My passion is connecting genealogy with local history, learning more about our ancestors' homes, jobs, activities, and family life. I have a Masters in Library and Information Science and a Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration.
One of my great-great grandfathers, Fred Lowell Moore, worked on the railroad, as did his two sons Glenn and Earl. The first time I can find an occupation for Fred is on his marriage registration to Mina Bolt on September 10, 1885 in Plymouth, Wayne, Michigan. He was listed as a railroad agent.
According to a September 19, 1892 Detroit Free Press article, Fred was a conductor at the Plymouth station.
In an April 28, 1899 article from the Yale Expositor about his daughter Helen’s accident, he is said to be the baggagemaster at the union depot in Plymouth. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Plymouth, taken on June 2nd, Fred’s occupation is give as Railroad Freight Agent. A July 8, 1900 Detroit Free Press article about the newsboys of Plymouth, Michigan features his 10-year-old son Glenn and says that Fred is a “veteran employee of the D., G.R. & W. Railroad.” The D., G.R. & W. was the Detroit, Grand Rapids & Western Railroad, which started as the Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad. The D.,L., & N was reorganized as the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Western Railroad on January 1, 1897, and in turn became part of the Pere Marquette Railroad on December 7, 1899 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit,_Lansing_and_Northern_Railroad).
His son Glenn (also called Fred) was also employed by the railroad. In the 1915 Benton Harbor city directory, he is listed a a brakeman. On Glenn’s WWI registration card from June 5, 1917, he lists his occupation as yard conductor for the Pere Marquette Railway Company. In the 1920 census, he is listed as a yard switchman. In the 1930 and 1940 censuses, he was a yard conductor. In his 1942 WWII registration, his employer is listed as the Pere Marquette Railroad in New Buffalo. Glenn’s obituary from January 1963 says he was a retired yard master for the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad and a member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen lodge.
I have written about my great-grandmother’s sister Helen before (back in 2011). Since this week was about tragedy, I though I would share her story again, and include some newspapers articles I’ve found since 2011 that shed some light on what happened to her.
Helen was born March 14, 1895 in Plymouth, Michigan to Fred and Mina (Bolt) Moore. She had an older brother and sister, Glenn and Mae, and a younger brother, Earl.
Helen was 2-3 years old when she was photographed with her sister and younger brother, shown above. An article from the Northville Record from Friday, April 28, 1899 says, “The four-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Moore of Plymouth was seriously burned in that village last week Friday. Her clothes caught from a burning bon-fire near which she was playing.” So that would mean the accident occurred on Friday, April 21, 1899.
Another article from the April 28, 1899 issue of the Yale Expositor also said she was burned when her clothes caught fire from a bonfire. That paper said, however, that “she may live but will be disfigured for life.”
Helen died on May 1, 1899 at about six in the morning in Plymouth, MI. Her death certificate says she suffered a severe burn 10 days before. The disease causing death was listed as a sympathetic fever, which she had been enduring for 48 hours, and the immediate cause of death was listed as a hemorrhage.
I love this picture of my great-great grandmother laughing. It’s fun to imagine who or what she is laughing at and what the occasion was. Maybe a picnic? The picture below shows from left, my great-great grandmother Mina (Bolt) Moore Thompson, Jessie (Johnson) Bodington, the sister-in-law of my great-grandmother, and my great-grandmother Mae (Moore) Johnson. I think this picture was taken sometime in the 1930s, since Jessie came over from England in 1929.
Three of my Bost relatives married two Fye sisters. Clara Etta Fye and Minnie Belle Fye were the daughters of William Fye and Jane Nusbaum. Clara was born January 5, 1870, most likely in Liberty, Seneca County, Ohio. Minnie was born September 8, 1880. The Fye family eventually settled in Henry County Ohio, where the Bost families lived.
