Saturday, April 30, 2011

There's a Story Here but There's No One to Tell It

These look like Meinzen sisters, daughters of Henry Carl and Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen. I think the photo was taken about 1904, a date based on the pouf-fronted waists with narrow sleeves widening to gathered cuffs, and on the two wide bertha collars on the dresses of the lady on the left and the young woman in the front. This photograph was probably taken in the Steubenville area of Jefferson County, Ohio.

Possible Meinzen sisters and their ages in 1904 are Hannah, 29; Belle, 24; Mina, 19; Lula, 17; and Bertha, 16. I think Mina is sitting at the back and Lula is standing. Do they look 19 and 17? I've never seen a photo of Bertha, but the girl in front looks like she could be about 16. The lady on the left: 29 or 24? Hannah or Belle? What do you think? Maybe the fifth sister is the photographer.

I would like to hear the story behind this photo because it seems to me that they've set a scene to remember an event of the day. But what are they doing? The lady who is standing has her foot on a handkerchief on the lap of the lady sitting on the left. Is the sitting lady fixing a hem? Is she buttoning a boot? Why are they in a field, sitting on the grass/weeds, dressed in clothes that are definitely not work or play clothes? Is it a Sunday afternoon outing? Is it a Fourth of July picnic?

Three of them are gazing directly at the camera's lens. Three of them have broad smiles, one a narrower smile. Who told the joke and what was the joke? Who was the photographer? Amateur, probably, considering how off-center the quartet is. And yet, there's an interaction between the women and the photographer, as if all five are part of the story. It looks like they have composed themselves just enough to be still for the photograph or like they will burst into laughter as soon as the camera clicks. I wish someone could share the story with me!

This is another one of those poor photocopies of a photograph from my aunt's papers. I wish I had the original photograph. Not having it, I'm pleased to at least have a photocopy.

This is a Sepia Saturday post. Visit and see what photos others are sharing this week.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Do You Search Systematically Or ...?

When you learn the name of an ancestor you didn't know before, do you proceed to "prove" a relationship in a methodical manner? Or do you search sources as they come to mind? Do you search the most easily available sources first? Or do you have some other method? Do you have a list of sources to search and run through those in the same order every time you search for a new ancestor?

This year I learned the name of the father of one of my g-g-grandmothers. It would be so easy to just add it to my genealogy program and mark him found. But I can't do it. I want to be sure the name is correct and then I want to learn more about him - and his wife and children. The minimum information is, of course, death, marriage, and birth dates and locations, but I really want more - much more - if I can find it.

I nearly always start my searches with census records. If I can find the person on a census or two, I then try to think of every other place I might find more information, including obituaries and newspaper articles; cemetery listings; city/county directories; deeds; wills; church records; etc. I use some of the links on my sidebar to see what other sources might be available for the area where the ancestor lives, and then I continue my search. I use a Genealogical Concept Map to note the results of my searches for at-a-glance information and I use a research log to keep track of where I searched and found the information. I also use a Checklist for Completed Searches to remind me of possible sources and to mark off those already searched.

I don't know that one method of searching for a "new" ancestor is more correct than another but I suspect that some methods might be more efficient than others. I'm wondering how the rest of you approach your searches for possible/probable ancestors you've just discovered. Please share!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

T. Smith - Mount Varnum Cemetery, Washington Township, Butler County, Penna

Am I hot on the trail of Thomas Smith of Butler County, Pennsylvania, who is my ancestor or am I on a wild goose chase tracking down someone else's ancestor? I feel the need to search out every possibility until I find enough information to confirm that this man and his family is or isn't mine.

Yesterday I searched the Butler County Cemetery Inventory to see if I could find Thomas Smith in any of the cemeteries in Parker Township. It seems Parker Twp. had very few cemeteries - and he wasn't in any of them. I decided to look in the listings for cemeteries in the five adjoining townships in Butler County, Pennsylvania.

Washington Township is directly west of Parker Township and Thomas' property in Parker was close to the border between both. The Parker Twp. cemeteries were closer to the center and eastern areas of the township while Mount Varnum Cemetery is on the eastern edge of Washington Township. In fact, the cemetery is almost directly west of Thomas' property as shown in the 1858 Butler County map. In the map to the right, Mt. Varnum Cemetery is slightly below the "T" in Washington. Thomas' property was just across the border from the "N" in Washington. The distance was probably less than 3 miles. I'm sure people in the 19th century were aware of township lines but, as in our day, those lines weren't borders or boundaries that prevented people from shopping, worshipping, and friendshipping outside their townships.

