This user hasn't shared any biographical information


John McKim, A Tale of Two Wives

For as long as I have been researching, there has always been a debate about who John McKim married, was his wife a Rung or a Nelson. Or was John Mckim married twice? There has been much discussion concerning who John McKim, born 1805 in Centre County, Pennsylvania and died 1867, Mercer County ,Pennsylvania was married to. It would seem that he was married to Henrietta Elizabeth Rung and had at least two children, William Rung McKim, my three times great grandfather, born in 1832 and died during the Civil War in West Virginia, and Henrietta Rung McKim born in 1833 and died in 1881.

Henrietta Rung’s father, George Rung was born in 1777, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and died in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania in 1842. In his will George gives money to his grandson, William R McKim, his granddaughter, Henrietta R McKim and his son-in-law, John McKim. There is no mention of his daughter in the will, is that because she is already deceased? There is also no mention of Robert Alexander McKim, who was born in 1838. Is that because Robert isn’t a blood related grandchild?

“I give and bequeath to Will Rung McKim, one thousand dollars, as soon as he arrives at the age of twenty one years, I also give and bequeath to Henrietta McKim one thousand dollars as soon as she arrives at the age of twenty one. I also bequeath to John McKim fifty dollars two years after my death. . . . . I also desire my son John Rung and my Executor to keep, if he can, William Rung McKim until the age of sixteen years old, keep him in good clothes and give him eighteen months schooling, one year of the schooling to be given at fourteen years old, if he stays until sixteen, he is to let him go to a trade, and if he does not stay until the age of sixteen, he is to have but eight hundred dollars of the foregoing bequest.”

If the above is true, then John McKim remarried to Harriet Nelson and had Robert Alexander McKim, born in 1838, whose death record has Harriet Nelson as his birth mother’s maiden name. Harriet Nelson was previously married to John Adam Lightner and had a daughter, Margaret Jane Lightner in 1834. Harriet’s first husband was deceased about 1835 placing the marriage of John McKim and Harriet between 1835 and 1837. Margaret appears on the 1860s census living in the McKim household with her mother, Harriet, and half-brothers and sisters. Henrietta Rung McKim was already married to Thompson Buckley and William Rung McKim was a widower with a six year old daughter living with her maternal grandparents.

Also from the 1860s Census, you see Harriet McKim living next door to her Nelson relatives and siblings.

Henrietta Rung McKim Buckley inherited 50 dollars from her uncle, John Rung, in his will dated 1877 in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. John was her mother, Henrietta Rung McKim’s brother. No other siblings of Henrietta Rung McKim were mentioned in the will of her uncle. This would probably be because they weren’t related.

In Harriet Nelson McKim’s father’s will dated 1850, Harriet and John McKim are both mentioned. John Nelson was holding a promissory note for money that John McKim had borrowed and was forgiving the debt and leaving additional inheritance to Harriet.


Leave a comment

Photographic Archeology

As a child I wanted to be an archeologist. At some point I changed my mind and decided that becoming an artist of some sort was more in line with what I really wanted to do for a living. I think it had to do with there being a lot less science, math and dirt involved.

Instead in my spare time I do genealogical archeology. Since inheriting my great-great grandmother, Mary Zuver West’s glass negatives, I have been doing a lot more digging around for clues to who the people in her photographs were. From my grandfather, Chester West’s photographs I can accurately determine his siblings in photos and his parents. Every one else is taking more time to determine.

The family would vacation at a camp at Chautauqua Lake during the summer. Here they would boat, relax and enjoy each others company.

zuver_west4th of july circa 1907

I have been trying to determine who the other members of the family are in this photo. Using images from family trees on ancestry, I have come up with a few guesses on some of the people in this photograph.

leander zuver

This is an image of Leander L Zuver, also known as Dick. He was a younger brother to my great-great grandmother and was a photographer in western Pennsylvania. Early in his career he worked for my great-great grandmother and her husband Jacob. I am pretty sure I have him identified correctly in the photograph.

agnes braniff 1867_1949


Leander’s wife was Agnes Braniff. This is a photo of Agnes from an ancestry tree. An educated guess would say she would be in this family photo. I am guess that I may have her identified correctly.


nellie ives zuvercropped

This is a photo of Nellie C Ives Zuver. Her husband was Thomas Wellington Zuver. I am pretty sure that Thomas is in this photo also.



vern leslie zuvercropped

This is photo of Vern Leslie Zuver. Son of Thomas Wellington Zuver and Nellie C Ives Zuver. If father and son resembled each other I am pretty sure that I have Thomas correctly identified in the photograph above. Thomas would have been about 47 years old in the photo above.



George Quincy and Lewis Wilbert are guess by the look of their age. Hopefully someone has photos that can be compared!


1 Comment

Her Question, My Discovery



It seemed like a simple enough question, how was I related to the McKims in Mercer, Pennsylvania? The question came through and I try to answer as many as possible. I sent back information about my third great grandfather, William R McKim that had died in the Civil War.

