Friday, April 12, 2024

Might One of My Ancestors Have Seen a Total Solar Eclipse?

I thought April 8th's total solar eclipse was amazing.  We travelled back roads to a little town about 45 minutes away and sat in the tiny parking lot of a store.  We listened to NASA's live presentation as we waited and watched.  We saw two minutes of totality but not total darkness as shown in this photo.  It was like sunset all around the horizon.  The temperature cooled and some of the birds began their evening song.  Really, just a once in a lifetime experience (unless I'm still alive in 2045!)
Photo courtesy of NASA HQ Photo.   Thank you, NASA.

My ears perked up when I heard one of the NASA hosts use the word "generation."  She may have said something like, it will be more than a generation before the next eclipse comes to Ohio, but I'm not sure.  Just the word "generation" took my thoughts to my ancestors.  How many of them might have seen a total eclipse?

As I researched online, if what I read can be trusted, a total solar eclipse happens about every 18 months but crosses the same part of the earth in only about every 375 years.  That didn't give me much hope for my Ohio and Pennsylvania ancestors seeing a total solar eclipse. 

Looking at maps of past eclipses, I could not find a total solar eclipse that crossed over the localities where my ancestors lived at the times they were alive.  I had hoped we might share that in common.

However, there were plenty of newspaper reports of eclipses which my ancestors might have read.  I enjoyed the quaint language of this section of a small article from the August 7, 1860, issue of the Cincinnati Daily Press on page 4, column 1, entitled "The Late Solar Eclipse in Europe."
It reads,
    The Paris correspondent of the London
Times writes as follows:
   It wanted a few minutes to two when the
eclipse began, and whenever the sky cleared
the opaque body of the moon might be seen
creeping on in slow but sure advances.  The
greatest portion of the sun was covered about
three o'clock, and such parts of the sky as
were visible assumed a darker blue.  It was
nearly a quarter to four o'clock when the sun
got quite released from the grasp of his in-

Some past total solar eclipses happened on the dates below, but I didn't note the locations.
  • June 16, 1806
  • February 12, 1831
  • November 30, 1834
  • July 17, 1860
  • August 7, 1869
  • July 29, 1878
  • January 1, 1889
  • April 16, 1893
  • May 28, 1900

Thinking of my ancestors and solar eclipses reminded me of a post I wrote years ago titled Sharing the Sun.  My ancestors and I may not have a lot in common, but we have the sun. 


Copyright © 2024 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Friday, April 5, 2024

From Dixon to Elvira, "in consideration of the love and affection I bear to her my daughter"

I think it's unusual to find a deed in which a sentiment is included and even more unusual to find one in which a father tells of his love for his daughter.  But that's just what I found.

This deed (image and transcription below) with an indenture of property has my great-grandparents' and great-great-grandparents' names on it and their relationship is stated.  You can probably guess how I found it.  Yes, through FamilySearch's new full-text search of property records!  What a boon that resource is to family history researchers.  Thank you, FamilySearch.

In this record Dixon and Rebecca (Smith) Bartley deeded property, with an indenture, to Frederick and Elvira (Bartley) Gerner.  (Note the name variations:  Dixon is Dickson; Frederick is sometimes Fred; Elvira is sometimes Alvira.)  In an indenture, there is an exchange of obligations by both parties on the deed.  The deed was dated March 15, 1883.  Elvira was 28 years old with eight children, ages three months to 9 years.  Three years earlier, in June, 1880, Fred and Elvira were living in Putnam County, West Virginia.  I don't know the date of their return to Butler County, Pennsylvania, but it's clear from this document that they already owned property there.

Find this image here (with a free FamilySearch account).  It is in FamilySearch's collection, "Butler.  Deed Books 1882-1883, 1883-1884, Deeds 1884," image 396.  Image 330 and 331 tell me that the title of the book is Deed Book 69, owned by the Butler County Court House in Butler, Pennsylvania.   (To enlarge these pages for easier reading, click the image.  It will open in another tab and be easier to read.)

