Thursday, January 5, 2023

January Celebrations among My Ancestors & Relatives


Every few years I write monthly posts of birthdays and marriages for ancestors and some relatives, both living and dead.  Recently I realized that some ancestors never make it to this list because I don't have birth dates for them.  This year I'm including them with their death dates.  A death is not exactly a cause for celebration so I'm adjusting my view of these posts and thinking of them as celebrations that these people lived and are part of my family.  The death dates are indicated with a d. after the date.

In previous years I've not included my lineage to my grandparents.  You can find that as the last list on this post.

Living Relatives
January 10    Olivia D.
January 10    Isaac D.
January 14    Heather E.
January 31    Michael M.
January 31    Caleb  E.

The Grands
January   8, 1873       Andrew Doyle
January 10, 1894 d.   Susan Holmes (w/o William Bickerstaff) 
January 13, 1847       Abel Armitage and Eliza Hartley
January 15, 1883       Ellis H. Bickerstaff  and Lucy Umbarger
January 19, 1817       Elizabeth Thompson (w/o Robert Laws)

Collateral Relatives
January   1, 1891    Infant Thompson  (c/o John and Lydia Bell Thompson)
January   2, 1854    Enos Bickerstaff and Abigail Arbaugh
January   4, 1851    Anthony Laws
January   5, 1866    Elizabeth (Lizzie) Froman
January   9, 1903    Harry G. Froman
January 10, 1906    Minnie M. Gerner
January 11, 1887    Gust Proud
January 13, 1844    Jane Laws
January 16, 1864    Rebecca Lynch (LD6N-DYB) (159)
January 17, 1833    Enos Bickerstaff (LH3F-WF5) (190)
January 18, 1863    John F. Froman (L61Z-NSQ) (160)
January 20, 1858    Mary Ellen Thompson (LRWJ-24M) (165)
January 20, 1881    Alma Mary Gerner (KNWB-RZ4) (142)
January 20, 1887    Lula Bernesa (Luella) Meinzen (KF5S-QXQ) (136)
January 21, 1869    Alfred Vensel (KZSM-F5L) and Emma Gerner (KC7Z-RXY) (154)
January 22, 1861    Augustine Bickerstaff (27NY-DNM) and Mary Dunn (162)
January 26, 1866    Robert James Armitage (LZ6H-221) (157)
January 26, 1885    Elizabeth Wilhelmina (Mina, Minnie) Meinzen (KF57-H5Q) (138)
January 26, 1892    William Henry Bickerstaff (9NT1-F35) (131)
January 28, 1872    Catherine Froman (LX3H-JRD) (151)
January 28, 1885    Elizabeth May Thompson (L4Q1-9KL) (138)
January 28, 1889    Frederick Doyle (L4WL-6RQ) (134)
January 28, 1908    Edna Hendricks (L41P-W6V) (115)

The Lines of the Grands
  • Andrew Doyle >William Doyle  >Gust Doyle  >Lee Doyle  >me
  • Susan Holmes (w/o William Bickerstaff)  >Ellis Bickerstaff  >Edward J. Bickerstaff  >Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen  >Audrey Meinzen Doyle  >me
  • Abel Armitage and Eliza Hartley  >Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen  >W. C. Robert Meinzen  >Audrey Meinzen Doyle  >me
  • Ellis Bickerstaff  >Edward J. Bickerstaff  >Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen   >Audrey Meinzen Doyle  >me.  Lucy Umbarger is Ellis's third wife and not related to me.
  • Elizabeth Thompson (w/o Robert Laws)  >Elizabeth Jane Laws Doyle  >William Doyle  >Gust Doyle  >Lee Doyle  >me

-–Nancy.

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


Sunday, January 1, 2023

Happy New Year!

My wish for you extends to health, happiness, and success
throughout the year!
--Nancy.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas Greetings






I wish you the happiest of Christmases and in the new year, joy, health, strength, and courage to face whatever comes your way.

I also wish you much success in your genealogy endeavors!

Merry Christmas!
--Nancy.


Monday, November 14, 2022

Raymond Doyle, Again

Do you have a relative who won't leave you alone, who keeps coming to mind, wanting his or her information to be found?  Raymond is one of those people in my family.  Every few years he gives me a nudge, just about the time some new record set where he might be found becomes available online; or sometimes when I haven't given him a thought for a year or so.  Finding information and records for Raymond, an adopted son, have been a challenge.  In truth, the only information I have comes from family and census records.

