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, April 24, 2018

#125--Visiting Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn

Green-Wood Cemetery

When I was growing up, we lived near Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.  That was in the era when families went for a car ride after Sunday dinner.  We often did that, and one of the places we visited was Green-Wood Cemetery, which was very close to where we lived.  Green-Wood was one of the first “rural” cemeteries, built in the mid 1800’s.  As a rural cemetery, it was constructed with lots of winding roads, trees, bushes, and several lakes.

Richards Lot
Cochrane Lot
We always visited out family plots.  First, we would go to the Hannah plot where my grand-parents were buried.  Often we would then go to the Richards lot.  My father always said you found it by driving down the outer drive of the cemetery, and stopping at the tomb of the vaudeville player with the banjo, parking the car and walking down the path to the right.  The Cochrane lot was on the other side of the road in a very quiet spot.    I think one of the reason I became interested in genealogy was because I was curious to know more about the people who were buried in those lots.

Two years ago I had the opportunity to take a tour of Green-Wood, which showed me aspects of the cemetery that I did not know about.  On one of the highest points in the cemetery, we saw the Altar of Liberty.  Here there is the Goddess Minerva, with her arm raised, facing the Statue of Liberty as if saluting her.

Slightly down the Hill is the monument to those who fought in the Civil War.  The monument is 35 feet high.  There are plaques on all four sides, which contain inscriptions.  Most impressive to me are the four life-sized statues of represent the four branches of the military:  infantry, cavalry, artillery and engineers.


As we drove through the cemetery we saw a number of mausoleums.  Some of them contain the remains of people you may know—like Charlies Feltman, the inventor of the hot dog or Henry Steinway, the piano manufacturer. Many of these mausoleums have stained glass windows, statues, and furniture in them.  One even has heat!

We also saw the graves of famous people like Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Leonard Bernstein to name a few.

I was particularly struck by the beauty of the statues that adorn various graves.  The ones that appeal to me the most of those of angels.  Here are three of my favorites.

Angel of Grief

Angel of the Resurrection

Our Boy

Should you ever be in New York City, I would highly recommend a visit to Green-Wood Cemetery.  They have regularly scheduled tours--you will learn a great deal about the cemetery, but also enjoy a beautiful setting.

Monday, April 23, 2018

#124--Revisiting the Blizzard of 88

This week’s theme is storms.  Two years ago, I blogged about the Blizzard of 1888 in New York City.  So I decided to go back this week and re-visit that blizzard.  For that blog, I used the New York Times as my source for information.  
As I wrote then, “The storm started as rain on March 12, 1888, 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 total halt; 200 people died during the blizzard, either my freezing to death or being killed by falling objects and electric wires.   

Since my great grandfather, Abiathar Richards and his family, lived in Brooklyn, I wanted to look at that blizzard from the perspective of Brooklyn.  The Brooklyn Daily Eagle wrote about the blizzard on both March 13 and 14.  Obviously, the paper focused much more on what happened in Brooklyn and how its residents were affected. 

First, the river froze, which prevented the ferries from running between Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.  

To further complicate things, the Brooklyn Bridge was so deep in snow that it became impassible.  Consequently, many Brooklyn residents, who commuted to Manhattan in the morning of March 13,  were stuck in Manhattan and unable to get home. 

Second, there was so much snow that people could not walk down the sidewalks or use their carriages on the streets.  The newspaper urged people to shovel their sidewalks themselves or hire men to do so. 

I have this photograph of Fort Greene Place where the Richards's lived and been impressed with the amount of snow on that street.  
Third, the paper wrote about how many things which are delivered, e.g. milk, coal, etc. were stopped by the storm.  However, I was amused  to see that the paper was very clear that even if not delivered, the paper was written and printed.

I would really like to be able to talk to my grandfather about his experiences during the blizzard.  First, I would want to know who is in that picture.  Is it his daughter, Gertrude and his two sons, Chester and Bill? 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 Abiathar tried to go to work in Manhattan. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

#123--Taxing James Hannah

Pretty soon, it will be time to pay your taxes.  What an appropriate theme for this week’s challenge.  Several weeks ago I discovered that Family Search had the tax records on line for Brown County, Ohio.  Taxes were paid on land that was owned.  The records are accessed through the catalog.  While they are not indexed, the tax records are organized for each year alphabetically.

