Friday, March 30, 2012

Family Recipe Friday: Home Ec Taught Me Something

When I was a preteen, I bought this cookbook for Home Ec class (remember that?). The copyright date is 1960.

The cookbook is still on my kitchen bookshelf for nostalgia reasons. After all, I wrote my name and address in it (below). But most of the recipes were too complicated or time-consuming for me, and my mother used mixes anyway, which was fine with her daughters.

The book falls open to a page showing "Penny-Wise Cake" which I remember using as the basis of a pineapple upside down cake we baked in Home Ec class.

Here's the recipe for pineapple upside down cake:

2 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg, unbeaten
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Also have ready for "topping"--1/4 cup melted butter, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1 can of sliced pineapple rings (drain but reserve juice).

Preheat oven to 350.

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream shortening thoroughly. Add sugar gradually, and cream together well. Add egg, beat very thoroughly. Add flour alternately with milk, beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Set aside.

2. Combine melted butter and brown sugar. Mix well, spread in 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Drain 1 can (8.5 oz) pineapple rings and sprinkle 2 TB of the juice over sugar mixture. Cut drained pineapple rings into quarters, arrange over mixture in pan. Pour cake batter over pineapple and bake at 350 for 45-50 min until done.

3. Cool in pan for 5 min, then invert on plate and let stand for a minute or two before gently removing the baking pan. Serve warm! A little vanilla ice cream wouldn't hurt either. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Mystery Burk-Mahler-Markell Celebration

These photos (scanned from negatives) were taken in the mid-1950s. My mother, baby sister, and we twins (shown above) are at a party where my father's Burk, Mahler, and Markell relatives are present.

I don't know who's who (except for Uncle Dave, at center of center photo below). Where are they celebrating, and why? Cousin Lois noticed birthday party things...whose birthday?
Update: Cousin Lois identified the couple above as Joan and Bob, with their son Andy.
Update: Above, the lady on the left is Lois's grandma, Ida. Below, lady on right is Ida's sister, Mary. Thank you for your sharp eyes, Lois!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Washington, D.C., 1966

Summer, 1966
My cousin Lois and I have been talking about the first time we met, when my father (her great-uncle) took my sister and me to Washington, D.C., where Lois lives. But I couldn't remember the exact year. Then these photos came to light in a forgotten album--and instantly I thought: 1966! I'm nearly positive that the shorts outfit I'm wearing (note the hip-hugger belt) and my Sassoon-inspired haircut were from that year. No more words needed...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sympathy Saturday: Dora Lillie Mahler

My great-aunt Dora Lillie Mahler died on June 9, 1950, and her life and death remain a mystery. She was living in a nice area of the Bronx with her mother, Tillie, at this time...and possibly with her widowed sister Henrietta Mahler Burk, whose husband Isaac Burk had died unexpectedly in 1943. (Henrietta and Isaac were my paternal grandparents.)

Dora was a millinery saleslady, as this cert shows and as I also found in the 1930 Census. But apparently by 1950 she had been retired 10 years. (This is a good reason to check the 1940 Census when it comes out next month!) And this cert shows she had been under the doctor's care from April 1939 until her death. Did she have a chronic illness? 2022 update: Yes, a chronic illness confirmed by a cousin who remembered this ancestor.

Her June 10, 1950 obit in the New York Times was short and to the point: Dora Lillie Mahler was the "devoted daughter of Tillie and the late Meyer Mahler, dear sister of Henrietta Burk; David Mahler; Sarah Smith; Morris Mahler; Ida Volk; and Mary Markell." 

PS: Morris, Dora's brother, gave her birth date on the cert as July 11, 1905. Impossible: The New York Census shows her as 11 years old in 1905; the US Census shows her as 6 in 1900, 15 in 1910, and 24 in 1920. Locating her actual birth cert in 2022, I see her birth year is 1894. Mystery solved!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Married Him for His Ancestors, St. Patrick's Day Edition

This is the first year since the start of my genealogical adventure that I know for certain that there are Irish ancestors in my hubby's family tree. This year, we can wear green and celebrate with specific ancestors in mind! (No Irish ancestors in my family tree . . . I had to marry into the shamrocks.)

