Sunday, October 27, 2019

Edward Ebert Kelly died this day in 1987

Dear Ed,
I hardly knew you... of course I was curious about you... you are, after all, my husband's father. I had wanted to meet you before we were married. That didn't happen. After we returned from our honeymoon, we drove up to the Poconos so I could meet you and your wife. My Ed was not enthusiastic about the trip, but I think he agreed because he knew how important it was to me. It was difficult for my Ed, he was still smarting from your departure from his life.

Over the years, through researching your family, I've learned more about the circumstances of your life. It doesn't excuse how you treated your children but it does help us understand.

Born 3 April 1926 in Philadelphia to William Joseph and Alice Mae (Hanna) Kelly, you were the 5th child and second son. According to family lore, you were supposed to be named for your maternal grandfather Edward Everett Hanna. When your birth was registered, there was some confusion so you ended up Edward Ebert instead of Edward Everett.

William J. Kelly Family 1930 census with Edward E. Kelly underlined in red

In the 1930 Federal Census your family was living at 5326 Westminster Avenue in Philadelphia. Your father was working as a Weaver in a Cotton Mill and your older siblings were in school. Things seemed to be going well for the family even though it was the beginning of the Depression. Your sisters, Marie and Dot, used to tell us of how difficult things got for the family during the Depression. They spoke of having to move suddenly, when the family was evicted for non-payment of rent because everyone had lost their job. They explained that if no one had coins to but in the electricity meter in the house, there would be no light, no heat also if no one had the funds to purchase coal.

Things became desperate for the family when your Dad, was killed 17 Sep 1939. We have yet to find the record of the inquest so we do not know if he was killed in a fight or when he was pushed into the street and was run over by a car. There was no life insurance, nor death gratuity. The income he was bringing in ceased.

William J Kelly Death Certificate
The family was living in a typical Philadelphia brick row house at 663 N. Conestoga Street according to your mother who was the informant for your father's death certificate above. The photo, from Google, is the house as it looked in October 2018. By today's standards the house seems small for a family of 8, your younger brother John having been born late in 1930.

The row houses in this area were typically, two rooms down stair, living room or parlor, then behind the dining room and the kitchen was a lean-to attached at the back. There were two bedrooms upstairs.

By 1940, your older sisters were all working to support the family. Marie, Dot and Alice were all working as Cotton Winders in a Rubber Factory. Your older brother William had left school and was looking for work. Only you and your younger brother were in school. Aunt Marie told us that you left school at the end of the term, having finished 8th grade, and started looking for work.

The family managed to stay in the house at 663 Conestoga.

1940 Census for Kelly family recorded April 3, 1940.
We don't know how long it took for you to find work with the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspaper Company or if it was your first job. We do know you were working there when you registered for the draft on your birthday April 3, 1944. You described yourself as being 6ft tall and weighing 155 pounds with Gray eyes and brown hair and a "flesh pimple on the left hand." I wonder if any of your children remember the mark on your left hand.
World War II Draft Card for Edward Ebert Kelly from from NARA
Though your draft card does not say it, three months later your enlistment papers list your occupation as pressman and plate printer. It was an occupation that you would pursue much of your life. As a single man, without dependents, it was not surprising that you chose to enlist in the Army on July 21, 1944, you surely would have been drafted. Luckily, the war was winding down and you got only as far as Ft. Ord near Monterey, California during the two years you served.

We don't know how you met Pauline Nelda Haas. Your neighborhoods were not far apart in Philadelphia. Perhaps, one of your siblings introduced her to you. our were headed home to Philadelphia by July 6, 1946 departing from Fort Meade, Maryland. We know you and Pauline were married October 25 1947.
Edward Ebert and Pauline Nelda Kelly on their wedding day October 25, 1947
You and Pauline went on to have five terrific children, Edward William, Russell Alan, Patricia Anne, Robert Steven and Doreen Lynn Kelly. It's a shame you did not stay to see them grown. Though you reappeared in their lives now and again, I think its fair to say none of us really knew you well.

Your daughter-in-law,

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Challenge of Common Name Brick Walls: #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Post 2

Dear Grandparents,
Though I often post about your adventures centuries ago, there are those of you who remain mysteries to me. Many of you were born in 19th century America, I'm sorry to admit. When I can find European Records several centuries older it bedevils me to admit that you remain successfully hidden in my own country. The single common denominator among you is the commonality of your surnames.

First example: Elizabeth Jane Jones. I have been searching for the identities of her parents for years.
Elizabeth Jane (Jones) Gibson from family Bible in my possession
According to her daughter Sarah Amanda (Gibson) Hugunin's family Bible, she was born 2 May 1821 in Tennessee. She married Newsom Gibson 29 Dec 1840 in Davidson County, Tennessee and died 1 Jan 1895 in Chicago, Cook County, IL. I have no way to distinguish her from the others named Elizabeth Jones and connect her to her parents.

