Saturday, February 19, 2011

Photo Gallery

The Gustafsson Family in Sweden

Check out the new Photo Gallery. Thanks to Dad and Aunt Sue and mostly to G-mom Masterman for being so ORGANIZED, we have a fabulous collection!

We have a Masterman album, a Peterson album, a collection of awesome photos from Drackenstein, Germany (birthplace of Josef Enz) and some old photos from the Enz family. Some have not been labelled yet, but I'm working on it. 

Catersons, be patient, I'll be getting to you asap!

Above photo is G-mom Masterman's mother's parents and siblings. Left to right they are Signe, Nils Gustaf, Hjalmer, Anna Sofia and Gertrude. More on this family later.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Baltimore Jail, 1870's

As a follow up to Samuel Hopkins' family, while our ne'er-do-well counterfeiter was serving time in the big house, what was his family doing?

In 1860, they are in Baltimore, 3rd Ward. Melvin isn't listed, but he may have been working/living elsewhere.

Samuel 38 Agent
Rebecca 36
Marion 14
Bernard 12
Carline 10
Emma 8
Wm 6
Ida 2

(This is the last mention I found of Bernard.)

Samuel's first conviction was in 1863, serving as his attorney was SC Leakin, former mayor of Baltimore. That means his family was fairly well off to have such a prominent man represent him. 

The Census in 1870 has the family living in the 2nd Ward of Philadelphia. 

Samuel 48, Clerk in Auction Store
Rebecca, 46
Melvern 25, Sailmaker (Melvin, Mudz' father)
Marion 23
William, 21, Bricklayer
Caroline, 19
Emma, 17
Ida, 12

I'm guessing that they were pretty darned embarrassed at his shenanigans...poor Rebecca with a passel of kids at home, the last of which were a pair of twin girls born in August of 1870. Sadly, both babies,  Ida M. and Susie H.,  died at 2 weeks of age one day apart. Cause of death was listed as "Inanition" which means "lack of vigor or exhaustion due to malnutrition." Perhaps they were premature. With Rebecca being 45-ish at the time, anything is possible.

According to the news article, during that same time, 3 of his children suffered badly from scarlet fever. (Back in those days, withouut antibiotics,  this strep infection was deadly and epidemics were frequent.)

On Christmas Day in 1872, Melvin Hopkins married Pauline Phillips at the Eleventh Street M.E. Church. Here is their marriage certificate:

Around 1872, daughter Emma married William Ashton Mayland, also at Eleventh St. Church.

Rebecca & Samuel became grandparents upon the birth of Marion Rebecca Mayland in April of 1873, son of Emma. (Their twins would have been three!) Marion died before age 2.

November of 1874, Samuel was convicted and sentenced to 2.5 years. He was convicted again in June, 1877 with bail set at $1500. In Feb 1879, he was released and by May the Secret Service had tracked him down to his home in Philly when he escaped them.

That article on his capture told about how Samuel had lost money in a failed bank and that drove him to counterfeiting. I don't buy it. The bank in question, Franklin Savings Fund, failed in Feb 1874, more than 10 years after his first arrest. Read more here.

Around 1879, Samuel & Rebecca's son William married. He and his wife, Catherine, had 9 children.

By May of 1880, the police had Samuel in custody again and he was sentenced to 18 months and fined $500.

In the 1880 Census, we find Rebecca, 55,  living with her daughter Emma Mayland and family. She listed herself as a widow - can't say I blame her! I have yet to find Samuel listed anywhere, even in the prison census for this year.

I found a death notice for Rebecca, in May of 1883, posted with a lovely poem by her brother-in-law, Benjamin F. Hopkins (a great clue!)  in the Baltimore Sun. She was living with Emma outside Phila and is buried there in Fernwood Cemetery. She was only 58 years old.
Here it is:

Samuel's last conviction was back here in Balto in 1888, he was sentenced to 5 years. He died in June of 1890 in the MD Penetentiary, was shipped back to Phila and is buried in Fernwood where a lot of our family is.

I found a cousin of ours, Patricia Small, who is descended from Samuel & Rebecca's daughter Emma, who is her great-grandmother. She sent me a copy of the family Bible entry of Rebecca's death, and even cooler is a drawing from Samuel to  Rebecca which had a lock of blond hair with it. After I shared my info with her, Patricia concluded that "Samuel must have been a smooth talker!"

Here's the drawing...what a great treasure! Click it to is very detailed.

Still stuck on Samuel & Rebecca's parents....planning a trip to the Nat'l Archives to go through the records of the Secret Service, hoping to learn more about our notorious ancestor. 

Visit my website for more info:

(Read website how-to HERE)

Subscribe via email in upper right margin of this page.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Here is another great find, thanks to the historic newspapers at
G-pop Caterson's mother was Pauline Hopkins, known to us as Mudz. Her parents were Melvin and Pauline (Phillips) Hopkins. He was born in Maryland, she in PA.
Melvin's parents were both from Maryland. His father was Samuel G. Hopkins and his mother was Rebecca C. (Skillman) Hopkins. They were married in Baltimore in 1843. I still don't know who their parents were as in the 1850 census they were already married with three children and living in Baltimore. Samuel's occupation is shown as an auctioneer. In 1860 in Baltimore, the census shows them with six children but Melvin is not amongst them. Samuel's occupation is given as agent. By 1870 we find them in Philadelphia with six children, and again Samuel's occupation is clerk in auction store. In 1880, Samuel is not listed at all. Our ancestor Melvin is married to Pauline by then and has three children. We find Rebecca living with her daughter, Emma Mayland in Philadelphia. 
So again I turned to the newspapers to try to solve some of these mysteries. One of the first articles I found is the one below, from October, 1888 entitled “An Aged Rascal”. It tells of an older gentleman caught counterfeiting in Baltimore. When I found this I didn't think much of it as Hopkins is a very common name in Baltimore. 

So I kept digging through the archives. Then I came across another article that gave more details. It said that he was originally from Baltimore, had been arrested in Philadelphia for similar charges, and used to work at an auction house in Baltimore. This had to be my Samuel! There was another earlier article from 1880 about a Philadelphian who had been caught counterfeiting and it listed one of his aliases, A. B. Rowland.
 I started searching around in Philadelphia newspapers using that alias and found an incredible article from April, 1880 that told the whole story:
"An Old Counterfeiter Arrested-Secret Service officers EH Gilkenson and Francis Kelly made an important arrest yesterday afternoon in the person of Samuel Hopkins, alias George Robinson, alias AB Rowlands. He is a noted counterfeiter, and the officers have been looking for him since last May. He was arrested at his home, number 617 Clifton St., and made no opposition. Hopkins is charged with altering and raising one dollar green backs to twos by placing a printed figure 2 over the one on the corner of the note. He has served two terms of imprisonment in the Eastern penitentiary, and one term in Baltimore, his native city. He was discharged from the latter place, after serving a two-years term, early in February 1879, and came to Philadelphia, and immediately commenced operations here.
In May last a Secret Service officer got on his track, and traced him to his house on S. 17th St. The officer entered and found him asleep on the lounge in the parlor of the house. At the request of Hopkins the officer allowed him to go to the second story for the purpose, which he alleged, of procuring some clothing.
Hopkins, when reaching the second floor, jumped from a window to a shed and escaped. Since that time the officers have been searching for him, but have been unable to get their hands on him until yesterday afternoon. Sometime ago he sent a letter to the United States District Attorney stating that he was anxious to come home and see his family, after which he desired to get a position on the ---- of that city, provided he should not be disturbed by the United States authorities. He wished he could lead a better life. He wanted to know if he would not be molested.
The United States District Attorney, however, took no notice of the letter, thinking that Hopkins was trying to do something in order to throw the officers off of his track. It is believed, however, that he has been in the city very frequently of late. It is stated that Hopkins was once a respectable man, and not so long ago either. He had considerable cash in Cyrus Cadwallader's Franklin Saving Fund and when that institution exploded, of course he lost it, or at least the greater part of it. This loss drove him to his wits and finally he got into the counterfeiting business and operated with one and two dollar bills as stated. When he was first convicted and sentenced to imprisonment, his family, which is a very respectable one, took it very hard. In fact it caused the death of two of his children, and three others nearly died from scarlet fever soon after. He has a daughter living in the city, and it was at her home that he was arrested. The family have done everything possible to get him to reform, but without avail. After altering the one dollar notes into twos he passes them himself. For instance, he will go into a small store, and a lady will be in attendance. He will purchase 15 or 25 cents worth of some article will then show a raise to dollar note from his pocket, and, handing it to her, will say quote “I don't know whether that is a one dollar note or a two, as I can't see very well, because I left my glasses at home.” The lady will then say it is a two dollar bill, and will give him his change, and he will walk out. A closer examination of the bill afterward will show its true character. Hopkins is between 60 and 65 years old, but, notwithstanding his age, he is sharper and shrewder than many younger men. He had a hearing yesterday afternoon before United States Commissioner Gibbons, and was committed for a further hearing on Tuesday next."
You can read the whole series of articles HERE.
So, if all these stories are correct, it appears that Samuel Hopkins' first conviction in Baltimore ended in Feb 1870, he was convicted to 2 1/2 years in October 1874, then again in 1877 and 1880 in Philadelphia. His last conviction was 1888 where he was sentenced to five years in the Maryland penitentiary. He died there in 1890 and his body was shipped to Philadelphia for burial. 
Eastern State Penitentiary

As a side note, the prison where he resided in Philadelphia was the Eastern State Penitentiary, the most famous and expensive prison in the world. Their philosophy was one of solitary confinement, allowing inmates to reflect upon their digressions and be rehabilitated. You can read about it HERE.
So, what about Samuel's family while he was cooling his heels in jail all those years? My next post will answer that question! 

