Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Freeborn County, MN Mystery Photo... Grinolds?

Another old tin type, compliments of Aunt Lena (Nelson) Torry's photo album...

Freeborn County, Minnesota area

Again, I assume these two ladies are somehow connected to the Grinolds or Schoonover family... but their identities are unknown. Likely lived in Freeborn Co, MN or possibly Wisconsin or New York state

Interesting clothing... especially the shawls/wraps, that actually look like some kind of Native American blankets?!

Too bad I'm not an expert on mid-1800 American clothing styles

Mystery Photo... Southern Minnesota tintype

Among many unidentified tin types that came from an album I inherited a few years ago....

The album belonged to Lena Sophia (Nelson) Gisleson Torry, a daughter of Ole Nelson & Mary Rosetta Grinolds.... and younger sister to my Great-Great Grandfather John C. Nelson.

Lena's son Walter had the album and it eventually found its way to a cousin of his... who then passed it on to me.

I presume these two men are somehow connected to the Grinolds family... they probably lived in either the Juneau Co, Wisconsin or Freeborn Co, MN areas.

And hopefully someday, their identities will be known!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

More Family Treasures...

My Great-Grandmother Ruby's chaotic life has been chronicled in a prior entry.... And her chaotic life allowed few personal items to pass onto her descendants. Luckily, this Royal Sealy tea set did! While living in Minneapolis, Ruby's twin sister Ruth visited and this tea set was sent home with Ruth for Ruby's daughter, Betty (my Grandma). My Grandma always prominently displayed this set, which has special meaning, coming from the Mother she never really knew. Last year, this lovely little set became mine.

I've always liked black glass, and this bowl and cake plate that my Grandma always had in her china cabinet, was a favorite of mine. It belonged to Nelsine Bendina (Anderson) Nelson, my Great-Great Grandmother, who was my Grandpa Dale's Grandmother. Grandma Nelson died in 1950, two years before my Grandparents married, but eventually they were given a couple of things that were from the Nelson home. Unfortunately, I never asked my Great-Grandmother where her Mother obtained these two black pieces....... So the origins of them are unknown. After many years in Grandma's china cabinet, they've now become part of mine.

This corner cabinet was probably built in the 1930's or 1940's... the builder was Erwin Bruce, my Great-Great Uncle. Apparently he was quite the furniture maker as it isn't the only project of his to survive today.

Erwin made the cabinet for his sister Ruth Stoddard, the woman I knew as my Great-Grandma... Erwin and Ruth were very close, so it is no surprise he would build such a piece for her. And it remained in her Winnebago home for many decades untile the early 1980s, when she entered a nursing home and the household was broken up and the home sold. My Mother was given the cabinet and growing up in was always in our living room.... eventually my Mother obtained new dining room furniture and this fine cabinet was regailed to the basement. When I moved away from home, the cabinet came with me and now looks as if it belongs in my living room.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

John Sturm, My Great-Grandfather

My Great-Grandfather

John William Sturm
Son of John & Agnes (Thomas) Sturm
Husband of Beatrice Amelia Mapson
Father of Mava, Arlo & Ardyce

Born in 1896... Passed away in 1968, after a tractor accident

A fine, faithful man.... Wish I had known him

Monday, April 30, 2012

Mystery Tintype Photo... Freeborn County, MN

This very interesting tintype is unidentified!

I suspect that the 'lap' the little girl is sitting in, is more of a 'prop'...
so the little girl is probably the relative.

This was in an old photo album that belonged to Lena (Nelson) Giselson Torry,
the daughter of Mary Rosetta (Grinolds) Nelson.
They family was from the Freeborn County, MN area

I think many of the unidentified older photos are of the Grinolds-Schoonover, et al branch

I'd love to know who the little girl is and even of more interest is the interesting character she is photographed with! 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Johanna Schadt Weber 1844-1905

Johanna Schadt was born November 11, 1844 in Germany, where in Germany is still unclear. She was the daughter of John & Johanna Schadt. According to her obituary she came with her parents to Hollis Township, Peoria County, Illinois in 1848!  However, I'm not convinced that early timeframe is correct.

She was married to Charles Weber, on December 1861, in Tazewell Co, IL. Charles was born July 6, 1820, in Alsace Lorraine, though his family and prior whereabouts are completely unknown. So he was 24 years older than Johanna, and may have had a whole other life before they married!

It is recorded that Charles & Johanna had 10 children: Mary Ann (1863-1865), William Carl (1866-1932), Mary Louisa (1867-1963), Joseph (1869-1870), Jacob C. (1871-1955), Daniel (1873-1956), Julia (1876-1877), Elizabeth (1878-1936), Anna Marie (1880-1958), and William (1895-1897).

Charles & Johanna Weber
year unknown, but I would guess 1890s

Family records list the last son, William born Feb 11, 1895 and died Aug 6, 1897. It seems unlikely to me that Johanna would have a child born to her when she was 50 years old and named him after her still living son William?!  I've often wondered if instead, William was a grandchild that Johanna was raising... but as of now, this child's ID remains unclear.

