All things history and genealogy.

All things history and genealogy.

Tag: American

Transcription – Obituary for Doyle Clement Cadwallader

 

Obituary of Doyle Clement Cadwallader

 

Obituary of Doyle Clement Cadwallader
Obituary of Doyle Clement Cadwallader

10/20/1944 Press Gazette

 

OBITUARY

 

“In the midst of life we are in death.
In the moment that ye think not,
In the twinkling of an eye,
The Angel of Death may appear.”

The foregoing quotation seems to me very fitting for Doyle Clement Cadwallader, whose death was caused by an automobile accident while he was returning home on September 30, 1944, when the last chapter was written in the book of his earthly life. It had been a short, simple but kindly story, the story of a good son and brother.

Doyle was next to the youngest of ten children, five sisters and four brothers, all living and all, were at his bedside when he passed away, in Hale Hospital, Wilmington, Ohio. The sons of Ira and Nannie Wilkin Cadwallader, he was born near Danville, Ohio, on March 15, 1925; and died on October 12, 1944, aged 19 years, 6 months and 17 days.

Doyle was a graduate of the Hillsboro High School in the class of ’42, after which he was employed as Desk Clerk and Bookkeeper at the Parker Hotel, in Hillsboro. On December 1, 1943, he enlisted in the Merchant Marine and served on a supply ship during the invasion of Southern France. He was home on a thirty-day furlough and would have retired to his duties on October 6th had the fatal accident not occurred.

He was united with the Church of Christ in Danville in his early boyhood days, where he still remained a member until his death.

While we have known his parents most all our lives, yet it was only since he began working at the hotel that we learned to know Doyle. Many times we discussed the present day trend of events as compared with those of yesterday. He was outspoken but tactful, showed a very high degree of intelligence and a promising future — A Friend.

___________________

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.

Originally posted 2015-12-17 15:32:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Genealogy Transcription: New England Marriages Prior to 1700; Kni – Kno.

 

Following is my transcription of “New England Marriages Prior to 1700″ for surnames starting with ‘K’ from Knight to Knowles, and all varied surnames of spouses.

 

_________________________________

 

NEW ENGLAND MARRIAGES PRIOR TO 1700

 

Knight - U.S., New England Marriages Prior to 1700

445

KNIGHT, Joseph (1673-) & Martha (GIBSON) LILLEY, w Reuben; 4 Apr 1699; Woburn
KNIGHT, Lawrence (-1728) & Elizabeth INGERSOLL, m/2 John BATTEN 1729; 2 Nov 1696; Salem
KNIGHT, Macklin?/Mautlyn?/Matting? & Dorothy _?_; b 1643; Boston
KNIGHT, Michael & Mary BULLARD; 20 Oct 1657; Woburn
KNIGHT, Nathan & Mary [WESTBROOK]; b Mar 1693/4; Portsmouth/Scarboro
KNIGHT, Philip (-1668) & Margery __?__, ?m/2 Thomas BATEMAN, m/3 Nathaniel BALL 1670/1; b 1647; Charlestown/Topsfield
KNIGHT, Philip & Margaret [WILKINS]; b 1669; Topsfield
KNITE, Philip (1669-1696) & Rebecca [TOWNE] (1668-); b 20 Aug 1693; Topsfield
KNIGHT, Richard (1602-1683) & Agnes [COFFLEY?] (-1679); b 1632; Newbury
KNIGHT, Richard & 1/wf __?_; Hampton, NH
KNIGHT, Richard & Dinah ? ; b 15 May 1642; Boston Y
KNIGHT, Richard (-1680) & 2/wf? [Sarah ROGERS] (-1685+); b 16 Jan 1648(9?), b 1647?, 1648+/- Newport, RI
KNIGHT, Richard & Joanna __?__ (not Ann CROMWELL, w Thomas, m/3 John JOYLIFFE/JOLIFFE, see Robert KNIGHT); b 1652?; Boston
KNIGHT, Richard & Julian __?__; b 1664; Boston
KNIGHT, Richard & Hannah (TOWNSEND) HULL [ALLEN], w Thomas, w Hope, m/4 Richard WAY 1687; b 1680; Boston/Dover, NH?
KNIGHT, Richard & Remember GRAFFTON/GRAFTON; 10 Apr 1685; Marblehead/Boston
KNIGHT, Richard & Sarah [KEMBALL] (-1727, New London); b 1689; Charlestown
KNIGHT, Richard & __?__; b 1690; RI
KNIGHT, Richard (1666-) & Elizabeth [JAQUES] (1669-); b 1697; Newbury
KNIGHT, Robert (1585, 1590-1676) (ae 86 in 1671?) & _?__; b 1631, ca 1620?; York, ME
KNIGHT, Robert (ae 51 in 1666) & 1/wf b 1640; Boston/Salem/Marblehead/Manchester
KNIGHT, Robert (-1655) & 2/wf Ann CROMWELL, w Thomas, m/3 John JOYLIFFE 1656/7; b 1652; Boston
KNIGHT, Robert (1667—1739+) & 1/wf Abigail WILLSON/WILSON; 3 Feb 1686; Ipswich/Manchester
KNIGHT, Roger (1596-1673) & [Anne] __?__; b 1636, b 13 Jul 1633; ?Portsrnouth, NH
KNIGHT, Samuel (1649-) & Amy [CARLE]; ca 1670, bef 27 Jul 1676; Kittery, ME
KNIGHT, Samuel (-by 1715) & Sarah ( __?__ ) HOW, w Abraham; 16 Oct 1685; Roxbury
KNIGHT, Samuel (1675-1721) & Rachel CHASE, m/2 S. MUNKLEY; 19 Jul 1700; Tisbury/Charlestown/Sudbury
KNIGHT, Walter & Elizabeth __?__ (-1634?); b 1610?
KNIGHT, Walter (1587-) & ?2/wf [?Ruth GRAY]; b I642, b 1620?, 1635?; Salem
KNIGHT, William (-1655/6) & 1/wf [?Emma POTTER]; b 1638, b 1635?; Salem/Lynn
KNIGHT, William (-1655/6) & 2/wf Elizabeth (?LEE) BALLARD/BULLARD], W William, m/3 Allen BREAD; aft 1639; Salem
KNIGHT, _ ?__ & Sarah __?__ (1665-1727): New London
KNIGHT, __?__ & Sarah __?__; Boston
KNIGHT, Walter & __?__; b 1651; Braveboat Harbor
KNOTT, Andrew & Susanna __?__; b 1689; Boston
KNOTT, George (-1648) & Martha ? _ (-1673/4); b 1630?, b 1634; Sandwich
KNOTT, Richard (-1684) & Hannah (DEVEREUX) [GREENFIELD], w Peter, m/ 3 Joseph SOUTH by 1689; ca 1674?, aft 1672, ca 1672; Marblehead
KNOWER/KNOWES, George (1617, 1697?-1675) & Elizabeth __? _; b 1650; Charlestown
KNOWER, Jonathan & Sarah [WINSLOW]; b 1685, b 1680; Malden/Charlestown
KNOWLES, Alexander (-1663) & __?__; b 1634?; Fairfield, CT
KNOWLES, Edward (1671-1740) & 1/wf Ann RIDLEY; 27 Feb 1699/1700; Eastham
KNOWLES, Eleazer (?1645-1731) & Mary _ ? _ (-1732); ca 1681?, b 1683; Woodbury, CT
KNOLLYS, Rev. Hanser (1598-1691, in Eng) & Anne? …ENEY (-1671, in 63rd y); Dover, NH/Eng
KNOWLES, Henry (?1609-1670) & _ ? _ [POTTER] (-1670+); b 1645; Warwick, Rl
KNOWLES, Henry & __?__
KNOLLES, John (-1685) & Elizabeth (WILLIS?/BILLS?], w Ephraim DAVIS?; b 1641; Watertown/Eng
KNOWLES, John (-1705) & Jemima ASTEN/AUSTIN (1641-]; 10 Jul 1660; Hampton, NH

