Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Thomas Walker

T. B. Walker
Co. D
8th Kansas Inf. 

Thomas Barrett Walker, Company D, Eighth Kansas Infantry died of measles at Iowa Point while waiting for the expected invasion from their southern border to begin.  He was born in Ohio in 1844 the oldest son of Isaac Walker and Winifred Barrett Walker. As a young boy he lived in Illinois and Iowa before he settled with his family on a farm in eastern Kansas on the banks of the Vermillion River. He was from a staunchly abolitionist family with a Quaker heritage Together, he and his father, enlisted in Company D, 8th Kansas Infantry in September 1861.  He died in December of the same year.  The brief story of his death at Iowa Point, Kansas was told in my post, "Isaac Walker Enlists in the Eighth Kansas Infantry".  He was originally buried in the cemetery in Barrett, Kansas named for his uncle A.G. Barrett, but was later moved to Frankfort where the rest of his family now rests.  Thomas is my g-g uncle, the brother of David Barrett Walker.

Thanks to Marc Trueb for the above gravestone photo.  If you have any connections to or knowledge of Company D, 8th Kansas Infantry, Marc would be interested in your stories.  Please contact me.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Family Historian vs. Genealogist

The Owen McDonnell Family
In a recent post by Susan of Nolichucky Roots, reacting to several blog posts she had read relating to facts, evidence and assertions, she stated, ". . . I am not a genealogist, but a family historian and a historian by training."

Hmmm. . . . that caused me to question and examine my own stand on this issue.  My answer is that. . . I don't know. I guess it might depend on which day and what hour you ask me.  I have used the words interchangeably in past blog posts, but Susan is right, there is a difference.  Like Susan, I am passionate about "the stories" as are many others.  I also search endlessly for documentation to disprove or validate a family legend.  Do I own a copy of "Evidence Explained"? - No.  Would I like to? - Yes.  Would I use it? - That's a tough one to answer.  Does being a professional (as in being paid to research, give presentations, or opinions) mean you are a Genealogist with a capital G?  Does restricting your research to your personal family history make you a family historian?  Not always. Does being a family historian mean you don't document/verify your findings? . . . of course not! 

I find it all fascinating. And the documentation, birth certificates, land records, muster out rolls, wills, marriage bonds, and obituaries are the skeleton for the photos, newspaper articles, letters, and local histories which put flesh on the bones.  I don't see how I could have one without the other . . . wasn't there a song like that?  I have known people who proudly tell you how many ancestors they have in their tree and the earliest date of their lineage. Rattling off a list of dates and famous ancestors seems to be what makes them happy. Others will tell you of the latest scandal they discovered in their family, the story of how their family immigrated to the United States, settled the West or lost loved ones in a war.  They speak about long dead ancestors as if they just had Sunday dinner with them last week and expect a letter any day now.  Guess who I want to sit by at the next genealogy convention?

I can't tell you how many ancestors are in my tree because I don't count, and I would have to be organized to know.  I haven't seriously traced back much farther than the mid 1850's unless you count that jaunt I made to Chipping Warden last summer.  I adore newspaper articles and photos because they make a name into a person.  But I build my family on the documentation even if the commas are not all in the right place or even completely missing.  Does this mean I am not a genealogist?  I hope not. Philosophically I line up with Susan,  but maybe we differ in how we view the terms. 

How do you define the difference between a family historian and a genealogist?  Do you perceive a difference?

Do I have to choose?  Can't I be both?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Medical Monday . . . Nursing school in Iowa ca. 1920

I so often skip around in topics that I thought before I leave this topic, I should share a few more photos with you.   This one had no identification and was a loose photograph just stuck in between the pages.  My grandmother, Berenice Moldt is on the far left. The black and white photos don't show off her red hair and freckles!  Again, I have two photographs taken at the same time that have slight differences?  Was this one the final or the first?
My grandmother liked this one best since it is the one she fastened in her album.  That would be in line with her sense of humor and other photos she has taken.
"Just practising on Joe!!!"
          Left: "Two in One"                                              Right: "Dressed but not acting like doctors"
"Dr. Lynch and us"

"Leah- remember Dr. Crowley has a wife at home"

The unanswered question:  Is this Mercy Hospital in Des Moines or in Clinton?  Do the habits of the nun give any clues? I believe the Dr. Crowley mentioned is Dr. Daniel Crowley  from another photo that refers to him as Daniel.

I have intentionally left out the photos with captions such as, "A rose between two thorns" and "Four of a kind! Two pair of boobs".  There were several of photos with the doctors or the male staff members, but the none with them and the nuns.  Very interesting . . .

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Martha - On and Off Duty

I love the photo album I have from my grandmother.  It is one of my most cherished possessions.  It is very fragile, and the faded white ink in her handwriting will disappear in another generation.  No matter how gently I tried to be, no matter how carefully I opened the pages and laid them on the scanner bed, I knew I was stressing the album pages.  I grimaced the whole time I did it, and I know some torn pages may be torn a bit more despite my gentle touch, but to not do it would see this wonderful legacy fade away. 

Most of the photos are from her years at Mount St. Clare in Clinton where she boarded and attended high school as well as many photos of her years after high school in their nursing program.  I am still trying to sort out the exact  timeline for the nursing program with extensive research from Mary, my Clinton angel. The 1920 census shows my grandmother, Berenice (rhymes with furnace) Moldt, living in Des Moines as a student in the nursing school but her album constantly refers to Mount St. Clare.  The album dates from 1918 -1920. 

