Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Who Could It Be? Dating (and Caring for) 19th Century Photos

If you're lucky, you have some very old family photos among your family history keepsakes. If you're really lucky, someone identified the person(s) posing, but more likely, you haven't a clue who this could be. However, if you can put an approximate date to the photo, you might be able to narrow the possibilities. If you can't make an exact identification, it's still worth the effort to guess that this is one of half a dozen ancestors or relatives, rather than one of 2,673.

The earliest known photo dates from 1826, but the process was complicated, lengthy and costly. It took at least eight hours to several days for an image to emerge on a polished sheet of pewter, coated with bitumen dissolved in lavender oil that was the camera's "film". A practical photo process didn't come into being until Louis Daguerre gave us--you guessed it--the daguerreotype. The photographic process was steadily refined throughout the 1800's, evolving from the daguerreotype to the ambrotype to the tintype to the carte de visite to cabinet cards. The first step in identifying a time frame for your old photo is to identify which type it is, and, therefore, when the photo was taken. Each photo type had certain characteristics, and those are detailed at PhotoTree.com.

Once you've identified the type of photo, you can narrow the photo's date down further by looking closely at the details of clothing, footwear, hats, and hairstyles. Sometimes the background features, even those of a studio, can be helpful. The clothes and hair, though, are your best resources for zeroing in on a photo's likely date, thereby increasing the possibility of you putting a name from your family tree to the face in that photo. 

This not great photo is made worse
by a handler's fingerprints.
There are plenty of books and online sites to guide you. Your job will be to match as many clothing and hairstyle features as possible in the family photo with the exemplars provided in books and at the online sites. To do this, you need to be able to see details clearly. You can use a strong magnifying glass, of course, but your best bet is to scan the photo at a high dpi (600 is best; no less than 300) so you can magnify the photo on your pc screen. If you don't have access to a flatbed scanner, use your smartphone (or have your favorite nephew or grand-daughter use theirs) to take a picture of the picture. It can be magnified on the smartphone or that brilliant younger person can upload it to your pc. Word of warning, many old photos taken when personal cameras started coming into use, do no magnify well. Most old studio photos magnify brilliantly, though. I have an 1876 studio photo of my great-grandmother that can be so highly and clearly magnified, I can literally stare into her eyes. (Which is pretty awesome!)

Also, when you're handling very old photos, it's best to use gloves. Even if you wash your hands thoroughly, you still have oil on your skin. You've probably seen an old photo that has a clear fingerprint impression somewhere on it's surface, often right on someone's face. That's why you want to wear gloves. Cotton gloves are best, but you can use latex. Even with gloves, try to touch the surface of the photo as little as is humanly possible. 

When you've made an educated guess as to the date the photo was taken, resist the temptation to write on the photo, and NEVER use an ink pen or a marker pen. Old-fashioned pencil is best, only write on the back (verso) of the photo, and don't press into the photo back. The best way to label a precious old photo is to put the photo into its own clear sleeve or into its own paper envelope. You can then stick a label on the front of the clear sleeve or the paper envelope.

Whichever you use, paper or clear sleeve, be sure the product's package contains words like "archival safe", "acid-free", and/or "lignin free". You can usually find these kinds of products in good craft stores, and you can also buy online from archival supply sites like Gaylord's, BCW, and from we-sell-everything Amazon. By the way, you can buy pens that are archival safe and can be used to write on the back of photos if you really, really need to do that.

For online sources, this link is a good place to begin "Top 10 Resources for Dating Old Photographs"
In addition to online sources, I strongly recommend you consider investing in one or some of Maureen Taylor's resource books (see number 10 at the above site). 


Ambrotype, 1855-1865. This young man sports a small beard, and is probably 19-25 years old. He's likely a member of the Scholfield-Holloway family, since this image was in an old Holloway family album. Given his probable age and the dates when this ambroytpe was made, he was born about 1830-1840. 
Tintype, 1885-1900. This particular tintype is called a cartouche card. These were thin cards with an oval (usually) cut out, and an ornate design, and were only popular from 1863-1866. The girl's hairstyle, dress waist and sleeves, and the jewelry she wears are the styles of this time period. This young girl, who might be anywhere from 8-14 years old, was probably born between 1849-1858. She also is a likely member of the Scholfield-Holloway family. 

