28 February 2013

Those Places Thursday: St Mary of the Assumption

Those Places Thursday is a weekly prompt by GeneaBloggers, in which various places are discussed. Today - being the day the Pope resigns (at 1400 ET) - I thought perhaps focusing on one of the Catholic Churches my family has attended at some point would be appropriate. Hence, I selected today's feature place to be St. Mary of the Assumption in Phoenixville, Chester County, PA.

St Mary is one of the oldest Catholic parishes in Chester County. The oldest parish in the county incidentally is St. Agnes Church in West Chester which was founded in 1793. Records for St Mary were kept from 1840. In 1841, according to the church's anniversary book, the present church grounds were purchased for $200 by Father Donahue. The church was completed in March of that year. At that time, Father Patrick Donahue - who was the pastor at St Patrick in Norristown - served St Mary's pastoral needs. He would come monthly for Mass and confessions. The other Sundays the parishioners of St Mary's would either walk to Norristown or gather for communal prayer at St Mary's.

By 1846 the parish population had more than doubled, necessitating a permanent priest. The Rev, Philip A O'Farrell was appointed pastor at that time. Father O'Farrell was born in Dublin in 1813 and passed here in 1869.

The early church family was comprised mainly of a working class. What these families lacked in material goods, they made up for in faith. In 1857, St Mary's is credited as being the first Catholic parish - outside Philadelphia - to hold Forty Hours Devotions.

According to the parish's sesquicentennial anniversary book, burials were first held in the churchyard. However a new borough ordinance restricted burials from being held within the borough limits. At this time land was aquired on a hilltop called Black Rock to serve as the new cemetery.

In 1907 another Catholc parish was erected in town, St Ann's. This effectivly divided the parish. That same year, Father James Gavin became pastor of St Mary's. He was loved dearly by the parishoners. I can recall my grandmother - Mary Welsh Still - talking of him. She was born in 1911 so Father Gavin would have been the one to have baptized her, heard her Fist Cofession, given her first Communion and Confirmation. He was also the priest who would have been the one who married her and my grandfather - Lloyd Still. Since my grandfather was Presbyterian at the time, the two were wed in the rectory. Mixed marriages - as they were called - were prohibited to occur in the church itself. Father Gavin passed shortly thereafter on 28 July 1940.

Since then the parish has seen many baptisms and weddings and funerals. It has seen renovations and growths. It has changed with the community and with the Church at large.

My grandmother's parents are the only family members I have actually been able to connect to St Mary's despite the Welsh and O'Flaherity family being large. My great grandmother - Catherine O'Flaherity - was one of seven kids. I do not know much about most of her siblings. Her sister Mary married Patrick Rodgers and I believe they moved to Philadelphia. Her brother Hugh married Katharine Dee and they moved to Pomeroy (also Chester County). Our two lines have remained pretty tight. The others - with the exception of Mary's twin James who died in infancy - I do not know anything about ... yet.

26 February 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Martin Welsh & Catherine O'Flaherty

Tombstone Tuesday is a weekly blog prompt by GeneaBloggers. This week I chose my great grandparents - Martin Welsh and Catharine O'Fharity Welsh - tombstone. My aunt - Mary K Still- was buried with them.

1885 Martin Welsh 1933
his wife
1880 Catherine Welsh 1949
1940 Mary K Still 1945

They are buried at St. Mary's of the Assumption RC Church in Phoenixville.

Mary is the daughter of Mary Wlesh and Lloyd Still. She died of complications from birth.

25 February 2013

Amanuensis Monday

Amanuensis Monday is a blogging theme for GeneaBloggers which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. The letter transcribed here today is another letter from my Aunt - Helen Still Webster.

I am going to transcribe exactly as she has written it. My comments will be placed in {} marks.

Happy Thanksgiving
Sat. Nov. 21, 1992

My dear Jeanne & Glenn,

I received your letter and glad you are working on history. That was a cute thank you card.

Yes I would like to meet Glenn. {Glenn is my husband. We married 22 August 1992}. It seems I have not seen much of you lately either. At Mary Still funeral you sat with Lloyd {my maternal grandparents}.

