Remember the babies

October is Family History Month. Did you know that October is also Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month? This is an especially poignant time for me as I recall my several miscarriages- i.e. pregnancies ending before 20 weeks of gestation.  We only know the gender of one of those babies- a girl with multiple genetic anomalies.  My sons know about these losses. My stories will probably fade with time and could be totally forgotten within a generation or two. In this post, I explore ways to remember those babies who died before, during or within a year or two of birth.

Before the days of effective birth control methods, women often bore children about every two or three years.  Babies breastfed for about a year which provided some contraceptive protection.  Some groups prohibited (or at least, discouraged) sexual intercourse while a mother was breastfeeding. Many children died before the age of 5.

Look at the birth dates of known children in your own family tree.  If there is more than a 2- or 3- year gap, suspect pregnancy and/or infant loss.  A young child (less than 5 years old) recorded on one census but not on the next may have died in the interim. Consider events such as war when men might be away from home for years at a time.  If the husband returned home briefly during war time, a pregnancy may have occurred. 

Records documenting losses due to miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births are not easily found.  In 1900 and 1910, census takers recorded the number of children born to a married woman and the number still living.  In my case, the record would show 2 children born and 2 living with no mention of the number of pregnancies.  One example from my family tree – Mattie Williams Johnson reported as mother of 7 and 5 living in 1900[1]; mother of 9 and six living in 1910[2].  Assertion – two children died between her marriage year of 1882 and 1900, one more died between 1900 and 1910. How can I find these children?

Obituaries of women sometimes state “She was preceded in death by an infant son [or daughter]”. Mattie died in 1936. Her obituary says that she is survived by four sons and one daughter.[3]  This roughly corresponds to the six living children reported on 1910 census.  A daughter, Laura Alice Johnson Alewine, died in 1925 at the age of 35.[4]  So, I am no closer to identifying the 3 children who apparently died young.

Earlier and later census records did not record childbirth information. Look through local newspapers and browse beyond obituaries and death notices.  Following a sentence about Sunday school attendance in the Point Enterprise section, The Mexia (Texas) Weekly Herald for 24 October 1930 reported—“The infant son of Mr. and Mrs. George Johnson was buried at this place Sunday morning with Rev J.E. Gore officiating.” [5] Later, I found the death certificate for this boy, Edward Johnson, who was stillborn. [6]  Edward was Mattie’s grandson, son of George A. Johnson and Bertha Freeman.

Search online cemetery records for persons with birth and death dates close together.  Some gravestones mark the date of death and ‘infant’ or ‘son/ daughter of _______.’  Older gravestones often list the person’s age, such as ‘age 2 months  3 days.’  I found one of Mattie’s children, Everett, born 1903, who died when he was 5 years old.  Everett’s gravestone has this information – s/o [son of ] Mattie and G.W. Johnson.[7]  Although not an infant when he died, he is one of Mattie’s three dead children.

What about Mattie’s two other children? Online trees show dates but no other information and no sources for the information provided. My preliminary, and certainly not comprehensive, searches reveal nothing further.

Where else to look for information about infant deaths? Family Bible entries may contain the only record of a child’s birth and early death.  A distant cousin graciously shared digital copies of pages from an 1876 Bible.[8]  One page has this entry:  “John Uzemer Ellerbee died December 7, 1871, aged 3 years, 3 months, 8 days”.  John’s parents were James John Ellerbee and Elizabeth Hayes.

Print sources are not always available online. Other places to check:

  •  Local genealogical and historical societies:
    •  Books of cemetery listings and obituaries published by the local society.  For example, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society publishes several books of cemetery inscriptions. Example –  Dutchess County NY Cemetery Inscriptions of Towns of East Fishkill, Fishkill & Wappinger (Kinship Books, KS-273 ISBN:1560123060).
    • Vertical files kept by these societies. Send a donation if you ask their staff to search for you.
  • Local libraries and County Clerk Offices.  Staff may or may not be able to search for you, especially if you don’t know a specific name or date.  Enlist the help of a relative or someone from a local genealogical or lineage society, if needed.
  • Walk local cemeteries. Carefully record what you find, even unreadable gravestones. A small stone next to adults could mark the grave of a child.

To review, discovering those children who died young is a challenge. Use a multitude of online and print resources. Search widely and deep. Document sources for yourself and others. Even ‘unsourced’ online trees give clues. Remember to tell the stories of all the babies, not just those who lived beyond infancy and early childhood!

REFLECTION

I am sad as I recall my own miscarriages. As a registered nurse, I worked with new mothers and both well and sick babies.  Every loss is painful. Family stories are not complete until we tell the stories of the children who never lived to have children of their own.  In this post, I primarily reported about children who died in the 20th century. However, I believe that you can use my suggestions to search for those who died in earlier times.

What I learned:  Use print resources more!

What helped:  Information already in my paper and digital files.

What didn’t help: Continuing frustration with unsourced information in online trees. Even a note “I got this from XYZ online tree; not confirmed” would be nice!

To-Do:  Add unsourced information about Mattie’s 2 other children to BSO list. Keep my eyes open for any clues.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

SOURCES CITED

[1] 1900 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Armour, enumeration district (ED) 63, p. 9B, dwelling 167, family 168, George Johnson; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1655.

[2] 1910 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, , enumeration district (ED) 32, p. 15B, dwelling 213, family 219, George W. Johnson; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication, T624_1573.

[3] “Mrs. Johnson, 75, dies on Monday,” obituary, Mexia (Mexia, Texas) Weekly Herald, 30 October 1936; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : viewed & printed 25 July 2020); citing The Mexia Weekly Herald newspaper.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 20 October 2020), memorial page for Laura Alice Johnson Alewine, Find A Grave Memorial # 34526511, citing New Hope Cemetery (Limestone, Texas), memorial created by Geno-seeker, photograph by PFDM.

[5] “Pt. Enterprise: The infant son . . . . “, Mexia (Mexia, Texas) Weekly Herald, 24 October 1930; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : viewed & printed 25 July 2020); citing The Mexia Weekly Herald newspaper.

[6] “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 21 October 2020), entry for Edward Johnson; citng Texas Department of Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[7] Interment.net, database (http://www.interment.net  :  accessed & viewed 19 January 2012), Horn Hill Cemetery, Limestone County, Texas, listing for Everett R. Johnson, b. 6 Oct 1903, d. 23 Aug 1909, citing Horn Hill Cemetery (Groesbeck, Limestone Co, Texas), compiled by Bruce Jordan, 1 November 2004.

[8] Family data, Demarious Albina Ellerbee Family Bible, Holy Bible, (New York: American Bible Society, 1876); original owned in October 2016 by Darby Blanton, [address for private use].

The Estate Auction – 1886

Have you ever attended an estate auction? Sometimes we buy items for personal use. Sometimes we buy items to re-sell in our antique booth. Recently, we held an estate sale for my mother-in-law who has moved in with us. Our personal family event caused me to think about its bittersweet nature.  Each item tells a story and has a memory attached to it. Many items remain with family. The money creates a small nest egg for her. In this post, I describe auctions held to settle the estate of a deceased ancestor, John E. Ellerbee, who died in 1884 at Hillsborough county, Florida.

Probate records provide the most information.  The term ‘personal estate’ includes livestock, farm implements, furniture and household goods. An appraisal estimates the value of these items. A list of items sold completes the picture.  Search local newspapers for notices about impending auctions.  These notices present clues about the person’s death and what property may have been left.   

To review, here are John’s vital statistics: Born about 1808 at Burke county, Georgia. Married first about 1830 at Houston county, Georgia to [name unknown]; 4 children born to this union- Edward Alexander, Elizabeth, William Green and James John.  Married second in 1842 at Randolph county, Georgia to Martha Love; 12 children born to this union- Sandlin, Smith R, Jasper, Damarius Emeline, Martha, Candis, Eliza, Worth (a.k.a. William?)  Marion, Isephinia, Osephinia, John Francis and Smithiann.  I wrote about John and his family in August 2019.  

John E.  Ellerbee died on 4 April 1884. Approximately two years later, 20 July 1886 to be exact, W.M.  Ellerbee filed a Bond of Administration at Hillsborough county, Florida.[1]  Why the wait before filing? Did John’s wife, Martha, die in the interim? (NOTE: Martha Ellerbee was recorded with her daughter, Eliza Ann Carter, in 1885 at Hillsborough county, Florida. [2] I have not found any record of Martha’s death.)

John Ellerbee’s probate record consists of over 100 pages. On 1 September 1886, W.M. Ellerbee petitioned the court for an ‘order to sell said property at public auction at the late residence of said deceased for cash and for the purpose of closing the settlement of said estate. . . “ The reason? “That said property is liable to perish or be worse for keeping.” [3] The “said property” included 1 yoke oxen (i.e. 2 oxen), 1 cart, 1 old wagon, carpenter’s tools and furniture.

Results of the auction?  The following list tells the story. Note the buyer’s names and the amounts paid for items.

SOURCE: "Florida, County Judge's Court (Hillsborough County)," digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 5 May 2019), entry for John Ellerbee; citing "Florida, Wills and Probate Records, 1810-1914" [database online], Florida County, District and Probate Courts; administrator: W.M. Ellerbee; File no. 73, paper no. 8.

In January, 1887, 160 acres of land owned by John sold at auction.  William M. Ellerbee bought the land for $445.00. [4] Add this to $51.80 from the personal property auction for a total of $496.80.  Expenses attributed to the estate included John’s funeral at $10.60 and “hawling oranges” for $2.00.  [5]  In 1888, seven persons received payments totalling  $195.92[6] :  

  • Administrator     $48.92
  • J.N. Ellerbee        $26.40
  • Ocea Ellerbee   $24.80
  • Eliza Carter         $24.80
  • Jay Stewart         $24. 80
  • Lewis Sparkman $24.80
  • Francis Ellerbee  $15.00

The balance due the estate was $300.88. Who received this money?  Heirs received annual payments  through 1895.[7]

Who were John’s heirs? One document (paper number 9) [8]  in the probate file revealed the names of John’s heirs:

This document listed married names of John and Martha’s six daughters as well as husband’s names for four of them. Also, this verified the residence for nine children, circa 1885-1887.

