Monday, August 25, 2008

Genealogy featured on NBC's Today Show

I just finished watching NBC's Today Show episode of Meredeth Vieira's search for her roots on one of the islands of the Azores, Portugal. Meredeth traveled to the islands with one of her teen-aged sons and a nephew. She was very fortunate to find some of her Flemish and Portuguese ancestors and their descendants still living on the island. I was very touched when I saw Meredith meeting one of her aged female ancestors (I believe her name was Anna). I say "saw" because Anna was or had become speechless. I suspect she had become senile, unfortunately. What stories Anna could have told of the family's history.

At least Meredeth had a chance to see an old family photograph in which she was able to compare herself, as a young girl, with another girl who was once of the same age. That girl in the old family portrait was now the aged and silent Anna. The physical similarity was remarkable.

On the show, we were shown the old house behind the church in which Meredeth's grandfather was baptized. Also, we saw another family house in the port village, the door rusted and melded shut with age and a few old trunks rotting away inside. The episode was very emotional for me to watch- because I have experienced many of the same feelings that Meredeth felt as she toured her family's homelands and learned of some the colorful culture out of which she came. I believe she finally learned how to correctly pronouce her surname, Vieira; now, if she could just learn to trill her R's.

Bravo NBC's Today Show; I was greatly motivated to keep searching for my own roots and to preserve it for future generations. Someday, someone may appreciated it. Because like the old house in Merideth's video, the door to the past will eventually be stuck closed and then rot into dust. Some of it already has.

References and Links:
I could not immediately see Meredeth's genealogy episode on the Today Show's web site. Perhaps it will show up later. However, the episode appears to be part of a series beginning 25 Aug 2008. In the meantime we can keep looking for a reference at the Show's homepage:

Try the following link and click on the video, "Meredith Discovers her Roots":

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kramp Roads, PA Rest Stops and Kilt Towels

I believe there are many members of the Kramp tribe in Ontario, Canada. One of the visitors who I met at the Joseph Schneider Haus and Museum in Kitchener, Ontario, told me he had an uncle named Milton Kramp. I did not ask him if Milton lived at the end of Kramp Road, but my traveling companion did take a picture of the road. He was probably lost at the time, but the road lies somewhere between Kitchener and Guelph, Ontario (link to my Picasa Gallery and look at map).

The roads on our return home from Ontario eventually led us down Interstate 81 through New York to Pennsylvania. We stopped just inside the border near Summit, PA. The sign read, "Smile. You're in Pennsylvania, State of Independence". Well, OK, here goes. I believe "Independence" refers to the Liberty Bell which was located in Independence Hall, Philadephia. I should've asked, but actually, I thought all retirees were in the state of Independence.

I thought it was a neat idea to exhibit coal mining equipment at the Information Center and Rest Stop. Below is a picture of me standing next to a "Lokie". It is a battery-operated locomotive and car which once hauled anthracite coal through the mine tunnels toward the surface. It replaced the living, animal mule and increased coal production. This low-type Scout model locomotive was built by Greensburg Machine Company, near Pittsburgh, PA.

My late uncle Orville Shugar, husband of the former Bernice Kramp, was a former anthracite coal miner who lived in Wilkes-Barre, PA, just off I-81. Other Kramp relatives were also coal miners, but most of them mined soft coal (sulphur-rich) in western Pennsylvania, particularly along the Moshannon Vien in Clearfield County.

While we were in Ontario, a Scottish Highland Games was being held in Fergus, Ontario. My friend went to the Games while I finished up some last minute touring in Kitchener. I usually shun the wearing of heavy wool kilts during Scottish Games held in the heat of summer for obvious reason of discomfort. Hardly a breeze ever runs up me open legs, lad. However, my friend found a solution at one of the vendors at Fergus. It is a cotton towel designed like a kilt, complete with fancy sporron (the purse in front). Now, I can step out of a shower and right into a kilt. Would it be blasphemous to wear it at the next Scottish Games even in 92 degree temperatures?

