Photo of the Day – November 23, 2015

This photo was taken around 1925. The older girl in the center is Blanche Witt, my 1st cousin 2x removed (also known as my grandfather’s first cousin) and she’s holding Fred Witt, my great uncle. My great uncle Francis Witt Jr. and Dorothy Leffler are the two others, according the image caption. I’m not certain who Dorothy Leffler is. I’ve located a girl I believe to be her in the 1930 Census, but could not locate a marriage record for her mother to confirm anything more. I also didn’t put much effort into it, so there’s that too.

Source:
Blanche Witt (1912 – 1978), Frederick Witt (1924-2009), Francis Witt, Jr. (1920-2002) and Dorothy Leffler (unknown), photograph, taken in Youngstown, Ohio around 1925; 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.

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The Revolutionary War Pension File of Zephaniah Rogers

Zephaniah Rogers was born on March 18, 1747, in Mendon, Massachusetts. Zepheniah married Elizabeth Rood on March 7, 1770, in Litchfield, Connecticut, when he was 22 years old. In 1776, he served in Captain Satterlee’s company of militia. After the Revolution, he lived in Albany, New York, in 1790 and moved to Pennsylvania, sometime between 1790 and 1819. He died on November 7, 1823, in Franklin County, Ohio at the age of 76.

Source:
Pension file for Zephaniah Rogers, “United States Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications, 1800-1900;” database and images, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : accessed October 2015); from “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files,” citing NARA microfilm publication M804, Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1974.

Photo of the Day – September 12, 2015

It’s been some time since I posted to the blog. The summer was pretty hectic, with little to no vacation, new responsibilities as the webmaster of the Fairfax Genealogical Society, and working with Eileen to get our townhouse on the market. In that space though, I was gifted a few dozen Witt family photos from Mary Catherine Sanders. She is my grandfather Howard Witt’s first cousin but has affectionately been called ‘Aunt’ Mary Catherine by my parents, aunts/uncles and cousins. Mary Catherine and her son Matt (aka the Mad Vintner) have long been interested in genealogy and have been great resources on my Witt ancestors. I consider myself fortunate to receive these photos of my grandfather’s family and will be working hard to get them on the blog in the coming weeks. I will start with this first image of my grandfather’s family in late 1941 or early 1942, perhaps taken on the occasion of my great uncle Francis finishing flight training in anticipation of being deployed to Europe.

This formal portrait starts in the front row with my great grandfather Francis (1899 – 1992), my great aunt Helen K. (1934 – 2009), and my great grandmother Helen M. Bixler (1898 – 1985). The back row includes my great uncles Fred (1924 – 2009), Governor (1919 – 2004), William (1922 – 2011), Francis Jr. (1920 – 2002), and my grandfather Howard (1929 – 2001).

Source:
Francis J. Witt (1899 – 1992) and family, photograph, taken in Youngstown, Ohio in late 1941 or ealy 1942; 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 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.

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.