All things history and genealogy.

All things history and genealogy.

Category: Z-Current

Transcription: US WWII Draft Registration Card for Albert Rascher

Transcription: US WWII Draft Registration Card for Albert Rascher.

Albert Rascher WWII Draft Card
Albert Rascher WWII Draft Card

REGISTRATION CARD — (Men born on or after April 28, 1877 and on or before February 16, 1897)

Line 1
NAME: Albert Rascher

Line 2
PLACE OF RESIDENCE: R.F.D. No. 1 – Arlington Heights Cook Illinois
(The place of residence given on the line above will determine local board jurisdiction; line 2 of registration certificate will be identical)

Line 3
(Mailing address if other than line 2. If same, insert word same)

Line 4

Line 5
AGE IN YEARS: 47; DATE OF BIRTH: August – 14 – 1894

Line 6
PLACE OF BIRTH: Palatine Illinois

Line 7

Line 8

Line 9
(Number and street or R. F. D. number) (Town) (State)


D. S. S. FORM 1 16-21630-2    Albert Rascher
(Revised 4-1-42)      (over)        (Registrant’s Signature)


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

Sometimes it pays to look to the present for information about the past.

It’s amazing what information about the past including people and events can be found by searching through online newspapers, magazines, etc. – even if they are in a foreign language.

I’m routinely having to read, translate and understand documents written in their original language such as French, German, Swedish, and so on. My go to method for getting started is accessing ‘Google Translate’. To have a web page translated, just type the complete original language url in the Google search box, press ‘search’, find what you’re looking for in the search results list and click on ‘Translate this page’.

El Economista TranslatedOne such site I’ve recently accessed was ‘El Economista’ a Mexican, Spanish language online newspaper. On this particular day, the headlines were dominated by news of Javier Duarte de Ochoa and his handling of the crisis created by the recent tropical storm. Javier Duarte is the Governor of Veracruz, Mexico.

Above is a clip from the Google translated site mentioned and as you can see the text in the first paragraph is quite understandable, although not quite grammatically correct. I would always suggest finding independent confirmation elsewhere to confirm your understanding, if possible.

I routinely search through newspapers in the areas in which I’m researching and I have stumbled upon some real ‘gems’ related to my research, including a rooming house arson fire a recent ancestor escaped from, another ancestor whose name was published as a deserter in WWI, and most recently news of a tragic train crash in a community from which my own father’s French Canadian family originates. It was particularly heartbreaking to read the names of the deceased in the online French language news sites, and to recognize many of them as distant relatives.

Using Google translate  is also a useful tool if transcribing documents from their original language. Go to the main Google translate page, type the text in question in the left box, making sure it’s labeled with the correct language and click ‘Translate’. The English translation will appear to the right if English is the selected language. Text can be translated to and from numerous languages.

photo credit: Augie Schwer via photopin cc

Transcription: US WWII Draft Registration Card for Frank John Niles

US WWII Draft Registration Card for Frank John Niles.

U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 of Frank Niles
U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 of Frank Niles


REGISTRATION CARD — (Men born on or after April 28, 1877 and on or before February 16, 1897)

Line 1
NAME: Frank John Niles

Line 2
PLACE OF RESIDENCE: West Milton, Miami, Ohio
(The place of residence given on the line above will determine local board jurisdiction; line 2 of registration certificate will be identical)

Line 3
(Mailing address if other than line 2. If same, insert word same)

Line 4

Line 5
AGE IN YEARS: 57; DATE OF BIRTH: June 18, 1885

Line 6
PLACE OF BIRTH: West Milton, Ohio

Line 7

Line 8
EMPLOYER’S NAME AND ADDRESS: Harry Sexhour, West Milton, O.

Line 9
(Number and street or R. F. D. number)     (Town)     (State)


D. S. S. FORM 1                         16-21630-2      Frank Niles
(Revised 4-1-42)     (over)                                   (Registrant’s Signature)


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

Transcription: US WWII Draft Registration Card for John Croll MacPherson

Transcription of the US WWII Draft Registration Card for John Croll MacPherson.

WWII Draft Card for John MacPherson
WWII Draft Card for John MacPherson

REGISTRATION CARD — (Men born on or after April 28, 1877 and on or before February 16, 1897)

Line 1
NAME: John Croll MacPherson

Line 2
PLACE OF RESIDENCE: 3365 N. E. Alameda Str
(The place of residence given on the line above will determine local board jurisdiction; line 2 of registration certificate will be identical)

Line 3
(Mailing address if other than line 2. If same, insert word same)

Line 4
TELEPHONE:   Garfield 7070

Line 5
AGE IN YEARS:   56 yrs 1 mo;      DATE OF BIRTH:   April 7, 1886

Line 6
PLACE OF BIRTH: Aberdeen, Scotland

Line 7

Line 8

Line 8
(Number and street or R. F. D. number)     (Town)     (State)


D. S. S. FORM 1                         16-21630-2      John C. MacPherson
(Revised 4-1-42)     (over)                                    (Registrant’s Signature)


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

We must fight for our veterans as they fought for us.

We must fight for our veterans.
poppy field

Remembrance Day is fast approaching and this is one very important day I always recognize with a post on this blog.

My family’s history is well-entrenched in military service.

  • My father was in the military for 30 years.
  • My father-in-law was in the military for over 30 years.
  • My husband, Mark served 20 years.

They all served tours in hostile environments.

Our family have also lost two family members in WWI, one being Pte Philias Joseph Albert Emery during advance actions at Vimy Ridge, and the other being Pte Joseph Turmaine in the Battle of Courcelette.

I have always thought that our government was not doing enough to help veterans who are disabled as a result of their duties.

I’m appalled to say that under this present Conservative government, instead of improving, the conditions and treatment of our valued veterans are much, much worse.

Reading this post at prompted me to write about his myself and I encourage everyone to go online at the site to sign the petition demanding better financial, physical and mental health care, and administrative treatment of our veterans.

This video of a rant by Rick Mercer on behalf of our veterans is a good example of just one area of concern.

Author credit: Christine Blythe, Feathering the Empty Nest Blog

photo credit: Dukas.Ju via photopin cc

Transcription: Obituary for Camille Vachon

The following is a transcription of the French text of an obituary for Camille Vachon.


Camille Vachon
Camille Vachon

VACHON, Camille

À l’Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis, le  20 juin 1990, à l’âge de 83 ans et 10 mois, est décédé monsieur Camille Vachon, époux de dame Marie-Anna Boily. Il démeurait à Sts-Anges. La famille recevre les condoléances à la salle municipale, 317, des Érables à Sts-Anges, vendredi de 13h 30 à 16h 30 et de 19h à 22h, samedi de 13h à 14h 45. Le service religieux sera célébre le samedi 23 juin, à 15h, en l’église de Sts-Anges et de là au cimetiére paroissial, sous la direction de la Maison.

Armand Plante Inc.
875, Ste-Thérèse

Il laisse dans le deuil, outre son épouse, ses enfants, gendres et belles-filles: Marie-Laure (Melvine Gagné), Laurent (Annette Drouin), Magella (Marie-Claire Drouin), Reina, Gemma (Laurent Lallamme), Guimond (Françoise Turmel), Thérèse (Adrien Lacroix), Pierrette (Denis Lagrange), ses vingt-deux petits-enfants, ses sept arriéres-petits-enfants; son frère et demi-soeurs: Valère, Germaine (Adélard Tardif), Eva, Iréne (Hermel Doyon), Agathe, Fernand (Jeannine Crenier), Rita (Antonio Labrie), Carmella (Freddy Jolicoeur), Imelda, ses neveus, niéces, cousins, cousines et de nombreus ami(e)s. Pour renseignements, 1-397-6948.


ENGLISH TRANSLATION (via Google Translate)

At the Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis, on 20 June 1990 at the age of 83 years and 10 months, Camille Mr. Vachon died, husband of Marie-Anna Boily. He remained in Sts-Anges. Family condolences will be received at the Municipal Hall , 317 Maples Sts-Anges, Friday from 13h 30 to 16h 30 and 19h to 22h Saturday from 13h to 14h 45. The funeral service will be held Saturday, June 23 at 15h, in the church of Sts-Anges and then to the parish cemetery under the direction of the house.

Armand Plante Inc.
875 , Ste- Thérèse
St. Joseph

He is survived by, in addition to his wife, children, sons and daughters, Marie-Laure (Melvin Won), Lawrence (Annette Drouin), Majella (Drouin Marie- Claire), Reina, Gemma (Laurent Lallamme), Guimond (Françoise Turmel), Therese (Adrien Lacroix), Pierrette (Denis Lagrange), twenty- two grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, his brother and half-sisters: Valere, Germaine (Adelard Tardif), Eva, Iréne (Hermel Doyon), Agathe, Fernand (Jeannine Crenier), Rita (Antonio Labrie), Carmella (Freddy Jolicoeur), Imelda, his nephews, nieces, cousins ​​and numerous friends. For more information, 1-397-6948.


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.


Transcription: Biography of Arie Van Gendren and his family.

Transcription of the biography of Arie Van Gendren, his wife and family as taken from “Cabri, Through the Years.”

Van Gendren family
Van Gendren family

My father, Arie Robert VanGendren, was born in the U.S. in 1866. My mother, Emma Christine Jensen, was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in l876 and moved to North Dakota when she was 12 years old, along with the rest of her family.  About 1896 she married Hans Hansen and they had three children: Victor born 1900, Bertha born 1901, and Hannah born 1903 and four days after, her father passed away from a heart condition.  In those days there was no help for a lady trying and did any work she could get to support herself and her three children.

Father and Mother were married in Minnesota, U.S.A. in 1910. l was brought into this world by a mid-wife on August 17, 1911 and my brother  Robert put in his appearance on October 12, 1912  to finish off the family.

When l was four years old we started out for Canada in a covered wagon, but only got as far as lowa. It must have been quite crowded with the seven of us in that wagon. When we got to Iowa, Mother’s parents (Nels and Christine Jensen) came to live with us. Grampa spoke very little english, so in April 1917 when they wanted to come up to Cabri to live with their other daughter, Marie Peterson, my sister came with them. The War was on and they thought that they might have trouble crossing the border, as Gramma never spoke too good english either. When they did get to the border, Grampa started to say something and Gramma gave him a poke in the ribs to keep quiet. The Customs Officer asked if they were German, they said they weren’t, but they were still taken off the train and were made to stay in North Portal for 24 hours.

ln October 1917, Mother, Bertha, Robert and l arrived in Cabri by train, and about a week later Dad arrived with a box car full of settlers effects, which included two horses, some chickens, and a cat which we had for many years, along with the furniture for our house.

Victor joined the U.S. Navy in 1916 when he was only 16 years old. He couldn’t get his discharge for quite sometime after the War ended, as they were needed to bring the troops and supplies back to the States, so he didn’t arrive in Cabri until about 1920. He worked around Cabri for a few years then moved to Fort St. John, B.C. when he took a homestead, and married  Mary Pomeroy. They had five children, maybe four and Mary is now living in Mission, B.C. Their family is all living in B.C. Bertha married August Gummeson in 1921 and they lived on August’s homestead which was only a quarter of a mile south of Cabri when they were first married, then they moved into town.

They had two children while living in Cabri. Their oldest daughter passed away during an appendix operation at the age of 3 1/2 years. They moved out to Chilliwack, B.C. in the fall of 1936 where another girl and boy came along to join their family. August passed away several years ago, and Bertha passed away June 1983. Their family all live out around Chilliwack.

