Monday, October 7, 2013

Madness Monday: Whether He Came to His Right Reason or Mind

General Register, Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital, 1876
After finding out that one of my children’s ancestor’s was a patient in the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital, I wrote to request records from the Ontario Archives in my daughter's name.  After a few weeks, we received a reply with photocopies of pertinent records. The bulk of the information received from the Ontario Archives includes letters written by Eliud’s relatives in Thorold including his wife, brother and mother.
I have worked to piece together information from these records to relate the story of this ancestor. In addition, I recently read Annie’s Ghost by Steve Luxenberg which also helped me understand how persons with mental illness were treated in the past.

At age 39, Eliud Smith, a married farmer of Thorold, Ontario, Canada was charged with being insane and a warrant was ordered to commit him from the Gaol of the County of Welland to the Hamilton Asylum for the Insane, some 33 miles away. The certificate was signed on 16 April 1879.

Upon admission, information was elicited and recorded as to this person charged with being insane (Schedule No. 2):

Names in full and age of prisoner:            Eliud Smith, 39 years old
Occupation, Religion, and Country:          Farmer C. Methodist Canada
Whether married or single:                         Married
How many children, if any:                          4 Children
Address to Parents or nearest
Relative, how connected:                            Thorold P.O. Wellington Smith
How long Prisoner has been
Insane:                                                                 for years at times
Duration of present attack
And whether first:                                           Some three weeks – 3rd attack
How the insanity first
Showed itself and the supposed
Cause:                                                                  Religious excitement
Whether any delusions and if so
What are they:                                                  Has a Great Work to do
Whether the Prisoner is
Suicidal or dangerous to others:                Recently Dangerous
Whether any offense has ever
Been committed:                                             None excepting an assault committed last attack
Whether Prisoner is subject to
Epilepsy or paralysis:                                      Neither
Whether any of the other members
Of the Prisoner’s family suffered in
A similar way or been committed:            No
What have been the habits of the
Prisoner as to temperance, industry,
& general conduct & in what
Manner have they changed:                       has drank at times, hard worker and conduct good.
                                                                                Change taken place in past year.
Whether Prisoner has been subject
To any bodily ailments & nature:               None (has passed a large quantity of tape worm)
Degree of education:                                     Moderate English education
Whether Prisoner is idiotic,
Imbecile or incurable:                                    --------- [line through space for answer]

Listed as #287 on the General Register of the Asylum, Eliud spent 29 years, 6 months and 16 days there.  The register included information taken from Schedule No. 2. Under apparent or alleged cause, there is a comment under “other” rather than “hereditary” but the comment is illegible. “Religion” was listed as the “exciting” factor and the form of mental disorder was listed as “Mania.”

His wife, Wilhelmina, was pregnant with their fifth child. She gave birth to a son, George Arthur, three months later on 21 July 1879. His four siblings included Eliud Wellington age 10, Mary age 9, Ella Louise 6 & Wilhelmina age 2.

Wilhelmina lived with her elderly parents and brother, Robert Lepper, who were farmers in the town of Thorold, Welland County, Ontario, Canada. She and the children were recorded there during the 1881 Canadian Census.

After her parents’ death, she continued to live with her brother Robert as the children married and left home. In the 1901 Canadian Census, just she and George were listed with Robert. Her daughter Wilhelmina married Egerton W. Detlor in March of that year. By 1904, they had the elder Wilhelmina living with them in Niagara Falls South. George married in October of 1903.

In those years, the family wrote letters to inquire as to Eliud’s status.  Excerpts of those letters follow.
One letter dated March 29, 18—[photocopy cut off on edge so the year does not show] reads as follows:

Dear Sir –
I am anxious to hear about my husband Eluid Smith. We got word that he was better and was fit to come home and knowing it to be my duty I now write to you. Please write and let me know how he is and if what I heard is so or not as I am very anxious to hear from him. I remain yours truly. Mrs. Eluid Smith, Thorold, Ontario.

Another letter written to Dr. Wallace on July 17, 1883 reads:
Dear Sir—
Please let me know how my brother Eluid Smith is, mentally and physically. Since my last correspondence with you my dear Father has departed this life after suffering intensely for over a year with a cancer. I don’t think it would be wisdom to tell Eluid of his death, for he always had hopes that Father would remove him from the asylum. Yours, Samuel Smith.

A reply was sent back from Stephen Lett, M.D., the acting medical supt the same day, stating:
Dear Sir—
I beg leave to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 17th inst. Referring to Eliud Smith and in reply would merely state I regret to say there is no change in the mental condition of this patient, he is in fair bodily health at the present time. I will not communicate the sad news to him reported in your last letter. Yours very respectfully.

On November 18, 1885, Eliud’s wife wrote:
Dear Sir. I was up to Hamilton to see my husband the time of the fair and he was glad to see me. I thought he seemed some better. I inquired if he received his clothes that his mother sent him last fall. They said the clothes that was sent to him were old and all patched up. They were all new clothes bought right out of the store. We have sent him two or three suits of clothes that he has never got. It is of no use for us to send him any more clothes when he don’t get wearing them. I wish you would see that he is comfortable this winter. Please write soon and let me know how he is.

