Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Happy 1st Blogiversary to Me!
photo credit:by puffclinty via photopin cc

My first post on this blog was on September 20, 2013. Since then I have made 70 posts; so while it’s not daily, I averaged a bit over once a week (with a hiatus from mid- June to mid- July 2014 while I packed, moved, and unpacked). Well, it was more than once a week until I started the 52 Ancestors series, but since I am a beginning family historian as well as a beginning blogger, I am researching each Ancestor I profile in the week before the post goes up (& not getting a lot of sleep as a result!). But I am so glad I chose to do the 52 Ancestors challenge, even as a beginner because it has pushed me to post each week, pushed me to do more research and utilize more and more sources and pushed me to learn the context of my ancestors’ lives so as to be able to tell a better story.

Blogger provides very interesting statistics on the blog that I can look at set for a day’s capture, a week’s, a month’s, and “all time” – which is one year now! I find these stats fascinating so I thought I would share them with you as a way of celebrating my blogiversary.

While I initially thought this blog would be read, if at all, only by my family, I admit I’ve done everything I can to promote each post. I’ve made the blog searchable, and have loaded each post with specifically chosen search terms, and each picture uploaded is titled with the ‘name of what it’s about.jpg’ so they are searchable that way too & label them so that they always show up linked to my blog name (I see my blog pictures in Google images – too cool!). I put ways to subscribe to my blog on it, ways to share it, and a couple ways to search it to make it easy for readers to find their way around it and to come back and read more.  And after I put up each post, I then post it to Facebook so my family can see it, and to Google+, and to Pinterest, and to Twitter to try to draw readers in general and find possibly find new-to-me “cousins” that might want to share family information,  maybe become friends (yep – it’s cousin-bait!). I also gained readers from those following the blogs doing the 52 Ancestors challenge.  I know that I am reaching more people than just my family because according to Blogger I’ve had 9716 page views this year! Even if my family were reading this, they don’t add up to 9000+ page views! Wow!

Blogger also shows me where in the world my audience this past year lives (or at least where they were reading me from):

Climbing My Family Tree: 1st year audience Blogger Stats screenshot
Screenshot of Blogger page showing origins of my audience this 1st year

I am not at all surprised that my biggest audience is from the United States. But I am drop dead astonished that my second biggest audience is in Turkey??!  Thank you very much, but why?! The next eight countries (countries, wow!) in my audience are: Germany, France, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Canada, Russia, and Spain (this week I had two from Japan, too!). While I know that some of those are folks who just landed on the page by accident; some stayed and read, and some came back. I thank every one of you who has read or now reads this blog! (For an anniversary present, would you please say “Hi” in the comments if you read this? I’d like to “see” you.)

The top ten all time most viewed, or read, posts this year have been:

It’s too hard to choose my own favorite posts. I love all of them for different reasons. I love the research on the person, and the side research to put them in a bit of context, the writing, and, surprisingly, I really like finding just the right pictures to helpfully illustrate my stories -- although I admit I never imagined I’d have to research French, German, and Canadian copyright law to pick pictures for my blog posts! (Ack!)

But the absolute best thing about the genealogy research and the blog is meeting new friends and “cousins”. The other bloggers I read and comment on have been ever so nice, and have helped me improve my blog or find something I couldn’t (still so grateful Dara found my grandparent’s marriage record) or tell me where to look for something, and just plain encouraged me. And then there are the people I’ve met online, who read my blog or saw my Ancestry.com tree, who I discovered I’m related to in various ways  and who are so nice and encouraging to a newbie, and to whom I’m so grateful for all their help: Jimmie F. gave me the photos of John Erwin and Crawford Erwin and told me stories about the Erwin brothers in the Civil War; Deb G. who just sent me a whole bunch of information and photos on the Erwin’s, especially on a part of the branch that I’d stalled out on; Jeff H. who gave me information for far further up my Hartman branch than I’d been able to nail down; Gary McC who gave me a picture of my great-aunt Etta Genora Hartman Archer after she moved to Oklahoma; Pam B. who sent me a whole book on the Whonsetler/Wonsetler/Wonsidler/Vonsidler Branch (wife of Samuel T. Hartman) and friended me on Facebook [& I had a terrific time meeting her and her husband at the Battle of Johnstown re-enactment last weekend]; Teeny I & Susan S-D who sent me a whole bunch of photos of the Bailey’s and of the Snyder’s – turned out Teeny is Mom’s 1st cousin and she’s told me all sorts of stories about the Snyder’s, and about the Bailey’s, and they both friended me on Facebook; Roger B. who told me how to find Edward Carleton Bailey’s death certificate; Bob T. who gave me all sorts of information from his research into the Henn family and answered questions and gave me permission to use Rosa Henn Strauss’ gravestone picture via email while on vacation in Germany(!); and Kerry R who gave me permission to use the pictures from his Ancestry.com tree of the Wilcox family on my blog posts.

