Saturday, August 11, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 32

Chicago ~1958
With the writing prompt this week being Youngest, my mind went to youngest in the family. I am the baby in my family, having three older brothers (one of whom died before I was born) and one older sister. That made me think about other members of my family tree, wondering if any of them were also the youngest born child. I knew that neither mom nor dad were the youngest in their families. As it turns out neither Grandma or Grandpa Kubler, my dad’s parents, were the babies in their families, nor were my mom’s parents, Grandma or Grandpa Crusham.

In looking at the ancestral chart, I had to go all the way back to my maternal great-grandfather Peter Metz, who was the youngest of 9 kids, to find another baby. None of my other great-grandparents fell into this very special place in their families.

In a way my family is unique in that my parents had almost two separate sets of children. My sister is 11 years older than me, followed by a brother who is 9 years older than me, and then a brother who is 18 months older than me. In between the boys, my mom suffered a couple of miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy which resulted in all of one and most of the other ovaries being removed. She was told she would most likely not get pregnant again, and if she did would not carry the baby to full term. And then along came my brother and me.

My sister was like a second mother to me, and she spent a lot of time caring for my brother and me. With my brother being so close in age to me, we were best buddies as children. We shared bottles and toys, and got along great. My sister has corroborated that we were sickeningly sweet to each other. We played a lot of games together, rode our bikes and acted out war scenes with his G.I. Joes, and later played baseball with the neighborhood boys.

Maybe due to our close age, I never really felt like the baby of the family. I certainly never was aware that I received special attention. Mom never played favorites with any of us, and if anything my dad favored the brother next closest in age to me. I don’t think my dad ever got over losing his oldest son to aplastic anemia at the age of 7, and I believe my brother reminded dad of Roy.

One benefit of being the youngest is that I learned a lot from my older siblings. My dad had a bit of a temper, so by observing what set him off with the older kids, I avoided doing those things. It was also nice to have my parents to myself for the last couple of years of college, when the others had married and/or moved away.

It was a good childhood, with a lot of love and laughs. I enjoyed my place in it as baby of the family. Even if I often shared that place with my not too much older brother.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 31

The writing prompt Oldest probably makes you think of the oldest person in your family. But that topic was covered in Week 3 when the prompt was Longevity. Instead I want to write about the oldest heirloom that I have in my possession. It is an oak chair that was made in the mid to late 1800s.

North Wind face?
Whimsical furniture containing griffins, lions and gargoyles appeared in England in the 1820s, and the style made its way across the pond. A unique American version was the face chair. The carved face was supposed to blow evil spirits away. G. Stomps & Brother (later changed to Stomps-Burkhardt Company) of Dayton, Ohio was one of the furniture manufactures producing face chairs in the 1800s. While there is no marking on the bottom of our chair, I have seem many photos of similar looking chairs that were made by the Stomps company.

So how did this chair come to be part of our family? In 1944 my father LeRoy Kubler was stationed at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri, living in a boarding house along with my mother and oldest brother Roy. My father was in the Army Air Forces, and received orders that he was shipping out to India. He was given enough time to drive my mom, very pregnant with their second child, and Roy to Cincinnati and deposit them with her parents, Mike and Mayme (Metz) Crusham before leaving the country.

When the house next door to her folks came on the market, mom quickly sent a letter off to dad asking if she should buy the Koch home. Before my dad even had time to answer, she had borrowed money from her brother Charlie and purchased it. The next letter dad received announced, “I bought the Koch house!”

face chair
The Koch’s left behind a couple of pieces of furniture, of which one was this chair. Mrs. Koch said that the chair was 100 years old at that time, indicating that it was manufactured in 1844. Mom and dad kept the chair, and it moved with us from Cincinnati, to Chicago, to Des Moines and then back to Cincinnati when dad retired in 1984. I always loved it, though it had a very dark patina on it for much of the time it was in our family. Back in Cincinnati, dad decided to refinish it. While the stripping brought out the beautiful grains in the wood, I knew what the Keno brothers on Antiques Roadshow would say. “Well, if your dad hadn’t refinished the chair, it would be worth $2,000. But since he stripped off the original finish, it is only worth $300.”

After my dad died, my siblings and I divided up his household items. As I am the only one who lives in an old home and collects antiques, I got the face chair. It sits proudly in the foyer of our 1902 Queen Ann house. Several years ago I took the chair to a new antiques dealer in our town. She called it a North Wind chair, and said it had been made in the mid-1860s. She placed a value of around $1,600 on it. We discussed the fact that my dad had refinished it, and she simply asked me if I like how it looks now. I told her that it really is so much better because you can see the beautiful wood and also make out the facial features. She said then that is all that matters. I suspect she is off a bit on both the production year as well as the value, but that’s okay. I don't intend to ever sell the chair. It keeps a bit of mom and dad here in the house with me.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 30

The writing prompt this week is Colorful. I feel like I have already written about the most colorful people in my family. I don’t know of any who were artistic, and can’t think of any who had a color as their name or a place of residence. So I looked in my genealogy program for someone with a colorful last name. My inner 12 year old always snickers when I see the name Cocke in the tree.

First I have to add the disclaimer that this name is only in the tree if I can find the link between Thompson Hightower and his potential father, George Hightower, Jr. George’s  wife was Frances Ann Hall, whose great-grandmother was Anne Cocke. Anne was born in 1686 in Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Virginia to Richard Cocke and Elizabeth (Littlebury) Cocke. Yes, someone actually named their son Richard Cocke. His father was also named Richard Cocke, so perhaps he wanted someone else to feel his pain.

