Saturday, June 30, 2012

COG: Wading Beauties in the Willamette

Lillie Sizemore Kumm & chums in the Willamette River

When I first saw the theme for the July Carnival of Genealogy, this photograph immediately came to mind. After I hunted it up from my files, I realized they are not wearing swim suits, but I felt it still had the right feel to be considered for this edition of COG. This is one of several photographs that are part of a testament of family ties.

I will start with identifying the family ties: My grandmother, Amy, was the daughter of William Lewis Hardy and his wife Alice Samantha Lovelace. William Lewis Hardy was one of nine children born of Joshua L. Hardy and his wife Martha Sizemore, although three siblings died in infancy and two sisters died in young adulthood. Two of his surviving sisters were Bettie (who married William C. Gross) and Mary (wife of James L. Sadler). Bettie Hardy Gross (born 19 June 1858 in Sinking Fork, Christian County, Kentucky) was my grandmother’s aunt who had the autograph book I mentioned in my Christmas 2011 post.

There are over two dozen postcard photographs and snapshots in this group of photos which include our wading beauties. These were all sent to Bettie by her cousins, Lillie Elnore (Sizemore) Kumm and her sister Nora Helen (Sizemore) Quay. Lillie is the second woman from the left in the photograph. Her sister Nora is probably the third woman shown. The other two are unknown. 

"We are getting ready to go wading in the Willamette"

Lillie and Nora’s father was Winfield Scott Sizemore, the son of Daniel Campbell Sizemore and his wife Sarah Ann Colly. Daniel and Bettie’s mother, Martha, were siblings. Lillie and Nora’s mother was Sarah Ann Johnson, the daughter of John W. Johnson and his wife Hellen T. Hardy. Hellen and Bettie’s father were siblings. Therefore Lillie and Nora’s parents were double first cousins of Bettie’s.

Lillie and Nora’s father died in September of 1892 and their mother remarried William H. Nolen. They had one daughter together, Minnie L. Nolen. By 1915, this family left their hometown in Kentucky and migrated west to Oregon settling in Portland. But these photos show how close the family ties remained then and I am happy to be able to remember those ties here. 

"Putting our shoes and stockings on again"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Exploring Occupation in Family History Research

Along with knowledge of the area being part of successful family history research (the topic of Monday’s post), knowledge of occupations in the family can be helpful as well.

On our recent research trip, my mother-in-law Ruth took me to see the Our Lady ofVictory Basilica in Lackawanna, New York. It is an awesome Roman Catholic Church building. We explored the Father Baker museum in the basement first and then toured the sanctuary afterwards. She remembers taking first communion there. At the museum, I purchased Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America book on the history of Lackawanna. Reading this later also helped me to better understand Ruth’s family history and their connection to the area. Ruth had mentioned a couple of times that from what she understood, part of her Backus family lived in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania and found it coincidental that they also lived in a town called Lackawanna in New York. It turns out there was more than coincidence. 

From the Lackawanna history book, I learned that “before the town of West Seneca was established, the land west of Abbott Road to Lake Erie was known as Limestone Hill.” The town of Seneca was formed in October of 1851 from parts of nearby Hamburg and Cheektowaga and included the area of Limestone Hill. In the year 1900, the Lackawanna Steel Company relocated from Scranton, Pennsylvania in Lackawanna County to the shores of Lake Erie and expanded their mills and plants to the area of Limestone Hill. In 1909, legislature voted to form the city of Lackawanna from that part of West Seneca.

No doubt, this relocation of the Lackawanna Steel Company is what brought some of Ruth’s family from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Lackawanna, New York. Though her knowledge of this connection did not include the information about the steel company, nonetheless her story was true and it was the family’s occupation that brought them to the area.   

Image from the Steel Plant Museum, Lackawanna, NY

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mappy Monday: Exploring Place in Family History Research

Gaining knowledge about an area and its history is invaluable to being successful in family research.

Years ago when I lived out of state, I was trying to learn more about my husband’s family in Cattaraugus County, New York. I had gotten a death certificate that said one of his ancestors was born in Waverly, New York. On a current map, I found a town called Waverly in the county of Tioga nearer the center of the state and wasted several days trying to find Westfalls there related to my husband’s family. Later on a trip to visit other relatives in Cattaraugus County, these lifelong residents told me that the current town of Otto where the family resided was once called Waverly.  A recent experience also reinforced the idea that one should become familiar with the area in which our ancestors lived.

