Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Six

I'm actually pretty impressed that this blog has been around six years - eons in internet time.  As the years go by, I seem to have less and less time for posting and never enough time for genealogy research - but I still love both, even more so than I did six years ago.

This space doesn't really reflect all the research I've done over the past year, and it has been plentiful.  One project in particular, which is still ongoing, has been quite the journey.  I'm not at the end of the road yet, but when I'm done I look forward to writing about it here.  No matter the outcome, I am grateful for the experience because I've been forced to look in some really unconventional places for records, break out of my research comfort zone (on numerous occasions), and order records I really wasn't sure I wanted (because of what I knew would be in them).  In short, I really feel like I've faced my "genealogy fears" this year.

Some other pretty excellent things have happened this year, including: finding a newspaper clipping which mentions where my great-great-grandparents honeymooned; getting my great-grandfather's military record from Italy; the Pennsylvania death certificates being added to Ancestry; uploading my father's 23andMe results to FamilyTreeDNA; and more than anything else, learning the names of my great-grandmother's parents,  Matteo D'Accia and Maria Mattia Di Milo (I just love being able to write that).

I could set goals and plans and say I'll post here more, but I really can't promise that.  Instead it is enough, for now, to know this space is here.  In the meantime I still love reading all the other genealogy blogs out there, gaining inspiration and insights I wouldn't have without them.  To anyone still reading here, thank you, and if you have a genealogy blog of your own, chances are I'm happily following.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

128 Greats

I've lately refocused some more attention on the genetic aspect of genealogy.  It is just as fascinating, impressive, frustrating and confusing as ever.  Since most of my matches are around the 5th cousin mark, I thought it would be a good idea to make a list of my 128 4th great-grandparents and where they lived in terms of current geography (these are mostly my ancestors alive in the 18th Century):

Paternal:
Allan/Allen (Scotland or Ireland)
Beam (New Jersey, USA; Ontario, Canada after Revolutionary War)
Bell (New Jersey, USA; Ontario, Canada after Revolutionary War)
Boon (Somerset, England)
Clements (Ireland)
Croad (Dorset, England)
D'Accia (likely Puglia, Italy)
Di Milo (likely Puglia, Italy)
Gibbons (Dorset, England)
Horton (Ontario, Canada; likely New York, USA pre-Revolutionary War)
Lapiccirella (likely Puglia, Italy)
Montgomery (N. Ireland)
Old (Dorset, England)
Rendle (Dorset or Somerset, England)
Rogers (Dorset, England)
Scarano (likely Puglia, Italy)
Shepstone/Shipton/Shipston (Somerset, England)
Shoe/Shew (Somerset, England)
Stokes (Somerset, England)
Tizzard/Tyzzard/Tissard (Dorset, England)
Williamson (N. Ireland)
Wood (Ireland, N. Ireland)

That is 22 names out of a possible 64.  Of those 42 unknowns, 28 are from my Italian grandmother's side.

Maternal:
Asay (New Jersey, USA)
Barger/Berger (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany)
Brunner (Canton Bern, Switzerland)
Buhler (Canton Bern, Switzerland)
Chapple/Chaple/Chappel (likely Virginia, USA)
Collins (Rhode Island to Massachusetts to Vermont to New York, USA)
Doyle (unknown, Vermont, USA as of 1810)
Ellis (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Gibson (Lincolnshire, England)
Haley/Healy/Healey (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Harris (Virginia, USA)
Herbert (New Jersey, USA)
Hilton (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Hudson (Virginia, USA)
Jackman (New Hampshire, USA)
Leet/Leete (unknown, Indiana, USA by 1820)
Lester/Luster/Laster/Louster (likely Virginia, USA)
Kupper/Kupher (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany)
Mason (unknown, likely North Carolina, USA)
Matz (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany)
Mott (New York, USA)
Nielsen (unknown, Denmark or Germany)
Petersen (unknown, Denmark or Germany)
Rose (New York, USA)
Schmoker (Canton Bern, Switzerland)
Scott (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Shinn (New Jersey, USA)
Smith x2 (New York, USA)
Swena/Swaney/Sweeney (Connecticut, USA)
Tock (Lincolnshire, England)
vonAllmen (Canton Bern, Switzerland)
Wadd (Lincolnshire, England)
Webb (unknown, Indiana, USA by 1820)
Wellons/Wellens (Virginia, USA)

That is 35 out of a possible 64.  In all, 57 of a total 128 surnames are thought to be known.  I'm hoping to update this as I make breakthroughs.

One thing that has become clear is that I made a huge false assumption with many of my matches.  Oddly, the majority of my matches have always been centered in the southern portion of the US.  Since I only have, on paper, one maternal great-grandparent with southern roots, I always thought these matches were through her line.  However, when I recently uploaded my father's 23andMe results to FamilyTreeDNA, I was surprised to see that many of those matches were actually also matches of his.  I certainly have my work cut out for me - good thing it is such fun "work!"

Friday, July 11, 2014

52 Ancestors: Dr. Albert J. Berger (#15)

If you look at my family tree you'll see mostly farmers and field hands, some factory workers, miners, and a couple ministers.  But, as far as I have yet found, only one medical doctor - and that would be Albert Jacob Berger.  Albert, in addition to his interesting career, also led an interesting life - beginning with his birth.

