Posts Tagged ‘welsh immigrants’

Sunday’s Obituary – Margaret Davis-Updegraff

Margaret H. Davis was born 19 January 1861 in Johnstown,1 Pennsylvania to David H Davis and Catherine Annie Harris, both immigrants from Wales. She was the 5th child of 13 born to David and Catherine.

Margaret Davis married Henry Herman Updegraff in 1881.  Her siblings considered her “marrying well.”  The young couple moved to New Castle between 1885 and 18892 (just before the horrendous Johnstown Flood of 1889).  Margaret and Henry raised four children: Clarence David, Royer Howard, John William, and Alma Catherine.  Margaret’s younger sister, Rachel Davis also lived with Margaret and Henry until she was married to William G. Fischer in 1901.

Margaret hosted many social events for her children, especially her daughter Alma.3  They had a cottage at Brady’s Lake in Ohio and in one instance in 1904, Margaret and her sister Rachel Fischer took the two oldest children (Clarence and Royer) and their girlfriends (to whom they were later engaged) on a vacation there.  The family appeared in the “Society Section” of the New Castle News over 20 times between the year 1900 and 1920.

27 September 1945 - Youngstown Vindicator

Margaret was certainly the matriarch of the Davis and Updegraff family.  Not only did she host many family and social gatherings but she also cared for many.  In addition to caring for her younger sister Rachel, she also took in her niece, after her sister-in-law (widow of Margaret’s brother Luther John Davis) passed away unexpectedly.  When her niece, Irene married, the couple continued to live with the Updegraffs until they could afford a place of their own.

In 1923, Margaret’s husband, Henry Herman Updegraff passed away.  She moved to Youngstown, Ohio to live with her son John William and became the primary caregiver for her two grandsons Robert Lee (my grandfather) and John Leroy.  Margaret was a very important person in my grandfather’s life and according to my mother “she could do no wrong in his eyes.”

Margaret passed away on 26 September 1945 of heart failure.  She is buried with her husbad in Graceland Cemetery in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

1 The obituaries posted in the Youngstown Vindicator and New Castle News have conflicting birth dates: 23 January 1861 and 19 January 1861, respectively. Margaret’s death certificate lists the birth date as 19 January 1861.
2 Royer Howard was born in 1885 in Johnstown and the next child, John William, was born March 1889 in New Castle, indicating the family moved sometime between 1885 and March 1889.
3 To read more about the events and gatherings Margaret hosted with her daughter Alma, click here.

Click here for a list of sources used.

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)

Who is this?

I had this photo labeled as James Joseph Murphy, but I’m starting to think this may be someone else.  James J Murphy died in 1917 at 36 years old.  This man looks a little older, don’t ya think?  To give some comparison, the photo on the right is actually James J Murphy.

The hair part is different, but the eyes and cheeks are very similar.  Could be him, his father, or someone completely different.  What are your thoughts?  Does anyone know where the photo on the left came from?

Murphy Reunion Photo

One of my favorite family photos.  The Murphy family in Youngstown, Ohio 1955.  Let me know if I have misidentified someone.
1. Patty Ann Gallagher
2. Margaret Arnaut
3. Owen W Gallagher
4. Mildred Elaine Murphy
5. Unknown
6. Unknown -possible friend of Mildred Elaine Murphy
7. Edward Murphy
8. Mildred Whitacre
9. Robert Lee Updegraff
10. Katherine Irene Murphy
11. Leo Arnaut
12. Margaret Ruth Arnaut
13. Margaret Beake
14. Terrence Arnaut
15. William James Arnaut
16. Ruth Louise Haney
17. Cheryl Arnaut
18. Virgil Leonhart
19. Delores Jean Murphy
20. Dennis Wellington
21. Margaret Murphy
22. Charles Wigton
23. Sharon Lynn Arnaut
24. Margaret Richards
25. Daniel Charles Updegraff
26. Elizabeth Lou Updegraff
27. Pearl Murphy
28. Barbara Lynn Updegraff
29. Elizabeth Murphy
30. Diane Kathy Gallagher
31. Dennis Murphy
32. William Arnaut (Leo Arnaut & Margaret Beake’s son)
33. Robert Lee Updegraff, Jr.
34. William Arnaut (William James Arnaut & Ruth Louise Haney’s son)
35. Lottie Ann Leonhart

My Mom’s Great-Greats

I got this idea from Genea-Musings and Family Tree Magazine and thought it would be interesting.  Charts and graphs are fun to make, not to mention this entire blog post took about 15 minutes to do.

Here’s what I did:
1.  Listed the birthplaces of all 16 2nd great grandparents.  For simplicity, I’m used my Mom’s 16.
2.  Made a pie chart of said ancestors and birthplaces.

Here’s what it looks like:

All of my Mother’s 2nd great grandparents were born between 1820 and 1854 and all of those born overseas, died in America.  I’m a little surprised at how many ancestors at that time were already in America.

This is what it looks like if I include the individual states:

Here’s the data set (my Mom’s 16 great-great grandparents):

Harman A. Updegraff – Pennsylvania
Margaret Miller – Pennsylvania
David H. Davis – Wales
Catharine Annie Harris – Wales
William T Hutchinson – Pennsylvania
Ann Marie Jamison – Pennsylvania
Egbert T Zillifro – Pennsylvania
Sarah Ellen Willis* – Pennsylvania
William W Duncan – Ohio
Jennie Salina Ford – Ohio
James Rostrom – England
Annie Nora Slave – Ireland
William Murphy – Ireland
Katherine Aspery – England
John Richards – England
Ann Williams – Wales

*Unconfirmed -some sources indicate this may have been a Seneca Indian named Rebecca, also likely born in Pennsylvania.

Catharine Harris-Davis of Wales

Obituaries are fantastic sources of information.  Dates and names are great, but hints at what kind of people your ancestors were are priceless.  I love searching through old newspapers, especially the society section and obituaries.  Usually the articles are short and give a couple little clues, but this particular obituary is practically a novel in comparison.

For copyright reasons, I cannot post the actual obituary online.  But, I will summarize below and can also email you a copy if you wish.

Catharine Harris-Davis
(grandmother of John William Updegraff, great-grandmother of Robert Lee Updegraff, my 3rd great grandmother)
Monday, August 19, 1895
The Cambria Tribune

Born in Blaenavon, Wales on 19 August 1833 to Walter and Sarah Harris.  She married David H. Davis on 21 November 1851.  They came to America in 1854 with a young son and daughter.  Unfortunately, the young daughter died during the voyage and was buried at sea.  The young couple and child settled in Johnstown, Pennsylvania; David Davis purchased land and built a house on the corner of  Vine and Walnut Streets.  He was also the proprietor of a hotel on Washington Street.

Catharine and David Davis had SIXTEEN children.  Catharine buried seven of her children, one of which was killed in Montana.  She died on 18 August 1895 (one day before her 63rd birthday) after she became ill and took to her bed eight months prior.

Not only does this give us her birth information, parent’s names, date of immigration, children’s names, and street address in Johnstown, Pennsylvania; but what I found most interesting in the obituary was the naming of the church Catharine attended in Wales.  Catharine was once a member of the Blaenavon Congregational Church, and a little bit of research revealed that the church, built in 1820, is still standing and is a designated World Heritage Site.  This is why I love genealogy!

Click here to read more about the history of Catharine Harris-Davis’ hometown and church.  The history of religion in Blanaevon is also fascinating; “nonconformity became too conformist.”

I think this definitely requires a trip to Wales for more research!

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