Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

#163--Ususual Name--Meet Marinda

not Marinda Hannah as a child

I looked though the names of my ancestors and wanted to find that was unusual , but one that I thought was pretty.  One I would use if I were naming a daughter.  I finally settled on Marinda, the name of my great aunt, Martina Park Hannah.

I did a little research to find out about the name Marinda.  It is of Latin orgin, and means admirable or beautiful.  Some though it was a variant or Mary or Miranda.  It is not a popular name, ranking number 16329 in popularity.

Ironically, it seems that either Marinda or her sister Cora were found of their names, because they always used nicknames:  Marinda was Toots, and Cora was Tim.

not Inside Doerner School commencement card
not Marinda Hannah portraitMarinda Park Hannah was born on June 17, 1880, in Butler, Missouri.  Her parents were John Wesley and Jennie Sophia (Willey) Hannah. Marinda had one brother, William, and three sisters: Anne, Gertrude, and Cora.  Her mother died on July 23, 1887 and her father on March 10, 1898.  Marinda attended local schools in Butler, received a certificate from Doerner Piano School and graduated from Vassar College.  Shortly before her father’s death, the Hannah family moved to Auburn New York, where William Hannah and his brother in law Charles Ross, husband to Anne Hannah, were in the shoe business.

Marinda Hannah in profile
She married Edward Harrison DeArmond, a West Point Graduate, in Auburn, New York, on December 4, 1901. The DeArmonds had four children:  James Keller, Catherine, David, and Anne.  As a military family the DeArmonds lived in a number of different locations:   Fort Sill, Oklahoma; the Island of Jolo; Hawaii; Governors Island and Manil, P.I.. Her husband Edward Harrison passed away on October 21, 1948, in Kings, New York, while Marinda died on January 1, 1953.

Thanks to my cousin Anna for the pictures of Marinda which she found in a scarpbook,

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

#162--Cluster Analysis--My New Challenge

Challenges are all around us.  Rather than blog about an ancestor who faced a challenge, I decided to write about a genealogy challenge that I am working on.  As I worked on my genealogy, I noticed that I had a group of ancestors that seemed to have lot of ties to each other.  They sold each other land, married brothers and sisters, and moved to similar locations.  For want of a better name, I call them the Tribe.  Then learned about a doing a cluster analysis of a group of ancestors, and decided that that is what I would do with my tribe. 

The idea of a cluster analysis is that people do not live in isolation.  They often lived near relatives, friends and neighbor.  They were involved in each other’s lives.  Anyone can be included in a cluster, but it typically involves siblings, extended family, and those living close by.  Thus, your research is expanded in the hope that you will learn more about your direct ancestors. 

So to do this, I first needed to define my cluster or tribe.  The main tribe is the sons and daughters of David and Elizabeth Mears and the sons and daughters of John M. Hannah and Charity Mears, who moved from Brown County, Ohio to Edgar County, Illinois. 

Inspecting what I have already learned, the Mears cluster would include the sons and daughters of David and Elizabeth Mears:

Mary Mears
Samuel David Mears
Elizabeth Mears
Catherine Mears
William Mears
Nancy Mears
Jane Mears
Charity Mears
Sarah Jane Mears.

This is the part of the cluster that I plan to explore first.  My first task would be to find out who each one of these individuals married.    Just dealing with this group should keep me busy for quite a while.  I want to know about their children, where they lived, who they sold land to, etc. as well as what I can learn from census data. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

#161--First--Aunt Gert Goes to College

The theme this week is first.  Who was your first ancestor to do something? One of Amy Johnson Crow’s suggestions was go to college.  Now I worked at a University for a number of years so I found that kind of an interesting suggestion.  But I wanted to give it a twist.  Not who was the first ancestor to go to college, but who was the first female ancestor to go to college. 

However, before I figured that out, I wanted to learn a little bit more about women and education.  In the colonial period, it was believed that women needed only to learn to read so that they would be able to read the bible.  They were taught in small dame schools or at home.  By the middle of the 1800’s some people believed that to be good mothers and wives women needed to receive an education equal to men while others believed that such an education would make them unable to fulfill their traditional role.  By the 1830’s some women were attending seminaries, academies, and normal schools, where the curriculum was similar to that of men’s colleges.  After the Civil War in the Midwest, colleges under pressure from parents began to admit women. 

