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A Bit of Blog Housekeeping Again…

"We Help Mommy" c 1956
“We Help Mommy” c 1956

 

Remember that Little Golden Book? We Help Mommy was one of my/our favorites, as it was for most of the little girls of the 1950s.

My time for cleaning house and writing more blog posts, researching, or even just wasting my time has been lost to blog spammers, especially recently. My email inbox is clogged with spam day after day, and every time I check it there are at least a few more- one time, 30!!! Yes, it is not big, heavy, hard work to click a bunch of keys to mark a comment as spam, but they have worn me down for now. So comments will be closed, not just moderated, for a while anyway. I do encourage you to please use the “Contact Us” form if you like blog posts, have questions, can add something to a post or correct it, or are related and we don’t know it.

Thanks for your understanding.

 

Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 

Census Sunday- New Clues Concerning Little Johnny Beerbower

1910 US Federal Census for Josephine Janis (Jane Elizabeth Cockrell Beerbower) showing the number of children born to her and still living.
1910 US Federal Census for Josephine Janis (Jane Elizabeth Cockrell Beerbower) showing the number of children born to her and still living.

We can’t say this issue is solved yet, but asking the question prompted more research in a different way, and gave us a few more pieces of data.

In my Mystery Monday post of 17 Nov 2014, a newspaper story generated two questions:

1) What is the actual birth date of the little Johnny Beerbower named in the story?

2) Is this another, unknown child of the Beerbowers who died before or in 1884, or is this actually John Percy Beerbower, born 18 Jan 1885?

Census information would be one of the few places I could document this child, but since the parents married in 1881 and little Johnny possibly died before 1885 (before John Percy Beerbower was born), he would not be listed with the family in any decennial census. But there is one very useful piece of data in only 3 censuses- in 1890, 1900, and 1910, the census asked all women the number of children born to them, and the number still living. (In 1940, only married women who were part of those getting the supplemental questions were asked this.)

Over the years, I had not been able to find any censuses for Elsie Janis and her mother after Elsie’s birth in 1889, even though I searched for years in various places. I wanted to verify the number of children born to Josephine in the 1900 and 1910 censuses to answer the questions about Johnny Beerbower, and wanted to find later censuses to see what information could be gleaned from them. (Josephine died in 1930 so the 1940 census would not have even been a possibility for more information about the number of children born to her.) The reasons these other censuses have been elusive are many:

1) As Elsie was in the theater, it is hard to know where they might have been on census day.

Elsie Janis in The Hoyden, 1897, age 16.
Elsie Janis in The Hoyden, 1897, age 16. From an unknown magazine.

2) There is no available 1890 census in Ohio that can give us clues as to where their home may have been that year when Elsie was just 1 year old, and her brother Percy 5.

3) Since Elsie was just 11 in 1900, we would need to search for her parents. The Head of Household would probably have been her mother, as her parents separated though we do not know exactly when. Her mother traveled with Elsie as her Stage Manager, while her father continued at his job, possibly in Marion, Ohio. I have searched unsuccessfully using both her mother and father’s names.

4) Searching for Elsie’s mother was also a challenge- she herself had wanted to be on the stage, and had many names throughout the years. She was born Jane Elizabeth Cockrell, went by Jennie E. Cockrell when she was married, and settled on Josephine Janis once Elsie became famous.

5) Spellings of course varied widely, as did indexing of these family names: Beerbower vs Bierbower, etc.

Yesterday’s look on FamilySearch.org happily turned up the family in the 1920 census, and I was then able to find the image on Ancestry.com. (Why this time? I was using the same terms previously used.) Knowing some of the servant’s names from 1920 helped me to actually find the 1930 image- it did not come up in a search for Elsie nor Josephine. The chauffeur’s name, Frank Reme, from the 1920 household was the clue that led me finally to the 1930 census for Elsie and her mother, as he still worked for them. (Gotta love the FAN Club research concept, and loyal employees.)

I was still looking for 1900 and 1910 census entries for Elsie and Josephine Janis. The search engines smiled favorably, possibly because of the other hits, and I found their 1910 enumeration. In 1910, Josephine was listed as having had two children, with only one surviving. John Percy Beerbower died in 1907, so he would be the child not living per this census. So more questions: Was the 1910 census information provided by a servant in the household or neighbor, or even Elsie (head of household at age 20) who only knew of the two children since she was the last born? Or did Josephine not include a previous child, possibly the “little Johnny Beerbower” of the newspaper article, because the pain of the loss was so great, or maybe he was born a ‘bit early’? Or do we have an incorrect birth date for John Percy, and “little Johnny” is really John Percy (who was called Percy)?

Still searching for the family in the 1900 census… newspaper articles of the birth of little Johnny might also be available, though they have not yet turned up in any searches I have done. Maybe the search engines will smile favorably again when the planets align properly.

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Original post: http://heritageramblings.net/2014/11/17/mystery-monday-what-is-the-birth-date-of-little-johnny-beerbower/

2) Bucyrus, Ohio, where John E. Beerbower and Jennie Cockrell were married, is just about 18 miles north of Marion, Ohio.

3) Excellent write-up concerning the censuses that ask about number of children born and still living: “What census years asked women about childbirth?” on Genealogy Today at http://www.genealogytoday.com/genealogy/answers/What_census_years_asked_women_about_childbirth.html

4) 1910 US Federal Census for Elsie and Josephine Janis: Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Columbus Ward 12, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T624_1183; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0176; FHL microfilm: 1375196. Accessed via Ancestry.com on 11/20/14.

5) 1920 US Federal Census for Elsie and Josephine Janis: Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: North Tarrytown, Westchester, New York; Roll: T625_1276; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 68; Image: 599.  Accessed via Ancestry.com on 11/20/14.

6) 1930 US Federal Census for Elsie and Josephine Janis: Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California; Roll: 124; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 0822; Image: 258.0; FHL microfilm: 2339859.   Accessed via Ancestry.com on 11/20/14.

 

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, 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.

Treasure Chest Thursday: Family Scrapbooks, Photo Albums, and Shoe Boxes

Section of page 2  in Edith Roberts' college scrapbook with sorority invitations. (Apologies for the poor copy- it was a photocopy in the days before scanners.)
Section of page 2 in Edith Roberts’ college scrapbook with sorority invitations. Edith was attending college about 1919- very few women were enrolled at the University of Iowa (in Iowa City) in those days. (Apologies for the poor copy- it was a photocopy back in the days before scanners.)

I recently read a great post that was linked on the Oct. 12, 2014 GeneaBloggers Daily by Gordon Belt: Scrapbooks: the Original Social Media. The article is by Katherine Hoarn, and her premise is intriguing:

“As a means of creating and communicating self, … scrapbooks operate in much the same way that popular forms of social media do for students today.”

Ms. Hoarn continues in her article to discuss how scrapbooks served the same purpose years ago as Facebook does now- to allow communication between family and friends and give a sense of who the person was at a certain point in their life.

Scrapbooking- and by extension the paper ephemera passed down that we family historians so cherish- is also an act of curation, Ms. Hoarn explains.

12 June 1892- Will McMurray's Graduation program from Newton High School, Newton, Iowa.
12 June 1892- Will McMurray’s Graduation program from Newton High School, Newton, Iowa.

She compares this collecting of text and images to Pinterest and Tumblr sites that showcase interests, passions, and events. Whether neatly organized onto boards on Pinterest or into a scrapbook, autograph book, photo album, diary, or even a shoebox, most of what we have inherited has been culled through generations to be the most important ephemera of a life. If we are lucky, we may even have commentary attached to give us more insight into a life.

"Heap good shot. Ketch plenty fish." Probably William Hanford Aiken.
“Heap good shot. Ketch plenty fish.” Probably William Hanford Aiken about 1910, when he was living in Florence, Colorado with his family.

Instagram, of course, is today’s electronic version of the photo album and if we are REALLY lucky, our old images will also be “tagged” with names, dates, and places.

Mabel Mulhollen is written on the back, Nov. '28 [1928] on the front.
Mabel Mulhollen is written on the back, Nov. ’28 [1928] on the front. Sadly no place clues for this photo.
A caption can touch our hearts or give us a giggle- sometimes both at the same time.

About 1929? Edward A. McMurray, from his own photo album in which he wrote the captions, created  in the late 1940s.
About 1929? Edward A. McMurray, from his own photo album in which he wrote the captions, created in the late 1940s as he was preparing to get married.

As one who laments the passing of paper and worries what treasures will be left for the next generations to cherish in their even more ephemeral electronic world,  I truly treasure the scrapbook, photo albums, and shoe boxes of photos and papers left by our ancestors. I am so glad that we do have ways of sharing the old-timey via new technology, though, so all can gain a bit more insight into those who have gone before.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1)  Geneabloggers Daily: http://paper.li/geneabloggers/1306385546

2) In the near long ago, boys graduated to long pants as they matured- a rite of passage that was longed for by many, much as our generation cannot wait until we can drive.

3) While searching for appropriate pictures for this post, I found the above image of Mabel- we have a younger picture of her that until this moment we thought was the only one- see Mystery Monday: Mabel Mulhollen. She may be more important in our family than we realized since there is more than one photo of her. We can also use this photo of her at an older age to compare to other family images from the same time period that include people we do not know. Is she family or part of the FAN Club? More research needed.

4) FAN Club= Friends, Associates, Neighbors; researching these folks can help us learn more about our ancestors.

5) The Newton (Iowa) High School Class of 1892 included Lillie Brown, Ella Clarkson, Marie Hass, Henry Jasper, Fred Kennedy, Belle Lambert, Artie McKinley, Willie McMurray, Hettie McCord, Fred Meredith, and Lillian Patten.

Workday Wednesday- Altruria

"An Altrurian Experiment" in Harper's Weekly, 15 Sep 1894, Vol. 38, No. 1969, Page 867, Part 1.
“An Altrurian Experiment” in Harper’s Weekly, 15 Sep 1894, Vol. 38, No. 1969, Page 867, Part 1.

Altruria, a Utopian colony founded by Edward B. Payne and others in 1894, was an experiment in using the ideals of Christian Socialism and applying them to the workday world of the colony members. Workers were paid the same, whether it was a job as a laundress, a position Edward Payne’s daughter Lynette Payne worked, or farming, building, cooking, etc. Men and women were paid the same for their work, and women held positions within the group organization. No one job was more important than another, and all workers were valued. Those colony members who were too old to work would be paid from the group coffers once the colony was larger and more established.

"An Altrurian Experiment" in Harper's Weekly, 15 Sep 1894, Vol. 38, No. 1969, Page 867, Part 2.
“An Altrurian Experiment” in Harper’s Weekly, 15 Sep 1894, Vol. 38, No. 1969, Page 867, Part 2.

The $50 entrance fee was “seed money” to get the colony going- literally “seed money” in some respects as the colonists did have large gardens and orchards, and even a store where excess produce was taken for sale to the public.

Many of the Socialists of the day did not believe in the use or acquisition of money, and in Altruria, paper checks and tickets were used for paying workers and purchasing products in the Altruria stores. “Cooperation” was emphasized instead of competition and the aggressive, selfish motives of ‘business as usual’ in pursuit of the almighty dollar, which was abhorred by the Altrurians.

The Altrurians were progressive from a farming and manufacturing perspective, utilizing machines when possible to make their work easier and less time-consuming.

Edward B. Payne was the President of the First Council, and the by-laws required a female Vice President. Rev. Payne still had his pastorate in Berkeley at this time, so did not live full-time at Altruria. He did visit frequently, however, and in addition to his organizational tasks, edited and wrote much of the colony’s newspaper, The Altrurian.

Sadly, the community lasted less than two years. Although members were vetted prior to joining the colony and the group received donations from around the country, there was still internal dissention, and economic woes were significant. The zealous group overextended themselves loan-wise and building progress was not swift enough for the loaned money to begin to turn a profit. Additionally, the Crash of 1893 and resulting national depression affected this enterprise that began in 1894, making it a risky venture from the start. The colonists were able to hold on until 1896 when they ended their “glorious failure” still full of optimism that cooperation could work in a more perfect world.

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) “An Altrurian Experiment” in Harper’s Weekly, 15 Sep 1894, Vol. 38, No. 1969, Page 867. Copy owned by author.

2) William Dean “W.D.” Howells wrote A Traveller from Altruria, a novel which describes the American system of society to a Mr. Homos of Altruria. The book is basically an indictment of capitalism and the consequences of competition, including the class differences it produces. It is also a guide to the cooperative lifestyle of the fictional Altruria. This novel was a best-seller in many countries, especially England and the United States.

3) Edward Bellamy wrote Looking Backward, a time-traveling Utopian novel. In the story, Julian West falls into a deep sleep and wakes up 113 years later, in the year 2000. The US has been converted to a Socialist society, and the book explains these principles and makes an argument for cooperation rather than competition to make a better world. It was the third best-selling novel of its time.

4) See also Friday’s Faces From the Past: Edward Biron Payne.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images.

Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, 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.