Monday, May 31, 2010

Student Nurse, Registered Nurse

She saved an article about Jane Delano, nurse, from the March 10, 1934, issue of The Girls’ Companion and, years later, when compiling a scrapbook about her years in nurses’ training, she placed it at the top of the first page. Audrey Meinzen’s gaze was directed toward nursing and perhaps she thought of Jane Delano as a role model or heroine. Audrey was the first among her mother and known foremothers to further her education beyond high school in a formal setting.

Audrey, my mother, commented about her childhood in a “grandmother’s book” written for her granddaughter, Holly, that at home she “assumed more responsibility for helping because I was the eldest of four daughters.” After graduating from Mineral Ridge High School in June, 1933, she entered the nurses’ training program at Warren City Hospital. How her parents must have scrimped and saved for her to be able to take such a step, especially during the depression years of the United States. What independence and freedom she must have felt when she moved those 8 miles from the bosom of family to the nurses’ home, where her only responsibilities were herself, her studies, and patient care in the hospital.

With only 12 students, her class was a small one. She became fast friends with a number of the other young ladies. Though she shared no memories of the work and studies of a student nurse, nor memories of her experiences, her classes must have included such subjects as anatomy, physiology, pathology, patient care, charting, etc. During that time period student nurses spent time at other hospitals to learn specific aspects of nursing, such as psychiatry, pediatrics, etc. Audrey saved postcards addressed to her at Cleveland City Hospital, though there’s no record of that hospital’s specialty, nor information about rotations at other hospitals.

The student nurses lived in the nurses’ home, a dormitory-like environment. There were strict expectations of behavior including curfews. Weekend curfew was midnight, weeknight curfew was sometimes as early as 8:00 p.m. During the time she was a nursing student, Audrey met her future husband, Lee Doyle. She indicated that he didn’t appreciate the early weeknight curfew. She told him there was studying to be done and early mornings. Missing a curfew meant being grounded for a certain period of time. Mom never indicated that she'd been grounded, but then she never indicated that she hadn't, either.

The Supervisor of Nurses at Warren City Hospital was Gernie Yoder. It seems her responsibilities included training or overseeing the training of the student nurses. She must have written to the out-of-town “girls” on a regular basis to keep them up to date on requirements and activities. Audrey saved one of her letters.

One aspect of nursing in the 1930s that I remember my mother talking about was the uniform. Students wore striped dresses with white bib aprons, registered nurses wore crisp white dresses. Students wore black shoes and stockings and all wore a starched-to-cardboard-stiffness cap. Ribbons on the cap were added or changed as the nurse progressed from student to graduate. The group photo of the nursing students, above, shows them in striped dresses with no ribbons on their caps. The photo of Audrey at the top of this post shows her with a striped dress and a narrow ribbon. In her graduation photo, below, she wears a white dress and a wide ribbon. Her cap is long gone, but Audrey saved both black velvet ribbons.

Commencement exercises for the Warren City Hospital School of Nursing were on Friday evening, September 10, 1937. Audrey saved her diploma, printed on heavy parchment, secured by ribbon corners inside a leather folder. She also saved several copies of the graduation program. What pleasure and joy, what a sense of accomplishment she must have felt to have achieved what she set out to do.

The graduates, besides my mother, included Mary Cott Barnes, Gertrude Cunningham, Betty Jane Daugherty, Thelma E. Franks, Ruth Eleanor Haas, Clela Marguerite Huggins, Cora Louise MacDonald, Mary Eleanor McClellan, Leona Marie Paine, Pauline V. Rose, and Verlinda Jean Smith.

The sequence of events after graduation is unclear. Her state registration document was dated April, 1938. In September of that same year, she married Lee Doyle. We know that she worked at Warren City Hospital for a time because she saved a letter received in response to her resignation in November, 1938, signed by Miss Gernie Yoder. By the time of her resignation she was pregnant with her first child.

