Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 10 genealogical finds of 2011

Photo by Pierce Place


As the year comes to a close, I've stepped back to review my most exciting genealogical finds of 2011.  I will say that much of this wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't started blogging this year.  Preparing a blog post really makes me review things, think about the information I've gathered, and put it all in one place.  I should probably say that blogging has been my number one genealogical find for 2011 but I'll just put it here because I have 10 other top finds.  But I do want to thank my friend, Kerry Scott, for suggesting that I start blogging.  She's smart about stuff like that and knew that it would take my research one step farther.

So in my best David Letterman voice I give you my top 10 genealogical finds for 2011:

Number 10:  I published my very first book!  It's not a published book in the typical fashion but I did publish a book of my blog.  My mother doesn't use a computer and I really wanted a way to share what I've written with her.  And since she lives in another state, I didn't have the luxury of just showing it to her on the computer.  So based on the suggestion of fellow blogger Heather Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy, I used http://www.blurb.com/ to extract my blog.  From there I did some formatting, added/deleted some photos, and I had a great Christmas gift for my mom.  She read it in one day and told me she got teary eyed as she read parts of it.  For anyone who knows my mom, you know that she is a pretty non-emotional person so to hear she had tears means a lot to me.  And here it is.


I'm the little one in the flowered dress
Approximately 1957

Number 9:  I found a new great grandmother!  After thinking that my 3rd great grandmother was Clarinda, I discovered that the mother of my 2nd great grandmother, Rebecca Waller, was Rebecca Parker.  And even more meaningful as I remembered when we gave our oldest daughter the middle name of Rebecca, both of my grandmothers told me that their favorite grandmothers were named Rebecca. 

Number 8:  While this discovery wasn't about my family, I have been dabbling in researching my husband's family.  One of the interesting characters in his family was "Old Man Byrd" who was murdered by Confederate sympathizers in Tennessee in 1861.  We laugh that he's referred to as an old man when he wasn't that much older when he died than we are today.  While we've found a treasure trove of information about him and even found a new cousin, nothing compared to learning of the book A Unionist in East Tennessee:  Captain William K. Byrd and the Mysterious Raid of 1861.  And to top it off, it was written by another cousin, Marvin Byrd!


Number 7:  Finding relatives!  This year has brought some new cousins and I couldn't be more excited.  One is a cousin on my maternal grandfather's side and lives not far from my mother.  As proof that this really is a small world, we discovered that my mother, along with her parents, attended the wedding of my new cousin's parents.  Two other new cousins are both descendants of my favorite subject, Emery Waller - one of these cousins lives in DeWitt County, where many of our ancestors lived, and the other lives about an hour from me.  How cool is that?  Additionally, I connected with a cousin on my father's side, as well as my mother's half sister.  Welcome to my family!

Number 6:  I took my first research trip.  How fun was it to have three volunteers scurrying around and  helping me find information.  While it was overwhelming, it was an experience I'll never forget.  My only regret is that I hadn't found my new cousin prior to my visit so that we could have met in real life and gotten to know each other.

Number 5:  This is part two of my research trip but I need to call it out on its own.  What a thrill to see the original marriage certificate for my 2nd great grandparents, Rebecca Waller and William Warren McAboy.  I'm proud of myself for not creating a scene and running from the building with the certificate in hand but I managed to behave like an adult and settle for a photo.


Number 4:  The McPherson Sentinel interviewed me for an article about my number 1 genealogical find and placed it on the front page of the paper in honor of Veteran's Day (unfortunately, they couldn't get it in until November 12).  What an honor to have something so meaningful to me be noticed by others.  Click here to read the story. 

Number 3:  Finding and restoring my 2nd great grandmother's (on my dad's side) Eastern Star document.  What a thrill to have an original document from the late 1800's, much less by the other "favorite" grandmother named Rebecca.  It now holds a place of honor in my home and I just love looking at it.  What a find!

Number 2:  Finding my 3rd great grandfather, Emery Waller, in Kansas.  I wasn't convinced that the $75 fee to receive his pension records would be worth it, but I pulled the trigger and decided to go for it.  I'd always thought he had lived his life out in DeWitt County, Illinois but while reviewing his pension records the light bulb went off and I realized he had spent the last years of his life in Kansas.  KANSAS!

And my number 1 genealogical find for 2011:  Getting Emery Waller's grave marked.   After months of waiting, corresponding with my 'helper' Kevin Stockham, waiting, thinking about it, waiting, wondering if it would really happen, waiting.....you get the idea.  Emery was finally honored just in time for Veteran's Day!  And just because I want to see it again, here is Emery's gravestone!



While at times I feel like I'm not making any headway, I reflect on all that I have learned in the two years I've been researching my family.  What started out as a quest to find Gunzendorfers has brought me to Revolutionary and Civil War heroes, slave owners, black sheep family members, and a contingent of California Jews.  It has been an amazing journey and I can't wait to learn more.

Who knew?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Past


I recently rediscovered the photo album my parents put together to remember the first two years of my life.  Since I was born 11 days before Christmas, I thought I might find some things to document how we spent the holidays.  We came from a 'mixed' marriage - Dad was Jewish and Mom was Christian - but we were raised Jewish.  I do remember Mom saying that she never wanted to take Santa Claus away from her kids so we became the envy of the neighborhood as we celebrated Hannukah and Christmas - SCORE! 

So here we are at what Dad wrote in the album 'Debi's first Christmas'.  I guess he didn't count the year of my birth since I was a newborn but this is technically my second Christmas.  Aren't we cute?


Carolyn and Deborah Levy
December, 1955
I know I didn't help that year but I do remember painstakingly putting tinsel on the tree in later years.  Does anyone even use that stuff anymore?

And the following year may have been the first year Dad took a photo to put on the holiday card.  I found several different poses from 1956 but thought this one was the best. 

Deborah and Carolyn Levy
November, 1956

It looks like the same Santa!  And I think those stockings are the same ones we used every year.  I'll bet at some point we run across those at Mom's house.

My sister and I live in different states now and don't get a chance to see each other very often.  But when we do, it takes me back to those early days when we spent every day together.  I just wish my memory was better so that I could actually remember some of the details!  And Doug, sorry you're not in these photos but you weren't born yet :-)

Merry Christmas - enjoy the past along with the presents!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor: KIA - Robert Melvin Hunter



Robert Melvin Hunter
1918-1941

The Fresno Bee
December 16, 1941


Fresno Naval Officer Dies in Pacific Attack

Navy informs relatives Ensign Robert M. Hunter Killed in Action

Ensign Robert M. Hunter, 23, of Fresno, assistant navigation officer on an American battleship, was killed in a Japanese raid in the Pacific.

Word of his death was received from the navy department today by local relatives.  The message from Washington D.C. gave no details other than that he was killed "in line of duty" and that relatives will be informed later regarding the body.

