Most of my ancestors were poorer than dirt . . .and few made it past elementary school.
My sister, who shares my interest in genealogy, and I are trying to find another Revolutionary Patriot. We are obviously in D.A.R. We’ve been researching Margaret Brinkerhoff. She was the daughter of Hendrick Brinkerhoff and Annetje Vreeland. Margaret was born in New Jersey in approximately 1787. She somehow met and ran off with William Wallace and they were married in Trinity Church, an Episcopalian Parish, in 1801. Her family were all members of the Dutch Reformed Church and this may have caused a family rift. If you have visited the site of the World Trade Center Towers or visited the Wall Street area, that is the church they were married in.
This old postcard is not of the original church. The original church was destroyed in a fire, which started in the Fighting Cocks Tavern and destroyed nearly 500 buildings and houses and left thousands of New Yorkers homeless. Six days later, most of the city’s volunteer firemen followed General Washington north.
But back to my relatives. When you hit a brick wall in genealogy, you go back and try researching lesser players, i.e., children of the people you are researching and their relatives. I was searching obituaries today on genealogybank.com to see if I could find out more about Margaret Brinkerhoff and William Wallace.
One of their daughters, Mary Wallace, married Isaac Lewis. Mary Wallace was born in 1810 in New York City and Isaac Lewis was born in 1807 in Stratford, Connecticut. Mary died on 17 Nov 1891. Isaac Lewis died on 2 Feb 1892.
But, wow! When I started reading his obituary and finding newspaper articles about him, I saw that he was an extremely wealthy man. OK. . .OK, I confess, he isn’t exactly a relative, but he was the husband of my third great aunt on the Wallace side. So I actually still have struck out on having any wealthy ancestors and only have inebriates, coal miners and the slightly deranged. Sigh.
Below is what can be found now at 107 East 13th Street, NY, NY. This address was printed in his obituary.
After I found the obituary for Isaac, I found a notice of the sale of his real estate. “The following private sale is reported: Ascher Weinstein has bought nos. 105 and 107 East Fifteenth St. between Union Square and Irving Place. . . .This is part of the estate of Isaac Lewis”
This area is now part of New York University (NYU), and 107 East 15th Street is where the The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute is located. And all of this is near my very favorite book store in the entire world — The Strand, which is located at 828 East 12th Street, NYC. No visit to NYC is complete without a trip to The Strand.
But it gets better. Isaac Lewis was a big investor in the “L”. It isn’t the “L” subway line that we know now, but a road to Brooklyn. My daughter and her husband bought their condo in Brooklyn precisely to be close to the “L” subway. The L subway is a straight shot into Manhattan. It is so much faster and easier than a car or a cab. And, voila!, you can get off right in Union Square (where Isaac Lewis lived) and visit The Strand. And, even better, by living in Brooklyn, they get a tiny bit of outdoor space. Which is a rare commodity in NYC and Brooklyn.
It kind of makes you wonder about DNA and retained genetic knowledge. I have loved The Strand since I first set foot in it. And my daughter loves the L so much that she moved close to a station in Brooklyn. Strange!
I am going to attach three parts of different articles detailing Isaac Lewis’ interest in the L and the bridges to Brooklyn. Please note that another gentleman named was Senator McCarren. He has a park named for him close to where my daughter and her family lives.
I love all things genealogical. This (in my opinion) includes old newspaper articles, family trees, memoirs, histories, cemeteries and last (but not least) obituaries. For a lot of us who aren’t particularly religious, death is scary in its finality. I can only hope to live on in my good deeds, my offspring, or the occasional joke I’ve told. Or even better, the ridiculous things I have done. More people are remembered by their mishaps than the good they bestowed upon their fellow man. Poor Bill Clinton — will be remembered by an anecdote involving a cigar.
Enough said. Below is a collection of obituaries that I culled today from online sources, including “Google” and http://www.genealogybank.com
If you google “humerous gravestones” or “funny headstones”, or something similar, you will see that a lot of people planned on leaving one last joke behind when they died. I applaud them! Might as well add some levity to a sad occasion. I have taken the liberty of copying some of the best ones and posting them.
I’m still tracing my Pennsylvania coal mining roots. The Engle family and the Thomas family joined when Charles F. Engle and Anna May Thomas married in 1897. They were married in Taylor, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. The Engles were originally from Germany and the Thomas family was from Wales. Anna’s father’s John Thomas had to sign for her as she was underage. Charles Frederick Engle was my biological great grandfather, born in Pennsylvania in 1874. Anna May Thomas was my biological great grandmother, born in Pennsylvania in 1879.
I’ve had a hard time trying to trace the Thomas side because their names were so common. I found them all listed on the 1880 Federal Census.
Please note that the father, John, was a coal miner. My Great Grandmother, Anna Thomas Engle, is 9 months old at the time of the census.
