Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The History of "Real Photo" postcards

Through my work I have been blessed with the task of scanning in a large collection of World War I-era photographs. The photographs were taken by a Soldier during 1918/19 and feature images of the French and German countryside, burned-out churches and even a battlefield scene. Rare images to be sure. Many of them have white writing on the front and all of them are printed as postcards. While I have seen "real photo" postcards before, these photographs made me wonder where they had come from and how had the Soldier been able to make prints that included scrawled information on the print?
A sample of a WWI photo with hand-written caption. From the Library of Congress.
"Real photo" postcards, also know as RPPC, are actual photographs printed on sensitized paper using glass plates or film negatives. From 1905 to the 1930s real photo postcards opened photography to everyday people, hence an explosion of photos and the mailing of photo postcards. Many of us have at least a few real photo postcards in our collection.
Fred Jacobson, a distant cousin through my Butler line.
The reverse side of the above photo.
"Dear Isabell, I had this taken on my way home and forgot my tie. Isn't it a joke. With love, Frederick."

The example above is a photo of a distant cousin in my Butler line. Notice on the back that Fred mentions he had this photo "taken on my way home." It is a good example of the new immediacy of photography at the turn of the century.

Robert Bogdan and Todd Weseloh have written a great book about RPPCs: Real Photo Postcard Guide: The People's Photography. They discuss the impact of real photo postcards on photography and society. The book is available here in preview format on Google Books. The book also includes many references and is a guide for dating your RPPC.

On page 43, Bogdan and Weseloh answer my question as to how the Soldier was able to write a caption on the front of the photo. It appears that they probably did this to the negative prior to printing the card.

I must say that I am very smitten with RPPC. Without them, I might have had no photographic record of many of my ancestors. Have RPPCs changed your genealogical research?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Surname Saturday - Akers

This week I received an email from a cousin stating that we were related through the Akers line. My first thought was "wonderful!" My second thought was, "I don't know much about that line." His email gave me some motivation to learn more about this line.

I am related to the Akers through my mother's side of the family. Mary Ellen Akers, my 4th great grandmother, is the first Akers in my line. She was born in Ray County, Missouri in 1833 to Joseph Akers and Elizabeth Heard.
Mary Ellen Akers married Colonel Henderson Megonnigil in Ray County, Missouri on April 21, 1850. They had six children: Lucinda (1851), Mary Isabel (1854), Elizabeth (1857), Annie (1864), John Nelson (1866) and Malinda (1869). I have yet to determine when Mary Akers Megonnigil died. The last record I have found of her is the 1870 census.
I was able to connect Mary to her parents based on a biography of her brother, James, in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Clay, Ray, Carroll, Chariton, and Linn counties, Missouri published in 1893.
Notice that the biography states his parents were Joseph and Elizabeth (Heard) Akers and that there were five children to this union: Sarah, Catharine, James, Mary and Marion. It also states that as of 1893 all of the siblings but James were dead. That narrows down Mary's death date.

However, the biography does not give much information on Joseph Akers or Elizabeth Heard Akers. I have found many trees online with information about Joseph but so far I have found no sources other than the above to connect Mary to Joseph and Elizabeth or to the next generation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - More Happy ladies

My aunt, Grandma and mom sometime in the early 1980s. This was taken during the Christmas celebration at Clifton and Hazel White's house.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

From Cradle to Grave - Cora Bell Ozias Kuhn, Part II

Read From Cradle to Grave - Cora Bell Ozias Kuhn, Part I here.

Cora Bell Ozias Kuhn was my second great-grandmother on my paternal side. When we left off from her story it was 1894 and she was recently married to her second husband, James H. Martin. Cora picked up her sons and moved them with her new family to Nebraska for five years. By 1900 the family has moved again to Baldwin City, Kansas.
Martin and Kuhn family 1900 census
The family lives here for the next twenty years. By 1910 all three sons have moved out and Mabel, her step-daughter, is the only child left at home.
Martin Family on 1910 census
This photo was part of a collection of Kuhn family photos I borrowed from a cousin. The only note on the photo is its location. Based on the vehicle, I have to wonder if this is the home of Cora and James Martin.
In 1920, the family is in the same location, but now there is a new child listed: Claude E. Gates. I have found no information regarding this individual, but I assume that he was adopted or that Cora and James were just providing a home for him.
Martin family on 1920 census
Sometime between 1920 and 1925 things went a little off for Cora. In the 1925 Kansas census she is found in Holton, Johnson County, Kansas, but with a new husband: Lemuel B. Wolverton. With them lives a ward, William Felt.
Wolverton family on 1930 census
I have found no information regarding this third marriage for Cora. I do know that James Martin was still alive, so she was not widowed. Another case of irreconcilable differences I assume. And this is where the records for Cora stop. I can not find her or Lemuel Wolverton on the 1940 census. She died February 1, 1953 at the home of her son, F. E. Kuhn, in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. According to her death certificate she had lived in Pleasant Hill for 10 years so she must have moved there sometime around 1943.
Cora is buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Pleasant Hill, Missouri
 
Cora went through some trying times in her life. She moved countless times across four different states, dealt with the deaths of many loved ones and reared at least six children. There are no known photos of Cora, which I find odd since she lived into the 1950s. I won't give up hope that there is one somewhere. One thing I noticed about Cora is that throughout her life she used the initial "K." Regardless of who she was married to she maintained her attachment to her first husband, Frank Kuhn. It's possible that she did this for her children, but I like to think that she was maintaining a tie to her first love.
 
Missing items:
 
- Cora on the 1940 census.
- A photo of Cora (I'll reach out to cousins for this one).

Saturday, October 20, 2012

From Cradle to Grave - Cora Bell Ozias Kuhn

Cora Bell Ozias was my 2nd-great-grandmother on my father's paternal side. She was born in Independence, Iowa in August 25, 1864 to John C. and Christine (Potterf) Ozias.
 
Independence was the county seat of Buchanan County and a thriving community on the banks of the Wapsipinicon River.
Photo of the Wapsipinicon Feed Mill, Independence, Iowa. Built in 1854, this was a sight that Cora Bell was sure to have seen during her life time. Photo by J. Stephen Conn, via Flickr.
In 1870, Cora is living with her parents in Byron, Iowa, just northeast of Independence. Cora lives with her parents, six siblings and her grandmother. The family appears to be financially comfortable and even has a domestic servant.

By 1875 the family has moved to Nemaha County, Kansas. They had also spent time in Missouri as Cora's newest sibling, Nanny, was born there. According to the census she was only 5 months old so the family's arrival in Kansas was in late 1874 or early 1875.
The next five years must have been very turbulent for young Cora. Her father dies in 1876 and her mother is left to care for her nine children on her own. Four of her siblings have moved out of the house and young Nanny has died. In 1880 the family still lives in Nemaha County, Kansas, and it appears that young William Ozias at age 18 is now the man of the house.
On December 31, 1882 Cora married Frank E. Kuhn in Nemaha County, Kansas. Frank was the first-born son of Philip and Bertha Kuhn. The couple's first child, Maurice Elmer Kuhn, was born August 29, 1884 and their second son, Frank Earl Kuhn, was born October 11, 1886, both in Nemaha County.
 
Tragedy struck poor Cora's life once again when Frank died of typhoid fever on October 16, 1887. She was now alone with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. According to a biography on her son, F.E. Kuhn, Cora chose to send her son (it is not clear whether both children went) to live with an uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. J.K. Anderson, in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. He stayed with these relatives for eight years.
 
It's unclear what Cora did in the meantime. We'll pick up with Cora at her marriage in 1894 in our next installment.
 
Missing pieces: Where was Cora in 1888-1894?


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Boy with carriage

My brother, Scott, at Silver Dollar City May 1974

Monday, October 15, 2012

Military Monday - American War Dads

Last week I was re-reading the obituary for my great-grandfather, F. E. Kuhn, which mentioned his charter membership in the American War Dads. I had never heard of this group before so I decided to do a little more research.

The American War Dads was a non-profit group started May 12, 1942 in Kansas City, Missouri, by Nat Milgrim, a grocery store executive. He got the inspiration for the group during a visit to his son at Camp Lee, Virginia. All of the men in his son's unit donated $1.25 from their pay to buy war bonds, an inspiration to Milgram.

"When I saw those boys do that, knowing they didn't have much left over after odds and ends are taken care of, I made up my mind fathers can give the boys some encouragement they aren't getting from anyone else," Milgram said in an AP wire news story dated May 12, 1942.

Milgrim's plan for the group was various volunteer opportunities to include letter-writing campaigns and care packages for servicemembers. He also hoped to ensure that inductees received a "rousing send-off" to camp. The only requirement for membership was one must have had a son or foster son serving in the military.

I have not been able to find much information on the organization online. However, it is clear that it was a popular idea as local chapters begun to spring up all over the United States. Based on various newspaper articles from the time it appears that the group turned in to a major national organization and it still has active chapters today, though I do not believe that the national headquarters still exists.
I found this Officer's manual for American War Dads on eBay and had to have it. I can't help but think that my great-grandfather may have held something similar during his time as a member. I also reached out to the Pleasant Hill Historical Society, Pleasant Hill, Missouri and asked if they were familiar with the group. They found some articles on it in their files and will be sending me copies.

Is anyone familiar with the American War Dads? I would love to find out more so please share your stories.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

From Cradle to Grave - William T. Burnett

William T. Burnett was my second-great grandfather on my father's side. He was born January 16, 1861 in Kingsville, Missouri to Thomas Jefferson Burnett and Harriet Potts. I don't know much about William other than his appearance on various census documents.
William is found on the 1870 census in Cass County, Missouri with his parents and sisters.
In 1880 the family has moved to Kingsville in Johnson County, Missouri and William is listed as working on a farm, presumably his father's.

Now we lose William for twenty years, thanks to the loss of the 1890 census. We pick William up again in 1900.
He has been very busy! The 1900 census gives us a lot of information on William. He was married sometime around 1886 and has had four children: Iola, Audrey (my great-grandfather), Irene and Oliver. The family now lives at 2615 Harvard Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri. I can find no official record of his marriage to Mattie or Martha Landes in 1886.

In the 1910 census Martha Burnett is listed at 3020 Montgall Ave., Kansas City, Missouri.
William is noticeably missing. And Martha is listed as a widow. Sad. However, I know that William isn't dead because I already have his death certificate listing his death in 1932. Interesting.

In 1920 Martha is living with her daughter, Lola, and is listed as divorced. In 1930 she is again in Lola's household and listed as widowed. Make up your mind already! Is the kat dead or not? During these years I have not been able to find William with any concrete proof. I found one potential match but he is married with additional children, none of which are mentioned in his obituary.
William T. Burnett's obituary printed in The Kansas City Times April 28, 1932
His obituary lists Mattie as his widow. And, at the time of his death he is living with his brother, Marion. So what happened between 1900 and 1932?
William is buried in Kingsville Cemetery, Kingsville, Missouri, along with his parents. I have not found any information on a divorce between William and Martha. I'm not even sure where to look. They would have been living in Jackson County, Missouri, so I'll start there.

William's missing pieces:

- Where was he between 1900 and 1932?
- Divorce decree between William and Martha.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Girls having fun

My mom, on the left, having some fun with her mother and sister. I'm thinking this is mid-1970s.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday's Tip - From Cradle to Grave; finding the gaps in your research

I'm at a strange place with my genealogy research. I've reached pretty far back in time on all of my lines and have found fantastic things. However, I can't reach any further back with just my friend the Internet. I'll have to hit ground to learn more about each line. But that means a road trip out east...not going to happen right now.

So, I'm left to delve deeper into the more recent lines. Those that I can track down holes in my research utilizing the Internet or, gasp, snail mail. It feels like I've covered the ground on my great and great-great grandparents pretty thoroughly, but I'm sure there are gaps.  I have found that if I pick an ancestor and outline their life from birth to death in writing, I can easily pinpoint what I'm missing or, what I can add to better round out my research.

Minnie Lee White and Elizabeth Dudgeon
To that end I have decided to begin a new series on my blog entitled Cradle to Grave. I will choose an ancestor and follow my document trail of their life from birth to death. Through forcing myself to write this information I will find the documentary gaps I have for each ancestor and narrow my research focus. It may not be tantalizing reading, but it could help fellow researchers and it will definitely help me!

I'll post the first iteration in the series on October 11 focusing on William T. Burnett my dead, not dead again, second-great grandfather.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Message to Garcia: Roycrofters' pamphlet

A few days ago I wrote about the short story A Message to Garcia. Written in 1898 by Elbert Hubbard, it is a story highlighting the importance of self-motivation and loyalty among employees to the company or organization they support.

Nancy of My Ancestors and Me wrote and said she would like to see some scans of the pamphlet of the story as printed by Elbert Hubbard's company, The Roycrofters. I am happy to oblige below. These scans are from a 1917 version of the pamphlet from my personal collection.
Cover of a 1917 printing of A Message for Garcia.

Inside front cover.
The first page of the short story.
Inside back cover.
I love the design elements of this piece. I have always thoroughly enjoyed the design of the Arts and Crafts movement and this is a good example. For more information on Elbert Hubbard or The Roycrofters, visit the following links:

Elbert Hubbard, Roycroft and the Arts & Crafts Movement in America
The Roycroft Campus Corporation
The Roycroft Inn
The Roycrofters


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Can you date furniture?

I love antique stores. I could walk through them for hours, but I'm "cheap" and hardly ever buy anything. A couple of weeks ago we were walking through our favorite local antique and collectible store and this armoire jumped out at me.
I instantly fell in love with it. My husband, who is not cheap, was shocked when I said I wanted it. It was listed at $200 and we bought it for $170. I was instantly drawn to the carvings on the front.

This piece did not come with any information and there are no markings on it to indicate where or by whom it was made. It was clearly built as an armoire as you can see the bar for hanging clothes and the mirror mounted on the door.
The liners on the shelf are cut up place mats from Target (By the way, I am one short and my Target is sold out of these mats so if you find a red and white place mat at your Target let me know!). I plan to use this armoire to store my plethora of quilting kitsch and fabric.

I would love to know the approximate date of this piece. Can you date furniture?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Clifton White with car

Clifton White with vehicle and tape marks. Date unknown, but presumably early 30s.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Military Monday - A Message to Garcia

A Message to Garcia was never meant to be the inspirational piece that it has become. The author, Elbert Hubbard, penned the short story to fill an empty space in the March 1899 publication of his magazine, The Philistine. Before he knew it, he was receiving request after request for his short story to be printed in pamphlet form. Employers all over the world wanted their employees to read A Message to Garcia.

In the story, Hubbard tells the story of Lt. Andrew Rowan, who was chosen by President McKinley to carry a message to General Calixco y Inigues Garcia, leader of the rebel Cuban troops at war with Spain in 1898. Rowan was assigned to find General Garcia in the wilds of Cuba, announce the support of the U.S. and find appropriate points of debarkation for U.S. troops. All of this without being captured by Spanish troops.

A heroic event in and of itself. But the journey was not what Hubbard highlighted in his story. He chose instead to celebrate the "how" of Rowan's journey. Rowan did not ask the President how to find Garcia, where he was, how to carry the message, how to charter a boat. He just did it. Without questions, without complaint, without issue. This commitment to duty was his true legacy.
Colonel Andrew S. Summers
You'll find A Message to Garcia on many military reading lists and its story resonates even today. Lt. Rowan was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel for his bravery. He retired from the Army as a Colonel in 1909 and he died in 1943. Hubbard, the author, was a successful businessman and leader in the Arts and Crafts movement. He and his wife were killed aboard the Lusitania.

Read A Message to Garcia with a special preface by the author here. You can read Lt. Col. Rowan's version of the the story here.