The senior Richard was born on 13 December 1597 in Stottesdon, Shropshire, England.  Stottesdon is located about 141 miles northwest of London. He arrived in Virginia around 1633, and patented 3,000 acres of land on 6 March 1636. It was located on the James River in Henrico County, Virginia, and he called it Bremo. The location is about 12 miles east of what is now Richmond. Richard served as a member of the House of Burgesses, and was a Lieutenant-Colonel of the County of Henrico. He was later Sheriff of Henrico County. By his death in1665, he had land grants totaling around 10,000 acres.

potential Cocke cousins
When I was in Richmond several years ago, I visited Bremo and adjacent Malvern Hill, which was owned by Richard’s son Thomas. At a National Parks Service Museum located nearby, I was speaking to an employee and explaining why I was there. As it turns out, he is a Cocke descendant as well. Are we cousins? That is yet to be determined, but he did say that I look very much like his sister.

So what is the origination of the surname Cocke? There are several theories. One is that it is literally a nickname from the bird - the cock - which was then given to a young lad who strutted about proudly like a cock. Another is that it was applied to a natural leader, an early riser, or a lusty or aggressive individual. Whatever its meaning, you have to admit that it is a colorful name that leads to sudden interest in genealogy when brought up at family reunions.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 29

With the writing prompt being music, I have to write about my dad, LeRoy Kubler. Music was an important part of his life. He came from a musical family, in that his father Joseph Kubler owned a bar when my dad was in his late teens or so. My father told me that he and my grandfather both played musical instruments in a band at the bar.

My father’s real love was singing though. Often he and my mom, Catherine, would sing around the house together, or while we were driving in the car. He had a wonderful voice, and his whistle was nothing short of a musical instrument itself.

After he retired in 1984, he and my mom moved from Des Moines, Iowa back to Cincinnati, Ohio where they had both been born and raised. After settling in Delhi Township, they immediately heard about the Delhi Seniors organization, which met nearby at the Delhi Township Community and Senior Center.

Dad directing the chorale group
December 1988
Dad soon formed the Delhi Senior Chorale group, of which my mother was one of the first members. He arranged all the music for their numerous performances, and was the musical director. He also began to write songs for the group to perform, composing both the music and the lyrics. He file the songs with the U.S. Copyright office to protect his work. Copies of his music are in my files, and are a great treasure to me.

Mom in the chorale group
December 1988
Being able to attend a couple of his concerts was a thrill for me, and I’m grateful for the photographs and videos I have of those performances. The fact that 8 members of that chorale group dressed in their concert attire to escort my mom’s casket into the church when she died in 1989 is a moment I’ll never forget. They sang “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” as they entered, and there were no dry eyes in the church after that.

While I wish I had a thimbleful of my dad’s musical talent, I do believe that being raised in a musical household has played a big part in the fact that I have a great appreciation for many different kinds of music and for the artists who create them.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 28

Elsie Metz 1902
The writing prompt for this week is Travel. While most of my ancestors traveled great distances to emigrate to the United States, and many more migrated across this country after they arrived, I have found no one in the family who traveled as extensively as my 2nd cousin, twice removed, Elsie Lauretta Metz. I wrote about Elsie, who was born in Cincinnati in 1880, and the wild weather she experienced while on a ship in 1912 earlier this year when the writing prompt was Storms. You can find that post here. I also had written about her family and attendance at the University of Cincinnati back in 2013, and the link for that post is here.

in December of 1911, Elsie applied for a passport at the age of 30 in preparation for some travel she was planning to do the next year. While I knew a lot about her 1912 trip due to a journal that was returned to our family, I had no idea of the extensiveness of her adventures until I was preparing for this post. Through a list tucked into her journal and also searches on I was able to find the following travel and passenger information about Elsie. I suspect that the list is missing some entries as well.

1889 traveled to Rome, Italy, according to her journal.

1893 traveled to the Chicago World’s Fair, according to her journal.

1899 and 1905 traveled to Atlantic City, New Jersey, according to her journal.

1906 traveled to Quebec and Saguenay, Canada, according to her journal.

1907 traveled to Europe, according to her journal.

1908 traveled to Cairo, according to her journal.

27 August 1909 sailed on the SS Kaiserin Augusta Victoria from Cherbourg, France to New York, New York, arriving on 3 September 1909. She spent the summer touring Europe with friends.

1910 and 1911 traveled to the Adirondacks in New York, according to her journal.

9 May 1912 sailed on the SS Cincinnati from Hamburg, Germany to New York, New York, arriving on 20 May 1912. (Her diary indicates that she left on the trip 30 January, 1912, so this ship’s list is only from the last leg of her journey.)

7 July 1914 sailed to Europe for extensive trip.

5 August 1914 applied for an emergency passport at the American Embassy in Berlin to immediately return to the U.S due to the outbreak of WWI.

22 August 1914 sailed on the SS St. Paul from Liverpool, England, arriving in New York, New York on 30 August 1914.

3 October 1914 sailed on the SS Lusitania from Liverpool, England, arriving in New York, New York on 8 October 1914. (This trip is puzzling to me - in light of the war, why would she have gone back to Europe that fall?)

1916 traveled to Lake Placid, New York, according to her journal.

1918 traveled to Chillicothe (Illinois? Missouri?), according to her journal.

1920 traveled to Luddington (England? Michigan?), according to her journal.

8 March 1921 sailed on the SS Fort Victoria from Hamilton, Bermuda to New York, New York, arriving on 10 March 1921.

1922 traveled to Ogunquit, Maine, according to her journal.

5 March 1923 sailed on the SS Fort Hamilton from Hamilton, Bermuda to New York, New York, arriving on 7 March 1923.

1923 traveled to Colorado, according to her journal.

1924 traveled to Alaska, according to her journal.

26 August 1925 sailed on the SS Paris from Plymouth, England to New York, New York.

1926 traveled to Ocean City, New Jersey, according to her journal.

27 August 1927 sailed on the SS Paris from Plymouth, England to New York, New York, arriving on 1 September 1925.

29 July 1930 sailed on the SS St. Louis from New York, New York to Cherbourg, France.

2 October 1930 sailed on the SS Milwaukee from Boulogne, France to New York, New York, arriving on 11 October 1930.

22 March 1932 sailed on the SS Florida from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida, arriving on 22 March 1932.

15 August 1938 traveled the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City, New Jersey with a friend.

1939 traveled to New York City for the World’s Fair.

16 March 1949 sailed on the SS Lurline from Los Angeles, California to Honolulu, Hawaii, arriving on 21 March 1949. On 10 April 1949 flew on United Airlines from Honolulu, Hawaii to San Francisco, California.

30 March 1952 flew Trans World Airlines from New York, New York to Lisbon, Portugal. On 30 April 1952 flew on Trans World Airlines from Madrid, Spain to New York, New York.

27 March 1953, travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and received a temporary immigration card there.

25 September 1954 flew on Royal Dutch Airlines from Amsterdam, Netherlands to New York, New York.

5 July 1955 flew on British Airways from New York to London, England, where she spent a month touring Scotland with a friend. From there they went to London to meet up with some friends before touring Ireland. She returned 19 August 1955 on British Airways from London, England to New York, New York.

17 June 1956 flew on Scandinavian Airlines from New York, New York to Stockholm, Sweden.

29 July 1956 flew on Pan American Airways from London, England to New York, New York.

31 March 1957 sailed on the SS Homeric from Havana, Cuba, arriving in New York, New York on 2 April 1957.

27 April 1958 flew from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

8 September 1958 flew on British Airways from London, England to New York, New York.

July 1959 flew Pan American Airlines from Nassau, Bahamas to New York, New York.

29 August 1960 flew on American Airlines from place unknown to San Antonio, Texas.

8 October 1959 flew on SR Airline from place unknown to New York, New York.

13 June 1962 sailed on SS Italia from Nassau, Bahamas to New York, New York, arriving on 16 June 1962.

one of Elsie's travel talks
Elsie never married, so much of the time she had traveling companions with her. In the early years it was her mother and her unmarried brother, though the extended trip she took in 1912 was done in the company of family friends. She was a woman of many interests, with both bachelor and masters degrees from the University of Cincinnati. She was extremely active in the Cincinnati social scene, and was a patron of the arts as well as an amateur actor and director of community plays. She frequently appeared in the Society Page of The Enquirer, Cincinnati’s daily newspaper, and on several occasions gave presentations about her travels. With at least 40 trips spanning 73 years, she certainly would have had a lot to talk about!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 27

Since we celebrated the 4th of July this week, the writing prompt was Independence. My mind immediately went to 1776. To date I have identified one relative who served in the American Revolution. My 6 times great-grandfather Jacob Christopher Kern was born in 1742 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest child of Johann Georg Kern and Catharine Elisabeth (Fraudhueger) Kern, who were married in Niedersteinbach in 1723. Niedersteinbach is in Northeastern France near the border of Germany.

About 1770, Jacob married Catherine Elizabeth Utt in Northampton, a Pennsylvania county that was carved off of Bucks County in 1752. Jacob and Elizabeth went on to have 8 children, two of whom were born prior to the Revolutionary War.

As Bucks County was very near Philadelphia, Jacob would have been at ground zero when the first and second Continental Congresses took place in 1774 and 1775. The second Continental Congress formed the Continental Army by resolution on 14 June 1775 to coordinate the military efforts of the thirteen colonies in their revolt against Great Britain. It is no wonder that he ended up serving in the war.

Jacob was commissioned by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Spyker, who commanded the 2nd & 6th Philadelphia battalions. Jacob was a 2nd Lieutenant under Captain Phillip Hetrick’s company from Berks County in 1776. He then served as a 1st Lieutenant in Captain Henry Shepler’s company, also in Berks County. As 1st Lieutenant, his job duties may have included teaching the soldiers discipline, order and fearlessness. As most men had no military experience prior to enlisting, he would have taught them military formations and how to be soldiers. In the event of the captain’s death, Jacob would have stepped in to take over the company. The last information I could find on Jacob indicated that he was a Corporal under Captain Philip Hahn in the New Hanover township company as of December, 1778.

It is written in military articles that Corporals were not often with their regiments as they were off performing other duties, which perhaps explains how Jacob and his wife had a daughter who was born in December of 1778. Five more children followed, the last of whom was born in Pennsylvania in 1792.  By 1793, the family had moved to Hamilton County, Ohio. Jacob died shortly after the move, leaving Catherine on her own with the eight children.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 26

Black sheep is the writing prompt for this week, alluding to a family member who was a troublemaker or an outcast. While I may indeed have some black sheep in my family, I haven’t found any criminals yet. I do have a favorite story about an ancestor we thought was a bit of a troublemaker in Ireland, however.

Catherine Colgan's birth certificate

My maternal great-grandmother Catherine Colgan was born 27 December 1864 in Ireland to Edward and Bridget (McHugh) Colgan. Her birth certificate indicates that she was born in Prison, and that the dwelling of her father was also Prison. Edward and Bridget were both school teachers in Ireland, and Edward taught at a Catholic school in Cincinnati after they emigrated. My aunts told me that Edward was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood when he was in Ireland. We all assumed that he was arrested for that, and they threw him and his wife in prison for his transgressions.

When I traveled to County Mayo in 1997, with Catherine’s birth certificate in hand, I stopped into a local pub near Drumadoon where the Colgans had lived to ask about the prison. As I said to them at the time, I thought it unlikely that the prison still stood after all these years, but was it possible records still existed that could tell me why Edward and his wife had been thrown into prison?

Seeing the blank expressions on their faces, I showed them the birth record. They began to laugh, and exclaimed, “Prison is a village near here!” I laughed too, and said they had ruined our favorite family story as we had been making up tales, thinking he was in prison. The barkeep replied, “Oh and to be sure he was, just not the kind with bars on the windows!”

And so the family black sheep was no more.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 25

When I saw the writing prompt Same Name, I immediately thought of Michael Crusham (or Crisham, as it was more commonly spelled in Ireland). My maternal 3rd great-grandfather was Michael Crusham, and he was born in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland about 1811. He married Catherine Archer on 28 September 1826 in Tuam. They had the following children, all of whom were born in Tuam: Mary b. 1827, John b. 1832, Michael (my 2nd great-grandfather) b. 1833, Catherine b. 1835, Honor b. 1844, and William b. 1846.

My 2nd great-grandfather Michael Crusham married Mary Cruise on 15 October 1855 in Tuam. Their children included Michael (my great-grandfather) b. 1857, Peter b. 1860 and d. 1863, Judith b. 1861, Peter b. 1864, and Julia b. 1867. All the children were born in Tuam as well.

Michael and Catherine
Great-grandfather Michael Crusham emigrated to the United States ~1882, and he married Catherine Colgan in Cincinnati, Ohio on 21 July 1887. From their union the following children were born: Michael (my grandfather) b. 1887, Edward b. 1889, Mary b. 1892, Clara b. 1894, Charles b. 1896, Agnes b. 1899, Thomas b. 1902, John b. 1906, and Dorothy b. 1908.

My grandfather Michael Crusham married Mayme Metz in Cincinnati on 21 June 1911. Their children were Marie b. 1912, Edward b. 1913 and died 1913, Stella b. 1914, stillborn infant b. 1916, Catherine (my mother) b. 1920, Margaret b. 1922, Charles b. 1925, Elizabeth b. 1927, and twins James and Michael (my uncle) b. 1930.
Michael and Mayme
Uncle Charles Crusham and his wife Dorothy (Gronefeld) Crusham named one of their sons Michael. One of his other sons, Charles, has a son named Michael Crusham. Also, my Uncle Michael Crusham and his wife Rita (Murphy) Crusham have a grandson named Michael Crusham.

For at least seven generations there has been at least one male named Michael Crusham in the family tree. And five of those were directly father to son. That is pretty impressive! It also adds a degree of difficulty when trying to do genealogical research in an area where several of them lived in the same town during the same time period. Which Michael Crusham is in the record? It reminds me of the old television show, "To Tell the Truth". Will the real Michael Crusham please stand up?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 24

As you might expect, this week’s writing prompt is Father’s Day. I have written extensively about my dad in other blog posts, so I am going a different direction this week. Another important “father” in my life was Father Francis Ostdiek, from whom I received my First Holy Communion.
Holy Trinity October 2017
Father Ostdiek was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1913. In 1920 he was given the responsibility for building first a church and then a school to establish Holy Trinity parish in Des Moines, Iowa. Bishop Thomas Drumm gave him $500 and a plat of land at Beaver and Adams Streets. With $100, he purchased a former Knights of Columbus hut from Camp Dodge, which he dismantled and moved to the new location to serve as a temporary church. By the next year he built a combination school and church, and in January of 1922 thirteen students attended the school.

Holy Trinity School
We moved to Des Moines in 1960, and our new home fell within the boundaries of Holy Trinity. It was there that my brother and I began our education at the parish school, riding the school bus from our home in northwest Des Moines. I remember that Father was very visible in the school building, and of course we saw him each morning at mass before the school day began. From Father Ostdiek I learned what it meant to be not only a good Catholic, but a good person as well. He taught us to be kind to one another, and to help others in need. He was an incredible example of walking the talk.

Father Ostdiek ~1960s
Due to tremendous growth in the Catholic population in the early 1960s, part of Holy Trinity was divided off to attend the newly constructed St. Mary of Nazareth Church located a few miles from Holy Trinity. When the church boundaries were redrawn, our street fell into the new parish. Beginning in 1965, we attended Sunday mass at our new church. However my brother and I continued to attend school at Holy Trinity. Father Ostdiek remained pastor of the church the entire time we were there, retiring in 1969 after serving the parish for 49 years!

On 4 October 1979, at the age of 91 he greeted Pope John Paul II from his wheelchair when the Pope visited Des Moines on his U.S. tour. The Pope reportedly said, “You could not come to see me in Rome, so I came to you in Iowa.” That certainly must have been a highlight in Father Ostdiek's life, which ended on 6 June 1981 at the age of 93. He lived a long and holy life, and I am grateful that he was part of mine during the years when my faith was in its infancy.
Father Ostdiek meets Pope John Paul II

Saturday, June 9, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 23

Kirche St. Peter
We are Going to the Chapel with this week’s writing prompt, and my approach is to write about an old ancestral church that I visited. The oldest church (or perhaps I should say portion of a church) where ancestors worshipped that I have seen in person is the Kirche St. Peter in Büsserach, Switzerland. This Roman Catholic Church stands on a hill on the south side of Büsserach, which currently has a population of 2,251. About 76% of the village is Catholic. While a 1759 church was demolished in 1951 to make way for the existing building, the attached tower dating back to 1464 is still standing.

