Sunday, August 2, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

From Luxury to Necessity

While without a computer for the past several weeks I devoted my time to -- what else? -- non-computer activities.  I had no internet access, no ability to type letters, and was unable to add information to my genealogy computer program.  I felt disconnected except for my cell phone and occasional trips to the library where I was able to use one of their computers for a brief time.

During those weeks my mind often drifted to family history and my ancestors.  I mused on how accustomed I had become to having a computer with internet service and how I take for granted the many resources I have at my fingertips.  I thought about other inventions that have become standard in most American homes.  I don't give a thought to running water, electricity and all the machines it operates including electric lights, until the pipes break, the power fails, or the equipment breaks.  This little rhyme by an unknown author came to mind:
There, there, Little Luxury, don't you cry.
You'll be a necessity by and by.

I began to think about the inventions that were welcomed into homes as luxuries but soon became necessities. 

I'm sure my ancestors in the 19th century used water from a well, a cistern, and perhaps from a stream, because indoor plumbing was either not known or not available.  The hand pump at the back door and the outhouse a distance away were common sights.  My parents and grandparents all awaited the arrival of indoor toilets.  These days we consider indoor plumbing with running water and flushing toilets nothing less than necessities.

Before the advent of electricity in homes the darkness was kept at bay by candles and gas lights.  Heat came from fires or coal furnaces.  People used hand-powered washers, crank wringers, and clotheslines and clothespins to dry clothes.  Instead of vacuums, people swept floors and carpets with brooms and brushes.  Toasters stood bread against wood-burning stoves to brown.  Refrigerators were cooled by ice collected from lakes in the winter and stored for summer use, or people used spring houses.  Freezers did not exist.  Neither did microwave ovens.  Before electricity entertainment included someone playing a piano or other instrument.  Then came hand-crank Victrolas.  With electricity people could listen to radios, watch television, and play tapes or CDs. 

Before there were smart phones, there were cell phones, car phones, and home land-line phones connected by wires.  What did my ancestors think when they first used a telephone?  Surely it must have been strange to hear the voice of a loved one from miles away.  Now we take cell phones and smart phones without permanent wires for granted.  And they do so much more than let us speak to another who is miles away. 

Before there were computers there were manual-powered typewriters which required strong fingers for evenly dark letters on a page, at least until electric typewriters were invented.  Before typewriters people wrote letters and postcards by hand with ink or pencil, added postage stamps, and dropped them into a mailbox or handed them to a post office employee.  To some extent, computers have replaced file cabinets.  We were members of a recycling organization where companies donated items they would no longer use.  Paper and metal filing supplies inundated the center, free for the taking to members who were still attached to paper products.

There are many modern inventions that have become expected pieces of equipment in our home.  When they break and can't be repaired, we buy new ones because we wouldn't know what to do without them, or at least we can't imagine living without them.  If I made a list it would be pages long.

What about you and your ancestors?  What inventions have become necessities in your life?  Are there conveniences you'd give up that have not become necessities?  What inventions became necessities in the lives of your ancestors? 


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

We Interrupt This Blog . . .

I am sad to report that recent planned blog posts have been interrupted by circumstances beyond my control.  They include, but are not limited to, a dead computer and shipping problems with a newly purchased computer. 

When my new computer arrives -- if it ever does! -- I plan to resume research and regular posts.

Thanks for your patience.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Copperweld Steel Mill - Workday Wednesday

My father, Lee Doyle, had a long association with the Warren location of the Copperweld Steel Company.  He began working there between 1940 and 1941 and retired in 1974.  In this first in a brief series of posts about Dad and Copperweld, you can read about the opening of the Warren plant in 1939.  With the war in Europe expanding, it was great timing for the company to increase its operations, although its owners had no way of knowing that the U.S. would be drawn into that war less than two years later.

Copperweld Steel of Glassport, Pa, announced in a Vindicator article on September 14, 1939, that it had planned to erect a new mill in Glassport but last minute changes indicated that it would be built in an undisclosed location in Ohio.  It was the first new mill since the outbreak of the war in Europe.  (From the article it's unclear whether it's the first new steel mill in the U.S. or the state, or by some other criteria.)

Then, the construction of a steel mill in Warren, Ohio, was announced on the front page of the September 27, 1939, issue of The Youngstown Vindicator.  Like it's parent company, Copperweld Steel Company of Glassport, Pennsylvania, the new mill would also be called Copperweld Steel.  It was to sit on 423 acres on N. Mahoning Avenue, Ext., where five buildings, one a fifth of a mile long, were to be constructed.  Of the 700 men it was to employ, 90% of them would be local men.

The Vindicator reported,
$2,000,000 Mill Will Employ 700 Men Next Spring
     Copperweld Steel manufactures copper-covered steel wire, rods and related products, used principally in the electric field.  A molten welding process is used to unite a thick jacket of copper with a heated steel billet.  The welded billet is rolled into rods which are drawn into wire, the proportion of copper to the steel core being the same whether in rods or in the finest wire....
     Copperweld will make its own steel here.  Two 35-ton electric furnaces with an annual capacity of 100,000 tons have been ordered for delivery within 90 days.  Rolling capacity of 250,000 tons annually is planned.
     The three buildings on the property, on 71x526 feet and the others 40x264 feet will be used.  Present buildings have 49,776 square feet of floor space while the proposed five new ones will provide a total of 263,676 square feet.
Copperweld was expected to be fully operational by March, 1940.

The 1940 U.S. Census, taken April 1 of that year, indicates that my father was working as a fire man at a sheet steel mill in Niles, Ohio.  My brother remembers that he was working at the Niles Rolling Mill.

 My father was likely not one of the very first employees of the Copperweld Steel Mill in Warren, but he probably began work there within a year or two of its opening.

More about my father and Copperweld Steel to follow.


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

If You Could Spend an Afternoon With an Ancestor....

I'm imagining time with an ancestor again.  In my last conversation with an ancestor I didn't mention in my post that I would ask about her parents and family.  I wouldn't want my ancestor to think I wasn't interested in him or her personally or that I was only interested in talking with him or her for the purpose of obtaining genealogical information.  I would certainly have included questions about family -- parents, siblings, ancestors -- in our visit, but only after my ancestor and I had developed a rapport and become comfortable with each other.

Today I'm imagining time with one of my British-born ancestors, one who is just three generations away from me, my great-grandfather, William Doyle.  He came to America as an 8-year-old boy with two younger siblings and his mother.  His father had immigrated to America the previous year.  All of his grandchildren called him Pap.

I would choose a spring or autumn afternoon for this visit.

I would like to know...
  • if he worked in the mines even as an 8-year-old.  Family legend says he did.  If so, I would like to know what he did and how he felt about it.
  • if he was able to attend school while he lived in England and what it was like, if he did.
  • that he remembers about preparing to come to America, the trip across the ocean, landing in America, and travelling from New York to Pennsylvania.
  • what happened that he decided to keep a mustache his whole life.  (Again, family legend says there was an accident that caused scarring.)  What was the accident and how did it happen?
  • how he met his wife, Tressa Froman.  Maybe he would tell me some courtship stories.  Maybe he could tell me where his father-in-law is buried!
  • if he remembers his grandparents on either side of his family, if he lived near them, and whether he saw them often.  I hope he would share specific memories.

With an afternoon to spend with him, I would ask him to show me around the farm in Stoneboro.  I would ask what life was like for him as a boy on the farm and what school was like.  I would want to know about his childhood friends.  I hope he would talk about growing and selling strawberries, determining where to dig a coal mine, and share any special memories of his parents and/or his children.

I'm sure his answers to my questions would prompt more questions and the afternoon would pass all too quickly.  I fully expect to be able to talk to Pap when I pass through the veil from life to death.

