Civil War Veterans- Confederate and Union

WARNING:  This post contains information about men who fought in the Civil War for both Confederate and Union armies.  Some readers may be uncomfortable with the content. My children inherited genes from both Confederate and Union soldiers.  This post shares the stories of their great-great-great grandfathers:   James T.L. Powell, a soldier in the Confederacy, and Jeremiah Tucker, a Union soldier.
home soldiers.jpg

Display in our living room.  Civil War soldiers were cross-stitched by my sister from a pattern issued during Civil War Centennial, ca. 1961.

James Thomas Lafayette Powell

James T.L. Powell is my husband’s paternal great-great- grandfather.  James T. L. Powell was born on May 13, 1835[1], in Georgia, probably Calhoun County, tentatively identified as the child of Hilliard Powell and Laney Faircloth.[2]  James married Deborah A. C. Daniel on June 28, 1857,in Sumter County, Georgia. [3] By 1860, James, school teacher, and Deborah moved to Calhoun County, Georgia, apparently with no children. [4]

James T.L. Powell enlisted in the Confederate States Army on March 4, 1861, in Morgan, Georgia and served as a private in Company C, 25th Regiment, Georgia Militia. By 1864, he achieved the rank of  2nd lieutenant.    At the Battle of Nashville on December 15 – 16, 1864, captured Confederate soldiers included Lieutenant Powell.  [5]  Transported first to the nearest military camp at Louisville, Kentucky,  James’  journey north continued four days later, on December 20, 1864, to a final destination of Johnson’s Island, near Sandusky, Ohio.  The  500-mile  journey from Nashville to Johnson’s Island probably consisted of travel by both train and on foot.

Powell_civil war records_draft3.jpg

Three of 18 records found in James T L Powell’s Civil War records files

The Prisoner of War Depot at Johnson’s Island consisted of 40 acres and held prisoners from April, 1862 to September, 1865. [6]  Less well known than the infamous Andersonville Prison in Sumter county, Georgia, conditions at over-crowded Johnson’s Island were  similarly desperate.  Ill-clad Confederate prisoners of war also suffered because of not being used to northern winters.[7]  Arriving in December, James shared the same raw conditions as other prisoners.

‘Discharged or paroled’  from Johnson’s Island on June 17, 1865, [8]  James made his way back home to Georgia and reunited with his wife, Deborah, in Calhoun County, Georgia.  The 900-mile trip home coiled through Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.    James and Deborah had three children:  Alonzo ‘Alvey’, born about 1866 in Georgia ; James M. born about 1868 in Georgia, and Peter, born about 1871 in Texas. [9] Deborah probably died in Texas.

On April 22, 1877, James married  Catherine Brown, 17-year-old  daughter of R.L. Brown and Marguerite Puckett  in Cherokee County, Texas.[10]  They had three children:  Katherine Deborah , born August 15, 1879, in Cherokee County, Texas ; William B. , born February 19, 1882 in Texas and Jessie , born January, 1889 in Cherokee County, Texas. [11] The younger Katherine and her husband, James Walter Ellerbee, are my husband’s paternal great –grandparents.

James T. L. Powell died on September 27, 1890, and is buried in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. [12]

James TL Powell gravestone.jpg

Find A Grave Memorial ID #67392240.  Photo by Jerry Bohnett, taken ca 2011.

He may have been visiting his children when he died.   His widow married Elias Barker on September 1, 1892, in Cherokee County, Texas.  Mr. Barker died on August 20, 1900, leaving Catherine again a widow.  Catherine Brown Powell Barker died on March 8, 1944, in Port Arthur, Jefferson county, Texas. [13]

See also:  Johnson’s Island Civil War Military Prison,  Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Civil War Prison:     https://johnsonsisland.heidelberg.edu/index.html

Jeremiah Tucker

Jeremiah Tucker is my maternal great-great grandfather.  Jeremiah Tucker was born on September 23, 1839 in New York, child of Thomas W. Tucker and Lavinia Clearwater.[14]   Jeremiah married two times, possibly three – to Margaret, surname either Irwin or Collins, and Allie Traver.  (See Blog posted on April 24, 2017, for some information about Margaret and Allie; report pending).

Jeremiah served as a private in the 56th New York Infantry Regiment, Company I. [15] His unit defended Washington, D.C., then fought in battles at Yorktown and Williamsburg, Virginia.  In July, 1863, they reinforced the black soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at the Fort Wagner, [South Carolina] siege, memorialized in the film, Glory. [16]  From there, the 56th New York continued south to Charleston, South Carolina, where the men mustered out. [17]  During the war, Jeremiah reportedly lost vision in one eye.

Jeremiah_Tucker_civil war records1

Partial service record for Jeremiah Tucker

After discharge, Jeremiah returned to his home in Greene County, New York,  where he married a woman named Margaret in 1867.[18] Together, they raised five children:  William Frederick, born 1868; Millie, born 1870; Augusta, born 1872; Mary E., born 1874; and Thomas George, born 1877.  Their oldest son, William Frederick Tucker, and his wife, Bertha Traver, are my maternal great-grandparents.  Another child, Lavinia, born in 1862 and recorded as ‘daughter’, resided with Jeremiah and Margaret as late as 1880. [19]

Jeremiah Tucker c

Original photograph given to my uncle, Esbon, from my great-aunt Viola. 