Cabinet card, 1866-1900. Unlike the tiny 1-2" carte de visite, a cabinet card measured 6 1/2 X 4 1/4". It usually bore the photography studio name and some kind of design. The boy in this photo is probably 5-7 years old. The pleated design on the front of his jacket, the length of his jacket and pants, the high top shoes, the straw boater, and the fairly close cut, mid-parted hair all indicate this photo was taken in 1894-1895. The boy was probably born about 1887-1888. As I know this boy is a Holloway, and I know of only one Holloway boy born at that time, I am pretty certain this is my grandmother's first cousin, Frederick Howard Holloway.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Here's to a Healthy New Year

Dr. Hartman relied heavily on bogus
"testimonials". The women in this ad
probably never used the product.
Patent medicines have been around for hundreds of years. The term refers to a "nostrum," or "remedy", obtained without a prescription. Patent medicines were heavily advertised in 19th and early 20th century newspapers, magazines, and hawked by charming, fast-talking traveling charlatans who preyed upon a sick and gullible public. Probably everyone one of us is a descendant of someone who placed his or her hopes for a cure for everything from the common cold to cancer in a magic elixir or pill. Today, some of us buy the modern-day version of a patent medicine. Do you have a bottle of Listerine in your medicine cabinet? I do.

Patent medicine inventors often called themselves "Doctor" (or at least "Professor") despite the lack of any credentials to that effect. The claims they made regarding the efficacy of their product were often ridiculous, and definitely shameful. The creation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission in the early part of the last century came about because of the need to stop the deceptive advertising, the fraudulent claims, and the occasional deaths by unintentional poisoning.

The most successful patent medicine ever marketed was made 45 miles west of Zanesville, in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Samuel Hartman (and he really was a medical doctor) created Peruna which he claimed would cure "catarrh", a word with which our ancestors were quite familiar. Catarrh is a word we hardly hear now, but it is a real thing: the build-up of mucus, usually affecting the nose and throat. We all have suffered from this condition at some time or other. Dr. Hartman, however, told people that almost every human ailment could be attributed to catarrh. So no matter what you suffered from, Dr. Hartman, backed by hundreds of celebrity (paid) endorsements, recommended you chug down some Peruna. If you did feel better, it was probably because each bottle of Peruna was nearly one-third alcohol. And if you didn't feel better, after all that alcohol, you probably didn't care.

Some Patent Meds Our Great-Grandparents Might Have Used

"Dr." Earl Sloan successfully marketed to humans a product developed by his father to treat leg pain 
in horses. Still sold today, it's primary ingredient is chili pepper. Sloan claimed it would cure
"rhuematism and all aches & pains" and was even good for mosquito bites.

      The founders of the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company,  John E. Healey and "Dr." E. H. Flagg, 
      were New England hucksters who preyed on the public's belief that Native American medicines
      offered cure-alls that  western medicine could not. Healey and Flagg, devotees of P. T. Barnum, 
      put on the most successful "Indian medicine" shows of any patent medicine company, employing
      Native Americans (but no Kickapoos) to, literally, whoop it up and stage (fake) Indian "rituals" 
      for the gullible audiences. Buffalo Bill Cody hawked the stuff with false claims about how Sagwa
      was valued by Indians more than their horses. However, Kickapoo Sagwa wasn't even known to 
      Native Americans until Healey and Flagg invented it. Sagwa was touted as a concoction of roots, 
      berries, herbs and bark. A rival claimed it was just stale beer and aloe,which, it turned out, was closer
      to the truth. Like Peruna, Sagwa contained a lot of alcohol.
If you suffered from kidney or bladder problems, you reached for the bottle of Dr. Kilmer's
Swamp Root medicine. Developed by Dr. Sylvester Andras Kilmer, Swamp Root, at least
toward the end of its life in the 1930's when the Pure Food and Drug Act required ingredients
to be listed, contained golden seal root, skullcap leaves, larch gum,peppermint, cinnamon,
valerian root, and sassafras. It was also 10% alcohol. Of course, we have no idea what Dr.
Kilmer put in his original concoction, although it's safe to say alcohol was a constant.

