Friday, March 5, 2021

Netta or Metta? Her 1894 Butler County, Pennsylvania, Death Record

Brendice Gerner told me when she was in her late 90s that she had a sister named Meta Mildred who died in 1894.  While researching in a book of transcriptions of deaths in Butler County, Pennsylvania, I saw her name as Netta, and so I've been wondering which is correct.  Brendice was born a year after Meta/Netta died so it's likely she only heard the name and did not see it written.  It's easy to mishear or confuse an M and an N.

Perhaps you can please help?  This is a partial copy of her record in Butler County (Pennsylvania) Registration of Deaths, 1893-1906, on a digitized film of the original record book at FamilySearch.  Her name is at the top of this image.  Clearly there are two t's but what are the first and second letters?  I included the names below for comparison of handwriting.

What do you think?  Metta or Netta, or do you see a different name from those?

Below is an image of the whole page (she's about halfway down), then just her line, and below those is a transcription of her information.  Click on any of the images to enlarge them in a new tab in your browser.
This is the transcription.
Page 43 [both pages have the same number], G, Registration of Deaths, Butler County.
[left page:]
Name of Deceased.  Gerner, Netta M. [or is it Metta?]
Color.  white
Sex.  Female
Age.  4 mo.
Name of Father. (If minor.)  Fred Gerner
Name of Mother. (If minor.)  Elvira Gerner
Married or Single.  Single
Place of Birth.  Bruin
right page:]
Occupation.  [blank]
Date of Death.  Nov 7 1894
Place of Death. (Street and Number.)  Bruin
Cause of Death.  Enlargment [sic] of liver
Duration of Last Sickness.  2 weeks
Place of Interment.  Bear Creek C.
Date of Interment.  Nov 9 1894
Date of Record.  Dec 15 1894

Notes and Observations
  • I was thrilled to find the digital image with this information but hoped that her name would be so clearly written that there would be no question about it.  The transcription I have from a book just isn't the same as seeing an image of the original entry in the ledger.
  • It's interesting that both Netta/Metta and her father, Fred Gerner, had liver problems.  Could it be that there was a genetic or hereditary relationship between their problems?  Fred died of chronic interstitial hepatitis whereas Netta/Metta died of an enlarged liver. 
  • How would an enlarged liver have been diagnosed in 1894?
  • I checked Bear Creek Cemetery at Find-a-Grave but did not find Netta/Metta.  It's possible that she has no grave marker.

Thanks for offering your interpretation of her name in the record if you have time.  I appreciate it.


Copyright ©2021 by Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Miss Beulah Gerner Hosts Tennis Club, December 3, 1909

Who knew that my grandmother played tennis?  Or did she?  Perhaps it was a group of young ladies who called themselves the "Tennis Club" for want of a better name.

   Miss Buelah [sic] Gerner, Brown avenue,
entertained 30 members of the Tennis
Club of the Methodist Episcopal
church at her home last evening.  A
pleasant evening was spent and lunch-
eon was served.  Miss Ella Hulder-
man assisted Miss Gerner in receiv-

Beulah was a young adult, aged 21, when this article was published in the Butler Citizen (Butler, Pennsylvania) on Saturday, December 4, 1909 (on page 5, column 2).  I would love to know what was served for luncheon, what activities the young ladies participated in during the evening, and what they wore. 

Observations and Information Garnered from This Article
  • Beulah may (or may not) have been athletic.
  • She lived on Brown Avenue (in Bruin, Butler County) which agrees with other information from other sources.
  • She may have attended the Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • She had a friend or acquaintance named Ella Hulderman, as well as 28 other friends/acquaintances.

I have very little information about Beulah as a child or young adult so it was exciting to find this brief article. 


Copyright ©2021 by Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

March Birthdays and Marriages Among My Relatives

There aren't a lot of celebrations this month but there are several dates in March that were "popular" for births.  There were three babies born on March 5 and on March 27, two babies were born and there was a marriage. 

