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.”

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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.

Source:
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).

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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.

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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:

 

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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:

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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.

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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.

Sources:
“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!

CensusInfo_1930_Mar30_GoogleNews

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.

Sources:
“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.

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday

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Howdy partner! This was Halloween 1987. I was the coolest gunslinger on the Northside of Youngstown (and in the 80’s, Youngstown had more than a few gunslingers) and my sister was a princess (she still is). My vest was homemade by my mom, from a pattern that she bought. The cowboy hat was loaned to me from my mom’s friend, Shirley Morrison. I disctintly remember the Halloween parade at Saint Edward School where the elementary school kids paraded around the classrooms of the upper grades. My costume was a huge hit with the 8th grade girls. I have a hard time believing that today you could get away with taking a pair of cap guns into school.

Source:
Caroline Lowry [Nagy] and Joseph P. Lowry, photograph, taken in Youngstown, Ohio, around Halloween 1987; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2015 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Rebecca Lowry, [address for private use], Poland, Ohio; Two children in Halloween costumes of cowboy and princess; Provenance is Rebecca Lowry to Joseph Lowry.

New Look! With One Catch!

As you can probably tell, we have a new look. I changed the site from using Google’s Blogger platform to WordPress, which gives me more options as the blogger to post and share. While I’m excited about everything I can do with the new site, there is a catch for the reader.

If you previously subscribed to my Blogger site, you will need to re-subscribe to this one. As a reminder, this is what my old site looked like:

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And this is what my new site looks like:

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So how do you subscribe to my site? It’s very easy! In the top right corner, you will see a header “Subscribe Via Email.” Enter your email address in the box, click “Subscribe” and then check your email for a confirmation link.

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Once you click that link, you will get all of the Lowry-Witt genealogy goodness right to your inbox!

The Wolfords Between 1920 and 1930

Stanton Maines Wolford was born on 23 or 24 April 1864 in Indiana, a son of James Mathias and Harriett (Maines) Wolford. He died on 6 September 1946 in Topeka, Kansas. He was married to Henrietta Rogers on 6 December 1886 in Winchester, Illinois. They had at least nine children, including Viola Agnes, Hubert, Harry, Homer, Royal, Eva, Mabel, Raymond, and an unnamed or name unknown daughter who died around the time of her birth. In 1920, Stanton was living in Soldier Township, Shawnee, Kansas.

Summary of Research Findings
Stanton and Harriet Maines Wolford were a blue-collar, middle-class family living in Soldier Township outside Topeka, Kansas in both 1920 and 1930. The wages the family earned through Stanton’s work as a carpenter were sufficient for him to own a home. In 1930 that home was sufficiently large enough for eleven people to live there, including Stanton and Harriett and the families of two of their children. In 1930, only one of the neighboring homes had a boarder, indicating a financial means throughout the neighborhood that did not require supplemental income.

Itemized Research Findings
Stanton M. Wolford household, 1920 Soldier Township, Shawnee, Kansas, census[1]
Stanton M. Wolford was a 55-year-old carpenter when he was enumerated in his house in 1920. The family was living in Soldier Township, Shawnee, Kansas, when the census enumerator visited the household. The census date was 1 January, and the enumerator visited the household on 5 February.

Census image showing some of the facts

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Information obtained from the census
Fifty-five year old Stanton Wolford was a white male born in Indiana, as were his parents. He was a carpenter, working “any where,” presuming meaning as a general carpenter for hire. He owned his own home, free of a mortgage. All adults in the household could speak English, read, and write.

Stanton’s wife Henrietta was a white female born in Illinois, as were her parents. Her occupation was listed as “none.”

Homer Wolford, aged 23, was Stanton’s oldest son living in the household. Homer was single. He was born in Illinois, as was his mother. Homer’s father was born in Indiana. Homer worked as a meat cutter at a fresh market.

Eva Wolford, aged 16, was Stanton’s daughter. Eva was born in Kansas and was employed as a clerk for the telephone company. Eva’s father was born in Indiana and her mother in Illinois.

Mabel Wolford, aged 14, was Stanton’s daughter. Mabel was born in Kansas and was in school. Mabel’s father was born in Indiana and her mother in Illinois.

Raymond Wolford, aged 10, was Stanton’s youngest son living in the household. Raymond was born in Kansas and was in school within the last year. Raymond’s father was born in Indiana and his mother in Illinois.

 

Other Wolford families in Shawnee County
There was one additional household in Shawnee County with the surname Wolford in 1920.[2] Herbert Wolford (aged 29 years) was born in Illinois, as were his parents. Working as a laborer in a planing mill, he was able to own his own home, for which he had a mortgage. He spoke English and was able to read and write.

Herbert was married to Bertha H. Twenty-seven year old Bertha was born in Indiana, as were her parents. She had no occupation, spoke English, and was able to read and write.

Herbert’s son Merle D. was 4 6/12 years old. Merle was born in Kansas, while his father was born in Illinois and his mother in Indiana.

The neighbors
Stanton’s neighbors in 1920 were a mix of blue and white collar, with two occupied as mail carriers (one a rural carrier), a bank clerk, a laborer in a packinghouse, two laborers of any kind, a schoolteacher, a bookkeeper, a bookstore clerk, and one farmer. No fewer than nine neighbors worked for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad or other railroads; three men worked as clerks, one as a brakeman, one as a machinist, one as a switchman, and one as a boilermaker. They were all born in the United States and largely in Kansas. Several born in the neighboring states of Missouri, Nebraska, or Iowa. The residents owned eleven homes and nine were rented. Only one household contained a boarder; the head of the household was a widow, who lived there with her three children. This is indicative of a neighborhood that generally had sufficient income and did not need the supplemental money that a boarder would provide.

