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Workday Wednesday: The Drugstore of Samuel J. Lee

Lee Family (Click for Family Tree)

Trying to learn about the businesses where our ancestors worked can help us fill in some of the context of their lives.

Samuel J. Lee (1879-1964) was a druggist in St. Louis, Missouri. A Google search with his name took us to GoogleBooks, and a few directories of pharmacies throughout the nation.

Samuel J. Lee in His Drugstore in St. Louis, Missouri, possibly 1940s or 1950s?

GoogleBooks does not have the complete run of these directories- only 1905, 1906, 1910, 1911, 1916, 1921, and 1923 were available for today’s research. (Hopefully more on a tomorrow in the near future.)

There were only two mentions found:

1921- Samuel J. Lee in St. Louis, Missouri, The Era Druggists’ Directory, Vol. 19, Page 178, D. O. Haynes & Co., 1921, via GoogleBooks.

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1923- Samuel J. Lee as proprietor of Chenoweth Drugs in St. Louis, Missouri, The Era Druggists’ Directory, Vol. 19, Page 178, D. O. Haynes & Co., 1923, via GoogleBooks.

This suggests that Sam bought the Chenoweth Drugstore, and, as many do, Sam kept the old name since that is how customers knew the company. Generally, a buyer has to purchase the name and the “goodwill” it has built up over the years to continue to use it, or else rename the store at the risk of old customers not being able to find it.

Samuel J. Lee (left) in his Chouteau Ave store in St. Louis, Missouri, circa 1920?

Further research in other years did not bring up Sam’s name. It did, however, bring up the Chenoweth name.

1913- Chenoweth Drugs in St. Louis, Missouri, The Era Druggists’ Directory, Vol. 17, Page 113, D. O. Haynes & Co., 1913, via GoogleBooks.

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1916- Chenoweth Drugs in St. Louis, Missouri, The Era Druggists’ Directory, Vol. 18, Page 100, D. O. Haynes & Co., 1916, via GoogleBooks.

We know by the address that it was the same store. A quick trip to GoogleMaps shows the 4067 Chouteau Ave. address as very close to Sarah Ave- it is the closest cross-street. Sadly the building no longer appears to be in existence.

It is interesting that in 1921, the drugstore was listed under just Sam’s name, but in 1923, it was called “Chenoweth Drug Store” again. Reviewing city directories might give us more information, and it is more likely that a complete (or almost complete) run of those will be more available than the more specific druggist directories.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Images from directories as listed in captions.
  2. Google maps for 4067 Chouteau in St. Louis–https://www.google.com/maps/@38.6279979,-90.2492035,3a,90y,125.02h,79.72t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s_ibdo7GZjK2nEFcAWsga0A!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1
  3. See also “Five Family Photos for Friday- Samuel J. Lee of St. Louis, Missouri”– http://heritageramblings.net/2013/12/13/five-family-photos-for-friday-samuel-j-lee-of-st-louis-missouri/

 

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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. 
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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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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. 
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.

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.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

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. 
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.

Friday’s Faces from the Past: Curmudgeon Day

Benjamin Family, McMurray Family, Lee Family, Helbling Family (Click for Family Tree)

W. C. Fields (above) was a curmudgeon, and on the anniversary of his birth on 29 February 1880, we celebrate all the curmudgeons we know and love- or try to love.

What is a curmudgeon, you may ask? Generally described as a complaining, crotchety, critical old man, in the interest of equal rights we will include women as possibilities too. “Snarling contempt” is a good phrase that can describe the opinions, attitudes, and writings of curmudgeons. The very best curmudgeons, however, will add a bit of humor or dry wit to their scathing words, and give us an insight into the human condition; sometimes they even make a career out of it.

W. C. Fields is famous for many a curmudgeonly phrase, some from his movies, and some said on his own while in character (he was said to personally be a kind man). Many other quotes have been attributed to him but may not be really his words. Here are a few of his most famous:

 “I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.”
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.
If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.”
And the quote that sums up his character:
I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally.
Title page of the First Folio, 1623. Copper engraving of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout. Public domain, via Wikipedia.
Title page of the First Folio, 1623. Copper engraving of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout. Public domain, via Wikipedia.

