Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Beginning: Isaac L. & Hester Burgard Myers




Isaac L. & Hester Burgard Myers in front of their new residence, about 1906.
The house was newly completed, and stood at the SE corner
of Gold & Locust Streets in Centralia, WA.

     Among my grandmother's collection, was this photo of her maternal grandparents, Isaac L. and Hester (Hetty) Burgard Myers.  They are standing in front of their house in Centralia, Lewis County, Washington.  The house was very neat and trim, and the background shows a rural flavor.  He would have been about 65 at this point, she 62.  They were life-long members of the Church of the Brethren.  
     One story I know of their time here is that Grandma Myers had a white cat named Pearl, with whom Isaac had a strained relationship.  My grandmother said she remembered as a little girl, when  the cat and grandpa would be in one room of the house glowering at each other.  Hetty would call out from the kitchen, "You're not bothering that cat, are you?"  Isaac would make my grandmother laugh, by adopting a sugary sweet voice and replying, "Oh, NO, dear!"  This was said with a wink at my grandmother.
     The house was very close to the north-south railroad tracks running through town.  Hetty was known as a "soft touch" to the men who rode the rails.  It's thought that they might have carved symbols into the fence, indicating to other nomads that this was a woman who could be counted on to provide something to eat.


     Fast forward to the late 1990s, when the house had fallen into a sad state of collapse.  In 1998, I took these photos of the exterior and interior.  My sister Mary is standing before the front door.  It had been moved forward, flush with the rest of the house, when the porch had been enclosed.  Ignoring the no entry signs, I climbed in through a side window.  Not smart, as part of the roof had collapsed, but when did that ever discourage a genealogist?  I had worn steel-toed shoes for the occasion.  I dug down through the layers of wallpaper to the first one.  While it may not have been chosen by the Myers, it was certainly old.



     By 2003, the house had been torn down, but a couple of nice trees remained.  On my last trip, in 2012, I saw that they'd been taken down.  For every new beginning, there's sometimes a sad ending.  However, I feel quite fortunate to be able to call on these memories, and to have seen the site of my ancestors' daily experience.


















Thursday, June 19, 2014

A WOMAN SCORNED

It's easy to become discouraged when  research turns up nothing on our own ancestors.  But we get another shot of interest, when finding something unusual about someone else.  Take, for example, this story of a woman scorned, from Ontario County, New York, told in pithy newspaper inserts:

"The following are notices of MARITAL DESERTIONS in newspaper publications

From Geneva Gazette 4 January 1815
NOTICE
My Wife Elizabeth Witter, having for some time past refused to live with me, I hereby caution all persons having any dealings with her, or trusting her on my account.
EZRA WITTER
Seneca Jan. 3, 1815



From Geneva Gazette 25 January 1815
TO THE PUBLIC
As EZRA WITTER saw fit to post his Wife, I think it my duty to let the public know what for. He took other women home, who talked very unbecoming, besides using very hard threats towards me. He likewise denied he had any wife, said he had women enough without me, and would not part with them but by reason of the disease which afterwards appeared to his shame. I thought it best to stay at my own place.
ELIZABETH WITTER"


Copyright © 2002-12, Ontario County NYGenWeb and each contributor and author of materials herein. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Holland Land Office Museum


Holland Land Office Museum, May, 2014.  Taken by the author

HOLLAND LAND OFFICE MUSEUM - BATAVIA, NEW YORK

     The Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia, New York, houses a rich and varied collection of materials, housed in an 1815 stone building, the third in use this site.  It actually functioned as a land sales office until the late 1830’s, and was the first National Historic Landmark in Western New York.
     On a recent visit, my husband and I learned the story of how the 3 ½ million acre Holland Purchase began with a 1797 treaty, between representatives of Declaration of Independence signer Robert Morris and the Seneca tribe.  The Holland Land Company purchased the land from Morris, and began the ambitious project of having the huge tract surveyed, which covered a large portion of what is now western New York.
The survey, through thickly-forested terrain, was overseen by Joseph Ellicott, using links, chains, and the basic tools of the time.  Examples of these instruments, as well as an Ellicott family desk and a portrait of Joseph Ellicott, occupy a gallery recently renovated to recreate his actual land office of 1815.  There is also a pioneer kitchen, displaying household artifacts, and an outdoor space devoted to the original 1859 gibbet used in the area.
     Another gallery of the museum contains several unexpected displays.  One is devoted to Charles F. Rand, a Batavia native destined to go down in history as the first in the nation to answer President Lincoln’s call for volunteers at the outbreak of the Civil War.  He was also a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.  Another display is devoted to Ely S. Parker, born into the Seneca tribe, who was educated as a lawyer and civil engineer.  During the Civil War, he rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel, serving as Ulysses Grant’s adjutant.  The terms of surrender at Appomattox were written in his hand.
     The museum has acquired a number of items of interest which can be viewed at close range, including rare uniform pieces and equipment used in the War of 1812, firearms, and examples of drums used in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  Many local residents have donated items passed down through generations of their families.