 "Mug-wump Specific" is the one patent medicine I could find nothing about. 
According to the label, this was the bottle you reached for if you'd contracted
something rather nasty and embarrassing. Not only would it cure your situation,
it was a preventative to future problems. It was manufactured by Mug-wump 
Manufacturing Co. of New Albany, Indiana. There's no information on the company.

        Lydia Estes Pinkham was a Lynn, Massachusetts wife and mother whose locally popular
        herbal for "women's complaints" became a booming family business. Pinkham's kindly 
        face on the label was definitely part of the company's successful advertising, but more so 
        was the invitation from Lydia to write to her for advice about menstruation, menopause, 
        and "facts of life" generally. Each letter received a personal answer (even years after Lydia's 
        death!), and for many women writing to Lydia Pinkham was the only way to talk openly about
        delicate matters. A version of Pinkham's "vegetable compound" is sold today at CVS. Most
        of the ingredients in the original formulation are used in the modern version, notably black 
        cohosh which is regarded as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy. Pinkham's herbs
        floated in an alcoholic-based liquid. The modern version lacks that little kick.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Bizarre Holidays to You

Sitting down to compose this month's blog, I was casually surfing the history of Christmas postcards when I stumbled on a blog about Victorian Christmas postcards at Hyperallergic, "a forum for serious, playful, and radical thinking about art in the world today." As a collector of vintage Christmas postcards, I'm familiar with creepy human-like cats, and the occasional dead bird (not on the same card). However, "Have a Creepy Little Christmas with These Unsettling Victorian Cards" by Allison Meier introduced me to Christmas card motifs I've never seen before.

Victoria, Albert and the kids gather
around the Christmas tree, 1848
To understand these cards, we need to remember that the Christmas traditions most of us celebrate today--the decorated tree, jolly old St. Nicholas aka Santa Claus, holly berries, brightly wrapped packages--only date from the 1840's, when Queen Victoria's German husband, Prince Albert, installed a big Christmas tree (lit with candles!) in the royal apartments at Windsor Castle. Although the previous Germans who ruled Britian (all those Georges) had occasionally brought fir trees indoors at Christmas-time, when Albert did it up big, it really got people's attention. Suddenly, lighted trees and gaudy decorations became the custom.

The 1840's was also the decade when another tradition began: Christmas cards appeared and gained in popularity. I suppose the cards were somewhat of a novelty--a colorful and possibly economical way to wish the best of the season to family and friends. However, as you see from the examples here, some of the subject choices strike the modern viewer as bizarre and not as "merry" as we're used to seeing. The Victorians rarely passed up a moralizing opportunity: The dead bird motif, for example, was a reminder that death claimed too many young children, especially those living in poverty. So the subtext of the dead bird would be to remember the less fortunate with donations while you celebrate the season. But as for that killing frog and Santa stuffing a child into a sack, "[s]ome of that significance", says Meier, "is now lost to history." However, no motif or image would have appeared on a card if there were any chance the Victorian sender or recipient wouldn't "get it". So weird as they appear to us, be assured our Victorian ancestors "got" these images.

Have fun figuring out what the subtext in some of these postcards might have been.

Victorians liked cats. Maybe a bit too much.
Nothing says have a joyful Christmas like a dead bird.
The verse explains the frogs asked their mother if they could skate on
the ice. She said "No". They did it anyway. Like the bird, they're dead.
Subtext here is pretty obvious.

This child may never eat another healthy apple
Angry birds? 
"The black ants invaded by the red ants" The red ants' banner says
"The compliments of the season". Good luck figuring out this one!
OK. We talked about this one.
"Greetings from Krampus" cards were popular among Northern European Victorians.
The Krampus was a yuletide/pagan character. When he became part of Christmas (and
 he still is), he got the job of punishing bad children while Santa gifted the good ones.
These kids are looking  a bit worried, so they might be regretting some misbehavior.
Just plain disturbing.
This Santa does not look jolly. Was the Krampus busy elsewhere?
Happy Christmas. Your snowman is "dying".

