Sunday, January 31, 2010

Michael's Birthday

What's not to love about a face as handsome as that? But that's not all. It gets even better. He has a kind and tender heart besides. And the very best part? He's my husband!

Best happy birthday wishes, Michael!

Caleb Turns 4!

Caleb, my great-nephew, just keeps growing and growing!

He turns 4 today.

From his grampa I understand that he is enthusiastic, energetic, bright, and fun.

Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Friday, January 29, 2010

What You Find in Those City Directories!

Oh, yes! I love city directories. Names, street addresses, occupations. Sometimes they tell the wife's name - and always the wife's name if she is a widow. Later ones include the names of other family members if they are above a certain age. There are the names of churches and their pastors along with the churches' addresses. Organizations in the community are named, along with times and locations of meetings

Of course not every directory is the same, or includes the same information, though I believe every directory includes the names of residents and their addresses - of course, because it's their primary purpose. Other information seems to vary from year to year and by publisher.

Palmer's Steubenville Directory, for 1871, for instance, tells U.S. government information including the names of the president, the cabinet, the supreme court justices, ambassadors to and from the U.S. - and their salaries. I learned the postal rates (3 cents per 1/2 ounce); the population of 50 U.S. cities in 1860 and 1870; pension statistics; and public and private buildings erected in the city including the builder, owner, location, building material, purpose of the building, and the cost. There are several pages devoted to the U.S. debt including sections on bonds and interest rates.

There is a wonderful brief section called "Statistics of Life."
STATISTICS OF LIFE.--The yearly mortality of the globe is 33,333,333 persons. This is at the rate of 91,554 per day, 3,730 per hour, 62 per minute. Each pulsation of the heart marks the decease of some human creature.
The average of human life is 33 years.
One-fourth of the population die at or before the age of seven years.
Among 10,000 persons, one arrives at the age of 100 years, one in 500 attains the age of 90, and one in 100 lives to the age of 60.
Married men live longer than single men.
In 1,000 persons, 95 marry, and more marriages occur in June and December than any other months in the year.
One-eighth of the whole population is military.
Professions exercise a great influence on longevity.

My great-grandfather was 33 when that was written. I imagine he felt pleased to have already outlived the average human lifespan. He lived to be 87.

One page is devoted to the history of Steubenville. To me it reads like a cross between a travel brochure, a textbook, and an encouraging invitation for people to become residents. I enjoyed this quote: "Nature has done all the most ambitious could require to constitute a great manufacturing centre. Enterprise and capital alone are wanted. The first must be sought for in the sound judgment and energy of the inhabitants; the last must be wrought out by the industrious conversion of the raw materials, so abundantly provided, into articles adapted to supply the wants and the luxuries, and to gratify the tastes of a great and prosperous people."

Other pages include information about the industry of the community, and advertisements tell me what businesses there were in the city. I was surprised to see a veterinary surgeon listed in 1871. I was not surprised to see plasterers, house & sign painters, paper hangers, gunsmiths, and coopers, among others. I wondered if my grandfather worked as a wagon maker in one of the shops or as a carpenter in another business or industry.

I enjoyed looking at the full-page ads with their ornate lettering and 140-year-old language that sounds so unusal to my ears in 2010. Perhaps you will, too.

If your ancestor lived in a town or city and if you're trying to fill in information between census records, city directories may be helpful to you. They really are fun to peruse and if you find your ancestor, not only can you fill in a location for him on his timeline, you can also learn more about the situation in which he lived. I know the information in directories is not primary source material, but it can help put a little meat on the bare bones of names and dates. I know that the Family History Library has microfilmed many which are available for loan at family history centers throughout the world. Maybe you'll be as amazed by what you find as I sometimes am!

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Blogger's Best Friend Award

It is such a pleasant surprise to receive a blogging award. My blog is so new and so small, and I'm so new to blogging. So, many, many thanks to Herstoryan (whose real name I don't know) for her kindness and generosity in choosing me for this award. I really appreciate it.

About the award:

'Bandit,' the developer of the award "A Blogger's Best Friend Award," says it shall be given to your most loyal blog readers. Thus, the award should be given to a follower of yours who takes the time to comment regularly on many of your posts. In addition his or her blog should be creative, funny and always entertaining. Upon receiving this award, pass it along to two fellow bloggers who fit this criteria.

There are two followers of my blog who have offered encouraging comments several times and I'd like to give this award to them. They are Apple at
Apple's Tree and Greta at Greta's Genealogy Bog. I'm grateful for the comments both of them have offered and I thoroughly enjoy - and learn from - both of their blogs. Thank you, ladies!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Meant It When I Said It

It's been barely 2 weeks since I said I was laying Henry Meinzen to rest and I wasn't going to search for him for at least several months. I said it and I meant it when I said it. I really did. But here's what happened.

An email from a rootsweb county list arrived yesterday telling me that a new database had been put online for one of my counties. I perked up thinking I might find more information about my relatives in that county, but when I read further I realized that the information didn’t apply to my family.

And then this little light began blinking in my head and a thought popped up: “You haven’t searched for Henry at
for a while.” I eagerly embraced the thought instead of putting it out of my mind. "Oh, I haven’t!” And I opened a new tab in my browser and rushed right over to the site.

I found a year or so ago. It has virtual images of books and city directories for eastern Ohio counties. Then it seemed difficult to use. This time it was easier. I typed “Meinzen” into the search box in the corner and in seconds - maybe only 2 seconds - up popped 15 sources for Meinzen. Voila. The same sources I’d searched before. But no! Wait! Those DigitalShoebox people just keep working hard and there were two new (new to me, at least) Steubenville city directories that weren’t there before: 1871 and 1904-05.

The excitement was not that Henry was in them - because I knew he would be. I was excited because 1871 was earlier than any other sources I have except the 1870 census and his 1868 naturalization documents. Finding 1871 gives me hope that I might find an 1870, and then an 1868, and then an 1867 directory, which may - may!- help lead me back to Henry’s first years in the U.S. and eventually to his hometown and his parents. (Isn't that where we all want to go - back to the next parents?) I was also excited to see that his trade was listed as carpenter. (We have no family lore about him being a carpenter, so this was another source for this information.)

Am I crazy? Does anyone else do these spur of the moment searches? Please tell me I’m not crazy!

Here's Henry in Palmer’s Steubenville Directory, for 1871, p. 95

This is Henry and his family in the Steubenville Official City Directory 1904-1905, p. 208

I have information from the 1906-07 directory, but it's fun to see who's moved away, or who's grown old enough to be listed in each subsequent volume.

