Ralph Lowry: A Fisher(y) of Men

In my quest to document the life of Ralph Lowry, my first cousin, 3x removed and the U.S. Government’s chief engineer on many Western dam projects, I found this newspaper article posted above.

In part, it reads that in 1949, a plaque was placed at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery to recognize Ralph’s part in the creation of the fishery. Located about 35 miles from the Shasta Dam project that Ralph also built, the hatchery was created because the dam impacted the ability of the salmon to reach their natural spawning grounds.

Thanks to the power of the internet, I emailed Brett Galyean, the Acting Project Leader who runs the hatchery, to inquire about the plaque. He provided these two photos, showing the plaque next to the flag pole in front of the match hatchery building and a close-up.

My thanks to Brett for the extra effort. Another piece of Lowry history found!

“Plaque Honors S.M. Engineer,” The [San Mateo, CA] Times, 22 Dec 1949, pg 7, col 1; digital image, (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 14 Aug 2016), Newspapers.com

Brett Galyean, Coleman National Fish Hatchery, Anderson, California, [e-mail for private use], to Joseph Lowry, 16 Aug 2016, “Plaque at Coleman Hatchery,” Local Folders: Genealogy : Lowry Genealogy; privately held by Joe Lowry, [e-mail &address for private use], Sterling, VA, 20165.

Census Sunday – The Rabe Family in 1910

The amazing thing about genealogy is that sometimes a record that seems so minor to your larger family history can lead to connections across multiple families and fill so many blanks. Such is the case of the Rabe family of Topeka, Kansas.

Late in the night, when I tend to lose focus on my research, I bounce from ancestor to ancestor, adding records to my family tree as I stumble upon them. One record collection I was aware of but hadn’t searched in sometime was the “United States, Obituaries, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1899-2012″ collection on Familysearch.org. As my Porubsky and Schulmeister ancestors are Volga Germans, I did a simple surname search for Porubsky. In the process, I located the obituary of Catherine Porubsky (Reeb).


In reading the names in this record, I instantly recognized Porubsky and Schwerdt. Reeb sounded familar, but my Topeka relatives were Rabes, not Reebs. Catherine Rabe was in my family tree, married to Matthew Porubsky, but she lacked parents in my database. In fact, I had three Rabes in my tree and they all lacked parents.

  • Catherine E. Rabe was married to Matthew G. Porubsky
  • Elizabeth B. Rabe was married to Joseph A. Schulmeister
  • Joseph Rabe was married to Caroline Schulmeister

The three Rabes lived in Topeka and were born within 15 years of each other. The original obituary named a sister Pauline, but no other siblings. Could they be related? I set to find out! I knew she was born in 1901 to John and Catherine, who were born in Russia. From other record sources, I also knew that Elizabeth was born in 1889 and Joseph in 1887. I located a Rabe family in the 1910 United States Census. The details I previously had confirmed from later census and marriage records fit well with this 1910 record.

The three Rabes in my family tree were siblings, and each had married into the family of my ancestors, making them my 3rd great aunts and uncles.


State: Kansas
County: Kearny
Township: Lakin
Name of Incorporated Place:
Ward of the City:
Enumerated by me on the 2nd of May
Henry H. Cochran, Enumerator

Supervisor’s District: 7
Enumeration District: 83
Sheet No. 9A

Dwelling No. 199
Family No. 200

Address: Unknown (not listed)

Rabe, John, head, male, white, 45 years old, 1st marriage, married 25 years. Born in Russ German. Father born in Russ German. Mother born in Russ German. Immigrated in 1900. Has applied for citizenship and has his first papers (Pa.). Speaks German. Works as a tenant farmer working on his own account (meaning, not an employee or employer). Is not out of work; out of work 0 weeks in prior year. Can read: No. Can write: No. Rents the farm, which is found on Agriculture Schedule 81.1

” Katie, wife, female, white, 45 years old, 1st marriage, married 25 years. 12 children born, 9 still living. Born in Russ German. Father born in Russ German. Mother born in Russ German. Immigrated in 1900. Speaks German. Not employed. Can read: No. Can write: No.

” Joe, son, male, white, 22 years old, single. Born in Russ German. Father born in Russ German. Mother born in Russ German. Immigrated in 1900. Speaks German. Employed as a laborer in the beet fields. Can read: Yes. Can write: Yes.

” Anna, daughter, female, white, 17 years old, single. Born in Russ German. Father born in Russ German. Mother born in Russ German. Immigrated in 1900. Speaks German. Employed as a laborer in the beet fields. Can read: Yes. Can write: Yes. Attended school anytime since September 1, 1909: Yes.

” Frank, son, male, white, 11 years old, single. Born in Russ German. Father born in Russ German. Mother born in Russ German. Immigrated in 1900. Speaks German. Employed as a laborer in the beet fields. Can read: No. Can write: No. Attended school anytime since September 1, 1909: Yes.

” Elizabeth, daughter, female, white, 10 years old, single. Born in Russ German. Father born in Russ German. Mother born in Russ German. Immigrated in 1900. Speaks German. Employed as a laborer in the beet fields. Can read: No. Can write: No. Attended school anytime since September 1, 1909: Yes.

” Katie, daughter, female, white, 8 years old, single. Born in Kansas. Father born in Russ German. Mother born in Russ German. Not employed. Attended school anytime since September 1, 1909: Yes.

” Jacob, son, male, white, 6 years old, single. Born in Colorado. Father born in Russ German. Mother born in Russ German. Not employed. Attended school anytime since September 1, 1909: No.

” Mary, daughter, female, white, 4 years old, single. Born in Colorado. Father born in Russ German. Mother born in Russ German. Not employed.

” Pauline, daughter, female, white, 2 years old, single. Born in Kansas. Father born in Russ German. Mother born in Russ German. Not employed.

1. “Catherine Porubsky,” The Topeka Capital Journal, 22 Sep 1992, pg 3D; “United States, Obituaries, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1899-2012,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-42560-12683-35?cc=2367299 : 14 August 2015), 100415107 > image 7336 of 8998; American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Lincoln.

2. 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Kearny County, Lakin, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 83, sheet 9A, dwelling 199, family 200, household of John Rabe; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 August 2016), FHL microfilm 1374454, citing NARA publication  T624_441.

The Porubsky-Schulmeister Nuptials

“Twenty-one year old Carl Porubsky, the son of Mathias and Christina Vogelman Porubsky was wed today to eighteen-year old Elizabeth Schulmeister in a family ceremony at Saint Joseph German Catholic Church in Topeka.”

If I was writing a wedding announcement for these two, it would probably start out with my just-the-facts manner before devolving into a mess of a discussion about roses, 3-button suits, and broaches. Alas, I am not the writer of wedding announcements. This picture was taken on Karl and Lizzie’s wedding day, Sunday, 26 August 1906.¹

I don’t know the time of the service, and unlike other Christian denominations, Mass times for the Catholic churches don’t appear in The Topeka Daily Capital. The weather this Sunday was described as fair, with temperatures in the upper 70’s to lower 80’s.² Surely, for August in Topeka, it was a lovely day to get married.

Carl and Elizabeth would see this marriage last fifty-five years, until Carl’s death in 1962. Elizabeth died in 1972.

IMG_5793_Fotor copy


Sources and Notes:

  1. Names appear in the marriage license announcement as Karl Bornesky and Lizzie Schulmeister. “Marriage Licenses,” The Topeka [KS] Daily Capital, 26 Aug 1906, page 11, col 4; digital image, (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 7 Aug 2016), Newspapers.com.
  2. “Weather Conditions,” The Topeka [KS] Daily Capital, 26 Aug 1906, page 1, col 5; digital image, (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 7 Aug 2016), Newspapers.com.
  3. Carl Porubsky and Elizabeth Schulmeister Porubsky, photograph, taken in Topeka, Kansas, on 26 August 1906; digital image, photograph of original, taken 2016 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Barbara Viti, [address for private use], Tallmadge, Ohio; Two young adults in marriage outfits, one a dark 3-button suit and the other a white gown with flowers; Provenance is Carl and Elizabeth Porubsky to Caroline Porubsky Wolford to Barbara Wolford Viti.

My cousin John R. Byrne in 1890

John R. Byrne is my 1st cousin, 4x removed. He was born in 1858 in Pennsylvania and died on 2 Oct 1932 in Everson, Fayette, Pennsylvania. This fascinating biography of the politician, newspaperman and entrepreneur  appeared in an 1890 printing of the “Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.”


