Friday, November 18, 2011

The Kansas Connection

My mother attended college in Topeka, Kansas at a school named Washburn College. It was my understanding that she graduated from Washburn with a bachelor's degree majoring in library science. Her sister, Alice, also attended Washburn. But the two sisters, born in New Hampshire a full three years apart ( my mother in August 1906 and my aunt in December 1909) were just one year apart in their scheduled graduation years at Washburn. I recently became aware of their class proximity when I found a copy online of Washburn College's 1930 yearbook, the KAW, that included a list of my mother, Emma Currier and her sister, Alice annotated with their class year designations.
Active members of sorority, Opeya


Title page of 1930 Washburn yearbook




















Both Currier sisters are listed in the yearbook as active members of a sorority called Opeya. I don't know the history of this organization other than the annotation, " Founded at Washburn College, 1929" so I have no idea of Opeya's purpose;  for example, whether it was a scholastic group, a special interest club of some sort or, perhaps, somehow related to the Greek fraternities at Washburn. But in any case, the listing on this page was the first record I had showing that my mother was in the class of 1930 while her sister was right behind her in the class of 1931. According to my cousin, Alice Currier's daughter, her mother did not graduate from Washburn but, instead transferred to Boston to complete her collegiate studies. According to my sister, our mother also went on to Boston for studies after leaving Topeka. We thought she had graduated from Washburn but we were not sure. In the 1930 edition of The KAW my mother wasn't pictured with the class of 1930 graduates. Perhaps she was camera shy or maybe she didn't graduate as we had suspected all these years. But we just didn't know for sure.  So I submitted a request for her academic transcripts from Washburn (now called Washburn University),  not to be nosy but to set the record straight with source data for my family history files. And after paying a $3 fee and providing proof of kinship, I got the answer...our mother was awarded an A.B. Degree on June 3rd, 1930 and her date of entrance to the college was September 15, 1926.  Her major was English and her minor was Music.  It was nice to see she had fairly strong academic success in her junior and senior years after minor struggles as a freshman and sophomore.



Washburn College Academic Transcript - Emma Currier

My sister was closer to my mother than me during our mother's later years.  Closer geographically and, as our mother aged, my sister was more closely involved because her proximity enabled her to provide and coordinate our mother's daily needs.  Not to mention closer personally in the way that mothers and daughters often form closer bonds than do mothers with sons. Our mother related some of her Washburn memories to my sister before she passed away in 1997. Some of her thoughts she might have shared with me but some of the experiences she had in Topeka  and disclosed to my sister suggested there were emotions attached that might have been easier for her to share with her only daughter than with me, her youngest son. The memories she related had to do with her living accommodations in Topeka which we had always understood to be residing in the home (or homes) of relatives. What relatives we never determined nor gave much thought to beyond the fact there was some vague connection to our mother's father, Marshall Currier. Well, relatives or not, my mother told my sister that she suffered some uncomfortable moments inside her residence in Topeka, the first being that she was assigned some household chores including responsibility for cleaning a community bathroom that contained a bathtub which other co-residents utilized as a spittoon! Scrubbing up other household members' tobacco spittle was not a fond memory for Washburn College student, Emma Currier! And, unfortunately, and more ominous was a situation where someone, she did not specify who or where,  presented her with unwelcome advances. Apparently not threatening her safety but certainly uncomfortable and definitely unwanted.  My cousin was not aware of her mother having similar problems and she has told me that the only comments she recalls her mother making about her college experience was "living with Uncle Henry."  I wasn't quite sure who "Uncle Henry" could have been but I was eager to start researching in an effort to find out. I had already established the two Currier sisters had been students at Washburn. The next obvious place to look was the 1930 Federal Census reports for Topeka, Kansas.


Emma Currier listed on Federal Census, Topeka, 1930
In 1930 Emma Currier was listed as a "roomer" in a home on Boswell Street owned by a Louis Wilson, age 77. Other occupants were his wife, one more "roomer" and one "lodger." I don't know the difference between a roomer and a lodger unless it has to do with meals included perhaps? Or maybe the lodgers are allowed to spit tobacco juice into the tub while roomers have to clean it up?  In any case, don't see any Uncle Henry mentioned. There was a radio set in the home, a  new category of interest to the census.







Alice Currier listed on Federal Census, Topeka 1930
  In 1930 Alice Currier was listed as a "roomer" in a home at 1515 College Avenue where the head of the household was a 45 year old music teacher named Rachel Johnson. I can't decipher the comment in the "owned or rented" column so don't know if Rachel was renting or not. But Rachel was listed as "head" of the household.  There was no radio in this home. Maybe Rachel provided entertainment by playing the piano each evening? There's no way to know but if so I'll bet Alice preferred that to scrubbing bathtubs like her sister!  And obviously there was no Uncle Henry here, either.



It's fun to guess about things like this and sometimes it's the only option if there are no available sources to prove or disprove a theory. As long as a clear line is drawn between conjecture and documented facts I think finding humor in family history research is healthy. Sometimes I find myself chuckling over something I stumble across in my research. So I hope finding humor is healthy or maybe I'm just going crazy and don't realize it. Whatever, I do have some good sources of documentation that I've inherited and I've found many more on websites like Ancestry.com, Findagrave.com, and GenealogyBank.com to supplement my records. Together, they all help paint a picture of The Kansas Connection as it pertains to two sisters from New Hampshire. The panoramic view of our family ties to Kansas that I found most interesting came from the pen of a lady named Mary E. Morrison. Actually, Mary E. Morrison Wallace Currier to be precise.The illustration and narrative below was my initial inherited source document introducing me to Mary Morrison in my family history.                                                                                          

"To The Top Of The Tree"

 A half letter-sized nine page booklet entitled, "To The Top Of The Tree,"  listing the chronology of the Currier family, prepared (I THINK) by my grandfather, Marshall Currier or his wife, Florence Currier, or their daughter (my aunt) Alice Currier. Or quite possibly it was the result of a combined effort between any or all of the three. I've got some of the drafts for the booklet, some typed and others hand written in pencil on legal note paper. My point in mentioning all this is that this is family sourced documentation prepared (I THINK) in the 1920's or 1930's.  Mary Morrison is mentioned in the second full paragraph of page 4. The John Currier of Langdon was my great great grandfather and Mary was his second wife. I must have read that paragraph about John's two marriages a hundred times before it dawned on me that the first wife, "Emaline Morrison," sister of his second wife's first husband, William Wallace, was Emeline Wallace, not Emeline Morrison! The booklet while certainly well intentioned and diligently researched, was not accurate. There was no Emeline Morrison.  Mary E. (Morrison) Wallace, widow of Emeline's brother, William Wallace, remarried John Currier, the widower of Emeline (Wallace) Currier. Got that? Good, you'll be tested at the end of this paragraph. The spelling of Emeline with an "e" agrees with other source documents as well as the engraving on Emeline's gravestone.  Stuff like that doesn't guarantee accuracy, it just increases the probability of being correct. So the 1920/30 era Curriers published some erroneous info in "To The Top" but they should be forgiven because it was an error that was easily solved after I stopped my head from spinning a few times. It really is remarkable this compilation of family history was gathered and researched back so many decades ago!   No computers. Not even TV and the History Channel to help out. Just U.S. Mail and library visits and perhaps some of the items I've been fortunate to have passed on down to me.  I find that absolutely amazing!  And there is additional info in the booklet they compiled that is both invaluable and accurate. I'll back that statement up as we continue considering Mary E Morrison.

Mary E Morrison was born in Langdon, NH January 11th, 1824.  There are numerous census records that confirm her year of birth and one Federal Census (1900) that confirms the month and year. But as enormously helpful as census records are to genealogy research, they can't always be considered gospel. Enumerators, those assigned the job of recording the information on the census record forms, were human and, therefore subject to human error. But I've got the best of all sources to pin Mary's date of birth right down to the day...Mary Morrison's diary for 1883! Her diary entry for Thursday, January 11, 1883 reads, "My 59th birth day and the first after Mother left us. I thought to celebrate the day by writing to my Diary."