She received a reply on November 20th from J.M. Wallace, the Medical Supt:
Dear Madam: I beg leave to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 18th inst. And in reply would state, There is no notable change in your husband’s condition. You state that you sent him two or three suits of clothes that he has never got. It is a very singular thing that you did not try to find out what became of them. If you sent them by express you would receive a receipt each time, and by means of the receipts you could have traced the goods. If you send me the receipts I will try to get some information, but it is remarkable that you have not done so yourself at the proper time. Yours very respectfully, J.M. Wallace.

From the Proceedings and Transactions from the Royal Society of Canada, 1898, digitized from the University of California 17 Nov 2009, page 42:
“On the retirement of Dr. Wallace, owing to ill health, in 1887, Dr. James Russell, the present superintendent, was appointed to the position thus made vacant, and assumed duty August 1st of that year.”

In the files from the archives, a note written by J. Russell states the following:
Eluid Smith
That he is in good bodily health in regard to his mental condition I may say that he is very quiet, works well, but talks very little, sometimes will not speak at all – [illegible] just[?] he is rather stupid[?] and ---- [illegible] I cannot say that he is quite fit to go home. Yours very truly, J. Russell, Med. Supt.

On July 1st, 1895, Eliud’s mother sent a letter to the superintendent of the asylum for the insane:
Dear Sir: Will you kindly inform me as to my son Eliud Smith. How is he physically? Is there any improvement mentally? Is he contented? Does he take any part in the work that is done on the grounds belonging to the institution? I would like to see him but my health will not permit my doing so. His friends would be pleased to realize the hope that he would be himself once more and be restored to his family. Yours. Mrs. Mary M. Smith, Box 103, Thorold, Ont.

The reply letter was typed and dated July 8th:
Dear Madam, In reply to your communication of the 1st inst. Referring to your son. I beg to state that he is in good physical health, but unimproved mentally. He works on the grounds and is very quiet and well behaved. He talks very little and is apparently contented. It is doubtful if he will ever by any better. Yours truly, Med. Supt.

From Niagara Falls South on March 1st, 1904, Mrs. Eliud Smith wrote again to J. Russell Esq.
Write these few lines hoping they will find Mr. E. Smith (my husband) well. I was pleased to see him looking so well when I was up last fall. Please let him know I have written to you about him hoping he is well and that if nothing preventing I will be up to see him again this fall if not before. Trusting to hear from you soon. Remain Yours. Mrs. Eliud Smith.

A reply was typed March 2, 1904: Re E. Smith. Dear Madam, Your husband is enjoying his usual good health, and I am sure he will be glad to have a visit from you as soon as it is convenient. I shall let him know that I have heard from you and will also ask him if he would like to hear from you directly. Yours truly, Med. Supt.

Another letter inquiring to Eliud’s health was written by his wife in March of 1907 with an address of Niagara Falls South, c/o Mr. Egerton Detlor. A reply was typed March 16, 1907 to say that “he is enjoying good health and otherwise unchanged.” Again a typed reply was sent in reply to her inquiry on Jan. 24, 1908 stating that her husband “is very well physically but quite unchanged mentally. “

Some months later, a short note was written on the back of a visitors order sheet:
Mrs. Eliud Smith, Niagara Falls South, c/o E.W. Detlor
Your husband is dead. Please arrange for burial.
W. M. English
Collect 12/11/08

Eliud’s wife once again wrote a letter:
December 8, 1908
Dear Sir—
Just a few lines in regard to my Husband Mr. Eluid Smith. Being his death was so sudden I write as I would like to know as to whether he came to his right reason or mind and if he spoke of me or any of the children. I understand congestion of the liver was cause of death. Is that right? We all sincerely thank you for all kindness towards him. Remain Yours Truly, Mrs. Eluid Smith, Niagara Falls South, Ont. c/o. Mr. E.W. Detlor
Please write soon. P.S. Enclosed find a stamp for answer to letter.

The typed reply was dated Dec. 10th, 1908:
re Elind Smith, deceased.
Dear Madam,-

Regarding your husband’s death – there was no mental change preceding it. He did not speak at all and had scarcely uttered a word for years. Death came very suddenly and was due to acute inflammation of the bladder. Yours truly. Med. Supt. 


Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital 1890s facade

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Siblings Saturday: Children of Emigration

Kornelis Bolhuis & probably Hilje Vos, his third wife
I wrote in My Dutch Heritage, that according to kin related to the Timmer family in the Netherlands, Kornelis Bolhuis advised his children to leave Europe and emigrate to America. All but the oldest daughter did so. 

