Friday, December 8, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz's Parents -- A Description

I discovered the interesting life of Hiram Abiff Boaz, my 4th cousin three times removed and great great grandfather of one of my brother's DNA matches. Solving the common shared ancestor enabled me to "meet" Bishop Boaz.

Wikipedia profile: Hiram Abiff Boaz
Texas State Historical Association biography: Hiram Abiff Boaz

Hiram Abiff Boaz was licensed to preach in 1889 by the quarterly conference of the First Church (Methodist); taught at several universities, was president of Southern Methodist University, elected Bishop in the Methodist Church, served in the Far East several times before retiring. Much has been written about Bishop Boaz so I will not repeat that information in detail.

However, I learned Bishop Boaz wrote an autobiography entitled, "Eight-four Golden Years: Autobiograph of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz." I found the book at a used book store through and wanted to share with his descendants that he was a genealogist and knew quite a bit about his family history.

A word of caution, you will likely find the description of his parents difficult to read because of its attitude towards slavery and the ownership of human beings, as well as the assumption that a well-cared-for slave is a happy slave. I chose to include the information because Bishop Boaz was no racist bigot from everything I have read. He was a worldly, well- educated and traveled man. The view he espoused in 1951 when his autobiography was written was not atypical for a Southern gentleman of the era. So for all the prejudices our fellow African-Americans still experience, we have come a long, long way from the beliefs of 1951. I found that to be a positive message the more I reflected upon its meaning. 

From Chapter I: Ancestry, Childhood and Early Youth:

"I was born in Murray, Kentucky, on December 18, 1866, soon after the close of the War Between the States. I was the sixth in a family of eight children. I was well born. My father and mother were sound in mind and body. There were in the prime of life when I made my appearance. Neither had any physical handicap or mental peculiarity. Both were physically strong, mentally alert and morally sound. For this rich inheritance I thank God and my parents.

Home of Peter Maddox Boaz in Calloway County, Kentucky; from
Eighty-four Golden Years: Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz

Peter Maddox Boaz was my father. He was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, January 19, 1819, and there grew to manhood. He moved from Virginia to Concord County, Kentucky, about 1849, and remained there until 1852, when he moved again, this time to Calloway County, where he remained until 1873. He was six feet in height and weighed one hundred eight pounds. He was strong and robust. He had a clear gray eye with a bluish tinge. Being a man with unusual mental and physical qualities he became very successful in business. He was the owner of a large plantation near Murray, Kentucky. He was also a grower and manufacturer of tobacco and the owner of quite a few slaves. These slaves worked around the home, on the farm and in the tobacco factory. There homes were not far from the "Big House" and were well suited for their comfort. They enjoyed every consideration at the hands of my father who was always kind to them and their children. They held him in high esteem and were devoted to him and his family. When given their freedom by proclamation of President Lincoln they hesitated long before accepting their liberty. Some of them remained with him as hired servants for some time. One of them, 'Cupe' by name, came with him to Texas and remained with him to the day of his death, as a hired servant, of course.[1] Thus my father demonstrated the kindness of his great heart.

Peter Maddox Boaz; from Eighty-four Golden Years:
Autobiography of Bishop Hirman Abiff Boaz

Being a good citizen and fearless in the discharge of his duty, he was elected sheriff of his county and served in that capacity for several years. When the War Between the States broke out, he was one of the most successful businessmen of his county and one of its most useful citizens. He lived in a beautiful colonial home, surrounded by large and stately trees on the outskirts of Murray. He and his family and his slaves were happy and prosperous, living in peace and plenty.

When the war closed his slaves were freed, his business disorganized and his fortune swept away. Being prosperous and kindhearted he had signed security notes for his friends in financial distress and had many of those notes to pay when the war was over. The federal army confiscated his livestock used on the farm and took his tobacco from the barnes. The war left father without slaves, without business and broken in spirit. That is what war does for millions.

In the early spring of 1873 he sold his home and all that was left by the war and in March moved to Tarrant County, Texas, settling near Birdville, about seven miles east from what is now the city of Fort Worth. From the severe shock of the war, he never recovered his fortune or his spirit. He was a broken and bruised reed to the end of his life.

My mother, Louisa Ann Ryan, was born March 5, 1836, at Lynchburg, Virginia. Her parents were Virginians and belonged to the well-to-do class of planters of that State. She was a first cousin to Thomas Fortune Ryan, the New York multimillionaire. She inherited many fine qualities from those Virginia parents. Her great-grandfather, James Wills, fought in the French and Indian Wars. She was five feet and five inches in height and did not weigh more than one hundred twenty pounds. Her eyes were blue, her voice soft and sweet. She was endowed with remarkable energy and her powers of endurance were almost beyond limit. In the days of her prosperity she had slaves to look after the children, slaves to do all the work around her lovely home. I am told that these faithful slaves adored their "Mistress." To me this is no wonder for all her children adored her. She was the idol of our hearts.

Louisa Ann (Ryan) Boaz; from Eighty-four Golden Years;
Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz

She presided over her home with grace and poise. She never lost her patience. She seamed never to tire in her labors of love and mercy. In the days of her prosperity she was modest and unassuming. In the days of adversity she toiled with untiring energy to keep her household in order and to look after all the interests of the entire family. After cooking and cleaning house all day she worked many times until midnight to keep her children in suitable clothes. She never complained of hardships in those days of poverty, but was always cheerful and optimistic. Perhaps this was because of her sublime faith in God and His never failing mercies. She was devoutly religious. As a child I believed in God because my mother believed in Him and I believed in my mother. This faith in God was held in my youth because of my faith in my mother. When I went away to college I had to find an independent faith of my own, an individual experience of God, but faith in my mother was an anchor that never failed and held me true to God.

To me my mother was a beautiful woman. It was not the beauty of rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes but the beauty of a saintly life. The beauty of serenity and peace was hers. Her lovely spirit, her motherly devotion to her children, her supreme confidence in the goodness of God made her beautiful to all her children. By example and precept she tried to lead all her children into the higher and nobler life. She instilled the principles of absolute honesty at all times. She taught us to tell the truth on all occasions regardless of the result to us, to deal fairly with all men at all times in spite of what others might do to us. Many tines have I heard her say, 'Have a place for everything and everything in its place.' 'Two wrongs never make a right.' 'Do right and you will win in the end.' She taught us to honor God in all things and to keep His commandments, and she set the example in her own life. I never saw her do anything that I thought was wrong. Her sublime faith in God and her beautiful Christian life have wonderfully influenced my entire career. To her I owe more than I can ever repay.

She maintained her home in Benbrook to the end of her life, although she spent much of her time in our home during her later days. She often said that she kept that home of her own so that if she tired of living in the homes of her children she would have a home of her own to which she could retire in peace and quiet. In this she was wise as in so many other ways.

In her eighty-second year while residing in my home, she fell and broker her hip and became bedfast. She suffered no pain but gradually failed in strength. Frequently when asked how she felt she would reply that she was in no pain but 'very tired.' On the night of November 27, 1917, she quietly took her departure for the world beyond the skies. There was no pain, no struggle, and her immortal spirit took its flight to the God who gave it. She had lived a marvelous life and died a triumphant death to enter on that life beyond the grave that is richer, fuller and infinitely more glorious than this life. Today the memory of her voice is like the memory of sweet toned bells, the memory of her beautiful sprit is like the memory of fragrant flowers. She is singing around the Throne of God today. Some day I shall join her and what a meeting that will be!"

[1] "Cupe, the former slave and servant to Peter Maddox Boaz has been released on the Slave Name Roll Project.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Deadlier than War

Little Birdie Dawson died on 26 October 1918 at the age of 14 years, 2 months and 17 days of epidemic influenza, which claimed the lives of between 30 and 100 million people worldwide between 1918 and 1919. She was really just a blip in the statistics and died after being treated by a physician at home for two days. She was also my second cousin once removed.

Before the pandemic came to Virginia, people were focused on the war across the Atlantic. Young men and women were leaving to serve as soldiers and nurses and citizens at home made sacrifices for the war effort and bought Liberty bonds.

