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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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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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Mystery Monday: Emelia and Aunt Lizzie- Solved

Emelia and Aunt Lizzie, possibly Peoria, Illinois.
“Emelia and Aunt Lizzie”, possibly Peoria, Illinois. (Click to enlarge.)

Helbling Family (Click for Family Tree)

Last Monday our Mystery Monday: Emelia and Aunt Lizzie post included the above image in hope of someone seeing it and being able to help us solve the mystery of Emelie and Aunt Lizzie and how they fit into the family. We now think we have a solution, although we do not know for sure who each of the persons are in the photograph- yet.

Trolling through my Ancestry.com family tree to try and find an “Emelie” was fruitless, but “Lizzie” was a hit: Elizabeth “Lizzy” Barbara Helbling surfaced after I had entered some data from old notes, specifically some from cousin Mary Lou, who did so much great Helbling research back in the days before the internet, and was so generous in sharing it.

Lizzy was born 25 Feb 1839 in Lawrenceville, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, to Franz Xavier Helbling and Mary Theresa Knipshield. Lizzy was therefore the sister of Franz X. Helbling, Jr., thus the aunt of ‘our’ Gerard William “G.W.” Helbling, son of Franz. The photo album belonged to G.W. and his wife, Anna May Beerbower Helbling, so she would have been “Aunt Lizzy” to May who was putting the captions in the album.

I thought the image was probably taken in the 1930s, but Aunt Lizzy died 25 Dec 1928, so it would have to be sometime in the 20s. She is likely the very elderly woman on the right in the photo, since she was listed as age 81 in the 1920 US Federal Census, and died at age 89.

If this was taken in Peoria, she was a pretty spry lady- she was living in Pittsburgh, PA in 1920 so would have probably taken the train to Peoria in her 80s. Spry also with sitting on the ground for the picture and possibly a picnic- getting up might have been hard!

 

So who then is Emelie? Emelie is the daughter-in-law of Lizzy, as Emelie married, probably in 1892, Frederick A. J. Spahn, the son of Lizzy and John Spahn. Emelia/Amelia was listed as a Practical Nurse in the 1920 US Federal Census, so she may have traveled with her mother-in-law as Emelia and Frederick were living in Lizzy’s household in 1920 in Pittsburgh. (How convenient to have a nurse around for someone 80 years old!) Emelie L. Heidemann was the daughter of Hermann and Louise Heidemann, born about 1840 and 1843, respectively, in Germany.

Researching Emelie in the census was challenging at first, since her given name was spelled so many ways, and I did not have a maiden name. Thankfully an Ancestry.com tree did have a maiden name, so searching using that last name as a clue, I was able to find her family. Her death certificate confirmed her maiden name, as it listed Hermann Heideman as her father, and that she was the widow of Fred J. Spahn.

Emelie was born in 1870, so would have been 50 in 1920. She might be the woman on the right in the dark dress, or the upper left with glasses. Fred is not listed in the caption in the photo album, so he may not have come on the trip- or could have been the photographer! (He died in 1837.) We will need to find a photo of both of them, and one of Lizzie, to try to match up images and identify these folks. Hopefully someone else out there has this same photo with identification. Please let us know if you are a Spahn or Helbling relative!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Emelie Heidemann in the 1880 US Federal Census- Year: 1880; Census Place: Saint Louis, St Louis (Independent City), Missouri; Roll: 722; Family History Film: 1254722; Page: 655D; Enumeration District: 100; Image: 0738; via Ancestry.com.

2) 1920 US Federal Census for Elizabeth “Lizzie” Barbara Helbling Spahn Bushman- Year: 1920; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 26, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1526; Page: 19B; Enumeration District: 739; Image: 1122; via Ancestry.com.

3) Family photo album.

 

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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.
 
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Talented Tuesday: The Skills of Franz X. Helbling

Helbling family home in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. From a family photo but image may also be found in St. Augustine Diamond Jubilee, page 40-2, St. Augustine Catholic Church, Lawrenceville, PA. From a family photo but image may also be found in St. Augustine Diamond Jubilee, page 40-2, St. Augustine Catholic Church, Lawrenceville, PA.
Helbling family home in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. Note store front, and family would have lived above store and possibly have rooms behind.
From a shared family photo but image may also be found in St. Augustine Diamond Jubilee, page 40-2, St. Augustine Catholic Church, Lawrenceville, PA.

Helbling Family

Are you a Helbling descendant who is good with knives? Can you deftly carve a large turkey at Thanksgiving, debone a chicken breast in just a couple quick strokes, or gently filet a fish? Then you may have have some of the butchering talent passed down through the Helbling DNA.

