Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Photo Of Great-Great Granny?

We are very lucky to have quite a few photos from my Flynn family. Some were in the bible that belonged to my gg-grandfather, Edward Flynn and some belonged to his daughter. Having scanned them all into my computer, I sometimes go through the files, studying them. The first thing I noticed was that most of Edward's daughters have round faces, as you can see in the labeled and dated photos of Cora and Elsie.

I also noticed that a photo from an earlier generation, a carte de visite (CDV), also featured a woman with a round face.

This photo is labeled “lissie.” I now think that this could be a photo of Edward's wife and Cora's and Elsie's mother. Her name was Sarah Elizabeth (Clemens) Flynn. I know that she went by Lizzie from newspaper accounts of her. [1-4] Looking through my newspaper accounts to find sources for “Lizzie” I actually one that refers to her as “Lissie.” [5]

I had noticed “lissie's” round face before, but I suppose I was prejudiced against this being my Lizzie because the pulled back hair and the large dress made me assume this was an older woman. While it is difficult to accurately judge the age of the woman in the photo, I can at least narrow down when the photo was taken. CDVs were popular during the 1860s and as far as I can tell, and admitting I'm no expert, the hairstyle, dress and sleeve style are appropriate to the time period of the photo and the album (1860s). [6] Lizzie and Edward married in 1866 after he returned from serving in the Civil War and we think the bible may have been a wedding present.

I now feel pretty confident in supposing that “lissie” is, in fact, my Lizzie. Thinking about the round face, I remembered another photo also in the bible along with the “lissie” photo of another woman with a round face.

This photo was labeled “aunt sarah.” It just so happened that Lizzie had an Aunt Sarah, her father's sister, Sarah (Clemens) Imhoff. This woman looks older than Lizzie and the photo seems to be from the same period as the “lissie” photo, and actually all of the photos in the album (all CDVs and no photos clearly from a later period). If that is correct then it would seem that the round face seen in Edward and Lizzie's daughters could have come from the Clemens side of the family.

  1. “Oshtemo,” Kalamazoo [Kalamazoo, Michigan] Evening Telegraph, 27 February 1902, page 4, column 6, digital images, Kalamazoo Public Library ( accessed 26 June 2012), Kalamazoo Telegraph Collection.
  2. “Oshtemo,” Kalamazoo [Kalamazoo, Michigan] Evening Telegraph, 6 March 1902, page 4, column 7, digital images, Kalamazoo Public Library ( accessed 26 June 2012), Kalamazoo Telegraph Collection.
  3. “To Mrs. Schmidt and Family, In Memory of Freda,” Kalamazoo [Kalamazoo, Michigan] Evening Telegraph, 5 October 1905, page 11, column 4, digital images, Kalamazoo Public Library ( accessed 26 June 2012), Kalamazoo Telegraph Collection.
  4. “Wedding At Oshtemo,” Kalamazoo [Kalamazoo, Michigan] Evening Telegraph, 8 July 1907, page 7, column 5, digital images, Kalamazoo Public Library ( accessed 26 June 2012), Kalamazoo Telegraph Collection.
  5. “Oshtemo,” Kalamazoo [Kalamazoo, Michigan] Evening Telegraph, 17 October 1901, page 4, column 5, digital images, Kalamazoo Public Library ( accessed 26 June 2012), Kalamazoo Telegraph Collection.
  6. Joan Severa, Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840-1900, (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press,1995), p. 194-197, 259.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Would You Like Eggs With That?

I think I now understand why eggs became a part of the traditional American breakfast. Now that we have chickens and they have matured enough to begin laying, not a day has gone by that there hasn't been at least one egg in the nesting boxes. We've been getting eggs for about a month now and “the girls” have been producing 4-5 eggs per day for the last week. I expect it won't be long before we'll be getting a half dozen each day, one from each hen.

One of our first eggs.

The eggs are beginning to pile up, despite making my own spƤtzle (a type of eggy German pasta), fried egg sandwiches, omelets, quiche, fried eggs on potato pancakes (I had to use up the potatoes from the garden) and even grilled cheese sandwiches with an egg on the side. What I'm trying to say is that if you have chickens, even just a few, you will quickly be overwhelmed by eggs. The only solution is to eat them, sell them or both.

