Sunday, August 5, 2012

Military Monday: Sgt. Dorothy Schwartz's WWII Adventures

From April 1943 to August 1945, my aunt Dorothy H. Schwartz was a member of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps serving overseas. She enlisted in Sept 1942 and was a top stenographer, training first with the 16th company, 3d regiment, Fort Des Moines U.S. Army post branch in Ft Des Moines, Iowa. She complained in a letter back home that during the fall of 1942, WAACs had not yet gotten winter uniforms. Des Moines was cold and snowy and yet "we're still in seersuckers."

Within months, she was serving overseas in support of a bombardment unit "somewhere in England," as this April 18, 1944 clipping from the Home News (Bronx, NY) indicates. It describes Sgt. Dorothy Schwartz as "daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Theodore Schwartz, 600 E. 178 St" and mentions that an old-fashioned coal stove furnishes heat for her hut, which looks like corrugated metal to me.

In 1945, Sgt. Schwartz received the Bronze Star Medal for "meritorious service in direct support of operations against the enemy."

During 17 months of bombardment leading up to V-E Day, she took shorthand listening in on the phone as commanders discussed when and where to bomb the enemy.

Her function was vitally important for ensuring that bombers received the correct orders and for coordinating military actions so our Allied troops stayed out of the way of our bombs.

Friday, August 3, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Cousins, Cousins, Cousins!

Climbing my family tree has brought me cousin connections I truly treasure. In chronological order of these cousin discoveries:

I identified and located my mother's 1st cousin Harriet in 2007, having seen only a baby photo of her and knowing that she was somehow related to my maternal grandfather. Luckily, her maiden name was uncommon enough that it popped up in my Census searches! Harriet is the last of the cousins of that generation and we've had several wonderful visits, including the one shown here (2008).

Next, I found my husband's 2d cousin Larry via his posts on surname message boards. Larry had been searching for info about my husband's grandfather for years, and once I stumbled on his messages, I answered. Alas, he'd changed his e-mail and moved since posting!

After a few weeks of trying snail mail and such, I posted my own message in the forum where he'd been most active. He responded the same day, and we began a partnership in research that illuminated several limbs of the shared family tree. He'd done 30 years of research into the Wood line, which he shared! Larry and his lovely wife visited in 2009.

That same year, I attended a talk by Dan Lynch, author of Google Your Family Tree, and tried one of his techniques (try "last name, first" and "first + last" in the "News" search). Instantly, a casual comment on a blog showed up in the results, a comment written by my 1st cousin Ira. I e-mailed him, and within hours, he wrote back. Here I am with my sis, reunited with Ira decades after we'd last been in contact--even though he lived only 70 miles away. If we'd only known!

One day in 2010, I blogged about trying to find descendants of my great-uncle Louis, at whose home my paternal grandfather died.

Six weeks later, I received an e-mail titled, "Another cousin has surfaced." Louis's lovely granddaughter Lois had found me while doing online searches to help her daughter with a genealogy project for school! This photo shows Lois and hubby Mark with my sis and me at a family wedding in 2011.

Lois is very close to Lil, another cousin on my father's side (see photo at left). I never knew a thing about her branch of the family tree and it's been a delight getting to know her.

After attending a talk by Toni McKeen, I followed her expert advice about tracing the spouses of my ancestors' siblings with the goal of uncovering promising leads to pursue. I searched for Anna, who married my great-uncle Sam, and through surname message boards, I found Art, who was looking for a family with Anna's last name. I posted a note for Art and he wrote back. He's related to Anna's family and we consider ourselves "honorary cousins" and partners in genealogy research. Together, we've tracked down more info about Anna's family and had a jolly good time doing it.

But wait, that's not the end of my cousin connections. I was lucky enough to find two 2d cousins on my mother's side because of my research into Anna's past. And I've located a number of 2d cousins from my father's side, who I've enjoyed getting to know via e-mail and Facebook. Are there more cousins in my future? I'm sure there will be! Especially since I've tagged this post with some of the surnames I'm researching :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Remember these 1960s metal things?

