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 had guessed that George W. Engle’s father was Louis and that his mother was Philipine, but couldn’t prove it. Yesterday I received George’s death certificate, and even though it is hard to read, it definitely lists Louis as his father. His son, Peter, was the informant. Peter didn’t know his father’s birthday so he lists his age as about 60. His date of death was September 3, 1915.
You can learn so much from a death certificate. I had no idea where George Engle might have been buried, but his death certificate lists Washburn Cemetery, Scranton, Pennsylvania as the site.
I also received his wife’s death certificate at the same time. Her name was Martha Carey Engle. Martha lived longer than George and died on May 25, 1928. Their son Peter was also the informant on her death certificate. And she was buried in Washburn Cemetery also.
http://www.findagrave.com had no record of their burials, so I added their names as being buried at Washburn Cemetery. I did some fact finding about Washburn Cemetery. Washburn Cemetery is the site for the burials of some of the victims of the Avondale Mine Disaster. The cemetery has fallen into terrible disrepair and neglect. The Genealogical Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania has been working on doing much needed repairs. I applaud their efforts!
I copied the text below from the Genealogical Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s site —
The Avondale Mine disaster of September 6, 1869 united a region that consisted of anthracite coal mining cities and towns. Although there were most likely remembrances held subsequent to 1869, the first two in recent memory to honor the 110 men and boys took place in 1994 and 2005.
The 1994 remembrance was conducted by various Welsh organizations and included placement of a memorial plaque honoring the men and boys inside the entrance to Washburn Street Cemetery in West Scranton. This event was followed by a two-day remembrance on September 10 and 11, 2005 at the Avondale Mine site in Plymouth and at Washburn Street Cemetery.
From 2005 to the present much has been accomplished. At Washburn, grave markers were restored and a remembrance plaque was installed near the men’s and boys’ graves where spring bulbs were planted. Near the mine site in Plymouth a Commonwealth roadside marker reminds visitors and commuters of the disaster that occurred nearby.
Our most recent endeavor involved raising funds for the removal of two dead trees located near the men’s and boys’ Washburn resting places. The trees were removed on April 22, 2013.
As part of our continuing efforts to improve conditions around the gravesites, projects include, but are not limited to, placement of a memorial bench, installation of a Civil War remembrance in honor of the Avondale men who fought in that war and are interred at Washburn, as well as purchase of summer flowers and additional spring bulbs that will enhance the Avondale section of Washburn.
Contributions to help cover the costs of these and other projects are being sought. Any amount is greatly appreciated. Checks and/or money orders can be made payable to Avondale Restoration Project and sent to:
Avondale Restoration Project
c/o Linda Scott
514 Old Colony Rd
South Abington Twp., PA 18411
I googled to find out who has the Washburn Cemetery Records and found the answer at rootsweb. The records are held by the offices of the Rader Insurance Co., in Scranton.
Among the early interments on this plot were 69 victims of the Sept. 9, 1869, Avondale disaster, a mine breaker which caught fire just south of Plymouth, PA; 17 of these names are identified in the source one LDS list. Up until the 1930’s an entrance existed on the east side of the cemetery from Filmore street. As with many other cemeteries, ownership has changed hands several times, additional land purchased for expansion, and problems have resulted from some of these changes – lack of maintenance is but one. Official records are held by the offices of the Rader Insurance Co., Scranton, and are organized by plot owner. This office also handles Abington Hills and Shady Lane cemeteries.
Below are some photographs I found on the internet showing the condition of Washburn Cemetery. The photos are from the Facebook page titled “Clean Up the Washburn Street Cemetery”. If you are on Facebook, you can see more photos. Thank you to the person or persons who took these photos.
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.
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.
I love finding old newspaper articles about ancestors. I can’t promise that these articles pertain to my ancestors, but I can prove that each of the articles are about people who have the same Engle surname and a first name of one of my ancestors. But Engle was a very common surname in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
I’ve recently been doing a lot of research on the paternal biological side of my family (the Engle side). I haven’t found when they arrived or entered the United States, but I have discovered that most of them came from the coal mining region around Scranton (Lackawanna County) Pennsylvania. And many of them were coal miners or worked in some capacity for the mines. And they married coal miner’s daughters. A lot of these “in-laws” were miners who came from Wales looking for a better life . . .and ended up working in the mines anyway.
I haven’t found the exact documents yet to prove when the Engle family first arrived, but several census documents say that George W. Engle’s father was born in Germany.
George W. Engle is my 2nd Great Grandfather, born 1849 in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania
and his son was —
Charles Frederick Engle is my Great Grandfather, born 1874 in Peckville, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania
and his son was —
Charles Frederick Engle, Jr. is my Grandfather, born 1899 in Taylor, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania
and his son was —
my biological father, William Leonard Engle, born 1919 in Montana.
Charles F. Engle, Jr. (grandfather) switched from being a coal miner to being a wildcatter during the oil boom days. And that explains why my father was born in Montana.
I don’t have a lot of information about my biological father’s family, so I have been slowly working backward from my father’s records to his father, etc.
It is always surprising when you find an early death or an interesting newspaper article about one of your relatives. Today I found that Olivette Engle, my paternal Great Aunt (sister to my paternal grandfather) was murdered by her 2nd husband Frank Wesley Johnson. And she wasn’t divorced from her first husband, Joseph G. Crum.
Olivette Engle was born on 7 Nov 1901 in Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania to Charles F. Engle & Anna Thomas Engle. She was one of six Engle children. The family moved to Union, Broome County, New York at some point between 1910 and 1920. The 1910 U.S. Federal Census shows them living in Taylor, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. And the 1920 U.S. Federal Census has them living in Union, New York.
Both of my biological parents are dead. I wish I had met one of them to hear the story of how they met, why Grace Britt took the train to Kansas City to give birth to me and much more. The one thing that I know they had in common was drinking. Unfortunately, it was also the cause of both of their deaths.
My bio. father, Bill Engle, was born on April 1, 1919 in Montana and died on December 27, 1966 in Bay Head, NJ. I’ve talked to my 1/2 brother and 1/2 sister on the Engle side and, although they didn’t know that I existed, they weren’t terribly surprised. Their (& my) father was an avid horseman and polo player. He could even ride a horse standing on its’ back. Bill was a pilot, was in the Masonic Lodge and a character. His son volunteered to have his autosomal DNA tested. I had already had my DNA tested at http://www.familytreedna.com and the test proved our 1/2 sibling relationship.
When Grace met Bill, he was married and had a family. Whether she knew about his family or learned about it later, I’ll never know. Bill’s wife has also passed away. If she was alive, I’d never write this in a post. But it certainly explains Grace’s going to Kansas City on the train. Men aren’t always honest and, as the saying goes, “all is fair in love and war”.
Bill Engle was a military man and served in both WWII and the Korean War. During Korea, he was in the armored tank division and was hit by a tank tread. After coming back to New Jersey, he started a successful real estate agency called “Town & Country”.
I wish I knew more about him as he was a character. It was his wish to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Below is a photo of Bill Engle taken from a Graceland College yearbook.