This is the transcription.
[page] 65 [left side]
Dickson Bartley Aux
Frederick Gerner
   Alvira  Gerner

      This Indenture, Made the Fifteenth day of March
one thousand eight hundred and Eighty Three between Dickson and
Rebecca Bartley of Parker Township Butler
County Pennsylvania of the first part
and Frederick Gerner and Alvira Gerner
his wife of the county and State aforesaid
parties of the second part
      Witnesseth, That the said parties of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of Eight Hundred Dollars, lawful money of the United States of America, unto them well and truly paid by the said parties of the second part, at or before the sealing and delivery of these presents, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, HAVE granted, bargained, sold, aliened, enfeoffed, released, conveyed and confirmed, and by these presents DO grant bargain, sell, alien, enfeoff, release, convey and confirm unto the said parties of the SECOND PART, their heirs and assigns, forever, all the following described property, viz:
    Beginning at a stone pile on line of D. P. Kelly on the East thence along line of Harrison Adams One Hundred and nineteen perches to a Hickory tree, thence along line of George Daubenspeck ninety eight perches to a post.  Thence S. 87½ [degrees?] E along lands of the first party thence along line of D. P. Kelly to the place of beginning ninety eight perches.  To each of the parties of the second part in the following proportion. Thirty two acres off the North side to Frederick Gerner in his own right and in consideration of the erection and maintenance of a fence on one side of a lane leading from his house to the public road as well as the payment of Twenty five dollars per acre, the above consideration of Eight Hundred dollars.  And Forty acres to Alvira Gerner in her own right.  For and in consideration of the love and affection I bear to her my daughter Elvira.  Containing seventy two acres and one hundred and Forty perches as represented on drafts No 1 as surveyed by N M Slater February A D 1883.  It is understood between the parties hereto that the second parties are to have limestone for their use on the farm ? from the South East corner of said first parties lands
     Together with all and singular the Said property improvements, ways, waters, water courses, rights, liberties privileges, hereditaments and appurtenances whatsoever thereunto belonging, or in anywise appertaining, and the reversions and remainders, rents, issues and profits thereof and all the estate, right, title, interest property, claim and demand whatsoever of the said parties of the first part, in law, equity or otherwise howsoever, of, in and to the same and every part thereof TO HAVE AND TO HOLD said Seventy two acres and One Hundred and forty two perches of land hereditaments and premises hereby granted or mentioned, and intended so to be, with the appurtenances, unto the said parties of the second part, their heirs and assigns, to and for the only proper use and behoof of the said partof [sic] the second part, their heirs and assigns FOREVER.

[page] 65 [right side]
AND Dickson Bartley and Rebecca Bartley his wife the said parties of the first part, their heirs, executors and administrators, do by these presents covenant, grant and agree to and with the said parties of the second part, heirs and assigns that they the said parties of the first part and their heirs, all and singular the hereditaments and premisce herein above described and granted or mentioned, and intended so to be, with the appurtenances, unto the said parties of the second part, their heirs and assigns, against them, the said parties of the first part, and their heirs, and against all and every other person or persons whomsoever lawfully claiming, or to claim the same or any part thereof subject to the conditions herein set forth
     In Witness Whereof, The said parties of the first part have to these presents set their hands and seals.  Dated the day and year first above written.
Sealed and Delivered in the Presence }  Dickson Bartley (Seal)
J H Otto [signature]                           }  Rebecca  her x mark  Bartley  (Seal)
Jas Buzzard                                       }
     RECEIVED, the date above mentioned, of the above named parties of the second part, the sum of Eight Hundred DOLLARS, consideration money in full.  D. Bartley

State of Pennsylvania  }
Butler County             } SS.
On fifteenth day of March 1883, before me a Justice of the Peace came the above named Dickson Bartley and Rebecca Bartley his wife, and acknowledge the above deed to be their act and deed, and desire to have it recorded.  Said Rebecca Bartley being of full age, and by me examined, separate from her said husband and the contents of said Deed being first made known to her declared that she signed, sealed and delivered said Deed of her own free will and accord, without coercion or compulsion of her said husband.
     Witness my hand and seal, the day and year above written.
James Buzzard J. P.  [signature]  (Seal.)

Asa Steel

Recorded August 6th 1883
For me, the interest of this deed goes above and beyond a transfer of property.  Yes, Fred and Elvira payed for the property and Fred was to meet other considerations in return.  What I love about this document is Dixon's declaration that 40 acres will go to Elvira without any additional request of her "in consideration of the love and affection I bear to her my daughter Elvira."  At times like this I wish for a journal or photographs or anecdotal accounts to help me understand Dixon's and Elvira's relationship.  She was his sixth child and third daughter.  Did he have a special affection for her, and she for him? 

