17 September 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Three beautiful ladies

I came across this photo as I am sorting through and organizing folders upon folders! From left to right, Aunt Margaret, my grandmother Mary, and Aunt Peg. Aunt Margaret was married to my grandmother's brother Raymond. Aunt Peg is my grandmother's first cousin. Her mother (also Margaret) and my great grandfather Martin Welsh were siblings. 
The photo was taken at my grandmother's house in Kennett Square but I do not recall the occasion. Aunt Margaret and Uncle Reds (Raymond) were married in 1975 so obviously it was after that. I am not sure it was a special occasion.
Wordless Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt prompted by GeneaBloggers in which the main focus of the prompt is a photo. Information may also be included as to identification.

16 September 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Martin & Catherine Welsh

Martin Welsh (1885 - 1933) and his wife Catherine O'Flaherty (1880 - 1949) are buried at St. Mary's RC Cemetery in Phoenixville, Chester County, PA.  Mary Kathleen Still - my Aunt Kitty, as she was called - is buried with them. She lived only five years from 25 December 1940 to 12 July 1945. She is my mother's sister.

Aunt Kitty's Death Notice ran in the Daily Record on 13 July 1945. It read: Mary K Still five year old daughter of Mary (Welsh) and Lloyd Still died yesterday at her home in Unionville. Ill for the past 12 days due to complications. She was born December 25, 1940. James F Devlin Funeral Home. St Mary's Cemetery, Phoenixville.

Tombstone Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt prompted by GeneaBloggers in which an image of a gravestone is featured. It may also include a brief description of the image or the ancestor.

15 September 2014

Amanuensis Monday: Postcards

Normally a post for Amanuensis Monday would be more about a specific letter or card but this week, I would like to talk about postcards in general. I personally love postcards. They are a great way to say hello, stay connected with someone and yet because of the limited space not feel obligated to write a novel.

From a historical point of view, postcards are a great way to preserve local history. For example, I have come across several postcards of dams, railroads, simple scenes of towns and businesses, and buildings no longer standing. Often a postcard will reveal a tidbit about a place as well. One card features the Schwartz Stein Collection, located (at that time) at 2177 Fruitville Pike, Lancaster, PA. The tidbit reveals this is the "largest collection of antique steins in the world. There are over 4,600 from the largest 48" to the smallest 1/32" high. Open to the public by appointment only."

Postcards can reveal so much information if you know where to look. Sometimes the photo is just a photo and sometimes it reveals where the sender has been. The postmark will reveal where it was sent from and sometimes where it was received. Your postcard may have had an adventure of its own getting to you!

A side note: I remember in high school we lived in Sadsbury Township, Lancaster County. The school - Octorara - was in Atglen, Chester County. Even though it wasn't that far (by way of the crows), my schedules and report cards would literally go from Atglen to Philadelphia (the main post office) to Lancaster (a large sorting facility) to Christiana (our mailing address was RD Christiana) to the house!

This postcard, at left, was sent from Birdell on 28 November 1907. It was received that evening, at 7 p.m. to be specific, in Honey Brook. The stamp is a one cent Benjamin Franklin, green. It is one of the Ordinary Postage Stamps Issue of 1902-03. This particular stamp was issued on 3 February 1903. It is a head shot of Franklin and has the figure of a child on either side. The children are nude except for a flowing drape covering their loins. There are images of light bulbs in the upper corners of the stamp.

Despite the limited space on a postcard they can tell an incredible story as well. The collection I have been going through has consisted mostly of letters to one gentleman and his family. The postcards, when looked at as a whole collection, reveal a lot about the recipient and his friends.  They can also tell a story of a specific area or town. I have a few cards from Lock Haven. No family connection but it's where I went to college and simply fell in love with the area. Through those cards, and simply knowing what the town looked like when I lived there, I can see how certain things have changed over time. The cards act as a documentation of local history.