The characters of William Shakespeare issued their share of curmudgeonly insults to each other long before- and now after- W. C. Fields:

There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.” (from Henry V)

Thine face is not worth sunburning.” (from Henry V)

Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage.” (from As You Like It)

You are as a candle, the better burnt out.(from Henry IV, Part 1)

Nowadays, we may have to extend the definition of ‘curmudgeon’ to include cartoons (Lucy always complaining and nagging Charlie Brown), puppets (Oscar the Grouch), and even internet memes (Grumpy Cat). And when you put two together you get…

Isn’t the internet wonderful??

We all know some curmudgeons, and likely have a few in the family, though it is doubtful that any of our dear readers would fit into that category.  We won’t name (many) names, but we do have a few ancestors who are long gone that we could possibly honor as Curmudgeons on this very special day.

OK, OK, it’s not really that special a day, as any true curmudgeon would proclaim.

Samuel J. Lee in His Drugstore in St. Louis, Missouri, possibly 1940s or 1950s?
Samuel J. Lee in His Drugstore in St. Louis, Missouri, possibly 1940s or 1950s?

Samuel J. Lee (1879-1964) ran a drugstore in St. Louis, Missouri. As the neighborhood changed and got quite a bit rougher, it is understandable that he might have turned a bit curmudgeonly. Only apparently Sam sort of was that way even before. A nephew who worked for him said that it did not take much to get Sam upset. He actually had a peephole in the wall of the drugstore- something common to many stores so that an owner could truly ‘keep an eye’ on things. The nephew stated, however, that Sam would monitor his work performance through the peephole, to make sure he did not dish out too much ice cream to a customer at the soda fountain, or even worse, sample the ice cream himself.

Sam was a quiet man, according to another family member. He didn’t talk much, and in the evenings would just go sit in the sunroom of the house on Alamo, read his paper and smoke a cigar. So maybe he was more a quiet man, and people just took that silence as curmudgeonly?

Gerard William "G.W." Helbling in his garden in St. Louis, Missouri. Date unknown, likely 1920s.
Gerard William “G.W.” Helbling in his garden in St. Louis, Missouri. Date unknown, likely 1920s.

Gerard William “G. W.” Helbling (1882-1971) did not have the benefit of much formal education, but he was a brilliant man. That brilliance could drive some people crazy, though, like one of his daughters. She said he always had a criticism for a movie, an article, or whatever. He would explain how it could not really happen, why it wasn’t true, the facts that were missing, or how it was biased. He was most likely right, as he was a prodigious reader and knowledgeable about a whole lot of things. He would often guess what would happen next, and spoil the plot line.

He could be a very loving man, however, and the love he showed for his dear wife, Anna May (Beerbower) Helbling, was the kind of love women (ok, men too) dream about.

So maybe we can’t officially call him a curmudgeon? Maybe just a part-time curmudgeon, who was usually right.

Hannah Melissa Benjamin with her great-grandson, Edward A. McMurray, Jr., about 1926.
Hannah Melissa Benjamin with her great-grandson, Edward A. McMurray, Jr., about 1926.

We don’t really know enough about Hannah Melissa “Malissa” (Benjamin) McMurray (1854-1932) to officially proclaim her a curmudgeon. We don’t know that she was a complainer- her life was filled with work on the farm until her mid-fifties, and raising five children. She must have been a special woman to have endured it all, and some complaints, if any, should be excused.

But asking a descendant to identify the above picture was interesting. There was no name, and the informant was the young great-grandson pictured with Hannah Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray above. At first he did not recognize her through the fading lenses and memories of the 70+ years that had passed since that picture was taken. Then he looked up, in a somewhat taken aback fashion, when asked if it could be Hannah Melissa (Benjamin) McMurray. (Possibilities had been narrowed time-wise.) “Yes,” he replied. “She was VERY stern.” He was one who always gave people the benefit of the doubt, but apparently she curbed the enthusiasm of a toddler quite significantly, and he remembered it deeply when asked so many years later. He wouldn’t elaborate on whether that sternness was due to her complaining or just silently expecting him to toe the line; so maybe she was a pseudo-curmudgeon.

Headstone of Jonathan Benjamin (1738-1841) in Old Colony Burial Ground, Granville, Licking County, Ohio, with permission of photographer.
Headstone of Jonathan Benjamin (1738-1841) in Old Colony Burial Ground, Granville, Licking County, Ohio, with kind permission of photographer.

Jonathan Benjamin (1739-1841) was the third-great grandfather of Malissa (Benjamin) McMurray. Maybe Malissa got some of his ‘stern’ DNA.

