Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Through the Years

Dressed as my version of a gypsy - circa 1960
Costumes were pulled together from what you could find around the house. 
Creativity reigned supreme.

Halloween with my children and friends - circa 1985
The scarecrow, bat, and witch are my children.
A bit more planned, but still all the costumes were sewn by their mothers, and there is no blood or gore.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Mix-Up in Muscatine

As most family historians say over and over again when trying to explain to others, "It's not about names and dates. It is finding out about the lives of our ancestors that holds a grip on us.  Long after we have the names and dates, we continue to search for scraps of information about the lives and personalities of family members who lived long ago.  So as I was browsing in the Newspaper Archive database available through my local library, I found the accompanying news article about Uncle Ernie (Ernest Thomas Allen) who I wrote about previously here, and here. This is why genealogy never ends. 

Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune

Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune
Wednesday, July 14, 1920
Page 4

   It is hard luck, indeed, when you happen to have the same name as an alleged thief, especially when you have some heartless friends to ask foolish questions.  This is the little pet peeve of E.T. Allen, city street commissioner, who poured his tale of woe into the ears of Officer Cal Schrieber.  It seems that Mr. Allen's front name is Ernest, and a man by the name of Ernest Allen, who works at the Zoahringer garage on Front street, was arrested Monday for the theft of an automobile tire from a man in Columbus Junction.
   Friends of the street commissioner called him up on the telephone when they read of the arrest and offered to bail him out, it is said.  He wants it distinctly understood that he did not steal any tire, or at least that he was not arrested for any such theft.  He couldn't use a Ford tire on "Dobbin" he declares.

So Uncle Ernie still had a horse for transportation in 1920, and there is another man by the same name in the town.  That is good information for a researcher  . . . I wouldn't want there to be another mix-up in Muscatine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ernest T. Has Been Located

Here at last is a photo identified as Ernest T. Allen, the oldest and only son of James Bush Allen and Elanor Gilshannon Allen.  Ernest Thomas Allen was born 02 Dec 1872 in Clinton, Iowa.  He married Nora Tyler, 24 Nov 1896.  They had no children.   Ernest T. was my gg uncle and the brother of my gr. grandmother, Mae Allen.  Poor Uncle Ernie, the only boy with five younger sisters.  In an earlier post, I had a photograph of the entire Allen family with spouses and children circa 1910.  The problem was that Ernest T. and his wife Nora had their faces scratched out.  I had no other identified photos of him or his wife, Nora Tyler.  I imagined every unidentified young man in my boxes of photos could be him.  I analyzed each photo trying to narrow them down to the appropriate age and time period, then scoured the faces in each one looking for a family resemblance.  I asked every relative I knew if they had a photo of him to no avail.

There was one such unidentified photo of a handsome young man  taken at a studio in Muscatine, Iowa in the collection of my dear cousin Mary Margaret.The young man in the photo had blue eyes like James Allen, and I knew that Ernest T. had been the street commissioner in Muscatine for many years.  I even thought he looked like James B. So, hoping to find someone to identify him, a year ago I sent the photo and wrote to my cousin who is also named Margel (but goes by Jill) and she responded:

Obituary of Ernest T. Allen

I remember Uncle Ernie, but he was old, small man, and DaDa Mae took Jeanne and I down to visit him. He lived in Muscatine Iowa. He always had a small veg garden in the yard and the mosquitoes were bothering him. He took a bandana and sprayed it with some bug killer and tied it on his head, and when he took it off, his hair fell out too...I don't know how true that was but that is what us kids were told. That very well could be him. I forget what his wife's name was, but after she died, Uncle Ernie was going to go live in a MOOSE HOME in Florida. I don't know if that ever happened.

Love, Jill
 His obituary at left must have been in a Muscatine newspaper.  Without a photo, I was still hopeful that my unidentified young man from Muscatine was him.  Truth be told, I was totally convinced, but something nagged at me. I wanted to be sure. . .   
Through I tried to make connections with descendants of the Allen sisters hoping to share information to give the family personality. When I found Susan, the granddaughter of Augusta Allen, I was thrilled.  It was because of Susan that I met cousin John on my last whirlwind trip to Clinton . . . and she thought she had a picture of Ernest T.  Would she please email me a copy??  Well, she didn't really have a scanner, but she would be glad to send me a copy.  Several days later a brown oversize envelope arrived, and out fluttered copies of family photographs.  The one identified as Ernest T. is so pale and soft with foxing that he feels a little like a ghost still, but, I have to admit, he does look like his sisters.  As you know, when you solve one mystery, you create another.  So. . .  why he was in Peoria where this photo was taken?  Now that I have a photo of Ernest T,  who is the blue eyed guy in the photo above with the conservative version of a handle bar mustache?  The clothing and mustache appear to be turn of the century? Since Ernest T. was born in 1872 and worked in Muscatine, it seemed like a good fit, and he still looks like James B. to me . . .