And now, I really am going to put Henry to rest for a while. (Unless, of course, . . . .)

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, grandmother, heroine.

Elizabeth is the little lady wearing the sunbonnet in the photo above. She had cancer of the face and I suspect she's wearing the bonnet to protect it from the sun. She fills the role of great-grandmother and heroine in my life. I've not yet met her but I hold her in high esteem. I'll share with you what I know about her.

Elizabeth was born on August 24, 1852, in England, probably in Bradford, Yorkshire. Her father was Abel Armitage, her mother is not yet certainly known (at least to me). She had one sister, Ann, who was two years older than her. Abel worked as a coal miner before they left England and after they settled in Jefferson County, Ohio.

Elizabeth came to the U.S. in 1864 when she was 12 years old. Wherever their destination may have been, the family ended their journey in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio. I know nothing about Elizabeth’s childhood and youth. I believe she lived with a stepmother, which may have been a difficult experience - or not. She did not learn to read or write during that time, so she probably did not attend school. Perhaps her help was needed at home.

At the age of 17, on April 24, 1870, Elizabeth married Henry C. Meinzen. Henry was 32 at the time of their marriage. With such a wide difference in their ages, I can’t help but wonder how they met and chose to marry. Did they live near each other? Did Henry do some carpentry work for Elizabeth’s father? However they met, Elizabeth began bearing children soon after her marriage. Henry, her first son, was born later in 1870.

In October 1871, Elizabeth became a naturalized citizen when her husband completed the naturalization process. I wonder if there was great joy and jubilation at this event. Did they have a huge celebration or was it a smaller event with just family and friends? Or did it pass so quietly that it was just another day? Did newspapers of the time period list newly naturalized citizens? I’ve never seen them in the papers I’ve searched.

Elizabeth’s second son, William, was born in 1872. On April 29, 1873, Henry bought property on Eighth Street in Steubenville. They must have moved into their new home soon afterward. It would have been there that 11 of Elizabeth’s 15 children were born, including one stillborn infant as well as my grandfather, William Carl Robert, who was born on February 8, 1892. It was also there that she lost her second son, William, to typhoid fever.

I often wonder what those year were like for Elizabeth. I can’t imagine bearing 11 children, one approximately every two years. With a 9-month pregnancy and about 9 months nursing, she was either pregnant or nursing more time than not! How did she manage with little ones at every turn, filling every corner of the house; with continual diapers to wash by hand; with feeding many little mouths? Did she have morning sickness? And what about the cooking? Probably at least some of those years she cooked at a fireplace. I know all of this was common practice for women of that time period but I still think it must have required great fortitude.

I wonder if Elizabeth was a patient mother. Did she have a sense of humor? Wouldn’t you have to have a sense of humor to keep your sanity with so many little ones in your home?! And how did she manage the teenage years with her sons and daughters?! I have so many questions to ask her....

On February 20, 1892, the year that Elizabeth turned 40, she and Henry sold the property on Eighth Street less than two weeks after Elizabeth gave birth to my grandfather. I hope she had help with the packing and moving. I believe they moved south to the New Alexandria area and rented a farm in or near New Alexandria. Elizabeth birthed 4 more children while living on the farm, lost one of them, and saw her oldest son married. Then, on August 8, 1902, Elizabeth bought property at 306 and 308 South Third Street at the corner of South Street, in Steubenville. I think perhaps this was a duplex. City directories of the time indicate that they lived at 306 and had Henry’s confectionery shop at 308 (though sometimes the confectionery is listed at 306 and their home at 308).

By 1906, six of Elizabeth’s children, ranging in age from 6 to 26, were still living at home. Children had started to marry, but by 1911, there were still 5 at home.

What I think of as the sad and troubling years began in 1907. During an 11-year period, accident and illness claimed all but six of Elizabeth’s adult children. She lost Walter, 24, in 1907; Hannah, 35, in 1910; Edward, 31, in 1911; Jacob, 23, in 1917; and Bertha, 29, in 1918. Two sons were killed in grizzly accidents in a mill; one son was lost to suicide; and two daughters were claimed by disease. If all of that wasn't enough, in 1917, the year that she turned 65, Elizabeth learned that she had cancer of the face.

What challenging years those must have been. To mourn the loss of one child would be beyond my understanding, but to lose 5 would seem almost impossible to bear. After losing her second adult child, did she begin to look over her shoulder wondering if death would return and claim more of her family? To know that cancer would eventually claim her appearance and then her life would be a sad reality.

Some of my impressions about Elizabeth based on what I’ve learned are that she was a strong woman, both emotionally and physically. To bear 15 children, raise 12 of them, and lose 9 of them would require both physical strength and emotional fortitude. I think perhaps she was a humble woman, without vanity: she allowed herself to be photographed after the cancer had begun to disfigure her face. I know she was illiterate, but I believe she was intelligent and savvy. She (probably with Henry) managed money well enough to be able to purchase property, one of the purchases in her name. She made a will. She sent her children to school and they all learned to read and write. I think she was much loved. Henry used the endearment Lizzie on one birth record, and at least 3 grandchildren were named Elizabeth (I assume after her).

Maybe I’ve put my great-grandmother Elizabeth on a pedestal - birthing and raising so many children, living with what we consider “primitive” living conditions, and enduring the deaths of 9 of her children. If so, so be it. I’m amazed by her!

There are many things I’d like to learn about my great-grandmother. Here are just a few. I want to know--
--what her favorite color and flower were.
--what she considered the biggest challenge in her life.
--whether she spun, wove, knit, and/or sewed her own and her family’s clothes, and whether she quilted.
--about the voyage from England --packing, land travel, water travel, all of it!
--how she met Henry and how they came to marry.
--whether she liked to sing and if so, whether she had a favorite song.
--what she thinks is the most important thing she learned in life.

I look forward to a time in the future when I’ll be able to sit and visit with my grandmother Elizabeth and ask her some of these questions. I believe I will learn a lot from her.

The year Elizabeth died, she and Henry lived at 1540 Oregon Avenue. Her 11-year-old granddaughter, Edna Hendricks, Hannah’s daughter, was living with them. On the day Elizabeth died, she was living at 1829 Market Street.

Elizabeth passed away on June 26, 1920, in Steubenville, Ohio, at the age of 67 years. She is buried in Union Cemetery, Section Q, Lot 203.

