Thursday, April 28, 2016

Autograph Book Signed in Pittsburgh and Fredericksburg

The first page is signed "Susie Jane Lowery, Pittsburgh Penn." She owned this autograph book as a teenager, before her Manhattan marriage to a Pittsburgh-born banker, before her two daughters were born, and before her husband spent time in prison.

Susie was the daughter of John T. and Martha Lowery and was born in 1862 in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1887, she married David J. Richardson in Manhattan, New York. By 1900, they were living in Allegheny City (now the North Side of Pittsburgh) with their two daughters Lilia and Marguerite. In 1909, husband David was convicted for his role in the 1908 collapse of the Cosmopolitan National Bank in Pittsburgh. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison and released early in 1912.

I found Susie's autograph book with signatures from 1879 through 1883 in a Pittsburgh antique store. It's slightly warped from apparent water damage and some of the pages are faded, but it contains many signatures and printed calling cards. Here are two of the signatures:

From Susie Jane Lowery's autograph book dated 1879:  Arthur von Senden
in Pittsburgh, Pa. and George A. Walker in Fredericksburg, Va.

Some of the other people who signed the book include:

     Flora A. Baker - Morgantown, West Virginia     
     Charles Black - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
     Isabel D. Boyce
     Mamie Brye
     Albert Cline - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
     John M. Griffin - Fredericksburg, Virginia
     Charles Haley
     John B. Hughes
     Kate Mandis - Fredericksburg, Virginia
     Sadie McCrum - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
     A.L. Minnemeyer
     Florence Oliver - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
     Paul Pry
     D.F. Sawhill - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
     A.E. Sprague
     Linda Word - Richmond, Virginia

I'd like to return the book to a descendant of Susie Jane Lowery Richardson, so let me know if she's in your family tree.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Like Mother, Like Daughter in Marriage

I'm fascinated by family similarities. Some may be the result of a person's environment, such as a similar occupation or religious denomination. Others seem to be more of a personality trait, like the person who loves music and singing in the choir who then finds out that an ancestor also loved music and was a music teacher.

On my mother's side of the family, I found another interesting pattern. My 2nd great-uncle, Henry Jay, was married to Rachel Renner. Rachel had a niece, Bertha Renner, who was married at least 5 times. Bertha had a daughter, Gloretta Womack, who also was married at least 5 times. Fascinating.

Bertha Renner's father moved from Pennsylvania to Texas, got married, and then moved to Oklahoma where Bertha was born. By the time she was 18, she had married John Womack and had their first child, son John. Gloretta came along 2 years later. The first marriage didn't last and, when Gloretta was 6, her mother married Monte Heck and they were living in Los Angeles, California. Over the next 10 years, she had married a man with the surname Heird and then husband number four, Wilbur Morton. When she was in her 50s, Bertha got married one last time to Wesley Slayton who left her a widow.

Daughter Gloretta Womack not only married multiple times but lived in multiple states. She was born in Norman, Oklahoma, and then her family moved to Los Angeles. Gloretta married Hollis Thomas Grove at the age of 15, even though the record indicated she was 18. Perhaps the marriage was declared null when it was discovered what they had done, but that didn't stop Gloretta. She married again at 16 (but with her mother's consent), this time to Roy Keith Bruner and, four years later, they were living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At 24, she married Thomas H. Walker and, over the next 6 years, lived in Hollywood, Oklahoma City, and St. Louis. In her early 40s, she married husband Roland Ray Spencer back in Los Angeles. Three years after that wedding, she was using the married name of Gooding.

Were mother and daughter free spirits? Hopeless romantics who felt that each new man was "the one"? Or were they trying to fill a void in their lives? Whatever the reason, their marriage patterns were remarkably similar. Fascinating.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Doctor Who Buried His Teenage Son

Harold W. Thomas was a physician for 53 years in Arnold, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He was married to my husband's 3rd cousin 2 times removed, Agnes May Cowden.

Harold was born April 10, 1902, to parents Abraham & Clara Thomas. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh's medical school in 1928, he opened his own practice in his hometown of Arnold. He also served as the school doctor for the New Kensington-Arnold School District, a position he held for 40 years while running his medical practice.

