25 October 2014

Sibling Saturday: the Welsh siblings

My cousin gave me a copy of this picture when I went to visit them (Lorraine & Loretta) recently. I am so grateful. It is the only picture I have of my great grandmother and all her children together.

The photo, they told me, was taken at Uncle Leo's wedding. He is the one on the far right. Don't they all look awesome?

From left to right then:
Uncle Joe, my grandmother Mary, Uncle Gerry looking awesome in his uniform, Uncle Reds (given name was Raymond), my great grandmother Catherine O'Flaherty Welsh, Aunt Loretta, and Uncle Leo.

Uncle Leo married Ruth Miller is 1937. They had six children together.

Sibling Saturday is a daily genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

24 October 2014

Funeral Card Friday: Miriam Wilson McWilliams

The funeral card of Miriam Wilson McWilliams was found among papers I had bought years ago at a family auction at my Aunt Helen's.

The card reveals that Miriam Wilson McWilliams was born on 27 May 1890 in Coatesville. She died on 27 September 1957 in Hephzibah. She was laid to rest in the public non-denominational Fairview Cemetery in Coatesville. Her funeral service, officiated by Rev. Glenn C. Boice, at the S. Paul Roberts Funeral Home in Coatesville.

Miriam was the widow of Horace Norman McWilliams (1888 - 1946). It is, to be honest, the McWilliams name that piqued my interest. He was the son of James Monroe McWilliams and Margaret Ann Carson. Horace had eight siblings.

James Monroe McWilliams (1859 - 1938) was the son of Samuel Russell McWilliams and Catharine Wagoner. James had five siblings. Catherine died in 1863 and Samuel re-married. James also had four half-siblings.

Samuel Russell McWilliams (1823 - 1903) was the son of Robert McWilliams and Ameila Merns. Samuel served during the Civil War. Samuel had nine siblings.

Robert McWilliams (1792 - 1853) served in the War of 1812. He was the son of George and Jane McWilliams.

George McWilliams was born in 1760 in Ireland.

Now my Aunt Helen (Still Webster) knew everyone in and around East Fallowfield. She also knew her family well. Miriam may or may not have been family. McWilliams was the maiden name of my 4th great grandmother Sarah McWilliams. She was born in 1788, married Robert Bing (1781 - 1824), had seven children, and passed away on 13 April 1859. No one matches up exactly but perhaps George had a brother!

Funeral Card Friday is a daily genealogical prompt which features funeral cards.

21 October 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Chrispin P Van Horn

Chrispin Pierson Van Horn is buried at the Old Doe Run Cemetery on Strasburg Road in East Fallowfield, Chester County.

He is my 3rd great grandfather.

Chrispin P Van Horn
Born 21 September 1839.
Died 9 February 1902.

He was the son of George Van Horn and Jane Dudbridge. He was the husband of Maria Rice.

Tombstone Tuesday is a daily genealogy blogging prompt of GeneaBloggers, in which one depicts a tombstone.

20 October 2014

Mystery Monday Solved: Charles Eckman

Charles Eckman has been found!

Years ago shortly after we married, I attended a genealogy fair and saw a book titled "Genealogical Record of Rev. Hans Herr and His Direct Lineal Descendants" by Theodore Herr. I glanced through it and saw several names I recognized as being in my husband's family. I found my husband's grandfather, John C Eckman (b. 25 April 1883). John was listed as #10577. He was the son of Charles Eckman (6867) and Rosa T Kerchner. That entry led me to Charles and a mystery I have been searching for the last 20 years.

His entry showed he is the son of Catherine K Cresswell (2949) and John Eckman. The numbers, by the way, were assigned to the descendants, with the first of course being the Rev. Hans Herr. Charles entry read:

6867. Charles, Lancaster, Pa., b. Feb. 1, 1860; d. Aug. 26, 1888; m. Aug. 24, 1881, Rosa T. Kerchner, b. Sept. 4, 1859; dau. John Kerchner and Barbara Kuhn.

Since then I have been trying to find out where he was buried. After 20 years, I am excited to say, I finally confirmed where Charles was laid to rest.