Here's a summary of himself's Irish roots:
  • John & Mary Shehen (or Shehan or Sheehan). According to the 1841 UK Census, John & Mary Shehan were both born in Ireland around 1801 (she might have been born as late as 1806, if later census records are correct). No trail yet to indicate when and how they came to London, but in 1841 they lived in Gray's Buildings, Marylebone, Middlesex county. They were married with three children, all born in London: Thomas (7), Mary (3), and Michael (8 mos). Mary grew up to marry John Slatter Sr., and become hubby's g-gma.
  • Robert Larimer & Mary O'Gallagher Larimer. According to a Larimer family history, the young Robert Larimer sailed from Ireland in 1740 with a chest of Irish linen, bound for the new world. He was shipwrecked, then rescued by a man who made him an indentured servant to pay for his rescue. After many years, Robert decided he'd repaid his benefactor with enough years of his life and walked away from the man's land near Philadelphia, going west to Kishocoquillis Valley, PA. He married Mary O'Gallagher (or Gallagher), who was born in Northern Ireland about 1721, and together they settled in Fairfield county, Ohio. Robert & Mary were hubby's  5th g-grandpa.
  • John McClure. Hubby's 3d g-grandpa was born from a line of McClures who probably came from County Donegal. John McClure married Ann McFall in 1801 and their son was Benjamin McClure, hubby's 2d g-gfather.
May the road rise up to meet you ...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Wm Madison McClure & Margaret Larimer McClure of Wabash, IN

The Wabash Carnegie Public Library is a good source of genealogical info for folks like me, who are tracing ancestors in Indiana via long-distance. They're so busy that sometimes it takes a few months to process a request, but yesterday I was delighted to receive the obits for William Madison McClure (1849-1887) and Margaret Jane Larimer McClure (1854-1913), my husband's maternal g-grandparents. There was a bit of a surprise in William's obit when we learned he was a victim of typhoid fever.

Here's where Margaret Jane Larimer McClure is buried, in Wabash's Falls Memorial Gardens cemetery (Indiana).

Her obit, in a nutshell, says she died at the home of her son, H. B. (Hugh Benjamin) McClure on West Main Street, on Thursday, 15 May 1913 and burial was 17 May 1913.

William Madison McClure's obit, dated 7 October 1887, says he died of typhoid fever "after an illness of six weeks." He was a member of the Presbyterian church (his father was an Elder) and he was of the "Masonic fraternity."

A search on Google for "typhoid fever wabash indiana 1887" turns up 16,000 hits, most not actually in that year. Still, it was quite a deadly problem.

I've added both newspaper obits to these ancestors' Find-A-Grave pages, hoping to help other McClure researchers.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Who Uncle Fred Thanked in His Book

My mother's older brother, Frederick Shaw (1912-1991), was super-smart and one of a number of authors in the family. His book, History of the New York City Legislature, was a popular civics text in high schools and colleges during the 1950s and 1960s. His acknowledgements mention his wife and...

This volume would not have been possible without the indulgence and active cooperation of my wife, Daisy K. Shaw. For the preparation of the index and other invaluable assistance in the manuscript itself I am deeply obliged to Miss Dorothy H. Schwartz. For all matters of fact and opinion in the pages which follow I am personally responsible.
Only insiders reading these acknowledgements would recognize Dorothy H. Schwartz as one of his younger sisters (and my auntie, the twin of my Mom, Daisy Schwartz Burk). Dorothy wrote books of her own, a story for another day.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fearless Females: Heirlooms--Grandma's Lavalier

Minnie (Hermina) Farkas may have brought this lavalier from Hungary when she took her long journey to America...but more likely, she received it as a gift from Teddy (Theodore) Schwartz, sometime after they were married in New York City on October 22, 1911.

Grandma and Grandpa both worked to help pay for relatives to come to New York. Minnie and her parents brought her siblings here; Teddy teamed up with his older brother, Samuel (Simon) Schwartz, to bring their youngest sister Mary Schwartz here.

Grandma was far from wealthy, but she left each of her grandchildren a bit of jewelry in her will. I received this gold lavalier and a cocktail ring, both of which remind me of her courage and perseverance. Thank you, Grandma!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday: Edgar J. Wood's College Scrapbook

It's easy to get the impression that my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood, majored in Broadway and music while at Tufts College (class of 1926). In fact, his major was economics, and although he attended for 4 years, he didn't graduate.

At least two full pages of Ed's college scrapbook are filled with ticket stubs like those above, with the name of the play and his companion(s), handwritten below. Ed was an avid theater-goer throughout life and passed that love to his children.