After the Civil War, Jeremiah became a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans.   Jeremiah died on April 16, 1914 at the age of 74 years, 6 months, and 23 days and is buried in his home town of Greenville, Greene county, New York., [20]

Interesting similiarities:

  1. Both men married for a second time after the Civil War.
  2. The first child born after the Civil War became our (my husband’s and mine) great- grandparents.
  3. After the war, both men faced a journey of about 900 miles to return to their homes. I expect that James’ journey was much more difficult than Jeremiah’s.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection/ Journal entry

This post will be seen by some as not politically correct, especially in light of recent events surrounding statues and images of Confederate leaders.  I was disturbed this summer by the acts of vandalism against statues of Confederate leaders. Destruction of property is a crime.  I understand that some are offended and/or uncomfortable with these images and the beliefs represented.  However, the Civil War is part of our American experience, whether we like it or not.  Brave men and women fought for their beliefs on both sides, much as men and women fought in the American Revolution and wars since.  History cannot be erased and is often retold.  Sometimes, we judge our ancestors’ actions according to current morals and ethics.  This can lead to the retelling of history according to standards different than those of the actual time period in which the historical event occurred.  I believe that the perspectives of the actual time period should be considered.

Some may say,  “But, your viewpoint is skewed because your husband’s ancestors fought on the side of the Confederacy.”  Perhaps.  I want my children to be proud of their heritage,  all of their heritage!  So, we proudly display pictures of both Confederate and Union soldiers in our home.  When we visit the grave of James T.L. Powell,  we will place a Confederate flag because he is a Confederate veteran.  And, my children know that they have both Confederate and Union blood flowing in their veins.

Enough of the soapbox.  What did I learn?  The horrors of Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp.  My husband’s family includes others who fought and died for the Confederacy.   The number of slaves owned by my husband’s ancestors varied widely from one to thirty or more.  I learned about the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R, veterans of the Union Army).    I was surprised when I looked up the location of Fort Wagner and immediately made the connection with the film.   I have no information about my mother’s family’s views about black persons although I do not recall ever hearing her say anything discriminatory or derogatory.

A federal law granting benefits to Confederate Civil War veterans passed in 1958. Information and misinformation abounds concerning the language and intent of this law and earlier, related  legislation.  If you are interested, here are three of many websites with information on this issue:

Confederate veterans benefits:   https://www.truthorfiction.com/confederate-soldiers-are-considered-u-s-veterans-under-federal-law/

“Confederate soldiers were not United States veterans.” Blog posted August 24, 2017 by James Howard.  Presents both sides of arguments about Confederate veterans and pardons for them.    https://jameshoward.us/2017/08/24/confederate-soldiers-not-united-states-veterans/

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.  National Park Serive, Department of the Interior. “Confederates in the Cemetery:  Federal Benefits & Stewardship”  :  https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/confederates-in-the-cemetery-federal-benefits-stewardship/

What helped ?  Access to online and print sources.  Careful review of documents revealed new information and insights.  Being open to the stories.  Searching for evidence to support conclusions.

What didn’t help? My negative reaction to those who seem to want to erase the Civil War from U.S. history, or water the history down to a version that is ‘politically correct’ according to today’s standards.  This formed the impetus for me to write this post. Incomplete sources and citations.

Summary:   This post describes two ancestors –men who fought for the Confederacy (Ellerbee family) and Union (Tucker family).  Individual stories grew from genealogical and historical records.  The post ends with a short rant about recent attacks on statues of Confederate leaders. I realize that genealogy blogs are not the usual place for political commentary and I recognize my own subjectivity on this subject.

[1] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed & printed 29 November 2012), memorial page for J.T.L. Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 67392240, citing Wallace Cemetery (Evelyn, De Soto Parish, Louisiana), memorial created by Jerry & Donna Bohnett, photograph by Jerry & Donna Bohnett.

[2] Coolnethead, “Powell Family Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/42063713/person/20387548981/facts  : accessed 9 November 2017); “Hilliard Powell”,  birth and death data undocumented.

[3] “Sumter County, Georgia Marriage Book, 1850-1857”,  marriage record for James TL Powell & Deborah A. C. Daniel, Book 3, page 218.  Marriage Books, Sumter County Ordinary Court, Georgia Archives (http://vault.georgiaarchives.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/countyfilm/id/289112/rec/3  : accessed, downloaded & printed 24 March 2017), citing The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

[4] 1860 U.S. Census, Calhoun county, Georgia, pop. sch., 3rd District, p. 47 (penned), dwelling 335, family 335, James T.L. Powell age 25; digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  : accessed, downloaded & printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_113.

[5] “Carded records showing military service of soldiers who fought in the Confederate Organizations, compiled 1903-1927, documenting the period 1861-1865; ” entry for James L. L Powell (18 pages); digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com :  accessed, downloaded & printed, 8 November 2017);  ; citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M266, record group 109, state Georgia, roll 0386.

