Album Rescue Project: Photos 12-13

These next two photos provide some exciting clues:

Photo 12

Reverse of Photo 12 "Shippensburg"

We have a location for all of the most recent photos! Shippensburg, Penn. Hooray! This all but confirms to me that the Red Bridge Park photo also was in Pennsylvania.

Next is an even more exciting clue.

Photo 13

Reverse of Photo 13 "Maud Geedy, Hazel Walters"

Names! First and last! I found Maud Geedy and Hazel Walters at age 16 in the 1920 U.S. Census in Shippensburg (their descendants are future candidates for having a photo or two returned to them!). The Geedy family was on South Washington Street and the Walterses on North Earl Street. These streets run about parallel, after looking them up on Google Maps, and are separated by about five blocks in between.

After inspecting this photo closer, note all the American flags that are attached to the arbor in the background. Might this have been Labor Day weekend in 1915? A photo in a previous post was dated September 1915. Labor Day was first celebrated in 1912. WWI had commenced, but the U.S. isn’t involved yet… (Actually, in reviewing some of the photos I’ve already posted, I don’t see those flags in the gazebo/arbor. This photo may have been taken on a different day entirely.)

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 1

It’s the first week of the new genealogy blog prompt series 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy, and not only am I barely squeaking in a post, but I’m breaking the rules already. Here’s the prompt:

Week 1 – Blogs: Blogging is a great way for genealogists to share information with family members, potential cousins and each other. For which blog are you most thankful? Is it one of the earliest blogs you read, or a current one? What is special about the blog and why should others read it?”

I’m simply going to talk about a blog that I love and it’s not even really a genealogy blog. Streets of Salem is a treasure that I follow in Google Reader. I don’t always remember to check it (since it’s not under my Genealogy tab in Google Reader), but I’m always glad when I do.

The blog is written by a history professor in Salem, Mass. (a town that I adore from having visited several times when I lived in New England). Her posts cover just about anything (food, art, home furnishings) that she might see around town. So how does this relate to genealogy?

The blog is very thorough, delving in-depth into each topic. As a genealogist, I can appreciate that. Sometimes, she captures simply a moment in time (holiday decorations around town last month) and in others, she reveals the way a certain topic was portrayed in years gone by (see her recent Calendar Girls post).

These observations add color to the dry data we often conjure up about our ancestors using census and other records. If you have an ancestor from Salem or its surroundings, I highly recommend you check this blog often.

PS — Thank you, Amy Coffin, for this new series!

Help Preserve an Historic African American Neighborhood: The Hill in Easton, Md.

I’m posting the below on behalf of Historic Easton. If you could help spread the word by sharing the link to this blog post, we are in need of stories about The Hill neighborhood and also donations to support an archaeological dig this summer to help us better understand and preserve the area.

Donations can be sent to Historic Easton, PO Box 1071, Easton, MD 21601. We are a 501 (c) (3) corporation, so gifts are tax deductible. Stories about the area can be sent to HistoricEaston@gmail.com and will be used to help illustrate life in the neighborhood over the years.

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Morgan State University in partnership with Historic Easton, Inc. is embarking on a project to raise the awareness, appreciation and understanding of a currently undocumented and underrecognized aspect of the history of the African American experience in Maryland and in the Country as they seek to not only include the architectural and cultural significance of “The Hill,” located in the heart of the Town of Easton, Maryland, and within the boundaries of the Easton National Register Historic District, but to Re-Honor “The Hill”; through restoration, rebirth, renewal and regeneration.

We believe “The Hill” is the oldest African American neighborhood in the country, predating what is thought of as the oldest documented African American neighborhood: “Treme” located in New Orleans, LA.

“The Hill” was first settled prior to 1790 as a neighborhood comprising free blacks and slaves. It is documented that the first African American church congregation began on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and on “The Hill” officially in 1818 (Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 110 South Hanson Street, Easton, Maryland). Free blacks and slaves were already living there well before 1818 and arguably thriving and well-settled as “The Hill” was chosen by the African Methodist Episcopal Baltimore Conference of 1816 to found the first African American Church organization on the Eastern Shore of Maryland starting at “The Hill.”

