Aug 212016
 
Ashby Williams

Lt. Col. Ashby Williams

I must admit I was not very familiar with World War I history.  I had studied it in school history classes, watched the old movies and read a couple books on the subject.  I never really appreciated the courage and bravery of those who served in that war until I investigated the life of my mother’s uncle, Private First Class Russell Stewart.  He served in Company M of the 319th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division.  He died at the battle of the Meuse-Argonne on November 2, 1918, just as the war was ending.

In reading the relevant regimental and divisional accounts of that battle, I found the most interesting and moving account of all.  It was written by Lieutenant Colonel Ashby Williams (1874-1944) in his book, “Experiences of the Great War” (Roanoke, Virginia: The Stone Printing and Manufacturing Company, 1919).  He started out as commander of Company E, 320th Infantry and was promoted to battalion commander, with the rank of Major, over Companies A, B, C and D, of the 320th.  Although he was an officer, he endured only slightly better conditions than his men.  He describes in great detail the experience of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

The 320th and 319th were in the same brigade, the 160th, and undoubtedly shared the same locations, movements and conditions.  Therefore his is probably the closest description of what my granduncle experienced.  I have included here the most poignant and eloquent passages from Lt. Col. Williams’ book.  His words describe the indescribable horrors of existence and death in the trenches.  It is something the world often forgets, as I did, in my generation.  But now I remember.

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Aug 082016
 

Curtiss JennyMy great-granduncle John Yuncker was a piano sales manager in Los Angeles during the early 20th century. Here he participated in aviation history by taking one of the first-ever commercial passenger trips on August 30, 1919.  As I describe in a previous post, he flew from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara to close on the sale of a very expensive piano.

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Aug 082016
 

Waco 10This is my grandfather Ernie Voisin standing with his daughter, my aunt Nora May as a little girl. This was taken at Houghton Lake, Michigan on July 4, 1927.  They went for a ride in this airplane, which appears to be a 1927 Waco 10.

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Aug 082016
 

Model-T CoupeMy granduncle George Voisin was my grandfather’s younger brother. He apparently owned a Ford Model-T Coupe, which is pictured in a few old family photographs from the mid- to late-1920s.  It appears to be a 1924 or 1925 Coupe. Here it is along with a montage of an unrelated, restored 1925 Coupe.

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Aug 082016
 

1917 DortIt was an automobile I had not heard about until I saw this old family photo. This is a snapshot of a 1917 Dort owned by my great-grandparents, Lorenz and Louisa Rademacher, who lived in rural Isabella County, Michigan.

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Aug 032016
 
Corp. Arthur Pollock

Cpl. Arthur Pollock

Corporal Arthur Nelan Pollock served in Company F, 320th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in World War I.  Amazingly, he kept a diary.  It so happens he got separated from his regiment and became attached to the 319th Infantry.  This was the same regiment in which my granduncle Russell Stewart served, as I describe in a previous post.

It is enlightening to read Corporal Pollock’s account of the battle.  Since both men were then in the same regiment, this is very likely what Russell Stewart also experienced.  Here is an excerpt of Corporal Pollock’s account from September 26 to October 2, 1918.  It was originally published in the Pittsburgh Press, April 20, 1919 and continued on May 18, 1919.  This excerpt was transcribed by Lynn Beatty and the full text is found at the Allegheny County, Pennsylvania USGenWeb.

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Jul 232016
 

newspaperWhat motivated my fourth great-grandparents John and Margaret (McFarland) Stewart to settle in the wilderness of western Pennsylvania near the end of the Revolutionary War?  There may be a very simple explanation:  They saw a newspaper ad.

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Jul 232016
 

VioletsThere once was a precious little girl named Violet who died at age 2. More than one hundred years later, it is she who helped me unravel a compelling mystery.

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Jun 302016
 
Russell Stewart

Russell T. Stewart

My granduncle Russell Thomas Stewart was my maternal grandfather’s younger brother. In a family tree published by my second cousin, Robert M. Stewart, there is a somber copy of a telegram addressed to my great-grandmother, Mary (McKee) Stewart, and dated December 5, 1918.   It was news that her son Russell Stewart was killed in action November 2, 1918.

Finding no other information, I decided to investigate the short life of my granduncle, who I had never heard about. I was able to find a little more about him, but his story is mostly the tragedy of World War I and the sad ironies of its end.

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Feb 162016
 

Mom RemembersAs a descendant I am of course detached from the ancestors I never met.  I’ve undoubtedly inherited their physical characteristics and probably even their mannerisms.  My history is somehow connected to them.  I am their future.  We also share a common future, one none of us has lived, or will live, to see.

Thus I think it’s fun to see what once was, and what it has become.  I inherited this sense from my mother, Ruth (Stewart) Voisin, who always took time to connect the present to the past.  Here she is as a twenty-year old standing with a friend in Pensacola, Florida and later, at the exact same spot, in her late fifties.  It is not the plaque she is revisiting, it is a particular moment from her past, a memory of who she was, and who she had become.  It is a connection in time at an ordinary place she went out of her way to revisit.

