Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year Advertisement, 1916

This advertisement appeared in the January 1916 issue of St. Nicholas Magazine, which I found by searching the Internet Archive images via Flickr:

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Brother's Visit to Kansas

These Cowden brothers were farmers born in Pennsylvania. One stayed there his entire life, but the other moved to Kansas. This photograph taken in a Kansas studio shows that the brothers were lucky enough to see each other at least one time after that move.

On the back of this photo, the two brothers are identified as James Nelson Cowden and John Cowden. Both men were born in Mt. Pleasant, Washington County, Pennsylvania. John, who was my husband's 2nd great-grandfather, was older by 8 years. James was living in Kansas by 1895.

This wonderful photograph commemorates a visit to Kansas by the older brother. It may have been the last time they saw each other, since John died in 1909.

James Nelson Cowden (left) and John Cowden (right);
Photographer: Miller of Arkansas City, Kansas

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Portrait on a 1910 Christmas Postcard

Have you seen a portrait postcard like this? It's absolutely lovely, and I couldn't let it go when I saw it in an antique shop.

The recipient of the postcard, Mrs. Libbie T. Reeves, was a postmaster in Ohio for more than three decades. The sender is a little harder to identify. The postmark is 1910 from Downington, Ohio, in Meigs County. There were three women with the name Aura who were living in that county in 1910. The most likely match is Aura Mae Wilcox Wood. She was the closest to Libbie's age, and her husband Frank was a mail carrier.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and hope that you enjoy every moment with your family and friends!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lighting the Christmas Candle, 1920

From the December 1920 issue of Farmer's Magazine, a Canadian publication, which can be found in the Internet Archive:

Lighting the Christmas Candle

A Tradition That Is Growing in the Present Day

An old tradition has it that "a lighted candle set in the window on Christmas Eve will guide the Babe of Bethlehem to your home, that he may bring you happiness." In some countries it has long been the custom so to mark the coming of Christmas, and John H. Stedman, of Rochester, N.Y., has originated a movement to spread it in this country, so says a brief article in the Literary Digest. In a pamphlet urging all to light the "Christ-candle" on Christmas Eve he says:

"The Irish will tell you that the Christ-candle was always lighted in their homes in the Emerald Isle as it has been for years and years in Norway and Sweden. Boston has had it for a decade. In Rochester 1916 was our third celebration--the first year a few houses shone--the second over a thousand--the third nearly every one; and it has spread to town, village, and country over a forty-mile radius. Many far-away homes, Wisconsin, Maine, California, Florida, kindled their candles from ours, and when you have lighted yours you will appreciate why."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Millionaire's Will: Must Have Felt Like Christmas

In 1869, Russell Boggs was one of two partners who opened the Boggs & Buhl department store in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, now the North Side of Pittsburgh. Boggs and his wife both died in 1922, and they had no children. So his employees and more than a dozen charities were some of the recipients of his fortune. They must have felt that it was a little like Christmas (in July)!

The Washington Times
 (Washington, DC), July 23, 1922

Note: Allegheny County probate records for 1922 aren't online yet, so I couldn't verify the accuracy of this newspaper article.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Ad Featuring Family

As I take a little holiday break from blogging, I hope you enjoy this vintage advertisement for a 1921 phonograph that I found via Flickr. If this family had been real, they would have appeared in the 1920 census, and someone out there would be researching them today!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Shopping in 1913

With Christmas approaching, you're probably finishing your shopping for items to give to family and friends. I came across this great image from 1913 while searching the Internet Archive book images on Flickr. It makes me extra grateful for online shopping!

From Christian Herald, December 24, 1913

Historical images on Flickr help to give us a view of our ancestors' lives, including the towns and cities where they lived and their holiday traditions.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Value of Google's Newspaper Archive

Washington Reporter (Washington, PA),
April 26, 1845
The Google newspaper archive is no longer adding newspapers, but it's still a very valuable resource. For example, it has historical publications that are useful to my genealogy research such as the Washington Reporter (Washington, Pennsylvania), which goes back to 1845. GenealogyBank has the same newspaper, but I don't have a subscription to that site. I took a look at Chronicling America,, and NewspaperArchive, and I didn't see this title in their lists of newspapers offered. So if there's a particular newspaper that could help with your research, don't forget to check out Google's list.

