Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas gifts- tangible and intangible

Another Christmas has come and gone, and this year was chock full of genealogical goodies! For starters, I put together a simple photo pedigree for each of my dad's parents, using pictures for each ancestor I had a photo of and their name, with no other details. I wanted to do something simple and clean that would show visually some of the results of the last few years' worth of research. For my grandpa Fred, I only had pictures of his parents, his maternal grandfather, and that grandfather's parents. But it was still cool to see them all lined up in a pedigree format. I also included a picture of a family get together (I think it was Papa Fred's birthday?) where all five of his kids, and a bunch of his grandkids and great-grandkids were all together. To me, it all represented my grandpa being in the middle of this genealogical crossroads, as son, grandson, and great-grandson on one side, and father, grandfather, and great-grandfather on the other, kind of like Elder Gerrit Gong talked about during the last General Conference.

For my grandma Blossom, I've been able to collect a lot more pictures of her ancestry, with photos of her parents, her maternal grandmother, and up to five generations back on her dad's side, back to Lewis Parks Shute and Esther (Mitchell) Sanford (they weren't married, but their kids, Alexander Blood Shute and Letitia Sanford, were). It was really something to be able to show my grandma visually who her ancestors were, and how they are linked to her.

I'm not very skilled yet at putting together projects like this, but I think they both came off very well. I think I need to amend them a bit, adding in birth and death dates, and probably some kind of arrow or line linking each generation to the next. But it would be interesting to try this for my mom's parents, though I'd have to get more pictures from my mom and grandma to do my maternal grandfather's side, as I have hardly any pictures on that side at all. But who knows, there may be an artistic side to me after all! Even if there isn't, I can always lean on my wife and get her to help. :)

Another tangible genealogical gift or 5 I received this Christmas was the Clooz program to help me organize all my genealogy documents, and a set of books from my purchasing plan to complete the my basic shelf of genealogy reference books. I got:

So a big THANK YOU! to my parents for supporting their family historian son. :)

Now for the intangible gift. Late Christmas night, my folks pulled out an old cardboard box that had an old movie projector, and some old reels of film. Turns out it was old home movies going back to the late 70s and early 80s. Some of the movies were from before I was born, even one of my parents' rehearsal dinner. There was footage of my great-grandma Edna, great-grandma Rosie, and me and my sister as little kids back when we still lived in Montana. But the real treat was getting to hear my parents and grandparents talk about who was in the movies, naming people they saw in them, and reminiscing about things they'd done with them. I wanted to just sit there and video tape the old movies being played, so I could record the stories they were all sharing about those old videos. Maybe I'll get to do that next time, after the movies have been transferred to DVD (which my parents plan on doing for all the old videos they have). I really look forward to that, as there are some movies that go back into the 60s that I've never seen before, and can't wait to watch.

So, all in all, it was a fantastic Christmas. Got a lot of reading to do, research to do, and movies to watch. Let's get started!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Genealogy and history - a complementary education

I've known for a long time that learning more about history can help me in my genealogical research. Learning about world wars, flu epidemics, immigration routes, and such has really helped me understand my family's history and make sense of it. However, I recently had the reverse happen - studying my genealogy has helped me learn more about history.

A couple weeks ago I found several dozen newspaper mentions of my great-grandmother's sister Grace and her second husband, Ed Cote (I can't call them articles as most of the occurrences of the names are tiny one-paragraph blurbs about who visited who over the weekend). I downloaded all the newspaper pages, but didn't have a way at the time of marking where on the page the Cotes were mentioned. Thus, I've been spending most of my genealogy time lately going back through these newspapers and highlighting the sections where my family names pop up. It's been pretty fun to look at some of the other articles in the papers while I hunt for Ed and Grace's names, seeing various advertisements and announcements of the local clubs, churches, etc.

One article caught my eye in particular, titled "Special Event Given at Lima." It was about an Americanism program given at the Masonic Hall in Lima, put on by the Masons and Eastern Stars (another fraternal society). They had a Reverend Beard give an opening and closing prayer, with patriotic songs sung by a quartet, and some speeches or talks given, and refreshments served afterwards. What was different about this event, though, is it said at the end of meeting, the audience recited the "American Creed" and sang "God Bless America." The only creed I knew offhand was the Nicene Creed, so this interested me. A quick Google search revealed that the American Creed was written by William Tyler Page in 1917, as an entry in a patriotic contest. It's only 100 words, so here's the full text of the creed:

I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

I was amazed! A very short, but powerful, statement of belief in the Constitution and the Republic, which was apparently formally adopted by the House of Representatives in 1919 or so. And apparently the public at large was at least aware of it some 45 years later, reciting it at that patriotic rally in a small town in Montana, perhaps even from memory. And I'd never heard of it until stumbling upon a mention of it in a newspaper from 1964. I even went onto Facebook and asked a few of my more politically involved friends if they'd heard of the American Creed, and they all said no.

It made me realize - as time goes on, it's not just a family's history that can be obscured and lost. A nation's history, unless carefully preserved and passed on, can be lost just as easily. It makes me feel such a weight of responsibility to pass on to my kids, not just their family heritage, but their country's history and legacy as well. Let's hope I'm up to the task, on both counts.

Treasure Chest Thursday - Newspaper Overload!

I've written earlier about finding newspaper articles about ancestors and their family and friends, and what a surprise that was. Up until earlier this year, I'd all but given up hope on historical newspapers. But the last few months have been very good to me, on my Sitzman line especially.

As I was finishing up my work on sourcing my Craddock family files, I was transcribing some obituaries for my great-grandmother's sisters' husbands, and stopped on the one for Edward Cote (he was married to Grace Craddock, as her second husband). I thought, why don't I go online to Ancestry and see if they pop up in the newspaper databases they have. So I did. What I found was over 50 newspaper mentions of Ed and Grace! Though Grace usually only appears as Mrs. Ed Cote. But I suddenly had a much more vivid picture of the social life of my great-grandma's sister - visiting her in-laws almost weekly for dinner, celebrating birthdays with them, wedding receptions they visited, parties and events put on by Ed's company (he worked for the phone company in Twin Bridges, MT), and social organizations they were involved in. The papers span about 15 years, going from the late 50s to early 70s. This was WAY more than I expected to find.

Now I get to go through all these and document them. I don't think I'll ever get finished with my documents review project at this rate. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Brandt's Rants is officially Ancestor Approved!

Until this week, I didn't know there even were awards given to genealogy blogs, except maybe those given out by ISHFWE and other such organizations. But the kind writer of the Nolichucky Roots blog (a great blog to read, btw) has given me and nine other bloggers the Ancestors Approved award. This award was created by the author of the Ancestors Live Here blog, Leslie Ann, as a way to let other geneabloggers know how much their stories, tips, and tricks are appreciated.
Per Leslie Ann's instructions, upon receiving this award, I am asked to list ten things I have learned about my ancestry that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened me, and to pass it on to other geneablogs I feel are doing their ancestors proud.
I'll start with what I have learned about my ancestors. Fair warning - I tend to ramble (as the title of this blog suggests) so I won't blame you if you skim or skip these. :)
1. Their lives were far more complex and involved than I'll ever be able to fully understand. It seems every time I find a new record or newspaper article about someone, I see something about their life that hints at friendships, associations, and experiences I can only guess at.
2. How precious pictures are, and how much you can learn from them. I've blogged a couple times about the massive stock of photos taken and kept by my paternal grandmother's family, and I still have so many photos to really go back and analyze fully (there are 838, after all!). I do find myself wishing more of my ancestors had passed down photos, but I am grateful for those that have survived, both in my family and in the families of distant cousins willing to share them.
3. The effect one person's life can have on generations of their descendants. After studying Lena's life, for example, the lives of her children and grandchildren make so much more sense. Her experiences with marriage and family really affected the way her daughters' lives all turned out, which in turn affected how her granddaughters were raised, and so on down to me. Some descendants went through similar cycles of marriage, and some went in the direct opposite direction from what happened in earlier generations.
4. Not everything is on the internet, but a LOT is. Finding all those old pictures of the orphanage my grandmother and great-grandmother lived in was a shock. Those pictures took a family story and made it a historical event for me.
5. My grandparents know far more about our family than I'll be able to plumb from them, even if I sat them down and interviewed them for hours and hours and hours. It's just not fair that I can't simply download all their memories onto my hard drive, but I'm doing the best I can to capture their stories and experiences to pass on.
6. My ancestors weren't perfect. I know that should be obvious, but for the longest time I guess I was still operating under the "not in my family" delusion. It's been surprising, even shocking, to learn what some of my ancestors did.
7. One of the biggest shocks was finding out my 4th-great-grandmother, Lucinda (Berry) Harris was a slaveholder. I knew her father Benjamin Berry was, and her husband's grandfather Harrison Harris was as well. But to find that one branch of my family owned slaves right up until the Civil War started (and possibly until it ended) was a big surprise.
8. I've met some amazing cousins recently that have opened up whole new areas of research and interest for me. These cousins have details, stories, even pictures, that I never knew existed.
9. Until recently, I've been focusing on my own research. But I've also had the opportunity to work as a volunteer at the Heritage Quest Research Library in Sumner, WA, and to help out a friend that I may be related to. I really enjoy helping other people find answers to their questions and seeing them do the genealogy happy dance when they get a breakthrough.
10. The most humbling thing I've learned is - I've only begun to scratch the surface of the tip of the iceberg that is my family. I've made a lot of progress, this year especially, but every step forward shows me a whole new road to be explored, mapped, documented, and preserved. I can only hope I live long enough to get some of these roads mapped!
Now to bestow the Ancestor Approved award on the blogs I think are doing the best job. Apologies to them if they've already received it. Here they are, in no particular order:
Thanks again to Nolichucky Roots, and kudos to all these geneabloggers!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Marriage Monday - Lena's Marital Adventures: Epilogue

After having researched and written so much about Lena herself, I thought it would be interesting to see what I could find on one of her husbands. I chose the husband that I knew most about but wasn't actually related to - Clarence Johnson.

When I say I knew the most about him, I don't mean that until I started researching him I knew a lot about him. I didn't. All I really had on him was
1. a marriage record from the FamilySearch beta site's Montana Marriages, 1889-1947 database
2. a census record of Clarence and Lena living as husband and wife in Montana in 1910

I thought that since every relationship had an effect on Lena and how she lived and raised her kids, and since Clarence is the second best documented relationship I have of Lena's, I could learn more about her by learning more about him. So I spent a couple hours on to see what I could find. The marriage record from FS said his parents were Merit and Eliza Johnson, and that Clarence was originally from Kansas. That matched the census record's info. So I went off in search of more information on Clarence's family.

Of course, I started with census records. I always start there, as they are the easiest to search and contain a lot of info. I started with the 1900 census, and soon found Clarence living as the oldest of four single children - the others being Jennie, Leo, and Lio - of Merit and Eliza Johnson, though with an older widowed sister named Letta Harvey also listed in the family. Letta also had two children in the household, Eunice and Eustace, aged 4 and 1. So in 1900 Clarence lived in a household of ten people, ages 56 to 1, all living in Clay county, Kansas. I thought that was very interesting, as ten years later he lived with his wife Lena in a household of two. What really interested me, though, is that the 1900 census said Clarence's mom was the mother of 11 children, of which 8 were still living. I wanted to learn more about Clarence's family, and why he had two brothers with apparently the same name, Leo and Lio.

