Friday, November 30, 2012

A MYSTERY POSTCARD - Grandpop Kuhn, 1913

Looking through my various photos and copies of documents from my cousins as well as my grandmother's box of saved items, I came across this postcard of my maternal grandfather, Charles Edward KUHN, to share today.

Here's the postcard front, of my grandfather, with something cylindrical in his right hand.  It reminds me of a small recorder for some reason, but I simply can't see it clearly.  Perhaps it's a cigar!  Any other ideas, readers?

He's rather well-dressed with vest and tie, long winter coat, with his hat perched on the head of the horse he's apparently riding.

But you can see that it's all a prop, can't you!  Very amusing photo!

And here's the back side of the postcard:  post office marked as November 2nd, 1913.  The stamp is quite clear and is a 1-cent stamp!  It is addressed to my grandmother, Marguerite, at home in Vancouver:
Mrs. Chas. E. Kuhn, 
106 Sylvia Court,
Gilford St.,  [sic: Guilford]
Vancouver, B.C.

Memphis, Tenn.  11/1/13.
11 30 P.M.
Will be thinking of you and Dinky Babs and Madre at 7 A.M. --- hard
How do you like the "eye-protection"?    (black ink splotch)
                              (signed)  Boy.
= = = =  = = = = = =

I enjoy the humour in his signature "Boy" ... clearly they had pet names for each other.

"Dinky Babs" is their 2nd child, Barbara, who was born in July 1912, so she would be about 15 months old at this time.  Their first child, also a daughter, was "Betty" who died in 1911 after about 9 months.  See the post I wrote about her here.

"Madre" is the formal version of a nickname for my greatgrandmother, Clara Augusta "Gussie" Graves, Marguerite's mother.  As he is mentioning her in this postcard, likely Maudee (which is what we kids called her) is visiting in Vancouver at this time.  Maudee lived with her husband, "Grove" James Grover Terwilliger,  in either New York or New Jersey for most of her life.

You can't help but notice all the nicknames for individuals in this family.  It's a "very" family - creative, intelligent, attractive, dramatic, passionate, controlling, and more!

I have absolutely no idea why Grandpop is down in Tennessee.  I have a vague idea he was doing something  for the military... but he didn't get drafted, so this must be something else.  Although a US-born citizen, born in Pennsylvania, he and Marguerite (known as "Daisy" among other nicknames she had) spent most of their married life in Vancouver, BC, Canada where 5 of their children were born.

If anyone has any ideas about what kind of military work might necessitate Grandpop being in Memphis Tennessee in November 1913, I'd love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

GRANDPARENTS - Saturday Night Fun

Randy Seaver has set us another Saturday Night Fun task!

The task tonight is to write 100 words - no more and no less - about how important grandparents are.  So, as the only 'genealogist' in the family, here I go with my brief on my grandparents.

Grandparents are important because they hold history in their minds, their boxes, their closets, their drawers, their albums.

They had stories they told us, or embellished somewhat out of alignment with truth (in my family!), to teach about important values.

They knew songs I never learned, places I never saw, had jobs I barely understand.

Both sets of my grandparents were raised in different countries and then picked up and moved across the sea, or across the continent.  Their children met here and began new families, with new histories.

Grandparents helped me see a larger picture of who I am.


There it is, Randy - exactly 100 words, according to my Word document word counter! 

On the left is Grandma & Grandpa Gillespie (father's parents), I'm sitting on Grandma's lap; picture taken early in 1946.   Grandma came from Netherton, Worcester, England; Grandpa was born in Augher, Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and when he was about 4 years old the 3-generation family moved to Barrow in Furness, Lancashire, England.  Grandma's family moved up to Barrow by 1882.  Grandma & Grandpa and 5 children moved to Vancouver BC by 1914.

The two individual photos above are my mother's parents, Grandpeter and Grandpop Kuhn.  Grandpeter was born in Syracuse, Onondaga, New York; Grandpop was born in Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania and moved to New York, met and married Grandpeter and came to Vancouver BC in early 1912, where they had 5 children.  

And here I am, a Grandmother to my 6 grandchildren... and because I don't like 'grandmother' words, I'm known as "Winky" or "Grandma Winky" to my grandkids - which is a long story of its own.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

CLUES GALORE! Greatgrandmother's 1858 Birth Record

I love receiving snail-mail.  The clunk of the letterbox outside the front door as the mailman drops in something unknown and flops the metal flap back over it.  The feel of envelopes, the stamps, the possibilities.

Several years ago, I received a large brown envelope from Dudley, County of Worcester, with FIVE certificates, 3 labelled "Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth", 2 labelled "Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage".  What wonderful mail indeed!  However, I was retiring at the time, going into hospital for surgery, and didn't really look at them beyond confirming the contents of that big brown envelope.  Today as I wondered what next to work on in my family tree, I finally scanned each of those five documents.  And in scanning, I looked in detail at the records. They now are all scanned, labelled, and filed appropriately.  My desk is almost totally clear of genealogy paperwork right now! Amazing.

Here is a copy of my paternal line Greatgrandmother's birth record, with an interesting information about her parents and her life.  (I made it X-large so that you could read more details.)  

When I teach Introduction to Genealogy classes for beginners, I always tease people by saying "There are at least 19 clues or questions to ask, on every document you find!"... because I've found that beginners only see two or three, and think they're done looking:   "Yes, there's the parents and birthdate. Done."  I still have much research to do with these certificates in hand.

This document is very easy to read, with careful calligraphic writing.  We have her address (born at home) as  Northfield Road, Netherton, Dudley, in the County of Worcester.  I had to look up more about the relationship of Netherton and Dudley to understand why there are two towns listed as if they were separate ones, in Worcestershire.  More to learn.  The number in the first column "448"  is the number of the registration, not the house number, by the way.

There is her father's name Thomas Whitehouse.  I do wish he had a more interesting name, like Linus or Beauregard, or something quite out of the ordinary.  But my ancestor men were good solid folk with plain names: Thomas, George, William, John, James, Henry.

But then there is her mother's name, written as:  Sarah Whitehouse late Shutt, formerly Price.   Here we see that Sarah's maiden name is Price.  And she was previously married, to a gentleman surname of Shutt.  I have a few clues to indicate his name was Thomas Shutt, and they were married only 1-2 years at most.  However, I haven't been able to confirm this yet - another marriage certificate, his death record, and a little more research still to do.

We have the father's occupation:  "Laborer at an Ironwork".  There is a reason this area was once termed the Black Midlands, due to the smoke/soot in the air which landed on the ground, trees, houses, people and - I am sure - on the laundry put outside to dry.  I'm trying to think how anyone kept clean when they worked such difficult dirty jobs as iron works jobs, or coal mining, and such.  I have to see which ironworks are close by to where they lived... which is quite an assumption, of course.  Still, perhaps I'll find something quite specific about an Ironworks foundry near Netherton, or near Northfield Road.

Were you able to read the Registration date?  and the informant?

Sarah made her mark X  The Mark of Sarah Whitehouse  Mother, Northfield road, Netherton/Dudley,  on the Fifteenth December 1858.  This date is about 5 weeks after the birth of their daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Whitehouse.  And I'm making an assumption that my greatgrandmother went to the office to register the birth herself, as her husband, Thomas, had to work.

Bundle up the baby plus her 5 year old stepdaughter against the December cold and wet, and walk to the office where the birth needed to be registered.   Then back they would have to go home again.  I would like to find out where the Dudley Registration office would have been at the time, and how she might have gotten there.  Surely someone would have given her a lift... was there a railroad? a cart?  I'm abysmally ignorant about transportation options in the 1850s in England villages!  I also wonder if it mattered to her that she was not able to write her name on the birth registration form at the office.  I know so little about her.

I went back to look again at the 1856 marriage record for Thomas Whitehouse and Sarah Shutt, finding her father's name as John Price, Miner.  There were extensive coal mines in and around this area, so that is likely what he did.  Thomas' father was noted as Joseph Whitehouse (Dead), occupation, Nailer. Netherton was known as THE place for nailmaking, from the 1600s onwards into the early-mid 1800s.  Also on the marriage record, Thomas is listed as a Widower, occupation "Furnace Man".  I have begun to search for his first wife, whom I believe was also named Sarah, 5 years younger than him.

I find the records of a Thomas marrying a Sarah, and a Sarah marrying a Thomas for both first and second marriages an interesting symmetry.  Perhaps not so unusual, as those were quite common names in this time.

I have a few photos of my greatgrandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Whitehouse... she married a George Bunn.  There are so many Bunn and Whitehouse families in Netherton that if you had a stone for each one, you could build a home with them!  Several of the Bunn and Whitehouse individuals in my tree were born in Windmill End and in Darby Hand (Darby End), both tiny neighbourhoods near to Netherton.

Any and all Bunn/Whitehouse relatives - please get in touch and I'm happy to email you the copy of any of the Bunn and Whitehouse certificates I have received to date.  And if you have additional details I'd be thrilled to receive them!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Ohhhh, Randy Seaver, - you do love to give us reasons to go digging into our ancestors' lives!!

Here's Randy's "rules"":
1) What year was one of your great-grandmothers born?  Divide this number by 90 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."
2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ancestral name list (some people call it an "ahnentafel" - your software will create this - use the "Ahnentafel List" option, or similar). Who is that person, and what are his/her vital information?
3) Tell us three facts about that person in your ancestral name list with the "roulette number."
4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook status or a Google Stream post, or as a comment on this blog post.

1. My greatgrandmother, Amelia Ann "Millie" PETTYGROVE was born in Oregon Territories in 1844, giving me a number of "20" for my Ahnentafel list of ancestors.  I'd love to write more about her - but another time, perhaps.

2. #20 on my Ahnentafel list - thank you RootsMagic5  for making this so easy - was Sarah SMITH France BUNN.  That is, her maiden surname was SMITH, she 1st married a France, then married 2nd to a BUNN.
Her Vital information:
Born:  25 Nov 1820, Netherton, Worcestershire, England; to parents Thomas SMITH and Elizabeth (unknown).  Thomas SMITH was listed as a coal miner, deceased, on her marriage registration with William
Married:  1st:  Thomas France, 4th Quarter 1837, Dudley, Worcestershire, England; Thomas died about Dec 1851; the couple had 7 children.      2nd marriage:  20 Nov 1854, Dudley, Worcestershire, England, to William BUNN (his 2nd marriage as well - 1st wife died within one year of marriage): 1 child, a boy (my greatgrandfather).
Died:  after 1891, in Barrow in Furness, Lancashire, England (still to determine final death date, burial).

3.  Three facts about Sarah:
*  Sarah was born in Windmill End/Netherton, Worcestershire, England; no other siblings are known to date
*  Sarah's eldest daughter, Elizabeth France (b. 1839) had an illegitimate son, Thomas France, b. 1859, who was raised by Sarah and her 2nd husband William alongside their only Bunn child, George BUNN, b. 1857.  (George's grandchildren mistakenly thought he had been adopted by the France/Franz family, and wrote it up as facts about George Bunn and his unknown ancestors!)
* Sarah apparently moved up to Barrow in Furness around 1891 or so, to live with her son George BUNN and his family; her grandson and his family, Thomas France, also had moved up to Barrow.

I have so much still to find out about Sarah.

When did she move up to Barrow?  With, or without her husband William?  Did she live with her grandson's or her son's family?   Her son George BUNN came to Canada with my grandfather in June 1911, but became sick and returned to Barrow, dying a few years later.      How did she know William BUNN? - he was several years younger than her, had no children, and when he married her, she had 7!  A very challenging family to take on, I must say.

Life must have been very hard for her - and I haven't been able to find any relatives in my searches, who might have supported her.  Thomas, like her father, was a coal miner, and likely died from a coal mining accident of which there were several around the time that Thomas died in 1851.

Thanks Randy - once again, I find myself with more questions - or was that your intention!?


Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis