Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's the little things....

So today's story is about finding a seemingly insignificant, forgotten note that turns out to be pretty darned important!
Back in August when I decided to start back up with this, I had already decided to begin hunting down our Canadian ancestors as this had been pretty much a brick wall back when I began. G-pop Masterman had been frustrated himself at the lack of information available. Also, Dad had asked me "What about siblings' and cousins' info?" I had always traced the lines straight back, not sideways (unless I was stuck) so off I went.
Jenny, John & Alice McMonagle, ca 1898

With this in mind, I started looking through the notes I had taken during conversations with G-pop. I found a small piece of memo paper that said “Patlow, Joseph McMonagle's child from first marriage. Malden Mass. G-pop knew him.” What the heck? First marriage? What happened there?

A little background - G-Pops mother, Jenny McMonagle, was born in Nova Scotia. Her father was Joseph Howe McM and her mother was Adrienne Harrington. They had two daughters and one son. The son, John H. died in 1899 when he was 17, G-pop's mother died in in 1920 and her sister Alice had no children.  Therefore, no one to carry on the family name. (Joseph himself died in 1917, "drinking carbolic acid with suicidal intent," according to the coroner.)
Joseph McMonagle's family came from New Brunswick, but looking into McMonagles in that area wasn't easy. During the 1800s you couldn't swing a dead cat in New Brunswick without hitting a McMonagle! So many of them had the same given names that it was totally confusing.
With the name Partelow being so unusual I figured he would be easy to find. Oh heck no. I checked the U.S. Census for Malden and didn't find him. (I did find a John P McMonagle living in Malden but put him in the back of my mind.) Sooooo back to Canada I went!
In New Brunswick census of 1871, I found Joseph & his first wife Ruth, living with his parents, Hugh and Alice, with their 4 kids, one of which was Partlow. I then found Joseph and Ruth in the 1861 census with his folks and 2 of his sisters, but no children of their own yet. A Phebe McM, age 87, was living there as well....Hugh's mother. Woo hoo!
By 1881, Joseph was in NS, married to Adrienne and with two daughters. I also  found Ruth living in a boarding house in NB with her two sons Hugh and Joseph. 
Also In 1881 the only Partelow was an 18-year-old living with another family as a harness makers apprentice. Wait a minute! The John P. I found living in Malden in 1900 was a harness maker! Maybe this was him. I checked out the ages and they matched. He was listed as born in NB, father born NB, mother b. NS! His wife, Eudosia,  was listed as being from NS, so I hunted  for and found their marriage record, showing his parents as Jos & Ruth. They are also found in the 1891 Census living in NS with 3 children…SUCCESS!
John P & Eudosia Marriage Record (click to enlarge)

After 1881 I couldn't find Ruth or her other kids in the Canadian census, dammit. Where did they go???
SIDEBAR:  While searching through some New Brunswick newspaper records I found a story from 1883 about Ruth. Reader's Digest version is she had remarried, separated rather quickly from her new husband, he came after her to convince her to come back and when she refused he shot her! The bullet went through her neck and they expected her to die. Curious about the outcome, I hunted and hunted for death records for her to no avail. I did find a Supreme Court ruling where her crazy husband was petitioning for a change of venue as the sheriff in town apparently was sweet on our Ruth ha ha! Since he wasn't charged with murder I assumed that she survived. You can read the article here.
So I went back to the U.S. Census to track John P./Partelow's children, hoping to find some living McMonagle's still around today. The 1900 census shows them as having five children-Joseph Beverly (poor kid), Ora N., and three daughters. I looked in 1930 and found Ora married with two sons of his own, Hugh J. and George A. I looked for George A. MacMonagle in the Social Security Death Index and found one from Arizona that had died in 2007 with the same birth year.
John P. & Family, 1900 Census, Malden, Mass. (click to enlarge)
This is where Google comes in handy! I found an obituary about a highly decorated World War II pilot named George McMonagle that had died in 2007 in Arizona. The obituary listed his wife and children's names so I looked up his phone number and got his wife on the phone. She referred me to her daughter Marie who was researching their family roots. I called her and she was ecstatic as she had gotten stuck back in Canada at Joseph and his father Hugh. 
Marie told me the rest of the story is that Ruth married a police man that was 20 years older than her named Lafayette Ford, after having moved to Massachusetts and is buried there!
Without that note, naming Partelow as our Joseph's son, I would have never considered THAT Joseph McMonagle as Jenny's father. From there, it gave me his parents, and ultimately their parents.  
Thanks G-pop!

Website How To

We're going to have a brief commercial interruption here… Just to give you guys some guidance in finding things of interest on the website.

On the WELCOME page of, you'll see a navigation menu featuring old photographs. If you click on the different columns that photo will open and in the actual word is a link to that page. Click it!
The HOME PAGE is actually the home card of all the family cards and it starts with my kids. From there you can keep clicking backwards to see the parents, grandparents, great grandparents etc. etc. You can click on any person's name for more information. If you get lost there's a menu at the bottom of the card for the index or surname index.
Some cards have photographs which you can enlarge by clicking on them or if there is a small icon next to their name there may be more than one photograph which will open if you click the icon. (I intend to add a photo gallery to the website itself so I may not add many photos here.) 
The next item on the main menu is SURNAMES. It's an alphabetical index of everyone included on this family tree. 
The DOCUMENTS page is an alphabetical list of documents by main surname. These documents can include newspaper articles, death certificates, birth certificates, church records - you name it!
The next page is PEDIGREES which can give you an overview of the entire line of ascendancy. I've split them up into four main family categories for now and will probably break it up more later. It's a great way to find surnames of interest.
There are two other types of charts I can generate as well. One is a fan chart which begins with a central person and fans out from there and the other is a descendent chart where you pick a husband and wife as the beginning and it lists the rest of the descendents. There are  links to examples at the bottom of the PEDIGREES page. 

The GALLERY page has photo albums of differing families and related photos!
The BLOG and CONTACT pages are self-explanatory. 
I hope this helps you find what you need!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The more the merrier!

I really think that the coolest part of doing all this research is finding cousins you never knew you had! It's a bonus I never anticipated.
Back when I started my research, I became acquainted with first cousins to both of my grandmothers who were closer to my age. One was G mom Masterman's cousin in Sweden, Anne Marie, and the other was G mom Caterson's cousin Janet from outside Philadelphia. Janet was the daughter of Florence, the original Mimi's youngest sister.

Through Janet I got to meet Mimi's sister, Jean. Mom, Janet and I spent the day with Jean in Philadelphia and had a great time. She was able to fill in a lot of blanks about her parents, Joseph & Krescentia (Grace) Enz. You can read a transcript from a recording I made that day HERE. She reminded me of G-mom A LOT!

 Mom, Aunt Jean and Janet, 1988

Jean was the second to last of eight daughters, and was the only one still living, but she's gone now. Our Mimi was already married when Jean came along - G mom and Jean were only 5 years apart!
Recently, thanks to the Internet, I have become acquainted with four or five new cousins in just the past month. I have posted our family tree on where other researchers can find the information and contact you. That way, we can share information and find more pieces of the puzzle.
The Enz family home in Drackenstein, 1915

The Enz family home in Drackenstein, 2009

We have a bunch of distant cousins in the Philadelphia area that are descended from the Enz family in Germany. My great great grandfather, Joseph Enz (Mimi's father) came from a town called Drackenstein in Germany. His sister Christina and brother August came here as well. I have met three cousins descended from Christina and two cousins descended from Joseph.
The Christina cousins actually made a trip to Germany to Drackenstein two years ago and managed to meet another cousin! The German cousin is descended from Joseph's brother Englebert who had a son named George who in turn had a son named Hermann. Hermann still lives in the family house and until he retired, still farmed the same ground as our ancestors.
Hermann Enz, on the family land, 2009

They found Hermann by looking in the phone book under Enz in that town, went to his house, and said "Enz?" And he nodded they said, "We're Enz! United States!" And he said "Philadelphia?" He had tears in his eyes, he was so happy. He had been trying for years to locate family in the US and had not been successful. He welcomed these cousins into his home; showed them letters and photographs sent to Germany from the US and shared his family's story.
Our cousins here have stayed in touch with our German cousins and two of them came for a visit to the US last summer for a whole month. They in turn will be playing host in Germany this coming summer. 
I'm putting the pics from Germany into an album and will post it on my family website. We have also started a Google Group for all of the Enz cousins to communicate with each other at once HERE. Please join if you like!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Where to start?!

James Masterman, Jr. 2nd

Well, at the beginning, I guess.

I love history (thanks Dad!). I love a mystery. I have an inquiring mind. I love a good story. I see dead people (not really, I was on a roll....)

Researching family history encompasses all of these traits. It really is a natural for me.

I started in 1988 when Cassie was a baby. I don't know what sparked it, but I am REALLY, REALLY grateful! My four grandparents were in great health, sharp as tacks and a priceless source of information. My then husband, Rob, wasn't so lucky. His grandparents were gone, except for one, James Culotta (Nano), for whom we named our son.

I bugged the crap out of all of them, gleaning what I could from their memories. Asking a kazillion questions, sending them questionnaires to fill out, never knowing if they were flattered or horrified. (Probably a bit of both!)

The time came when I had to start looking for things they didn't know. Armed with a notebook, ballpoint pen, manual typewriter and carbon paper, I began my low-tech quest. (No long distance calls, no internet or email, no computer - how, you may ask, did we manage back then?!?)

It was sloooow going. Writing letters to town clerks, church ladies, cemeteries and waiting for responses. Not easy for an impatient soul!

I haunted the Pratt Library, scouring census records and newspapers on microfilm. I went to the Peabody Library, the MD Historical Society, the MD State Archives, the Balto City Archives and the LDS (Mormon) family history center in Towson. I found a research friend and we'd go to PA to the Archives too. Even took a jaunt to the National Archives in DC once. Very cool.

(Cassie was still nursing so she went with me countless times to Annapolis. She was quite popular with the staff there! She was so well-behaved, never disturbed anyone.)

I volunteered at the LDS Library so I could have keys and research anytime while the kids played in a Sunday school room across the hall. (I'm still in awe at the records they have preserved from every corner of the globe!)

There you have it. The beginning.

(Note: the photo of James Masterman Jr. 2nd is a "tintype," printed on metal, from the collection of G-pop Masterman. James is G-pop's great-grandfather!)