Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Who, When, Where? - Wordless Wednesday

The only "who" I know in this photo is the young woman on the right. She is my grandmother, Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen.  She was born in 1893.  This photo was probably taken between 1910 and 1915.

It's a sad, blurry photo but it's interesting to me because of the little building, crude and either unfinished or in a state of disrepair.  Also interesting is the debris to the left of the building and the hill onto which it has fallen.

Where, oh where, was this taken?  And who are the other two women?
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Greeting


I am celebrating Thanksgiving with my family this weekend.  I am grateful for so many blessings, not the least of which is having both daughters, a son-in-law, and my grandson here with my husband and me for the holiday.

I hope you are with family and friends and that you are enjoying a rich abundance of blessings, too.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!


--Nancy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My Grandfather, Gust: Farmer, Father, Protector

Although I never knew him, I sometimes I like to imagine my grandfather, Gust Doyle, as a father on the farm where he grew up and lived as an adult.  My father kept his memories of his father close to his heart, never sharing them with his children.  It's only through my father's half sister than I came to know Gust.  She described Gust as easy-going, extremely kind, serious, yet with a sense of humor that allowed him to tease the children in the family.

Gust was a dairy farmer.  The barn stood deserted when we visited the farm a dozen or more years ago but it was easy to imagine Gust at home there milking the cows, cleaning horses' harnesses, oiling the tools in preparation for their winter rest.  I could imagine him mowing, baling, and unloading sweet-scented hay into the barn.

I like to think of my grandfather Gust taking his son, Lee, the little boy who became my father,  to the barn, pasture, and field with him as often as possible.  No doubt Gust taught his son how to feed and care for the animals on the farm; taught him about nature and other things of interest to little boys; and patiently answered his questions.  I imagine his son sitting on his knee as he drove the horses in the field, teaching and guiding little hands to learn to drive the horse, too.  All of this to the end of keeping him away from the house, protected and safe from the step-mother who didn't like him.

This post commemorates and honors Gust Doyle.  He was born this day, November 17, in the year 1888.  His life was cut short by cancer when he was just 44 years old.  I think of him as a hero.

Happy Birthday, Grampa!








Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Farmers in Your Family Between 1850 and 1880? - Tuesday's Tip

My ancestor, Dixon Bartley, is on line 9.
If you have farmers who lived in the United States between 1850 and 1880, you may find the Agricultural Schedules of the U.S. Census for those years helpful.  Farmers were required to provide information about property ownership, what they grew, the numbers of animals they owned, etc.  The information recorded will put meat on the bones of dates and locations as well as tell you the names of other farmers in the township where your ancestor lived. I understand that the enumerator recorded the families in the same order he recorded the families for the population schedules.

Because you will have found your farmer ancestor in the U.S. population census for each of those years, you will know the state, county, and township where he lived.  I suspect finding your farmer in the population schedule will be easier than finding an image of the agricultural schedule for your ancestor, but because there is so much interesting information in the agricultural schedule it may be worth the effort to you to search for him.

The schedules vary from one year to the next but generally include specific information about animals, crops, products, etc.  The 1880 schedule asks for the most specific information, but most of the following is requested all years:
  • acres of improved and unimproved land
  • cash value of the farm
  • value of farming implements and machinery
  • livestock in numbers (horses; asses and mules; milch cows; working oxen; other cattle; sheep; swine; chickens)
  • value of livestock
  • produce in bushels or pounds (wheat, rye, Indian corn, oats, rice, tobacco, ginned cotton, wool, peas & beans, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, barley, buckwheat, hay, clover seed, other grass seeds, hops, both dew rotted and water rotted hemp, flax, flaxseed, silk cocoons)
  • processed products including wine, butter, cheese, maple sugar, cane sugar, molasses, beeswax, and honey
  • values of orchard products; produce of market gardens; homemade manufactures; animals slaughtered
Talk about getting a snapshot image of a working farm!  I think only photographs and a journal or interviews could do better.

Above I alluded to the challenge of finding the Agricultural census images.  Most are not available online but I was more than thrilled to find that the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has the 1850 and 1880 agricultural census images available for every township in every county at no cost.  If you have a Pennsylvania farmer click over and take a look.

If your farmer didn't live in Pennsylvania I encourage you to perform an online search for agriculture census images for the year, state, and county when and where your ancestor lived.  Some genealogy societies, larger genealogy libraries, historical societies, and states in the U.S. GenWeb Project are making the images available online.