____________________

The complete original scans of any documents clips linked above can be accessed by clicking the images.

To access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, search using the linked names above or the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link, both in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results do sometimes differ. All data on these sites is available for free access and download.

 

Originally posted 2016-03-29 08:58:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Mark Blythe to Barack Obama Relationship Chart

 

The relationship chart illustrating the multi-generational, multi-cultural, multi-racial connections between Barack Obama and my husband Mark Blythe.

 

A while ago, we saw a genealogy chart in a Chicago newspaper online showing Barack Obama’s family tree, which includes one Ulrich Stehle (Steely), born about 1720 and died before 1773, living the entire time in Pennsylvania.

The connection is through Barack’s maternal line from his mother Stanley Ann Dunham and Mark’s paternal line.

We later discovered that Barack Obama and Mark are both related to John Bunch, the first documented slave in America, as described in a previous post.

Mark Blythe to Barack Obama Relationship Chart
Mark Blythe to Barack Obama Relationship Chart

Originally posted 2016-10-26 05:37:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Transcription: Draft Board Delinquents, Arlington Heights Herald, January 29, 1943

Following is the transcription of a newspaper article listing draft board delinquents printed in the Arlington Heights Herald on January 29, 1943.

 

Blythe, Clayton William - 1943 Newspaper
Blythe, Clayton William – 1943 Newspaper

Arlington Heights Herald

Volume 16, Number 23

Friday, January 29, 1943

 

List more delinquents of draft board

The following men, registered with Selective Service Local Board No. 1, are classified as suspected delinquents. Any person whose name appears upon the list should report immediately to this board, for correction of records. Failure to do so will cause the board to turn the name over to the United States Attorney for investigation.

John Paul Gasior, 255 N. Brockway, Palatine, Ill.

Walter Wilbert Simila, 634 Brainard st., Detroie, Mich.

John Jack Greschner, 33 N. W. 9th st., Miami, Florida.

Fred Edward Weaver, R. 1, Elgin, Ill.

Robert Loyd Wilt, Wheeling, Ill.

Peter Bose, Bartlett, Ill.

Walter Ladislaw Simo, Box 31, Clearfield, Utah.

Richard Eugene Mosher, General Delivery, Milton Jct., Wisc.

Herman Henry Kleeberg, R. 1, Box 2707, Des Plaines, Ill.

Clayton William Blythe, Palatine rd., Box 471, Arlington Heights, Ill.

Stephan Fritz, R. 1, Roselle, Ill.

Paul August Peske, R. 1, c/o Magnus, Arlington Heights, Ill.

George F. H. Rieckenberg, 3960 Elston ave., Chicago, Ill.

Roy E. Wilson, 502 S. Wapella ave., Mt. Prospect, Ill.

Martin Edward Nelson, R. 4, Elgin, Ill.

Thomas Parker, R. 1, Box 153, Dundee, Ill.

Herbert David James, R. 2, Otis rd., Barrington, Ill.

Ed. W. Hayes, R. 2, Palatine, Ill.

Carl Mendelsky, Karsten Farm, Arlington Heights, Ill.

Henry Mores Johnson, 15 N. State st., Elgin, Ill.

Joseph J. Hajny, R. 4, Box 4298, Elgin, Ill.

Joe Lapsansky, R. 1, Bartlett, Ill.

____________________

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.


Originally posted 2016-08-09 07:28:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Transcription – Civil War letters of Pte. David Coon now completed.

I’m very happy to say I have finally completed the transcription of the 100+ pages of letters from Pte. David Coon to his family during his time of service and his capture and imprisonment by Confederate forces in Libby Prison and then Salsbury Prison, where he died late in 1864.

I do apologize for taking so long, but it was a great deal of work and had to be done when I could find time amid my responsibilities updating and maintaining my four blogs and my daily responsibilities as a wife and mother of two young adults.

I have divided the transcription into individual website pages containing 10 pages of letters each. The pages can be easily scrolled through using the page navigation links at the bottom of each web page.

This is a treasured artifact of our family. We do not hold the original letters, but we do have an original typed transcription of the letters completed in 1913 (interestingly enough, 100 years old as of this year) by David’s son Dr. John W. Coon.

