image_pdfimage_print

Tuesday’s Tip: Exploring a Family Story- The Springsteens and Abraham Lincoln

Baby Mary T. Helbling with her beloved grandmother, Anna Missouri (Springsteen) Beerbower in 1925. Family photo.
Baby Mary T. Helbling with her beloved grandmother, Anna Missouri (Springsteen) Beerbower in 1925. Family photo.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Tuesday’s Tip:

Explore your family stories.

They may hold a bit of truth- or even more.

℘℘℘℘℘

While researching and writing the stories of Abram F. Springsteen for recent posts, a memory of Mary T. (Helbling) McMurray’s story that Abram and his family saw President Abraham Lincoln sparked an interest in checking out that old family story. Mary’s grandmother, Abram’s sister Anna Missouri (Springsteen) Beerbower, had moved in with her daughter and son-in-law, Anna May (Beerbower) Helbling and G.W. Helbling, during her later years. Mary and her grandmother were very close and spent quite a bit of time together. They did talk about family a lot, and Mary always knew more about that line of the family than of her father’s.

Many genealogists and historians will say that a good number of family stories are just that- stories. But I have found that our older generations were actually pretty accurate in their storytelling. So off to research and see if there was at least a grain of truth in the oft-told lore.

If memory serves (which it doesn’t always, lately), the reason Abram ran off to the Army was due to him seeing President Lincoln, per Mary, his great-niece. So finding out if Lincoln was anywhere near Indianapolis during 1861 was what was needed to verify this story, since that year was when Abram first enlisted.

It was harder than thought to find a detailed timeline of Lincoln’s activities. After a Google search that did not show me what I needed, I decided to look through Doris Kearns Goodwin’s most excellent book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Cover image is Daniel Day-Lewis in the 2012 film, "Lincoln."
Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, first published in 2006. Cover image is Daniel Day-Lewis in the 2012 film, “Lincoln.”

Some tidbits but not exactly what I was looking for, though of course it was hard to stop reading through the book. It did give great context for the times, including the tug between sides to prevent or ‘render asunder’ our precious Union that had existed for 85 years.

The Indiana state capital, Indianapolis, was a major railroad and transportation hub. It also was the home of Gov. Oliver Hazard Perry Morton, who was one of Lincoln’s major supporters. Indianapolis was therefore a major base of Union support, so it was highly likely that Lincoln would have paid the city a visit.

The best clue came from waymarking.com, of all places. (They provide ways to log your visit to a particular spot using a GPS.) The site showed an Indianapolis monument commemorating a visit by Lincoln- on 11 February 1861. Bingo. A quick trip to Wikipedia.org led to more and then much more, and the number of open windows on my laptop increased rapidly with all the information I had been seeking, and more.

 

Tomorrow: the real story

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. History of Indianapolis, Indiana, Wikipedia- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Indianapolis
  2. Lincoln’s Inaugaration Journey – Indianapolis:  http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM11MR
  3. Lincoln- assassination attempts just after election (Baltimore Plot):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltimore_Plot
  4. “Mr. Lincoln Goes to Washington” by Paul Fatout in the Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 321-332. http://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/imh/article/view/8077/9867
  5.  A maul is a large, heavy, hammer with a wedge-shaped head that is used to split rails, which Lincoln had done quite a lot of as a young man on the Illinois prairie. Rails are the horizontal supports on a fence.

 

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.

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!

 

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.

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.

 

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.

Sentimental Sunday: More Souvenirs from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series 1904 St. Louis World's Fair
Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World's Fair-Letter opener-front.
Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair-Letter opener-front. (Click to enlarge.)

 

Commemorating the Louisiana Purchase Centennial was the theme for many World’s Fair souvenirs. This letter opener has an image of the Cascade Gardens, but also a beautiful eagle, symbol of America. Native Americans are depicted on front and back, and a globe joins the handle and blade, reminding us that the Lewis & Clark Expedition traversed the huge expanse of the lands of the Louisiana Purchase.

[Again, I apologize for the quality of the images. These items are hard to photograph, especially at night.]

Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World's Fair-Letter opener-back.
Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair-Letter opener-back. (Click to enlarge.)

Souvenirs might have sentimental meaning in later years, an opportunity to recall pleasant times with family and friends (or perhaps, with NO family or friends around). Many souvenirs held a special place in the home, whether one kept them for oneself or gave them as a gift to the neighbor who fed the dog while one was off traveling, or to a family member who had to stay home. Anna May Beerbower Helbling was one of the latter. May collected silver spoons, and many people brought them to her from many places, since she could not travel in her later years. She had leg ulcers and was often bedridden- the family thinks she probably had diabetes, in the days before insulin. She may have benefitted from the introduction of insulin in 1921 when she was 40 years old, as family remembers her beloved husband G. W. Helbling giving her injections, but the damage of diabetes may have already been done. The lack of good antibiotics at the time also likely compromised her health.

1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons. (Click to enlarge.)

Often silver plate so they were more affordable to the middle class, collectible spoons were common souvenirs around the country, and at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair as well. The spoons in these images were purchased, not a legacy of May Beerbower Helbling. Her collection as I know it did not include a World’s Fair spoon, though she did collect before that date so maybe that spoon ended up with another family member. (It seems strange for her to not have one, but she was a newlywed that year and money may have been very tight.)

1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons- Palace of Liberal Arts
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons- Palace of Liberal Arts. (Click to enlarge.)
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons- Palace of Transportation
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons- Palace of Transportation. (Click to enlarge.)
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons- Palace of Electricity. (Click to enlarge.)
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons_reverse
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons_reverse. Cascade Gardens at the top, and Louisiana Purchase Monument below. Marked “U.S. Silver Co.” (Click to enlarge.)

