Friday, April 30, 2021

Chancey George Horton, Wichita, Kansas 1904

Chancey George Horton was born in 1903 in Valley Center, Kansas to parents George Arthur, a farmer, and Annie Laurie Horton. He was one of 6 children: Mary Constance, the oldest, was born in 1901, followed by Chancey in 1903, Julia Sibyl in 1905, Myrtle Helene in 1911, Lawrence Calvin in 1914, and finally Bill in 1919. They all grew up together on the family farm in Grant, Kansas.

Chancey lived a short but full life. The Valley Center Index, the local newspaper, reveals the many days he spent visiting friends and attending parties. He was athletic, participating in football, basketball, and other sports. He was a debater and an orator in school, a "representative in reading," and in his senior year, won the scholarship for the Valley Center High School class of 1922. Upon graduating high school, he entered Normal Training with the goal of becoming a teacher. 

His obituary notes that around 1922, Chancey attended a revival held by pastor and composer Rev. William M. Runyan and was converted. He joined the Methodist church and became the president of the Epworth League at Valley Center (a Methodist association for young adults), as well as a Sunday School teacher. After graduating from Normal Training, Chancey found work as a teacher near the town of Jetmore, where he met and became engaged to another teacher, Alta Hendrickson. He went on to teach in Park, Kansas until he grew ill in spring 1924. A note in the Valley Center Index from March of that year mentions that a Mrs. Hammers is teaching in his place as he recovers from an illness. Chancey passed away at home on April 21st, 1924, at the age of 20. 

Alta Hendrickson, his fiancee, never married but continued to teach and eventually became a county superintendent. 

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Amanda Tonn and Carola Harning, Wisconsin, 1906


"My dear Carola,
Why haven’t I had a
line from you. I feel
slighted. How is that dude?
Agnes has been wanting to
write to you every day! She
is so busy with her music.
I presume you have heard
of Katherine’s illness. I do hope she will
recover. She is so sweet. I go to Lake
Pewaukee Wednesday P.M. Shall stay
till Oct. 1st. Isn’t this a B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l
likeness of Yours Sincerely, Manda Tonn"
-Sent September 3rd, 1906

Carola Harning, to whom this postcard is addressed, was born in Wisconsin in 1888 to parents Charles and Adaline. She was the second of three daughters, with older sister Oriel and younger sister Edith. Carola grew up in Menomonee, Wisconsin, where her father ran a farm. By 1910, 21-year-old Carola and 18-year-old Edith are both working on the farm with their father, while Oriel has married and left home. Edith eventually moved to Milwaukee, where she worked as a clerk in a bookstore. Carola stayed home with her parents. Neither she nor Edith ever married. After the deaths of their parents, Edith moved back in with Carola to help her manage the family farm, with help from their cousin, Harvey.
Carola Harning passed away in 1971 at age 83.

So who was Manda Tonn? Were they school friends?  Two other girls are mentioned in this postcard, Agnes and Katherine, which could help in finding Amanda. Here is my best guess:

I believe the Manda in this photo is Amanda Tonn, born in Wisconsin about 1885 to parents August and Julia Tonn. The Tonns had several children, which made research a little confusing. I know of 10, though there may have been more. By 1900, August and Julia were divorced, which can't have been an easy decision with so many children to care for. It seems that some of the younger children went to live with older, married siblings, which was the case of Agnes Tonn, who is living with her older sister, Helena, and her family in the 1900 Census. I might guess that this is the Agnes Amanda mentions who wanted to write to Carola but was busy with her music. Agnes and Carola were the same age, so it makes sense they would be friends.

In the 1905 Wisconsin State Census, Amanda is 20 and working as a servant in the home of Joseph and Martha Gabes. In 1906 she sends her friend Carola this postcard from Milwaukee, mentioning that she plans on visiting Lake Pewaukee, a popular vacation spot of the time that featured an amusement park and hotels. As someone who spent much of her life working, this must have been a special trip.

Amanda appears again in the 1910 Census, now living with her older brother Edward, a streetcar motorman, and his wife Emily. She is about 25 and has gotten a job as an office clerk. Just the year prior in 1909, her younger sister Agnes died of tuberculosis at the age of 21. After this,  Amanda appears only a few times more in Milwaukee city directories over the next few years, working as a cashier, clerk, and secretary among other things, before disappearing after 1921. 