My Signature

Transcription: In Memoriam for Jean X. Roy.

The following is my transcription of the In Memoriam for Jean X. Roy upon his death.

Jean-Xavier Roy Memorial
‘In Memoriam’ for Jean-Xavier Roy.

In loving Memory of

Jean X. Roy

Died December 21, 1979

PRAYER

O GENTLEST Heart of Jesus ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, ever consumed with burning love for the poor captive souls in Purgatory have mercy on the soul of Thy departed servant. Be not severe in Thy judgment but let some drops of Thy Precious Blood fall upon the devouring flames and do Thou O Merciful Savior send Thy angels to conduct Thy departed servant to a place of refreshment, light and peace.

J. N. Boufford and Sons Inc.

_____________________

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, WWI Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 – John Croll Macpherson for John Croll MacPherson

This is my transcription of the US, WWI Draft Registration Card for John Croll Macpherson.

REGISTRATION CARD

US WWI Draft Registration Card for John MacPherson
US WWI Draft Registration Card for John MacPherson

SERIAL NUMBER: 1658

ORDER NUMBER: A782

CELL 1

John Crowl Macpherson     (First Name, Middle Name, Last Name)

CELL 2

PERMANENT HOME ADDRESS

1230 E. Flanders, Portland, Multnomah, Oregon     (No., Street or R.F.D. No., City or town, County, State)

CELL 3

Age in Years     32

CELL 4

Date of Birth     April 7, 1886     (Month, Day, Year)

_______________________________

RACE

CELL 5        White     X

CELL 6        Negro

CELL 7       Oriental

                    Indian

CELL 8       Citizen

CELL 9       Noncitizen

U.S. CITIZEN

CELL 10     Native Born

CELL 11     Naturalized

CELL 12     Citizen by Father’s Naturalization Before Registrant’s Majority

ALIEN    

CELL 13      Declarant     X

CELL 14      Non-declarant

CELL 15      If not a citizen of the U.S. of what nation are you a citizen or subject?     Scotland

PRESENT OCCUPATION

CELL 16      Mgr. Bakery

EMPLOYER’S NAME

CELL 17      Meier & Frank Co.

PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT OR BUSINESS

CELL 18      Sth (?) Morrison Portland Multnomah Or.     (No., Street or R.F.D. No., City or town, County, State)

NEAREST RELATIVE

NAME

CELL 19      Hilda Macpherson

ADDRESS

CELL 20      1230 E. Flanders Multnomah Or.     (No., Street or R.F.D. No., City or town, County, State)

I AFFIRM THAT I HAVE VERIFIED ABOVE ANSWERS AND THAT THEY ARE TRUE.

P.M.G.O.

Form No. 1 (Red)

John Croll MacPherson

(Registrant ?????????????????????)         (OVER)

REGISTRAR’S REPORT

36-1-16 “C”

DESCRIPTION OF REGISTRANT

HEIGHT

CELL 21      Tall

CELL 22      Medium     X

CELL 23      Short

BUILD

CELL 24      Slender

CELL 25      Medium

CELL 26      Stout

COLOR OF EYES

CELL 27      Brown

COLOR OF HAIR

CELL 28      Brown

CELL 29      Has person lost arm, leg, hand, eye, or is he obviously physically disqualified? (Specify.)     No.

CELL 30     

I certify that my answers are true; that the person registered has read or has had read to him his own answers; that I have witnessed his signature or mark, and that all of his answers of which I have knowledge are true, except as follows:

_____________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________

Mrs. William W. Porter

(Signature of Registrar)

Date of Registration     Sept. 12, 1918.

STAMP:

      |      LOCAL BOARD

      |     DIV. NO. 7

      |     COURT HOUSE

      |     PORTLAND, OREG.

(The stamp of the Local Board having jurisdiction of the area in which the registrant has his permanent home shall be placed in this box.)

??-????     (OVER)

___________________

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: Whitcomb burials of Lancaster, Massachusetts, prior to 1850.

Whitcomb Burials
Whitcomb Burials

Transcription of the Whitcomb burials of Lancaster, Massachusetts, prior to  1850.

THE

BIRTH, MARRIAGE AND DEATH

REGISTER,

CHURCH RECORDS AND EPITAPHS

OF

LANCASTER, MASSACHUSETTS

1643-1850

EDITED BY
HENRY S. NOURSE, A. M.
______

LANCASTER:
1890

EPITAPHS IN LANCASTER BURIAL GROUNDS OF
DATE PRIOR TO 1850.
____________

Whitcomb BurialsTHE OLD BURIAL FIELD.

The founders of the town, and their descendants during the 17th century at least, buried their dead without formal services—foll0wing the custom of the Puritans in England-—and perhaps a plot of ground for the family graves was sometimes selected within the home lot or orchard. Early in the present century ancient graves were visible near the sites of both the Roper and the Prescott garrisons. But in the infancy of the Nashaway Plantation, land adjoining the meeting-house site was set apart for common use as a “burying place.” The practice of marking graves by incribed headstones probably did not begin until after the resettlement, one apparent exception being that of Mrs. Dorothy Prescott, who died in I674. The oldest date now to be found is that over the grave of the first ]ohn Houghton—I684. For half a century all memorial stones were but fragments of slate riven from some ledge, or rough granite slabs, upon which unskilled hands rudely incised name and date,—the latter being often upon a foot-stone or on the back of the head-stone. Many of the older inscriptions are illegible to most eyes. In his History of Lancaster, Reverend A. P. Marvin has given a plan of this ancient burial place, upon which the marked graves are located and numbered, and has added literal copies of the epitaphs. In the following carefully revised list of inscriptions the same numbering is adopted. Their arrangement is indicated by division lines. Numbers omitted are of stones not lettered, or of misplaced foot-stones found to belong with other numbers.

Whitcomb Burials of Lancaster, Massachusettts
Whitcomb Burials of Lancaster, Massachusettts

410

LANCASTER RECORDS.