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

The hardest part about getting all this lovely helpful material is that each time I get something (the most recent is the information Deb sent), I really want to forsake my current research and dive back into the section to which the new information applies. But when I took on the 52 Ancestors Challenge I did it with the intention of trying to cover representatives of my whole family (the branches up from each grandparent) in this year. Just doing basics, and when it gets hard or complicated, moving on to the next branch, with the understanding that I’d come back to everyone after the Challenge was over. And I told my family I was going to do that, and my Dad has been patiently waiting while I covered Mom’s side of the family and I also want to finish the Challenge with his side of the family before going back and playing with all these lovely gifts I’ve been sent by new-to-me cousins. So I’m going to finish it first.

What do I plan to do in the next year of my blog? Catch up with (I’m 5 behind) and finish the 52 Ancestors challenge. Then starting in January the flavor of the blog will probably change a bit. I don’t intend to do an Ancestor profile a week – maybe one or two a month – as I would like to catch up on my sleep. I’ve gotten very little sleep this year doing this project (you have to realize, even beyond the original research each week, and the finding of illustrations, I only type using two fingers and a thumb on one hand -- it’s not the fastest method in the world [at work I talk to the computer and it types]). I’d also like to read the occasional book. I miss it. J

Even so, I’ll probably actually post more often, albeit shorter posts: following some of GeneaBloggers' Thomas MacEntee’s blogging prompts and shorter piece descriptions of what I’m doing & finding. I also need to update the supporting pages of my blog, especially the favorite blogs and Resources page (I have so many bookmarked pages for Canada, it might get its own Resource page - although I haven't quite decided yet). I intend to start going back through the tree, trying to incorporate what I’ve been sent, and trying to push each branch a bit further back, and blog about that, too. Plus occasional ancestor bios/Ancestor Highlights. I like blogging. It helps me see what I have found – I like seeing it as a story and not just lists of documents. And I really like making new friends via the internet - for an introvert like me who finds it difficult sometimes to talk to new people or call anyone, the internet is a perfect venue (believe it or not, in real life, I’m sort of quiet …until I get to know you). You'd never guess from the length of these posts or my emails, would you?

Thank you for reading my blog this last year, and to those of you who have helped me, G+’d a post, Shared a post, Pinned a post, or Retweeted me, thank you ever so much! It’s been lots of fun! Hope you stay around for next year.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

52 Ancestors: #33 George Butler Wilcox and #34 Mary Jane Currier Wilcox

Climbing My Family Tree: Mary Jane (Currier) & George Butler Wilcox 65th Wedding Anniversary
Mary Jane (Currier) & George Butler Wilcox's 65th Wedding Anniversary, from The a clipping from The Daily Press (don't know where) , date handwritten on clipping 3-14-27

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

George Butler and Mary Jane (Currier) Wilcox are my second great grandparents on my Dad’s side. They would be my Grandpa Henn’s mother’s parents. I don’t have as much information on them as I had on the Henn’s at this level (who would be John and Elizabeth [O’Brien] Henn).  I do have a copy my grandfather Owen Carl Henn sent me (& another sent to me by my Dad when I started this) of “The Book of Wilcox” [old hand typed pages stapled together] which states it is “copied from a paper prepared by Laoma Sanford in 1971”, which traces my Wilcox family back to George’s grandfather, Mortemore Willcock, through his only son, Simon; it includes some family stories and some descent charts. This document does cite its sources: “1. a psalter printed in London in 1822, with dates recorded by Simon Willcock (now in the possession of William D. Wilcox; 2. Family Bible of William R. Wilcox, copied by Mrs. Floyd Wilcox (whereabouts unknown); 3. Family Bible of George B. Wilcox (in possession of Mrs. Hazel (Henn) McArthur); 4. Family Bible of Charles H. Wilcox (now in possession of Mrs. Pearl Chamber).” [I have no idea where those family Bibles & psalter, or the referenced copies thereof, are now and have never seen them.] The Book of Wilcox also refers to obituaries and oral recollections collected by Ms. Sanford, and she notes some discrepancies between her sources, which I will discuss at the appropriate time as there are also some discrepancies between The Book of Wilcox and the records I’ve found so far too (but more so with Simon Wilcox, who I’ll post about next week).

George Wilcox and Mary Currier were born in what is now Canada.  Now for a (VERY) short and bloodless ( – which it wasn’t) capsulation of the history of Canada. The area on the map that we call Canada today wasn’t yet a whole country when they were born, but instead were individual colonies. At the time of their birth, the original British and French colonies had all been British possessions for about 80 years. By the early 1800’s, the colonies consisted of English Speaking Upper Canada, French speaking Lower Canada, New Brunswick, &  Nova Scotia. In 1840, Upper Canada (so called because it was contained the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River, now Ontario) and Lower Canada (so named because it was further down on the St. Lawrence River, now Quebec) were unified into one Province of Canada, and then on July 1, 1867, the Canadian Confederation was created forming the basis of the Canada we know today, initially with four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.  It was still part of Britain’s United Kingdom. It expanded to include the Northwest Territories and the Province of Manitoba by mid- 1870; the province of British Columbia and Vancouver Island joined the confederation in 1871 and Prince Edward Island joined in 1873. The Yukon Territory was created in 1898. Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905. Newfoundland and Labrador joined as Newfoundland in 1949 (the name was changed in 2001 back to Newfoundland and Labrador). The Nunavut Territories were separated from The Northwest Territories in 1999. In 1931 Britain granted Canada full independence in most matters and in 1982 the Canada act made Canada completely its own sovereign independent country. Canada is now a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth remains Queen and Head of State of Canada but in a way that is separate from her role as British Monarch. [This is a bit more than we need to know right now but once I started it seemed I should cover the history to the country's independence.  I’m sure that if I got any of this wrong my Canadian friends will correct me & I’ll edit accordingly then.]

