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Farming Friday: The Murrell Farm in 1850s Virginia

"Tippecanoe Waltz" sheet music. Cornell University Collection of Political Americana, with kind permission of Cornell University Library; no restrictions.
“Tippecanoe Waltz” sheet music, 1840. Cornell University Collection of Political Americana, with kind permission of Cornell University Library; no restrictions. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree)

Since farming has been such an important part of the American economy, especially for most of our ancestors, we are starting a new type of post called, “Farming Friday,” that will tell us a bit more about the places so many of our ancestors called “home.”

Farms varied greatly, and that plot of land wasn’t just “home” either. It was the family’s livelihood and place of business, whether that meant tilling the soil or churning butter and manufacturing cheese to sell to neighbors or in town. It was a place for social activity- barn raisings come to mind, but of course, there was all sorts of visiting between farms on an individual and small group basis, in addition to parties and special events like weddings. Even more special events took place on the farm too- quite a lot of our ancestors were born right in the bed they probably were conceived in, and may have later inherited for the circle to continue with their children.

Many of our ancestors held ‘unimproved land’ that most likely was wooded; the wood from these trees was an energy source for the fireplace for warmth, the cookstove for food, and even a place to hunt to provide meat to be cooked on that wood-fired stove or even earlier, in the fireplace. The woods were also a fun place for farm kids to hang out away from the prying eyes of adults, climb trees, and play tag. There was likely a bit of courting that went on in the woods, too, and maybe even a stolen kiss.

Agricultural schedules were taken along with the population census in the years 1850-1880, plus some states conducted an 1885 census that also enumerated farmers and their acreage, livestock, and products. Not all of these can be found today, as with most records, but we will tell the story of our family’s farms as we can with those schedules that have survived. Tax records and deeds also sometimes tell the story of a farm, so we will share those as well.

We have already told the story of Robert Woodson Daniel (1843-1922) and his wife Margaret Ann Hemphill (1839-1915) in an earlier post- see Those Places Thursday: Robert Woodson Daniel’s Iowa Farm in 1879. Today we will start our official new topic with the farm of Wiley Anderson Murrell (1806-1885) and his wife Mary Magdalen Hontz (1806-1887). The Daniel, Murrell, and Roberts families lived in Warren County, Illinois, at the same time, and we know that they knew each other. They may have migrated together, or encouraged each other to move after one family had made the trek to Jasper County, Iowa. The Murrells married into the Roberts family, as did the next generation of Daniels and Roberts.

If we look at the US Federal Population Schedule for 1850, it tells us that Wiley, age 41, and Mary, age 44 (ages were not always correct, whether on purpose or just ‘misremembered’), were living on their farm in District 8, Botetourt County, Virginia. Their daughter Elizabeth Ann Murrell (the maternal grandmother of our Edith (Roberts) [McMurray] Luck) was 15 and the oldest. She was probably often in charge of her brother John Henry Murrell, 13, William Murrell, age 9, James E. Murrell who was 8, and little Ann Elisy Murrell, then just 5. Wiley was listed as a farmer, but it was also noted that he could not read nor write. The whole family was born in Virginia, and none attended school within the year per the 1850 US Federal Census.

1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 1. Ancestry.com
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 1. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 2. Ancestry.com
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 2. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)

Although a small farm, the whole family would have been needed to make their living from it. The farm schedule was completed on 7 October 1850, and indicated that the Murrells had 45 acres of improved land to farm, and 85 acres unimproved. The entire cash value of the farm was $800- it was one of the smallest in the area. The farm implements and machinery were worth about $75- even adjusting for inflation, today’s farmers would scoff. Wiley’s implements and machinery would have be valued at about $2,240 in today’s money, which might not even buy a tire for one of the big tractors or combines used today.

Livestock was a mainstay on our ancestor’s farms- they did not have the ‘luxury’ of factory farming and concentrating on just one species of animal or one type of grain. They had to supply much of what the family needed, plus have a little surplus to sell for the necessities that they could not make on their own, such as cloth or sugar. So Wiley and Mary had 2 horses- likely draft horses for pulling a plow and a buggy or wagon; 1 ‘milch’ cow for making butter (the ladies manufactured at least 50 pounds) plus milk for baking and drinking. They also had 2 other types of cattle, possibly for beef. They did not list any oxen, which is why we think the horses would have been the sturdier work horses.