I do not know where our relatives came from. Well the only real americans are the american Indians and we are allfrom them and foreign countries.

If you would go to West Chester courthouse and look up Bing & Way - my father's mother, Still, Rice, Van Horn. I think you would find the material about the immigrants. Let me know if you ever find out. Yes I would appreciate a copy of the history.

One time my mother {that would be Sarah Jennie VanHorn Still} told me this story:
My great grandmother {that would be Margaret Still} had a child out of wedlock {that would be Aunt Helen's paternal grandfather George Still} so her parents bought a small farm near Goosetown and put her and the child on it, and then she had another child {that would be David Still}, so times back then must have been like today and my mothr said our name should not have been Still.

My father's father was Geo Still, at least that is what he went by, and he had a half brother David Still who lived near Modena.

There was a Still family in Modena but they did not associate with us.

I came along so late in life my parents did not talk much of our ancestors.

I don't know what our name should have been. Interesting history.

Aunt Helen Webster

23 February 2013

Surname Saturday: Durkin

Surname Saturday is a weekly prompt by GeneaBloggers which focuses on a patricualr surname. This week I have chose DURKIN. My great-great grandmother was Martha Durkin, the daughter of Patrick Durkin and Abyan Murphy.

Martha is also one of my immigrant ancestors. She was born 1 August 1839 in Ireland. She immigrated and once here settled in the Phoenixville, Chester County, PA area. It was there she married Dennis O'FLAHERTY, also from Ireland. Together they had eight children. The youngest - Catherine - is my great grandmother.

Most sources (that is I have not found any to contradicte) seem to agree that Durkin is from the Gaelic Mac Duarcáin‘son of Duarcán’. Kilmoremoy is a civil parish that is locatedin both County Mayo and County Sligo. My grandmother always said this branch of our family came from Sligo but I have never found any documentation one way or the other ... yet.

The crest above is from Irish Abroad. Everything seen in the crest means something - or did at one time. I found this site (click HERE) which explains the various meanings of the colors and symbols used in crests. The gold the crest could symbolize "generosity and evelation of mind". There is also much green in the Dukin crest. Green symbolizes "hope, joy and loyalty". Black -sadly - seems to stand for "constancy or grief". The "X" could be the symbol for a cross moline. This indicates that the original grantee (the one with whom the crest began) was the eighth son.

Whatever the crest truely means is purely specualtion until I can document a few more generations.

18 February 2013

Military Monday: Alonzo S. Eckman

Military Monday is a GeneaBloggers prompt focusing on our military ancestors.

Alonzo S. Eckman's Veteran's Compensation Application
Alonzo enlisted in the Marine Corps in Philadelphia in May of 1898. He apparently served in Pureto Rico from November 1898 to 29 January 1902. He was discharged a Private on 27 May 1903 in Brooklyn, NY. His application was reviewed and accepted as it states he was awarded a total of $200.
The application - which Alonzo himself filled out - also shows that he was born to Anna Peters and Alonzo Eckman in Desota, Kansas on 7 February 1877.
At the time of the application Alonzo was married to Agnes Florentine Evans Eckman. The couple had four minor children: Ernest, William, Joseph and Lou. The application does not ask for adult children, presumably because they would be on their own and not part of the compensation equation.
At the time of his enlistment he was living at 5012 Willows Avenue in Philadelphia. When he filed the application the family was living at 1422 North Hobart Street in Philadelphia.
Click HERE for more information on Alonzo S. Eckman.

16 February 2013

Shopping Saturday - Mom does a drive by

Shopping Saturday is a GeneaBlogger topic focusing on ... shopping! Many families – especially busy working families – would perform their weekly shopping on Saturdays. Shopping was not necessarily only a Saturday thing since mom did not work outside the house. Her idea and my idea of shopping however did not often match.

Mom owned her a wholesale craft business - Stitched With Love - and so shopping for her was the Flower & Craft Warehouse or some shipping store or even wood and tools. I think the most exciting store I went to with her on a regular bases was ... Fisher's Store in Georgetown!

I have to admit I still like shopping there on occassion. For those of you reading this who are not familiar with Fisher's ... first let me say Georgetown is a small village in Bart Township, Lancaster County, PA. It has fabric - which is why mom liked it - and household items and some books and other items. It is a variety store. The store uses gas lanterns for both light and heat. Did I mention Fisher's is an Amish owned and operated store?
Shopping with mom was not normally exciting. There were no desinger stores. At most we went to Park City but that was usually on Friday nights.

I remember one time we went to Park City and it had to be a Saturday or during the holidays because the parking lot was full. She saw the parking lot. Now I should point out here that we lived 24 miles from the mall. The parking lot was overflowing! She literally drove around the outer loop and right back on the highway. Home we went! My mom had done a drive by!

14 February 2013

Thankful Thursday: Aunt Helen Still Webster

Thankful Thursday is a GeneaBlogger prompt expressing gratitude for a person (past or present), resource, family history tool or anything connected to you or your and family history that has had a positive impact on your life. My thanks and appreciation in regards especially to genealogy is to my Aunt Helen.

Aunt Helen is Helen Still Webster, the youngest daughter of Franklin Still and Jennie S VanHorn. She was incredible. She knew everyone in Mortonville and the surrounding areas. She would read the local papers every day and if she saw something that was about you or that she thought you like, she would immediately clip it out and send it to you with a note.

It was Aunt Helen who helped me so much with the Still line. She was born in 1904 and it was not until I was in high school ... 1983-1987 ... that I got interested in researching the family. After she filled in blanks with dates and such (yes I also documented but it was a great place to start), we turned to family stories. I would write and ask a question or two and she would respond with a short essay, similar to the one I included here on Monday for Amanuesnsis Monday!

11 February 2013

Amanuensis Monday

Amanuensis Monday is a blogging theme for GeneaBloggers which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. The letter transcribed here today is from my Aunt - Helen Still Webster. She helped so much with my research on the Still line.

Her letter - dated 8 March 1994 - combines general chit chat as well as a bit of family history and memories. I must also first say that Aunt Helen was born 24 August 1903 so at the time of this letter she was 90 years old. While she was still sharp often her style of writing took some following. I have chosen though to transcribe the letter exactly as written.

My dear Jeanne & family,
     I received the history material and thank you and appreciated it very much.
     I talked with Tom Still wife and she said Beth Still Garris had got one and all enjoyed it.
     Well you deserve a lot of credit for doing so much work on Still history.
     I hope Mary Teresa is doing well. God is so good to us to send us children that we can love and enjoy. I looked up her picture and see where she is a year old. Happy Birthday Mary Theresa. Lloyd and Mary would have been so pleased with her.
     I wrote Alice Rodgers my sister son Aubrey in Cal. to ask him to send me the dates of births and deaths in his famiy and I will mail them to you.
     I also wrote Bob Still Logans son to send me the dates of births and deaths in thier family. Hope they do this and answer.
     With my eyes it is difficult to do things. Well I worked at Unionville High School for 13 years and I was 78 and my eyes I was starting to have problems with them.
     Hope you and Glenn keep well. Neva Still said she talked with you recently at Barb Ruczhaks your mother.
     That would be wonderful if you could write a book some time. People said I should have wrote a book well by the time I retired at 78 my eyes were failing.
     Well we have had 15 snow storms and another one on the way.
     Well I in 90 years never seen such icy snowy winter.
     It would be wonderful if you could write a book.
(page 2)
     Margaret Still
     Well we all started from Margaret Still and she must have been a great lady with lots of get up and go.
     My mother was not much to talk about history but she did tell me this story. she said the Stills lived in S. part of Chester Co. so this Margaret they did not know what to do with her so parents bought her a farm in E. Fallowfield on goosetown rd. now Able Book farm. it had been up for sale for huge price so Margaret moved there and became mother of David & George Still who was my grandfather.
     David lived near Modena on a farm married twice had 2 children. Billy Still moved to Modena and Clara I think we were not very close to David family. We just knew who they were.
     Well you know people back then must have been like people of today living together and not married. It is a shame that children dont know who they are.
     This farm of Margaret Still is where my father and all his brothers and sisters were born there.
     My father youngest one in the family so when the parents went away in horse and buggy my father always went along so one day he could not make up his mind so his mother dressed and undressed him several times so finally he said I will stay home so when her parents started he cried and run after the wagon so they got his clothes and dressed him on way.
     My father was a school teacher at Modena, Laurel, Embreeville and Lancaster Co. and lived on the farm before marriage then with 6 kids had to go to work at Lukens Steel Mill.
                                            Aunt Helen Webster