Gertrude Hannah
I am pretty sure that my first female ancestor to attend college was Gertrude Hannah, my great aunt.  Aunt Gert was born on March 27, 1868, in Butler, Missouri.  Her parents were John Wesley and Jennie Sophia (Willey) Hannah.  Aunt Gert was the oldest of six children.  I do not know where Aunt Gert went to elementary or high school.  However, I do know that there was both a public high school and a private high school, Butler Academy. Since her brother William attended a private high school, I am assuming, and I may be very wrong, that Aunt Gert attended Butler Academy.

I remembered searching the Butler newspapers for information about Aunt Gert and seeing a note or two about Aunt Gert coming home from school to visit her parents.  I retrieved both the articles, neither one indicated what school, but one was clear that the school was in Clinton, Missouri.  An internet search indicated that only one college was in Clinton, Baird College.  So Aunt Gert went to Baird College. 
Baird College

A quick search of the web gave me a little information about Baird College, but not much.  Baird College was founded by Priscilla and Homer T. Baird in Clinton, Missiouri and opened in September 29th, 1885,  The college was located in a four story building. Two years after it opened, the college had 300 students, 100 of them were borders and the rest were day students.  The College operated until 1897.

A Picturesque City, Clinton Missouri had the following two pages devoted to Baird College:

As I read the information, I was struck by the fact that it described the buildings, the furnishings, the water on every floor, the grounds, etc, but no where was I able to find out what the curriculum was 

If I could talk to Aunt Gert, I would ask her what years she was at Baird, what classes she took, did she get a degree, did she play sports, etc.  

Thursday, December 27, 2018


It is almost 2019—a new year.  Time to make some genealogy resolutions. 

My first resolution is to complete all 52 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge with my blog.  I did it this year so I think I can do it again.  However, I think this year will stretch me some as I have blogged about most of the ancestors that I know well.

Second, I want to complete a cluster analysis of my Hannah-Mears ancestors.  I want to trace their movements from Brown County, Ohio to Edgar Country Illinois.  Then figure out where they went from there and who stayed in Edgar County.  I would also like to be able to plot their movements on a map.

Last, I would like to complete six on-line webinars. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

#159--Nice--Christmas Decorations from the Past

The theme for this week is “nice.”  How perfect for the week before Christmas.  I decided that I would blog about some of the Christmas items that I have inherited.  Remember, this family does not discard much that has sentimental value and Christmas items do indeed have a lot of sentimental value.

Let me start with a couple of Christmas postcards that were sent to my father.

I also inherited ornaments that hung on my mother’s tree.

 Little Old Santa
A bell that actually rings


And my father’s tree -- A holder for a candle, not something I am going to try putting a candle in.

When I was very young my mother bought this Santa in a sleigh.  Santa even comes with a music box which plays Silent Night.  He is somewhat the worse for wear but I love him, just the same.  It has been in the center of the dining room table for as long as my parents were alive, and now it spends Christmas on a table.  When I walk by it, I often wind up the music box and listen to Silent Night.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

#158--Naught Incident at the Palace Hotel

.Palace Hotel

My great grandfather, John Wesley Hannah (1838—1899) ran the Palace Hotel in Butler, Missouri.  I discovered that Chronicling American, a Library of Congress web site, had the newspapers for Butler.  When I searched for the Palace Hotel, I got lots of information.  The paper wrote about the parties that took place there, the renovation to the hotel, and the comings and goings of various guests.  It also reported on an event that I would classify as “naughty,” which is this week’s theme.