His first child, Harold Thomas Jr., was born on March 13, 1932. But at the age of 16, his son died in Pittsburgh's Mercy Hospital from acute respiratory failure caused by virus encephalitis. It must have been difficult to help so many people during his career but be unable to save someone he loved so much. Harold Sr. had this to say about his son's death in an article published by The Pittsburgh Press about his retirement in 1982:

    "'You accept older people dying,' he said, 'but the deaths of younger people are the hardest things for a doctor to absorb. They cause many sleepless nights. But you learn to accept death as an act of God if you've done your best.'

    Thomas hails the new drugs and technology, which might have saved his own son, Harold Jr., who died from polio at age 16 in 1948. 'I gave him all the remedies, but neither the Salk nor the Sabin vaccines were available,' he said. 'It was only a few years after he died that they were developed.'"

Harold W. Thomas Sr. died 35 years after his son on May 17, 1983, in Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital. Father and son are buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania. Of all of his accomplishments, it's likely that Harold Sr. was most proud of his children. It's sad that he lost one so young.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Search for Other Cemetery Sources

Yes, is our go-to source for cemetery records, but it's a long way from having every burial. There are other websites that can be used to search for relatives that may be missing from FindAGrave. Here are just a few, but you should try to find other sources that may be useful for your research:

National - The National Cemetery Administration of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a Nationwide Gravesite Locator. A search for my father-in-law shows that he is buried at section 1, site 776 of the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It also provides his rank, branch of service, birth date, and death date.

Regional - For the Pittsburgh area, the Catholic Cemeteries Association provides a Search Burial Records page for their 14 cemeteries: All Saints, Calvary, Christ Our Redeemer, Good Shepherd in Monroeville, Holy Savior in Gibsonia, Holy Souls in Coraopolis, Mt. Carmel in Verona, Our Lady of Hope in Tarentum, Queen of Heaven in McMurray, Resurrection in Moon Township, Sacred Heart in Monongahela, St. Mary, St. Joseph in North Versailles, and St. Stanislaus.

Both sets of my grandparents are in Queen of Heaven Cemetery, and I also have Stern cousins in Calvary Cemetery. All of them can be found by searching the Catholic Cemeteries Association, but only half of them are in FindAGrave. The Catholic Cemetery site seems to be up-to-date since a family burial from last September is in the database.

Individual Cemeteries - My 2nd-great aunt and her husband, Clara & Joseph Carr, are buried in Grandview Cemetery in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Their burials weren't in FindAGrave until I added them. Grandview Cemetery provides an Interment Lookup page, as do many individual cemeteries, which could be helpful to your research. In addition to interment date, Grandview Cemetery also provides place of birth and age at death.

For each of these examples, no gravestone photographs are provided. However, they do provide section and lot information which can then be included in a photo request for FindAGrave's great volunteers. Including this detail will increase the chance that the grave can be found and your photo request will be fulfilled.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mother of 17 Children, Mary DeTemple

Frank DeTemple, the husband of my great-aunt, was one of 17 children. At first I thought it might be a typo, but both the 1900 and 1910 censuses point out this fact.

Frank's mother, Mary Schmidt, married George DeTemple in Germany at the age of 18. That year of 1868 most likely was full of hope and plans to start a family. At some point over the next decade, George and Mary talked about moving their family to the U.S. and eventually made the journey. By 1882, they were living in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania (now part of Pittsburgh).

By the age of 50 in 1900, Mary had given birth to 17 children. Sadly, 10 were no longer living by then. Unfortunately, it wasn't a typo on the 1900 census. The 1910 census says the same thing: 17 children, 7 still living. I haven't found any children deaths in Pittsburgh, so perhaps they all died in Germany.

