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, May 26, 2015

#59--John Bayard Hannah-Captain in the 54th Illinois Regiment



Memorial Day was Monday so it seems appropriate to write about an ancestor who served in the military.  I have written about my great grandfather, John Wesley Hannah and his service in the Civil War (Blogs # 38 -41) and John M. Hannah (Blog #4), my great, great grandfather who also fought in the Civil War.  In a letter to my Aunt Tim Hannah Parke, her cousin, Phillip Emsinger Hannah wrote that there were “three John Hannah’s that fought in the Civil War. “Old John”, my great great grandfather, Little John, or my great grandfather, and Big John, who was John Bayard Hannah.  So I thought I would blog about John Bayard Hannah and his service in the Civil War.  That would complete the trio.  My great grandfather and John Bayard’s father were brothers so that means that John Bayard Hannah is one of my cousins.

John Bayard Hannah was born in Brown County Ohio in August 9, 1829 to Henry Hannah and Catherine Beard.  Sometime before 1840, the family moved to Helt, Indiana, where his father farmed. In 1857 John Bayard married Elizabeth Frances Lawrence.
Regimental Flag of the 54th Illinois
According to the 1860 census, John and Elizabeth had two sons:  Bayard Lee, born 1829 and Phillip Emsinger, born in 1860.  John Bayard was now living in Paris, Edgar County, Illinois and was a lawyer.  The census lists his real estate as worth $4,000 and his personal property as $1400.  In 1861 his third son, Henry was born, while in 1877, John Gray Lawrence, the fourth son, was born.

Monument at Vicksburg for the 54th Illinois
When the Civil War started, John Bayard enlisted in the 54th Regiment Infantry on February 12, 1862 as Captain of Company F and mustered out on February 17, 1865.  The 54th served in western Tennessee until 1863.  The 54th then moved to Mississippi where they were involved in the siege of Vicksburg.  They next moved to Arkansas where they were involved in the capture of Little Rock on September 10, 1863.  The 54 Infantry
remained in various locations in Arkansas until the end of the war,

According to his obituary, John Bayard Hannah was a charter member of Paris Lodge 268, A. F. & A. M., served as a Justice of the Peace, and was active in his church.  John Bayard died on April 3, 1913 and was buried in the cemetery in Paris.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

#58--Harlan Turner--The Gun Fight in the Goose Saloon


The theme this week is about someone in your family who is a Black Sheep, a person who is a troublemaker and outcast in their family.    Well practically everyone in my family seems to be very, very well behaved, so I did not have many individuals to pick from.  After looking over a couple of likely prospects, I decided that I would blog about my great aunt’s husband, Harlan Turner.   I did not know much about him, except that he married my Aunt Gert Hannah in Butler, Missouri on April 4, 1890.   Then they divorced 9 years later.

Harlan was born Morgan County, Kentucky on February 27, 1857 to James and Elizabeth (Trimble) Turner. The 1860 and 1870 census describe him as living at home with his parents in Kentucky.  In 1880 Harlan is living in Valley, Linn, Kansas.  He is described as a farmer and a partner in the farm. When he arrived in Butler, Missouri is a mystery to me.  However, I got more information about him from the Butler newspaper.

Imagine my surprise to read that he was involved in a gun fight in a saloon  in Butler. Compared to
the size of most of the articles in the paper, this was a much longer article so I suspect it was a big story in Butler.  As I read the article, this is what seems to have happened.  Harlan Turner and his friend, J. W. McVeigh had spent most of the day from noon to early evening drinking in the Goose Saloon.  About 7 o’clock they began to hit each other over the head and in the face with their hats.  To avoid further trouble, the bartender closed the bar, and Turner and McVeight left, and went their separate ways.

Later in the evening they both returned and their gun fight ensured.  The bartender, Robert Plummer,
described the incident as follows:


Harlan Turner was tried in Circuit Court in Butler .  A variety of witness testified as
to what they had seen and Turner testified indicating that he shot McVeigh in self-defense. After describing an verbal interaction with McVeigh, Turner said the following:


After defense rested, the jury began its deliberations about 8 o'clock in the evening and returned a verdict of not guilty 15 minutes later.  