I'm looking forward to meeting the lady I call heroine. I want to thank her.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In the photo above, Henry is the older man holding the pipe. I don't know who the tall lady on the left is. On the other side of Elizabeth is her daughter Isabelle. The three children may be Isabelle's, and the man on the right may be her husband, Benjamin Hashman. In the back from left to right are Lula and Charlie Sticker and George Harris, Mina's husband. Perhaps Mina is taking the photograph.

Elizabeth's obituary was published in "The Steubenville Herald-Star," Monday, June 28, 1920, p. 10.

Jefferson County marriage record for Henry and Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen
1851, 1861 England Census
1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 U.S. Census
Belmont and Jefferson County Probate Court naturalization records of Henry C. Meinzen
Jefferson County, Ohio, property records
Jefferson County, Ohio, birth records
Steubenville city directories, 1906, 1911, 1913
Ohio death certificate for Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen
Union Cemetery interment records
Last will and testament of Elizabeth Meinzen
Obituary of Elizabeth Meinzen

If you want specific sources for any of this information, please ask.

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Creative Nephew Jeff

Jeff drew his own graduation announcement/invitation a number of years ago, made copies, and sent them out to family. I'm sure I received one, but didn't save it. It was fun to find one in the box of photos and ephemera from Aunt Polly. When I told Jeff I had it, he commented that he'd been thinking of it not too long ago and was sorry he hadn't saved one for himself. I told him he could have this one -- but that I wanted to post it here before sending it to him. He agreed. And so here you have Jeff's graduation announcement.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Think Elizabeth's Mother Was Not A Bell

From family records we know that Elizabeth Armitage was ...
...the wife of Henry C. Meinzen (married April 1870)
...the mother of my grandfather, William Carl Robert Meinzen
...the daughter of Abel Armitage, and
...the sister of Ann Armitage

Early in my family history endeavors, Alan H. passed on the information that Elizabeth’s parents were Abel and Ann (Bell) Armitage.

Further research indicated that Elizabeth was born in England and came to America in 1864 (1900 census); and confirmed that her father’s name was Abel Armitage (Ohio death certificate).

The strange thing was that on her death certificate, the space for mother’s name was marked “unknown.” I started to wonder why Elizabeth’s family wouldn’t know her mother’s name if they knew her father’s name, especially since Abel and Ann Armitage, with a number of children, also lived in Steubenville where Elizabeth and Henry lived (1870 and 1880 census).

I found the death certificates for several other of Abel's and Ann’s children and all of them noted Abel as the father and Ann Bell as the mother. If the other children knew both parents’ names, it didn’t make sense to me that Elizabeth wouldn’t know her mother’s name – unless Ann Bell was not her mother. And if Elizabeth and both parents were living in the same city and had all come to the U.S. from England, why would Elizabeth not have told her children (one of whom completed the information on the death certificate) her mother’s name, too -- unless Ann Bell was not her mother?

Not long after I found these bits of information, I learned that the British census records were available online. I checked the 1861 British census, the first in which Elizabeth would have appeared, since she was born in 1852. I found this, lines 2-5:

There’s Elizabeth with Abel, Ann, plus siblings Ann and Peter Bell Armitage living in Trimdon Colliery Villages, Trimdon, Durham, with Abel working as a coal miner. Living beside them are Peter and Isabella Bell with their children. Since the relationship notation for those in the household is “relation to head of family,” I didn’t feel convinced yet that Ann was Elizabeth’s mother.

Next I searched for Abel and family in the 1851 British census, and found this, lines 7-9:

Abel and daughter Ann are there, along with Abel’s wife, Eliza. They are living in Slater’s Square, Bowling, Bradford, Yorkshire, and Abel is working as a rail porter. Is it a stretch for Abel to be a porter in 1851 and a coal miner in 1861? Is it possible that Abel became a widower and married twice?

I requested a birth record for Elizabeth based on the year and quarter she was born with her father Abel as the father. But the record I requested did not have Abel as the father. I read somewhere that in England there was a fee to register a birth. Sometimes if parents didn’t have the money to pay the fee, a birth was registered late and they named a later than actual birth date in order to avoid paying an extra late fee. Perhaps this happened in Elizabeth’s case.

My theory is that Elizabeth’s mother is Eliza and that Eliza passed away sometime between Elizabeth’s birth in August, 1852, and 1858. I have no real evidence yet. I need to find Elizabeth’s birth certificate which should tell me her mother’s given and maiden names (which I hope will be Eliza _____). Then I need to find a death certificate for Elizabeth’s mother and a marriage certificate for Abel and Eliza.

My search continues.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

So Many Ancestors, So Little Time

Family history is not for the faint of heart or feeble of mind. Family historians traipse hither and yon -- not always physically, but always mentally, and sometimes emotionally -- seeking one ancestor or the other, the next place to look, the next scrap of evidence. Sometimes we have nearly nothing to go on. She was in this location one year, but not 5 years later. Where did she go? Where's the next place to look to find her again? What's the next group of records to search? Which other person might lead me to her? Always the mental traipsing. Always trying to solve the mystery of where my ancestor could be; and who her spouse and parents, children and siblings are.

Sometimes I think I need to make a choice: search for ancestors or blog about ancestors, because I think I don’t have time for both. But then I remember that I transcribe and file much of what I find. I type wills, make notes from death certificates, type timelines, and keep track of what I've found in several different ways. It doesn’t take a lot of time to copy and paste into a blog editor, so why not share my findings online with family and others who are interested? I know I need to scan photographs and paper copies, save the images to TIFF files, and store them so I can have them in at least 2 different media sources in 2 different locations. Why not post them? I know other genealogy bloggers may be able to offer suggestions, too. And maybe others searching for my family will find me through this blog.

My challenge is that sometimes I feel the press of so many, many ancestors, and so very little time. Perhaps I should stop the mental traipsing. But then how would I get anywhere?!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sweet Heather

My niece, Heather, is celebrating her birthday today, January 14.

She was about 8 and in 3rd grade when this photograph was taken. She's a few years older than that now, but I'm not going to tell you how many. Don't you love her bright eyes and delightful smile? She was cute then, but she's beautiful now!

Happy Birthday, Heather

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Putting Him to Rest / Oh, the Places I've Searched!

Henry Carl Meinzen. Born 25 July 1837 in Hannover, Prussia, Germany. Worked as carpenter, wagon-maker, laborer, gardener, and confectioner. Husband of Elizabeth Armitage, father of 15 children. Died 30 December 1925 in Steubenville, Ohio. May he rest in peace.

I’m putting Henry Carl Meinzen to rest. Not forever. Just for a while. Not that you won’t read stories and see newspapers articles about him on this blog. But I’m going to take a break from actively searching for him for a while. Perhaps new evidence will come to light in a year or two or three.