[6] Depot of Prisoners of War on Johnson’s Island, Ohio.  (http://www.johnsonsisland.org/history.htm  : accessed, printed & downloaded 14 Nov 2011).

[7] James I. Robertson, Jr.  The Civil War: Tenting tonight.  The soldier’s life. (Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1884), 113, 115.

[8] Widow’s Application for Confederate Pension, Catherine Barker, widow’s pension file no. 50567, Civil War, Confederate, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.  Carded records, compiled service record, James T. L. Powell, Lt., Co. C, 25th  Regiment Georgia Infantry, Civil War, RG 109, NARA-Washington, D.C.

[9] 1870 U.S. Census, Calhoun County, Georgia, pop. sch., Militia District 626, p. 55 (penned), p. 585 (stamped), dwelling 510, family 486, Jas T L Powell; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 9 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_138.

[10] Widow’s Application for Confederate Pension, Catherine Barker, widow’s pension file no. 50567, Civil War, Confederate, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.

[11] Death certificates for Katherine Deborah Powell & William B. Powell, personal files of Susan Posten Ellerbee.  “Jessie Booker”, step-daughter listed with ‘Elide & Catherine Booker” in 1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, pop.sch., Justice Pct 8, p. 284 (stamped), dwelling 16, family 16, Jessie Booker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : viewed 9 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623, roll 1619.

[12] Find A Grave, J.T.L. Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 67392240.

[13]  Jefferson county, Texas, death certificates, death certificate #14269 (1944), Mrs. Catherine Barker, 8 March 1944; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 9 November 2017); citing Texas Department of State Health Services, “Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982”, Austin, Texas.

[14] Jeremiah Tucker, death certificate (copy of original certificate stamped ‘for genealogical research only’),  no. 22078 (16 April 1914), New York Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Genealogy Unit, Albany, New York.

[15]“Abstracts from original muster rolls for New York State infantry units involved in the Civil War: 56th Infantry,” New York State Archives; entry for Jeremiah G. Tucker; Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com   : accessed 9 November 2017); citing New York State Archives, Digital Collections, Records of Military Service, Civil War, (http://digitalcollections.archives.nysed.gov/).

[16] Glory, directed by Edward Zwick (1989, Hollywood, California: TriStar Productions).

[17] “56th Infantry Regiment, Civil War,” NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs, New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center (https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/56thInf/56thInfMain.htm:   accessed 8 November 2017 ); citing The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 — records of the regiments in the Union army — cyclopedia of battles — memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. Volume II.

[18] 1900 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 78, p. 8A (penned), dwelling 189 , family 196, Jeremiah Tucker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623_1039.

[19] 1880 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 2B (penned), dwelling #1, family #1, Lavinia Tucker age 18; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded and printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 836.

[20] Jeremiah Tucker, Greenville, Greene county, New York; death certificate no. 22078 (16 April 1914).

Memorial Day 2017 – In honor of Herman E. Maurer (1923 – 1944)

memorial day stampIt’s Memorial Day weekend.  I planned to continue with a post about using research logs and genealogy.  That post can wait.  I am going to write about my first cousin once removed, Herman E. Maurer,  who was killed in action during World War II.

As I reviewed my other blog posts, I realized that I have been doing more teaching and not so much reflection.   I am a nurse for over 40 years now and 25+ years of that time was spent in education, teaching men and women how to be nurses.   One of our teaching tools is journaling – having the students reflect on their clinical experiences.   I remember telling them to write more than just a list of what they did.  What did you do today?  How did you feel about giving a shot or watching a baby being born?  Nervous? Confident? Frustrated? Awed by the experience?   What did you learn? What or who helped? What or who didn’t help?  Suggest ways to make the next clinical day better.   So, starting with this post, I am going to take my own advice and do more reflecting.

What memories do you have of Memorial Day?  When I was in grade school and middle school in northern Kentucky,  Memorial Day meant that the school year ended.  I don’t remember doing anything special as a family.  Dad was an airline mechanic so he often had to work on holidays.   As a nurse, I, too, often worked on this holiday.  On the other hand, my husband’s family usually got together and had the first family barbecue of the summer season.

As an older adult, I began to appreciate the significance of this holiday.  Memorial Day, formerly called Decoration Day, honors those who have died in battle defending our country.  It is a uniquely American holiday.  American flags are placed on the graves of veterans, whether or not the veteran died during war time.  Facts:

  • The idea began after the Civil War. “It [Decoration Day] was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.”[1]
  • General James Garfield made the first Decoration Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery. “About 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.”[2]
  • Originally, Memorial Day was on held on May 30th. [3] In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) and made Memorial Day the last Monday in May. Controversy about the 3-day weekend versus May 30th continues to the present.
  • Several southern states honor the Confederate war dead on these days: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

The Memorial Day website has more information about this holiday.

