Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Elvira - Wordless Wednesday


Coal Mining Resources - Tuesday's Tip

I have coal mining ancestors whose end I cannot find:  John Froman and Abel Armitage.  I am always interested in new sources to help me learn about mining accidents in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  Sometimes the sources do not include names (as in the one below) but give me information about accidents and the work of coal mining. 

Even if you don't have Pennsylvania ancestors you may find some interesting and/or helpful information in Gerald E. Sherard's Pennsylvania Mine Accidents, 1869 - 1972.   The document includes a history of the discovery of coal in Pennsylvania; mining accidents with dates, locations, and numbers of deaths; and possible causes of mining accidents in Pennsylvania.  As I said, you will not find the name of an ancestor in this document but if you have a coal mining ancestor whose exact death date you cannot discover but can narrow to a few years, it may help you determine whether he may have died in a mining accident.  Mr. Sherard also discusses laws regarding mining and gives links to other mining resources that may help find your mining ancestor. 

No matter where your coal mining ancestor worked, one part of this publication that may be of interest to you is the several pages of glossary of mining terms.  I learned jobs I didn't know existed and clear definitions of words I assumed I knew but may have mis-defined.

For example, a "spragger" is "a laborer who rides trains of cars and controls their free movement down gently sloping inclines by throwing switches and by poking sprags (short, stout, metal or wooden rods) between the wheels' spokes to stop them." 

"Naked light" is "an open flame in a miner's lantern or helmet light; open light; no safety light." 

A "trip" is "a small train of mine cars."

There was danger at every turn.  It's no surprise that we descendants of coal miners wonder if they died in  mine accidents, especially when we can find no reference to them after one date or another and no information about their deaths.

Other posts about coal mining:
> Coal Miners in My Family
> Once a Miner, Twice a Breaker Boy - Tuesday's Tip


Monday, February 24, 2014

52 Ancestors - Tressa Rose Froman

Tressa Rose Froman is my father's paternal grandmother.  She married William Doyle on March 17, 1885, in Stoneboro, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  At right is Tressa on her wedding day.

Tressa is, in some respects, an enigma.  For instance, her name varies several times from early records to later in life.  "Theresa" appears in a transcription of her birth/baptismal record of Good Hope Lutheran and Reformed Church in West Salem Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  The 1870 U.S. Census and her 1872 file for guardianship after her father died both record her name as "Theressa," obviously a spelling variation as is also "Teressa," as she appears in the 1880 U.S. Census.  Her marriage record and the 1900 U.S. Census give her name as "Rose" but in subsequent census records she is "Tressa" or "Tressa R."

Names seem so much a part of personal identity.  I can't help but wonder what brought about the changes.

Tressa's birth year is also a little challenging to discover.  The Good Hope Lutheran and Reformed Church records give the date as May 24, 1868 -- but perhaps that's the baptismal date and not the birth date.  Her father's Orphans Court file gives her birth date as August 20, 1867.  The 1900 U.S. Census records that she was born in March, 1867.  And her death certificate indicates she was born on September 24, 1867.  The only common date is 1867 but only in 3 of the 4 documents.  And for every record, a different person gave (or may have given) the information.

Name variations and different birth dates for one person aren't uncommon when searching for ancestors but common doesn't make it less challenging.  I know it's too much to wish for a family Bible....

. . . . . . . . . . .

This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's call to her readers to write about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Neither Rhyme Nor Reason (as far as I can tell)

The documents in John Froman's Orphan's Court file are dated in this order:
  • August 17, 1876
  • December 16 1872
  • February 20, 1873
  • December 16, 1872
  • November 13, 1872
  • [illegible] 21, [illegible]
  • December 16, 1872
  • August 29, 1876
  • March 22, 1876 / June 21, 1876
  • March 4, 1872
  • (and a few rogue papers for the widow of Samuel Dunn or Gunn, dated December 12, 1872)

I'm thrilled to have these copies for my great-great-grandfather from Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  However, the lack of order and sequence perplexes me.  I wish I knew how they should be organized.  I still have them paper clipped together as they came in the envelopes, but I added post-it tabs with each paper's/document's date to at least help me mentally organize the papers.  Another challenge is that some pages have no clear delineation whether they belong to the page in front or the page behind or are totally separate documents. 

