Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Those Spunky Female Ancestors!

I mentioned Kate Jae Nehren Jackson in another post and how she was one of the strongest women in my family tree. The following newspaper blurb gives a great example of this. Love it!

The Pittsburgh Post (Pennsylvania), March 30, 1888

Note: Her husband, Jacob Nehren, had died the previous year of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 44.

Related Post:  Family Birth: Walter Charles Jackson in 1890

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Will of Julia Gamble of Saltsburg, Pennsylvania

Will Book, Indiana County, PennsylvaniaIt's always a thrill to find an ancestor's will, and I particularly love those that list specific possessions. There aren't many wills for relatives in my family tree, but my husband is much more fortunate.

Julia L. Gamble, who lived her entire life in Pennsylvania--both in Kiskiminetas, Armstrong County, and Saltsburg, Indiana County--was my husband's 3rd great-aunt. She was not married and signed her last will and testament on February 4, 1900:
"Last Will and Testament of Julia L. Gamble, of Saltsburg, Indiana County, Pennsylvania:
Item. I direct that my just debts be fully paid.
Item. I nominate and appoint M. Wilson Stewart my sole executor. [This was the 35-year-old son of her sister Elizabeth Gamble Stewart. Elizabeth had died the previous year at the age of 58.]
Item. I direct my executor to sell my real estate as soon as he may conveniently do so for a fair and reasonable price, hereby giving my said executor full power to make, execute and deliver all necessary deeds or other instruments of conveyance to pass my title in said real estate.
Item. I direct my executor to retain $200.00 to be used by him in paying funeral expenses of Mother and brother Robert, whenever such events occur, $100.00 for each. [Julia's mother, Fannie Moore Gamble, died the following year at the age of 89.]
Item. I direct my executor to expend $500.00 for a monument and in improvement and care for the cemetery lot.
Item. I give my gold watch to my niece Grace Shadle. [Grace was the youngest child of her sister, Nancy Gamble Kirkendall, and had been married for a year to John Wherry Shadle.]
Item. I give my gold chain to my nephew Scott Stewart. [Scott was the youngest child of her sister Elizabeth.]
Item. Of my trinkets, clothes and other similar possessions sister Fanny is to get anything she wants; she can divide with the rest of them if she wants to. [Her sister was Fannie Gamble Kiebler.]
Item. All the rest, residue and remainder of my property in possession or to which I may be entitled, I direct my executor to use in support of Mother and Robert, and the balance if any to give to my niece Fanny Gamble. [Her niece Fanny was the only daughter of her brother, John Gamble.]
Item. I revoke all former wills and testaments by me made.
In witness of this my last will and testament I hereto set my hand and seal this Fourth day February A.D. 1900. 
Julia must have known she was dying, since she passed the next day, on February 5, 1900, at the age of 62. Her obituary stated that she suffered from "a lingering illness from a complication of diseases."

Related Post:  Peruse Probate Records

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Oh, Foolish Young Love

My 2nd great-aunt, Elizabeth Jae Kuckert, became the stepmother of four children when she married Jacob Kuckert in Pittsburgh around 1877. One of these stepchildren was Edward G. Kuckert, whose daughter would make front-page news in 1919.

Irene Kuckert was born in 1903 and apparently fell in love with Edward H. Price. Their scheme to marry didn't turn out quite as they had hoped:

The Gazette Times (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), March 22, 1919

I'm assuming the marriage was declared null and void, but I still need to do more digging to find out what happened and if her aunt and suitor were punished. It appears that Irene might have been sent away because the very next year she was working as a housekeeper in East Liverpool, Ohio, even though her parents were still in the Pittsburgh area. 

