Sorting Saturday: Springsteens in New York City, 1856

Springsteens in New York City, City Directory, 1856/7, page 780. Public domain.
Springsteens in New York City, City Directory, 1856/7, page 780. Public domain.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

The New York Public Library Digital Collections webpage is an unbelievable resource for those researching in New York City and beyond. They have so generously made a push to make their collections available freely on the internet, and they allow use of much of their collection without fees or even required citations. There is so much on the site, and they continually add to it- it will keep many a dedicated family historian from sleep tonight and long into the future.

We know that our Helbling ancestors, the Springsteens, lived in New York City at various times. Jefferson Springsteen (1820-1909), the great-grandfather of Mary Theresa (Helbling) McMurray, married the Irish immigrant Anna M. Connor (1824-1887) in Brooklyn in 1843, and they are found in the 1850 US Federal Census in Brooklyn with three of their children. By 1853 they had moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, but Jefferson’s father, John Springsteen (1782-1867), his grandfather, Abraham Springsteen (abt 1755-1844 or before), or his siblings, may have been in NYC in 1856, when the City Directory listed quite a number of Springsteens and associated names.

Springsteens in New York City, City Directory, 1856/7, page 781. Public domain.
Springsteens in New York City, City Directory, 1856/7, page 781. Public domain.

An upcoming project is to go through this directory’s listings above, and determine exactly who each of these persons are, and how they might be related. Thankfully this publication places these Springsteens between the 1850 and 1860 US Federal Censuses, so those enumerations may help to sort out family lines, as might the occupations and addresses listed in the city directory.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. New York City Directory for 1856–
    http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/8f502510-52b4-0134-dacd-00505686a51c/book#page/787/mode/2up
  2. Thank you, New York Public Library, for your Digital Collections and making public information truly public and freely usable!

 

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Tuesday’s Tip: Mary (Bliss) Parsons- Which Witch??

Painting that many attribute as Mary Bliss Parsons, but it is not. No known images exist of her. Unknown source.
Painting that many attribute as Mary (Bliss) Parsons, but it is not. No known images exist of her. Unknown source.

McMurray Family, Burnell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Tuesday’s Tip: Be careful with names.

Even when the occupation or another trait seems to “fit,”

do an ‘exhaustive search’ to make sure you have the correct ancestor.

 

Initial research on Mary Parsons as an ancestor provided confusing results.

Two women with the name of Mary Parsons lived in two of the same towns during the same time period. That is challenging enough, but during the early research, I knew that “our” ancestor had been accused as a witch. That was not enough to distinguish one from the other, however- both of these Marys had been accused as witches! WOW!- so were they the same person?

No.

The key to this problem was to find the maiden names of the women- not always easy to do, especially in very early records. For women, looking at their children is also a clue. Well, sometimes children can be a clue, however the same few names were often used, children died young, etc. But the number of children, their birth years, and names, can be tidbits that might also prove helpful to differentiate two people, or prove they are the same.

In our case, the children helped but maiden names were the definitive way to show they were indeed two different women.

Mary (Lewis) Parsons, wife of Hugh Parsons, lived in Springfield, Hamden, Massachusetts at the same time as Mary (Bliss) Parsons, our ancestor. We have posted extensively about both families in our series on Mary (Bliss) Parsons. Once we found the maiden names of “Lewis” and “Bliss” it was fairly easy to distinguish between the two women. Additionally, Mary (Lewis) was older and had fewer children than “our” Mary (Bliss) Parsons.

Interestingly, though, some additional research shows that “Lewis” was NOT the maiden name of the wife of Hugh Parsons. I have never seen this mentioned in any of the scholarship on the two families, however.

How do I know that? It’s that BSOS- “Bright Shiny Object Syndrome,” where one has to look at just one more piece of evidence… though at least this one did not take me far from the original focus.

American Ancestors, the website of the New England Historic & Genealogical Society (NEHGS), has a database with the papers of John Winthrop, Deputy Governor of Massachusetts. In a letter from William Pynchon in Springfield to Winthrop, dated 15 September 1645, Pynchon states:

I wrote to you… about one Mary Lewis the wife of Lewis a papist. [a Catholic- something abhorred by the Puritans.] she hath been aboue [about] 7y[ears] seperated from her husband, and is perswaded by others that she may marry by the lawes of England: she is easely perswaded to that bec[ause] she liues [lives] vnder [under] temptations of desyer [desire] of mariage and I vunderstand [understand] lately that she is falen into a league of amity [a “friendly” relationship] with a bricke maker of our Towne…

This “bricke maker of our Towne” was none other than Hugh Parsons.

Thus “Lewis” was the married name of Mary, from her first marriage. Some researchers do note that she was deserted by her first husband (the “papist”), but none that I have found note her maiden name; I have not found it either.

Gov. Winthrop must have approved the “league of amity,” as the marriage of Mary and Hugh is is recorded in the Springfield, Massachusetts Vol. 1, page 20 of “Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850” on AmericanAncestors.org. It is written as:

Hugh Parsons & mary Lewis joyned in m[torn] 8 mon. 27 day 1645.

Researchers have therefore assumed that Mary’s maiden name was Lewis. But it most likely was not, as can be deduced from Pynchon’s letter stating she had married a man named Lewis. Of course, her maiden name could have been ‘Lewis’ and she married a man named ‘Lewis’- such things did happen, but it was less likely. Either way, technically, her name should be genealogically written as “Mary ( __ ) [Lewis] Parsons.”

So another tip: don’t assume!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. See resources listed in previous posts about Mary (Bliss) Parsons, Parts 1-4 beginning with:

    No Ghoulies, No Ghosties, But a Witch? Yep. Part 1“–http://heritageramblings.net/2015/10/31/no-ghoulies-no-ghosties-but-a-witch-yep-part-1/

    “Wedding Wednesday: Mary Parsons and Ebenezer Bridgman”http://heritageramblings.net/2015/12/23/wedding-wednesday-mary-parsons-and-ebenezer-bridgman/

  2. Gov. John Winthrop Papers, Vol. 1-5, 1557 to 1649. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2016.) Originally published as: Winthrop Papers.Boston: Masssachuestts Historical Society, 1929 -. Vol. 5, page 45.

  3. Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016).

  4. Newer usage in genealogy includes using brackets around previous married names, in addition to the convention of parentheses around maiden names.
  5. Reading colonial writing is not as hard as it seems- if stumped, say the words out loud, as they were often spelled as they were said, and with whatever accent was used. Also note that sometimes “v” and “u” were used interchangeably as in ‘vnderstand.’ Additionally, an “f” was often used as an “s,” especially if it was a double “s” in the word, as in “difmifsed” for “dismissed.”

 

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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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Family Recipe Friday: The Cooper Family Oatmeal Cookies

Cooper Family Oatmeal Cookies

Lee Family, Cooper Family, Green Family, Broida Family (Click for Family Tree)

The ‘new’ tradition of brides to have a dessert table with favorite family recipes is just lovely! For those who are privileged to contribute a dessert, baking becomes another chance to contemplate the new life of the dear bride and groom. The sweet becomes more than just flour, sugar, and vanilla- it is full of love, hopes, and dreams for the new couple. And maybe a few tears add just a touch of salt…

Following is the recipe for oatmeal cookies made by Bess Dorothy (Green) Broida (1891-1978) and passed down to her daughter Gertrude (Broida) Cooper (1911-2011), who passed it to her children; they passed it down to their own progeny and married-ins. It is a delicious cooky that can have added flavors as desired: nuts (cashews are very good and unexpected), chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, toffee, raisins, even butterscotch chips (a definite favorite). The recipe makes at least 4 dozen cookies, or up to 7 dozen, depending on the size of dough dropped onto the cooky sheet. (Using scoops or “dishers”- sometimes known as ‘ice cream scoops’ with their spring-loaded sweeper- will make cooky size consistent.)

Cookies can be baked for as little or as long as desired- if you prefer just barely baked and chewy, bake for less time; hard and crunchy might take another minute or two.

