Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday's Faces From the Past: Herbert H. Halbert, Photographer

HERBERT H. HALBERT (June 1853-After 1910)

Ellicottville (Cattaraugus Co), NY: September 1888 – August 1889
Sandusky (Cattaraugus Co), NY: 1889
Strykersville (Wyoming Co), NY: 1889-1890
Lancaster (Erie Co), NY: April 1891 (studio burned in 1894-1895); 1900
Warsaw (Wyoming Co),NY: 1894-1895 (Tuttle’s Block)
Buffalo (3rd ward) (Erie Co), NY: 1900s

There were ads for tin types being made in the Heunerfeld Photo Rooms in the Ellicottville Post during the year 1889. These were likely done by the photographer, H.H. HALBERT. HALBERT took out an ad in the Ellicottville Post on September 19, 1888 stating that he had leased the studio in the Huenerfeld Building. Several mentions were made in March of 1889 that folks like John Ehmans of West Valley and C.H. Rider of Great Valley and his school group had their photos taken by H.H. HALBERT. (Charles Rider was listed as the Sugartown District teacher in another news article.)

                In May 1889, there was more news about the photographer HALBERT. One mention said that he was in the town of Perry on business and that Mrs. HALBERT “who is an expert artist” had charge of the studio during his absence. There were remarks that he was in Bradford, PA making views and crowded with work making views of residences, railway locomotives, section gangs “and the like.”

                By August of 1889, HALBERT must have decided to relocate for there was a story that M.H. STEWART (see the post here about photographer M.H. Stewart) had bought out the photographer HALBERT and stated that HALBERT would return to his gallery in Sandusky (Cattaraugus County, New York). In November there was a notice that H.H. HALBERT of Sandusky had leased a gallery in Strykersville, NY where he planned to locate. His photograph studio there was mentioned in January of 1890 as well.

                In April of 1891, HALBERT once again relocated as it was noted that he opened a studio in Lancaster, Erie County, New York. It was also mentioned that Mrs. HALBERT was visiting her father in Perry at the time.

                In about 1894, there was a note that H.H. HALBERT who formerly had a photograph studio there in Ellicottville, “had his studio at Lancaster burned, destroying everything. “ It was probably later that year or the next when there was a notice in the Warsaw, Wyoming County (NY) Times that Photographer H.H. HALBERT of Lancaster would open a gallery in Tuttle’s Block. He was described as a “fine workman in his line.”

                Herbert H. HALBERT, photographer, is found in the town of Lancaster (Erie Co), New York during the 1900 census. His wife was Hattie and his 22-year-old son Arthur was also listed as a photographer. Herbert was born in Virginia in June of 1853 according to this census. He is listed with four other photographers in the third ward of the city of Buffalo in 1910.

                A historical sketch found online at suggests that Herbert was the son of Henry S. Halbert and his second wife Mary Graham who were married at the town of Pavilion (Genesee County), New York. Henry relocated to Fairfax County, Virginia near Centerville where Herbert was born. The family moved back to Western New York by 1863 when Henry S. Halbert was appointed postmaster of the village of Pavilion Center. 

Shown below are digital copies of four cabinet cards with Halbert's imprint in Ellicottville, New York. While only one is positively identified, from the information gleaned on Halbert's whereabouts, we know for sure that all of these were taken between 1888-1889. 

Ewart Jolly, born 28 Jan 1888
Everett Collection
Unknown couple, taken 1888-1889
Everett Collection

Unknown woman, taken 1888-1889
Ellicottville Historical Society
Unknown woman and young girl, taken 1888-1889
Ellicottville Historical Society

Note the same prop is used in the photos of Ewart Jolly and the unknown couple and the same backdrop is used for all three of the full-length portraits.  

Update April 2016: In March, I received an anonymous reply to this post stating that there was a cabinet card done by Halbert while in Lancaster, New York at the New Zealand museum and digitized here:
I sent an inquiry to the museum to inquire if there was any additional information on the back of the photograph. A quick reply from museum staff let me know that they checked the verso (back) and found it blank. I am not sure how they were able to determine the photograph was done by Herbert Halbert for sure (his son was a photographer there in 1900). 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gold Star Mother's Day

Last night I finished reading A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith. The novel is set in the 1930s and is a story about five Gold Star Mothers who travel to France to visit the graves of their WWI soldier sons. When I downloaded it to read on my Kindle, I vaguely recalled that Granny Westfall's mother, Anna Coughell Smith, was a Gold Star Mother.

After I finished the book, I jumped online and googled Gold Star Mothers to learn more about the history. Interestingly enough, the last Sunday in September was designated as "Gold Star Mother's Day" by a proclamation approved by Congress in June of 1936.