Dear Irene then quickly fell in love again! In July 1920, she lied about her age to marry a glass worker named Andrew Schneider in Lisbon, Columbiana County, Ohio. The marriage license application showed her age as 20 when she was really only 17. But perhaps the event wasn't scandalous this time since a notice was published in the local newspaper:

East Liverpool Review (Ohio), July 10, 1920

I'm not sure yet what happened to the couple but, by her father's death in 1936, her name was Irene Leonard and she was living in Gary, Indiana. No matter what choices she made during her youth, I hope Irene's life was full of love.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Don't Forget Fathers

As we take time to remember and honor all fathers today, here's an excerpt from an article on Newspapers.com that appeared in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on June 20, 1920:

Fathers' Day Traditions

"In time, if we all do our share, Fathers' Day will come to be as much observed as is Mothers' Day. Surely we are not going to forget the fathers. It is a pleasant custom, isn't it, to put aside one day a year to do some little special thing for mother, so that she will know that her children never forget that she has given them more than anybody else in the world. It is equally pleasant to have a day just to make a little return to father for the sacrifices he makes and the love and care he gives to his family.

Of course, one day for each parent is a sweet way of expressing love for those who cared for us when we could not care for ourselves, but the true son and daughter will do their best to make every day a 'Mothers' Day' and a 'Fathers' Day' as well. For it is, after all, the little things that are done every day in the year that impress themselves most on those around us, and mothers and fathers everywhere appreciate daily manifestations of love, however trivial, more than they care for one big remembrance for a day only and forgetfulness for the rest of the year."

I am fortunate to be spending time with my father today. Happy Fathers' Day, Dad!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Romance Existed in 1884

I'm not romantic at all. If there's a gene that determines this personality trait, I definitely didn't get it. So as I research marriages of the past, I tend to assume that couples married more for practical reasons than love and romance. Especially in rural areas, there couldn't have been many opportunities to meet eligible partners.


But then, as I was searching Newspapers.com, I came across the little blurb above in the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette dated September 23, 1884. How sweet! The birthday girl was my great-great aunt Mary Jae Prill, and she had been married to Charles for four years. She probably loved her serenade.

Note: The genealogist in me can't help but point out that it wasn't Mary's 28th birthday; she was actually 30. Not that I want to rain on her party...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Portraits in Souvenir Programs

For those of you with ancestors who owned businesses, advertisements may give you more than just details about where the business was located. In some instances, particularly if the ad was in a souvenir publication, you may be lucky to see a photograph of them.

In the 1908 Sesqui-Centennial and Historical Souvenir of the Greater Pittsburgh, there are several ads that include a portrait of the owner. Here is one of J.W. Ruhlandt, whose cafe and bar was located on the South Side of Pittsburgh.

Genealogy and Souvenir Program Ads
From Sesqui-Centennial and Historical Souvenir of the Greater Pittsburgh, 1908

An even better find is in the 1902 Souvenir History, McKeesport Police Department, which can be viewed on Ancestry.com. On one page is a photo of Braddock businessman Jacob Klaus and on another is a nice biography. Love it!




Neither of these gentlemen are in my family tree, but I hope this post inspires you to look for advertisements in similar publications where your ancestors lived. A search of "souvenir" on the HathiTrust Digital Library website is a good place to start.

Related Posts:


Monday, June 15, 2015

A Family Death on the Day of Her Birth

Calendar - Genealogy and Birth & Death Dates
My husband's great-grandmother, Gertrude Kress, was born in Germany on June 16, 1862. Although she would live a long life, it's sad to know that she died on her birthday.

Gertrude decided to move to America and left her parents at the age of 19. She arrived in Baltimore on July 9, 1881, and seemed to be traveling alone. She probably knew someone living in the U.S. because she indicated she was headed to Pennsylvania.

Two years later, she was married to Casper Kaufman, a farmer living in Washington County, Pennsylvania. They would have at least 10 children together.

Gertrude became a citizen of the U.S. when her husband was naturalized on June 1, 1911. His naturalization petition on Ancestry.com is a great record because it lists the name, birth date, and place of birth for eight of their children.

