Covering genealogy, family history, historical events and places, and anything else related!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

St. Louis World's Fair (Louisiana Purchase Exposition), 1904

The Great Ferris Wheel - World's Fair, St. Louis, U.S.A. American Stereoscopic Co., 1904. Available from

Today marks the 110th anniversary of the opening of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the St. Louis World's Fair, in St. Louis, Missouri. The fair celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. It was held from 30 April 1904 to 1 December 1904.

Bird's eye view, World's Fair, St. Louis. 1904. Available from NYPL Digital Gallery under digital ID G90F441_008F

The Fair included exhibits from 43 of the then 45 states, the United States government, and a large number of foreign countries. Many companies had exhibits at the fair; a partial list can be found at The 1904 Summer Olympics were held at the World's Fair from 29 August 1904 to 3 September 1904.

My great-grandfather John Boe attended the St. Louis World's Fair with his brother Hans Adolph "Duff" Boe and his mother Aaste (Halvorson) Boe. My great-grandmother Kathleen Graham was working at the fair. According to my mother's first cousin Marie, Kathleen said that she got paid for talking. Marie also said that this is where John and Kathleen met.

Kathleen's mother, Catherine Elizabeth (Winters) Graham Mapplebeck, also attended the St. Louis World's Fair.

Alton Evening Telegraph, 10 October 1904, p. 4

Ruby flash glass souvenirs from the 1904 World's Fair

References and additional information
Louisiana Purchase Exposition
Louisiana Purchase Exposition: The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair (University of Missouri Columbia - MU Libraries) - digital image collection
At the Fair
Celebrating St. Louis - The 1904 World's Fair
1904 World's Fair in Forest Park
The 1904 World's Fair: Looking Back at Looking Forward
1904 World's Fair Society
All the World's a Fair - 1904 World's Fair sites in St. Louis

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: William J. and Myrtle E. Schneider

William J. Schneider was born Johann Wilhelm Schneider on 8 December 1883 in Remagen, Kreis Ahrweiler, Rheinland, Germany. He was the son of my great-great-grandparents Carl Joseph Schneider and Christina Nagel. He died on 27 June 1951 in St. Louis, Missouri.

William's wife, Myrtle E. Milam, was born on 3 October 1898 in Missouri. She was the daughter of Frank R. Milam and Nora E. Eaton. She died on 5 November 1991.

William and Myrtle are buried in Sunset Memorial Park and Mausoleum, Affton, St. Louis County, Missouri.

Monday, April 28, 2014

52 Ancestors: #16 John Boe

Both my grandfathers were born in April. Today would have been the 106th birthday of my maternal grandfather, John Boe. John was born in St. Louis, Missouri on 28 April 1908. He was the first child that his parents John Boe and Kathleen Graham had together. He attended St. Louis public schools and St. Louis University High School, but he did not graduate. However, he was still able to get into college. His high school had been damaged by a tornado, so he claimed that his school records had been destroyed. He attended the University of Montana in 1931-1932 along with his brother James, and he was in the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He worked with Western Electric Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He then worked for the Minneapolis Star, and then for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

In 1939, John began working for P. F. Collier and Son. John's brother-in-law Earl Mason Roberts (husband of John's sister Florence) was working for the company and convinced him to work for them as well. John started off as a door-to-door book salesman in St. Louis, and within three months, he had been promoted to District Sales Manager in Indianapolis, Indiana. On 25 September 1939 in Indianapolis, John married Margaret Ann (Schneider) Foerstel, and gained an instant family (she had a daughter and son from her previous marriage). The family lived in Detroit for six years, where John and Margaret had two daughters and a son. They moved frequently, and lived in Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; New Hyde Park, New York; Redwood City, California; and Highland Park, New York. In 1956, John was appointed Vice President of P. F. Collier and began working at the New York office. He bought a home at 506 E. Saddle River Road, Ridgewood, New Jersey. He eventually became Chairman of the Board and President of P. F. Collier, President of Merit Students Encyclopedia, Inc., (which he created), and Senior Vice President of Crowell-Collier-Macmillan. Every year, he and Margaret traveled around the world and visited all the sales offices. On 15 July 1968, on his retirement, he was presented with the original Merit Students Encyclopedia Man of the Year Award. After six months, John had had enough of retirement and went back to work for two more years. In 1974, John and Margaret sold their house in Ridgewood and moved to an apartment in Ramsey, New Jersey.

John belonged to the Rubicon Masonic Lodge of Detroit, the Medina and Scottish Rite in Chicago, and Knickerbocker Country Club in Tenafly, New Jersey.

John died on 24 November 1977 (Thanksgiving Day) in New York City. He was buried at Valleau Cemetery in Ridgewood.

 John Boe as a boy
John Boe

Margaret and John Boe

John Boe in Paris with Guy Mollet, Prime Minister of France

Grandpa Boe and me

John Boe's MSE Man of the Year Award

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Census Sunday: She Hasn't Aged a Day in Twenty Years!

In 1940, my great-grandmother's sister Augusta "Gussie" (Gersbacher) Parker was enumerated as a lodger in the household of John and Mary Buckley in Pasadena, Los Angeles County, California.

1940 United States census, Pasadena, Los Angeles, California, population schedule, Assembly District 47, enumeration district 19-472, sheet 2B.

According to this census record, Augusta Parker was 40 years old. Her date of birth was 29 January 1881, so she was actually 59 years old - nearly twenty years younger than the record stated! Her place of birth is incorrect as well; she was born in Germany, not Missouri, although she came to Missouri when she was two years old.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Treasured Artifacts of the Garden State Online Museum

Garden State Legacy's new online museum, Treasured Artifacts of the Garden State, has just opened. Images of artifacts from the following New Jersey history groups, museums, and archives are included:

American Labor Museum - Botto House National Landmark
Asbury Park Historical Society
Avalon Free Public Library History Center
Camp Evans/InfoAge Learning Center
Chester Library
Civil War Museum of the General James A. Garfield Camp No. 4 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Cumberland County Historical Society
Delaware and Raritan Canal State Parks
Doo Wop Preservation League (The Doo Wop Experience and Neon Sign Garden)
Fleetwood Museum of Art and Photographica
Haddon Heights Historical Society
The Hermitage
Historical Society of Ocean Grove
Historic Burlington County Prison Museum
Hunterdon County Historical Society
Liberty Hall Museum
Library Company of Burlington
Macculloch Hall Historical Museum
Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities
Millville Army Air Field Museum
Monmouth County Historical Association
Monmouth Museum
Morristown National Historical Park Museum & Library
Museum of Early Trades & Crafts
The National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey
New Jersey State Library
New Jersey State Museum
Newark Museum
Old Barracks Museum
Roebling Museum
Plainfield Public Library Local History, Genealogy, & Special Collections
The Proprietary House
Red Mill Museum Village
Somerville Public Library
South River Historical & Preservation Society, Inc.
Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms
Sussex County Historical Society
Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie
Union Forge Heritage Association
USGA Museum
Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society
Washington Township Historical Society
Whippany Railway Museum
Whitesbog Village

Friday, April 25, 2014

National DNA DAY

Public domain image from

April 25 is National DNA Day, which commemorates the discovery of the structure of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953 and the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.

Family Tree DNA is having a sale on Y-DNA testing today. A Y-DNA test can help you find genetic cousins through your direct paternal line. Although only men can be tested, women can ask a male relative to be tested.

Mitochondrial DNA testing can help you to learn more about your direct maternal line and your ancestral origins.

This map shows the migration patterns for mitochondrial DNA haplogroups. My mitochondrial DNA haplogroup is H2a.

Autosomal DNA testing can help you to find genetic cousins through any of your family lines. I matched with someone who turned out to be a descendant of my 5th-great-grandmother's sister.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Documenting the American South

Documenting the American South contains primary sources (texts, images, and audio files) on southern history, literature, and culture. It is sponsored by the University Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. DocSouth contains the following collections:

The Church in the Southern Black Community
The Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
The First Century of the First State University
First-Person Narratives of the American South
Going to the Show
The James Lawrence Dusenbery Journal (1841-1842)
Library of Southern Literature
North American Slave Narratives
The North Carolina Experience
North Carolina Maps
North Carolinians and the Great War
Oral Histories of the American South
The Southern Homefront, 1861-1865
Thomas E. Watson Papers
True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students at the University of North Carolina

The collections can be browsed or searched individually. It is also possible to search across all collections.

I found references to my 6th- and 7th-great-grandfathers Abel Gower Jr. and Sr. in the Colonial and State Records of North Carolina collection. They were listed as Abel Gowen, but I could tell from the content that the documents referred to my ancestors (Sr. and Jr. were listed together with others who had traveled with my Abel Gowers). I also found references to an Abel Gower who was with the Regulators of North Carolina. This man may not be one of my ancestors; there was another Abel Gower who served in the Revolutionary War in North Carolina and later went to Georgia. I think that Abel Gower was related to my Abel Gowers, but I do not know what the relationship was.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Anna Schneider and Andy Wegman

This picture was taken on the wedding day of Anna Maria Schneider (my great-grandfather's sister) and Anthony L. "Andy" Wegman. They married in St. Louis, Missouri on 1 May 1912 at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

The people in the picture are identified below:

In more detail, they are:

Back Row
John Wegman - brother of the groom
William J. "Bill" Schneider - brother of the bride
(?) Wegman - not sure; the groom had a sister Margaret, so possibly her
Rudolph "Rudy" Schneider - brother of the bride
Herman J. Wegman - father of the groom
Susan (Shannon) Wegman - sister-in-law of the groom, and wife of John Wegman
Margaret (Pauly) Wegman - mother of the groom

Front Row
Joseph "Joe" Wegman - brother of the groom
Paulina (Gersbacher) Schneider - sister-in-law of the bride, wife of John Schneider, and my great-grandmother
Carl Schneider - John and Paulina's son, the bride's nephew, and my grandmother's brother
John Schneider - brother of the bride, and my great-grandfather
Anna Maria (Schneider) Wegman - bride
Anthony L. "Andy" Wegman - groom
Marie (Schneider) Illig - sister of the bride
William F. "Bill" Illig - brother-in-law of the bride, and husband of Marie
Christina (Nagel) Schneider - mother of the bride, and my great-great-grandmother

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Talented Tuesday: Margaret Ann (Schneider) Boe, Pianist

My grandmother Margaret Ann (Schneider) Boe was a talented pianist. She played in many different styles: classical, popular, and improvised. Below is an invitation to her graduation in music and two programs from concerts that she gave in St. Louis.



For many years, she played piano for the Ridgewood High School Jamboree in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Margaret by the piano in St. Louis

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mappy Monday: The Erie Canal through Tonawanda, New York

The Erie Canal through Tonawanda, N.Y. From the topographic map Niagara Falls and vicinity (U.S. Geological Survey, 1894.) Available from

My 3rd-great-grandfather John Bennet Winters most likely worked on the first enlargement of the Erie Canal. In 1860 he lived in Tonawanda, and according to that year's United States census, he was a drudger. This map of the Erie Canal through Tonawanda shows the area where he lived and worked.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Traditions

Some of my ancestral countries have special Easter traditions.


Image by AndrewPoison at de.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 In Germany, it is traditional to decorate trees or bushes with Easter eggs. Branches are also decorated indoors. A German Easter egg tree is called an Ostereierbaum.

 Image by Immanuel Giel (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wells and fountains are also decorated with Easter eggs. They are called Osterbrunnen.

The following links contain more information on German Easter traditions:
Easter egg tree
Easter in Germany
German Easter Traditions


Image by Susann Schweden (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (])], via Wikimedia Commons

In Sweden, birch twigs are decorated with feathers (påskris). Children dress up as witches (påskkärringar), go to houses in their neighborhood, and give out drawings in exchange for candy. Swedish Easter eggs (påskägget) are made of paper or plastic and have chickens on them, and are filled with candy.

The following links contain more information on Swedish Easter traditions:
Easter (
Happy Easter! A Swedish Easter: The symbols, the food, the traditions..
The History Behind Decorating Birch Twigs for Easter in Sweden  


In Norway, it used to be traditional to travel, frequently to the mountains.  Fewer people now go away at Easter. Påskekrim (Easter Crime) has become popular; people read crime stories, and crime series are produced for radio and television. Oranges and Kvikk Lunsj candy bars are popular foods at Easter.

The following links contain more information on Norwegian Easter traditions:
A brief history of the Kvikk Lunsj phenomenon
Easter in Norway - from church pews to mountain peaks
Introduction to Påske Traditions in Norway
Påskekrim: Why Crime Story on Easter?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

52 Ancestors: #15 Amanda Russell

My 3rd-great-grandmother Amanda Russell was born in Davidson County, Tennessee on 20 February 1830. She was the daughter of Sobrina Russell. She married Joseph Tarkington on 12 June 1849, at her family's home. The first of the couple's twelve children, my great-great-grandfather James William Tarkington, was born on 28 May 1850. At first they lived in Davidson County near Amanda's family, but then moved to Williamson County, probably after her mother's brother James Russell purchased land as trustee for his sister (and Amanda's mother) Sobrina Russell on 26 January 1858. Amanda inherited this land, and she and her husband Joseph sold the land on 23 May 1888. By this time, they had moved to Nashville. Joseph died in 1903, and on 18 September 1908, Amanda filed for a Confederate widow's pension. She was living with her youngest child, her daughter Louise Amanda (Tarkington) Whitman. Her claim was approved. She died on 27 January 1912 in Nashville, Tennessee and was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, in Sec. 13 Lot 75. Her grave is unmarked.

Amanda's death certificate states that her parents were James Russell and Bryny Hargrave. However, that is not correct. When Joseph and Amanda sold their land in 1888, the deed stated that Amanda had inherited the land as the only child of Sobrina Russell. When that same land was purchased in 1858, James Russell purchased it as trustee for his sister Sobrina Russell. This James Russell was born about 1817, so he was too young to have been Amanda's father. I have never found a marriage record for Sobrina. Amanda, James, Sobrina, and Hannah (Hardgrave) Russell (the mother of James and Sobrina) lived near each other in 1850, and probably in 1840 as well. "Bryny" sounds like a nickname for Sobrina, and the surname given for her on Amanda's death certificate was a variant spelling of Sobrina's mother's maiden name. These sources suggest that Amanda was the illegitimate daughter of Sobrina Russell. But who was Amanda's father?

I believe that an examination of other sources reveals the identity of Amanda's father. Amanda's oldest son, my great-great-grandfather James William Tarkington, lived with James and Louisa Sawyer in 1870 and 1880. In 1880, he was listed as a grandson of the head of household. James and Louisa married on 14 December 1845, so James Tarkington could not have been the son of a child they had together. It has been suggested that Louisa (McDowell) and her first husband Asbury Tarkington were Joseph Tarkington's parents and that that is how James Tarkington was their grandson. However, Asbury and Louisa married on 5 January 1832. Since Joseph and Amanda married in 1849, I think Joseph's birth year of 1830 is correct. When Louisa Sawyer wrote her will on 28 January 1885, she left her entire estate to her husband James Sawyer, and stated that after his death, her real and personal estate would go to her grandson James W. Tarkington and his heirs. At first glance the will makes it seem as if James W. Tarkington were her biological grandson, but after a closer examination, I think the document actually suggests otherwise. James W. Tarkington was not to inherit anything until James Sawyer died. James W. Tarkington's father Joseph was still alive (James W. actually predeceased Joseph), and so were the majority of Joseph's other children. If Louisa was Joseph Tarkington's mother, she was disinheriting her son and most of her grandchildren, and only leaving an inheritance to one grandson, and even then only after the death of her husband. I think it is more likely that James W. was Louisa's step-grandson. Since James W. lived with the Sawyers for a long time (probably at least 10 years), Louisa probably came to think of him as a grandson, not a step-grandson. If she had no living descendants of her own, it is logical that she would want him to inherit her estate after her husband died. And if Amanda were James Sawyer's illegitimate child, she would not automatically be entitled to inherit from her father.

Another piece of evidence appears in the family tree in my father's baby book. Not everything is correct, but mistakes (such as one great-great-grandmother being listed with her stepfather's surname) can be clues and may have happened for a reason. Every other record of Amanda gives her surname before her marriage as Russell, but my father's baby book says that she was Amanda Sawyer. James William Tarkington died in 1894, and his widow probably passed down information about his family. She would only have known her mother-in-law Amanda by her married surname, Tarkington. She would have known the Sawyers (she and James married in 1880, and James was living with the Sawyers that year; the couple may even have lived with the Sawyers for a while after their marriage). It would make sense for her to assume that Amanda's maiden name was Sawyer.

I believe that Amanda Russell was the daughter of James Sawyer and Sobrina Russell.

Nashville Banner, 29 January 1912

From my father's baby book. Some information is incorrect, including the first name of Amanda's husband (he was Joseph, not James). Although Amanda's maiden name was actually Russell, I believe that Sawyer was the surname of her father.

A portion of the 23 May 1888 deed. Williamson County, Tennessee Deeds, vol. 13, roll 157, page 110.

Questions for applicant, Amanda Tarkington, widow of Joseph Tarkington. Tennessee Confederate pension application 2079, Widow's Indigent Pension. Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Those Places Thursday: Old Paramus Reformed Church

The Old Paramus Reformed Church is located at 660 E. Glen Ave., Ridgewood, New Jersey, near Route 17 by the border of Ridgewood and Paramus. The church's congregation was formed in 1725. The church building pictured here was built in 1800.

My parents got married at this church.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday's Child: Edward Gersbacher

Edward Gerzpacher burial certificate. Missouri Death Records. Jefferson City, MO: Missouri State Archives.

Edward (or Eduard) Gersbacher (or Gerspacher) was born on 26 November 1882 in Niederwihl, Waldshut, Baden, Germany. He was the son of John (Johann) Gersbacher (or Gerspacher) and Kunigunde Dreier. In 1883, he and his mother and siblings left Germany to join his father in St. Louis, Missouri. They sailed on the Braunschweig, and they arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on 26 July 1883. Fifteen days after they arrived in the United States, baby Edward died in St. Louis on 10 August 1883. The cause of death was cholera infantum. He was buried in Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery in St. Louis, in Section 007, Lot 00PG, Row 13.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Library Week

National Library Week has been observed annually since 1958. It is usually the second week in April. This year it is April 13-19, 2014. It sponsored by the American Library Association and libraries across the United States.

ProQuest is offering free access to some of its resources this week. The most useful of these for genealogists is ProQuest Obituaries. It includes obituaries from the following newspapers: Atlanta Constitution (1868-1922), Boston Globe (1872-1922), Chicago Defender (1921-1975), Chicago Tribune (1852-1984), Los Angeles Times (1881-1984), New York Times (1851-1994), and Washington Post (1877-1950). Many of my ancestors lived in Chicago, so I have made good use of this database to find family members' obituaries in the Chicago Tribune.

Another of the offerings is CultureGrams, which provides cultural information about countries of the world. It is a good source of background information on the countries our ancestors lived in.

More information and links can be found at

National Library Week is also a good time to mention the librarians in my family. I am one of them; I am a reference librarian at a college. My uncle Herb was also an academic librarian, but is now retired. My mother's first cousin's wife also has a degree in library science.