Mary passed away at the age of 70 on June 4, 1920, and was buried in Pittsburgh's North Side Catholic Cemetery (now called Christ Our Redeemer). After spending decades without them, she finally was reunited with her children.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Chiropodist Couple

I've mentioned before that the HathiTrust Digital Library has some interesting publications. For example, if you have a chiropodist from Illinois in your family tree, you might be interested in Registered Chiropodists in Good Standing January 1, 1919. It has eleven pages of individuals--many women--who practiced chiropody in Illinois. As the publication explained:

     "The law to regulate the practice of chiropody took effect July 1, 1917. It provides that on and after October 1, 1917, no person shall practice chiropody unless duly licensed so to do by the Department of Registration and Education.
     'Chiropody' is defined as the local, medical, mechanical or surgical treatment of the ailments of the human foot, except the correction of deformities or injuries through the use of the knife, such as amputation of the foot, or toes, or the treatment of injuries of the human foot, or the use of anaesthetics other than local, or the use of drugs or medicines other than local antiseptics."

The Pittsburg Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania),
February 10, 1918
One woman who was born in Illinois became a chiropodist and then moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she practiced with her husband. They advertised themselves as "Pittsburg's Progressive Chiropodists." Emma Augusta Schrader was born in Illinois about 1875 and eventually moved to Manhattan, New York, where she married Walter Teskey in 1903. The 1910 census shows that Walter was a chiropodist but not Emma. But by 1918, they both were practicing chiropody in Pittsburgh, and raising two boys.

Do you have a chiropodist in your family tree?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Learn from Local Libraries: Sewickley, Pennsylvania

Local libraries can have some great genealogy resources for you to discover. As just one example, the Sewickley Public Library in a suburb of Pittsburgh provides free access to the Sewickley Herald digital archive for the years 1903 to 2014. It appears this is the only place that gives online access to issues; I didn't see this newspaper anywhere else, and I have to say it again: it's free! If you have ancestors who lived in Sewickley or nearby towns such as Ambridge, Monaca, and Economy, you might find a mention of them in this newspaper.

Historic community newspapers often featured news about local residents that wasn't published in the larger city papers. Here's a great piece from The Herald about a couple who celebrated their 53rd anniversary in 1920:

Sewickley Herald 1920 Article
The Herald (Sewickley, Pennsylvania), February 14, 1920
"Mr. and Mrs. Robert Linwood McPherson are celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary today at their home in Fountain Street with an informal gathering of their family and friends. Mr. McPherson was born on his fathers farm at the head of Turkey-Foot run, and will celebrate his 83rd birthday on the 3rd of May. On February 14, 1867, he was married to Miss Mary Nash of Sewickley, who was born in Yorkshire, England, coming to this country in a sailing vessel when a young girl.
   Mr. and Mrs. McPherson settled in Sewickley, and their eight children, who are all living, also reside in Sewickley. They are: Mrs. James M. Scott, Mrs. A. J. Hegner, Joseph B. McPherson, S. C. McPherson and S. J. McPherson, the Misses Brittie and Lulu McPherson, and Kenneth McPherson. There are nine grandchildren, and one great-grandchild--Dorothy Jane Deven, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Deven of Fountain Street."

Take time to look at the websites of local libraries in the towns where your ancestors lived. You might find that they have similar databases to help you learn more about members of your family tree. If you find anything interesting or useful in the Sewickley Herald archive, post a comment and let me know!

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fool's Day 100 Years Ago

This cartoon appeared on the front page of The Pittsburg Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) on April 1, 1916:

On the same day, The Reading News-Times (Reading, Pennsylvania) had this to say about "All Fools' Day" exactly 100 years ago:
"It would seem to the ordinary observer that the world contains enough of fools and foolishness, and then some, without setting aside a special day for foolery. Perhaps at the time All Fools' Day was instituted, fools were scarcer, so that it was adjudged necessary to encourage their development, or maybe the object was to lighten up things, in an era when the world generally was more sad and sombre. It is possible, too, that the day was the invention of some antiquarian who saw in it the means of perpetuating ancient and timeworn jokes. If this latter speculation is correct, the day well accomplishes its purpose, for it never brings forth a new type of joke."

It's not one of my favorite days since I don't like surprises, but I hope you enjoy it!