tree and a house which is just out of view.

You can see the tail of a car behind my dad. In the early 1960s he bought two used Fords, 1952 and 1953 models, I think. That doesn't look like either of them but it may be. The garage is to the right in the photo, directly in front of the car.

At the end of the driveway and on the other side of it you can see a tree. Sitting under the near side of the tree is a triangular rock. As a young child I thought that rock was huge. It wasn't on our property but was a favorite spot to play. You can see our street just beyond the tree and telephone pole.

And that was a few minutes' tour of our side yard on a summer afternoon while my father took a break.

If you have a few more minutes to spare, you can see other old photos and learn about them at Sepia Saturday.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quince Honey & Jelly Roll or Sponge Cake - Family Recipe Friday

Walking home from school with my daughters one autumn day many years ago, we came upon some beautiful golden yellow fruit on the ground near the sidewalk. It was a kind we had never seen before. We took one home with the hope that we could discover what it was. When we cut it open both its fragrance and flesh made us think of apples -- and other fruits, too, though we couldn't decide which ones. We chose not to taste it fearing that it might be poisonous. We asked others if they knew what it was but no one did.

Our search for the identity of the fruit took place before the internet was available and in the days after the fruit's popularity had declined. Not even a book about fruit told us what it was. Only in the past several years did I learn that we'd found a quince. One rarely hears about quinces these days. Our local stores don't sell them nor do the farmers' markets.

Have you eaten quinces before? Did my grandmother or one of her relatives have a quince tree and is that why she has a recipe for Quince Honey?

This is another page from my grandmother's Webster's Spelling Recipe Book. You'll notice how faded the penciled recipes are on this page. The photo is contrast-enhanced and yet it is still light, but if you click on the image to enlarge it you'll be able to clearly see the handwriting.

Quince Honey
6 lbs sugar
3 pints water boil 10 min
Add 6 large quinces which have been pared and grated
Cook 30 min then pour in glasses
cover when cool

Jelly Roll or Sponge Cake
yolks of 4 eggs
3 tablespoons water
beat add 1 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon corn starch in 1 cup and fill with flour
2 teaspoon B. Powder sifted with flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 [teaspoon] " vanilla
fold in whites of eggs beaten

The image of the quince came from Creative Commons and tells this information about it: Champion quince, Cydonia oblonga, Watercolor by Amanda A. Newton (12/03/1909) From:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Disappointing Elizabeth

A week ago Joyce Humphrey, an Armitage cousin, found the marriage record for our g-g-grandfather Abel Armitage and his wife, Eliza Hartley, on the West Yorkshire Marriage Parish Records collection at Abel married twice. After Eliza died, Abel married Ann Bell. Joyce descends from Ann; I descend from Eliza.

Abel and Eliza had two daughters. Ann was born on May 21, 1850. Elizabeth, my great-grandmother, was born on August 24, 1852. I hoped (and assumed that) their baptismal records would be on the companion set of records at where Joyce found their parents' marriage. Below are photographs of the baptismal records as I found them on Ancestry.
Ann Armitage's record.

Date of Birth. 21 May 1850
When Baptized. 16 June No. 477
Child's Christian Name. Ann
Parents' Christian Names. Abel Eliza
Parents' Surname. Armitage
Abode. Bowling
Quality, Trade, or Profession. Carrier
By whom the Ceremony was performed. [Illegible signature] Office Minister
Elizabeth Armitage's record.

Date of Birth. 24 August 1852
When Baptized. 1852 19 September No. 985
Child's Christian Name. Elizabeth
Parents' Christian Names. Abraham Eliza
Parents' Surname. Armitage
Abode. Bowling
Quality, Trade, or Profession. Porter
By whom the Ceremony was performed. W. C. Hodgon [?], Apt. Curate

My disappointment is not in Elizabeth, an infant who had no control over what was written in the baptismal registry. My disappointment is in finding the first name of her father recorded as Abraham instead of Abel. I believe without a doubt that this is my Elizabeth -- but how did Abel become Abraham? I was so hopeful this record would provide clear evidence because I have been unable to find a civil birth record for Elizabeth.

I understand that in 1800s England parents were required to pay a fine if births were not recorded within a specific time period. In order to avoid paying the fine parents sometimes changed the birth dates of their infants. If that was the case in Elizabeth's situation, I will never find a record with her name, an accurate date of birth, and the correct names of her parents. Disappointing.