I started poking around other census records, but this time went with the Kansas state censuses. I've been listening to the Genealogy Guys podcast and remembered George saying had added a huge database of Kansas state census records, so I went there first. George wasn't kidding! I found the Johnson family in the 1885, 1895, 1905, and 1915 censuses pretty quickly. It was through these censuses I found that Lio's name was actually Lionel. The other Leo stayed as Leo in other censuses so that may have been his actual name. I also found that Clarence's sister Lettie remarried to a man named Harry Bender, and stayed near her parents.

I then went back to the federal censuses. Fortunately for me, Merit and Eliza didn't move out of Kansas. It was pretty interesting to see their family grow from 2 kids in 1870, to 5 in 1880 and 1900, then to just Merit and Eliza in 1910. Each census had a different list of children, depending on how old they were, who was still living, and who had married and gone off on their own.

Going back to Clarence, he and Lena split sometime around the end of 1910 (assuming they split when Lena got pregnant with Ernie Craddock's daughter, Edna). Clarence married Ruth Hauscan on 4 Sep 1913, in Havre, Hill county, Montana. They stayed together at least through the 1930 census, and by then had had six children - Hazel, Lila, Leo (probably named after his uncle), Shirl, Laurie, and Kevin.

I haven't found what happened to Clarence after 1930 yet. But it's interesting to look at his life and see what his background was like, and his life after Lena. He came from a big family of 8 kids, his parents stayed in the same state for over 50 years, so (in that regard at least) he came from a stable home, and that seems to be the lifestyle he sought for himself. Clarence and Lena married when Clarence was 25 and Lena was 19, and were only married for 3 years at the most. Clarence, at least until 1930, was married to one more person for at least 17 years, and seemed to just settle down and raise a family.

It kind of makes me wonder what would have happened if Clarence and Lena had stayed together. My great-grandma might have been a Johnson, and not a Craddock (if they'd had any girls that is); I might have had an ancestral line that probably would be much harder to trace (Johnson seems to be much more common than Craddock); and all of this research would have taught me more about blood relatives than simply the family of one my great-great-grandma's ex-husbands. But it was still interesting to learn about them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Has this ever happened to you?

I was working on my project last night, taking all the data I've collected over the years and adding it to my database. I'm still working my way through the Craddock family files (that's my maternal great-grandmother Edna Craddock's line). I was working on the family of my great-great-grandfather's sister Edna (whom my great-grandma was named for) and adding source citations for what I'd found, like I've been doing for months. I started looking at the info I had on her kids, and saw that I didn't have very much. Not even a census record or anything, just that I'd gotten the info somehow from my Grandma Sally. Well, being the type of genealogist that I am, I couldn't just let that stand; I had to try to find something in the way of original records on them.

So I trundled (electronically) off to, and did some quick census searching. I eventually located Edna and her second husband Thomas Morton in the 1930 census, with their sons Lloyd, Hugh, and Hervey (first time I've seen a guy named Hervey and not Harvey). I also found Roy Morton (who I have linked to both Edna's first and second husbands-got some cleanup to do there) and his wife Iona. I even found a marriage record for Hervey on the FamilySearch beta site's Montana marriages database. After entering most of these records in the database (I printed and put the marriage aside, as I wanted to look at that one some more before entering it) I realized I'd spent almost an hour on my little side track. I'd been listening to some of my custom radio stations on, always telling myself "just one more song, after this song I'm done." So here's a tip - don't listen to good music while you're doing genealogy if you're using the music as a timer to tell you when you're done. :)

Then I realized something - that's why this project is taking so long to complete. I started back in May with the Beilsteins, and here I am, six months later on the Craddocks. Yes, I took some time out for the photo album project, but now that I'm back on my original project, I find that I can't just sit down and enter data. I have to keep looking, keep digging, trying to complete the data I'm entering, invariably adding to the mountain ahead of me.

And you know what? I'm totally fine with that. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday - Elyse Doerflinger

For the last few months I've been following Elyse Doeflinger's genealogy blog. She's a very young genealogist, in her mid-20s, but is already VERY good at it. She's already authored two ebooks, Conquering the Paper Monster Once and For All, and A Mini-Guide to Being a Part-Time Genealogist. I recently bought and read these two books and found they had a lot of great information. Best of all, they were both short enough to read in one sitting. I highly recommend both of these books to anyone struggling with time constraints and storage problems in doing your genealogy (like me!).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - More and more Josephs!

Since discovering genealogy podcasts a couple months ago, I've been spending my commute time every day listening to Lisa Louise Cook's Genealogy Gems Podcast, and the Genealogy Guys Podcast by George Morgan and Drew Smith. All of them are fantastic genealogists, and I have been able to put their tips and tricks into practice in my own research, with great results. One example of this happened just this week. The Genealogy Guys have talked about using public and academic libraries, WorldCat, Heritage Quest, and other library-related repositories for your research, which is something I (sadly) haven't done too much of the last few years. I've been trying to find a way to get hold of a copy of a book called Tracks of Time, put out by the Glenella History Book Committee about the area in Mantiboa around Winnipeg and Waldersee. My Joseph ancestors lived in that area for a generation or so, so I've been anxious to see this book. But it's too expensive to buy at the mo (over $70), and no local libraries have it. Per their suggestion, I went on WorldCat to look for it, and saw that two libraries did have a copy. Unfortunately, both libraries were in Canada. Not knowing whether interlibrary loan worked internationally, I thought it couldn't hurt to put in a request for the book, so I did. Then I forgot about it and went on with my research.