Franz Xavier Helbling (1800-1876) and his brother Jacob (1813-1872) were butchers, and Jacob is credited with being one of the first butchers to have a stand at the Pittsburg market. (Yes, that is how they spelled Pittsburgh back in the day.) With both brothers being butchers, it is highly likely that their father, Franz Xavier Helbling, (1773-?), was also a butcher. Franz  had a son who became a butcher, but the family trade ended there.

I have found 4 IRS Tax Lists for 1862-3 for this family, and they show that there were more Helbling butchers than just these two in Lawrenceville, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

(Tax rates are 30 cents per head of cattle, 5 cents for a calf, 10 cents for a hog, and 5 cents for sheep.)

#1- September 1862

Francis Helbling- 6 cattle + 1 calf + 1 hog= $1.95 in taxes.

Jacob Helbling- 6 cattle + 1 calf + 1 hog= $1.95 in taxes.

Jacob Helbling- 4 head of cattle= $1.20.

#2- October 1862

Francis Helbling- 6 head of cattle + 2 calves for a total of $1.90.

Jacob Helbling- 6 head of cattle + 1 calf = $1.85 in taxes

Francis Helbling- 10 head of cattle +2 calves + 3 hogs + 4 sheep= $3.60 in taxes.

John Knipschield- 12 cattle + 1 calf= $3.65 in taxes.

(We do not know Mary Theresa Knipschield’s siblings nor parents- maybe this is her brother and why she came to America?)

#3- November 1862

Francis Helbling- 3 head of cattle for a total of $0.90 in taxes.

Jacob Helbling- 5 head of cattle + 2 calves = $1.60 in taxes

Francis Helbling- 9 head of cattle + 5 calves + 1 hog for a total of $3.05.

Jacob Helbling- 6 head of cattle + 2 calves = $1.90 in taxes

#4- October 1863

Francis Helbling- 7 head of cattle + 1 calf for a total of $1.45.

Jacob Helbling- 6 head of cattle + 3 calves = $1.35 in taxes

John Knipschield- 13 cattle + 6 calf + 4 hogs= $3.14 in taxes.

Robert Helbling- 4 head of cattle= $0.80

(Not sure who Robert Helbling is…more research needed.)

 Being a butcher in the 1800s was a lot different than today- no tractor trailer driving to the grocery store loading dock with cuts of meat that only need a little trimming for the expensive meat case. As can be seen from the tax lists, our ancestors had to grow their own meat, kill the animal, butcher the carcass, utilize and dispose of the offal (undesirable parts), and package it when the customer chose the perfect steak. Cattle back then were a bit smaller than today, about 1,100 pounds vs today’s 1,500 pound cattle; an animal that size was a lot to manage. A lot to feed, too, to get to that weight- they would have had to purchase hay and corn to grow those calves, or grow their own.

After dressing the animal, i.e. cutting off all the undesirable parts, the remaining meat cuts would be about half the weight of the live animal. Of course, back then they also ate parts we are not always inclined to eat, such as tripe, tongue, heart, etc. Being German, they probably made some amazing sausage out of the leftover parts, and head cheese too, so their yield would probably have been higher than today’s. (Of course, our industrialized livestock farming of today uses all those undesirable parts- they just don’t tell us what it is in. Often it is fed back to animals, one way mad-cow disease is spread.)

Our ancestors who farmed, which was a majority of those in the 1800s, had to do this too, but on a much smaller scale.

So, the next time you are wrestling a 24-kb Thanksgiving turkey as the whole table of guests watch, remember that culinary knife skills  may be in your DNA, and you can do it!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Obituary for Rosina Wiesert Helbling, wife of Jacob Helbling.

The Pittsburgh Press, Nov. 30, 1907, page three http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=nhobAAAAIBAJ&sjid=CEkEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4329,6709035 &dq=helbling+death&hl=en

2) September 1862 Tax List: U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918AuthorAncestry.comPublisherAncestry.com Operations IncPublisher Date2008Publisher LocationProvo, UT, USA

October 1862 Tax List: U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918AuthorAncestry.com. Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.Original data – National Archives (NARA) microfilm series: M603, M754-M771, M773-M777, M779-M780, M782, M784, M787-M789, M791-M793, M795, M1631, M1775-M1776, T227, T1208-T1209

[Ancestry.com is in the midst of switching viewer styles and I cannot get to all of the sources for each of the IRS records. Please let me know if you need more information.]

