Tuesday’s Tip: Context- The 1888 Presidential Election

Leominster, Massachusetts Politics during the 1888 Presidential Election. Fitchburg Sentinel, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 18 October 1888, page 2, column 3.
Leominster, Massachusetts Politics during the 1888 Presidential Election. “Fitchburg Sentinel,” Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 18 October 1888, page 2, column 3.

McMurray Family, Payne Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Trees)

Tuesday’s Tip:

Look for the context of your ancestor’s life-

from politics to clothing,

from community happenings to the style of their house.

Thankfully most family historians have moved away from being collectors of names and dates, and now want to tell the stories of their ancestors lives. Without detailed daily diaries or bundles of old letters, how do we learn about their lives? Newspapers are a great way to learn what was happening in a community, and an ancestor might be mentioned in a story or obituary. Also, browsing the pages around where one finds an ancestor article can help us to fill in the blanks about the little things in their lives- or even the big things.

Politics can be messy, as we all have experienced these last two years of this what seems to be a never-ending election. (In Great Britain, they only have a certain number of WEEKS they are allowed to campaign- that seems much more sensible.) Elections in our country’s history have been just as bad, maybe even worse than this one, but learning about them will help us to understand our ancestors a bit more.

Edward B.Payne (1847-1923) and his wife, Nanie M. (Burnell) Payne (1847-1898), lived in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1888, the year of this article. Their only child, Lynette Payne (who later married William Elmer McMurray), was about to turn nine years old just eight days after this article was published. Rev. Payne was the pastor of the First Congregational Unitarian Church in Leominster. Further down this newspaper column about Leominster happenings was a report of the Porter-Davis wedding at which he officiated, but a few moments of browsing the paper turned up this nugget of context.

In 1888, the Democratic incumbent President, Grover Cleveland, desired a second term. The Republican nominee was Benjamin Harrison, and US tariffs were the biggest issue of the campaign. Tariffs are a tax on imported goods, paid by the importer, and until the Federal Income Tax began in 1913, tariffs were the main source of federal income- up to 95% of the total at times.

1888 Presidential Election- Tariff Reform poster for Grover Cleveland, via Wikipedia; public domain.
1888 Presidential Election- Tariff Reform poster for Grover Cleveland, via Wikipedia; public domain.

Since high tariffs, paid by foreign manufacturers and importers, provided income to our federal government, they reduced the need for taxes to be paid by our citizens. Sounds good- make the other country pay, right? Well, the bad part  is that U.S. tariffs make the cost of imported goods higher to the consumer in this country- the cost just gets passed through to the buyer, of course.

Tariffs that are high make domestic products more affordable than imports, and thus more desirable. Therefore those in U.S. industries, including factory workers, preferred high tariffs so that their own production had a lower comparative cost, and they could sell more. Our own citizens would be in high demand as workers, too.

Since the country was prospering and there were no wars going on in 1888, tariffs became THE issue. Grover Cleveland was adamant that high U.S. tariffs were hurting the consumer.  He knew that our citizens felt it every time that they bought an imported item, and it hurt their pocketbook. Cleveland thus proposed a large tariff reduction to Congress.

(But then would personal taxes go up? The money has to come from somewhere…)

Harrison, however, felt that high tariffs protected our workers and manufacturers.

Grover Cleveland-Benjamin Harrison presidential (1888) campaign poster about the trade policy of the two candidates. The map supports the work of the Harrison campaign.
Grover Cleveland-Benjamin Harrison presidential (1888) campaign poster about the trade policy of the two candidates. The map supports the work of the Harrison campaign. via Wikipedia, public domain.

Benjamin Harrison was a Republican from Indiana, and he gave speeches from his front porch in Indianapolis- our Springsteen ancestors, such as Jefferson Springsteen and his son Abram Furman Springsteen, may have been a part of those crowds. The Springsteens were Democrats, so may have been part of the hecklers, although they may have had divided loyalties. Their party’s man, President Cleveland, was against military pensions. Since Jeff had at least 2 sons who had served in the Civil War, one of which was Abram, the Springsteens may not have been so happy with Cleveland, either.

Back in Leominster, Massachusetts, where Edward B.Payne and family were living, the factory workers, as expected, were supporting Harrison with his views of keeping tariffs high. It is interesting that the shirt factory ladies were going to “unfurl one of the finest flags in town, bearing the names of Harrison and Morton.” (Morton was the V.P. nominee.) Since women in most states could not legally vote in a Presidential election until 32 years later, it was one small way they could voice their political opinions and help influence the outcome.

