Tuesday, October 28, 2014

52 Ancestors #45: Wally, John, Teddy, Ed, and the 1917 Ford

When my late father-in-law Edgar J. Wood (1903-1986) got his first camera in 1917, he immediately began photographing his brothers (hubby's uncles) and the rest of the family.

1917 Ford owned by James E. Wood
The brothers were Wallis "Wally" Walter Wood (1905-1957), John Andrew Wood (1908-1980), and Theodore "Teddy" W. Wood (1910-1968). Ed was the oldest, Teddy the youngest.

Their father (James Edgar Wood, 1871-1939) had just gotten a brand-new Ford in 1917, when Ed (then 14 years old) began his lifelong hobby of photography.

At top of this page is an excerpt from Ed's first photo album. The inscription reads: "A few 'bum' photos of our big picnic at Salida Beach. July 4th, 1917. Excuse the mistakes. Some of my first attempts." In the "three Musketeers" photo, Ed is holding the shutter release, John is in the middle (I believe), and Wally is at right. Teddy seems to be camera shy for that one photo.

Ed's father, James, and his mother, Mary Slatter (1869-1925), are shown in the couples photo at top, she in a white hat for motoring to Salida Beach and he in a dark jacket.


Salida Beach is at Mentor-on-the-Lake, today an easy half-hour ride from Cleveland, where the Wood family lived. But in the 1917 Ford, which was getting its first photo session courtesy of Ed, the trip by car surely took a lot longer in those pre-highway days.

Later in the summer of 1917, the family drove from Cleveland to Chicago in their new Ford--and the boys pitched in to keep the car going, as shown in the photo just above. "All help when we have trouble," writes Ed in the album. "Wally pumping up a tire. John feeling casing. Near Waterloo, Indiana, on Chicago trip, 1917."


Photographer Ed liked to caption most of his photos, luckily for his descendants, often adding his own humorous comments. At right, his brother John Andrew Wood in some kind of uniform. "The cop! J.A.W.," writes Ed. Brother Teddy was "The tough egg," according to Ed.

The album is a treasure trove for our genealogical investigations, complete with some new faces and names and places. Thank you, Ed!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

52 Ancestors #44: Edgar J. Wood's Jazz-Era Summer of Playing Jazz in Europe

When my father-in-law Edgar J. Wood (1903-1986) was in college at Tufts, he spent two summers during the 1920s playing his way across the Atlantic as part of an All-American college jazz band. At least two dozen college jazz bands toured Europe each summer, following a similar pattern.

Ed and his band buddies would board an ocean-liner in New York, receive free passage by playing for guests during the trans-Atlantic voyage, and then criss-cross Europe, playing at clubs and resorts that had booked their services. They would cruise back to New York in the same way, trading music for passage.

Above, Ed (second from right) with his college buddies on the S.S. Rotterdam, looking natty in their blazers and bow-ties, neat white trousers, and stylish shoes. Ed is the only one without an instrument, because his grand piano was in the ship's grand salon.

The 1926 summer band consisted of: Leo Lyons, Norm Mertelmeyer, Jimmie Rosselli, Joe Rosselli, Gil Gilbert, Ed Wood, Al Egerter, and Jack Conant.

Ed's scrapbook of this summer jazz tour includes a clipping from the Boston Herald of October 10, 1926. So 88 years ago this month, 23-year-old Ed was interviewed about his most recent jazz-era summer job. He told the interviewer about an unforgettable gig they played in a palace in Venice:
One of the things I remember best was when we played at a costume ball given by Count Volki, Italian minister of finance--he was at the head of the Italian debt commission to the United States, you know--at his castle on the Grand Canal, in honor of Prince Umberto, the Crown Prince. It was attended by members of the royal family and a host of Italian dukes and counts. It was one of the things that you see only in the movies, unless you are fortunate enough to be a member of the Italian nobility or a jazz musician.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rosa and Berna's Snowy October Wedding Day in 1895

A light snow fell over Rhode Island on October 21, 1895, the day Rosa Lebowitz and Berna (Banna/Barnhart) Markell were married in Providence.

Now, 119 years later, I'm staring at their marriage certificate, thanks to the advice I was given by members of the FB Rhode Island Genealogy Network. They told me how to obtain this document--and the cost was the princely sum of $2.30.


Rosa said she was 20 (she was actually younger) and Berna said he was 21 (his correct age). His occupation was listed as brush maker, the same occupation he listed on his naturalization papers. Not every detail fits what I know of these ancestors, but there are enough points of agreement (her parents, their birthplaces) for me to conclude that this marriage document is theirs.

Although the couple said they were residents of Providence at the time of their marriage in 1895, Rhode Island was known throughout New England as a Gretna Green.

As this Connecticut newspaper article so eloquently states, couples from nearby states would seek out Rhode Island for "spur-of-the-moment marriages" without the consent of either parent. They "would be man and wife a few minutes after touching Rhode Island soil." Instant marriages continued until late in 1909, when the RI legislature required a five-day wait between license and marriage.

Were my ancestors seeking an instant marriage or were they really living in Providence at the time? The Providence directories for 1895 and years around then weren't arranged alphabetically. No, businesses and residents were listed according to the street where they were located. There was a separate directory listing for businesses ("brush manufacturers," not "brush makers"), but my ancestor was an ordinary worker, not an owner.

I have to be more creative to find Rosa and Berna if they're really in the Providence directory--which I suspect they're not.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

52 Ancestors #43: James Larimer of "Pioneer Stock" and a Democrat

Hubby's 3d great-grand uncle James Larimer, 3d son of Isaac M. Larimer of Pennsylvania, married Asenath Cornwell (1808-1897) in Fairfield county, Ohio (in the 1830s?).

