Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Persistence definitely pays off..........

I haven't written much about ancestors that I don't have a lot of information on but a package arrived in the mail today that made me decide this was a good topic.

I wrote last year about my maternal grandmother's family tree and her handwritten tree.  One of the pages was just a drawn out tree that showed that her mother's (Minnie) mother Augusta Muche Comstock (wife of George Delmer Comstock) - it lists that Augusta's mother was "Minnie Schuman" and her father "August Muche".  I had nothing further until I found what I figured was the ship log (based on age and families in Allegan MI):
"Ann & Lizzy 06/15/1866" - Schumann family bottom right

I found a researcher in Allegan that was willing to do some lookups for me (in the link I wrote a little about her).  In 3 packets of information she found so much information for me regarding the Schumann family, even getting information about my 3rd great grandmother "Minnie", proving her mother was Beate Monties Schumann.  I started researching the descendants of Beate and traced several of the families, eventually finding a woman named Nancy in Maryland, who's great grandfather William Frederick Schumann was one of Minnie's brothers.  I emailed her in early 2006, letting her know how we were distantly related, and asking her if she had any photos.  I got a response back 4/29/2006 indicating that she had photos from when her grandparents house was cleaned out but that her grandma's 2 sisters lived there for awhile and all the photos were mixed together.  She wasn't sure how much help she could be but when she had time she'd be in touch.

Fast forward to 7/21/2012 and I get an email from Nancy with the photo of William Schumann and also a photo of Beate!  This sure cemented my reasoning when I tell people why I won't leave my current cable provider (losing this email address that's out there on so many genealogy tangents would cost me).  Writing on the back proves the connection and adds the name of a son Michael that I hadn't been able to track:
Beate Monties Schumann 1806-1887
 This gives me a photo of a 4th great grandmother that I don't have a photo of their child (Minnie, my 3rd great grandmother).  I blogged before about unidentified photos that I believe to be of the Schumann family and may even have Minnie in them but so far nothing.  I even emailed the photo to the Allegan County Historical Society and got no response (which is a shame, a response would have been nice).

Other than the ship log and the 1870 and 1880 census Beate doesn't exist.  She has a headstone at Oakwood Cemetery in Allegan but Viola couldn't even find a death record. 
During the 6 year gap between emails I'd been in contact with another Schumann descendant named John in Arkansas.  His great grandparents were William and Emma Tiefenthal Schumann.  They lived in Allegan as well but I hadn't been able to make the connection to my Schumann line, in spite of the fact that Emma's father Frederick's 2nd wife Julia was also one of Beate's daughters.  I sent him this photo to which I got a quick reply that HE also had a copy of the same photo.  He said it was somewhere in his basement in a really old frame and that he'd gotten it out of his great-uncle Arno Schumann's belongings.  Arno would have absolutely no reason to have this photo unless Beate was also his relative which leads me to believe that the son Michael that I'm missing was William's father, who probably died in Prussia prior to the family coming to America.  I'll never be able to prove it as Arno's father abandoned the family and simply vanishes but it's a very plausible explanation.  Even without proving this I've got 100% proof that Beate is definitely my direct ancestor.

I asked John if he could send me a scan of his photo (hoping it was in better shape than the one I got) but didn't hear from him for quite awhile.  A couple months ago I got an email from him that he was driving through Michigan for a trip and wanted to know if he could drop the photo off to me.  He wants the photo with someone that will appreciate it and hold on to it so I of course said I would.  When the trip was made the photo was accidentally left behind so when he returned he called me and made arrangements to mail it to me.  It arrived today, complete in a frame that I can only guess is from the 1880s.
 The damaged part of the photo (her right shoulder) is the same in his copy as in the one Nancy sent me.  The photo (I pulled it from the frame and put it in my acid-free album for the time-being) is a reprint but looks extremely old (I've never seen a photo printed on this kind of paper).  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the frame yet as I want to keep it but it's not in great shape.  Either way I truly appreciate having the photo and the 6 and then 3 year gaps it took to get them prove that you never know when something will find you! 
Sure would be nice if Beate and her family would give me something to let me know where in Prussia to begin looking for their records!  The photo will have to do for now.  :)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Impressive longevity in one family - Justis and Jane Ann Hogmire Williams

Now that I'm up and running after my latest fiasco I decided that I'd go off on another trail of descendants on my Hogmire family line.  I have already blogged several times about my 4th great grandfather Samuel Hogmire.  I've done so much work on the Hogmire family on this line that I've been pondering taking it a step further.  A few days ago I decided to start working on descendants of his brother Conrad Hogmire and stumbled into a folder of information I received many years ago from one of his descendants. 

The focus of this blog is Conrad's daughter Jane Ann Hogmire who married Justis Williams and the number of nonagenarian and centenarians produced in this family. 