I welcome your thoughts about questions you'd ask your own ancestor.  If some of you would like to write a post and leave a link in a comment I'll compile your responses in a blog post next Sunday or Monday.  (Feel free to use this image or the one in the previous post at the link above.)

Happy visiting with your ancestor.


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

When New is Old - Shopping Saturday

In recent years I've heard Kroger's advertising incentive, "Let's Go Krogering."  I thought it was new.  Not so.  When searching the August 14, 1958, edition of The Youngstown Vindicator online I noticed a Kroger ad.  And there, in the middle of the page, was the suggestion, "Let's Go Krogering."  Who knew!

The ad suggests to me that the 1950's were the days before prepared foods had become so popular.  Days when people usually used real, unadulterated food and made meals from scratch.  Oh, yum!

If only we could return to 1958 prices (without returning to 1958 incomes). 

White potatoes    25 lb. bag  79¢
Peaches    4 lbs.  49¢
Blueberries    pt. box  29¢

Ground Beef   lb. 49¢
Tenderay Round Steak   lb. 89¢
Tenderay Sirloin Steak   lb 89¢
Tenderay Porterhouse Steak   lb. 99¢
Tenderay Chuck Steaks   lb. 69¢

Campbell's Soup, your choice   6 for 99¢
   Cream of Mushroom
   Cream of Chicken
   Chicken w ith Rice
   Chicken Noodle
   Turkey Noodle
Vegetarian Soup   8 for 98¢

I guess there were some prepared foods available.  (In our family we most always cooked from scratch except for an occasional box cake.)
   Banquet Frozen Dinners   2 for $1
   Ballard or Pillsbury Biscuits  pkg. 10¢
   Macaroni and Cheese  6 for 88¢
   Peach Pie   49¢
   Grape Juice  5 for 88¢
   Spaghetti   4 for 89¢

More "real food."
Swiss Cheese   lb. 49¢
Sharp Cheese  lb. 59¢
Fresh Eggs, Grade A Small  doz. 41¢
Fresh Eggs, Grade A Medium  doz. 53¢

I don't remember a Kroger in the Niles/Youngstown area when I was growing up.  In fact, I don't remember when I first encountered a Kroger store.  These days they are prevalent primarily in Ohio and neighboring states.

This post was prompted by a pattern my grandmother cut from a newspaper which my aunt gave me.  There are some ads for cleaning supplies but since the date was cut away with the cutting of the pattern, I decided not to scan and post it.  The ad also has coupons for Top Value Stamps with the purchase of various items.  Businesses don't give stamps these days but so many stores have scannable customer cards which, if a customer registers and uses the cards, may offer them points for later use or discounts at the register.  Of course, it's a way for the store to track the spending habits of people who use the cards:  more invasive than those old paper stamps we licked and pasted into books to turn in.

I often stop by Kroger to pick up a few items these days but it's not my primary store for groceries.  What about you?  Do you go Krogering?


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Memories of My Father and Me for Father's Day

My aunt remembers that my father, Lee Doyle, had a great sense of humor.  It was probably true when he was younger, with fewer responsibilities and cares, but by the time I knew my father he was a serious, purposeful man.  Below are a few memories of time spent with him.

In the Ridge there was a gas station called Smitty's where my father often purchased gas.  When I was perhaps 4 or 5 I would occasionally ride with Dad to get the car filled with gas.  He pulled up beside the pump which was under an awning that extended from the little building.  The attendant or owner came down the steps and out to the car to pump the gas, wash the windows, and check the oil.  I waited in the car while Dad went inside to pay.  When Dad came back to the car he had two little bags of roasted, salted peanuts (but smaller that the current-day Lance or Planters brands).  The memory ends there but I suppose we sat in the car and ate them.