Visit my website for more info:

Subscribe via email in upper right margin.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Sadly, it seems that newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur. But throughout history, they were the most important means to share information.

In researching family history, there are often gaps in information. Prior to 1850, the Census only listed the head of household, then head counts of others. Since the 1890 US Census was mostly destroyed, that 20 year period between 1880 and 1900 Census is a problem. Vital records were not kept on a county or state level until the very late 1800's in most areas. Church records can be iffy. And don't get me started on cemeteries....grrrr. I love them, but the record keepers can be hell to deal with. (Mount Moriah - I'm talking to you!)

1786 article in Royal Gazette

Fortunately, modern technology and newspaper archives have become an awesome way to find out more! Searchable by keywords, state, time period, etc. these archives have filled in a lot of blanks for me. Here are a few examples:

Going back to the Canadian McMonagles of my last post, not only did I find the soap opera drama of Ruth and her crazy second husband, but learned of much more about the first McMonagles who came to Canada from Ireland in the 1780's. Thanks to one dedicated man who indexed a bunch of births, marriages and deaths from early New Brunswick papers, then donated this project to the archives there, I found a gold mine!

In the last post, I had found our Joseph living with his parents, Hugh & Alice, in 1851 & 1861 along with  widow Phebe, Hugh's mother. Phebe is gone by 1871, not surprisingly. But who was her husband, father of Hugh? When did they die? And there was no census before 1851 to check, so newspapers it is!

Here is what I found: May 2, 1866 - St. John Morning NewsSalisbury (West. Co.) 17th inst., Phebe relict of Hugh McMONAGLE, Esq., Westmorland parish, age 91. She was born in New York and came to this Province with the Loyalists in 1782.

WOW! So much info in those 2 sentences - her date of death, her age,  her late husband's name, her birthplace and when she came to Canada. Genealogical gold!

(A couple of terms you don't see anymore - inst.= instant, current month; ult = ultimo, previous month; relict = widow who never remarried)

So then I looked for him, and was really surprised to find this: February 12, 1803 - NB Royal Gazettedrowned Hugh McMONAGLE, Esq., Westmorland, Benjamin LESTER of this city, broke through ice on Kennebecasis.

With a little more digging, I found the whole story in a local history book: Hugh McMonagle was an immigrant from the North of Ireland.  He did business as a trader at Mount Whatley, he was elected member for Westmorland and was drowned in the Saint John River while on his way to Fredericton to attend the session.  His widow sold his property to the late John Trueman. 

And this: Hugh McMonagle, Esq. drowned 7 Feb 1803 Being on his way to attend the General Assembly of NB to represent the Co. of Westmorland, with five others on the river Canabacis, the ice broke when he and one other person was lost., age 42 years.
Kennebecasis River

It is interesting to note that his son Hugh (Joseph's father), was born in 1804, after his father's death. Phebe was pregnant with our ancestor, their only son. This is confirmed by a petition written by Phebe in 1808 to the legislature asking for financial aid, which they granted her. You can see the petition HERE, bearing her signature.

So my 4X Great Grandfather was the first man elected to represent his county at the first New Brunswick House of Assembly session, and drowned falling through the ice on his way there. Pretty cool, huh?

Other great facts I found in that collection, death notice of Hugh Jr.'s wife Alice: Dec. 27, 1893, St John Visitor & Messenger -  d. Butternut Ridge (Kings Co.) Dec. 13th, at the residence of her son-in-law, Mrs. Alice McMONAGLE, age 79 years, w/o late Hugh McMONAGLE. Sister McMonagle was born at Pollet River, N.B. in 1814, professed religion in the early part of her life, was baptized by Rev. Joseph Crandall and received into the fellowship of the Salisbury Baptist church. In after years she united with Hugh McMonagle, Esq. and resided a number of years at North River near Petitcodiac. After the death of her husband she moved to Butternut Ridge where she spent the latter part of her life with her son-in-law. She then united with the Baptist church here and remained a member until separated by death. She leaves two daughters. The funeral services took place Saturday, Dec. 16th, conducted by the pastor, Rev. A.F. Brown.
And a neat story about Hugh Sr. and one of his brothers that came from Ireland with him, printed in 1894 in the Kings County Record: James DOUGLAS of Petitcodiac (West. Co.) called at the 'Record' office and showed us a letter which he had found among the old papers left by the late Hugh McMONAGLE of North River, from whom Mr. Douglas had purchased a farm several years ago. The latter in question is dated from Windsor, N.S. April 12th, 1785 and written by John McMONAGLE to his brother, Hugh McMonagle of Cumberland.

St. John in 1855

I'll do another post soon on how newspapers helped me flesh out our family tree with some other very cool stories - good, bad and ugly!

For more info, visit my website at:

Subscribe to this blog in the top right margin