The Murrells also had 7 sheep, and they produced 17 pounds of wool in the previous 12 months. Mary and Elizabeth may have spent some of their evenings spinning the wool into yarn. They might have had their own loom, or provided the yarn to a neighbor who did have one, and then the neighbor would make the cloth and keep some of the yarn for herself in payment. Instead, they could have just sold the wool outright.

The total value of “home manufactures” was $30 per the 1850 Agricultural Schedule.

1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 3. Ancestry.com
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 3. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 4. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)
1850 Agriculture Schedule for Wiley A. Murrell, part 4. Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)

Pork has always been a staple in the American diet as pigs reproduce and grow quickly and without much fuss- one can even let them loose in the unimproved parts of the property to graze on acorns, etc., and fatten up. “Slopping the pigs” meant all the leftovers from mealtime, which some of us today would compost, went into a bucket and the contents were thrown out in the pig pen, to be biologically recycled into tasty bacon and ham. The Murrells owned 7 swine in October of 1850. The total value of all their livestock was about $165. They slaughtered animals worth $48 the previous year, and those may have been for home consumption and/or sale in town.

Mary and Elizabeth also probably had chickens and a large home garden with vegetables, herbs, and maybe some fruit trees. Of course, this was a part of “women’s work” so would not have been listed on the Agricultural Schedule. It probably is what helped keep the family alive, however, and women often sold eggs, cakes, etc. in town for a little extra money for the family.

Of course, one has to feed the livestock, and provide grain for the family, a little extra to pay the miller, and hopefully have some good seed for the next year. To that end, the Murrells harvested 91 bushels of wheat, 300 bushels of ‘Indian corn,’ and 33 bushels of oats, which would have been used as feed. If the family was of Scots-Irish descent (which we do not yet know), they may have also made porridge from some of the oats for many of their meals.

The Murrells also produced 200 pounds of flax, which was a fiber used to make linen, cording, etc. Linen was used as sheets and clothing until cotton became more available and less expensive. Wiley and family also produced 1 bushel of flaxseed, which could have been pressed for use as an oil and lubricant, or saved or sold as seed for the next year’s crop.

 

Wow, we have time-travelled through a farm year with Wiley and Mary Murrell in Botetourt County, Virginia. Looking at the population census and the agriculture schedule for the same year gives us great insight into what life was like for the family.

I am tired just writing about it. They must have quickly fallen asleep each night after such hard work, day after day. Gives one a new respect for our forebears, and makes one realize that the “good ole days”  were maybe not that great after all.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. See also Robert Woodson Daniel  http://heritageramblings.net/2015/04/30/those-places-thursday-robert-woodson-daniels-iowa-farm-in-1879
  2. 1850 Population schedule for Wiley A. Murrell & family. Census Place: District 8, Botetourt, Virginia; Roll: M432_936; Page: 156; Image: 547. 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, online publication – Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data – United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1850. M432.
  3. 1850 Non-Population schedule for Wiley A. Murrell & family. Census Year: 1850; Census Place: District 8, Botetourt, Virginia, “Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880,” Ancestry.com online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
  4. Inflation calculator- http://www.in2013dollars.com (but it does go to 2016).
    5. This post will be published on Murrell Family Genealogy: A One-Name Study blog under another name.

 

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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.

Talented Tuesday: George Lucas Roberts

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Lloyd Roberts Family Photo Collection
George Lucas Roberts , from the Lloyd Roberts Family Photo Album.
George Lucas Roberts , from the Lloyd Roberts Family Photo Album. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree)

Previous posts have detailed the recently “found” family line of William Roberts (1827-1891) and Sarah (Christie) Roberts (1829-1912). William Roberts was a son of John S. Roberts and Jane Saylor/Salyers, who were also the parents of “our” John S. Roberts (1832-1922). (He was the grandfather of Edith (Roberts) [McMurray] Luck.) So the children of those two brothers would be cousins, and then depending on generation, we would add # of times ‘removed’ to find current relationships. Let’s just make it easy, as folks of that day would have, and call them all “cousin.”

