Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The "Odd" History of Pittsburgh

Many of my readers have a Pittsburgh connection, so I wanted to make sure you're aware of an interesting Facebook page called The Odd, Mysterious & Fascinating History of Pittsburgh. Its founder was featured in last week's issue of the Pittsburgh City Paper:
"A skeleton key to the Schenley Hotel. Blueprints for a new jail from the 1920s. A token from the 1877 Pittsburgh Exposition. Souvenirs from the Duquesne Garden and the Schenley Park Casino. An original 1795 map of Pittsburgh. These are just a few of the nearly 100 historical artifacts owned by John Schalcosky, a 33-year-old Ross Township resident who runs the Facebook group The Odd, Mysterious & Fascinating History of Pittsburgh.
There was a time when discussions of Pittsburgh’s history were reserved for historical societies. Now, they’re the stuff of online forums and Facebook pages: To date, Schalcosky’s group has more than 50,000 followers."
I've been following him on Facebook for a while now, and you should too! Check out the entire article: "Pittsburgh history lives on, online."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy Easter from 1933

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter weekend. Here's another greeting card that my grandfather gave to my grandmother, this one from 1933 when Easter Sunday fell on April 16th:

Related Posts:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spanish-American War Veterans from Pennsylvania

Ancestry has a database related to the Spanish-American War that can give you some great details about relatives. It's called "Pennsylvania, Spanish War Compensation, 1898-1934," and it contains veteran applicants who enlisted while living in Pennsylvania, even if they later moved to another state.

The database description explains that the "Pennsylvania Veterans’ Compensation Act of 1934 authorized payments to veterans who had given Pennsylvania or anyplace in the Commonwealth as their place of residence at the time they entered the service and who had served in at least one of the following conflicts: World War I, Spanish-American War, China Relief Expedition or the occupation of the Philippines or Guam from 1898 to 1902. Veterans’ widows or children were also eligible to receive the benefit."

I had a 2nd-great uncle who served during the Spanish-American War and I even have a photo of him wearing his uniform, but he's not in this database. He did not apply for compensation because both he and his wife had died by the time this Act had passed, and they had no children.

However, Paul Edgar Kiebler has an application in this database. He was the stepson of my husband's 3rd-great aunt, Fannie Gamble Kiebler. Here are some of the details provided about Paul:

  1. Place and date of birth - Paul was born in Saltsburg, Indiana County, Pa., on January 2, 1879
  2. Legal residence at entry into service - Saltsburg, Pa.
  3. Residence when application was submitted - Clayton, St. Louis County, Missouri
  4. Name of father - Samuel M. Kiebler
  5. Name of mother - Ellen Grey Kiebler
  6. Names of wife and children - Frances Sargent Kiebler (wife) and Helen Grey Kiebler (daughter)
  7. Details of service, including wounds - His service included time at camps in Mt. Gretna, Pa., Chickamauga, Ga., and Lexington, Ky.
  8. Actual signature of applicant (shown above)

If you have members of your family tree who may having been living in Pennsylvania when they would have been old enough to enlist during the Spanish-American War, you may want to search this database.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Jamieson Sisters, Pittsburgh Photographers

Jamieson Sisters Portrait, from
Complete Self-Instructing Library
of Practical Photography
, 1909
Jamieson Sisters was a photography studio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which opened around 1900. It was operated by two sisters, Katherine and Henrietta Jamieson. The photo to the right is an example of their work.

Katherine was older (born in 1862) and, by 1912, was President of the Woman's Federation of the Photographers' Association of America. The September 1912 issue of Snap Shots stated that the "Federation under the presidency of Miss Katherine Jamieson is taking a prominent place in the affairs of the National Association and doing much to improve the standing of women photographers."

Henrietta (born in 1867) married George Robinsteen in February 1903 and continued to work in the studio. Four years later, her husband died on a train of heart disease at the age of 49.

In 1921, Katherine decided to move to Los Angeles. Abel's Photographic Weekly announced that "Miss Katherine Jamieson, of Pittsburgh, Pa., will shortly open a studio in Los Angeles, Calif., the present Jamieson Studio to continue under the management of Miss Jamieson's sister, Henrietta Jamieson Robinsteen."

Six years later, Henrietta decided to retire and move to Alhambra, California, presumably to be closer to her sister.

In 1931, Henrietta Jamieson Robinsteen died in a Los Angeles hospital at the age of 64. The Pittsburgh Press reported that the funeral was held in Pittsburgh. A year later, Katherine Jamieson died in Alhambra. Both sisters are buried in Pittsburgh's Homewood Cemetery.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

An Artist in the Family Tree

Seal of Viterbo University,
designed by Hildegarde "Imogene" Thiele
I recently reconnected with a 2nd cousin once removed, who shared some information that rekindled my interest in doing more research on her branch of the family tree. Her grandmother died at the age of 34 due to a brain tumor, leaving behind a husband and 3 young children.

My cousin's grandfather raised his children, and then remarried about 25 years later. I remember the couple's visits well; they were wonderful people. But I didn't know that this second wife had an art background.

Hildegarde Thiele Stern was a nun for decades before leaving that life behind and eventually marrying. A newspaper search helped me learn that she was known as Sr. Imogene, and then my cousin's information, a look at census records, and a simple Google search helped me create a timeline of her life:

1917 - Hildegarde Emma Thiele was born on January 13, 1917, in Mount Carmel, Carroll County, Iowa. Her parents were Frank & Anna Schulte Thiele.

1920 - Hildegarde and her family resided in Kniest Township, Carroll, Iowa. Her father was a farmer.

1930 - The family, consisting of three sons and five daughters, was living in Gilman Township, Osceola, Iowa. Her father Frank was still a farmer.

