It's been a very long time since I was able to say "Happy Mother's Day" to my mother, Daisy Ruth Schwartz Burk (1919-1981). She is still much beloved and much missed, not just on Mother's Day. Above, a formal portrait of Mom as a young lady.
Marian Jane McClure
Alas, I never had the opportunity to meet my husband's mother, Marian Jane McClure Wood (1909-1983). An only child lavished with love by doting parents, she's shown above in her 20s. How I wish I could have gotten to know her. She's remembered with great affection on this Mother's Day.
No, not Elton John. More than a century ago, "Master Wallace Wood" in Cleveland, Ohio received this penny postcard from his relative "Elton" in Toledo, Ohio.
"Master Wallace" was an inaccurate but common misspelling of my husband's uncle Wallis Walter Wood (1905-1957). The correct spelling is in pencil, below the greeting from "Elton," the sender.
Which Elton in the Wood Family?
Originally, when I saw this, I thought the sender might be Marion Elton Wood (1867-1947). He was an uncle. A few of the Wood aunts and uncles wrote to their nephew, I know from reading all those post cards.
But rereading recently, it dawned on me that this had to be a young person writing, the way Wood first cousins were encouraged (possibly strongly encouraged, as in "you will do this") to send postcards to each other for holidays and birthdays.
The handwriting doesn't look like that of a very young person, but probably a teen. So the sender was, I now realize, almost certainly Charles Francis Elton Wood (1891-1951), the son of Marion Elton Wood in Toledo, Ohio.
About the Younger Elton
The younger Elton and Wallis Walter Wood were first cousins. They each had many first cousins because their fathers were among 17 siblings. Imagine a lot of penny postal greetings flying through the mails between all these cousins!
The younger Elton went by the name "Elton" in the 1910 US Census, where he is shown as as "Elton C.F. Wood." His parents, Marion Elton Wood and Minnie C. Miller, told the Census they had had 2 children in all but only 1 was now living--the younger Elton.
By 1918, when the younger Elton filled out his WWI draft registration card, he was a farmer living in Lenawee, Michigan, with a wife and child. By 1920, when the US Census was taken, "C. Elton Wood" and his growing family were living back in Toledo, where he was a "city salesman" for a bakery. His occupation was still "salesman" in the 1928 Toledo city directory and the 1930 US Census (where he was "Elton C.F. Wood.")
By 1940, the younger Elton is listed as "Charles F. Wood" and his occupation in the Census is "shipping foreman." His WWII draft registration card shows him working for a bakery. His name is now listed as "Charles Francis Elton Wood."
Unfortunately, Elton died in a car accident 1951. His death cert calls him "Charles Francis Elton Wood" but his obit in the Toledo Blade newspaper calls him "Wood, Elton."
The name "Elton" did live on in, as the middle name of one the younger Elton's grandsons.
It's that time of year again, when I send younger relatives St. Patrick's Day cards, along with my updated list of their Irish ancestors. In the past, I've noted Larimer, O'Gallagher, Smith, Shehen, and McClure (lived in Donegal area for several generations, but family originally from Isle of Skye).
This year, I'm saying fáilte to a new Irish ancestor in the long list I send with my cards. "New" means "new to me" now that I've extended the Wood family tree far back enough to find the clue, thanks to a hint from Ancestry's new ThruLines feature.
Zerviah Wood Senior's Mother-in-Law
Hubby's 4th great-grandma was Rhoda Eldridge (1730-1799), married to Zerviah Wood (1731-1817). ThruLines suggested that Rhoda's mother--Zerviah's mom-in-law--was Hannah O'Kelley or Killey (1703-1734). Several records indicated that connection and I added her to the tree, continuing to research for more confirmation.
Judging by her name, Hannah O'Kelley was most likely descended from a family from the Emerald Isle.
Jeremiah O'Kelly, Son of David "The Irishman"
Records were admittedly sketchy back in the 1600s, but two compiled family histories mention that Hannah's father, Jeremiah O'Kelley (16??-1728) was the son of an immigrant, David O'Kelley or O'Killia (1645?-1697). David's nickname in the Cape Cod area where he lived was "the Irishman."
David "the Irishman" O'Kelley was probably my husband's 7th great-grandpa. More research is in my future to confirm the details!