She never returned to formal work as a nurse. I don’t know if she and my father agreed that she would be a homemaker, wife, and mother, or if it was my father’s preference. I believe he always felt that the husband should be the provider in a family and the wife the homemaker and mother. Audrey continued a limited use of her nursing skills on her husband and children, and to some extent, other family members. But sometimes I wonder if, in later years, my mother wished she’d continued the profession of nurse, working outside the home at least part time.

Though she was the first of her mother and known foremothers to obtain further education, she and my father, with only an 8th grade education, ensured that their children’s education didn’t stop with high school. And all of the grandchildren have furthered their education in some way. No doubt, the expectation will continue for future generations. Her desire to learn never ceased: she was a life-long learner with an interest in many and varied topics. I think this is a legacy she passed to her children, who will pass it on to future generations.

After Note
My mom, Audrey, compiled her scrapbook sometime during the 1970s, as evidenced by the thick, bright orange yarn tied through the sides of the pages. Having grown up during the depression, she practiced frugality all her life: she used construction paper for the pages of her scrapbook. I doubt she ever gave a thought to the term archival, and, indeed, perhaps she never thought her scrapbook would be of any interest to her children.

This post will be a participant in the 94th Carnival of Genealogy: The Changing Role of Women. You can learn more about the Carnival of Genealogy at footnoteMaven and also at Creative Gene where across the top of her blog you will see several COG tabs.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remembering, Honoring, Thanking

Today I am remembering and honoring those who served our nation in order to protect our freedoms. I mourn for those who served and lost their lives and for their families.  I also mourn for those who minds and bodies were damaged as a result of their experiences serving our nation.  Thank you.
To family members who served, David D., William Dray, Andrew Bickerstaff, and Ellis Bickerstaff, I say thank you.

The photo above shows a few soldiers' graves at Greenlawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Audrey & Lee, Leona & Tux

These photos were taken in 1937, whereabouts unknown. My father, Lee Doyle, had moved from Stoneboro, Pennsylvania, to Warren, Ohio in 1933. A year or two later he met my mother, Audrey Meinzen, on a blind date arranged by a friend of his. They began dating steadily.

My mother was in nurses' training until September, 1937. One of her classmates was Leona Paine, who was dating Earl Tuxford, known as Tux. They're pictured to the right with Lee and Audrey on the left.

The two couples double dated. From a scrapbook Mom compiled it seems possible that they took weekend jaunts to various locations around Ohio and neighboring states.

Mom wrote that she received a camera from Dad's cousin and her husband when she graduated from nurses' training. I don't know if that camera was used for these photos or not. It's very possible since for many years afterward, the photos in her album are of similar size. I don't think either of my parents were very great photographers: her photo album is filled with slightly out-of-focus and/or blurred images. I'm sure she kept them because they were the only ones she had. (Don't you love digital cameras?!)

Lee and Audrey married in September, 1938. Leona and Tux also married, though I don't know when.

I love these photos of my parents. I love the possessive and loving way in which my father's arms circle or rest on my mother. It makes me smile to know that they had times of happiness when they were younger. The years seemed to bring struggles and challenges that took a toll on their joy.

The photo to the left was taken on the back porch of their house in Mineral Ridge - the one they lived in the rest of their lives. They had already had a son several years earlier and in this photo Mom was probably pregnant with a daughter, born in 1943. And they're still smiling.

Don't you love the way my mom used ball point pen to write on the photos! Who knew about archival anything 30 years ago?!

Do you have photographs of your parents taken while they were courting and/or during the early years of their marriage?

This is a
Sepia Saturday post. I encourage you to view the posts offered by others.

Monday, May 24, 2010


With genealogy on the brain, no matter what I read genealogy - or at least family - seems to pop up.

The following comes from The Aristocrat by Conrad Richter. The main character is Miss Alexandria, an 80-something, single, great-aunt to Hope. They are discussing the relatives of the man Hope chooses to marry.

“.... You’ll have to live with them, you know.”

“Oh, I’m not afraid of getting along with relatives, Alexandria. People like me.”

“People, yes. God made people. But poor bungling man makes relatives and nearly always regrets it.”

This conversation made me chuckle. How about you?