Shown here in a postcard pose with Niagara Falls in the background is Anna Coughell and her husband Eliud Smith. According to an inscription on the back of the original photo, this was taken in 1916 on a trip back to their native Niagara Falls, Canada for the funeral of Egerton Detler, Eliud's brother-in-law. Eliud and his family immigrated to the U.S. on 7 February 1911. In an interview I had with her a few years before her death, Eliud's daughter Mabel (Granny Westfall) recalled walking over the bridge when they moved. She was just under five years old.

In that interview, she also told me that her Smith grandparents "had a little house with a cemetery where my mother buried her first child." This child was George Wellington Smith born 18 September 1893 in Stamford, Welland County, Ontario, Canada and died 18 February 1894.

Eliud and Anna's next child was also a son, Edward Eliud Smith, who was born in Stamford on 18 December 1895. This picture postcard of him indicates that he died 9 August 1918 in France. Another family researcher had information that he was buried at Le Quesnel Communal Cemetery Extension in France.

So today, I honor the memory of those who served and died in service to their country and the loved ones left behind to mourn their loss.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ted's Treasures: My Favorite Grandma Story

For tonight's Saturday Night Genealogical Fun, here's a grandma story:

If she were still alive, my maternal grandmother would have been 101 years old a couple of days ago on September 22. She was the fourth of six children born to a native of Friesland, Netherlands and an American-born daughter of emigrants of the Netherlands as well. She married a man also born of Dutch natives in Hudsonville, Michigan on May 15, 1933.

Me and my grandma

When I was eight years old, my father retired from the Navy and we moved to be near these grandparents. We lived with them for several months before settling on a lot adjacent to the home that my grandfather had built as their retirement cottage right around the time I was born. My grandfather also constructed another building in front of his garage/workshop where my grandmother sold her craft items. She called her shop, Ted’s Treasures, because her nickname was Ted. She sewed, she painted, she knitted, she crocheted, she embroidered. I am not sure there was anything she did not do. I remember her crafting with plastic canvas when that became popular, too. Her children and grandchildren were recipients of many clothes she handcrafted. Several of the dresses I wore for school pictures during my early grade school years were ones she made. She sewed a new outfit for me and my brother every Easter. My absolute favorite dress was the long red calico one with matching bonnet that she made for me when I was in fourth grade (I fancied myself as a young Laura Ingalls). 

Of her many crafts, it was the Barbie doll dresses that captured my attention as a young girl the most. I remember one time in particular, I was home sick in bed with a raging sore throat and she brought over a dress she had made for my Barbie to cheer me up. I was older by this time and it was probably one of the last times that I both played with Barbies and was so sick that I received royal treatment (I recall that I was even allowed to stay in my parents’ bedroom that day). But times change as they always do and I grew out of playing with Barbies. With my mother’s penchant for giving things away to other neighborhood children, that Barbie dress is the only one that remains with me today. I don’t recall the details, but perhaps I consented to give away the other Barbie stuff (I had loads of it) because somehow that dress ended up on the first Barbie doll that I ever received and has been packed and carried along with every adult move I have made to this point. As a matter of fact, I know that doll is here in this house somewhere, but I can’t recall just where exactly.

Some of "Ted's Treasures"

My grandma was always well-dressed with coordinating costume jewelry and always had lipstick on. She carried her purse with her everywhere. Just recently I was at my sister’s and we were looking through some of grandma’s old pictures and found several of grandma with her trusty purse on her arm. Even in my sister’s wedding picture, she has a purse on her arm like she got caught just before she was making her exit. Another picture shows her in a more casual pose but still with her purse on her arm. We laughed over that. And I can hear her in my mind giggling with us and saying, “Oh, guy!” in a way that was pure grandma. There’s so much else I could say about my grandma. She was the sweetest woman who would never say a bad word about anyone and I admired her greatly. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Amanuensis Monday: Watts Family Bible Record

The Family Bible Record of George Richard Watts and Emily Jane Chaffin

Family Bible Record of George Richard Watts and Emily Jane Chaffin

 The 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. 1851.

"This Book now belongs to Kenneth Lee Watts" written in ballpoint pen.
George R. Watts was born March 7, 1839

Emily J Watts was born February 17, 1845

John W. Watts was born July 27, 1860

George W. Watts was born April 9th, 1862

James T. Watts as born February 24, 1866

Mary E. Watts was born November 8th, 1868

Samuel L. Watts was born June the 9, 1870

Emma Frances Watts was born July 11, 1872
Lulan May Watts was born August 21, 1875
Richard Walter Watts was born April 1, 1878
Joseph C. Watts was born June 12, 1880
Harry D. Watts was born June 15, 1882
John Watts was married January 7, 1885

George R Watts and Emily J Watts was married August the 11, 1859
Elizabeth Chaffin died November 8, 1866
Phebe Watts died February the 16, 1872
James E. Chaffin died August 7, 1871
Lindsey Watts died November the 9, 1852
Harry Darwin Morris was born July the 25, 1901
Lulan May Morris died July 26, 1901

