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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Irma and Me

Watching the forecast being refined as the mainland United States awaits the arrival of Hurricane Irma is stimulating.  Whether you are in the path or close to the projected path of the largest recorded hurricane in history, the eyes of the country are watching and leaving us all pretty much wordless as we just recently witnessed the arrival of Harvey.

I have only known one Irma in my life and that was my second cousin, once removed.  Irma M WENZEL was the daughter of William Henry WENZEL(1870-1951) and Sadie Emma SIMMONS(1872-1944.)  The WENZEL family had a farm on Wenzel Rd in Pittsburgh, Allegheny, PA.  I guess I should say it is closer to the Mt Lebanon area.  Anyway, they had a farm and older cousins would relay tales of stopping by and grabbing fruit off the trees, even if they didn't go up to the house to see cousin William and Sadie.  As expected from those who know my heart and roots, both William and Sadie are buried at my family cemetery, the St Clair Cemetery, on Scott Rd in Mt Lebanon, Allegheny, PA.

Seeing the name Hurricane Irma brought memories of my Irma back to me.  Irma was born in May 1904 and died in Sept. 1987.  I only met her a couple of times when we would make the trek up to Pittsburgh to see my dad's aunt.  When we would visit, my sweet great-aunt would throw open the doors and tons (or so it seemed to me) of cousins would appear for various dinners.

Irma and her husband, Robert F ALGEO, would be two of the many guests dining on food, family lore and memories of the past.  I remember Irma and Robert well.  Robert was a salesman for the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco to you and me) and was considered to be a big joker.  He loved to tease and he loved to tease me.  He told me one time he would give me a nickel if I would get him more tea.  I replied that I thought the Yankees would be big spenders and that didn't qualify as one in my world.  Many roars of laughter erupted that day!

Irma was a typist, played piano and had horses and a big Eskimo type dog.  Sweet Irma.

Robert and Irma had no children.  Her one sister, Margaret Emma WENZEL, did not marry to my knowledge.  So that line is gone.  In fact, I lose track of Margaret after the 1940 census where is still single and living with sister Irma and brother-in-law Robert.

Ahhh, genealogy.  The winds of the past are swirling in my head.  Rest sweetly Irma.

©2017  AS Eldredge

Friday, August 25, 2017

Death in Homestead Cemetery in Allegheny County, PA

It's a sad day.  I just saw a news report from Pittsburgh, PA, that the Homestead Cemetery in Munhall is dead.  No owner. No burials. Just a very sad forgotten 34 acre burial site of long ago Allegheny County.

My heartfelt thanks to the volunteers who have taken the time out to try and take care of the grounds. If I was in the area, I would be there as well.

Before the cemetery is forced to completely die and its fate decided by the powers that be, I call upon the genealogy groups in the Western PA area to document as much as you can.  Currently, the records that still exist can be found at the West Mifflin Historical Society.  Unless it has changed, the records are not available to the public.  Can this be changed?

According to FindaGrave, about 44% of the gravestones have been photographed and over 7000 graves are identified.

I am sure there are more.  Wish I could dig them up before the information is lost forever.

Ahh, genealogy. Such a sad day for a death.

Read more here:

©2017  AS Eldredge

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: The Examiner of the Past

Learning about the genealogy of the family and then learning what some of the old folks accomplished during their time has resulted in me learning much more about our country and its early politics.

We all studied the basics in school about bank failures, who was President and what their main accomplishments were, the wars, states rights and so much more we have forgotten.  For me, seeing the early history of our land in context with my family has me digging for more knowledge.

So, on this very cold Wednesday which is also the birth date of President Andrew JACKSON, allow me to sit and read how cousin Condy RAGUET connected with him in the politics of the past.

It gets quite wordy in The Examiner, and Journal of Political Economy; Devoted to the Advancement of the Cause of State Rights and Free Trade edited by RAGUET.  Some of the issues can be read online.  So enjoy!

President Andrew Jackson declares war against South Carolina in 1834

Ah, genealogy. States rights, bank failures and free trade disagreements.  Still in heated discussions after over two hundred years of American history.

©2017  AS Eldredge


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Keziah and her Beau Go West to Look for Gold

It's another cold, blustery day outside, which makes it perfect to stroll through some old cemeteries.

Today, I found the tombstone of Daniel Howe SIMMONS (1829-1922) in River View Cemetery in Portland, Multnomah, Oregon.  This confused me for a moment as his death certificate indicates burial at the IOOF Greenwood Cemetery.  First question is:  what is IOOF?  The IOOF is the Odd Fellows Organization that was founded with the thought of giving aid to those who need it without needing recognition, in addition to other beliefs.

Apparently, they had quite the following out west and had burial spots for their members.  Both Daniel, and his wife, Keziah KLINGENSMITH (1823-1907), are buried in their cemeteries--  and in two different states.  Daniel resides in Oregon while Keziah passed away while the couple lived in San Diego, CA in 1907.  Keziah was also buried in an IOOF cemetery, although a headstone for her has not yet appeared for me to find.

Daniel H Simmons
Daniel Howe Simmons

Daniel was an active member of the Sons of the American Revolution and his bio at Findagrave indicates he was the only (I'm guessing first) member to be buried in Oregon.  I found it interesting that his stone includes the information that his dad, my grandpa, served in the American Revolution.  Well, yeppers, he did.  Daniel was a young teenager when his dad passed in 1843 in Wheeling, WV.

