Friday, September 25, 2015

Embrace the Living

My family lost a bright light this week. She was gone suddenly and too soon at the age of 43. Our hearts are hurting, but I'm so thankful for the love and happiness she gave my brother while she was here.

Genealogy helps us honor and remember those who have passed. But since our time with loved ones may be painfully short, make sure you embrace the living.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Charles Labbe of Ohio, Boot & Shoe Dealer

Charles Labbe lived his entire life in Canal Fulton, Stark County, Ohio. He was the brother-in-law of my 2nd great-uncle, Charles Eugene Huber of Akron.

Charles Labbe's father was an immigrant from Bavaria who settled in Canal Fulton in the 1850s and set up shop as a shoemaker. In 1870, Charles was working as a shoemaker apprentice, so it looks like he joined the family business. From the 1880 census to the 1920s, he was identified as a boot & shoe merchant. Charles had retired by 1930.

The Labbe family appeared in newspapers a few times. In 1898, Charles' son Cornelius was accidentally shot & killed at the age of 15 by a friend:

The Massillon Evening Item (Ohio), July 15, 1898

And in 1906, the Labbe family's house was struck by lightning:

Coshocton Daily Age (Ohio), August 1906

Charles Labbe died in September 1942 at the age of 85. His wife, Louise, was 95 years old when she died in 1955. They are buried in Saints Philip and James Church Cemetery in Canal Fulton, Ohio.

An interesting side note: When Charles' sister, my 2nd great-aunt Rachel, visited him in early 1942, it was mentioned in the local newspaper. However, it used her name from the first marriage, Rachel LaCroix, even though her first husband had died and she had been Mrs. Charles E. Huber since 1919.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Another September Birthday: Mom

To celebrate my mom's birthday today, I'm posting this candid photo of her in a skirt and pearls, most likely playing basketball. She used to sew her own clothes, so she probably made this outfit.

It may seem like a strange choice, and I could have posted a posed shot. But I think this is a perfect example of how I view my mom: she's beautiful, creative, and a tomboy all rolled into one. She grew up with 3 brothers, so it's no surprise she was as tough as the boys.

Happy Birthday, Mom. You're one of a kind!

Related Post: Happy 80th Birthday, Dad

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Census of New York Poorhouses, 1830-1920

I stumbled upon this New York state record for John A. Bernardy, who may be connected to my family tree. I need to investigate him further, but I wanted to share it because these images on provide a lot of great information.

John A. Bernardy, 1906

Here's what this record from the New York County Almshouse told me about John:
  • Date of Admission:  February 13, 1906
  • Age:  42
  • Marital Status:  Single
  • Last Residence:  315 E. 26 St., NYC
  • Birthplace:  Germany
  • Length of Time in United States:  22 years
  • Length of Time in New York:  22 years
  • Naturalization Details:  N.Y. Sup. Court, December 21, 1886
  • Occupation:  Peddler
  • Religion:  Catholic
  • Habits:  Temperate
  • Physical Condition:  Loss of Left Leg
  • Cause of Dependence:  Destitute
  • Father's Name, Birthplace, Occupation:  Alexander, Germany, Grocer
  • Mother's Name:  Elizabeth Echement
  • Able to perform any labor:  No
  • Ever received public relief:  Yes
  • Inmate of an Almshouse or other Institution:  In Bellevue, 10 months

The record for 17-year-old Edward Gribben shows that he had been in the state of New York for only one week in 1919 when he was admitted to the New York County Home, Manhattan Division, due to lack of employment. His parents were living in Baltimore, Maryland, so we can assume that's where young Edward was before his arrival in New York.

Edward Gribben, 1919

Many of the records don't list parent names, but they do provide a snapshot of each person during a difficult time in his or her life.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Wanted: "Sober Barber"

Do you have any barbers in your family tree? My 2nd great-uncle, James Francis Simmons, was a barber in Brownsville, Fayette County, Pennsylvania when he got married in 1903. He eventually owned at least two barber shops in Pittsburgh: one was downtown on Diamond Street in the 1910s and the other was on Grandview Avenue in the Mt. Washington area.

So the following letter to the Editor in a 1922 trade magazine called The Journeyman Barber caught my eye:

"Who ever saw an advertisement for a cigarmaker, tailor, shoe maker, hatter, or of any other trade but barber, prefaced with 'no boozer' need apply? And yet we frequently see advertisements for barbers with this admonition, 'no boozer,' or 'sober barber wanted.'  And how many stop to consider what it really signifies? It gives the impression that the majority of barbers are boozers and unreliable. It is an insult to the barber profession, and no self-respecting barber will accept a position to work for one who will lower himself and his profession by casting such aspersion on the trade. We hear and read a great deal about elevating the barber profession; and a great deal of improvement has been made during the past thirty years toward bringing the barber to a higher and more respectable position in society. But still we have some of those thoughtless, pinheaded, narrow-minded, would-be aristocratic barbers (there are not words in the English vocabulary to sufficiently describe them), that persist in such advertisements, which when read by the public, are given the impression that the average barber is a soak, and unreliable, and that the few sober gentlemen who are in need of help, have to advertise for a 'sober barber' in order to secure such reliable help."

Could this actually have happened? Apparently, yes. When I did a search for "sober barber" on, the total number of results was over 1600 matches. Here are two examples from Pittsburgh newspapers:

The Pittsburgh Post, December 14, 1902

The Pittsburgh Gazette Times, July 6, 1916

You never know what you may learn about your ancestors' occupations from trade publications and newspapers...

