Showing posts with label Wood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wood. Show all posts

Sunday, October 7, 2018

10 Generations Back: Last Wood Generation Born in England

This week's #52Ancestors challenge is 10 and there is no way I can go back that
far in my mother's or father's family trees.

However, my husband is a Mayflower descendant four times over and we can go back beyond 10 generations on his father's side. The Wood family intermarried with the Cushman family (Cushman of the Fortune married Mary Allerton and that's the basic Mayflower connection). Thank you to cousin Larry for uncovering new details as he traces the Wood tree year after year after year...

The tenth generation back is John Wood Jr. (1620-1704). This was the last Wood generation of my husband's family to be born in England. John Jr. was christened in St. George the Martyr Church, Surrey, England, on March 10, 1621, as shown at top. I was amazed to discover that this church was built in the 12th century.

John Jr.'s exact birth date is a mystery. His cemetery stone, not legible, only indicates 1620 as the birth year. We do know he married (for the third time) to Mary Peabody (1639-41?-1719) around 1656 in what is now Newport county, Rhode Island. John Jr. died in the same part of Rhode Island, as did his wife. Both are buried in the John Wood cemetery plot.

On my husband's mother's side, we can go back 9 generations to James Andrew McClure (1660?-?). In checking for anything new on this ancestor, I came across a fairly new (June, 2018) memorial on Find-a-Grave, saying that James died "at sea, on trip to America" in 1732, age 71-2.

Of course I wrote the originator of this memorial to ask about the source and any details. We already knew the McClure family left Donegal and sailed together to Philadelphia, Halbert with his wife Agnes and numerous children. I didn't realize Halbert's father James was with them. Maybe this will open up more research possibilities.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

"Gershwin Winner Plays for Meals"

My late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood, died 32 years ago today. He was born on August 13, 1903, and died on September 23, 1986. I remember him with fondness, although I knew him for too short a time.

Ed's day job was as insurance adjuster for an Ohio insurance firm. His real passion, for many decades, was playing piano as a professional musician.

Just a few days ago, the gentleman behind the blog Gershwin 100 found me by doing a search for a song he knew by name: Love Is a Boundless Ocean.

My father-in-law Ed had copyrighted that song in October, 1932. He wrote the music and his friend, George W. Teare, wrote the lyrics. The song was good enough to win Ed the opportunity to play in a Cleveland concert with the famous composer George Gershwin. The family was aware Ed had won a Gershwin contest. But we never saw the newspaper article with the full story until this blogger kindly sent it along.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer of January 21, 1934, Gershwin judged dozens of songs submitted to a contest sponsored by the newspaper. The contestants played their songs, one by one, as Gershwin listened and offered encouraging suggestions. He then announced that one would be played in his concert that evening. "We've chosen 'Love Is a Boundless Ocean' as the one best suited for our purpose," Gershwin explained.

The newspaper article actually adds a lot of color to my husband's family history. The reporter writes that Ed first paled and then flushed when announced as the winner. His comment was: "I'm stunned." Yet he immediately agreed when Gershwin asked him to play the winning song himself that evening at the concert.

Ed later told the reporter that he used to work in insurance, but was unemployed at that moment. He said, and I quote, that he now "plays to eat." Thus, the headline of the newspaper article:

"Gershwin Winner Plays for Meals"


Remember, this was deep in the Depression. Ed had a lot of experience playing piano to make his way through life, having played at Tufts to pay for college expenses and on ocean liners crossing the Atlantic during the Roaring Twenties.

According to the 1930 Census, Ed had worked as an insurance adjuster, and was living at the same Cleveland address (as a boarder) noted in the newspaper article of 1934. Even though he had been born in Cleveland and lived with his parents until going to college, his father had remarried (twice) after his mother died. His father moved to Jackson, Michigan, so Ed was a boarder in Cleveland for a number of years.

Now fast-forward a few weeks later in 1934, when Ed was working and met his future wife (Marian Jane McClure, 1909-1983) in that insurance office. On their first date, he took her to a party where he played piano for the guests. One thing led to another, and Ed and Marian married in 1935. In later years, they celebrated Valentine's Day as the anniversary of their "first date."

Ed never lost his job again, and he never stopped playing piano. He played on the morning of the day he died, we know from reading his diary. Thinking of my father-in-law with great affection on this day. And happy that my genealogy blog attracted the eye of the Gershwin blogger!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

How Our Grandparents Made a Living (or Not)

For this week's #52Ancestors prompt, "Work," I'm taking a look at how my grandparents and hubby's grandparents made a living. Both of us had one grandfather who worked with wood. That's where the similarities end. And this is another case of "don't believe everything in the census."