Our cousin George Lucas Roberts was the second of the three sons of William and Sarah Roberts. The boys all grew up on the family farm in Decatur County, Indiana. George was born on 19 November 1860, near Adams in Decatur County, Indiana, when his older brother John W. Roberts was almost 12 years old. George’s younger brother, Isaac Henry Roberts, was born about 2-1/2 years later, so George would have had someone nearer to his age to play with when they were not out doing farm chores.

William Roberts, while a farmer after George was born, had taught school in his early years, and education was thus probably very important to the family. George attended the common rural schools and private schools, and he became a teacher when just 18 years old- even before he had completed high school. He taught in a one-room rural schoolhouse in Decatur County, Indiana, then attended Indiana University’s College of Liberal Arts, receiving a bachelor of arts degree; he was 24 years old. George went back to Greensburg to teach, and moved up to principal of the Greensburg High School for ten years- George was very interested in the educational psychology of adolescents.  He then became Superintendent of the Greensburg city schools, on 1 January 1898. He was good at his job and moved up to become the Superintendent of Schools in the Indiana towns of Frankfort (1901-1903), and later Muncie.

George L. Roberts, Superintendent, Muncie High School, Education in Indiana: An Outline of the Growth of the Common School System, page 385
George L. Roberts, Superintendent 1903-1904, Muncie High School, Education in Indiana: An Outline of the Growth of the Common School System, page 385
George L. Roberts, Superintendent, Muncie High School, Education in Indiana: An Outline of the Growth of the Common School System, page 386.
Common Indiana high school courses and statistics. George L. Roberts, Superintendent, Muncie High School, Education in Indiana: An Outline of the Growth of the Common School System, page 386.

[Note: When looking at the number of graduates of high school, remember that a large proportion of the boys went into farming and were needed on the farm, so often did not attend school for as much time during the year as the girls. The girls would be needed on the farm as well at certain times of year, such as when planting or harvesting, as they had to help feed large crews of workers. So it was hard to make schooling a priority, and college was not needed by most at that time.]

In the meantime, while moving up the educational ladder, George had married Olive “Ollie” C. Lynch on 19 November 1884. They had two children: Paul Lynch Roberts, born in 1886, and Miriam Roberts, born 1891.

George was not an idle teacher during the summer months- instead he switched sides of the desk and became a student. Clark University and Columbia University programs on educational psychology occupied the time and his mind, and he taught botany as part of his practical work. His diligent work earned him a Master’s Degree in Education from Columbia’s Teacher College, and a Master’s of Art from Columbia in 1910. Despite being the Dean of Purdue University’s Department of Education, George L. Roberts never earned a Ph.D.

George’s work in the public schools of Indiana totaled 27 years.

At that time, over 20% of the teachers in Indiana did not hold a college degree, had no supervised training in the classroom, and students were not adequately prepared for college, which few even entered. In 1908, Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, opened their education department with a professorship of industrial education, which was described as “That area of education between manual training and college engineering.” George L. Roberts was the man for the job.

George was hired by Purdue as a professor of Industrial Education in 1908, and for six years, George was the department. Not until 1914 did Purdue add more teachers, in order to train even more teachers.

George was described as a “student of the science of education.” Not only was he an excellent organizer and administrator of the new department, but he taught five classes as well. (His classes included those dealing with hog cholera and contagious diseases that caused hogs to abort their offspring. Combining agriculture and science into practical education was one of his strengths.)

Students loved him- they called him, “Daddy” Roberts.

George Lucas Roberts, staff photo in The Educator-Journal, Vol. 10, No. 10, no page no., June 1910 issue.
George Lucas Roberts, staff photo in “The Educator-Journal,” Vol. 10, No. 10, no page no., June 1910 issue.

A history of Purdue University gives us a glimpse into the personality of George L. Roberts:

“… he carried off his academic role with aplomb and confidence. More than six feet tall, he parted his thick, silvery hair in the middle, wore pince-nez glasses, and was always impeccably dressed.”

George was a bit formal, sometimes reserved and soft-spoken, but he could be stern and deliberate when needed. He was considered a pleasant and kind man by all who knew him. The history goes on to say that George was so active in outside professional activities that his presence gave Purdue an excellent reputation in educational psychology and training of teachers from the beginning of the department in 1908.

