Thursday, July 21, 2016

Isabella Couldn't Vote But Still Had Great Influence

Isabella Jeffry was born in Ohio in 1839 and was living in Kansas when she married Hugh Kirkendall, my husband's 3rd great-uncle, in 1862. They moved to Montana Territory by 1870 and were described by newspapers decades later as pioneer residents of Lewis & Clark County.

Although Isabella and women throughout the country couldn't vote, she was certainly active in the community. The Montana Historical Society says that Isabella "was one of Helena's little known unsung heroes. No woman was more active in the community, nor more sensitive to the needs of the less fortunate." Here are some of her accomplishments that I've found:

1881 - Founding Member, Ladies' Aid Society of the First Baptist Church of Montana at Helena
1883 - Charter Member, Helena chapter of the Women's Christian Temperance Union
1884 - Finance Committee, First Baptist Church of Helena
1891 - President, Montana Women's Relief Corps
1892 - named by the Mayor as Chairman of raising funds for Mississippi flood victims (her leadership helped raise money for starving Russians earlier in the year)
1893 - Leader, Women's Helena for the Capital Club
1894 - Supervisory Board, Associated Charities of Helena
1900 - President, Florence Crittenton Home, a refuge for women and girls in need

Isabella's role in the Women's Helena for the Capital Club was especially noteworthy as it showed the importance of women with respect to political issues. "Denied the vote, but far from devoid of influence, Montana's women readily took sides in the capital fight of 1894."

The Archives West website explains this historic vote: "The question of a permanent location for the capital of Montana was submitted to the voters in the general election of 1892. Seven cities entered the contest: Helena, the temporary capital; Anaconda; Butte; Bozeman; Great Falls; Deer Lodge; and Boulder. The two cities receiving the most votes, Helena and Anaconda...entered a run-off campaign two years later. The capital question overshadowed all other political issues in the 1894 election."

"The Women's Helena for the Capital Club, led by Isabella [Mrs. Hugh] Kirkendall of Helena, was a state-wide group that solicited help from women in every county. Although unable to vote, the women in the local chapters exerted pressure on the men with voting privileges through letter writing campaigns, distribution of leaflets, newspaper advertisements, and speeches. Helena won the election by a narrow margin: 27,024 votes to 25,118 for Anaconda."

Although unable to vote in the 1894 election, Montana women won the right to vote in 1914, five years before Isabella died. I'm so glad she lived to see it happen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

FamilySearch Find: Deaths in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania

Are you overlooking some online records at FamilySearch? Here's one example of a digitized non-indexed collection that isn't on the site's list of published collections.

Image from end of death register book,
Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, 1891

Allegheny City in Pennsylvania wasn't annexed by Pittsburgh until 1907, so deaths for both cities were recorded separately prior to that time. That means if you look at the FamilySearch collection "Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905," you won't find my Uncle Emil's 1903 death record. While there doesn't appear to be a similar death record collection for Allegheny City, it is in fact on the site and available for online viewing.

My French 3rd great-uncle, Emile Wey, arrived in the United States in 1871. Known as Emil in America, he would marry, have 6 children, and build a life in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. Emil died in Allegheny City on May 4, 1903, which was provided by his newspaper obituary. Knowing exactly when he died is fantastic, but I wanted to know why he died at the young age of 54.

If you click on "Browse all published collections" on the FamilySearch site, you won't see a record set for Allegheny City deaths. But FamilySearch actually does have these records digitized and available to browse in its collection called "Registrations of deaths in the city of Allegheny, 1876-1907." Each listed record group with a picture of a camera under "Format" means it can be viewed online. (A reel means you have to order the microfilm for viewing at your local Family History Center.)

Glancing at the thumbnail images will give you a sense of where the handwritten surname index starts for each volume; it's usually somewhere in the middle and not at the beginning or end due to the way the book scans were saved. And sometimes there's a second index further down in the same file where the next book of death records begins. You can use these indexes to locate the page number of the death record.

My Uncle Emil did indeed die on May 4, 1903, due to "abcess [sic] of liver." The record also states that he had resided at 707 Middle Street in the 3rd Ward for 30 years and that he was buried in St. Peter's Cemetery on May 7th (although a photo of his headstone on FindAGrave indicates that he's in Highwood Cemetery).

By browsing for other relatives, I found cousin August Huber who died in 1882 at 7 weeks of age due to eclampsia, as well as another cousin's father-in-law who died in 1903 of "mania a potu" or madness from drinking. I had their dates of death from other sources (church record for the first and a newspaper obituary for the second), but now I have more details, including where they are buried.

Be sure to search the FamilySearch Catalog for your ancestors' towns to see if digitized images are available. As this example shows, some online records don't appear on the published collections list.

Note: "Registration of births in the city of Allegheny, 1878-1907" is also available on FamilySearch, although five years are missing.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

West Virginia State Police Records

From Flickr: Police Officers, 1889
The West Virginia Division of Culture & History has posted some online State Police records that caught my eye. Since one of my great-grandfathers was a police officer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I had to take a peek at "West Virginia State Police Payroll Records, 1919-1924."

If you already know from census records that one of your ancestors was with the West Virginia State Police, these browse-only files may not provide any critical information. But there are still some interesting items: officer's rank, date of enlistment, and total amount of pay for the month. In January 1922, privates in Company B made $100 for the entire month! There is also a page for "Changes Since Last Pay Roll" that shows those who were discharged or resigned.

This website also has searchable births, marriages, and deaths (which are on FamilySearch as well), so if you have West Virginia relatives, this is a key resource for your genealogy research.