Rev. Payne was a Christian Socialist in his later years, and surely, with his devotion to the poor, he exemplified that philosophy even earlier in life. He most likely would have favored a candidate who had the middle and lower classes in mind. (Later in California, he registered as a Socialist; we have found no other documentation of his political leanings.) He worked quite a lot with factory workers though, so he too may have had a difficult time deciding between candidates when he was ready to cast his ballot in the Cleveland-Harrison contest. Although just 41 years old in 1888, he also was a Civil War veteran, thus probably liked the idea of a military pension in his future- after all, preachers really do not make very much income.

In 1888, America still was one of the biggest manufacturers in the world, and the costs for our products were among the lowest in the world. So the tariff issue may not have been of such importance after all, but it was the loudest of the campaign.

Harrison carried Indiana as well as Massachusetts, and received the majority of  electoral votes. Cleveland, however, received the majority of the popular votes. It was a close election, but as one of only four elections when the popular vote did not match the Electoral College vote, the Republican Benjamin Harrison became the next President of the United States.

The context of our ancestor’s lives in 1888 included tariffs; today, ours include trade agreements, which can affect prices and demand in similar ways.

Our ancestors needed to educate themselves well before they voted, just as we need to do today.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1. Image sources per captions.

2. “United States Presidential Election, 1888,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1888

 

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Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Sorting Saturday: Springsteens in New York City, 1856

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

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

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

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

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

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

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

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

 

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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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Military Monday: Army Recruitment in 1858

Army Recruitment Ad in the Daily State Sentinel, Indianapolis, Indiana, 27 April 1858, page 3, via Hoosier State Chronicles.
Army Recruitment Ad in the Daily State Sentinel, Indianapolis, Indiana, 27 April 1858, page 3, via Hoosier State Chronicles. (Click to enlarge.)

Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

This 1858 ad seems somewhat charming in a way, taken as is. Just $11-22 per month pay? That is about $300-600 in today’s dollars. No wife or child? It made sense to not have encumbrances, as at that time, the US Army was fighting Native Americans out west and in Florida, was involved in armed conflict with the Mormons in Utah, had become a player on the world stage, etc. Although our founding fathers had not wanted a standing army, by the 1850s it was deemed a necessity, hence this advertisement for new Army recruits.

But once this ad is put into the context of the times and our family, as well as our nation, it is actually a chilling foreshadowing.

The years leading up to the Civil War were contentious, whether the issue was overtly slavery or the deeper heart of the matter- state’s rights. Economics were in play as well, with not just the huge property value of slaves being an issue- the South felt that the federal tariffs were favorable to the North and penalized the South. Our nation was quite divided by all of these issues.

In May, another massacre had occurred in ‘Bleeding Kansas’ with pro-slavery forces crossing from Missouri into Kansas Territory, which was in the process of determining whether or not to be a slave state. The gang captured 11 Free-Staters who were not armed and had not been involved with any of the previous violence- many of them actually knew the gang leader and went willingly as they did not realize the intention was to shoot them down in cold blood. Five died in the incident, and only one of the gang members was ever prosecuted. (He was later hanged.)

[We had families by the name of Hemphill, Turner, Daniel, and Thomas in Missouri (although most were originally from southern states), possibly Joseph H. Payne in Kansas Territory, and quite a few families who lived in border states or the south during this time period. They all would have seen the violence and hatred up close and possibly personal.]

Abraham Lincoln in 1858. Ambrotype by Abraham Byers, Beardstown, Illinois, via Wikipedia; public domain.
Abraham Lincoln in 1858. Ambrotype by Abraham Byers, Beardstown, Illinois, via Wikipedia; public domain. (Click to enlarge.)

Not long after the above recruitment ad and the pro-slavery ‘Marais des Cygnes massacre,’ Abraham Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” speech on 16 June 1858 as he accepted his Republican party’s nomination for the Illinois US Senate seat. He was pitted against Stephen A. Douglas, who felt each state or territory had the right to choose whether or not they wanted slavery.

Here is the passage you might remember from history class:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”

The famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates began that August, and although Lincoln did not win the Senate seat that election, his ‘House Divided’ speech helped to put him in the forefront of his party and the abolition/federal vs. state’s rights cause.

