Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lifespans of My Great-Great-Grandparents - SNGF

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun this week suggests we share the birth and death years of our 16 great-grandparents and tell how long they lived.  Lifespans of my ancestors are always interesting to me, perhaps because I wonder how long I'll live.  I've already lived longer than two of my great-great-grandparents. 

Andrew Doyle (1836 - 1908) lived 72 years.
Elizabeth Laws (1845-1910) lived 64 years.

John Froman (1841-1871) lived 30 years.  (Died of unnatural causes.)
Catherine Saylor (1844-1928) lived 84 years.

Christian Gerner (~1820-1899) lived 79 years.
Mary (or Elizabeth) Stahl (~1824-?)

Dixon Bartley (~1806-1900) lived 94 years.
Rebecca Smith (1820-1899) lived 70 years.

Carl Meinzen (?)

Abel Armitage (~1821-?)
Eliza Hartley (~1813-?)

Ellis H. Bickerstaff (1840-1907) lived 67 years.  (Died of unnatural causes.)
Emma Nelson (~1845-1878) lived 33 years.

John Thomas Thompson (~1850-1923) lived 73 years.
Lydia Bell (1851-1930) lived 78 years.

Click through to Randy's post on Genea-Musings and look at the comments to see links to others' Saturday Night Genealogy Fun posts this week.


Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Traveling Through Time to Meet Henry Meinzen

Run!  jump!  fly back in time!  If only it were that easy.  There are so many ancestors I'd like to meet, to watch, to interview, to visit with, to learn from.  I know the experiences of some of them are similar, especially those who lived during the same decades.  But their times were so different from mine, and they've all left so many unanswered questions.

Henry Carl MeinzenHenry Carl Meinzen is my biggest stumbling block and the man I'd most like to meet at the moment.  He is my great-grandfather, my mother's paternal grandfather.  I've been researching Henry for a number of years.  I search everywhere possible, learn a little, and eventually reach the end of options (for the time being), then return to him again a number of years later hoping to find more.  From various sources I've learned that he was born on July 25, 1837;  came to the U.S. in 1866; and settled in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio.  Elizabeth Armitage and Henry Carl MeinzenThere, in 1870, he married 17-year-old Elizabeth Armitage, an immigrant from England.  At 32, Henry was nearly twice the age of his young bride.  Together they had 15 children, only six of whom outlived them.  Elizabeth died in 1920 at the age of 67; Henry in 1925 at the age of 88. 

Having searched every possible currently known U.S. source for him, I have been unable to find a confirmed record of his arrival in the U.S., nor information of his homeland (let alone his place of birth) other than from census records which vary from year to year and tell me he hailed from Prussia or Hanover or Germany.

To tell me about his life and the kind of person he was, I have one snippet of anecdotal information from my aunt who was about four when Henry died, a few other tidbits from contemporary newspapers, and an obituary.  He sounds like a character and I'd love to get to know him.

Were I able to jump back to the past to spend time with Henry I would like to ask him a few questions.  I'd start with the nitty gritty ones.
  • Where were your born?  
  • What was your full birth name?
  • Who were your parents?  I know you told your children your father's name was Henry Carl Meinzen, but you don't seem to have mentioned your mother's name.
  • Meinzen does not seem to be a common name in German records.  Did you change your name and/or the spelling when you arrived in the U.S.?
  • Was Elizabeth Armitage your first wife?  I ask because you were 37 when you married her:  that's a little late for a first marriage.  If you were married before please tell details about your first wife, marriage dates, and what happened to her.
  • How did you meet Elizabeth?  
  • What are the names and birth dates of all your children?  The 1910 U.S. census indicates that Elizabeth was the mother of 15 children but I've found only 14.  I'd like to create a complete family group for you. 
  • How many siblings do you have?  What are their names and birth dates? 

 And then there are the questions I'd like to ask him about his life.
  • Tell me about your education.  Did you attend school?  If so, for how long?  What kinds of things did you learn?
  • What was your home life like as a child?  Did you have kind parents?  Did you have chores?  Did you live in the country, in a village, in a town, in a city?  What did you like about where you lived?  What did you not like?
  • Did you serve an apprenticeship in Prussia?  What training did you receive?  Your obituary states that you were a carpenter and wagon maker.
  • Did you serve in the military in Prussia/Hanover?
  • What prompted you to come to America?  Did you come alone?  Did you have family members who were already here and settled?
  • What was your departure date and from which port did you sail?  On what ship did you travel?  Did you travel alone? 
  • When and where did you arrive in America?  Where did you live before you arrived in Steubenville?  Your first papers for naturalization were filed in Belmont County, Ohio, the county neighboring Jefferson County.
  • Did you work as a carpenter / wagon maker in the U.S.?  Did you have your own shop or did you work for someone else?  
  • You had a variety of jobs in Steubenville.  How did that come about?