Early Life
Albert was born near Essen, Germany on 4 December, 1877.  His parents, Americans by birth, were there doing missionary work for the German Evangelical Association (related to the Methodist Church).  Albert was the fourth of John W. and Susanna vonAllmen Berger's ten known children.

When he was about a year old, the family returned to their native Indiana and settled in South Bend in time for the 1880 US Census.  Three years later the family again moved, this time to Wabash.

When Albert was about ten the family left Indiana.  Albert's father's health was failing so they relocated to Los Angeles, California.  For whatever reason, Los Angeles proved to be unsuitable and the family again moved after two years.  Arriving in Oakland around 1890, the family finally found a place to put down roots.  However, one important member of the family would not be around to see the Bergers prosper in their new home.  Albert's father died a few days after Albert's fourteenth birthday.

The next record I have for Albert is the 1895 Oakland city directory, in which he still living at the family home and is a student.  Two years later, Albert is at the same address but working as a clerk for H. D. Kellogg & Co. (a drug store).

On 17 June, 1898, President McKinley signed into law a bill establishing a US Navy Hospital Corps.  That same day, Albert enlisted to serve in the Spanish-American War.  I know from a newspaper article that he was sent to the Philippines but I know nothing beyond that.  He left the Hospital Corps a year later, in 1899.  In 1925 Albert applied for, and received, a pension for this service.

Albert continues to appear in Oakland city directories (and the 1900 US Census) at the same address.  By the time of the 1902 directory, Albert is again listed as a student and this time I know what he was studying.

In 1904 Albert graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of San Francisco.  Around 1907, Albert became the proprietor of Hornung's Pharmacy (later it became just his office) in San Francisco.

Later Life
The later years of Albert's life are less known to me and information is rather spotty to find.  In 1910, Albert is enumerated in San Francisco along with a wife, Minnie, who he had married in 1905.  I have no other information on Minnie, or this marriage.

The next decade or so Albert spent as the ship surgeon for various steamships travelling the Pacific.  What time he spent in the US, seems to have been back in Oakland.  I find no other mention of Minnie and by 1925, Albert is married to Alma.  Also around this time, Albert and Alma relocated back to San Francisco.  Albert would spend the last years of his life there, dying from chronic bronchitis on 10 February, 1934.  His obituary mentions that he was a member of the Nelson A. Miles Camp No. 10, U.S.W.V. (United Spanish War Veterans) of San Francisco.

To Find
There are some records and information related to Albert I'd like to find:

  • His marriage records to both Minnie and Alma
  • A record of him in both the 1920 and 1930 US Census
  • His pension application (NARA doesn't have it so I'll have to do a FOIA request to the VA)
  • Information on the Nelson A. Miles Camp No. 10
  • His death record
  • Burial location (I want to know if he is with his parents in the Berger plot at Mountain View Cemetery)
(This is an entry in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge hosted by No Story Too Small)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

52 Ancestors: Florence P. Berger (#14)

L-R: Susanna vonAllmen Berger, Gideon G. Berger
and Florence P. Berger.  Circa 1917, Oakland, CA.
When I first began researching my family tree I asked my grandmother for information on her branches.  Among the things she told me was that her father's sister, Florence, had been dropped as an infant and was mentally handicapped because of it.

 Whether this is true or not, I do not know.  I do think Florence did have some sort of handicap however.  Family members always mentioned Florence in letters.  The tone paints a picture of Florence as a kind, thoughtful and well loved family member, albeit one who seems to be treated/referred to in a very childlike manner.

BIRTH
Florence was born in Los Angeles, California on 11 June, 1890.  She was the youngest of John W. and Susanna vonAllmen Berger's ten known children.  Her family had come to the area a few years earlier due to John's poor health.  Not long after Florence's birth, the family moved north, to Oakland, Alameda, California where they remained.  Florence's father died there when Florence was a year and a half old.

CENSUS
When Florence was nine, she was enumerated in the 1900 US Census.  She was living in Oakland with her mother and siblings and was attending school.

Ten years later, in the 1910 US Census, Florence is still living with her mother, as well as her brother Jesse, and sister, Madeline, in Oakland.  Florence is enumerated as being able to read and write.

Still in Oakland in 1920, Florence's brother Jesse, has become the head of the household.  Their mother, Susanna, is also still living with them.  The household is the same in 1930 as well.

In 1940, Florence has moved to nearby Berkeley and is living with her sister, Madeline, and nephew. The box for highest education level is left blank for Florence.

LIFE EVENTS
Florence's 41st birthday was a memorable one, though for a sad reason.  Her mother, Susanna, died on that day in 1932.

Unlike Florence's siblings and mother, she never seems to have registered to vote.  She also never seems to have had an occupation, and appears sporadically through city directories.  She also appears to have not lived on her own.

Florence died in Alameda County, California on 11 August 1962.  Where specifically and from what, I do not know.

There are many things about Florence I would like to know.  Ordering her death certificate would probably answer some of these questions, but I am waiting to see if Alameda Co. death records get released online first (Alameda Co. vital records are very expensive).

Also on my list is calling Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland to see if she is buried in the Berger family plot there.

(This is an entry in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge hosted by No Story Too Small)