I knew none of my direct ancestors in person.  Of the collateral relatives I knew only a few:  Robert Bickerstaff, Thomas Morris, and Mayme Bickerstaff Morris.  There are others, grand-aunts and -uncles, who were alive when I was but I can't remember meeting them.

Living Relatives
March   9    David D.
March 24    Heather and Jamie E.
March 30    Lina P.

March   3, 1863    William (Billy) Doyle
March   4, 1830    William Bickerstaff and Susanna Holmes
March 15, 1891    Edward Jesse Bickerstaff and Mary Thompson
March 17, 1885    William Doyle and Tressa Rose Froman

Collateral Relatives
March   2, 1863    Isabelle Armitage
March   4, 1853    Martha Jane Thompson
March   5, 1879    Edward J. C. F. Meinzen
March   5, 1914    John N. Gerner and Carrie Mack
March   6, 1848    Alexander Bell
March   7, 1917    Robert J. Bickerstaff
March 13, 1879    Isabell Doyle
March 16, 1900    Isabell Doyle and Harry Clinton Stolz
March 18, 1880    John Crooks and Laura Bell
March 22, 1835    Robert Laws, Jr.
March 23, 1849    William Laws
March 23, 1881    Ida Doyle
March 24, 1839    Martha Doyle
March 24, 1916    Dorothy Justine Clemmens
March 26, 1876    Cruson Bell and Mary E. Crooks
March 27, 1904    Lucile L. Hepler
March 27, 1907    Hannah Elizabeth Meinzen and John Harrison Hendricks
March 27, 1918    Thomas Edward Morris
March 29, 1926    William Edward Doyle
March 31, 1842    George Laws
March 31, 1899    Mary Ellen (Mayme or Mame) Bickerstaff

I wish my family members happy celebrations this month, and you, too, if your birthday is in March.


Copyright ©2021 by Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sifting Through the Stories

     "Over the years, certain stories in the history of a family
take hold.  They're passed from generation to generation,
gaining substance and meaning along the way.  You have to
learn to sift through them, separating fact and conjecture, the
likely from the implausible.
     "Here is what I know:  Sometimes the least believable
stories are the true ones."
                                                from A Piece of the World
                                                by Christina Baker Kline


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Thoughts on RootsTech 2021

RootsTech has always been a from-home experience for me--in previous years I enjoyed watching presenters, videos of interviews, and still shots of bloggers in a variety of settings at the conference--so you wouldn't think watching from home this year would be all that different from past years.  But it was!  It was a whole different feeling.

I'm not a fan of zoom meetings and this conference felt like a series of either zoom meetings or zoom presentations.  I know they did the best they could but even most of the interactions with the speakers seemed stilted and unnatural.  I think the energy is greater when a crowd of real people are there as an audience.

The Cons of RootsTech 2021
  • The excitement and enthusiasm that was almost palpable in past years (even though I watched from afar) was missing this year.
  • The spontaneity during keynote sessions when the MC asked questions and interacted with the keynote speaker was absent. 
  • I missed seeing photos of bloggers I know interacting with each other.
  • I missed seeing videos of interviews of bloggers I know.

The Best of RootsTech 2021
  • I was thrilled with how many sessions were offered and the variety of topics.
  • I have access to every presentation and can rewind or rewatch if I choose!
  • Having access to every presentation for a year is great.  Just think, the education can continue daily if I can keep up with a session a day.
  • The playlist is fabulous.  How wonderful to be able to click a session and know I won't have to search for it again.
  • The music competition was fun and I was please that Daisy Chute and her song won.  (Is this the first year for a music competition?)
  • I love, love, love Elder and Sister Holland's keynote address.  What a treat to take a family history tour with them and their children.  I love how they shared memories.  It was especially fun to hear Sister Holland's early impressions of her husband ("most overly confident, obnoxious person I've ever met" but she had the deep feeling she would marry him).  Wouldn't this kind of video be wonderful for every family and individual to do?

As good and as not good as RootsTech 2021 was, I'm looking forward and hoping for the old format next year.  It would be great if they could combine the best from both the in-person and virtual conferences.


Copyright ©2021, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Thursday, February 25, 2021

RootsTech 2021 Begins Today!