HERE LIES BURIED I Ye BODY OF MR | JEREMIAH WILSON| WHO DEPARTED | THIS LIFE | MARCH Ye 22d | A D 1743 | IN Ye 77th YEAR | OF HIS AGE
HERE LIES | THE BODY OF | JOSIAH WHE | TCOMB SEN. D | ECEASED IN H | IS 80 YEAR | JW DYED | MARCH THE | 21 1718
Here Lyes Buried | ye Body of Mr | DAVID WHETCOMB \ Who Died April | 11th 1730 in ye 62d | Year of His Age
Here lied Buried | ye Body of Mrs. Mary | Whetcomb Wife to | Mr. David Whetcomb, | Who Died Janury | 5th, 1733-4 in ye 67th | Year of Her Age.
Here Lyes Buried | ye Body of Mr. HEZEKIAH WHETCOMB | Who Died May 6th. | 1732 in ye 31st Year | of His Age

Of the 4 Whetcomb gravestones legible prior to 1850 only the stone of Josiah Whetcomb remains in 2013.

___________________

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.

 

Kaziah Hancock: Artist paints portraits in honor of fallen soldiers.

This video is actually quite old, but I find it – and the artist, Kaziah Hancock  – quite amazing!

Kaziah Hancock portrait.
Portrait of Dale Panchot by Kaziah Hancock.

She paints, frames, and ships the portraits of her ‘friends’ and ‘buddies’ to their grieving families, as with this one for Minnesota’s Dale Panchot.

I’m posting this video in honor of the US Memorial Day and the lost souls.

As a military daughter, wife and mother, I truly appreciate the efforts of anyone to honor our military heroes, especially those who gave their lives for their country, whatever country that may be.

photo credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc

Access to FBI files is possible with GetGrandpasFBIFile.com

InvestigationEver wondered how you can get information about a family member who my have been investigated in the past? A new website for accessing federal investigation files called GetGrandpasFBIFile.com can now help – at least with federal investigations.

No matter what the reason for the investigation is, major crime, murder, smuggling, you can search.

There is bad news however. These files will only be available for a finite period of time as only a small portion of these files will be preserved at the National Archives. The rest will be destroyed in the interest of saving space.

Files on living people will be provided with written permission.

I visited the GetGrandpasFBIFile.com site and placed a request for the file of an ancestor of ours, William Read Kirk, who was last known to be an inmate in the Ohio State Penitentiary at the time of the 1930 fire. Once I got into the site, I was asked to complete the form with contact information and mailing address and stipulate a maximum I will pay in fees if the quantity of pages exceeds the initial 100 free pages. After clicking next, I was taken to a new screen to view the letter completed using the information I had input. Finally, the letter was forwarded on my behalf to the FBI. They state it can take anywhere from one week to ten days to get a response.

In addition to GetGrandpasFBIFile.com, another site called GetMyFBIFile.com already exists to assist with getting one’s own FBI information, as well as records from the US Secret Service, US Marshals Service, Defense Security and Army Criminal Investigation Command.

How to Apply for a Métis Status Card

Symbols of MetisTo apply for a Métis Status Card (aka Aboriginal Status card, Indian Status card), first you need to get the required information to prove your native ancestors. If you’re wondering about who qualifies for Métis Status, generally anyone with Native ancestors is biologically Métis. Which card you have depends on who your ancestors were.

Usually this means you need to start with yourself, and work backward through your family tree. You cannot randomly pick out a native american you were told “you might be related to” and try to match your tree with that person. This is why it can take some time to get your tree together and time to find a native ancestral line.

Start by making a family tree chart. Every person on the chart has 2 parents, so they become like branches in the tree (you can find blank tree charts online). Write your name and birthdate as the first person, then add your parents as branches in the next column, then their parents in the next column, etc., with each generation in a separate column. Add the birthdates and marriage dates for each generation. Eventually you will need to search archival records or church records for previous generations, but always work backward in time, verifying ancestors as you go.

If and when you do find your native ancestors, you will need to get copies of all records linking each generation back along that line, because most organizations do not do this for you without charging a fee, as it is so time-consuming. Métis organizations are not funded by government to find your native ancestors and prove that line. It is up to you to prove to them who you are. Some organizations will not verify your line at all, and will simply refuse membership.

For yourself, you need a birth or baptism record that states who your parents were. Then for every person along that line, you will need a record that states who their parents were. Usually this is referred to as a “long form” record, because it provides proof of parents’ names. Because some families have multiple persons with the same name, the only way to know for sure whether each person is completely documented is to have both the birth and marriage records that state parents’ names. You will need records like this for each generation going back to your native ancestor. Names and dates obtained from regular internet sites or family trees are not considered proof. You need to get copies of the government or church records, or other legal documents, either online or from that agency.

Once you have copies of all the actual records to prove your native line (without any unproven gaps in the line), you need to find out which Métis organization best fits your ancestry, and will represent you as a member of their Métis community.

Métis organizations have different requirements, objectives, and offer different kinds of representation. They are not usually affiliated with each other and do not share the same membership information. They also offer varying services for the application fee. Some only give aboriginal status cards, others offer programs and services. If you are interested in having help with your tree and also knowing the results of whatever is found, you should ask the organization about this service, what it will cost, and what you will get for your money, as some provide your tree information and others don’t.

Before applying, you might want to speak to their representatives or employees personally, to help determine the likelihood of being accepted into their community, and whether you feel their community best represents you and your ancestry. Some organizations may deny you status if you don’t have a specific type of proof, so you don’t want to find out that you have paid an application fee only to be turned down, then have to pay another organization to apply to their registry. Conversely, other organizations may seem to require very little proof.

Either way, a solid Métis community registry should contain documented proof of every generation, from your baptism or birth record to your native ancestor, without gaps. If you only have your standard issued birth certificate that does not state your parents’ names, then you need to either get your baptism record from your church or your “long form” birth certificate, which is available from the government, and send in copies to the organization. You will also need this same kind of document for each generation. This is the only way a registry can prove that all of its members are actually descended from Native Americans. The amount of funding an organization gets will depend on the number of registrants who have complete documentation, and whether your organization is prepared to negotiate funding on your behalf.