Within the tower is a museum containing photographs and relics of the church’s history. When I visited in 2013, my host arranged for a private tour of the museum. It was fascinating to see all the displays, and climb the steps to the top of the tower. I counted at least five bells. Did one of my ancestors ever climb the stairs with the responsibility of ringing the church bells to call parishioners to Mass?

painting of the old church
There were many death memorials hanging on the wall with my maiden name Kübler on them. I took photographs, even though I am not sure how they fit into my tree. But the most interesting and exciting thing for me to see was the antique baptismal font, which I was told would have been the exact one used to baptize members of my Kübler family, who emigrated to the United States in 1854.

baptismal font
Walking in the town where they lived, seeing the sites that they saw every day, and finally "going to the chapel" where they worshipped all gave me an opportunity to travel back in time and experience a bit how they had lived. And to wonder all over again, how did they ever leave it all behind?

Büsserach, Switzerland

Saturday, June 2, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 22

For the writing prompt So Far Away, I decided to take a less literal interpretation of the theme. Instead of looking at an ancestor who came to America from far away, or talk about visiting a research center in a distant location, I wanted to write about an ancestor whose occupation was very far away from the woodworkers, salesmen, railroad employees, etc. that I normally find with my male ancestors. Let’s talk show biz, instead.

My second great-uncle, John P. Hungler, was born on 2 November 1876 in Covington, Kentucky. His parents were John and Anna (Hightower) Hungler. His brother Albert was my paternal great-grandfather.

John was 26 years old and working as a tobacco salesman in London, Kentucky when he married 20-year-old Mabel Lillie on 26 November 1904 in Highland County, Ohio. Highland County is located about 70 miles northwest of where John was living. It is interesting that they got married in Highland, especially since Mabel's family was in Michigan at that time.

November 1910
Not long into their marriage John and Mable became vaudevillians, performing under the stage names of Jack and Mable Price. Vaudeville shows, one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the United States and Canada from the 1880s until the early 1930s, were made up of a series of separate acts grouped together on a common bill. The acts might include comedians, singers, plate-spinners, ventriloquists, dancers, musicians, and animal trainers. The shows played to all economic classes in various auditoriums or theaters. It was on the vaudeville circuit that the saying “Will it play in Peoria?” was coined, meaning that if an act could succeed in Peoria, it would work anywhere.

I have been able to locate several newspaper clippings announcing the appearance of Jack and Mable Price. Their shows were comedy and singing skits, some of which were extremely racist. A listing in the November 6, 1910 Pittsburg Press for the Family Theater on Fifth Avenue in New York stated that “Jack and Mabel Price, known as the ‘two corkers in cork’, will entertain with a black face comedy.” Another act was entitled “Chief Tenderhoe”, for which a reviewer proclaimed that Jack “is certainly an Indian of wonderful strength and his act i [sic] a big novelty." My dad remembered being told that at one performance the audience was so incensed that an Indian had abducted a white woman, several men ran onto the stage. Jack and Mabel had to escape through a back door.

In the 1930s, vaudeville began a steady decline and by the end of the decade it was dead. The Depression affected attendance, and the popularity of talking and singing movies also provided fierce competition.

It is unclear what year Jack and Mable Price went back to their lives as John and Mable Hungler, but the 1930 census indicates that they were living in Leoni Township, Michigan. My father said that they had a nice house on a lake there, as well as an additional residence in Florida. Their shows must have played well in Peoria!

They never had any children, which makes you wonder who inherited their estate. John died in Michigan in May of 1946 at the age of 69, and Mable was 67 when she died in Michigan in July of 1951.

Old actors never die, they just lose their parts.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 21

In previous posts I have written extensively about the ancestors in my family who once served in the United States military. So for this post on the writing prompt Military, I will instead talk about a military urban legend in our family tree.

Michael Cramer
My father had been told that his maternal great-grandfather, Michael Cramer, was in the Civil War. In fact, dad had seen with his own eyes a bugle and a rifle which were purported to have been used by Michael in the war. Those were to be passed down to my dad as he was the only male grandchild of Michael. However, somewhere along the line a cousin came to visit my grandfather (dad’s dad), and he asked for the bugle and rifle. My grandfather let him take them, and dad never saw the items again.

Through the years I have attempted to prove or disprove the legend. I was skeptical, because Michael was born 15 September 1853 in New Orleans to Michael and Catherine (Kemper) Cramer. As the Civil War broke out in April of 1861 and ended in May of 1865, Michael would have been only 8-12 years of age when the war was raging. Obviously he would not have been accepted into a regular regiment. He could, however, have been a member of a Fife and Drum Corps. But even that would be a stretch as the average age in the corps was 18.

Unfortunately members of the drum and fife groups were not normally documented, so I have been unable to locate a roster that lists my ancestor’s name. More telling, perhaps, is the fact that in the 1930 census under the box where the census-taker asked if you were a veteran of the U.S. military, “No” was marked by Michael’s name.

So where did the bugle and rifle come from? The only Civil War veteran I have been able to find definitive records on so far was Andrew Hungler, my dad’s 2nd great-grandfather. Perhaps they came from him. How sad that my dad did not have the opportunity to keep such important and historic family heirlooms.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 20

The writing prompt for this week, Another Language, stumped me for a bit. I don’t speak another language, and outside of a few German words carelessly thrown out by my father, no other language was ever spoken in our house. I don’t remember any of my grandparents speaking anything besides English.

truck of one of my Swiss cousins
However, when I traveled on my genealogy trip to Germany and Switzerland, language became a huge issue for me. Luckily most of the people I encountered spoke English. In both of the small hometowns I visited I was provided with a translator. The new relatives I met, with the exception of a couple of teenage girls, could only talk to me through the interpreter. That worked out pretty well, until the evening I spent alone with two cousins. They spoke no English and I spoke no German, and we went out to dinner together. Have you ever spent a few hours with someone and been unable to communicate? It was frustrating, for me as well as them, I’m sure. Not for the first time, I regretted not taking a German for Travelers class before I embarked on this journey. We resorted to drawing pictures on napkins, creating our own form of communication.