If you think all of the old documents were this easy to read, please think again. All of the original records were hand written. Patient volunteers have generously given their time and skills to index the records and to make them digitally available.
Below is what the original 1880 Federal Census shows for the Thomas Family.
I have tried to trace the family forward, but the 1890 Federal Census was destroyed in a fire in Washington, D.C. in 1921. The first I can find the family again was in the 1900 census. I found Anna and Charles Engle (married) and Anna’s sister, Gwennie, living with them. I also found William. I haven’t been able to find the parents, John and Mary, or the boy James.
Something brought me back to the 1880 census and I noticed that James was listed as working in the mines. Because I couldn’t find him again in the 1900 census, I wondered if something had happened to him.
The mine accident reports have all been digitized and are easy to find on the internet. I did a quick search and found a listing for a James Thomas, age 14, who died in an 1884 mine accident. I can’t be positive that this is my relative, but the ages fit. His age was listed as 9 in the 1880 census and his age was listed as 14 in the 1884 report — he may have had a birthday.
I will keep searching to find out if this is the same James Thomas. I defy anyone to say that they had a crappy childhood in comparison to these little kids working underground in the mines.
I urge everyone to take up genealogy because it is an easy and personal way to learn history. The stories become your stories and mean more because it happened to your family.
R.I.P. little James Thomas.
I haven’t posted anything lately because I am waiting for a bunch of my biological Engle family death certificates to arrive from the state of Pennsylvania. The copies are only $3.00 each, but the wait time is months & months. They are probably hoping that you’ll lost interest and tell them never mind before they get around to making the copies.
Anyway, I have a few mysteries that I hope to solve by receiving these certificates. My 2nd great grandfather, George W. Engle, was born in Pennsylvania. In every census I can find about George W., it states that both his mother and father were born in Germany. I have found a George Engle born in Scranton, Pennsylvania that was the son of Louis and Philipena Engle and the dates match. Louis and Philipena Engle both came to Pennsylvania from Germany. I have sent for George W. Engle’s death certificate in hopes that it will list his parents names, as most death certificates do. Louis was a German butcher, oh my.
Another mystery is that my great grandfather’s brother Robert was paralyzed. I found this information on the 1910 US Federal census that says “unable to work, is paralyzed”. I found a newspaper clipping about a Robert Engle who died in 1914.
I wonder if this is the same Robert Engle, who was paralyzed? The death certificate should show if he belongs to the George W. Engle family and if so, why did he die of exposure? Did someone leave this paralyzed man out in the elements? Like leaving a useless relative on an ice flow? Maybe none of this has any validity, but I am waiting for Robert Engle’s death certificate to see if this is the same Robert, as his age fits and he was from Scranton.
I did receive Anna Thomas Engle’s death certificate yesterday from a fabulous researcher, Maryann Bacsik, from New Jersey. If you ever need a record from New Jersey, this is the woman you need to contact. New Jersey records are very difficult to obtain because none of them are online. Thank you, Maryann!
Anna Thomas Engle’s parents were born in Wales. John J. Thomas came to the United States to find a better life and, voila, ended up back in the coal mines. Bet he said, more than once, just shoot me now. I haven’t been able to trace John J & Mary Thomas because John & Mary Thomas from Wales is like . . .John & Mary Smith from the U.S. But, I haven’t given up yet.
Another mystery — poor great grandmother Anna tripped on a curb in New Jersey and then dies from pneumonia. She had to have already been sick when she fell (?). To make matters worse, her husband Charles F. Engle, remarries on Oct. 17 of the same year. I realize that men hate to be alone, but from July 13 to October 17 isn’t a very long time.
I really don’t care if my husband should remarry, if I precede him in death, but I only request that he not bring a date to my funeral.
Back to Anna May Thomas, whose parents were from Wales. I love dark and gloomy Wales. I spent a couple of months (once upon a time) in Wrexham, Wales, which is only about 12 miles from Chester, England (another very favorite city). The Welsh language is fantastic because all of the city names look like if you fell asleep at the computer, and when your head hits the keyboard, it spelled out the Welsh city names.
My favorite singer of all times is Tom Jones. Thanks to my great grandma Anna’s genes! Tom was born Thomas John Woodward in Treforest, Pontypridd in South Wales. He father was a coal miner. Once when Gil, my husband, and I were staying in Swansea, Wales, we came down to the breakfast room only to hear Tom Jones’ fabulous voice blaring through the speakers. My heart stood still!
I once talked my daughter into patronizing her poor old Mom into attending a Tom Jones concert in Last Vegas. She agreed to attend. But when I threatened to fling my big girl panties towards the stage she said something like, “you are so dead”. So I behaved myself and enjoyed Tom as he truly is a fabulous performer.
And by the way, he isn’t dead. I just googled “is Tom Jones dead?” and I received the answer, of course not you silly goose! He has been married now for 55 years to Linda. And from the looks of this photo, he isn’t packing potatoes or sweat socks into his shorts as some gossip tabloids have alleged.
