Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Genealogy Tips Based on the New Year

As 2014 comes to a close and we look forward to a new year, here are some genealogy tips for you to consider:
Genealogy: New Year Tips
  1. Set Goals - Many of us set goals for the new year, so why not choose a few genealogy goals? It will help you focus on what to spend your time and energy on, as well as motivate you forward to success.
  2. Start a New Habit - Just as some people decide to start a new exercise program, try to implement a new habit while researching your family tree. Here are a few you may want to consider.
  3. Start Fresh - If you've been disappointed by the amount of time you've dedicated to genealogy research or blogging, now is the time move on. The new year gives you a chance to start fresh and make the effort to do better.
  4. Celebrate - Take time to celebrate the past year's findings and look forward to the new year of research.
I wish you a healthy, happy, and successful new year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Family Immigration: Peter Klein in 1854

Genealogy: Klein Home in Pittsburgh
On this day in 1854, my German 3rd great-grandfather, Peter Klein, arrived in the United States. He was traveling with the woman he would later marry, Barbara Steimer, and her two brothers, John & Andrew. All of them would eventually make their way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The couple raised seven children, including a steelworker, a grocer, and a Sister of St. Francis. Peter first made a living as a coal miner and later as an engineer for the Freedom Oil Company. He eventually owned a dozen lots in the Lower St. Clair area of Pittsburgh, and lived in the house shown here at 2900 Arlington Avenue (courtesy of Google Maps).

Probate records show that Peter died at the age of 67 on April 14, 1892, presumably from injuries received on the job six months earlier from a boiler explosion in Freedom, Beaver County. The Pittsburgh Dispatch reported that he "was standing in front of the boiler when it exploded and was blown to an adjoining field, a distance of 80 feet."

I still have a lot to learn about Peter & Barbara Klein. I don't know the names of their parents and have no idea where in Germany they lived before coming to America. My genealogy research continues...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Greetings from 1930

Here's another greeting card that my grandfather gave to my grandmother, this one from 1930 before they were married:

Genealogy: Christmas Cards

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Genealogy Novel: Finding Eliza

Genealogy: Novel
I download a lot of e-books to read on my iPad using the Kindle app. While I read all kinds of genres including nonfiction, romance, historical fiction, self-help, etc., my main criteria is that they need to be free. (Ok, I admit it...I'm cheap!) But when I heard about this book, Finding Eliza, I knew I had to read it and was willing to pay. And it was still a bargain since it only cost $3.

This novel was written by Stephanie Pitcher Fishman, who is a professional genealogist and one of the founders of the The In-Depth Genealogist blog. She also writes research guides for Legacy Family Tree.

Finding Eliza is a gripping book involving a "forgotten" relative, a diary, and another reminder of America's troubling history with racial hatred. It's the story of Lizzie and her Grandma Gertrude, who learn the truth about a long-forgotten relative, Eliza. There are sections which take you back to the 1930s in Georgia, based on entries from a diary written by Gertrude's father.

Although on the periphery of the story's main messages, I couldn't help but notice that the novel shows how younger generations are often uninterested in genealogy, how others can't get enough of it, how families often hide from shameful stories, and how you can't help but be affected when learning some details about your ancestors.

If you have some free time over the holidays, it may be the perfect time to grab this book and curl up on the couch for an enjoyable read.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Genealogists Can Learn from Christmas

As the holiday gets closer, here are some Christmas lessons that can be applied to genealogy:
Genealogy: Gifts of Research
  1. It's better to give than receive - There are many ways to help other genealogy researchers, and it will make you feel great. Consider taking photos of headstones for others when you visit a cemetery, or volunteer to help with a transcription project. And, if you keep your tree private, think about sharing your research. It doesn't have to be perfect (and will never be complete!).
  2. You don't always get everything you wish for - Some details about your ancestors will never be known. Records may not exist or have been destroyed, but you can still enjoy the genealogy details you do uncover.
  3. The wait helps us appreciate the gifts that come - Do you remember the great feeling of getting an envelope in your mailbox that contained ancestors' records you had requested? With online databases, we may not have to wait as much as in the past, but patience is still needed when it comes to a brick wall or finding time to visit a courthouse or archive. You will definitely appreciate the wait when you finally get some answers.
  4. We should emphasize the story - Just as we should remember the story of Christmas, we shouldn't lose sight of the stories involving our ancestors. They are more than names and dates, so dig deeper to find more about their jobs, towns, and lives. 
And, finally, since the holidays (and genealogy) are all about family, make sure you take time to enjoy yours!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Family Birth: Alice Huber in 1905

Genealogy: Ancestor Birth
On December 16, 1905, in Reserve Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, my great-grandparents welcomed a baby girl into the world. Joseph & Alice Laubersheimer Huber named her Alice Marie, and I'm sure they were excited about their first daughter.

Unfortunately, little Alice wouldn't live to celebrate her third birthday and died of pneumonia and convulsions on November 2, 1908. She is buried in United Cemetery in Ross Township.

My grandmother would never meet this sister, since she was born in 1909 after Alice's death, but she would mention her from time to time. Luckily, her parents must have spoken about her so she wasn't forgotten.

Children who were born and died in between censuses may not be included in our family trees. While searching the PA death certificates on, I have found several children in my family I didn't know about. While it's sad enough that they never grew to be adults, it's even sadder to think that subsequent generations may not be aware of them.

I'm glad my great-aunt Alice won't be forgotten.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Quotes from Genealogy Masters

I'm a big believer that you can always learn from others, and that's especially true when it comes to genealogy. That's why I read A LOT of blogs, including those written by people who have been involved in genealogy for decades and those whose search for ancestors is relatively new.