It appears in 1886 the town decided to hire two night watchmen—Wesley Jones and Decatur Smith.  Why they thought they needed them is not clear to me.  According to the reporter, shortly before February 3, 1886 Smith came to John Wesley Hannah and told him that a gang of thieves was coming
to Butler to rob Bernhard’s jewelry store.  To catch the thieves, Smith said that they need to book room 17 on the third floor of the Hotel so that they would be able to see the robbers arrive.  Hannah told Smith they he could have the room and that he would do what he could to help them.  Hannah told the Newspaper reporter that Jones and Smith had the room for six nights and were joined by Captain Davidson and a man by the name of Welsh. 
Then Smith told John Hannah that the burglars were going to wait to rob the jewelry store until the weather was warmer and would not need the room now.  Smith paid Hannah 50 cents per night for a total of $2.00

About a week later Smith told Hannah that they needed the room again because they got word the robbers were coming.  Hannah gave them room 17 again for 4 days.  Hannah said that he became suspicious of what was going on when he went to bed about midnight because there was a lot of noise coming from room 17.  He decided to investigate the next morning.   Before he was able to, the maid came down to tell him that there was a lot of blood in the room and in the wash bowl.  John Hannah got the Town Marshall and together they went to the room.  After looking it over, they concluded that one of the men had hit his nose on the chair below the transom while standing on it and looking out it down the hall.  When confronted, Smith told Hannah, that they were not looking for burglars but were spying for Captain Davidson on one of the lady guests to ensure her virtue and chastity!  Smith paid John Wesley Hannah for the room, but not for the $5.00 cleaning fee.

When interviewed Captain Davidson denied any knowledge of what had happened.  According to the reporter when “Captain Hannah tackled him (Davidson) about fooling him, he cried like a baby.”

I would love to know more about this, but there was nothing more in the paper.  I would like to know what the night watchmen were supposed to be doing, and why no one realized they were not doing it.  Were any of the other guests suspicious or have anything to say about the incident?  I was also impressed that the paper said they were  not going identify the woman who was being spied on, but I would like to know what she thought

Saturday, December 8, 2018

#157--Let It Snow, Let it Snow More

Everyone who has lived in New York City has heard of the Blizzard of ’88, the epic snowfall that pretty much paralyzed the city.  In fact I blogged about it several months ago.  However, most people do not know or have never heard about the Blizzard of 1947.  I was a small child then so I do not really remember that storm, but have heard about it from my parents.  Wanting to know more, I googled Blizzard of 1947 and discovered that Baruch College NYC data has a very comprehensive summary:

Similar to the Great Blizzard of 1888, the blizzard of 1947 was an unexpected visitor, ready to wreak havoc on the post-holiday calm that had settled over NYC. The weather bureau predicted cloudiness and cold winds throughout the day, but little mention was made of snow accumulation. On December 26, 1947, snowflakes began their descent unexpectedly and within the next 24 hours the city was covered by 26.4 inches of white mounds, with snow falling at the rate of 3 inches per hour. Although the blizzard of 1888 had a more powerful impact, claiming up to 400 lives and destroying communication systems all across the north Atlantic States, one distinguishing factor puts the blizzard of 1947 in the ranks of the strongest snow storms to ever hit the NYC region: 

The blizzard of 1947 was fed by the moist weather traveling up from the Gulf Stream and cold weather coming from the north, but what made it different was an absence of high wind speeds and below zero temperatures that made the blizzard of 1888 so deadly. The blizzard of 1947 was known as a mesoscale storm; instead of affecting a vast area evenly, it descended on one spot with a concentrated force.
NYC's transportation systems were devastated, cars and buses were stranded in the streets and train stations faced delays of up to 12 hours. The estimated number of people killed by the storm was 77 and it was widely speculated that if temperatures were colder and wind speeds more severe this number would have been much higher. Other issues that developed during this crisis was a lack of efficient snow plows, slow police response due to inadequate staffing to manage the overwhelming activity of phone lines and difficulty with delivery of crucial supplies to people and local businesses. Although the exact figure is unknown, the damage caused by this storm is estimated at several millions of dollars.”

 I also found a great old news video.  Just click.on the arrow.


Since it was just after Christmas, my aunt, uncle, little cousin and grandmother were staying with us.  As my mother told the story on the 27 of December when it stopped snowing, we had run out of milk, something that you need if you have small children.  So my father and uncle decided that they would walk in the street down to a dairy they knew about and get milk.  They bundled up and off they went.  A little while later they returned, not only with milk, but also with ice cream, I believe the flavors were pistachio and chocolate.  

If I could talk to my parents, I would like to know where they bought the milk and ice cream; how far away it was, and how hard it was to walk in all that snow.