Inspirational Message

Inspirational Message

Sunday, January 26, 2014

52 Ancestors: #4 Mary Steinmetz

Mary Steinmetz

1899 - 1971

Daughter of Russian Immigrants

Mary Steinmetz was born in Pond Creek, Oklahoma to John and Anna Catherine (nee Hergert) Steinmetz. She was my maternal grandmother and married Mitchell William Hoag (grandson of Sarah Holly Graves).  I have conducted very little research on this family myself, other than finding the ship manifest showing the arrival of her parents aboard the steamship Stutgart on 8 Sept 1892.  Her parents immigrated with their only surviving child, John, age 6. (His age is not accurate, as he was born on Oct 17, 1883) They landed at the port of Baltimore and spent two weeks in quarantine living in a box car.  In 1970, Mary Steinmetz Hoag wrote a short family history assisted by her sister, Ida, and "others."  The original destination from Baltimore was Woodbine, Kansas.  Anna's two brothers, Jake and George Hergert were already established there; George paid for their passage to America.  George immigrated in 1876 aboard the S S Hermann landing at the port of New York.  These families were from the German colonies located in the lower Volga region of Russia.  They resided in the colonies of Brunnental and Walter.  A great resource for more information is the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. I was blessed with copies of two surname charts created by hand by Igor Pleve, who conducted extensive research on the Volga colonies.
 This is the wall chart for Johann Casper Hergert and his descendants.
This is the wall chart for Johann Phillip Steinmetz and his descendants.

In 2003, these charts were available for purchase, but I didn't find them listed in their online store.
When I received the copies I have they had been folded for quite some time and I wanted to preserve them, so I enveloped them in clear vinyl contact paper.  Then I rolled them up, I was unable to remove the fold lines but after over 10 years they still look great!  This is such amazing hand work!  

According to the family history written by Mary, John Steinmetz was the son of Adam Steinmetz and Marie Kester.  She writes, "The Steinmetz and Kister families were probably among the original founders of the mother Colony of Walter which was established August 25, 1767."  Mary doesn't include a bibliography for the quoted material in her written history.  Mary never had a middle name, neither did her brother John. When John was older he added Henry as his middle name to distinguish himself from his father. Makes me wonder if he chose Henry because of the phrase: 
John Henry is what the cowboy calls his signature. He never signs a document, he puts his 'John Henry' to it!
After Mary's parents arrived they were blessed with more children.  They left behind three children, one who died in 1890 of smallpox and two who were born prematurely and lived less than one week. Ida was the first child born in America, making her debut on the 21st of December, just a few months after their arrival.  A son, Benjamin arrived in 1894 followed by Emma in 1896.
Emma (seated) and Mary Steinmetz

Uncle George Hergert moved from Woodbine, Kansas  to Pond Creek, Oklahoma in 1894 and John and Anna went with them.  John wanted to repay the passage fees to George and so worked on his farm in Pond Creek.  Esther was born on 21 May 1898 but lived only two days. By the time Mary was born on the 15th of June in 1899, John had repaid his brother-in-law.  As land opened up in the West, three families from Pond Creek decided to stake a claim out in western Oklahoma, John Steinmetz, Henry Zeiler and John Zeiler.  The three families arrived on the 10th of March in 1900 and staked their claims three miles west of what is now known as Vici in Dewey County.  Vici was established after their arrival. A son, Solomon, arrived on the 22nd of July in 1901 and Lydia followed on the 19th of February in 1903.  Samuel arrived on the 20th of June in 1905.  John became a citizen of the United States of America on the 24th of September in 1906.  His homestead was approved on the 7th of June in 1907. Dora arrived that same year on July 24th.  This was the same year that Oklahoma achieved statehood. 1907 was a landmark year for the Steinmetz family!  Their last child, Sarah, was born in 1909 on the 19th of July.  They lost their son, Benjamin, to pneumonia on the 3rd of February in 1910, at the age of 14.  All of the Steinmetz girls learned to play the organ and both parents were talented vocalists.  Vici was hit by a tornado on May 10, 1910 at 6:00 pm.  The tiny town was wiped out and rebuilt one-fourth of a mile north of the original location.  Solomon went to California and acquire a job with some tree surgeons.  He fell to his death while topping a tree on the 4th of January in 1940.

Anna Steinmetz became ill with pneumonia in the spring of 1936, she did recover but not fully.  She died the following year of liver cancer on May 22, 1937 at the age of 72.  John Steinmetz died of stomach cancer at the age of 76 on the 4th of May in 1939.  Mary Steinmetz Hoag died on the 17th of March in 1971 following a heart attack.