Then yesterday, I got an email from my library saying the book had arrived and was available for pickup! I went down on my lunchbreak to pick it up - it's huge! Over 800 pages, about 3 inches thick, and probly 12 or 14 inches long. I spent some time going through it last night, and found the story I knew was already in there about Albert Joseph (my great-great-grandfather Samuel Joseph's nephew, son of his brother Gottlieb) and his family. This story was only two pages long, only really gave info on Albert's wife and children, and I already had a copy of it. So I pulled out my database, and started looking at the other surnames attached to the Josephs to see if I could anything on them.

First I looked for Karl Siegel, who married Wilhelmina Joseph (Sam's sister) and found a 3 page story on them, including a picture! It tells the story of how they met at the butcher shop where Karl worked, and how Wilhelmina's father Ludwig Joseph (my 3rd-great-grandfather) oversaw the construction of his daughter's home. It also said the Joseph family (including Mina and Karl) moved to Montana, but found that Mina's health didn't agree with the climate, so they moved back to Manitoba (a story I hadn't heard, and am still trying to find records to confirm).

Next I rememberd that Sam's oldest daughter Olga had married Gustav Haft (also spelled Heft, Hoft, and Hoeft) and looked for them. I found another 3 page story on Gustav's parents, Augusta and August Heft, again with a picture. This was very detailed, and talked about their family's moving from Germany to Russia, and then from Russia to Canada. It also listed Gustav and his siblings and who they married, which gives me more people to do further research on.

After the Hefts, I went back to my database and tried to find another Joseph daughter, and saw Olga Joseph (daughter of Sam's brother Gottlieb) had married a Philip Oswald. I looked in the index and, you guessed it, found a bio of Philip and Olga. By this time I was thinking I was going to end up scanning most of the book. But I had never seen so much info on the Josephs in one place before, and was thrilled to be finding so much.

The only Joseph female I haven't found in the book is Tina Joseph, Sam's sister, who married John Levick in Manitoba. Most of the bios seem to be written by descendants still living in the area, which would explain why Sam and Tina didn't have bios included (both of their families moved to Montana). I've still got a couple more families to look up, so we'll see if there's any more info on them.

The book also has a lot of geographical, social, and historical information in the front. It has several pages of maps of the land allotments, which all show the last name of the original owner. What's more, it also has articles on the cultural groups represented in the area, including one on the Germans that's a translation of an article written in German for a local paper back in 1904. There was another series of articles on the various settlements in the area, including one on Grass River, why my great-great-grandmother Pauline Joseph died. I still need to go back and review the other articles and check for any more that might apply to my family.

One special treat was a listing of all the churches in the area, with articles of varying length on that church's history, leaders, members, and (in some cases) listings of who was buried in that church's cemetery. The longest article was for the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, attended by the German immigrants to the area, including my ancestors! I gathered this from the church's cemetery listings - my great-great-grandmother Pauline Joseph, as well as her husband Sam's parents Ludwig and Justine Joseph, are all buried in that church's cemetery. I plan on writing or calling the church to see if they have any additional information on them.

All of this came from one book, after making one loan request. I was expecting just the two pages, and maybe a couple more. So far, I've got more than 24 pages of info - bios, church histories, settlement histories - directly relating to the Josephs. And maybe more to come. Can't wait to get home and read!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Storytime Saturday - Lena Beilstein's marital adventures, part II

My last post ended with Lena's leaving Ernest for parts unknown, though probably still in Montana. I'd like to back up a little bit and tell a little more about what life was like for Lena being married to Ernest, which might shed some light on why she left. Most of the following stories are family stories, and I'm still looking for historical records to verify the details. But stories I've gathered from various relatives at different times have been consistent, so I feel they are reliable enough to post here.

The family seemed to be doing all right for themselves - the photo at right was taken when Edna (my great-grandma) was a baby, so around 1911. Next to Lena (who's holding Edna) are her mom Amelia and sister Maggie (who must have come up from Nebraska, or else Lena and Edna had gone down to visit). After Ernie and Lena had at least three of their four girls, Ernest moved the family to a little mining town called Southern Cross, Montana, near Georgetown lake. The house they moved into was, compared to their earlier standard of living , pretty rough - the house was a one-room cabin, and had a dirt floor. The scene actually moved Lena to tears. Not too long after moving into the cabin, one of the girls had a birthday coming up. Lena made a big cake to celebrate, and put a towel over it to help it stay fresh for later. When time came to eat the cake, Lena pulled back the towel and found a huge rat, which had eaten a portion of the cake already. Needless to say, she ended up tossing the cake.

Ernest (who also went by Ernie, Creamy, or Red) was apparently quite the ladies' man. Grandma said he was very popular with the girls in town, and that didn't sit well with Lena. She eventually got upset enough (whether because of that, the poverty or something else I'm not sure) that she left Ernie and took at lease Edna and Grace and went to Seaside, Oregon. Ernie went after his children, and probably Lena too, and brought them back to Montana. The family remained poor, and Lena left Ernie for good sometime in the mid-1920s. Ernie had to put all four of his children in the Montana State Orphan's Home, as he couldn't afford to take care of them. A cousin also tells me the state had issues with young children living in a mining camp, so that may have added to the family stress. At any rate, the girls, aged 14 or 15 down to 5, were put in the home, away from both parents, though Ernie at least went and visited the girls several times while they were there.

Lena, as I said before, seemed to bounce from man to man for the rest of her life. Grandma tells me she was happiest with Ed Layfield, but I don't know when or how long they were together, or if they were ever married. Her last husband was Clarence Roper. He is the only other husband of Lena's of whom I have a picture (shown at right with Lena). Knowing that she left Ernie sometime in the mid 1920s, and that she was single by 1950, that gives her about 25 years to have gone through all those other relationships. During this time, I do know that she stayed in contact with her children, or at least tried to. I have a photo of her and her daughter Edna taken sometime in the 30's I believe, as well as a picture of Lena with a note from Lena to her daughter Hazel written on the back, asking why Hazel isn't allowed to write to her. I don't know any more of that story, maybe my Grandma or one of her cousins knows more.

