Saturday, February 29, 2020

Clues in Family-History Books: Caveat Emptor!

Searching for surnames in books on
Let me say it yet again: I married my husband for his ancestors! Happily for me, there are many people researching his ancestral surnames.

Even more important, a number of these people have written books about their research into the history of specific families. As valuable as the books are, loaded with useful clues, I have to say caveat emptor.

Inheriting a Larimer Family History

My husband's family has had a copy of a particular LARIMER book in their hands for more than 60 years. They knew the cousin who researched and wrote it. The author wrote eloquently about the Larimer patriarch who was shipwrecked en route from Northern Ireland to America; he listed every descendant he could find or find a name for, and a tid-bit about each person's life.

This author personally contacted my husband's parents in the 1950s to request information about their family. First-hand knowledge!

Yet I know this book has some typos and mistakes. On our family's copy, my late father-in-law or mother-in-law crossed out names and dates that weren't correct and wrote corrections in pen or pencil. The book listed the wrong death date for my husband's grandmother, for instance. In all, I found a dozen handwritten corrections. And those are only the errors my in-laws were aware of.

Nonetheless, these days, when a cousin contacts me about Larimer ancestors, I send this link to the book on the website. Anyone can download and read the book for free, from anywhere. Just don't make the mistake of believing everything. Check. It. Yourself. 

In other words, caveat emptor. Keep the Genealogical Proof Standard in mind while reading, and treat the contents as clues.

Searching for a Surname Book

To see whether Family Search has a book about a particular surname, navigate to the page where you can search only the book collection. See the screenshot above for an example where I searched for "McKibbin" and "Indiana" to find anything about a family that intermarried with the Larimer family in that state. (Sometimes creative spelling will turn up additional books to consider.)

At the top of the results is a book tracing the ancestry of a McKibbin family in Indiana and those who intermarried with it. I've downloaded this free book, which was written in 1977 and subsequently submitted to the Family History Library. Now I'm in the process of checking the information against what I've discovered in other records and from other sources.

There are also other books with the McKibbin surname, the Larimer surname, and names that appear in my husband's family tree a few generations back (such as Work, another family that intermarried with Larimer descendants).

Slowly, I'm making my way through the results lists to see which books are relevant to my research. Along the way, I'm gaining an appreciation for the social, historical, and economic context these family-history books add to my knowledge of hubby's family tree.

Colleen Brown Pasquale ("Leaves & Branches" blog) also suggests searching for family histories in, which links to results at Family History Libraries, FamilySearch, and other sites.

Caveat Emptor: Clues, Not Facts

Until I can verify, the information in any family-history book is a clue, not a fact. But there are some great clues to be found, as long as I keep caveat emptor in mind.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Disaster Avoided, Thanks to Old Technology

Letter written to Mom (Daisy Schwartz) and postmarked
the day before her birthday, on December 3, 1941

For her entire life, my mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981) kept a box filled with letters she received in the period 1935-1946.

As part of my family-history efforts, I've mined those letters for insights into Mom's life, activities, and feelings.

Adding Context for Future Generations

I transcribed all of the letters nearly a decade ago. It took a few weeks of deciphering handwriting and taking a magnifying glass to the postmarks. I also looked up the people's names, not always sure of who they were.

For the sake of future generations, I began adding photos and historical notes for context. Otherwise, how would Daisy's grandchildren and great-grandkids understand that it was commonplace to mail a letter in the morning in the Bronx or Manhattan and have it delivered to the Bronx or Manhattan that same afternoon?

I also added other context I considered significant, such as the fact that the envelope shown above was postmarked December 3, 1941, the night before Daisy's 22nd birthday--and only four days before Pearl Harbor, which precipitated America's entry into World War II. Young relatives might not make those connections so quickly.

Uh-oh, Potential Disaster

What I didn't realize was that 50-plus pages of text, interspersed with dozens of images and color highlights, would result in a BIG file.

When I went to open that file as background for my forthcoming family-history booklet on Mom and her sister, I discovered it was so old and so gigantic that it wouldn't open.

I'm not sure of the technical reasons, but trust me, I was concerned. It would have been a disaster if I was forced to transcribe from scratch and add all the images and context all over again.

Unfortunately, the files on my two external hard drives and my cloud storage were exact copies of the file that wouldn't open. I was more than a little worried when I couldn't get any of those backups to open.

Old Technology to the Rescue! 

