Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Harper's Weekly Civil War Issues - Tuesday's Tip

Are you interested in seeing what your Northern ancestors may have read during the Civil War?  If so, you are in for a treat:  you can see nearly every issue of Harper's Weekly published between 1861 and 1865 at The Civil War.

What a boon for those of us with ancestors from that time period.  And let's face it, we all had ancestors alive during the 1860s or we wouldn't be here!  Not all ancestors were directly involved with the war but most people were effected by the War in one way or another.

The Civil War website states, "We Believe that the most exciting way to study the Civil War, is to watch the war unfold on the pages of Original Harper's Weekly Newspapers.  Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper during the Civil War, and it featured stunning illustrations, and in depth stories on all the important people and events of the war.  Below, for your research and enjoyment, we present this work in progress.  Presently 1861 through 1864 are completed, and the 1865 issues through May are complete."

The front page of each issue has either one large drawing or several smaller ones.  There are 8 or more pages per issue with more illustrations inside, sometimes full-page.

The newspaper covers events pertaining to the war, government news, current events in Washington, biographies of important (and not so important) people, news of social events, an occasional cartoon, and ads.

I found the website easy to navigate.  Thumbnails of the issues are in columns under the years.  Click on the issue you'd like to view and you will be taken to a screen that gives a brief overview of the contents of that issue with thumbnails of each page. Scroll down to see the first page or click on one of the other pages to view it.

I would show you a screenshot of a page but honestly, they are so large I have to scroll to see the whole page.   You can look at The Capital Dome to see what I mean.   Isn't it exquisite?!

I hope you find Harper's Weekly interesting and helpful to your research.

There's more to the website than Harper's Weekly but I plan to do a review of some of it's other content another time.


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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Medicine and My Ancestors

I recently finished reading My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira. It begins on the eve of the Civil War with the young midwife, Mary, pleading with a doctor to teach her how to become a surgeon. She is turned away: the doctor leaves to serve in the war. When Mary finds that nurses are requested, she leaves home to serve. I will not tell you more of the story line so as not to spoil it, but I will tell you that the reader is gifted with a verbal view of the aftermath of war, specifically medical treatment and the hospital environment.

Of the soldiers who fought in the Civil War and lived beyond the battlefield, those who had amputations or bullet wounds and died did not die from the surgeries performed to save them but from infections and diseases as a result of the surgeries. I find that incredibly sad - to have survived such primitive surgeries, begin to heal, and then die.

Although most of the characters in the book were created by the author, I believe the settings and environments were the results of Oliveira's research of materials written at the time of the Civil War or shortly afterward. (Her acknowledgements were at the front of the book. I neglected them until after I'd finished reading the book. If I'd read them at the beginning I wouldn't have wondered how much of the book was based on imagination and how much was based on research. Hint: if you read the book, read the acknowledgements first!)

I have one direct-line ancestor who served in the Civil War. He was not wounded but in later years suffered maladies he claimed originated during his service. Reading his pension file I wondered if it could be true. After reading Mary Sutter, I don't doubt it.

The book turned my thoughts toward medicine and my ancestors. Or, more specifically, my ancestors and the lack of medical knowledge during their lifetimes. I understand the concept of knowledge growing from knowledge: we can't have it all at the same time. That does not prevent me from wishing that my ancestors had been spared some of the diseases and illnesses that caused their deaths.

This is the beginning of my wish list (ancestor, cause of death & age, modern medical help):

Ellis Bickerstaff: diseases of the respiratory organs; died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 67
Possible respite from the discomforts of his lung problems; psychiatric care and medications

Gust Doyle: colon cancer at the age of 44
Chemotherapy and/or radiation; surgery; antibiotics

Beulah (Gerner) Doyle: septicemia at the age of 24

Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen: skin cancer of the face at the age of 67
Radiation or chemotherapy may have put the cancer in remission and prolonged her life

Hannah Meinzen Hendricks: peritonitis at the age of 35
Identification, surgery, antibiotics

Edward Meinzen: suicide from opium poisoning at the age of 32 resulting from a mental breakdown 2 years earlier
Knowledge of mental health; restrictions on ease of purchase of opium; knowledge of addictive drugs

Bertha Meinzen Henderson: erysipelas and carbuncle at the age of 29
Antibiotics, knowledge of care

Modern medicine can not yet cure all ills and ailments but my ancestors may have lived longer with current medical knowledge. We can't change the past, but don't you just sometimes wish you could?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meinzen Confectionery, Steubenville, Ohio

The oral tradition in our family was that Grampa Henry Meinzen, my maternal great-grandfather, owned a cigar store. My childhood response was, "Oh, yuck." (Of course I couldn't have said that aloud because it would have been disrespectful.)

Decades later, I was pleasantly surprised to find Henry in Steubenville city directories. In the 1904, 1906, 1911, and 1913 directories he was listed as a confectioner with a store at 308 South Third Avenue, next door to his residence. In the 1915-1916 Steubenville City Directory, he was listed as a grocer, but in 1918 he was again listed as a confectioner. A candy store!

I suppose it was easier on the adults to tell the children it was a cigar store instead of candy store: I loved candy and would have been a pest to learn what kind of candy he sold and how much it cost. But knowing he owned a candy store would have endeared him to me.

My father was a child of candy-buying age just a few years later. He remembered that a penny's worth of candy was enough to make him sick. My eyes would have sparkled at the idea of buying so much candy for a penny.

From the photograph above it's difficult to tell exactly what's in the cases. I think there are boxes which look about the size of our modern-day cigar boxes. And I see jars on a higher shelf behind that counter that look like they could have candy in them. It's possible that he sold both cigars and confections.

As far as I've been able to learn, Henry's last year as a shop owner was 1918. Perhaps the combination of age and illness caused him to close the shop. He was 79 in 1918, and his wife, Elizabeth, had already been diagnosed with cancer of the face.

Henry was born 176 years ago, on July 25, 1827. This post honors his memory. Happy birthday, Grampa!

This post is also a contribution to the Carnival of Genealogy: Business and Commerce. Thank you to Jasia of Creative Gene for hosting the Carnival. You can find links to all the submissions at her blog sometime after the first week of August.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Celebrating an Aunt

I recently finished reading Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker. The setting is the early 1940s on a Montana wheat farm. The main character is Ellen Webb, an 18-year-old when the story opens. She's lived as an only child, working the land with her parents. Because the wheat crop is good, she is able to go off to college where she meets and falls in love with a young man who grew up in the city. When she brings him home to meet her parents, her perceptions of who she is, who her parents are, and life in general change as she looks at everything through his eyes.

When I was looking for a photo to celebrate my aunt's birthday today, I found this one. I scanned it a few years ago but hadn't looked at it closely. The miracle of technology allowed me to enlarge it and see that she was just a teen when it was taken. Isn't she lovely? I love to see the freshness of youth, especially youth of a generation or two ago. For some reason the photo reminded me of Winter Wheat (though she wasn't standing in a harvested wheat field).

Aunt Dot is my mother's sister, my grandparents' third daughter. She is the last of that generation of my family. She continues to have joy in life. And she has been a great help with family history, answering questions about people, places, and events as she remembers them. I'm grateful for all she's done for me.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Dot!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Strength to Prevail

Natalie said, "I believe that [our ancestors] reach out to us in love and that they want to be part of our journey." I also believe that's true.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Trio of Celebrations

Sometimes I think our family likes to keep the celebrations together. On several occasions weddings overlap birthdays and births happen on or near anniversaries or other birthdays.

In the case of my brother, Bob, and his wife, Eva, I know they didn't realize their wedding was on the same date as Bob's and my great-great-grandparents Dixon and Rebecca (Smith) Bartley's wedding. They couldn't have because we hadn't researched that far yet.

Dixon and Rebecca were married in Butler County, Pennsylvania, on July 10, 1838. Bob and Eva were married on July 10, 1999. A world of difference separates their lives but the similarities are love and a marriage in a church by a minister.

Happy Anniversary, Bob and Eva. I wish you love and happiness for many more years! Happy Anniversary, Gramma and Grampa Bartley. I hope lots of people you know are celebrating with you this year.

The other celebration today is the birthday of my brother-in-law, Chuck. I know Bob and Eva knew it was his birthday when they chose their wedding date but there were probably other considerations, too. And, well, it was probably almost like having a birthday party considering that all the family was together and everyone wished Chuck a happy birthday.

I'm wishing him a Happy Birthday today. I hope you feel loved and celebrated, Chuck! And here's to many years to come!

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Birthday Almost Missed

Today, Friday, July 6, is the anniversary of my grandmother Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen's 119th birthday. I almost missed it, not because I forgot, but because I've been so busy with other things. (It's amazing what a new baby does to one's life, even if the baby lives hours away!)

Gramma lived two houses down the street from our house: it was a quick walk to spend time with her. She was one of the dearest people in my youth. She loved me unconditionally, taught me to crochet granny afghan squares, and served me bread and real butter (not the miserable margarine we ate at home) nearly every day after school, among other things.

Happy Birthday, Gramma!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebrating America's Independence Day

More than a dozen years ago our family had the opportunity of visiting Colonial Williamsburg throughout several seasons, staying a week or so each time. On our first visit we did not realize that various citizens of the Colonial era were brought to life by interpreters. We were impressed by so many of them but we were most impressed by Thomas Jefferson, interpreted by Bill Barker.

During one of our visits he spoke to us upon his return from presenting the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress. He read parts of the Declaration and referred to or explained other parts. During the course of his talk he spoke of Thomas Mann's influence and commented that Mann proclaimed that we all have the right to "life, liberty, ...." Before he could get the last two words out, the crowd completed the trio of rights with "the pursuit of happiness." Thomas Jefferson responded, "No! I said that!" (Mann proclaimed the rights: life, liberty, and property.)

During that presentation many in the crowd were moved to tears as Mr. Jefferson spoke of freedom and cautioned and encouraged us to guard the freedoms we hold so dear.

During our year of visits we never tired of hearing Thomas Jefferson speak. One week Bill Barker portrayed six different time periods in Jefferson's life. He took questions from the audience and never failed to respond true to the time period he was portraying. When a young lawyer, he would not answer questions based on experiences from later in life: he did not know he would become president and responded with surprise.

If you'd like to hear "Thomas Jefferson" read the Declaration of Independence, visit Mr. Jefferson Speaks.

Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Happy Birthday, America!

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