Successful Searches
U. S. Census records - Henry C. Meinzen was found in every census year he was in America, each year with a spelling variant of his name.

Naturalization papers - found in Belmont and Jefferson Counties, Ohio

Church records for him and each of his children - found at Zion United Church of Christ, formerly Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. For Henry, only death information was found.

Property records and deeds - found in Jefferson County court records

City directories - found in several different years in Steubenville, Ohio

Local newspapers - on specific dates for births, marriages, and deaths of him and his children. Also general searches on’s newspapers - found his involvement in I.O.O.F and gardening; found articles about several of his children; obituary for him and Elizabeth

Death certificates for him, his wife, and several of his children - found at the Ohio Historical Society Archives and online at

Burial records - found him and the rest of his family and several non-family infants buried on his plot in Union Cemetery, Steubenville, Ohio

Unsuccessful searches
Passenger records - did not find him (though found someone that fits every description except first name)

Will/estate file - as far as I can tell, he didn't have one, though his wife did

Civil War Graves Registration Index - there is a card with his name but I have been unable to find any further information indicating that he served in the Civil War (4 years before his naturalization papers state his arrive in America); no pension applicaton; nor are there any family stories about him having served in the Civil War

IOOF - I know he was a member but two requests for information have gone unanswered

Possible Future Searches
Carpenters' unions, 1870-1910, Jefferson County, Ohio

If you readers have any ideas where else I can/should search, I'd be thrilled for the suggestions. Thanks.

Every Scrap of Evidence

I'm searching for Henry Carl Meinzen's city of birth and his parents' names. Family "sources" indicate that his father's name was Carl and that at the time of Henry's death, he had a brother named Fred living in Germany.

When approaching a brick wall, the genealogy books I've read suggest reviewing every document and piece of paper, just on the chance some bit of evidence has been overlooked. So that's what I've done. And here's what I've found.

Henry's Timeline

1837 Jul 25
Henry Carl Meinzen born in Hannover (1880 census), Prussia (1870 census), Germany (1910 census) (Birth date from certificate of death and Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church records)

1852 Aug 24
Elizabeth Armitage (future wife) born in England (her mother dies after August 1852 & possibly before 1859)

Elizabeth immigrates to U.S. (1900 census)

1866 Jun
Henry, native of Prussia, age 28, immigrates to U.S. (Probate Court record from Belmont County, Ohio. Name as “Heinrich” Meinzen.)

1867 Oct 7 & 8
Henry files Declaration of Intention to become a naturalized citizen in Belmont County, Ohio. "Heinrich" was a native of Prussia, aged 28, immigrated in June 1866. (Probate Court record, Belmont County, Ohio)

1870 Apr 24
Henry & Elizabeth marry (Jefferson County, Ohio, marriage record)

1870 Jul 11
Henry, age 32, works at the railroad; lives in Ward 4, Steubenville (1870 census)

1870 Sep 25
Henry (son) born in Jefferson County, Ohio (age 10 in 1880 census)

Henry lives at 116 South Water Street, is a carpenter (Palmer’s 1871 Steubenville City Directory)

1871 Oct 9
Henry (not Heinrich) becomes naturalized citizen (Received from Probate Court of Jefferson County, Ohio, though the county’s name is not on the paper)

William born (age 8 in 1880 census)

1873 Apr 28
Purchased Lot 32 Morris Second Addition (on N. 8th Street), Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio, from Justin G. and Henrietta S. Morris for $600.00. (He sold the lot in Feb. 1892.)

1875 Feb 13
Hannah born (age 5 in 1880 census; 25, born Feb 1875 in 1900 census)

Henry is carpenter, lives North Eighth above Franklin (Steubenville City Directory, 1875-76)

1879 Mar 5
Edward born (age 1 in 1880 census; 21, born Mar 1879, in 1900 census; 28 in 1910 census)

1880 Jun 9
Henry, 41 years, lives on N. Eight Street, dwelling #251, Steubenville. He is a laborer, born in Hanover. With him are wife Elizabeth, 28 years, Henry, 10; William, 8; Hannah, 5; and Edward, 1 (1880 census)

1880 Aug 28
Isabella Marie (or Marie Isabella) (age 19, born Aug 1880 in 1900 census)

1882 Nov 13
Walter born (age 17, born Nov 1882 on 1900 census)

1885 Jan 26
Wilhelmina born (Minnie, age 15, born Jan 1885 on 1900 census; 25 in 1910 census)

1887 Jan 10
Lula born (Luella, age 13, born Jan 1887 on 1900 census; 23 on 1910 census)

1888 Oct 7
Bertha born (age 11, born Oct 1888 on 1900 census)

1888 Nov 24
William (16 yrs) dies

1891 Jan
Stillborn infant, interred on 23 Jan 1891 (Union Cemetery records)

1892 Feb 8
William Carl Robert born (age 9, born Feb 1891 in 1900 census; 18 years in 1910 census) (Other records give either 1891 or 1892 birth year.)

1892 Feb 20
Sold Lot #32, Morris Second Addition, Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio to John McClave for $850.00. (Henry purchased this property in April 1893 for $600.00.)

1893 Dec 15
Jacob born (age 6, born Dec 1893 in 1900 census; 16 in 1910 census)

1896 Sep 3
Karl (or Carl) Nelson is born (dies on 14 Sep 1896) (Zion E. L. Church records)

1896 Dec 27
Henry (son) & Ella Dray marry

1898 May 22
Naomi born (age 2 years, born May 1898 in 1900 census; 11 in 1910 census)

1898 Oct 15
Henry displays radish (Steubenville Herald-Star, 15 Oct 1898)

1898 Oct 20
Henry’s name appears in news article about Zion Lodge I.O.O.F (Steubenville Herald-Star, 20 Oct 1898)

1900 Jun 12
Henry, 62 years, born Jul 1837, married 30 years, born Germany; immigrated in 1866; is a naturalized citizen; works as gardener; rents a farm; lives in Cross Creek Township (New Alexandria); also in the home are Elizabeth, 47; Hannah, 25; Edward, 21; Isabella, 19; Walter, 17; Minnie, 15; Luella, 13; Bertha, 11; Robert, 9; Jacob, 6; and Naomi, 2 (1900 census)

1901 Nov 20
Isabelle (21 yrs) and Ben Hashman marry

1902 Aug 8
Purchased Lot #2 Stokely’s 1st Addition (306 S. Third Street (previously S. High Street) in Elizabeth’s name from Hanson and Mary Hebron for $3,000.00. (Elizabeth turned 50 and Henry turned 65 in 1902.)