I haven’t been able to find a birth record for either George or Mary, yet, but the Book of Wilcox gave me the birth dates and in two of the early Canadian censuses both say they were born in New Brunswick, during the period when it was still a separate colony. George Butler Wilcox was born to Simon and Lydia (Sharp) Wilcox on or about October 9, 1840; he was their fifth child and third son (2nd living son). Mary Jane Currier was born on or about April 21, 1843 to George & Unice Phebe (Curry/Currey/Currie) Currier; she was the oldest of five children.  

George Wilcox’s family had moved to the township of Blenheim in Oxford County, Canada West (when Upper and Lower Canada unified the census began referring to Ontario as Canada West) by the time of the 1851 Census – which was taken in 1852. George was 12. His father & older brother were coopers. The census indicates that the family lived in a shanty. A shanty was a temporary pine or spruce log home built when settlers first arrived in an area, where the family lived until the farmer could build a more permanent home usually within 2-3 years after settlement. The simple structure could be built by two men in a couple days and generally was about 300 square feet, about eight logs (feet) tall, and consisted of one to three rooms. The structure would have been roofed with shingles with a chimney cut in the center.

Climbing My Family Tree: Typical Ontario Shanty in Winter
Typical Ontario Shanty in Winter

Climbing My Family Tree: Typical Ontario Shanty in Summer
Typical Ontario Shanty in Summer

The census also indicated that the family were Free Will Baptists. The Baptists constituted about a third of the population of New Brunswick and in the early 19th century began to move westward in Canada, planting churches. They never became more than 2 or 4% of the population in most of Canada, except for in the area just above Lake Erie to which George Wilcox’s family had moved.

The 1861 Census found George (under the name George Wilcock) living separately from his family and working as a laborer in Blenheim Township. The entry says he was born in New Brunswick, and is 21 (which is what he would have been in 1861), and is Baptist, albeit “Christian Conference Baptist” this time (I don’t know what is the difference between Free Will Baptist and Christian Conference Baptist), so I think it is the correct George Wilcox, even if the census taker did spell his name differently, since he lives in the same township the family was in nine years before.

I wonder if he knew or was courting Mary Jane Currier yet. Her family had moved there from New Brunswick by at least 1854. I haven’t found her in any census before 1861, but according to the 1861 Canadian census her family was living in the Township of Blenheim in Oxford County, West Canada (Ontario) and they were Christian Conference Baptist. Mary was 18, and living at home. Her father was a farmer. The census indicates that they were living in a one-story, single family frame house that was built in 1854. They may have lived there before that in some other dwelling, but we know by this census that they were there at least by 1854.

George and Mary married on March 14, 1862. George and Mary told a newspaper reporter on the occasion of their 65th wedding anniversary celebration that they were married in Drumbo, Ontario, but the index of the Ontario Canada record of their marriage I found on Anestry.com (which has all sorts of other details wrong, so why not one more) says that they were married in Paris, in the county of Brant, Canada West. (According to Google Maps Drumbo & Paris are about 17 km [10 miles] apart.) I don’t know whether the official record is wrong, or perhaps that’s just where the license was filed. However, the index of the record also lists Mary as Mary Carrier (not Currier), and her parents as George Carrier (a mistake in last name that is made on other records) and Eunice [no last name given]. It lists George Wilcox as George Wilson and his parents as Simon Welery and Lydia Sharp. On the other hand, it correctly lists the bride and groom as residing in Blenheim Township, that they were both born in New Brunswick, lists their ages correctly, and gives the correct maiden name for George’s mother, the correct marriage date, and the correct first name for everyone involved. So overall, I believe that it was meant to be the record, but either the record recorder or the indexer was terrible with names (the original is not available for me to view so I can’t tell if it was the recorder or the indexer for Ancestry.com. I will note that the same record’s indexed entry on FamilySearch.org still shows the marriage in Brant, Ontario, Mary’s & her father’s last name as Carrier  & George’s last name as Wilson, but correctly lists his father’s last name as Wilcox. It also correctly spells Mary’s mother’s name without the E in front of the U in Unice. – Again the original document is not available to view.)