I don't why, but Daniel, along with his mother and siblings, move to Cincinnati, Hamilton, OH, before the 1850 census.  Daniel's bride was from western PA, and attempts to find her in the 1850 census in either locale have not been fruitful.  Sigh.  Their marriage is recorded in 1852 in Hamilton Co, OH.

Daniel and his new bride, Keziah, went to the Pacific Coast in 1852 to search for gold.  Alas, while he never struck it rich, his family ties to the American Revolution and to the growth of early America are pure gold.

Rest sweetly, Uncle Daniel.

Ahh, genealogy.  Just gotta wonder how Daniel got the middle name of HOWE?  Did his dad know him?

©2017  AS Eldredge

Findagrave:  River View Cemetery, Portland, Multnomah, OR
Photo credit:  FriendsofRiverView
Death Certificate for Daniel H Simmons
Obituary of Keziah Simmons

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Three Doors and Five Windows Found in Digitized Homestead Records

It's always a great day when old records are finally available online and at several onsite locations such as the National Archives and the FamilySearch Family History Centers.  Today, one of my trusty genealogy buffs sent a notice that the Homestead Final Certificates for the following states have been digitized and available to search:

David P Simmons Homestead

It's time to have some fun now to sort through these records to see if any stories are unearthed!

So far, I've enjoyed seeing the statements given.  For example:

1)  Head of Family
2) United States Citizen
3) Never borne any arms against the government
4)Never given aid to America's enemies

William Henry Simmons, 1837 land

Ahh, genealogy. No sympathy this Saturday, just a day of wondering about the house with 3 doors and 5 windows built around 1865 in Nebraska.

©2017  AS Eldredge

Sources: U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.
Original data: United States. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. Automated Records Project; Federal Land Patents, State Volumes, Virginia: Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 2007. U.S., Homestead Records, 1861-1908 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Land Entry Case Files: Homestead Final Certificates. Record Group 49: Records of the Bureau of Land Management. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Fun: Finding New Magazines of Old To Follow the Past

Ever wonder what the next step is in the quest for finding the family lore, er, history?  Sitting and scratching the head while trying to make sense of some newly uncovered finds can certainly be one of them.  Then again, finding something to new to look at can just provide the proper incentive to put off that head scratching just one more day.

I literally stumbled on to an announcement that the magazine Western Pennsylvania History has recently updated the issues which are online to read...  for free!  My little fin fans flew to the site which is on the Penn State Library site to see if there was anything of interest.  I just clicked on a random issue from the Spring of 2011 which had the picture of Benjamin FRANKLIN on the cover.  After a quick download of the PDF, I sat mesmerized by the article on old Ben gathering wagons to assist in the fight against BRADDOCK.

Deciding to see if there are any issues with any of my kin is an easy leap now.  Clicking on Oliver MILLER of the Whiskey Rebellion fame was a success.  So now I have to spend some serious hours just reading and absorbing the information.

Table of Contents, Winter 1992-1993,  Showing Article on Oliver Miller

This may take some time as the issues go back to 1918.  As a side note, looking back at one of the 1918 issues, I found a short article on the last public execution in Allegheny Co.  The event took place in 1818.  To provide a quick summary, John TIERNAN murdered Pat. (Patrick?) CAMPBELL.  Not surprising is the acknowledgement of alleged excessive drinking by TIERNAN.  Why did I find this of interest?

I, too, am acutely aware of a last hanging--  although the one I am familiar with was in Michigan, involved a man who was known to have been an unpleasant drunk, and was in 1830.  Guess we'll talk about that particular story later after I piece together some more details on the chap's young adult life.

Ahh, genealogy.  Another Friday to follow the past with the help of friends.  Awesome.

©2017  AS Eldredge


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: The Road to the White House

It's just one of those days.  Sunny with a mild breeze blowing!  It's a great day to sit and reflect on my family's journey for the White House. Yes, the White House.

Over the years, digging up the treasures of the family tales has been fascinating.  Of course, finding the legal evidence to support the tales is even better.  Sometimes, fun facts emerge from the research.

Take, for instance, my dad's bloodline.  Take the history of this great land and look at the government.  Locate the names of my blood who have served this land, either in the White House or as employees who directly served our nation's presidents.  Just last week, it dawned on me that I can document personal connections to 10 United States presidents.  TEN!

Some of these connections can be read about by looking back at old blog entries of mine.  Some of them have yet to be discussed.  Some of these connections were found in the letters of the Presidents, or in the latter four, their website with pictures!

Founders Early Access

Here is just a quick summary of the Presidents we have personally known and served:

George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Franklin Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Dwight Eisenhower
John Kennedy

And for fun, my parents had dinner with Miss Lillian, Jimmy Carter's mom, when he was running for the office.

As expected, this short list doesn't include any of the public offices my kin have held over the years.  What is probably most interesting is that no one holds any office now.  Gotta think about that one.

Want to relive some of these connections?

Perhaps, it's time to revisit some of these connections and see what more is popping up!  I expect to jot down some thoughts about John Adams and our connection there soon.

Ahh, genealogy.  One little, two little, ten big Presidents! Sit back, and just enjoy the words of the past.

Update:  Now evidence has upped the number.  Add the following personal connections to:
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Ronald Reagan

©2017  AS Eldredge