Image: An answer to wearing hot wool kilts in the middle of the summer? If you dare, click on the sporron to enlarge.

Technical Note: I believe I finally got the hang of uploading images in a blog entry so that clicking on any one of them will enlarge it.
1. Upload all your images first, in the REVERSE order you want to present them. Pre-numbering the images helps. You can only upload 5 images initially. Additional images can be added, but they will not enlarge if you click on them.
2. Fill in the text, one pargraph at a time between each image if that is your wish.
3. You can add images at a later time, but they will not enlarge if you click on them.
Takes some planning and inhibits spontanaeity, but it works.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vintage Cars and Automobile Art

Posted Tuesday, 19 Aug 2008
Earlier this summer, someone in our genealogy group suggested we post blog entries on the history of our family cars. I could really have a lot of fun with this topic. However, I need to find and scan a few more pictures before I'm ready to post an entry- we've gone through a lot of cars in our family. In any case, on my recent trip to Cambridge (formerly Galt) in Ontario, Canada, I bumped into a vintage car show. The cars were lined up on main street (see below) with the spire of a Presbyterian Church way in the background.

One of the ladies in our group recently attended a vintage car show near Detroit and brought back many pictures of hood ornaments- to illustrate her family cars. But, I doubt if she saw an ornament like the one pictured below on the hood of a vintage model Oldsmobile. I would even be proud to mount it on the seat of my humped-back camel- if I had one.

Then there was the interior of a 1962 Plymouth Fury, complete with heart-throbing red-colored dashboard, rugs, and dice. Plenty of room in the front seat for making-out at the local drive-in while watching a movie probably starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson.

Which brings me to my own family history. My first cousin, Clifford Russell McKillop, son of Calvin McKillop and the former Gladys Strike, worked in the field of Automobile Art . You will not hear much about this specific style of art nowadays, because it is a "lost art", pretty much replaced by photographs and computer graphics. Cliff was one of three artists at a company called Graffix Concepts which operated out of Warren, Michigan, near Detroit. They used to create, by hand, detailed paintings of automobiles and parts of autos- mostly dashboards. Depicted below is the dashboard of a 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta Convertible. The signature of "C.McKillop" can be seen in the lower, right-hand corner. The painting was represented in a long, horizontal graphic poster; so, I had to take a two-part digital picture. The second picture is the left-hand side of the poster showing the driving wheel and gear shift. The painting shows incredible detail- note the reflections and shadows on the chrome. I understand it took Cliff 82 hours of patient, hand-painting to complete.

Image: right-hand side of painting Left-hand side of painting.

This painting and four others of vintage automobile close-ups were commissioned by Automotive News as part of the 100th anniversary of the Automobile in America according to the magazine article which Cliff's wife mailed to me years ago. About 2500 limited edition copies of the paintings were distributed to car lovers around the world. Incidentally, it was sometime around 1994, that I met Cliff and his wife, Betty Jean, at their home in Hazel Park, Michigan. It was a first time meeting for us but why so late in our respective lives? My Father was adopted and I met only a few of my first cousins during my early years. I finally discovered what I had been missing.

Friday, August 15, 2008

More on Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Technical Note: Clicking on the images below will not enlarge them for reasons known only to Google. I will try to fix, but in the meantime, you can see larger images by linking to my Gallery at Picasa (blogger album). Scroll down, right-hand column.

My thoughts are still on my recent trip to Ontario (see last two entries). It was actually several years ago that I discovered the 1945 probated estate of Thomas Dawson which mentions that two of his children had migrated to "Galt", in Ontario, Canada. I was a little confused of exactly where Galt was located. Well, it turns out that the town was incorporated about 1975 into the town of Cambridge along with 3 or 4 other municipalities. I also read about nearby Kitchener which was formerly known as Berlin but had undergone the name change during WW I. It seemed like the area had an identity crisis. One landmark that I particularly wanted to visit was the Joseph Schneider Haus in Kitchener- a museum which would explain the area's early history. The Following image is a tourist map of Kitchener, tagged with the locations of our room at the Comfort Inn, the Joseph Schneider Haus, and the Kitchener Public Library which houses the Grace Schmidt Room for genealogical research.