For St. Patrick's Day, I'm saying fáilte to this newest on the list of Wood ancestors from Ireland.
My pre-1900 ancestors and those of my husband usually had large families. Their late 19th/early 20th century descendants had markedly smaller families. It's a familiar pattern, repeated over and over again, with fewer children in each succeeding generation.
Wood Family: 17 Kids
Hubby's paternal great-grandfather Thomas Haskell Wood (1809-1890) and great-grandmother Mary Amanda Demarest (1831-1897) had 17 children together.
Unfortunately, 7 of the children didn't survive to adulthood. Of their grown children, one had 10 children but most had only a handful of kids. Rachel "Nellie" Wood had 2 children with her first husband, Walter A. Lewis, for instance. Families were smaller still in the following generation.
Descendants tell me that when the oldest of Thomas's and Mary Amanda's children were grown, married, and raising families, their much younger siblings were still in school.
McClure Family: 10 Kids
Hubby's maternal great-great-grandfather Benjamin McClure (1812-1896) and his wife Sarah Denning (1811-1888) had 10 children together. Two didn't survive to adulthood (still checking on the fate of one of them).
None of their grown children had as many children. One married but had no children. By the next generation, the largest number of kids was six; one in this next generation married but had no children.
Mahler Family: 8 Kids
On my father's side of the family, great-grandfather Meyer Mahler (1861-1910) and great-grandma Tillie Rose Jacobs (185?-1952) had 8 children together. All but one survived to adulthood.
Three of the adults had no children, the rest had 5 or fewer children, the usual pattern. By the time Meyer & Tillie's grandchildren were marrying, the families were even smaller.
Farkas Family: 11 Kids
On my mother's side of the family, great-grandpa Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) and great-grandma Leni Kunstler (1865-1938) had 11 children together. Two of the sons never married (and were "bachelor brothers"), one son married but had no children, and the other 8 married and had either 2 or 3 children apiece.
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this #52Ancestors prompt.
The new Ancestry ThruLines feature is a step forward in understanding how DNA matches *might* fit on a family tree. This feature also suggests "potential ancestors" to add to a tree.
The key is to understand that names, dates, relationships all depend on the accuracy of other people's trees. As with any info found online or provided by someone else, it's up to me to investigate and verify or disprove each potential ancestor and possible DNA match.
Pick Your Ancestor
ThruLines is arranged by most recent ancestor and stretches back to most distant ancestor. Above, a snippet of the 100 ancestors/"potential ancestors" on my husband's ThruLines page. That makes it easy to investigate links to specific ancestors of interest. I can be as systematic as I like in drilling down into my husband's father's side or mother's side, in a particular generation.
As shown, one of these "potential ancestors" is not marked as male or female, and is actually "private" because he or she is listed on a family tree not made public by the owner.
Well, not that private. I blocked out the info, but it was easy to figure out exactly who this "potential ancestor" was and the gender, too, without contacting the owner of the private tree. It was listed in the "private tree" notification above.
To check, I returned to my tree and looked at the outstanding hints for this branch. One second later, I had the details from sources other than the private tree, sources more objective and verifiable. So it actually helped me get a generation back. Unfortunately, there were NO DNA matches associated with this ancestor (nor for the spouse).
And in case I wasn't sure, right next to this "private" "potential ancestor" was listed his wife, Hannah O'Killey. Just in time for St. Paddy's Day, a possible new Irish ancestor to research and confirm.
Interestingly, the person who posted Hannah O'Killey's info on a public tree is NOT a DNA match for my husband, which is a disappointment and raises the question of whether this is an actual ancestor for one or both of us. My husband has no DNA matches through Hannah, according to Ancestry. Hmm.
Finding a Match
To find an actual DNA match in ThruLines, I started at the most recent ancestor and worked my way backward to hubby's great-granddaddy, Thomas Haskell Wood. That's where I finally found two cousins previously unknown to me, each of whom had more than 20 centimorgans in common with my husband.
Although neither of these cousins had anything new on their trees, at least I now know who they are and can be in touch to share info.
For the vast majority of the 100 ancestors on hubby's ThruLines page, Ancestry shows NO DNA matches.