Here are a few quotes from genealogy experts that have caught my eye:
  1. "The word ASSUMED should never be used in genealogy!" from Dick Eastman, "Barking Up the Wrong Tree," Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, May 8, 2014.
  2. "My skill as a family historian is to analyze those facts, understand them in context of the life of the person, and preserve them for future generations of my family. I can do so responsibly and in a caring way that still respects that person and their personal information," from Thomas MacEntee, "Is There A 'Right' To Do Genealogy?", GeneaBloggers, September 19, 2013.
  3. "As genealogists, adding a medical history to the family history already collected and treasured should be a natural progression and inclusion," from Leland Meitzler, "What Does Your Family's Medical History Look Like," GenealogyBlog, January 10, 2012.
  4. "[S]eeing how others have solved problems, what records they have used and how they have used them is an excellent tool in developing our analytical skills," from Michael John Neill, "What an Experienced Researcher Would Expect to be Relevant,", December 6, 2013.
  5. "We must verify the sources of information, and see for ourselves if we'd arrive at the same conclusions. ... I am thankful for people like Elizabeth Shown Mills who show us the ideal, but I am also thankful for the tens of thousands of amateur genealogists who are working to the limit of their capability to share the story of their ancestors as they see it," from Pat Richley-Erickson, "The Proof is in the Pudding," DearMyrtle, November 29, 2012.
  6. "If there is any group of people in the world who ought to understand human frailty, it’s the genealogical community," from Judy Russell, "The struggles," The Legal Genealogist, August 12, 2014.
  7. "To be a 'complete genealogist,' every researcher needs to understand proper methodology and be aware of and use all available resources in order to perform competent research," from Randy Seaver, "How Should Genealogy Societies Nurture Beginners?", Genea-Musings, July 24, 2014.
  8. "Theoretically it may be possible to do a complete search of all of the possible records for finding your ancestors, but in practical terms, it is highly unlikely that anyone has actually achieved a 'complete' search," from James Tanner, "There is always a next place to search," Genealogy's Star, September 10, 2011.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Historic Hardware Stores and Christmas Time

My 2nd great-uncle owned a hardware store in Pittsburgh's Mt. Washington neighborhood from about 1898 until his death in 1936. For those of you familiar with the area, it was right on Grandview Avenue in the building that later became the well-known Cliffside Restaurant. The hardware store was on the main floor, and my uncle and his family lived upstairs.

A Christmas ad from 1908 in The Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights News shows that his holiday gift suggestions were carvers, pocket knives, mantles, reflex lights, ice skates, sleds and globes. Some of the same items are in this ad from the Internet Archive Book Images for a Canadian hardware company:

Genealogy: Ads in Historic Publications

Hardware and Metal (Toronto, Canada), November 19, 1910

In Google Books, I found a great paragraph from Hardware, dated December 10, 1906, that shows some of the product decisions my 2nd great-uncle had to consider at Christmas time:
"The up-to-date Hardware dealer makes as much preparation for the selling of holiday goods as other merchants these days. Years ago the dullest period of the season for the Hardwareman was Christmas time, now it is one of the busiest. The merchant should lay in some attractive novelties. The cutlery stock should be tastily displayed. Carving sets and plated-ware are always salable Christmas time, if the goods are shown attractively and advertised unstintedly. ... Many of the stores are selling children's vehicles; there is good profit in the line and the Hardware store is a good place of distribution. Sporting goods is another line that should be pushed forward during the holidays, as every boy in the land wants a gun for Christmas and guns from a pop-gun to a rifle should be kept in order to satisfy all demands. There are hundreds of novelties that the Hardware store can sell at this time and make a good profit."
Just another reminder that you can learn more about an ancestor's business, life, or town by searching publications and newspapers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

5 Habits for Successful Genealogy Research

There are lots of habits you can develop for success in your genealogy research. Here are five that I'm highlighting:
    Genealogy: 5 Habits for Successful Research
  1. Have a plan - There are so many branches in our family trees that it's easy to get overwhelmed or get off-track while doing genealogy research. Try focusing on one ancestor and making a list of the questions you have. Prioritize these questions and then work on finding the available resources that may lead you to the answers.
  2. Put an ancestor’s life in chronological order - By compiling a timeline of your ancestor's life, you'll be able to organize the details you already know. But more importantly, it will help you identify gaps and make it easier to see what additional research is needed. For example, an ancestor may be living with their parents in the 1900 census and then you may have the birth record of his/her first child in 1906. This will remind you that you still need to track down the marriage record, which could lead you to unknown details about parents or residence.
  3. Put aside difficult issues - At some point, you may need to take a break from your brick wall ancestor. When you eventually return to it, you may be surprised to see that you have a new perspective on the issue. Just be sure to keep good notes so you don't duplicate any work that you had previously done.
  4. Learn from others - Even if you've been researching your family history for decades, you can always learn something new from others. There are a lot of great genealogy blogs out there that can give you ideas that can be applied to your own research. I use Feedly to read almost 200 blogs, and I've definitely learned a lot from them.
  5. Keep track of new and updated databases - Websites are constantly adding new databases and updating others. Don’t just search websites once and never return. A great resource for keeping track of the changes to online resources is GenealogyInTime Magazine.
What other habits do you think are critical for building your family tree?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Gift Suggestions, 1921

Here's another example of what you can find by searching The Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr. This ad appeared in The Highland Echo, which was published in 1921 by the Maryville College student body in Maryville, Tennessee:

Genealogy: Ads and The Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Cookies and...Surnames?

I love food, so I definitely can't resist all of the Christmas cookies that are around this time of year. Is it possible that the names of cookies are also surnames? For Crestleaf's Surname Scavenger Hunt contest, I decided to find out:
Genealogy: Cookie Surnames
  1. Gingerbread - There are no Gingerbreads, but I found 331 Ginger surnames and 35 Bread.
  2. Snickerdoodles - There are 17 with the Snicker surname and zero with Doodle.
  3. Sugar Cookies - There are 452 Sugar surnames and 8 with Cookie.
  4. Russian Tea Cakes (my favorite!) - There are 143 with the surname of Russian.
  5. Chocolate Crinkles - There are 22 Chocolate surnames but zero with Crinkle.
  6. Peanut Butter Blossoms - There are 613 Blossom surnames.
  7. Buckeyes - There are 37 with the surname Buckeye.
  8. Nut Horns - There are lots of Nutt surnames and even more with Horn.
  9. Thumbprints - There are 24 Thumb surnames and 4 with Prints.
  10. I also found the names of Bake, Kitchen, and Oven.
I hope I didn't make you too hungry! What other Christmas cookies would you add?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Who Was the Census Taker?

Back in October, I read a post on Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems blog called "See what this intriguing census taker had to say about the neighbors." Lisa wrote about some unusual entries made by a census enumerator in the 1875 census and provided some details about his life.

