Posts Tagged ‘obituaries’

Harman Updegraff & Margaret Miller

Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library

1850′s Pennsylvania Freight Locomotive (Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library)

Two things I can tell you about my ancestors: there are a lot of Margarets and a lot of accidental deaths.

Harman Alexander Updegraff was born 28 August 1821* in Somerset County, Pennsylvania to Harmon Updegraff and Rachel Howard.  He was a farmer in his early years and later became a conductor of a freight train of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Updegraff Residence

Updegraff Residence

Harman’s wife, Margaret Miller, was born 15 February 1820 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.  The two were married in March of 1845* and had eight children.  They lived in downtown Johnstown near the Baltimore & Ohio station, on Washington Street.

The Adams Sentinel and General Advertiser, 5 Dec 1860, p. 1

The Adams Sentinel and General Advertiser, 5 Dec 1860, p. 1

On November 29, 1860 while working somewhere between Derry and Latrobe, Harman fell from his train onto the tracks and was killed. He was only 39 years old and left his five young children and newly pregnant wife (two of their children had passed years earlier).  Harman was buried at the Levergood Cemetery but was later exhumed and interred in Grand View Cemetery.

As Margaret’s children grew up and got married, she permanently moved in with her daughter Margaret Angelina Williams. Her son William had moved to Harrisburg, George to Chicago, and Henry to New Castle, but James and Margaret Angelina stayed in Johnstown.  She was a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church and survived the Great Johnstown Flood in 1889.

On March 11, 1898 Margaret set off to walk from her daughter’s house to her son’s a short distance away.  Her daughter was concerned about her walking by herself, but she insisted that she did not need help as she had just walked from the train station the day before by herself. Just minutes after leaving the house, Margaret was struck by a Pacific Express Train, 37 years after her husband’s tragic death.  She was buried with her husband in Grandview Cemetery.

Johnstown Daily Tribune, 11 March 1898

Johnstown Daily Tribune, 11 March 1898

Source List

Aged Lady Killed by a Train.” Undated clipping, ca. 1898, from unidentified newspaper.

“Killed on the Railroad.” The Adams Sentinel and General Advertiser, 5 December 1860. Digital images, http://newspaperarchive.com/adams-sentinel : 2012.

“Updegraff.” The Johnstown Daily Tribune, 11 March 1898.

Grandview Cemetery.  Internment file, database. http://grandviewjohnstownpa.com/interment-search.php : 2012.

Pennsylvania. Cambria County. 1850 – 1880 U.S. census, population schedules. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2012.

Pennsylvania. Cambria County. Death Certificate. Clerk of Orphans Court, Johnstown.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS].  “Pedigree Resource File,” database.  FamilySearch.  http://www.familysearch.org : 2012.

*Note: Harman’s exact birth and marriage date came from the Pedigree Resource File.

Related Posts:

Loretta (Zillifro) Hutchinson & Oscar Hutchinson

Margaret (Davis) Updegraff

Updegraff Page

Genealogical Research Exchange

Library of Congress - Washington, DC

I often find that if I step away from a brick wall or mystery for a couple days or weeks, and approach with a fresh mind later, things start to fall into place.  In addition, nearly all of my former brick walls were solved with the assistance of fellow genealogy hobbyists.

With that in mind, I’d like to propose a little genealogical research exchange.  Send me one of your mysteries, problems, or outstanding to-dos, and I will send you one of mine.  Let’s work on it, as time permits, for the next month or two and then return back our conclusions.

Living in the metro DC area, I have access to many genealogical resources. Some of the things I can help with are:

  • Pull records at the National Archives
  • Newspaper search at the Library of Congress
  • Obituary search in local newspapers
  • Headstone photographs
  • Research at the Daughters of American Revolution Library
  • Help preparing for a research trip to DC (most of the work should done before you even get here)
  • Check over your current theories and conclusions

Some examples of my research problems and to-do’s include (but are not limited to): handwriting analysis, newspaper & directory research at local library, missing census records from 1900-1930, and help navigating Civil War records.

My goals are to help out a fellow hobbyist and to learn something new.  Send me an email if you’re interested!

The White House Library contains over 2700 books relating to American life. The Federal furnishings were made in New York, 1800-1820. The room is used for teas, meetings, and press interviews.

District of Columbia Genealogy Research

Do you have ancestors that lived in the District of Columbia?  Here are some suggestions on getting started with local DC records.

Newspapers
Birth, Marriage, and Death Announcements

DC Public Library:
Baltimore Sun 1837-1985
The Washington Post 1877-1994
Washington Times 1990-Present

You may search in any of the 25 DC Library Branches or online at home, but you must have a DC Library card.