He also played in bands, sang with the glee club, and was a member of several music clubs at Tufts. Above is a letter advising him that he'd been selected to travel with the Tufts Musical Clubs from April 15-22, 1925. The clubs performed in Bristol, CT; Hartford, CT; Meriden, CT; New York City; Mt. Vernon, NY; and again in New York City, culminating in an appearance at the luxe Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

I'm certain that Ed took this trip--which would have returned him to Tufts just before his mother, Mary Slatter Wood, died on April 24, 1925, in Cleveland, OH. When my husband asked Ed about whether he returned home for Mary's funeral, Ed replied:

I think I was out playing a job, and came back to the dormitory, and a brother Zate [Zeta Psi, the fraternity] came to the dormitory and told me they'd gotten word that she had died. I think her health had been like [my wife] Mar­ian's, it had not been the best, so it wasn't a big surprise. I had no money, so I went to a guy by the name of _____, one of the professors of music, and a Zate also, and borrowed 50 bucks...Before the summer was over I paid it back. So I had to borrow money and take a train back to Cleveland for the funeral. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Amenuensis Monday: Tufts College Album, Zeta Psi House, 1925

When Edgar James Wood (my late father-in-law) went to Tufts College, Massachusetts, he saved memorabilia and put together a scrapbook of his college years. His frat friends signed the book in 1925, as shown above. Here's a transcription of the first page of names, hometowns, birth dates (!), and "ambitions." Maybe one of these college kids' descendants will do a search and find this list!

Charles Errol Exley, from Trinidad, B.W.I., nickname: Bill, b. August 27, 1903. Ambition: To see Ed pass French.

Fred J. Sanders, from Southington, Conn., nickname: Ted, b. April 22, 1907. Ambition: To see "the Jumboniane" working.

Joseph Harrison, from Newark, NJ, nickname: Joe, b. June 10, 1904. Ambition: To see Edgar with a team that will make Paul & Vinnie look foolish.

Austin C. Robinson, from Fitchburg, Mass., nickname: Ace, b. September 4, 1905. Ambition: To see Ed so tight he can't move.

Robert B. Rice, from Longmeadow, Mass., nickname: Bob, b. 1900. Ambition: To see Ed. dance.

Norman S. Smith, from Brookline, Mass., nickname: Norm, b. June 11, 1903. Ambition: To hear a battle of music between Paul Whiteman and the "Jumbonians."

Austin T. Ropes, from Salem, Mass., nickname: Hemp, b. Jan. 25. Ambition: To go to a dance with Ed.

Russel L. Carpenter '24, from Meriden, Conn., nickname: Bud, b. November 7, 1901. Ambition: To read the banjo parts.

Herbert Edwon Lawson Jr., from New York City, nickname: Pop, b. February 9, 1905. Ambition: To teach Ed to inhale [beets?].

Lawrence M. Dawson, from Meriden, Conn., nickname: Larry, b. October 25. Ambition: TO see "Dead Wood" in the balcony scene with Marie _____.

Armand J. Gariepy, from Barre, Mass., nickname: Gary, b. July 31, 1901. Ambition: "Control the stock market.

Chas. J. Odenweller 3rd, Arlington, Mass., nickname: Ody, b. December 30, 1903. Ambition: To go to Cleveland again.

Vivian Wight, Bethel, Maine, nickname: Viv., b. July 12, 1903. Ambition: To see you in Portland.

C. Proctor Stanley, N.E. Harbor, Maine, nickname: Pieye [?], b. July 6, 1904. Ambition: To play baseball.

George V. Perry, Lawrence, Mass., nickname: G.V., b. August 5, 1902. Ambition: Just now, to graduate.

Walter A. Weisleder, Meriden, Conn., nickname: [none], b. July 9, 1905. Ambition: TO get Eddie & Leo to agree.

Jack Hayes, Brooklyn, NY, nickname: "Jack" - "Spud," b. October 14, 1904. Ambition: There ain't no such onion.

Wm. H. Griffiths, Crestwood, Tuckahoe, NY, nickname: Bill, b. April 20, 1906. Ambition: To hear Eddy on the transatlantic radio.

Jack Norton, Cobleshill, New York State, nickname: [none], b. July 30. Ambition: To have Eddie remember to take his room key when he goes out.

"Fen" Reilly, West Medford, Mass, nickname: "Cap'n," b. February 6, 1906. Ambition: [none listed]

Joseph Rosselli, Waterbury, Conn., nickname: Joe, b. December 23, 1903. Ambition: To see Eddie drunk.

