Portrait of Z. B. Coffin – One Mystery Solved

This oil portrait of Zebulon B. Coffin, my second great grandfather, has hung in my living room since shortly after we moved into this house in 1983.  Before that it spent I don’t know how much time in several attics.  When it was passed along to me there wasn’t really much of anything known about it: not who painted it, or when, or why it was painted.

A number of years ago, I discovered in reading through a set of family diaries from his family that it had been done for his daughter Jessie’s birthday one year, but at the time I was originally reading through them I did not make any notes or entries anywhere so I could remember the details.  This past year I added the specific task to my 25-minute tasks of going back and finding that specific entry so the information can be added to the back of the picture (at least a date).

I recently began reading the first family diary again in my search for the remembered entry, and lo and behold! I found it in the first year of the first diary being kept, which was started the end of August 1885.

“Friday Nov 20/85  Mamma’s birth-day.  Mamma was able to come down to breakfast and when she got to the dining-room was surprised to see an oil painting of Grandpa, hanging over the mantle.  Grandpa had it painted by Mr. Weber, to have for a surprise on ‘this day’.  When Mamma went to sit down she found her chair occupied by some boxes of paper from Sister, handkerchiefs from Papa, gloves from Grandpa, a table scarf from me and some silk stockings and shoes from Burtie which we had stuffed with cotton and made look very funny.

Uncle came over to supper and brought a gold scarf-pin.  We all enjoyed the Supper and afterwards, cream & cake.”

This entry was written by Mamma’s younger daughter, Mary Alice Dalton.  Mamma was Jessie M. Coffin Dalton, daughter of Z.B. Coffin (Grandpa) and wife of Richard J. Dalton (Papa).  Their older daughter, often called Sister by Alice, was named Jessie Belle and usually called Belle.  Burtie was Anthony B. Burton, an “adopted” member of the family who worked in the store with Z.B. and lived with them.  The family diary was an idea he (I am guessing it was his idea not Alice’s) adopted from a newspaper article and he and Alice were to be the family keepers of said diary.  Alice was only 16 when they started this project and still a student in high school.

It is this blended family that started me on my quest for knowing more family information, as I wrote in the first days of this blog.  In fact, it was Alice Dalton herself (or a picture of her) that was my first introduction to family history.  The family diary that was kept (mostly by Burtie or ABB after about the first 6 months) provides a full picture of what life was like for them in the late 1800s, living in Newport Kentucky on one side of the Ohio River and Z.B. having a store over the river in Cincinnati.  I hope in future to transcribe more of the entries and write about the family’s doings here.


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February Genealogy To-Do

Perhaps the most important thing I need to do this month is not directly a genealogy project, but certainly is related to my ability to do online genealogy research.  My body has a love/hate relationship with the computer, currently hitting me with a repetitive strain injury in my shoulder that requires some adjusting to how (and how long) I use the computer.

The second item on my list is to go spend a weekend with my niece in Maine.  There are still Boothbys in Maine, and as I have posted in the past, one of them was a Mayor of Portland and has a small square with his name on it.  More importantly I haven’t had much chance to really catch up with this niece lately and I want to know what’s going on in her life.

With the optimism that I am solving my body-computer issue, I will also continue to work on my family computer files which represent the digital equivalent of my piles of paper collected in my search for family information.  I can see progress happening on this project but I would surely like to be done with it, so I can accurately see what evidence I have already and what further evidence I need to be searching for (without collecting evidence again that I already possess but couldn’t see).  Yes, I know already that I have collected various birth, marriage, and/or death records more than once and I’d like to stop doing that!

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Jeanette Yellin Serling (1904-1999)

I wrote years ago about the Yellin children and a brief summary of their arrivals in the U.S. (here), but am prompted to write more about Jeanette (Scheine Toby) today. Recently Cousin Ron (another family researcher) has sent around an audio file of an interview done with Sheine by another cousin and a transcript of an interview he did with her a year or two following the first. He also summarized his interview and research on her migrations. So this is intended to be sort of a public service announcement for any family members who are interested. The Yellin sisters married men named Killian, Rosovsky (or Rose), Golub, Braude, Levin, and Serling. The sole Yellin brother, Samuel, married a woman named Gold.

Jeanette, or Scheine Toby, and known to some of the next generation as Tante Scheine, was the youngest of the Yellin children. By the time she was born, two of her older sisters had already migrated to the U.S. A third left when she was about seven years old. Of the seven living children, only one married and stayed in the Jalowka area (Friedel who married Herschel Levin). Friedel’s story deserves a post of its own.  This picture shows the family of Abraham David Yellin circa 1910, with Jeanette to the right of her father and in front of her mother Chaia.

Scheine was the only child left at home by the time her father, Abraham, died in 1922. The family in the U.S. started working to have Jeanette and their mother migrate to the U.S. but ran into immigration roadblocks. The result was that mother Chaia could come into the U.S. because she had children here, but Jeanette could not. This led to a lengthy and complicated set of arrangements. Jeanette ended up being able to migrate to Canada. Her sister Esther and brother-in-law Morris Killian worked to find a way she could also come to the U.S. and managed to get her a one-year visa. So Jeanette was able to spend one year in Syracuse with the family and then returned to Montreal. An arranged marriage to an American cousin a couple of years later allowed her to return to the U.S.

There are many twists and turns to this story, some of which are known and even documented, but make for a complicated and long tale. The end of the story is that Jeanette and her arranged-husband divorced, Jeanette married Israel Serling and they lived in first Syracuse and then the Detroit area for the rest of their lives.  As far as I know they did not have any children but Jeanette was known by many of the children and grandchildren of her sisters and brother.

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January Genealogy To-Do – 2017

Happy New Year everyone!  Here’s to a wonderful year for all of us!

I just briefly scanned my last year’s January post and see I have not managed to focus on at least one of the goals I set.  Specifically, I have not managed to pursue my Boothby line, nor have I done much in the way of learning about doing research in Maine (where that family started out in this country).  I’m not sure what prevented my doing any of this.  I did spend more time on DNA testing, my own and getting others to test, including one male Boothby cousin this past summer and am now awaiting autosomal test from a female Boothby cousin.  I hope to learn to use their results in combination with my own and my siblings to begin to see where my chromosomes have come down from the Boothby line.  Also I hope to connect with other Boothby relatives who have tested.

One relatively easy task on my list: I want to go through the rest of Laura Denman Booth’s memoir and outline the rest of the posts to write from it.  She wrote so descriptively about many of her early experiences and I want to be sure to cover them thoroughly.

Of course, I will continue to work away at organizing my genealogy computer files.  I have made progress in 2016 on this task but it *still* isn’t done.  I have 2 more surnames in my family lines to work on when I finish the one I started recently.  That doesn’t count the surnames for my research into my husband’s family lines.  Oof!

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December Genealogy To-Do

I can’t believe that it is already December!  This year is going so fast!  November passed nicely, with a lovely Thanksgiving family get-together just last week, and a few genealogy tasks accomplished.

For this month I have just a couple of goals.  First, and foremost, I am trying to think of various family-history-related presents I can do for my family presents.  I did manage to get a new (little) family chart done and off to be printed for our newest and youngest  member.  We do stocking presents for everyone else, so I’m trying to think of smallish items.  I have an idea for a bookmark (the old-fashioned physical kind) but haven’t figured out how to do it yet.  Any and all ideas out there will be welcomed.

The other main goal I have is the ongoing one: continuing to organize my digital files by naming them consistently and then, later, making sure they are suitably connected with the person or people in my family tree database that they provide information about.  It seems like it ought to be a simple and not-too-time-consuming task and yet, I’m still plodding away at it.  Too many files (and too many duplicates!) and not enough time or patience.

Happy December to all!

Posted in Bits and Pieces