14 September 2014

Sunday's Obituary: Mary Welsh Still

Mary Welsh Still is my maternal grandmother. Her obituary reads:

Mary R. {middle name Rose} Still, 77, of Magnolia Street, Kennett Square, died Saturday {20 May 1989} at Chester County Hospital, West Chester after a lengthy illness.

She was the wife of Lloyd. P. Still. Born in Phoenixville, she was the daughter of the late Martin and Catherine O'Flaherty Welch {should read Welsh}.

She lived in Kennett Square since 1957 and was a member of St. Patrick's Church, Kennett Square.

Surviving in addition to her husband is a son Thomas G. of Unionville; a daughter, Barbara Ruczhak {my mom}of Christiana; three brothers Raymond Welch {should read Welsh} of Collegeville, Joseph Welch {should read Welsh} of Royersford and Gerald Welch {should read Welsh} of Washington, DC; a sister Loretta Patterson of Phoenixville; and six grandchildren.

A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Patrick's Church, 218 Meredith Street, Kennett Square.

Internment will be in St Patrick's Cemetery. Friends may call from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Albert F. Kuzo Funeral Home Inc., {cannot read number} W. States St., Kennett Square.

If so desired, a memorial contribution can be made to St. Patrick's Church.

{I believe this was printed in the Daily Local News}
In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by a daughter Mary Kathleen, a brother Leo Welsh, and four siblings who died in infancy.

13 September 2014

Surname Saturday: Coursault

I am doing some side work researching postcards and writing up descriptions for a friend and, like most things in life, there are pros and cons. The major pro of course is that it is work so there is some financial benefits. I am also learning quite a bit about various places and dating postcards in general, which in turn has helped with some of my own research. The con is that I tend to get lost in research!

I was working on a postcard depicting the grave of Benjamin Franklin and his wife. The card itself did not reveal much of interest to me. Dated 1907, it is an undivided back therefore the message had to be written very tiny on the white space at the bottom of the picture on the front. It's addressed to an Ernest McConnell of Narvon, whose family I have not heard of before.

But ... hubby's family (on his mom's side) actually attended Christ Church in Philadelphia. His maternal grandmother is Julia Coursault. Her parents were Charles Edwin and Appelina Coursault. Having visited there for genealogical reasons, I've seen Benjamin Franklin's grave. As I checked out the Church's website (which btw the church is still an active church with Sunday services), I found their Historical Collections Online!

Knowing that Glenn's (that's the hubby btw) maternal grandmother's family had attended Christ Church, I searched for members of the Coursault family. It came up with two results.

Anne Coursault was baptized on 25 April 1899. She was born the month before. Marie Virginia Coursault married Charles Blackman on 25 November 1912 at Christ Church. Annie and Marie are sisters of Julia Coursault. Both confirm parents as Edwin (Charles' middle name) and Appelina Coursault. Sponsors for both were listed as the mother and "Annie Flower Paul". I have no clue who that person may be yet.

Obviously getting sidetracked is not really that difficult for me when I'm researching family-relevant areas! Postcard research is fun but I have found I need to keep a notepad next to me so I remember where to go back to when I have time.

12 September 2014

Maryland celebrates Defenders Day

Today, in Maryland, is Defenders Day. It is a legal holiday in which Maryland residents recall the day in which their ancestors defended the City of Baltimore on 12 September 1814 from the Brits in the War of 1812. The events gave birth to our national anthem as well. This weekend commemorates the 200th anniversary of "The Star Spangled Banner."

On 24 August 2014, the Maryland Historical Society and Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine unfurled the Star-Spangled Banner Replica at President's Park on the White House Ellipse, located near 15th and E Streets, in Washington, DC.  It was two hundred years to the day that the British burned the White House.