Some World’s Fair spoons were a finer quality, and sterling silver, such as this one produced by Mermod-Jaccard, a fine jeweler in St. Louis.

1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons- Cascade Gardens; Sterling from Mermod-Jaccard (a St. Louis fine jeweler).
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons- Cascade Gardens; Sterling from Mermod-Jaccard, a St. Louis fine jeweler. (Click to enlarge.)
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons- Cascade Gardens; Sterling from Mermod-Jaccard, a St. Louis fine jeweler. (Click to enlarge.)
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons- Cascade Gardens; Sterling from Mermod-Jaccard, a St. Louis fine jeweler. (Click to enlarge.)
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons- Cascade Gardens; Sterling from Mermod-Jaccard (a St. Louis fine jeweler).
1904 Louisiana Exposition Souvenir- Spoons- Cascade Gardens; Sterling from Mermod-Jaccard, a St. Louis fine jeweler. (Click to enlarge.)

Hatpins were another useful souvenir of the fair. Both hair and hats were very big at that time, and the hatpin would hold the hat on through fairly big winds, since it went through the hat, the big hair, then the hat again (sometimes). Having a souvenir hatpin showed folks back home that you were a well-travelled lady.

Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World's Fair-2 enamel hatpins.
Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair-2 enamel hatpins. (Click to enlarge.)

These hatpins are enameled, and some of the enamel has come off of the fleur-de-lis hatpin, a symbol of the French settlement of St. Louis and surrounding areas. The red, white, and blue of the pennant reflect the French flag that flew over St. Louis for so many years; the fleur-de-lis sported those colors originally too.

Hatpins became a favorite collectible of mine because of a story told about Anna May Beerbower, discussed above. May was born in 1881, and was probably in her later teens before she started dating. May had gone on a date to a movie, possibly circa 1897-1903, which would have been a silent movie with an organist providing appropriate music for the action. The lights went down and the couple settled in to enjoy the movie. May felt a hand wander to her knee, which was covered by her long dress of the time. She moved the hand gently, since she was a gentle woman who could never even kill a bug. The hand, as male hands are wont to do, returned soon after to her innocent knee. May calmly took the hatpin out of her hat and stabbed the errant hand with it. The movie was finished in silence by the two of them, with hands in their appropriate places. She did not go out with him again.

Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World's Fair-2 enamel hatpins.
Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair-2 enamel hatpins.

May and G.W. married in 1904, so I like to think of the two sweethearts strolling through the fair. Maybe G.W. bought her a hatpin such as one of these. They also took friends to the Fair, and there is, somewhere in my treasure chest (but not in my digital images), a letter from their friends, thanking them for the enjoyable visit and tour of the World’s Fair.

Watch fobs would have been very useful souvenirs, too, that also showed one’s sophistication in travel and looking forward to the future, as was the Fair’s theme.

Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World's Fair-Watch Fob-front.
Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair-Watch Fob-front. (Click to enlarge.)

The French fleur-de-lis is seen in the top panel, the Palace of Machinery is next, with the impressive Cascade Gardens below. A U.S. shield with 1904 to denote year of the Fair, and the round medal at the bottom promoted the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. “1803” is on the left, “1903” on the right. Uncle Sam is on the left with the US Capitol in the background, and France on the right with her Eiffel Tower in the background, handing over the signed Louisiana Purchase documents. (The Fair was planned for 1903 originally, but they waited until 1904 so that more states and foreign nations could participate.) Napoleon, who ruled France at the time of the Purchase, is depicted on the left side of the medal, and President Thomas Jefferson on the right. The words, “Historic Souvenir” make the medal a bit less imposing, I think, but at least no one could try to sell it as an original.

Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World's Fair-Watch Fob-reverse.
Souvenir of 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair-Watch Fob-reverse.(Click to enlarge.)

The reverse of the fob begins at the top with the fleur-de-lis, and then showcases St. Louis’ Union Station, which many of the Fair tourists would have passed through as most travelled by train. Union Station had opened in 1894, the largest passenger station in the country. It became the busiest as well, and those of us of a certain age will remember standing at the edge of the many tracks inside, with the acrid smell of the new diesel train engines and the loud hiss of the older but more beautiful steam engines. The station has now become a multi-use hotel-retail-restaurant-convention center, and is a great destination in St. Louis to visit today.

The next panel showcases the 1874 engineering marvel that connects St. Louis to Illinois, the Eads Bridge. It was the longest arched bridge of the time, and made wide use of the new material called steel for its arched trusses, which were considered daring and unproven to handle the weight necessary for such a bridge. The construction of the bridge was novel in that it was the first use of cantilevered support exclusively, and its very deep pneumatic caissons were some of the few used at that time in bridge construction. St. Louisans were very proud of their bridge, and featuring it on this watch fob was one way to tell the world that while St. Louis might be an older city, it was looking forward to the future with advanced engineering and city planning.

The bottom section states, “Louisiana Purchase Exposition St. Louis 1904.”

Souvenirs of 1904 St. Louis World's Fair- 4 pins plus watch fob/medal.
Souvenirs of 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair- 4 pins plus watch fob/medal. (Click to enlarge.)

The metal piece to the upper right above may also have been used as a watch fob, or attached to a bar-pin and worn as a medal. (There may have been a top portion that is missing.)

Many of the US states had a pavilion, and small buttons such as the above  would have been procured there. I don’t know if these would have been given out or purchased- more research needed. The pin on the bottom right has some water damage. These pins are likely celluloid on metal backings.

A last few of my 1904 souvenirs will be featured in an upcoming post.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Items in the collection of the author, but sadly, they are not OUR family heirlooms, but were those of someone whose descendants did not appreciate heirlooms.

2) St. Louis Union Station- http://www.stlouisunionstation.com/about/

3) Eads Bridge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eads_Bridge

 

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.