Nurture

Christmas, 1958. Gerald Bauman and Mike.

Google dictionary gives us this definition: ¹

  • Verb: care for and encourage the growth or development of.
  • help or encourage the development of.
  • cherish (a hope, belief, or ambition).
  • Noun: the process of caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something.
  • upbringing, education, and environment, contrasted with inborn characteristics as an influence on or determinant of personality.

The definition describes only a fraction of what’s involved in nurturing. Are there people who have no one to nurture them? Sadly, yes. Are there others not being nurtured by those who should be nurturing them, but have others come into their life and provide what’s necessary? Fortunately, yes!

I think there’s another group, though, who are nurtured, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, find themselves feeling unnurtured. It can have a lifelong effect. I think my father-in-law may fit in that category.

Now, I’ll admit I’m skating on really thin ice, here! I never met the man— he died 3 years and a day before I married his son. Mike and I knew each other when his father died, but we weren’t dating, yet. Other than a few photos and documents, most of what I know about him is second hand.

You already met Gerald Bauman in Where There’s a Will. His mother, Mildred Fitzgerald Carmody, died a month after his birthday, and Jerry (yes, it’s “G” for his full name, “J” for the nickname!) was adopted by his first cousin, Anna Carmody, and her husband, Frank Bauman.

Anna and Frank married 13 January 1919, in Toledo, Ohio.² Frank was 9 years older than Anna. She had been married before, to a Julius Klammer and was granted a divorce from him 30 March 1918, on grounds of desertion.³ There’s more to his story, but that’ll be another day.

Julius and Anna married in 1908.4 I found a potential Julius in the WWI draft registration in 1917 who listed a “wife and child.”5 I never knew them to have children, but could this be my Anna? Did they have a child I don’t know about, or did he simply make up a child to appear less draftable? Maybe. There were a lot of unanswered questions, so I went digging.

The 1920 census doesn’t show any child in the household of the recently married Anna and Frank. It seems unlikely to me Julius would desert Anna and take a child with him. Maybe I’m wrong. It’s also possible this is a different Julius Klammer, but the name is distinct enough, I think not. I haven’t noticed others. I had trouble finding Julius and Anna in the 1910 census, but obsessive creative searching located them in Flint (NOT Port Huron or Detroit—more obvious places). 1910 was the second (and last) census where married women were asked how many children they HAD and how many were currently LIVING. Anna had one—and zero.6 Now that I had a new location for them, a search at SeekingMichigan.org found their son, Bernard, who died New Year’s Day, 1910, little more than a month before his first birthday.

So, why does that backstory matter to Jerry? As best I can tell, Anna and Frank had no biological children. The opportunity to adopt Jerry in 1928 was probably a dream come true—an answer to Anna and Frank’s prayers. He is the only child in their household for the 19307 and 19408 censuses.

Gerald Alfred [Carmody] Bauman, about 1930. This is probably his first set of wheels. The image is a trimmed-down (probably for a picture frame) “RealPhoto” postcard.

Nothing I’ve heard from Mike about Anna and Frank suggested that Jerry had any negative feelings for them. Presumably he was properly nurtured by them, and did maintain a relationship for a time with his older brothers, Michael and Joseph, placed with other families after Millie’s death.

Unfortunately, another untimely death complicated things. Frank Bauman died 18 July 1936 of “carcinoma—hepatic” when Jerry was only 8. That left Anna a widow in the middle of the Depression. How she made ends meet, I don’t know, but she and Jerry continued to live in Port Huron, with extended Carmody relations nearby—including Jerry’s birth father.

In 1940, death landed on Jerry’s doorstep, again. This time it was his adoptive mother, Anna. Some time that spring, she was diagnosed with kidney problems. She died 4 November 1940, of chronic nephritis that had been diagnosed 6 months earlier. Being widowed and in ill health, she presumably spent time that spring and summer making arrangements for 12-year-old Jerry’s care, if she were to die.

We don’t know who she approached to take him in. His oldest brother, Michael, was just turning 18, so really wouldn’t have been in a position to be able to take care of Jerry. There were numerous older half siblings (from John Joseph’s first wife) in Port Huron. They might have have been potential guardians for him, but none agreed to serve as such.

They ranged in age from 57 to 42, so some were already empty nesters, the others still dealing with their own teenagers. Either group may not have wanted to add another person to the mix. The Depression was also still going strong, so it’s possible those families really didn’t have the wherewithall to feed and clothe a teenage boy. If they were barely scraping by, another person might have been too much to take on.

Unfortunately, Jerry’s biological father, John Joseph Carmody, had died 4 January that year, of brachio pneumonia, almost age 78. At that age, he certainly wouldn’t have been able (or expected) to take Jerry in, but would he have been able to convince one of his other children to do so? Who knows? Maybe. Maybe not. But he died before Anna knew she was sick, so was of no help.

Bottom line, Anna was unable to find someone to agree to take Jerry in. Her will named Rollin B. Stocker executor and guardian for Jerry. Jerry spent time at the Starr Commonwealth (a children’s home, still in existence) in Albion, Michigan. This, of course uprooted him from his school and friends in Port Huron.