Obviously, Victorians liked frogs almost as much as they liked cats.

Meier, A. (2015). "Have a creepy little Christmas with these unsettling Victorian Cards". Retrieved 5 December 2019 at https://hyperallergic.com/261847/have-a-creepy-little-christmas-with-these-unsettling-victorian-cards/

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Zanesville's Meredith Business College

Postcard of Meredith Business College
postmarked June 1906

Zanesville’s much-respected Meredith Business College graduated its last class on May 13, 1971. The thirty graduates were among nearly 20,000 men and women who had received a business education over a 104-year history.

Meredith Business College was named by Reuben Leslie Meredith, the son of Thomas Meredith and Jane Knight, who was born in Sandusky, Ohio on November 14, 1862. A brief resume of R. I. [sic] Meredith  appeared in the January 1913 issue of The Phonographic World and Commercial School Review—“the magazine for stenographers”. Meredith’s educational career began in 1881 at the Western Reserve Normal School* where, at the age of 19, Meredith became a teacher of penmanship and drawing. However, teaching must not have satisfied him, as he spent the next six years trying out non-education careers. He worked three years for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad, two years as a traveling salesman (selling we don’t know what), and then studied law for one year. Apparently none of these jobs appealed to Meredith as much as teaching: He became the “proprietor” of the Sandusky Business College, a job he held for six years before moving to Zanesville in 1896 to take a position with the Zanesville Commercial School.

Zanesville Business College advertisement, 1886

The Zanesville Commercial School evolved from Small’s Business College, a private school which was established in Zanesville in April 1866 by two business teachers J. C. Small of Chicago and J. S. Dinsmore of Cincinnati. The new school, located in the Black’s Music Hall building at 3rd and Main,  offered courses in penmanship, bookkeeping, commercial law, and a short-hand system called “phonetics”. Within two years of opening, the popular school had expanded its course offerings to include arithmetic, grammar, phonography [taking dictation from a recording], and mechanical drawing. This was about the time that Small and Dinsmore quit the college; the new owners, J. W. Roll and F. M. Choquill, changed the name to Zanesville Business College.

This Zanesville Business College advertisement appeared
in the Times Recorder  on June 9, 1900, a few months
before the merger with Reuben Meredith's new school
Between 1876 and 1896, when R. L. Meredith came to town, the Zanesville Business College changed owners several more times, all the while expanding its course offerings to include instruction in new and improved shorthand methods, and in new contraptions such as the “type writer”. Under C. C. Kennison’s leadership, the business college touted itself as a “complete institution for thorough and practical instruction in all pertaining to that business education which qualifies young men and women for self support and the practical duties of life.”

In 1894, Emilie Boyd Saumenig, a court stenographer and graduate of Ohio Wesleyan College in Delaware, Ohio, assumed ownership (along with Milo B. Dunn) of the Zanesville Business College. When Reuben Meredith joined the Zanesville Business College two years later, he quickly joined Suamenig as a partner in the school’s operation.
Meredith Business College advertisement, 1906

Meredith's death was front
page news in Zanesville

Reuben Meredith established the business school named for himself on April 20, 1900, and four months later bought out Emilie Saumenig’s rights to the Zanesville Business School. Merging his new school with the older one, Meredith could claim for his college the respected reputation and long history dating back to 1866. By 1903, the Meredith Business College was granted permission by the State of Ohio to confer degrees on its graduates and to issue them diplomas.

The Meredith Business College moved several times over its remaining years. When Meredith established his new school, he located its offices and classrooms on the top two floors of the Schultz Building at 5th and Main. Four years later, the school relocated to the fourth and fifth floors of the Times Recorder Building on S. 5th St. After Meredith’s death (February 1, 1926), his successor, D. P. McDonald, moved the college to two floors of the Fritz Building  on N. 6th St., and then finally to a building of its own at 55½  N. 5th St. Sadly, that historic building was razed; a tile in the sidewalk is all that is left to commemorate the location of one of the oldest and most highly respected business schools in the United States.