And then influenza came to Virginia. There were two main outbreaks in 1918 -- the fall outbreak between September and October and the second outbreak, in December. It attacked the most productive members of society, those between 20 and 40 years of age, tested all levels of government and a the medical community weakened by the war effort.

Women wearing masks to protect them from influenza; courtesy of Helena
as She Was, an open history resource

The first outbreak began in Virginia in Army camps set up to train recruits to fight in Europe. One 13 September a newly arrived soldier had an "acute respiratory infection." Three days later there were over 500 influenza cases at the camp. In total, 48,000 soldiers died in Camp Lee, about 130 east of Bedford County where Birdie lived. It didn't take long before the flu spread to the civilian population and Birdie was dead little more than a month after that first case at Camp Lee. She was one of 84 people who died in Bedford of Spanish influenza that year.

Birdie Loren Dawson was born on 8 August 1904 in Bedford County to Whiston Robert Dawson and Ada Deliah Burks. She was their eldest child. Her father was the grandson of my two times great grandfather Powhatan Perrow Jennings.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Another Honor Roll Project Success!

I can't let the month in which we celebrate Veterans day to pass without mentioning another Honor Roll Project success. The objective of the project is to photograph veteran honor rolls memorials and transcribe the names so they would be indexed by Internet search engines and available to family historians and genealogists when searching for their military ancestors.

In September of 2015 I accompanied my husband to Albany, New York, where he works. While he slaved away at the office, I explored the cities, towns, and villages in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts, photographing war memorials and other interesting things. In Pittsfield, Memorial Park is downtown and includes an honor roll memorial for the men from the city who served in the Civil War. I contributed the photographs and names in a blog post in honor of Memorial Day 2016. Another member of our Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group discovered her four times great grandfather's name among those listed in my post!

Facebook conversation about the Honor Roll contributions for Memorial
Day 2016; screenshot courtesy of Facebook

I was so excited as this was my second success.

The Honor Roll Project was created by Heather Wilkinson Rojo, author of Nutfield Genealogy. My contributions may be found here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

5th Infantry Division World War II Combat Narrative

Peter Charles Dagutis was born on 10 March 1918. He was my husband's father and we lost him in 1991. He lived in Detroit as a young man and was engaged to be married. Then, his life was interrupted by the military draft enacted under the Selective Service and Training Act of 1940. He was drafted on 7 April 1941 and did not return home from Europe until 18 June 1945. He served as part of the 5th Infantry Division, more specifically with Company H, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Regiment, 5th Division, Third Army.[1]

This combat narrative was written by Army historians after the World War II and is part of the official history of the U.S. Army.


The division arrived at Utah Beach France 11 July 1944 and assumed defensive positions from 1st Infantry Division near Caumont 13 July 1944. On 26 July 1944 it attacked to take Vidouville and made a limited advance to Torigny-sur-Vire-Caumont Road, after which it was reassembled 1 August 1944. On 8 August 1944 the division opened its offensive toward Nantes, taking Angers 10 August 1944, and with the assistance of 7th Armored Division, captured Chartes 18 August 1944. Speeding easter the division crossed the Seine at Montereau 24 August 1944 and took Rheims 30 August 1944 and established a bridgehead across the Meuse at Verdun at month's end. The division began the battle for Metz 7 September 1944 as the 2nd Infantry was stopped in the Amanviller-Verneville area and the 11th Infantry pushed up the Meuse heights near Dornot. The 2nd Infantry continued to batter the city's outer fortifications, and on 8 September 1944 the division gained a precarious bridgehead over the Moselle which immediately came under heavy shell fire and continuous counter attack. The 2nd Infantry made repeated frontal assaults as engineers bridge the river for tanks on 12 September 1944. But the Arnaville bridgehead effort was hampered by German shelling or the deep mud and ammunition shortages. The 10th Infantry and 11th Infantry regrouped inside the perimeter and defended it against a strong German attack 17 September 1944.

Soldiers of the 5th and 95th infantry divisions in Metz; photograph courtesy
of the Center for Military History

The division attacked Fort Driant commencing 27 September 1944, which guarded the northern approaches to Metz. The 11th Infantry forced its way into the bastion's outer edges 3 October 1944, but the Germans counterattacked from the tunnels after dar. The division committed itself entirely into this battle in very costly combat, but by 12 October 1944, attempts to seize the fort were given up, and the division withdrew to rest. On 12 November 1944 the division returned to the assault and was counterattacked at once as it entered the bridgehead of 6th Armored Division. Over the next few days the 2nd Infantry took Ancerville; the 10 Infantry reduced Fort Aisne, BOies de l'Hospital, Marly, and Fort Queuleu; and the the 11th Infantry pushed into Metz itself, the division encircling the town completed the following day. Rear-guard opposition inside Metz had been mopped up by 22 November 1944, but the division kept infantry to contain the forts there while it relieved the 95th Infantry division and attacked cross the Nied 25 November 1944. The Ste. Quentin fortifications surrendered to the division on 6 December 1944 as it was pulled back to assembly areas.

Belgium and Luxembourg

On 16 December 1944, the German Ardennes counteroffensive began, and the division relieved the 95th Infantry Division at Saarlautern bridgehead, attacking out of it 18 December 1944. After slow progress, Waldbilling and Haller fell 25 December 1944. Throughout January the division continued to reduce the southern flank of the German drive in conjunction with 4th Infantry Division. On 4 February 1945 it was relieved in line by 6th Cavalry Group and took up new positions.

5th Infantry Division medics during the Battle of the Bulge; photograph
courtesy of the Center of Military History


It attacked across the Sauer River near Echternach 7 February 1945 despite strong currents and German shelling which prevented bridging. It expanded this bridgehead to the West Wall LIne by 10 February 1945 and by 19 February 1945 cleared up to the west bank of the Pruem RIver. After regrouping, the 2nd Infantry and 10th Infantry crossed the Pruem near Peffingen during the night of 24-25 February 1945. The 11th Infantry cut the Bitburg-Trier Highway on 27 February 1945 and cleared to the west bank of the Kyll by the following day. The division opened its attack to establish the Kyll bridgehead between Erdorf and Philippsheim on 2 March 1945. Progress was rapid as the division leapfrogged elements past numerous towns and reached the Moselle 10 March 1945. The 2nd Infantry and 11 Infantry crossed the rivier 14 March 1945 after divisional regroupment and seize Treis, Lutz and Eveshausen.

5th Infantry Division crossing the Sauer River; photograph courtesy of Center
for Military History

Working closely with the 4th Armored Division, the division reached the Rhine with the 11 Infantry at Oppenheim and Nierstein on 21 March 1945. The next day the regiment crossed the river with little difficulty. On 26 March 1945 the 10th Infantry captured the Rhine-Main airport as the division reached Frankfurt-am-Main. On 4 April 1945 it completed clearing the city and secured it until 9 April 1945 when it closed into the Olsenburg area. The 10 Infantry attacked to take Arnsberg while the 2nd Infantry reached the Ruhr River 12 April 1945. The 11th Infantry rejoined the division from Frankfurt on 14 April 1945, and the division then occupied Westphalian regions south of the Ruhr until relieved by the 75th Infantry Division on 24 April 1945.

Czechoslovakia and Austria

On 1 May 1945 the division advanced across the Czechoslovaian border and into Austria behind armored units. On 5 May 1945 the division attacked across the Tepla River and followed the 4th Armored Division through the Regen and Freyung passes as the hostilities brought its offensive to a halt.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Why John and Mary Boyd (Mitchell) Are Not the Parents of Robert Mitchell (1714-1799)

After researching the ancestors of my great grandmother, Effie (Beard) Jennings (1871-1906), I learned she was the daughter of David Fleming Beard, Sr., and his second wife, Barbara Ann Mitchell. Barbara Ann was great granddaughter of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell (1714-1799).[1] Robert Mitchell was born in Londonderry and immigrated with his parents and siblings to Pennsylvania. They settled in Pequea, Pennsylvania, where many Presbyterians of Scottish descent settled prior to the Revolutionary War. We known Robert "the Elder" Mitchell migrated to Bedford County, Virginia, where he wrote his will and died in 1799.

Many, many family trees indicate Robert is the son of John Mitchell and Mary Boyd. I do not believe these are the correct parents for Robert "the Elder" Mitchell. Instead I believe his parents were Robert Mitchell and Mary Innes said to be of Edinburgh, Scotland, for the following reasons:

John Mitchell's Will
John Mitchell was born on 1 July 1682 in Londonderry and he wrote his will on 14 February 1771 in Augusta County, Virginia. (Chronicles of Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, 1745-1800 by Lyman Chalkely). This will has been cited as evidence that Robert (1714-1799) and James Mitchell (between 1710-1720-before 1776) are John's sons.

In his will, he named Elizabeth, his wife (not Mary Boyd) and the following children: Thomas, Robert, John, James, Elenor (Mitchell) Wilson, Mary (Mitchell) Right, and Elizabeth. Son James was born about 1742 in Augusta County and could not be the James Mitchell who married Margaret Caldwell circa 1751. All of John Mitchell's other known children who were alive at the time of his death were mentioned in his will.

Several sons with given names whose descendants are DNA matches were not mentioned in the will.

Robert Mitchell's Will
Robert "the Elder" Mitchell wrote his will on 23 April 1781; it was proved on 25 February 1799 in Bedford County, Virginia. The will includes the following bequests:

"To my beloved wife Mary I give the Plantation I now live on during her life or widowhood, at the end of either I give it to my son Samuel. Also to my wife Mary I give all my movable Estate to be disposed of at her discretion...

To my son Daniel I give one hundred acres of Land where he now lives.

To Robert and Stephen I Give the remainder of the Upper Tract I bought off Hilton.

To Josiah Campbell the lower half of the same tract."

Rev. William Henry Foote wrote of Rev. James Mitchell, son of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell, in his book, Historical and Biographical Sketches of Virginia, based on information he received from a Mitchell descendant, Rev. Jacob D. Mitchell in 1854:

"...He father Robert Mitchel, was born in the north of Ireland but emigrated to America while still a youth...His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Enos, was, it seems of Welsh extraction...This excellent pair resided in Bedford County for many years...They had 13 children, of whom not one died less than 70 years."

Only five children are named in his will, and I have 15 possible children in my tree. I have been using DNA to confirm which of those 15 children belong to Robert Mitchell and Mary Enos. Using DNA and documentary evidence I have been able to prove these children: Susannah Mitchell, who married Josiah Campbell; Rev. James Mitchell; Stephen Mitchell; Robert Harvey Mitchell; Mary Mitchell, who married Samuel Beard; Margaret Mitchell, who married Adam Beard; Martha Ann Mitchell, who married Samuel Claytor; and Daniel Mitchell.

Mary Innes/Mary Enos Problem
Several trees have compressed two generations of Robert Mitchells into one generation. I believe the problem was caused by the similarities of their wives' maiden names.

Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell, married to Mary Innes, immigrated to Pennsylvania when with his wife and young children in about 1735. One of his sons, also named Robert, who I call "the Elder," married to Mary Enos in Delaware.

Other children of Robert "the Immigrant" may be Daniel (about 1718-1775), married to Mary Caldwell, and James (before 1720-before 1776), married to Margaret Amey Caldwell.

Daniel Mitchell's Will
Daniel Mitchell was born about 1718 in Londonderry and wrote his will on 13 June 1775 in Bedford County. An estate inventory and appraisal was filed with the court on 18 October 1775 so I am assuming he died between June and October 1775. In his will he named his brother Robert (including the relationship between them) as an executor. (Abstracts of Bedford County, Virginia, Wills, Inventories, and Accounts, 1754-1787 by Joida Whitten)

Daniel made his brother his executor yet Daniel was not mentioned inJohn Mitchell's will which was written when he was still alive.

Documentary evidence of residence in Pennsylvania and Bedford County exists for Robert "the Elder" Mitchell. However, no documents proving residence in Augusta County have been discovered, which would be likely if Robert Mitchell was the son of James Mitchell and wife, Elizabeth. It is possible a Robert Mitchell lived in Augusta County but he has not been proved to be Robert "the Elder" Mitchell.

Books about the Mitchell Family
Shipley, Mitchell, and Thompson Families compiled by Stith Thompson and published in 1964 includes a family tree that indicated Daniel and Robert were brothers and their father was named Robert:

Mitchell family tree; image courtesy of

Mr. Thompson's book includes the following:

"Up to the present time we have few reliable records of this line of Mitchells before 1747. It is clear that at that time there were two brothers in Bedford County, Virginia, Daniel Mitchell and Robert Mitchell. What we know of the father of these brothers comes from letters embodying the traditions of the family of Rev. James Mitchell (son of Robert) who was born in 1747. These traditions assert that the father of Daniel and Robert was Robert Mitchell of Londonderry, Ireland. He is spoken of as "the Immigrant."

Mrs. W. H. Walthall of Roanoke, Virginia, wrote on 4 February 1895: Robert Mitchell was born in Londonderry, Ireland, in the latter part of the 17th century. His father's family suffered greatly in that noted siege of Londonderry (1689), of which he loved to talk. When a young man in the first part of the 18th century, he married Miss. Mary Innis of Edinburgh, Scotland, and moved to America and settled at Pequa, Pennsylvania.[2] They had thirteen children. While the children were young he moved to Virginia and settled in Bedford County. He raised them all and as soon as they became grown they scattered all over the Union, all married and raised large families. Rev. James Mitchell, my grandfather was his youngest child. He was born 29 January 1747."[3]

From a letter from Mrs. George P. Parker of Bedford, Virginia to Stith Thompson dated 24 September 1934 we have the following: "Robert and Daniel Mitchell were sons of Robert, Sr., the Immigrant. Daniel and Robert Mitchell, Scotch Irish immigrants landed at Philadelphia about 1735, went to Pequa and to Bedford County, Virginia, about 1754-56." (This information is from family notes belonging to Dr. John Mitchell of Bedford County.)

Pequea, Pennsylvania. The river is the Susquehanna; courtesy of RootsWeb

Mr. Thompson believed the Mitchell brothers traveled to Lunenburg/Bedford County in a large party led by the Caldwell family.

My paternal uncle, siblings, cousins and I who descend from Effie (Beard) Jennings have 28 DNA matches that have a Mitchell as the common shared ancestor. For 26 of those matches Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell was the common shared ancestor. This is not surprising as we descend from his son, Rev. James Mitchell (1747-1841). However, for two of those matches, the common shared ancestor was Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell (before 1689-unknown). One descended through the son James Mitchell (between 1710-1720-before 1776) and the other descended through Daniel Mitchell (born about 1718-died 1775).

Based on family tradition, histories written just decades after the relevant people died, documentary evidence and DNA seem to support my conclusion that Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell was the father of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell and at least two other sons -- Daniel and James. What is still unknown was which of the two Robert Mitchells had 13 children as one sources says the Immigrant and the other says the Elder. Perhaps one day we'll be able to solve that mystery.

[1] Effie (Beard) Jennings >> Barbara Ann (Mitchell) Beard >> Daniel Mitchell >> Rev. James Mitchell >> Robert "the Elder" Mitchell >> Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell

[2] Bedford County was formed from Lunenburg County on 15 December 1753. Thereafter, the Robert Mitchell lived in Bedford County.

[3] Pequea (pronounced peck-way) was spelled Pequa in the Colonial Era.

[4] According to several documents I have found, Rev. James Mitchell was not the youngest son of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell and Mary Enos.

More information disputing the relationship between John Mitchell and Mary Boyd as the parents of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell may be found here: Mitchell Family History

Revisiting Daniel Mitchell, Patriot
Robert Mitchell, the Elder

Monday, November 20, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Jewell Progress

I've known since I took over our family's genealogy research from my father in late 2012 that my great great grandfather Powhatan Perrow Jennings married Catherine B. Jewell, a daughter of Thomas and Sallie (maiden name unknown) Jewell in 1836. After spending an afternoon in the Virginia Room at the Fairfax County Library, I could add a bit more to my scant Jewell knowledge base. Thomas Jewell[1] died before 21 October 1833 when Catherine's brother was made a guardian of his sister Catherine:

From the The Wills of Amherst County, 1761-1865:

CATH. JEWELL -- Book 8, Page 355 -- Guardian Bond -- October 21, 1833. JESSE JEWELL, JAS. JEWELL, and TERISHA JEWELL for JESSE as guardian of CATH. JEWELL, orphan of THOS. JEWELL, deceased.

I assumed Thomas' wife, Sallie, was also deceased since Catherine was considered by the courts to be an orphan.[2]

And for years I never tried researching the Jewell family in any depth until I looked at this DNA match which was a new entry in my list of matches:

Family tree of new DNA match for Schalene (Jennings) Dagutis; image
courtesy of

Only the Blankenship surname was familiar to me and no geographic locations were included in this tree but after looking at our shared matches, the match had to be part of my Jennings line, who have been in Virginia since before the Revolutionary War.

I started at the top of his tree and entered what little information was provided about Russell Moon, and added that he lived in Virginia. The Find A Grave record included parents and the 1920 census confirmed Oscar L. and Valera Moon were his parents. Searching on Oscar revealed Valera Moon's maiden name was Burley. That was a familiar surname of which I have several from Amherst County in my tree. I learned her father was Thomas Dillworth Burley and his father was Uriah Burley.

I search my tree prior to entering a new person to ensure I am not entering a duplicate. When I searched my tree for Uriah Burley, I discovered he was already in my tree, married to Catherine Jewell's sister, Terisha (in the will book), but Tacie/Tacey in other records. I had Terisha as a possible sister of Catherine's but had no proof of the relationship...or so I thought.

So I now knew that the common shared ancestor between the DNA match and myself was Thomas Jewell, my first DNA confirmation the paper trail was correct.

My research skills have improved since 2012 so I thought I investigate Thomas again. The first thing I did was to review what I already knew. And slapped my forehead (figuratively) in frustration as this transcription stared out at me from my tree:

From the The Wills of Amherst County, 1761-1865:

THOS. JEWELL -- Book 8, Page 354 -- Administrator's Bond -- September 16, 1833. JESSE MUNDY. Bondsman: CHAS. MUNDY. Book 8, Page 364 -- Inventory -- Farmer - $3,706.76. September 30, 1833. WM. KENT; LAWSON TURNER; RUBEN CARVER. Book 9, Page 22 -- Division to legatees: JESSE JEWELL, WM. WOODSON, JAS. JEWELL, CATH. JEWELL, URIAH BURLEY, TERISHA JEWELL. October 30, 1833. JNO. DILLARD, WM. KENT, D. STAPLES.

I believe I now know who the children of Thomas and Sallie Jewell were, who were living in 1833. Catherine (Jewell) Jennings' headstone indicated she was born in 1813, which would have made her 20 years old at the time of her father's death. Because she was the only child who required a guardian, I am assuming Jesse, Sarah (wife of William Woodson), and James were all older than Catherine.

What has me a little puzzled is that William Woodson was named as a legatee but not his wife, Sarah (Jewell) Woodson yet Terisha (Jewell) Burley and her husband, Uriah, are both listed as legatees. Does this mean Sarah died prior to her father?

[1] Thomas was listed in the 1810 census as 26-44 years of age; the same age range in 1820; and in 1830 was listed as 60-69 years. I'm assuming the 1830 census was an outlier with 1761-1770 as the range of birth years and that he was born between 1776-1784, the overlap in possible years of birth in the 1810 and 1820 census; or at least that is my current working theory.

[2] Many public trees indicate Sallie's maiden name was Guilford but I have seen no proof that is the case.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Lillian Pearl (Wells) Porter Porter Walker (1889-1990)

As I was working on some new DNA matches, I got to "meet" Lillian Pearl Wells all over again. She been in my tree for years as the wife of of Joseph "Jesse" Isaac Porter, without known parents or death information. I knew Jesse and Lillian married sometime before 1930 and he had previously been married to and divorced from Emma Mabel Riggin, daughter of Theodore Augustus Riggin (1840-1910)[1] and Caroline (Vangundy) Pritchett, and my first cousin three times removed.

Because of my new DNA match, I did a lot more research into Lillian and I believe my working theory is correct.

Lillian Pearl Wells was born on 10 April 1889 in Chicago, Illinois, to George Washington Wells[2] and his first wife, Ida Logenia[3] Ewing, daughter of Sylvester Ewing and Mary A. Briggs. George and Ida married on 21 June 1885 in McLean County, Illinois, where Ida grew up. After moving to Chicago, George became a policeman and at least one more child was born to he and Ida -- Arthur Washington Wells, who died on 4 May 1894, the same day he was born. His mother died two days later. At the age of 36, George married Bessie Sackett on 9 September 1894 in Chicago.

George Washington Wells (1858-1920); courtesy of
Michelle (Wells) Ward

Lillian Pearl, who sometimes went by Lily, married Daniel Ethan Porter in 1906 in Monroe County, Illinois. He farmed on rented land in 1910 but by 1920 worked as a pipefitter. Together Lillian and Daniel had five children:
  • Lorene Lillian Porter (1909-1992)
  • Clara Porter (1916-1917)
  • Eunice Porter (1917-1984)
  • Nellie Porter (1919-2009)
  • Nettie Porter (1922-2013)
Sometime before 1927 Daniel Porter was committed to the Alton State Hospital, a hospital for the insane built in 1917. He remained a patient until his death in 1955.

Lillian married Daniel's older brother, Joseph "Jesse" Porter[4] soon after Daniel was committed. They had one son, Robert George Porter in 1927 (died in 1991) and the family was enumerated together in 1930. Joseph was an engineer at a flour mill. This second marriage did not last.

By 1940, Joseph and Lillian divorced. Lillian married Francis Marion Walker, a widower, and lived in Henderson County, Kentucky. Her two youngest children lived with she and Marion.

Francis Marion Walker died in 1948 was interred in Fernwood Cemetery in Henderson, Kentucky, beside his first wife. Lillian Pearl (Wells) Porter Porter Walker died on 4 October 1980 in Henderson County.

I have several DNA matches to other descendants of common shared ancestors James M. Wells and Mary Hearelson through their children: Clementine, Daniel, and George. And these matches are also shared with this new match which allowed me to discover Lillian wasn't "just" the second wife of my cousin's husband, but also an ancestor. But before I sorted all the relationships out, I spend several hours very confused!

Diagram depicting the relationships described in this blog post; created
using Microsoft Powerpoint[5]

[1] Theodore Augustus Riggin was a son of my three times great grandfather, Alfred Riggin (1811-about 1850). I descend from another son, John Wesley Riggin.

[2] George Washington Wells was the youngest son of James M. Wells and Mary Hearelson, my three times great grandparents and parents of Clementine Wells, the second wife of John Wesley Riggin (mentioned above).

[3] I had not known George Washington Wells had been married twice. Ida Logenia Ewing was a new discovery.

[4] Joseph "Jesse" Porter had been married and divorced two times previously. First to my cousin, Emma Mabel Riggin; and second, to Margaret (Bone) Purkhiser, whose first husband worked for the railroad and appeared to leave her in Illinois with two young children. He died in California in 1949.

[5] The correct surname of Lillian's third husband is WALKER, Francis Marion Walker.

I descend from James Wells and Mary Hearelson as follows:
Clementine (Wells) Riggin Collins
Ida Mae (Riggin) Muir
Alice (Muir) Jennings

New Wells/Murphy Family Tree Branch
Squabbling Siblings
The Wells Spinsters
New Wells Family Tree Branch

Monday, September 11, 2017

John Ronald Miller (1915-1952): The Uncle Most of Us Don't Remember

John Ronald Miller, who went by Ronald, was Aunt Ruth's first husband. He died before my younger Lange first cousins and me were born or were old enough to remember. According to Mom, he was born in Britain; never knew who his father was; and was raised by an aunt who had a bit of money but who died of cancer when he was young. As he cared for her in the final stages of her life, he became addicted to the morphine her doctor's prescribed to manage pain. Eventually after a 12-year marriage to Aunt Ruth, he committed suicide.

Not long ago, I looked at the information I had collected about Uncle Ronald (it seems weird to call him that), and realized there were a lot of gaps in the paper trail. So I went digging.

John Ronald Miller (1915-1952*); personal collection

Ronald was born on 16 September 1915 in Grimsby, England, also known as Great Grimsby, a large seaport on the Humber estuary close to where it joins the North Sea west of Leeds. Britain makes birth records available to genealogists and family historians after 100 years. I should be able to find the registration of his birth, but I have not. I am left wondering if John Ronald Miller was his birth name or one assigned to him later.

On 22 March 1930, 14-year-old Ronald boarded the Cunard Line's RMS Antonia along with thirty other boys from the National Children's Home (NCS), which had been established in 1869 by a Methodist minister. By the time Ronald lived at the NCS, the organization operated a number of homes across England, including one in Leeds, which may have been where Ronald lived. There was always pressure on the NCS to find homes for the children in its care so their would be space available for new arrivals and emigration played an important role in achieving that end. Many of the NCS administrators believed the children would have the opportunity for a better future in Canada. Ronald arrived in Halifax on 31 March 1930. He indicated to immigration officials, his foster father was Sidney Rogers of Grimsby and he had been a student in the UK but intended to work on a farm in Canada.

On 27 July 1932 Ronald joined the British Merchant Navy in London. A few days later he signed on to merchant ship Esperance Bay in Southampton. He indicated it was his first ship and previous to that he fished for work.  Ronald served as a deck boy.

Merchant ship Esperance Bay; courtesy of State of Victoria Archive

By 1939 Ronald lived in Montreal and worked as a sales manager. On 6 November he arrived in Burlington, Vermont, by plane. He told immigration officials he intended to reside permanently in the U.S. and his destination was New Orleans where he would visit a friend. Interestingly, the building listed as friend's address is now known as the Maritime Building.

Ronald married Ruth Hedwig Lange on 16 September 1940 in Washington, DC. She was the daughter of Gustav Lange and Wilhelmina Schalin. She was born in Winnipeg in 1916 but had been raised on a farm in Prince George's County, Maryland. At the time of their marriage, Ruth worked in a bakery in Washington. Surpringly, neither Ronald or Ruth were listed in the 1940 census, which was enumerated earlier in the year. A month after their marriage Ronald registered for the Army draft. He was a Canadian citizen, as was Aunt Ruth, and they lived in an apartment in a row house at 1201 C Street, NE.

1201 C Street, NE, Washington, DC; courtesy Google Maps

Ronald worked for the Standard Drug Company, which had been established in 1919 in Richmond by two pharmacists. Stores were later opened throughout Maryland and Virginia and the chain thrived for decades before it was purchased in 1993 by the company now known as CVS. The remainder of the records I have for Ronald are border crossings returning from trips to Canada in 1943 and 1945. He and Ruth continued to live at 1201 C Street, NE, during that time.

Mom said Ronald and Ruth would move around the country frequently so that he could obtain prescriptions for morphine. When a doctor discussed a detoxification clinic, it was time to move. They were in Pelham, New York, when a doctor convinced Ronald to be institutionalized in order to withdrawal from morphine. However, after a few days, he called Ruth and begged for her to get him released. She did after seeing his terrible physical deterioration. According to Mom, Ronald committed suicide in 1952 in Pelham, New York, a few days later. The New York death index for that time period is available and I have found one record that could be Ronald's but have been unable to verify it. If it is for "my" Ronald Miller, he died in 1956 in Poughkeepsie.

Ruth (Lange) and J. Ronald Miller in happier times; personal collection

Ruth married Robert Riffle Meek in a 1960 civil ceremony in Stamford, Connecticut. He was a divorcee with one adult son and worked as a real estate broker. Soon after their marriage they moved to DeLand, Florida, and purchased an apartment complex, which they managed for several years.

I can't help but think after spending several days researching and learning more about Aunt Ruth's first husband that his life began with hardship which continued through much of his childhood. Even though his adult life seemed normal to most casual onlookers, his demon's conquered him in the end.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Altha Alice Queen: Mother of the Largest Family in the District

Altha Alice (Paxton) Queen was my Aunt Katherine's great great grandmother. She was born on 15 September 1807 in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Many public trees indicate her parents were William Paxton and Ruth Ann Sellman, but I have found no source documents which identify her parents. On either 6 February or 2 June 1831 in Washington, DC. They had eight children. Mr. Queen died in 1885 and Mrs. Queen in 1907.

On 4 June 1905 a Washington Times page 2, full-page article and photo spread about Mrs. Queen entitled, "A Queen in Name and a Queen of Mothers" was published.

Page 2 of The Washington Times, 4 June 1905; courtesy of Chronicling America

Washington Woman 98 Years Old Has 153 Living Descendants and Mourns 51 Dead

Mrs. Alice Queen, Mother of Largest Family in the District

Four People Needed to Tabulate Her Many Descendants

Feels Young and Expects to Live Many More Years

In an old-fashioned country home near Tenleytown, surrounded by a splendid growth of flowering rose bushes, nestling between hills sown with sweet-scented clover and timothy, and undisturbed as yet by the rapid growth of the city's streets and buildings, lives Mrs. Alice Queen, ninety-eight years old , the mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother of descendants so numerous and increasing so rapidly that it took four members of her family hours to properly tabulate them. Even now the four express fears that they have overlooked a number of them.

Of children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren, as far as she and her offspring are able to discover, there have been 204. The living of these, of which the oldest is seventy-three, are at least 153.

A Times reporter found this remarkable woman sitting on the wide piazza of her old-fashioned house. It is her custom to spend many hours to spend many hours in this shady corner these warm days quietly enjoying as it were the secret of eternal youth. From her place of vantage she watches over her numerous progeny and descendants, noting carefully their comings and goings, giving advice, always shrewd and to the point, and backed up with the experience of years, giving sympathy those that need it, and giving love to all.

A Mother to Them All

She has been a mother to them all in turn, even down to the fifth generation, and the absolute mistress over their lives. For she is a woman of much force of character and has always been looked up to as the head of the house, her husband having died many years ago. She is familiar with the daily habits of each and every one of her huge family, the clothes they wear, the money they earn and spend. She does not allow her grandsons or her great grandsons to drink, smoke or stay out late at night. Her granddaughters and great granddaughters may remain away from her but a short time without giving an account of themselves.

When The Times reporter called upon her he found her in her usual comfortable seat on the veranda, talking to her grandson, Dorsey Queen; her granddaughters, Mrs. Grigsby and Mrs. Harry, surrounded by a number of her great grandchildren. It was Mrs. Queen who welcomed him to her home first. When she discovered his mission she seemed greatly amused. She took the matter with much more tranquility than the rest of her family.

"Will I let you take my photograph and write me up?" she asked. "Certainly, if you like. There is no harm in a photograph, and if people want to know of me I am quite willing they should. I believe I'm rather old and my family a rather remarkable one."

It was in this remark, as in other things, this wonderful old lady showed the strength of her mind and character. The timidity of the others over what seemed a trying ordeal vanished at once.

"Grandmother thinks she's a little girl again," said her grandson, smiling, "And why not? She is younger and has more sense than any of us to this very day."

Expects to Live Years Longer

"I certainly do feel young," said Mrs. Queen, "and if your readers wish to know how long I will live , just tell them it will be another fifty years, or at least until I hold one of the sixth generation on my knee." And she laughed.

"She will live until that time, too," said the grandson, "and she will treat the sixth generation just as strictly as she treated us. We all depend upon her so much more that we often wonder what will become of us when she is gone."

"Rightly, too," said the grandmother, with a note of scorn in her voice, "because you do not know how to live. It takes the old folks to teach you."

The snow-white head shook slightly as she made this emphatic assertion. She did not say that she thought young people are too much accustomed to think that they know everything under sun, but she left the impression that she spent much time convincing two hundred odd boys and girls that there were many things they did not know. Mrs. Queen looks twenty years younger than she really is. Her hair, which has been white for many years, is growing thin over the temples, and there are scores of wrinkles in her fine old face. Her slate-blue eyes, uncovered by glasses or spectacles, are bright and quick. Little goes on about her escapes her keen glances. Perhaps it is her mouth that betrays her true character more than any other feature. It is a large, kind, humorous mouth, showing, too, much strength of character. She is neither very tall nor very short. A slight sloop, the result of the last few years, it is the only clue to her great age.

