Showing posts with label #52Ancestors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #52Ancestors. Show all posts

Sunday, April 15, 2018

One Memorable Tax Day in Family History

April 15th was a special day for Theodore Wilson McClure (1834-1927), the eldest son of hubby's great-great-grandpa, Benjamin McClure (1812-1896).

On April 15, 1858, Theodore was married to Louisa Jane Austin (1837-1924), in Wabash county, Indiana. Actually, this was Louisa's second marriage. (What happened to her first husband, John Donalson/Donaldson? They were married on May 17, 1855, but I haven't yet found his death record and of course no divorce record. Maybe a newspaper search will give me clues...)

One hundred years ago today, on April 15, 1918, the Wabash Plan Dealer published a front-page account of Louisa and Theodore's 60th wedding anniversary. The newspaper wrote about the original 1858 ceremony:
"The Rev. Cooper of the M.E. [Methodist] Church was the officiating minister, and conducted the service at 5 o'clock. The wedding feast was one of the bountiful ones, read about more often than seen in present times, and included venison, wild turkeys, and ducks."
By 1918, Theodore and Louisa might well have been paying federal income tax...his occupation was "justice of the peace" according to the Wabash, Indiana city directory. Earlier in his career, he had been a farmer and storekeeper. His 1927 death cert says he was a miller.

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow's #52 Ancestors challenge, I looked up when Tax Day first took place (March 1, 1914)--and noted two other years when new tax deadlines took effect (March 15, 1918 and April 15, 1955). Family history brings American history alive!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Search for Maiden Aunt Dora Leads to New Discovery

For years I tried to identify every single person in the dozens of photos taken at the 1946 wedding of my parents, Harold Burk (1909-1978) and Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981).

However, one tall and elegant lady wasn't familiar. She appeared in all the photos of my father's Mahler family, but neither I nor the Mahler cousins I knew could identify this lady. Then I was lucky enough to hear from another Mahler second cousin interested in genealogy! He immediately recognized this fashionably-dressed lady as a favorite maiden aunt: Dora Lillie Mahler.

Now I'm trying to pinpoint Dora's birth date. Here are her ages as recorded in each Census:

  • 1900 US census: 6 years old
  • 1905 NY census: 11
  • 1910 US census: 15
  • 1915 NY census: 20
  • 1920 US census: 24
  • 1925 NY census: 30
  • 1930 US census: 35
  • 1940 US census: ?? - FOUND! 45 years old 

Where was Dora in 1940? I tried several sources for the 1940 Census, knowing that each site indexes records differently. Tillie was long widowed and Dora was unmarried and had health problems. I'm certain they were sharing an apartment in the Bronx. Well, I haven't yet found the records I expected, but I'll search by location and expect to find them very shortly.**

Meantime, in researching Dora, I did stumble across a surprising discovery:

As this transcription shows, great-grandma Tillie and great-grandpa Meyer Elias Mahler seem to have had a son named Wolf who was born in 1891 and died, sadly, at the age of 3 in 1894. I've just sent notes to two cousins, asking whether they ever heard any family stories about this boy who died so young.

I might not have uncovered this clue to a previously unknown Mahler child if not for my research into Dora's background! (Of course I'm going to send for little Wolf's death cert to learn more.) So the lesson learned is: Keep plugging in the names of key ancestors (such as those in the direct line) because new records are posted and indexed every day.

Honoring Dora, here is the death notice that appeared in the New York Times on June 11, 1950 to announce the funeral of this much-loved maiden aunt:

Mahler, Dora Lillie, devoted daughter of Tillie and late Meyer Mahler, dear sister of Henrietta Burk, David Mahler, Sarah Smith, Morris Mahler, Ida Volk and Mary Markell. Services Sunday 1 pm, Gutterman's, Broadway/66 St. 
My "Maiden Aunt" post is #14 in the 2018 #52Ancestors challenge by Amy Johnson Crow. Thank you to Amy for a fun and rewarding #Genealogy challenge.