Family here in America stated that after the marriage of my great-grandparents, Martha Bolhuis and John Timmer, in 1906, they emigrated to the United States for their honeymoon with Martha's brother and sisters. 
John Timmer, 1906

A check of the online Ellis Island records showed that John and Martha arrived in America on 5 June 1906 on the ship called Ryndam, from the town of Stedum in the Netherlands. Martha's brother Gerrit Bolhuis and sister Johanna Bolhuis were also listed on the ship's manifest. A record of Winnie's immigration was not readily located, either by her maiden name or married name. The 1930 Census for Georgetown Township in Ottawa County, Michigan indicates that Dick and Winnie (Bolhuis) Dyke emigrated in 1908.

Online records from the Netherlands give the marriage date for John and Martha as May 14, 1906. These photographs of them were taken in the Netherlands. They are identified as John and Martha and their ages are written as 26 and 21 respectively. These then were likely taken around the time of their marriage

Martha Bolhuis-Timmer, 1906






I also have this wedding photograph of Gerrit Bolhuis and his bride Gerritdena Dijkema. They were married in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan on May 14, 1914.
Gerrit Bolhuis & Gerritdena Dijkema, Grand Rapids, MI 1914

I do not have any photographs of Winnie or Dick Dyke and until recently, this newspaper clipping was the only photograph I had of Johanna.
Martin DeVries & Johanna Bolhuis-DeVries, 1969


Just recently, a new cousin found me through this blog. She is descended from Kornelis' daughter Johanna who later married her cousin Martin DeVries. She graciously shared some photographs of the family, including this one below showing Johanna, Marten and two of their sons. The cousin estimated the photo was likely taken around 1911 or 1912 and said that her grandfather (the taller of the children in the photo) told her that the other gentleman in the photo was a cousin visiting from the Netherlands. I don't know the identity of this cousin. He is likely a DeVries and I will have to leave that mystery to a DeVries researcher. There were probably several other family members who emigrated as well, but my focus at the time was just on Bolhuis and Timmer. 


Johanna Bolhuis-DeVries, Cornelius DeVries, Edward/Egbert DeVries, Martin DeVries
(man on left identified only as "a cousin visiting from the Netherlands"), taken in Wisconsin ca. 1911-12



Monday, September 30, 2013

Military Monday: French & Indian War



When it comes to my father’s side of the family, I’ve always told people that no one went past the Mason-Dixon line. They were all Southern as Southern can be, mainly in Virginia and Kentucky, especially the Watts family. So it’s somewhat ironic to me that I ended up marrying a man from the North and eventually settling there to raise my family.

The Watts family originated in Halifax County, Virginia and there was mention of the surname as far back as the formation of the county in 1752. And that’s basically where I’m stuck on that particular line. I traced all the Wattses in that county back to one progenitor, Samuel Watts, who first bought land there in 1775. I speculate from tax records that he was born about 1738. I descend from his eldest son Thomas M. Watts who was born about 1765.

I know nothing of Samuel’s origins, other than he might be English. Of course that far back, he had to come from somewhere unless he was Native American, which does not appear to be the case. The only other clue I have is the fact that in April of 1780, he appeared before the Halifax County court and made oath that he had been an inhabitant of Virginia for many years. He stated he was recruited within the same and served as a common soldier in the First Virginia Regiment. He was under Captain Thomas Bullet “in the last war” and he served until discharged from his commanding officer. (Halifax County, Virginia Pleas, No. 10, p. 130: microfilm of original.)

I have a note from my early research that I took down the following from a book at a library in Tampa, FL: “Samuel Watts rec’d military certificate 1014 on 19 May 1780 for service in Dunmore War from Halifax Co, VA and served in 1st VA regiment under Capt Thomas Bullet (VA Land Ofc Records),” but I did not properly record the source. Crozier’s Virginia Colonial Militia states much the same as the County Plea Book and gives a date of 21 April 1780. The Virginia State Library’s List of the Colonial Soldiers of Virginia shows Samuel Watts bk. 2, p. 467 in the French and Indian Bounty Warrants, 2 manuscript volumes. Bockstruck’s Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers lists a warrant for 50 acres issued to Samuel Watts, a solder in the 1st Virginia Rgmt under Capt Thomas Bullet 21 April 1780 Halifax Co.  Bockstruck explained that eight months after the Treaty of Paris closed the French and Indian War, King George III issued a proclamation whereby men who served in military units from 1754 until disbanded were entitled to bounty land and that the same proclamation became the basis for soldiers seeking bounty land after Lord Dunmore’s War. Further, in May 1779 the Virginia Legislature placed a time limit of twelve months on receiving such land. The claimant had to produce a certificate from Lord Dunmore while he was the Royal Governor or from the county court before which proof of military service had been made and that most of the bounty land was in the western section of Virginia (i.e., Kentucky).

All this research was done nearly twenty years ago and just seemed to go circular without expanding my knowledge. I didn’t have access to any other resources that could help me go further. In fact I lacked the genealogical skills to go further in colonial Virginia. I don’t have a firm grasp in my mind about this time period. When I thought of the French and Indian War, I guess I just imagined this took place in the hills of Virginia.

The place where I transplanted my roots is next door to the Seneca Indian reservation. I am sure the valley I live in was once a place the Haudenosaunee called home as well. There is a rich history here to learn and I did some of my undergraduate work on Native American culture. In fact the faith community of which I am a part is led by a native Mohawk. I count many in that community as friends, although I have encountered others who still struggle with feelings of distrust of us who identify as white. I try to be sensitive to those feelings. I realize that I cannot walk in their shoes, but I hope to seek to understand and perhaps bear respectful witness to some of their experience. I was disconcerted once several years ago to hear one talk of what he went through at an Indian boarding school. What I thought was old history was still a living memory.

It was at the local library on this reservation where the other day I picked up the book Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir which I reviewed in this post here. Ever since my undergraduate research for my paper on Handsome Lake, I have been interested in learning more about Native American history. These pictures were taken on a local trip with a friend whose father descended from Handsome Lake and Cornplanter’s family, although I did not know of his connections at the time I wrote the paper. An odd thing happened after I wrote the paper though. I had a brief dream of driving down a road with beach sand on either side and was marveling at this sight. A few weeks later on a rainy day in August, I read about a planetarium in Erie, PA and decided to take my children there for a Saturday outing. We went to lunch afterwards and I found a pamphlet about a lighthouse on Presque Isle, a state park in the area. I thought it would be neat to see, so we drove over to check it out. What a sense of déjà vu I had when we drove in and around the isle and discovered lovely beach areas on both sides. I had read how Handsome Lake had taken a group of Europeans to explore the island once but I never really connected anything with the trip. It just seemed odd to me. 

Another book I picked up at the local library was about another Native American called Guyasuta of Haudausaunee origin. I have not heard of him before, but the author started discussing the French and Indian War, mentioning Lord Dunmore’s War as well.

Wait, was there a connection to my Samuel Watts? I got online and typed in CaptainThomas Bullitt. Between Wikipedia and a couple of other sites, I discovered that Captain Bullitt was indeed past the Mason-Dixon line (Yes, I know that term was not in existence until the Civil War, some one hundred years later). Bullitt led forces in the early skirmishes in the Battle of Great Meadows, the march against Fort Duquesne with the Braddock Expedition and again at the Battle of Monogahela on July 9, 1755. At the end of the war in 1763, Thomas Bullitt became adjutant general of the state militia. In 1773, Governor Dunmore authorized Bullitt to organize a party to survey northern and eastern Kentucky. Bullitt gathered a group of about forty men and tried to maintain peaceful relations with the Indians, even traveling to speak with Chief Cornstalk of the Shawnee. In 1775, when Governor Dunmore took his last stand, Bullitt was part of the forces that assembled for the Battle of Great Bridge and by the end of December 1775, Bullitt was promoted to Colonel.


I am still unsure whether Samuel was in just Lord Dunmore’s War in 1775, took part in the other battles or both. I don’t know how to go about finding out right now, but I find the possibility intriguing that unbeknownst to me, my ancestor may have been closer than I thought. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Book Review: Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir




2013 by Deborah A. Miranda
Paperback, 6 x 9, 240 pagesISBN: 978-1-59714-201-4


Author Deborah Miranda writes in the introduction to this book: “Human beings have no other way of knowing that we exist, or what we have survived, except through the vehicle of story.” She also states, “My ancestors, collectively, are the story-bridge that allows me to be here. I am honored to be one of the bridges back to them, to their words and experiences.”

I love how Deborah Miranda has taken all the pieces she has of her family history and woven them together in this story. Using old government documents, BIA forms, field notes, diaries of explorers and priests, photographs, family stories and genealogy work her mother had done, she created a beautiful tribute to her ancestors and allowed their voices to be heard along with her own voice in the form of poems and commentary that are insightful and moving. It’s not always pretty and some parts may be disturbing, but she tells the truth of her personal history and is able to hold in her hands the bad and the good of a person with dignity and honor.

Every family has a story no matter what form it may take. And every family has someone who seems destined to tell it. I believe Deborah Miranda knew that she was the one.

I have always felt strongly that I was called in some way to be one who tells the story as well and the bridge image or metaphor resonates with me personally. I wrote in the preface of my chronicle of the Hardy family: “…I am happy knowing that I played a part in bridging the gap between the future and the past.”

For those of you with an interest in Native American history, read this book. For those of you with an interest in genealogy, read this book. For those of you with an interest in historical trauma, read this book. For those of you who can relate to being the family story-teller, read this book. For those of you who can relate to a past that includes domestic violence, read this book. For those of you who can relate to being human in an imperfect world, read this book. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Bringing the Youngest Home to What is Oldest


"...of all the nostalgias that haunt the human heart, the greatest of them all is an everlasting longing to bring what is youngest home to what is oldest."
                                                              ---Laurens van der Post

Monday, September 9, 2013

Granny's Albums


I wrote so much about the encounter with a group of old photo albums in my last post that I didn’t have time to discuss the photo project I started working on. In light of how those old photo albums were treated, I took another look at more recent family photo artifacts. My children’s paternal great-grandmother passed away in 2001. Like with my grandparents, during visits I would often sit with Granny Westfall and go through her photo albums and quiz her about family history. After her death, one of her sons lent me her albums to go through. There’s about six or seven old “magnetic” photo albums that are filled with snapshots and other photographs mostly of her children and their children. She had ten children altogether and most of them went on to rear families so she had a lot of descendants. I was touched to see in one album where she carefully added the first photograph of my oldest child along with the birth announcement I sent to her.

