Thursday, May 30, 2013

S is for Signatures - Family History Through the Alphabet

Finding signatures of ancestors is a fun part of family history.  I wish I could analyze handwriting from just a signature.  Maybe it would tell me something about my ancestors' personalities.

A few signatures in my collection

My father's signature, taken from his marriage license:
My paternal grandfather's signature, taken from his marriage license:
My paternal grandmother's signature, also taken from her marriage license:
My mother's signature, taken from her marriage license:
My maternal grandparents' signatures, taken from their marriage license:


My maternal great-grandfather's signature, taken from the death certificate of his wife, Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff:

My maternal great-great-grandfather's signature, taken from his Civil War Pension File:

I think I may have several more signatures but the documents haven't yet been scanned.  It would be fun to make a pedigree chart of signatures, don't you think?  I would have several "x" signatures in mine and probably many blanks for lack of signatures.


This post was written to contribute to Alona Tester's Family History Through the Alphabet challenge at Genealogy & History News.  Thanks, Alona.

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Don't Spend It All in One Place" - Wisdom Wednesday

When I was a child of 6 or 7, I received a weekly allowance of a nickel or a dime.  By the time I was a young teen my allowance had evolved into a quarter or 50 cents.  With a dime I could go to Isaly's, Mineral Ridge's ice cream shop, and buy an ice cream cone with two scoops or, instead, a single scoop in a smaller cone and 5 pieces of penny candy. 

I remember my dad putting the coins in my hand with the accompanying admonition:  "Don't spend it all in one place."  Hmmm.  To my child-mind that meant I should spread the purchases around and buy several different items in different places, not just one large thing in one store.  I took him at his word and, consequently, had many little items to show (or eat) as a result of my shopping efforts.

It wasn't until years later that I understood the humor in my dad's admonition:  it was so little money that it would be hard not to spend it all in one place.  Except that child-size desires could be purchased for very little money in those days.

My parents were frugal:  they'd lived and survived through the Great Depression, coming out the other side with no or minimal debt and the ability to make do with very little.  They raised their children with the attitude and ability to scrimp and save though not necessarily with the desire to do so, especially in the case of their younger daughter (me).  It took some years for the message of saving instead of spending to sink in.  I think their attitude reflected the fact that one never knows what the next problem or expense will be; therefore, it's better to save and be prepared than have too little or no money when there's a need.  I know my parents thought they were teaching us about saving but the lesson I learned felt more like deprivation.  I think that's partially because they didn't talk about why they were saving; about how to choose a purchase based on desire as well as need and price; or about budgeting money.

I don't know that I did much better with my daughters.  One daughter wanted most things she saw, the other never asked for anything.  While walking the aisles of the grocery store, I was often heard saying, "We don't have money for that."  Somehow (Did I say it?  Did my husband say it?) my daughters finally came to understand that the purchase was refused not because we didn't have the money to buy it but because we chose not to spend the money we did have on that particular item.  They have grown to adults who judiciously choose their purchases based on desire, need, quality, and funds available.  They are careful shoppers and consumers.

Youth is so immediate and perhaps saving is a hard lesson for most children to learn.  Thinking back, though, I wish my father would have said, "Save a little and spend wisely," and then explained it all to me -- over and over again -- until I understood.  Now that I'm older I'm thankful for my parents' example.  I eventually understood.

--Nancy.
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Listening to Languages - Tuesday's Tip

Most languages are foreign to me.  I can speak a few words of Spanish and I'm aware that the Spanish ñ and the Italian gn (as in lasagna) both sound the same in English and that the Italian zz have a t-z sound in English.  But I don't know any languages well enough to know how the speakers pronounce most words.

This interests me because I think some given and surname spelling variations are a result of pronunciation.  The German immigrant arrived in America and pronounced his name as he normally said it.  The American who was listening (the official at Ellis Island or the census taker, for example) had to choose a way to write it down in English on his form.  What the census taker wrote may have been the best he could do with what he heard.

Because of this interest I'm on the alert for ways to understand the name variations I see among my own ancestors' surnames.  Enter Google Translate.  We all know it can translate the written word (though not always perfectly), but I've found something that may be equally helpful.  After I type a word or words in the translate box and choose the original language, in the lower right corner of that box a little icon appears indicating that I can listen to the words in the original language.  Ah!  So that's how Gerner, Heinrich, and Frederick sound in German.