It was pretty easy to catch a ride on the Grand River Transit bus which traveled down King Street into downtown Kitchener. I paid the base rate of 2.50 dollars Canadian so I could travel anywhere in the Waterloo Region for 90 minutes. The first time I got on the bus, I was 50 cents short of the exact amount. But a kind lady offered to make up the difference. Nice people, these Canadians. With gas prices rising though the roof, we all might get used to public transportation. I might add that you see things on a bus ride that you would never see riding in your own car. I'll save those episodes for later. I got off the bus at the major intersection of King and Queen Streets which was central to my destinations.

On the way to the Kitchener Public Library, I ran into several landmarks which provided a glimpse into the multi-ethnic nature of Kitchener's founding. At the entrance to the courthouse, there were three identical historical markers with the exception that each was written in a different language: German, French, or English.

Rather than have you squint, I will read some of it for you:

"Waterloo County held its first council meeting on January 24, 1853, on this site, at the newly built county courthouse in Berlin (now Kitchener). Council's 12 members came from 5 districts (North Dumfries, Waterloo, Wellesley, Wilmot, Woolwich), and two villages, (Galt, Preston) and selected the reeve of Waterloo Township, Dr. John Scott, as the county's first Warden. ..."

Still further down Queen Street, I came upon a small green or park which was dedicated to Emil Vogelsang (1834-1894) who was Berlin's first button maker. His Germanic name translates "bird song". Later at the library, I picked up a history book which had a picture of one of Vogelsang's buttons made out of ivory wood. Real ivory would have been rather expensive for buttons- realize that buttons have a pretty unique history themselves. Does anybody remember collecting a big jar of buttons? If you didn't, then your grandmother certainly did.

Later in the afternoon, with dark clouds threatening, I made my walk to the Joseph Schneider Haus. The historical marker above about says it all. You may have to click on the image to read it (sorry, glitch; you'll have to link to my Picassa album). Schneider's house, built in 1820, is Kitchener's oldest dwelling. The owner was a Mennonite who migrated to the area from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His brother-in-law was well-known in the region as the Mennonite Bishop, Eby. That name and other German names such as Weber (pronounced like Weeeber) can be found on street signs all around the town.

Image: Exterior view of the Joseph Schneider house.

I entered the Haus just as the interpreters were cleaning up after their lunch. They occupy the house during the day, but don't actually live there. Incidentally, the automatic dishwasher in my house has never been used. I can't justify the expense of heating up water to clean the dishes of it's sole user- me. My daughters will verify this: I tried to convince them to wash dishes by hand because I still believe it builds character.

I walked upstairs to look at the room pictured below- the computer room. Just kidding.

And finally after a hard day's touring, I sat down to a nice big slice of homemade elderberry pie- the whole thing. Just kidding again. But wish I wasn't. Has a museum treated you recently with such hospitality?

Y'see if I was really a member of Joseph Schneider's family, I would have donned my straw hat and overalls, gone out to the garden and worked off a few calories. Not that I need to.


Joseph Scheider Haus . Be sure to click on Joseph's biography and the "On-line collections"

The Grace Schmidt Room for genealogists, Kitchener, Ontario

Sunday, August 10, 2008

John "Jack" Dawson: Obituary and Tombstone in Ontario, Canada

Posted Sunday, 10 Aug 2008, 5:00 am
The only time you're really in a hurry and don't have time to wait forever, the computer and Internet go crazy. I can't load any images. Failed three times now. In the meantime, I wonder how long my traveling companion can hold out; he's ready to GO. And by the way, we're traveling in HIS car. It's a long walk from Ontario to North Carolina. Let's try to upload just the simple text of the obituary.