Hannah still lives at Cabri with husband Edwin Johnson. Robert and I attended the Kings County School for a short time. There was not any school in the district when we moved there. Mother was the one who was instrumental in getting that school started. Some of the first students to attend that school were: Ruby and Ruth Spink, Phyllis and Roy Maycock (who passed away within six weeks of each other with typhoid fever, that was such a sad thing for us all), Wilfred, Clayton and Willie Oliver, and the Humphrey children who came to school in a two wheeled cart drawn by one horse. Robert and I had about three miles to go to school  and most of the time we walked. In those days practically all children went bare foot in the summer. I remember one afternoon while attending school there, it was time for us to be dismissed for the day. The teacher happened to look out the window and saw a storm coming, so she kept us all in. I guess it was a good thing that she did, because it was a small cyclone. It didn’t seem to hit the school, but it turned the school barn one quarter of the way around. Of course, all the horses tied in the barn broke loose, and they were so frightened that they were really hard to catch. Wherever that cyclone touched down it left a big pile of weeds and dirt, so there were little knolls in the fields where there never was any before. From Kings County we moved in near Cabri and attended Cabri School. Three of the teachers I had that I remember were Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Sullivan, and Mr. Backus. I took piano lessons from Mrs. Backus for a year or two.

During the Easter Holidays in 1926 we moved to the Gavrelle District and lived on the farm known as the Joe Pierce quarter. In June of the same year Robert, Lenora Thomas and myself went into Cabri to write our departmental exams, and we were all successful in passing. Robert and l went to school one more year, as our parents were getting on in years and needed us at home to help out. Mother was very badly crippled with arthritis. Robert and I did the janitor work at the school for a number of years.

I recall one event that might be of interest to some younger people. A dance was held at the school on Good Friday 1927. We had spring like weather for sometime, but that night it started to snow, very softly and no wind, but by the time people were ready to go home there must have been at least two feet or more of real wet heavy snow. Cars were unable to move so most of the people there had to stay the night and most of the following day at the school. Some were there until Sunday p.m. Mr. Bruce Greer stopped at our place and asked if we could spare some food for the folks at the school. That was the first we knew that people were stranded at the school, as we had no phones at that time.

I do not remember the year we left the Gavrelle District, but we moved into the Miry Creek School District, and lived there until 1943. Mother passed away in 1941 and Dad in 1943, they are both buried in Cabri Cemetery. Robert and I had a sale and left the farm. Robert went to Dawson Creek, B.C. I went to my sister’s in Chilliwack, B.C. where I worked in a cannery, also at the Boeing Aircraft Plant, and then I joined the Army in 1944.

After my discharge from the Army I returned to Chilliwack for a short time. I met and married John Johnston and moved to Wainwright, Alta. where I still live. We had three boys, Dwight, Johnie and Arie. My husband, John, passed away in 1971.

I am now married to Earl Bronson and living in Wainwright. We are retired and are enjoying our retirement.

By Irene (VanGendren) Bronson


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.


Transcription: Biography of Alfred Young

Biography of Alfred Young of Cabri, Saskatchewan taken from the book, “Cabri, Through the Years.”

Julie and Alfred Young photoMr. Alfred Young was born in Halifax, N.S. in 1861. He married lian Riely in Halifax. They had five boys and three girls, all born in Halifax.

Their oldest son Frederick John, came and settled out of Cabri in 1910. He then wrote and had his father come in 1911, accompanied by the second son E. Alfred Young.

Mrs. Young, Thomas, James, George, Gertrude, Mary and Dorie came out in 1913, to King’s County District.

They farmed with all the hardships and lack of machinery, so Mr. Young opened up the first paint and wallpaper store on Main Street of Cabri in 191?. He later sold it to Al Cheeseman for a bakery. Mrs. Young lived behind and above the store so George and Mary could attend school.

Fred travelled for the John Deere Company and settled in Regina and raised two boys and one girl. E. Alfred worked for Niel Brothers. He moved to Seattle. They had one girl. Thomas went to Winnipeg, where he lived the rest of his life. He had one girl and one boy. He worked for the C.P.R. James lived on the homestead, south west of Cabri. He served in the Army and later moved to Saskatoon, where he passed away. Jim and Ella had six girls and one boy. George Young, after homesteading around Cabri, went to Regina and later to Ft. William, Ont. Mary attended school in Regina, took ill and passed away at St. Josephs, Manitoba at the age of 23. Dorie (Young) Pomeroy went to school in Regina then moved to Ft. St. John, B.C. She married Dan Pomeroy and they had four boys and two girls. Dorie is widowed now and lives in Ft. St. John, B.C.


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.


The largest family tree ever may help with research into genetic traits.

I was amazed to read on the “nature” blog that a genome hacker has discovered what is believed to be the most extensive family tree ever, consisting of 13 million linked individuals.

This family tree was constructed with data from online genealogy sites, and the researchers plan to analyse genetic traits and how they pass from generation to generation. These traits include longevity and facial features.

This ‘largest family tree ever’ will be presented by Yaniv Erlich, a computational biologist at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. The data has been stripped of identifying information to protect privacy and has been made available to other researchers.

Nancy Cox, a human geneticist at the University of Chicago states, “We’ve really only begun to scratch the surface of what these kinds of pedigrees can tell us.”

The ability to measure the change in frequency of traits over generations may help to understand to what extent traits are dictated by genetics.

There is concern by some regarding the quality of the largest family tree ever; about using self-reported genealogical data, as pedigrees stretching to royalty and beyond a certain date are not believed to be valid. There is also the problem of quality of sources and simple errors in the entering of data.

Although it is unclear just how useful and accurate these huge pedigrees will be, some enthusiasm and eagerness is being expressed by scientists and they are working to create a specific experiment that could produce useful results.

Transcription: Biography of Henry O’Reilly from ‘Rochester History’

Rochester History, Henry O'Reilly
Rochester History, Henry O’Reilly

The following is a transcription of the biography of Henry O’Reilly from the book, “Rochester History,” edited by Dexter Perkins, City Historian, and Blake McKelvey, Assistant City Historian.


Edited by DEXTER PERKINS, City Historian and BLAKE MCKELVEY, Assistant City Historian

VoL. VII JANUARY, 1945 No. 1

Henry O’Reilly


Henry O’Reilly (or O’Rielly, as he insisted on calling himself in later life) was, no doubt, not one of the greatest figures connected with the city of Rochester. He was not born here; he did not spend the major part of his life here; and when he died in 1884, he had long since outlived the period of his major usefulness. He never attained distinction of the first order; he was volatile, improvident and —— so his enemies said — quarrelsome; he was a great man for starting something, and a poor man for finishing anything — with the large exception of his Sketches of Rochester, published in 1838. But none the less he is an extremely interesting person. He had warmth and brilliance; he identified himself with a whole variety of good causes, and contributed materially to all of them; he had a kind of itch to improve the little world in which he moved; and he succeeded in doing so in many ways. He was also the storm center in one of the most interesting technological and business controversies in the period before the Civil War, the controversy over the telegraph; and though he lacked the constructive genius that characterized Hiram Sibley, another Rochesterian of far more practical capacity, he was for a time the idol of those Americans who saw in the telegraph a menacing monopoly and played a part, stormy and dramatic, in the development of a great industry. When you begin to study O’Reilly, you may not unqualifiedly admire him, but you are sure to find him worth knowing; and because he is well worth historical acquaintance, I am going to sketch in this number of Rochester History the essentials of his career.


Rochester History, published quarterly by the Rochester Public Library, distributed free at the Library, by mail 25 cents per year. Address correspondence to the City Historian, Rochester Public Library, 115 South Avenue, Rochester 4, N.Y.


The Young Immigrant

O’Reilly was born in Cartickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland, on February 6, 1806. Like many another Irishman, in later years Henry was prone to discuss his ancestry in terms that suggested a distinguished lineage. He seems to have dwelt with some pleasure upon a certain great grand-uncle who was Bishop of the Diocese, and he was also proud to relate that his maternal grandfather, Henry Ledbetter, had once been offered a peerage, and was the confidential physician of the Bresfords, a family then powerful in Ireland. But Henry’s immediate origins were less impressive. Of his father, very little is known; he seems to have been a merchant; he failed in business in the depression following the Napoleonic wars; and he was, through the rigor of a brother-in-law, confined in a debtor’s prison in 1816. Though later he followed the rest of the O’Reilly family, that is, his wife, and son and daughter, to America, he seems to have played no important part in Henry’s life, and even the date and place of his death are uncertain.

Henry came to the United States at the tender age of ten, with his mother and sister, and landed, as millions of immigrants have landed since, in the City of New York. There he was received by his “good uncle,” Edward Ledbetter, but his uncle’s benevolence did not extend so far as to provide support for his youthful relative, and still at the age of ten, O’Reilly was apprenticed to Baptiste Irvine, editor of the New York Columbian. The articles of apprenticeship were for a term of eight years, and for the greater part of the period O’Rei1ly was to serve without pay. He was to be given sufficient meat, drink and clothing; and he was to be instructed in the mysteries of the art of printing, in reading, writing and arithmetic, and in the rudiments of the “latin and french languages.” In exchange for these manifest advantages O’Reilly agreed “not to waste his master’s goods, not to commit fornication or contract matrimony, not to play at cards, dice or any unlawful game, not to absent himself day or night frorn his master’s service without leave, and not to haunt alehouses, taverns, or playhouses.”

There was to be plenty of variety in Henry O’Reilly’s career as time went on, but the termination of his first apprenticeship was no fault of his, and it is probable that a similar statement may be made


with regard to his other frequent changes of employment in these early years. The papers of the time were frequently ill-supported; Irvine gave up the editorship of the Columbian less than a year after the signing of Henry’s articles of apprenticeship. The boy seems to have Worked for some time thereafter in the printing office of Clayton and Kingsland; but in 1823 he was offered a place on the New York Patriot, and there he first began to take part in politics, becoming, as was natural in the circumstances, an ardent partisan of the candidacy of Andrew Jackson for the Presidency of the United States. In 1824, indeed, in company with his employer, Colonel Charles K. Gardner, Henry paid a visit to Washington, and was presented to Old Hickory. Before the year was out, we find him moving to Kinderhook, New York, to become the printer of the local paper, the Herald, and we cannot help believing that he had by now formed a connection with Martin Van Buren, and that he was fairly launched in a reasonably active political career.

But Kinderhook was only a way station to Rochester. While serving on the Patriot, O’Reilly had had as a fellow-compositor one Luther Tucker. Tucker had a friend who wished to establish at Rochester a daily newspaper, and he was offered the business management of the paper, and asked to select a competent editor. Thus, in 1826, at the age of twenty, the young Henry moved once more, and on October 21, 1826, he issued the first number of the Rochester Daily Advertiser, which, with changes of name, and, indeed, changes of policy, has none the less endured down to our own day.

The Editor and Politician.

The young editor had walked into the center of a major political storm. These were the days of the anti-Masonic agitation. In September of 1826, William Morgan, who had written and promoted a book which purported to reveal the secrets of Masonry, had been abducted from the jail at Canandaigua, and had disappeared. Now in Western New York at this same period, the foes of the Jackson patty were looking for a political issue, and particularly for an issue that would wean away from the dominant political faction some of the more democratic elements in the population. They found what they wanted in the disappearance of Morgan. Here was an opportunity to raise a


terrific hue and cry over the secret society of Masonry and its aristocratic implications. The opportunity became still more profitable when a body was washed ashore from Lake Ontario, which, it was speedily rumored, and afterwards alleged in a coroner’s inquest, was the body of Morgan himself. Political excitement, therefore, mounted higher and higher, and in due course gave rise to a new political party which described itself as the Anti-Masonic party.