Interestingly, 3 of Johanna & Charles's children-- William, Anna & Daniel all married members of the Krumholz family, children of Jacob Theodore & Agatha (Kleinhans) Krumholz... who lived nearby.

I've been unable to find any record of the early Schadt family in Illinois.... In 1880, the widowed Johanna Schadt was living with her daughter in the Weber household.  The Schadt parents and the Weber's are all buried near each other in the Trial Cemetery, near Bartonville (Peoria suburb).

After the death of Charles Weber on March 7, 1898, at 77 years of age, Johanna remained living in Hollis Township with the children who remained at home (Daniel, Elizabeth & Anna). Sometime after 1900, Johanna moved into Pekin, IL and lived with her daughter Mary Behrens & family.... it was at the home of Mary, that Johanna died on January 16, 1905 of pneumonia at the age of 60 years.

Trial Cemetery, near Bartonville

I'd love to find out more about the Schadt family... where in Germany they came from and who else was in the family besides Johanna.... And to find out something about Charles Weber would be equally as nice!
Trial Cemetery, near Bartonville

Ruby Bruce... You walked away from your Life... and Your Family...

My Great-Grandmother was a mysterious woman.... mysterious in her life, in her decisions, and in her motives. Sadly, many of her decisions adversely affected members of her family for years and generations to come.

Ruby Julia Bruce was born June 23, 1903 in Monona, Clay County, Iowa; she had a twin sister- Ruth Maude Bruce, and they were the daughters of Owen Rutherford & Sally Estella "Essie" (George) Bruce. The family did not live in Monona long, they were from Central City, Linn County, Iowa and that is where they primarily lived. Ruby had an older brother Maynard (known as Marshall) and a younger brother Erwin, as well as a younger half-sister Myrtle who was born from her Mother's second marriage. Further half-siblings Gloria and Leo from her Father's later marriage were never even known to exist to Ruby. The Bruce siblings grew up in the Central City area, attending school there, their father Owen, an alcoholic who had many run ins with the law was a regular provider and was frequently absent. Her mother Essie relied on her own Father and Grandmother for support and help in raising her young family. After Owen's 1916 prison sentence, Essie remarried to LeRoy Crosby and the family moved to Granada, Minnesota, where Essie's sister had secured them work. Ruby had limited contact with her Father after this point, he was known to have sent a few letter for a time, but eventually contact was lost, it's unclear if she ever saw her Father again after leaving Central City.  In 1917, Ruby moved to northern Minnesota with her Mother & Stepfather--- it seems likely that sometime prior to moving away she must have met John Yore-- as in early 1920, she was still living with her family in northern Minnesota, but on September 15, 1920, Ruby and John Yore were married and promptly moved to the Downing, Missouri area-- where John was from.

Life appears to have been rather difficult in these early years... a young 17 year old bride who relocated to a very rural, underdeveloped part of northern Missouri, where her husband's family were poor farmers. According to an elderly cousin, Ruby had a baby boy within those first couple of years, who died. A son, Don Carlos Yore was born in 1923.... In early 1925 the family was living near Stiles, Davis County, Iowa... though they were quick to return to Downing, as daughter Helen Elizabeth Yore was born March 23, 1925.

Ruby holding a crying Don & Helen

At some point John and Ruby moved their two young children to Winnebago, Minnesota (where Ruby's sister Ruth was living) and on May 1, 1927, Maggie Henerietta "Hank" Yore was born.
Helen & Don Yore

During 1928, Ruby was apparently ill, with a couple of differently ailments... in March she is mentioned in the newspaper as having been "seriously ill" and then later "recovering".... by September she was having surgery to have her appendix removed.

On September 2, 1929, Ruby gave birth to a son, who died two hours later... from unknown causes. Shortly after this time, the family again left Winnebago and moved to a farm near Vernon Center, Minnesota (about 20mi away), they resided here approximately a year, before moving to Huntley (a few miles from Winnebago)... where they lived about a year before moving back into Winnebago, living at the home of "Ma Spencer", who was an elderly Aunt of Ruth's (Ruby's sister)... while living at Ma Spencer's, Ruby gave birth to premature twin boys (1932 or 1933) and they died shortly after birth and were buried under the weeping willow tree on the property. It is possible that an April 1933 auto accident that caused Ruby a "back injury" could have been around the time of the twins' births. On June 6, 1935, with her mother Essie in attendance, Ruby gave birth to Betty Jean (my Grandmother). Ruby was 31 years old at Betty's birth, and had now given birth to 8 babies, half of which had died.

John Yore was a hard working man, working as a farmer and later with the railroad and eventually the local canning factory. It's been said, that Ruby was never very interested in being a wife and mother-- she was frequently absent, forcing her young children to fend for themselves, and her Mother to care for them. However, I have also found mentioned where she hosted card parties, entertained for her cousin's bridal shower, took her children visiting to local relatives and did other 'normal activies' of the time...

I have often wondered what caused Ruby to be so unhappy with her life and how she could neglect and ultimately abandon her 4 children. Some family stories say that she was 'bored' with motherhood and married life, that her husband worked too often and she'd rather go to parties with her brother Erwin, than stay home and be a mother. While it was common for her to leave for days at a time, on Christmas Day 1940, Ruby left home, never to return.

It is unclear exactly, where she went or who she was with, but two years later in 1942, she was married in Grand Island, Nebraska, to Buckley "Barney" King. This marriage must have been very important for Ruby to get, as she never bothered to get a divorce from her husband!

Ruby's marriage record to Barnie
Somehow, Ruby thought she was only 32...? I guess that's
close to the 39 years she really was....or not...
 Since she lied on her marriage license, it seems likely she lied to her new husband as well... On a side note, not only did she use her maiden name on her new marriage record, but she made herself quite a bit younger too! Eventually the new couple settled in Minneapolis, where in 1944 their daughter Audrey Faye was born. In 1952 Ruby and her husband and daughter moved to Cotati, California. Ruby maintained contact with her siblings and her Mother--- but very limited, sporatic contact with her children. As her daughter 'Hank' also lived in California, she had the most interactions with Ruby.

Essie Crosby, Ruby, Hank & daughter

After 1940, when Ruby left, her older two daughters Helen & Hank were left to care for their little sister- Betty. Later Betty would live with her Aunt & Uncle- Ruth & Alpha Stoddard (Ruth being Ruby's twin), while the other three siblings would remain with their Father until leaving home at young ages. John Yore was deeply devoted to his wife and was heartbroken at her leaving, later developing an addiction to alcohol that plagued him the rest of his life, he loved Ruby until his dying day. John would later obtain a divorce from Ruby, in 1949.

Christmas card John Yore sent his
Mother in 1944, notice he still
signed it "J&R"... sadly the 'R'
had been gone for years at this
point. Must have kept it a
secret from the rest of his family?!
I don't believe Ruby ever 'remarried' Barnie King, so I would assume their 1942 marriage to be invalid... I guess back then you could get away with things like that easier than today!? It wasn't only her husband who suffered, but Ruby's children who had certain degrees of trauma related to her neglect and abandonment. The specifics of which I must refrain from discussing indepthly, as my Grandmother Betty (age 76) and her sisters Helen (age 87), Hank (age 85), and Audrey (age 68) are all still living. (It seems unfair and inappropriate to analyze the relationships Ruby had with her daughters and how that impacted the decisions they made and the paths their lives when down... but it is safe to say the ripples are felt even today.)

Delayed birth certificate Ruby obtained in 1963,
with the false 1902 birth year

After years of making herself younger- Ruby decided it would be beneficial to age rapidly! So she obtained a delayed birth certificate with the incorrect birth year of 1902.... probably to allow her to obtain Social Security a year sooner.

It doesn't appear that her second marriage or shot at motherhood were any more appealing to Ruby then her previous efforts. She remained married to Barnie, though daughter Audrey spent a lot of time with Ruby's brother Marshall and his wife Jo, and would remain close to them.

Ruby never lost her love for a good 'party'-- though I have difficulty imagining a short, fat woman in her mid 50s finding bars where she fit in and found the attention she was seeking.... But apparently she did.

Her partying lifestyle was not kind to her health-- and on August 30, 1973 she suffered a major heart attack... and died ten days later, on September 8, 1973, after battling heart disease for at least a decade.

Obituary, ironically
lists all her children?!
At her death she left surviving, her husband, her ex-husband, 1 son, 4 daughters, 1 brother, 1 sister, 1 half sister (plus 2 unknown half siblings), and a slew of grandchildren, most of whom she never had any interest in knowing.

It is fascinating to me, to think of the decisions Ruby made in life.. and I wish I had a better understanding of her motives. I'm sure her choatic upbringing had some bearing on her later life, and shaped some the choices she made...
But those she left behind ask "why"?

Fittingly, after her death, she was cremated and her remains spread in the Pacific Ocean... so even in death, Ruby was spared the confines of a final resting place.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jacobina Krumholz Weber..... Wife... Mother... Gardener

My Great-Great Grandmother- Jacobina (Krumholz) Weber was born in Hildmannsfeld, Baden Baden, Germany, on April 9, 1874. The daughter of Jacob Theodore Krumholz, Sr and Agatha Kleinhans, she was the fifth, out of eight children and the last to be born in Germany.

Jacob & Agatha Krumholz & Family
(Jacobina is the last female in on the right in the back row)

On April 20, 1877 the Krumholz family arrived in Philadelphia on the SS Nederland, which had embarked from Antwerp, Belgium. They settled in Woodford County, Illinois.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mary Rosetta Grinolds... For many years, a mystery...

Mary Rosetta Grinolds was born 4 October 1833*, most likely in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John Matthew Grinolds & Sarah "Sally" Matson. The exact location of Mary Rosetta's birth is unclear, sometimes she is listed as being born in Pennsylvania and other times New York. Her parents started out in Herkimer County, NY and by 1840 they were living in Steuben County, NY... but it seems they lived in Pennsylvania for a brief time, as Mary Rosetta and some of her siblings are often listed with that as a birthplace. Often times she is listed as 'Polly', a common nickname for Mary, and later in life sometimes as 'Rosetta'. It took many years of research to establish just who Mary Rosetta was and who her family was.

Her parents later moved to Juneau County, Wisconsin, and at some point Mary Rosetta met Ole Nelson and they were married 25 December 1855, probably somewhere in Wisconsin, though the exact locale thus far remains a mystery. A short time later they relocated to Freeborn County, Minnesota-- though some of her children have Wisconsin show up as a birthplace, it seems likely they were born in Minnesota, with the exception of child #4- John Charles Nelson born 10 April 1865, during what must have been a brief stay (or just a visit perhaps?) to Wisconsin.

Ole & Mary Rosetta would have at least 9 children, including: Sarah Almira (wife of William Blair), Matthew Gillfillen "Gill, Stephen Luther, John Charles, Lena Sophia (wife of Reinhart Giselson), Mary Rosetta (wife of Charles Hall), Job Vincent, Elmira (died as infant), and another son who also died in infancy. It is likely that there were other children who also died as infants.

The Nelson family lived and farmed in Nunda Township, Freeborn County, Minnesota for many years and sadly it is there that Mary Rosetta succumbed to ovarian cancer on 8 July 1877 at only 43 years of age. [*Her death record gives her age at 44 yrs 10 mos 4 days, which would make her birthday 4 September 1832].

Mary Rosetta had a larger number of brothers and sisters-- some of whom stayed in New York, others coming to Wisconsin & Minnesota. Her brother- John Grinolds and her sister- Almira Schoonover, lived in Faribault & Freeborn County areas in Minnesota, and must have kept in contact to some level with her family.

While her identity was unclear for many years, slow strides have connected her to her parents & siblings. Other things, such as where she is buried, still remain a mystery. I would very much like to find her burial location, but am beginning to think she must have been buried on the family farm, because no nearby cemetery has any record of her.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

More Family 'Treasures'.....

When I first began genealogy, my Great-Grandpa's youngest sister 'Aunt Jo' was a big help. She had been gathering information on our family for many years, and though not a real researcher, she had amassed a lot of data. In her later 80's, she was still very sharp, living in the home of her husbands Grandparents. During one of my visits to her farm, Aunt Jo was tatting litte embellishments for towels and other fancy work. As she began a new project, it became this little butterfly, which upon completion gave to me. Aunt Jo was a dear, special lady who passed away at the age of 90, and this little butterfly is a sweet reminder of that lovely Aunt.

My Grandpa Willard Weerts had many treasures in his old age... hundreds of them in fact. During one of his visits he gave me this Mickey Mouse toolchest... which itself was loaded with mini treasures. Grandpa had an after school job at a Winnebago hardware store, and he saved up his wages and purchased this little tool chest. Later he would serve in World War II and he Step-Mother Stella (Loveall) Weerts kept this chest and other treasures for him, in a drawer in a built in corner cabinet at home. After the conclusion of the War, Grandpa returned home and this toolchest was right where it was when he left. Some 50 years later, Grandpa gave the chest and it contents to me.... He was very sentimental about these family treasures from yesteryear and instilled in me as a child the value of these tangible items... and because of him, I am the proud guardian of many invaluable family 'heirlooms'.

The exact beginning of this quilt is uncertain, but as far as we know my Great-Great Grandma Sally "Essie" (George) Bruce Crosby [see prior punch bowl story] began this quilt... But for some reason she didn't finish it?! Though she completed many other lovely projects... When in old age, Essie moved to California with her daughter, most of her possessions (which were few) were left behind. Her daughter Ruth (Bruce) Stoddard, whom I always called Great-Grandma, though was actually my Great-Grandma's twin sister [a complicated story for another day], came to have this unfinished quilt top. Grandma Stoddard also worked on this quilt, but never completed it... and in time my Grandma Betty (who was raised by her Aunt Ruth aka Grandma Stoddard) aquired this still unfinished quilt... and puttered with it a bit herself before having her Mother in-law once and for all complete this quilt. Looking at its handstitched quitling, you can see many different hands completed the work, as the stitchings style and size slighly varies.

My Grandma has treasured this quilt since its completion and gave it to me just this year, as she wanted someone who knows about the women who created it. Its a true treasure and even though I don't even know what the pattern is called, I'm honored to keep it and display the work of 3 different generations.