Notes, Comments, Thoughts

I find it interesting that the deed states only "Butler County" and not the township.  The only way to locate this property now would be to use an old map created after 1883 which identifies property boundary lines and names the property owners.  Since I know Dixon lived near Bruin in Parker Township and have identified his home, I believe it's safe to assume the property Dixon sold was in Parker Township.  It's surprising that none of the boundary lines Dixon used seemed to border his property.

It was interesting to learn that there was a lane from the public road to Fred and Elvira's house.  Wish I had photographs of that house!  These days would we call it a driveway?

Sometimes these old documents are brutal when it comes to the boilerplate language.  Below are some of the new words I encountered.  I found this post from a surveyor's point of view helpful.  For the words below I chose the simplest-to-understand definitions from across the internet.
  • Indenture of Property.  A deed in which two parties agree to continuing obligations
    From Investopedia.
  • Enfeoff.  To put in possession of land in exchange for a pledge of service, in feudal society.
  • Perch.  A linear measurement of 5½ yards or 16½ feet; also called a rod or a pole.  
    From Black's Law Dictionary, 2nd ed. at
  • Hereditaments.  An archaic term which is still found in some wills and deeds.  It denotes any kind of property, either tangible or intangible, that can be inherited.
  • Appurtenances.  Property (as an outbuilding or fixture) or a property right (as a right-of-way) that is incidental to a principal property and that passes with the principal property upon sale or transfer.
  • Behoof.  An old-fashioned word that means something that is useful or beneficial to someone. It is often used in legal documents to describe a benefit that is part of a property transfer.
  • Premisce.  I was unable to find a definition for this word.  Perhaps it is a spelling variant of "premise."

The conditions of the indenture are these.
  • Dixon parted with the property.
  • He also give permission to use limestone from his property.
  • Fred and Elvira were to pay Dixon and Rebecca $800.00 for the property.
  • 32 acres were to go to Frederick in his own right.
  • Fred was to erect and maintain a fence on one side of a lane leading from his house to the public road.
  • Fred was to pay $25.00 per acre.  Was it in addition to the $800.00?  It's unclear to me.
  • 40 acres were to go to Elvira in her own right, "For and in consideration of the love and affection I bear to her my daughter Elvira."
  • It seems there were no conditions on Elvira's acres.
  • Frederick and Elvira were to have limestone for their use on the farm from the southeast corner of Dixon's property.

The witness to this deed, Asa Steele, was Elvira's brother-in-law, husband of Elvira's next younger sister, Lavina.

As thrilled as I am to find this deed/indenture, I can't help wishing the location of the property had been a little more specific, such as at least naming the township or town.  Perhaps more research will uncover a helpful map. 


Copyright © 2024 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Genealogy-Related Posts

While scouting around the internet I sometimes find articles and posts that seem genealogy-related.  I enjoyed these recent finds and thought you might find them interesting.

Surprise! You Own a Long-Lost Cemetery

Swiss Maps Are Full of Hidden Secrets

The U.S. Census Is Wrong on Purpose:  they literally doubled one town's population

Watch the video to see what was found in a French child's 120-year-old time capsule.  Read more about the photographer who found the box and his process for developing the photographs here.


Friday, January 5, 2024

FamilySearch's "All About Your Ancestors"

When I go to FamilySearch, it's most often to either search for an ancestor in their records or to index.  But just recently, when I clicked on the "Get Involved" tab with the intention of indexing, instead of clicking "Indexing," I clicked "Opportunities."  I found a generous gift of more than 30 "family history experiences" with search results just waiting for me to learn more about my ancestors.
These are some of the experiences available:
  • 1950 US Census
  • Ancestor Challenge  (identify photos of ancestors and/or their grave markers)
  • Ancestors Calendar
  • Cemeteries
  • Challenging Times
  • Discover Relatives Who May Need to be Added to Your Family Tree
  • Family Obituaries
  • Honoring Your Military Relative
  • Mayflower
  • My Ancestors in the 1950s
  • My Relatives' Military Records
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Record Hints
  • Relatives' Headstones
  • Religious Records
  • Top Contributors (to individuals who appear in your tree)
  • War of 1812 Relatives
  • WWI Draft Records
  • WWI Service Records
  • WWII Enlistment Record
  • Your Ancestor's Marriage
  • Your Female Ancestor Photos
  • Your Female Ancestors' Stories

To access these opportunities you'll need to sign in to your free FamilySearch account and have begun a family tree.  Click on "Get Involved" at the top of the screen, then click "Opportunities."  Since others contribute to your tree (which is really the collaborative tree), you'll likely find some information or ancestors who are new to you.  I did!