Do you know how your ancestors felt about their relatives? I don't know but I have my suspicions about the in-laws in at least one marriage.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Two Bits

Mineral Ridge, Ohio, had just one barber and that barber was my grandfather, William Carl Robert Meinzen -- or Bob Meinzen to the adults who knew him. His daughter, Audrey, remembered that he had set up shop in 3 different buildings during the years that he was a barber in the Ridge. I remember only the last location, pictured above, on Main Street across from the high school.

Grampa worked long hours at the shop. He opened in the morning and remained there past dinnertime, into the evenings. He carried his lunch with him when he left in the morning, but Gramma always made dinner. When the grandchildren were old enough, one (or sometimes two) of them carried it to him hot and he ate it at the shop every night. From Gramma’s house, they walked up Furnace Street, turned left onto Main Street, and walked about two blocks. To me, carrying Grampa’s dinner was a great responsibility, a sign of trust conferred upon the grandchildren, and almost a rite of passage. Unfortunately, Grampa retired before I was old enough to have the joy of taking his dinner to him.

In the early years, before washing machines were easily available, Gramma washed by hand and hung to dry all of the towels and aprons for the barber shop. What a lot of laundry that must have been! I’m sure that one or both of them cleaned the shop, too.

I don’t remember Grampa’s exact method of cutting hair, though I believe he used a comb to raise the hair, then scissored off what was above the comb. It seems that there was one style of haircut in those days: short. The boys and men in the family had Grampa cut their hair. The girls went to Grampa only (and not willingly) on the rare occasions in which there was no money for a “beautician” or in an emergency. For me that emergency happened when I was about 5 or 6 and my sister persuaded me that she could give me a great haircut. It didn’t go so well and I was to be sent to Grampa for a haircut. However much I didn’t want to go, there was no way out. Despite the pleading cautions to Grampa not to cut my hair too short, it didn’t go so well with him, either. It grew back.

His accouterments of barbering included scissors, of course, plus razors and leather straps to sharpen them; water, shampoo, towels; shaving mugs and brushes. What else? I can’t remember, though I’m sure there were other instruments. I really didn’t spend much time at Grampa’s shop nor was I observant of his tools. I don’t remember a sign or a barber pole in front of the shop, but there were large front windows which gave a great view to the school and its playground and lots of light for his work.

Grampa learned barbering while a young man living in Steubenville with his parents, Henry and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen. As far as I can remember, no one ever mentioned where he learned the trade. A search of Steubenville city directories of the time reveals no barbering schools, so perhaps it was through an apprenticeship that he learned. He was first listed as a barber in the 1911 city directory, at which time he would have been 18 or 19. In 1913 he was a barber working at 838 Sixth Avenue, Steubenville, listed as the shop of George Leo. By 1916 he was married with one daughter and was a barber at the shop of D. Herlinger in Warren, Ohio. The family moved to Mineral Ridge between 1918 and 1921 and he set up shop there.

I did not really appreciate this photograph until I scanned it and was able to view it enlarged several times. It was interesting to see the Spartan wall decorations: all of 4 advertising calendars and a painting of a horse! I always wondered what year the photo was taken. Now I know not only the year but the month, too.

I had forgotten that Grampa wore a tie and dress shirt to work. Looking at the photo also reminded me of how Grampa always rolled his sleeves up to the inside instead of the outside. It makes sense to do it that way: hair fell away and stayed at the shop instead of into the fold to travel home with him.

I have to wonder about the conversations at the barber shop, especially considering that Grampa didn’t really talk much. What were the topics of the day during those years? The U. S. was not yet at war, but no doubt there was discussion of what was happening in Europe. Did other topics include sports? Local news? Were his customers primarily from the Ridge or did men travel from other areas because they liked his haircuts? It looks like there’s a radio on the table at the back left. I wonder if it was tuned to a music station or if there were talk radio stations at that time. I wish I could jump back in time....

Oh, I almost forgot. Grampa did charge two bits, though I think by the time he retired the price for a haircut (without a shave) had gone up to four bits.