Stanton Wolford household, 1930 Soldier Township, Shawnee, Kansas, census[3]
In 1930, Stanton M. Wolford was a 65-year-old carpenter when he was enumerated in his home. The family was living on Polk Street in Soldier Township, Shawnee, Kansas, when the 1930 census enumerator visited the household. The census date was 1 April, and the enumerator visited the household on 24 April. All of the adults in the household can read, write, and speak English, and none had attended school since 29 September 1929.

Census image showing some of the facts

Wolford1930

Information obtained from the census
Sixty-five year old Stanton M. Wolford was a white male born in Indiana. His father was born in Pennsylvania and his mother was born in Indiana. He was a carpenter, working in a planing mill. He owned his own home valued at $2,500, which was not set on a farm. The family owned a radio set. He was 22 years old at the age of first marriage. He was not a veteran.

Stanton’s wife Henrietta, aged 60, was a white female born in Illinois, as were her parents. Her occupation was listed as “none.” She was 18 years old at the age of first marriage.

Eva R. Wolford, aged 26, was Stanton’s daughter. Eva was born in Kansas. Her father was born in Indiana and her mother in Illinois. Eva was previously employed as a stenographer for the Capital Iron Company, but she was not working at the time of enumeration.

Raymond H. Wolford, aged 20, was Stanton’s youngest son living in the household. He was born in Kansas, while his father was born in Indiana and his mother in Illinois. Raymond was employed as a laborer in a creamery. He was not a veteran.

Stanton’s son Harry led a second family in the same household[4]. Harry was a 35-year-old widower employed as a laborer in a retail store. He was born in Illinois, while his father was born in Indiana and his mother in Illinois. He had four children, including a son Merwin (aged 13 years), a son Keelin (aged 11 years), a daughter Winifred (aged 9 years) and a son Billie (aged 4 years). All of the children were born in Kansas, along with their mother. Their father was born in Illinois.

All of the children except Billie were attending school. Merwin and Keelin could read and write; nothing was indicated for Winifred and Billie in this field as the enumerator’s instructions directed it be left blank for persons less than 10 years of age.[5]

Stanton’s daughter Mable [sic] was enumerated as the head of a third household within the dwelling[6]. Mable B. (Wolford) Stanley was a 24-year-old widow in 1930. She was born in Kansas, while her father was born in Indiana and her mother in Illinois. She last worked as a cutter in a tent and awning factory but was unemployed when the enumerator visited.

Mable’s daughter Doris (aged 4) was born in Kansas, as were her parents.

Other Wolford families in Shawnee County
Stanton Wolford’s neighbors included the family of one of his sons. Homer B. and Edna Wolford lived on Taylor Street, which runs parallel and one block west of Polk Street.[7] Both Homer and Edna were 33 years old and married at age 27. Homer was born in Illinois; his father was born in Indiana and his mother in Illinois. He was employed as a salesman in a grocery store. Edna was born in Iowa, as were her parents. She was not employed. Homer and Edna had no children in 1930.[8]

 

The neighbors
This neighborhood of Soldier Township was comprised principally of blue-collar families. Professions listed include a farmer, a Shawnee County deputy sheriff, a salesman for a grocery, a shipping clerk in a hardware store, a produce buyer, a store operator, a stenographer for the power company, a bus driver, a baggage man on the railroad, and two other laborers in a creamery. All of the neighbors reported they could read and write and none of them were veterans.

 

The majority of the neighbors were born in Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, or Missouri. John Covington and his family, except their youngest daughter, were born in Tennessee. The daughter, Elizabeth, was born in Kansas. No neighbors were born outside the United States; all were U.S. citizens.

 

Suggestions for Further Research

  • Determine which areas of Soldier Township were annexed by the city of Topeka, specifically the annexation by Topeka in 1946. This can be used to more accurately determine the location of the homes occupied by the Wolford families in 1930.
  • Determine the identities of Harry Wolford and Mabel Wolford Stanley spouses as well as their respective dates and causes of death.
  • Settle the discrepancy in place of birth for Stanton Wolford’s father. The 1920 Census indicated Indiana while the 1930 Census indicates Pennsylvania.

 

Sources:

[1] 1920 U.S. census, Soldier Township, Shawnee County, Kansas, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 150, sheet 17A (penned), dwelling 398, family 402, Stanton Wolford; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 January 2016), citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 550.

[2] 1920 U.S. census, Soldier Township, Shawnee County, Kansas, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 148, sheet 6A (penned), dwelling 120, family 120, Herbert Wolford; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 January 2016), citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 550.

[3] 1930 U.S. census, Soldier Township, Shawnee County, Kansas, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 89-14, sheet 11A (penned), 112 (stamped), dwelling 258, family 262, Stanton Wolford; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Jan 2016), citing FHL microfilm 2340457.

[4] 1930 U.S. census, Soldier Township, Shawnee County, Kansas, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 89-14, sheet 11A (penned), 112 (stamped), dwelling 258, family 263, Harry Wolford; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Jan 2016), citing FHL microfilm 2340457.

[5] 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.

[6] 1930 U.S. census, Soldier Township, Shawnee County, Kansas, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 89-14, sheet 11A (penned), 112 (stamped), dwelling 258, family 264, Mable Wolford; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Jan 2016), citing FHL microfilm 2340457.

[7] Google. (n.d.). [Google Maps showing location of Taylor Street and Polk Street in Topeka, Shawnee, Kansas]. Retrieved 29 January 2016, from https://goo.gl/maps/yXEjosRzNL42.

[8] 1930 U.S. census, Soldier Township, Shawnee County, Kansas, enumeration district (ED) 89-14, sheet 11A (penned), 112 (stamped), dwelling 251, family 255, Homer Wolford; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Jan 2016), citing FHL microfilm 2340457.