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, March 24, 2015

#51 William Cochrane and Andrew George Cobett Cochrane—That Wall is beginning to crumble

I never cease to be amazed that a brick or two, or maybe even three, may fall off that brick wall when you least expect it.  When I was in Washington, D. C. last month, I looked at a number of sources trying to figure out when William Cochrane and Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane with their families arrived in the United States from England.  All I knew was that in 1835 they both filed Alien Registrations in Erie County New York, indicating that they intended to become American Citizens. I
also had found a passenger list which indicated that an Andrew Cochrane arrived in Philadelphia in 1833-34.  That Andrew Cochrane was born in the correct year, but was it the right Andrew Cochrane.? Try as I might, I could find nothing for William Cochrane in terms of passenger arrivals.  That wall was still up.

The other day I was again looking at the information I had on Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane and decided to take another look at his application for a passport.  It had a lot of information on it, including that he had been naturalized.  I was hoping that the naturalization papers might be attached so I looked at the next page.  No luck.  However, I am persistent and decided to look at the pages before his application.  There I found a passport application from May of 1872 for his daughter, Emma Cochrane Kingman.  In her application she states that she was born in England on September 39, 1830 and came to the United States at two years of age.  Depending on when Andrew and his family arrived, she could have arrived in 1833.  Further, the parish record of St George’s Bloomsbury indicates that her brother Andrew Charles was born on February 8, 1832 and was baptized on February 29 of that year.

Taken together, these facts point to the conclusion that the Andrew Cochrane who arrived in Philadelphia may indeed be the Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane, brother to my great-grandfather.  Now I need to see if his naturalization records contain the date of his arrival.

If I could talk to Andrew, I certain would ask when he came to the United States and where he and his family landed.  I also would ask whether or not his brother, William, came at the same time.

Monday, March 16, 2015

#50 An Amazing Experience

I got back last week from an amazing experience.  I spent a week in Washinggon, D. C. on a week-long genealogy research tour with the New England Historic and Genealogical Society.  Imagine spending all that time with people who share your passion, understand your roadblocks, and can talk about things that most of your friends would consider very strange.  The first two days were devoted to getting to know and doing some preliminary research in the three sites:  Library of Congress, National Archives, and the Daughters of the Revolution Library.  Each one has its own rules and regulations, from what you can take in, copying fees, security screenings, cards, etc. For example,  you can take a purse into the DAR library with no size restrictions, your purse at the Library of Congress must be less than 9 by 6 inches, and you can take no purse into the archives, just a small clear plastic bag.    All that combined with finding out how to locate what you wanted was a little daunting, even though I had spent time looking at their websites and getting familiar with each one.    However, the NEHGS staff and the librarians at the sites were extremely helpful and I pretty soon had figured out how things worked.

So what did I find?  I went with some very clear questions that I wanted to try to answers and was able to answer some of them.  I confirmed that James Hannah did indeed fight in the War of 1812.  I found his muster cards on Fold3 at the National Archives.  He was a private in  the Pennsylvania Regiment commanded by Rees Hill.  I was not able to find where he lived in Cincinnati, Ohio or where he was buried.  From his pension file, I discovered that Joseph Minarcik, my great, great grandfather not only was with the 2nd Cavalry when it explored Yellowstone National Park, he was in battles against Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse!  For John Wesley Hannah, my great grandfather, I was looking for additional information about his Civil War service.  I found a number of documents that he signed.  Some were affidavits attesting that a particular soldier had indeed fought while others were rather sad, as they were the documents he signed when a soldier died.  Most exciting, however,
was to hold in my hands the letter that he wrote at the end of his tour of duty, requesting to be discharged and return home –that was much more personal and real to me.   There were questions that I was not able to answer.  Brick walls I did not knock down.  That is OK because for now I know
there is no answer, but maybe there will be in the future.