Left, drum from the Revolutionary War, right, drum from Civil War.
Taken by the author, May, 2014
      Our tour of the museum was conducted by museum assistant Jeffrey Fischer, who generously shared his knowledge of the survey, the museum, and its contents.  Museum director Jeffrey Donahue was also on hand to answer our questions.  We were shown a map of the area which made up the Holland Land Purchase, which covered a number of present-day counties stretching east and south of Buffalo, NY.
     The museum does a fine job of introducing a number of intriguing historical figures and events.  An example is Joseph Ellicott, whose accomplishments make for a rousing story.  The AAA tour book for the area recommends 30 minutes be allowed for a stop here.  I believe that 30 minutes should be considered a nice start!

Holland Land Office Museum,
131 West Main Street
Batavia, NY 14020
http://www.hollandlandoffice.com/Home.aspx




Monday, April 21, 2014

Kentucky War of 1812 Paper Trail - 40 Years Later


A research concept that isn't always easy for me to make allowance for, is how much time and distance might exist between an event in my ancestor's life, and when it might appear in a written record.

Take, as an example, this item that I spotted randomly, in the online holdings of the excellent Kentucky Digital Library at http://kdl.kyvl.org/ .  I had entered a surname of interest in the search field, and was taken to this page, published in 1852.  While looking over the columns, I saw this notice for someone wanting to buy up, or sell, land warrants held by War of 1812 veterans.  It was inserted by Jno. B. Akin of Danville, KY, which is in Boyle County, south of Lexington.


I was struck by how many transactions and names this might have generated, which open up avenues of research for military service forty years earlier.  The non-specific nature of the notice, makes me wonder whether mention of service in other states, and an ancestor's place of origin, might have occurred.  And how many people in places beyond Boyle County saw the notice, and responded?

We sometimes need to get creative to find that paper trail, even when forty years have passed!







Monday, March 31, 2014

"New" Eckerson house - 100 years later

Pursuing our ancestors in the local newspapers of the time can reward us with some pretty specific nuggets, particularly if our relations lived in a small town.  The editors were always on the lookout for something to fill up the pages, some of which was pretty mundane ("Mr. Smith was in town yesterday doing business at the post office...he reports a fine litter of pigs was born at his place.").

One such item of interest to me appeared in the Centralia Daily Chronicle (Lewis County, Washington).  The issue of Friday, November 7, 1913 published this brief entry:



The Mr. and Mrs. Eckerson, were John and Estella Channell Eckerson, parents of Harold L. Eckerson.  Harold was 11 when they moved into the house, which was located on Harrison Avenue in Centralia.

This photo shows how the house looked some time later, after some shrubbery had matured.
John & Stella Eckerson house, Harrison Avenue, Centralia, WA
Stella was widowed in 1922, and lived out much of the rest of her life in the house alone, except for the period of time she offered room and board to her bachelor uncle, Sam Channell.

Sadly, the house declined over time, and  is now the home of a used car lot, with traffic whizzing by on the widened road.  Going to visit today is like picking a scab, you know you shouldn't do it, but you can't help it.  Interesting to note that some of the leaded glass panes are still in place.

Two different bookends to the life of a house:  the newspaper announcement of a fresh beginning, and its final chapter as a forlorn sales office.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Levi Eckerson Bamber - Man in Motion



The "FAN" approach to ancestral research (Family, Associates, & Neighbors) teaches us to widen the net in gathering information.  Studying people beyond our direct ancestors can often yield clues to the puzzle.  And, making the effort always adds a richness and texture to the story, when learning about family members in the context of a certain time and place.   

I had put aside the family of Mary Eckerson Bamber, daughter of my direct ancestor, Levi Eckerson, when the trail went cold many years ago.  Picking up the threads of her story again, I was fascinated by the journey taken by her son, Levi Eckerson Bamber.  I am frankly unsure how I would ever have followed his trail, without having learned to use the variety of digitized and indexed sources that are now available online.

Looking at the events in the lives of Levi E. Bamber and his family, one can imagine that being on the move probably took a toll.  I wonder whether they all moved together, or did the family break apart permanently at some point.  Did his wartime experience have an impact on his emotions?

I created this table to remind me how much more there is to a family tree, besides just going backwards in time.  

