Monday, February 28, 2011

Mystery Monday - Joseph P. Myers

Joseph P. Myers was born 19 June 1883 to Dorance D. and Mary Matilda Pratte Myers of Dubuque, Iowa.  Dorance ran a successful family business as a wholesale manufacturer of cigars and tobacco products at least through the years 1910 through the 1920s. 

Joseph served in World War I as a First LT in the 133rd Infantry. In 1921, he married Marie Spahn, and they had two daughters, Ann M. Myers and Jeanne A. Myers.  In 1930 he was president of an automobile company.  Joseph P. Myers died 10 June 1949 and is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Dubuque, IA.

Joseph’s life seems rather routine, until you trace him through the years 1904 through 1909 when his life becomes pretty bizarre. In 1904 Joseph was a student, possibly at Cornell University, living in Tompkins County, New York.  That same year he married Lena Stanley of Trumansburg, NY, just a few miles northwest.  The marriage took place, however, in a town on the east side of the lake with the minister’s family as witnesses, which might indicate that none of Lena’s family were in attendance. The 1905 New York census shows Lena Stanley Myers living at home with her parents; in February 1906, a son was born to Lena. This baby was given up for adoption.

In late August 1906, Lena Stanley Myers filed for an annulment of her marriage to Joseph Myers. By this time Lena had moved to Madison County, NY where her married sister lived, but the annulment papers were filed in Tioga County.  Lena stated in the official annulment document that the marriage had never been consummated, she and Joseph had never lived together, and she had had no contact with Joseph until the trial in the fall of 1906. Lena stated that as soon as they were married, Joseph confessed he suffered from a serious communicable disease, and consequently they never lived together.  For the annulment proceedings in September 1906 Joseph traveled from St. Paul, MN where he was living at the time, to Tioga County.  He swore that everything Lena said was true and he paid all court costs.  There was no mention of a baby in these proceedings.

Since the baby was adopted, its birth certificate is sealed forever. Even if it could be revealed, Lena might not have given the father’s name.  The adoption papers for this child, however, show the baby’s name as that of the foster parents, even before the adoption took place.

By 1910 Joseph was in Dubuque, IA, living in the family home that was occupied by his unmarried siblings.   

It seems that with each piece of information we find on Joseph’s life, another question presents itself. We continue to work on this conundrum, and the questions we would love to find the answers to are:
-       Was Lena and Joseph’s marriage contrived? If so, why? Or, was it she brought back home by an overbearing father?
-       Who was the father of Lena’s child? Is it Joseph, the foster father, or ?
-       Was perjury committed with their annulment document?

This is one of the most interesting and challenging cases we have ever worked on, and we continue to work on solving the mystery of Lena Stanley and Joseph P. Myers.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Surname Saturday - Grover Family

A branch of my Aunt Beverly Shepard Agard’s family genealogy is the Grover family line, which is her mother’s maiden name.  For some reason, I could not find this family on any census in the Wellsville, New York area.  Such an uncomplicated name, I did, however, try several variations of spellings.  I finally called my aunt, who I found out is in a body cast because she had a recent fall.  She told me she was feeling quite sorry for herself that day, but as we talked and I asked her questions about her mom and that side of the family, my Aunt Beverly seemed to perk up.  Once she told me the names of her grandparents, Jacob and Annis Grover, I quickly found them on the 1900 census. Why I couldn’t before remains a mystery, and I shall blame the genealogy gremlin for that. Possibly the gremlin wanted me to give Beverly a call.

I do hope the Grover family lived in a large house, because in the 1900 census, I found Jacob and Annis living with eight of their children, and one son-in-law.  The married daughter living in the house with her husband was Nellie Grover Baldwin; he was Harry Baldwin, a stonemason. Another daughter was shown to be married one year, Edith Zuletbalt (sp), but without husband. Beverly’s mother, Ethel Grover was four years old.

Going back a generation, Jacob’s parents were Isaac and Delight Grover.  They lived in Rathbone, Steuben County, NY.

I ran off what I had so far on the Shepard genealogy and mailed it off to my aunt.  I look forward to calling her again to get more information on her mother’s siblings.  I am happy to report we are off and running with the Grover family history.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy - Timmy Bear and Ginny Doll

This is a difficult topic, because I had a number of favorite toys. I loved to play dolls, and had many in which I lined up on chairs with small tables and taught them school.  I spent hours playing with my metal dollhouse, and then paper dolls were all the rage.  But I over the years two special toys are still with me.

