Monday, September 5, 2016

I found Helen Keller's letter in an old Autograph Book

We're getting ready to move to another house in the next few weeks so today I spent time going through our several hundreds of books to determine if I can possibly eliminate some of them. I discovered this little autograph book that we had purchased many years ago at a Used Book sale. As I  opened it, I found these first two pages:

The book was obviously a possession of a Ronald Simpson, whose mother was Mrs. S. O. Simpson, and whose sister was perhaps Carolyn Simpson. 

Tucked inside this book was the following letter:
One of the pages of the Autograph Book also holds Helen Keller's autograph, written in pencil.

I invite you to take a minute to read the letter. It offers a rare personal look into the heart and mind of Helen Keller and offers a valuable perspective into the life of a deaf and blind person. It's well worth the time to read it! 

I feel privileged to have this letter and look at it as the reward for my hard work in sorting through books and my willingness to consider letting some of them go. I may have missed this little gem otherwise. 

This chart shows how Helen Keller is my cousin.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Dad would Love this Cousin Connection

As I've been exploring cousin connections, I've found many surprises. I posted this chart yesterday showing how my father's Volga German ancestry was connected to cousins on my mother's side of the family, who were not Volga Germans. 

I continued to look at descendants of the Richard Hill and Sarah Strait family and noticed the name of Acuff. Being the daughter of Ernie Margheim, I KNOW that Acuff name. Dad, as "The Sunflower Wrangler" was a singer/guitarist of Western music in the late 1930s and 1940s. He had quite a collection of Western music and memorabilia, among which were recordings and song books of Roy Acuff. 
This chart illustrates my connection through cousins to the late Roy Acuff. His 2nd cousin (2 generations back), Zulema Wallace married Mark Cord Hill, my 5th cousin 3 generations removed. I know my dad knows of this connection now, but it would've been fun to have had the opportunity to show him and discuss this while he was alive. My dad was interested in the family history decades before I ever caught on. He'd be so thrilled.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Connecting my Father's Family to my Mother's Family

This week Jerry Michel posted this photo on the Facebook page for the Russell County Historical Society of Germans from Russia. 
Jerry identified the couple as Johann George Bender, Sr, (1803-1913) and his third wife, Maria Katherine Schneider, who were married 13 May 1883 in Russell County, Kansas. 
My dad's father, John Ludwig Margheim was born in Russell county, Kansas to German parents who were also from the Volga River area of Russia. I knew the Margheims were associated in many ways with Bender and Schneider families, so I did some research into this couple pictured above. 

As a result of my research, I was able to prepare this chart, which is also pictured above at the start of this post. 
Let me guide you through this maze of cousin connections. At the bottom left is me, Rebecca Margheim, shown as the wife of Larry Jamison. My dad's ancestry goes up to his mother Amalia "Mollie" Koleber and on up to her great grandfather, Johann H. Koleber, born 1817 in Russia. Besides son Johann H. Koleber, the Senior Johann had daughter Maria, wife of George J. Maier. Maria, her husband and family are pictured at the top left of the illustration above. Their daughter Louisa Maier married John Bender. You can see their wedding photo under their name. 

John Bender's grandfather was the Johann George Bender whose photo was posted on Facebook yesterday. But John's grandmother was the first wife of Johann, being Maria Schwien. Johann George and Maria (Schwien) Bender's great granddaughter Manetta Bender married Archibald Parkhurst. Archibald's mother was Letha Cochran and her third cousin was Leo Cochran, the husband of Geneva Hill. 

I knew I had some Hill cousins so I looked up Geneva on Family Search and found the rest of her Hill lineage. Her great, great grandmother was Sarah Strait, wife of Richard Hill. I'm a third cousin five times removed of that same Sarah Strait. In the chart above you can see that my mother Ruby Flanders is a seventh cousin of Geneva Hill. 

So at the bottom right, you see me again, as the descendant of Ruby Flanders and Ernest Margheim. The chart I've prepared shows the cousin connection between my paternal ancestors and my maternal ancestors. The connection is meaningful to me because, as I grew up, I thought these two families were worlds apart. They were on opposite ends of the spectrum in MY world. Little did I suspect that they could be connected through cousin marriages. My world is getting smaller all the time!