Into this interesting political scene Henry O’Reilly was precipitated in the fall of 1826. He began his editorship of the Advertiser, as a wise editor would do, by professing the highest impartiality with regard to politics. But O’Reilly, as a detached and neutral observer of the political scene, or indeed of anything else, is an O’Reilly that never existed. He already had his political predilections; his Irish blood yearned for a fight; and before long he was involved in the controversy over anti-Masonry, arid was locked in conflict with one of the most formidable figures in the history of political journalism.

In 1826 Thutlow Weed was editor of the Ror/Jerter Telegraph, a man thirty-four years of age, who might well resent the appearance of a stripling of twenty as his competitor in the thriving frontier community. Weed was not the originator, but soon became one of the participants, in the anti-Masonic agitation, and one of the leaders in the attempt to capitalize the disappearance and the death of Morgan in the formation of the new party. It is not likely, having regard to the newspaper methods of the time, and to the extraordinary violence of journalistic controversy, that O’Rei1ly would long have escaped the shafts of his rival. But the hot-headed Irishman apparently offered the first provocation for the outburst of hostilities. From the first he had been suspicious of the inquest that had attended the finding of the alleged corpse of Morgan on the shores of Lake Ontario, and had not hesitated to express his suspicions that there was something very peculiar about the whole business. Soon a most interesting story came to his ears. In the arguments that took place in the frontier community the question of the identity of the body of Morgan naturally rook a prominent place. In one of these arguments, so the story began to circulate, Thurlow Weed was reported to have said, in informal conversation, that at any rate the corpse was a “good-enough Morgan till after election.” Later on, when confronted with this charge, Weed denied it categorically, and declared that what he had said was that it


was a good enough Morgan till another body was found, a comment which, it must be admitted, was hardly less cynical than that of which he was accused. But when O’Reilly published the first of these two versions of his rival’s words, he found himself the object of the most bitter attacks on the part of Weed. He was pilloried as a liar; he was described in the pages of the Telegraph as a “Mason-jade” a peculiarly offensive epithet in the current political controversy, and all the more so in the case of O’Reilly, since O’Reilly was not a Mason; and he was in due course, fixed with a libel suit whida hung over his head for thirteen years, and was naturally a source of considerable embarrassment. In such circumstances, to put it bluntly, O’Reilly found that he could not take it, and in ]uly, 1827, he temporarily withdrew from the scene, alleging feeble health in part as an excuse. After a visit to Niagara Falls, he went back to New York City, and there again took up printing at the Methodist Printing Office which had been one of the scenes of his employment some years before.

But the itch for politics was strong in O’Reilly, and a most exciting and possibly a most rewarding Presidential campaign was approaching. The Old Hero, the veteran of New Orleans, the idol of the people, Andrew ]ackson, was running for the Presidency. The campaign was a delirious one; indeed, never before had so large a part of the electorate gone to the polls. How could a good party man be content to print Methodist tracts instead of ringing Jacksonian speeches? There could be but one answer to this question, so O‘Reilly, at the solicitation of Mr. Tucker, his original employer, went back to Rochester, and took part as editor of the Advertiser once more in the campaign which was to elevate Old Hickory to the Presidency of the United States. And now O’Reilly appears for the first time, but not the last, if not in the guise of an officeseeker, at least in the guise of one much interested in the offices. In 1828 Abelard Reynolds was Postmaster of Rochester, a position which he had held since the very beginnings of Rochester’s civic history. Reynolds, of course, was a supporter of the conservative cause, and of John Quincy Adams in the campaign of 1828. It was obvious, at any rate to the Jacksonians, that a new appointment was in order. So the editor of the Advertiser journeyed to Washington, and secured the appointment of a good Jackson man, ]ohn B. Elwood, in place of Reynolds. He also brought back from his visit to the capital another political plum, the collectorship


of the Genesee Revenue District, which was awarded to General Jacob Gould.

One might have thought that by this time O’Reil1y would have been in a fair way to settle down. But in 1850 he married, and his bride, Marcia Brooks, was the daughter of a land~holder of the upper Genesee country, in the neighborhood of Nunda. Thither the editor of the Advertiser removed in May of 1830, hoping no doubt to profit from his father-in-law’s plans to establish a village in that neighborhood, and thoughtfully providing himself with the job of postmaster in the new locality, a matter which was not difficult in view of his services to the administration in power. O’Reilly‘s removal to Brooks Grove, as the place was called, hardly does credit to his business sagacity. It is true that in 1830, when for the second time he left Rochester, the town was experiencing its first recession, following the boom created by the building of the Erie Canal. But there was no good reason to believe that the Genesee mill town and canal port had exhausted its potentialities; indeed those with greater confidence were soon justified as growth was resumed and the village became a city in 1854. Nor was there anything about the job of postmastership at Brooks’ Grove that could be described as challenging to a young man now 24, who had substantial capacities, and a growing circle of friends. So once again O’Reilly’s exile was a brief one, and the campaign of 1832 saw the young Irishman, now a citizen, back once more in the editorship of the Advertiser, and warmly engaged in re-electing Andrew Jackson to the Presidency of the United States. For his services in this regard he received the post of Deputy-Collector for the Genesee District, and this together with his journalistic activities, provided him with a reasonable pecuniary reward. He was now to settle down for a while — in so far as it was in his nature to settle down, and in the course of the next ten years he played an important part in the life of the young community. In some ways he was at his best during these next ten years, active, public-spirited, the friend of many liberal causes, and the author of one of the best books of its kind, a book that is invaluable to any student of Rochester history.


The Rochester Civic Reformer

Amongst the objects of O’Reilly’s activity during his ten years’ continuous residence in Rochester none was more important than the enlargement of the Erie Canal. The canal had been finished in 1825, and had, of course, been the major factor in the astoundingly rapid growth of the city on the Genesee. Constructed at a cost of around $10,000,000, it had been amazingly profitable, and it had been possible for the state to retire a loan of seven and three quarter million dollars from the revenues of the first ten years. The chief drawbacks were its size, particularly its depth of only four feet, and the flimsy character of the locks and other features of its construction. It was natural that there should arise a demand for its reconstruction and enlargement, and this movement was closely connected with a movement for the reduction of the tolls. But the question soon became a controversial one; there was much opposition in the legislature to a new borrowing program; and it took a long and vigorous agitation before the enlargement of the canal could be carried into effect.

Into this agitation O’Reilly threw himself with characteristic ardor. He was, of course, by no means alone in his advocacy of enlargement Indeed, the opinion of leading Rochester citizens of both political parties coincided as to the necessity of such a policy. But his name appears again and again amongst the men who took the deepest interest in the project, and his views, it would appear, had a greater and greater influence as time went on. The canal commissioners first recommended the enlargement of the canal in their report of the spring of 1855. The legislature, very much under the influence of those short-sighted individuals who thought borrowing to be inherently immoral, enacted in May a law providing that the surplus tolls from the Canal might be devoted to the deepening of the waterway, or to the construction of further locks, if needed. In the fall of 1835 a committee of Rochester citizens, of which O’ReilIy was a member, passed resolutions expressing pleasure at this initial step and the profound conviction of the importance of a forward looking policy with regard to the canal in general. But the method of providing for enlargement through surplus revenues was soon seen to be inadequate. The sum that was found to be necessary to carry through the program


determined upon by the canal commissioners was found to be at least equal to the original expense of constructing the canal. To expect that such a sum could be found through tolls would mean that the much-desired improvement would be long-delayed. Confronted with this fact, friends of the canal urged a borrowing program to effect the necessary construction.

It may well be that O’Reilly was one of the first to formulate such a policy and to join with others in bringing it to fruition. (He was never afraid to borrow, either personally or otherwise.) At any rate, on the 30th of December, 1836, he was one of three citizens of Rochester who addressed a public meeting assembled at the courthouse, to consider the canal question, and out of this meeting came resolutions urging new loans based upon the canal revenues, and a call for a convention of the people of western New York to press for similar action. This convention met in Rochester on Ianuary 18, 1837, and attracted immense attention. It appointed a central executive committee, of which O’Reilly was chairman, for placing the matter before the public. This committee engaged in a successful agitation which had its final fruits in the law of April 18, 1838, authorizing a loan of four million dollars, (not as much as had been desired), for the improvement and enlargement of the canal.

O’Reilly’s success in bringing about the end which he had in view was due in part to a very energetic and skillful agitation. But it was due in part, also, to the particular circumstances of the time. The Jackson administration had hardly gone out of office when there followed one of the most disastrous depressions in the early history of the country, and one which was extremely severely felt in western New York. Of course in general the idea of borrowing to create employment was hardly the economic gospel of the 1830’s. But curiously enough in New York state there was considerable sentiment for just such a course, as was to be strikingly exemplified when William H. Seward was elected Governor in the fall of 1838. The passage of the canal law, it seems hardly doubtful, was in part assisted by the fact that here was a means ready to hand to deal with the critical problem of the depression.

Was O’Reilly’s agitation for the enlargement of the canal wise and far-seeing? In the very year in which the legislature voted for


the enlargement of the canal, the first steam railway entered Rochester. Was it therefore something less than far-sighted to agitate for the development of canal navigation, at a time when a new agency of transportation was coming into being? Superficially, it might seem as if this question would have to be answered in the affirmative. But if one looks a little more deeply into the facts, one discovers that the Erie Canal remained for a long time after 1838 the principal means of transportation through the state of New York, and that the high point of its usefulness (the maximum development of its traffic) was not reached until the middle of the decade of the fifties. Looking at the matter, then, from this point of view, it seems clear that Henry O’Reilly was not only faithfully representing the necessities of his community in the agitation with which he had so much to do, but was promoting a development which was eminently desirable from the viewpoint of his time and of the decades immediately to come.

There was a second movement, fully as important as that which had to do with the canals, in which O’Reilly’s name appears again and again. This was the movement for the improvement of the schools of Rochester.

The decade of the thirties is remarkable not only in New York but throughout the Northern states for the developing interest in education. The great wave of liberalism which characterized the period expressed itself nowhere more vigorously than in the field of the schools. There was much to be done to improve them, for in most of the country only the most rudimentary educational conditions existed. This was true of Rochester when O’Reilly took up his residence in the community on the Genesee.

The Rochester schools had begun on the district system, that is, they bore no relation whatsoever to the community as a whole. One district might be well run, according to the standards of the time; another might be little short of infamous. One district might pay its teachers fairly well; another might grant little more than sweatshop wages. True, when the city was incorporated in 1854, the Common Council was given the power to act in the capacity of Commissioner of Schools, and was given a broad kind of supervisory authority. But these powers were almost never exercised, and the districts struggled along without any substantial support from the municipality. As late


as 1839 three districts within the city lacked school-houses, one of them renting a room in an old cooper’s shop. Each separate school was kept only as long as the funds of the district permitted, some of them for only three or four months a year.

Into the movement for the improvement of the public schools, O’Reilly flung himself with characteristic energy. In 1836 a public meeting in Rochester provided for the appointment of a citizens‘ committee called “The Committee for Elevating the  Standards of Common School Education.” It provided for the circulation of a sheet called “The Common School Assistant,” and engaged young A. C. Pratt as a kind of propagandist to go through the county calling attention to the educational needs of the communities. lt continued its work during 1837 and 1838, and in November of the latter year recommended an “entirely free common school system, supported by a general tax on real and personal property.” A little later, on December 1, 1858, a resolution was adopted looking to the organization of a Board of Education which would appoint a superintendent of public schools, and which would have “districts so arranged and schools so regulated as to allow of gradation in public English education.” A committee of fifteen was appointed to urge the adoption of this policy upon the Common Council and the legislature.

