David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day - 11/11/11 Soldiers in the Family

In honor of Veteran's Day, November 11, 2011, I am sharing photographs of my family members who served in the military.

My Grandfather, Leland Vincent Norris ~  World War I Veteran

My Father, Estel "J" Shoemaker ~ Korean Conflict Veteran

My Uncles
Donald Norris & Edgar Norris ~ World War II Veterans

My Father in Law, George Hellmund, Sr.
Korean Conflict Veteran

My husband's Great Grandfather, Ernest Hellmund ~ Civil War Veteran

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - Hellmund Halloween Heartaches

George in his infamous Headless Man Costume

Once upon a time, there lived a little boy named George, whose favorite holiday was Halloween.  So great was his love of that spooky night that even before the current year's festivities were complete, he was busily planning his identity for the following year.   In a day and age when most most costumes were simply cheap, "step into, tie at the neck" outfits with plastic masks that hung on the head by a rubber band, our hero would devise elaborate masquerades that took months and months of planning.   With that kind of organization, how would it be possible that his holiday could be anything other than perfect? But somehow, year after year, fate would intervene and the evening that began with so much promise would end in disappointment.
Take for instance the "Zorro" year of 1968.  "Beggar's Night" had been moved to an afternoon, for the safety of children in the city. (The reason for that is another story. Much too sad to add to this "light-hearted tale.)  But, George wasn't going to let that stop him from having a great Halloween.  He had a clever costume, complete with a chalk-capped sword that would allow him to write a "Z" wherever he visited.  Of course, the sword was so wobbly that in order to make the mark, he would have to hold the end of it like a pencil, but, it was still pretty cool. He put on his cap, his mask and finally, it was time head out into the world to collect that candy treasure.  There was just one problem.  Another boy had decided that "Zorro" was the perfect costume as well, and he was on the same route as George......and just a few minutes ahead of him.  Several houses refused to give him any candy because they said he had already been there. When he protested that he had not been to the house yet, the inhabitants told him that he was trying to fool them by coming to the house the second time with a group of other kids. Poor George. It really cut down on the food haul that year.

And then there was the year he was a skeleton.  The little guy had barely begun his route when an "old lady" thought for sure she knew who he was and wanted to guess his identity.  When he told her she was wrong, she didn't believe him and promptly tried to lift his mask.  As she did, the mask broke, revealing that George had not been lying.  Now, feeling guilty, the "old lady" tried to fix the costume so he could return to his begging.  Against all his protestations,  she continued to try to repair the damage. Much to his chagrin, the job took most of his candy hunting time. Then, to further ease her guilty conscience, she poured the remains of her candy dish into his bag to make up for the candy he lost. Of course, the fact that it was all the SAME candy certainly removed much of the excitement of the holiday.

As he grew older, the outfits became more elaborate and at about the age of 12 he reached his costume zenith with the incredible "headless man" design.  With the help of his older sister, they created a head of paper mache', they stuffed every towel they owned into a coat to create wide shoulders, and covered George's head with a red hat to make a "bloody neck".   He could barely see through the slit between the coat's buttons, but he knew he was looking good.  With black gloves on his hands, he grabbed the treat bag and headed into the night with his "trick or treating" buddies.  Things were going great and he was making a pretty good candy haul.  The night was getting darker and it was harder to see, but he has having a such a good time.  Finally, a Beggar's Night without any mishaps.... until.  He noticed some people walking in front of him, so he stepped to the side. Suddenly, his knee his something hard.  His already top heavy form was thrown forward over the immovable object and he fell right on top of a child in a stroller.  As he struggled to get up, the little boy's mother began screaming, "GET OFF MY BABY!"  Every time he tried to get off the stroller, the crazed mom smacked him with her purse.   His trick or treat bag went flying and candy landed in the grass and street all around him.  Finally, he managed to pick himself up. Slowly and in pain, he gathered together what candy he could find and managed to limp through the rest of his Halloween. 

It wasn't only strangers that affected his joy of the holiday.  One year, he decided it would be a great idea to be a giant bird. He painstakingly created this costume, piece by piece.  He had everything he needed, except for the feet.  Then, he had a brilliant idea for what he could use.  His mother had the perfect pair of black boots.  He had some "glow in the dark" paint. What a great combination!  With skill and precision, he painted those bird feet on those boots.  What made it even better was that the paint was barely visible in the daytime, but after being exposed to light for several hours, they would glow like mad at night!  Something George's mother discovered several weeks after Halloween when she put on her brand new black boots for a night on the town and discovered to her dismay that in the dark of night she was sporting bird feet!  Needless to say,  it was a lucky thing that George even lived to see his next Halloween after that one!