During the War of 1812, British troops captured Washington, DC and burned the White House. This caused President James Madison to flee. Just three weeks later, the British attacked the Baltimore. The British fired more than a thousand rockets and "bombs" on Fort McHenry but Baltimore's defenders stood their ground. The battle was witnessed by Francis Scott Key )at left, from the National Park Service), a lawyer and poet. With some artistic liberty, he described the events in "The Star-Spangled Banner," the song that would become our National Anthem.

"With the British capture of the capital, Americans were looking for a victory. That victory happened three weeks later in Baltimore. The flag represented both a sense of hope during those dark hours as the White House burned and a sense of triumph as the British withdrew from Fort McHenry. The White House and Fort McHenry are linked by this common history," said Vincent Vaise, Chief of Interpretation at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.

This weekend, Baltimore invites the nation to a free, city-wide festival celebrating the 200th anniversary of our national anthem. Tall ships, Navy gray hulls and the Blue Angels will come to Baltimore's famed Inner Harbor. There will be living history demonstrations, a family fun-zone, live musical performances, and Chesapeake food and beverage. For more information: www.starspangled200.com.

Was your ancestor a part of history there?
The National Park Service (NPS) includes a database of those who defended Fort McHenry. This database includes known Maryland citizen-soldiers from Maryland as well as federal soldiers who defended Fort McHenry in September 1814. In some cases, individual obituaries, burial sites, and personal notes are included.
I pulled up a random Winters (see right) and found three entries for a Private George Winters. He served under Captain Thomas Quantrill in both the 24th Regiment and the 39th Regiment of the Hagerstown Volunteers.
Sites to explore:
Fort McHenry Guard - http://www.fortmchenryguard.org/
Fort McHenry National Monument - http://www.nps.gov/fomc/index.htm
Research Library at Fort McHenry - http://www.fortmchenrylibrary.org/

11 September 2014

Those Planes Thursday: Christian Herr House

A piece of history is slated to be demolished in West Lampeter Township. Township supervisors sadly approved the demolition at their Monday, 8 September, of a house built by Christian Herr II in 1734. Christian Herr II is the son of Christian Herr I who built the adjoining 1719 Hans Herr House (seen at left), which is the oldest original Mennonite meeting house.

According to an article in the Lancaster Newspapers, current owners of the 421 Penn Grant Road historic home, Randy and Christine Andrews, want to tear down their historic home to make space for a new one.

Step back in time for a moment.
In 1710, the Reverend Hans Herr was among the Mennonites who received land grants near the Conestoga and along what was known as the Great Conestoga Road leading to the west. At that time, the area was part of Chester County, one of the original counties in the Commonwealth. Lancaster County was parceled out in 1729. The Great Conestoga Road was replaced  by Kings Highway (Route 340) in 1733. This road led travelers from Philadelphia and Chester to Lancaster.

The Eckman connection!
Like his father, Christian Herr I was a Reverend as well. Born in 1680, he settled near his father in that area that would become known as Willow Street. He married Anna. Her last name remains unknown. They had eight children, one of whom was the Christian Herr who built the house about to be destroyed.

Christian married Barbara and they had two daughters: Barbara and Ann. Barbara married Henry Kendig, the son of Jacob Kendig and Alice Wade. Ann married twice. Her first husband was Henry's brother John Kendig. Her second husband was Michael Withers.

Barbara Herr and Henry Kendig had seven children. One of whom, Elizabeth, married Hieronimus Eckman! They had two children: Henry and Hettie. Ann Herr and John Kendig had three children.

The Architecture
A January 2003 article from the Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture offers insight into the architecture of the historic 1719 house.

Lancaster Museum Council (Hans Herr House) & DreamsTime


10 September 2014

Wednesday's Child: Margaret Dickson

Sometimes the people we seek are not in the births, marriage announcements or obituaries. While checking out the webpage for the Southern Lancaster County Historical Society, I came across a news article about a missing young child. This child is of no known relation to me or to my husband but I thought it interesting enough to share.

A brief note ran in the 10 February 1743 of the Pennsylvania Gazette concerning the missing Margaret Dickson.