Although he was the Dean of the College of Education at Purdue University, George did not publish many papers- this seems appropriate since he was more of a ‘hands-on’ teacher with industrial arts. As early as 26 April 1898 he presented a paper at the first meeting of the newly-formed Indiana Audubon Society on “Bird Study in the Schools.” He was a charter member of the society- #32.

Occasional articles to the Indiana Educational Journal and Purdue catalog material constituted most of his writing for publication. At Purdue, he taught five subjects, supervised student teaching, and rendered assistance to the new Department of Agricultural Extension. This cooperation with Agricultural Extension was the means he used to meet the demand for vocational instruction in agriculture and home economics. Through this effort, Purdue’s School of Agriculture began, in 1914, to train teachers in vocational agriculture and vocational home economics for the public schools.

Here are a number of items to add to the timeline of George Lucas Roberts:

1911, George L. Roberts, A.M., Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana

On 27 September 1913, George L. Roberts participated in the Northwest Indiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church concerning the church’s work at  Purdue University. He was a prominent member in his local church, and was a member of the board of stewards. He also acted as Superintendent of the Sabbath School.

1914-15, George L. Roberts, A.M., Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana. Also listed as a Summer School Director in La Fayette, Indiana (home of Purdue University) for “Summer School for Teachers of Agriculture, Home Economics, and Manual Training to be held June 12 to July 24. George was involved with these institutes for at least 5 years. During these sessions, teachers were trained in “work and methods of teaching,” in hope of improving the quality of teachers throughout the state. George’s specialty was the science work.

1915, George L. Roberts, A.M., Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana; also listed under American Educational Associations:

1915- Educational Associations- George L. Roberts.
1915- Educational Associations- George L. Roberts.
 George wrote a section for “The Educator-Journal” on teaching methods, and in November of 1915 became the editor.
"The Educator-Journal," George L. Roberts, Editor, November 1915.
“The Educator-Journal,” George L. Roberts, Editor, November 1915.

In 1917, George L. Roberts became the President of the Indiana State Teachers Association. He had been very active in the Association for many years, including a member of the Executive Committee, and at one point he was President of the Mathematical Section.

September, 1917 was when one of the few published articles by George appeared in print. It was a review in “The School Review,” and he was quite qualified to review the book:

Review of "The Rural School from Within." In "The School Review, Vol. 25, No. 7, Page 529.
Review of “The Rural School from Within.” In “The School Review, Vol. 25, No. 7, Page 529.

1919- Dean of Purdue University, Department of Education, Lafayette [Indiana]

Sarah (Christie) Roberts, George’s mother, was living with the family in 1900. She passed away in 1912, and then sadly, George and Ollie’s son Paul died on 2 October 1918. He had been in college in 1910, and had also registered for the World War I draft, stating he was married and his occupation was working on an electric vehicle. He was living in Philadelphia but apparently died in New York at the age of 31. We have not been able to determine exactly what happened, but might he perhaps been a victim of the 1917-1918 influenza outbreak? (Ordering the death certificate from New York would give the answer.)

George and his wife Ollie had 11 more years together, until she passed away on 2 April 1929; they had been married 45 years. Their daughter Miriam Roberts Smiley and her two children came to live with him while he was still working at Purdue University, and they were enumerated there in the 1930 US Federal Census. George still lived in the Lafayette, Indiana area in 1935, but by the 1940 US Federal Census he was living in  Mission, Johnson, Kansas, with his daughter Miriam, her husband and two children. George had retired.

Both Miriam and her husband had completed four years of college- he was superintendent of a manufacturing company, so fit well into the family with his experience in industrial arts. George’s granddaughter had already completed her third year of college by 1940, and his grandson was in high school. Definitely a well educated family, carrying on the traditions through four generations, starting with George’s father, William Roberts, who taught school.

George passed away one year later, on 26 February 1941, in Kansas City, Clay County, Missouri, where the family had moved. The Rev. Williams of Lafayette, Indiana (home of Purdue) conducted the memorial service, and said George was:

“an overflowing soul that fed, encouraged, inspired and built character in the lives of his students. So it was to his friends and collaborators in society, school and church. He was a life crowned with great achievements.”