Once you have decided which group to apply to and have got your paperwork in order, you are ready to apply for your Métis Card.

Go to the organization’s website, and download the Métis Status Card Application Form. Fill out one application per person. Add your documented proof either by supplying copies (never send actual records), or scan them as computer files.

Include the required photo, and sign the application. Either mail the package or send it by email with payment for processing (never send cash in the mail).

Check periodically to see if your application will likely be processed soon. Some organizations take over a year to process so you shouldn’t wait until the last minute. Once you have your status, you can let others in the family and community know how to apply for Métis Status Cards too!

Article Source:

Article Source:

Richard 3rd’s facial reconstruction illustrates show family traits can span generations.

A while ago, I watched with great interest the progress of the effort to positively identify the remains found in a Leicester parking lot as those of Richard III, as described in a past post.
News was later released that a Richard 3rd’s facial reconstruction was done from his skull and a photo was published on News Leicester next to that of his 17th generation nephew, Michael Ibsen.

Marsh Blythe: Richard 3rd's facial reconstruction illustrates show family traits can span generations.

Portrait of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky.

I hope it’s not just me, but I can see a familial resemblance and wonder if the likeness of Michael Ibsen had any bearing on the artist’s rendering, or if it was indeed solely based on the skull. If it is only based on Richard III’s skull, the resemblance is quite striking.

In an earlier post, I posted images of, and described the remarkable resemblance between my father-in-law (see right) and Isaac Shelby, nephew of my father-in-law’s seventh great grandfather (see above left), Governor of Kentucky and hero of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

I only wish I could one day compare these images with images of the original Shelby family immigrant, Evan (Dhu) Isaac Shelby (direct ancestor to both).

In another instance I had conducted research into a family friend’s background with the story surrounding the mysterious ‘aunt’ of another ancestor in mind. This aunt had always intrigued the family as they never knew much about her.

My research led me to the story of a young, single girl working as a domestic in the home of a wealthy business man, and soon becoming pregnant and bearing an illegitimate child. This girl turned out to be the mysterious aunt, only the ancestor, although believing she was an aunt, never learned she was actually her mother.

I wondered if this ‘aunt’ had become pregnant by her employer as there were no other males of an age to be candidates in the household. I managed to locate photos of a second generation descendant and his son who still owned and operated the family business. Upon comparison, I could see a definite likeness, although not quite as marked as in the two examples above. This likeness strengthened my belief that my conjecture was correct.

Without documentary proof of any kind and with no possibility of DNA testing, this is the best I can do.

It’s truly amazing to me how similar and consistent family traits can remain over the generations.

DNA Solved Mystery for the Child of the Last US Soldier Killed in Vietnam

On Friday, the family of John O’Neal Rucker gathered with Tia McConnell and her husband Allan and their two boys Matthew and Quentin at the Veterans’ Memorial at Linden’s courthouse to honor her newly discovered father.

Tia had been an orphan in Da Nang, and was adopted by Karen and Jack Whittier of Colorado after being evacuated from Vietnam. After a lengthy and problematic search for her birth family, Tia discovered that John Rucker was her father.

She honored her father with placement of a flag at the monument that recognized him as the last American soldier to die in Vietnam. Rucker had been a member of 366 Combat Support Group, 366th Tactical Fighter Wing during the Vietnam War, and was the last American soldier to die in Vietnam, having been killed by a rocket attack on January 27, 1973. Sadly, this attack and John’s subsequent death occurred only hours before the Paris Peace Accords were signed, ending the Vietnam War.

Mae Rucker, John’s mother, had met Tia and her family the day before, after Tia’s search led to John and DNA testing proved the connection. Despite a negative first test in comparison to John’s mother, they persevered and had another test done to confirm the result. This time her DNA was compared with John’s two sisters and the tests were positive, indicating a 91 percent match, which is impossible unless the parties are closely related.

This story has finally convinced Mark and I to get our DNA tested. It’s something I’ve been considering for quite a while now, but I’ve been hesitant because I wasn’t sure I trusted the process enough yet.

Mark and I want to test our DNA rather than our children’s because we feel it would allow us to maintain separation of the data from our two different branches. I’m curious to find if my suspicions are correct and there are commonalities between the two branches.

I’ll post later about the process and results.

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
SERIAL NUMBER: U827
NAME: Albert Rascher
ORDER NUMBER:

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: Same
(Mailing address if other than line 2. If same, insert word same)

Line 4
TELEPHONE: None

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

Line 6
PLACE OF BIRTH: Palatine Illinois

Line 7
NAME AND ADDRESS OF PERSON WHO WILL ALWAYS KNOW YOUR ADDRESS: Mrs. Meta Rascher, Same

Line 8
EMPLOYER’S NAME AND ADDRESS: Roselle Country Club

Line 9
PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT OR BUSINESS: Roselle – Illinois  Cook
(Number and street or R. F. D. number) (Town) (State)

I AFFIRM THAT I HAVE VERIFIED ABOVE ANSWERS AND THAT THEY ARE TRUE.

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
SERIAL NUMBER: U1257
NAME: Frank John Niles
ORDER NUMBER:

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: Same
(Mailing address if other than line 2. If same, insert word same)

Line 4
TELEPHONE: None

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

Line 6
PLACE OF BIRTH: West Milton, Ohio

Line 7
NAME AND ADDRESS OF PERSON WHO WILL ALWAYS KNOW YOUR ADDRESS: Bobbie Niles, West Milton, Ohio

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

Line 9
PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT OR BUSINESS:   West Milton, Miami, Ohio
(Number and street or R. F. D. number)     (Town)     (State)

I AFFIRM THAT I HAVE VERIFIED ABOVE ANSWERS AND THAT THEY ARE TRUE.

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: 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.

ROCHESTER HISTORY

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

VoL. VII JANUARY, 1945 No. 1

Henry O’Reilly

By DEXTER PERKINS

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.

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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.

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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-

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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-

16

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

17

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.

18

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.

19

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

20

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-

21

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

22

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

23

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.

24

___________________

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.

BIOGRAPHICAL ANNALS OF FRANKLIN COUNTY.

184

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.
  1. CHRISTIAN.
  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-

185

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.

 

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 http://blythegenealogy.com).

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.

Sources:

  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 (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XZ82-6QV: 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; https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NQCW-SP5.
  4. FamilySearch.org, “Wisconsin Deaths and Burials, 1835-1968,” database, FamilySearch.org, FamilySearch.org (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XL3P-121: accessed ).
  5. Rootsweb, “Wisconsin Death Records,” database, Rootsweb, Rootsweb (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~keffer/deaths/Wisconsin.htm: 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, Ancestry.ca (http://blythegenealogy.com : 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, Ancestry.ca (http://blythegenealogy.com  : 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, Ancestry.ca (http://blythegenealogy.com  : 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 ((http://blythegenealogy.com  : Internet 7 September 2013).
  12. 1840 US Federal Census, Painesville, Lake, Ohio; digital image, Ancestry.ca, Ancestry.ca (http://blythegenealogy.com  : accessed ).
  13. 1830 US Federal Census, Antrim, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, age: 395; nara series: m19; roll number: 151; family history film: 0020625; digitalk image, Ancestry.com (http://blythegenealogy.com  : accessed ).

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 FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com .

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

  • GeneaSearch.com – 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: 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

Retrospective

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.

 

Transcription: W. D. Matthews’ Spanish American War letter home.

This newspaper article provides a revealing glimpse into the life of an American soldier during the Spanish American War in Puerto Rico.

 

William Dennis Matthews

Featured image: Companies I and E, Sixth Regt., Illinois Volunteer Infantry from Whiteside County while serving as volunteers in the Porto Rican campaign during the Spanish-American war of 1898.

 

This is W. D. Matthews’ (my childrens’ 2nd great grandfather) Spanish American War letter home during his service in Puerto Rico.

W. D. Matthews served as a Private in Co. “E,” 1st Infantry Illinois Volunteers, and later transferred to Co. “A” Prov. Engr. Corps.

After his military service and graduation, he was a Fire Inspector and Insurance Underwriter in Chicago, Illinois and was ultimately instrumental in drafting and updating national fire regulations.

 

The transcription follows:

 

Newspaper article of W. D. Matthews
Newspaper article: print of a letter of W. D. Matthews during his service.

ACROSS THE ISLAND
______

WILL MATTHEWS MARCHES OVER PORTO RICO
______
Says the Natives Were Delighted to Hear That Peace Had Been Proclaimed — Loaned the Soldiers Their Horses and Walked — Snap Shots.

Mrs. E. D. Matthews of Ely, has just received the following letter from her son, W. D. Matthews, whose previous letters from Cuba and Porto Rico have appeared in the Gazette. He hopes to return home within a few weeks and resume his studies at Armour Institute, from which he will graduate in electrical engineering in 1899:

Ponce, Porto Rico, Sunday, Aug. 21 — Dear Folks: Your letter came to hand last night and found me enjoying good health. Just got back last Wednesday from a trip across the island to Aricebo, on the north coast; was gone eleven days; marched 125 miles and saw some grand scenery. The natives along the road treated us fine. We were about fifteen miles ahead of all our outposts, but saw no Spaniards. While at Utuado we heard that peace had been declared and saw the cavalry going out under a flag of truce, carrying the proclamation to Spanish soldiers in the mountains. There was a great demonstration by the natives when they heard about it.

They are very thrifty and take a great deal of stock in the soldiers. Two natives followed us clear across the island and back again and about twenty-five of them followed us for the first two days, carrying our guns and luggage; some of them had horses along, and let the boys ride them, walking themselves.

We have been working hard since we struck the island. This is the first day that I have had off. There was a whole regiment of engineers come in from New York the other day, so I think that we will have things a little easier now. Haven’t any idea of when we are going to be sent back, but hope that it won’t be long now. The First regiment is in New York now.
I will probably lose about a month of school, but that will be all.

Ponce is a flourishing little town of about 25,000. It has electric lights, one narrow guage railroad and an ice plant. Window glass is rarely seen, even in the finest houses. The kids go stark naken until they get to be about 4 years old. The women (except the negresses) all use plenty of face powder, but otherwise dress very neatly, using few ornaments. Eggs cost 8 cents apiece in cafes; buter they don’t have; goat cheese costs 20 cents a pound. We are all broke, but we are able to trade hard tack for stuff to eat, such as bananas, cocoanuts, candy, etc.

Well, I must close.

With love,

W. D. M.
Ponce, Porto Rico

____________________

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.

Dame Emma Albani (Emma Marie Louise Cécile Lajeunesse) of Chambly, Québec

Emma Marie Louise Cécile Lajeunesse (known professionally as Dame Emma Albani), was a world-renowned soprano for most of the 19th century and into the early 20th century.

 

Featured image: Dame Emma Albini (4th cousin 3 times removed) on her tours of Europe and North America, where she sang for Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm I and Csar Nicholas.

 

Emma Marie Louise Cécile Lajeunesse (Dame Emma Albini) at five
Emma Marie Louise Cécile Lajeunesse (Dame Emma Albini) at five years of age in about 1852.

She was also a harpist, pianist and teacher. Her birth date is commonly believed to be November 1, 1847 , although some believe she was born in 1848 or 1850. Emma was my fifth cousin, twice removed, as she was the fourth great granddaughter of my 7th great grandfather, Jean Jacques Labelle (1682-1748) of Île Jésus (Laval), Québec, Canada.

Chambly, Quebec
Emma’s birthplace, Chambly, Quebec.

In her own memoirs, Emma states her birth was in 1852 in Chambly, Québec, Canada to Joseph Lajeunesse (1818-1904) and Mélina Rachel Mélanie Mignault ( -1856).

Emma was the first Canadian singer to become internationally known and sought after. She performed operas composed by Bellini, Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and later, Wagner. Her audiences included such luminaries as Queen Victoria, Csar Alexander II, and Kaiser Wilhelm I.