It is possible that Manda married and changed her name, making her more difficult to find in records. I wonder if she and Carola remained friends throughout the years?

If you know who either of these girls may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Paul and Aline Masson, Elkhart, Indiana 1900s


Writing on the back reads:
"Paul, Aline Masson, 2 friends +
Gene Brown"

This lovely photo captures a group of children on a fishing trip down by the river. There is no location on this photo, but I believe it was taken in Elkhart, Indiana. The boy and girl on the left are Paul Homer and Aline Georgia Masson, the only children of Joseph and Edna Masson. Joseph, a baker, immigrated from France around 1890 and married Edna just two years later. Paul was born in 1899, followed by Aline in 1903. Baking was not Joseph's only occupation- in the 1914 Elkhart city directory he is listed as a "vulcanizer," or someone who works with rubber, and in a 1930 directory he is listed as a bookkeeper.  

Paul worked as a baker with his father until he was married in 1923 to Gaynell McDaniel. In the 1930 census, he is working as the manager of a motor supply house. Around this time, Paul and Gaynell daughter, Shonnie, was born. The family moved to Chicago and lived in Illinois until Paul's death in 1970 at age 70. 

Aline married Charles M. Ulery when she was 18. The couple had two children, Kathleen and Joanna. They lived with Aline's parents in Indiana for many years before moving into their own home. The family eventually relocated to Dallas, Texas. Aline passed away there in 1978 at the age of 75.

If you know who any of these folks may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, February 26, 2021

Mrs. William H Fitch III, Detroit, Michigan, 1880's Part 2

This is the second post on the life of Eleanora Fitch. Check out the previous post for Part 1.

When we left off Eleanora's story, she had just become a widow after losing her first husband, William H. Fitch, in 1884. In November of the next year, Eleanora Fitch married her second husband, William J. Murphy, in Detroit, Michigan. The new couple moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where they were joined by Eleanora's daughter, Alice. 

Alice Underwood Fitch lived quite an interesting life, the timeline of which isn't always clear. In 1882, when she was 19, Alice married James H. Lynch in a small wedding. The marriage lasted only a few years until, as a Detroit Free Press article noted, "after much tribulation on the part of the honorable and devoted wife," the couple divorced.  At some point following the divorce, Alice decided to pursue her love of the stage and became an actress with Daniel Frohman's Lyceum Company at the Lyceum Theatre in New York, where she performed in such plays as "The Charity Ball." This information also comes from a 1908 article in the Detroit Free Press, though I haven't been able to find any more on Alice's time as an actress. Other newspapers note that Alice did live with her mother and step-father in Fort Worth, though for what period I'm not sure. 

My biggest mystery in researching Eleanora's life is actually her death. I cannot find any death records, obituary, or even a grave that might tell me when exactly Eleanora passed away. My best guess is sometime in the late 1890s. In the 1900 Census, William J. Murphy is living in a boarding house in Fort Worth and is listed as "widowed." Around 1899, Alice moved to Paris to study art. It makes sense that she might choose to leave Fort Worth soon after her mother's death. 

Alice had great success as an artist in France and became notable for her miniature portraits and reproductions of classic paintings. J.P. Morgan even commissioned her to recreate a portrait of Napoleon in miniature, which Alice herself claimed was "valued at fifty thousand francs" and was "in a frame studded with about three hundred diamonds." For this miniature, she was honored with the French "Ordre des Palmes académiques," an order bestowed on distinguished academics. At the start of the First World War, Alice trained to be a nurse and volunteered at the American Red Cross Military Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, just outside of Paris. She worked as a night nurse there for three months before suffering from a nervous breakdown and returning to Fort Worth to stay with a friend. She spent the remainder of the war visiting schools to speak of her experiences as a nurse and encouraging girls to learn first aid skills. Alice then continued her work as an artist in the United States. She passed away in California in 1936 at age 73.

If you know who these folks may be and can help us fill in the gaps of Eleanora's life, let us know in the comments!

