Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dad's Ads - Sepia Saturday

When I was a child my father's side business was repairing watches and clocks.   A few months ago I was searching the newspapers most local to Mineral Ridge, Ohio, and was pleased and surprised to see that he had advertized during the time his children were young.  There are probably more ads I haven't found yet.

I know my dad hoped the business would grow to become full-time employment but it never generated enough income to enable him to give us his regular employment.  As a part-time, second job he spent many hours working on clocks and watches that people brought to our home for repair.

In this ad from 1948 is interesting because of the phone number.  Within a decade Ohio Bell changed the numbering system and our number became OLympic 2-7979.

The Mineral Ridge Volunteer Fire Department held an annual festival that was the highlight of every summer.  The school's lawn was given over to rides, booths, games, and food.  The Ridge was canvassed for supporters who paid a sum to have their names included as sponsors of the Festival.  The ad below could almost be a directory of businesses in the Ridge in 1954. 

Until I was 10 or 12 my father had a sign on the side of our front porch and one at the top of our street, indicating the way toward our house.

The last ad is one he placed during the Christmas season one year after he'd made several grandmother and granddaughter clocks.  Looking at it now I find it strange that he included directions to our home but did not include a phone number -- which means that people could show up at any time on our front doorstep, asking to see the clocks.  (Of course, people appeared on our doorstep unannounced when they brought watches for repair.)

Dad was probably in his mid- to late-50s when he took up woodworking and began building clocks.  They were not only time-consuming but required much care and attention to detail.  He preferred making the grandmother clocks, probably because they were more substantial.  His favorite wood was cherry but he also used walnut.  He was an excellent craftsmen and they were beautiful.

The grandmother clocks stood about 6 feet tall.  The granddaughters were a foot or more shorter.  I once asked him if he would make a small clock for my husband and me.  We envisioned a clock that was small enough to lift and carry in two hands.  He envisioned a granddaughter clock and promptly told us they weren't worth his time to build.  When we explained further he agreed to make us a clock.  Of course we still have it -- and I need to take some photos of it.

I don't know how many grandmother/granddaughter clocks he made but he sold all but two of them.  He kept one for my mother and him to enjoy and gave one to my brother (I think).

This post is a contribution to Sepia Saturday #263.  After you've decided on your purchase here head over there to see what others are offering for sale.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Chili Sauce, Pepper Relish - Family Recipe Friday

If the recipes in this collection from my grandmother's Webster's Spelling Book are any indication, she preserved the produce from her garden in a healthy variety of ways beyond the solitary vegetables of corn, green beans, etc.  Other recipes in the book include Tomato Catsup, Quince Honey, Mixed Pickles, and Sweet Pickles.

Sealing jars of jellies and jams with paraffin was a common practice through the 1980s but I had not realized it was used to seal relishes, too.  These days we wonder at the safety of it but I don't know a single person who died or became ill from home-canned goods sealed with paraffin. 

Chili Sauce.
12 tomatoes
1 onion    1 pepper
1 cup brown sugar
put in bag 2 teasp. cinamon [sic]
2 Teaspoon nutmeg
2      "          allspice
2      "          cloves
cook to desired thickness

Pepper Relish
12 red peppers
 "  green  "
6 large onions
Pour boiling water over
and let stand 15 min.
drain and bring to
a boil with cold water
and drain again  boil
vinegar, sugar, salt 5
min.  pour [??] and
let stand untill [sic] cool
and then bottle
2 cups sugar, 1 table salt
1 quart vinegar
[new page]
Remove and bottle at once.  Seal air-tight with paraffain wax.

Image of woman at canning table, above, from Home Canning and Drying of Vegetables and Fruits, courtesy of Internet Archive Book Images.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A History of My Research Goals - Genealogy Do-Over Week 2

After more than eight years of searching for my ancestors I still often feel like a novice.  All I've learned has come from reading books, watching webinars, and perusing websites.  I've had no formal education on how to research ancestors.  Even so, I know more than I did when I began.

To prove my progress to myself I've compiled a few past (undated) research goals.
  • Find a death record for my paternal grandmother, Beulah Mae (Gerner) Doyle.
  • What can I find out about my maternal grandfather's parents in Steubenville, Ohio?
  • Maybe there's a newspaper article about their marriage?  (Asked pre-OCR online images.)
  • What were the names of my maternal grandfather's siblings?
  • What other ancestors lived in Jefferson County, Ohio, at the time my maternal and paternal grand- and great-grandparents lived there?
  • Search for Fred Gerner's will. 
  • Find John Froman.  When did he die and how?  Where is he buried?

Despite the broadness of some of these goals there were purposes behind each of them.  But with research goals like these it's easy to see why my progress is so slow.  Several were so broad that it was hard to decide where and how to begin.

This is one of my current research goals:
  • Determine whether Martha (Redick/Reddick) Smith could be the mother of Rebecca (Smith) Bartley by using census records to approximate the date of Martha's birth and compare the ages of Martha and Thomas Smith's known children.  (If Martha and Rebecca are less than about 16 years apart, there's a good chance Martha is not Rebecca's mother.)

Perhaps it's still too broad but I think it's more specific and will tell me whether to continue researching Martha Redick/Reddick or seek a different mother for Rebecca and previous wife for Thomas Smith.

Looking online for more about genealogy research goals led me to Decide What You Want to Learn, a section of FamilySearch's Principles of Family History Research.  It mentions objectives, questions, and goals and gives examples of goals.

Genealogy Research Goals chart

I like the simple, forthright goals suggested in this chart.  Each piece of information or document can be carefully considered, analyzed, and evaluated.  After completing many small goals the results can be evaluated together, individuals can be added to family trees, and sources can be cited.

I'm determined to clarify my research goals.  Perhaps doing that will help me stay focused and make better progress.

This post was prompted by Genealogy Do-Over Week 2.  Learn the steps others are taking to either do-over or do better at Genealogy Do-Over at


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 19, 2015

William Doyle - 52 Ancestors, Amenuensis Monday

William Doyle was my father's paternal grandfather.  Family legend has it that he was born in Bedlinton, Northumberland, England.  I've been unable to find "Bedlinton" but there is a "Bedlington" in that county.  I hope further research will reveal more details about the location of his birth.  In fact, several of the locations seem to be written-as-pronounced, making it harder to tell exactly where the location is. "Wallend" could be "Wallsend" but searches for "Yousin Square" have led nowhere.

Neither William nor his parents, Andrew and Elizabeth (Laws) Doyle, appear in a British census as a couple or as a family.  Andrew and Elizabeth married in November, 1861, thereby missing the census by a few months.  William was born in 1863 and the family emigrated to the United States in 1869, thereby missing the 1871 census by a few years.  I hope church records will help me confirm the place of birth and/or baptism.

This comes from the Pennsylvania Death Certificate collection on

Commonwealth of Pennyslvania
Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistics
File No. 40086

1. Place of Death:  Mercer Cottage Hospital, Findley Township, Mercer County; length of stay 20 days
2. Full Name:  William Doyle
3. No Social Security
4. Male
5. White
6. Widowed, wife was Rose Thressa [sic]
7. Born March 3, 1863
8. Age:  78 years, 1 month, 25 days
9. Born England - Bedlinton [sic]
10. Retired
11. Farmer
12: Father:  Andrew Doyle
13. Father born Wallend, England
14. Mother:  Elizabeth Laws
15: Mother born Yousin Square, England
16. Informant:   Evelyn McClelland, Lyle Drive, Sharon, PA.
17. Burial April 30, 1941, Oak Hill Cemetery
18. Funeral Director Yeager & Taylor, Stoneboro, Pa.
19. Date & Registrar:  April 29, 1941, Lola C. Eastlick
20. Date of Death:  April 28, 1941, 2:25 A.M.
21. Physician attended deceased from April 8, 1941 to April 29, 1941 and last saw him alive on April 28, 1941. Immediate cause of death: chronic valvular heart disease with decompensation.
22. [blank]
23. L. M. English, house doctor, Mercer Cottage Hospital. 4-28-1941

This is a post for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, created and hosted by Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small.  Thanks, Amy.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dinosaur, Notes, and File Names - Genealogy Do-Over / Do-Better

I'm a dinosaur, technologically speaking.  I love paper and pencils and pens.  I love notebooks and tablets with spiral bindings, and real books with paper pages and hard covers.  I love the printed word and the smell of books.  (Open that new book, stick your nose in and breathe deeply.  What's not to love?)  I love all things relating to office supplies, especially if they're paper.  I don't believe I could live in a world without paper.

When researching my ancestors I make notes on paper.  Until recently my notes could be found in a notebook, on a research log on my computer, and/or on small pieces of paper about 4" by 6", all stacked neatly near my computer.  All easily forgotten and hard to find, especially three weeks later and at the very moment when I remembered that I needed that piece of information.  I've reformed.  I'm using only a spiral notebook.

My reformation continues.  I downloaded Evernote and am beginning to use it.  If I can use it the way I imagine, it may be the best thing I've ever done for my family history research.  (I say may because I haven't used it enough yet to tell.)  Being able to keep all notes in one place and search by word to find a note will be a great research aid:  help for my aging brain.

Other Genea-bloggers have mentioned Evernote but an article by Thomas Houston at "The Verge at work:  backing up your brain.  How I use Evernote as a memory tool for deep reading, writing, and research", was the one that persuaded me to try Evernote.  It is a detailed, encouraging, and informative post in which Houston explains several ways to use Evernote and how it helps him.

File Names
I think I'm in control of the storage system for my WordPerfect documents but the naming system for my image files is out of control.  About 8 years ago I learned about scanning photos and downloading online images.  The person who showed me how to do these things assumed I knew more about computers that I did.  He recommended one way to name the files but I discovered that it didn't really work for me.  Over time, I've added a variety of naming patterns: 
  • 1870 U.S. Census Pennsylvania Mercer Fairview Doyle William
  • 1870 US Census, Pennsylvania, Mercer, Fairview, DoyleWilliam
  • Doyle William 1870 U.S. Census, Pennsylvania, Mercer, Fairview
  • Doyle-William-1870 U.S. Census, PA, Mercer, Fairview
  • Doyle Lee school photo about 1927
  • Doyle, Lee - school photo - about 1927
  • Doyle-Lee-School-Photo-about-1927
  • Doyle-Lee-SchoolPhotoAbout1927
  • Doyle-Lee-SchoolPhoto-abt1927
  • DoyleLee-school photo-about1927
  • DoyleLeeSchoolPhotoAbt1927

You get the idea.  If there isn't uniformity there isn't a system.  I'm currently researching ways to name files.  I think surname first, given name, document identification, with the date in there somewhere is how I'd like to do it.  I have yet to decide how much information to include in the file name, and whether to use spaces, no spaces, or underlines between words is still up for consideration.  Newspaper articles are a little more difficult.  Two obituaries for the same person without naming the newspaper could be very confusing.  I'll have to think about this a little longer. 

Some recommendations from online searches about naming images:
  • avoid leaving spaces in the name
  • use all lower case (because some systems are case-sensitive) 
  • use only letters, numbers, hyphens, and underlines
  • if using a date record it as YYYYMMDD, using four digits for the year and two for month and day

As I continue to evaluate which system will work best for me I'll begin making changes to my image naming format.  With all the photos I have it could take a while . . . .

These are my Genealogy Do-Better efforts for the week.  I hope the dinosaur in me can return to its rightful place in pre-history and let me make progress in the here and now.

Read what others are doing for the Genealogy Do-Over at Genealogy Do-Over at bagtheweb.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Brown Sugar Cookies, Corn Meal Muffins - Family Friday Recipe

This recipes comes from a collection Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen, my maternal grandmother, wrote in a Webster's Spelling booklet.  I believe they were written in the mid-1910s or early 1920s.  The recipes appear to have been well-used though I don't remember seeing Gramma use them.

As with most recipes from this time period the instructions, oven temperatures, and baking times are limited or omitted.  In fact, the recipe for Brown Sugar Cookies does not include the dry ingredients or the measurements for those ingredients.  It was either an oversight or there were generally accepted quantities to be used for certain kinds of recipes.  (I looked for more of the recipe on the previous and subsequent pages, both front and back, but it was not there.) 

Brown Sugar Cookies
2 eggs.
5 tablespoon Sweet milk.
{Put dry ingredients
{together and make
{a well in center
{and put in
{Beat well together.

Corn Meal Muffins
1 Egg.
1/2 cup Sugar --(Not quite)
2 tablespoon lard
              --beat to cream
1 cup Milk.
1 cup white flower [sic].
1 cup corn meal.
2 teaspoon Baking


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Children, Parents, and Records to Identify Them

I've been musing on children and parents, prompted by one of the Genealogy Do-Over topics this week:  start with yourself, your birth, and go from there.  My mind can meander wide....  This post may seem far afield from family history but for me it seems to get to the nitty gritty of genealogy.  Please bear with me (if you choose to continue reading). 

Everyone has parents:  a mother and a father (though, admittedly, not every child grows up with parents).  Learning who those parents are is part of the challenge of family history.  In the past we relied on the honesty of the mother and/or father to identify themselves as the parents of the baby.  But truly, only the mother and midwife/doctor are present at the birth.  Only they can claim the mother's relationship to the baby.  Only the mother truly can name the baby's father, and only so far as her relationship with only one man (him!) goes.  In which case she can, with certainty, state the name of the father of the baby.

In past centuries, records primarily pertained to men:  pre-1850 census records, tax records, deeds, wills, etc.  In most of those cases women are an aside.  We are hopeful and think ourselves lucky to find a mother, sister, daughter named in the will of one of the males in her family -- one of our male ancestors, assuming the mothers have been accurate in declaring the names of the fathers.

In the mid-1800s some states and counties began recording births, including the names of the parents.  If we're searching for ancestors during that time period, we may be successful in finding recorded names for babies and parents.

For the most part, though, so much of genealogy seems hidden behind the wall of men in families.  Last year I spent some time researching Rebecca (Smith) Bartley's parents.  Thomas Smith was named as her father in a newspaper article and she was named as his daughter in his will.  In November or early December, another Smith descendant contacted me and invited me to join her and two others who are in search of Thomas Smith's wife and other family members.  Based on the information they've found, they suspect that Thomas Smith was married twice and that Rebecca was a child of Thomas and his first wife and that the other children were from Thomas and a second wife, possibly Martha Redick/Reddick.  They are descendants of Thomas and Martha.  If they are correct about Thomas having two wives, I would be a descendant of Thomas and his first wife. 

If Rebecca's mother was Thomas's first wife, how will I ever know her name?  How will I ever find who she is?  What records could there possibly be that would name her?  (Rebecca was born in 1820 before births, with parents' names, were recorded.)  Thomas Smith did not name her -- did not name either wife -- in his will.  Without some hint as to her name I am without hope of finding her.

That parent-child relationship is everything in genealogy.  We trust that the records accurately record the names of parents.  And then we sometimes have such a hard time finding those parents again.

Just some roundabout musings....

See more at Week 2 Genealogy Do-Over and Genealogy Do-Over at


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Clean Start Toward Doing Better

A clean desk makes everything look better.
After being away from family history research for nearly a month and without too much time to think about my ancestors, I needed to take stock of the situation.  Which individuals and families was I focused on?  What did I last do?  What did I plan to do next?  A genealogy do-better is a good aid just now.

A clean desk makes everything look better, but organization makes everything run more smoothly.  These are my efforts and my thoughts this week.

1)  Set previous research aside
Because I'm doing a do-better and not a do-over, I didn't set aside research except in the physical sense of cleaning up those stacks of papers and files you see to the right and putting them in their places in the file box.

The files and loose papers were easy enough to sort, organize, neaten and put away.  Before I moved each one I noted which file it was and what I should be my next action when I begin working on that individual/family again.

But that stack of smaller papers (which I didn't photograph) took far too long.  As I research, I make notes.  Often I use odd pieces of paper, especially if the note relates to a different ancestor or a different family than I'm working on.  After dealing with a several-inch tall stack today I resolve not to do that again.  (If I don't have time to do it right, where will I find time to do it over?)  I moved the information on some of them to the appropriate person's notes in my RootsMagic file.  The ones that weren't person-specific I put on a page in my genealogy notebook.  I'm of an age where I need notes, but I also need organization.

2)  Prepare to research
Knowing what's in the files I put away is part of my preparation.  Knowing the next step for each file is also preparation for research when I return to the file.  In addition, I had some loose papers that I filed.  I noted what needed to be done next with those, too.

Also in preparation for further research I'll decide one line to work on, what I need to find about the individual and family, then make a list of the documents I hope to find and where I can look for them.

3)  Establish base practices and guidelines (subdivided into several categories)
Notes.  I need to find a better way to take/make notes (which is not using small pieces of paper).  Options include my genealogy notebook; notes on the individual's file in RootsMagic; and experimenting with Evernote or One Note.  Research logs could play a part in my notes.

Research Log.  I typically use a research log if I write letters to request documents.  I note the date, the item I requested, the name and address of the person I wrote to, and, when a response comes, I note the date it came and what I received.  I could do better about keeping track of where I've searched online and what I've found, though.

Ground Rules / Golden Rules / My Expected Standards / Etc.  I'm still formulating these in my mind.  I'll share them later.

Sources and Documentation.  It seems like much of the research I've done in the past year has been trying to identify relationships to be sure the individual or family is related to my ancestors and me.  I wait to add those people until I have enough information to be fairly certain they're my line.  That being said, I'm generally good about recording the sources of documents.  I want to be able to go back to the source if I need to.

Image Files.  My naming system could be better.  I didn't know what I was doing when I began so file names are inconsistent.  Some start with the date, some with the item name, others with the ancestor's name.  I don't plan to make changes all in one sitting.  When I choose a system, I can make the changes either as I use the files or as I have a few spare moments. 

You can read what others are doing at the Genealogy Do-Over resource page.  Participants have written some great blog spots to share their ideas and progress. 


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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