There have been many books written about the Volga Germans and there are many societies dedicated to them.  I hope to read more about their lives in Russia, I have watched documentaries on PBS in the past that really portray the struggles these Germans faced on the Steppes of Russia.

The Steinmetz descendants have a reunion every two years at Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, Oklahoma over the Labor Day Weekend.  The next reunion will be held in 2015.  All of grandmother's generation are gone and my mother's first cousins are staying connected through these reunions.  My generation of cousins are hit and miss.

This photo was taken at the reunion in 1976.  It was held at Boiling Springs State Park, near Woodward, OK.  The reunion was moved the the Electric Cooperative building in Woodward after that and continued there for many years.
(Left to Right) Emma, Lydia, Samuel, Sarah and Dora.

I also have the original reunion register that has entries all the way back to the 1950's.   They have always had a good time at their reunions and stories include boating and games. At the 2013 reunion we played board games including Scattergories and Jinga.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

52 Ancestors: #3 Myrtle Mae Paris

Myrtle Mae Paris

My great grandmother, Myrtle Mae Paris, was born in Stafford County, Kansas on the 20th of February in 1884 to Henry Clay Paris and Sarah Frances Conover.  She had one sister, Mary, born in 1876  and a brother, Joseph born in 1870, who died before March of 1885.  That year the family was enumerated in the Kansas 1885 Census.
I don't know the date of this photo, but Myrtle appears to be under ten years of age. The family was enumerated in the Kansas 1895 Census so I suspect this photo was taken in Stafford County. By the 1900 Federal Census, her family had moved to Woods County, Oklahoma.

 According to the 1900 census, Henry's father was born in Virginia and his mother was born in Georgia.  All I know about them is that Henry's father's name was Ezekiel and his mother was Elizabeth. Myrtle's mother was born in Mason County, Illinois on the 12th of June in 1848. I have seen the Conover family genealogy website, but haven't added them to my genealogy program.  These are two families that I need to research and add to my database.

Myrtle married James Franklin Hedrick on New Year's Eve in 1911 at the home of her parents in Major County, Oklahoma.

Myrtle's father was a Union Soldier from Illinois, although he was born in Madison County, Kentucky. According to information contained in the Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls database; Henry, at the time of his draft, was 21 years old, 5' 4 1/2" tall, with brown hair, blue eyes and a light complexion. He mustered in on the first of October in 1864 at Mount Sterling, Illinois and mustered out on the fourth of June in 1865 at Washington, D.C. Henry filed for a pension and following his death on the 25th of August, Sarah filed for a Widow's pension on the 7th of December in 1918.
Myrtle lived all of her adult life in Major County, Oklahoma, where she and Frank reared six children; Lila Mae, William Henry, Lula Frances, Helen Marie, Leota Janie, and Leora Ellen.   Chester, Oklahoma was where they resided after leaving the farm.  I don't know very much about them, but I do remember both of them.  Myrtle, like her father, was short in stature.  Her husband Franks was tall.  Frank made fiddles and played them very well.  I purchased Myrtle's glass jar butter churn at my grandmother's auction and have it displayed in my china cabinet.  I also have some lace handkerchiefs that I picked out after her funeral in 1965.  I think I was destined to do genealogy!  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

52 Ancestors: #2 Emma Jennie Hurt

Emma Jennie Hurt
1890 – 1974
Emma was the daughter of Bohemian immigrants Joseph P Hurt and Anna Vollmann.   Her parents immigrated in 1876, according to the 1900 US Federal Census.  Two books that I read are “A History of Czechs (Bohemians) In Nebraska”, compiled by Rose Rosicky, Czech Historical Society of Nebraska, Omaha, 1929 and Nebraska, Kansas Czech Settlers, 1891-1895, compiled by Margie Sobotka. “The second book is based on the extensive data gathered by Frank Mares as he traveled Nebraska and part of Kansas.  Mares’s data was published as articles in the Czech newspaper Hospodar in 1891-95.”  “My Antonia”, by Willa Cather is an interesting look at pioneer life on the Nebraska plains.  In the first book, the author writes “1877 – The Following Came:” this paragraph includes John Hurt (Oujezdec, Caslav) Anton Hurt (Dubina), and Vaclav Hurt (Caslav) among those who came to Nebraska that year.  John came to the U. S. aboard the ship S S Weser and is listed in the March 14, 1876 manifest in Steerage. Traveling with him is his family; Anna (14), Mary (9), Johann (8), Barbara (6), Franc (4), Anton (2) and Maria (39).  Anna Vollmann, age 15, arrived a year later aboard the SS Braunschweig and is listed on the ship’s manifest on 21 July 1877.  She is listed following the Anton Hurt family; Antonia (34) Franz (8), Clara (5), Zaraslav (3), and Antoinia (11/12). 

