Photo of the Day – July 19, 2015

Click to enlarge.
Each Saturday I look forward to reading an article that former Youngstown resident Bob Trube writes on his website “Bob On Books“. His “On Youngstown” series highlights different aspects of working class Youngstown. Yesterday’s article was about the different family owned grocery stores that he often visited as a child.
As a product of Youngstown in the 1980’s and 1990’s, my grocery store visits were usually to chain stores including Giant Eagle in Liberty or the Sparkle Market on Gypsy Lane. I have only a few memories of visits to the Pyatt Street Market or the A&P on Elm Street.
Historically, however, my maternal family has a history of operating groceries. My great great grandfather Joseph F. Witt operated a grocery at 413 Ford Avenue on Youngstown’s north side. His brother John A. Witt operated a grocery at 1001 Blackadore Avenue in Pittsburgh. The photo above is of Joseph in his store at sometime in the 1930’s. Canned goods, tobacco, fresh vegetables and even Hostess cakes are visible in the picture.
Grandpa Joe passed away in 1943. Today the 400 block of Ford Avenue is vacant, with his store long gone and a Youngstown State parking lot nearby.

Source:
Joseph Franklin Witt (1868-1943), photograph, taken in Witt’s grocery at 413 Ford Avenue in Youngstown, Ohio in the 1930’s; image taken by unknown photographer; privately held by Joseph Lowry, [address for private use], Sterling, VA. Provenance is Mary Catherine Witt Sanders to Joseph Lowry.

Photo of the Day – July 5, 2015

If I had to take a guess, I’d say this photo was taken in May 1987 for my sister Caroline’s fifth birthday. The location is the backyard of the first house we grew up at in Youngstown, 233 West Dennick. Mr. and Mrs. Booth’s yellow ranch is behind us. As you can see in the photo, we had a swing set and picnic table as well as a sandbox and garden. Dennick had a great backyard for little kids. The people I can identify in the picture include Caroline (standing on the bench), cousin Laura Lowry (center, at the end of the table), Joe Lowry (me! In the blue shirt and white collar), cousin Mike Lowry to my left and probably one or two of the Muir boys closet to the photographer.
Source:

Caroline Lowry with friends and cousins, photograph, taken in the backyard of 233 W Dennick Ave in Youngstown, Ohio around 1987; image taken by unknown photographer; privately held by Patrick Lowry, [address for private use], Poland, Ohio. Caroline Lowry celebrating her fourth birthday with family and friends.

The Bixler Family in 1891

If your family member appears in a genealogy database, odds are that one type of record attached to that person is a city directory. A city directory, as stated in the famous Boston Directory, is “a list of the merchants, mechanics, traders, and others, of the town…; in order to enable strangers to find the residence of any person.” City directories predate the phone book by a few hundred years, as is the case in Boston. Most large city’s have published directories at some point in their history. No doubt with the internet, much of this information has transitioned to online. Still, many central business districts have published directories featuring the businesses and people in that area.
I have a love-hate relationship with the city directory. The two largest genealogy research websites, Ancestory.com and FamilySearch.com both have very large databases of city directories, covering hundreds of cities over 100 or more years. When I searched the online catalog on FamilySearch for ‘City Directory,’ I received 27,338 returns. When I’m conducting research on the larger genealogy websites such as Ancestry.com, city directories returns can cloud my results. Especially when published annually, a city directory is rarely going to be a groundbreaking document. Still, the city directory can be very useful to know what your ancestors are up to year to year. As the U.S. Census is only taken every ten years, city directories can fill in the gaps.