Mary (Morrison) Currier diary entry - January 11, 1883
 Diaries are a genealogist's dream. It doesn't get much better than this for documentation. The "Mother lode" of information, straight from the source. Limited only by interpretation of handwriting and colloquialisms of an earlier age, diary entries, to me, are like a time machine handed to me on a silver platter. Sure, I suppose someone could make a false or misleading entry but I suspect that's not the case unless the diarist assumes someone else will read the entry.  I have many of my great great grandfather's diaries starting from 1865 and many years up through 1883. I only have Mary's for the one year, 1883. But I don't believe either one of them thought other eyes would  read their diary comments, at least not during their lifetimes.  And if they suspected otherwise they didn't record any juicy stuff or trashy rumors that might attract prurient interests.   Most entries are routine comments of life and work on a New Hampshire farm listing what chores were performed, who visited or if they travelled anywhere, purchases or sales made, animals or tools loaned or borrowed, and regular weather reports, especially winter weather!  Rarely have I found entries with emotional connotations other than occasional remarks about Sunday sermon critiques.  Mary's 1883 diary is the exception to the mundane workaday theme typically found in most Nineteenth Century diaries but only concerning those few occasions where she was confronted with remarkable events.

Her comment about "mother left us" refers to her mother, Olive (Liscomb) Morrison who passed away in 1882. On the 1880 Federal Census Olive was recorded as an 89 year old widow residing in the Langdon, NH home of her son-in-law, John Currier and her daughter Mary and grandson, John M Currier. So when Olive passed away it was exactly as Mary wrote..."left us." Mary's marriage to John Currier was her second marriage as noted in the "To The Top..." booklet. Her first marriage was to William Warner Wallace whom she married in Langdon on April 20, 1845.  William Wallace and Mary had two children, Henry Halbert Wallace born in 1846 and Emma W Wallace born in 1850. Both children were born to the Wallaces in the town of Northfield, Summit County, Ohio. William was recorded on the 1850 Federal Census for Northfield with the occupation of "Merchant." There's another Wallace family listed adjacent to William's family on that census but I don't know if that was a Wallace family relative that might have encouraged William and his wife, both born in New Hampshire, to establish residence in Ohio. On every census record I've found listing Henry or Emma Wallace, their recorded state of birth has been Ohio. When the 1880 Federal Census reports started asking not only for place of birth but places of birth for father and mother, the two Wallace children born in Ohio with parents born in New Hampshire became a little easier to verify.  Not conclusive proof but good leading source info. Unlike the death of William Wallace. The life of Mary's first husband, the father of Henry and Emma, appears to have ended around 1850 but date and place of death is unknown. There is another family tree on Ancestry.com that lists William's date of death as July 3, 1850 but that tree provides no source documentation. After 1850 the next chronological record of Mary and her two children is the 1860 Federal Census for Langdon, New Hampshire showing Mary residing in the home of her mother, Olive. No men are recorded as living in the household, pretty much endorsing the assumption that both women were widows. The "civil condition" categories of single, married, or widowed were not recorded on Federal Census records until 1880. There is documentation that Mary's father, David Morrison died in 1857 but, as mentioned earlier, only uncorroborated evidence her first husband died in 1850.

On May 7, 1863 Mary  (Morrison) Wallace, widow of William Wallace married John Currier, widower of Emeline (Wallace) Currier. I hope I stated that correctly. When you get right down to understanding the situation it is brother and sister in law, by marriage, marrying each other after their spouses died. It's all documented.  Believe me, I couldn't make up stuff like this if I tried . I might screw it up and make a mistake or an off the wall assumption or link but this scenario seems pretty clear to me.        

New Hampshire Marriage Record Index
 
Both Mary and John had two children each from their first marriages.  Mary's son, Henry Wallace and her daughter, Emma Wallace as I mentioned earlier.  John's first marriage had produced a son, Austin Currier born in 1838 and a daughter, Frances Currier born in 1841. In 1864 John and his second wife had a son together that they named John  Morrison Currier. The 1870 Federal Census for Langdon, NH reveals that John and Mary Currier resided in their Langdon farm with their six year old son, John M. Currier, along with Mary's daughter, Emma Wallace age 19, and Mary's mother, Olive Morrison age 79. Two other parties reside with them, a 16 year old male farm laborer and a 24 year old man whose profession appears to be "clergyman."
Federal Census, Langdon, NH - 1870

No sign of Austin and Frances Currier nor Henry Halbert Wallace but since their respective ages were 32, 29, and 24 for these three adults it seemed likely they might be  "grown and gone," possibly with their own families in separate homes. And for Austin and Frances Currier that was exactly the case;  both of them were recorded on the 1870 Federal Census still residing in Langdon. But Frances lived with her husband, Harvey Dickey, while her brother, Austin, still single at 32 years of age, lived on a farm with two older women listed on the report as "housekeepers."  So all except Henry Wallace were present and accounted for and all in Langdon, New Hampshire.  Henry's whereabouts in 1870 remained illusive until I cheated a little.   I started looking for him in Kansas on the assumption that Henry Wallace was quite likely one and the same "Uncle Henry" remembered by my Aunt Alice.  A little reverse osmosis research working backwards with chronological information...every thing's fair in love, war, and genealogy is what I always say! So Henry Wallace might be the gentleman listed as a farmer on line 3 of the 1870 Federal Census for Dover, Kansas. Might be are the key words here.  Dover is about 18 miles West of Topeka so maybe Henry started farming there and later relocated to Topeka? It could happen. The age of 23 was right. And the place of birth (Ohio) matched. So the evidence is not conclusive but there is a reasonable possibility this could be the Henry we're looking for.



1870 Federal Census - Dover, KS
  


















Evidence of Henry Wallace living in Kansas is a little more credible in 1875 thanks to the Kansas State Census.  Thank you, Kansas! The state collected their own census data every ten years in years ending in 5 from 1855 through 1925.  Slightly different from the federal census format, Kansas State Census records are a gold mine of information!  The 1875 state census for the town of Mission (same as Topeka) recorded a farmer, "H.H." Wallace, a 28 year old male with Ohio as state of birth. In and of itself this report would be no more conclusive than the Federal Census five years earlier. But recorded within the same residence in Mission is a 24 year old female by the name of Emma W. Wallace who was also born in Ohio! Now the Kansas connection is starting to look pretty solid!  Maybe not a hard and fast lock on Henry and his sister but pretty darn close! And in my opinion a pretty convincing link between the Curriers and the Wallaces of New Hampshire and their ultimate migration to Kansas. Moreover, the Kansas State Census asked "where from to Kansas." Emma listed New Hampshire. Henry listed Massachusetts which I have no way to contradict having lost track of his movements between 1860 and 1870. But it could be so I'm fairly certain we're beaming in on the right Henry Wallace.


Kansas State Census 1875 - Topeka














H.H. Wallace shows up again in the 1880 Federal Census residing in the town of Mission again, same as the State census five years earlier. But this time there's no Emma Wallace residing with him. I managed to find an Emma Wallace residing in the city of Topeka recorded with the occupation of "servant."  I believe it's one and the same Emma Wallace, sister of Henry Wallace.  Lending support to that is the fact that the report does show her place of birth as Ohio.  At the same time I have to confess that it also shows both of her parents being born in Ohio instead of New Hampshire. But there are so many possible reasons for errors on nineteenth century census reports that I wouldn't count anything out of the realm of possibilities, even a drastic change in occupations from "Teacher" in the 1875 Kansas Census to "Servant" in the 1880 Federal Census. But who knows? Anything could happen. In any case, by the year 1880 we have fairly well located and documented some of the family tree with Curriers in Langdon, New Hampshire and Wallaces in the vicinity of Topeka, Kansas. The family demography would soon be altered. Mary E. (Morrison) Wallace Currier would be a key player in the forthcoming demographic changes and, for me, an invaluable chronicler of events.