*A normal school was a two-year teacher-training institution. Many normal schools evolved into four-year colleges; Western Reserve Teachers Seminary (or normal school) became Case Western Reserve University.

Chuck Martin, “Meredith Business College Trained Many Local Residents”; The Times Recorder, May 13, 1995, p. 13.

The Phonographic World and Commerical School Review, vol. XLI, no. 1, The Phonographic World Company, Publishers, New York City

“R. L. Meredith: Prominent Citizen Passes From Life”, Times Recorder, February 2, 1926, page 1.

“Meredith College to Close Doors”, Times Recorder, January 7, 1971, page 22.

A list of June, 1905 graduates and where they were employed after graduation can be found at http://www.usgenwebsites.org/OHMuskingum/muskfootprints/meredith.html

Thursday, October 10, 2019

"The Lucky Thirteen"

The list of names entitled "The Lucky Thirteen" was written
in the front of book found among Henry Melick's possessions
On August 1, 1861, thirteen young men between the ages of 17 and 23, twelve of whom were from Roseville, Ohio and surrounding areas in Muskingum and Perry Counties, enlisted at Zanesville for three years military service. They were mustered into the 32nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry at Camp Bartley in Mansfield, Ohio, and assigned to Co. G. Eleven of them were mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky on July 20, 1865. All had re-enlisted when their first term of service expired. Twelve of them saw action in two of the most significant Union campaigns of the Civil War--the siege and battles at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Sherman's March to the Sea which included the siege and battles in and around Atlanta, Georgia. All except one, returned home in decent health; all except one returned with all limbs in tact, although one suffered from foot injuries that would plague him the rest of his life.

The men styled themselves "The Lucky Thirteen", reflecting their awareness of how very unlikely it was that thirteen young men from in and around the same small village, who enlisted in the same military company, and who endured the same hardships and dangers of war would all return home safely. The men and their families probably saw this as nothing short of miraculous, and proof that the number thirteen might not deserve its bad reputation. 

"The Lucky Thirteen" were:
  • Francis Marion (Frank) Rider, born October 6, 1840 in Clay Township, Muskingum County. He was the second of seven children born to Richard and Elizabeth (Wonn) Rider. Frank was mustered out of service as a commissary sergeant. He returned to his parents' home, and in 1870 married Permelia Maddox. Like his father, Frank was a prosperous farmer. He eventually entered local politics and served as a Muskingum County commissioner from 1889-1895. His active involvement with Axline Post No. 290 of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) probably helped his political career; he was a much respected local citizen and leader. He died at his home in Roseville on February 14, 1907, and is buried with his wife and parents in Roseville Cemetery. He and Permelia had no children.
  • Richard F. (Dick) Sowers was born on October 3, 1843 in Clay Township. He was the second youngest of twelve children born to George and Catharine (Wonn) Sowers. Richard's father was a farmer. His mother was related to Francis Rider's mother, and in the 1850 U.S. census of Clay Township, the Sowers family is enumerated between the Rider family and the Wonn family. Richard was captured on July 17, 1864 during the Atlanta campaign, and was imprisoned in the notorious Andersonville Prison for two months, when he became part of a prisoner exchange. He was mustered out on July 25, 1865 with Co. D 2nd Veteran Reserve Corps (V.R.C.). The V.R.C. was originally known as the Invalid Corps, and was composed of soldiers too infirm to return to their units, but who could perform light duties such as hospital orderlies.  Dick Sowers had either suffered a serious wound or had developed a debilitating disease, and his condition probably accounted for his premature death. He lived just two and half years after his discharge, dying January 4, 1868, the only one of the thirteen who didn't live to see a new century. Richard is buried with his parents in Ebenezer Cemetery in Roseville.
    Henry H. Melick
  • Henry Harrison Melick was born August 8, 1840 in Roseville. His parents were William and Ann (Rhodes) Melick. Henry was the middle child of five. Like Sowers, Henry (who in later years sometimes went by "David") was captured during the Atlanta campaign and spent two months in Andersonville Prison. When he returned to Roseville, he married Susan Lenhart with whom he had five children. Henry had been a potter as a younger man, and after the war became a stoneware salesman, but he and his family also farmed. Henry spent nearly 50 years pursuing pension increases from the Pension Bureau for his military service. (See Henry H. Melick: The Pensioner's Tale for a summary of Henry's 3 lb. pension file.) Henry died at his home in Roseville on March 24, 1928. He and Susan are buried in Roseville Cemetery.