Google will translate from 71 languages into 72 languages.  It also offers to auto detect the language of words to be translated when you don't know the original language.  Unfortunately, it won't tell you how words spoken with British accents sound.

Google Translate may occasionally help solve a translation problem if you're not fluent in the language of your ancestors.  It may also help you decide if that spelling variation is a result of an accent.  Of course, it may be of no help at all, but it's one more resource to try.

--Nancy.
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Monday, May 27, 2013

Remembering

With gratitude to our fallen soldiers, to all who served, and to their families.


Thank you to those who served and who still serve to protect the freedoms that so many of us enjoy.  Thank you also to the families who sacrificed time with their loved ones. You are remembered and appreciated.

--Nancy.
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

R is for Rootsweb Mailing Lists - Family History Through the Alphabet

A mailing list is a group of people who have some topic in common, in this case, some aspect of genealogy.  It could be a surname, a geographic location, a profession, or any number of other topics or themes.  People on the mailing list receive mail from every other participant and when a participant responds to an email, it goes to everyone in the group.  Most mailing lists have members with widely varying levels of knowledge and experience on the subject so the knowledge of each individual in the group contributes to what can became a collectively powerful resource. 

Rootsweb Mailing Lists offers over 30,000 lists categorized by surname, U.S. state, country, and other.  (You can click on the image at right to enlarge it or click on the link above to go to the page.)  In the Surnames category, each letter of the alphabet offers several screens of names.  In the U.S.A. section, choose a state and additional options will include cities, counties, and subjects like cemeteries, Civil War, ghosttowns, railroads, and veterans, etc.  The International category is broken down into countries and within those countries, is subdivided into geographic regions, time periods, and other subjects of interest for the country.  The Other category includes topics like ethnic areas, medical, military, newsletters, research techniques, etc., and each is subdivided further.

The lists are so extensive that browsing the categories could take many hours.  To find out if there is a mailing list for a specific topic, you can click on Find a List Search.

When you find a mailing list you'd like to join, click on the link to it and you'll be able to read specific instructions about how to subscribe (and unsubscribe if you decide it's not the mailing list for you).

If you're interested in a mailing list but would like to know a little more about the conversations that take place, you're in luck.  Rootsweb archives all the mailing list conversations.  You can view them at Rootsweb's Threaded Mail Archives.  You'll need to know the title of the mailing list of interest.  Then you can click on the letter of the alphabet and choose a month and year to review the emails.

But perhaps you already know you don't want more mail in your inbox but you want to find out if anyone has discussed your topic of interest on any of the email lists.  Rootsweb has made that possible for you.  At Mailing List Archives Search you can type in a keyword and learn whether your topic of interest has been discussed on any of the mailing lists.

Some mailing lists are very active with a dozen or most emails each day; others are quiet with one or two emails per week.  I like having the availability of subscribing, reading without subscribing, and searching.

Do you use Rootsweb Mailing Lists?  If not you may be missing out on some helpful resources.



This is a post written to participate in Alona Tester's Family History Through the Alphabet challenge at Genealogy and History News.  Thank you, Alona.

--Nancy.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Designated Descendant - Wishful Wednesday

I wish my ancestors had chosen a designated descendant for all the family heirlooms -- Bibles, letters, journals, records, etc.; furniture, tools, kitchen items.  Wouldn't that be great?  The selfish side of me wishes that I were the dedicated descendant for all my ancestors so that eventually everything would come into my possession.  You may think I'm very selfish, maybe even greedy.  But don't get me wrong.  It's not that I want to own and possess everything.  It's more that I'd like to see my ancestors' possessions, touch them, smell them, photograph them, and take from them the information I could.  It would be an exciting way to connect with them.  And wouldn't it make my family history more interesting, detailed, and successful?

Of course, the generous side of me would share, if not the real things, then at least photographs, scans, photocopies, etc.  Or visits.  Relatives could visit the heirlooms, take their own photographs, and touch and hold things.  We could share knowledge and stories. 

Just imagine all your ancestors' descendants inheriting family items and discarding them because they didn't realize their importance; hoarding them and not sharing; or not even knowing what they are or whose they were.  Or worse, not even realizing that great-great-grandfather's name was William (or George, or Henry, or whatever his name was).  A dedicated descendant would guard and protect them, all in one safe location.  And the rest of the family would know exactly where to find those special papers and objects.

