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.

Monday, September 19, 2016

#92--Richards, Hannah, Cochrane, Eitelbach and Minarcik--Where Are You Really From?




A while ago, I decided that I would have Ancestry.com analyze my DNA.  I ordered the kit, spit my saliva into the tube and anxiously awaiting for the results.  Like a watched pot that did not boil, it seemed to take forever.  Then, one day I got an e-mail that something had happened and they were not able to do the analysis.  I was so disappointed.  Fortunately, they sent me another kit—this one was free and I began to wait again. 

I knew there were two parts of the analysis:  one that focuses on your ethnic background and the other that connects your DNA to people who have also submitted their DNA to ancestry. Because I have been working on various lines in my family for over ten years and can go many centuries back, I was pretty sure that I knew my ethnic background. Had you asked me, I would have told you I was English, Irish, and German with maybe a little Czechoslovakian.  I was much more interested in learning who I was related to, and hoped that some of those connections would break down a couple of my brick walls. 

So one day, while I was not thinking about it, an e-mail arrived announcing that my DNA results were available.  I was delighted.  When I looked at the ethnic results, I felt a little bit like the man in
the Ancestry commercial who thought he was German and always wore his Lederhosen, but found he was Scotch Irish and now wears a kilt.  Some of my results were not at all what I expected and others made sense.  My DNA tested as:  Scandinavia-- 33%; Ireland--32%; Western Europe--16%; Iberian Peninsula--12%; Great Britain--4% and Italy/Greece--3%.

I could easily connect some of my lines to these locations.  My Hannah line has strong roots in Ireland so that made sense.  The Eitelbacks and Minarciks came from Germany and some of long ago relatives lived in Normady, France.  That accounted for Western Europe.  Scandinavian?  Actually, when I thought about it and read some of the information that Ancestry supplies, it made great sense.  In the Middle Ages the Danes invaded the eastern portion of British Isles and after the invasion, they stayed.  My Richards line and most of its collateral lines comes from that part of England.   The Iberian Pennisula connection baffled me.  However, I learned that in about 5,000 B.C there was a migration of individuals from what is now northern Spain to Ireland and that there was a second migration in the 4,000 B.C. era from Germany.    The named location does not always correspond to what I thought it should be and that is true for the Italy/Greece connection.  When I looked on the map and read the accompanying information, the location also included parts of Spain and France. 


If you are wondering about how successful I was in connecting to other people, stay tuned.  In the meantime, like the man in the Ancestry commercial I am considering whether I should give up my Christmas Wassail Bowl and begin serving Danish Glogg.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

#92 --The Wendels and the Minarciks ---Living on the Lower East Side in KleinDeutschland


Willett Street 



On June 27, 1854 my great grandparents, Joseph and Regina (Wendel) Minarzick (now spelled Minarcik) , and their two children, and my great, great grandparents, John and Katherine (Kolh) Wendel and four of their children arrive in New York City on the ship William Tell.  As did most German immigrants, they lived in the tenements on the lower East Side, which was also known as Kleindeutschland (Little Germany).   Germans coming to New York clustered together in a 400 block area of Manhattan from Division Street up to 14th street and from the Bowery to Avenue D.  From what I have read, they brought much of their German culture with them.  There were beergartens and saloons, German language newspapers, social clubs, shooting clubs, singing societies, banks, libraries, theaters, etc.  So when I was in New York with the New English Historical and Genealogical Society, I was excited to be able to visit the Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street and learn what life might have been like for them.

The Tenement Museum has several tours.  We took the one that focused on the German saloon run by John and Caroline Schneider.  The saloon was in the front of the house on the first floor and the Schneiders lived behind it.  I thought it was particularly interesting that in 1880 there were 346
Tenement Museum
saloons in Kleindeutschland and wondered which ones my ancestors went to.   I was surprised at the number of places to drink, but learned it was not that the Germans drank that much, but rather that the apartments in the tenements were so small that having company over was very difficult.  So people met their friends in the bars and saloons.

In the early 1850’s, well-to-do individuals who owned homes in the area were moving north.  Their homes were then subdivided into apartments.  In some cases additional floors were added to the original house so that these houses, known as tenements, would be four or five stores high.  The typical tenement house was 100 feet long and 25 feet wide.  Tenements originally had no gas for heating or any lighting; the only light came from the windows in the front and back of the building.  However, in 1901 city regulations required electric lighting in the hallways.  The bathroom and water were located out back behind the tenement.  Typically, each floor contained 4 apartments with each apartment consisting of a kitchen, parlor, and bedroom.  However, there were larger apartments available
Floor Plan of Tenement
to those with more income.

