Remembering Dad (and his male ancestors)

My father, Daniel Richard Posten, would be 100 years old by now. I considered writing about him for this week’s blog post but couldn’t seem to bring myself to do so. Why? I couldn’t identify a specific reason at first. Then, I realized that Dad died 20 years ago this month. An anniversary of sorts. The words don’t flow easily. So, I begin with some basic genealogical information about Dad and the men who lived before him.

Ancestor Fan of Daniel Richard Posten_ver4

Ancestor Fan Chart for Daniel R. Posten.  Created using Legacy genealogy software, copyrighted  by Millenia Corporation,

The next generation of Dad’s male ancestors are:

  • Thomas Posten (1782, New Jersey – 1854, Pennsylvania)
  • John Mills (abt 1811, New York  – 1891, ? New York)
  • David Fulkersin (ca 1775, New Jersey – abt 1819, ? New Jersey     )
  • Adam Shotwell (1778, New Jersey – 1830, New Jersey)
  • Nathaniel Richards (1759, New Jersey – 1831, New Jersey)
  • Thomas Ostrander (1745, New York – 1816, New York)
  • Anthony Desire LaCoe/ LeCoq (1780, France –  1883, Pennsylvania)
  • Ira Ash (1794, Connecticut –  1873, Pennsylvania)

Dad’s family roots began squarely within three of the original 13 colonies – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. These three colonies, plus Delaware, are known as the “Middle Colonies”. In general, once settled in Pennsylvania, men remained in the same locales with their families for decades. Descendants from all lines still reside in Pennsylvania. Countries of origin haven’t yet been positively identified for our Posten, Richards, Fulkerson, Mills, and Shotwell lines, although we (myself, my brother, our cousins) suspect that most of the original immigrants came from England. Original immigrants are known for the LaCoe (France) and Ostrander (Holland and Germany) ancestors.

I cannot claim any famous or notorious persons as a direct ancestor. The men primarily worked as farmers to support their families.  By the late 1800s, some moved to urban areas.  In a documentary, they would probably be described as “average” Americans with some participating more actively in their communities and churches than others. Nothing extraordinary except a desire to provide for their families and leave a strong legacy for their children.

My dad was such a man. Raised near small towns in northeastern Pennsylvania, Daniel, one of six children, completed high school in 1935. He joined the United States Army Air Corp and learned to repair airplanes. His military service extended through the end of World War II. After leaving the Army, Dan worked as an airplane mechanic with American Airlines. Apparently, he inherited a gardening gene from his mother; his vegetable garden provided a steady supply of food for us.  Carpentry, a hobby for Dan,  was listed as the occupation for some of Dad’s ancestors. My siblings and I each inherited, and cherish,  one or more pieces of furniture made by Dad. He and mom insisted that we complete high school while encouraging us to obtain both formal and informal education after that.  Dan retired in 1981 and bought a small acreage in Oklahoma. The backyard family garden enlarged to about one acre. Later, he and mom moved to Arkansas to be near their youngest daughter (me). About a year before his death, Dan and Eunice moved back to Oklahoma, where Dan died in 1998 and Eunice died in 2007.

Mary_Martha_Dan_Grace_Lester_ca 1980-82 PA_w names

George R. Posten, 2nd oldest child of John and Jennie, died in 1955. Family photograph, privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee,  [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. From boxes of photographs belonging to her mother, Eunice Bertha Tucker Posten; obtained by Ms. Ellerbee upon her mother’s death in 2007.

My siblings and I inherited more than just DNA. We inherited a sense of pride in a “job well done”, a work ethic, a desire to make life better for our children and faith in God. We were taught that citizenship includes both rights and responsibilities.  We recognize the value of education whether that education is academic or technical. We volunteer in our local communities. Don’t let me mislead you with this almost idyllic description. Our family was, and is, not perfect. But, we do take pride in our family history.

Our family history (most of it, anyway) is as old as the history of the United States. Our family is not unique in this respect. Ordinary people doing ordinary things yet creating something extraordinary – a sense of family in America.

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REFLECTION: 

This entire post is a reflection on fathers, including my own. My genealogy work has given me a more profound sense of how deep our American roots are. And, yes, I did write about my Dad, even though that was not my initial intent.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, 2017-2018.  Excerpts and links may be used when full and clear credit, including appropriate and specific direction to the original content, is given to Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots. Unauthorized use or duplication of material without the written permission of the owner is prohibited.

 

 

 

“Missing Children”: The case of Lillian Maurer (abt 1901 – ‘died in infancy’)

Willie, age 3, appears on a census record. Ten years later, Willie’s name does not appear on the census record with his parents. What happened to Willie? You question relatives with no result. Using your best research practices, you search diligently for Willie in online databases – birth and death records, websites for newspapers and cemeteries, city and/or county genealogical society websites. You query the local historical society. Nothing turns up.  Viewing microfilmed newspapers at the local library also yields no information. You record everything on a research log, vowing to return another day.  You keep Willie in mind but, in essence, Willie remains “missing” in your family’s genealogy. Hopefully, you eventually find out what happened to Willie,  the “missing” child.

Two often overlooked sources are the 1900 and 1910 United States Census records. Column headings for 1900 census included “mother of how many children”  and “number of these children living”.[1]  Column headings for 1910 included  “number of children born” and “number of children now living”.[2]  For both censuses, instructions for enumerators stated: “Stillborn children are not to be counted.” [3], [4]  Compare the numbers recorded on the census with listed names and ages of children.  You may find that more children were born to this woman. These are among your “missing” children. Search your records obtained from other family sources. Again, compare that information with the census records.

Maurer_Lillian_b1901

Lillian Maurer photograph ca 1901, label taped to picture when received; privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Photographs originally held by Esbon Herman Tucker, grandson of William F. and Bertha. Photographs given to Ms. Ellerbee by Mary Ann (Tucker) Rogers, daughter of Esbon Herman Tucker, April, 2018.

I present the case of children, including Lillian,  born to Anna Klee Maurer, my maternal grandmother’s mother.  From Aunt Viola’s family history:  [5]  Herman Maurer and his wife, Anna Klee “had 8 children (all born in Brooklyn, NY)”:

  1. Edward (Eddy)    1887? – 1892. “Edward died at about 5 years of age.”
  2. Arthur                   6/ 17/ 1888? – 7/ 1954
  3. Charlotte               5/ 26/ 1892 –   4/ 9/ 1974
  4. William                  6/ 30/ 1890? – 11/15/ 1957
  5. Harry                      1894 ? – ? infancy
  6. Herman                  1893 – 6/ 1957
  7. Lillian                     1901 – ? infancy
  8. Viola                        1906 –

Given the reported birth and death years, the 1900 census should list 6 children born and 4 children living for Anna;  the 1910 census should list 8 children born and 5 living. Can Viola’s information be confirmed? After all, these are her siblings!

I began with the 1892 New York State Census, conducted in February, 1892: [6]

  • Page 2, column 2, lines 38-40: Herman Maurer, age 32; Annie Maurer, age 27; [illegible] Maurer, age [illegible]
  • Page 3, column 1, lines 1-2: Arthur Maurer, age 4; William Maurer, age 2.

Charlotte (my maternal grandmother) was born in May 1892. Her birth certificate[7] shows her as the 5th child of Anna, suggesting another child born between 1883 (Herman & Anna’s marriage year) and 1892.

Continue with the family as recorded on the 1900 census:[8]

  • Maurer, Herman, head, b. Oct 1859, New Jersey, married 16 yrs.
  • Maurer, Anna, wife, b. July 1864, New York, mother of 7 children, 4 living
  • Maurer, Arthur, son, b. June 1887, New York
  • Maurer, Willie, son, b. June 1887, New York
  • Maurer, Lotta [Charlotte], daughter b. May 1892, New York
  • Maurer, Herman, son, b. Aug 1893, New York

Analysis:  Compared information to 1892 census and family records. The 1892 census records 3 children; the 1900 census adds 2 more children (Lotta and Herman).  The number of children still living (4) suggests that one of the children reported in 1892 (illegible name and age) died before 1900. Family records show 6 children born by 1900 with 2 of those having died.  The 1900 census data support my hypothesis that another child was born and died. So, there is still one more child to be found!

What is revealed in the 1910 census? [9] Barely legible, the record lists Anna as the mother of 8 children with 5 still living.  The living children are Arthur, age 22; William, age 19; Charlotte, age 17; Herman, age 16, and Viola, age 3.

1910 Census_Herman Maurer family_3

Putting the census data together suggests:

  • 3 children born between 1883 (marriage year) and February 1892.
  • 4 children born between February 1892 and June 1900 (7 children born).
  • 1 child born between June 1900 and April 1910 (8 children born).
  • 3 children died between 1883 and 1910 (5 children living by 1910).

Family records (family history + Charlotte’s birth certificate) indicate:

  • 4 children born between 1883 (marriage year) and February 1892
  • 3 children born between February 1892 and June 1900 (7 children born).
  • 2 children born between June 1900 and April 1910 (9 children born).
  • 3 children died between 1883 and 1910 (5 children living by 1910).

Records agree that 5 of Anna’s children survived in 1910. Records disagree about the number of children born to Anna- 8 or 9. Was the “missing child” stillborn and reported by Anna in 1900 but not reported in 1910? If the child was stillborn, Viola may not have known about him or her.

Birth and death indexes support information given by Viola about three of the ‘lost’ children:

  1. Edward Maurer. Birth: 22 January 1885, New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Births [10].  Death: 30 June 1892, New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Extracted Death Index.  [11]  Recorded by Viola as “1887? – 1892. Edward died at about 5 years of age.”  Analysis: Database entries consistent with family history; confirmed.
  2. Charles Harry Maurer. [12] Birth: August 1893 (based on age 4/12 at death). Death: 10 January 1894. Recorded by Viola as “Harry , 1894 ? – ? infancy.” Analysis: Database entry consistent with family history. Estimated birth date of August 1893 suggests that Charles Harry was twin of Herman Charles.
  3. Lillian Maurer. Birth: 7 January 1901, New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Births [13].  Death:  Before 1910; Lillian is not listed on the 1910 census. Databases support handwritten family history.  UPDATE  22 Oct 2018:  Received from another Maurer researcher, copy of birth certificate for Lilian Maurer, born 7 Jan 1901; source NY Birth Index. Parents listed as Henry Maurer and Catherine Schell. Back to the records! 

Having a child every 2 to 3 years was common in the early 20th century.  The semi-final list of Herman and Anna’s children appear to fit this pattern:

  1. Edward Maurer      (22 January 1885-30 June 1892)
  2. Arthur Maurer        (19 June 1887 – 2 April 1953)
  3. Unknown child        (possibly abt 1888 – before February 1892)
  4. William Charles Maurer      (30 June 1890 – 15 November 1957)
  5. Amalie Charlotte Maurer    (26 May 1892 – 9 April 1974)
  6. Herman Charles Maurer     (22 August 1893 – June 1957)
  7. Charles Harry Maurer         (August 1893 – 10 January 1894) (possible twin of Herman Charles; still to be confirmed)
  8. Lillian Maurer                        (7 Jan 1901 ?  – before 1910) See update above.
  9. Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer  (16 March 1907 – November 1985)

Given the six and seven year gaps, Anna may have been pregnant more than nine times. I am still looking for information about the unknown ‘lost’ child. Lillian’s case is not yet solved but I am getting closer!

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REFLECTION:

Aunt Viola’s handwritten history provided the names of Edward, Harry and Lillian.  Without those names and dates, I would have had a more difficult time discovering information about them. Census questions about births and living children did not include stillbirths. Gaps of 3-4 years (or more) between births suggest additional pregnancies which may have ended in stillbirths or miscarriages.  I have 2 children, both living, and experienced several miscarriages. So, if asked the census questions now, my record would show ‘Number of children born to this person =2;  number of living children= 2.”

Initially, I discounted the August 1893 birth dates implied and reported for Herman Charles Maurer and implied for Charles Harry Maurer. One of the dates had to be wrong! Alternate question:  Were ‘Herman Charles Maurer’ and ‘Charles Harry Maurer’ the same person? Answer: No. Hmm- a subject for another post!

My research is not complete.  I don’t have copies of  records that could give more clues. A genealogist’s work is never done!

What I learned:  Look for hidden treasures in census records. Question every bit of data. Keep looking! Even scant information from a family member provides clues. A research log and/or software program are valuable tools to record conflicting data and your analysis. Writing up  stories for my blog helps to identify gaps.

What helped:  Viola’s family history. Access to multiple databases online. Copy of Charlotte’s birth certificate. Conflicting information required additional research to prove or disprove the claim. I put my questions aside for a period of time.

What didn’t help: ignoring clues from the records. Not considering one obvious answer- twins!  I don’t have a copy of the birth record for Lillian Maurer, born 1901, per NYC Birth Record Index.

Next steps:   Continue looking for evidence of the missing child. Request copy of Aunt Viola’s birth certificate. Identify potential birth & death records for Lillian Maurer from NYC Records Database;  request copies of most likely records, beginning with copy of birth record for Lillian Maurer born 1901.  22 Oct 2018: received copy of birth certificate for Lilian Maurer, born 7 Jan 1901; source NY Birth Index. Parents listed as Henry Maurer and Catherine Schell. Back to the records! Order birth and death certificates for Edward and Harry Charles.  Add these to my ‘BMD certificates to order’ list.

SOURCES: 

[1] Department of the Interior, Census Office. Twelfth Census of the United States, June 1, 1900: Instructions for Enumerators (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900), 29, 30; accessed from U.S. Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1900instructions.pdf   : 6 June 2018).

[2] Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the United States, April 15, 1910: Instructions for Enumerators (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1910), 29; accessed from U.S. Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1900instructions.pdf   : 6 June 2018).

[3] Department of the Interior, Census Office, Twelfth Census of the United States: instructions for Enumerators,30.

[4] Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, Thirteenth Census of the United States: Instructions for Enumerators, 29.

[5] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” pages 1 & 2; 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.

[6] New York State Department of Health, “New York, State Census, 1892,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 31 January 2018), entry for Herman Maurer, age 32, page 2, column 2, lines 38-40; citing New York State Education Department, Office of Cultural Education, Albany, New York; Street Address: 173 Hopkins Street.

[7] New York, New York City Department of Records and Information Services, birth certificate 5947 (28 May 1892), Amalie Charlotte Maurer; Municipal Archives, 31 Chambers Stree, New York, N.Y. 10007.  Photocopy of original certificate held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma.

[8] 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 21, enumeration district (ED) 331, p. 3B (penned), dwelling 13, family 63, Herman Maurer head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 8 October 2010); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1058.

[9] 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.

[10] New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:61903/1:1:2WQN-B2J: 20 March 2015), Anna Klee Maurer entry for Eduwart Maurer, 22 Jan 1885; citing New York City Municipal Archives, New York.

[11] “New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948”, database,  Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 June 2018); entry for Edward Maurer, born 1885, died 1892, citing Index to New York City Deaths 1862-1948. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group, and used with permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives. Certificate no. 10178.

[12]  “New York, New York, Death Index, 1892-1898, 1900-1902,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com:   accessed 5 June 2018); entry for Chas. H. Maurer, death date 10 Jan 1894, age 4 M; citing New York City Deaths, 1892-1902; Deaths Reported in January-February-March, 1894 and Deaths reported in the city of New York, 1888-1965, New York Department of Health, Albany, New York; certificate no. 1429.

[13] “New York City Births, 1891-1902; Births reported in 1901. Borough of Brooklyn,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 21 April 2018), entry for Lillian Maurer; citing New York Department of Health. Births reported in the City of New York, 1891-1902. New York, New York, USA: Department of Health; certificate #7178.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, posted on WordPress.com, 2018.

Weddings past & present

May 19, 2018 –a memorable day for weddings.  Our son married his high school sweetheart here in Oklahoma.  Oh, yes, there was another wedding in London, England.

So, weddings are the topic of this blog post. Specifically, I share information about the marriage of my maternal great-grandparents, William Frederick Tucker and Bertha Traver. William is the son of Jeremiah Tucker and Margaret Irwin. Bertha is the daughter of Esbon Traver and Nancy Jones.  Both the bride and groom lived in Greene county, New York.  Among other items from my mother, I inherited a folded up gift box.

Tucker-Traver_marriage certificate_box

Marriage certificate for William F. Tucker and Bertha Traver, 11 September 1887, privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Certificate, in pieces, in folded-up gift box. Given to Ms. Ellerbee by her mother, Eunice Bertha Tucker Posten, granddaughter of William F. Tucker & Bertha Traver.

box label

 

The handwritten label on the box reads:

 

The box contains large and small fragments of paper.  My graphic artist husband scanned the pieces and created a digital copy of the certificate.

TuckerTraver Marriage Certificate

Digital copy of marriage certificate for William F. Tucker and Bertha Traver, 1887. Created by Jerry L. Ellerbee, 2010. Certificate, in pieces, in folded-up gift box, given to Ms. Ellerbee by her mother, Eunice Bertha Tucker Posten, granddaughter of William F. Tucker & Bertha Traver.

Although incomplete, the certificate confirms information about William and Bertha’s wedding, including date and place. “William F. Tucker of Freehold, Greene  County and Miss Bertha Traver of Norton HIll, Greene County, were united in holy matrimony according to the ordinances of God and the State of New York at ______________________ on the [11th] day of September in the year of  Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and eighty seven.”

Last month, I received a box of old pictures and other family memorabilia from a cousin.  I was ecstatic to find pictures of William and Bertha which may have been taken about the time of their wedding!

William F Tucker_Bertha Traver_crop

William F. and Bertha  (Traver) Tucker photographs ca 1887, names written on back of photographs; privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Photographs originally held by Esbon Herman Tucker, grandson of William F. and Bertha. Photographs given to Ms. Ellerbee by Mary Ann (Tucker) Rogers, daughter of Esbon Herman Tucker, April, 2018.

Piece by piece, my maternal great-grandparents’ story emerges.

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Reflection:  

For privacy reasons, I choose to not provide pictures and other information about our son’s wedding. We are pleased to add my son’s bride to our family. Other marriages will be the subject of later blog posts. A marriage represents a significant transition in the lives of individuals and families. Records and information are available but may only come to you in pieces.

Two sides to every document

FACT: There are two sides to every document. An obvious statement, you say. I agree. So, why am I writing about this? Because I was surprised recently when I turned over a document and read what was written on the back of the page. Here’s the story.

In my last blog post, I mentioned a box of family pictures and documents sent to me by a cousin.[1] Among the documents is a yellowed, fragile piece of paper with a list of names and dates. An uneven edge and incomplete dates suggest that the paper was torn. The paper measures 10 inches long x 4 inches wide.  A scanned copy, received via email about two months ago, did not reveal the color or condition of the page. First guess? From a family Bible, although the page did not include the usual headings of “Births” and “Deaths”.

Jones_Jimmey_Patience_children_crop_for blog

Jimmey Jones and Patience, list of names & dates.  Privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. 

The list appears to be a list of children born to Jimmey Jones and Patience Heamons/ Havens (or variation). These characteristics identify the document as a primary or original source. The origin of the information is unknown although possibly based on firsthand knowledge of the events. [2]  (For a review of  primary, secondary, and tertiary sources, read  “Evaluating sources & information”.

The person of interest is “Nancy born September the 22: 1823” (line 9). Nancy A. Jones, wife of Esbon Traver, is one of my maternal great- great grandmothers. Nancy’s maiden name is carved on their gravestone. [3] I admit that I presumed the information to be true and haven’t actively done the research to confirm Nancy’s maiden name.

This list of names introduced me for the first time to Nancy’s parents, Jimmey (James) Jones and Patience Heamons/ Havens. Confirming names and dates on the list is the subject of a future post. Today, I focus on the document itself.

I turned the page over, expecting to find it blank. Imagine my surprise, and delight, when I discovered additional information there. A printed form with hand written entries, a date, and tape marks. Get out the white gloves!

Reverse side of Jimmey Jones and Patience list:

Esbon_Traver_reverse side Jimmey Jones_Patience children.jpg

The list of names and dates wasn’t a page torn from a family Bible! It was written on the back of a form. Tape marks suggest that someone thought one side was more important than the other.  As a genealogist, both sides of the page are equally important. Where is the rest of the page? What information is on that paper?