Copyright © 2024 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Monday, January 1, 2024

Friday, December 1, 2023

December Birthdays and Anniversaries Among My Ancestors and Relatives

   I love December.  There's the possibility of snow, of course, but it's the wonderful Christmas season when hearts are more open and generous and we're usually more thoughtful and kind during the month. 
    But December can also be a difficult month.  For a pregnant mom nearing the time of delivery, or a mom with a newborn baby, it has to be a challenge to recover from labor and delivery, care for any older children, and also prepare for the holidays.  And then there are the December birthdays, always a part of the Christmas season and sometimes overlooked or melded into that holiday. 
   Most difficult of all may be the December deaths.  Every year after the death of a loved in December, the holiday will always bring a remembrance of the loved one and the sorrow and grief that accompany the event.

Living Relatives
December 25    Martha A.

The Grands
December  ??, 1871   John Froman (death)
December 19, 1911   Gust Doyle and Beulah Mae Gerner
December 29, 1899   Rebecca (Smith) Bartley (death)
December 30, 1925   Henry Carl Meinzen

December   2, 1884    Emma Doyle
December   4, 1862    Susan Bickerstaff
December   4, 1927    Donald E. Davis
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 20, 1897    George T. Doyle and Emma Everall
December 22, 1832    Westley Scott Roe
December 24, 1869    Henry W. Kropp
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

My Lines to the Grands
  • John Froman -->  Tressa (Froman) Doyle -->  Gust Doyle -->  Lee Doyle -->  me
  • Gust and Beulah Mae (Gerner) Doyle -->  Lee Doyle -->  me
  • Rebecca (Smith) Bartley -->  Elvira (Bartley) Gerner -->  Beulah Mae (Gerner) Doyle -->  Lee Doyle -->  me
  • Henry Carl Meinzen -->  William Carl Robert Meinzen -->  Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle -->  me

Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary to my ancestors and relatives!


Copyright © 2023 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving

I wish you a bounty of blessings on this Thanksgiving Day!


Wednesday, November 1, 2023

November Birthdays and Anniversaries Among my Relatives and Ancestors

There's something interesting about the three grandparents whose events I'm celebrating this month:  they are all related.  Martha Reay is Andrew Doyle's mother.  Andrew and Elizabeth Jane (Laws) Doyle are Gust's grandparents, which make Martha Reay and her husband William Doyle Gust's great-grandparents.  When I think about that longer than a few seconds, it amazes me that the only direct ancestors who had celebrations this month are all related.

Living Relatives
November  3    Noah D.
November 21   Hester D.

November   7, 1809   Martha Reay
November 14, 1863   Andrew Doyle and Elizabeth Jane Laws
November 17, 1888   Gust Doyle

Collateral Relatives
November   1, 1922   Daniel I. Bickerstaff
November   7, 1918   Geraldine Mae (Jeree) Meinzen
November 11, 1961   James Eugene Bickerstaff and Janet Faye Martin
November 13, 1882   Walter Meinzen
November 15, 1868   Adam Froman
November 15, 1947   Rex Foulk
November 16, 1875   Lana Ellen Gerner
November 20, 1901   Marie Isabella Meinzen and Benjamin Robert Hashman
November 20, 1904   Edward Jesse Bickerstaff
November 22, 1905   Madelyn Lengauer
November 23, 1877   Scott Wesley Roe Jr.
November 25, 1922   Edward Jesse Bickerstaff and Agnes May Pressell
November 25, 1930   Edna Hendricks and Russell Sage Pugh
November 29, 1882   John N. Gerner
November 30, 1882   John Laws Doyle

My line from my grantparents to me
Martha Reay (who married William Doyle)  --> Andrew (& Elizabeth Jane Laws) Doyle  --> William Doyle  --> Gust Doyle  -->  Lee Doyle  -->  me

I'm wishing all Happy Celebrations!


Copyright © 2023 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 
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