There were several Smith families in the six counties. One family had a series of deaths of young children and as I was copying the information I was thinking how sad for that family to lose so many children. The first child was Martha who died in 1863. Thomas of the 1850 census had a daughter named Martha but I didn't guess any connection to the man who may be my Thomas Smith. But when I came to the next to the last name, it was also Martha who died April 20, 1846, at 40 years, 4 months, and 14 days of age, wife of T. The last name in the group - no name, really, only an initial - was T. Smith who died September 6, 1862, at 69 years, 6 months, 9 days of age. Which puts his birth at February 25, 1793, which is within range for the Thomas Smith of the 1850 census.

Is this my Thomas Smith and members of his family? Thomas of the 1850 census had children named Martha and Nelson living with him and his calculated age was close to this Thomas' calculated age. But some questions arise in my mind. There were children whose parents were "T. B." and "A" and others who were the children of parents with the possible initials of "M." and "S." There was a Martha, "wife of T." Could Thomas/T. have been married twice (of course it's possible!) or are these two different families buried on the same plot? Are initials M. and S. really M. and S. or were they so "faded" that it was only a guess what the initials were?

Below is a transcription (of a transcription!) of the Smith family gravestones in Mount Varnum Cemetery, Washington Township, from the Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Volume I, located on the first page of the Mount Varnum transcriptions.
Smith Martha J - [died] ??-30-1863 - 1/? - Child of M.? & S.?
Smith Infant - Child of M.? & S.?
Smith Nelson - Co. L 14 Pa. Cav. GAR
Smith Lavina - [died] 07-03-1868 - 5[years]/2[months]/22[days] Ch. of T.B.& A.
Smith James E. - [died] 02/20-1856 - -[years]/3[months]/15[days] Ch. of T.B.&A.
Smith Infant - [died] 01-24-1856 - Child of T. B. & A.
Smith Infant - [died] 12-29-1861 - Child of T. B. & A.
Smith Perry - [died] 1856 - Child of T. B. & A.
Smith Martha - [died] 04-20-1846 - 40[years]/4[months]14[days] - Wife of T.
Smith T. - [died]09-06-1862 - 69[years]/6[months]/9[days]

I hope, over time and with more information, I'll be able to confirm (or refute) a connection to this family. If this turns out not to be my family, I'll have plenty of research to share with their descendants!

Previous posts regarding Thomas Smith:
Searching for Thomas Smith, Sr.
The Search for Thomas Smith Continues - 1850 and 1860 Census Records
Neighbors of Thomas Smith, 1850. Neighbors of Henry Smith, 1860
Thomas Smith and 1858 Property Map of Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My great-grandfather, Edward Jesse Bickerstaff, was born 140 years ago today, April 27, 2011, in Jefferson County, Ohio. He and his twin sister, Alice, were the children of Ellis and Emma Nelson Bickerstaff. Alice died less than a month after her birth.

Edward became a half-orphan when his mother died in May, 1878. He'd just barely turned 7.

He married Mary Thompson, became a carpenter, and moved from the Steubenville area to Mineral Ridge, Ohio. He and Mary had 9 children. In the photo to the right he's standing with his son John. Edward died on December 23, 1945.

Happy Birthday, Grampa! I hope everyone you know is celebrating with you!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thomas Smith & 1858 Property Map of Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania

Thomas Smith was alive for the 1850 U.S. Census and possibly for the 1860 U.S. Census. His name appears on an 1858 property map of Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania. This leads me to believe that he was still alive in 1858. The name of Thomas Smith, Jr., probably his son, also appears on the map on adjoining property.

At left is a map of the landowners of Parker Township in 1858. This map comes from the Butler County Genealogical Society where a map of the whole county is available. You can click on the townships to enlarge them and see the names of landowners.

Is this my Thomas Smith or not? I need to look at deeds and wills.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wishing You a Joyful Easter-Tide

A Joyful Easter-Tide

May This Glad
Blessed By Happiness
Find You,
And Set You On A More
Joyous Way,
Than That Which Lies
Behind You.

