Research
* Source all O’Shaughnessy findings so I can look at what I know and be ready to share it with a new contact.
* Continue to search for and correspond with Scheier living relatives – send a message to the general JewishGen listserv about my questions.
* Develop research plan forms as presented by Marian Pierre-Louis in her webinar (this could be considered Organization but should further my goal of researching more effectively and efficiently) [I got nothing done on this task so am leaving it on for September. Maybe the Fall will be more conducive to this work.]

Organization
* Empty inbox on desk: sort, source, enter in appropriate database and put away. [I *finally* got the pile of papers on the desk finished. One inbox to go and my desk is pretty much cleared for the Fall!]

Education
* Continue learning how to use Clooz3; I watched the intro videos, and am following the listserv with interest. Working on putting what I have learned to use.
* Watch one online video or webinar about genealogy. [I got really carried away in August and did not only the 2 I had pre-registered for - one on using wikis and the other on using the Library of Congress online site and resources but a series of three on getting started with house history that Marian Pierre-Louis offered. And then I listened to Judy G. Russell, the Legal Genealogist, present about circumstantial evidence, over at my old stand-by Legacy Family Tree webinars. I learned so much in August!]

Disclaimer
I am not employed by or in any way affiliated with any of the companies or services I have mentioned in this posting. I mention specific names or products that I have used and liked.

The following is an excerpt from the transcription of an interview between my mother and Ruhama Brown Fagley dated 26 Sep 1984. Ruhama gave a brief history of the Salt and Ely family relationsips.

“My mother was a cousin of Clifford Salt through the Justice family. His mother was Ann Justice and she married Wilshire Salt. My mother’s mother was Elizabeth or Lizzie and she married John Francis Marion Ely. The Ely family had come from England as the Coffin family had. Different parts of England. My mother chummed with Savil Salt who was her age and, being an only child, it was wonderful to have a cousin her age. After Wilshire Salt’s death in his forties [It was in 1864, and he was just 40 years old.], Aunt Ann wanted her children to have a better education so she rented her farm at Salt Air, Ohio, and moved over to New Richmond, Ohio. And her children could have a better education. It was while they were there that, as I recall, my mother said, that Savil went down with a cold of some kind, possibly pneumonia and died.” [The 1880 mortality schedule of the census listed consumption as the cause of death.]

“It was a very hard blow for my mother at that age when she was teaching school and caring for two parents who were neither very well. She was riding horseback four miles to teach the primary grades in Bethel at twenty dollars a month.”

The Salt family and the Ely family both lived in New Richmond during the period of time from about 1864-1873. So Mary Ruhama had the company of her cousins, the Salts, for much of her growing up years. After the Panic of 1873, the large store called Hitch, Ely and Ely in New Richmond, Ohio, went bankrupt. One of the two Ely’s in this partnership was Mary Ruhama Ely’s father, John F.M. Ely. He had a breakdown of some sort as a result (was in poor health) and never was able to work again. John had been a storekeeper in several locations in southwestern Ohio, with the New Richmond store the largest and last. The family moved back to the Bantam area and the Justice farm.

Ruie Ely

Mary Ruhama had just graduated from the 8th grade, and she went to work as a teacher, at somewhere between 14 and 16 years old. She started out teaching a summer school “with a certificate on the back of which was written grades for a ’3 years Certificate only good six month, too young. Don’t give her a school.’” That was the beginning of “Miss Ruie’s” career as a teacher. For some period of time she was the only wage-earner for her family and she helped care for two invalid parents. Ruie described these days as “strenuous” but she did the best she could and never shirked.

I just got a copy of a history of her family that Ruie started writing on her 67th birthday, a treasure I did not know existed until I found it on my recent trip to Ohio. Thank you to the Batavia branch of the Clermont County Public Library and to the Clermont County Genealogical Society which maintains its collection there. Ruie was a writer for her entire adult life, filling a column of local news about Bantam for the Clermont Sun, for 50 years. She had taught until she married and then had to quit. Women in those days were not allowed to continue to teach once they were married. She did not describe in her memoir how she and her husband met, or their courting, but she did describe their wedding. Mary Ruhama Ely and George Tibbitts Brown were married on the 2nd of June 1885 in the evening in the old brick house she had been born in, the house of her maternal grandparents Savil (called Samuel in the memoir by Ruie for some reason – I have always seen him called Savil) and Ruhama Justice. They were standing in almost the same spot that her parents had stood to be married, in front of the parlor’s old carved mantle, with many friends and family around them.

George Tibbitts Brown family

Ruie and Tib Brown went on to have 5 children, and lived long and productive lives. Here is a picture of them and all the children standing in front of their house. I don’t know exactly when this picture was taken, but the youngest girl (Ruhama) was born in 1901. I’m guessing it might have been a Christmas picture.