I haven’t been able to find the marriage record for Joseph Hurt and Anna Vollman but it I believe they married about 1879. I suspect that Joseph came to New York prior to his parents, John and Mary and his uncle, Anton. I also suspect that Joseph and Anna married in New York.  I don’t know when they came to Nebraska, but Emma was born in Omaha on the 28th of November 1890.  Joseph Hurt filed his declaration to become a citizen of the United States 14th day of September in 1890 and renounced his loyalty to the Emperor of Austria.  Joseph is listed in the 1890-1 Nebraska State Gazetteer, Business Directory and Farmers List for 1890-91….published in Omaha: J M Wolf 9 & Co, Publishers, 509,510 Paxton Block. 1890.  This directory lists the name and P. O. Address of each farmer in the state. Joseph’s address is Kelso.  According to the 1900 US Census, Anna gave birth to eleven children, eight of whom are living.  I have only been able to identify seven of the eleven children.  Anna was struck by lightening in 1902 and killed.  Joseph remarried to Hannah Alice (nee Marsh) Kackel widow of John Kachel on the 9th day of May in 1909.  Joseph’s two youngest children, Mary and Lucy, were fifteen and nine years of age, respectively, at the time of the second marriage.


Emma married Samuel Oscar Louthan on the 25th
 day of April in 1908 in Taloga, Dewey Count, OK.  They reared their family of four boys and two girls, on the farm South of Chester, Major County, OK.  After Samuel died in 1952, Emma moved to town leaving one of her sons, Lester, to take care of the farm.  Emma had long black hair which she put into braids and wrapped around her head.  Even in her later years, she never had more than a few streaks of silver hair.  She made bread pudding that I dearly loved! Emma had a funny disposition and I enjoyed visiting her. They Louthan clan would gather on Saturday to enjoy homemade ice cream, with a different family hosting each time. These women made awesome pies to go with that ice cream.  I have heard lots of great stories from my dad about his family in Chester.  I don’t recall the exact year, but Lester moved to Chester and bought a house across the backyard of Emma’s around 1970.  Next door was the post office and then on down a few yards on the corner was Branstetter’s Grocery Store. The store was owned by Emma’s daughter, Lucille and her husband.  Emma passed away sitting on a bench inside that grocery store in the fall of 1974.

I would love to find out more about Emma’s mother and father, even after all these years of research; I cannot find anything on Anna Vollmann other than that entry in the ship manifest.  My intention (in 2006) was to hire a researcher in the Czech Republic to find some of the missing pieces.  Three moves later, I still haven’t followed up on the leads I found back then. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