Actually, I never knew the home’s name, and had always thought it was in St. Clair, a town about 12 miles “down river” from Port Huron— not 160 miles away! Jerry graduated from the St. Clair High School, so I assumed it was there, and no one told me differently. Fortunately, we just spent two weeks cruising to and from Hawaii with Mike’s brother and his wife, so we had several conversations where the guys were able to “compare notes” about their memories. Each had heard (or maybe remembered?) different details from their dad. It wasn’t necessarily contradictory information, just different. Mike’s brother mentioned foster homes— something else I had never heard! Presumably the last one was in St. Clair.

Obviously, being orphaned had a huge impact on Jerry. According to Mike, his dad felt anger and resentment that none of the Carmodys took him in after Anna died. We don’t know how much Jerry did or didn’t know about Anna’s search for a replacement family for him. Maybe he heard all the details, or maybe she gave him only the Cliff Notes version.

Realistically, if you’re a 12-year-old kid about to be orphaned, it doesn’t really matter how good the reasons might be—or not be—for the adults around you not to take you in. All that matters is that you are losing your last parent, and no one wants you. You are feeling unwanted, unloved, and definitely not feeling nurtured! It’s a hard enough age under the best of circumstances—and his certainly weren’t the best!

I don’t know that Jerry had any animosity towards Stocker; he was just a man doing his job. He looked out for Jerry and his interests (assets held until adulthood). He wasn’t family, though, and didn’t make up for them.

Gerald Bauman high school photo. On the back, I’d written “Class of 1945” because that’s what I’d been told. That year needs investigation, though.

Jerry left high school early to join the Army, 5 November 1945 (age 17), and was honorably discharged 12 May 1947. He was awarded his high school diploma 11 June 1947, though he has the programs for all the Commencement activities (19 May-7 June, 1946) and the Honors Convocation held 28 May. He was already in the Army, so couldn’t have attended any of them. Someone must have saved those for him.

He and moved to Detroit shortly after his 1947 graduation. He didn’t keep in touch with the Port Huron Carmodys. Both full brothers had also moved away: Michael to Seattle, and Joseph to Pennsylvania, so he didn’t have a particular reason to stay in Port Huron. Since the three brothers hadn’t been raised together, I don’t know how much they kept in contact with each other as adults. Nor did Jerry reestablish contact with his Carmody half siblings, as an adult. That wound from his youth never fully healed, and was clearly expressed to Mike, as an older teen. His feelings mirror his father’s, in not wanting to connect with the descendants of these families. I’m not sure if that will extend to the Carmody descendants still in Ireland, but I’ll cross that bridge when I actually locate some!

This whole story makes me sad, though. Everyone has lost out, due to this rift. I’m not about to lay blame on anyone—not Anna, not the Carmody relatives, and certainly not Jerry—aged 12 or 40-something. People made the decisions they felt they had to, and were entitled to the feelings they had.

Perhaps as time passes, the emotions will mellow and dissipate. In the meantime, I need to look into getting whatever records might be available from both Starr Commonwealth and the high school. Hopefully, information from one or both institutions will answer lingering questions Mike and his brother may have regarding their dad’s life.

#52Ancestors


¹https://www.google.com/search?q=nurture+definition

²Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013, index and images, accessed 8 March 2019, citing Lucas County, Franklin County Genealogical & Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio, FHL microfilm 004260731, image # 00171, reference ID it 1 p 273 No. 32685, image # 00165 of 333. Frank M. BAUMAN (39) and Anna B. KLAMMER (30); FamilySearch.

³Wayne County, Michigan, Circuit Court, In Chancery, divorce file No. 60,848 (30 March 1918) Anna KLAMMER v. Julius KLAMMER, decree of divorce; Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, Detroit. Copy obtained from estate files of Gerald Bauman.

4“Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925”, database, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch Record Search (https://familysearch.org), accessed 8 May 2019, citing Port Huron, Saint Clair, Michigan, reference n.g., citing FHL microfilm 2342682, image# 534, citing Secretary of State, Department of Vital Records, Lansing. Julius KLAMMER (21) and Anna CARMODY (20).

5“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.familysearch.org), Julius KLAMMER, serial no. 1527, order no. 381, Draft Board Ward 4 Precinct 3, Wayne County, Michigan; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 1,613,195; accessed 8 May 2019. Registered 5 June 1917.

61910 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, Genesee, Flint, e.d. 17; Page 6B; dwelling number 110; family number 121; line 79; Charles A. NORGET household; accessed 12 May 2019. Julius KLAWMER [KLAMMER], age 23, boarder; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 642; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

71930 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, St. Clair, Port Huron, 10 precinct, e.d. 74-41; Page 1B; dwelling number 25; family number 25; line 73; Frank M. BOWMAN [BAUMAN] household; accessed 12 May 2019; NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1025; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

81940 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, St. Clair, Port Huron, ward 10, e.d. 74-29; Page 1B; household number 12; line 42; Anna BAUMAN household; accessed 12 May 2019. Anna BAUMAN, age 52, widowed; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1815; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

Out of Place

“Being lost is worth the being found.” -Neil Diamond

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ancestors and family members end up “out of place” for a wide variety of reasons. It seems mine have have used a good many of them. Sometimes it makes them difficult to find; other times it makes them impossible to locate!