Most people who read this blog probably already know about RootsTech 2021, the wonderful, completely virtual, free, genealogy conference that's happening now.  But in the off chance some of you don't I want you to know about it.  In past years it was an in-person conference with a few sessions offered online.  This year, because of Covid 19, the conference is completely virtual and free.  But to enjoy all the benefits you'll need to register, which you can do here.

This is a great introductory video by Jen Allen, the director of RootsTech 2021, in which she explains how to use the website and gives an overview of what's offered. 

There's a series of videos here explaining more and this blog post gives even more detail. 

And don't forget the sessions -- people who have expertise in different areas of family history share their knowledge.  These are where I learn the most.  You can see the 18-page list here.  Each page has at least 32 presentations -- more than 1500 sessions in all. 

Or you can explore the sessions here.  They are divided into eight categories.  (You may have to be registered and sign in to use this link.)

Below are the direct links to each category.  I loved looking at the session options this way because I could click on the ones I want to watch and they were added to my playlist.  Thank goodness we have a whole year to watch the sessions!

There's so much more to RootsTech than this brief overview but you can scout around at the websites above and see all the offerings for yourself.  I hope you enjoy and learn some new things, too!


Copyright ©2021, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Sunday, February 21, 2021

"A Very Convincing Lie"

I love this thought--the acknowledgement of a possibility--from The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab.  A similar thought has crossed my mind more than once.
"There’s this family photo," he says, "not the one in the hall, this other one, from back when I was six or seven.  That day was awful.  Muriel put gum in David’s book and I had a cold, and my parents were fighting right up until the flash went off.  And in the photo, we all look so . . . happy.  I remember seeing that picture and realizing that photographs weren’t real.  There’s no context, just the illusion that you’re showing a snapshot of a life, but life isn’t snapshots, it’s fluid.  So photos are like fictions.  I love that about them.  Everyone thinks photography is truth, but it’s just a very convincing lie.”
I have often wondered, when looking at some of my old family photographs, exactly what happened before the camera's shutter snapped.  So often I think I can see the hint of a smile in the eyes or about the mouth.  Had the photographer told a joke, or said "Say cheese," or had a member of the group piped up with a humorous quip? 

But among my family photos there is one in which nearly everyone looks either neutral, sour, or angry.  Only the young lady in the center bears the hit of a smile and the little girl on the right wears a full smile. (Click the photo to enlarge in a new screen, click again to enlarge again.)

Could it be that the "convincing lie" in this photo is that the family is truly a happy family caught in the midst of some unpleasantness just before the photographer snapped the photo?  The photo, a full-page black and white photocopy, was among the papers of my aunt, Polly Meinzen, after she died.  There were no names or a date noted anywhere.  Who knows what size the original image was, perhaps a tiny 2" x 4" snapshot, or maybe larger.  I wish she'd at least made a color photocopy, or better yet, had a real copy made.  I wish I had more but I'm grateful to have this.

Based on the dress sleeves of the two young women, back left, I date this image to about mid 1890s, 1894-1896.  I can identify the older man and woman as Henry and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen.  The man at front left is their son, Henry.  The others are likely their children.

Henry, on the left, born in 1870, would have been about 25.
Other possible children are
> Hannah, born 1875, would have been about 20-21.
> Isabelle, born about, would have been about 15-16.
> Mina, born 1885, would have been 10-11.
> Lula, born 1887, would have been about 8-9.
> Bertha, born 1888, would have been about 7-8.
> W.C.R. Bob, my grandfather, born 1892, would have been about 3-4.
> Jacob, born 1893, would have been about 2-3.

I suspect the little blond boy in the center front is Jacob, and the little boy dressed in black is Bob.  But the girls....  Who could guess their ages and which is which?  I believe the young lady, upper left with the pouty face, is not one of Henry and Elizabeth's children.  She is in other family photos but my aunt, Doris (Meinzen) Dray, did not recognize her as one of her aunts.  Unless I find someone else who has this photograph with names and a date, I doubt I'll ever know for sure who the children are.