Hon. John R. Byrne. Celtic blood flowed in the veins of many prominent citizens of the United States who have been conspicuous alike on the battle-field and in the forum, and to-day many of that blood and race throughout Pennsylvania hold and have held important public offices of trust and honor. One of the latter class is John R. Byrne, ex-member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He is the son of John L. and Mary (Lowry) Byrne and was born at Barnettstown, Carbon township, Huntingdon county, Pa., April 23, 1858.

John L. Byrne (father) was born in county Meath, Ireland, reared in the city of Dublin and as a participant in the Irish Rebellion of 1847 and ’48 found is necessary to immigrate in the latter year to Pennsylvania, where he located at Hollidaysburg. He was a brakes-man and railroad conductor for several years; a contractor on the Broad Top railroad and engaged in hotel keeping at Barnettstown and Everson, Pa. At the latter named place he died January 16, 1883 aged fifty-four years. He was a delegate to the first General Assembly meeting of the Knights of Labor ever held in America, which convened in 1887 at Reading, Pa., and was treasurer of the Miners’ and Laborers’ Benevolent Association during its palmiest days. When the attempted Fenian invasion of Canada from the United States occurred it found an ardent advocate in Mr. Byrne, who was an active member of the Fenian Brotherhood. He raised a company to join the Fenian army of invasion but it was never called into service, as the Fenian forces were dispersed without much fighting.

John R. Byrne attended the common schools of Huntingdon county, Pa., till thirteen years of age. He then entered a coal mine as a trapper boy for which he received thirty-seven and one-half cents per day ; he was soon transferred to driving and shortly afterwards engaged in digging, and remained in the latter employment until he attained his majority. In 1873 he moved with his father to Everson, Fayette county. In 1878, he migrated to Leadville, Colorado, where he remained one year and returned east as far as Pittsburgh, where he was married. In 1880 he returned to Everson, Fayette county, Pa., and resumed mining in which he continued until the great labor strike of 1881. He was made president of the organization that controlled and conducted the above strike and during its progress established the Miner’s Record, which he conducted for eighteen months and then changed the name to that of Scottdale Independent. In 1885 W.N. Porter became a partner with him in the newspaper business and in 1886 they disposed of the Independent to Hiram B. Strickler, who sold it in 1887 to a joint stock company which employed Mr. Byrne as editor. After eight months editorial service he returned on account of his eyesight becoming affected. On July 17, 1889, he became editor of the Tribune Press, of Scottdale, which he continues to edit as a republican editor. It is a four-page folio of thirty-two columns and is principally devoted to local news and labor interests. In December, 1887, he formed a partnership with his brother, Arthur P. Byrne, in the boot and shoe business at Scottdale under the form name of John R. Byrne & Co. They have built up a large trade and carry a full and well-assorted collection of boots and shoes. In 1886, he was elected from Fayette county to a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He had a majority of 696 votes in a county that was strongly democratic prior to 1886, and was the first republican elected to the Legislature from that county since 1874. He served in the session of 1887-8 and was a member of five important committees. In 1888 he was a candidate for re-election but was defeated in the Republican party and opposition from coke operators.

On July 3, 1880, he was united in marriage to Joanna Lynch, daughter of John Lynch, of Everson. To this union have been born three children: Henry W., Arthur L. and Florence E.

He is a member of Scottdale Conclave, No. 172, Independent Order of Heptasophs. In religion he is a Roman Catholic and a republican in politics. Mr. Byrne has ever labored in the interests of his political party and given largely of his time for the advancement of its aims. He resides just across the Westmoreland county line, at Everson, in Fayette county, Pa., but carries on his business in Scottdale.; has been identified with the interests of that borough for nearly ten years. He has for many years been one of the labor leaders of southern Pennsylvania and a recognized authority on labor subjects with many workingmen.

Wiley, Samuel T., Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, (Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, Dunlap and Clarke, 1890), 232; digital images, Google Books (http://books.Google.com : accessed 30 Jul 2016).

How Much Does AncestryDNA Cost?