One of the best parts of the tour was the chance to interact with the NEHGS genealogists.  I learned a great deal from them.  From Rhonda McClure, I learned that you need to go beyond and look at the details in a documents and see where it leads you.  I have already used that and found that when you get a document in Ancestry.com, you need to look at the following pages as there may be more information.  Henry Huff gave me some great clues of how to get through a brick wall by looking at how others have solved similar problems, and David Dearborn taught me that there is much more information about the soldiers in the Civil War than the muster rolls and regimental histories.

My task now is to digest and organize all the information I gathered.  Stay tuned—I also gathered some information about my great grandmother’s three brothers and their service in the Civil War.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#49 Loving John Wesley Hannah

This week’s theme focuses on love and which ancestor you love to research.  So do I love to research an ancestor who was or is a great challenge, one who is easy to research, one who has an interesting story, or becomes a real person.  

After some though I decided that John Wesley Hannah was one of my favorite ancestors.  I think his life was interesting and to me, he seems to be more than a story on paper.  If you have followed this blog, you might be able to figure that out, since I have five entries about him(# 38 through 41 and #5).   I would not say he was easy to research, but I have been able to gather a good bit of information about him.  I sent for his Civil War Records from the National Archives so
I could track his military life.  I was able to follow him from Illinois, down to Tennessee, over to Arkansas, and west to Oklahoma.   I saw that during the course of the war he was promoted from a private to captain and that he end his career as the Captain and commanding officer of his company.  According to his pension file, his health deteriorated badly when he was about 58, due to illnesses that he was acquired during the war.  As an aside, his pension file was a wealth of genealogical information.  While I knew most of it, it serves as a verified source of birth information for his children and his marriage to his wife.

One day while looking for information about Butler, Missouri, I found the application that was made to place the Palace Hotel on the National Register of Historic Places.  John Wesley built the Palace Hotel in Butler Missouri.  The application for that status, tells the story of how the hotel was built and the various purposes it was used for.  I have used Google Maps street view to look at places in my genealogy.  So one day recently, I went on line and went to Butler and “drove” around the square in Butler and saw the hotel.  It was almost as good as going in person.

I just discovered that the Library of Congress has historic newspapers online, including two for Butler, Missouri.  Because Butler was a small town in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the paper contains lots of information about the people who lived there.  I cannot wait to explore it more, because it looks as though it will give me a feel for the daily life of John Wesley Hannah and his family.

 For most of the people in my genealogy, I do not know what they looked like.  However, thanks to my cousins,

Alice and Anna, I know what John Wesley looked like.  This is one of my favorite pictures of him with his two youngest daughters, “Tim” and “ Toots."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

#48--Joseph Minarcik--You Came a Long Way

The theme for this week is  far away in either time or distance.  I have written two recent blogs about ancestors in the Middle Ages so I decided on distance rather than time.  First I had to figure out which ancestors came from  the farthest away.   I have three lines from Germany so I knew it would be one of them.  The Eitelbachs were from Hagen, which is 4,042 miles away, the Huelsters from Schollenberg, which is 4,080 miles and the Minarciks were from Winnweiler, which is 4,120 miles.  So if this is a contest, the Minarciks would win. 

Map Showing Winnweiler
Joseph and Regina (Wendel) Munarzik were my emigrant ancestors. Joseph and Regina were married on September 8, 1849  in  Battenberg, , Bavaria Germany.  I do not exactly when they came, but believe that they came to New York City sometime between 1850 and 1860.  I tried unsuccessfully to find them in the Castle Gardens database, but could not do so.  I am pretty sure they are there, but I have found that their last name has been spelled in a number of way (see Blog #6—Joseph Munarzik—How Do You Spell that Name?).    I know they were there in 1860 as they appear in the United States Census in New York City, with their 5 children.   

I had never heard of Winnweiler .  A couple of internet searches and I learned that it is in the Bavarian section of Germany, specifically in Donnersbergkreis municipality, south and west of Frankfort.  The population in 2008 was about 4600.  This is a very mountainous region, but also a very rural one.

I found a couple of pictures and was impressed with the beauty of the area.

If I could talk to Joseph and Regina Wendell, I would want to know why they came to the United States, what ship they came on, what the voyage was like, whether or not they came with other people they knew, and when they came.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

#47--Gertrude Richards--That is a lot of snow!

Fort Greene Place Brooklyn--Blizzard of  '88
This week’s theme is plowing.  You can plow through the snow in winter or you can plow the land in the Spring.  My first impulse was to blog about my great, great uncle, who farmed his entire life.  Then I remembered I had this wonderful picture of the street my grandmother lived on in Brooklyn, New York during the Blizzard of '88.  I decided that I could save my great, great uncle for another time, and blog about the Blizzard of '88.  I grew up in New York City, and it seems to me, every time we had a large snowfall, it was compared to the Blizzard of 88 and the Blizzard of 88 was always much worse.  So I decided that I would find out a little more about that blizzard. 

Heading New York Times
I figured that the best place to start would be with newspapers.  I started with the New York Times for March 13, and 14, 1888.  The headline for March 14 is a pretty fair summary of what happened.  The article enlarges on the conditions of the city. 

The storm started as rain on March 12, but the temperature dropped during the night, heavy snow fell and the winds increased to 50 miles an hour.  While the measured snow fall was 21 inches, the winds created very large drifts, in some cases reaching to the second floor of houses. The city came to a halt.  Horse carriages could not run, elevated and railroad trains stopped, ferry boats sank, and communication by telephone or telegraph were impossible.   Businesses and schools remained closed.  Hotels filled with people who could not get home.  Some people walked to or from Brooklyn to Manhattan over the frozen East River, until they were stopped by the police, who feared the ice would break.  It is estimated that 200 people in New York City died during the blizzard.  While some of them frozen to death in the snow, others were killed by falling electrical wires and poles. No wonder it was called “The White Hurricane.”

I would really like to be able to talk to my grandmother about her experiences during the blizzard.  First, I would want to know who is in that picture.  Is it her and her two brothers?  Are they shoveling the snow?  If not, who did shovel it? I would also like to know whether they were trapped in the house, and, whether her father tried to go to work in Manhattan.  
Brooklyn Bridge

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


This week’s blog was to focus on  an ancestor whose birthday is closest to mine. I have two ancestors in my Richards Tree whose birthdays are a day different from mine.  I decided to blog about George Fisher Richards as I did not know anything about him.

George Fisher Richards was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, on September 7, 1842, he was youngest child of Ebenezer and Catherine (Newell) Richards.  George is the brother of my great grandfather, Abiathar Richards (See Blog #29--Abiathar Richards--Do You Have a Glass Slipper?), which means he is my great, great uncle. In the 1860 census George is living with his parents and with his aunt, Catherine Richards.  No occupation is listed for him; I would guess that he was in school.  His Civil War Draft Registration from 1863 has George as single and his occupation as butcher.  In 1865 George married Elizabeth Jane McAlister, daughter of John and Jane McAlister. George and Elizabeth had four children:  George, born in 1866; Charles R., born in 1872; John W. born in 1874; and Jennie born in 1876.
I cannot find George and his family in the 1870 census, but the Directory of Marion, Massachusetts from 1873 lists him living there working as a butcher. In 1880 according to the census he, his wife and children are listed as living with his Aunt Catherine Richards in Dedham, Massachusetts and his occupation as a butcher.  His wife’s brother, Robert McAlister and his family,  are living next door.  In 1900 George and his wife are in Marion, Massachusetts.  Their daughter is now listed as Jane, but since the birth dates are the same, I assume Jane and Jennie are the same person.  The family remained in Marion according to the 1910 census.  Living in the house are George, his wife Elizabeth, his son Charles, and his brother-in-law, Robert McAlister.  Margaret Griffin was their servant.  George’s occupation is a teaming contractor and his son,
Charles’s, occupation is a teaming.  Robert McAlister was not working.  I had some idea that a teamer had something to do with driving, but I wanted to make sure.  The Dictionary of Old Occupations let me know that it was a person who drove a team of horses.  My best bet is that Charles was working for his father.

I also found a few other facts about George Fisher Richards.  In 1872 George joined the Constellation Masonic Lodge in Dedham.  The 1910 Marion City Directory indicates that George was one of the town constables.

George Fisher Richards died on November 20, 1914. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Marion, Massachusetts.  If I were able to talk to George, I would have a couple of questions for him.  I would like to know why he moved from Dedham to Marion.  Also when he did so, why did he become a teamster and not continue as a butcher.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

#45--Cecily Neville--Strong Woman and Mother to Kings

Last week when I was blogging about King Edward III, I was reminded that one of the people in that tree who I found most interesting was Cecily Neville, the great granddaughter of King Edward III and my    great grandmother.    From what I have read about her, she indeed would fit the definition of a strong woman.  I do know much about the Middle Ages and the people that lived then, but as I read about Cecily I found that first there was not much and second some of it was contradictory

Raby Castle
Cecily was born in 1415 at Raby Castle, the youngest daughter and last child of Ralph Neville and his second wife, Joan Beaufort.  (Depending on who you read, she is either the 14th, 18th or 23 child of Ralph Neville.)  Continuing his tradition of marrying his children into powerful and wealthy families,
her father, in 1424, betrothed her to his ward, Richards Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York. Richard was the descendant of two other sons of Edward III: Lionel of Antwerp and Edmund of Langley.  Thus, he had a double claim to the throne of England.   Cecily and Richard were married by October 1429.  They had twelve children, seven of them living to adulthood.  Two of the sons became Kings of England.

During Richard’s life time, he was a major player in the War of the Roses, attempting to gain the throne of England for himself and his family.  The exact role that Cecily played is not clear to me.  However, during the time that Richard fled from the Lancastrians, Cecily went to London to plead his case to the King.   While she was not able to save Richard’s lands or secure a successful pardon, she did obtain from the King 600 pounds yearly for herself and her children.  In 1460 the right of Richard III, Duke of York to be the next king was affirmed and his lands returned.   Unfortunately, at the end of 1460, Richard died in the Battle of Wakefield.

 After his death, to ensure that her two youngest sons--George and Richard-- were safe, Cecily sent them to Burgundy, but she remained in England to protect her son, Edward’s, interests and to assist him in becoming king in 1461.  While King Edward IV ruled, she continued to be an influence.  When he was young, Cecily appeared with him at state occasions, and was left in charge of the Court, when the King toured Wales.
Arms of Cecily Neville
She was given the Queen’s quarters to live in and allowed to remain there after King Edward married Elizabeth Woodville.  At that time, it was written that she “can rule the king as she pleases.”   Her official title was “Cecily the King’s mother and late wife unto Richard rightful King of England.”

During King Edward’s reign, his brother George was involved in several plots against him.   George joined with Warwick, known as the Kingmaker, in his rebellion against George’s brother, King Edward IV and in support of Henry VI’s son, Edward, Prince of Wales. Who Cecily supported is not clear to me.  George and Warwick claimed that King Edward was not a legitimate son of Richard III and therefore was not entitled to be King.  It does not appear that Cecily took any steps to deny that allegation, which would have been evidence for her support of King Edward IV so her silence may be seen as support for George and Warwick.  When the George and Warwick failed, Cecil twice tried to broker peace between the two brothers.

King Edward IV died in  1483, naming his two sons, Richard and Edward,  as heirs to the throne.  Cecily then supported her youngest son, Richard III, and his claim to the throne by declaring that the two sons were illegitimate.  After the death of the two princes in the Tower of London, Richard became King of England on July 6, 1483.  When King Richard III died on August 22, 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, Cecily retired to her estates and lived a quiet, but pious life.  She died on May 31, 1495 and was buried with her husband at Forheringhay, Northampton.

To men, any woman who advocates for her husband with the King, who guides her son when he was King, and who involves herself in the politics of becoming the next king, is  strong woman.  If I could talk to Cecily Neville, I would ask a couple of questions.  First, how did she decide which ones of her sons to back for King?  Second, what was it like to live in Court as the mother of the king?  Cecily Neville appears in several novels about her family.  I would like to know what she thinks about that?