Friday, July 29, 2016

How heartbroken must Kittie have been

As I was recently doing research on some families from Tioga County, Pennsylvania with the surname of English, I discovered this family group belonging to Lafayette and Kitty (Campbell) English. Notice that their six children were born in a period of 15 years, from 1881-1896. You can also see that by Dec 29, 1894, five of those six children were deceased. The last child, son Raymond survived to adulthood, dying at the age of 60.

I saw that Clara English only lived 12 days in 1893 so I assumed she died of something unrelated to the deaths of her siblings in December 1894. But I wondered what epidemic or disaster might have occurred causing the deaths of these children in December 1894. 

I was very lucky to find this information at the site "Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice. The History Center on Main Street, Mansfield, PA. Death Records of the Tri-Counties". The information below was only published last December, so I was really blessed to be searching for it this summer. 
 It shows that the infant Clara died from "Inflammation of bowels" but the other English children died from diphtheria.
I prepared this simple timeline so I could better understand the tragic events this family endured. Little Grace was born 1881 and Blanche followed in 1882. There were no more births in the family until Flossie was born in 1886. Again no births in 1887 and 1888, but then Nellie was born in 1889. No births in 1890, 1891, or 1892, and then Clara was born in 1893, but she died 12 days later. Death settled in and took the lives of 5-year-old Nellie on Dec 2, 1894, followed by the death of 6-year-old Flossie 8 days later, on Dec 10th. Three days later 13-year-old Grace, the oldest child of Lafayette and Kittie, passed away, and 16 days later 12-year-old Blanche died. 

After losing all five of their children after 15 years of marriage, Kittie gave birth to their only son Raymond in 1896. He lived to the age of 60. I find it amazing that Lafayette English lived to the age of 76 and Kittie lived to the age of 80. Those parents certainly endured more than their share of loss and grief in their adult life. 

I'm reminded, when I see family events like this, to try to understand and respect these families who endured so much and to always be grateful that my struggles wane in comparison.  

Sunday, July 3, 2016

My Cousin Connection to my Husband

As I've done research on my family history and made interesting discoveries of family connections, I've used my skill working with Microsoft Publisher and my interest in seeing things visually to create dozens of charts like the one above. For the past two weeks I've been organizing those charts on a Trello board so I have then in view and sorted by family name. They're easily viewable on my iphone and ipad also, using the Trello mobile app

I made a discovery this weekend that my husband and I have a sort of cousin connection, using a Step-relationship in his paternal ancestry. I prepared the chart at the top of this post to illustrate that connection. I'm sharing it for those who might find it interesting.

I wish I could tell my Grandma Flanders

L to R: Nannie Becker Flanders,
Zella Page Hoover, Ellen Martin
Six years ago I wrote a story on my blog about discovering that I was a cousin of my Grandma Flanders' best friend, Zella Hoover. You can read it here.

"Hoover" as we called her, is pictured in the middle of the photo at left, with my grandmother on the far left. 

Hoover had a son Bennett who was killed in an auto accident in 1949. Bennett's wife, Marjorie Ellen Mowery Hoover, was also tragically killed in that accident, but their two-month-old son "Chris" survived unharmed. As I was growing up and visited my Grandma Flanders and her friend Hoover, Marjorie's mother Ellen Martin resided with Hoover and the two grandmas worked together to raise Chris.  

My research a decade ago showed that I was a cousin of Hoover. My research just two days ago revealed that I'm also a cousin of Matt, the son I adopted as an infant. Just as I prepared to close my computer and go to bed last night, I discovered that my son, through his birth parents' ancestry, and I, through my Flanders ancestry, are also cousins of Hoover. I prepared this chart above to show those relationships. I couldn't be happier to know that my son and I share direct ancestors, and now to learn that he and I are both cousins of this very kind friend of my extended family, Zella Hoover. I just wish I could share the news with my Grandma Flanders!