George, his wife Olive C. (Lynch) Roberts, his two children Paul L. Roberts and Miriam (Roberts) Smiley, and George’s mother, Sarah (Christie) Roberts, are all buried in South Park Cemetery in Greensburg, Decatur, Indiana.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Special thanks to Jon Roberts for the information he shared and his excellent biography of George L. Roberts on Find A Grave- we have used one paragraph directly. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=134894771&ref=acom
  2. The Roberts family valued education in other lines as well- George Anthony Roberts sent his daughter, Edith (Roberts) [McMurray] Luck to the University of Iowa. (Her brother was not interested in college and preferred to work on the farm, so his father bought him a herd of cattle instead.) Edith graduated with a degree in biology in 1923- fairly unusual for a woman back then.
  3. A genealogical and biographical record of Decatur County, Indiana; compendium of national biographyby Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1900. “George L. Roberts” entry, pages 253-254. https://archive.org/stream/genealogicalbiog02lewi#page/252/mode/2up
  4. Education in Indiana: An Outline of the Growth of the Common School System, Together with Statements Relating to the Condition of Secondary and Higher Education in the State and a Brief History of the Educational Exhibit. Prepared for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Held at Saint Louis, May 1 to Nov. 30, 1904, by Indiana Dept. of Public Instruction, Fassett Allen Cotton, 1904, pages 298, 385. https://books.google.com/books?id=NqwAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA385&lpg=PA385&dq=%22George+L.+roberts%22+education&source=bl&ots=I73pBlOB6Q&sig=orTvFptpHDHD85YkSr29UTEcIdQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjQsYeElILMAhWKcT4KHXiHB_4Q6AEILzAG#v=onepage&q=%22George%20L.%20roberts%22%20education&f=false

  5. Education Report, 1911- Professors of Pedagogy and Heads of Departments of Pedagogy in Universities and Colleges, in

    Report of the Commissioner of Education [with Accompanying Papers]., Volume 1, United States. Bureau of Education, page 654. US Government Printing Office, 1912.
    https://books.google.com/books?id=-1Q6AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA654&lpg=PA654&dq=%22George+L.+roberts%22+education&source=bl&ots=RgK2iJr5Qv&sig=nIYUkYTEjiIC3VZPEIgoSMCPkko&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj8-vyglILMAhUMdD4KHRxMD_o4ChDoAQgdMAE#v=onepage&q=%22George%20L.%20roberts%22%20education&f=false

  6. Professors of Pedagogy and Heads of Departments of Pedagogy in Universities and Colleges, in Education for the Home: Introductory survey ; Equipment for household arts, Benjamin Richard Andrews, US Government Printing Office, 1915, page 84, 118. https://books.google.com/books?id=72UAAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA3-PA84&lpg=RA3-PA84&dq=%22George+L.+roberts%22+education&source=bl&ots=ywjTYB7Oue&sig=0U9YofQVMW3uBqh48yPCDGh-ZmU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjQsYeElILMAhWKcT4KHXiHB_4Q6AEINzAJ#v=onepage&q=%22George%20L.%20roberts%22%20education&f=false

  7. Problems of Vocational Education in GermanyWith Special Application to Conditions in the United States, Issues 33-43, pages 81, 177, George Edmund Myers, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1915. https://books.google.com/books?id=oWcAAAAAYAAJ&dq=%22George+L.+roberts%22+education&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  8. Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA), “Past Presidents of the Indiana State Teachers Association 1854-Present.” https://ista-in.org/your-ista, accessed 04/09/2016.
  9. Patterson’s American Educational Directory, Volume 16, American Educational Company, 1919, page 627. https://books.google.com/books?id=AmRAAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA627&lpg=PA627&dq=%22George+L.+roberts%22+education&source=bl&ots=1mEJA9_KwE&sig=nmHsWcwaQFvAt-kyXZRTjDdBf2s&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjQsYeElILMAhWKcT4KHXiHB_4Q6AEIKDAD#v=onepage&q=%22George%20L.%20roberts%22%20education&f=false

  10. The Educator-Journal, Vol. 10, No. 10, no page (Google p329), June 1910, Educator-Journal Company, 1910. https://books.google.com/books?id=0E_PHPTZwk8C&dq=educator-journal+volume+10+no+10&q=george+l.+roberts#v=snippet&q=george%20l.%20roberts&f=false

  11. The Educator-Journal, Vol. 15, page 504, Educator-Journal Company, 1914.
  12. Engineering Technology Teacher Training-http://www.education.purdue.edu/dean/PCC/attachments/2008-01-10/ETTE%20Program%204%20PCC%201-10-08%20(2).pdf
  13. Roberts, George L. (1914-) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections- http://www4.lib.purdue.edu/archon/?p=creators/creator&id=420
  14. A Century and BeyondThe History of Purdue University, by Robert W. Topping, Purdue University Press, 1988. pp. 172-3.

