Tuesday, May 29, 2012

150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act

On May 20, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act that allowed any American citizen or intended citizen to lay claim to 160 acres of surveyed Government land. The applicant was required to live on the land and improve it by building at least a 12' by 14' dwelling and raising crops. At the end of 5 years, the homesteader could apply for his patent (also known as a deed or a title). This was the avenue for thousands of Americans to become landowners.

This is the land patent my 2nd Great-Grandfather Charles S. Newton received in 1881 for land outside of Worthington, Nobles County, Minnesota.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On the hunt

Dear Amos and Marinda ,
     May I be so familiar as to address you as such? I don't always have the opportunity to be hunting for records of you, my 2nd great-grand parents in the community where you lived. Today, I discovered that though you were living in Huntington, WV when the 1880 census was taken most of their other records (newspaper, burial, etc.) do not start until 1895. I did have the address of the home where you were living with children Herbert and Ida Mae, 388 8th Street in 1880. Unfortunately, today the location is a parking lot.
     I looked for you in church records sadly, they are sketchy. The deed information was missing for 1880.
So I had to content myself with a photo of the Cabell County Court House. It looks as if it has been expanded since you, Amos, may have tried cases there.
      I believe strongly that my ancestors want to be found. I have been unable to locate where you are buried Marinda. Tomorrow I will check out the Dye and McCowan cemeteries. If you're listening, your great-great granddaughter could use another clue.

Until later,

Friday, May 18, 2012

Laying Telegraph lines across Nebraska in 1860

After the United States Congress passed a bill authorizing the funding of a transcontinental telegraph line on June 30, 1860, my 2nd great-grand uncle Theodore W. Clarke was ready willing and able to help. He left his comfortable home in Oakland County, Michigan the year before and was working for the railroad in the Nebraska Territory until March 1860 when illness forced him to quit. Recovered by summer, he writes home to his sister Mollie on July 15th, 1860...
        "as soon as I was able to work I went into the employ of the Western Union
         Telegraph Company. We are engaged in the construction of the Pacific
         Telegraph running from St. Louis to San Francisco in California. I have been
         engaged in building a line from Springfield Mo. to Fort Smith in Arks [Arkansas]
         and then came up to St. Joseph and went to work on this line. We're going along
         the MO [Missouri] River as far as Omaha City and then across to Fort Kearney
         which last place is as far as we shall get before cold weather sets in."

Most accounts of the construction of the telegraph line, have it being built after the Civil War. I was lucky enough to receive from my grandfather, Charles Newton Cone, a series of 43 letters that he had received from his Grandmother Mary Elizabeth "Mollie" Clarke, the sister Mollie to whom Theodore was writing.

Theodore W. Clarke was about 21 when he began his adventures in the Nebraska Territory. His sister Mollie was 9 years his junior. He writes of his travels, encounters with Indians and Buffalo and of visiting a Mormon family at Wood River, Nebraska. I expect the family in Michigan had not made the acquaintance of a Mormon family and Theodore writes home to assure Mom and Sister that they are much like themselves one-hundred and fiftyone years ago, May 19, 1861,
       "When I wrote you last time it was in something of a hurry and I now proceed to
       make amends for former brevity. I am out here now making preparation to extend
       line further west. It has been raining here nearly all the time for two weeks and I
       am laying over for a dry time at my friend Mr. Johnson's and I must say that it
       seems almost like our own dear home of any place I ever have been in it is indeed
       a happy family during my acquaintance with them of nearly a year, I have never
       heard a harsh or unkind word spoken in the family. Mr. Johnson is a much valued
       friend of mine and I consider him a very estimable man all though he and I don't
      agree on politics. His daughter Mary is also a dear good friend of mine, perhaps
      you might start an acquaintance with her by writing to her but if you do so be
      very careful and not wound her feelings by using my name in connection with
      hers as we are not engaged nor likely to be that I know of. She sends lots of love
      to you and says she knows you are such a good sister by the letters you write to
     me. Mr. J wants you to send along your article and he will be proud to give it a
     place in his columns.
     Did you see the article in the Echo signed Gingery that was a production of my
     Giant mind.
     If you wish to write to Miss Mary direct to Mary J. Johnson, Wood River Center,
     Buffalo County, Nebraska. Direct my mail to Omaha care H. M. Porter Tel Lind.
     Big, lots of love to everybody and write soon to


     For family members here is the relationship; Cecily daughter of Charles Cone,
    son of Charles Cone, son of Helen Newton, daughter of Charles Newton and
    Mary E. Clarke sister of Theodore W. Clarke.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pine Barons Barbershop Chorus Circa 1970

My dad, Chuck Cone, is first person on the right in the front row in the lower photo
and the person on the right in the upper photo.

