Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving - Hubby's 5 Mayflower Ancestors

Penny postal card sent to Wallis W. Wood, circa 1910
Happy Thanksgiving!

As I do every year, I'm honoring the memory of my husband's five Mayflower ancestors. Thank you to cousin Larry, the family genealogist, for uncovering these connections to the Puritans.

  • Francis Cooke 
  • Degory Priest
  • Isaac Allerton
  • Mary Norris Allerton
  • Mary Allerton
Young Mary Allerton later married Thomas Cushman of the Fortune. She was the last of the original Mayflower passengers to die, on November 28, 1699, exactly 320 years ago.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Steal My Family Photos--Please

Woodcut of hubby's ancestor, "stolen" by 13 other people for their family trees!

Dear cousins and possible cousins:

"Steal my family photos--please!"

And post them on your family trees so I can connect with you. Cousin bait!

Family photo of Tillie Rose Jacobs Mahler, "stolen" by others for their family trees!

If you save my publicly-posted family photos to your tree (whether it's hubby's 2d great-grandpa Benjamin McClure or my great-grandma Tillie Rose Jacobs Mahler), I can click on your profile photo, see whether we are a DNA match, look at your tree, and find out whether (and how) we're related.

Sure, some people who are not related have mistakenly claimed my photos of dead ancestors for their trees. Either I'll send a gentle private message questioning the connection or I'll post a politely-worded public comment on the photo on that tree.

You don't need my permission to "steal" a publicly-posted photo for your tree. And I don't expect you to ask permission.*

Please, just go ahead and steal my family photos . . . and lead me to our cousin connection!

This week's #52Ancestors prompt is "Thief."

*John Tew recently wrote that while he agrees with me, he also would like those who "borrow" his photos to give credit to his grandmother who so carefully and thoughtfully preserved these photos for future generations to enjoy. A lovely idea...and I do hope some of his distant relatives will do that. I'm just happy anyone saves any of my photos so I can follow the bread crumbs and find our cousin connection.

#CousinBait #Genealogy #FamilyHistory

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Finding the Dates Outside the Dash

Death record of Sarah Ann Harris Slatter Shuttleworth, 1814-1872
So much of my genealogy research and writing focuses on what happens "in the dash," meaning on the actual life an ancestor led between birth and death.

Many times, I can prove or at least guesstimate birth and death dates, and go on to research an individual's schooling, work and home locations, career, marital status, health, and other details. It's these details that really bring ancestors to life.

In the case of my husband's 2d great-grandma, Sarah Harris, I've dug up some very significant details of her life, thanks to the UK Census, her two marriages, and birth or baptism records for her children. She's the ancestor who, with her second husband, John Shuttleworth, saved one or more grandchildren from the tragedy of being sent to a workhouse or poorhouse.

(This second husband was apparently held in high esteem by the family, because one of his Slatter stepsons named his son "John Shuttleworth Slatter," which made it very easy for me to track this ancestor through records!)

What I didn't have were the dates on either side of the dash for Sarah Harris. This time I had to pay to get the info, but it was worth it!

Clues to the Dash Dates 

Quick recap: Hubby's great-great-grandma Sarah Harris married great-great-grandpa John Slatter in Oxford, England in 1832 (based on records from St. Ebbe in Oxford).

John Slatter presumably died before the 1851 UK Census, because Sarah was then shown as a widow with children, including a child of about one. That's a good clue to John's death date for the right side of his dash, which I'll be following up on shortly.

In 1862, Sarah remarried, to John Shuttleworth (according to St. Mary, Lambeth, church records). On the various UK Census documents, her age suggests a birth year between 1813 and 1816. No sign of Sarah or her second husband in the 1881 UK Census. That sent me looking in UK death indexes for the two of them. Shuttleworth was not an uncommon name, and there were a number of possibilities.

With encouragement from my UK friends during the weekly #AncestryHour genealogy conversation, I first ordered what I believed would be John's death record. In pdf format, it was delivered in a week electronically at the reasonable price of about $9. This proved that the John Shuttleworth I sought died in 1878.

However, Sarah wasn't there--although one of her sons was present at John's death, convincing evidence that I had the correct John, Sarah's 2d husband. When this son, William Slatter, got married in 1867, his mother Sarah and stepfather John Shuttleworth were the witnesses (see record below). Definitely the correct people--the late John Slatter was, in fact, a cook, and all other details agree.

