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.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

#80 Chronicling John Wesley Hannah Part II

Last week I blogged about how I searched the newspapers in Chronicling America and the information I found about the Palace Hotel and John Wesley Hannah.  However, as I noted there were 86 other articles in the Butler Missouri papers about John Wesley Hannah, which did not involve the hotel.  As I read them, I learned that he was much more than a hotel owner and manager.

John Wesley Hannah with daughters
The Palace Hotel was not his only building.  He also owned the building on the north east corner of the town square.  I believe that is the building he used for the mercantile store that he ran when he first moved to Butler.  According to an article on March 7, 1888, the building was destroyed by fire; however, John Wesley Hannah had it insured for $1000 and that covered the cost of the loss.  In addition, in November of 1891 he in partnership with J. J. McKissick bought the new building on the south side of the town square.

In the late 1880’s John Wesley was involved in the politics of Butler and Bates County.  In 1888 he was nominated by the Republican Party to run for representative for the 12th election district.  He lost that election to a Mr. Stone.  However, he was not through with politics.  In 1889 in a local convention called by four of the leading citizens of Butler, he was nominated for mayor.  He seemed to be a somewhat reluctant candidate as he said he would accept the nomination only if the others, e.g. aldermen, also accepted their nominations.  Since two of the men declined to run, it appears that John Wesley did not run either.  It also seems that John Wesley traveled for political reasons.  In August of 1888 he travel to New York to welcome James G, Blaine home (Blaine was a candidate for president as far as I can tell.) and in 1889 John Wesley traveled to Washington, D. C.

Community affairs also took up time.  Beginning in 1884 until 1887, he was the chairperson of the committee that raised the money and negotiated for a railroad to come to Butler.  It does not appear that the committee was successful. In April of 1889 he and Representative Wade settle a dispute over who would become the next postmaster in Butler.  In that same year he was elected chairperson of the Gas and Water Committee.  In 1890 he was on a committee to beautify the nearby lake and land surrounding it.

I also found more personal information about him.  I learned that he was a founding member of the Butler Masonic Lodge, was involved in a physical dispute with another gentlemen, and was quite sick in March of 1888.  However, what surprised me the most was a small article from 1886 that read as follows:  “Capt. Hannah has brought quite a herd of cattle up from his ranch in Indian Territory and will stall feed them for the markets.”  While one of the censuses describes him as a cattle rancher, I had no idea that the cattle were on a ranch that he ran in Indian Territory.

While it took me a long time to get these articles organized, it was well worth it.  I now have a much greater understand of John Wesley Hannah.  However, there is more to learn.  The newspapers also have articles about his children.  In addition, I have finally figured out how to read the articles from the Butler Bates County Record, 1868-1878 on the State Historical Society of Missouri so there is more to search.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

#79 Chronicling John Wesley Hannah in Chronicling America

When researching my ancestors, one of the things I like is to find out more about them than when they were born, married, and died.  Know how they earned a living, where they lived, if they traveled, etc. makes them come alive for me.

Last winter I was introduced to a wonderful source for adding other information.  The Library of Congress in Chronicling America has local newspapers on line.  Now if you are thinking they have newspapers from only big cities on line, you are wrong.  They focused on papers from small towns and cities all over the United States.  In fact they have 1967 papers which were published from 1836 to 1932.  As far as I can tell, they have papers from all the states with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska.

I love to read these local papers.  They give me a pictures of life in America at a simpler time.  Also they report all kinds of events that would never make it into the papers today.  I was pleased to find out that one of the papers on line was the
Butler Weekly Times and  the Butler Daily Democrat.  My great grandfather, John Wesley Hannah, moved to Butler in 1866.  Now I could search and see what the paper reported about him and his family.

There are several ways to search.  I think that the advanced search options are the best as you can narrow down the hits to those you are most interested in.  I learned that it is important to know how the paper referred to the person you are interested in.  When I tried John W. Hannah or J. W. Hannah, I got very little.  By reading what I did get, I discovered that the paper often referred to him as Capt. Hannah.  When I used that in the phrase box, I got numerous and appropriate hits.  It is also possible to combine two key words.  Because John Wesley Hannah was the proprietor of the Palace Hotel and I wanted to know more about the hotel, I put Palace Hotel into the search box and check the Butler
papers.  That gave me a very large number of hit.  When I looked, all the stores that were located on the first floor of the hotel and who advertised came up.  That was interesting, but not what I wanted. I narrow the hits down by adding Capt. Hannah.  I still got a large number of hits but they were all appropriate.

It is possible to save the entire page of the paper that has the article you are interested in or to use the snipping tool and just save the article.  The problem with the first strategy is that you will not know where on the page the article is and the problem with the second strategy is that you will not know the date of the article.  I ended up saving just the article, but putting the date into the file name.

There are 36 articles that focused on the Palace Hotel and John Wesley Hannah and 81 articles on John Wesley Hannah.  I have downloaded the articles on the Palace Hotel.  Some of them report on events that happened at the hotel.  There were parties, marriages and conventions.  Other articles described the improvements that John Wesley Hannah was making to the hotel—redecorating rooms, painting the outside of the hotel or adding a billiard table.

My next task is to read the 81 articles on John Wesley Hannah.  I know that there will be some overlap with the articles on the Palace Hotel but I expect to find out more about his life apart from the hotel.   Stay tuned.  Next week I will blog about what I found on John W. Hannah.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

#78--Organizing the Minarciks, Eitelbachs, Cochranes, and Richards

Over the years I have collected an awful lot of papers pertaining to various ancestors.  Some of them are organized into folders, others are in notebooks and still others are loose.  So my resolution for this year in terms of genealogy was to get those papers organized.

 I looked at a variety of different methods for organizing them:    How to Organize Your Files;   Organizing your Records. You can use file folders, notebooks, and numbering systems.  I decided that the notebook scheme would work best for me.  I used loose leaf notebooks to organize my courses when I taught, so this seemed comfortable for me.

Not wanting to get totally overwhelmed, I decided to begin with the lines of my grandparents—Richards, Hannah, Eitelbach and Minarcik.  So the first step was to buy four notebooks, each a different color.  That way each line is a different color and I can tell at a glance what the line is.  I also bought clear plastic page protectors, and section dividers.  Now I had no excuse.  I decided to start with the shortest line, the Minarciks,  as it would be the easiest and would give me some sense of accomplishment as well as find out if this was really going to work for me.

I began by sorting the pages into categories by person—Regina, Charles Jr., Charles Sr. and Joseph.  For each person then put the pages in order—I wanted each person’s section to begin with the basic information--a family group sheet and if it was available:  birth, marriage and death records.
 Then, I wanted to put in the census information, followed by whatever other information I had.  For example, Charles, Sr. Pension File from the Indian War would go after the census.

At the beginning of each notebook, I put a pedigree chart.  Then, for each person, beginning with the most recent one, I put each page into its page protector and then into the notebook—maroon for the Minarciks.  Each person separated by a page divider.

There is one thing missing—a list of what I have for each person.  I looked at some checklists on line, but I want to come up with my own checklist for each person that will tell me exactly what I have in terms of documentation as well as what I do not have.  There is one other loose end.  I have not decided what to do with the pictures I have of people.  They are generally of odd sizes so typical picture pages will not work and I think they could end up in a heap in the bottom of a page protector.
So what is my reaction to this method of organizing?  So far, I am pleased with it.  All the information for the Minarcik line is in one place.  I can easily find what I am looking for.  It would be easy to add additional documents.  On the negative side, it took me a good deal of time to organize a rather short line.