Henry C. and Elizabeth live at 306 S. Third. Henry has a confectionery store at 308 S. Third. Living with them are Bertha; Edward, who works at LaBelle Co; Hannah; Lulu; Mina, and Walter, who also works at Labelle Co. Henry & Elizabeth's son Henry and his wife Ella live at 939 Sixth ave and Henry works at LaBelle I Co. (Steubenville City Directory, 1904-05)

Henry C. & Elizabeth live at 306 S. Third (confectionery at same address); living with them are Bertha, dressmaker; Edward working at LaBelle Iron Works; Hannah; Lulu; Mina; Walter working at LaBelle Iron Works (Steubenville City Directory, 1906)

1906 Jun 28
Walter (23 yrs) and Nellie Leonhart marry

1906 Jul 11
Bertha (17 yrs) and William Henderson marry

1907 Mar 27
Hannah (32 yrs) & John Hendricks marry

1907 May 31
Walter dies (24 yrs) in accident at LaBelle Iron Works

1908 Jan 29
Edna Hendricks (Hannah's daughter) born (age 11 & living with Henry & Elizabeth on 1920 census)

1909 May 27
Zerelda Hendricks (Hannah's daughter) born

1909 or 1910
William O. Henderson (Bertha's son) born

1910 Apr 18
Henry, age 72, born Germany, grocer, married 40 years, lives at House 306 South High Street, Ward 1, Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio. Also living there are Elizabeth, 57; Edward, 28; Wilhelmina, 25; Lula, 23; Robert, 18; Jacob, 16; and Naoma, 11.

1910 Aug 21
Anna Hendricks (Hannah's last daughter) born

1910 Sep 4
Hannah Meinzen Hendricks dies (age 35) (The care of her daughters falls to Henry and Elizabeth and Hannah's sisters.)

Wilhelmina (24-25 yrs) & George Harris marry

Henry C. and Elizabeth live at 308 S. Third (confectionery at same address). Living at 306 are Jacob, works Pope T. P. Co.; Lulu; Mina; Robert, barber (Steubenville City Directory, 1911)

1911 Mar 11
Anna Hendricks (Hannah's youngest daughter) dies at age 6½ months

1911 Nov 11
Edward (31 1/2 yrs) dies

1911 Dec 26
Lula (23 yrs) and Charles Sticker marry

Henry & Elizabeth live at 306 S. Third Street (confectionery shop at 308 S. Third Street). Living with them are Jacob, driver for Loomer & Son; W. C. Robert, barber at 838 Sixth Avenue; and Naomi F. (Steubenville City Directory, 1913)

1914 Sep 8
Robert (22 1/2 yrs) & Emma Bickerstaff marry

Henry and Elizabeth live at 306 S. Third Street (grocery at 308 S. Third). Living with them are Jacob, laborer; Naomi

1916 Sep 2
Naomi (~18 yrs) and Russell Rhome marry

1916 Sep 4
Jacob (22 3/4 yrs) and Sudie Coss marry

Elizabeth (65 yrs) diagnosed with cancer of the face (death certificate)

1917 Sep 12
Jacob (23 3/4 yrs) dies in accident at LaBelle Iron Works

Henry and Elizabeth live at 308 S. Third (confectionery at same address)

1918 May 14
Bertha (29 1/2 yrs) dies

1918 Aug 27 Elizabeth et al. sold Lot #2 Stokely’s 1st Addition (306 S. Third Street) for $3,500.00 to Abel A. Dutz (County Deed Book)

1920 Jan 24
Henry & Elizabeth live at 1540 Oregon Avenue, Steubenville Twp., Steubenville 4th Ward. Henry is 82, no trade/profession [probably retired], owns his property without a mortgage; immigrated in 1866, naturalized in 1871; born Hanover, Germany. Lives with Elizabeth, age 67; and Edna Hendricks, granddaughter, age 11 (1920 census)

1920 Jun 26
Elizabeth (68 yrs) dies at age 67 years, 10 months, 21 days, of cancer of the face; born in England, father is Abel Armitage. (Certificate of death)

1920 Jun 29
Elizabeth buried in Union Cemetery, Section Q, Lot 203 (Union Cemetery records)

1925 Dec 30
Henry (88 yrs) dies (date of death from death certificate; Zion E. L. Church record says date of death was 31 December 1935) Henry’s obituary indicates that he was a carpenter and wagon maker; his father’s name is Carl.

1926 Jan 2
Henry is buried in Union Cemetery, Section Q, Lot 203 (Union Cemetery records)

This timeline was updated on January 29, 2010.

Are We Talking about the Same Ancestor?

I have a somewhat distant cousin who’s researched a Meinzen line.

I spoke with him on the phone a number of years ago when I was just starting research in earnest. He confirmed my information that Henry C. Meinzen was born in Germany in 1837, married Elizabeth Armitage in 1870, and died in 1925.

He said he’d found Henry and 3 of his brothers on a passenger list. He told the story of them traveling toward Indiana when Henry decided to stop and stay in Steubenville, Ohio. He also said that their ship sank in port, and that he’d found information about that event. I was really excited to hear that. And then he said that Henry and his brothers had come to America in 1871.

I was hurriedly taking notes. Afterward, when I reread them, I wondered how that could be! The dates didn’t fit. Did I misunderstand? Did he find someone else’s ancestor and line? Or am I just too inexperienced a researcher?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More Photos from the Box

For anyone new to this blog who doesn't know how it started: I received a box of photos and papers after my estranged aunt passed away. Since family members are not geographically close and don't get together often, I decided to begin a blog so I could post them for the rest of the family to see and claim if they want them. The blog has grown from sharing those photos to sharing my family history research efforts and others' and my own memories. These are Belinda's children and Aunt Dot's grandchildren, Stacey and Michael, in 1977. These are photographs of Doug, Dolly's son and Aunt Jeree's grandson. No years are noted on the photos. These are Rex's children and Aunt Jeree's grandchildren, James and Barbara. And here are Jeree Lee's children, and Aunt Jeree's grandchildren. In the photo of all three, left to right are Sara K., Robert Ray, and Rachel Elizabeth.

With Gratitude

This weekend I received word from Lori Hellmund of Genealogy and Me and Thomas MacEntee of Destination: Austin Family that they had chosen My Ancestors and Me for the Happy 101 Award. Thank you both! What a fun surprise.