I finally took my mother-in-law, Ruth, to Lackawanna for a family history research trip recently. I wrote about exploring her family history at this earlier post. This was an awesome opportunity for her to share with me what she remembered growing up and on several occasions during our trip, her memories helped us to be successful in our attempts. I knew nothing of the area and so her knowledge proved invaluable in understanding the information we discovered.

The first order of business on our little trip was to go the cemetery where her grandfather Backus was buried. We checked with the cemetery office first and they copied his burial card and one other with the same surname in the same section for us. They also provided us with a cemetery map and a section map. We headed over to the Holy Cross Cemetery and found the section we were looking for. We had the map backwards at first and were looking on the wrong side. Ruth remembered her father pointing out where her grandfather was buried from the road on the opposite side when she was a child, so we headed to that side instead. While we may have probably eventually found our way, her memories helped us more easily pinpoint what we looking for.

The burial card offered a lot of new information for us. We knew her grandfather’s approximate year of birth and death but had nothing exact. The burial card listed his last known address as 181 Barksdale Avenue in West Seneca. It also listed his complete date and place of birth as well as his complete date and place of death. Armed with that knowledge, we headed to the Lackawanna Public Library to see if they might have an obituary file. No luck. The librarian there told us that they did not keep obituary files as they considered those personal. I am unsure what she meant by that. Nonetheless, the librarian offered an alternative of checking with the newspaper office in Buffalo. I had a different idea and called the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Museum and Research Library and we trekked out there. Yes, they had an obituary file of about 19,000 individuals, but our guy wasn’t found among them. Instead, we were able to locate the death notice on a microfilmed copy of the newspaper housed at their facility. (We also were able to find a death notice of the other individual with the same surname that was buried in the same section of the Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna as well. In cross-referencing relative names in both death notices, it appears they were not related.)  
I noticed that her grandfather’s death notice said he died suddenly in Winchester, a place I had not heard of before. “Where is Winchester?” I asked Ruth. “I’ll show you.” She replied. Again her memories and knowledge would serve to help us in our quest. On our way back through the areas of Lackawanna and West Seneca, she drove to the neighborhood where she lived as a young child. I noticed a church called Winchester Community Church. She pointed out the Winchester school building where she first started her school career. So this was Winchester. A couple of blocks over from the school, she turned into a residential district and found 181 Barnsdale Avenue where she lived as a young child. She wasn’t aware of it before, but she lived in the same house where her grandfather had lived before he died. Although the neighborhood was known as Winchester it is a part of West Seneca apparently. Knowing that kept me from barking up a wrong tree and established that although the areas were called by different names, the family lived in the same general community and did not relocate elsewhere.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday: A Dutch Heritage Album

Yesterday, I posted a wedding photograph of Jan Molenkamp and Frouke Olthof for Wedding Wednesday. Today for Treasure Chest Thursday, I'd like to share other photographs from that same collection.

I mentioned in my post about finding a family hero that I was contacted by a cousin, Hans, from the Netherlands recently. He graciously shared digital copies of many family photographs of our mutual kin via email. I then in turn put together a heritage scrapbook album of the different photographs. I purchased a scrapbook at my local craft shop which I think has a bit of a European feel to it:

For the first page, I included a sketch that Hans' father originally sent me back in 1989 showing the family lines. There are several surnames involved and even I have to refer back to it to figure out who is who at times.

Then I proceeded to put each photo on a separate page using some unifying creative elements to pull the whole album together. I mounted each photo on a black mat and punched decorative photo holders around all four edges. I printed a caption on gray cardstock and used the same punch to decorate two corners of that. I then mounted the caption on black cardstock. For each caption, I included the title/number of the digital image sent as well as identifying information Hans included in his emails. The caption and photo was then mounted on a white background and I used a decorative stamp in black ink directly on the white cardstock.

This first photograph is of my great-grandfather's sister, Jantje Timmer and her husband Eltje Olthof.

This is a photograph of Jantje Timmer, probably before she married Eltje in November of 1896.

This photograph is of Jantje & Eltje's youngest two children. The oldest child, Frouke, is the subject of the wedding photograph posted yesterday (click here to see).

Stedum, Groningen, Netherlands

And this is the final resting place of Eltje Olthof and Jantje Timmer.

This is not the whole album, but shows you an idea of how it was put together. I made my own treasure chest :)