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
 

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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May 182012
 

I found a scrap of paper on which my mother, Ruth (Stewart) Voisin, wrote a poem.  In December 1945, World War II had finally ended.  Ruth was only 18 years old.  She had just left home and moved to Philadelphia to enroll at the Franklin School of Science and Arts.  This was against her father’s wishes, who said college was no place for women.  Her mother had died two years prior.  With no financial help from her father, she began her way in the world.

She always loved poetry and transcribed many famous poems in her notebooks.  She also wrote her own poems.  In this one, I can envision her sitting in her room at the YWCA looking out her window to the street below:  A young woman on her own, and filled with a sense of peace and hopefulness about the future.

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Apr 242012
 
Ida (Pohl) Stewart

Ida (Pohl) Stewart, about 1909

The 1910 Federal Census lists the occupation of my grandmother Adelheid T. (Pohl) Stewart as a Taper at the Electric Works.  She was 19 then, just prior to her marriage with John Galbreath Stewart later that year.

I’ve been curious for some time.  What was a Taper?  No doubt the “Electric Works” was Westinghouse Electric Manufacturing Company in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  It was a short distance from Turtle Creek, where my grandmother lived.

Through the wonders of the Internet I happened upon a short video clip produced in 1904 that explains a lot.

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Mar 212012
 

The community of genealogists and family researchers is a friendly, helpful group of people.  For the most part.  Lately I’ve recognized some undertones of the business world that deserve a cautionary warning.

Remember that genealogy podcasters, bloggers and newletter authors want to earn some extra money, and sometimes it’s their living too.  However many times that means their opinions and reporting are biased in favor of their sponsors, or their professional relationships with others in the genealogy community.

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Jan 292012
 

Ruth Voisin

It was twenty years ago today that my mother died suddenly.  I often wish I could speak with her again.  But time is healing my loss and it’s fun to reminisce every now and then.

She collected old lithographs with a theme depicting a bluebird on a tree branch with a little girl gazing up, usually looking out a window.  They reminded her of one by Bessie Pease Gutmann that her mother had.  Of course this morning a couple bluebirds happened by my backyard.  Every time I see one now I chuckle and think to myself it’s mom saying hi.

Mom’s the one who got me interested in genealogy.  She often said that I come from “good stock” and spoke of how strict and clean my German ancestors were.  Even though my grandmother’s pantry had a dirt floor, it was always swept and “clean.”

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Oct 252011
 

FamilySearchOver the years I spent countless hours (and dollars!) at my local Family History Centers. These are the “satellite” libraries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), where you can rent and view microfilmed genealogy records from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Alas, these centers will soon be no more! It is very apparent, at least in my area, they will soon close and no longer be available to genealogical researchers.

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Sep 232011
 
Mum and Fodder

Mum and Fodder

I took this picture years ago while traveling a back road near Houghton Lake, Michigan with my mother.  She spotted this couple and wanted their picture.  I had to stop the car, turn around and go back to get it.  It’s an appropriate marriage picture to substitute for ancestors who were married before the invention of photography.

If you don’t know what you’re looking at, they’re stacks of large circular hay bales from a farmer’s field.

Sep 212011
 
Pohl Homestead

Albert and Mary Pohl Homestead

This is a case of genealogical serendipity.  I set out to determine the precise location of the house where my maternal great-grandparents, Albert and Mary Pohl, lived.  In this picture taken about 1909, the Pohl family posed in front of their house.

From something unexpected, I uncovered a trail of bread crumbs that led me to their doorstep.

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Aug 152011
 

I recently discovered the town in Hungary where my grandmother was probably born prior to the family emigrating to America in 1893.  (See my earlier post, To Grandmother’s House We Go.)  That town was Szabolcs, now known as Mecsekszabolcs.  It is located just northeast of Pécs, Hungary.

Until now I’ve been able to get by researching my ancestors by reading records written in German, French and Latin.  Hungarian records will be something new to me.  First things first.  How do I even pronounce Szabolcs?

I found a great website, Forvo.com. It’s a place you can hear words pronounced in their native language. If a word isn’t there, you can make a request for it. Individuals from all over the world, like yourself, volunteer to pronounce words in their native tongue. I highly recommend it to genealogists.

As for Szabolcs?

Szabolcs

Aug 152011
 
Adelheid (Pohl) Stewart

Adelheid "Ida" (Pohl) Stewart

I recently noticed FamilySearch.org added more Hungarian records.  I quickly found a new lead in the search for the birthplace of my grandmother, Adelheid “Ida” (Pohl) Stewart.  She immigrated to America in 1893 when she was but 2 years old along with her mother and two older siblings.  They departed from Hamburg, Germany, where the ship’s manifest listed them as living in Fünfkirchen, Hungary.

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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.