Friday, August 30, 2013

The Frustrations of Specificity...Looking for Details

One of the wonderful relatives I've met on is my third cousin once removed. My great great grandmother and her great grand aunt is Clementine Wells. The Wells family has been tough to track down. We can find out a lot of information about people all around the family, but very little specifically about the Wells. One of my recent book acquisitions provides a great example.

The Troy, Illinois History and Families, published in 2003 by the Troy Historical Society has this to say about the William Collins family:

"William and Mary (Lang) Collins were born and married in Devonshire, England, and came to the United States with their year old son, William in 1850. After settling in Troy, they had three more sons -- James, John and Franklin. James moved to St Louis; John, to St Jacob; and Franklin spent most of his adult life working for local Troy banker, W W Jarvis, and his family as groundskeeper and handyman.

The eldest son, William Collins, worked in the Troy coal mines and married a local girl, Ida McMakin. To this union were born two sons, John Henry and Julius Franklin. Ida died at 29, leaving a 5-year-old and an infant. Needing mother's milk, the baby was sent to nurse with Mrs William Gebauer, who's son Teddy, was the same age. This was a common practice in those days and was called wet nursing.

William later married a widow, Caroline Riggin, who had four adult sons -- Lawrence, John, Bert and Henry. (Note: William's second wife was named Clementine, not Caroline, and Clementine had six children, not four.) In 1917 Mr. Collins was killed in an accident at Donk Brothers mine in Troy."

Here what we know to be true:

Clementine's first husband was John Wesley Riggin. He and Clementine had six children. John died in 1881. Several years later Clementine married William Collins, a widower with two sons. Tragically, William was killed in a 1917 mining accident at Donk Brothers Coal and Coke Company when a slab of slate fell on him, killing him instantly.

Underground hospital at the Donk Brothers mine

Clementine died in 1932; both are buried in the Troy City Cemetery.

Headstone for William and Clementine (Wells) Riggin/Collins

William's son Julius moved to St Louis where he met and married Audrey Wolf. He was killed in action during World War I in Argonne, France. William's other son, John, enlisted in the Navy and served in China, Hawaii, South and Central America. He suffered a slight leg wound in Nicaragua when his unit was putting down an uprising. In 1913 he married Ethel Morriss.

Veteran marker for Julius Franklin Collins

The Collins family biography for the book published by the Troy Historical Society was written by one of John's descendants. My new-found relative and genealogy collaborator and I learned a lot about the Collins family, but nothing about the Wells. So frustrating! But always interesting.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Hurricane Camille

The Library of Virginia has some fabulous photos of the damage Hurricane Camille wrought in Virginia, August 19-20, 1969. Do you have Camille memories?

Route 95 south of Richmond, Virginia. Photo courtesy of The Library of Virginia, Governor's Negative Collection

Near Howardsville in Nelson County, Virginia. Photo courtesy of The Library of Virginia, Governor's Negative Collection

Monday, August 26, 2013

Differing Memories or Family Reunions Can Be Dangerous

My great grandfather, Wilhelm Schalin, had 18 children by two wives. His first wife, Auguste Fabriske, died in childbirth on 12 Feb 1898. My grandmother was four years old. Wilhelm remarried the next year to Louise Kabusch, who was only 18 years old at the time of their marriage. Wilhelm and Louise proceeded to create nine more children over the next 20 years.

My great grandfather, Wilhelm Schalin

My mother remembers her Mom, Wilhelmina Schalin, had a very unpleasant childhood because her step-mother was mean to her. When her father found out, he would take Wilhelmina into the fields with him to keep her away from his second wife. When my grandmother was nine years old, he sent her away to another family where she helped with the chores on the farm. Later she helped women after they had a baby.

My grandmother, Wilhelmina Schalin

The step-mother's youngest son, Milton, remembers his mother's stories. According to Milton, my grandmother was very mean to her young, inexperienced step-mother.

Family reunions sure can be interesting!

What we do know for sure is that Louise sold the farm in 1929 and moved Wilhelm into a small apartment in Leduc, Alberta. He died alone in 1952. She took the proceeds from the farm sale and bought land in the Reed Ranch area east of Olds, Alberta.  Only her children inherited that farm when Louise died in 1970.

We also know that Julia, Wilhelmina's older sister, and Martha, Wilhelmina's younger sister, were sent away from home at an early age to do domestic work in British Columbia.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday's Obituary: A Real Find

9 Sep 2013 Update: I added a scan of the actual newspaper clipping.

Earlier this year, I brought my Dad's genealogy files home.  They were filled with great old documents, but this was something I had been searching for through the online archives of the Troy Weekly Call for months. It was an old clipping of Ida Mae Riggin's obituary. Ida was my great grandmother and died when she was 29 years old.

Mrs. Robert Muir, nee Ida Riggin, died at the home of her mother, Mrs. William Collins, in Troy, Tuesday morning at 3:30 o'clock, after an illness of six months. Mrs. Muir contracted a severe case of the grippe in March which later developed into tuberculosis, causing her death on the day above mentioned. She was well known here having kept house for her brothers the Messrs. Riggins for about four years. If she would have lived until Sunday she would have reached the age of thirty years. She was married in 1902 and of this union were born two children, Henry aged six years and Alice aged three who with the father survive her.