My 4th great grandfather, James Hannah lived in Brown County so I was anxious to see what I could find.  The records indicate not only what the person paid, but also the water course the land was on, and who the original owner of the land was.  With the exception of 1825, I was able to find him in the records from 1820 to 1827, the year before he died.  From 1820 to 1824, he lived on land originally owned by John Graham.  The taxes for 1820 through 1823 were $1.10, but in 1824, they were $2.40.  While the writing is not too clear, it looks like he lived on Bull Stream on the Ohio River.  Unfortunately, I cannot find Bull Stream on any map.

In 1826 and 1827, he lived on land that originally belonged to Callohill Minnis on Three Mile Stream.  The taxes for the first year were $.13 and $.33 for the second year.  An additional piece of information was that he owned 15 acres.  I do not know why his taxes for 1825 were missing.  I looked for his name several times as well as the names of John Graham and Calllohill Minnis.  My only thought was that he had sold his land on the Ohio and had not yet bought the land on Three Mile.

I wish I could ask him where that land was exactly and why there were no taxes for one year.  It also looks like I have a little more work to do, specifically looking at land sales for 1825 and finding out what happened to his land after his death.  Also finding a map of the original owners of that land would be helpful..

Monday, April 2, 2018

#122--Albertine Hannah--Not Your Typical Maiden Aunt

Albertine Hannah Head Ston

Maiden aunts, spinsters—often not used as a complimentary term.  When I think of a maiden aunt, I think of a little old lady, who stays homes, keeps house, and takes care of her other relatives.  In some ways that may describe my great great aunt, Albertine Hannah and in other ways it does not.

Obtaining information on single women is usually a challenge so I do not know a great deal about Albertine.  Some of what I know about, Albertine, comes from census date.  I know she was born in 1834 in Edgar County Illinois, near where Chrisman is today, was the seventh child of John M. and Charity (Mears) Hannah, and lived on her father’s farm.  Her mother died in 1842 when Albertine was 8 years old.  In 1850 she was living with her father, her three brothers, and two sisters.  In 1860 Albertine was living with her father, and her niece, Charity Conrey, the daughter of her deceased sister, Nancy.  When the Civil War began, both her father and her brother, John Wesley, enlisted.  Her father fought for about three months, and then returned home, due to illness.  He died in 1865.  So far, Albertine looks like a pretty typical maiden aunt—living with her father, taking care of her niece, etc.

Hannah Farm Land
However, in other ways she was unique.  When I think about land sales in that period of time, I think of men selling land to other men.  That was not true for Albertine.  Over a period of 11 years, Albertine bought land five times all in Ross Township.. On March 11, 1851 for $1.00 her father sold Albertine 80 acres of land in Ross Township.  In addition, by a mortgage on December 14, 1861 her father also sold Albertine an undescribed piece of land for $106.   In February of 1861, for $700 Albertine bought land from James R. Watson and a year later, for $1000 land Bushwood Herrick sold her more land.  In addition, in February 1861 Albertine sold land to James Watson.  That land was also in Ross Township.

Hannah Plot
I was able to obtain Albertine’s will.  Most notable is her request that her real estate be sold and that $1200 of the proceeds be used to purchase a lot in the cemetery in Paris Illinois and to erect a monument for her father, mother, sister, Mary Sayres, and herself.  The remainder of the money from her real estate and her personal property was to be divided between her brothers and sisters as well as her niece, Charity Conrey.  Albertine died in 1867.  Her wishes were carried out.  There is indeed a Hannah plot in the cemetery in Paris, Illinois.  There is a large obelisk with her father’s name on the bottom, and headstones for Albertine, her sister Mary, and her sister Catherine Hannah O’Hair.  For reasons that I do not know, the headstone for her mother is in the McKee cemetery.

I would love to be able to have a conversation with Albertine.   I would like to know why she remained single.  Did she, like many women of that time, have a man she loved who was killed in the Civil War?  Also during the Civil War, who ran the farm while her father was at war?  Did she?  Did her brother, George, or her brothers-in-law help out?