About this time each year, my John F. Kennedy High School (Willingboro, New Jersey) classmates and I hear from our former math teacher John Celani about the upcoming events scheduled by the Cherry Hill Pine Baron Chorus. I always wish then that I were in South Jersey, not Texas and could attend the upcoming event.

My siblings and I grew up with barbershop harmony echoing throughout our home each Thursday evening when our father, Charles Newton "Chuck" Cone, Jr. hosted his barbershop quartet practice.
Dad sang bass and I'm afraid I don't remember the other quartet members names, but perhaps Nils Johnson is one. Their dulcet harmonies always brought a smile to my face even while puzzling over Mr. Celani's Senor Math homework.

Found these photos of the Pine Baron Chorus and Dad's quartet while visiting my sister Leslie in Colorado.

I did not realize that the Pine Baron Chorus, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, has been performing together since 1949. For those of you lucky enough to be living in the Delaware Valley, you can find their schedule on their website http://www.harmonize.com/pinebarons/.

Monday, May 14, 2012

National Chicken Dance Day - May 14th

According to Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers, today is National Chicken Dance Day. Admittedly, most of us groan when faced with having to do the "Chicken Dance" at a wedding or ballpark, but my husband's family may regard it as a heritage celebration opportunity. You can find several people named Schickendantz in his family tree! You can imagine the spelling derivatives for that surname.

In the snippet from the 1860 Census, you see the listing for Henry Schickantz age 33, male Watchmaker with property worth 1,000 born in Germany living in the 12th Ward of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with Edith Schickantz age 27 female born in Germany, Henry age 8, male, born in Pennsylvania, and Charlotta Hoffman age 26 female, born in Germany.

The 1870 census above, lists
Schikendantz, Henry, age 44, male, white
                        Ida, age 34, female, white
                        Henry, age 12, male, white
                        Frank, age 8, male, white
                        Geo., age 2, male, white
Hoffman, Charlotte, age 54, female, white
                 August, age 28, male, white

By the 1880 census, the enumerators in Philadelphia's Twentieth Ward are doing a better job with at least this German surname, listed are:
Schickendantz, H. white, male, 53, married, watchmaker and jeweler, born in Alsace, father born in Alsace, mother born in Alsace
--------, Ida, white, female, 43, wife, married, keeping house, born in Alsace, father born in Alsace, mother born in Alsace.
--------, Henry, white, male, 21, son, single, with father, born in Virginia, father born Alsace, mother born in Alsace.
--------, Frank, white, male, 17, son, single, with father, born in Pennsylvania, father born Alsace, mother born Alsace.
--------, George, white, male, 11, son, single, school, born in Pennsylvania, father born Alsace, mother born in Alsace.
--------, Paul, white, male, 7, son, single, school, born in Pennsylvania, father born Alsace, mother born Alsace.
--------, Clara, white, female, 1, daughter, single, born in Pennsylvania, father born Alsace, mother born Alsace.
Hoffman, Charlotte, white, female, sister-in-law, widowed, at home, Mechlenberg, father born Mechlenberg, mother born Mechlenberg.
-----------, Augusts, white, male, nephew, single, born Mechlenberg, father born Mechlenberg, mother born Mechlenberg.

Of course all of these people really have nothing to do with the "Chicken Dance", according to Wikipedia, "is an oom-pah song and its associated fad dance is now a contemporary American folk dance. The song was composed by accordion player Werner Thomas from Davos, Switzerland, in the 1950s.

Wyoming.... Ohio

Last week I was lucky to be able to attend the National Genealogical Society Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. After the conference on Saturday, two friends and I, drove to the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming where my second great-grandfather Amos Dye (Cecily Cone, daughter of Charles N. Cone, Jr, son of Hazel Bynum Allen, daughter of Ida Mae Dye, daughter of Amos Dye and his first wife Marinda McCowan) lived in 1900. Unfortunately, the enumerator did not list the exact address of his home on the population schedule wrote over the house leaving some doubt over whether the dwelling number is 211 or 213.