The document lists ‘residence unknown’ for two heirs – S. L. [Sandlin L. Ellerbee] and Emeline D. [Demarious] Simpson.  According to 1885 state census, Sandlin L. Ellerbee lived in Washington county, Florida. [9]  Emeline and her family are recorded as living in Jackson county, Florida in both 1880[10] and 1900[11] censuses.  For some reason, these two did not have contact with their siblings. 

SUMMARY:  John E. Ellerbee’s personal property and land sold for about $500 circa 1886-1887. Dishes sold for $1.10, a wagon for $1.20 and two oxen for $30.00.  The residence of two heirs was apparently unknown to the other siblings. Documents in the probate file revealed more information than I initially expected.

 REFLECTION

This post began as simply a review of the personal property auction. I shared other information found among the 100+ pages in the file. I am sometimes amazed at the amount of information, or lack of information, found in probate files. Since we attend auctions regularly, I was particularly interested in the pages having to do with the auction itself. These, and evidence of auctions for the estates of other ancestors, show that estate auctions are not a recent phenomenon.

I continue to add layers to each person’s story.  This post adds to the four posts I made last year about John, his wives and his family.

What I learned: Married names for John and Martha’s daughters. The importance of farm animals and farm implements to the 19th century farmer with household goods having less value. More to be learned from this probate record.

What helped: Discovery and printing of some pages last year. Creating pages for 2018 Ellerbee scrapbook. Availability of complete probate record online. 

What didn’t help: Incomplete information about several of John’s children. Not all information transcribed to RootsMagic program on my computer.  

To-do: Continue to complete Family Group Records and Research Logs.  Locate John’s land on GPS. What about the orange grove?


SOURCES:

[1] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 5 May 2019), entry for John Ellerbee, File no. 73; citing “Florida, Willas and Probate Records, 1810-1914” [database online], Florida County, District and Probate Courts; administrator: W.M. Ellerbee.

[2] 1885 Florida State Census, Hillsborough county, population schedule, , page 4 D (ink pen); page 105D, family 35, M. Ellerbee, age 67, boarder; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 1 May 2019); citing Schedules of the Florida State Census of 1885, National Archives microfilm publication M845, roll 4. On same page are J.N. & Jane Ellerbee and family, LC & SM Sparkman and family.

[3] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File no. 73, paper no. 7.

[4] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 11.

[5] . “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 12.

[6] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 13.

[7] “ Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 16. Recorded in Book C of Executors, Administrators and Administration, page 158.

[8]“Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 9.

[9]  Sandlin Ellerbee, 1885 State Census, Washington County, Florida, population schedule, , [no page number] D, dwelling 139; microfilm publication M845_13, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

[10] 1880 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 7, enumeration district (ED) 69, p. 8 (ink pen), dwelling 68, family 68, Samuel Simpson; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded 29 May 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C .microfilm publication T9, roll 559.

[11]  1900 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Florida, population schedule, Pleasant Hill, enumeration district (ED) 0056, sheet no. 7, dwelling 102, fa ily 103, Emeline Simpson 51; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 28 September 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

Midyear review, June 2020

Time for midyear review of my 2020 genealogy goals. My overall assessment?  Distracted. Minimal focus. Why? Multiple factors but nothing specific. I feel like I am in a rut. I have run out of steam to complete various projects.  Due to possible impact of Corona virus? We are blessed that none of our immediate family here have been directly affected. One of my second cousins, who lives in another state, contracted the virus but isolated at home. An elderly relative suffered other health problems and the doctor deferred hospitalization due to Corona virus.  She required 24/7 in-home care for several weeks.  

I feel overwhelmed by the constant negative reports on the news. Perhaps that negativity bubbles over into my genealogy work?  I continue to do some genealogy every day but lack momentum. Current work seems rote and routine – complete family group records, create and fill in research logs, clean up paper and digital files. Yet, these tasks are necessary to leave a coherent trail.

As I review my 2020 goals, I have made progress. I completed some goals quickly- copying BMD certificates from a Posten relative and responding to cousin requests for Tucker family.  I sent my DNA to a third company based on request from a possibly related Posten descendant with Pennsylvania ties. Result? No shared DNA. But, we are still hopeful for a common ancestor!   

Family cookbook project is almost done. So far, about 1/3 of total recipes are desserts. Shows obvious preference of our family and friends!

I received death certificate for Mom’s great grandmother, Anna Wolf Klee Mϋller/ Miller.  Anna died in 1883 at New York City. I plan to write a blog post about the process and information on that certificate. Two death certificate requests, both from New York, are still pending. New York state has so many other issues than responding to genealogical requests!  Because of Corona virus, I will defer making any more requests this year.  

I started work (again!) on revising Posten history, initially written in 2012. Last year, I took an online genealogy writing course and revised outline for book. I realized how sketchy much of the information is. I am still looking for Thomas Postens in 1830 and 1840. This entails page-by-page search of those census records because Ancestry and Family Search yield no hints, even when I use variations and asterisks. No results found in Northampton, Monroe or Pike counties, Pennsylvania. Expanding search to nearby counties- Bucks, Chester, Luzerne, Wayne.  I carefully document my search efforts and results.

I admit to following some rabbit trails in this search. I found some leads about Richard Postens and William Postens, either of whom could be Thomas’ father.  I may have found three daughters of Richard Postens – Elena (baptized 1774), Jane (born 1785) and Elizabeth (born circa 1795-1802).

Last week,  I followed a rabbit trail for Cornelius Postens who lived in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Huntingdon county is in western part of the state. Cornelius was born about 1778 in Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Rachel, had at least three children- John, James and Charles. Cornelius died about 1852. I am still piecing their story together. The Huntingdon County branch could be related to Dad’s family.  

I am keeping a personal Corona Virus diary that I do not plan to publish. Daily entries have been reduced to once a week, or even less. I scanned and added articles from our local newspaper.  Perhaps one of my descendants will find it interesting.  I will probably print it and place with other personal papers at some point in the future.

To review, perhaps I have made more progress than I thought. My initial feeling of inertia is gradually being replaced by slow and steady.  Daily research efforts aren’t totally without focus but have been scattered between different families. My original set of 26 goals now seems too ambitious.  I continue to forge ahead.

As usual, writing my blog post helped. I see where I’ve been and the progress that I’ve made.  Emotionally, I still feel overwhelmed but less so. What did I learn from this reflection?

  • Recognize the challenges to identify family members who lived in late 1700s and early 1800s. 
  • Re-focus, set a specific research goal for each session.
  • Work in short spurts – maybe only 20-30 minutes at a time instead of hours! 
  • Keep extensive notes.
  • Review information already in files before each session (i.e., avoid duplication).  
  • When a specific goal seems unattainable or gets me bogged down, take a break then work on another question.

Apparently, others are experiencing similar issues.  Read Thomas MacEntee’s “10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Genealogy”, posted 4 June 2020. https://genealogybargains.s3.amazonaws.com/10+Ways+to+Jumpstart+Your+Genealogy.pdf

Blog posts that I found helpful:

Amy Johnson Crow, “Avoiding distractions in our genealogy”, blog post, 19 August 2019, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/avoiding-distractions-genealogy/  :    accessed 4 May 2020).

Amy Johnson Crow, “Genealogy Research:  The WANDER Method,” blog post, 17 January 2020, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/genealogy-research-process-wander-method/  :  accessed 4 May 2020).

“The Shiny Object Syndrome in Genealogy and How to Cure It,” blog post, 28 January 2019, Family History Foundation (https://familyhistoryfoundation.com/2019/01/28/shiny-object-syndrome-in-genealogy-how-to-cure-it/  : accessed 8 June 2020).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

Promising lead or brick wall? Continuing search for C.W. Black

Names, dates and places look promising. Is this the person and family that I’m looking for? Maybe. Each lead requires additional research before confirming.  When I have some information, confirmation flows easier. When I know little, this process is more challenging. “Challenge” certainly describes the task presented by C.W. Black, reported father of Nellie Black Johnson, my husband’s great-grandmother. In this post, I present some findings for C.W. Black and evaluate them.

Lead number 1: Charles and Mary Black, Texas

1870 census, Limestone county, Texas: Chas Black, age 23, born at Louisiana and Mary Black, age 26, born at Tennessee.  [1]  This was one of the first hints presented on Ancestry website. C.W. ‘s first name could easily be Charles. Maiden name of Nellie’s mother is reported as Mary Bull. [2]  Mary’s identity as the daughter of Isaac Bull and Sarah Neel is likely but still needs to be proven. The family could have originated in Limestone county where Nellie lived from 1910 until her death in 1960.  As they say, “follow the paper trail.”

The paper trail led to 32-year-old Charley Black, born Louisiana, and 36-year-old Mary E. Black, Charley’s wife, born Tennessee, at San Saba county, Texas in 1880. [3]  Names, ages, place of birth are consistent with 1870 census.  If these are Nellie’s parents, then Mary was about 44 years old when Nellie was born in 1888.  Childbearing is still possible for many women in their 40s.  No children listed. I am reasonably certain that Charley and Mary E. are the same couple as Chas and Mary in 1870 census.  Nellie’s reported birthplace of Montague county,[4] Texas, does not preclude Charley and Mary from being her parents.