At some point in the next five years the couple immigrated to the United States to live in Michigan. In later U.S Censuses George variously says he arrived in 1849 (he would have been 9, we can discount that one based on the above information), 1866 and 1867, and Mary variously reports that she arrived in 1863, 1866, and 1867. I think that 1866 or 1867 is more plausible as it makes no sense to emigrate in the middle of a war (the Civil War) you might be called up to serve in while still a newlywed, and in the 1894 Michigan Census George reports that he did not serve in the Civil War. Moreover, the U.S. Censuses show that George and Mary’s first three children were born in Canada, and the third was born in 1867. In the book of family remembrances written by Lucille Henn Robson, Members of the Flock, she says that George Wilcox purchased the farm, located one mile south of Burnside MI & one-half mile east of it, in 1867 from a lumber company. She notes that George and Mary were married in Drumbo Canada, (but she also states that their first two children were born there and that both George and Mary were from Nova Scotia, which is not correct). According to the newspaper clipping from The Daily Press, marked 3-14-27, about George and Mary’s  65th wedding anniversary, they initially settled on a farm near Almont, MI and the next year they came to Burnside Township and purchased a farm, 59 years ago (which would make the purchase in 1868). The newspaper article says that they “hewed a home for themselves out of forest and brush and swamp,” and lived on it 45 years, converting it over time from the rude early settler’s home into a modern residence.

The couple had eleven children of their own and also raised one of their grandsons. Their children were:  Emma Wilcox Messer (1864-1930); Annetta “Nettie” Wilcox Sharp (1866-1929); George C. Wilcox (1867-1895); Charles Wilcox (1868-1904); Frank E. Wilcox (1870-1894); Bertha Wilcox Crippen (1872-1906);  Adeline “Addie” Wilcox Sutphen (1876-1903); Arthur H. Wilcox (1877-1955); Myrtie Mabel Wilcox Henn, my great grandmother(1879-1953); Russell Fred Wilcox (1883-1961); and Ethel G. Wilcox Gardner Ryan (1885-1973). After the death of their daughter Addie in 1903, George and Mary took in their grandson, George Joseph Sutphen. He lived with them from age 1 at least through age 18. (His father remarried approximately six years after Addie died and had three daughters with the second wife.)

Climbing My Family Tree: George & Mary J. Wilcox Family, photo used with permission
George & Mary J. Wilcox Family, photo used with permission from  Kerry Rose and From Judy Wilcox

George farmed the land he bought in 1867 or 1868 for 45 years. In 1913, he retired from farming and sold the homestead to his youngest son, Russell. George and Mary then moved into a house they’d built at 144 McMorran Street in Brown City MI where they lived out their retirement.  They were still living there at the time of the 65th wedding anniversary celebration, at 86 and 84 years of age. The celebration was a quiet one due to their failing health. The article noted that rapidly failing eyesight had required Mary to put down her needle of late, but she had until that point been very active in making quilts and rugs and had been able work and read without glasses until the prior fall. The paper also noted that George was not able to get out of the house very often. Of their 11 children, six were still living (I cannot imagine the heartache of outliving five of your children): Mrs. Everett (Emma) Messer of Royal Oak, Mrs. Albert (Annetta) Sharp of Burnside; Mr. Arthur Wilcox of Detroit; Mrs. Oliver Henn (must mean Owen Henn and that would be Myrtie Mabel) and Russell Wilcox of Burnside and Mrs. R.W. (Ethel) Ryan of Brown City.

George died a year later on March 19, 1928, at the age of 87.  According to the 1930 Census, after George’s death, Mary and George’s youngest daughter Ethel and her husband Robert W. Ryan, their 9 year old daughter and Ethel’s 19 year old daughter moved into the home on McMorran street with Mary, likely so that she wouldn’t be alone and so they could help her as needed. Mary was 87. She died seven years later, at the age of 94, on May 26, 1937. They were buried in the Burnside Township Cemetery on Van Dyke Road (M-53) in Burnside Township, Lapeer County, Michigan.

Climbing My Family Tree: Mary J & George B. Wilcox gravestone in the Burnside Township Cemetery, Lapeer County, Michigan
Mary J. & George B. Wilcox gravestone in the Burnside Township Cemetery, Lapeer County, Michigan
Found at Findagrave.com, Find A Grave Memorial # 25141706, posted by Anonymous

If anyone has any information on the family and is willing to share, please leave a comment below or contact me at the email address on my Contact Me page. (11 kids!...Are we related???)

Canadian Census 1851 & 1852; U.S. Census  for 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930; Essentials Canadian History, Pre-Colonization to 1867: The Beginning of a Nation by Terry A. Crowley, Ph. D (Research & Education Association 2000); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada; The Dalziel Barn, http://www.dalzielbarn.com/pages/TheFarm/BuildACabin.html ; Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, New Brunswick’s Forests of old, http://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/archivalportfolio/TextViewer.aspx?culture=en-CA&myFile=Forest; Memory and Hope: Strands of Canadian Baptist History, edited by David T. Priestly; The Reformed;  Reader, Baptists in greater Britain, http://www.reformedreader.org/history/vedder/ch18.htm; The A to Z of the Baptists, by William H Brackney, pp. 118-121.; Pioneer Baptist Work in Oxford County, by Zella Hotson, found at www.ourroots.ca; http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canon/research-topic-church-religion.html; Archives of Ontario; Series: MS248_5; Reel: 5, Ancestry.com and Genealogical Research Library (Brampton, Ontario, Canada). Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010; "Ontario, Marriages, 1800-1910," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XLPB-D31 : accessed 21 Sep 2014), George B. Wilson and Mary J Carrier, 14 Mar 1862; citing Brant, Ontario; FHL microfilm 1030055; “Celebrating Sixty-fifth Anniversary of Marriage”, The Daily Press (clipping. “3-14-27” written on it – I have a copy, I don’t know what city the Daily Press belonged to); “Members of the Flock, by Lucille Henn Robson, p. 9.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

52 Ancestors: #32 Melchior Simon Henn (1774 - ????)

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.
When it was originally set up, the challenge stated “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor“. This week’s post is about a research problem, my fourth great grandfather, Melchior Simon Henn …and the rest of the family in Germany.