Her post got me thinking. I don't recall ever looking to see who the census takers were for my ancestors' neighborhoods. I've looked at lots of census pages but never paid attention to the enumerator. Wouldn't it be great if one of my relative's names appeared on the top of the page as the census taker?

Well, I randomly pulled up census pages to take a look, and there was no such luck with that wishful thinking. But I did find something interesting for the 19th Ward of Pittsburgh (Mt. Washington). In the 1930 census, the enumerator was Anna M. Allen and, in 1940, it was Bessie Dorgan. I'm guessing that female census takers weren't that unusual, but it still caught me by surprise. So like Lisa, I wanted to find out more.

In 1930, Anna M. Allen was a 41-year-old widow who lived in the Mt. Washington area of Pittsburgh, the same area where she worked as a census enumerator. Her husband Charles J. Allen had been a city fireman but died of pneumonia two years earlier, leaving her a single mother of three children: Charles, Ida and Edna.

In 1940, Bessie Dorgan was a 49-year-old widow who lived on Mt. Washington (though she was not the census taker on the page where her family is listed). Her typical occupation was a stenographer and had completed one year of college, but she had been unemployed for 64 weeks. Bessie's parents were James Burns and Anna Dunn, both from Ireland, and her husband Charles P. Dorgan died in 1917 of pneumonia, leaving her with two sons under the age of 3 at the time. Bessie passed away at Pittsburgh's Mercy Hospital at the age of 72.

Two women faced with the difficult task of raising children alone did what they needed to do in order to support their family, if only temporarily. They became census workers, and their names and handwriting will be visible to their descendants for generations to come.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

History & Art at the Ward Museum

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my family and I took a vacation to the East Coast. One of our day trips was a drive to the The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, Maryland. My husband loves duck decoys, so he was really looking forward to it. My son & I weren't sure what to expect.

I must say that I was completely surprised and absolutely charmed by the place. It's a lovely and interesting museum. We learned about the history of duck hunting and how the decoy evolved from just a functional item to a piece of art. The Ward brothers and their neighbor, Lloyd Tyler, were highlighted in the collection. Their lives and those of other carvers were described, which I loved most of all. You can find genealogy everywhere!

The museum was history and art rolled into one. If you're ever in the area, I would highly recommend that you stop and check it out.

Do you have any artists in your family tree?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Genealogy Messages on

I love hearing from other genealogy researchers. A cousin in Michigan tracked me and my sister down several years ago, and I really enjoyed sharing information with him. Several people have commented on this blog and emailed me, and I think that's great.

I've also received messages on, but I'm surprised that several of them have left me scratching my head. At the risk of sounding judgmental--which my son would be quick to point out--I am writing this post as a gentle reminder to take the time to make sure you're sending useful messages to your possible cousins and fellow researchers.

For example, I received an Ancestry message that simply said "Hello cousin!" and a surname in the subject line. That surname is in my online family tree, but it's not really a relative. I sometimes get carried away and save details about the families of in-laws and other people who aren't directly related. Another person wrote, "I see our branches cross... I did not know I had so many relatives out there." In both cases, I wish the person would have given more details so that I could figure out our relationship or would have asked a question to make it easier to reply.

Please keep reaching out to others while you do your genealogy research, but remember to think about your message before you hit the send button.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving and Family Reunions

Thanksgiving is the time of family gatherings. In the past, when transportation wasn't as quick or convenient, it may have been one of the few times during the year when everyone was able to get together. If you search old newspapers, you'll see many mentions of Thanksgiving family reunions.

I found this article on from the December 7, 1905, issue of The Lima News in Ohio:

"The Bowers family held their annual family reunion, Thanksgiving, at the home of L.E. Crites and wife. An elegant dinner was served, the table groaning under its weight of good things to which all did ample justice. L.E. Crites and Chas Hood especially enjoyed this part of the program.
The sixty relatives gathered found many causes for thanksgiving, especially that (while a few were detained at home on account of illness) the hand of death had not visited the family in the past year.
The day was closed with a thank offering, consisting of various articles which were presented to the minister Rev. J.C. Cupp and family. Rev. Cupp gave an interesting talk on family reunions, their purpose and benefit, which all enjoyed. With the sinking of the sun they separated, hoping to meet again, if not here, in a better world beyond."

This family isn't part of my tree, but it's another example of the wonderful stories you can find about your ancestors by searching historic newspapers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Family and Thanksgiving Turkeys

This Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to remember my maternal grandparents who owned a turkey farm located south of Pittsburgh. They sold the farm before I was born so I never saw it, but they supposedly delivered many hundreds of turkeys during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. All of their children were involved, including my mother who helped process the turkeys and make deliveries.

More than 50 years later, I now live less than 5 minutes from where that farm was located. I didn't grow up in the area but, after I got married, my husband and I decided to look at homes here because of lower property taxes and large lots. I wasn't doing genealogy research then or my family roots in the area might have been the reason we bought a home here.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy spending time with your family and friends!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why You Should Celebrate Thanksgiving Day, 1915

I found this article while searching the Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr. It's from The Utah Farmer, November 20, 1915.

"There are many reasons why the people of Utah should celebrate next Thursday, November 25 as Thanksgiving Day. We have this year great grounds for thankfulness by reason of our material prosperity. The fields have yielded their increase. Nowhere in all our land has there been an absolute failure of crops. True, there has been a shortage here and there, but generally the returns to the farmer have been exceptionally good. So far as material things are concerned, we have greater reason for thanksgiving than in any recent years.
Perhaps the present war could not, under existing conditions, have been avoided, but let us pray that the final outcome of this terrible scatastrophy [sic] will open the eyes of all the peoples on earth to a full realization of the fact that war is wrong, and that a means be found by which disarmament will become world-wide and war between nations be forever stopped.
Let us be generous in lending a helping hand to the millions of our brothers and sisters across the Atlantic, who, through no fault of their own, are suffering for want of the bare necessities of life. There is perhaps no better and truer way of showing a thankful spirit than to aid those in need of help.
As we view this dreadful war from this distance, we are apt to conclude that the world's veneer of civilization is very thin indeed and that we are still but a step removed from barbarism. In reality, however, the situation is not so bad as that. None of the nations at war are today fighting because they love to kill and destroy, but rather because of lack of knowledge of how to avoid it. Some day nations will learn to settle their misunderstandings between themselves just as individuals of these same nations are compelled to adjust their difficulties without recourse to fighting."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Historic Pittsburgh Snowstorm of November 1950

In 1950, a huge snowstorm that started Friday, November 24, continued for several days until more than 30 inches had fallen. People abandoned their vehicles, and public transportation was "paralyzed," according to The Pittsburgh Press.