A couple of double-yolkers.  Not pictured, the green beans from the garden.

I don't know about you, but most of my ancestors were farmers. Those that had enough land to appear in the agricultural census left us records of how many chickens they had and how many dozen eggs they produced in the year. Those that had less land probably still had chickens because they are easy to raise (after the initial setup) and eat garden scraps. Now when I have watermelon rinds, grapes with a couple of bug holes or split tomatoes that I don't have time to do anything with I give them to the girls and they are happy to convert them into fresh eggs. Because of this, I would be surprised if any of my ancestors not living in the city didn't have at least a few chickens. And did I mention that when you have chickens you get eggs? And when you have eggs, you have breakfast. . . and lunch. . . and dinner.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Michigan Soldier's Home

If you have soldiers who lived in Michigan in your family tree it's possible they ended up in the Old Soldier's Home in Grand Rapids at one point or another. So far, I have found three people from my tree in the database. Some soldiers died in the home and some resided there for a while and then left. One of my soldiers was in and out of the home several times. Widows of soldiers could also apply for admission. It was not necessary that a soldier served from the state of Michigan, only that he lived in the state.

It's easy to determine if one of your people spent time in the Soldier's Home with the free Veterans database  provided by the West Michigan Genealogical Society (WMGS). You can also check the Find A Grave site to see if one of your men was buried in the Soldier's Home cemetery

I first became aware of the Soldier's Home through a newspaper account. My gg-grandmother's brother, Solon Lane, walked to Kalamazoo from Van Buren county after quarreling with his girlfriend. His sister wouldn't admit him to her home so the proprietor of the Columbia House took him in for the night. Lane said he would walk to Hastings where he had friends. [1] Upon reaching Hastings, Solon Lane appeared before the probate judge bearing his honorable discharge certificate from his Civil War service and wearing his tattered army jacket. He asked to be sent to the Soldier's Home. The papers were summarily filled out and Lane was put aboard a train for Grand Rapids. He reportedly said “that at last his request to be 'buried alongside the old boys' when he died would be granted.” [2]

If you are fortunate enough to find one of your people in the Soldier's Home database you can order their records with a few clicks. The search results screen indicates how many pages long the file is and the price (ranging from about a $1/page for short files (5-7 pages) up to about $0.60/page for longer files (about 30 pages)). A WMGS member will copy the record and send it to you.

I requested the file for Solon Lane to see what I could learn about him. I already knew quite a bit about Solon from his Civil War Pension application file (Why EveryoneShould Use Military Pension Files), for instance, that he was an unapologetic bigamist having married four women without ever obtaining a divorce. But I digress. The papers in Solon's file (12 pages) consisted of his initial application for admission to the home as well as several applications for re-admission. The re-admission pages had little more information than the dates of admission and discharge. The initial application had a bit more information, including date/place of enlistment and discharge and the unit in which he served, place of birth, occupation, marital status, physical description, any disabilities and whether the person could read and write. In addition, if the person was receiving a military pension it provided the certificate number and if the soldier hadn't served with a Michigan military unit, how long he had resided in the state. Depending on what you already know you may learn something new, or at least be able to piece together a bit more of your person's whereabouts.

As far as I am aware, the Grand Rapids facility was the only Soldier's Home located in Michigan, but some states had more than one. Even if your man wasn't in the Michigan Soldier's home, it is worth checking a database at, U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938.
This database includes information cards for twelve homes over various years. I found two of my people here, one was Solon Lane and another was one of my veterans who I hadn't realized ever lived in Illinois (and yes, I'm sure it's him).

  1. “Aged Man Barred From Home In City,” Kalamazoo [Kalamazoo, Michigan] Gazette, 22 December 1908, page 1, column 4, digital images, GenealogyBank ( accessed 5 September 2011), Kalamazoo Gazette Collection (Newspaper Archives).
  2. “Old Soldier Sure Of Home For Life Time,” Kalamazoo [Kalamazoo, Michigan] Evening Telegraph, 28 December 1908, page 10, column 4, digital images, Kalamazoo Public Library ( accessed 26 June 2012), Kalamazoo Telegraph Collection.