Sarah's Dash Dates

My next step was to look at the most likely "Sarah Shuttleworth" deaths between 1871 and 1878. I focused on Sarah Ann Shuttleworth, who died in the first three months of 1872. I had never seen Sarah's middle name, but the death was in the correct district and county, so I sent for the pdf.

Again, the $9 was well spent IMHO: This cert arrived in less than a week. The record is shown at top of this post.

Sarah Ann Shuttleworth was 58 when she died on February 16, 1872 at 28 Gravel Lane. Her husband, John Shuttleworth, was listed as being "present at the death." Sarah died of chronic bronchitis, which she had had for 3 months.

The address where Sarah and John lived is just a few doors away from where they lived in the 1871 Census. Everything fits. This is hubby's 2d great-grandma.

Because Sarah died early in 1872, and her husband said she was 58, my calculation is that she was born in 1814.

RIP, Sarah Ann Harris Slatter Shuttleworth, 1814-1872. You, your dates, and what happened in your life ("in the dash") are now part of our family's history.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Treasured Heirlooms: Slatter Family

World War I bugle from Slatter family
Hubby's great uncle, Captain John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954) was a renowned military bandmaster with the 48th Highlanders Regiment of Toronto. But before that, he was a very poor boy from the Whitechapel section of London, who was placed on two successive training ships on the Thames to learn military and musical skills.

At age 11, he was on H.M. Training Ship Goliath, listed as band sergeant and solo cornet of the boy's band. A few years later, he was able to enlist in the Army. Then, after a stint in the 7th Fusiliers, he married and went to Toronto, where in 1896 he was the founding director of the 48th Highlanders kiltie band. He and the band toured the world in the early years of the 20th century, popularizing the kiltie band craze and serving as proud ambassadors for the 48th Highlanders.

During World War I, Capt. Slatter was Director of Brass and Bugle Bands for Canadian Military District #2. While stationed at Camp Borden, he trained 1,000 buglers during the war years.

My husband inherited a WWI bugle that we strongly believe was Capt. Slatter's, given to his youngest sister, Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925). She was hubby's paternal grandmother, and she left several WWI artifacts to the family. This is just one. Another is a Tipperary handkerchief that is quite well preserved, now safely stored in an archival box (inside archival tissue paper) for future generations to enjoy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

How Blogging Helps My Genealogy

The movements of an ancestor who caught Ohio fever
Every blog post I research and write helps my genealogy. Even after more than 11 years of blogging, and 21 years of genealogy enthusiasm, there are always new things to learn.

The process of blogging enhances my genealogy because it (1) sharpens my focus, (2) reveals gaps, and (3) serves as a rough draft of written family history.

Sharpening My Focus

Every time I blog, I narrow my focus to one ancestor, one surname, or one occasion. Or I choose one genealogical resource or method to explore. The point is to keep the focus on someone or something I can discuss in one post--a bite-sized piece of my family history.

My recent blog post about my great uncle Julius Farkas is a good example. I'm participating in Amy Johnson Crow's intriguing #52Ancestors series of weekly prompts for genealogy bloggers. For the "soldier" prompt, I decided to focus on Julius, the only conscience objector I've ever found in my family--someone who did not want to be a soldier.

Previously, I had written a few sentences about Julius in the context of others from my family who served in World War I. This time, to flesh out his story, I dug deeper into his military experience, going beyond the usual draft registration card and the summary of military service.

To my surprise, I discovered an Army transport list that had not been available when I last searched. Julius's name was the only one crossed out. The others were sent overseas into combat. With a shiver, I realized Julius would have wound up in the second battle of the Somme, had he not been reassigned at the very last minute as a Stateside Army cook. Sharpening my focus led me to this new aspect of his life.

Revealing Gaps

Gaps--yes, there are still quite a few in my family and my husband's family tree. When I blog about one ancestor or a branch of the tree, I often discover that I'm missing some information.

Take my recent two-part blog post about Mary "unknown maiden name" Shehan, my husband's ancestor who lived in London but was born in Ireland. My original intention was to try to find out where exactly she and her husband were born, and (if possible) to learn her maiden name. I wrote my blog post as I did my research.

First, I reviewed their whereabouts according to the UK census. Nowhere was any county or town listed, only "Ireland" as their birthplace. Sigh. On the other hand, there was nothing at all after 1871--a gap I needed to fill.