Sometimes we don’t know to look somewhere else until we find their children’s birthplaces. The Kranz brothers (grand uncles, Ed and Adam) hid out farming in Iowa for about six years (In the News). Without later census records showing the Iowa birthplaces for some of their children, I’d never have thought to look there, though. The rest of their lives had been spent in the Chicago area.

The census isn’t always a help, though. I still haven’t located Uncle Iggy Schweiger in the 1920 or 1930 census records (Bachelor Uncle). It just occurred to me that his brother, Leo (Black Sheep), is also AWOL in the 1930 census. Had the brothers thrown in together for a time? Maybe. There’s no family lore to support that, but it might be possible. Of course, Uncle Leo decided to mix it up a bit, by breaking off communication with the family some time after 1942. That is definitely a time-honored way of being “out of place.”

Residing in a different, but nearby, town also makes people hard to find. I knew Jacob Meintzer (my 3rd great grandfather’s brother in Ten) existed, and had a houseful of kids. He wasn’t living in the same town as his brother, though, so it wasn’t until I accidentally ran across him in a neighboring town in the Alsatian census that I could piece him together, better. Whether he emigrated with his family to the Odessa region of Russia is still up for grabs, as is the possibility of later generations emigrating to the Dakotas. His line is still a little bit lost.

A fairly complete database of Civil War soldiers and sailors exists (with that name), so you would think Mike’s Kukler ancestor (Family Legend) would be there. Nothing found under Kukler, nor any of the other surnames married into that line. The military records coughed up a different Kukler — Frank E. — serving during/after the Spanish American War. I have no clue who he is and if/how he connects. So I have someone not where I’m expecting him and another who shouldn’t be in the records. Brilliant!

Sometimes we find someone out of place, but we don’t know the “why” that goes with it. Case in point: Christoph (Grandpa) Meintzer in Arkansas in the 1910s (So Far Away). There’s more to that story, but I don’t know what it is. Without his postcard from Arkansas, I wouldn’t even know there’s a story I’m missing.

Sometimes the “why” shows up later. I was puzzled by the marriage of John Joseph Carmody & Mildred Fitzgerald (Mike’s grandparents) 100 miles away from Port Huron, in Bay City, Michigan. They weren’t teenagers sneaking away from parents. They weren’t traveling to a place with easier marriage requirements. As I learned more about John Joseph’s involvement with transporting harness racing horses (Unusual Source), it made more sense. Numerous newspaper articles and ads had him busy during race season, shuttling the horses around. Of course he wasn’t in Port Huron! Getting married “on the road” may have been their only option, other than waiting until racing season was over. Two days after their wedding, it was announced in the Port Huron Times.

. . . Mr. Carmody went to Bay City this week to attend the race meeting and from there with his bride will go to Alpena.

“Carmody-Marshall,” 15 July 1921, Newspapers.com: accessed 20 September 2018, image number: 209880537; citing original p. 2, col. n.g, para. n.g, entry for Mrs. Mildred B. Marshall and John J. Carmody. Marriage license application notice below it in the column

Then there are the times when I lose my ancestors though my own fault — temporarily, at least — as I did when I misfiled the death certificate of my great-grandfather, Carl Moeller (Youngest). I came across it accidentally while looking for something else, but it was a wake-up call to me, reminding me I need to clean up my physical files. If I don’t know what I have, I don’t know what I need to look for, plain and simple.

Carl and his wife, Elfrieda Jonas Moeller, also ended up “out of place” through the fault of someone else on the Family Search tree (Challenge). Another user had incorrectly picked up Carl & Elfrieda as their similarly-named relatives, dragging my grandmother and her siblings into the whole mess. It took hours, but after confirming that the people they had blended with them were not correct (Drat! Those people had parents’ names!), I moved people around until the connections were correct. I hope they stay that way!

How do I avoid “out of place” situations? I can’t, unfortunately. But I can try to resolve them by:

  • Keep looking. Seriously, persistence sometimes pays off!
  • Search smarter. Use different spellings. Look for the kids. Use age and only the first name. Breaking out of the routine is sometimes effective.
  • Go page-by-page. Sometimes old-school and brute-force is the only way that will work.
  • Go on-site. Some records are not available online, so going in person is what needs to happen.
  • Give it a rest. New databases come online regularly. Sometimes I just need to tackle a different problem and give them a chance to show up.
  • Try a new database. Coupled with the one above, I think I’ve finally managed to acquire death and potential birth dates for Mike’s great-grandfather, Andrew Carmody. I wasn’t finding him in the others I searched.
  • Document everything. If I don’t know what I have, I don’t know where my gaps are.
  • Read every word for the evidence I have. Sometimes there are clues there that are more hidden. Picking just the low-hanging fruit may leave me missing the best!
  • Blog about it. Focusing on one person or family forces me to really look at what I know, and what I don’t know. I notice the gaps I have, and go in search of facts to fill them. Sometimes I find the answers I need, but if not, I still have organized my knowledge, and left myself a summary of where everything stands with that individual or family.
  • Read and watch. Blogs/newsletters/books and webinars. There are a whole lot of smarter/better genealogists our there. I’d be foolish not to learn from them. Sometimes it’ll be an entirely different approach, and other times they are telling me something I already know — but totally forgot about, and needed to be reminded of.

