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)1 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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Footnotes
  1. Jim Tipton, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com/: Downloaded 16 August 2016), John Ashby “Ashby” Williams, Sr (1874-1944), Memorial 64601385.
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, 1927.1  They went for a ride in this airplane, which appears to be a 1927 Waco 10.

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Footnotes
  1. “Photographs,” Ernest Joseph Voisin and Nora May (Voisin) Downing standing next to a biplane, 1927, Houghton Lake, Michigan, Estate of John Ernest Voisin, Huntsville, Madison, Alabama.
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.1  It appears to be a 1924 or 1925 Coupe. Here it is along with a montage of an unrelated, restored 1925 Coupe.2

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Footnotes
  1. “Photographs,” Ford Model T automobile owned by George John Voisin, Beal City, Isabella, Michigan, Received from Harold Joseph Voisin, January 26, 2004, John M. Voisin, Huntsville, Madison, Alabama.
  2. Hemmings, “1925 Ford Model T Coupe,” Ad #1801270. (http://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/dealer/ford/model-t/1801270.html : downloaded 6 August 2016).
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.1

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Footnotes
  1. “Photographs,” Our first car 1917 Dort, Photo collection, Estate of Evelyn Mary (Rademacher) Earl, Heather Justice.
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.1

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Footnotes
  1. Pennsylvania, USGenWeb Archives, Allegheny County, Military, World War I, (http://www.usgwarchives.net/pa/allegheny/military/wpa-ww1/chapter-16.htm : 3 August 2016.)
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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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, 1918.1   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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Footnotes
  1. Robert M. Stewart, Stewarts 1776-1979 (N.p.: n.p., 8 July 1978), Appendix, Copy of Western Union telegram to Mary Stewart indicating Russell Stewart was killed in action 2 November.
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.1 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.2 A few years later, several tax assessment rolls3 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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Footnotes
  1. “The Draft,” article, Buffalo Daily Courier, 12 August 1863, 19th District, Alden, New York; New York State Military Museum (http://dmna.ny.gov/ : downloaded 17 February 2015), Erie County, New York Civil War Newspapers. Jacob Yuncker is one of 57 names selected for conscription.
  2. 1855 New York State Census, Alden, Erie, New York, population, Town of Alden, Page 22, FHL #825680, Image 00016, Digital Folder Number 005207118, Household 186, Hubert Yuncker (indexed as Hurbert Janker); digital image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K63R-7M8 : downloaded 21 March 2013); Secretary of State.
  3. Ancestry.com, “U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918,” database, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (http://Ancestry.com: downloaded 21 March 2010), Roll 202, Division 8, District 30, Alden, New York, Jacob P. Yuncker; citing National Archives (NARA) microfilm series M603.
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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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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Jul 092011
 

Those researching their ancestors in Pennsylvania know that county boundaries changed frequently in the years since 1682. To make these boundary changes easier to see, I animated them.

I used portions of the “Genealogical Map of the Counties” available at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. I simply snipped the individual images in their sequence of state maps that show county boundaries and made a short flash animation.

Unfortunately these maps do not show cities and towns, but if you know the county you are interested in, you can see when it was created and how it changed over the years.

View an animated history of Pennsylvania Counties.

Sep 122007
 

Hamburg, Germany was a major port of embarkation for emigrants bound for America during the nineteenth century. Since the Germans are good record keepers, detailed records were undoubtedly kept about these emigrants, our ancestors. My grandmother Ida Pohl was a little girl when she emigrated with her mother and siblings from Hamburg in 1893. As an amateur genealogist, I was frustrated to learn that most of these records were destroyed by British and American bombers during World War II.

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