Mary Currier's 1883 Diary
After a hesitant start Mary Currier developed into a dedicated diarist in 1883. I can't speak of her diligence in any other years because her 1883 diary was the only one I was fortunate to inherit. The first entry of the year was the birth day entry on January 11th. Then a two week gap of blank pages until January 25th. From that point on, Mary missed only a handful of days in recording entries. Seldom lengthy, perhaps due to limited space by diary design (each page designed for two daily entries of ten lines apiece), her comments reveal a hard working, disciplined farmer's wife, who maintained a household for two men, her husband and their son, while devoting Sundays to church and Sunday School, weekdays to cleaning, mending, baking, canning, sweeping, cutting vegetables, and sewing, and occasional evenings visiting or receiving visiting neighbors and relatives.  Each workaday task dutifully recorded (including failures when bread didn't rise), each weekly letter from her daughter Emma logged as "had a letter from Emma," and the comings and goings of her nineteen year old son ("johnni & I went to the dentist Mr. Albee of So Charlestown Johnni had 6 cavities filled") and seventy-five year old husband also named John and apparently differentiated for diary entry purposes by formally addressing the senior as, "Mr Currier went to Charlestown Bank."  During the cold winter months her daily comments on weather included thermometer readings ("8 above zero this morn, bright and clear") and as winter gave way to spring the simple comment, "churned" indicated it had warmed up enough to produce butter. Her Sunday remarks sometimes tabulated church or Sunday School attendance ("about the usual number present" or "quite a number to S.S.") and frequently critiqued sermons (most were endorsed as "good sermon") and often recorded their titles ("No Man ___?___ To Himself and Take Heed How You Hear").  She shared her hopes for the effects of these sermons on the congregation as "Hope many have benefited" while secretly confessing one Sunday frustration of " Wish Ira Smith would not sing so loud."

Mary's husband, John Currier died in August of 1883. An amazingly strong and agile 75 year old farmer who still could cut and haul a cord of wood in a day but on this day, August 27th, while hauling a load of hay with a team of horses, suffered a fatal accident in a hayfield. The cold hard facts of his death were described on page 5 of the Currier's booklet, "To The Top Of The Tree" in one two sentence paragraph. To be sure, the booklet was a compilation of Currier family ancestry and not designed to embrace nor describe the sentiments associated with death. That's the nature of genealogy. And if you take the time to combine the narrative about John Currier from page 4 above with page 5 below he turns out to be a pretty interesting fellow.


Interesting or not, that would have been no consolation to Mary Currier to lose her second husband and the father of their teenage son to a farm accident. To my eyes, Mary's shock and sorrow as well as her resilience to carry on literally jump off her diary page entries from August 27 to August 30, 1883.


"Oh! What an h___? has brought to us. Our dear father & husband so suddenly called into Eternity this day nearly six o clock or half past five. Poor dear man left us so sudden."

Due to the layout of the diary pages Mary's day of shock and sorrow stands in contrast with the three days following describing her life going on through baking the first day, funeral services the next, and continuing on with needed farm responsibilities of threshing wheat and oats. "Life Goes On" is an epithet commonly expressed but it doesn't always hit you smack dab in the face like this picture does. Nevertheless, Mary faithfully continued writing her daily diary entries. An increase in the frequency and volume of friends and neighbors "calling" indicates Mary and Johnni (now identified as "John") were receiving moral support to ease their loss. Mary's appreciation is displayed by her meticulous accounting of each visitor, including what meals and chores were shared as well as some who "stayed over night."  Austin Currier, John Currier's son from his first marriage (and my great grandfather) was mentioned on occasion as assisting with farm chores. Mary's son John who, prior to his father's death was mentioned as going to school in "S.R." now is obviously helping with farm work, harvesting corn and digging potatoes. ("S.R." was Saxtons River, Vt, about 13 miles from Langdon). But despite the care and concern of family and friends as well as devoting their efforts to chores and farm work, Mary wrote more than once, "Oh! how lonely John & I are left" and "But how sad we both feel." 

On September 14th, two weeks following John Currier's death, Mary wrote, "Had letter from Emma. I can expect Henry tomorrow."  But the next day, among other descriptions of her days activities she wrote, "Henry did not come as I have expected."  The next mention of her son, Henry, was on the 21st with the comment, "Henry Wallace came about four o clock."  This seemed to me a somewhat formal and unemotional comment to make about the arrival of her oldest son's arrival from Kansas. Then again, it's possible Henry had been there already and just not previously mentioned in Mary's diary. I never saw any entry to indicate that Emma Wallace, Mary's only daughter had returned from Kansas either or increased her weekly correspondence to her widowed mother. But I'm just working off what information Mary recorded so I have to remember not to read too much into comments and lack of comments. In any case, at the beginning of October Mary's entries describe preparations for auction of the farm! The auction was held on October 3rd and then on the 5th, "people came for the articles they bought at the auction...Dorty (sic) came for the hens and chickens."  On October 18th, her entry reads, "trying to get things together to pack in trunks."  And on Sunday the 21st, "Many called after church. Had to do more than I like to be all ready to leave early in the morning."  Mary and John have decided to try and put their sorrow behind them and leave Langdon, New Hampshire. With the assistance of Henry their trunks are transported to the railroad depot and they travel by train in four days to Topeka, Kansas to establish residence in the same town as Mary's oldest children. The train ride offered Mary ample opportunity to observe the scenery and document the trip.


Mary seemed to me to be a bit critical about delays en route. Perhaps she had high expectations for the railroad's efficiency. Four days travel for roughly 1400 miles in 1883 sounds like pretty good transit time to me but elapsed travel time was probably not the real issue. Here was a New Hampshire farm wife who just lost her husband to an accident relocating half way across the country to live near all of her children, leaving farm chores and daily workaday routines behind her. She didn't have to churn butter or bake bread and pies while a passenger on the train. All she had to do was watch the scenery go by and record her impressions of what she saw. All the while anticipating what kind of life awaited her in Kansas. I guess she had a right to jot down a few complaints.

On Friday October 26, 1883, the first full day in Topeka following her journey, Mary wrote,"John went home with Henry after noon. I went through some of the streets with Mrs Huntoon then called at Emma & Miss __ (illegible)__."  And commented the following day, Saturday, "Stayed with Emma last night. She & Miss (?) are doing their Saturday work."  I wish I knew the name of Emma's companion recorded by Mary but have been unable to decipher. Knowing who she was might reveal some clues on the living arrangements established for Mary. For the remainder of the year Mary's diary entries made it clear that her son Henry maintained separate residence but visited frequently throughout the week, often with a team of horses drawing a load of sand and lime for making mortar. He apparently was constructing something but I don't know what.  Her youngest son, John enrolled at Washburn College, of all places!  Many comments described "selecting articles for John's room at college." The frequency of purchases for John's college residence makes me feel he might have been a little pampered. But that's just my impression. If he was here to defend himself he'd probably point out that this was 128 years ago so who's to care if he was pampered or not?! (Good point, John).  As for Emma, Mary enjoyed and recorded doing many things with her daughter, attending church, lectures at the library, and visiting John at school. But I've failed to determine exactly where Mary lived and whether it was with Emma or not.  She made numerous complimentary descriptions of the weather ("a very pleasant day with not a cloud all day") and how much she enjoyed walking ("Emma, John & I walked over to the cemetary (sic) some two miles. It being a delightful day we enjoyed the walk.") No more comments of loneliness or sadness which makes me think that Mary was indeed, moving on with her life. She maintained correspondence with the Curriers and friends back in New Hampshire, noting when she sent and received letters or cards. Christmas of 1883 was recorded, "We were all to Dr Huntoons to dinner and spent the Eve. John went home with Henry a very pleasant day."  And the last dated entry for the year was on Thursday, December 27, 1883, "Baked bread finished mending. Sent receipt back to E.M. Smith."