Do you have family photographs that you think show something other than the truth?  A photo snapped in the second everyone smiled when just before they were arguing?  The shutter opened just at the moment when everyone grimaced?  Photos showing "a very convincing lie?"  Or perhaps a photograph isn't a lie, just a split-second of real life?


Copyright ©2021, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Friday, February 19, 2021

Alexander Bell's 1922 Ohio Death Certificate

Alexander Bell is my great-great-grandmother Lydia (Bell) Thompson's older brother.  Their parents were Jacob and Lydia (Fithen) Bell.

This is a transcription of this death certificate.  Words in all uppercase are the responses.
State of Ohio, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death
1  Place of Death
County COLUMBIANA, Registration District No. 227, File No. [blank]
Township HANOVER  Primary Registration District No. 4338  Registered No. 36842
Residence [blank]
Personal and Statistical Particulars
3  Sex  MALE
4  Color or Race  WHITE
5  Single....  MARRIED
6   Date of Birth  MARCH 6th 1848
7  Age  74 years, 4 months, 2 days
8  Occupation of Deceased  FARMER   General nature of industry  FARMING
9  Birthplace  OHIO
10  Name of Father  JACOB BELL
11  Birthplace of Father  OHIO
12  Maiden Name of Mother  LYDIA FITHIAN [sic]
13  Birthplace of Mother  OHIO
14  Informant  MARY C BEALL   Address  KENSINGTON
15  Filed  7/10, 1927  J. N. Sinclair, Registrar
Medical Certificate of Death
16  Date of Death  July 8th 1922
17  I hereby certify that I attended deceased from JULY 1ST, 1922 to JULY 8, 1922, that I last saw hIM alive on JULY 7, 1922 and that the death occurred, on the date stated above, at 1:20 AM.
The Cause of Death was as follows:  ARTERISCLEROSIS [sic], duration 2 yrs.
Contributory MITRAL HEART INSUFFICIENCY (duration) 1 yrs.
18  Where was disease contracted if not at place of death?  [check mark]
Did an operation precede death?  NO
Was there an autopsy?  NO
What test confirmed diagnosis?  [indecipherable]
Signed  Dr. C. C. [indecipherable]
JULY 8, 1922   (Address) E. ROCHESTER
Date of Burial  JULY 10, 1922
20  Undertaker, License No. 26190  WM C. MAPLE   Address  KENSINGTON O.

This certificate is from FamilySearch's collection of Ohio death certificates.  This certificate can be viewed and downloaded here (with a free FamilySearch account).

  • The 1900 U.S. Census names Alexander's wife as Mary C. Beall who is probably the informant for the information on this certificate.   I notice that Mary spelled her name "Beall" unless that's how she pronounced it and the registrar wrote it as it sounded.  On the other hand, this may not be Alexander's wife at all, something I'll never know for sure since a relationship was not stated.
  • I am always amazed when the occupation of men in their 70s is listed as farmer.  People probably didn't retire in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  I suppose a farmer kept working until his health prevented it or until he died.  Sturdy people, those farmers of that time.
  • Edited to add:  I asked my daughter (who is a nurse) about the inconsistency of the doctor certifying the death at 1:30 a.m. on July 8 when the last time he saw Alexander alive was on July 7.  How would he know the time of death of he wasn't there?  My daughter said that the time of death is not necessarily the exact time a patient dies but the time the doctor arrives to certify the death.  If the doctor is at the patient's bedside when he dies, the time would be more accurate.  Interesting information to me.   


Copyright ©2021, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Love Tokens on Valentine's Day

heart and hand, hand and heart, love token
Who, of my ancestor couples, might have given or exchanged heart-and-hand love tokens?  These were common during the early 1800s but by the late 1800s it seems that postcards had won the hearts of most Valentine givers.  Perhaps ancestor couples who married before 1860?  (How I wish an original of one of these survived from that time period!)