Whereas, “Treme” is currently  documented as the oldest African American neighborhood in the country (1810 land purchased by the City of New Orleans and subdivided in 1816 to sell lots to blacks) and is nationally recognized as the birth of Jazz; the Morgan State research effort will document that “The Hill” is older, as it was settled by 1790; and it is also underrecognized as the birth of African American Methodism on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Lunch with President Kennedy

When my grandfather was serving in the Army in Germany, he was invited to a luncheon in honor of President Kennedy. One of my aunts showed me the souvenirs that he held onto after the day, including his ticket and the program with menu. I took photos of the items (click on the images for larger versions).

Something tells me presidential luncheon menus have gotten a bit fancier since the 1960s. Also, can you find the typo in the menu?

Dr. Moody’s Sanitarium, San Antonio, Texas

October 29 is the birthday of my great-grand aunt Josefa Wild (b. 1873). In searching for her in various records, I found her in a sanitarium in 1930 on the U.S. Census.

The name of the facility was Dr. Moody’s Sanitarium (I know, what a name!). I’ve always been kind of fascinated by older mental health facilities. Such facilities often developed quite a reputation over time. Check out the documentary “Cropsey” to see what I mean.

I wanted to find out more about the sanitarium where my relative stayed. I found several resources via Google. This Texas State Historical Society article described the sanitarium as a 75-bed facility founded by two brothers. I found this ad for the facility in an issue of the Texas State Journal of Medicine on Google Books.

This find on Google Images shows a treatment room at the sanitarium with lots of interesting looking paraphernalia.

I found another article that gave the address of the facility. When I looked up the address on Google Maps, Street View was available (see below). I wonder if those buildings are the old sanitarium? They kind of look like the buildings in the ad above…

The sanitarium even got a mention in this article on haunted sites in San Antonio.

I haven’t found out why Josefa was in the sanitarium or how long she stayed there, but it’s been neat to learn more about the facility.

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

Maria Jesusa Delgado Curbelo Smith Lee

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

To look at me, you would never guess that I have Spanish ancestry, but one of my fourth great-grandmothers was Maria Jesusa Delgado Curbelo. She married my fourth great-grandfather William John Smith (aka John William Smith), the first mayor of San Antonio and an Alamo messenger.

Maria’s exact birthdate is up for debate, but the most recent source I found (her gravestone) lists it as Christmas of 1815. While she was born in Texas, her family history has been traced back to the Canary Islands by other researchers.

After William John Smith died in 1845, Maria eventually was married again — to a gentleman named James B. Lee. This tidbit allowed me to find Maria’s gravestone (I think) on FindaGrave.com.

A photo of Maria can be found here.

Tombstone Tuesday: Old Wye Cemetery

Historical Marker for Old Wye Episcopal Church

Old Wye Episcopal Church has sat along Route 662 between Queenstown and Easton in one iteration or another since 1721.

The historical marker by the church reads:

“Old Wye Episcopal Church

Only remaining Anglican church in Talbot County. Built in 1721 as a chapel-of-ease by donations of 60,000 pounds of tobacco and 100 pounds of sterling. Originally named St. Luke’s it was a place of worship until 1829. Reconstructed in 1854, but later fell into disrepair until restored in 1949 to original design with high box pews, hanging side pulpit and gallery with original royal arms.”

You can read more about the history of the church on the parish web site.

It’s a quiet location in a residential neighborhood. The church and the grounds are quite beautiful.

On a recent trip there, I snapped many photos around the cemetery. There’s a neat old tree towards the back where dozens of people have carved their initials and other messages over the years. On the right in the photo below, you can see the bridge I mentioned in last week’s Wordless Wednesday post.

Unfortunately, only one of my tombstone photos can be read clearly. I’ll have to go back and take more photos — there are only five graves listed for the cemetery on FindaGrave.

The above stone is for Joseph George Neal (born and died in what looks like 1851 or 1857) and Matthias George Neal (born in 1859 and died in 1861). They are listed as the children of Louis W. H. and M.E. Neal.

