Of all the funeral cards, that circulate out there, I wonder how many ever find their way back to the families of origin. A simple funeral card is the summation of a life lived.
Enjoy the discovery process.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Frederick Ochs 1810 - 1886

One overlooked feature of Ancestry.com is Member Connect.  It is by far one of the greatest additions to their website.  If you haven’t explored this valuable research tool, I encourage you to do so.  When you locate your family member in the census be sure to check the right margin of the page to see if another family historian has added the individual you are investigating to their family tree.  Many genealogy treasures are to be found this way.
A great read would be Frederick Ochs' will.  If only I could find my way to Fairfield County, Ohio.  His funeral card on eBay by sellers “keithandmargie12” is just short of spectacular. The huge Victorian style card measures 13 ½ x 26 inches enough pressed paper stock to make twelve normal 4 x 6  funeral card size.  At one hundred and twenty-four years later, what does the card size alone say about those left to mourn his death and their attempts to reflect their love and respect for their father for future generations?  The salutation reads, “In fond remembrance of dear Father,” followed by Frederick Ochs died April 27, 1886; age 76 years, 24 days.
The Ochs, Hemphill, Spooner & Hoppock  Family Tree and The Gleich Family Tree had significant dates that somewhat correspond with Frederick Ochs funeral card.  Both of these family tree owners could benefit greatly from the record of his death.  The Ochs tree reflects his date of birth as 3 Apr 1811, the card calculates to 3 Apr 1810.  The Gleich Family Tree has his date of death as 27 Apr 1883; the card reveals 27 Apr 1886.  It is amazing that the card has been preserved possibly longer than his tombstone date carvings.
Wonder which progeny will claim their German ancestor’s of Pleasant, Fairfield, Ohio funeral card?
Update: Mr. Donald Leo Gleich passed away 18 Mar 2009.  He was the noted family historian in his family and was thoroughly enjoyed genealogy.  In his memory, from the Columbus Dispatch, 20 Mar 2009.
Donald Leo Gleich Sr., age 75, passed away Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Donald was employed for 28 years with Westinghouse and 15 years with Mid Ohio Electric. He was the Past President of Buckeye Quarter Midget Racing Association. In retirement he has enjoyed working on his family genealogy. Preceded in death by parents Clarence and Adele Gleich and great-granddaughter Isabella Kathleen Ann Daniel. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Lillian Gleich; sons, Donald L. (Sandra) Gleich Jr. and Norman Douglas (Gay Alene) Gleich Sr.; daughter, Tina M Gleich (Philip) Myers; step-children, Butch, Sandy, Tina, and Dottie; grandchildren, Patricia, Crystal, Douglas, Katie, and Stacey; five great-grandchildren; brother, Clarence (Norma) Gleich; and sisters, Carol Witt and Margorie (Gary) Sagsetter. The family will receive friends 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Friday, March 20 at Schoedinger Hilltop Chapel, 3030 W. Broad St., where funeral service will be held 10 a.m. Saturday, March 21. Pastor Wayne Beard officiating. Entombment Green Lawn Mausoleum.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Hanora Hogan Harrington Walcott

Monday, February 22, 2010

Della Edwards Dyche & her daughter Erma Dyche Kelly

The funeral card of Della Dyche is currently up for bidding on Ebay.  Every name a researcher discovers has its own path to a story.  Please allow me to share a few clues along the way.  A wise approach to locating a person that died before the year 1900, is to start with the known facts.  The adage, "Start with the known and move forward to the unknown," is applicable here.  What are the known facts that the funeral card provides?  The first clues were her name at the time of her death as Della Dyche and the date she died, November 19th, 1898.  Further examination of the funeral card yields valuable information, the poem and importantly from its memorial phrase we learn that she was a wife and mother at the time of her death :
Farewell, husband dear, farewell,
Adien, farwell to thee;
And you, my dear little babe,
Farwell, farwell to you.
Our mother is gone and we are left,
The loss of her to mourn,
But we hope to meet with her,
With Christ before God's throne.