Given that information, I wondered where they lived in New York.  The 1860 census provided some basic information:  both families lived in the 17th Ward, 5th Division.  In fact, they are listed on the same census page.  The Wendels were in Dwelling Number 22 along with four other families.  The Minarciks were in Dwelling Number 23, with four other families.  Given the Dwelling Numbers, I assume that the houses were next door to each other; if not they were certainly close.  In 1870 they were still in the 17th Ward, but in the 22 District.  The Minarciks were in Dwelling Number 177 with 6 families.  The Wendels—Just John and his daughter, Elizabeth-- in in Dwelling Number 194 with 12 families.  One family moved, but I do not know which one.  Prior to the 1880 census, Joseph Minarcik and his wife died.  That left Charles, their oldest son as the head of the family, living with his four brothers and sisters and in the same house as the Wendels—both at 67 Willett Street, New York.  When I tried to find Willett Street on a map of New York City, I discovered that the street no longer existed, but had been replaced by the Samuel Gompers Housing project.  That project is north
1869 Map with Willett on the far left
of Delancy Street on Pitt Street.  So at least I know the general area.  With a little more digging on line, I found an 1869 map of the area with Willett Street and all the houses on Willett on it.

So I knew where they were in 1880, but where were they in 1860 and 1870?  I knew that they were in the 17th Ward.  Fortunately, I found both families in several city directories.  In 1857, the Minarciks were at 174 3rd Avenue, which is between 16 and 17th Streets and in 1872, 177 2nd Avenue, between 11 and 12 street.  I could not find them in any of the years between.  From 1868 until 1877, the Wendels were at 194 Third Avenue between 17th and 18th Street.  So they lived rather close to each other.  When I looked at those addresses on line, the buildings had all been replaced with more modern ones.

I would like to ask the Wendels and the Minarciks about their life in the Lower East Side Kleindeutschland.  How did they pick their apartments?  What were their neighbors like?  Why did they move?  How much was the rent?  How did they manage in the cold of winter and the heat of summer?  What did they do for entertainment?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

#91--The Eitelbachs at Ellis Island

Ellis Island


When I was in New York City in May, we visited Ellis Island.  There are several different tours.  We took the one the focused on the experience of being an immigrant coming to New York.  I was particularly interested in doing that one because my great grandparents, Louis and Marie (Huelster) Eitelbach came through Ellis Island on May 1895 with four of their children, Walter, Louis, Maximillian and John.  That visit inspired me to further research their experience.

When I thought of them coming to American, I always thought their arrival.  So I decided that my research need to begin with their leaving Germany.  If they followed the typical pattern of immigrants, Louis Eitelbach contracted with a local steamship agent, who made the arrangements for their immigration.  That would have included transportation to the port, a hotel room while waiting for the ship to sail, if necessary, and passage on the steamship.  Many Germans left through Bremerhaven or Cuxhaven (Hamburg).  However, that was not true for the Eitelbachs.  They sailed from Antwerp,
on the Red Star line ship, the Rhylander.  Why Antwerp?  It was the port that was closest to Barmen, where they lived.  Before they were able to board the ship, they would have had to pass a medical examination and answer a series of questions.  That process insured that they were fit to enter the United States.  If the immigration authorities at Ellis Island denied anyone entrance, the steamship company had to take them back to Europe at the steamship company’s expense.

In the family that keeps sentimental things, I have my grandfather’s ticket locked in my safety deposit box. I cannot find when they departed, but I know from the passenger list that they arrived on May 23, 1895.  According to the Red Star Line’s webpage, the voyage took from 7 to 10 days, depending on the weather.  Looking at the passenger list, I learned that they came third class or steerage, their quarters were in the stern of the ship and they brought 5 pieces of luggage with them.  I also saw that Louis described himself as a locksmith.

Passenger List

Once the ship arrived in New York, the Eitelbachs would have been taken by ferry to Ellis Island. The ferry was divided into sections and the letter they were given, told them which section to stand in.  Once at Ellis Island, they would have been directed to the main building.  Right inside the door was the baggage room, where they would have had to have left their five bags.  They, then, proceeded up the stairs to the Registration Room, also known as the Great Hall.  The Hall was divided into lines by railings.  Given the size of the room—200 feet long and 102 feet wide—and the very large number of people in it, all speaking different languages, the noise may have been overwhelming, especially for the two youngest boys, Max and John.

In the Great Hall, the Eitelbachs would have been quickly been examined by a doctor to determine if they were healthy enough to enter the United States.  Had the doctor had any suspicions that they
Great Hall
were not, they would have been sent for a more in-depth exam.