Second: William Henry Colby, my second great grandfather was born between 1827-30 in New Hampshire or perhaps NY according to records I've discovered.  I have not been able to determine which of the William or Wm Colbys listed in the 1850 Federal Census is him. He married Fanny Hutchinson Hunnewell 11 May 1855 in Lake County, Illinois. My Great Grandfather William Wallace Colby was born 16 Oct 1857 in Black Hawk County, Iowa. The other children are all born in Lake County. Usually in the census he is listed as a farmer however in the late 1870s the family is living in Logansport, Indiana and William is running a broom making business. The broom making is corraborated by a letter written by my Great Grandfather to a cousin.
William H. Colby 1900 Census Vernon Township, Lake County, Illinois
image from
I have found many William Colby's born in New Hampshire between 1825-1830 but still not the clue to link him to his parents. I have DNA matches the tie into descendants of Anthony Colby who immigrated from England with the Winthrop Fleet in 1630 but no paper trail.

Third: Another 2nd Great Grandfather Simpson Barnes' parents remain unknown.  Simpson is supposed to have been born 10 Feb 1825 in New York according to family records that I have not seen. He married Angelina Burgoyne 15 Nov 1848 in Hillsdale County, Michigan.
Simpson Barnes 1850 Census
Cambria, Hillsdale, MI image from

According to census records he also lived in Wapello County, Iowa and Jefferson County, Kansas. There are 15 other Barnes families listed in Hillsdale and surrounding counties on the 1850 census. I'm working on finding a Barnes connection that went on to Iowa and Kansas. So far, it seems he followed his wife's family.

Fourth: Nancy Carr, one of my third great grandmothers, born 5 Feb 1791 in Northampton, Pennsylvania and died 17 Apr 1871 in Wabash County, Indiana. She married Tobias Werst circa Dec 1815 in Pennsylvania and their first son Joseph Carr Werst was born there 23 Sep 1816. The family emigrated to Butler Township, Darke County, Ohio by 1830. By 1855 they are living in Wabash County, IL. Nancy named her first son Joseph Carr Werst and that is my only clue as to the name of her father. There is a Joseph Christopher Carr who died 7 Apr 1839 and is buried in Bucks County, PA not far from where Nancy (Carr) Werst was living on Keystone Run, Northampton County. Once again there are many Joseph Carrs in the area and I have not found the record that ties Nancy to one of them.
Nancy Carr Werst headstone from
Mississenwa Cemetery, Wabash County, Indiana
headstone were moved to this location
So I continued to be challenged by the common names of my ancestors. It is particularly frustrating that all these examples are on my mother's line. I have DNA matches that link me to cousins that are descendants of most of these ancestor but no one has additional information. Here's hoping that one or more of these mysteries are solved this year.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

1 Jan 2019

Dear Grandparents,
Another year has begun. Hopefully, it will be full of more genealogy research that I accomplished last year. I'm making a concerted effort this year to keep up with Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. She provides prompts to encourage writing about at least one ancestor each week. Her first prompt for 2019 is #First.

For my first post of the year, I've selected my 7th great grandfather who was known as Lieutenant Jonathan Lyman. He is the first person I can document who was born on the first of January.
Jonathan's birth listing from Vital Records
Born January 1, 1684 in Northampton, Massachusetts, Jonathan is the son of Richard and Lydia (Loomis) Lyman. He was the fifth born of their nine children. His grandfather, Richard  Lyman, had immigrated from High Ongar, Essex, England in 1631. His grandmother, Hepzibah Ford, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Cooke) Ford had immigrated in 1630 from Dorchester, England.
The Lyman family moved to Lebanon, Connecticut in 1696 with a number of other families from Northampton.

Jonathan married Lydia Loomis, daughter of Deacon Joseph and Hannah (Marsh) Loomis. They were from Windsor, Connecticut. Their marriage was recorded in the volumes of Lebanon Vital Records however, the date is illegible. Based on page number in comparison to legible dates recorded on the same pages it was about 1708. This would also agree with the birth of their first child.

Jonathan was termed Lieutenant from his service in the Train Band of the North Company of the South Society in the Town of Lebanon. He was Ensign in May of 1726 and then Lieutenant in 1729 (Barrett Wendell, Society of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston, 1906 p. 353).

Jonathan and Lydia were the parents of eleven children. six boys and five girls. Jonathan survived four of them. We are descended from their youngest child Anna Lyman who married Isaiah Tiffany.

One of the benefits of going back and looking at genealogy research that was done in the past is that it creates a new to-do list. I had not previously found Jonathan's will. Now I have it and will be transcribing it tomorrow. There will be lots to decipher including more that six pages of inventory. Jonathan signed his will and a quick glance at it reveals there were several books in the inventory so I assume he was literate.

Amanda, Ed and I visited Lebanon in 2015. We did not find a headstone for Jonathan in the old cemetery but he is most likely buried there.

Happy 335th Birthday, Grandfather Jonathan,