Mr. and Mrs. Muir resided here for about a year after their marriage, then locating in Missouri where they remained for about two years and then to O'Fallon, where they have since resided. About three weeks previous to her death, she expressed a wish to be taken to her mother's home in Troy, and the journey was immediately made. She was a devoted wife and daughter, a kind and loving mother, and a dear friend to all and the sympathy of this community is with the bereft family in their affliction.

Deceased leaves besides her mother, husband and children, five brothers, Orlando Riggin of Chicago, T. A. and Lawrence W. Riggin of this city; H. W. Riggin of Wichita, Kansas.; and J. A. Riggin of Oakland, California, who were all at her bedside on Sunday before the end came. Many friends mourn her demise, as she was a woman that was loved by all and with whom she came in contact with. The funeral which was largely attended took place from the residence of her mother Wednesday afternoon at two o'clock, the remains being then laid to rest in the Troy Cemetery. The floral offerings were many and beautiful showing the high esteem in which this young woman was held.

Ida Mae (Riggin) Muir is buried in the Troy City Cemetery:

Ida Mae (Riggin) Muir's grave marker.
The idea for this post came from Geneabloggers.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Bailey Girls

William Judkins (1880-1955) and Lilly Manson (Bradley) Bailey (1884-1949) had eight children of which three were girls -- Elizabeth Lucille (1912-1971), Sylvia Ruth (1915-2000) and Joanna (1921-2010. According to her brother, Maxwell, Joanna changed her name to Joan Evelyn in a special birth certificate issued by then Secretary of State, Cordell Hull. She was my Aunt Joan.

Elizabeth was her parents' fourth child and first daughter. She was born on the family farm in Saline, Michigan.  Sylvia was born three year later also in Saline.  In 1918 the family moved to Anderson, Indiana, where their father likely attended the Anderson Bible School and Seminary Training School. Anderson was also the headquarters of the Church of God's Missionary Board. William Bailey wanted to become a missionary and go to Africa.

In 1920 they drove to New York, and boarded the Cunard Line's RMS Aquitania. The family arrived in Southampton England on 3 Sep. They traveled by ferry to France and by train to Marseilles, crossing the Mediterranean by boat to Cairo and then onto Africa. The family landed in Mombasa and took a train to the Kenyan highlands where William Bailey began his missionary work in then British East Africa.  Joan was born at the Kijabe Mission Station in 1921.

The parents, Elizabeth, Sylvia, Thomas, Maxwell and Joan traveled back to the U.S. in 1929 via India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Vancouver, arriving in Seattle, Washington, on 6 Nov 1929 aboard the cargo ship S/S Paris Maru. Maxwell said the journey took approximately six months.

Osaka Line's cargo ship S/S Paris Maru 

In 1930 the family was living in Troy Township, Ohio. In 1932, William and Lilly Bailey went to Africa again. Another family was asked to move in with the children, but they soon moved away, leaving Elizabeth in charge of her younger brothers and sisters.  Their parents returned in 1934 and divorced soon after.

Elizabeth married later in life to Ted Clayton Glatfelder and moved to Palmer Alaska in the early 1950s.  She ran an orphanage there and Ted worked as a sanitation engineer at Ft Richardson. In 1971 there was a terrible flood in Palmer, and Evelyn and Ted worked hard for days on end to clean up the debris. 

Matanuska River Flood, Palmer, Alaska, 1971. Photo courtesy of the University of Alaska Anchorage

Elizabeth had high blood pressure and got a nose bleed that wouldn't stop.  She died six days later in Providence Hospital in Anchorage.  She is buried at Valley Memorial Park in Palmer.  Ted later married Kathreen Estelle Gibson. She came to Alaska in the late 1930s, was 29 years older than Ted and lived to be 100 years old.  He was her third husband. He then married Tiodora Rodriguez and died in 1995. He is also buried in Valley Memorial Park.

Sylvia left Troy, Ohio between 1935 and by 1940 was married to Raymond Speake. They lived in Marbury, Maryland, all their adult lives. Raymond worked at a powder factory, which I assume is the nearby Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, Maryland. In the 1940s, it was known as the Naval Powder Factory.  In 1949, Sylvia's mother came to live with them.  She died a few weeks later.  All three are buried in Park Hill Cemetery in Marbury.

Joan attended Strayer Business College before marrying Arnold Richard Lange in 1942. 

Arnold and Joan Evelyn (Bailey) Lange, 1942

They lived in Washington, DC and had a daughter.  Then they moved to Lawrence, Kansas. Arnold worked for the Hercules Powder Company's Sunflower Ordnance Works in Sunflower. Hercules was a major producer of smokeless powder for warfare.

Hercules Power Company's Sunflower Ordnance Works in 1945. Photo courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society.

By 1950 they were back on the East Coast and built a home on Arnold's parents' farm. They had a son the same year. Arnold retired from the Naval Research Laboratory in 1987. By 1990, Arnold and Joan were living in New Oxford, Pennsylvania. Arnold died on Christmas Day 2003 and Joan died on 27 Jul 2010. Both donated their bodies to science.

I wrote this post because I got interested in the family history due to the differences in what the documentation said and family stories. I wrote about that here and here. I wrote about the Baily sons here and will be writing a future post about the parents.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Grandpa's Bands

Gustav Lange with his brass band

Gustav Lange later in life still enjoying band life

I, however, have no musical talent. I'm not sure which of my relatives got the music genes.

The idea for this post came from

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Soldier Boy's Creed

My great grandmother, Clementine Wells Riggin/Collins', step-son served in World War I. Before he went overseas to join the fighting, Julius Franklin Collins wrote "A Soldier Boy's Creed," which was published nationally.

To believe absolutely in my country and her unselfish devotion to the right.

To be confident that those higher up are utilizing every power in their cause.

To realize that the draft is but an urgent call to a higher duty or those found able to serve.

To conduct myself at all times as the trusted representative of a free and great people.

To protect little children and respect all womankind in every thought and action.

To honor my fellow soldier and by loyal to him in every way.

To be a man among men; to shrink from no task assigned to me; and to be in the right place at the right time.

To remember that living nobly for one's country, enduring silently, achieving quietly may equal the supreme sacrifice.

To know that right is might; that truth will win; and that the true God will surely favor and protect those who deserve it and trust in him.

As published in the Troy Call on July 12, 1918

Julius was killed in action on 30 Sep 1918 in Argonne, France during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. He was the first casualty from Troy, Illinois, in World War I.

Collins' veteran's grave marker. His remains are buried in the Troy City Cemetery.

A Trip to Paris

I've written about Edith Mary Madeline Ternes before: here and here. Edith is communicating via voice tapes to a relative named Sofee, who is also interested in researching the Ternes family. They trade information and photos and, as you can see, information about themselves:

What a delightful dream you have of Paris. When I read that I was reminded of Henry Van Dyke's poem, "America for Me." In describing London and Paris about half way through the poem he said, "Oh, London is a man's town, there's power in the air and Paris is a woman's town with flowers in her hair."

Henry Van Dyke. Photo courtesy of

Yes, I went to Paris. It was one of the stops of a 49-day tour of the continent. We visited 7 countries and found them all fascinating. No doubt there have been many changes since that summer of 1954 but I still remember the highlights. It was like walking in a dream through places I never expected to see. I seemed always on the alert for fear I would waken in my bed at home. There were Montmartre, Maxim’s, Folies Bergere, Bois de Bologna, Sainte Chapelle, the Left Bank, Notre Dame Cathedral, the palace of Versailles and the Louvre with its haunting Mona Lisa. These things I remember vividly and would like to see again.

Maybe I had better make another promise to myself. One of our assignments when I was in the eighth grade was to make a promise and write about it. Our teacher was way ahead of her time and a wonderfully imaginative person. She said, "A promise made is a debt unpaid so make a promise to yourself and you will surely keep it." Along with my classmates I very solemnly made twin promises to myself - first that I would be a school teacher and second that I would go to Paris someday. My teacher was right. I did keep my promises to myself. Seven years later I began a teaching career which lasted for 47-1/2 years but it took me 36 years to get to Paris.

Paris Metro -- Ternes Station. Photo courtesy of 

I made it and loved it just as I had expected I would. I stood on the sidewalk in Montmartre and hugged myself I was so delighted to be there. It was on the way back from the Bois de Boulogne that I saw the street sign with Pont de Ternes on it. It is pronounced Tern but spelled Ternes. The people are French. The next day I passed up a luncheon at the Eiffel Tower to walk back toward the Coq Hardee restaurant where we had lunch the day before in hope of finding that sign and taking a picture of it. I did find it. I hunted up a policeman or gendarme and asked him about it. My inexcusable French forced me to write my questions which he answered for me. He told me the area and the street were named for a very old family who lived there. I should have tried to locate someone named Ternes in the phone book or through the gendarmes. When I came home I learned from a cousin that some researcher had found out that one of the Ternes men, who fought in the German army during the Franco Prussian War, fell in love with a French girl, married her and settled down in France. You see there is some romance in our history.

Avenue des Ternes, Paris, France. Image courtesy of

In a later tape:

I think I am on the trail of something now. Louise, my cleaning lady, has a brother living in a suburb of Paris and she has written asking him to try and get me the pages of the Paris telephone book with the name Ternes on it. If I get them I shall try to communicate with some of them and see if they know where their family began. My French is inadequate but I am sure someone will help me out. How is your  French? Maybe you would like to write too.

And still later...

Louise just called and gave me three addresses for people who are named Ternes and live in Paris. One is a corsetier, one a furniture mover and one an automobile dealer I think.

And, again in a later tape...

Louise called and gave me four Ternes businesses listed in the Paris telephone book. One is Ternes Immobiliers or furniture movers at 1 Rue Ne'va in the 8th district. Ternes Tapis Maquettes (Textiles) 4 Rue Ville Bois 17th District Ternes neg a cious cions d'automobile 71 Boulevard Gouvion St Cyr; 7th District and Les Ternes Corsetts at 37 Avenue McMahon 17th District. I think I will try a little strategy on them all. I will send them pictures of their name on the street signs of Dearborn and possibly one of the large grave marker in the cemetery. This may arouse a little curiosity in them and they may respond.

It was obviously much harder to research your genealogy without the Internet!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday's Obituary: Kathreen Estelle (Gibson) Hecker/Huntley/Glatfelder

Kathreen Estelle Gibson on the day of her first marriage to William Earl Hecker

Kathreen Estelle (Gibson) Hecker/Huntley/Glatfelder (1893-1983) -- Kathreen Estelle was born June 28, 1893 in Owosso, Michigan. When Kathreen was 14 years old her father, Elbert W. Gibson, a teacher, was drowned attempting to save the life of one of his students who had fallen through river ice. In his brave attempt to rescue his young student from drowning, he was awarded  the Carnegie Medal of Honor posthumously for his bravery.

The Carnegie Medal of Honor provided a monthly stipend of $10.00 for each of his children until they reached the age of 18.

With this money, Kathreen's mother, Elisa Gibson, took her five children (the youngest being six months old), traveled with her brother to the grassy prairies of Alberta, Canada, near the city of Lethbridge, and there settled on her own homestead and built a home for her young family. Kathreen spent her teenage years in Alberta.

Kathreen married Earl Hecker there in 1914. They had six children; June born in Canada, William and Ferne born in North Dakota, Alice in Washington, Barbara and Beverly Joyce in Oregon.

The family moved to Alaska in 1938 where they made their home on a farm here in the Matanuska Valley. Kathreen lost her husband, Earl, in 1947 and eventually married Charles O. Huntley, who died in 1969. She later married Ted Glatfelder*, who has been with her through these last years.

Kathreen has always been active and healthy; she has always enjoyed and loved her family and her many friends. She has been an active member of the Palmer Church of God for many years. She loved to travel and has many family and friends in many places. She leaves her husband, Ted, a sister, Marion Alene Peterson of Wadsworth, Nevada, 6 children, 18 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren, all living.

The idea for this post came from
*Kathreen's third husband, Ted Glatfelder, was 29 years younger than Kathreen. He cared for her until she died. She was 100 years old at the time of her death and is buried in the Palmer Pioneer Cemetery in Palmer, Alaska.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Elusive Henry "Jack" Muir

Henry Muir is my grandmother's older brother.  I knew next to nothing about him except from my grandmother's stories and what Dad had in his family tree computer program, which included:
  • The names of Henry's parents, his father's birth year, and his mother's death year
  • Henry's birth date
  • The first names of Henry's four wives
  • The names of his children and birth year estimates
Dad wasn't as fussed about sources and citations as I am.  So I really didn't know how much of the information was correct. My grandmother's stories included two that are proving relevant:
  1. Henry didn't get along with his step-mother, they got into a fight, and he hit her so hard he thought he'd killed her. So he fled.  My grandmother didn't hear from him again for years and thought he started going by "Jack."
  2. Her father was an agitator for the union and moved a lot.  Mining companies would ban him and sometimes even chase him out of town with guns.
They sounded a bit fantastical to me when I was younger, but now I'm starting to believe.

Several months ago, I started searching and found Henry in the 1910 census. He was living with his father, Robert, and younger sister, Alice, on Third North Street in O'Fallon, Illinois. His mother died the year before. I learned from that census he was born in Missouri and his father was a coal miner, which I already knew.  I also discovered Henry's paternal grandmother and her youngest daughter, Henry's Aunt Janie, were living next door. His father and grandmother rented their homes.

A coal mine in O'Fallon, Illinois, circa 1910

That was where the trail ended. I couldn't find Henry or his father in the 1920, 1930 or 1940 census and didn't even know in which states to look. I was able to find my grandmother in the 1920 census.  She was living with her paternal grandmother, who now owned a home in Nineveh, Missouri. 

Through I connected with a relative who was related to Henry's paternal grandmother, Margaret Semple Muir.  She discovered a reference on USGenWeb Archive site to a marriage license for Henry Jack Muir and Armitar Marie Alleman on 24 Sep 1930 in Acadia Parish, Louisiana. "Armitar" was enough like Armita, which is the name I had for his second wife.  And "Henry Jack" confirmed that he had added Jack to his name somewhere along the way.

With Louisiana as a place to start and "Jack" as a different first name possibility, I started looking through the census records again. I found "Jack and Armedi Muir" in the 1930 census in Millerville, Louisiana, an unicorporated place in East Baton Rouge Parish. They rented their home for $30 a month and Jack said he was an electrician. He fudged the fact that this wasn't his first marriage. I wonder if Armita ever knew he'd been married before and had a daughter.

Rayne, Louisiana, in Acadia Parish. Armita was born in Rayne in 1907. Photo courtesy "Images of America: Rayne"

I started hanging out on the Alleman and Muir surname message boards on There were at least three grandchildren looking for information about Henry or Armita. They didn't know too much but knew different things than I did so I was able to learn a little more about Henry's six children by Armita and who some of them married.

Then Pete and I went to visit my parents. I came home with all of my Dad's genealogical files and papers. It turns out he had his grandfather, Robert Muir's important papers -- his birth certificate from Scotland, his Social Security card, his West Virginia Coal Miner's Certificate, and a typed page from a probate administrator that included the final distribution of Robert Muir's estate. Henry was listed so I assumed by 1956 he was back in touch with his family. From those papers I also learned that Robert Muir worked in McDowell County, West Virginia. This wasn't immediately helpful but proved to be so later on.