Next was the legal inspection.  A registration clerk, who had the ship’s manifest in front of him, would ask the same questions of each person e.g. name, age, occupation, destination, amount of money, the name of a friend or relative, etc. that they were asked when leaving Antwerp,  That was to determine if any answers were different.   I am pretty sure my great grandfather and great grandmother each answered the questions.  I do not know whether or not the children were questioned.  Since they entered the United States, I can assume that their answers were satisfactory. Once cleared, they would have gone back downstairs, claimed their baggage and probably met by a relative.  I do not believe that Louis Eitelbach had any relatives in New York.  However, Maria’s two brothers, Frank and Joseph, had both emigrated in 1893 and well could have been there to meet them.

I regret that I never talked with my grandfather about his coming to the United States.  I would love to know why they came, what the trip was like, what was their experience in going through Ellis Island, and who met them.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

#90--Gertrude Richards Would Like a Few More Autographs

Lots of folks liked the drawing and the couple of poems that were in last week’s blog about my grandmother’s autograph book.  So for this week, I thought I would post a couple of more pages from that book.

I believe that most of the young women who signed this book were her classmates at Packer Collegiate Institute.  When I read the curriculum for the school at that time, the catalog stated that there were classes in line drawing.  Evidently some girls were really good at that as witnessed by this two pictures that were drawn.




I liked the girl standing by the fence, but I think the fan with the instruction to “Keep Cool” was really quite clever.












Several of the little poems provided advice for life.














This last one confused me so I googled it and found that it is very similar to a quotation from Mark Twain.  

And of course, there is always one which is just amusing.




I would so love to know more about who these girls were and how they knew my grandmother.  Classmate?  Neighbor?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

#89--Gertrude Richards Would Like Your Autograph





When I was cleaning out my parents’ house, in a drawer wrapped in cloth and tied with pink ribbon, I found three old books—one of those books was Gertrude Richards, my grandmother’s, autograph book from the 1880’s. After looking though the book, I decided that I need to do a little research on autograph books in general.  I found that they were common in the 1700’s in Europe among students to collect signatures and information about their friends and teachers.  Autograph books were introduced in the United States in the 1800's by immigrants and became particularly popular during and after the Civil War. The owners of the book gave them to their friends, relatives and schoolmates, who in turn might only sign their name, write a poem, or draw a picture.


I went back then and looked more closely at Granny’s book.  The first thing I discovered was that it was given to her by her Aunt Emily for Christmas in 1884.  I also found that the contents of the book were pretty typical of what I had read about.  There were several pages of drawing—a girl by a fence, a fan with the message to stay cool, and this my favorite—a dog and cat.  You can see that it was drawn in 1885 by Florence Marvin.




There were also pages that came with pictures already on them.  Granny’s cousin, Walter, signed this one.  By the way, he was the only male to sign the autograph book.
















I am not sure that Agnes Nightingale picked this page because of the bird on it or not, but I thought it was a rather appropriate choice.


There were many poems—which in my research I discovered were available from books, magazines, etc.  Here are two.




Other people just signed their names with the date.

As I looked through the pages, I found two pages signed by women who I knew.  They were my Granny's friends her entire life.  In fact, I can remember visiting both of them, when I was a little girl. Lillie wrote a very brief poem,  



while her sister, Floyd, signed one of the pages with a picture on it.



While I never really thought about autograph books as a source of information for genealogy, this one definitely was.  First, I found that Granny's friends and family called her Gertie.  There were several pages where the person not only signed her name and the date, but also the place.  From that information, I was able to begin to pinpoint when Granny went to Packer. It was also possible to learn relationships.  Katherine Mallory indicated she was her "devoted cousin" and the giver of the book was Gertrude Richards's aunt,  Emily Cochrane.  I also was pleased to be able to see their handwriting and signatures.  

Of course, I would have a lot of questions for Granny.  Starting with who were all these girls, how did she know them, what did they do together and did she also sign their autograph books?  I think I might also ask her why Walter Cochrane was the only boy who signed.  Was that because she was going to an all girls school?  Was it just not something you asked boys to do?  

If you are wondering what happened to autograph books, they were replaced by school yearbooks. Remember signing the yearbooks of your friends?  I do.  That reminds me, maybe I should get them out and read what my friends and teachers wrote.  