Phebe Watts died February 16, 1872
Norman E. Watts was born December 1, 1885
Ora F. Watts was born November 14, 1887
Iva May Watts was borned November 29, 1889
Zephie W. Watts was borned Jan the 29, 1892
Linsey W. Watts was born December the 28, 1895

G.L. Watts left VA November 22, 1859

Lena O. Hill was borned November 15, 1890
James Walter Hill was borned September 13, 1894
Elizabeth Watts was bornd May 13, 1902
Katie V. Watts March 21, 1898
Cephus Bryan Watts was borned October 20, 1899
Harry Darwin Morris was born July the 25, 1901
Lulan May Watts Died July the 26, 1901

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Black Sheep Sunday: Unlawful Gaming

Woodlawn Plantation of Col. Henry Embry Coleman, Halifax Co, VA
Well, I am on a roll with blog writing and figured I might as well tell you more about my ancestor Henry Cheatham. An elderly Watts cousin of mine who resided in Halifax County, Virginia all his life warned me years ago that if you go back far enough in the family tree, you might find a horse thief or worse.

What records I have located on Henry seem to indicate that he often incurred trouble of one form or another.

The only reference to him I found in Halifax County, Virginia was in the General Index to Court Orders-Defendants.  Henry Cheatham was listed twice in Superior Court records for the years 1825 and 1826.  The records state the following: "Henry Cheatham for gaming at cards with one of Col.  Coleman's slaves, Phil, on the side of the Public Road, near the aforesaid Cheatham's in Halifax County, a place of public, on Sunday the 18th of the present month by the information of Peter Hudson called in by the Grand Jury and sworn for that purpose and the said Grand Jury having nothing further to present are discharged." "The Commonwealth against Henry Cheatham, defendant, upon a presentment of the Grand Jury for unlawful gaming.  The defendant having been duly summoned and failing to appear, on motion of the attorney prosecuting for the Commonwealth. It is ordered by the court that he make his fine with his Excellency John Tyler Governor of this Commonwealth for the time being, by the payment of 20 dollars to the use and benefit of the Literary Fund, and that he pay the costs of this prosecution and may be taken &c.”[Halifax County, Virginia Superior Court Record Book 4, p. 116 (year 1825) and p. 160 (year 1826). Transcript of original pages by Faye Tuck of South Boston, VA at the request of author.]

I don't know exactly where "near the aforesaid Cheatham's in Halifax County" but Colonel Coleman was undoubtedly Col. Henry E. Coleman who owned the plantation Woodlawn in Halifax County. See information here about Woodlawn and its owners. The above is a photograph of Woodlawn.

There was not much else I found for Henry Cheatham in Halifax County, but I did find other references to him in nearby Pittsylvania County. The Index to Court Orders-Defendants for Pittsylvania County, Virginia has Henry listed several times. Examining the microfilm of the original records, this court case was filed in 1802: John Spencer, plaintiff against William Barnett, John Barnett, Daniel Coleman, George Lumpkin Jr., Peyton Lumpkin and Benjamin Cheatham, father and next friend to Hall and Joseph Cheatham [emphasis added].  The suit was dismissed by order of the plaintiff.  In 1803, this court case was presented: Thomas Fearn [?] Jr., an infant under the age of 21 years who sues by Thomas Fearn [?] Sr. his father and next friend against Henry Cheatham (otherwise called Hall Cheatham) in trespass, assault and battery.  This suit abated by the death of the plaintiff).[Pittsylvania County, Virginia Plea Book 10, p. 252 and Plea Book 11, p. 507, microfilm of originals housed at the Virginia State Archives (VSA).  Emphasis added.]

Additionally, in 1813, Henry was a plaintiff in chancery against Richard Hart and Samuel M. Sovell/Sowell.[Pittsylvania County, Virginia Plea Book 15, p. 465 & 544 and Plea Book 16, p. 111, microfilm of originals, VSA.]

The most enlightening is the first two court cases which named his father as Benjamin and a brother Joseph.  It would appear that the two were underage in 1802, but Henry became of age by the time of the 1803 court case. I assume this meant he turned 21.

Henry was listed on Pittsylvania County's Index to Deeds-Grantor once (there was no listing for Henry in the Grantee index). On 1 July 1819 he mortgaged the following property to Alexander Carter of Halifax County because of his indebtedness to Bruce V. Hagood of Halifax for $45.38: one bay mare, one cow and calf, two feather beds and furniture, two bedsteads, two tables, two iron pots, two ovens, one skillet, two pewter dishes, one dozen pewter plates, two pewter casons, one spinning wheel, two pair cards, two pine chests, eight chairs and saddle and bridle. Carter was to sell the property to the highest bidder after the 1 July next and the residue was to go to Henry. This deed of trust was presented in court three times 2l September 1819, 20 March 1820, and again 22 March 1820.[Pittsylvania County, Virginia Deed Book 23, p. 146, microfilm of original, VSA.] 