My Great-Grandma- Laura Maine had many salt & pepper shakers on a shelf abover her window. These turkey shakers were always my favorites... and amazingly after her death, these shakers made their way to my Grandparents and Grandma quickly passed them onto me. My Great-Grandma was born Laura Nelson in 1913, in rural Freeborn County, MN... Her early life was spent in Freeborn County, until her family moved to North Dakota in the late 1910s ,and later to Cass County, MN, where Laura met Hiram Maine.... and in 1930, 5 months after her 16th birthday, she married Hiram... who was 9 years her senior. Hiram & Laura worked hard and raised 6 children... and remained on the family homestead their entired married lives.

Grandma was a very special lady and when she died in 2004, just shy of 91 years, she left a huge legacy... and these Turkeys... which are some of my favorite things!

Beatrice (Mapson) Sturm was my Great-Grandmother.... she passed away in 1948 when only 46 years old... My Father never knew his Grandma, who was by all acounts a sweet, lovely person. Growing up, I'd seen a couple of photos of her but that was really it... and since her daughter Mava, my Grandmother, passed away when I was just shy of 7, I didn't have any first hand stories of her either.

Ten years ago, when visiting my Grandpa in Arizona, I mentioned never having seen, much less having had, anything of Grandpa or Grandma Sturm's... He went to the china cabinet and removed a few items-- one of which was this green depression cake plate, in the cameo pattern. Not only do I like green glass, but I had a few other pieces of this pattern from other relatives, so it was extra nice to get this cake plate.  It now sits on top of my china cabinet--- where I see it daily and think often of the Sturm ancestors I never knew.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Yore Genealogy... Is My Genealogy

Yore... one of my more unique family surnames, is my maternal Grandma's maiden name. Grandma knew very little of her Father's family, in fact she didn't even know the names of her Grandparents for certain... And sadly, after nearly 20 years of research, my progress has been very limited.

Yore is an Irish surname and seems to be located in only certain areas of Ireland. My Grandma's Great-Grandfather was John Yore, a cursedly common name in 'Yore' genealogy, he was born in approximately 1817 in Ireland, according to the 1850 census, which is the only census on which he appears. On April 27, 1843 he was married to Elizabeth (Bradley) Williams, in Lewis County, Missouri [Elizabeth had married John Williams in 1836, a marriage that apparently produced no children]. John Yore's arrival in Lewis County is unknown, but he arrived in time to marry Elizabeth; in 1850 they are living in Pettis County, Missouri... and by the mid-1850s John has land records in nearby Johnson County, Missouri. John & Elizabeth had 3 children: Ann (born ca 1850), William (born ca 1852), and John Lewis (born 1856)....  John Yore died sometime between 1856-1860... Family lore says it was a mining explosion... In 1850 he is listed as a well digger, so an accidental death is certainly possible. By 1860, Elizabeth is living back in Lewis County, Missouri, with a new husband- Fred Fifer and her 3 Yore children... they continued to reside there through 1870, though daughter Ann has either married or died as she is no longer living with them. It is also unknown what happened to Elizabeth & Fred after that point. William & John married women who happened to be first cousins to each other and the families would live near one another in Northern Missouri & Southern Iowa their whole lives. As John Lewis Yore's Great-Great Grandson, I've been able to create a pretty complete descendancy of that family... and a fair amont on William.

I'd love to know where in Ireland John Yore came from and who his family was! I haven't been able to connect him to any family there, even though it is a fairly uncommon surname. Early records often misspell it as Your or Youre, which adds to the struggle. And Elizabeth (Bradley) Williams Yore Fifer also remains a huge mystery, from whence she came and went?!

I'm always trying to find Yore researchers... Are you one?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Family 'Heirlooms'... Tangible Genealogy Memories

The names, dates and places that support the basic building blocks of genealogy are important to everyone! But there is nothing more exciting than to hold a tangible item that belonged to one of our ancestors. I've always felt it is important to honor items that our relatives treasured, and I'm very fortunate to have in my possession many invaluable items that once belonged to my forebearers.

One of my most treasured belongings is this lovely little painting that my Great-Great Grandmother Frances "Frankie" (Fancher) Mapson painted on glass. She painted this sometime after her 1896 marriage and before her premature death in 1905 at age 28. It hangs with honor in my living room. It is a fascinating reminder that this talented young wife and mother managed to have a creative outlet at the turn of the century, a time when life was not easy.... and it leaves me wondering what other great things she may have accomplished had she lived to an old age!?

The origins of this cane are unclear... it belonged to my Great- Great Grandfather John Lewis Yore... though prior to him it may have belonged to his brother, William Yore. Grandpa Yore lived in a rural part of Northern Missouri, near the Iowa border and somehow this decorative cane found its way into his family. After his 1930 death, the cane eventually came into the possession of my Great-Grandfather John Orion Yore. A few years ago, my Great-Aunt brought the cane to me from Washington and it proudly stands in my living room. I've often wondered if the dagger (which is quite long!) was ever used in some fashion, or if it's always just been a fun novelty. At some point, many years ago, the carved beard of the man's head broke off, but the area has been worn smooth by many years of use. My Yore family genealogy always was, and remains a source of mystery, but this interesting heirloom adds to the history I may never entirely know.