3) A Century of Georgia Agriculture, 1850-1950 by Willard Range, 1954.  https://books.google.com/books?id=s_GPG0k7XwUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:%22Willard+Range%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JusAVeOtHYuZNt3rg9AL&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images- it may also make them sharper.

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.
 
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Thankful Thursday- A Thanksgiving List

Edith Roberts Luck with her first granddaughter in 1954.
Edith Roberts Luck with her first granddaughter in October, 1954.

As a family historian and history buff, sitting down to write a list of things I am thankful for is daunting, even when I limit it to genealogy- there are so very many.

1. Of course, I would need to start with the family that was close, and who shared their stories with me from the time I was a young child. I always wanted to hear more of the good stories, and had a thirst for digging deeper into them. The budding journalist even back then always asked the 5 W’s and How: Who was it? What did they do for a living? Where did they live/move? When was it exactly? Why would they do ___? and How do you know that? How did they accomplish that? Questions, questions, questions… (Sorry, Mom, Dad, grandparents, etc.)

Family stories integrate history and help children better understand context, timelines, and their place in them. A fifth grader I knew had trouble understanding which persons he was studying in social studies were still alive- he couldn’t remember if Ben Franklin or George Washington were still living. This was a child who sadly did not have family stories…

David Allen Lambert recently wrote a good post discussing this on the blog Vita Brevis entitled “The gift of family history.” As I read it, I remembered how the Civil War came alive to me in my classes only because I knew I had a great-great Uncle who was “the youngest drummer boy in the Civil War” per family stories. My mother would bring out his picture occasionally, and he looked so young and vulnerable in his new Union uniform and cap. As we learned about boring battles, I could imagine dear little Abram Springsteen marching off, beating his drum with head held high, with his mother and sisters shedding briny tears, and his father proudly knowing that he would come back a man, even though he was only 12 years old as he left. I was proud that my family fulfilled patriotic duties, and relieved to know that Abram survived. The story of him stealing eggs and putting them in his drum to take back to camp for a delicious repast for his comrades in arms turned out to be true; as a child, it made me realize that I too could do things that mattered and that helped adults. Part of his legacy was thus given to me- a gift of family history passed down through the years.

Studies show that children who know the family stories have a better sense of who they are, where they came from, more confidence, etc. The best part is that they can pass on those stories to their children and grandchildren too. A person’s history is usually lost within three generations, since the fourth most probably will never have met the eldest. Using images and the wealth of the family stories and current availability of genealogical data, we can keep that from happening.

Grandma Edie (above) always told us, “You come from strong pioneer stock- you can do anything you set your mind to.” That sentence has kept me going through adversity from the we-thought-it-was-the-end-of-the-world silly junior high sort to much bigger, scarier, life altering things. I think I finally truly believe it.

Franz Xavier Helbling (1800-1876) and his wife Mary Theresa Knipshield (1810-1891)
Franz Xavier Helbling (1800-1876) and his wife Mary Theresa Knipshield (1810-1891). Photos sent by a kind distant cousin who paid to have the Helblings researched in Germany. She very kindly shared all her research with me, even though I had nothing to contribute except a bit of an update on more current family.

2. Back in the days before computers, genealogical research was a slow task with so many dead ends, and it depended on strangers being interested enough to answer your query if you could not travel to every needed repository. I cannot imagine the reams of paper and piles of envelopes I mailed out  after reading a query in a genealogy magazine, enclosing my SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope, so the person did not have to use their own stamp to reply- quaint, isn’t it in these days of instant emails and messaging?), or writing to a local courthouse or historical society. Often, by the time one got a reply months later, one had almost forgotten the details of why they wrote. Despite all that, the kindness of strangers and very distant family was often overwhelming, and helped advance my research one family at a time.

1920 US Federal Census for Elsie Janis (Beerbower)
1920 US Federal Census for Elsie Janis (Beerbower). I had been only able to find the 1910 census for her  even though I searched for years. Yesterday’s look on FamilySearch.org turned up the family in the 1920 census, and I was then able to find the image on Ancestry.com. Knowing some of the servant’s names helped me to actually find the image- it did not come up in a search for Elsie nor Josephine (AKA Jane Elizabeth Cockrell Beerbower), her mother. The chauffeur’s name led me then to the 1930 census for Elsie and her mother. Still searching for them in the 1900 census…

3. I have been researching since a teen, and thirty years of personal visits to families and repositories plus SASE were totally eclipsed once I found Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, and the myriad other online databases now available. In just a few months my family tree doubled in size, reaching many generations higher. Of course, it would not have been an accurate tree without all the information I had so painstakingly gathered in all those previous years. Indexers have made this material accessible, and I hope to be able to do more indexing in the future myself. Online databases are the gift that keeps on giving- more comes online daily and I just love the newspapers now online-  they give such interesting details about daily life, something dry vital records cannot do.

