Thursday, March 30, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jean La Forêt's Accounting of the Elizabeth Curdt Estate

This piece of faded, folded paper is 8 3/8" x 10 7/8" (the standard 8 1/2" x 11", shaved 1/8" on each dimension).  It looks and feels like a nice 20# bond; it has no watermark.  It has several folds in it going in both directions.  It has a few small tears at the ends of some of the creases.  The set of folds I think of as primary allowed it to be a trifold document.  Everything is handwritten in pencil; that on the "cover" panel is in blue pencil.  The writing looks like that of Jean La Forêt on the many documents I have posted previously.

The top image shows what I think of as the "outside."  The right panel of the page reads:

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Final Settlement
Personal property
Elizabeth Curdt

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

This then has to do with the final estate of Emma's mother, Elizabeth (Walz) Curdt, who died in 1919 in suspicious circumstances.

Turning to the "inside" page, the first panel reads:

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Otto Dauster
Charles Young
Geo. Appel


split[?] — 315.17
Left — 533..40

Alvina — 500.00
cash — 33.47


undertaker – 224.40
Burial — 21.00
Attorney — 10.00

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

This is the second panel:

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Alvina — 500.00
August — 25.00
Schaefer — 25.00
Deposit — 204.50
Cash — 10.14

furniture etc – 34.00


nothing in inventory


Judge Geo. W. Wolff
Clayton, Mo.
Attorney at law ,


should be 133.35

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

And the third panel shows math computations:

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --


533.47    | 4
 13      133.37


-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

The final panel, the "back page" so to speak, appears on the left of the side with the "cover":

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Geo. W. Wolff
Clarence L. Wolff


$119.94 {should be $133.35

by check August W. Curdt

dated Clayton, Mo. 8/10 1920
St. Louis County Bank,


Mrs. Emma M. La Forêt

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

So this gets us into some details of Elizabeth's estate.  Most of it appears to be breakdowns of amounts owed, while some items seem to be Jean's notes.

Who were Otto Dauster, Charles Young, and Geo[rge?] Appel?  Did they conduct the inventory on Elizabeth Curdt's estate?

The number 848.64, under the three names at the top of the left panel, shows up at the top of the middle panel and in computations on the right panel.  The occurrence on the left panel isn't connected to anything else.  Below the figure, however, are a "split" of 315.17 and "left" of 533.40.  These figures are similar to those in the second section of the right panel but don't quite add up to 848.64.  But what is the split?

The next section on the left panel shows an amount of 500.00 for Alvina and cash of 33.47.  The total of these two 533.47, matches that in the third column, but what is the cash?  The cash listed in the middle panel is 10.14.  There were two cash accounts?

The bottom section on the left panel has more costs:  224.40 for the undertaker and 21.00 for burial found plausible.  But only 10.00 for an attorney?  What did an attorney do for only 10.00?  Say, "Good morning"?

The top of the middle panel has a column of figures.  Alvina and August were two of Elizabeth's children with Louis Curdt; Schaefer was the husband of Louisa, the other daughter.  So the first three figures are Elizabeth's children.  The figure for Alvina is the same as that listed in the first column.  Did she receive a larger amount than her siblings because Elizabeth had been living with her?  And why are a deposit and cash in the same column?  The total written for the column is the same number as the first one on the left panel, but the numbers don't add up right.  When I add 500.00 + 25.00 + 25.00 + 204.50 + 10.14, I get 764.64.  If I add the 34.00 listed below for "furniture etc", the total is 798.64.  I'm not seeing the 848.64.  We're missing 50.00 somewhere.

If there really was "nothing in inventory", as the next item says, are all of these figures on Jean's scribble sheet from cash?  Doesn't the furniture count as inventory?  It's listed with a value.

Next we see the name of Judge Geo[rge?] W. Wolff, an attorney in Clayton.  We've seen his name before:  He was the president of the St. Louis County Land Title Company.  Did Jean hire him?  Was he a probate attorney handling Elizabeth Curdt's estate?  Is his name on this sheet because he was president of the title company?

The last section in the middle panel has $119.94 (the only figure on this side of the page to have a dollar sign) written larger and darker than other numbers.  Below it is "should be 133.35."  So Jean had a disagreement with one of the figures.

The top of the right panel repeats the figures from the top of the middle panel, including the furniture, and this time mostly gets the total I did.  It shows 98.64, whereas the total is 798.64.  Jean lost his hundreds column somewhere; I guess he just forgot to write down the 7?

In the middle of the right panel, however, 315.17 has been subtracted from Jean's middle-column total of 848.64, giving a result of 533.47, which is accurate for those two figures.  Then come four rows of numbers in a configuration with which I am not familiar.  I don't know if those numbers were subtracted to come up with the result of 133.35, or if the line under the 27 totally separates that set of numbers from the 133.35.  And there's a 133.37 by the odd configuration; I have no idea what that means, but I find it interesting that it's only 2¢ different.  This whole section has me bewildered.  Maybe it's the "old French math" method.

The last section of the right panel appears to refer back to the numbers from the bottom of the middle panel.  The 119.94 has been subtracted from the 133.35 which "should be" the right amount, leaving 13.41.  At least this math is correct also.

Returning to the other side of the sheet, at the top Judge Wolff's name shows up again, this time with Clarence Wolff.  The latter is possibly (probably?) related to the judge, but we don't know.  His name is not on the title company business card.

The next section explains the $119.94 figure (but not its origin).  It appears that's how much money Emma received out of her mother's estate.  August Curdt, the administrator for the estate, wrote the check, dated August 10, 1920.  But Jean repeated his note that she should have received $133.35.

After looking through all the figures on this piece of paper, though, I can't figure out where the $133.35 or $119.94 figure came from.  Maybe they'll show up on another page somewhere.