The next clue available is the card is for sale by seller redfish22 of Magnolia, Montgomery, Texas.  At the turn of the century, Dyche is an uncommon name in Texas and the family tended to clustered in Denton County (north of Dallas). 
At Find-a-Grave, the tombstone of Della Dyche was located at the Bellew Cemetery in Denton County, Texas.  Her epitaph reads wife of W. E. Dyche. Next step in the 1900 Census, I traced two different William Dyche individuals but their criteria didn't match.  A second look at Denton County in the census, I was able to locate Edwin Dzche, residing as widowed son-in-law with the Noah Edward's family.  With the Edwards family also resides a granddaughter, Erma Dyche born August 1895.  To connect the Dyche and Edwards family, I looked for a family tree and found The Hyde Sides by Dan Hyde.  Although, later, I find discrepancies in his tree, Mr. Hyde is accurate about the Dyche/Edwards family connections.  From his information, we learn the complete name of our subject, Josephine Idella Delta Edwards, wife of William Edmund Dyche. By 1910, daughter Erma is residing with her uncle Henry Edwards and her father has remarried and moved to Dallam County in the Texas panhandle.
Erma Dyche married Carl Kelley sometime before 1920. Their only child is named Joseph Dyche Kelly.  Erma named her son after her parents, Josephine Della & William Dyche.  The next most sought after document for a genealogist is a death certificate and fortunately the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, Family Search Record Search had a free copy that had been indexed by volunteers.  On the death certificate, the informant is her son, Joe Kelly.  Most likely the card has been passed down through Joe Kelly's lineage .  And now, the funeral cards sits on an Ebayer's shelf pending to be sold.  Will it be rescued?
Update: Mr. Dan Hyde to the rescue--he is currently bidding on the funeral card.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Mom's Card

Rest in Peace. The Lord is my Shepherd. Thirty-nine years have passed since my mother took her last breath.  Although, many days separate me from that moment in time, it remains as vivid as the day of 1 December 1971.  At the age of eighteen and very much self-absorbed in my adolescent life, I said goodbye to my mother.  A most challenging time of my life.  A month prior to her death, stymied by the break up with my first true love, I had limped home from Colorado with a broken heart.  Mom's health was failing and I barely noticed. Thoughts that God was punishing me somehow were entertained.  Sounds a bit dramatic, but Mom always described me as emotional.  As I write this, I weep.
When in need, many loving women have assumed the role of adopted mother and filled those caverns and mountain tops, that only a mature woman can for a younger naive woman.  One in particular stands out, "Momma Sweet" aka Margaret Townsend Allen.  With words of encouragement, lots of laughter and by example she taught me about life's simplicity.  Therefore, I was not punished by the loss of my Mom, but blessed with two mothers in my lifetime.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Boswell Family - Revisited

Playing matchmaker of funeral card to family historian had a wonderful and unexpected outcome.  Just one week ago, through an Ancestry email message to Alicia J. Burrie, I wrote:  "I am a fellow genealogist and I happened upon the funeral cards of John Albert Boswell, Mary Rennett Boswell and Emma Boswell. They are currently being auctioned on Ebay.  If you are interested please let me know how it turns out...."
Of the five family tree submitters related to the Boswells contacted, only Alicia J. Burrie responded. Some panache and bravery is needed to reach out and respond to other family historians and non-related researchers.  A critical element in locating long lost documents, stories, photographs and other historical information can be accomplished by the extra effort to collaborate with others.
This morning, Alicia invited me to her family tree to see the photographs in place and in following correspondence, she unexpectedly details a pay-it-forward story that warmed my genealogist heart.
"...Finding and recovering documents and photographs of my ancestors is truly fascinating and fulfilling. When I can add a photo or record to one of my relatives in my family tree, I feel like I just found another piece of the puzzle to where I come from.
Holding that original photo or document is one of the most exciting rewards of my research.
I want to thank you for taking the time to contact me about my family funeral cards and photos on Ebay. They are on their way back to a family member who will cherish them as part of her family history. God Bless..."
Having met Alicia J. Burrie and learning of her generous spirit makes me grateful to be a part of the wonderful genealogy community.
*above photograph of Mary Renetta Webster Boswell*