Robert Muir's Coal Miner's Certificate

I put a project up for bid on to hire a professional genealogist to fill in the gaps about Henry. We got off to a rocky start but we're on the right track now. Just after posting the details about my project another member left two comments on my Henry Muir page:
  1. He found Henry and Armita in the 1940 census They were listed as "Jack and Armita Meier" and had four children.  The names of those children matched the middle four children I had. In 1940 they were living in Rayne, Louisiana, where Armita was born, renting a home. Jack said he was making $550 a month as a truck driver. The 1940 census also asked where a family lived in 1935. Henry and Armita were in Los Angeles at that time. It also asked the ages of the children and in what state they were born. A daughter was four years old and had been born in Louisiana so I surmise they returned to that state in 1936.
  2. He found his obituary in the Times-Picayune. So now I knew that Jack died on 24 May 1986. His wife, the former Eppie Sevan had predeceased him. Eppie was the name I had for the third wife.  I still don't know if Sevan is a maiden name or if she had been married before.
Henry "Jack" Muir Obituary

Now that I had a death date for Henry and better birth year estimates for his children from the 1940 census, I started getting hints from and learned:
    • Richard Marvin Muir died on 13 Sep 1939 at nine years of age in Acadia Parish. I also now have the death certificate number, which is why he wasn't listed on the 1940 census.
    • Alexander "Sandy" Muir died on 21 Aug 1998 in Port Barre, Louisiana
    • Henry James Muir, Jr. died on 24 Aug 2000 in Pearl River, Louisiana
    • Barbara Jean Muir was living at 2204 Kenilworth Drive in Saint Bernard, Louisiana in 1993
    Stuck again. Nothing for the third wife, Eppie Sevan, and still no last names for his first or fourth wives.  Last night, however, I searching for Muirs in McDowell County, West Virginia, where Henry's father lived from at least 1936 through 1942. I found a possibility for his oldest daughter, Inez, by his first wife Mary on, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' genealogy website. It was from the West Virginia Marriages, 1853-1970 record set. They also included a link to, the West Virginia Division of Culture's website. On that site was an image of the marriage record. It provided the names, birth dates, places of birth, residences, names of the bride and groom's parents, and marriage date and location. I learned Inez was born in 1923, five years before my father thought. She was 15 when she married. And her parents' names were "Henry and Mary Muir."

    Once I had Inez's birth date, went into action and started providing new hints, including an Ohio death record.  She died on 22 Aug 2002 in Columbus, Ohio. She was married and her last name was now Moore so she married at least twice. If Inez was born in Buchanan County, Virginia, perhaps Henry and Mary, her parents were married there.  No luck. So I went back to McDowell County and found a record of that marriage. 

    Marriage record for Henry Muir and Mary Canterbury

    Henry married Mary Canterbury in 1921 when he was 19 years old. Since McDowell County was being so good to me, I combed the birth, marriage and death records for more Muirs. I discovered a record of Henry's daughter by Armita, Barbara Jean Muir. She married Isaac Junior Conrad in Sutton, West Virginia on 15 Jan 1953 when she was 17 years old. Dad believes she died in Lousiana in 1999, but I've yet to find a record of it.

    I also learned Henry's half-brother, Robert, died in McDowell County on 22 Feb 1959 of liver failure due to cirrhosis.  He is buried in McDowell County, West Virginia.

    Iaeger Memorial Cemetery, Roderfield, West Virginia

    So many from this branch of the family were coal miners, including Henry's father and grandfather, James Muir, who immigrated from Scotland, Pete and I are now planning a long weekend trip to West Virginia. We'll follow the Coal Heritage Trail and visit local historical societies. Not to be missed is the McDowell County Coal Miner Memorial in Bradshaw, West Virginia, and the Coal Miner's Memorial, in Bartley, which commemorates a tragic mine accident in 1940 when 91 men lost their lives. I've also ordered a used book, "McDowell County, West Virginia, The Nations Coal Bin," from

     McDowell County Coal Miners Memoria. Photo courtesy of "Legendary Locals of McDowell County," by William R. Archer

    This was a long post, but I wanted you to get a flavor for what goes into finding information about your ancestors. It's not always easy and there's not always and interesting story at the end of the project. It's just the satisfaction you get from knowing you're making progress.

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    Wordless Wednesday: Eastern Malleable Iron Company

    Eastern Malleable Iron Company, 1941-1945. Photo courtesy of

    Many of my Froelick relatives worked at Eastern Malleable Iron in Naugatuck, Connecticut.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    The Bailey Boys

    I got interested in Aunt Joan's family when the documentation didn't match the stories Mom remembered about her childhood.  I wrote about those differences here and here. In this post, I'll detail what I've learned about Aunt Joan's five brothers:  George Edgar, Homer Bradley, Paul Orrin, Thomas William, and Maxwell.

    George Edgar and Homer Bradley Bailey were born in Delaware, Ohio in 1905 and 1907, respectively. Sometime before 1910 they moved to Washtenaw County, Michigan, where William Bailey bought a farm. Paul Orrin was born that same year, and Thomas William was born in 1917. In 1918 their father, decided to become a missionary and moved the family to Anderson, Indiana. He likely attended the Bible school and training seminary there.  In 1920, the family traveled by train to New York City and boarded a passenger liner for Southampton, England, on their way to British East Africa, and what is now Kenya.  Most of the family lived in Kenya until 1929. However, the three older boys returned to the U.S. earlier.

