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.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

#193 Tragedy--Shoot Out

This week's theme is tragedy.  Bad things happen in all families, but this is a most interesting one from my family.  

Harlan Turner, my great aunt's husband certainly was involved a a tragedy .   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.  

Friday, August 16, 2019


Comedy is this week’s theme.  When I think of comedy I think of clowns and when I think of clowns, I remember that I have two relatives who worked as clowns when they were children.

Their father, James Willey  (1850-1918) changed his name to Signor Montanio.  James worked as an acrobat, tight- rope walker, and a trapeze  artist. He also ran circuses--primarily, the Great New York Circus and the Great Mexican Circus.   He married Josephine Greenwalk (1860--1899), and they had four children--Harry (1873-1947), Perry (1880-1942), Minnie, and Charlotte.  The boys worked in the shows as clowns and acrobats and their mother had a musical act. 

Local newspapers often reported that the circus was coming or reported on the performance.  Those clippings gave me some insight into what the boys did. According to this article, sometimes they worked as acrobats or trapeze artists.

At other times, they did sketches.

While the article above describes them as twins, they were not.

I wonder what Harry and Perry looked like and was thrilled to find these two pictures of them.

From tracking the route of their circus--The Great New York Show or the Great Mexican Show, the boys worked until 1893.  After that, various newspaper articles show them working as cowboys, often in rodeos.  

I would love to talk to them and find out exactly what they did, what it was like to travel with a circus, and their lives as cowboys.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

#191--Sisters--Staying Together

The theme for this week is sisters. My great grandmother, Charity Mears,  had five sisters, they are part of my ancestry tree that I call the tribe and that I have written about before.  I think of them as a tribe because they tended to stay together.

This time I want to look at who they married and see if there were relationships among their husbands.

So the first thing I needed was a listing of the sisters and brothers and their spouses, which I obtained from an earlier blog.

 Mary Mears ((1786-1873)—Lemuel Boyle Sayer
Elizabeth Mears (1796—1880)—Jonathan Shreve
Catherine Mears (1799-1888)—Robert Legate (1802—1822)  and  Israel Donnelson Sayre (1807-1849)
Nancy Mears (1801-1883)—George Newell (1798-1875)
Jane Mears (1803-1878)—Jesse Stephenson (1804—1828)and David Calvin (1800/1810—1845)
Charity Mears (1806—1842)—John M. Hannah (1799-1842)
Sarah Jane Mears (1808-1899)-- George Fisher (1807-190)
William Mears (1799-1873)--Sarah Newell (180--1873).

There are several last names in common.  Were they related? I found that Lemual Boyle Sayres and Israel Sayers were brothers.  They were born in Brown County Ohio to Dennis and Hester (Donaldson) Sayres. Lemuel Remained in Brown County, while Israel moved to Edgar County, Illinois.

The Newells--George and Sarah--were brother and sister.  They were both born in Brown County.  Their parents were William Morris and Sarah (Paul) Newell.  Goerge and Nancy moved to Deer Park Illinois.  William and Sarah lived in several places in Indiana and then Ripley, Iowa.

I do know know how common it was for two sisters to marry two brothers.  I think it might have not been unusual in areas where the population was not large and therefore, there would have not been many choices in terms of spouses. I would like to talk to them to find how why these marrages took place. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

#190-- Four Brothers in the Jewelry Business

The theme for this week’s blog is brothers. I was really excited.  My great grandparents, Louis and Maria Eitelbach has six children—all boys.  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.

Four of the brothers—Walter, Louis, Harry, and Frank-- went into the jewelry business in New York City.  Under the name of Eitelbach Brothers, they designed, manufactured, and sold fine jewelry.  I am not sure, but I believe that Louis designed the jewelry, Harry and Frank manufactured it and Walter sold it.  I remember going to 2 West 47th Street, New York City right off Fifth Avenue and seeing them make jewelry.

The other two brothers took different paths.  Maxmillian went into the mortgage business and became assistant manager of the New York Title and Mortgage Company.  There is little information about William, however, in the census, he describes his occupation once as a machinist and another time as a jewelry manufacturer.

I really wish I had talked to my grandfather about the jewelry business.  I also wish I had been able to spend time with my uncles.