Thursday, December 11, 2014

Raymond Doyle, the Adopted Son

Every year at Christmas time I think of Raymond.  He comes to mind at other times of the year, too, of course, but always, always, at Christmas.  And this year he has been tugging at my thoughts more than usual.  I wrote about Raymond in another post (which I've learned, after a little more research, includes some misinformation) and decided that I need to find out more about him. 

I did not know Raymond's relationship to my father's family, only that he lived with them when he was a boy.  He appears with William and Tressa Doyle and their other children, Emma, Gust, and Hazel, only in the 1910 U.S. Census where his relationship to head of household is listed as "adopted son."  Because of my father's comment that Raymond lived with Dad's grandparents, I guessed the adoption was informal.

A search for Raymond in the 1940 U.S. Census found him living at the Polk State School for the Feeble-Minded in Polk, Pennsylvania, not at the Mercer County Home as I thought.  He was recorded as Raymond Doyle which leads me to believe there was a legal adoption. 

Raymond was born between 1904 and 1905.  I was told that Hazel, one of Raymond's adoptive sisters, thought he was a sweet baby and persuaded her parents, William and Tressa, to adopt him.  I don't know how old he was when adopted or who his birth parents were.

I don't know what happened in the Doyle family that caused Raymond to be living in Polk by 1920 when he was only 14 or 15 years old, but I have a few thoughts.  In 1910, William and Tressa's oldest daughter was already a widow with two young daughters, ages 4 and 2.  All three were living with William and Tressa.  In 1913 my father was born and and his mother died.  Tressa probably took on the care, or at least partial care, of my dad.  It's easy to imagine that the whole situation, the deaths of two spouses and the addition of three children to the family, could have been overwhelming to all involved.

I'd like to find adoption records for Raymond.  When I wrote to a clerk at the Mercer County Courthouse I learned that all adoption records are sealed.  This is my first experience with adoption and I did not realize that after more than 100 years they would still be sealed.  The clerk said I could contact one of the judges.  But which?  The one with the most tenure, the one with the least, or the other one?  Or might there be one judge responsible for adoption proceedings?

I do not know Raymond's death death but did not find a record for him in the Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906-1963, on Ancestry.  This leads me to believe that he probably died after 1963.  Would an obituary have been published for someone from the State School for the Feeble-Minded? 

Find-a-Grave reveals no grave marker for Raymond Doyle.  Perhaps he's buried in an unmarked grave, but where?  Which cemetery?  Neither is his information in the SSDI. 

Other search options are to contact the State School for the Feeble-Minded, now known as Polk State School.  Their records may provide a death death and burial location, if they have records and will/can give out the information.

Do you have any other thoughts on how to obtain more information Raymond?  I'd especially like to confirm that there was a legal adoption.



Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving Day, 2014, is nearly gone but I wanted to take a few minutes to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and to write some of my thoughts.

In my half asleep/half awake state the other morning my mind focused on Thanksgiving, and then it focused on some of the things and people and events for which I'm thankful.  It wandered both broad and deep, racing through past centuries then back to the present.

I'm thankful for the Mayflower travelers and the Pilgrims who celebrated the first Thanksgiving.  As far as I know I'm not a descendant of a Mayflower Pilgrim but nonetheless I'm thankful for their endurance through the hardships they faced and their willingness to leave all things known and travel into the unknown.  Without them, I might not be here. 

And then I thought of the early Patriots and soldiers, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the men and women who fought so bravely to create a free country.  I'm thankful for their courage to stand and fight, and sometimes die, for their beliefs.  Of course I'm grateful for all our service men and women who sacrifice and have sacrificed to preserve our nation's freedoms.

To my mind came Johannes Gutenberg, his printing press, books, the printed word in books, the virtually printed word, libraries, bookstores, and the ability to read and write.  How grateful for those blessings I am!

I'm grateful to my Savior, Jesus Christ, for living, for being an example, for being strong enough and committed enough to die so that we could have eternal life.

And what would I do without my ancestors?!  I wouldn't be here, of course.  I'm thankful to them for weathering the lean and difficult years, grateful to those who were strong and forward-thinking and to those who may have struggled to be strong.

I'm grateful to have living relatives.  My siblings and their spouses have become friends, as have my adult daughters.  All bring joy to my life.  I'm also grateful for friends both near and far.

