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, December 27, 2018


It is almost 2019—a new year.  Time to make some genealogy resolutions. 

My first resolution is to complete all 52 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge with my blog.  I did it this year so I think I can do it again.  However, I think this year will stretch me some as I have blogged about most of the ancestors that I know well.

Second, I want to complete a cluster analysis of my Hannah-Mears ancestors.  I want to trace their movements from Brown County, Ohio to Edgar Country Illinois.  Then figure out where they went from there and who stayed in Edgar County.  I would also like to be able to plot their movements on a map.

Last, I would like to complete six on-line webinars. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

#159--Nice--Christmas Decorations from the Past

The theme for this week is “nice.”  How perfect for the week before Christmas.  I decided that I would blog about some of the Christmas items that I have inherited.  Remember, this family does not discard much that has sentimental value and Christmas items do indeed have a lot of sentimental value.

Let me start with a couple of Christmas postcards that were sent to my father.

I also inherited ornaments that hung on my mother’s tree.

 Little Old Santa
A bell that actually rings


And my father’s tree -- A holder for a candle, not something I am going to try putting a candle in.

When I was very young my mother bought this Santa in a sleigh.  Santa even comes with a music box which plays Silent Night.  He is somewhat the worse for wear but I love him, just the same.  It has been in the center of the dining room table for as long as my parents were alive, and now it spends Christmas on a table.  When I walk by it, I often wind up the music box and listen to Silent Night.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

#158--Naught Incident at the Palace Hotel

.Palace Hotel

My great grandfather, John Wesley Hannah (1838—1899) ran the Palace Hotel in Butler, Missouri.  I discovered that Chronicling American, a Library of Congress web site, had the newspapers for Butler.  When I searched for the Palace Hotel, I got lots of information.  The paper wrote about the parties that took place there, the renovation to the hotel, and the comings and goings of various guests.  It also reported on an event that I would classify as “naughty,” which is this week’s theme.

It appears in 1886 the town decided to hire two night watchmen—Wesley Jones and Decatur Smith.  Why they thought they needed them is not clear to me.  According to the reporter, shortly before February 3, 1886 Smith came to John Wesley Hannah and told him that a gang of thieves was coming
to Butler to rob Bernhard’s jewelry store.  To catch the thieves, Smith said that they need to book room 17 on the third floor of the Hotel so that they would be able to see the robbers arrive.  Hannah told Smith they he could have the room and that he would do what he could to help them.  Hannah told the Newspaper reporter that Jones and Smith had the room for six nights and were joined by Captain Davidson and a man by the name of Welsh. 
Then Smith told John Hannah that the burglars were going to wait to rob the jewelry store until the weather was warmer and would not need the room now.  Smith paid Hannah 50 cents per night for a total of $2.00

About a week later Smith told Hannah that they needed the room again because they got word the robbers were coming.  Hannah gave them room 17 again for 4 days.  Hannah said that he became suspicious of what was going on when he went to bed about midnight because there was a lot of noise coming from room 17.  He decided to investigate the next morning.   Before he was able to, the maid came down to tell him that there was a lot of blood in the room and in the wash bowl.  John Hannah got the Town Marshall and together they went to the room.  After looking it over, they concluded that one of the men had hit his nose on the chair below the transom while standing on it and looking out it down the hall.  When confronted, Smith told Hannah, that they were not looking for burglars but were spying for Captain Davidson on one of the lady guests to ensure her virtue and chastity!  Smith paid John Wesley Hannah for the room, but not for the $5.00 cleaning fee.

When interviewed Captain Davidson denied any knowledge of what had happened.  According to the reporter when “Captain Hannah tackled him (Davidson) about fooling him, he cried like a baby.”

I would love to know more about this, but there was nothing more in the paper.  I would like to know what the night watchmen were supposed to be doing, and why no one realized they were not doing it.  Were any of the other guests suspicious or have anything to say about the incident?  I was also impressed that the paper said they were  not going identify the woman who was being spied on, but I would like to know what she thought

Saturday, December 8, 2018

#157--Let It Snow, Let it Snow More

Everyone who has lived in New York City has heard of the Blizzard of ’88, the epic snowfall that pretty much paralyzed the city.  In fact I blogged about it several months ago.  However, most people do not know or have never heard about the Blizzard of 1947.  I was a small child then so I do not really remember that storm, but have heard about it from my parents.  Wanting to know more, I googled Blizzard of 1947 and discovered that Baruch College NYC data has a very comprehensive summary:

Similar to the Great Blizzard of 1888, the blizzard of 1947 was an unexpected visitor, ready to wreak havoc on the post-holiday calm that had settled over NYC. The weather bureau predicted cloudiness and cold winds throughout the day, but little mention was made of snow accumulation. On December 26, 1947, snowflakes began their descent unexpectedly and within the next 24 hours the city was covered by 26.4 inches of white mounds, with snow falling at the rate of 3 inches per hour. Although the blizzard of 1888 had a more powerful impact, claiming up to 400 lives and destroying communication systems all across the north Atlantic States, one distinguishing factor puts the blizzard of 1947 in the ranks of the strongest snow storms to ever hit the NYC region: 

The blizzard of 1947 was fed by the moist weather traveling up from the Gulf Stream and cold weather coming from the north, but what made it different was an absence of high wind speeds and below zero temperatures that made the blizzard of 1888 so deadly. The blizzard of 1947 was known as a mesoscale storm; instead of affecting a vast area evenly, it descended on one spot with a concentrated force.
NYC's transportation systems were devastated, cars and buses were stranded in the streets and train stations faced delays of up to 12 hours. The estimated number of people killed by the storm was 77 and it was widely speculated that if temperatures were colder and wind speeds more severe this number would have been much higher. Other issues that developed during this crisis was a lack of efficient snow plows, slow police response due to inadequate staffing to manage the overwhelming activity of phone lines and difficulty with delivery of crucial supplies to people and local businesses. Although the exact figure is unknown, the damage caused by this storm is estimated at several millions of dollars.”

 I also found a great old news video.  Just click.on the arrow.


Since it was just after Christmas, my aunt, uncle, little cousin and grandmother were staying with us.  As my mother told the story on the 27 of December when it stopped snowing, we had run out of milk, something that you need if you have small children.  So my father and uncle decided that they would walk in the street down to a dairy they knew about and get milk.  They bundled up and off they went.  A little while later they returned, not only with milk, but also with ice cream, I believe the flavors were pistachio and chocolate.  

If I could talk to my parents, I would like to know where they bought the milk and ice cream; how far away it was, and how hard it was to walk in all that snow.