I looked Louis up on Ancestry. He apparently was married to a Henrietta M. E. George (so the tombstone was carved with the ‘&’ separating the wrong initials above). Joseph and Matthias were their only children. They all apparently are buried at Old Wye Church. Louis may have remarried, but I didn’t find evidence that he had any more children.

Tuesday’s Tip: Local History News Alerts

This past weekend, there was a huge celebration in the town of Easton, Md., surrounding the placement of a sculpture of Frederick Douglass in front of the Talbot County Courthouse. Douglass once gave a very famous address on the steps of that courthouse.

The events this weekend got me thinking about the likelihood of similar events taking place in towns across the country. With all of the patriotic holidays during the summer, there are many celebrations of local and national history throughout the country during this season.

Local newspapers tend to preview such events with articles about area history. What a great way to learn about the hometowns of your ancestors! Might your ancestor get a mention? Here’s one way to find out: set up a Google News Alert for your ancestors’ hometowns and add keywords like ‘history’ to the search string.

Use the AROUND operator to make results more relevant. When I did a search for “San Antonio” and “history,” the results weren’t what I’d hoped for. I changed the search string to ‘”san antonio” AROUND(5) history’ (meaning where ‘history’ appears within five words of ‘San Antonio’) and got much better results.

You can add other keywords to the search string too. Were your ancestors farmers? Miners? Play around with other keywords to narrow your results.

I had trouble getting relevant results from one of my searches. You can click on Advanced Search to narrow the results by source location OR by coverage of a certain location.

I tried out a Google News search for one of my ancestral hometowns, Elizabethton, Tenn. I typed ‘Elizabethton Tennessee history’ into the search bar. The results varied from calendar items for workshops at local history landmarks to an article on local sports history. I set up a news alert so that future articles about the area come to my attention.

When you set up the news alert, you are presented with a number of options that will affect the results you receive. You can have the alert cover everything from blogs to video. I usually select “Everything” from the Type drop-down menu. Likewise, I also select “All Results” under Volume.

I have dozens of news alerts set up for my day job, and I find it can be overwhelming to receive all of those emails. Since I already have Google Reader set up for keeping track of genealogy blogs, I elected to receive these local history updates in my feed there, rather than receiving still more email.

Don’t forget to navigate around the Google News results using the menu on the left. I hit Archives and found articles about presidential candidate Herbert Hoover visiting Elizabethton in 1928. Another article, from 1957, detailed the homecoming of conjoined twins (joined at the head, no less), who had been successfully separated just in time to return home for Christmas that year. Note that some of the archive hits may require payment to view the full article, depending on the publication.

None of these stories involve my ancestors, but what great snapshots of local happenings over the years.

It also pays to search for county names and not just town names. I found this article on a flood that swept through Elizabethton (spelled ‘Elizabethtown’ in this article, which is why it didn’t show up in my previous search) in 1901 by searching for “Carter County.” Surely my ancestors were affected by this flood.

Another interesting find was this reprint of a letter by Abraham Lincoln.

Another bonus to performing these searches is you may discover newspapers you didn’t know existed. This could lead to more fruitful searching later on.

Dear Mr. Lincoln, I Think We May Be Related…

In preparing a blog post involving Carter County, Tenn., I found this fascinating reprint of a letter by Abraham Lincoln, to a relative who had written him inquiring as to whether they may be related. The article, which originally appeared in The New York Times, can be downloaded as a PDF at no charge.

Stay tuned on Tuesday to see how I found this little treasure!

When My Two Loves Combine: History and Food

This post also is available at my food blog, Freezer Full.

The National Archives has a really neat initiative launching soon and it will involve more than just an exhibit — it will include a restaurant too!

“What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam” will open in conjunction with America Eats Tavern in D.C. The former will feature original records about food. The latter will produce dishes using native ingredients and historical recipes. How neat!

Read more at the NARA blog. Also, listen to the chef behind America Eats Tavern on D.C.’s NPR station.