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.

Advertisements

Photo of the Day – January 13, 2015

I probably met my great grandma Witt at some point when I was very young. Helen Bixler Witt died in January 1985, two months shy of my third birthday. This photo of her was taken on her porch on North Osborn Street on Youngstown’s West Side in the late 1970’s. You can get a more recent view of the houses in the background by clicking here (link).
Source:
Helen Bixler Witt (1898-1985), photograph, taken at 24 N Osborn Avenue, in about 1977; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Marie Dockry, [address for private use], Austintown, Ohio. Woman sitting in a porch chair in housecoat. Provenance is Marie Dockry to Joseph Lowry.

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday – My Great Grandparents Francis and Helen Witt

Photo provided by Marie Witt Dockry.
My maternal great grandparents Francis and Helen (Bixler) Witt all dressed up with hopefully somewhere to go! Great Grandpa sure looks dapper with that navy blue pocket square. The corsages lead me to believe this was for an anniversary party or perhaps a wedding. I’m certain someone knows; it’s just that I don’t. This photo was taken around 1980.

Memorial Day 2013 – A Visit to Calvary Cemetery

I took some time out this Memorial Day to visit Calvary Cemetery in Youngstown, Ohio. Calvary is the ‘home’ cemetery, and countless relatives are buried there. My Lowry great grandparents and grandparents’ graves are just inside the gate in Section 55, so they were first stop. Last year or so, my aunts planted several Hosta plants, which have grown nicely around the grave.

My aunt Chris and I were just talking yesterday that there was no flag on my grandfather’s grave, and I confirmed that today. A quick visit to the cemetery office, which was open on Memorial Day to handle the crowds, rectified that situation. Chuck served in D Company, 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division during World War II, and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in the Battle for Brest, France. He took home part of a German grenade in his leg as a souvenir. You can read more about his military service on my other blog, The Wartime Letters of Private Charles Lowry, U.S. Army.
After leaving my grandparents, I wandered over to my grandpa Howard Witt’s grave. It was harder to find than I remembered, so I made a second visit to the cemetery office. He’s buried in Section 47, Lot 552, Grave 2, directly behind my aunt Renee Witt and her dad, John Santorilla. I was probably about 10 feet away the first time I went, but found it immediately after I stopped by the office. Howard’ grave also lacked a flag. Another trip to the cemetery office, a chat with the clerk about coming back to Youngstown, and back to the grave I went. At all the graves, I spent a few minutes of cleaning grass clippings, wandering around to read the other names before it was off to find my great grandpa and grandma Witt in Section 45.

My great grandparents Francis and Helen Witt are buried together with their daughter, my great aunt Helen Witt. I was fortunate to know two of my great grandparents, and Francis was one of them. He was always sitting in his recliner in his house on Osborne Ave when we walked in, would point his cane at me and say, ‘Hey, I know you!”. I’m sure he did, but with probably 40 great grandkids by the time he died, he just wasn’t quite sure of my name! When his daughter, my great aunt Helen, passed away in 2009, she was cremated and her remains are buried above her moms. She has a flower vase in her memory.

Next time I go, I’ll have to better prepare. Some basic gardening tools would have helped clear the grave markers a little better. There were a few older graves to the left of my Witt great grandparents that are almost completely lost to Mother Nature. A quick sprucing would save them from disappearing under the grass. I’ll add this to the list of things to do when I’m home this summer.

Census Sunday – The Bixler’s in 1930

3519 Mahoning Avenue. Today it’s a plot of land between a Burger King and an Advance Auto Parts near Meridian Road. In 1930, it was home to three groups of Bixler’s. On April 17, 1930, when census enumerator Edward J. Aaron was making his rounds, he found parents (and my great, great grandparents) William and Elizabeth Bixler, their daughter Mary and her children and daughter Florence and her children. Three generations, one apartment.

State: Ohio
County: Mahoning
City/Township: Youngstown
Ward: 4
Enumeration District: 55
Sheet No.: 45A
Family: 1
Address: 3519 Mahoning Ave (map)
Family Group 1
Bixler, William. Head of household. Renter. $18 rent. Does not live on a farm. Male, White, Aged 57 years at last birthday, Married at age 22. Has not attended school since September 1, 1929 and can read and write. Place of birth: Ohio. Place of father’s birth: Germany. Place of mother’s birth: Germany. Yes, is a citizen. Employed as a janitor at a bank. Class of worker: W. Is employed. Is not a veteran.
   ”     , Elizabeth. Wife. Female, White, Aged 57 years at last birthday. Married at age 22. Has not attended school since September 1, 1929 and can read and write. Place of birth: Ohio. Place of father’s birth: England. Place of mother’s birth: Whales (sic). Yes, is a citizen. Is not employed.
Family Group 2
Schrimshaw, Mary. Head of household. Renter. $12 rent. Does not live on a farm. Female, White, Aged 24 years at last birthday, Married at age 17. Has not attended school since September 1, 1929 and can read and write. Place of birth: Ohio. Place of father’s birth: Ohio. Place of mother’s birth: Ohio. Yes, is a citizen. Has no occupation.
   ”     , Harold. Son. Male, White, Aged 5 years at last birthday, Single. Has attended school since September 1, 1929. Place of birth: Ohio. Place of father’s birth: Ohio. Place of mother’s birth: Ohio. Has no occupation.
   ”     , June. Daughter. White, Aged 3 10/12 years at last birthday, Single. Has not attended school since September 1, 1929. Place of birth: Ohio. Place of father’s birth: Ohio. Place of mother’s birth: Ohio. Has no occupation.

   ”     , Edwin. Son. Male, White, Aged 2 ?/12 years at last birthday, Single. Has not attended school since September 1, 1929. Place of birth: Ohio. Place of father’s birth: Ohio. Place of mother’s birth: Ohio. Has no occupation.

Family Group 3
Cramer, Florance. Head of household. Renter. $14 rent. Does not live on a farm. Female, White, Aged 27 years at last birthday, Married at age 16. Has not attended school since September 1, 1929 and can read and write. Place of birth: Ohio. Place of father’s birth: Ohio. Place of mother’s birth: Ohio. Yes, is a citizen. Has an occupation. Employed as a sales lady at a dry goods store.
   ”     , Florance, Daughter. Female, White, Aged 9 years at last birthday, Single. Has attended school since September 1, 1929. Place of birth: New York. Place of father’s birth: Pennsylvania. Place of mother’s birth: Ohio. Has no occupation.
   ”     , Mearl J, Son, Male, White, Aged 7 years at last birthday, Single. Has attended school since September 1, 1929. Place of birth: Ohio. Place of father’s birth: Pennsylvania  Place of mother’s birth: Ohio. Has no occupation.
   ”     , Alice, Daughter. Female, White, Aged 6 years at last birthday, Single. Has attended school since September 1, 1929. Place of birth: New York. Place of father’s birth: Pennsylvania  Place of mother’s birth: Ohio. Has no occupation.
   ”     , Janet, Daughter. Female, White, Aged 1 ?/12 years at last birthday, Single. Has not attended school since September 1, 1929. Place of birth: Ohio. Place of father’s birth: Pennsylvania  Place of mother’s birth: Ohio. Has no occupation.
Relationship to me:
William Joseph Bixler (1875 – 1944)
father of:
Helen Bixler Witt (1898 – 1985)
mother of:
Howard David Witt (1929 – 2001)
father of:
Rebecca Witt Lowry
mother of:
Joseph Patrick Lowry

There are multiple curiosities here! First, was this a triplex apartment, with three units or were all three families living in one apartment but paying separate rent. The address is the same, so without further examination, it’s hard to tell. Combined, they paid $44 dollars for rent.
Second, where are the husbands of Mary Schrimshaw and Florance Cramer, Harold and Mearl, Sr., respectively? Mary’s husband Harold is still living in Youngstown, a boarder in the home of George Buckley at 311 Willis Avenue, on the South Side. I can’t explain the separation but perhaps more research can. While I found Harold, I can’t find Mearl, Sr. in the 1930 Census. In the 1940 Census, the 41-year old is living just with his 18-year old son Mearl, Jr. (the 7-year old, above) in Chautauqua, New York. Again, I’m not sure what drove the separation. More research required…
For a fascinating look at the 1930 U.S. Census, check out this article from the National Archives: http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/census-form/
Sources:
“United States Census, 1930,” index and images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/iexec?htx=View&r=an&dbid=6224&iid=4639663_00907&fn=Florance&ln=Cramer&st=r&ssrc=pt_t28087067_p5130324888_kpidz0q3d5130324888z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&pid=70672780), William J Bixler household, Youngstown, Ohio; citing enumeration district (ED) 55, sheet 45A, family 1, NARA micofilm publication T626. Image 901.0, FHL microfilm 2341578.

Photo Friday: 1960’s Installation Dinner


This photo is from either the 1962 or 1963 installation of Ethel Parker Bixler (1896 – 1972), left, as Worthy Matron and Paul William Bixler (1900 – 1982) as Worthy Patron of the Order of the Eastern Star at the famous Shrine Temple in Los Angeles. Paul’s sister Florance Bixler Cramer (1903 – 1990), right, served as the Installation Officer. Paul is my great grand uncle.

Relationship to me:
Paul William Bixler (1900 – 1982)
son of:
William Joseph Bixler (1875 – 1944)
father of:
Helen M Bixler (1898 – 1985)
mother of:
Howard D Witt (1929 – 2001)
father of:
Rebecca Ann Witt
mother of:
Joseph Patrick Lowry

Sources:
Family collection