Thursday, December 1, 2016

December Birthdays & Anniversaries

I think December would have been a hard month to have a newborn baby in the house, especially in the 1800s and early 1900s.  Christmases past may not have been as busy and hectic as they are now but keeping a baby warm in winter's cold and washing and drying diapers couldn't have been easy.

Of the individuals below, Emma Doyle (born 1886) and Hazel Doyle were sisters and Gust Doyle was their brother.  Tressa Hazel Doyle was Gust Doyle's daughter.  It was a busy month for the Doyles!

Living Relatives
December 25   Marty A.
December   4   Donald E. Davis

Direct Ancestors
December 19, 1911   Gust Doyle and Beulah Mae Gerner (my paternal grandparents)

Among My Collateral Lines
December   2, 1884   Emma Doyle
December   4, 1862   Susan Bickerstaff
December   6, 1924   William "Billy Joe" Gerner
December   9, 1891   Hazel Doyle
December 11, 1839   Eli Porter
December 12, 1900   Minnie Froman
December 15, 1875   Laura V. Thompson
December 15, 1893   Jacob Increase Meinzen
December 18, 1921   Tressa Hazel Doyle
December 19, 1872   John George Armitage
December 22, 1832   (Westley?) Scott Roe
December 24, 1871   Thomas Hardy and Ann Armitage
December 24, 1915   John Ellis Bickerstaff and Alice May Bickerstaff
December 25, 1886   Emma Doyle
December 25, 1888   William Turner and Catherine Froman
December 26, 1911   Charles Edward Sticker and Lula Bernesa Meinzen
December 27, 1896   Henry Carl Meinzen and Ella Dray
December 27, 1927   Pauline Mary (Polly) Meinzen
December 30, 1864   Elizabeth Jane Doyle

I'm offering warmest wishes to these relatives and ancestors on their special days.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Preparing for Christmas, Lighting the World

This post is a slight detour from my usual family history posts.  Please bear with me (or ignore if not interested).  I'll get back to regular posts tomorrow.

December is a busy month for those who celebrate Christmas  It's also a time when most people are more generous, kind, and thoughtful than usual.  This year our church is offering the theme "Light the World" and suggesting 25 ways over 25 days that we can follow in the footsteps of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and thoughtfully incorporate His example into our daily activities from now until Christmas Day.  I'm thinking of this as a service Advent calendar.  I hope you'll watch this beautiful inspirational video for a brief introduction.

Each day has a theme based on some action or teaching of the Savior accompanied by suggestions/ideas for service activities which follow His teachings.  There is a clickable "calendar" here.  When you click the date you'll see brief video and specific suggestions for the theme of the day.  You can also download an advent calendar of "In 25 ways. Over 25 Days" here.

These are the themes.  Click the date to see a brief video and ideas for giving service on that date.
December  1 -  Lift others’ burdens.
December  2 -  Honor your parents.
December  3 -  Help the blind.
December  4 -  Worship.
December  5 -  Serve the sick.
December  6 -  Read scripture.
December  7 -  Feed the hungry.
December  8 -  Pray for others.
December  9 -  Visit the lonely.
December 10 -  Help the disabled.
December 11 -  Serve children.
December 12 -  Teach others.
December 13 -  Show humility.
December 14  - Clothe the needy.
December 15 -  Worship through music.
December 16 -  Show compassion.
December 17 -  Care for your mother.
December 18 -  Honor the Sabbath.
December 19 -  “Calm the storm.”
December 20 -  See potential in others.
December 21 -  Forgive others.
December 22 -  Show gratitude.
December 23 -  Be a peacemaker.
December 24 -  Care for your loved ones.
December 25 -  Follow the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Isn't this a wonderful way to emulate the Savior and keep Him in mind during this Christmas season?!  I hope you'll join me. 



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

I wish you a rich bounty of blessings during this season of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Child #3:  Henry Kropp

Henry Kropp is the third known child of Carl and Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp.  Sophia may be the sister of my great-grandfather, Henry Carl Meinzen.