I'm thankful to be alive on this wondrous and beautiful earth and to have lived through difficult times as well as easy times.  The easy times give me the strength to face the challenges; facing the challenges makes the other times easier.  And both give me a richer perspective and more understanding, patience, and desire to be grateful.

The list could go on for a very long time . . . .

I hope you, dear readers, have had a Happy Thanksgiving, rich with blessings, memories, and gratitude.


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dixon and Rebecca - Sunday's Obituaries

Dixon and Rebecca (Smith) Bartley are my great-great-grandparents.  Their daughter, Elvira, was my father's maternal grandmother.  Both died at their home in Bruin, Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.

Obituary of Rebecca (Smith) Bartley
The Butler Citizen, January 4, 1900
BARTLEY---At her home near Bruin,
    Friday, Dec. 29, 1899.  Mrs. Dixon
    Bartley, aged about 85 years.
    The interment was at Bear Creek
cemetery.  Her death makes the first
break in a trio of old couples living at
Bruin.  Harvey Gibson and wife, John
Daubenspeck and wife, and the Bartleys
lived on adjoining places, were all over
80 years of age and all had been married
over sixty years.

Obituary of Dixon Bartley
The Butler Citizen, April 26, 1900
BARTLEY---At his home in Parker
    twp.  April 22, 1900, Dixon Bartley,
    aged 95  years.

It's unfortunate that Rebecca's death notice does not state her first name or her maiden name.  If I were searching for her and knew only her maiden name and not her husband's name, this obituary would be of no use to me.  Thank goodness I found other sources that give her maiden name and information about hers and Dixon's marriage.

From other sources I know that Rebecca died of cancer.  Less than four months later, Dixon died of pneumonia.  It could be just me but I have to think that Dixon and Rebecca were really close.  My romantic self imagines that after his beloved wife Rebecca died, Dixon had little reason to keep going, to carry on. 


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Work, Lice, My Ancestors, and Me

I did not have much foresight when I was younger.  As my husband and I were preparing to leave for Peace Corps service, my father said, "What are you two doing?  You should be planning for retirement."  I was 28 at the time and retirement seemed in the long-distant future:  no need to think about it on the verge of a new adventure.  And off we went. 

When we returned home I worked for several organizations, both full-time and part-time for varying lengths of time, but none long enough to obtain enough retirement credits in either the public retirement system or in social security.  I'm now approaching retirement age with the need to earn five quarters (spread over at least two years) to quality for social security, the system with which I have the most amount of time.  Needless to say, I've been seeking employment this year to earn one of those quarters.

While job hunting I've seen some interesting job titles:  security engineer, web front end developer, benefits management practices consultant, animal husbandry supervisor.  Technology seems to be in the forefront.  I've seen some jobs with more old-fashioned, common names, too:  carpenter, salesman, accountant, nurse.  As I was browsing through the lists I began to think of the work titles my ancestors listed on census records:  farmer, carpenter, wagon maker, gardener, barber, to name a few.

Times have changed.  Life was simpler during the time of my ancestors.  Men farmed the land, owned mills, made shoes, herded sheep, cut hair, built buildings.  Women were housewives, homemakers, midwives, milliners, seamstresses, or, in more recent years, secretaries, clerks, or teachers.  Depending on which decade you consider, technology may have included new farm apparatus, sewing machines, typewriters, cement mixers, washing machines, electricity, or telephones.  What would my ancestors think of these jobs currently available online?  (I don't know what I think because I don't know what some of them mean.  What does a web front end developer do, anyway?)

The most interesting, or maybe most unusual or most surprising, job title I saw was this:

I did not click the link to learn more about this job.  My imagination went wild and I began scratching my head. 

I'm fairly certain that at some time in the lives of at least one of my ancestors, a mother had to deal with lice on the head of at least one of her children.  Could she possibly have imagined a person with the job title "head lice removal technician?"  What would she have thought of calling in a specialist to de-lice her child's head?  It boggles the brain.

I'll finish one quarter of work this year and will work next year to earn four quarters.  But no matter what other job I have to take, I will not be a head lice removal technician.


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 17, 2014

When Motivation Has Stalled . . .

. . . nothing does it like finding a new website to search.