When I was researching my 3rd great grandfather Franz Joseph (later Francis) Henn and his wife Phillipina Blank Henn, I was ecstatic when I found a record of their marriage on FamilySearch.org which included the names of both sets of parents. Franz Joseph’s parent’s names were listed as Melchior Henn and Gertrudt Grimm. I also found out the names of Franz Joseph’s probable siblings by finding other marriage records which listed Melchior Henn and Gertrudt Grimm as parents: Franz Melchior Henn, Johann Joseph Henn and Serena Henn.

Next I plugged Melchior’s name (with Gertrudt as his wife) into FamilySearch’s search fields and turned up an indexed entry of his christening record (absent the usual digitized copy of the original), which indicated that Melchior Simon Henn was christened on March 4, 1774 in Bronnbach, Baden, Germany and his parents were Joannis Simonis Henn and Annae Margarethe. Using those parental names I also found indexed christening records for found Melchior’s probable siblings: Phillipus Andreas Henn [April 30, 1769], Joannes Buckardus Henn [July 24, 1776], Maria Anna Henn [December 1, 1764], Valentinus Tobias Henn [January 28, 1767] and perhaps Simon Andreas Henn [February 10, 1772] and Dorothea Henn [October 21, 1779] (under the parental names Simonis Henn and Annae Margarethe). All were christened in Bronnbach, Main-Tauber-Kreis, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. I may not have found all of Melchior’s siblings but I think that these are his because the same names repeat in our family as the generations descend.

 Etching of the Bronnbach Monastery in the 17th Century
By Caspar Merian (1627–1686) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

 I stalled out there.  There are oodles of Henn’s listed in the FamilySearch records (and here I thought, all my life, that the name was rare!), but I’ve been unable to find other records, or indexes, I’m fairly sure of because the plethora of (repeating) names is confusing. The records at Ancestry.com are in the same boat. In fact, most of them were FamilySearch’s records originally. 
I did a google search on the names and turned up a familytree  on RootsWeb’s World Connect Project, in German [I used Google Translate initially], that appears to take the family back, both paternal and maternal lines, to the early 1600’s/late 1500’s with birth, marriage, death dates and places. Finding it was really exciting but in reality I can’t use it for more than possible clues as none of the facts appear to be sourced to something I can find so I can’t easily verify the work. I trust documentation that is sourced so that I can find the source, and, I really prefer looking at original documents when possible.

About that time I also found another Henn tree on Ancestry.com that had a digital copy of what appears to be a baptism record for Melchior Simon Henn, handwritten, in Latin (but no indication of where it came from).  So I sent an email to my Henn-side cousin, Steven Bollinger* (of The Wrong Monkey blog, check it out!), who, I had a vague recollection could possibly read Latin and German, asking him if he could read it  and whether he would be willing to translate it for me.  Very helpfully, it turns out that he can read Latin, Greek, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and bits of other languages, and loves translation, and is willing to translate anything I find in my research. (Yippee! Thank you, Steve!) And he translated the digital copy of the record for me – noting some portions he was 100% sure of and others less so do to handwriting issues. It is a baptismal or christening record. The document appears to mirror the information given in the FamilySearch index, with some bonus information, such as that Melchior was a legitimate son and the name of the person from the Monastery who assisted with the birth, (very cool!)

Steve also translated some paragraphs for me from the RootsWeb pages that Google Translate mangled, on Melchior’s uncle Andreas, which turned out to be quite fascinating, but again unsourced. Like me, Steve is concerned that there was no indication of the source of many of the facts listed in the RootsWeb tree or of the document I found on Ancestry.com in the other person’s tree.
I think (hope) that the baptism record came from FamilySearch, because the Index I found had similar family information, including the Latin spelling of the names rather than Germanic. I had noted that the index indicated that FamilySearch has the document on microfilm, and gave the source information of the particular microfilm it is on.  I’ve read that I can have the microfilm sent to a local branch of the FamilySearch Family History Center for viewing and making digital copies of the document (note to self – bring a thumb drive!). I looked it up and there is one in Albany, with limited hours. Yay!

But I think that has to be a project for next year. When I go I want to have requested several records, not just one, since I have to use up a vacation day to do it (not open weekends). So that means some concerted research ahead of time to find several possible ancestors’ documents to request and wait to be delivered to the Family History Center & then go look at.  As long as I'm trying to complete the "52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge" I haven't the time for that sort of concerted research, given the long hours I work in my regular job.  Additionally, in the intervening time, I might have the time to read my new book, “In Search of Your German Roots: a complete guide to tracing your ancestors in the Germanic areas of Europe”, 4th ed., by Angus Baxter, which might make searching for the Henn’s in Germany easier.