Combining information from here and my other post on the Cheatham family (and my article from the VA-NC Piedmont Lineages), I have summarized the following: 

Henry "Hall" Cheatham born about 1782 to Benjamin Cheatham (and his wife Margaret Stoe/Stow) married Hannah --- before 1813 and had the following children:

(1) Elizabeth Cheatham, b. 1813; married Joseph Wyatt Chaffin 23 October 1837 Halifax Co, VA; died 8 October or November 1866.

(2) Martha R. Cheatham, b. 1815 (listed as age 35 in the 1850 federal census); married Elijah Moorefield by 1840; died before 1880. 

(3) Margaret S.[tow?] Cheatham b. ca. 1816; married Elisha B. Jeffress 14 October 1843 Halifax Co, VA; may have died before 1850.

(4) Possibly another daughter b. betw. 1820-1825 (1830 census for Hannah Cheatham)

(5) Possibly a son b. betw. 1810-1815 (1830 census)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sibling Saturday: Further Lessons In Intermarriage

One of my earliest introductions to some of my ancestors was through the Zetta Daniels letter (see this post here). In page 2 of the letter shown below, Zetta refers to common ancestors Wyatt Chaffin & Betsy Cheatam [sic]. As Zetta wrote, two Moorefield brothers married two Chaffin sisters and a third Chaffin sister married a Watts. Emily Jane Chaffin was my second great-grandmother and married George Richard “Dick” Watts (the notation of "Dad's grandmother" on this sheet is in my dad's hand). I will post a scan of that Watts family bible record on this blog soon.

The marriages of these Chaffin girls are recorded in Halifax County, Virginia (as is the marriage of their parents Joseph W. Chaffin and Elizabeth Cheatham in 1837). Intermarrying among the same families was quite common. One of my first contributions to the World Wide Web was an article about the lessons in intermarriage among the daughters of Nash Glidewell of Halifax County, Virginia which can be found by clicking here. The Moorefield/Chaffin sibling intermarriages were no exception.  There was actually another Moorefield/Chaffin marriage in the same family, that of the brother of the Chaffin sisters, William, who married a sister of the Moorefield brothers, Martha Susan.

Anyway, before we get further tangled up, what I learned about Betsy Cheatham indicates that there was in all likelihood additional intermarriage among these families. In the Watts family bible record, the death of Elizabeth Chaffin is recorded as November 8, 1866. It was the one clue I needed to obtain a certified copy of her death certificate from the state of Virginia. This certificate (shown below) states she died in October of 1866 and named her parents as Henry and Hannah. I spent a good amount of time searching for further information regarding Henry and Hannah and will detail that in a post in the future. I actually published an article on that in the August 1998 issue of the VA-NC Piedmont Lineages newsletter.

Certification of Death: Elizabeth Chaffin, line #61, Halifax Co, VA,
original record issued 17 October 1989, Division of Vital Records, Richmond, VA

Records on Cheathams in Halifax County are somewhat scarce. The only Cheatham census listing there was Hannah Cheatham in 1830. The household at that time consisted of one male 15-20, one female 5-10, one female 10-15, two females 15-20 and one female 40-50, 6 total.

As to who these persons in Hannah's household might have been, the eldest female is more than likely Hannah herself. Betsy would have been about seventeen years old, so would then be one of the females aged 15-20.  A Martha R. Cheatham was a witness to Betsy's marriage to Joseph Wyatt Chaffin; she was possibly a sister to Betsy and one of the females enumerated in Hannah's household.  A Margaret S. Cheatham married Elisha B. Jeffress in Halifax County, Virginia on 14 October 1843; she may also have been a sister.  A Robertson B. Cheatham was listed in the 1840 U. S. Census index on page 8 of the northern district of Halifax County, Virginia. I had speculated that he could have possibly been the male aged 15-20 in Hannah's household, but that has not been explored further and remains only speculation.

I posted a query back in 2002 on the old Genforum site under the Cheatham Family Forum asking about these possible children of Henry and Hannah Cheatham. About five years later, a gentleman by the name of Jerry Jeffress posted a reply saying “I am looking for information on my great, great grandfather Elisha Benjamin Jeffress born in 1816 specifically his father and mother. However, The information I have shows him marring Marget Gregory on 10 April 1850.” I am inclined to say that this may be one and the same Elisha B. Jeffress and that his first wife may have died if there was indeed a second marriage for him in 1850. The time period is correct.

As to Martha R. Cheatham, it appears that she was the wife of Elijah Moorefield. See this entry here under the Caswell County Family Tree in Rootsweb for further information on her witnessing the 1837 marriage as Elizabeth’s sister and stating that she was over 21 years old (placing her year of birth to at least 1816). This entry also explains the probable connection between Elijah and the other Moorefields. See this entry for further information regarding Elijah and Martha’s family.

So it would appear that more intermarriages took place among these families. I can’t even begin to consider drawing a diagram to put it in visual form; it’s too convoluted!  For the record, it must be noted that it is my belief that Martha Cheatham’s parentage is incorrectly listed in this Caswell County Family Tree. One of these days, I will tell you more about what I know about Henry and Hannah Cheatham but enough’s enough for one post.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Dash In Between: Ada's Story

Ada E. Flint Guthrie 1873-1946, Willoughby Cemetery, Great Valley, Cattaraugus Co, NY
photographed 10 August 2014 Megan M. Westfall

I am always doing research in one form or the other. I thought I would share information that provides data on the dash shown above between Ada's birth and death date. This was an interesting history romp around the internet chasing preliminary records on this family.

I started by looking for information on a George Abbott who buried an infant child at Peth in the area of Shin Hollow (town of Great Valley) in Cattaraugus County, New York on 6 February 1894 according to the Ellicottville Post newspaper. I used the website to find this newspaper item.

Census searches revealed that George was the son of Timothy and Jane (Nelson) Abbott of Great Valley and born in May of 1868. He was living with his parents during the census years of 1870, 1875 (New York did a state census for several years in between the federal census) and 1880. I also found George in the 1892 state census not yet married and living with his brother Frank who was married and had a family.

By 1900, George had himself been married for eight years and had a family of his own. He was married to a local girl named Ada and they had two sons, Bertram and Kenneth. This census records that Ada was the mother of four children, two living. We have the infant who was buried in February of 1894 and at least one other that must have died. (We will reserve further exploration of these children for another story.) George was an oil well laborer and the family was renting a home in Carrollton, part of the township of Great Valley.

It appears that the family had broken up by the year 1905 when 36-year-old George was listed as a boarder on State Street in Great Valley in the home of Albert Roff. Five-year-old Kenneth Abbott was living with his maternal grandparents, Irving and Ellen Flint, on Ellicottville Road in Great Valley. They were farmers and had two sons Forest age 18 and Devere age 13 as well as their 16-year-old daughter Vera still living with them and attending school. Kenneth was not going to school just yet. It would appear that there was no room for 10-year-old Bertram as he was found in the East Randolph Home for Friendless Children. Ada was not readily found in this state census.

Randolph Children's Home, left: new school building completed in 1904

In the year 1910, we find Ada and her son Bertrum [sic] living in Geneseo in Livingston County. Ada was a cook at a hotel owned by James Stanley on Main Street and Bertrum boarded there as well. Three doors down from the hotel was a widowed Irishwoman named Annie Delaney and her two sons, James, age 33 and Thomas age 29.  This Irish family had emigrated in 1882 and James was the proprietor of the livery stable in the town.

Erie Station in Geneseo, NY 1909
This census says Ada was 36 and married; but a year later, she was listed as a widow and married Thomas Delaney. It’s his first marriage, her second. He’s still living in Geneseo but her residence is listed as 131 So. Fitzhugh.

"New York, County Marriages, 1908-1935," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 Aug 2014), James J. Delaney and Ada E. Abbett, 04 Mar 1911; citing Vol 1 p 479, , New York, United States; FHL microfilm 831340.

She must have moved to Rochester as that is where the marriage took place and the address comes up in Rochester on Google. It was actually a well-to-do neighborhood that Ada found herself in as it is listed in Dau's 1910 Blue Book of Rochester Containing the Names of Prominent Residents. You can find the address listed in the book. It was the home of Eugene S. Bliven, a stock broker, and his wife according to the 1910 federal census. Perhaps Ada went to work for the family.

By 1920, young Bertram was listed in the Great Meadow Prison at Fort Ann Township in Washington Co, NY. Ada is back to using the Abbott surname in an apartment on Atkinson Street in Rochester. She has her son Kenneth living with her and in another apartment is her brother Devere Flint along with his wife and young son Neil. There is no sign of Thomas Delaney.

Ada must have decided to head back home for in 1922, she married an older widow named Almond Guthrie in the city of Salamanca. She was listed as a widow and said this was her second marriage, although technically it would have been her third.

"New York, County Marriages, 1908-1935," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 Aug 2014), Almond G Guthrie and Ada E Abbott, 14 Aug 1922; citing , Cattaraugus, New York, United States; FHL microfilm 0583819.

By 1925, Almond & Ada settled in the small community of Humphrey close to where she was born. At her death in September of 1946, she was buried in the nearby Willoughby Cemetery, where her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents also rest.

In April of 1921, Bertram married Lillian Robbins in the city of Rochester.

"New York, County Marriages, 1908-1935," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 Aug 2014), Bertram Geo Abbott and Lillian M Robbins, 14 Apr 1921; citing , Monroe, New York, United States; FHL microfilm 0831349.

They made their way to Brooklyn by 1930. His brother Kenneth was living with him and Lillian during the census that year. By 1940, he was 44 years old, divorced and one of two lodgers in the household of Rae Schneider, age 39 who was originally from Romania. She also had a 17-year-old daughter named Myrtle who was born in Massachusetts.

When he completed his draft registration card in 1942, Bertram must have married Rae as she had become Rae Abbott who was listed as his next of kin at the same address of 1087 Union Street in Brooklyn. He worked for the city of New York as a railroad clerk at Times Square.

"United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942", index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 Aug 2014), Bertram George Abbott, 1942.

According to his tombstone, Bertram George Abbott served in the United States Navy during the First World War from Kentucky. He also ended up at Willoughby Cemetery at his death in 1956.

Bertram G. Abbott 1895-1956, Willoughby Cemetery, Great Valley, Cattaraugus Co, NY
Photographed 10 August 2014 Megan M. Westfall
At this time, I have not been able to find out where George Abbott ended up. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Workday Wednesday: Tobacco Farming in Southside Virginia

Last week my daughter asked me to order a book for her that she’s been waiting for. I ordered it online from Amazon and checked my wish list for something I wanted, too. When the box arrived, my daughter eagerly opened it to find this one on top: 

The Evolution of the Southern Backcountry:
A Case Study of Lunenburg County, Virginia 1746-1832
by Richard R. Beeman

“This one must be mama’s,” she said and handed it over. I’m sure she thought the title rather dry but I was excited about it. Even better, the books came before our weekend camping trip, so we were both happy about that. We finished them before Sunday.

My Watts family was first listed among Halifax County records as early as the formation of the county in 1752. Indeed most of my father’s ancestry hails from that area and I can trace many names not only in Halifax but Pittsylvania, Charlotte and Mecklenburg Counties as well. These were all once a part of Lunenburg. Insight into Lunenburg County will also shed light on the surrounding areas as well. 

For instance, Sizemore was a name in early Halifax and Lunenburg records. Family tradition has it that my ancestor George Sizemore of Halifax County died there around 1809 and was accidently killed while rolling a hogshead of tobacco. Tobacco farming was certainly one thing the whole region had in common. I found it interesting that a figure illustration used in Beeman’s book is nearly identical to one I used in my Sizemore book compiled in 1996. Beeman credits The Tobacco Institute for his drawing. I found mine in the 1991 book Daily Life: A Sourcebook on Colonial America edited by Carter Smith. I received permission to reprint from the publisher, The Millbrook Press in Brookfield, CT.   The notation on my illustration stated that this print originally appeared in W. Tatham’s An Historical and Practical Essay on the Culture and Commerce of Tobacco, 1800. You can see a part of that print here from the National Museum of American History. One identical to Beeman’s can be found at’s Tobacco Production, Trend Of Prices, And Exports. Additionally, here is a a nice account by Rosa Yancey entitled Tobacco Growing in Early Virginia

Further information on the region found in Beeman’s book was the fact that Scotland had a large share of the tobacco market in the Southside. Two Scottish firms of prominent importance were Alexander Speirs Company and William Cunninghame and Company. Between these two firms, there were stores set up at the county courthouse site in every Southside county (Beeman, 79). I remember the Speirs Company listed in a court record in relation to the Watts family. I’m going to look at those records again.

Beeman discussed the making of community and he drew conclusions from several old area church records. Community is one of my buzz words across several disciplines including history and social work and church history is another interest that I’ve been focused on lately. Studying how Beeman was able to use those old records encourages me about the seriousness and importance of seeking to preserve such. The official religion in Colonial Virginia was the Anglican Church of England, later the Episcopal Church. An evangelical revolt constituted a threat to Angelican domination as early as 1759 and Baptists became widespread in the whole of the southern backcountry. Beeman discusses how this phenomenon served as a mode of community organization that shook the social structure immediately.

What interests me about this is my Hardy/Dodson family of Halifax & Pittsylvania Counties. Joshua Hardy married Jemima Dodson, the daughter of Elisha Dodson and his wife Sarah. The Dodsons were a pretty prolific family in the area. Information indicates that on December 4, 1762 Elisha Dodson and Sarah Dodson were baptized in the Broad Run Baptist Church, Fauquier County. Their son Elisha Jr was one of the infants received into the care of the church on 9 Oct 1763. It is indicated in such records that Elisha and Sarah Dodson were "dismissed to Halifax." In 1774 Elisha patented 400 acres in Halifax Co and appears on the tax lists there from 1782 until 1787 when he apparently moved to Pittsylvania. He continues on the tax lists in Pittsylvania Co through 1796, so apparently died at that time.

So, despite the seemingly dryness of the title and topic (according to my daughter at least), this book provides a lot of good insight into the lives of my Virginia ancestors. I have several research avenues I want to follow up on and a list from the book’s notes on other references that will be worth perusing as well.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Traveling Photographers

I mentioned something about local photographers being itinerant and here's a good example of that:

Identified as Josephine Beecher Scoville [1 Sept 1855 - 17 Sept 1905], accession #2013-7-106.
Came to Ellicottville in 1870, married William P. Scoville in 1880. Courtesy Ellicottville Historical Society
with kind permission from Mary E. Dunbar, town historian

L.L. ZUVER (1861-1924)                 
Ellicottville (Cattaraugus Co), NY: 1886-1887 (Partner with MH STEWART)
Pleasantville (Venango Co), PA:
Oil City, (Venango Co), PA: 1905-
Tionesta (Forest Co), PA: photography business & general store
L.W. ZUVER (1854-1927)
Ellicottville (Cattaraugus Co), NY: (after 1875) August 1884
Salamanca (Cattaraugus Co), NY: after 1875-November 1884
Cleveland, OH: November 1884; engaged in the manufacture of dry plates used in photography
Olean (Cattaraugus Co), NY: 1885-
Operated a steamboat studio covering Olean, NY to Pittsburgh, PA to include the busiest oil centers in Pennsylvania such as Warren, Oil City, Tidioute, Tionesta and Franklin. 
Pittsburgh, PA: 1893-1900
Butler (Butler Co), PA: to 1910; sold out to H. S. Sheffler in 1910 and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida.

These names are not listed in the 1874/5 directory of Cattaraugus County, New York. In the Randolph newspaper in August of 1884, it was noted that “L.N. ZUVER hereafter will be at his photograph rooms in the Huenerfeld Building in Ellicottville on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”
The Ellicottville paper noted in November of 1884 under Salamanca news that Mr. L. W. ZUVER had sold his photograph business in this city. It further stated that Mr. ZUVER would relocate to Cleveland, Ohio where he would “engage in the manufacture of dry plates used in photography.”

L.L. ZUVER was at first a partner with M.H. STEWART in Ellicottville in 1886 but by the next year, the partnership had dissolved.

George Emery Zuver and his Susan Goodman had nine children, three of whom went on to become photographers. Their daughter Mary (born 1851) married Jacob West who was listed as a photographer in 1870 in Bradford (McKean County) Pennsylvania. She joined the photography business and eventually became very popular in Bradford. Mary sold her business after her husband’s death in 1906 to Howard Spangler and moved to the town of Butler, PA to live with her family in 1907. (See the blog “Diggin Up Dirt”. This blog goes on to say that Mary’s two younger brothers Lewis W Zuver (1854-1927) and Leander L Zuver (1861-1924) were also photographers and that the brothers can be found listed with studios from Olean, NY, just north of Bradford across the Pennsylvania line and as far south in Pennsylvania as Pittsburgh. Leander (aka Leonard, Richard or “Dick” as his friends referred to him) had the shortest career in the photography business. In 1885 Lewis and a man named Atherly had small steamboat built in order to hawk their wares in the river from Olean, NY to Pittsburgh, PA. This path would allow them to hit some of the busiest oil centers in Pennsylvania including, Warren, Oil City, Tidioute, Tionesta and Franklin. 

Lewis was operating in Pittsburgh, PA from at least 1893 to 1900 and is noted for exceptional work with wonderful detail of textures (see <>). Mary West’s granddaughter noted that he lived in Butler, PA and operated two different studios in the area. She also noted that Lewis continued to enjoy the photography profession until selling out to H. S. Sheffler in 1910 and moving to St. Petersburg, Florida.

                Richard (aka L.L.) Zuver’s obituary in the Titusville Herald indicated that he died in Tionesta and “learned the photographer’s trade when a young man and for several years conducted a studio in Pleasantville in a building which stood just west of the Dutton livery in that village. He was united in marriage with Miss Agnes Braneth (or Braniff) who resided near Pleasantville, and in 1905 went to Oil City, where he conducted a studio for several years before coming to this village, where he had operated a general store in connection with his photograph business.”