Check Those TreeTags
Working through the ancestors on my own ThruLines page, it quickly became clear that my "potential ancestors" were highly speculative. I noticed suggested ancestors plucked from trees I already knew were not supported by good sources.
Here's where Ancestry's other new feature, MyTreeTags, would be very, very useful.
The idea is to be able to indicate the research status of a particular person on a tree. For instance, I could note that someone is a "hypothesis" (meaning I'm testing whether someone fits, based on DNA or other evidence).
Or I could note someone is "unverified" (meaning I got the info from somewhere but have done nothing to check its accuracy).
After looking, I can see that some of the trees that appear in hints or "potential ancestor" suggestions have inaccurate info and few if any sources other than other trees.
To be helpful, I've contacted tree owners in the past to say, for example, that although my grandma is shown on their tree, it's highly unlikely that she is actually related to the people on their tree. Dates, places, names don't add up, I point out tactfully. I invite them to please look at my tree and the documented evidence that proves who she is. Of course, I can't rule out that maybe there's something I don't know about my grandma?!
Usually I hear nothing, or I get a note saying their tree is a work in progress, with hypotheticals. Or the note says the tree is being built for a friend who had a couple of clues, and my info will be passed along to the friend for consideration. Those trees are often left as is, unfortunately.
As I work on my public trees, I'm going to try to use MyTreeTags to alert others when someone is a hypothesis or unverified, in particular, as a red flag to verify before accepting anything as a fact!
My husband's uncle, Wallis Wood (1905-1957), received a lot of penny postal greeting cards from "Aunt Nellie."
Most, like the Valentine's Day card at left, included the name and/or signature of "Uncle Arthur" (as shown below).
"Aunt Nellie" was Ellen Rachel "Nellie" Wood (1864-1954).
Nellie was a younger sister of Wallis's father. I know a lot about her. I've even written about her here, at least a dozen times over the years.
But this post is not really about the valentine. It's about how I had to relearn two key lessons.
Aunt Nellie married twice
For this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "love," I thought it would be fun to write a bit more about Nellie's two marriages: Her first to Walter and her second to Arthur.
Not long after Y2K, I added Nellie and her two husbands to my Wood family tree. So I clicked on the tree to check on what I know. Uh-oh.
Sources? What sources?
I found their names on the tree. I even had a marriage date and place for her Nellie's first wedding. But no sources.
Not good. I had put Nellie, Walter, and Arthur on my tree before I was consistent about citing my sources.
Now I'm forced to retrace my steps to demonstrate how I "know" what I think I know about Nellie, Walter, and Arthur. But that's not my only lesson.
Always read the original!
Nellie's first marriage, at the age of 20, was to Walter Alfred Lervis Sr. (1860-1897). Or so I had recorded all those years ago. I even had a specific date. But alas, no certificate attached.
After well more than an hour of finding nothing on the usual sites, I decided to look for Walter's son, whose existence I had noted on my tree, along with his wife's name.
Yay! I found his marriage cert. Gulp.
His father's surname is clearly shown, on the original cert, as Walter Lewis. Plugging that in, I immediately came up with Nellie and Walter's marriage cert. It showed LEWIS. Not Lervis. For all these years, I've had this man listed with an incorrect surname. Until now. Shame on me!
Capture the source as an image
Why blog about my mistakes? This re-do has one big advantage: Now that I've found the documentation, I'm doing screen shots and adding the media to my tree as genealogical proof.
This way, if the certs or other sources are ever withdrawn from public view or are otherwise unavailable, the images proving my sources will be on the tree. As images, not just links to online sources.
City directories were published frequently, making them an important source of info during years that fall between the Census. There's some element of luck--are directories available for the town or city where an ancestor lived? Are the directories available for the years being researched? But when the answer to both questions is yes, directories are fabulous for showing who was there, at that time and place. Equally important, a directory can indicate who is NOT there.
I just used directories to help solve a long-standing family history mystery. It all started with the complicated marital affairs of my husband's grandfather, James Edgar Wood. As I wrote yesterday, he married Mary Slatter in 1898, and when she died in 1925, he married Alice Hopperton Unger. In the spring of 1928, James divorced Alice. Later that year, James married Carolina "Carrie" Foltz Cragg (an in-law of his nephew).