If Mary wrote in any other diaries before or after 1883 I imagine they have long since disappeared. There are "memoranda" pages following the dated daily entry portion which were primarily used for accounting income and expenses. Interesting to me were the paid column entries for October, one titled "Coming to Kansas" and just below it "for Johnni" both itemized at $40.50 each. I'm assuming that was for train fare and baggage. I guess Henry must have paid his own way. There are other entries within the memoranda section that appear to be dated 1884 so rather than using the diary purely for chronological events it may have been relegated to general notes or accounting. Whatever the case, the very last Memoranda page is pictured below:





Page noted, "Picked in Kansas first of May by Mrs S_____?_____" with an actual clover and attached stem sewn into the last Memoranda page. Darkened by age and enclosure it is well preserved. Mrs S might have found the four leafed clover before Mary arrived or after. Probably after. Whenever it was it seems likely that Mary hoped it would bring good luck.  I know it brought me good luck as it opened up a view of the entire year of 1883 that I never could have gotten from official documents and certificates. I will always be grateful to Mary and any of my ancestors who had a hand in preserving this precious window of 1883.  

With no more diary to show me the way, I resumed my search the old fashioned way. Well, old fashioned in the sense of resorting to records instead of written dialogue.  Since I'm using my computer to sort through genealogy websites it hardly seems fair to call my methods old fashioned. But computer or no, for the life of me I was unable and continue to be unable to find any record of Mary Currier or her son John Morrison Currier from any source between 1883 and 1895.  As I mentioned earlier I had found Henry and Emma on separate Kansas State Census records for 1885 but nothing on Mary and John. Emma apparently was a servant and, it appeared to me, for the same Mr and Mrs Huntoon that Mary's diary had mentioned a few times. But so far sifting through the 1885 census records from the state of Kansas has not helped me to pin down the location for Mary or her youngest son. And 1890 is a wipe out for research since almost the entire Federal Census records were destroyed in a fire. The one thing I did manage to come across, I assume from about 1885 give or take a few years are photographs of Mary and John. Both of these portrait type photos were contained in a Currier family photo album I inherited. Kindly noted in pencil as to their identities and both photographed by the same studio, Leonard Photography of Topeka, Kansas.


Mary E Currier

John M Currier

These are the only photographs in the album imprinted with the logo of Leonard Studio of Topeka, Ks. Believe me, I looked for more Leonard Studio photographs in the hopes that Henry or Emma might have posed for photos as well. But no such luck.








Kansas State Census records for 1895 brought the Curriers and the Wallaces back into the light after a decade of residence darkness. Mary E Currier, John M Currier, and Ema (sic) W Wallace reside together in Ward 3 of Topeka, Kansas. These state census records don't list relationships between household members the way federal records do nor did they indicate home ownership.  I can only guess that Mary owned or rented the property she shared with her daughter and youngest son. The occupations for each were "house keeper" for Mary, "bookkeeper" for John, and "Ema" I think was a "clerk" (hard to read).  Henry was recorded by Kansas as still farming and still in the town of Mission living with what appears to be a married couple assisting him on his farm as laborers. The 1900 Federal Census records show Mary and her three children still residing in the Topeka area but with a reshuffled deck. In the first year of the Twentieth Century, John M Currier has been married for one year to Cora Grubbs and the newlyweds reside in a rented home on Clay Street in Topeka. Cora's mother, Mary Grubbs lives with them. John is still listed as a bookkeeper and the record specifies his employer is the Chicago Lumber Company. Henry still resides in Mission, Kansas but in this year his mother and sister are recorded as residing with him.  Henry's occupation is farmer, Emma's is housekeeper, Mary's occupation line is blank. One additional male resides with them, recorded as a farm laborer.

So between the end of 1883 with no more diary entries to lead the way up to and including the 1900 Federal Census records, only the Kansas State Census records provide clues on the Wallaces and Curriers in 1885 and 1895.  And as noted above, documentation in 1885 is incomplete as far as my research goes, missing any record of Mary or John.  I attempted to find newspaper articles from the website, GenealogyBank.com, which revealed the possibility that both Henry Wallace and Emma Wallace may have been involved in politics. An August 1898 edition of the Topeka Weekly Capital newspaper cited the withdrawal of an H.H. Wallace from nomination for State Senator. A nominee of the "fusionists," a political term popular in that era for combinations of political parties and special interests, including farmers, would also be compatible with our Henry H Wallace but, as always, not a sure thing. Henry's sister could be one and the same as the Miss Emma Wallace endorsed in her candidacy for county treasurer by the State Ledger paper in July, 1897. According to the October, 1898 Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital newspaper she was defeated by a Will S Eberle. There's a bit more corroboration in Emma's case wherein her occupation listed on the 1885 state census listed her place of employment as "Department of Treasurer." The 1898 newspaper article supports this possibility citing, "who for fourteen years has held the position of deputy treasurer."  Interesting to note that the description of her previous service includes working for many treasurers, the first of which was named Huntoon. So Mary might have worked for the Huntoons as a servant, resided in the Huntoon home, but also worked for Mr Huntoon in the Shawnee County Treasurers' Office!  These newspaper pieces prove nothing, of course, but since my search is like trying to be a cold case detective, they should be considered if not suspects, then very much  "persons of interest."


1898 newspaper article - H H Wallace



Newspaper articles 1897 & 1898 - Emma Wallace










                                                   

                                        
GenealogyBank.com provided one more item of interest.  An advertisement published in the newspaper, Plain Dealer in 1908 lists John M. Currier, Sec. for the Chicago Lumber Co., in Topeka.


In the center of a column of advertisements, John's Chicago Lumber Co advertisement seems a little understated in comparison to the Kaw Milling Company's dare to buy a sack "on our say so" or "OK" Lard "The Perfect Shortener" but all in all still a tasteful and conservative means of getting the lumber company image out there. Works great for me since it matches nicely with John's occupation records on census reports: in 1895 a "bookkeeper," in 1900 a "secy in "lum yard," employer Chicago Lumber Co, in 1905 "lumber dealer", and in 1910 a "clerk" in "lumber yard."  All listings close enough to verify John's employment at the Chicago Lumber Company in my opinion. Whether the progression from bookkeeper, to secretary, to dealer, and ending with clerk is a true picture of going up and down the corporate ladder I'm not certain. Each of the four records were made by different enumerators, two state and two federal, and each would have their own interpretation of job titles. And regardless of their interpretation of job categories, name spellings, and all other categories of entries the census enumerators were required to record, they had to have been influenced by the citizens they were documenting. What other explanation could there be, for instance, in the example of Henry Halbert Wallace. In the 1850, 1860, and 1870 Federal Census records his name is recorded as "Henry Wallace." On all subsequent census records, federal and state, Henry is listed as "H.H. Wallace." All different enumerators who, on many records, listed others on the same reports with full names as well as just initials.  Henry was always "H.H." from 1875 on and for the rest of his life. I have to believe that he preferred it that way and made it clear to the enumerators that he was to be listed on the record accordingly.

The residential alignments as they were configured in 1900 remained the same for the rest of Mary Currier's life as well as her children's lives. John resided with his wife Cora and her mother in 1905 (State Census) and 1910 (Federal Census). John was always listed as head of household (customary for the times) and while renting a home in 1900 he was recorded as owning the residence in 1910 ("freely" owned, no mortgage).  Mary and Emma still resided with Henry who was listed as the "head of household" and owner of the residence. In 1900 the property was listed as owned vs rented and categorized as a "farm" vs a "house."  In 1910's Federal Census Henry (or I should say H.H.) still owned it but the category reversed to being a house instead of a farm. But the most interesting thing that jumped out at me when I saw the 1910 federal record is that it was annotated with the address of the home...1515 College Avenue in Topeka. Sound familiar?  Maybe not considering how long ago in this short story turned novel I mentioned it. This address is the same  address as listed for my Aunt Alice in 1930!  Now the fact that Aunt Alice said she lived with Uncle Henry was starting to make sense.

