Thursday, June 29, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Fraudulent Conveyance!



This piece of paper is 5" x 6 1/2".  It's a dark cream in color, with one section on the back that's orangish, where something, probably a business card based on the size, was pinned previously.  It has no watermark but seems to be of decent quality.  It might be writing paper, such as people used to use when letter writing was more common, although it's perhaps a little small for that.

There is handwriting on both sides, although the writing on one side is minimal, only numbers.  That side also has some names typed on it.  The handwriting appears similar to that of Jean La Forêt from his journal entries.  It also would seem to be his writing because it refers to Emma in the third person.  As some of the writing is a little difficult to read, I'll transcribe the entire side:

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

Fraudulent Conveyance
Section 1931 - Page 564 - I -

Emma was german thru
her marriage with Petit
(Foreigner)

The mother was adminis-
tratrix – Her husband
bought and returned
property to her -

Fraudulent conveyances all
over, since the marriage of
Mrs. Shaefer with Curdt,

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

This appears to be more information that Jean had noted for his and Emma's fight against Emma's half-siblings in the dispute over the split of Elizabeth Curdt's estate.  The reference to fraudulent conveyance seems to be from The Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri, 1899, which was cited on a document discussed a month agoSection 1931 is "Fraudulent conveyance" and does appear on page 564 in that edition.  I don't know how useful of a tool it was going to be in the La Forêts' fight, however, as it carried only a misdemeanor conviction.

It was not necessarily true that Emma became a German citizen through her marriage to Emile Petit.  Until the law was changed in 1907, whether a woman's citizenship status changed to that of her foreign husband was decided on a case-by-base basis.  What would have caused her to lose her citizenship was leaving the country.  When the act of March 2, 1907 went into effect, Emma's divorce from Petit was already in process; it was finalized in March 1908.  But even if she was considered a foreigner based on that marriage, her subsequent marriage to Jean in 1908 (a mere two months after her divorce) made her an American citizen again, because he had naturalized in 1890.  So well before the time Emma's mother died and all these disputes over the estate arose, Emma was no longer a foreigner.

The broad overview of the Schafer estate included the information that Elizabeth had been the administratrix of her deceased husband's estate.  That same document mentioned that Louis Curdt had sold the property back to Elizabeth after they were divorced.

The accusion of fraudulent conveyances since Elizabeth married Louis Curdt is interesting, primarily because it's so open-ended.  I'm guessing he was referring to the pressure to have Emile Petit and Emma sign away their rights to the Schafer property.  It's hard to tell if the punctuation mark at the end of the sentence is a period or a comma, as Jean seems to have used them almost interchangeably.  If it was intended as a comma, this thought does not continue on the other side of the paper.

That other side doesn't have much information on it.  Typed at one end are three names:  Miss Rosita La Foret (daughter of Jean and Emma), Overland, Missouri; Miss Ethel Schaefer (first time we've seen her name; perhaps the daughter of Charles and Alvina [Curdt] Schaefer?); and Mrs. E. M. La Foret (Emma).  Nothing else is there, so there's no way to tell why the names were typed.

Written in the middle of the page and upside down from the names are some numerals with absolutely no context.  Jean must have been trying to figure out some amounts connected with the estate, but he left no clues to follow up on.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Preserving Family History Research for Family Members

I don't know why I only received a message about this month's Genealogy Blog Party on June 23, when it apparently was posted on June 6, but at least I heard about it.  It's an important topic, too:  What will happen to your research after you are gone?  How do you preserve it for other family members?

I don't have any descendants, but I do have plenty of family members:  parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins by the dozens, extended family members.  And I've been sharing my research with as many of them as possible for several years.

Before sending everything by e-mail became the norm, every year for Christmas and Chanukah (because I come from a "mixed marriage", you know) I would mail out about fifty or so manila envelopes to all the family members I was in contact with.  Each person would receive updated information for all the family lines he (or she) was descended from.  (Yes, I tried single-handedly to keep the U.S. Postal Service in business.)  I sent family trees, narrative reports, and copies of photographs.  I found out the relatives I was sending them to shared them with other family members when some of the latter contacted me.  Hooray!  That meant more people had the information.