When one finds a death certificate with a death date as recent as 1915 one would think finding an obituary in a city with several contemporary newspapers would be easy.  Had it been death from an illness or old age, it might have been easy.  But this was an accidental death by fire.  Still, one would think there would be an obituary that would recount dates of birth, marriage, death; give the names of wife, children, parents; and, hopefully, name the best qualities of the deceased.  But not so for Henry Kropp.   But to be honest, by the time I found the last article, the one at the end of this post, I had no desire to search further.  Below is Henry's death certificate and four news articles.

Henry's death certificate gives the following information.  (As always, you can click on any image to enlarge it.)

Sex:  Male
Race:  White
Marital status:  Married
Date of Birth:  December 24, 1869
Occupation:  Gardener
Birthplace:  Germany
Father:  Carl Kropp, born Germany
Mother:  Sophia "Don't Know", born Germany
Informant:  Mrs. H. Kropp, Steubenville, Ohio
Date of Death:  December 20, 1915
Cause of Death:  "He came to his death from burns.  Accidental."
Signed:  William G. Herb, [Jefferson County] Cor[oner]

With microfilm roll numbers in hand I headed to the Ohio State Archives at the Ohio History Center to search for an obituary in several contemporary Steubenville, Ohio, newspapers.  Below are the articles I found in the order I found them -- which is not chronological to the events.

First I searched The Steubenville Weekly Herald beginning December 20, 1915.  It wasn't until I reached page 8 of the January 27, 1916, issue that I found Henry's name in a tiny article, "Coroner's Inquests."
Coroner's Inquests.
     Coroner Herb has rendered the following verdicts of recent deaths:  Henry Kropp met death Dec. 20, 1915 from burns sustained in a fire....

On page 10 of the same issue I found another article about Henry.
Mrs. Henry Kropp, Believing Them
to be Her Husband's Remains,
Gives them Interment.
   Mrs. Henry Kropp, of West Mar-
ket street, has at last come to the
decision that the box full of charred
bones which were found in the ruins
of the fire that destroyed the Wig-
gington storage house are the remains
of her husband, who has been miss-
ing for the past two months, and to-
day claimed them as such.  The
bones, which have been held at Met-
tenberger's morgue by Coroner Herb,
were turned over to the widow and
she had them buried in the family lot
in the Union cemetery this afternoon.
   Mrs. Kropp's action in finally ac-
cepting the remains as those of her
husband clears up as far as the au-
thorities are concerned one of the
most perplexing mysteries in the
history of the city.  The authorities
have been convinced for some time
that Kropp was the man who per-
ished in the big fire on the Wigging-
ton place and produced conclusive
evidence to his widow who however
was loath to believe that her husband
was dead and wished to wait for
further developments before claim-
ing the remains.  Her failure to hear
anything from the missing man cou-
pled with the evidence gathered by
the Coroner, finally convinced her.

I searched that newspaper further but did not find an obituary.  I next moved to the Steubenville Weekly Gazette.  Speeding through the microfilm roll, by happenstance I stopped on Thursday, December 16, 1915, and found the following article on page 3.
   Fire of unknown origin Friday
night damaged the home of Henry
Kropp, located on the West Market
street road, just beyond the city lim-
its, to the extent of $2,000.  The
members of the family had no diffi-
culty in getting to safety, but the
greater part of the household goods
were destroyed.
   Investigation by the Steubenville
fire department, which was called to
the scene, indicates that the blaze
started from the outside and may
have been of incendiary origin.  The
house is constructed partly of brick
and partly of frame.  The blaze start-
ed in the rear, which was built of
wood.  The fire spread rapidly and
the house was a mass of flames when
the fire department arrived on the
scene.  That the house was not com-
pletely destroyed was due to the good
work of the department.

