Saturday, May 31, 2014

Battle of Seven Pines

Today is the 152nd anniversary of the Battle of Seven Pines, also known as the Battle of Fair Oaks or Fair Oaks Station, which took place during the Civil War in Virginia. It was part of the bloody Peninsula Campaign. Union General George McClellan had landed federal troops near Yorktown and marched up the peninsula, fighting Confederate forces several times in his attempt to capture Richmond early in the war. Tactically, the Battle of Seven Pines was inconclusive, but it led to the Seven Days Battles and the Union retreat in late June.

Union Gen. Franklin's forces retreating during the Battle of Seven Pines;
image courtesy of Wikipedia

My great grandfather, Charles Edward Jennings, had enlisted in the 19th Virginia Infantry Regiment on 1 March 1862 as a young 18-year-old man. In April his unit sailed down the James River and were engaged by Union troops near Yorktown on 26 April 1862. He fought in almost every battle of the Peninsula Campaign. However, in July and August he was away from the regiment at home sick. I do not believe he ever fought in another battle during the Civil War, though rejoined the 19th on more than one occasion.

The Battle of Seven Pines was the largest battle in the Eastern theater up to that time, second only to Siloh in terms of casualties. It is estimated that there were about 11,000  casualties during the battle.

To learn more about Charles Edward Jennings' Civil War service, read this post.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Obama and My 6th Cousin

Kermit John Jackson lived in Hawaii before and after it became a state. He was born on December 19, 1902 in Custer County, Nebraska, and died May 12, 1992 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He attended the State Teachers College at Kearney, Nebraska, graduating with a degree in business. In 1926, he accepted a teaching and coaching position in LaRue, Ohio. The next year he relocated to Long Beach, California, and worked in the oil fields. In 1928, he began teaching in the Territory of Hawaii.

He married Corene Schroeder. She grew up in Bertha, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1929. She, too, accepted a teaching position in Hawaii, met and married Kermit Jackson in 1933. Kermit and Corene had two sons: Kermit Ian born July 7, 1936, and James Keith born August 7, 1944. Kermit and James are my sixth cousins.

Kermit is the tallest son in the back row, photo courtesy of an member

In 1952, a young woman named, Irene Beard, wrote a book entitled History of Adam Beard and His Descendants. At that time Kermit was still teaching school in Hawaii and his oldest son, also named Kermit, was attending the Punahou Academy in Honolulu.  President Barack Obama graduated from Punahou School in 1979!

President Obama and Punahou classmates, photo courtesy of NPR

The school was founded in 1841 and built on the lands of the Ka Punahou, named for the fabled natural spring. The spring still flows today through the heart of the campus under the Thurston Memorial Chapel. The school was developed to provide a quality education for the children of Congregational missionaries, allowing them to stay in the Hawaii with their families rather than having to be sent away for schooling.

Photo by Michael Morgan courtesy of the Punahou School

Monday, May 26, 2014

Honoring those Who Died in the Service of Their Countries

In observance of Memorial Day and the centenary of World War I, I would like to honor my ancestors who died in the service of their countries during the Great War or the War to End All Wars. I have several more ancestors who served in the war, but at this time I know two of them died on foreign soil.

Collins, Julius Franklin: born 1 Aug 1888, died 30 Sep 1918, Argonne, France. Served in Co M, 39 Infantry, 4th Division.

Julius was the step-son of my great great grandmother Clementine Wells. He was born on 1 August 1888 in Troy, Illinois to William and Ida May (McMakin) Collins. His father had immigrated to the U.S. from England with his parents as a young boy. When Julius registered for the draft in 1917 he was 28 years old, lived in St. Louis and owned a gift and art shop. He married Edith Audrey Wolf in July 1918. Three months later, he was dead in the forests of Argonne, France. Before he left to fight in Europe, he wrote A Soldier Boy's Creed, which was published in several newspapers in the midwest, including his hometown paper, the Troy Call.

A Soldier Boy's Creed by Julius Franklin Collins

Julius' remains were buried in the Troy City Cemetery. His father had been killed by a fall of slate in a coal mine just the year before. To date, I have been unable to trace Julius' wife, Edith Audrey Wolf.

Semple, William: born 10 Apr 1896, died 8 May 1915, Gallipoli, Turkey. Served with the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces, Canterbury Infantry Regiment.

William Semple

William was my second cousin three times removed. He was born on 10 Apr 1896 in New Zealand to Alexander and Alice (Thompson) Semple. He was the grandson of Scottish immigrants. At the age of  19, he was killed in Gallipoli, Turkey, on 8 May 1915. Only two weeks earlier, thousands of young men stormed the beaches on the Gallipoli peninsula. At the end of the eight-month campaign 2,779 New Zealanders had been killed, about a fifth of the total who fought on Gallipoli. Australians and New Zealanders celebrated ANZAC Day last month. One of my Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration bloggers wrote a wonderful post (Australian perspective) commemorating the day.

William was buried in Turkey at the Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery. The cemetery was created after the armistice when graves were brought to the site from isolated sites and small burial grounds on the battlefields. The cemetery also contains the Twelve Tree Copse (New Zealand Memorial), one of four memorials erected to commemorate unknown New Zealand soldiers. In 2000 my Semple research collaborator, and fourth cousin once removed was privileged to attend a sunrise service at the memorial in honor of her grand uncle, William.

Twelve Tree Copse (New Zealand Memorial), Gallipoli, Canakkale, Turkey

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Worldwide Genealogy: Asking Some Adoption Questions

A few days ago, I wrote a post about discovering the birth and death registration records for two sons adopted by Nathaniel and Anne "Annie" (Hutton) Muir. Those registration records answered several questions, but the ensuing research raised more questions!