And a few more questions.
  • What was your favorite food?  Favorite color?  Favorite item of clothing?
  • Who were your childhood friends?  What kinds of activities did you enjoy?  Did you have favorite games?
  • What did you miss most about your homeland after arriving in the U.S.? 
  • What was the most joyful experience of being a parent to 15 children?  What kinds of activities did you enjoy with them?  
  • What do you think were your biggest successes in life?
  • What regrets do you have about your life?

I suspect, from these questions and the way they are asked, you might get the idea that I'm a little frustrated with Henry.  You would be right.  How can a person live 88 years and leave so little information behind?  Were I able to talk to Henry in person I would like to develop some rapport before pummeling him with questions.  I would not be so blunt:  kindness is always the best approach.  After all, he is my great-grandfather.  And Heaven knows, he could be a cantankerous old man who needs coddling and a gentle touch. 

I have full faith that I will one day, on the other side of the veil, be able to meet and talk to Henry Carl Meinzen.  I look forward to that experience.

This post is a contribution to Elizabeth O'Neal's April 2016 Genealogy Blog Party at Little Bytes of Life.  The theme is time travel to an ancestor.  I could have told details about the times in which Henry lived but chose, instead, to focus on the questions I'd like to ask to learn about him.  I hope you'll click over to Elizabeth's blog to see other participants in the Blog Party.  Thanks for hosting, Elizabeth.


Copyright © 2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Gerner Family Portrait - Treasure Chest Thursday

Of Frederick and Elvira (Bartley) Gerner's 16 children, 13 lived to adulthood, married, and had children of their own.  When there are that many children one knows that the family photos, photo albums, and heirlooms are bound to go in many directions.  As far as I know, none came in the direction of my father, Lee Doyle, their grandson through their daughter, Beulah, because she died soon after giving birth to my father and his twin sister.  After that time my father's contact with his maternal grandparents was limited.  I'm grateful when other of Fred and Elvira's descendants find me and my blog posts about the Gerner family and share photographs and other information they have. 

The original image that came to me is at right.  It almost looks like a painting or drawing but I think it was a photograph that had been painted on.  For the photo at top of this post I removed the background, straightened the oval, and added a little contrast.  Since I don't have the original photograph there's no way of knowing how close to the original the photograph I received is.

Fred and Elvira are seated in the center of the photo.  If the suggested date of 1892-1893 is accurate Fred would have been 44 or 45, Elvira about 38 or 39.  She would yet have three more children after this photo was taken.  There is no doubt that the parents are Fred and Elvira based on other identified photographs.  The children were identified by one of Fred and Elvira's grandchildren and it's possible they are mislabeled, but the apparent ages and gender of the children fit with their known family.

In this photo of their living children only twins Alfonzo (Fon) and Alonzo (Lon), the second and third oldest children, are missing.  They would have been 18 or 19.  Here's a little information about the others in the photo, beginning with the back row and coming forward.  All ages are based on the assumed date of 1892 or 1893.

Back row:
  • John, born in November, 1882, and would have been about 10 or 11.
  • Lana, born November, 1875, would have been about 16 or 17.
  • Edward, born July 1877,  would have been about 15 or 16.  Though married, he died in November, 1917, before having children. 
  • Ida, born May, 1873, would have been about 19 or 20.  She died in October, 1904, a few years after marrying and having a daughter.  She was Fred and Elvira's firstborn. 
  • Della, born February, 1879, would have been about 13 or 14.

Center row:
  • Mary Alma, born January 1881, would have been about 11 or 12.
  • Fred, born September, 1848
  • Bessie Leota, born June 1884, would have been about 8 or 9.
  • Elvira, born May, 1854

Front row:
  • Warren, born July 1890, would have been about 2 or 3.
  • Ethel Claire, born May 1892, would have been about a year.  She died in April 1897.
  • Mabel, born May 1886, would have been about 6 or 7.
  • Beulah, born September 1888, would have been 4 or 5.  She died April, 1913.

I'm impressed by the fact that every individual is looking at the camera, almost as though they are look through time, directly at all who view the photograph.  This is the only photo I have of both Ida and Edward.  Looking at their beautiful faces and knowing they both died in young adulthood tugs at my heart.  And there are the others who died so young -- Beulah and Clair.  Photographs are such a blessing.

This photo came from Jeanine, a descendant of Beulah's brother Warren.  I'm so very grateful to her for her willingness to share this treasure and that she volunteered permission for me to post it.  Thank you, Jeanine.


Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Birthdays and Anniversaries Among Ancestors and Relatives

While compiling this list I've been thinking of how few individuals on it I know personally.  Those I don't died before I was born.  I wonder what they would think to see their names published for all to see on the internet (which to them would, no doubt, be the strangest medium in the world).

