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.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

#119--Lucky Mary

The theme for this week is “Lucky.”  My first thought was “Did I have anyone whose nickname was Lucky.”  .But I did not.  My second thought was to find an ancestor who was in some way lucky.  I really did not find anyone who fit that category.  Then I thought about the ways I have been lucky in genealogy.  I immediately thought of one of the things that happened as I prepared for my trip to Salt Lake City at the Family History Library with the New England Historic and Genealogical Society.  Before I went, I spent a lot of time with their catalog figuring out what I wanted to look at.  There were more things that I wanted to see than I had time to do.  One of the items I wanted was the microfilm for the will boxes for Norfolk County, Massachusetts.  My Richards ancestors lived in Dedham, Norfolk County since 1634 and I was interested to see exactly what was in those boxes.  While most of the microfilms are in the library, sometimes you have to order them.  I had to do that for the will box microfilms as they were stored in at the Granite Mountain Vault.    So I filled out the form to have them available when I was there.  Several days later, I received an e-mail saying that they were now online.

I was delighted with my luck.  I had more time to devote to things that were only available to the library and could spent as much time as I wanted online at home looking at the will boxes.  So was I lucky in terms of what I could find in those will boxes?  I think so, perhaps luckier with some people than others.  Let me use Abiathar Richards, Jr., my great times 3 grandfather.  There are 38 items in his will box.  About half of them are pages with only his name and file number on them. However, others are a wealth of information.  First in the box is his will—that makes sense.  It was pretty straight forward.  He left $1 to all his children with the exception of his unmarried daughter, Catherine, who was to receive $100.  His wife, Elizabeth, was to have the use of his property and any income from it until his death or until she remarried.   His sons, Luther and Abiathar, were to split his clothing.  What surprised me was that his wife, Elizabeth, was appointed as the Executrix of his estate.  I do know think of women at that time playing that role.

I was most interested in the inventory of his estate as that gives me an idea of what the person did and was like.  Abiathar Richards was a farmer and his property reflects that.  The value of his real estate—2 ½ acres of woodland was $40 and his personal property was worth $299. There was really nothing too surprising in his property—he owned some livestock (hog and a cow) farm implements, and crops in terms of cider and winter apples, potatoes, rye, etc. I was more interested in the fact that he had two sets of fine china, 12 sets of sheets and pillowcases, blankets, and quilts  and of course, bedsteads, tables and chairs.  Too me that was a pretty well appointed house.  The expenses for the estate were pretty routine—payment of the legacies to his children, medical expenses ($6.00), taxes ($7.15), and funeral expenses ($14.50) and grave stone ($11.50).  However, the very best part of the expense report was at the bottom was Elizabeth Richards signature!

I was lucky finding that the will boxes are on line and the information in them.  I am always more interested in the lives of my ancestors than when they were born, married and died.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

#118--Charity Mears, One Strong Woman

Strong women is this week’s theme.  I have blogged before about two women that I considered to be strong (Sarah Hannah Michell and Albertine Hannah.)  So now I had to find another one.  Information about women is hard to find—most information that is written is about men.  I looked for a likely candidate and finally settled on my 4th great grandmother, Charity Mears Hannah and to a great extent she is a pretty typical woman for that time.

Charity was born on February 11, 1806 in Ohio to David and Elizabeth Mears.  She was one of eight children.  At the age of 16 in 1822 she was married to John M. Hannah by the Reverend John Rankin, a noted abolitionist. She and John lived in Brown County, Ohio, where John farmed and she ran the household.  There their first five children were born. In 1830 John and Charity along with one of her sisters, Catherine Mears Sayres and her husband, Israel, and her mother Elizabeth Mears moved from Brown County, Ohio to Edgar County Illinois.  I suspect they moved for the same reason that other pioneers went west—better land for farming and greater opportunities to be successful.  While in Illinois, Charity and John had six more children.  On April 1, 1842, when she was 36 Charity died and was buried in the McKee Cemetery Chrisman, Edgar County, Illinois, USA.

Charity was a pretty typical woman for her time.  But I think Charity Mears Hannah like all pioneer women was a strong woman.  And I think that for a couple of reasons. First, I think about the challenges of getting from Brown County, Illinois on the Ohio River to Edgar County, Illinois, which is near the Wabash River.  I have no idea how these families got from one place to the other, but I do
have two ideas.  One is that they put all their belongings on a flat boat, went down the Ohio River and then up the Wabash.  The second is that they went over land in a wagon.  To do that, they would have probably gone up to central Ohio, across the National Road, and they up to Edgar County.  If that was not difficult enough, when they arrive, they had no home, that house had to be built and built quickly.   Hopefully it was a warm and snug cabin.  In either event, taking care of your husband and five small children on such a trip would require great strength and determination.  Compare that to today, when we load all our possessions in a truck, the family in a car, and arrive at our new home.

Second, Charity ran a very large household.  That would involve keeping and cleaning the house, taking care of the children, planting and harvesting the kitchen garden, tending the chickens, making clothes, churning butter, cooking all the meals and tending the fire.  All that with probably no help except from her older girls. Remember, there were none of the modern convenience we enjoy—no central heating, refrigerator, electric or gas stove, washing and dryer, etc.  Life was hard and women like Charity needed to be strong.  I know when I lose my electricity for a day or so, I am not happy.  The food in the freezer and refrigerator goes bad, I cannot cook or even make a hot cup of coffee, and the house is either hot or cold.  Compared to women like Charity, we have very easy lives.

I would love to talk to Charity about her life.  I would like to know how they got from Ohio to Illinois, how she  raised eleven children, what her typical day was like, if she had any time to relax, and if so, what she did, and what dangers did she encounter.

Monday, March 5, 2018

#118--James Hannah--Where Did You Die?

Wills, if you can find them, are amazing documents.  Not only do they have information about relatives of the deceased, they also can contain information about what was owned, who the property was going to be left to, etc.  For years I tried to find the location of the death of and the records that would go with it for my 4th great grandfather, James Hannah. James died in 1828. I have a copy of a letter describing how the writer and his father went to get James Hannah’s wife, Nancy McKee Hannah, in Cincinnati after he died there.  They brought her back to Brown County, Ohio and there she lived until she moved to Edgar County, Illinois along with the rest of the family.

So given that information, I did what seemed sensible—I looked in Hamilton County, Ohio, the location of Cincinnati.  I looked at death records, church records, cemetery records, etc.  I had no success.  Then as luck would have it, I happened to be looking at a book, entitled Brown County Court Records, 1818-1850 by Patricia Donaldson.  I checked to see what records they might have on my Hannahs and to my surprise there was James Hannah and information about his will. The date of his death fit and the administrator, Joseph Mckee, made sense as Joseph was his son-in-law.    I was delighted and even more delighted when I was able to order his probate records from the Court in Brown County.  From reading them, I knew that I had finally found James Hannah probate information.

I learned a couple of lessons from this.  One is that no matter how convincing a memory of event is, the event may not be true.  In this case, I suspect the writer was thinking of another grandparent.  Second, when you cannot find a record, look in nearby counties.  Had I done that, I would have found those estate documents much sooner.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

#117--Shoes, Shoes, Shoes

This week’s 52Ancestors’ Challenge is heirlooms.  That works so well for me as I come from a sentimental family that passes things down from generation to generation.  One of my most unique heirlooms is a set of shoe catalogs.  My grandfather, William D. Hannah, manufactured shoes.  As far as I can tell, in the early parts of the 20th century, the way in which shoes, and other things, were advertised was through catalogs. I am very fortunate that I have some of them.

This is one of my favorites.  I really like the women in the shoe, pulled by that big butterfly.

While I am not sure when this one came out, I think it is very "Roaring Twenties,"  

 And here is a cute young woman who looks to me like she is about to dance in a show.

If I could talk to my grandfather, I would ask about who designed the catalogs, where they were sent, and why he kept these particular ones.  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

#116--I Made You A Valentine

Valentine’s Day is this week so it is very appropriate that the challenge for this week is Valentines.  For the last two years I have blogged about Valentines  so this challenge left me scratching my head. I went and looked to see what had and made a great find.

Remember when you were in elementary school, around Valentine’s day you would make Valentines from paper doilies, red hearts, etc.  I think when I was about 7, I made one for my mother.  She kept it and I found it among some of her cards.  It is pretty tattered and hard to read, but here it is.

It says:  "To My Valentine on Valentine's Day."  and of course it is signed with a question mark

If you missed my other posts about Valentines, here is the one on vintage postcards  and here is the one on cards 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

#115--What is Your Favorite Name?

The challenge for this week is about names, particularly a name of one of your ancestors that you like a lot.  I really had not thought much about that.   So  I decided that my favorite name would have to be one that I would name a daughter.

Jennie Sophia Willey Hannah
Most of the names in my tree are pretty common ones—Mary, Alice, Elizabeth, Helen, etc.  In fact when some of my family are together, if you call Mary or Alice, several people will reply.  Then, there are a few names that really stand out as unusual—Dulcina, Sentrilla, Albertine, and Indiaanna.  I am a pretty conventional person so those unusual names were out.  However, I did want one that was a little different.

After some thought, I decided on the name of my great grandmother—Jennie Sophia Willey.  I think it is a pretty name and just a little unusual.   Jennie Sophia was born in Illinois in 1847 to Samuel G. and Rebecca Ann (Witcher) Willie.  After the Civil War, she went to Butler, Missouri to visit her brother.   She and John Wesley Hannah met, married, and had 5 children.  My blog entry  Romance in Real Life tell the story of their engagement and marriage.  It is a great tale.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

#114--Were the Eitelbachs in the Census or Not?

What did you find that was interesting in the census is the theme for this week.  However,   I decided to take different tack on that and blog about who I initially could not find in the census.

The census is a wealth of information.  You can learn who lived in the house, how old people were, their occupations, etc.  For the 1930 census you can even learn if they had a radio. However, learning all that depends on being able to actually find the person or people you are looking for in the census.  It should be relatively easy these days.  Both Ancestry and Family Search have searchable indices,
which should identify people who match your search criteria.  That, of course, all depends on the person being accurately listed in the census and transcribed into the index. 

My grandparents’ last name was Eitelbach, a good German name and unfortunately for me one that can be misspelled or mistranscibed in many different ways.  As I began to gather together census information for them, I found my grandfather, Walter, living with his parents in the 1900 census.  He married in 1908 so he and his wife should have been in the 1910 census.  No such luck—no Walter or Regina Eitelbach.  With a little creativity  I found them—Walter and Regina Citelbach, victims of handwriting extending into the line above.  It did not get any better in the 1920 census.  Now they were the Latelbaths.  In the 1930 census, the name was spelled correctly, and made my life easy.  By 1940, they were the Bitebachs

When I could not find them, what did I do?  I changed my search criteria.  I used first names only, years born, where I thought they lived, etc.  For the 1940 census, I knew who lived next door so I
search for that family. 

If I could talk to them, I would be interested to hear how much difficulty the spelling of their name caused them.  Was it generally a problem or just in the census?