Portion of Nathaniel Muir McGregor's birth registration
from ScotlandsPeople

During my follow-up research, I discovered that Nathaniel and Annie's other son was also adopted. How to think about that adoption and who might be his father are the questions I'm asking in my May 25th post on Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration. I hope you'll click over to read about my questions and provide your thoughts on what the answers could be.

Friday, May 23, 2014

52 Ancestors #21: Wonder Woman

Ancestor Name: Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange

We read so much today about super Moms and wonder women who do it all -- work, raise children, and put meals on the table. I'd like to introduce an original of the species on the 120th anniversary of her birth.

Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange was my maternal grandmother. She raised all her nine children to adulthood and each one thought they were her favorite. She was an amazing woman. In the late 1990s Lucille (Fillenberg) Effa contacted my father through a genealogy forum. She was writing a book on my grandmother's Schalin family and wondered if my mother would contribute an article about her mother. So on the 120th anniversary of my grandmother's birth, I thought I would let my Mom tell the story of her beloved mother's life. This excerpt is from Our Schalin Family: 1770-2003, by Lucille Fillenberg Effa, published in 2003 by Northstar Direct Printers, Nanaimo, British Columbia.

by Dorothy (Lange) Jennings:

Wilhelmina "Minnie" Schalin, daughter of Wilhelm and Auguste (Fabriske) Schalin, was born in the Fredericksheim district east of Leduc, in the year following the Schalin family's arrival in Canada. She was their second daughter to be named Wilhelmine and was only three years old when her mother died. A year later her father remarried.

Minnie had a very unpleasant childhood and when her father found out how she was being treated he would take her with him when he went out into the fields to work. When she was about nine, her father found another family to keep her where she helped out with farm chores. When older she helped in homes when a baby was born. At one time she worked in hotel kitchen and for a time was employed by Lord and Lady Davis in Edmonton, Alberta.

Wilhelmina Schalin when employed by Lord Davis

Minnie met Gustav Lange while living in Edmonton. When he moved to Winnipeg, Gustav sent her train fare to come there to be married and the of 9 April 1915 was chosen.

Gustav was born to August and Karoline (Ludwig) Lange, in Rozhishche, near the city of Lutzk, in Volhynia. He moved to Germany in 1906 where he worked for a short time before leaving for Canada. He sailed from Liverpool, England, on 12 August 1911 onboard the S/S Teutonic and arrived at the port of Quebec on the 20th.

Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange on her wedding day

Their first daughter, Ruth, was born in February of 1916. The family left Winnipeg, crossing through Detroit on 30 December 1916 to live in Peck, Michigan. Two sons, Walter and Arnold, were born there while the family worked as share croppers on a sugar beet farm. Another move was made to Cheltenham, Maryland in November 1919 when Gustav saw an advertisement for a farm for sale in Maryland. They left by train when Arnold was only three weeks old. Before leaving for Maryland, the baby had to have an operation to correct a harelip, necessitating a stop in Buffalo, New York, to have the stitches removed by another doctor.

Ruth Hedwig Lange, Wilhelmina's oldest child; photograph taken in Detroit, Michigan

They bought the farm in Maryland where six more children were born to them. They worked hard cutting pulpwood to pay for the farm and build a new home. They raised tobacco for one year (a big money crop in Maryland) but because of religious beliefs did not pursue that further. Instead, they later started a poultry business and also kept horses, cows and pigs. Gustav began an egg route in Washington, DC, delivering eggs to some of the U.S. Senators in the Senate Office Building.

Tribute to Gustav and Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange, carved in a tree by their son, Arthur James Lange

Minnie's life was busy and she worked hard raising nine children and working side-by-side with Gustav on the farm. They had no electricity or running water. Although there was always a lot of work to be done, she found time to play with her children: tag, hide and seek, and ball games, even putting boxing gloves on to box with Alfred! She had gift of story telling. When she worked with the children cutting and husking corn, fixing the road, hoeing the garden, planting potatoes, bringing in the hay, feeding chickens, or whatever, she would tell them a story and magically the work was done.

Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange in her beloved rock garden; how she had time for it no one knows

Meal times were the best part of the day, although presenting a real challenge for her. She relied on the big garden and fruit trees to put a meal on the table. These were noisy, but cheerful times.

In many ways she was a perfectionist. For example, if the girls didn't hang the clothes on the line according to size and color she would make them go back out and change it. She was a good seamstress and could do delicate handwork. It was amazing to see those big hands, which wielded an axe to cut firewood doing the finest handwork with a little needle.

Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange doing fine embroidery

Minnie took every opportunity to instill good work ethics and Christian ideals in her children. She provided them with many happy childhood memories and all of her children feel truly blessed to have had her for a mother.

She predeceased her husband by three years, passing away 27 November 1960 in Clinton, Maryland. Gustav Lange died on 23 December 1963 in Arlington, Virginia. Both are buried in Waldorf, Maryland.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

Wilhelmina "Minnie" Schalin was born on 23 May 1894 near Leduc, Alberta, North-West Territories, Canada, to Wilhelm and Auguste (Fabriske) Schalin. She was their seventh child and the first to be born in Canada. She married Gustav Lange on 9 April 1915 at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. On 30 December 1916 they immigrated to Peck, Sanilac, Michigan. They lived there for three years before moving to Cheltenham, Prince George's, Maryland. They had nine children. Wilhelmina died on 27 November 1960 at Clinton, Prince George's, Maryland. She is buried next to her husband in Trinity Memorial Gardens at Waldorf, Charles, Maryland.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Answering Some Adoption Questions

Nathaniel Muir was my first cousin three times removed and the son of Robert Orr Muir and his second wife, Mary Watson Shaw. Like his father and grandfather before him, Nathaniel was a coal miner. Sometime before 1891, Nathaniel's father, Robert moved his family to what is now West Lothian county, Scotland, which is further east and closer to Edinburgh than Lanarkshire where Nathaniel was born. Three months after the 1891 census was enumerated, Nathaniel married Ann "Annie" Hutton, an 18-year-old domestic servant. Both Nathaniel and Annie lived in Armadale.

