Monday, September 17, 2007

Tombstone Remembrances

Bumper sticker on the car of a genealogist: "Warning: this car stops at all cemeteries.

Yes, genealogists believe that cemeteries can be pretty interesting. Because of maintenance efficiency, however, many cemeteries won't even allow fresh flowers to be placed on the grave (plastic is usually OK). Then again, some of the more remote cemeteries not only allow live plantings, but some, as in the example above, allow the display of trinkets which may represent the deceased. You can tell this deceased fellow loved his old truck and perhaps a favorite tractor. Didn't the Egyptian Royalty arrange to have many of their life's treasures buried with them- such as gold, jewelry, and maybe a wife or two?

I think, if I have a tombstone with an unlimited display area, I would place there: a pair of old hiking boots, my vintage Raleigh bicycle with its chrome handle bar brakes, my 1969 VW bus which I converted into a camper (a modified toy version might do), copies of several genealogy reports, maybe my old wedding ring from my ex, my wooden hiking stick I carved myself, a picture of the yurt I built, and a small wooden banjo that I also made. On the back of the banjo's resonator I carved a logo of the Appalachian Trail. I believe that about covers my dreams- those accomplished and those unfinished.

If I could ever get the poll feature working at his blog site, I would love to know what YOU would place on your grave stone. In the meantime, write it in the comments section. Sorry, only one or two items allowed. Your stone is smaller than mine.

Curators and Genealogists at E.O. Austin Historical Society, PA

Meet Denise and John who are curators and genealogists at the E.O. Austin Home and Historical Society on the town square in Austin, Potter Co., PA. They were very helpful and generous in providing information on the town where my Lininger and Lentz families resided since the late 1920s. Fortunately my families of interest were not living in Austin in 1911, when the Bayliss Papermill Dam broke and torrents of water inundated the town killing about 78 people. Denise has been researching and interviewing relatives and townspeople who knew of those who died in the tragedy. Behind the couple are bricks salvaged from the destroyed town. Inscribed on the bricks are those persons known to have died in the flood; but many more were probably never known or recovered. Note brick to left of Denise (click image to enlarge) which reads, "Zella Lockwood died of shock the following day [after the flood]. The disaster occurred at a time when many single, recent immigrants were in town working in the paper mills, and whose families and friends just stopped hearing from them.

For example, my grandfather's brother Julius Strike abandoned his wife and child in the early 1900s and was never heard from again. He never turned up in subsequent censuses or other documents. Did Julius also meet a similar fate as these Austin flood victims? What is known is that Julius' abandoned wife, the former Leah Lewis, re-married a Delbert Lininger and was living in Austin when she died in 1929. Leah and Delbert's daughter, Marcia Gretchen Lininger, grew up in the town and married Richard E. Lentz, Jr, in 1940. They are buried in Austin's Forest Hills Cemetery. A complete transcription of the cemetery is available at the Austin Historical Home.

By the way, as I entered town on this day, I read a sign which read, "Welcome to Austin, Judy Bolton Country". The curators told me that a town native, Rachel Beebe, wife of William Sutton, was the author of several, well-known children's mysteries. She wrote under the pen name of Margaret Sutton. The protagonist in Margaret's books was a girl named Judy Bolton and the setting of her books of course was a rural, mountainous town like Austin. The museum's collections carried several of Margaret Sutton's books. Margaret's husband, William, was an author himself and wrote the History of Potter County.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Potter County Courthouse in Coudersport PA

Here, I recorded marriages of Lininger and Lentz families. Interesting data to import into my genealogical database ... on the next update. But in the meantime, I can tell you that the courthouse had one volume of deaths and one volume of births which were recorded between 1893 and 1905, inclusive. Like most counties in PA, one must contact the Bureau of Vital Statistics in New Castle, PA, for births after 1905. The cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have their own offices for vital statics.

Marriage records were indexed on computer. In marriage volume 13, no. 1940-07327, I recorded one couple of interest:

RICHARD FRALEY LENTZ, JR, laborer, 21, born in Austin, s/o Richard, of Nenova, PA, and Ruth, nee. VAN WHY, of Gardeau, PA; and MARCIA GRETCHEN LININGER, 18, born Costello, PA, d/o Delbert Lininger, deceased, of Keating, PA, and Leah, nee. LEWIS, deceased, of Phillipsburg, PA; married 2 Sep 1940, by Rev. Harry W. Richey. Consent for bride's marriage given by Mrs. Ada Lininger AUSTIN, sister of the bride and legal guardian.

While I was in town, I also drove by the Potter County Historical Society which is just a block down the street from the courthouse, in front of the post office. Unfortunately, the Society's home office was closed. Hours: Mon and Fri, 1-4 p.m. and Thurs, 6:30-8:30. I hope I can return on another day. It's only a two-day drive ;-(

Potter County is also part of a regional 6 county organization called the Painted Hills Genealogical Society (four counties in NY and two in PA).

