Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine from Marguerite to Percy ~ 52 Ancestors #7

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Valentine.

My great grandparents, Percy Earle Hunter and Marguerite Lysle, were very happily married. This is the couple whose photograph I shared at 52 Ancestors #2: Favorite Photo.

In my collection of family memorabilia, I have the following valentine, sent from Marguerite to Percy for Valentine's Day, 1923.


The envelope was addressed to Mr. P. E. Hunter, 836 North Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, which was where the family lived during the 1920s and 1930s.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Bezaleel (Favorite Name) ~ 52 Ancestors #6

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Favorite Name.

As I have shared before, my interest in genealogy started with my Chapin ancestry. The name of my 4th great-grandfather, Bezaleel Chapin always fascinated me, as it's an unusual name.

A quick search of the given name Bezaleel [exact spelling] in federal census records at Ancestry.com produces fewer than 30 in any given year and even fewer by the 20th century. Too bad my ancestor didn't live long enough to appear in more records.

Bezaleel Chapin was the son of Ephraim Chapin and Jemima Chapin (who were second cousins 1x removed). He was the seventh of eight children of his parents. In fact, two of his older siblings were twin boys, born in August 1764: Benjamin and Bezaleel. Benjamin survived, but the first Bezaleel died at about six weeks of age. It was common at this time for parents to name a later child after an earlier one that died.

He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts:

Springfield Births, p. 246, Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Ancestry.com.

~~~~~~~
Bezaleel Chapin Son of Ephraim Chapin
& Jemima Chapin of Springfield was born
March 21st anno Dom. 1769
~~~~~~~

Friday, February 2, 2018

Different Names and Ages In the Census ~ 52 Ancestors #5

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is In the Census.

I have several great great grand-aunts who didn't age ten years between the ten years of federal census records.

I also have one whose name is different in every census record I can find her in!

Second great grand-aunt, Isabelle Lysle, was born 7 March 1840, in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, according to an 1889 passport application, but she had to have been born before 1840 based on census records. She married James S. Whigham sometime in the 1860s and he died in 1886. They had no children and she is later found living with and traveling with her unmarried sisters. She died in May 1924 in Manhattan, New York.

1 June 1850 U.S. Census record: Isabella Lysle, age 13 (born 1836-1837)
1 June 1860 U.S. Census record: Bell Lysle, age 22 (born 1837-1838)
1 June 1870 U.S. Census record: Isabelle Whigham, age 30 (born 1839-1840)
1 June 1880 U.S. Census record: Bella Whigham, age 38 (born 1841-1842)
1 June 1900 U.S. Census record: Isabella Wigham, age 48 (specifically reported born March 1851)

Although I have found her sisters, Eliza and Caroline, in Washington, D.C. in 1910, I have not been able to find Isabelle in the 1910 or 1920 federal censuses, or the New York 1905 or 1915 censuses, but I did find a death notice telling me that Isabel Lysle Whigham died in May 1924 in Manhattan (which is why I looked at the state censuses). (Her sister Caroline died in Washington, D.C., in 1914, and sister Eliza died in Pittsburgh in 1928.)

In October 1889, when she applied for a passport, she signed her application as Isabella Whigham and reported her birth date as 7th day of March 1840.

From U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,
Roll#341: 16 Oct 1889-30 Nov 1889 at Ancestry.com.

Isabella / Isabelle / Belle is described in her passport application as follows:
Age: 49 years
Stature: 5 feet, 3 1/2 inches
Forehead: oval
Eyes: gray
Nose: straight
Mouth: medium
Chin: pointed (I think)
Hair: brown
Complexion: medium
Face: square

She applied for the passport in the fall of 1889 along with her two sisters, Eliza and Caroline. According to their passport applications, they were planning to travel for about a year. The identification section which is an affidavit that the person applying for the passport is who she says she is, is signed by her brother, George Lysle, Jr.

This application has the signature of my second great-grandfather and his sister, my second great grand-aunt, Isabella. (Same on the applications for Eliza's and Caroline's passports.)