Justis was quite a bit older than Jane Ann which usually results in a long widowhood but he did Jane right by living to the ripe old age of 98.  Not to be outdone Jane made it to 102.  There were several lengthy articles written about her in the local papers celebrating her birthdays.  The descendant I'd mentioned the "folder of information" from had mentioned how one of Jane's daughters and then HER daughter all lived to be 100 and they all wrote and kept up a journal.  I've often wondered what's in that journal as it encompasses life from the 1820s to the 1980s!  Upon working on Jane's descendants I kept finding more and more people living to 90+ so I thought I'd document it.

Justis and Jane had 4 children, 17 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and  44 great great grandchildren that I can document.  I'm not even sure if this is an anomaly statistically but this is what I found:

Parents lived to be 98 and 102 respectively.
  • Daughter Eliza Williams Chase lives to be 101 and has 6 children.
    • Her daughter Pauline Chase Ritchie makes it to 90.
    • Her other 4 that I can find death records for 46, 61, 31 and 67.
  • Son Francis Williams only lives to be 79 and has 8 children.  
    • His son Herman Williams makes it to 98.
    • His daughter Laura Williams Reese 102, just 2 months shy of 103
    • His daughter Bessie Williams Smith only makes 90 but.......
      • Her son George Smith makes 97
      • I can't find a death record for her daughter Vivian, who may very well be closing in on her 102nd birthday this year.
    • Her daughter Jane Williams Pommerening only makes 77 but......
      • Her daughter Bernice Pommerening Herman makes 92 
    • The remaining children of Francis live to be 46, 80, 80 and 88.
  •   Daughter Hattie Williams Smith dies at 99, 2 weeks shy of 100 and has 3 children.
    • Her daughter Cora Smith Garrett made 101
    • Her daughter Lola Smith Shore made 93
    • Her son Err Lee Smith made 90
  • Daughter Louisa Williams Lenhart drew the short straw and died at 64.  I never find her in census records with her husband and have found online family trees listing 3 children that died young but can't prove any of that.  
So, 13 (with a possible 14th) of the 86 people I've documented in this family made it to 90 and 4 (almost 5 with Hattie) make it to 100+.  Seems like some good numbers.  How do you explain all the early death though?  Eliza makes 101 and Pauline makes 90 but Pauline's siblings average 51?

There are quite a few of Jane Ann's 3rd great grandchildren who have passed away or are still living but none of them that I find are threatening to join this group.  I truly believe that our average life expectancy here in America has peaked and I think as the years pass now the numbers are definitely going to go lower.  Jane Ann's death article lists that she died in her home along the river that she'd lived in for 80 years.  We have more centenarians now but I'm not sure that most of them do as well as they did in the old days if they made it that far.............

This ran in the Avon Herald-News July 3rd, 1985 (some ages are off)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

That was too close for comfort!

I haven't blogged in almost a month, even though I keep promising that I'll be doing more.  My last blog post (from July 7th) was the culmination of months of working on my Korstanje line.  When I got done I uploaded my GEDCOM to  I'm not sure why because I never use the site anymore but I did.  On July 13th I returned to work from vacation.  On my break I went to work on my tree some more but my computer wouldn't load.  I got a black screen that said I needed to load an operating system.  I talked with a tech geek buddy of mine who said that it's possible the cable to the hard drive had come loose.  I have a toddler who has knocked that laptop down several times so it was a plausible explanation.  I got home from work and when I took it out of the bag my laptop was so hot I had trouble holding onto it (the battery was HOT).  I tried re-seating the drive with the same results.  I then went to Best Buy and bought a new laptop figuring the old one was toast (not only was it hot but there was a burning plastic smell).  I bought an enclosure to try to make my old hard drive into an external drive so I could access the files and all I got was a high pitched squeal when I tried to plug it in.

Now I have been doing genealogy since 1992 and I understand how important it is to back stuff up.  I have a system where my files are all on my laptop and an external hard drive.  When I get new stuff it goes into a "to be sorted" folder and it's sorted into both drives.  The problem is I'm in my family tree file daily and I just back that up occasionally.  Upon loading my new laptop I discovered that "occasionally" meant April 29th, almost 13,000 names ago.  I was devastated to say the least.  I decided to pay a company to try to recover the file so that I didn't have to redo everything.  That too failed.  So I resigned myself to having to redo my work.  Remembering that I'd uploaded to rootsweb I decided I'd have to go family by family and copy/paste all of my work (and then rebuild all the living persons information since I have them privatized).

On the 25th it dawned on me that I'd uploaded the file to rootsweb and perhaps they could recover it for me.  I emailed their support and then googled to see if there was a solution.  I bet that drives those techies nuts when people do it in that order.  Upon googling it I found where to go and downloaded my GEDCOM.  Even though I'd privatized living persons everything was there.  I only lost 6 days worth of work (of which I'm now caught up)!

So, now whenever I finish a family line I'm working on I'm uploading my GEDCOM to rootsweb.  The fact that I randomly chose that day to do it saved me and I'm not risking that again.  I'm also looking into online backup services as I had a temporary scare that my videos of my grandpa and Jacob were also lost (I found them on an external drive I rarely use).  Having never experienced a hard drive failure before this was certainly a wake up call!  There were no indicators there was a problem - just poof, gone...........