It took time, however, to reach the desired goal. Today it is difficult for us to realize that the expenditure of funds for educational purposes was often opposed a century ago as an unnecessary coddling of the masses. There were Americans in that day who wished to keep the less fortunate in their place, and could see no point in making it possible for them to rise in the social and economic scale. The improvement of our schools, like most important steps in social progress, did not come about with the unanimous adhesion of all citizens, but had to be struggled for, as most good things do have to be struggled for.

But Henry O’Reilly had no doubt as to what needed to be done. At every stage he supported in the pages of the Advertiser the contemporary agitation. And in the spring of 1841 he drew up a memorial on the school question which received wide circulation throughout the state and which was one of the factors in securing the passage of a bill amending the city charter and providing for reforms of the first


order of importance. The law of 1841 provided for the election of a board of education, composed of two members from each ward, which should have power to appoint a superintendent of schools, and which was charged with the financial authority necessary to the building up of the school system. The system to be established was to be public and free. Sixteen years before the state of New York entirely abolished the rate bill system, and early enough to become the fourth city of the state to do this, Rochester in 1841 set up an educational machinery which was hailed at the time, and with reason, as a great advance. The citizens of Rochester showed their appreciation of the role that O‘Reilly had played in the battle for the school law by electing him to the Board of Education constituted under it. There is no room for doubting his notable public service in this regard.

O’Reilly’s interest in the improvement of the educational standards and opportunities of Rochester was shown in another way when he was prominent in the organization, in 1838, of what was known as the Young Men’s Association, and of which he became president. The special circumstance which promoted the growth of this important agency in the early life of Rochester was, interestingly enough, the commission of the first murder which had ever taken place in the city in 1837. This untoward event, says O’Reilly, directed public attention to the necessity of establishing institutions for “presenting intellectual and moral attractions to counteract the vicious allurements to which (as legal examinations proved) the young men of this city were largely exposed.” It was resolved that what was particularly needed was a library and educational program, and the establishment of a center which should serve as an alternative, as O’Reilly highmindedly put it, to “eating-houses, with each a newspaper and a bar—bowling alleys, with their temptations to drinking and their temptations to belting – gaming tables with their enthralling allurements and their degrading companionships—and enticement to every vicious indulgence—diligently provided by those who excite appetite and feed passion for the sake of emolument.” Accordingly, funds were found to rent the second floor of a building on State Street, and there to provide the first public reading room and city library in the history of Rochester. There were small membership dues, and books could be taken out only by accredited borrowers – but the library itself was open to all, and the provision for taking out boolm was the first that had been made. By


the close of 1838 the library counted more than 2000 volumes, and the membership included 139 full subscribers, and 97 others holding reading room privileges. Once started on this hopeful project, O’Reilly’s soaring imagination carried him further. He attempted to raise funds for a city library to be erected by the Association, and took an option on two lots at the corner of State and Mumford Streets with this end in view. An attempt was made to sell stock for the promotion of this project
at $50 a share, but this project failed, like so many others in which O’Reilly was financially concerned, and the energetic editor of the A41/miter had to pay $400 out of his own pocket as a result of his premature action. On the other hand, O’Reilly was more successful in securing the amalgamation of the Young Men’s Association with the Athenaeum, an earlier venture in the field of literary and educational activity. The union of the two still further enlarged the library resources of the Association, and by the close of 1840 there were over 2500 volumes available to members, and membership had risen to 409.

It would be pleasant to believe that the impetus thus given to the love of learning was permanent in its effects. Unfortunately, the facts are otherwise. After O‘Reilly’s removal from the city the activities of the Association declined. But the work that was done in this early period was not in vain. It served, no doubt, as an inspiration to the efforts of the late forties, when an attempt was made to pump new energy into the educational current of Rochester. And, wholly apart from its practical results, it is highly characteristic of O’Reilly himself. His generous impulses, his democratic instincts, and his intellectual energy all contributed to make him feel keenly the necessity of an educational advance. In taking the position that he did, he was acting in the most elevated spirit of his own time.

The Local Historian

The year 1838, which saw the establishment of the Young Men’s Association, was also the year in which O’Reilly published his Sketcbes of Rochester, the first important descriptive work published in and with regard to the city on the Genesee. The occasion for this work the author describes in his preface. In 1856, in response to a request from the city corporation, O’Reilly had published some statis-


tical data on the community in which he lived in pamphlet form. The success of this venture emboldened him to go further. He was encouraged by Everard Peck and Thomas Kempshall to carry his project through, and these two men assisted him in securing a publisher. In the winter of 1858 the committee which had the work in charge travelled by the only conveyance then possible, the stage-coach, all the way to New York, taking five days to do so, “with good sleighing,”to put in the hands of Harper Brothers the manuscript of this important work. When it was published it sold at the price of $1.50, or $1.25 when ten copies were taken by a single subscriber. The first edition was quickly sold; but-—quite characteristically, O’Reilly realized little financial profit from his venture. He had made the work more elaborate and more costly than had been originally proposed.

It would he extravagant to contend that the Sketches of Rochester was a great piece of literature. But it is fair to say that very few communities have enjoyed, in the early stages of their development, the services of a more conscientious or thorough chronicler. It is impossible to write the history of our city Without frequent reference to O’Reilly. His work is invaluable as a contribution to local history. It is a mine of information on the economic and social development of a frontier community. And, in the life of a busy editor, and active citizen, it represents no inconsiderable achievement.

The year 1838, which connects with so many of O’Reilly’s activities, must now be connected with one more. The editor of the Advertiser, as we have seen, had always been interested in politics. He had acquired a small political oflice in 1832. He had run for the state Assembly-—unsuccessfully—in 1837. In 1838 the postmaster of Rochester resigned. The friends of the man who must by now have been one of Rochester’s most prominent Democrats, perhaps the most prominent Democrat, rallied to present him for the vacant office. O’Reilly himself was absent in New York at the time, and does not seem to have bestirred himself particularly. But on May 24, 1838, his Presidential commission came through, and from that time forward until his removal from Rochester, he performed the duties of this important office. It is difficult to arrive at any clear evaluation of his service in this regard. He is said to have done great work in reducing the number of robberies in the mails. He certainly became well known to many influential Democrats, and established connections which were useful


to him in the future. But it may be also that in accepting the position of postmaster, he gave unnecessary hostages to fortune; the work may well have been distracting; and it exposed him, of course, to prompt political reprisal when the Whigs came into office in the elections of 1840. These were the days of the very perfection of the spoils system. There could be only one answer to the question of what to do with postmasters who had the bad judgment to belong to the opposite political party, and that was to get rid of them. O’Reilly, in common with others of his political creed, was soon made to walk the plank; and it seems probable that his dismissal from the post-mastership had something to do with his removal from Rochester at the end of 1842, or in the very beginning of 1843.

But the editor and author of the frontier was so constituted, at any rate while in his thirties, that he could not be long without a cause; he must always he promoting something; and the cause that now caught his eye, and that offered also an opportunity to earn a living, was the cause of constitutional reform. The constitution of New York state had undergone revision in 1821; but in many respects it was still archaic in 1842. Unlike the constitution that preceded it, it had provided for a procedure by which it might be amended; but somehow or other this procedure, with a single exception, had failed signally to function in practise. There were a number of respects in which, from the view-point of the liberal forces of the time, changes  were indicated by the beginning of the forties. It was thought, for example, that the judiciary should be made elective, rather than appointive; it was thought that the terms of members of the legislature ought to be shortened; and still more, the disturbances which had broken out in the Hudson Valley, where a semi-feudal system of landholding still persisted, seemed to call for a drastic alteration of the
existing law.

The Albany Years

The revamping of the constitution was just the kind of a cause that Henry O’Reilly enjoyed serving; and it must have been in his mind when he left Rochester in 1842, for he then accepted the editorship of the Albany Atlas, a journal which advocated constitutional reform. But journalism was not enough. In 1843 O’Reilly started the


organization of what was called the State Constitutional Association. He became a member of its Executive Committee; he persuaded one of the most powerful Democratic politicians in the state, Michael Hoffman, to accept the post of leader; and he initiated an agitation for the calling of a constitutional convention. This agitation bore fruit in the legislative action of 1845, in an overwhelming popular vote in favor of a convention, and in the constitutional convention of 1846. The reforms which have been mentioned above were adopted, and O’Reilly had the satisfaction of seeing the work of the convention accepted by the people at the polls. But before this day had come the ebullient Irishman had made another dtange of base. When he had transferred his activities from Rochester to Albany, he seems to have indulged the hope that, since the Democrats were in power, he might secure the state printing. By this time he was thoroughly familiar with the mixing of business and politics, and had, indeed, almost continually held some office such as was dealt out in the thirties to deserving members of the party. But something slipped; the Democrats, badly divided into factions, could not unite on the Irishman as their candidate for printer; O’Reilly belonged quite clearly to the radical wing; and it is probable that in this as at other times he took very little pains to moderate his opinions or to express them other than with vehemence. The warring groups in the legislature united upon a compromise candidate; and O’Reilly, after only a brief period with the Atlas, transferred his energies to the New York State Agricultural Society, and became its Recording Secretary. But here again the pickings apparently were insulficient and after a short time in this post O’Reilly, like many another American, turned from the slim rewards of daily labor to the glowing opportunities of successful promotion.

His Telegraph Ventures

The middle forties mark a very decided change in the personality of this interesting man. The impulse for reform, the zeal for causes, the political ardor, never completely deserted him; indeed he was usually able to rationalize his conduct in terms of some great popular  good. But after 1844 O‘Reilly became interested in making money in a big way. He had certainly been conspicuously unsuccessful up to


this time; he had left Rochester in debt; he had not demonstrated any extraordinary business capacity at any time; but perhaps these very facts tempted him to some kind of scheme for easy and rapid accumulation; his temperament made it easy for him to see immense possibilities for the future in a new invention; and the year 1844 was the year of the first American telegraph. As is well known, on the 24th of May of that year, Samuel F. B. Morse, having persuaded Congress to appropriate the funds for an experimental line from Washington to Baltimore, had sent the famous message, “What hath God wrought ?” over the wire. A new era of communication was thus ushered in.

There were those, in 1844, of course, who did not think so. Morse offered his invention to the federal government for the modest sum of $100,000; and it is interesting to reflect upon the acumen of the Postmaster-General of that day, who reported that he was uncertain that the revenues from the telegraph could be made equal to the expenditures. Disappointed by this rebuff, Morse turned to private capital, and early in the story of the development of his invention, Henry O’Reilly appears upon the scene.

How came it that he was projected into this new field of endeavor? The answer lies in his friendship with Amos Kendall, who had been Postmaster-General of the United States under ]ackson and Van Buren. Kendall had been selected by the Morse patentees, (there were four of these), to represent them as their business agent. In June of 1846, he signed a contract with O’Reilly, calling for the “construction of a line of Morse’s Electro-Magnetic Telegraph to connect the great seaboard line at Philadelphia, or at such other convenient point on said line as may approach nearer Harrisburg, in Pennsylvania, and from thence through Harrisburg and other intermediate towns to Pittsburg, and thence through Wheeling and Cincinnati, and such other towns and cities as the said O’Reilly and his associates may elect, to St. Louis and to the principal towns on the lakes.” Here, so it seemed to the former Rochester editor, was a princely grant indeed, little less than the concession of a great telegraphic empire in the most rapidly growing part of the country, the booming middle West.

Whoever reads carefully the contract that I have just quoted can readily appreciate what troubles lay in its vague and wholly unlawyerlike phraseology. Amos Kendall, it is clear, believed that he was giv-


ing to O’Reilly merely a right of construction in a telegraph system which should remain under a single and undivided ownership and control. He believed, furthermore, that he was conferring on the other party to the contract nothing more than a commission to construct telegraph lines, not the right to manage them, or to become a kind of telegraph baron with a dominating interest in any of them. But O’Reilly had a wholly different view of the matter. What he did was to start the organization of a whole series of companies, independent of one another, and extending over — and finally beyond — the great area in which the contract gave him the right to operate. Nor was he without the desire to play a part in the management of the lines. He hoped to use his position to secure wide stock interests. Those interests would carry with them, of course, a very substantial measure of control over the companies which he was successful in organizing.

The difference of opinion that soon developed between O’Reilly and the Morse patentees goes to the heart of some very interesting problems of business organization, as those problems presented themselves in the decades of the forties and fifties. It is tolerably clear to us today that the telegraph is a natural monopoly, and that the consolidation of the telegraph lines of the country has been, on the whole, a highly desirable consummation. But a hundred years ago, the feat of monopoly was keen. The nation had not long before expressed a decisive opinion on the question of the concentration of financial power in the Bank of the United States. It had emphatically supported Old Hickory in his war on that institution. Now there loomed the possibility of another monopoly, monopoly of a new and potentially significant means of communication. What could be more dangerous? In taking a contrary view of the problem, in organizing many local companies, and eventually in his fight with the Morse patentees, O’Reilly appeared in the characteristic role of the champion of the people and the foe of special interests. He was probably never more widely known, and never more popular, than in the late forties and early fifties; and there is little doubt that he gloried in this popularity, and pictured himself, (while engaged in the most fat-teaching plans for personal gain), as the hero of a great fight for the common man.

There is another aspect of this question that ought to interest us. O’Reilly, in his energetic organization of telegraph companies all over


the country, undoubtedly performed a yeoman service in awakening the interest of local capital in what has become one of the great industries of the country. Where, indeed, in the late forties, was the capital to be found, except in the communities to be served? The country had not yet developed to the point where vast stock issues could have been floated in New York. The only practicable method of approach to the problem of securing funds was to go out and get them in the areas which were to be opened up. O’Reilly did just this. His methods were the methods of his time. That they aroused a tremendous interest in the new means of communication, and that, despite the final collapse of his hopes and of his fortunes, these efforts were by no means wasted, is clear.

O’Reilly’s financial methods look peculiar and by no means prudent from the angle of vision of 1944. The funds raised by the sale of stock were used for the construction of the lines. The companies which O’Reilly organized were apt to begin business with a large part of the money which had been raised to set them off already expended. But, however imprudent this may appear today, it was not regarded as foolish in 1845. The unlimited optimism of the American temperament in the period before the Civil War is difficult for us to understand today. But it made possible business practices that would now be universally condemned as unsound.

None the less, we must not, in our understanding of O’Reilly’s motives and view-point, attempt an apologia for him. The judgment of James D. Reid, who had been his assistant in the post-oflice at  Rochester and whom he brought into the telegraph business, does not seem an uncharitable one. “Henry O’Reilly,” he wrote in 1879, “was in many respects a wonderful man. His tastes were cultivated. His instincts were fine. He was intelligent and genial. His energy was untiring, his hopefulness shining. His mental activity and power of continuous labor were marvelous. He was liberal, generous, profuse, full of the best instincts of his nation. But he lacked prudence in money matters, was loose in the use of it, had little veneration for contracts. . . . He formed and broke friendships with equal rapidity, was bitter in his hates, was impatient of restraints.” This characterization is sound. And the criticism which it contains will be found to be amply justified by the history of O‘Reilly’s telegraph companies.


From the beginning, of course, O’Reilly, in his fulfilment and elaboration of his contract with Kendall, had many difficulties to contend with. He was reasonably successful in securing the funds for the construction of the Pennsylvania line as Jonathan Child, Samuel L. Selden, Hervey Ely, Alvah Strong and many others are found amongst the subscribers. But his contract called for the completion of the line within six months of the signing of the agreement. O’Reilly and those associated with him had, of course, not the slightest experience in constructing telegraph lines. They were the pioneers, working without the technical knowledge that could only be gained in that day from experience. They had no models to follow. As winter came on, their troubles multiplied. At the end of November a storm broke their wire (which they had drawn tightly in the belief that transmission was aided by a taut line) in a hundred places. When the 13th of December arrived, the line had not been completed. The contract of O’Reilly with the Morse patentees was by any strict construction, null and void.

Of the patentees, however, (and there were four of them) only one, the villain of the piece in most accounts of telegraph history, F. O. ]. Smith, was anxious at this time to take advantage of O’Reilly’s predicament. Morse and Kendall, the business agent, were willing to be generous. O’Reilly had worked hard. His difliculties had been great. He might still he a very effective helper. Why not let him go ahead? During the year 1846, in fact, the line between Philadelphia and Pittsburg was made ready for business. Time was to show that it was flimsily constructed, and some of it had to be rebuilt as early as the fall of 1849. But at the outset of the telegraph era in 1846 no one could know this.

Meanwhile O’Relly went ahead with other projects. A line was constructed between Boston and New York; another was started to run west from Cincinnati to Pittsburg and Louisville. Often the difficulties seemed almost insuperable. ln one night a storm in New England produced 170 breaks in a stretch of 50 miles. The ambitious Irishman was in financial difliculties. His files for the winter of 1847 are full of duns and protested notes. He had to plead with Rochester merchants for more time for his grocery and clothing bills, and even to beg credit for a ton of coal for his home.


There seems little doubt, moreover, that he had gone beyond his powers, as defined in his contract. In order to get his companies started he issued stock which, it was alleged, represented an interest in the patents themselves. His organization of separate companies was directly contrary to the desires of Kendall and of the patentees. In addition, F. O. J. Smith managed to persuade his associates virtually to hand over to him the control of the patent interests, and by this time Kendall, concluding that O’Reilly was not to be trusted, went over to the opposition. The patentees began to construct competing lines; they sought to close the lines they did construct to O’Reilly business. Though a temporary injunction restraining O’Reilly was denied them in 1847, they went ahead making more and more trouble for him. Efforts at compromises were blocked by the dominating personality of Smith. The struggle waxed hotter and hotter.

In the popular view O’Reilly was the hero of this bitter battle. He had had the vision to propose lower rates on telegraph service for newspapers than his rivals, and he also hit upon the sound principle of lower rates for quantity service. He was the gallant David directing his sling against the burly giant Goliath.

“The steed called lightning (says the Fate)
Is owned in the United States.
‘Twas Franklin that caught the horse.
‘Twas harnessed by Professor Morse.
With Kendall’s rein the steed went shyly,
Till tamed and broke by H. O’Reilly.”

So chanted the friends of the fighting Irishman.

But unfortunately O’Reilly never knew when to stop. There might have been some color of right in his activities in the region north of the Ohio, There could be none whatever when he sought to construct lines south of the river, and he knew it. In order to make his case stronger in this region, he bought the patents to a telegraphic instrument described as the Columbian, and that has been described by Alvin F. Harlow as the “most absurd imitation and infringement of the Morse system that supposedly sane men ever tried to get away with.” The only excuse that can be given for him is that he was so ignorant of mechanisms as not to realize how bald a fraud this was. But naturally the Morse interests rook advantage of the situation. In


1848 the District Court declared against 0’Reilly. His instrument was declared to be an infringement of the Morse patent. Of course O’Reilly appealed. But the years of litigation that followed naturally did not help his financial situation. And in 1855, the Supreme Court, in a decision rendered by Chief Justice Taney, dealt the interests which O’Reilly represented what was virtually a death blow. After this time the ebullient Irishman appears only infrequently in connection with the history of the telegraph. Some of the lines which he had built virtually disintegrated; others were developed by other men into powerful agencies of communication. But none owed anything of their further growth to him. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he had strayed into fields in which his talents were not conspicuous, and, indeed, in the years that followed, he was to be a rather pathetic figure, never attaining success, from time to time seeking once again to capitalize his talent for popular controversy, and for popular causes,but rarely doing so with any profit to himself.

It is curious that O’Reilly, in this decade of the fifties, never took any important part, so far as can be discovered, in the slavery controversy. The probable explanation lies in his close affiliations with the Democratic party. One might have thought that such an issue as this would decidedly appeal to him. But O’Reilly was a partisan Democrat, and it may well be that he hesitated to cut loose from his old associations. At any rate, at no time does he appear as a militant foe of the extension of slavery, let alone of the “peculiar institution” itself, and his migration, as a chronic officeseeker, from the Democratic into the Republican party was not successfully effected until somewhere around 1869.

Years of Discouragement

In the intermediate years between 1853 and 1869 he interested himself in a number of unsuccessful ventures. He started a project for the improvement of the Des Moines River, in Iowa. But before lung he fell to quarreling with his associates, was kicked out of the company which he had helped to form, and had to content himself with the meager satisfaction of exposing some of its irregularities before the lowa legislature. In 1859, returning to New York, he engaged in a more congenial and more successful battle, a battle to pro-


tect the canals of New York State against the hostility of the railroads. But the victory which he won in a campaign for the further enlargement of the canals left him once more without employment. Two years later we find him president of a concern called the American Terracultor Company, located in Rochester. This company was organized to manufacture a machine which would supplant the plow, and which, instead of turning the soil, dug up the ground and pulverized it by means of forks attached to endless chains, cutting a strip of land forty inches in width and ten inches in depth. But matters did not go smoothly here, either, and in addition the period of his connection with the terraculror was saddened by the death of his son at the battle of Williamsburg. In 1863 we find him acting as Secretary of an Association for promoting Colored Volunteering, and acting in conjunction with Peter Cooper to see to it that such volunteers would be authorized and credited to the quota of New York State. In 1867 we find him once more attacking his old foe, the railroads, and becoming Secretary of the National Anti-Monopoly Cheap Freight Railway League, which had as its fantastic object the construction of railway lines which should be open to free competition for the transportation of freight and passengers, but which is interesting as an early expression of the popular resentment against the growing power and arrogance of the railway systems of the country. On this project O’Reilly got exactly nowhere, and his own compensation in connection with it was so small that it did not meet his living expenses. During all this time, it would appear, he was constantly in debt, dependent often upon the generosity of his creditors.

In 1869, however, O’Reilly secured an appointment in the New York Customs House as store-keeper. This job, which could hardly have been particularly lucrative, he attempted to supplement by editorial work for one or another of the New York papers, forming a temporary connection with the World and with the Tribune. But his old flair for editorial writing seems to have deserted him, and he could give satisfaction neither to Manton Marble nor to Horace Greeley, the editors of the sheets in question. He was busy during this period with his Memoirs, and with the arrangement and collection of his historical papers; but the first of these two tasks he never completed.