Go Away! You Weren't Invited.

Yesterday I read nearly a dozen posts about Google Plus / Google+. GeneaBloggers were excited about this new social network. I went to the website for a demonstration, thought it looked interesting enough to try, and decided to play along.

But when I clicked on "join the project" I learned that participation was by invitation only.

For now I'm excluded from the sandbox. Go away! You can't play with us.

And I'm so sad.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Improve Your Writing - Tuesday's Tip

I decided I need to improve my writing skills. In private I am a researcher, a family historian, an analyzer of documents but in public, as a blogger, I'm a writer--and I want to write well. I found the following two books helpful and thought you might enjoy them if you, too, feel the need to improve your writing.

My first recommendation is On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser.

Zinsser tells the reader, "Writing is hard work." I never thought of it as hard because I enjoy it so much. Reading this book helped me understand that rewriting is as important as writing. Rewriting is one of my challenges.

He says, "The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb that carries the same meaning that’s already in the verb, every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing what--these are the thousand and one adulterants that weaken the strength of a sentence.”

The author addresses the importance of unity (in tense, person, and/or mood); of avoiding journalese; of not using clich├ęs. He advises: "Get into the habit of using dictionaries.... Don't scorn that bulging grab bag Roget's Thesaurus.... There's no better friend to have around to nudge the memory.... Also bear in mind, when you're choosing words and stringing them together, how they sound.... Such matters as rhythm and alliteration are vital to every sentence."

Zinsser discusses simplicity, clutter, style, the audience, words, and usage; unity, the lead and the ending; and various kinds of nonfiction including literature, about people, places, yourself, science and technology, sports, etc., plus other aspects of writing.

There are two excellent sections for family history writers: "Writing Family History and Memoir" and "Writing About Yourself: The Memoir." These two chapters were added in later editions because of an increased interest in these areas. He takes them seriously. He wrote, "Writers are the custodians of memory. . . . Memories too often die with their owner, and time too often surprises us by running out.” He shares some excellent thoughts, attitudes, and insights for family history writers.

Other gems from the book:
“The most important sentence in any article is the first one. If it doesn’t induce the reader to proceed to the second sentence, your article is dead.... Therefore your lead must capture the reader immediately and force him to keep reading. It must cajole him with freshness, or novelty, or paradox, or humor, or surprise, or with an unusual idea, or an interesting fact, or a question. Anything will do, as long as it nudges his curiosity and tugs at his sleeve.”

“You are writing primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for."

Zinsser offers a bounty of thought for writers determined on self-improvement. Open the book once a day, read a page or two, and you'll come away with some ideas about how to improve your writing. I highly recommend it.

The second book I recommend is The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White. William Strunk was one of White's college professors in 1919. From personal memory White gives a vivid and endearing description of Strunk and his teaching style. (I wish I'd been a student in his classroom.) Years later White was commissioned to revise and update the book. He was successful in maintaining Professor Strunk's style, purpose, and the integrity of the original.

This book is five chapters short: Strunk was a proponent of brevity and clarity. Each chapter has numbered statements to illustrate and teach and includes several paragraphs and examples for each statement. Below are the chapter headings and some sample statements.

Elementary Rules of Usage
"6. Do not break sentences in two. In other words, do not use periods for commas...."
"8. Use a dash to set off an abrupt break or interruption and to announce a long appositive or summary."

Elementary Principles of Composition
"14. Use the active voice. The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive...."
"15. Put statements in positive form. Make definite assertions. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating, noncommittal language...."
"17. Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences...."

A Few Matters of Form
"Exclamations. Do not attempt to emphasize simple statements by using a mark of exclamation. The exclamation mark is to be reserved for use after true exclamations or commands...."

Words and Expressions Commonly Misused
This section includes explanations to clarify words misused because their meanings are misunderstood by the writer.

An Approach to Style (With a List of Reminders) (and paragraphs to explain)
"1. Place yourself in the background."
"4. Write with nouns and verbs."
"5. Revise and rewrite. Revising is part of writing. Few writers are so expert that they can produce what they are after on the first try...."

Strunk and White teach that "Writing, to be effective, must follow closely the thoughts of the writer, but not necessarily in the order in which those thoughts occur."

The Elements of Style is a guide to clarity in writing. If you want to write better, I encourage you to read and use this book.