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** Unable to find Dora and Tillie in 1940 Census using Ancestry, Family Search, or Heritage Quest's indexes, I used Steve Morse's ED Finder for 1940, which listed 15 Census Enumeration Districts into which the address 1933 Marmion Ave., Bronx, NY would be categorized. Then I clicked through to manually search each page, address by address, until on the 6th ED I tried, I found Tillie and "Dorothy" at their Bronx address (see excerpt above). They were indexed as "Tellie Mehler" and "Dorothy Mehler" in Ancestry. I submitted corrections right away.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Letters Home from My Aunt, the WAAC

My mother's twin sister, Dorothy H. Schwartz (1919-2001), joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps on September 11, 1942. Her top-notch steno and typing skills earned her a spot in a cracker-jack admin company that supported Bomber Command. She became Sgt. Schwartz, honed her leadership skills, and won a Bronze Star in 1945.
Sgt. Schwartz

But Auntie Dorothy (as we always called her) never expected to be away from home for nearly three years. As World War II wore on, she felt pangs of separation from her parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, and many first cousins in the Farkas Family Tree.

Transcribing the wartime letters Dorothy wrote to the tree while in the service (see a sample V-Mail above), I learned that she loved her time stationed near London. She wrote home often about the historic places, beautiful landscape, and opportunities to meet people from other nations.

In fact, her January, 1944 letter written to her sister (living in the Bronx apartment building shown at left) states that celebrating the new year in England was a high point!

Yet Dorothy was acutely aware of what she was missing each month when the Farkas Family Tree gathered for its regular meetings and enjoyed holiday meals together.

Her letters mention being homesick a couple of times. Although family members apparently wrote optimistic letters about the war ending soon, Dorothy's answers indicate her realism, saying she didn't expect a quick end (no specifics, the censors were reading along).

Dorothy also made it clear that she felt remarkably "at home" in London, with its big-city atmosphere, subways, and theater--all familiar from her civilian life as an apartment-dweller in New York City.

This citified "Old Homestead" post is #13 of the 2018 #52Ancestors challenge by Amy Johnson Crow.

NOTE: Most of Dorothy's letters were handwritten, but those written at the end of 1943 and during 1944 were microfilmed and shrunk into the V-Mail format. To transcribe, I first had to photograph them and blow them on my screen, then print the enlargements so I could read them as I typed. Totally worth it! More soon on my plans for a Farkas Family Tree World War II letters booklet.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Researching "Misfortune" Mary Shehen Slatter

My husband's great-grandma, Mary Shehen Slatter (1837-1889), was in and out of London workhouses during the early to mid-1870s. She married John Slatter (1838-1901) in 1859. From 1860-1869, they had six children. But John had no steady work as the years went on. He was out of their lives as Mary and the children bounced in and out of workhouses, trying to stay afloat amid their poverty.

At top, Mary's workhouse discharge on January 17, 1874, indicating she had a bad leg, and was being sent to Newington workhouse. This time, she was without her children. Often, her children were also sent to the workhouse with Mary, to be sure they had meals and shelter.

In 1875, as shown above, Mary was still "destitute" and released from this workhouse "to Poplar" workhouse while her children were kept a couple more days (to be fed) and then discharged to Forest Gate School in the notoriously poor area of Whitechapel, London.

Thanks to my cousin Anna, who visited the London Metropolitan Archives last year, I know that Mary Shehen Slatter was diagnosed with "melancholia" when admitted to Colney Hatch Asylum and, later, sent to Banstead Asylum. The asylum's notes indicate that Mary's real problem was poverty and misfortune. She died in Banstead of tuberculosis.

Yet every one of her children grew up and had a good life. One was taken in by Grandma Slatter at an early age. The others muddled through the school/workhouse system, and then the boys joined the British military as young teens. Both girls came to America, married, and had families of their own.

Thanks to the many Rootstech sessions I attended on how to locate parish chest records, my plan is to flesh out the family's backstory by doing more research in their London parish. For background, see this Family Search wiki discussion of parish chest records, and another Fam Search article here. FindMyPast has some parish chest records here (not for "Misfortune Mary," however).

This is my post #12 in Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge for 2018.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Lucky Me, I Married Him For His Ancestors!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I married my wonderful husband for his ancestors! Lucky me.

Actually, for the first decade of our marriage, I paid absolutely no attention to our families' roots. But once I caught the genealogy bug, it was full speed ahead, starting with the bits and pieces in the family's possession.

As shown in the handwritten note passed down from his Granddaddy Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970), there were clear clues to Irish ancestry on hubby's mother's side of the family. Following up on these and other clues, here's what I learned about his Irish ancestors:

John Shehen and his wife, Mary, from somewhere in Ireland (possibly south) - Hubby's 2d great-grandparents. They were born around 1800 in Ireland but were in London by the 1830s. John and Mary’s daughter, Mary Shehen, married John Slatter in England. Their youngest daughter Mary Slatter grew up, married James Edgar Wood, and became hubby's grandma. [Too many Marys and Johns, don't ya think?]

William Smith and his wife, Jean, were from Limerick – His 5th great-grandparents. Their son Brice Smith was the first Brice in the family and was the first son born to these ancestors in America. There have been several other men named Brice since then, including hubby's Granddaddy.

Robert Larimer and his wife, Mary O’Gallagher, both from the North of Ireland - Hubby's 5th great-grandparents. Robert was shipwrecked while sailing from No. Ireland to America and then served as an indentured servant to work off the cost of his rescue. He finally ran away, married Mary, and settled down to farming. McKibbin and Short cousins from the North of Ireland were known to intermarry with the Larimer branch in America.

Halbert McClure and his wife, Agnes, were born in County Donegal, in the North of Ireland (although the McClure family is originally from Isle of Skye in Scotland) - Hubby’s 5th great-grandparents. This family sailed to Philadelphia as a group and then walked 200 miles to Virginia to buy land for farming in the 1730s.

Every year, I write my grandchildren to share the latest info about their Irish roots. There's always something new to investigate, someone new to discover among these branches of the tree. Lucky me, I married him for his ancestors.

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for the "lucky" prompt in Week 11 of her #52Ancestors series.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Leni Kunstler Farkas, Immigrant Woman in the Land of Dollars

My great-grandma Leni Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938) was the prototypical strong immigrant woman. Just look at her, posing for a photo in the mid-1930s, and you can see her determination.

Until I read Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars, I didn't realize that Leni's strong-willed matriarchal tactics were typical of immigrant women running households in the Lower East Side of New York City.

Leni (Americanized as Lena) married Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) in Hungary. They raised a family of 8 children while he leased land and supervised farming. When Moritz's crops were destroyed by hail in 1899--the one year he failed to buy insurance--he escaped his creditors by sailing on the S. S. Spaarndam to New York City, leaving wife and children behind with her mother.

After a year, Leni sailed alone to New York to be with Moritz. Four of their children joined them a year later, and the remaining four were finally reunited with their family 18 months after that--having been forced to wait for forged documents so the boys could avoid conscription in Hungary.

In America, Leni and Moritz had three more children, making a grand total of 13 mouths to feed. Finding herself in a dollar economy rather than a farming community where barter was common, Leni had to find a new way forward for the family.

Leni was a strict disciplinarian, giving orders, assigning chores, and tolerating no backtalk. She sent the older children out to find work and made sure they went to night school to learn English; the youngest attended P.S. 188 on Lewis and Houston streets. On payday, she demanded the pay packets from all her working children and handed back some nickels for carfare (bus or subway) plus a bite of lunch. The older boys got some carefare but had to walk home many days.

Leni's husband, Moritz, had weak lungs; he found work intermittently as an apple peddler and a presser. As a result, the children's wages were needed to cover household expenses. Still, there were some years when Leni put aside enough cash to vacation by herself in the Catskills for two or three weeks during the stiflingly hot New York City summers!

The family thrived under Leni's control and as the children grew up, married, and had children of their own, all returned to Leni and Moritz's on a regular basis. The children formed the Farkas Family Tree to continue their close-knit relationships. The patriarch and matriarch were honorary members. Every March after Leni and Moritz died, the family tree would hold a moment of silence in their memory--a tradition started by my grandpa Tivador Schwartz, who married Leni and Moritz's oldest daughter.

This post honors my great-grandma as a strong woman, the focus of week 10 in Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors series. And a big thank you to my Cousin B, who began collecting family stories and cranking microfilmed Census records more than 20 years ago! She saved the memories of her mother's generation and now I'm passing them along to the next generation via my blog and in many other ways.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Where There's a Will, There's a Family Reunion (in Venice)

Last week's #52Ancestors challenge (#9 in the series by Amy Johnson Crow) was "Where there's a will..." Since I was at RootsTech then, I'm catching up on my regular genealogy blogging now. My husband suggested today's post, about the wonderful way that a will turned into a family reunion.

Hubby's granddaddy, Brice Larimer McCLURE, was born on Dec. 29, 1878 (in Little Traverse, Michigan) and died on Dec. 15, 1970 (in Cleveland, Ohio). He passed away just shy of his 92nd birthday.

Brice's will left his only child, my late mother-in-law, Marian McClure WOOD (1909-1983), a bank account with a modest four-digit balance.

Marian decided to take that money and treat her three children (and spouses) and three grandchildren to a trip to Venice. Her favorite city in the world!

Since the three children were scattered across the country, this trip was both a family reunion and an opportunity to experience Venice together, paid for by Brice's legacy.

Marian and her husband, Edgar James WOOD (1903-1986) were also big fans of trans-Atlantic cruises. The photo above is one of many cruise photos that Marian and Ed took during their yearly travels to Europe after he retired.

For the reunion trip, they booked passage on the S.S. France, Cabin P252, from New York to Southampton. (Ed was a prodigious diarist, writing a few lines every day for more than 30 years--that's how I know who/what/when/where.)

Ed and Marian and their children arrived in Venice starting on September 6, 1972, and did some sightseeing together for a week. Afterward, everyone scattered to visit other European destinations on their own, their flights home also paid for by Brice's legacy.

This year, I'm creating a family memory booklet with photos from that delightful Venice trip and comments from hubby, his siblings, and the youngsters who played with pigeons in Saint Marks Square (now grown with children of their own). That's one of the many ways* I'm helping to keep the family's history alive for future generations to enjoy!

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*For more ideas, please check out my genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available in paperback or Kindle.

Friday, February 23, 2018

52 Ancestors #8: Did They Ever Think These Would Be Heirlooms?

Over time, so many of the items left to me or given to me by relatives and ancestors have become treasured heirlooms, valued not for financial value but for emotional and sentimental reasons. This week's #52Ancestors challenge by Amy Johnson Crow is a great opportunity to think about accidental heirlooms, not just those intended to be special.

Above, the silver napkin ring awarded by my mother's Farkas Family Tree association to each newborn child, male or female. For years--seriously, years!--one of my aunts tried to get the tree to give a different gift to baby boys (like her son, my 1st cousin R). She was voted down every time. This napkin ring was an honored gift tradition for decades.
Above, another item that was an heirloom even in its own time. My grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz kept this cut glass bowl close to her heart because, if I got the story straight, it came with the family from Hungary to America in the early 1900s. My mother inherited it and now I'm the lucky custodian, keeping it safe for the next generation.

But other heirlooms were surely not intended or appreciated as such. At right, a velvet banner used by my late father-in-law Edgar James Wood to promote his piano trio during 1950s/60s gigs in Cleveland. Did Ed ever imagine this would be an heirloom in the 21st century? I bet the answer is no.

We can never predict exactly what future generations will consider to be heirlooms. So we need to take good care of all these family items, just in case. And--most important--we need to tell the stories of why these are (or should be) heirlooms, so that information is passed down along with the items themselves.

For more about sharing family history with future generations, please check out my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available in paperback and Kindle.

Monday, February 12, 2018

52 Ancestors #7: Valentine's Day Marriage of Adaline and John

For this week's Valentine's theme in the #52Ancestors Challenge (thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this theme), I consulted my RootsMagic calendar to see what happened in my husband's family on February 14. I found one member of his mother's Steiner family had a special event on that day.

Adaline Elizabeth Steiner (1837?-1912) married John Dome (1824-1902) on Thursday, Feb. 14, 1861. Adaline was a daughter of Jacob S. Steiner (1802?-1860?) and his wife, Elizabeth (1802?-1864), the brick-wall great-great-grandparents of my husband.

Adaline's Valentine's Day wedding was her second marriage. In July of 1857, when she was just 20, she married her first husband, Albert Sigler (1833-1858). Their Ohio marriage record is shown here.

Sadly, Albert died only 6 months later. The next time I found widowed Adaline Elizabeth, she was living with her widowed mother, Elizabeth, in the 1860 Census, as shown at top (occ: Sewing). There are other siblings in the household. And the last person in the household is "Albert J." aged 2.

On Valentine's Day of 1861, Adaline married her second husband, John Dome. By this time, Valentine's Day was a thing. I want to hope they chose the day for romantic reasons!

By the time of the 1870 Census, Adaline and her 2d husband, John Dome, were living in Jasper, MO. At right, an excerpt from that Census. The two children listed at the end, Ora and Laverne, were born to John and Adaline.

Since John and Adaline were married only 9 years earlier, the first three Dome girls listed in this census (Mary, Ida, Eva) can't be Adaline's daughters.

But below these three girls, "Sigler, James A" aged 12 is shown in this same household. That is almost certainly James Albert Sigler, who I believe was born to Adaline two months after her first husband Albert died.

Remember Albert J, the 2-year-old listed in the Steiner household during the 1860 Census? Bet it was Adaline's son from her first marriage. Since she was widowed, where else would she go but back home?

True, I don't have absolute proof that James is their son--his death cert shows "Unknown" for mother's and father's names (excerpt shown here), because a non-family member was the informant.


James Albert was very likely Albert James. Multiple family trees from other researchers show James as the son of Adaline and Albert, but until I see the actual documentation, I can't put the QED on this. Still, the evidence strongly favors that interpretation.

Monday, February 5, 2018

52 Ancestors #6: Train Was the Name--But Why?


This week's #52Ancestors challenge (thank you, Amy Johnson Crow), is "favorite name." My pick is Train. Actually, I'm interested in TWO men named Train. The original Train who caught my eye is Train C. McClure (1843-1934), the third son of Benjamin McClure and Sarah Denning (hubby's 2d great-grandparents). Born in Wabash county, Indiana, Train was my husband's 2d great uncle. Why, I wondered for a long time, was his name "Train," and what did the middle initial stand for?

Train C. McClure served nearly three years in the Civil War. As a teen, he enlisted in Company A, Indiana 89th Infantry Regiment on August 3, 1862 and was mustered out at age 21 on July 19, 1865 at Mobile, Alabama, far from his Indiana home. Two years after his military service, he married Gulia Swain and started a family. They had four children together. After Gulia died, Train remarried to Rebecca Abbott. He outlived all of his siblings and died at the age of 90.

After puzzling over Train's first name and middle initial for a while, I went over the McClure family tree with a finer-tooth comb. Then I discovered that Train's father Benjamin had a younger sister named Jane McClure, who married Train Caldwell on April 5, 1831.

Doesn't it seem reasonable to think that Benjamin named his son Train Caldwell McClure after his brother-in-law, Train Caldwell? In fact, as the 1850 Census at top indicates, the McClure and Caldwell families had a close enough relationship that a Mary A. McClure was living in Posey township, Indiana, with Train, Jane (nee McClure), and their children. Presumably this is one of Jane's relatives. To avoid getting derailed from the Train kinfolk, I haven't yet focused on little Mary McClure, but I will.
In tracking Jane's Train Caldwell, I learned more about his background, as you can see from the excerpt here, part of volume 3 of a book titled History of Northwest Missouri, edited by Walter Williams (1915).

Unfortunately, I don't agree with the book's assertion that Jane McClure, Train's wife, was the daughter of Samuel McClure, who lived in Indiana but was originally from Adams County. I've run into Samuel and the McClure confusion often during my Indiana research, because the Benjamin McClure in hubby's family tree was also from Adams County and later pioneered in Indiana. No connection with Samuel that I can find (yet), and I've actually discussed the possibility with Wabash history experts in the past.

The two Train men have provided endless hours of research and interest. Interestingly, Train was not an uncommon name in Indiana at that time. More research is clearly in my future as I stay on track with my McClure and Caldwell investigations.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

52 Ancestors #5: The Genealogical Bonanza of the 1950 Census

1950 US Census Form
It's hard to believe the bonanza of information waiting for genealogists when the 1950 Census is released in April, 2022. You can download the blank form for yourself here.

And the 1950 Census release is only 50 months away. But if I'm really, really lucky, some of my ancestors were chosen as a "sample" to answer in-depth questions! You'll hope your ancestors were "sampled" too when you realize what's "in the Census" (the title of Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge this week).

One in five people were chosen as a "sample" to answer detailed questions like (1) Where was this person living in 1949 (farm or not, same county/state, same house)? (2) Where were mother and father born (country)? (3) Highest grade of school completed? (4) Individual and household income--separate questions for work income, other income from interest and benefits--number of weeks worked/looking for work? (5) Military service in WWI, WWII, or other time?

And that's just the sample questions. The Census itself required enumerators to list each household with the head first, followed by his wife (I know, I know, it was the 1950s, don't blame me!), and children in age order, followed by non-family members living in the household. And the relationship of non-family members to the head was supposed to be listed too!

Age and state of birth (or country) is listed for each person. Importantly, if age is under one year, month of birth will be listed. Married, divorced, never married, widowed, separated. And wait, there's more. For each person over 14, the enumerator had to describe the kind of work and the industry worked in.

I'm particularly interested in ancestors who died not long after the 1950 Census. For instance, my great aunt Dora Lillie Mahler (1893-1950) died only a couple of months after the Census was taken. Another great aunt, Nellie Block (1878-1950), died that December.

Where were they living? What were they doing? Since NYC has not made 1950 death certs available (a decision being challenged by the wonderful folks at Reclaim the Records), I have only their brief obits for now. As you can see by the details in the 1950 Census, I'll know a LOT more about them in 50 months. Happily, I have a good idea of which Enumeration Districts to check when the Census is released. And I can hardly wait.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

52 Ancestors #4: Inviting GGM Elizabeth Rinehart Steiner to Tea

In this 4th week of Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge, "Invite to Dinner," I want to invite my husband's maternal great-grandma, Elizabeth Rinehart Steiner, to tea.

This matriarch grew up in a pioneering family, and I'd like to ask about her daily life, her dreams, her happiness, her disappointments, her thoughts of the future, and her view of the past.

Elizabeth was born on 18 February 1834 in an area later organized into Ashland County, Ohio. No official record of her birth can be found. She died on 4 November 1905 in Upper Sandusky, Wyandot County, Ohio. The Probate Court there hasn't located her death record. I do have two obits that offer a lot of clues to Elizabeth's life.

Elizabeth married hubby's maternal great-grandpa Edward George Steiner (1839-1880) on 7 August 1851, at age 17, in Crawford County, Ohio. (The obit has the year incorrect--I have the marriage license from 1851, and it indicates Elizabeth needed her father's permission to marry.)

Together, they had 9 children. Their first two children died young, unfortunately. My husband is a grandson of their ninth child, Floyda Mabel Steiner.

There are so many questions to ask GGM, but I'll limit myself to six since this is, after all, tea time:
  1. What was it like growing up as the daughter of a pioneering family in the 1830s? 
  2. Were the family stories true: Rinehart and Steiner were supposedly from Switzerland? Or were they from Germany or Austria or another area?
  3. How did you meet your future husband, and what kind of life did you envision with him?
  4. Is the family story true: that you chose the name Floyda for your youngest child because you were hoping for a boy after five boys in a row?
  5. What did you think of the Suffrage Movement and the idea of women gaining the right to vote?
  6. Of all the changes you witnessed and experienced in your 71 years of life, which most surprised or astonished you, and why?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

52 Ancestors #3: Which Grandparents Lived to Meet Their Grandchildren?

For week 3 of Amy Johnson Crow's latest #52Ancestors challenge, titled "Longevity," I'm looking at which grandparents outlived the other, and who in each couple got to meet their grandchildren.

At right, my maternal grandparents in 1911, the year they married: Hermina Farkas (1886-1964) and Theodore Schwartz (1887-1965). Although Grandma Minnie and Grandpa Teddy both died at the age of 77, Grandpa Teddy had longevity on his side: He passed away just a few days short of his 78th birthday. Minnie and Teddy got to meet all five of their grandchildren.


At left, my paternal grandparents in 1937, at the wedding of their younger daughter. They were Henrietta Mahler (1881-1954) and Isaac Burk (1882-1943). Grandma Yetta died at 72, while Grandpa Isaac died at 61 (well before my time). Isaac never met any of his five grandchildren; the first grandchild was born the year after his death, and named in his honor. Yetta knew all but one of their grandchildren, missing the youngest (named in her honor) by only a year.

At right, my husband's maternal grandparents:
Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970) and Floyda Mabel Steiner (1878-1948). Granddaddy Brice died just shy of his 92nd birthday, while Grandma Floyda died at 70. Brice's longevity meant that he got to meet all three of his grandchildren but not all of his great-grandchildren.
At left, my husband's paternal grandparents: James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) and Mary Slatter (1869-1925). Sadly, Grandma Mary was only 55 when she passed away, and none of her children had yet married. Grandpa James died at 67, having met two of his three grandchildren--who were then tiny tykes.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

52 Ancestors #2: Researching the Slatter Portrait

This week's #52Ancestors challenge is to write about my favorite genealogy portrait.

The portrait at left was passed down in my husband's family for 100 years. It's a studio portrait taken in Toronto, showing a military man in full uniform, holding a baton. Who was he? No caption, but my sister-in-law remembered a name like "Captain E. Slatter."


A second photo, at right, had more clues. On the back was written:

Camp Borden, Ont. 1917
Standing outside my tent
I only put my kilt on for special occasions in camp as it is so dusty with sand blowing all day 


After I posted these photos in 2011, a sharp-eyed reader identified the uniform as that of the 48th Highlanders of Toronto. I emailed the 48th Highlanders Museum in Toronto and heard back from one of the volunteers, who identified the man as Captain John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954), a beloved bandmaster who led the 48th Highlanders band for 50 years.

Now I knew Capt. Slatter was my husband's great uncle, brother to Mary Slatter Wood!

I've done a lot of research into Capt. Slatter's background, even visited Toronto to see the 48th Highlanders museum. But there's always more info out there, and I'm always on the lookout.
Today, I found a lengthy mention of Capt. Slatter in the book, Training for Armageddon: Niagara Camp in the Great War, 1914-1917, by Richard D. Merritt.

This book actually confirms that Capt. Slatter had his own tent at Camp Borden, Ontario--the very tent shown in the captioned photo passed down in the family!

Here's an excerpt:

"On the morning of departure [for WWI training], the university soldiers marched through the streets of Toronto with great fanfare down to the dock, led by their newly formed brass band under the direction of the legendary bandmaster Captain John Slatter . . . Slatter was assigned his own canvas tent where he could relax in the evenings while reviewing the next day's music program and perhaps reminisce on his already remarkable career. . . Slatter was appointed Director of Brass and Bugle bands for Military District #2 at Camp Borden, training 63 army bands and over a thousand buglers until the end of the Great War."