There’s no magic wand for any of this, but my “out of place people” don’t always have to stay lost.

#52Ancestors


Brick Wall

I have many brick walls, some of which you’ve seen. Unfortunately, most are miles away from being solved! With a potential trip to Ireland next year, it seems wise to take a look at one of the brick walls located there.

Mike’s Carmodys come from County Clare, Ireland. In Close Up, I revealed how the history I had for Mike’s grandfather, John J. Carmody, had been wrong, as a result of some incorrect information. Solving the problem of that unknown brick wall unfortunately created a new one!

To recap: I mistakenly had two brothers related as a father-son combo. When that was corrected, I had John J. correctly connected to Michael as a brother, with another potential brother, Patrick. Their father was Andrew Carmody, and mother was Mary Culleeny/Culliny/Culliney. Andrew was actually a fortunate first name, because outside of this family group, I don’t tend to see it (though all three sons named a son “Andrew”). It was much better than John or Patrick!

Unfortunately, besides his name, I don’t have much other information for Andrew Carmody. By the 1901 census, he and Mary seem to have already died. None of the early census records exist. The 1821-1851¹ were destroyed in the 1922 fire in the Public Record Office (a few stray pages survive). The 1861 and 1871¹ were destroyed shortly after they were taken, and the 1881 and 1891¹ were pulped during WWI (there was a paper shortage). So there are no helpful census snapshots of the family with Andrew in it.

Griffith’s valuation finally came online. What’s that? Well, it’s rather like a tax list. It calculated your contribution to support the poor and destitute within the local Poor Law Union. The rate was based on the property and how it was developed. The valuation took place between 1848 and 1864. That’s a perfect time period for Andrew.

When I search for him in County Clare, he appears in Griffith’s here. Snips from the page will make it a little easier to follow:

Griffith’s Valuation, page 169² (with the middle of the page clipped out). The red boxes point out the headings at the top, and Andrew Carmody’s entries: two as an Occupier (14 shillings owed for both), and one as the Lessor (landlord —8 shillings). I don’t know who pays the valuation — the Occupier or the Lessor. The green boxes point out other Carmody entries in the area: Margaret, Thomas, and Ellen. Parish of Drumcliff, The Borheen (heading missing in the snipped section).

It’s interesting to see three entries for him. How do I know all three are the same man? Well, the two as Occupier are, because in the 4th column for lot 29, it says, “see also No. 32.” If they were two distinct individuals, I doubt they would link the entries in that way. The property where Andrew Carmody is the Lessor is adjacent to No. 29. While it could be a different man, it seems unlikely that the only other Andrew Carmody in County Clare (a name search returned only these three results) happens to live next door to property owned by a different Andrew Carmody!

Section of a Griffith’s Valuation map² showing what I believe to be The Borheen area. It is north of the River Fergus. The almost vertical lane to their right is The Borheen (“country lane or rural road”), now called Marian Avenue. The blue arrows point toward the parcels I believe are associated with Andrew Carmody.

Could this NOT be Mike’s great grandfather? Possibly. But with no other Andrews in the county, and him being in the correct parish (Drumcliff) and place (Borheen), it makes a good case in his favor. Ideally, I would be able to find other documents tying him and his family to these properties.

I’m also curious why he is not occupying the property he owns. Perhaps his family had outgrown the house, so he needed to lease a larger one? It would be interesting to know more about Francis Gore (his landlord) — he was the Lessor for a lot of properties! It would also be nice to know who the other three Carmodys were. Quite likely they are related, but I have no clue how.

While it was great finding him (hopefully) in Griffith’s, it didn’t really solve the problem of whether there were other children or who his parents were. Fortunately, the Catholic parish registers have been put online from several sources. Find My Past has some of them available (with images), and some parishes have put the information online, themselves: sometimes indexes only, sometimes images.

Searching through parish records,³ I’ve pieced together a tentative list of the children of Andrew Carmody and Mary Culleeny:

  • Catharine, baptized 27 July 1845
  • Mary, baptized 30 December 1848
  • Ellen, baptized 22 November 1850
  • Anne, baptized 4 July 1853
  • Michael, baptized 18 August 1856
  • Patrick, baptized 14 March 1859
  • John, baptized 24 February 1862

Mike’s grandfather, John Joseph, appears to be the last child. Curiously, though, his birth date as recorded in US documents is mid-August, 1863. The parish baptism index does not include his middle name (or initial). There are no later children for this couple, though. It’s possible that this son, John, died, and they had another son that they named John Joseph, 15-16 August 1863. I don’t have access to death records to test that theory, but I need to look for possible evidence of that.

Similarly, there was a Mary Carmody, baptized 18 February 1843 to an Andrew and a Mary Collins. Granted, Collins seems a long way from Culleeny (or any of her spelling variations), but it’s actually closer than one would think. No other Carmody fathers are named Andrew in the index, and no other Carmody children born to a Mary Collins — married to an Andrew, or not.

So it’s possible this Mary is also one of their children — the first one, perhaps. Since there is clearly another Mary born in 1848, if that is the case, the first Mary must have died before then. Further research looking at the actual documents (rather than a transcription) is necessary to assess who the 1843 Mary belongs to.