Friday, February 5, 2021

Mrs. William H Fitch III, Detroit, Michigan, 1880's Part 1

Eleanora Underwood was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1841. She was the second daughter of Albert G. Underwood, a plasterer, and his wife Joannah. She had one older sister, Eliza, and three younger sisters, Martha, Alice, and Ida. Albert died in 1855 when Eleanora was 14. Probate records tell us that upon his death, Albert owned 7 people: Henry, a 35-year-old plasterer and his wife Agnes, 16-year-old Jo, 11-year-old Henry, 35-year-old Scippio, 40-year-old Charlotte (described as "sickly") and Robert, "aged about 52 years." Though their mother was still alive, Eleanora and her sisters were placed in the care of another couple, Paul and Eleanora Kay. 

According to law, Eliza and Eleanora should have had a say in the matter as they were both 14 years of age and older at the time of their father's death. The Kays appointed themselves as the children's guardians without consulting either of the two eldest daughters. Paul Kay, like their father, was a plasterer and it is likely the two men worked together. In order to pay off debts after Albert's death, all of the enslaved people he owned were sold. The remaining money was to go to the girls. As the Underwood girls were minors, their inheritance was given to their guardians- in this case, the Kays. Eliza and Eleanora stated in their petition that Paul Kay "does not profess to take any duties in the said guardianship to which he had been appointed" and that his wife Eleanora's treatment of the girls "had not been of that kind, bland, and maternal character which they had been prepared to expect or taught to believe formed the duty of a guardian." Instead, they suggested that Sylvester Bailey, Esq., would make a more suitable guardian. Bailey was a lawyer from New York who, in 1846, had been elected mayor of South Memphis and later became a judge. How the girls knew Bailey, I'm not sure. Was he a family friend? Simply a trusted figure in the community? Maybe they were friends with his daughters, Laura, Rosella, and Eveline. Their request was granted and Sylvester Bailey became their guardian.

Not long after they petitioned to be removed from the care of the Kays, both girls found husbands. In July 1856, Eliza married druggist Richardson Brewster. Her mother Joannah, as well as her three youngest sisters, all moved in with them. Eleanora, at 16, was married the following year to William H. Fitch. The decision to marry made sense, as it would have provided both of the eldest Underwood daughters with the stability their lives lacked. Eleanora's life, however, was about to change drastically.

She grew up in a largely slave-holding state. Her father owned enslaved people. Sylvester Bailey, the man who was briefly her guardian, also owned enslaved people. Yet William H. Fitch, the man she married, was an abolitionist, a Radical Republican, and staunchly pro-Union. There's no way of knowing what Eleanora's personal views were. If she had political opinions of her own, she had little opportunity to voice them. William Fitch, on the other hand, was extremely vocal on these matters.

Fitch became the president of the Memphis Gas company and was a respected member of the community. Though he had no political experience, he was outspoken on the issues that mattered to him. In November 1867, at the encouragement of his friends, William announced that he would be running for mayor. Though he was generally considered a "man of integrity," his radical views made him an unpopular candidate from the start. Memphis newspapers were littered with brutal attacks on his character, primarily his support of equal rights for African Americans. The Memphis Daily Post described him as "one of that contemptible crew who not only asserts their belief openly in the doctrine of social equality with the negro, but practices it." While her husband pursued a political career, Eleanora was left at home to care for their three young children, William Hayes Jr. (born 1859), Mollie (born 1860), and Alice (born 1863). Ultimately, William did not win the election.

The family moved to Detroit, Michigan around 1871, where William became president of the Mutual Gas Company. The Fitches lived on Jefferson Avenue, where they were eventually joined by Eleanora's mother and her youngest sister, Ida, who was now 24. The family also employed 3 servants: Thomas Bruce, Mariah Robertson, and Georgia Morton. On January 11th, 1880, the oldest Fitch daughter, Mollie, passed away from tuberculosis. She was only 20 years old. Fours years later, Eleanora would face yet another loss. On October 7th, 1884, William H Fitch died at the age of 55. Michigan death records list his cause of death as "unknown," though his obituary in the Detroit Free Press speculated it was caused by "progressive paralysis" due to overwork. The obituary described William as "a good fighter, a hard hitter, and...had many and bitter enemies."
 Eleanora is photographed here in mourning. She did not remain a widow for long, however.

