Monday, May 28, 2012

Good Fortune Smiles. . .I won the Genlighten drawing

This morning I enjoyed breakfast at my local Panera's with a French Toast Bagel topped with lowfat hazelnut cream cheese and a refillable mug of hazelnut coffee. I hate drinking coffee out of a disposable cup.  Please make note of the lowfat part of this description.  And the best part is that it did not cost me a dime.  Why?  It was my good luck to win a gift certificate to Panera's from Genlighten at the recent NGS conference in Cincinnati!  Can you believe this, I even had my choice of gift certificates.  While at NGS I stopped by the Genlighten booth to tell them how satisfied I had been with their service.  Somehow, I felt, a face to face conveys more feeling than a mere email.  While I was there I noticed that, like many vendors, they had a bowl for a drawing, and so I put my name in the drawing, and forgot about it until I returned home and received an email from Cynthia with the good news.

If you have never used their service, I highly recommend them.  I have blogged about a couple of experiences here, and here.  I have also used their service for a death certificate for my grandfather when I wanted the cemetery information BEFORE a trip to Chicago, a death certificate for my gg grandmother that I could not locate on the Illinois archives even though her obituary said she died in Chicago, and for a scan of an original document of a wedding record my brother wanted that was at the Salt Lake library.  I wanted it for a Christmas gift, and it was only one week before Christmas!  In every case, I was extremely satisfied, and I highly recommend them to you.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Opinions Solicited . . .please.

At the recent NGS conference in Cincinnati, I registered for a 3 hour seminar with Maureen Taylor, known as the Photo Detective.  I dearly love the old photos and hoped to sharpen my observational skills related to the many unidentified photos that have generously been shared with me.  It was a wonderful three hours, and what I now know is that I need to study more photos, and I should get the book Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion 1840-1900  by Joan Severa. I was so mad at myself because I intended to take a particular photo with me in case we had the opportunity to have one analyzed.  Instead, I transferred the wrong file to my Nook, and the photo in question was not included in the group. Rats!!

So, I have decided to post a series of photos and ask for your observations.

First, some background on the photos.  The photographs were stuck loosely in an antique photo album which was in the possession my double cousin Mary Margaret. Most of the original photos had been removed from the album, and the original name identifications were written on the photo album pages.  I have assumed that the loose pictures were the ones originally in the album.  From the names in the album, I have also assumed that the album contained photographs of the family of my, Bridget O'Callahan McDonnell who immigrated from Cobh (Queenstown), Ireland about 1854.  I have tried to match the names with the pictures without much success.  So I am turning to you. 

What do you see in the photograph below?  This photo has no identifying names on it.  Many of the photograph names in the album were relatives from the Cincinnati area. It is a tintype.
Click to see image full size
My analysis so far: 

I believe the man is disabled and a civil war veteran.  He is wearing a double breasted (I assume that by the amount of overlap at the lapels)  frock coat that I believe would have been from that time period. The collar is a darker color than the rest of the coat, but I don't know if that is important. He is sitting rather than standing, and his feet are laying on their sides as if he has no control over them therefore he is disabled.  His right arm may or may not be limp. Is that a goatee?

The fringe on the chair, I think, should make it the late 1860's. The only other background I see in the photo is the carpet, and I know nothing about carpet dating.

 Her dress is more fitted than the dresses worn before the civil war.  Is there a bustle in the back?  She has a neck scarf rather than a lace collar.  These are everyday people with clothes that reflect their position.  A big question is whether this is her husband or her son.  He looks young to me.  She looks protective.

Corrections?  Suggestions? Additions?  Your analysis please.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Family Legends Are Such Fun!

In one of my earliest blog posts, I recounted my first meeting with my wonderful double cousin Mary Margaret.  During those first couple of years I was definitely a stumbling, bumbling but enthusiastic family historian . . . ohhh hell, I still am.  I wrote about her often, and she even wrote a "guest" blog post for me. But at that first meeting she told the story of MacIan of Glencoe, a story which was told to her father by his grandfather who claimed he heard it from his father.  Luckily, I boldly asked if I could make a video of her telling the story, and she consented.  I am so glad I did.  Although our time together was short, we were definitely kindred spirits.  Sadly she passed away in February of 2011 after a struggle with ALS.  Often, I was the one struggling, she was accepting.

 I always knew I would post this someday, but it just didn't seem like the right time until now.  Now seems just perfect.

This was filmed on the spur of the moment with my camera.  Up till that time I had never heard of MacIan or Glencoe. But when I returned home even thought it was after midnight, I flew to my computer and "Googled" every conceivable spelling of both, wondering if there might be a record of an event like this.  I was shocked to learn that it is an extremely well known event in Scottish history.   Go figure.

 Recently I discovered that there is a song about the massacre. As a college student in the late 60's, I fell in love with folk music, and I've never gotten over it.  I wish I could post a snippet of the song here, but, if it is possible, I don't know how.  I hope you will check out Massacre at Glencoe by the Corries.

Will you share your family legend, and if there is a song, I'll sing along!

I invite you to meet Mary Margaret in other posts about or by my wonderful double cousin,  found here, here, here, and here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

At The End of the Trail

My search for the original Margel has now come to a conclusion.  I first mentioned Margel as a collateral person in my search for my aunt in A Tale of Two Margels, but my interest in her only simmered until I read the newspaper account of the graduation events at Mount St. Clare school in May of 1918. There listed right next to my grandmother, Berenice Moldt, was her best friend, Margel B. Wells. Knowing her surname fanned my interest again until . . . I reached another roadblock.  In "Sidetracked" I documented my efforts and asked, "Where do I go from here?"