When I went to Lori's site to learn more about the award and retrieve the image, it didn't take me long to realize that lots of blogs would receive the award in a very short period of time. I think it takes only about 3 generations for 1000 blogs to receive it! By Saturday evening the 2nd and 3rd generation blogs had already posted their lists. Good things travel fast, especially in the genealogy blogging community.

I'm to tell you 10 things than make me happy:
Having my family together
Accomplishing a goal - finishing a quilt, learning something new, starting a blog....
Finding an ancestor - anywhere! Census, newspaper, death/birth record, anywhere....
Finding the 3rd piece of evidence that corroborates the first two pieces for an ancestor
Sundays of worship and rest
Ice water for breakfast
Snow (though not so much as I grow older)
Sleep, especially when I can sleep in, since I'm not a morning person
My clownish Airedale terrier
Sharing the results of my family history research

I am also to pass this award to 10 other blogs. Here they are:
Who Will Tell Their Story
Random Notes
Shades of the Departed
The Ties That Bind
Blind Pig and the Acorn
Find My Ancestor
The Professional Descendant
Personal Past Meditations - A Genealogical Blog

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Father's Desk

I grew up with my father's oak roll-top desk.  It was HUGE - just bigger than you can imagine!  In fact, it seemed like it was not just a desk, but a presence in our home.  I cannot look at the desk without thinking of my father, and if I think of my father, I usually think of the desk.  Of all the work my father did around our house -- and he did a lot because he repaired everything and could do anything -- I most remember Dad working at the desk.
My father was a foreman at a steel mill.  He worked turns so his hours changed every 5 days.  As a side business he repaired watches and clocks and was a jeweler.  He used this desk for that work.  It was a perfect workspace because the desk had a key.  Dad would unlock the desk and roll it open, leaving the key in the keyhole.  When he closed the desk, he turned the key to lock it, then laid the key on top of the desk.  I guess the key was really only security against little investigative hands.

Such memories I have of this desk!  Dad sat at a short, round piano stool that put his face - and eyes - very close to the work surface of the desk.  He also used jeweler's loupes until he eventually purchased little magnifiers that he attached to the frames of his glasses.  With those, he could move one or two of them down to get proper magnification to see the tiny parts.

In the center of the desk sat a white enamel tray with raised, curved edges where the timepiece he was working on and all its parts laid.  On the sides of the desk were hooks where he hung work to be done and finished work.  There were also slots below those where he could stand some tools, tweezers and such.  To either side of the tray were tools that he couldn't hang, some in stands with holes where he put tiny screwdrivers and pliers.  Sometimes he used a little alcohol burner with flat, triangular sides so that he could rest it on its flat bottom or on one of the sides so the flame would be angled.

Some of the parts for watches were very, very tiny.  I occasionally remember him asking us to help him look for some piece that had dropped.  We really needed to use our x-ray eyes to find some of the pieces - tiny screws a 64th of an inch long or little gears not much larger.

The lower part of the desk had 3 drawers on each side and at the top of the drawers were flat pull-out "trays" (they must have a name but I don't know what it is).  We were to keep out of the drawers - except the middle drawer on the right.  In that drawer my dad kept a cash box, tags, and envelopes.  When we were old enough to help people coming to pick up their items, we opened that drawer to place their money and to make change.  If a person came to drop off repair work, we took out a tag and on the tag we wrote the person's name and phone number, then tied the tag to the item and put it on the desk.  When the item was repaired, Dad put it in one of the envelopes, which also had a space for name and phone number.

There was a regular drawer in the center of the desk.  It was wide and several inches deep.  I think Dad kept tools in it.  He'd also added another drawer below that one which was a wooden frame to which he'd attached fabric around the edges to make a kind of loose, droopy surface.  He used that for larger, lighter weight tools.
On top of the desk in the center was a lamp.  On either side of the lamp were sets of drawers where Dad kept small watch parts.  Except in the lower drawer on the right side chest of drawers he kept a package of Sen-Sen, which he occasionally offered to us, and a nail clipper in a little leather case with a snap on it.  Mom never got out the Sen-Sen (perhaps she didn't like it) but she opened the drawer to get the nail clippers.

The desk was so large that it dwarfed the room in which it sat.  The room was narrow and long and I think the desk took up a quarter or a sixth of the room!

When it came time to move furniture out of my parents' home, my brother and sister announced that the desk would be mine.  I didn't refuse it, but I didn't have a clue where we would put it in our own home.  It was so large - and my husband's and my house was smaller than either of my siblings' homes.  I drove it home in two trips, first the top, then the bottom.  We rearranged furniture and found a home for it.  A few years later we moved to a larger home and the desk now sits in our living room.

When my brother and sister come to visit, we always look at the desk -- and marvel how small it looks.  Was the room where it sat in my parents' home just very small?  Or does our memory of the desk's size stop before we grew to adulthood?

My most recent measurement of the desk indicates that it is 30" deep by 48" wide by 40" high.  How did it get so small?!  And how did it become such a presence?!

You might also enjoy From Inside My Father's Desk.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Susan Holmes Bickerstaff

I'd rather remember family on their birthdays, but since I don't know the date of birth of my great-great-great-grandmother, Susan (sometimes known as Susanna) Holmes Bickerstaff, and I know she died on January 10, 1894, I thought I'd commemorate her life today.

The connection between us goes like this: me -> my mom -> Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen -> Edward Jesse Bickerstaff -> Ellis Bickerstaff -> Susan Holmes (& William) Bickerstaff.

I found Susan through research and the help of Danice Ryan, another Bickerstaff descendant, rather than through any family records or genealogy. I know so very little about her.

She was the mother of 14 known children. Susan's husband, William, passed away in March, 1893, about 10 months before her.

This obituary was published in "The Steubenville Weekly Gazette" on Friday, January 12, 1894.

It reads: "Mrs. Susan Bickerstaff, widow of the later William Bickerstaff, died Wednesday morning at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Mary Kidd, on South Sixth street, aged eighty-five years. She was born in Carroll county, her maiden name being Holmes, and was married to Mr. Bickerstaff in Tuscarawas county in 1829. Nine children survive her: Augustine, Enos, William N., John and Lewis of this city, Ellis of McKeesport, Elizabeth, wife of John Nelson; Mrs. Mary Kidd and Mrs. John Curfman of this city. Her death removes a highly respected Christian woman. Funeral at 2 p.m."

Gramma Susan, if I knew your birthday, I would remember you then. Perhaps one day I'll find it.