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

#57--Emily Cochrane--A Will and A Way



Last week’s theme was Where There’s a Will…, this week’s theme is “There’s a Way.  For this week, I decided to put them together and blog about how a will showed me the way to find out where my great, great aunts and uncles lived.

My great, great grandfather and great, great grandmother, William and Emma (Merrett) Cochrane had five children:  Mary Jane (1836-1920), my grandmother, George A Cochrane (1838 – 1931) Emily Cochrane (1840 – 1911), Walter Cochrane (1843 – 1891)   Emma Cochrane (1846 – 1931), Evalina (Blanche) Cochrane (1853 – 1920).  Mary Jane married Abiathar Richards, Emma married Chester Jay Mallary, and Evaline (Blanche)  married Herbert Jewell.  I knew they had grown up in Brooklyn New York and were I was able to find them in some of the census, but in others they just seemed to disappear or to be in places that did not make much sense to me.

Add Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn
Then, on Family Search I discovered that wills from Kings County, New York had been digitized.  I was able to find my great great- aunt Emily Cochrane’s will.  As I read her will,
I learned that when William Cochrane died in testate, her siblings agreed that Aunt Emily should receive the house at 124
Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn, to either live in or sell.  However, upon her death, the house should be sold and the proceeds split equally between her siblings or their heirs.

If she had sold the house because she needed the money to live on, the remaining funds would be split.  According to a petition filed with the court by her sister, Blanche Jewell, Aunt Emily died at the house on Fort Greene Place and the value of her estate was not greater than $2,400.  Now that was interesting to me as I did not know much of the history of that house, but what was much more interesting was the listing of all her siblings or their descendants and their addresses.

The two individuals that had been most puzzling to me were Emma and her husband Chester Mallory and George A. Cochrane.  I was pretty sure that they were not in Brooklyn, even though the Mallorys were buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.  The will supplied the answer.  The Mallorys had moved to Illinois and were living in Chicago with two daughters, Katherine and Florence. George A. Cochrane was living in Woburn, Massachusetts with his wife, Ella Brinkerhoff Cochrane and their three children:  Grace, Charles and Ella.  Once I had their locations, I was able to locate a variety of other information for them, such as the census, death records, etc.

So you see, when you have a will, there may be a way to get more information.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

#56 Williams--Indiana Fletcher Williams and why I have 20,000 Sisters

I have 20,000 sisters, all because of a will.  So for this week, when we are blogging about wills, I thought I would write about that will and why I have an incredible number of sisters.  So here is the story. 

Sweet Briar House
It all started over 200 years ago when Elijah Fletcher was born in Ludlow Vermont on July 28, 1789, to Jesse and Lucy (Keyes) Fletcher.  In 1810 he moved to Virginia—actually he rode his horse and that took several months-- and became the president of the New Glasgow Academy, a boys’ school located near Lynchburg.  In April of 1813, he married Maria Antoinette Crawford.  Elijah and Maria had four children:  Sidney (1821-1898), Lucian (1824-1895), Indiana (1828-1900), and
Elizabeth (1831-1890).  After their marriage Elijah left the Academy and turned to selling land and farming.  He moved his family from
the city of Lynchburg to a plantation about 12 miles away, a plantation, which he named Sweet Briar, after his wife’s favorite rose. 


Upon his death in 1858, Elijah deeded Sweet Briar to his daughter, Indiana.  On a trip to New York City, Indiana met James Henry Williams, a student at Union Theological Seminary.  They married in 1865 and lived at Sweet Briar, where James Henry managed the plantation.  Their first and only child, Maria Georgiana "Daisy" was born in 1867.  The 1870 census describes James Henry Williams as a farmer with land valued at $30,000 and personal property valued at $35,000.  The 1880 census describes James Henry as a minister and a farmer, Indiana as keeping house, and Daisy as in school.  1884 at the age of 16, Daisy died of a lung ailment.  The Williams wanted to leave a permanent memorial to Daisy.  James Henry Williams died in 1880, leaving his entire estate to his wife.  In his will James Henry suggested that a school might be a good memorial for his daughter.  Indiana Fletcher Williams died in 1900.  Her will specified that her estate and the lands of the Sweet Briar plantation be used for a school for the education of young women.  A year later the Board of Directors
established the Sweet Briar Institute.  1906 saw the opening of Sweet Briar College, which granted the first degrees in 1906.  Since then about 20,000 women have attended Sweet Briar College.  We are all sisters, joined together by our education, our traditions, our living together, and our love of our alma mater. 