Department stores tried to open but most employees couldn't make it to work. The mayor asked people to stay away from the downtown area so there wouldn't have been many shoppers anyway. Newspaper employees walked, one trekking all the way from the southern suburb of Mt. Lebanon.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette posted an article about this storm last year, and some of the contemporary comments are very interesting. One person said her grandmother went into labor and had to be taken to the hospital on a sled. Another recalled that all of the neighborhood residents had to work together to shovel snow from the street themselves.

My own mother was a young girl at the time and also remembers this historic event. She lived in a rural neighborhood south of Pittsburgh in Washington County. Only one door could be used to exit the house because it was under a covered awning or roof. The others had snow piled up against them. Her family cleared the drive leading up to the house by pushing large snowballs down the hill which picked up snow as they rolled.

But the most memorable part was that her grandmother, Kunigunda Boser Stenglein, had died on Wednesday, November 22. On the day of the funeral, my mom's family couldn't make the drive to Pittsburgh. My mother isn't even sure there was a funeral, unless other relatives who lived near the church were able to walk to it. And her memory is that the cemetery held the body until she could be buried later.

The Pittsburgh Press news story at the time seems to confirm this:
"There were no burials because of the five to six feet snow drifts in cemeteries throughout the district. Funerals were held, in most cases, and the bodies stored in vaults until their graves can be cleared."  
Kunigunda's death certificate, however, says she was buried on Saturday, November 25, in St. Michael's Cemetery. Perhaps being stored in a vault was recorded as a burial on the certificates.

In the midst of all that crazy weather, Kunigunda--who was pregnant when she and her husband made the difficult trip across the Atlantic in 1891, whose eldest son was killed in action during World War I, and who buried 3 other children--was involved in one more difficult situation before she finally could be laid to rest.

My great-grandmother may not have been surrounded by all of her loved ones, but she was not forgotten by them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

5 Genealogy Assumptions That Could Be Wrong

While doing genealogy research, we all make assumptions. As we find pieces of an ancestor's past, formulating hypotheses is part of the process. But you should keep digging to find the facts that either back up your thinking or that lead you in another direction.

Although there are dozens I could list, here are just a few examples of some assumptions that could be mistakenly made as you look for your ancestors:

Assumption #1: When a spouse is no longer in a household, he or she must have died. Even though you may be looking at censuses from a century or more ago, couples did separate and divorce so keep digging for your ancestor in another home. My maternal 2nd great-grandparents appear to have been living separately for up to 20 years and died in different states.

Assumption #2: When an elderly ancestor can't be located in a census, he or she must have died.  Even though life expectancy was lower in the 1900s, an ancestor who was in his 60s in one census and then can't be found in the next census doesn't necessarily mean that he/she died. I located my 3rd great-uncle James Baker in the 1920 census but am still looking for him in the 1930 and 1940 censuses. His Pennsylvania death certificate indicates that he didn't die until 1944, so an assumption that he died between 1920 and 1930 would have been wrong.

Assumption #3: An immigrant ancestor would not have returned to the old country.  We've heard how difficult the trip across the Atlantic was for immigrants, so it would be easy to assume they never left North America after their arrival. My paternal 2nd great-grandfather returned to Germany in 1890, more than 35 years after leaving. On the PBS genealogy show, Finding Your Roots, one of Chef Tom Colicchio's ancestors made the trip back to Italy at least three times.

Assumption #4: A couple living together with children are the parents of those children.  There used to be at least one Ancestry member tree that showed my 2nd great-aunt Christina Belsterling as the mother of my grandfather and his two siblings. She was their aunt, and they went to live with her after their mother died. Christina also was not the mother of the other children in the house; she was their stepmother.

Assumption #5: Your city laborer ancestor couldn't have owned several pieces of property.  My 3rd great-grandfather Peter Klein was a coal miner. When I searched probate records, I really didn't expect to find a will for him. It seemed to be a trend in my family: no photos, no wills, no headstones. I just assumed my family was full of hardworking, but poor, laborers. But Peter did have a will, and it surprised me to read about his plan of 12 lots that he left to his wife and children. A map from 1896 shows it clearly marked as the "P. Klein Plan."

So remember, preliminary assumptions in genealogy research are ok as long as you look for the facts to determine if those assumptions are accurate.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ancestor Birth: Henry Stewart in 1831

On this day in 1831, my husband's 3rd great-uncle was born in McKeesport, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Henry Stewart was the son of Hamilton and Nancy Scott Dinsmore Stewart and stayed in the McKeesport/Versailles area his entire life. He served in the Civil War and then married his wife, Mary Hammond. After Mary and their seven children all died between 1873 and 1875, Henry lived another 30 years on his own. His occupations included farmer, teacher, store clerk, salesman, and shipping clerk.

This is his obituary from The Gazette Times in Pittsburgh on December 25, 1908:
"Henry Stewart, 77 years old, a veteran of the civil war and one of the best known men of McKeesport, died yesterday at his home, 2004 East Tenth avenue, of heart failure and general debility. He was born in McKeesport and was injured at the battle of Wilderness in 1862, after which he returned to McKeesport and married Mary Hammond. He was a member of the First Presbyterian church and the Grand Army of the Republic, having been a past commander and quartermaster of Sam Black post No. 59. But one member of the family survives, a sister, Mrs. Martha Scott of Cedar avenue, North Side. The funeral will take place tomorrow afternoon."
A monument stands in The McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery that lists Henry Stewart, his wife Mary, and the names of all seven children.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Search for Old Addresses, Not Just Names

When searching online publications like books, newspapers, and city directories, try entering the house number and street name where your ancestor lived. If you limit your search to surname, you may miss:

  • results where a name was misspelled, 
  • other relatives with different surnames who also lived at a particular home, or 
  • items that may have just mentioned the location and not the owner. 