Nowadays I do that sharing mostly by e-mail.  I also readily share my research with cousins who find me while wandering the Web (the way my Cuban cousins found me).

A couple of years ago I had a lot of my family photos digitized.  (I still have a lot to go.)  I posted them online and shared the URL with all the cousins I knew from that side of the family.  It was a good exchange:  They could download copies of the photos, and they were able to identify most of the people in the photos for me.

I have put together several photo books through one of the popular online sites and given them as presents to family members.  Some books have focused on specific family lines, with photos of ancestors, collateral relatives, and scenes from ancestral hometowns.  Other books were about living relatives and their families.  I've also had magnets, playing cards, mugs, placemats, and shopping bags made with family photos.

I post lots of family stories and photographs on my blog, another way to share with family members.  I have downloaded the blog occasionally to archive it, but I haven't really thought about making a book out of it.  It's an interesting idea.

It seems like I'm doing quite a bit, but I know I could do more.  I'm not sure I'll ever work my way up to a book, though.  Now, if one of my relatives asks me to help supply information for a book that person wants to write, that would be great!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Which Ancestor Do You Admire the Most?

For Saturday Night Genealogy Fun this week, Randy Seaver is borrowing another question from the meme that surfaced a few weeks ago.

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you:

(1) The Family History Hound listed 20 Questions about Your Ancestor, and I'm going to use some of them in the next few months.  

(2) Please answer the fifteenth question:  "Which ancestor do you admire the most?"

(3) Write your own blog post, make a comment on this post, or post your answer on Facebook or Google+.   Please leave a link to your answer in comments on this post.

I knew immediately who I wanted to write about, but this is frustrating, because I don't remember her name.  The name is in a 560-page book about my Gauntt family, but I don't know where the book is in the house because half of my belongings are still in boxes due to an aborted out-of-state move nine years ago.  But I remember her story.

Most of ancestry on my maternal grandmother's line is Quaker.  One umpty-umpth-great-grandmother who married into the Gauntt family was renowned in the Quaker community of New Jersey.  She was known for giving inspiring testimony that lasted for hours.  When she was older and could no longer stand, she instead prayed on her knees for hours.  And people stayed to listen.

How can you not admire someone like that?

===

Addendum, Sunday, June 25, 2017:

I found her name!  I was moving some reams of paper tonight and discovered the book beneath them.

Ann Ridgway was born October 10, 1710 and died February 6, 1794.  According to David L. Gauntt, the author of Peter Gaunt, 1610–1680, and Some of His Descendants (Woodbury, New Jersey:  Gloucester County Historical Society, 1989):

"Ann Ridgway was a well known Quaker minister of Little Egg Harbor, N.J.  She began preaching when she was a very young girl and traveled extensively on preaching excursions from that time until a very advanced age.  She was a minister for over 60 years . . . .  When very old, she could not stand to preach, but would kneel while preaching for an hour or more."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Double Issues for Two Journals

Sometimes real life has an annoying way of intruding on volunteer activities.  That's what happened to me earlier this year, and it's why issues of ZichronNote and The Baobab Tree did not appear in the spring, as they should have.  But I've been dancing as fast as I can, and I managed to catch up.  Both journals have recently been published as double issues, with more pages and stories than usual in an effort to atone for the delay.

In the February/May 2017 issue of ZichronNote (from the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society), Fred Hertz wrote about his successful efforts to contact cousins from other branches of his family tree and his thoughts on the different paths family members took.  Martin Gewing was fortunate to see a torah from the town his mother's ancestors lived in.  Judy Vasos shared a special photograph from World War II, of an entire wedding party in Germany wearing the required yellow stars of David, and shared her discovery of a second photo from that day.  Alan Silverman related one Sephardic family's journey, over several generations, from Spanish expulsion to Dutch sanctuary to British establishment.  In the third article in a series, Kevin Alan Brook described documentation proving that Sephardic Jews resided in central and northern Poland.  Sheri Fenley, the Educated Genealogist, graciously allowed us to reprint her story (with new material!) about David Nathan Walter, an early Jewish pioneer in San Francisco.  One of our members wrote about her pleasant surprise at discovering that her 10-year-old grandniece is actually interested in family history.  And the SFBAJGS Treasurer, Jeff Lewy, went over the society's financial performance in 2016 and explained how we were able to help several genealogy projects around the world.