James and another Larimer brother soon bought land in Middlebury, and the families became pioneer farmers in Indiana. James and Asenath had five children: John, James, Nancy, Anderson, and Amos. Later they sold some land to his brother-in-law, Abel E. Work (1815-1898), who married James' sister, Cynthia Hanley Larimer (1814-1882).

James Larimer was tall and known for his strength, which he needed to split rails for farm fences. In fact, he won a local reputation for his speed with an axe.

But James also had a political side: He served as one of Middlebury's delegates to the Democratic convention of Elkhart county in Goshen, Indiana, on May 29, 1840. At left, a snippet from an article in the Goshen Democrat of June, 1840. James's name appears under "Middlebury."

It was a presidential election year, and Martin Van Buren was running for reelection against Whig party nominee William Henry Harrison, an 1812 War hero. Despite the support of loyal Democrats like James Larimer, Van Buren lost the popular vote by a small margin--and lost the Electoral College vote by a wide margin (234 to 60). William Henry Harrison was inaugurated in early 1841, then developed pneumonia and died just weeks later. His vice-president, a former Democrat named John Tyler, succeeded to the Presidency and pushed the "states' rights" view of government.

Back to ancestor James. He died on a cold winter day when his horse stumbled and James was thrown, hitting his head hard. James's grave in Middlebury, Indiana has this inscription:
"Type of Pioneer stock that, for one hundred years, pushed Government, School and Church into the Wilderness."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Watching CNN Roots

I don't miss an episode of Finding Your Roots so when my wonderful Colorado cousin mentioned CNN Roots, sponsored by Ancestry, I clicked to take a look. If you have 10 minutes, I recommend you click to the main site--the link I've highlighted here--and watch the host or anchor of your choice as he or she traces the tree back generations in a brief genealogical adventure.

CNN will broadcast a two-hour CNN Roots special on October 21. But I snuck a peak and watched several of the roughly 10-minute segments today. The Chris Cuomo segment was a lot of fun, partly because of the genealogical mysteries and partly because of the ancestral locations he visited (tiny Italian towns). Plus his family came along, and their delight in walking the streets where ancestors had lived was quite evident.

The Jake Tapper segment is also fascinating, because he dispels family myths. Did one of Jake's ancestors, Englebert Huff, really live beyond 120 years of age? Jake learned that Huff's descendants fought for the British in the American Revolution. But good news: he got to go to Canada to trace that part of his tree, even meeting a distant cousin along the way.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

52 Ancestors #42: John Larimer Haglind, Cousin and "Useful Citizen"

This week's post continues my look at hubby's Larimer family. His 1st cousin 3x removed was John Larimer Haglind (1852-1918), the first son of Eleanor Larimer and Eric Haglind. Born in Elkhart, IN, where many Larimers lived and worked, John and his family moved to Lagrange, IN when he was a teen.


Using Newspaper Archives (accessed through my membership in the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center), I was able to locate dozens of news snippets about this cousin.

During his life, John served in many civic roles, including as superintendent of a municipal water works, clerk of the town of Lagrange, recorder for the adjutant general in Lagrange county, and on and on.

As his obits show, he was also active in the Masons, Odd Fellows, and Knights of Pythias. Plus he found time to play the violin. As the newspaper says, "Mr. Haglind was a good man and a useful citizen and Lagrange sustains a great loss in his demise."

PS John's son, Harry W. Haglind, became a bandleader in the 23d Engineers during WWI and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. This means music runs in the family in the Larimer line as well as the Slatter line.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wishful Wednesday: Where Art Thou, Great-Great-Grandma Rachel Jacobs?


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I wish I could find the death date and final resting place of my great-great-grandma, Rachel Shuham Jacobs.
 Background: Born in Russia (or Eastern Europe) and widowed with two children, Rachel came to New York City in 1886. I found her at 88 Chrystie Street in Manhattan in the 1900 US Census, living with her daughter Tillie Jacobs Mahler and Tillie's family. She doesn't appear in the 1905 New York Census, the 1910 US Census, or the 1915 New York Census (or if she's there, I've been unable to find her--looking for Jacob, Jacobs, or Jacoby, plus looking for her two children). 
According to one of her granddaughters, Rachel died in December, 1916, but so far, I've found no trace of her. I'd like to know more about her and visit her grave. I've checked possibilities at ItalianGen.org and ordered some microfilms from FamilySearch, showing New York City deaths in 1914-16.

Above are snippets from two death certs I viewed on these microfilms today. Neither seems to be MY Rachel, sorry to say. Where art thou, great-great-grandma?

UPDATE: Rechecking my search, Rachel is definitely NOT in the households of either of her two children in 1905. Nor is she with either in 1910. (Of course Joe Jacobs isn't with his wife Eva in 1910, when she and 4 children were living in Brooklyn...she said she was married, and he must have been at work.)

BUT: In the 1905 NY Census I was sad to find a Rachel Jacobs, age 60 (a little younger than I expected), from Austria (not Russia?) in the Manhattan State Hospital on Ward's Island. The area for "where inmate lived before coming to the institution" is left blank for every patient in this hospital. Too bad for me. Even sadder for her.

Is it possible Rachel was in a hospital or institution for years after 1900? And stayed there until her death? Unfortunately, that would explain why she wasn't with either of her children in any of the NY or US censuses after 1900. Still not giving up!