Raymond was born between 1904 and 1905.  He was adopted by my great-grandparents, William and Tressa (Froman) Doyle before 1910.  Census records provide the following information.
  • 1910:  age  6, adopted son, living with William and Tressa Doyle in Stoneboro, Mercer County, Penna
  • 1920:  age 14, inmate living at the State Institution for the Feeble-minded in Polk, Venango County, Penna
  • 1930:  age 25, inmate living at the Polk State School for the Feeble-minded, Venango County, Penna
  • 1940:  age 35, inmate living at the Polk State School (Feeble-minded), Venango County, Penna
  • 1950:  age 45, inmate living at Mercer County Home, Coolspring Township, Mercer County, Penna  (Image below.)

This 1950 census (Penna, Mercer, Coolspring Twp., E.D. 43-3, Sheet 5, Line 3) is my newest record for Raymond.  My memory of meeting him between 1958 and 1960 at the Mercer County home is partially supported by this 1950 U.S. Census.  In the 1920-1940 census records he was living at Polk.  It's possible he was moved to Polk again after 1950 but I doubt it.

Two factors complicate finding what I'd most like to know about Raymond:  his birth records, an adoption record, and his death record.

Factor #1.  Adoption records are sealed in Mercer County Pennsylvania, no matter the date of the adoption.  It might be possible to petition a judge to open Raymond's file but, in fact, I don't know that there was a legal adoption.  Neither do I know his birth surname.  An older family member suggested that he may have been born to the Page family but I could not find evidence to support that idea.

Factor #2.  Raymond likely died in the county home.  I cannot find a burial record, nor even a death record (yet), let alone an obituary.  Pennsylvania death records are available through 1971 but checking the Penna Death Indexes from 1954 through 1971, I did not find a likely candidate for my Raymond Doyle.  A death certificate would probably give a burial location and date--if I had a death certificate.  And finding an obituary seems unlikely for a man who lived in the county home, especially considering that most family members had already died (assuming he died after 1971).  Which also means that no one would have been available to buy a gravestone.
Edited to add:  At the date of this post, Pennsylvania death certificates created after those published online at Ancestry, hence from 1972 to the present, are available for purchase at the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  However, they limit those who may purchase certificates to close family members and some legal representatives.  See the application here.
Once again, I'll put this search to rest for a while and return when other records become available or when a new search strategy comes to mind.  I'm sure Raymond will give me a nudge if I wait too long.

Have you ever petitioned a judge to open an adoption record?  If so, how did it go?  I can't imagine success for that effort without any record that there was, in fact, a legal adoption.

 Previous posts about Raymond

—Nancy.

Copyright © 2022 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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Monday, November 7, 2022

Pizza? I'd Like Mine Plain, Please - Monday Memory


My father worked turns at the steel mill when pizza was a  new-to-us food in the mid-1950s.  My sister had persuaded Dad to stop at a pizza shop to buy a pizza one Friday night on his way home from work.  He didn't usually get home until at least 11:30 but stopping for pizza meant his getting home after midnight.  (We were not a family of night owls.)  I have no idea how my sister learned about a pizza place in a city that was so far from our little village.

My usual bedtime when I was five or six was probably 8:30 or 9:00, even on Fridays and Saturdays.  I was asleep when Dad arrived home that night, but my family, not wanting me to miss this new experience, woke me eat pizza. 

Maybe I would have liked it had I been more awake when it arrived, but I doubt it.  It had sauce, pepperoni, and cheese, as well as other toppings, probably onions, mushrooms, and peppers, and maybe olives.  I was a picky eater, not to mention the fact that I'd never eaten pepperoni or mushrooms and didn't like peppers or olives.  What a mess of a combination of foods it was.  I scraped off all the toppings including the cheese and ate the crust with whatever sauce I couldn't scrape off.

And then I went back to bed, totally unimpressed with pizza.

It was a number of years before I remember eating pizza again.  Probably at the encouragement of my sister, my mom bought a box of Chef Boyardee, sold with everything included to make a simple, plain pizza:  dough mix, sauce in a can, and Parmesan cheese in a pouch.  Getting the dough spread out to cover the whole pan was a challenge.  And, well, it was plain.

Even later, around the time I was 16, our small, local grocery store, Beazel's, sold ready-made pizzas in plastic bags -- just take them home and bake them.  My mom bought several when I had a few friends over for my 16th birthday.

By the late 1960s, pizza restaurant had become common.

These days I order pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, and sausage.

Do you have early memories of trying new foods, or the first time you ate pizza?

