Tuesday, September 11, 2018

School Days

Bluffdale School was built for grades 1-12 in the late 1800's
The 2018-2019 school year has been in session, in some places, for almost a month. For most of us, school was a memorable time in our lives, so it's not surprising that so many school memories are preserved in photographs. This blog edition is in honor of the new school year, and of my grandmother, Bertie Elnora Armstrong who taught elementary school at the Bluffdale School in Roseville from 1894 (when she was just 18 years old) until her marriage to Edward Milton McLean in 1908. By all accounts, she was a much-loved teacher. I remember Sunday afternoon visits with my grandparents frequently included a visit from an adult who had been taught by Grandma. When she died at the age of 95, several former students attended her funeral, and shared fond memories of her with the family.

I'm sorry that I can't identify any of the children in the photos, but if you had family member who taught at Roseville's Bluffdale School, or who attended elementary school there between 1894-1907, they might be in one of these photos.

Bluffdale faculty c. 1894
Bertie sits in the middle of the group

Bluffdale faculty c. 1900
Front row (L-R): Bertie E. Armstrong, Ola Daw, unidentified, Mabel Parrett, Fay Melick
Second row (4th from L): O. K. Parrett
Taken c. 1894

Taken c. 1895

Taken c. 1900

Taken c. 1905

Schools being a source of some nostalgia, you might find this link to photos of Old Muskingum County Schools interesting.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Boys of Summer

Abner Doubleday,
Major General USA
Baseball, considered America's Pastime, was invented by Abner Doubleday and first played in Cooperstown, NY on June 12, 1839.

The "America's Pastime" part is true, but the rest is mythology.

The game we like to think of as quintessentially American is a derivative of a British game called Rounders, which dates back to the time of King Henry VIII.  A German game called Town Ball also influenced the development of Baseball. An 1829 book (The Boy's Own Book) laid out rules for an American version of Rounders, variously calling it "Round Ball", "Base" and "Goal Ball".

In 1833, the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia was the first American ball club to adopt a formal set of club structure and game rules. However, Beechville, Ontario, Canada claims the first eye-witness account of a game played on June 4, 1838. Although that game had 5 bases, "innings" were used to determine the game's length of play (previously, length of play was determined by a certain number of runs), and a team was given 3 outs per inning. The first U.S. newspaper account of a Baseball game was published Sept. 11, 1845. The first official American Baseball club, The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, was formed by Alexander Joy Cartwright on Sept. 23, 1845. The rules drawn up by this club included many features of the modern game, such as 3 strikes, 3 outs, "fair" and "foul" territory, and the use of tags and force-outs to stop a runner rather than beaning him with the ball.

Local Base Ball team, White Cottage, Ohio, abt. 1912
Standing L-R: Edward Williams, Martin Thomas, Warren S. McLean, Foster Stine, and unidentified
Sitting L-R: Willy Pace, Clyde M. McLean, and unidentified
As you can see, Abner Doubleday doesn't feature in any of this, so how did he get credited? It was all on the written word of one man, and a commission appointed in 1905 to determine who really invented the game--Brits or their American cousins. Henry Chadwick (English) and Albert Spalding (American) had different opinions. National honor was at stake, so there is little doubt that when Spalding was assigned to choose the commission members, the intent was to stack the commission with those favoring Spalding's view. The commission issued a nation-wide (American nation, that is) request for anyone "who had knowledge of the beginnings of the game" to contact the commission.

Seventy-one year old Abner Graves of Denver, Colorado answered the call and wrote to the commission. Graves claimed to have gone to school with Abner Doubleday, and to have witnessed the (mythical) game (supposedly) invented by Doubleday of June 12, 1839 in Cooperstown. Only the school part had a bit of truth to it; both men had attended school in Cooperstown. Without any member of the commission ever interviewing Graves, his story was accepted on Dec. 30, 1907 as proof that Baseball was invented by an American. It mattered not to the patriotic commission members that: 1) Graves was only 5 years old at the time of the supposed game, so he might not be depended upon to accurately recall all the details he claimed to recall; 2) Abner Doubleday, a Plebe at West Point, was at the Academy on the day in question; 3) Graves expressed strong anti-British sentiments in the account he wrote for the commission and clearly didn't want the Mother Country to get any credit; 4) Doubleday, an avid journal-keeper, never wrote about baseball, except once when he requisitioned equipment for his soldiers; he certainly never claimed to have invented the game. Graves later murdered his wife and spent the remainder of his life in an insane asylum.

By the time a Baseball Hall of Fame was being proposed for Cooperstown (1936), many critics were debunking the Mills Commission's finding, and referring to the "Doubleday Myth". Still, Cooperstown became the site of the new museum, and opened its doors on June 12, 1939, the 100th Anniversary of an event that never took place. As if acknowledging the mythology of it all, the Hall of Fame never enshrined Abner Doubleday as the founder of the sport.

If you ever want to see vintage baseball being played, check out Ohio Village Muffins Base Ball

Sources: http://www.19cbaseball.com/               https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doubleday_myth 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Setting the (History) Record Straight

First draft of the Declaration
of Independence
Today, July 4, Americans celebrate Independence Day, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Wrong. Independence from Great Britain and King George III was actually declared July 2, 1776, a date John Adams said would be "the most memorable epocha in the history of America." What were you doing on July 2? Not setting off fireworks or grilling hamburgers, I'll bet. Nope, you're doing that today, which should only be remembered as the date on which the Second Continental Congress approved Thomas Jefferson's final edit of the document. On July 4, 1776, the delegates just voted; they didn't sign anything. (They hadn't signed anything on July 2, either.) The document we call the Declaration of Independence wasn't signed until one month after independence was declared--August 2. Such an important document had to be neat and clean and presentable. What was signed was a formal copy hand-written (probably) by Timothy Matlack, who was an assistant to the Secretary of Congress.
Formal copy signed August 2

Some Americans refer to this day as the "birthday" of the "United States of America". In the very literal sense, wrong again. Congress did not formally adopt our country's name until September 9, 1776. Prior to that, the commonly used name was the United Colonies.

Here's something of interest about July 4. On this day in 1826, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died. Respected colleagues during the revolutionary period, Adams and Jefferson had a major falling out and became political enemies during Adams' presidency. The enmity continued throughout Jefferson's presidency, but afterwards the two men renewed their friendship. That friendship lasted until their dying day, when Adams uttered his last words, "Thomas Jefferson still survives." Wrong. Jefferson had died five hours earlier at Monticello. It was the 50th anniversary of the approval of Jefferson's final draft of the Declaration of Independence.
John Adams
October 30, 1735-July 4, 1826
Thomas Jefferson
April 13, 1743-July 4, 1826

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Keeping Our Cool

Funeral homes distributed fans to
keep mourners cool and to advertise
The last several days have been unpleasantly hot and humid, but most of us were able to shelter in air-conditioned places.

What we take for granted didn't exist before the start of the 20th Century, although it should be of little surprise that those inventive Romans devised a way to circulate mountain water brought by the aqueduct system inside the walls of the wealthiest Romans' homes. After Rome fell, that technology was lost, and everyone sweltered in summer heat for centuries to come. There was always the hand fan, of course, a personal cooling system in use in China for 3,000 years. Room-size fans--human powered--have existed for about 1,700 years, but only (again) affordable to the wealthiest.

Before Navy engineers came up with a rudimentary system to
cool the room, hand-fanning was the only way to give the dying
President Garfield any relief from Washington's oppressive heat.
In 1837, a steam-powered fan was installed in a British textile factory. This technology was used by Navy engineers to help ease the suffering of President Garfield, as he lay dying from an assassin's bullet in Washington, D.C.'s stifling summer of 1881. A fan blew air through ice-water soaked sheets hung around the President's bed. The invention effectively lowered the room temperature by 20 degrees, but required nearly 425 lbs. of ice daily to sustain the lowered temperature.

Icebox ad showing how to store food.
The upper left of the box is where the ice block was stored*

Electric-powered fans came into existence in 1882, and in 1902, Willis Carrier (sound familiar?) invented the first modern air-conditioning system to ease the strain of hot weather on printing plant machines. It took another 23 years before anyone got the bright idea of using Willis' invention to ease the strain of hot weather on human beings, when AC got its debut in a New York City movie house. Within a decade, public buildings and work places became air-conditioned, but by 1965, only 10% of American homes had AC. Today about 86% of the homes in the United States have air-conditioning, and aren't we glad?

The iceman cometh
Besides hand-fans, our ancestors used architecture to try to stay cool in the 19th Century. Homes usually had a front porch where a person might catch a welcoming breeze, and some larger homes were built with higher ceilings that allowed more air to circulate. In the winter, ice blocks were cut from frozen ponds and stored in a special "ice house" insulated with straw. Usually this was a community facility, and in the summer, people picked up ice as needed or else the iceman cometh. When iceboxes came into wide use in the mid-1800's, a
person might tuck her clothes in the contraption for a bit of a cool-down before putting them on.

John C. Holloway's home in White Cottage
had a small but inviting front porch

In areas of concentrated population, like Zanesville, our ancestors took advantage of water fountains that were no more than large troughs. Men and boys might get some relief from summer heat by dunking their heads, but a respectable woman, sweltering in her corset, could never take such a liberty. She was probably lucky to be restrained by protocol. Cholera, typhoid and dysentery are all waterborne diseases, so dunking your head and face into a commonly used trough of water could be bad for your health.

A History of Air Conditioning
5 ways people stayed cool before air conditioning was invented
Presidential History Blog: The 3 Major Inventions of Garfield's Assassination
A History of the Electric Fan
*Illustration attribution: PD-US, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5319602

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Honoring Our Mothers

Mother's Day is an old tradition, celebrated around the world. The oldest traditions were religious in nature. The Greeks and Romans honored motherhood by honoring the mother goddesses, and early Christians honored motherhood by honoring their parish or "mother" church as part of lenten observances. Modern observances are secular and honor our mothers or our maternal ancestors. The U.S. version of Mother's Day began in 1908, the brainchild of Ann Reeves Jarvis. However, when the greeting card industry appropriated the day as a way to sell more greeting cards, the holiday's founder began to actively campaign against what she'd once campaigned vigorously for. For more about the history of Mother's Day, visit this History Channel link The History of Mother's Day

Today I honor my Muskingum County mothers:

Bertie Elnora Armstrong
abt. 1903
 My grandmother, Bertie Elnora Armstrong was born in White Cottage on November 28, 1876, and died in Roseville on July 6, 1970. She began teaching school at the age of 18, and taught for almost 10 years before she married Edward Milton McLean on August 18, 1908. She was the mother of three children: Edward Alexander McLean, James Warren McLean, and Nancy Jane McLean.

Nancy Elizabeth Holloway
abt. 1870
Grandmother's mother and my great grandmother was Nancy Elizabeth Holloway. She was born April 8, 1852 in White Cottage and died in Roseville on November 14, 1929. She married Alexander Armstrong on November 10, 1875. She was the mother of three children: Bertie Elenora Armstrong, Charles William Armstrong and Mary Xema Armstrong.

Mary Jane Scholfield
abt. 1855
My great-great grandmother, and Nancy Elizabeth's mother was Mary Jane Scholfield. She was born August 21, 1828 in Newton Township, and died in Roseville on June 16, 1913. Her family had been among the first Quakers to emigrate to America in William Penn's Great Migration. She married Charles Holloway on May 29, 1950. Mary Jane was the mother of three children: Manerva Jane Holloway, Nancy Elizabeth Holloway, and John Caspar Holloway.

Susanna Birkebile
abt 1850
My great-great-great grandmother, Susanna Birkebile was born August 29, 1796 in Manchester, Carroll County, Maryland, and died in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania about 1875. She married Joshua Wilson in Baltimore County, Maryland on August 1, 1815. The family migrated to Newton Township, around Fultonham, between 1830 and 1835. Susanna was the mother of eight children, but only the names of the four youngest are known: Elizabeth Wilson, Andrew Jackson Wilson, John Wilson, and Sarah A. Wilson. An interesting note about this photograph: Susanna is listed in various censuses as unable to read or write, yet she was photographed holding a book, a prop that was often used in portraiture to indicate the person was literate. Perhaps she learned to  read and write later in life, and maybe not, but the book shows she knew the value of being literate.
Arena Wilson
abt 1880

My great-grandmother, Arena Wilson was Susanna's grand-daughter. Arena was born near Fultonham on August 9, 1852, and died in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio on December 9, 1926. On November 11, 1868 she married Warren McLean. After Warren's death at White Cottage in 1893, Arena moved her family to Crooksville in Perry County where she owned and operated the McLean Hotel on China Street. Arena was the mother of ten children: James McLean, Orla McLean, Edward Milton McLean, Charles Andrew McLean, Rhoda May McLean, Leona McLean, Atta McLean, Maxie Jane McLean, Joseph Hadden McLean, and Wade Hampton McLean.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Evolution of a County's Line(s)

The "Ohio Country" came into America's possession in 1783 via the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War. In quick succession, steps toward settlement of the vast wilderness were taken: The Ordinance of 1785 established methods for surveying and dividing the land; the Ohio Company was formed in Massachusetts to begin selling the newly surveyed land; the Northwest Ordinance established the Northwest Territory out of which Ohio would be the first state formed; and by 1788 Ohio's first permanent white settlement was established at Marietta. Settlers who wanted to venture farther into the Ohio Country traveled from Marietta up the Muskingum River. 

Zanesville, Muskingum County's county seat, was a well-established town by 1800, when statehood for Ohio was first discussed. But in 1800, there was no Muskingum County. Ohio might have 88 counties today, but in 1800, there were only seven, and Muskingum wasn't one of them. So if you are related to some of Muskingum County's earliest settlers, their land purchases and probate records aren't going to be found in Zanesville. Instead, those records will be at Marietta, the county seat of Washington County from which Muskingum was created in 1804. In 1800, Zanesville was just a town in Washington County.

No matter what state your ancestors settled in, you'll find there have been lots of shifting around of county lines. Finding the official records requires the researcher know when and how counties were formed, and there are several resources that will be very helpful.

But first, let's just look at the creation and evolution of Muskingum County.

 The first map shows the Ohio Country counties as of 1800. Washington County is in green. The middle map shows the newly formed State of Ohio in 1804, one year after Statehood was granted, and the year that Muskingum County was formed mostly from Washington County and a small part of Fairfield County. Muskingum was a lot larger then than now, as you can see from the green area on the third map, which shows Ohio in 1818.

If you have ancestors in Tuscarawas, Coschocton, Guernsey, Morgan or Perry counties, you need to know that parts of those counties were once part of Muskingum. To locate those important genealogical records, ya gotta know the territory--how it changed, and where in those counties the ancestors lived.

Roseville is a good example of this. Some of my paternal ancestors lived Roseville. At one time they lived well within the boundaries of Muskingum County. Then along came Perry County, and Roseville found itself pretty much right on the county line. If I can't find certain records at the Muskingum County courthouse, I go to the Perry County Courthouse. But if I hadn't known about the change in the county line, I might have completely missed finding an important record.