The last article I found was on page 5 of the Thursday, December 30, 1915, issue of Steubenville Weekly Gazette.
   The badly charred body of a man
supposed to be that of Henry Kropp,
the well known West Market street
gardner [sic], was found in the debris of
the fire-gutted ice house and slaught-
er house on the Wigginton farm
shortly after noon Monday by Edward
Wigginton, who was engaged in
cleaning up the place after the recent
fire.  The authorities were led to be-
lieve that the body is that of Kropp
by the finding of cuff buttons and a
watch identified as those belonging
to Kropp.
   The mystery of the burning of the
Kropp home two weeks ago, and one
week later the Wigginton slaughter
house has been puzzling the authori-
ties.  The Kropp home is said to
have been set on fire from the out-
side.  It was destroyed.  Kropp, who
had been abusing his family, was
thought to have committed the crime.
He disappeared after the fire, but was
seen later several times in the vicin-
ity.  The Wigginton family, it is said,
cared for his family after the home
was destroyed, and it is also said that
Kropp had words with the Wiggin-
tons over the matter, and Kropp
again disappeared.  On Dec. 17, the
Wigginton slaughter house and ice
house was almost totally destroyed by
fire.  A man was seen running from
the fire that night, but the authorities
have been unable to make any head-
way in that direction.
   Wigginton, upon finding the body,
at once notified the county authori-
ties, who notified Coroner Herb, and
an investigation was started at once.
While no statement was made offi-
cially, it is said that the body is that
of Kropp.  Kropp, it is said, worked
for the Wiggintons.
   Mrs. Kropp, when called in an at-
tempt to identify the watch, ring
and cuff buttons, stated that while
Kropp had the above articles, she
could not identify them because of
ttheir [sic] badly burned condition.  The
authorities in investigating the af-
fair could find only a few bones scat-
tered about.  It is said that the bones
scattered when the loft in which the
man is thought to have been hiding
caved in.
   A man who knows Kropp, said
Monday afternoon that he saw Kropp
Monday morning in this city.

Thoughts, Comments, Observations
I love family history research but a little less so when I find a gruesome story like this.

Finding news articles out of sequence and with somewhat conflicting information make it challenging to put the story together coherently, especially when each article presents only small parts of the whole story.  Whenever I find a newspaper article I always wonder how much of it is true and how much is hearsay, opinion, rumor, and/or gossip.

Brief chronology of events based on information in news articles
  • Friday, December 10:  The Kropp home was damaged by fire.  The house was not completely destroyed but there was $2000.00's worth of damage.  The fire may have been set with the intention of damage.
  • Friday, December 17:  Wigginton slaughter house and ice house were burned. 
  • Monday, December 27:  Wigginton found body of man while cleaning up after fire in slaughter house and ice house.
  • Thursday, January 27:   Coroner ruled Henry Kropp died Monday, December 20, from burns.  (Date of ruling not noted.)
  • Thursday, January 27:  Mrs. Kropp had bones of her husband buried at Union Cemetery.

There are more details in the articles and possibly more articles to be found but I don't feel the need to spend more time discovering and organizing those details.  Henry Kropp is a possible collateral relative and I doubt that further research will produce the information I originally hoped to find in his obituary:  his mother's maiden surname.

A house fire is one of those catastrophes one hopes never to experience.  It's sad the fire happened at all but worse that it occurred just before Christmas, leaving Katherine/Katie (Spahn) Kropp a widow so suddenly (and with uncertainty during the first days and weeks) and in such a horrific way.  Even sadder is the possibility that her husband set the fire.  I do not know if there were children in the family. 

This is the end of my research on Henry W. Kropp (unless I feel a strong tug to find more about his wife and children).


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Child #2:  William Henry Kropp

William Henry Kropp is the second known child of Carl and Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp.  Sophia may be my great-grandfather Henry Carl Meinzen's sister. 

I've found two sources for William Henry's death.  The first is his Ohio Death Certificate and the second his obituary. 

Extracted information from Henry's Ohio Death Certificate:

Name:  William Henry Kropp
Location of death:  Island Creek, R.D. #4, Steubenville Township, Jefferson County, Ohio
Time in area:  65 years
Male, white, single
Birth date:  October 9, 1866
Age:  78 years, 11 months, 16 days
Birth location:  Germany
Occupation:  Retired farmer
Father's Name:  Carl Kropp, born Germany
Mother's Name:  Sophia Meinsen, born Germany
Informant:  John C. Kropp, R.D. #4, Steubenville, Ohio
Burial:  September 28, 1945, Union Cemetery
Date of death:  September 25, 1945
Cause of Death:  Cerebral hemorrhage, 12 days' duration, due to arteriosclerosis
Physician:  J. E. Gamble, M.D.

