Thursday, December 9, 2021

Bettie and Phil Stroud, Temple, Texas 1900s

"Aunt Bettie and Uncle Phil Stroud"

Philip Stroud was born in Conway, Arkansas on August 17th, 1854. He was the youngest of Lucinda Stroud's 5 children. I couldn't find a record of Philip's father, as I believe he died when Philip was very young. His widowed mother, Lucinda, supported her family by working as a farmer.

In 1880, Philip married Calista Elizabeth Owens, who I believe is the "Aunt Bettie" in this photo. Calista was born in Tennessee in 1857 to G.W. Owens. She married Philip in Arkansas at age 23. The couple settled first in La Crosse, Arkansas, where they lived with Philip's sister Margaret and a niece. Philip was mainly employed as a farmer. In 1892, he was appointed postmaster to the nearby town of Lunenburg. 

The Strouds went on to have a total of 6 children, though only 3 would survive to adulthood. Their oldest, Georgia, was born in Arkansas in 1883. Gillum, their only surviving son, arrived in 1888. Meldia was born just a few years later in 1891. 

By 1900, the Strouds had relocated to Temple, Texas, where Philip again worked as a farmer. In 1902, Georgia Stroud married J.H. Cooper. In May of the next year, she passed away at just 19 years old.  The grave of the Stroud's oldest daughter bears the inscription: "Our darling one hath gone before, To greet us on the blissful shore."

Gillum married Emma Davis in 1904 when they were both 16. The couple had 2 children.
Meldia married James Finis McSpadden in 1910 at age 18. They had 3 children.

In June 1914, Philip and Calista moved to Wayne, Oklahoma. Philip soon fell ill. According to his obituary, "his sickness was of three weeks duration in which time he suffered much from the malady, cancer..." Philip Stroud died on August 16th, 1914 at age 59. His obituary reveals how deeply he was loved and respected by his community. It notes that Philip was, among other things, "an honest man," someone whose "generous nature...tender regards...charitable and sympathetic disposition had won the love and respect of all the good and tender in the community." 

Calista lived another 12 years until February 1926, when she fell ill with pneumonia. She passed away at age 69.

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

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Lucinda and Joseph Ritenour, Xenia, Ohio 1880s

These photographs are of Joseph Ritenour and his wife, Lucinda, the in-laws of Robert Wainwright from my last post. 

Joseph R. Ritenour was born in Virginia in 1834. He was a farmer and veteran of the Civil War, having served in the Union army in the 73rd Regiment, Ohio Infantry, Company D. He married his wife, Lucinda Little, on October 25th, 1860. Lucinda was born in Ohio in 1839 and grew up there with her 5 siblings. Before her marriage, she worked as a teacher in Ross, Ohio.

Joseph and Lucinda had 5 children, the third of which was Anna (wife of Robert Wainwright), born in 1863.

Lucinda passed away in 1898 at age 59. Joseph followed her 16 years in 1914 at age 80 after suffering from paralysis. 

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

Friday, October 8, 2021

Dr. Robert Leever Wainwright, Xenia, Ohio 1880s

The photograph has some water damage, so I cleaned up the image in Photoshop.

Robert Leever Wainwright was born in Ohio in 1855 to Redding Wainwright, a farmer, and his wife, Elizabeth Leever. Robert was the youngest of the Wainwrights' 6 children. 

Though initially he worked as a farm laborer with his father and brothers, he eventually became a physician. After his father passed away in 1878, Robert lived with his mother in Jefferson, Ohio.

Robert married Anna Elizabeth Ritenour in Greene County, Ohio, on October 28th, 1883 when he was 27 years old. Tragically, they were married only a few months when Robert passed away on May 25th, 1884. This photograph, which I would date to the 1880s, may have been one of the last taken of him. In his will, he left to his widow Anna his surgical instruments, medical books, and a horse and buggy among other things.

Anna would eventually remarry in 1890 to Daniel Erastus Little, with whom she had 3 daughters.

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

Friday, October 1, 2021

Henry and Andrew Hawkins, Owatonna, Minnesota 1890s

Andrew Haakensen was born in Laerdal, Sogn, Norway in 1862. His brother, Henry, was born in 1865. They were the sons of Haakon Olson and Anna Haagensdatter Vold. The family immigrated to the United States around 1873. Upon arrival, the family shortened their name from Haakensen to Haken, and eventually to the more American Hawkins. They settled in Wayne, Iowa, where their father, now going by Olson Haken, worked as a laborer. 

