Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lucy (VanKirk) Bickersatff - Sunday's Obituary

Lucy VanKirk was the wife of William H. Bickerstaff.  Her maiden name is sometimes written as Van Kirk, other times as Van Kirk.  She died on October 25, 1967.

Mrs. Bickerstaff, 74,
   Dies; Rites Saturday
   MINERAL RIDGE  —  Mrs.
Lucy Bickerstaff, 74, of the
Windsor Nursing Home, 135 Illi-
nois Ave., Youngstown, died of
a kidney infection at 1:30 a.m.
today in North Side Hospital
where she had been a patient
since Monday.
   Mrs. Bickerstaff was born
July 13, 1893 in Steubenville, a
daughter of Joseph and Sidina
Van Kirk, and came here 55
years ago.  She was a member
of the Methodist Church.  Her
husband, William, to whom she
was married in 1909, died in
1958.
   She leaves three daughters,
Mrs. Emma Miller of Orlando,
Fla., Mrs. Helen McCormick of
Mineral Ridge and Mrs. Marian
Chalker of Girard; four sons,
William of Canfield, Robert and
Clarence, both of Austintown,
and Daniel of Houston, Tex.;
two sisters, Mrs. Mary Evans
and Mrs. Cora Carr, both of
Warren; a brother, Isaac of
Burbank, Calif.; 31 grandchil-
dren and 25 great-
grandchildren.
   Services will be held at 1:30
p.m. Friday at the Lane Funer-
al Home Mineral Ridge chapel,
where friends may call from 7
to 9 p.m. Thursday.

This is an undated clipping from an unidentified newspaper.  My guess is that it is from The Youngstown Vindicator or The Niles Times.  Further research will, I'm sure, identify which newspaper.

--Nancy.

Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Coal Mine, Steel Mill - Sepia Saturday 279

There is a history of hard-working miners and steel workers in my family, aside from my hard-working men and women of other occupations.  These men worked in coal mines and steel mills in England and the U.S.  The Sepia Saturday 279 photo is an image of a factory scene with suggested themes of safety, danger, and industry.  Sadly, I have few photographs of my ancestors at work.

Coal Miners
Inside #7 Mine, Stoneboro, Pa.  Gust Doyle is center back.
When I imagine the depth and darkness of coal mines I am grateful to live above-ground with daily light.  When I think of the narrowness and confines of a coal mine I feel claustrophobic.  Were my miner ancestors drawn into that work out of necessity -- they needed work and it was available -- or were there other reasons for their choices?  I know the dangers were great and I can imagine the concern and anxiety their wives might have felt all the while they were at work.  As far as I know none of my mining ancestors worked for "company mines" to which they were indebted. 

My coal miners included my father, his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather, Lee, Gust, William, and Andrew Doyle.  The three younger of them dug a mine on their farming property.  They may have used the coal to heat their own home or sold it for additional income.  After Gust died in 1933, there was a bill to the hospital.  Lee and William traded hand-dug coal to pay that bill.

Andrew and William emigrated from England in the mid 1870s.  They had both been coal miners in the Northumberland area of England.

Abel Armitage, an ancestor on my mother's side of the family, was also a coal miner.  He grew up in West Yorkshire and emigrated from Durham, England in the mid 1860s.  He worked in the mines in both areas of England and in his new home in the Steubenville area of Ohio.  His sons followed his footsteps and worked in the mines, too.

I don't believe any of the Doyle men were hurt in mining accidents but it's possible that Abel may have been hurt:  he appears as disabled in the 1880 U.S. Census.

For other posts about my coal mining ancestors click here, here, and here.

Steel Mill Workers
My father emigrated from Pennsylvania to Ohio in 1933 after his father died.  He moved from farming and mining into the steel mills where he spent the rest of his life.  He worked first for the Niles Rolling Mill, then moved on to Copperweld Steel in Warren, Ohio, sometime after the 1940 U.S. Census.  He spent the rest of his working years there. 

My brother, Bob, and my brother-in-law, Chuck, also worked at Copperweld Steel.  It was summer work for my brother, but Chuck retired from Copperweld.