His grandparents (one immigrant, three grandparents with families long established in America)
  • Maternal grandpa Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970) was a master machinist. When he married maternal grandma Floyda Steiner in June of 1903, Brice was working for the "big four" railway shops in Wabash, Indiana (see newspaper clipping). His skills were in demand--especially during World War II, when he lied about his age to seem young enough to work in a Cleveland, Ohio machine shop vital to the war effort. 
  • Maternal grandma Floyda Mabel Steiner (1878-1948) was a full-time mother, but also supplemented her husband's income during the Depression by working in a Cleveland-area store and stretching the family's income as far as possible. 
  • Paternal grandpa James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) was a carpenter and builder in Toledo, Ohio and, after his marriage, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Alas, this grandpa was a good builder but not as good a businessman, according to his oldest son. In fact, most of the homes he constructed are still standing and solid after more than a century. James was the last of this line of the Wood family to be a carpenter. None of his four sons worked in carpentry or wood, nor his grandsons.
  • Immigrant paternal grandma Mary Slatter (1869-1925) was, according to the London workhouse admission register, a servant at age 19 in 1888. My guess was it was more of a low-level maid's position. She lived in Whitechapel and came from extreme poverty. Her mother had been confined to an insane asylum for years at that point. How Mary supported herself after arriving in America in 1895 and before marrying grandpa Wood in 1898, is a mystery.
My grandparents (all four were immigrants from Eastern Europe)



  • Maternal grandpa Tivador Schwartz (1887-1965) was a "clerk" in 1909-10, working as a runner for the steamship lines and working with immigrants like himself (according to census and his naturalization papers). By 1915, he listed his occupation on the NY census as "steamship agent," technically a correct interpretation of what I suspect was commission-based sales of tickets or insurance or both to immigrants. By 1917, he owned his own grocery store in the Bronx, work he continued until he finally retired in the late 1940s/early 1950s. His grandchildren have exhibited some of his entrepreneurial drive!
  • Maternal grandma Hermina "Minnie" Farkas (1886-1964) used her sewing skills to help support her family after arriving as a teenage immigrant in late 1901. A Roth cousin "did her a favor" (according to my Mom) and found her paid work as a necktie finisher (census backs this up). She continued to work on "gents' neckwear" until she married grandpa in 1911. Once her husband owned his own grocery store, she worked alongside him--long hours on their feet, which hurt their health in later years. Minnie passed her love of needlework, as a hobby, to a daughter and granddaughters.
  • Paternal grandpa Isaac Burk (1882-1943) left his hometown of Gargzdai, Lithuania with training as a cabinet maker. He and his older brother, Abraham, made their living through carpentry. The UK census of 1901 shows them both living with family in Manchester, England, occ: cabinetmakers, true because I've seen Isaac's work. The 1910 US census lists Isaac as a "storekeeper, candy" but I'm not sure how true or long-lasting that was--maybe a quick stopgap in between his carpentry work. Isaac's 1942 WWII "old man's draft" card says he was a manufacturer of dress forms, but again, I'm not sure this is strictly accurate. One of Isaac's brothers-in-law had a dress-forms business. Isaac might have worked there part-time, especially to qualify for what was then a fairly new Social Security program.
  • Paternal grandma Henrietta Mahler (1881-1954) is shown as being employed as a "stenographer," according to the 1900 census. Mind you, she was in the country for 14 years. She was 19 at the time of that census and, I gather, a quick study, but I'm not sure she really took dictation. Probably she worked at some office-type clerical job (typing) to help support the family. Very likely she did some work in the garment trade, because her younger sisters worked in lace, millinery, and garment factories, cousins tell me. After she married grandpa, Henrietta took care of their growing family and transported the kids back and forth between New York City, where her widowed mother and siblings lived, and Montreal, where Isaac sometimes worked with his brother Abraham.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Happy Blogiversary #10


Hard to believe that this is my 10th blogiversary. Above, the very first post I wrote in 2008, searching for when and where paternal Great-Grandpa Meyer Elias Mahler died. And, as sometimes happens, I had to retrace my steps and look at clues I'd already seen, checking with fresh eyes.