When the 1901 census was taken, Nathaniel and Annie were living in Bathgate and had a 6-year-old son named Nathaniel. In 1911, the family was still living in Bathgate, but its composition had changed quite a bit. Their son, Nathaniel would have been 16, but was not listed on the census record. However, two adopted sons -- Andrew Murray (9) and Robert M. Stewart (7 months) -- were. Annie's father, Ross Hutton, was also living with them. He was a retired pit head laborer. A terrific photograph answered some questions but raised others. Isn't that always the case?!

Memorial for Annie (Hutton) Muir, her sons Andrew and Nathaniel, and Andrew's wife,
Isabella; courtesy of

The inscription reads as follows:

Created by Nathaniel and Annie Muir
In loving memory of their sons
who died 19th March 1908
aged 13 years
husband of Isabella Adams
accidentally killed 
24th November 1936
aged 34 years
Annie Hutton Muir
died 24 November 1935
aged 63 years
Also the above
Isabella Adams
died 18th July 1984
aged 81 years

I was able to find Andrew's death registration record. He died of injuries sustained in a fall at the Easton Colliery on 24 November 1936. He was married to Isabella Henry Adams and his parents were listed as Andrew and Elizabeth (Cameron) Cairns. His name on the registration record of his death was "Andrew Muir (formerly Cairns)." His father-in-law registered his death.

Robert M. Stewart was born on 14 Sep 1910 in Edinburgh to Annie Stewart and named Alistair Stewart. On 30 November of the same year, the birth registration was altered to change little Alistair's name to Robert Muir. I believe he died on 11 September 1976 and was added to the Bathgate Cemetery memorial marker for his grandparents, Robert Orr and Mary Watson (Shaw) Muir.

Memorial for Robert Orr Muir, his second wife, Mary Watson Shaw and their adopted
grandson, Robert Stewart Muir; courtesy of

I haven't yet found the birth or death registrations for Nathaniel and Annie's son, Nathaniel, which is very unusual because Scottish vital records after 1855 are fantastic. My only information about him comes from the 1901 census and the memorial stone.

I am still researching Robert Orr Muir's 14 known children, but so far I have identified 33 grandchildren. I wonder if Nathaniel and Annie struggled to have their own and that was why they adopted at least two boys. I suspect that question will remain unanswered.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Communist Utopia: Nineveh, Missouri

Sometime before the 1920 U.S. federal census was enumerated Margaret (Semple) Muir moved from O'Fallon, Illinois, to Nineveh, Missouri. For the first time since immigrating to the U.S. in 1887, she owned her own home. Her granddaughter, Alice Muir (my grandmother), was living with her. I learned about Nineveh in Eugene Morrow Violette's book entitled, History of Adair County:

"In 1849, the most unique settlement in Missouri, was founded. It was composed of a small group of German communists who came from Bethel, Shelby County, Missouri. In order to get a proper appreciation of the settlement at Nineveh, it will be necessary to say something about Bethel and its founder, Dr. William Keil.

Dr. Keil was born in Prussia in 1811. He grew up to young manhood in his native country and became a milliner. He came to America in 1835 or 1836 and after living in New York he went to Pittsburgh. He practiced medicine in both those places with some degree of success, though it is not certain he ever attended medical school. Shortly after he reached Pittsburgh he was converted in a revival held by German Methodists and he joined their church. In 1839 he was licensed as a local preacher; his success and enthusiasm as a class leader had recommended him as a suitable candidate for this higher rank. Very shortly, however, he broke with this church. During the absence of a regular paster he is said to have ascended the pulpit one Sunday and preached for two hours. In this sermon he attacked the ministry very severely for their acceptance of salaries. At the close of this sermon he asked all those who believed in his inspiration, to rise to their feet. Many rose.  This marked the beginning of his following, and for over thirty years he maintained a strong hold over a considerable group of people. 

William Kiel; image courtesy of Wikipedia

After joining and leaving the Protestants Methodists with his following, he began sending enthusiastic young men as representatives of his ideas into other parts of Pennsylvania and into Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Iowa. Their efforts were not without results. Many accepted his ideas and believed in him as an inspired leader and teacher. It was about this time Keil began thinking about establishing a colony somewhere. When his plans were announced many followers sold  their property and made preparations to join him. An attempt was made to put the colony on the basis of a constitution, which had been drafted by some of those who had joined the movement, but this was rejected by Keil. His own imperious will became the law to which all gave a willing and enthusiastic obedience. 

In 1844 he sent a committee called "spies" to Missouri to find a suitable place for a colony. They chose land in Shelby County, which became known as Bethel. Four years later the colony decided to establish a branch settlement in Adair County. They selected the farm of David Ely on the Chariton river and purchased 160 acres. They also knew coal abounded in this area.

Later more land was purchased until the colony owned 2,100 acres. In the spring of 1850 about 25 people came from the Bethel colony and began founding the new colony."

This is how Violette described how Keil's followers lived:

"A steam mill was installed to ground flour, wheat in other grain. A saw mill was also installed and much lumber was gotten out. A tannery, shoe shop, blacksmithing, wagon shops, and a carpenter shop were also erected and put into operation. Some coal was mined but the work was done by hired labor.

The net proceeds of these various industries, including the farm, was put into a general fund. Surplus earnings were used to expand the operations of the colony. Each member of the colony was a stockholder in every concern. Common places were provided for livestock. The men who had families lived in separate houses, but the unmarried men lived in the "large house," which was also used as a hotel and colony store.  

From the colony store each family would draw each week its share of provisions, the share of each family being determined by the number in it. There was no choice of articles or goods. Every family got the same kind of provisions; the difference was in the amount only. The clothing was made from cloth made from by the colony and everyone got a share of it. Special purchases could only be made by those who had realized something from the sale of such commodities as butter and eggs. These commodities were about the only things that could be sold as private property. The proceeds from the sale of other things went into the general fund.