Obituary of Margaret Ann Hemphill, 23 December 1915, Prairie City News, Prairie City, Iowa, page 1.
Obituary of Margaret Ann Hemphill, 23 December 1915, Prairie City News, Prairie City, Iowa, page 1.

4. Being able to write about my research and findings has been the culmination of all my research- what good is all that paperwork/pixels if it doesn’t tell a story to someone? Writing it down has helped me to realize where there are holes, and then I research some more- it’s a wonder that I ever get a blog post finished. (I think my fastest was only 8 revisions and I know there are still typos and awkward sentences here and there- sorry.) Writing out the stories is also a way of analyzing what one knows, and sometimes new connections are evident. I am still challenged by some of the technicalities of using a blog, and it isn’t the pretty blog I visualized because I don’t have the skills to make it so, but overall it makes me happy to share these stories of family.

c1914- Edgar Helbling reading.
c1914- Edgar Helbling reading.

5. Having people who actually read the blog is so wonderful. Writing a blog IS a lot of work (thank you, dear husband, for your patience when I am writing), and it saddens me that there are not very many readers out there. It is a niche blog though, written for family, so I really don’t expect large numbers. (It would be nice though to get as many real people comments as spam comments.) We have found some cousins through the blog (one of the reasons we started this), and I am sure there are others reading but not commenting, subscribing, or sharing. Oh well, I do hope that they will one day, but in the meantime, I have been charged with telling these stories for current and future generations, and that is what I will do. Thank you to Uncle Jim who pushed me to get this thing started. To the family and friends who read the blog, I say a heartfelt thank you- you keep me inspired to keep telling the stories.

My genealogical journey has been a part of me for a very long time and I am grateful to be able to share it with family.  I am so thankful for all the assistance along the way, from the kind humanity of researchers and government employees to the non-human databases that contain so many tidbits of clues and information. I am grateful to all the wonderful ancestors who came before to make me who I am and keep me busy at the computer and off the streets because I am so deep into research I cannot stop to eat or sleep or get in trouble.

In the end, though, the thing to be most thankful for, this day and every day, is… family.

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Family photo archives.

2) 1920 US Federal Census for Elsie Janis: Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: North Tarrytown, Westchester, New York; Roll: T625_1276; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 68; Image: 599. Ancestry.com. Accessed 11-19-14.

3) Vita Brevis, a blog of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS)- http://vita-brevis.org/2014/11/gift-family-history/#more-2593

 

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
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Helbling Family Home & School, Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, Part 4

 

St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church, Lawrenceville, PA. Dedicated in 1901.
St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church, Lawrenceville, PA. Dedicated in 1901.

The remaining portions of chapter 1 as well as 2 in the St. Augustine’s Parish History are interesting to read. I have extracted a few of the more interesting sections, including those pertaining to this Helbling family and the founding of the school and church.

By 1860 there were at least 70  houses built in the district and Butler St. had been paved. It was obvious with the growth rate of the community and the problems at the school that an organized effort by the German Catholics to build a school and church was warranted, and competent leadership was required to raise funds and procure land.

The German Gemeinde (congregation) of Lawrenceville was formed about 1859-60 but had no priest or official standing. They raised money in three ways: loans; a purchase of land with the loaned funds that was divided for the church, school, and pastor’s residence, with the remaining in lots to be sold (eventually mortgaged); and they held a fund-raising picnic on July 4, 1860.

Xavier Helbling was among those pledging money for the church and school, and loaned the group $500 on 25 Jul 1862.

The following is a partial portion of the minutes of 3 meetings held to prepare for the fund-raising picnic:

“FIRST MEETING, JUNE 7, 1860
The  committee  for the  German Roman Catholic picnic has decided that:

4. The dinner and supper tickets be each twenty-five cents.
5. Everybody pay ten cents at the entrance.
6. Dancing be permitted July 4-.
7. For three dances, everybody, be they German or English, pay ten cents.
8. The president engage from four to six musicians.
9. The secretary advertize this picnic in all German papers and send out invitations to all German Catholic societies.
10. Two constables be engaged.
11. The following men be appointed to keep order: A. Hoeveler, Louis  Unverzagt, Aug. Sterer, Anthon Barth, Alex Wirth, and Matthew Bader.