52 Ancestors: #1 Sarah M Graves

Sarah M. Holley/Holly (looking out the window) was the granddaughter of two American Revolutionary Soldiers, Joseph Holley/Holly and Henry Hatevil Fall.   Her parents were Numon Monroe Holley/Holly and Elizabeth Fall. She married Gilbert Graves on the 2nd day of March in 1859 and lived in Ellisburgh, Jefferson County, New York until 1877.  Elizabeth Holly, her mother, survived her father, Numon, and was executrix of his will.  I checked online resources to find Numon’s will and estate settlement and wrote to the Surrogate’s Court of Jefferson County to obtain copies.  These records have a wealth of information and have aided me in finding more information on Sarah’s siblings.  There were ten children born to Numon and Elizabeth Holly; viz. Don Carlos, Sarah Lucinda, Glorian, Lucinda Louise, Sarah M., Mary, Jane, Anson, Cynthia, and Preston.   The first two children died in infancy.  Jane and Preston died 12 May 1848 and have a joint tombstone, Cynthia died in 1869.  This left Glorian, Lucinda, Sarah, Anson and Mary still living at the time the will of Numon Holly was filed on the 12th day of June in 1871.  Glorian married Samuel H. Chamberlain, Lucinda never married and took care of her mother (as stipulated in her father’s will), Mary married A. L. Freeman and Anson, married for a short time, was an inmate at the St. Lawrence State Hospital until his death.  Sarah and Gilbert had four children, Adella, Wilbur, Florence and Burleigh. Sarah raised and sold canaries.  After her father’s death, Sarah and Gilbert Graves left New York in the winter of 1877.  They arrived first in Barber County, Kansas with two of their surviving children, Florence and Burleigh. Both children married in that county, Florence to Jared Hoag (that's them in the photo above) and Burleigh to Hattie Jesse.  Sarah and Gilbert made the Land Run into Oklahoma Territory on 16 September 1893.  Sarah kept a diary, which is in the possession of my aunt, of her life on the prairie.  They built a ‘half log and half dug out’ cabin along a creek.  The painting below was done in watercolor by my aunt.  It shows the log cabin after it was added onto two different times.  The log/dug out cabin was built onto, first adding a kitchen. The farm was mortgaged in August of 1906 for $400 so that a 4 room two story addition could be built on to the dug out to accommodate family planning to visit them in 1907.  The mortgage was paid off in August of 1911 and Gilbert died that November.  They had a cistern (as seen in this painting) that caught rain water for their household use.
  Sarah planted flowers on the roof of the dug out portion and continued to raise and sell canaries.   The dug out had a dirt floor which was swept and then sprinkled down with water to reduce the dust.  She draped sheets across the ceiling to keep the dirt from sifting down.  She lost one of her canaries to a snake that had crept in through the roof and into one of the cages.  They kept milk and butter cold by placing them in a bucket and lowering the bucket down into the water well.  They seined the creek for fish.   Their daughter Florence died the 28th of November in 1897 of consumption and the grandchildren, Mitchell, Ray and Elsie, came to live with them on the farm. For 10 years, 5 people lived in this little log/dug out cabin.  Gilbert was granted a patent on his homestead on the 25th of June in 1901.  Their son Burleigh decided to move his family to Alva so that his children could attend Northwestern Oklahoma State University.  Sarah moved to Alva with them, leaving the farm to Mitchell, Elsie and Ray.   Sarah died in 1925 leaving her brother, Anson, as her only surviving sibling. 

Mitchell married Mary Steinmetz in 1924 and they reared their family in the same house on the farm in Oklahoma
My mother and her six siblings were all born in this house. A brick brooder house for raising chickens as well as a hen house was erected on the farm and was still standing in 1997 when I last visited.  After Mitchell died, my grandmother Mary Hoag hired movers to move the entire house into Seiling, Oklahoma, leaving the original log/dug out cabin behind.  I painted a watercolor of the log/dug out cabin in high school and it still hangs on the wall of my parent’s home.  My aunt has painted many scenes of Oklahoma including the one above as well as the original home of Elsie Hoag who married John Steinmetz, Mary’s brother.  They married the same year and month as Mitchell and Mary.  Ray never married and lived in a one room cabin on the farm.  The family farm was sold by the heirs of Mitchell and Mary Hoag, I believe it was in 2005 but I don't have a copy of that record.

My goal in researching Sarah was to find as many original records and newspaper accounts of their lives.  I found her and Gilbert in the 1875 New York State Agricultural Census listing the crops and livestock they owned and sold, including butter and cheese.  I found marriage records for their two surviving children.  I found photos of the tombstones for Adelle and Wilbur Graves, they are buried in Saxe Cemetery in Jefferson County, New has been a wonderful resource for finding gravestone photos and clues to more information on Sarah and her family.  In 2004, one of my cousins and I got together and scanned 65 photos of the Hoag, Graves and Steinmetz families.  I then created a CD slideshow and mailed copies to all family members who wanted one.  There are still more original records out there waiting to be discovered.  I would like to visit Jefferson County, New York one day.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Chester Baseball Team

I found another photo of the Chester, Oklahoma baseball team that was shared on Facebook.  This one really excited me because the poster had the names of each player written on the photograph.  

My grandfather, Les Louthan, loved baseball.  His father, Samuel Louthan, played on a traveling team in Kansas and Oklahoma in the late 1880s.  I suspect he played in Missouri as well, but I have not found any newspaper articles to back my suspicion.  

On thing I should note, Harold is actually Howard.  All of these men are related either directly or by marriage.  All of these men can be found in the US Federal Census in Sheridan Twp., Major County, Oklahoma.  

In the Census image below, you will find Howard Louthan, Leonard Louthan, and Lee Chapman. They were all farmers.  Like many rural communities, baseball was a favorite passtime!

I downloaded all 19 images for the 1940 Census for Sheridan Twp.  My dad is found in this census for the very first time, he was listed as 1 year old, but he was nearly 2.   I also found my mother in the 1940 census. No surprises, that put both my parents at ease.  Census records are my favorite resource, not because they are completely accurate, but because they have so many clues! Oftentimes leading me on a real adventure of discovery!

By the way, I signed up for the 52 Week Challenge! I will make my first post Sunday, January 5th!