Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A new branch for the Josephs!

I was on the FamilySearch Labs website yesterday (eventually, at least. I think it was down for a bit). On a whim (or perhaps, more than a whim) I thought I'd do a search for my 3rd-great-grandfather, Ludwig Joseph and see what I could find. There weren't all that many hits, so I thought I'd scrool through and see what they showed me. Imagine my surprise when one of the hits listed Ludwig and his wife, Justine Witt! I opened the record, and it turned out to be a death record of Heinrich Joseph, son of Ludwig and Justine. My semi-distant-cousin Jim Joseph had told me there was a Henry Joseph in that family (as well as some other siblings I haven't been able to find records of yet), and this was proof! I love it when historical documents and family stories tell the same story.

Excited with my new find, I went off to Ancestry.com and found Henry Joseph living with his family in Chicago, Illinois. Best of all, his son Albert was living with him. This same Albert was living with Tina (Joseph) Levick in 1920, but had only been identified as a lodger. I now know that Albert was her nephew, son of Tina's brother Heinrich. Albert worked as a smelter in Montana in the 1920 census, and was a handyman at a steel mill in Chicago in 1930. It's puzzled me for years who that Albert was, and now I know!

Now I need to go back and see if I can round out the info on Henry/Heinrich and his family. I've got his wife Emilie and at least one son Albert. He was living next to an Edward Joseph and his family in 1930, and Edward does happen to be the perfect age to be a son of Henry. So this Joseph family, which stymied me for SO LONG at least seems to be coming out of the woodwork. Can't wait to see what else I can find!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: John Frederick Gibson

Today's spotlight focuses on my great-grandfather, John Frederick Gibson. Fred was born 21 Jan 1884 in Saint John, New Brunswick to John and Catherine (Cain) Gibson. John and Catherine were both children of Irish immigrants and were married in Cathedral, a Catholic church in New Brunswick (pictured at left) a few years before in 1879. Fred had an older sister, Annie, an older brother named Thomas, and a younger brother named David. One other child was born to the family, but I haven't been able to find records of him/her, only a mention in a census record of Catherine bearing five children with four surviving. All the children but David were born in Saint John. When Fred was very young, perhaps only 1 or 2 years old, John and Catherine moved the family to Helena, Montana, where David was later born. To the right is a photo of Bridge St. in Helena, taken about the time of John Gibson's arrival to Montana.

Fred lived and grew up in Montana with his family, including his grandfather Dennis Cain (who joined them in Montana in 1891), who lived with them until his death in 1906. Fred's mother was Catholic, and attended the local Catholic church. Fred's father John, who had been attending the Church of England while living in Canada, would wait outside the church and go home with Catherine afterwards. Catherine died in 1907 from pneumonia, and Fred's father John died in 1914.

Fred worked for the railroad for a good part of his life, as did his brothers David and Thomas, and his father-in-law, Samuel Joseph. Fred lived for a while with his sister Annie, who had married William Condon, until he met and married Augusta (Joseph) Staffan, widow of Charles Staffan, on 13 June 1923. They had a son, whom they named Frederick Joseph Gibson (my grandfather). Augusta died in 1931, following a hysterectomy. Fred Jr. stayed with his aunt Pat Walsh for a brief time while Fred Sr took care of things after Augusta's death.

Fred married Emma Kitzel about 1932 (you can see their picture at the top of this post). She was a clerk at the railroad where Fred worked. They later joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1951, and stayed active in the church for about five years, until Emma's death in 1955. Following Emma's death, Fred married Ethel Lindberg, a Catholic, and began attending the Catholic church with her. According to his son, Fred attended just about every church around.

Fred passed away on 5 August 1967 at the age of 83 in Butte, Montana. He is buried in the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Butte.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: My awesome Great-Grandma Rosie

This is my favorite picture of my great-grandmother, Rosie (Sitzman) Wagner. I'm not sure when it was taken, perhaps when she was in her 40s or 50s, but I love the fun-loving, zest for life look on her face. She passed away when I was five, so I barely remember her, and most of what I remember was from one visit, seeing her sitting on the couch with a big afghan on the back of it in her old home. I wish I'd had the chance to know what she was like when this picture was taken. But at least I have pictures like this one, that I can show to my kids and (future) grandkids.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Madness Monday - genealogy in general

Today's madness doesn't involve an ancestor, or a hard-to-read census page, or someone who apparently got married at the age of 13, or anything I normally would gripe about. Today I've got two things that have been driving me mad.