In case you haven't figured out by now, the George in this story is my husband. Each year, as the calendar turned to autumn and our children began to plan their costumes for Halloween, the talk inevitably turned to the Beggar's Night's of times passed. No matter how many times they heard the stories of their father's trials and tribulations, they still found them funny. They are part of our family's story and a part of Americana as well!  I hope others will enjoy them as well.

Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Estel and Imogene Huffman Shoemaker

This little, yellow newspaper clipping tells the story of the wedding party for my paternal grandparents, Estel and Imogene Huffman Shoemaker.
Estel was born in Adams County, Ohio on 3 April, 1907.  He left home for Sabina in Clinton County and a job at the Mac Tool Co..  It was there in Sabina that he met his future bride, Imogene Huffman, who was born on 16 July, 1907.  They were married in Covington, Kentucky on 23 November, 1929 and upon their return home, they were treated to a small family wedding reception, which is described in the above article.
They soon had two children, my father, Estel, Jr. and his younger sister, Joyce. Tragically, my grandfather passed away from a sudden heart attack at the age of 42 on 30 March, 1950.  My grandmother went to work in the town grocery store and she continued working until the day she retired. 
I was so very blessed to have two sets of incredible grandparents who were not only great role models for their children, but for their grandchildren as well!

My grandparents with my daddy.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Grace Emert

On February 2 of this year, I wrote of the tragic story of Grace Emert.  (You can read my previous post here)   I had stumbled upon the information that Grace had been murdered by her brother, Raymond, who subsequently committed suicide.  According to her Ohio death certificate, Grace had been buried at Hillgrove Cemetery in Miamisburg, Ohio.  Even though a picture of her gravesite was already available online, I wanted to visit myself and take my own photographs.  It was a long, rough Ohio winter and it took me until our vacation time in June before we made it to the cemetery.   Even though the cemetery is still actively in business, we didn't go to the cemetery office for the directions to her gravesite. Like many people, I enjoy just walking throughout the area,  hoping I will find the persons I seek and making new discoveries along the way.  On this particular trip, we did locate many of the Emert family members, as well as a few persons I still need to research.  Luckily, it was a beautiful day because finding Grace took a while.  Interestingly enough, Grace and Raymond lie side by side and share their tombstone. I find that very strange considering the circumstances.
As of today, I have found no further information about Grace or Raymond.  So much of why they died as they did remains and may always remain a mystery.  But, I'm glad she can be remembered.

So, today, I am sharing the tombstone of Grace Emert, my 2nd cousin, 2 times removed.

The Gravesite of Grace A. and Raymond E. Emert

Friday, September 30, 2011

Soloman's Grandsons

It started with a simple signature and ended with the saga of a family tragedy. 

Lately, I haven't been spending too much time on family history.  The past few months have been filled with various "crises" and other events that have pushed my passion into the background. No matter how hard I have tried to find both the time and the desire to pull out the notebooks and fire up the research sites, I just haven't been able to "get up the gumption" to do so.  Today, due to the dreary Ohio weather and the sickness of numerous family members that left us homebound, I decided to sit down at my computer and begin working on some special projects I have had on my to-do list for awhile.
One of these items is the scanning of ancestor signatures from historical documents. After the signatures are saved, I then  attach them to portraits, if they exist,  of the ancestor to whom the signature belongs.  If no photograph exists, I simply attach the signature to both my Ancestry.com family tree and my own family history files. 
(For example, this is a photograph of my 2nd great grandfather, Henry Routsong, whose signature appears several times on the probate records of his father in law, Henry Sweadner.)
My Great Great Grandfather, Henry Mathias Routsong

