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
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 made another trip to the Andover Antique Mall to check out my favorite booth of old photos and postcards. If you live in the Wichita, KS area and haven’t been to this antique mall, you must check it out. It is also a great stop if you have guests in town and run out of other shopping venues.
First up are two photos of young people with strange raccoon eyes. These kids are scarey. Perhaps they were so thin that their eyes look abnormally large. Or maybe they weren’t well. Anyway, these are wonderful additions to my old photo collection.
The people in the old photos I find are always thin. Food wasn’t as plentiful as it is now and some of the photos were taken during the depression. Plus they didn’t have the vast assortment of Ding Dongs, cookies, Cheetos, etc. that grace our present day grocery shelves. I finally found a photo of a chubby couple. And I must say, especially the Mrs., they look fat and happy.
The next photo was taken in 1938 and is of a sweet little girl on the occasion of her First Communion. It is so sad that most of the photos I find have no names or places written on them. Remember to always write names and dates on the back of your photos so you and your relatives will be able to identify who is in them.
Below is a photo from 1921 titled “Everts Family”. I don’t know where they lived, but the man on the far right has on overalls and the woman next to him looks like Granny Clampitt, so maybe they lived on a farm.
The couple on the couch in the next photo may be celebrating the Holidays in some fashion. The date on the photo is January 1960, but doesn’t say anything else. The man taking the photo is reflected in the mirror behind them.
Hazel Palmer is the subject of the photo below. I wish I knew more about her. I love her hair and she has a sweet expression.
No clue as to what the next couple is doing. On the back is written, “isn’t this good of the clothes line? Nearly strung up – eh? what? Note the big toes clinging fearfully to the shoulders, ha”. And I also don’t have any idea what that meant either!
I didn’t realize men had comb overs this long ago, but the wind certainly has his hair standing on end. Taken at a beach.
This couple will be fashionable forever. They look so sporty in their summer attire — sort of like an early version of a Ralph Lauren ad.
And last, some twins. This photo is of Richard and Russell Lahm (twins) and their little brother Arthur, Jr. Taken about 1930. And including their dog.
The Kelley grandkids may remember the stone schoolhouse on the next corner down from Granny’s house on Mansfield Street. It had a playground and we used to go over there when we were visiting Granny. It is now the home to the Cowley County Historical Society Museum.
This is their web site — http://www.cchsm.com/home
The Cowley County Historical Society Museum is housed in one of Winfield’s original schools built in 1886. The native stone building and its historical displays keep local history alive and available to the people.
I emailed the historical society today and asked how I could get a copy of Dr. Kelley’s obituary and they emailed a copy back very quickly. Many thanks to Shawn at the Cowley County Historical Society! That is the fastest response to a genealogical question I have ever received.
I have also wondered why Forrest and Mary Kelley ended up in Winfield. In a book (that is online) titled “The Cowley County Heritage Book”, I found that Dr. Kelley bought Dr. Rall’s general medical practice and I bet that is why they ended up living in Winfield.
This piece is actually about the Ralls family, but tells how Dr. F.A. Kelley took over Dr. Ralls’ practice. The section on delivering babies sounds like the same stories I heard from Mom about her father.
The ironic thing is that the Ralls returned to Winfield and lived on the corner across the street from Granny on Mansfield. The Ralls and the Kelleys were great friends.
The first home of Dr. & Mrs. Ralls was on Fuller Street. About a year later they built a house at 801 East Eleventh. In 1910 Dr. Ralls realized he could not keep up physically with the night work required of general practice. Dr. F.A. Kelley took over this practice, while Dr. Ralls and his wife and children went to New Orleans and Chicago where he again entered medical schools to practice eye, ear, nose, & throat. Thinking he would not return to Winfield, he had sold his home on Eleventh. He bought the family’s present home at 922 Mansfield.
Dr. Ralls retired from practice in early 1965. The next months were spend driving around the back roads in this part of the county. He loved pointing out who had lived at this or that place, that he had attended a birth at this or that place, and had slept on the kitchen floor awaiting the birth. The standard obstetrical fee was (hopefully) $10. Often it was paid with chickens, vegetables, eggs, or most anything else available.
Traveling to these rural areas was done by horse and buggy, if the roads were reasonably dry. If not, the trip might be made to the Tisdale area by hand car on the tracks, a farmer perhaps meeting him with a horse.