While at the Lancaster Historical Society last Thursday the historian there helped me immensely. I explained that Charles was born in 1860 in Strasburg Township to John and Catherine Cresswell Eckman and that the Eckman family attended the Zion Reformed Church in New Providence. In fact, the family lived across the street and was quite active in the church. I knew Charles was a clerk with the Telegraph Co. and that he married Rosa Kirchner in 1881. From City Directories I knew he lived on Manor Street in Lancaster City. I knew Rosa and her family were Roman Catholic and attended St. Joseph and lived up Cabbage Hill. Rosa had remarried after Charles' death.

He (the historian) found Charles. He was listed in "Burial Records of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Lancaster PA 1850-1899." Charles did die on 26 August; however, he died in 1887!

Going back through the old microfilm newspapers again I did not find an actual obituary but I did find a front page news article. (An aside: as exciting as "front page news article" sounds, it was not. The paper was only a few pages at that time although those few pages held more relevant and truthfully reported news that the current Lancaster newspaper.)

So the article - dated Monday, 29 August 1887 - reads:

Double Funeral at St. Josephs
For the first time in the history of St Joseph's Catholic Church there was a double funeral. This unusual occurrence happened this morning when the bodies of Lucas Fritz and Charles Eckman were taken into the church at 9 o'clock. Both were members of St Patrick's society and in addition Eckman was a member of St. Michael's. Both these organizations were present in a body. Father Koch celebrated the requiem mass and delivered a short sermon. The internments were made at St. Joseph's Catholic cemetery.

So the new mystery ... how did Charles, a clerk, who was only 27 years old at the time, die? Was it medical? Was it an accident? Was he killed? If so, why? One answer and so many more mysteries!

Mystery Monday is a daily genealogy prompt of GeneaBloggers. The prompts are concerned with anything in your genealogy and family history research which is currently unsolved.

19 October 2014

Sunday's Obituary: Leo F. Welsh

Leo Francis Welsh is my grandmother's brother. He lived with my grandparents in Kennett Square, Chester County.

His obituary reads:
Leo F. Welsh, 59, of 503 Magnolia Street, Kennett Square, died yesterday at Presbyterian Hospital, Philadelphia, after a lengthy illness.

Born in Phoenixville, he was a son of the late Martin J. and Catherine O'Flaherty Welsh.

He had been employed by the Kennett Square School District custodial department for the past five years.

He was a member of St. Patrick's Church, Kennett Square and a social member of the Italian American Club and VFW of Kennett Square.

Mr. Welsh is survived by three daughters: Colleen, wife of James Donahue of Kennett Square; Mrs. Theresa Nemuth of Cleveland, Ohio; and Michaela, wife of Donald Gideon, of Orangedale, Calif.; two sons: Maj. Leo F. Welsh Jr. of Hawaii and Kenneth Welsh of Los Angeles, and 14 grandchildren.

Also, two sisters and three brothers survive: Mrs. Mary Still of Kennett Square; Mrs. Raymond Peterson of Phoenixville; Joseph M. Welsh of Royersford; Raymond C. Welsh of Collegeville; and Gerald A Welsh of Arlington, VA.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10 a.m. Monday at St Patrick's Church, 218 Meredith St., Kennett Square with internment in the church cemetery.

Uncle Leo was born 25 August 1915. He had worked for the Kennett Schools for five years. He came to live with my grandparents sometime after he and his wife separated. They split up sometime after their daughter Maureen passed in 1957. Ruth, his ex-wife, moved to California at some point and finally filed for divorce in 1966 in Sacramento.

Sunday's Obituary is a GeneaBloggers prompt encouraging bloggers to post obituaries along with other information about that person.

18 October 2014

Society Saturday: Lancaster Historical Preservation Trust

Today Lancaster City Mayor Rick Gray will proclaim it is Lancaster History Day. His proclamation will officially be presented to Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County President Lisa Horst at 10 a.m. The presentation will be made by City Council Member James Reichenbach at the Sehner-Ellicott-von Hess House at 123 North Prince Street

Click HERE to read the full article as it appeared on Examiner.com this morning.

16 October 2014

Those Places Thursday: Monuments

Long before George Clooney read the script for The Monuments Men, we - as a people - were fascinated by monuments. We were hooked even before President Theodore Roosevelt named Devil's Tower, a natural geological wonder in Wyoming, the nation's first National Monument in 1906. Like all states, Pennsylvania proudly displays its fair share of monuments as well.

Everyone loves firemen.