So today, upon opening the estate files of my 4th great grandfather, Jacob Suman, I discovered several signatures of Suman family members.  One that I wasn't very familiar with is pictured at the top of this post;  Soloman Isanogel, the husband of my 3rd great grand aunt, Elizabeth Suman.
After scanning, cropping, and saving several signatures, I logged into my family tree and began adding each signature, one by one, to my history file.  When I opened the page for Soloman, I realized I had not spent any time researching the Isanogel family. Now was the perfect time to hit that "search records" button.  The typical matching census records were located, along with 2 "Public Member Stories".  I am always interested in reading the stories that members post and I can usually find some very interesting facts from those shared tidbits of information.  Choosing the first story listed, I discovered the following paragraph: (NO CITATION IS GIVEN)
The Pioneer:
"Soloman Isanogle entered land west of Chesterfield three miles and made a farm. His family consisted of 4 sons and 2 daughters. Jacob the eldest, was one of the lst school teachers in the township. Soloman was the grandfather of the Isanogle boys who were murdered by Statler. Mr. Isanogle died in 1844 buried in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Delaware County. His
widow lived twenty-eigth years after his decease and died at the age of 82 yrs in 1876. She is buried beside her husband."

I scanned the paragraph and found myself reading it a second and then a third time to make sure I was comprehending it correctly.  "Soloman was the grandfather of the Isanogle boys who were murdered by Statler."  Grandsons murdered?

There was obviously more to be discovered about Soloman's grandsons.  I searched the records of the member who had uploaded the story, but she had no information about any murders.  It was time for a visit to my favorite search engine.  I decided to look for "Isanogle Murders Madison Indiana" which is where the census records told me that Soloman had lived.  The first hit I received was for a family history file that had been uploaded by a someone.  It was an unusal site and a little confusing, but what I did find was a listing of Soloman's family members.  I knew from the story that the boys were the children of Soloman's son, Jacob.  So, I searched for a link to his family.  Luckily, they were all included.  I went through the list of children's names, birth, and death dates to see if any of his  children had died in the same year. I found that William and Isaac had both passed away in 1868.  Further investigation showed they had both died on 17 March. This was not a coincidence.  Now I knew not only their exact names but I also knew the date they had been murdered.  With this information,  I could do a more thorough search.

 Entering the new facts, I received numerous results; including a Google books "hit".  The entire book, Historical Sketches and Reminiscences of Madison County by John L. Forkner and Byron H. Dyson, Anderson, Indiana, 1897, was available on their site and, amazingly,  it was filled with information about the tragic deaths and their aftermath.

 According to the book, on Saturday, 17 March, 1868, a man by the name of George Stottler went to the home of the Isanogle family.  He was drunk and for some reason decided he wanted the use of one of the family's horses.  William, 20 years of age, and Isaac, only 16 years old, refused to give Stottler a horse.  They began to fight and during the ensuing quarrel, Stottler pulled out a knife he had purchased only that day and both men were stabbed "to the heart".   Early Sunday morning, as word spread about the murder, people from the surrounding area became enraged and a "posse",  500 persons strong and armed with various weapons,  set out to find the accused.  Much of the crowd was ready to hang Stottler without a trial and when he was discovered at 11 o'clock that morning, hiding in a field only 1/2 mile west of the murder scene, it took some very determined lawmen to keep Stottler alive long enough to face legal judgement.   He was given a change of venue and he apparently had some of the best legal representation at the time because his life was spared and he ended up with "life imprisonment" at the Michigan City Prison.  During his first few years of incarceration, Stottler was "reckless and malicious" according to the written account, and he actually cut off two of his own fingers to avoid working in the prison cooper shop.  However, after a few years, there were many people who decided that he had paid his debt to society and they began working to get the murderer paroled. 
The Isanogel family and their friends fought hard to keep Stottler imprisoned and they were successful until January, 1897.  For some reason that I cannot personally understand, Governor Claude Mathews pardoned George Stottler and as of the writing of the history book, he was living in Illinois.
I guess my next mystery to solve is what happened to George Stottler after his release from prison.

And so this evening,  I sit here at my computer, amazed once again by how small fragments can be fit together to make quite an interesting tapestry, smiling over the fact that I have added an entirely new branch to my family tree, and a little angry that George Stottler served so little time for such a cold blooded crime.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - William C. Eagle

On our "staycation" in June, I told my family I didn't care what else we did, as long as I was given one day to visit some cemetaries. We had had an extended Ohio winter and I had been unable to go "ancestor hunting" for an extremely long time.  There were a couple in particular where I had some family research to conduct. So, early one morning, we headed out; notebook and cameras in hand. The first place I had on my list to visit was the Hillgrove Cemetery in Miamisburg, (Montgomery Co.) Ohio.  After finding the family members I was looking for, I managed to talk my family into giving me a little time to just explore this lovely place a while longer.   One of the sites that caught my attention was this beautiful stone of remembrance for a gentleman named William C. Eagle, who died at the age of 30 years and 15 days on 1 August, 1864.  I haven't done any research on this young man, but how tragic it was that he died at such a young age.   