It makes sense to me that they should be organized chronologically.  (Is that right, you experienced family historians who read this?) 

As I begin transcribing I hope the rhyme and reason of everything in this file will become evident and the pages/documents will settle into their proper places.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Grampa and Four of His Sisters - Sibling Saturday

Clockwise from top:
William Carl Robert "Bob" Meinzen, 1892 - 1979
Naomi (Meinzen) Rhome, 1898/99 - 1979
Marie Isabella "Belle" (Meinzen) Hashman, 1880 - 1967
Wilhelmina Elizabeth "Mina" (Meinzen) Harris, 1885-1986
Lula Bernesa (Meinzen) Sticker, 1887 - 1979

This photo was taken in the mid-1960s.  These five Meinzen sibs had 10 other brothers and sisters.  Of the 15, only six of them lived longer than their parents. 

I had forgotten that three of these siblings died in the same year, just months apart.  Grampa died in June, age 87; Lula in October, age 92; and Naomi in December, age 81.  I never thought Grampa was particularly close to his sisters.  The aunts all lived in Steubenville, Ohio; Grampa lived in Mineral Ridge, Ohio.  Visits were infrequent, at least during the years I remember.  But Grampa didn't share much about his childhood, his parents, or his feelings, so who knows.

I don't know the occasion for this photograph but it must have been a solemn event considering their serious expressions.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Petition for Guardianship for Theressa Froman - Amanuensis Monday

From the Orphan's Court, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, come the documents below.  Catherine Saylor Froman's husband, John, was dead.  She had seven children who, for reasons I don't yet completely understand, needed the protection of a guardian.   She petitioned the court on December 16, 1872, requesting that they appoint a guardian.     
Catherine Froman's Petition
To the Hon the Judgs [sic] of the Orphan’s
Court of Mercer Co Pa
     The petition of John Lizzie
Jacob Theressa Adam Augustus
& Catherine Froman Miner
Children under 14 years of age
of John Froman Decd.
   by their mother Catherine Froman
respectfully represents that
they have no one legally authoriz[ed]
to take charge of their Estate
which consists of about one half
of one Hundred Acrs [sic] of land
about to be sold for payment of
debts & therefore prays the
court to appoint some
suitable person             her
                     Catherine  X  Froman

Mercer County ss
     Catherine Froman being
duly sworn says the facts
above set forth are true to
the best of her knowledge
Sworn to this }          her
13 Dec. 1872 }      C.  X  Froman
W Buck J P     }         mark

Bond - Guardian of Theressa Frauman  
Know all Men by These Presents:
     That we,       S. W. Mannheimer     of Mercer County, are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in the sum of      one hundred      dollars, lawful money of the United States, to which payment well and truly to be made, we bind ourselves, and each of us by himself, for and in the whole, our heirs, executors and administrators, and each of us firmly by these presents.  Sealed by our Seals, dated this      Sixteenth      day of      December      A. D, 1872
     The condition of this obligation is such that if the above bounden      S. W. Mannheimer     guardian of      Theressa Frauman      [sic] minor child of     John Frauman     [sic] late of Mercer County, deceased, shall at least once in every three years, and at any other time when thereunto required by the Orphan’s Court for the County of Mercer, render a just and true account of the management of the property and estate of said minor under his care, and shall also deliver up the said property agreeable to the order and decree of said Court, or the directions of law, and shall, in all respects, faithfully discharge his duties of guardian of said
     Theressa Frauman    
then the above obligation shall be void, otherwise it shall be and remain in full force and virtue.

Witness at signing [two blank lines].
                                                                           S W Mannheimer    [L. S.] 

Thoughts, Observations, Etc. 
  • This is the first of those four fat envelopes from the Orphans Court, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.
  • Both Tressa's first and last names are variations of the names in family records.  We recognize her as Tressa Froman but this document gives her names as Theressa Froman (on the first page) and Theressa Fromman (on the second page).
  • Considering that there were 7 children, $100.00 each in bond seems like a lot of money.  In fact, The Inflation Calculator tells me that $100.00 in 1872 was equal to $1889.08 in 2012.
  • Records like these are new to me.  Why did the guardian have to give the court money?  Taking on the responsibility of  seven children seems like enough of a commitment without having to give over $100.00 for each child.
  • Who was S. W. Mannheimer?  I found S. W. Munheimer in the 1870 U.S. Census, living in Greenville Borough (New Hamburg post office), Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  He was 29 years old, a D. G. Merchant who owned $3500 in real estate with a personal estate valued at $13,500.  Enumerated with him in the same household were Ellie, 20; Nettie, 1; Lizzie Savers, 16; and Raphael Munheimer, 23.  He was born in Germany and was a naturalized citizen.  I also found Saml W. Mannheimer, in the 1880 U.S. Census.  He was 37 years old, a cigar manufacturer, living in Cincinnati, Ohio, again with Ellen and Nettie, plus a son, Charles.  Was he a friend of John Froman?  They were nearly the same age.  Was he was a relative, perhaps an in-law?  Did they come from Germany together?  And what is a D. G. Merchant?
  • The only information I gather about John Froman from these pages is that he died before December 16, 1872; that he (probably) owned "about one half of one Hundred Acrs [sic] of land" and, because those acres were about to be sold, he was probably in debt.

There's so much more I want to know.  I hope the other file is helpful.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

"The Pictures are Talking"

Sometimes I imagine the people in my photographs talking to me.  Do you?


Thursday, February 13, 2014

52 Ancestors - Emma Doyle

Emma Doyle Lengauer Leathers was my paternal grandfather Gust Doyle's older sister.  Their parents were William and Tressa Rose (Froman) Doyle. 

1886 December 25
Emma was born in Stoneboro, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  She was the first child in the family.

1888 November 17
Sibling Gust Doyle was born in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania.

1891 December 9
Sibling Hazel Doyle was born in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania.

1905 July 5
Emma married John Lengauer, Jr., in Franklin, Venango County, Pennsylvania, by M. A. Henderson.  Hazel and John were both 21 years old and both lived in Stoneboro.  He worked as a miner. 

1905 November 22
Madelyn Lengauer was born.

1907 July 3
Evelyn Lengauer was born.

1910 April
This 1910 U. S. Census shows Emma and both daughters living in the home of her parents in Stoneboro.  She was recorded as 23 years old, a widow, having been married 5 years.  Madelyn was 4, Evelyn was 2.  Family sources indicate that John died in a mining accident but those sources do not include a date of death or burial location.

1913 June 26
Emma Doyle Lengauer married Chauncey E. Leathers in Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania.  Both were 26 and both lived in Stoneboro.  Chauncey was a railroad conductor.

1920 January
The 1920 U.S. Census recorded Emma and Chauncey living in Stoneboro, six houses away from her parents.  Chauncey was recorded as 34 years old, Emma as 33, Madeline as 14, and Evelyn as 12.  He was still a conductor with the railroad.

1930 April
The 1930 U.S. Census recorded Emma and Chauncey living on Maple Street in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania.  Neither daughter was recorded as living with them in April, 1930.  Chauncey was a conductor for a steam rail road.

1930 March 27
Emma's mother, Tressa Rose (Froman) Doyle died.

The 1940 U.S. census recorded Emma and Edward living on Lake Street in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania.  Both were 53 years old and Edward was still a conductor with the railroad.  In all previous records Edward had been recorded as Chauncey E. or Chauncey Edward.  Perhaps he was usually called Edward or perhaps the name Chauncey went out of fashion.  Also living with Emma and Chauncey was Emma's widowed father, William Doyle, age 77.

1956 June 2
Emma died.  She was buried two days later at Oak Hill Cemetery in Sandy Lake Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

Because my father's mother passed away in 1913 when he was just over a month old, he was cared for by family members.  During his toddler years he spent time with his paternal grandmother and his aunts, Emma and Hazel.  He was close to both of them as a child so it surprises me that there are no photographs of Aunt Emma.  I'm sure we visited as a family when I was a child but the visits were rare enough (or my childhood memory dim enough) that I don't remember her.