Living Relatives
April   3, 1960  Bill S.
April   4, 1969  David P.
April   8, 2010  Noah Q.
April 10, 1965  Chuck and Marsha P.
April 22, 1995  Holly and Bill S.

Foremothers and Forefathers
April 11, 1840  Ellis H. Bickerstaff, my mother's maternal great-grandfather
April 13, 1836  Andrew Doyle, my father's paternal great-grandfather
April 15, 1880  Ellis H. Bickerstaff and Sarah J. McCune; Ellis is my great-great-grandfather
April 24, 1870  Henry C. Meinzen and Elizabeth Armitage, my mother's paternal grandparents
April 27, 1871  Edward Jesse Bickerstaff, my mother's maternal grandfather

Among My Collateral Lines
April   1, 1920  William Dray
April   3, 1919  Bertha Harris
April   4, 1861  William Henry Thompson
April   8, 1875  Mary Ann Doyle
April   8, 1931  James Eugene Bickerstaff
April   9, 1877  George Doyle
April   9, 1897  Daniel Francis Bickerstaff
April   9, 1949  Belinda Dray
April 14, 1898  Jacob Froman and Maria Watts
April 15, 1910  Emma E. Bickerstaff
April 18, 1887  George K. Harris
April 19, 1875  Mary Ann Smith
April 23, 1853  Lewis B. Bickerstaff
April 24, 1840  Margaret Laws
April 25, 1884  John Harrison Hendricks
April 26, 1868  Martha Doyle
April 27, 1871  Alice Bickerstaff
April 27, 1895  John Ellis Bickerstaff
April 30, 1898  Paul Victor Gerner

Happy Celebrations to you, dear ancestors.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hallelujah, He Is Risen!

I couldn't choose between two videos and decided to share both.  The first is about my Savior Jesus Christ and the second is the Hallelujah Chorus.  Enjoy!

Happy Easter to you and yours!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blog Posts and FamilySearch Family Tree

Do you sometimes write blog posts in which you share an analysis of several census records about a specific individual and his or her family?  What about an evaluation of a court document for an ancestor to help identify children and their spouses?  Maybe you've posted graduation or marriage certificates and written about them?  Or perhaps you've written posts about a document you hold which is not publicly available but which helps identify your ancestor and his or her relationship to others.

My ancestor Christian Gerner was identified with several different first names and surnames in three consecutive census records.  There were enough variations in the recorded information (for both him and his family) for me to question whether it was the same individual or not.  I wrote one post about the variations and another post about how I determined that it was the same man. 

Writing posts like these is useful to me because they help me evaluate the information, order my thoughts, and make a logical conclusion about what I've found.  A few blog followers may read them and, if another descendant of the ancestor is searching, he or she may find and read them, but I think they mostly go unnoticed. 

I think those posts could be helpful to others looking at shared ancestors on FSFT.  I just recently realized that the posts could be added to an individual's information in FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT).

Blog posts can't be added as a source.  The document referred to in the post can be added as a source if it's available online in FamilySearch or one of its affiliate sites, but the analysis in the blog post cannot be added as a source. 

A link to the blog post can be added to the individual's page on FamilySearch in either the Discussions section or the Notes section.

For my direct-line ancestors I will go through old blog posts and add links to them for my ancestors on FamilySearch Family Tree.  I'll add links to only those posts that help solve a problem or give sources unavailable elsewhere.  And, of course, I'll add links to posts as I write them in the future.  However and wherever I add the links I will write a brief explanation of the information to be found in the post.  I'm interested to learn if other researchers leave comments at FSFT or visit the posts and leave comments here.

Have you done this?  Have you seen this done on FamilySearch Family Tree?  Is there any reason why you think it should not be done?


Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Little Lambs

Little lambs are so sweet, they can just steal your heart.  I suppose we are drawn to an orphaned lamb even more than to one whose mother is alive and accepts it.

My father once told the story of an orphaned lamb who came to live at his family's farm.  My aunt added further details to the story, both of which are combined in this retelling.

The Whites had a sheep farm not far from my grandfather's farm in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania.  One of the White's ewes died after giving birth and Mr. White needed to find a home for the lamb.  He asked if the Doyles would like to have it.  Of course the children were delighted and their father, Gust, agreed.  It was a sweet, gentle, male lamb they named Sambo.

There were four or five children who helped care for the lamb.  The youngest was Billy, perhaps just three or four years old at the time.  Billy was little, the lamb was little.  It all worked out great. 