Soldiers and Sailors Home
  • Edward Milton Coe was the only "Lucky Thirteen" member not born in Ohio. He was born in western Virginia in July 1838 to William and Mary Jane (Reed/Read) Coe, the oldest of their six children. By the time Edward was 12 years old, the family settled in Newton Township, Muskingum County. Edward (known as "Dink") followed in his father's footsteps and became a teacher, which probably explains why he was enlisted as a corporal. His pension record shows that during the Vicksburg Campaign, Edward committed some infraction which got his rank reduced to private. When his mother died in 1905, her son "Col. E. M. Coe" was listed as one of her surviving children. (This, of course, was a real case of fake news.) Edward died at the Soldiers and Sailors' Home in Sandusky, Ohio on April 20, 1910, although he had lived in Fultonham with his sister until the previous month. Letters between his sister and the Pension Bureau suggest that Edward's body was returned to Fultonham for burial, but there is no cemetery record. Edward never married.
  • William Henry Wilson was born on June 14, 1842 in Harrison Township, Perry County. He was the eldest of William D. and Rebecca (Brumage) Wilson's four children. After he was mustered out of service, William returned to Perry County where he married Olivia C. Crooks in 1873. The couple had six children, and lived for a time in Zanesville where William owned and operated an ice cream parlor. William and Olivia were living in Roseville at the time of his death on July 26, 1907. William, his wife and his parents are buried in Roseville Cemetery.
Walter Lowry
  • Walter Lowry was born in Roseville on October 15, 1841, the sixth of the eleven children of Jeremiah and Susannah (Richardson) Lowry. Walter was mustered out of service as a sergeant,and returned to Roseville where he worked as a potter. He married Aurilla Weaver in 1868; the couple had eleven children. Shortly after Walter's and Aurilla's marriage, the couple moved to Keyser, Mineral County, West Virginia where they owned and operated a successful grocery and market garden. Walter died in Keyser on April 29, 1921. He and his wife are buried in Queen's Meadow Point Cemetery in Keyser.
    David French
  • David G. French was born may 21, 1844 in Harrison Township, Perry County. His parents were James French and Elizabeth McCoubrey, an Irish immigrant. Davis was the second youngest of their six children. After being mustered out of service, David returned to Harrison Township where he married Rebecca E. Wilson in 1866. The couple had two children. David was a potter, and eventually established his own business, the D. G. French Pottery. Rebecca died in 1917, and David never recovered from the loss; two and half years later, on January 30, 1920, he committed suicide. He and Rebecca are buried in Roseville Cemetery.
  • William Tell Dollison, M.D. was born in Harrison Township, Perry County on September 11,
    William T. Dollison
    1840,the eldest of John Moore and Jane (Wylie) Dollison's six children. William was appointed 1st sergeant of Co. G on his enlistment, and then made a 2nd lieutenant. When he re-enlisted, he joined Co. K of the 32nd Regiment, and was mustered out as a 1st lieutenant. Following his war service, William went to Columbus, Ohio to attend the Starling Medical College. After earning a medical degree, he moved to Indiana where he met and married Jennie Elizabeth Smith. The couple had four children. Eventually, the family moved to Maryland so that William  could work in the medical office of Veterans' Affairs. William married Lydia A. Siegfried after Jennie's death, and lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where he died on May 16, 1915. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with both of his wives.
  • Robert Aulder G. Larzelere was born October 17, 1840 in Harrison Township, Perry County. He was the eldest of the seven children of Benjamin Larzelere and Mary Damon, an English immigrant. Within six weeks of Robert's enlistment, he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Cheat Mountain (September 12-15, 1861) in western Virginia. However, he was paroled shortly afterward and returned to his unit. After his mustering out, about 1868, Robert married Jennie ____. The couple had one child (who would become the Rev. Aulder Larzelere), and lived in Zanesville where Robert plied his trade as a carpenter. He married Mary E. Cowan after Jennie's death. Robert died in Zanesville on January 8, 1920, and is buried in Roseville Cemetery along with his first wife and only child.
Alonzo L. Vickers
  • Alonzo Lorenzo Vickers was born in Washington, Fayette County, Ohio on October 26, 1837. His father was Lorenzo Dow Vickers, a physician, and Harriet (Moon) Vickers, who died when Alonzo was just six weeks old. He was brought up by his paternal grandmother who lived in Roseville. Alonzo's pension file shows he suffered a considerable number of illnesses and injuries during his service, most notably a serious foot injury that led to permanent deformity and limited mobility. Alonzo was mustered out as a corporal of Co. G. Returning to Roseville after the war, Alonzo married Sarah M. Llewellyn in 1867. The couple had ten children. The family moved to Dickenson County, Kansas around 1877. After Sarah's death, Alonzo married Annie E. Smart and had two more children. He died in Abilene, Kansas on November 9, 1917 and is buried with Sarah in Prairedale Cemetery near Talmadge, Kansas.
  • Reuben Henry Morgan was born June 25, 1844 in Zanesville. He was the seventh of Peter P. and Rebecca (Flowers) Morgan’s ten children. Reuben returned to his parents’ home after the war and studied law. He married Phoebe Angeline Harris in Holmes County, Ohio in 1871, and the couple moved to Martinsburg, Knox County, Ohio where Reuben established a law practice. Angela and Reuben had five children. In Knox County, Reuben became involved in politics, serving as a justice of the peace, a township clerk, and mayor of Martinsburg. Reuben moved his family to Washington, D.C., where he worked as an attorney in the Family Pensions Office of Veterans AffairsHe died in Washington, D.C. on November 1, 1903, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
  • George W. Kildow was born in Newton Township, Muskingum County on May 19, 1840, the eldest child of Daniel and Mary (Frisbey) Kildow’s seven children. George was discharged from the military about 6 months before Co. G was mustered out, went immediately to Wisconsin and married Mary A. DeWitt. The couple had two children before they divorced in 1871. George moved to Iowa and married Anna D. Jennings in 1872.  The couple had four children. Between 1884-1890, George moved his family to Brush Creek Township, Muskingum County where George was enumerated in the 1890 special census. The family remained in Muskingum County for at least another ten years, before moving to Chicago, and then, in 1912, moving to the state of Washington. He died at the Veterans’ Home in Retsil, Kitsap County, Washington, on February 20 1930, and is buried in the Veterans’ Home Cemetery along with Anna.
Monument to Union soldiers in the Roseville Cemetery