NewspaperARCHIVE.com:
Washington Daily Globe 1837-1855
The Washington Post 1904-1924

Requires paid subscription.

Birth and Death 

District of Columbia Department of Health Vital Records Division:
Birth and Death Certificates August 1874 to Present
Birth certificate is public 100+ years after birth: application $23
Death certificate is public 50+ years after death: application $18

You must have an exact date, they do not do searches and do not allow researchers access to the records. Use the Family Search index (below) to find your ancestors before you order.  DC Department of Heath Vital Records does not do online requests, but you can order DC birth and death records (if they are public) through www.vitalchek.com.  Here are the FAQ & Guidelines.

Family Search:
Deaths and Burials 1840-1964 (index)
Deaths 1874-1959 (images available)
Births and Christenings 1830-1955 (index)

Marriage and Divorce

Family Search:
Marriages 1811-1950 (images available)
Marriages 1830-1921

DC Superior Court Marriage Bureau
Marriage Records 1811-1980
Divorce Records September 16, 1956-Present

You may request by mail or in person with a money order $10 made out to “Clerk, D.C. Superior Court.” Include full names, maiden names, and the date of marriage/divorce and mail to:

DC Superior Court Marriage Bureau
H. Carl Moultrie I. Courthouse
Room #4485
500 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

I highly recommend calling the court first before mailing in your request: (202) 879-4840

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia:
Divorce Records prior to September 16, 1956
Call first!  (202) 354-3050

They may ask you send over a fax with all the known details and they will email you a response, either a copy of the divorce record or the location it is held in the National Archives.

Cemeteries

Congressional Cemetery 
Founded in 1807 and contains many famous Washingtonians, including J. Edgar Hoover, John Philip Sousa, and Elbridge Gerry.  Walking tour guides and an internment index are available on their website. More information available at the National Park Service.

Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown

Oak Hill Cemetery
One of DC’s best kept secrets and by far the most beautiful cemetery I have ever been too.  Local Georgetown residents often take walks through the gardens.  Founded in 1849, the cemetery’s history is mostly of the 19th century with an emphasis on the Civil War.  Take a walk through and do a quick google search of any of the headstone names, like Paul J. Pelz or Philip Barton Key and you’ll find some wonderful historical gems! An index of internments is available on their website.

Holy Rood Cemetery (no official website)
Established in 1832 and contains about 7,000 graves, including 1,000 free and enslaved African Americans.  This historical cemetery has been neglected for years by it’s current owner, Georgetown University and very few headstones remain.  A list of interments can be found at the Georgetown University Special Collections Research Center, open M-F 9am-5pm.

Mount Olivet Cemetery

Rock Creek Cemetery

For a full list of cemeteries located in DC, try using the findagrave.com directory here.

Other

There are tons of other resources for researching ancestors in DC.  Ancestry.com has a list of DC specific sources and the Family Search library has lots of interesting books and microfilm available for ordering, such as District of Columbia free Negro registers, 1821-1861 and Who’s who in the nation’s capital.

A Few Of My Favorite Things

Old Newspapers

How else would I know that my 4th great grandfather died at at 90 with all his teeth?

The Library of Congress Chronicling America is a great starting point for old newspapers.  Not all newspapers are digitized, but keep checking as more are added everyday.  You can search for an ancestor’s name or event; I got lucky a couple times with digitized copies of the Pittsburgh Dispatch.

If you are interested in a newspaper that has not been digitized, the database gives a list of possible locations to search in person.  Click on the link for US Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present and make your selections based on city, county, state and you will get a list of all the newspapers from that location.  Click on any of them for more information and then at the bottom of the page click on “view complete holdings information.”  You may find the newspaper in a more convenient location if you’re unable to make a long-distance research trip.  For example, I’m interested in looking through the Advance Argus of Greenville, PA 1887-1917 which happens to also be located in Harrisburg, PA (for me, four hours less of a drive).

Always check with the local library directly to see if they have indexed any local papers.  One of my favorite resources for old news articles and obituaries is the Butler County (PA) Public Library.  They have an excellent online index and the staff responds pretty quickly to paper copy requests.  Other great indexes I often use are the New Castle Public Library’s Marriage/Obituary Database and the Rutherford B Hayes Library Obituary Index.  If the local library does not have an index (most do not) you may try to find a librarian or local genealogist that doesn’t mind looking up a specific date for you.

I also use newspaperarchive.com, which is a paid service for access to an unbelievable amount of digitized newspapers.  When I first started using it, it was pretty costly, but since then the price has gone down.  It has definitely paid for itself many times over in saving me request/research fees and travel costs.