WHEREAS Margaret, the Daughter of James Dickson, of the Township of Little Britain, in Lancaster County, a Child about three Years of Age, has been missing from her FatherHouse ever since the 26th of December past; diligent Search and Enquiry having been made after her, and not being yet heard of, suspected she is stolen and carried away: She is a Child of fair Complexion, with long pale Hair, round fat Face, grey Eyes, a black Mole on the right Side of her Neck, a Place above her Forehead without Hair, her right Hand and Foot bigger than the left, of a pleasant Countenance, and speaks plain: Had on when she was miss, a pair of Stays, and a blue quilted Petticoat. Now whoever gives Intelligence where she is, or what become of her, to her Father aforesaid, Chester County, or to Mr. George Gibson, in Lancaster Town, shall receive Ten Pounds Reward, paid by James Dickson.

I know nothing else of her. There was no note on the site indicating the outcome. It simply included the article itself. So who is Margaret? Was she ever returned home? What came of her?

Photo: Dreamstime

09 September 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Nicholas & Tillie Katherina

Nicholas ... 19 December 1888 - 18 August 1986
Tillie Pellech ... 7 October 1897 - 3 April 1977
buried at Holy Ghost Ukrainian Cemetery
Valley Township, Chester County, PA
Tombstone Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt prompted by GeneaBloggers in which an image of a gravestone is featured. It may also include a brief description of the image or the ancestor.

08 September 2014

Matrilineal Monday: Tracking down Elizabeth Winter

Elizabeth Winter has been a hard one to find. She married Socrates (or Coradis - I've seen it both ways) Miller down Smithville, Southern Lancaster County. Their daughter, Emma Miller, married Aldus J. Eckman and I have lots of paperwork on her. Her parents - not so much.

Emma was born on 25 August 1859, as confirmed by census records and her death certificate. Her parents were identified by my late sister-in-law, Wilma Lee, who provided me with many "start" places but no documentation. I have since documented everything and gained additional info! Her death certificate documents her parents as Coradis Miller and Elizabeth Winter. Coradis is identified as Socrates everywhere else.

According to the 1900 Census, Emma married Aldus Eckman in 1875. Now IF those dates are correct, then Emma would have only been 16 when she got married. The only two census records she would have been at home with her parents for would be the 1860 and 1870 census records.

I found a Socrates and Eliza Miller on the 1870 census for Smithville, in Providence Township, Lancaster County. Both parents are 50, making them born about 1820. Two daughters are at home: Esther, age 6; Emma F., age 1. Emma should be - if this is my Emma - 11 not 1. (My thought is that the census taker dropped a digit).

The 1860 census lists 40 year old parents Socrates and Elizabeth Miller. Four children - all daughters - are also listed. They are: Anna, age 14; Mary, age 7; Martha, age 5; my two-year old Emma!

Going back 10 more years, 30 year old Eliza Miller is listed on the Providence Township census with her 30 year old husband Socrates as well as three children. The children are: seven year old Joseph Miller, five year old Anna Miller, and 11 year old Albert Eckman. Unfortunately the 1850 census does not list how everyone is related to the head of the house.

So who is Albert Eckman? Albert would have been born in 1839. Joseph was the first child of Socrates and Elizabeth. He was born in 1844. Hence, Elizabeth Winters was married to an Eckman prior to Socrates Miller. Since she was so young then and had a young child, she remarried. Now to prove that and learn more about her!

When stuck like this, I will often look at other matching trees on Ancestry.com for hints and direction. There I found a Chadwick Family Tree which lists Socrates and Elizabeth. According to that tree, Elizabeth Winter had first married Samuel Eckman (1816 - 1841). They had one child - Albert (1839 - 1910). Elizabeth then married Socrates Miller in 1842. The tree also states that Elizabeth was born on 15 February 1818 to Joseph and Ann Winters. All the other information is the same as what I have already documented so while I am apt to believe this to be correct, I still want to document this new information.