Dad was a handyman, fix-it, tinkerer father.  He could and did fix just about anything and everything.  I remember "helping" him on projects in which he taught me how to hold the nails to hand to him -- by the narrow, sharp end, so that I was handing him the head.  Taking the nail by the head, he could place it and pound it without the need to reposition it in his fingers.  What did he build?  I have no recollection.  But somehow this activity taught me that when helping another I need to be observant about what will be most helpful.

Ironically, in the photo above, my father has his hands on the shoulders of my cousin and my sister has her hand on my shoulder.  I wonder what had been happening before this photo was taken:  my cousin and are in dresses, not the normal playwear of those days, and my brother and sister are in play/work clothes.  It's hard to tell but my mom looks like she could be wearing clothes she would wear out.  Oh, to have little details about old photographs!

Happy Father's Day, Dad!


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Copyright Infringement or Common Occurence?

Two days ago someone came to my blog from an link (which you may or may not be able to see without an Ancestry account).   I wondered how My Ancestors and Me happened to appear at Ancestry since I don't have a tree there.  I clicked the link to go to the Ancestry page and was surprised by what I found.

There I saw photographs of Dixon Bartley's home and Dixon's will (that I had photographed from microfilm at a Family History Center) which had been copied from my blog.  There was also an image of a newspaper clipping that I had scanned and posted (but which the owner of this tree could and may have requested, scanned, and uploaded herself).

In addition to the images, there were several posts from My Ancestors and Me which had been copied word for word and pasted into the stories area of this individual's tree.  Granted, there were links to the individual posts somewhere on the pages but there was no other mention of how the images and words had been obtained, who had written them, or that permission to copy and paste them had been obtained.

The owner of this tree has never contacted me.  She has never left a comment on any of the posts she copied, nor has she emailed me directly.

This feels like a violation of copyright to me.  I sent a message to her through the Ancestry contact information telling her that, asking that she remove my content, and requesting that she contact me.  She has not yet responded.

When I was looking at her pages again this evening I noticed a link to's Terms and Conditions.  (Click through if you want to read the whole section about user provided content.)  There were several parts that stood out to me.

Ancestry states that they host and provide access but are not responsible for the accuracy of the user provided content.  The company doesn't monitor or preview user provided content but may use automated filtering tools (which seem to focus particularly on obscene content) and reserves the right to remove content.  The company states it is sensitive to copyright and intellectual property rights of others.

Directly from the terms and conditions:
The decision to upload or share User Provided Content on the Websites is your responsibility and you should only submit or share User Provided Content that belongs to you (or where you have obtained all necessary permissions or consents) and that will not violate the rights of others. Be aware that copyright and other intellectual property rights will normally belong to the creator of the material in question and you should not reproduce or submit anything without permission of the owner. By submitting User Provided Content to any of the Websites, you represent and warrant that you have the right to do so or that you have obtained any necessary third party consents....
Additionally, the terms and conditions state,
By submitting User Provided Content on any of the Websites, you grant Ancestry and its Group Companies a perpetual, transferable, sublicenseable, worldwide, royalty-free, license to host, store, copy, publish, distribute, provide access to create derivative works of, and otherwise use User Provided Content submitted by you to the Websites, to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered.
Does this mean that because someone else copied and posted my work to Ancestry, it now belongs to Ancestry?

I'm interested in interacting and cooperating with other descendants of my ancestors who are researching the same individuals and families.  And I'm obviously interested in sharing my research or I wouldn't have a blog.  But seeing what I've written copied word for word and posted elsewhere on the internet without my knowledge or permission feels like a violation.  It's causing me to reconsider blogging about my ancestors.

Is this a copyright violation or am I just being too sensitive?  Is this how the genealogy community does things and I'm just unaware of how it works?  Is this something that generally happens and writers/photographers ignore it?  Or is it a violation of my copyright?

If you've had a similar experience please share and tell me what you did, if anything, and what the outcome was.  Thank you.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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