Who is George Barker, named as substitute for 37 year-old Esbon Traver? Many men “avoided military service by simply taking advantage of that section of the Enrollment Act of 1863 allowing draftees to pay $300 to a substitute who served for them.” [4]  I am still looking for his service record and will report in a later post.

Compare the handwriting on both sides of the documents. I’m not a handwriting expert but the handwriting appears to be that of two different people. Ink appears consistent with time period of 1860s. I need a hero- an historical document expert!

Review of historical documents is one aspect of genealogy. Asking questions – who, what, when, where, why- reveal information about the document and its provenance.  The National Archives suggests these steps to analyze such documents: [5]

  1. Meet the document.
  2. Observe its parts.
  3. Try to make sense of it.
  4. Use it as historical evidence.

As you meet a document, inspect it carefully. Dates and signatures give clues about the document’s authenticity.[6] Is there a seal on the document?  Look for signs of tampering. Read the words carefully. Is there a hidden meaning? Consult books on historical and/or genealogical research for more information about document analysis.

Questions and preliminary answers:

  1. Who wrote the document? List of names could have been written by Esbon Traver, his wife, Nancy Jones, or one of their children. A different person probably wrote the entry on the other side.
  2. What information is contained in the document? One side: A list of names and dates beginning with Jimmey Jones and Patience Heamons/ Havens and their presumed children. Other side: Entry for a substitute for Esbon Traver, dated 1864.
  3. When was the document written? List of names: After 1866, since that is last date on the document. Substitute form:  Probably 1864.
  4. Where was the document written? Unknown, possibly Ulster or Greene county, New York.  Sources: census records for Esbon Traver and his wife, Nancy.
  5. Why was the document written? List of names: to preserve family history? Consider possibility that back of substitute document was an available piece of paper and, therefore, used for the purpose of recording family names and dates.
  6. How was the document produced? Printed form on one side.  Handwritten entries on the form. Handwritten name and date list on the other side of the form.

Next steps:  Consult with historical document expert and/or handwriting expert. Continue search for records about Jimmey, Patience, and their children. Identify Civil War service record for George Barker.

Online resources:  I found this Document Analysis Worksheet  on the National Archives Website.

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REFLECTION: 

I was really surprised to find the ‘substitute’ form and entries on the back side of the name list. I don’t know why I expected a blank page. Now, I have more information about Esbon Traver.  I plan to follow up on the substitute information. I remembered bits and pieces about evaluating historical documents from various research courses. The date on the form helps to date the paper itself and gives another clue about the date of the entries on both sides of the paper.  I don’t have the exact provenance of the paper – who gave it to my uncle? Since he and my maternal grandfather are both named Esbon, presumably after Esbon Traver, I wonder if the paper was given to my grandfather by one of his parents and then to my uncle. I need to buy a basic ‘genealogy how-to’ book for reference purposes. Maybe one about historical research methods?

What I learned:  Always look at both sides of a document! Expanded my knowledge base about the dating of documents.  Found a worksheet for document analysis.

What helped:  seeing and handling the original document. Having an archival quality plastic sleeve for the document.

What didn’t help:  knowing the document was old but no idea how old (paper from 1864). I would have gotten my white gloves out sooner!

Future plans: Consult historical document expert.

SOURCES:

[1] Family papers and photographs from estate of Esbon Herman Tucker (1917 – 2003). Privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. Items sent to Ms. Ellerbee by Mr. Tucker’s daughter, April 2018.  Mr. Tucker is brother of Ms. Ellerbee’s mother.

[2] Elizabeth Shown Mills. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015), 24-25.

[3] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : viewed 27 April 2018), memorial page for Nancy H. Jones Traver, Find A Grave Memorial # 92468922, citing Locust Cemetery (Greenville, Greene county, New York), memorial created by Lorna Puleo, photograph by Lorna Puleo.

[4] Michael T. Meier. “Civil War Draft Records: Exemptions and Enrollments”.  Prologue, Winter 1994, Vol. 26, No. 4, Genealogy Notes.  (https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1994/winter/civil-war-draft-records.html  :  accessed 8 May 2018), paragraph 4.

[5]National Archives, “Teaching with Documents: Document Analysis,”  National Archives (https://www.archives.gov/education/lessonsaccessed 8 May 2018).  Includes worksheets and other materials related to the analysis of documents and other primary sources.

[6] History Detectives, “Document This,” PBS, History Detectives (http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/educators/technique-guide/document-this/  :  accessed 8 May 2018).

 

In the genealogy bog: DNA ethnicity estimates

The topic for this week is . . . .  I feel like I’m in a bog, moving ever so slowly and sometimes getting lost in the mists.  Record clean-up associated with my mother’s family tree continues.  Half- written posts just don’t seem appropriate and/or I don’t want to finish them right now. Taxes and immigration issues are in the news. Personal genealogical challenges include conflicting records for my maternal great-great grandparents and a continuing disagreement with a paternal cousin about family tradition versus research that contradicts the tradition. To address my genealogy stalemate, I started back at the beginning with my mother’s siblings, carefully reviewing records and updating information about her siblings and their spouses. Status of the continuing disagreement?  I stated my case, again, with sources, and am not ready to renew that fight.

 

Last week, I received a box of old (late 1800s/ early 1900s) pictures and documents from a cousin on mom’s side.  Scanning and cataloguing will take several weeks.  I re-read a Facebook genealogy page discussion about copyright and citation issues regarding display of old photographs on blogs and in other publications. I am still confused and will defer posting any of those items. I continue to flesh out the stories of the ancestors in the pictures.

April 25 is National DNA Day, so discussing my own DNA results became the topic for this week. Two weeks ago, I received my DNA results from the same company used by my brother. This is my 2nd set of DNA results. Good news is that we are definitely related genetically!!  Here’s the breakdown :Based on these data, we can reasonably conclude that both parents have ancestors from the British Isles. We suspected this from our genealogical research but haven’t identified those ancestors. What accounts for the differences? Both of us inherited half of our DNA from each parent and about 25% from each of our grandparents.  We inherited different parts of our ancestral genome form each parent. To summarize results:

DNA comparison table_ver2

French & German:  Our maternal grandmother’s grandparents, Valentin Maurer and Anna Katharina Korzelius (? spelling) immigrated to the United States in early 1850s.  Our paternal grandmother’s grandfather (Anthony Desire Lecoq) immigrated from France in 1790s. Anthony married Magdelenne Emilie Dupuy, who was born in Santo Domingo to French parents. My results for those areas (22% to 37%)  were no surprise. Why did my brother’s results show zero?

Southeast European: (4 to 14% for me and 4% for my brother). Possibly from female ancestors? Our research hasn’t revealed anyone from those areas but maybe we haven’t gone back far enough.

Scandinavian (10% for my brother, 0 to 2.5% for me). DNA testing company 2 reports 30.5% of my ancestry as ‘broadly Northwestern European” which includes countries that border on the North and Baltic Seas. Some of these countries could overlap with ones reported as ‘Scandinavian’ by DNA testing company 1.

Iberian (8% for my brother and 0 to 0.4% for me). Could this DNA be from Dad’s family?

I finally started reading “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy” by Blaine T. Bettinger. She discusses the concept of two different, but overlapping family trees[1]: “one that’s genealogical (reflecting familial relationships) and one that’s genetic (reflecting genetic makeup and patterns of inheritance).” The genealogical family tree includes all direct line ancestors, established through genealogic research. The genetic family tree contains “only those ancestors who contributed to your DNA.” The genetic tree is smaller because not all pieces of DNA are passed on in each generation.  Over time, some pieces of DNA totally disappear from your genetic makeup. We can share a common ancestor with another person- a genealogical cousin – and not be a genetic match.

My brother and I share about half of our DNA which may explain differences. He tested almost a year ago and I tested about 2 months ago. If we both tested at about the same time, would our results be more similar? My brother plans to test with Company #2.  As usual with genealogical research, more questions than answers!  Good news — some of our DNA matches (i.e. genetic cousins) are already identified as genealogical cousins. DNA matching led to meeting other cousins who were easily identified on our genealogical family tree (reported in an earlier post:   “It all started with DNA”).  The genealogical connection is still pending with several new DNA matches.

I found a path out of the bog. For now, I am skirting the bog and leaving my boots on!

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Reflection:

See 1st paragraph. I am not overly concerned about the reported ancestral differences in our DNA results. We collaborate on some genealogical research and work independently on other lines. Both of us worked independently for years and came to similar conclusions about one line. I have so much to learn about DNA used for ancestry purposes.

What I learned:  differences between a genealogical family tree and a genetic family tree.

What helped:  being able to compare our results using the same company.

What didn’t help:  lack of knowledge about genetic genealogy.

Future plans:  Finish reading Genetic Genealogy book. Continue genealogy clean-up for mom’s family. Write short biographies of people in the recently found pictures. Brother to test with Company #2. Continue to search for common ancestor of people who are DNA match. Ordered DNA test for husband; his parents are already tested and we have results.

[1] Blaine T. Bettinger, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy (Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tree Books, 2016), “Two family trees: One Genealogical and One Genetic”; Kindle edition, download from Amazon.com.

 

Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker (1907 -1985)

On this “Thankful Thursday” ,  I express my gratitude to Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, my maternal great-aunt, for writing down names and information about the Maurer and Tucker ancestors[1].  I have a carbon copy of the original.

Maurer Tucker History_ca1980_for blog_April 2018

Page 1 of “Maurer-Tucker Family History” written by Blanche Viola Maurer Tucker, ca 1980.  Carbon copy privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee. 

Do you remember carbon paper?  carbon paper imageBefore copy machines, there was carbon paper.  First, insert a piece of carbon paper between two pieces of paper.  Write or type on the top page.  An exact copy, more or less, of the top page appears on the subsequent pages. Generally, you can produce three or four clear copies this way. Each piece of carbon paper lasts for 4-5 copies.  Messy, but effective!

For more information about the history of copying, read this story:   ‘Photocopier’ 

Back to my story. Viola was my mother’s aunt, my maternal grandmother’s sister.  Called ‘Olie’ by us, she had always lived with my grandparents (at least, as far back as I can remember!).  I didn’t really think much about those living arrangements when I was a child or even as I became an adult.  I knew that both of Olie’s parents died when she was young and that’s why she lived with her sister.   As I carefully reviewed documents for Genealogy Do-Over  and recorded information on research logs,  Olie’s situation really hit me.