Just when everything seemed bleak, old technology came to my rescue.

I remembered that I had a backup of this big file on a CD, believe it or not, from the old days. Luckily, I was able to open that file on the first try!

I immediately copied and pasted half of the pages into one new file and saved it. Then I copied the second half of the pages into a second new file and saved it. I used descriptive file names to indicate the specific years covered by each of the two new files.

Let me point out that I did have a second possibility to avoid disaster if all else failed. I had long ago printed the entire transcript file and stored it with the letters. If necessary, I could have scanned the transcription--but it wasn't necessary.

Back Up For Yourself and For Future Generations

Turns out, old technology was what I needed to avoid disaster. In the days before cloud backups, I burned CDs and kept them.

Then there's good ole paper. More than once, I've blogged about how I appreciate new technology but I like paper. I print important documents as a backup, and file them in the appropriate folder or box.

This way, my heirs will find the printed versions when they open my genealogy folders and boxes in the distant future, after I've joined my ancestors.

This is my post for week 9 of #52Ancestors, the prompt being "Disaster."

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Thank You for Sharing

Handwritten note by Brice Larimer McClure, naming his ancestors
My husband's grandfather, Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970), left several scraps of paper with notes about his family tree.

As shown above left, one of these scraps begins with the sentence: "I am Brice Larimer McClure, a son of . . . " He then proceeds to name his grandparents and great-grandparents and back as far as he knows.

Are the details all correct? Maybe yes, maybe no. This note was written from memory, I suspect, reflecting what Brice was told about his ancestors as he was growing up. Even if the names and dates aren't entirely accurate, they gave me good ideas for further research.

This first-person account of McClure and Larimer genealogy was so unique, I couldn't keep it to myself. I decided to share it on a public family tree on Ancestry back in 2011. As shown above right, I attached it to eight ancestors whose names appear on the note.

Since then, a total of 99 other Ancestry members have saved it to their family trees. This is far more people than have ever saved any other single photo or document from my public trees to their trees.

By sharing, I hope to give others clues for researching names, dates, and relationships in their trees, just as I've learned from clues in unique documents and photos shared by people who attached them to their public family trees.

Thank you, everyone, for sharing. Please go ahead and use any unique photos and documents you find on my public trees to jump-start your own research. And remember--unique items like this can be excellent cousin bait! 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Happy Twin Birthday!

Twins in black and white
Today is the birthday of two girls, born two minutes apart--my Sis and myself, shown here eating lunch side-by-side in our "baby butler" twin high chair.

Twins in color!
Above, the same photo, automatically colorized by MyHeritage. It's fun to see us in color at that age, even though the colorized version makes our hair look a bit more auburn than reality.

Happy birthday to my beloved Sis!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Philip Markell's Path to Prosperity

Naturalization index of Philip L. Markell
One of my favorite in-law families is the Markell family. My paternal great-aunt Mary Mahler (1896-1979) married Joseph A. Markell (1895-1975) in 1921. Mary was one of the match-maker aunts who set up the date on which Dad met Mom. No wonder I'm really interested in these in-laws!

Through research, I learned that great-uncle Joe's father, Barney (Benjamin) Markell, and three of his brothers left Vilna, now in Lithuania, to come to America before 1905.

Philip L. Markell (1880-1955), the eldest brother, followed a non-linear career path from newly-arrived immigrant to achieve solid economic status fairly quickly. What I particularly appreciate is that he was able to adapt to the times, over and over throughout his life.

Philip Arrives, Enlists, Is Sent to the Philippines and Back

Philip Markell landed in Boston on December 20, 1894, part of a wave of Eastern European Jews fleeing to America. He was nearly 15 years old.

From Eastman Museum collection
At age 19, he enlisted in the U.S. Army for a three-year period of service beginning in January, 1899. The enlistment shows his occupation as "florist."

In 1900, he was enumerated as part of the 9th Infantry in the Philippine Islands, during the Philippine–American War.

Having served his three years in the army, he was discharged "at sea on Kilpatrick" in January, 1902. Above, an early photo of the U.S. Army Transport Kilpatrick, which entered service in 1875 and was retired in 1914, a dozen years after Philip sailed back from his Army service.

Salesman, Merchant, Manager, and Moving Pictures

In 1910, Philip was enumerated in a Jersey City (NJ) boarding house as a salesman of sewing machines. As shown at top, he was naturalized in 1911. In 1912, when he married Etta Kaplan (1890-1967), Philip told Boston authorities he was a "merchant."