The end result of it all was that Lena moved in with her daughter Edna and her family (husband Bill Moore, and two of Edna's children) for a short while in 1950, before moving into a hotel room above the Metals Bank in Butte. She later moved to another hotel above the Board of Trade Bar, also in Butte, and lived there until just before she died. Her circumstances in this hotel were pretty grim - a bed, no refrigerator, and a hot plate to cook on. She received a welfare check for $35 a month (yes, a month), of which she paid $20 a month for rent. She happened to fall and injured herself, but as she had no insurance she just stayed home in her bed and developed bed sores that caused her a lot of pain. Her daughters Edna (who had moved to California, and had just moved back to Montana) and Elsie put her in the County Hospital in November 1963, and she passed away in the hospital on 22 February 1964.

One of the interesting things I discovered recently that I alluded to in my last post on Lena was her obituary. It was published in the Montana Standard on 23 Feb 1964, the day after her passing. It reads:

Mrs. Lena (Craddock) Roper of 22 1/2 E. Park died Saturday in a local hospital after an illness of three months.
Mrs. Roper was born Feb. 26, 1887, in Chicago. She attended school there. She resided in Nebraska, then Victor, Mont., as a young woman with her parents in 1909. She came to Butte in 1926 to make her home.
Mrs. Roper was of Mormon faith. Her body is in White's Funeral Home where services will be announced.
Surviving are daughters, Mrs. Elsie Landon of Boulder City, Nev., Mrs. Edward Cote of Twin Bridges and Mrs. William Moore of Butte; 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

This obituary is interesting for a few reasons:

1. I am fairly certain she was born in Illinois (the census records I have show that, and her father was naturalized in Illinois in 1884). Her mother was living in Nebraska in the 1910 census, with her sister Maggie and Maggie's first husband, Arthur Cooper. That might help explain Lena's move to Montana - Nebraska to Montana is a lot shorter jump than Pennsylvania to Montana. If Lena's mom moved the family to Nebraska between 1900 and 1903 (her father Jacob supposedly died in PA in 1900), then Lena could have moved out or run away or something.

2. The comment about Lena living with her parents in 1909 is false - Amelia was a widow by then, and living in Nebraska, while Lena was already married to Clarence Johnson.

3. The statement about her coming to Butte in 1926 is very interesting. If this statement is accurate, then that could be the date she left Ernie. That fits with what I know about her already.

4. The biggest shocker was the statement about her being "of Mormon faith." Being a Mormon myself, and having very few family members in the church (my parents and siblings, one grandparent, and Lena's daughter Elsie), this was news to me! I've done some preliminary searches in LDS church records, and can't find a baptism date for Lena. Elsie joined the church in 1962, less than 18 months before Lena died. I don't know who gave the info for the obituary, but as Elsie was visiting from Nevada at the time, and the obit was printed in a Montana paper, I don't think it would have been her (though she is the first daughter listed). Is there an order in listing surviving children in an obituary - furthest away listed first, closest last? At any rate, I'd like to do some more research into this, see if there's anything in Butte LDS records of Lena's joining the church there.

One thing that leads me to believe she had at least some connection with the LDS church in Butte was the fact that it was the LDS church in Butte that conducted her funeral services (as announced in the Montana Standard on 26 Feb 1964). An LDS bishop gave her obituary, and missionaries spoke and gave the closing prayer. That was another big surprise to me. Maybe Elsie helped arrange things through the local ward while she was up in Butte. But whatever happened, I think it's pretty cool that an ancestor of mine at least had an LDS funeral.

So there you have it, Lena's story. There are still more pieces to unravel and put together, more questions to have answered. But I've learned a lot about her in just the past few weeks that has thrown everything I knew about her on its ear. I can only wonder what future discoveries will do to the composite picture I have of her in my head now. But the overall feeling I get from reading and hearing about her life is just - tragedy. So many husbands, so much hardship, and at the end just living alone in a hotel, eating her meals in the bar downstairs. She loved her girls though, that much I have learned. And her daughters loved her, even though they suffered with her (and at times because of her).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Wagner Family headstones and more

On October 16, I got to take a very cool family trip. I drove up with my wife, kids, parents, and grandparents up to Monroe, Washington, where my great-grandparents Rosie and Charles Wagner lived for many years. It wasn't that far of a drive, and I was pretty stoked to go. Our first stop was the IOOF Cemetery in Monroe. It was my first time seeing the gravesite of Grandma Rosie, who passed away when I was five. We (my family and my folks) arrived before my grandparents, and dad couldn't quite remember where Grandma Rosie was buried, so we got to explore the cemetery for a bit trying to find her headstone. My son sure appreciated the chance to get out of the car after 90 minutes of driving and being able to run around. It was interesting to see the different styles of markers, some flat, some traditional, some so old and worn you couldn't see who they marked any more. I tried to find the cemetery office to ask if they could help us find the stone we wanted. While I was on my way over to the office, my grandparents pulled up, and pointed us right to the stone, which, as it turned out, was not 20 feet from where we parked. Isn't that always how it works? Next time I go to a cemetery, I'm searching the immediate vicinity before asking any questions. :)

I wasn't expecting to find any more than one headstone, but it turns out, there's a whole family plot there. In the plot, there's Grandma Rosie, Grandpa Charlie, Donald "Bill" Wagner and Mary Wagner (Bill was Charlie's brother, and Mary was Rosie's sister, so both families were in-laws of each other), Charles Wagner III (Rosie and Charlie's youngest son, who died at the age of 10), and Eldora (Shute) (Wagner) Greenfield, Charlie and Bill's mom. I was in headstone heaven! Ok, that sounds really lame. But I was really excited to see all of these graves, when I was only expecting one. I'd seen pictures of all of them (especially after going through those 800+ photos of Grandma Blossom's beige album). So I really felt connected to all of them.

After leaving the cemetery, we drove by the spot where the Wagner Brothers Mill had been. In its place is a HUGE brick mansion. It was actually just a couple minutes from the cemetery. I didn't know what it was until after we'd passed it, so I didn't get a picture of it unfortunately. Maybe I'll try pulling it up on or something. If I can get a photo of it, I'll post in here later.

Down the street from the mansion is the house that Charlie built for his family, probably sometime in the 1950s. It's still there, and looks great. We snapped a few pictures of the outside. Then my dad, who's a lot more adventurous than I am (must come from years of motorcycle racing, military service, and raising three kids who put him through heck), went up and knocked on the door. A guy came out and dad started talking to him, telling him about who we were, and why we're in the neighborhood. He just opened up, and invited us in to take a look, let us take pictures and video of the house, which he had actually just purchased three weeks previous. As it turned out, my grandparents sold the house to Bill, Charlie's brother, and moved to Twisp (they later moved back but to a different house). Bill and Mary sold it to a guy named Granden, or something like that, who lived in it till he died. His son then got the house, and he was the one who sold it to the current owner. He seemed really interested in the history of the house, and asked that we send him copies of the pictures I have of my great-grandpa building it. He also said his wife was coming home from the hospital that day, and once she's had some time to recover, he'd like us all to come back up for a barbecue or something, which sounded great!

For me, though, the real treat was when we went back and got my grandparents (they'd stayed in their car, as they have trouble walking over long distances, and the driveway up to this house was pretty long). They drove up the driveway and came into the house, and my grandma just looked to be flooded with memories. She started talking about her dad building the house, and especially the cabinets and fireplace. I managed to record a lot of what she said, as I'd remembered to bring my camera with me, and had hoped for her to tell stories about the house that I could record. It was just amazing to see something put together by my great-grandpa and his brothers, that looked so well kept and new.

All in all, it was a very rewarding afternoon. And I look forward to repeating the experience in the near future when we have that bbq.

PS I don't have the pictures available at the moment, but I'll put some up as soon as I get them.
UPDATE: Pictures are now posted!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Storytime Saturday - Lena Beilstein's marital adventures

Today's post is all about my great-great-grandmother, Philena Emily Beilstein. She was born 26 Feb 1888 in Chicago, Illinois to Jacob and Amelia (Wachter) Beilstein. She was the younger of the two surviving children of this marriage (she had an older sister named Annie Margaret, or Maggie), and grew up in Illinois and Pennsylvania. She lived in Pennsylvania in 1900 at the time of the census, yet by 1903 she had found her way out to Carbon county, Montana, and was married to David M. Briscoe, a native of New Mexico from a large Mormon family (though it seems he himself never joined the church). Finding this marriage was a bit of a surprise, as the first marriage I knew about for her was in 1908 to Clarence Johnson. I was actually trying to find a record of her marriage to Clarence on the FamilySearch beta site, when I found the marriage to David Briscoe. My mom and grandma new nothing about David, which makes me wonder if my great-grandma Edna (Philena's oldest daughter, who told my grandma a lot about her mom) even knew about him. His mother and siblings were living in Carbon county, Montana at the time of the 1900 census, so how Philena met him and decided to marry him is a total mystery. Also, the fact that David came from a Mormon family is very interesting, given some things I've recently learned about the end of Philena's life (which I'll write about later). As far as I know, this is the earliest contact any of my family lines had with the LDS church (assuming that Philena had some kind of contact with David's family). This is very interesting to me, given that one of Philena's daughters (Elsie), granddaughters (my grandma), and the whole family of a great-granddaughter (my mom and our family) all joined this church. Funny how life keeps going in circles throughout the generations.

A quick but interesting sidenote about David Briscoe - he's one of the rare cases of people listed in the same census twice, the 1900 Montana census in this case. In one entry, he's listed as the servant of Henry Foust, and the other he's listed with his mother and siblings.

Her marriage to David didn't last long, because Philena (or Lena as she was often known) married again in 1908, to Clarence Johnson. I have recently obtained a scanned copy of two postcards Lena wrote to her mother, Amelia, while married to Clarence, one of which gives her address as 214 South H Street in Livingston, Montana. So it seems she stayed in Montana during the time of these two marriages (she ended up leaving Clarence towards the end of 1910). I have been unable to find any record of children born to either of these marriages, so as far as I know Lena walked away from these two marriages with no kids.
That changed when she met her next "husband", Ernest Craddock. I put husband in quotations because as far as we know (we being me, my grandmother, and other researchers of this family) Lena and Ernest were never officially married. But they got together shortly after the 1910 census was taken, as my great-grandmother Edna was born to them in 1911. Edna was followed by three more girls - Hazel, Elsie, and Grace. The family stayed in Montana at least through 1920, and were living in Granite, Montana at the time of the 1920 census.

After the 1920 census, I'm not sure where she went. I know from what my grandma has told me she left Ernest in the mid 1920s and was involved with several different men (aside from the three mentioned so far) over the course of her life, including Art Palmer, Ed Layfield, and Clarence Roper (Clarence Roper being the last one). I'm not sure at this point if she actually married anyone after Ernest, but Grandma says Lena was in Butte when her grandson James Harris Jr. was born in 1931, so that would point to her being in Montana for the 1930 census. But not knowing what name to search for, or what county she might have been in, I haven't been able to find her yet.