That's when I switched my goal to finding where and when these ancestors died. I had to dig deeper to find more documents, but ultimately I learned the sad ending to Mary "unknown" Shehan's life, unfortunately echoed in her daughter Mary Shehan Slatter's life. Blogging about these ancestors led me to discover gaps and conduct research to find out more. And it gave me crucial new insights into these ancestors' lives.

Rough Draft of Family History

Blogging allows me to "think out loud" about an ancestor or family-history situation in a post. Sometimes I write a series of blog posts about a particular topic of family, which I later turn into my first draft of a written family history.

That's what I did with my "Ohio fever" series. After reading David McCullough's well-researched book, The Pioneers, I turned my attention to three of my husband's ancestors who had caught Ohio fever. With the historical background in mind, I could understand "why," not just "when" and "where" they moved to Ohio.

With more detail and some editing, that three-post series became a seven-page booklet for the family, complete with colorful maps like the one at top. I especially wanted to grab the attention of younger relatives and show them how our family actually made history. With my blog posts as a rough draft, it was faster and easier to create the booklet than starting from scratch.

Genealogy blogging has another big benefit: It's absolutely fantastic cousin bait.

Some of my posts are brief, some are lengthy, sometimes I don't post for a week or two, but I always find blogging worthwhile and fun.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Julius Farkas Was a WWI Conscientious Objector

World War I service of great uncle Julius Farkas
My great uncle Julius Farkas (1892-1969) came to New York City from his native Hungary when he was 11 years old. He hadn't seen his father for four years at that point, nor his mother for three years, because they wanted to get settled in America before sending for their children. His dad, Moritz Farkas, and his mom, Leni Kunstler Farkas, sent for the children in two waves--and Julius was in the second wave.

He was one of two "bachelor brothers" in my mother's FARKAS family, never marrying but very close with his siblings. I remember little about him except his smile as he held an unlit but smelly cigar in his hand during family gatherings.

Drafted for World War One

Julius was 25 years old when he was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army during World War I.

When Julius filled out the draft registration card, he wrote his occupation as "Panama hatter" (the craze for those hats had already peaked). He said he was a naturalized citizen, born in Nagy Bereg, Hungary.

But this registration card was different from others I've seen from my family.

At the bottom, Julius claimed exemption from military service on the basis of "conscientious objection." 

Julius in the Army

Like other conscientious objectors in World War I, Julius was given the opportunity to serve in a non-military capacity. He was a confirmed bachelor who lived with his brother or other family members for his entire life. He never cooked professionally, and his cooking skills were almost certainly very limited.

Of course Julius was assigned as an Army cook. However, instead of being shipped overseas with Battery D, 305th Field Artillery, he was transferred to a different unit, as shown above in a transport list from April of 1918. Julius's name is crossed out because he is not going abroad for combat duty. If he had remained with the 305th, he might have been in the second battle of the Somme. Just the thought sent shivers up and down my spine.

In August of 1919, after serving as an Army cook rather than a soldier in the artillery, Julius was honorably discharged and returned home to the Bronx.

Julius after the Army

In the 1920 Census, Julius was living at home with his parents and working as a salesman. By 1925, still living at home, Julius's occupation was grocery salesman.

After that, Julius and his brother Peter opened and operated a small dairy store, specializing in "stinky cheeses" that they often brought with them to family-tree meetings. Julius and Peter both lived with their sister Irene and her family in 1940, listing occupations as grocery owners. They remained nearly inseparable until Peter's death in 1961.

Today I'm remembering great uncle Julius, the conscientious objector who died half a century ago and is buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, New York.

This is my "soldier" prompt for #52Ancestors by Amy Johnson Crow.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

When did John Slatter, Sarah Harris, and John Shuttleworth Die?

Death record of John Shuttleworth, March, 1878
This week, I had my first experience with ordering a UK death cert to be delivered electronically via pdf. My #AncestryHour* friends said each record contains a good deal of detail--and the pdfs are clear and easy to read. They were absolutely correct.

Sarah Harris and John Slatter

My husband's 2d great-grandma was Sarah Harris, born about 1813 in Stratford, Warwickshire, England. She married 2d great-grandpa John Slatter (b. 1810) at St. Ebbe Church, Oxford, England, on May 1, 1832, according to Oxford parish records. John was a cook at Christ Church College in Oxford, according to church and Census records.

John and Sarah had six children together. Their second son, John (1838-1901), was hubby's great-grandpa.

The elder John Slatter died some time after the 1841 UK Census and before the 1851 UK Census. In 1851, I found Sarah and children not in Oxford but in Christchurch, Surrey, England, where she was working as a "hat sewer."