The most likely couples are great-great-grandparents, named below with marriage year.
> William and Martha (Reay) Doyle, 1825
> William and Susanna (Holmes) Bickerstaff, 1830
> Robert and Elizabeth (Thompson) Laws, 1834
> Dixon and Rebecca (Smith) Bartley, 1836
> Jacob and Lydia (Fithen) Bell 1843
> Jacob and Mary (Richardson) Thompson, 1848
I'll never know whether these ancestors, or any ancestors before the 1950s, celebrated Valentine's Day, but I wish I did.

A Little of the History of Hearts-and-Hands
Hearts-and-hands were created and given as early as the late 1600s as tokens of affection on any day of the year.  By the 1700s they began to be adopted as expressions of affection on Valentine's Day.  By the mid-1800s Godey's Lady's Book and Harper's Weekly include Valentine's verses and cut paper projects.  Read more here, at the American Folk Art Museum website

hearts and hands, hands and hearts, love tokens

I first saw these heart-and-hand paper cuts several decades ago in a magazine article, photo above, (though which magazine I can't say) and was enchanted.  The ones shown were, the author guessed, from the early 1800s.  I decided to try to create some of my own.  I gave most of them away and kept only the simplest ones.
woven hearts and hands, woven hands and hearts, woven love tokenswoven hearts love tokens
Happy Valentine's Day, friends.


Copyright ©2021, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Warren Franklin Gerner's 1957 Death Certificate

John Gerner, Alfonzo Gerner, and Warren Gerner
Warren Franklin Gerner is the man on the right, sitting on the running board of this 1941 or 1942 Chevrolet Business Coupe in a park in Niles, Ohio, for a family reunion.  He is with his brothers, John, standing, and Alfonzo (aka Fon or Fawn), sitting beside him.  He is the son of Fredrick and Elvira (Bartley) Gerner, brother to my paternal grandmother, Beulah (Gerner) Doyle.

I have very little documentation about Warren.  In fact, I think this death certificate is the first document I've found for him.  Most of the information I have comes from family sources.  Several of his great-grandchildren have contacted me as well as a few other Gerner descendants. 

I understand that Warren was married at least twice but I have the name of only one of his wives, Leila Davis. 

Below is his 1957 California death certificate which I found at FamilySearch's California, County Birth and Death Records, 1800-1994, and a transcription  You can see this record here with a free FamilySearch account.

Warren Franklin Gerner's 1957 California death certificate
Certificate of Death, State of California--Department of Public Health
Registration District No. 7097, Registrar's Number 1164
Decedent Personal Data
Name of Deceased--First/Middle/Last  WARREN FRANKLIN GERNER
Date of Death  JAN. 24, 1957  Hour 3:00 AM
Sex:  MALE
Color or Race:  CAUC
Specify [marital status]:  DIVORCED
Date of Birth:  JULY 10, 1890
Age (last birthday):  66 years
Usual Occupation:  JIG BUILDER
Kind of Business or Industry:  AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY
Citizen of What Country:  U.S.A.
Name and Birthplace of Gather:  FREDRICH GERNER, GERMANY
Maiden Name and Birthplace of Mother:  ELVIRA BARTLEY, W. VA.
Was Deceased Ever in U.S. Armed Forces?  NO
Social Security Number:  292-10-8270
Place of Death
City or Town:  BELLFLOWER
Length of Stay in This City or Town:  6 MOS.
Last Usual Residence:  State:  CALIF.  County:  LOS ANGELES:  City or Town:  BELLFLOWER
Street or Rural Address:  9141 E. CENTER ST.
Coroner's Certification
Signature:   E. A. WINSTANLEY, CORONER [rubber stamped]
BY ELDON BOYD, M.D. [signature]
Date Signed:  1-25-57
Funeral Director and Registrar
Specify...  BURIAL
Date:  1-29-57
Signature of Embalmer & License Number:  WILLIAM F. HAND, 4230
Date Received by Local Registrar:  JAN 28 1957
Signature of Local Registrar:  ROSEMARY STEPHENSON
Filed:  MAR 1 1957  Ray E. Lee, Country Recorder   2050

This certificate of death gives no information about the cause of death.  Because there was a coroner's investigation I wonder if Warren's death was the result of an accident. 


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Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 

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