Their marriage date is still up in the air. The parish marriage index³ shows only one Andrew Carmody. He has a marriage date of 27 July 1840. That date fits with the other information I have (children’s births — even the potential “extra Mary.” Unfortunately, the bride is listed as “Mary Carmody.” Sometimes same-named couples marry (related or not), but sometimes the person filling in the register/certificate — or the transcriber — makes a mistake. For some reason the bride’s maiden name isn’t recorded, so the married surname is used in its place. While this index entry is an encouraging lead, looking at the actual record might solve the dilemma.

Additionally, the index doesn’t tell us their ages or their parents’ names. Is that information included in the original? Maybe. That’s another reason to view the original! If I can’t locate images online, I may need to see if I can get access to them when we travel there. I don’t have death dates for Andrew or Mary. Those might point me to birth dates (and parents?) for them.

As I looked for “my” (well, Mike’s) Carmodys, I stumbled across all sorts of other ones nearby. Are they related? Maybe. I don’t know if Andrew had siblings — if so, their records might point me to parents. They could also be cousins. But how to keep track of them, with stray children, marriages, and so on? How do I figure out their connections (or lack of) to each other? I decided I needed to spin off a separate “working file” just for the Carmodys. I can enter Carmody data as I find it, without cluttering my own file. It lets me deal with them in a contained environment. When I get them sorted out, I can transfer the ones I need back to my regular file.

This brick wall is still pretty solid . . . Bummer. I need to keep chipping away at it, and checking for new record sets to come online to help break through it.

#52Ancestors


¹National Archives of Ireland, “Census of Ireland 1901/1911 and Census Fragments and Substitutes, 1821-51”, database, The National Archives of Ireland (http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/help/history.html), paragraph 3.

²”Griffith’s Valuation, 1847-1864″, database, AskAboutIreland.ie, Ask About Ireland (http://griffiths.askaboutireland.ie), General Valuation, p. 169, for Andrew CARMODY, occupier, The Borheen, Ennis (town), Lifford (townland), Drumcliff (parish), Ennis (union), Islands (barony), County Clare, accessed 7 April 2019.

³https://www.ennisparish.com/genealogy/     Search on “carmody” in the surname field, click submit. List of 

Bearded

To shave, or not to shave . . .

I was not terribly excited about this prompt, because I had zero ideas about what to write about. We don’t have any Amish in our trees, and offhand I couldn’t think of anyone with a beard. Mike’s 18-day beard when we went camping in the Pacific Northwest in 1998 (he decided to take a vacation from shaving) wasn’t particularly noteworthy. I don’t think we have a photo record of it, either.

His beard was kind of nice, and had grown out past the awkward and uncomfortable stage—itchy for him and rough/scratchy for me. But he shaved it off when we got home. As soon as we got home. That afternoon—not the next morning. No warning to me. No chance to say goodbye to it. I was in the yard picking up the mail from the neighbor and talking about the trip, when he walks out with a naked face! There aren’t even words.

So yeah, no story there. A couple weeks of working on other posts intervened. It finally occurred to me that Christian Meintzer did have a beard, but he’s already had quite a bit of press in the blog (My Favorite Photo and Colorful), and I don’t have any particular story about him and his beard. Cousins, feel free to help out!

So I’m going to cheat and back off to just a mustache. A number of them hang around our trees;

John Carmody portrait 1906
Photo ca. 1906 probably provided by him to The Port Huron Daily Herald for an article written about him 2 March 1906

some you’ve seen before. The first is John Joseph Carmody, Mike’s paternal grandfather. You meet him in Unusual Source. As I mentioned then, I don’t know that much about him, and certainly don’t know any stories about his mustache. But his photo from the paper is just to awesome to pass up!

Another mustache, attached to my great-grandfather, Carl Moeller, was from the same turn-of-the-century era. My mom remembers this grandfather’s handlebar mustache when she was growing up, and she said he had a mug with a bar across the bottom edge to keep his mustache dry when he was drinking coffee. When I see one of those in an antique stop, my mind immediately goes to him! He’s the 2nd from the left of the men in the foreground, below.

Carl Moeller Northbrook photo_0001

From the photos I have seen, my grandfather, Christoph Meintzer, never sported a mustache, but his older brother, Jacob, seemed to. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to put my hands on one of Uncle Jake’s photos.

I don’t recall my dad or any of my uncles having mustaches, but I vividly remember a time when all three of my brothers were mustachioed. It was the 1970s, so that explains a lot! Several cousins had them, also—some never giving them up.

1975 dad and sons
1974-1976? Warren, Bob, Dad and Bill in front of the house we kids grew up in. Three mustaches and one not. This is a fairly rare image of Warren with a mustache.

I must be getting old, because it seems one memory begets another. As I wrote this, I suddenly remembered my oldest brother, Bob, coming home for our oldest sister, Carole, getting married in May, 1969. I was at school when Mom picked him up at O’Hare . . . with hair down to his shoulders, and a full beard. She was not at all pleased. I don’t know what discussion went on, but by the time I got home from school, his hair was shorter and the beard trimmed up. Mom was visibly happier!