Looking for Carrie Wood's Listing
What became of Carrie? She wasn't with James when he died. In fact, his death cert says he was widowed, and lists his deceased wife as Mary (the first wife). The informant was James's oldest son, who presumably was aware of at least one of the two marriages after Mary Slatter Wood's death. Like I said, it was complicated. Anyway...
My next stop was the Census, where Carrie was shown with James in 1930 in Jackson, Michigan, the same city where they were married in 1928.
Next, I looked at the city directories for Jackson, Michigan. Carrie was listed with James up to the year 1933. See the entry, at top, for that year.
But Carrie was missing from James's listing in 1935 in Jackson. Where did she go?
The wonderful cousin who's our long-time Wood genealogist suggested I look in Toledo (where James was born and where one of Carrie's grown children lived) or Cleveland (that's where James died). I found no Carrie Wood in the Toledo city directory, not even in the household of her daughter and son-in-law, who were listed in the directories. Then I tried something different.
Breakthrough Via Carrie's Grown Children
I looked at Carrie's other two children in the 1930s. One was married in 1935 in Jackson, MI. His actual marriage license was available and when I looked closely, I noticed one of the witnesses was . . . Carrie, his mom! There was her address--in Toledo, living with a daughter. Carrie was missing from the Toledo city directory, but she was noted on her son's marriage license in Jackson, where she must have gone for the wedding.
Now I returned to Family Search and looked for the death of Carolina Wood in Toledo, Ohio, between 1935 and 1939. I chose 1939 as the end date because that was when James died.
Immediately, up popped the death certificate for Caroline Wood. She had been diagnosed with cancer in 1933 and died in October, 1935, in Toledo.
This is definitely the correct Carrie because her daughter is the informant and lists Carrie's father's name, country of birth, and so on. The details are a good match, except for the name being "Caroline" instead of "Carolina." Carrie's address at the time of her death was the same as that of her daughter, the informant. So when Carrie became ill, it seems she went to live with her daughter, who took care of her until her death.
And to think it was Carrie's absence from the Jackson city directories after 1933 that provided a crucial clue in the trail of research that led to finding her final resting place in Woodlawn Cemetery, Toledo.
This is a photo of my husband's grandpa, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939). At the time of this photo, he was married to grandma Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925), and they made their home in Cleveland, Ohio. After Mary died, James married his nephew's mother-in-law: Carolina "Carrie" Foltz Cragg (1871-?). The marriage was arranged to put a widow and a widower together, so neither would be alone, I was told by my husband's genealogist cousin.
Surprise! Wife #2 Before Wife #3
Several years ago, I unexpectedly discovered that James was married to wife #2 before he married Carrie. Wife #2 was Alice HoppertonUnger (1884-1930), who married James in Cleveland in September, 1926.
My late father-in-law (James's oldest son) said--in a 1980s interview--he believed his father married his housekeeper and there was some "hanky-panky" involved. With hindsight, it sounds like he was thinking of Alice, not Carrie, but he never named the woman and didn't have much to say about the whole thing.
Not so long ago, I found Alice's death cert and learned that she died in 1930 of heart problems. James married wife #3 in October, 1928. Obviously, James's marriage #2 was somehow dissolved before Alice's death and his marriage to wife #3. I narrowed the time frame to 1927-8 and began searching for divorce papers. I really wanted to know more to help round out our understanding of James as a person, and his relationships to people around him.
Surprise! James vs Alice AND Alice vs James
Don't hesitate to look for divorce records. I called the clerk of the court at Cuyahoga County's to ask about divorce records from 1927-8. I was told to send an email with specific details. A few weeks later, the county clerk called me to say they had located the divorce records! They popped a photocopy in the mail to me for free. Twenty-five pages of divorce records! Surprisingly, not only did James try to divorce Alice, Alice filed her own petition for divorce soon afterward.
According to the paperwork, James filed for divorce on March 12, 1927. He complained that he and Alice had been separated since February, 1927. He charged she was "guilty of gross neglect of duty and extreme cruelty" toward him, saying she "refused to provide this plaintiff with his meals, laundry and care and neglected her household duties." He further complained that Alice "refused to bear children for him."