So when on March 3, 2015, the current Board of Directors decided that Sweet Briar College should close at the end of August, due to financial problems.  The sisters were first saddened, and then angry.  Now when you educate women to question, to stand up for what they believe in, to take a position, and to believe that they can do anything they choose to do, it should be no surprise that within several days, an organization called Saving SweetBriar was formed, Facebook pages were set up, a pledge and donation system put in place, a law firm
and a public relations firm hired.  So far over 1.1 million dollars have been raised and another 11 million pledged. Lawsuits were filed.  Those who oppose the closing are encouraged by injunctions handed down by the Circuit Court judge; one forbidding the Board of Directors to spend any solicited funds on closing and the other requiring that the College not sell any of its assets for six months. 

Time will tell what will happen to Sweet Briar, but I am betting on the fact that I and my sisters will indeed Save Sweet Briar.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

#55--Hannah Family Lore--Fact or Fiction?




I have a couple of letters that were written in the 1920’s to my Aunt Tim about the Hannah family. In part, they contain genealogies, but they also contain recollections about people and events.  I have always wondered how accurate some of those recollections were.  Now that I have a good deal of information, I decided to “fact check” the letters against what else I have.  One of the letters is from Phillip Emsinger Hannah.  He was born in 1860 in Edgar County and aside from a short time in Oklahoma, lived there his entire life.  Consequently, he should have some knowledge of the Hannah family.

He talks about remembering my Aunt Tim’s grandfather, John M. Hannah and added that he died at his daughter, Albertine’s, house.  I found it very interesting that Albertine as a single woman in 1860 owned her own house.  I would love to know where it was.  He also mentions that there were three John Hannah’s from Edgar County that fought in the Civil War—John M. Hannah, John Wesley Hannah (Aunt Tim’s father), and John Bayard Hannah, a cousin to John Wesley.  He is indeed correct about that—John M. served a couple of months with the 72 Illinois Infantry, John Wesley with the 62 Illinois and John Bayard with the 54th Illinois.  I knew about the first two, but not John Bayard.

           Phillip then writes about where people are buried.  He is correct that John M. Hannah, Albertine Hannah and Kate Hannah O’Hair are buried in the cemetery in Paris.  I have been to that grave site. He goes on to say that her grandmother (Charity Mears Hannah), Aunt Sarah Hannah Mitchell and Aunt Jane Riley are all buried in county burying grounds.  This is a little puzzling. Charity Mears
Grave of Charity Mears
Hannah is buried in the McKee or Hill McKee Cemetery in Chrisman, Edgar County.  I have not been there, but there is a picture of Charity Mears Hannah’s grave online.  It is located in a very overgrown, rural area.  I suspect at some point it was part of some one’s farm.  It is indeed possible that both Sarah and Jane are also buried there and the stones are not readable.  Also puzzling is the identity of Jane Riley—there is a Rebecca Jane Riley, and Elizabeth Hannah Riley, her mother.  I am not sure but I think he meant Elizabeth Riley, as Rebecca married a man named Thompson.  He also writes that his grandmother Hannah (Nancy McKee) married Jacob Jones, moved to Illinois and is buried somewhere he cannot locate.  That is partly correct.  Nancy McKee Hannah did indeed move to Illinois, but she moved with her son, John M. Hannah, then, she met Jacob Jones and married him. Her grave is located in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Edgar County, and describes her as the wife of first John M. Hannah and then Jacob Jones.