For example, searching for a house number and street may lead you to an advertisement or news item where an address appears without your ancestor's name.

In addition, this type of search can help you determine when an ancestor bought or sold a property. When I searched the Historic Pittsburgh website for "2910 Carson" (the home and grocery store of my great-great uncle Henry Jay), I was able to pinpoint when he occupied this building by looking at the city directory search results. In the 1892 city directory, a grocer by the name of Henry C. Snyder was at this address. The 1893 city directory shows the first year my 2nd great-uncle's name was listed at this address. He continued to own this property until his death in 1923. (On another post, you can see a photo of the property as it looks today.)

Post a comment if you have searched for an address and uncovered some useful information about your ancestors.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fashion in November 1896

Fashion isn't my thing, but I thought you might enjoy seeing what your ancestors may have been wearing more than 115 years ago. It caught my eye while I was browsing

The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), November 25, 1896

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Photograph: Genealogy Mystery

The Pennsylvania death certificates on helped me solve a genealogy mystery. You see, the photograph below was in a box with other loose photos that were passed to my father after both of his parents died. But we had no idea who some of the people were. And if you look closely, you will notice something that I missed several times when I looked at this photograph. The man in the middle is missing his right arm. Who was he?

My grandfather and his sister are the children in the first row, and I know the photo was taken before 1918 because, as I wrote in an earlier post, that was the year their mother Albertina died of the Spanish Influenza. She's in the middle of the back row. The only other people I know in the photo are my 2nd great-grandparents: the woman seated in the front row is Mary Baker Klein and the man in the back is her husband Jacob. The other three are a mystery.

I felt the man had to be a close relative because the little girl (my great-aunt Mildred) was leaning against his leg, something I don't think a child would do to a stranger or someone she didn't see often. But I had no idea how to figure out his identity, so I put the photo back in the box where it stayed for several years.

When added a batch of Pennsylvania death certificates up to the year 1944, I entered each family surname into the search box and found the death records for many of my relatives. When I looked at the image of James Baker's death certificate, I knew I had the answer to the mystery of the photograph.

James was a younger brother of Mary Baker Klein, was born in Canada in 1861, and died in Pittsburgh on June 29, 1944. The cause of death was listed as congestive heart failure due to hypertensive heart disease. And next to Other Conditions was written "old amputation of right arm from accident 40 years ago." It was a great genealogy moment.

Please post a comment if you have a similar story of how a death certificate helped you solve a family mystery.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

German Obituary: November 6, 1887

My great-great uncle, Jacob Nehren, died today more than 125 years ago. I know from his death registration and his veteran burial card that he was 44 years old. He died of cirrhosis of the liver, which I assume was a hazard of being a tavern owner.

Jacob served in the Civil War, apparently under the alias William Cline, before he married my great-grandfather's sister. When he was 19, he first enlisted in the Maryland Infantry and was shot in his left forearm 18 months later. After he mustered out, Jacob then enlisted in the Navy. He was honorably discharged almost 4 years later in 1869.

Although Jacob spent time in Maryland both before and after his military service, he ended up in Pittsburgh sometime between the 1870 census and his marriage in 1872. He ran the bar that was previously owned by his father-in-law and was the father of 2 boys who both died before they reached their fourth birthdays.

Jacob's obituary appeared in a German newspaper, Pittsburger Volksblatt, on November 7, 1887. Unfortunately, I don't know what it says. I can make out bits and pieces but am curious as to whether it may contain any clues about him that I don't already know. I see that it says something about Baltimore near the end, which is where his brother Frank Nehren lived.

If you can translate any of this obituary, please leave me a comment. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Family Traditions: German Food

When I was in elementary school, I remember spending a week with my grandparents during several summer breaks. We would go on an outing almost every day. I also remember missing my mom's cooking. Meals just didn't taste the same that week: meats were a little dry and mashed potatoes weren't as creamy. (Sorry, Grandma!)  It just could have been a sign of homesickness, or maybe everyone feels that way about their mother's cooking.

In some handwritten notes I have from my grandmother, she described her German mother as a "wonderful cook and baker." Some of the foods she listed as family traditions were:

Chicken & Dumplings
Rivel Soup
Sour Tongue
Apple Kuchen
Christmas Stollen

Unfortunately, I don't have any recipes that were passed down from my great-grandmother, but clicking on each of the foods above will take you to websites where others describe how to make these dishes. What great recipes did you inherit from your ancestors?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pittsburgh Children's Hospital Fire of 1923

While browsing some historic online newspapers, I came across an obituary for a woman (whose name I've forgotten) who was described as a hero for saving many children during a devastating fire that destroyed the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh on May 31, 1923. I was curious to learn more about this event, so I found this article headline in The Pittsburgh Press.

"Sixty-three children were rescued, 16 firemen, a policeman and a physician were injured or overcome by smoke and escaping formaldehyde fumes and damage estimated at $100,000 resulted when fire swept the administration building of the Children's hospital, Forbes and Ophelia sts., early today." (Source: The Pittsburgh Press, May 31, 1923)
Amazingly, no one died in the fire. This particular article lists the names of 18 who were injured, as well as the dozens of children who were rescued.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween Plus a Genealogy Image Tip

As a mother of a 10-year-old, I couldn't let the day pass without wishing all of you a Happy Halloween. Be safe and have fun!

This image of a Halloween cake comes from American Cookery published in 1914, which I found on Flickr, thanks to Maureen Taylor's Legacy Family Tree webinarA Library at Your Fingertips - the Internet Archive.

While I'm sure I can't explain this as eloquently as Maureen, here are the basic steps to search Flickr for images of things such as an ancestor, a town, or a topic of interest.
  1. Go to the section on Flickr where you can search Internet Archive Book Images. You'll most likely want to bookmark it for future use as well. You can also search the collections of other participating institutions, so there's a lot to explore!
  2. Type in your search term: like I said, it can be an ancestor's surname, a town name, or topic of interest. Make sure you select "Internet Archive Book Images' Photostream" from the search box drop-down that appears when you start to type. For some reason, it disappears quickly so, if you don't select this, you'll be searching all of the photographs that every user has uploaded.
  3. Once you see an image that interests you, just click on it and view the description provided.
  4. Click on the "view book online" link underneath the image details to see how the image appeared in the original publication.
I hope I didn't "spook" you with all of these instructions. Please post a comment if you find any images of people in your family tree!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Learn More about Your Family by Searching eBay

While searching eBay for items relating to Pittsburgh, I came across a listing for an antique trophy. The seller indicated that, after a little cleaning, he was able to see an inscription saying it was awarded to F. J. Zak for first prize in an auto decorating contest during the opening of Pittsburgh's 16th Street Bridge on October 9, 1923.