Clara Ettamarried Francis Leroy Bost (my 3rd great-uncle; brother of my great-great grandfather William Shepard Bost) on August 14, 1887 in Hamler, Ohio. He was also known as Leroy or Roy. In 1900, they were living in Hamler with four children: John Kenneth (born Feb. 11, 1889), Arthur Francis (born Oct. 30, 1890), Gladys Marie (born Apr. 27, 1896), and Fred, born (Feb. 21, 1899). In 1910, the family was living in Royalton, Fulton County, Ohio. Clara’s father and brother were living with them. In 1920, Roy, Clara, Fred, and Thelma, a daughter born in 1913, were living in Napoleon, Henry, Ohio. In 1930, Roy, Clara, and Thelma were still living in Napoleon. Gladys’ son Russell, aged 14, was also living with them. Gladys had married Henry J. Long in August 1914 and had Russell in 1916. I’m not sure what happened to Henry, but Gladys married Fred Fahrer in April 1917. In the 1920 census, Fred, Gladys, and Russell were living with Fred’s mother. Gladys died on March 18, 1924 in Napoleon. Her cause of death was burns over 3/4 of her body. I have been unable to find any newspaper articles about what happened to her. Fred died the next year of typhoid fever.
In 1940, Clara was living with her daughter Thelma and her husband in Napoleon. Clara is listed as married, but Roy is not living with her and I have been unable to find where he is in the 1940 census. Roy died April 4, 1949 in Henry County and Clara died March 23, 1950. They are buried in Forest Hill Cemetery.
Minnie Belle married Julian Sylvester Bost (my 1st cousin 4x removed) on September 6, 1899 in Henry County. Julian had been previously marred to Celia McKellips on Dec. 14, 1896. They had a son Charles on Feb. 14, 1897. Celia died the next day from childbirth complications. She was only 16 years old. In the 1900 census on June 7th, Julian, Minnie, and Charles were living in Hamler, and Julian was a teamster. Julian and Minnie had a son, John Perry, on October 4, 1900. I think that Julian and Minnie divorced sometime in 1906, since Minnie married another 1st cousin 4x removed of mine, Asa Wilford Bost, on January 19, 1907.
Julian also remarried on July 15, 1907 to a woman named Cordelia. In 1910, Asa, Minnie, and John Perry were living in Napoleon, Ohio where Asa was a laborer on odd jobs. In the 1916 Farmers’ Directory, the family was living at 615 E. Washington St. in Napoleon and Asa was listed as a blacksmith. In 1920, Asa and Minnie were living on N. Perry St. in Napoleon and Asa was a blacksmith. In 1922, Minnie’s son John P. Bost married Gladys King and they had a son named John Wilfred Bost in August 1923. In the 1930 census on April 7th, John P., Gladys, and John W. were living in Toledo. In the 1930 census on April 8th, John W. was listed as living with his grandparents Asa and Minnie in Napoleon. In the 1940 census, Asa, Minnie, and John W. were still living in Napoleon where John W. was attending high school. Asa died May 21, 1941 in Toledo. John W. Bost, Minnie’s grandson, enlisted in WWII while still in high school on January 20, 1942. He became a corporal in Co. B. 1st Div. 7th Marines and was killed on New Britain in the South Pacific on January 7, 1944. He is buried with his parents in Forest Hill Cemetery. Minnie died September 7, 1945.
My great-great grandmother Mina A. (Bolt) Moore Thompson had 2 brothers. The first was George E. Bolt, born in Plymouth, Michigan in 1861. The second was Isaac, born in 1863 and died in 1865.
George Edwin Bolt was born January 20, 1861 in Plymouth, Michigan to William and Mary J. (Everitt) Bolt. George married Mary Emma Quick on September 7, 1880 in Detroit, Michigan (one of the witnesses was an uncle, Matthew Everitt). They had a daughter, Mary (or May) Emma Bolt, in August 1882. In the 1900 census, the family was living on Hubbard Avenue in Detroit and George’s occupation was tinter. According to the Los Angeles City Directory, in 1909 May was the widow of George Calton and the mother of 2 children. She was living in Los Angeles with her parents, where her father George was a shademaker. George Calton had died in Detroit in 1908, so I’m not sure why May and her parents moved to L.A. in 1909. In the 1910 census, George, Mary, May, Alta, and George were living in L.A. and George was listed as an expert tinter at a shade company. The 1911 L.A. City Directory lists George’s employer as the “Whitmore-Talbert Company” and the family was living at 116 W. Ave 34 (which was located less than 1/2 mile from the factory).