Overall this page provides some information but raises more questions than it answers.  I hope other documents in this pile clarify things later.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I'll Be Busy at This Year's IAJGS Conference!

I feel a little overwhelmed — but in a good way.  The program committee for this year's IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy recently sent messages to speakers who had submitted talks, letting us know which were accepted.  I had five — FIVE! — talks accepted.  Wow!  I've never had that happen before!

This year's conference will take place from July 23–28 at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  I admit that I'm not crazy about Florida in July, but I'm counting on the air conditioning to be working at its best.

So what will I be talking about at the conference?  It was nice of the committee to distribute my talks so I have only one on a given day.

Sunday, July 23
Jewish Genealogy:  How Is This Research Different from All Other Research?

Tuesday, July 25
Using Online Historical Jewish Newspapers for Genealogical Research

Wednesday, July 26
Online Doesn’t Mean Free: Copyright Issues for Genealogy

Thursday, July 27
Isaac Joseph of South Carolina and Daniel Joseph of Virginia

Friday, July 28
Immigration and Naturalization Records

It appears that I will be the representative for the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society at the conference (in fact, it looks like I will be the only board member in attendance).  So I'll be at the presidents' meeting on Sunday evening, and I'll need to go to the IAJGS annual business meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

In addition to those commitments, there will be a meeting of Jewish genealogy society newsletter and journal editors at the conference, which I should be at, since I'm the one who submitted it for the schedule.

Of course, I'm going to want to attend many of the other presentations at the conference.

Oh, and I have several family members who live in Florida, some of whom are actually close to Orlando — oops, Lake Buena Vista.

Yeah, I'm going to be busy at the conference . . . .

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Julie Bowen

I suspect I will be running behind all season with my Who Do You Think You Are? commentary, but I'll continue to forge ahead.  Onward to the second episode!

I had not heard of Julie Bowen before the advertising for the new season started.  The teaser for her episode said that she would investigate family lore and learn about two ancestors cut from very different cloth.  One made a daring choice and earned his family's pride.  Bowen was going to need to find a way to forgive the other.

The opening shot told us we were in Los Angeles, and the view looked to be from the Hollywood hills.  Bowen is in her home making guacamole, which even she admits is "so California."  For her intro she sits on a stool in a room in her house.  She was born in Baltimore as Julie Bowen Luetkemeyer (what?  that's not a good name for a marquee?).  Her mother is from the Midwest and always told her and her sisters to go outside and play in the fresh air and sunshine, so being naturally dramatic the girls created plays in the back yard.  Bowen always knew she wanted to be an actor.

Bowen moved to New York to realize her dream and went through lots of auditions.  Her significant roles have been on Ed (2000–2004), Boston Legal (2005–2008), and Modern Family (2009–present) (none of which I have seen, which apparently is why I didn't know who she was; her Wikipedia page mentions that she appeared on an episode of Jeopardy!, which I think is pretty cool).  She feels lucky to have her career and loves what she does.  She shot the pilot for Modern Family while she was pregnant with twins, who were born on the day the show was picked up for production.  She says that was when her life changed, and her family suddenly became the most important thing in the world to her (um, why didn't that happen when her older son was born?).

Bowen's parents are John Alexander Luetkemeyer, Jr. and Suzanne Frey.  She wants to learn about one ancestor on each side of her family.  On her father's side, her father's grandmother, Granny LeMoyne, said they had an ancestor whose home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.  On her mother's side, she knows that her great-grandfather Charles Daniel "Big Charlie" Frey was an illustrator for the Chicago Post.  He died before she was born, but she visited his apartment once and was impressed by how glamorous it was, with smoked mirrors, a black and white marble floor, and two grand pianos.

While Bowen talks about her ancestors, several photos and home movies are shown.  Unlike a lot of the celebrities who have appeared on this program, it seems that the Luetkemeyer family has no shortage of images of its ancestors, which is wonderful.

In the now-standard foreshadowing part of the intro, Bowen says that history is history and she doesn't want to claim any Nazis or slave owners.  It would be incredibly sad to find out she had those in her family, but if it's true she wants to know.  History is important because we repeat it if we don't know about it.  (True!)

Bowen starts with her mother's side of the family.  Her mom has sent Big Charlie's obituary, which was published November 12, 1959 in the Chicago Tribune.

"Charles Frey, Ad Executive, Dies at Age 73", Chicago Daily Tribune, November 12, 1959, page W13

Charlie was born in Denver, Colorado and was 73 years old when he died.  Bowen is looking forward to learning more about him because he's the other "artist" in the family.  No one else was as exotic or exciting.  Because Charlie died in Chicago, that's where she's going to start finding out about him (of course).

In Chicago, Bowen heads to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (identified by the "SAIC" on the outside of the building).  She tells us she sent the information she knew about Big Charlie to a genealogist, who told her to meet there.  The genealogist in question is Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, whom Bowen asks why Charlie would have gone to Chicago from Denver, where he was born.  Bloom immediately says they should look on (these plugs are geting more and more obnoxious in their heavyhandedness; this was 7 minutes into the episode).  She adds that normally one would search in the closest census but that they'll have to search in the 1900 census, because the 1890 census was burned.

(I am flabbergasted that a Certified Genealogist would state this inaccurate information.  She must know that the greatest part of the loss of the 1890 census came about due to the paper being waterlogged after the fire and left to become moldy.  I can't think of any reason that someone on the production crew would require her to say it was burned.  On the other hand, used to have an article on its site titled "A Fire Destroyed the 1890 Census, but It Doesn't Have to Destroy Your Search", so maybe an Ancestry rep asked her to phrase it that way?  The article, by the way, is no longer on the Ancestry site, but this 2008 blog post might be close to it in content.)