In a few places, some photos had already been removed when I got the chance to go through them. Again, someone likely took them because of their connections to that part of the family history. Maybe it was their baby photos. And to confess, when I first got the albums, I started going through them for the oldest known photos to add to my family files. But I realized that the order and arrangement that they were in were important as well. For instance, Granny had systematically put together this collage of photos of her late husband in one of the albums.



Some are these are pretty old including a school photo of him as a boy. Since he was a direct ancestor, I was interested in those. Instead of just taking them out of the album for my family files, I decided to scan a copy of the photo album page first and then take it apart. These more historical photos need to be better preserved as Granny had put the collage together using scotch tape. Scotch tape is not archival-friendly and the chemicals will eventually eat away at these rare images. But I want her descendants to know how she honored the memory of her husband with the page she created.


And someday the other images will be rare and I think it will be important to share them in their entirety so I have started scanning each album page by page. I’m hoping that each individual photo in each of the album pages can later be cropped for printing individually as well without having to rescan them. There are seven albums altogether. I have one completely finished and it didn’t really take that long. I worked on it perhaps two hours or less. One of the albums is all about her trip to Germany and I may leave out the tourist-y ones. Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Window to the Past

Are you a stranger without even a name,
Enclosed and forgotten behind the glass frame,
In an old photograph, torn and battered and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?
-- Eric Bogie




Once when I was a child, I laid down my mother’s long wardrobe mirror on the floor and stared into it to find another world. The ceiling was the floor in this world and everything was a mirror image of reality. I so wanted to step into that world and explore the odd dimensions of it. To me, old photographs are also like staring into another world, they are a window to the past.

I’ve written before about old photographs and my work with them. They played a prominent role early on in my family history quest. I would sit down with a box of old photographs and quiz my grandfather on each of the images. He was in his 90s at the time. I remember showing one photograph of a gentleman and his family to my grandfather and having him lean in close and whispered, “He was a bastard.” Gee, I thought, I guess my grandfather didn’t really care for this man. Turns out what he was whispering was the truth, the man had been born out of wedlock and was indeed labeled a bastard. Even my grandfather had lived in a different world where such things spoken of in hushed tones.

Some of the photographs in the box however, were older than even my grandfather’s and so I turned to other means to help identify them. One book I found on identifying old photographs was Lenore Frost’s (see my bibliography on identifying old photographs here). The author emphasized working with the album as a whole for identification clues. Over this summer, a couple of encounters with old photo albums led me to start working on another photo project in an attempt to preserve more family history artifacts.

For the last several years, my former father-in-law, Gerald Westfall, and his siblings have held a family reunion for their immediate family and each year I bring the family history stuff I have worked on. There used to be another family reunion hosted at the farm of a distant cousin, Francis Andera, that included more extended family but Francis passed on and that reunion tradition died out. There are very few who even remember how any one is even related anymore. The branches have spread too far out from the original source. My children attend school with some of their fourth cousins but you have to have the family tree chart out to go back to figure out the common ancestor of whom the children certainly have no recollection or knowledge of.

Anyway, that distant cousin’s grandmother was a Westfall but the reunion included the Trautman and Ploetz families and we started calling it the Trautman/Ploetz/Westfall (TPW) reunion. Um, let’s see, even I have to go back to my family files and figure it out: Augusta Westfall married Carl Ploetz and their son Martin married Louise Trautman. Their daughter Caroline was the mother of Francis. At one of the TPW reunions, Francis shared with me a photograph of Gerald Westfall’s grandmother taken in the 1950s or 1960s. Francis told me it was taken at a family reunion that was held back then. I used the copy machine there at the farm to make a copy of that one and another one of Carl and Augusta Ploetz for my family files. The photographs were part of some old photo albums that Francis had. I believe they came from his mother Caroline, but she died in the year 2000 and I had only met her briefly.

Now it’s 2013 and I live in the house across from that farm where the family reunions used to be held. It’s been at least four years since the last one. Not long ago, I asked Francis’s widow if I could look at the box of old family photos again. My intent was to make a better copy of those original photos for my family files. She lent me the box that appears to be originally Caroline’s stuff. It includes, among other things, a bible of hers with some newspaper clippings inside, a lot of loose snapshot photos and three old photograph albums. Putting the other items aside, I was eager to look through the albums for those pictures.

But they are no longer there.

The photo albums have been ravaged. It appears that someone went through and took a lot of the photos out. It makes me sad. There is now no order. No coherent story is really left to tell. Someone went through the trouble to put the albums together, but someone else took what they wanted and left the rest. Now I understand this is not exclusively my family history and for the person or persons who took the photos, they probably did it because of their connections to that part of the family history. But I feel bad because I’m interested in the family as a whole and preserving the legacy. And some of the names and stories will now no longer be told.