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ligonier Scottish Highland Games 2007 PA

Hot and humid but having a great time. After a week of gathering family history in PA, I drove over to Ligonier, near Pittsburgh, for the Scottish Games. We camped out at Forbe's Trail campground and gathered for a ceilidh that night. Ceilidh is the Gaelic word for "visit" indicating that the event started out as an informal gathering at people's homes usually with lively music and dancing. And that's what we did. Ben called a reel and we danced around the flying embers of huge bonfire which Jack had prepared earlier in the day. At some point the McRowdies came marching down the side of the mountain, led by a boy holding a lantern. Bagpipes echoed off the hillside. It was an event that my grandchildren and I will never forget.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Austin Dam Disaster Memorial State Park PA

On the way north from Austin to Coudersport, Potter Co., Pennsylvania, I passed a state park which is still being developed to memorialize Pennsylvania's second worst disaster due to a dam failure.

An Historical marker at side of Hwy states: "Austin Flood Disaster: On Sep 30, 1911, the Bayless Pulp and Paper Company dam broke here. This concrete dam, built 1909, was nearly 50 ft high; 534 ft long. It's failure sent torrents of water and debris down Freedom Run into Austin and Costello, causing great distruction and killing at least 78 people. This second worst single-dam disaster in PA inspired legislation in 1913 to regulate dam construction in the state".

In the 1930 census, Delbert Lininger, last husband of the former Leah Lewis (previously married to Julius Strike) and his sons worked for Austin paper mills.

History Museum, Austin, Potter Co., PA

My goal for gathering family history on this year's late August trip to Pennsylvania, was to determine the fate of Leah, nee. Lewis the former wife of Julius Strike. Julius was the brother of my biological grandfather, Otto Strike, and my father's adoptive mother, Martha (Streich) Kramp.

According to Leah's obituary, she died in Austin, Potter Co., PA, in 1929. She was survived by her last husband, Delbert Lininger; a daugter and son by previous marriages; and a 6 yr old daughter named Marcia Lininger.

I had previously uncovered the facts that the children of Leah's former marriages were Martha Strike (with Julius) and Gilbert Rook (with ___ Rook).

I thought the History and Genealogical Society for Potter County located in Coudersport might be able to provide more information on the Lininger family. On the way to Coudersport, I stopped in Austin to take pictures of the Methodist Church in which Leah's funeral service was reportedly conducted. Across the street from the church was Austin's Historical Society (see image above). They have a lot of information and memorabilia of Austin's Flood in 1911. I asked the curaotor if he knew anything about a Lininger family who used to live in the town at least in 1930. His gave me an affirmative answer; turned around and made a phone call, and within a few minutes I was talking to a living relative, a granddaughter of Delbert Lininger, who was visiting her daughter in town. Bingo! I never made it to the genealogical society in Coudersport this day. I was busy mining our family's genealogy right here in Austin.

Turns out Rita was the daughter of George Lininger who was Delbert Lininger's oldest son from his first marrieage to Carrie Morris. He was therefore a half brother to Leah and Delbert's only child, Marcia, and step-brother to Leah other children, Martha and Gilbert. As you can imagine, the genealogy is a little complicated to explain here, and I will have to put it in my database when I return home and then post it to my father's genealogical web site. To get the genealogy started, the 7 year old Marcia Gretchen Leninger mentioned in Leah's 1929 obituary grew up in Austin and married Richard "Bud" Lentz, and they had two children: Ruth and Gilbert- who I believe are still living.

Marcia G. Lininger (1921-1970) and Richard Lentz (1919-2002) are buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, just south of Austin, PA. And I also recorded with my digital camera several other family members buried at Forest Hill.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Kreis Wesel: homeland of Gailliot & Dissel Family Lines

Digital picture of front cover of a tourist brochure for Kreis Wesel in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany. It was mailed to me by our family friend, Rudolf, who lives in Wesel. In the center is the dominant landmark of Wesel City- The Willibrordi Cathedral or Dom. The communal and ancient Gross Markt lies beneath its spires. Around 1843 and bordering the market square was the first residence of the married couple, Anton Gailliot and Maria Dissel. About a year later, the family moved to a flat on Stone Street (Stein Str) but still within sight of the Dom. In 1848, Maria died of cancer leaving two small children, Lawrence and Karl. Anton then re-married Helena Schlebusch and they had at least 4 more children- the youngest of whom was my great grandfather, Henry Caspar Gailliot.

Last year at this time I celebrated Augustoberfest held in Wesel's "sister city" in America- Hagerstown, Maryland.

The tourist brochure also mentions a "sister district" for Kreis Wesel, which is County Durham in northern England. Amazing coincidence: My father's maternal grandfather was baptised and resided for over 30 years in County Durham, before he immigrated to America with his family in about 1881.

Review of Free Internet Photo Albums

This month ends the free photo album feature at For several years I have posted pictures to two Yahoo albums, one for each of my two Yahoo accounts. I linked the albums to my personal web page, this blog, and also to a couple of genealogical web sites I maintain. A nice feature at Yahoo Photos was that visitors did not have to register a user name or password to access my Albums, and thus, guests could link to my pictures directly. Now, I must move my photos from Yahoo to another Internet photo service by the end of the month and visitors will probably have to go through the hassle of registering to see my photos. Realize that most of these sites gather their revenue by on-site advertisements or by selling reprints and other photo products to the user. So, I have been shopping at some of the more popular sites to see the basic features of each. Most sites require registration- which is free. Also, one can do the most common edits of their photos: crop, red-eye fix, rotate, flip, instant fix, and add captions and borders. Also, one can tag and organize photos and albums Other unique features or information include: is partnered with Yahoo. One can use the same user name and password for both accounts. is the site for Kodak EasyShare. Up to sixty images can be uploaded at a time. More marketing than other sites. One can invite friends without having them register. is partnered with Target Stores. Users can order and go to their local Target stores and obtain "shopping cart" items, such as prints, calendars, and photo books. is a service of Hewlett Packard and is powered by Earthlink (whew!). Users can order and pickup photos at Walgreen Drug stores. Uploading photos from my MOBILE phone was an easy set-up, but there is a time lag of a day or two between uploading photos and their actual appearance on-line. On the other hand, I can upload photos from my computer almost instantly I haven't registered here yet. Can anybody add comments? I registered at this site with the same user name and password that I use for my The site is sponsored by Google. I have a choice of keeping my photo albums private or opening them to the pubic (at ). Visitors do NOT have to register. Also, I can view my Picasa Alums on my mobile phone but can't upload them. Images are automatically resized to fit my phone's screen. is great for creating slide shows with a running commentary which the user can add by dialing up on the phone. The site is supported by one of the largest Internet sites for genealogical research- by subscription. and are good sites for presenting one's genealogy and family photos. Footnote is partnered with the National Archives and is being used as a public reference and resource site. Geni is private for the user but can be shared with selected family members.

I will be adding more sites and comments as I do more shopping.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Linotype Operators: A Dead Occupation

Took picture of this Linotype machine on display in a front window of the Clearfield Progess Newspaper building, Clearfield Co., PA. The poster reads: "For many years, the linotype was an integral part of the newspaper business. With growth of the offset printing process and the change from hot metal type to computers and other complicated machinery, the linotype machine is, as the Model T Ford, a museum piece. The Linotype is a Comet 300 model built by Mergenthalen Linotype Company, NY.

Several of my ancestors were or became coal miners after they immigrated to America and settled in western PA. None of their descendants are coal miners today. Mining was and still is a dangerous occupation, and I can understand why my ancestors wanted to get out of the industry.

In the early 1930s, my father's biological brother, Russell Stryke, nee. Strike, was a composing room foreman at the Alexandria Gazette in Virginia. He traveled to Ramey, Clearfield Co, PA, and convinced his aunt, Martha Streich Kramp, who was fostering his younger brother, Robert, that he could apprentice him to the printing trade. So, my father, at the age of 16, learned to be a linotype operator at the Alexandria Gazette, and later at The Washington Evening Star, and finally at the Government Printing Office, Patent Section.

As a young boy, I remember going downtown in the District of Columbia (Washington, DC), to the Evening Star building and meeting my father at his job in a room full of Linotype machines. All the surfaces were black with ink and the room smelled of ink. I can understand why it is said that a printer has ink in his blood. Dad showed me how he sat at the keyboard and clinked the keys so that individual letters made out of hot lead fell into a tray at his side. Eventually a mold of the composition would be formed and taken to the presses where it was inked and pressed into the rolls of newsprint.

Incidentally, I was at the Clearfield Progress to obtain the recent obituary of Thomas H. HAAS, son of John G. Haas and Cora Mae EMIGH. Thomas died earlier this year at the age of 79 years.

Family History is where you find it.

Stempfly Descendants peruse Photo Album

Beverly Stempfly Myers (left), daughter of William Carl Stempfly and Verna E. Barger, looks over the Stemfly family photo album with her nieces, Sue Foust (right) and Carol. The latter sisters are the daughters of William Carl Stempfly, Jr, and Leneta (Perna). We gathered at the Centre County Grange Fair, PA, on last weekend of August and shared genealogical notes and photos.

Reminder Note: Click on the picture to enlarge; click on your browser's back arrow to return to blog.