Bear in mind that James was 57 years old at the time he filed for divorce, and Alice was 43. James's youngest child was already 17. Hard for me to believe that James really wanted children with Alice, or that Alice was eager to have children, but this is only speculation. I believe James's complaint relates to the "hanky-panky" my father-in-law remembered (his words, not mine).
For her part, Alice sued James for divorce in April, 1927. She said James hit her, causing her to leave their home the very next day; he was "quarrelsome" and was "penurious," not wanting to spend "for the necessities of life." Leading up to the separation, Alice had been ill and unable to perform household duties, yet James "refused and neglected to provide any help or assistance in the care of his household and was abusive in his talk."
Unfortunately, in this "he said, she said" situation, we can't really know the truth of what happened between James and Alice. All we have is the dueling divorce petitions.
James Wins Divorce, Alice Wins Alimony
By spring of 1928, the two divorce petitions were consolidated into one. James prevailed, winning his divorce and holding onto all the property he had brought into their brief marriage. Alice won a lump-sum alimony payment of $300 (the equivalent of $4,100 today). The payment was reduced to $250 if James paid within 30 days. Alice was most likely even sicker by this point and needed the money right away. .
Six months after the divorce from wife #2, James married wife #3, Carrie Cragg, and they moved to Jackson, MI. What happened to Carrie? I'm still searching for her death, because Carrie did not apparently accompany James when he returned to Cleveland and died in the home of his older son in 1939.
What About Carrie?
Were James and Carrie divorced? Not that I can find. Was he too ill for Carrie to care for? Or did Carrie not want to go to Cleveland with James at the end of his life? Where and when did Carrie die?
Turns out, she went back to Toledo, where she died (informant for death cert was one of her children). Why she and James split up, I don't know.
Thanks, as always, to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors challenge.
My husband's family tree has lots and lots of traditional given names plus a few clearly patriotic names.
Among the most popular names on the tree is Thomas (there are 41 in the tree so far). Above, the 1860 Census record from Cabell county, VA (now Huntington, WV) showing Thomas Haskell Wood (1809-1890) and his son Thomas Jefferson Isaiah Haskell Wood (1848-1861). Sadly, young Thomas drowned before he turned 13 years old.
Young Thomas was born on the 4th of July, 1848. That was 22 years after President Thomas Jefferson died on the 4th of July, 1826. Perhaps that was one reason he was named after this president? The Wood tree contains only one other "Jefferson" given name, and he was born late in the 20th century.
Last year, I wrote about the 139 times John appears in this tree. Other popular male names on the tree are: Robert (43 instances), Charles (39 instances), and Samuel (21 instances).
On the female side, after the ever-popular Mary (121 instances), the most popular are: Elizabeth (54 instances), Ann/Anne/Anna (36 instances), and Margaret (35 instances).
My husband's family has a number of other patriotic-sounding names, including:
Benjamin Franklin Steiner, Benjamin Franklin Smith, and George Washington Howland.
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "unusual names."
As the new year begins, I have four projects in the works for completion by January.
Two are for my husband's Wood family and two are for my Farkas family.
Above, project #1: Integrating the index entries for 1940-1944 meetings of the Farkas Family Tree association meeting minutes into the full index for the years 1933-1964.
I had previously created the index for minutes, not able to include most of the WWII years because they were missing from my cousin's collection. Then in 2018, a 2d cousin found the missing minutes and I scanned them and indexed just that collection.
Now I'm adding the 1940s entries from the separate index person by person into the larger index for the entire book (shown here at right). It's not difficult, just takes a bit of time to copy and paste entries. Little by little, it's getting done.
**UPDATE on 1/10: Completed!
Project #2: Assembling the complete Farkas Family Tree index, complete minutes, and updated introductory materials into a digital file and mailing a CD to my cousins. The package is way, way too large for email, and some cousins aren't into cloud storage. CDs are easy to mail and easy for recipients to read, copy, and store.
**UPDATE on 1/118: Final file was 1.5 GB, too large for even 2 CDs, so I bought a multipack of 4GB flash drives to mail. All were received by cousins and this project is OFFICIALLY COMPLETE.