14. The following men attend the bar: John Wirth, John Fleckenstein, Xaver Helbling, Heinrich Engel, Xaver Burkhart, Jos. Brentner, Joseph Bischof, Jacob
Helbling, Alex Ouoczalla, Michael Helbling, Xaver Loeffler and Frank Hawk.

16. Messrs. Engel. T. Wirth. and Engelking arrange with the women for the fortune-wheels (Glückschafen)…”

I find the  “… everybody, be they German or English, pay ten cents” to be an interesting insight into the exclusiveness of the German Catholic community and long-held attitudes between those of other countries. It is obvious that “the old country” was not far in memory.

“The third meeting was  held on July 1, 1860 and passed the following resolutions:

Decreed that:
1. Mr. Aug. Hoeveler have the right to appoint the men who are to keep order on the dancing floor.
2. Xaver Burkhart serve as butler and retail the beverages to the bartenders for cash payment.
3. Xaver Burkhart distribute the Deidesheimer wine to the bartenders for twenty-five cents and the Markgrãfler wine for twenty cents.
4. The teacher shall examine every article delivered and give a receipt for same.
5. Xaver Burkhart and J. Helbling collect all things for the picnic and haul them with their own teams  to the grounds. Frank Helbling, Johann Kalchthaler, Fred Kalb cut meat for the tables.
6. Anton Bischof provide lemonade.”

Many of the Helbling family members were butchers.

Keeping a school going was still a struggle for the community, especially without official support of the church. They withdrew the pupils from Robinson Hall, and moved to the “Alley School.” It was actually in a busy alley, though the building was situated lower than the alley and a significant precipice caused by a previous washout ran along all the lots of the alley. (Parents probably feared for the safety of their children at recess and going to school, or during rainy seasons when another washout might occur.) The school was greatly in need of repair, and small.  There was a bit of consistency as their teacher from Robinson Hall continued for a short while, but then another teacher was hired. This successor was fired- reason unknown today- and the school had to close until a new teacher could be found. After reopening with Mr. John Kraus as teacher, the school continued in session at the “Alley School.”

Father Kircher had taken over as head of the Gemeinde and wanted to build a new school, which the community made happen.

“The children probably moved into their new school in January, 1862. Eighty pupils were enrolled in four grades taught by Mr. John Kraus. The school hours lasted from 8:30 to 11:00, and from 1:00 to 4:00. The curriculum consisted of catechism, Bible history, reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, singing, grammar and letter-writing. These branches were taught in German, but English reading and writing were also taught. Each child was taxed fifty cents monthly for the support of the school. With the new building and with Father Kircher’s supervison the school entered upon a new era. Not only did the number of pupils increase steadily, but the academic standard kept pace with its growth.”

Mass was celebrated at the new school which doubled as a place of worship. A letter from Mrs. Lisetta Besselman in 1921 related the following:

“I moved to Lawrenceville in 1862, or the month following the explosion (Sept. 17) at the arsenal. I went to St. Augustine’s school which was church and school combined. Folding doors separated the altar from the room during school hours. It was very small and located on a hill. Our teacher was Mr. Kraus whom we all liked.”

St. Augustine’s officially became a parish in 1863, and was consolidated with three other parishes in 1993 to become Our Lady of the Angels Church.

Would you like to hear the bells that may have called our ancestors to worship at St. Augustine’s? See/hear at  “Our Lady of the Angels’ St. Augustine Church Bells- Lawrenceville, PA.”

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) St. Augustine’s Parish History 1863-1938. Personal copy from a cousin, but the entire history may be found online at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njm1/StAugJub-TC.html. Accessed 1-22-2014. Please see this history for detailed references to specific items in the narrative.

2) Helbling Family Home & School, Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, Part 1:  http://heritageramblings.net/2014/01/24/helbling-famil…e-pennsylvania/

3) Helbling Family Home & School, Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, Part 2: http://heritageramblings.net/2014/04/03/helbling-famil…vania-part-2-2/ 

4) Helbling Family Home & School, Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, Part 3: http://heritageramblings.net/2014/03/06/helbling-famil…ylvania-part-3/ ‎

5) Letter of Mrs. Lisetta Besselman in St. Aug., Feb., 1922, p. 6.

6) Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh: http://www.diopitt.org/parishes/saint-augustine-lawrenceville

7) You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfS_cK9w_9s. Accessed 3/2/14.

8) Our Lady of the Angels Paris: http://www.oloa.org/ Accessed 3/2/14.

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

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