When I was six years old I had my tonsils out.  After the surgery my throat was so sore! I couldn’t talk and didn’t even appreciate the Ginger Ale and ice cream I was allowed to eat.  The day after my surgery, my parents arrived with a Gund Teddy Bear. He was black with pink around his face and chest. His eyes opened and closed. I remember being so happy to receive this bear, and so frustrated that I couldn’t say, “Thank You” out loud to my parents. But they knew I had tried. I named that bear Timmy and he is still with me today, showing much wear from much love over the years.  It wasn’t too long ago that my mother told me the story behind Timmy.  She and my father were walking through Kresge’s Department Store in Ithaca, NY that morning and saw these Teddy Bears displayed.  Looking at the price tag my mother said she thought they were just too expensive; my father said he was getting one for me anyway.  Timmy was always my favorite and I dressed him up just like my dolls.
Timmy and I
75th Street Duplex
Anna Maria Island, Florida
 And then about fifth grade Ginny dolls were all the rage. I was given one with a couple of outfits. My blond haired Ginny had leg and arm joints that moved, and she was so much fun to dress up in her various outfits. At that time new outfits were $1.25 on up. My mother felt this was too much money to spend so she made a number of Ginny’s outfits out of scrap material. Mom commented that it was easier to make a dress for herself than one for Ginny since the pattern was so tiny.  A year later Ginny was joined by her long-legged sister, Jill.  I still have these two dolls and most of their outfits. A few years ago my sister was kind enough to purchase for me a real honest to goodness Ginny trunk in which I could keep my favorite doll and her wardrobe.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Vernon (NY) Village Cemetery

Every so often we come across a real “gem” in our research.  My husband came upon the Vernon (NY) Village Cemetery (aka Cooper Cemetery) site when he was doing research on a friend’s family line.  This cemetery of over 1,100 burials has a photo of almost every stone and when available, the obit is included – see below for the obit on Lena Blaskett next to a photo of her stone. We can’t thank Bea Lastowicka enough for her dedication and hard work.  The link will take you to the website of the Vernon Village Cemetery.

Utica Daily Press Monday March 2, 1970
Mrs. Lena S. Blaskett, 85, of 203 Prospect St., Sherrill, widow of George E. Blaskett, died Saturday in her home. The funeral will be from Craig W. Crowell Funeral Home. Burial will be in Vernon Village Cemetery.
Oneida County
New York, USA
Created by: Bea Lastowicka
Record added: Oct 21, 2009 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Fritz Piepenburg

In 1937 Elizabeth Nunn Siebert married Fritz Piepenburg. In 1930, Fritz was living in Union, N.J. He was of German descent. Fritz Piepenburg died in Roselle Park, New Jersey on 16 August 1950. His obituary in the New York Times states:

Fritz Piepenburg of 10 Charles Street, owner of a restaurant here for many years, died yesterday at the Alexian Brothers Hospital in Elizabeth after a brief illness. He was born in Germany 63 years ago. He was an Elk.  His widow Elizabeth S. Piepenburg, a brother, William and a sister, Mrs. Frieda Hahn, survive.

I continue to search for Elizabeth’s death date as well as any information on her sister, Eva Siebert.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Surname Saturday - Gormley Brothers from Ireland

In reviewing notes fom September 2008 in my handy composition notebook, I came across information I had jotted down from the 1910 Federal Census.

In that census I noted that Patrick and Maggie Doyle (my paternal great-grandparents) who lived in a Manhattan apartment had as boarders three brothers with the last name of Gormley – James b: abt 1880; Patrick b: abt 1886; and Michael b: abt 1889.

James and Patrick Gormley were employed as laborers in a car stable; Michael worked as a doorman at a hotel. By 1920 the Gormley brothers had moved out of the Doyle apartment – and other “cousins” had moved in.  I have not traced these gentlemen further, so if there are any Gormley family researchers out there I would be interested in learning more about them. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Follow Friday - Citing Online Sources

Each morning, while curled up with my coffee, I check the Geneabloggers website [] to see what’s new, and if there are any items of interest in the daily prompts. Yesterday I read an interview with Elizabeth Shown Mills on the correct way to cite online sources, plus other tidbits of advice on citing bizarre items like wallpaper!

Citing source material is probably one of the hardest and most tedious jobs a researcher has, and citing online information is even more difficult. How many times have we clicked and clicked through a site and finally found a tidbit on our ancestor!! We scurry to jot down the pertinent information, and then click again hoping to find more – completely forgetting to stop and cite.  Well, I have.

I have printed the interview with Elizabeth Shown Mills, as she not only clearly outlines what needs to be cited, but shares examples of how those citations should appear. She explains citations are like layers, and with an online source, you are adding one, if not more, layers.  Doing it correctly the first time through will save you time while allowing others to verify the information you have provided.

Thankful Thursday - Five Generations of Agards

The above photo represents one of several five generations in our Agard-Nunn family. The baby is my brother Edward F. Nunn, Jr. (Skip), his mother, Carol Agard Nunn, her father (left) Merritt Agard, his father (right) Arthur Charles Agard, and seated is John Wesley Agard. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Blogs and Journals - A Lesson Learned

My husband volunteers at the local Family History Center.  Recently one of the volunteers gave him a DVD of an April 2010 conference held in Salt Lake City, A Celebration of Family History.  The DVD is a wonderful compilation of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a talk by Latter Day Saints President Henry B. Eyring, a talk by Historian David McCullough, and wonderful family history research stories.  In his talk, David McCullough stated he tells his students if they want to be famous, all they need to do is keep a journal. Keep a journal; write down what is happening and how you feel about it.  In our increasing virtual world that information is becoming scarce.

