Monday, May 26, 2014

Here’s my ticket!

Revolutionary War Flag
Revolutionary War Flag
photo by
Nink Allsbrook

Memorial Day is a day to reflect on my ancestors who served in the military in an effort to form our country and to keep it free for generations to come.  And while there have been many who fit the bill, I can’t think of anyone who has piqued my interest more than my 5th great grandfather, Ashbel Waller, who is my ticket to join the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).  The process of gaining admittance into DAR is a bit overwhelming but at some point I’ll make it happen.  Until then, I’ll continue to research Ashbel and prepare for the upcoming project.

Ashbel (Ashbell, Ashabel, Asahel) Waller was the son of Phineas Waller (1717-1787) and Rhoda (Phebe) Taylor (1717-?) and from what I have learned, was the sixth of eleven children.  He was born 18 Oct 1759 in Cornwall, Connecticut, and baptized 11 Nov 1759.

Not much is known about Ashbel’s early life until 1 Aug 1779 when he enlisted in Webb’s 2nd Continental or 2nd Connecticut Line and served until he was discharged on 15 Jan 1780.  At the age of 20, Ashbel was in the throes of war and while he served for just a short period of time, his name will forever be in history books as a Revolutionary War patriot.  MY Revolutionary War patriot.

Ashbel returned from war and per the Barbour Collection, Ashbel of Cornwall was married to Sarah Abbott of Sharon on 1 Nov 1781 by Judge Kellogg, JP.  Sarah gave birth to Solomon (Salmon) Waller, my 4th great grandfather, in 1788 in Pennsylvania.  The family shows in later years in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, where Ashbel owned 50 acres of land valued at $240.

More children, Hannah, Ruth, Sena and Alvin, joined the family, although I can’t confirm they were Sarah’s children or if another woman had entered Ashbel’s life.  Somewhere between 1800-1810, the family moved to Butler County, Ohio, and on 5 Sep 1820, Ashbel and Elizabeth Blackleach were married by Rev. James Hugh.  What had happened to Sarah? 

In the 1840 census Ashbel is listed as “under 90” and was living with an “under 80” female (Elizabeth) in Union Township, Butler County, Ohio.    But Ashbel had an important neighbor by the name of Jane Turner, a woman living alone.  And on 12 Apr 1842 at the spry age of 83, Ashbel and Jane Turner were married in Butler County, Ohio by Rev. David Laymon.  Which means that sometime between the 1840 census and this marriage, Elizabeth most likely died.

There is so much information about Ashbel’s life – war records, pension records, marriage ceremonies performed, death on 20 Sep 1848, and his will – but I’ve yet to be 100% sure of his final resting place.  A few years ago a researcher from the Butler Country Historical Society located some items for me, one of which was 1985 correspondence to the Butler County Commissioner regarding a gravestone with the partial name Elizabeth Walle_ and, potentially, the grave of Ashbel Waller in Liberty Township, Ohio.  This graveyard is located on property that was owned by Ashbel in 1830 and is described as about 101 acres in the northeast corner of Section 6 on the 1830 cadastral map.  It is described today as about 0.4 mile eastward from Route 747 along Hamilton-Mason Road thence about 0.2 mile southward parallel to the meridional section line.  I wish I knew more about land deeds so I could figure out exactly what that means.

The point of the 1985 correspondence was to help the establishment of the graveyard’s historical significance in light of Ashbel’s participation in the Revolutionary War.  And now nearly 30 years later, I would somehow like to learn even more about this graveyard and to, hopefully, stand in front of the grave of MY Revolutionary War patriot and 5th great grandfather, Ashbel Waller.

It’s time to step it up and get back to researching so I can punch my ticket into DAR!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The mothers in my life

In honor of the mothers in my life on Mother's Day.

My mother, Geraldine Martin (1928-2013)

Geraldine c 1932

Geraldine c1960

Gerry 2012

My maternal grandmother, Clara Maxine Fitzgerald (1903-1987)

Clara Fitzgerald 1904

Clara Fitzgerald

Clara’s mother, Mabel Viola McAboy (1883-1966)

Mabel McAboy

Four generations – Clara Fitzgerald, Geraldine Martin, Mabel McAboy, Carolyn Levy, Deborah Levy

My beautiful picture

Mabel’s mother – Rebecca Moriah Waller (1845-1928)  Photo courtesy of Kris Nagamine

Rebecca Moriah Waller 1920

My maternal grandmother – Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer (1896-1982)

Loraine 1897

Loraine Xmas 1912

Loraine 1969

Loraine’s Mother – Bertha Schwartz (1872-1950)

Bertha Schwartz1 c1876

Bertha Schwartz 3

BerthaSchwartz2 cropped

Bertha’s mother – Rebecca Steen (1848-1918)

Rebecca Steen cropped

Four generations – Rebecca Steen, Bertha Schwartz, Hannah Plotzky, Loraine Gunzendorfer

4 Generations cropped

That’s a lot of mothers!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Step by Step

Don’t you just love it when you stumble across something that is not only cool but also chips away at your research?  That’s just what happened to me today!

Since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about I decided to go into my treasure chest of “stuff” and see what caught my eye.  And this is what I found.

High School Graduation

Standing on the right is my great grandmother, Bertha “Birdie” Schwartz.  I’d seen this photo a number of times but because it is fairly large, I’d put it into a larger box with some old newspapers and various other things and didn’t get back to it.

So I drug it out and showed it to my husband who promptly noticed the scrolls that each young person was holding and we wondered if it was some sort of graduation or something.  That could be since there were two older people (teachers?) sitting with the young people.  And that’s when he noticed Birdie’s left wrist and a bracelet she was sporting.  “Is that your bracelet?” he asked.  Oh my, I think he could be right!

One of my earliest blog posts was about Birdie where I showed a picture of the bracelet she was given at her high school graduation.  You can read it here but here is the bracelet again.

Bertha's bracelet

Not a great photo and the bracelet is safely housed in the safe deposit box so I couldn’t take another one but compare it to this close up of Birdie’s wrist.

Bracelet on wrist

Yep, that’s it!  This must be a photo of Birdie’s high school graduation!

On the back of the photo was this.

Back of Grad Photo
Property of Loraine Levy
To be given her after my demise

Loraine Levy was Birdie’s oldest child, only daughter and my paternal grandmother.  I’m glad to know the picture ended up with not just Loraine but her granddaughter many, many years later. 

Since Birdie grew up in Santa Cruz, California and the Santa Cruz Sentinel is included in the collection, I decided to peruse the site in the 1890 time period to see if I could find out anything about the graduation.  And look what I found!

Bertha Schwartz Graduation
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Saturday, 7 June, 1890
Page 3

There it is – Bertha graduated from Santa Cruz High School on Friday, 6 June, 1890!  Now if that’s not enough, it gives the list of graduates – 8 girls and 1 boy.  Take a look at the photo – 8 girls and 1 boy!  So this is the 1890 graduating class from Santa Cruz High School! 

But that’s not all - one of the graduates was Bella Steen who just so happens to have been the first cousin of Birdie’s mother, Rebecca Steen Schwartz.  Rebecca’s father, Joseph, was the brother of Bella’s father, Jacob.

I had also noted in the photo that the young lady sitting on the left looked familiar and I knew I’d seen her somewhere before.  Which got me thinking – could the familiar looking girl be Bella Steen?

A quick look at some of my photos and I found this.

Bertha and friend

Could this unidentified woman be the same as the graduate who looked familiar to me?

Bella Steen cropped Bella Steen Graduation cropped

I think they might be one and the same!  Maybe my Steen cousin can confirm for me but I think it’s the same person. 

I need to research Bella more thoroughly.  I do know that she married Morris Benas who just happened to be a brother of Goldie Benas.  That name probably doesn’t mean much to too many people but one of Goldie’s sons was Sigmund Levy, my paternal grandfather who married Bertha’s daughter, Loraine.  I would be willing to bet that Bella and Morris were the connection to introducing my grandparents!

Just when you hit a slump a little nugget appears – so now I’m going to follow the headline of the newspaper and take it step by step.