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sam De Stefano

Into the world, an innocent baby was born 13 September 1909, named Sam De Stefano by his loving Italian parents, Samuele and Roslina De Stefano. A translation of the De Stefano surname means "son of Stephen, crowned or royal." The given name Samuel translate to "heard God; asked of God."
"Mad Sam" left the world known as a once feared Chicago mobster.  On 14 April 1973, at the hands of another, with two shotgun blasts, his life ended. He died violently, as he is noted to have lived and delivered.  After the neighbor discovered his body on the garage floor, he lay in a pool of his own blood exposed to onlookers for hours.  His death was rumored to have been an inside hit and that very few people were reported to have acknowledged his last funeral rites.
With all celebrities, the first place to begin research is the archived newspapers. NewspaperARCHIVE and Chicago Tribune Archives provided great resources for locating historical events surrounding the boisterous, bullhorn toting De Stefano. 
In the Ancestry.com 1910 United States Census, index as Samuel Desteffine, age 7 months. With him are his parents and siblings-- Angelina, James, Mike.  Most likely to an error in indexing and misspelling of the surname, the family was not easily traced in 1920.  However, by the 1930 census, Sam De Stefano appears on line 90, age 21 residing at the Illinois State Penitentiary in Joliet, Illinois. Released and by the age of 24, Sam De Stefano was arrested for a New Lisbon, Wisconsin bank robbery. After he was sentenced 15 to 40 years, The Wisconsin State Journal of October 1, 1933 reports, "He left the courtroom in a rage, shouting, I have seen better jails than Wisconsin ever saw." By 1941, the Journal reports Mr. De Stefano to be "rehabiltated and reformed" and he is released from the Waupan Penitentiary. Rehabilitated, he was not.  In the span from 1941 until his death, he revisits the prison system several more times for numerous reasons, some of which include sugar ration forgery, voting fraudulently, death threats and loan sharking.  For those, that crossed Sam De Stefano, the penalty could easily result in severe torture or death.  The most heinous, the death of a 5 year-old, Bernhard McCluskie, Jr., who died in a West Tavern and apartment fire.
Mr. De Stefano tombstone and brief bio appear on Find-A-Grave.  However, the feature – a place to pay last respects – by leaving a message and flowers has been disabled due to misuse.  In this forum, it is not my place to level judgment but to share a few historical tidbits that have been tucked away.
At last look on Ebay, his funeral card was a whooping $55.00 ten times the average value. Who would have thought there was a market demand for Mafia related funeral memorabilia?  I wonder who purchased this card and why?  My thoughts turned to what kind of flowers would I choose and what message I would write?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mrs. J. Van Artsdalen

Ever gone fishing and the fish were not biting?  So, you think it is the worm and change for another from the worm box.  Well, that is somewhat the feeling I had when I began this search.  Anything, I write about Mrs. J. Vanartsdalen today is at the formative stage of research and is not solid.  Often times, genealogists rely on a hunch and move in that direction.
In this particular instance, I suspect that the initial "J" may be the woman's given name.  Even as I write this I am not completely comfortable with the above statement.
Ebay seller, bagatelles, describes the funeral card as, "Vintage Memorial Card (1890) – Mrs.Vanartsdalen, Philadelphia." Further, the seller continues with identifying the publishing company – Memorial Card Company, Philadelphia, PA.  This seller is from Monmouth County, New Jersey across the state line nearby is Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Of Dutch origin, Vanartsdalen is unusual with less than ten messages on the Surname Message Board.  A contribution made by Donna Bluemink to USGenWeb Archives of The History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Chapter XIII, by W. W. Davis states: "The Vanartsdalens of Southampton and Northampton are descended from Simon, son of Jan Von Arsdalen, from Ars Dale, in Holland, who immigrated to America in 1653, and settled at Flatbush, Long Island."  Family migration followed to Pennsylvania.  In Chapter XXI, Mr. Davis knew the Vanartsdalen family personally and wrote, "the Vanartsdalens . . .numerous fifty years ago, but few are left in the male line."
From this lineage, Theodore M. Vanartsdalen emerges.  I propose his wife M. Jennie (maiden name unknown) as the best candidate for the funeral card.  Bear in mind, the search was based on the correct spelling of the surname, 1880 Census result.
No fish for supper this evening.  Tonight, I will ponder on tomorrow's story. . .the Chicago Mafia member's funeral card.

