Sunday, May 28, 2023

Brothers in Service

Memorial Day is to honor and remember those who did not return from military service. Fortunately for my family, the majority of my ancestors who served in any war came home. These are final payment sheets for two of my great uncles, brothers Virg & Orville McGrath, who served during World War II. Click on the images to enlarge enough to read.

Virg was discharged on December 4, 1945 at Ft Logan in Colorado WDPC (Western Data Processing Center). He came back to Aurora, Nebraska where he spent the rest of his life. He died July 5, 1982 at the age of 72.

Orville was discharged on February 16. 1946 at Fort George G Meade in the Baltimore area of Maryland. On August 23rd of that year, Orville married Ethel Jaeschke in Baltimore. They later moved to Denver, Colorado where Orville worked for the US General Accounting office there. He died October 9, 1969 at age 55.

Orville on the left, Virg on the right.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Old Time Religion

One way of practicing my typing when I was learning that skill was to type up the lyrics to my favorite songs. I would record the song off the radio, play it back line by line, over and over making notes until I was sure of the lyrics. Then type a nice final copy. I guess Sadie and Alice didn't have a typewriter.

Handwritten lyrics to old church songs or religious folk songs were found in the old trunk in the attic. I've said before that I think my Great Grandma Sadie Negley and her sister Alice were Sunday School teachers.  They must have liked music, but I don't know if either of them could play piano or any other instrument.

Not knowing if these were real songs, I Googled each one of these and was surprised to find most of them.

"Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart", written by Lelia N Morris (1862-1929).
There are YouTube videos of this song being sung by Patti Page, the First Baptist Church of Pacific Beach, George Byrd and more.  has a printed copy of the music and lyrics from as early as 1890. 

"Don't Stop Praying", written by Edna Randolph Worrell (1873-1961). A copy of this music is on her Find A Grave memorial. Edna wrote a long list of songs, "while she did her housework". The oldest copy of the music on the Hymnary website is from 1908.

"Never Alone", by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (1851-1920). On YouTube there are a few different videos of church choirs singing a song with this title, but somewhat different lyrics than these. Again, oldest copy found on Hymnary is from 1890.

Other handwritten song lyrics include:

"A Picture No Artist Can Paint", author unknown (Ballad Index).  Apparently there are two different songs with this same title. Artists like Bobby Darin and the Leake County Revelers recorded a song by this title, but with different lyrics (found on YouTube).

"Never Pass Them By", lyrics found in a Latter Day Saints publication called Autumn Leaves, Vol 21, p 181 in 1908 (Herald Press, Lamoni, IA), without music, found on Google Books. 

"Take Good Care of Mother", by F Harding, copyright 1887.

"Singing of His Love", I couldn't find anything about these lyrics. The handwriting of this one is not like the others, but the paper is just as old. The first verse goes:
 "Happy as the songs that the birdies sing; are the songs of love, to the Savior King; Singing of his love makes our hearts so glad, We would never more be sad".

One song sheet was written in ink on linen-like paper and the handwriting is different. "Life's Railway to Heaven", was written by Charlie DD Tillman (1861-1943), J R Baxter and M E Abbey. A copy from 1890 is on Hymnary. Johnny Cash recorded this song and a video can be found on YouTube.

We must make the run successful, from the cradle to the grave. 

Monday, March 6, 2023

William Mann's Parents

There are so many men named William Mann who came from England, it's a difficult name to research. Without any mention of his birthplace or parents' names in any records I had found, I was lost on my Second Great Grandfather's ancestry. Until someone posted the record of his second marriage on the Family Search website.

This page of a marriage register from Peoria county, Illinois for the year 1896 shows "William Mann" of "Harbine, Jefferson Co. Neb", a "farmer" age "66" who was born in "Forncett, Norfolk" is the son of "Robert Mann and Elizabeth Groomes". This is definitely the marriage of "my" William to Mary Armstrong, his second and her first marriage. I've edited the image above to show it all on this page. 

So, it's exciting to learn his parents' name and birthplace, but...