Now, remembering my first cousin, once removed, Herman E. Maurer.   Herman was born on July 13, 1923, in Brooklyn, New York. [4],[5]   to Herman Charles Maurer and his second wife, Elizabeth Veronica Major.   By 1925[6], the family moved to Huntington, Suffolk county, New York, where other members of Herman’s family also lived.  Herman E. enlisted in the Army Air Corps on November 25, 1942.[7]  Assigned to the 485th Bomber Group,  828th Bomb Squad and trained as gunner, he was quickly promoted from private to staff sergeant.  Herman was a member of Crew #17 with pilot, Hudson Owen.

On June 26, 1944, Herman Maurer flew with Parke Bossart’s crew.  Unknown is whether Herman volunteered to fly with a different crew on this day or whether he was assigned.  The B-24 Liberator crew of 10 was assigned to bomb  an oil refinery near Florisdorf, Austria.  About 9:30 am, they engaged  Germans in an air battle.  According to one document in the file, [8]  Herman had flown about 24 missions.  During the attack, Herman was wounded and reported “enemy planes coming in at tail.”  One crew member reported  last seeing Herman as he entered the tail turret.  Herman was the only crew member who died that day.  The others were captured and interred at Dulag Luft. [9]

Herman was initially buried at the Pressbaum Cemetery, Pressbaum,  Austria.[10]  His body was later returned to the United States.  On May 18, 1949, Herman E. Maurer was laid to rest in the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York.[11]   Herman E Maurer gravestone

The pilot,  Parke N. Bossart,  later filed this report: [12]

“One of the other officers in my crew (I’ve forgotten which one) was shown Maurer’s dog tags by his interrogater [sic]  in Frankfurt and told that the tail gunners’ remains were found in the wreckage. Reports of the other member of the crew indicate that Maurer destroyed either two or three of the German fighters who made the final attack on our plane and was presumably killed by them. He should be posthumously cited for this, but since my return, I haven’t found anyone sufficiently interested to do anything about it – or even take a report on it.”

air medal_memorial day 2017

United States: Air Medal.  Picture copied  from Project ww2awards website

Herman did receive two posthumous medals —  Purple Heart and Air Medal.[13]  The Air Medal , established in 1942, ‘is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the armed forces of the United States, shall have distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight”.[14]

Being an avid researcher and probably OCG (obsessive-compulsive genealogist), I wanted to know more.  I googled ‘485th bomber group World War II’ and found a website[15]:      I followed the 485th Photos button to the ‘Photos of the 828th Squadron Crews’ button and down to Bossart crew.   Parke Bossart was the pilot.  There, in the picture, third from the right, was a man without a name, listed as ‘unknown’ on the picture legend.  All of the other men were identified by name.  Could this man be my cousin, Herman E. Maurer?  Further down on the website was a picture of the Owen crew and Herman is named.    But, there are only 4 men on the back row and 5 men are named.  So, which one is Herman?  I am waiting confirmation from the webmaster.

 

Owen Crew_Herman Maurer named here

Owen crew – 828th Squadron – Original crew #17
Front Row, L – R:  Joe Coker, Engineer/Gunner; William Roberts, Co-Pilot; Hudson Owen, Pilot; Jerry Durden, Bombardier; Perry Monroe, Gunner.
Back Row, L – R: Alfred Aborjaily, Radio Operator/Gunner; George Mack, Gunner; Kenneth Ponte, Gunner; Herman Maurer, Gunner; Fales Holcomb, Navigator. 
The assigned plane for this crew was “My Brother and I”.  Fales and Durden were killed flying with Thomas Baker’s crew on 7/20/44, when the plane was shot down by fighters on the Friedrichschafen mission.  Maurer was killed while flying with Bossart’s crew on 6/26/44 and Mack became a POW, also flying with Bossart’s crew on the 6/26/44 Vienna mission.  Several from this crew were wounded when they crashed while landing at Bari on 6/28/44.  

Picture and narrative retrieved 26  May 2017:  http://www.485thbg.org/Photos/828th/828th.html

By this time, I am in tears.  The picture of Herman will be put with the story and other documents.   He was 3 weeks shy of his 21st birthday and a year younger than my youngest son.  Thank you, Herman, for your sacrifice!

 Before you ask, yes,  I sent an email with copies of all  information to the contact person on the website.   After I dry my tears , I will fill out a research log.

Reflection on this experience:   Today, I learned about the history of Memorial Day, formerly Decoration Day.  Most exciting thing was possibly finding a picture of my cousin who died in World War II.  The emotions almost overwhelmed me.  I used the internet effectively to find out more about my cousin’s military service.  What didn’t help was that I did not have complete sources for several documents that I downloaded five years ago.  I felt frustrated when I couldn’t quickly access those documents again so I could get the source.  Ultimately, I did find the documents again and now have the complete sources.  As I write these blog posts, I am using skills that I am learning as part of my Genealogy Do-over, specifically documentation (using research logs) and source citation (using templates).  Primary challenge remains  slowing down and taking time to review/ analyze information, as well as documenting sources and my thought processes.  I am still a novice when it comes to use of research tools.