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Carol Burnett Helps My Brother Propose

Rhonda, Carol Burnett, Brian, after the show

The Proposal

                                                  The Happy Couple on Their Wedding Day

For most of my childhood and into my teen years, Carol Burnett "visited" my home each and every Saturday night via television.  As welcome as she was in my house and in my life, I never could have guessed that all these years later, she would have a vital role in giving me a brand new sister and a new name in my family tree.
One evening in early April, I received an unexpected telephone call from my brother, Brian, telling me he had something exciting to tell me.  He explained that he and his beloved, Rhonda had purchased tickets to see Carol Burnett in her personal appearance at Indiana University. As if that was not big enough news, he went on to tell me that he had had a brilliant idea.  He was going to use the occasion to propose to Rhonda and he had managed to include Miss Burnett in his "sneaky" plan.  He had spoken to a contact at the university who in turn put him in touch with some of Carol's staff and to them made his request.  After several phone calls, he received the news that Miss Burnett was thrilled to be a part of the event..  So, the evening was carefully coordinated.  They were to be seated close to the front.  When the "audience questions" portion of the show began, he was to be called upon, at which time he was to "pop the question".   He had to come up with an explanation as to why they suddenly had seats in the front row, rather than their original places, but he told Rhonda that he had found these much better seats on an online auction website.  On the 18th of April, when the appointed question time came during the show, Brian raised his hand and Carol inquired as to whether or not he had a question. His answer was "Yes, I do have a question, but not for you."  At that time he asked Rhonda to stand up and he dropped down to one knee.  Miss Burnett then performed her famous "Tarzan yell" for the crowd as Rhonda joyfully said "Yes" and the crowd cheered. Thankfully, there was a kind person in the crowd who took photographs! Afterward, they were escorted backstage to meet with the lovely and gracious Carol Burnett and they of course, invited her to their wedding!  Brian and Rhonda were married on 23 July, 2011 and I gained not only a new sister, but a great new story for "Genealogy and Me".  Isn't it cool the way that works?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Family Recipe Friday - Elizabeth's Broccoli Salad

When my brother was married in 1974, I gained a new sister, but our family received  a wonderful new cook!  Elizabeth loves to cook and she has discovered some recipes that have quickly become family traditions.  One of those recipes is the one I am sharing in today's Family Recipe Friday. It is Broccoli Salad, and since Thanksgiving of 1976, it has been a staple at just about all our gatherings.

Broccoli Salad
4 10 oz. Boxes chopped Broccoli
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 Eggs
1 c. Mayonnaise
2 Packages Cheddar Cheese

Cooking Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Combine broccoli, soup, eggs, mayonnaise and 1 cup of cheese.  Bake 45 minutes. The last 15 minutes sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Rick and Elizabeth, shortly after their marriage in 1974
This recipe is very simple, but looks and tastes incredible!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Howard Johnson's Motel

My Dad, My Brothers, and Me at the Howard Johnson's
When I was almost 4 years old, we took our first, and biggest, family vacation.  It was a road trip to Alpena, Michigan and it would require a couple of overnight stays in a motel.  I can't tell you in which city we stopped, but I do have some strong memories about a Howard Johnson's motel.  Since I was so young, they are just fragments of remembrance, but I can close my eyes and see them clearly.  This was the first time I ever had one of those tiny, single serving boxes of cereal that they served for breakfast at the restaurant that was always attached to the motel.  After that trip, I begged my mother to buy them for me at home! The roof was bright orange, the doors to the rooms were alternately green and orange and there were machines that dispensed ice in the hallway.  We took pictures outside the motel before we headed farther north, everyone smiling and clearly having fun.  Within a few years,  we would spend nights in another Howard Johnson's.  This time in Lexington, Kentucky where we went to see my brothers working together as an evangelistic team.  On this trip our group included my grandmother, sister in law, and my brother's girlfriend.  I was older this time and could appreciate the comfortable bed and free stationary!  Each occasion we would have to travel, we would usually look for a Howard Johnsons because it was a name we knew we could trust. 
Mom and Dad in Lexington at Howard Johnsons
In the 90's, of course,  Howard Johnson's Motels decided to change their image and they became Hojo Inns, which I thought made them sound cheap. Even though they were not elegant places to stay, we never had one complaint about a stay in one of their motels.  I can't say the same about some of today's hotel chains.  Whenever I see these pictures, I have to smile remembering that special place, the Howard Johnsons Motel.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Grandpa and Grandson

This is one of my favorite photographs. It pictures my father and his grandfather, John Huffman, of Sabina, Ohio.  This was taken when my dad was on leave from the Air Force in 1951.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Internet Archive - Digital Library

One of my favorite resources for genealogical research is old county history books.  I have been amazed at the amount of personal family history I have discovered in books written in the early 1900's about Ohio and Illinois. My ancestors were early settlers in both states and to my delight I have found entire biographical paragraphs written about my relatives. The Internet Archive Digital Library is a valuable site for anyone who is looking for these types of history books and the fact that there is no charge for it's use makes it even better!    I have had to rely a great deal on the resources that are available to me online, so I am always thankful to discover new websites like this one. 

Another site you might wish to check out if you are interested in Army records is The U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.  You can search for Army information, watch videos and more.

Let me know if you make any new discoveries!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Military Monday - NCR Norris Men in the Service

The above article appeared in the monthly magazine that was published by The National Cash Register Company in Dayton.  It states:  "World Wars I and II - Top picture shows L.V. Norris, of Polishing-Plating Department, as a Corporal in World War I.  Above left: Pfc. Edgar M. Norris, son of L.V. Norris, enlisted in the Air Force in February, 1944 and is now a gunnery instructor of B-29's at Clovis, N.M. Right: Corp. Donald L. Norris, another son, is somewhere in Germany with a medical detachment.  He has been overseas since September, 1944 and has seen many of the father's old camping grounds.  The boys are brothers of Jeanne Norris, Telephone Exchange."

I have written previously about NCR and it's importance to my family and to my hometown.  Each month NCR distributed a magazine that detailed not only the business news, but also information about the employees and their families. I am lucky enough to have several of those books and newsletters in my collection.   I have always loved this particular article, which discusses my grandfather, two of my uncles, and my aunt who all worked at NCR along with both of my parents.  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - Grandma at the Grocery Store

Today I was searching through my family history folders when I spied this photograph of my grandmother, Imogene Huffman Shoemaker.   She is pictured standing in the produce department of the little grocery store in Sabina, Ohio where she worked.   She was only 43 years old when my grandfather passed away suddenly of a heart attack and was overnight a single mother without an income.   I remember being told that her parents wanted her to move in with them so they could take care of her and my aunt, who at that time was just a little girl.  My father was just out of high school and soon would be married and entering the service.  My grandma was determined that she would take care of herself so she declined my great grandparents offer of a home and she got herself a job working in the grocery store.  By the time I was born, she had been employed there for many years and  I can well remember driving to Sabina on a couple of occasions when she would still be at work and we would stop in and surprise her.  At Easter, she would sometimes bring me decorations that had been hanging up in the store and she never failed to bring my brothers and me a chocolate bunny or fruit cream eggs as a special surprise.   So, today, I am feeling a little sentimental about this photograph and the memory makes me so proud of all my grandparents and very grateful for the legacy of integrity and determination they gave me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shopping Saturday - May, 1940

It's May 10, 1940.  The minimum wage is .30 per hour and the average yearly salary is $1900.00
Winston Churchill has just succeeded Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister of the UK,  Adolph Hitler has just announced the beginning of a fight that would "decide the fate of the German nation for the next 1000 years", James M.Cox, publisher of the Dayton Daily News is visiting his friend and former running mate, Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House.  It also happens to be only 2 days before Mother's Day and you still have to purchase a gift for your mom.  Opening the Dayton Daily News, looking beyond the frightening stories of the war in Europe, you find numerous advertisements for the merchants in the Dayton area.  At Elder's Bargain Basement (one of the stores that will become the Elder-Beerman Department Store) you can buy spring coats for $8.00 and sheer print dresses for only $3.99.  A chenille bedspread is selling for $2.98, while at the Finke Furniture Company on East Fifth St. a complete 11 piece bedroom can be purchased for $59. with $2.50 down and $1.00 a week.
If you want to update your kitchen with a gas range that has "completely everything" you can drive down Fifth Street to the Home Equipment Co. and buy this one for $69.95 with no down payment and $1.00 per week.  So many choices! What do you think she will want?