When Philip filled out his WWI draft registration card in 1918, he and his wife Etta were living in Dorchester, just outside Boston, and he said his occupation was "manager in a baking plant."

By 1920, Philip was telling the U.S. Census that he was a "commercial traveler" (meaning salesman).

By 1923, however, Philip had switched careers. He was manager of the Roxbury Theatre in Roxbury, MA, where he remained well into the 1930s.

In the 1930 Census, his occupation was "manager, moving pictures," referring to his position at the Roxbury Theatre. But possibly there was more!

From Theaters to Sales

According to a news story, Philip and his brother Barney Markell were partners in owning the Atlas Theater in Adams, MA, a large opera house that very likely showed movies at that point. The Markell brothers sold it in 1935. (The theater burned down in 1937, by the way.)

A 1931 news story showed a Philip Markell as part of a group incorporating the Franklin Theater corporation in Springfield, MA. There was a Franklin Theatre operating there in the late 1930s, but I didn't find any documentation that Philip was actively involved at any point.

By 1933 and for years after that, Philip was again listed as a "salesman" in the Boston city directory. On his WWII draft registration card in 1942, he was listed as a salesman, age 60.

Moving pictures were quite the thing in the 1920s and 1930s, and Philip was in the right place at the right time. Although I don't know why he left the business, I do know he was quite adept at adjusting his careers to the changing times--from florist to soldier to salesman to merchant to manager to moving pictures to salesman.

This is the prompt for week 8 of Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors series for 2020.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Census Day Wasn't Always April 1st

Who cares when the Census was taken? 

Turns out, knowing when Census Day falls can be helpful in narrowing down possible birth, marriage, and death dates.

One New York ancestor was enumerated with her parents in the 1900 US census, then with her husband in the 1905 NY state census, taken on June 1st. By searching between June, 1900 and May, 1905, and using creative spelling, I was able to find her marriage in early 1905.

By the time of the 1910 US census, she and her husband had one daughter...later that year, after Census Day, another daughter was born who wouldn't show up in a NY state census until 1915.

For the upcoming release of the 1950 US Census, I was particularly interested that enumerators were required to fill out a separate Infant Card for every baby born in January, February, or March of that year. If someone was born in the census year of 1950 a few days or weeks before the Census Day of April 1st, there will be an Infant Card for that person, loaded with extra details about the parents and the baby! Unfortunately, Infant Cards were not retained so we never saw those. Darn it.

Census Day Was Not Always Fixed

As shown in the graphic at top, Census Day wasn't always one fixed date. Early in the nation's history, enumerators visited households to record information as of the "first Monday in August." The idea was to avoid taking farmers out of the fields during planting or harvesting.

In 1830, Census Day was standardized as June 1st, another date that didn't conflict with agricultural responsibilities.

In 1910, the date was changed to April 1920, the date became January 1st...and then, in 1930, the date was fixed as April 1st, where it remains.

I like to keep this list of Census Day dates handy so I can correlate with other clues as I research my family's past.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Colorizing the Past

A few days ago, I tried the new MyHeritage in Color feature, which automatically colorizes sepia or black and white photos.

Having a bumper crop of old family photos, I also experimented on the same photos using Restore by Vivid-Pix and Picasa (no longer offered by Google, but software I've used and liked for years).

Original black and white scan of Wood house
I began with a scan of a black-and-white photo of my husband's grandfather, James Edgar Wood and my hubby's grandmother, Mary Slatter Wood (see original at left).

They're standing in front of a home that James built in Cleveland, Ohio, more than a century ago.

James posted a sign "Jas. E. Wood, Carpenter and Builder" which is visible next to the bicycle in front of the house.

The MyHeritage in Color version is below, right. I was thrilled to see the colorized sign, as much as the people and the building.
Black and white colorized by MyHeritage in Color

Notice the small white widget at bottom left of the MyHeritage colorized photo, intended to distinguish the adapted version from the original.

This is important because genealogists might otherwise mistake the newly colorized photo for an original.

I also used Restore by Vivid-Pix to see how the original b/w scan could be improved. Here's the result:
Black and white improved by Restore by Vivid-Pix
Both the Vivid-Pix and the MyHeritage versions show lots of detail and clarity, even if they are NOT originals. (The Vivid-Pix enhanced versions go into a special "Vivid" folder, leaving the originals untouched).