Granny’s stone house seemed like a mini castle to me as a child. It doesn’t seem as big these days. It had a mysterious basement that was actually just a dirt cellar. On the front porch, someone had carved a likeness of their dog into the stone. It was probably carved by one of the masons or the builder. I remember hearing that the house was a “Caton” stone house. There are many beautiful buildings and bridges in Winfield made out of this native stone.
This is the link to the official Winfield site and a slideshow titled “Historic and Caton Homes”.
The Kelleys were staunch Presbyterians. Tim and I were christened at Granny’s house probably in 1951.
Below is a photo of my family with Dr. Jackson, formerly of the First Presbyterian Church in Winfield. Dr. Jackson officiated at the service.
Below is a photo of Granny with the newly christened grandchildren. Granny is holding Joe’s arm still to keep him from launching a plane at the cameraman.
I included this photo of Joe on a pony in front of Granny’s house to show the native stone work. Joe must have been pleased by the pony because he is actually sitting still for this photo.
Above right is a photo of Grandfather Kelley with Granny
The Beginnings of the Moreland Family
Above is a photo of John landing an airplane in Granny’s back yard.
Little Baby John
Aunt Harriett with her Niece Susan
Margaret Kelley studied at Columbia University in NY for her Master’s Degree. While she was there, Earl Page stopped (either coming or going) during WWII. It looks like they are at the Empire State Building in NYC.
John with his Everloving Aunt Harriett
We live near an antique mall that has a booth dedicated to old postcards, magazines and snapshots. I enjoy looking though the boxes and picking out a few photos or postcards when the mood strikes me. I only like the photos that have names on them. Some of the other photos are really great, but they aren’t any fun because I can’t find them on ancestry.com or google. The same booth also has a box of carte de visite — but again, just photos and no names. But the carte de visite are so wonderful that I may break down and buy a few. I’ve copied the information below from Wikipedia.
The carte de visite (abbreviated CdV or CDV, and also spelled carte-de-visite or erroneously referred to as carte de ville) was a type of small photograph which was patented in Paris, France by photographer André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri in 1854, although first used by Louis Dodero. It was usually made of an albumen print, which was a thin paper photograph mounted on a thicker paper card. The size of a carte de visite is 54.0 mm (2.125 in) × 89 mm (3.5 in) mounted on a card sized 64 mm (2.5 in) × 100 mm (4 in). In 1854, Disdéri had also patented a method of taking eight separate negatives on a single plate, which reduced production costs. The Carte de Visite was slow to gain widespead use until 1859, when Disdéri published Emperor Napoleon III‘s photos in this format. This made the format an overnight success, and the new invention was so popular it was known as “cardomania” and eventually spread throughout the world.
Each photograph was the size of a visiting card, and such photograph cards became enormously popular and were traded among friends and visitors. The immense popularity of these card photographs led to the publication and collection of photographs of prominent persons. “Cardomania” spread throughout Europe and then quickly to America. Albums for the collection and display of cards became a common fixture in Victorian parlors.
It’s a shame when people throw away photo albums. If you do a search on ebay, you can always find family memorabilia that you would think someone would want to hold onto.
Below is a photo of Bert and Mabel Kimball, taken on their silver wedding anniversary in 1932.
A quick search on ancestry.com places Bert and Mabel in Berwyn, Custer County, Nebraska in the 1940 census. Bert’s occupation is listed as “farmer”. I bet a few are wondering, “how do you know that is really true?” Ha! Because “Berwyn, NE” is written in tiny letters at about the level of Mabel’s hem.
This next photo is fun because the two gentlemen look a little bit like the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. I don’t have enough information to do a quick search for them because the caption only says “Mr. Deweese and Friend”, Franklin, Indiana. The photo was taken around 1912. (over 100 years old!) Please note the resemblance between “Deweese & friend” and “Laurel and Hardy”.
Next is a cute photo of three children. There is a lot of information written on the front. Left to right is Paul Samuel Caton and Harold and Beulah Royce. The photo was taken at Dos Palos, California in 1912.
Paul is dressed in a Little Lord Fauntleroy style outfit. Harold looks full of mischief! (and a little like Alfred E. Newman from “Mad” magazine) A quick search of Paul Samuel Caton shows that he was born 1904 in Oklahoma and in the 1920 census, was living in Dos Palos, CA. And the California death index lists that Paul Samuel Caton, born 1904 in Oklahoma, died 1988 in Alameda, CA. What a lot one photo can tell you about a person.