The Talbert-Whitmore Company was incorporated in 1904 and moved to its factory at 2620 Lacy Street in L.A. in 1908. In 1921, the company had 50 employees. It was the “largest [factory] west of Chicago devoted exclusively to the manufacture of shade cloth and window shades” (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 1, 1921). Interestingly, the factory has now become a filming location as part of the Lacy Street Production Center. Their website has lots of cool photos of what the factory looks like now, including this one that shows part of the “shade cloth rollers” sign from the middle building above.
The family is listed as living at 58 Goodwin St. in the 1912 Detroit City Directory, so they must have moved back sometime in 1911-1912. so I think they must have moved back to Michigan around this time. May remarried in 1916 to Frederick Covert, moved to Washtenaw County, and had 3 more children.
In 1920, George and his wife Mary were still living at 58 Goodwin, and he was employed as a paint maker at an auto shop. By the 1930 census, they had moved back to Plymouth and were living at 370 Maple. George was finally retired. Mary died on December 3, 1933 at the age of 75. I’m not sure where George was in the 1940 census, but he died on December 30, 1944 in Pittsfield, Washtenaw, Michigan.
This week’s theme was “Easy.” But I chose to go a different way with it: I search my tree for people with “E-Z” in their names. I came up with Ezekiel Worthen (1636-1716), my 8th great-grandfather. He was the great-grandfather of Martha Worthen (1745-1826), who married Thomas Locke (1751-1816). They had a daughter Abigail (1778-1861) that married Obadiah Belknap (1774-1834). Obadiah and Abigail were the grandparents of my great-great grandfather Arthur Belknap (1869-1955).
My grandmother’s family, the Belknaps, used to hold a family reunion every year in Ohio. At first, it was for the descendants of the Belknaps and the Clarks (the descendants of my great-great grandfather Arthur Belknap, and those of his sister Lucina and her husband John Q. Clark). My grandmother (and her mother before her) used to keep track of names, birth and death dates in booklets she handed out to every family represented at the reunion.
In the Sept. 11, 1942 issue of the Adrian (MI) Daily Telegram, there is a short article titled “Clark-Belknap Families,” which states:
The 15th annual reunion of the Clark-Belknap families was held Sept. 6 at The Island in Adrian with 68 members present from Montpelier, Ohio, Bay City, Detroit, Royal Oak, Adrian, Ogden Center, Ypsilanti, Belleville, and Clayton. Officers were elected as follows: president, John Q. Clark; secretary, Mrs. Earl Belknap; treasurer, Mrs. Jesse Clark. The 1943 reunion will be held at the same place.
In the 1985 booklet, she wrote, “Our reunions have been going on since 1950, your Historian has attended reunions since they first were organized in 1925, under the title of ‘Belknap-Clark Reunions’ which were disbanded in 1955, after the death of Arthur Belknap.” I think she was saying the Belknap-only reunions started in 1950.
In the 1974 booklet, she wrote, “In the year of 1949, Arthur F. Belknap decided a record of his ancestry would be nice to have to hand down to his descendants. He contacted a lawyer friend of his and eventually the following record of ancestry was give to him.” Arthur was in contact with Glen W. Evans of Lansing (a genealogist, not sure if he is the lawyer friend mentioned above), who wrote a book titled “The Belknap Family” in 1949. In a letter to Arthur dated October 5, 1949, Mr. Evans listed Arthur’s ancestry from Abraham Belknap to his father Thomas Belknap. He ended the letter by saying, “Keep well and take care of yourself and I will try to make the Belknap Reunion next year at Adrian, Mich. where I may be able to tell you more about this branch of the Belknap Family.”
In 1980, the reunion celebrated it’s 30th anniversary. Here are my grandmother (back row, second from left), her one brother, and her seven surviving sisters (one had died in 1977).
The thing about family history that is challenging is the overwhelming focus on the male side of things – surnames, lines of descent, etc. This means (at least for me) that I know very little about even some pretty recent female ancestors.
One example is Polly Ann Farr, my third great-grandmother. She was the 3rd wife of Thomas Belknap (born in 1803), and the mother of Arthur Belknap. She was born in about 1832. The earliest record I have found for her is an application for a marriage license, dated September 18, 1848 to Thomas Belknap in Lorain County, Ohio. I’m not sure if this means they were married on that date or not. The application states that “she is of eighteen years.” I don’t think that’s true though.