Project #3: Interleaving acid-free buffered tissue paper between pages of the 1917 and 1926 photo albums created by my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood (1903-1986). This will protect the photos for the long term. Tissue paper is in the house, ready to go!
Project #4: Reading carefully through the full divorce file from my husband's paternal grandfather, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939).
As shown at left, James filed to divorce wife #2, Alice Hopperton Unger, in April 1927, just 7 months after their marriage in September, 1926.
She counter-filed a few days later. Back and forth they filed. Now, thanks to the Cuyahoga County Clerk's office, which very kindly mailed me copies of all the paperwork (without charge!), I can finally figure out what happened, 92 years after the fact.
And this is only January, the firstmonth--what a genealogy year it will be.
Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this #52Ancestors prompt to begin the new year.
"Dear Nephew, Don't forget in the coming year that Uncle and Aunt wish you all good cheer--live and grow strong--careful to do no wrong. - Art & Nellie"
This was the new year's wish for hubby's uncle Wally in Cleveland, OH from the aunt and uncle in Chicago who never missed an opportunity to stay in touch via penny postal greeting card. The card was sent during the last days of 1913.
As 2018 winds down and 2019 begins, I wish you all good cheer!
Sent in 1913 to a cousin in Cleveland, OH, the message on this nostalgic penny postcard was handwritten in cursive by the mother of the sender. The mother was Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter Baker (1868-1947) and the sender was her daughter, Edith Baker (1901-1989).
The recipient was Wallis W. Wood (1905-1957), Adelaide's nephew and Edith's first cousin on the Slatter side of the family. Wallis was my husband's uncle and we are so lucky to have been able to scan many of the colorful postcards he received from family during the early 1900s.
I'm looking forward to a busy and rewarding year of #genealogy challenges, fun, breakthroughs, and connections in 2019.
As mentioned in my previous post, I went happily down the rabbit hole of unexpected family history developments in 2018 (including the very welcome surprise of receiving Farkas Family Tree documents, related to my mother's family, to scan, index, and share with cousins).
That's why I didn't accomplish all I'd planned to do when I previewed my 2018 agenda at the end of last December, so these two items are carried over to 2019.
I have two new family memory booklets in the planning stages. One will be about my mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981) and her twin sister (Dorothy Helen Schwartz, 1919-2001). The other will be about my husband's parents (Marian McClure Wood, 1909-1983 and Edgar James Wood, 1903-1986).
I was planning more intensive investigations of my DNA matches, beginning with color-coding matches to see who fits where in the family tree. Then I heard about DNA Painter at RootsTech2018. Still, this went to the back burner in 2018. Not sure whether DNA will be a front-burner activity in 2019, but I will follow up the most promising of my DNA matches.
Another "resolution" for 2019 is to continue my genealogy education through attendance at Family Tree Live (London) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (Washington, D.C.). It will be wonderful to meet other genealogy buffs, chat with speakers, and connect with blogging/tweeting friends in person at these conferences.
Most of all, I am excited about staying in touch with my cousins--perhaps even making contact with cousins I didn't know about. The family tree is alive with leaves representing cousins of all ages, all over the world, connected by our #familyhistory. I am so grateful for you, cousins, sharing what you know about our ancestors and forging new bonds that we hope will endure into the next generation.
This "resolutions" post is the final #52Ancestors challenge for 2018. As always, thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for a year of thought-provoking prompts.
December is a busy month in my family tree and that of my husband. Weddings! Birthdays! Holiday cheer!
Here are two of many penny post cards sent to my husband's uncle in Cleveland, Wallis W. Wood (1905-1957), from 1905 through 1917. Happily, these and other holiday greeting cards remain in the Wood family all these decades later.
In my family, great-uncle Alex Farkas (1885-1948) married Jennie Katz (1886-1974--the "nicest" aunt I recently wrote about here) in what looks like quite a fun Christmas Eve wedding in 1916.
Alex was the oldest of the Farkas siblings, born in Botpalad, Hungary, on Christmas day in 1885 to my great-grandparents, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) and Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938).
The second-oldest was my grandma Minnie Farkas Schwartz (1886-1964), who is shown in the wedding portrait with her husband Ted Schwartz (1887-1965) and their toddler son, my uncle Fred.