Original b/w of Minnie and Edward, 1930s
Next, I tried MyHeritage colorization on an old b/w of my husband's great aunt Minnie Steiner Halbedel and great uncle Edward Halbedel, in their backyard in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, holding two youngsters. Above, the original scan of this photo, taken in the late 1930s. Below, the MyHeritage colorization of this same photo. For quick, no-fuss colorization, it looks really good!
MyHeritage colorized version of Minnie & Ed
Finally, I tested MyHeritage's colorizing on a photo of another home under construction by hubby's Grandpa James E. Wood. Below is the original scan of a b/w photo taken on February 18, 1915, exactly 105 years ago today.

Original b/w scan of James E. Wood's house under construction, 1915

Next, the MyHeritage colorized version, which brings out the color of the bricks and lumber as well as making the people look real-life.
MyHeritage colorized version of Wood house under construction, 2015

And then I used Picasa to slightly tilt the color toward yellow, hoping to add to the natural colors of the lumber and bricks.

Picasa enhanced version of MyHeritage colorization of 1915 house under construction
Color always catches the eye of younger relatives, and that's a plus when I'm trying to get them interested in family history. In all, I'm excited by the many possibilities for working with old family photos.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Apres Vous/After You, What Happens to Your Genealogy?

Something new:#Genchat one-hour live-tweet conversation on Friday, February 28 and the same topic, again a live-tweet conversation, on Saturday, February 29. I'm honored to be the special guest for both!

You're invited to join the discussion as participants from around the world explore ideas and issues related to "Apres Vous/After You."
What happens to your genealogy (and old photos and documents and stories) after you join your ancestors? How do you plan ahead to be sure your family-history collection will pass to the next generation and beyond--instead of landing in the rubbish or a garage sale?
Christine McCloud will host the first of these two Twitter #Genchat conversations on Friday night, Feb. 28, 10 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Liam "Sir Leprechaun Rabbit" will host the second Twitter #Genchat conversation on Saturday, Feb. 29. For U.S. participants, the starting time is 3 pm Eastern Standard Time. If you're elsewhere, starting time is 8 pm Greenwich Mean Time.

Please join the conversation! One hour of interesting and thought-provoking tweets focused on planning for "Apres Vous."

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Floyda Files for Divorce: Favorite Discovery

1901 divorce papers of
Floyda Mabel Steiner
For this week's #52Ancestors challenge, I asked my husband about our favorite discovery in his family tree.

His pick: Learning about his Grandma Floyda's first marriage--and how/why she divorced her first husband.

Finding a Clue in Floyda's Marriage Certificate

Floyda Mabel Steiner (1878-1948) married my husband's Grandpa Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970) on June 10, 1903.

When I ordered and received their marriage certificate, I was surprised to see that Floyda listed herself as divorced, with a previous married name of Floyda M. Gottfried.*

Digging Deeper into Floyda's Life

It didn't take long to find Floyda and her first husband, Aaron F. Gottfried, in the 1900 U.S. Census. They were living in Salem township, next to the town of Upper Sandusky where she was born. There were no children listed in the household.

Next, I paid to obtain Floyda's first marriage certificate. I learned she was married on May 18, 1898, in her home town of Upper Sandusky, OH.

When Was Floyda Divorced?

Now I had to narrow down the period for her divorce and get the story. In 1900, she was living with her first husband. In 1903, she was getting married for the second time. According to social items published in local newspapers, she was using her maiden name in 1903 when her engagement to her second husband was announced.

Clearly, the divorce took place between 1900 and 1903, far enough in the past that I could expect to get info about what happened. Since Floyda was sticking so close to home, I picked up the phone and dialed Wyandot and Crawford counties, and threw myself on the mercy of county clerks. I explained who, what, and when I was seeking, and asked for their help, please. Crawford county had nothing, but Wyandot county had the divorce papers in their files!

"Extreme Cruelty"

All I had to do was pay 10 cents per page for photocopying. (I sent more, and the cost was still peanuts.) In exchange, I received a dozen pages detailing the legal proceedings during the court term of April, 1901.

Floyda was requesting a divorce from her first husband on the grounds of "extreme cruelty." This was highly unusual at the time. Divorce was considered somewhat shameful and it was courageous of a woman, in particular, to initiate the end of her marriage. But it sounds like Floyda had good reasons.

She told the court that her first husband once kicked her in an angry fit, scratched her face until it bled, and "frequently drew his fist," threatening that if not for the law, he would strike her. He also called her names and said she "was not his equal in birth, education, etc." For his part, her husband denied the charges.

Asking for Alimony

In another move uncommon for that period, Floyda warned the court to restrain her first husband from disposing of his considerable property (then worth $1,700, the equivalent of more than $52,500 today). She believed he would try to thwart her ability to receive alimony, if the divorce was granted.

On May 21, 1901, Floyda was granted the divorce she sought. She was awarded $215 in lump-sum alimony, plus court costs, and she was given the legal right to use her maiden name again.

Floyda Remarries
1903 wedding announcement of
Floyda Steiner & Brice McClure

Two years after her divorce, Floyda married her second husband Brice in a "quiet wedding" at the Upper Sandusky home of one of her sisters. They boarded a train after the marriage dinner to go to Wabash, Indiana, where Brice worked for the railroads.

Floyda and Brice had one child, Marian Jane McClure (1909-1983), born in Cleveland, Ohio. They were very devoted to her and, when she married, they embraced her husband (Edgar James Wood, 1903-1986) as part of their family

Telling Floyda's Story 

When I tell the story of Floyda's divorce to her descendants, I emphasize how brave she was, in 1901, to take the bold step of going to court to get out of an abusive marriage.

It was just as courageous of her to return to her home town after her divorce, and resume an active social life until she remarried and moved away.

Floyda's father had passed away decades earlier, and her mother was nearing 70 years old at the time of this divorce. Seeing Floyda in a troubled marriage must have difficult for the whole family ... and then seeing Floyda happily remarried must have been very joyful!

So let me salute Floyda as our "favorite discovery" of a powerful, emotional episode in #FamilyHistory.


*At the time, Floyda's second marriage license was not yet available publicly--the only way to see it was to pay for it. I believe in having the actual documentation for parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents in my hands so I can examine every detail. I really got my money's worth!

Friday, February 14, 2020

For You, Sweetheart, on Valentine's Day 1946

On their first Valentine's Day together as an engaged couple, my father (Harold D. Burk, 1909-1978) sent my mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981) this sentimental card.

The date was February 14, 1946.

Harry and Daisy met in October, 1945, on a date arranged by his aunt and her aunt. Harry had been serving overseas with the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II. When he returned home to New York City, he was 36 years old and looking for the right gal to settle down and start a family.

Daisy was ten years younger than Harry, a romantic who wanted very much to fall in love and get married. During the war years, she dated but didn't find anyone she wanted to spend her life with (according to her letters). Then her Aunt Rose and his Aunt Mary introduced Daisy to Harry.

They both were smitten. After a whirlwind courtship, Harry proposed to Daisy on New Year's Eve. They were engaged for six weeks when he sent her this frilly card on February 14, 1946.

Mom and Dad had hoped for an early wedding but due to the severe post-war housing shortage, among other reasons, they decided to get married in November of that year. That allowed enough time to gather both sides of the family for a very nice Thanksgiving weekend wedding in New York City.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Sepia Saturday and Saturday Night Genea-Fun

James Edgar Wood in his 1917 Ford, Summer of 1917
This week's Sepia Saturday ties in well with my response to Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge! So I combined the two.

Sepia Saturday: Posing with the Car

Above, a photo taken of my husband's grandfather, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) by hubby's father, Edgar James Wood, (1903-1986). Ed was only 14 when he took this photo of his father during a road trip from their home in Cleveland, OH to downtown Chicago, visiting Wood family members along the way. Ed had gotten a camera for his birthday and began a lifelong hobby of chronicling family activities.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Top 20 Surnames in Family Tree

Using RootsMagic7, and following Randy's instructions, I went to Reports, then Lists, scrolled down to "Surname Statistics List," and selected "Frequency of Surnames" from the list.

With 3,128 people in my husband's Wood family tree, I could have printed 17 pages for the "Frequency of Surnames" report. Instead, I printed only the first two pages. After that, the frequency of surnames dropped off sharply.

And the winner is . . . WOOD, which appears a total of 204 times (125 males, 78 females). The oldest date of a Wood ancestor record is 1551, the most recent date is 2019.

The top 20 are: Wood, Larimer, McClure, Work, Steiner, Slatter, McKibbin, Hilborn, Denning, Smith, Cushman, Brown, Taber, Nelson, Johnson, Bradford, Short, Caldwell, Rinehart, and Miller

By the time I got to Miller, there were only 17 appearances in the Wood family tree (11 males, 6 females), with the oldest date of 1803 and the most recent date of 2006. A Miller married a Work (the granddaughter of a Work-Larimer marriage) and that's how the Miller surname connects to my husband's Wood family tree.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Backup Is Cheap, Family Trees Are Priceless

Ancestry's instructions for downloading a family tree

One big reason I use RootsMagic7 genealogy software is to be able to sync with the family trees I've created on Ancestry.

Although I back up my RootsMagic trees every month or whenever I make major changes, I also like to download my Ancestry trees periodically.

It's easy to download a tree as a gedcom, as you can see from the above Ancestry screen shot. I give each downloaded tree a distinctive name AND date, so I can distinguish the "Wood" family tree download of February, 2020 from the "Farkas" family tree download of December, 2019.**

Keeping my family history safe is a top priority. Multiple backup processes (both RootsMagic and Ancestry trees backed up, stored on two hard drives, and stored daily in the cloud) may seem like a lot of duplication, but it offers me more options for restoring my trees, if ever the need arises.

Backup drives and cloud storage are relatively cheap -- carefully researched and documented family trees are priceless and deserve protection.

**RootsMagic will also download an Ancestry tree for me, including all media attached to the individuals--very convenient! I do this as well, but also like to keep a separate gedcom downloaded directly from Ancestry in case I need to recover.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Weddingest Months in His Family Tree

February 14, 1861 marriage of Adaline Steiner Sigler and John Dome in Crawford county, OH

My husband's family tree has one Valentine's Day wedding, among 25 marriages that took place in February. But February isn't the month with the most weddings in that family tree.

Valentine's Day Wedding

Above, the marriage license of Adaline Elizabeth Steiner Sigler (1837-1912) and John Dome 1824-1902). Adaline was my hubby's 2d great aunt, the sister of his great-grandfather Edward George Steiner.

Addie's first marriage was to Albert Sigler (1833-1858), who sadly died at the age of 24, just three months before their only child was born.

When this child was nearly three years old, Addie married for a second time. She and John Dome applied for the license on Thursday, February 14, 1861, and were married the same day. This was two months before the official start of the Civil War. John did register for the draft in July of 1863, but he was not called to serve.

By the time great-great-aunt Addie died, she was widowed again and a grandmother several times over.

August and December, the Weddingest Months

In my husband's family tree, the most weddings took place in August and December. According to the anniversary list I generated using my RootsMagic7 software, 40 couples were married in each of these months. By comparison, only 25 couples were married in February.

On the first day of August, 1722, Andrew Allen and Abiah Lovell were married in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Andrew and Abiah were my husband's 5th great-grandparents. This is the earliest August wedding in the anniversary list.

There were three New Year's Eve weddings on the anniversary list. On December 31, 1863, John N. McClure and Rebecca Jane Coble were married in Wabash county, Indiana. John was my husband's 2d great uncle. They were part of the McClure contingent that left Indiana to try farming in Emmet county, Michigan.

My husband's great-great-grandpa William Madison McClure, part of the contingent, briefly farmed in Little Traverse, Michigan before returning to Indiana. One of his four children was born in Little Traverse. That child was Grandpa Brice Larimer McClure, born on December 29, 1878. The other three were all born in Indiana.

I wrote this post for Elizabeth O'Neal's Genealogy Blog Party, February 2020 edition!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Two Ancestors Named Margaret Larimer

L-R, Lucille E. McClure with husband John E. De Velde
and mother Margaret Larimer McClure
My husband's family tree is filled with multiple versions of John, Mary, Elizabeth, and Thomas. Just one example: he has "John Slatter" ancestors in three generations.

Today I want to look at two female ancestors with the same maiden names but very different lives. Margaret Larimer Short was my husband's third great-aunt. Margaret Larimer McClure was my husband's great-grandmother. The two Margarets were granddaughters of Isaac Larimer and Elizabeth Wood Larimer.

Margaret Larimer Short, Pioneer Mother of Doctors and a Dentist 

Margaret Larimer was born in 1825 in Bremen, Fairfield county, Ohio. She was a granddaughter of Isaac Larimer and Elizabeth Wood Larimer, two Ohio Fever ancestors who were living in the "Territory north west of Ohio River" in 1800, according to a land-claim petition submitted to the U.S. Congress in 1801. These ancestors had moved from Pennsylvania to the frontier near the Ohio River in search of fertile farmland.

Isaac and Elizabeth's son John Larimer, a farmer, married Rachel Smith in 1818 in Bremen. Margaret was their third child (but first daughter). When Margaret was 11 years old, her father John purchased land in Elkhart county, Indiana, and was moved the family westward to pioneer in rugged country yet again.

In 1842, at age 16, Margaret Larimer married a farmer, Thomas Short, in Elkhart county, Indiana. Thomas was the son of pioneers, James Short (born in Ireland) and Frances Gilbert Short (also born in Ireland), who had left Pennsylvania for the wilds of Indiana. Thomas and his bride Margaret continued the pioneering spirit, farming in LaGrange county, Indiana. Of their ten children together, the youngest was only 11 when Margaret died in 1877, at the age of 52.

Remarkably, four sons of Margaret and Thomas became physicians, and one son became a dentist!

Margaret Larimer McClure, Mother of an Inventor and a Teacher

Margaret Jane Larimer was born in 1859, the youngest child of Brice S. Larimer and Lucy Emeline Bentley. Brice was a son of Ohio Fever pioneers Isaac Larimer and his wife Elizabeth (the common ancestor with Margaret Larimer Short). Lucy was a daughter of Indiana pioneers born in upstate New York.

Margaret's father Brice farmed only briefly before becoming a postmaster and then railroad agent in the fast-growing county of Elkhart, Indiana. Like the other Margaret Larimer, this Margaret married young, at age 17. Her husband was William Madison McClure, who grew up on his family's farm but decided to work for the railroad in Elkhart.

Not one of Margaret and William's children became a farmer, despite the long tradition of family farming on both sides of the family tree. Their youngest son, Hugh Benjamin McClure (1882-1960), became involved in industry, first as a shipping clerk, then a salesman, then the owner of a thriving manufacturing firm in Peoria, Illinois. Ben invented a folding machine and received a patent in 1954.

The older daughter, Lola, graduated from high school (not typical for the time and place), became a teacher, and married a civil engineer. The younger daughter, Lucille, embraced city life, marrying a plumber in Chicago and remaining in the Windy City.

The older son, Brice Larimer McClure, was a master machinist who worked for the railroad and, later, put his skills to use working in a company that supplied equipment for the U.S. military during World War II. This Brice was my husband's beloved grandfather.

This is the Week 6 prompt for #52Ancestors.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

1950 Census: Infant Card Innovation

Did you know about the 1950 Census Infant Cards?
When the 1950 US Census is released in April, 2022, we will NOT be able to see a new innovation introduced that year: Infant Cards.**

Here's the Census Bureau's explanation: "An infant card had to be completed for each baby born after January 1, 1950 (since experience had shown that babies are easily missed)."

The idea was to have enumerators ask specifically about any baby born in January, February, or March of 1950. This is in addition to enumerating the baby by name in the regular population schedule page. Below is a sample Infant Card.

Sample Infant Card from 1950 Census

Why are Infant Cards so valuable? Let me count the ways!

  • When listing the baby's name, enumerators were told to "check the spelling with the informant." Well, that alone is an improvement over the days when enumerators simply wrote down whatever they thought they heard!
  • The card asks whether father is enumerated in the same household as the infant--and if yes, name, age, occupation and industry of father. If no father in the household, no father info will be written on the Infant Card. A good clue to be followed up.
  • Exact date of birth of this baby. I'll be sending for birth certs!
  • Name of hospital, place of birth (the assumption is clearly that the infant will not be a home birth).
  • Maiden name of mother. Yippeeeee! 
  • Age of mother, education of mother (meaning highest grade finished).
Question #17 is very important for spotting gaps in families: It asks about the order of birth for this infant. Is this the 1st, 2d, 3d, etc. child the mother has ever borne?

In this question, the enumerator was to count all live births, including children who died.

Being a twin, I paid attention to the fine print here: If the Infant Card listed a twin, the birth order was to be recorded for each one separately. Instructions say not to call both twins "1st child" of the mother.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, according to the U.S. National Archives, infant cards will not be released when the 1950 population schedule is released in 2022. The National Archives does not have the cards--in fact, the cards don't seem to exist at this point.

For links to the rest of my #1950Census series, please check the summary page here.