A Short Story

A few months ago I happened to borrow a book from the library titled The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike.  I don't usually enjoy short stories too much, so I just leafed through it, thinking I'd return it the next time I went to the library.  I did return it the next time I went, but not until after I read one of the stories.

"Little Selves" by Mary Lerner jumped out at me.  What could this be?  A story about children?  A story about multiple personalities?  It was winner of the best short story of the year in 1916, a year after my mom was born.  So I began reading....  And was enthralled.  I was immediately taken in by the author's Irish-accented dialogs and charmed with the characters.

This story isn't a genealogy story but in my mind it's absolutely connected with the work of family history.

The story begins, "Margaret O'Brien, a great-aunt and seventy-five, knew she was near the end."  Neighbors came to visit and received her attention for 5 or 10 minutes, but she tired of them and they left.  Margaret's niece, Anna Lennan, noticed that Margaret seemed to talk to herself quite a lot.

If I tell you more, I'll spoil the story, but you can read
"Little Selves" online.  It's a brief 15 pages long and won't take more than about 10 minutes to read.

I'll share this quote to entice you:  "Sometimes they seem to be pleading just not to be forgotten...."  Does that sound like family history or what?!

Oh, that my own dear Grandma had been like Margaret O'Brien and I had been like her niece Anna.

If you read it, please tell me what you think.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What I Know about Hannah

Note: There are two previous posts about Hannah if you'd like to read them: Searching for Hannah and Finding Hannah.

Hannah Elizabeth Meinzen was born 13 February 1875, a daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen, in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio. She must have attended school because she learned to read and write.

At the age of 25, on June 12, 1900, she was working as a servant, probably a domestic servant, in the home of Edward and Mame Forbes, a merchant with three children (Hazel, 7; Raymond, 2; and Clarence, 8 months).

When Hannah was about 31, she married John H. Hendricks. By April 26, 1910, at the time of the 1910 census, Hannah and John had been married four years, lived in Island Creek Township, and had two daughters: Edna, 2 years, and another whose name I can't read (though it must have been Zerelda, who was born May 27, 1909), age 1 year. Hannah was pregnant with a third child at the time of the census. She was a member of the Third Presbyterian Church.

Hannah died at home at midnight on Saturday, September 4, 1910, at the age of 35. She had been ill for two weeks following the birth of her third child. The doctor attending her identified the cause of death as "peritonitis due to frequent child bearing" with a contributory cause of "embolism." The infant, Anna Bell, survived (though passed away six months later, on March 11, 1911). Hannah Elizabeth Meinzen Hendricks was buried at Union Cemetery, Steubenville, on 6 September 1910, in her parents' plot, between her brothers Edward and Walter.

Finding Hannah

Note: The previous post, Searching for Hannah, will explain the first part of my efforts to find Hannah.

Then came the Union Cemetery records. Hannah Hendricks was buried on Henry's plot. Her dates were 1875-1910. This meant I should be able to find "Hannah Hendricks" in the Ohio Death Certificate Index. Yes, there was a Hannah Hendricks, 1910 #40481. (Alan said she died in 1907: maybe it wasn't her.) I located and printed the certificate. There was "my" Hannah, born 13 February 1875, died 4 September 1910, whose parents were Henry Meinzen and Elizabeth Armitage. The informant was Harrison Hendricks. Something more to go on. Was Harrison her husband?

Next, I searched the newspapers at the Ohio Historical Society. Since I knew Hannah died in Jefferson County and now knew her name was Hannah Hendricks, and knew her death date, I located "The Steubenville Herald-Star" for her date of death and began looking, page by page, for an obituary or death notice. And there I found it, on page 4 of the September 6, 1910 issue: "Mrs. John Hendricks."

The final step was to look in the 1910 census for John and Hannah Hendricks. There they were, in Island Creek Township with two children, both daughters.
The sequel to this post is What I Know about Hannah.

Searching for Hannah

When I started I knew nothing about Hannah Meinzen except her name and that she was a child of Henry and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen and a brother to my grandfather, William Carl Robert Meinzen.

From the 1880 census I learned that she was born about 1875. From the 1900 census (where she was living at home) I learned that she was born in February 1875. From another listing in another place on the 1900 census, I learned that she was working as a servant at the age of 25 and was still single.

How to learn more about Hannah? Alan H. said Hannah died in 1907 and that Aunt Lula raised Hannah's daughters, Zerelda and Edna Pugh, after Hannah died. In the "busy" conversation with Alan H. he said that "she" married Leonard Fair. I took "she" to mean Hannah. So I searched for Hannah Fair -- and found nothing.

I talked with a Meinzen aunt, the "oldest living Meinzen" I know. She said Aunt Lula raised Zerelda and Aunt Naomi raised Edna, and was positive that Zerelda, not Hannah, married Leonard Fair. Further, she said that Zerelda's first name was Elizabeth, her middle name Zerelda, and that she died in 1997. It was something to go on.

I looked at the SSDI for Elizabeth Fair, thinking that if what my aunt said were true, I might find her there. Sure enough I found Elizabeth Fair in Jefferson County, Ohio, died 15 Aug 1997, born 27 May 1909.

At about this same time I wrote to Union Cemetery and requested a listing of everyone buried on the plot where Henry Meinzen was buried -- hoping for some bit of information about Hannah and other brothers and sisters, including Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen's lost babies.

My next step was to see if I could find Leonard Fair somewhere. I remembered that when I was a child, Zerelda always visited my grandparents with Aunt Lula and Uncle Charlie but her husband never came along. In fact, I thought Zerelda was single. Because of that I guessed that Leonard must have passed away sometime before the mid-1950s. I looked in the Death Certificate Index at the Ohio Historical Society and -- yes! -- found Leonard Fair: 1942 #50581. Maybe it was him, or maybe not.

On the next trip to the OHS I found and printed the death certificate. There they were, Leonard Fair, born 1908, and his widow, Elizabeth Hendricks. (Unusual that it gave her maiden name on a spouse's death certificate.) Maybe this would help me find Hannah. Or maybe not. Elizabeth is a very common name. Perhaps Hendricks was Hannah's married name, or perhaps not....

You can read the rest of the story about Hannah at Finding Hannah and What I Know about Hannah.


About 18 or so years ago I thought I would begin working on family history. I searched out information about several of my grandparents and some information about my great-grandparents. It was at a time before so many resources were online. (In fact, when I began, there was no “online.” The internet hadn’t been invented yet.) It was also a time when I had children at home. After finding these grandparents and asking my mom what she knew about her and Dad's side of the family, I set family history aside for a while.