On the Schwartz side of the family, my great-aunt Mary Schwartz (1891-1959) eloped with handsome furrier Edward Wirtschafter (1889-1958) on Christmas Eve of 1913.
They went to City Hall in Manhattan, got married, and then returned to their separate apartments without saying a word to family and friends. Why? Because Mary's in-laws, the Farkas family, had "picked out" a suitable young man for her to marry, but she chose Edward. Mary's daughter told me this created a bit of a stir at first among the Farkas folks.
But then Mary and Edward were married a second time, just four days later on December 28, in a religious ceremony, with Mary's oldest brother Sam Schwartz signing the marriage license as a witness, representing the Schwartz family. Mary had just turned 22 on December 26.
Mary and Edward were happily married for more than 40 years. Above, my grandma Minnie Farkas Schwartz with her husband Teddy Schwartz and his sister Mary Schwartz Wirtschafter, at a family celebration.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season!
My late father-in-law insinuated, during a family-history interview in the 1980s, that his father was doing something a bit naughty later in life.
Above, the man in question, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939). This was my husband's paternal grandfather, a carpenter and builder active in Cleveland Heights at the turn of the 20th century. His oldest son was my father-in-law, and the interview with him inspired me to hunt for more info decades later.
After the death of James's first wife, Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925), James still had two teenaged sons at home. So 15 months after Mary's death, 55-year-old James married 35-year-old divorcee Alice Hopperton Unger (1880-1934). Alice listed her occupation as "none" while James's occupation was listed as "builder" on the marriage cert.
Sixty years after this marriage took place, my late father-in-law suggested that James married his housekeeper and there was some hanky-panky involved. The age difference may have been a factor in assessing this relationship. No mention of James's third marriage, by the way.
Well, this was not the whole story. Looking at the documents only, which is all I have, James may very well have married his housekeeper, if that's what Alice was in 1926. But he and Alice divorced some time in the next two years. I'm still trying to get that divorce record from Ohio. It's very likely the key to this family mystery.
In 1928, James married Carolina Foltz Cragg (1871-?), a match arranged by his nephew, Charles Francis Elton Wood. Why? Because Carolina was Charles's widowed mother-in-law and James was in need of a wife to run his household, is the way I heard the story from a Wood cousin in the know. No hanky-panky here, the family was in favor of this marriage so that neither of the older folks would be alone.
Why do I say that James wasn't necessarily nice? I took a closer look at the death of Alice, the second wife for a brief time. She was a "semi-invalid" at the time of her death in April, 1930. Her medical problems included a serious heart ailment and bronchial asthma. Poor Alice died less than a month after her 46th birthday.
Is it possible that James divorced Alice because her health prevented her from being a good housekeeper and step-mother to the two sons who remained at home? That would not have been nice, although I'm trying not to prejudge.*
*UPDATE: County Clerk responded and emailed me a poor quality divorce document, saying she would snail-mail a better copy. No charge! And guess what: I was correct--James sued Alice for divorce for (1) being unable to care for him and his two minor children from a previous marriage and (2) not speaking to him for long periods, among other reasons that are not clear on the copy of the copy. But the printed copy coming by mail will be more legible. Now, 90-odd years after the divorce, we will know what both sides said in court.
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt, "naughty."
My husband's Wood family tree has lots of December marriages. Here are three more of the many that popped up when I used RootsMagic's calendar report.
December 18: Mary Shehen and John Slatter. Mary (1837-1889) was my hubby's great-grandma, and the saddest figure in his family tree. Born into terrible poverty in London, she married great-grandpa John Slatter (1838-1901) 159 years ago, and had 6 children with him. As the years went on, she and the children were in and out of workhouses, seemingly abandoned. Eventually, Mary was admitted to an insane asylum due to depression. She died there 15 years later, of TB. John, meanwhile, left for Cleveland, Ohio and a new life, with a new wife and a new occupation. He died at his youngest daughter's home in Cleveland, having been widowed again and chronically ill. I'm still trying to get back a generation and learn more about Mary's parents, who were themselves born in Ireland around 1801.