Let's see.  How would this work?  If the youngest daughter of the oldest son were the dedicated descendant, that would be me, but only if we're talking about my paternal grandfather, Gust Doyle.  Or, if the youngest grandchild of the oldest daughter were the dedicated descendant, that would be me, too, but only in the case of my mother's grandparents, Edward Jesse & Mary Bickerstaff.  I guess every family would have had to imagine forward, through several generations, and see me waiting with open arms, and then decide how to get everything to me.  Ah, well, I guess it won't work. It's too late.  Everything's already spread among too many descendants.

Ah, well....  It's just a Wishful Wednesday.

--Nancy.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

A Birthday Today!

This adorable little fellow, pictured here with his mom, is celebrating his birthday today.  This photo was taken before I knew him.  He grew up to be a fun baby-entertainer to his 10-year-younger baby sister (me!).  He was a bit of a tease to that same sister when they were both a little older.  Then he grew up to be a great friend to her.  After all is said and done, he was and is the best brother a sister could ever hope to have.  Thank you, Bob. 

Happy Birthday!   Love you.

--Nancy.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Q is for Quilts - Family History Through the Alphabet

When I hold a quilt made by one of my ancestors I can almost feel a physical connection with her, almost as though she's giving me a hug.  Quilts pass through the hands of their makers again and again, from washing and ironing the fabric, to cutting the pattern pieces, to stitching the layers together with needle in hand, as the quilter creates something to warm and comfort a loved one.  Even the most humble quilt has an endearing quality because of the time, care, and effort one of my foremothers took to create it.  Quilts become fragile with use, often ending in tatters and shreds, then discarded.  I'm grateful to have several that have withstood the years of use.

This is a poor photo of a beautiful Dresden Plate quilt that my mother made and that she and my grandmother quilted.  The 9 1/2" plates are made from scraps of 1940s and 1950s fabrics then stitched onto 10" muslin squares.  As a child I appreciated the bright colors of the plates but looking at the quilt now, I'm amazed at the fineness of the quilting.  As far as I know, my mom and grandmother did not quilt on a regular basis so I don't know where they learned the skill.  Many sections of the plates are now threadbare and there's a hole in the middle.  The quilt has been retired from regular use for a dozen or more years.

My sister-in-law, Jan, made this sampler quilt for my older daughter when she was a baby a little over 30 years ago.  Jan's avocation was quilting and she dedicated many hours to the craft.  She was meticulous in pattern and fabric preparation, making sure each piece of fabric was cut on the square.  All of her quilts were handmade from start to finish.  No rotary cutter for her.  She used paper patterns and cut the pieces with scissors, then stitched each quilt by hand.  Jan became so proficient that she was awarded a grant to teach apprentices the craft that she had so carefully and skillfully mastered.  This quilt warmed and cuddled two babies and is still in excellent condition. 

This Wedding Ring quilt was made by my father's paternal grandmother, Tressa (Froman) Doyle, sometime in the 1920s or 1930s.  I think the quilt was hand-pieced and it was definitely hand-quilted with very fine, even stitches.  Some have said that Maw was somewhat grumbly.  True or not, she must have been tender-hearted toward my father to make this quilt for him before he left home.  It has been lightly used and well cared for.

I'm grateful for the connection quilts provide to these relatives I knew and to a grandmother I never had the opportunity to know in person.


This is a post for the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge created by Alona Tester of Genealogy and History News.  Thank you for hosting, Alona.




Monday, May 13, 2013

Thank you, Official Bloggers to the NGS 2013 Conference

Thank you, Official Bloggers, for your healthy and abundant posts about the goings on at the National Genealogical Society 2013 Conference from May 8-11, and especially for your reviews and overviews of what you learned in the sessions.  I'm very grateful for your generosity of time and effort to share what those of us at home missed.

I subscribe to some of the blogs where reviews and photos are posted but not all.  Thank goodness for Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings (who, I suspect, subscribes to every genealogy blog in the universe) because he's compiled all the posts in one place:  Blog Post Compendium from the NGS 2013 Conference.  By my count, there are 105 posts available.  I know what I'll be doing for the next week or so.

I don't know if the Official Bloggers read my plea or not but they've certainly responded as if they did.  Thank you!

--Nancy.
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wishing You a Happy Mother's Day

The day is almost over -- but not quite.  If you're a mother, I hope you've been remembered and honored in some way large or small.  If you have a mother who's still alive, I hope you sent a card, phoned, or visited her.  And if your mother's gone, I hope you remembered her and whispered a few words of love and thanks to her. 