If I had known that the 1940 census would be this interesting I would have started looking at it a lot sooner.

The last piece I posted for this blog was about my husband’s family’s appearance in the 1940 census and a surprise it held.  I made the point that although we think we know everything about people with whom we lived or whom our parents knew well, there are always things we don’t know.

I got quite the surprise when I looked for my family.  My grandparents, my aunts and uncles and older cousins are all in the census, all living in Philadelphia, but there is an extra son in my Aunt Ethel’s family.  Anomalies in the census always raise the question is it real or is it a mistake of the census taker, is it a disinterested lie to get the census taker out the door or an intentional falsehood for who knows what reason.  .

Here are the lines from the census.

There are my aunt and uncle and the two sons I know well, my cousins Marvin and Dan, but between them is Morris who my aunt reported was her son.

Morris isn’t there in the 1930 census, just Marvin and Dan.  I checked with my older cousins, no one remembers another son.

I have spent a little time looking for Morris Kessler, but I haven’t found anyone who seems related to my family.  So, who is Morris?  Is he a real person who lived for some time with my aunt and uncle or was he just another kid hanging out in the house when the census taker arrived?

I was happily listening to a Genealogy Guys podcast as I drove to work the other day, and my attention was particularly caught by an email they read and discussed briefly toward the end. The email was from a guy who had emailed them before about how to get copies of some family information he had discovered was in a library. He was living too far away to make going to the library feasible and was stuck. George and Drew (who are big library supporters) had suggested that their correspondent contact the librarian and ask some questions about exactly what the library held and how to get copies. The current email reported a big success. This reminded me that I have myself found valuable family information in libraries (that I would not have thought to look in), and the combination led me to decide to post today about some of the places I have learned to explore for aspects of family history that are not the traditional places.

First, I learned from my professional office partner years ago that emailing or calling people who might have information you want often works very well. Now, maybe you don’t need to be told this. Maybe it is really easy for you to pick up the phone and call someone to ask for help/a favor/information that is their area of expertise. This is something that is very difficult for me to do, and so wasn’t something I automatically thought of when I had a question. The widespread use of email has helped, although I have also learned to make those phone calls if I really want something.

So where have I found family history information or documents? My list includes: College/university archives and Special Collections; the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center library; eBay alerts; various Town Halls.

One of the first places I discovered was various college and university archives as I began to track down the education of different family members. I was trying to trace my mother-in-law’s education and she wasn’t alive to ask.

U.B. 1930

So I started emailing the three universities she had reportedly graduated from. In my experience, the school’s archivist (or someone in that office) is almost always willing to direct you to the right person to get student transcripts from (assuming that the archives doesn’t hold them, which they sometimes do). You can also get copies of schedules for the time period (when classes started, when breaks were, when graduations happened, etc). Sometimes you strike it rich and there are yearbooks or class pictures which you can get copies from. I got a first year of law school picture for my father-in-law that way. I now also have a copy of my Grandpa Lyle’s transcript from his one year of college in Ohio. (I’m still searching for my mother-in-law’s education beyond her college graduation. She attended a Master’s program at the University of Chicago for parts of two years but left without graduating.)

At college or university websites it also can pay off to explore the Special Collections catalog. I found a whole collection for the Sweet family that included an ancestral tree and

Sweet ancestral tablet page

a number of photographs of my family members. I have to admit that I didn’t find this one by browsing their catalog, but was pointed at it by someone else referring to it – I think in an online family tree. I also found a collection that has pictures of the family of Judy’s favorite, the Davies mansion, in the Yale library collections. Judy and I plan to go together to see this collection one of these days. Finding aids for the collections, when they are available, tell you more clearly what is in a collection (as my sister-in-law the librarian and archivist would tell you).

The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center deserves special mention for several resources it has online. Also for the wonderful responsiveness of its librarians/reference workers. The obituary collection it maintains is now also available on Ancestry.com, but I prefer to go to the original site (the horse’s mouth as it were). If you want to order a copy of anything you find, you have to go to the site to order it anyway. While the strength of the resource is finding Ohio people, there are sometimes people from other places included. For example, my grandfather-in-law was found there because his death was an accident involving a car and a train and it was reported in the local newspaper in the Indiana county just across the state line from Ohio. Also sometimes people who either themselves were from Ohio but didn’t die there or whose parents were get included. Besides obituaries there are other papers and references to biographical sketches etc. in the same database which is searchable by last name. I got information about several of my Snow and Denman line, as well as Shelton just recently. And I scored early by finding a whole folder of letters written by a cousin who was doing genealogy in the days when you had to write letters. She corresponded with one of the Hayes librarians and told him about what she was trying to find for several different family lines.