  15. History of agricultural education of less than college grade in the United Statesa cooperative project of workers in vocational education in agricultural and in related fields, Federal Security Agency, 1942, p.132.

  16. Minutes of the Northwest Indiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, GoogleBooks, p155-156. https://books.google.com/books?id=hG0zAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA155&lpg=RA1-PA155&dq=%22george+l+roberts%22+purdue+education&source=bl&ots=sW1-0hIG7p&sig=Egm9s6kWY4yfEkOC_lmAiN6MTGc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj31q6xp4fMAhWEpR4KHRjBB0IQ6AEINzAI#v=onepage&q=%22george%20l%20roberts%22%20purdue%20education&f=false
  17. The Grand Old Man of Purdue University and Indiana AgricultureA Biography of William Carroll Latta, Purdue University Press, 2005, page 242.

  18. Annual report of the Office of Experiment Stations for the year ended June 30, 1908, U.S. Government Printing Office, via GoogleBooks. https://books.google.com/books?id=i5lcT1NE5ksC&dq=%22george+l+roberts%22+purdue+education&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  19. “History of the Indiana Audubon Society 1898-1998” by Charles E. Keller, Indiana Audubon Society, 1997, np. http://www.indianaaudubon.org/portals/0/documents/ias_history.pdf
  20. “Review of “The Rural School from Within” by George L. Roberts in “The School Review, Vol. 25, No. 7, Page 529.
  21. Some excerpts above are included on the Find A Grave memorial for George, written by Jon Roberts. Find A Grave Memorial# 134894771.

 

 

 

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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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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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Typewriters on Tuesday- Roberts, Daniel(s), Murrell Family History

Roberts-Murrell Family History, 1946. Part 1 of 3.
Roberts-Murrell Family History, 1946. Part 1 of 3. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Daniel Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Apparently today, 23 June, is the anniversary of the first typewriter patent. Like all inventions, it would have stood on the work of many before, including an early machine that impressed letters into paper, invented in 1575 by an Italian printmaker.

It is hard to imagine life with only printing presses and the pen- the typewriter made it possible for the average person to easily communicate in a legible fashion. My grandmother had terrible handwriting, so her typewritten letters, with all their mistakes and correction fluid/tape, and the carbon copies, are invaluable. They are especially important since cursive writing is no longer being taught in school, and younger generations cannot really read it sometimes, much less write it.

How many family histories were typewritten, like the above? Some were bound into books or booklets, or just fastened with a staple as the Roberts-Murrell family history in this post. The folks listed in this history are at least 3 generations ago, so some of this information might be lost but for the painstakingly typewritten treasures some of our families are lucky to have today.

My grandmother, her contemporaries, and their ancestors would be so amazed at the leap in communication with today’s word processors and OCR technology.

Roberts-Murrell Family History, 1946. Part 2 of 3.
Roberts-Murrell Family History, 1946. Part 2 of 3. (Click to enlarge.)

The images in this post are a report for the 1946 family reunion of the Roberts family in Jasper County, Iowa. I received it back in the late 1960s, from a Roberts descendant in Newton, Jasper, Iowa. Click on our new “Family Documents” section to download the entire pdf of this file more easily than the images in this post: Roberts, Daniel(s), Murrell Family History, 1946.

Roberts-Murrell Family History, 1946. Part 3 of 3.
Roberts-Murrell Family History, 1946. Part 3 of 3. (Click to enlarge.)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have some pictures from that reunion? They are probably out there somewhere… hopefully labeled with names and the date! If any of our dear readers have such pictures, please let us know through a comment on this post or our “Contact Us” form. We would love to share other Roberts, Murrell, Daniel(s), and Blount treasures.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Family treasure chest item received in the 1960s.

 

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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 2013-2015 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.
 