A quick search on shows that this winner could have been Frank Joseph Zak, who would have been 42 at the time of the contest. I found records showing he was born in August 1881 in Pittsburgh, PA. In the 1900 census, he was living in Allegheny City with his mother Leopoldina and sister Mary.

In 1917, Frank worked as a funeral supplier manager on 7th and Liberty. By 1942, he was employed by a florist on E. Ohio Street and was living on the North Side of Pittsburgh with his wife. There's a lot more information I should be able to find about him, but this gives you an idea of the usual pieces we stitch together about our relatives: dates, locations, occupations, etc.

While all of these facts are extremely important, there's just something great about learning he won a car decorating contest. It shows us more about Frank as a person: his personality, his fun side.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to find more about your ancestor from an item offered for sale on eBay? I haven't been that lucky, but maybe you will!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Family Stories May Upset Descendants

Learning about your ancestors can lead to a story that makes you proud, or one that upsets you. But the truth is the truth, and trying to bury painful stories doesn't change the fact that they happened. However, because of the impact these family stories can have upon descendants, it's important to remember the importance of diligent research, providing sources for all of your findings, and sensitivity. You really don't want to share stories that are based on assumptions, rumors, or partial research.

An article in yesterday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reminded me of how family stories can often be upsetting to living descendants.  "Former residents of Brentwood 'demon' house dispute book's claims" discusses reactions to a new book called The Demon of Brownsville Road. I haven't read this book and don't intend to, but apparently the author has upset the members of three families whose ancestors were associated with a house in Pittsburgh where paranormal activity has been experienced.

Two families dispute that the house is haunted because their parents and grandparents never mentioned it and they themselves never saw anything strange. And a third family objects to the author's assertion that a source of the problems at this house was their physician grandfather who rented space there in the 1920s and 1930s to perform illegal abortions. The newspaper article indicates that the author has no documentation to support these claims against the doctor, just "rumors and old stories ... he was told by Brentwood residents over the years."

While a family fact like this may be true, it's obviously something that living family members would not want to believe. The family claims the grandfather didn't move into the area until the 1940s, and I can't help but wonder if the author checked his timeline of events before including this story in his book.

Research won't change the facts or make painful stories any easier for descendants, but we should be aware of how these types of stories may affect others and should make sure we've been as thorough as possible.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

More Pennsylvania Death Certificates Online

I know how I'm going to use some of my free time this weekend. Oh, the joys of genealogy research! As you may have read yesterday on GeneaBloggers and Genea-Musings, has added more Pennsylvania death certificates. Its database now contains the images from 1906-1963. Previously, it only included records up to 1944.

The great thing about having this collection on Ancestry is that a surname search may help you discover children in your family tree that you didn't know about. In my own experience, I found several cousins who were born and died between censuses, and they may have remained "unknown" until I searched these death certificates.

Keep in mind, though, that the records added in the last batch had many transcription errors, so use wildcards to make sure you don't miss anyone. Since even cities were transcribed incorrectly--like "Pittsburgh, Oa" and "Moline, Hleriois"--surnames will definitely have errors as well. Be sure to try multiple wild card searches for the same surname to cover all possible spellings.

Please post a comment if you find any interesting details about your Pennsylvania ancestors after searching this database.

Friday, October 24, 2014

When Searching for Ancestors, Don't Forget about Ads

This ad is for a business in Pittsburgh that appears in J.F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, 1889/1890. I chose it randomly to show how you may be missing family information when doing your genealogy research. 

Depending on the website, a keyword search could lead you to ads like this. On Ancestry, I found an ad for a saloon that was originally owned by my 2nd-great-grandfather and then passed to his daughter, Kate Nehren. In the 1889 publication, Our Firemen: The History of the Pittsburgh Fire Department, from the Village Period until the Present Time, her name is on the ad as the proprietor so a keyword search of "Nehren" found it.

In other cases, you may have to browse every page of a local publication. When using the wonderful resource Historic Pittsburgh, a keyword search of the 1889/1890 city directory did not result in the Moorhead ad shown above. There were 52 "hits" within the publication for Moorhead, but none of them was this ad. So if you rely only on search results, you could be missing a great piece of information about your ancestor.

Whether you try keyword searches or browse local publications from your ancestor's town and time period, it's worth the effort to look for ads for any family member who owned their own business. You never know what you may find!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Research: Take Time to Help Others

My sister and I visited Melrose Cemetery this month, in search of our great-aunt's second husband, William Triebsch, who died in 1944. Although on a very busy road, it's a peaceful spot in Bridgeville, which is south of Pittsburgh, PA. I haven't found much on the history of Melrose, but a contemporary newspaper indicated it was established in the 1880s. There are some entries in Find A Grave showing people who died before that year, so I don't know if the newspaper's date is incorrect or if those graves were moved later.

When I visit cemeteries, I also try to fulfill photo requests that are listed on Find A Grave. For Melrose Cemetery, there were only five requests. Two did not know the section, and I didn't have enough time to walk the entire property. But luckily my sister and I were able to find the other three headstones. Sadly, one was for a 15-year-old who had died in 1978. The person who requested the photo indicated that the deceased was his best friend when they were younger.

Remember to take a break from your own research to help others, especially when people may live far from a cemetery, courthouse, or library. On a beautiful day in October, I was able to find the headstones of my uncle and his parents and, with little effort, help others lessen the distance between them and a departed friend or family member.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Our Ancestors and Contagion Scares

Ebola is all over the news. People are uncertain, anxious and downright scared. Just imagine what it would have been like for our ancestors almost 100 years ago when the Spanish Influenza hit the world in 1918. Millions of people were infected. Hospitals became completely full, and public areas like schools and churches closed. Masks were distributed, and victims isolated. Everyone must have been extremely frightened.