Next stop on the paper trail? 1900 census. Again in San Saba county, Texas, Charles Black, born February 1847 in Louisiana and wife, Mary Black, born September 1843 in Tennessee. [5]  No children listed. Mary’s childbearing history? Mother of 4 children, none living. Also of interest, Charles and Mary are recorded as being married 25 years suggesting marriage about 1875. Recall Chas and Mary living together in 1870. Are these truly the same people?  No children, no Nellie. I tentatively rule out Charles and Mary as Nellie’s parents.

One more item in the paper trail – 1910 census. Charley Black, age 63, and Mary Black, age 66, still living in San Saba county, Texas. [6]  Places of birth reported as Louisiana and Tennessee, respectively. Mary listed as mother of 4 children, 0 living. Years married? 40 or married about 1870. Looks like marriage information on 1900 census was not accurate. Given that no living children are recorded on the two censuses, I conclude that this couple are not Nellie’s parents.

I feel the need to finish Charley and Mary’s story. Find A Grave provided closure of sorts.

  • Mary E. Black. Born 1 September 1848. Died 3 July 1914. Buried Varga Chapel Cemetery. Bowser, San Saba county, Texas. [7]
  • Charley Black. Born 22 February 1847. Died 6 May 1921. Buried Varga Chapel Cemetery, Bowser, San Saba county, Texas. [8]

Perhaps someone else can claim them as relatives.

Lead number 2:  C.W. Black, Fort Worth, Tarrant county, Texas

This Ancestry hint from the 1880 census popped up early in my search. The census shows C.W. Black, age 36, widower, born Tennessee, living in Fort Worth, Tarrant county, Texas. [9] So far, nothing inconsistent with other data. But certainly not confirmed. No other hints presented themselves.

A search of local newspapers provided one clue. In the Fort Worth Daily Gazette on June 20, 1890, this story- “A tragedy. C.W. Black gives up his life- John Yarbrough Arrested.”[10] Details included:  

“John Yarbrough shot and killed C.W. Black last night about 10 o’clock at the residence of the former, on the southeast corner of Peter Smith and Hemphill streets. . . . C.W. Black was an old resident of Fort Worth. He came here when only a mere hamlet . . . . Previously to coming here he was merchandising in Memphis, and he has a couple of children in St. Louis. He was about forty-seven years of age.”

Fort Worth is about 80 miles south of Montague county, Texas, Nellie’s reported birthplace. C.W. would not be the only man who had a family in two different states.  Based on the two snippets of information, I do not believe that C.W. Black of Fort Worth, Texas, was Nellie’s father. However, I will keep an open mind if other evidence surfaces.

Lead number 3: William and Mary Black, Falls county, Texas[11]

This is another of those early hints that I discounted at first.  One of my blog followers reminded me about it. Closer perusal and follow-up suggests a connection.  Remember Nellie’s reported mother, Mary Bull? Falls county, Texas, was home to several Bull families.  The path is winding and too long for this post. Stay tuned!

In summary, I classify the first two leads as negative results. Charles and Mary Black, the first lead, are certainly not Nellie’s parents. C.W. Black of Fort Worth, Texas, is probably not Nellie’s father. These findings underscore the importance of tracking and recording all findings even if they are negative.  Primary reason is to keep you from re-looking at the same findings. Others should be able to retrace where you’ve been and follow your contention.

However, keep an open mind because new evidence may surface that turns a negative into a positive.

For more information about negative results:

REFLECTION:

As I mentioned earlier, finding C.W. Black is one of my more frustrating and challenging genealogy journeys. What does “C” stand for? What does “W” stand for? Did he go by his first or his middle name?  Was Nellie’s father really “C.W.”?  Wouldn’t be the first time that a name was reported wrong. There is a clue out there—I just need to find it!

What helped:  online resources, notes from previous searches, writing the blog post. Keeping record of searches and criteria used.

What didn’t help:  frustration that no records seem to fit. Even Find A Grave yielded no clues. Maybe I need to try different search criteria.

To-do:  Review notes and other records for William and Mary Black again. Search for more information about their children.  When did William and Mary die? Where are they buried?

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2020

SOURCES:

[1] 1870 U.S. Census, Limestone County, Texas, population schedule, District 48 West, page 109 (ink pen), dwelling 485, family 525, Chas Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :   accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M593_1596.

[2]. “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 27 February 2020), entry for Nell Johnson; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; certificate no. 37422.

[3] 1880 U.S. Census, San Saba County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 4, Enumeration District (ED) 116, sheet 444C, dwelling 128,  Charley Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :   accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T9, roll 1326.

[4]. “Funeral services for Mrs. Johnson set for Wednesday,” obituary, Mexia Daily News, 3 May 1960; digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : accessed & printed 6 March 2020); citing Mexia Daily News (newspaper), Mexia, Texas.

[5] 1900 U.S. Census, San Saba County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 2, Enumeration District (ED) 0131, sheet 20, dwelling 328, family 331,  Charles Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :   accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623.

[6] 1910 U.S. Census, San Saba County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 2, Enumeration District (ED) 0215, sheet 7A, dwelling 74, family 74,  Charley Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :   accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T624_1584.  

[7] Find A Grave, database with images, (http://www.findagrave.com  :  accessed 7 April 2020), memorial 44224900, Mary E. Black (1848-1914), Varga Chapel Cemetery, Bowser, San Saba County, Texas; gravestone photograph by Sharon Crowder; created and maintained by Gaylon Powell.

[8]. Find A Grave, database with images, (http://www.findagrave.com  :  accessed 7 April 2020), memorial 44224899, Charley Black (1847-1921), Varga Chapel Cemetery, Bowser, San Saba County, Texas; gravestone photograph by Sharon Crowder; created and maintained by Gaylon Powell.

[9] 1880 U.S. Census, Tarrant County, Texas, population schedule, Fort Worth, Enumeration district 089, sheet 31C, dwelling 44, C.W. Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 10 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication T9, roll 1328.

[10] The (Fort Worth, Texas) Gazette, 20 June 1890, p. 8, col. 2, “A Tragedy, C.W. Black gives up his life-John Yarbrough arrested,” Chronicling America (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86064205/1890-06-02/ed-1/seq-8/   : accessed 10 March 2020).

[11] 1900 U.S. Census, Falls County, Texas, population schedule, Marlin, Enumeration district 0016, sheet 6, , dwelling 107, family 113, Nellie Black, age 13; William B. Black, head; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 4 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication T623.

The genealogy goes on. . . with negative findings

Review any death certificate and obituary.  In many cases, the person’s birth information, including names of parents, is correct. You can easily find more about the family from census and other records. What if the information is not that easy to find?  Negative evidence and information can still provide clues. In this post, I describe my frustrating search for C.W. Black, presumed father of Nellie Black Johnson, and one of my husband’s maternal great-great grandfathers.

According to Nellie’s death certificate[1], her parents were C.W. Black and Mary Bull. Nellie’s oldest daughter, Katie Jean Johnson Brannon, provided the information.  Nellie’s obituary[2] stated that she was born in Montague county, Texas and spent most of her life in Limestone county, Texas.  I begin an attempt to prove that the information is correct.  A DNA Match with Nellie’s granddaughter (my husband’s mother) led to the possible identification of Marianne Bull, born about 1855 and daughter of Isaac L. Bull and Sarah Neel, as Nellie’s mother.

Discovering C.W. Black has been more difficult. What can I expect to find? Start with the 1900 census.

  • Evidence for Nellie’s birth year of 1888:  Census records for 1920 through 1940 plus Nellie’s death certificate support this date, plus or minus one year.
  • Evidence for Nellie’s reported birth place: Nellie should be with one or both parents in either Montague county or Limestone county, Texas.  Search criteria:  families with Black surname, females 11 or 12 years old with first name of Nell, Nellie or Nettie.

NEGATIVE EVIDENCE or NEGATIVE FINDINGS?

Transcription errors are possible. Handwriting can be hard to read. Faded ink creates illegible entries. Online databases do not always capture the person or family that you are searching for.  I searched the 1900 census for selected Texas counties page-by-page.  So far, I found six families with surname of Black in Montague county and 19 families with surname of Black in Limestone county.  I recorded all individuals on blank census forms. [3] Results to date?  None that described Nellie or her reported family.

These are negative findings.  According to Elizabeth Shown Mills, negative findings are “the absence of information we hoped to find.” [4]  I hoped to find Nellie and at least one parent in either Montague or Limestone counties.  Negative evidence, as defined in Genealogy Standards, is “a type of evidence arising from the absence of a situation or information in extant records where that information might be expected.”[5]  My search is not complete so I cannot label it as negative evidence.

Example, 1900 census form, Montague county, Texas, families with Black Surname. Compiled by Susan Posten Ellerbee, March 2020.

One genealogical standard is termed “evidence mining”.[6]  We look for items to answer our research questions. In this instance, the findings are negative.  The standard encourages us to not ignore any potentially useful evidence or information even if it’s negative. Pay attention to all of the evidence not just evidence that is direct or indirect.

These preliminary negative findings suggest that Nellie and her parents did not live in either Montague or Limestone counties in 1900.  At this time, I cannot confirm where they lived in 1900.  Alternative hypotheses:

  1. Nellie and her parents (or at least one parent) lived in another county in Texas in 1900.
  2. Nellie and her parents (or at least one parent) did not live in Texas when the 1900 census was taken.
  3. Nellie and her parent/ parents were not counted in the 1900 census.
  4. Nellie’s father died before 1900 and her mother remarried. Nellie is listed with surname of her stepfather.
  5. Both of Nellie’s parents died before 1900. Nellie lived with another family.

My research question remains the same:  Where did Nellie and her parent/ parents live at the time of the 1900 census?  Where to next?  Search Falls county, Texas, home of many in the Bull family, and next door to Limestone county.

As my frustration mounts, I temporarily halt this search. Next post:  My continued search for C.W. Black.  

Reflection

This post is shorter than many. I am stumped and need to take a break. These negative findings take more time than expected as I process the information.  Searching census records page by page is not difficult but is tedious. Initially, I wrote a short post about genealogy during this Corona Virus crisis but decided not to post it. Others have done so. I just keep on working.

I questioned my mother-in-law about her dad’s mother’s family. She does not remember Nellie’s family ever being discussed or visited – no mention of aunts & uncles or cousins. Nellie died when mother-in-law was in her early 20s. I don’t remember if I knew the names of my great-grandparents when I was that age. But, my parents freely shared that information with me later.  And, I heard the names of cousins, aunts and uncles (such as Dad’s Uncle Frank, his mother’s brother) on both sides.  Tracing my parents’ families seems easy compared to this brick wall. Was there some scandal? Possible that Nellie was an only child? Possible that Nellie’s mother died in childbirth and Nellie was taken in by other family members? Possible that Nellie might be found in an orphanage in 1900? Is Nellie’s maiden name really Black? Given the DNA connection, I believe that Nellie’s mother was a Bull. The identity of her father remains a mystery.  

What helped:  Blank census forms from NARA, mostly legible handwriting on census records.

What didn’t help: feeling overwhelmed by this and our nation’s current health crisis.  

To-do: Search 1900 census in Falls county, Texas for families with Black surname. Complete page-by-page search of 1900 census in Limestone and Montague counties. If no relevant findings, expand searches to other counties. Write post about limited findings for C.W. Black as found in online databases.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Your Roots blog, 2020.


SOURCES:

[1] “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 27 February 2020), entry for Nell Johnson; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; certificate no. 37422.

[2] “Funeral services for Mrs. Johnson set for Wednesday,” obituary, Mexia Daily News, 3 May 1960; digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed & printed 6 March 2020); citing Mexia Daily News (newspaper), Mexia, Texas.

[3] . “Resources for Genealogists, Charts and forms, Federal Census Forms, 1900 census,” The National Archives and Records Administration ( https://www.archives.gov/files/research/genealogy/charts-forms/1900-census.pdf  :  accessed 1 February 2020).

[4] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained, 3d ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015), 25.

[5] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 2d ed. (New York, New York: Turner Publishing Company, 2019), 81-82.

[6] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 24-25.

My first post (for 2020): Genealogy Goals

Time to make resolutions for the new year. So, I share my genealogy goals for 2020.   Last year, I referred to a specific blog post that I found helpful:  Setting Genealogy Goals by Jennifer Patterson Dondero. [1]  She offered five steps:

  1. Previous year review
  2. Broad interest or goal identification
  3. Refining your interests/ goals
  4. Correlating your previous year review with your refinements
  5. Finalizing your resolutions/ goals

2020 Genealogy Goals for blog

I reviewed 2019 in my last post. Now, I set my 2020 goals starting with broad interest areas:

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Copy paper BMD certificates from Posten relative to digital files. Place originals in Posten BMD notebook. (continued from 2018 & 2019).
  2. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options. (One chapter done in 2018; rewritten in December 2019).
  3. Send in my DNA to a third company.  Reason:  A Posten descendant with Pennsylvania ties contacted me in 2019. This person is a known descendant of a ‘possibly related’ Posten family that I identified circa 2015.
  4. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.
  5. Continue paper & digital file clean-up as needed.

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Anticipate receipt of at least one death certificate (Margaret Tucker, wife of Jeremiah Tucker). Scan document and enter information when document received.
  2. Respond to cousin requests for copies of information (Maurer & Jones) and pictures (Tucker).
  3. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.

Ellerbee-Simmons/ Johnson-Reed (husband’s family)

  1. Continue review of paper files for documents to be scanned and placed in notebooks for Ellerbee-Simmons & Johnson-Reed families.
  2. Continue paper & digital file clean-up for these family groups.
  3. Plan field trip to Alabama and Georgia to trace Ellerbee family migration. If time and geography permit, follow migration of Johnson-Reed family.
  4. Begin to trace descendants of slaves owned by husband’s ancestors. Use templates and directions from the Beyond Kin project.
  5. Follow-up on at least two BSOs generated from previous searches (one from each family group).
  6. Complete family group records (11 done, 18 to do) with citations as addendum to scrapbook given Christmas 2019.

Genealogy Blog:

  1. Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks.
  2. Post at least 2 stories about each family—Posten-Richards (dad), Tucker-Maurer (mom), Ellerbee-Simmons (father-in-law), Johnson-Reed (mother-in-law).
  3. Limit each post to about 1500 words or less.
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Post at least 2 family trees to blog. (continued from 2019).
  5. Continue to address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports.

General items:

  1. Continue to place To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family on color-coded file cards.
  2. Send for at least 6 BMD certificates. If budget permits, request one certificate per month.
  3. Submit at least one article to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Specific family/ person TBA.
  4. Begin research for another family member- person of interest TBA.
  5. Add to Research Toolbox: books “Dating Vintage Photographs” ; possibly Dragon software.
  6. Continue volunteer genealogy work with Daughters of the American Revolution.
  7. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined.
  8. Complete Family Recipe Book started in 2019. Planned distribution- Christmas, 2020.

2020 Budget:  reflects additional expenses from 2019 and changes in subscription plans.

2020 budget_ver2

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:

As I read these goals, I wonder if I am being too ambitious. In general, I spend about 40+ hours per week on genealogy. My family thinks that it has become an obsession. Maybe, it has! But, what a wonderful obsession! Gratifying most of the time because I can see definite results. Sometimes frustrating and time to step away from the computer and files. I believe that I am better organized now than when I started the Genealogy Do-Over three years ago.  Writing these blog posts has helped me step away from just gathering facts and learning to tell the stories. I will keep you posted.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots  blog, 2020

Sources:

[1] Jennifer Patterson Dondero, “Setting Genealogy Goals”, The Occasional Genealogist, December 2017 (https://www.theoccasionalgenealogist.com/2017/12/genealogy-goals-new-year.html  : accessed 27 December 2019).

“A soldier of Texas has fallen”: George Creager Holcomb (1821-1902)

Last month’s blog focused on Narcissa Rutherford  (Are Samuel and Elizabeth parents of Narcissa?).  Today, I tell about her husband, George Creager Holcomb, my husband’s great-great-great grandfather.  George’s ancestors immigrated to Texas from Arkansas with family origins in Kentucky, Maryland and South Carolina.  

Creager_Holcomb_migration

George Creager Holcomb and his 2nd wife, Mary Ann Selman, are my husband’s great-great-great grandparents on his mother’s side.  George Creager Holcomb, born in 1821,  was the oldest of 11 children born to Joseph Holcomb (1796, South Carolina – 1881, Texas) and Sarah Creager (1799, Kentucky – 1870, Texas).  Both Joseph and Sarah are believed to be descended from Revolutionary War Patriots.  George’s birthplace is reported as Illinois in some online family trees and Arkansas in most census records.  The 1830 census for Washington county, Arkansas Territory lists Joseph Holcomb’s family as including one white male, aged 5 thru 9 . [1] Given preponderance of evidence, George was probably born in Arkansas.

Joseph Holcomb moved his family from Arkansas to Cherokee County, Texas between 1840[2] and  November, 1850. [3]  According to the 1850 census, only one of George’s siblings, Henderson H. Holcomb, age  7, was born in Texas.  Arkansas was the listed birthplace for all others.  Henderson’s reported birth date of 7 January 1844[4] suggests that the move occurred between 1840 and January 1844. This is consistent with other information that Joseph Holcomb followed George and his first wife, Narcissa Rutherford, to Cherokee county in the early 1840s. [5]

Narcissa Rutherford Holcomb died about 1851 leaving George with four children under the age of 10. George married his second wife, 17 year-old Mary Ann Selman, in May 1853. [6]  Children came rapidly – Joseph W. Holcomb in May 1854; Thomas Henry Holcomb in January 1856; Benjamin Franklin Holcomb in February 1858 (my husband’s great-great grandfather), and Julia A. Holcomb in July 1860. Children born during and after the Civil War were Beatrice Holcomb in February 1863, William Garrett Holcomb in October 1866, Jefferson Lee Holcomb in August 1869 and Martha Alice Holcomb in January 1872.[7]

According to information on his grave marker, George C. Holcomb served as Captain in the 10th Texas State Troops, Confederate States Army. [8]

George Creager Holcomb 5

Source: Find A Grave Memorial no. 32434400. Photo taken by  Denise.

G.C. Holcomb received an appointment as 2nd lieutenant in Company K, 1st Regiment, Texas Infantry, Confederate States Army on 9 September 1861.[9]  In July 1862, quartermaster records show the sale of “2 mouse colored mules, $500” by G. C. Holcomb.[10]  The First Texas Infantry joined Confederate forces in Virginia in August 1861 with the regiment later becoming part of John Bell Hood’s Texas Brigade and the Army of Northern Virginia.  “The regiment saw extensive combat throughout the war” including 32 major battles such as Antietam on 17 September 1862; Gettysburg on 1-3 July 1863, and the Petersburg siege from June 1864 to April 1865. “The regiment surrendered along with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.”[11]

After moving to Cherokee County, Texas in the 1840s, the family unit suffered losses and celebrated new lives. George and his 1st wife, Narcissa, lived in Cherokee county in 1850[12].  In 1860, Samuel and Elizabeth Rutherford, Narcissa’s parents, reported George W. Holcomb, age 8, as living with them. [13]  Census records for 1870[14], 1880[15] and 1900[16] show that George, Mary Ann and their children continued to live in the Cherokee county area.   

brick wallNow comes my brick wall –  finding George, Mary and their older children in 1860. Where were the older children of George and Narcissus– John Lewis, William Henry, and Sarah Elizabeth- in 1860?  This topic is for another post. For now,  the whereabouts of George and his family in 1860 remain hidden from me. George’s occupation as a farmer may present clues to solve this mystery. 

George Creager Holcomb died on 19 September 1902 in Alto, Cherokee county, Texas. [17] , [18] Mary Ann Selman Holcomb, his 2nd wife, outlived him by more than a decade, dying on 5 June 1913 in Cherokee County. They are buried in Shiloh Cemetery near Alto. [19].  His obituary sums up his life– “A soldier in Texas has fallen. . . . nobility of character and his stainless integrity. . . . pleasant and genial in manner. . . . possessed a buoyancy of spirit that made him everybody’s friend. . . . He lived and died a consistent Christian. . . . He was the oldest member of a very large connection in Texas. . . . ” 

The Holcomb tradition continues as many descendants still live in this area of east Texas. 

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

Some states recognize April as Confederate History month. First drafts of this post began with that fact and included information about controversies surrounding the holiday. I removed that introduction because I commented last year on those who seem to want to remove images and references to the Confederacy from the public view. I re-read part of my journal entry / reflection from that post.  I still do not believe that we should judge the past according to today’s standards.

As usual, writing this post revealed gaps. One gap has now turned into a brick wall that seems impenetrable. I spent hours reviewing 1860 census records page by page and haven’t yet found George and Mary.  I only found one of George and Narcissa’ s children, George W. Holcomb, who was living with Samuel and Elizabeth Rutherford, Narcissa’s parents. I saw an article about the use of plat maps and tried that approach with no result. I now add this item to my “To-Do” list.

I am just beginning to apply Genealogy Do-Over principles to this family tree, in essence starting over.  Colored folders contain hard copies of records, individual record sheets and family group sheets. Story writing helps with digital file cleanup. Checking data and rewriting citations seem less tedious when done in relatively small chunks like this.     

What I learned:  Sometimes, it’s best to just put something aside. Continue to use research logs of parents as base for creating logs for children.  

What helped: access to multiple online and print resources.  Met goal of less than 1500 words for content of post. Keeping genealogy standards in mind.

What didn’t help: increasing frustration when I couldn’t readily find 1860 census record for George and Mary Ann. I spent more time than expected on this post. 

TO-DO:  Death certificate for Mary Ann Selman Holcomb. Add following items as BSOs (bright shiny objects that detract from main objective) — Find George C Holcomb, Mary Ann Holcomb and their children in 1860. Follow lives of John Lewis, William Henry, Sarah Elizabeth and George Washington Holcomb, children of George and his 1st wife, Narcissa. Fill in research logs for each person as I discover information.  Report on blog or write article for publication in genealogy journal. 

SOURCES

[1] 1830 U.S. Census, Washington county, Arkansas Territory, population schedule, , page 193, line 7, Joseph Holcomb, ; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : accessed,printed,downloaded 17 Jan 2015 ); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M19-5.

[2] 1840 U.S. Census, Washington County, Arkansas, population schedule, Mountain, p. 261, line, Joseph Hanleen [Holcomb]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration,Washington, D. C. microfilm publication M704. No date recorded on census image.

[3] 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, , p. 881B, dwelling 527, family 527, Joseph Holcomb; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com   :  accessed, printed, downloaded 15 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_909.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images  (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 14 April 2019), memorial page for Pvt Henderson H. Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 9791625, citing Holcomb Cemetery (Cherokee county, Texas), memorial created by Bev, photograph by Denise Brown Biard Ercole.

[5] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, The Holcombes. Nation Builders.: A Family Having as Great a Part as Any in the Making of All North American Civilization (Washington, D.C.: Elizabeth Weir McPherson, 1947), 500.

[6]   “Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909 and 1966 – 2002”, database, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Apr 2011), entry for George C. Holcomb and Mary Ann Sellman.  Record Book:  Marriage Records of Cherokee County, Texas (1846-1880), Vol. 1. Compiled by Ogreta Wilson Huttash, Jacksonville, TX 75766, 1976. Repository: Dallas Public Library.  P. 34. “As recorded in Book B, p. 142”.

[7] Sources for the children’s birth information include census records, death certificates and gravestones. Will share details per request.

[8] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com   : viewed, printed 22 April 2019), memorial page for George C. Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 32434400, citing Shiloh Cemetery (Cherokee county, Texas), memorial created by Susan Harnish, photograph by Denise.

[9] “Unfiled papers and slips belonging to Confederate Compiled Service Records,” digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  : viewed, downloaded, printed 17 April 2019), entry for G.C. Holcomb (confederate, Texas); citing Confed. Arch. Chap. 1, File No. 92, page 1; National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M347, roll 0189.

[10]  “Confederate Papers relating to Citizens or Business Firms, compiled 1874-1899, documenting the period 1861-1865,” digital images, Fold3  (http://www.fold3.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 17 April 2019), entry for G.C. Holcomb, sale of 2 mules; citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M346, roll 0455; document 260.

[11] James A. Hathcock, “First Texas Infantry,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qkf13   : 17 April 2019).

[12] 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, , p. 927B, household 847, family 847, Narcissa Holcomb age 23; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : downloaded ); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_909.

[13] 1860 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 2, p. 431, dwelling 268, family 268, Samuel Rutherford; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_1290.

[14] 1870 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 1, Alto Post office, p. 9 (ink pen), dwelling 60, family 60, Halcomb George C, 49; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 16 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication M593.

[15] 1880 U.S. Census, Houston county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 2, enumeration district (ED) 24, p. 32 D (ink pen), dwelling 264, family 276, Holcomb G C age 59; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, printed, downloaded 18 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 1312.

[16] 1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Alto, enumeration district (ED) 20, p. 13A, dwelling 221, family 227, George Holcomb father, age 79; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, downloaded 15 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1619.

[17] Obituary for George Craiger Holcomb, typewritten “copied from the Alto Herald”, no date, in documentation file supporting Membership Application of Otha Holcomb Harrison (National no. M670197) on John Holcomb, approved February 1983; National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, D.C.

[18] Find A Grave, George C. Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 32434400.

[19] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 22 April 2019), memorial page for Mary Ann Selman Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 101196611, citing Shiloh Cemetery (Alto, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Judy Murphy, photograph by Judy Murphy.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019

Valentine in Mom’s Family Tree

Do you have a Valentine in your family tree? In February 2018, I posted the story of Valentine Creager, my husband’s ancestor.  Now, I relate the story of Valentine Maurer, my mother’s ancestor. The story begins in Germany and ends in New York.

Valentine Maurer graphic1

How do you pronounce “Maurer”? According to mom, the name sounded like “more- er”. As with other stories about mom’s family, I started with Great-Aunt Viola’s handwritten family history. [1]  Part of my grandmother’s ancestry reads:

GRANDPARENTS
Valentine Maurer, 2/12/1827 – ? 
[Born] Alsace-Lorraine Germany
[Wife] Kathrine Korzelins  11/4/1824- 2/14/ ?
(She died on Valentine Maurer’s namesake day one year after his death. She was born in Baden-Baden Germany)
GREAT GRANDPARENTS
Philip Jacob Maurer
Born in Kolncolnge Germany. Date unknown
Anna Metzger
Born in Holland. Date Unknown

My focus was clear – to discover the story of Valentine and Kathrine. Spelling of Kathrine’s name varies and is reported here as spelled on each document.

Valentin Maurer was born on 9 February 1827 in Niederhausen, Freiburg, Baden, Germany. [2] His parents were Leonhard Maurer and Maria Anna Metzger. Note the different father listed on the baptismal record and Viola’s history. This is one of the few items not supported by other sources.

The 1860 census[3]  for Valentine and Catharine Maurer provided an early clue. The family appeared in Galloway, Atlantic county, New Jersey on 15 August 1860:

  • Valentine Maurer, age 31, laborer, born Germany
  • Catherine Maurer, age 31, born Germany
  • Valentine Maurer, age 2, born New Jersey
  • Herman Maurer, age 7/12, born New Jersey (my great-grandfather)

Since both children were born in New Jersey, Valentine and Catharine apparently immigrated to the United States by about 1857.

By 1863, the family had moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Kings county, New York. Valentine Maurer, age 34, birthplace Germany, appears on a Civil War Draft Registration Record. [4] I haven’t found any Civil War service records for him.

Where was the family in 1870? I am still looking! See “Name variations in census records: Maurer & Klee”  In 1880 [5], they still lived in Brooklyn, Kings county, New York.  Four children had joined the family (as transcribed):

  • Mauiner, Valentine, W M, 52, head, machinist, born Baden, father born Baden, mother born Baden.
  • Annie C, wife, W F, 32, born Prussia, father born Prussia, mother born Prussia
  • Valentine, son,  W M, 22, machine building shop, born New Jersey
  • Herman, son, W M, 20, brass moulder, born New Jersey.
  • Kattie, daughter, W F, 14, paper box maker, born New York.
  • Rosie, daughter, W F , 12, at home, born New York.
  • Joseph, son, W F, age 9, at school, born New York.
  • Edward, son, W M, 5, at home, born New York.

The six years difference between the births of Herman and Kattie suggest that Valentine may have served in the Civil War. Names of the children on these two census records correspond to Viola’s information except for one item. She did not record any information about the oldest son, Valentine. Viola may not have known about Herman’s older brother or had forgotten him. 

Valentine Maurer II died on 21 March 1888 at the age of 29 years 10 months and 21 days in Brooklyn, Kings county, New York.[6] Cause of death?  “Asthema”.  Calculated birthdate is 1 May 1858. This is consistent with his age of 2 years on 1860 census. Residency in Brooklyn for 25 years further supports the family’s move to New York by 1863. 

DISCREPANCY:  According to his death certificate, Herman was born on 16 October 1858. [7]  However, Herman’s age of 7/12 in August 1860 suggests birth in February 1860. Did I identify the correct family on 1860 census? If so, why the difference? 

Map of Germany showing Baden and Prussia from Encyclopedia Brittanica

Source:  https://www.britannica.com/place/Prussia.  Accessed 10 August 2018

Family origins Baden is in the southwest corner of Germany near France. This western German border, also known as Alsace-Lorraine, alternated between French and Germany rule throughout its history.   Prussia, in the northwest corner of Germany, is now part of Russia.

 In 1883, Valentine and Anna Katharina wrote in the autograph book of Anna Klee, Herman’s future wife. Read more about Anna’s autograph book in “Sources” section of this post. Both entries were written in German. Her signature as  “Anna Katharina Maurer” confirms use of both names. [8]

Valentine may have traveled back to Germany in June 1888 [9] then returned to the United States in September 1888.[10]  The traveler’s age of 61 suggests a possible identification.  Did this journey occur because of the death of his oldest son in March 1888?

The 1892 New York State census fills a gap left by the mostly destroyed 1890 census records. Valentine, age 65, and Annie, age 64, lived on Hopkins Street in Brooklyn, Kings county, New York at that time.[11] Three of their children still lived with them:  Rosie, age 24, box maker; Joseph, age 23, brass worker; and Edward, age 17, mechanic. Valentine and Annie’s status as  “C” or “citizen” suggests that both were now naturalized American citizens.

Valentine Maurer, age 71 years 7 months 9 days, died on 21 September 1898 in his home, 169 Hopkins Street, Brooklyn, Kings, New York. [12], [13]   His calculated birth date is 12 February 1827, same date recorded by great-aunt Viola. I don’t know how she learned of his birthdate. She didn’t report a death date so she possibly did not have a copy of his death certificate. Other interesting items from Valentine’s death certificate:

  • Occupation: surgical instrument maker
  • Birthplace: Baden, Germany
  • How long in U.S.:  43 years [estimated immigration year 1855]
  • How long a resident in City of New York: 37 years [estimated year 1862]
  • Father’s name: Leonhan Maurer.  Father’s birthplace: Baden Germany
  • Mother’s name: Marie Maurer.  Mother’s birthplace: Baden Germany
  • Cause of death: Asthenia following pneumonia

Now, I turn to Valentine’s wife, Anna Katharina.  Her name is listed as Catherine Korselious[14]  and Katherine Korzilous[15] on the death certificates for two of her children. Viola’s spelling of her surname as Korzelins is similar.  Census records suggest that she was born in 1827 or 1828 rather than 1824 as reported by Viola.  The actual date of 4 November is perhaps true. When did she immigrate to the United States?  Did she and Valentine “meet on the boat” per oral family history?  Anna Maurer died on 12 February 1899 in Brooklyn, New York. [16]  Probate records, both filed on 12 March 1899,  name their children and current residences- “Herman Maurer. . . Katie (wife of Stephen) Scheffel, Joseph Maurer and Edward Maurer of the Borough of Brooklyn, County of Kings, New York and Rosina (wife of Jacob) Schnitz of Jersey City, New Jersey.”

Biographical Timeline –Valentine Maurer (1827, Baden, Germany – 1898, Brooklyn, New York, USA)

  • Birth– 12 Feb 1827 in Baden, Germany to Leonhard Maurer and Marie Metzger.
  • About 1855- Immigration to United States
  • About 1856 – Marriage to Anna Katharina Korselious
  • 1858- Birth of son, Valentine, New Jersey
  • 1859- Birth of son, Herman, New Jersey
  • 1860 – Living in Galloway, Atlantic county, New Jersey
  • About 1862/1863- move to Brooklyn, Kings County, New York
  • 1870 – Possibly living in Brooklyn (not confirmed)
  • 1880 –Living in Brooklyn
  • 1883- Marriage of son, Herman, to Anna Klee, daughter of Louis Klee and Anna Wolf
  • March 1888 – Death of oldest son, Valentine
  • June 1888 – September 1888–Travel to and return from Germany
  • 1889 – Marriage of daughter, Katie, to Stephen Scheffel
  • 1892 – Living in Brooklyn
  • 1895- Marriage of daughter, Rosie/ Rosina, to William Jacob Smetts
  • 1897- Marriage of son, Edward, to Margaret “Maggie” Roper
  • 21 Sep 1898—Death of Valentine Maurer
  • 12 Feb 1899 – death of wife, Anna Katharina Korzelins Maurer
  • 1905 – Marriage of son, Joseph, to Emma Beck

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REFLECTION

Writing this post helped me with a timeline perspective.  Clarified some items.  How did Viola know about Valentine Maurer’s birthdate? Is there a missing family Bible? When did Anna immigrate? I continue to be thrilled that great-aunt Viola was such a good historian. Even though her manuscript lacked sources, I have found many documents that support her information.  I share my information with cousins through this blog and other written materials. As always, there are still questions. I partially met the reasonably exhaustive criterion of the Genealogical Proof Standard. 

What helped:  Having copies of death certificates for Valentine, Valentine II,  Herman, Katie and Joseph. Probate records for Valentin and Anna Katharina, both filed on the same day.  Recent careful review of research.

What didn’t help: Not having 1870 or 1875 census for family. I looked again on two databases. A page by page review of the Brooklyn census seems to be the next step. 

Future plans:  Search Civil War Records again for Valentine Maurer.  Continue search for family in 1870 and 1875 census records. Locate naturalization records for Valentine and Anna Katharina. Order Anna Katharina Maurer’s death certificate-done 6 Feb 2019. 

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots 2019

SOURCES:

[1] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” 2 sections; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Carbon copy of original document created ca. 1975-1980 and sent to Viola’s niece, Eunice Bertha Tucker Posten, Ms. Ellerbee’s mother.

[2] “Deutschland Gerburten und Taufen, 1558-1898,” database, Family Search (https: //familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1: J8H   :  accessed 11 February 2019), Valentin Maurer, 09 February 1827; citing FHL microfilm 936,825. NOTE: I found this record as I was re-checking sources for this post.

[3]   1860 U.S. Federal Census, Atlantic county, New Jersey, population schedule, Galloway, p. 291 (penned), dwelling 2238, family 2205, Herman Maurer age 7/12; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 14 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653_682.

[4]   “Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 24 November 2018), entry for Valentin Maurer, age 34; citing Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), Record Group 110. National Archives at Washington, D.C.; original source: Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110. NAI: 4213514; Archive volume number: 3 of 5.

[5]   1880 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 182, p. 42B (ink pen), sheet 325B (stamp), dwelling 161, family 465, Mauiner [Maurer] Valentine, age 52; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6HS : accessed, printed, downloaded 13 August 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 0852.

[6]  Brooklyn, New York, Department of Health of the City of Brooklyn, certificate of death no. 4076 (21 March 1888), Valentin Maurer; New York City Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[7]   Brooklyn, New York, Department of Health of the City of New York, certificate of death no. 10424 (1927, Hermann Maurer, New York City Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[8] Anna (Klee) Maurer .  “Autographs Album”  ( book,  Brooklyn, New York, ca 1883); privately held  by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Ms. Ellerbee is Anna’s great-granddaughter. The book was found in the personal effects of Ms. Ellerbee’s mother, Eunice Bertha (Tucker) Posten and was probably given to her by her mother, Charlotte A. (Maurer) Tucker, daughter of Herman and Anna.  Unnumbered page, written in German,  “An Anna, dated Oktober 19, 83, [signed] Anna Katharina Maurer.”

[9] “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 November 2018), entry for Valentin Maurer 07 June 1888;  citing “Passport Application, 1795 – 1905, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. : microfilm publication M1372, General Records Department of State, Record Group 59. 

[10] “New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 November 2018), entry for Valentin Maurer, birth date abt 1827; citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M237_524; Line 38; List number 1200.

[11] New York State Department of Health, “New York, State Census, 1892,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 31 January 2018), entry for Valentine Maurer, age 55; citing New York State Education Department, Office of Cultural Education, Albany, New York; 173 Hopkins Street.

[12] Brooklyn, New York. Department of Health of the City of New York. Certificate of death no. 16339 (1898), New York City Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[13]  “New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999,” digital records, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com   : accessed and printed, 9 December 2015); probate case file for Valentine Maurer, filed 21 March 1899; citing  New York. Surrogate’s Court (King’s County), Probate case files, Kings County, New York. Filed by son, Herman Maurer; names children. 

[14] New York, Bureau of Records, Department of Health, Borough of Brooklyn, Certificate of Death no. 23456 (4 December 1941), Katherine A. Scheffel; Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[15] New York, Bureau of Records, Department of Health, Borough of Brooklyn,  Certificate of Death no. 24968 (14 December 1929),  Joseph Maurer; Municipal Archives, York City, New York.

[16]     New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999,” digital records, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com   : accessed and printed 20 May 2016); probate case file for Anna Katharina  Maurer, filed 21 March 1899; citing  New York. Surrogate’s Court (King’s County), Probate case files, Kings County, New York. Filed by son, Herman Maurer; names children. 

Kate, Stephen, and Aunt Viola’s family history

My ongoing quest is to confirm information provided by maternal great-aunt Viola Maurer Tucker via a handwritten 8-page genealogy.[1]  Her manuscript created the foundation for research about my mother’s family. I can confirm much of what she wrote. Surname misspellings are common but not unexpected.  Viola was in her late 60s when she wrote this document.  I believe that she recorded what she remembered.  My job now is to confirm and add to this family history.  Using processes outlined in Genealogy Do-Over, I am about  halfway done with the Tucker-Maurer family.  When completed, I will post Viola’s original document with my additions.  Here is a report of my latest findings.

According to Viola’s history (page 3):

Katherine (Kate) married Steven Scheffle.  They had 5 children:   Steven, Gertrude, Agnes, Edward, & Charles.

Viola did not report any other information about Kate and Steven or their children. I began with census records which then led to birth, marriage, and death records. Eventually, I remembered to search for obituaries.  Kate’s obituary named four surviving children and answered an important question:  Did her daughters marry or not?  Viola almost got it right – Stephen and Kate had 6 children, not 5.

Katherine Anna Maurer, 3rd child and oldest daughter of German immigrants Valentin Maurer and Anna Katharina Korzelius, is sister of my maternal great-grandfather, Herman Maurer.  Valentine and Anna initially settled in New Jersey, the birthplace of Katherine’s older brothers, Valentin and Hermann[2] . By 1866 (the year of Katherine’s birth), the family had moved to Brooklyn, New York, the birthplace of Katherine, her younger brothers Joseph and Edward, and her sister, Rosina. The year 1880 finds 14-year-old Kattie working as a box maker. [3]  Earning pennies, her wages helped to make the family’s existence a little easier.

Katie’s future husband, Stephen L. Scheffel (note the surname spelling variation from Viola’s report)  and his German immigrant parents also lived in Brooklyn. The couple may have met at church. Katie and Stephen, both in their early 20s,  married about 1889.[4] They brought up their children in the Roman Catholic church.

Maurer_Katherine_Stephen_ScheffeL_wedding_from BRozier

Photograph labelled as Katherine Maurer & Stephen Scheffel wedding. Privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE}, Yukon, Oklahoma, 208. Photographs originally held by Mercedes V. Tucker Bunce, Ms. Ellerbee’s aunt, and sent electronically to Ms. Ellerbee by Barbara Bunce Rosier, daughter of Mercedes. V. Tucker and Mahlon Bunce, May 2018.

The babies came frequently:  Stephen J in March 1890, Gertrude in April 1892, Agnes in June 1893, Edward in December 1894, Charles Henry in April 1896 and William Valentine in December 1898. June 1900 finds the family living in Brooklyn, Kings county, New York. [5] The census taker recorded that Kate was the mother of 6 children with 6 children living. An amazing feat considering infant and child mortality rates of the era.[6]  Katie not only survived the births of 6 children in 10 years but also kept all 6 of those children alive. This adds one more child, William, to Viola’s list. More challenges faced Katie.

Katie’s husband, Stephen L. Scheffel, died a year or two later. One witness to Stephen’s will, written in 1901, was Joseph Maurer, Katie’s brother.[7]  The probate case file, dated 1903, does not record the date of Stephen’s death.  I haven’t found a death record but suspect that Stephen probably died in 1902 or early 1903. Given that he wrote a will in 1901, he probably expected to die soon.  Thirty-six year old Katie now found herself a widow with six children under the age of 13. The better life promised to her immigrant parents must have seemed out of reach.

The children assisted as much as they could. By 1910, four of Katie’s children held jobs. [8] Stephen J, age 20, worked as a magazine agent. Gertrude and Agnes held positions as bookkeepers. Edward was an office boy in a business house. Stephen, the oldest, was also the first to marry. He married Marion H. Schick, daughter of German immigrants, in 1916.[9] The year 1920 held slightly more promise for the family.  Katie’s other 5 children still lived with their mother. [10]

During the next decade, Katie’s children gradually left home.   Agnes married James H. Callahan, a lawyer, in 1927. [11].  Edward married Margaret Gross in 1926 [12]and had a daughter, Alice Marie in 1928. [13] William married about 1929 to Madeline.

Katie was now grandmother to 5 grandchildren, four children born to Stephen & Marion and one daughter born to Edward. These may be her only grandchildren.

The 1930s brought financial ruin to many. Unemployment skyrocketed. How were Katie and her children affected? Their financial circumstances probably became even more difficult. Personal tragedies would also mark this decade. By 1930, Stephen and his wife, Marion had separated. Stephen and his 2 sons moved in with Katie. [14]  Marion and their 2 daughters moved to Orangetown, New York, where she worked as a live-in housekeeper. [15]  What caused this split? Money? Other issues?

In May 1931, Edward died, leaving his wife and daughter.[16] I found a September 1932 death record for Stephen J. Scheffel in San Diego, California.[17] Had he followed others in search of work? In 1936, Stephen’s wife, Marion, married Frank Kuhn, the man for whom she worked as housekeeper in 1930. [18] Where were Gertrude and Charles in 1930? That remains a mystery.

By 1940 and still living in Brooklyn, Katie’s son, Charles,  cared for his aging mother.[19] Katie experienced the difficulties of being an immigrant’s daughter in the 1870s and 1880s.  She saw the nation at war. At least two sons, Edward and Charles, fought in World War I.  She lived through the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression.  She buried her husband and two of her six children. Katie would not experience another war. Katherine Anna Maurer Scheffel, 75 years old, died 4 December 1941, [20] on the eve of World War II.  She was buried two days later in St. John’s Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Maurer_Katherine_mScheffel_obit_1941_crop

Obituary for Katherine A. Scheffel, printed in Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) on 4 December 1941, page 15, column 4, under ‘Deaths’. Accessed from Newspapers.com on 2 September 2018.

What of Katie’s surviving children- Charles, William, Gertrude and Agnes?

  • Charles: SSDI record for Charles H. Scheffel, born 22 April 1896; died 19 March 1957 in Florida. [21]  New York birth record for Charlie Scheffel , son of Stepfan Sheffel and Kathy Anna Maurer implies that this is the same person. [22]
  • William: born 26 December 1898. [23] Died 24 September 1946 in Brooklyn per obituary.[24]
  • Gertrude: born 3 April 1892. [25] Died in February 1973 in Brooklyn per SSDI.[26] Gertrude probably remained single throughout her life.
  • Agnes: SSDI record for Agnes Callahan, born 3 June 1893; died October 1985 in New York. [27].  Corresponds to New York birth record for Agnes Scheffel, daughter of Steffen Louis Scheffel and Katy Anna Maurer Scheffel. [28]

Katie’s life was not glamorous. She did not gain notoriety or extreme wealth. In an era of high maternal and infant mortality, she successfully negotiated the trials of childbirth six times. Similarly, all six of her children grew to adulthood. Did she ever become depressed? Or, am I projecting today’s values on her? Sad? Yes.  I believe that her children’s needs helped to overcome those feelings. Her Roman Catholic faith may also provided strength and solace.

In summary, I used multiple types of records to confirm and add to information reported by great-aunt Viola. Katie’s obituary was a large missing puzzle piece to tell the story of Katie and her children. I began this puzzle in 2016. Now, two years later, only a few small pieces remain to be found.

Attached is a family group sheet for Stephen Scheffel_Katharine Maurer  and their children. A detailed group sheet with sources is available upon request.

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REFLECTION:

I considered various ways to present this information. Katie’s obituary, found recently, gave me the lead I needed to discover Agnes’ marriage. Obituaries can be a rich source of information.  Perhaps a topic for another post?  I continue to find that Viola’s history is an excellent structure with only a few inconsistencies.  I am a perfectionist and want everything to be complete and solid.  I am beginning to accept that I can leave questions unanswered and holes left open.  I try to do the best work that I can with the tools that I have available. And, so, I leave work for future generations.

I used indexes extensively. I may not have financial resources to order all of the original records.  Digital copies of some records may be available at a local Family History Center of the LDS Church. If doing a formal report, the original records should be obtained. The blog turned out longer than I planned. The extensive source list seems almost too much!

What I learned/ relearned:   Look for obituaries earlier in the process.  Ancestry and FamilySearch will not lead me to all records about a person.  A slower data entry process forced me to look at documents more thoroughly.  I sometimes found information that I had previously overlooked.

What helped:  Viola’s history.  Online access to multiple records and indexes.  Creation of research logs for each child. I applied lessons from Genealogy Do-Over. Specifically, during each work session, I saved and labelled digital records, added information to RootsMagic on my computer, and filled in research logs. Although this temporarily slowed forward progress, I won’t have to re-do it later! Finding obituaries for Edward and Charles, even though it was 1 a.m.!

What didn’t help:  Continued temptation to ‘point-click-save’ without thoroughly reviewing information in the document.

To-do list: Continue search for Stephen Scheffel’s death certificate circa 1901-1903. Confirm death dates and locations for Stephen J. Scheffel and Gertrude Scheffel.  Locate Charles and Gertrude in 1930 census.

SOURCES: 

[1] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” 8 pages; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Carbon copy of original document created ca. 1975-1980 sent to Ms. Ellerbee by her great-aunt.

[2] 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Atlantic county, New Jersey, population schedule, Galloway, p. 291 (penned), dwelling 2238, family 2205, Valentin Maurer age 31 digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 31 January 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653_682.

[3] 1880 census. 1880 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 182, p. 42B(penned), sheet325B, dwelling 161, family 465, Mauiner [Maurer] Kattie, age 14; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6HS : accessed, printed, downloaded 13 August 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 0852.

[4] Marriage year based on birth of oldest child in 1890. “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, , Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:CFQ : 11 February 2018 : accessed & printed 30 August 2018), entry for Stephan Scheffel, born 8 March 1890; citing New York Municipal Archives, New York City, New York

[5] 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 21, enumeration district (ED) 0331, p. 5A (penned), 185 Hopkins St, dwelling 19, family 100, Kate Scheffel age 24; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 7 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623, roll 1058.

[6] In 1900, approximately 165 babies died for every  1000 babies born.  “Infant mortality and life expectancy.” Accessed from PBS (https://www.pbs.org/fmc/timeline/dmortality.htm   : accessed 9 September 2018).

[7]  Kings County, New York, Surrogate’s Court, Probate Case Files, Will and witness documents for Stephen L. Scheffel ca 1901-1903; “New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: viewed, printed, downloaded 20 May 2016); Wills, Vol 0305-0307, 1902-1903. Probate Place: Kings, NY.

[8]  1910 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 30, enumeration district (ED) 1064, p. 5A (penned), dwelling 69, family 112, Katherine A. Scheffel head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 20 May 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T624_985.

[9]  New York City Clerk’s Office, New York, New York, “New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, printed, downloaded 29 August 2018), entry for Stephen J Scheffel; citing 1916 BKLYN S Jan- Apr; License number 2026.

[10] 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, Assembly District 9, enumeration district (ED) 484, p. 13A (penned), house number 245, Catherine Scheffe [Katharine Scheffel] head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 17 July 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1157.

[11] “New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 September 2018), entry for Agnes M. Scheffel; citing New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Clerk’s Office, New York, New York; License Number: 9506.

[12] New York Department of Records/ Municipal Archives, “Extracted marriage Index, 1866-1937,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & printed 1 September 2018), entry for Edward Scheffel; citing Index to New York City Marriages, 1866-1937. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group..

[13]. 1930 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 0881, p. 1B (penned), Edward Scheffil age 35; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, printed, downloaded 17 July 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 1538.

[14] 1930 U.S. Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 1754, p. 13B (penned), dwelling 158, family 596, Kathrine Scheffel; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded & printed 9 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 1508.

[15] 1930 U.S. Census, Rockland county, New York, population schedule, Orangetown, enumeration district (ED) 44-27, p. 12 B (penned), dwelling, 236, famiy 249, Marian Scheffel housekeeper, age 34 in household of Frank Kuhn; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 29 August 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm T626.

[16] “SHEFFEL, EDWARD,” obituary, The Brooklyn (Brooklyn, New York) Daily Eagle, 4 May 1931; online images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : viewed, downloaded, printed 1 September 2018), Deaths; citing The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. page 17, column 2.

[17] California Department of Health and Welfare “California, Death Index, 1905-1939,” index, online database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 July 2016), entry for Stephen J.Scheffel, birth year abt 1890.

[18] New York, New York State Department of Health, “New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967,” digital index, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed 29 August 2018), Marion H. Scheffel, Frank M. Kuhn, certificate no. 40937.

[19] 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 24-1128, p. 4B (penned), household 78, Catherine Scheffel head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 9 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T627_2575.

[20] New York, Bureau of Records, Department of Health, Borough of Brooklyn, Certificate of Death no. 23456 (4 December 1941), Katherine A. Scheffel; Muncipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[21] Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & printed 12 July 2016), Charles H. Scheffel, 0891444136.

[22] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, Family Search (http://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1: TT2 11 Feb 2018), Charlie Scheffel, 22 Apr 1896; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 6142 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microflim 1,324,428.

[23] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, Family Search (http://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1: SQD 11 Feb 2018), William Scheffel, 26 Dec 1898; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 357 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microflim 1,984,423.

[24]  “Deaths, Scheffel, William,” obituary, Brooklyn (Brooklyn, New York) Daily Eagle, 25 September 1946; database with images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed & printed 2 September 2018); citing The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, page 15, column 2.

[25] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1: X6l: 11 February 2018), Gertrud Scheffel, 03 Apr 1892; citing New York, United States, reference cn 3738 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1, 324,409.

[26] Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & printed 17 July 2016), Gertrude Scheffel, 147-18-1503, New Jersey (before 1951).

[27] Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed 5 September 2018), entry for Agnes Callahan, 067-01-6266, New York (before 1951).

[28]  “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, , Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:HH3: 11 February 2018 : accessed 13 August 2018), entry for Agnes Scheffel; citing New York Municipal Archives, New York, New York

©© Susan Posten Ellerbee, Posting Family Roots blog, 2018.

Name variations in census records: Maurer & Klee

census checklist Maurer KleeIn my previous post, Herman Maurer & Anna Klee:  Maternal great-grandparents, I stated:  “I am still searching for records related to Herman and Anna’s childhoods, specifically 1870 and 1880 census records.”   After posting the blog, I started a new search.  Results:  two records found — 1880 census for Herman’s parents and 1870 census for Anna’s parents.  Happy dance!  However, the search was frustrating and required more time than I expected. Multiple strategies include name variations and children’s names. Here’s my report.

First, Herman Maurer.

Search attempt record from research log for Valentine Maurer, Herman’s father:

10-13 Aug 2018 Family Search/ Ancestry Collections, BMD, census online, generic Valentin/ Valentine, Maurer, b. Germany, 1825-1830; names of each child After multiple tries (about 3 hours total),  Valentine Mauiner, age 52, Brooklyn, 1880!! Posted to Ancestry tree.

As expected, the family was finally found in Brooklyn, New York,  in 1880 [1].  However, the search involved many road blocks. Previous searches for the family using Ancestry database (at least 4 hours)  had produced no results. Next step involved looking at Brooklyn census page by page.  About 30 wards and townships with hundreds of pages in each ward quickly spoiled that effort! I really appreciate the pre-digital age researchers who spent hours reading those hundreds of pages on microfilm!  I tried using the names of Herman’s siblings (Valentin, Katherine/ Katie, Rosina/ Rosie, Joseph and Edward).  No luck! I tried using asterisk as placer for surname:  Maur*, Mau*, Ma* on Ancestry with similar lack of results.

Go to the next website- Family Search. Begin again and use same search strategies of children’s names and surname variations. Finally, a hit!

1880 U.S. Census_Brooklyn_Kings_NY_Valentine Maurer family_crop

The transcription reads:

Mauiner, Valentine, M W, 52, head, b. Germany.

Annie C, wife, F W 32, b Germany.

Valentine, son, M, 22, b. New Jersey.

Herman, son, M, 20, b. New Jersey.

Kattie, daughter, female, 14, b. New York.

Rosie, daughter, female, 12, b. New York.

Joseph, son, M, age 9, b. New York.

Edward, son, M, 5, b. New York.

Mauiner as surname!  Anna was actually 52 years of age, not 32. That explains why I didn’t find them before now. I tried similar search strategy for 1870 census without success.  The search continues for Valentin and Anna in 1870!

Also of interest is that 14-year-old Kattie Maurer is recorded as a box-maker. She made paper boxes, possibly match boxes, at home and was paid per piece. Her minimal wages supplemented the family’s income.

Onward, to Anna’s parents, Ludwig or Louis Klee and wife, Anna or Katharina. This search finally yielded even more surprising results. I used a similar strategy, beginning with Ancestry database then moving to Family Search database. I typed in Ludwig Klee, Louis Klee, Anna, and Katharina as parents. When no results found, I tried the names of their children – Fritz, Anna, Katherine/ Katharina for 1870 census and added Mollie and Louis for 1880 census. Again, no hits on Ancestry database. Next database searched was Family Search.  Again, I used the same format of surname, parents, and children. Finally, I used the asterisk approach of “Kle*”.  I had almost given up when an 1870 entry showed Anna Kleh, age 25, and Fritz Kleh, age 7.  Male, head of household was recorded as Louis Rleh, age 30.  These names and ages sound familiar!

1870 U.S. Census_Brooklyn_Kings_NY_Louis Klee family_crop

Here’s the transcription [2]:

Louis Rleh [Klee], 30, M W, machinist, value of personal estate $600, place of birth – Prussia, parentage: father of foreign birth- marked; mother of foreign birth – marked.

Anna Kleh [Klee], 25, F W, place of birth New York, father of foreign birth – marked, mother of foreign birth- marked.

 Presumed children:  Fritz, 7, M W, place of birth: New York.

Anna, 6, F W, place of birth: New York.

Katharine, 2, F W, place of birth: New York.

Louis, 1, M W, place of birth: New York.

As with the Maurer family, the transcriber wrote the surname as it looked. The search continues for Louis and Anna in 1880!

gg62755812To help you with similar problems, try these steps:

  • Begin in town from another census. Narrow down location (township, post office, ward, election district) as much as you can.
  • Review other census records. Place of birth recorded for each person may give you a clue.
  • Use name variants found in other records.
  • Use a few letters of name with asterisk to broaden search.
  • Change first names to anyone known to be in household, with name variants same as above.
  • Look in other census sources, online and print.
  • Review possible records page by page.

Expand your research toolbox to include other resources. Here is a partial listing of online resources:

Online family tree databases suggest records through a link to your family tree on their website or another family tree program.  Check your family tree software program for access.

Print resources (partial list):

  • State-specific census indexes. Available at many historical society libraries. Check with your local library and state or county historical societies.
  • Local and county histories. Biographies and other information, such as lists of school board members, will give clues about a person’s residence during the census years.

Happy hunting!

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:

This post was easy to write and tells of my progress in obtaining census records for Valentine Maurer and Louis Klee.  I wish that I could report 1870 and 1880 census records for both families. Oh, well, subject for another post!

What I learned:  Census databases are not created equal! Don’t limit myself to the most popular websites. Try using known address from one census to find enumeration district for another census.  For Brooklyn, try same ward from another census.

What helped:  Knowledge of search strategies. Being able to narrow residence to city and state. Tracking search attempts and strategies on research logs.

What didn’t help: Number of pages in Brooklyn census. I was too lazy to look through hundreds of pages.

TO-DO: Continue search for Valentine Maurer (1870 census) & Louis Klee (1880 census) families.  Use multiple sources, including print indexes available at Oklahoma History Center library.  Keep detailed record of search attempts, including key words, on research logs.

SOURCES:

[1] 1880 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 182, p. 42B(penned), sheet325B, dwelling 161, family 465, Mauiner [Maurer] Valentine, age 52; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6HS : accessed, printed, downloaded 13 August 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 0852.

[2] 1870 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, Ward 16, p. 78 (penned), dwelling 288, family 762, Louis Rleh [Kleh]; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8NB-M8X : accessed, printed, downloaded 14 August 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, 2018.