My Favorite Ancestral Name is Ruhama – 52 Ancestors #6

Although I would not have said that Ruhama is my favorite ancestral name, it turns out that I use it for various pseudonyms and handles and have done so for a long time.  So I guess it is my favorite!  It isn’t that there is a particular and single ancestor who had the name that is a favorite, I just like the name.

A little online research has shown me that Ruhama is a not-too common name and derives from the Hebrew name Ruhamah.  There is still a kibbutz in the Negev desert named Ruhama.  I haven’t found any information about how the name came to the United States or started being used, but I would guess that it was first a name used by religious families, as many of the early comers were.

I actually have known (or at least met) two of my relatives who had the name:  my great aunt Susan Ruhama Salt Liverett and my second cousin twice removed, Ruhama Brown Fagley.  Aunt Susan, who I have written elsewhere about, was a grandmother-proxy.  Ruhama Fagley was a correspondent of my parents and provided a lot of family history which was an interest of hers.

The first woman of the name in my family tree so far is Ruhama Ingersoll who was born in 1755 in Connecticut.  She is my 5th great grandmother and I have not tracked the family back beyond her yet.  She named her first daughter Elizabeth Ruhama.  My 4g grandmother Elizabeth Ruhama named one of her first daughters Ruhama who was my third great grandmother.  And there my direct ancestral line of Ruhamas ends.

Ruhama Justice

My 3g grandmother Ruhama Blackman Justice
did not pass along the name Ruhama until her last daughter, and that daughter did not live a full year.  My 2g grandmother, Ann Justice, only had one daughter who did not live to adulthood and was not named Ruhama.  Her son John Clifford Salt however, named his second daughter Susan Ruhama.

Two other children of Ruhama Blackman Justice passed the name Ruhama along to the next generation as well giving us Mary Ruhama (“Ruie”) Ely and Ruhama Bell Justice. Ruie Ely Brown passed the name to her younger daughter and youngest child, Ruhama Brown Fagley.  Ruhama Fagley had only one son and the name did not get passed on in her family.  Ruhama Bell had two sons and as far as I know neither of them passed the name along.  So the name seems to have run its course in my families.  I’m sorry to see it end.

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In the Census – 52 Ancestors #5

In thinking about how I use the various population censuses available, I am aware that I tend to collect census information early in my exploration of an ancestor but I also go back and look at them when I get stuck.  Censuses serve the purpose of locating and tracking the whereabouts of an ancestor over time, and the later ones also provide an approximation of who the family members were.   I often start a list of children in a family by the census.

One of my first thoughts was to write about the people I can’t find in a census who really just have to be there somewhere.  I’ve written briefly about my mother-in-law as a 2 year old not appearing in the census she should be in.  However, another person I’ve been focusing on recently is my ancestor Oliver Snow, who also is not in the last census he should be found in.  Oliver lived into 1841, dying in Geauga County, Ohio, and he should be found, therefore, in the 1840 census.  He does not appear by name, as a head of household, in the 1840 census but he was then 91 years old and his second wife had died several years before.

Since the 1840 censuses do not name any household members except the head of household, it is more difficult to look for Oliver.  However, his advanced age should show up if he was living with any of his children, or even grandchildren.  He was also a  Revolutionary War veteran, however he did not claim a pension so far as I know.  I learned recently that there is a second page to the 1840 census that shows if there were any pensioners for Revolutionary or military service in the household and asks for name and age.  Presumably Oliver would not be listed there, however I have been making it a point to save that second page and to look at it for each of the 1840 households I am collecting.

I am in the middle of tracking all of Oliver’s children and then the grandchildren for the 1840 census.  I want to know where they were living in 1840 as well as the household headcount.  Oliver had two wives and 12 children (6 girls and 6 boys), 10 of whom, 6 female and 4 male, survived to adulthood (I think) and marriage.  I am still trying to locate the last of his daughters, Lucina, who was born in 1798.  I think I have marriages for the rest and know where they were living for the 1840 census.  So far Oliver does not seem to be living with any of them.  When I find Lucina if he was not with her I will continue tracking the grandchildren in the hope that he might have been with one of them.  Although Oliver was the oldest child of his parents, I do not know that any of his siblings followed as far as Ohio so it is unlikely that he was living with any of them (assuming they were still alive).  Since his children were born between 1775 and 1798, at least some of the grandchildren were adults and married with children by 1840.  So there are still possible places Oliver might have been living and not counted as the head of household.

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Who to Invite for Dinner–52 Ancestors #4

There are lots of possible criteria for choosing which ancestor I’d like to have dinner with – my first thought was my brick wall great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Hockman.  However, I’ve written several times about the obstacles I run into trying to track down just who she was.  Then it occurred to me: I haven’t really written anything about my Salt grandfather, Henry Clifford Salt, who I never got to meet (my father only just barely got to meet him!).  So here is Henry Salt and what I have gleaned from records and then the questions I would like to ask him if only I could.

Susan Ruhama and Henry Salt, c mid 1893

Henry Clifford Salt was the 2nd-born child of J. Clifford and Katie Coffin Salt, born August 1890 just 2 months after the death of their firstborn, Annie, at not-quite 2 years old.  Henry was baptized at St. Paul Episcopal Church in Newport Kentucky in 1892.  In 1893 his younger sister Susan Ruhama Salt was born in March and in July his father was probated to the State Hospital in Dayton as insane. Katie Salt was left with two very young children and a husband in a hospital some 50 miles away.  Henry was not quite 3 years old when he lost his father.  I am not clear that either he or Susan Ruhama ever saw him or visited him, although a cousin visited him on occasion.  This picture was made probably in that same year as their father was institutionalized.

Henry grew up on the family farm in Tate Township, Clermont, Ohio.  He and his mother and sister lived with his paternal grandmother, Ann J. Salt, who had been widowed young, until Ann died in 1905.  They stayed on the farm for some time after Ann’s death.  When his mother and sister moved into Bethel Henry moved out of the parental home.  It was said that Katie waited until he was old enough to be on his own before moving into town for Susan Ruhama’s education to continue.  By the time Henry was 19 he was working as a machinist and living in Cincinnati.  There he met his future wife, and in 1913 he married Carrie D. Boothby.  They moved across the river first to Dayton, Kentucky, and then soon to Augusta, Kentucky.  Henry worked as a car repairer for the C & O for several years while in Kentucky.  This information comes from a short newspaper piece published about his ill-health just a couple of years before his death.

The article notes “creeping paralysis” and the multiple page eulogy or intended death notice from his wife (I believe) also noted that Henry had been afflicted for four years before his death with an increasing paralysis that made him nearly helpless.  While the exact timing of the family’s move back to Salt Air from Augusta is not known, I do know that my father was born in Salt Air in December 1918 on the family farm.  Henry’s ill health also may explain the presence of Carrie’s parents on the farm in the 1920 census with the young couple.  Henry would have needed help with the farm labor and Carrie might have needed help caring for him and a young toddler.

Henry died 1 Mar 1922, with his death certificate reporting “Progressive muscular atrophy” as the cause.  He was 31 years old.

While I have the basic pieces of vital information and evidence to support them, I know nothing about Henry as a person.  There were never family stories told about him and what he was like.  There are no diaries or letters from him.

If I could have him sitting at my dinner table I would love to ask him about himself and who he was as a person.  What did he like/dislike?  What was important to him?  Was he sociable?  Who were his friends?  Did he ever visit his father?  What man or men helped parent him (was it, as I think, his uncle Edward Wilshire Salt, Jr.?  And if so, were there others as well?)  What did his mother tell him about his father and his father’s family?  I so wish it had occurred to me to ask my Aunt Susan, his sister, about him and about their growing up.  I wonder what she would have/could have told me?