While I haven't blogged about it, behind the scenes the search continued . . . my last record of Margel B. Wells had her living in Jackson, Michigan with her husband James Mosher. Did she die? Divorce? Certainly she disappeared.

 I called the local historical society in Jackson to see if they had any records for her death, but no luck. A search for  Margel Mosher on Ancestry and Family Search had nothing beyond the 1920 census.   And . . . if she divorced and remarried, how would I ever find out her married name? It felt like a brick wall.

Once again, Mary,a  researcher extraordinaire, took up the cause.  She not only looked for Margel in her local Clinton county records, but researched her family as well.  I found my mailbox full of information about the Tyne's and Wells, Margel's grandparents.  It turns out this was the key to locating Margel. Then on a sunny day this past Spring she drove from her home in Clinton to the library in Sterling Falls, Illinois, the home of Margel's parents.  In the genealogy department of this beautiful library with interior pillars and a geometrically shaped dome, Mary told the librarian she was searching for information on the Tyne family.  While I am condensing the information Mary sent to me, I do not want you to think it was effortless.  It was good detective instincts with hours of research for which I am very appreciative.  While all of the information about the Tyne family was interesting, the crucial piece that unraveled the mystery was the obituary of Margel's mother, Maggie Wells Havens.  It seems that Margel's mother had remarried George Havens after the death of her husband, BUT in her obituary it mentions that her daughter, Mrs. A.C. Fennell of Miami Florida would be flying in for the funeral. Aha! Margel had remarried.  Without this obit which was only available locally, I would never have found out Margel's married name, and what could have been a brick wall turned out to only be a roadblock.

My next step was to confirm that A.C. Fennell had a wife with the first name of Margel and the 1930 census confirms that.

While it confirms Margel B. was married to Alvah Fennell, a dentist, it is interesting that it also states she had a college degree and married for the first time at age 25 with her current age as 27.  Now you and I both know that her first marriage was at 19 and she wasn't a widow.  Another curious coincidence was that in the 1920 census Alvah was living in Jackson, Michigan with his parents. Regardless, I was elated that she had not died.

So what else did I learn about Margel? Let's look at the records I found. A 1941 city directory shows her living on the corner of Sunset Dr. and Kendall Rd. in South Miami.

The 1945 Florida State Census has Margel and Alvah with two daughters, Sandra Jane and Marcia (?) Ann.

Then in 1952 Margel and Alvah divorced.  There was no information, just a document listing the names of  Florida couples who had decided they could not continue life as a couple. Alvah and Margel's children were still pre-teens.

After looking for an online death record and coming up empty handed, I turned, as I often do, to the genealogy department of the local library.  In this case it was the Miami-Dade Public Library.  I sent an email inquiry, and just as promptly received a reply. In fact their index did show an obituary for Margel B. Fennell, and for a modest sum they would do the search and send me the obituary.                           
Mrs. Margel B., 68, of 4217 Anne Ct., Coconut Grove, passed away Thurs. Came here in 1918 from Sterling, Ill.  She was active in numerous charitable organizations in Dade County (especially Variety Children's Hospital) and also Blowing rock, N.C.  Survived by 2 daughters Mrs Sandra Jane McClurg and Mrs Nicholas G. Polizzi and 3 grandchildren all of Miami. Rosary services 7:30 P.M. Fri. PHILBRICK & SON CORAL GABLES FUNERAL HOME, 837 Ponce de Leon blvd., with requiem mass 9:30 A.M. Sat. Epiphany Catholic Church, Interment in Miami Memorial Park. Friends may call from 2 to 9 P.M. Fri.

While there are some questions, like her disappearing first husband, I am content with the discoveries I have found.  I remember as a child curiously asking my grandmother to tell me about her friend.  I don't remember much, but I remembered that her middle name was Bridget so when I read that her grandmother was named Bridget, I knew my memories were correct.  It was interesting that she always used her middle initial but never her middle name.

Berenice Moldt Kennelly and husband Ed Kennelly board a plane to ?
At the recent NGS conference in Cincinnati a recurring theme in many lectures was the need to investigate and reassemble the community of our ancestors, their friends, associates, and neighbors to break our brick walls.  Elizabeth Shown Mills coined the term FAN. In the same way, your research methods must be multi-pronged. My search for Margel would have remained an unfulfilled wish without Mary and the generous amount of time she put in on this search.  As it often does, a local library held the clues that were pivotal to our success. I love libraries!  Online sources are obvious.

For many years, my grandparents, went to Florida for two months during our mid-western winters. One year they even took my brother and I with them to Clearwater.  But at least one of those years they traveled to Miami.  Travel was a dress up event in the 1950's as you can tell from the photo at the right.  I don't remember the hat my grandmother is wearing in the photo, but that fur cape hung in my mother's closet long after my grandmother died. Do you suppose my grandmother knew her childhood friend, Margel, lived in Miami?  Did they visited with her?  I don't know where they are going for sure, but it seems like a fitting photo to go with this post . . . waving goodbye.

Postscript:  If you are a relative of Margel B. Wells Fennell, contact me as I have a plethora of information that I could not include here.

After post update:  It turns out that Alvah had also been married before in 1924, and his wife identifies herself as "divorced" in the 1930 census.