Treasure Chest Thursday: G.W. Helbling and Anna May Beerbower Art

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Drawings done by Gerard William “G.W.” Helbling as frames for pictures of himself and the love of his life, Anna May (Beerbower) Helbling.

Helbling Family, Beerbower Family (Click for Family Tree)

This has been a challenging year and sadly the blog has been one of the (many) things pushed to the bottom of the list- so sorry. Hopefully now there will be some time for writing and posting, as there are so many stories and wonderful artifacts to share!

The above images are on dark gray cardstock, likely ink and paint for the backgrounds and the images cut from photographs. Gerard William, or “G.W.” Helbling, was an accomplished artist, silk screen sign painter, and even an undertaker (that takes artistic and esthetic skills).

G.W. was born in 1882 in St. Louis, Missouri, most likely, and Ann May Beerbower, the love of his life, was born in 1881 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Since we do not have the 1890 census, it is more challenging to determine when GW and May might have met. Anna’s mother (Anna Missouri (Springsteen) Beerbower) was listed in the 1897 Indianapolis City Directory with her sons Edgar and Robert, and possibly daughter Anna May lived there as well- she likely would not have been listed, as she was only 16 at the time. Anna Missouri was listed as a widow, however she was actually divorced from her husband Edgar Peter Beerbower. (They would later remarry.) By 1900 Anna (Missouri) was living in St. Louis, where she was enumerated as living with her 23 year-old son Edgar S., and 18 year-old daughter “May.”

G.W. Helbling was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and his parents resided there between 1890-1900 per city directories and censuses. It is likely that the two met in St. Louis, after Anna moved there sometime between 1897 and 1900. They married on 24 November 1904, when Anna was 23, G.W. 22.

Their daughter, Mary Theresa (Helbling) McMurray, thought that he had created this art sometime in their early years together. Using pictures from when they were young teens- or maybe younger?- he painted the backgrounds first, then cut out the photos and glued them on. He was the “wild man” and she his “queen.”

The couple had almost fifty years together of their love story, but Anna died on November 9, 1954; their 50th anniversary would have been on the 24th. Their love story lives on in the sweet artifacts they left behind, and in the legacy of their children.

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family treasure chest of photos and artifacts.
  2. City directories and censuses.

 

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Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Wedding Wednesday: The Drage-Lee Wedding-and Colonial Independence

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John LEE-Dinah DRAGE Marriage Record, Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1912, Irthlingborough Parish Register 1754-1812, via Ancestry.com.

Lee Family (Click for Family Tree)

[Robert Eugene Lee–> Lloyd Eugene Lee (1907-1991)–> Samuel John Lee (1879-1964)–> Samuel Lenton Lee (1849-1932)–> George Lee (1821-1897)–>William Lee (1780-1851)–> John Lee (1736-abt 1827) + Dinah Drage (1748-?)]

Dinah Drage married John Lee on 10 September 1776 in Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire, England.

The marriage was by “banns”- a public announcement of an intent to marry, in this case at the church for several Sundays preceding the wedding. (Until 1983, the Catholic church published marriage banns in the parish Sunday newsletter.) Three banns, usually a week apart, were required- it limited spur-of-the-moment marriages. More importantly, there was time for anyone opposed to the marriage to come forth. If the couple was too closely related, one was still married or obligated to another, if they were not of the required age, etc., this was the time to “…speak now or forever hold your peace.” If no one spoke up with a valid concern, the marriage could take place, and would be legal.

And it is a good thing this one did take place- otherwise, their Lee descendants would not be here!

Dinah Drage was the daughter of William Drage (1715-?) and Ann Foster (?-?). Dinah was possibly about 28 years old at the marriage. John Lee’s parents were Henry Lee (1710-?) and Elizabeth Bloifeild (1711-?); John was 40 at the time of the marriage, if we have the correct John Lee. (There were many John Lee in Northamptonshire, but only this one in Irthlingborough.) This could have been a first marriage, but might instead have been a second marriage, at least for John since he is much older. We do not have birth information for Dinah, but do have a baptism record of her birth with the names of her parents. So it likely was not a second marriage for Dinah (her parents were listed as “Drage”), though she may have been older than an infant when baptized, making her age closer to John’s. Since they lived in a city with established churches, however, the likelihood that she was baptized as a young infant is high, making her about 28 or 12 years younger than John.

The above certificate is a bit difficult to read, but it appears that John and Dinah were married by Chris Ellenshaw, Curate. (A Curate was an assistant to the Vicar/ Rector/Minister of a church.) John Robinson and John Sears were witnesses, thus may have been related or close friends of either the bride or groom. (More research to do…) John and Dinah were unable to sign their names and made their mark on the certificate.

Garlands of flowers were used at weddings at this time, so the bride may have had a garland in her hair, some at the church, and even the reception if they had one. Gloves were often given as a gift to the bride- and possibly the groom?

King George III of England, age 33, painted in 1771, via Wikipedia. Public Domain.

George III was the King of England, the American Colonies, and a number of other countries around the world at the time of John and Dinah’s marriage. The news of the Declaration of Independence was not printed in an English newspaper until 17 August 1776- it took about 5-6 weeks for the information to cross the ocean. Would the couple have been concerned, getting married less than a month after hearing the news?

They probably were not that worried, surprisingly. England had been at war with France and other countries for years, so war was not an unusual state. (The people were quite tired of funding such wars with their taxes, however, especially as the war in America continued.) John’s age would have put him at a less-than-prime age for soldiering, thankfully. Because of so many wars and the reduced number of available young men for conscription, the King turned to other countries for troops to hire for the American Revolution, such as the Hessians from Germany. Additionally, some British citizens sided with the Americans, or were somewhat sympathetic as they wanted to continue the lucrative trade with the colonies across the ocean.

So the wedding of John and Dinah was most likely a happy occasion, without the shadow of war looming over them. We hope their almost 46 years of marriage was happy as well.

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1.  “Henry Fairlie on What Europeans Thought of Our Revolution” by Henry Fairlie, New Republic, 4 July 2014.  https://newrepublic.com/article/118527/american-revolution-what-did-europeans-think

 

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Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Tombstone Tuesday: Fireworks Incidents in 1863

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"Singular and Fatal Accident" in Janesville (Wisconsin) Daily Gazette, Vol. 7, No. 89, Page 3, Column 1.
“Singular and Fatal Accident” in Janesville (Wisconsin) Daily Gazette, 20 June 1863, Vol. 7, No. 89, Page 3, Column 1.

 

And it wasn’t even July 4th!!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. See above caption for source.

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Sentimental Sunday: Three Generations of McMurray Dads

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Three generations of McMurray Dads: Dr. Edward A. McMurray, Sr. on left, his mother Lynette (Payne) McMurray holding his son Edward A. McMurray, Jr., and her husband and Dr. McMurray’s father, Will McMurray, on right. circa 1924-5.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Today, Father’s Day, is a great day to get sentimental about the dads in our family- we wouldn’t be US without them!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family treasure chest of photos.

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2017 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
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Mystery Monday: Wiley A. Murrell and the Committee of Vigilance

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Botetourt Co. VA Committee of Vigilance. See 2-3 lines down from highlighted area- “Wiley A. Murrell,” and “Jas. A. Murrell.” Richmond Enquirer, 12 March 1840, Botetourt County, Vol. 36, No. 102, Page 4, Col. 2, via VirginiaChronicle.com. (Click to enlarge.)

 

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Our new, exciting find of the name of Wiley Anderson Murrell (1805-1885) in a newspaper gives us a bit of interesting information about him even though it is only a list. It also brings a bit of a mystery.

The heading of the paragraph in which we find his name is “Committee of Vigilance.” So what is this committee? And why are there so many- about 143 total- listed on the committee?

A Google search for ‘committee of vigilance’ indicates that these were groups of private citizens who helped maintain law and order, especially in frontier or sparsely populated areas where governmental law enforcement was insufficient.

In 1840, the County of Botetourt (pronounced “Bot-ih-tot” by locals) had a population of 11, 679 persons. The county had actually lost about 28% of its population since the previous census year (1830), but that was because the county of Roanoke was formed out of Botetourt, taking about 30% of the land. So the population likely did not become more sparse during that decade.

Doing some rough calculations for square miles, the population may have been about 15 persons/square mile. That may have been sparse enough that law enforcement would have needed help by the citizens. Since the county is bounded on the northwest by the Appalachian Mountains and on the southeast by the Blue Ridge Mountains, there is some rugged land there despite the majority of the county being in the Roanoke River Valley. Some of the mountains rise over 4,000 ft., so that was a lot of land for law enforcement to control.

Politically, abolition was one of the great divisors of our society even back in 1830-1840. The Nat Turner Rebellion, a Virginia uprising of slaves in which 57 whites were killed, occurred in 1831, and other violence across the country occurred between slave owners and those who were anti-slavery. The Panic of 1837 occurred when New York City banks failed and unemployment levels were high, and climbing higher. (History repeats itself.)

“Aftermath of the Panic of 1837”- caricature by Edward Williams Clay, 1837. Lithograph image in public domain, via Wikipedia.com.

This Botetourt Co. Committee of Vigilance was formed at the Democratic State Convention on 22 Feb 1840. Other counties also had their own committees.

A man’s politics (women could not vote, of course) was important back in those days, and known to all the neighbors. The Democrats had elected Martin Van Buren as President in 1836, and he was to become the candidate again in 1840 at the national convention. The convention was unable to decide on a Vice-Presidential candidate, however, and three men divided that vote within the Electoral College.

The Whigs- there were no Republicans as we know them at that point- for the first time decided to support one candidate instead of several. They chose William Henry Harrison, who, although born in Virginia, was considered a Northerner since Ohio was his residence. Harrison was wealthy and well-educated, born of wealthy planters and himself a slave-owner, and a ‘hero’ of the Indian Wars. Despite all this, he was promoted as a ‘common man’ with a ‘log cabin’ image.

The Harrison campaign painted Van Buren as snobbish and out of touch with his constituents, wealthy, and extravagant with the taxes of the American people. Van Buren, however, was of ‘common’ stock in reality, as his father was a tavern-keeper. As President, he had refused to admit Texas to the Union as it would have upset the balance of slave and free states. (He later ran as an abolitionist.) Van Buren was the first American President who was born an American citizen, not British.

Rather than talk about actual important national issues, in 1840 the Whigs focused on the failed policies of the President’s Democratic administration. This was the first election in which a candidate actually campaigned, and the Whigs did well, utilizing many of our modern ‘obfuscate the important things’ and ‘create the myth the people want to hear’ campaign strategies.

Virginia, which, in 1840, included West Virginia, did vote for Van Buren, but Harrison was more able to convince voters ranging from high-powered bankers to poor western settlers that he was the better choice for the country. He won both the Electoral College and popular vote, although it was much closer in the popular vote than predicted- Harrison won only by 146,000 votes, out of 2.4 million cast. So the citizens of the US remained quite divided over the large issues of the day, such as a national bank and slavery.

So where does this leave us with Wiley Anderson Murrell and the Democratic ‘Committee of Vigilance’? Going into the 1840s and with a change in the national political power, it was important that the Democrats have some control in Botetourt County. Law enforcement concerning runaway slaves,  debts unpaid to a bank, etc. would have been influenced by the local party in control, possibly even after the Presidential election. Although Van Buren won Botetourt County 50.65% to Harrison’s 49.35%, we do not know what changes may have happened after Harrison took office. Having the Democratic Committee of Vigilance in place may have made a difference in how the county was run. (We should check on whether or not there was a Whig Committee of Vigilance.)

It has been exciting to finally find Wiley A. Murrell’s name in the newspaper after so many years of searching, and it would be wonderful to maybe find more about his time with this committee or in Virginia.  Having James A. Murrell listed also gives us a clue that he might have had a brother, cousin, or uncle or father living in the area in 1840- that too may open some research doors. And of course, it is always interesting to place our ancestors in the context of their times!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “Committee of Vigilance,” Richmond Enquirer, 12 March 1840, Botetourt County, Vol. 36, No. 102, Page 4, Col. 2, via VirginiaChronicle.com.
  2. Virginia County maps by year: http://www.mapofus.org/virginia/
  3. “United States presidential election, 1840” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1840

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2017 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright or use of our blog material.