Also posted is this record of a baptism for "William, bastard son of Elizabeth Mann." The Baptism occurred on February 22, 1829 in Forncett, St Peter, his mother listed as a spinster. William Mann's birth date is consistently listed as February 12, 1830 in every other record I have, but for various reasons dates can be incorrect.

The heading on this record reads:
Baptisms in the Parish of Forncett, St Peter in the County of Norfolk in the Year 1829
The last line reads:
Col 1 When Baptized:  1829 February 22nd No. 228
Col 2 Child's Christian Name:  William Bastard son of
Col 3 Parents Name, Christian:  Elizabeth
Col 4 Parents Name, Surname:  Mann
Col 5 Abode:  Forncett St Peter
Col 6 Quality, Trade, or Profession:  Spinster
Col 7 By Whom the Ceremony was performed: (not sure) 

Forncett is about 110 miles northeast of London, and 10 miles southwest of Norwich. St Peter's is a church parish located there. Click on the link for more information and a photo of this historic church on Wikipedia.

So, did Robert Mann exist? Should I look for a Robert Groomes? Another record posted on Family Search for Elizabeth Mann shows her burial in the year 1847 at the age of 60. This would mean in 1829, she was about 42 years old. She lived in a Union Workhouse in Forncett, I need to find out more about that place. More research on these names might turn up some other records. Could this be why little information can be found about William Mann's heritage? 

Whatever the case, William Mann traveled to America on his own, married a widow with a young daughter, raised her and seven children of his own, was married to his first wife for 33 years, became a successful farmer and left a legacy to be honored. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Centenarian Eliza Menke

Eliza (Knapp) Menke

A few months ago, I notice this photo of Eliza Menke posted on Family Search by Laura Quimby. It was possibly taken at her 100th birthday party, but I can't say that for sure. I want to share this great picture with my Menke relatives. Below is an article I wrote for the Nebraska State Genealogical Society's quarterly publication, "Nebraska Ancestree" (Vol 44-1, 2021)

A Century of Eliza

Born near Wurttemburg, Germany in 1841, she left with her family before the revolution of 1848. She died in Nebraska in 1944 while members of her family were fighting a war against her home country. In between, she "led a life of feverish activity."1

Heinrich & Caroline (Schukky or Schocke) Knapp welcomed Elizabeth, their first baby girl on May 15, 1841. Their two sons, Frederick and Lewis were still toddlers, and another son, Heinrich Ernst, was born a few years later. Because of the economic hardship and political unrest in Germany, Heinrich & Caroline made the decision to take their family to America. Eliza was just 4 years old when she spent eleven weeks sailing at sea in 1845. They passed port inspections in New York City, and traveled on to Scioto County, Ohio, where father "Henry" got work in the mines. Four more children were born in Ohio between 1848 and 1857 - Mary, Hannah, August and George. 

On January 13, 1867 in Scioto County, Eliza became the wife of 34 year-old widower Henry Menke, as well as mother to his four children. At that time, Mary Ellen "Emma" was 9, John Frederich was 6, Henry Jr 3 and "Lizzie" was 1. Their own children started filling their home in 1868 with a daughter Ann Caroline. In 1869 a son, John, was born and died. A string of daughters started in 1870 with Mary, in 1872 Mathilde, 1874 Katharine, 1877 Eliza and in January of 1879, Rosa.

In 1878, Henry took a tour of western states and made the decision to move his family to Nebraska in the spring of 1879. Eliza's parents may have seen her for the last time that spring. Traveling by boat down the Ohio river to Cincinnati, then they boarded a train bound for Atchison, Kansas. From there likely by wagon, they headed northwest to Gage County. The family, minus the oldest daugher Emma who stayed with relatives in Ohio, settled on a farm two miles south and one mile west of Clatonia, in Section 33. 

A son, George Edward, was the first to be born in Nebraska in 1881, followed by daughter Nettie in 1883, son Lewis who was born and died in 1885. At age 45, Eliza gave birth to her eleventh and final child, Charles Albert in 1886.

A lifelong Christian, Eliza had a pious upbringing in the United Brethren church with her parents. Her husband Henry was also devoutly religious and occasionally served as a local preacher. Prior to his death in 1915, Henry arranged his own funeral text and songs himself. "Together, they established a church in the home, where services were held." 2 They were members of the German Methodist Church and later Eliza united with the Methodist Episcopal Church of Clatonia where she still held membership at her death.

Soon after getting settled in Clatonia, Eliza started planting flowers and vegetable gardens. Over the years, she became known for her beautiful gardens. She took a serious interest in their orchard, and she taught herself how to develop different species of fruits from seeds. Her fondness of birds and love of nature in general were a characteristic to be admired in her.

Eliza Menke is credited with having one of the first mechanical chick-incubators and brooders in her part of the country.3  Articles in several Nebraska newspapers in February of 1897 are touting the "latest thing in the chicken business is the electric incubator".4 The 1885 agriculture census shows Eliza had 110 chickens and 200 dozen eggs were produced in 1884. Those numbers likely increased around 1900. Eliza was also one of the earliest people in the area to operate a sorghum mill. She was a pioneer in the truest sense of the word, and as matriarch of the family was likely an inspiring roll model.

Education, science and religion were topics that were held in high regard in the Menke household. Henry Menke, Jr graduated from the Peru Normal and later the University of Chicago. He designed and patented a revolving fan in 1885. He also became an ordained Minister of the Gospel and preached in Iowa, Missouri and Michigan. Eliza's other step-son John Frederich ran a successful grocery business for over 30 years after he moved back to Portsmouth, Ohio. Eliza's son George Edward also became a U.S. Patent holder in 1912 for a railroad loading device, and later invented a corn sheller he called a "Little GEM" (his initials). Daughter Mathidle was a switchboard operator for the telephone company she and her husband ran.

With Eliza's large family, many big family reunions were held at her home. She was known for her hospitality and visitors were always well entertained. Besides her own children, she had many nieces and nephews in Nebraska, some nearby and others out west. Her sister Mary became Mrs John Boggs and they raised their family near Tobias. Another sister Hannah and her husband Conrad Smith were residents in Garden County. In 1988, 72 descendants of these three sisters gathered for a reunion in Firth.

The Menke farm in Section 33 was home to Eliza until after her 90th birthday and she celebrated her 100th birthday at the place she helped build and knew for 62 years. She was able to live by herself until after that milestone. In her final year and a half on earth, as her health began to fail, the Anna Rohe Nursing home in Lincoln became her home. Her strong heart kept going for 102 years, 8 months and 17 days, then beat for the last time on February 2, 1944.

Descendants of Eliza & Henry Menke are: Ann Caroline "Carrie" & Louis Kloepper; Mathilde & WilliamH Daubendiek; Katharine & John Henry Wayman; Eliza Jane & Richard Kiene; Rosa & Lewis Wayman; George E & Kathryn (Detmer) Menke; Nettie & Franklin Steinmeyer; Charles Albert & Charlotte "Lottie" (Roscoe) Menke and their many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and a continuing line of generations to come. Eliza had outlived her husband, all of her siblings, her four step-children, five of her own children and eight grandchildren. The Menke farm was sold at auction on August 5, 1944 sixty-five plus years after Henry & Eliza first set foot on the land.

1Obituary, Eliza Knapp Menke”, The Beatrice Times for Women, February 16, 1944 pg 1


3Obituary, Eliza Knapp Menke”, The Beatrice Times for Women, February 16, 1944 pg 1

4Something New in Incubators”, Seward Weekly Reporter, February 18, 1897, pg 1

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Rock, Paper, DAR

The Daughters of the American Revolution as a lineage society is well-respected for it's devotion to accuracy. The DAR requires documentation of each link in a family’s lineage to a Revolutionary War Patriot. The connections of each generation in the line must have approved documentation to support the relationships.

Joining the DAR for me was a way of validating my genealogy skills. When I found I connected to a Patriot through each of my Grandparents, I made it my goal to prove each line through DAR and to honor each of them with their proven lineage to a Patriot. My paternal Grandparents are descendants of Asa Corbin and Stephen Bliss. My maternal Grandfather is a descendant of John Adair, Sr (and Jr). My maternal Grandmother is a descendant of Libbeus Simmons, Sr, but after many years of searching, my application was denied due to lack of documentation for two of the links in two generations. DAR had the Scissors to my Paper.