This monument (at left) is the Volunteer Fireman's Monument in Reading, PA. It was dedicated on 2 September 1901. The inscriptions recognize all those firemen who served since for over 100 years.

In Lehigh County, there is a 12 foot tall monument called Fireman's Drinking Fountain. The fireman stands atop the fountain and is holding a lantern in one hand and a child in the other.

Many monuments pay tribute to those who have served in some war or conflict or civil service.

Gettysburg has countless monuments remembering those who fought - on both sides - at that great battle of the Civil War. Many military monuments were erected after the Civil War. Lancaster's Soldiers & Sailors Monument was originally dedicated to those who fought in the Civil War but has come to include all those who served and is located at Penn Square, the traffic hub of the City. Lock Haven too placed her monument in a central position of honor in town.

Valley Forge and the Brandywine Battlefield each have several of their devoted to the men who valiantly fought in the American Revolution. At right is Valley Forge. The granite monument stands among the rugged cabins the men stayed in during the winter. There was no actual battle at Valley Forge but it is remembered because Washington and his men camped here.

Scranton is home to many monuments including the General Casimir Pulaski Monument. It is dedicated to the tactical general who attracted the attention of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin recruited Pulaski to leave his native Poland and take up arms during our Revolution. Pulaski is known today as the Father of the American Calvary for his immense contributions.

Many monuments and historical markers remember those who died tragically.

The Flight 93 National Monument recalls not only those who died there in Shanksville but all who perished on 11 September 2011 in the terrorist attacks on the US. In Shenandoah a bronze monument recalls the miners, many who suffered tragic horrible deaths. The Robena Mine Explosion is remembered in Greene County with a Coal Miner's Monument. It recalls all miners but especially the 37 men who died during that explosion.

Those Places Thursday is a daily genealogy prompt by GeneaBloggers designed to feature places our ancestors may have spent time.

15 October 2014

Wednesday's Child: Dorothy Helen Still

I never knew my Aunt. Her name is Dorothy Helen Still. She was born 17 February 1913 to my great grandparents: Pierson Still and Mary Kilpatrick.

I am sure her family was excited to receive her and felt blessed, having lost their first daughter just three years before. She joined my Uncle Jim (James Franklin Still) in this small family.

Sadly though, she died less than a month later on 8 March 1913 of Pertussis. Pertussis is also known as Whooping Cough, an infection best known for its tell-tale coughing spells that end with an almost dramatic whooping gasp for breath.

She was buried the following day at the Old Doe Run Cemetery. The Cemetery is across the street from the Old Doe Run Presbyterian Church on Strasburg Road, in East Fallowfield, Chester County. She shares a plot with her parents and siblings, with the exception of my grandfather (who is buried with his wife/my grandmother elsewhere). There is one other child - a stillborn - who was buried with Mary Kilpatrick Still, who died in childbirth.

Wednesday's Child is a daily genealogy prompt prompted by GeneaBloggers. Basically the prompt encourages posts about relatives as children.

14 October 2014

Gems found today

As I research various postcards and the historical images they present, I often stumble upon some gems - usual sites or information that may have a bearing down the road on my genealogical quests.

Today, while searching for information on the timeline of the State Normal School in West Chester, Chester County, I found a timeline for West Chester itself. Lots of great facts here that may help in searches at some point. For example, the Daily Local News was founded in 1872. I'm sure I probably knew that at some point but the reminder is nice!

I also listened to some videos from the National Genealogical Society while I was typing. Donna Valley Russell, fasg, was being interviewed and said one standard documentation concerns bible records. She says the first thing she looks for is the publication date of the bible. Things entered before that date have simply been copied in and cannot count as documentation.

Switching tracks ... I did some research today for a client whose family passed through Canada on their way to America. I found a Library and Archives of Canada! Definitely a site worth bookmarking.

Tomorrow I work at the nursery most of the day but Thursday I am only there until noon. No need to ask for guesses as to where I plan on being ... virtually in Canada!


Tombstone Tuesday: Leo and Maureen Welsh

Leo 1915 - 1975
Maureen 1949 - 1957
Uncle Leo (my grandmother's brother) and his daughter Maureen are buried together
at St. Patrick's Cemetery in Kennett Square, Chester County, PA.
Tombstone Tuesday is a daily genealogy blogging prompt of GeneaBloggers,
in which one depicts a tombstone.