1969 May 31 Mom & Bob
31 May 1969 Mom and Bob, at Carole’s wedding.

Beards and mustaches aren’t particularly important in the grand scheme of things. We sometimes get so caught up in the stories of our people, that we ignore the littler stories behind the stories. Often those are as interesting—or more mysterious—than bigger issues in their lives. Were they

  • Following the fashion of the time?
  • Rebelling?
  • Taking on a dare?
  • Trying to be taken more seriously in their profession?

Most of the time we will never know, but it’s interesting to look for possible patterns. And we need to save those photos for blackmail, later!

#52Ancestors

Unusual Source

Sometimes I find people in odd places . . .

John Carmody portrait 1906
Photo ca. 1906 probably provided by him to The Port Huron Daily Herald for an article written about him 2 March 1906

John Joseph Carmody is Mike’s paternal grandfather. Due to some odd circumstances (Where There’s a Will), he did not raise Mike’s father. John died in 1940—he’s been gone a long time.

When I started researching Mike’s tree, I had little information, so tackled the records with easiest access—censuses. I located John with these occupations in:

  • 1900—horse trainer¹
  • 1910—soliciting agency²—what did that mean?
  • 1920—master transportation, Michigan Short Ship Circuit³

Say what? That last string of words meant nothing to me. It could have been Greek. I wrote it down, but had no clue. If you remember in Close Up, I mentioned the fateful trip to Port Huron that blew apart the faulty tree I had constructed for Mike. Knowing John’s death date, I had requested the microfilm of the local paper at the county library, hoping to find his obituary. That was the lovely record4 unraveling the family.

But that wasn’t the only information in the obituary, which was surprisingly lengthy and was located on the front page—also unexpected. I learned he:

  • had a nickname—”Racetrack Jack”
  • “was founder of the Michigan Short Ship Trotting circuit
  • “was one of the outstanding authorities on trotting horses in Michigan”
  • became “a master of transportation for the racehorse circuit and his ‘Carmody Special’ became known throughout the United States”

Wow!

I know you’re thinking, “Census records and newspaper articles aren’t unusual sources!” No, they aren’t. You know how every once in a while you get bored and Google your own name (to see how many “yous” are out there), or old boy/girlfriends? Well, genealogists do that with our dead people. Sometimes with our live people, too. New sources show up online, or someone creates a new web site for their genealogy. You never quite know what, if anything, you’ll find.

So on a boring Thursday afternoon, 10 November 2016, I decided to see if there was anything new for John Joseph Carmody—particularly as it related to horse or harness racing. I don’t remember what my search terms were, but I ended up with many results I could clearly see were “not him.” Most of them I didn’t even click into.

Then I saw one for The Horse Review, in Google Books, of all places! Oh, what the heck! I clicked on it and discovered it was an ebook, accessible for free. Naturally, I clicked through again and found myself in the Horse Review 23 April 1901 vol 26 page 421 (yes, you can click on the link and go there yourself). It was a little article in the lower right corner talking about the upcoming racing season in Michigan, mentioning John by name, and talking about his special train.

The Horse Review (I’ve since learned) was a weekly newspaper published from 1885-1932 about the standardbred harness horse. It was the place to go if you were looking for that kind of news. A more recent search also turned up this page: Horse Review 17 June 1902 vol 26 page 648. It had an ad for the upcoming (1902) season at the bottom of the page, again mentioning that John Carmody was in charge of transporting the horses by rail (lower left corner). The idea was to not only entice spectators to the track, but also to encourage potential contestants to sign up their horses and drivers.

Why do I care about this relatively obscure periodical? It’s not telling me anything momentous. I already learned about this activity of John’s from the census records and his obituary. Remember, though, that obituaries are frequently written by (or the information provided by) family members. There’s always the potential for embellishment, or just flat-out mistakes. So while I love the details in the obituary, having an unbiased source to corroborate that information is extremely useful.

Prepping for this blog post, I did further newspaper searching for John. He was all over the Port Huron papers from 1901-1921. Sometimes it was an article about

  • the upcoming season
  • which horses were coming in for a set of races
  • his travels in and out of town, dealing with race business
  • the horses he’d arranged to come in for the race (now the “soliciting agency” occupation in 1910 makes more sense!)
  • occasionally it was about a birth, death, or marriage in the family, but those were the minority

It would have been easy to blow off the Horse Review search result when I first saw it, but I’m so glad I took the time to check it out. I love discovering the little everyday bits and pieces that round people out. While they sometimes raise other questions, we get a much clearer picture of the person and his or her life. We—and they—are so much more than just a birth and death date.

#52Ancestors


¹1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, St. Clair, Port Huron Ward 7, e.d. 103; Page 16B; dwelling number 371; family number 378; line 99; John CARMODY [PARMODY] household; accessed 21 September 2018. John CARMODY [PARMODY], age 37; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 742; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, St. Clair, Port Huron Ward 7, e.d. 115; Page 14B; dwelling number 360; family number 365; line 64; John J. CARMODY household; accessed 21 September 2018. John J. CARMODY, age 47; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 673; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, St. Clair, Port Huron Ward 7, e.d. 123; page 5A; dwelling number 95; family number 98; line 15; John J. CARMODY household; accessed 21 Septermber 2018. John J. CARMODY, age 56; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 795; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

4“John Carmody Dies Thursday,” 5 January 1940, Newspapers.com: accessed 22 September 2018, record number: n.g.; citing original p. 1 col. 5 below photo, entry for John CARMODY, The Port Huron Times Herald, Port Huron, Michigan, online archive (http://www.newspapers.com).