In 1878, moreover, misfortune befell him. Rutherford B. Hayes, elected President in 1877, was one of the first Presidents to put into


practise, and against strong opposition, the principles of civil service reform; and the Presidential axe was soon whetted for Alonzo B. Cornell, the Collector of the Port of New York, to whom O’Reilly had owed his appointment as store-keeper. Ar the age of 72, then, O’Reilly was removed from office. He continued to live in New York till 1884, when he returned once more to the scene of his youthful successes, the city of Rochester. There he died, in St. Mar’y’s Hospital on the 17th of August, 1886, and was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, the site for which he had been instrumental in selecting nearly fifty years before. He had, at one time, lapsed from the Catholic faith, but in these last years of his life he returned to it, and before his death received extreme unction, according to Catholic ritual. The career which we have thus been analyzing was certainly nor, from the worldly point of view, a successful one. O’Reilly was devoid of the qualities that make for achievement in the business world. He was improvident, rash and by no means easy to deal with. To the eye of the hyper-critical, he might well appear as one who had a professional interest in controversy, in stirring up trouble, in which he generally found himself brilliant and inextricably involved. But any such judgment would be not only partial, but far too severe. O’Reilly was a man of very generous impulses, of very substantial Capacities, and of some measure of successful achievement. In particular is this true of the period that he spent in Rochester. He identified himself during that period with a number of important causes, with the development of the Erie Canal, which (it must never be forgotten) played a fundamental role in the growth of the stare down to the Civil War, and on which the prosperity of this city depended, with the establishment of a great step forward in the system of public education,with the first feeble steps towards the maintenance of a public library, with the development of a newspaper which has had a continuous existence since 1826. On a larger scale his activities seem, in retrospect, to be futile and ill-judged. Perhaps they were. But here too it must not be forgotten that he was a popular hero to many Americans in the early part of the fifties, and that, crude as were his methods, and wrong as were many of his decisions, he expressed something that needed to be expressed in his opposition to unrestricted monopolistic control of an important industry. The remedy for such control was emphatically not the remedy that he envisaged. It was not competition, but


regulation, that was finally to be judged necessary in the telegraph industry. But it would have been difficult for an American of his period to have foreseen this. After all, the era of regulation was to come after O’Reilly was in his grave. No one contends that here was a great man. But surely here was an interesting man, a man towards whom a charitable judgment is easy, a man whose generous impulses command respect, and whose life was not devoid of service to his fellows.

Biographical Note: This effort to present a full length picture of Henry O’Reilly in brief compass has been greatly facilitated by a master’s thesis written by Sister Miriam Monaghan at the Catholic University of America. A typed copy of her study, Henry O’Reilly: Journalist and Promoter of the Telegraph, has generously been made available by a gift to the Rochester Historical Society. In addition to his own published works, cited in the paper, the fat volume by James D. Reid, The Telegraph in America (Albany, 1878), and Carleton Mabee’s The American Leonardo: A Life of Samuel F. B. Morse (New York, 1943), have proved useful.



The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.




Transcriptions: John P. Keefer; Biographical Annals of Franklin County

The following is a transcription of the biographical data and ancestry of John P. Keefer from the Biographical Annals of Franklin County.



Biography of John P. Keefer
Biography of John P. Keefer

JOHN P. KEEFER. Few men of Franklin county have been more actively identified with the mercantile interests of Chambersburg than Mr. John P. Keefer, a leading dry goods merchant of this city, born in Guilford township, Sept. 7, 1833, a son of John (II) and Hannah (Price) Keefer, deceased, and grandson of Jacob Keefer (I).

  1.   JACOB KEEFER (who was among the very early settlers of Franklin county, was of German ancestry, and had the following family:1.   JACOB.
  2. DANIEL.
  3. JOHN (II).
  4. CATHERINE married John Snively.
  5. NANCY married John Stauffer.

The old Keefer family was brought up in the faith of the German Baptist Brethren Church.

2.    JOHN KEEFER, father of John P. Keefer, was born ih Guilford township, in 1800, and spent his life farming in his native township. In 1827, he married Hannah Price, who was born, reared and educated at Waynesboro, and they became the parents of four children:

  1. ELIZABETH, deceased, married Franklin Reed.
  2. HENRY married Elizabeth Strickler, and both are deceased.
  3. JOHN P. (III).
  4. DANIEL, deceased.

3.    JOHN P. KEEFER was reared on his father’s homestead and attended the public schools until he was fifteen years of age, when he came to Chambersburg and entered the academy of this city, remaining one year. He then became clerk in a general merchandise store, owned by H. H. Hutz, and so continued until he was twenty-


one years of age. He was then made a partner, and the firm continued until after the war, when Mr. Keefer embarked in business for himself, since which time he has steadily grown in public favor, until he ranks among the leading merchants of Chambersburg. He enjoys the distinction of having been in business for forty-eight years, the longest term of any merchant here.

Mr. Keefer married Miss Rebecca Seibert of Chambersburg, daughter of Samuel and Agnes (Grove) Seibert, old settlers of Franklin county. Mr. and Mrs. Keefer became the parents of the following children:

  1. GEORGE G., of York, Pa., married Bertha Mumper, of York county, and they have three children: John, Samuel and Paul.
  2. ALICE married Dr. H. B. Creitzman, of Welsh Run, Pa., and they have one daughter: Mildred.
  3. CHARLES W. is assistant manager of his father’s dry goods business at Chambers-“bur g.
  4. MAURICE W., of Steelton, Pa., married Rose Stewart, and has one son: Stewart.
  5. ANNIE is at home.
  6. FLORENCE is at home.

In politics, Mr. Keefer is a sound Republican, and always supports the platform and candidates of his party, but has been too much occupied with his business affairs, to seek public office, although he is so popular in the city, that there is no doubt but that he could obtain almost any office within the gift of his fellow townsmen. In religious affiliations he is an earnest member of the Lutheran Church of Chambersburg, of which he has been deacon and trustee for many years. His fraternal associations have been of the most pleasant, he being an honored member of the I.O.O.F., and one of the most active supporters of that lodge.

Beginning many years ago, when commercial conditions were so essentially different from those of today, Mr. Keefer built up a business of which any man might well be proud; established a credit for his house that could not be shaken, and has gradually changed his policy to meet changed circumstances. Upon his books can be found names which were written there at the start, for once he gains a customer, it is seldom he loses him. Although he is somewhat advanced in years, Mr. Keefer is as energetic as ever, and superintends every detail of his large business, and ensures the same honorable treatment of all, which has been one of the leading characteristics of the house since its inception.


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.


Historical Vital Statistics website of Nova Scotia Archives is searchable in French and English.

I have a few favorite, go-to sites that I use much more than any others, and the Nova Scotia Archives site is one. Considering the substantial Acadian ancestry of my family, it’s no surprise that the majority of vital records for the majority of my ancestors are available on this site.

The searchable database of the Nova Scotia Archives contains almost one million names, each of which is linked to a corresponding vital registration, including births, baptisms, deaths and marriages. The records date from the mid-1700’s to the 1960’s, are all digitized and available online, and are searchable in French.

The records can be searched in both French and English on the Historical Vital Statistics website.

Genealogy Mystery: Who were Christian W. Keefer’s parents?

Christian W. Keefer (Chester) is an important figure in one of the main branches of my husband’s and children’s ascendancy. He married Mary Ann Jacques and they eventually settled and raised a family in Dodge County, Wisconsin.

After numerous years of research, however, I’m still left scratching my head at the mystery of the identity of Christian W. Keefer’s parents.

As can be seen in the list of sources I’ve found and logged for Christian (below), you would think that at least one of them would provide some concrete information about his parentage and place of birth, but that turns out to not be the case.

Here’s what I know for sure:

Christian W. Keefer was born October 1, 1811 in Pennsylvania and his family originated from France.

Christian W. Keefer's parents.
Sources for Christian W. Keefer.

That’s it.

I originally took a mention of Philadelphia as Christian’s birthplace in a biography of his son Charles with a grain of salt. I do believe that people did and do tend to describe where they’ve come from by using the nearest, largest center that would be recognized outside the area. For example, although we live in Chilliwack, BC, Canada, we frequently say we’re located near Vancouver to those who are not from the area. Considering this possibility, I would not rule out any birth location in Pennsylvania.

I have considered the possibility that our Christian may be one of the Christians mentioned of the Keefer / Kiefer family in the “Biographical Annals of Franklin County”. I was able to systematically eliminate every Christian mentioned because they could not have been born on or near the birth date of our Christian (Chester), or they married into different families, etc.

Another  possibility I’ve been checking is that his father (and possibly mother as well), may have immigrated to the United States from Germany (or Switzerland), but I’ve been unable to find immigration or naturalization records that show such a connection.

However, the same biography previously mentioned states that he was of French origin.

Through all of my research over the years, every Keefer family is of Germanic origin – except one.

The only family that shows of French origin in the time period is (lo and behold!) actually living in Philadelphia and is that of Anthony and Sarah (Shillingford) Keefer.

At the time, his family was very young with only mention of one brother born in 1810 – Thomas. The earlier births of the children of Anthony and his wife Sarah are about one year apart, leaving a gap just where Christian’s would be.

Keefer, Anthony; family pedigree chart
Family pedigree chart of Anthony Keefer, showing Christian, as I’ve entered it in my database (see

I would love to find proof beyond that of coincidence and speculation of Christian W. Keefer’s parentage. I’d like nothing better than to continue further back in time and expand on this huge Keefer family

If you or anyone you know has any documentation, images, etc. of this Christian Keefer showing his parents and brothers and sisters (or parts thereof), I would dearly love to see them, or better yet, get copies.


  1. Biographical Sketches of Old Settlers and Prominent People of Wisconsin: Vol. I (Waterloo, Wis., Huffman & Hyer, 1899); pdf file.
  2. State of Ohio, “Ohio, County Marriages, 1790-1950,” marriage, Family Search ( accessed
  3. Death certificate; Charles Keefer;  Digital Folder No.: 4008297; Image No.: 1576; Film Number: 1674527; Certificate No.: cn 23384. (7 June 1933), Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947, State of Illinois;
  4., “Wisconsin Deaths and Burials, 1835-1968,” database,, ( accessed ).
  5. Rootsweb, “Wisconsin Death Records,” database, Rootsweb, Rootsweb ( accessed ).
  6. Keefer, Christian W., Beaver Dam Argus, Beaver Dam, Dodge County, Wisconsin, , Obituary.
  7. Obituary of Mary Ann (Jaques) Keefer.
  8. 1880 US Federal Census, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, Beaver Dam, Dodge, Wisconsin, enumeration district (ED) Enumeration District: 004, Page: 47A, Year: 1880; Census Place: Beaver Dam, Dodge, Wisconsin; Roll: 1422; Family History Film: 1255422, Keefer Christian W.; digital image, ( : Internet 13 July 2013).
  9. 1870 US Federal Census, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, year: 1870; census place: elba, dodge, wisconsin; roll: m593_1710; page: 165a; image: 338; family history library film: 553209, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, enumeration district (ED) Roll: M593_1710; Image: 337; Family History Library Film: 553209, Page: 164B, Roll: M593_1710; Image: 337; Family History Library Film: 553209, Keefer Christian W; digital image, (  : Internet 7 September 2013).
  10. 1860 US Federal Census, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, roll: m653_1405; page: 303; image: 308, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, Page: 303, Roll: M653_1405; Image: 308; Family History Library Film: 805405, Keefer Christian W.; dgs no.: 4298900; image no.: 0038; nara no.: m653, (  : Internet 7 September 2013).
  11. 1850 US Federal Census, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, roll: m432_996;  image: 209, , Page: 104A, Roll: M432_996; Page: 104A; Image: 209, Keefer Christian W.; digital image, Family Search ((  : Internet 7 September 2013).
  12. 1840 US Federal Census, Painesville, Lake, Ohio; digital image,, (  : accessed ).
  13. 1830 US Federal Census, Antrim, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, age: 395; nara series: m19; roll number: 151; family history film: 0020625; digitalk image, (  : accessed ).

Transcription: Newbury Marriages; Jaques

Transcription: Newbury Marriages; Jaques

Newbury Marriages

The following is my transcription of the pages concerning variations of the Jaques / Jacques surname marriages in Newbury, Massachusetts.