This postcard is postmarked March, 1913. Though it was not sent from or to any of my ancestors, the date puts it in the time period of my grandparents during their courting years and my great-grandparents when they were a little older.

Happy Easter to you and yours.

Married on a Sunday

My great-grandparents, Henry Carl Meinzen and Elizabeth Armitage, were married 141 years ago on this day, April 24, 1870, in Steubenville, Ohio. That year April 24 also fell on a Sunday. Did they attend church together? Were they married before, during, or after the church service? Did they have any kind of celebration or did they begin their married life quietly with dinner at home alone? I have no information passed down from them, no newspaper article about their marriage, no way to learn more than date, location, and the name of the minister. I wish for more but I'm grateful to have that!

Happy Anniversary, Gramma and Grampa!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Neighbors of Thomas Smith, 1850; Neighbors of Henry Smith, 1860

It seems that my search for Thomas Smith will become a series of posts. (If you want to read previous posts go to "Post Topics" below and click on "Smith.")

I'm searching for Thomas Smith who is the father of Rebecca Smith Bartley, possibly born about 1793, living in Butler County, Pennsylvania. I found a man who could be him in the 1850 U.S. Census living in Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania. I found a man named Henry Smith in the 1860 U.S. Census who was 10 years older than Thomas was in 1850 and had several children with similar names and appropriate ages. Are they the same man?

I don't know how to determine if Thomas of 1850 and Henry of 1860 lived in the same location during those census years. Knowing whether they did or not might help in my search. I decided to look at neighbors of both men in both years. Below I've listed the names recorded before and after Thomas in 1850 and Henry in 1860.

The only name that appears in both 1850 and 1860 is Lewis Daubenspeck. He was 29 in 1850 and 35 in 1860. I don't think this search helped me conclude that Thomas Smith and Henry Smith were living in the same location or are the same man.

I will look at Butler County property maps if I can find them. Are there census maps available that show the boundaries for census records and the routes of census takers?

1850 U.S. Census, Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania in which Thomas Smith appears
written page 720, printed page 362
line 1, Gurner (continued from previous page)
line 5, Archibald Kelly, 32 years
line 7, Charles Cooper, 47 years
line 17, Henry Risch, 35 years
line 21, John Kelly, 54 years
line 28 John Martin, 29 years
line 33, Agnes Hilliard, 62 years
line 36, Rachel Kelly, 56 years
line 41, Lewis Daubenspeck, 29 years

written page 721, printed page 363
line 1, Lewis Daubenspeck (continued)
line 6, John Vensil, 27 years
line 10, Martha Black, 33 years
line 15, James Hilliard, 23 years
line 30, Thomas Smith
line 34, Sarah MaGill, 41 years
line 36, James McMahan, 53 years

written page 722, printed page 364
line 1, James McMahan (continued)
line 3, Harker (?), 44 years
line 11, Thomas Allen, 60 years
line 16, Ebenezer Walley, 34 years
line 22, W. M. Jones, 29 years
line 28, James Alsworth, 40 years
line 36, Jane Robison
line 41, Jacob King (?), 54 years

1860 U.S. Census, Murrinsville Post Office, Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania in which Henry Smith appears

written page 50, printed page 728
line 1, Daubenspeck (continued from previous page)
line 6, Ann Daubenspeck, 74 years
line 8, Lewis Daubenspeck, 35 years
line 15, Daniel Daubenspeck, 29 years
line 19, Wm. Fowler (?), 48 years
line 22, George Daubenspeck, 61 years
line 25, Abraham Daubenspeck, 23 years
line 38, George Rush, 53 years

written page 51, printed page 729
line 1, Christian Hoover
line 8, Robert Wood
line 11, John Hoover, 24 years
line 16, Henry Smith
line 21, John Hoover, 48 years
line 29, George Daubenspeck, 40 years
line 39, Thomas B. Smith, 28 years

written page 52, printed page 730
line 1, Smith (continued from previous page)
line 5, Samuel Moore, 29 years
line 10, Jonathan Mortimore (?), 39 years
line 12, George Boyle/Royle (?)
end of Parker Township

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Search for Thomas Smith Continues - 1850 & 1860 Census Records

Thomas Smith, Sr., was identified as the father of Rebecca Smith Bartley in an article about her golden wedding anniversary. I found a man named Thomas Smith in the 1850 U.S. Census living in Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania. He was 57 years old (therefore born about 1793). Based on names and his age, he could be - but may not be - Rebecca's father. I feel the need to gain more information about Thomas so he can be ruled in or ruled out.