I hope one or several of the grandchildren will chime in on the comments to add the details I’ve missed or improve the accuracy of my memory.

Do you have barber shop memories or relatives who were barbers?

This is a Sepia Saturday post. I invite you to view other contributors' posts to Sepia Saturday.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bob

I love this photo of my older brother, Bob. It was taken about 6 years before I was born and during the year that my sister, Marsha, was born - at least so says the date Mom wrote on the border of the print.

Could this be a 4th birthday photo of Bob with our mom or was it taken later in the summer? If it was a birthday photo, I'd say it was not yet a happy birthday if the look on his face tells us anything.

When I was a child, there were 2 people I sensed I could always count on: Gramma Meinzen and Bob. Though he sometimes tickled and teased me, there was a constancy about both him and Gramma: I knew they loved me.

Happy Birthday, Bob! I hope you have a great day. I love you.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Audrey and Her Sisters

This is a photograph of my mother, Audrey Meinzen, and 2 of her 3 sisters. Youngest sister Polly was not yet born.

Audrey is the oldest child in this photograph. She was born on June 5, 1915. Geraldine, wearing the black coat, was born on November 7, 1918. Baby Girl was born in July, 1921.

Based on the approximate age of Baby Girl, I would guess this photograph was taken in the spring of 1922. Audrey would have been 6 going on 7. Geraldine would have been 3 plus a few months. And Baby Girl would have been about 8 months old. Despite Audrey's apparent confidence in holding Baby Girl, she looks like a heavy load for her sister.

This is an interesting photograph to me. I always wonder why Audrey wears stockings and a short-sleeved dress with no coat or hat, while Geraldine is wearing not only a coat but also a hat; and Baby Girl is bundled up to nearly double her size.

These girls are the daughters of William Carl Robert "Bob" and Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen. They lived in Warren, Ohio, for a while and then moved to Mineral Ridge, Ohio. The photo could have been taken in either of those locations or in the Steubenville area of Jefferson County, Ohio.

My mother rarely talked about her childhood other than sharing an occasional, specific memory. How I wish for more.

This is a
Sepia Saturday post. I encourage you to take a look at the photographs and stories others have posted.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Elvira's Birthday

I'm remembering that my Great-grandmother, Elvira Bartley Gerner, pictured above with her daughter Mabel, was born on this day in 1854, in Bruin, Butler County, Pennsylvania.

She is the daughter of Dixon and Rebecca (Smith) Bartley.

She is the wife of Frederick K. Gerner.

She is the mother of 16 children, including my grandmother, Beulah Gerner Doyle.

She is the grandmother and great-grandmother of more individuals than I have identified.

Happy Birthday, Gramma.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Walter and Nellie

As a bride on June 28, 1906, Nellie Leonhart was gowned in white Persian lawn trimmed with lace. Her dress would probably have had a silhouette like the one to the right - Gibson Girl style with poufed front, narrow waist, and bustle in the back. Nellie was 21 when she married Walter Meinzen, my grandfather's brother. They were married at 4:00 in the afternoon in Steubenville, Ohio, at the home of Nellie's parents, Louis and Anna Mary Leonhart.

I think it's interesting that Walter's sister, Mina, was the bridesmaid, and Nellie's brother, Phil, was the best man. Had siblings been friends with siblings for a while? Mina and Nellie were about the same age. Perhaps they were friends and Mina introduced Nellie to her brother. Or perhaps Walter and Phil were friends, and Phil introduced Walter to his sister.

With only 25 at the home for the wedding supper, it seems a small wedding, probably with family and close intimate friends. Walter's family alone, parents and 10 siblings, could have accounted for 12 of the attendees.

Walter and Nellie went to Columbus for their wedding journey. I wonder whether they travelled by train or by car, and if by car, what kind. And how long did the trip take? In today's cars with today's roads, it's a 3 to 4-hour drive. Because they went on to Youngstown after their wedding trip, they probably took wedding gifts and other necessities to furnish an apartment with them.