As I carefully turned the pages of the newspaper for May 10, 1940, I found it interesting to note that the advertisers on the sports page included not only quite a few men's clothing stores but also numerous liquor distillers like the Bardstown Distillery and Rittenhouse Bourbon, while on the society pages furriers and soap companies, like Palmolive ruled the space. 

As much as I love reading the news articles in these old papers, I almost enjoy looking at the advertisements even more.   The Rike-Kumler Company (now Macy's), Thal's, The Metropolitan, Zapoleon, Inc,  Muir's Cut Rate Drugs, and so many more are  now long gone but are a part of our city's rich history.  I try to buy these old newspaper whenever I find one that is affordable. What a wonderful way to see "the way it was" and the products from which our ancestors had to choose!

Family Recipe Friday - Mom's Sloppy Joe's

For today's Family Recipe Friday post, I am sharing my mom's recipes for Sloppy Joes.  I will always remember my mom cooking supper in the kitchen, waiting for the hour when my dad would walk through the door.  I was lucky enough to grow up in a house where we were able to sit down at the dinner table together just about every night.  To this day, whenever my brothers and I need some comfort food these sloppy joes are what we ask for!
*Please note: June Cleaver had nothing on my mom! She always looked this great when she was cooking dinner!

Mom's Sloppy Joes

2 lbs. Hamburger
2 cans Chicken Gumbo Soup
2 T.  Catsup
1 T. Mustard

1. Brown Hamburger
2. Add soup, onion, catsup, mustard, and simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Family Recipe Friday - Cherry Delight

For my first Family Recipe Friday I am sharing the recipe for "Cherry Delight".  This is a treat that my Aunt Joyce made for us on Christmas and Thanksgiving when I was growing up and it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  Not only is it delicious, but it looks elegant as well.

Cherry Delight
1 1/2 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 Stick of Butter
1 8 oz. Cream Cheese
1 c. plus 2 T. Confectionary Sugar
1 Box Dream Whip
1 Can Cherry Pie Filling

Pour melted butter over crumbs.
Line pan with crumbs
Whip Dream Whip, then add cream cheese and sugar and beat until smooth.  Spread this mixture over the crumbs.  Top with Cherries.

                           My Aunt Joyce in a photograph from a newspaper article about her
                           favorite recipes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday - Elizabeth Taylor

Today we lost a Hollywood icon, Elizabeth Taylor.  When I was growing up, it was Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton who graced the covers of the Hollywood fan magazines. While I am too young to actually remember the Debbie (Reynolds)/Eddie (Fisher)/ Elizabeth triangle, I have vivid memories of Elizabeth and Richard Burton's relationship and subsequent marriages and divorces.  As a child, I wasn't aware of her early career as a child star or even what a great actress she was, but to me she seemed larger than life. Her life seemed to be filled with the greatest of great joys and the deepest of sorrows. There was no even ground in her world.  She wasn't exactly a role model for me since I certainly didn't want to be a many times married woman, but I did envy her talent,  elegance and her loyalty to her friends.  She worked tirelessly for her charities, especially those associated with the care of victims of AIDS, the disease that had taken so many of those she loved.  Whether you liked her or loathed her, she was a lady you simply had to watch and I can hardly imagine a world without her.
 So, today in honor of Elizabeth Taylor,  for Treasure Chest Thursday, I am sharing two items that are very special to me..  The first is the photograph above, which  is a reprint of a vintage fan magazine portrait of Elizabeth.  Several years ago, I mailed this photograph to Elizabeth and asked if she would be willing to sign it to me.  As you can see, she most graciously (and to my great surprise) did so.   The next item is the doll which recreates Elizabeth in her wedding gown from the film Father of the Bride".  It is an accurate depiction of Elizabeth, even down to her "lavender-colored" eyes. 
Thanks to her hundreds of on-screen performances, Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky will never be forgotten, but I am awfully glad that I was here when it was really happening.
Miss Taylor, you will be missed.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

One Lovely Blog Award

I was honored to be presented the One Lovely Blog Award by both Betty Huber Tartas of Betty's Boneyard Genealogy Blog and Tammy of Genealogy Simple and Fun.  Along with the award comes the following responsibilities:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and    their blog link.
2. Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I have chosen the following 15 blogs: I enjoy all of these!
Ancesters Gotta Eat

Ancesters Within

Where I Come From

Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog

The Wandering Vine

Stardust 'n' Roots

Wandering Shades

The Sum of All My Research

The Hunt for Henrietta

Stone Gardens

Reflections from the Fence

Random Relatives

Past Voices - Letters Home

Of Trolls and Lemons

My genealogy blog

My Family Research Adventures

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thriller Thursday - The Tragic Story of Grace Emert

Just when I thought I had uncovered all of the family events that could shock me, I stumbled upon the death of my second cousin, once removed, Grace Emert. 

One evening this week, I discovered that while I had done quite a bit of research on my great great grandfather, Henry Mathias Routsong, I had neglected to look into the life of his sister, Catharine Routsong Emert.  Knowing from the book, "From Rauenzahner to Routson, A Family on the Move" and from United States Census records, that Catharine and her family had lived here in Montgomery County,  I decided to go to Familysearch.org to run a search on Ohio Death Certificates. I have found that death certificates can provide a wealth of family information and it was from that database that I discovered Catharine's date of death in Miamisburg, Ohio on 26 June, 1919.  I also discovered death records belonging to many of her family members, including her son, David Edward Emert, his wife, Charlotte,  and their daughter, Grace.   Like most people with limited time, I was locating documents and hitting "print" over and over without much regard to exactly what appeared on the paper, thinking that I would go through later and enter the information into my family tree.  That is, until I read the vital statistics on the death of Grace Emert.

Upon reading the opening information, I discovered that she was only 34 at the time of her death. Surprised by that fact, my eyes quickly moved over to the column containing the cause of death and I was stunned by what I read. "Compound skull fracture" came first.  My thoughts were that maybe it was some kind of accident until I read the next line.  "Severed jugular vein and carotid artery" was written next.  I think I had to read it several times before it sunk in.  I may have actually actually said "What?" out loud.  Farther down on the certificate, next to the question "Accident, suicide, or homicide?"  was written, "Homicide  1/6/1936". 
The document then listed that she was killed in her home. 
The information only got worse as  the final shock came on one of the last lines of the column where is stated she was "beat and cut by her brother."   Her brother?  How could that happen and who was her brother? 

At that time, I didn't have any of the names of her family members other than those of her parents. I went back to my original search of certificates to locate any other "Emerts" who may have had Edward Emert and Charlotte Myers listed as parents.  It didn't take very long to find "Raymond ".   Although there was no death certificate available to view, there was information about his date of death, which was 6 January, 1936, the same day as his murdered sister.  That was too much of a coincidence not to have been a piece of this tragic puzzle. Could it have been a murder/suicide and what could inspire that kind of rage? I had to find more information.

I started with a quick email to the librarian here at the Dayton Montgomery Public Library.  I requested any information she might be able to find in the Dayton Daily News on 7 January, 1936 regarding the crime.  Since I am impatient and I haven't received any response from her yet, I decided to head back to Ancestry.com for a short term membership again so I could access newspaper records from other cities in and around Ohio.  Within 5 minutes of searching, I had my answers and they were not only shocking, but very sad.

The first article I found appeared in the Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal on 7 January, 1936.  The headline read "Woman Found Dead on Farm"; "Throat Slashed, Head Battered, Brother's Body Sought".   The short story went on to describe how Grace's battered body had been found in the living room of her own home.  The neighbors had been attracted to the farm when they saw the barn in flames.  The article went on to say that Grace had lived in the home with her brother, Raymond, who was 29 years old.  The sheriff stated that the ashes of the barn would be "sifted".   After reading this article, it seemed as though I was on the right track regarding the murder/suicide, but it still didn't explain why her own brother would kill her.

The second article I located told me a little more.  On the same date in the New Castle (Pennsylvania) News, the headline read "Woman and Man Found Dead on Farm in Ohio"; "Woman slashed to death, Brother of Victim Burned to Death"; "Murder-Suicide is Theory Given".  This article went on to explain that the charred body of Raymond Emert had been found in the still smouldering barn.  He had hanged himself from a rafter in the barn, after killing his dog and setting the blaze.  The story gave more specific details regarding Grace's death, explaining that her head injuries were caused by a "heavy file" and her neck wounds were created with a razor.  The final paragraph expressed the theory of Coroner H.W. Harris that Raymond had "suddenly become demented" and had killed his sister and then committed suicide.  A third article which appeared in the Hamilton (Ohio) Daily News Journal also on 7 January, 1936  restated the above information, but also added that when Grace was found her clothes were torn and the room where her body was found was in disorder.  The story concludes with a statement from the coroner that Raymond had been "weak minded" and "had acted strangely for several days." 
A subsequent article in the same newspaper stated that Raymond had locked all the doors to the house and had used gasoline to ignite the fire in the barn.  