Some months after going through those old photographs with my grandfather, I found the tombstone of the gentleman my grandfather called a “bastard.” Beside his grave marker was one for his wife and then several for their children who had died young. I felt sad because it appeared that his line had died out. In later research though, I discovered there was a happier ending. The gentleman and his wife had several additional children (one even became a minister) who lived to adulthood and continued the family line.


I hope there’s a happy ending with the photograph albums. Maybe someone has taken the photos and used them to put together a more comprehensive family file. I hope so.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bloggers Dilemma



I have a dilemma. I don’t have time to keep this blog fresh. It’s dear to my heart, though, and I don’t want to abandon it forever. It’s just that life is so daily right now and I have to reserve time for the living. I anticipate that I won’t always be this busy, but for the foreseeable future, probably. My children are in their late teens/early adult years and well, that takes up a lot of my time. I can see myself working on getting them launched for the next 5+ years. Add to that a somewhat demanding day job and other outside obligations and here I am posting some five months after my last one.

But sometimes I still have some great ideas for blog posts. And I’m always one binder away from delving into the pastime of family history. It’s just that my time for such things does not stretch for days on end as it once did. Instead I can only snatch minutes here and there, sometimes longer stretches, but the time in between when I can’t fit it in at all can turn into a span of weeks and months.

I don’t know what the proper blog protocol is. Can I keep it as is and just add to it when I can? It still attracts cousins every now and then with the content already there. Should I revamp it to incorporate guest bloggers or other posts? Should I just ask other genealogy bloggers if I could guest blog when I do have a good blog post idea?

What’s a blogger to do? Again I’m not sure what proper protocol but I may just do what I can when I can and call it enough. Any suggestions or comments are appreciated!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Census Sunday: Where I came to my senses


Census, senses. I wrote a quick post after a quick look at a census a little while ago (see 
Workday Wednesday: Doll house work in the 1880s?).  But I jumped to the wrong conclusions. As reader Wendy pointed out in her comment, it doesn’t say “doll house work”, it says “does house work”.  I went back to do a little more research after the post and noted that there were about five women between the ages of 17 and 73 on that page and the next that appeared to have the same occupation but I still misunderstood what it said. There were other entries where women were noted to be “keeping house” so I assumed that these five women were doing something else. In these instances, though, the women that “did housework” as opposed to “keeping house” were not the primary women of the household nor were any of them the wife of the head of household.  I made a chart in OneNote showing this:

House #257
Fanny Maxson, age 22, married but living with her father William Langworthy
House #260
Louisa Champlin, age 32, living with her mother Mrs. Sarah Champlin
House #266
Charlotte Jackson, age 22, living with father-in-law Thomas Jackson
House #267
Emma Mills, age 17, living with uncle Edward Percival
House #274
Luraney Trowbridge, age 73, living with brother-in-law Harlow Hopkins

It wasn’t until I used OneNote to clip a screenshot of the actual census entry for each of the households that I noticed that the word I mistook for “doll” was “does”. It was an easy mistake and I meant no harm by it, but it certainly could perpetuate an inaccuracy.

1880 U.S. Census, Portville, Cattaraugus Co, NY, p. 69
(A big thank-you to fellow blogger Heather Kuhn Roelker for sharing the snipping tool tip with me so I could share this image on my blog!)

This example of misinterpretation can also serve as a caution to history researchers, though. Be careful how you interpret things! Because I have an interest in dollhouses, that’s the first conclusion I came to. As historical researchers, even those just “dabbling” in family history, we have to make sure that we are interpreting history correctly. We may think we are just pointing out the facts, but historical research is more than that.

I quote Mark Flowers on his blog post The Uses of History regarding Davidson and Lytle’s book, After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection (which I highly recommend)

“the purpose of their book is to show that history is not simply ‘what happened in the past.’ Instead, in Davidson and Lytle’s view, history is an active process of selecting evidence, analyzing documents, using a variety of political theories, and more. The purpose of a good historical work, then, is not to simply convey the exact facts of everything that happened in the past, but to provide a framework and theory for understanding how and why those things happened.”  


http://www.flickr.com/photos/field_museum_library/3333082739/
South Colonnade, arches and statues by Henry Hering. Statue representing Research, with magnifying glass, and a statue representing Record, woman holding a book. Overview of south arch on the second floor area. Field Museum of Natural History interior. 1922.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sibling Saturday: The Ties That Bind


I checked out the most recent daily blogging prompts from GeneaBloggers and found some new ones to work with. I was particularly excited about Sibling Saturday and noted the relevance of it for what’s going on in my life right now.

I am visiting my sister in Michigan to help with family events going on right now. For one, my great-nephew (my sister’s grandson) just welcomed his new baby brother into the world on Tuesday. He is enamored with him and doesn’t want to go anywhere without "his baby." His parents are very happy that this five-year-old is so taken with his new sibling and shows no jealousy at all. (I say props to the parents for doing a nice job of being mindful in the raising of their children).