When did Sarah leave Oxford? The 1851 Census offers clues by showing the birth place and year for the children. The two youngest children were both born in Christ Church, not Oxford. That means John and Sarah left Oxford together, around 1846, when the next-to-youngest was born.

Still, there are many John Slatters in the death indexes for that period! I put my search for his death on hold while I looked for Sarah and her second husband.

Sarah Harris and John Shuttleworth

In July, 1862, widow Sarah Harris Slatter married widower John Shuttleworth in St. Mary, Lambeth, England. I found them in the 1871 UK Census on Gravel Lane in Christ Church, Surrey, London, with three of her grandchildren. I've written in the past about how having these kiddies with them was most likely a way to keep them out of poorhouses or workhouses.

Sarah and John vanished after the 1871 UK Census. I found a Sarah Ann Shuttleworth in the Jan-Feb-Mar 1872 death index, in St. Saviour, Christ Church. But I wasn't sure this was her. She would have been only 58 or 59 years old.

Then I found a John Shuttleworth in St. Saviour, Christ Church, in the death index for Jan-Feb-Mar 1878. He was about 65 years old. I decided to send for his death cert, hoping the details in the record would add insight.

It cost me £7 ($9) for a pdf of John's death, delivered electronically to my General Register Office account within one week.

Son-in-Law = Stepson

Thanks to John Shuttleworth's death record, shown at top, I can definitively connect him with my husband's Slatter family. John was manager of an iron foundry, living on Charlotte Street in Christ Church. Unfortunately, he died of chronic cystitis and an enlarged prostate on March 4, 1878.

The informant was his "son in law" -- a term that, at the time, was frequently used for a stepson as well. This was William Slatter, recorded as "present at the death." Slatter lived at 23 Newby Street in Christ Church. I double-checked the UK Census and the address matches: this is the correct William Slatter, one of Sarah's sons.

Sending for Sarah's Death Record

Because Sarah was not mentioned in John Shuttleworth's death cert, I strongly believe she died before him. That's why I've just sent for the Sarah Ann Shuttleworth death record I found earlier.

For only $9, I hope to solve the mystery of when and where hubby's 2d great-grandma died. Then I'll return to the mystery of her first husband's death date and place. Never a dull moment in family history!


*If you're on Twitter, you can join in the genealogy conversation: #AncestryHour (every Tuesday at 2-3 pm Eastern Standard Time) and #GenChat (every other Friday at 10-11 pm Eastern Standard Time).

Friday, November 15, 2019

What Happens to Photos of Distant Cousins?

Iris Weiss married Albert Mintus in 1964

I never met Iris, my 3d cousin, once removed, but I'm saving her wedding photo and baby photos as part of my family history. Why, since she was such a distant cousin, do I have these photos?

Iris Hope Weiss (1930-2014) was the beloved only child of Fred F. Weiss (1901-1982) and Gladys Berger Weiss (1896-1989). Iris was named after her grandmother, Ida Farkas Weiss (1873-1924), a relative of my maternal great-grandpa, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936).

Iris and Albert

Iris was very devoted to her husband, Albert Mintus (1936-2004), after their marriage on June 21, 1964. They remained happily married for 40 years, until his death. The couple had no children; they loved to travel, often going abroad with cousins and friends. They were also theater buffs. She filled albums with photos and memorabilia from their travels and cultural adventures.

After Albert passed away, Iris became a night owl, staying up late to watch old movies and television programs. Once she and I connected through genealogy research, she sent me several photos of her family and told me what she remembered about her ancestors (and a bit about her life).

Over the course of two years, Iris and I chatted occasionally, not just about family history but also about favorite films and detective shows. I especially enjoyed her good humor and thoughtful comments. Then one day, Iris's first cousin called me with the sad news that Iris had passed away after a brief illness.

Keeping Iris's Photos in the Family

Not too long after that, Sis and I visited Iris's delightful first cousin (who is also our Farkas cousin). This cousin showed us Iris's travel albums and spoke with great emotion of their enduring connection over the years.

Because Iris had no descendants, our mutual cousin entrusted me with some of her childhood photos and her wedding portrait. I'm keeping these in my Farkas family archival box.

Though a distant cousin, Iris was part of our Farkas family. As the family historian, I want her name and face to live on even after I join my ancestors. Carefully captioned photos are the best way to do that!