The 1881 tome (816 pages!) compiled by N. N. Hill, Jr. called “History of Licking County, O., Its Past and PresentContaining a Condensed, Comprehensive History of Ohio, Including an Outline History of the Northwest, a Complete History of Licking County … a History of Its Soldiers in the Late War … Biographies and Histories of Pioneer Families, [and it goes on…]” tells Jonathan’s story the best:

Jonathan Benjamin was in some respects an extraordinary man. He was a person of rather coarse features, but of strong muscular powers, with a still stronger will. He was very determined in all his undertakings, and of an unforgiving temperament. Having passed through the French and Indian wars, and through the war of the Revolution, and having suffered much and long by Indian depredations, both in the loss of friends and property, the finer feelings of his nature had become blunted to such an extent that he seemed to have lost most of his sympathy for his fellow man. Still he was a man of religious habits, and of good morals, but was generally considered to be a man that was naturally morose and unsociable, and was not known through life to have expressed his forgiveness of the Indian race…. Mrs. Benjamin possessed social qualities that in great measure compensated for lack of them in her husband.”

Jonathan had lived through Indian wars in New York (and/or New Jersey), Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, as well as in Licking and Fairfield Counties, Ohio. He witnessed his family members killed or carried off in Indian raids, and he had fought in military battles from at least the age of fourteen. He lived to be 102 years, 10 months, and 12 days old, and his demeanor never mellowed. His curmudgeonly attitude was likely fueled by the sorrows and hardships he had experienced in his long life. We can put on our psychiatrist hats and say maybe he was covering up the pain. Or maybe he was a quintessential curmudgeon?

It is hard to actually know if these folks were truly curmudgeons or not, as we only have a part of the story. They all had hard lives, so I do apologize to them if they were not curmudgeonly just for the sake of curmudgeon-ness.

So, who will you honor today on “Curmudgeon Day”??

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. W. C. Fields image via Warehouse 13 Wiki at http://warehouse13.wikia.com/wiki/File:W-C-Fields.jpg. CC-BY-SA license.
  2. Shakespearean insults from http://www.nosweatshakespeare.com/resources/shakespeare-insults/
  3. The “remainder biscuit after voyage” refers to the saltwater-soaked, then dried out, wormy biscuits that are all that is left for sailors and travelers to eat at the end of a very long voyage on board ship.
  4. Jon Winokur wrote The Portable Curmudgeon and a variety of sequels which are just delightful if you enjoy this genre of humor and quotations.
  5.  Previous posts about Sam Lee include:
    http://heritageramblings.net/2014/10/05/sundays-obituary-samuel-j-lee/
    http://heritageramblings.net/2013/12/13/five-family-photos-for-friday-samuel-j-lee-of-st-louis-missouri/
    http://heritageramblings.net/2013/12/19/those-places-thursday-samuel-j-lee-and-son-pharmacy-st-louis-missouri/
    http://heritageramblings.net/2014/10/02/those-places-thursday-aiken-family-homes/
    http://heritageramblings.net/2014/07/02/wordless-wednesday-lee-family-clock/
  6. History of Licking County, O., Its Past and PresentContaining a Condensed, Comprehensive History of Ohio, Including an Outline History of the Northwest, a Complete History of Licking County … a History of Its Soldiers in the Late War … Biographies and Histories of Pioneer Families, Etc., compiled by N. N. Hill, A. A. Graham & Co., 1881 may be found at  https://books.google.com/books?id=_Xw8AAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false. Jonathan Benjamin bio on p. 602.
  7. Jonathan Benjamin obituary: “A Veteran”in  Hazzards US Commercial Statistical Register, Vol. 5, 1841/2, page 335, public domain. Heath Trust- http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044097928162;view=1up;seq=353

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

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 2013-2015 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 of our blog material.

Labor Day: Celebrating the Labors of Our Ancestors

First Labor Day Parade in the US, 5 Sep 1882 in New York City. Via Wikimedia.
First Labor Day Parade in the US, 5 Sep 1882 in New York City. Via Wikimedia. (Click to enlarge.)

 

Labor Day officially became a federal holiday in the United States in 1894. “The Gilded Age” included the rise of big business, like the railroads and oil companies, but laborers fought- sometimes literally- for their rights in the workplace. Grover Cleveland signed the law to honor the work and contributions, both economic and for society, of the American laborer. Celebrated on the first Monday in September, ironically the holiday was a concession to appease the American worker after the government tried to break up a railroad strike but failed.

The Labor Day weekend is a good time to think about our ancestors and the work they did to help move our country and their own family forward.

Jefferson Springsteen was a mail carrier through the wilds of early Indiana, traveling for miles on horseback through spring freshets (full or flooding streams from snow melt), forest, and Indian villages. Samuel T. Beerbower, who would be a some-number-great uncle depending on your generation, was the Postmaster in Marion, Ohio, for many years. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Edward B. Payne, circa 1874. Image courtesy of Second Congregational Church, Wakeman, Ohio.
Edward B. Payne, Pastor, circa 1874. Image courtesy of Second Congregational Church, Wakeman, Ohio.

Bad weather, gloom of night, ocean crossings in the mid 1800s, and the threat of disease or injury did not stay our minister, deacon, and missionary ancestors from their appointed rounds either- especially since the felt they were appointed by a higher power. We have quite a number of very spiritual men in the family. Henry Horn became a Methodist circuit rider after coming to America as a Hessian soldier, being captured by George Washington’s troops in Trenton, NJ, then taking an Oath of Allegiance to the United States, and serving in the Revolutionary Army. The family migrated from Virginia to the wilds of western Pennsylvania sometime between 1782 and 1786. A story is told of how he was riding home from a church meeting in the snow. The drifts piled up to the body of the horse, and they could barely proceed on, but Henry did, and was able to preach another day. He founded a church Pleasantville, Bedford Co., Pennsylvania that still stands, and has a congregation, even today. Edward B. Payne and his father, Joseph H. Payne, Kingsley A. Burnell and his brother Thomas Scott Burnell were all ministers, some with formal schooling, some without. Edward B. Payne gave up a lucrative pastorate because he thought the church members were wealthy and educated enough that they did not need him. He moved to a poor church in an industrial town, where he was needed much more, however, he may have acquired his tuberculosis there. He also risked his life, and that of his family, by sheltering a woman from the domestic violence of her husband, and he testified on her behalf.

Abraham Green was one of the best tailors in St. Louis, Missouri in the early 1900s, and many in the Broida family, such as John Broida and his son Phillip Broida, plus Phillip’s daughter Gertrude Broida Cooper, worked in the fine clothing industry.

Edgar Springsteen worked for the railroad, and was often gone from the family. Eleazer John “E.J.” Beerbower worked for the railroads making upholstered cars- he had been a buggy finisher previously, both highly skilled jobs.

Sheet music cover for "Bless Your Ever Loving Little Heart," from "The Slim Princess."
Sheet music cover for “Bless Your Ever Loving Little Heart,” from “The Slim Princess.” (Click to enlarge.)

The theater called a number of our collateral kin (not direct lines, but siblings to one of our ancestors): Max Broida was in vaudeville, and known in films as “Buster Brodie.” Elsie Janis, born Elsie Beerbower, was a comedienne, singer, child star in vaudeville, “Sweetheart of the A.E.F” as she entertained the troops overseas in World War I, and then she went on to write for films. Max Broida also did a stint in the circus, as did Jefferson Springsteen, who ran away from home as “a very small boy” to join the circus (per his obituary).

Collateral Lee family from Irthlingborough, England, included shoemakers, as that was the specialty of the town. They brought those skills to Illinois, and some of those tools have been handed down in the family- strange, unknown tools in an inherited tool chest turned out to be over 100 years old!

Will McMurray and his wife Lynette Payne McMurray owned a grocery store in Newton, Iowa. Ella V. Daniels Roberts sold eggs from her chickens, the butter she made from the cows she milked, and her delicious pies at the McMurray store. Franz Xavier Helbling and some of his brothers and sons were butchers in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, and had their own stores.

Some of our ancestors kept hotels or taverns. Joseph Parsons (a Burnell ancestor) was issued a license to operate an ‘ordinary’ or “house of entertainment” in 1661 in Massachusetts, and Samuel Lenton Lee was listed as “Keeps hotel” and later as a saloon keeper in US Federal censuses. Jefferson Springsteen had a restaurant at the famous Fulton Market in Brooklyn, NY in the late 1840s.

From left: Edgar B. Helbling, (Anna) "May" Helbling, Vi Helbling, and Gerard William Helbling, on Flag Day 1914.
From left: Edgar B. Helbling, (Anna) “May” Helbling, Vi Helbling, and Gerard William Helbling, on Flag Day 1914. Note ‘Undertaker’ sign- yes, it was all done in his home. (Click to enlarge.)

Many of our family had multiple jobs. William Gerard Helbling (AKA Gerard William Helbling or “G.W.”) listed himself as working for a theater company, was an artist, then an undertaker, and finally a sign painter. George H. Alexander was artistic as well- he created paintings but also worked as a lighting designer to pay the bills.