One such city directory is the 1891 directory for Youngstown, Ohio. As most of the 1890 U.S. Census was destroyed in a 1921 fire, an 1891 directory provides much needed information on this time period. Opposite an advertisement for the Youngstown Iron and Steel Company were several groups of Bixler’s. The Bixler’s are the family of my maternal great grandmother. Listed in the directory are:
  • Bixler August, clerk Lakeshore Ry, res 333 Meadow
  • Bixler A M, bakery and confectionary 245 W Federal, res same
  • Bixler Miss Bertha, res n s Mahoning ave w of Creek
  • Bixler Charles F, driver A M Bixler, res n s Mahoning ave
  • Bixler Frederick, farmer, res n s Mahoning ave w of Creek
  • Bixler George P, painter, res 360 W Rayen ave
  • Bixler Miss Louisa R, res 333 Meadow
  • Bixler Miss Minnie, clerk L Osborne & Co, res 360 W Rayen ave
  • Bixler Nicholas, painter, res 360 W Rayen ave
  • Bixler Phillip, butcher, res 121 Stull
  • Bixler Miss Sophia, res 121 Stull
  • Bixler William, wks Lloyd Booth Co, res 333 Meadow
  • Bixler William G, laborer, res 333 Meadow
  • Bixler William J, wks Cartwright, M & Co, res 121 Stull
Based on the addresses listed, we can assume several of those listed are related to each other in some way. I’ve added my relationship where I know it.
  1. Bixler August, clerk Lakeshore Ry, res 333 Meadow – My 2nd great grand uncle
  2. Bixler Miss Louisa R, res 333 Meadow – My 2nd great grand aunt
  3. Bixler William, wks Lloyd Booth Co, res 333 Meadow – My 2nd great grandfather
  4. Bixler William G, laborer, res 333 Meadow – My 3rd great grandfather
121 Stull Street (Lower West Side) – renamed West Avenue, mapped address is approximate.
  1. Bixler Phillip, butcher, res 121 Stull
  2. Bixler Miss Sophia, res 121 Stull
  3. Bixler William J, wks Cartwright, M & Co, res 121 Stull
  1. Bixler George P, painter, res 360 W Rayen ave
  2. Bixler Miss Minnie, clerk L Osborne & Co, res 360 W Rayen ave
  3. Bixler Nicholas, painter, res 360 W Rayen ave
245 W Federal Street or Mahoning Ave (W of Creek is presumed to be Mill Creek)
  1. Bixler A M, bakery and confectionary 245 W Federal, res same
  2. Bixler Miss Bertha, res n s Mahoning ave w of Creek
  3. Bixler Charles F, driver A M Bixler, res n s Mahoning ave
  4. Bixler Frederick, farmer, res n s Mahoning ave w of Creek
There are only one of the four family groups for which I’ve identified a relationship, but I believe I can probably work to tie all of these people together in some way. As I am fond of writing, there’s more research to do!

Source:
Youngstown City Directory, 1891-1892. Akron, Ohio. The Burch Directory Company, 128. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com. Accessed 28 Jun 2015.

Census Sunday – The 1910 Census of Martin and Elizabeth Witt

You would be hard pressed to find 337 Rebecca Street in Pittsburgh today. It simply doesn’t exist, but it did exist in 1910 and that is where my 3rd great grandparents Martin and Elizabeth Witt made their home. Rebecca Street in the North Shore neighborhood is today known as Reedsdale Street, but now it is just a series of short segments cut by Highway Route 65 and Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

79-year-old Martin, born in Germany, was a grocer while 70-year-old Elizabeth kept the house. She was born in Pennsylvania to German parents. Martin and Elizabeth celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the year prior, as the census sheet indicates they had been married for 51 years. Elizabeth gave birth to 13 children, 8 of whom were still alive in 1910.

State: Pennsylvania
County: Allegheny
Township:
Name of Incorporated Place: Pittsburgh
Ward of the City: North Precinct
Enumerated by me on the 21st of April
Joseph H. Borton, Enumerator

Supervisor’s District: 23
Enumeration District: 398
Sheet No. 10

Dwelling No. 337
House No. 156

Family No. 166

Address: 337 N Rebecca Street (map)

Witt, Martin, head, male, white, 79 years old, 1st marriage, married 51 years. Born in Germany. Father born in Germany. Mother born in Germany. Immigrated in 1831. Naturalized citizen. Speaks English. Employed as a clerk in a grocery. Is not out of work; out of work 10 weeks in prior year. Can read: Yes. Can write: Yes.