The photo at top was taken at 55 years ago at Iris's wedding on Staten Island, New York. I also have the wedding announcement from The Miami News of June 24, 1964, listing bride, groom, parents, attendants, and the Algiers Hotel as the venue.

You're not forgotten, my Farkas cousin.

This is my post for the June 2022 Genealogy Blog Party.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Family Recipes: Grandma McClure's Butterscotch Brownies

Recipe from Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure

With the winter holidays fast approaching, I wanted to share my husband's family recipe for butterscotch brownies. They bake up light and dry, taste best with a scoop of ice cream on top and a drizzle of caramel or fudge syrup.

Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure
circa 1903

These brownies were made by his maternal Grandma Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure (1878-1948).

She was married to hubby's maternal Grandpa Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970) for 45 years, before she passed away at the age of 70.

Grandpa McClure outlived his loving wife by 22 years, continuing to be active until his late 80s, taking his grandchildren (including my husband) fishing and boating on lakes in Ohio.

Now this recipe is part of #FamilyHistory!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Simon Bentley's "Death in the Surf"

Headline on news story about Simon Bentley's accidental drowning death.
Poor Simon Bentley. He was my husband's 3d great uncle, one of seven children born to William Tyler Bentley and Olivia Morgan Bentley. The family was from upstate New York, around Oswego County. They had a pioneering spirit, with many family members moving west over the years.

New York to Indiana

In the mid-1830s, William and Olivia moved their entire family from rural New York to the forested wilderness of Elkhart county, Indiana. Olivia died in 1838, leaving William with sons and daughters ranging in age from 6 to 16.

My research hasn't turned up any clues to whether William remarried. How he managed to work his land and raise his family, I will never know.

Indiana to California

By 1848, William had left Indiana, bound for California. He wasn't looking for gold--he was looking for good farm land.

Most of William's children also went to California, but not all. Two of his daughters married before William moved west, and they never left Indiana.

Lucy Emeline Bentley, my husband's 3d great-grandma, stayed in Indiana with her husband and children. The same goes for her sister, Lucinda Helen Bentley, who also remained in Indiana with a husband and children.

All the others went to California, where I found them in Census records, voting records, local newspaper accounts, and local historical books, among other sources.

Simon Bentley in California

Simon Bentley, the younger son of William and Olivia, moved to California in his 20s. In his 30s, he married Eliza Jane Jordan, and worked as a farm laborer in the Santa Cruz area. After Eliza died, Simon continued to work on farms and board with other families.

The California voter registration records for 1892 describe Simon at age 64 as 5 feet 10 inches tall, light complexion, blue eyes, gray hair. He was living on Grant Street in Santa Cruz. This and other records confirm his occupation as "farmer" and "New York" as his birthplace.

Simon's Sad End

If you noticed the clipping at the top, you know what happened to poor Simon. I only found out his fate through a newspaper search. At age 66, he was an "old man" whose tragic drowning inspired not one but two California newspaper stories.

One of the articles says he lived with his faithful dog in a "tumble-down shanty" in East Santa Cruz. The article also stated that Simon had previously spent some time in "Agnew's asylum." It's hard to tell whether Simon was truly mentally ill, had a chronic medical ailment, or was homeless and destitute.

On the fateful day of September 9, 1894, Simon was fishing off a point of rocks, as he often did, when a sudden breaker swept him into the surf.

A young man jumped into the water to help, but there was a ferocious undertow. Simon quickly vanished beneath the waves before he could be saved.

Eventually, the police pulled Simon's body out of the water not far from where he went in. Poor Simon was buried in Santa Cruz alongside his sister Abbie Eliza Bentley Curtis, who had died the year before.

This is my "poor" entry in the #52Ancestors genealogy prompt series by Amy Johnson Crow.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Family Tree Veterans: The Farkas Brothers

Farkas brothers in World War II
My mother's twin sister and a number of first cousins in her maternal Farkas family served in World War II. My mother and all of her Farkas family descended from Moritz Farkas and Leni Kunstler, the original ancestors who left Hungary and came to America at the turn of the 20th century.

The children of Moritz and Leni created the Farkas Family Tree association to keep family members in close contact. It was active from 1933-1964, meeting up to 10 times a year, not including social events like a Thanksgiving party and fishing trips.

During WWII, service-members wrote home to the family tree about their military experiences. Happily, I have those letters and for Veteran's Day, I am excerpting from the letters to honor the service of two brothers on Veteran's Day: George and Bob, sons of Albert Farkas and Sari Sadie Klein Farkas. George and Bob were among my mother's first cousins.