Emma Lajeunesse’s parents, both musicians, recognized their daughter’s wonderful talent very early. Although she studied first with her mother, her father took over her tr

Royal autographs.
Autograph of Queen Victoria and other royals from Dame Emma Albani’s autograph book.

aining when she turned five. He was a great musician in his own right and was skilled with the harp, violin, organ and piano. Her practice schedule was very busy and strict, in which she dedicated up to four hours a day. In 1856, shortly after his wife died, Joseph Lajeunesse was hired to teach music at the Religious of the Sacred Heart Convent in Sault-au-Récollet (Montréal), where Emma and her sister Cornélia (nickname Nellie) were boarders.

Emma attended from 1858 to 1865, and her talent was evident to the convent’s nuns, who were forced to bar her from the convent’s musical competitions so other children had a chance of winning.

At eight years old, Emma performed her first concert on September 15, 1856 at the Mechanics’ Institute in Montreal. The critics were amazed, and recognized her as a prodigy. She also sang in Chambly, Saint-Jean (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), L’Assomption, Sorel, Industrie (Joliette), and Terrebonne, all in Québec.

Dame Emma Albani
Dame Dame Emma Albani in costume for her role as Amina.

Unable to finance a musical education in Quebec, where singing and acting were considered unsavory careers for a woman, Joseph Lajeunesse attempted to raise sufficient money to send her to study in Paris.

In 1865, Emma’s family moved to Albany, New York, stopping at several towns, including Saratoga Springs and Johnstown, where Emma and her sister performed. She became a popular singer in New York, and managed to save enough money for her studies.

Emma Albani in costume for Violetta
Dame Emma Albani in costume for Violetta.

In Albany, Emma was hired as soloist for the parish church of St Joseph, where she worked three years singing, playing the organ, and directing the choir. She also worked at composing scores, as well as musical pieces for harp, solo piano and two pianos.

With her father’s savings and financial assistance from well-wishers and parishioners, Emma was able to go to Paris to study at the ‘Paris Conservatoire’ with Gilbert-Louis Duprez, the famous French tenor. Not long after her lessons with him began, Duprez was heard to say about Emma, “She has a beautiful voice and ardor. She is of the kind of wood from which fine flutes are made.”

At the suggestion of her elocution instructor, Signor Delorenzi, she changed her name to the simpler Emma Albani, which sounded more European and happened to be a very old Italian family name. The closeness in sound of her new surname and ‘Albany’ in New York pleased her, as she had been treated so well there.

Emma continued to study in Milan, Italy for a year and with the assistance of eminent voice teacher Francesco Lamperti, she learned solid technique and, along with her rigid discipline, was able to maintain good vocal health. These techniques enabled her to perform a range of roles from light to dramatic.

Emma Albani in 1899.
Dame Emma Albani in 1899.

Emma’s funds diminished, and although she was not yet finished her training, she began to look for work during the 1869-70 season to help support her schooling. She found a position in Messina, and her operatic debut was on March 30, 1870, playing Amina in Vincenzo Bellini’s La Sonnambula. Her debut performance was very well received and she later stated, “I was literally loaded with flowers, presents, and poetry, the detached sheets of which were sent fluttering down in every direction on the heads of the audience; and among the numberless bouquets of every shape was a basket in which was concealed a live dove. They had painted it red, and the dear little bird rose and flew all over the theater.”

From the time of her debut in Messina, she realized that to portray historical characters, it was not enough to sing well and made a point of visiting museums and reading extensively.

She returned to Milan after her contract in Messina had expired and resumed her instruction with Lamperti. Meanwhile, more work offers began to pour in, including a role she accepted in Rigoletto, which was being performed in Cento. Other roles followed in Florence and Malta, with parts in Lucia di Lammermoor, Robert il Diavolo, La Sonnambula, Il Barbiere di Siviglia and L’Africaine.

After performing in Malta in the winter of 1870 to 1871, she auditioned for Frederick Gye, manager of Covent Garden in London. He was so impressed with her abilities, he signed her to a five-year contract. Before her London contract was to start, she returned to Italy to complete her studies with Lamperti.

Albani arrived in London in the spring of 1872 and her first performance under her contract was on April 2, 1872 at the Royal Italian Opera (the name taken in 1847 by Covent Garden in London) and was a great success. She was the first Canadian woman to perform in this opera house and would perform there until 1896.

Emma continued to perform in various roles and venues throughout Europe, Russia and the United States over the next five seasons. Her performances included that of Ophelia in Hamlet and the Countess in ‘The Marriage of Figaro’.

Queen Victoria later requested a private performance from Albani, who traveled to Windsor Palace in July, 1874 to perform “Caro Nome” from Rigoletto, “Ave Maria”, “Robin Adair”, and “Home, Sweet Home”. This was the first of many occasions on which Albani would perform for monarchs and other dignitaries, but it was also the beginning of a friendship and the two women would visit each other regularly until Queen Victoria died in 1901. Albani would also sing at the funeral of Queen Victoria.

Letter from Queen Victoria to Dame Emma Albani.
Letter from Queen Victoria to Dame Emma Albani.

Emma Albani toured the United States in the fall of 1874, visiting Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, Chicago and Albany.
In November 1874, Emma went on tour in the United States, where she performed her first role in a Wagner opera as Elsa in “Lohengrin” at New York’s Academy of Music. Her repertoire grew over the years.

After 1876, Emma’s sister Cornélia was always by her side. Cornélia was also a talented pianist and had studied in Germany, later teaching music to the children of the royal family of Spain. Cornélia worked her entire life as Emma’s accompanist and companion, dying soon after Emma.

Mr. Frederick Gye
Mr. Frederick Gye, father of Emma’s husband Ernest Gye.

Emma married Ernest Gye on August 6, 1878. He was the son of the director of the Royal Italian Opera and after his father died in an accident, he took over the position from 1878 to 1885. Their son, Ernest Frederick was born June 4, 1879, became a prominent diplomat and would die in London in 1955.