There were only ever about 150 colonists in Nineveh. When William Kiel died in 1877, the colonies established by he and his followers quickly dissolved."

Nineveh coal mine; photo from History of Adair County

Nineveh remained something of a backwater until 1901 when the Iowa and St Louis Railroad laid tracks nearby. The Manufacturers' Coke and Coal Company opened several mines in the area soon after and began mining on a large scale at that time. By 1910, 652 people lived in the city, which was incorporated in 1904.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

52 Ancestors #20: Streatorland

Ancestor Name: Alexander Muir

Sometimes when doing genealogy research, it turns into a litany of names, dates, and places. It becomes mind numbing if you can't add a little color to your research. I've added a step to my process to look for old books about my ancestors or the places in which they lived. That's how I found Biography in Black by Paula Angle, published in 1962, on Internet Archive. It is a history of Streator, Illinois, and included some interesting and unique descriptions of the the city.

My great grand uncle, Alexander Muir, was born in Streator on 13 May, 125 years ago this month. He was the first son of James and Margaret (Semple) Muir born in the United States after Margaret and her children emigrated from Scotland 1887 to join their husband and father. James was a coal miner in Scotland and the U.S. 

When Alexander Muir registered for the World War I draft in 1917, he wrote Streator, Illinois as his place of birth. When I think about Illinois now, I think of it as a "rust belt" state filled with cities in decline. But it wasn't always so. At the time my great great grandparents lived there, Streator was one of the most rapidly growing and developing cities in the state outside of Chicago. In 1870 its population was a little under 1,500 by 1880, it had tripled. 

Streator is situated on the banks of the Vermilion river, straddling LaSalle and Livingston counties. The area was first named Hardscrabble because it was a "hard scrabble" to cross the river and get up the hill where the settlement was located. Next the town was called Unionville in honor of the local men who fought in the Civil War. In 1865 the city was named for Worthy Streator, a Cleveland railroad promoter, who financed the region's first mining operation, and the town was incorporated in 1882. 

Bridge over Vermillion River at Streator, Illinois; photograph courtesy
of Encore Editions

Colonel Plumb, Streator's mine overseer, could not afford European employment agents to send him workers. Instead he alerted steamship offices of the new job opportunities and convinced local railroads to carry notices of Streator's promise.  I've always wondered if that's how James Muir came to settle and work in the city.  

Biography in Black included this item from the La Salle Press in 1881:

"N H Deisher of Streator was over here a day or two this week to see his old friends. He says Streator is a booming town and he likes it first rate. We must caution friend D[eisher] to be very careful of himself, for there are lots of holes in the ground over there where people tumble in very frequently and are killed."

The punning La Salle journalist, who meant only to toss a barb in Streator's direction, was right. Streator was booming by the time James Muir's wife, Margaret, and children joined him. Those "holes in the ground" yielded coal and provided jobs for many recent immigrants.

Coal mine in Streator, Illinois; photograph of Mining Artifacts

Biography in Black also contained Edward Steiner's, an immigrant turned professor, description of city. He came to Streator as a young man sometime after 1886. 

"The town lay uninvitingly among the coal mines which gave it life. Its geometric streets contained the usual stores with the invariable surplus of saloons. The residence district stretched in every direction; while at the most undesirable edges of town the miners had settled in hopeless, unkempt groups. These localities were known as prisoners are -- merely by numbers, and were fast deteriorating; for the more stable population of Welsh and German miners was giving way to the changeable, newer, immigrant groups…the [coal] 'patch' seemed to be a law unto itself, as far as cleanliness or even sanitary conditions were concerned. The only time it realized that it was under some government control was when the officers came to interfere in the not infrequent brawls. The miners were entirely out of touch with the community, except through the saloons…"

Such was the nature of the town where Alexander Muir was born.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

Alexander Muir was born 13 May 1889 at Steator, La Salle, Illinois to James and Margaret (Semple) Muir. He was the first child born to them after they immigrated to the U.S. from Scotland. I have contacted both La Salle and Livingston counties and his birth record cannot be located. (Streator crosses county borders.) On 13 June 1914 Alexander married Bertha Clorin and by 1916 they were living in Seattle, Washington. He worked for the city as a fireman. Alexander and Bertha had three children: Alexander, Helen and Frances. When he completed his 1942 World War II registration card, he was working for Boeing Aircraft Company. Alexander died on 6 May 1957 at Seattle, Washington.

For more on coal in Illinois, read Coal Mining: A Dangerous Occupation.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

1945 Virginia Rice Nursing Home Fire

Harriett "Hattie" Malinda Ogburn is my 3rd cousin three times removed. She was born on 29 October 1858 in Kanawha County, West Virginia, to John William and Sarah Ann (Beard) Ogburn. Hattie married Henry Bascom Carroll on 13 July 1881 and moved with him to Lincoln County, West Virginia. Henry was a shoemaker and owned his own shop by 1920. The couple had twins, who died in infancy. Henry died in 1932 and some time after his death Hattie went to live in the Virginia Rice Nursing Home in Huntington, West Virginia.

On 16 November 1945 the Huntington Advertiser reported that a fire had broken out at 4:00 a.m. that morning on the second floor of the nursing home. The article went on to say:

"The inmates, many bedfast, were removed scantily-clad in ambulances to Huntington hospitals for temporary shelter. Some of them were burned slightly. Others, hysterical in the excitement, had to be carried out by force from the blazing home.