Number one - Geni.com. I uploaded my file there some time ago, thinking it would help me connect with other researchers, and as another backup (I practice at least triple redundancy with my backups now). After a couple weeks, I started getting some 'merge requests'. At first, this was exciting. Finding people who shared my ancestors! Yay! But then I realized - these requests were for people waaaay back in the undocumented part of my file (yes, I fell into the 'download everyone on the internet' trap at one point in my research, and I'm still trying to separate what's accurate from what isn't). For several months I just combined everyone that I thought matched (and most of them did, from what I could tell). But then a few months ago, I got tired of merging all these people who I wasn't even sure were my family any more. So I stopped. Then yesterday, I logged into Geni, just to see how many of these merge requests were pending, and it was over 170! These matches take 3-4 minutes each to do (maybe it's my computer that's slow?) so we're talking several hours of work just to merge these people. I know there are many genealogists who use Geni, perhaps as their sole genealogy database, that my tree is tied to. Now I'm stuck with a dilemma - do I delete my tree completely? Do I let it sit there unused and unmerged? Or do I 'trim' the branches of the unverified families and add them in later as I verify/correct the info? The last one seems like the best way to go, so I might end up going that route, but with all the time it would take to go family by family...ugh. So yeah, I haven't made up my mind on that one.

The other issue I'm having is the funding for my future genealogical eandeavors - I really want to improve my skills (research, writing, networking, the whole she-bang), as well as join a few professional societies - APG (both local and national), BCG, NEHGS, and start subscribing to a few genealogical publications - Family Tree Magazine seems good and affordable, and the more pricey and professional ones like The Genealogist and the NEHGS Register sound very interesting too. I'd also like to renew my Ancestry.com subscription, and maybe try the DNA testing for my paternal and maternal lines. The only problem is - the only way I can afford these things is by selling my truck! Seriously, how do professional genealogists pay for all of this? Unless they make a lot more money than I think they do, or don't care about credit card debt, I don't see how they can afford it. If you have any ideas, tips, tricks, discount coupons, or any other suggestions on how to afford moving towards more professional genealogy research, I'm all ears. Till then, I'll just keep pulling my hair out. :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Follow Friday: My Grandpa

Today I'd like to blog about one of the best genealogical resources I've come across over the last decade of my research - my grandfather, Fred Gibson. He has one of the sharpest memories I've ever seen - he can rattle off 16-digit account numbers, give you his aunt's address from 75 years ago, or name 3 or 4 generations of descendants of his wife's stepfather's first wife's half-sister - all of which I have seen him do! He remembers the funniest old songs and breaks into singing whenever something reminds him of a song. He and my grandma Blossom have been married 62 years (it'll be 63 in November), raised five kids, have 13 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and they stay a part of the lives of each and everyone one of us. I was named after him (we share the same middle name) and I'm proud to 'follow' my grandpa.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Picture time!

I got a call last night from my mom about 8:30. She had some questions about my great-grandma Rosie's second husband, Clarence Morris (whom we all called Unc). I had a little info on him entered in my database, but not a lot. I took a look in the files I'd saved on the Wagner family (the family Unc married into) and compared them to my database. I saw that I hadn't even entered in the censuses I'd looked up on him and his family, including his first wife Blanche (which is one reason I'd taken on the project of going through my files and making sure they were all entered in my database - I knew I'd missed stuff like that). So I took a minute to plug in Blanche's name and a little about her from the census, and added Unc's birthplace while I was talking to my mom about them, and I asked when Blanche died. Mom said she died sometime in the early 70s as Unc had married Rosie in 1976, and that she and Unc had stayed married until Blanche died. I went on to Ancestry.com and saw that she didn't have a record in the SSDI (Social Security Death Index). Fortunately, Ancestry also has a really good death index for Montana, going from 1860 up through 2007. I found Blanche in the index, which gave her death date as 3 July 1971, which fit what my mom had said.

