Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Brothers Separated for Twenty-five Years Reunited

My grandfather Aldred Erskine had an older brother named Cyrus Melvin Erskine. Sometime after Cyrus filled out his World War I registration card in 1917 he disappeared. No word, no connection was made with Cyrus for a long time. The story in the family is that Cyrus was declared legally dead after he had been missing for about 25 years. I have not found an official death record to verify this part of the story, but today we know more about Cyrus because of the newspaper record that documented his sudden return to the family. My mother had this newspaper clipping in her scrapbook. Her father, Aldred Erskine was a police officer for Burbank, California. One day when he was at work, Cyrus showed up to surprise him. Here's the full story from the newspaper account:

If Police Desk Sgt. Aldred Erskine could duplicate at will that expression of suspense, surprise and joy that he enacted spontaneously last night, he probably would be snapped up by the movies. His eyes popped, his mouth flung open as if moving automatically on hinges and his face turned pale momentarily as he looked up from his desk at police headquarters to peer into a smiling face that seemed familiar. Suspense across his face faded to surprise and then joy, "Cy!" exclaimed Erskine as he hopped off his chair and lunged forward to clutch an extended hand.

Clutches Extended Hand
It was the hand of Cyrus Erskine, a brother the police officer hadn' t seen for twenty-five years. The story goes back a quarter of a century when the four Erskine brothers - Aldred, Cyrus, John and Thomas were living in the family home at Richmond in northern California. The eldest of the four, Cyrus, a young man then, decided to go east. He settled at Dallas, Tex. Later he moved to Miami, Fla., where he engaged in the real estate business during the Florida boom.  

Address Lost 
Meanwhile, the other three brothers, now grown, moved from the family residence. Cyrus left Miami. Addresses were lost and correspondence, previously only occasional, ceased entirely. Last fall Cyrus decided to return to the coast. On Christmas day he arrived in San Francisco , hoping to find his brothers somewhere in the bay region. Thumbing through the telephone book, he found the name of Thomas Erskine at Richmond. Not sure that was his brother, he telelphoned. A few hours later the pair was reunited at Thomas' home. Aldred and John, the latter a resident of Glendale, soon received word that the "long, lost" brother, feared dead, was very much alive.

Arrives Without Warning
 John drove north during the week-end to see Cyrus. He returned last night and without any previous warning dropped Cyrus off at police headquarters, and the third of the series of reunions followed. A sheet metal man, Cyrus has decided to settle here, and seek employment in the aircraft industry. He is making his home for the present at the police officer's residence.

Research To-Do
  • The date and name of the newspaper is unknown. Aldred retired from the police force on 1 Nov 1951, so the reunion was before that date. I expect to be able to find the article in the local Burbank newspaper. 
  • I found Cyrus in the 1910 Census and the WW I Draft Registration, but I have not found him in the 1920 or 1930 Census.
  • I hope that when the 1940 Census is released I will be able to find him. I hope the clues obtained from his residence in 1940 will also lead to finding him in the 1920 and 1930 census records.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

1901 Wright family publication

In 2002 I found an old history of the Wright family that included a lot of my own Wright ancestors. The booklet was published in 1901: Genealogy of the Wright Family from 1639 to 1901 - Eight Generations; compiled and written by Rev. Henry W. Wright of Petersburgh, Mich. A.D. 1901. (Middletown, Conn.: Pelton & King, Printers and Bookbinders. 1901). The owner of the book was trying to find a living direct descendant so she could reunite the book with family. One person had already contacted the owner, claiming they were direct descendants. I felt bad and I had missed this opportunity to be reunited with the oldest publication I know of for my Wright ancestors. The FHL Catalog describes this booklet as:
Benjamin Wright (d.1677) immigrated from England to Guilford, Connecticut during or before 1645, moving about 1659 to Kenilworth (later Killingworth, now Clinton), Connecticut. Descendants and relatives lived in New England, Illinois, Michigan, California and elsewhere.
A couple months passed and to my surprise I received a package in the mail with (you guessed it) the original publication and a short note: "The person that I promised the Wright booklet to never followed up to show they were actually as closely related as they originally claimed - so I'm sending you the actual booklet instead of the photo copy." You can image how thrilled I was that day to be blessed with such a rare copy of the Wright genealogy.

