Friday, August 31, 2007

How to live on just Social Security ?

Answer: You can't. However, on the western border of Potter Co, PA, lies Sizerville State Park. I pulled in and looked around. Absolutely God's country. Unfortunately though, my pop-up camper is still in need of repair and I left it at home on this trip. The cost of a campsite is $13 per night for seniors >65. Let's do some math. The cost per month would be abt $390, or $1200 per quarter year. The property taxes on my house alone in NC will be about the same, $1200. It makes me wonder.

Another genealogical puzzler

At the end of May this year, I entered into my blog that I found the obituary of Leah Lewis, the former wife of Julius Streich (Strike), the run-a-way and elusive brother of my grandfather, Otto Strike. Leah's obit stated she died in 1929, at Austin, Potter Co, PA, but was buried about 17 miles further southwest in Emporium, Cameron Co. Also, she was survived by her husband, Delbert Lininger. Here, in Newton Cemetery in Emporium, I located the tombstone of Leah, Delbert Lininger, AND his first wife, Carrie, and their daughter, Clara. Unfortunately, there are NO DATES on the stone. I know approximate birth dates from censuses, and I know Leah died 2 Feb 1929, at age 43 yrs, according to her obit. To further compound the mystery, I heard from a still-living granddaughter of Delbert's that daughter, Clara, never married and reportedly commited suicide. Another story is that she was murdered by a member of the family's in-laws. Incidentally, the granddaughter could not recall any of the death dates of persons on this stone.

Emporium Cameron Co PA

Well, what do think- the ultimate Lovers Lane?

Actually, the area does have its high moments. For another view go here.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cabin Kitchen Emporium Cameron Co PA

Having coupla eggs and home fries while wild animals look down on my plate. Wish I could show you what's on the other walls. Maybe I will on another day. Tables are covered with plate glass and littered under the glass are all sorts of vintage ephemera: a 5 cent coupon good for one shoe shine at City Shoe Store; pix of American soldier sitting on propellar engine, rifle in hand with penned caption, "June 1944 Saipan" and another of boat plane, "Huangpu River" Nov 1945"; newspaper clipping announcing one billionth vacuum radio tube made at Emporium's Sylvania plant. One could read right through breakfast & dinner here. I'm in town to take pix of tombstones for Delbert Lininger and his family at Newton Cemetery. Incidentally, this region hosts probably the only free roaming herds of wild elk east of the Mississippi. Yea, there's an elk head mounted on the wall too.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hohnke Memorials Part 2

I was surprised to see this fairly recent addition at the foot of the TURNQUEIST monument at Allport Cemetery, Clearfield Co, PA. It was NOT there several years ago. The smaller monument was inscribed Justin, 1859-1906, Lars, 1859-1921, and Bertha, 1869-1946. Justin was Lars' first wife, and Bertha was his second. Bertha was the daughter of Julius HOHNKE and Matilda SUNBERG. Under Bertha's name "Cenotaph" is inscribed. Ceno, from the Greek "keno" means empty. Thus, a cenotaph is a sepulcral monument erected in memory of a deceased person who is buried elswhere, or whose remaines can not be recovered, esp. memorials of soldiers killed elswhere. In northern England I saw cenotaphs memorializing miners killed in explosions. But in this case, I know that Bertha was buried 3 miles further south on Rte 53 at St. Agnes Cemetery, Morrisdale, beside her first husband, George HAAS. The real question however is which still-living relative erected this monument? And can they tell me more of the family's history??

Hohnke Families at Allport & St. Agnes Cemeteries PART 1

I printed out 3-generation descendant charts for three of the children of Fredrich Hohnke and Augusta (maiden surname unknown), who were: Julius, Henrietta, and Wilhelmina. The middle child, Henrietta HOHNKE, married Karl STREICH, and they had at least four children: Amelia, Otto, Julius, and Martha. I brought the charts to the Stempfly Reunion last weekend, but decided it was a little too much- too overwhelming to exhibit at our encampment at the Centre Co (PA) Grange Fair. Instead, I showed a photo album of the descendants of just Joseph Stempfly and Amelia Streich. Yesterday, as I passed Allport Cemetery in Clearfield Co, PA, I decided to take this picture of all the charts leaning against the impressive monument for Julius Hohnke and Matilda "Tillie" (Sunburg). Maybe just to honor them with their many decendants. Julius Hohnke was the oldest child of the progenitors Fredrich and August. Two daughters of Julius and Matilda are memorialized in the shadow of the Hohnke tombstone: Bertha, who married HAAS, and secondly to TURNQUEIST; and Alberta, who married LORENZEN.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Red Moshannon Creek at Peale Clearfield Co PA

Now Daddy won't you take me down Moshannon Valley/ Down by the Red River where paradise lay/ Well I'm sorry my son but you're too late in asking/ the Beech Creek Railroad has hauled it away ....(end). I substituted the words to a popular song sung by John Prine regarding Muhlenberg Co, West Virginia, so that it fits into my own family history and ancestral homelands. The Red Moshannon forms part of the boundry between Clearfield and Centre counties. its waters are tainted by the iron ore from surrounding mountains. And the abondoned Beech Creek Railway hauled tons of bituminous (soft) coal to Steamships waiting to refuel at New York port in the 1880s. And the ships brought thousands of immigrants to this region to mine for more coal until the land was "forsaken". But as you can see Mother nature always has the last word. Take me back again.

Monday, August 27, 2007

John Hartley Line, Philipsburg Cem, Centre Co, PA

There was surely a genealogist in the family when this tombstone was inscribed. Look, full dates and even a maiden surname: Ann WILSON. I've surmised for some time that John HARTLEY was related to my 2X great grandfather, William HARTLEY, who was buried at nearby Brisbin Cem, and who does NOT have a tombstone. So, as I started to follow the individuals back in time thru the British censuses (thanks to, I discovered that William was born in 1823 in a small (~140 persons), rural village called Summerhouse, in Gainford Parish, County Durham, ENG. Then, in the 1841 and 1851 censuses, both William and John could be placed into the family of a William Hartley and Ann; indeed, VERY common names. But fortunately, Ann's mother, Elizabeth Langstaff, was also enumerated in the household. So, my pedigree jumped back another generation for the Hartley Line. Now, I can document that my 3X great grandparents were William Hartley, the Elder, and Ann LANGSTAFF. And of course, 2 of their 11 children were the confirmed brothers William and John Hartley, who immigrated to Houtzdale, Clearfield Co (William) or Philipsburg, Centre Co (John W.), PA. The challenge now is to learn the fate of the other nine children.

For a neat trip, go to Google Maps, satellite view, and zero in on England> County Durham in the north> and finally, Summerhouse. One can see the rural nature of the village, the old post office, and the old Methodist Chapel. See if this link will take you to Summerhouse hybid map at Google.

Or go to "Keys to the Past" which displays vintage and modern maps of Summerhouse, Gainford Parish, County Durham, England

The Last Building in Peale Ghost Town Gone

This is the site of the former Company Store of Clearfield Bituminous Coal Co in ghost town of Peale, Clearfield Co., PA. The town was dismantled in early 1900s after coal mines were depleted; and houses re-located. However, the old company store survived for decades as a hunting camp until it was burned down a year ago. Finally, Peale, the birth place of my Dad's adopted mother (and aunt), Martha Streich, who married Robert William Kramp, is no longer in the picture. However, it survives in our written history and the note you are now reading.

Attended Stempfly clan Reunion in Centre Hall, of same Co. PA. Pix is James "Jamie" Bigelow, grandson of Betty (Stempfly) Bigelow and son of Patricia Bigelow. His mom married four times and had total of nine children. Genealogists can only get that sort of complex information in person. I'm in PA for Family History gathering trip. So, let's get-r done.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Freedom Writers

Image: Nineteenth century journal of my great grandfather, Thomas W. Russell

I like a book or movie which puts into words and pictures something that I have difficulty expressing myself. And that is why I really enjoyed the recent video, "The Freedom Writers". An idealistic, young teacher, who grew up in a gated communty, puts on her pearl necklace and begins her first day trying to teach an ethnically diverse class of students in Los Angeles. A black kid comes into the classroom dribbling a basketball and boisterously takes a seat. The troubles start from here and proceed to the students expressing their anger and disrespect for the white teacher who could not possibly relate to their life in the hood- particularly during the racial tensions which followed the beating of Rodney King. But the teacher, who is Erin Gruel in real life, pulls her energy and enthusiasm together to get the students to write out their anger and frustration in diaries. She purchases the blank notebooks out of her own pocket. Eventually, she takes on a second job to pay for field trips and noncurriculum books, like "The Diary of Anne Frank. The roudy students, who have intolerance problems of their own, had never heard of the Holocaust. The video also presents a second, ancillary story. The teacher strives and succeeds but she has little time and energy to give to her marriage. In a tearful confrontation with her husband, she says "I really liked the idea [of marriage]". The marriage fails. Which begs the question: Can one have both a busy, successful career and a good marriage. That would be a another story. Incidentally, I was married to a teacher and was also a teacher myself for a few years.

At the end of the movie the vastly changed and inspired students not only want to stay in school and graduate, but they publish their diaries as a class project- and the Freedom Writers Project begins and continues to this day.

However, this is the passage that really spoke to me: "[Our teacher] told us we had something to say to people. We weren't just kids in a class anymore. We were writers with our own voices, our own stories; and even if nobody else read it, the book would be something to leave behind us that says we were here. THIS is what happened. WE mattered even if was just to each other. And we won't forget."

Often, I feel very lonely and ineffective and just throwing words into the air when I write about our family history. Afterall, I am trying to interest somebody, anybody, my own family, in knowing a little about our family history. How we came to be here in America. The fact that I find our history interesting does not mean that others will. Genealogy, especially, is not everybody's bag, as I've been told in no uncertain terms- by my own relatives, distant though they were. But this is not just dates and names or who descended from who, it's about real lives of real people.

My great grandfather, Thomas W. Russell, born in the coal mining fields of Scotland, was so grateful that he could purchase a book of blank pages to write a few sentences sporadically over a 5 year period, but he brought the journal to America and kept it for another 40 years until his death. He wrote about the deaths of his two first-born daughers, probably of typhoid (meaning unsanitary living conditions):

"... we ware idel [out of work] 8 months and that was a sorryful year to me. We lost our daughter Jane Ann. Bliss hir. She was a fine daughter to us and loving one but we hope to met hir again, God bing willing."

He wrote about the News items of the day which interested him- collapse of the Tay bridge in Scotland; a suicide in the coal fields; Giant Trees in America:

"... The largest tree in the world there is at present on exhibition in New York a section of tree which has been brought form California. ..."

Did Thomas immigrate to America just so he could see such giant trees? I doubt if he saw them, but he did see similar wild forests when he first settled in Pennsylvania.

More on Thomas W. Russell's journal.

So, as the Freedom Writers finally realized, my great grandfather had something to say. I have something to say. You have something to say. And we will write it down because we are (were) here ... and this is how it happened.