Kubler record
But most discouraging was the fact that all the records were in German, and in an old script to boot. I got to the point where I could at least recognize the name, and we took photos of the entries in each book. But there was no time to process how the people fit into my family tree. Between my photos and those taken by the man who was assisting me in looking for my family, I have hundreds of new names. Some I have been able to plug into my genealogy program, but many are stored on CDs that were given to me. I just don’t know what to do with them, short of hiring a German genealogist to make sense of all of them.

It is, indeed, another language. But it is all Greek to me.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 19

Joe, Mom and me ~1956
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, and also to all the women who have served in the capacity of “mom” regardless of birthing circumstances. The writing prompt for this week is, of course, Mother’s Day. For most of my life Mother’s Day was, in my mind, a time to celebrate my own mother. Even after I had my first child in 1985, it never felt like “my” day. After all, my mom had been doing the job a whole lot longer than me.

When she died in 1989, the “Mother” disappeared from “Mother’s Day”. Instead of a day of celebrating, it became a day of mourning. It was many, many years before I could even begin to look at Mother’s Day cards again. The fact that my son barely got to know my mom, and that my daughter never had the opportunity to do so, still breaks my heart. She was such an important part of me, and a wonderful and fun-loving person, that it is a shame they didn’t get a chance to share their lives with her.

me, Andy and mom 1989

my sister and me
Mother's Day 2013
I’m grateful for my older sister who, due to the difference in our ages, often seemed like a second mother to me as I was growing up. Our roles are different now that we are grown up, but she has been such a support to me as she felt our mother’s loss every bit as strongly as me. We try to get together on Mother’s Day, and that has helped with our healing.

I’m also blessed to have a mother-in-law who has always been a strong role model for me throughout the 40 plus years that I have known her. She is my mom in all the important ways, and I pray that we have many more Mother’s Days to share.

my mother and father-in-law with my mom and dad
Mother's Day 1979

Saturday, May 5, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 18

Catherine Crusham
This week I selected a photograph of my mother, Catherine (Crusham) Kubler, for the writing prompt Close Up. While I do have a photo of her from when she was quite small, she is in a baby carriage and her features are hard to make out. I believe this picture was taken around 1923 in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can’t tell from this black and white photo, but my mom was a natural redhead as were her father and at least two of her seven siblings.

Catherine was the third child born alive (two others were stillborn) to Michael and Mary (Metz) Crusham, and five additional children followed her. I’ve always been a bit surprised that this photograph was taken, as it was obviously done in a studio. Michael and Mary were not a well-to-do couple, and by the time it was taken a fourth daughter would have been added to the family. Where did they come up with the money for the portrait? Did the other children have their photos taken as well? I’ll have to ask my aunts next time I see them.

Mom seems pretty pensive in the picture. Perhaps the gargoyles carved on the chair scared her! Most likely she had never seen a photographer with a big camera before. But smile or no, I am grateful to have this depiction of what my mother looked like as a child.

Kim Kubler
I find it interesting to compare her photograph to one taken of me around the same age in Chicago where we lived from the time I was a few months old until I turned five. I obviously had no qualms about having my picture taken. My dad always had a camera around, so I was used to having one pointed at me.

Mom and I both had curly hair, though mine was brown while hers was red. I see the most similarities in the upper part of our faces, in the shape of the eyes and the nose. From my mom I also inherited my height, or lack thereof, my pear shape and my bunions. Yay…

But it is inside where we are most alike, I think. I share my mom’s sense of humor, her view of seeing the glass as half full, her fierce protection of her family, her love of travel, and her willingness to try new things.

It would have been wonderful had she lived long enough for us to be able to travel and try some new things together.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 17

Kubler family stone
With the writing prompt being Cemetery this week, I immediately thought of the cemetery plot that has me the most puzzled. My second great-grandfather, Vinzenz Josef Kubler, died 19 September 1886 and is buried in the Connersville, Indiana cemetery aptly named City Cemetery. When I went to Connersville many years ago to research that branch of my Kubler family, I headed first to the local library.

It was there that I found a newspaper article describing the death of Joseph Kubler, which is the name he went by in America. He died in the St. Gabriel's Catholic Church following Mass one Sunday morning at the age of 38. The librarian indicated that most residents of the town who died during that time period were buried in the City Cemetery. Unfortunately (at least at that time) no records existed to show where he was buried within the cemetery.

Alfred Kubler
After driving through the cemetery I did locate the tombstone for Joseph. It is to date the largest monument of any of my ancestors. On one side of the stone was listed Joseph V. Kubler, along with his death date and how old he was at the time of his death. On the other side was Alfred, son of J.V. & J. Kubler along with his death date of 3 October 1885 and the fact that he was 8 when he died. That is clear enough, but there are four other small stones on the plot: Father, Mother, Alfred, and Henry.

Alfred and Henry (my great-grandfather) were both sons of Joseph and Josephine Kubler. Initially I thought Father and Mother referred to Joseph and Josephine. However, I later discovered that Josephine remarried after Joseph died, and again following the death of her second husband. I would imagine that she was buried with her third husband and not her first husband.

It is possible that they refer to Joseph’s mother and father, though the last records I have found for them are located in Cincinnati, and some of Joseph’s brothers had remained in Cincinnati as well. It would make sense that they would have their parents buried in Cincinnati.

