Last January 2018 I decided to try an experiment: from the birthday list generated by my RootsMagic program, I would make a list of ancestors and blog about one person per week for 52 weeks. I knew that I would have trouble following the schedule and topics outlined in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. My job as well as various commitments would have derailed me if I had not been able to write the blogs ahead of time and schedule them to publish each week. But the weekly inspiration from those who were following Amy were really helpful and when I could I tagged my blog with her topic.
What I learned
It is really hard to write 52 fully researched, carefully prepared, fully documented and illustrated essays. But that’s not the point of the exercise, so please keep reading.
The birthday theme only goes so far. Some weeks I just gave up on finding the perfect match and just picked someone I thought interesting.
My writing got boring. I found myself writing every post in chronological order: born, married, died, buried.
I really resented having to stop researching and just start writing. I found myself saying “just one more source” way too often. When this happened I had to remind myself that this was not “the end.” I could always come back if I found more.
Some ancestors just aren’t that interesting. “Lives of quiet desperation” aside, quite a few of my female ancestors, especially, just left me very little to work with.
You really can write 300-700 words quite easily if you just start writing.
You can have really interesting conversations with family members around what you got right and wrong (in their opinion) and learn new tidbits of information as you go.
What I want to do in 2019
52 weeks of family photographs. I am going to try to post a picture of a family member, group or dwelling place, write a short post identifying what I know and what I don’t.
I am also going to try to go back to all the folks I passed by on my birthday list. This may not result in long essays but I really enjoyed giving a voice to these people, and I want to continue writing.
This week in #52ancestors finds me back in Bradford County, Pennsylvania looking into my great, great grandfather James Edwin Hine and his family.
James Edwin Hine was born 28 April 1837 in Orwell to Henry W. (1806-1868) and Mary Craw Frost (1808-1889) Hine. He and his siblings Erasmus and Harlow were baptized on 8 August 1847 by the Reverend John Iveson of the Presbyterian Church of Rome. He does not appear in 1850 with his family, or even with close relatives. However, after paging through 32 pages of the 1850 Census for Orwell, Pennsylvania, I found a possible match in Edwin Hines, 13 years, living with a Uri Cook. Two of the entries on the page, James O. Frost and Chauncey Hill are distant relatives (James being the son of Aaron and Polly Craw Frost and brother to Mary Hine). Perhaps he was hired out to work for as farm hand having expressed an interest in farming. His father was a tailor and his brother a shoemaker, so agriculture might not have followed naturally. Oddly, in 1860 he appears in Willet, New York living with a farmer named Orleans Brigham. If there is a relationship there, I must not have all the pieces.
In 1862, he is back in Bradford county where he married Catherine Tyrrell on 30 December 1862. Catherine or Kate was born on 13 May 1842, the daughter of William Tyrrel (1813-4 Aug 1852) and Lucy Charlotte Doane (1820-1887). James and Kate Hine had two children:
Martha Eliza “Mattie” Hine (1864-1913)
Minnie Arabella Hine (1866-1931)
Sadly, Kate Hine died on 18 May 1868. James later married a second time, on 1 April 1870 to Ann E Phillips (1859-1929). James and Ann Hine had one child, a son Arthur T. Hine (1874-1962). I had the pleasure of knowing Arthur’s daughter Edith, but I digress.
James Edwin Hine appears to have gone by Edwin within the family but as James in more formal situations, which makes finding him a bit of a challenge. He appears to have spent most of his life’s work on his farm, appearing in Census records and little more that I can find. James died on 23 March 1915 and is buried at Tioga Point Cemetery.
Arthur Wells Jones is the subject of this week’s #52ancestors essay and one who benefited from the recent online publication of the Camden Courier-Post. With all sorts of news to work through I was able to find an obituary; unfortunately the obituary was filled with information which conflicted with what I had documented.