There was, most likely, a young boy named Abram Furman Springsteen (1850-1930) taking in all of this news and such advertisements with wide eyes. Although his father, Jefferson Springsteen (1820-1909) was a Democrat, because Jeff was active in local politics, Abram would have heard the latest news and discussions, probably from both sides, for quite a few years.  Abram was only 7 at the time of the ad, and he turned 8 in July, after Lincoln’s speech. By age 11, he was running away to join the Army, on the Union side. Apparently, Northern sympathies trumped his father’s political party, at least, for a young man in Indiana. Or maybe it was the exciting visit of Abraham Lincoln who stopped in Indianapolis on 11 February 1861, as he was on his way to be inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States… We will probably never know for sure, but it is interesting to see the history and context of the times of our ancestors through newspapers and other research, so we can determine how it may have motivated the events of their lives.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Army Recruitment Ad in the Daily State Sentinel, Indianapolis, Indiana, 27 April 1858, page 3, via Hoosier State Chronicles.
  2. ‘1858 in the United States’–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1858_in_the_United_States
  3. ‘Marais des Cygnes massacre’–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marais_des_Cygnes_massacre
  4. ‘Lincoln’s House Divided Speech’– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln%27s_House_Divided_Speech

  5. ‘The Abraham Lincoln Blog’–http://abrahamlincolnblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/lincolns-inauguration-journey-february.html
  6. Of course, the glamour and glory of going off to war may also have inspired Abram to enlist. He was quite a patriotic man in his later years, though, strongly believing in the United States and its government, so Abram’s reasons for enlisting were likely many.
  7. See also “Wisdom Wednesday: The Springsteens and Abraham Lincoln”– http://heritageramblings.net/2016/02/10/wisdom-wednesday-the-springsteens-and-abraham-lincoln-contd/

 

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Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Wedding Wednesday: Anna M. Beerbower and Edgar Peter Beerbower in the Springsteen Family Bible

"Memoranda," page 6 of the Springsteen Family Bible record pages. (Click to enlarge.)
“Memoranda,” page 6 of the Springsteen Family Bible record pages. (Click to enlarge.)

Helbling Family, Beerbower Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

We complete our series on the Springsteen Family Bible records with a sad and sweet piece of “Memoranda.”

Transcription:

Inds 9-12-1891

Anna M. Beerbower

Divorced from E. P. Beerbower

Sept. 12-1891 by Judge Harks

================================

Anna M. Beerbower & E. P. Beerbower

Remarried Dec. 26-1908, St. Charles, Mo.

 

These entries reference Anna Missouri (Springsteen) Beerbower, daughter of Jefferson and Anna (Conner) Springsteen, and her husband Edgar Peter Beerbower.

The family story is that “E.P.” Beerbower worked for the railroad, and would be gone for long stretches of time because of his job on the train. The story is that he also came home frequently without a paycheck- possibly due to a drinking or gambling problem or ?? per their granddaughter, Mary Theresa (Helbling) McMurray. Anna would have been left alone frequently, and would have needed to find a way to feed her 3 children. (Anna had 2 other children, one who only lived one day after birth, the other only about two months.) She had family nearby when they were living in Indiana, but after they moved to Illinois- they were in Urbana, Champaign, Illinois before November of 1885, and Cairo, Alexander, Illinois by 17 April 1887- she would have had to care for the family herself.

Less than three years after the death of their last son on the day after his birth, Anna was granted a divorce on 12 September 1891 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Son Robert W. was about 17, Edgar S. about 15, and Anna May just 10 years old. Anna Missouri moved to Indianapolis- probably to be near family- and was living with her sons Robert Warson Beerbower and Edgar Springsteen Beerbower in 1897, when she was listed as a widow in the Indianapolis City Directory. (Anna May was probably there too, but daughters would not have been listed i the city directory.)

By 1900 Anna and her three children had moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Could the move have been to be closer to E.P.? We do not know, and know of no other family in St. Louis but it was a railroad hub. As per the entry above, the two were remarried in 1908. A marriage record has possibly been found for the couple, although it is a hard to read. A marriage record for 28 December 1908 (2 days later than the bible entry) with the husband as “E P Beerbower” and the wife’s name “Mrs. Mae Clore” is in Ancestry’s Missouri Marriage Records 1805-2002 database. Interestingly, the record states that EP Beerbower was from Indianapolis, and “Mrs. Mae Clore” from St. Louis. The wife’s name on this record my have been copied incorrectly, as their granddaughter, who was very close to her grandmother who lived with them, did state that they had remarried, and lived together until EP’s death in 1916.

Don’t you just love happy endings?

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family treasure chest.
  2. Missouri Marriage Record for EP Beerbowere and Mrs. Mae Clore: http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&db=MOmarriages&h=100516

 

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

Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Mystery Monday: Mary G. (Springsteen) Mythen

Mary G. Springsteen marriage to John Mitten from Springsteen Family Bible.
Mary G. Springsteen marriage to John Mithen from Springsteen Family Bible. (Click to enlarge.)

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

 

So just who is Mary G. (Springsteen) Mithen/Mythen? And why is she in our family bible?

 

Mary is listed in the Springsteen Family Bible twice- once as getting married, the second a record of her death.

Mary G. (Springsteen) Mitten death from Springsteen Family Bible. (Click to enlarge.)
Mary G. (Springsteen) Mithen death from Springsteen Family Bible. (Click to enlarge.)

There was (and still is) a St. Patrick’s Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, at that time.

No one other than immediate family members (and their spouses) are mentioned in the bible, plus two grandchildren.

There is no birth record of a Mary G. Springsteen that we have found, but there is a Mary E. Springsteen who was the daughter of Jefferson and Anna M. (Conner) Springsteen. It does not seem logical that they would have a daughter with the first same name and a different middle initial, and there is no record of an additional daughter. Mary E. married Joseph Beckwith in 1872; Mary G. married John Mithen in 188(6?). Mary E. did not have a second marriage that we know of, is buried with family in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis as a Beckwith, and the handwriting in the bible record is clear enough to be the middle initials discussed.

Interestingly, the Indiana Marriage Index 1800-1941 on Ancestry.com lists a Mary A. Galvin who married John Mithen on 25 February 1885 in Marion County, Indiana- the number written in the bible could easily be a 5 instead of a 6. The Galvin name could explain the Mary “G.” Springsteen.

Mary A. Galvin was about 19 when she married John per the marriage record, so she would have been born about 1866, and the bible states she died in 1906.

So was the Mary in our Springsteen Family Bible a Galvin who married first a Springsteen, and then John Mithen? Or was she a Springsteen who married a Galvin, then John Mithen? She was only 19 when she married John, so she would have been a very young widow but that was possible. Or was Galvin just her middle name?

Getting a copy of the marriage record might be of help in learning more about Mary.

It would be interesting to know if she is a married-in, or a Springsteen cousin. Of the Springsteens that we know about, there is no Mary G. Springsteen. Jefferson’s brother Abraham, who also lived in Indianapolis, had only two sons who survived into adulthood per our research.

One last minute bit of research, since doing genealogy is like eating potato chips- you just can’t stop:

FamilySearch has a listing for the marriage of Anna Laurel Mythen, who married Robert Willis Merriam on 23 November 1910 in Medford, Massachusetts. Anna was 20 as was her groom, but she was born in **Indianapolis, Indiana.** Her parents were listed as John Mythen and Mary A. Springsteen. Note that Mary’s middle initial is “A” instead of “G” in this source. Another Massachusetts marriage record states that Anna Laurel’s mother’s middle name was “Agnes.”

The 1910 US Federal Census for Anna L shows her living in the Merriam household, where her future husband is a son. Anna is listed as being born in Indiana, but her parents (John Mythen and Mary Agnes Springsteen) as born in Holland-Dutch! Of course, we do not know who gave that information, and ‘our’ Springsteens have been in America even before it was a country- back into the 1600s. So that does not fit, but otherwise it sure does seem like this is the correct family. But how are they related to ‘our’ Springsteens?

Any light that can be shed on this mystery would be much appreciated!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family treasure chest.
  2. Indiana Marriage Index 1800-1941 on Ancestry.com.
  3. FamilySearch marriage record for Anna Laurel Mythen- “Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N48R-YQP : accessed 12 June 2016), John Mythen in entry for Robert Willis Merriam and Anna Laurel Mythen, 23 Nov 1910; citing Medford, , Massachusetts, United States, State Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 2,315,512.
    https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-63PY-4Z?i=696&wc=3G11-PTL%3A1063288401%3Fcc%3D1469062&cc=1469062

 

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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.
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