Yet to Do
  • Find death year for John Lengauer, Jr.  If it's true he died in a mining accident it's possible there would have been a newspaper article about the accident or a government accident report.  The 1910 Census indicates that Emma was a widow and had been married 5 years.  Since she married in 1905, I don't know if that suggests that John died in 1910 or that even though she's a widow, Emma considers herself still married.  At any rate, John would have died no earlier than mid-1906 since Evelyn was born in July 1907. 
  • Find  Chauncey Edward Leathers death date and a death certificate, if possible.
  • Find a death certificate Emma Doyle Lengauer Leathers.

. . . . . . . . . .

This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's call to her readers to write about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks


Monday, February 10, 2014

Four Fat Envelopes . . .

. . . arrived from the Mercer County, Pennsylvania, Courthouse on Saturday.  They require self-addressed, stamped envelopes with requests -- and I knew 48 pages would not fit in one envelope, so I sent four.  (Note to self:  next time send a large envelope with more than enough postage so the pages arrive in order.)

For John Froman and his family, I received
  • Petition 7 of December 1872 from Proceeding Book 6 (16 pages) which is the petition of Catherine Froman on behalf of her children that the court appoint a guardian.  These pages give me the names of John and Catherine Froman's children
  • O.S. 3410-D, documents from December 1872 and August 1876 (32 pages).  

I have not had time to peruse the pages but a quick overview recounts what must have been a sorrowful time in the life of John Froman's widow and seven young children.  I am eager to decipher the handwriting and learn what I can about John and his family.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

William N. McClelland - Sunday's Obituary

William McClelland, known to us as Cub, was the husband of one of my father's cousins.

"William N. McClelland Dies; Services Set
     "SHARON, Pa. --- William N. McClelland, 62, of 145 Lyle Drive, Hickory Township, died at 8:40 p.m. Sunday in Sharon General Hospital following an illness of several months.
     "Mr. McClelland was born Aug. 12, 1904, in Stoneboro, a son of Joseph and Elizabeth Newell McClelland.  He had retired March 1 after working 42 years at the Westinghouse Electric Corp.  He was a member of Oakland Methodist Church and the Masonic Orders.
     "He leaves his wife, the former Evelyn Lengauer Leathers; his father in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.; a half-brother, Paul of Hannibal, Mo., and a half-sister, Mrs. Edward Fritton of Niagara Falls, N.Y.
     "Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Trevor Sample Funeral Home, where friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. today and 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday."

William's wife was Evelyn, known to us as Evie.  Evie's mother, Emma, and my father's father, Gust, were siblings who were both children of William and Tressa Rose (Froman) Doyle.

This obituary comes from an unnamed, undated newspaper.  (My mother was a great saver of newspapers clippings but not a dater of newspaper clippings.)  From other family information I know that Cub died in 1967 but I need to find the exact date. 


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thank you, Rootstech Bloggers!

To all you bloggers who attended Rootstech 2014 and have been posting about it --
Thank you!

I sincerely appreciate seeing your photos and reading your thoughts and comments about the conference, the speakers, and the vendors.  You're fabulous to take the time to share with those of us who couldn't be there. 



Friday, February 7, 2014

Results of First Time Indexing Obituaries

A week or so ago I indexed obituaries for the first time at FamilySearch.  They are a little different than indexing census records because you have to read the obituary, find all the names and relationships for each person named in the obituary, and enter that information into a form.  I read the instructions and checked them again when I had a question or was unsure, but I wasn't sure how well I was doing. 

I'm pleased to report than my entries were 97% accurate.  By checking the arbitration results I learned that when a mother's maiden name is included with her married surname (without parentheses), both surnames are entered, not just her maiden or married surname.

One wonderful thing about indexing obituaries is that they are newspaper clippings so there is no handwriting to decipher.  Easy compared to reading those census takers' handwriting styles.

I really enjoy indexing obituaries.  Maybe you will too.  You can learn more at FamilySearch's Indexing Overview.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

52 Ancestors:  Lula Meinzen Sticker

Aunt Lula was my great-aunt, my maternal grandfather's sister.  She was one of the four Steubenville aunts who drove to the Ridge to visit every now and then.  When I was a child she seemed old - very old - much older than my grandfather.  It turns out she was a little older:  she was born in 1887, he was born in 1892.

Lula was one of three sisters born within a few years of each other.  Stair steps.  Mina was born in January 1885; Lula in January 1887; and Bertha in October, 1888.  (Bertha died in 1918).  There were two other sisters who survived to older age:  Belle, born in August 1880, on the top step, and on the bottom step was Naomi, born in May 1898.  The four surviving sisters (Belle, Mina, Lula, and Naomi) seemed always to come to the Ridge together, usually with Uncle Charlie driving them.  I don't think any of the sisters had drivers licenses.

Aunt Lula and Uncle Charlie married on December 26, 1911.   He was a 25-year-old boiler-maker; she was a 24-year-old "domestic."  The 1913 Steubenville City Directory tells me Charlie was working at La Belle Iron Works and that they were living at 320 S. Third, several houses from her parents at 308 S. Third.  By 1920, according to the census, Uncle Charlie was a pottery worker.

Aunt Lula and Uncle Charlie never had children of their own that I can find -- a misfortune, considering their joy in life and pleasure in children.  But when two of Lula's older sisters died (Hannah and Bertha) they left behind children who needed homes and care.  Hannah's children were Edna and Zerelda Hendrix.  Bertha's son was William O. Henderson.  The children were separated and placed with their grandparents, Henry & Elizabeth Meinzen; with Lula and Charlie; and with Russel and Naomi (Meinzen) Rhome.  The children's grandmother, Elizabeth, was in ill health by early 1920 and died in June.  Both Zerelda and William O. were living the Lula and Charlie by early 1920.  I'm sure they gave both children good homes.

Uncle Charlie died in 1960.  His obituary was published in the Tuesday, April 19, 1960, issue of the Steubenville Herald Star.

Charles Sticker
    Charles E. Sticker, 73, of 618 Brady Ave., died at 6:20 p.m. Monday in Ohio Valley Hospital after a short illness.
    He was born Oct. 7, 1886, in Steubenville, a son of the late Joseph A. and Sarah Wood Sticker.
    He retired in 1954 from the Standard Slag Co. of Weirton.
    He was a member of the Starkdale United Presbyterian Church.  He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge No. 45, F and AM and the Scttish [sic] Rite, Valley of Steubenville.
    He leaves his widow, Mrs. Lulu Sticker; one brother, Jess E. Sticker of Lake Wales, Fla.; one sister, Mrs. Julia Sharpe of Lakewood, Ohio, and one niece, Elizabeth (Betty) Fair of Steubenville.  He was preceded in death by three brothers and one sister.
    Friends may call at the Dunlope Funeral Home in Wintersville after 7 tonight.  Funeral services will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. in the funeral home.  The Rev. Mr. C. Sheldon Hastings will officiate.  Burial will be in the Union Cemetery.  Masonic services will be held Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the funeral home.

 Aunt Lula died in 1979.  Her obituary was published in the Monday, October 29, 1979, edition of the Steubenville Herald Star.

Mrs. Lula Sticker
    Mrs. Lula B. Sticker, 92, of Elmer White Apartments, Steubenville, died at 10:40 p.m. Saturday in the Cadiz Convalescent Center.
    She was a charter member of the Starkdale United Presbyterian Church.
    Surviving are a brother, Robert Meinzen of Mineral Ridge, Ohio, and two sisters, Mrs. Elizabeth Harris and Mrs. Naomi Rhome, both of Steubenville.
    She was born Jan. 20, 1887, in Jefferson County, a daughter of the late Henry and Elizabeth Armatage Meinzen.  She was also preceded in death by her husband, Charles Sticker in 1960.
    Friends may call at the Dunlope Funeral Home, Wintersville, 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. today; services there 1 p.m. Tuesday; the Rev. James Nimmo III; Union Cemetery.

One of my cousins who lived in Steubenville remembers Aunt Lula as fun-loving, with a great sense of humor.  My brother remembers that she loved to sing hymns but was nearly always off-key.   I remember Uncle Charlie as a gentle tease who was willing to play with and entertain us younger children.  I enjoyed his company.

. . . . . . . . . . .

This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's call to her readers to write about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lula Meinzen & Charles Sticker - Wedding Wednesday

Lula Meinzen Sticker is my maternal grandfather's sister.

The State of Ohio, Jefferson County, ss.
In Probate Court,
Personally appeared Charles E. Sticker and made application for a marriage license, and being duly sworn, says that he is 25 years of age, a resident of Steubenville, County of Jefferson, and State of Ohio; his place of birth is Steubenville, County of Jefferson, and State of Ohio; his occupation is Boiler maker, his father's name is Joseph Sticker; his mother's name was Sarah Hood; that he was - not - previously married
That Miss Lula Meinzen is 24 years of age, a resident of Steubenville, in this county, her place of birth is Steubenville, County of Jefferson, and state of Ohio; her occupation is a Domestic; her father's name is Henry Meinzen her mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Armitage; that she was--not--previously married....  That they are not nearer of ties than second cousins, and that there is no legal impediment to their marriage.
     That Rev. Rowland is expected to solemnize the marriage ceremony.
     X Charles E. Sticker [signature]
     X Lula Meinzen [signature]
     Sworn to and subscribed this 26th day of December 1911
     J. R. McCleard [signature]  JUDGE

No. 33531
The State of Ohio, Jefferson County, ss:
     I hereby certify, That on the 26 day of Dec 1911
Mr. Charles E. Sticker and Miss Lula Meinzen
were legally joined in marriage by me, a Minister at Steubenville County of Jefferson, and State of Ohio.
Geo P. Rowland [signature]


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Recommending Book of Ages

Book of Ages:  The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore is one of the best books I've read in a very long time.  

Jane Franklin, sister of the famous Benjamin Franklin, grew up at a time when girls were taught to read but not to write; when women's work consisted of cooking, cleaning, and sewing; at a time when history paints women as invisible.  Jane's brother taught her to write and moved away before she became proficient, but that didn't stop her from carrying on a correspondence with him for most of their lives.

Lepore used Jane's surviving letters to write Book of Ages but she used so much more:  her research was broad and deep and she drew from a multitude of other sources to bring Jane's life to light.  While the book is a biography of Jane Franklin Mecom, it is also the history of a society, a chronicle of events during the 1700s in New England, an annotated genealogy of a family, and a social history of the life of women at that time.

There are several aspects of the book that I particularly appreciate.  First, Lepore's writing style is rich and full.  At times it borders on poetic but it is always clear and concise.

Of the 442 pages in the book, the biography itself is 267 of those pages.  The other 175 pages are devoted to notes, appendices, and index.  Clearly, Lepore is a careful and accurate researcher.  The notes are fabulous, sometimes transcribing whole letters, other times giving further information or details.  The actual footnote numbers in the text are unobtrusive, and at the top of each page in the notes section the page numbers are given.  I didn't have to remember which chapter I was reading to determine which note to read.  It's a small thing but it made the reading experience more pleasant.

I appreciate that Lepore transcribed Jane's and Franklin's letters without editing them.  The word-lover in me enjoys seeing how words were spelled, how punctuation was used, how sentences were formed in times past.  Jared Sparks, an early editor of Franklin's work, as well as Jane's, was, it seems, a heavy-handed editor who altered some of the characteristics (non-standardized spelling and punctuation, in particular) that make the letters and other writings so appealing and individual.  One chapter and one appendix are devoted to Jared Sparks and his hand in the adulteration of Jane's and Franklin's original works, and the loss of some other original historical documents.

Honestly, I can't write enough good things about this book.  It is fabulous!

You might enjoy Jill Lepore's presentation, Jane Franklin's Spectacles Or, the Education of Benjamin Franklin's Sister, given on October 2, 2013, at the Free Library of Philadelphia.  It is delightful.  It's nearly an hour long but watching for even 10 minutes will give you insight into the life of Jane Franklin, Lepore's enthusiasm for her topic, her research for the book, and its creation.

Having read Book of Ages inspires me to think just a little differently when researching my female ancestors who left so little after their sojourn on earth -- a name and some basic information in a census or, depending on the year, possibly just a chit mark, maybe a marriage record or a mention in a newspaper.  Perhaps there is hope of discovering more, or at least fitting them into their sphere in the world in which they lived.