William's obituary was published in The [Steubenville] Herald-Star on Wednesday, September 26, 1945.
William H. Kropp
   Summoned by Death
   William Henry Kropp, 78, died
at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the home
of John Kropp, Steubenville R.
D. 1.
   He was born October 9, 1866 in
Germany and had resided in the
Steubenville vicinity 65 years.  He
had been active in farming until
the last two years.  He was a
member of Zion Evangelical
Lutheran church and was well
known in the district where his
death will be a matter of regret
to friends and relatives.
   Surviving are two sisters, Mrs.
Minnie Schuette and Mrs. John
Spahn, both of Steubenville.
   Friends may call at the Mc-
Clave funeral home.

If William Henry had been in Steubenville for 65 years (as both of these sources state) and died at the age of 78, he would have immigrated to the U.S. in about 1879 at about the age of 13.  William's name was not on the passenger list with his parents and younger sister, Sophie, when they arrived in the U.S. in 1887.  I have not yet searched immigration records nor census records to provide more detail about his life.

While I generally like to fully research ancestors, I hesitate to spend too much time on Sophia's children since they are collateral ancestors.  My only hope in researching further is that I might find where in Germany he and his siblings were born which might, in turn, lead me to some record that connects Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp to my grandfather Henry Carl Meinzen.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved. .

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Henry Kropp & Katherine Spahn - Wedding Wednesday

Henry W. Kropp is the son of Carl and Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp.  Sophia may be my great-grandfather Henry Meinzen's sister.

Henry and Katie's marriage was recorded in Jefferson County, Ohio, Probate Court, Marriage Records Volume 19, 1905-1906, page 207.  The image is available on FamilySearch.

The State of Ohio,     }
Jefferson County, SS. } In Probate Court.
     Personally appeared Henry W. Kropp and made application
for a marriage license, and being duly sworn, says that he
is 36 years of age, a resident of Steubenville, County of Jefferson,
and State of Ohio; his place of birth is Germany;
his occupation is Gardener[;]
his father's name is Carl Kropp; his mother's maiden name was
Sophia Meinsen; that he was--not--previously married    ----  
That Miss Katie Spahn is 25 years of age, a resident of
Steubenville, in this county, her place of birth is Germany;
her father's name is John Spahn;
her mother's maiden name was Anna Zirkel; that she was--not--previously
married.  That they are not nearer of
kin than second cousins, and that there is no legal impediment to their marriage.
     That Rev. Shear is expected to solemnize the marriage ceremony.
Henry W. Kropp [signature]
     Sworn to and subscribed in my presence, this 22 day of November 1905
Frank H. Kerr  Judge.

No. 29615
The State of Ohio, Jefferson County, SS:
     I Hereby Certify, That on the 22nd day of November 1905
Mr. Henry W. Kropp and Miss Katie Spahn
were legally joined in Marriage by me, a Clergyman at Steubenville County of Jefferson,
and State of Ohio.
Cristel Shaer [signature]

A marriage announcement appeared in The Steubenville Herald-Star on Thursday, November 23, 1905.
   At the parsonage of the Zion’s Luth-
eran church Wednesday afternoon at
4 o’clock occurred the marriage of
Miss Katherine Spahn to Mr. Henry
Kropp.  The ceremony was performed
by the Rev. Schaer in the presence of
only the attendants who were John
Spahn, brother of the bride, as best
man and Mrs. Minnie Schutte as ma-
tron of honor.  Mr. Kropp is a well-
known and prosperous young farmer
and dairyman on the Market street
road.  The bride is a popular young
lady who has been making her home
with her brother John Spahn, the well
known dairyman.  After a short wed-
ding trip Mr. And Mrs. Kropp will
make their home on the farm.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hints for Searching Obituaries and Death Information in Newspapers - Tuesday's Tip