There were steel workers on my mother's side of the family, too.  They worked at La Belle Iron Works.  With a name like La Belle you might imagine a beautiful place but its only beauty may have been because it was a source of income for a family.

Two of my mother's paternal uncles were killed at La Belle.  Walter Meinzen, an engineer, was just 24 in 1907 when he was "instantly killed while at work in the blooming mill at the LaBelle . . . when he had the right side of his head and face crushed in by being struck with a large piece of iron."  So reported the June 7, 1907 issue of The Steubenville Weekly Gazette.  The article describes what happened but since I'm not familiar with the workings of a steel mill, I don't quite understand other than that a 600-pound piece of metal snapped off and flew 20 feet to hit Walter in the head.  He left a wife, parents, and 10 siblings.

The second death in the family happened 10 years later when one of Walter's younger brothers, Jacob Meinzen, was killed.  Jacob was a pipe fitter at the mill.  His death was caused by a 100-foot fall in the blast furnace department.  Jacob left a wife, a 2-month-old daughter, his parents, and 7 siblings.

Accidents can happen at any time, of course, but some places of employment are more dangerous than others.  I'm grateful so many of my ancestors and relatives came safely through the work environment and sorry for those who didn't and their families.

Please visit Sepia Saturday 279 for more more photographs and some stories and experiences.

--Nancy.

Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Mother and Me

Little me on my mother's lap.
My mother and I had an uneasy relationship.  Perhaps I was a squirrely, cantankerous child.  Or perhaps my mom had concerns and challenges of her own to deal with, unknown to me. 

Mom was very strict.  She was all about obedient children and being an in-control parent.  Immediate obedience was expected.  She was also a reserved and private person who rarely shared her thoughts or emotions.  Expressions of feeling were out of the question in our home, especially tears of anger or sadness.  The loving hugs and smiles of encouragement a child loves came from my grandmother but rarely from my mother. 

Whatever the facts of either of our personalities and lives, I grew to adulthood wondering if my mother really loved me.  She and my father provided food, clothing, shelter, order, and the teachings of right and wrong, but children don't always see those as evidence of love.  Sometimes we don't recognize that as love until we're parents ourselves. 

The joy I see in Mom's face in the photo at left, taken half a decade before I was born, was a very rare sight to my childhood eyes.  I don't know when or why the joy dissolved.

It's taken me years to come to terms with my feelings toward my mom and my perception of how she mothered me.  I've learned -- and continue to learn -- to give the benefit of the doubt to others in situations where I don't understand the other person's behavior and/or am hurt by it.  That perspective sometimes takes me longer to reach than other times, but I always get there.  With my mother, it comes down to believing she did the best she could at the time.  Aren't we all doing that?  I suppose none of us are as good as we hope we'll one day be.  And in the end, isn't the best we can do at the moment all we can do?

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  I love you.

--Nancy.

Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Flawed - Sepia Saturday

Above stand my great-grandparents, Fred and Elvira Bartley Gerner.  At their feet are three babies who may, or may not, be grandchildren.  On the right stand several young woman looking toward the photographer.  In the background on the left there appears to be a road and either a telephone or electric pole.  In the right background are trees in what could be an orchard.  The photo is unclear and grainy to begin with but to add to the distress there are some blotches on the left and several creases.  (Thankfully, none of the imperfections hinder the grainy view of the people.)  Had I taken this photo with a digital camera today I would probably delete it.  If not deleted, I know it would never been printed.  But I'm so grateful to have it this century or so after it was taken.  The few things I learn are that Elvira had excellent posture and wore her white hair on top of her head; that Fred was bald and slim; and that they were about the same height.  Now, if I only knew who the babies and ladies were....



At left is my cousin in a photo taken nearly 6 decades ago, probably snapped one Easter when my aunt took photos of all of us cousins.   My cousin was a handsome boy.  Again, the problems in the photo didn't affect us being able to see him.  But what happened to the photo?  Do we see the ravages of the decades or are those results of the developing and printing process?






Next, we have a photo of Muggs, so identified across the (cropped) top border of the snapshot in my mother's album.  Is Muggs is a cat or a dog?  Those blotches of light obliterate the face of the poor fellow.  I doubt there's anyone alive who knows who Muggs is.  I can't help but believe that he was a cherished pet, if not my mother's (because she didn't really seem to like cats and dogs much) but of someone in the family.

Photos like this make me wonder why we save them.  Pets no one knows anything about, scenic views of unidentified places, acquaintances of the photographer that have gone unidentified.  Maybe some of us are just savers.  Maybe we intend to tell the stories.  Maybe we think we'll look at the album again and fond memories will be called up by the photos.  I don't know.

The last photo has a purposefully inflicted flaw.  My mother is the little girl in the front row, fifth from the left.  I can only guess that she didn't like the photo of herself and scratched her face off.  Aside from a few lines horizontally across the photo and its light contrast, it's in fairly good shape.  And all the students are identifiable (if only I knew their names).


The only reason I can give an approximate date to this 4th Grade class photo at Mineral Ridge School is because I know my mother's birth year was 1915.  I think was taken around 1925.

I treasure all family photographs that come my way, whether in good shape or bad, whether digital or paper.  But sometimes I do wonder about them and what prompted the owner to save them, especially the ones that are blurry beyond recognition or have imperfections that prevent seeing the subject of the photo.  I recognize that paper and film were precious a century ago, even decades ago, and that the amateur photographer had no way of knowing how the photograph would turn out.  The purchase was for developing and printing no matter the quality of the photo.  Maybe those who saved them were frugal, or their mental image of the subject completed the imperfect photograph.  For whatever reason, I'm grateful to have the photos with ancestors in them.  Despite the flaws in the above photographs, I cherish those with my ancestors in them.  (You can click any photograph to enlarge it for a better view.)

This is a post for Sepia Saturday 278.  Click through to see other participants and you may learn to identify problems in old photographs and possibly how to improve them.

--Nancy.

Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Lucy (VanKirk) Bickerstaff - Funeral Card Friday

Lucy (VanKirk) Bickerstaff is my maternal grandmother's sister-in-law.  Her husband was William H. Bickerstaff, my grandmother Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen's oldest brother.

In Memory of
Lucy Bickerstaff

Date of Birth
July 13, 1893

Date of Death
October 25, 1967

Place and Time of Services
Friday, October 27, 1967
Lane Funeral Home
Mineral Ridge Chapel   1:30 P.M.

Clergyman
Rev. Thomas McArthy

Place of Interment
Kerr Cemetery

                    Arrangements by
                  Lane Funeral Home

Lucy lived all her adult life in Mineral Ridge but I don't remember ever meeting her.

--Nancy.
.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

William H. Bickerstaff - Sunday's Obituary

William H. Bickerstaff is the son of Edward Jesse and Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff.  He was a carpenter for the Mineral Ridge Methodist Church.  I don't personally remember Uncle Will but he was alive during my lifetime.  
       William Bickerstaff
Mineral  Ridge,  Aug.  15—
William H. Bickerstaff, 66, of
Four Mile Run Road died of
complications following surgery
in the Cleveland Clinic at 10:17
p.m. Thursday.  He had been ill
four weeks.
   Mr. Bickerstaff was born Jan.
26, 1892, in Steubenville, a son
of Edward and Mary Thompson
Bickerstaff.  He was a resident
of this area 40 years.  A member
of the Mineral Ridge Methodist
Church, he was self-employed as
a building contractor.
   Besides his wife, the former
Lucy Van Kirk, whom he married
49 years ago, he leaves four
daughters, Mrs. Emma Miller and
Mrs. Helen McCormick of Mineral
Ridge, Mrs. Mary Barnett of
Canfield and Mrs. Marian Chalker
of McDonald; four sons, William
Jr. and Daniel of Youngstown
and Robert and Clarence of Aus-
tintown; three sisters, Mrs.
Emma Meinzen, Mrs. Mayme
Morris and Miss Cora of Mineral
Ridge; four brothers, John, Ed-
ward and Dan of Mineral Ridge
and Andy of Warren; 30 grand-
children and seven great-grand-
children.
   Services will be held at 2 p.m.
Monday at the Lane Funeral
Home, where friends may call
Saturday and Sunday evenings.