Andrew married in 1894 to Synneva Monson Groethe, who would eventually go by Sarah. The couple had three sons, Hagbarth (b. 1894), Adolph (b. 1896), and Carman (b. 1906). Andrew supported his family by working as a farmer in LeRoy, Minnesota, which is about an hour away from Owatonna, where this photo was taken. 

Henry married a few years after his brother in 1897 and, coincidentally, also married a Sarah. Henry and Sarah made their home in LeRoy, where Henry ran a dry goods store and became well-known in the community as a successful businessman. They had one son, Tillman, born in 1902.

Andrew lived in LeRoy for the rest of his life, passing away there in 1931 at age 69. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the year of Henry's death. 

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

Friday, September 10, 2021

Marjorie Long Bishop and Ida Brant Freeman, Rahway, New Jersey 1900s

"Marjorie Long      ?       Ida Brant Freeman"

Only two of this wonderful trio are identified. The gentleman in the middle with the fancy hat and umbrella is unfortunately labeled with only a question mark. I was, however, able to find out a bit more about our ladies here.

Marjorie Long was the only daughter of Nathaniel Long and Jennie Brant. She was born in February 1888 in Rahway, New Jersey. Her father Nathaniel was an electrician at a time when electricity in homes was still fairly new. The family's home in Rahway was just 4 miles from Roselle, New Jersey, which in 1883 became the first town lit by electricity as part of a demonstration by Thomas Edison. 

The Longs lived with Jennie's sister, Maggie Brant, her husband, Lindley Freeman, and their daughter, Ida. Ida was born in July 1882, just 6 years older than Marjorie. Though they were cousins, I have to imagine the two girls grew up as sisters. 

Maggie Brant died in 1893 at just 31 years old, leaving her husband a widower and Ida without a mother at age 11. Lindley and Ida continued to live with the Longs while Lindley worked as a painter. 

In 1908, 20-year-old Marjorie married Edward Bishop. Edward worked as a freight manager for a steamship. Together they had two sons, Robert and Everett. 

Ida, meanwhile, got a job as a maid for the Dennis family in Marlboro, New Jersey. She continued to work as a maid for many years. In the 1940 census, her occupation is listed as "practical nurse" and she is lodging in the home of a Mr. and Mrs. Crawford. 

Marjorie Long Bishop lived to be 75 years old and passed away in October 1963. 

Ida Brant Freeman passed away 5 years later in 1968 at age 86.

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

Friday, August 20, 2021

Ella Martin Parker, Vermont/New Hampshire, 1860s

"Ella Martin
(Mrs Scott Parker)"

I had some difficulty researching the woman in this photograph. I was unable to find an Ella Martin who married a Scott Parker and lived in New Hampshire. I was, however, able to find an Ella Martin who married a Clark Parker and lived in Springfield, Vermont, which is right on the border between Vermont and New Hampshire. The ages between this woman and the one in the photograph match up. Ella spent the last years of her life in Massachusetts, where this photo was purchased. I think the details are close enough to be her- what do you think?

Ella Martin was born in Springfield, Vermont, on April 21st, 1852 to Dexter Martin, a chair manufacturer, and his wife Charlotte. She was one of 10 children, though several of her siblings died while still young. Two twin siblings, Collins Dexter and Lucy Jane, died on the same day in 1843 at the age of 3. An older brother, Horace Haywood, served with the 7th Vermont Infantry in the Civil War. After sailing aboard a steamer to Louisiana and witnessing the Battle of Baton Rouge in August 1862, Horace fell ill with tuberculosis. He died at the Marine Hospital in New Orleans at just 22 years old. Tuberculosis took another of Ella's brothers, Frederic Edmond, in 1869 at age 23. I have to wonder if perhaps Ella herself fell ill around this time, which would explain her short hair.

In 1876, when she was 24, Ella married Clark Converse Parker. They lived together on their farm in Springfield, the town they were both born and raised in. Ella and Clark had four children: Lula, Carl, Ernest Martin, and Alda Lottie. I couldn't find any record of Lula and Carl as adults, which leads me to believe they may have died young.

In 1908, 56-year-old Ella lost both her older brother, John Henry, and her husband, Clark. She continued to live in Springfield with her son Ernest, who worked as a machinist, her daughter, Alda, a teacher, and her sister, Lucy. 

In 1920, Ella is living as a boarder in the home of the Lawton family in Chester, Vermont. Her occupation is listed as "companion." 

In 1930, Ella has moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. At 77, she is living with her son Ernest and his family. In 1937, Ella fell ill. She spent the last months of her life living with her daughter Alda in Reading, Massachusetts. She passed away there on December 17th, 1937, at age 85.

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

Monday, August 2, 2021

Pansy Niver, Caton, New York 1900s

Pauline "Pansy" Eola Niver was born in Caton, New York in 1888 to blacksmith Abner Niver and his wife Mary. Pansy was the only girl among three boys- Clay, Cloy, and a younger brother, Drexel. Another brother, Grover, died as an infant. I believe this photo, taken sometime between 1904 and 1907, may show the interior of the Niver family home in Caton. A few details tell me this is taken in a home rather than a studio: the natural light creeping through the window shutters, the framed photo on the wall, and the large family Bible sitting amongst other books on the side table. 

In 1907, 19-year-old Pansy married William E. Beaman (sometimes spelled "Beeman.") William worked for the New York Central Railroad. Together they had two children. Their first son, Niver, was born in 1911 and was named for his mother's maiden name. Drexel, named for Pansy's brother, was born in 1917. That same year, Pansy's mother Mary passed away. In 1920, William, Pansy, and their sons are living with Pansy's widowed father, who continued to work as a blacksmith in a repair shop. 

By 1930, Pansy and William had divorced. William remarried and remained in New York, while Pansy moved with her sons to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. Here, she worked as a waitress and took in boarders.

Niver served in the Coast Guard Reserves during WWII before becoming a successful reporter. Niver was the city editor of the Waterbury American, a Connecticut newspaper, when it won a Pulitzer Prize for journalism in 1939. He went on to write Fat Man in a Phone Booth: Notes Off a Newspaperman's Cuff, a collection of comedic stories from his time in journalism. Later he left journalism to serve as California Governor Earl Warren's publicity director. Drexel, like his brother, also served during WWII. He married Jane Hamberger, with whom he had six children.

Pansy passed away on November 1st, 1954 at age 67. At the time of her death, Pansy's last name is listed as "Wagner" and her death certificate notes that she is married. Her obituary, however, mentions no husband, only her sons and her two surviving brothers. 

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

Friday, July 23, 2021

Linnie Lawson and Her Sister, Stephenville, Texas 1900s

"Aunt Lennie Lawson + her sister."

This is a photo of Linnie King Lawson and one of her sisters, probably Mahala King Walker. Since they're not labeled, it's hard to tell which sister is which. Any guesses?

Linnie Esther King was born in Mississippi in June 1882 to parents Allen and Rebecca King. She was one of 7 children, including her older sister, Mahala, younger brothers Thomas, Allen, Fernandes, and Andrew, and a little sister named Ursula. The family lived together on their family farm in Stephenville, Texas. Mahala, also sometimes called Ollie, was 4 years Linnie's senior. I believe that by the time this photo was taken sometime in the early 1900s, both sisters would already have been married.

In December 1901, 18-year-old Linnie married Winfield Scott Lawson. The couple lived in Thurber, Texas, and raised 3 children there: Mayme, Doy, and David. 

Mahala married William U. Walker in June 1907. They lived in nearby Stephenville and had 7 children, one of whom was named Linnie after her sister.

Linnie's husband Winfield, who worked as a truck driver, was drafted into the military in 1918 at the start of WWI. His draft registration card describes him as "stout" with brown hair and brown eyes. Their son Doy worked in the oil fields as a young man, while David assisted his father in his trucking business.  Both sons went on to serve in WWII. After her husband passed away in 1937, Linnie lived with her daughter, Mayme, Mayme’s husband, Maynard, and their 3 children. Linnie Lawson passed away in 1949 at age 67.

Mahala’s husband, William, worked various jobs to support his family. In 1910, he is listed as an artist, specifically a landscape painter. Mahala meanwhile is working at a feed store. In 1920, William is a miller at a flour mill. In 1930, his occupation is listed as “laborer” in the crude oil industry. In 1940, at age 66, William is a farmer. He passed away at home in Stephenville in 1954. Mahala lived another 20 years before passing away in 1974 at age 97.

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

Friday, July 2, 2021

Ernest Haywood Miller, Texas, 1910s

Ernest Haywood Miller was born in Louisiana in August 1892 to parents Hubbard and Priscilla Miller. In 1900, Ernest and his 4 siblings, Octavia, Ruth, Clemmie, and Seabourn, are living with their parents on a farm in the small town of Muddy Fork, Arkansas. By 1910, the family had relocated to Silver Valley, Texas, where 17-year-old Ernest is working with his father on the farm. The family also gained three new members, Emma, Norah, and Onnie. 

In April 1917, the United States joined World War I, and in June of that year, Ernest registered for the draft. Just a few months later, in August, he married Lola Jane Brush, in Shackleford, Texas. They were only together a brief time before Ernest was shipped out to France with the 121st Infantry, 31st Division. They arrived in October, where the unit was broken up to serve as replacement groups for other units and sent directly to the front.

While Ernest fought overseas, Lola remained at home in Texas, pregnant with their first child. The baby was born sometime early in 1918 amidst the rapidly worsening Flu Epidemic overtaking the country. According to information left by a family member on Lola's Find A Grave page, Lola was nursing others ill with the flu in Cove, Arkansas when she herself became infected. Her sister, Minnie, cared for Lola until her death on November 8th, 1918. Her baby passed soon after. It is difficult to imagine what Ernest must have gone through, learning that his wife and child had died while he was so far from home. 

Ernest returned to Texas in May 1919 and settled in Henrietta. It was here that he met Flora Wilson, the daughter of a local farmer. They married in 1923 when Ernest was 31 and Flora was 17. They moved in with the Wilsons and lived on their farm in Wichita, Texas. Ernest was unable to work due to a disability he possibly gained during the war and his father-in-law may have helped support the couple. They had 2 sons, Ernest Haywood, Jr. (born 1927) and William (born 1928), and a daughter, Wanda (born 1930). Both Ernest Jr. and William would go on to serve in World War II. 

Ernest Haywood Miller passed away in 1959 at the age of 66 and was buried in Wichita County Cemetery in Wichita Falls, Texas. 

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

Friday, June 4, 2021

Graduating Class of St. Vincent's Academy, Detroit, Michigan 1904


The 8 young women in this photo are the 1904 graduating class of St. Vincent's Academy, a Catholic girls' school in Detroit, Michigan. The academy building was constructed in 1897 as part of the St. Vincent de Paul church complex. Many of these girls are the daughters of Irish immigrants, while some made the journey from Ireland themselves.

Genevieve Stapleton was born on December 22nd, 1884 in Borrisokane, Tipperary, Ireland. Genevieve, or Jenny as she was sometimes called, was the last of Patrick and Mary Stapleton's 10 children. She was just 6 years old when the family immigrated to the United States and settled in Detroit, Michigan. Sadly, her father Patrick passed away in November of that same year.  Genvieve attended St. Vincent's Academy and went on to become a teacher. She continued to teach in Detroit for the rest of her life and lived with her older sister, Anna. She passed away in 1955.

Helen Ryan, born in 1887, was the only child of Denis and Anna Ryan. Her father was a manufacturer of knitted goods. In 1910, Helen married Walter Quinlan at St. Vincent's church in a gown of white lace over silk and a tulle veil adorned with sprays of orange blossoms. The couple settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where they raised 5 daughters. She passed away in 1960 at age 73.

Catherine Monahan, born July 1886, was one of 7 children. Her parents, Patrick and Ellen, both emigrated from Ireland to the United States in their teens and early twenties. Patrick worked as a grocer to support his large family, including his sister-in-law, Mary Moran, who also lived with them. After graduating from St. Vincent's, Catherine became a teacher. In 1915 she married William J. Burns, with whom she had 8 children (a family just as big as the one she grew up in!). At the time of her death in 1983, Catherine had 27 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.

Frances Lahey was born in Michigan around 1887 to parents John and Frances. John, like Catherine's father Patrick, worked as a grocer to support his 7 children. He was also the son of Irish immigrants. Like many of her peers, Frances worked as a teacher after graduating from school. In 1913, Frances became a nun and joined the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1920, she is teaching at a parochial school in Akron, Ohio, while living in a boarding house with several other teachers (who were likely other nuns teaching at the same school.) By 1930, Frances had returned to Michigan to live and teach at St. Mary's Catholic School in Mt. Clemens. At some point, Frances took the name Sister Florence Louise, which she went by for the remainder of her life. Sister Florence became the head of education at Marygrove College in 1938 and served as dean between 1938 and 1945. She passed away in 1967.

Ann Markey was born in Detroit on March 2nd, 1886 to parents James and Mary Markey. Ann, like nearly all of her classmates, came from a large family. She had 8 siblings- 2 older and 6 younger. Ann's youngest brother, Harold, eventually became the pastor of St. Vincent's. After graduating, Ann taught for a while before marrying Henry J. Brennan in 1913. The wedding was held at - where else?- St. Vincent's church, where Ann walked down the aisle in a gown of white charmeuse, lace, and pearls, with an ivory prayer book in hand. She became the mother of 7 children. Ann enjoyed entertaining and spent her summers at Port Huron, Michigan. She passed away after an illness of several months in 1948 at the age of 62.

Emma Quirk, born in Michigan in February 1880, was the youngest of James and Mary Quirk's 9 children. Emma's father was an Irish immigrant who worked as a laborer and sewer inspector. Unlike her peers, Emma mainly studied music at St. Vincent's. After graduation, she began teaching piano and harmony out of her home studio. I wasn't able to find any record of Emma beyond that point. Her father's 1916 obituary notes that he is survived by 3 daughters, all of whom are nuns in the Good Shepard Order, so it's very likely that Emma became a nun and possibly changed her name, making her difficult to find. 

Margaret Cohen was born in Detroit on November 24, 1884, to parents Michael and Jennie Cohen. Michael, the son of Irish immigrants, worked as a factory foreman. Margaret had one older sister, Frances, who graduated from St. Vincent's in 1901. Both girls went on to become public school teachers and lived at home to care for their parents. Frances passed away in 1939, followed by Margaret in 1943.

Catherine Walsh was born in December 1888 to Irish parents James and Ellen Walsh. She was one of 5 daughters, as well as 3 other siblings who passed when they were young. After her father's sudden death in 1909, Catherine and her older sister, Bessie, worked to help support the family. Bessie found a job as a saleslady, while Catherine worked as a seamstress at a dress shop. In December 1910, Catherine married William Demeck, a machinist at an auto factory. The couple had 2 children, Norman and Mae. In 1932, Catherine filed for divorce from William, listing the reason as "non-support." In 1938 she married Ole Erickson, who she divorced the next year due to "cruelty." I lost track of Catherine after this point, so sadly, I'm not sure where her story ends.

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

Friday, May 14, 2021

J. Woodward Sutphen, Long Branch, New Jersey 1900s

James Woodward Sutphen was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey in 1884 to John H. Sutphen, an architect, and his wife, Elizabeth. He had one younger sister, Gladys, who joined the family in 1890. As a young man, Woodward worked as a butcher before becoming a chauffeur for a private family.

Outside of work, Woodward's real passion was ice skating. He was an avid speed skater and a member of the Saratoga Skating Club of Brooklyn. A 1907 article in the Daily Record (the local paper of Long Branch, New Jersey) mentions that Woodward, like other local skaters, learned to race on Shrewsbury River. In February 1908, 24-year-old Woodward competed against 60 other skaters in the United States skating championship at Verona Lake. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, nearly 6,000 people were present for the event. "The weather was chilly," the paper noted, "and the wind that swept down from the hills...was decidedly brisk." Despite the conditions, Woodward came first in both the one-mile and three-mile races and became the United States speedskating champion.

Woodward, far left, practices at Saratoga Park, 1908
In 1915, Woodward married Miss Grace Reilly. Grace was working as a bookkeeper at Jacob Steinbach's Department Store when she met Woodward. According to a wedding announcement in the Daily Record, the wedding came as a surprise to many. After the wedding,  the couple promptly set off for a honeymoon in Canada. The article also notes Woodward's various medals from Montreal, Quebec, Pittsburg, Saranac Lake, Verona Lake, and St. Nicholas Rink. 

Woodward served in the First World War and worked as an inspector for the Army Motor Transport Corps. In September 1919, a victory celebration was held in Long Branch, where he and 35 other men (and one woman) were presented with watch fobs and certificates by the mayor to thank them for their service. That same month, Woodward and Grace's son, Robert, was born. In 1920, the family is living in Manhattan with Grace's mother and siblings. It is possible that Woodward and Grace separated at some point in the years following, as they are living apart by 1925. In 1930, Woodward, now working as a mechanic, is living at home with his parents, sister, and son, Robert. It's unclear when the couple officially divorced, but in 1940, Woodward married Myrtle Gravatt. 

Myrtle and Woodward remained together until his death in 1949 at the age of 65. His obituaries all made sure to note his brief but successful career as a speedskater. 

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

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!