The Dye household lists:
1. Dye Amos    Head      White, Male, Born: Apr 1847, Age: 53 Married 4 years, born in Ohio, father born in Ohio, mother born in Ohio, attorney-at-law, zero months unemployed, yes can read, write and speak English, owns home, free of mortgage, is a home not a farm.
2. ------- Ida      Wife       White, Female, Born: Sept 1874, Age; 25, Married 4 years, mother of 2 living children, Born in Ohio, Father born in Germany, Mother born in Germany, no occupation listed, can read, write and speak English.
3. ------- Amos  Son        White, Male, Born: Jun 1897, Age 3, Single, Born in Ohio, Father born in Ohio, Mother born in Ohio
4.------- Stelman Son       White, Male, Born: Apr 1899, Age 1, Single, Born in Ohio, Father born in Ohio, Mother born in Ohio
5. Gravis, Andy, Laborer, White, Male, Born: Jun 1873, Age 27, Married 8 years, Born in Ohio, Father born in Ohio, Mother born in Ohio, Occupation; Laborer, months unemployed 4, can read, write and speak English.
6. --------, Minnie, Servant, White, Female, Born July 1869, Age 30, Married 8 years, born in Ohio, Father born in Ohio, Mother born in Ohio, Occupation, servant, zero months unemployed, can read, write and speak English.

The dwelling seems to be located not far from Burns Avenue however the numbers may have been changes or the building is no longer there.

These are some of the houses in the neighborhood. It will take some additional research to find deeds, period maps and other documentation to narrow down the actual location of the home.

There is more to this story as Amos dies in Phoenix, AZ in 1905.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lula Massey Wilson Update

An update to my earlier post of the letter written home by Lula Massey when she was teaching in a one-room school house in Whitaker, Oregon. Found this photo of Lula and her husband Wiley Milton Wilson (1873-1976) in my mother's things. It appears to be at Christmastime about 1940 in Portland, Oregon. In tracking down information on Wiley, I found a clue that led me to find the wagon train that Lula's grand-father and father had traveled to Oregon with. The following obituary was posted on http://www.ancestry.com/ by ToniR_L in the Linn-Beebe Family Tree on 14 Dec 2010

February 25, 1976

Wiley Milton Wilson, 98, Sandy, a motorman of Portland streetcars was for 36 years, died Monday.

He was born on his father's homestead on the hills above the Sandy River.

His grandfather, the Rev. James Lynn Wilson, was captain of a mule-drawn wagon train that traveled to Oregon in 1853. His father, James Harvey Wilson, served at Fort Klamath in the first Oregon Company B during the Civil War.

Mr. Wilson lived most of his life on the family homestead. He spent one winter in a tent on a claim in Southeastern Oregon. When the well on the land turned alkali, he returned to Portland.

He was the oldest member of the Retired Transit Employees.

Surviving are several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be at 11:00am, Friday at Carrolls Funeral Home, Gresham. Interment will be private.

added by Toni R. Linn, Dec 14, 2010
Obituary provided by the Oregon Historical Society

In searching for information on Rev. James Lynn Wilson and the "mule drawn" wagon train that traveled to Oregon in 1853, a http://www.google.com/ search led me to Oregon immigrant arrivals reconstructed from Donation Land Records at www.condortales.com/wagntm53gfo.html and there on the list of arrivals for 6-8 September is Lula's grandfather Sylvester C. Massey. At this time, I am assuming (I know, very dangerous for a genealogist) that his wife Paulina Skeene Massey and children Nancy Jane, William Pleasant, Mary A and Permelia Elizabeth accompanied Sylvester on the journey across the plains.

My mother has several of the objects that came across the plains... more about that later.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Grace's Freshman Year at OAC

Following graduation of High School in Newberg, Oregon, my grandmother Grace Colby enrolled at Oregon Agricultural College in Corvallis.

 The images to the left are of Grace on the campus of Oregon
Agricultural College.

The General Catalog for the school year 1921-1922 in on-line from the OSU Library and includes several interesting facts.

Registration fee payable annually on registration................ $10.00
Incidental Student fee payable each term...........................5.50
Deposit for military uniform (men) subject to refund on return..10.00
Gymnasium fee, a term........ Women, $1.50 ............Men.....2.00
Diploma fee on graduation............................................5.00
Binding fee for graduation thesis.....................................1.00
Vocational certificate fee .............................................1.00

Room deposit .......................................................3.00
Room rent for each term
     Single room .....................................................30.00
     Double room ....................................................15.00
Board per week, payable monthly in advance....................5.00
Incidentals, such as laundry, electric iron fees each term......2.00

"In general, it may be said that the necessary cost per annum, exclusive of the three personal items of clothing, carfare, and amusements, averages about $400.  In today's dollars that would be about $5,100. Still a good value.