Naval restrictions prevent the use of the name of Hunter's ship or the area in which he met death.

Second Fresnan Killed

His death was the second reported among the numerous Fresno young men serving with the navy, _____ Gastner, 21, a gunnery officer, also was killed.

Hunter, who had been in active service since his graduation from the Northwestern University Naval Academy about five months ago was the son of Sheldon A. Hunter, local district manager for the Western Union Telegraph Company, and Mrs. Harriet Hunter, a nurse, also of Fresno.  His grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Pease who reside on Church Avenue.



Robert Melvin Hunter, born April 16, 1918, was my mother's step brother.  His father's second wife was my grandmother, Clara Fitzgerald.  Robert was aboard the USS Oklahoma when it was hit and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (aka The Punchbowl).


An interesting tidbit I discovered while I was putting this together was that there is now a memorial at Pearl Harbor for the USS Oklahoma.  We last visited Pearl Harbor in June, 2007 and I have no recollection of a memorial there.  I've learned that the memorial opened in December, 2007 which explains why I don't remember seeing it.  It looks like a beautiful place to visit.

USS Oklahoma Memorial
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Photo by Dennis Frank

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: Edward Fitzgerald

EDWARD F. FITZGERALD

Edward Francis Fitzgerald, long-time Fresno County employee, was found dead in his home at 1023 N. Thorne Ave., apparently the victim of a heart attack.

The 89-year-old Fresnan will be buried in the I.O.O.F.Cemetery Thursday in the John N. Lisle Chapel.

He was born in Yolo County, and came to the Academy district east of Fresno in 1888 with his parents, Mr. and Mrs.Matthew Fitzgerald.  He attended school in Letcher, a foothill community.

A few years ago he made a return visit to the mine where the cottage in which he and his late wife, Mabel Viola McAboy, spent their honeymoon in 1901, still stands.

In later years he was to serve two terms as constable, run unsuccessfully for sheriff and county supervisor, work in the county welfare department and become clerk in the justice court.  He retired from the latter post in 1949.

Through the years he had been active with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Native Sons of the Golden West, Fresno Elks Lodge 439, Los Palmas Lodge 366 of the Masons and the High Twelve Club.

He leaves two daughters, Mrs. Clara M. Hunter and Mrs. Viola Crawford, and a son, Stanley, all of Fresno, and a brother, John in Woodland.  Five grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren also survive.

Edward Fitzgerald was the only great grandfather I had the honor of knowing and I remember him quite vividly, too.  Clara Hunter was my maternal grandmother.  I need to do more research on the 19 great-grandchildren because I have no idea where that many came from!

During a google search, I found some reference to Edward Fitzgerald with the Shaver Lake Fishing Club.  I asked my mother about it and while she doesn't remember anything specifically about his participation in the Fishing Club, she does remember going on family outings as a child to Shaver Lake.  I also found a picture of Ed Fitzgerald included with the Fishing Club historical website, and when I compare it to the obituary photo, I'm fairly convinced it's him.  And my mother agrees :-)

Ed Fitzgerald
Shaver Lake Fishing Club
Edward was born July 5, 1879 in Yolo County, California.  However, when I requested a copy of his birth record the County Recorder certified that there was no record of a birth found from 1/1/1878 to 12/31/1905.  Edward was the son of Mathew William Fitzgerald and Julia Horgan.  Edward died July 21, 1968.

Photo from obituary enlarged


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: Rebecca Waller McAboy

Fresno Morning Republican
Wednesday, October 24, 1928
Page 11

Rebecca M. McAboy, Long Time Resident, Dies at Age of 83

Mrs. Rebecca M. McAboy, 83, resident of California for 38 years, and widow of the late W.W. McAboy, died last night at the home of her daughter, Mrs. W.K. Langworthy, 463 Belmont Avenue.  Mrs. McAboy was a native of Ohio and leaves a son and two other daughters, E.J. McAboy, Mrs. A.K. Dick and Mrs. E. Fitzgerald, all of Fresno.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later by Stephens & Bean.

Fresno Morning Republican
Thursday, October 25, 1928
Page 11

McAboy Funeral Today

Funeral services for Mrs. Rebecca M. McAboy, 83, a native of Ohio and mother of Mrs. A.K. Dick, Mrs. E. Fitzgerald, Mrs. W.R. Langworthy and E.J. McAboy, all of Fresno, who died Tuesday, are to be held this afternoon at 3 o'clock at the Stephens & Bean chapel, with burial to follow in the I.O.O.F. section of Mt. View cemetery.


Rebecca Waller McAboy
Mt. View Cemetery
Fresno, California

Rebecca was my 2nd great grandmother.  I wrote about her husband, William Warren McAboy - he was my Black Sheep ancestor.  Their youngest child, Mabel McAboy Fitzgerald, was my great grandmother.

Rebecca was the daughter of my favorite subject, Emery Waller.  Her mother, Rebecca Parker Waller, died 6 days after Rebecca Waller McAboy's birth. 

I'm anxious to learn more about Rebecca and hope that at some point I'll run across a photo of her.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Emery's "First" Veteran's Day


Photo by sholden

In the two years I've been researching my family, I've learned a lot.  Not just a bunch of names and dates to identify and organize my ancestors but I've learned a lot about history.  Which to the people who know me this must seem completely ridiculous.  I was one of the kids in high school who took social studies during summer school for the sole purpose of getting it over with - quickly.  I remember about 15 years ago going on a tour of Civil War battlefields with my husband and children and trying, desperately, to at least act interested.  But in reality I just didn't care.  How I wish I could have a do-over on that trip.

And now here we are at Veteran's Day and for the first time, the celebration seems to mean so much more.  While I'm thankful for those with us today and want to honor them for their service, I'm also remembering those who helped our country get to this point.  And now I know how many of my ancestors played a hand in shaping this country and for that, I'm eternally grateful.

But no ancestor has captivated me more than my elusive 3rd great grandfather, Emery Waller.  I first wrote about Emery here and then about requesting his Civil War Pension Record.  Nothing was more exciting than the surprise of finding Emery in Kansas and, ultimately, finding his final resting place.  But if you've followed along with me you know that when I found Emery in McPherson, Kansas, he was lying in an unmarked grave.  And at that time I made a vow that the story would not end there.

My goal was to get the grave marked, although I'm really not sure how I thought I would accomplish that.  I knew the Department of Veteran's Affairs would supply the headstone at no cost but from that point, I'm not sure how I thought I'd get the stone from my home in Washington to Kansas.  I'm not sure the details are important but I must give a shout out to Kevin Stockham of Stockham Family Funeral Home in McPherson, Kansas.  Once I connected with Kevin, he helped me through the process by completing the forms, accepting the stone, and then arranging to have it placed.  I have absolutely no idea how I could have ever completed this project without his help.

But I did have his help and thus, the project was completed this week, just in time for Veteran's Day.  Emery Waller is now present and accounted for!

Captain Emery L. Waller
1813-1890
McPherson Cemetery, McPherson, Kansas

An even bigger surprise is that I was contacted by the local newspaper, the McPherson Sentinel - they'd like to include an article in their Veteran's Day edition telling the story of how I found Emery and how we got the gravestone placed.  Stay tuned for the rest of that story - wonder if Good Morning America will also be calling me for an interview?

Who knew one ancestor would take me on such a wild ride?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Fresno High School


Postcard
Fresno High School
Who knew so many of my family graduated from Fresno High School?  Sure, I've always known that my parents both graduated from there (1944 and 1946), as well as my dad's older brother (1938).  We always heard the stories - Mom and Dad met there, Dad was quite the track star, Dad was class president, and I'm sure many more that I've forgotten over the years.  Plus, there were lots of ribbons and trophies in Dad's room at my grandparents' house proving just how active he was in school.  The high school was located just down the street from their home and we'd walk or drive by and I would try to envision Mom and Dad as school kids.

But now I've learned that my dad's father, Sigmund Levy, and at least two of his brothers (Leon and Ben) also graduated from Fresno High School - Leon in 1904, Sig in 1906, and Ben in 1910.  And what a surprise to learn that my mom's mom, Clara Fitzgerald, also graduated from the same school (probably 1921).  How cool for my parents to have gone to the same high school that one of their parents went to!

The first Fresno High School classes were held on September 12, 1889 and the first graduating class of 7 students completed their studies in 1891.  The school began on the second story of the Emerson Elementary School on the corner of Santa Clara and K (now Van Ness) streets.  Over the years the student body increased and in 1921 the school moved to the present location at 1839 Echo Avenue, which is within blocks of the home where my dad grew up.

Check out this picture from 1943 of the Fresno High Owlet Editorial Heads - not only is my dad in this photo, but his cousin Gilda, youngest daughter of Ben Levy.

1943 Fresno High Owlet Editorial Heads
Gordon Levy, 2nd from right
Gilda Levy, far right

What a blast I'm having collecting postcards - what will I find next?

Monday, October 31, 2011

B-I-N-G-O

Photo by klynslis



I'm not sure exactly how I decided to finally take the plunge and start blogging.  I really thought it would be too much work for someone who was just beginning to research my family and that no one would pay much attention to what I had to say.  Try as I might to ignore it, there was a little nugget out there taunting me - what if someone actually read it and turned out to be a relative?  Could that happen?  I'd heard of it happening to others but I just couldn't imagine it happening to me.

Over the last year or so I've found a few cousins through ancestry and it was defintely a high point.  They were eager to share information with me and I loved every minute of corresponding with them.  I come from a really, really small family so when I find a new relative, it feels like I've hit the jackpot.

But nothing compared to the comment left on my blog last week.
I am from the Waller line. Through Caroline waller, E. L. Waller's daughter. She married Joseph G. Foster. They stayed in this area. I assumed E.L. had until i found this post tonight. I just started this side a month ago. I am very close to where they lived here. Please get in touch with me. I am very excited to get with you.  wow, amazing!

Remember Emery. Waller, my 3rd great grandfather?  It's a long story but I thought Caroline Waller was Emery's sister, not his daughter.  But after sharing information with my new cousin she helped me realize that Caroline was, indeed, his daughter and the older sister to my 2nd great grandmother, Rebecca Waller.  Which makes us 4th cousins, 1x removed!

And the cherry on top is that she lives in DeWitt County, the place where I researched this summer.

So even though finding a cousin wasn't the only reason I'm blogging, there was a part of me that always hoped someone would find me.  I wanted to be one of the success stories bloggers talk about.

B-I-N-G-O!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Byron Hot Springs


This is the newest addition to my vintage postcard collection - Byron Hot Springs Hotel.

The top caption reads: The beautiful hotel at Byron Hot Springs, Contra Costa County, California.  THE CARLSBAD OF AMERICA.

The bottom caption reads: Rates $4 and $5 per day, including three meals.  FREE mineral baths - mineral swimming pool - solariums.  Delicious food - real comfort - delightful atmosphere.  World renowned mineral waters and baths.  55 miles from San Francisco - paved highway all the way - S.P.R.R. direct to Springs.  (Established 1868)

Why is this important to me?  My great grandfather, Louis Schwartz, died at Byron Springs, California on May 23, 1893 at the age of 59.  While I know quite a bit about Louis, the last three months of his life are a bit of a mystery to me.  I know that he retired in Santa Cruz and moved to Byron Springs in search of health.  But then the trail is cold.

While looking for postcards, I stumbled across this one and it led me to a little research about Byron Hot Springs which led me to a historian for the area.  We've been in contact and she has hospital records from that time period.  And, she's agreed to help me with some research!

I hope to learn even more about Louis and, specifically, about his death.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

SNGF: Ancestors GeneaMeme

This meme comes from Geniaus

The Ancestors' Geneameme

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

You are encouraged to add extra comments in brackets after each item 

Which of these apply to you?
  1.  Can name my 16 great-great-grandparents
  2.  Can name over 50 direct ancestors
  3.  Have photographs or portraits of my 8 great-grandparents
  4.  Have an ancestor who was married more than three times
  5.  Have an ancestor who was a bigamist
  6.  Met all four of my grandparents (I met all 5 when including my step grandfather)
  7.  Met one or more of my great-grandparents (spent 12-14 years with two)
  8.  Named a child after an ancestor (although I didn't know it at the time)
  9.  Bear an ancestor's given name/s
  10.  Have an ancestor from Great Britain or Ireland
  11.  Have an ancestor from Asia
  12.  Have an ancestor from Continental Europe (LOTS)
  13.  Have an ancestor from Africa
  14.  Have an ancestor who was an agricultural labourer
  15.  Have an ancestor who had large land holdings (not sure what "large" means)
  16.  Have an ancestor who was a holy man - minister, priest, rabbi
  17.  Have an ancestor who was a midwife
  18.  Have an ancestor who was an author
  19.  Have an ancestor with the surname Smith, Murphy or Jones (Jones as both first and last name)
  20.  Have an ancestor with the surname Wong, Kim, Suzuki or Ng
  21.  Have an ancestor with a surname beginning with X
  22.  Have an ancestor with a forename beginnining with Z
  23.  Have an ancestor born on 25th December
  24.  Have an ancestor born on New Year's Day
  25.  Have blue blood in your family lines
  26.  Have a parent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  27.  Have a grandparent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  28.  Can trace a direct family line back to the eighteenth century
  29.  Can trace a direct family line back to the seventeenth century or earlier
  30.  Have seen copies of the signatures of some of my great-grandparents (great great great)
  31.  Have ancestors who signed their marriage certificate with an X
  32.  Have a grandparent or earlier ancestor who went to university
  33.  Have an ancestor who was convicted of a criminal offense
  34.  Have an ancestor who was a victim of crime
  35.  Have shared an ancestor's story online or in a magazine (Tell us where)
  36.  Have published a family history online or in print (Details please)
  37.  Have visited an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries (the city in one instance   and have seen the home on the internet in another)
  38.  Still have an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries in the family
  39.  Have a  family bible from the 19th Century
  40.  Have a pre-19th century family bible

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Sig Levy House

1549 Echo Avenue, Fresno, CA

This home was built in 1934 by Taylor-Wheeler.  It was built for my grandparents, Sig and Loraine Levy, and was the home my father grew up in.  He was 7 when they moved in and the family owned the home until 1982 when my grandmother passed away.  We spent so much time in this home as kids and I have so many memories of our time in Fresno staying in this home.

I remember the little room adjoining the garage where Grandpa Sig kept all of his gadgets.  We loved to explore with him and we'd always leave with some sort of treasure.  And I remember the big field behind the citrus orchard behind the house that was as big as a football field - I can just imagine my dad and his brother back there tossing the football around.


Philco, 37-650
 
I remember my dad's bedroom with the photos of Dad in his track uniform and many of his awards.  My sister and I would lie on the floor, listening to the antique radio, and coloring in our Babes in Toyland coloring book.
 
That house must have been the talk of the neighborhood with the modern ammenities inside.  There was a little niche in the hallway upstairs that held a little radio unit and there were some "call" buttons located throughout the house.  I have a vague memory that it was something like an intercom system so the maid could be called to come upstairs while she was downstairs.

And the basement!  While it was dark and a little creepy to enter, there were more treasures there.  Dad had a great collection of little army men that we'd drag out and play with for hours.  But don't leave a mess - Grandma wouldn't have liked that!

Even my oldest daughter remembers this home as she was lucky enough to visit her great grandmother several times before she died.  She has a memory of hiding crayons behind the paneling in the office/den where we watched TV.  Isn't it funny that we both have memories of crayons in that house?

How I wish I'd asked more questions when I was there.  Can you imagine the secrets that house heard in almost 50 years?

Gordon, Robert,
Loraine and Sig Levy
Behind the house, approximately 1948




Saturday, October 1, 2011

SNGF: List your matrilineal line

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Genea Musings

1) List your matrilineal line - your mother, her mother, etc. back to the first identifiable mother. Note: this line is how your mitochondrial DNA was passed to you!

2) Tell us if you have had your mitochondrial DNA tested, and if so, which Haplogroup you are in.

3) Post your responses on your own blog post, in Comments to this blog post, or in a Status line on Facebook or in your Stream at Google Plus.

4)  If you have done this before, please do your father's matrilineal line, or your grandfather's matrilineal line, or your spouse's matriliuneal line.

5)  Does this list spur you to find distant cousins that might share one of your matrilineal lines? 

Here's mine:

Geraldine Martin - 6/8/1928, Fresno, CA - still living
Clara Maxine Fitzgerald - 1/22/1903, Fresno, CA - 2/27/1987, Fresno, CA
Mabel Viola McAboy - 6/6/1883, Clinton, IL - 11/12/1966, Fresno, CA
Rebecca Moriah Waller - 2/7/1845, Warren County, OH - 10/23/1928, Fresno, CA
Rebecca Parker - 10/10/1814 - 2/13/1845, Warren County, OH

That's it for the women on this branch of the tree. 

I have not had my DNA tested.

I would love to find cousins from this branch.  If you're out there, please leave a comment!

Alvarado Street

Remember when I wrote about The White House, the Gunzendorfer family mercantile which was located on Alvarado Street in Monterey, California?

I'm now the proud owner of my first vintage postcard which shows Alvarado Street in about 1905.  Somewhere on this street stood The White House! 





As my dad used to say, now I can visualize what it looked like! 




Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day isn't a great day for me

Robert (standing) and Gordon Levy
December, 1930

On September 3, 1950 my parents, Gordon Levy and Geraldine Martin, were married.   On Saturday, September 3, 2005 they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary and two days later, Labor Day, September 5, 2005 my dad was gone.  Although Dad had Parkinson's and other health issues, the heart that had been repaired 26 years before just gave out. 

Gordon Floyd Levy was born in Fresno on February 11, 1927 and was the second son of Sigmund and Mildred Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy.  He graduated from Fresno High School in 1944 and after a two year pause for service in the US Army Air Corp, he received a Bachelors Degree from Stanford University in 1949 and a MBA in 1951.  He joined Dean Witter in 1951 and served as a Broker, Partner, and Branch Manager until 1974.  After spending 10 years as General Manager for the San Jose Chamber of Commerce, he returned to Dean Witter/Morgan Stanley in 1985.  Not surprisingly, he spent a full day at work on Friday and died on Monday.  That was just the way he was.

My dad had so many "Gordy-isms" that we still laugh about today.  He loved his sports and would wait for weeks for the big game to finally come on TV.  And once it started and he was comfortable in his chair, we'd find him getting a much needed nap.  And those headphones were placed firmly on his head if he couldn't be near a TV - at weddings, graduations, you name it - he always knew the score. 

Dad bled Stanford red.  He had season tickets for the football games for over 50 years and also loved following the basketball team.  When Stanford would make it to the Rose Bowl or Final Four, Dad was first in line to buy tickets, no matter the location.  And he came to Seattle a few times to watch the UW/Stanford game and had no problem sporting his Cardinal pride amidst a sea of purple.  And then he'd throw up his hands and say "it's not fair, no one can win in this stadium".  Of course plenty of teams other than the Huskies have won but it just never happened to be Stanford when Dad was in attendance.

Dad loved his membership in all sorts of clubs and was very active in the San Jose community, but nothing was more important to him than Rotary.  He was President in the 1960's and was proud of his 51 years of perfect attendance.  I remember no matter where we were vacationing, Dad would always look for a local meeting to attend so he could keep that perfect attendance going.

Oh how I wish Dad could be here to share in this genealogy journey with me.  He loved talking about the past and was always tickled when someone would ask him questions about his youth.  He was proud of his track accomplishments at both Fresno High School and Stanford and loved telling the story of the moment he was the second fastest man in the world.  His theory was this - one day he ran against the fastest man in the world and finished a distant second but that proved that for that moment in time, he was the second fastest man in the world.  He was always looking for the positive in a situation.

I could go on and on about my Dad but to those who knew him best, I'm sure we all agree that the impact he's had on us and those who knew him was significant.  We still laugh about his antics and at times it seems like he's right here with us when his children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren mimic him.  He definitely was one of a kind.

I miss you, Dad!


Gordon Levy
July, 2005

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wedding Wednesday on Saturday: Gordon Levy and Geraldine Martin


Gordon Levy and Geraldine Martin
September 3, 1950

So I know usually we do Wedding Wednesday but today is a very special day in my family, the wedding/anniversary of my parents.  And sadly, it also was the start of a very bad Labor Day weekend for us in 2005.

My parents, Gordon Floyd Levy and Geraldine Martin, were married in Fresno on September 3, 1950.  They met in 1943 when they were students at Fresno High School - dad was a senior and mom was a sophomore.  After high school, they went off to Stanford and both studied there - Mom with a BA in Economics and Dad finished up with a MBA.  Mom likes to say she didn't "follow" him there but I'd bet she's kidding all of us with that one.

I remember as a child my sister and I would pour over their wedding album and loved to look at all of the pictures - Mom looked so beautiful in her wedding dress (which is still packed away in a hope chest) and Dad was a dapper groom.  We also liked looking at the album where Mom wrote about all of the events.  My favorite part was opening up the tissue paper where a few of the flowers had been pressed and although brown and limp with age, it was a wonderful reminder of what was surely a beautiful day.  I also remember staring at the giant portrait of Mom which still hangs at the end of the hallway in our childhood home.  All little girls dream of their wedding day and it was no exception for us. 

In 2000, Mom and Dad were ready to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and decided that the best way to celebrate would be to have all of the kids/grandkids together in a very special place.  So Labor Day weekend in 2000 found us all together in Napa for a celebration.  Everyone arrived at different times throughout the weekend but we knew we would all be together for one very special dinner.

Our surprise to Mom and Dad that year was hiring a photographer to capture the day with both group photos and individual family photos.  Dad could, at times, turn into an emotional wreck and my recollection is that he was close on this special evening.  And being the eternal Stanford football fan, I also seem to remember him sitting at the dinner table with his ever-present headphones on listening to the game.

Of course no trip to Napa would be complete without some golf and wine tasting!  One of the days found some of us off wine tasting, some at the amusement park nearby, and some playing golf at Silverado Country Club (the perks of a golf pro brother).  I don't think Dad finished his round that day but I know how much he loved being on the course with his family.  And if memory serves me correctly, that may have been the last time he was able to golf.

Sure our family has grown since then and we're still in different cities and states but I don't think any of us will ever forget that very special weekend celebrating our wonderful parents.


Gordon & Gerry Levy
September 3, 2000
50th wedding anniversary

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: Sarah Jane Miller Brooks Anderson 1836-1923


PIONEER TO BE BURIED TODAY
Services for Matron are Arranged

Funeral services for Mrs. Sarah Jane Anderson, who died Monday evening, will be held tomorrow afternoon at 2 o'clock at the chapel of Stephens and Bean.  Burial will be in Mountain View cemetery.

Mrs. Anderson, widow of J.H. Anderson, was born in South Carolina, November 5, 1836, and came to Fresno in 1888.  Since the death of her husband she made her home with her children, her death occurring at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Mamie Burks, at 445 Abby.  She had been a member of the St. Paul's Methodist church for many years.

Four sons, A.P., J.B., and W.W. Brooks and J.T. Anderson, two daughters, Mrs. R.L. Martin and Mrs. Burks, 21 grandchildren, Edward, Albert and Oscar Brooks of Richmond, W.A. Brooks of Taft, C. Bart Brooks of Kerman, George H. and Rexford Anderson and W.B. Martin of San Luis Obispo, Earl Martin of Fresno, Mrs. Fred Donleavy, Mrs. Robert Kilpatrick, Mrs. Earl Granger, Mrs. Fred Redden, Mrs. Percy Perry of Madera, Mrs. Allan Dennison of Berkeley, Mrs. Hattie Whitman of Fresno, Mrs. Pearl Fortado of Concord, Mrs. T.J. Delany of Oakland, Misses Nell Martin, Ethel Martin and Ruth Brooks and 15 great grandchildren survive her.

Sarah Jane Miller Brooks Anderson was my second great grandmother.  Her daughter, Mrs. R.L. Martin, was my great grandmother and Earle Martin was my maternal grandfather.

Sarah's memorial on findagrave.



Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sarah Jane Miller Brooks Anderson

Sarah Jane Miller
1836-1923


I've spent more time lately researching my mother's paternal line thanks to a Randy Seaver's recent Saturday Night Genealogy Fun to list all 16 of our great great grandparents.  My maternal grandparents divorced when my mother was about 10 and since she didn't stay close to her dad, we never really knew our grandfather.  Her mother remarried and her step dad was the man we considered Grandpa.  But that other line has always been out there, just waiting to be found :-)

I last wrote about my 2nd great grandfather, William Brooks, who was killed at the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862.  While I've had other ancestors who served in the Civil War, William is the first I've found who died during the war and the first who served for the Confederate Army. 

I wonder how long it took before Sarah Jane Miller Brooks knew she was a widow with four small children to care for.  What must communication have been like in 1862?  Did someone come to her door to notify her or did she wait anxiously for a letter from her husband that never arrived.  No matter how she was told, she was alone.

Sarah was born in South Carolina in November, 1836 and was the third child of Albert Miller and Margaret Finley.  I have a lot more research to do on Albert and Margaret but I do know that when Albert died in 1856, he left "one negro girl (value $595) and ten bushels of wheat (value $13.25)" to Sarah's husband, William Brooks. I guess the daughter's share was given to her husband in those days.

In 1868 Sarah married John Hayward Anderson and together they had two children and moved to Fresno in 1888.  It is this part of the family to which I've recently connected and my new-found cousin has graciously shared the photo above (as well as many other treasures) with me.  Thank you, Terry!

Sarah died in Fresno on April 30, 1923.  She was survived by all six of her children, 21 grandchildren, and 15 great grandchildren.

I don't know much about Sarah but I'm sure I'll learn more.  I do know that she looks like a very kind woman and I wish I'd had an opportunity to know her.  There are so many questions I'd like to ask.......


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another Civil War Veteran!



Photo by terryballard

While blogging last week about my 16 great great grandparents I realized that one of my 2nd great grandfathers in my maternal grandfather's line, of which I haven't researched much, died in 1862 in Fredericksburg.  I'm not a Civil War buff but because my husband is, I remembered visiting the Fredericksburg Battlefield about 15 years ago.  I remembered posing for a family photo in front of the wall in the photo above.  (I also remember being bored to tears but that's another story for a different day)  Could this ancestor of mine actually have died there?  Time to research!


Burnside Bridge, Antietam Battlefield
Photo by Galileo55

And research I did.  I learned that William J. Brooks served as Private, Company G, 3 South Carolina Regiment, CSA.  His service began in July, 1862 and his regiment particpated in the Battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg, as it was known in the south) on September 17, 1862.  This was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history with about 23,000 casualties.  I remember visiting this battlefield with a book in hand that compared the location in 1862 with present day.  It was quite humbling to stand on the same land that our ancestors fought on.  As we walked across the Burnside Bridge, we thought about the lives that were lost that day.



Photo by Jackie
Findagrave #8222614
 I've also learned that William J. Brooks did, in fact, die at the battle at Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, mid way through the 5 day battle (December 11-15, 1862).  I don't know specifics about his death but I know that he left a wife, Sarah Jane Miller, and four young children, one of which was my great grandmother, Frances Maria Brooks.  William is buried in Dials Cemetery in Laurens County, South Carolina.

I've also learned that after William's death in 1862, Sarah married John Hayward Anderson in 1868 and together they had more children.  At some point after their marriage (I'm still researching), they moved across the country from South Carolina to Fresno. 

There is so much to learn about Sarah.  Two of her great grandfathers were Revolutionary War patriots and her father was a slave owner.  While I know this is a sensitive part of our nation's history, I'm excited to learn more about this.

But the best part about researching William and Sarah is that I found a new cousin!  My new cousin (2nd cousin, once removed) is a descendant of Sarah Miller and John Anderson and we're currently in the process of exchanging information and learning more about our common ancestors.  She not only lives near my childhood home where my mother still lives, but we discovered today that my mother actually attended the wedding of her parents as a young child.  Proof positive how small this world really is!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - My 16 Great Grandparents


Photo by Tomorrow Never Knows

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Randy Seaver at genea-musings for the Saturday night challenge of listing our 16 great great grandparents.  I've been in a "blog fog" (where I can't think of anything to write about) for the last few weeks and now I have something to blog about.  I will admit it is Sunday night and I'm 24 hours late but I've been out of town this weekend so I get a free pass :-)

The challenge was:

1)  List your 16 great-great-grandparents with their birth, death and marriage data (dates and places).  [Hint - you might use an Ancestral Name List from your software for this.]

2)  Determine the countries (or states) that these ancestors lived in at their birth and at their death.

3)  For extra credit, go make a "Heritage Pie" chart for the country of origin (birth place) for these 16 ancestors. [Hint: you could use the  chart generator from Kid Zone for this.] [Note: Thank you to Sheri Fenley for the "Heritage Pie" chart idea.]

I'm not going for extra credit as I'm too tired and too technically challenged but here goes:

1.  William Warren McAboyBorn 12 December, 1842 in DeWitt County, Illinois.  Died 12 January, 1925 in Santa Cruz, California.  Married 10 January 1864 in DeWitt County, Illinois to....

2.  Rebecca Moriah Waller:  Born 7 February, 1845 in Warren County, Ohio.  Died 23 October 1928 in Fresno, California.

3.  Matthew Fitzgerald:  Born 10 September 1850 in Ireland.  Died 24 August 1905 in Fresno, California.  Married June 1869 in Derryleagh, Cork, Ireland to....

4.  Julia Horgan:  Born 1849 in Derryleagh, Cork, Ireland.  Died 4 August 1886 in Black, Yolo County, California.

5.  Lewis Saxon Martin:  Born 9 April 1820 in South Carolina.  Died 19 July 1903 in Laurens County, South Carolina.  Married 12 April 1848 in Laurens County, South Carolina (second marriage) to....

6.  Millicent Moore:  Born 6 October 1827 in South Carolina.  Died 3 January 1884 in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

7.  William J. Brooks:  Born 1835 in South Carolina.  Died 1862 in Fredericksburg, Virgina.  (I need to research this - I just realized he must have died at the battle of Fredericksburg).  Married to.....

8.  Sarah Jane Miller:  Born November 1836 in South Carolina.  Died 30 April 1923 in Fresno, California.

9.  Louis Schwartz:  Born 28 December 1834 in Shildberg, Prussia.  Died 23 May 1893 in Byron Springs, Contra Costa County, California.  Married 15 October 1865 in California to....

10.  Rebecca SteenBorn 8 February 1848 in Poland.  Died 7 January 1918 in Oakland, California.

11.  Ferdinand GunzendorferBorn 1 August 1838 in Adelsdorf, Bavaria.  Died 20 October 1907 in Montery, California.  Married in 1863 in California to....

12.  Fannie Goldstein:  Born 6 March 1848 in Poland.  Died 22 July 1910 in San Francisco, California.

13.  Benjamin Benas:  Born 26? December, 1826 in Posen, Germany.  Died 17 April 1892 in Vallejo, California.  Married before 1870 in California to....

14.  Fredericka Wilzinski:  Born 20 April 1840 in Prussia or Germany.  Died 14 October 1915 in San Francisco, California.

And that's all I've got.  I do not know the parents of my paternal great grandfather, Herman Levy.  I've hit a bit of a brick wall so I've put them aside.  For now.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday: Does this look like a nice man?

Fresno Morning Republican
Tuesday, January 13, 1925
Page two

I don't think so.  But he's my 2nd great grandfather, William Warren McAboy.  I've had this photo from William's obituary for about a year.  And every time I've looked at it I thought he must have not been a nice man.  Sadly, I think I'm right.

William was born in DeWitt County, Illinois on December 12, 1842 and was the oldest child of James Robert McAboy and Sarah Mann.  The family seemed to move a bit, from DeWitt County to McLean County and back again, before William mustered into army service in Battery F, Second Regiment of Voluntary Light Artillery in 1861.  At some point I believe he also served in Company F, 4th Cavalry Regiment Illinois.  I think I see another pension record in my future.

William was married to Rebecca Moriah Waller on January 10, 1864 in DeWitt County and life seemed good.  Together they had six children, the youngest of which was my great grandmother, Mabel McAboy (1883-1966).  William was a florist and gardener and in 1881 established a business (cost of $3,000) located in block 21, four blocks south of the Clinton public square.  It had three green houses, each 50 feet in length.  Either $5,000 or 5,000 plants were raised annually (conflicting information), and the business employed three people.

In 1883, one of the greenhouses caught fire.  The Clinton Public Newspaper reported on January 5, 1883:

At two o'clock last Saturday morning Mrs. W. W. McABOY was awakened from a sense of suffocation, and she awakened her husband. The bedroom was full of smoke, and when Mr. McABOY opened the door leading to the office of his green-house he was driven back by the smoke and flames. Mr. McAboy got out in the street and gave the alarm of fire, and then went back and tried to quench the flames. It seemed an age to Mr. McAboy before help came to him, but during the interval he did effective work in fighting the fire. After hard work the flames were subdued, but the wreck of flowers and glass in the green-house was great. One of the green-houses was nearly destroyed and the others were badly damaged. Mr. McAboy estimates his loss at between $400 and $500, and on flowers and seeds about $300. A kind friend went among the business men on Saturday and raised about $100 to help Mr. McAboy repair his losses. The fire caught in a barrel of soot that was in the cellar under the office. It is supposed to be a case of spontaneous combustion.

What a sad time that must have been and William was obviously well respected for his friend to raise $100 to help with his losses. 

But things changed and on September 13, 1889, the Clinton Public Newspaper had the following report:

A Brutal Father.
W. W. McABOY, the proprietor of the nursery, made a brutal assault on his son Emery on Tuesday about noon. The boy came uptown in the forenoon and went to see the game of baseball, and on his return home he had a racket with his father. McAboy threw some tomatoes at the boy and then picked up a chair and struck him on the head, cutting a bad gash. Mrs. McABOY was sick in bed and hearing the racket she screamed and fainted. The boy ran to his mother at once and seeing her condition he started out to get a doctor. As the boy was going out of the door, McAboy threw a tumbler at him, which struck him on the arm and cut an artery. The boy went over for Dr. HYDE to go and see his mother, and not finding him at home he came uptown for Dr. WILCOX. By the time he reached the square he was faint from loss of blood, and the consequences might have been dangerous had his wounds not been bound up at once. From his home up to the square he could be tracked by the blood spots on the sidewalk. Marshal MOFFET saw the boy and as soon as he learned the cause of his wounds he went to McAboy’s house and arrested him. McAboy not being ready for trial, his case was postponed till next Tuesday. The boy Emery is very industrious and attentive to his father’s business, working day and night. He is a perfect young gentleman and he has the sympathy of everybody. He is yet nursing his wounds, carrying his arm in a sling and his head is bandaged. For such a brutal assault on his own boy McAboy should be made to suffer the full penalty of the law to teach him a lesson. A fine would be no punishment as he is well able to pay it.


Uh-oh, looks like I was right and William wasn't a nice man after all.  Young Emery was 19 years old and his father assaulted him, over and over again with tomatoes, a chair, and a tumbler.  In the court papers I was able to obtain while in DeWitt County, the records show he was charged with "assault with a deadly weapon" and "the sheriff will hold the defendant to bail in the sum of one hundred dollars".  I cannot determine the outcome of the proceedings but I do see that not only was James "Emery" commanded to appear as a witness, but also his sister, Lilly.  Can you imagine the horror of witnessing your father assault your younger brother?

Things didn't get much better for William and Rebecca.  On January 10, 1890 the Clinton Public Newspaper reported that "W.W. McAboy left for California this week.  He has left his family in almost destitute circumstances.  Mrs. McAboy has been confined to her bed for several months, which is almost unendurable for her to bear.  The family has the sympathy of the community".  And then on March 7, 1890 "W.B. McAboy has returned from California.  He does not think that the land of climate is a perfect paradise, though a man might live there if there was not such a State of Illinois".   Now I'm not sure that the W.B. McAboy referenced on March 7 was really W.W. McAboy but I'm going to assume that it was because I know that William and Rebecca did end up in Fresno, California.  I like to think that William arrived in Fresno and realized he couldn't go on without his family and, thus, returned in March for them.  And in my positive world I believe they found a fresh start and lived happily in California.  But then I always like to see the positive in things.

William died in Santa Cruz on January 12, 1925 while living there with Rebecca.  What were they doing in Santa Cruz?  Was his health poor and he was hopeful that the cool ocean breeze would be a better climate than the heat of Fresno?  After his death, his body was brought back to Fresno for burial and, apparently, Rebecca remained there until her death almost 4 years later.  William's memorial. 

So while it seems that my gut was right in thinking William wasn't a nice man, he was still my 2nd great grandfather and another piece to my puzzle.  And we have to take the good with the bad.




Saturday, June 25, 2011

I came, I saw, I conquered


What's a maroon, anyway?

We made it to Clinton, Illinois, home for many generations of my family!  What a thrill and I am so thankful we were able to spend some time there.

As suggested, I did my homework and contacted the DeWitt County Genealogical Society prior to our visit so I could feel fairly prepared for what was ahead of me.  The primary suggestion they had for me was, if possible, to visit on a Thursday as that was the only day volunteers were present and able to help.  As luck would have it, our road trip had us in Clinton on Thursday.



We arrived at the Vespasian Waner Library, home of the DeWitty County Genealogical Society at about noon on Thursday.  Imagine my surprise when we walked in and there were three people in the library.  Clinton is a fairly small town and I was surprised that three people were already there researching.  But I was even more surprised when I realized these people were volunteers and were all just waiting to help me research.  And boy did they help!

Charlotte was the first to ask "how can we help?" and I stammered something silly like "I'm looking for my family".  I mentioned the surname of Waller and she quickly jumped up and took me to a file cabinet while explaining "we have a file on them".  So it was a small file and half of it was copies of e-mails I had written to them but I sure was impressed with her memory.

Within minutes there were books and binders everywhere and all three of them were throwing questions at me.  When was he born?  Is this your relative?  What year did she die?  Were they married here?  More and more books arrived and then I stopped dead in my tracks - there in the probate book was Salmon Waller.  Deep breath.  Salmon (or Solomon) was the father of my elusive Emery Waller and my 4th great grandfather.  He is also the next punch I need on my DAR application ticket.  In fact, my primary goal while visiting DeWitt County was finding Salmon's burial site.  But I knew that there were several Salmon Wallers in my line as several of Salmon's ancestors named their children Salmon (who has the name Salmon, anyway?). 

I asked about the probate record - was it here, how difficult would it be to see, and some other ridiculous questions, I'm sure.  Charlotte explained that when the County digitized their records recently, they were going to throw out all of the corresponding material so the Genealogicial Society took everything, organized it, and put it in boxes downstairs.  Downstairs!  All I had to do was tell them which records I wanted to see and John would go downstairs and get them for me!  After another deep breath I said "this one, I want to see this one!" and off he went.  And about 5 minutes later he came back into the room, huffing and puffing just a bit, and presented me with Salmon Waller's probate record.  Another deep breath while I opened the file to see the specifics and IT WAS MY SALMON WALLER!!!!!  I had seen the digitized copy of his will online but there was more in this file.  Before I could even speak, Charlotte was off to the copy machine to make copies of everything in the file for me.  And the questions kept coming!  John grabbed microfilm and started scanning, Charlotte was copying, and Jan was looking in more books to find something - anything - that would be important to me.  It really was amazing (and almost overwhelming) to see these people scurrying around looking for treasures for me. 

We were almost finished here
It's going to take some time for me to really go through everything and figure out what I have but knowing these people are anxious to help is such a relief.  I can't say enough about these wonderful volunteers!

Oh, in pouring through the probate record when I got to the hotel the main piece of information I learned was that Salmon's wife was still living when he died and lived for some years afterwards.  And since Emery was the executor, I was able to see his signature on a few things!  But still no record of Salmon's burial site.

Next stop was the County Clerk's office to see if I could find the marriage record for my 2nd great grandparents, Rebecca Moriah Waller and William Warren McAboy, who were married January 10, 1864.  We walked into the office and a nice woman asked if she could help.  I explained what I was looking for, she took a few notes, and then said she'd be right back.  A few minutes later she returned with a piece of paper in her hand and asked if it was what I was looking for.  And there it was - the ORIGINAL marriage license from 1864.  Oh my!  I was tempted to throw a 10 dollar bill on the counter, stash the certificate in my bag, and run from the building but instead I acted all grown up and said "could I get a copy of this?" which sent her scurrying to get me the copy before I made a mad dash for the door.  When she returned I stared at the original again and remembered my handy dandy mobile flip-pal scanner in my bag and asked if I could scan it.  I should have practiced more with the scanner but I did what I could and will spend some time stitching it together when I have more time.  And then I remembered the camera in my bag and asked if I could take a photo.  I'm sure this lady thought I was nuts but she humored me and even helped me find a good spot to place the document to get a photo.  I know it's not perfect and I know I need to practice more with the scanner but here it is.

And it cost just 50 cents!

I also found a piece of information that isn't as exciting which I will share later.  It does remind us, though, that we can't discriminate as to what type of information we find and have to take the good with the bad.  Sigh.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This is the face of genealogy


This is the face of genealogy!

Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer
Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer
1896

My paternal grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy, and her mother (my great grandmother), Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer.

Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer
Monterey High School
Class of 1915





Loraine was the Assistant Editor of the Yearbook, Monterey High School, 1915.

Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy
Sigmund Levy

My paternal grandparents, Loraine and Sigmund Levy.

I will never forget those who came before me.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What's in the Probate Record?


Emery Waller's Probate Record
Franklin County, Kansas
Filed February 10, 1893
I received the Probate record for my 3rd great grandfather, Emery Waller.  Emery has been an elusive ancestor and one I've been pretty focused on for the last few weeks.

What have I learned from his Probate record?  I'm really not sure yet.  It does show, via the Affidavit in Proof of Death, that his date of death was December 11, 1891 and that the document was filed in Franklin County on February 10, 1893 by George W. Waller, Emery's son.  And then there's a list of Emery's heirs in 1893, some of which I can identify and some of which are a complete mystery to me.

Here's what matches the information I have:

George W. Waller was the son of Emery and Clarinda Waller and was the only son to live into adulthood.  He was born in 1855 so he would have been about 38 in 1893.  The record shows he was 39 - close enough.

Elizabeth Waller was the eldest child of Emery and Clarinda and married John Asher Page in 1864 so Elizabeth would have been known as Elizabeth Page in 1893.  Check.  She was born in 1846 which would have made her 47 in 1893.  The record shows she was 52 - five years is a bit of a discrepancy but I'm not sure I'll worry about it.

The second child of Emery and Clarinda was Nancy Hannah Waller.  Hannah was born in 1848 and married Philip Holloway in 1866.  The Probate record shows her as Hannah Cass at 48 years old.  Again, the age is a little off (maybe these people forgot how old they were?) but showing her last name as Cass is perplexing.  I know that Philip remarried in late 1894 so I had assumed that Hannah had died prior to that.  But since she's showing up here as Hannah Cass, maybe they divorced and she married Mr. Cass by 1893.  Hannah and Philip were together in DeWitt County, Illinois in the 1880 census and when their only child, Maud, died in 1886, the obituary said she died at the "residence of her parents".  Maybe the death of their child tore them apart?  I need to do some more research on Hannah with some emphasis in Missouri since her place of residence in 1893 looks to be MO.

Minnie Waller, the youngest child of Emery and Clarinda, was born in 1857 so her age of 35 is about right.  She married James Jones in 1879 and then John Scully in 1892 - maybe her family forgot what her name was so just left it blank?  The residence of Colorado is curious as Minnie and John's son was born in Illinois in 1894.  I guess they could have been in Colorado in 1893 but it seems odd.  More research necessary.

When I first looked at this record, I initially thought that my 2nd great grandmother, Rebecca Waller McAboy, had been excluded.  My blood started boiling!  Then I looked down the page a bit more and spotted her - McAboy.  It looks like Morris McBoy but her name was Rebecca Moriah (or Maria) and in some places I've seen her referred to as Moriah.  If I squint my eyes a bit, I can imagine that the listing does indeed say Moriah McAboy.  Rebecca and her husband, William McAboy, moved to California in about 1890 and I would guess that if you were living in or around Kansas at the end of the 19th century, California probably seemed to be halfway around the world.  So I guess it's not surprising that it doesn't show her place of residence as they probably had no idea where California was.

And that's all I know.  These other people are a complete mystery to me.  It looks like two more daughters - Caroline Foster and Ellen Tinder (or Linder or Finder) in Illinois.  Could these be Clarinda's daughters from a first marriage?  And a couple of grandchildren - Pearl Sessions and Emma Willis.  The only clue that might help me is that Emery's sister, Mary Ann, married Edward Sessions and they had a son named Emery.  And as I look a little closer, Emery might also be known as Perle.  Mary Ann must have died quite young as Edward married Sarah in 1865 and guess what?  There is also a child named Emma who was born in 1860.  It appears that Emery/Perle and Emma were the children of Emery Waller's sister Mary Ann and Edward Sessions.  When she died did Emery vow to take care of her children?  Something more to research.

Last on the list is what looks like Mollie Bidle or something close to that.   Who was Mollie and why would they show a deceased person on the probate record? 

At the bottom of the page an estimated value is listed - is that $1,000 or $100?

The other two pages of the record is an Administrator's Bond and an Affidavit to Administer Estate.  The only 'new' information was the mention of George's wife, Mary, and a person named B. Campbell who is listed with Mary as 'sureties'.  Not sure what that means.  And the Administrator's Bond says:

Know all Men by these Presents, That we Geo W Waller, as principal, and Mary F. Waller and B. Campbell as sureties, are held and firmly bound unto the State of Kansas in the sum of two hundred dollars to the payment of which sum, well and truly to be made, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals and dated this 17th day of Feb, A.D. 1883.  The condition of the above obligation is such that :  Whereas, the said Geo W Waller has been, by the Probate Court of Franklin County, Kansas, duly appointed Administrator of the estate of Emory L Waller, Deceased.

There seems to be some discrepancy in Emery's date of death.  My original non-documented date was December 21, 1890.....and the cemetery shows his death date as December 25, 1890.  It could be that he really did die December 21 and was buried on December 25, 1890.  That makes sense.  But I don't see how the cemetery could show he died in 1890 and the Probate record shows a year later. 

I think I need to study up on probates, estates, etc.  If anyone has any suggestions or can offer assistance, I'm all ears.