I will cover the rest of Eleanora's story in my next post. If you know who this may be, let us know!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Amanda Hansen, Sheffield, Illinois 1890-1900s


Amanda Nielsen was born July 4th, 1881 in Lolland, Denmark, to Hans and Anna Nielsen. She had one older sister, Christina, and two brothers, Chris and Peter. Christina emigrated to the United States in 1885 when she was 20 and settled in Sheffield, Illinois with her husband, Hans Carlsen. The rest of the Nielsen family arrived in the U.S. in 1890, when Amanda was 8. They joined Christina in Sheffield, where Amanda would live for most of her life.

On February 6th, 1901, 20-year-old Amanda married farmer Peter H. Hansen, also an immigrant from Lolland. They had one daughter, Leora, born in 1907. Leora seems to have been a well-loved girl. Upon her engagement to Ernest LeBahn in 1929, her friends held several parties in her honor. Leora wed Ernest in the Lutheran parsonage of Manlius, a nearby town, and they soon set off to start a farm of their own.

In combing through newspapers, I was able to catch glimpses of Amanda and Peter's life together in Sheffield. I found that Sheffield had a thriving community of Danish immigrants who arrived in the 1870s and 80s, and who in 1894 built themselves the Danish Brotherhood Society Hall. According to a 1935 article in the Moline Dispatch, this "one-story frame building...touches the history of practically every Danish family whichever lived in Sheffield." I have to imagine Amanda and Peter gathered here with friends and family often for the various "weddings, silver and gold wedding celebrations, Christmas programs...and dances galore," held at the Society Hall. In 1926, Peter and Amanda celebrated their own silver wedding anniversary in the hall. By 1939, when the Hansens celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary, the Society Hall had been sold, converted into a tavern, and moved to a new location. A Dispatch article notes that the Hansens held a large party at their home instead. 

Peter farmed until about 1931 when the Hansens moved from their farm into town. Following a long illness, he passed away in 1950 at age 75. Amanda lived to be 78, passing away from a heart attack in 1960. At the time of her death, she had two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, December 18, 2020

J.C. Trader and Mrs. Lizzie Goolsby, Horton, Kansas 1902

“Taken May 30. 1902,
Received June 15. 1902.
Mr. L.C. Trader and Mrs. Lizzie Goolsby”

Emma Elizabeth Fries, or Lizzie, was born November 20th, 1879 in Speiser, Nebraska. She was the second of George and Rhoda Fries’s five children. In May 1898, at age 18, Lizzie married Howard Goolsby. That September, Howard was participating in a jackrabbit chase when he was thrown from his horse. His injuries proved fatal. Howard died at just 20 years old, leaving behind a pregnant Lizzie. Their only son, Howard, Jr., was born in December. By this time, Lizzie had returned to live with her parents and siblings in Speiser. 

Lizzie remarried in Horton, Kansas in 1903 to Louis Charles Trader, who worked as a railroad shopman. It seems that this photo was taken before their marriage, which may explain why Lizzie is labeled as “Mrs. Lizzie Goolsby” rather than by her new married name. Their first child, a daughter named Mary Elizabeth, arrived in 1907. Sadly she fell ill with pneumonia and died at just 9 months. In 1908, Lizzie finally had another healthy boy, Charles.

As a young man, Howard decided to take after his step-father and began an apprenticeship as a railroad shopman. Charles worked as a farm laborer and eventually as a carpenter for Chevrolet. He would be the only one of his family to leave Horton, moving from Kansas to Texas with his wife Evelyn in the 1940s. I believe it's through Charles that this photo ended up here in Texas, where I found it in an antique shop.

Lizzie remained in Horton for the rest of her life. During her time there, she was an active member of the Horton Methodist Church and the Rebekah Lodge. After their boys left home, Louis Charles continued to work- the 1940 census lists his occupation only as "labor," though he was by then in his late 60s. He passed away in 1955 at age 89. Lizzie joined him in 1967 at age 88. Her obituary noted that at the time of her death, she had one grandchild and three great-grandchildren. She was buried with Louis Charles in Horton Cemetery.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!