Revised Monday, 11 Aug 2008, 10:00

Yesterday morning, before leaving Kitchener, Canada, I was able to successfully upload the text of John "Jack" Dawson's obituary to my blog, but I couldn't upload any images until now. So, let me finish and include a few images, starting with a picture of the Kitchener (Ontario, Canada) Public Library, at 85 Queen Street. On the second floor is the Grace Schmidt Room which houses the collections of the Waterloo-Wellington Regional Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. From a book of Tombstone Inscriptions of Mount View Cemetery, Galt, Ontario, by Norma Huber, Jan 1995, I found the inscriptions for John R. Dawson, but not for his sister, Mrs. Emma Watson, or her husband, Thomas Watson. However, only the birth and death dates, 1886-1950, were given.

Unfortunately, the library does not have any indexes for obituaries, but they do have microfilms or actual copies of newspapers for the area. Unless you want to go through every newspaper's obit columns for a whole year, you will have to have a specific death date. I cell-phoned (a nice modern convenience for genealogists) the Galt (Cambridge) Cemetery office, as Mount View is owned and maintained by the city council. Doris at the office, 519-623-1340, ext 4655, told me that John Dawson died 30 June 1950, at age 63 years [born ~1887]. She also gave me the phone number of Little and Son Funeral Home at 319-623-1290.

Next, I found John's obituary in the library's archived newspaper collection, the text of which follows; [words in brackets are mine]:

OBIT: Galt Evening Reporter, Monday, 3 Jul 1950, page 9: "John Russell Dawson"
"Funeral Service was conducted today from the T. Little and Son Funeral Home for the late Jack Dawson who passed away June 30 [1950] at Galt Hospital. Mr. Dawson came to Canada from Durham, England, 39 years ago and has been employed at the Goldi North Works since that time. He served in the First World War with the 111th Battalion and was three and a half years over seas. Surviving are his wife, Jessie Trusler, and two sons, Jack and Roy, and two grandchildren, Jeanette and Brenda Dawson. One brother lives in England [Thomas] and a brother [James] and sister [Sarah Rebecca Pooler-Sipes] in the U.S. Also, several nieces and nephews. He was an adherent of Wesley United Church and the service this afternoon was conducted by the Reverend M.C. Parr. Pall bearers were Wilfred Watson, Robert Caves, Andrew Kidd, William Kinsman, Frank Morris, and James Weepers. Interment was in Mount View Cemetery."

Notes on obituary: Thus, John, called Jack, had two sons and two grandchildren in 1950. Where are they now? I found Jack's wife, Jessie, in the book of tombstone inscriptions but her year of death was not given. She must have died after this 1950 obituary was printed. A survivor who was NOT mentioned is Jack's sister, Mrs. Alma Emma (Dawson) Watson, who supposedly moved to Galt with Jack in 1912. Wilfred Watson, mentioned here as a pallbearer, was probably a relative. I was ready to deduce that Alma Emma had died before 1950, but the 1955 obituary of another brother in America, James Dawson, stated that his sister Mrs. Emma Watson was surviving and residing in Hamilton, Ontario. Did brother Jack and sister Emma have a falling out since she was not mentioned in his obituary?

Incidentally, I wish I had re-read James Dawson's obiturary (do not confuse with John or Jack). It is no wonder I could not find sister Emma's Tombstone in a Galt cemetery, because she evidently moved to Hamiton, Ontario, by 1955. We drove right through Hamilton to reach Kitchner, but we didn't have time to stop there anyway.

Before leaving the library, I perused the Galt City directories which begin in 1965, fifteen years after Jack Dawson died. There were no matches. Also, I briefly skimmed a few history books, such as "Kitchener, An Illustrated History", by John England and K. McCaughlin. Kitchener was settled by German Mennonites from Pennsylvania and Germany and later became the destination of many German immigrants. The new Berlin as it was first named was known as Canada's "German Capital". Berlin changed its name to Kitchener about 1916 because of anti-German sentiment during WW I. I saw a vintage picture of a sculptured bust of Kaiser Wilhelm being retrieved from the city's Victoria Lake named after the British crown. The city was in obvious turmoil because of the mixed feelings of its former immigrants.

On Sunday morning, my friend drove me to Mount View cemetery and helped me find the tombstone of what I should call at this point- my investigation. I stayed behind as I wanted to take more pictures and tour Galt/Cambridge, while Ben drove off to do more of his personal business. This meant I would have to eventually take the bus back to Kitchener.

The cemetery was beautifully landscaped; a marker indicated that the trees were donated by the Galt Horticulture Society in 1973.

Below is the tombstone for John "Jack" Russell Dawson, 1886-1950, and his wife, Jessie G. Trusler, 1898-(blank). The Council Office for the Cemetery has no information on a death date for Jessie- only that she purchased the lot back in 1950. I need to query the local funeral home. The OGS, Waterloo Branch, book of tombstone inscriptions mentioned that Dawson was the recipient of the Veterans Cross, but I could not find any evidence of this award at the grave site. A plant of annual, yellow Marigolds graced the tombstone, so apparently there is family in attendance.

One of the pall bearers at Jack Dawson's funeral was Wilfred Watson. His tombstone is also at Mount View: Wilfred, "father", 1914-1976.

There were several grand-looking churches in the former city of Galt. The churches with their tall steeples straddle the Grand River which runs through the center of the city. The city was merged with the political districts of Preston and Hespeler about 1975 to form the city of Cambridge. Though you will not find the city of "Galt" on a modern map of Ontario, you will see several references to Galt around the city. Below is the Trinity Methodist Anglican Church in Cambridge, formerly Galt. Jack Dawson was an "adherent of the Wesley United Church" according to his obituary. Perhaps a reader will inform me how the church pictured here fits into the Methodist community of Cambrige.

Image: Trinity Anglican Methodist Church, Galt (Cambridge), Ontario Canada

I realize that this entry is agonizingly detailed for the casual reader. However, when someday I casually hand someone a book of my genealogy, I want them to have some idea of just what goes into the research behind the many names and dates of persons memorialized in the text. It's not just numbers.


Church Histories of Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada, before 1900 . Though not much help for the Dawson family who came to the area sometime after 1905, at least one of the churches listed at this web site was mentioned in this blog entry (Trinity Anglican).

Friday, August 8, 2008

Following two Dawson-Russell Children to Ontario, Canada

Image: The former home of Thomas Dawson and his second wife, Hannah, nee. Mather. It was also the home of Thomas and Hannah's combined offspring of 12 to 14 children. The home was located in Barnesboro (now Northern Cambria), Cambria County, Pennsylvania, USA.

Yesterday, I posted an introduction to the First Generation of the Russell Line. I included Thomas Russell, the senior, and his two wives, Ann McNelley or McNally, and his second wife, Ann McCallum. Thomas had about 9 children from his first wife and one son from his second. The parentage of the 11th child, David Russell, is still in question. Recall that at least 6 children in this first generation emigrated from England to America, whereas the other children remained or probably remained in England. I also mentioned the recent discovery that one daughter, Janet Russell, married Thomas Parkinson, and they had 10 children, some of whom left England for Australia and America.

Now, I need to expand a little more on the first-generation daughter, Sarah Rebecca Russell, in order to explain why I am presently uploading a blog entry from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Sarah Rebecca married a Thomas Dawson in August, 1880. They had seven children: Elizabeth Jane, Thomas R, Sarah Rebecca, Emma, John R., James R., and William. Sarah died in 1892 and Thomas married secondly to the widowed Mrs. Hannah Gilroy, nee. Mather, whose first husband, Samuel Gilroy, died in a coal mining accident in Nov 1892. Hannah had three daughters by Samuel: Mary Ann, Margaret, and Hannah Mather. After Thomas and Hanna married, they produced four more children of their own: Richard H., Florence, Frederick, and Lillian. Think of the family being along a giant letter “Y”. On the upper, left arm, we have Thomas Dawson and his first wife, Sarah Rebecca Russell, and their 6 surviving children; on the upper, right arm, we have Hannah Mather and Samuel Gilroy and their 3 daughters; and finally, on the stem, we have the youngest 4 children of Thomas and Hannah- 14 children total.

Thomas Dawson and Hannah and all of their children, except one daughter, emigrated from Durham County, England, to Barnesboro, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, in 1905. The daughter who stayed behind was Elizabeth Jane Dawson, because she was already married in 1901 to Elias Williams. Eventually, Elizabeth and Elias had 10 children. Actually, another child, Thomas Dawson, emigrated to America; started the naturalization process, but for some reason returned to England for good- at least until his father's estate was probated in 1945.

Image: Elias Williams and his wife, Elizabeth Jane, who was the oldest daughter of Thomas Dawson and his first wife, Sarah Rebecca Russell. Five of Elizabeth Jane's siblings emigrated to America with her father and his second wife, Hannah, nee. Mather, whereas Elizabeth remained behind in County Durham, and later, Lancashire, England. Do we have to ask the reason why? Source: Adelaide, whose mother is far right, leaning against brick wall.

In one of those “Internet Magical Moments”, I recently made contact with a granddaughter of the stay-behind, Elizabeth Jane Dawson. This third cousin (we share great great grandparents, Thomas Russell and Jane McNelley), whose name is Adelaide, lives in the Scottish Highlands. What can I say. Genealogy is absolutely one of the joys of life and full of pleasant surprises.

Adelaide sent me a few wonderful pictures of her grandparents, Elizabeth Jane, nee. Dawson, and Elias Williams. She also sent me a picture of John "Jack" Dawson, who will become significant in a moment. Jack was a brother of Elizabeth Jane, both being the children of Thomas Dawson and Sarah Rebecca, nee. Russell.

Image: John "Jack" Dawson, son of Thomas and Sarah Rebecca Russell, stands by his niece, Winnifred Williams, daughter of Elias and Elizabeth Jane, nee. Dawson. Jack wears the uniform of either the British or Canadian Army. What would be the difference in the uniform details? Uh, more research required.

So why am I here in Kitchener, Canada, besides the fact that I love history and like to travel? Two children of Sarah Rebecca Russell and Thomas Dawson must have found the household in Barnesboro a little crowded with 12 children in the family. The 1912 Petition for Naturalization for Thomas Dawson, stated that two of his children, Emma and John ["Jack"], had migrated to and were living in "Canada". Furthermore, Thomas’ 1945 probated estate indicated that Emma Dawson, who was now Mrs. Emma Watson, and her brother, John Dawson, were then living in “Galt, Ontario, Canada”. Just to make it challenging, the town of Galt was incorporated into the town of Cambridge at some point. From the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Kitchener branch, I learned that Emma and her presumed husband, Thomas Watson, and her brother, John Dawson, and his presumed wife, Jessie C. Trusler, are buried in Montview Cemetery, in Cambridge: section, row, stone (6-32W-62-3).

Besides emailing me the picture above of Jack Dawson, Adelaide informed me that he was a very talented musician and played the violin. Thus, he was like his uncle, John Girabaldi Russell, who was a professional musician and composer, and one of the bachelors in the First Generation Russell Family. John G. lived in Syracuse, NY, near his sister, Mrs. Alma Emma Forsyth, nee. Russell, and his half-brother, James Fredrick Russell. Once John G. sent a picture postcard to his older brother in Barnesboro, PA, which depicted the lobby of the grand Onandago Hotel. He might have been hired to play piano in the lobby.