Family notes told me my 2nd Great Grandparents were John McGrath and Rachel Simmons, Rachel was born somewhere in Pennsylvania. Searching for Rachel in the 1850 Pennsylvania census, when she was a young girl, I found an 8 year old Rachel with parents Lebius and Ruth Simmons. Then I found a Libbeus Simmons listed as a Revolutionary War Patriot. Seeing some information that the Patriot had a son named Lebbeus, who was too old for the father of Rachel, led me to believe there was a line of 3 men named Lebbeus Simmons. Exact spelling having no significance, I am sure of this line of men. The problem is finding any documentation to prove this - a Rock I'm up against.

The records I need fall into a time period where record keeping was sparse in the locations they were living. Births, marriages and deaths may have been recorded at the time, but those records did not survive until they were compiled and published. I have always tried my best to be accurate with my family history research, including finding actual documentation to link each person through the generations. The records I need here just don't seem to exist anymore. There is no contradicting information, nothing that doesn’t make sense. Awritten analysis of the connection between two generations is allowed only once. I wrote an analysis for the link between Rachel and her father Lebius III to no avail. Can there be any prophecy in my naming this blog “Old Trunk in the Attic? What I need might have to come from someone's personal stash of very old papers, if they have kept them this long. Does anyone have a Simmons Family Bible from the early 1800's? 

Until I can cover the Rock with a Paper that the DAR will accept, the DAR takes this one. But we're going best of 3. 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

December Anniversaries in the Family Tree


and December trees are brown


Bell family ancestors

15th - Benjamin Franklin Spann died 1901, age 74

29th - John Silas Bell died 1878, age 64

McGrath family ancestors

7th - Josiah Foster Negley born 1846 (son of John & Ruth Negley)

8th  - John Negley died 1884 age 76

27th - Ruth (Foster) Negley died 1895, age 87 

31st - Charles Lee died 1861, age about 41

Menke family ancestors

4th - Henry Menke born 1832 

11th - Mary Crosby Fero born 1836 

17th - Caroline Schukky born 1813 

25th - Heinrich Knapp born 1805

Mann family ancestors

20th - Anna (Rich) Gaisford died 1882, age 64 

22nd - John Potter Smith died 1903, age 78

Mattingly family ancestors

Boone family ancestors

 Tunk Spalding family ancestors

27th - Mary Louisa (Abell) Spalding died 1900, age 68

Hutt Spalding family ancestors

2nd - Cora Lula Spalding born 1889 

3rd - Mary Jane Abell born 1817

18th - Ann Melvina (Simms) Spalding died 1911, age 80

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

November Anniversaries in the Family Tree


When November's leaves fall faster...


Bell family ancestors

3rd - Martha Eveline Bell born 1842

4th - Martha Eveline Bell died 1928, age 86

McGrath family ancestors

24th - Rachel Jane Simmons born 1841 

26th - Susannah (Case) Lee born 1822 

Menke family ancestors

2nd - Ole Jorgenson & Caroline Magrethe Peterson married 1866

7th - Charles Albert Menke born 1886

19th - Kenneth Charles Menke & Doris Darle Mann married 1938 

28th - Kenneth Charles Menke born 1917 

Mann family ancestors

Mattingly family ancestors

20th - Joseph Hamilton "Ham" Mattingly & Harriet Elizabeth "Lib" Spalding married 1934 

Boone family ancestors

2nd - John G Ballard & Elizabeth Nally married 1814 

Tunk Spalding family ancestors

7th - Joseph T Spalding & Harriett Elizabeth "Bettie" Thomas married 1879

9th - Joseph Abner Abell II & Martha Nancy Mills married 1819 

13th - Robert S Thomas born 1803 

20th - Harriet Elizabeth "Lib" (Spalding) Mattingly born 1911 

26th - Harriett Elizabeth "Bettie" (Thomas) Spalding died 1896, age 37 

? - Mark Theodore Thomas born 1834

Hutt Spalding family ancestors

28th - Elizabeth (Beaven) Luckett died 1850, age 65 

24th - John Hudson "Hutt" Spalding & Mary Susan Isabelle "Belle" Luckett married 1874