Old Photos

You don’t get any vital details out of an old photo, but they certainly provide some great context to your relatives and the time period. This photo is of my grandfather in the late 1930′s. I can make certain assumptions (and generate more questions) based on the instruments, clothing, and facial expressions.

I’ve created family photo albums on flickr so that everyone can view and comment. Old family photos are great conversation starters, especially to those relatives that “aren’t into genealogy.”

History Detectives 

“Just like watching the detectives…”  If you haven’t seen the show History Detectives on PBS, you are really missing out.  Each episode starts off with an artifact, story, or photo that very little is known about.  The History Detectives then investigate to find the real story behind the object.  Oftentimes, they will incorporate genealogy in their investigation.  From their website “History Detectives is devoted to exploring the complexities of historical mysteries, searching out the facts, myths and conundrums that connect local folklore, family legends and interesting objects.”  Every episode is fascinating and I always think “wow, I wish I had learned this in history class.”

Family History Books & Google Books

This is my favorite thing to just mess around with.  Just go to Google Books and type in a name or event you’re researching.  I’m currently doing research on my Updegraff lineage and by typing in Updegraff (or Op den Graeff) and then filtering for the 19th century, I get a list of interesting books that range from religion to historical accounts and biographies.  What is great, is that most of these books have been out of print for decades and the information and context you get is pretty unique.

Many Universities also contain old digitized books and lineages, including The University of Michigan Making of America Digital Library.  Each archive contains different books, so you should browse through various search engines.  FamilySearch.org has made it easy to sort through some of the collections here, which includes databases from Brigham Young University and the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research.  The lineage books contain lots of great clues and while it’s not recommended to copy other people’s trees, they may direct you to to the actual source.

Sunday’s Obituary – Loretta Zillifro-Hutchinson

New Castle News, August 3, 1948 Front Page

New Castle News, August 3, 1948 Page 2

On 23 July 1948, Roscoe Campbell Hutchinson was electrocuted while on the job at the National Tube company.   He was 51 years old, leaving a wife, four children, two brothers, two sisters, and his mother Loretta Hutchinson.

A week after Roscoe’s unexpected death, Loretta Hutchinson stepped around a large commercial grass mower and was hit by a car driving 45 mph.  She died instantly. It’s believed that Loretta was crying about the recent death of her son, that she never saw the car coming. Loretta’s sister, Ethel Gold, who witnessed the tragic event, developed many health problems as a result from the shock.

Loretta is buried with her sons Roscoe and Victor at the Locust Grove Cemetery in Ellwood City, PA.

(Relation: Loretta Alice Zillifro → Cametta Marie Hutchinson → Robert Lee Updegraff → Barbara Updegraff → Me)

Sunday’s Obituary-David H. Davis

Johnstown Daily Tribune - Friday, June 18, 1886

If only all obituaries were this informative!  Here we have the complete birth date, location, marriage date, wife’s full name, immigration year, children’s names and locations, and memberships.

Finding out the specific area of origin from “across the pond” can be pretty difficult to come by.  Cardiganshire, as listed in the obituary, is one of the thirteen traditional counties of Wales.  In 1996, the county was reconstituted under its historical name of Ceredigion.

Welsh immigration into what is now known as Cambria County, Pennsylvania began in 1796.  Most of which were skilled industrial workers, such as miners.  The name Cambria is actually the latinized version of the word Cymru, meaning “land of Welsh.”  To this day, Pennsylvania has the largest population of people with Welsh ancestry.

For more information on David Davis’ wife Catherine Harris, click here.

(Relation: David H Davis → Margaret H Davis → John William Updegraff → Robert Lee Updegraff → Barbara Updegraff → Me)

Sunday’s Obituary-Walter Harris

I believe this is the oldest obituary I have of a direct ancestor, Walter Harris, my 4th great grandfather.  Walter was born 1769 in Wales.  He came to America at the age of 85 with his wife, Sarah, and settled in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  He died 10 years later in 1864.  His obituary is particularly interesting:

The Cambria Tribune – 29 January 1864

Walter must have been very proud of his health, particularly his dental hygiene, for his relatives to relate this fact to the columnist.  Another great detail is that he reared a large family; I’ve only been able to locate records for 3 of Walter’s children, but that may just be a fraction of his total offspring.  After all, his daughter Catharine had 16 children.

(Relation: Walter Harris → Catharine Annie Harris → Margaret H Davis → John William Updegraff → Robert Lee Updegraff → Barbara Updegraff → Me)

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