There were a lot of things about this man that I knew and could confirm. He had been in the war and died in Virginia. He married my third great grandmother that was a Kilgore, in Oberlin, Ohio. That both of them had been going to Oberlin College at the time of their marriage. And that he had artistic skills, from the drawings that he had signed and left in the family bible. I knew his wife had died a couple of years before he did. And I knew my orphaned great-great grandmother was raised by her mother’s family.

I couldn’t confirm that his father was John “Adam” McKim and his mother Henrietta or Harriet. Logic placed him in the family from location, and his birth year. Nothing else solidly placed him, and what I determined to be his younger sister, in the family of 5 other children living in Mercer.

That was until the email conversation with my now new cousin. As we traded communications, she wrote that William was mentioned in his grandfather, George Rung’s will. George Rung lived in Petersburg, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania and was a tanner and a county Burgess. Not only did this confirm William’s name but corrected the maiden name that I had for his mother.

William’s mother was Harriet Rung, not Nelson as I had thought. She and her husband, John McKim, are mentioned in George Rung’s will. All six of his living children were included in his will, but only four of his grandchildren received notice.

His daughter Henrietta’s first born child, William Rung McKim seemed to be a major focus of his attention. Aside from the one thousand dollars that he would get at the age of 21, he would also be clothed until the age of 16 and schooled for 18 months. He was to be trained in a trade until he turned 16 or he would only receive eight hundred dollars at 21. Henrietta, William’s sister, would also receive one thousand dollars when she reached the age of 21.

George Rung would leave one thousand dollars to his grandson Lewis G Mytinger and five hundred to his oldest grandson John Farringer Rung when they both reached the age of 21. He didn’t show the same concern for these grandsons’ continuing education and training as he did with William.

William would attend Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio in 1853, at the age of 21. While in Oberlin he would marry Sydney Isabella McKim, who was also attending college at Oberlin. Their only child, Lilly, would be born shortly before their first anniversary.

Lilly would be left an orphan by the time she turned 7. Her mother would pass when she was three from illness and she would go to live with her maternal grandparents. Her father would die in the Civil war just 4 short years later.

Leave a comment

West Studio, 66 Main Street

My great-great grandmother’s glass negatives have pushed me to do more in depth searching on her life. I have tried over the past several years to determine where the West Photography studio at 66 Main Street and the last studio, Mrs. West’s, on Congress Street in Bradford were located. Over the years the streets in Bradford were renumbered making it more difficult to pinpoint.

In my hunt for information I found a couple of articles using on fires that were on Main Street in the late 1800s. The Baker-Whitehead building would catch fire for the first time in February of 1896 where the West studio was located. The fire damaged the West studio and when the studio was reopened, Mary West would be in charge. Mr. Whitehead was in favor of erecting a brick building but was waiting on consent from the Baker heirs to start construction. From what was to happen just a few months later, I don’t think the building was repaired with brick.

The second article, from the fire that would happen in June, detailed which shops burned and in what order they caught fire. According to the article in June 1896, the Bay State Hotel, 72 and 74 Main, next to the Zook building started burning. From all accounts the fire had started in the Zook building, 70 Main Street. The West studio was located at 66 Main Street, in the Baker-Whitehead Building, on the west side of the Zook building. The fire was so hot that buildings across the street started to smoke and residents helped wet the fronts of the buildings down to keep them from catching fire. From the Bay State hotel east, Nick Asselto’s Little Casino cigar store, then McCourt’s restaurant were also consumed and the Tammaro building gutted. The fire spread in both directions, consuming 68 Main Street and then burning through the West Studio, on the third floor, at 66 Main. The Sondheim building, 62 and 64 Main, on the west side of the Baker-Whitehead building, crashed to the ground destroyed.FIRE 1896 Bradford1895_Sheet6 (2)

I had purchased a book about Main Street’s buildings from the Bradford Landmark Society and searched through it for clues from the story that could tie to the articles on the buildings. There was an article about the Baker building, which use to be the location of J. R. Evans men’s clothing store, and it mentioned that it was next to what was the Bay State Hotel. Current residents can still see the Bay State name on the top of the old hotel building which has housed many different stores in the first floor, including Fannin’s bridal shop where I had worked years ago.

Penn State University Library has a collection of searchable maps that include fire risk assessment maps that show the location of buildings and the street addresses. Some of the maps note the type of businesses that were located in each of the buildings. I can tell from those maps the exact location of 66 Main street and can even see the note for the building having 3 stories and a photo studio in the building. In 1896 there were 7 store fronts in what now has three buildings that would only encompass the width of 6 store fronts. The Zook building is long gone, squeezed out between the Baker building and the Bay State Hotel.

jacob and mary studio 66 main

Grandmother West moved the business to Congress Street following the second fire. From newspaper accounts there were legal issues with starting the rebuild of the Baker-Whitehead building that caused a delay of several months. From other maps on the PSU site I can determine where she would conduct business until retiring.