Here are some resources useful in finding how and when county lines changed:

  • The Newberry Library Atlas of Historical county boundaries features wonderful interactive maps. You choose from a range of dates and the map shows you the counties that existed at that time. Click on a county to identify it, and to see the date of formation as well as a description of the border changes. The Newberry Library Atlas can be used for any state, but I've included the link to Ohio here http://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/map/map.html#OH                               
  • Finally, Thorndale and Dollarhide's book, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1820, remains an excellent resource for family historians. The book looks at the state of each state during each year a census was conducted there. The present-day counties are shown on each map, with the earlier county boundaries super-imposed on them, as shown in the example of Ohio in 1800 below. Most libraries, especially genealogy libraries, have a copy of this book.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

You've Got Mail

You can see from the folds on the right side, how small
Rebecca folded her letter before addressing it to "Mrs Lydia
McDonald ohio Muskingum County union Town post office"

Rebecca Scholfield Dolson wrote to her sister, Lydia Scholfield McDonald, from her new home in Clark County, Illinois in 1828. Since there were no mailboxes in which to drop her letter, Rebecca would have taken her letter to her local post office. The postmaster wrote the date on which Rebecca handed him the letter. He then sent the letter by a stagecoach (more likely a series of such coaches) dedicated to postal delivery, to the post office near Lydia's home. It would not have been delivered directly to Lydia.

 Although the Constitution adopted in 1789 provided for the establishment of a U.S. postal service, the only people to enjoy mail delivered to their address in 1828 were those who lived in one of forty cities. Mail destined for other places was sent to the local post office. If you lived in a rural area, like Lydia did, you only got mail when you had a reason to go into town.

Until 1847, when postage stamps came into general use, the recipient, not the sender, paid the postage due. We don't know how much Lydia paid to pick up Rebecca's letter. There was no uniform fee; postal costs depended on the distance a letter traveled and its size. Postage stamps came into being because the post office lost money by having the recipient pay; some couldn't and others wouldn't. It made sense for the letter to be paid for at the start of its journey.

Rebecca didn't put her letter into an envelope. They were hardly ever used in the early part of the 19th Century. The common practice was to fold the letter, seal it with wax, and write the recipient's name on the outside. When the letter was delivered to the post office, the postmaster confirmed receipt by writing the name of the post office under the address, and then he put the letter in a box for safe-keeping until Lydia, or someone in her family could claim it. Lydia got her letter, but if it had sat in the post office for some weeks, the postmaster would have placed a notice in the local newspaper telling Lydia that she had mail.

Below is a transcription of the letter Lydia received, complete with all of Rebecca's quirky spellings:

Ilinoys Clark County
Dear Sister with pleasure I embrace this opportunity to inform you that wee ar both well at present hopen these few lins will find you all in the same helth wee hav nad no Sickness Sence wee have bin here It is a very helthy place I am vary well [illegible] when I thin About you all Sum tims I think I never well See enney of you a gain But Benjamin tells me that he well fetch me to See you all in two or three year I have no hope of Seein enny of you come to See me I think if you all knode what a fine place this is you wood leve where you live wee had no neighbours when wee first come here bout now wee have a plenty wee are dooin vary well in the way of property wee have a fine stock round us and nice young orchard Set out Bout Sume times I set and think About you all and the wattre runs Mity free tha puts in mind of what unkil William used to Say a bout me tell Thomas I am Much a blige to him for comin to See me as he promised bout won thing I now if he don’t see fet to come he must Stay this is the Second lettrer I rote Since I got enny if you git this I want you to write as Soon as you Can for I want to here from you all [illegible] more if I cant git to see you I wish to be remembered to Sister ann And family and to broher Lemuel and Thomas and to aunt Elizabeth and aunt Rebecca and to poor old Mother in perticler tell ann to write me the next letter if it was posabel for you to move I think you would Dough better than you can whre you leve ther cant be no better palce for [illegible] Stock than this nothing more at present but remainin your loven Sister until Death if you cant read this letter fetch it to me and I will reade it for you
                                                                                                            June the Sixth

Rebecca Dolson                                                                      Lydia McDonald