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

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Valentine Leads Me to Relearn Two Lessons

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This way, if the certs or other sources are ever withdrawn from public view or are otherwise unavailable, the images proving my sources will be on the tree.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.

Monday, February 4, 2019

City Directories: Who's There? Who's Missing?



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.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

"He Said, She Said" in Grandpa's Divorce

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 Hopperton Unger (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 Happened to Carrie?

Were James and Carrie divorced? 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? My husband's cousin, who has been doing genealogy even longer than I have, gave me some intriguing ideas for answering these questions. The #genealogy adventure continues.

Thanks, as always, to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors challenge.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Traditional and Patriotic Names in the Tree

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."

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

January Genealogy Off to a Strong Start

Happy 2019! 

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 first month--what a genealogy year it will be.

Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this #52Ancestors prompt to begin the new year.

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year's Greetings from 1913

"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!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Happy New Year 2019

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.

Happy new year 2019 to all!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Preview of My Year in Genealogy - 2019

2019

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. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Vintage Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a merry Christmas with this vintage penny post card sent to my husband's WOOD family in Toledo, Ohio, during the 1910s.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Genealogy on Christmas Eve

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!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Not Naughty, But Not Necessarily Nice

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."

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

More Winter Weddings in the Wood Family Tree

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.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thankful for My Family's Past and My Family's Future

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!

And thank you to Elizabeth O'Neal for the November "thankful" theme of the Genealogy Blog Party.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

For Thanksgiving at Lancelot Avenue in Cleveland

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.

*Edgar James Wood was my husband's father.

Friday, November 16, 2018

John and Mary Appear HOW Many Times in the Wood Tree?

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."


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Genealogy Go-Over: In Search of Mary Amanda Demarest's Parents

During my ongoing Genealogy Go-Over, I've been cleaning up sources and searching for records posted since the last time I researched each key ancestor. Working with Cousin L, the keeper of the Wood ancestry and a crackerjack researcher with 35 years of experience, we've fleshed out the Wood family from the great-grandparents on down.

But there's still a big gap in the family tree: identifying the parents of Mary Amanda Demarest (1831-1897), wife of Thomas Haskell Wood (1809-1890)--these are hubby's great-grandparents. Cousin L already had some info about GGM Mary Amanda, including her probable birth date of June 1, 1831, which appears on her gravestone, as well as her probable marriage date of May 14, 1845, which appears in the family bible. Despite years of searching, we've turned up no birth record for GGM Mary Amanda Demarest.

This week, doing a new search, I was surprised to find a potential clue: A baptismal record from St. Clements Church in New York City. The excerpt at top shows a Mary Amanda Demarest, along with four siblings, being baptized in March, 1832. Only one parent is listed: Mary Ann Demarest.

The five daughters of Mary Ann Demarest being baptized were:

  • ? Ann, born 13 January 1821 (?)
  • Rachel Jemima, born 3 September 1824
  • Martha Jane, born 29 March 1826
  • Malinda Elizabeth, born 13 January 1829
  • Mary Amanda Demarest, born 1 June 1831
St. Clements was an Episcopal Church located on Amity Street (now West 3rd Street) near Sullivan Street, just below Washington Square in what is currently the Greenwich Village area.

My husband noticed that only one parent was listed on this baptismal record. Could it be that Mary Ann Demarest was a widow? If so, he asked, would she be shown by name in the 1830 Census?

Good question. And sure enough, one Mary Demarest was the head of household on Hudson Street in New York City in the 1830 US Census, as shown above. That Census was taken on June 1, 1830. Hudson Street is a healthy walk from St. Clements Church, but not crazy far away. My hopes were high.

Alas, the demographics of the Demarest household don't exactly match what we're looking for. The census recorded two girls under the age of 10. The household also included a female in her 20s, a female in her 30s, a female in her 40s, and a female in her 60s.

If Mary Demarest, the household head in the Census record, matched Mary Ann Demarest, the mother in the baptismal record, there would be a total of 4 females under the age of 10 in the 1830 Census.* I see only 2 females under 10. Not a close match. Even considering that one or two youngsters might have been elsewhere on Census day, who are the other women in the household?

Another really important point: Mary Amanda Demarest, the object of our search, was born exactly one year after the Census was taken and ten months before the 1832 baptismal record. Would a widow have had another child after the 1830 Census? Would she have kept the Demarest name if remarried, or married another Demarest even? Or not married again, keeping her former married name while having a child? All are possibilities.

Therefore, I reluctantly have to conclude that Mary Ann Demarest (the parent in the baptismal record) is unlikely to be the same Mary Demarest who was head of household on Hudson Street in the 1830 Census.

I've checked the St. Clements records for decades after the 1832 baptisms and found no other mentions of Mary Ann Demarest or her daughters. Yet the baptismal record showing Mary Amanda Demarest's birth date of June 1, 1831 is an exact match for GGM's birth date on her grave stone.

Although the baptismal record is very intriguing and matches the birth date, more evidence is needed to really prove that Mary Ann Demarest is my husband's GGGM. And if she belongs on the family tree, I don't have any clue to this ancestor's maiden name. Yet!

*Cousin L completed an analysis of every Demarest household in the 1830 Census of New York County. He also analyzed every Demarest in the city directory for that year and place. Not one appears to match OUR Demarest family. The search continues. I'm going to follow the possible siblings forward in time to try to find one or more of them in later records. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Friendly, Not Frightful, Halloween Cards

In the 1910s, my husband's father and uncles in Cleveland, OH, frequently received penny-postcard holiday greetings from relatives across the miles. These were friendly (not frightful) messages to let the Wood youngsters know they were in the hearts of their family.

Here are two of my favorites. Rachel Ellen "Nellie" Wood (1864-1954) sent these and other colorful greeting cards to the four sons of her younger brother, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939). Nellie lived in Chicago, James lived in Cleveland, but they were able to visit each other from time to time.

"Aunt Nellie" Wood was married first to Walter Alfred Lervis (1860-1897) at the age of 20. After his death, she married Samuel Arthur Kirby (1860-1939).

"Aunt Nellie" had a special fondness for these nephews, as revealed through the messages on her holiday cards. She remembered their hobbies, sent get-well wishes when one broke an arm, and urged them to continue their studies.

Some of the penny postcards were signed "Uncle Arthur" (in another handwriting), which made me smile even more. The Wood boys were being treated, not tricked, for Halloween!

Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors prompt for this week is "frightening."

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 cousins Larry and Mike for uncovering new details tracing the Wood tree year after year after year...

The tenth generation back is John Wood Jr. (1620?-1704). This was most likely the last Wood generation of my husband's family to be born in England. I hypothesize* that 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 is not legible, and 1620 is the "calculated" 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.

*Updated to reflect cousin Mike's comments about clearly noting hypotheses. Thank you! I don't want to perpetuate unproven info as "fact." And so far, no response from the Find-a-Grave contributor about James Andrew McClure.

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.