Ralph and Minnie Maine were my Great-Great Grandparents. They lived many years in rural Cass County, Minnesota and were what I would call poor... They had little in the way of property and it must have been a struggle to raise their 6 children... I've often thought life would have been so much easier had they remained in Southern Minnesota where the land was more hospitable and infrastructure more developed... But they continued on in Cass County, leaving a lasting legacy... And what they lacked in money they made up for in the values they instilled on their family. It goes without saying that people who don't have a lot of money, don't leave a lot in the way of 'heirlooms' for their descendants... So I feel very fortunate to now have in my possession this lovely carnival glass pitcher that belonged to them! Of course at its inception carnival glass was very inexpensive and it's likley that this pitcher was earned, or even free, by the purchase of something else. My Grandpa remembers his Grandma making lemonade in this pitcher and it was the only item I ever remember him mentioning he'd like to have someday. I'm honored to now have this pitcher, which is probably one of the few beautfiul things Minnie ever had, and even more incredible it survived 6 grandchildren and countless grand and great-grandchildren... which inspite of its beauty, was used to serve everyday lemonade.

Early in my genealogy quest I was to gain valuable friends in a number of local historians. One of these locals was Florence Garletz, a spry octogenarian with a wealth of knowledge. One day while discussing my Park family from the Huntley-Granada, Minnesota area, and a particular tragedy involving my Uncle (4x great actually!) Judson Park, Florence proclaimed, "I knew his wife, in fact after she died (in 1944) there was an auction and I drove my Grandpa out there for it." Uncle Jud took his own life after becoming despondent after the death of their only son in 1914, and since there was no immediate family after the death of his wife Jennie, their large home and household was auctioned off. Florence went on to say, "We bought a whole bunch of things that day, Grandpa & I... including some walnut chairs that I still have, and you should have one!" I was thrilled and Florence explained that a couple of them needed some work-- to be refinished and the caned seat replaced. So I refinished the little chair and Florence taught me how to cane and we replaced the seat as well. It's great to have this chair of Uncle Jud's-- he was the younger brother of my Great-Great-Great Grandmother Amelia (Park) Fancher, who sadly died from complications after the birth of her daughter Frances [see above entry on bird painting]. It seems since Amelia & her daughter died so young there was little, if any, history or heirlooms passed on to their descendants. So this chair has even more special meaning! Florence was a treasured Friend, who passed away in 2011 at 95 years old... leaving me with many fond memories... and Uncle Jud's chair.

This beautiful punch bowl is a true family heirloom! It belonged to my Great-Great Grandmother Sally "Essie" (George) Bruce Crosby, and my Grandma had it and used it for many years, until it became mine. Grandma always describes her Grandma Crosby as "poor" and it was evident in her 79 years, that life was hard and she was indeed always "poor". So I've often wondered where in the world Essie got this punch bowl?! I can't imagine her purchasing it, as it seems a rather extravagent & somewhat unnecessary item for a woman who lived in a tent for a year in the late 1910s. Was this punch bowl a gift? Did she inherit it? If so, from whom? Her second husbands family was from out East, and Essie did live on the East Coast for a brief time in the 1930s. Maybe it belonged to her Father & Step-Mother? They lived in Iowa, which would have been a more managable place to bring a large punch bowl set home from. Unfortunately, the people who might know the origins of this beautiful piece have long since passed on. Regardless of where it came from, I'm thrilled to be the caretaker of Grandma Crosby's lovely punch bowl. 

What fun or beautiful family 'heirlooms' are you the proud owner (or caretaker, if you wish) of?! Make sure that the history of these treasures is recorded somewhere, so that when the time comes to be passed on to the next person, the history of these great items from our forebearers continues on!

I have many more treasures... and will spotlight them at a later time

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Harrison Jewell & his disappearing act....

Harrison Jewell, my 4x Great-Grandfather, is little more than a name on my pedigree.... According to the 1850 census, of Tamworth, Carroll Co, New Hampshire, he was born in approximately 1830, in New Hampshire. He was the son of Anna Jewell, who according to her headstone was the wife of Mark Jewell.

At some point, between 1850 & 1856, Harrison and Anna moved from New Hampshire and settled in Linn County, Iowa.... On March 16, 1856 he was married to Elmira Sanford Sawyer... In October of that year, Anna Jewell died. [Anna's grave is located here- http://iowagravestones.org/gs_view.php?id=688935]

According to a biography of Elmira (Sawyer) Jewell, written by her Granddaughter, Harrison and Elmira met when he was a traveling dulcimer instructor. It is certainly a quaint family story, but my research has found that it is unlikely they were unknown to one another-- as in 1850 Robert Mitchell & his children were living with Harrison & Anna Jewell... Robert was the widow of Phebe Sawyer... Elmira's older sister.  Up to this point I have been unable to make any other connection between the Jewell & Mitchell families, but perhaps they were related in their own right?!

