Life has been so busy lately that I haven’t had as much time to play with the ancestors. We moved into a larger house and moved mom in with us. Of course all of the moving things around in a house lived in for 50+ years was bound to uncover something. In the back corner, on a shelf, in a room that I grew up in long ago, I found an old blue box and dragged it out, dust and all.
When I peaked into the box, from my doubled up position under the eaves, I spotted what looked to be an old photo album. I put the box into a pile I was building to take downstairs for further inspection.
Once I got the top off the box, I realized that I had found my grandfather’s old photo album; including pictures of my grandmother holding my mother as a baby. What really surprised me, tucked into that box, was a glass negative from my great great grandmother’s collection. Mary Zuver West, 1851 – 1936, was a professional photographer in Bradford during the late 1800s to early 1900s. She learned the trade from her husband, Jacob West, whose German uncle Francis Eyth continued the family business of photography in the states once settling here from Germany in the mid 1800s. Francis had a photography gallery in Butler for years before engaging in the hotel business in Slippery Rock.
Mary was known for her photographs of women and children. This photo shows a woman with a bicycle. My grandfather had pulled it from the rack of old negatives and had inserted it in the box of family photos. I wonder if the reason he had kept it out was because of the interesting composition or if it was a family member.
I have been indexing 1940 Census records as a volunteer on Family Search. Most of the records don’t cause me to pause and look for more information except for this one today. As I keyed in information I noticed something for the first time. The female was listed as Head of the family and her husband was still living. This was the first time I was typing into the index the word Husband.
By this time my curiosity was peaked and I scrolled to the right on the image to see what was the reasoning behind the order of the household listed. There on the occupation line was listed, Judge, County Court. Her full name is Hon. Lois Mary Downs McBride. She was born about 1891 and was 49 years old in 1940 when the Census was taken. She lived just outside of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. She was appointed judge June 5, 1934 of the County Court of Allegheny Countyand on November 4, 1934 she was elected to the same office for a 10 year term.
Ancestry.com has completed posting all of the states for browsing. They are not having volunteers doing indexing, although Family Search is and I have joined that group of volunteers. You can pick a state but the pages you get will be from random counties.
Ancestry.com has announced the completion of the first two states indexed, Nevada and Delaware.
Tomorrow morning all 1940 U.S. Census images will be available for browsing.
I have been volunteering my time this past week with indexing my favored state, Pennsylvania.
A couple of days ago I submitted information to be considered for the ancestry.com 1940 Aces program. As an Ancestry.com Ace, I will be the first to receive information about our site and our content in the coming weeks. And I will be sharing it with you here.
Basic information that I have been asked to share is -
The National Archives and Records Administration will open the 1940 U.S. Federal Census on April 2, 2012—the first time this collection will be made available to the public. Once we receive the census, we will begin uploading census images to our site so the public can browse them. Initially, this collection will be what we call a browse-only collection. This means a person can scroll through the pages of the census districts much like you would look at a microfilm or a book. At the same time, we will be working behind the scenes to create an index of the census that will eventually allow people to search for their family members by name as they currently can with all other censuses on Ancestry.com. Note also that the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be accessible free of charge throughout 2012 on Ancestry.com.
I will have access to experiment with the enumeration district maps for 1940 that were just posted on Ancestry.com and will let you know what I discover.
I decided to purchase the new Family Tree Maker and received it in short order a week ago. I loaded the application, which took a little bit of time, and opened it to see the differences. The dashboard when first opened has changed a bit, it gives you a lot of information on your file, who you last worked on and what is or isn’t uploaded to ancestry.com.
My favorite thing so far has been the ability to display all of the children from multiple marriages for an individual. The first time I tried the show blended family I noticed the little man with the hat, beside him was his spouse, if the children were from the displayed marriage. He showed alone with children from a different spouse. His spouse would show alone with children from her different relationships.
Several of my husband’s relatives had his, hers and theirs children. This usually meant flipping from one connection to another to determine if this or that person was a half, whole or no blood relation.
The extended family chart is also an interesting addition. This is the first time that I noticed that adopted and birth parents are listed in a tree, along with ex spouses. It is like life, a little messy but complete.