Blanche Viola Maurer was born on March 16, 1907, the youngest  of nine children born to  George Herman Maurer and Anna Klee.  Her brother, Herman Charles, born in 1893, was her closest living sibling.  Between 1893 and 1907, Herman and Anna buried two children – Charles Harry and Lillian.  Charles Harry, born in 1893 and died in 1894, was probably twin brother of Herman Charles.  Lillian, born January 7, 1901, [2]  ‘died in infancy’ according to Viola’s handwritten family history. [3]

Anna was 43 years old when Viola was born.  It is possible that Anna was beginning to go through menopause at the time.  When Viola was 11 years old, Anna died [4]  leaving Viola and her 60-year-old father alone.

Charlotte  (aka “Lottie”),  Viola’s only living sister, married Esbon J. Tucker in June 1917 [5].  Lottie and Esbon did not establish  their own home immediately.  In January, 1920[6], the census taker found Herman Maurer,  widower and head of household with 13-year-old  Viola, as well as Charlotte (Lottie), Esbon, and their two children, Esbon, age 2, and Eunice (my mother).

Herman , Viola’s father, died in May  1927[7] , leaving 20-year-old Viola an orphan.  She continued to live with Lottie and Esbon. [8] Viola had no children of her own but was like a second mother or a big sister to Lottie’s children.  Viola was an accomplished needlewoman.  She taught her niece, Eunice,  to knit and crochet.  Eunice, my mother, then taught me.  I still enjoy these crafts.

As mentioned in the introduction, I did not appreciate her situation until now.  Olie was a constant person in my grandparents’ home, as she had been when my mother was growing up.   I cannot imagine losing my mother at age 11 and my father by the time I was 20!  What was it like to constantly rely on a sibling for a home?  How did she respond emotionally to these events?

Consider the time period.  Women rarely worked outside of the home in the 1920s and 1930s.  Was Olie a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ during World War II, when so many women took on the jobs of men to support the war effort?  Mom never said anything about that and I never thought to ask.   According to the 1940 census, Viola worked as a salesclerk in a bakery. [9]  That explains all of the wonderful cakes at their house!

By 1970, Lottie suffered  several strokes and dementia.  Pop and Olie cared for her at home for as long as they could.  My mother said that she only found out about the problems when Pop decided to put Lottie into a nursing home, about 6 months before her death. This very difficult experience probably deepened the bond between Pop and Olie. After Lottie died in 1974,[10] Olie married my grandfather. Two old people, living together for decades, now joined in marriage.

Esbon Tucker_Viola Maurer_1975

How did Viola  feel about all of her losses?  I remember her as being cheerful and kind.   At first, she probably was overwhelmed then accepted her situation.  I do not know how I would have reacted .  Did the experience make her stronger?

Viola wrote the nine-page family history in the late 1970s or early 1980s. She mentions Lottie’s death (1974) and her own marriage to Esbon but not Esbon’s death in 1984.[11]  Using available resources, I have confirmed much of the information that she gave.  One surprising fact is that she reported her full name as Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer when she applied for a Social Security number.  [12]  This is my first encounter with that name!  I learned earlier that Germans traditionally used a middle name in everyday life rather than the person’s given first name.

Again, I express my gratitude to you, Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer Tucker, my third grandmother. Thank you for teaching my mother to knit and crochet, so she could teach me. Thank you for being part of my childhood.  Thank you for taking time to write down our family stories. Questions still to be answered:

  1. Is there another ancestor named Blanche in the family history?
  2. Is Viola’s middle name of Lucy on any other documents?

 

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Reflection:

I started writing this post about 2 months ago but wasn’t sure exactly what direction I would take.  As I searched for inspiration, I looked again at daily blog prompts  suggested by Thomas  MacAntee.  The idea of “Thankful Thursday” caught my eye. I am grateful to Viola for many things. We visited my New York grandparents only once a year but I vividly remember some things – a red and white enamel kitchen table with pull-out leaves (now a collector’s item!), two black and white cocker spaniels,  German stollen (a sweet yeast bread),  a sleeper chair (like a sleeper sofa but twin size), a musty basement.  As I delve more into the family history, I see German connections in each generation.  The written legacy of names and dates proves invaluable, even though, on the surface, the contents appear skeletal.  I build from the bare bones outward. Without Viola’s document, progress would be much slower.

What I learned:  carbon paper is hard to find in 21st century America. I developed a new appreciation for the difficulties that Viola must have faced from her early teens.  Or, am I projecting my own values on her?

What helped:  Amount of research already done on the Tucker-Maurer family.  Transcription of Viola’s history done in 2010. Copies of birth and death certificates from New York.

What didn’t help:  Nothing that I can think of.  Not ordering Viola’s birth and death certificates before writing blog.

Future:   Consider other daily topics for future blog posts. Order Viola’s birth and death certificates. Order death certificate for Anna Klee Maurer, Viola and Charlotte’s mother.

Sources: 

[1]  Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer- Tucker Family History.” (Handwritten notes. Huntington, New York, ca. 1975-1980);  carbon copy  privately held by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2010. Copy given to Ms. Ellerbee by her mother who received copy from Viola ca 1980.  Transcribed by Ms. Ellerbee in 2012. Ms. Ellerbee is great-niece of Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker.

[2] “New York, New York, Extracted Birth Index, 1878 – 1909”,  online database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :  :   accessed 10 April 2018); entry for Lillian Maurer, born 1 Jan 1901, Kings, New York; citing  “Index to New York City births, 1878-1909”, New York City Department of Records/ Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[3] Maurer., “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” Section – Charlotte Amalie (Anna) Maurer, page 1.

[4] Cyber Angel, “Anna b Bklyn d Huntington NY 1918 hus Herman,” Surnames: Maurer Family Genealogy Forum, discussion list, 8 February 2002;  (http://genforum.genealogy.com   : accessed & printed 9 June 2007), transcription of obituary posted in Brooklyn Standard Union, 28 July 1918.

[5] Suffolk county, New York, Affidavit for License to Marry (3 pages), 14570 (stamped); 783 (penned), Esbon J. Tucker Charlotte A. Maurer, 1 June 1917; New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Genealogy Unit, Albany, New York.

[6] 1920 U.S. Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 113, p. 7A (penned), dwelling 136, family 139, Viola Maurer, daughter, age 13; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : viewed, downloaded, printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T625, Roll 1269.

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

[8]1930 U.S. Federal Census, Suffolk County, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 63, p. 2A (penned), p. 132 (stamped), dwelling 35, family 46, Viola Maurer, sister-in-law, age 23; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, downloaded & printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T626, Roll 1651.

[9] 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 52-97, p. 12 B (penned), household no. 463, Esbon Tucker (head); Viola Maurer, sister-in-law, age 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T627, Roll 2785.

[10] Charlotte Tucker, death certificate # 031537 (9 April 1974), New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Albany, New York.

[11] Esbon J. Tucker, death certificate no. 100055063 (barely legible) (18 July 1984), New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Albany, New York.

[12] Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer, SS no. 077-09-2343, 30 Nov 1936, Application for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.

 

Immigration and citizenship on the U.S. Census

The year:  2092. Genealogists in the United States eagerly anticipate release of the 2020 census data.  It’s been 50 years since citizenship status for all U.S. residents  was available. DNA charts in hand, genealogists peruse the census, looking for names of ancestors who immigrated to the United States. Information provided by those ancestors will confirm genetic ancestry results.  Hopefully, the ancestor reported a more specific locale than “northern Europe”.

Scenario #1:  In 2020, not all households in the U.S. received a census survey with citizenship and immigration questions. A few lucky genealogists discover that their ancestors were among the one in six households who received and filled out the ‘long form’.  Although the census did not ask about legal status, opponents of adding a question about citizenship had successfully argued their points.

Scenario #2:  In 2020, all households in the U.S. received a census survey with a question about citizenship.  A sample of households received a longer survey that included questions about nativity (place of birth) of each person and their parents.  The census did not ask about legal status. Response rates dropped slightly from previous years.

How would your genealogy research be affected if your ancestors had not been asked about immigration and citizenship status on the U.S. Census? Many of us learn about our ancestral roots from the answers to those questions. I wonder what my ancestors thought about the census questions related to their place of birth and citizenship status: “Where were you born? “  “Where was your father born?”  “Where was your mother born?”  “Are you a citizen of the U.S.?”  Did they answer truthfully? One of this week’s news items is a proposed addition to the 2020 United States census about citizenship.  The heated debate led me to search for the facts.

detectiveQuestions:

  1. When did a citizenship question first appear on the U.S. census?
  2. How has the citizenship question changed?
  3. What is the exact wording of the proposed question?
  4. For a non-citizen immigrant, is a question proposed that will ask about their legal status in the United States?
  5. How is the proposed 2020 change different from earlier censuses?

Questions about citizenship, naturalization, and immigration have appeared on the U.S. Census for decades.  The information, in some form, has been requested since 1850.  Look at blank census forms again.[1]  Column headings range from “place of birth of this person” (1880) to “naturalization status or citizen of what country” (1900 to 1940).

Tables 1 and 2 summarize the information related to nativity (birth) and citizenship from 1850 through 2000.

Table 1.  Information requested on U.S. Census by year, 1850 – 1940                             (Source: National Archives & Records Administration, Charts & Forms)

 

Table 1 Census question

a1930:  If of foreign birth, give country in which birthplace is now situated. Distinguish Canada-French form Canada-English and Irish Free State from Northern Ireland.
b1940:  If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on Jan. 1, 1937. Distinguish: Canada-French from Canada-English and Irish Free State from Northern Ireland.

Table 2.  Information requested on U.S. Census by year, 1950– 2000                            (Source: U.S. Census, Through the Decades, Index of Questions)

Table 2 census question

a 1970:  If foreign born, is person’s origin or descent:  Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, Other Spanish, None of these.
b Beginning in 1980, only a sample of the population was asked to answer these questions, among other questions.  
c 1980 & 2000: If person speaks language other than English at home, how well does person speak English?

Beginning in 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau sampled the population through the American Community Survey. [2]  Citizenship questions from 2010[3] to 2018[4] were:

2020 citizenship question

Citizenship question on American Community Survey, 2010 to 2018.