As a
stationary engineer in Youngstown, Walter would have been an operator of a boiler or some power plant, perhaps for a factory in Youngstown. He probably worked long hours with little time off.

Walter and Nellie remained in Youngstown less than a year. By May of 1907, they had returned to Steubenville and Walter was working at the LaBelle Iron Works, again as an engineer, with little time off and an irregular schedule. They'd been married less than a year. Were they still getting to know each other well, still settling into married life?

Less than a year after their marriage tragedy struck! An unusual accident. The first of its kind. A box around a spindle broke off, which sometimes happened. But this time, the spindle also flew off. And Walter was dead.

It is the news no wife ever wants to hear, and perhaps the worst news a young bride could ever hear.

My heart grieves for Walter, Nellie, and Walter's family. Poor Nellie. I especially grieve for Walter's mother, Elizabeth, who had already lost 4 of her 15 children. Little did she know what the future would hold for her son, Jacob, who also lost his life at the LaBelle factory.

Walter's next youngest sibling was Mina. His next youngest brothers were my grandfather, W. C. Robert, age 14; and Jacob, age 13, at the time of Walter's death. My grandfather, 24 when Jacob was killed in another accident, never spoke about any of his brothers. As I learn about the history of their family, I can see that he would not want to recollect the tragic accidents and deaths.

Newspaper articles tell us that Walter was well-liked and had many friends. He was a member of the Knights of the Golden Eagle, who published a tribute in his honor.

Walter was born on November 13, 1883, and died on May 31, 1907. He was just over 23 1/2 years old.

How I wish he had had the opportunity to continue his marriage with Nellie, have children, and grow old with her.

Nellie eventually remarried and had children. She passed away in 1969.

Walter and Nellie, you are remembered.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Knights of the Golden Eagle

My great-uncle, Walter Meinzen, was a member of the Knights of the Golden Eagle, as were several of his half-uncles, in the early 1900s. I learned about the organization when I noticed that "KGE" was mentioned in their obituaries. I began searching to see what organization KGE represented.

I guessed it was a fraternal organization of some kind and found "Knights of the Golden Eagle" listed in several of the Steubenville, Ohio, city directories of the time. It told the days, time, and location of meetings.

Next I searched the catalog of the Ohio Archives Library at the Ohio Historical Society and learned that it has an undated catalogue of uniforms and paraphernalia manufactured by The M. C. Lilley & Co., in Columbus, Ohio, for the Knights of the Golden Eagle. It seems that Lilley & Co. began making swords in 1865 and then expanded its product line to include uniforms and other accoutrements for various organizations.

The catalogue (cover and one page below) has illustrations and price lists for its items for sale. It would have been interesting to photocopy and post the whole catalog because it had some pretty unusual looking garb in addition to what's pictured below. Looking through the catalogue I wondered what kind of organization this could possibly be. It all seemed so strange.

I decided to see what other information I could find.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania shares the following information about the Knights of the Golden Eagle:

"Founded in 1873 by John Emory Burbage, the Knights of the Golden Eagle is a fraternal organization with rituals based on those of the crusaders. Members pass through three stages: pilgrim, knight, and crusader. In addition to giving moral and intellectual guidance, the society provided relief to sick or unemployed members and gave survivor benefits to widows and orphans. In 1900 the Knights of the Golden Eagle had approximately 20,000 members and functioned in twenty states. The society's motto is 'Fidelity, Valor, and Honor,' and rituals reflect the emphasis placed on the word of the Bible."

The Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library devotes a section of its website to the
Knights of the Golden Eagle. There you can see photographs of two young men in their uniforms and learn more about the organization.

Do you have an ancestor who belonged to the Knights of the Golden Eagle?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Meinzen Confectionery

This little German-American man is Henry Carl Meinzen, my great-grandfather. He came to the United States in 1866 when he was 28 years old. It seems that he spent the rest of his life in and around Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio. He married Elizabeth Armitage in 1870, and they had 15 children.

Though a carpenter and wagon-maker by trade, Henry didn't allow that to limit his employment. Census records and city directories list him not only as carpenter but also as railroad worker, laborer, gardener, and grocer.