Last year, my sister had my mother and my brother move in her to help care for them. My mother had a stroke some 20+ years ago. She successfully lived on her own for a number of years, but her strength no longer allows her to live without assistance. My brother has Down’s Syndrome and also cannot live alone. My niece commented that while I am visiting, my mother has all of her children under one roof. I am so glad this works.

I am the product of a second marriage for both my parents and my youngest brother Bryant (the one with Down’s Syndrome) is my only full sibling. I have one half-sister from my mother (with whom I am staying with) and a half-sister and half-brother from my father. I spent the majority of time growing up with my youngest brother, but at various times, my other siblings were around. My mother’s first daughter is thirteen years older than I am and left home to be married when I was five. My father’s first children were raised by their mother for the most part, although they stayed with us from time to time.

While going through old photos here at my sister’s, I found a rare one of me and both of my brothers as we’re waiting for the school bus.  




Our siblings. They resemble us just enough to make all their differences confusing, and no matter what we choose to make of this, we are cast in relation to them our whole lives long.
--Susan Scarf Merrell

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Workday Wednesday: Doll house work in the 1880s?

1880 Census, Portville, Cattaraugus Co, NY


I mentioned in a previous blog post about my other hobby of miniatures and dollhouses. I recently ran across an unusual occupation in the 1880 census while doing some work for a client (although genealogy is just a hobby/avocation, I sometimes take on client projects as time permits).

As shown above (although I apologize as this is not the greatest image to share), Fanny Maxson’s occupation was listed as that of “Dollhouse work” in the 1880 U.S. Census. I have never run across an occupation such as this before. My first thought was that maybe she did not function intellectually at her stated age (and therefore did not do real housework, only played with dolls). On second thought, though, it appears that she was married since she has a different surname than that of her father with whom she was living. I am unsure at this point, more research is needed. Unfortunately, this was not the correct family I was looking for and will have to set it aside to pursue another time. Oh, Fanny, what secrets do you hold?

I would love to hear more about any unusual occupations from census records. If anyone has any examples or ideas as to what Fanny might have been doing in 1880, please share!

Plus, if there are any blogging buddies that can help: I can't seem to find a good way of sharing census images on my blog. I had a portion of the above census captured to a One Note file and tried to blog it that way, but the actual image part didn't show up. Any assistance is appreciated!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Military Monday: Union vs. Confederate



This photograph is labeled D-3 from my photograph collection. The complete case measures approximately 1 ½ x 1 ½ inches in size. The hook that keeps the case closed is missing. The left side of the case is lined with red velvet. The right side houses a small tintype. The inside mat has flowers with six long petals in each corner and the same vine all around. The outer mat has oval cameo shapes in each corner. The subject is a young man in Union military dress wearing a cap and a jacket. The Union uniform is different from the Confederate uniform shown here at this blog post. There are five or six large buttons down the front of the jacket and possible markings on the shoulder although it is hard to distinguish. There may also be a belt buckle showing just under the last button. His hands are not visible. There is a thumbprint on the left-hand side of the photograph. I assume it is from the photographer when it was developed. The subject is young and looks clean-shaven unless the high furry collar is actually a beard. He has a more square-shaped face with dark eyes and full lips. His nose is thin and widens just at the end. His hair is midway past his ears.


This next photograph is labeled B-17 from my collection and serves as an introduction to Album B from my photograph inventory (see here). It was also given to me by Norman Vaughan from his mother Ruby Hardy Vaughan’s collection.


The photographs from this album are mostly cartes de visites (CDVs) and CDV tintypes (refer to the photo identification post here). The subject is also in military uniform and probably a Union officer.

Information on dating CDVs from Darrah’s book (p. 194) provides two clues to help date this photograph:

.016 thickness, white with a border of two gilt lines dates it to 1861-1869
Seated figure ¾ to full length with plain background dates it 1860-1868, rarely later.

This date further solidifies the notion that the subject wears a Civil War uniform. One person commented that he may have lost a leg. I think his leg is just crossed over the other one. He wears a longer jacket of darker material than his pants. There are at least eight large buttons down the front. The second through fifth button is unbuttoned and he has his hand inserted into his jacket (Napoleonic pose). The jacket also has at least three buttons on the cuffs. There is also some type of epaulets at the shoulders. A white shirt is peeking out at the neck. This is an older gentleman with lines on his face, a wide nose, thin lips and dark eyes. Very squared jaw. His hair is dark, parted and smoothed over to one side, not very long. He sits sideways in a chair with one arm propped on the top of the ladder back. 