The next record is the 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Russia Township in Lorain County. Polly Ann was listed as age 18 and birthplace of Ohio. Thomas’ 11-year-old son Francis is also living with them. In 1860, the family was living in Clinton, Fulton County, Ohio. Polly was listed as 29 and born in Ohio. They had 4 children in addition to Francis by 1860. In 1870, they were living in York Township, Fulton, Ohio and Polly was listed as 38. Now they had 6 children in addition to Francis. In 1880, the last census she is found in, the family was living in Dover Township, Fulton, Ohio. She was listed as 49, born in Ohio. Polly’s father was listed as born in Vermont, while her mother was born in Kentucky. Only three of their children were living with them in 1880.
After all this, she ended up dying at the age of 52 years 3 months in 1887 (according to her pretty unreadable tombstone – I know: the dates don’t add up!), before her husband Thomas, who died in 1889 at the age of 85!
Through DNA, I think Polly Ann’s father may have been Kimball Farr, but I have to do a lot more research to prove it!
My 6th great-grandfather Philipß Lorentz Grünenwald (Americanized to Philip Lorenz Greenawalt) was born in Haßloch, Bad Durkheim, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany (or Hassloch) on June 10, 1725. He left Germany for Philadelphia in 1749. In 1754, he married Maria Margaret Fuesser in Lancaster, Penn. They had at least 10 children, including my 5th great-grandfather John (1760-1823, not to be confused with John Philip).
In 1777, Greenawalt was appointed colonel of the 1st battalion, Lancaster County militia in the Jersey campaign. William Henry Egle has this to say about Philip Greenawalt:
He was with Washington, during the Jersey campaign of 1776, at Trenton and Princeton. His battalion was at Brandy wine and Germantown, and the conduct of Colonel Greenawalt during the former engagement received the commendation of the commander-in-chief for efficiency and gallantry, especially in the protection of the Continental supplies. He was appointed, May 6, 1778, one of the agents for forfeited estates. … The Assembly of the State appointed him one of the commissioners to take subscriptions for the Continental loan, December 16, 1777, and, during the darkest hour of the struggle, he did effective service in collecting blankets, food, and forage for the half-starved and half-clad army at Valley Forge, and for most of which he was never recompensed.
In 1788, he was on the tax rolls in Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. He died in 1802 and is buried in the First Reformed Church cemetery (aka Tabor Reformed Church Cemetery)in Lebanon.
I’m not so sure about this relative’s legendary status, but he is somewhat infamous. William Worth Belknap is my 6th cousin 4x removed. We are both descended from Abraham Belknap, my 9th great-grandfather. My Belknap line comes from Abraham’s son Samuel, while William’s Belknap line comes from Abraham’s son Joseph.
William was born in New York in 1829 and graduated from Princeton University in 1848. He moved to Keokuk, Iowa and joined the Democratic party. He was elected to office and served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1857 to 1858. He joined the Union army in 1861 and was commissioned as a major, recruiting the 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He served at Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, and Atlanta. By the end of the war, he was made a Brevet Major General. After serving as the Iowa Collector of Internal Revenue, having been appointed by President Andrew Johnson (and during which time he became a Republican), William was appointed Secretary of War by President Grant in 1869.
Due to the Trader Post Scandal and all that went along with it (including involvement by 2 of his wives), William resigned as Secretary of War on March 2, 1876, but was still impeached by the House on March 3. He was acquitted by the Senate on May 29, 1876.
William moved back to Iowa and practiced law. He maintained an office and a residence in Washington, D.C. He died there in October 1890. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
One of the good things William can be remembered for is purchasing thousands of negatives from the Civil War photographer Mathew Brady when he was going bankrupt in the early 1870s. According to the National Archives, where the photos are stored, “After the Civil War, business for Brady’s studios gradually declined, until in July 1874 Secretary of War William Belknap purchased part of Brady’s collection of negatives (ca. 2,250 plates) at public auction for $2,500 because of Brady’s bankruptcy. In April 1875, the War Department purchased 3,735 plates directly from Brady under express Congressional authorization… .”
Lots more information about William Worth Belknap can be found in his Wikipedia article.