My Genealogy Database in 2015

I maintain all of my genealogical information using a software application called Family Tree Maker. Here’s the current snapshot of my database:

People: 2,335
Marriages: 658
Places: 768
Media: 2559 (photographs and document images)

Repositories: 14
Source Groups: 268
Source Citations: 4313

4,313 citations equals 1.85 citations per person, just shy of two. As many ancestors have many more citations, it’s safe to say that there are people in my family tree for whom I have no proof. Hopefully over the next year I can get that number much higher.

By documenting this information at the start of the year, I hope to be able to track the growth of my family tree year to year. Since this is the first time I’ve done this, I have nothing to compare, but next year should prove interesting.

Happy New Year!

Edward Lowry, Lawman

I’ve previously written about my great grand uncle Edward Lowry, wondering what happened to him after 1904 and what he did in the last few years of his life. In the 14 months since I wrote that piece, I’ve discovered quite a bit. At the turn of the 20th century, Edward was living in Republic, Ferry County, Washington. He went to Washington to seek work and perhaps a fortune as a miner, but by 1900, he was was the Democratic candidate for sheriff of Ferry County in what was the first election since the county separated from Stevens County. No doubt utilizing the same skills of politicking that he used as a labor organizer in Colorado, he won the 1900 election for sheriff by a count of 677 to 593, beating Republican A.E. Stewart.
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Lowry took the role well, as various newspaper accounts from the early 1900’s depict him chasing after escaped inmates, seizing sheep due to a failure to pay taxes, rounding up murderers and investigating robberies, as was the case in October 1901 as reported by the Spokane Spokesman-Review. As it turns out, Republic resident and rancher Frank O’Brien’s wife was keen on leaving the family fortune in the hen house instead of the bank. While employee Michael Smith was cleaning out the chicken coop, he discovered the O’Brien fortune and pocketed it, setting off by hired carriage and then train. Sheriff Lowry took the complaint and directed that a wire report be sent before setting off in search his fugitive. That wire report made the difference as a train was stopped by Canadian lawmen in British Columbia with Smith aboard. With some of the gold still in his possession upon arrest, Smith was brought back to the Republic jail to face his accusers.

 
Just two and a half months later, Sheriff Lowry had the dubious distinction of losing several of his inmates who escaped by sawing through the wooden jail bars. The Spokesman-Review and San Francisco Call both depict the tale of how Lowry recaptured the fugitives. Not realizing they were gone for several hours after the escape, he was quick to pick up their trail. He located two in the town of Wauconda, 16 miles to the west, while two more were reported to be in Curlew 20 miles to the north. It was the two in Curlew who were up to no good, committing their second felony of the day (the first being their escape from jail). When Lowry entered the saloon in which the two men were reported to be, he found the barkeeper and patrons lined up along the rail being robbed!

The warm Washington summer of 1903 saw Lowry climbing Gibraltar Mountain, just a few miles outside Republic. Someone had discovered a grisly scene, with the bones of a man and cougar lying near one another. From the evidence at the scene, it appears to have been a terrible struggle that occurred over a year prior. The gun was quite rusted and the remains very much decayed. Lowry’s role as sheriff was to identify the victim. The San Jose, California Evening News found the story so terrific that they carried it on their July 31 front page.

 
Lowry’s final appearance as a man of law and order in readily available newspapers is February 24, 1904. Again, he was doing what he had done several times before in bringing back a fugitive, Everett Wilson. Wilson shot a man named Dan Bethune, although for what cause we aren’t certain. Of interest to the reader, Wilson was to await the result of Bethune’s wound in jail. Translating the parlance and with the medical knowledge of 1904, Bethune was probably a dead man walking.
 

Lastly, we also now know why records and newspaper mentioned of Edward become more difficult to locate after 1905. In early October 1905, Edward and his son Ralph set off from Republic to Phoenix, Arizona. At some point in his life, Edward contracted tuberculosis and believed that the dry desert air would be good for him. Unfortunately, he died on Monday, October 9, 1905 after just a single night in town. His obituary in the October 12, 1905 Arizona Republican reads:

Funeral of E. LAWRY [sic] – The funeral of E. Lawry will be held this afternoon at 4 o’clock at the undertaking parlors of Easterling & Whitney. Mr. Lawry came here last Sunday, very ill of consumption, and died Monday morning. His home was in Republic, Wash., where his wife and other relatives now are. A son sixteen years old accompanied him here. He was quite a prominent man in his county having served two years as sheriff. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles which society will have charge of his funeral.

Lowry was 49 years old when he died. He’s buried in Phoenix.

Sources:
An Illustrated History of Stevens, Ferry, Okanogan and Chelan Counties, State of Washington, Volume 1, (Washington, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1904), 446; digital images, Google Books (http://books.Google.com : accessed 30 Nov 2015).

“Cash Taken From Cache,” The Spokesman-Review, 10 Oct 1901, p. 1, col. 2; image copy. Google News (http://news.google.com/ : accessed 30 Nov 2015), Google News Archive.

“Sawed To Liberty,” The Spokesman-Review, 29 Dec 1901, p. 1, col. 6; image copy. Google News (http://news.google.com/ : accessed 30 Nov 2015), Google News Archive.

“Fugitive Prisoners Are Captured,” San Fransisco Call, 29 Dec 1901, p. 20, col. 5; image copy. University of California, Riverside (http://cdnc.ucr.edu/ : accessed 30 Nov 2015), California Digital Newspaper Collection.

“Bones Of Man And Beast Are Found On Mountain,” The (San Jose) Evening News, 31 Jul 1903, p. 1, col. 1-2; image copy. Google News (http://news.google.com/ : accessed 30 Nov 2015), Google News Archive. [Note: The image is indexed for 30 Jul 1903, but the article appeared in the 31 Jul 1903 newspaper.]

“Late News From Republic,” The Spokesman-Review, 24 Feb 1904, p. 4, col. 4; image copy. Google News (http://news.google.com/ : accessed 30 Nov 2015), Google News Archive. [Note: The image is indexed for 21 Feb 1904, but the article appeared in the 24 Feb 1904 newspaper.]

“Funeral for E. Lawry,” The Arizona Republican, 12 Oct 1905, p. 5, col. 3; image copy. Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 30 Nov 2015).

Photo of the Day – November 24, 2015

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A family gathering in 1925 is the scene of this image. The adults from left to right are Eda Witt Lucas, Cecelia Witt Morris, Leo N. Lucas, Joseph Witt, Helen Bixler Witt, Francis Witt, Blanche Witt, Mary Governor Witt, and Alvy Thomas Witt. The children in the front are William Witt, Francis Witt, Jr., and Governor Witt. I’m unsure of the location, as the Witts, Lucas’ and Morris’ lived on Grant and Arlington Streets, two parallel blocks between Ford Avenue and Belmont Avenue in the 1920s. That area of Youngstown would have been relatively well developed, being so close to downtown. It’s not impossible to say that this was one of their homes, but the undeveloped land in the background gives me pause.

Source:
Eda Witt Lucas, Cecelia Witt Morris, Leo N. Lucas, Joseph Witt, Helen Bixler Witt, Francis Witt, Blanche Witt, Mary Governor Witt, and Alvy Thomas Witt. The children in the front are William Witt, Francis Witt, Jr., and Governor Witt. Copy of original photograph, original taken in Ohio in 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.

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.

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.

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.