As lambs will do, Sambo began to grow.  Little Billy would hold his hand up and Sambo would run into it, sometimes knocking him down.  It was a fun game and everyone saw the humor.  Sambo continued to grow.  The children would gather to go to school and Sambo would come up behind them, lower his head, and butt one or the other of them.  The children thought it was both fun and funny.  But by the time Sambo was half grown, his butting was not so playful.  He began to butt little Billy in earnest, sometimes surprising him from behind and knocking him over.  It was no longer funny.  The adults realized that Sambo could hurt Billy. 

Sambo went back to the White farm from whence he came to live a life of grazing and, probably, butting the other rams.  Perhaps he became a wether.

Our family has another story of an orphaned lamb.  My daughter and her husband have a small flock of sheep on their farm.  Last year one of the ewes gave birth to twins but refused to accept one of them.   I don't understand why that happens but I know it does occasionally.

Of course they took care of the lamb, feeding it from a bottle until it was old enough to be weaned.  My little grandchildren loved the little lamb which followed them everywhere.  Little Olivia wasn't talking much at the time but would call  "baaaa" and the lamb would come running.

After it was weaned they gradually transitioned it to live in the pasture during the day, but kept it enclosed at night to keep it safe from coyotes or other predatory animals.  After a few weeks it spent most of its time in the pasture.  When they walked near the fence the lamb came running, remembering the ones who had taken care of it.

Then one day when they walked near the fence the lamb didn't come.  My daughter was unable to go into the pasture with the two little ones, but when her husband came home in the evening he found the little lamb dead in the field.  There were no marks on it.  His guess was that without the guidance of a mother, the lamb had eaten a plant that was poisonous.  How they grieved for the little lamb they loved.

My only personal experience with living sheep is seeing them at the state fair where I love to bury my hands in their wool and then have a whiff of lanolin.  I also have experience cleaning, dying, carding, spinning, and weaving their wool.  Wool is not as easily accessible these days as it was when there was a wool co-op in the area so I haven't done any spinning for a number of years. 

If you visit Sepia Saturday 322 this week you can read others' experiences with sheep, or rabbits, or chickens, or who knows what other animals.


Copyright © 2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Celebrating Fill Our Staplers Day

One never knows what will become fodder for a family history story.  Today's designation as Fill Our Staplers Day turned my thoughts to the two staplers we use in our home.  One is old, the other even older.

This older stapler comes from my childhood home.  I don't remember using it when I was living at home (but then I don't have remember using a stapler at all when I was younger).  I don't know its history, either, but I suspect my father bought it when the need arose.  It came to me when my siblings and I were clearing our parents' home nearly 20 years ago.  Though sometimes temperamental, I love using this old, sturdy, reliable Swingline.

The engraving on the front tells me it's a Swingline Speed Stapler 3.  Information on the bottom indicates it was made by Speed Products Co., Inc., of Long Island City, New York.  According to several patent numbers the inventor was Stephen A. Crosby and the assignee was Speed Products Co.  The patents were registered in 1941.

The box of staples that were with the stapler were purchased from Cross Office Suppliers, 1916 Youngstown Road, Warren, Ohio.  It's still nearly full.  I guess we didn't staple much when I was a kid, which may explain why I don't remember using it.  (It gets plenty of use these days.)

This Bostitch is our old stapler.  We bought it at Sam's Club about 25 years ago.  It was sold with six boxes of staples.  It still works but the hinge at the back is broken so I have to lift the top to put paper in place to staple it. 

Our preschool-age younger daughter, Brenna, was very interested in this little gadget when we brought it home.  I told her how it worked and what it did then handed it over to her.  She gathered paper, markers, scissors, and stapler.  At first she stapled one piece of paper (many times) just for the fun of pressing the lever and finding a staple in the paper.  But it wasn't long before we were gifted with little books and booklets, some of them in envelopes she had made by folding and stapling paper.  Little treasures.  I realized the true value of this purchase:  it occupied my curious pre-schooler and also fueled her creativity. 

One day not long after acquiring the stapler we had visitors.  Brenna was willing to sit and visit only so long and then her creative mind and energetic body insisted she play.  She busied herself cutting and folding paper, stapling along the sides to make envelopes, then putting little gifts inside.  One of the visitors noticed this use of staples and suggested that we might want to put the stapler away so she wouldn't use up all the staples. 

This incident makes me chuckle because our visitor had no way of knowing that we had six boxes of staples.  What family of four needs six boxes of staples?  Each box was enough to put a staple in 10 reams of paper.  How long would it take to use 5,000, let alone 30,000 staples?  I can't remember using those staples and throwing away empty boxes but we must have.  And yet we have the better part of one box left.  After more than 25 years!

Not one to miss a silly, little-known, independently celebrated holiday to which I can attach a family story, I filled both of our staplers today.  How about you?  You don't want to miss celebrating Fill Our Staplers Day, do you?


Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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