—Nancy.

Copyright © 2022 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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Sunday, October 30, 2022

Semi-Win for Fred Gerner's Death Announcement + Obit Magnet

If you are a genealogy blogger or reader of blogs, particularly Dick Eastman's blog, you will have read about Obit Magnet, a tool for finding obituaries.  I have a few ancestors for whom I have been unable to find obituaries, including my great-grandfather Fred Gerner.  I had only a notice that his will was being probated.  I dearly wish to find an obituary that gives a biographical information—place of birth, parents' names, etc.  So when I saw the announcement of Obit Magnet, I thought it was worth a search.

I did not find an obituary but I'll take whatever I can get regarding Fred's death.  This snippet, below, about his daughter, Leota Gerner Riss, visiting him for two weeks before he died and giving his death date is something I would never have found without the help of Obit Magnet.

This was published in the Noon Edition of the Youngstown Daily Vindicator on Saturday, April 3, 1926, on page 5, at the top of newspaper column 5.

     Mrs. Frank Riis was called to But-
   ler, Pa., where she spent two weeks
   with her father who was seriously
   ill.  He died Saturday.  Funeral was
   held Monday.  Fred Gerner was aged
   79 years, and is survived by his wife
   and 11 children, five children having
   died before him.


Accuracies and Inaccuracies in This Article
  • Fred died on Friday, March 26, 1926, not on Saturday, which would have been March 27.
  • Fred was 78, 5 months, and 27 days old at the time of his death, as stated on his death certificate.
  • "Mrs. Frank Riis" was Fred's daughter Leota Riss.
  • His funeral was, in fact, on Monday, March 29.
  • The five children who died before Fred were Netta (1894, age 2 months), Ethel (1892, age 4), Ida (1904, age 31), Beulah (1913, age 24), and Edward (1917, age 40).

About Obit Magnet
Obit Magnet is a great finding aid for deaths that occurred between 1922 and the present, though if deaths were mentioned in "Back Then" or "Looking Back" articles, I think Obit Magnet would catch them.

To use this resources you must know the person's name and date of death.  However, the search extends for two weeks, so if you don't know the exact death date but know the year and are willing to search two weeks at a time, it's possible to find an obituary.  Also, make a list of all names the individual may have used, such as Fred Gerner, Fredrick Gerner, Fred K. Gerner, Fredrick K. Gerner, etc., so you catch all opportunities.

The newspapers it searchers are
> Google Newspapers at Google Books
> Newspapers.com (must have a subscription)
> NewspaperArchive.com (must have a subscription) and
> Chronicling America

I did not spend much time at Obit Magnet but I'm hopeful to find other obituaries when I continue searching.

—Nancy.

Copyright © 2022 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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Monday, October 17, 2022

Using the Telephone - Monday Memory

I'm writing of rotary dial home telephones here, vintage 1950s-1960s.

I knew that if the phone rang once (one ring, break, one ring, break, etc.) then it was for our house.  If there were two rings (ring-ring, break, ring-ring, break, etc.) then it was for someone else's house.  What I didn't understand as a five or six-year-old was what to do if there were people already talking when I picked up the phone to make a call.  One time I picked up the phone and heard two women talking.  And then I heard, "The phone's already in use.  Hang up."  Oh!  That was a surprise.  I later learned that if I hard voices when I picked up the phone, I should very quietly hang up as quickly as possible.

Another time when I was about the same age or just a little older, I asked my mom if I could go downstreet to visit Gramma.  (She lived one large yard away from us, a short walk by the street.)  Mom told me to call her to see if she was home.  I picked up the phone, dialed Gramma's number, and listened.  She said hello and I hung up.  I knew she was home because she answered the phone and saw no need to have a conversation because I would be seeing her in a few minutes.  Mom asked if she was home and I said yes.  And down the street I went.  When I arrived at Gramma's we greeted each other, and then a few minutes later she asked, "Did you call just a bit ago."  I said that I had and that was the end of that conversation.  But when I got home, I received instruction that when I called someone on the phone I needed to talk to the person who answered.  Mom explained that I might have alarmed or worried Gramma by not talking to her since she didn't know who was calling.  It's all a learning experience for kids, right?

When I was young we had two telephones in our house.  The older of the two, similar in shape to the one at right, was on a little stand in our upstairs hallway close to my parents' bedroom.  It was rarely used but was helpful to my mom if the phone rang while she was upstairs cleaning.  By the time I was ten or so, that phone had been removed and we were a one-telephone household.

