Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Ad, 1920

This vintage advertisement is from The Saturday Evening Post dated November 13, 1920. You can find images like this by searching the Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cousin Who Died on a Train

An unexpected find showed me that she was young, a teacher, and died while traveling on a train. I came across this Cowden death while browsing an unindexed FamilySearch collection. The scanned page from "Record of deaths, 1893-1906" for Pennsylvania's Washington County showed that Mary Alma Cowden died on May 9, 1899. Since I didn't have her name in my husband's family tree, I took a closer look.

Mary's life began very soon after the 1880 census and ended a year before the 1900 census, so I had no record of her from those sources. Her 1899 death registration shows that her parents were John K. & Elizabeth Cowden and that she died of consumption (tuberculosis) while on a train, an illness she had battled for six months. Mary was 18 years old and, during her short life, had become a teacher. She is my husband's third cousin 2 times removed.

I searched and found this article about Mary Alma's death:

Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, May 10, 1899

I was glad to see that she hadn't been alone when she died. A photo on shows that Mary shares a headstone with her parents and brother Emil in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Hickory, Pennsylvania.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Pittsburgh Nurse & War Veteran

Ester LeMans, from
The Gazette Times, 1922
In honor of Veterans Day, here's a story that appeared in The Gazette Times (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) on August 13, 1922:

"Hearing Affected by War, Nurse Will Help Disabled

    With the better part of her life already devoted to making others happy, Mrs. Ester LeMans, aged 39, registered nurse and World War nurse, is starting anew and along entirely different lines to radiate sunshine and spread cheer and contentment to the unfortunate.
    Handicapped by the loss of hearing, one of the woman's sacrifices for her country, and realizing she could no longer minister the wants of the sick, Mrs. LeMans decided she would devote her time brightening the lives of crippled and disabled soldiers. She confided her plans to the War Department and was informed that to pursue this work she must have training and a college degree.
    Undaunted by this obstacle, she appealed to the Army Vocational Bureau, after she learned she was entitled to war compensation and asked to be sent to school. This all happened in May, 1920, and now, after two years of intensive study, Mrs. LeMans has completed half of the arts and crafts course at Carnegie Institute of Technology.
    Mrs. LeMans is a native Pittsburgher. She joined the Red Cross in April, 1918, and after a period of training was sent overseas with Base Hospital Unit No. 115. The unit later became known as the President Wilson Unit and was stationed at Vichy, France. She was afterwards reassigned to Base Hospital No. 38, stationed at Nantes.
    In September, 1918, Mrs. LeMans was stricken with influenza and after hovering between life and death for several months recovered and again joined her unit. She was again stricken in January, 1919, and invalided home in April. She was confined in Staten Island Hospital for eight months, having three operations in that time in an attempt to restore her hearing. She is a graduate of Emergency Hospital, Washington."

The Veteran's Compensation Application for Ester Dolores LeMans, which can be found on Ancestry, shows that she was born in Pittsburgh on April 7, 1883. When she submitted the form in 1934, Ester was living in Phoenix, Arizona.

Thank you to all veterans, past and present, for your service and the sacrifices you've made for our country.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Lot Can Happen to Your Ancestor in a Decade

Population Record, 1890-92,
Western State Penitentiary
Murder, trial, and prison. If you looked at the life of Stewart Cherry based on census records alone, you'd never know that his life was turned upside down when he was 38. Stewart was born in Pennsylvania in 1853, and in the 1880s married Mary Jane Phillips and started a family. He would eventually become the father-in-law of my first cousin 3 times removed, when his daughter Rachel married Harry Monroe Dietz.

The census records seem to show that Stewart maintained a rather normal, routine life:
  • 1900 - oil well driller living in McKeesport, Allegheny, Pennsylvania
  • 1910 - oil driller living in McKeesport, Allegheny, Pennsylvania
  • 1920 - driller for an oil well company in Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania

Decade after decade, it looks like Stewart's life didn't change. And if the 1890 census had survived, it most likely would have showed again that Stewart was a well driller. I base this assumption on a different type of census record: the one shown at the right that was created by the Western State Penitentiary. It provides many details, including his occupation and his crime of murder. Yes, Stewart Cherry's life shows that a lot can happen in between censuses.

Newspapers from 1891 show that Stewart was arrested for murder, found guilty, and sentenced to 11 years in prison. He claimed self-defense. Stewart was released at the end of May 1900 after serving almost 9 years of his sentence (just a few days before the 1900 census was taken). His normal-looking life from census records turned out to be far from ordinary.

The Pittsburg Press, May 11, 1900

You never know what interesting events and facts you may find about your ancestors.