Unfortunately, City Cemetery does not have records that indicate who might be buried beneath those small stones. The other occupants of the Kubler plot remain a mystery for now.

smaller Kubler stones

Saturday, April 21, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 16

The writing prompt Storms had me a little stumped this week. I don’t know of any storm survival stories or storm chasers in my family, nor does anyone have a name that has anything to do with bad weather. But then I remembered my 2nd cousin, twice removed, Elsie Lauretta Metz.

Elsie Metz 1902
Born in Cincinnati on 24 May 1880, Elsie was the second and final child born to John and Isabella (Drescher) Metz. Their son Daniel was born in 1873. Elsie entered the University of Cincinnati (UC) in 1899, one of the 141 entering freshmen at a university of 1,145 students. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1902. She received a teaching fellowship in Modern Languages at the university for the 1903-1904 school year. She would later be awarded a Master of Arts degree from UC.

In December of 1911, 30-year-old Elsie applied for a U.S. passport, which was granted on 3 January 1912. This was in preparation for a 78 day cruise to the Orient aboard the steamship Cincinnati. As a single woman, she traveled with family friends Caroline Moerlein and her son William Moerlein. The Moerleins were part of the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company dynasty. Elsie kept a diary of her adventure, which surfaced a couple years ago and was donated to the Cincinnati History Museum. I was able to scan the pages of the diary before it passed on to the museum.

Cincinnati Enquirer article January 31, 1912

Vanderbilt Hotel
The beginning of the trip had a series of weather-related mishaps. The group first experienced ice and sleet on 28 January as they boarded a train in Cincinnati bound for New York City. There was more sleet when they arrived in New York on 29 January, and the Hudson River was frozen over as they made their way to the Vanderbilt Hotel. Newly opened on 10 January 1912, the hotel was built by Alfred Vanderbilt, great-grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. The sleet of the day turned into a blizzard by that night.

The Cincinnati left New York on 30 January, 1912. Elsie notes that they had “a rough stormy passage to Lisbon”, and that her female traveling companion was never able to appear on deck as she had “every disease known.” I’m sure that as First Class passengers, they were well taken care of, however. The ongoing storm was so bad that the ship was unable to land at Lisbon on 8 February, arriving the next day instead.

The ship traveled through more storms on its way to Cadiz, Spain. When they were finally able to dock, they found that their arranged trip to Seville was canceled because the railroads were washed away. Elsie records that “Spain suffering from worst floods known in sixty years.”

Eventually they made their way to more temperate weather, and she does not mention any other bad weather before returning to New York on 20 May 1912. But, at least at the beginning of the trip,  Elsie must have been wondering, what in the world have I gotten myself into?

Denver Post Story
April 17, 1912
On a side note, Captain Schulke of the Cincinnati reported that at midnight on 14 April he received a call for help from the ill-fated Titanic. While on the way to offer aid, the Captain was told that his help was not needed so he turned his ship back to its original course.

Elsie had many more traveling adventures in her life, including one where she had to get an emergency passport at the US Embassy in Berlin when WWI broke out in 1914 and she needed to get back to America. She died a spinster at the age of 93 on 21 March 1974.

Elsie Metz ~1954

Saturday, April 14, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 15

lonely road
I almost didn’t write anything for this week as the prompt is Taxes. There are no ancestors that I know of who had any interesting tax payments, or who went to jail for nonpayment of taxes. I know of none who were tax collectors. A suggestion was made to write about the ancestor who has been the most taxing, and for me that would be Thompson Hightower. But I have written extensively about the trials and tribulations I have had researching him.

For me the most taxing (and frustrating) thing about doing genealogy is the fact that no one in my family is interested in my beloved hobby. Oh, they will listen when I tell them about a new discovery. And some are eager to see the family tree. But I read with envy the accountings of siblings or cousins or mothers and daughters who are on this journey together. In addition to halving the work load, how fun it would be to travel with someone who is as excited about finding a new birthdate from the 1800s or tromping through an old cemetery searching for a death date as I am!

It has been a solitary pursuit for me, and I only hope that when I am gone all of my hard work doesn’t get tossed in the trash along with the other things that have been important in my life.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 14

Dorothy behind the pram 1920
Maiden Aunt is the writing prompt for this week. The only aunt I had who never married was my mom’s sister, Marie. I wrote about her in Week 10, and that post can be found here. I had several maiden great-aunts, but the one that I knew the best was Dorothy Crusham. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio on 25 October 1908, Dorothy was the 9th and final child of Michael J. Crusham and Catherine (Colgan) Crusham. My maternal grandfather, Michael A. Crusham, was her oldest brother as well as the oldest child in the family.

In the 1930 census, Dorothy was 21 years old, living at home with her parents and two of her brothers, and was employed as a telephone operator. Their house was located at 4117 West Liberty St.

Sister Miriam Fidelis
On 8 September 1934, Dorothy became a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy (R.S.M.) She resided at McAuley Convent in Cincinnati. R.S.M. was established in Dublin in 1831, but it wasn’t until 1858 that some of the sisters came to Cincinnati to teach and visit the sick in their homes. The R.S.M. nuns are “women of faith who commit our lives to God and our resources to serve, advocate and pray for those in need around the world.”

While she was busy with her life serving Christ, Aunt Dorothy (as we called her) tried to attend as many family events as she could. She particularly enjoyed coming to the Crusham family reunions, which were usually held in a local park during the summer. What I remember most about her was her smile and her infectious laugh.
Sister with nieces Marie and Margie
Although I don’t recall where we were going, one time I rode in the car with her. We were probably headed to my grandparents house after a family gathering. She was a horrific driver as she got older, and I vividly remember our drive as we headed the wrong way on a one way street. I was so frightened I got down on the floor of the back seat. We made it safe and sound to our destination, but my parents never let me ride with her again!