Mrs. William L. Hinds

Although, a bit more costly than other funeral cards, Mrs. William L. Hinds funeral card appears to be in good shape for 108 plus document years.  Ebay seller 82bid hails from Hinsdale, New Hampshire.  Today, the funeral card is approximately 200 miles from known location of decedent.
Once again, we revisit the formal addressing of a married woman.  From Mrs. William L. Hinds funeral card, we learn that she was born 1 June 1816 and died 28 Dec 1901.
Straight away, the search on Ancestry.com 1900 United States Census was a positive hit for William Learned Hinds and his wife, Sarah Pratt Rixford at Highgate, Vermont.
By the use of Google, ("Sarah Pratt Rixford") name within quotes, the most detailed description of the lives of Mr. and Mrs. William L. Hinds was located.  In the second volume of New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, Sarah Pratt Rixford date of birth is shown as 1 June 1816.  Her death date states 1900 rather than 1901.  A discrepancy, I am willing to accept as a genealogy researcher.
Before the year 1900, Sarah P. Hinds had given birth to nine children of which only three remained living at the time of the census.  Descendants of daughter, Ida Kathleen Hinds, and sons, William Eugene and Oscar Luther Hinds may find this funeral card of interest.  In 1894, son, Oscar L. Hinds, becomes the Franklin county state senator of Vermont.
From the Public Member Trees index, there once appeared a family tree titled, Early American Families 1 15 10.  The family tree has either been removed or restricted access established by the tree submitter.  Rootsweb, 12000+ Descendants of Immigrant James Hinds family tree entry 702 provided a record of the Hinds, however the submitter of the tree is no longer maintaining the family tree.
Hopefully, someday this funeral card will find its way back the descendants of William and Sarah (Rixford) Hinds.
How much would a funeral card of this caliber be worth to your collection of family history?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Boswell Family

Ever wonder how a funeral card ends up miles away from the place of burial? The Boswell funeral cards are a case in point.  The Ebay seller pm6694 is located at Redlands, California and has acquired 5 documents from a recent estate sale. Also, the set of cards are being sold along with a photograph of the Drum graves and a photograph of youngsters, May and Andy Carter.

Briefly, I will explain the research techniques used in this funeral card quest. First clue, I assumed--three cards--same surname equals the possibility that John A. Boswell, Mary R. Boswell and Emma Boswell may be related to each other.  All three deaths occurred before 1910, therefore, the 1900 United State Census search is a good place to begin.  For some reason, I chose Emma Boswell's funeral card information for the search criteria with Ancestry.com search engine.  Known facts from the funeral card included her name and age.  With the genealogy software date calculator, I was able to determine that Emma was born 18 July 1873 (entered 1873 +/- 1 year).  Scrolling down the list, the 14th hit, shows an Emma Boswell with family members, John A. and Mary R. Boswell of Linn, Washington, Kansas. Hmm, I think I will take a closer look at this family.  Bingo, ages of parents agree with their funeral cards. Additional documentation, to support that I am on the right trail, is needed. On to my next favorite research site, Find-a-grave.  Search query centers on Washington County, Kansas.  Amazingly, buried there is John A. Boswell and Emma Boswell

Five family trees were connected to Emma Boswell in the 1900 census.  Alicia Burrie, creator of Burrie/Redman Family Tree sent the following email. "How thoughtful! Thank you so much. I have purchased many of my family photos and possessions on Ebay!  I will check it out. Thanks again for your help." 

We do live in a mobile society.  Still remains the question whether the cards were saved by friends or family that moved to California.

G. B. Frazier - A Family Mystery

The day that I discovered this funeral card tucked away in my Aunt Oletha's dresser drawer is still very fresh in my mind.  The early 1990s scanned image does not do the card visual justice.  In spite of weathering West Texas dust, the card has a beautiful black matte background with glittering gold lettering. More importantly, it is the only documentation of the death of my great-grandfather, George Bright Frazier. There are tidbits of his life that have been storied down to the family. Some of which I will share. Beginning with his death working backwards. G. B. Frazier was a local brick mason in the Comanche, Hamilton counties of Texas. At age 65, he and Mr. Little were atop a three-story scaffold braced at the bottom of a gully behind the local school in Gustine, Texas. During the remodel process to remove the second floor of the school, the scaffolding gave way. Both men plummeted to the gully below.  Severely injured, G.B. survived the fall and was carried home and laid to rest on the sofa where he died later that evening. His obituary found in Hamilton County did not list his name correctly but the facts clearly point to G.B. Frazier. In the Hamilton Herald and Record, published September 23, 1921 it reads: "W.S. Frazier of Gustine died on Monday night at his home in that city, his death being caused by falling from the Gustine school building Monday afternoon while building some flues. Mr. Frazier was well known here, having lived here for a number of years. He was a stone mason and assisted in erecting a number of stone business houses here. Mr. Frazier had many friends who will regret to learn of his untimely death." 
After many years into genealogy studies, I finally happened upon his original marriage certificate in Lampasas County, Texas.  Once again, I had to accept a misspelling of his name in the record index.  Even though the document is clearly George B. Frazier and Sarah F. Hill.  They were married in Bell County, however the marriage license remained unclaimed at the Lamapasa Courthouse until 2008.   
Each document brings our family a step closer to understanding the lad that left Kentucky under mysterious circumstances at age 16, Texas bound.  Some say, he was running from the law because he had murdered someone.  The stories differ as to the victim of the crime, some say he murdered his teacher, another version is he murdered his brother by accident.  Nevertheless, the link to his past, his parents remains elusive.