13 October 2014

Amanuensis Monday: An aunt offers insight

Genealogy has been a hobby of mine for as long as I can recall. Since I got interested early on, I knew some of my great aunts who were great at telling family stories! I found it easier to write them then schedule a time and travel to them (even the ones who were close). Catherine Rothermal was one of those great aunts.

Catherine was the daughter of my great grandmother's brother and she knew her! This meant I was able to ask (and receive) personal information. I did however have to remember that Catherine knew her as a child and we do tend to see things differently as children. I wrote her once asking what she recalled of my great grandmother, Bessie Matys.

She wrote:

18 September 1986
Dear Jeanne,

I enjoyed hearing from you. It's great that you want to know more about the family tree. I'm afraid I won't be too much of help. My father Frank, who was your great grandmother's brother, told us he was born in Galicia. The family name was Matys. There were five children: 4 girls and my father. Bessie was the youngest. She arrived in Coatesville a young girl. She lived at our house until she married Panko. That was on 141 Main Street. I was one of her flower girls. Then she went housekeeping.

My mother's parents died when she was a young girl. She was placed in a guardians' home. The guardian arranged my mother's and father's wedding. My mother was 16 years old. Her mother was a cook for the priests. My mother too was a cook and earned her living that way. My mother was your great grandmother's sister-in-law.

Bessie was a kind and loving person as her niece, me and my family always looked forward to our visit. I left Coatesville when I was 12 years old. I'll be 80 next May, so you can see, not having any written papers or letters to help you in your writing makes it difficult just to rely on one's memory.

Let me know if there's any other questions I could help you with anytime. Best regards to your mom and Dad and your sister. Good luck.

Catherine Rothermal

Catherine passed in 1999. She herself had immigrated with her parents, though she was just a young child and did not recall anything of the trip or the immigration process. Her insight however was invaluable.

Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging prompt of GeneaBloggers, stressing the importance of preserving family correspondence.

12 October 2014

Census Sunday: Tracking down Dennis O'Flaherty

Dennis O'Flaherty was born in Ireland around 1839. He immigrated to America however nothing is known of his parents or birthplace. Once here he settled in Phoenixville and, at some point before 1868, married Martha Durkin, said to be from County Mayo in Ireland. Tracing them through the Census Records offers a little insight into the family.

Dennis and Martha had eight children. In March 1868 Martha gave birth to twins: James and Mary. A son Hugh was born in 1869.

The 1870 Census
The 1870 Census shows only Mary and Hugh with their parents. Hence, James passed before 16 July 1880 (the day the census was taken). Martha's name is listed as Hattie, which would simply be a nickname. Dennis worked in the Rolling Mill. A laborer named Patrick Hannigan lived with them as well. The census confirmed that both Dennis and Martha were born in Ireland. It also revealed that neither of them could write and that Martha could not read!

The 1880 Census
Dennis is working at the Iron Works and Martha remains "keeping house." By 1880, Dennis and Martha have six children living with them. Mary is now 12 and Hugh is now 11. In addition, Michael is eight; Dennis is seven; Maggie is three and Martha is one.

I have not been able to locate the O'Flaherty family in either the 1890 or the 1900 census. My great grandmother, Catherine O'Flaherty, was born after the 1880 census. The next time I find Martha is as a widow in the 1902 Phoenixville City Directory.

Census Sunday is a daily genealogy prompt promoted by GeneaBloggers in which one reviews state and federal census records.


10 October 2014

Funeral Card Friday: Hugh O'Flaherty

Hugh O'Flaherty was born 31 May 1869 in Phoenixville to Dennis and Martha Durkin O'Flaherty. He is the brother of my great grandmother Catherine O'Flaherty. Hugh married Katherine Dee (daughter of James Dee and Mary Sommers) on 4 November 1903. Together they had five children: Julia, Catherine, Martha, Dennis, and Hugh. They also lost one child, a stillborn child. He was a laborer throughout his life. He worked at the Iron Mill in Phoenixville as well as various odd jobs. He passed away on 24 March 1947. He was predeceased by his wife (Katherine passed in 1922) and all of his children except Dennis.
Funeral Card Friday is a daily blogging prompt prompted by GeneaBloggers in which the main focus of the prompt is a funeral card.