I've got more to write about Lena, but that will have to wait for another post. Stay tuned for Part 2 of Lena Beilstein's marital adventures.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Scribners

This is a family crest for the old Scriven family of England. My Scribner ancestors (who I've been told descend from the Scrivens) supposedly have authorization to claim this crest as theirs. I haven't gotten around to verifying it yet, but I thought it was a pretty interesting image, so here it is. I have traced my Scribners back to Zachariah Scribner of New Hampshire. He was born about 1817 in Merrimack, New Hampshire, and was the father of six children from two wives, Judith Sawyer and Mariah Jeanette Beardsley. I'm descended from his second wife, Mariah. Zachariah met and married Mariah in Minnesota (how's that for a tongue twister?), where he and Judith had moved to and where Judith had died. They had four children in five years, and later relocated to Montana, where Zachariah died in 1901.

Mariah was originally from Ohio and had been previously married to Norton Johnson. They were the parents of at least four children, and moved to Minnesota sometime between 1854 and 1860, the birth years of their second and third children. Norton died in 1864, leaving Mariah a single mother of four children ages 12, 10, 4, and 2. Mariah married Zachariah three years later (while he was raising two teenagers of his own, a boy and a girl). Altogether, they had ten children from four parents -quite a mixed family! After Zachariah died, she moved out west to Washington state and lived near her oldest child, Mary (Johnson) Perry. She died in 1911, ten years after her second husband.

Sorry for the brevity of the post, but at least it's something, right? I'm still working on the post about Lena, which will be a lot fuller. More full. Better.

Quick note

I haven't forgotten about my blog! I'm in the middle of a big post about my great-great-grandmother, Philena Beilstein. It's more complicated than I first thought, and the more data I gather, the more it takes to sort it and verify it and analyze it. I'll post it as soon as it's ready.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - My latest acquisitions

To help me in my quest to collect and preserve family artifacts, my mom combed her house and found a few items, most of which I knew nothing about, and gave them to me.

This is a time table schedule for the Northern Pacific Railway Company from 1947. I'm not sure if it was my grandpa's or great-grandpa's (mom wasn't sure either), as both of them worked for the railroad. If it's my grandpa Fred's, he would have been 21 at the time, so it's not unreasonable that it's his. If it's his dad Fred Sr.'s, he would have been around 63, so it's not too unreasonable that it's his either. I'll probably end up asking my grandpa about it, and I'll post the update here.
UPDATE: I asked my grandpa, and the schedule is his. He started working for the railroad on October 1, 1947, and this was their current train schedule.

This is a ribbon my grandmother got for her participation in the Siskiyou County Fair in 1964. She was about 24 at the time, and she, my grandpa Tom, and a friend of theirs (don't know his name) played in a country band they called Kountry Kuzzins. Their band marched and maybe played in the parade, and got this ribbon for their efforts. Pretty cool!

This is a death certificate for Olga (Joseph) (Haft) McKeown, my great-grandmother's older sister. This one I knew about, as I'd asked my aunt to pick it up for me from the county clerk in Butte, Montana, along with 2 or 3 other death certificates. However, I was living in Utah at the time going to school, so my aunt was going to mail them to my mom, or give them to her when they visited, or something. I totally forgot about them (even though I had been the one to request them!) and was pleasantly surprised to see they were in pristine condition, even 7 or 8 years later. My mom really knows how to store things well!
In the future, I plan to take the information I gather from these items and try to dig up a few more clues (maybe a newspaper clipping about the parade? or some info on the trains my grandpa/great-grandpa worked on, or something), and I'll post a follow-up.
Thanks mom!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday - The Montana State Orphan's Home

I'm back to working on my old project (that I was doing before the beige photo album project) of going through my files and documents and verifying that everything is entered into my database. While taking a few minutes last night to enter a couple census records on my Craddock ancestors (my great-grandma was Edna Craddock, one of two great-grandparents I actually got to meet, and the only one I actually really knew), I stopped at the 1930 census record of my g-grandma Edna's sisters Grace and Elsie. There were little girls at the time, living in the Montana State Orphan's Home (later called the Montana Children's Center). They weren't orphans really, as both parents were still alive and would be for years to come, but they couldn't afford to take care of the girls (there were four altogether) so they put them in the Orphan's Home for a while. It never really hit me until last night that this was how my great-grandma lived through the Great Depression - basically like an orphan.

Anyways, I decided to see if there wasn't any info on the Internet about the Orphan's Home, so I headed to Google searched for Twin Bridges Montana Orphan's Home. What I found was a website for the property owner of the now abandoned Children's Center. The main page had a bunch of pictures that cycled through like a slide show, so I saved a bunch of them to my hard drive (it was really helpful that they were labeled, so I knew a little bit of what I was seeing). Then I noticed that they had a history tab at the top, so I clicked on it. There I found a bunch of old photos from the 1930s and forward - staff photos it seemed mostly, and of the grounds from different points and at different times of the year. This was really interesting, to see the house as it would have looked to my great-grandma while she was there, and maybe some of the workers she knew.

But wait - there's more! They also had a group of buttons on this page, with a label that said "select era to see more photos", and one of the buttons was 1930! I went to that page, and found a whole slew of pictures - more pictures of the staff, but a lot of pictures of the kids in the orphanage, as well as pictures of the animals they had at the orphanage (who knew orphanages had animals???). Hope does spring eternal, so I went through all the pictures, hoping to find one or two of my great-grandma and/or her sisters. Sadly, there weren't any pictures of my family up there, but I did find one very interesting picture. They had a photo of Ruth Morris and Madeline Sabo, taken about 1935. Those names sounded familiar for some reason, so I went back to the census record for Grace and Elsie. Sure enough, they were on the same census page! Madeline is listed the next line down from Elsie, and Ruth is just a couple lines up from Grace. It kind of took me back for a minute, looking at these two young girls, who in all likelihood knew my great-grandma and her sisters. Were they friends? Did they fight? I don't know, but it's fun to think about. It also brought home that this was an orphanage, and (from what I read on the orphanage's website) some kids never got to leave, even died there. I'm glad that fate didn't befall my ancestors, but sad that it happened to people in other family trees.
So the wisdom I gained about my great-grandma's life - a view of the orphanage she lived in, more info about conditions and life there, and even a picture of some of her fellow 'inmates' (as the census refers to them) - was a lot more than I bargained for from what was meant to be a quick internet search. But that's what I love about genealogy - it's hard to find what you're looking for, but sometimes, you hit the jackpot.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Wagner Bros lumbermill

For this blog post, I thought I'd put up some more pictures from the beige album. There are so many to choose from, I could easily spend weeks or months posting on different themes from just these pictures. Here are some of the ones I found most interesting:

This is my great-grandfather Charles Wagner (left) and his brother Ralph Wagner, part way up one of the trees they were felling. Look how tiny they are compared to the tree! I can't imagine how big the whole thing must have been, or what it took to chop it down. Notice how they had to wedge boards in to stand on. I remember my grandma saying this was part of the felling process, but I can't remember exactly how (I didn't have my recorder on me when she told me).

Here's a section of a tree all tied up and ready for transport to the mill. Wonder how many truckloads like this it took to take a whole tree?

Sometimes family would come out to the forest and visit, and even pose for silly photos like this one. This is my great-great-grandmother, Mary Hoffman. I like this, because it shows that while my great-grandfather knew how to work, it also shows he took time out for family fun as well.

Here's another photo of family visitors to the worksite. The ladies are Claire Wagner (Ralph's wife), Rosie Wagner (Charles' wife), Mary Hoffman (Rosie's mother), and Blossom Wagner (Rosie's daughter and my grandma).

This is one of the trucks they used to haul the trees from the logging site to the mill. Can any of you truck afficianados out there tell me what type of truck this is? I'd like to know!

These photos are of the mill itself. Not being familiar with the milling process, I couldn't say what exactly is going on, but it looks very busy! I'm sure it was terribly loud, with all the machinery and saws going, plus the trucks hauling trees in and lumber out, and the constant moving of lumber everywhere. But as my great-grandpa did this for many years, he must have enjoyed it. Or at least gotten used to it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday - what I learned from 838 old photos

After going through the photos I've scanned and saved, I realized that I know a lot more about my great-grandparents Charles and Rosie (Sitzman) Wagner than I did before. I'll post a few pictures, and tell you what each one taught me.

1. My great-grandfather and his brothers owned a lumber mill. I learned this from a picture of one of the trucks from the lumber mill my great-grandpa worked on - with the words Wagner Bros on the side. I've known for years he worked for the mill, but until that picture came along, I had no idea it was HIS mill. I'd like to find something about the mill - maybe a mention in a city directory, or a newspaper ad, or something about the mill. Maybe I'll start collecting things for each of my ancestors' occupations...once I get a bigger house, that is.

2. My great-grandparents knew how to ride horses, and apparently really enjoyed it. Most of the pictures I'd seen of them were of city scenes - pictures of the house, their farm, traveling different places, etc. I don't think they ever owned horses, so I never would have thought of them as riding them much. But apparently they did. This is a big thing to me, as my own experiences on horseback are limited mostly to one old horse named Old Shoes, which I rode on my honeymoon and which tried to buck me off after biting the horse my wife was riding. Needless to say, I'm not as much of an equestrian as my ancestors were. :)

3. They loved the outdoors. There are a LOT of pictures like this - mountain scenes, views of different lakes, photos of their annual moose hunting trips up to Canada, and a whole two-page spread of pictures of the trail up to and inside the Lewis and Clark Caverns in Montana. This I can relate to. Even if I don't care for spending a week in the woods hiding from bugs in a tent, I can still appreciate the beauty of nature, and love seeing the view from a mountaintop (or hilltop, as those are more accessible :) ).

4. My great-grandpa was an amazing woodworker. He not only knew how to cut down trees, he knew how to work the wood from raw timber to finished product. He even built his own house! Not to mention several other houses in Monroe, Washington. A lot of those houses, according to my dad, are still standing. I'll have to ask him to take me up there one of these days to take pictures of them. It just amazes me that he could cut the trees down, cut them into lumber, design a building, and (with the help of his brothers) turn the lumber into a finished house - all without going to other sources for help or labor.

5. They were very social people. My great-grandma was involved in a few different clubs - the Pocahontas Lodge, the Home Demonstration Club, and maybe some others (unless she just liked getting all dressed up just to get together with friends). One interesting page had a photo of one friend named Ethel taken in the 1950s, and another photo of the same woman taken in 1972. So my great-grandma made long-time friends, which I think is pretty cool. There are many pictures of family friends, many of whom my grandma remembered by name. I don't know if I could name my parents' friends in a photo, so this kind of shows me where I have room to improve on.

6. My great-grandparents loved their family. This is abundantly evident by how many pictures they have of their parents, siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces, and grandchildren. There are probably several hundred pictures of just my Aunt Eileen, who was Charles and Rosie's first grandchild, playing with friends, dressed up for the dancing and skating events she participated in, etc. One of the hardest pictures to see (though it technically came from a different album) was a photo of my great-grandparents and their kids Blossom (my grandma) and her brother Howie visiting the grave of their youngest child, Charles Wagner III. Grandma Blossom and Uncle Howie were smiling, but Rosie and Charles just looked so sad, even years later. I can't imagine losing one of my children at such a young age (Charles III was only 10 when he died), so I can understand why they looked so sad. But, on the other hand, it really shows how much they valued their family, and how much they loved each other.
I'm sure there's more I've picked up from some of the other photos, but I think that's a good start. It's a remarkable feeling - getting to know someone you barely even met, even 25+ years after they've died. But now, my great-grandparents aren't just names on a pedigree - they're people that I know and love.