Could Raymond have been a victim of some type of mental illness?  The coroner's statement that he was "weak minded" and "had acted strangely" seems to lead in that direction, but it's obviously something that we will never know.  According to the 1930 United States Census, Grace and Raymond were living with their parents, Edward and Charlotte, on the farm on Benner Road in Miamisburg, Ohio.   Grace was 27 years of age, Raymond  was 25 and their sisters Dorothy and Florence were 18 and 11 years old respectively.   Interestingly enough, even though both Grace and Raymond were well into their adult years, neither one is married and although Raymond is listed as being a "farm-hand", Grace is not listed as having a profession.
So far, this is the only other documentation I have found on the lives of these siblings.  We may never know what caused Raymond to slip into the madness that caused him to take the life of his sister and to end his own, but at least now I know the story behind the lines on her death certificate.

My next planned step is to visit and photograph Grace's final resting place at Hillgrove Cemetery in Miamisburg and to pay my respects to my second cousin, once removed; The woman  I didn't know existed until the night I decided to do "just a little research."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday - The Hanging of Felix Munshower

When I began my journey through my family history about 7 years ago, the only thing I knew about my great great grandmother Norris was written in the family Bible.  "Alice Norris died in 1888".  For a long time, I didn't know anything more.  Since I had so many other names to work with in different branches of my family tree, the Norris side languished for a while until I finally "buckled down" and got my "Google" on!
Starting with census records, (always a great place to start!) I found my great grandfather, Harry,  living with his family in Frederick County, Maryland.  It was here that I discovered not only his sister, Effa, but also his brother, Vincent, about whom I have written previously.  I then began to do some newspaper searching.  Luckily for me there are many Frederick County, Maryland newspapers available on various genealogical websites.  On one of these sites, I found Effa's obituary and for the first time I discovered my great great grandmother's maiden name, "Munshower".  But, finding which Munshower family Alice belonged to was more of a challenge.  Seeking the help of the Emmitsburg Historical Society, we determined that she was most probably Sarah Alice Munshower, daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Munshower of Emmitsburg.
Once again, the search was on, only this time the results I discovered included a murder and a family tragedy.
According to the 1870 United States Census, Jacob and Elizabeth "Munshour" were living in Emmitsburg, Maryland with their 6 children.  Alice was 12, her younger brother, Felix was 10.  But, ten years later, in 1880, I found Felix is listed as a "prisoner" in the Frederick County jail.
This required further research.
Now I was searching on the name "Felix Munshower" specifically and I discovered a wealth of information about his crime. According to all accounts, he had murdered his own cousin, James Wetzel, apparently only for his money.  The best account of the murder came from the Emmitsburg Historical Society and was written by Michael Hillman. In his story, Michael tells of how the murder occured on 5 August, 1879 when Felix followed his cousin into the woods, shot him in the back of the head, stole his money purse, and buried his body in the woods. The investigation into the murder eventually led the sheriff to examine bootprints found in the woods next to the body and the heels of Felix' boots were a perfect match.  After his first trial ended in a mistrial because some of the jurors left deliberation to get haircuts, Felix was declared guilty of murder at 11:10 am on Wednesday, 28 January, 1880.  On 4 January, 1881, it was announced by the judge, "The sentence of the court is that you be taken in charge by the sheriff of Frederick County, and conveyed to the jail of Frederick County until such time as the Governer of Maryland shall appoint for your execution, and there and then be hanged by your neck until you are dead, and may God have mercy on your soul."
There were several appeals and delays of the sentencing, but on November 11, 1881, Felix Munshower was hanged for the murder of James Wetzel.

Tragically, on 16 January, 1881, Elizabeth Munshower, the mother of Felix and my 3rd great grandmother, died after suffering a heart attack at the home of her daughter, Amy.  Surely, the stress of the trial had weighed heavily upon her.  She did not live to see her son executed. Her daughter, my great great grandmother, Alice, lived only 7 years longer.  I don't know to what her death was attributed, but I wonder how much the actions and the death of her closest sibling affected her health.

It is amazing where one shred of information can lead you. One name in a census lead me to one of the family "Black Sheep".  I wonder where my journey will take me next?