On December 10, 1858, Harrison & Elmira had a daughter- Viola Sybil Jewell. By 1860, Elmira & Viola are living with Elmira's parents- James & Elizabeth Sawyer. Family lore says that Harrison had went West for the California gold rush... which doesn't entirely make sense, because gold was discovered in 1848 and the rush pretty much ended by 1855.... This family lore went on to say that when he left, Harrison didn't know Elmira was pregnant with their son Clarence. This is interesting because Clarence was born April 22, 1864... So either Harrison somehow missed the 1860 census and returned later to father Clarence before leaving again, for good... Or, Clarence's Father isn't Harrison at all!?  Sadly, Clarence died as a young man in 1889 and his two sons in infancy-- so there are no descendants of Clarence to have a vested interest in his true paternity.

The New Hampshire Jewell's are a fairly old and well documented family... but I have yet to connect Harrison to any of them... nor can I find any Anna married to a Mark Jewell. There are a number of Jewell's in Tamworth in 1850, but their relationship to Harrison is a mystery. It is also interesting to note that Anna is about 44 years older than Harrison, which leads me to believe that there are probably a number of other Jewell children in the family... Or even that Anna could be the Grandmother of Harrison... I've never actually seen her listed as Mother only that they are in the same household?!  Hmm... Anna, who are you?

And ultimately, what happened in the early 1860's when Harrison ran off to the 'gold rush'.... or just plain ran off, it seems??

Monday, February 6, 2012

'Collecting Dead Relatives' by Laverne Galeener-Moore

When I first became interested in genealogy, I read many library books on the subject and ordered even more by interlibrary loan once I had exhausted my local library's small selection. Early on, I order a book titled "Collecting Dead Relatives", by Laverne Galeener-Moore... when it arrived, I was disappointed because it was not a 'how to' manual, but instead more of novel or genealogy memoir.... My disappointment evaportated after reading a couple of pages!

This book is hysterical! And while some of the subject matter is getting outdated today, as it was published in the late 1980s (pre-Internet!), when I first read it 20 years ago, it was fresh and enlightening. The follow up book "Further Undertakings of a Dead Relative Collector" is just as funny! I have read and reread my copies many times over the years. Yes, I eventually purchased them for my own collection because I enjoyed them so much!

Laverne Galeener Moore has an easy writing style and gives laugh out loud scenarios that all genealogists are far too familiar with!  Sadly, she passed away in 2005, but I feel like I knew her and her husband Alan for years as I shared in their escapades! This link- http://www.dcoweb.org/memorials/Laverne.html has a little Bio of LGM and shows that genealogy was just one of her passions!

So, treat yourself to a break from blurry Ancestry census records and laugh out loud at the (mis)adventures of one of genealogy's finest- Laverne Galeener-Moore!  I'm sure that are copies of her books floating around libraries, at least I hope so... Because I know I'll never part with mine! In fact... as I type this, they are beckoning from the bookcase!
 A full page ad from a 1989 Genealogical Helper

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Owen Bruce, Where For Art Thou?

For nearly 20 years I have been actively searching for my Great-Great Grandfather, Owen Bruce. My Grandmother never knew her Grandpa, in fact, his own children never knew what happened to him. At the start of my search, I wasn't even sure what his first name was! After two decades, I can follow his chaotic life until he is in his mid 50's, at which point he disappears... again.

Owen Rutherford Bruce was born Oct 21, 1876, in Troy Mills, Iowa, the son of Marshall & Caroline "Carrie" (Risdon) Bruce. Marshall's mystery lineage is another story of its own!
Owen's early life was spent in Linn County, Iowa with his parents and older sister, Maggie, which is documented with the 1880 Federal Census & 1885 Iowa State Census. Just prior to Owen's birth, his family had moved from Illinois, to Iowa. Family members of his Mother had already made the trip, and this must be what spurred the Bruce family to move as well.

Records show that Owen completed three or four years of High School! Which is interesting as his family moved often, renting farms while his Father worked as a carpenter. It's difficult to know for certain, if he was actually a High School graduate, or if this is one of many inaccurate records that exist for Owen!

On September 25, 1899, Owen was married to Ida Hoagland. According to their marriage record, both were aged 16. I'm not sure if that was an error on the part of the registrar, or if Owen shaved off 6 years from his age... later in life, he would be very creative with the facts involving his life.... This marriage would be quite short lived, as on Feb 15, 1900, Owen was convicted of felony forgery and sentenced to the Iowa State Penitentiary in Anamosa. Ida petitioned for a divorce... which was granted on March 20, and she was restored to her maiden name.

Owen was to have a pretty short stint in prison, he was still there during the Iowa State Census in June of 1900... but by August he had to be a free man again... because it was then that he married my Great-Great Grandmother, Sally Estella "Essie"George on Aug 20, 1900.