December 19: William Smith and Janet "Jean" UNK. Born in Ireland, Smith (1724-1786) and his wife Janet (?-1805) were hubby's 5th great-grandparents. Alas, I know very little about either of them, although it appears they were married in 1751, which is 267 years ago. A Smith researcher whose work I respect indicates that two of William and Janet's sons were doctors. Not sure I'll be able to learn more about these long-ago ancestors, given the "Smith" name and the dates/places.
December 24: Francis "Frank" Ellery Wood and Louisa Mary Schultz. Frank (1857-1933) and his bride Louisa (1860-1948) were married on Christmas Eve, 1883, in Toledo, Ohio, where Frank and most of his brothers were working as carpenters. Frank was my husband's great uncle. The snippet at top from the Lucas county ledger shows their marriage a mere 135 years ago, when he was 26 and she was 23. Frank died after an operation in 1933...then 17 months later, his widow Louisa married his younger brother, Marion Elton Wood. (Unfortunately, Marion had lost two wives by then, as well as one of his two children.) Louisa was again widowed in December, 1947; she lived just 5 months longer.
Family is a precious gift, the gift that keeps giving. Above, the Farkas Family Tree Thanksgiving dinner and costume party held at the Gramercy Park Hotel in 1956. Descendants of patriarch Moritz Farkas and matriarch Leni Kunstler Farkas formed the tree association in 1933. I'm one of the two young hula twins in the top left corner. This large, fun-loving family celebrated together on many occasions, beginning in the Depression years.
On Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for the Farkas cousin who first inspired me to begin my genealogy journey 20 years ago . . . and the many Farkas, Mahler, Burk, Schwartz, and Wood cousins I've met or reconnected with during my family history journey.
As the descendant of immigrants, I'm especially thankful for the courage and determination of ancestors who left everyone and everything they knew to begin again in a new country. Thank you for the forever gift of my family's past and my family's future!
For Thanksgiving in Ohio, 1912: Dorothy Louise Baker (1897-1981) sent this pretty penny postcard to her first cousin in Cleveland, Wallis Walter Wood (1905-1957). Dorothy lived in Toledo with her parents--her mother was the older sister of Wallis's mother.
Dorothy's handwriting was very clear, so it was easy to read the address: 12513 Lancelot Avenue in Cleveland.
I have a photo of Wallis and his older brother, Edgar James Wood* (1903-1986), in front of this very house. Well, actually, I have a few photos of the Wood family homes all over Cleveland. Because the head of the household built homes for a living, he would move his family into a partially-finished home while he began construction on another home nearby. They moved every two years or so.
Following the dates and addresses on penny postcards sent to the Wood family, and checking the US Census, I can follow approximately when they moved from one home to another. In the 1910 Census, they were not living on Lancelot Avenue, and postcards of that year add confirmation. In 1915, postcards were not sent to them on Lancelot Avenue but to Locke Ave. The family was living at Lancelot Avenue from 1911-1913, based on the postcards.
I took a close look at the boys, who were 7 and 9 in 1912. In this photo, they seem a bit younger than that. So I've dated it as 1911.
Do you know exactly how many times certain common names appear in your family tree?
For this week's #52Ancestors challenge, I set out to count the number of males named John and the number of females named Mary in my husband's ancestry. I knew there were a lot, but I was surprised at the actual number.
Using RootsMagic's Explorer function, I searched my husband's family tree (combining mother's and father's sides), which contains 2,665 people in all.
First, I searched for "Mary" in the given name field. As shown above, the software found "Mary" as either a first given name or a second given name. "Mary Elizabeth" was counted, as were entries like "Margaret Mary," because both have "Mary" in the given name field.
Then I searched for "John, which brought up "John" and "Johnathan" plus entries like "Thomas John" because "John" appeared somewhere in the field for given name.
In all, the software found:
121 Mary entries and
139 John entries
So there really are a lot of John and Mary names in the tree! (Five "Mary Wood" entries and five "John Larimer" entries show how multiple generations followed this naming tradition.)
Try it for yourself and see how many "John" and "Mary" names are on your tree!
By the way, I noticed some less common given names for females in the Wood tree: Elvea, Perlina, Floyda, Melvina, Zula, Asenath, Ora, Sophronia, Capitola, and Tatsy.
Among the less common given names for males in the Wood tree are: Restcomb, Train, Green, Ormond, Degory, and Glynn.
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "random fact."