Active as a Girl

Mrs. Queen is remarkable in more ways than one. Her mind is as bright as that of any of her descendants; her memory is even better than theirs; and until recently, when, in chasing a runaway granddaughter across the fields, she slipped and fell, she was as active on her feet as any of her grandchildren and never had a day's sickness in her life. She has never used spectacles, and sees as clearly as the best to thread a needle and sew. Suffering from rheumatism now as a result her recent fall she refuses to take what would be the first medicine for her, and defies her children boldly with the statement that "patience is the best curative." Patience she must have had all these years, to be the splendid old lady she is. Meantime, she uses a cane.

"First, of a Second Dozen"

Alice Paxton, afterward Mrs. Queen, was born 15 September 1807 in Emmitsburg, Frederick county, Maryland.

"Ours was a large family," said Mrs. Queen. "But those were the days of large families. I remember a story which was told of an aunt of mine that lived in New England, and reared a large family. Her husband was a lawyer, and when a judge of that circuit stopped at their house for a night's lodging he found my aunt in the garden with a small baby in her arms. Seeing the pretty woman, a flush on her face and graceful as a girl, and wishing to compliment her, the judge congratulated her on her fine baby and by chance said:

"Your first, Madam?"

"The first, yes," my aunt laughed and blushed, and added, "of the second dozen."

When she was only nine years old Mrs. Queen's father and mother moved to the District of Columbia and settled on a farm not far from her present home. She remembers the events of those days almost as well as she does those of the past year. Her father was drafted for the army in the War of 1812, but he was unable to go to the front because his wife and young children demanded all his care. But Mrs. Queen remembers distinctly the march of the United States troops past her father's house on the old Baltimore pike during this war, and how she was thrilled by the sight, and how occasionally a tired soldier would stop to ask for a drink of water.

Her Early Life

She has kept an exact account of everything of importance which has happened in or about Washington ever since those old days, and she can tell perhaps better than anyone now living of country life in the District of Columbia when Washington was in its infancy, and it was thought that Georgetown would always be the great city. The old lady laughed as she told how as a girl she carried her stockings and prunella slippers in a bag almost to the church door on Sundays and then sat herself down, and taking off the coarser homespun brown stockings and heavy shoes, pulled on her finery. Such was the custom of all country belles in those days of muddy roads. She can tell of the quilting and spelling bees and the country parties.

She remembers well the long winter nights when her family and friends sat about the great open fireplace and cracking nuts or told stories while the wind whistled down the chimney and the snow fell about the home that stood in what was then an almost trackless wilderness. Or she can tell the curious inquirer of the long summer days when the young girls rode behind their lovers on horseback, going to picnics or country fairs. She can tell too, of the radical changes which have occurred in Washington and of its interesting early social and political life.

Girls Outlived Boys

While still a young girl Alice Paxton married Electurus Queen, a young farmer living near her home. It was a happy marriage and for years the Queens led a quiet happy life in the country. Eight children were born of the union, four boys and four girls. It is a strange fact that today all of those boys are dead while all of those girls, old women now, are still alive. Mrs. Queen has outlived her husband by twenty years, the one regret she has in her young life. Not that she wishes she were dead for she is a most optimistic soul and expects to live for many a year longer, but she is sorry when she thinks that her husband is not here too.

It was immediately after their last son's death that Mr. Queen died. He had often declared that he would not survive his sons. The four living daughters are Mrs. Emily Burroughs, Mrs. Abne Stauff, Mrs. Sarah Harry, and Mrs. Rosina Barnes. Mrs. Harry is now living with her mother.

Mrs. Queen is not the only member of the family who is long lived. Two of her numerous brothers, both well on toward ninety years of age, are living in Tenleytown today, and still take an active interest in business. They are Thomas and Joseph Paxton. Strange as it may seem, out of Mrs. Queen's two hundred descendants few, if any, have taken to the professions or have entered the army or navy. Nearly all of the men of the family have stuck to farming in Maryland or Virginia. Mrs. Queen spoke as if she had taken little or no interest in the civil war. Largely through her efforts her sons did not enter either of the contending armies, but stayed on the farm. Consequently, she feels no bitterness now, nor did she lose, as so many other mothers in this section of the country, a son or a husband in the war.

Too Much Worry Now

Mrs. Queen was brought up strictly and according to to the ideas of the old Methodist church. She was never allowed to dance or do many of the things which her own daughters and great granddaughters have done. But she was broad-minded enough to see that merely because she had not done certain things those things were not necessarily bad.

Her life is not by any means centered in the past alone. Her mind has kept young with each succeeding generation, and she has a fund of common sense, wit and humor, that is not surpassed by that of any of her grandchildren, clever though they may be. She has no choice between the old days and the new, but thinks that each has its good points. But she does believe that the people of former generations had stronger minds, better habits, and did not grow worldly-wise too soon, as so many young persons do today. In face, she explains her own youthfulness at such an advanced age by the fact that she remained a girl a long time leading a simple and quiet life. She firmly believes that the world moves too rapidly today and that, though she herself is able to keep pace with it, it is entirely too fast for the younger members of the family.

"They worry too much," said Mrs. Queen. "I have worried, too, but always for others, not myself."

A Family Reunion

Notwithstanding her fears for the present generation, it appears that her line will not suffer as the years go by. The rapidity in the increase in the family is certainly keeping pace with the age. Many of the grandsons and granddaughters have large families, and even the great grandsons and great granddaughters are not far behind. In fact, as Mrs. Queen humorously remarked, the babies are being born into the world more quickly than she can count them.

There has never been a reunion of the Queen family, or rather that branch of it of which Mrs. Queen is the progenitor. Perhaps because of the very number of her descendants such an undertaking as rounding them all into the same house has not been attempted. Some of them meet every year, on Christmas or some other holiday. Usually there is talk of a big reunion, but so far nothing has come of it.

"No house would be large enough to hold us all," the old lady remarked, "and when the reunion does occur we will have to hire a hall big enough for all. We are waiting until we can afford it. But it will come in the next fifty years, I am sure, maybe after I have held a child of the sixth generation on my knee."

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Lange Family Farm

Grandma and Grandpa Lange purchased 193-1/2 acres of land from Susie G. Dyson and Frank Dyson, her husband for $3,500. The deed was signed on 16 December 1919. The legal description of the land was as follows:

"...that lot of ground situate, lying and being in Brandywine District, of Prince George's County aforesaid, known as Vineyard Brook's Choice, or by which ever name or names it may be known, and described as follows; that is to say: Beginning for the same at a small Gum tree on the north side of Wilsons Mill Race said tree being the southwest boundary of Mrs. Mary C. Townsend land and running thence with the north side of said Mill Race south forty-six and one-half degrees west ten and four-fifths perches to a large Poplar tree south fifty-one and one-fifth degrees west thirty and one-half perches south sixty-one degrees wet five and two-thirds perches north eighty-six degrees west twenty-one perches south seventy-two degrees west seventeen and one-half degrees west eleven and on-half perches south one and one-half degrees west and one-fifth perches to a Gum tree on south side of said Race then up Mattaponi Branch south eighty-four and one-fourth degrees west eleven and two-fifths perches south sixty-six and one-half degrees west six perches to a Sycamore tree south sixty-two and one-half degrees west five perches north eighty-five and one-half degrees west twenty-eight perches; thence leaving said branch north fifty-two and one-half degrees west thirty and two-fifths perches to Mattaponi Branch and up (note at fourteen and two-thirds perches is large Persimmon tree in the line) said branch north thirty-nine and one-half degrees west fifteen perches north forty-three and one-half degrees west five and one-half perches north thirty-five degrees west eight perches north sixteen degrees west three perches north twenty-three and one-half degrees west four perches north fifteen degrees west and one-half perches north fifty-one degrees west four perches north five and one-half degrees west eleven perches north forty-three and one-half degrees west fourteen perches south seventy-nine degrees west eight perches, north fifty-eight and one-half degrees west five and one-half perches south sixty-one degrees west nine and one-third perches north sixty degrees west twelve and one-half perches north eighty-eight and one-half degrees west five and one-half perches south sixty-eight degrees west nine perches to a Sycamore and Gum tree leaving said Branch north forty and three-fourths degrees west twelve perches north fifty-four and one-half degrees east fifty-one perches to the ninth line Vinyard [sic] and with said line reversely south eighty degrees east twenty-six perches north twenty-five degrees east sixty perches to the first line of "Brook's Lot" and "Widows Trouble" north forty-seven and three fourths degrees east nineteen perches north twenty-three and three-fourths degrees fifteen perches north forty-eight and three-fourths degrees east fifty-two perches (note at twenty perches Gate and Private Road) north sixty-four and one-fourth degrees west nine perches north fifty-one and one-half degrees east twelve perches north sixty-two and one-half degrees east forty-nine perches to the northwest boundary of Mrs. Mary C. Townsend line and then with her lands reversely south seventeen and one-half degrees east fifty-one and four-fifths perches south sixty-two degrees west eleven and nine-twenty-fifths perches to an Ash tree and then down a small branch south twenty-two and one-half degrees east ten perches south six and one-half degrees east sixteen perches south eighteen degrees west six perches south eleven and one-fourth degrees east sixteen perches to the mouth of the Quarter Spring Branch, then south sixty-two perches to a Cedar tree on south side of a ravine south forty-five and one-half degrees east seventy-one and twenty-two-fifths perches to a Walnut tree on the north side of Mattaponi Branch south fifty-eight and three-fourths degrees east five and two-thirds perches to the beginning; containing one hundred and ninety-three and one-half acres more or less according to a survey of same made by W. I. Latimer, Surveyor of Prince George's County in August 1880.

The legal description makes me long for the Cadastral method of land descriptions! You have to wonder if all the gum, sycamore, persimmon, walnut and ash trees are still standing. And I wonder what the history is behind the parcel of land known as "Widows Trouble."

The land passed to Susie G. Dyson through the will of Laura S. Huntt in1913. Laura S. Hunt inherited the land from James Eli Huntt in 1892, who purchased it from Lemuel F. Lusby in 1890. In 1878 the land had been owned by William Holliday Early, a prominent land owner in the district. The community of the same name developed as a small crossroads village at the convergence of an old stage coach road (now Rt. 301) and old Indian Head Road. William H. Early had a store, post office, and blacksmith shop just west of the village. The establishment of the Popes Creek Line of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad in the 1870s brought new development to the area, including a hotel.

Locatioln of Grandma and Grandpa's farm on the 1878 Hopkins map;
courtesy of the Maryland State Archives

In 1929 Grandma and Grandpa Lange sold 10 acres of land to Thomas J. Shumate. The legal description was as follows:

Part of a tract of ground in Brandywine District, Prince George's County, Maryland, it being part of the "Vinyard [sic] Farm." Beginning at a point on the east side of the road leading into the farm at a distance 16 feet from the end of 330 feet from the beginning of the thirty-fifth line of the whole tract, and running along said east side of said road South 1 degree 15' East 660 feet, thence North 88 degrees 45' East 660 feet to a stake near the quarter spring branch, thence North 1 degree 15' West 660 feet to a stake, thence South 88 degrees 45' West 660 feet to the place of beginning, containing ten (10) acres, according to a survey made by Millard Thorne, Surveyor, August 25, 1929.

The same parcel of land was sold back to Grandma and Grandpa Lange by Glenn and Mary P. Efort on 18 December 1951 per the deed and the settlement sheet indicated the purchase price was $5,700 plus $67.85 in settlement fees.

In a life sketch about her parents which appeared in Our Schalin Family, 1770-2003, Mom wrote:

"They bought the farm in Maryland where six more children were born to them. They worked hard cutting pulpwood to pay for the farm and build a new home. They raised tobacco for one year (a big money crop) but because of religious beliefs did not pursue that further. Instead, they started a poultry business and also kept horses, cows and pigs. Gustav began an egg route in Washington, District of Columbia, delivering eggs to some of the U.S. Senators in the Senate Office Building.

Ruth, Arnold, and Walter Lange, c1920, the three children not born on the
farm; personal collection

Minnie's life was busy and she worked hard raising nine children and working side-by-side with Gustav on the farm. They had no electricity or running water. Although there was always time to play with her children -- tag, hide and seek, and ball games, even putting on boxing gloves to spare with one son! She had a gift for story telling. When she worked with the children, cutting and husking corn, fixing the road, hoeing the garden, planting potatoes, bringing in the hay, feeding the chickens, or whatever, she would tell them a story and magically the work was done.
Meal times were the best part of the day, although presenting a real challenge for her. She relied on the big garden and fruit trees to put a meal on the table. These were noisy but cheerful times."
Tribute to his parents carved by their son, Arthur James
Lange; personal collection
Mom was their last child who lived at home, which she did for nearly ten years after graduating from high school. She married in November 1957. Three sons built houses on the farm and raised their families there. Grandma died in 1960 and Grandpa in 1963.
Christmas, 1952; personal collection

Monday, August 21, 2017

Grandpa Lange's Life in Winnipeg and Michigan

We don't know when Grandpa left Essen for Liverpool, or how long he had to stay at a hostel near the docks waiting to board his ship to Canada, but we do know he left England on 12 August 1911 and arrived at Port Huron, Michigan, on the Grand Trunk Railway on 20 August. Assuming 50 to 60 hours for the train ride to Winnipeg, he probably arrived on 22 or 23 August. It's entirely possible he may have been traveling for nearly a month.

The first record I have found for Grandpa in Winnipeg is his and Grandma's Official Certificate of Marriage. Grandpa was a 27 year-old bachelor, who worked as a store keeper, and was a Baptist. His place of birth and parents' name were listed and his father's profession was farming. At the time of his marriage he lived with his maternal uncle, Gustav Ludwig. Grandma was a 21 year-old spinster. (Don't you just love the terminology. Never mind she'd been working since she was 9 years old, no profession was typically listed for women.) She was born in Leduc, Alberta. Her parents' names were also listed.

Gustav and Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange on their wedding day; personal collection

They were married on 9 April 1915 by C. H. Edinger, a Baptist minister, at the home of Grandpa's uncle at 386 Thames Avenue in Winnipeg. The witness to their marriage was Uncle Gustav. Mom always said Grandma and Grandpa met in Winnipeg or Edmonton when Grandma was there with a family for which she worked. After she and the family returned to Alberta, Grandpa sent her a letter, asking her to marry him and enclosed a train ticket. Not knowing what to do, Grandma asked her boss what he thought. He replied, "Minnie, he sent a ticket. He mean's business. Go."

Current photograph of 386 Thames Avenue, Winnipeg, Canada;
courtesy of Google Maps

In order to track the rapidly growing population of the western provinces, the Canadian government ordered special census of the prairie provinces to begin in 1906. These census were in addition to the nationwide census conducted every ten years on the first year of each decade (example 1911). This practice continued until 1956. Because of this special census we know that Gustav and his young family lived at 400 Thames Avenue just a few doors down the street from Uncle Ludwig. He worked as a general laborer. Grandpa's brother, Traugott (known as Fred), had immigrated to Canada and lived with Uncle Gustav and his family. Aunt Ruth was five months old so the census was likely conducted in July.

Grandpa Lange left Winnipeg in February 1917 and traveled by train to Detroit, Michigan. When he crossed the border on 24 February, he hold immigration officials his destination was 1073 Montclair Avenue, the home of his friend, Dan Stroscheim. Grandma undertook the same train trip with her baby daughter and arrived in Detroit on 30 April 1917.  Her destination was 1090 Holcombe Avenue, where Grandpa now lived.

These delightful photographs of Aunt Ruth were taken at studio in Detroit;
personal collection

On 5 June 1917 Grandpa registered for the World War I draft in Sanilac County, Michigan. He worked as a farm hand for Bert E. Mortimer, who coincidently was also the draft registrar for the county. Mom told me many times Grandma and Grandpa worked on a sugar beet farm, saving money to buy their own farm. Grandpa claimed an exemption from the draft because he was married with dependents. His appearance was described as medium height, medium weight, brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Sanilac County township map and land ownership map; courtesy of and, respectively

Uncle Walter was born in December of 1917 and Uncle Arnold was born in October 1919. When he was three weeks old, Gustav and his family were traveling once again to a farm Grandpa bought sight unseen in southern Maryland.


Grandpa Lange's Trip from Essen to Winnipeg
Grandpa Lange's Life in Essen

Monday, August 14, 2017

Grandpa Lange's Trip from Essen to Winnipeg

My mother always said her father, Gustav Lange (1888-1963) immigrated to Canada from Essen, Germany in 1911; and I have his immigration inspection card. However, for years could not find his listing on a passenger manifest.

Immigration inspection card for Gustav Lange; personal collection

But good things happen to stubborn persistent people and I finally found it on 2 July 2017 after beginning my search in late 2012. Grandpa worked in Essen, Germany, before immigrating to Canada. He likely purchased his steerage-class ticket from a White Star Line agent and took a steamer from Amsterdam, Bremen, Hamburg, or Rotterdam across the North Sea to Hull, England. From there he took a train to Liverpool, as did 9 million other emigrants from 1830 to 1930. Passengers were not allowed to board their ship until the day before or the day of sailing. So most spent between one to ten days in a hostel near the docks.

Grandpa boarded the RMS Teutonic on 12 August 1911 and arrived in Quebec on 20 August. After reviewing hundreds of other records of German immigrants whose final destination was Winnipeg, I believe he took the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) in Quebec. The trip to Winnipeg is nearly 50 hours by train today. How long it was in Grandpa's day, I have no idea. As new and different as a sea voyage must have been for a young man born and raised in landlocked western Russia, the train ride would prove equally fascinating, I'm sure.

From Quebec the GTR went to Montreal and then Toronto before crossing the U.S. border at Port Huron, Michigan. At Grand Haven across the state on Lake Michigan, the train cars were loaded onto a car ferry for the 4+-hour trip across the lake to Milwaukee. What a sight that must have been for young Gustav!

Lake Michigan rail car ferry; courtesy of Deep Sea Detectives

From Milwaukee the GTR went to Minneapolis, then Fargo and Grand Forks before making its last stop in the U.S. at Noyes, Minnesota. Another stop across the border at Emerson, Canada, for immigration paperwork and on to Winnipeg.


Grandpa Lange's Life in Essen 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Grandpa Lange's Life in Essen

Gustav Lange (1888-1963), better known to at least his younger grandchildren as "Grandpa Lange," left Porozove in 1906, the year after his father died. I always heard he went to Germany to work, sending money home to his mother as well as saving to immigrate to Canada. I really don't know if he planned to immigrate when he left home. His uncle, Gustav Ludwig, who was his age and had been raised by his sister, Caroline (Ludwig) Lange, my great grandmother, after their mother died in late 1888, immigrated to Winnipeg in 1910. So Grandpa Lange may have decided to join his uncle in Winnipeg after receiving a letter from him describing life in Canada.

Lately I have been re-examining all the records and personal papers I have for Grandpa and realized I never transcribed or translated his German work permit.

Gustav likely made his way from Porozove[1] fifteen kilometers northeast to Rivne, where there was a rail station. We don't know through which cities he had to pass or where he changed trains but eventually he made his way to Essen, in the Ruhr Valley. Essen had been at the center of the industrialization of the German Empire and was home to the Krupp family's vast weapons dynasty. It was also home to steel factories and coal mines.

While in Essen, Grandpa had his photograph taken at Beckmann's photography studio.

Gustav Lange circa 1906-1911; personal collection

His clothing was very typical for a man in the first decade of the 20th century -- a "middle-class men's suit" instead of frock coats of the previous century, a vest and tie or bow tie. The shirts were often pastel in color and the collars were detachable because they required more frequent cleaning. Collars could also be replaced if ruined.

In Essen Grandpa obtained a work permit, which included his place of birth and employer. It appeared a new work permit was required each year. Below is his permit for 1911, the last year he was in Essen.

Grandpa Lange's German work permit; personal collection

Gültig für das Jahr 1911
Valid for the year 1911
No. 686273

Abfiertigungsstelle Essen a. d. R.
Check-out point Essen [initials not translated]
der Deutschen Feldarbeiter-Zentralstelle zu Berlin
The German Field Workers' Center in Berlin

Workers Identity Card
ausgestellt auf Grund des Ministerialrlasses
Issued by the Ministerial
vom 21. Dezember 1907 -- IIb 5675
of 21 December 1907 [remainder not translated]

Vor- und Zuname Gustav Lange
First and Last Name Gustav Lange
aus Samosck
from Samosck
Kries Lutzk Heimatland Russland
District Lutzke Homeland Russia
Arbeitgeber Rh. Westf. Elektrizitatwerk
Employer Rheinish-Westfalisches Electric Plant
Place of Work Essen
Kreis, Provinz
Bundesstaat Essen Ruhr Rheinland
District, County
[not translated] Essen, Ruhr, Rhineland

Diese Legitimationkarte ist bei polizeilichen An- und Abmeldungen und bei jedem Weschsel der Arbeitsstelle vorzulegen.
This card is to be presented in the case of police log-in / log-out (?) and every change of the working place.

Die Polizeiverwaltung
The Police

The Rheinish-Westfälisches Elektrizitätwerk was founded in 1898 in Essen. The company's first power station began operating in 1900. The local municipalities owned the majority of the company's stock shares.

The RWE power station in Essen, circa 1905; courtesy of RWE

I don't know where Grandpa lived while in Essen or how he spent his leisure time, but at the turn of the century, Germany's economy was the most dynamic in Europe. The years from 1895 to 1907 witnessed a doubling of the number of workers engaged in machine building, from slightly more than a half a million to well over a million. People continued to migrate from eastern provinces to the growing and multiplying factories in Berlin and the Ruhr Valley. Health insurance was provided to German workers in 1883 and the Workers Protection Act of 1891 banned work on Sundays and limited the work day to 11 hours. So Grandpa Lange had some leisure time to spend. Was he a member of band, playing his trumpet?

The Lange family had converted from Lutheran to German Baptist by the time Grandpa left home. Where was his church and where did he live? Surprisingly, according to an article by John S. Conway and Kyle Jantzen, "German Baptists were among those small groups of free churches which had to struggle throughout the 19th century to gain a foothold in Germany against the intolerant pressures of the established Lutheran church. By the 20th century they were conditionally recognized but remained on the edges of society. They sought to encourage the ideal life of true believers, separated from the rest of sinful society and politics. Hence, abstention from all worldly associations was coupled with the demand for freedom from all state interference in church life." Those beliefs seem noble to me but somewhat impractical to live by for a working-class factory worker like Grandpa. As an alien worker in Germany, his life interacted with the state on a regular basis.

Did he pay attention to politics as do some of his grandchildren today? Mom remembered he closely monitored the diplomatic maneuvers by European countries prior to World War II. At the time Grandpa lived in Essen, the empire's authoritarian political system was marked by paralysis. Encyclopedia Britannica described the political situation as:

"With each election, the increasingly urban electorate returned Social Democrats in growing numbers. By 1890 the Social Democrats (who had adopted a Marxist program of revolution at their Erfurt congress in 1891) received more votes than any other party. By 1912 they had more voters supporting them than the next two largest parties combined...Many contemporary observers thought that a major crisis was looming between the recalcitrant elites and the increasing number of Germans who desired political emancipation..."

Some time in the summer of 1911, Gustav traveled to Liverpool, England, where he boarded the White Star Line's RMS Teutonic on 12 August, and immigrated to Canada.

[1] Porozove is located in the Rivne raion of the Rivne oblast, Ukraine. At the time Gustav Lange lived there it was part of the Russian Empire. After the Polish-Soviet War in 1920-21, it became part of Poland. After World War II, part of Ukraine.

Another Ludwig Breakthrough: Finding Uncle Gustav