In August 1902 Henry bought a building at 306 & 308 S. Third Street (previously S. High Street) and opened a store. My mother called it a tobacco shop, but the city directories of the time list it as a confectionery and/or a grocery. For the next 16 years, Henry was a shopkeeper. In 1917, Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer of the face, and in 1918 Henry sold the property. In the place where the building stood during Henry's time now stands a gas station.

To the right is a copy of a poor photograph - the only one available - of the inside of the store. However poor it is, I'm grateful to have it because it tells me something about my grandparents. For a time Henry's family lived in both sides of the building - Henry and Elizabeth on the store side and several of their young adult children on the other side. It seems that later, when their children were gone, they used one side for their home and the other side for the store.

I assume, possibly wrongly, that the top photo, above, is of the outside of the shop. If that's so, then the building probably had two storefronts and one became an "apartment."

In looking at this photo, I notice

  • the length and narrowness of the shop. Henry was not taller than 5' 5" and probably shorter. That would make this room about 10 to 12 feet wide, and much longer.
  • the wallpaper with its large print. It seems like the shelves on the right are open at the back because the wallpaper shows through.
  • the matching wallpaper border along the tops of the two walls.
  • the tidiness of the room, especially behind the curtain. Look at that shiny linoleum in the living area.
  • the curtain with its tassels dividing the shop from the living area.
  • the rocker facing the front of the building. Did Henry take his ease there when no customers were in the store?
  • the cold air grate on the left side of the floor. Was the building's heat from a coal furnace?
  • what appears to be a calendar on the front left side of the photo. It looks like the kind with a large number for each day. I can see a "4" but not month or year.
I wish the photograph were clear enough to see labels on the items on the shelves and in the cases. I wish someone had saved Henry's books and ledgers. I wish I could personally look at the items he had for sale. And what I wish most is that I could jump back in time for just a day so I could walk into his store, look around, and visit with him and my g-grandmother for a while.

If I could do that, what would I find and learn? Would the store smell of fresh pipe tobacco? Was there penny candy for sale, since it was a confectionery? What other items did he sell? What hours was the shop open? Who were his customers? Did he greet his customers with a smile? Did he give credit? I have a lot of questions for my g-grandfather when I finally meet him!

Do you have an ancestor who was a shopkeeper or store owner? If so, what do you know about the shop or store?

I invite you to view others' Sepia Saturday posts.

Lydia's Birthday

My great-great-grandmother Lydia Bell was born on this day in 1851 in Jefferson County, Ohio. She married John Thompson on September 23, 1872. Together they had 11 children, 9 of whom have been found.

I have no photographs of Lydia, no stories, no ancedotes, no memories shared by others to help me piece together an image or life story of Lydia. I wish I did. Is it possible that I'll find another descendant who's grandmother shared memories of her? One can always hope.

Happy Birthday, Gramma Lydia.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I Searched for Her and I Found Me

Talkative Friend called the other day and as conversations go, ours meandered from one topic to another. She mentioned that she'd lost track of a friend and wondered how she could find her. By her own admission, Talkative Friend is not computer savvy. I told her there are search engines online that sometimes give the phone numbers and addresses of people. I was going to look up her friend for her, but the names of the people finder search engines didn't come to mind before the conversation meandered again.

After we finished our conversation, I realized that I didn't have Talkative Friend's phone number because she'd moved and, at about the same time, remembered that
pipl was one of the search engines I'd used. I went to pipl and typed in her name. I quickly scrolled down the results and then promptly forgot about finding her phone number when I realized that pipl finds not only living people but also dead people. It finds ancestors! Or, better said, it finds links to ancestors.

I immediately typed in the name of one of my ancestors. She was there in several records at
ancestry and familysearch, in a list of archives, on webpages, and in blog posts. I was very excited -- until I realized that I'd found my own blog posts about my ancestor. Of course I was disappointed that no one else was blogging about her. However, when I searched for several other ancestors I found links to websites where their names were.