[1] Memorial Day (http://www.usmemorialday.org  : accessed 24 May 2017), “History.”

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., “Date Restoration.”

[4]  Department of Veterans Affairs, “Nationwide Gravesite Locator,” database, National Cemetery Association. (http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov   : accessed 24 May 2017), entry for Herman E. Maurer (1923-1944), Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York.  

[5] 1940 U.S. census, Suffolk County, New York, population schedule, Huntington, Enumeration District [ED] 52-102, p. 7A (penned), household # 106, Herman Maurer: digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 25 May 2017); from National Archives microfilm publication T626, roll 1651, image 1014.0.

[6] 1925 New York state census, Suffolk County, population schedule, Huntington, p. 44, dwelling [blank],  for Herman E. Maurer in Herman C. Maurer household;  digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 25 May 2017), citing State population census schedules, 1925. Albany, New York: New York State Archives.

[7] “U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946”, database and images, Ancestry.com  (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 26 May 2016), record for Herman E. Maurer , enlistment date 25 Nov 1942, New York City, New York; citing Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946 [Archival Database]; World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland.

[8] “Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs), compiled 1942-1947,” database and images, Fold3.com (https://www.fold3.com   : accessed 25 May 2017), Report No. 6822 (36 pages), Serial No. 41-29291, Year: 1944; Record Group 92: Publication No. M1380, Roll 02401-02500,  National Archives Catalog ID 305256.  National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

[9] “Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs, compiled 1942-1947,” database,  Report No. 6822, Year: 1944.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Dept. of Veterans Affairs, “Nationwide Gravesite Locator,” database entry for Herman E. Maurer (1923-1944).  

[12] “Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs, compiled 1942-1947,” database Report No. 6822, Year: 1944.  Individual Casualty Questionnaire completed by Parke N. Bossart, pilot.

[13]“U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962”, database and images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com :  accessed 25 May 2017),  entry for Herman E. Maurer,  serial no. 12189684,  citing Interment Control Forms, 1928–1962. Interment Control Forms, A1 2110-B. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland.

[14] Project ww2awards.com, (http://en.ww2awards.com/award/247  : accessed 25 May2017), “United States: Air Medal AM.”

[15] 485th Bomber Group Association, (http://www.485thbg.org  :  accessed 25 May 2017),  “485th Photos, Photos of the 828th  Squadron Crews.”

Reflections on Mother’s Day, 2017

Today, I decided to focus on my grandmothers.  No special reason, it just seemed like the right thing to do.  I realized that I had few pictures of either one of my grandmothers.  I went to a small brown trunk and a red cardboard box of pictures.    I found a 1954 picture of my dad’s mother and a 1955 picture of my mom’s mother.

Jennie Amelia Richards (paternal grandmother)

Jennie Amelia Richards was the daughter of Ostrander Richards and Amelia Magdellene LaCoe.  Jennie was born on January 15, 1884, in Ransom Township, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania, the youngest of seven children[1],[2].   Her father was a farmer.   Two of her siblings died before Jennie was born – Mary Amelia Richards, died in 1878 at age 11[3], and William Ostrander Richards, died in 1883 at age of 13[4].  A third sibling, Ora Nathaniel Richards, died in 1893[5].  One of her brothers, Leslie Frank Richards, was known as “progressive truck farmer” in Lackawanna county. [6]  The family was still living in Ransom Township in 1900.[7]  Jennie married John Ray Posten, a fireman from West Pittston, Pennsylvania, in September , 1910. [8], [9]  Six children were born to Jennie and John:  Lester Joseph (b. 1911); George Ray (born 1913); Grace Amelia (born 1915); Daniel Richard (born 1917 – my dad);  Martha Gertrude (born 1920) and Mary Elizabeth (born 1923).  According to Aunt Mary[10], “we moved around a lot” and  lived on small farmsteads outside of city limits.

Grandma Posten 1954_ver2

Jennie was very religious and regularly attended church , usually walking to services.  She had a ‘green thumb’  (which my dad inherited) and was very proud of both her vegetable and flower gardens.  As the United States entered World War I, John and Jennie owned a farm on Russell Hill, near Tunkhannock, Luzerne county.   According to Aunt Mary[11],  John chose to work  the farm and raise food for the soldiers rather than serving in Europe.   They lost the farm during the depression.   However, Jennie was frugal and a good manager, so the family always had food.  The boys hunted and provided meat in the form of squirrels and rabbits.[12]  Pancake batter made from sourdough was also a staple food item.

In 1940, Jennie became the main provider for the family as John suffered health issues  and was hospitalized.   John died in 1948 and Jennie went to live with her son, Lester.   I remember going to Pennsylvania every other year.  Jennie, aka Grandma Posten, always seemed quiet and withdrawn.  She knew Dad and had to be re-introduced to us, her grandchildren, each time.  This could have been simply because we visited so rarely.

How little I know about Jennie’s early life beyond the events listed here!   Being a farmer’s daughter, she probably worked on the farm from an early age.  She completed 8th grade[13].  I recall Dad saying that she insisted on each of them attending high school, showing that she valued education.  Pride in a flower garden indicates that she also enjoyed the beauty of nature, perhaps appreciating it as a gift of God.