Here is a link to an interview with my uncle Herb about book banning and censorship: Celebrating Banned Books Week: Herbert N. Foerstel on Book Banning and Curriculum Censorship

Monday, April 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #14 Henry Cornelius Gatlin

Today would have been the 104th birthday of my paternal grandfather, Henry Cornelius Gatlin. Henry was born in Chicago, Illinois on 14 April 1910. He was the first child born to Henry Brown Gatlin and Anna Gertrude Tarkington, and their only child that lived (he had a stillborn younger brother, Eugene Joseph Gatlin, and an older half-brother, Robert Leland Taylor, who only lived for three weeks). He attended De La Salle Institute in Chicago. He was offered a football scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, but he chose to attend the University of Illinois instead.

Henry married Helen Martha Marie Anderson on 20 June 1939 at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Chicago. They were married by  H. E. Sandstedt. Henry and Helen had a son and a daughter.

Henry worked as a self-employed commodities broker. He was a member, director, and officer of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He was also a member and governor of the New York Mercantile Exchange, a member of the Commodity Exchange, and governor and director of the Foundation for Human Ecology in Park Ridge, Illinois. He retired in 1970. He was a member of the Society of the Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, New Jersey, for more than 25 years.

Henry and Helen lived in Chicago at first, and then moved to Park Ridge, Illinois. In 1959, they moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey. They lived there for many years, and much later in life, they moved to West Milford, New Jersey.

Henry and Helen attended the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Chicago and St. Luke Lutheran Church in Park Ridge. After moving to New Jersey, they became members of West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood.

Henry died on 29 December 2001 in Ridgewood, New Jersey. His memorial service was held on 26 January 2002. I sang "The Lord's Prayer" at his memorial service. I know he would have liked that; he liked to sit next to me at church on Christmas Eve, so he could hear me sing the carols. His ashes were interred at West Side Presbyterian Church Memorial Garden on 13 May 2007.

Henry's high school graduation picture, 1927

Avalon Park, October 1945

Lakeside, Michigan, July 1948, with my father

Henry and Helen, La Jolla, California

Grandpa Gatlin and me

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Census Sunday: Keeping House for Her Uncle

In 1880, the household of my 3rd-great-grandmother's brother Samuel Samuelson included a servant who was keeping house. Her name was given as Mary Bord.

1880 United States census, Westchester Township, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, enumeration district 136, page 27. NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 304, image 806. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.

"Mary Bord" was actually my great-great-grandmother Mary Borg. Although the census record does not indicate that she is related to anyone in the household, she was Samuel's niece. Her mother was Samuel's sister Johanna Carolina (Samuelson) Borg. Samuel's wife Maria had died three months before the census was taken. Samuel had five children between the ages of one and eight years to take care of. Although his 70-year-old mother-in law lived with the family, taking care of five young children and keeping house probably would have been too much for her to do alone. Mary probably moved in after Samuel's wife died, so that she could help her uncle.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sibling Saturday: Carl, Margaret, and Paula Schneider

My maternal grandmother Margaret Schneider (16 March 1911 - 4 August 1986) is pictured here with her brother Carl (2 June 1905 - 1 August 1974) and her sister Paula (27 January 1913 - 7 February 2004). The only Schneider sibling not pictured is Christina (20 April 1903 - 27 April 1909).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

National Siblings Day

April 10 is National Siblings Day. Since it is a day to honor the relationships of brothers and sisters, I am posting several pictures of my brother and me through the years.

Christmas 1969

 Fall 1981

my brother's wedding day, November 1996

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Workday Wednesday: Reuben A. Anderson, Dentist

My great-grandfather's brother Reuben Alexander Anderson was a dentist in Chicago, Illinois. This advertisement for his dental practice appeared on the back cover of The Bethlehem Star, vol. 45 no. 6, October 1941. The Bethlehem Star was a publication of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 58th and South Wells Sts., Chicago, where members of my family attended church.

Reuben was a dentist by 5 June 1917; his World War I draft registration card lists his profession. According to the 1940 United States Census, Reuben attended graduate school for three years. Since he lived in Chicago, he may have attended the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.

My father told me that Reuben was their family dentist.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Talented Tuesday: Cousin Steve

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, so it is a good time to write about my first cousin Steve Slagle. Steve is a jazz saxophonist and has been recording since 1977. He has played with the Steve Kuhn Quartet, the Charles Mingus Big Band, the Carla Bley Band, Milton Nascimento, Joe Lovano, Lionel Hampton, Ray Barretto, Olivier Hutman, Charlie Haden, Jaco Pastorius, Dave Stryker, Dr. John and Eddie Blackwell, the Beastie Boys, and his own groups, including the Stryker/Slagle Band. More information about his recordings can be found on his Web site at

Steve has also published a book, Scenes, Songs & Solos: A Composition and Improvisation Workbook for the Creative Musician (Schaffner Press, 2011).

Monday, April 7, 2014

Military Monday: 10th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry, Company D (DeMoss')

Several members of my family were in the Confederate Army's 10th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry, Company D (DeMoss'). My 3rd-great-grandfather Joseph Tarkington was a private in Company D, but by May-June 1863 he was home on sick leave due to asthma and pneumonia. My 3rd-great-grandfather's brother John G. Gatlin was also a private in Company D; he was captured in December 1863 and was held prisoner at Rock Island Barracks in Rock Island, Illinois. One of the regiment's colonels, William E. DeMoss, was my second cousin 6 times removed. His father, Abraham Louis DeMoss, was the son of Abraham Louis DeMoss and Hannah Greer. Hannah's sister Sarah was my 6th-great-grandmother.

The 10th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry was organized in February 1863, by consolidating Cox's and Napier's Battalions. The men in Company D were from Davidson County, Tennessee. Some of the regiment participated in the battles of Battle of Thompson's Station, Brentwood, Chickamauga, the Atlanta Campaign, the Battle of Franklin, and the Battle of Nashville. In February 1865, the regiment was consolidated with the 11th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry. In May 1865, they surrendered in Alabama.

Confederate Tennessee Troops. 10th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry (DeMoss').
Tennesseeans in the Civil War, Confederate Cavalry Units: 10th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Census Sunday: Not Just a Servant

In 1880, my great-great-grandparents Andrew and Martha (Erickson) Anderson and their children were living in Chicago, Illinois. Also in the household was a 15-year-old servant, Christine Nelson.

1880 United States census, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, enumeration district 177, page 12. NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 198, image 360.
Christine was not just a servant. She was Andrew's niece. Andrew's sister Elna married Nils Jonsson, and their first child, Christina, was born in Grevie, Skåne, Sweden on 5 November 1864. Her surname would have been a patronymic derived from her father's given name, Nils. In the United States, other members of her family used the surname Nilsson instead of Nelson. Christina came to the United States before her mother did, and she would have been 15 years old at the time of the 1880 census. Her father never came to the United States; he died in Sweden in 1892. Because Christina came to the United States without her parents, it makes sense that she would live with her uncle and his family.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

52 Ancestors: #13 Joseph Tarkington

My 3rd-great-grandfather Joseph Tarkington was born in Tennessee on 8 November 1830. He married Amanda Russell on 12 June 1849, at Amanda's family's home in Davidson County, Tennessee. They had twelve children; their first child, my great-great-grandfather James William Tarkington, was born on 28 May 1850. At first they lived in Davidson County near Amanda's mother, grandmother, and other members of her family, but by 1860 they had moved to Williamson County, Tennessee. Amanda's mother Sobrina Russell's brother James Russell had purchased land in Williamson County, Tennessee as trustee for Sobrina in 1858, and Sobrina lived with the Tarkington family in Williamson County, so they probably moved at the same time that she did.

Joseph enlisted in the Confederate army on 5 December 1862. He was a private in the 10th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry, Company D. On the company muster roll for May-June 1863, he was noted as absent sick. In Amanda (Russell) Tarkington's Confederate widow's pension application, William M. Tillett stated that Joseph Tarkington was sent home on sick leave because of asthma and pneumonia, and that Joseph was never again a well man.

Joseph was a farmer, and at times also worked as a watchman. According to Nashville city directories, he was a watchman at the Tennessee State Penitentiary in 1888, and was a watchman for the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway in 1895.

Joseph died at his home at 140 Hardee Street, Nashville, on 19 April 1903. According to his death certificate, he was 70 years, 5 months, and 11 days old, but that age is not consistent with his date of birth; he would have been 72 years old, not 70 years old. He was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, in Sec. 13 Lot 75. His grave is unmarked.

I have not yet proven the identities of Joseph Tarkington's parents. It has been suggested that Asbury Tarkington and Louisa McDowell were his parents. Louisa's second husband was James Sawyer, and my great-great-grandfather James William Tarkington was listed in the 1880 United States Census as a grandson. Louisa's will also called him a grandson. However, Asbury and Louisa did not marry until 1832. Joseph married Amanda (born in 1830) in 1849; I think that Joseph's 1830 birth year is correct. I believe that James William Tarkington was actually the grandson of James Sawyer, who I believe to be Amanda's father. (I will discuss this in more detail in a future post.)

I have looked at the other Tarkington families in the area and have ruled out most of the possibilities. I think I know who his parents are, but it is difficult to conclusively build a case with only indirect evidence when there is a contradictory piece of evidence.

I believe that Joseph's parents were Joseph S. Tarkington and Amelia Owen, who married in Williamson County, Tennessee on 6 June 1818. They had a son, Thomas J. Tarkington, who was born about 1824. In 1830 they were living in Giles County, Tennessee. Joseph S. Tarkington married Nancy (Sanders) Theall in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana on 11 August 1833. His son Thomas did not live with them in Louisiana; I have not yet been able to determine who he lived with, but he appears to have stayed in Tennessee, since he married there in 1843. In his Southern Claims Commission approved claim, Joseph S. Tarkington stated that his only children were a daughter who died as an infant and a son who was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista in Mexico (Thomas). However, I believe that he lied so that his claim would be approved. He may have thought that his claim would not be approved if he admitted that his son had been in the Confederate army. He had already admitted that he had heard that his half-brother was in the Confederate army, but he added that he had not seen him in 25 years. He did not raise Thomas; if Joseph was his son, he did not raise Joseph either. He and Joseph share a given name. One of Joseph's sons was named Thomas. William M. Tillett, who gave a statement in support of Amanda (Russell) Tarkington's Confederate widow's pension application, was the grandson of Sarah (Tarkington) Tillett. Sarah was the daughter of William Tarkington, a cousin of Joseph S. Tarkington. William Tarkington had been Amelia Owen's guardian. William M. Tillett was present at Joseph and Amanda's wedding and he said that he had known Joseph for practically Joseph's entire life. William Tillett was slightly older than Joseph. If Joseph had been born in Giles County, Tennessee and moved to Williamson County as a very young child, it would explain why William Tillett said "his entire life, practically", not "his entire life". Joseph Tarkington's marriage bond is another piece of evidence: the bondsman was R. O. Owen.

People may lie if they have something to gain financially. I hope to eventually prove that Joseph S. Tarkington lied and that my Joseph was his son. I believe that the indirect evidence supports my theory.

Davidson County, Tennessee Original Marriage Bonds. J. P. C. Tarkinson to Amanda Russell. Nashville, Tennessee: Metropolitan Government Archives.

Joseph Tarkenton compiled service record. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Tennessee. NARA microfilm publication M268A, roll 0045 . ARC ID: 586957. War Department Collection of Confederate Records, Record Group 109. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.
Tennessee City Death Records: Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis 1848-1907. Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Death certificate no. 503, Joseph Tarkington.

Joseph Tarkington death notice, Nashville American, 20 April 1903