It has been a busy year and in the background of all of today’s noise has run the continued search for Marjorie West. Seventy-five years later there is still a hole in the fabric of the family, never mended, it has remained, unsolved. It is an unimaginable feeling for families with missing children, there they had been, warm and sweet, tangible. After the event they remain, like a mirage that cannot be touched, even seventy-five years down the road, frozen in time.
I spoke with a Pennsylvania state trooper early last summer about Marjorie’s disappearance. I was contacted by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and told that if a police case could be found or one opened that they would enter Marjorie into the Center’s database back in November of 2010. So I called and talked to the state trooper. He in turn contacted my mother, took pictures and a cheek swipe for DNA and started the paperwork trail. No amount of hunting turned up any old police files anywhere, so it was a matter of starting from scratch.
A case was started and by July, Marjorie was listed with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. From here she would be given a case worker and listed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. By August she had her case worker at the NCMEC. I spoke with him yesterday, to fill him in on what I have heard over the years about the family. I gave him mom’s number to call and talk to for more information.
My grandfather searched for weeks, long after the man hunt was called off, returning home late into the night. Three small children sat on the porch steps waiting for him, but they knew each night, from the slope of his shoulders, he didn’t find the little girl with the bouncing red curls. Yesterday I ran across an ad being run in Europe that best represented the feeling of the family. The video showed the doors of an elevator. On the door was a life size image of a little girl. As the door opened, sliding back out of sight, the little girl appeared to disappear into thin air.
I marvel at families who can remain in tack and close over multiple generations. Everyone is always included in celebrations, petty differences tossed aside and forgotten. I wonder if it is the stern matriarch at the helm, herding her flock together with no excuses that maintains that closeness.
My ancestor’s families were large; my great grandfather Van Houtte coming from a family of eight and his wife Mary Clemence also from a family of eight. My grandfather was one of four children and his wife one of eight. Closeness with the families left in Europe started to deteriorate with the move to the states. The language barrier increased the difficulty and once my great grandmother died the tie was completely broken.
My grandmother wasn’t close with her siblings; she selectively spoke to or ignored family members for one reason or another, effectively breaking any tie the cousins might have to one another. Years later I would find out that people I sat next to in class were actually my second cousins. My grandfather and his siblings had inheritance troubles at the core of their family trouble.
My great grandfather, from all accounts, was as they say “tighter than wallpaper to the wall and meaner than a rattlesnake.” Before his death he told his two sons, George and John, that he had taken care of all of the family, his three sons and daughter. They had nothing to worry about.
I knew both great Uncle George and great Uncle Johnny. My most vivid memory of Uncle George was of him coming to the house to see me when I came home from college. He always had a hundred dollar bill rolled up in his hand that he would shove into mine. “Shh, don’t tell anyone,” he would say to me. I don’t know if he knew just how broke I was, but the money sure was appreciated.
Uncle Johnny was as thrifty as his father. He was never one to pass up a fabulous deal. Story goes that he showed up at my grandfather’s house with a shiny new pair of shoes on. When the shoes were admired he finally confessed that although a great bargain, they were too small and hurting his feet.
I can never remember meeting my Aunt Leah and once I heard this story I began to realize exactly why. Before my great grandfather’s death he had moved from Mt. Alton into town and was living with Leah, who was married to Milford Kenneth Hullihen and living on High Street in Bradford. After his death the brothers went to their sisters house to discuss what had been left them by their father. Leah told them they didn’t have a cut of the money and as far as they were concerned she was dead. She threw them off of the property and shut the door.
Several years later, she reappeared at my grandfather’s door. A stranger to the child, her nephew that opened the door, he watched, puzzled, at this sobbing woman. The money was gone, spent on houses and cars and whatever else came along. My grandfather listened silently and when her tale was done, replied that his sister was dead and closed the door.
My great grandmother’s house was to be sold when all of her children were married and the money divided equally between the siblings. George never married; my grandfather lived in the house with his family until my great Uncle George died in 1980. The stipulation was that the house would always have a room in it that belonged to George. The one thing he was trying to prevent happened anyway; Leah would get her portion of the sale of the house.
Prior to Uncle George’s death, in 1978, at my grandfather’s 50th wedding anniversary, the siblings finally forgave each other when my great Aunt Leah came to the family celebration.