Remembrance Day: Thomas Foy

poppyIf the saying that “war is hell” is true, then the Battle of the Somme in World War I was the perfect example of this hell. On the first day of the battle, 1 July 1916, there were 57,000 casualties, and the battle would drag on until 18 November 1916. Within a week, the battle was at a standstill with Germans, French and British forces grinding it out in a maze of trench warfare.

It was at the end of the first week that the Monmouthshire Regiment was thrown into action as a pioneer regiment, which meant that they were to create the trenches and defensive positions used by the fighting force. Monmouthshire, Wales was a mining region, and the engineering skills of the miners-turned-soldiers made them well suited for the task. In this regiment was Thomas Foy, a 37-year old sergeant who had been called to serve.

Thomas was the brother of my great great grandmother, Bridget Foy Groucutt. While Bridget and several siblings immigrated to the United States, Thomas remained in England. On 5 June 1915, with the war well underway, he embarked to France with the 3rd Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment.

They found themselves at the Somme in July 1916 under withering artillery fire. On 7 July 1916, on the front lines, Sergeant Foy found himself just a few feet from his company’s commanding officer, Captain J. Merton Jones, who wrote in the casualty report:

I believe [Thomas Foy] was killed as I saw a shell (believed to be a 5.9) pitch, as it appeared to me in the night,  full upon him. I was about 2 to 3 yards from him and a minute previously had been [?] to him. Sever others pitched in the same spot afterwards and then getting away the wounded, I could not find Foy then, nor afterwards, neither did any man or stretcher-bearer help him to any Dressing Station. I therefore believe he was killed.

 

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My third-great-uncle Thomas Foy was killed at the Battle of the Somme on 7 July 1916, one of over 95,000 British soldiers to die on this French battlefield. He is buried at the Mill Road Cemetery in Thiepval, France.

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Source:
“British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920,” images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/image/510132225 : accessed 13 Nov 2016), record for Thomas Foy, 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment, page 325; National Archives of the UK, London, England.

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).

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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.

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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.

Source:
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.

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.