The Winter/Spring 2017 issue of The Baobab Tree (published by the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California) led off with an article by Patricia Bayonne-Johnson about the Georgetown Memory Project, which grew out of the public revelation that Georgetown University survived an early financial crisis through the sale of slaves.  This article is a follow-up to one Pat wrote in 2008, also published in Baobab, about her family members that were among the Georgetown slaves.  Veola Wortham contributed her hard-learned lesson not to take everything family members tell you as gospel.  In the first half of a two-part article, Ellen Fernandez-Sacco discussed her discovery that her early ancestors in Puerto Rico owned slaves and how her research has changed due to learning that.  Richard Rands eloquently explained why your family tree should be on your computer at home, not online.  Janis Minor Forté didn't let one adverse piece of information define the legacy of her grand-uncle.  In addition to her first article, Veola Wortham also reviewed the book Black Indian Slave Narratives and discussed its relevance to genealogical research.  There is also a review by Sharon Styles of this year's Sacramento African American Family History Seminar, where the keynote speaker was Paula Madison.

That sounds like a lot of interesting genealogical reading, doesn't it?  Wouldn't you love to see how those stories turned out?  All you have to do is be a member of the respective societies, and you can happily receive issues of the journals.  Visit the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society (for ZichronNote) and the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (for The Baobab Tree) for membership information, and all your problems will be solved.  Well, at least those relating to being able to read the journals.

Another way to obtain a copy of either journal in the future is to have a story published in it.  (In fact, for Baobab, you will receive five copies!)  You do not need to be a member to submit a story.

Have you had a breakthrough in your research, solved a family mystery, discovered a different way to use resource materials, or walked where your ancestors walked?  Do you have an interesting story about your family?  Other people would love to read about it!  Submission guidelines for The Baobab Tree (including deadlines) are online, or you can send me a message regarding a submission to ZichronNote.  Let's talk about it!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Notice of Final Settlement and Probate Court Docket


This is a calling card that is 3 3/4" x 2 1/4".  It is made of fairly heavy card stock.  It is yellowish-brown and has some staining or discoloration in the lower left corner (which doesn't show up when I look at the card itself).  It also has holes that appear to be from two straight pins that were stuck through it (although I don't think it had pins in it when I received it).  A newspaper clipping has been pasted on the back of the card, and that side has some handwriting.

The calling card is for Jean La Forêt, apparently from the same printing as the one I posted two months ago.  That card had the June 25, 1920 "Notice of Final Settlement" pasted over the front of the card  This time we can see the front of the card.

The back of the card has a copy of the same "Notice of Final Settlement" pasted on it, with blue pencil outlining the notice.  It also has a note in what looks like Jean's handwriting:

Settled 8-10-20.
accepted check for $119.94

That dollar amount has come up before also.  It appeared in Jean's notes on the breakdown of Elizabeth Curdt's estate, with his comment that it should have been $133.35.  It's the amount that Emma, Elizabeth's daughter, accepted as her portion of her mother's estate.


This piece of newsprint is 5" x 7 1/8".  It has been torn out and has rough edges on three sides.  The right side appears to be the edge of a newspaper page.  The section that was saved is the "Probate Court Docket", with Tuesday, August 10, 1920 as the first date listed.  Underlined in blue pencil is Estate "5173 Curdt, Elizabeth", with "Aug W Curdt" under "Admrs. and Extrs." (Administrators and Executors).  It was folded down the first column, maybe to fit in an envelope, but that doesn't appear to show up in the scan.

Pasted on this piece is yet another copy of the "Notice of Final Settlement" dated June 25, 1920.  (I'm really starting to believe that Jean La Forêt had a pathological fear of losing paperwork.)

The August 10 date matches what Jean wrote on this card, on the card posted earlier, and in his notes on the estate.  While the $119.94 amount matches that on Jean's notes, it does not match what he wrote on the first card, which was 119 98/00.  So there's a difference of 4 cents for some reason.  I'm leaning toward the $119.94 figure being what Emma actually accepted, since that's in Jean's breakdown, but there's no way to tell for sure just from these items.

None of these clippings has any note saying from which newspaper it came.  The announcement of Elizabeth Curdt's death was said to be in the St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, so maybe these were published there also.

And sometimes I'm really slow, but I figured out tonight what the N. C. probably stands for on Jean's calling card:  "Non Commissioned."  It took a while to sink in because I've never seen it abbreviated in that way.  But Jean was a noncommissioned officer (NCO) in the Marines, so it makes sense.

These two items were next to each other in the original pile of papers I received.  I kept them together because they both have the "Notice of Final Settlement."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Three Stories for Father's Day

Tomorrow is Father's Day, so of course tonight Randy Seaver picked a relevant theme for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission: Impossible music) is:

(1)  Sunday, 18 June, is Father's Day.  Let's celebrate by writing a blog post about your father or another significant male ancestor (e.g., a grandfather).

(2)  What are three things about your father (or significant male ancestor) that you vividly remember about him?

(3)  Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status or Google+ Stream post.


I decided to write about my paternal grandfather.

• One of the first things I always remember about my grandfather is his prosthesis and amputated leg.  He never talked about the accident that caused him to lose his leg (we finally learned details several years after he died), but he let us kids play with the prosthesis when he visited us in California.  After my family moved to where my grandfather lived in Florida, it became a regular part of the routine that every now and then Grampa had to see his doctor to have the prosthesis adjusted.  And one great adventure with my mother driving happened when we were going to Pensacola with Grampa to see his leg doctor.

• Something very important in my grandfather's life was being a Shriner.  He was a member of the Hadji Temple (in Pensacola) Tailgater Unit.  He was an active participant in the group's outreach and fundraising activities and proud of his membership.  Every year there was a big Shriners Fair in our area, and of course everyone in the family went.  (One of the public benefits they offered was blood pressure checks.  I used to have lower-than-average blood pressure, and it always freaked them out when they measured it.  They would turn to my mother and express their grave concern, and she would assure them everything was fine.)  I think they did parades through Niceville, but I don't remember if they had the silly little cars.  I have only one photograph of Grampa in his Shriner fez, and that's because my aunt brought it with her when I coordinated our little Sellers family reunion a couple of years ago.  But I don't know what happened to the fez itself!  (Hmm, I wonder if Shriners have records I should be looking for . . . .)


• Another vivid memory is my grandfather's stamp shop in Niceville, Florida.  It was attached to his house, so anytime we visited, we usually stopped in the store also.  And I worked for Grampa in the shop, so I spent extra time there.  Sellers Stamp Shop was a homey little operation.  The front part was the retail area, which had glass display cases for coins, postage stamps (for philately, not for mailing), and associated paraphernalia.  He sold some other odds and ends also.  The rear of the shop was where we made rubber stamps, such as "PAID" and address stamps, with "hot lead" by hand.  (Nowadays it's all done with computers.  Feh.)  Working at the shop was my first job after babysitting, so I was very proud of the work I did.  And I got to hang out with Grampa!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Curdt Siblings Respond


These four sheets of lined paper measure 7 13/16" x 9 13/16".  They appear to be inexpensive and of low quality, with no watermark.  Although the paper is lined on both sides, the writing is on only one side of each page.  Unlike so many items in this collection that have been glued together, these pages are attached by an ingenious metal brad.  The pages have three fold lines; it looks as though they were folded in thirds to fit into a business-sized envelope, and then one end was folded over to fit into a shorter envelope.

This is a four-page letter, all handwritten, dated January 28, 1920.  It is from Emma (Schafer) La Forêt's three siblings — Alvina (Curdt) Schulte, August W. Curdt, and Louisa (Curdt) Schaefer — and was written to Emma in response to the letter dated January 25, 1920 that she sent to them (which I posted last week).

If you don't want to read the handwriting, don't worry — look at this.


Yes, conveniently, I also have a typed transcription of the letter.  It is not exact — several capital letters were made lower case, a few letters went the opposite direction, spelling was changed, ampersands were converted to spelled words, and punctuation (which is very casual in the original) was adjusted.  In addition, two entire phrases were omitted.  But it's a little easier to read than the handwriting.  This particular page is 20# watermarked bond (BERKSHIRE SOUVENIR BOND USA), 8 1/2" x 13", and cream in color.  If that sounds familiar, it should.  It's the same type of paper as used in the typed copy of Emma's letter to her siblings.  In fact, this is attached to those two pages.

The differences between the original handwritten letter and the typed transcription are:

The second page of the original begins with "she always did with her property as she pleased & sold to whom she pleased for what she pleased & did with her cash as she pleased and saw best".  The transcription omitted "& sold to whom she pleased for what she pleased".

About halfway down the third handwritten page is "C. F. Schaefer bought several pieces of ground at different times, & sold them at a good profit, but he bought and paid the prices Mother asked for them, you say there was ($7,000.00) severn thousand dollars worth of property sold".  The transcription left out "at a good profit, but he bought and paid the prices Mother asked for them".

In addition, the transcribed letter has two notes at the bottom not from the original:  when it was received and answered, and a comment that the letter proves distribution of property was accomplished, not a sale.

In this letter we finally hear something from Emma's siblings, giving us a new perspective on some of the goings-on in the family.  Something that particularly caught my attention were the two comments about Emma having left her children in the care of her mother:

"when you married J. L. La Foret and went to Europe & left your children & her in her old age"

"but you do not mention the debts that were on same, & which Mother was left with three small children to pay interest on"

(Although the grammar in the letter is very fractured, it's usually easy enough to figure out the meaning, so I am going to assume that the interest mentioned in the second comment was being paid on the debts, not the children.)

I admit, I have wondered why Emma did not bring her children from her first marriage with her when she married Jean La Forêt and went to Europe.  But the siblings' accusations do not ring true.

First of all, when Emma left Missouri to marry Jean in 1908, the children were not that small.  Camilla Petit was born in 1894, making her 14, and Eugene in 1896, making him 12.  Marie was the oldest.  Emma did not give her birth date on any documents I have, but Jean wrote in his diary that she was born in 1885.  So she was an adult in 1908.  In fact, she apparently was married that year, because I found Marie in the 1910 census, married to William Schulte (as Emma stated in her narrative).  The census says that they had been married for two years.  And Camilla and Eugene are living with them, not with their grandmother.  (As an aside, the census shows that Marie was born in Germany; given how friendly Emma's in-laws were toward her, I'm sure that they were even more excited to have a baby in the house.)  While I have no documents that indicate how long Camilla and Eugene had been living with their older sister, it is not unreasonable to think they had been doing so since Emma had departed.

United States 1910 Federal Population Census, Enumeration District 119
Central Township, St. Louis County, Missouri, May 13, 1910, page 24A, lines 18–22
Once I call the complaint about Emma dumping her children on her mother into question, the siblings don't have much ammunition left.  So even though they wrote that Emma was the person who should dread the family's dirty linen being aired in court, I'm still inclined to think that the siblings were probably in the wrong and deliberately deprived Emma of at least some of her rightful inheritance.

I have one more item to include in this post:


Both the original letter from the Curdt siblings and the three glued-together typed pages with the transcriptions were in this envelope.  One of the copies of the waiver signed by Louis Curdt was in it also.  What was not in it was a copy of the response to the Curdt siblings letter dated January 28, which was sent on February 3, according to the note at the bottom of the transcription.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Significant Family Move

Recently two different influences on my blog came together in a way that made me write this post.  Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun theme had people writing about homes in which they have lived and which ancestor moved the furthest during his lifetime.  And the California Genealogical Society invited Craig Siulinksi to teach a class about writing one's life, in which he suggested that attendees each write about a significant event in our lives.  Having those ideas running around together in my head made me focus on a significant move.

As evidenced by the post about the homes in which I've lived, I have moved many times in my life.  My family moved so many times when I was a kid, my mother was nicknamed "the wandering Jew."

One of the most significant moves came early in my life, when my family left the United States and lived in Australia for two years.  We did this through a potential immigrant program sponsored by the Australian government.  I don't know how many groups might have been targeted, but the relevant one for my family was tradesmen.  My father was a talented and accomplished mechanic and apparently fit in well with what the government was looking for.

He was such a good mechanic, his photo was used in a newspaper ad in Australia!

I don't remember any of the preparations leading up to the move, because I was just eight years old and my parents handled all of that.  My father has told me one thing he had to do was go to San Francisco for an in-person interview at the consulate.  His opinion was that they wanted to make sure he was white; I don't know if that's valid or not.

We flew to Australia in March 1971.  The first leg of our journey was taking a helicopter from Ontario Airport in far western San Bernardino County to LAX, where we would catch a plane.  The three of us children were thrilled that we could look out the windows of the helicopter in all directions, but my mother, who was pathologically afraid of heights, had her eyes squeezed tightly shut the entire trip.  She kept telling us she didn't want to hear about what we could see down on the ground.

The airplane we flew on was a Pan Am Boeing 747.  Those were relatively new at the time, and I think it was pretty fancy, but I can't recall anything specific about the flight other than that we had to stop in Hawaii to refuel (which nowadays sounds amusing to most people).  And illogical as it seems, my mother loved to fly, as long as she was not sitting by the window.

I have only vague memories of our earliest times in Australia.  The first place we lived was an apartment.  I think that's where we were when my parents bet each other who could stop smoking longer.

Some background:  Both of my parents had smoked my entire life.  My mother's best friend smoked also.  When we were younger and my mother asked us children what we wanted for Christmas, we would say in a chorus, "We want you and Daddy to quit smoking."  To which my mother would reply, "Yeah, right, what do you really want?"  Well, be careful what you wish for.

So the bet was on.  My father gave up after three days.  My mother, who was more than a little stubborn, stuck with it.  Unfortunately, she became grumpier and grumpier (a very polite term for how she was acting) and ever more unpleasant to be around.  Eventually, my brother, sister, and I all begged her, "Mommy, please start smoking again!"  (The smoking is what eventually killed her, but she was absolutely miserable without her cigarettes.)

Next we lived in Maroubra Junction.  The main thing I remember about this location is that my mother worked at a Greek deli for Mr. Kringas.  One time when I was there Mr. Kringas asked if I could read.  At 9 or 10 years old, I proudly said I could, and he promptly handed me a newspaper — but it was in Greek!  He thought this was a great joke, but maybe that's what motivated me to learn the Greek alphabet.

As for the photograph at the top of this post, according to my father, "The Concorde was on a world introduction/promotional tour.  Being an airplane buff, I decided we should go see the beast.  Everyone was duly impressed and your Mother was already scheming up how to get a ride.  When we later found the going rates for SST travel, that plan was quickly discarded."  The photo of my siblings and me in front of the Concorde was taken at the airport in Sydney.  According to this history of the plane, the date was June 17, 1972.  (Isn't the Web wonderful?)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Loving Day

June 12 in the United States is Loving Day, the annual commemoration of the Supreme Court decision that struck down antimiscegenation laws, which prevented marriage between blacks and whites, in the sixteen states of the South that still had them on the books.  In honor of that day, this year I am happy to let you know about a New York Times story that my friend and genealogy colleague Nicka Smith contributed research to.

Leon and Rosina Watson of Oakland, California were married in 1950.  According to the Times, they are "among the oldest living interracial couples legally married in the United States."

California's State Supreme Court had only overturned the state's own antimiscegenation laws in 1948 in Perez v. Sharp.  With that decision, the court became the first one of the 20th century to declare that a state antimiscegenation law violated the U.S. Constitution.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Recent Ancestor Photographs

Even while he's busy posting about Genealogy Jamboree, Randy Seaver found time to come up with a new challenge for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you:

(1)  Do you have photos of all of your ancestors back to the 1850 time frame?  
Which recent ancestors do you not have a photograph of?  

(2)  Review your files, and list the ancestors for whom you want and/or need to find a photograph.  Also list where they resided and where they died.  Where would you look to find a photograph of them?

(3)  Share your answers on your own blog post (and leave a comment here with a link), or on Facebook or other social media.

1.  I have photographs of my parents, all four grandparents, and eight of nine great-grandparents, counting my paternal grandfather's adoptive father.  As I have not yet identified my grandfather's biological father, it would be surprising if I had a photo of him.  Of my sixteeen great-great-grandparents (eighteen if I count the unidentified great-grandfather), I have photos of only ten.

2.  The great-great-grandparents of whom I have no photographs are:

• Frederick Cleworth Dunstan (1840–1873) and Martha (Winn) Dunstan (1837–1884), who lived and died in the area of Manchester, Lancashire, England
• Amelia (Gibson) Gauntt (1831–1908), who lived and died in Burlington County, New Jersey
• Cornelius Godshalk Sellers (1845–1877), who was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and later lived and died in Philadelphia
• Simcha Meckler (?–before 1903) and Baila (?) Meckler (?–before 1925), who lived and died in the area of Kamenets Litovsk, Russian Empire (now Kamyanyets, Belarus)

My great-grandmother Jane Dunstan had a brother, Frederick, who also immigrated to the United States.  I could try to track down his descendants to see if any of them have photos of the parents.  I also know of some cousins on a collateral line of that family who are still in England.  They would be another possible resource.

I am in touch with several Gauntt cousins.  I'm sure that at least one of them has a photo of Amelia, right?

Cornelius Sellers is a tough one.  He died young and his widow remarried.  Cornelius' only surviving child died young also (before his mother), but one son survived from the widow's second marriage.  Perhaps someone on that side of the family might have a photo of Cornelius.  Another possibility is through his Civil War service.

I doubt any photograpohs of Simcha and Baila Meckler ever existed.  The only person I know of to ask is my cousin in Israel.

Unfortunately, other than Cornelius, it is unlikely that these great-great-grandparents appear in any archival collections, but one should always check, just to make sure.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Emma Writes to Her Siblings



This is two sheets of paper each measuring 8 1/2" x 13", attached in the upper left by some sort of glue or paste.  They are cream in color.  The paper feels like 20# stock.  Each sheet has a watermark:  BERKSHIRE SOUVENIR BOND USA.

Everything on these pages is typed except the note "Retained" in the upper left.  I don't know if that refers to this typed copy being kept, but that's the only idea I can come up with.

While this letter purports to have been written by Emma (Schafer) La Forêt, as has happened often with documents I have posted, the writing style here seems to me very French, and I suspect the wording came from Jean La Forêt, even if Emma may have physically penned the original letter that was sent to her sisters and brother (which I don't have, unfortunately).  The word "informations" always makes me think of French.

The letter is pretty harsh in tenor.  The accusations of Emma's brother-in-law Charles Schaefer are direct and blunt, more so in some ways than in a previous document detailing his purchases and failings.  I am surprised, however, that Emma's sisters and brothers pretty much get a pass on culpability.  In particular, the characterization of Louisa as blameless and totally under the control of her husband seems odd to me in this context.

Blame notwithstanding, the primary purpose of this letter was to convince August, Alvina, and Louisa to cough up some of what they had gained from their mother — illicitly or otherwise — and share it with Emma.  I have felt sympathy for Emma's position in her family's machinations based on earlier documents, but this letter comes across to me more as whining than as a convincing indictment.  I think that's partly because of the melodramatic tone and partly the taunting withholding of information:  "occurrences in our family . . .  it will be better to keep away from public knowledge", "I know but will not speak of it until it becomes unnecessary."  Maybe the tone was the way average people expressed themselves in this period, but the taunting just hits me wrong.

From the first documents I posted about Emma and her life story, we've known that she and her husband did not pursue a court case against her siblings.  I suspect that's also coloring my opinion of this letter, which I realize isn't fair.  When the letter was written in 1920, Jean and Emma probably were still considering filing a lawsuit.  They must have believed this letter was the best approach.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Which Ancestor Moved the Furthest?

There's another genealogy meme with a lot of questions going around, but rather than use the whole thing, it looks as though Randy Seaver will be choosing one question at a time to post for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.  That's ok by me!  It will make the fun last even longer!

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you:

(1) The Family History Hound listed 20 Questions about Your Ancestor, and I'm going to use some of them in the next few months.

(2) Please answer the first question:  "Which ancestor moved the furthest from their home?"

(3) Write your own blog post, make a comment on this post, or post your answer on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a link to your answer in comments on this post.

My Ancestors

For my ancestors, I looked at the side of the family that came from Eastern Europe.  Since Google Maps has problems determining distance when you cross oceans, I used Distance Between Cities for my numbers.

• My ancestors who appear to have moved the furthest distance were my great-grandfather Joe Gordon (~1892–1955) and great-great-grandfather Victor Gordon (~1866–1925).  Although I have yet to verify the information, both are said to have been born in Kamenets Podolskiy, Russian Empire (now Kam'yanets'-Podil's'kyi, Ukraine).  Distance Between Cities gives a result of 4,602.20 miles between Kamenets Podolskiy and Brooklyn, New York, where both men immigrated.

• The next furthest distance for a move appears to be my great-grandparents Morris Meckler (~1882–1953) and Minnie (Nowicki) Meckler (~1880–1936), who immigrated from Kamenets Litovsk, Russian Empire (now Kamyanyets, Belarus) to Brooklyn.  Distance Between Cities shows that was 4,358.40 miles.

Collateral Relatives

If I look at the collateral lines in my tree, there is one clear winner.  Betty Ellett (1935–2006), the mother of a second cousin once removed, moved from Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia to Reno, Nevada, a leap of 9,340.41 miles.  Not quite as far as Linda Seaver's great-great-grandmother, but a pretty impressive distance all the same.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Elizabeth Curdt's "Obituary"


This is three newspaper clippings that have been glued together.  The first piece is at the top, with the name of the newspaper and the apparent date of the articles.  It is 3 1/8" x 3/4".  The second piece is the long, main piece of this amalgamation.  It is a short article about Elizabeth Curdt's death from burns suffered two days earlier and a second article (a short piece about "Pershing's Own Band" giving performances) that is partially obscured by the third clipping.  It is 2 1/8" x 7 1/8".  The third piece has been pasted in the middle of the long piece, just below the report of Elizabeth's death, and is a standard death and funeral notice.  It is 2 1/8" x 1 3/16".

In addition to the three pieces having been clipped from the newspaper and then taped together, the other modification that has occurred to the long piece is handwriting in blue pencil at the bottom reiterating the date and time of Elizabeth's death.  It is possible that the only reason the second article was kept with the one about Elizabeth's death was to be a platform for the death notice and note.

This came to me assembled already, so I can't confirm from my own knowledge that these all came from the same newspaper, but for the sake of analysis today I will work from that presumption.  The St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat reported on Sunday, April 27, 1919, in its morning edition on the death of Mrs. Elizabeth Curdt the previous Friday, April 25.  On the same day, the newspaper included a standard death notice and funeral notice, with the funeral scheduled to take place the next day, Monday, April 28.

The piece of information that immediately jumped out at me from this is that Alvina was at the house, apparently by her own admission, when her mother died, and just couldn't get to her in time.  If you believe the theory that Elizabeth was murdered is a viable one, then that definitely sounds suspicious and casts Alvina in a bad light.  In addition, Alvina seems to have been the child who inherited the largest amount directly after Elizabeth's death (her sister's husband having apparently obtained most of his money through purchases and sales of land prior to their mother's death).

On the other hand, the coroner's jury gave a verdict of accidental death.  I'll have to order that file, if it still exists, to see if testimony is included.  I wonder if anyone commented on Alvina's presence . . . .

The article about Elizabeth's death lists only her three children who had been residing in Missouri their entire lives.  The death notice added Emma, who had returned from Europe in 1917, less than two years previous to these events.  It's possible that the information for the two were given and/or compiled by different people.

The handwriting at the bottom looks like that of Jean La Forêt to me.  I can't think of a reason for him (or anyone, for that matter) to have copied the date and time.  Maybe his eyesight was starting to fail and he wanted to be able to read it more easily?