Page 256

…(other names)…
JAQUES (see also Jacques), Ann, and Robert Adams, jr., Oct. 29,  1725.*
Benjamin, and Apphia Coffin, May20, 1725.*
Benjamin, and Mary Noyes, Dec. 5, 1727.*
Benjamin, and Mary Adams ofRowley, at Rowley, Mar. 25, 1760.*
Benjamin (jr. int.), and Judith Noyes, Mar. 4, 1762.*
Betsey, and Jacob Hidden, int. Mar. 14, 1812.*
Charles, and Marcy Thurlo, Feb. 5, 1821.*
Daniell, and Mary Williams, Mar. 20, 1692-3.
David, and Dolley Richards of Newburyport, int. Nov. 24, 1804.
Deborah, and Cutting Lunt, Dec. 10, 1735.*
Deborah, and Capt. Israel Adams, Nov. 11, 1779.*
Deborah, and True Brown, jr. of Deerfield, N. H., Feb. 5, 1825.*

Newbury Parish Church
Newbury Parish Church

Page 257

Jaques, Eleanor, and James Noyes, May 7, 1747.*
Eleanor, and Benjamin Short, Dec. 16, 1813.*
Eliphalet, and Lydia Adams, Jan. 3, 1737-8.*
Elisabeth, and Enoch Knight, Nov.11,1736.*
Elisabeth, and Moses Moodey, June 12, 1744.*
Elisabeth, andAmos Knight of Newburyport, Jan. 12,  1797.*
Ellanor, and Benjamin Short, Dec. –, 1808 ? C. R. 1.
Enoch, and Mary Hale, int. Jan.  8, 1772.
Enoch, and Joanna Plumer, Feb. 9, 1797.*
Enoch, jr., and Sally Williams Tilton of Newburyport, May 26, 1811.*
Eunice, and Samuel Pearson, int.Dec. 5,  1767.
Eunice, and Jacob Haskell of Newburyport, Dec. 23, 1819.*
Florence, and James Safford, Apr.  5, 1763.*
Hanna, and Ephraim Plumer, Jan. 15, 1679.
Hannah, and  Ephraim B. Horn, Sept.  21, 1815.*
Henry, and Anne Knight, Oct. 8, 1648.
Henry, and Mrs. Rebecca Pikering of Portsmouth, int. Apr. 10, 1706.
Henry, and Mary Coffin, Jan. 24, 1711-12.*
Henry Cromwell, andPolly Follansbee of Newburyport, int. May9, 1807.
John, and Sarah Jaques, June 12, 1746.*
Joseph, and Martha Brown, Mar. 4, 1756.*
Judeth,  and William Dole, Apr.3, 1755.*
Judith, and Abraham Mace (jr. int.)of Newburyport, Apr. 16, 1795.*
Love, and Robert Adams, 3d, Sept 6m 1738.*
Lydia, and  Capt. Kindal Pearson of Wilmington, Jan. 30, 1737-8.*
Lydia, and Tristram Lunt, Feb. 20, 1799.*
Martha, and Enoch Thurston of Newburyport, May 28, 1794.*
Mary, and Richard Brown, May 7, 1674 (1675. CT. R.)
Mary, and  Parker  Greenleaf, Nov. 24, 1715.*
Mary, and  Samuel Peirce, Oct. 19, 1738.*
Mary, and James Greenough of Bradford, Dec. 13, 1759.*
Mary, of Gloucester, and Simon Thorla, int. Mar. 15, 1770.
Mary, and John Knight, Jan. 12, 1809.*
Mary, and Stephen Adams, jr., Jan. 27, 1814.*
Mary A., of West Newbury, and William Giddings, int.Aug.1, 1846.

Page 258

Jaques, Mehetabel, and Richard Smith, Oct. 11, 1779.*
Moses, and Sarah Woodman, Nov. 4, 1778.*
Moses, and Abigail Hale, Aug. 15, 1782.*
Moses, and Rebekah Hills, July –, 1792.*
Moses, jr., and HannahChase, int. Oct. 27, 1804.
Parker, jr., and Sarah Adams, Dec. 1, 1767.*
Phebby, and Joseph Ilsley, Sept. 3, 1798.*
Prudence, and Edmund Knight, June 11, 1751.*
Rebeckah, and John Dodge of Newburyport, int. Sept. 22, 1804.
Rhoda, and John Loud Tilton, Jan. 25, 1814.*
Richard, and Ruth Plumer, Jan. 18, 1681.
Richard, and Elisabeth Knight, Feb. 25, 1713-14.*
Richard, jr., and Mrs. Judith Noyes, Feb.  19, 1722-3.*
Richard, of Gloucester, and Mary Ilsley, Jan. 13, 1785.*
Richard, and Polly Emerson of Hampstead, N. H., int. May 15, 1792.
Richard, Lt., and Eunise Thurston, Nov. 28, 1799.*
Richard T., and Caroline Noyes, Aug. 20, 1837.*
Ruth, and Stephen Emery, Nov. 29, 1692.
Ruth, and JamesShort, Apr. 19, 1737.*
Sally, of Bradford, and Samuel Jewett, int. Mar. 5, 1814.
Samuel, and Mary Noyes, May  8,  1750.*
Samuel (jr. int.), and Eunice Chase, Aug. 12, 1779.*
Samuell, and Lydiah Pike, Dec. 12, 1717.
Sarah, Mrs. and Moses Little, jr., Feb. 12, 1716-17.*
Sarah, and John Jaques, June 12, 1746.*
Sarah, and Somersby Chase, Apr. 16, 1777.*
Sarah, and Dudley Rogers, jr., of Newburyport, int. Aug. 25, 1798.
Sarah B., and JohnEngland,Dec. 3, 1818.*
Sophia, and John Ladd, Aug. 25, 1814.*
Stephen, jr., and Mrs. Thankfull Taylor of Yarmouth, int. Feb. 21,  1712-13.
Stephen, and Mary Bartlett, July 6,1783.*
Stephen, and Mehitabel Hovey, Nov. 15, 1792.*
Steven, and Debora Plumer, May 13,  1684.
Susanah, and Moses Noyes(jr. int.), May 21, 1738.*
Susannah Newman, and Benjamin Rolf of Portland, int. Apr. 30,  1803.
Theophilus, and Sarah Wood of Newburyport, int. Mar. 14, 1795.

Page 259

Jaques, William, and Lydia Bartlet of Newburyport, int. Mar. 11, 1815.
William, andE lizabeth Savory, May 3,  1815.*
…(other names)…


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

My “Can’t Do Without” Genealogy Tools List

Over the years I find myself returning to the same tools and sites to further my genealogy research. Some of them are not easily found and I thought it might be an idea to list them here for you. The two sites I use continually are and .

Below is a list of my favorite tools and research aides.

Google Genealogy Searches

  • Free Genealogy Search Help – Although linked in the Google Genealogy Search link page listed next, this is the one Google search tool I use most often – and therefore I’m listing the direct link here. It creates a series of searches using different groupings of keywords from the input boxes for given names, surnames, birth and death places.
  • Easy Google Genealogy Searcher (by Ancestor Search)
  • Several pre-set custom Google searches and Tools. This is especially valuable for those who are not familiar with the codes and conventions for custom searching in Google. Each tool lists valuable tips to get better results below its search window. These searches include:
  • Google Genealogy Search
  • Search for Genealogy Surname Website
  • Google Book Search – I especially love this one. I’ve found some of my most obscure, interesting and valuable information with this.
  • Google Blog Search
  • Google Newspaper Search
  • Google Search Within or Excluding a Genealogy Site
  • Search for Sites Similar To – Enter the url of a site you’d like to use as an example.
  • Search for Gedcom Files
  • Search US Newsgroups for Genealogy Queries
  • Search for Definitions of Genealogical Words
  • Google Calculator for Genealogy Uses
  • Search for Genealogy Images
  • Search by Location
  • Google Search for a US Street Map
  • Google Search by Language and Country
  • Google Translate Text
  • Translate a Genealogy Web Page
  • Google Search by Family Tree

Search Tools

  • – Your Internet Genealogy Guide – Lists links, newsletters, publications, societies and free e-mail.
  • Genetic Genealogy – Search for and linking to DNA heritage.

Dates / Calculators / Generators

Indexes and Lists

Networking and People Search Tools

Atlases and Maps

 Reference Materials

Genealogical Photo Sharing Sites


Transcription: Andreas Keefer (Andrew Keefer), Will and Testament

The following is my transcription of the Will of Andreas Keefer.

Andrew Keefer – Will

IN the name of God Amen. I Andrew Keefer of Hanover Township Lebanon County State of Pennsylvania being weak in body but of sound mind and disposing mind memory and understanding calling to mind the uncertainty of this transitory life and knowing that it is appointed to all men once to die have hereby made my last will and testiment in manner and form following to wit whereas I have already given to my sons George Keefer, Frederich Keefer & Andrew Keefer Twenty Two hundred and Forty four dollars and twenty two cents as charged against them. It is my will and I do order that they shall receive no more of my estate till each of my other children to wit Jacob Keefer, John Keefer, Elizabeth intermarried with John Bamgardner, Eve intermarried with Casper Dasher, Catherine intermarried with Philip Johannes and Sarah or their legal representatives shall have each have received a like sum of Two Thousand Two Hundred and Fourty four and Twenty Two cents. I give and bequeath to my daughter Sarah the plantations piece of land whereon I now live building and improvements together with the wood land which I reserved off my son Frederich’s place supposed to contain in the whole fifty acres or there abouts to her heirs and assignees forever she allowing therefore forty dollars per acre but of it should not amount to her equal share she must have it made up to her out of my other estate. It is my will and I do order that the residue of my estate both real and personal and mixed after each of my said children or their legal representataives shall have the aforesaid sum of Two Thousand two hundred and Forty four dollars and twenty two cents shall be equally distributed to and amongst all my children or their legal representatives share and share alike. It is further my will that my daughter Sarah shall have her choice in iron Pots and Kettles. I do order and direct that the share of my estate which is due or will be  due coming to my daughter Eve intermarried with Casper Dasher the said Eve shall have the one half of share the other half to Eve’s children which Eve and Dasher will have. I do order that after there is money due beginning at the one that has the ? Siste now and so on but not till after my death. It is my will and I do order that in addition to what I have willed to my daughter Sarah I give her one full years living out of my estate that is to say all the household and kitchin furniture that she may want together with wheat rye and other grain which she may want for her own use for and during the term of one year she shall have the stove and one bed which ever she uses besides her own ?—- in her own right as also her choice of one cow of mine for her own use. It is further my will that all the bonds from my children wich? is in my  ____ ____ ____ ____  time shall bear no interest till after my decease. As lastly I do hereby nominate my beloved son Frederich Keefer and my Son in law John Baungardner?  to be the executive of this my last will and testiment declaring that no other my last will and testiment. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this nineteenth day of May One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-Seven.

Signed sealed published and pronounced by the testaor as his last will and testiment in the presence of us who in his presence and at Ihis request have hereunto set our names.

jacob Unger     John Snyder

Further it is my will and I do order that my son Jacob Keefer children shall have his legal share but no more when they arrive to their legal age.

Recorded Jan 25th 1828     Peter Lineweaver      Registrar

Andreas Keefer’s Will


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

Transcription: Baptism Record for Marie Marguerite Yvette Bourgeois

The following is my transcription and translation of the baptism certificate for Marie Marguerite Yvette Bourgeois.


Extrait du régistre de baptémes, marriages, sépulture. De la paroisse de St. Hughes du Lac Saguay, from l’année mil neuf cent quinze.

Marie Marguerite Yvette Bourgeois baptism certificate.
Marie Marguerite Yvette Bourgeois baptism certificate.