Joshua J. Bernstein, Springfield, Mass., nickname: Josh, b. June 15, 1905. Ambition: To spend four more years.

Ralph "Dutch" Lehan, Stoughton, Mass., nickname: "Dutch," b. "too long to remember." Ambition: To kick hell out of Reed & Browlen.

John J. Purcell, Meriden, Conn., nickname: "Jack" P., b. November 10, 1901. Ambition: To find one.

Eugene Eaton Smith, Tufts college, Mass., nickname: Gene, b. April 14, 1912 [sic]. Ambition: To tutor Eddie for P.B.K. and a degree.

P. George Nye, Malden, Mass., nickname: Joe the Great, Colonel, Sister Faint Flower, b. June 31, 1913 [sic]. Ambition: Why ? And who cares?

James E. Nickerson, West Harwich, Mass., nickname: "Red" "Nick," b. December 9, 1905. Ambition: I guess so.

Gordon L. Walls, "Where ere my hat be hung" [hometown], nickname: "The Count," b. April 4, 1905. Ambition: To hear Eddie soloing with the Symphony(!)

W. H. Erickson Jr., "Anywhere you wish" [hometown], nickname: "Shorty," b. November 8, 1904. Ambition: To play in a ___ band.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us!

My twin and I are celebrating our birthday today (no numbers, please!). The top photo shows us at about 6 weeks old. Reportedly, we "never" slept (and neither did our parents, Daisy Schwartz and Harold Burk). I can believe it, looking at that top photo. On the other hand, we weren't even 6 lbs each at that point, and the "scrawny chicken" look lingered on for another month or so, judging by the photos.

The second photo shows us all dolled up for an outing in matching outfits that I would bet our mother didn't buy. Why? Because as a twin herself, she wasn't a big fan of matching outfits and was determined to raise us as individuals, not halves of one whole. Anyway, this was taken alongside our apartment building, near the corner of Carpenter Avenue at East 222nd Street in the Bronx.

Happy birthday to us! And many more. 

PS: We don't actually know who's who in most of these early baby photos.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Obits vs Death Certs (Dig Deeper!)

Sometimes a death record is more informative than an obituary...and then there are other times when the opposite is true. Here's a case where digging deeper to get the obit was a phenomenal help and broke down a long-standing brick wall.

I've been looking for Benjamin McClure's ancestors. He's my hubby's great-great-grandfather and for years I've actively sought his parents' names.

The very nice folks in Friends of Falls Cemetery in Wabash, Indiana, have photographed his grave for Find a Grave and "calculated" relationships with other relatives buried there (correctly). They (and I) had no way of knowing that Benjamin didn't die in Wabash--he died in Conway, Michigan.

Finally, I got a clue and checked Family Search's Michigan Deaths/Burial Index, finding this:

Just to be sure, I ordered the microfilm and checked it and this is a mostly accurate transcription, from a ledger book that summarizes all deaths in Michigan, by county, during that year. I just didn't believe everything it says. The birth year is right, but the death date is one day off. And it's VERY unlikely that Benjamin and his parents were from New York, and the name "Enos" appears nowhere else in the family. What I really needed was to see his obit.

The kind librarian in Petoskey, Michigan (near Little Traverse) sent me Benjamin's obit from the Petoskey Record of February 26, 1896. It told me that Benjamin, the father-in-law of locally-known Reverend John J. Cook and father of Mrs. John J. Cook, had died at Conway after a short illness. His body was brought back to Wabash, Indiana, where he had resided for nearly 52 years, but no mention was made of McClure's birthplace or other survivors.

Posting a query on a Wabash genealogy message board, I got a note from a historian who told me that Benjamin's obit had appeared in two local Wabash papers, and he gave me the dates, suggesting I send for these. I tried a few different ways to get the obits from libraries, but no luck.

Then I joined the Indiana genealogy Facebook group and, from one of their posts, got the idea to contact the Indiana State Library.

Bingo! They quickly sent me the obit (excerpted at left) for Benjamin -- which includes his likeness. It includes a very complete family history. Benjamin, as I strongly suspected, wasn't born in NY, he was born in Ohio. His parents were John McClure and Ann McFall McClure. What a gold mine!

Thank you, wonderful librarians of Indiana State Library! Now I have literally dozens of leads to follow, including exact counties where the McClures lived and the dates. Digging deeper made the difference.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Ceramic Heirlooms

Zebra sculpture by Marian McClure Wood, 1950
My late mother-in-law, Marian Jane McClure Wood, became interested in ceramic sculpture as a hobby in the late 1940s. She took classes at Oxford Elementary School in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, with a well-known ceramicist, Edris Eckhardt.

Edris lived on Monticello Blvd, around the corner from the Cleveland Heights Blvd home where Marian and her family (Edgar J. Wood plus 3 children) lived. Edris was an internationally famous artist whose Alice in Wonderland sculptures had been displayed at the 1937 World's Fair in Paris and who had been a leader in Cleveland's Depression-era Federal Arts Project. She was deeply involved in the local art community and the Oxford school was one focus.

Marian quickly became so interested in ceramics that her husband Edgar and her father (Brice Larimer McClure) built her a kiln in the basement of Marian & Edgar's home, and arranged special electrical wiring for it.

Duck sculpture by Marian MccClure Wood (undated)
 Rather than make the usual ashtrays, Marian studied a book on animal anatomy and made ceramic animals. Hubby and I proudly display two zebra sculptures and a duck sculpture that she made. Marian also created a lovely series of ceramic creche figures, which my sis-in-law puts on display every Christmas.

Like all Cleveland-area artists, Marian aspired to have her works shown in the Cleveland Museum of Art's prestigious May Show. I found out when I checked the museum's database that she succeeded with four works: In 1948, she showed a zebra sculpture; in 1949, she showed "Spring Night" and a zebra; in 1950, she showed "The Champ." (Her son, my bro-in-law, had a painting in the 1960 May show; her daughter, my sis-in-law, had a textile design in the 1959 show.)

Inscription inside zebra sculpture - "1950 M Wood"
Marian's peak achievement was a three-foot-high Alice in Wonderland sculpture that she had fired in a commercial kiln and donated to the Oxford Elementary School in Cleveland Heights, in the late 1950s. This school houses an excellent collection of Federal Art, much of it produced under the supervision of or using the processes of Edris Eckhardt. Perhaps Marian's Alice is still there today?

2022 update: I wrote about Marian's ceramic artistry in an ancestor booklet that all heirs received. This means her story will be bequeathed along with her ceramics.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Mystery: James & Alice Wood's divorce

Yesterday I learned that James Edgar Wood, hubby's paternal gfather, was married to Alice Hopperton Unger in 1926. Alice had previously been married and divorced (by 1919) but kept her Unger name until she married James.

Edgar (my father-in-law) told my hubby during an interview in 1983 that he thought his father James had "got a housekeeper and he married her." Edgar kept his distance after that. But clearly James's life took some other turn, because he was married to Caroline Cragg by the time of the 1930 Census.

What happened in between? Apparently, Alice and James were divorced sometime between 1926 and 1930. My best guess is they were divorced around 1929, because James seems to have gone to Jackson, Michigan in 1929, but more sleuthing is required. By the time Alice died (at only 46), she had assumed the "Unger" name once again (see below).   UPDATE: I learned about the Alice/James divorce in 2018, and you can read it here.

Alice died on April 5, 1930 in Cleveland. The informant was Mrs. Brinker, Alice's sister (see obit abstract, below, from the Cleveland Necrology file).

d#: 0369015
Name: Unger, Alice
Date: Apr 6 - 1930
Source: Source unknown;  Cleveland Necrology File, Reel #081.
Notes: Unger: Alice, beloved daughter of Mrs. Rachel Hopperton and sister of Edward F., George C., Frank J., Mrs. H. O. Brinker, Mrs. O. C. Hughes, and the late Arthur S. Hopperton, Saturday morning. Funeral Monday, April 7, 1930, at 2:30 p. m., from the home of her brother, George C. Hopperton, 2106 Overbrook Road, Lakewood.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Surprise: Grandpa Wood's 2d marriage

This morning I followed one of Ancestry's "hints" and discovered a relationship that nobody in the family even suspected: James Edgar Wood's second marriage to Alice Hopperton Unger, on 1 September 1926, in Cleveland, OH. James was hubby's paternal grandpa.

This is definitely the correct James E. Wood--all the details fit. His first wife, Mary Slatter Wood, had died on 24 April 1925. So who was Alice and how did they meet?

BTW, sometime later, James married a 3d time, to Caroline (Carey) Cragg, the mother-in-law of James's nephew, a match the family helped to arrange. The couple lived in Jackson, MI at the time of the 1930 Census.

Obviously I now have to find out what happened to Alice between 1926 and 1930. Stay tuned!