It's a dear honor and a great responsibility to be a mother.  There have been plenty of difficulties raising two daughters, especially when they were teens and our thoughts and opinions went in different directions.  But we persevered and they came through to responsible adulthood.

Not too long ago one of my daughters and I overheard a mother at a store complaining to someone on the phone about having given her daughter everything she asked for.  She went on, "I've done everything for her and I know she'll just turn her back on me."  I commented aloud to my daughter that if that mom loved her daughter and built a relationship with her, she would turn out to be her best friend.  I think of both of my daughters as my best friends and I'm grateful for the women they have become. 

Blessings to you this Mother's Day.
--Nancy.

You can read previous Mother's Day posts here, here, and here.
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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Go-Carts for Baby - Shopping Saturday

As I search newspapers for ancestors I sometimes find articles and ads that surprise or amuse me.  This was a surprise.  Who knew baby carriages were once called go-carts?!
This ad was on page 17 of the June 26, 1910 edition of The Pittsburgh Press.  Original prices for the go-carts ranged from $2.75 to $30.00, on sale for 50% off.  A great savings.  "Happy Baby!  Happy Mother!  Happy Pocketbook!"

Part of the ad you can't see says, "All this season's makes and styles!  One-motion Folders, Reed Go-Carts, Hood Go-Carts, Canopy Top Go-Carts, Auto Go-Carts, Storm-Front Go-Carts, English Cabs!  You'll find one of our immense floors packed with them!"

This ad brought home to me the difficulty of transporting an infant and toddler in times before automobiles made it easier.

Pickering's also sold furniture, refrigerators, curtains, China matting, rugs, framed pictures, Chinaware, kitchen utensils & cutlery, vases, and Bric-a-Brac, among other things.

Wouldn't you like to step back in time and visit the store?  I would!

--Nancy.
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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Qualified Treasures - Treasure Chest Thursday

Individually, I know each of these death certificates is a treasure.   They are for two brothers, Fredrick and Charles Gerner.  I received Great-grandfather Fred's certificate several months ago and learned that Fred's father's name is Christian.  I ordered Charles's death certificate with the hope that it would confirm their father's name.  When it arrived I was excited to see Christian Gerner named as his father.  Perfect, I thought.  Seeing his mother's name, Mary E. Sthal, was a bonus.  I was pleased and satisfied that I could now search more deeply for Fred's and Charles's siblings and their parents.

I wasn't able to immediately continue work on the family that day.  Then, as I was thinking about this new information the next morning, something seemed wrong.  I pulled out the census records I'd collected for Christian and his family:  his wife's name was Elizabeth.  Which is exactly what makes these qualified treasures (especially Charles's).  A death certificate doesn't necessarily solve any problems and sometimes creates them.  Does that every happen to you?

It seems to me that there are several possibilities here.
  1. Christian Garner/Gardner of the 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses is not the man I'm looking for.
  2. The informant for Charles's death certificate was confused and gave his/her own mother's name or possibly a grandmother's name.
  3. The informant for Charles's death certificate misremembered Charles's mother's name (or made up a name).
  4. Mary E. could be Mary Elizabeth and she used Elizabeth as her first name after arriving in America.
I'll continue research.

Images of both certificates are below.  Click on the image to enlarge.  Fred's is first, Charles's second.

CERTIFICATE OF DEATH
File No. 29357
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistic
PLACE OF DEATH
1. County of  Butler    Borough of Bruin
2. Full Name   Fredrick K. Gerner

PERSONAL AND STATISTICAL PARTICULARS
3. Sex   Male
4. Color...   White
5. Single, Married...   Married
6. Date of Birth   Sept. 29, 1847
7. Age   78 years 5 months 27 days
8. (a) Occupation/Trade   Farmer
8. (b) Occupation/industry   Oil producer
9. Birthplace   Germany
10. Name of Father   Christian Gerner
11. Birthplace of Father   Germany
12. Maiden Name of Mother   Don't know
13. Birthplace of Mother   Germany
14. The Above is true to the best of my knowledge   (Informant) Mrs. Fred K. Gerner     (Address)  Bruin, Pa
15. Filed Mar 29, 1926     Local Registar   A. R. Orr [signature]

MEDICAL CERTIFICATE OF DEATH
16. Date of Death   March 26, 1926
17. I hereby certify, that I attended deceased from Mar 5, 1926 to Mar 26 1926, that I last saw him alive on March 26, 1926, and that death occurred, on the date stated above, at 5 P.m. The CAUSE OF DEATH was as follows:  Chronic Interstitial Hepatitis.  (Signed) R. L. Sheets, M.D.   Mar 27, 1926   (Address)  Bruin, Pa
18. [blank]
19. Place of Burial or Removal   Bear Creek   Date of Burial  Mar 29, 1926
20. Undertaker  J W Knox   Address  Bruin Pa


CERTIFICATE OF DEATH
File No. 64248
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistic
PLACE OF DEATH
1. County of  Butler    Township of Butler
2. Full Name   Charles Gerner

PERSONAL AND STATISTICAL PARTICULARS
3. Sex   Male
4. Color...   White
5. Single, Married...   Married
5a. If married... WIFE  Mrs. Eva. Gerner
6. Date of Birth   Mar. 21, 1851
7. Age   78 years 10 months 23 days
8. (a) Occupation/Trade   Oil opertar [sic]
8. (b) Occupation/industry   Retired
9. Birthplace   Germany
10. Name of Father   Chritian Gerner [sic]
11. Birthplace of Father   Germany
12. Maiden Name of Mother   Mary E Sthal [sic]
13. Birthplace of Mother   Germany
14. [illegible]
15. Filed [illegible]   Local Registar   H. M. Maxwell [signature]

MEDICAL CERTIFICATE OF DEATH
16. Date of Death   June 12, 1929
17. I hereby certify, that I attended deceased from June 10, 1929 to June 12, 1929, that I last saw him alive on June 12, 1929, and that death occurred, on the date stated above, at 8.15 P.m. The CAUSE OF DEATH was as follows:  Pneumonia Bronchial.  Contributory  Acute Bronchitis   (duration)  7 days
18. ... Did an operation precede death?  No   Was there an autopsy?  No   What test contributed to diagnosis?  Clinical Signs    Signed R. M. Christian M. D.   6-13-29   (Address) Conoquenessing [sic] Pa
19. Place of Burial or Removal   Ross [illegible word] Cem.   Date of Burial  June 14, 1929
20. Undertaker  M. A. Berkemer   Address  Butler, Pa

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

P is for Patience and Persistence - Family History Through the Alphabet

Patience and persistence are sister attributes that make life more successful for family historians.  If we don't start with them, we surely acquire them along the way.

We patiently wait till we can arrange the visit to the courthouse two states away; for the response to our letter of inquiry from the sexton of the cemetery; for FamilySearch to index a record group or patiently browse the images one at a time.  Then when we get to the courthouse and learn that they're not really thrilled to have "guests," we persistently (and very politely) persuade them to let us have a look.  When there's an online site that continues to add more material, we return on a regular basis to search once again for that particular ancestor.  We keep digging through those unindexed records (unless we're willing to patiently wait).

The following experience was a good early lesson.  In 2007, not long after I'd begun working on family history, I was trying to find the Lutheran Church records for my German-born great-grandfather who lived in Steubenville, Ohio.  I discovered the name of the church as it was in 1870, then noticed that its name evolved several times through the next 40 years.  When I learned that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America had records for most of its parishes, I contacted them.  By U.S. mail.  (I can't remember if it was their choice or my preference.)  I corresponded across five letters to different people and different offices until I finally learned that they had no records for my grandfather's church.  Hmmm.  What to do next?  I contacted the Steubenville public library to ask if they knew where records might be.  I learned that my grandfather's Lutheran Church had joined with the United Church of Christ.  It's name had changed once again but it was easy to find on the internet.  I contacted the church and learned that they did, indeed, have records from the time the church began and that yes, they had a church historian who would not only search the records but was able to read old German.

I felt as if I'd struck gold - and as though I'd been panning for a year!  That early lesson in patience and persistence has stuck with me.  I can't give up when the first answer is unhelpful.  I have to keep keep looking and waiting till I find the resource, record, or help I need.  As for patience, sometimes it helps to let an ancestor rest and return to him or her a little later.  I let search options stew in my brain for a while and sometimes when I return to the search, I find just what I was hoping to find. Patience and persistence have become my friends.

Perhaps you have had similar experiences?


This is a post for Alona Tester's Family History Through the Alphabet challenge at Genealogy and History News.  Thanks for creating and hosting, Alona.


--Nancy.
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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Old Map, Current Map, Homestead - Mappy Monday

Since first seeing this 1909 photo of my ancestor Dixon Bartley's home, I've wanted to know if it still existed and where it was located in Butler County, Pennsylvania.  I have an 1874 map of Butler County property owners and discovered two locations in Parker Township with "D. Bartley" as property owner.  The map names towns, railroads, creeks, school houses, a saloon, and oil wells; but no streets are named. 

A few weeks ago ProQuest offered free access to their Historic Map Works™ database during Library Week, 2013.  ProQuest is often available at public libraries but Historic Map Works was new to me.  I spent an evening searching for maps of the places where my ancestors lived, finally narrowing my search to Dixon's property. 

The map of Parker Township, Butler County, PA, below, is one I already had.  It is nearly identical to the one at Historic Map Works™ (except theirs is pink).  You can see "D. Bartley" twice on the road that borders and splits from the railroad track south of Martinsburg.  I wanted to know the name of that road.  I'm comfortable with modern maps but I really need road and street names to get around.

At Historic Map Works™ I was able to overlay the old map onto a current one.  The view, below, is at 100% opacity.  I couldn't see the current map behind the old map. 

I played with the opacity until finally, at 16%, I was able to see the old map with property owners' names and road locations and the new map with streets names.  The map overlay does not exactly align both maps but layers them so that the roads on both maps can be seen parallel to each other. 
Seeing both maps together, I realized that if Dixon's house existed on one of the two properties and if it were still standing, it would likely be on Bruin Road between Daubenspeck Road on the east and Snake Road on the west; or west of Snake Road.  By knowing the names of streets I hoped I might be able to locate the house.  I switched to the satellite view but didn't find it helpful.

I decided to begin searching at the Butler County Auditor's office on their Webmap Viewer to see if they showed photos of homes.  Even though I didn't know an address I hoped that the website would provide addresses.  It gave only property parcel numbers.  It was hard to tell much from the aerial view and the markings on the map.  Tired and exasperated, I went to bed.

I couldn't get Dixon's house on Bruin Road off my mind.  Now that I knew an approximate location I wanted to know if it still existed and what it looked like if it did.  The next day I decided to try a different approach.  I went to Google Maps and typed in Bruin Road, Petrolia, PA.  I love Google Maps street view because I can stop anywhere along the way and pan the camera 360°.  The little man in the box at lower right of the screen indicates where I am on the street and which direction I'm headed.  The views of homes are not high quality but I can get an idea what they look like.

Once there, I moved to street view and traveled along Bruin Road, a rural two-lane road.  I was looking for houses between Snake Road and Daubenspeck Road.  I knew from the photo of Dixon's home that there was a hill behind his house.  As I was traveling east along the road I noticed that the terrain on the right (south) was low and on the left (north) was hilly.  I began paying closer attention to the buildings on the left.   You see the home on the left in the photo below?  Is it?  Could it be?
Courtesy of Google Earth

I arrived at what I believe is Dixon Bartley's old home.  I was elated.  I tried to get closer for a clearer image but it was not possible.  What do you think?  The same house or not?
Image on right courtesy of Google Earth
It looks as much like Dixon's home as any I've seen though it looks somewhat the worse for wear.  The wide front steps are gone, replaced by a bannister across the upper porch, and the detail on the porch posts on either side of the old steps is gone.  The steps on the left side of the house look like they may be gone, too.  The railing between the dormer windows is gone.  And that long, beautiful walkway is gone.  But the structure looks very much the same though not quite so loved.  This photo was taken in May, 2009.  The home may or may not still be there. 

Dixon passed away in April, 1900.  He divided his property like this:
  • Thomas Bartley received 53 acres of land known as the James Dickson farm.
  • Alvira (Elvira) Gerner received forty acres of the old homestead on which she then resided.
  • Edward Boyed (probably Boyd) received 43 acres which was known as his mother Jane Bartley's share off the East end of the old homestead subject to the reserves in Fred Gerner's & Ace Steel's deeds, for roads & limestone. 
  • Lavina Steel received 40 acres off the old homestead.
  • Gilmore Bartley heirs, Ross Bartley, Clara Bartley & Edward Bartley, received 100 acres joining Henry Daubenspeck, Thomas B. Smith on the South, the widow Walley on the West, Elexander Thompson on the north, Henry Daubenspeck & other on the East. 
  • Bell Steel & heirs received 50 acres in Fairview & Parker Township known as part of Thom Graig farm. 
  • Dixon's executor was to sell 41 acres lying West of Edward Boyed's share, the money to be applied to paying Sula Bartley (widow of Dixon's son, Washington) & funeral expenses, the balance if any left & residue of the old homestead was to go to Dixson Steel.  [Did he mean Dixon Bartley or Ace Steel?]
  • No division was to be made of the above property during Dixon's lifetime. 
It would be interesting to trace the ownership of the property from Dixon to now.  While I still don't have a street address, I think it would be fairly easy to find Dixon's home -- if I could only persuade my husband to go on a road trip....