ImageJennie died peacefully on June 25, 1964, at the age of 80.[14]  She was found sitting on the floor, with a sandwich and a glass of milk next to her.  Cause of death was probably a massive heart attack.  Aunt Mary and Aunt Grace said that I look like her.  Unfortunately,  I did not inherit her green thumb!  But, I do enjoy a small herb garden and a few flowers.  After Dad died, we had a small vegetable garden for several years.  Digging in the soil helped me feel closer to Dad and, without recognizing it at the time, his mother.   Thank you, Jennie!

Amalie Charlotte Maurer (maternal grandmother)

Amalie Charlotte Maurer  was the daughter of George Hermann Maurer and Anna Klee.   Lottie, aka Gram, was the granddaughter of German immigrants; her grandfather came to the United States in the 1850s. Lottie was born in Brooklyn, Queens, New York, on May 26, 1892, [15]  the fifth of nine children.   She married Esbon Jeremiah Tucker of Greene County, New York, on June 3, 1917.[16]   Lottie and Esbon had 4 children:   Esbon Herman , born 1918; Eunice Bertha, born 1919 (my mother);  William Burde, born 1923; and Mercedes Viola, born 1925.  After the death of their parents , Lottie’s sister,  Viola Blanche Maurer, came to live with Lottie and Esbon.

Huntington NY May 1955 names_ver2

By 1910, Lottie’s parents  had moved to Huntington, Suffolk county, New York[17], which is on Long Island.  Herman was a brass worker, which means that he may have worked in a smelting factory.  Lottie and Esbon remained on Long Island for the rest of their lives.   Gram spent all of her life in urban and suburban areas.  Like many suburban families, she  had a small garden for personal use.  However, they family did not rely on this garden as a primary source of food.  My grandfather, Esbon, worked for the phone company and apparently did not lose his job during the depression.  Although money was scarce, they had the necessities of life and, because of Pop’s job, were a little better off than many other families.

Gram & Pop's house Spring Street ca 1957_ver2

I also know little about Lottie’s life beyond the facts and events recorded here and my own memories.  Lottie collected salt and pepper shakers, which were stored in a wood cabinet in their musty basement on Spring Street in Huntington.   I am not  sure what church they attended.  Both Gram and Viola knew how to knit and crochet; they taught my mother, who taught me.  I continue to enjoy these crafts.   Gram’s kitchen was very small and a 1950s style kitchen table made it even more crowded.   However, the amount of food that came out of that kitchen was always remarkable!

Lottie and Esbon lived in their own home throughout their  57 years of marriage.  Lottie died on April 9, 1974 in Huntington, Suffolk County, New York at the age of 82.[18]  My grandfather died 10 years later. Thank you, Lottie!

Reflecting on my grandmothers, I realize that I am, indeed, a composite of both.  From Grandma Posten,  I inherited physical characteristics and an appreciation of growing things, although not her green thumb.  Her daughter recognized Jennie’s ability to manage;  for the last 18 years,  I have been in a mid-level administrative/ management position.    From Gram Tucker, I inherited needlework skills and a love of cooking, especially German food.   Canning and preserving food was a necessity for both grandmothers.  I enjoy the process and results although I do not have to raise the food.   Hopefully, I inherited the longevity genes from both and can expect to live 80+ years.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I honor my mother’s mother , Amalie Charlotte Maurer Tucker, and my father’s mother, Jennie Amelia Richards Posten.  Both contributed unique talents and values to their children who, subsequently, shared those same talents and values with me.

Genealogy to-do list for today:  Scan pictures pulled from boxes.  Add items to Research Logs:  Mary Amelia Richards – confirm death date & location;  William Ostrander Richards—confirm death date and location.  Marriage certificate and death certificates for Esbon Tucker and Charlotte Maurer Tucker were ordered  in March, 2017; should be arriving soon!

[1] J.B. Stephens, compiler, History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania (Montrose, Pennsylvania: J.B. Stephens, 1912),  216; digital images, Pennsylvania State University Libraries Digital Library Collections,    (http://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/cdm4  :  accessed, downloaded & printed 8 June 2010.

[2] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate no. 062881-64 ,  Jennie Richards Posten (1964) ; Division of Vital Records, New Castle, PA.

[3] Unknown, IGI Family Group Record, Family Group record # 34426625.

[4] Unknown, IGI Family Group Record. No other information listed.

[5] Find A Grave, database with images (http://www.findagrave.com   : accessed 14 May 2017), memorial 73363200,  Ora Richards, Milwaukee Cemetery, Scranton, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania; gravestone picture by JGordon24.

[6] Stephens,  History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, 215-216.

[7] 1900 U.S. census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, RansomTownship, Enumeration District [ED] 40th, sheet no. 10A (penned), 225A (stamped),  dwelling 133, family 137, Jennie Richards, daughter: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 May 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.  microfilm publication T623, roll 1419.

[8] Stephens, History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, p. 216.  John and Jennie’s marriage date is recorded as September 21, 1910.  Their marriage license was issued on September 21, 1910 per county records.

[9] “Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Marriage License Docket, 1907-1918”, John R. Posten-Jennie A. Richards, 21 September 1910, license no. 56312; image, “Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950”,  FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GPR3-2KV?cc=1589502&wc=Q6VB-1ZY%3A1590262681%2C1590262994   : accessed 14 May 2017).

[10] Mary E.  Button Posten (Luzerne County, Pennsylvania), telephone interview by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, 21 Jan 2011;   transcript privately held by Ellerbee,  [address for private use, ] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2011.  Mary, a daughter of Jennie, spoke from personal knowledge of her mother.

[11]Mary E. Posten Button, interview, 21 Jan 2011.

[12] Daniel R. Posten (Bryant, Saline County, Oklahoma), information given to Susan M. Posten Ellerbee,  ca. 1975,   no transcript available, information  privately held by Ellerbee,  [address for private use, ] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Daniel, a son of Jennie, spoke about his childhood.

[13] 1940 U.S. census, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Tunkhannock Township, Enumeration District [ED] 66-23, sheet no. 14A (penned),  family 236, Jennie Posten: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 May 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.  microfilm publication T627, roll 3640.

[14] Pennsylvania death certificate no. 062881-64  (1964), Jennie Richards Posten.

[15] New York City Department of Records and Information Services,  birth certificate no. 5947 ,  Amalie Charlotte Maurer (1892); Municipal Archives, New York, New York.

[16] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer- Tucker Family History.” (Handwritten notes. Huntington, New York, ca. 1975-1980), Esbon J. Tucker, p. 2;  carbon copy  privately held by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2010.  Transcribed by Ms. Ellerbee in 2012. Ms. Ellerbee is the granddaughter of Amalie Charlotte Tucker and great-niece of Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker.

[17] 1910 U.S. Census, Suffolk County, New York, pop. sch., Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 1367, p. 2B, Family #26, Herman Maurer (head); digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, downloaded 31 January 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T624, roll 1083.

[18] Charlotte A. Tucker funeral card, Huntington, New York, privately held by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017. This funeral card was among papers that belonged to Eunice Bertha Tucker Posten, daughter of Charlotte Maurer and Esbon Tucker.

Genealogy Do-Over: Month 2, Blog #1

Month 2 – still working on the re-organization of paper files and completing worksheets.  I started with in-law files then decided to tackle the more difficult files- my dad’s.   I am still spread out on our dining room table.  By the end of the month (February, 2017),  dad’s files were done and I began on mom’s files.  Once my documentation system was in place,  the process went a little smoother.   As I quickly reviewed dad’s files to write this blog, I realized that I had forgotten an important item on each document – signing and dating each form. oopsI didn’t start doing that until I was into mom’s files.  So, two months later and I am back into the paper files to make sure that each document is signed and dated.

Why is signing and dating a worksheet or family group sheet  so important?   First, it tells who filled in the blanks.  Many forms have space for this information.  Unfortunately, the forms that I chose do not have a designated space to fill in.  Second, date tells when the form was filled out.  I found many old forms with dates as early as 2001- 2002 and one or two from the 1990s. There had been numerous updates to most of the information since the original form was filled out.  However,  I am keeping the old forms as a record of my research at that time.  Also, these old records helped me to identify research habits that needed changing.

Which brings me to the focus of this month’s activities :  1) establish base practices and guidelines and 2) setting research goals.  Recognizing the need to ‘clean up my act’ was the motivating factor to do this in the first place.

Where to begin?  Start with myself [1].   Goal #1 for month 2: Collect and record information for myself, husband Jay and our parents.   Outcome:   Completed for Jay (husband) and myself on February 2, 2017.  Completed for both sets of parents by the end of February.   This was relatively (excuse the pun) easy.  In 2011, I became an official Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR) and had collected my documents for that application.  In 2013 and 2014, I created family history scrapbooks for my in-laws and had collected many of their documents.  A DAR application for my mother-in-law finished the collection.  Birth, death, marriage, divorce certificates are now in appropriate folders for these two generations.  Individual checklists are filled out as much as possible.  Our siblings have their own family group sheets and checklists.  However,   I don’t have their birth & marriage certificates.  More items for the To-Do list! Oh, well!

Now, onward to Generation 3 , grandparents.  I have the documents for my paternal grandparents as result of DAR application.  My maternal grandparents were born in New York in late 1890s. I began getting certificates last year but not in any systematic manner.  Last year,  I had written for, and received, a death record for my great-great-grandfather, who died in 1898 in New York.  New York has wonderful records!Love NYI already have my grandfather’s birth certificate, sent to me by a New York cousin, so my grandmother was next on the list. Birth certificate received on March 14, 2017!  Here’s a partial transcript.