Aunt Dorothy was funny and kind, and I remember wishing I had nuns like her teaching at my elementary school in Des Moines. Despite the fact that she always wore a habit, she was not in the least bit intimidating.

Golden Jubilee
Her Golden Jubilee to commemorate 50 years as one of the Sisters of Mercy was held in 1984 at the Laurel Court in Cincinnati. Once the 1907 home of Peter G. Thomson, founder of The Champion Coated Paper Company, the building and its grounds were turned into an event space with multiple gardens. Many nieces and nephews attended the party, as well as her sole surviving brother, Tom. My brother flew in from Colorado, and my sister and her family along with my husband and me traveled from St. Louis to help her celebrate this momentous event.

Dorothy died on 22 August 2001 at the age of 92. She lived a long, full life and was much loved by her spiritual and blood families alike.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 13

Schwein home
This week’s writing prompt, the old homestead, took me back to my visit to Steinweiler, Germany in September of 2013. Steinweiler is a small (current population around 2,000) town in the Rhineland-Palatinate region. The area was first populated in 968, though it was not called Steinweiler until 1585.

It was there that I saw the home of my 6th great-grandparents, Johann Ulrich Schwein and Margarethe (Erbauer) Schwein. Ulrich, as he was known, was most likely born in Steinweiler though I have been unable to find information about his parents or date of birth. I do know, however, that in 1717 he married Margarethe Erbauer in Steinweiler.

The couple built their house in Steinweiler of half timber construction, which was common in both rural and town locations in Germany at that time. The frame of the building was made of timber, usually oak as it was plentiful. Triangular bracing was added to give additional support. The space between the timbers was filled with a mixture of branches, clay and straw. Plaster was then layered over that. The timber often remained visible both inside and outside the building.

As was popular, Ulrich had his name and the year his household was established etched into the facade of the house. The symbol between his name and the date let people know that Ulrich was a blacksmith. As Schwein indicated the occupational name for a swineherd, the family most likely had pigs as well. The construction of the house would indicate that animals were kept there as well, as you can see from the photo in the bottom right.

While I was photographing the outside of the house, the owner arrived home from work. My German guide explained to him why I was taking pictures, and he invited us to see the inside. It was beyond thrilling to cross the very threshold that my ancestors had crossed hundreds of years ago. I still get goosebumps when I think about it.

Schwein house kitchen and courtyard

Saturday, March 24, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 12

When I saw the writing prompt for this week, misfortune, I immediately thought about my paternal great-grandfather, Albert Hungler. Born in Covington, Kentucky on 17 October 1869 to John Hungler and Anna (Hightower) Hungler, Albert was the oldest of two boys born to this couple. (Anna died fairly young, and John went on to marry Mary Elizabeth Carver in 1892. They had twelve additional children.)

Catherine Cramer ~1887
Albert married Catherine Cramer on 3 July 1894 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Catherine, daughter of Michael Cramer and Anna (Williard) Cramer, was born in 1877 in Cincinnati. Albert was 24 and Catherine 17 when they married. Their daughter Lillian, my grandmother, was born in 1895, son Corry in 1897, and twins Alice and Albert in 1898. Unfortunately, Albert died at birth.

Catherine contracted tuberculosis and died 16 April 1900. She was just 22 years old. At the turn of the century, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in the United States. It was also referred to as TB, consumption, phthisis, and the white plague. Cincinnati had the first publicly funded tuberculosis sanatorium in the country. Between 1900-1903, 1,253 residents of Cincinnati died from TB. Sadly, Catherine and Albert’s son Corry also succumbed to tuberculosis on 10 October 1900. He died at the age of 3, just six months after his mother passed away.

Albert was no doubt still grieving the death of his wife when his only living son was also taken from him. One can only imagine what it would have been like to lose two important family members in such a short time period. I’m certain that Albert never imagined himself a widower at age 30 trying to adjust to the death of a wife and child while attempting to deal with his two remaining grief-stricken children. Lillian was only 5 and Alice just 2 at the time. That was a whole lot of misfortune for a young man to deal with on his own.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 11

The writing prompt for this week, Lucky, can be taken many ways. With all my Irish heritage, it would be easy to default to writing about my Ireland roots since it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, I think I’ll write about how luck played a part in finding out more about my Kubler heritage.

My dad always said that our Kubler family was from Germany. He didn’t know what part of that country we came from, only that he had heard Germany was the homeland. But I wasn’t having any luck finding a link between the family and Germany.

My grandfather, Joseph Henry Kubler, was born in Connersville, Indiana, and my great-grandfather Henry Kubler was raised in the same town. My 2nd great-grandfather, Vincenz Josef Kubler, had moved to Connersville with his wife and children around 1870.

On several occasions I traveled to Connersville, and I was able to piece together the lives of the family members in this town. Vincenz, who was known as Joseph in the community, operated a grocery store in town. In an account that was written about his store, they mentioned that Joseph was a native of Switzerland. This was my first inkling that the Kubler family came not from Germany but from Switzerland.

Joseph Kubler stone
Through a search at the local cemetery, I was able to locate the Kubler headstone, and determine when Joseph Kubler died. That led me to the library to look through the local newspaper, where I found a story about Joseph’s death. The article stated that he dropped dead after mass on a Sunday morning at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church. He was 38 years old. It went on to mention that Joseph was born in Büsserach, Canton Solothurn, Switzerland.

Finding that death notice was the missing piece I needed to determine the ancestral hometown of my 2nd great-grandfather. That knowledge led to a trip to Büsserach several years ago, culminating with a family gathering in a nearby castle. Now THAT was some luck!