Monday, February 3, 2014

52 Ancestors - Edward G. Gerner

Edward G. Gerner was the fifth child and third son of Frederick and Elvira Bartley Gerner.  He is one of my paternal grandmother's older brothers.  Essentially, I've discovered birth, marriage, and death information for him, but not too much else.

Edward was born in Putnam County, West Virginia on July 16, 1877.  His parents moved there soon after their marriage in 1872 and returned to Butler County, Pennsylvania, about ten years later, in about 1882 when Edward would have been 5.

Edward married Ella Knapp on June 24, 1903.  Edward was living in Harrison County, Ohio, working as a pumper (probably of oil); Ella was living in Fairview, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

They appear in the 1910 U.S. Census, living in Clinton Township, Venango County, Pennsylvania.  Edward was 32, Ella 27.  There are no children.  The census taker recorded that Edward's business was oil/petroleum and that he was an employer.

Edward died on October 21, 1917 in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  His cause of death was tuberculosis peritonitis, a disease from which he suffered for 18 months.  His death certificate indicates he was buried in Fredonia, Pennsylvania.  The informant for the death certificate was Glenn Knapp of Stoneboro, Pennsylvania, possibly Ella's father or a brother.

Edward's death was the third of Fred and Elvira's adult children:  their oldest daughter, Ida, died of consumption in 1904, and Beulah died after childbirth in 1913.

  • The oil industry in the United States began in the 1850s in Venango County, Pennsylvania.  I've not yet found information the company Edward may have owned or details about petroleum retrieval and production in the early 1900s.
  • Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  It usually affects the lungs but can affect other parts of the body, including the peritoneum.  The peritoneum is a membrane that lines the abdominal cavity.  Tuberculosis was formerly called consumption, named for the way it consumes the body from the inside out.  Tuberculosis peritonitis is difficult diagnose because of non-specific conditions and is often fatal.

Birth Record Image & Transcription
Line Number.  17
Date of Birth.  July 17 1877
Name of Child.  Edward G. Gerner
Sex.  Male
Born.  Alive
Place of Birth.  Scott District
Father's Name.  Frederick Gerner
Father’s Occupation.  Farmer
Father's Residence.  Scott District
Mother's Name in Full.  Elvira Gerner
Name of Person Giving Information of Birth.  Frederick Gerner
Relation.  Father

Marriage Record Image & Transcription
No. 7463
E. G. Gerner born in W Virginia on the 16" day of July A.D. 1877 residing at Harrison Co. Ohio and a Pumper by occupation not related by blood or marriage to the person whom he desires to marry never married before
and Ella Knapp born in Mercer Co Penna, on the 24" day of June A.D. 1882 residing at Fairview . . . never married before
And now this 24" day of June 1903 Marriage License issued in legal form . . . .
    Filed this 24" day of June 1903.
    Duplicate Certificate returned and filed this 3 day of July 1903 showing marriage ceremony to have been performed by J. M. Farrell on the 24" day of June 1903.

Death Certificate Image & Transcription
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics
Certificate of Death, File No. 115543
County of Mercer, Township or Borough of [blank]
1.     Place of Death County of Mercer.
2.     Full Name Edward G. Gerner.
3.     Sex     male
4.     Color     white
5.     Marital Status    Married
6.     Date of Birth     July 17, 1877
7.     Age     40 years 3 months 4 days
8.     Occupation     oil producer
9.     Birthplace     Pennsylvania
10.     Name of Father     Fred Gerner
11.     Birthplace of Father     Pennsylvania
12.     Maiden Name of Mother     Elvira Bartley
13.     Birthplace of Mother     Pennsylvania
14.     Informant     Glenn Knapp, Stoneboro, Pa
15.     Filed    July 24th 1917 H. W. Redford, Local Registrar
16.     Date of Death     Oct. 21, 1917
17.     I hereby certify, that I attended deceased from Sept. 1 1917 to Oct. 21 1917, that I last saw him alive on Oct. 18, 1917, and that death occurred on the date stated above at 2:30 P.M.  The Cause of Death was as follows:  Tuberculosis peritonitis. Duration 1 year, 6 months.
        Signed J. E. Ferringer, M.D.  Oct. 22, 1917, Stoneboro, Pa.
18.     Length of Residence    [blank]
19.     Place of Burial or Removal    Fredonia    Date of Burial Oct. 24, 1917
20.    Undertaker     A. M. Yeager, Stoneboro, Pa.