George Farkas

In 1942, at the age of 19, George Eugene Farkas (1922-1949) enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. His letters home to the Farkas Family Tree traced his movements through training and posts around the country, then his flights around the world. George initially trained at Maxwell, an air base in Alabama. He wrote home:
"This flying game is no cinch and you have to keep on the ball. You need a dozen hands and eyes to see and do everything at once. The first day he [the instructor] showed me some turns and glides and elementary stuff."
However, George was soon shifted from pilot's training to navigator's training, where he did very well. More than a year after enlisting, George graduated as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces.

In January, 1944, he wrote about his first full foreign mission: "twenty-three days travel during which time were in four continents, crossed two oceans, the equator, and changed seasons six or seven times." Their mission was a vital one: over and over, they delivered planes to various bases worldwide and repositioned planes as needed for the war effort.

While in London, George visited with his first cousin, WAC Sgt. Dorothy Schwartz (my Auntie, twin to my Mom) and experienced first-hand the bombing blitz. His letters home were candid, detailed, and vivid, eagerly awaited by everyone in the family tree.

Robert Farkas
Robert A. Farkas received a medal for WWII service
George's younger brother, Robert Arthur Farkas (1924-2014) enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943, at age 18. He was placed in the medical corps, and he wrote home regularly about his rigorous training.

One of Bob's letters is about being drilled in the use of firearms: "...the Garand, .45, carbine, Tommy gun, light and heavy machine guns, and the new anti tank gun, the bazooka. We are quite sure to be armed if we get to the Pacific theatre of operations."

By October of 1943, Bob was on a troop ship to England, then on to France and Belgium. By December, he was in the thick of the fray in Germany. He wrote home:
"I learnt more in the first couple of days of actual combat than I did in all the time that we trained in the States."
Bob was stationed in Germany in 1944 and the early part of 1945. He wrote home to praise the troops he helped to patch up and to tell of the vast destruction the U.S. military had caused as it drove German troops away, town by town.

Bob also impressed his family with descriptions of the high level of care the medical corps provided in the field, including the use of plasma and a powerful new medicine, penicillin. Very conscious of the family's worries, he sought to reassure them with his letters and his positive spirit.

Saluting these and all veterans on this Veteran's Day. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Hugh Benjamin McClure, Inventor and Entrepreneur

Folder patent received by hubby's great uncle H.B. McClure
My husband's great uncle, Hugh Benjamin McClure (1882-1960) was a successful inventor and entrepreneur who ran a thriving manufacturing firm and received patents on industrial devices. Above, one of his patents from 1954. Don't ask me what it is, but it apparently was a plus for the manufacturing side of the business. (I found it by doing a general online search for his name.)

Ben's Early Life

Hugh Benjamin--called "Benjamin" or simply "Ben"--was born on February 3, 1882, in Wabash, Indiana, the youngest child of William Madison McClure and Margaret Jane Larimer. He married Olivette Georgia Van Roe in 1902, at the age of 20, and their only child was born the following year.

Sorry to say, Olivette died of TB in 1905. In the 1910 Census, Ben was living in Wabash with his daughter and his Van Roe brother- and sister-in-law. Ben's occupation was listed as "shipping clerk, cabinet factory."

In 1913, Ben completed a legal transfer of some real estate lots in Wabash to his then 10-year-old daughter. The paperwork adds "love and affection" along with the transfer. He sounds, to me, like a warm-hearted Dad.

Ben, Rebekah, Family, and Factory

It was 101 years ago this month that Ben remarried, to Rebekah Venice Wilt (1896-1975). He was already working for a Fort Wayne, Indiana, company. The family moved to Fort Wayne by 1920, where he told the Census he was based as a "commercial traveler, cabinet." But then they moved to Peoria soon afterward, so Ben could get into the manufacturing business.

In 1930, the Census shows Ben, wife Rebekah, and three daughters in a home they owned in Peoria. The home's value was $6,500 at that time (about $95,000 today). It wasn't the most expensive home on the block, but many others were renting, so clearly Ben was well off enough to be an owner. His occupation in 1930 was "manufacturer, filing equipment."

By 1940, Ben and Rebekah had four daughters and he was listed as the president of his office equipment firm. His WWII draft registration card shows him as 60 years old in 1942, self-employed, living in Peoria--but, curiously, he listed one sister, Lola McClure Lower, as a "person who will always know your address."