I didn't find Thomas Smith in the 1860 U.S. Census, but Apple from Apple's Tree found Henry Smith, 10 years older Thomas in 1850 and with children of similar names as Thomas. They could (or could not) be the same man.

What to do? I decided to search for Henry Smith in the 1850 census, thinking that if I found him, I could conclude that Thomas and Henry are two different men. (My search assumes - rightly or wrongly - that both men lived in Parker Township in both 1850 and 1860.)

This is what I found in the 1850 census:

in Buffalo, Butler, Pennsylvania:
Henry Smith, age 31 (born about 1819) with
Margaret, age 21
This Henry is too young to be the father of Rebecca Smith Bartley who was born about 1817. This Henry could be a brother....

in Buffalo, Butler, Pennsylvania:
Henry Smith, age 28 (born about 1822) with
Hannah, age 25
Louis, age 3
Smith, age 1
This Henry is also too young to be Rebecca's father but could be a brother.

in Muddy Creek, Butler, Pennsylvania:
Henry Smith, age 27 (born about 1823) living alone
This Henry is too young to be Rebecca's father but could also be a brother.

My conclusions are that Thomas and Henry may be the same man; or, Thomas may have died between 1850 and 1860. If the latter is true, Henry may have moved to Parker Township, Butler County, from another county or state before 1860.

Research continues. I'll share the results of another census search in my next post.

Oh, those Smiths!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Photograph After a Family Argument?

Do you readers enjoy your own old family photographs as much as I enjoy mine even when they're not great photographs? This very poor image came to me as an 8-by-10 black and white photocopy. Who knows how large the original photograph was, perhaps 2 x 3 or maybe 4 x 5 inches. What you see is a scan of the photocopy.

Despite the lack of clarity in the image I think it has some redeeming qualities. Foremost for me is the expressions on the faces of some of the people in the photo.

Would you say there's been a little argument in the family? The man with the moustache is my great-grandfather, Henry Meinzen. His expression seems tolerant but not at peace. The woman behind and slightly to the left of him is my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen. With her hair pulled tightly back from her face she would probably look severe even with a smile, but there's no smile and her expression is positively sour. The younger man on the left in the front also seems to have a sour expression. And now look at the pouty face of the young woman on the back row, left.

What happened just before this photo was taken? There's not a person alive now who remembers that day, and as far as I know, no memory was recorded on paper to tell the story. But I suspect there was some kind of argument between the pouty-faced young woman, the man in front of her, and Gramma Elizabeth.

I've been puzzling over the identities of the people in this photo for several years now. By looking at some other old family photographs I was finally able to determine that the man on the left is Henry and Elizabeth's oldest son, Henry, born in 1870. I can only guess at the rest.... Perhaps the young woman behind him is his wife. I suspect that the others are Henry's and Elizabeth's younger children. They had 15, born between 1870 and 1899.

I discovered the photograph to the left in my grandmother's album. My aunt identified the women, from left to right (by faces), as Edna Hendricks Pugh; Naomi Meinzen Rhome; Lula Meinzen Sticker; Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen; Beatrice or Mildred Meinzen (daughter of the younger Henry Meinzen); Mina Meinzen Harris; and (probably) Nellie Hashman. Naomi, Lula, and Mina are Henry & Elizabeth's daughters; Emma is a daughter-in-law; and the others are granddaughters.

Looking at this photo, I was struck by the similarity of Beatrice/Mildred to the pouty-faced young woman in the first photo. Are they the same person or mother and daughter?

It's possible (but probably not likely) that a descendant of Henry (the younger) will come forward and identify the woman with the pout. I can only hope.... Maybe I'll be able to determine more approximate dates of both photographs based on the clothing, which may help me guess the individuals in the first photo. Until I can do that, I'll just enjoy what I know and imagine what I don't.