Being the curious little rabbit that I am, I decided to search all of Ancestry (now that I had an approximate date for her birth and exact date of death) and see what I could see. A few entries down the list of hits, I saw a listing for a Blanche Gasser, born in 1906 and died in 1971, and a picture included (the one you see at right). I'd never seen a picture of her before, and didn't know whether this was the right person, so I kept going down the list.

A few lines down, I saw an entry for a Blanche Morris, married to Clarence Rosco Morris, with a death date that exactly matched the Blanche I'd just looked up! Better yet, it had a picture attached to this one as well. I pulled it up, and it looked just like Grandpa Unc (as I'd grown up calling him), only a lot younger and with more hair than I'd ever seen him with. :) I was still on the phone while seeing this, so I told mom what I'd found and quickly emailed her the pictures. She agreed the picture of the couple was indeed Unc. I was pretty excited to have a picture of Unc that was so much earlier than anything I'd seen of him before.
I looked at the family tree of Blache (they didn't have much on Unc, just his mom), and it seems the owner of the tree tied into Blanche's mom's side, as they had several pictures on that side of the family. I emailed the owner of the tree, and look forward to (hopefully) swapping information on our common relatives. I also have some good leads on Blanche now, and can't wait to start digging up info on her. All of this, just in time for Treasure Chest Thursday. :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Michael H. Barrett

Today for Tombstone Tuesday, I'm going to spotlight a slightly more distant relative - my great-grandmother's brother's father-in-law, Michael H. Barrett. I don't know a whole lot about his life, sadly, as I haven't really researched him as thoroughly as I have my more direct ancestors and family. I do know that he and his wife Julia O'Connors were from Ireland, and Michael was born about 1860. He and Julia had at least three children, Thomas, born in 1892 in Minnesota, Julia, born 21 January 1895 also in Minnesota, and Mary Margaret, born about 1907 in Montana. They were Catholic, which I thought was interesting, as I have two direct-line Irish families, one of which was Cathlolic, while the other was Anglican. Makes me wonder how much of the Irish population of western Montana was Catholic. Anyways, Michael died on 9 August 1916 in Anaconda, Montana at age 56. He's buried in Mt. Carmel cemetery in Anaconda, with his wife Julia, daughter Julia, son-in-law Elmer Joseph, and grandaughter Marie Joseph.

What really interests me about this headstone is the imagery used on it. I'm not too familiar with symbols and iconagraphy used by Catholics (I myself am a Latter-day Saint aka Mormon), so when I saw some unfamiliar symbols and phrases on Michael's tombstone, I hit the internet to see what I could learn. For example, on top of Michael's headstone is a cross with the letters 'ihs' inscribed. A quick Google search led me to a page that told me that those letters stand for Ihsus, or the name of Jesus in Greek, and that letters and phrases like this (or in Latin) were most often used by Catholics in the 20th century. This fits this family - a Catholic family from the early 20th century - perfectly.

Another symbol on Michael's tombstone I found intriguing was the one pictured at left - a dove flying over a log and some woodworking tools, and the Latin words "dum tacet clamat". I'd never seen this before, so I did another Google search, which told me this symbol often appears on tombstones of men who were members of a lodge/insurance company called Woodmen of the World. The words mean "though silent, he speaks." I'm not sure what the significance of the phrase is, but I did see that at the bottom of the headstone (you can see it if you click on the first picture) the words "HERE RESTS A WOODMAN OF THE WORLD" are engraved. From what I've read of this group, they offered insurance and help to members, and even paid for their burial and headstones. So Michael was apparently a member of this lodge, and reaped at least one benefit - a nice headstone for himself and his wife.

The last thing I wanted to note about Michael was something that I saw in the plot a little behind and to the side of the main headstone:
It looks like a little mini headstone, with Michael's initials on it. I'm not sure what it was doing there, maybe it was a placemarker until the big headstone arrived? If you know what this could have been for, please post a comment here. I'd love to find out!
So that's Tombstone Tuesday - a little information about Michael H. Barrett, and his interesting headstone.