    In 1924 George traveled back to England and boarded the White Star Line's RMS Majestic. He arrived in New York City on 24 Jun 1924 and went on to Anderson, Indiana.  According to Homer's journal, his parents had given George the name of a family with which he could stay until he got organized. When he knocked on the door, their maid, appalled at his state of attire and cleanliness, told him to go away. From then on George was on his own and remained aloof from the rest of the family his entire life. He lived in many western states, married at least twice, and had at least six children. In the early 1950s, George and his wife, Lillian (Krull) opened the Rancho hotel in Bakersfield, California. George died on 1 May 1979, but Lillian operated the motel for another 28 years.   One of his sons went on to become a very successful real estate developer.

    Rancho Motel, Bakersfield, California.

    Homer Bradley and his brother, Paul Orrin, remained in Kenya until 1927 when they, too, returned to the U.S. to attend the Bible school and training seminary in Anderson, Indiana.  Homer married Vivian Opal Lewis, the daughter of a Michigan preacher. They lived in several states during the Depression where he was also a minister. In 1933 their family returned to Kenya, where Homer was a missionary until 1948 or 1949.  They had six children, all of which were born in Kenya except two. Homer died 18 Oct 1978 in Denton, Texas.

    Paul Orrin married Lydia Lois Tilton in 1931 and they four children.  Paul taught at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.  In June of 1952, he was lost control of his car on a rain-slicked road and was hit head on by a large truck. He was killed instantly.

    Thomas William and Maxell Bailey returned to the U.S. from Kenya in 1929, traveling through India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Vancouver, and Seattle, mostly aboard cargo ships. I've not been able to discover much about Thomas, except that in 1930, he was living with his parents and younger siblings in Troy, Ohio. When his parents returned to Kenya in 1932, they asked another family to move in with their children and take care of them while the parents were away. Thomas married one the daughters. Soon after, he, his new wife her the family moved away, leaving Elizabeth, the oldest sister in charge of her younger siblings. She was 20 at the time. Thomas died on 10 May 1986 in Hotchkiss, Colorado.

    Osaka Line's cargo ship Paris Maru; the Bailey family traveled from Yokohama to Seattle on this ship in 1929

    Maxwell's father registered his birth and forgot to include the middle name his mother had intended to give him. He married Lois Shaw, perhaps twice, and had four children.  He was a school teacher and taught in several states. He died on 11 Mar 2004.

    Monday, August 12, 2013

    The Zirkle Mill

    Pete and I are traveling today so I'm going to get a little help from Wikipedia in telling you about the history of the Zirkle Mill, which I first wrote about discovering in this post.

    In 1749, Thomas Lord Fairfax issued a land grant for 224 acres to George Brock. Brock sold this land in 1757 to Andrew Zirkle, who had arrived in the area in 1755 with four brothers, two sisters and his mother. Shortly thereafter, Andrew and his brothers built the mill.

    Lord Thomas Fairfax

    While the exact date of the construction of the mill remains a mystery, there is a variety of evidence that shows it was built and in operation by 1781.

    The eminent American historian George Bancroft writes of contributions made by citizens to relieve "the poor of Boston" during the hardships caused by the blockading of the harbor after the Boston Tea Party. Bancroft specifically mentions contributions made by settlers in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, citing 132 barrels of flour being brought into Winchester. The Boston Tea Party occurred in December of 1773 and with the passage of the Intolerable Acts which contained the Boston Port Bill, the harbor was ordered closed June 1, 1774.

    In "A History of Shenandoah County", written by Shenandoah Valley historian John W. Wayland, these contributions are cited and Wayland gives his interpretation of Bancroft's writings. It is family tradition that the Zirkle Mill was one of the sources for this flour. This claim is given further credence by the Shenandoah County Publick Claims which show that in 1781 Andrew Zirkle contributed six barrels of flour to the Continental Army.

    A History of Shenandoah County Virginia by John Wayland

    In 1817, Andrew directed that the executor of his will sell the mill and distribute the proceeds among his descendants. The mill was subsequently sold to George Mowrey who was apparently his miller at the time. Mowery was unable to hold onto the mill and it passed through a number of owners until it was purchased by Peter Myers who lived just outside of Forestville in 1853.

    War had once again come to the valley as the north and south faced off against each other in the Civil War. After driving Confederate General Jubal Early from the field at the Battle of Fishersville, Union General Phillip Sheridan pursued him as far south as Staunton, Virginia. There he stopped as he feared Confederate Troops from the Richmond area might move to his rear and trap his army between two forces.

    General Sheridan was then ordered by General Ulysses S. Grant to burn "the breadbasket of the Confederacy." Sheridan then retreated north towards Winchester, Union troops rode the width of the valley setting fields, barns and mills ablaze.

    At the Zirkle Mill, the miller Samuel Hockman climbed the hill facing the mill. In the distance he could see the mill at nearby Moore's Store, Harpinetown and the Myers farm being set ablaze. He ran and got a Union Flag, climbed onto the roof of the mill and hung it there.

    He ran to meet the Union Cavalry officers in the road. The flag and his pleadings convinced them of his sincerity and the troops were ordered to leave the mill alone. It was the only mill on Holman's creek to survive that day. The General in charge of the Union Calvary in this area was none other that George Armstrong Custer.

    George Armstrong Custer (right) during the Civil War with friend and captured Confederate officer, J.B. Washington.

    Joseph Andrick purchased the mill in 1867 and operated it until his death in 1893. His sons Casper and Charles ran the mill for a number of years and upgraded the mill by installing roller milling equipment. Much of this equipment is still in the mill today.

    After the Andrick brothers sold the mill in 1906 it again passed through a number of owners hands each trying his hand at the milling trade. Finally, in the late 1940's, no longer able to compete with modernized factories the mill finally ceased operations after 180 years.

    The mill sat neglected for many years until 1980 it was bought by a North Carolina carpenter named Glen Hofecker who restored it to working order. It was during this time that the mill was added to the Virginia Historic Landmark Register in 1992 and then placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

    Zirkle Mill, Shenandoah County, Virginia

    Hofecker sold the mill at auction in 1992 to Gordon D. "Sonny" Bowman, a local orchardist.
    Bowman owned the mill for 11 years and then decided to sell it. He placed it on the open market for a year with no takers. Finally, the Frontier Culture Museum of Staunton, Virginia came calling. They were looking for a mill to be the centerpiece of an exhibit on 1850's life. The Zirkle mill was a close fit to what they had in mind. After publicly announcing the project, enraged local citizens and Zirkle descendants banded together to save the mill and the fight was on.

    Two Zirkle descendants, Rob Andrews and Sherryl Andrews Belinsky formed the Save the Zirkle Mill Foundation and dove headlong into the fight. Along with the Zirkle Mill Foundation and interested citizens, they carried out a yearlong campaign to save the mill. The Frontier Culture Museum is state funded and is restricted by acquisition laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The purchase of the mill property was highly irregular. After taking the case to the State Attorney General's office, the Attorney General issued an opinion stating that the Governor of Virginia must approve the acquisition of the mill by the museum as dictated by state laws.

    In July of 2005, Governor Mark Warner denied the acquisition of the mill by the museum to the great delight of everyone. Mr. Bowman waited a few months and quietly put the mill up for sale again. While it had become famous, there were few takers. Rob Andrews and Sherryl Belinksy made an offer for the mill and on January 5th, 2006 became the owners of the Andrew Zirkle Mill.

    They created the Zirkle Mill Foundation, a non-profit Virginia corporation, whose purpose is to preserve historic structures and places, primarily in Shenandoah County, Virginia, for the education and enjoyment of the public.

    The mill as it looks today. Photos courtesy of the Zirkle Mill Foundation:

    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Sunday's Obituary: Henry "Jack" Muir

    Those of you who have liked my Facebook page, Tangled Roots and Trees, know I am researching my elusive grand uncle, Henry "Jack" Muir. All I knew when I started was his birth date, birth location, and his parents names.  I will post soon about everything I've learned about my grandmother's older brother, but today I'd like to focus on his obituary. Receiving the obituary was almost as mysterious as my grand uncle is proving to be.  A kind person started posting comments on Henry page on my family tree on  One of the comments was a transcription of his obituary. I later signed up for a day pass for the Times-Picayune archive and downloaded the image you see below.

    Obituaries can be good sources of genealogical information, and Henry's obituary did that but also caused me to ask more questions.

    Henry "Jack" Muir's obituary as published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune

    The new information the obituary provided me:
    • Henry's death date
    • Henry's death state
    • Names of Henry's children
    • Last name of Henry's third wife, Eppie
    New questions the obituary has me trying to answer:
    • Who is Ellen Davis? None of the eight known children have Ellen as a first name.
    • Who is Trudy? None of the eight known children have Trudy as a first name.
    • Who are Alex and Carol Swafford? Henry had a son named Alexander, but why, if this is him, would he have Swafford as a last name?
    • Is Sevan Eppie's maiden name or had she been married before ?
    I have since learned from the Muir surname message board on that Henry's youngest daughter, by Eppie, was named Trudy, not Judy as Dad had her listed.

    The idea for this post came from

    Thursday, August 8, 2013

    Being German in Tsarist Russia -- Why They Left

    This post is about the families of Wilhelmina Schalin and Gustav Lange (my maternal grandparents) and why they emigrated from Russia, to Canada and then later to the U.S. It's a chance to put my love of history to good use!

    Both the Schalin and Lange families consistently referred to their nationality as German on official documents.  When they immigrated to Canada, they still spoke German, attended German schools, and practiced their religion in German-speaking churches.  Both families also came from the Volhynian Governorate, which was created by the third partition of Poland in 1975. It was part of the Russian Empire.

    Gustav Lange was born in Lutsk and Wilhelmina Schalin's family lived near Rovna, having moved there some time between 1861 and 1863 from Maliniec, which is now part of Poland. At the time the Schalins lived in Maliniec, it had been Prussian territory since 1720.

    Maliniec is the red dot just under the word Poland

    My assumption is the Schalin family is of Prussian descent and moved into Polish territory newly acquired by Prussia. It was the policy of Prussian leaders to "colonize" acquired lands. But I have not yet been able to track them any farther back in time and place than Maliniec.

    Wilhelm Schalin, my great grandfather was born in Maliniec, moved near Rovna, and then to Alberta, Canada

    So why did they leave their farms in the Volhynia and move nearly 5,000 miles to western Canada from the 1890s up until the eve of the First World War?

    When German families moved to Volhynia, the Tsar of Russia was Alexander II. He was tsar from 1855 until he was assassinated on 13 Mar 1881. He was known as the "Liberator" because he emancipated the serfs in 1861. As a result boyars, the land-owning class, lost their free workforce and many put some of their land up for sale.

    Alexander II in 1870

    This part of Ukraine has been called the breadbasket of Europe for centuries. So I believe my ancestors settled there because good land was available for a price, and many developed prosperous farms.

    Combination house and barn common in German settlements in Volhynia
    Picture courtesy of Lucille Fillenberg Effa

    Alexander III became tsar upon the assassination of his father.  Alexander was the second son and was never supposed to be the ruler of Russia.  His older brother, the Tsarevich Nicholas, died in 1865. Alexandar III bore little resemblance to his father in appearance or outlook. He was a reactionary conservative and undid many of the reforms his father implemented.

     Alexander III in Copenhagen in 1893 with his wife, Maria.  She was originally his older brother's fiancee.

    He believed that the country was to be saved from revolutionary agitation by remaining true to "Russian Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality," the ideology introduced by his grandfather, Tsar Nicholas I. Alexander's political ideal was a nation composed of a single nationality, language, and religion, as well as one form of administration. He attempted to realize this by the institution of mandatory teaching of the Russian language throughout the empire, including his German, Polish, and other non-Russian subjects with the exception of the Finns; the patronization of Eastern Orthodoxy; and the destruction of the remnants of German, Polish, and Swedish institutions in the respective provinces, including the Volhynian Governorate.

    Practicing any other religion was illegal and ministers of other religions were hunted down and imprisoned when they tried to meet with their flocks.  The German schools that educated their children were forced to teach in Russian. Land became more difficult to purchase if you were not Russian.  

    So my Schalin ancestors decided to leave. They traveled with several other families to Leduc, Alberta, Canada.  I described their journey in this post.

    Gustav Lange's father died he was young. He left Lutsk in about 1906 and went to Essen, Germany, to work and save up money for his move to Canada.  He boarded the White Star Line's S/S Teutonic In Liverpool, England, on 12 Aug 1911 and arrived in Quebec City on 20 Aug. He traveled west to Winnipeg where he settled. 

    Gustav Lange as a young man

    Tuesday, August 6, 2013

    My First Rat Hole: Discovering a Historic Mill

    For many years I researched my husband's family as Dad was taking care of the Jennings-Muir and Lange-Schalin families.  I found researching people who came from eastern and central Europe to be a great challenge 12 years ago and didn't get very far.  I'd put the project away and come back a few years later. Each time I did there were more records available online and I'd make a little more progress before hitting another brick wall. Last year I tried again and went down my first research rat hole.  At the end of a week of research I ended up at the Zirkle Mill in Forestville, Virginia, way back in the 1760s! Here's how I started in Austria and ended up 100 miles from where I live today. The trip went through Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and parts of Tennessee.

    Photo courtesy of Karen Gallagher

    My husband's maternal grandmother was Elise Marie Adametz. She was born in 1887 in Wartburg im Mortzal, Styria, Austria. In 1906 Elise immigrated to the U.S. She traveled alone and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, aboard the North German Lloyd Line's S/S Chemitz on 3 May 1906.

    North German Lloyd Line's S/S Chemitz in 1906

    During her arrival processing, the Customs official wrote her first name down as Elsie instead of Elise and she was Elsie forever after. She traveled to Pittsburgh and in 1910 she was working as a servant in the home of Marcus and Rachel Rich on 5621 Northumberland Avenue. Mr. Rich was a manufacturer of men's clothing.  The family had three daughters and two servants.

    5621 Northumberland Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of Google Streetview

    By 1911, Elsie had married Jacob Karl Fishtahler and was living in Detroit. Elsie wrote home often and in 1910 her sister Katherine Mary Adametz decided to join her in America. She arrived in Baltimore aboard the North German Lloyd Line's S/S Rhein on 13 May 1910. In 1922 she married James Pearn Easterly in Detroit.

    James Easterly was from Greene County, Tennessee. My mother-in-law always said Aunt Kate married a "hick from Tennessee." It turns out that "hick" had an interesting family history.  His great grandfather, George Easterly, Jr. was born in 1781 in Forestville, Virginia.  George's grandfather, Conrad Easterly, was born in 1718 in Baden, Germany. So both the Easterly and Adametz families were Germanic! In Germany the last name was spelled "Oesterle."

    Conrad Easterly married Catherine Zirkle in 1746 in Philadelphia. She was a sister of Andrew Zirke, who founded the mill.  This is the Zirkle mill today.  The Zirkle Mill Foundation has been established to raise money to restore it. 

    Zirkle Mill, Forestville, Virginia. Photo courtesy Zirkle Mill Foundation

    I'll tell you more about the history of the mill in a future post.