On page 492 of the catalog, we find:
Colby, Grace Ada.............H. Ec. ...........Fr. ........Newberg

The image above is the cover of Grace's "Rook Bible" as instruction book for freshman that outlined the rules, traditions, cheers and songs of OAC.  A stern warning for freshmen appeared on the title page "HAVE THIS BOOK WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES" and 'YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ITS RULES AND INFORMATION." You can see her name written in pencil at the top.

The book contains some quaint cheers and songs. Both of my parents attended OAC then Oregon State College but they can't tell me if the cheers survived.

Here's to the men we know and love,
Beavers tried and true;
Here's to the men of the Orange line
Wiping the ground with you;
Up with the glass and pledge them,
Flashing its amber gleam,
While deep in our hearts the toast
shall be:
Here's to Old O. A. C.

Unfortunately, no music was included in the text so the tune may be lost to the ages.

Grace carefully recorded her schedule for the 1st Quarter (Sept. 19 - Dec. 1921) on the inside of cover of her Rook Bible. Her classes included; Clothing and Textiles, Art, English Composition 101, Chemistry 101, Social Ethics, Intro to Home Economics, Swimming, and Gymnasium. She did not note the name of her professors which might be interesting as a young Linus Pauling was teaching freshman chemistry at O.A.C. that Quarter.

Though all of Grace's report cards from Elementary and High School survive, we don't know how she did at OAC. We know she did well enough to return the next year and we know how she ended the spring term... by attending the Junior Prom. Unlike today, with expensive venues and limousines, their Prom was held in the Men's Gymnasium with music by Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Oswald's "Seven Serenaders."

I don't know what the Greek letters are for. Did she sit out those dances? She belonged to a sorority, so perhaps those were shorthand for a member of a fraternity?

Grace went home for the summer to a house now run by her father's new wife, the former Ada McNay. Having run the household after her mother died in 1917, it was difficult for Grace to adapt to her step-mother's particular or perhaps peculiar way of doing things. The situation was more difficult by the fact that Ada had been her mother's best friend and she had been named for her, though she had dropped the Ada from her name early on. By the time she returned to school in the fall of 1922, I think Grace had already decided she would not spend the next summer in Newberg. She arranged to go to her sister Madge Colby Branchflower's in Pendleton where she met my Grandfather Cecil Oscar Werst and never returned to O.A.C.

Grace was always proud of her colleges days and was active in the alumni association and proud to send her daughter Betty off to follow in her footsteps in Corvallis.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

From the teacher's point of view

More on what education was like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the rural United States.
This letter was written by Lula E. Massey on 21 Oct. 1900. She was a 24 year old teacher from Gervais in Marion County Oregon and was teaching at Whitaker, Linn County, Oregon. While teaching she is boarding with a local family.

Whitaker, Oregon Oct. 21, 1900
Sunday Morning

  • Dear Folks,
    I will try to write you a few lines this morning.
    Hallie I received your letter last tuesday evening and was glad to get that picture I think I shall have it framed.
    It is very stormy out this morning and the wind blows so hard there is church but I dont think I will go.
    They have been holding meeting down at Victor Point about two miles from here for the past week.
    It has almost rained continually for the last three days. I guess we are going to have to pay for those nice days we have been having.
    I suppose you all go to the church dedication this morning.
    Did Cora go home I thought of her yesterday when it was so stormy.
    Hallie, I will have to tell you about the prize fight we had at school last week. I had to laugh afterwards but I was mad at the time.
    One of the girls Mary Slagel is the largest girl coming to school she is only 15 but so large of her age she looks like she was 20 or more and Mabel Archibald is 13. I went out to the well to get a drink and all the scholars were in a bunch watching them and the two girls that were fighting were keeping watch so that I did not see them so Cassie Cooley told me after we came home and they did not see me at the well some of others did though but thought I was one of the scholars.
    I called to them and it made a sudden stop. I brought them in and they both cried a long time.
    I thought they were playing at first but I tell you they could come up with any boys.
    The scholars are good in school they whisper quite a bit but I guess they do not whisper at all as they did last term.
    Some of them have said so I was told that they could not move without I saw them.
    One little girl that had so much fun last term she would crawl under the seats and get the other childrens pencils and make the window blinds fly up in time of school told her mother so Mrs. Cooley told me that she did not have no fun this school because she could not do anything without I saw her.
    I expect you will soon sell the hops a number have sold around here lately getting 13 and 14 cts and they were quite mouldy too.
    There is quite a lot of hop yards around here.
    The people where I stay have a hop house but have plowed up their yard they said the first year they raised hops they got 37-1/2 cts and the next year 23 cts and after that they always went behind so plowed up their yard.
    The folks where I board have lots of good apples and more nice ripe pears they are going to make some cider next week I will be glad for I have been wanting some.
    Have you gathered the winter apples yet? and did you get the beans saved before it rained.
    Ma do you sell cream to the creamery now? The folks here make butter to sell.
    Have you brought the flowers in from the porch yet?
    I expect you have lots of pretty chrysanthemums now.
    I have had bouquets of the garnet and white ones for the last two weeks and lots of yellow and red dahlias brought to me.
    Mabel Archibald one of the director's kids and also the prize fighter brings me lots of pretty flowers.
    They bring me pansies just exactly like the colors we have at home it makes me think they have been pulled from our yard.
    We have quite a nice library at school but I have not read any of the books as I am tired of seeing books after school.
    After supper we sit by the  fire eat apples and play nine pins, fox and geese till bed time we go to bed about nine or ten and I generally get up about six or a little after in the morning I cannot think of a thing to write that would be news. I have not saw a Salem paper since I left home.
    I have not my books yet from Salem. Mrs Archibald were going down yesterday and I thought I would go with them but it was so stormy they did not go. I wanted to get some overgarters the mud sticks so bad I get mud on my shoes above my rubbers. They are cloth top and I can hardly get the mud out.
    I guess this is all for this time. Write soon
    Good bye,
    PS. Hallie, you can write if Ma is busy.