     He also mentions that the Hannah family was from Ireland and ran a linen bleaching green.  He then adds that his half-brother, Sam Hannah, visited them, but did not get much information about the family.  That is so frustrating, but does provide some clues to explore.  He adds, what I consider a nice “story” that James Hannah in Ireland came from a wealthy family, fell in love with one of the maids, which enraged his parents.  So he sold himself for passage to Philadelphia.
All in all, most of what he told my Aunt was correct.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

#54--Living a Long Life--Maria Huelster Eitlbach

This week’s theme is living a long life.  People in my family tend to live a long time so I had a number of ancestors to pick from.  Plenty of my ancestors lived into their seventies or eighties so I began to look for people who lived longer than that.  So I want you to meet Maria Huelster, my great grandmother, my Oma.

Schmallenberg, Germany
 Oma was born in Schmallenberg, Germany in February of 1865, one of four children of Johann and Maria Franciska Monig. In 1885, she married Louis Eitelbach.  They lived in Hagen, Germany until 1896 when they, along with their four youngest children—Walter, Louis, Maxmillian and William—came to the United States.  They settled in Brooklyn, New York at 1287 Greene Street.  After their arrival, Maria had two more children—Harry and Frank.  I often wonder how she managed six boys.  I do know one thing--My mother told me that when they were small, on Sundays, before they went to church, she would dress each one and sit him on the sofa with directions not to move until they were all ready and dressed. Then, they would go to church.  Maria’s husband, Louis, died in 1927 and after that she lived on her own.  In fact, she lived alone in her apartment until very shortly before she died.

Maria Huelster Eitelbach "Oma"
I do have some memories of Oma.  This is how I remember she looked.   I also remember that we  would go to visit her several times a year.  I do not remember much about those visits as I was rather young.  I do recall that she liked to speak German with my parents.  Her English was perfectly fine, but since both my parents had studied German in school, I think it was fun for all of them.  Oma also would come to visit us.  Here is a picture of her holding me when I was about two years old.
Oma and me
Every Christmas Oma would come and spent Christmas Eve with us.  We always sang Christmas carols that night and Oma would sing Silent Night and O Tannenbaum in German for us.


Oma died on November 3, 1958.  She was survived by her four sons—Walter, Louis, Harry and Frank as well as 13 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.  If my research is correct (and I believe it is), anyone in the United States who has the last name of Eitelbach is a descendent of Maria Huelster and Louis Eitelbach.  So if you are an Eitelbach, please contact me.  I would love to meet you.

Monday, April 13, 2015

#53 Eitelbach--So Many Ways to Spell it Wrong




I love my mother dearly, but her paternal and maternal lines have led me a merry chase because they were spelled (or misspelled) in a number of different ways.   I have written before of the difficulties I had researching the Minarcik’s, my mother’s maternal line as the last name was spelled a couple of different ways---( See #6  How Do You Spell That Name?   Joseph Munarzik).  That problem pales in comparison to the trouble I have had with her paternal line—Eitelbach.

My greatgrandfather, Louis Eitelbach came to New York from Germany in 1896.  So naturally I looked for him and his family in the census records.  Louis along with his six sons and wife appear with no problem in the 1900 census on Greene Avenue in Brooklyn.  His son, Walter, my grandfather married Regina Minarcik in 1908 so I looked for them in the 1910 census.   When I searched on Ancestry, they did not appear.  So I needed to get a little more creative.  When I tried searching using Walter with a birth date of 1886 in Germany and a wife named Regina, up came the Citelbachs on Ridgewood Avenue, in Brooklyn.  I used the same technique on the 1920 census when Eitelbach did not work.  This time they were listed as Latelbath on 86th Street, in Woodhave, Queens.  The 1930 census was close enough to come up in a routine search as Eitelback at the same address as 1920.  My search for them in the 1940 census did find them.  I knew they were at the same address in 1940 so this time I searched for the family that lived next door as I knew that they had been neighbors for a long time.  This time they were listed as the Estelbachs.  Interestingly, in each of the New York 1915 and 1925 census, the name is spelled correctly.

Since the Eitelbachs were from Germany, I thought it would be interesting to see how the name was spelled in the baptismal records there.  Using Family Search, I found the following variations—Eidelbach, Eydelbach, Eitelbeck, Eitelback, and Eytelbach.  Those were not variations from different parts of Germany, but from Koblenz, where they originally lived.

I would really like to ask my grandfather or grandmother if they spelled the name for the census takers.  I also would like to know how much difficulty they had with other people misspelling their last name.