 

 

Close Up

We don’t always know what we think we know.

The Internet can be a wonderful place. It corrals huge amounts of information (and sometimes misinformation!) for us, making it instantly retrievable–as long as my Comcast connection doesn’t go down. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always have the answers, and sometimes we have to get closer to the records, or closer to where the event occurred, to find the information we need. Or to correct the misinformation we acquired. That was the case with my husband’s grandfather, John Joseph Carmody (Where There’s a Will). I knew a bit about him:

  • he was born in Ireland and emigrated to Canada
  • he had two wives; my husband descended from the second–Mildred B. Fitzgerald
  • some of his children with Elizabeth (1st wife) were born in Canada, the rest in Michigan
  • in Canada he worked for a railroad, and at a later point, he ran the “travel camp” near the lighthouse in Port Huron.

But it was the late 1980s, and with small children, I couldn’t actively work on genealogy. We were also 6 hours away from Port Huron. However, my brother-in-law made contact with the Carmody family, and was invited to a reunion an hour or so away. He went, had a good time, and reported back to his mom (my mother-in-law), who shared the information with me. Best case scenario, I was getting 3rd hand information, none of it written down. We all know how the game of “telephone” goes. The story I heard was:

  • John Joseph’s first wife died, he remarried a younger woman with a couple children
  • they had more children, Jerry, my father-in-law, being the last
  • Mildred (2nd wife) died shortly after Jerry’s birth and he was adopted by an Aunt–Anna Carmody Bauman (Where There’s a Will).

From documents Mike inherited from Jerry, I knew Anna’s parents were Michael Carmody and Mary Whalen (Anna’s Irish birth certificate), and those matched the parents’ names on John Joseph’s death certificate (http://cdm16317.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16317coll1/id/1463050/rec/93) . So the two documents tied together with the story I’d heard. Anna was born a Carmody, so if she was an aunt, she was John Joseph’s sister, meaning the two of them needed the same parents. Everything was peachy, and I blithely continued looking for Carmodys in County Clare, as well as the US and Canadian census records, as they became available. There were just a few unresolved issues:

  • John Joseph was 20 years older than Anna. That’s not necessarily a “real” issue, since we are talking about an Irish Catholic family. My grandfather’s oldest full sister was 20 years older, and they were Alsatian and Lutheran! I could live with that age gap for siblings.
  • I didn’t have a birth or death date for Michael Carmody. We had the note Anna received from someone in Ireland (no signature or return address) informing her of her father’s death, and enclosing a newspaper obituary. The clipping has no date, and the stamp and postmark were torn off the envelope. Michael was 68 years old, but without some sort of date, his death can’t be placed properly. I don’t think the Irish census records were online, yet.
  • John Joseph and Mildred’s marriage information lists his parents as Andrew Carmody and Mary Callereny. However, that came from a volunteer lookup for us, and the register itself was a transcript of the original records. Ample opportunity for possible errors there.

So with other, seemingly solid, evidence, I deferred those doubts–particularly the last one. Then we decided to visit my husband’s aunts in Detroit. Mike suggested we could drive to Port Huron, so I could research for a day. He and the kids would do something else while I was at the county library. I jumped at the chance, and made use of the obituary card file, and whatever else I could find (one branch of his mom’s side was also from that area). Then I requested the microfilm to look up John Joseph’s actual obituary. Since I had a death date, it wasn’t hard to find.

I learned he left the railroad job because he “didn’t like trains cuttin’ buttons off my coat.” I learned more about his involvement with harness racing–using trains to transport the horses from one track to the next. Then came the bombshell. In the survivor list, there she was: “. . . his nieces, Anna Bauman, Lena Haynes . . . ” Niece. Not sister. My jaw dropped to the floor. The room started to spin. My brain scrambled frantically, trying to fathom how much damage this caused in my data file. Even worse–that file was 343 miles away, on my desktop computer at home! It would be days before I could access it and see where everything stood. When my husband picked me up, I was raving like a madwoman how that whole branch was totally messed up.

You may be thinking, “Big deal. You made a mistake.” Not quite. A “mistake” is a typo, a wrong date or place (usually because the record(s) have it that way), or misunderstanding what the record or document is actually saying. However much a genealogist tries to prevent it, we make mistakes–and hopefully correct them. This was a MISTAKE. Connecting people together correctly is the most important task. When that’s wrong, the research we do is based on a faulty relationship, sending us down incorrect paths and wasting time.

Of course I detached John Joseph from his “father,” Michael, when I got home. But it was important that I understood how I got it wrong, and specifically which record or piece of information. I needed to leave an explanation about what part of that information was incorrect, so someone else didn’t make the same mistake.

Obviously the bit about being adopted by an aunt was wrong–Anna was Jerry’s older cousin. I can’t say for sure if “aunt” was what was told to my brother-in-law, or if it was garbled on its way to me. I’ll never know, but I do know it’s incorrect.