09 February 2013

Sunday's Obituary: Naomi O'Flaherty Catanese

My Aunt - Aunt Nonnie - passed away Friday morning. Technically she is my cousin. Her paternal grandfather (Hugh O'Flaherty) and my mom's maternal grandmother (Catherine O'Flaherty Walsh) were siblings.

Her obituary follows:

Naomi O'Flaherty Catanese, 79, of Coatesville, died on Friday, February 8, 2013 at LifeCare in West Chester. She was the widow of the late Dominic J. Catanese. Born in Phoenixville, she was the daughter of the late Dennis and Naomi Souder O'Flaherty. Naomi was a resident of Coatesville most of her life. She graduated from the former S. Horace Scott High School of Coatesville, class of 1951. She met and helped numerous people as a dispatcher for many years at Red Cab of Coatesville and Downingtown Cab. She was also a security guard at Lukens Steel. In addition to spending time with family and friends, Naomi was an avid Philadelphia Phillies Fan who enjoyed watching their games for over 50 years.

She is survived by five children; Joseph Catanese and wife Kathy of Sadsburyville, Margaret McKeon and partner Joanne Battista of Gap, James Catanese and wife Karin of Downingtown, Mary, wife of Chuck Mains of Coatesville and Glenn Catanese and wife Madeline of Virginia Beach, VA, 11 grandchildren; Dennis Catanese, Daniel Catanese, Colleen Catanese, Cory Catanese, Cody, wife of Brian Blankenbiller, Zachary Mains, Cassie Catenese, Bethany Mains, Gabrielle Catanese, Sophia Catanese and Dominic Catanese, five great grandchildren and three siblings; Denise Coblentz, Maureen McDowell and Dennis O'Flaherty. She was preceded in death by a sister Patricia Swisher.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, February 15, 2013 at 11am from Our Lady of Consolation Church, 603 W 2nd Ave., Parkesburg. Family and friends are also invited to attend the viewing, Thursday evening from 6-8pm at the Wilde Funeral Home, 434 Main St. Parkesburg and also Friday morning at the funeral home from 9:30 to 10:30am.
Memorial donations may be made in her memory to the American Diabetes Assoc., 150 Monument Rd., Suite 100, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 or the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123.
Online condolences may be posted at www.wildefuneralhome.com 

06 February 2013

My mother ...

My mom passed last night ... almost 24 hours ago ... she had been suffering COPD for years. Her obituary follows ...

Barbara L. (nee Still) Ruczhak, 69, of Christiana, passed away Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at the Brandywine Hospital. She was the beloved wife of Joseph P. Ruczhak, Jr., with whom she shared 47 years of marriage. Born in Unionville, she was the daughter of the late Lloyd and Mary Welsh Still. 

She is survived, in addition to her husband, by two daughters: Jeanne, wife of Glenn Eckman of Lancaster, and Noreen, at home, and three granddaughters: Mary, Anna and Zorina Eckman, and a brother Thomas Still of Unionville. She was preceded in death by her sister Mary Kathleen “Kitty” Still. 

She was a member of Our Lady of Consolation Church in Parkesburg. She owned a craft business for many years. She graduated from Becker Junior College, Wooster, MA and Bishop Shanahan HS, West Chester, PA.

A viewing will be held on both Friday evening, Feb. 8th from 6 until 8 p.m. at the Wilde Funeral Home, 434 Main St., Parkesburg, and again from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, Feb. 9th, at the Our Lady of Consolation Church, 603 W. 2nd Ave., Parkesburg, followed by the Mass of Christian Burial 11 a.m. Interment will be held at the St. Malachi Cemetery.

Contributions in her memory may be made to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, C/O Our Lady of Consolation Church, 603 W. 2nd Ave., Parkesburg, PA 19365. Online condolences can be posted at www.wildefuneralhome.com.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.