I have often wondered how short their courtship must have been!? They were both Linn County residents, near Central City... but they obviously didn't 'date' for long... Essie did have a very unhappy home (another seperate story someday), so she may have just jumped at any chance... Owen would turn out to be a complicated chance, at best.

In 1901, Owen & Essie had a son, Marshall.... born Maynard Preston Bruce, family lore has it, that Owen's Father didn't like the name and insisted that he be called Marshall... Which he was. There was no legal name change, and even Marshall's own siblings didn't believe that his real name was Maynard. Twin girls, Ruth & Ruby would follow in 1903... one twin was my Great-Grandma (another story), the final child Erwin was born in 1909. Some records, such as the 1910 Federal Census, have Owen going by "Roy"... it seems he liked different names as well as ages?!

According to Essie's Sister, life with Owen was not easy. He spent frequent stints in jail... he had an alcohol problem, and it seems liked to fight.... When he worked, he was a barber... but Essie was said to have done odd jobs of her own to make extra money... taking in laundry, selling vegetables, and relying on her Father who lived in town as well.

Owen at the left, in a barber shop. Possibly Hotel Pattee
On Feb 4, 1916, Owen was convicted of malicious threats with the intent to extort... In May, Essie filed for divorce... which was granted on Oct 2, 1916. Essie would remarry two weeks later....  It is unclear just how long Owen resided at Fort Madison Penitentiary.... It does appear that throughout the 1910s, he did keep in contact with his children, to a point. A few postcards he sent, still exist today. Eventually though, contact was lost.

The next record for Owen is his World War I draft registration... at this time he was working as a barber at the Pattee Hotel in Perry, Iowa. A well known hotel that is still in operation today.  His registration was dated Sept 12, 1918. I'd be curious to know what took him all the way over to Dallas County, as he always stayed close to Central City? 

Hotel Pattee as it looks today
I have been unable to locate him anywhere in the 1920 census... I'm not sure if he was living somewhere or in jail/prison? By the 1925 Iowa State Census, he is back in the Fort Madison Penitentiary.

He was released from Prison by Sept 1, 1925, because on that date he is married to Lola Mary (Meis) Mosley in Kansas City, Missouri.... At this point he is going by 'Rutherford Bruce'.... Either they knew one another prior to his incarceration, or it was a whirlwind courtship?!  Who knows.   It would also be interesting to know what brought him to Kansas City?

In 1926, 'Rutherford' & Lola were living in Lawton, Oklahoma and had a daughter, Gloria. He does manage to give his correct age, of 49... but his name is 'Roy' again and he lists his birthplace as Arizona! A far cry from Troy Mills, Iowa.

After this point in time, it becomes unclear what happened to Owen. By April 1, 1930, Lola & Gloria are living in Kansas City again... Lola is listed as "divorced", but later the next year she has a son, Leo. Leo's paternity has been a source of much confusion over the years, a project that Leo's son has worked on extensively. At one point in time with DNA testing, it appeared very likely, if not certain, that Leo is the son of Owen. Further DNA testing has cast some doubt on the likelihood, at least from my point of research.

Owen doesn't appear anywhere in the 1930 Federal Census, that I have been able to find. Family lore has said that in the 1930's he went to Texas?! But I really have no idea?!

For years, I assumed that Owen remarried after he and Essie were divorced, and probably had more children... which I later found out was true! I suppose it is possible at about 54 years old, he could have remarried to a younger wife and had yet another family?!?

I just want to find out where Owen Bruce went and what finally came of this man, who has for over 80 years, been a mystery to his family!

Owen Bruce, Where For Art Thou?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Two Decades of Genealogy

I became interested in genealogy as a 5th grader, when I had a do a miniature family tree for school. My parents knew very little, if nothing of their ancestors... So I called my Grandparents... Who really didn't know much more.  I kept my little notebook with my family notes and over the next couple of years, I made little additions when I'd see family members.

When I was 12 years old, I found a name on a gravestone... and I wondered who that person was and how they were related to me.  I took my information and went to our local museum, where a seasoned genealogist found the info I was seeking and sparked in me a real desire to find out more... not only did she spark interest in me, but she gave me information on how to get started... and get started I did!

I started my quest before computers and the internet were common place... back when a genealogist had to write a letter and send it snail mail and wait with baited breath for a response that may or may not come!

There is something quaint about those days before Ancestry.com and the weekend warrior genealogists. It is easy to download 300 years of lineage, but writing letters, searching for documents, and obtaining proof is so rewarding!  Don't get me wrong though, I am a huge supporter of internet genealogy and all the great resources out there!

We've certainly come a long way! And what fun to have resources like Blogs, to bring us together and allow the sharing of hints, problems, questions, breakthroughs, and results with people the world over who share our same interests!  I'm sure looking forward to my next two decades in genealogy!