John Joseph’s marriage info is probably correct, after all. People getting married are providing their own information, and most people know who their parents are. So I am comfortable with Andrew and Mary Callereny being his parents.

How did the death certificate get messed up? That’s because John Joseph, Michael, and another (probable) brother, Patrick, each named a son after their father, Andrew! One was still in Ennis, Ireland, but the other two–close in age–lived in Port Huron, Michigan. Apparently Michael’s son, Andrew (a nephew), was the informant for the death certificate, not John Joseph’s son, as would be expected. His relationship isn’t stated, only an address. That might have helped me realize he wasn’t John Joseph’s son, but the 1940 census wasn’t released, yet, so I couldn’t use that as a cross-check. I drew the most logical conclusion at the time, which unfortunately was wrong! Of course, if Andrew had understood the question, and given his uncle’s parents, instead of his own, he’d have saved me a lot of angst!

I still feel stress when I think about this episode. If I hadn’t decided to get “close up” and look for that obituary, I’m not sure if or when I would have realized my error. As more census records have come available, I have been able to confirm my new conclusions. But would I have believed them if I hadn’t found the obituary clearly identifying Anna as a niece? I’m not so sure. I’m just glad I didn’t settle for, “His obituary is not going to tell me anything I don’t already know!”

#52Ancestors

Where There’s a Will

I really haven’t done much with wills. Well, I’ve written two (though the “sound mind” clause always makes me a little nervous!), but as part of my genealogy research, not so much. That’s due to a combination of reasons:

  • I didn’t have a specific research question that a will would have helped answer
  • I come from a long line of peasants–no money to speak of, so mostly no wills
  • Not living near the places where I would need to look up a will
  • Not having other family members particularly interested in genealogy and wanting to make a research trip with me
  • Having a limited budget (i.e.: fairly non-existent) for either the trip or hiring someone local to the will to look it up

In fact, I’ve come in contact with only two wills in all this time, both on Mike’s side. One was for a maternal great-grandfather, Patrick Nolan. The paperwork from his probate packet was microfilmed, but unfortunately, the microfilm printer at the courthouse was broken, so all I could do was read and take notes. It was before digital cameras, so that wasn’t an option either. It was interesting reading, but no amazing revelations, either.

The other will is a photocopy of the actual will for his father’s adoptive mother, Anna Carmody Bauman. It provides the only documentation of the in-the-family adoption that took place. I never met my father-in-law. He died while Mike was in college. Mike and I knew each other, but hadn’t started dating, yet. After Jerry died, his 2nd wife packed up his paperwork & memorabilia and gave them to Mike, as the oldest child. The 1940 will was included in that.

Jerry was the youngest child of John Joseph Carmody and Mildred B. Fitzgerald. It was a 2nd marriage for both. John’s first wife had died, and their 8 children were mostly grown, when he and Mildred married. Mildred was 29 years younger than he, and had two young children. I haven’t determined if her first husband, Gordon Marshall, had died, or if they had divorced. Regardless, John and Mildred went on to have a “2nd family” of three boys: Michael, Joseph, and Jerry. Even though Mildred was only 37, she somehow developed a lung infection in the weeks after Jerry’s birth. She was hospitalized and never recovered.

That left John, age 66, with a 6-year old, a 3-year-old, and a newborn (plus two step-children)! I don’t think it was an era of a lot of hands-on parenting for men back then. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure he hadn’t changed diapers or done 2 A.M. feedings–and probably didn’t want to start. In fact, by the 1930 census, John is living without any children, managing the Port Huron Lighthouse travel camp. I’m not sure where the others were living.

Jerry’s baby book was mostly empty, but had an entry in the “Baby’s First Outing” section:

“Baby went out for the first time on the 12th day of September 1928, with Mrs. Hart when Millie was taken sick and stayed there until after the Funeral of Millie the 16th of Sept. and then Nano took[e] him Home for always.”

I don’t know who Mrs. Hart was–my guess is a neighbor–and I assume “Nano” was a nickname for Anna. We have no adoption paperwork, but at least the entry corroborates what Mike had heard from his dad. The 1930 census also lists him as “adopted son” for Frank & Anna. I’m not sure how adoption by a family member would have been handled then in Michigan. My guess is that it would still be considered closed, with records unavailable.

1930 CARMODY John J Michael Jerry
John Joseph Carmody with sons Michael (left) and Jerry (right). Despite being raised by Anna & Frank, he apparently saw them on occasion. I estimate this to be in 1930 or 1931, based on Jerry (age 2 or 3?). This is the only photo we have of his dad.

Anna’s husband, Frank, died in 1936 from colon cancer. Anna died 4 years later, in 1940, with Jerry’s birth father, John Joseph Carmody, having died in January that same year. Fortunately, Anna’s will survived, giving confirmation that Jerry was born a Carmody:

” . . . I give, devise and bequeath all my estate, real, personal, or mixed wherever situated to my beloved son (adopted) Gerald Bauman (formerly Gerald Carmody) . . .”

I’m extremely grateful she made the effort to leave a clear trail to the Carmody surname. I’m not sure we would be able to find it out, otherwise.

#52Ancestors