Observations from searching a 1915 newspaper on microfilm last week:
  • Obituaries in old newspapers may be under the title, "Death Call,"  "Death Roll," "Obituary," "Obituaries," or a variety of other names.
  • All of the above titles may be used in the same issue of the newspaper.
  • Obituaries may all be on the same page under one title, or
  • Obituaries may be in groups on several different pages throughout the newspaper.  This means that just because you found half a page of obituaries on page 4 (and your ancestor wasn't among them) doesn't necessarily mean you won't find more on page 7.
  • They may be published in varying sizes of print.  Reading the fine print on old newspapers on microfilm can be tedious but one doesn't want to miss anything.
  • Obituaries may be published as separate news articles without identifying them as such.  
  • Look for an obituary in all newspapers published in that location.  If the town has three different newspapers, search all of them.  If one newspaper didn't publish an obituary, one or two of the others may have.   And all newspapers may not have published identical obituaries.  The information omitted from one newspaper may be included in another.
  • Search through at least a month's publications after the death date.
  • If the person for whom you're searching died in an accident, search newspapers published before the death for information about the accident.
  • If the cause of death was other than illness or old age there may be a "Coroner's Inquests" or "Coroner's Report" in the newspaper which may list deaths in which a coroner ruled a cause of death.

Wishing you successful searches.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

A Tiny Tip about Female Ancestors - Tuesday's Tips

When searching for a female ancestor remember to look for her with one of her daughters.  In years gone by daughters took care of their aging mothers in their homes.  More than a few times I've found female ancestors living with their daughters during the last days, months, and/or years of their lives.

You'll need to find the daughters' names and marriage records in order to find their married surnames but it may be worth the effort if you have an elusive female ancestor.

Wishing you successful searches.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thanking Veterans

With a grateful heart I thank not only the veterans in my family but all veterans.  Without their service our lives would be much different.

I sometimes wonder if the burden of soldiers in and returning from active duty is greater than we realize.  They sacrifice time away from family, friends, and regular civilian life.  They return with images of war and loss burned into memory.  And sometimes they live the rest of their lives with mental and physical losses and/or medical challenges.  The words "thank you" seem so little for the gifts and sacrifices our veterans give us.

In past years I've highlighted the very few direct ancestors who served and returned from wars.  Today I was thinking more broadly and realized that many family members have served in the armed forces.  In no particular order, they are
  • Ellis Bickerstaff
  • Augustine Bickerstaff
  • Enos Bickerstaff
  • Andrew Bickerstaff
  • Edward Bickerstaff
  • Richard E. Davis
  • William Dray
  • Darlene Todd
  • David Dray

Thank you to these family members and to all who serve now and have served.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

My Grandmothers Eligible to Vote in Their First Presidential Election, 1920

In three more years we'll be celebrating the centennial of the women's right to vote in  presidential elections.  But this presidential election year seems as good as any to make note of which female ancestors first voted in the 1920 presidential election, their ages, and where they were living at the time.

In 1920 the candidates for president were Republicans Warren G. Harding for president and his running mate, Calvin Coolidge, for vice president; and Democrat James M. Cox for president and Franklin D. Roosevelt for vice president.

The November 1 issue of The Youngstown Vindicator published a sample ballot.  (Election Day was November 2 in 1920.)  I don't know if its intended use was to educate people on the candidates and issues or for people to mark and take to the polls with them.  (I think it's interesting that the Democratic symbol was a rooster and the Republican symbol was an eagle.)

My grandmothers who cast votes in their first presidential election:
  • Emma Meinzen Bickerstaff was 27 years old.  She lived in Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio.  She had 2 children, ages 5 and 2.
  • Mary Thompson Bickerstaff was 48 years old.  She lived in Mineral Ridge, Austintown Township, Mahoning County, Ohio.  She had several daughters who would have been eligible to vote also.
  • Lydia Bell Thompson was 69 years old, with several daughters of voting age.
  • Tressa Froman Doyle was 53 years old, living in Stoneboro, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. 
  • Elvira Bartley Gerner was 66 years old.  She lived in Bruin, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  She had six living daughters of voting age.
  • Catherine Saylor Froman was 76 years old.  She lived in Stoneboro, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

Of course, I wonder how strong my grandmothers' opinions were, how versed they were in the topics, and how their husbands felt about their wives voting.  I would especially like to know for which candidates they cast their votes.  It's unlikely I'll ever know.  But I hope they all voted in that historic election.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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