The U.S. National Archives gives a brief overview of Nonpopulation Census Schedules.  You can read information about the agricultural schedules and if you scroll to the bottom of the page you'll find a microfilm list.  Click on your state of interest and learn the series and roll numbers for your counties of interest.  The rolls are available for viewing at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and are available for purchase but are expensive at $125.00 per roll.

FamilySearch's wiki, United States Census Agricultural Schedules, gives some information about the agricultural census schedules and states that the Family History Library has very few.  To find them do a place search for the state, choose "census," and then choose the census year.

Regina De Leon of  Kinfolk News created transcription templates for all four years the agriculture census was taken.  In her 2010 post, Agriculture Templates are Here, she generously offered to email them to anyone who asked.  (I asked her last week if readers could request them now and she said yes.)  They are excellently done and I was thrilled to find them, especially because it was at about the same time that I found the Pennsylvania records online.  Regina worked long and hard to create the forms and says they were truly a labor of love.  You can imagine.

I was interested to learn that in the 1880 census (for the year 1879), my farmer ancestor Dixon Bartley reported that he owned 322 acres of land.  Of those acres, 6 were devoted to apple orchards where 700 bearing trees grew.  He owned horses, cows, pigs, and chickens.  From the cows he produced 700 pounds of butter.  He grew buckwheat, Indian corn, oats, rye, wheat, and potatoes.  His farm also produced 200 pounds of honey.  He seems not to have had hired help except at a total cost of $50.00. When I combine the information from the population and agricultural censuses, I can begin to imagine the Bartley family and the busy workings of Dixon's tidy farm.

Maybe you can recreate a year or so of your own farmer ancestor's life with the agricultural census schedules.

--Nancy.
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gust Doyle's World War I Draft Registration Card - Military Monday

On this document (and several others) my paternal grandfather signed his name "Gus."
Form 1           REGISTRATION CARD          No. 5

1     Name in full    Gus Doyle       Age in Years    28
2     Home Address     Rural Route #1    Stoneboro    Pa
3     Date of birth     Nov  17  1888
4     Are you (1) a natural-born citizen...      Natural Born
5     Where were you born?     Stoneboro     Penna     USA
6     If not a citizen....
7     What is your present trade, occupation, or office?     Farming      1
8     By whom employed?     Myself
       Where employed?     Stoneboro
9     Have you a [family member]... solely dependent on you for support..."
       Wife & 1 Child
10   Married or single (which)?   Married       Race (specify which)?   Caucasian
11   What military service have you had?  Rank     None
12   Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)?
       Occupation & Family support

I affirm that I have verified above answers and that they are true.
Gus Doyle [signature]

                      REGISTRAR'S REPORT
1   Tall, medium, or short...?    short       Slender, medium, or stout...?    medium
2    Color of eyes    light Blue      Color of hair    Brown       Bald    no
3    Has person lost arm, leg, hand... otherwise disabled...?     no

I certify that my answers are true, that the person registered has read his own answers, that I have witnessed his signature, and that all of his answers of which I have knowledge are true, except as follow    [blank]

37-2-27.  A    [rubber stamped]

H. H. McClearn [signature] (Signature of Registrar)
Precinct   Stoneboro
City or County   Mercer
State   Penna
June 5/17   (Date of Registration)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Blank transcription forms for World War I Draft Registration Card A are available from Ancestry.com as pdf documents.
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Friday, November 2, 2012

Our American Family, A Family History Program

Our American Family is a new program which hopes to capture and document the voices of American families from 1900 to 1950, one family at a time. It also seeks to "inspire viewers to capture their own family stories - before those voices are gone."  (Click to enlarge the image below or go to the website.)
 

Below you can watch a brief description of Our American Family.  If you like what you see, contact your local PBS station and ask them to broadcast it in your area.  At the Our American Family website you can see more video excerpts.



Would you and your family like to participate?  Our American Family says, "We are seeking families to add to the Our American Family tapestry.  We encourage you to review our documentary qualification requirements and if your family qualifies, to submit an online application."  Find out more at the website.

I was excited to learn that the program will be broadcast on our local PBS station, WOSU, on December 18, 2012.  I hope it comes to a station near you!
--Nancy. .
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