EBay alerts is something I actually have written about before, at least in passing. That was how I found the collection of Shelton pictures that I acquired. I first learned about doing this from Lisa Louise Cooke’s podcasts, and I try to keep several active. You do a search for something on eBay, like the place your relatives came from for example and then save it with instructions to email you when there is anything new. You have to sign up for an eBay account, which is free, in order to save your searches. Right now, I have 3 active searches, for Wakeman Ohio, Clermont county Ohio, Ohio Military Institute. I get hits for Wakeman fairly often, and little for the other two. I’m still hoping for a year book for my father’s senior year at the Ohio Military Institute.

Last, but not least: whenever you have to be in a Town Hall for genealogy information ask about local books or booklets. I bought a booklet done for the bicentennial of Neversink Township years ago, and it has all sorts of bonuses for me. Including an image (unfortunately not very clear at all) of the original deed to William Denman for the land he settled the family on originally. Also a transcript of a letter about those original Denmans, which described their living circumstances as seen by a visitor in 1797 when they were still living in a log lean-to. In another case I learned of a book about the town (Ashford Connecticut) that I was able to purchase. It has a history of the town from its beginnings, various pictures and lists of various groups (like early selectmen, etc.). This one not only includes a couple of my relatives, but also helps me see the context of their lives in that place and time.

Now that the 1940 census is more or less fully indexed I took a lazy woman’s stroll through some of our ancestor’s records.  I wasn’t expecting much new information.  My mother and mother-in-law both remembered that time and filled me in on the stories of our grandparents.  With such low expectations I was all but assured of finding something of interest and, of course, I did.

My husband’s grandfather worked for the WPA in 1940.  The WPA or Works Project Administration was founded in 1935 by the order of President Roosevelt to alleviate unemployment and start the country on the road to recovery from the Great Depression. At it’s peak in 1938 it provided jobs for 3,000, 000 people.  Edwin Cole was one of them.

In the 1940 census Edwin reports that he is working in “cement” and employed by the WPA.    My husband remembers being told that his grandfather traveled around Seattle pouring cement porches for people with an African-American partner.  Such a partnership would be unusual in the 30′s and 40′s, but maybe not if the WPA was involved.  The NAACP praised the WPA for providing African-Americans with real opportunity.  I would love to know if this partnership started with the WPA and continued on afterward.  There is so much rich history to be discovered in WPA records, but I haven’t scratched that surface yet.

Today, I am simply wondering what brought Edwin Cole to need the help of the WPA.

Edwin emigrated from Northern Ireland as an infant and lived with his parents in Nebraska and then Oregon.  In Oregon he met Rosa May Martin and married her in 1907. The marriage announcement states that Ed is “a prominent young businessman”..  By 1908 they were settled in Seattle.  A daughter was born and died in that year.  The 1909 city directory shows Edwin owning a grocery store at 2422 2nd Av.  Edwin and Rosa were living above the store.

The next city directory entry I can find is 1914.  By then Edwin and Rosa are living at 927 N. 87th St..  They owned that house and would live there for many years.  The grocery store is gone and through the years that followed until1929 Edwin worked at various jobs in a shipyard.  I expect there was work to be had in the shipyards prior to and during the First World War and Edwin seems to have found steady employment there.  By 1920 two sons had joined the family in the house on N 87th street.

Edwin Cole as chief janitor in the Arkade Bldg

After the stock market crash in 1929 America’s industries, including ship building, ground to a halt.  In the 1930 census Edwin is listed as a houseman in a hotel.  A houseman is a janitor in a hotel. I imagine Ed lost his job and counted himself lucky to be working as a janitor in 1930.  Although things must have been difficult Ed and Rosa were still able to deed two wood lots to their sons in 1934.

By 1935 things got worse.  Ed was unemployed and then in June Rosa died.  Ed couldn’t find full employment until the WPA provided a job for him.  I’m not sure when he started working for the WPA, only that he continued at least until 1940.  In 1938 he married Effie Kane and the two moved to a small house on Interlake Av. next door to Effie’s son. Ed made a total of $700 in 1939.  These were hard years in America and in the Cole household.  As America geared up for the Second World War the economy recovered and the austerity of the 30s eased.

I think Ed and Effie had a few good years until Effie’s death in 1945.  Ed continued for as long as he could and eventually moved in with my mother-in law and father-in-law.  He died in 1959.

As for me, I seem to need to continually relearn the classic genealogy lesson,  just when you think you’ve got it all figured out…

 

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