    The letter gives us an idea of what school was like from the teacher's perspective. According to the Lebanon (Oregon) Genealogical Society's website, "Statistics averaged for Linn county for five consecutive school years from 1899 and 1903 show that the county paid male teachers about $40 per month and female teacher $32 per month." Lula doesn't tell us how much she was paying for room and board. 

    Today Whitaker is a bend in the road in the foothills above Lebanon, Oregon. I'm still researching to see if the building that housed the school still exists.
    Lula Emma Massey was born in April 1876 Fairfield, Marion County, Oregon, the fourth of six children of William Pleasant and Lutharia Ann Ruggles Massey. Both sets of parents and grandparents had come across the Oregon Trail between 1850 and 1860. 

    This letter was among other discovered in the box belonging to her sister Cora Massey Branchflower that I posted about earlier.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

End of the 1910 Term Kirwin, Kansas District 7

As the school year comes to a close across America, students will be bringing home their final report cards for the year. This procedure is not new. The photo above is from Kirwin, Phillips County, Kansas. My grandmother Ada Grace Colby is the little girl, third from the right, with the bow in her hair.

 This is the report card Grace earned for the 1909-1910 school year.

Grace was born 21 Oct 1902 at her parent's farm about 2 miles outside of Kirwin. According to the report card, she entered the first grade at the start of the fall term, 13 September 1909 in School District No. 7.  From the inside of the card, studies included Orthography, Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Language. The term lasted seven months, ending April 8, 1910. There are also marks for Deportment (behavior) and attendance is tracked.  Grades were calculated out of 100%.

Each of the months contains 20 school day, there is no mention made of shorter months for holidays.
A parent's signature attests that they "have examined this month's report." Instructions "TO THE TEACHER" are printed on the report card for both teacher and parent to read. The Public Schools of Phillips County, Kansas make certain that "This car corresponds to the course of study outlined by the State Board of Education for the district school of Kansas. The work is divided into nine grades or year of seven months each."

It seems as if students could progress at their own rate or enter any time during the school year. Instructions included, "Where pupils are doing work in more than one grade they will be classified in the grade in which they have the greatest number of studies, but the card will show under each subject, the grade in which the pupil is doing the work in that subject.

There appear to be only 16 students in this school, which might seem a light load for the teacher Edythe P. Colby. However, looking at the relative size of the students would seem to indicate that there were several grade levels being taught. In addition to the areas of study listed above, students in high grades were taught Grammar, Geography, U. S. History, Kansas History,, Physiology, and Civil Government. So each teacher was responsible for 9 grades and up to 11 subjects.

Additional responsibilities for the teacher would include; arriving early to build a fire in the stove for heat, pumping water from the well, raising and lowering the flag, supervising recess, all grading of papers, etc. Doesn't make it seem as if having only 16 pupils in a class was a piece of cake.

Each month Grace's report card was signed by her father W. W. Colby, who had been a teacher himself in the Kirwin school district as had her mother, and three older sisters. Grace's averages ranged between 98 and 99. A strong showing for the youngest member of a family of teachers.

 One can also not that Grace has no days absent or tardy. Probably because she rode to school in the buggy with the teacher, her older sister Edythe.

Grace had written the names of most of the other students on the back of the photograph. Unfortunately, I don't have the back of the photograph electronically so their names will have to wait for another post.