Charleston Daily Mail, 16 November 1945

When the firemen and police arrived, wild excitement prevailed in the home, they reported. The residents, terrified, were running about inside screaming and shouting. Captain C C Mayo, acting fire chief, assigned most of the two companies that answered the alarm to rescue work. Patrolmen of the police traffic squad and other officers joined in carrying persons from the home…

A few of the patients suffered from exposure in the chilly air as they were led from the flaming home to waiting ambulances. One senile man wandered barefooted and in a nightgown across the street and had to be brought back…

The interior of the nursing home, once the residence of the late Attorney John W Perry, and later the headquarters of a World War I veterans' organization, was gutted. The loss is partly covered by insurance, according to Mrs Rice, the proprietor."

Even though newspapers across the state initially reported the residents of the nursing home were in satisfactory health after the fire, at least three would go on to die from complications due to the fire and exposure, including Hattie.  She was taken to Memorial Hosptial where she died two days later. The death certificate listed the cause of death as "shock following fire in home." Hattie (Ogburn) Carroll was 87 years old.

Harriett "Hattie" Malinda (Ogburn) Carroll's Death Certificate

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Followers of Emanual Swedenborg

I recently read The Making and Unmaking of a Revolutionary Family: The Tuckers of Virginia 1752-1830, by Phillip Hamilton on Google Play. The book was about a possible branch of my sister-in-law's Tucker family that came from Bermuda and settled in Virginia just prior to the Revolutionary War. It detailed how the lives of the Virginia planter gentry declined and changed after the war and how the family dealt with those changes. Most of the book focused on St. George Tucker (1752-1827), who married Frances Bland Randolph, his brothers, children, and step-children.

One of his brothers was Nathaniel Tucker (1750-1807). He was born in Bermuda and when he was 20 years old accompanied a brother to Charleston, South Carolina. He left the Colony of South Carolina about 1773 to study medicine in Edinburgh. He later transferred to the University of Leiden in Holland from which he graduated.

Leiden University Library

In 1786 Nathaniel decided to settle in the old mother country in the seaside town of Hull. There he established a modest medical practice, worked in a local charity hospital, and married a serious-minded woman from a modest family named Jane Wood. Together the couple had six children and became devout followers of the Swedish theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg. Nathaniel translated Swedenborg's works for English followers but the effort was not commercially successful. According to Lewis Leary[1], he would not allow his name to be associated with his pioneer translations, though perhaps his greatest claim to memory is that these translations introduced Swedenborg to such talented and thoughtful men Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Henry James,  and Thomas Carlyle.

Emanuel Swedenborg

Other famous followers of Swedenborg were Helen Keller and Elizabeth Barret Browning.

Lewis Leary wrote a book entitled, Poems of Nathaniel Tucker. He was the former William Rand Kenon Jr Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Writing a Book about the Descendants of Robert Muir (~1800-Ireland, 1869-Scotland)

I am writing a book about the descendants of Robert Muir (~1800-1869) , my 3X great grandfather. He married Henrietta Brown (died bef 1856) in Avondale, Lanarkshire in 1828 and they had 11 known children:
  •  Elizabeth Muir (c1829-1863) married Matthew Cassels
  • Martha Muir (1830-1876) married John Riddell
  • Jean Muir (1834-bef 1837)
  • Henrietta Muir (1836-1841)
  • Jean Muir (1837-1856)
  • Robert Orr Muir (1839-1917) married 1) Jane Paton Loudon and 2) Mary Watson Shaw
  • Henrietta Muir (1841-1929) married James Williamson and immigrated to Australia
  • Thomas Muir (1842-1901) married 1) Janet Sorbie and 2) Isabella Moore
  • James Muir (1844-1926) married 1) Margaret Semple and immigrated to USA and 2) Margaret (McIntosh) Greenbank
  • John Muir (1846-1923) married Lilias Weir
  • Nathaniel Muir (c1850-1923) married 1) Janet Shaw and 2) Christina Ure

 If you are a descendant of any of these people and would like to contribute stories, photos, or memories of your ancestors, I would love to include them in the book. The book will be free to those who contribute and will be delivered electronically in PDF format.

Simply comment below and I will be in contact with more information. Or contact me through my public Facebook genealogy page: Tangled Roots and Trees.

If you would like to review the research I have done on this family and have a guest registration or subscription to, you may view my Jennings/Lange/Muir/Schalin public tree.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

52 Ancestors #19: Celebrating Mother's Day

Ancestor Name: Dorothy Ailein (Lange) Jennings

I wonder how many of us in the U.S. are writing about our mothers today. I thought long and hard about it as my mother is still alive but she deserves a tribute on this special day. I hope I can do her influence on my life justice.

Mom and Dad on the day of their marriage 15 November 1957

Once many years ago my siblings and their spouses descended on Mom and Dad's for a holiday. My youngest brother had recently taken some sort of personality test at work that consisted of 50 questions. We all had a good laugh when we discovered my husband and my mother had the same personality. They had answered 49 of the 50 questions exactly the same. The joke ever since has been I married my mother. And that's a very good thing!

She is stronger than anyone I know, but let Dad take care of her 55 years of their 57-year marriage. Now, during the last two years, she has become the caregiver. She has very firm ideas about wifely duties and child rearing that might make your hair stand on end if you consider yourself a liberated, modern woman. Yet she encouraged me to be strong, independent and be a partner not subservient in my marriage.

My middle brother, Mom and I at National Memorial Park in Falls Church
Virginia on Easter, visiting the grave of my paternal grandfather

She guarded her children as fiercely as a momma bear but never once blamed the teachers as many parents do today when their children get in trouble. We were punished if we misbehaved in school; the teacher was always right.

I was pigeon-toed as a child. Mom would fuss at me about it and even now at the ripe old age of 55, I look down occasionally to be sure I'm walking with my toes pointed straight ahead. When I see an adult walk the way I did as a child, I admit I wonder why their Mom didn't fix that!

Mom was sure I must have musical talent. Her father played a brass instrument in a marching band and the violin. I should have piano lessons. We bought a used piano and I began taking lessons with wife of our church's musical director. I had wonderful form, but absolutely no talent. I played the piece as well the first time as the fiftieth. But Mom wouldn't let me quit. Until one day, when I came home from school, she told a story on herself. She was in the kitchen getting ready to clean up after breakfast and she heard someone playing the piano. Since the only person in the house that played was me, she was sure I was late for school. She came in the room to tell me to stop practicing and get to school and discovered our Beagle walking up and down the keyboard, shredding a tissue. Quitting my lessons was only one of the very few battles I won. My argument was simple. If she couldn't tell the difference between my playing and the dog's, I had no talent.

Mom feeding my youngest brother; photograph taken in 1968

I was not only the tallest girl in elementary and junior high school, I was the tallest student in the entire school. In the 9th grade I met a girl who was almost as tall as me. She slumped so she would appear shorter. This seemed like a wonderful solution to my embarrassing height problem so I mimicked her slump. My mother disabused me of that behavior in short order.

We had our differences, especially when I was about 14 to 16 years old. I thought she had become a mad woman overnight and she thought the same about me! But for all the years since then she has been my best friend. There's nothing we can't talk about. But most importantly, she's my mother first. She still fusses at me and worries about me and wants the best for me.

A recent photograph of Mom and Dad taken in April 2014

I once told her I hoped I would die before her as I didn't think I could stand it without her in my life. I was totally unprepared for her reaction. She broke down completely and started crying. She said it's natural for a child to lose a parent but it is unnatural for a parent to lose a child. She begged me to stop thinking such thoughts. I have tried. Honestly, I have. But I still don't know how I will survive the deaths of my parents. They are the most wonderful people and gave my brothers and me an idyllic childhood and have been rocks to lean against as adults.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

It is here I usually provide the genealogical details about the ancestors I highlight for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, but I will not do that on this post as my mother is still living.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wreck of the Steamship Pulaski

Sarah Virginia Bryan, daughter of Joseph and Delia (Forman) Bryan, is the sister-in-law of my sister-in-law's fifth cousin, four times removed. Sarah married William Mein Mackay in 1835. They had two children Delila, born in 1835, and William, born in 1838. William and Sarah lived in Savannah, Georgia, where William owned two plantations along the Savannah River -- New Hope and Causton's Bluff. These properties were given to him in 1837 by a cousin, Mary Anne Cowper.

On 14 Jun 1838 the steamboat Pulaski left Charleston, South Carolina, bound for Baltimore, Maryland. On board were about 150 passengers and 37 crew. Mrs. Mackay had boarded the Pulaski in Savannah, along with her two children and a servant. About 11:00 p.m., off the coast of North Carolina, the starboard boiler exploded and the ship sunk about 45 minutes after the explosion. Mrs. Rebecca (Lamar) McLeod, a survivor, believed only 54 people survived. Mrs. Sarah Virginia (Bryan) Mackay and her two children were not among them. Upon hearing the news of his family's death, William Mackay moved into his mother's house and remained in seclusion until his death in 1859.

From Steamboat Disasters and Railroad Accidents in the United States by S. A. Howland

A genealogy book entitled, Virginia Genealogies, by Horace Edwin Hayden, described Sarah Mackay's death:

"Mrs M. was lost in the wreck of the steam Pulaski, June 14, 1838. The testimony of a survivor in that awful scene leaves us mournful joy in her recollection. Her pious mind and noble heart stood firm amid the horrors that surrounded her. Gathering her infants in her arms she awaited the stroke of fate, and met it with all a Christian's resignation, and a Christian's hopes. 'Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.' Hers was in truth a noble mind and noble heart. She was of short stature, but of spirited and engaging appearance. She received the Holy Communion the Sunday before sailing in the ill-fated steamer, but she had been for some years a consistent member of the Protestant Episcopal Church."

The Wilmington Advertiser published a firsthand account of the disaster as told by Mr. Hibbard, the first mate, on 18 June 1838:

"Mr. Hibbard states that about 10 o'clock at night he was called to the command of the boat, and that he was pacing the promenade deck in front of the steerage house; that he found him. If, shortly after, upon the main deck, lying between the mast and side of the boat; that upon the return of consciousness, he had a confused idea of having heard an explosion, something like that of gunpowder immediately before he discovered himself in his then situation. He was induced, therefore to raise and walk aft, where he discovered that the boat midships was blown entirely to pieces that the head of the starboard boiler was blown out, and the top torn open; that the timbers and plank on the starboard were forced asunder and that the boat took in water whenever she rolled in that direction.

He became immediately aware of the horrors of their situation, and the danger of letting the passengers know that the boat was sinking, before lowering the small boats. He proceeded, therefore, to do this. Upon dropping the boat, he was asked his object, and he replied that it was to pass round the steamer to ascertain her condition. Before doing this, however, he took in a couple of men. He ordered the other boats to be lowered, and two were shortly put into the water, but they leaked so much in consequence of their long exposure to the sun, that one of them sunk, after a fruitless attempt to bail her. He had in the interim taken several from the water, until the number of ten. In the other boat afloat there were eleven. While they were making a fruitless attempt to bail the small boat, the Pulaski went down with a crash, in about 45 minutes after the explosion.

Both boats now insisted upon Mr. Hibbard's directing their course to the shore, but he resisted their remonstrances, replying that he would not abandon the spot till day light. At about three o'clock in the morning they started amidst of the wailing of the hopeless beings who were floating around in every direction, upon pieces of the wreck, to seek land, which was about thirty miles distant. After pulling about thirteen hours, the persons in both boats became tired, and insisted that Mr. Hibbard should land. This he opposed, thinking it safest to proceed along the coast, and to enter some of its numerous inlets; but he was at length forced to yield to the general desire, and to attempt a landing upon the beach a little east of Stump Inlet.

He advised, Mr. Cooper, of Ga., who had command of the other boat, and a couple of ladies with two children under his charge, to wait until his boat had first landed, as he apprehended much danger in the attempt, and should they succeed they might assist him and the ladies and children. There were eleven persons in the mate's boat, (having taken two black women from Mr. Coopers'.) Of these, two passengers, one of the crew, and the two negro women were drowned, and six gained the shore. After waiting for a signal, which he received from the mate, Mr. Cooper and his companions landed in about three hours after the first boat, in safety. They then proceeded a short distance across Stump Ground, to Mr. Redd's of Onslow County, where they remained from Friday evening until Sunday morning, and then started for Wilmington. The mate and two passengers reached here this morning about 9 o'clock."

Model of the Steamboat Pulaski from the e-book, "For 91 Days in Savannah," by Michael Powell and Jurgen Horn.

For more information about the explosion of the Pulaski, some good research has been done by Judi Heit and Stu Beitler.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hickory Island -- A Summer Playground

Hickory Island played a large role in the summers of the Ternes family. My first cousin twice removed, Harold Muir (1917-2003) married Marion Ruth Ternes (1918-1973) sometime after 1940. Marion's parents were William Peter and Elsie Agnes (Gerstner). Marion's sister, Ruth Marie Ternes, drowned on Hickory Island the year before Marion was born. She was only 3 years old at the time of her death.

Ruth Marie Ternes' death certificate

Marion Ruth (Ternes) Muir's first cousin was Edith Mary Madeline Terns, an adopted daughter of Anthony Francis and Mary Ann (Horger) Ternes.

A couple of years ago, I found the Live from Tormville! blog. The author, had purchased some embroidery at a garage sale and when she unpacked it, she discovered a typewritten transcript of voice taps that Edith Mary Madeline (Ternes) Reynolds sent to a relative about their shared family history.  In those transcripts, Edith described how she was adotped:

Transcript of voice tapes sent to a relative circa 1958;
photograph by Sharyn Tomane, author of the Live from Tormville! blog

In the summer of 1911, I was taken by my aunt to a cottage on Hickory Island. I played in the water and on the beach with some other children until nap time. I was put down for a nap, when I awakened my aunt was gone and I found myself in a strange place without a single familiar face. At four and a half, this can be a devastatingly traumatic experience. It was for me. Years later I came to terms with it and even wrote a poem about it. It was a little morbid, as I recall. I am a frustrated poet and write versus at the drop of a hat so don't drop yours or I'll surely write about it. Two of the boys I played with before my world upended were Norma and Orrin, the two surviving children of the Ternes family. They had had five children, three of whom, Chester, Mildred and Edith had died in infancy or early childhood. It was to fill the void left by the two daughters that the Terneses decided to adopt me. They changed my name from Freda Isobel Watson to Edith Mary Madeline Ternes. I found this out when I was taken to school in the fall. From the middle of the summer until school time I wondered why no one ever called me. Every time anyone spoke to me they called me Edith. I did not know who Edith was. This was very confusing to me because my name was Freda. No on ever called me that and I never heard the name again.

Edith wrote about celebrating the 4th of July on Hickory Island:

The 4th of July was generally spent at Hickory Island and it was always a spectacular day. The relatives all gathered there in the morning and after lunch we were given all the sparklers and lady fingers we could handle. This helped us wear off the lunch and prepare for a very special dinner. After dinner our dads would set off the Roman candles and sky rockets and pinwheels and we would roast wienies and toast marshmallows at the bonfire on the beach. We had some wonderful times out there. We went to the Island as soon as school was out in the spring and stayed there until it was time a to get new clothes for school again in the fall.

I wanted to learn a little more about the island that played such a big part in the Ternes family's lives.

Corps of Engineers 1905 topographical map of Hickory Island

The Corp of Engineers topographical map dated 1905 shows that Hickory Island is divided into two large islands.  At this time Upper Hickory was principally farmland. The only buildings were the caretaker's house and barn and a few outbuildings. Conversely, the eastern shoreline of Lower Hickory was well lined with cottages. Cottagers arrived at the dock on Upper Hickory and used a path along the riverbank to to reach the footbridge leading to Lower Hickory. The bridge crossed the channel near Peek-a-Boo, the small island between Hickory's upper and lower sections. This is the earliest map known to show the road leading to Lower Hickory with a bridge for vehicles to cross the channel.

Upper Hickory Dock where people boarded a steamship to return to Detroit;
photograph courtesy of Robert George and published in Images of
America: Grosse Ille
 and copyrighted by the Grosse Ille
Historical Society

I wish I would have known about Hickory Island when I lived in the Detroit area in the mid 1980s.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

52 Ancestors #18: Biking Across Western Canada in 1930

Ancestor Name:  William Warm

I have blogged about the adventures of William Warm before, which included stealing a train during World War I; he was the husband of my second cousin once removed. William and his family arrived in Canada on 27 August 1927 aboard S/S Seydlitz. With the help of Rev. Emil P. Wahl of the American German Baptist Mission, the family made their way Winnipeg, Manitoba to help harvest a bumper crop of grain in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. Bill decided to stay and try his hand at farming. After a few years of battling dust storms and other crop failures, Bill realized farming in that area of Canada was not for him.

He took off on 30 July 1930 on the one-speed Opel bicycle he brought with him from Germany and headed for Vancouver to look for his uncle, Dave Janzen. The description of the trip is included in Lucille Fillenberg Effa's wonderful book, Our Schalin Family: 1770-2003. I've included an excerpt here:

"He reached Calagary sooner than expected so carried on to Banff, before stopping for the night beside a river, near the roadside. Bill's slumber under the stars was soon interrupted by a bear attempting to ransack his rucksack. Thankfully, the furry thief was scared off when Bill jumped up abruptly and shouted at it.

Photograph of Bill's Opel bicycle during his trip across western Canada.
Photograph taken by William Warm

West of Banff, he headed south through the Windermere valley to Cranbrook, then west to Creston where he crossed the Arrow Lakes by ferry, at a cost of $0.05. Leaving Nelson, he continued his journey pedaling through the West Kootenays. Arriving at the foot of the 12-mile long hill outside of Rossland a kind soul in a Ford touring coupe stopped and offered him a rope tow. Bill accepted the offer but made the mistake of tying the rope to the spare tire on the back of the car. His second mistake was tying the other end to the bike's handle bars. Up, up, up they went through many switchbacks, before reaching the crest of the hill -- at least a half hour's grind. But as the law of gravity would have it, what goes up soon comes down -- rapidly. Bill, pell-melling behind, shouted for the driver to stop. He did. But Bill zoomed right on by, only coming to an abrupt halt in the ditch when the rope length ran out and snapped. After picking himself up, he immediately noticed the bicycle wheel now in the shape of a figure eight. What to do? He took the wheel off, picked it up, and bent it back into shape across his knee, reinstalled the wheel and carried on, declining an offer for further towing.

Interesting escapes weren't yet over. Upon arriving in Grand Forks, Bill was greeted by a bevy of stark-naked ladies protesting something as they paraded about the town trying to make a political point. Thankfully, this occasion was not planned for Bill so he kept on pedaling by, leaving the local RCMP officers to handle the problem presented by a group of Russian Doukabour 'mommas.'

Bill eventually arrived in Vancouver but still had to find Uncle Dave, without an address nor a phone number, but knew he lived on Lulu Island somewhere. Bill remembered having seen an advertisement for the Ebenezer Baptist Church in the German magazine Der Sendbote. He found the church on 52nd Avenue near Fraser Street. As it happened the pastor, Rev. Fred Mueller (son of Rev. F. A. Mueller[1]) knew Uncle Dave and directed Bill to his home.

William Warm and his Opel bicycle

Thus ended Bill's long journey sometime in August 1930. He averaged over 70 miles a day, and more amazing, never had one flat tire."

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

William Warm was born on 13 Dec 1909 at Millirowa, Russia, to John and Helen (Janzen) Warm. After being displaced several times during World War I and afterwards, the family arrived in Nova Scotia, Canada, aboard the S/S Seydlitz on 27 August 1927. William married Norma Viola "Minnie" Grapentine on 6 October 1936. He died on 26 Aug 2007 at the age of 97.

To read more about William Warm's early life and journey from Odessa to Vancouver, including stealing a train, click here.

[1] Rev. F. A. Mueller was the German Baptist minister responsible for bringing several families from the Volhynia region of what was then Russia to the Leduc area of Alberta, Canada, including my maternal grandmother's Schalin family.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Islenos from the Canary Islands

My grand uncle, Henry "Jack" Muir, married four times during his lifetime. His second wife was Armita Alleman. He and Armita had four children. I discovered a few of Henry's grandchildren on's message boards. They were looking for more information about their grandparents. One had always been told she had Native American heritage from her grandmother, Armita. At the time I knew very little about Henry and only Armita's first name.

After several months of digging and help from my research collaborator cousin in New Zealand, we found the record of Henry and Armita's marriage license and learned her last name. Once I had that name I began tracing the Alleman family. I have yet to find Native American ancestors, but what I have discovered so far is fascinating.

Armita's parents were Arrestide Alleman and Alice Istre. Arrestide's grandmother, Maria Xaviera Carmelite Domingue (1814-1876) was descended from Islenos. As a child growing up in Virginia, my education was loaded with Colonial history, but I discovered it was sadly lacking in the early history of the United States beyond the thirteen original colonies. I knew nothing about Islenos. Learning about their history and culture has been the fascinating part of this research effort.

Prior to 1778, Spanish settlements in Louisiana could only trade with ships owned by Spanish subjects, which sailed from Seville, Alicante, Malaga, Carthagena, Barcelona, or Corunna. Don Carlos III eased those restrictions and, at his own expense, sent a large number of farmers and soldiers to Louisiana. He offered each colonist a home, tools and subsistence on which to live for up to four years. As a result of the inducements offered by the Spanish king, several families from the Canary Islands immigrated to Louisiana. They became known as Islenos. 

When the ships landed, the colonists were classified. Soldiers were sent to several Spanish regiments for training and farmers and their families were sent to settlements to claim their land and homes.

The ships that brought Islenos to present day St Bernard Parish;
Photo courtesy of

Thanks to the transcription work of Sidney Louis Villere in 1973, we know quite a bit about when and how the Islenos arrived in Louisiana. The villages allocated to the Islenos were:

  • San Bernardo de Galvez, located on the shores of the Terre-Aux-Boeuf in Saint Bernard Parish
  • Galveztown, located on the shores of the Amite river near Manchoc, in Iberville Parish
  • Valenzuela, located on the shores of the Bayou Lafourche, in Assumption Parish
  • Nueva Iberia, located on the shores of Bayou Teche in Iberville Parish
They were settlements strategically placed to guard the approaches to New Orleans.

Four original Isleno settlements; base map courtesy of Google Maps

Armita Alleman's 4 times great grandparents were Islenos. Juan Gonzales Carbo and his wife, Andrea Ruiz, along with their nine children arrived in Louisiana on 26 July 1778 aboard the Scaramento. Carbo became a member of the Infantry Regiment of Louisiana. His daughter Lorenza Gonzales Carbo married Augustin Dominguez in 1782 at Assumption Parish. Augustin's parents arrived in Louisiana on 9 October 1778 aboard a frigate named San Ignacio de Loyola. His father also became a member of the Infantry Regiment of Louisiana.

During the American Revolutionary War, Spain declared war on England and coordinated their efforts with France. Isleno soldiers fought against the English at Natchez, Manchoc, Baton Rouge, Mobile, and Pensacola.

To learn more, visit the Los Islenos Heritage and Culture Society website.