Le trente et un octobre mil neuf cent quinze, nous frétre, soussigné, arons baptisé Marie Marguerite Yvette, née le quatre aout,fille légitimé de Émile Bourgeois, cultivateur, et de Marie-Anne Turmel de cette paroisse. Le frarraine a été Gédéon Grondines et la Marraine Antoinette Sauvéles quels ont déclaré ne savoirsigner. Le frère é tait présent et a signé avec nous Lecture faite.

Émile Bourgeois
Josephat Cossette

Lequel extrait conforme a l’original ce 31 mars 1931.

E. Brousseau
Lac Saguay


Extract from the register of baptisms, marriages, and burials. The parish of St. Hughes Saguay Lake, from the year one thousand nine hundred and fifteen.

On 31 October, nineteen hundred and fifteen frétre we hereby arons named Yvette Marie Marguerite, born August 4, legitimate daughter of Emile Bourgeois, farmer, and Marie-Anne Turmel of this parish. The godfather was Gédéon Grondines and godmother Antoinette Sauvéles who swore as such and signed. The priest was present and signed after reading.

Emile Bourgeois
Josephat Cossette

Extract which conforms to the original March 31, 1931.

E. Brousseau
Saguay Lake


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

Transcription: Obituary for Alanson Adams

Transcription of an obituary for Alanson Adams.

Fond du Lac Daily Commonwealth, Page 4

Tuesday, April 26, 1881

Alanson Adams
Alanson Adams


The death of Mr. Alanson Adams of our city on the 23rd instant, is an event of more than ordinary interest.  Born in the year 1792, in the third year of Washington’s first term, his life covers nearly the whole period of our constitutional history.  We are fairly startled at the rapidity of our country’s development, as compared with other countries, when we contemplate its history being crowded into the lifetime of one man.  During this period the small circle of States bordering the Atlantic coast, few in population and impoverished by war, has been enlarged until it now engirdles the continent.  A great nation, ranking among the first in power, wealth and influence has been developed within this comparatively short space of time.  Human life can no longer be said to be short, if we measure it by the achievements comprehended within its.limits.

Mr. Adams is identified with the history of our country in one of the most endearing relations.  Every country venerates the memory of its soldiers.  Especially is this true of a republic, which must depend very largely on the valor and patriotism of its volunteer soldiers for defense. The deceased belongs to that noble band whom our nation delights to honor.  In early manhood, at the call of his country, he entered her service in the war of 1812.  He was in several engagements during this war, among which were the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane.  At the latter place he was wounded.  Thus another one of the few surviving heroes of this war has been laid away to that rest which no battle call, or shock —–will ever disturb.

But in still another and not less important cause was the deceased identified with the history and progress of our country.  He belonged in the class of pioneers peculiar to our country, and yet sometimes overlooked, and underestimated in making our estimates of the elements entering late American progress.  To this class of our population, essentially nomadic in its character, does our country owe very much of its greatness to-day.  By it has been laid the foundations of that grand super-structure of American nationality which has no parallel in history.  Reared in central Vermont he became identified with the early struggles of that State.  In 1818 he was married.  The union thus formed continued some fifty-four years.  In 1844 with his family, consisting of one son and two daughters, he removed to Ohio.  Here he remained until 1860, when he moved to Wisconsin, where he has since resided.  Since the death of his wife, some ten years ago, he has made his home with his son, E.D. Adams, of our city, where he died.

The deceased was a devoted Christian, having been a member of the Baptist church nearly sixty years.  He will be deeply mourned by the church to which he had endeared himself, and the circle of friends how knew him best.   The sympathies of its many friends are extended to the bereaved family, with the assurance that our loss is his gain.


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.


New Link: Online Newspapers Archive

Learning of this online newspapers archive site was very exciting to me. Some of the most valuable information we can find in our genealogical search comes from newspaper accounts because they provide a more detailed reflection of the lives of our ancestors – not just facts and figures. I have added this link to the main ‘Genealogy Links’ page in the top menu.


Online newspapers archive.
Online newspapers archive.

The Online Newspapers Archive site endeavours to centralize the thousands of historical newspapers from various sources in one location.

The first newspapers I looked for were those in the Acadian territories of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick before, during and after the expulsion. My family names do show in the papers available after 1850, but it will take some time to sift through them.

The newspapers for Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois and Kentucky also look promising as a great deal of our family history took place in these states.

One great disappointment, though is that there is nothing yet for the United Kingdom.

Although there are great gaps in the newspapers available for some geographical regions, what is available could provide that ‘gem’ one or more of us have been seeking.

I definitely intend to investigate this site further. is in cahoots with public records agencies, a group suspects.

A nonprofit claims its request to obtain genealogical records from state archives was brushed aside in favor of Ancestry’s request.

I know that Michael Peck, my great-great-great-grandfather, died on July 14, 1922. I know this because last October I visited the cemetery in Cornwall, New York, to find the date on his headstone. I had been searching for information on Michael for almost a decade on, but never found any information about his death. Had I waited until a few weeks ago, I could have saved myself the trip upstate. Ancestry finally added the New York State Death Index for 1852–1956 to its collection, and I would have found Michael’s date of death with a few clicks of a mouse.

This new archive on Ancestry, however, was added under questionable circumstances, one genealogist claims. Brooke Schreier Ganz, the founder of the nonprofit group Reclaim the Records, has filed a lawsuit against the New York state agency handling the records, calling into question whether it engages in backroom dealings or preferential treatment with Ancestry.

According to the lawsuit, “although the same Records Access Office at [the Department of Health] handled both [Freedom of Information Act] requests, the timeline and procedures followed throughout the process for Ms. Ganz and Reclaim the Records was different than it was for”

Read on . . .

Source: Is In Cahoots With Public Records Agencies, A Group Suspects

What does Elizabeth Warren’s ‘native’ ancestry mean?

On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released results from DNA testing, suggesting she has Native American ancestry and thrusting the issue of genetic testing and Native American identity into the spotlight.

The DNA report comes after years of political back-and-forth exchanges between Warren and Republican opponents, who accuse her of pretending to have Native American blood to further her law career. A DNA “fact check” on a political debate would have seemed like science fiction even a few election cycles ago. Even today, though, DNA ancestry testing is not as simple as it might seem, especially when it comes to the search for a Native American identity. [How Do DNA Ancestry Tests Really Work?]

“It’s important to be thinking about where community and culture is derived from,” said Matthew Anderson, a geneticist at The Ohio State University, who is of Eastern Cherokee descent. “It’s not the DNA.” . . .

Read on . . .

Source: What Does Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Native’ Ancestry Mean?

Journey through centuries: An ancestral doppelganger is discovered!

My biggest fascination with my genealogy research is finding old photos of the people – especially any rare ancestral doppelganger to current family members.
An ancestral doppelganger is discovered!
Marshall Matthews Blythe (Mark’s father) c. 2004.
An ancestral doppelganger is discovered!
Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky, c. 1812 – An ancestral doppelganger!

These images bring some life to the profile created by the fact finding of my research and brings these characters closer and makes them more relatable and understandable.

A while ago, while I was researching the Shelby family which included the original Welsh Quaker immigrant Evan Isaac Shelby (8th great grandfather to my father-in-law), his son Brigadier General Evan Shelby (7th great granduncle) and Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky (1st cousin, 8 times removed, and born in 1750),

I was immediately struck by the resemblance between my father-in-law and Governor Isaac Shelby.

Considering this relationship spans seven generations, it is quite amazing!

In another instance, I was doing some research for a friend who was curious about what happened to one mysterious great great aunt who had a past around which there had been rumours. Upon researching, I discovered that she was actually the birth mother of a girl who was raised by another family member, believing this person was her own aunt.

At the time of the child’s birth, this woman worked as a domestic in the home of a wealthy entrepreneur in the late 1800’s and became pregnant, having the child out of wedlock.

Knowing how often the domestics were taken advantage of by the men of the house, I looked into it further, believing he might be the baby’s father. I was sort of surprised (but not too much) to find a picture of this gentleman’s grandson and great-grandson – and there was a definite resemblance! In this case it was not quite as striking, but was there nonetheless around the mouth and eyes.

Questions raised about the legitimacy of the Plantagenet kings by DNA of Richard III.


We now know that an adulterous affair had broken the male line in Richard III‘s family tree.


In attempts to answer the resulting questions, further genetic testing was done on the skeleton of Richard III, which had been found in 2012 under a parking lot in Leicester.

King Edward III Plantagenet
King Edward III

More recent genetic testing was done, where the Y chrosomes of five male relatives of Henry Somerset were compared with those of Richard III. These five are also believed to descend from Edward III, Richard III’s great great grandfather.

Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort
Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort

The results showed that the expected match between Richard III and the five descendants of Henry Somerset did not exist, indicating that there had been at least one instance of an illegitimate child born from an affair.

In an attempt to investigate further, they tested the DNA of Patrice de Warren of France, who could trace his family tree back to Richard III via Count Geoffrey of Anjou.

If Patrice de Warren’s DNA showed a match with Richard III, the male line must have been broken between Edward III and the Somerset line. If his DNA matched that of Henry Somerset, the suspect affair would have occurred between Edward III and Richard III.

Shockingly, the test did not validate either theory as de Warren’s DNA was not a match to Henry Somerset or Richard III. This indicates that there must have been a second affair somewhere in the same lines.

If Patrice de Warren was found to match the Plantagenet DNA, then that of Richard III’s line and Henry Somerset’s line were the result of affairs outside the House of Plantagenet.

It is difficult to determine when the affairs occurred, but it is likely to have happened in the generations between Geoffrey, Count of Anjou and Patrice de Warren. If that line is proved to be valid, then there must have been an affair between Richard III and the Count of Anjou.

Although these findings don’t affect the modern monarchy, they could undermine the lineages of the Stuart, Tudor and Windsor lines.

The DNA of the de Warrens in the United States and Australia, and males from the family of the Duke of Beaufort are likely to be tested in an attempt to answer these questions, thereby avoiding invasive efforts such as exhuming bodies.


Vikings were in Greenland, Ireland and Britain much earlier than previously thought.


We now know Vikings were in Greenland, Ireland and Britain much earlier than previously thought.


Archaeological finds in Greenland show that vikings managed to survive Greenland’s bitter, harsh weather for substantially longer than previously believed.

According to Christian Koch Madsen, an archaeologist with the National Museum of Denmark, “The stories we have heard so far about the climate getting worse and the Norsemen disappearing simply don’t hold water.”

He claims there were only 2,500 individuals living in Greenland throughout the middle of the thirteenth century, contradicting earlier estimates of the population at 6,000.

As the harsh climate changes began to set in, the outlying farms were slowly abandoned, indicating strategies to deal with climate deterioration were implemented.

Over time, the land became even more barren, resulting in a further shrinking population, formation of larger settlements and a centralized economy.

Viking swords
Viking swords

In an earlier shocking discovery,  the remains of four young men were excavated a decade ago by Irish archaeologists working under Dublin’s South Great George’s Street. Also buried with the remains were shields, daggers, and ornaments, providing more evidence of a Viking population in Ireland.

Previous discoveries had been dated to the ninth to tenth centuries, and the South Great George’s Street graves were believed to be four more examples.

These beliefs were disproved when the excavation leader sent the Viking remains for carbon dating, learning that the remains had been buried for years to decades prior to the previously accepted date.

As a result of these findings, it is believed that the Vikings did not take up residence in Great Britain after a violent invasion, but rather, settled more slowly in random, small settlements.

It appears that the Vikings were present and already trading before any known raids occurred.



The Vikings in Ireland;

Vikings Survived Greenland’s Harsh Weather for Centuries;

Photo credits:

“Viking swords” by Own work – Picture taken by viciarg ᚨ at the Vikingermuseum in Haithabu, Germany. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –

“Box and scales” by Berig – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –