23 April 2016

Surname Saturday: George Still of Lehigh County

My Still line had had me at a blockage for years. I am able to get back to the late 1700s but I have not left Chester County. I do not where the family came from originally or even who is my immigrant. As such, I have taken to tracing random Stills from time to time to see if I can connect them. Most I have been able to remotely connect. On Sunday, I posted a Sunday’s Obituary piece of little Emma Still. She was just a year old when she died.

The Allentown Leader announces death of Emma Still.
Her obituary, which ran in The Allentown Leader, reads:
Emma G., the young daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Still, died at 7:30 last evening of pneumonia, aged 1 year and 4 months. The funeral will take place Friday at 9 a.m., from the parents’ residence, No. 532 North Court Street. Internment in Highland Cemetery. Rev. Dr. J. F. Pollock will officiate.

Pennsylvania began keeping death certificates on a state level that year and I found her death certificate. That started me down a genealogy rabbit hole!

From her obituary, I learned that Emma G. Still was born on 26 March 1905 in Pennsylvania to George Still and Emma Johnson, both of whom had been born in New Jersey. Emma died on 17 July 1906 at 532 Court Street, in the 9th Ward of Allentown in Lehigh County, of pneumonia. She was buried 20 July 1906 in Highland Cemetery. Her death certificate also revealed that Emma was colored.

The 1900 US Census revealed George Still was born in August 1859.
I found a George and Emma Still living on Court Street in Allentown in the 1900 US Census. George is listed as the head of house. He is a black male, born in August 1859. George was 40 years old. He was married within the year. He, and his parents, were born in New Jersey. He listed his occupation as “Boot Black.” His wife Emma – his very young wife Emma! – was a black female born in August 1880. She was just 19 years old. Married less than a year, she already mothered two children, one of whom had already died. George and Emma also had a five month old son, born January 1900. The son George was born in Pennsylvania.

The 1910 US Census offered more information about George Still and his family. George, now 51, indicates this is his second marriage and that he and now 31 year old Emma have been married for 11 years. This is her first marriage. She had mothered three children but only two are living. Little Emma who died in 1906 would be their third child. Their son George Jr. is now 10 and they have an eight year old daughter Florence. Ancestry transcribes his occupation as “Board Maker” and his industry as “Street”; however, reading the census myself, it looks like it could again read “Boot Black,” like in 1900.

Poor George ended up in the County Home in South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, according to his death certificate. Aside from the date of birth, everything else does match. I do not know who the informant was so it is possible they were incorrect in the actual birth date. I found a married black man named George Still, born 15 November 1858, whose regular occupation had been a “Boot Black.” He died 14 October 1923 of Bright’s Disease. He had been born in New Jersey. His father (new info!) is listed as James Still, also born in New Jersey. There is no record of his mother’s name. George was buried in Fairview Cemetery on 17 October 1923.

The Allentown Leader reported the death
of Emma's earlier child.
My rabbit hole did not stop there. A further search for “George Still” in the Allentown paper led me to an article date 22 October 1898. The article is titled “Terrible Agony and Death of a 15 Month Old Colored Child.” The child – Agnes Johnson - resided with the family of George Still at 532 Court Street. Her mother was Emma Johnson! Little Agnes had died on the 21st after drinking carbolic acid and literally burning her throat. The funeral was a private one and internment was at West End Cemetery.

This last find, of course, simply raises more questions. In any case, I doubt these Stills have anything to do with my Still line but it has been interesting falling down the rabbit hole with them!

Allentown Leader. (Allentown, Pennsylvania), 18 July 1906. Page 1.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Allentown Ward 5, Lehigh, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1429; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0065; FHL microfilm: 1241429

Year: 1910; Census Place: Allentown Ward 5, Lehigh, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1363; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0141; FHL microfilm: 1375376

Surname Saturday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.