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Family Recipe Friday: Edith Roberts Luck’s Pineapple Cookies

Grandma Edie's Pineapple Drop Cookies- front. (Click to enlarge.)
Grandma Edie’s Pineapple Drop Cookies- front. (Click to enlarge and see below before making.)
Grandma Edie's Pineapple Drop Cookies- back. (Click to enlarge.)
Grandma Edie’s Pineapple Drop Cookies- back. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Daniel Family (Click for Family Tree)

Cooking was an integral part of the life of a farm wife. Edith Roberts McMurray Luck inherited the cooking gene from her mother, Ella V. Daniel Roberts. Edith wrote in her family stories:

Mama was an excellent cook. Nothing fancy, but just good country cooking. There was always room for another pair of legs under our table. Always enough for another mouth. I still feel I should do the same thing. Funny how these teachings stay [w]ith us. 

One of the most special stories that Edith wrote to her grandchildren was entitled, “A Winter Afternoon 1904.” Edith was just five years old, and it was amazing how she was able to so clearly remember incidents from her very early years. She reminisced:

Mother and I had had a nap and I was playing in the kitchen, while Mama was taking out of the oven huge loaves of bread and a pan of six inch high biscuits.

There must have been a dozen in this particular pan she always used for these biscuits. The fragrance from the freshly baked bread was delightful. The golden-browned tops were well greased, making them even more delicious to eat. Mother used a potato water starter. I don’t know just how she did it. I do know that sister was always warned not to upset the cup of starter on the table in the pantry. She baked once a week.

Of course, during harvest season Ellie Roberts would have been baking probably every day, as there were a lot of hired hands to feed. She would have had help though, with neighboring women coming to the Roberts farm to assist in the kitchen, and then Ellie Roberts would go to one of their farms when the threshers moved on. Add in the extra women, young girls who helped, and little children, and there were a lot of mouths to feed!

Edith continued her story:

It was about time for the kids to come home from school. If I timed it right I could stand on a chair and watch for them to leave the school grounds. We were just a quarter of a mile from the school-house. This afternoon I was standing on a chair jugging from one foot to the other with a carpet ball in my hands. A big basket of them was under the resevoir [sic]. Also near the stove was a tall can of thick cream. It was being warmed to churn the next morning. Mother had warned me to be careful. Finally, while I was shouting; “They are coming, they are coming.” she said sharply; “Edith Mae Roberts, if you drop one of those carpet balls in that cream you will get a hard spanking.” Under my breath I said; “I wish my name was not Edith Mae Roberts.” I was teased about this for years. “So you don’t want to be called Edith May Roberts huh?”

The kids came in all hot and breathless and covered with snow. All hungry as little bears. I knew mother would fix them one of those fresh biscuits and I would get half of one too, with either plum butter or apple butter on it. Delicious! I can almost taste them now.

**********************

The above recipe was a family favorite. We don’t know if it was passed down from her mother or if Edith found it elsewhere. These cookies are unique and totally delicious, especially when frozen and ‘liberated’ from the deep freeze in the midst of a hot Iowa summer without air conditioning.

Like most family recipes, it was told to the writer as Edie was cooking, and she had made the recipe so many times that she didn’t think about things like whether or not to drain the pineapple, which is likely the way to go- it will depend on the moisture in the air when you are baking, and you may need a bit of the juice. These are excellent without the nuts, too, although pecans are very good in them. If the kitchen is warm, pop the dough in the refrigerator for a bit to firm up before baking, or the cookies will spread out too much. The bottoms of these cookies brown quickly, as do the pineapple bits, so do not use a dark pan- an insulated sheet might work better, though of course such things were not available to Edith or her mother as they baked in a wood-fired stove and later Edith’s prized electric oven.  Edie always added a buttercream icing after cooling that was delicious plain or with additional crushed pineapple mixed in. The yield of 3-4 dozen was for farmhands and threshers, it seems- they are very large. Smaller cookies puff up taller and have a better icing:cooky ratio per results of many taste tests over the years.

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Family recipe.

2) “The kids” coming home from school would have been Edith’s brother George A. Roberts, Jr. and their sister, Ethel Gay Roberts.

3) The above is not Edith’s handwriting- that was challenging to read. She typed most of her recipes but this one was written as she told it, probably sometime in the 1960s or early 70s.

 

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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 2013-2015 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.