Back in 1964, I turned the dial on one of those machines that stamps letters onto these metal things to spell out "Paul & McCartney & Marian forever." Not once, but twice as the photo below shows (both Paul medals are in top row).
In the bottom row is the medal I made in 1986, when hubby and I were visiting Philadelphia. Next to it is the medal I made under the influence of a very brief junior high school crush on a handsome dark-haired lad.

So what are these medals actually called? Wish I knew. That's why today's post is sort-of wordless.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wally and the Columbia Owl, 1959-63

In 1959, hubby Wallis E. Wood was an undergrad at Columbia University's School of General Studies (GS). He wound up being one of the founders of that school's weekly newspaper, the Columbia Owl, which won an award for campus journalism.

When Wally enrolled at GS, there was no newspaper, and a group of students began a mimeographed paper of such low quality that Wally and his classmates, Thomas Simpson and Michael B. Conant, created a parody issue of it. That got the administration's attention, and somehow Simpson received a budget to begin a real GS newspaper. Simpson was editor and Conant managing editor.

In 1960, Wally was features editor and, under the byline "A. Haggard Rider," he wrote a regular Subway Thoughts column (left).

By 1961, Wally was managing editor while Simpson remained editor. As of the end of May, 1961, the paper was so successful that it had expanded to 8 pages.

Simpson's job took him to Chicago, Wally moved up to become the Columbia Owl's editor for 1962. These were exciting times to be on campus, with all kinds of political issues to cover and other news and commentary.

In fact, in 1963, the Columbia Owl won an award for distinguished campus journalism covering international affairs, which Wally accepted at the National College Editors Conference in New York City.

The b/w photo above shows Wally holding the award and receiving a check for the Columbia Owl from Sterling Fisher, Exec Director of the Reader's Digest Foundation, and Ruth Hagy Brod, the conference chair.

By that time, however, Wally was so wrapped up in the newspaper that his academic standing was in peril. He left Columbia and got a reporting job on McGraw-Hill's Electrical Merchandising Week, and Larry S. Stewart became Owl editor.

As a going away present, the newspaper staff gave Wally this stuffed owl, with two inscriptions:

To Wally from his staff, 1961-62

Presented to Wallis E. Wood in recognition of his contributions to the Columbia Owl 1963

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Looking for Margaret Steiner Post

Hubby's g-grandparents (Edward George Steiner and Elizabeth Jane Rinehart Steiner) had 7 living children (not counting the newborn who died and Elveretta, who died in early childhood). I think that Brice Larimer McClure, who married Floyda Steiner, kept this handwritten listing of his wife's family's births and deaths.

This week I'm on the trail of Margaret Steiner Post, b. 28 July 1861 and d. 3 Feb 1913. She's buried in Old Mission Cemetery, Upper Sandusky, Wyandot County, Ohio, in Sec E, lot 29. Right next to her is Elroy D. Post, b. 29 June 1859 and d. 2 July 1929. Many other Steiner relatives are buried in this cemetery, as well, and I even have the deed for Brice Larimer McClure's plot.

Margaret Steiner Post doesn't appear in any of the Ohio death records, so I strongly suspect she died in Knoxville, where she and Elroy lived (according to the 1900 and 1910 Census notes). Just my luck, Tennessee required statewide recording of deaths up until 1912 and from 1914 on, but NOT in 1913.

After a discussion with a research librarian at the Knoxville Public Library, I'm sending info to them to request a lookup of an obit on great-aunt Maggie or, if available, a death cert from Knox county. To hedge my bets, I'm also going to ask the Upper Sandusky library to do an obit lookup. Fingers crossed!**

** UPDATE: Knoxville kindly sent me the above obit for Margaret Steiner Post. Her husband apparently decided to go mainstream by changing his name from Elroy to Edward, and she herself is identified only as MRS Edward D. Post. But this is definitely Great-aunt Maggie. After Maggie died, Elroy remarried a few years later and with his new wife, Merida, had one child--who they named Margaret Post. Hmm.....