During the 1950s, Ben received patents like the one at top, and he continued to expand his manufacturing firm. The company was now a family operation, with Hugh as president, his wife Rebekah as vice-president, and his sister-in-law as secretary. H.B. McClure Manufacturing provided employment for many people in Peoria over the years.

Families Stayed in Touch

Ben died in August, 1960, at the age of 78, leaving his wife and five daughters, 10 grandchildren, two great-grandkids, and a successful family business that his wife Rebekah and several in-laws continued to operate for years.

By reading my late father-in-law's diary, I learned that the McClure family stayed in touch with Rebekah for some time after Ben died. Ben's brother, Brice Larimer McClure, visited with Rebekah and family in 1964, an occasion for McClure relatives to gather together.

When Rebekah's sister and family came east in 1965, they visited with Ben's brother Brice, Brice's daughter, and my late father-in-law (whose diary entries reflect pleasure at this surprise visit).
Hugh Benjamin is my focus ancestor for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "rich."

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Part 2: What Happened to Mary (Unknown) Shehan

When I left off my saga of Mary (maiden name unknown) Shehan, in Part 1, I was following a hunch about her whereabouts in 1881. Since the last place I could place her was in the London workhouse in 1871, I decided to look there.

There's Mary! Discharged...

I went to the Ancestry search page for the UK workhouse/poorhouse collection and entered Mary's name, birth year, birth place of Ireland. I checked the results for entries for the Northumberland Street Workhouse in London, where she was in March of 1871.

And I found her, in a "discharge" record from 1874 (see the record at top)! The register for the workhouse showed her birth year as 1800, her age as 74, and the date of discharge was January 3, 1874. Very likely this is Mary Unknown Shehan.

At a quick glance, it sure looks like I should keep looking elsewhere for her, right? The transcription says she was discharged.

Always Look at the Image

Having been disappointed by transcription errors many times in the past, I always, always look at the image. I want to see for myself how the person's name is spelled and find every last detail that hasn't been transcribed.

And that's how I learned the real reason for her discharge. Mary was the first name on the page for Saturday, January 3, 1874. Her last meal in the workhouse was breakfast, according to the register. On the far right of the page, not transcribed, was why she was listed as supposedly discharged. See the image below right.

"Dead." Poor Mary and the other two people listed at the top of this page died in the workhouse.

Officially, however, she was discharged. Sigh. I had hoped for a less sad ending. I already knew the even worse fate of Mary Unknown Shehan's daughter.

Sad Endings for Mother and Daughter

Daughter Mary Shehan Slatter had been admitted to St. George's Workhouse on Mint Street, Southwark, London in September 1873 and again that November. The register for November shows the reason for admission as "married, destitute, no home."

Exactly two weeks after her mother's workhouse death in January, 1874, daughter Mary was admitted to a different workhouse. I can't help but imagine she was distraught over the mother's death.

But then, in April of 1874, she was admitted to an insane asylum, having been deserted by her husband and left with five children in her care. She was suffering from "melancholia," and the symptoms were "depressed, imagines she is dead."

Mary, like her mother, was never really discharged. The lunacy register has a column for "date of discharge or death" and a few columns for details. As shown here, Mary was listed as having died on April 19, 1889.

I really hope Mary Shehan Slatter was aware, before her untimely death, that all of her children grew up to lead much better lives.

Monday, November 4, 2019

What Happened to Mary (Unknown) Shehan? Part 1

Mary (UNK) Shehan in medical ward of Northumberland Street Workhouse, March, 1871
My husband's 2d great-grandma was Mary (maiden name unknown) Shehan, married to John Shehan.

What little I know of these ancestors is based on the U.K. Census.

Mary and her husband were always listed as born in Ireland. Where, exactly? I don't know.

So I retraced my research and began reviewing what I've found to date, hoping to find their county of origin in Ireland. Alas, the trail led me to yet another sad tale in my hubby's family.