My great-grandmother Alberta, known as "Albertina" by family, died of influenza in Pittsburgh on November 25, 1918. She was only 36 years old. Albertina left behind her husband and three children aged 12, 10, and 6. (Two other children had died as infants more than a decade earlier.)

As with many families, her death had a lasting impact on her children. Unable to care for them while he worked as a policeman, and I'm sure dealing with grief, my great-grandfather sent his children to live with his sister. She was 15 years older than their mother and already had 2 stepsons in the house, so I'm sure it was difficult time for everyone. Sadly, I've heard family stories that this aunt was not kind to them.

Albertina's death certificate indicates that the doctor started treating her on November 3. The length of her illness was different than some other victims. Many died within a couple of days, or just a few hours, of showing symptoms.

Millions of people died from this strain of flu, so the fear within families, neighborhoods, and entire cities and countries would have been rampant. Although the world has advanced during the last 100 years, that same type of fear is being seen with Ebola.

They say history often repeats itself, but they also say we can (and should) learn from it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Happy Anniversary to My Grandparents

My grandparents were married exactly 80 years ago today on October 17, 1934, in Pittsburgh.

I was close to my Grandma and miss her very much, so I'm lucky to have a collection of cards that my grandfather gave her many years ago. Below is one she received before they were married. She also pasted into the back of her scrapbook a small yellowing newspaper clipping about their engagement. I later found that it was in the September 21, 1934, edition of The Mt. Washington News:
"Why does J.B. ... whistle while at work? It seems that he has been bitten by the love bird and his wedding is not far off. The girl--we hear she is some very nice girl from out in Beechview somewhere. Congratulations, John, and good luck."
Greeting cards like this may not help with genealogy research, but they are a great reminder that we should try to learn as much as we can about the personal side of our ancestors. I would never have thought that my grandfather called himself Johnny!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Who Was Your Ancestor's Employer?

When you look at a census page, think about all of the information it's showing you. In the 1900 census, I can see that my great-grandmother, Alice Laubersheimer, was single and living at 955 Western Avenue in Allegheny City, PA. But this record also gives me a small window into her life. It tells me that she was a servant for a doctor, and learning more about him can give me a sense of who she came in contact with while doing her job.

Alice worked for Dr. Lewis H. Willard, a surgeon in Allegheny City, who had a wife and two children. There were three other servants who worked with Alice.
"L.H. Willard, M.D., a native of Pennsylvania, was graduated at the Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania, and in 1866 located in Pittsburgh as resident physician in the Pittsburgh Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary. In 1867 he resigned this position and removed to Allegheny City... He has quite an extensive reputation as a surgeon." (Source: History of Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania, 1876)
Christina Schoeppner, the second wife of my great-grandfather, also worked for a physician. Her residence in 1900 was the home of Walter F. Edmundson at 3509 Fifth Avenue in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh. She was one of two servants who assisted the family, which included three sons and the parents and grandmother of Dr. Edmundson's wife.
"Dr. Walter F. Edmundson, who has practiced medicine in Pittsburg for over thirty-six years, is the son of Eli and Catherine A. (Batman) Edmundson, and was born at the corner of Smithfield street and Third avenue, Pittsburg. He is a descendant of one of seven brothers who emigrated from England with William Penn." (Source: A Century and a Half of Pittsburg and Her People: Genealogical Memoirs of the Leading Families of Pittsburg and Vicinity, 1908)
Although employers are not part of your family tree, researching them can be a way to learn a little about the lifestyle to which your ancestors may have been exposed while working for them.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Family Naming Patterns

When I was pregnant with my son--I'll refer to him as "J"--I wasn't doing genealogy research yet. So when my husband and I were making a list of possible names, it never occurred to me to pick a name from our families. If it had, he could have ended up as an Adam, or Isaac, or even Peter.

Choosing a given name based on family members was a common practice in the past, though. This was often done as a way of honoring them. Depending on a couple's ethnicity and whether the child was the first-born or the fourth, a son could have been named after a grandfather, the father's brother, or the father himself.

Another pattern you may see when researching your family is that a mother's maiden name was used as a child's middle name. I've found a few examples of this in my husband's family, where various parents gave their children the middle names of Dinsmore, Pollock, and Gamble. All were the maiden names of their mothers.

My grandfather's first and middle names were John Baptist. He was named after his father Johann Baptist, who was named after his father Jean Baptiste. Three generations with the same name. My husband is a Jr. but didn't want our son to have the same name, so that family pattern was ultimately broken. In the end, it was a coincidence but "J" ended up with the name of one of his 2nd great-grandfathers.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Be a Genealogy Skeptic

When doing genealogy research, don't believe everything you hear and everything you find. Even if you really, really want it to be the truth, details you uncover may be inaccurate. I'm here to tell you that it's perfectly ok to question.

For example, my 2nd great-grandfather was a Civil War veteran. I have a packet of his military records that confirms his service. When he died in Ohio in 1893, though, there were some statements in his obituary that don't seem to add up.

First, the Toledo Bee obituary says that he "came to America directly after the war [the German revolution of 1848] with Hecker and Schurz, two of the leaders in the revolution." Second, it says "Mr. Jay was a great personal friend of Gen. Hartranft, ex-governor of Pennsylvania, and was one of the pallbearers at the funeral of the ex-governor."

Ok, both things could be true. Who knows, maybe he was on the same ship with Hecker and Schurz before they ended up in completely different U.S. cities. And who's to say that a saloon owner couldn't be best buds with a governor? They weren't in the same Civil War regiment and lived more than 200 miles from each other, but that's not TOO far-fetched, is it?

He could be mentioned in the Governor's archived letters or perhaps there's a newspaper story that names the men who were pallbearers that day. But until I find something to connect him with these famous men, I choose to be skeptical. Remember, family members don't always get it right in stories, obituaries, or death certificates. Questioning can actually be a good thing and makes us better researchers.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

View Ancestor Homes without Traveling

My family doesn't have many old photographs. I can't look at images of my ancestors in front of their homes or in their neighborhoods. Census records and city directories tell me that Henry Jay, the brother of my great-grandfather, lived in and owned a grocery store at 2910 East Carson Street on the South Side of Pittsburgh from 1893 to the 1920s, but what did it look like? 