I never could find the booklet on Google-Books, but did find three other locations where this booklet exists:

1. The Family History Library catalog has a copy of the book on Microfilm.
2. The FHL Catalog entry links to an online version of the booklet at the Church History Catalog site.
3. The Library of Congress has a copy of the booklet (Microfilm 72234).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Aldred Erskine 1896-1964

Longtime Burbank Police
Sergeant A. Erskine Dies
Aldred Erskine, 68, a Burbank police sergeant for 22 years before his retirement in 1951, died Sunday in Sepulveda Veterans Hospital.  Born in Superior, Wis., Mr. Erskine was employed as a machinist at Hydro-Aire Corp. for the last 10 years.  Mr. Erskine joined the Burbank Police Department on Jan. 27, 1930. His first duty was on a motorcycle followed by assignment to the patrol division. In 1937 he was appointed sergeant. A Burbank resident for 32 years, Mr. Erskine resided at 1718 Landis St.  He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Burbank Second Ward.  He was a veteran of World War I.  Mr. Erskine leaves his widow, Frances B.; a daughter, Mrs. Dorothy Elaine Johansen of Lake View Terrace; four brothers, Charles C. of Burbank, Thomas of Richmond, John of Ontario, and Lawrence of San Jose; and nine grandchildren.  Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Eckermans Funeral Service Chapel.  Interment will be in Glen Haven Memorial Park. (Obituary clipping obtained from the daughter, Dorothy. Date of publication and newspaper is unknown.)

Aldred Erskine was born 30 Jan 1896 at Superior, Douglas, Wisconsin. His parents were Charles Clarence Erskine (1868-1933) and Minnie Steffens (1873-1940). Aldred had seven brothers: Cyrus Melvin, Thomas Francis, Miles Maywood, Charles Clarence, James, John Milton, and William Lawrence; and two sisters: Evaline Dorothy and Minnie May. Aldred became a certified deputy for the city of Burbank, California on 30 Jan 1930 and retired on 1 Nov 1951. He died 31 May 1964 at the Veteran's hospital in Sepulveda, California. Burial was at Glen Haven Memorial Park.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Doan's Pills

I am going to share a story that might be a little stretch of the imagination to include it in the "Shopping Saturday" theme. The story is about my great-grandparents George and Rebecca [Richards] Hartley. While researching for stories to include in the Hartley family history I was working on, I came across several articles in an old newspaper that featured my great-grandparents endorsing a medical product called Doan's Pills. The name of the product sounded so familiar to me, but I couldn't place it. What are Doan's Pills? I kept digging. (See the Wikipedia article on Patent medicine.)

I had no idea George and Rebecca were part of the medical industry's marketing. George was a jeweler and watch maker by trade. After I found several of their product endorsements for Doan's Pills in the newspapers, I had to include the story in the family history. I love to use photos to help make the stories come alive, so I went searching on for an old Doan's Pills bottle that I could buy. I was lucky and won the bid for the little bottle.

Ogden Standard Examiner
I can imagine my great-grandparents going into the local drug store and buying their Doan's Pills as part of their weekly trip into town. I knew they grew a garden, so I wonder what else they bought while they were in town. I wonder even more how they got involved in the marketing of Doan's Pills.
A Reputation
How It Was Made and Retained in Ogden
  A good reputation is not easily earned and it was only by hard, consistent work among our citizens that Doan's Kidney Pills won their way to the proud distinction attained in this locality. The public endorsement of scores of Ogden residents has rendered invaluable service to the community. Read what this citizen says:
  George Hartley of 2806 Adams ave., Ogden, Utah, says: "Mrs. Hartley has used Doan's Kidney Pills with great success in the treatment of kidney complaint and backache. Upon the advice of a friend we procured this remedy at W. S. Badcon's drug store and in a short time we found that Doan's Kidney Pills lived up to the representations made for them in every particular. We can recommend them as the best kidney remedy we ever knew of and believe that they will do more for that trouble than anything else procurable."
  For sale by all dealers. Price 50 cents. Foster-Milburn Co., Buffalo, New York, sole agents for the United States.
  Remember the name - Doan's - and take no other. (This advertisement, published in The Ogden Standard Examiner, was repeated throughout the year during 1906, 1907, and 1908. Similar advertisements appeared in The Box Elder News during 1912. See Utah Digital Newspapers online for copies of the newspaper articles.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jane Milnes 1885 Funeral Card

Jane Milnes, died 3 Jan 1885, buried 6 Jan 1885 (age 16)
Kirkheaton, West Yorkshire, England. Daughter of George and Sarah Milnes.

Farewell, farewell, my parents dear,
Brother and sister kind,
And my companions whom I loved,
I leave you all behind.

To me you all were kind and true,
While here on earth I dwelt with you,
Then do not mourn you've done your best,
You kindly loved me to the last.

This funeral card was originally owned by my mother's uncle, Elton Hartley. Elton was the family genealogist for the George and Rebecca Hartley Family Organization until his death. Elton lived in Utah and throughout his years of research, he corresponded with family members in England about the genealogy. Many family members sent him photos, funeral cards, newspaper clippings, and details of vital records in their correspondence. This funeral card is just one of many in Elton's collection which was handed down to his daughter after his passing. I have had the privilege of making digital copies of all the records for preservation purposes, thanks to his daughter Lola.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The 1867 Erskine Family Bible

I didn't know that we had a family Bible in our family's possession until a few years ago. My mother gave the Bible to my brother and he told me about it. Publication date was 1867. The "family record" pages are all filled out, including marriage and other events that pre-date the publication. I took several pictures of the Bible, from all angles, and all pages with writing on them. The last two pages of the Bible are almost completely gone.

The Bible belonged to my 2nd great-grandfather, Thomas Erskine 1836-1904 and his wife Evelinah Huff 1836-1909. He wrote his marriage date and place in the Bible on one of the Family Record pages. The couple had five children, Cyrus Melvin, Frances Wilda, Mary Jane, Charles Clarence, and Florence Lillian. (Charles is my great-grandfather.) The two daughters, Mary and Florence, preceded both Thomas and Evelinah in death.

Thomas Erskine was 5' 9" tall, light complexion, auburn hair, and blue eyes. He joined the Ohio Volunteer Infantry at McArthur, Vinton Co., Ohio on 10 March 1864. He was captured in the battle of Gainesville, Florida and taken to the Andersonville Prison. Thomas was one of the very few who escaped from Andersonville. He was discharged 13 June 1865 and went to Missouri where his was Charles was born.

Thomas died on 8 May 1904 at Menomonie, Dunn Co., Wisconsin and was buried at the Evergreen Cemetery. His wife Evelinah went to live with their oldest son Cyrus in Cloquet, Carlton, Minnesota after his death. Eventually she moved to California and lived with their daughter Frances. Evelinah died 9 February 1909 at Ukiah, Mendocino Co. California.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

George, Andrew, and Rebecca Hartley

George and Rebecca [Richards] Hartley, with their son Andrew.
Taken about the time they immigrated from England to America in 1889.

Headstone Monuments for Johan and Juliane Johansen

I've never been to Iowa to see where my great-grandparents, Johan and Juliane [Hansen] Johansen, were buried. These headstone photos were taken by their son, my grandfather, Johan Roy Tolve Johansen. Grandpa got interested in his genealogy during the 1960s and on a trip back to Iowa to see his half-brother Armand Madsen, he also visited the place where his parents were buried. My grandfather's sister, Alma Christine [Johansen] Jones, was also buried in this cemetery, but sadly the cemetery does not have a record of her burial.

Johan and Juliane were both born in Denmark. Juliane immigrated to the United States in 1888. Johan's immigration date is unknown. They were married in Omaha, Douglas Co., Nebraska in 1893. They had two children, Alma born in 1895 and my grandfather Johan born in 1900. My grandfather was always known as Roy T. Johansen. Four months after Roy was born the family moved to Ringsted, Emmet Co., Iowa. They lived in Ringsted for ten years and then moved to Clinton, Clinton Co., Iowa. A year-and-a-half later, Juliane passed away. My grandfather was only 11 years old when his mother died.

Johan remarried, a lady named Mary Waldorf, and they eventually moved out west to Arizona. In 1940 Johan died and his body was sent back to Iowa for burial next to his first wife Juliane.