Darrah, William C. Cartes de Visites in Nineteenth Century Photography. Gettysburg, PA: privately published, 1981.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sorting Saturday: Ambrotype #2


In continuation of my photograph sorting project: I mentioned this photograph which I have labeled D-1 from my collection in this post.  As I said, the case in which this image is housed is identical to D-2. The one detail I did not mention was size: the case is approximately 3 inches x 3 inches in size. (Rinhart’s description of this same case gives a measurement of 3 5/8” x 3 1/8”.) The mat for this image is different from D-2. This metal matting is called a “nonpareil” mat with paisley shapes in the corners. The outside metal matting has stars in each corner and four in each mid-section.

Ambrotype ca. 1865


To help you understand all the parts of cased images, it might be helpful to view this Youtube video by the Minnesota Historical Society in which actual cased images (daguerreotypes and tintypes in this example) are pulled apart and viewed in detail. This video, by photo curator Diane Adams-Graf, is just over three minutes in length.  See also my blog post on photo identification.

This particular image is an ambrotype, meaning the image is produced on glass. Ambrotypes are usually dated between 1854-1865. As one of the subjects in this image appears to be wearing a Confederate uniform, that helps date it to the 1865 time period. The subjects are two young men with no beards. They share similar facial characteristics and may have been brothers close in age. Twins run in the Hardy family but other people have said they do not feel these are identical twins. The young man on the left has on what looks like a Confederate soldier’s jacket, with rows of buttons (gilded by the photographer.) Two buttons are undone near the bottom, bringing to mind a Napoleonic pose.  The collar goes up the neck and has two more buttons on either side. The cuff has a chevron or v-shaped emblem (maybe of gold braid). There is possibly of an undershirt underneath that appears just past this sleeve. This may be what shows around the neckline as well. This subject has a narrow chin, oval-shaped face with hair halfway down his ears and smoothed back on top. I would almost say that his hands are folded in his lap but the image is not clear. You can see the fingers of his right hand but not so much of the left hand. Is he holding something?

The young man on the right sports a somewhat different hairdo with the hair on top made to stick straight up and twisted, although the length is roughly the same as the other one. He also has a narrow chin (which may recede) and his eyes appear somewhat drooped. He wears a dark suit jacket that is hardly distinguishable from the waistcoat which is buttoned midline with four buttons. He wears a white shirt underneath with a narrow pointed collar. He also wears a knotted bowtie. His hands are not visible.

Ambrotype of two brothers, ca. 1865
The original image was given to me by my father's cousin Norman Vaughan in about 1995. It was among items his mother, Ruby Hardy Vaughan, owned. She had many family items from her grandmother Martha Sizemore Hardy of Christian County, Kentucky. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: The Joshua L. Hardy Family Bible Record

Following are the digital images and transcription of the Joshua L. Hardy Family Bible Record. The bible was originally in possession of Ruby Hardy Vaughan, the granddaughter of William Lewis Hardy mentioned in the records and copied by myself on May 8, 1991 (as noted in my handwriting on the first scan below.) After Ruby's death, her granddaughter Rita Vaughan inherited it. 


Mrs. Martha S. Hardy. Bible Bought of Glass. July 16th in the year 1884.

Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments: translated out of the original tongues; and with the former translations diligently compared and revised. New York: American Bible Society, instituted in the year MDCCCXVI. 1883.

[Contemporary note: In possession of Ruby Vaughn, granddaughter, copied 8 May 1991. R(esearch)#58]



William Lewis Hardy died Feb 28, 1957
Family Record. Marriages.
Joshua L. Hardy and Martha S. Sizemore was married the 28 of September 1854
John James Hardy and etter Anderson was married the 9 1892 November
Elizabeth V Hardy and W.C. Gross was married Dec 25 1892
Mary A. Hardy and J. L. Saddler was married Nov 7, 1894
John J Hardy and Nora Goode was married Jan the 19 1896
William L. Hardy and Alice Lovelace was married Nov 14, 1897




Family Record. Births.
Joshua L. Hardy was born the 25 of November 1827
Martha S. Hardy was born the 29 of September 1835
Sarah J. Hardy was born the 13 of September 1855
Elizabeth V. Hardy was born the 19 of June 1858
Mary A. Hardy was born the 27 of September 1861
Infant Daughter not named was born the 25 of March 1864
Infant Daughter not named was born the 19 of June 1865
John J. Hardy was born the 13 of October 1867
Eliza E. Hardy was born the 24 of April 1871
William L. Hardy was born the 6 of June 1874
Thomas H. Hardy was born the 8 of November 1878


Mary A. Sadler died the [-] of June 1941
Family Record. Deaths.
Infant Daughter not named departed this life the 25 of March 1864
Infant Daughter not named departed this life the 20 of June 1865
Sarah J. Hardy departed this life the 19 of December 1876
Thomas H. Hardy departed this life the 25 of March 1879
Eliza E. Hardy departed this life Feb the 25 1891
Joshua L. Hardy departed this life May 26, 1892
Martha S. Hardy departed this life May the 23 1915
Elizabeth V. Gross died the 1 day of March 1934

John J. Hardy departed this life Jan 15, 1938



I have read through this Book I began the 1 day of January 1891. Ended the 28 of January 1892. Mary Annie Hardy. Passed away June 3, 1941.