Sibling Saturday: Olive Beerbower and Mary Emma Beerbower

Ollie Beerbower and Caspar Beerbower
Ollie Beerbower and Caspar Beerbower, children of Samuel and Jane Huggins Beerbower. Courtesy of Marion County [Ohio] Historical Society. c mid 1860s? (Click to enlarge.) 
Beerbower Family-

Mary Emma Beerbower and Olive Beerbower were not siblings, but instead, children of two siblings, our direct ancestor Eleazer John “E. J.” Beerbower (1815-1882) and his brother, Samuel Beerbower (1824-1890); this made them cousins.

Olive Beerbower was the daughter of Samuel Beerbower (1824-1890) and  Nance “Jane” Huggins Beerbower (1834-1930- she was 96 when she died!). Born on 13 March 1855 in Prospect, Marion County, Ohio, Olive was the first of three children born to Samuel and his wife.

Olive probably helped out at home when her brother, Caspar Samuel Beerbower, pictured above, was born four years later, in 1859.

“Ollie” as she was affectionately known, grew up in Marion, Ohio with her brother.  They lived next to her uncle E. J. and his family, and she would have played with her cousins, particularly Mary Emma Beerbower, who was just 3 years older, but who only had brothers. Ollie’s father was a marble cutter, and they likely were fairly comfortable, as the 1860 census notes that he owned $1500 in real estate and had $850 in personal value. Her uncle E. J. was also a highly skilled craftsman, as he was a buggy upholsterer. Neither family was rich, but they probably had enough to get by.

Mary "Emma" Beerbower and her brother John Eleazer Beerbower
Mary “Emma” Beerbower and her brother John Eleazer Beerbower, children of Eleazer John Beerbower and Matilda Louise McKelvey Beerbower, c late 1860s? Courtesy of Marion County [Ohio] Historical Society. (Click to enlarge.)
Mary Emma Beerbower, or “Emma” as she was called (Germans often used their middle name on a daily basis, rather than their first Christian name), was the daughter of Eleazer John Beerbower and Matilda Louise McKelvey Beerbower. She was the eighth of nine children, born 10 March 1852 in Marion. Her brother John E. Beerbower, above, was the baby of the family.

The early 1860s were an unsettling time for both families, as it was for the whole nation as southern states seceded and war broke out to preserve the Union. Emma’s brother and Ollie’s cousin, Samuel T. Beerbower, decided to enlist for a term of 3 years in the Union Army beginning October 23, 1861; he was just 19, and 10 years older than Emma. The Underground Railroad operated through Ohio, and much of the state had northern sympathies. The family would have closely followed the news of battles and Samuel’s unit, hoping to not hear the bad news so dreaded by families who have members serving their country.

The terror of the War of the Rebellion really came home to Ohio in July of 1863, when Morgan’s Confederates entered southern Ohio as part of their 46-day, 1,000 mile raid through Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. Thankfully the Raiders did not get as far north as Marion, but they were close enough, and people were afraid they might get that far. Although captured in Ohio (but they escaped), the Confederate Raiders successfully diverted Union troops from southern campaigns, and definitely did strike fear into the population as part of the psychological warfare of the time. Ollie was just eight, Emma eleven- it must have been very frightening to children, especially with so many young men away fighting, and not there to protect their families.

Even more frightening was what happened next, just four months after the Raiders hit Ohio-  Samuel T., who had fought in many of the War’s battles, was wounded on November 25, 1863. He was charging up the mountain bravely at Mission Ridge, Georgia, when a ball went through him near his shoulder blade and spine, lacking an inch or so of paralyzing him from his chest down for life. He spent three months recuperating in military hospitals, until his arm was more usable, and then requested a discharge home to more fully recover. It was granted, and he mustered out March 23, 1864. It must have been quite a homecoming!

Emma’s brother Stephen Russell Beerbower, age 19, enlisted just six weeks after his brother Samuel T. came home. Emma was probably heartbroken, but grateful that her two little brothers were too young to enlist.

And then Ollie’s nine-year-old world really fell apart- her father, Samuel Beerbower, enlisted in the Union Army on the same day, in the same unit as Stephen: May 2, 1864, Co. B, 136th Ohio.

The mix of emotions must have been so difficult for the two girls- pride in their family serving the Union (and going to get those Rebs who hurt their Samuel!), fear for the safety of their loved ones, especially after seeing Samuel’s injury, and that hole in their heart as the 136th Ohio marched off to war.

Why would they enlist- especially Samuel, at age 39, and a husband and father?

As the war continued and more soldiers were needed, conscription was begun in 1863 for men between 20 and 45 years old. Samuel was thus eligible- maybe he enlisted, knowing that he might be drafted, or perhaps he felt he needed to help the Union finally win the war.  All the men in his unit were mustered in on that same date, with those in higher positions knowing the Union was preparing to launch a massive campaign on many fronts to try to finally end the war.

Samuel and Stephen had 100-day enlistments, and those units generally did guard duty at facilities and strategic places, such as Washington, D.C., freeing up the trained troops for actual fighting elsewhere. It wasn’t quite as dangerous as being in the field, though at times it could be a dangerous, possibly even lethal, situation.


It was probably a very long 100 days for the whole family, including Ollie and Emma.


To be continued…



Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) 1860 US Federal Census for Samuel Beerbower: Year: 1860; Census Place: Marion, Marion, Ohio; Roll: M653_1006; Page: 326; Image: 123; Family History Library Film: 805006. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

2) Morgan’s Raid:

3) Civil War conscription:

4) Wilson Peters, who would later become Samuel T. Beerbower’s brother-in-law, was in the 136th Ohio as well. There are other familiar last names on the roster as well, which shows that the company was tight-knit, and all from the same area.

5) See “Those Places Thursday: Bertha Beatrice Beerbower and her World Travels” to learn more about Ollie’s youngest sister Bertha.


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Census Sunday- New Clues Concerning Little Johnny Beerbower

1910 US Federal Census for Josephine Janis (Jane Elizabeth Cockrell Beerbower) showing the number of children born to her and still living.
1910 US Federal Census for Josephine Janis (Jane Elizabeth Cockrell Beerbower) showing the number of children born to her and still living.

We can’t say this issue is solved yet, but asking the question prompted more research in a different way, and gave us a few more pieces of data.

In my Mystery Monday post of 17 Nov 2014, a newspaper story generated two questions:

1) What is the actual birth date of the little Johnny Beerbower named in the story?

2) Is this another, unknown child of the Beerbowers who died before or in 1884, or is this actually John Percy Beerbower, born 18 Jan 1885?

Census information would be one of the few places I could document this child, but since the parents married in 1881 and little Johnny possibly died before 1885 (before John Percy Beerbower was born), he would not be listed with the family in any decennial census. But there is one very useful piece of data in only 3 censuses- in 1890, 1900, and 1910, the census asked all women the number of children born to them, and the number still living. (In 1940, only married women who were part of those getting the supplemental questions were asked this.)

Over the years, I had not been able to find any censuses for Elsie Janis and her mother after Elsie’s birth in 1889, even though I searched for years in various places. I wanted to verify the number of children born to Josephine in the 1900 and 1910 censuses to answer the questions about Johnny Beerbower, and wanted to find later censuses to see what information could be gleaned from them. (Josephine died in 1930 so the 1940 census would not have even been a possibility for more information about the number of children born to her.) The reasons these other censuses have been elusive are many:

1) As Elsie was in the theater, it is hard to know where they might have been on census day.

Elsie Janis in The Hoyden, 1897, age 16.
Elsie Janis in The Hoyden, 1897, age 16. From an unknown magazine.

2) There is no available 1890 census in Ohio that can give us clues as to where their home may have been that year when Elsie was just 1 year old, and her brother Percy 5.

3) Since Elsie was just 11 in 1900, we would need to search for her parents. The Head of Household would probably have been her mother, as her parents separated though we do not know exactly when. Her mother traveled with Elsie as her Stage Manager, while her father continued at his job, possibly in Marion, Ohio. I have searched unsuccessfully using both her mother and father’s names.

4) Searching for Elsie’s mother was also a challenge- she herself had wanted to be on the stage, and had many names throughout the years. She was born Jane Elizabeth Cockrell, went by Jennie E. Cockrell when she was married, and settled on Josephine Janis once Elsie became famous.

5) Spellings of course varied widely, as did indexing of these family names: Beerbower vs Bierbower, etc.

Yesterday’s look on happily turned up the family in the 1920 census, and I was then able to find the image on (Why this time? I was using the same terms previously used.) Knowing some of the servant’s names from 1920 helped me to actually find the 1930 image- it did not come up in a search for Elsie nor Josephine. The chauffeur’s name, Frank Reme, from the 1920 household was the clue that led me finally to the 1930 census for Elsie and her mother, as he still worked for them. (Gotta love the FAN Club research concept, and loyal employees.)

I was still looking for 1900 and 1910 census entries for Elsie and Josephine Janis. The search engines smiled favorably, possibly because of the other hits, and I found their 1910 enumeration. In 1910, Josephine was listed as having had two children, with only one surviving. John Percy Beerbower died in 1907, so he would be the child not living per this census. So more questions: Was the 1910 census information provided by a servant in the household or neighbor, or even Elsie (head of household at age 20) who only knew of the two children since she was the last born? Or did Josephine not include a previous child, possibly the “little Johnny Beerbower” of the newspaper article, because the pain of the loss was so great, or maybe he was born a ‘bit early’? Or do we have an incorrect birth date for John Percy, and “little Johnny” is really John Percy (who was called Percy)?

Still searching for the family in the 1900 census… newspaper articles of the birth of little Johnny might also be available, though they have not yet turned up in any searches I have done. Maybe the search engines will smile favorably again when the planets align properly.



Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Original post:

2) Bucyrus, Ohio, where John E. Beerbower and Jennie Cockrell were married, is just about 18 miles north of Marion, Ohio.

3) Excellent write-up concerning the censuses that ask about number of children born and still living: “What census years asked women about childbirth?” on Genealogy Today at

4) 1910 US Federal Census for Elsie and Josephine Janis: Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Columbus Ward 12, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T624_1183; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0176; FHL microfilm: 1375196. Accessed via on 11/20/14.

5) 1920 US Federal Census for Elsie and Josephine Janis: Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: North Tarrytown, Westchester, New York; Roll: T625_1276; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 68; Image: 599.  Accessed via on 11/20/14.

6) 1930 US Federal Census for Elsie and Josephine Janis: Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California; Roll: 124; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 0822; Image: 258.0; FHL microfilm: 2339859.   Accessed via on 11/20/14.


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Mystery Monday: What is the Birth Date of Little Johnny Beerbower?

This entry is part 4 of 1 in the series The Beerbower-MacElvey Family
24 July 1883 visit of Mrs. Jennie Beerbower and her son Johnny to Samuel T. Beerbower. The Marion Daily Star (Marion OH), volume VI, number242, page 6, column 2 .
24 July 1883 visit of Mrs. Jennie Beerbower and her son Johnny to Samuel T. Beerbower. “The Marion Daily Star” (Marion OH), volume VI, number 242, page 6, column 2 .

This 1883 article in The Marion Star is curious, for it seems to describe the visit of Jane Elizabeth (Cockrell) Beerbower (1857-1930) with her little son John Beerbower. The problem is that all the birth dates I have found for their only known son, Percy John, state that he was born 18 Jan 1885- two years AFTER this news story.

Johnny Beerbower, the popular young clerk in the Post Office, is John Eleazer Beerbower (1858-1929). He did live with his brother Samuel Taylor Beerbower’s family and is enumerated  there in the 1880 census on 19 Jun 1880. Johnny was listed as a clerk in the Postmaster’s Office, and Samuel was listed as the Postmaster. (Surely no nepotism here…) So that part of the story fits well.

Sometime in 1880 Johnny moved to Indianapolis from Marion, Ohio, and on 01 May 1881 he married Jane Elizabeth Cockrell, also known as Jennie.

One explanation for the above story might be that the young John that visited was actually a first child named after his father who died young, after this visit. Then son Percy John may have been born on 18 Jan 1885. Another scenario is that little “Johnny” and Percy John are one and the same. I have never seen Percy John called “John” but that is not impossible in German households, where people switched first and middle names back and forth, often throughout their lives. Jane Elizabeth used various names throughout her life too, including Jennie as a young woman, and later Josephine Janis.

It is interesting that the issue of little Johnny never came up in my research before, as I have read quite a lot about this family while searching for sibling information on Edgar Peter Beerbower, my direct ancestor and brother to Johnny Eleazer Beerbower, Jennie’s husband. I have done extensive research on their daughter Elsie Janis, born Elsie Beerbower in 1889, who was a comedienne, actress, singer, impersonator, song and screenplay writer who began her career on the stage as a young child. She was wildly popular and famous at the turn of the twentieth century, and was later known as “The Sweetheart of the A.E.F.” (American Expeditionary Forces, who went to Europe to help fight WWI). Elsie and her mother travelled to Europe during World War I to entertain the troops- there was no support from the military, Elsie put her career on hold, paid for the trips herself, and traveled on ships across the Atlantic that could have been easily sunk by German submarines. See Wishful Wednesday: Elsie Janis for a bit more information about Elsie, and I will have more in upcoming posts about her life.

If anyone out there has more information that could help solve this mystery, please contact us!


Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Mrs. Jennie Beerbower visit: The Marion Daily Star (Marion, OH), volume VI, number 242, page 6, column 2. Posted with kind permission of the newspaper.

2) 1880 US Federal Census for the Samuel T. Beerbower household: Year: 1880; Census Place: Marion, Marion, Ohio; Roll: 1046; Family History Film: 1255046; Page: 197B; Enumeration District: 099; Image: 0720. Accessed 11/5/14 on

3) Wishful Wednesday: Elsie Janis:

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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.