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Those Back-to-School Sales

Back-to-school shoes (left) and
material to make clothing (above)

Digitized newspapers are a wonderful genealogical resource, and not just for the birth, marriage, and death information they provide. Of course, they carry the local, national, and international news of the day that can contextualize our ancestors' lives, giving us a taste for what they might have talked about it, or what they might have personally experienced. But there's a bonus.

The place to buy your student's books, papers,
pens, pencils, protractor, ruler, etc.
What to pack for lunch? Some potted meat...
Whenever I am researching in online newspapers, my attention is often diverted by the ads. Newspaper advertisements might not provide the life facts or the news that engaged my ancestors, but they enable me to imagine something of their everyday lives--where they shopped, what they ate, the latest clothing styles, the newest "stuff". Ads provide us (literally) with illustrations of ordinary people going about ordinary, daily doings. The Armour's food ad is an example: There's Grandma or Great Aunt Delilah looking for ways to feed her family within a budget. In the absence of actual photographs, or solid facts about how our ancestors negotiated the ups and downs of daily life, illustrated ads can help us imagine their lives. Also, using advertisements as illustrations is a charming way to enliven a family history.
Since it's back-to-school time, I looked for ads that might have interested a mother of school-age children one hundred years ago. These ads appeared in August and September editions of the 1919 Zanesville Times Recorder.
...On fresh bread...
...And a nice "vacuum flask" of milk.