” Elizabeth, wife, female, white, 70 years old, 1st marriage, married 51 years. 13 children born, 8 still living. Born in Pennsylvania. Father born in Germany. Mother born in Germany. Not employed. Can read: Yes. Can write: Yes.

Source:
1910 U.S. Federal Census, Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, population schedule, Enumeration District 398, Sheet 10, Dwelling 337,. Martin Witt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jun 2015): FHL microfilm: 1375315. National Archives microfilm publication Roll T624_1302.

Photo of the Day – May 27, 2015

My niece Amelia being held by her Uncle Joe.
Source:
Joseph Biden, Amelia Nagy, Jon Nagy and Caroline Lowry-Nagy, photograph, taken at the Golden Dawn Restaurant in Youngstown, Ohio on 4 Oct 2010; digital image taken by Patrick Lowry; privately held by Patrick Lowry, [address for private use], Poland, Ohio. Vice President Joe Biden holding Amelia Nagy while parents Jon and Caroline Nagy look on.

Photo of the Day – May 26, 2015

Here’s a photo of my grandmother Barbara Wolford and her sister Betty from 1941. The twins were about 10 years old when this photo was taken. This was around the time they were living with their parents in Denver, Colorado. I will need to ask my grandmother where specifically this photo was taken.

Source:
Barbara Jean Wolford and Betty Jean Wolford, photograph, taken in unknown location (possibly Denver) in 1941; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Rebecca Lowry, [address for private use], Poland, Ohio. Two young girls standing in front of a bird bath with trees in background. Provenance is Rebecca Lowry to Joseph Lowry.

Photo of the Day – May 25, 2015

I’m going to get back into the swing of posting here, I promise. I actually enjoy sharing my family discoveries and have been quite active in my genealogy work. I just haven’t been posting anything to the blog. I hope to change that in the coming days and weeks. You can certainly expect some great daily photos in the very near future. Mary Catherine Sanders (nee Witt) provided me some amazing photos of my 2nd great grandfather and his family that I can’t wait to scan and share. I’ve also made some discoveries involving Civil War records and closed a very big loop regarding Edward Lowry, my 2nd great grand uncle from Washington state. So stay tuned, there’s more to come!

Today’s photo of the day is the wedding photo of John Albert Witt and Johanna Thaner. They were married on 22 May 1890 in Saint Mary’s Church in Pittsburgh. John is the brother of my 2nd great-grandfather Joseph Witt. I’ve written about John’s unfortunate death here.

Source:
John Albert Witt (1863-1942) and Johanna Thaner Witt (1862-1949), photograph, taken in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 22 May 1890; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned by Mary Mathewson; privately held by Mary Mathewson, [address for private use], Rocky River, Ohio. Man seated in suit and woman standing in wedding gown. Provenance is Mary Mathewson to Joseph Lowry.

Military Monday – John Pepperney at the Third Battle of Winchester

In the late summer of 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early marched his men up the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, with Union General Philip Sheridan and his Army of the Shenandoah not far behind them. The concern for the Union Army was that if Early went unchecked, he had an easy path down the Potomac River using the nearby railroads to force his way into Washington, D.C. With the 1864 presidential election not far away, and political catastrophe for Lincoln if Early got close to Washington, Sheridan knew he had to stop him.

One of the men in this Army, under Wright’s VI Corps, Getty’s Division, Wheaton’s Brigade, the 139th Pennsylvania Infantry and finally D Company, was my great grand uncle John Pepperney of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

John was born in Prussia on 15 January 1845 to Jacob and Anna Maria Krotterin Pepperney. He arrived in America around 1852 and his family settled in Reserve Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. John was inducted into the Federal army on 1 September 1862 when he was 17 years old. The 139th Infantry was comprised of men from Allegheny County. Many of them were no doubt immigrants like John who either volunteered or were drafted to fight for their new country.