Now, let's see if I can put the teachings in these books to effective use in future blog posts!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Bartley's Golden Wedding, 1888

Dixon and Rebecca Smith Bartley, my great-great-grandparents, celebrated their Golden Anniversary on this day, July 10, in the year 1888.  On July 20, the Butler County Record published an article, Golden Wedding, which shed some light on the celebration itself.   The contents of the article give reason to marvel.

Dixon and Rebecca lived in Bruin, in the house pictured to the right (though this photograph dates from the early 1900s).  Many of the people who came to celebrate traveled east from North Washington, a small town about 6 miles west of Bruin.  Traveling by horse and buggy, the drive would have taken between half an hour and an hour.

The 250 people who arrived to celebrate with Dixon and Rebecca "dined sumptuously under an arched canopy alongside the farm house."  After the meal the Bruin cornet band "discoursed some excellent music," then two of the organizers and three ministers spoke.  Gifts were presented to the Bartleys, there was more music, and "the young men played a game of base ball."  Many remained for supper and a party.  Does this not sound like a whirlwind day for a man in his late 70s and a woman in her late 60s?

I've been thinking about this celebration since I received the newspaper article and to commemorate their anniversary I'm sharing some thoughts and bits of information I've found.

The Horses
If each buggy carried four people and was pulled by only one horse, there would have been more than 60 horses.   Likely, some of the buggies had two horses.  Where did the horses stay during the day?  Were they kept harnessed?  Were they tethered to a very long hitching post or a line of trees where they had shade?  Were the horses unharnessed and put to pasture?   And what about water for the horses?

The Vehicles
The guests came either by horse-pulled transportation or walked.  As I researched horse-drawn vehicles I realized there are many, many different kinds: buggies, dogcarts, chaises, phaetons, wagons....  Some carried two people, some carried four or more.  Which vehicles were there that day?  Did any look similar to the one at right?

The Food
In 2011, making a meal for 250 people sounds like daunting work to me.  How did they manage in 1888, especially considering that there was not one meal but two for the day?!  Who prepared the food and how much time did it take?  Was it prepared days in advance?  Certainly they were using wood stoves in the heat of summer, and refrigeration would have been limited or non-existent.  What foods were served?  Did they roast an animal on a spit?  Was it a potluck and everyone brought something?  Was the food prepared in advance or in the Bartley's kitchen?   How many women worked on that meal?!  How did they manage the clean up afterward?  There were no paper plates or plastic utensils in those days, no pre-prepared, heat-and-serve meals to make things easier.

The Canopy
Looking at the photo of the house I try to imagine which side of the house had the canopy.  How large was it?  How many men were needed to put it up?  And when was it put up?  Who took it down, and when?  Who owned it?

I'm interested in knowing what the ladies' dresses looked like.  From the little research I did I believe they wore narrow waists with bustles in the back.   A few examples can be seen at Patterns of the State Historical Society of Wisconson.  I will do more research on this.

The Organizers
The article tells me that J. W. Orr was chairman and H. S. Daubenspeck was secretary of "the meeting."   Clearly this was a party which took some planning and preparation.   How far in advance did they begin? How many people participated in the organization?  How was the party announced and how were invitations sent?

The Speakers
Living in Parker Township, Butler County in 1880 were two men who could have been J. W. Orr:  Joseph W. Orr, a carpenter who was born in 1851; and James W. Orr, a grocer, born in 1843 in Ireland.  Both were married with children.  It's impossible to tell which man it was without further research, and maybe not even then.   (But wouldn't you guess it was the grocer?)

H. S. Daubenspeck was the secretary.  According to Dixon's will in April, 1900, Henry Daubenspeck lived on the east side of Dixon toward Fairview.  In the 1880 and 1900 censuses, Henry S. Daubenspeck lived in Parker Township (where Fairview is located) with his wife Maria.  He was born in March 1843, and in 1888 still had several daughters living at home.

Rev. Fidler and Rev. Hazlett, both of North Washington, spoke.  I was unable to find them in the 1880 census.   Further research my uncover them.  Rev. Decker also spoke.  The 1880 census tells me he was I. D. Decker, minister, born in 1846 in New Jersey.  The census gives no indication which church he was affiliated with.

At least three of these men were younger than the Bartleys and possibly the other two ministers were also.  I can imagine them with an attitude of respect and deference when interacting with the Bartleys.

The Cornet Band
I did not find a photograph of the Bruin Cornet Band so I don't know its size or what other instruments were played.  If you'd like to see an 1886 cornet band, go to Cornet Bands of the USA and scroll down to the second photo.  Did all cornet bands have uniforms for their members to wear?   I wish I knew what music the band played and whether people sang along with some of the songs.

Other Thoughts
Rebecca and Dixon's daughter, Elvira Bartley Gerner, was surely at this celebration.  She was 7 months pregnant with my grandmother, Beulah, her 11th child.  She may have helped with the food but chances are she was also keeping tabs on her other 10 children, ages 15 to 2 years.

I especially appreciated the thoughts of some of the speakers at the celebration.  Mr. Orr spoke of the "kindly feeling which prompted friends to meet together, showing the regard they had for those they came to greet."  Rev. Fidler "spoke of the time when such a meeting was considered a waste of time, and hoped that the time spent on this occasion would make all happier and better."  Rev. Hazlett referred to the event as "a great family home gathering."  H. S. Daubenspeck referred to Dixon and Rebecca as "good citizens and kind neighbors."  He "warned the young folks to be careful in choosing partners for life, and not allow themselves to be deceived by outward appearances, which were not as lasting as true love."

I wish I could have been there, even if only to observe.   It sounds like such a grand event.

Happy, Happy Anniversary, Gramma and Grampa Bartley. I wish you continued blessings on this special day.
Photograph of carriage drawing taken from American Horse-Drawn Vehicles: Being a Collection of Two Hundred and Eighteen Pictures Showing One Hundred and Eighty-Three American Vehicles (and Parts Thereof) All Reproduced From Fashion Plates of the Builders or from Little-Known Original Photographs by Jack D. Rittenhouse, Bonanza Books, New York, 1948, p. 12 (spring wagon).

Another Year Older

Chuck, my brother-in-law, is another year older today.
Why is it we just can't seem to escape those birthdays!
But lucky for him: he doesn't seem to get any older.

Happy Birthday, Chuck!
I hope you have a great day and a great year.

An Anniversary: Bob and Eva

When Bob and Eva married on this date in 1999, Eva inherited 3 children. In quick succession they all married and had children of their own. Bob and Eva now have 7 grandsons! I marvel that there are no granddaughters.

Happy Anniversary, Bob and Eva! I hope you have a wonderful day and a year full of blessings.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Operetta "In Old Vienna" at Mineral Ridge School, April, 1936

When I first looked at the photograph for this post, it was so busy and the actors so small that I could tell little about them.  My scanner and computer allowed me to enlarge it so I could see faces and details.  As I peered at the students in their unusual costumes I couldn't help but wonder about the story line of "In Old Vienna."  The characters could have been clowns or gypsies, society people, outlaws, a policeman, waiters, a business man.  I began a search to see if I could learn more about the play.

Hooray for Sean Martin of High School Musicals -- the Origins who has two posts about this musical comedy.  (It couldn't have been anything but comedy with those costumes, could it?!)  In the first post, In Old Vienna, or Pickles, Sean explains the plot lines:
-- a businessman from the US, accompanied by his daughter, has come to Vienna to take a holiday
-- his "advertising expert" has also come along and makes it his mission to convert the entire city to "pickle mania"
-- an English widow has come to Vienna to search for her long-lost daughter
-- a corrupt Viennese policeman tried to engineer a "fake daughter" in the form of his own fiancee, thus assuring that, if his plan succeeds, he gets to cash in as well on the widow's fortune
-- a gypsy girl revolts from the domineering control of her father
-- and an impoverished American artist, ten years too early for the mania of going to Paris to be an impoverished artist, seeks recognition (not to mention monetary support) for his talent.
It all sounds crazy, confusing -- and fun.  Can't you imagine these high school students of 1936, still in the middle of the Great Depression, enjoying themselves? 

You may be wondering what this photo has to do with my family history.  When I first looked at it I wasn't sure who I was looking for or if I'd recognize the person.  It was my mother's sister, Geraldine Mae Meinzen - Aunt Jeree, to me - whose face I saw.  She was a junior in high school at the time.  After enlarging the photo, her face, even with stage make-up, couldn't be missed.  A second look through the faces gave me another of my mother's sisters, on the far right, who was probably a freshman that year.