Reports of the exact question format for 2020 vary from “Are you a citizen of the U.S?” to “Are you a legal citizen of the U.S.?”  Wording of the question will be “what is already used in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which asks respondents to check one of five categories to describe their citizenship status.” [5]   Since 1970, all households received a short form questionnaire and only a sample of households, about 1 in 6, received a longer form. [6]  The questions about citizenship were only on the longer form.

Addendum:  18 April 2018

As I reviewed census records for immigrant ancestors, I saw abbreviations related to the citizenship status of foreign-born persons.  From the 1930 “Instructions to Enumerators”:

  • Na = “naturalized”
  • Pa = “papers”; person has taken out papers to begin the naturalization process.
  • Al = “alien”; person is not naturalized and has not taken out “first papers”. 

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census. Instructions to Enumerators, Population and Agriculture. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C. : 1930), p. 31, items 180 – 184.  (https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1930instruction.pdf      : accessed 17 April 2018).

To summarize, here are the questions posed at the beginning of this post, with  answers:

  1. After 1850, when did a specific citizenship question first appear on the U.S. census? ANSWER: 1900.
  2. How has the citizenship question changed? ANSWER: 1900 -1930; 1970-2000:  when did person come to the U.S.? Naturalization status asked from 1900 -1930 and 1950-1980.  1940: Citizenship of the foreign born.  1990 – 2000: Is person a U.S. Citizen?   American Community Survey, begun in 2010, surveys a sample of the population annually.  Questions include:  Where was person born? Is person a citizen of the United States? If citizen by naturalization, year of naturalization.  When did person come to live in the United States? 
  3. What is the exact wording of the proposed question? ANSWER:  Is this person a citizen of the United States?
  4. For a non-citizen immigrant, is a question proposed that will ask about their legal status in the United States? ANSWER: No. (Disclaimer: If you find such a question, contact me and I will change this answer. Please include your source and the actual wording of the question.  Thanks.)
  5. How is the proposed 2020 change different from earlier censuses? ANSWER: The question about citizenship will be on the short form, which is sent to every household.

FINAL COMMENT:   Information about an individual’s citizenship has not been available for every person in the U.S. since 1970.  Beginning in 2020, will this change? What will genealogists in the future think about these changes?  Will either of the presented scenarios ( or another scenario) occur?  

If you are interested in the debate, here is a sample of articles, both pro and con:  (alphabetically by author’s last name):

Steve Camarota, March 28, 2018.  “Would a Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census Reduce Response Rates?”  Part 2.  Center for Immigration Studies.  28 March 2018 ( https://cis.org/Camarota/Would-Citizenship-Question-2020-Census-Reduce-Response-Rates-Part-2 :   accessed 31 March 2018)

Caroline McAtee Cerbin, “Citizenship question to be put back on 2020 Census for first time in 70 years,” USA Today, On Politics E-Newsletter, 26 March 2018 (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/03/26/citizenship-question-put-back-2020-census/461044002/ :   accessed 30 March 2018).

Arloc Sherman, “Citizenship question jeopardizes census accuracy, undermines funding process”, The Census Project, 29 March 2018 (https://thecensusproject.org/blog : accessed 31 March 2018).

Brian Tashman, Trump Is Undermining the 2020 Census. Marginalized Communities Will Bear the Brunt,”  https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/trump-undermining-2020-census-marginalized-communities-will-bear-brunt    Accessed 31 March 2018  Posted 5 Jan 2018

Hansi Lo Wang & Andrea De Leon, “The 2020 Census Questions Every U.S. Household will be Asked, Annotated,” National Public Radio, 29 March 2018 (https://www.npr.org/2018/03/29/598018163/census-bureau-releases-2020-census-questions-including-1-on-citizenship  : accessed 31 March 2018).

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REFLECTION

After multiple drafts and a lot of self-debate, I decided to go ahead and post this. I am spoiled by the amount of information available on census records. I am aware of controversies regarding the census, such as the reporting of one’s race.  Opinions vary widely about the issue of the proposed 2020 census question.  I have tried to present those varied opinions.  Some, not all, households were asked the question since 1970 and some of those refused to answer.  Perhaps I am being too simplistic and only seeing through the lens of genealogy.  Given current concerns about identity theft,  will information about individuals from the 1950 and later censuses still be made public 72 years after the census?  The American Community Survey reports aggregate data now. Will a genealogist in 2082 be able to see individual data gathered in 2010? This post may generate some negative comments.

What I learned:  A citizenship question has not been routinely asked since 1970.  Some opponents of the proposed question believe that a question about citizenship also makes an inference about an immigrant’s legal status. Some proponents of the proposed question downplay the legal status issue.  Whether the question will actually impact response rates in 2020 or not is still a matter of opinion. I learned about the American Community Survey.

What helped:  access to many online sources. Having copies of the NARA census forms in print and online versions.  Creating multiple versions of this post.

What didn’t help:  Multitude of negative opinions and fewer positive opinions about the proposed change. My own uncertainty about posting this.

For future:  No suggestions at this time.  Maybe a post about one of my immigrant ancestors and how the census information guided me to discover more?

[1] National Archives & Records Administration. Research our Records. Resources for Genealogists. Charts and Forms.   https://www.archives.gov/research/genealogy/charts-forms  :   accessed 31 March 2018.  Available forms include genealogy charts; federal census forms; nonpopulation census forms, 1880 census supplemental forms: defective, dependent, and delinquent classes; immigration forms;  military forms.

[2] U.S. Bureau of the Census. “American Community Survey”.  (https://www.census.gov/history/www/programs/demographic/american_community_survey.html : accessed 31 March 2018).

[3] U.S. Bureau of the Census. “American Community Survey, Questionnaire, 2010,” (https://www.2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/questionnaires/2010/quest10.pdf  : accessed 31 March 2018.

[4]   U.S. Bureau of the Census. “American Community Survey, Questionnaire, 2018,”  https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/questionnaires/2018/quest18.pdf   :  accessed 31 March 2018)

[5] D’Vera Cohn. “What to know about the citizenship question the Census Bureau is planning to ask in 2020,”  Pew Research Center, 30 March 2018 (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/30/what-to-know-about-the-citizenship-question-the-census-bureau-is-planning-to-ask-in-2020/  : accessed 2 April 2018, paragraph 4.

[6] Tamara Keith, “FACT CHECK: Has citizenship been a standard census question?” National Public Radio, 27 March 2018 (https://www.npr.org/2018/03/27/597436512/fact-check-has-citizenship-been-a-standard-census-question  : accessed 3 April 2018).

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

Sarah’s Story –Sarah Ellen Richards Williams (1862- 1921)

In honor of Women’s History Month, I write about women in our family tree. This story is about Sarah Ellen Richards, firstborn child of Ostrander Richards and Amelia Magdelenne LaCoe, my paternal great-grandparents. My paternal grandmother, Jennie A. Richards, was the youngest child of Ostrander and Amelia (see my blog post – Mother’s Day 2017 for more information about Jennie).  Recently, one of Sarah Ellen’s descendants contacted me because of a DNA match. This contact prompted me to write Sarah’s story.

Sarah Ellen Richards, born 13 December 1862 in Newton, Pennsylvania, never met her father’s parents. Nathaniel Richards died in 1852. His 2nd wife, Sarah Ostrander, died in March 1836, shortly after Ostrander’s birth. Ostrander’s stepmother, Sarah Michaels, outlived her husband by almost 40 years. Sarah, called ‘Ella’ during her childhood, did know her mother’s parents – William Anthony LaCoe (1820-1910) and Sybil Rone Ash (1825-1901).

5generations w source and caption

By the time Sarah was five years old, her family moved to Lenawee County, Michigan, where her sister, Mary Amelia, was born in September 1867. [1] Sarah became big sister to three more siblings in Michigan: William Ostrander, born July 1870; Addie LaCoe, born November 1873; and Ora Nathaniel, born August 1876. The family moved back to Pennsylvania, specifically Newton in Lackawanna County, in spring of 1877.  [2] Two more siblings were born in Ransom – Leslie Frank, born in August 1881, and Jennie A., born January 1884.  The 1880 census taker found Ella Richards working as a servant for a family in Newton, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania, and still living close to her parents. [3]

Sarah experienced the deaths of one sister and two of her brothers. Mary Amelia Richards, age 11, died October, 1878. William Ostrander Richards died in January, 1883 at age 13. Ora Nathaniel Richards died in August 1893 at 17 years of age. Ostrander and Amelia are buried next to Ora.  [4]  These deaths occurred when Sarah was a teenager and young adult. How did they affect her? My guess is that Sarah and her remaining three siblings grew closer together as their immediate family size shrank.

sticky note Luzerne countyOn to a happier note- the marriage of Sarah Ellen Richards and Charles Curtis Williams  on 28 July 1882. [5]  Charles, also born in December, 1862, was the son of Britain ‘Bart’ Williams and his 2nd wife, Catherine McMillan. Charles lived in or near Ransom, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania throughout his life.

TRIVIA TIME Charles’ half-sister, Arminda/ Araminta L. Williams, married John Francis LaCoe, 8th child of William Anthony LaCoe and Sybil Rone Ash, who are also Sarah Ellen Richards’ grandparents. So, the blood relationship between Charles’ children and Arminda’s children is twofold:  first cousins on the Williams  side and first cousins, once removed on the LaCoe side.   

Sarah and Charles became parents of six children[6]:

  1. Pearl Edna, born 25 December 1884. (Pearl holds her daughter, Leah, and stands next to her mother, Ellen, in the FIVE GENERATION picture above).
  2. Willie H, born 12 July 1888. Died 29 July 1889.
  3. Isabelle Mae (or Myrtle) , born 22 November 1890. (Isabelle is my DNA match’s paternal grandmother).
  4. Walter Harry, born 9 December 1893.
  5. Myrtle Ellen, born 17 February 1896.
  6. James W., born 28 Jan 1898.

Lackawanna Luzerne counties 1894 from Library of Congress

Map of Luzerne & Lackawanna Counties, ca 1894.

Source:  G. Wm. Baist, Atlas of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys and map of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, Penna. : from actual surveys, official records & private plans (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1894); digital images, Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/item/2006627639/  : accessed 11 March  2018).

The family continued to live in West Abington, Lackawanna County, during the early decades of the twentieth century. [7] [8] [9].  Marriages occurred and grandchildren were born:

June 1904:  Pearl Edna Williams married Lewis Allen Clark, also from Lackawanna County.  Lewis and Pearl had 4 children.

March 1914:  Isabelle M. Williams married Harry Franklin VanDeMark, also from Lackawanna County.  Isabelle and Harry had 10 children.

September 1917:  Walter Harry Williams married Kathryn Francis Alexander, also from Lackawanna County.  Walter and Kathryn had 2 children.

May 1919:  James M. Williams married Agnes Streeter, born in New York.  James and Agnes lived in Detroit, Michigan in 1920[10] and moved back to Lackawanna County by 1930. [11] James and Agnes had one child.  James’ occupation as ‘repairman, motor co’ (as reported on 1920 census) probably explains the move to Detroit.

April 1927:  Myrtle Ellen married George Elmer Jacoby, also from Lackawanna County.  Myrtle and George had one child.  After George’s death in 1929, Myrtle married Maurice Jolly Black, a widower. [12] Myrtle and Maurice had one child.

Charles supported his family by farming, an honorable occupation. Weather often determined the success or failure of crops and, subsequently, the family’s welfare.   One event, the Great Blizzard of 1888, probably affected them.  The blizzard dumped several feet of snow on the northeast coast from March 11 to March 14, 1888.  Entire pages of local newspapers reported the effects on everything.  Read the Wilkes-Barre newspaper of March 18:

Sarah attended the weddings of four children. She witnessed the births of 10 of her 18 grandchildren.

How did World War I affect the family?  One son (Walter Harry) and two sons-in-law (Lewis Allen Clark and Harry F. VanDeMark) registered for the draft in 1917.  Service records for these men prove more elusive. I haven’t found records to confirm whether they actually served or not. Perhaps one of their descendants has that information.

Then, tragedy struck the family. Sarah Ellen Richards Williams died on 17 December 1921 at the age of 59.  Cause of death?  Lobar pneumonia.  [13]

pneumonic lung ca 1920

Pamphlet published 1920 by Denver Chemical Mfg Co, New York City. Image found on Pinterest.

Did you know that antibiotic treatment for pneumonia did not begin until the 1930s? For more information, read this article:
The Changing Fate of Pneumonia as a Public Health Concern in 20th Century America and Beyond. American Journal of Public Health, vol. 95, issue 12, December 2005, 2144-2154.  Available online:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1449499/

By 1930, widower Charles Curtis had married  Bertha J _____. [14] Charles died on 6 August 1930 in Dalton, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania. [15] Burial followed three days later at Fairlawn Cemetery in Dalton. Sarah’s death certificate does not contain the name of the cemetery. However, Sarah is probably also buried in Fairlawn Cemetery. A death certificate for Bertha Jane Williams, age 84, widow, who died 18 February 1951 is likely that of 64-year-old Bertha J. Williams listed with Charles in the 1930 census. Her maiden name was White. [16]

Sarah would not qualify as a ‘real woman’ on today’s reality television show. However, her life appears to be typical of many women in the early 20th century. Farmers primarily sought to provide food for their own family and, sometimes, sold the extra. Women gave birth to, cared for and buried children while keeping house. Many kept a small vegetable garden for the family. Some women also educated their children.  The woman/ wife/ mother kept the family together and, as such, became the cornerstone of American family life.

Women’s rights were hotly debated during the period of Sarah’s life. How did she feel about the issue? Was Sarah a suffragette?  The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified on August 18, 1920, granted American women the right to vote. Did Sarah ever vote? I don’t have an answer to these questions.

Sarah’s descendants number over 200.  Although not rich or famous, Sarah had an impact  on families living in and near Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION:  I wrote about Sarah Ellen Richards because of the DNA match. Her story affected me more than I expected. Women like her definitely provide the backbone of our society, particularly in rural areas but also in the cities. Her death at the age of 59 was due to a disease that is now readily treated and rarely fatal in someone that young. Yes, now that I am retired, 59 seems young. I am a Registered Nurse so I am familiar with pneumonia and its effects. I also realized that there is so much more to everyone’s story than what is found in census and other records.  As I wrote, I searched for events that may have impacted Sarah and her family.  I learned about the Great Blizzard of 1888 and discovered more online sources for maps. Distractions by BSOs (bright shiny objects) occurred only 3-4 times.

What helped? Having basic information about the family from the LaCoe family history and my own prior research.  Primarily, I research my direct line ancestors and have not ventured far into the sibling lines.  Improved research practices learned through Genealogy Do-Over also helped.

What didn’t help? Not starting a research log for Sarah and Charles before starting to write. I didn’t “know what I didn’t know” when I started.  Entering data on personal family tree is not the same as entering the same information plus an analysis of the information on the research log. I had to stop multiple times to locate information or a particular record.

Future plans:  Start or review research log before beginning to write about any person. Identify gaps and issues. Pose questions as I write.  Will I write about Sarah’s other siblings – Addie LaCoe Richards and Leslie Frank Richards?  Maybe.

Sources:

[1] 1870 U.S. Census, Lenawee County, Michigan, population schedule, Woodstock, p. 8 (penned), dwelling 66, family 65, Ostrander Richards age 33, farmer; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 1 July 2010); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication M593_686.

[2]  Susan A. LaCoe, Lenay LaCoe Blackwell, and Velma Sue Miller, compilers/ updaters, Commemorative Record of LaCoe Family: Containing Biographical Sketches and Genealogy. Illustrated. 1750-2010, Martha L. LaCoe, compiler of first edition, edition 2010 (Pennsylvania: Privately published, 2010), p. 12.

[3] 1880 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Newton, enumeration district (ED) 42, p. 8D(penned), p. 331 (stamped on previous page), dwelling 55, family 55, Ella Richards 17, servant; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 11 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T9, roll 1138.

[4] Milwaukee Cemetery (Ransom Twp, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania), marker for Richards- Ostrander, Amelia and Ora; personally read and photographed, 13 August 2017.

[5] J.B. Stephens, compiler, History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania (Montrose, Pennsylvania: J.B. Stephens, 1912), p. 216; digital images, Penn State University, Penn State University Libraries, digital collections (https://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/digitalbks2/id/20993/rec/2 : accessed & printed 8 June 2010).

[6] LaCoe, Blackwell & Miller, Commemorative Record of LaCoe Family, pp. 34-40.

[7] 1900 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, West Abington, enumeration district (ED) 123, p. 19A (penned), dwelling 2, family 2, Sarah E. Williams wife, 37; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 2 February 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1422.

[8] 1910 U.S Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, West Abington Twp, enumeration district (ED) 148, p. 8A (penned), dwelling 122, family 124, Chas E Williams head, 47; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 January 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T624.

[9] 1920 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, West Abington, enumeration district (ED) 58, p. 5A (penned), dwelling 27, families 28 & 29, Williams Chas. E., head, 57 and Williams Walter H, head, 26; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 January 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1577.

[10] 1920 census for James & Agnes. 1920 U.S. Census, Wayne County, Michigan, population schedule, Detroit Ward 21, enumeration district (ED) 647, p. 7A (penned), James Williams; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T625_819.

[11]  1930 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Dalton, enumeration district (ED) 35-123, p. 9A (penned), dwelling 223, family 229, James M. Williams; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626.

[12] LaCoe, Blackwell & Miller, Commemorative Record of LaCoe Family, p. 39.

[13] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1924,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 January 2015), Death certificate # 120158 for Sarah E. Williams.

[14] 1930 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Dalton, enumeration district (ED) 0123, p. 6B(penned), dwelling 155, family 160, Williams Charles C.; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 17 May 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington,D.C., microfilm publication T626, roll 2048.

[15]  Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966,” digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018), Death certificate # 77489 (1930) for Charles C. Williams.

[16] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966,” digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com:   accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018) Death certificate #  13170 (1951) for Bertha Jane Williams.

Elegy to Elizabeth  A. Hayes Ellerbee

In honor of Women’s History Month, I write about women in our family tree. This story is about Elizabeth A. Hayes Ellerbee from Alabama, my husband’s paternal great-great grandmother.

Elizabeth took a chance marrying Jim Ellerbee. She knew his story.  Along with other young men from Georgia, Jim joined the army of the Confederate States of America in 1861. He left his wife, Sarah Bailey, and their two young children in the care of her father, Judge William Bailey.  Rumor has it that Sarah’s stepmother, Indiana Cherry, Judge Bailey’s 3rd  wife, “did not like her step-daughter and step-children, so she had them move out of the house and into the slave quarters. . . .” [1] Sarah died before Jim returned home in June, 1865. A slave woman greeted Jim with his children, 6-year-old Sarah and 4-year-old William.

In November, 1865, Elizabeth A. Hayes, 21 years old, married James John Ellerbee, six years her senior, a widower, and father of two young children. How did Elizabeth and John know each other?  Elizabeth, born in Alabama in 1844,  and her family probably lived in the same county as Jim Ellerbee.

Elizabeth gave birth to 7 children during their 12-year marriage.  One child, John Uzemer, lived only 3 years and died in Georgia.[2]  James John Ellerbee died in December 1877, leaving Elizabeth with eight children, ages newborn to 10 years:  Asa (age 9 months); Wright (age 4); Barzellia (age 5); James Walter (age 8); Anna C. (age 7); Demarious (age 10); William (age 16) and Sarah (age 18).

The year 1880 – three years since her husband died. Jim’s oldest son, William Green Ellerbee (born 1861) followed his grandfather to Cherokee County, Texas, in the late 1870s.[3]  He must have corresponded with his stepmother.  Within a few years, William returned to Calhoun County, Georgia, and resided there with his sister. [4]  Elizabeth, now 33 years old, supported her family  as a field hand, possibly the only type of work available to her. Her two oldest children, 13-year-old Demarious and 10-year-old Anna, also worked as field hands in Early County, Georgia[5].  Elizabeth’s mother, 67 year old Moses Hayes, lived with them and cared for the younger children. The family’s situation can only be described as difficult.

Within a year or two, William moved his sister, stepmother and her children from southeastern Georgia to eastern Texas. [6] Elizabeth’s six children now ranged in age from 3 to 14 years old. Traveling in a covered wagon, the 700+ mile journey took 6-8 weeks. They possibly followed the south’s Old Federal Road through Alabama and Mississippi, crossing the Missisippi River at either Natchez, Missisippi, or Shreveport, Louisiana.

The next decades presented some stability for Elizabeth, her children and stepchildren. Two more of her children (Anna C. and Barzellia) died between 1880 and 1900.   “She managed her household with frugality and she educated her several children very well despite the hard times that prevailed everywhere.” [7]  . Marriages and the birth of grandchildren occurred in or near Cherokee County, Texas:

  • May 1888- William Green Ellerbee married Mary Ann Gulledge;  7 children.
  • November 1888 – Sarah Alice Ellerbee married John Grum Martin; 6 children.
  • January 1895 – James Walter Ellerbee married Katharine Deborah Powell;  6 children.
  • January 1898- Demarious Albina Ellerbee married Thomas Blanton; 7 children.
  • 1906 – Asa Alexander Ellerbee married Laura B. Lester; 3 children. They moved to Leflore County, Oklahoma by 1910.  Asa later moved to Oklahoma City, where he died.
  • About 1932 – Wright Roswell Ellerbee married Laura B. Lester; 1 child.

With one exception (Asa), all of these families remained close to Elizabeth. [8] [9]

Elizabeth A Hayes EllerbeeElizabeth Hayes Ellerbee died on March 25, 1917 in Cherokee County, Texas. She was buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery at Wells, Texas. Many of her descendants are also buried there.

Elizabeth Hayes Ellerbee ‘s life was full of unexpected events, some happy and some sad.  At the age of 21, she assumed responsibility for a husband, shattered by war and the death of his first wife, and his two children. She lost her husband after only 12 years of marriage. She gave birth to seven children and buried three of them.  She appears to have had close relationships with both of her stepchildren.  She left familiar surroundings in Georgia, traveling 700+ miles to post-Civil War Texas to pursue a better life for herself and her family.  Overall, I see her as a woman who took chances and left a legacy of hope for her descendants.

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REFLECTION

I rediscovered Elizabeth’s story during creation of an Ellerbee scrapbook for my father-in-law’s 80th birthday in January, 2018. What a wonderful story for my blog!  Women’s History Month in March is the perfect time to publish it. I began to appreciate the challenges and hardships faced by Elizabeth as I dug deeper into the records. She had to be strong to endure. She may say, “I did it for my children” and think little about the sacrifices that she made.  She met the challenges of being a single parent for her children and stepchildren. I am sure that she got discouraged at times.

Taking on the role of ‘man of the house’ had to be difficult for 17-year-old William. How I wish I knew more about the slave woman who cared for Jim and Sarah’s children after Sarah’s death. That is a story to be discovered! Secondary benefit: meeting one of my genealogy goals for the year to tell more stories about my husband’s family.

What I learned:  always more in the records to be discovered. Look beyond names & dates. I learned about the “Old Federal Road” which could have been the route taken from southwest Georgia to east Texas.

What was helpful: having records semi-organized and easy to locate for review.  Demarious’ Bible records sent to me last year by one of her descendants.  Research and commentary about the family in The Ellerbe Family History.

Not helpful: Nothing I can think of at this moment.

To-Do List:  Confirm death dates & locations for Anna and Barzellia.

 For more information about the Old Federal Road:

The Old Federal Road in Alabama:  http://oldfederalroad.aum.edu/

South’s Old Federal Road https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Overland_Travel_1784_to_1839,_National_Road,_Old_Federal_Road,_Chicago_Road_(National_Institute)#The_South.E2.80.99s_Old_Federal_Road

Wagon trains to Texas:  http://www.genealogy.com/forum/regional/states/topics/ms/8044/

Archaeological Survey of the Old Federal Road in Alabama:     https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gregory_Waselkov/publication/259398790

Henry DeLeon Southerland & Jerry Elijah Brown. The Federal Road through Georgia.   Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1989.

Jeffrey C. Benton (compiler). The Very Worst Road: Travellers Accounts of Crossing Alabama’s Old Creek Indian Territory, 1820-1847. Tucscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama, 2009.

REFERENCES: 

[1] Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986), p. 14-43.

[2] 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], Darby is descendant of Demarious Ellerbee & Thomas Blanton.

[3] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[4] 1880 U.S. Census, Calhoun County, Georgia, population schedule, District 626, enumeration district (ED) 4, p. 420B, dwelling 351, family 347, Sarah Elerbrie [Ellerbee] 20; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed, downloaded, printed 3 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administratin, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9_0136.

[5] 1880 U.S. Census, Early Co, Georgia, pop. sch., Damascus, enumeration district (ED) 026, p. 214A, family #, Elizabeth Eleby [Ellerbee] ; digital images, Ancestry (http;;//www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 4 September 2011); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T9, Roll 144.

[6] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[7] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[8]  1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., Justice Pct 8, enumeration district (ED) 30, p. 284A (printed), Family #21, John G. Martin (head) [wife, Sarah A. Ellerbee + 6 children]; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : downloaded & printed 4 September 2011); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Roll: T623_1619.  On same page: Family #22: Will R Ellesbee [Wright R. Ellerbee], head, 24; Elizabeth A. Ellesbee [Ellerbee], 58; Asa Ellesbee [Ellerbee], 23 ; Family #23: James W. Ellesbee [Ellerbee], wife Catherine + 2 children. Elizabeth is recorded as the mother of 7 children, 4 still living.

[9] 1910 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 8, enumeration district (ED) 0024, p. 14B (penned), dwelling 272, family 272, Ellerbee E (head), 60, wd; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 3 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T624_1538.

A maz(e)ing Genealogy (subtitle:  Proving family stories)

Subtitle: Proving family stories that provide minimal information

Watch the genealogy shows on television. The searches appear straightforward with records obtained in clear chronological order. Occasionally, the host says, “We had to really look for this information.”  Subjects type a name into an online database, usually Ancestry, and a particular record for their ancestor appears.  At a county clerk’s office, the marriage book opens to the exact page with the person’s marriage record. These presentations simplify the process of genealogy. Yes, genealogy can be simple and straightforward. More often, our genealogy path seems more like a labyrinth or maze with frequent dead-ends and no clear way out. The ‘brick wall’ may actually be a hurdle or temporary road block.

Read “The Brick Wall Checklist” for an opinion about brick walls.

person in maze

Source:  http://www.the-burgenland-bunch.org/Newsletter/Newsletter266.htm

“Which begs the question: what is the difference between a maze and a labyrinth? Although considered synonymous by some, it is generally accepted that a labyrinth contains only one path, often spiralling around and folding back on itself, in ever-decreasing loops, whereas a maze contains branching paths, presenting the explorer with choices and the potential for getting very, very lost.” (Source: https://theconversation.com/how-to-escape-a-maze-according-to-maths_71582:  accessed 10 Feb 2018)

Some characterize genealogy as a puzzle with missing  pieces. How do you put a genealogy puzzle together? Read this blog post for some ideas:  Finding all the pieces to the puzzle.  For me, the image varies with each family group/ person and the specific goal.

I have been doing genealogy for over 20 years. Last year (2017), I started a Genealogy Do-Over by carefully reorganizing and reviewing files. Each file contains multiple records and notes. This year, I focus on my mother’s family (Tucker-Maurer) with forays into my husband’s family lines (Ellerbee-Simmons and Johnson-Reed). The person of the week is Rosina Maurer, sister of my great grandfather, Herman Maurer, and the maze that I found myself in.

The first rule of genealogy is “Start with what you know.”  In this case, I started with a handwritten family history by my great-aunt, Viola Maurer Tucker, written in the early 1980s.  [1]

“Valentine & Katherine Maurer had 5 children:  Herman, Katherine, Joseph, Rose, Edward. . . . Rose married Jacob Smetz.  We lost track of them after Herman (our father) died.  They had 2 or 3 children and lived in New Jersey.”

With these minimal clues, the search began with the first record found for Rose –  1892 New York State Census, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York: [2] 

Page 3, column 1, lines 13-17: Valentine Maurer, 65, b. Germany; Annie Maurer, 64, b. Germany; Rosie Maurer, age 24, b. U.S., box maker; Joseph Maurer, age 23, b. US, brass worker; Edward Maurer, age 17, b US, mechanic.

New facts: Rose, a.k.a.  ‘Rosie’, born about 1868, single and living with her parents in 1892.  Disclaimer:  Still lost in the maze of 1870 and 1880 census records for this family. I haven’t yet done an exhaustive search in these records.

gg62755812Keep chronological journal, handwritten or computer-based, of when and where you find information even if information is conflicting or negative. This journal / research log will keep you from retracing your steps later. Transfer appropriate information to your family tree. On family tree, write notes about conflicting and negative information.

With this basic information, I am now ready to enter the maze to find Rose/ Rosie Maurer Smetz. First, I went to Ancestry’s online database and typed “Jacob Smetz” as Rosie’s spouse.  No records found for Jacob Smetz or any children.  A dead-end, return to entry point.

Next, I remembered a document already in my files -probate record for Anna Katharina Maurer, Rose’s mother, who died in 1899: [3]

Anna Kathrina Maurer probate pg 2_crop

Probate record for Anna Katharina Maurer, 1899.  Last paragraph on page 2.

 Did Viola have Jacob’s name wrong?  Try another direction.  Begin again with 1900 census. Changed Jacob’s surname to ‘Schnitz’.  – no results!!! Changed residence from New York to New Jersey. Again, no results! Back to entry point. Record each direction and results in journal.  This feels like a roadblock, so I end here to return later.

Start over.  Review available information again before entering the maze.  From the probate records, I saw, for the first time(?),  ‘Rosina’.  Try  ‘Rosina’ again with both ‘Smets’ and ‘Schnitz’.  Nothing found on Ancestry website. There have to be records for this family!

Try another strategy using Family Search online genealogy.  At last, a record found:  Marriage record for Rosina Maurer and Jacob Smets,  27 November 1895, Manhattan, New York. [4]

Jacob Smets, Marriage, 27 Nov 1895, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States; New York (City), New York, male, 34, single, white, birth year (estimated) 1861; birthplace: Elimpt, Germany. Father: John Henry Smets. Mother: Gertrude Corzilius. Spouse: Rosina Maurer, female, 28, single, white, birth year (estimated) 1867, birthplace Brooklyn, N.Y. Father: Valentine Maurer. Mother: Ann Catherine Corzilius.