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Hubby's Baby Book

My late mom-in-law kept a baby book about her older son, my hubby. It's full of names of relatives and friends to check against other records during my genealogy research.

Two weeks after hubby was born, his parents, Marian Jane McClure Wood and Edgar James Wood, brought him to the home of Marian's parents, Brice Larimer McClure and Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure.

Mom and baby stayed until they were ready to go home to 1851 E. 82nd Street in Cleveland, Ohio. Thanks to the "Cleveland Memory Project" and its online archive of old photos, I know this was a street of small apartment buildings (walkups about 4 floors high, max) and a few big rooming houses (like the one Edgar Wood lived in just prior to his marriage).

On baby's first Christmas, relatives and friends visited: Grandmother and Grandad McClure, Uncle Wallie (Wallis Walter Wood), and Katie & John Creech (friends of Marian's).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Mom's Jewelry Box

Here are two views of a sentimental piece from my mother's jewelry box, a "junk jewelry" bracelet featuring photos of Sis and me, unusual for two reasons.
  1. We twins had bangs (which we probably had only once in our childhood--too difficult to keep 'em trimmed straight and out of our eyes!).
  2. We were wearing matching adorable dresses (a rarity because we were usually in overalls or slacks so we could play without messing up any finery).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Salute to Sisters, with Love

My younger sister with her daughter (now 25ish)
My twin sister with her older daughter (now 30ish)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: 1st grade in Oxford Elem. School, Cleveland

Circa 1942, here's hubby in his first grade class at Oxford Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio.
His mother, Marian Jane McClure Wood, wrote out the names of classmates on the back of the photo. Transcribed, they are:

Top row: R. Kermode, C. Haley, _?_, _?_, Pat Walty, Valois [sp?], Sherman Mills, Wallie (HER SON, MY HUBBY), G. Moses, R. Fister, B. O'Day, Shirley O'Brock, B. Green

Middle row: Harriet Dalson, Sue Kester, Carol Siley, Lou Kester, Clara Jane, Paul Clarage [sp?], Eilleenn.

Bottom row: _?_, Barbara P., Frances Wood, Cora, David Kennard, Barbara Smith, Gail Smith, Martha Lou.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday's Obituary: Who WAS Louisa A. M. Slatter, d. 1895?

She's still a mystery, this Louisa A. M. Slatter who married John Slatter Sr. (hubby's g-grandfather) sometime between 1891 and 1895. 

I've yet to find out when/where John Slatter Sr's first wife died--she was Mary Shehen Slatter, b. 1840 in Marylebone, Middlesex, England. John was born in 1838 in Oxfordshire, England. John & Mary's children moved to Canada and the US, and by the late 1880s, John had moved to Cleveland, where his daughter, Mary, later married James Edgar Wood. I speculate that John (a wallpaper cleaner and hanger) met James Edgar Wood (a builder) in Cleveland and that's how Mary met her husband (and became hubby's grandparents).

But now back to Louisa, who's an unknown. Her obit appeared in the Cleveland papers on February 26, 1895. It reads:
Slatter. Louisa A. M. Slatter, wife of J. Slatter, at 2 a.m., February 24, age 46. Funeral from residence, No. 433 1/2 St. Clair St, at 2 p.m., City time, Tuesday, February 26. Chosen friends invited. Cincinnati papers please copy.
So what do I know about Louisa? According to the cemetery record, Louisa was white, a native of England, and died of Brights disease. When John Slatter Sr. died, he was buried next to her.

I've tried calling, writing, and e-mailing the Cuyahoga County clerk's office asking about whether a death cert exists for Louisa Slatter. In the past, I've had good luck with them, but this time, after 6 months of intermittent requests, no response (perhaps because no record exists in their files). Nor have I ever located a marriage record for Louisa and John. I'm going to try to find some connection with Cincinnati, given the obit's mention of it.

Any other ideas about how to learn more about Louisa? Please let me know! And many thanks.