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William Eberle Thompson (1835-1940) – 52 Ancestors #3

When I saw that the third theme for the 52 Ancestors challenge is longevity, I immediately thought of my grandpa Lyle who lived to the day before his 101st birthday.  However, before I started to write about him I decided to search my family tree database to see how many people in the tree lived to be 100 years old or more.  I discovered that there were 8 names on the list, not all of whom are direct relatives.  I was reminded, though, of William E. Thompson who lived to be 104.  He is one of the long-lived who is not a relative at all: he married a Justice cousin after his first wife died (a second cousin three times removed), late in his life.  Nonetheless, he is an interesting character and I decided to explore his life a little.

There are various pieces of biographical information about William1 including one in a compendium by the Bethel Historical Society commemorating the 200th anniversary of Bethel2.  William was born in 1835 in the village of Bethel, Ohio to C. William and Sarah Hill Thompson.  His father was a physician in Bethel.  William E. got involved in the abolitionist movement from a young age and is said to have used his rifle skills to shoot bloodhounds that the slave hunters used.  He followed his father into the medical profession and when the Civil War began he quickly volunteered as a physician for the 7th Ohio Infantry.   He apparently didn’t last long though, becoming so sick that he was ordered first to Columbus and thence home.  He seems to have applied for a invalid’s pension in 1901, I’ve seen an image of the index card that shows him but I have not seen his application.

So where does longevity apply to him?  First, he lived to be almost 105, dying 5 months shy of that birthday in 1940.  He also was said to be the oldest practicing physician in the country at the time, taking office calls almost until the last month of his life.  In all he practiced as a physician somewhere between 70 and 80 years.  He certainly also counts as one of the longest practicing physicians in the U.S. even today.

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  1.   Williams, Byron.  History of Clermont and Brown Counties, Ohio, Vol II Biographical, pp 53-55;  Rockey, J.L. and R.J. Bancroft.  History of Clermont County, Ohio, pp 140-149 on the medical profession
  2.   Bethel, Ohio History & Pictures 1798-1998, Bethel Historical Association, pp 81-82
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One of My Favorite Family Photos – 52 Ancestors #2

ALevine, Nechame and Itzak, ndll of my family photos are my favorite!  I have a difficult time saying anything is my favorite, to the exclusion of any other in the category, however here is one of my favorite family pictures.  This is Nechame Dvorah Yellin and Itzhak Levin, my husband’s great-grandparents.  There is no date on the picture, but the photographer’s stamp says it was taken in Bialystok.  It was likely taken around the time one or more of their children migrated out of the country.  Three of their six children (found so far) left Russia and migrated west, eventually to the United States.  The first to have left was likely Shmuel or Sam Levin, who left in 1899.  Choneh or Harry Levine may have also migrated about the same year.  He was already married and his second child was born in May 1899 in Russia.  His next child was not born until the family had reunited in Syracuse in 1906.  The last known child of Nechame Dvorah and Itzhak Levin to migrate probably left about 1904 or 1905.  This was my husband’s grandmother, Mata (maybe Meite) Leah or Lena Levine.  So the picture was probably taken between early 1899 and 1905. I believe that children of all three of the Levin children who came to the U.S. had copies of the picture.

Note that Nechame was wearing both a wig and a scarf to cover her hair.  This is a visual indication of the family’s strict adherence to Jewish practices.  Itzhak’s beard and skull cap are probably also indications.  There is a family story about one of the sons, Loeb, who did not migrate out of Russia:  the family being very strict about religious practices, especially making graven images, refused to let him go to the Royal Academy of Art in Russia although he had been offered a place there.

Very little is known in the present family about either of these two people who were the ancestors of the Levine side of the family.  They lived and raised a family in the small shtetl of Jalowka in Grodno Guberniya in the Russian Empire.  Itzak was a tailor and Nechame was said to be described as a saintly woman throughout the area.  Based on probable birth dates of their children, they were likely married around 1865 so might have been born around 1840 or so.  These are broad generalized estimates based on very incomplete information.

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