A labor-saving device for Mom so the kids have clean school clothes every week

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Life Expectancy Myth

How long should we expect to live? All things being equal, human life expectancy is, on average, about 76 years. What might surprise you is that this has been true for at least a couple of thousand years. Yet most people believe that the generations before us couldn't expect to life past 45 or even 35 years. I once heard someone claim that ancient Egyptians had a life-expectancy of 25 years.

Medical treatment book, 1885
It's true that your chances of dying before 76 were higher some generations ago. We take for granted what medical doctors can do for us nowadays, whether we face our own unique afflictions or a wide-spread epidemic. Our ancestors, though, didn't have access to the level of medical expertise and treatments available today, and except in the direst of circumstances, they expected to doctor themselves. This was especially true in rural areas, where most families relied on a book of "physic" to guide their treatment of family members' illness or injury. Many, if not most of the recommended treatments, were useless, and in the case of a fatal illness or injury, often made the victim's last days and hours even more terrible. My g-g-g grandfather William Burdett died in 1841 of stomach cancer; in addition to leeches, one of the treatments used was tincture of creasote.

Bessie G. Rambo, 1867-1870
Elda Rambo, 1869-1870 (above)
Georgie Rambo, 1871-1872 (below) 
Except for smallpox, there were no vaccines available to ward off diseases that can be deadly, especially to children: measles and whooping cough being two examples. Neither was there a vaccine for tetanus, the agonizing "grinning death", that might develop from a cut, puncture wound, burn, or animal bite. If surgery were necessary, there was no anesthesia to block the pain, and no antibiotics to stop infection. Worse, there was little to no understanding of the role sanitation played in the prevention of infection or in stopping the spread of killer diseases like cholera, typhus, and yellow fever. An ancestor who lived to see her 76th year and beyond (my g-g-g grandmother, Jane Turner Holloway, lived to be 95) was unusual only because, in a long life, she avoided serious injury and/or a fatal disease at a time when medical knowledge was fairly primitive, and medical treatment often ineffective if not barbarous.

Injury and disease aside, the primary contributor to the mistaken idea that our ancestors had a short life-expectancy is childhood. Tragically, childhood has been a perilous life stage in all societies from earliest times until into the mid-20th Century. For most of human existence, 25% of infants (0-1 year old) died; 46% of those surviving infancy died before they were 15. The belief that our ancestors had much lower life-expectancy than we do is chiefly the result of skewed statistics: Too many adults died before their allotted time due to injury, disease, and poor to no medical treatment to statistically counterbalance the high percentage of infant and child deaths.

A 19th century surgeon prepares to amputate
So the next time you share your family tree with someone, and they are amazed to see people who lived into their 80's and 90's more than 150 years ago (because people "then" only lived to be about 40, didn't they?), please share this blog with them. Statistics don't lie; but statistics can be misunderstood. The life-expectancy thing is a case in point.

Childs, D. & Kansagra, S. "Ten Health Advances That Changed the World", retrieved 20 Jul 2019 at https://abcnews.go.com/Health/TenWays/story?id=3605442&page=1

Radford, B. "Human Lifespans Nearly Constant for 2000 Years", retrieved 21 Jul 2019 at https://www.livescience.com/10569-human-lifespans-constant-2-000-years.html

Roser, M. "Mortality in the Past-Around Half Died as Children, retrieved 21 Jul 2019 at https://ourworldindata.org/child-mortality-in-the-past

Bee, E. J., M.D. "Case of Scirrhous Pylorus" in American Medical Intelligencer, retrieved 3 Mar 2017 at https://books.google.com/books?id=vvwAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA248&lpg=PA248&dq=american+medical+intelligencer+william+burdett+1841&source=bl&ots=XyzyxOpfSe&sig=ACfU3U0zLAwFYzHUJWIs0MEgGMdfu2eF1Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjd26mwxMjjAhVH2qwKHZpkCxsQ6AEwAnoECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=american%20medical%20intelligencer%20william%20burdett%201841&f=false