Leave a comment

The 115 Year Old Collaboration


I wonder what my great-great grandmother would think about, had she known 115 years ago, that her great-great granddaughter would one day be carefully scanning her glass negatives on to her computer. We take pictures, share them with friends and relatives and usually give very little thought to generations in the future rummaging through stacks of unmarked photos, trying to learn a bit more about us and our daily life.

platesI have learned a lot about her, a glimpse into her personality and snapshots into the way she lived. Without a doubt, her skill and eye for photography comes through in the shots I assume she took for her own pleasure and experimentation. She loved light and texture and traveled by train to many locations to take landscape photos that pull you into the image. She was known in town as an experienced photographer of women and children. She adored her son, his wife and her grandchildren and their images show in many of the existing glass negatives.

I enjoy those negatives she might have thrown out, one showed her slender fingers imprinted on the negative, making me wonder if she caught the negative before it had slipped to the ground and broke. Others show her shadow, boater hat firmly planted on her head, which she would have cropped out when printing. You get a quick glimpse of her in another negative, her tall thin reflection appearing in the window behind her grandson.

To get the images scanned onto my computer would require the purchase of a professional scanner and hours of careful scanning. Internet research turned up a supplier for archival negative holders and boxes. Adobe Bridge let me catalogue the negatives for research and grouping. Each bit of research gave a sharper picture of this creative multi-faceted lady and the locations around where I grew up.scanning

After scanning and cataloguing slides I determined that I wanted to frame one for the house. The hard part was then to decide which one. I played with multiple images, cropping and sizing and purchased a wide format photo printer to see the results of the collaboration. The detail from the small 4 by 4 inch glass negative surprised me, and it held up when enlarged to images over 13 by 22 inches.

I chose a photo of the Olean, New York boat launch taken around 1900. The water on the river was so still that it perfectly reflected all that surrounded its banks. Mounted and framed it now hangs where it can be enjoyed by the next generation, a 115 year old collaboration of two related artistic personalities. Priceless.


Leave a comment

The Daily Dig

When I was little I thought that being an archaeologist would be a really neat thing to do. Then I learned about how much math and science was needed and being hot, dirty, frustrated and tired and decided maybe archaeology wasn’t for me. What I didn’t realize then was how many different ways there were to do historical research.

kids in yard

Now that I am older and completely fascinated with genealogy, I am feeding that enthusiastic archaeologist child in me with digging in my families’ historical dirt. I have been scanning glass slides that my great great photographer grandmother, Mrs. West, took, digging for clues to her life in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She adored her grandchildren, especially the ones that lived locally, which is evident in the number and creativity of the slides including them.

One photo stood out to me, begging for location identification. There were the grandchildren, playing in the front yard of a house, in what I was guessing was Bradford, Pennsylvania.

294 e main 2015 across street

I looked up the address of the children’s mother and entered it into Google earth. From the street view, I located the address and looked across the street to see if the houses matched the ones in the photograph. I had found the location, even though a couple of the houses had been torn down and a street inserted, three of the five houses still stood in the same place.294 e main 2015

I spun the Google street view around to see where the children would have been standing. With my mother’s memory of her grandmother’s house, we had the location. Even the electric pole was still in the same spot as it was in 1907, 108 years ago. From Mom’s memory, even the yellow paint on the enclosed sun porch has never been changed through all of the owners of the house. The sidewalk has been changed from wood to concrete and a railing added to the steps to the street.


She must have taken the photo from the enclosed sun porch of her daughter-in-laws house from the angle of the photograph, I can’t match the buildings exactly using the Google earth image..


Leave a comment

Mount Alton School, 1912, Lafayette, Pennsylvania

Documents and photos scatter repeatedly with the death of each generation. What was once a treasured bit of history becomes an unknown piece of historical data tossed in the bottom of a drawer, eventually to be thrown away in a housecleaning.

Leah Van Houtte, top row on right Amos Van Houtte, front row, second on left John Van Houtte, front row, second on left

I remember it being suggested that I write the names of classmates down on the back of school photos. I also remember thinking, why that was necessary, I know who they are and could name them all off. Looking back now, 45 years later, no one seems to remember who that one little blonde in the photo was or that shy looking kid in the back.

I have been gathering information for a family book on my Van Houtte ancestors. I asked my cousins if they had any photos that I could include in the book. One cousin shared with me a photo of the Mt. Alton School children in 1912. The Mt. Alton School was located in Lafayette, Pennsylvania, an area now that is dominated by the Bradford Regional Airport. Property that my great grandfather owned is now a part of the airport property. My grandfather, great uncle and great aunt are in the photo, along with 30 other nameless children.

I am pretty sure among those children are the children of Peter DePrater. Peter was my great grandfather’s sponsor. The DePraters were from Belgium and had lived in Tourcoing, France, where my great grandmother’s family also had lived. Immigrants had to have someone state side that would be responsible for them and their integration into America. Peter and his wife Adele had been living in Pennsylvania for almost 15 years before my great grandfather and his family decided to try their luck in the United States. Peter and Adele would have 11 children, 8 of which were born in New York or Pennsylvania.

Of the 11 children, there is a great possibility that five of the DePrater children could be in this picture. Mary Margaret, 14 years old, Victor, 12 years old, Madeline, 10 years old, Fanny, 8 years old and Anna at 5 years.

Leah Van Houtte, top row on right
Amos Van Houtte, front row, second on left
John Van Houtte, front row, second on right

, , , , ,

Leave a comment