Searching the Google newspaper archive may not be as easy or effective as the subscription newspaper sites, but Google is free and may be the only way to access some publications or issues online. I found some great tidbits about ancestors who lived in the Mt. Washington section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by browsing issues of The Mt. Washington News in the Google newspaper archive. It's a publication that the subscription sites don't have, so I was thrilled to have access to it for free.

So once you've determined which newspaper(s) may help with your genealogy research, don't forget to check Google's newspaper list to see if the publication is there. I still use this resource often!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The G's of Genealogy

Your genealogy research has probably led you to discover many patterns, such as family naming patterns and migration patterns. I thought I'd write a lighter post this week about a different type of pattern: genealogy resources that begin with the same letter.   (I mean, why not?)
  1. Gazettes - I love using newspapers for my research and have found many references to relatives on It's been a great tool for my Pittsburgh and Washington County, Pennsylvania research, but one of the other newspaper websites may be a better choice for you depending on the locations of your ancestors.
  2. Genes - I'm a newbie when it comes to DNA tests, but I'm trying to learn. I have results for myself, my parents, and an uncle, but very few close matches so far. But I'm hoping that this eventually adds another layer to my research.
  3. Google - We all know what a great resource this search engine is, and I use its books, maps, and newspaper archive often.
  4. Grandparents - If you're lucky enough to have living grandparents, talk to them now! While they may not remember all of the facts accurately, they will likely share information, photographs, and stories that you won't find anywhere else.
  5. Graves - Sometimes dates on a headstone may not match other records but, in some cases, it was one of the first clues I had which then led to an obituary or death record with more details about an ancestor. 
I've only mentioned a handful of genealogy items, but I know there are more. Feel free to join in and add to the list by commenting below.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Historic Building's Gamble Connection

Samuel S. Moore House & Store,
Saltsburg, Pennsylvania
(Image from the Library of Congress)
It's always great to find ancestors mentioned in books, and I was particularly lucky to find a mention when I wasn't even looking for it. I usually don't like surprises, but this was one I didn't mind at all!

When I wrote about the 1890 Kirkendall-Garman wedding last month, I decided to learn more about the location of the event since I didn't know anything about Saltsburg, Indiana, Pennsylvania. I found a book from 1989 in the Internet Archive called Two Historic Pennsylvania Canal Towns: Alexandria and Saltsburg.

In the last third of book, there's information on the historic buildings of the area. As I was browsing through it, I came across a section for the Samuel S. Moore House and Store. Though I didn't remember it at the time, Samuel married Margaret Gamble, who was the daughter of John and Fannie Moore Gamble, my husband's 3rd great-grandparents.

According to the deed details provided in the book, the building passed from the Moore family to Margaret's two sisters, Fannie and Julia Gamble:
"1877 - Deed April 16, 1877, Volume A-40, Page 460. Samuel S. and Margaret Moore to Emma Thomas 
1883 - Deed April 10, 1883, Volume A-46, Page 72. Emma Thomas to Margaret Moore 
1884 - Deed August 21, 1884, Volume A-47, Page 575. Margaret Moore to Fannie and Julia Gamble 
1893 - Deed March 20, 1893, Volume A-57, Page 588. Fannie Gamble to Julia Gamble"

The book also provides some information about Samuel S. Moore:
"Historical Context: The building at 222 Point St. was constructed by Samuel S. Moore, a 'dealer in confectioneries, fruits and nuts, cooking and parlor stoves,' and a 'manufacturer of tin and sheet iron ware' ... Tax records of the 1870s through the early '80s identify him variously as a tinner, grocer and postmaster. His income during these years ranged from $100 to $150. Moore and his family lived on the second floor, and he operated the business on the first, which included serving as the Saltsburg post office for some years. By 1909 the building was completely vacant, but by 1927 both spaces were utilized as offices ..."

Yes, it's definitely a good feeling to find the names of relatives in books. And even if you don't find an ancestor, learning more about the city or town where they lived may give you a new perspective about their lives.