Friday, September 11, 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wow! Washington State Pioneer Interviews

Old Locomotive Train
My husband's 2nd great-uncle, Harvey Stewart Kirkendall, had moved from Saltsburg, Indiana County, Pennsylvania to Helena, Montana by 1890 and then on to Spokane, Washington by 1894. The Washington State Genealogical Society would consider Harvey a "First Citizen" because he was living there between November 11, 1889 (when Washington became a state) and December 31, 1900.

Somewhat hidden in a FamilySearch collection called Washington, County Records, 1803-2010 are some interviews of early Washington state residents that are extremely interesting to read. While it's saved under Spokane County, "Pioneer Interviews, 1933-1937" also includes people who settled in other counties. It isn't indexed, so you can only browse the 278 images but, if you have ancestors who moved west to live in Washington, it may be worth your time to take a look. The number of interviews isn't very large, but you never know who you may find!

Interview questions included name, birth place, birth date, parents' names, parents' birth places, date he/she came west, reason for coming west, mode of travel, early employment, and names of neighbors. The total questionnaire is three pages, and some individuals also have additional pages with more detailed memories and stories. There are no Kirkendalls included in this project, but here's a brief look at just 10 of those who were interviewed:
  1. Alice M. Bradley Horton - moved from Minnesota to Daisy, Washington in 1890 "on account of my father's health";
  2. Mary Emma Hall Clinton - born in Maine, she moved West in 1883 "to obtain work" and settled 5 miles from Colville in an area called Spanish Prairie; 
  3. David M. Coonc - born in Nebraska, he moved to Daisy in 1902 "on account of the cyclones in the East";
  4. Louisa M. Rivers Damp - born in Canada, she came to Colville with her uncle for a visit in 1881 and felt she was needed, so she stayed and "taught the Indian children school and music";
  5. Robert T. Downey - from Ireland and then Ontario, he moved in 1907 to Rice because he "had been traveling from place to place and heard that Washington was a wonderful place in which to live so decided to go there";
  6. Oliva Ruff Farquhar - born in Iowa, she and her husband moved to Spokane in 1906 "for the betterment of their boy. He wanted to learn the printer's trade and they felt that he would have more opportunity than at the towns in the east";
  7. Charles R. Fish - he was from New York and moved to Kettle Falls in 1889 "for experience and to find work";
  8. Elmer J. Gifford - moved from Michigan to Pullman, Washington in 1884 "just for a different location";
  9. Ben C. Gregory - born in Indiana, he moved in 1890 to Elma as part of the great migration from Kansas; and 
  10. John Hobson - from Iowa and Kansas, he moved to Waterville in 1887 because he "had the 'West fever' for the fresh air and mountain scenery."

This is another example of what you can find by looking at all of the collections on websites like FamilySearch. Focusing on just surname searches could mean that you're missing some records from your ancestors' locations that can only be browsed.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day Souvenir Program, 1894

In honor of Labor Day, here's an ad that appeared in the 1894 publication, Official Program and Souvenir, Labor Day, Grand Rapids, Mich.  Clearly, Mr. Livingston thought his image was important for attracting business to the hotel and, if this was my ancestor, I would be thrilled that he included it!

1894 Ad for Livingston's Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan

There are some interesting things to note about this souvenir program:
  • There are a lot of ads that include images and not just text, so it's quite enjoyable to browse the pages and see the businesses from that time period;
  • A few ads from other states appear, such as Illinois and Ohio, so if your ancestors owned a business, don't forget to search surrounding areas for ads since they may have placed them in nearby cities in other states; and
  • Various photos of city and state leaders show how your ancestors may have looked at the time; bushy mustaches seem to have been extremely popular!

Another souvenir program from Michigan, Official Labor Day Souvenir, Owosso, Mich., printed this paragraph about Labor Day, 1895:
"Labor Day ... will probably be more extensively celebrated than ever before. Certainly the element of enjoyment will enter into the celebration in a greater degree than it did a year ago, when so many thousands were out of employment and so many other thousands were suffering from depression of spirits as a result of the failure of the big strike led by the American Railway Union. During the past few months the workingman's sky has been growing steadily brighter. Mills and factories that had shut down for an indefinite period when the financial panic swept over the country have been resuming operations one by one, until now the great majority of them are giving employment to the usual number of men, and wages are gradually getting back to a satisfactory basis. In addition to this there has been legislation in a number of states calculated to benefit organized labor in a greater or less degree; so it may reasonably be inferred that the workingmen are in a frame of mind to enjoy their annual holiday."

Enjoy the holiday!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Happy 80th Birthday, Dad

Today is a special day: my dad's birthday! He has accomplished much in his life, both personally and professionally, but I'm most proud of the family life he's built with my mom over the last 56 years, which includes seven children and 11 grandchildren.

Happy birthday to my dad who loves to laugh, seems to know about almost every topic, and would do anything for his family. As someone told me a few months ago, "The world would be a better place if there were more people like him."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Blair Company, Pittsburgh Printer

When my maternal grandfather was a young adult in the 1920s, he operated a printing press. Since his employer is listed in some city directories, I know that he was a pressman for at least four years with The Blair Company in Pittsburgh. Here's one of their advertisements:

Ad for The Blair Company, Pittsburgh printers, 1919
The Pittsburgh Gazette Times, March 21, 1919

In May of 1921 when my grandfather was an apprentice, pressmen and others in the printing industry went on strike in many cities across the country, including Pittsburgh. The main issue was the number of hours per week, with the union wanting to reduce the work week to 44 hours.

Many Pittsburgh printers, like The Blair Company and Anderson & Grater (where my grandfather worked in 1930), joined together to place large ads in newspapers to voice their opposition, like the one below:

The Pittsburgh Post, April 28, 1921 (partial list of printers)

In July 1921, employees in various cities gave up and started to return to their 48-hour work week.