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Workday Wednesday:

M. HOWARD STEWART (1858-1932). Photographer in
Ellicottville (Cattaraugus Co), NY: 1886-1888, 1889-1890 in Huenerfeld Block on Monroe Street; March 1891 moved to Stewart Block on Main Street until about June of 1899
Middleton (Dauphin Co), PA: about June 1888 to August 1889
Washington (Washington Co), PA: about 1899-1900s

M. Howard Stewart was born in 1858 in Utica (Venango County), Pennsylvania. He died in 1932 in Apollo, a borough in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. He came to Ellicottville (Cattaraugus County) New York around 1886 and set up a photo gallery with L.L. Zuver. By 1887, their partnership had dissolved and Stewart carried on the business. In 1888, he left for Middleton, PA (Dauphin County) but came back by August of 1889. He built a studio of his own on Main Street in Ellicottville by March of 1891. In June of 1899, it was advertised that Alfred H. Coit bought Stewart’s photography business. Stewart then moved to Washingon (Washington Co), PA where he carried on his photography business within the Pittsburgh Metro Area. He was enumerated there during the 1900 and 1910 Federal census. The Ellicottville Post carried the story of his death on July 7, 1932.

                M. H. Stewart married Matie Greene, the daughter of C.B. Greene and Jeanette Huenerfeld. They were married in Ellicottville in 1889. It was Jeanette’s father and Stewart’s grandfather-in-law, Peter J. Huenerfeld who owned the Huenerfeld Block on Monroe Street in Ellicottville where Stewart had his photography studio before he built his own. 

Sources: Ellicottville Post advertisements, items of interest and obituary notice from the online newspaper project at; 1900 and 1910 Federal census.

Identified as Thomas McMahon, accession #2013-7-13. Courtesy Ellicottville Historical Society
with kind permission from Mary E. Dunbar, town historian

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Happy Mother's Day

I would love to be able to say I came up with this, but alas, I cannot! But I did want to share this awesome "pinterest-worthy" photograph project for Mother's Day. The woman in this photograph is a dear woman who I have known for years. She is pictured here with her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter using a mirror that was originally her mother's. How awesome is that? Though only four generations are pictured, really there are five generations represented. The granddaughter is the one that completed the project. When I asked it how she did, she explained and said it was a pain but worth it. I, and many others, would agree that it was certainly worth it.

I hope this inspires you to make a project of your own to honor some aspect of your heritage...

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday's Faces From The Past: Cabinet Card Project

Children of Thos. L. & Mary (Ida) Simmons Dineen: Stella, Mabel, Nellie, Tom & Raymond (born April 1897)

This is a cabinet card. These types of photographs first appeared in the mid-1860s and were popular from about 1875 to 1900. Most cabinet cards are a standard size of 6 1/2" x 4 1/4" although there were size variations later on. See the website for additional information regarding cabinet cards.

What started out as a small project bloomed into a bigger one as I searched farther and farther afield for information. I have always had a fascination for old photographs so a lot of my projects entail research about them. I have studied the history of photography via the finished projects that each era has ushered in as technology and fashion run hand in hand to shape experiences.

In attempts to identify old photographs, there are several techniques that one can employ. One is to research the photographer’s information if possible. Cabinet cards hold the most promise for that type of research as very often a photographer’s imprint can be found on the bottom of the photo card or even on the back.   
Several cabinet cards were among the items a close friend owns which were given to her by her uncle. These were originally among her grandmother’s possessions and passed down from earlier generations with many of the family members having been in the area since the early 1800s. The above example is from her collection. Fortunately, this photograph is labeled so one can more easily determine when it was taken. Thus we know that this photographer was in business at least at that period of time. But what about other photographs which also list him as the photographer such as this one below?

Unknown infant. Courtesy of the Ellicottville Historical Society
with kind permission from Mary E. Dunbar, town historian

And what about the difference in address between that one and this one following?

Unknown woman, 1890s. Courtesy of Ellicottville Historical Society
with kind permission from Mary E. Dunbar, town historian

Because there is online access to old newspapers from the Ellicottville and some surrounding areas at, I was able to do some searching to discover more information about this photographer and his business.  I will present the information on him in a later post.

Success with this initial research led me to explore information about other photographers in the area using the same newspapers. Then I went on to look for more examples at the Ellicottville Historical Society. Some of these photographers were more itinerant and I would find evidence of them having moved their business to other parts of the county as well as other states. The nearby town of Franklinville was a thriving business area back in the day and so there were several examples of photographers in that area. The City of Salamanca was also a larger area for photography work. I tracked a couple of photographers from Randolph, New York (in Cattaraugus County) to Ellicottville, New York to Salamanca as well as up and down the river to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That is an interesting story that I will save for another post as well.

I know this information will be helpful to other researchers, so I want to continue with the project and document as much as I can about the different photographers in the area. I probably will not be able to limit myself to just the cabinet card era although that is where the bulk of the research will be. I was encouraged by fellow blogger at the blog Hunting and Gathering to make this information available as I go which I may do in various installments of blog posts in the future or put together a document similar to what is done for Georgia photographers at Hunting and Gathering. If there is any information you can provide that would be helpful to this project as well as any examples to share, that would be greatly appreciated!