In 1946, Gertrude was living with one of her daughters, Mary Kaufman Cowden, in Clairton, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, when she died on her birthday at the age of 84. She is buried with Casper in Raccoon Church Cemetery in Candor, Washington County, Pennsylvania. You can view their headstone on Find A Grave.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Vacation Spots of Ancestors

As we approach the official start of summer in the U.S., it's interesting to think about where our ancestors vacationed. Travel took longer, so their favorite spots may have tended to be closer to home. The following railroad advertisement was published in a Pittsburgh newspaper in 1909 and highlights Chautauqua Lake, Muskoka Lakes of Canada, and the New Jersey coast:

The Gazette Times (Pittsburgh, PA), June 28, 1909
In the 1918 publication, Vacation Journeys East and West, the author suggests both eastern and western destinations in his table of contents, such as:
  • Lake Champlain  
  • Saratoga Springs
  • Adirondacks
  • Niagara Falls
  • Lake Chautauqua
  • Yellowstone Falls
  • Grand Canyon
  • Canadian Rockies

It's hard to imagine that my laborer ancestors were able to take many vacations, if any at all. But there were lots of newspaper advertisements that tried to convince people to take trips. One of my favorite vacation spots is Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and this ad was published in 1910:

The Gazette Times (Pittsburgh, PA), June 26, 1910

Related Post:  Our Ancestors Didn't Travel Lightly

Monday, June 8, 2015

From NY to DC and Illinois in Between

The majority of my ancestors settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and never left. So while I love to research my roots in that city, I enjoy looking at records elsewhere.

Lucy Waterman McCurdy was my husband's 3rd great-grandmother, the wife of a shoemaker. According to census records, she was born around 1829 in the state of New York. By the time she was 18, she was marrying Robert McCurdy in Rock Island, Illinois on October 3, 1847.

Lucy gave birth to 4 daughters and stayed in Illinois until they were raised. Unfortunately, when she was only 35 years old, she became a widow when Robert died. Illinois probate records show that a man named Dan Gould was named as the guardian of her girls.

At the age of 71, Lucy was living with the family of one of her daughters in Washington, DC, where she stayed until her death on May 29, 1912. Her body was taken back to Illinois for burial next to her husband. You can view her headstone on BillionGraves.com.

A couple of weeks later, The Washington Times reported that Lucy left her estate to the daughter she had been living with:

The Washington Times (DC), June 13, 1912

Friday, June 5, 2015

Our Ancestors Didn't Travel Lightly

If you're planning a vacation this summer, consider how your ancestors packed for their trips. The advertisement below is for a "manufacturer and jobber of trunks, traveling bags." I would love to own one of these old trunks, but I definitely wouldn't want to travel with it!

Genealogy and Toledo Advertisement
R.L. Polk & Co.'s Toledo City Directory, 1889-90

I have relatives that moved from Pittsburgh to Toledo and were living there when this city directory would have been available to residents. It's surreal to think that they may have looked at the same publication that I'm viewing 125 years later.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Records May Be Wrong Due to Stigma of Divorce

Genealogy Secrets
Although divorce has happened for centuries, it was often hidden from others. Therefore, a divorced woman's marital status may appear incorrectly in various records.

Caroline Betler Baker filed for divorce from my 3rd great-uncle after more than 20 years of marriage. The divorce decree was dated November 18, 1907. However, in each of the four census records after that, Carrie is shown as married or widowed. On her PA death certificate, her daughter listed Carrie's ex-husband as the spouse even though her parents had split forty years earlier.

My first cousin twice removed, Estella Jay Knoepp divorced in 1926. While her 1936 death certificate indicated she was divorced, a Pittsburgh city directory from two years earlier listed her as a widow. Actually, her ex-husband was alive in the state of California and would live another 30 years.

This is another reminder that records are only as accurate as the person who provided the information. And sometimes people didn't want to share the truth.

Related Posts:

Monday, June 1, 2015

Johnstown Flood: "Death and Devastation"

This was the headline from The Pittsburg Post on June 1, 1889:


"Words fail to picture the awful truth of last night's flood. The loss of life reaches into thousands. It cannot be stated more definitely at this time. Johnstown, with its suburbs of Cambria City and Conemaugh borough, having a population of 80,000, are about annihilated. Conemaugh, Woodville, South Fork, and other places, having a combined population of 6,000, are absolutely destroyed. The flood came on so suddenly from the burst embankment of Conemaugh Lake that most of these people must have been caught by the waters."

"The scenes of wreck are indescribable, and the stories of despair of the agonized and helpless victims are pitiful in the extreme."