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Feb 152016
 

Yuncker BuildingIn another post I described the accomplishments of my great-granduncle, John E. Yuncker, who owned J. E. Yuncker Music Company in Los Angeles.  His wife Bessie (Zander) Yuncker was an accomplished pianist and music teacher.  She died in December 1962, a mere month after her husband died.

A couple years later, Bessie is mentioned in connection with a new American Red Cross Service Center.  In her will, she donated over $200,000 to the Red Cross for the express purpose of buying land, constructing and furnishing the new center.  That was over two-thirds of the project’s cost.  Today that would be about $1.5 million dollars.

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May 172015
 
Jacob P. Yuncker

Jacob P. Yuncker

An article in the August 12, 1863 edition of the Buffalo Daily Courier lists names selected for conscription in the federal army during the Civil War. Included was the town of Alden, near Buffalo in Erie County, New York. A Jacob Yuncker is listed among the 57 names selected in the previous day’s draft.

Since he was living in Alden, this is very likely my second great-grandfather, Jacob P. Yuncker. In the 1855 New York state census, 17 year old Jacob is listed as living in Alden with his parents Hubert and Barbara Yuncker. A few years later, several tax assessment rolls from the Internal Revenue Service show Jacob P. Yuncker paid taxes on boots and shoes, which were probably part of his shoe making business. These rolls span from September 1862 to June 1863 and they show his business was at Alden, New York. Jacob was a shoemaker like his father Hubert.

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May 062015
 

000665-01It’s been one hundred thirty-one years now. Proof enough that death does do us part, but that love lives on and never fails.

This story begins in 1881 when Mr. Jacob Yuncker purchased farm land near Beal City, Michigan. It happened to be across the road from a then 23-year old pioneer farmer named Joseph Voisin. Mr. Yuncker had a daughter, Mary Ann. She lived with her extended family on her grandparent’s farm down in Westphalia, Michigan near St. Johns.

Mary probably visited her father in Beal City and at some point she met Joe Voisin. They probably met a few times more. Joe played music at Indian dances and at square-dances. Mary attended some of these social gatherings, but since Joe was playing, they couldn’t spend much time together. This probably went on for some months.

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Apr 162015
 

Trade TokenAnother of my great-granduncles, Louis William Yuncker (1877-1963), was my paternal great-grandmother’s younger brother.  He is mentioned in his mother’s 1921 obituary as living in Saginaw, Michigan.  A quick search online revealed unique items with a connection to the past.

Two trade tokens bear the name L. W. Yuncker’s.  It turns out Louis William Yuncker owned a meat market in Saginaw.  He undoubtedly used these very same tokens in the family business.

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Mar 132015
 
John E. Yuncker circa 1923

John E. Yuncker
circa 1923

One of my great-granduncles, John Ernest Yuncker (1881-1962), was my paternal great-grandmother’s younger brother. He is mentioned in his mother’s 1921 obituary as living in Los Angeles, California. I had found him listed in the California death index years ago, but I never traced him further. I recently did so and I found that he made quite a name for himself and even had a brush with history.

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Oct 312013
 

Here are photographs of the Rademacher family contributed recently by cousin Heather J.  You can learn more about these individuals by exploring the Lorenz and Louisa Rademacher family group sheet.  (Click on a thumbnail below for a larger view.)

Oct 242013
 
New Rademacher Faces

One of the advantages of having your own family history website is cousin-bait.  That’s when a distant cousin searches the Internet for their ancestors and finds their family names at your website.  This often results in new information and leads for both parties.

I’m excited to say it’s happened again.  This time I’ve heard from cousin Heather J. on my paternal grandmother Rademacher’s side of the family.  Heather generously shared several old photographs she inherited from her grandmother, Evelyn Earl.

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Apr 242013
 

WPA Propery InventoryIn the late 1930’s the Works Progress Administration (WPA) conducted property inventories of rural Michigan. This project was in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Treasury. I was able to locate the homestead of my great-grandparents, Joseph and Mary Voisin, near Beal City, Michigan. It is interesting to learn about their home and farm.

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Apr 022013
 

My fourth great-grandparents, John and Margaret Stewart, were two of the first settlers in what would eventually become Buffington Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. John Stewart married Margaret McFarland in 1788 and by 1796 they had a son, my third great-grandfather, James Stewart.

I describe here how I used records available at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) and Google Earth to pinpoint the location of the original Stewart homestead.

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Mar 262013
 

google-earth-00In a past posting I described how I located the homestead of my great-grandparents Albert and Mary Pohl near Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania.  I’ve since found that Google Earth is another tool to further visualize the location.  It is helpful in modernizing old maps to better understand where my ancestors lived.

What I did is add an overlay of an old map to the modern world shown in Google Earth.  This allows you to see precisely where a road, building or property once stood in relation to what’s there now.

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