From those clues, I gathered her death date as well (21 November 1907). I went to the PA Department of Health Death Indices and got Elizabeth's certificate number. Then I went back to Ancestry.com and searched the Pennsylvania Death Certificates for 1907 by certificate number and ...

Now I have confirmed, via another document, that Eliza Miller was born on 15 February 1820 to Joseph Winters and Annie Eberly. She is buried in Clearfield UM Cemetery and the informant is Aldus Eckman (Emma's husband).

While now I have finally found most of her statistics (that's what I call all the dates and documented info), I still want to know who she was. What did Elizabeth enjoy? What did she look like? Who was she really? These questions I may never find but ... the search continues!

07 September 2014

Sunday's Obituary: Loretta T Skrabalak

Loretta T. Skrabalak, 89, of Binghamton, died peacefully at her home, Tuesday, 24 August 2004. She was predeceased by her husband, John S. Skrabalak. She is survived by two sons and daughters-in-law, Robert and Danielle Skrabalak, Binghamton, James and Irene Skrabalak, Panama City Beach, Fla.; two daughters and a son-in-law, Patricia Markle, Johnson City, Donna and Melvin Burr, Binghamton; seven grandchildren and spouses, Tony and Mary Kay Skrabalak, Albany, N.Y., Dina Skrabalak, California, Jill Skrabalak, Portland, Maine, Kimberly Burr, Kensington, Md., Michael Burr, Binghamton, and Jacqueline and Nathan Markle, Johnson City; three great grandchildren, Ryan, Morgan, and Marina Skrabalak, all of Albany, N.Y. Loretta was a member of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, Binghamton. Lottie was a loving, kind and giving woman. One of her greatest gifts was a kidney donation to her sister, Jennie Crane.

A private memorial Mass of Christian Burial was held on Saturday, August 28, 2004. It is the wish of the family that memorial contributions in Loretta's name may be made to Lourdes Hospice Unit, 161 Riverside Dr., Binghamton, 13905, or to the Make a Wish Foundation of Central N.Y. c/o Hotel Syracuse, 120 Madison St., Syracuse, N.Y. 13202. 
Published in Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin on 30 August 2004

Photo: Dreamstime

06 September 2014

Society Saturday: Chester County Historical Society to get facelift

We all feel the need to freshen up once in awhile. We get our hair done up or our nails done. The Chester County Historical Society is no different! In January 2015 the Society's library will be temporarily closed for a face lift. They are calling it the "January Big Dig".

During January, the backlog of valuable library materials requiring the cataloging, rehousing, and processing of material, will be addressed.  The Library will be closed naturally during that month. Each year, the Society receives over 4,000 research requests.

The museum and gift shop will remain open. During January, the CCHS will offer FREE regular museum admission. The temporary exhibitions will be unavailable. The '60s! Winds of Change, will open on 26 February 2015.
CCHS is located at 225 North High Street, West Chester.

04 September 2014

Throwback Thursday: My grandparents at Coney Island

This photo is in a hodgepodge of photos in an album from my grandmother (Baba - Anna Kurenda Ruczhak - is the lady on the far right). It is one of those postcard photo cards, which in this case does not help me date the photo. My grandfather ( Joseph Ruczhak) is the one standing.
Years ago, before my grandparents both passed, we had gone through and tried to identify people in the album. A note I wrote identifies the man at the far right is Uncle Paul. The man second in from the left is my Uncle Nick - no note but he looks the same in all his photos. I have one of him in his 70s maybe and he still is just as handsome! Uncle Nick and Uncle Paul are both my grandfather's brothers.
I am not sure who the woman on the far left is. The other woman - the one in the middle - looks a lot like other photos of Baba's sister Helen. I cannot confirm this yet though and I have no clue who the man is between her and Baba.
One problem with her album, and the reason I call it a hodgepodge, is that the photos are randomly inserted and include both families. This indicates it was put together after instead of as it was happening.