His words have been resonating with me, because I have tried to keep a journal; in fact I have at least four almost empty journals sitting on my shelves right now.  My plan for a page a day went awry when I found myself writing way too much, and so I got discouraged.

I know that through blogging I am sharing and preserving my genealogy research, but I also know I should document the other parts of my life. To do this successfully I need to develop a formula for journal writing.  I will work on that and then add to my Genealogy Goals for 2011 – Keep a Journal.  Wish me luck!

A Lesson Learned
I am in possession of twenty years of my great grandmother’s diaries. She started writing a diary in 1944 because of the war. I learned that she went to the small town of Jacksonville, NY each week to wrap bandages for the troops.  She would document how many bandages she was able to make. Occasionally there would be a birth, marriage or death mentioned, but for the most part the information was disappointing. I knew the temperature that day, and what area of the house she cleaned. I learned that my great grandfather came over from the barn for lunch, and that their son stopped by. But as for what was going on in the community, economic, social, political, there was nothing. And there was nothing of how she felt about her life or what was happening in the world.  I started to transcribe those diaries of Jessie Tucker Agard and have labeled the document, “Life on the Farm.”  They begin like this:

January 5 - Rather mild -Addie [Tucker] went up to Merritt’s while Arthur went to Trumansburg. She sent a box of clothing to Asbury Park by parcel post. Addie and I went to the Red Cross with Alice. There were seven of us to make surgical dressings. I made 110. It is very interesting work. January 6 -Not very cold -Addie went to Asbury Park today. Marian and I took her to the Black Diamond at noon. I did some shopping. It got colder in the p.m. Very windy. We got home at 3:30 in time to do some extra washing. I ironed two dresses. January 7 – Cold - Cleaned the rooms for the weekend. Was too tired to go to the WCSC tea at Julia Lueder’s. Have felt like grip, but guess I am going to fight it off by being careful. Got a nice letter from Adeline. The sun has gone back almost to the big barn when it rises. January 8 - 9 a.m. 2 above zero; cold wind -Emma Kelsey’s funeral. Went to spend Christmas with her brother, Tom. All had flue. Emma taken to hospital. Had pneumonia. Baked bread, blueberry pie, hickory nut cake. Martha Schwartz gave me the hickory nuts last year. Bill, Marian and Johnnie Will went to Ithaca in p.m. Stayed to supper at LaRue’s.

I suspect that our genealogy blogs and personal journals will greatly help future historians and genealogists with their particular research.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mystery Monday - Emma Nunn Dorn

We had a successful morning searching for obits in the Bradenton Herald.  I was thrilled to find the obit for my grandfather, Harry J. Nunn, because it further confirmed that he was indeed part of the Nunn family that I have been searching. Remember, his birth certificate stated his name was “Ignortz,” the 1900 Federal Census listed him as “Henry,” and he was known at the Peekskill Home and into the future as “Harry.”  By any name, I knew this was our “Pop.”   Finding mention in his obit of one of his siblings, Emma Dorn, was the icing on the cake.  I had suspected that Emma married someone named Dorn, but until now I couldn’t prove it.  

If there are any relatives of Emma Nunn Dorn out there – I would love to hear from you and share the wonderful stories I have found on this family!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Family Vacations - Bradenton, Florida

After my grandfather, Harry Nunn, retired from the New York City Public Works Department in 1946, he and Nana decided to move from their home on Krueger Avenue in the Bronx to Florida.  My mother’s parents knew folks, the Doxstaders, who had moved from Ithaca to Bradenton, Florida, so that became the destination. 

My parents and grandparents drove to Florida and upon arrival in Bradenton immediately connected with the Doxstaders, who took them to the local trailer sales and helped them pick out just the right one.  My grandparents purchased a small trailer home, had it delivered to the Bradenton Kiwanis Trailer Park (noted as the largest trailer park in the world at that time), and were able to sleep in it that very evening.  The trailer did not have a bathroom, so they had to walk to the park’s bathhouse to wash and use the facilities. 
Nana and Pop outside their new Florida home
abt 1948
Their small trailer became our family vacation destination for many years.  Sleeping arrangements were creative; I was on a cot set up in the tiny kitchen area after dishes were done, and my brother slept in our station wagon.  We did not mind.

Those were the years of the warm Florida winters.  Each day we drove the Tamiami Trail to Sarasota’s Lido Beach where we swam and played in the sand.  Catching coquinas as they dug into the sand after each wave was one of our favorite pastimes.  When they dried, we spread their colorful shells like butterfly wings.

My grandmother always had a delicious dinner awaiting us. Roast pork, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh green beans and tossed salad was one of our favorite meals.  There was always something delicious for dessert, and of course, sweet fresh picked grapefruit was always available. My mouth waters just to think about it. 

In later years, my father purchased a cabana for the trailer that doubled the size and included a small bathroom. What a treat that was for the family.

Watching the state-of-the-art RVs on the Interstates today reminds me of that little trailer of the 1950s.  In spite of its limited space, we made do and created wonderful family memories.
Left: Ed and Harry Nunn; right: Mary Ellen Nunn
Lido Beach
Abt 1953