Arthur W. Jones was born on 10 Dec 1875 at Pemberton, New Jersey to Benjamin and Mary Elizabeth Carroll Jones. He married Anna Mary “Annie” Wells on 3 July 1900. She was the daughter of Moses K. and Florence Lewis Wells. They lived at this time in Pemberton, but I am not sure when they moved to Camden. Arthur and Annie had one child, Barclay Gibbs Jones, born on 30 May 1901.
Although the obituary made it sound like a recent move, evidence in the 1910-1930 censuses show that the Jones family was in Camden as early as 1910. At that time he was a steam car engineer, possibly for the Pennsylvania/NJ Railroad. Their home is listed as 136 Dudley St., Camden. By 1915, the family has moved to 309 N. 40th St., and in this census Arthur is listed as a “portable engineer,” a job title which intrigued me. According to the International Steam Engineer of 1914, this is “one who operates a boiler or machine which directly furnishes or transmits power for any machine, appliance or apparatus used on or in connection with building operations, excavations or construction work, but does not include an operator of a drill.” A union newsletter gave a much more understandable description: “The steam or power shovel was first invented by William T. Otis in 1839, but it did not see extensive use until after the American Civil War, when it was developed as a railway workhorse. The men who operated the shovels were known as portable engineers, to distinguish them from the stationary engineers.” Pretty cool to think of Arthur Jones as playing the role of Mike Mulligan in my favorite children’s book Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel.
In 1920, Arthur appears to have been employed as an engineer in a shipyard and it is not clear whether this is still railroad work or not. By 1930, Arthur was retired from the steam shovel business and listed his employment as “salesman, tea and coffee.” Family stories line up with this as operating a milk delivery route with a side line in groceries.
Arthur died at Cooper Hospital on 26 February 1936 and is buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Pemberton, NJ.
My essay this week in #52ancestors concerns my grandfather Barclay Gibbs Jones. I never met this man because he died before even my father was born. His legacy lives on, however, in both his name and his deep-set eyes. As I look through family photographs of the wedding trip taken by Barclay and Kathryn Prince Jones, I see aspects of my father, brother and nephews in the turn of his head, his smile and his eyes.
Barclay Gibbs Jones was born on 30 May 1901 to Arthur Wells and Anna Mary Wells Jones. He was their only child, which makes his early death all the more tragic. The family were active members of the Rosedale Baptist Church and Barclay appears often in the newspapers organizing young people’s events for the church, as well as other social gatherings. And young Kathryn Prince is present at most if not all of these parties. I do remember my father saying that my grandmother loved to go about socially and that as a youngster he was often dragged about as she did her visiting.
Barclay and Kathryn were married on 25 June 1924 at the home of George C. Prince (212 N. 38th Street, Rosedale. The newspaper articles describe in detail the quiet ceremony surrounded by snapdragons and carnations. The bride wore white Canton crepe with stockings and shoes to match. The honeymoon was in Niagara Falls, after which the bride and groom returned to 212 N. 38th St. while they waited for their own home on Scoville Ave. in Hillcrest to be finished. I don’t know if they ever even lived there, as Barclay died on Christmas eve.
I found among the family archives a little photo album that Kathryn Prince Jones made documenting their short life together. The wedding pictures appear to have been taken outside 212 N. 38th St. and, in particular show off some stunning concrete porch columns. I wonder if these are examples of the work Prince Concrete did, as I know they did a lot of porches and garages.
Wedding party: Minnie Prince is standing right behind Kathryn.
Barclay worked at Prince Concrete Co. and was apparently carrying cement blocks when he tripped over an oil can, the tip of which pierced his body. I remember my father once telling me that the injury developed into blood poisoning which was what caused his death. The final indignity of it all was to have his name so grossly misspelled in the paper that it took me ages to find it.
Barclay’s funeral took place in the same room he was married in seven months previously and he is buried under a simple marker at Bethel Memorial Park, Pennsauken.
Barclay playing a sousaphone, was this the one in our attic growing up?