Friday, February 29, 2008

St. Severin Catholic, Drifting, PA, Marriage location of Bertha Hohnke and George Haas

Image: St. Severin Catholic Church, near Drifting in northeast Clearfield Co, Cooper Twp, PA. Bertha Hohnke and George Haas were married here on 30 Aug 1887. The log-built St. Severin's was established in 1851, and is on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. A graveyard next to the church contains tombstones of the Gable family (Mrs. Bertha Hohnke Haas' daughter, Ottilia Haas, married Clarence Gable). Bishop John NEUMANN, who was America's first saint, was said to have come from Philadelphia to dedicate and bless St. Severin's church. St. John Neuman, also called the immigrant shepherd, was born in Bohemia, Germany

Do not confuse this Bishop John Neumann with his contemporary, the English-born, Cardinal John Henry NEWMAN. The latter never came to America and was better known, probably because of his prolific writings. Cardinal John H. Newman converted from The Anglican Church to Catholicism and wrote several books defending the Roman Catholic Church. He has been on the path to sainthood and in 2007, his "sainthood was imminent". The Cause lacked further proof of miracles which he was purported to have performed. I don't know the criteria for sainthood, but at least one them is the power to perform miracles. Another criterion, though perhaps not official, is that there is little deterioration or decay of the body after death.

The Wikipedia (Feb 2008) states: "[John Henry Newman] held that, apart from an interior and unreasoned conviction [in other words, faith], there is no cogent proof of the existence of God; and in Tract 85 he dealt with the difficulties of the Creed and of the canon of Scripture, with the apparent implication that they are insurmountable unless overridden by the authority of an infallible Church. [JHN had once implied an opposition to the Catholic Church's policy that the Pope is Infallible]. In his own case, these views did not lead to skepticism, because he had always possessed the necessary interior conviction; and in writing Tract 85 his only doubt would have been where the true Church is to be found. But, so far as the rest of the world is concerned, his teaching amounts to this: that the man who has not this interior conviction has no choice but to remain an agnostic, while the man who has it is bound sooner or later to become a Catholic." [For non-Catholics, I imagine this would be hard to swallow]

"The University he founded, the Catholic University of Ireland, has since evolved into University College Dublin, Ireland's largest University which has contributed significantly to Ireland's development over the last 150 years."

On Xmas, 2007, my mother's first cousin, Henry J. Gailliot, sent me a card in which his family is pictured on the steps of "The Gailliot Center for Newman Studies"- a library founded by Henry at his Alma mater, Carnegie University, in Pittsburgh. The library will contain many of the writings by Cardinal John Henry Newman and apartments for visiting scholars. My family tree, both branches, seems to becoming entwined with these holy men of the Catholic Church. For more on the John Newman Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, go here and here.

Incidentally, the Catholic Newman centers and clubs at various universities across the county are named after Cardinal John Henry Newman, including my Alma Mater, the University of Maryland.

1910 Souvenir Card from Pleasant Hill Grammar School, Houtzdale, Clearfield Co, PA

(click image for larger view)
One of my genealogical buddies sent me this vintage souvenir booklet from his hometown's grammar school. The cardboard booklet was probably tied together in one corner with a ribbon. I have really enjoyed Ellwood's knowledge of the town where my father and many of his family and friends lived. I heard stories of my dad and his boyhood chums jumping on the cars of the "Pennsy", the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, as it slowly climbed the hill through Ramey, PA, and then traveled on to Houtzdale. As the train slowed down through the next town, the boys jumped off the train, cleared the surrounding fences and headed toward a cowboy movie at the Sherkel theater.

One time, as the kids jumped off the train, they heard a loud hiss and several of the railroad cars separated. They thought they had disconnected the cars by some mishap. As one of the riders told me many years later, "We not only cleared the fence, we didn't even seeee the fence".

Over the years, I've done quite a bit genealogical research regarding inhabitants of the town- going through local cemeteries, reading old parish records of the German Lutheran church, and searching censuses. I recognized some of the names on this souvenir card.

Julius Viebahn, one of the school officers, was a leader of the German community. His daughter, Elizabeth Viehbahn, was apparently a teacher at Pleasant Hill. While most of Julius' German associates were coal miners, I believe Julius was a very successful merchant. A few years ago, another researcher named Rick contacted me because he was trying to collect data on all the Viebahn families in America. I sent him a picture of "our" Julius' tombstone in Brisbin cemetery. I was disappointed he didn't acknowledge my donation. But he had posted on his web site an image of a beer stein imprinted with the name of Julius Viebahn which I now present and acknowledge below:

The mug was made in PA, so perhaps "our" Julius had them manufactured to promote his business in Houtzdale.

Sadly, one of Julius' young children died at 10 years of age. The Parish Record of the German Lutheran church recorded that "Emil Viebahn, son of Julius Viebahn and wife, Margarethe, was born in 1890, died 9 Nov 1900 and buried 11 Nov, in Brisbin Cemetery, PA. The funeral in church was overcrowded. - Pastor E.A. Born". That was the second son of Julius to die at a young age. Both sons are buried at the I.O.O.F. cemetery in Brisbin.

Some of the students listed in the souvenir booklet were actually related to the teacher's mother. Mrs. Margarethe Viehbahn, nee. Lewis, was the aunt of Mabel Samuels and her younger brother, Edward Samuels, through their grandfather, Owen Lewis. You will have to go to the genealogical chart of my Father's web site to follow that relationship. Point is: school discipline was probably a family affair.

There are two Barnes children listed as students. There were probably related to Mr Thomas Barnes who started up coal mining operations in a young town in Cambria County, PA, which they named Barnesboro in his honor. The honor did not last, because at the millenium in 2000, the towns' father's merged Barnesboro with the adjoining town of Spangler and created a "modern" entity which they called "Northern Cambria" which I think is forgettable (is it north or northern?). And darn, another piece of my heritage gone.

Incidentally, William Todhunter, President School Officer, was also an official of Barnesboro Coal Company.

Oh yes, Nellie Rhodes, another student, was the mother-in-law of Ellwood Zimmerman, who sent me the images of this booklet. Nellie Dainty's mother, Mary Ann, nee. Dainty, was linked to my Hartley Line through her sister's marriage (Emma Dainty married Thomas Hartley in 1892). Got all that?

Source of Souvenir Booklet: Ellwood Zimmerman

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wesel, Germany, values its heritage by reconstructing the Rathaus facade to its former splendor

The honorable Ulrike Westkamp, Mayor of Wesel, Germany, participates in the laying of foundation stone for the reconstruction of the Town Hall (Rathaus). To the right, on stage, is a poster of what the new facade will look like. Barely seen above the heads of the audience is the foundation stone including the cylindrical, brass-colored, time capsule. Inscribed on the stone:

"28 Oktober 2007. Grundsteinlegung zur Wiedererichtung der Flamisch- Gotishen Steinfassade der Rathaus der Hansestadt Wesel, 1455 erbaut- 1698 ernbuert- 1945 zerstort".

[translated: 28 Oct 2007. Laying of Foundation stone for the reconstruction of the Flemish- Gothic stone facade of the Town Hall of Hanseatic Wesel, built 1455, rebuilt 1698, destroyed 1945].

Some of the crowd which attended the laying of the foundation stone for the reconstruction of the Town Hall in Wesel, Germany.

The event took place during the Hanseatic Festival in October 2007. This picture was taken looking toward the southeast corner of the Great Market Square (Gross Markt). For centuries this is where vendors sold food and other goods to the citizens of Wesel. Behind the hand-held banner in this picture was the approximate location (No. 135 Gross Markt) for the residence of my ancestral Gailliot family in the year 1843. The former residence was destroyed in the last months of WW II.

A future view of the reconstructed Gross Market Square by Jaeger Architectural Firm- looking west toward the Willibrordi Dom (already rebuilt in the 1950s). The future Rathaus with cupola and restored stone facade is to the left of the Dom. The former residence of my great, great grandfather, Anton Gailliot, would have been to the far left, just out of view.