Within two days of being organized, the 139th Infantry found itself in Manassas, Virginia where it buried the bodies of the men killed at the Battle of Second Manassas. It was no doubt a grisly welcome to the army and made the reality of what was in front of them very real. The official summary of service of the Pennsylvania regiments tells this tale well:

After that, John and the 139th found themselves confronted by the enemy in battles we know well from history books. Antietam. Fredericksburg. Chancellorsville. Maryes Heights. Gettysburg. Wilderness. Spotsylvania. Cold Harbor. Petersburg. That John made his way through the hell of those battles unscathed is a miracle. That is, until he arrives near Winchester, Virginia on the evening of 18 September 1864.

At 3 a.m. on 19 September, General Sheridan launched his attack on Early’s men from the north, pushing his leading forces back into Winchester. This early action by cavalry allowed Sheridan to organize his infantry forces marching from Berryville to the east.

Company D of the 139th Infantry was square in the center of the VI Corps assault on the Confederate lines. To their right were no fewer than 13 Union brigades while to their left just General Daniel Bidwell’s brigade held the end of the line. With cannon fire shooting over their heads, the 139th Infantry advanced down the Berryville Road. They entered into Winchester as the Confederates pulled out, leading a retreat to Strasburg, 20 miles to the south. It was during this action that John was wounded. What caused this injury remains unclear, but the muster rolls of the 139th Infantry state he was injured on this date and at this place. Still, his injury was minor enough to keep him with the Army. John Pepperney would continue with the 139th Infantry through the remainder of the war and was mustered out of service on 21 June 1865.

The interchange of Interstate 81 (north and south) and Route 7 (east and west) in Winchester, Virginia. It was just a few hundred feet to the south of the interchange where the 139th Pennsylvania advanced on the Confederate troops on 19 September 1864.

The Third Battle of Winchester was the bloodiest battle in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864 and effectively pushed the Confederate army out of this part of Virginia.

Sources:
Bates, Samual. “History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5; Prepared in Compliance with Acts of the Legislature, by Samuel P. Bates.” Making of America. University of Michigan, 1 Jan. 1869. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.

“139th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Civil War Volunteers,” Pennsylvania Volunteers of the Civil War, (http://www.pacivilwar.com/ : accessed 28 Nov 2020), article on the 139th Infantry.

“Third Battle of Winchester.” Civil War Trust. Civil War Trust. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.

Photo of the Day – March 23, 2015

I can’t put a specific date or location on this photo, but my grandmother Jean Groucutt Lowry and her mother-in-law Margaret Pepperney Lowry look to be on a road trip. They probably stopped for gas or a quick bite to eat and one of their husbands asked for a quick photo. Neither looks particularly happy to be posing for the camera.
Source:
Mary Margaret Pepperney Lowry (1902-1980) and Jean Groucutt Lowry (1924-1986), photograph, taken at unknown location, in late 1940s; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Mary McCaffrey, [address for private use], Canton, Ohio. Two women standing in front of a restaurant. Provenance is Charles Lowry to Mary McCaffrey.

Photo of the Day – March 22, 2015

A bright smile and closed eyes greeted my great grandmother when she took this photo on her son’s second birthday. She no doubt wanted a photograph to help remember his big day, but anything taken indoors probably wouldn’t have developed properly. Thus, it was time to bundle up and take little Charles outside for the shot. The more I look at this collection of photos, the more I love the idea of her carrying her camera around, capturing all sorts of images of her son.

Source:
Charles James Lowry (1924-2007), photograph, taken at unknown location, in November 1926; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Mary McCaffrey, [address for private use], Canton, Ohio. Portrait of toddler in winter coat and hat standing in snowy yard. Provenance is Charles Lowry to Mary McCaffrey.