Her gravestone in Union Dale Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was engraved with yet another name: Isabel L. Whigham and dates of 1836 - 1924.

Union Dale Cemetery (Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania), Isabel L. Whigham marker,
Lot 32; Range 1; Section A; Division 3; personally read, 29 August 2017.
(Photograph taken by the author.)
A cautionary tale about not trusting any one source for a person's name or age.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Census sources:
1850 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Allegheny City, p. 192 (stamped), dwelling 335, family 367, Isabella Lysle in George Lysle household; image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 January 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 744.

1860 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, McKeesport, p. 413 (stamped), dwelling 756, family 775, Bell Lysle in George Lysle household; image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com: accessed 2 January 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1063.

1870 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Mifflin Township, p. 15 (penned), dwelling 107, family 118, Isabelle Whigham in James Whigham household; image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com: accessed 27 December 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1294.

1880 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, [City/Town], enumeration district (ED) 69, p. 420A (stamped), dwelling 29, family 36, Bella Whigham in James Whigham household; image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com: accessed 27 December 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1090.

1900 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Pittsburgh, enumeration district (ED) 232, p. 14 (penned), dwelling 231, family 249, Isabella Wigham in Caroline Lysle household; image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com: accessed 4 October 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1362.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Invite to Dinner: Questions For My Grandmother ~ 52 Ancestors #4

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Invite to Dinner.

Although inviting a long-ago ancestor to dinner to ask probing questions is always a wish of genealogists (who were your parents, Susan Rood Chapin?), thinking of questions that we want to ask of a grandparent who died almost 30 years ago happens all the time.

I am going through a stack of old negatives of different sizes from the 1910s through the 1950s (maybe 500 of them?) in order to determine which ones I will pay a local company to scan for me. Due to the large size of many of them (3.5" x 5"), as well as the curling that happens with these older negatives, it could be extremely expensive for me to have them all scanned. Hence, I am trying to narrow down what I truly want scanned.

However, I just figured out what setting needed to be adjusted in order for my flatbed scanner to scan many of them (as long as one side is shorter than 2.5") so I only have to pay for the larger ones to be professionally scanned.

I inherited these from my mother and her sister. Their mother was Helen Lysle Hunter (1907-1990), and although she was not a genealogist, she was a collector of family memorabilia and much of it has come to me as the family historian, including all these negatives, almost all of which are from her family, both as a girl and young woman, and of her daughters.

While going through these, I am thinking about the questions I would love to ask my grandmother over a long, leisurely dinner:

I recognize you in this photo (at right) and your sister Caroline in a few other photos, but who are all those people you are on the beach with? How old were you in this photo? is this in the mid-1920s? Tell me your stories about vacationing in North East, Pennsylvania. (I know that the Hunter family of Pittsburgh spent their vacations in North East, and I have photos of my mother and her sisters there in the late 1930s. That is Lake Erie in the background.)

How did you end up with the stack of negatives from Goldfield, Nevada? Did you get most of Uncle Jack's negatives at his death in 1984? (See 52Ancestors #3 about Uncle Jack.) Did he share more stories about his time in Goldfield?

Did your father, Percy, travel to Goldfield too? It appears that there are some additional, different-sized negatives of buildings in that town.

Is that Uncle Jack in the apron preparing dinner? And who are the women in the blurry photos? Is it true that he placed a $100 bill under everyone's plate at his 100th birthday party?

What can you tell me about your family's short time living in California in 1912? It appears that I have a few negatives from that period of time.

These are among the many, many questions I would love to ask my grandmother if I could invite her to dinner. Looking at photographs is a great way to trigger memories and get people to tell stories about those memories.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Great Uncle Jack Lived to 102 ~ 52 Ancestors #3

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Longevity.

In the early 1990s, when I was just starting out in researching my family history, I learned that my mother's great uncle Jack Hunter died in 1984 at 102 years old. He was the sixth of ten children of James Hunter and Mary Freeland Hunter, both of whom died in 1902.

He was written up in the Pittsburgh Press for his 100th birthday.