LEVI ECKERSON BAMBER - MAN IN MOTION
Date
Location
Comment
17 July 1850
Franklinville, Cattaragus Co., NY federal census
Age 5.  Living with parents John & Mary Eckerson Bamber, and siblings.
1855
Nora Twp., Jo Daviess Co., IL state census
Age bracket of 10-20.  Living with parents John & Mary Eckerson Bamber, and siblings.
27 July 1860
Centre, Lafayette Co., WI federal census
Age 14.  Living with parents John & Mary Eckerson Bamber, and siblings.
25 Dec 1861
Enlistment, age probably no more than 16.  Living in Darlington, Lafayette Co., WI
Enlisted in Company I, Wisconsin 16th Infantry Regiment.  Regiment raised in Madison, WI. Musician.  Regiment saw service at Battle of Shiloh (TN) and many others.
Winter, 1864-1865
Camp Joe Holt Hospital, Clarksville, Indiana
20 years later, an army comrade sought Levi Bamber’s address, indicating they met here about this time.
13 April 1865
Jeffersonville, Clark, Indiana.  Directly across the river from Louisville, KY
Married (1) Mary J. Mitchell.  Did this marriage officially end, before his second?  Was it a wartime romance, which ended with his departure from the area?  Did she die shortly after the wedding?
12 Jul 1865
Louisville, KY
Mustered out (two months after his wedding in the vicinity)
4 July 1869
Kane Co., IL
Married (2) Josephine Peck
19 August 1870
Plato, Kane Co., IL federal census
Age 24 - Farmer & Dentist.  With wife and 1 child.
27 February 1873
North Plato, Kane Co., IL
Appointed postmaster (new postmaster assigned 1877).
1 November 1876
Alameda Co., CA great register of voters
Age 29 (1847?).  Clearly registered as “Bamber, Levi Eckerson.”  Nativity, New York.
1 November 1876
Alameda Co., CA great register of voters (another print version).
As above.
7 July 1879
Twp. 3, Amador Co, CA great register of voters.
Age 31 (1848?).  Nativity, New York.
11 June 1880
San Rafael, Marin Co., CA federal census
Age 34 – Dentist.  With wife and 5 children, all living with brother-in-law, Edgar Peck.
1882
Denver, Colorado
Listed in city directory as dentist.
1883
Denver, Colorado
Listed in city directory as dentist.
1 June 1885
El Paso County, Colorado state census.
37 – Dentist.  Described as a “bachelor” and divorced.  Living alone.
17 July 1887
Colorado
Filed for pension.
1887-1890         
Steamboat Springs, Ruott Co., CO.  Death presumably took place in this area during this time.  Unsourced genealogy forum posting states he died crossing the Colorado River on horseback.
There is a listing for an L.E. Bamber in the Steamboat Springs Cemetery, per FindaGrave.com.  No dates.  Probably about 45 years of age at time of death. 
1890
St. Michael, Madison Co., MO
Widow Josephine listed on Civil War pension enumeration.




Sunday, January 26, 2014

Blauvelt Family - Genealogy to Gossip, in Record Time

It's like opening a buried treasure chest, every time I attempt to track down some documentation from my ancient file folders.  The original goal becomes forgotten, as I page through various scraps of paper, some of which are gems.

Take this example:  through my Eckerson ancestors, I apparently connect to several Dutch New York surnames, one of which is Blauvelt.  The Eckerson and Blauvelt names occur regularly throughout colonial New York, so I'm certainly not unique.  I admired how quickly this little paragraph, about a published Blauvelt family history, went from establishing its source citation, to some juicy gossip.

"BURIED IN THE LIBRARY.  In the Library of Congress is a document entitled The Blauvelt Family Genealogy, which covers the history of the family from 1620 to 1956.  Published in 1957, it can be found under Catalog Card No. 56-10936.  On Page 884, under the title "Eleventh Generation" is the notation of the 12,427 descendent (sic) - Durie Malcom.  It reads "We have no birth date.  She was born Keir (my note:  obit says Kerr), but took the name of her stepfather.  She first married Firmin Deslodge, IV.  They were divorced.  Durie then married F. John Bersbach.  They were divorced, and she married, third, John F. Kennedy, son of Joseph P. Kennedy, one time Ambassador to England.  There were no children of the second or third marriages.  Official records show that Kennedy was married on September 12, 1953 to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.  But there are no records of Kennedy divorcing Durie."

One might question a book that offers so little evidence, but perhaps the newspaper author whittled it down for the purpose of brevity.

I didn't note the date this was published, but since the next article is about the Michelangelo computer virus, (which would affect DOS programs!), I've determined that it must have been about February/March of 1991.   I had cut the Blauvelt piece out and tossed it into a folder which contains a hodge-podge of vaguely-related Eckerson material,  mysteriously titled "permanent holding."  Perhaps that means:   hang onto it until you need it, or forget why you wanted it!

Naturally, I had to do a Google search on this individual.  The rumor is very well-known.  Durie's obituary from 2008 tells of a pretty worldly existence, which sounded like a TV miniseries.  It says she denied the Kennedy rumor, but what it really states is that she never talked about it.