Going forward I found no more census records listing John M Currier. I found Mary, Emma, and Henry on the Kansas State Census in 1915, the three of them still together on College Avenue. That was the last record I found on Mary. I couldn't find anything on anybody in 1920. I even browsed through all of the 1920 Federal Census listings for College Avenue in Topeka but found no record of Mary, Emma, or Henry. The 1515 College Avenue address simply was not listed in 1920. Then, in the 1925 state census, Emma and Henry reappeared. Same address. Same defining information of ages and Ohio birth place. Some of the other categories are a little confusing but there are just too many matches to be anybody else. But clearly, no Mary and not surprising because she would have been 101 years old in 1925!



Kansas State Census Record 1925 - Topeka, Shawnee County, Ks

H H Wallace is listed on line 15 with his sister, Emma W below him on line 16. I'm not sure what the enumerator was trying to say for marital status. It almost looks like a precursor to McDonald's Golden Arches in black and white. Probably not but seeing as how he or she also recorded "yes" annotations for other residents in the column calling for "Single, Married, Widowed, or Divorced" I don't suppose interpretation is of much importance! In any case, the lines below the Wallace siblings has one more piece of the Kansas Connection puzzle. Two names are listed as belonging to the same household of 1515 College Avenue. A Rachel E Johnson and a Clara O'Landry? Clara's last name illegible. No ages, place of birth, or other descriptions noted. But Rachel Johnson sure rang a bell...the music teacher residing at the same address with Alice Currier five years later on the 1930 Federal Census!  I still don't know who she was other than a resident in the same house as my ancestors but there is some continuity at least linking a few pieces of history together. The history is incomplete to be sure but there's still enough recorded data to provide a glimpse of the Curriers and the Wallaces from the Nineteenth and a good ways into the Twentieth Century. And if I ever get a chance to stop in Topeka I'm betting I might even be able to focus in on a clearer picture.

I was disappointed that Ancestry.com and GenealogyBank.com could not disclose when any of the two families in Topeka might have passed away. I had earlier reviewed a map of Topeka to see how close the Currier sisters were to each other in 1930 and saw that they were residing just a block or two away from each other. Moreover, both were a short walk from the Washburn College (University) campus. The same map also showed a few cemeteries nearby so I pulled up the website, Findagrave.com.  Long story short (which is  obviously not my forte') two Wallaces, three Curriers, and one Grubbs (no pun intended) are buried together in Mount Hope Cemetery. A couple of blocks West of the Washburn campus, an upright headstone in Northwest Plot IX marks the family grave site.


The individual burial sites for each member of the families are marked by engraved flush ground markers.



And with these markers some of the history becomes clearer. John M Currier died in 1913 at the age of 49.  Mary didn't pass away until two years later so it appears that the sadness she escaped when she left New Hampshire came back and stung her again during her life in Kansas. John's wife, Cora, survived her husband by fifteen years, passing on in 1928 but her mother's death came in the same year as John. That's two Currier women that shared a year of sorrow in 1913. John and Cora, by the way, never had children so the Curriers in Kansas ended the line there. And finally, Henry and Emma Wallace, brother and sister born in Ohio, died in the same year of 1929 and are buried with the family in Topeka's Mount Hope Cemetery. I have asked the cemetery office if they could provide any more information on the six interments. I was hopeful they might have death records or obituary notices or just something to pinpoint exact dates of death. Mount Hope indicated they would send me anything they could find but I have received nothing for over a month now. If I ever get more data I will update this posting accordingly.  Since my mother, Emma Currier and her sister, Alice enrolled at Washburn in 1926 and 1927 respectively, it's likely that they resided with or near "Uncle Henry" and his sister for some period of time before he passed away in 1929. One aspect of all this that will remain a mystery is,  did Uncle Henry chew tobacco and did he spit the juices into the bathtub?  Maybe somebody in the Topeka area could stop by 1515 College Avenue and see if there's any evidence one way or the other. Until I get an update on any of these factors, my search goes on.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Searching For Anna

One of the identified photographs in one of the photo albums I mentioned in my last post, "Threads Of History," was this cute little girl with the picture annotated at the bottom, "Anna H. Morse."
   Moreover, whoever was generous enough to identify the photo as Anna made another note on the reverse side listing Anna's date of birth and age when the photo was taken. "Born Feb. 15, 1874, Aged 2 yrs."  Pretty helpful information for someone like me trying to research family history. And the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of photos in the albums I inherited from my mother are unidentified. So most, if not all will remain in unidentified status with no annotations made on album pages nor on either sides of the photos. But most do contain the name of the photographer or studio where the photos were produced. I'm assuming that people in the late 19th Century went to the photographers' studios to have their pictures taken. And that's why the photos appear so staged and formal. No smiling candid shots for the folks of that period!  And as a form of advertising their business the photographers made sure their brand, including location, were posted on the photos, often with the reminder that "Duplicates of this picture furnished at any time." Must have been a big business in those days! And I'm certainly glad for it. So when I'm given the gift of a photo bearing the name of the subject pictured I can't resist following up to see what information I can find about them. Such was the case with Anna.

But a problem arose when I searched my family history files to see where the Morse family and, thus Anna, might fit into my family tree. I had no record of anyone with the surname, Morse. So who was this Anna H. Morse, photographed at 2 years of age, and what was she doing in a photo album that had originated from the Currier family? My mother had been born a Currier and the albums had come my way from her files after she passed away in 1997. Could Anna have been from a Morse family that were neighbors or friends with the Curriers in New Hampshire?  I didn't see any evidence in Census records in 1880 for Langdon, NH where my Currier ancestors lived. Had the Morse family been neighbors, Anna and her family should have been listed.  And adding to the mystery was the fact that the photography studio named on the photo advertised an address in Woodstock, Illinois.! Not exactly down the street and around the block from Langdon to Woodstock!   
One of the nice features of Ancestry.com's website is one where you can search for "strangers" by plugging in their name and any additional info you know about them to try and find a record. I plugged Anna's full name and date of birth as noted on the photo. I also narrowed down the search by indicating she had resided in Illinois which seemed a safe guess per the photographer's address. And....BINGO!! Found her on two Federal Census reports from Dorr Township, Illinois, one in 1880 and another in 1900.
Anna Morse listed on line 17 of 1880 Census, Dorr Illinois
On both Census reports Anna's age reconciled with the 1874 birth date noted on the photo. The 1900 report (not shown here) strengthened the reconciliation because in that year the record called for month & year of birth; for Anna, February, 1874. She was listed with her father, a Sherman Morse, her mother Nettie S. Morse, and a younger brother, Floyd S. Morse. And the kicker that got me excited I might be on the right track was that mother Nettie S. was born in New Hampshire!  Aha!! The missing link!!  Sherman was born in New York so I didn't see any association there with my tree. All I had to do was figure out who Nettie S. born in New Hampshire in February 1836 (again, per 1900 report) was and I figured this investigation would soon come to a conclusion. But things didn't move along as quickly as I hoped. My first hunch was that the "S" in Nettie's name might be for Smith. My great grandfather, Austin Currier had married a woman named Ellen Smith so all I had to do was go back into my files on the Smith family and track down someone named Nettie, right?  Not so quick Kimosabe! Nothing comes easy anymore. I looked through all the Smith family connections I could think of and got nowhere. And adding to the challenge was the question, what kind of name is Nettie?  A nickname? Short for Annette? Was there some naming system going on with Nettie like the traditional history of women named Mary in the 19th Century being called Polly? I didn't know but what I did know was that I was getting no closer to identifying Nettie of New Hampshire nor linking her to the Currier family.