There isn’t a clue on this photo as to who these people were. This is actually a postcard mailed to Mrs. Mary Nelson of Shenandoah, Iowa. The note is addressed to “Dear Ma” and it mentions that the chickens are hatching. The reason I bought it is because I live in jeans and t-shirts and can’t imagine having to wear such an incredible amount of clothing. And, probably, under the outer layer there is another layer of petticoats and whatever. The stamp on the postcard is a 1 cent green George Washington and a quick google lookup says that stamp was probably issued in 1908. The postmark on the card is too faint to read.
This is an unsigned, unsent photo postcard. I don’t have a clue who this man is, but he reminded me of Lurch from The Addams family. In a lot of these photos, the photographer poses the person next to a piece of furniture. In this case, a table. I have no reason why they did this — but it does show how tall this gentleman was.
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.
Back in January, I wrote about Harry Morris & his disappearance. You can see the earlier post published on January 13, 2013. His grandson Joe & I have spent many hours searching online for Harry & have never found anything. He simply disappeared from Kansas City — leaving his wife, Flora (Blume Kremer) Morris, with six children to care for. Because a person can’t completely vanish in today’s world, I have had a hard time accepting that he just walked out. I understand divorce and separation, but I can’t imagine never coming back to see your children. Thanks to Flora’s other recent immigrant family members from Russia and Lithuania, she somehow managed to keep her family together. And she eventually remarried and lived to be 81 years old, living from 1890 to 1971. Flora (Blume Kremer) was a resourceful and resilient woman.
Now with better communication, computers, DNA tests, etc., it is a rare occurrence that a man (or woman) can go to the corner store for a pack of cigarettes & never return. Harry’s grandson, Joe, has had his DNA tested on familytreedna.com and maybe some day, someone will be a good DNA match and the pieces can be put together.
My interest in Harry Morris started when I began trying to help my daughter’s Russian & Eastern European side of her family create a family tree. Over the last weeks, I have read many articles about the difficulties that these new immigrants had in adjusting to their lives in America. I bought a used book titled “Mid-America’s Promise: A Profile of Kansas City Jewry” that was edited by Joseph D. Schultz & published in 1982.
I bought this book hoping that it might contain some references to my daughter’s family members. Unfortunately, there aren’t any with the one exception of a photo of Robert “Bob” Bernstein who invented the McDonald’s Happy Meal. But, from this wonderful book I have learned how these Russian & Eastern European immigrants, at the turn of the 20th Century, ended up in Kansas City, MO.
I will try to keep this short, but a brilliant man named Jacob Billikopf was instrumental in the Kansas City immigration story. He was a recent immigrant from Lithuania who worked with other Jewish leaders to try and remedy the situation in New York. The wave of immigrants had begun to overwhelm New York’s resources and the city leader’s were quickly becoming desperate. The book explains how Jacob created the “Billikopf Route”. Many representatives of American Jewish charities traveled to Hamburg & Bremerhaven to try and convince the immigrants to land and move further west from NYC. Jacob Billikopf basically created the Galveston, TX route in order to help the immigrants find a “more assured future”. He managed Kansas City’s Jewish social services and found jobs and housing for the people willing to travel further west.
That said, it doesn’t explain what happened to Harry Morris. While many Eastern European immigrants were able to quickly assimilate, some were not. The ones who landed in NYC could hold onto their old ways, Yiddish language, and customs longer than the immigrants who moved further west. There was more pressure on those who took the “Billikopf Route” and some felt very isolated in their new country. There were also social and cultural rifts between the older German Jewish population and the new poorer Eastern European immigrants.
Desertion, the poor man’s “divorce”, happened so often among the Eastern Europeans that a National Desertion Bureau was formed to help locate the wayward Jewish husbands and fathers. Jacob Billikopf became very disturbed by the problems created by desertion and death. He and Judge Edward Porterfield wrote and passed a bill in 1911 that established a “Mothers’ Assistance Fund” in Kansas City. This bill was a forerunner to the Aid to Dependent Children programs across the country.
The problems caused by desertion didn’t occur only in Kansas City. The situation was so bad that the Jewish Daily Forward, the largest-circulation Yiddish daily in the world, began running the “Gallery of Missing Men,” a page full of mug shots of these husbands. It was published to shame them into returning to their families. Or maybe to warn other women about these scoundrels.