Yet to Find
  • 1910 U.S. Census
  • WWI draft registration
  • cemetery and gravestone
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's call to her readers to write about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Book of Me - Snow No More

When I was a child and youth my favorite season was winter.  I hoped for snow, then more snow, all winter long.  Though we lived two hours south of Lake Erie, we sometimes saw the tail end of the blizzards that the cities along the lake shore received.  Oh joy!

I loved to watch the big heavy flakes fall while sitting inside a warm home.  I loved to stand outside and catch the flakes on my tongue.  I loved to build snowmen and snow forts and make angels in the snow.  I loved to trudge through the snow.  I may have loved shoveling snow (though I don't remember doing it, ever).  Strangely enough, I don't remember ever sledding down a hill when I was a child but I know I would have loved that, too, because I loved it as a young adult. 

We wore wool then:  wool coats and wool mittens and wool scarves.  We played in the snow, soaked them through, then trudged inside, wrung them out, and laid them over the heaters to dry.  We also held our reddened hands over the heat sources to warm our nearly-frozen fingers.  I never minded having cold fingers because being outside in the snow had been such fun.  If it weren't too late in the day, I was ready to go out again as soon as my mittens were dry.

I think the attraction of snow was its different-ness.  Because of its snow, winter is not like any other season.  Late spring can be mistaken for early fall.  Late fall can be mistaken for early spring or early winter.  But mid-winter, with its dark, laden clouds, grey days, grey and brown landscape, and heaps of snow, can not be mistaken for any other season.  It belongs to itself.  And snow belongs only to winter.

Yes, when I was a child I loved snow and winter.  I'm so many years older and colder now.  If only we could have snow without brutally cold weather like we've had this year....

This post is #15 in a series called "The Book of Me, Written by You," created by Julie Goucher of Anglers Rest.

The prompt for this post was "Snow!"


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Surname Saturday - Bickerstaff

This week a friend sent me the link to a post titled The Origins and Meanings of Ashkenazic Last Names at Jewish Currents.  The author, Bennett Muraskin, briefly reviews how and when Jews living in Eastern Europe were forced to take on last names.  The history surrounding that change was interesting to me but more interesting was his discussion of how those last names were chosen.  As I read through his list and examples I realized that at some time in the past every family who now has a surname had to choose or be given one.  After all, Adam and Eve and other early humans didn't have surnames.

Mr. Muraskin's list of how surnames were chosen is below, minus his examples (go to the post to read those)
A peaceful-looking shepherd --
probably not a Bickerstaff
  • patronymics (son of ....)
  • matronymics (daughter of ....)
  • place names
  • occupational names (craftsmen/workers; merchants; related to tailoring; medical; related to liquor trade; religious communal)
  • personal traits
  • insulting names
  • animal names
  • Hebrew names
  • Hebrew acronyms
  • other Hebrew- and Yiddish-derived names
  • invented "Fancy Shmancy" Names

While I was reading his list of names associated with personal traits I thought of my most interesting surname among those I've researched:


Now, can't you just imagine my quarrelsome, angry ancestor holding his shepherd's staff high, ready to take a quick swing at another shepherd as they argue over the ownership of a sheep standing between them?

But wait!  Let's see what other definitions there are of "bicker."  Dictionary.com tells me it also means  to run rapidly, move quickly, rush, hurry.  Webster's 1828 dictionary echoes these definitions.  Could my Bickerstaff ancestor have been a speedy runner in earnest to save his sheep from danger?

Chances are I'll never know, but it sure is fun to imagine the possibilities.

How about you?  What's your most interesting ancestor surname and its definition?  Do you know how the name was chosen?

Photo Credit:  Creative Commons via PhotoPin:  Waiting for the Word 

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