Well folks, I’m on my way to the Grace Schmidt Room (Genealogy and History) of the Kitchener Public Library in Ontario. Hope I can find an obituary or two- and maybe even a descendant or two. Then I hope that I can find at least one of the tombstones of these independent children of Thomas Dawson and Sarah Rebecca (Russell).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Russell Line- Introduction to First Generation

With this picture of the Russell siblings, I am beginning an effort to organize my blog along Family lines. Each Line will descend from one of my 16 great grandparents, unless I can simplify one of the great grand couples (husband & wife) into a single line. To distinguish each family line, it would be convenient if one could obtain a picture of the whole family for the FIRST generation- father, mother and children. Often this is not possible. Fortunately for the Russell Family Line, I obtained this photocopied picture of 6 of the 11 known siblings in the first generation:

Thomas William Russell, 1847-1928
Robert Russell, 1849-1940
John G. Russell, 1860-1914
Alma Emma Russell, 1866-1951
James Fredrick Russell, 1869-1957
David Russell, ?-1911

These six siblings immigrated to America between Oct 1881 (just missing the 1880 census) and 1885. They emigrated from the coal mining area of County Durham, in the north of England. The original was a hard-backed, 5x7 inch, “Cabinet” Photograph taken at Kruger Studios in Houtzdale, Pennsylvania, about 1892. The original is in the hands of Suzanne M. Forsythe. There are perhaps five other siblings in this generation who are NOT included in the Houtzdale photo, primarily because they were not in the area at the time and may never have been. I have birth registrations, and in most cases, parish records of baptism, in order of birth, for Thomas W. (who was my great grandfather), Robert, John Girabaldi, Alma Emma, and James Frederick, but not for David. I do not know when nor where David was born. He does not appear in any United Kingdom census in which all the other Russell siblings are enumerated as members of this family. Perhaps David was not biologically related to the others. But nevertheless, David was considered as a “brother”, and according to family tradition was never married though he obviously did immigrate to America.

The parents of Thomas, Robert, John, and Alma Emma, were THOMAS RUSSELL, the Senior, and Jane McNELLEY or Jane McNALLY (which are probably one and the same person, that is, the mother). However, James Fredrick Russell, was the youngest male, and the son of Thomas Russell, Senior, and apparently his second wife, Jane McCALLUM. Thus, James F. is a half brother to the others- same father, different mother. Don't you just love it, when the first name of two different wives is Jane and the maiden surname is hardly ever recorded. Fortunately, the maiden surnames of the mother are indeed usually given on birth registrations in England, which was my source for the maiden surnames of the mothers here.

According to U.K. censuses, baptismal entries in parish records, and civil registrations of birth for a few siblings, but not all, indicate the other members of the family were:

William R. Russell, the oldest, 1845-?
Mary Russell, 1851-?
Jane Russell, 1854-?
Janet Russell, 1856-1899
Sarah Rebecca Russell, 1864-1892

Note that 4 of these 5 siblings are females, confirming the difficulty of tracking down women in genealogy- because they usually marry and change their maiden surname. However, I do have data showing that Sarah Rebecca Russell married a Thomas DAWSON, in Aug, 1880, and died at 28 years of age at Ludworth Colliery, County Durham, England. She gave birth to a least seven children of which one died young.

I believe the first generation daughter, Mary Russell, married a John Robert CLEMENT, had least two children, and apparently remained in England. Sadly, her first child, Thomas William Russell, born out of wedlock, died within a year.

I have no information on the fate of Jane Russell, who nevertheless was a member of this first generation in the 1850s.

It was a very pleasant surprise when I received an email from a Geoffrey Parkinson about three years ago (Spring, 2005) who “stumbled” upon my Genealogical website of the Russell Family and provided evidence that his great grandmother was certainly Janet Russell of this family. Janet married Thomas PARKINSON in May 1873, in St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, Thornley, Durham County. Morever, Thomas Russell, senior, the father of Janet, was buried at St. Bartholomew’s in Nov, 1880, according to parish records. Although Janet and Thomas lived and died in England, their 11 children scattered to Australia and America, while at least three children remained in England. Geoffrey emailed me from Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia, and a few days later sent me a picture of Thomas Parkinson and Janet, born Russell (see below). He also sent me a DVD slide show he made of his recent trip with his wife, Beverly, to the Australian Northern Territory, from Ayers Rock (Uluru) to Darwin.