At the top of this post are the left and right sides of the photograph.  At left is the center section and below is the complete photo.  The last shows a beautiful view of the Mineral Ridge School Auditorium but it's so busy the actors almost disappear into the background.

Carrie Shaffer and Donald Barbe were the directors and the photo was taken by Gareg of Warren, Ohio.

Sean wrote another interesting post, I received a new one a week ago..., in which he discusses some of the challenges of high school play production in the 1920s and '30s.  Today's directors and actors can easily go to youtube or find a video of a play to see how others interpreted and performed the roles, but 80 years ago each director had to decide how the actors should play the scenes.  There was no "central repository of production information that could clue the director or his cast or his musicians or his design team.  Sure, every script had a 'stage manager's manual' that would walk you through the scenic requirements and the dance steps, but you wouldn't know what it all looked and sounded like until it came together....  You didn't know what the original looked like, because there was no 'original'."

I'm sure it would have been fun to see this production's interpretation of "In Old Vienna."  Impossible for us now, of course, but at least we have a great photograph.

The laughter's over and curtain's come down on this scene.   For more entertainment visit Sepia Saturday where you can find other posts focusing on old photographs.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Nut Bread, Ginger Cookies, Brown Sugar Cookies, and Tomato Catsup

This is another page, front and back, from my grandmother's fragile Webster's Spelling Recipe Book. The lower edge on this sheet is so worn and frayed that the last letters of some words are gone.

These are such bare bones recipes. On one of the recipes only flour, with no quantity is listed as an ingredient. The baking temperature for the cookies and bread is probably 350 degrees. The cooking times? Well, take them out before they burn!

Thus far "Tomato Catsup" is the most detailed recipe. It gives specific instructions for washing, cutting, boiling time, and exact ingredients. The only choice left to the cook is the final cooking time in which a thicker or thinner ketchup results. I suspect this was a recipe for canned ketchup but no canning instructions were included. Also note that directions tell us to "remove from fire: and "put on fire." She was probably cooking over a wood- or coal-burning stove. Her directions bring to mind the opening scene of "Meet me in St. Louis" in which Tootie races through the kitchen where her mother and the maid are fussing over the seasoning of a pot of ketchup. Enjoy!

Nut Bread.
1/2 cup nut meats chopped ["chopped" is written at an angle]
3 cups flower [the "e" is x-ed out in pen]
3 tea spoons baking powder. ["powder" is written at an angle]
Stand 45 min.
1 T melted butter [written in pen] Bake 45 min.

Ginger Cookies
1 cup Sugar.
1 " molasses.
1 " Shortening.
2 Eggs.
4 tablespoons Sour Milk
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon ginger.
1 teaspoon Baking powder

Brown Sugar Cookies
1 cups B. Sugar.
4 cups flour
1 heaping teaspoon B. P.
1/2 Soda.
Nutmeg -- Salt.
1 cup Shortening
[illegible writing on frayed bottom edge]

Tomato Catsup
Wash ripe tomatoes. Cut in four pieces & boil until
soft. Remove from fire & when cool enough to
handle; strain through a course sieve. Measure
& to every five qts. of juice allow one &
a half (1 1/2) tablespoon each, Cinnamon & cloves,
1 1/2 tablespoon Mustard, & 1 1/2 tablespoon salt
Mix Mustard in two tablespoon water.
Add to other ingredients. Put on fire to
boil, After boiling 1/2 hour. Add 1 1/2 cup granulated
sugar. Boil down to about 3/4 original amount

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Abel and Eliza in Yorkshire & Joyce

On Tuesday morning I noticed the post Yorkshire Vital Records Online on Lorine McGinnis Schulze's blog, Olive Tree Genealogy. I was excited because I have a brick wall in Yorkshire: my great-grandmother Elizabeth Armitage's parents, Abel Armitage and (probably) Eliza Hartley. I clicked through from my blog reader with anticipation, hoping that Lorine would point us to a free resource. Not so. The records were available on Ancestry. I don't have Ancestry at home so I made a mental note to go to the public library or the Family History Center (FHC) soon.

On Monday I posted a newspaper image and transcription, Armitage Reunion, July 4, 1922. On Tuesday morning I read an email from Joyce Humphrey, another Armitage descendant through Abel's second wife, who wrote to thank me for posting the article. Joyce and I have been corresponding irregularly for a year or so. We've shared some of our findings and, in particular, the difficulty of not finding death records for Abel or his second wife, Ann. They disappeared from Jefferson County, Ohio, after the 1880 census.