In 1880, as a result of playing Lucia in “Lucia di Lammermoor” and Gilda in “Rigoletto” at La Scala in Milan, Italy, Emma suffered a setback. The audience was already hostile to non-Italian singers in this theater, but she was not in very good voice, resulting in being unable to impress her listeners. Despite this, her career continued to grow since she performed in cities she had not previously visited.

Caricature from Punch, 17 September 1881: "MADAME ALBANI. A Thing of Beauty is a Gye for ever!"
Caricature from Punch, 17 September 1881: “MADAME ALBANI. A Thing of Beauty is a Gye for ever!”

In 1883, Emma and another singer, Adelina Patti, undertook a long tour in the United States, visiting Chicago, Baltimore, New York and Washington. She also gave three recitals in Montréal, for which appearance more than ten thousand people showed up to greet her, and poet Louis-Honoré Fréchette composed a poem in her honor which he read at a reception.

She remained attached to Canada and toured nine times to perform recitals from 1883 to 1906, traveling from one coast to the other. In1890 Emma performed in two complete operas at the Academy of Music in Montréal, Verdi’s “La Traviata” and “Lucia di Lammermoor”. Albani was always generous to charitable organizations and she supported and performed in a benefit concert in Montréal for Notre-Dame Hospital.

Albani became the first French Canadian woman to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on November 23, 1891 in “Les Huguenots”. That winter, she was in several other productions at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Albani retired from the Covent Gardens opera, and her final stage performance taking place in July 1896 at the Royal Opera House. To accommodate the changing tastes of the theater’s directors and the public, Emma had to show great flexibility and perform diverse roles. Emma received the royal Philharmonic Society’s gold medal or the “Beethoven Medal” in 1897.

Letter from Dame Emma Albani
Letter from Dame Emma Albani from her memoir titled “Forty Years of Song”.

Although retired, she still sang in recitals and in 1901 she traveled across Canada, traveling from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Vancouver, British Columbia. She then continued to go on tour in Australia (1898, 1907), South Africa (1898, 1899, 1904), Ceylon (Sri Lanka) (1907), New Zealand (1907) and India (1907). In 1906 she made her farewell Canadian tour. During this period she is said to have recorded nine titles (audio of one follows article) and some have since been remastered and are available today. Her ‘post-retirement’ career came to an end on October 14, 1911 when she gave her last public performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. That same year she released a book a book of her memoirs, “Forty Years of Song”.

She and her husband retired to Kensington where Emma’s last years were troubled by financial difficulties necessitating that she teach and occasionally perform in music halls. Her circumstances resulted from the war and poor investments, and in concern the British government voted her an annual pension of £100. Word of her difficulties reached Montréal, where “La Presse” sponsored a recital on May 28, 1925 in the Théâtre Saint-Denis. More than $4,000 was collected. Assistance was also sought from the Canadian and Quebec governments, who declined, stating that Albani had become more of a British subject than a Canadian citizen since she had resided in London since 1872).

Postage stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dame Emma's death.
Postage stamp issued by Canada Post in 1980 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dame Emma Albani’s death.

Dame Emma Albani died on April 3, 1930 at her home on Tregunter Road, Kensington, in London and was buried at Brompton, London, England.

During her lifetime, she received many awards, including the gold Beethoven Medal (given by the Royal Philharmonic Society of London) and the Medal of Honour commemorating Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1897. In 1925 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Of two streets that were named after Emma Albani in Montréal, the first was dedicated in the 1930s, but was later removed when the road was merged with another street, and the second was named Rue Albani in 1969.

Other honors included a postage stamp issued by Canada Post and designed by artist Huntley Brown. It was released July 4, 1980 and eleven million, seven hundred thousand copies of the stamp were printed. She is also immortalized in a stained glass mural at Montréal’s Place des Arts station.

Photo credits:

Wikipedia – Dame Emma Albani, online [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_Albani].

Sources:

  1. “Forty Years of Song,” by Emma Albani; Project Gutenberg Canada website; [http://www.gutenberg.ca/ebooks/albani-forty/albani-forty-00-h-dir/albani-forty-00-h.html]
  2. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online [http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=7930]
  3. Les Labelles, Daniel Labelle online [http:www.leslabelle.org]
  4. Wikipedia – Dame Emma Albani, online [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_Albani].

Transcription: Land Certificate of Christian W. Keefer

Land Certificate No. 17693 of Christian W. Keefer.

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Certificate No. 17693

To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting: Whereas Christian W. Keefer, of Lake County, Ohio has deposited in the GENERAL LAND OFFICE of the United States, a Certificate of the REGISTER OF THE LAND OFFICE at Milwaukee whereby it appears that payment has been made by the said Christian W. Keefer according to the provisions of the Act of Congress of the 24th of April, 1820, entitled “An Act making further provision for the sale of the Public Lands,” for the East half of the North East quarter of Section Fourteen, in Township Ten, North of Range Thirteen East, in the District of Lands subject to sale at Milwaukee, Wisconsin Territory, containing Eighty Acres according to the official plat of the survey of the said Lands, returned to the General Land Office by the SURVEYOR GENERAL, which said tract has been purchased by the said Christian W. Keefer.

NOW KNOW YE, That the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in consideration of the Premises, and in conformity with the several acts of Congress, in such case made and provided, HAVE GIVEN AND GRANTED, and by these presents DO GIVE AND GRANT, unto the said Christian W. Keefer and to his heirs, the said tract above described: TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the same, together with all the rights, privileges, immunities, and appurtenances of whatsoever nature, thereunto belonging, unto said Christian W. Keefer and to his heirs and assigns forever.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I, James K. Polk, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, have caused these Letters to be made PATENT, and the SEAL of the GENERAL LAND OFFICE to be hereunto affixed. GIVEN under my hand, at the CITY OF WASHINGTON, the first day of March in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty eight and of the INDEPENDENCE OF THE UNITED STATES the seventy-second

BY THE PRESIDENT: James K. Polk.

By J. K. Stephen, Apt Sec’y.

S. H. Laughlin, RECORDER of the General Land Office.

Keefer, Christian; Land Certificate #17693
Keefer, Christian; Land Certificate #17693