Image: Thomas Parkinson, 1851-1914, and Janet, nee. Russell, 1856-1899. Source: Geoffrey Parkinson, Port Macquarie, Australia.

Finally, the father and mothers of this first generation were all born in Scotland. The oldest two sons, William Russell and Thomas William Russell, were also born in Scotland; the other children were born in County Durham in northeastern England. According to his obituary, Thomas W. Russell was born in Holytown, Lanarkshire, SCOTLAND, in October, 1847; however, he was baptised less than a year later in August, 1848, at Holy Trinity Anglican in Easington District, Durham County, ENGLAND. Thus, between these two dates, the family apparently moved from Scotland to northern England. They remained in County Durham for the next 30 years moving around several different coal fields before eventually emigrating to PENNSYLVANIA, USA. The parents died in England.

Note: So that this “Introduction” to the FIRST generation, Russell Line, can be tagged for easy access I will label it Russell-Line-Intro. All other entries for this Line will be tagged simply, Russell-Line.

Museums and Antique Stores are great places to find Family History

Image: In foreground is a “fluter” used to crimp pleats into blouses worn by frontier women. From the National Czech and Slovak Museum- reconstructed frontier cabin.

There is nothing like a museum to find items that you can use to illustrate your family history. My previous blog entry showed other pictures I took at the Czech and Slovak museum, especially the folk tracht (folk dress) and historic persons which I used to complement the history of my Austel Family. Also on the grounds of the museum was a reconstructed cabin illustrating the life and times of a Czech pioneer family. The curator let me take a picture of two items which were of particular interest. One was an old iron “fluter” (see above) which was heated on a fire and then used to steam the pleats into women’s blouses and dresses in the pioneer days. That must have hard work. I am looking for a vintage picture of such a blouse that might show the results of using this tool. I had no problem relating the other tool to my German heritage. It was a wooden cabbage cutter used in the making of sauerkraut (see below). On my research trips to Pennsylvania, the first thing I look for is pair of hotdogs smothered with sauerkraut. Sheetz convenience stores, unknown in North Carolina, have some of the best.

Image: A wooden cutter sits on top of a crock, ready to turn cabbage heads into sauerkraut. From the National Czech and Slovak Museum- reconstructed frontier cabin.

Likewise antique stores are good or perhaps better sources for family history since you can purchase an item if you wish to keep it as a part of your own heritage museum. Most antique stores do not mind if you at least take a digital picture.

One of my favorite items are vintage postcards, particularly of places, historic personalities, and political figures. I almost have a complete set of postcards depicting the recent Catholic Popes to illustrate my religious heritage. Also, I have collected postcards of some of the kings and queens who ruled the great monarchies of the world, such as the Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife, Empress Elizabeth.

Another find was a series of vintage postcards of the former Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Cresson, PA (see below). My grandfather, Otto Strike, worked as a maintenance man and as an ice machine operator (according to his death certificate) at the Sanitarium until he died in 1946. He also resided there in one of the dormitories. In the 1950s the Sanitarium was transferred to the state corrections system to be transformed into a prison. When I visited the site in 1992, there were signs hung on the high chain-link fences, topped with barbed-wire which stated, “No Pictures Allowed”. Thus, these vintage postcards are the only pictures I have of where my grandfather once lived and worked.

Perhaps one of my blog readers can tell me if this doll is autentically dressed in a supposedly Polish costume. The manufacture’s label on the bottom of the doll seems to indicate a Slavic origin. Later, I will scan the label and post it here. Can’t now, because I am traveling on the road, but I do have the picture.
I bought this doll in a local antique store. She is supposedly dressed in a Slavic costume or folk tracht. Several of my Strike and Kramp ancestors came from a German population living among Poles (in the former provinces of Posen and West Prussia, now Polish since end of WW II). Many Poles as well as German settled in my Father's former neighborhood of Houtzdale, Clearfield Co., PA. I heard that my great grandmother, Henrietta, nee. Hohnke, usually spoke in German, but could also speak in Polish to some of the other immigrant neighbors.