--Nancy.
.o

Friday, May 3, 2013

Granola by the Recipe - Family Recipe Friday

Someone recently told me that everyone thinks their granola recipe is the best.  I've tried others and I have to disagree, but out of respect to others, I won't tell you that this is the best granola.  I will tell you, though, that this recipe is adaptable.

Heat together until combined:
1 c. oil
3 1/2 c. honey (18-20 oz.)

In a large bowl mix:
14 c. instant rolled oats (42-oz. canister)
3 c. sunflower seeds (~14 oz.)
1 1/3 c. toasted wheat germ (~11-12 oz.)
3 c. cashews (~18-20 oz.)
3 c. peanuts (~24 oz.)

Gently pour the warm oil/honey mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are completely coated.  It should be moist but not sticky.  If it's sticky, gradually add and mix in more of one of the ingredients.

Heat oven to 250 degrees.  Spread the granola over 4 large cookie sheets so that it's no deeper than 1-2".  Bake in oven for 1 hour.  Turn and bake another hour or until the granola drys out and looks light gold.  Remove from cookie sheets onto wax paper-covered newspapers and let cool.  Store in airtight containers.

The best way to eat this granola, in my opinion, is to put about half a cup of your favorite vanilla yogurt in a bowl, then coat it with just as much granola.  Yes, I know.   Someone once told me that this is just a convenient way of having dessert for breakfast.  That may be so, but it's healthy, filling, and delicious.  Comfort food, really.  (My husband's opinion is that it's best with milk.)

About the adaptability part:  If you happen not to like cashews, you can substitute almonds or walnuts or pecans or any other nut, as long as you substitute by measure, not by weight.  You can use fewer peanuts and more cashews, or more peanuts and fewer cashews, or more oats and less of something else.  You can cut the recipe in half, though I wouldn't recommend doubling it because it already makes such a huge quantity.  Our 4 cookie sheets completely fill two shelves of our oven.

This is an expensive recipe to make with the price of nuts so high:  we consider it an extravagant treat when we make it these days and enjoy every morsel.

If you have questions, please leave a comment and I'll respond.

Enjoy!

--Nancy.
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Thursday, May 2, 2013

O is for Occupations - Family History Through the Alphabet

O is for occupations, specifically carpenter and wagon maker.  I have several in my family, on both sides.

On my maternal side
There were four generations of Bickerstaff men who were carpenters.
  • Generation 1:  Ellis Bickerstaff (1840-1907) was a listed in the 1880 census as carpenter and in the 1900 census as bench carpenter.  Ellis orginally lived in Steubenville, Ohio, then later moved to McKeesport, Pennsylvania.
  • Generation 2:  Edward Jesse Bickerstaff (1871-1945), son of Ellis and Emma (Nelson) Bickerstaff, was also a carpenter.  He was born in Jefferson County, Ohio, then moved to Mineral Ridge, Trumbull County, Ohio.  At least one house he built still exists there.
  • Generation 3:  Edward Bickerstaff (1904-1962), son of Edward Jesse and Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff, also worked as a carpenter in the Trumbull County area.
  • Generation 4:  Edward C. Bickerstaff (1923-1983), son of Edward and Agnes (Pressell), worked as a carpenter in Trumbull County.

Henry Carl Meinzen was both carpenter and wagon-maker according to various resources.  He emigrated from Germany in 1866 and lived in Steubenville and Jefferson County from about 1870 until his death in 1925.  His son, William Carl Robert Meinzen, married Edward Jesse Bickerstaff's daughter, Emma Virginia Bickerstaff.  I sometimes wonder if the children met because their fathers shared a profession and knew each other.  Were Henry and Edward Jesse in a carpenter's union?  No records have yet been found for a carpenter's union in Steubenville.

On my paternal side
Dixon Bartley (1806-1900) was listed as a farmer in census records but a newspaper article mentioned that he also worked as a wagon maker in Martinsburg, Butler County, Pennsylvania.