Making progress on family history projects begun since my last blogiversary:
  • Farkas Family Tree index. Thanks to a 2d cousin getting in touch, I have more family-tree association minutes to scan, index, and add to the thick book of minutes and historians' reports dating from 1933-1963. This will be finished before my next blogiversary. Here's a link to my popular post on how to index.
  • Farkas Family Tree letters. My wonderful cousin B has been helping me by proofreading my transcriptions of the WWII letters written by members of the Farkas Family Tree who served in the military. Almost done with that project.
  • Slatter and Shehen families. With the help of the Charles Booth poverty maps, I've been deepening my understanding of hubby's Slatter and Shehen family background in London. Turns out they were even poorer than I had imagined.
  • Wood family. Slowly continuing to scan and crop photos from the Wood family's 1972 trip to Venice for a planned photo book. The adults on that trip (and one or two kids) have shared memories to fill out the narrative. I need to begin arranging the photos and typing the captions, so the photo book will be ready by end of this year.
It was a year of learning and making connections! For the first time, I attended the amazing RootsTech conference and used the giant Family History Center in Salt Lake City. Next month, I will be at the New York State Family History Conference. In between, I've gone to numerous genealogy club meetings and gained new ideas from many expert speakers.

Speaking of speaking, my latest genealogy presentations include Do the "Write" Thing, Using Twitter and Facebook for Genealogy, and Genealogy 101. For next year, I'm prepping another new talk, Find Real Clues in Other People's Family Trees. And I was thrilled that my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, became a #1 Amazon Kindle best-seller this year.

As my 11th year of genealogy blogging begins, I want to say thank you. Thank you, dear cousins, for finding me and getting in touch. Thank you, dear readers, for being along on the journey.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Looking for Youngest Brides and Grooms Reveals Gaps

Thanks to the #52Ancestors prompts from Amy Johnson Crow, I'm learning more about the features available in my genealogy software of choice, RootsMagic7. Only with the help of the various reports and lists in this software can I identify the "youngest" of anything, which is this week's prompt.

At top, the "statistics" list I generated for my father's Burk Mahler family tree. Here, I learned that the youngest age at marriage of anyone in that tree was 18 for a female and 19 for a male. This is only for marriages where I know the birth dates/marriage ages of bride and groom, so the software can calculate statistics. As shown at top, there are 184 people with marriage ages included in this tree.
Directly above, the statistics list I generated for my mother's Schwartz - Farkas family tree, showing 117 people with marriage age noted in the tree. The youngest age for a woman at marriage was 15 1/2, compared with 17 for a man. Since some of these marriages took place in Eastern Europe in the mid-1800s, it's not too surprising that a bride would be this young.

Learning to use the reports is going to help me find anomalies and correct mistakes. For instance, a statistics list I generated for my husband's Wood family indicated that the minimum age for a male at marriage was 17.41. That's such a specific number. It could be correct, but I want to double-check. And I need to look more closely at missing marriage ages to see whether I can fill some of the gaps in my records. More research is in my future.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

How Many Generations Did My Ancestors Know?

This week, Randy Seavers' Saturday Night Gen Fun challenge is to count how many generations our parents or grandparents knew. I'm focusing on my great-
grandparents, who were fortunate enough to know more generations.

At top, the 25th anniversary photo of the Farkas Family tree at The Pines, a now-defunct Catskills resort. I'm one of the twins at bottom right. This family tree association was founded by the children of my maternal great-grandparents:
Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) and Leni Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938), who knew 4 generations that I can be sure of:
  • Their parents and siblings. His were Ferencz Farkas and Hermina Gross, hers were Shmuel Zanvil Kunstler and Toby Roth. Plus their siblings equals two generations. Not sure whether they ever knew their grandparents, not sure of any birth-marriage-death dates for their parents or grandparents.
  • Their 11 children: Alex, Hermina (hi Grandma!), Albert, Julius, Peter, Irene, Ella, Freda, Rose, Fred, Regina. Another generation, with full BMD info.
  • 16 of their 17 grandchildren. Yet another generation.
My paternal great-grandma probably knew 6 generations, more than anyone else on either side of the family, because she lived to be nearly 100.
Tillie Jacobs (185_-1952) married Meyer Elias Mahler (1861-1910). Meyer died young, but Tillie's long life allowed her to be at the weddings of her grandchildren and to meet her great-grandchildren, as indicated in her obit above:
  • Her grandparents, parents, and siblings. She was the daughter of Rachel Shuham Jacobs (184_-1915) and Jonah (Julius) Jacobs. Did she meet Rachel or Jonah's parents (whose dates I don't know)? Very likely, because both Rachel and Tillie married quite young. Counting her generation and her parents and grandparents, that's 3 generations.
  • Her 8 children: Henrietta (hi Grandma!), David, Morris, Sarah, Wolf (who died very young), Ida, Dora, Mary. Full BMD info on all, another generation.
  • Her grandchildren and great-grandkids. Two more generations. Lucky Tillie to be surrounded by her family.
My husband's maternal grandfather lived into his 90s and met many of his ancestors and descendants.
Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970) was married to Floyda Mabel Steiner (1878-1948). Brice knew 6 generations:
  • His grandparents, parents, and siblings. Brice's paternal grandparents were Benjamin McClure (1812-1896) and Sarah Denning (1811-1888). Brice's maternal grandparents were Brice S. Larimer (1819-1906) and Lucy E. Bentley (1826-1900). He knew both sides. His parents were William Madison McClure (1849-1887) and Margaret Jane Larimer (1859-1913). Counting Brice's siblings, this makes 3 generations.
  • His daughter. Brice and Floyda had one child, Marian Jane McClure (1909-1983). One generation.
  • His grandchildren and grandchildren. Brice and Floyda had three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren (all still living). Brice met all the grands and three of these great-grands. Two more generations counted.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Independence for Canadian and U.S. Ancestors

My husband's Slatter ancestors and my Burk/Burke/Berk ancestors both have strong ties to Canada and the United States. For Canada Day and the Fourth of July, both days celebrating independence, I'm summarizing their moves to these adopted home nations. And, of course, doing a little extra research in case new records have become available for these treasured ancestors. Note: Long post ahead!

HUBBY'S SLATTER ANCESTORS

Hubby's paternal great-grandfather was John Slatter (1838-1901), who married Mary Shehen (1837-1889) in Christ Church, Southwark, England, in 1859. John left London for Cleveland, Ohio, in 1888. That struck me as unusual, because his wife Mary died in 1889. Then I found out about her being confined in an asylum and...well, the light dawned.

Of the six children that John and Mary had together, three sons settled in Canada after the turn of the 20th century. They were the "Slatter bandmaster brothers" I've written about in the past. Two daughters settled in Ohio before the turn of the 20th century, following their father to that state. New career opportunities and new family lives awaited them as they left the past behind in England.
  • Albert William Slatter (1862-1935) was a distinguished military bandmaster trained in England who married Eleanor Marion Wilkinson (1865-?). He came to Canada in 1906, joined by his wife and six surviving children one year later. Albert long served as bandmaster of the 7th London (Ontario) Fusiliers, rising to the rank of Captain before his retirement.
  • John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954) became a world-renowned bandmaster who popularized the kiltie band. He was the first of his family to settle in Canada, in 1884. A few years after his 1887 marriage to Sophie Elizabeth Marie LeGallais (1862-1943) in Montreal, John moved his damily to Toronto and was the founding bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders Regiment of Toronto. That's Captain John Slatter pictured above, in full bandmaster regalia. He was, by all accounts, both kind and thoughtful.
  • Henry Arthur Slatter (1866-1942) was trained in  England and served in the military there before going to Vancouver with his wife, Alice Good (1864-1914). He became bandmaster of the 72d Seaforth Highlanders and soon enlisted to serve in WWI, despite being widowed with three children. After the war, he resumed his high-profile bandmaster role with the 72d Seaforth and was lauded for his leadership.
  • Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter (1868-1947) came to America after arriving in Quebec in 1895. She paid her own passage across the pond and told border authorities she was going to see her father, with $2.50 in her pocket. "Aunt Ada" (as she was known in the family) wound up marrying James Sills Baker in Toledo, OH. Her two grown daughters, Dorothy and Edith, later moved to Cleveland and were guests at the wedding of my sis-in-law.
  • Mary Slatter (1869-1926) was the baby of the Slatter family. She went from England to Toledo, Ohio in 1895, the same year as her sister Adelaide, and got married in 1898 to James Edgar Wood (1871-1939). By 1901, she and James had moved to Cleveland, where her father John Slatter was ailing (he died in her home that August). Mary had four sons with James and was a soothing and loving presence. Her unexpected death due to heart problems in 1925 was a terrible blow to her family.
MY BURK/BERK/BURKE/BERG ANCESTORS

My paternal great-grandfather was Solomon Elias Birck and paternal great-grandmother was Nekhe Gelle Shuham. To my knowledge, both were born and died in Lithuania (probably Gargzdai). I think they had seven children, of whom one remained in Lithuania (fate unknown) and the other six came to North America, seeking better lives and fleeing religious persecution.
  • Nellie "Neshi" Block (1865 or 1875?-1950) seems to have been the first in the family to arrive in North America, which surprised me. My grandpa Isaac said, on crossing from Canada to America in 1904, that he was going to see her in NYC. How Nellie got here, and when, I don't yet know. She was a fur operator, according to the Census, and the only Burk who never married.
  • Abraham Berk (1877-1962) and his brother Isaac left Lithuania and stayed in 1901 with an aunt and uncle in Manchester, learning English and earning money for the trans-Atlantic trip. A skilled cabinetmaker, Abraham married Anna Horwitch in Manchester, England, 117 years ago this month. He sailed to Montreal in 1902 while Anna remained behind to give birth to their first child. Abraham stood in as the patriarch of the Burk family when my father (his nephew) was married.
  • Isaac Burk (1882-1943) married Henrietta Mahler (1881-1954) in 1906. The photo at right shows them in 1936. I think their relatives in the old world knew each other, since Isaac and his brother Meyer "boarded" in the NYC apartment of Henrietta's family in 1905, and the surname "Shuham" is in both family trees. Isaac first went from Lithuania to Manchester, than to Canada, then crossed the border and took a train to New York. His sister Nellie was living in the same apartment building as the Mahler family. Isaac and family crossed from Canada to US numerous times before settling in the Bronx, NY. My quest to learn when and where my grandpa Isaac died started me in genealogy 20 years ago!
  • Meyer Berg (1883-1981) and his brother Isaac were "boarders" in the Mahler apartment, says the 1905 NY census. I learned more from Meyer's wonderful granddaughter, found via genealogy. In America, Meyer married Anna Peretz (1888-1981, maiden name might be Paris or Peris), and they had five children. One of Meyer's children was named Harold Berg, and he was the first cousin of my Dad, Harold Burk. Two Harolds in one generation, most likely named after the same dead ancestor, following Jewish naming traditions! Meyer died days after his 98th birthday.
  • Jennie "Shayna" Birk (1890-1972) was only a name in the Census, "boarding" in the Mahler apartment in 1910, until Meyer Berg's granddaughter told me more about her life. It looks like Jennie arrived in NYC from Lithuania in 1909 and worked in the garment industry. She married Paul Salkowitz (1889-1957) in 1919. They had no children together but were always loving and generous to their nieces and nephews. 
  • Matel "Max" Birk (1892-1953) was a complete mystery until recently. He arrived at Ellis Island in 1906, saying he was going to his brother Isaac Burk c/o M. Mahler (there's the Mahler family connection again). Tracked via the Census, Max was in the jewelry business, in Chicago and then in New York, where he married Rebecca Simon Chaiken (1897-1984) in 1936. They had no children but, like Jennie and Paul, were an affectionate aunt and uncle to their nieces and nephews.
Thanks, as always, to Amy Johnson Crow for this "independence" #52Ancestors prompt.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Jane: The Name in the Middle

Margaret Jane Larimer McClure at right, with daughter Lucille Ethel McClure
and son-in-law Edward DeVeld
My sis-in-law has always told me that Jane is the traditional middle name for females in her family.

Not in the family tree of my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood (1903-1986). One of Edgar's aunts was Jane Ann Wood Black (1846-1936), the eldest child of my husband's great-grandparents (Thomas Haskell Wood and Mary Amanda Demarest). None of the earlier Wood family females carry this middle name, so far as I can discover.

We learned that Jane is the most popular middle name in both sides of the family of the mother-in-law I unfortunately never met, Marian Jane McClure (1909-1983). She gave her daughter that middle name, and in turn my sis-in-law gave her daughter that middle name.

Marian's mother Margaret Jane Larimer (1859-1913) and grandmother Elizabeth Jane Rinehart (1834-1905) both had Jane as their middle name. Larimer and McClure ancestors often gave Jane as the middle name of one girl in each generation.

The McKibbin family, which intermarried with Larimer ancestors, included a number of women with Jane as their middle name. Same tradition in the Hilborn family, which intermarried with the Rinehart family.

By the way, I identified all the ancestors with "Jane" as a first or middle name by doing a search with my RootsMagic7 software. Very convenient way to prep for this #52Ancestors post.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Going to the Chapel - His Side of the Family

So many ancestors were married in June, in my husband's family tree and in my tree! I used RootsMagic7's calendar report to see who was married, when, and how long ago, tree by tree. This is a good opportunity to revisit my research, summarize what I know, see what's missing, and take the next step. Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this #52 Ancestors prompt.

Here are some of the early June marriages in my husband's tree:


  • June 3, 1903: Hubby's great-aunt Mary Amanda Wood married August Jacob Carsten 115 years ago in Toledo, Ohio. Sadly, Mary Amanda died at age 32, just months after giving birth to their fourth child. Mary Amanda was named for her mother, Mary Amanda Demarest Wood.
  • June 10, 1903: At top, the license application for hubby's Grandma Floyda Mabel Steiner and Grandpa Brice Larimer McClure, who married 115 years ago in Wyandot county, Ohio. Only through this record did I discover that Floyda had been married before. She was brave enough to divorce the first husband, who called her vile names and threatened her. Plus she won an alimony settlement!
  • June 12, 1856: My husband's 2d great-uncle Samuel D. Steiner married Maria L. Forrest 162 years ago in Crawford county, Ohio. While researching the Steiner family in Wyandot county a few years ago, I discovered that Samuel had been arrested for aiding/abetting burglary and not showing up in court. What happened? Don't know yet, but I did find Samuel at home in the 1880 census. 
  • June 13, 1847: My husband's 3d great-aunt, Elizabeth E. Bentley, married Emanuel Light 171 years ago in Elkhart, Indiana, as shown on the marriage license below. During the 1850s, Elizabeth and Emanuel left their home and traveled west, as her father had done in 1848 early in the Gold Rush. The Light family farmed in California. Despite years of research, the Bentley family's ancestors are still a bit of a mystery, one of my genealogical works in progress.


  • Wednesday, May 30, 2018

    Diary Entries Describe Decoration Day Traditions

    Today is the 150th anniversary of Decoration Day. The original purpose was to honor those who died serving in the Civil War by putting flowers on their graves. After World War I, the concept of Decoration Day expanded to decorating the graves of all U.S. military men and women who had died in wars.

    For decades, my late father-in-law, Edgar J. Wood (1903-1986) would drive his wife, Marian J. McClure Wood (1909-1983), from their home in Cleveland to Upper Sandusky, Ohio, for Decoration Day. In his diaries, he wrote "Decoration Day" on the space for May 30th and jotted notes about laying flowers on her relatives' graves. Interestingly, only one diary entry ever mentioned decorating his parents' graves in Highland Park Cemetery, Cleveland, and that took place on the day before Decoration Day.

    At top is a partial listing of Marian's relatives buried in Upper Sandusky's historic Old Mission Cemetery, including her mother, Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure (1878-1948). Also buried there are her aunts, uncles, and grandparents. None of these folks had fought or died in war; it seems it was family tradition to honor the memories of much-loved relatives by laying flowers on their graves every Decoration Day.

    According to the diaries, Edgar and Marian would pick up her father, Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970), for the drive to Old Mission Cemetery, where they laid flowers and had a picnic nearby. If it was raining, they ate in the car. Then they visited relatives in the area, such as Marian's Aunt Carrie Steiner Traxler (1870-1963), before driving home.

    For this generation of my husband's family, Decoration Day was a day of remembering those who had passed away and spending time with family members they rarely saw.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    So Many Ancestors, So Many Languages

    For #52Ancestors #20, I'm trying to identify the different languages spoken by key ancestors in my family tree and my husband's tree.

    My paternal grandparents (above) probably spoke three languages apiece. Grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk (1881-1954) was born in Latvia, and surely spoke Latvian as well as English and, I'm guessing, Yiddish. Possibly she spoke Russian too, although I don't know for sure.

    Her husband, Isaac Burk (1882-1943) was born in Lithuania, and spoke that language plus Russian and maybe even Yiddish in addition. Isaac certainly picked up some English when he stopped in Manchester, England, to stay with family in 1901, en route from Lithuania to North America.
    My maternal grandparents also spoke multiple languages. Grandpa Theodore Schwartz (1887-1965), shown above escorting my mother down the aisle at her wedding, had a way with languages. His native Hungarian tripped off his tongue, but he could also speak several other languages, including English--which is why the steamship lines employed him in NYC as a runner around Ellis Island in the 1910s.

    His wife, Hermina Farkas Schwartz (1886-1964), was fluent in Hungarian, having been born there, and learned Yiddish in the Lower East Side of NYC as an immigrant. Also she learned English in NYC night school.

    In my husband's Wood family tree, there are three adult Mayflower ancestors (Degory Priest, Isaac Allerton, Mary Norris Allerton). Therefore, in addition to English, they may have learned some Dutch when the Pilgrims fled to the Netherlands prior to sailing to the New World. Once in Plymouth, perhaps they learned a few words to talk with Native American tribes? Photo above shows my late father-in-law (Edgar James Wood, 1903-1986) at left with two of his Wood brothers.

    Also in my husband's McClure line, his ancestor Halbert McClure (1684-1754) was born in County Donegal, and sailed to Philadelphia with his family in the 1740s. Because the McClures were originally from Isle of Skye, hubby's ancestor may have spoken Scottish Gaelic or Gaelic (or both). On arrival in the American colonies, however, the McClures would most likely have learned English, because they walked from Philadelphia to Virginia. They would probably need to speak English to buy provisions along the way. Once in Virginia, they bought land--again, a transaction that probably required English.

    Friday, May 11, 2018

    Remembering Ancestral Mothers with Love

    A tribute to the ancestral mothers in my family . . . 
    And in my husband's family . . . 

    They are loved and remembered, not just on Mother's Day!

    Friday, April 20, 2018

    Do the "Write" Thing for Genealogy, Part 3: Find the Drama

    When you think about writing your family's history, look for the drama that may be below the surface (or in plain sight).

    Remember: You know more than you think you know! Gather your Census data, vital records, Bible entries, photo albums, news clippings, and whatever else pertains to the person or people in the story you want to tell.

    Jot notes about your memories and ask relatives what they remember about a particular ancestor or couple, a family occasion or situation, or a special photo (wedding portrait, for instance).

    All of this will help you identify key points and people in your family's history, and uncover the drama that you can play up in your narrative.

    If you're lucky enough to have letters, diaries, or interviews, go through and select quotes that add color and personality to your ancestors and reflect the drama in their lives.

    Above, a quote from my late father-in-law, Edgar J. Wood, who said this 30+ years ago when my husband interviewed him about his earlier life and his love of playing the piano. The quote hints at the conflict between Ed and his father. It also explains why Ed had to play in so many jazz bands to make money for tuition, room, and board at Tufts, where he was in college during the 1920s.

    The conflict came to a boiling point when Ed's mother, Mary Slatter Wood, died unexpectedly near the end of Ed's senior year. After Ed returned home for the funeral, he never lived at home again. He left college a few weeks later, not able to pass a language course needed for graduation. Then he moved to New York City and tried to make a living through his music. More drama!

    What dramatic moments or conflicts are in your family's past? Look for them and use them to "hook" your readers.

    This is an excerpt from my latest genealogy presentation, "Do the 'Write' Thing for Genealogy."

    Tuesday, April 3, 2018

    Doing the "Write" Thing for Family History

    In my first post about writing family history, I suggested picking one ancestor/surname, one occasion, or one photo as the focus for writing something.

    When possible, try to turn any family history writing project into a family-wide activity. Use materials from your genealogy collection to get relatives excited about documenting that person or occasion and to stimulate their memories. The more stories they hear, the more stories they can recall, the better!

    Here's the special occasion I'm using as the focus of my next family history writing project: a 1972 Venice trip taken by all the adult children, spouses, and young grandchildren of Marian McClure Wood (1909-1983) & Edgar James Wood (1903-1986).

    The family trip was intended as a reunion for the entire family, then scattered across the country. Marian paid for everyone's travel, hotel, and meals, using the modest inheritance she received when her father (Brice Larimer McClure, 1878-1970) died.

    My first step was to photocopy Edgar Wood's diary entries from that period in 1972 and send to my husband's siblings and the grown children. These day-by-day notes helped spark memories as they thought back to the reunion 46 years in the past.

    Next, my hubby sorted through several binders and a file box to select several dozen 35mm slides to transfer into digital images as possible illustrations for this booklet. Naturally, he concentrated on finding slides featuring family members, with just one or two famous landmarks to set the scene.

    Before doing any writing, we'll print the images four or six to a page and send to the family for more comments and memories. Then we'll organize the booklet itself, devoting the majority of pages to the weeklong reunion.

    Each of Marian & Edgar's adult children went on to other European cities after the family reunion in Venice. So I'm going to devote a page or two to each of those post-reunion adventures, to personalize the booklet even further and encourage story-telling within the family.

    Stay tuned for more about doing the "write" thing for family history!

    NOTE: For ideas about preserving family stories and planning for the future of your genealogical collection, please see my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available from Amazon and from the bookstore at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

    Sunday, April 1, 2018

    Born on March 31: Charles Francis Elton Wood

    March 31, 1891 was the birthdate of my husband's 1st cousin, 1x removed: Charles Francis Elton Wood (1891-1951). Charles's birthdate is on both of his wartime draft records and on his death cert.
    The son of a painter, Charles was a farmer originally. Then he went to work as a baker for the Jersey Bread Company in Toledo, Ohio. He continued to work as a baker until he died, suddenly and tragically, in the fall of 1951, as a result of a traffic accident in Salt Lake City.
    But Charles has a second family connection on the tree. His mother-in-law, Carolina "Carey" Foltz Cragg (1871-?), became my husband's step-grandma for nearly a decade by marrying James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) in 1928. The marriage was arranged by the families to put widowed Carey together with widowed/divorced James in Jackson, MI. By the time Grandpa James died in 1939, however, he was living in Cleveland, OH, and Carey was not with him. Did she die first? Still searching for her death info. Not April fooling, either.

    This post was inspired by Randy Seaver's prompt of "which ancestors were born on this date" for his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun


    Sunday, March 25, 2018

    Easter Greetings in Family History

    By following the addresses and dates on holiday postcards sent to young Wallis W. Wood (1905-1957) in Cleveland, Ohio, I can see where the family was living and when, and who was staying in touch. Above, a beautiful penny postcard sent to Wallis by his aunt Nellie (Rachel Ellen Wood Kirby) and uncle Arthur Kirby in Chicago for Easter in 1914. Wallis was my husband's uncle.
    "Aunt Nellie" was, it seems, the favorite sister of Wallis's father, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939). They remained close as adults and his children received many postcards from this beloved aunt.

    James Edgar Wood's oldest son, Edgar James Wood (1903-1986), grew up and married Marian Jane McClure (1909-1983) in Cleveland in 1935. Above, an Easter-time photo of Marian at age 4 (as inscribed on the back--let me thank the ancestors for captioning!).

    As an only child, she was cherished by her parents, Floyda Steiner McClure (1878-1948) and Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970). After Marian married Ed, he became close to her parents and they had a good relationship all of their lives.

    Honoring the memory of my husband's ancestors as Easter approaches and writing down their family history for future generations to know and enjoy!

    Monday, March 12, 2018

    Have You Seen Shamrocks for New Year's?

    My husband's Wood family includes a few Irish ancestors (which I'll write about later this week). But his Wood relatives also liked to send New Year's greeting cards with shamrocks*--oooooops, four-leaf clovers for luck on New Year's. The cards had nothing to do with Irish connections, only with warm wishes for luck in the coming year.
    Here are four of the colorful postcards sent to hubby's uncle, Wallis Walter Wood, during the 1910s. Isn't the little piglet above adorable? What a pig has to do with clover, I don't know, but the illustration is cute for a young recipient.
    One card sent good wishes for luck in finding that pot of gold...a prosperous new year.
    Another card featured a new-fangled flying machine (today it would be called "steampunk") equipped with a four-leaf clover propeller. Bet this aviation theme captured the imagination of the young boy who received the card!

    *Thanks to Dara for correcting me on shamrocks vs. four-leaf clovers! Much appreciated. I'm horticulturally challenged, it seems.

    Friday, February 23, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Friday, February 9, 2018

    Learning from Valentines Sent in the Last Century

    In my husband's Wood family, staying in touch was a high priority. Cousins and aunts and uncles sent penny greeting cards to the children for every conceivable occasion. Above, one of the pretty postcards sent to Wallis W. Wood, hubby's uncle, for Valentine's Day in 1912. The sender was Wallis's aunt Nellie (Rachel Ellen) Wood Kirby, who lived in Chicago with her husband, Arthur Kirby. Nellie never spelled her nephew's name correctly on these cards, for some reason.
    Thanks to the greeting cards, I can trace the movement of the Wood family from one Cleveland neighborhood to another in between Census years. The head of the family, James Edgar Wood, was a home builder who would construct a house on spec, move his family in, and finish the interior while simultaneously framing another home on spec.

    Hubby's father, Edgar James Wood, was a child at the time. He recalled that period in an interview 70 years later, remembering that in one spec house, "the first two floors weren't finished at all, we were living in the attic!" A vivid and not particularly happy memory for him, apparently.

    In my family, Mom (Daisy Schwartz) preserved the first Valentine sent to her by Dad (Harold Burk), in February, 1946. It was a traditional, romantic card with ribbon embellishment.

    Daisy and Harold had had a whirlwind courtship after he came home from WWII in October, 1945. They were set up on a date by two "matchmaker" aunts, fell in love, and became engaged on the last day of 1945.

    Although Daisy and Harold wanted a short engagement, the post-war housing shortage prevented them from finding a convenient, affordable New York City apartment. They had to settle for a wedding date in November, 1946. With so many months to plan, there was enough time for both families to gather in force.

    The wedding photos are, 70 years later, a treasure trove of clues to family history. When I asked three of my mother's first cousins to help me identify people in my parents' photos who were unfamiliar to me, they assumed these "unknowns" were "family friends."
    They vaguely remembered the names and faces of the "unknowns" but knew nothing else, even though they had been at the wedding in 1946.

    When I dug deeper into the names and marriages of the "unknowns," in every case, these wedding guests turned out to be cousins. Cousins of the parents of the bride or groom! These connections led me to finding a lovely group of 2d cousins 1x removed. Now, any time I see a group wedding photo from my family's albums, I don't assume that unfamiliar faces are "family friends." Maybe they're cousins in disguse!

    Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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

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

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


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

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