It took me a while to figure it out if you allow me to define a while as a week or so of afternoons. But it's not like I made some miraculous investigation to find a lost gold mine or something. And whoever reads this (if they have the patience to wade through this swampy forest) shouldn't have to wait that long either. So with the help of more album pages, more Federal Census Records, and more records on Anna provided by Ancestry.com I'm happy to reveal that Anna H. Morse is (or was) the niece of the husband of my great grand aunt. I can't wrap my brain around that without pictures. So here's a little genealogy slide show:

Anna's middle name was Holden


Anna Holden Morse's 1924 passport application

Julia (Smith) Holden - sister of Ellen Smith

Edmund Willard Holden - Julia's husband
Orthonette "Nettie" S. Holden - Willard's sister and Anna's mother.

Anna H Morse & Floyd S Morse

 The photos of Nettie and the two children are both unidentified in the album. There is a third photo of a bearded gentleman not pictured here but all were photographed by the same photographer in Woodstock, Illinois. Woodstock, by the way, is just a few miles from Dorr Township and are the only photos from that studio out of all of the albums from the Currier family. I have no doubt, albeit from circumstantial evidence, that the people pictured are the Sherman Morse family.

How about that given name for Nettie, huh?  ORTHONETTE !! Not a name you see every day.  Anna never married. She lived most of her life in Illinois and worked as a teacher. The 1930 Federal Census shows her residing in Charleston City, Illinois with occupation, "teacher at state teacher's college."  In 1945  she was listed on the Florida State Census living in Winter Haven.  She passed away at the age of 74 in 1948 in Orange County per the Florida Death Index. I don't know if she is buried in Winter Haven area or not and have been unable to determine any information beyond year of death. I will keep looking and since Winter Haven is not too far from where I live, perhaps I can take a look over there as my family history search goes on.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Threads Of History






I found the above inside a photo album I inherited from my mother.  Most of the contents of the photo album are just that...photos.  But this item, a playing card sized advertisement, copied here front and back, was inside the album as well. It is what's called a "Victorian Trade Card" that was a popular means of advertising in the late 1800's.  If you went shopping at your local general store in 1892 the odds were pretty good you would return with your purchases and a few Victorian trade cards as well, produced and distributed by various product manufacturers to keep their products on your mind. Advertising in the Victorian age no less!  According to Google, many people put the attractive lithograph cards into scrapbooks and eventually, after they faded from use in the early 1900's, the collection of Victorian trade cards became a popular hobby. I've only seen this one so I'd have a long way to go if I wanted to get serious about building a scrapbook.

And besides, I already have a hobby...surfing through old photo albums and trying to identify my ancestors. Nevertheless, it seemed appropriate that this particular card would be amongst three photo albums from my late mother's files. Willimantic Thread probably didn't anticipate their card having a link to my research of family history.  But if nothing else, the card reminds me of the fact that a lot of history is tied together with various sources of information...and some of those sources are connected by very thin threads of documentation. Inside the three albums the strongest threads of evidence are those photos that my ancestors (exactly who is unknown) graciously identified by noting the names of those pictured. Some of them, at least. Many but not all of the photographs noted with identification are from the Currier family. Which makes sense because my mother's maiden name was Currier. I should say extended Currier family to be accurate. Unfortunately, for my research purposes there are many more unidentified photos with no notations at all as well as some that are noted that I haven't been able to link to anyone in my family tree.

Of the four photos above, only one, the bottom left, was identified. The writing just below Eva Smith's photo was made by me. The original notation was on the back of the photograph but the album pages are brittle with age. So I wanted to avoid having to remove and replace the photos more than necessary to identify who is pictured in order to preserve the album pages. Eva May Smith (1882 - 1964) was my 1st cousin 2 x removed. I had to cheat to figure that out...Ancestry.com has an app on it's website that enables me to see what "relationship to you" is. All I know is that Eva was the daughter of the brother of my great grandfather's wife. Got that?  She was born in Walpole, NH and died at the age of 82 in Bellows Falls, VT.  I'm guessing she was between 3 and 5 years old when this photo was taken, probably around 1888. All of the photos appear to me to have been taken around 1890 give or take a few years.

This photograph was identified by pencil notations written directly on the album page. The "annotator" even indicated where the photo was made, in this case, Topeka, Kansas. Most of the photographs in the albums bear the photography studios' names and locations. So whoever noted this one is repeating information I could have obtained easily enough but I just think it makes the threads of documentation a little bit stronger. And with that, I'll get off the threads of history theme before I wear it any more threadbare than it already is. The subject of this full page album photo is Mary E Morrison. Mary was the second wife of my great great grandfather, John Currier.  She had been previously married to a man named, Wallace. Hence the notation showing her maiden name, Morrison, and her first married name, Wallace, and her final married name, Currier. Mary Currier's history is interesting to me because I have her diary from 1883 which includes her entries ranging from her 59th birthday in January through the accidental death of her husband John in August and continuing on into the Fall when she relocated to Topeka, KS. I'm planning to publish a more complete history of Mary in a separate post.     


The photographs below each appeared on separate pages within the albums.  Their grouping here is my creation.  I wanted to show most of the portrait photos that were identified. The unfortunate thing is that there are many more photos not identified. And some of them are from studios not only in Vermont and New Hampshire but Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Illinois.  I was hoping there would be more from Topeka because I've got a few more besides Mary I'd like to connect with photos but so far, no such luck. On this page my grandfather, Marshall Currier, is the distinguished young gentleman pictured in the top right corner. I've had a mustache for forty years now and never got mine to look that good.  Marshall's father is the photo immediately below him. He's Austin Currier, my great grandfather, center right.  My beard can't compete with his either, but I'm not certain I really want it to. Austin's sister, Francis E Currier is pictured center left.  She was my great grand aunt.  Bottom left is Mary (Morrison) Currier again while bottom right is John Morrison Currier. John was Mary's son with John Currier and was a half brother of Austin. Confused? Welcome to my world. But I still love this stuff!                                             

John Morrison Currier also relocated to Topeka, KS with his mother Mary in 1883. There were still family connections in Topeka in the 1920's and 1930 that afforded my mother and her sister the opportunity to attend school in Topeka at Washburn College. I'll try to put together the details when I publish the post on Mary. In the meantime I'm still searching through the albums as my search goes on.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Helter Skelter

I haven't given up my search, I've just been bouncing around looking at various branches of the family tree.  I have a vague plan in the back of my mind of where I want to go but haven't been able to commit myself to concentrate on any one particular branch.  I think my research of my grand uncle, Rollin Farquhar Webber, exhausted me to some degree because I was able to uncover so much information about him on line and with our trip to Allentown, Pa.  Quite frankly, I hated to give up on him but there comes a time when a genealogy researcher has to let go and just move on. I started to do that but, in a moment of weakness a few weeks ago, I just touched back on his info page on Ancestry.com, hoping to find some of the hint leaves fluttering to alert me to new hints. Nothing doing. But I looked at my notes too and saw where I had written down that the Allentown librarian had suggested contacting Pennsylvania Vital Records department for death info. I pulled up their website and gave in to the temptation to order a copy of Rollin's death certificate. Cost $19 to order it but it seemed like a good idea at the time so I went for it.  Received a certified copy the other day and it's now an official part of my files on Uncle Rollin. In and of itself I see no need to post it here so have elected not to do so.  But I hate to post without putting some sort of evidence of genealogy history so here's an obituary of the man who was Rollin's first father in law.