When I think about these men who worked with wood a century or more ago, I try to imagine what they would think of our modern tools:  power and table saws, electric drills, nailers, and sanders.  How much more quickly their work would have gone with such tools.  And yet I think they would would have felt a loss of some satisfaction in the work, of measuring, cutting, and accurately chiseling a tendon to fit snugly into a mortice; dovetails to fit neatly together; of seeing a house or barn erected as a result of the labors of their own hands; of seeing a wagon surviving the repeated jostling over unpaved roads and holding fast.  Surely they would have missed the joy of using real wood instead of today's modern composites.

I have nothing to recognize or commemorate their work, no artifacts of any of their efforts, no photographs, no tools passed through the generations.  Yet I can imagine their satisfaction in work well done and a good night's sleep at the end of the day.  Well done, Grandfathers, uncle, and cousin.


This post was written for the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge, created and hosted by Alona Tester of  Genealogy & History News.  Thanks, Alona.

Image from Woodworking Tools 1600-1900 by Peter C. Welsh, available at Project Gutenberg.


--Nancy.
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lucile Hepler, School Girl - Wednesday's Child

I like to imagine Lucile Hepler as a lively, healthy school girl wearing the fashions of the time:  a slightly drop-waisted dress and a big hair bow.  "School Girl" she was, as her death certificate states, at the time she passed away on February 2, 1912.

Lucile's life and death seem shrouded in uncertainty and questions.  There are county records, state records, family records, an obituary, and a gravestone.  They disagree on nearly every aspect of her birth, cause of death, and date of death.  I'm satisfied that the government records are more accurate than the dates recorded by family members but I find the other information interesting, too.

On May 21, 1904, Lucile's mother, Ida Gerner Hepler, recorded Lucile's birth date as March 27, 1904, at the Harrison County Courthouse in Cadiz, Ohio.  Lucile's father was named as Harry Hepler.

By October, 1904, Lucile and her mother, Ida, were living in Fredonia, Pennsylvania.  Lucile's father may also have moved back to Pennsylvania with them but there is no further mention of him.  On October 9, 1904, Ida passed away.  An obituary in October 11, 1904 issue of The Butler Eagle tells us that consumption was her cause of death.  It  mentions neither her husband nor her daughter. 

At that time, Lucile, just over 6 months old, must have been taken to live with her grandparents, Frederick K. and Elvira Gerner.  Elvira was 50 years old at the time with at least two children living at home:  Brendice, age 9, and Paul, age 6.  Fourteen-year-old Warren and 16-year-old Beulah were also probably living at home.  As a mother of 16 children, Elvira was surely skilled in childcare but probably appreciated the help of her daughters in caring for such a young baby.

There is no record of the years between Ida's death and Lucile's death on February 2, 1912.  We can only surmise that Fred and Elvira provided loving care for little Ida.  Since her death certificate identified Lucile as "School Girl" we can assume that she was provided with educational opportunities.

On January 14, 1912, Lucile was under the care of a doctor who diagnosed her with tuberculosis.  She died on February 2, 1912.  On her death certificate the doctor stated her cause of death as "acute miliary tuberculosis."  Based on her county birth record, she was 7 years, 10 months old.

Lucile's obituary in the February 3, 1912, issue of The Butler Citizen says, "Lucille H. Hepler, aged six years, daughter of Harry and Ida Hepler, died Friday morning at the home of the grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred H. [K.] Gerner of Jefferson township from typhoid fever. The remains will be taken to Petrolia for burial today. Interment will be made in the Bear Creek Cemetery."

There are other discrepancies between records.  A family Bible, her death certificate, and her grave marker give Lucile's birth year as 1905.  Did they call come from  the same family member whose memory was less than accurate?  Tuberculosis, as stated on the death certificate, and typhoid fever, as stated in the obituary, are very different diseases.  The only consistency among all the records is that Lucile was the daughter of Harry and Ida (Gerner) Hepler and that she was buried at Bear Creek Cemetery in Petrolia, Butler County, Pennsylvania.

It is interesting that Ida died of consumption, also known as tuberculosis, and Lucile died of miliary tuberculosis.  It seems possible that Lucile was infected by her mother but the disease remained dormant for several years. 

I've been searching for Lucile's father, Harry H. Hepler.  I know that he was a glass blower.  A man with the same name, also a glass worker, married a woman named Rose Heim or Hyme a few years after Ida's death.  They lived in Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio, for many years.  Unfortunately, I've been unable to locate any document that connects that Harry Hepler to Ida Gerner and to Rose Heim.

Though brief, I hope that Ida led a happy life with her grandparents and aunts and uncles.

--Nancy.




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