In the email I sent back to her I mentioned that Ancestry had several new databases for Yorkshire records and that I'd look at them when I got to the library or FHC.

She wrote back that she had Ancestry at home.

Then I sent information that I thought would help her: Abel's locations in the various censuses; probable name and possible marriage date for his first wife; birth dates of their first two children and locations; possible marriage date for Abel's second wife; etc. I wasn't sure how much information she had but I suspected that she wouldn't know Abel's first wife's surname. She said she'd look for Abel later that night. I spent the rest of Tuesday on on things and promptly forgot about the Yorkshire records.

Late Tuesday evening when I checked my email I noticed two from Joyce, one of which had an attachment. She sent transcriptions and images of four records she'd found in the Yorkshire collections at Ancestry. They included the marriage record for Abel Armitage and Eliza Hartley plus baptismal records for both. In addition, both records named the fathers and their occupations.

To say I'm excited is an understatement. Finding this information closes a nearly five-year quest for Elizabeth's parents. Hooray for Joyce, that excellent researcher!

In a future post I'll go into more about how I went about my part of the search for Abel and Eliza.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Outside My Grandmother's Back Door

Between our house and my grandmother's was just a small house with a large yard. At the right you can see Grampa in his driveway, the large yard, and our white house in the background. Just a few skips away--but never through the yard! I visited Gramma nearly every day when I was young. During the summers I usually walked to her house several times a day. My unmarried aunt was often there and sometimes some of my cousins were visiting. When the cousins were there we played outside in Gramma's big yard and driveway. All of us kidders (as she called us) coming and going must have worn her out, but she never said so or gave that impression, was never cross with us.

Outside my grandmother's back door was a hand pump. You can see a glimpse of it in the photo to the left. When I was young Gramma already had running water in the kitchen but during some prior decade the pump (which connected to a cistern) was probably her only source of water. A step, a narrow walkway, and a foot or two of grass separated it from her back door.

The pump stood on a low platform on the grass. On top of the pump or hanging from the water spout was a can or bucket with water in it, kept there to prime it. We poured the water down the pipe not caring if every drop made it into the hole -- spilled water didn't matter because we were outside -- and as soon as the last drop was poured, we began to pump the handle up and down. Out gushed water, cold and fresh and clean, into the bucket that we'd hung over the spout. The faster we pumped, the faster the water flowed. It was a trick to learn when to quit pumping so we didn't overflow the water bucket and get soaked!

The pump's platform was a common place for both children and adults to sit. At right is my father (with a sheepish grin) sitting on the platform. When the pump's platform was dry, we kids often sat there to play I Spy, I'm Thinking, or other quiet games. Sometimes it was the starting place for Mother, May I. The pump is a memorable part of my childhood but it was never the focus of any photographs, just part of the background in several snapshots.

You can imagine that the grass around the pump was well-watered and abundant. One day our attention turned to the grass under our feet. It was then that we noticed clover and began looking for a four leaf clover. Surprise! We found one!
No doubt you know the myth that a four leaf clover brings good luck. With clover in hand we were in great shape for the next ice cream cone, cookie, or whatever it was we thought was good luck on that day.

One of us ran into the house to show the prize to Gramma. She admired it and came back outside. Then the strangest thing happened: she looked at the clover on the ground for a minute and picked another one. After that it seemed that nearly every day she found another four leaf clover. Her eyes were often better than ours and she saw them when we couldn't. She teased us that she was growing a four leaf clover patch. We didn't believe her of course, but we could never explain why there were always a few to be found growing in her yard near the pump.

It is a happy memory to find myself a child at my grandmother's pump outside her back door, with or without a four leaf clover in my hand. I wish I could take a quick walk to her house and have a visit with her now!

My grandmother, Emma Virginia Bickerstaff Meinzen, would be celebrating a birthday today if she were still alive. She was born July 6, 1893, in Jefferson County, Ohio.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Gramma! May family and friends surround you and bring you joy on this day!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Armitage Reunion, July 4, 1922

What a happy surprise to find this article about the descendants of Abel Armitage while searching for another article on microfilm at the Ohio Historical Society. Because the printed version was so hard to read I transcribed it from the microfilm reader. It is a gold mine of names!

Abel Armitage (senior) was married twice so many of the people mentioned in this article are half-family members. The Abel Armitage of this article was his son and half-brother to my g-grandmother, Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen. By the time this reunion was held, Elizabeth had already passed away. Her husband, Henry, and several of her children and grandchildren attended. The surnames of my whole-ancestors mentioned in this article are Meinzen, Rhome, Sticker, Harris, Henderson, Hendricks, and Hardy.

I especially like the last sentence: "...all returned to their homes feeling it was a good thing to have been there, and realizing that many hallowed memories of these annual meetings shall be engraven upon their hearts." It makes me wish I could have been there.
From "The Steubenville Herald-Star," Tuesday, July 11, 1922, page 5, column 4
The fourth annual reunion of the Armitage family was held in Carpenter’s orchard, Brilliant, O., Tuesday, July 4th. Those in attendance were Mr. and Mrs. Abel Armitage and children, James, Dohrman, Kenneth, Nelson, Mr. and Mrs. Foster Armitage, Mr. Henry Mienzen [sic], Sr., Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Sticker, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Harris and children George[,] Edward, Clarence[,] Sydney and Bertha Marie, Mr. William Henderson and son William, Edna Hendricks, Zerelda Hendricks, Miss Cathrine Myers, Mr. Harry Carmichael, Miss Bernice Carmichael[,] Mrs. Mary Martin, Steubenville; Mr. and Mrs. William Hardy and children, Naomi [? - not clearly legible] and William, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Hardy and daughter, Irene, Homer Samuels, Mrs. oRbert [sic] Gilchrist, Brilliant; Mrs. Isabelle Burdess and son Charles, Mrs. Georgia Collige and children Ellen and Chas. Arthur, Mrs. Henry Dickey, Miss Maud Dickey, Rayland; Mrs. Dora Richards, Williamsport, Pa.; Mrs. and Mrs. Robert Armitage and daughter Bernice, Mrs. and Mrs. John Armitage and children, Robert and Catherine, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Armitage, Isabelle Jonard, Lawrence Jonard, Mr. Cyrus Shockley[,] Mr. William Welsh, Tiltonville. At 12 o’clock a sumptuous dinner was spread after which a business sesion [sic] was held. The following officers were elected. President Jacob B. Armitage; vice-president George Harris; secretary treasurer John Burdess; historian Mrs. Jacob Armitage. The features of the afternoon were various games, readings and music. Supper was served at 6 o’clock and all returned to their homes feeling it was a good thing to have been there, and realizing that many hallowed memories of thes [sic] annual meetings shall be engraven upon their hearts.

I Am A Patriot...

...and I love America. I'm grateful to our Founding Fathers for their inspiration, forethought, and levelheadedness. Hurray for America! Hurray for our Founding Fathers! And hurray for all those Patriots who fought to make America a free and independent nation. My sentiments agree with those expressed by Katharine Lee Bates, author of "America." Happy Fourth of July to you.

O beautiful for pilgrim feet Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat Across the wilderness.

America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov'd In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life.

America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness, And ev'ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam Undimmed by human tears.

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Devils Food Cakes in Her Webster's Spelling Recipe Book - Family Recipe Friday

This is the second page from a recipe book that belonged to my grandmother, Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen. She wrote the recipes in pencil and they are now very faded. The "auto contrast" button on Picasa was helpful in bringing the images to readability for posting purposes.

Few of my grandmother's recipes have directions telling the kind or size of pans, the temperature for baking, or even how long to bake. Were there standard pans then? And could she set the temperature on the ovens she used? Probably not the ovens in the early 1900s.

The first recipe calls for mashed potatoes. No doubt my grandmother was frugal, a trait of many housewives of a hundred years ago.
1. Devils Food Cake.
1/4 cup Shortening
1 cup Sugar.
2 1/2 squares chocolate
1/2 cup mashed potatoes
1 egg.
3/8 cup milk.
1 1/4 cups flour.
2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 " Vanilla
1/2 cup chopped Nuts

2. Devils Food Cake.
2 cups brown Sugar.
1/2 cup Shortening
Cream together.
Add 3 eggs.
1/2 cup Sour Milk
1 teaspoon Soda
1 " Baking Powder
1 " Vanilla
1/2 cup hot Water.
1/2 cup cocoa dissolved in Hot Water.

One of these weeks I will be ambitious and try one or two of Gramma's recipes.
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