So Bowen somehow finds the search page for the 1900 census and enters "Charles Daniel" for First and Middle Name(s), "Frey" for Last Name, "1886" for Birth Year, and "Denver, Denver County, Colorado" for Birth Location, with Exact Search turned off.  Big surprise, she finds Charles "Frye":  born November 1886 in Colorado, living in Denver, Arapahoe County, Colorado (first hit on the page, no less).

United States 1900 Federal Population Census, Precinct 7, Denver City, Arapahoe County, Colorado,
June 4, 1900, Enumeration District 70, page 3B, lines 73–82

After clicking through to see the image, Bowen comments on the spelling of the last name as "Frye."  Bloom responds that the census taker probably spelled the name phonetically.  (That's not the best explanation.  If that were the case, it more likely would have been spelled "Fry", not "Frye.")  Bowen then proceeds to read all the information on the form, which is nice to see.  The two women note that Charlie's father, Daniel, was born in New York and that Daniel's parents were born in Germany (but don't mention that Charlie's mother's parents were from Ireland, so it must not be relevant for the episode).  There's also a comment about Daniel being a plumber and Charlie's "humble beginnings", with nothing said about the fact that Daniel did own his home, nothing to sneeze at in 1900.  (Also not mentioned were the twins in the Frey family, the 11-year-old brothers Harvey and Harry, born in December 1888.  Maybe twins run in the family?)

So why did Charlie go to Chicago?  No hard facts or documentation is available, but Bloom says that if Charlie wanted to be an artist, his opportunities would have been limited in Denver.  The places to go would be Chicago or New York.  And Charlie was in Chicago by 1908, as evidenced by his appearance in the city directory (which is not online anywhere, unfortunately).  He is listed as Charles D. Frey, artist Post h Ill Athl Club.  Bloom explains that Post was his employer, i.e., the Chicago Post, and "h" means home, so he was living at the Illinois Athletic Club.

Suddenly the significance of meeting at the Art Institute of Chicago is made clear:  This very building used to be the Illinois Athletic Club.  The room in which Bowen and Bloom are sitting was the main dining room, and Bloom points out a stained glass window with "I A C" in the pattern.

Bloom explains that in the early 20th century, men's clubs were a big thing.  You could dine and exercise where you lived, and they were outstanding places for networking.  It was the perfect place to be if you were trying to make your mark.  It wasn't cheap, however.  In 1908 the membership fee was $100, about equivalent to $2,500 today.  At the same time, the average hourly wage in publishing was 42¢/hour.  Bowen says that the fact that Charlie made joining the club a priority (which is an assumption on her part) meant that he was an up and comer and was making his career a priority.

Charlie's obituary said that he started his ad agency in 1910, only two years after he was living in the club.  He was young but ambitious.

Bloom takes out a book, Selected Writings of Elbert Hubbard.  The book has an entry for Charles Daniel Frey, which Bloom says was written about 1912:

Selected Writings of Elbert Hubbard, Volume 10:  Hundred-Point Men,
New York:  Wm. H. Wise & Co., 1922, page 380

The piece about Charlie runs for four and a half pages.  It reads a lot like a puff piece in a county history or "mug book", but more sycophantic.  It would be interesting to see how the original writings from which these were selected were put together.

Bloom produces a print ad from Charlie's ad agency for Bowen to look at.  It's very art deco.  (This is the poster that was shown.)  They talk about how Charlie helped transform advertising from merely showing a product to suggesting a future lifestyle.  He was a poster boy for the American dream.

Bowen says that Charlie's obituary said that he had served in World War I.  Bloom points her to Ancestry again and says she should start with the draft registration.

Bowen reads everything on the card, as she did with the 1900 census, but nothing is said (at least not on air) about the birthdate Charlie supplied, which was October 1988, two years off of that on the census.  Charlie said that he had a wife and two children, and Bowen comments that one of them was her grandfather.  She then hits the line where Charlie claimed a draft exemption because he had dependent relatives and judicial service.  She wants to know what that service was.

In another blow against good dialogue, Bloom tells Bowen she should go to (plug alert!  plug alert! product being featured!) and "see if [she] can figure out what's going on in 1917."  (I hope we can blame the show's writers; I'd hate to think that Bloom came up with that on her own.)  For her search terms Bowen uses Charlie's full name, Charles Daniel Frey, and restricts the search to Chicago in 1917.  When she clicks on the result the name of the paper is not stated, but it's the Chicago Tribune again, for August 25, 1917.  (They couldn't show Charlie's obituary on, because the site has the Tribune only up to 1922, the end of the public domain period.  After that, you need to have access to the ProQuest database.)  The article header certainly catches Bowen's eye:  "200,000 U. S. Secret Agents Cover Nation."

"200,000 U. S. Secret Agents Cover Nation", Chicago Daily Tribune, August 25, 1917, page 1

The article is about the American Protective League.  Charlie's name does appear, as the head of the League's Chicago division.  Based on information in the article, he was claiming exemption from the draft based on his work with the Secret Service.  But what exactly was the American Protective League, and what were they doing?  Bloom defers answering that question herself and tells Bowen she should speak to a historian who specializes in that topic.

As she leaves, Bowen talks about the kinship she feels with Charlie.  He worked at the intersection of art and commerce.  Creative types such as Bowen and Charlie push the envelope and are outside the norm.  But Charlie wasn't a government man, so something is missing in the story she has learned so far.  She needs to find out what the American Protective League (APL) was.

Bowen's next visit is to the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, just one block from SAIC.  The historian who talks to her there is Christopher Capozzola, a World War I historian at MIT.  (We saw him in the Bryan Cranston episode.)  He tells her that APL was founded in Chicago at the beginning of World War I as a national voluntary organization.  Charlie was involved from the beginning.

When the United States entered the war in April 1917, it was a controversial move, and not everyone agreed with it.  There had been sabotage by Germans in the U.S.  APL investigated a lot of people, but it was particularly interested in Germans and people of German descent, who were treated as enemy aliens.  Aliens were also required to register with the government.

Bowen points out that Frey was of German ancestry.  He was the second generation born in the U.S., but all Germans could be considered suspicious.  She wonders if he might have had a vested interest in joining APL early, and Capozzola agrees that it would have helped him look even more all-American.

At this point the narrator steps in to explain that Germans were the enemy in our midst.  They were told where they could live and work.  The American Protective League worked with police to keep tabs on Germans.  During Frey's tenure, APL rounded up more than 10,000 Germans and interned them in detention camps.  Many internees were not released until after the war was over.  The graphics playing during this segment included a man listed as "Henkel Arnold" in what looked like a mug shot.

Capozzola explains that a lot of things APL did are now not constitutional:  tapping phones, getting information from banks.  APL was a citizen surveillance army, and the largest chapter was in Chicago.  The League created a soapbox for Frey's patriotism, who could use his advertising skills to sell domestic fear.  To Bowen, this sounds like mob mentality, and it frightens her.

Capozzola concedes the organization is a dark chapter of U.S. history, but he has found a few documents relating to Charlie.  The first thing he shows Bowen is a photograph of the American Protective League National Headquarters, with Charlie standing in front of the building.  He is wearing a military-type uniform.  Bowen thinks he looks like a jerk, but she admits her grandfather looks just like him.  She wonders about the military-style garb, and Capozzola says he has another document to show her.

This document is a two-page letter on APL letterhead, dated March 22, 1918 (the one-year anniversary of the founding of APL).  I was able to transcribe most of it; I've put in dashes where I couldn't read the text or sections were not shown on screen.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

March 22nd, 1918

Captain Chas. Daniel Frey,
1537 "I" Street, N.W.,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Captain:

One year ago today [——]
[—] the formation of the American [Protective League ——]
[three lines I could not read]
build this [——]

As an American [——]
you built the first efficient company in the [—]
of your success as a Company Commander you were made [—]
the Chicago Division, and in that office you built the most efficient American Protective League division in the League and made of it a model on which we are still building all other divisions.

Because of your success as Chief of the Chicago division, you were made a National Director and I congratulate you on the excellent work you are now doing in helping to bring all other divisions of the League up to the standard of the Chicago division, as well as the other and even more important work you are now so efficiently handling as National Director.

At great personal sacrifice you have given your all to your country in your unselfish and untiring work for the Leagueand [sic] in the name of the League and its 250,000 members I extend to you their thanks and appreciation.

Yours very truly,

A. M. Briggs [signature]
Chairman, National Directors

Charles Daniel Frey, A. M. Briggs, and
Victor Elting (left to right), National Directors,
American Protective League
-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Charlie is addressed as "Captain" in the letter, which Capozzola only addresses in passing, but this page says that was commissioned as an Army captain.  Bowen reads parts of the letter, particularly focusing on the "other and even more important work" Charlie was credited as doing.  Capozzola points out that Charlie had moved to Washington, D.C. and was one of the most important people on the home front in the U.S. at this time.  He thought he was doing good work.  But what exactly was he doing?  As stated in the letter, APL had about 250,000 members in 1918, and everyone reported up the chain, so he was monitoring the efforts of the entire organization.

Bowen wonders why we don't hear about the American Protective League nowadays.  Capozzola says that it became a lightning rod of controversy.  Ordinary people were interrogated over the slightest things.  There was a backlash, and some people started pushing back, asking the APL members who they were to question things and just what kind of country the U.S. was becoming.  In late 1918 Congress debated the situation.  It eventually shut down APL but increased funding for the Bureau of Investigation, the precursor organization to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  APL became a forgotten chapter in American history.

Bowen then goes off about how someone is villainized in every war and people act unconstitutionally.  Currently the anti-Muslim sentiment in the country follows the same pattern.  She finds it more than a little disturbing that her ancestor was involved in this, but she would rather know it than not.  She hopes it helps start a conversation about the situation.

Leaving Pritzker, Bowen says that it's ok that families have dark corners.  Learning about Charlie doesn't determine who she is.  People need to look at history, but it's scary that mistakes are forgotten so quickly.  If people don't look, they are doomed to repeat the errors.  As a society, we need to remember that this happened and learn from it.

Now that she's learned about an interesting ancestor on her mother's side of the family, it's time to turn to her father's side.  She had asked her father if he had anything to share.  Bowen reads (most of) his response aloud from her mobile phone.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Jack Luetkemeyer

"My side of the family"

Dear Julie

I hear from Mom and others that you are getting enlightened on our ancestors on the Frey side of the family, so I thought I would throw in a few words on my side of the family.  The first name that comes to mind is the Lemoyne's [sic].  My grandmother, Granny Lemoyne, whose real name was Romaine LeMoyne, before marrying my grandfather, Austin McLanahan, was the real matriarch when I was growing up.  Her father's name was John Valcoulon LeMoyne, and his father was Francis Julius LeMoyne.  They were from Washington, Pennsylvania so you may want to start there.

I miss you XO


-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Bowen remembers having heard the LeMoyne names before.  The family lore is that Francis LeMoyne was some kind of doctor and that he had been involved with the Underground Railroad.  She hadn't wanted to check on it previously in case it turned out not to be true.  It's been nice to believe the story.  She doesn't know anything else about the story and decides (i.e., was told) she should go to Washington, Pennsylvania to find out more.