On the page shown above she identifies "Martha - On and Off Duty". The formality of these two photos are in contrast to the rest of the album which shows that my grandmother would have embraced the quirkiness of many current Facebook photos. So who is Martha?  Does she have descendants who would love to see here as a young nursing student?  Martha is quite the fashionista of her day but with a demureness that was considered desirable.  Her off duty coat is fabulous and must have cost more than a few dollars. I tried to match the name Martha with the 1920 census and lo and behold there is only one Martha . . . Martha Smith.  Rats!  Why couldn't it be something more unique? She is listed directly above my grandmother.  I can tell from the census that she was born in Iowa as were both of her parents.  That isn't much help. 

I hope to identify as many individuals as I can from my grandmother's album. Can you help?  Do you know Martha or any of her descendants?  Look for more photos from my grandmother's album in future posts.

 As I said, I love the old photos.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


On the tennis courts at Mount St. Clare - Clinton, Iowa

Most of us will admit to getting sidetracked now and again in our research.  We start reading one blog and then click on a link to another blog or website, then another, and another.  Finally, we rub our eyes, roll our neck and glance at the clock at the bottom of the computer screen - which must have been invisible up to this point. What! . . . four two hours have gone by. This scenario is familiar to all of us, but maybe your weakness is different - newspapers perhaps?

I, however, REALLY get sidetracked on occasion.  I get sidetracked researching individuals I have no relationship with.  I love all of the collateral information I find about my ancestors.  The stories seduce me and pull me along like a sled pulled by a car swinging from side to side.

The first time this happened was after my post on Emma Paulson. She was a lady that my g-g-grandmother helped, and I really wanted to find out what happened to her . . . and I still do.  I spent over two a week at the time, and as well as a few random searches since then, but with absolutely nothing to show. It seems she vanished.  It was this lack of any clues that soon pushed me back on track.

Recently, I have been sidetracked again.  It started with my Clinton Angel, Mary, who has acquired more research on my family in Clinton than I have . . . and she is not a relative!  I mentioned in an email, that I hoped to find a document confirming where my grandmother went to high school, and to find a record of her best friend, Margel Bridget - last name unknown.  The 1920 federal census lists my grandmother, Berenice F. Moldt, in nursing school in Des Moines, but there was no Margel on the list. This meant Margel had to be a friend from her high school years  at Mount St. Clare in Clinton rather than a nursing school friend.  I have always assumed grandma went to Mount St. Clare because she talked about it, but, up to this point, had no documentation.

 TA DA!  In comes Mary to the rescue.  The following is from the Clinton Herald June 1, 1918. I won't give you the translation - also done by Mary - because most of it is extreme detail about the celebration events. 

And there they were! On page two listed under the class roll of graduates taking the academic coursewas my grandmother, Berenice Moldt, listed right next to Margel B. Wells.  It was interesting that this combination graduation and end of the year celebration was a multi-day event.  Another familiar name on the list of graduates was Gertrude Gilshannon, my grandmother's cousin, but since Gertrude's name didn't show up in any of her photos, I assume that they ran in different circles.

So now that I had a last name I decided to search in earnest.  I must let you know that earlier I was stunned  amazed by the large number of ladies named Margel that I found when I  searched on Ancestry.com with just a first name. I don't recommend that as a research method, but in desperation we often try for that one in a million shot.  After this, my name doesn't seem quite as unique as I thought.

So, now that I knew Margel's last name, I wanted to know what happened to her?  Might she have descendants who would be interested in how I ended up with her name?  Might they have photos or stories about my grandmother?  So many possibilities.

I didn't have much luck on Ancestry.com but had a hit right away on Family Search.

 Here is the cropped record of Margel's marriage to James F. Mosher, a tool designer, 24 May 1919 in Detroit.

The 1920 census shows them renting in Jackson, Michigan. Margel is not employed but James is a purchasing agent for an automobile factory.

Then they disappear. . . .

There have been a few possibilities that I found.  A 1930 census shows a James F. Mosher as a 38 yr. old roomer, working as a mechanical engineer in a power machinery factory in Mishawaka, IN.  He is identified as single, and as a veteran of a WW.  Everything fits but where is Margel?  Did they divorce?  Did she die?  As I searched for James, using a variety of combinations on Ancestry and Family Search another marriage showed up.  I double checked the parent names, and it was the same James F.  Eight years before he married Margel, at age nineteen, he married Mildred Cudney, age sixteen.  I went back and looked more closely at his marriage record to Margel. Yup, there it is - married once before.  So what happened to her? James had now shed two wives before he was thirty. My searches expanded, but I realized I was straying too far when I began to enter Mildred's parent's names in the search boxes.  I had to get a grip.  Before I gave up, I located a Mildred Cudney from Jackson, Michigan who was the correct age marrying a John P. McCarthy in Missouri.  That's a relief . . .  for a fleeting moment, my imagination had James as a double wife murderer who got away.

Did Margel divorce James also and go on to marry again or did she die sometime between 1920-1930?  More investigation is needed, but my search for Margel is on hold for a while. While my ancestors are calling me to come back, I will continue to search for Margel . . . just not right away. I need a little space.  I do believe that the Mishawaka James is likely Margel's husband and happily, Mishawaka is only 15 minutes from my home.  Searching through the city directories should produce more information.  Did Margel have any siblings?  I need to find her family in a census and have not yet.  That is another search for the future. This is the only identified photo I have of Margel from my grandmother's photo album, but I think she looks quite a bit like the tennis player in the center of the group above.  What do you think?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday . . .Notice Anything Unusual?

From left: My brothers, Flip & Dahl.  The babe with the poor posture and great glasses is me.
Really, I promise that I will get back to genealogy soon, but first I had to share this family photo from my past.  It was also in the cardboard box with my communion photo.
I couldn't stop laughing.