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.
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.
I can’t say enough about how much fun it is to read the obituaries. I am not talking about the euphemistic ones that say that “grandpa is now resting in the arms of Jesus”, but the brutally honest ones. The ones that you can’t believe were really published.
I’ve taken the liberty of copying some great obits off of the internet . . .
On 24 Nov 2012, I wrote about Samuel B. Romick, who was Granny Kelley’s father. I was so fascinated by his obituary that I ordered his Military Records from The National Archives. On the page titled “Muster and Descriptive Roll of Veteran Volunteers”, it describes Samuel as a twenty year old clerk born in Harrison, Ohio. He had black eyes, black hair and a dark complexion. He was 5 ft. 6 inches tall. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of him.
Below is a paragraph from his obituary —
“He was born December 21, 1841 in Harrisville, Ohio. At the very beginning of the Civil War he enlisted serving in the army of the Potomac. Being captured at the battle of Stone River, he experienced and endured for several months the terrors, hardships and scanty food of Libby prison. He was in the famous March of the sea under General Sherman, and could fully appreciate the battle song, “Marching Through Georgia.” In his last days he seemed to live over again the scenes, struggles, and victories of that testing period and when he could no longer speak he frequently gave the soldiers countersign.”
The remarks: Prisoner of War. Captured at Stone River, Dec. 31, 1862. The Company Muster Roll states that by May, 1863, he was again present with his Company. The records don’t say how he was released from Libby Prison and he may have been able to escape. But his release was a year before the famous Libby Prison escape of 1864.
The Libby Prison Escape
Richmond, Virginia’s Libby Prison was one of the most infamous jails of the Civil War, but it’s also the site of one of the conflict’s most daring escapes. In 1864, a group of 15 Union soldiers under the direction of Col. Thomas E. Rose and Major A.G Hamilton managed to tunnel through the prison’s basement to a nearby vacant lot. This was no easy task, as Libby’s basement was a dark and vermin-infested cellar known to the men as “Rat Hell,” but after seventeen days of digging, they reached a nearby tobacco shed. From here, 109 soldiers managed to escape into the city of Richmond and make a run for the nearby Union lines. 48 of the men were recaptured, and 2 drowned in a nearby river, but 59 managed to make it to the safety of the Federal army. Their escape remains the most successful prison break of the Civil War.
The National Park Service site on The Civil War has detailed information on all of the regiments. Below is Samuel’s regiment. He definitely saw a lot of action as he enlisted in 1861 and didn’t muster out until July 17, 1865. In May of 1864, he deserted his company but didn’t quit. He spent the rest of the Civil War working as a “nurse” in a General Field Hospital, Dept. of the Cumberland, Huntsville, Alabama.
“UNION OHIO VOLUNTEERS
69th Regiment, Ohio Infantry
Organized at Hamilton, Ohio, and Camp Chase, Ohio, November, 1861, to April, 1862. Moved to Camp Chase, Ohio, February 19, 1862, and duty there till April, 1862. Moved to Nashville, Tenn., April 19-22, thence to Franklin, Tenn., May 1, and duty there till June 8. Attached to District of Nashville and Franklin, Unattached, Army of the Ohio, to September, 1862. 29th Brigade, 8th Division, Army of the Ohio, to November, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Centre 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to January, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 14th Army Corps, to October, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, to September, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, to November, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, to July, 1865.
Moved to Nashville, Tenn., June 8, 1862, thence to Murfreesboro, Tenn. Expedition to McMinnville and Pikesville June 12-20. Provost duty at Nashville till December. Expedition to Gallatin and action with Morgan August 13. Siege of Nashville September 12-November 7. Near Nashville November 5. Nashville and Franklin Pike December 14. Advance on Murfreesboro December 26-30. Battle of Stone’s River December 30-31, 1862, and January 1-3, 1863. Duty at Munfreesboro till June. Middle Tennessee or Tullahoma Campaign June 23-July 7. Occupation of Middle Tennessee till August 16. Passage of the Cumberland Mountains and Tennessee River, and Chickamauga (Ga.) Campaign August 16-September 22. Battle of Chickamauga September 19-21 (train guard during battle). Rossville Gap September 21. Siege of Chattanooga, Tenn., September 24-November 23. Orchard Knob November 23-24. Mission Ridge November 25. Graysville November 26. Duty at Rossville, Ga., till March, 1864. Veterans absent on Furlough March 16-May 11, rejoin at Buzzard’s Roost, Ga. Atlanta Campaign May to September. Demonstration on Rocky Faced Ridge May 8-11. Battle of Resaca May 14-15. Advance on Dallas May 18-25. Operations on line of Pumpkin Vine Creek and battles about Dallas, New Hope Church and Allatoona Hills May 25-June 5. Pickett’s Mills May 27. Operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw Mountain June 10-July 2. Pine Hill June 11-14. Lost Mountain June 15-17. Assault on Kenesaw June 27. Ruff’s Station, Smyrna Camp Ground, July 4. Chattahoochie River July 5-17. Peach Tree Creek June 19-20. Siege of Atlanta July 22-August 25. Utoy Creek August 5-7. Flank movement on Jonesboro August 25-30. Battle of Jonesboro August 31-September 1. Lovejoy Station September 2-6. Operations against Hood in North Georgia and North Alabama September 29-November 3. March to the sea November 15-December 10. Siege of Savannah December 10-21. Campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865. Near Cheraw, S. C., February 28. Taylor’s Hole Creek, Averysboro, N. C., March 16. Battle of Bentonville March 19-21. Occupation of Goldsboro March 24. Advance on Raleigh April 10-14. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett’s House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. March to Washington, D. C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 19. Grand Review May 24. Moved to Louisville, Ky., June, and duty there till July. Mustered out July 17, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 5 Officers and 84 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 98 Enlisted men by disease. Total 187.”