So I think that this is a good time to move on to start checking out the O’Brien, Wilcox, Currier, and Sharp branches of the paternal side of my paternal family tree, and later the Bennett, Gregor, & and McFarlane lines of my grandmother’s tree, before I end this year with profiles of my own grandparents. I did my Snyder-side grandparents last after going through their family tree and I think it was effective to see what family forces shaped them before profiling them and I intend to do the same with the Henn-side.

(I will go back and profile more of the Henn ancestors later, I just want to be sure that I can reach representatives all the branches this year for the 52 Ancestors Challenge to the extent it is possible.)

*Name used with permission.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

52 Ancestors: #31 Henry Strauss, jr. (1862 - 1881) Part 2 - "Justifiable Homicide"

Climbing My Family Tree: HEADLINE: "Justifiable Homicide"
HEADLINE: "Justifiable Homicide"
The Syracuse Morning Standard, June 18, 1881
Click to Make Bigger

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

This is the second of two posts this week on Henry Strauss, junior, my 1st cousin 3 times removed, born on June 11, 1862 to Rosa Henn Strauss and Henry B. Strauss. Everyone seems to run into some less than honorable black sheep ancestors in the course of their family history search. Henry is the first I’ve found in my tree (there are bound to be more, but he’s my first). Last week I wrote about Henry’s mother, my 2nd great-grand aunt, Generosa (later Rosa) Henn Strauss, who was declared insane within a few years of Henry’s death (she spent the last 21 years of her life in an asylum). In the article on his mother I promised that this week I would do two posts – part 1 & 2 - of transcriptions of the article reporting on the fight in which died, which he started, and of the article reporting on the inquest into his death.  

On Wednesday, I posted the first articles describing the fight. Unlike today’s news stories, there was no indication of from where or who the author had obtained his information, and as you’ll see in today’s post the initial article got quite a few details wrong (assuming that those testified to are more likely to be right). But, unlike today’s journalism, the article does not highlight the changed details, and makes no apology for the changes in the newspaper’s recounting of the story.

Today’s news articles describe the inquest into Henry’s death and the funeral. The inquest came about as a result of Henry’s father pressing charges against David McClure (identified in the first article as Joseph McClure) for murder; it included testimony from Henry ‘s father, the doctor who treated Henry and subsequently performed the autopsy, and two disinterested eyewitnesses to the fight (merchants whose places of business were in the area). The inquest itself does not seem that dissimilar to today’s inquests, and the reporting in this article seems more like modern reporting.  The article, in the main, appears to have a more balanced factual tone than the article I transcribed in Part 1. The final small article regarding the funeral just adds a note of the bizarre to the whole thing.

Climbing My Family Tree: "Justifiable Homicide" Strauss McClure fight The Syracuse Morning Standard, June 18, 1881
"Justifiable Homicide"
(Strauss McClure fight)
 The Syracuse Morning Standard, June 18, 1881
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The Syracuse Morning Standard, Saturday Morning, June 18, 1881


The Killing of Henry Strauss by David McClure Not Murder

Yesterday afternoon Coroner Knapp held an inquest in the case of Henry Strauss, who died early last Tuesday morning from the effects of the blow which David McClure, an imbecile, dealt him on the head with a stick of wood late last Saturday afternoon.

The first witness called was Henry Y. Strauss (sic), father of the deceased. He testified that he was at work in the garden when his son came home on Saturday evening between 6 and 7 o’clock. The boy staggered as he came into the yard. The father asked him what was the matter. The boy made no answer but said: “Help me take off my boots and my coat so that I can lay down on my mother’s bed.” The father did so and the lad lay down on the bed. A short time after Mrs. Strauss called her husband into the house, said the boy was restless and complaining of pain in his head. The father slept with the injured son during the night. The boy complained during the night and Mr. Strauss got him a drink of water. On feeling his son’s head, the father found it very hot. In the morning the boy was asleep when his father got up. Mrs. Strauss was ordered to keep the other children quiet in order that Henry might sleep. The boy lay that way until the doctor was called Sunday night, and finally died on Tuesday morning between 2 and 3 o’clock.

Dr. Van Duyn said that he cut through the scalp and found bruises over the left ear. The cranial cavity was opened and the left side of the skull was found to be broken in such a way that the middle meningeal artery was broken. From this break blood had poured out and formed a clot weighing four and three-fourth ounces. This compressed the brain so as to cause paralysis and death.

