Fearless Females: March 2 – Photograph of Mildred Wetzel

Mildred E. Wetzel Evans Patterson (ca. 1910)

Mildred E. Wetzel Evans Patterson (ca. 1910)

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

 

This photograph is the only one I have ever seen of Mildred Wetzel, my great-grandmother’s aunt.  I estimate that this is taken somewhere around 1910, give or take a couple years.  It is funny how after years of looking at this photograph, it was only today that I noticed that it was taken by a Pittsburgh photographer.

 

Pittsburgh…what was she doing in Pittsburgh?   Was she alone?  How did she end up there?  Aunt Mil is one of my female ancestors that drives me slightly crazy as birth, death and census records provide just enough information to show that at some point between 1900 and 1920 she not only left the small coal town in which she was born but she also left behind her father, siblings, cousins and friends.  Everything and everyone she knew was in Trevorton, so how did she end up in Peoria, Illinois?  Though I have yet to find her on the 1910 census, I was able to find death and burial records for some of her children starting in 1918; this has left me with an 18 year gap.

 

Multiple census records for her oldest son, Milton, show that he was born in Washington D.C. in 1909.  I haven’t yet found the birth place of her second child, Harry, who was born in 1911. Census and death records for her third child show that Myrtle Ione was born in Peoria, Ill in 1912.

 

Millie’s husband Frank passed away in 1924 in Peoria and like their children who predeceased him, he was taken to Trevorton for burial.  As of the 1930 census, the young widow was still living in Peoria.  By 1940, Mildred had married William Patterson and they were living in Fairfax County, Virginia; this is where most of her descendants still live.

 

So for a quick recap:

1887 – 1900: Mildred was single and living at home in Trevorton, PA.

1909: Mildred and Frank’s son Milton was born in Washington D.C.

1911: Mildred and Frank’s second child was born at an unknown location.

1913 – 1930: Mildred resided in Peoria, IL with her husband and children.

1940: Mildred and her second husband live in Virginia.

Note: Bill was born in Indiana and died in Virginia in 1941.

1963: Aunt Millie passed away in Manassas, VA

To Present: Millie’s descendants continue to live in the Manassas area.

 

As fellow family historians, I am sure you all can see why I would be so curious about this fearless female ancestor of mine.  71 years – 2 husbands, 6 children (at least 3 died during childhood), 4 states, and one pretty sweet picture taken in a mystery Pittsburgh photography studio about 100 years ago.

Fearless Females: March 1 – Favorite Female Ancestor

To celebrate Women’s History Month and honor our female ancestors, Lisa Alzo from The Accidental Genealogist has posted a series of 31 blogging prompts for the month of March.

 

March 1 – Do you have a favorite female ancestor?  Absolutely!  My great grandmother Ada Mae Wetzel is my favorite female ancestor; she is also the only great grandparent I have ever known.  Though she died when I was very young, I fondly remember my visits her and Aunt Gussie in North Philadelphia.

 

The woman I knew and have felt connected to throughout my entire life was a mystery for much of that time.  I did not grow up hearing stories or other memories about my great grandmother nor was anyone open to talking or answering my questions about her.  I am certain that the secrecy surrounding her life and relationships only enhanced my desire to know more about the woman she was and the life she lead.

Bid in the doorway of her North Philadelphia home around 1950.

Bid in the doorway of her North Philadelphia home around 1950.

Over the past three years I have not only learned a tremendous amount about Ada Mae but I have also been fortunate to meet “new” cousins of the removed variety that knew this amazingly strong woman and have helped to fill in many blanks as well as provide pictures and their memories of her.  Many of my posts throughout this month will be dedicated to this remarkable woman most simply knew as “Bid”.

Wordless Wednesday: Earl Elliot Strausser

Earl Elliot Strausser relaxing on his Lynn Street porch.

Earl Elliot Strausser relaxing on his Lynn Street porch.

Tombstone Tuesday: Weimer Jonas Wetzel and Iona Mary Conrad

PA_Stonington_NorthumberlandMemorialPark_WetzelWeimerJ_20120708_130344_resized

Christmas day was especially exciting in 1880 for the Wetzel household as presents were not the only addition in the house this day.  The Christmas birth of Weimer Jonas Wetzel was an exceptional present for Henry and Catherine (Kissinger) Wetzel and their four children.  Weimer was born in the family’s Trevorton, Pennsylvania home.

 

Not only was Weimer’s birthday easy to remember but so was his wedding anniversary.  On July 4, 1904 he married Iona Mary Conrad at Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Trevorton.  Iona Mary was born in Trevorton on March October 12, 1881 to parents Frank and Harriet (Miller) Conrad.

 

Through his life, Weimer was employed by Philadelphia and Reading Coal & Iron Company as a carpenter in the local colliery.

 

Weimer passed away on the morning of February 28, 1933 at the couple’s Coal Street home in Trevorton after battling sarcoma of the abdomen wall for the previous six months.  The 80th anniversary of his death is in two days.  Iona passed away in Sunbury on Christmas Eve of 1952.  Weimer and Iona are buried together in Northumberland Memorial Park, Stonington.

Northumberland Memorial Park - View from Weimer and Iona's grave.

Northumberland Memorial Park – View from Weimer and Iona’s grave.

Tombstone Tuesday: Claimed by Influenza Epidemic

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Wilbert L. Strausser was born on April 23, 1902 to George and Minnie (Derk) Strausser.  Almost nothing is known about Wilbert, including his place of birth which is likely Columbia or Northumberland County.  The facts that are known are that he and his family lived in Coal Township in 1910, he died from Influenza on 14 October 1918, and he was laid to rest in Trevorton’s Greenwood Cemetery on 16 October 1918.

 

Wilbert spent 10 days fighting this deadly virus that wreaked havoc on the area and would claim the lives of more than 600,000 of his fellow Americans during 1918-1919.

Mystery Monday: Rudolph Nahodil’s family?

Rudolph Nahodil arrived at Ellis Island aboard The Braunschweig on 12 April 1892; he was alone and destined for Pennsylvania.  Aside from Rudolph, his wife and their children, only four other people with the Nahodil surname are listed in the US Federal Census for the year 1900 as living in the United States.  The four are:

 

Name

Age

Location

Arrival

Notes

John Nahodil

66

Nanticoke, PA

1891

Widowed and living with his married daughter and her family.
John Nahodil

28

Nanticoke, PA

1892

Married to Kate below.
Kate Nahodil

20

Nanticoke, PA Married to John above.
Frank Nahodil

25

New York, NY

1900

Arrive in the US 2 months prior to census.
Rudolph Nahodil

42

Coal Twp., PA

1892

Arrived alone.
Rosia Nahodil

38

Coal Twp., PA

1892

Married to Rudolph above. Arrived in Philadelphia with their children.

 

Rudolph and Rosamond Nahodil have been a mystery to many of us for generations.  Nobody in my family or other Nahodil relatives I have spoken with knew anything about Rudolph’s parents or his origins.  Most family stories about Rudolph and his wife are related more to her alleged royalty as a part of a well known Austrian family.  No story ever mentions additional Nahodil family arriving before, with or after Rudolph.

 

For many years, the first glimpse of Rudolph in records after his arrival to this country showed that he lived in Coal Township, PA with his family; this continues to be the primary residence of most of his descendants.  For the same amount of years, I have wondered why the passenger list for his wife and children shows that their destination was Duryea, PA.  Heck, where is Duryea?  Well, Duryea borders Wilkes Barre, as does Nanticoke.  Over the years, I have seen a few Nahodils in and around Duryea and believe they must be related to my Nahodil family.  I have searched and searched but couldn’t connect the two…until now!

 

While researching over the weekend I ran across a new document, the 1896 City Directory for Pittston , Pennsylvania…another border town of Wilkes Barre.  This directory listed John, John Jr., Louis, and Rudolph Nahodil.  This is the first document I have for Rudolph between his arrival in the US and the 1900 census; this tells me that my assumption that he went directly to Coal Township was wrong.  Finally, it is starting to come together.

 

I have started pulling death certificates from the Pennsylvania State Archives which show that Rudolph’s father was named John and his mother was Susannah.  I have also pulled the young John’s death certificate and found that his father was named John and his mother was not known.  I am still trying to track down the elder John’s death certificate as well as his daughters to see who are listed as her parents.  Could I have finally found more of my Nahodil ancestors?  Was the elder John that was living in Nanticoke in 1900 my 3x great grandfather?  Ah, the mystery begins to unravel.

Sentimental Sunday: George H. Strausser

My great grandfather, George H. Strausser, passed away on this date eighty-six years ago at the age of thirty-eight.  Though he was able to witness the birth of his youngest child, my grandmother, he would not live to see her first birthday.  What happened after his death is another story, or few stories.  The only thing my grandmother knew about George was that he died in an unknown coal mine.  II asked about his death during my entire youth but the story never changed and no slips were made…so there went my theory of a deep dark scandalous story.

 

For many years the only evidence of his existence was the 1900, 1910 and 1920 US Federal Census.  The first breakthrough came a couple years ago with the discovery of the Coal Mining Accident Registers database made available by the Pennsylvania State Archives.  Page 29 told me what happened, where it happened, and that it was “unavoidable”.  Accident Cause or Remarks…”fall coal blocking timber gangway”.

 

2012 was the year of breakthroughs in my search for George.  Last February I made the trip to the PA State Archives in Harrisburg hoping to get a copy of George’s death certificate.  So now I knew that my great grandpa died from a fractured skull but more importantly the certificate told me where he was buried.

 

George H. Strausser22 Jan 1889 - 10 Feb 1927

George H. Strausser
22 Jan 1889 – 10 Feb 1927

Now you know this crazy obsessed genealogist wasn’t about to wait for warm spring weather to go track down his grave.  The next day I made the three hour trip to Odd Fellows Cemetery in Coal Township with no real plan but a willingness to search.  About an hour after arriving I was standing over his marker feeling like I had been there before.  Sure enough, I had found this grave back in 2007 amongst a large Strausser lot but wasn’t certain which of the half dozen or so George Straussers this was.

 

George H. Strausser (ca 1925)

George H. Strausser (ca 1925)

Among pictures that were passed on to me and some that were loaned to me for scanning were three pictures of George Strausser.

 

This year I met a cousin a few times removed (who is more than twice my age and was close to my great grandmother) that had been recording his family tree and stories about the people for many years and he just happened to have one story that involved George.  “George came home from work on a pay day.  Bid was supposed have taken his pay.  She wouldn’t give it to George.  George went to the outside toilet and Bid told him he must have lost his money in the toilet.  He got a flashlight and went looking for it in the toilet.  – By Royal”.  Bid was George’s wife Mae, whose real name was Ada Mae.  This is the only story I have about my great grandpop and I can’t help but find the irony and humor in that it involves another of my obsessions…outhouses.  I am hoping to share more about George in future posts.

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