My Granny Kelley (Mary Romick Kelley) had three sisters. Granny was the only sister who married. Granny (Mary) married Forrest Aaron Kelley in 1909. Nell, Lida and Edna chose to remain single and were “old maid school teachers” as they were called back then.
I have been working on putting together a “Page” family tree to include all of the family I gained through being adopted into a wonderful “Leave it to Beaver” type of family. Mom was never up making breakfast without being nicely dressed like June Cleaver. I was one lucky little “orphan” or “gutter snipe” in the words of the Willows Maternity Home. Ray & Harriett Page picked me up from The Willows on May 11, 1951.
Back to the Romick sisters — Nell (1874-1939), Lida (1887-1959), Edna (1889-1977) and Mary (1878-1963) were all trained as school teachers. There weren’t a lot of other choices back when they were young women.
The story from my mother (Harriett Kelley Page) was that Samuel B. Romick wasn’t an easy person. (By the way, my mom Harriett was named for her grandmother). Harriett Kenworthy Romick (Samuel’s wife) waited on him & he always took the best pieces of food first. Whether or not this had anything to do with his daughters deciding not to marry, we’ll never know. And perhaps that sister Nell preferred fishing & other male activities over crocheting or embroidery — who knows what those times were like for women who refused to fit the girly mode. Women had so few options. Or perhaps men shuddered at the other three sisters’ names. Mary is definitely a nicer name than Nell, Lida or Edna.
But I did find some interesting information about him today. If you have read any of my earlier posts, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of http://www.findagrave.com. I was searching for Samuel B. Romick and found that the volunteer who photographed the Romick grave site in Wheat Ridge, CO (a suburb of Denver) also went to the trouble of finding his obituary. That is so way beyond just being a volunteer. Thank you Wednesday, whoever you are.
Birth: Dec. 21, 1841
Death: Mar. 15, 1924, USA
Beaver City Times, Mar. 24, 1924 Samuel B. Romick, for fourteen years a resident and merchant of Beaver City, died at his home, 2205 ———————— 17, 1924. A man of good habits and strong ———— meaning of sickness until four years ago, when hardening of the arteries began sapping a life already extended well beyond the allotted span of “three score years and ten.”
He was born December 21, 1841 in Harrisville, Ohio. At the very beginning of the Civil War he enlisted serving in the army of the Potomac. Being captured at the battle of Stone River, he experienced and endured for several months the terrors, hardships and scanty food of Libby prison. He was in the famous March of the sea under General Sherman, and could fully appreciate the battle song, “Marching Through Georgia.” In his last days he seemed to live over again the scenes, struggles, and victoires of that testing period and when he could no longer speak he frequently gave the soldiers countersign.
He was in active business life for about fifty years, first in Iowa, and later in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, retiring four years ago at Onadarko, Okla.
He was married in September 1873, to Miss Harriet Kenworthy of Oskaloosa, Iowa, who survives him, and is joined in mourning by four daughters: Misses Nell, Lida, and Edna, of Denver, who are popular and efficient teachers in the city schools, and Mrs. Mary Kelley, wife of Dr. Forrest A. Kelley of Winfield, Kans. His only living brother, Philip A. Romick, of Onadarko, Okla., could not be present at the funeral.
He had long been a member of the Masonic order, and it was especially fitting that he should be laid to rest in the section of Crown Hill Burial Park reserved for Masons, where every new grave is an added consecration to a spot already made sacred by the “broken columns” of many of the brethren. Honor to his memory.
Joseph (Jack) Bernstein was my daughter’s grandfather & my father-in-law. Jack was tough. He smoked Marlboro Reds when I first met him, had rough hands and an iron handshake. Jack was probably always tough, but especially since he survived being captured at sea by the Germans and then being turned over to a Japanese war camp to spend the rest of WWII. This is for Jack, R.I.P. and we miss you.
His son wrote
Thursday, Jack was declared dead . . .for the second time. He was 85. Sixty-five years ago, another article appeared in the Kansas City Star; the headline read, “And a Boy Dies At Sea.” It told the story of a young Kansas Citian in greasy overalls working on a merchant marine tanker — the boy and the tanker lost at sea when an enemy torpedo struck. Insurance benefits were paid and he was given up for dead, by all but his family. “We were deeply grieved to hear of the death of your son,” the letter to his mother read. “He set an example in heroism and patriotism for all of us.”
The text below is copied from http://www.usmm.org/calcutta.html
It wasn’t until 1943 that Washington learned that 27 crew members of the Calcutta were alive and prisoners of war at Camp Fukuoka in Japan.
He often remarked that he was living on borrowed time. At 11:35pm on May 29, 2008, he opened his eyes for the last time and closed them. All who knew him will miss him dearly.
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.