Finding the Shehan Family in the UK Census

Here is what I've learned about Mary UNK Shehan, based on the UK Census:

  • 1841: Living in Gray's Buildings (a terribly poor London neighborhood). Husband John Shehan, age 40, is a laborer. Mary, 35, is a milkwoman. Children: Thomas (7), Mary (3), and Michael (8 months). Lots of laborers (men), charwomen, washerwomen, milkwomen, laundrywomen in Gray's Buildings. Many born in Ireland, as well.
  • 1851: Living in #4 Gray's Buildings. Husband John Shehan, 50, is a laborer, born in Ireland. Mary, age 51, a laundress, born in Ireland. Their son, Thomas, 17, is a porter, born in Marylebone (London). Their son, Michael, 11, is a scholar, born in Marylebone. A niece, Bridget Warringer, 6, born in Ireland, is also in the household. What has happened to daughter Mary? 
  • 1861: Living in #20 Gray's Buildings. Husband John Shehan, 60, is a laborer, born in Ireland. Mary, age 57, no occupation, also born in Ireland. Son Michael, age 21, unmarried, is a laborer, born in Middlesex county, London. No children Thomas or Mary. I know the younger Mary married in 1859, and is with her own husband (Slatter) and family in 1861. Presumably Thomas moved out and possibly married, I'm still searching for him.
  • 1871: Living in Gray's Buildings. Husband John Sheehan, age 70, is a laborer. Mary, wife, 70, occupation is laundry. Both born in Ireland. ALSO Mary Sheen is enumerated as being in the medical wing of the Northumberland Street Workhouse, age 70, married, a laundress, born in Ireland. As shown at top of this post, I found her in the admission register for this workhouse, suffering from "chronic rheumatism."
John Disappears from Census, Where Is Mary?

I looked for John and Mary Shehan in the 1881 Census in Gray's Buildings. No luck (even with creative spelling). I even asked my UK geneabuddies in the #AncestryHour Twitter group how to search the Census by specific residence, and followed their instructions. Still no sign of John and Mary.

At this point, I tend to believe John Shehan died after the 1871 UK Census but before the 1881 Census. I've tentatively narrowed his death date to 1875, and will try to verify via official records.

What of Mary UNK Shehan? Living in poverty in Gray's Buildings for at least 30 years, with occupations such as millkwoman and laundry, she was undoubtedly in dire straights, possibly homeless.

I checked the Census, and she was not living with her daughter Mary Shehan Slatter in 1881. If she was living with son Thomas or son Michael in the 1881 Census, I couldn't find her.

I again looked at my research. The last time I had found Mary Shehan was in the 1871 Census, where she was enumerated twice: at home in Gray's Buildings and in the medical wing of the Northumberland Street Workhouse.

That was my clue. If she wasn't in Gray's Buildings, I had a hunch where she was in 1881.

Part 2 will continue the saga of Mary Unknown Shehan. Get your hanky ready!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Honoring Burk/Mahler Grandparents on Ellis Island

Finding the Moritz Farkas Family inscription on Ellis Island Wall of Honor
Yesterday, I submitted an order to honor my paternal grandparents, both immigrants, by having their names inscribed on the Ellis Island Wall of Honor.

Maternal Ancestors Already on the Wall

This is the second set of immigrant ancestors to be inscribed on the Wall of Honor. Years ago, my mother's first cousin submitted "The Moritz Farkas Family" to be inscribed on Panel 132.

Moritz Farkas and his wife Lena Kunstler Farkas were my maternal great-grandparents. They came from Hungary just at the turn of the 20th century and settled in New York City.

The photo at top shows my Sis, our cousins, and me visiting Ellis Island in 1996 to photograph the Farkas inscription. It was a stunning beautiful day and we were proud to see "The Moritz Farkas Family" on the wall honoring immigrants.

Burk and Mahler Names to Be Added

Now, with only 5 panels remaining on the Wall of Honor, I decided it was time to pay for ancestors on my father's side to have their names inscribed.

I submitted an order to inscribe the name of my paternal grandpa Isaac Burk and his wife, my paternal grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk. The cost would have been one name for $150, but I ordered a husband-and-wife inscription for $225.

Both deserve to be honored for having the courage and initiative to leave their homelands (Isaac was from Lithuania, Henrietta from Latvia) and make a new life in North America.

Because the Ellis Island order form requires a middle initial (for the format I chose), I had to get a little creative. I never heard or found any middle name for Isaac, so I added "I" for his original name in Lithuania, Itzhak. Similarly, Henrietta had no middle name that I know of, so I added "Y" for her nickname, Yetta.

Schwartz and Farkas Names to Be Added Also

Sis was so excited about memorializing our ancestors on the Ellis Island's Wall of Honor that we immediately ordered our maternal grandparents' names for the wall. The format I chose this time is "Theodore and Hermina Farkas Schwartz" from Hungary.

Ordering before the end of 2019 ensures that these inscriptions will be installed by summer of 2020. I'm looking forward to seeing the names on the wall next year!