Monday, February 27, 2012

Amenuensis Monday: Tufts College Album, Zeta Psi House, 1925

When Edgar James Wood (my late father-in-law) went to Tufts College, Massachusetts, he saved memorabilia and put together a scrapbook of his college years. His frat friends signed the book in 1925, as shown above. Here's a transcription of the first page of names, hometowns, birth dates (!), and "ambitions." Maybe one of these college kids' descendants will do a search and find this list!

Charles Errol Exley, from Trinidad, B.W.I., nickname: Bill, b. August 27, 1903. Ambition: To see Ed pass French.

Fred J. Sanders, from Southington, Conn., nickname: Ted, b. April 22, 1907. Ambition: To see "the Jumboniane" working.

Joseph Harrison, from Newark, NJ, nickname: Joe, b. June 10, 1904. Ambition: To see Edgar with a team that will make Paul & Vinnie look foolish.

Austin C. Robinson, from Fitchburg, Mass., nickname: Ace, b. September 4, 1905. Ambition: To see Ed so tight he can't move.

Robert B. Rice, from Longmeadow, Mass., nickname: Bob, b. 1900. Ambition: To see Ed. dance.

Norman S. Smith, from Brookline, Mass., nickname: Norm, b. June 11, 1903. Ambition: To hear a battle of music between Paul Whiteman and the "Jumbonians."

Austin T. Ropes, from Salem, Mass., nickname: Hemp, b. Jan. 25. Ambition: To go to a dance with Ed.

Russel L. Carpenter '24, from Meriden, Conn., nickname: Bud, b. November 7, 1901. Ambition: To read the banjo parts.

Herbert Edwon Lawson Jr., from New York City, nickname: Pop, b. February 9, 1905. Ambition: To teach Ed to inhale [beets?].

Lawrence M. Dawson, from Meriden, Conn., nickname: Larry, b. October 25. Ambition: TO see "Dead Wood" in the balcony scene with Marie _____.

Armand J. Gariepy, from Barre, Mass., nickname: Gary, b. July 31, 1901. Ambition: "Control the stock market.

Chas. J. Odenweller 3rd, Arlington, Mass., nickname: Ody, b. December 30, 1903. Ambition: To go to Cleveland again.

Vivian Wight, Bethel, Maine, nickname: Viv., b. July 12, 1903. Ambition: To see you in Portland.

C. Proctor Stanley, N.E. Harbor, Maine, nickname: Pieye [?], b. July 6, 1904. Ambition: To play baseball.

George V. Perry, Lawrence, Mass., nickname: G.V., b. August 5, 1902. Ambition: Just now, to graduate.

Walter A. Weisleder, Meriden, Conn., nickname: [none], b. July 9, 1905. Ambition: TO get Eddie & Leo to agree.

Jack Hayes, Brooklyn, NY, nickname: "Jack" - "Spud," b. October 14, 1904. Ambition: There ain't no such onion.

Wm. H. Griffiths, Crestwood, Tuckahoe, NY, nickname: Bill, b. April 20, 1906. Ambition: To hear Eddy on the transatlantic radio.

Jack Norton, Cobleshill, New York State, nickname: [none], b. July 30. Ambition: To have Eddie remember to take his room key when he goes out.

"Fen" Reilly, West Medford, Mass, nickname: "Cap'n," b. February 6, 1906. Ambition: [none listed]

Joseph Rosselli, Waterbury, Conn., nickname: Joe, b. December 23, 1903. Ambition: To see Eddie drunk.

Joshua J. Bernstein, Springfield, Mass., nickname: Josh, b. June 15, 1905. Ambition: To spend four more years.

Ralph "Dutch" Lehan, Stoughton, Mass., nickname: "Dutch," b. "too long to remember." Ambition: To kick hell out of Reed & Browlen.

John J. Purcell, Meriden, Conn., nickname: "Jack" P., b. November 10, 1901. Ambition: To find one.

Eugene Eaton Smith, Tufts college, Mass., nickname: Gene, b. April 14, 1912 [sic]. Ambition: To tutor Eddie for P.B.K. and a degree.

P. George Nye, Malden, Mass., nickname: Joe the Great, Colonel, Sister Faint Flower, b. June 31, 1913 [sic]. Ambition: Why ? And who cares?

James E. Nickerson, West Harwich, Mass., nickname: "Red" "Nick," b. December 9, 1905. Ambition: I guess so.

Gordon L. Walls, "Where ere my hat be hung" [hometown], nickname: "The Count," b. April 4, 1905. Ambition: To hear Eddie soloing with the Symphony(!)

W. H. Erickson Jr., "Anywhere you wish" [hometown], nickname: "Shorty," b. November 8, 1904. Ambition: To play in a ___ band.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us!

My twin and I are celebrating our birthday today (no numbers, please!). The top photo shows us at about 6 weeks old. Reportedly, we "never" slept (and neither did our parents, Daisy Schwartz and Harold Burk). I can believe it, looking at that top photo. On the other hand, we weren't even 6 lbs each at that point, and the "scrawny chicken" look lingered on for another month or so, judging by the photos.

The second photo shows us all dolled up for an outing in matching outfits that I would bet our mother didn't buy. Why? Because as a twin herself, she wasn't a big fan of matching outfits and was determined to raise us as individuals, not halves of one whole. Anyway, this was taken alongside our apartment building, near the corner of Carpenter Avenue at East 222nd Street in the Bronx.

Happy birthday to us! And many more. 

PS: We don't actually know who's who in most of these early baby photos.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Obits vs Death Certs (Dig Deeper!)

Sometimes a death record is more informative than an obituary...and then there are other times when the opposite is true. Here's a case where digging deeper to get the obit was a phenomenal help and broke down a long-standing brick wall.

I've been looking for Benjamin McClure's ancestors. He's my hubby's great-great-grandfather and for years I've actively sought his parents' names.

The very nice folks in Friends of Falls Cemetery in Wabash, Indiana, have photographed his grave for Find a Grave and "calculated" relationships with other relatives buried there (correctly). They (and I) had no way of knowing that Benjamin didn't die in Wabash--he died in Conway, Michigan.

Finally, I got a clue and checked Family Search's Michigan Deaths/Burial Index, finding this:

Just to be sure, I ordered the microfilm and checked it and this is a mostly accurate transcription, from a ledger book that summarizes all deaths in Michigan, by county, during that year. I just didn't believe everything it says. The birth year is right, but the death date is one day off. And it's VERY unlikely that Benjamin and his parents were from New York, and the name "Enos" appears nowhere else in the family. What I really needed was to see his obit.

The kind librarian in Petoskey, Michigan (near Little Traverse) sent me Benjamin's obit from the Petoskey Record of February 26, 1896. It told me that Benjamin, the father-in-law of locally-known Reverend John J. Cook and father of Mrs. John J. Cook, had died at Conway after a short illness. His body was brought back to Wabash, Indiana, where he had resided for nearly 52 years, but no mention was made of McClure's birthplace or other survivors.

Posting a query on a Wabash genealogy message board, I got a note from a historian who told me that Benjamin's obit had appeared in two local Wabash papers, and he gave me the dates, suggesting I send for these. I tried a few different ways to get the obits from libraries, but no luck.

Then I joined the Indiana genealogy Facebook group and, from one of their posts, got the idea to contact the Indiana State Library.

Bingo! They quickly sent me the obit (excerpted at left) for Benjamin -- which includes his likeness. It includes a very complete family history. Benjamin, as I strongly suspected, wasn't born in NY, he was born in Ohio. His parents were John McClure and Ann McFall McClure. What a gold mine!

Thank you, wonderful librarians of Indiana State Library! Now I have literally dozens of leads to follow, including exact counties where the McClures lived and the dates. Digging deeper made the difference.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Ceramic Heirlooms

Zebra sculpture by Marian McClure Wood, 1950
My late mother-in-law, Marian Jane McClure Wood, became interested in ceramic sculpture as a hobby in the late 1940s. She took classes at Oxford Elementary School in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, with a well-known ceramicist, Edris Eckhardt.

Edris lived on Monticello Blvd, around the corner from the Cleveland Heights Blvd home where Marian and her family (Edgar J. Wood plus 3 children) lived. Edris was an internationally famous artist whose Alice in Wonderland sculptures had been displayed at the 1937 World's Fair in Paris and who had been a leader in Cleveland's Depression-era Federal Arts Project. She was deeply involved in the local art community and the Oxford school was one focus.

Marian quickly became so interested in ceramics that her husband Edgar and her father (Brice Larimer McClure) built her a kiln in the basement of Marian & Edgar's home, and arranged special electrical wiring for it.

Duck sculpture by Marian MccClure Wood (undated)
 Rather than make the usual ashtrays, Marian studied a book on animal anatomy and made ceramic animals. Hubby and I proudly display two zebra sculptures and a duck sculpture that she made. Marian also created a lovely series of ceramic creche figures, which my sis-in-law puts on display every Christmas.

Like all Cleveland-area artists, Marian aspired to have her works shown in the Cleveland Museum of Art's prestigious May Show. I found out when I checked the museum's database that she succeeded with four works: In 1948, she showed a zebra sculpture; in 1949, she showed "Spring Night" and a zebra; in 1950, she showed "The Champ." (Her son, my bro-in-law, had a painting in the 1960 May show; her daughter, my sis-in-law, had a textile design in the 1959 show.)

Inscription inside zebra sculpture - "1950 M Wood"
Marian's peak achievement was a three-foot-high Alice in Wonderland sculpture that she had fired in a commercial kiln and donated to the Oxford Elementary School in Cleveland Heights, in the late 1950s. This school houses an excellent collection of Federal Art, much of it produced under the supervision of or using the processes of Edris Eckhardt. Perhaps Marian's Alice is still there today?

2022 update: I wrote about Marian's ceramic artistry in an ancestor booklet that all heirs received. This means her story will be bequeathed along with her ceramics.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Mystery: James & Alice Wood's divorce

Yesterday I learned that James Edgar Wood, hubby's paternal gfather, was married to Alice Hopperton Unger in 1926. Alice had previously been married and divorced (by 1919) but kept her Unger name until she married James.

Edgar (my father-in-law) told my hubby during an interview in 1983 that he thought his father James had "got a housekeeper and he married her." Edgar kept his distance after that. But clearly James's life took some other turn, because he was married to Caroline Cragg by the time of the 1930 Census.

What happened in between? Apparently, Alice and James were divorced sometime between 1926 and 1930. My best guess is they were divorced around 1929, because James seems to have gone to Jackson, Michigan in 1929, but more sleuthing is required. By the time Alice died (at only 46), she had assumed the "Unger" name once again (see below).   UPDATE: I learned about the Alice/James divorce in 2018, and you can read it here.

Alice died on April 5, 1930 in Cleveland. The informant was Mrs. Brinker, Alice's sister (see obit abstract, below, from the Cleveland Necrology file).

d#: 0369015
Name: Unger, Alice
Date: Apr 6 - 1930
Source: Source unknown;  Cleveland Necrology File, Reel #081.
Notes: Unger: Alice, beloved daughter of Mrs. Rachel Hopperton and sister of Edward F., George C., Frank J., Mrs. H. O. Brinker, Mrs. O. C. Hughes, and the late Arthur S. Hopperton, Saturday morning. Funeral Monday, April 7, 1930, at 2:30 p. m., from the home of her brother, George C. Hopperton, 2106 Overbrook Road, Lakewood.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Surprise: Grandpa Wood's 2d marriage

This morning I followed one of Ancestry's "hints" and discovered a relationship that nobody in the family even suspected: James Edgar Wood's second marriage to Alice Hopperton Unger, on 1 September 1926, in Cleveland, OH. James was hubby's paternal grandpa.

This is definitely the correct James E. Wood--all the details fit. His first wife, Mary Slatter Wood, had died on 24 April 1925. So who was Alice and how did they meet?

BTW, sometime later, James married a 3d time, to Caroline (Carey) Cragg, the mother-in-law of James's nephew, a match the family helped to arrange. The couple lived in Jackson, MI at the time of the 1930 Census.

Obviously I now have to find out what happened to Alice between 1926 and 1930. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sorting Saturday: Archival Boxes and Found Treasures

This was "getting organized" week. I've been threatening to put photos and other treasures into archival boxes...and this week, I finally did it. The photo shows just some of the archival boxes I have stored on my bookcase, each with photos/documents/etc for a specific branch of my family tree.

Not all individual photos have labels (yet!) but at least they're separated by family name, a very good first step. Well, almost. One box, you might notice, is "to be sorted," but I can identify almost everyone in that box's photos and so it's a matter of putting them into the correct boxes. And did I mention how much I love my little label-maker, which makes everything look so neat and organized?

Sorting through documents in my "E.J. Wood" file, I came across a photo I didn't remember, showing Edgar James Wood (my late father-in-law) at top right, his wife Marian McClure Wood at left, and between them, her father Brice Larimer McClure. Ed & Marian's three children are in the front row. My hubby is the camera-shy older son at left, his younger brother is in the middle, and their sister is at right.

Another treasure: Ed's certificates of copyright registration for songs he composed. This one is for "High on a Hilltop," which he registered in April, 1950. He also registered "Shaker Heights Polka" in February, 1961, and "Love Is a Boundless Ocean" (music by Edgar J. Wood, words by George W. Teare) in October, 1932.

Ed had played his way across the Atlantic with college bands during the 1920s and was a part-time professional piano player for many years, working mainly on weekends to supplement his day job as an insurance adjuster. He played a couple of numbers during my wedding to his son!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Workday Wednesday: John Slatter, paper hanger/cleaner

Thanks to the Ohio Genealogy Research Community on Facebook, I found out that John Slatter (hubby's g-grandpa), born in England, was a paper hanger/cleaner in Cleveland, Ohio from about 1887-1901 (when John died). I had hit a brickwall on Slatter's life in Ohio and especially his 2d wife, and I posted a note to this Facebook page. Derek answered, suggesting I check Cleveland city directories (on Fold3). I did, and jackpot! Thanks, Derek.

Here's the page from the Cleveland directory of 1893, showing John and his 2d wife, Louisa, living and working at 433 1/2 St. Clair. Some years, John is listed by himself in the yearly directory; other years, John has a partner, such as Samuel Phillips (in 1889) or Samuel W. Mead (in 1892).

Louisa died in 1895 and John lived on until 1901. John was living with his daughter Mary Slatter Wood at 242 Lake St., Cleveland during the last months of his life.

When and where did Louisa & John marry? What was Louisa's maiden name, and how did they meet? More importantly, when and where did John's first wife Mary die?

I've sent for Louisa's death cert from the Cuyahoga County Probate Court. Maybe more clues will show up on it!