A bonus of this recipe is that the dough can be frozen. Lay some dough across the bottom of a resealable bag and form into a roll. Roll up the bag and label; freeze. Rolls can also be made on wax paper and then multiple rolls put in a bag. Small amounts can be cut from a roll to have just a few fresh-baked cookies quickly- 7 dozen fresh-baked oatmeal cookies can be dangerous to have in the house! And we won’t talk about the friends in college who headed straight for our freezer to cut off chunks of this dough and eat it still frozen… Definitely not recommended because of the raw eggs but hey, we were all immortal then!

Enjoy this beloved family recipe!

The Cooper Family Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups granulated sugar

2 cups brown sugar, packed

1 cup solid white shortening

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

4 eggs

2-3 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 cups all-purpose flour

6 cups old-fashioned oats/oatmeal

 

Optional:  ½ – 2 cups of

chopped nuts OR

raisins OR

candies such as M & Ms OR

chips: chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, or Heath toffee OR

any combination you desire!

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  1. Cream together sugars, shortening, and butter until no granules of sugar can be seen and color lightens slightly.
  1. Add eggs and mix well; add vanilla and mix in thoroughly.
  1. Combine baking soda, salt, and flour.
  1. Add flour mixture to creamed ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  1. Stir in oatmeal.
  1. Dough may be divided and optional ingredients added as desired.
  1. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cooky sheet or parchment paper.
  1. Bake about 13 minutes for a #50 scoop, depending on how crispy or chewy one desires the cookies.

 

NOTES:

Dough may be rolled into logs and frozen. Slice while still frozen for baking, which may take a few minutes longer than thawed dough.

 

Makes 4-7 dozen cookies depending on size

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Photo from our favorite flower girl, and recipe passed down through the family.

 

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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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A Very Special Day

05 June 1948- Wedding picture of Edward A. McMurray and Mary T. Helbling
05 June 1948- Wedding picture of Edward A. McMurray and Mary T. Helbling

McMurray Family,  Helbling Family, Cooper Family, Broida Family, (Click for Family Trees)

Today is a very special day in our family- there will be a wedding!

Young brides and grooms think that their wedding is a celebration of their love, and it definitely is that. It is their most special day, to long be remembered by themselves and all the loving family and friends who share the joyful event.

But…

♥ Every wedding is a reaffirmation of love and how it endures through the years.

♥ Every wedding is the start of something- a new chapter in the book of life, in which one builds a career, maybe a business, a set of new relationships, and (hopefully) a lifetime of love and support.

And…

♥ Every wedding is a reinforcement of the new family as a small unit within a much larger set of families.

So it is also a time to think about all those marriages that came before and helped to make us who we are, with our random inheritance of DNA.

Today, let us take a bit of a walk through the past, remembering the marriages of our ancestors and the happiness they must have felt on their own special day, or that of their children. Joy fills our hearts as we think of the life these couples built together, and the legacy they have left us.

Abraham Green and Rose Braef/Brave- Wedding Picture? About 1884.
Abraham Green and Rose Braef/Brave- Wedding Picture? About 1884.

The above is the oldest wedding picture we have.

Wedding Photo of Joseph and Helen Cooper
Wedding Photo of Joseph and Helen Cooper, about 1901.

Cooper was Helen’s maiden name- they were second cousins- so that made things easy name-wise.

Some folks eloped so we have no actual wedding picture of them:

1974_02_40th Wedding Anniversary of Gertrude Belle (Broida) Cooper and Irving Israel Cooper.
1974_02_40th Wedding Anniversary of Gertrude Belle (Broida) Cooper and Irving Israel Cooper.

Sure seems like there would be wedding pictures somewhere within the Payne-McMurray family, but don’t have any for this couple either:

Wedding announcement for Lynette Payne-William McMurray wedding in The Oakland Tribune, 22 June 1899.
Wedding announcement for Lynette Payne-William Elmer McMurray wedding in The Oakland Tribune, 22 June 1899.

Lynette was just nineteen, and had been living with her maternal uncle, Court K. Burnell, after she moved from California to Iowa. C.K. travelled quite a lot, and that may be why A. S. Burnell gave permission for Lynette’s marriage.

Marriage license of Will and Lynette Payne, 6 June 1899.
Marriage license of Will and Lynette Payne, 6 June 1899, Newton, Jasper, Iowa.

A.S. Burnell was most likely another maternal uncle, Arthur Strong Burnell, who was living in Newton, Jasper, Iowa, in the 1900 US Federal Census. Both uncles had daughters around Lynette’s age (and C.K. also had sons) so Lynette had quite a bit of family in Newton, where she and Will McMurray spent the rest of their lives.

1960s? Will and Lynette (Payne) McMurray in Iowa.
1960s? Will and Lynette (Payne) McMurray in Iowa.

These were all long marriages.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Today’s wedding ceremony fills our hearts to bursting, and it surely will overflow into tears- but they will be (mostly) happy tears.  Today, it is our child- a product of our love- who marries, and who continues the legacy of love through time.

Oh, Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!!

 

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.
 

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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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Workday Wednesday: Frederick McMurray Crying a Farm Sale

Frederick A. McMurray, "crying" a farm sale prior to 1929. From an article in the Newton Daily News, Centennial Edition, August 10, 1957, page 27.
Frederick A. McMurray, “crying” a farm sale prior to 1929. From an article in the Newton Daily News, Centennial Edition, August 10, 1957, page 27.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

“Crying a farm sale” was a term used for what an auctioneer did to drum up interest in an item at an auction to get a good sale price. It took very careful listening to understand the words as a sale was ‘cried,’ since the auctioneer spoke so fast.

Frederick Asbury McMurray (1850-1929) was initially a farmer, but became an auctioneer in 1880, in Newton, Jasper County, Iowa. Farm sales and auctions were common in rural areas back in those days. When a farmer lost the land due to taxes and bad crop years, or when death took the person who worked the land, often parts or all of the land, barns and other buildings, farm equipment, tools, horses, buggies, and even the house and household goods would be sold at a public gathering. Even the kitchen sink could be offered at an auction!

Of course, stores and homes could also be the subject of auction, not just farms.

Apparently Fred had quite a following as he was a very good auctioneer. His job was to command the highest prices for his employer, or the person who contracted with him to cry the sale. “There frequently being a rivalry as to who can first command his services,” Fred kept his calendar filled with auction dates. His headquarters were at the grocery in Newton owned by his son, William Elmer McMurray (1874-1957), and farmers and store owners would come into the store to talk with Fred to engage him for their sale.

Of course, the higher the price that Fred could get for an auction item, the better for him as well as the farmer, as auctioneers generally receive a percentage of the total sales to pay them for their work. “Buyer’s premium” as it is called today, is usually 15% of the sale price, though it can vary. (Could not find out how much the  premium was in the late 1800s.)

Most auctioneers stayed pretty local, but Fred was so popular that he travelled to many other counties in central Iowa, and was well known for his abilities. Around 1903, Fred even cried a sale in Dexter, Dallas County, Iowa. Dexter was about 70 miles west of Newton, but evidently the income from the sale was worth paying him for the time and travel.

In 1902, Fred cried 128 sales, with his average sale being worth $2,100- that would be about $55,000 in today’s money!  [See Note 2.] That was a significant total, and he was at the top of the auctioneer ranks because of it.

Of course, his descendants- Fred was the grandfather of Edward A. McMurray, Sr. (1900-1992)- would like to think his personality made him popular as well as his skill at generating income for  someone hosting an auction. The newspapers of the day did mention that “The secret of Fred’s success is his attention to business, his fairness, and strict fidelity to the interests of his employer…” Fred would “…leave both buyer and seller in good humor and satisfied.”

“His work speaks for itself.”

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family treasure chest article, “Fred A. McMurray” from The Daily Herald, [Newton, Iowa], January 1, 1903, page 9.
  2. The inflation calculator at http://www.in2013dollars.com/1902-dollars-in-2016?amount=2100 was used to determine Fred’s sales. If he received a 15% buyer’s premium, $8,250 in today’s money would have been his average income from a sale in 1902, with his income equivalent for the year 1902 over a million dollars. Fred may have done very well that year, but not likely that well. So it is important to really look at such calculators and use common sense with the math.

 

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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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