In Washington Bowen goes to the Washington County Historical Society.  Over a door inside the building is a sign:  "LEARN FROM HISTORY Or Be CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT."  With that as a reminder of the theme for this episode, Bowen sits down to talk with Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar of the University of Delaware.  Dunbar starts out by saying that the "Washington Historical Society" has a lot of documents about the LeMoyne family because the building is the family's former home.  The two women are sitting in the former apothecary.  Francis LeMoyne was indeed a physician/surgeon, and he ran his practice out of his home.

Then Dunbar tells Bowen that some of the documents are fragile, so Bowen will have to wear gloves.  (No!!  If the documents are really that fragile, using gloves means you lose most of your tactile sensitivity, which is worse for the documents.  Oh, bother.)  Dunbar then brings out a large certificate.  At the top is printed "American Anti-Slavery Society Commission."

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

American Anti-Slavery Society
to Dr. Francis J. Lemoyne

Dear Sir:

You have been appointed and are hereby commissioned, by the Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society, instituted at Philadelphia in 1833, as their Agent for the space of Twelve months commencing with 20 day of December 1837.

The purpose of this Commission is to authorize you to deliver, in the name of the American Anti-Slavery Society, public lectures and addresses in support of the principles and measures set forth in its Constitution and Declaration of Sentiments.

Given at the Secretary's office No. 143 Rassan[?] Street, New York, this 12 day of December in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and thirty seven.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

partial image of LeMoyne's commission paper

Bowen is very excited — her ancestor was an abolitionist!  She has never heard of the society before.  Dunbar explains it was the first national society calling for the end of slavery.  LeMoyne signed up in the society's early days.

As an agent and lecturer, LeMoyne would have helped share the society's stand that not only should slavery end, there should be no compensation for slave owners and people should boycott Southern goods, such as cotton and sugar.  His goal would have been to educate people through his lectures, in the north and the south.  Bowen is surprised that he would have traveled to the south and asks if it would have been dangerous.  Dunbar confirms that it was:  Abolition was still considered a radical idea, and when this commission was given, the country was still 27 years away from outlawing slavery. Bowen asks what inspired LeMoyne to become an abolitionist.  Dunbar doesn't have an answer for LeMoyne specifically but says that she believes that for most people it came from within themselves.

Bowen wants to know more about how LeMoyne would have traveled for his lectures.  Would he just get on a horse and go?  Dunbar says he wouldn't have gone alone, because there were great risks to antislavery speakers.  They could be tarred and feathered, and some were killed for speaking.

The historical society has several oral histories that detail what the townspeople said about LeMoyne.  Dunbar brings out two very yellowed typed pages and says it's a copy.  Bowen reads most of the second paragraph transcribed below.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Starting in 1841 the abolitionist party in Washington county had a complete ticket every year for county offices and for governor.  In 1841 Dr LeMoyne was the candidate for governor, polling 85 votes in the county.  In 1843 he was a candidate for Congress receiving 410 votes.    Erichsen

For a long time the abolitionists did not dare to hold their meetings in any public places.  One of the most popular places to hold them was the side yard of the LeMoyne place.  This was the most natural place for them as the lecturers were entertained by Dr. and Mrs. LeMoyne.  On one occasion a large crowd gathered in a threatening manner in front of the house.  The Abolitionist[s] were gathered in the garden.  Dr. LeMoyne took his son John up to the little balcony which used to be reached from the attic on the front of the house.  Here Dr. John Julius LeMoyne kept his bee=hives under the front eaves, and here on pleasant evenings the old Doctor was to be found playing his flute and admiring his bees.  On the evening Dr. LeMoyne told his son, young John:  "If those people try to break up the meeting just throw one of these bee-hives into their midst."  The young man had the advantage and angry though they were the crowd was forced to disperse.

On another occasion the meeting was in progress in another place but was threatened so violently that the speaker was forced to seek refuge at the LeMoyne home where he was staying.  Mrs. Le Moyne herself was his guide through back yards and over fences.  The route was so devious that it took about a half hour to arrive.  It was on this occasion, perhaps, that Mrs. LeMoyne's white bonnet was spotted with the egg missiles.

For the last thirty years of the Doctor's life he was unable to rest in his bed at night, but sat upright in a large easy chair which he kept in his office.

LeMoyne Institute was founded about 1871.    Erichsen

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Bowen pauses when she reads the name of Dr. John LeMoyne and says that she named her son John after this part of the family.  Dunbar points out that this Dr. LeMoyne was the father of Francis Julius LeMoyne, and Bowen realizes John LeMoyne was her 4x-great-grandfather.

After Bowen finishes reading the paragraph, the women discuss just what was happening.  Dr. John LeMoyne had told his son to throw a beehive into the angry crowd to protect the people who were at the meeting, so he must have been an abolitionist also.  Dunbar says that John the son did throw the beehive, but I'm not sure that's clear from the text.

Bowen is stunned that this happened in Pennsylvania, which she thought no longer had slavery by that time.  Dunbar explains that slavery in Pennsylvania was almost but not quite gone.  (The account is undated, but Pennsylvania did not fully free all slaves until 1847.)  Even though it was almost gone, there was obviously still great animosity about the matter.

It occurs to Bowen that freed slaves would have been part of society.  Dunbar confirms this and adds that fugitives would have been there also.  Many people were concerned that these fugitives were in competition for their jobs.  This sets off Bowen, who talks about people who feel threatened by "others" who are different from them.  It sounds old and new at the same time, and she sees parallels in today's society.  Dunbar says that Francis LeMoyne fought against that type of thinking and said he "will not agree to the moral bankruptcy of slavery."

The discussion of fugitives brings Dunbar to show another document; she says that this letter and the other documents are all copies.  (But if that's the case, why bother with the conservator gloves?)

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Altho, unacquainted with you personally, I feel it my duty to acquaint you (confidentially) of a circumstance which transpired here this morning, trusting my information may save a brother man from slavery.