Tuesday, July 12, 2016

#88--Eva Cochrane Goes to School in the 1860's




A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about my grandmother, Gertrude Richards, and her experiences as a student at Packer Collegiate Institute in the late 1880’s.  When I finished reading the catalogs that covered her years at Packer, I had a little more time left at the Brooklyn Historic Society.  My cousin, Mary, had told me that she thought that one of Granny Hannah’s aunt may also have gone to Packer.  Packer officially opened in 1854, after the Brooklyn Female Academy was destroyed in a fire. From looking at her aunts in my tree, I thought that  Evalina Blanche Cochrane would be the most likely one.  She was born in 1853, probably in Rochester, New York.  By 1855 her father, William Cochrane, had moved his family to Brooklyn, New York.  So it was entirely possible that my great Aunt Eva was a student at Packer.

To try and find her, I used the same technique that I used to find my grandmother.  Fortunately, those early catalog listed all the students as well as the teachers and Board of Trustees.  So I was able to look at each catalog to see if she was listed as a student.  I was so excited to find her in the 1864, 1865, and 1866 catalogs.  As luck would have it, I ran out of time so I am not sure how long Aunt Eva remained at Packer. 

The catalogs provided a very complete description of the school and the education that the students received.  The structure was simpler than it was in the 1890’s when Gertrude Richards was there. .The school was divided into three departments:  Collegiate, Academic, and Preparatory.  At that time, there was no Primary Department.  The Academic Department was further split into three divisions:  first, second, and third, while the Collegiate Department had two:  Junior and Senior.  The students were not listed by department except in 1886, when Eva was in the Preparatory Department.  However, given her age of about 10 to 12, my best guess is that for all the years that I could locate Eva she was in the Preparatory Department.  So I decided to look more closely at what the Preparatory Department was like.  The catalog described that department like this:



To me, the curriculum looked pretty much what you would expect for what we now would call an elementary school child—reading, spelling, arithmetic, history, etc.   I was interested in their listing the books that were used so I decided to see if I could find them on the internet.  I was able to find all of them and they were fascinating.  Cornell’sPrimary Geography and Cornell’s Intermediate Geography, turned out to be the first two of a series of three geography books.  If you look at them, you will see that they are arranged primarily into a question and answer format and also indicates what the teacher could or should say.   Stoddard’s Mental Arithmetic has some suggestions for teachers.  I was really surprised to read that questions should be asked promiscuously!  The least common definitions for that word is irregularly—which makes a lot more sense that the current more common definition.  Perhaps the most interesting was Peterson’s Familiar Science, which was written to explain science in everyday life.  If you have a minute, you may want to look at the science experiments at the end of the book—some reminded me of the science fairs of today.



I would so like to talk to Aunt Eva, and ask her about being a Packer student.  It would be nice to know how long she went there, what the building was like inside, what she thought of her studies, . what she and her friends did during their free time at school, and whether any of her sisters also went to Packer?  Since she attended school during the Civil War, I also would like to know whether or not, that affected her experiences.  



Monday, July 4, 2016

#87--Traveling with Chester Ingersol Richards


I have blogged before (#14--Mail for you--Chester Richards) about my collection of old postcards.  Some of them are over 100 years old, they have been sent to my great grandmother, grandmother, parents, and me.  Others have been purchased; before the days of digital photography, you were never knew whether or not the pictures you took would come out.  So those postcards were a backup to the photographs. 

Since it is summer and people are traveling, I thought I would blog again about some of my old postcards.  I never realized the amount of  genealogical information that you could get from a
postcard.  Not only do you know when and where the sender was and what the sender was doing, you also learn where the receiver lived and perhaps their relationship to the sender.  If you have those cards over time, you may be able to see when and where the receiver moved. 

My great uncle Chester (Chet)  Ingersol Richards was a great traveler and sender of postcards.  I have cards that he to his mother, Mary Jane Cochrane Richards, his brother, William F. Richards,his sister, Gertrude Richards Hannah and other relatives.   From city directories I knew where they lived, but the postcards gave me additional information.  For example I found that in 1905 Mary Jane Richards was visiting her daughter, Gertrude, in Auburn, because the card was sent to Gertrude’s husband’s office.  Chet and his brother, Will, were business partners.  I learned the address of that business because he always wrote his brother at their business address— 59-61 Reade Street, NYC.

Unfortunately, Chet was not a great correspondent.  All of the postcards below have pretty much the same message.  "Leave tomorrow....Much love, Chet."

This card he sent to his aunt, Emily Cochrane in March of 1908

















This one from Constantinople was sent to his sister, Gertrude Richards Hannah in 1909.



His brother, William Fisher Richards received this card from Switzerland.  Unfortunately the date is not readable.  

Now I love to travel so I would really like to have a long conversation with Uncle Chet.  I would want to know where his favorite places were, what he liked to do on his travels, what steamships he took, and what advice he would give me about traveling.  I would also be interested in his reaction to learning that now we can fly to Europe from the United States in less than 7 hours.