Source of the first two images: Mrs. Maria Kerbitz, born de Vries.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gifts of Family History from Rudolf, in Wesel, Germany

On the wall of my office, I have a beautiful calendar showing views from the Lower Rhein Valley (Niederrhein in German). On the right bank of the Rhine River where the Lippe canal meets the river lies Wesel, Germany. It is the homeland (Heimat) of the Gailliot family. The calandar was sent to me on Christmas by my friend and fellow family historian, Rudolf Kerbitz. In addition, Rudolf sent me several other gems for our Family History, such as a tourist brochure of Wesel which included an historical "Stadtchronik Wesel" (chronical of Wesel City). The article contained vintage photos of the City before it was bombed during the last months of WW II. Over 90 percent of the City was destroyed. However, the city recovered and reconstructed many of the buildings and churches- including the Dom or Cathedral. One building project which has just begun is the restoration of the old Rathaus. A corner stone containing a time capsul was laid last October, 2007, during the celebration of Wesel's former membership in the ancient Hanseatic League. Wesel was a commercial partner along the trading route between Koln (Cologne) and Amsterdam. Today, Wesel has formed partnerships between Hagerstown, MD, and ironically, Durham, England, from where my father's maternal branch, the Russell family, emigrated.

Most important in my gift package were copies of several pages from a recently published transcript, "Das Kirchenbuch der Katholisch Kirchengemeinde St. Mariae Himmelfahrt Wesel, Heiraten 1835 bis 1849", compiled by Kurt Grüter. This publication contains Marriage entries between these dates at the Catholic church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Wesel. Fortunately, both the first and the second marriages of Anton Gailliot were documented:

Firstly, Anton Gailliot, born 16 May 1816, in Saarbrücken, son of Johann GAILLIOT and Elisabeth PIERRE; married on 2 May 1841, in Wesel, to Maria DISSEL, born 29 Jan 1814, in Wesel, daughter of Andreas Dissel and Maria HÜNING. Zeugen (witnesses) Heinrich Müller, Gertrude Dehörs.

Secondly, Anton Gailliot, witwer (widower) of Maria Dissert (sic), born 16 May 1815, in Saarbrucken, son of Johann Gailliot and Elisabeth PIERNE (sic); married on 22 Oct 1848, in Wesel, to Johann Helena Theodora SCHLEBUSCH, born 2 Sep 1819, in Rees [Germany], daughter of Johann Schlebusch and Johanna OFFENBERG; Zeugen (witnesses): Heinrich Dissel, Mechtildis Wagener.

You may have noticed the discrepancy for Anton Gailliot's birth year and the different maiden surnames for Anton's mother (Pierre and Pierne). Close match, but anything less wouldn't be a challenge, would it?

Thank you Rudolf, I'm extremely grateful.

For more views of Niederrhein, including a few of Wesel, go to Heinz' Picasa album at:

Charles Gailliot was a full-blooded brother of Henry Gailliot rather than his half-brother

Tombstone for Charles Gailliot, 1847-1895, and his second wife, Mary [Jund], 1860-1933, at St. Mary's cemetery, Lawrenceville, PA. However, not all things written in stone are true- particularly in genealogical research.

Recently, I discovered a reference which will substantially change our Gailliot Genealogy. Previously, I thought that Charles (or Karl) Gailliot was a half-brother of my great grandfather, Henry Caspar Gailliot, based on the former's estimated birth year. See picture of the early Gailliot family in previous blog entry. I have five sources for Charles Gailliot's birth year of which three indicated he was born in 1847; and two sources, in 1849. The difference in the two dates is significant, because the FIRST WIFE of Anton Gailliot, the father of Charles and Henry, died on 2 August 1848. So if Charles was born a year before his mother died, he would be a half-brother of Henry who was born in 1862 of Anton and his second wife, Helen Schlebusch. The evidence:

1. Charles Gailliot's tombstone inscription indicates his birth year was 1847.
2. The cemetery records of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Pittsburgh states Charles was fatally injured after being run over by a train in Mar, 1895, when he was 48 years old (estimated born about 1847).
3. From Charles Gailliot's Civil Death Registration at Pittsburgh courthouse his estimated birth year from his age, 48 years, when he died in Mar 1895 is 1847 (1895-48=1847). Also, it states his MOTHER was "Marie" who died in Aug 1848, suggesting that Charles must have been born before 1848.
4. Charles' parish marriage record states he was 25 years old when he married Barbara Weitmuller on 21 May 1874; estimated born 1849 (1874-25=1849).
5. From Pittsburgh Marriages Registration: Charles was 33 years old when he married his second wife, Mary Jund, in 1882; estimated born 1849 (1882-33=1849).

The most compelling evidence for Charles' birth year until now was the third source listed above- his Civil Death Registration. HOWEVER, I just discovered a pair of 1891 passport applications (at for both Charles Gailliot and his younger brother, Henry, which states Charles was born specifically on 10 June 1849. In other words, both Charles and Henry Gailliot could only be the sons of Anton's SECOND wife, who was Helen Schlebusch. Thus, Charles and Henry were full-blooded brothers rather than half-brothers.
Indeed, the parish death entry for Anton's FIRST wife stated she was survived by only one son, Laurenz Gailliot. Subsequently, I found a later parish record that stated Laurenz Gailliot died at 16 years and 6 months, on 7 Feb 1862- only 2 days before Henry Gailliot was born, on Feb 9th. What a mixture of grief and joy those days must have been for the Gailliot family.

Further evidence has been discovered by Rudolf Kerbitz, my genealogy collaborator in Germany, in a recent publication, "Marriage Transcriptions of St. Maria Himmelfahrt in Wesel". Anton Gailliot married secondly to Helen Schlebush on 22 Oct 1848- only 3 months after his first wife, Marie Dissel, passed away. And then, along came the birth of Charles Gailliot just 8 months later. It all seems to fit- ever so tightly!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Gailliot Line- Introduction to First Generation

The first image above includes Anton Gailliot and the five children by his SECOND wife, Johanna "Helene" Theodora Schlebusch. Relatively more recent portaits of individual family members were miniturized and superimposed on the larger family portrait. A copy of the original, larger portrait was emailed to me by Beth Holycross Gailliot. However, the whole project was made possible through an international effort. The portraits of the parents, Anton and Helene, were emailed to me two years ago by Gunter Lade who resides in Halle/Saale, in former East Germany. Gunter is descended from Elise Gailliot, on far left, who married Friedrich Meier. She and her descendents remained in Germany. Gunter is my third cousin, once removed; our common ancestors are Anton and Helene. Gunter stumbled onto one my genealogical web sites for my mother's branch of the family tree at GeneaNet. Gunter recognized the connection, and later sent me pictures, including his 3x great grandmother, Elise. He also sent me images from several family documents, called Familienbuchen in Germany, which linked him to the Gailliot family and eventually to me.

In the second image, birth and death dates are included- some dates are unknown or approximated. Two brothers in this first generation, Karl Anton and Heinrich Casper, eventually emigrated to America after which they anglicized their names to Charles and Henry. Henry was my maternal great grandfather. The genealogy behind these photographs has also been an international effort. The family portrait was probably taken in Wesel, Germany which turned out to be significant. Indeed, a very special relationship has developed between myself and Herr Rudolf Kerbitz, who is a resident of Wesel. Our initial contact was through a simple email inquiry. Some of my father's ancestors were from Pommern (Pomerania in English) and I posted a baptismal note from a Bertha Johanna Kramp on my Father's branch website. She was baptised in Beckel, Kries Stolp, Hinterpommern (now part of Pomorski, Poland) and her patron was a man named Albert Kerbitz. Though we have not made a genetic connection between Rudolf Kerbitz and my family yet, we continue to search for the identity of Albert Kerbitz so that perhaps we can determine a family link.

Wesel, Germany, lies on the right bank of the Rhine River near the mouth of the Lippe tributary. During WW II, about 90 percent of the town was destroyed by Allied bombs. Every building and every church was reduced to rubble and obviously many church records as well as other historic items were lost. Amazingly the City of Wesel was rebuilt and is thriving today. I visited the city in 2001, and took many pictures of the rebuilt town and particularly its two Catholic churches, St. Mariae Himmelfahrt (Assumption of the Virgin Mary) and St. Martini. And I visited my friend, Rudolf Kerbitz and his family.

Remarkably, Rudolf has been a great help in providing data and history to the Gailliot genealogy. He enjoys rummaging through flea markets and has discovered several graphics of what the former city and churches looked like before the war and has generously shared these items with me. One Christmas, Rudolf sent me a phonograph record of a concert performed in St. Mariae Himmelfahrt, where my great grandfather, Henry Gailliot, was baptized in 12 Feb 1862. Incidentally, the baptism was recorded on microfilm by the LDS church, which apparently survived in the archives at nearby Munster. Rudolf was instrumental in translating this record first into German from the Latin and then from German into English. Though the source of this particular record was the LDS church, there have been many other records which were obtained only through the efforts of Rudolf Kerbitz, such as a vintage map showing the likely home of Helene's maternal family, the Offenburg family. And, a photograph of the actual house and the chapel in the Offenburg's home town. There is so much more.

I can't resist giving one more example here. The Gailliot patriarch was a Schumachermeister- a Master shoemaker or cobbler. In an old city directory, Rudolf found a listing of the former address of Anton's cobbler shop at No 913 Kreuzstrasse. In addition, Rudolf discovered a vintage photograph of the same street which showed a distant view of Anton's cobbler shop. With the help of Adobe Photoshop, Rudolf focused, magnified, and rendered a picture of the cobbler shop which now hangs in my house. Can you imagine the good fortune.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Time flies. Just a short while ago ...

My Father really enjoyed photography. He had a photo-enlarger in the basement and taught me how to use it and to mix the chemicals needed to make prints from 35 mm negatives. He taught me little tricks to bring out the shadows or to dull over-exposed areas of the film. I can still remember the vinegar-like smell of acetic acid- the fixer. Dad only worked with black and white film; he trusted the color film (Ektachrome) to the commercial developers. Nevertheless, he meticulously preserved and organized his color slides. He put the 35 mm developed slides between two thin glass plates and taped the edges.

Yesterday, I scanned at total of about 70 of these color, glass slides including some black and white 35 mm negatives using my 9420 Visioneer Model scanner. For slides and negatives, one must use a much higher resolution, about 1600 dpi for scanning negatives versus 300 dpi for 4x6 prints.

Here, I posted one of Dad's pictures he took of my mother in about 1949. We were on a visit to the farm of my Dad's adopted father, Robert William Kramp, in Ramey, Clearfield Co., Pennsylvania. We called him "Pop Kramp". Looking at this image, I am reminded of how short life seems to be. My mother was just a girl here and now she'll be 88 this year.

Dad at Nelson Rd, Bethesda, MD

This is my Dad sitting at our picnic table with Mr. Quack Quack. Picture was taken perhaps a year or two after we moved to our house in suburban, Bethesda, MD. We moved in September 1948, from an apartment at Auburn Gardens in Del Ray, VA, to this house which I believe was then called a bungalow- but you don't hear that term much anymore. Today, families live in "ranch estates". My mother's father had died in February of the same year we moved; so unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to see his daughter's new house.

Our neighborhood was a great place to grow up. My brother and I walked to Alta Vista and attended all six years of elementary school there before we had to walk or ride our bikes a little further to attend North Bethesda Junior High School. I served newspapers and probably served longer than any other subsequent deliverer. On windy or rainy days, I took a little more time-consuming effort to put newpapers inside stormdoors and was rewarded at Xmas time with a couple boxes of candy. My employer, The Washington Evening Star, had the bright idea of letting newspaper boys sell Calendars at Xmas time to make a small yearly bonus.

One day I came home from school to discover that Mr. Quack Quack had been given to Mr. Farmer to spend the rest of this days swimming in a very large beautiful pond. And Mom and Dad seemed to really enjoy the recovery of our lawn.