Sometimes health problems forced a job change. Edward B. Payne was a Union soldier, librarian, and then a pastor until he was about 44 when his respiratory problems from tuberculosis forced him to resign the pulpit. For the rest of his life he did a little preaching, lecturing, and writing. He also became an editor for a number of publications including, “The Overland Monthly,” where he handed money over from his own pocket (per family story) to pay the young writer Jack London for his first published story. Edward B. Payne even founded a Utopian colony called Altruria in California! He and his second wife, Ninetta Wiley Eames Payne, later owned and conducted adult ‘summer camps’ that were intellectual as well as healthy physically while camping in the wild and wonderful northern California outdoors.

Other times, health problems- those of other people- are what gave our ancestors jobs:  Edward A. McMurray and his brother Herbert C. McMurray were both physicians, as was John H. O’Brien (a Helbling ancestor), who graduated from medical school in Dublin, Ireland, and came to America in 1832. He settled in western Pennsylvania, still wild and in the midst of a cholera epidemic that was also sweeping the nation; he had his work cut out for him. (It appears he did not get the same respect as other doctors because he was Irish, and this was pre-potato famine.) Lloyd Eugene “Gene” Lee and his father Samuel J. Lee owned a drugstore in St. Louis, as did Gene’s brother-in-law, Claude Aiken. Edith Roberts McMurray Luck worked as a nurse since she received a degree in biology in 1923.

We have had many soldiers who have helped protect our freedom, and we will honor some of those persons on Veterans Day.

We cannot forget the farmers, but they are too numerous to name them all! Even an urban family often had a large garden to supplement purchased groceries, but those who farmed on a larger scale included George Anthony Roberts, Robert Woodson Daniel, David Huston Hemphill, Amos Thomas, etc., etc. We even have a pecan farmer in the Lee family- William Hanford Aiken, in Waltham County, Mississippi, in the 1930s-40s.

Lynette Payne, December 1909, wearing a purple and lavender silk dress.
Lynette Payne, December 1909, wearing a purple and lavender silk dress. (Click to enlarge.)

We must also, “Remember the ladies” as Abigail Adams entreated her husband John Adams as he helped form our new nation. He/they did not, so 51% of the population-women- were not considered citizens except through their fathers or husbands. Many of these women, such as Lynette Payne McMurray, labored to get women the right to vote, equal pay, etc. (Lynette ‘walked the talk’ too- she was the first woman to ride a bicycle in Newton, Iowa! Not so easy when one thinks about the clothing involved.) Some men, like her father, Edward B. Payne, put their energy into the women’s suffrage movement as well. Many of our ancestors worked for the abolition movement too, including the Payne and Burnell families.

A woman worked beside her husband in many families, although she would get little credit for it. Who cooked the meals and cleaned the rooms for the Lee and Parsons innkeepers? Likely their wives, who also had to keep their own home clean, laundry washed, manage a garden and often livestock- many families kept chickens even if they didn’t have a farm. They raised and educated their many children too, sometimes 13 or more. Oh yes, let’s not forget that women truly ‘labored’ to bring all those children into the world that they had made from scratch. (Building a human from just two cells makes building a barn seem somewhat less impressive, doesn’t it?) Some of them even died from that labor.

June 1942- Claude Frank Aiken and his wife Mildred Paul in their drugstore.
June 1942- Claude Frank Aiken and his wife Mildred Paul Aiken in their drugstore in St. Louis, Missouri.

Working alongside one’s husband could be frightening due to the dangers of the job. A noise in the Aiken family drugstore in St. Louis, Missouri in 1936 awoke Claude and Mildred Aiken since they lived in the back of the store. Claude look a gun and went into the store while Mildred called the police. Claude fired the gun high to frighten the intruder- Mildred must have been very scared if she was in the back, wondering who had fired the shot and if her husband was still alive. Thankfully he was, and the police were able to arrest the thief, who wanted to steal money to pay a lawyer to defend him in his three previous arrests for armed burglary and assault.

 

We applaud all of our ancestors who worked hard to support their family. Their work helped to make the US the largest economic power in the world, and a place immigrants would come to achieve their ‘American dream.’ We hope our generation, and the next, can labor to keep our country prosperous and strong.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. There are too many folks listed here to add references, but using the search box on the blog page can get you to any of the stories that have been posted about many of these persons. Of course, there is always more to come, so stay tuned!

 

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