Yesterday evening I was looking at photos posted on my hometown's Mineral Ridge Historical Society Facebook page.  As I scrolled through the entries I noticed that someone had posted a link to Niles newspapers.  Niles was the nearest larger town with a newspaper which covered news of the Ridge.  The Niles Daily Times, as it was known when I was a child and youth, was one of those newsy papers that told who ate dinner at whose home; who had guests from where; who visited out of town and where they went; etc.  When I went to the link I learned that the newspapers are online, are OCR searchable, and are free.

It was very fun to type in several family surnames and learn that my grandfather sent Christmas greetings to the patrons of his barber shop on the day before Christmas via an advertisement; that one of my aunts had major surgery on a Monday in 1955; that my grandmother advertised the sale of a kitchen cabinet and a porcelain sink; that my mother and my brother, her first baby, spent time in the home of her parents a few months after the baby was born; that my grandfather was installed as a Noble Grand in the local IOOF; and who my grandparents hosted for Christmas dinner in 1955.

The Niles Daily Times, November 28, 1958
And then there were the three of us siblings in the paper.  It's surprising that my mother, the great newspaper clipper, did not clip and save theses little gems.

The Niles Daily Times, August 2, 1958
The Niles Daily Times, August 2, 1958
I remember so many events from my childhood but usually don't remember when they happened.  It's interesting to learn from an old newspaper published online, the dates of those very events I remember.  I wonder what else I will find about my childhood and youth as I search this collection.

Obviously, the news articles I found are not about distant ancestors but, having found them after only a few minutes of research, they give me encouragement that I might find information about great- and great-great-grandparents in earlier issues of the Niles newspapers.

I had given up hope of  The Niles Daily Times ever being available online because it was such a small newspaper.  With sincere gratitude I thank the Niles McKinley Memorial Library.  Great job!


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thanking Veterans

Thank you, Veterans, for your willingness
to step forward to serve America and Americans.  Thank you for sacrificing your personal goals and  time with your family to serve in the armed forces.

Thank you for keeping America free -- and for so much more.  Those two words, thank you, just never seem enough for such enormous generosity.

My gratitude goes to those who are living and those who have served in years and ages past.  You are heroes and we are in your debt.


Monday, November 3, 2014

A Puzzle:  Could Ernst Be Henry?

I'm pulling out a puzzle that's been at rest for a few years.  It came to mind after reading posts on The German-American Genealogist Blog and writing a list of my German-American ancestors

My great-grandfather Henry Carl Meinzen's history seems shrouded, elusive.  I jokingly say he doesn't want people to know about his past before he came to America.  When he arrived here at the age of 28, it's possible that he was a widow.  He could have served an apprenticeship.  Maybe he had served in the army.  And there are any number of other possibilities.  I know nothing about his life before he arrived in Ohio.

When the passenger information below surfaced, I began to wonder if Henry chose to be called by a different name when he arrived in the U.S.  As far as I know, proof of identity was not required in 1866.  And there is the challenge of German multiple given names.

Various U.S. records and documents tell me that Henry Carl Meinzen
  • was born in Hanover/Prussia on July 25, 1837.
  • came to America in 1866. 
  • was a carpenter, among other things.
  • lived in Ohio from October, 1867, until his death in 1925.

I have been unable to find immigration documents or transcriptions of documents for Henry Carl Meinzen.  But I found this for Ernst Meinzen:

Could Henry and Ernst be the same person?
  • Henry would have been 28 in 1866.  Ernst was 28.
  • Henry immigrated in 1866.  Ernst arrived in 1866.
  • Henry was from Germany.  Ernst was from Germany.
  • Henry was a carpenter.  Ernst was a carpenter.
  • Henry lived in Ohio.  Ernst's destination was Ohio.

This is obviously a transcription and it could be wrong.  If it's correct, it seems too coincidental that everything but the first name matches.  (I think I've seen a scan of the ship's manifest but was too new to family history to make a copy or to record the names of other passengers.)  Of course I won’t assume they are the same person.  But still, I wonder about it even as I continue to search for more information about Henry Carl Meinzen.

Do any of you readers have any thoughts about how to solve this puzzle?  If so, please share.  Do you have experiences with first name changes like these?  Have you made a connection between a known ancestor and an uncertain name?  If so, how did you find the connection?

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.  I appreciate it.


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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