Then, about 4 or 5 years ago, when I began my family history search in earnest, my first step was to contact any and all living older relatives to find out whether they had any information that would be helpful to me.

On my Meinzen/Armitage side of the family, there were only two I knew who were older than me and my generation: Aunt Dot; and Betty Wilson, Aunt Dot’s cousin and Aunt Mina’s daughter. There was also a cousin of my generation, Alan H., who is one of Aunt Mina’s grandsons.

Aunt Dot answered lots of questions. Betty sent photos, but answered no questions. She told me to contact Alan because he had already done all the Meinzen genealogy.

I wrote to Alan and one Sunday evening he phoned and shared some of the information he’d found in his research. I hurriedly jotted notes as he talked, and inserted questions when I could to clarify. He didn’t share sources and references, but gave names and some dates. For some of the information he gave me, the dates didn’t seem to correlate.

I decided I wanted to be as accurate as possible about my genealogy/family history research. I wanted to know for myself what the records, newspapers, and certificates recorded. I determined that I would search out every possible source and reference for the people in my family and that I would record what and where I'd searched, as well as what I found and didn't find.

The next posts are about one of my searches - finding Hannah Elizabeth Meinzen, daughter of Henry Carl and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen.

You just can’t beat family history for solving real life mysteries!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Uncertainty of Names

This is not about changes in or variant spellings of last names. It’s about changes in given names. It seems that some of my grandfather's siblings’ given names changed during their lives. I don't know if their parents recorded the names at birth and then changed them because they didn’t like them; or if the individuals themselves changed their names when they were adults. I believe the latter is so for at least one of his siblings.

Henry Carl and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen had 15 children. There were 13 known live-born children, one stillbirth, and one child I have been unable to find. Here are 13 of the children and what I've found about their names:

Henry Carl was
Henry on the church confirmation record (1884)
Henry on the 1880 U.S. census (1880)
Henry on marriage records (1896)
Henry Carl in an obituary (1958)
Henry C. in cemetery records (1958)

William was
William in a death notice (1888)
William in cemetery records (1888)

Hannah was
Hannah in the 1880 U.S. census (1880)
Hannah in the 1900 U.S. census (1900)
Hannah E. on marriage records (1907)
Hannah Elizabeth on her death certificate (1910)

Edward was
John Henry Carl in his church birth record (1880)
Edward in the 1880 U.S. census (1880)
Edward in the 1900 U.S. census (1900)
Edward in the 1910 U.S. census (1910)
Edward in his obituary (1911)
Edward J. C. F. on his death certificate (1911)
Edward C. in his cemetery burial record (1911)

Isabella was
Marie Isabel on her county birth record (from a transcription) (1880)
Marie Bellette on her church baptism record (1882)
Belle on her church confirmation record (1896)
Isabella on the 1900 U.S. census (1900)
Isabella E. on 1920 U.S. census (1920)
Isabelle in one obituary (1967)
Isabella in another obituary (1967)

Walter was
Walter on the county birth record (transcription) (1882)
Walter on his church baptism record (1883)
Walter in the 1900 U.S. census (1900)
Walter on his marriage record (1906)
Walter in a news article about his marriage (1906)
Walter in a news article/obituary (1907)
Walter in cemetery records (1907)

William [??] in the county birth records (transcription) (1885)
Minna in the church baptism record (1891)
Minnie in the church confirmation record (1900)
Minnie in the 1900 U.S. census record (1900)
Wilhelmina in the 1910 U.S. census record (1910)
Wilhelmina in her husband’s obituary (1926)
Elizabeth W. a newspaper article about her 100th birthday (1985)
Elizabeth in cemetery records (1986)
Aunt Mina to all her nieces and nephews

Lula was
Lula Bernesa in the county birth record (transcription) (1887)
Lula Bernice in the church baptism record (1891)
Luella in a newspaper article (1899)
Luella in the 1900 U.S. census (1900)
Lula in the 1910 U.S. census (1910)
Lula on marriage documents (1911)
Luella B. in the 1920 U.S. census
Lulu in her husband’s obituary (1960)
Lula B. in an obituary (1979)
Aunt Lula to all her nieces and nephews

Bertha was
Birdie in the county birth record (transcription) (1888)
Bertha in the church baptism record (1891)
Bertha in the 1900 U.S. census (1900)
Bertha on marriage records (1906)
Bertha on her death certificate (1918)

William Carl Robert was
William Carl Robert on the county birth record (1892)
William Carl Robert on his church baptism record (1896)
Robert in the 1900 U.S. census (1900)
Robert in the 1910 U.S. census (1910)
William Carl Robert on marriage documents (1914)
W. C. Robert on his death certificate (1979)
Robert in an obituary (1979)

Jacob was
Jake Carl on county birth record (transcription) (1893)
Jacob Increase on his church baptism record (1896)
Jacob in the 1900 U.S. census (1900)
Jacob in the 1910 U.S. census (1910)
Jacob I. on marriage records (1916)
Jacob on his death certificate (1917)
Jacob I. in an obituary/news article (1917)
Jacob in cemetery records (1917)

Carl Nelson was
Karl Nelson in the church birth and death record (1896)
Carl Nelson in the church birth and death record (transcription) (1896)

Naomi was
Nomi Faye on the county birth record (transcription) (1898)
Naomi Fay on the church baptism record (1900)
Naomi in the 1900 U.S. census (1900)
Naoma in the 1910 U.S. census (1910)
Naoma Faye on marriage records (1916)
Naomi Faye in an obituary (1979)
Aunt Naomi to all of her nieces and nephews

Some of these are obviously variations in spelling. Some are nicknames. Some are reversals of first and middle names. Others are definitely different names. Did the parents change the names? Did the children, as they grew to adulthood, choose and call themselves by different names? I don’t know when the “legality” of names began and when name changes had to be processed through courts, but probably after these changes were made.

With so many given name alterations in this family, it leads me to wonder if my great-grandfather, Henry Carl Meinzen, also changed his name.

From various records and documents, I know that he was born in Hanover/Prussia in 1837, was a carpenter, and came to America in June, 1866. I have been unable to find him on a passenger list, but I found this:

Could Henry and Ernst be the same person?

This is obviously a transcription, but I've seen a scanned image of the original passenger list and this transcription is accurate.

Except for their first names, this information could describe my great-grandfather, Henry C. Meinzen.

Of course I won’t assume they are the same person. But still, I wonder. And I continue to search for more information.

Do you have experiences with first name changes like these? Have you made a connection between a known ancestor and an uncertain name? If so, how did you find the connection?

Friday, January 1, 2010

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