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-]

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- 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?