Mr. McClean, former editor of the Argus, of Wheeling, Va., was in my office this — Wednesday — morning, & in conversation enquired who was U. S. Commissioner in Washington, Pa.  I did not know — He said "I suppose if you did you wouldn't tell me, as one of our citizens wants to seize a slave of his there "?"  He wouldn't tell me who the master was, but I feel it my duty to warn you that if there is no US Com. there the "master" will soon be there himself, in search ——

Please put your colored folks on their guard, especially fugitives from the neighborhood of Wheeling, Va.  The bloodhounds are on the scent. . .

Yours in haste,
J. Heron Foster

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

An interesting thing about this letter is that I found a published transcription of it, but it differs from what was shown on the program.  I was able to read and transcribe the entire letter as shown on screen, so I'm confused about the differences.  In addition to differences in punctuation, the published version has an extra sentence between the end of the program's version of the letter and the closing.  I wonder if the original of this letter even still exists, whereby someone could verify what it truly said.

F. J. LeMoyne et al., "Anti-Slavery Letters of Dr. F. J. LeMoyne, of Washington, Pennsylvania",
The Journal of Negro History 18:4 (October 1933), pages 466–467.

This letter confirms that LeMoyne was part of a community engaged in helped enslaved people find freedom.  The "colored folks" referred to in the letter would be both escaped slaves (fugitives) and free persons of color.  Even someone who had never been a slave could be taken and then enslaved.  Dunbar says that this letter (which is also undated) was written after 1850 and passage of the Fugitive Slave Law, which gave slave owners permission to cross state lines to recover their escaped slaves.

The narrator gives a more detailed explanation of the so-called "Bloodhound Law", given that name because slave owners literally used bloodhounds to try to track down runaways.  The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 required that escaped slaves be returned to their owners, even if they were in free states.  The U.S. Commissioners determined who was a former slave, but they did so without benefit of trials or defense.  The blacks who were caught were not permitted to speak on their own behalf.  Citizens were pressured to turn in not only fugitives, but also anyone suspected of helping fugitives.

Dunbar says that because it was a federal law, even assisting someone was a crime.  You could be sent to jail and fined.  Being caught could ruin you.  Bowen gets herself in high dudgeon again, realizing that neighbors were encouraged to rat out neighbors, as at other times in history.

For someone like LeMoyne, who was well placed in society, to help and to put himself and his family at risk was a strong statement.  Considering the commission from the American Anti-Slavery Society, the abolitionist meetings held at his house, and how he was a known contact to help fugutives, Dunbar concedes that it is safe to say LeMoyne was part of the Underground Railroad.  Bowen is thrilled and squeals, "So great!"  She is proud to have him in the family.

Bowen wonders if the LeMoyne home is comparable to Anne Frank's situation.  Dunbar says that fugitives were harbored in the home.  LeMoyne helped people gain employment and shuttled others further north.  His son appeared to have been in the middle of it.  Bowen says she likes to think she would have done the same thing in the same situation but admits she doesn't really know if she could.

Bowen asks again why LeMoyne would do what he did.  Dunbar can't help but think that maybe he was modeling the behavior and bravery of the fugitive slaves who escaped and made it north.  Bowen sees the same fight going on; LeMoyne chose a side and stood up against the federal government in the face of adversity.  She cries as she says it's good to have heroes.

She then asks Dunbar when LeMoyne died, which was in 1879.  He lived long enough to see Emancipation and the abolition of slavery.  (He also lived long enough to see the failure and dismantling of Reconstruction, but that wasn't brought up.)

In the wrap-up, Bowen describes how she was shocked to see the documentation about LeMoyne, even though she had heard the stories from family members.  She compares LeMoyne's world to modern society, where moral questions are being asked.  She's proud of her 3x-great-grandfather, who had the courage of his convictions.  (I presume she's also proud of her 4x-great-grandfather, who was also involved in the abolitionist movement, based on what we saw.)

Bowen is glad she looked at both sides of her family.  On the one side she found an abolitionist who stood up for people who had no rights.  On the other side was Charlie and his participation in the American Protective League.  He apparently felt the need to do what felt right to him, which was to protect citizens by violating others' constitutional rights (which smacks mightily of rationalization to me).  She plans to share the information she has learned about LeMoyne, who made hard choices.  She wants to forgive Charlie and his misguided actions as much as she wants to congratulate LeMoyne.  But both are family, and you have to love family.  You learn from them and try to do better.

Now that we've learned more about Big Charlie, the profile written by Elbert Hubbard becomes particularly interesting.  Hubbard was the founder of Roycroft, an arts and crafts community.  Check out the "Religious and political beliefs" section on his Wikipedia page.  Considering the kind of man Hubbard was, I suspect that he profiled people he actually respected and that the pieces were not pay to play or designed to curry favor.  He might not have written such a complimentary piece about Charlie if he had known the activities Charlie was going to be engaged in.  He died in 1915, so he never saw what Charlie became.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: The Day Your Grandfather Was Born

It's time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, and this week Randy Seaver has a mission that does sound like lots of fun:

(1) What day of the week was your grandfather born (either one)? Tell us how you found out.

(2) What has happened in recorded history on your grandfather's birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.

(3) What famous people have been born on your grandfather's birth date?  Tell us how you found out, and list five of them.

(4) Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook.

Considering that it was only last year that I finally confirmed my paternal grandfather's birth date, I figured I had to pick him for this challenge.

(1) My paternal grandfather, Bertram Lynn Sellers, was born April 6, 1903.  According to, that date was a Monday.  (I'm not sure how "fair of face" my grandfather was, though.)

(2) Historical events that happened on April 6 during my grandfather's lifetime:

• In 1909, Robert Peary and Matthew Henson reached the North Pole.
• In 1917, the United States declared war on Germany, officially entering World War I.
• In 1947, the first Tony Awards were presented.
• In 1957, Aristotle Onassis bought Hellenic National Airlines and founded Olympic Airlines (on which I have flown).
• In 1973, Major League Baseball's American League began using the designated hitter (a travesty).

(3) Famous people who were born on April 6 during my grandfather's lifetime:

• 1903, Mickey Cochrane, American baseball player and manager (born in Massachusetts on the same day my grandfather was born in New Jersey)
• 1931, Ivan Dixon, American actor, director, and producer
• 1926, Sergio Franchi, Italian singer and actor
• 1937, Merle Haggard, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
• 1947, John Ratzenberger, American actor and director

I found the information for (2) and (3) on Wikipedia.  It was hard to keep each list to only five!

(4) This is the blog post!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Discussion of the John Schafer Estate Dispute Begins

Beginning this week, I'll be making a departure from how I've presented items previously in my ongoing investigation and analysis of the "treasure chest" of documents that relate to Emma Margaret (Schafer) Petit La Forêt and the people in her life.  Until now I've grouped documents by the person they primarily focused on.  Now I'm getting into the dispute over the estate of Emma's father, John Schafer, and whether Emma's mother, Elizabeth, and Curdt half-siblings stole what was rightfully Emma's inheritance.  These items mostly don't appear to be dated, and several documents have multiple copies, so it should be interesting to wade through them.

These two cards measure 4 1/2" x 2 1/2".  They are brown and are made out of a fairly substantial card stock, heavier than the average business card.  They are copies of the same card.  The bottom image is the reverse of the top card.

Both cards have names underlined in pencil.  The top card has a heavy pencil line under D. C. Taylor, the bottom name under "Officers and Directors."  Lighter lines can be seen under Geo. W. Wolff, President; Henry Kirchner, Sec'y; and William Elbring.  In addition, the word "not" follows Wolff's name.  The second card has only Geo. W. Wolff's name underlined.

On the back of the second card, four words that appear to be names have been printed in red ink:

None of these names appears on the front of the card.  There is no context for who they are or how they are connected to the company, if at all.

This card back also has part of a newspaper page stuck to it.  I have not determined if I have the matching newspaper.

So far these cards are a mystery as far as their relationship to Emma.  Possibly (probably?) they were consulted in conjunction with Jean La Forêt's research into the history of the land that was part of John Schafer's estate.  Maybe some other document in this large file will have the company's name on it.

The St. Louis County Land Title Company was established in 1880, according to this card.  The cards have "35 Years in Business" on the lower left, so they were presumably printed in 1915.  I like the claim that they were "compilers and owners of the only complete and perfect set of records in St. Louis County."  (I wonder if that set of records still exists somewhere.)  Maybe Jean contacted them because of those records?

I searched to see if the St. Louis County Land Title Company still exists.  It does, but now under another name.

An examination report states on page 4 that "Land Title Insurance Company of St. Louis was incorporated in the state of Missouri on December 7, 1901, as the Chomeau and Dosenbach Land Title Company and was capitalized with 1,000 shares of common stock with a par value of $100 per share.  On May 1, 1905, the name was changed to the St. Louis County Land Title Company and on April 11, 1928, the name was changed to its present name of Land Title Insurance Company of St. Louis."

The name of the company is in agreement for the year the business cards were designed and/or printed.  The capitalization amount matches the $100,000 that's on the business cards, although that would mean it had not changed in the intervening fourteen years.  This report says that the original company was incorporated in 1901, whereas the cards say the company was established in 1880.  That isn't necessarily a contradiction, but it would mean that the company incorporated 21 years after it began.  I don't know how common (or not) that might have been.

In the case of Stevens v. Stevens (309 Mo. 130, 138 [Mo. 125]), Henry C. Kirchner is identified as the former secretary of the St. Louis County Land Title Company, so that's obviously the right company.  He was testifying as a witness in, of all things, a property dispute.

The case of Roth et al. v. Hoffman et al.  (234 Mo. App. 114, 124 [Mo. Ct. App. 1938]) includes a statement that a letter was sent by the St. Louis County Land Title Company on July 26, 1929, more than one year after the examination report states the company had changed its name.  Maybe someone was still using old letterhead a year later?

This little historical squib on the site of First American Financial Corporation (the company which bought Land Title Insurance Company of St. Louis) seems to confirm that all of this information is about the same company.  What's nice to read is that "Land Title maintains its own title plant, the oldest title facility in Missouri, containing documents dating back to the1840's."  Hey, maybe they do still have that "perfect set of records"!  Better yet, maybe they still have correspondence relating to the Schafer land dispute . . . .

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: A Critical Life Decision

Randy has posed a difficult question, at least for me, this week in Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible music):

(1)  Did you or your ancestor make a critical life decision that really changed their life in terms of place, work, family, relationships, etc.?

(2)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google+.

Ancestors on one entire side of my family made critical life decisions that really changed their lives in terms of place, work, family, relationships, and more.  They totally picked up and left one continent to immigrate to another.

My mother was Jewish.  All of my ancestors on that side immigrated in the early 20th century.  They left everything behind and moved to a brand new world.  Talk about critical!  If even one of them had not done so, I probably wouldn't be here.

But I have no direct information to tell me what caused any of them to make that decision.  No letters.  No family stories.  No family artifacts with coded messages.  Not even a hint.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero.  The big bagel.

For one family line, however, I can make a good guess, based on the information I do have.

My great-great-grandparents Avigdor and Esther Leah (Schneiderman) Gorodetsky were living in Kishinev, Russia (now Chișinău, Moldova).  They had apparently moved there about 1892 with their two oldest children, who were said to have been born in Kamenets Podolskiy, Russia (now Kam'yanets-Podil's'kyy, Ukraine).  Six more children were born to them in Kishinev, and Esther Leah also had at least one miscarriage.  The last child, Moishe, was born November 15, 1908 (new style dating).  About a month later, on December 10, Esther Leah died; I still don't have a complete translation of the cause of death, but blood appears in the description.

Less than a year later, on June 26, 1909, my great-grandfather Joyne Gorodetsky boarded a ship in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and began the chain migration of that part of my family.  Eventually all eight siblings and my great-great-grandfather came to North America.

Maybe the family had already been thinking about going to the Goldene Medine before their matriarch died at the young age of about 34.  But it appears that her death might have been the catalyst for everyone to actually move.  And I'm sure it was a critical decision for all of them.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Emile Petit Answers Questions about Events in Missouri

This is a set of three pages linked together.  The first page is a small piece of white paper, 5 1/2" x 6 5/8".  It feels like 20# bond; it has no watermark.  It has some typed information at the top and a clipped newspaper article that has been glued onto it sideways.

The second page is 8 1/2" x 10 7/8".  It is also white, feels like 20# bond, and has no watermark.  It has typwritten and handwritten material on both sides.  What are labeled as "ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS" were typed, while they were numbered by hand.  At the top of the front page in the upper left is "Rec'd 2-2-1920" in handwriting.  On the reverse, in handwriting at the bottom of the page, are "I state these answers are true to the best of my knowledge" and the signed name of Emile Petit, and "Witness" with the signed name of Daniel J. Kelly.

The third page is 8 1/2" x 12 3/4".  This is a grayish-yellowish off-white paper.  It's about 20# in weight and has no watermark.  It's a lesser quality paper than the previous two.  It is typed on the face with "Answ'd Jan. 26-20" in the upper left and "January 19-1920" in the upper right in handwriting.  The reverse has "Questions to Petit" handwritten in blue pencil.  The handwriting is similar to that in Jean La Forêt's journal.

This must have been part of Jean's investigation into what happened to Emma's inheritance.  When Emma wrote, "It took my husband a good while to get all the information in the case", I was not expecting to see that he had created an actual questionnaire.  He obviously approached the situation as a serious matter.

It appears that Emile Petit was still living in Vallejo.  At least, that's the location given on the answers page.

The second and third pages are held together by a rusted straight pin in the upper left corner.  The small first page has been glued onto the the second page.

These scans are of two sheets of paper, one represented by the first image and one by the second and third images.  The first page is 8 1/2" x 11" and is a grayish off-white.  It feels about 20# in weight.  There is no watermark.  It is all typewritten except for the dates in handwriting at the top of the page:  "January 19 - 1920"; "Answ'd Jan 26 - 20"; and "Rec'd Answers - 2-2-20."  The writing is again similar to that of Jean La Forêt's from his journal.

The second page is 8 1/2" x 11 3/8".  It is whiter than the first page.  It has a watermark:  BERKSHIRE SOUVENIR BOND USA.  The reverse side of the page has "Questions to Petit" in what appears to be Jean's handwriting in blue pencil.  These two pages are glued to each other in the upper left corner.

These pages appear to be copies of the first set.  The headers on the pages differ, and the second set is not a verbatim copy, but the bulk of the text is the same.  On the copy of the answers, the names of the signatures are typed.

This envelope is 9 1/2" x 4 1/8".  It is yellowish and somewhat stained in the lower left corner.  It's sturdy, apparently heavier than 20# paper.  As with the envelope holding the transcription of Louis Curdt's statement, I believe the printing was by Jean La Forêt.  The documents shown above were folded and in this envelope when I received everything.

These two sets of documents are reminiscent of the Louis Curdt set in that Jean made an extra copy.  I wonder if he was afraid that someone was going to try to take the original?  Or he may have just taken this type of precaution all the time.  After all, he kept all sorts of items that I've written about previously, even empty envelopes.  He was very good at saving things.

We've seen the response to one of the questions posed of Emile Petit previously.  In the first part of Emma's handwritten narrative, she quoted Petit's answer to question #10 (although she had an incorrect given name for the witness).  So that narrative must have been written after February 2, 1920, the date Jean wrote that he had received Petit's answers.

The rest of the questions and answers don't make a totally damning case against Louis Curdt, but he doesn't come off looking very good.  Neither does Emma's mother, Elizabeth.  Actually, neither does Petit, who said "I don't know" a lot.  On the other hand, he probably really didn't know.

When I posted the certificate for Emile Petit and Emma Schafer's marriage, I wondered at the time who the witnesses were, and now we have the answer:  Fortin, who was Petit's landlord at the hotel in which he was staying in Clayton, and Claud, a restaurant owner in Clayton.  Petit doesn't really seem to have known either one, and of course he didn't know how Curdt knew them.

Emma wrote in the second part of her narrative that she and Jean had taken "legal advice", and that is referenced here:  "The case is good and a good result can be expected.  This is the honest belief of several good lawyers."  Unfortunately, Jean and Emma did not have the money to press the case, and it would appear that Emma's children either could not or would not help her as was suggested:  "the children would help her in proportion in the expenses of the Court and the lawyers."  I'm guessing no court case was ever filed.

Four of Petit's responses to Jean's questions referred to Pete Bruno.  Bruno was the only person Petit knew who could verify Petit's information about what really happened at the time of Emma's marriage, and who might know more about what was going on.  Jean included a copy of the newspaper clipping about Bruno's death in this packet.  There's nothing in the description of the accident in which Bruno died to suggest that it was anything but an accident; maybe the fact that Bruno had died and was therefore unavailable to provide any additional information was the ultimate reason Jean and Emma did not pursue a court case.