Samuel Trewolla died in 1916, four years after his daughter, Cora, Rollin's first wife died.  No idea if Rollin retained ties with his father in law or not. Rollin married his second wife in 1913 so perhaps the relationship with the Trewolla family had faded, there's no way to know. But the brief marriage to Cora must have bonded to Rollin's heart greatly because he chose to be buried with her and their infant son when he passed away in 1960. Anyway, I'm putting further research of Rollin on the back burner and moving on to some other family members.  And as always, my search goes on.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grains of Sand - Grains of Salt, Part 2

Part 1 of my research of Rollin Webber's life started to clear up a few things and simultaneously cloud things over a bit.  In other words, more grains of sand mixed with occasional grains of salt (aka seeds of doubt).  I more or less got the wives figured out (or at least I thought I did) with the help of a 1913 Washington Post "Licensed To Marry" notice that matched the name of Rollin's wife on his 1917 Draft Registration. Gertrude Webber was not Aunt Lois, she was Gertrude Cumberland of Washington DC.

License to marry notice - 1913
Rollin, age 33 in 1913 had married 18 year old Gertrude Cumberland who, as it turned out, was a Washington, DC native.  The next step to lock some of this marriage info into place for my research should have been the 1920 Federal Census;  1913 newspaper notice? check! 1917 draft registration? check! 1920 census? -------nothing. Zip! Can't find a thing on Rollin or Gertrude in 1920. That is to say, not on the census. I did find another patent issued to Rollin in 1922, this time for an "adjustable & reversible propeller" but nothing to prove he was still residing in Washington. To this date I still have been unable to find him or Gertrude on any 1920 census.  And it's not like I can  just scroll through the records like I did to find him in Oxford, Maine in 1880 because the population of Washington DC in 1920 was close to 450,000! I'm a patient guy and can be persistent but a task like that is a tad more than I want to tackle. What I did manage to find was Gertrude in 1930...still in Washington, DC...but marital status = D for divorced!  And she's got a 14 year old son named Rollin F Webber living with her!

1930 Federal Census - Washington DC

Still no clue where Uncle Rollin was hiding in 1920 but at least we've got some more info on him; an ex-wife and a teenage son.  The son makes sense now that we know he exists because the newspaper clipping of Rollin's attendance at his sister's silver wedding anniversary indicated he had his son with him. What is not clear in that regard is who was the Mrs. Webber attending the anniversary party with Rollin and Rollin Junior?   Divorcee Gertrude was reported on the 1930 census dated April, 1930. The silver wedding anniversary took place in September of 1930. Was it Gertrude or somebody else? Perhaps the "Faye" that Rollin listed as his wife on the 1942 Allentown draft registration? And if it was "Faye" did they live in Philadelphia like the newspaper clipping specified?  Allentown is just North of Philly so perhaps it was easier for Rollin to claim it was their city of residence?  Perhaps a little editorial license to keep things simple. And maybe it was Aunt Lois?

1930 Federal Census - Washington
Maybe. Maybe is the closest I've been able to come up with to answer that question. There's a Rowland Webber and wife, Faye, listed on the 1930 Philly census. She's from Indiana which turned out to make sense as I'll explain in a minute. But he's listed as being born in District of Columbia with parents born in Virginia. That's not even close. Then again, and I'll explain later, maybe it makes sense. But if this really is Rollin and Faye, maybe they borrowed Rollin, Jr. for the trip to New Hampshire to celebrate the silver wedding anniversary? Who knows? This one is weak, I'll admit, but unless I can pin down Rollin in 1930 with more documentation I'm basically assuming "Rowland" is Rollin and Faye is...TA-DAH!...Aunt Lois. The 1942 draft registration card lists Rollin's wife as "Faye Irwin Webber." And Philly Faye on the census record is listed as "Faye L Webber."  Ancestry.com steered me to a Faye Lois Irwin born and raised in Indiana. The website also provided a social security record of Faye I Webber's death in 1973 indicating she was a resident of Allentown, Pa with birth year info that matched all the census records. So by this time, I've got bits and pieces, some of which seem to fit together and others that require a little larger leap of faith to swallow as evidence. Nothing came up on my searches regarding the death of Rollin or where he and Faye (aka Aunt Lois) might be buried. To me, that meant one thing...ROAD TRIP!!!

My wife and I had plans to drive to New England in July. I shrewdly made plans to stop in Allentown to see what information we could find. I figured the death date info on Aunt Lois would enable us to find obituary information in the Allentown library. I called ahead and found out they had a good genealogy section with microfilm records of obituaries. If we could find her listed I was hopeful that would also lead us to info on Rollin. Perhaps even lead us to where they were buried as I had found nothing on line. We got to Allentown the evening of July 6th and the first thing we did was scout out the location of the library and then searched for the last known address we had on Rollin using our GPS and the photo of the house taken in 1939. We found both.  The house looked basically the same with improved and updated siding and roofing. I knocked on the door and asked the owner's permission to photograph the house and showed them the 1939 picture as well so they wouldn't think I was a weirdo or stalker. (I also sent them a side by side 11 x 8 after I got home to print it out)
Side by side, 1939 and 2011
 The next morning we started our search in the Allentown library.  A very cordial and helpful staff steered us to computer files of the local newspaper, The Morning Call, and we started the search for Aunt Lois' obituary. We had the social security notice from Ancestry.com citing her date of death in 1973 and residence (Allentown) so the obituary should be a piece of cake. I was hopeful it would also reveal info on Rollin, either a year of death or if he survived her. Found nothing. Nothing listed for Aunt Lois. Tried searching for Faye, tried searching for her maiden name, Irwin, and even tried Webber as Weber with one "b" but still nothing. They had obituaries organized by decades so we tried to find her in other time periods besides the 1970's and still found nothing on her.  When we tried that angle we struck out on Aunt Lois but, surprise! surprise! we found Uncle Rollin! The January 15, 1960 edition of The Morning Call,  page 26 listed the obituary for Rollin F. Webber who had passed away on January 14th in a local hospital. He had resided in Allentown since 1936 and his funeral services were to be held on January 17th in a funeral home in Washington, DC.


So much for finding gravestones in Allentown! He apparently was buried in or near Washington, DC. The obituary included a few pieces of information that were matches to facts we already knew and a few surprises as well. We knew his employment history with the navy yard. We did not know he was a veteran having served with the infantry during the Spanish-American war in Puerto Rica. (Not sure if that's a place or they meant Puerto Rico). His survivors were Faye (Aunt Lois), a brother in Michigan (another interesting tale), his son (Rollin, Jr) and one granddaughter (still a mystery to me), and was predeceased by one son (another mystery).  Lots of grains of sand flowing through the hourglass now but unclear what to take with a grain of salt. For instance, the way the obit was written it would seem that Uncle Rollin and Aunt Lois might not have lived in Philadelphia if "he was a resident of this area since 1936...and prior to that worked at...Washington, DC."  Not conclusive one way or the other by any means but just adds to the puzzle. Unless he prepared his own obituary before he died I would assume the information was provided by his widow and perhaps edited by the funeral home assisting with final arrangements. Thus, obituary info as wonderfully informative as this one was, still has to be considered with a grain of salt. It's not a biography, it's just an obituary.

We had reserved the morning in Allentown for research but had travel obligations going forward so we departed Allentown late that morning and headed on to New England. I was especially intrigued by the info that Uncle Rollin was a veteran and surmised that if funeral services were in Washington, perhaps he was buried in Arlington. During the next few weeks while we were vacationing I checked out Arlington cemetery rules on line and determined the best way to find burial information was to submit a written request as instructed on the cemetery website. I also did an online search for the Washington, DC funeral home listed in the obit but only found facilities with the same name in a couple of Maryland locations, nothing in DC.  I sent them an email inquiry to see if they could offer any insight but never received a response. Two weeks later, heading home to Florida, we drove South past and beyond Washington, DC with some reluctance not to be able to find where Uncle Rollin was buried but knowing a search would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

When we got home I decided to look up Lee Funeral Home online again and tried calling them. Two Maryland addresses with the same name were both located within 50 miles of DC. The gentleman I talked to verified that they were, indeed, the same company but they no longer had a facility in DC. He offered to have his office look into their archives to see if they could find any information for me regarding the services reportedly held in DC in January 1960. The next day Lee Funeral Home returned my call with the following info: "their office was contacted by Trexler Funeral Home of Allentown, Pa on January 15, 1960 and requested a representative  meet the widow, Faye Webber, at the train station in DC who was accompanying the remains of her late husband, Rollin F Webber, and assist her in coordinating movement of Rollin to the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC for burial on Saturday, January 16, 1960."

So much for Arlington. Uncle Rollin was buried in Congressional Cemetery located right in the heart of downtown Washington, DC. I looked up the cemetery and they have a website. I was a little concerned when I saw the size describing the cemetery grounds on 35+ acres with 14,000 headstones that it might be a challenge to find out where Rollin was buried.  Another website called Findagrave.com had failed to provide any info. But on the Congressional Cemetery website I not only found a listing of Uncle Rollin's burial site, it even provided a photo of his gravestone!

Site - R88/109 Congressional Cemetery
The engraving on the stone is not clear enough to decipher in the photograph provided by the website but I can always improve on the quality by visiting there myself. Maybe not anytime real soon but the next time I go past DC I'll be sure to stop and visit. What struck me as interesting was to recognize that the style of his gravestone, a tower capped with  curved cathedral type peaks facing out on four sides (that's how I describe it, anyway),  is very similar in style to the gravestones of Rollin's parents and grandparents in the Webber cemetery in Oxford, Maine. Finding the gravestone so quickly and easily on the website wasn't the only surprise, however.  Also interred at the same grave site, Rollin in site R88/109,  adjacent in site R88/110 were two Webbers... Cora S. Webber, date of death January 1, 1912. and sharing the same site with her, the unnamed son of Rollin F. & Cora Webber, death date December 28, 1911. Here was the "predeceased son" mentioned in Rollin's obituary. And Cora, who had to have been Rollin's wife before Gertrude and Aunt Lois, apparently died as a result of an unsuccessful birthing of their unnamed son. Mother and child passed away three days apart. Uncle Rollin, with Aunt Lois's assistance, was reunited with his first wife and infant son and all three rest together in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC.  To me that is just so sad but so sweet that Rollin would want to be buried with his first wife and infant child. Not to mention that Aunt Lois, Uncle Rollin's third wife, made sure it happened the way her husband wanted.


License To Marry notice - May 1910
 The Congressional Cemetery website even listed a short obituary for Cora including her maiden name and age (31 yrs. 8 mos. 1 days). Even though her maiden name was spelled wrong (nee Trewella vs Trewolla) I was able to find records of her birth in Virginia and, again, a license to marry notice published in the Washington Post in May, 1910.  Thus,  Rollin and Cora were only married about a year and a half before she passed away. And to the best of my knowledge after researching Rollin from Oxford, Maine to Washington, DC, Rollin had a total of three wives: Cora, Gertrude, and Faye Lois. I found some information on Cora's life, beginning with her birth in Bowling Green, Virginia in 1880. She and her family had relocated to DC by 1900 and in 1910 at the age of 30 she married Rollin. Gertrude was born and raised in DC but the last record I can locate on her is the 1930 Federal Census where, as a divorcee, she lived with her son, Rollin Junior, still in the District of Columbia. No information after that has been forthcoming in my research but I'm hoping when the 1940 Federal Census records are made public (should be next year) I might find more on her and on Rollin Junior as well. I have a social security death notice transcript that appears to report Junior's death in March, 1976 but that's all I've been able to find. I have found nothing to verify any clues about the granddaughter mentioned in Rollin's obituary. At this point I can only assume she might have been a daughter of Rollin Junior but that trail, so far, has gone cold.

So my research on my Uncle Rollin has pretty much come full circle from his birth in Oxford, Maine in 1880 to his death in Allentown, Pa in 1960 with burial in Washington, DC.  It's true that the decade from 1920 to 1930 is a little foggy as far as where Rollin was residing but I'll continue working on picking out whatever details and records I can. The question at this point of my investigation was, what happened to Aunt Lois? My source information on her consisted of three Federal Census records from Indiana for 1900, 1910, and 1920, the questionable Philadelphia census in 1930 (with husband, "Rowland"), and the social security death record of 1973. When we had been unable to find her obituary in the Allentown library, the staff suggested we submit a request to the state for a death record. I could do that and maybe I still will but my cheap  frugal nature is holding me back from paying for it. Recalling what the Maryland funeral home  ( Lee Funeral Home)  people had told me I thought it was worth a shot to contact the Allentown funeral home (Trexler Funeral Home) regarding Aunt Lois.  Trexler had coordinated moving Rollin's remains to DC so maybe they would have also taken care of Aunt Lois when she died (in Allentown) in 1973. It was worth a shot and it turned out to be a good guess. Trexler researched their archives and got back to me with confirmation that they did indeed, handle arrangements for Aunt Lois and, as with Uncle Rollin, coordinated moving her remains to Indiana where she is buried in a family plot with her parents and a sister. Trexler even provided me with a copy of her obituary.

Obituary notice - Aunt Lois
It was interesting to see in her obit that "a former government employee, she had worked in the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington."  I assume her work in DC is how she met Rollin. She was still in Indiana for the 1920 census with occupation listed as "clerk for U.S. Treasury."  Ironic that she worked for the Census Bureau while the 1920 census record for Rollin has eluded me and the 1930 census from Phily is a little shaky as far as solid evidence goes. And while we're on the subject (1930 census), if "Rowland" really is Rollin, and if Faye aka Aunt Lois works for the Census Bureau, could Rollin have "borrowed" previous wives' ancestry info for some reason?  It might explain why "Rowland" was listed as being born in DC and parents born in Virginia.  Kind of a stretch and an interesting conspiracy theory but the bottom line is I simply don't have a clue. All I can do is try to piece together as much information as I can find and hope that it's accurate and logical.  All in all I feel fortunate to have been able to document as much as we have on the lives of both Uncle Rollin and Aunt Lois  and will continue to work on those "foggy" years of 1920 to 1930.



                                              MORE NEWS FROM UNCLE ROLLIN

Two days following our library search in Allentown my sister in law gave me some records she had discovered while sorting through items in her home in preparation for a yard sale. Talk about irony?!? And good timing! One of the records was a letter dated July 6, 1958.  The letter was written by Uncle Rollin and addressed to my mother and father.
Letter written by Uncle Rollin - 1958
Rollin wrote the letter to thank my mother and father for updating him with information regarding the passing of his sister, Florence (Webber) Currier, who had died June 22nd. He listed the names and addresses of extended family so that my parents could ensure all concerned family members were notified.  The listings have given me  source documentation for my files on the 1958 residences of extended Webber family members. (Thank you, Uncle Rollin!) One is listed as his brother, Charles, but instead of Charles Webber he's listed as Charles Kezartee.  In my Part 1 post my grandmother, Florence Currier had also listed a brother named Charles. And in the same post I included a newspaper clipping of Florence's silver wedding anniversary that included attendees, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Webber Kezarth. Long story short...when their father died in 1880 Charles was 2 years old and adopted by a couple from Michigan, last name Kezartee. So Charles was embraced by a new family and got a new surname in the process. Rollin also noted his thanks  "for the invitation to come and see you but my condition makes it uncertain what we can do."  This comment, one and a half years before he died, suggests to me that the "brief illness" cited in his obituary may have been longer than "brief." But the one comment Rollin made in his letter that truly filled me with inspiration to carry on my search in family history was the sentence, probably addressed to his niece, my mother, that said, "Some day I hope to give you a detailed list of your relatives showing their connections to the Webber family."  I don't know if he ever did that or not.  If he did I'd love to see it. But, in the meantime I'll do my best to make sure my descendants will have access to any and all family genealogy information I can gather. And to that end, my search goes on.