Full name of child: Amalie Charlotte Maurer
Sex: Female. No. of child of mother: 5 
Date of Birth: 26 May 1892. Hour of birth: 4 pm
Place of birth: Hopkins Street 
Mother’s full name: Anna Maurer. Age: 28 years
Mother’s maiden name: Klee Birthplace: Brooklyn
Father’s full name: Herrman Maurer. Age 32 years
Father’s occupation: mat???llmoulder Birthplace: Brooklyn

Seems like routine information.  But, there were several surprises.  First,  name of child.  I had always heard that Gram’s name was Charlotte.  Family and friends called her Lottie.   Her middle name has been reported as both Anna and Amalie.  Amalie was her first name!  Make corrections to all of my records.  Second,  she is reported as 5th child of her mother.  Wait a minute – according to my records,  Amalie Charlotte was Anna’s 4th child!  Another item for the To-Do list:  discover 5th child born to Herrman and Anna between December, 1883 (date of their marriage) and May, 1892. So tempting to follow that BSO now!  And, finally, just what was Herrman’s occupation??

Enough for this post!  In my next post, I will explore more of my not-so-wonderful research practices and what I am doing to improve.

Genealogy Do-over: Month 1, Part 2

Progress report:  Month 1,  Goal #2:  locate/ sort/ file essential documents and those that ‘”took considerable time, effort and money to order or collect.   Set aside for later review.”[1]

As of April 24, 2017 (Month 4),  this task is finally, almost complete for maternal & paternal lines, maternal  & paternal- in-laws families, taking much longer than I anticipated.  But, then, I realize that there are 500-600 people (or more) in each tree,  going back 5-7 generations.  Yes, not all of those people are directly related to us!  My husband said, more than once, “I hope that all of this  will actually help!” as I totally took over a dining room table.  Son #2 has his computer on our office desk so that space isn’t currently available.  I kept telling husband and sons, and reminding myself, that it was as much for those who will inherit my files as for me now.  I think that their eyes glazed over more than once when I tried to describe why I was doing this!   During the re-organization process,  I tried to carefully review documents.  I jumped ahead to Month 4 (research log) for a couple of brick walls and questions that came up.   I am proud of myself that I only followed 3-4 BSOs!  Staying away from those is a definite challenge!

What is a BSO?  BSO stands for “Bright and Shining Object”.   According to Thomas MacAntee [1],  a BSO is anything that “can cause your research to be derailed while you lose focus on your original research goal.”   For me, this has included not only those hints on the genealogy websites but a note that a town in the 1880 census no longer exists (spent 2 hours finding out more that was not really relevant to our family’s history), a 1940s newspaper clipping about a boy with our surname (turns out he was son of a 2nd cousin) and the death certificate of wife of  distant relative (until 2 am tracking her parents).   He recommends using a To-Do List.  To-Do lists include what you are trying to find, what you have found, and what you need to find to meet your research goal.  Basically, it’s a research plan and incorporates the BSO that is tempting you.

disco-ball-150x150

BSO example #1:    Finding 1st wife of  my  maternal great-great grandfather, Jeremiah Tucker.  According to oral family history, his wife’s name was Margaret/ Maggie Irwin.

Census records for 1870, 1880 & 1900 show Jeremiah and wife, Margaret.   A closer look at 1900 census record shows that Jeremiah & Margaret have been married for 33 years or estimated marriage year about 1867.  So, what’s the problem?  1870 census record – child, Lavinia, age 8 (born about 1862).  1880 census – daughter, Lanna, age 18.  If marriage information given in 1900 census is correct, then Margaret is probably Jeremiah’s 2nd wife.   Next item of interest already in my files, death certificate for George Tucker (age 3 in 1880) — his mother’s name is listed as Margaret Collins.  Wife, Margaret, listed in 1870/1880/1900 census records died before Jeremiah, who died in 1914.

Was  Jeremiah Tucker married to another woman named Margaret ?

This is definitely a BSO!  At any other time, I would have gone after this immediately.  But, I restrained myself .  So, here is the To-Do list:

  1. Confirm death date & location for Margaret Tucker.  Obtain death certificate.
  2.  Confirm death date & location for Lavinia Tucker; obtain death certificate.
  3. Obtain death certificates for other children of Jeremiah & Margaret – William Frederick Tucker (my great-grandfather),  Augusta Tucker Sanford.
  4. Search New York marriage records for Jeremiah Tucker and 1st wife, possibly also named Margaret, years 1860 to 1862.

During the re-organization & review process,  I encountered more BSOs and was able to avoid the temptation most of the time.  Frustrating?  Yes,  because I REALLY want to find the answer to the questions!   I will discuss other BSOs and my experiences with research logs  in a later blog.

For the moment,  I am beginning to see the benefits of the time spent on the re-organization of my files.  For each person, I can quickly scan 1 or 2 sheets of paper and see exactly what I need to find.  I also have entered  questions on the to-do tab in my genealogy software program.  Most of these will eventually be entered on the more detailed research logs.  And, future searches will, hopefully, be more focused and efficient because of time spent now.

Still to be done:   complete scanning of BMD certificates sent to me from cousin.  Put original certificates in archival quality plastic sleeves in appropriate notebooks.

[1] Thomas MacAntee, The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016);  download from Amazon.com