James Barry, who resides at No. 218 West Fayette Street and keeps a store at that location testified that the accident took place in front of his store. He heard a noise and on going out saw Henry Strauss and James Plunkett throwing David McClure’s wagon into the sewer hole. Strauss and Plunkett were both intoxicated and came over near Barry. McClure called to them and Strauss walked over toward him. McClure then picked up a stone. Plunkett followed Strauss. Strauss went up to McClure and said something to him the witness did not hear, McClure said: “Keep away from me, I want you to leave me alone.” McClure kept backing up and Strauss kept following him slowly. McClure said something about being “picked on” and about leaving his wagon alone. Strauss acted as though he wanted to clinch his opponent but dare not because McClure had the stone in his hand. Finally McClure got up against a building standing on the corner. McClure dropped the stone and picked up a stick which lay against the building. A blow aimed at Strauss with the stick failed to be effective. A second attempt resulted in the same manner. The third time McClure struck at the deceased, the latter was leaning down trying to pick up a stone. The blow did not take effect and Strauss ran into the road and picked up a stone and walked back towards McClure. McClure then struck Strauss and the latter fell to the ground. He struck partly on his head. Plunkett then helped Strauss home. The wagon of McClure had wood in it and part of the latter was strewn on the ground. The witness said that McClure seemed to be afraid of Strauss and Plunkett, but wanted his cart. After the deceased was struck McClure threw the stick away. McClure drew his cart into Barry’s yard after the accident. He told the witness that Strauss was in the habit of bothering him, and about a week before had torn his coat. The witness said he had seen Strauss intoxicated several times.

Jacob Sehl, who keeps a restaurant opposite Barry’s store, was called. He certified that he had seen the occurrence as elated by the last witness. Sehl was the last witness called and at the close of his testimony, the jury retired. After a short deliberation they brought a verdict that Henry Strauss “came to his death by a blow to the head struck by David McClure on June 11, 1881, between the hours of 4 and 5 o’clock in the afternoon, at the corner of Niagara and West Lafayette streets, in the city of Syracuse, and that said blow was provoked, and struck by McClure in self-defense. Death of said Strauss taking place from the effects of the injury induced by said blow at No, 314 West Lafayette Street.”

The father and mother of young Strauss feel very much grieved at the untimely death of their son, and yesterday while the inquest was in progress tears rolled down the cheeks of the bereaved couple. The dead boy was the oldest of five brothers. The four younger ones survive the deceased. The eldest is about sixteen years old. The parents acknowledge that Henry Strauss was inclined to be somewhat dissipated. It is rumored that some seven or eight months before his death the wayward son was married to a girl of his own age. The parents say that they never knew of the marriage, and although they heard the rumor, they did not believe it to be true.” 

[The Syracuse Morning Standard, Saturday Morning, June 18, 1881 (found at http://www.fultonhistory.com/ Syracuse NY Daily Standard 1881 Grayscale - 0546.pdf)]

And this is the last (very) small article I found in this matter, in the oddities section of the paper:

 The Oswego Palladium, Friday, June 17, 1881 

Things Which Don’t Happen Every Day

The young wife of Henry Strauss of Syracuse, who was killed in an affray, was not permitted to attend the funeral services by his parents, and followed the procession to the grave at the very rear.”

[The Oswego Palladium, Friday, June 17, 1881 (Found at http://www.fultonhistory.com, Newspaper Oswego Palladium Jan-June 1881-0836.pdf)]

Thursday, September 4, 2014

52 Ancestors: #31 Henry Strauss, jr. (1862 - 1881) Part 1

Climbing My Family Tree: Headline: "DEALING A DEADLY BLOW" Syracuse Standard
The Syracuse Standard, June 14, 1881
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This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

[Due to technical difficulties I do not understand, it has taken me 4 solid hours to post this article. If it doesn't post this time I am giving up and going to bed. I am beyond tense!]

Last week I week I wrote about Henry’s mother, my 2nd great-grand aunt, Generosa(later Rosa) Henn Strauss, who was declared insane within a few years of Henry’s death, and entered New York’s asylum system.

Henry was Rosa and Henry Strauss’ first born child, and my 1st cousin 3 times removed.  He was born on June 11, 1862 and died as a result of a street fight he instigated. In the article on his mother I promised that this week I would do two posts – part 1 & 2 - of transcriptions of the article reporting the fight and of the article reporting on the inquest.  In actuality, I’m going to throw in two other small articles to complete the coverage of the matter, one with each post.

In reading and transcribing these articles, I find the differences in writing styles between today’s journalism and 19th century journalism to be very interesting. I also found a significant difference in tone between the two main articles -- I wonder if they had the same author? (No byline is indicated on either piece.)

Today, in the papers I read, when a paper reports on an incident, it is careful to sound balanced and detached (unless the article is identified as an opinion piece), and the reporter is careful to indicate his sources, or to indicate if he is using an anonymous source.  The article below is not detached and the author does not indicate where he got his information, and I'd really like to know how he knew what happened in the Strauss home.Additionally,reporters today explain corrections when they must be made in a subsequent article or squib. This was evidently not common practice in the late 19th Century, as there are some significant differences between the two articles, with no explanation. We’ll start off with the articles about the fight, Henry’s death, and the subsequent arrest of the boy who struck Henry. Strauss, jr.
Climbing My Family Tree:  Strauss-McClure fight The Syracuse Standard, June 14, 1881
"Dealing A Deadly Blow"
(Strauss-McClure fight )
The Syracuse Standard, June 14,1881
Click to mak bigger