The second phone was on the first floor, on a counter in the kitchen near the wall.  It was a newer model, similar to the one at right, though ours may have been a little older.  Without the upstairs phone, that phone was used for everything:  to make doctors' appointments, for conversations with relatives and friends, to answers questions from callers about clock and watch repair, etc.  In those days there were no private conversations. Anyone else at home within hearing distance knew at least half the conversation. This didn't matter to me until I became a teenager, but I suppose my older sister and brother might have appreciated some privacy on occasion.  This was the phone I used to call my grandmother and to listen to others' conversations in the two memories above.

We heard others on our phone because we had a party line.  I suppose the word party, in this case, is similar to the legal use of the word, meaning an individual or entity.  A party line meant that individuals or families in several homes shared the same line.  It was more economical to have a party line than a private line.  For the most part we ignored the phone unless we heard our own ring (one, two, maybe more) or unless we intended to make a call.  There were times when someone was long-winded, in which case another party who needed to use the phone might interrupt those in conversation and ask them to finish.  That seemed to work out well, for the most part.  I was probably too young to remember if there were people who hogged the line.  Of course, with a party line, the lack of privacy extended beyond listeners at home to whoever else might pick up the line and listen in.

Another aspect of telephones in the times before cell phones was the cords.  The phone cord was connected to an outlet in the wall, installed by someone from the telephone company, in our case Ohio Bell.  There was no do-it-yourself in those days when it came to telephones.  Phone cords could be varying lengths but the shorter the cord, the less movement the person on the phone had.  I believe our cord in the kitchen was about 6' long.  The other cord on the phone was the one that was coiled and connected the receiver (with earpiece and mouthpiece) to the telephone.  Those could also vary in length.  And ours, was, again, probably about 6' long.  All this to say that when on the phone, we were physically tethered to it if we wanted to talk to the person on the other end of the phone.  The cords on our phones were not long enough to reach to the sink so someone could do dishes while talking.

At the center of the dial on the telephones of those days was a piece of cardboard covered with plastic.  I think there was a ring of plastic around that which screwed onto the center of the  phone.  The cardboard was a place to write your phone number.  Our number was OLympic 2-7979.  Sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s the phone company switched over to seven numbers and no letters.  I don't know how the phone, or the operator, could tell the difference between OL (which was 65) and the numbers 65.  It didn't make sense to me but we all switched to numbers.

In those days, in our family, taking photos of adults on the telephone would have been thought a waste of film, considering the cost of buying the film plus developing it and having prints made.  But taking photos of cute children playing on the phone?  Who wouldn't want to preserve this memory?  At right are my brother and my cousin at our grandmother's house.  The occasion was not recorded but by the clothing of my brother, it was not a special event.  The phone was probably 1930s-1940s vintage, newer than the oldest and older than the newest in the images above.

To you readers who remember the era of home phones, what did I forget to include about them that's important to remember?  What were some of your experiences with telephones?

Oh, and just to add a little humor, watch this youtube video of young people trying to figure out how to use rotary dial phones that were the standard of my childhood and youth.

I love cell phones and all they can do but I have to say, I also occasionally miss the old rotary dial phones.

—Nancy.

Copyright © 2022 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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Monday, October 10, 2022

A Nighttime Walk - Monday Memory


My mom was a worrier, though most of the time she kept her worries to herself.  She was also an introvert and had (or chose) few outlets for social interaction.  She was not a joiner.  The only organizations she belonged to, as far as I remember, were the P.T.A. and a gathering of nurses she'd graduated with.  All this to say that my mom didn't get out much or have many interactions with others.

Most days Mom finished the housework before dinner.  After doing this dishes with the help of my sister or me, this left her evenings free to relax.

On occasional fall evenings, after it was dark, my mom would take a walk.  I was four or five the first time she invited me to go with her.  We put on sweaters or coats, depending on the weather, and left by the front door.  How unusual because we were backdoor people.  What a surprise to be outside taking a walk at night!  We looked for the moon.  She pointed out stars.  We noticed whose curtains were open or closed.  And we noticed the sounds and smells around us.  We walked to the end of our street, then back home again.

The memory ends there.  I don't remember what we did when we arrived home.

I suppose my mother needed the fresh air, a fresh perspective, and a little exercise to renew her spirit and get a good night's sleep.

It's an odd little memory to have stuck with me all these years.

Do you have any childhood memories that seem insignificant but for some reason stay with you?

—Nancy.

Copyright © 2022 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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