This is a Sepia Saturday post. If you enjoy looking at and reading about old photographs, go visit.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Andrew Doyle, 1836-1908

Andrew Doyle, also known as James Andrew Doyle, is my great-great-grandfather. Today is his 175th birthday. I hope he's celebrating with everyone he ever knew in this world!

Andrew was born in Northumberland, England; immigrated to Mercer County, Pennsylvania, in 1869; and died in Stoneboro, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Below is a copy of his death certificate and a transcription.

File No. 68730
County of Mercer
Registration District No. 698
Borough of Stoneboro....

FULL NAME Andrew Doyle

SEX Male
DATE OF BIRTH Apr 13, 1836
AGE 72 years, 3 months, 10 days. WIDOWED, MARRIED.... Married BIRTHPLACE England OCCUPATION Grocerman
(Informant) Mrs. H. H. Campbell
(Address) Franklin, Pa.
Filed: July 24, 1908
[Illegible signature], Registrar.

(Month) July (Day)23 (Year) 1908....
I attended deceased from Mar 1 1908 to July 23 1908 that I last saw him alive on July 23 1908 and that death occurred, on the date stated above at 5:30 P.M....
The CAUSE OF DEATH was as below Intestinal Obstruction
Contributory Adhesive Peritonitis
(Signed) H B Mead [signature], M.D.
July 24 1908
(Address) Stoneboro
DATE OF BURIAL July 26, 1908
ADDRESS Stoneboro, Pa

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Time to Say "Thank You!"

Several weeks ago I wrote a post about Thomas Smith, one of my great-grandfathers, and the difficulty of finding a man with such a common name in the 1800s. (Wouldn't it be worse today?!) I'd found him in the 1850 U.S. Census but not in the 1860 U.S. Census, which led me to believe he'd died between those years (which is still a posibility). At the end of the post, because I still feel like a novice at family history, I mentioned how grateful I'd be for suggestions of how to proceed with my search and where to search next.

Two fellow GeneaBloggers left comments for me: Claudia of Claudia's Genealogy Blog suggested I look at neighboring counties in Pennsylvania. Thank you, Claudia. I have not yet looked but I will. Apple of Apple's Tree wrote that she'd found Henry Smith, the same age as Thomas, also with children Nelson and Rosan, in the 1860 census in the same township and county in Pennsylvania and told me the census page number. Thank you, Apple.

I suspect she searched for the less common name, Nelson Smith, to locate this family. The lightbulb would probably have eventually turned on in my brain and I would have thought to do it, but the process was so much quicker with Apple's help.

Aren't GeneaBloggers wonderful?! Sometimes we're new, inexperienced, don't know where to look, or just have a temporarily dim bulb, and another geneablogger comes to the rescue with a census record, a newspaper article, a link to a new place to search, or just a different way of looking at the problem. Sometimes a brief comment causes us to turn our thoughts a different way which leads to a solution or breakthrough. Other times, someone might share how he/she solved a similar problem. All of this confirms to me the importance of comments when we visit others' blogs and the help, support, and encouragement we give to each other.

Thank you, Claudia and Apple, and everyone else who comes, reads, and comments here at My Ancestors and Me. I do truly appreciate it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Celebrating Their Anniversary

My sister and brother-in-law, Marsha and Chuck, were married on April 10, 1965, and are celebrating an anniversary today.

In this photo, taken in 1968, they were dressed in costume for a party. Their twins were already two and I probably babysat the evening they went to this party.

I hope you have a pleasant anniversary and a fabulous year! Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Woven Generations

"Family history matters. Searching for connections. Preserving stories. Picking up the threads that tie us to the past. All these illuminate the importance of individuals, bring generations together, and help weave the fabric of humankind."

Poor Wayfaring Stranger

I am a poor wayfaring stranger traveling through this world of woe.
But there's no sickness, toil nor danger in that bright land to which I go.
I'm going there to see my father. I'm going there no more to roam.
I'm just a going over Jordan. I'm just a going over home.

I know dark clouds will gather round me. I know my way is rough and steep;
And yet green pastures lie before me, and God's redeemed no more shall weep.
I'm going there to see my mother. She said she'd meet me when I come.
I'm just a going over Jordan. I'm just a going over home.

I'm going there to see my Savior, to sing his praise forevermore.
I'm just a going over Jordan. I'm just a going over home.
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