The Syracuse Standard, Tuesday Morning, June 14, 1881:



Joseph McClure, Attacked by a Crowd of Tormentors, Inflicts upon the Leader a Wound which Occasions Paralysis—Death the Probable Result of the Injury

In Geddes lives an impoverished family named McClure, among whom is a son Joseph, aged about 19 or 20 years. The boy is not of sound mind and has lived at home with his parents from infancy. The needs of the household have compelled father, mother, and children to unite in endeavoring to keep the dread wolf from the door. Joseph, the half-witted boy, earns now and then a few pennies by doing odd jobs for anybody who will employ him. He is honest, quiet, and inoffensive, and has frequently been dispatched on errands by people who know him and his wants. When not thus engaged, it is the boy’s habit to trundle a 4-wheeled cart along the railroad tracks and public thoroughfares, where he gathers up bits of coal and wood to be used at home for fuel. In this way he adds his mite to the support of the family of which he is a member. His unfortunate condition has for many years made him the butt among other boys, of equal age and better mental capacity, who have poked fun at him at every opportunity. While he mopes along with his cart, they often taunt him about his occupation, his shabby clothes, and his disease of mind. Last Saturday McClure picked up sufficient coal to fill his small wagon and was on his way home in the evening. He was met in Geddes by a party of boys who at once undertook to plague annoy and abuse him. Although somewhat incensed, the poor lad bore their torments without a reply. Among the aggressors who thus abused McClure was a young man named Henry Strauss who resides with his parents at No. 344 West Fayette Street. Strauss and a companion went so far as to tip over the small wagonload of coal which McClure had spent several hours in collecting and was drawing to his home. McClure’s wrath was aroused to the highest pitch by this treatment, and picking up a stick, which was near to hand, he struck Strauss a hard blow on the left side of the head. Strauss fell to the walk in an insensible condition. He was carried home and put to bed. Blood was issuing from his left ear and his face was livid. As he was being placed on the bed, he recovered his senses long enough to moan:

“Oh, I feel as if I was dying.”

Almost immediately, he became unconscious again. He lay very quiet, but as he breathed with accustomed regularity, his parents concluded that he was sleeping. No mark on the head seemed to indicate that he was seriously hurt. It was thought that the blood on the ear came from some small wound that had been inflicted by the stick. The family thought Strauss would wake all right in the morning, and did not deem the injury sufficient to need the attention of a doctor, consequently none was summoned.

All Sunday the injured lad lay in the same unconscious state. About 6 o’clock at night Dr. Van Duyn was summoned. When the Doctor saw the patient he was at once convinced the injury was very serious. He contrived to partly restore the sleeper, but could not wholly bring him to. The medical examination disclosed the fact that the sufferer’s right side was completely paralyzed, and the left side partially. It was also evident that the skull was probably fractured near the base of the brain. The parents were still of the opinion that there was no danger of a serious result. During Sunday night and the whole of yesterday there was no change for the better in Strauss’ condition. When the Doctor called last night he found the boy much worse and expressed his opinion that death must ensue. No effort served to resuscitate the sleeper. So low was his condition that when the doctor left his bedside last night it was feared that he would not live until morning. The father and mother of the dying boy could hardly realize the fact that the lad’s end was so near, and as they stood silent and tearful by the bedside the sight was very sad.

Henry Strauss is about 19 years of age and is very smart and a good workman. He has found employment in several different places but was too unsteady to remain long with one employer. After working for a few weeks he would unexpectedly leave the shop. What money he had saved he would spend in getting intoxicated. He was inclined to be somewhat dissipated. His father, who is steady and industrious, is well-liked by all who know him, and works hard to get sufficient money to support a large family. Mrs. Strauss is also spoken of as a very estimable woman who does her share towards providing for the necessities of the family.

A warrant was issued yesterday for McClure’s arrest, but at a late hour last night he had not been apprehended.”

[The Syracuse Standard, Tuesday Morning, June 14, 1881 (found at http://www.fultonhistory.com/ Syracuse NY Daily Standard 1881 Grayscale – 0536.pdf)]


And the second article for today:

The Syracuse Standard, Wednesday Morning, June 15, 1881


Henry Strauss Dies from the effects of David McClure’s Blow

Henry Strauss died at 2 o’clock yesterday morning at the home of his parents, No. 344 West Fayette Street. Death was caused by the blow on the head which David McClure, an imbecile whom he had been tormenting, dealt him with a heavy stick of wood late last Saturday afternoon. When Officer Quigley awoke early yesterday morning he read the full account of the affair published in THE STANDARD and learned that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of the aggressor. The officer thereupon went to a barn where McClure was in the habit of sleeping and arrested him. Subsequently McClure was arraigned, charged on oath of Henry B. Strauss, father of the dead boy, with murder. The prisoner pleaded guilty to the charge and bail was fixed at $1000. In default of the required bond McClure was sent to the penitentiary to await the action of the grand jury.”
[The Syracuse Standard, Wednesday Morning, June 15, 1881 (found at http://www.fultonhistory.com/ Syracuse NY Daily Standard 1881 Grayscale – 0540.pdf)]