Tom has finally accepted his senior statemanship. And at the age of 71, and as Sir Tom, he’s quietly changed his image from swivel-hipped sex god to elder statesman of pop. He’s let his dyed hair grow out to its natural grey, and with matching beard, he looks exactly what he is: a rather cool grandfather and devoted family man.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2142603/How-Tom-Jones-stayed-married-55-years-He-admits-There-things-missus-just-dont-talk-about.html#ixzz2Uun4KHoE
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This is the village in Wales from Tom was born.
I was searching for newspaper articles this afternoon (my most favorite hobby) when I saw that genealogybank.com had finally added the archives from The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri. I did a quick search for “Joseph J. Bernstein”, aka “Jack”, and several articles about his capture and release from the Japanese prisoner of war camp came up.
Without further ado, I will add them to tell the story of Jack. If you need any more background, please refer back to the post that I published on Nov. 11, 2012 about Jack Bernstein, in honor of Veteran’s Day.
And Jack and Florence marry. Love conquers all.
Before I get started, I need to say that these three died in the years 1922, 1935 and 1948. And that I didn’t know them. I only discovered how they died by reading newspaper clippings and ordering copies of their death certificates while researching my family tree.
To get into the mood for this post, I suggest you click on the link below and listen to Alfred Hitchcock’s album, “Music to be Murdered by”.
Don’t worry — this is a free site. Once you are on the site, click on the audio button and you can hear the entire album, once again, for free. Below is a list of the tracks, and I must add that it is quite humorous. But, I have a macabre sense of humor. Like they say, “what doesn’t kill you only postpones the inevitable”.
1. I’ll Never Smile Again
2. I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You
3. After You’ve Gone
4. Alfred Hitchcock Television Theme
6. Body and Soul
7. Lover Come Back to Me
8. I’ll Walk Alone
9. The Hour of Parting
I’ve already written about Olivette Engle in an earlier post dated February 25, 2013. She was shot to death by her deranged husband who had been gassed during World War I. The cause of death on her death certificate is “perforating bullet, wound of chest and skull”. Olivette is from my paternal side of the family.
The other two ancestors who were killed were Roy Britt and his brother William C. Britt. The Britt brothers were the sons of John Franklin Britt and Margaret Jane Strain Britt of Eufaula, Alabama. And brothers to my maternal grandfather, John Mansel Britt. Roy was born in 1892 and William was born in 1894. Both had served in WWI just like Olivette Engle’s deranged husband. Roy and William are from my maternal side of the family.
These three Britt boys must have been quite the characters in Eufaula. My grandfather and Roy both left Alabama to work in New Jersey during and after WWI. John Mansel and Roy married girls from New Jersey, but ended up returning to Alabama without their wives. They never got divorced, but they also never got back together with their wives. As far as I can tell, William C. Britt never married.
I can only guess that the brothers had some status in Alabama and could rely on their father’s name whereas New Jersey was probably a very foreign environment. They ditched the North and returned to the South. Eufaula is a lovely town with beautiful antebellum homes and a nice slow pace.
William was killed first in 1935. I am going to post a newspaper clipping about his death, but first I need to add a disclaimer. It was written in the South in 1935 and I apologize for the article’s racist tone.
I don’t know where William’s gas station was in Eufaula, AL, but the photo above is an actual abandoned filling station in Eufaula. I found this photo in the Library of Congress Archives, and to give credit where credit is due, the web connection to this print is http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.08369
Roy was killed in 1948. He had lived in New Jersey for a short time and married Melda Zitzner. Melda Z. Britt stayed on in New Jersey and died in 1986. She never remarried even though Roy died years before.
I haven’t found out why Roy got into an argument or why it lead to his murder. But I have found some interesting information about soft drinks and the South.
The article below is copied from the Wikipedia article, “The Culture of the South”.
Many of the most popular American soft drinks today originated in the South (Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Big Red, Royal Crown Cola and its related Nehi products and Dr Pepper). In many parts of Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Texas and other parts of the South, the term “soft drink” or “soda” is discarded in favor of “Coke”. Some people use the term “co-cola” when ordering a soft drink. In most restaurants, when someone orders “coke” or “co-cola”, it is understood to bring whatever brand of cola the establishment offers.
Reading old newspapers online is what I call great entertainment. Our newspapers now are very cautious about what they print due to our litigious society. The old newspapers were more like our modern day “Globe” or “Enquirer”, with the exception that Photo Shop hadn’t been invented yet.
The article below wouldn’t have made the newspaper now because no coroner would want to be labeled this inept.
Below is a bizarre rhyming obituary for a baby. Would any newspaper now print that little Jerry died from dysentery? Or old man Fancher died from cancer? There have been some improvements in the press.
The following would be a cheery addition to the “Weddings” section of the paper.
Below is An Honest Obituary from 1916.
And finally, some very unusual causes of death found in various old newspapers.