This record opened the 1900 census for Jacob and Rosa Smets in Stonington, Connecticut [5]:

Jacob Smets, head, 26, b. June 1864, Germany. Rosa Smets, wife, 33, b. Nov 1867, New York, mother of 3, 3 living. Gertrude Smets, daughter, 4, b. Oct 1896, New York. Joseph Smets, son, 2, b. March 1898, New York. Arthur H. Smets, son, age 11/12, b. July 1899, Connecticut.

Jacob & Rosa apparently moved from New Jersey to Connecticut, about 140 miles,  between April 1899 (date of her mother’s probate) and June 5, 1900, date of 1900 census.  Arthur, their youngest son, recorded as born in Connecticut in August 1899, so the family moved during Rosa’s 5th or 6th month of pregnancy. I now have the names for 3 children and an interesting twist.  Why did they move to Connecticut? Jacob’s listed occupation as a weaver in a velvet mill probably answers that question.

The 1900 census led to the 1910 census for Jacob & Rosina Smets in Brooklyn, New York [6]:

Jacob Smets, head, 48, M1 [1st marriage], married 14 years. b. Germany; immigrated 1891, naturalized citizen. Rosina Smets, wife, 42, M1 [1st marriage, married 14 years, b. New York. mother of 4, 4 living. Gertrude Smets, daughter, age 13, b. NY. Joseph Smets, son, 12, b. NY. Arthur Smets, son, age 10, b. CT. Robert Smets, son, age 9, b. NY. Anna Dale, lodger, 70, b. Ireland. Henry Ryder, lodger, 65, n. NY. Murphy, lodger, 19, b. NY

Another child, Robert, born in 1901 in New York. Jacob & Rosina moved from Connecticut back to New York before Robert’s birth in 1901.

Circled back to Ancestry website, and found Jacob & Rosa in Brooklyn, New York, per 1905 census. [7]

Jacob Smets, 39, no. of yrs in U.S. = 15. Rose Smets, 36. Gertrude M. Smets, 8. Joseph Smets, 7. Arthur H. Smets, 5. Robert Smets, 4.

This again confirms their move from Connecticut back to New York.  It’s  late at night and I am stuck in the maze.  Time for bed!

032-Genetoons-AncestralFindings

Source:  Genetoons Genealogical Cartoons  (https://ancestralfindings.com/genetoons-cartoons-2/

Still in the maze but making progress. Continued to circle around the Ancestry database and discovered another opening:

1920 Census [8]—South Brunswick, New Jersey:  Jacob Smits [Smets], head, 58, immigrated 1892, NA YR: 1897. Rosina Smits, 52. Gertrude Smits, 23. Joseph Smits, 21. Anthon [Arthur] Smits, 20. Robert Smits, 18.

The family did live in New Jersey! Followed the tracks of Jacob and Rosa’s children with some success (to be reported in a later post).

Another opening: 1930 Census[9]—South Brunswick, New Jersey!  Jacob & Rose Smetts.  Changed surname spelling again:   Jacob Smetts, head, 64, b. Germany.  Rose Smetts, wife, 55, b. NY.  Herbert Dorer, Boarder, 32, b. Switzerland.

Changed direction to Find A Grave for Smets/ Smetts. Many possible detours (i.e. names) but no entries found for Jacob, Rose, or any of their children.

Changed direction again – to Newspapers. Com website. Nothing found for Jacob or Rosina Smets.  Then, three large openings in the maze after using ‘Smetts’:

24 July 1930 Central New Jersey Home News:  “ Letter of admin to Rose Smetts for estate of the late Joseph Smetts, who died. . . July 12.” [10]

17 Dec 1936 Central New Jersey Home News:  Obituary for William J. Smetts, “William Jacob Smetts, husband of Mrs. Rose Smetts.” [11] 

According to German naming traditions,  first names given at birth were rarely used and people were usually known by their 2nd name.  Could ‘Rosina’ be her middle name?  If so, what is her first name??

9 July 1949, “Henry Renk attended funeral services for Mrs. Rose Smetts. . . “  [12]

Possible clear path out of the maze, except for the mention of Henry Renk. What is his relationship to Rose?  Definitely a  BSO to be explored another day!

Retraced steps back to Ancestry website, searching now for  ‘Rose Smetts’.  Another opening:  1915 census – Frankling Twp, Somerset County, N.J.[13]:

Smets, Jacob, 46, b. June 1865, Germany. Rosina,  40, b. Nov 1874, New York.  Gertrude, 17, b. Oct 1896, New York. Joseph, 16, b. Mch [March] 1899, New Jersey. Arthur H., 15, b. July 1900, Conn. Robert, 14, b. June 1901, New York.

Retraced steps (again!) to  recheck for page numbers of newspaper entries (forgot to record these earlier).  Looked around the location one more time and discovered a previously overlooked item:

Death notice for William J. Smetts, 14 Dec 1936:  “son, Arthur H., died November 18 [1936). . . daughter, Gertrude Anderson.”. [14] 

At last, a clear path out of the maze!  Some areas (residence in 1870 , 1880, 1940) remain just out of reach.

Looked over the top of the maze walls, using a broad search term: “Rose Smetts died 1949”.  Found:  Obituary for Mrs. Rose Smetts[15]:

Maurer_Rose_mSmetts_death notice

Asbury Park Press, Asbury Park, New Jersey, 6 July 1949, p. 2, column 3

Exit point of the maze.  Now, the final test question:  Was information given at the entry point proven?

“Rose married Jacob Smetz.  We lost track of them after Herman (our father) died.  They had 2 or 3 children and lived in New Jersey.”

“Rose married Jacob Smetz” – Rose married William Jacob Smetts.  Proven with spelling variations of Jacob’s surname.

“They had 2 or 3 children” – Jacob and Rose had 4 children, 2 of whom died between 1930 and 1940.   Proven plus one.

“lived in New Jersey” – Jacob and Rose moved to New Jersey between 1910 and 1915.  Both of them died in New Jersey.  Proven.

If you are interested, view Rose’s life summary: Maurer_Rose_Timeline2

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Reflection:

What began as a routine task soon became an intriguing and frustrating study. I often run into name variations but there seemed to be more twists and turns than usual for Rose’s family. Maybe I just wasn’t picking up on clues. I originally viewed this as a zig-zag path with many choices of direction. Then, I realized that I was going in circles. The concept of a maze seemed more fitting as I reached dead-ends and had to retrace my steps. Before starting my Genealogy Do-Over, I rarely followed through for the siblings of my direct ancestors.  And, I stopped quickly when I could not access readily available information.

What helped:  handwritten family history provided by great-aunt Viola, even with its minimal information. Tools and techniques learned during the past year. Slowing down and documenting everything.  Searching for additional information before finishing this post.

What didn’t help:  early frustration when surname variations didn’t produce results.

What I learned:  Go back to original data, even when you think that you have learned everything you can from it. Thorough documentation takes more time but helps by forcing review of information more than once. It’s OK to put research aside for days, weeks, or months.

Footnotes/ Sources:

[1] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” p. 4 ; 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] New York State Department of Health, “New York, State Census, 1892,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 31 January 2018), entry for Rosie Maurer, age 24; citing New York State Education Department, Office of Cultural Education, Albany, New York; 173 Hopkins Street.

[3] Probate record for Anna Katharina Maurer, p. 2.  Kings County, New York, Probate case files, Anna Katharina Maurer; “New York, Kings County, Probate Administration Records.,” digital records, Author: New York. Surrogate’s Court (Kings County)., Ancestry. com, New YOrk, Wills and PRobate Records, 1659-1999 (www.ancestry.com: accessed & printed 20 May 2016); names children, confirms date of death.

[4] “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24C2-M4S : 10 February 2018), Jacob Smets and Rosina Maurer, 27 Nov 1895; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,493,451.

[5] “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M97F-TCG : accessed 10 February 2018), Rosa Smets in household of Jacob Smets, Stonington township (excl. Stonington borough), New London, Connecticut, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 488, sheet 7A, family 166, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,150.

[6] “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M5S9-VNK : accessed 10 February 2018), Rosina Smets in household of Jacob Smets, Brooklyn Ward 30, Kings, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 1098, sheet 7B, family 151, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 985; FHL microfilm 1,374,998.

[7] 1905 New York State Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) Assembly district A.D. 07, E.D. 22, p. 18, lines 1-6, Jacob Smets; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 10 February 2018); citing New York State Archives, Albany, New York..

[8] 1920 U.S. Census, Middlesex County, New Jersey, population schedule, South Brunswick, enumeration district (ED) 71, p. 5A (penned), dwelling 59, family 60, Jacob Smits [Smets] 58; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 10 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T625_1057.

[9] “United States Census, 1930,” database with images, Family Search (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X4XG-DQN : accessed 11 February 2018), Rose Smetts in household of Jacob Smetts, North Brunswick, Middlesex, New Jersey, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 63, sheet 2B, line 100, family 50, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1367; FHL microfilm 2,341,102.

[10] Letter of admin for Joseph Smetts.

[11] “William J. Smetts,” Obituary, Central New Jersey Home News, 17 December 1936; online images, Newspapers.com (http:///newspapers.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 10 February 2018).

[12] “Henry Renk attended funeral services”, The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey”, local newspaper (9 Jul 1949): p. 7; PDF images, (http://www.newspapers.com  :  accessed 10 Feb 2018), key word Mrs. Rose Smetts.

[13] 1915 New Jersey State Census, Somerset County, New Jersey, population schedule, Frankling Township, p. 1A (penned), Jacob Smets 46; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 16 February 2018); citing New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey, reference no. L-14, Film 58.

[14]“William J. Smetts”,” death notice, The Central New Jersey Home News, 14 December 1936, death date, death of son, funeral information; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 16 February 2018); citing The Central New Jersey Home News. p. 17, column 4.

[15] “Deaths: Smetts- Rose Maurer”, Asbury Park Press, Asbury Park, New Jersey, 6 July 1949, p. 2, column 3. accessed, downloaded & printed 23 Feb 2018 from Newspapers. Com.