Well, there are places online you can search to try to get a glimpse of the past. One resource, of course, is Google Maps. This great shot of my great-uncle's home/store is courtesy of Google. The building still has its historic charm, so I can imagine that it looked very similar when his family lived there and neighbors stopped in to buy their weekly groceries.

There also are some local government websites that may have photographs, basic floor plans, and the age of homes where your ancestors lived. In the Pittsburgh area, the Allegheny County Office of Property Assessments has images of every home and is searchable by address. Wapello County, Iowa, and Cook County, Illinois, are just two others that have similar property search sites with photographs.

If you live far from your ancestral roots, try digging for similar websites. No travel required.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Immigration: Leaving Children Behind

We've all heard the stories where a father went to America and left his wife and children behind until he could start a new life and save money for them to join him. But I'm not sure how common it was for both parents to come to the U.S. without their children.

Fifteen-year-old Annie Moore, the first person to enter through Ellis Island when it opened in 1892, traveled with her younger brothers to join her parents who had come to America three years earlier. So it definitely happened. As a mother myself, it's hard to imagine leaving my son and not knowing when, or if, I'd ever see him again. It had to be a difficult decision for both parents to leave behind a child.

In 1864, my 2nd great-grandparents, Ignace and Caroline Huber, were married in Paris, France, and worked as a tailor and dressmaker. Their first son, Alphonse, was born that same year. I'm not sure when the couple left France but, by 1868, city directories show they were in Allegheny City, which is now part of Pittsburgh, PA. The 1870 census shows that Alphonse--6 years old by this time--wasn't with them. He didn't see his parents again until 1871 when he arrived in the U.S. with his uncle, Emil Wey. Alphonse was separated from his parents for at least 3 years.

During your research, have you found a similar immigration story of both parents leaving their children to come to America?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Occupations of Your Ancestors

I'm sure most of us would love to find out that our family tree contained royalty or a connection to someone famous. I vaguely remember hearing some story that one of my 2nd great-grandfathers was an exiled Prussian prince who escaped to America. Not likely.

My husband's ancestors include lawyers, doctors, and even one of the first residents of a town south of Pittsburgh. Mine? Mostly laborers: steelworkers, puddlers, coal miners, and glasshouse workers. There were a couple of tavern and shop owners. One of my great-grandfathers was a police officer, and his brother was a fireman.

But I'm proud of my family. They may have been common "everyday" people, but they're my family and I still think they are worthy of researching, remembering, and honoring. Don't research to find sensational stories. Research to learn more about your ancestors' lives and the times in which they lived.

If you need any help researching your family history, please contact me. If you're stuck, maybe I can take a look at it with a fresh eye and find something new.

(Puddler photograph courtesy of Christopher Bailey and the Father Pitt blog.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sadly, Research Doesn't Find All Answers

It's disturbing that a search of Pennsylvania death certificates on shows that close to 5,000 people who died between 1906 and 1944 were not identified. Simply listed as "Unknown Man" or "Unknown Female," they basically disappeared.

Here are some examples:

  • Unknown man, about 75 years old, died in Philadelphia of heart disease on March 12, 1916
  • Unknown woman, about 50 years old, died in Wilkes-Barre of acute alcoholism on January 31, 1930
  • Unknown male child, found along the river in Harrisburg, February 20, 1920
  • Unknown foreigner, died in Uniontown Hospital after lower limbs were crushed by a streetcar, September 14, 1907

Their family at the time probably never knew what happened, and those searching for them today will never know. It's heartbreaking.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Which Newspaper Site Is Best for Your Genealogy Research?

There are some sites you can visit to access historical newspapers for free. Chronicling America from the Library of Congress is definitely one you should explore. But if you're thinking about subscribing to one of the paid newspaper websites, it's easy to get confused. Which one should you choose for your research?

Some of the paid sites include:

Basically, one site isn't best for everyone. I subscribed to GenealogyBank for a year because it seemed to have the most newspapers. But I found out that it didn't work well for my genealogy research because it didn't have many newspapers around the Pittsburgh, PA area. I now work with and have been much happier with what I'm finding. The number of Pittsburgh newspapers is still limited, but I've found some great information on relatives in newspapers from nearby Canonsburg, Indiana, and Monongahela.

Be sure to sign up for a free trial to test out a newspaper website before you commit. Newspapers are a key resource for your genealogy research, so it's important to find the one that's best for you.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Don't Be Afraid of Cemeteries

One of my favorite activities is to visit cemeteries. With my job and being a mom, I don't go very often, but I've dragged my sister to about 5 cemeteries in the Pittsburgh area. Very few of our relatives have headstones. But when we do find one, it's a beautiful moment.

For those of you who also love cemeteries and Pittsburgh, you have to check out this blog: Pittsburgh Cemeteries | The Art and Architecture of Death. There are photos of headstones from cemeteries located all over the Pittsburgh area, with new images added almost every day. I love this site!

If you have any questions about your family history, please contact me. I could spend all day digging for answers, so I'd love to help.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Research Can Lead You to a Murder

I stumbled upon this article from 1906, describing the horrible accidental death of Lena Abel in Pittsburgh, PA. She's not a relative, but it caught my eye. She was so young.

I had just been searching, so I was curious to know where she was buried. Since Pennsylvania death certificates for the years 1906-1944 are on, I decided to search for Lena there. Her death certificate popped up on my computer screen. She was born in Germany, was the daughter of Joseph & Mary Lang, and was buried in St. Michael's Cemetery on the South Side of Pittsburgh. Several of my Stenglein ancestors are there, too.

But are you ready for a shock? It says on her death certificate that she had burns but died of stab wounds. Apparently, someone started the fire to cover up the crime.

The article above from appeared in The Indiana Gazette on January 8, 1906. I browsed The Pittsburgh Press in the Google archive and found more details. Her husband, Andrew, was detained because the story of his morning activities didn't add up. Also, a man who roomed at the Abel house indicated that they argued a lot.

The 1910 census shows Andrew J. Abel was an inmate in the Western Penitentiary of Pennsylvania in Allegheny County, so he must have been convicted of her murder.  R.I.P. Lena Lang Abel.