Wolfgang Fechter

Ebay seller, 4lilkitties, of Iron River, MI, provides the following information about the card, "Wolfgang Fechter, born 28 August 1831, died 11 June 1908 -- The card is written all in German text."
At first genealogy jump, I have located his place of residence, occupation, year of immigration to the United States and three family members.  As an experiment for the five followers of the Funeral Cards blog, let's open up the comments and see what you are able to locate about Mr. Fechter.  The key is to provide where you found your information about Mr. Fechter.  Enjoy.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

K. Gardner

K. Gardner's card actually is an advertisement card, nevertheless a card worthy of a bit of investigating.   From the business card that accompanies the ad card, it is known that K. Gardner is an embalmer from Tennessee.  On Ebay, February 2010, the card was listed by seller, Woodenpeglet.
Initials on documents can be brick wall in the making.  However, initial K. with surname Gardner seemed plausible to solution.
At Ancestry.com, the 1944 Nashville, TN, city directory, Kossie Gardner wife Eleanor funeral director 1511 Jefferson.  This portion matches the street address on the business card.  The city directory provided new information with the home address of Mr. and Mrs. Gardner 2707 Hefferman, Nashville, TN.
Delving a bit more into Kossie Gardner's online records, on his World War I draft registration, he states he was born May 24, 1897 in Tennessee.   On June 5, 1918, when he completed his draft registration, he resided in Pulaski County, Tennessee with his first wife, Mrs. Ever Gene Gardner.
The Tennessee marriage records his marriage to Ellen McWorter 23 Oct 1930 in Hickman County, Tennessee.
Interestingly, Kossie Gardner, Sr. may have had a son named Kossie Gardner, Jr.  Kossie Jr. was a Nashville-based organist who recorded a couple of LPs in the late 1960’s as well as doing session work. His cover of Jimi Hendrix’s "Fire" hails from his 1969 "Pipes of Blue" LP, which became a huge hit.
I'm curious to learn if the Gardner family has several of these advertising cards still in their possession.

Mrs. P. L. Varner

At first glance, this funeral card seemed a challenge. First because she is identified as a "Mrs." Early on, in my genealogy studies, I recall Mrs. Johnson, Family History librarian, "Dee, if you are looking for a woman, find the men that surround her." Many times since her sage advise, I have returned to her words of wisdom.
Mrs. P. L. Varner, born 30 Aug 1872 and died 17 Nov 1903. Places of birth and death were not listed.
The card appears on Ebay, February 2010, with seller, Vel's Collectibles. Item location is shown as Apache Junction, Arizona. Further review of Vel's Collectibles, Vel states she owns Dotterer's Antique & Gifts in Cherokee, Oklahoma.
With possible place information, I turned to the 1900 United States Census, Arizona Territory (no results) then Oklahoma and found Lincoln Perry Varner, single. Continuing with researching Mr. Varner, discovered that his name was actually Perry Lincoln Varner. By the 1910 United States Census, he is shown as a widower. On Ancestry.com, in the Public Member Family Tree section, I found four family trees listing Perry Lincoln Varner. Of three contacts made, one response came from Suzanne Burns. She indicated that Perry Lincoln Varner married Mada Pemberton, 12 Sep 1900 in Kay County, Oklahoma.
Mystery solved. Mrs. P. L. Varner, the former Mada Pemberton.

Funeral Cards

Of all the homeless funeral cards, that circulate out there, I wonder how many ever find their way back to the families of origin. As an avid genealogist, historical memorabilia has always fascinated me. My goal is from time to time, to research a discovered funeral card and learn more about the individual. In the end, a simple funeral card is the summation of a life lived.