I received two emails today from AncestryDNA, the autosomal DNA testing portion of the Ancestry.com genealogy empire. You’ve no doubt seen their TV commercials, web advertisements or some other marketing message telling you that you would find so many new cousins through this service. I will be the first to admit that I am an AncestryDNA customer. As I wrote about here, I took one of their DNA tests and as a result, I have in fact connected with several new cousins.

I have a lot of problems with AncestryDNA and how they limit their customers access to information. There are other DNA testing companies which offer users tools to compare matches at the chromosomal level. AncestryDNA basically tells who a match is and forces you to figure out the rest. Today’s beef with Ancestry isn’t so much about their user capabilities, but with their marketing.

At 12:30 p.m. Eastern, I received, in part, this message advertising a discount of the AncestryDNA test price from $99 to $79, a 20% discount and the least expensive one can usually find this test.


I read this email and moved on, but an hour and 45 minutes later, I received this email from AncestryDNA offering only a 10% discount:



So can I buy the test for $79 or $89? It turns out both. I was able to load tests priced at both $79 and $89 into my shopping cart. I did not go forward with the purchase, but was only a “Submit” button away from doing so.

When AncestryDNA holds a sale, it sends that information far and wide and bloggers, such as myself, share that information with readers. It’s confusing, manipulative, and wrong to market the same product for two different prices to the same audience. While I appreciate the sale price, I would prefer some honesty in marketing.

Sloppy Genealogy, Part 1

I’m going to start a new and hopefully infrequent series called “Sloppy Genealogy.” While researching my 2nd great uncle Albert Joseph Groucutt (1905 – 1976), I came across his World War II draft registration on Fold3.com, a genealogy site focusing on military records. After saving the record, I went to Albert’s profile on my family tree database. Imagine my surprise when I saw this:


Sometime earlier, I can’t say when, I saved Albert’s 1930 U.S. Census record to his profile. When I did so, several facts were added to my tree, including his 1901 arrival to the United States.

WAIT. WHAT?! Albert was born in Pennsylvania in 1905, so how did he arrive in the United States in 1901. It’s clear to me (and hopefully to you) that he most likely didn’t arrive in 1901. I re-examined the 1930 census record and it clearly showed his father arrived in 1901 and that Albert was born in 1905.


So what went wrong? There were two failures that led to my profile for Albert indicating a 1901 arrival. The first is that the original image was improperly indexed by Ancestry.com. I’ve written in the past about not trusting the Ancestry.com indexing. The person who indexed this record simply copied the father’s arrival date to Albert, when he shouldn’t have one. After all, he was born in the United States thus there was no arrival.

The second error is my own. When I attached the 1930 census record, I would have been wise to review the data being added. Instead, I selected “accept” and moved on, most likely in a fury of record additions.

The moral of the story is to always double check the index and the information that is added to your tree. I deleted the improper arrival fact and attached the World War II draft registration form, as I originally intended.

“Albert Joseph Bahle,” Ancestry.com profile,  (ancestry.com : accessed 27 May 2016).

1930 U.S. census, New Castle, Lawrence, Pennsylvania, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 37-30, sheet 12A (penned), 218 (stamped), dwelling 244, family 260, Albert Groucutt in the household of George Groucutt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 May 2016), citing FHL microfilm 2341794.

Dead or Alive? It Depends!


This notice from the Youngstown Vindicator was probably not too reassuring for anyone who may have circling the drain on April 1, 1930. While your vital signs indicated you were dead, the Federal government was willing to give you a few extra days.

As the Vindicator reported on 30 March 1930, anyone who died between April 1 and the time the census taker (more properly, the “enumerator”) arrived at the home was counted as being alive. Likewise, anyone who was born after April 1 but before the enumerator came to the home, often weeks later, was not counted. The enumerator’s instructions would have read, “Enter the name of every person whose usual place of abode on April 1, 1930, was with the family or in the dwelling place for which the enumeration is being made.” By counting everyone who was living on April 1, the Census would more accurately reflect a single day in time.

“Census Will Count You As Alive If You Die April 1”, Youngstown [OH] Vindicator, 30 Mar 1930, page A2, col 4; digital image, (http://news.google.com : accessed 17 May 2016), Google News Archive.

Steven Ruggles, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Josiah Grover, and Matthew Sobek. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 6.0 [Machine-readable database], “1930 Census: Enumerator’s Instructions,” Minneapolis : University of Minnesota, 2015.