This obituary was published in the August 15, 1958 edition of The Youngstown Vindicator.
 
--Nancy.

Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Found by Another Cousin! - Thankful Thursday

No matter how often it happens I am always surprised, pleased, and thankful when an unknown cousin contacts me.  He or she may be working on family history and searching for a particular ancestor; searching for a near relative; or looking for a family name.  This time, my newly-found cousin told me that her son was searching for something completely different when he found a photo of her father when he was a child.  Serendipity!

She emailed me and the conversation began.  She hasn't been working on family history but she can identify and give anecdotal information about her father's family of birth including his parents and siblings and possibly verify some dates and family relationships among her father's siblings.  If you've read this blog for long you know that learning about the lives of those who came before me is as important to me as identifying the names and dates of previous ancestors. 

Our common ancestors are Edward Jesse and Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff.  Her paternal grandfather, William H. Bickerstaff, and my maternal grandmother, Emma V. (Bickerstaff) Meinzen, are siblings.  That makes her father and my mother first cousins.  It surprises me to learn that we lived only a few miles apart when we were children and never knew each other.

When I was growing up in Mineral Ridge, the Bickerstaffs were abundant.  My grandmother had eight siblings and many of those siblings had families of their own with four or more children.  I don't want to think about counting them all but many lived in the Ridge or adjacent communities.  When I was a child there were often times when I'd mention someone and my mother would say, "She's my cousin," or "He's your third cousin."  And then she would trace the relationship for me.

I've found that a family history blog is a great way to connect with relatives I didn't know I had.  Thankful me.

--Nancy.

Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Traffic Jams

Driving in traffic during my 20-mile, 40-minute morning and afternoon commutes gives me time to think, ponder, and muse, especially when the traffic comes to a halt because of an accident or some other traffic problem.  As I inched along at a few miles an hour the other afternoon, I began to wonder if there were traffic jams during horse-and-carriage days.  I remembered a 10-minute video taken in San Francisco before the earthquake.  After watching it again, I realized it doesn't exactly show traffic jams but it gives a sense of the lack of traffic laws a century ago when the automobile was still new.


I'm not sure why but I love watching this video.  Perhaps it's the surprise of real video footage in 1906 or maybe it's the casual way in which automobiles, horses-and-carriages, trolleys, and pedestrians mix. 

I found the following passage about horse-and-carriage traffic jams in A New Republic:  A History of the United States in the Twentieth Century by John Lukacs at Google Books.
Had the automobile not been invented and put into mass production, the cities of the early twentieth century would have experienced even worse traffic jams of horse-drawn carriages, with entire armies of poor sweepers required to clean the streets of mountains of horse droppings at night.  Traffic jams in the great cities of the world preceded automobile traffic jams by half a century at least.  Traffic counts taken at a fashionable thoroughfare in Paris at the beginning and at the end of the grossly inflated era of the Second Empire [1852-1870] showed a nearly threefold increase of carriages in twenty years.  Around 1900 many of the main thoroughfares of American cities were as crowded as they are now, by horse-drawn carriages and trolley cars.

No more wondering if there were pre-automobile traffic jams.  I don't know of any ancestors who lived in large cities so perhaps they didn't have the experience of traffic jams or horse-and-carriage accidents.  As for me, I have seen accidents where cars with their metal and fiberglass frames were crashed and crushed and people were hurt.  Imagine the challenges involved when horses were involved.

I also found this brief video of horse and cart traffic in Central London in the 1890s (better viewed at the Huntley Archives website where the film isn't overshadowed by the watermark in the background).


Traffic jams and rush-hour traffic aren't fun, especially when the traffic slows to 5 or 10 miles/hour but I have to admit that we have traffic laws that make our roads seem much safer than those shown in the two videos above.  And even when the traffic slows, I'm probably going at the speed of a horse-drawn carriage.  All things considered, I'll take today's automobiles for my 20-mile drive with their comfort and speed, even at the occasional 10 miles/hour, over a daily commute in a carriage behind a horse.

How about you?

--Nancy.

Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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