Maybe, if others mention your ancestors in their blogs or have them on webpages or in databases, pipl can help you connect with others. It's possible you may find another source for your ancestor that's new to you.

On the other hand, maybe you will search for him/her and find you.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Common, Uncommon. Too Many, Too Few.

While searching online tonight I've been thinking about the names of some of my ancestors and about my efforts to find them in time and place.

I have some ancestors who have really common names: John Thompson, Emma Nelson, Rebecca Smith, Robert Laws.... You don't find just one or two, you find hundreds. Too many when you just need the one. But the challenge is, of course, to find the right one in the right place, whose age and spouse and children are the right ones. It's too bad the parents of these children didn't think about giving them unusual first names. I think it would be so much easier to find Ebenezer Thompson, Clotilda Nelson, Portia Smith, or Wenceslas Laws....

I have another group of ancestors whose names have pronunciation and spelling variations: Bell or Beall; Bartley or Barclay; Bickerstaff or Biggerstaff - and probably other variations as well. With this group it helps that most of the variations are on the same page if I'm searching an index of transcriptions. And I thank their parents for the less common first names.

Another group of ancestors has surnames that are less common: Fred Gerner, Henry Meinzen, John Froman. With this group I find that the alternate spellings are broad and varied. Gerner appears as Griner, Garner, Gurner, etc. Meinzen can be found as Minsen, Minzin, Mincin, and so forth. And Froman is spelled Fromman, Fromann, Frohman, and Frohmann. Thank goodness for the wonderful inventions of the soundex code and computer searches which automatically pull up many of the variations. Still, the ancestors in this group don't just magically appear. In fact, with this group - these three in particular - it seems that their trails end with them. I know they have parents. I just don't know - yet! - who and where they were.

My last group of ancestors combines a common and an uncommon name: Abel Armitage; Dixon Bartley; Augustine Bickerstaff. Unusual first name, not too common last name. Perhaps one would think that this would be the easiest group to find. But it just isn't so. Sometimes I can search on the first name only if I know the location where the ancestor last was and should probably be a few years later, but that doesn't always produce the records of the ancestor in question. These are the individuals for whom too few records appear.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. I love my ancestors' names just as they are. And I enjoy the search. My aging brain appreciates the workout it gets putting two and two together to determine spouses and children - families. My brain likes the challenge of trying to think of the next place to search. Heck, what fun would genealogy and family history be if all the names and dates of my ancestors were handed to me with no effort on my part? And really, with only about 4 years of searching, I've been able to find my grandparents and their families - siblings and children. I've discovered who all of my great-grandparents are and found many of their siblings and children. I know the names of 10 of my great-great-grandparents and some of their siblings. And I've found 12 of my g-g-g-grandparents and information about some of their family members. That's a lot of people to find in just over 4 years.

Common or uncommon; too many or too few. I'll eventually find them all.

What about you? Do you have search challenges because of the names of your ancestors?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Too Good Not to Share

Have you ever found a blog you just didn't want to leave? Maybe just in case it wouldn't be there the next time you tried to go to it? Or perhaps there was so much of interest that you just couldn't tear yourself away? Or maybe the photographs were so fabulous that you just wanted to keep looking?

I could hardly tear myself away from
Sepia Saturday to write this post. But I like it so much that I wanted to share it. Every Saturday there is one post on the blog, but there are links to others who also post an image and a story from their family history at their own blogs. It's almost like a weekly carnival, but simpler.

This is what the bloggers of Sepia Saturday say about the blog:

"Launched by Alan Burnett and Kat Mortensen in 2009, Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind (they don't have to be sepia) become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, all we ask is that you sign up to the weekly Linky List, that you try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and that you have fun."

And fun it is! Alan usually posts a photo of his own and then highlights another blogger's photo and post. For anyone who likes to look at old photographs and read about them, this is a great blog. Go take a look. Join in if you feel like it. You can do it easily by adding a link to your post in the little box at the end of the most recent post.

I'm too late to participate this week, but I plan to post in upcoming weeks.

Thank you, Alan and Kat, for this great blog.

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