1940 - Hildegarde, now known as Sister Imogene was living with her Superior and two other Sisters in Lyndon Station, Juneau County, Wisconsin. At age 23, she was the youngest and worked as a teacher in a parochial school. The census indicates she was at the same place in 1935 as well.

1950s - In 1952, Sister Imogene graduated from Viterbo College in La Crosse, Wisconsin, with a B.A. in art. In 1958, she received a Master's degree in art from The University of Notre Dame in Indiana. The commencement program indicates that she was a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, which is a Roman Catholic order.

1960s - A newspaper article from 1961 mentioned that her work was part of an art exhibit shown at La Crosse Vocational School. It also said she conducted "an art lecture and review of the works" at the event. Sr. Imogene was in the art department of Viterbo University and even today is credited with the design of the school seal: "The original seal, which has twice been slightly modified, was created in the early 1960s by Imogene Thiele, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) and member of the art department."

Her mother's 1969 obituary in the Carroll Daily Times Herald (Carroll, Iowa) indicated that "Hilda" was now living in Pittsburgh.

1970s - By the mid-70s, Hildegarde was married. My mom says that my siblings and I attended the wedding, but I don't remember it. I was 7 or 8 at the time.

2000 - Hildegarde Thiele Stern passed away in 2000 at the age of 83, two months after her husband Albert died.

I think the only other artist in my family is my younger brother who graduated from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Do you have any artists in your family tree?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Caroline Ziegler Wey Watched 2 Children Leave France

Image from Caroline Ziegler's
death record, Bas-Rhin Archives
I don't know much about the life of my 3rd great-grandmother, Caroline Ziegler Wey, but I'm thankful for the facts I've been able to find in the online vital records of the Bas-Rhin Archives.

Caroline was born on October 10, 1810, in Dambach-la-Ville, a commune in northeastern France, to parents Jean Baptiste Ziegler and Petronilla Zaepffel. At the age of 19, she married Jean (sometimes called Johann) Wey on October 22, 1829, in Dambach-la-Ville.

The couple had at least four daughters and two sons. Her youngest daughter, Caroline Wey Huber, left for the United States around 1866 and settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Another child, son Emile Wey, would follow his sister five years later.

Caroline Ziegler Wey died on Christmas Day in 1879. Her husband had died four years earlier. Although he had been born in Germany, Caroline spent her entire life in the same area of France. There's no way to know if she heard from her two children in the U.S. ever again.

Related Post:  Find French Birth Records

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Death Caused by Joy (or Not)

The Pittsburg Press,
April 17, 1908 
I came across this article on Newspapers.com while searching for stories about someone in my family tree. I guess it's another reminder that we shouldn't believe everything we read in newspapers.

Andy Wig of Lorain, Ohio, died suddenly in Duquesne, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on April 12, 1908. This is how the newspaper explained his death:

     "Wig and his wife had been separated for three months until Sunday, when he came here from Lorain to try and be reconciled with her. After a short time they adjusted their differences and decided to return to Lorain and start life anew. They packed their trunk and were making their way to the station when he became suddenly sick as he was passing No. 202 River avenue. He went into the house for a short time, followed by his wife five minutes later, who found him dead.
     Deputy Coroner John Black, who investigated the case, found that he died from joy. His wife was at the services this morning and she wept bitterly."

I couldn't help myself and just had to take a look at Andy's Pennsylvania death certificate. I'm sure you're not surprised to learn that he didn't die from joy. The coroner indicated that his death was caused by acute indigestion.

Andy was about 33 years old and was buried in Highwood Cemetery in Pittsburgh.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

I Don't Share Everything

In January, I wrote "Is Genealogy Sharing a 'Female Thing'?" As a follow-up to that post, I'm admitting today that I purposely don't share some things on my blog.

I read genealogy blogs for many years before jumping in and writing my own. When I finally decided to get started, I made the conscious choice to avoid sharing certain items in my posts, such as:

My Father's Surname - This surname is very unique in the U.S. Basically, I haven't found anyone here with this name who isn't related. (That may not be the case in other countries.) Since I didn't know how immediate family and cousins would react to my "crazy" hobby popping up if their uncommon surname was Googled, I decided to avoid writing about anyone with that name. I've mentioned it once as the maiden name of a 2nd great-aunt in a story about her husband. However, when I wrote about a 2nd great-uncle who owned a hardware store and about my great-grandmother who died during the influenza epidemic, you may have noticed that I didn't specify a surname in those posts.

My Mother's Maiden Name - Interestingly, my mother's maiden name is also unusual. I wasn't sure how that side would feel about me sharing the family name in such a public manner, so I decided to take the conservative route. I mentioned it in several posts as the maiden name of female relatives, but just in passing. This surname (and my dad's) is on my public online family trees, and both are listed on the Surnames tab of this blog, so I'm not hiding them. I'm just not featuring those names when I write family stories. At some point, I will specify my parents' surnames in future stories, but I'm not ready to do it yet.

Some Family Scandals - Since I'm conservative about mentioning a surname on my blog, I'm sure you're not surprised to hear that I don't share some skeletons in the closet. For example, my family history includes an attempted murder-suicide in the 1920s in front of two young sons, as well as a young boy who found his dead grandfather after his suicide in the 1940s. These incidents were in newspapers so the facts were public, but I feel that I don't really have the right to share stories like this since I'm not a direct descendant of the individuals involved. Those boys witnessed terrible things, and the psychological impact might have been felt even by the next generation.

If I thought that others could learn something by sharing stories like this, I might change my position. And that's the great thing about writing a blog: you can make your own rules.