Sunday, June 14, 2015

James Henry Pattillo (1814-after 1900) My Paternal 2nd Great Grandfather Part 1

Goode Bank in Boydton, Virginia, 1899
James H. Pattillo was the son of Samuel W. Pattillo and Sally C. Phillips. He had three younger brothers, Robert Alexander, Charles Madison, and Edward M. Pattillo. They had one sister Ann R. James and his siblings were all born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Mecklenburg is located on the southern border of the state. He was born during the war of 1812 against Great Britain and when James Madison was president. He and his siblings grew up living on a farm.

When James was 31 he and Susan C. Land were married on December 16, 1845, in Mecklenburg. Their first child, a son, Robert Henry was born in 1847, and my great grandfather James William was born May 15, 1848. Sadly, his mother Susan died shortly after James W. was born – very likely during childbirth. Left with two infant sons, James chose to marry Susan’s older sister Louisa J. Land on September 4, 1849, when he was 35. They were married across the state border in North Carolina, because it was illegal to marry your widow’s sister in the state of Virginia. James and Louisa had two additional children - daughters Sarah Zerelda, born in 1853 and Ada, born November 4, 1857. 
Jame H. and Louisa J. Land's record of marriage

The name James is significant in our family. Our first ancestor to immigrate to the United States was James Pattillo – my 6th great grandfather. He was born in Scotland in 1690 and came to the United States in 1716. His son, James Jr. was the first to be born in the United States in 1725, in Prince George County, Virginia. James Henry’s first son was James William who also named his first son James H. This James was born in 1882 and died in 1883.  James William’s oldest son that lived to adulthood, Lewis gave the name James Edward, to his first born son. James Edward is my father. This is the sort of tradition that makes family history research challenging. I have 17 James Pattillo’s in my database, so far.

James Henry was educated – probably by a private tutor hired to teach him and his siblings at home. We know he was educated because as an adult he held positions that required him to have an education. On the 1870 census, James was living with his wife Louisa, two daughters, and Elizabeth Walker and her daughter. Elizabeth was identified as a “teacher in family”. Most likely, Elizabeth was a war widow – from the Civil War – and hired herself out as a teacher in order to support herself and her daughter. James H. hired her to educate his children. It is likely his father had done the same. There was a large college in the town where James H. and his family lived – Randolph-Macon College, but there are no records of any Pattillos having attended. Randolph-Macon was a Methodist college. The Pattillo’s were most likely Presbyterians. 

1850 Census showing James H., Louisa J., and sons Robert and James

Land Owner, Farmer & Entrepreneur
Throughout his life James purchased property to start and expand his farm and other business endeavors. All were in Mecklenburg County. When he was 24 he bought a 307 acre parcel for $1200 on Cox’s Creek. The next year he bought 100 acres for $150. Then in February of 1853 he acquired a 440 acre parcel on Coleman’s Creek for $1100. In October of the same year he purchased a steam-powered sawmill, also on Coleman’s Creek, a little south of the town of Boydton. In January of 1857, James and his brother-in-law John B. Land made an agreement with Benjamin Lewis Jr. to purchase 408 acres on Layton’s Creek for $800. This parcel was known as the Hayes tract, and adjoined land that John already owned. John was Susan and Louisa’s younger brother. Another court case proved that James and John B. Land were in business together as Land and Pattillo. They cut, milled and sold lumber.

In 1860, James acquired three additional parcels. He bought a 66-acre and a 9-acre tract of land on River Road from Alfred Boyd, and a 222 acre tract from William Townes for $1400. Finally, in 1863 there is a record of his buying 250 acres at the fork in the road at Fields & Fields Mill Roads. The deed for this parcel noted that he paid $11 per acre rather than giving the total price. This last purchase, made when he was 49, occurred in the middle of the Civil War – James must have felt optimistic that the Confederates would win the war. All total these acquisitions add up to 1762 acres. I don’t know if he owned this much land at any one time. He may have sold some parcels in order to purchase others.
 
Survey of  66-acre track of farmland James purchased in 1860
While traveling in Virginia in spring of 2014, I went to the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Boydton – the town where our ancestors lived. Boydton is a small, low-income town in southern Virginia, founded in 1812. It is located just north of the border with North Carolina. In 2014, the town had a population of only 430 and was a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The county courthouse in Boydton is a Roman Revival style brick building with four ionic columns and was constructed in 1838-42. It was listed on the National Register in 1975.

I went to the courthouse to look up the deed records for all the Pattillos who lived in the county, for the time period when the county was first formed in 1764 to the early 20th century. The oldest document I found was from 1772. It was about James Pattillo (1725-1785), my fifth great grandfather having purchased 190 acres on Cox’s Creek from William and Martha Douglas. The most recent record they had been dated 1928. One of the records I found, dated October 15, 1845 was about a dispute between James and Edward Pattillo, his brother and a man named Lewis William. James had borrowed money from Williams and his brother Edward served as his surety. Both James and Edward believed the debt had been paid back but Williams was disputing that.

From this court document I learned that James and Edward were in business together. They owned a mercantile store and had sold supplies – “a hogshead of sugar and 2 bags of coffee” to Williams. So, it sounds like they owned a general store. According to Wikipedia, “A hogshead was used in American colonial times to transport and store tobacco. It was a very large wooden barrel. A standardized hogshead measured 48 inches long and 30 inches in diameter at the head. Fully packed with tobacco, it weighed about 1,000 pounds.”

As part of this business James agreed to sell 6000 mulberry sapling shoots (Morus multicaulis) to Williams. The saplings were to be delivered between October and November in 1840, and each sapling was to be 6-feet high at a minimum. Williams had agreed to pay 2 ¾ cents for each sapling or $165. This seemed a peculiar piece of trivia that was explained by a textile history website.
 
Mulberry leaf - grown to make silk
The story of the silk industry in America dates to the earliest English settlers in Virginia.  James I tried to compel Virginia tobacco planters to stop cultivating tobacco, plant mulberry trees and sustain silk worms to supply raw silk to English factories.  As early as 1623, he decreed that a planter would be fined £10 if he did not cultivate at least ten mulberry trees for every 100 acres of his plantation.  Bounties were extended in 1657:  10,000 pounds of tobacco for every £200 worth of silk or cocoons in a single year.  The bounty was extended, dropped, extended again and abandoned.  No one wanted to "farm" silk when they could grow tobacco.  Silk was too labor-intensive.

In the early decades of the 19th century, silk culture continued to entice investment.  No one hit it big but people kept trying.  There was tremendous speculation in the 1830s.  A new variety of mulberry was introduced from China by way of the Philippines, then France and into Baltimore.  Gideon B. Smith was introduced from China by way of the Philippines, then France and into Baltimore.  Gideon B. Smith planted the first trees there in 1826.  Growth was more rapid and the leaved were several times larger.  When news spread, nurserymen were inundated.  The demand soon exceeded supply and a wild rush took place.

When James was born his family was living in the county of Mecklenburg. I have a Circuit Court record dated 1819 that confirms that they were living in the town of Boydton. James was still living in Boydton when the 1850 and 1860 censuses were taken. On the 1850 census, they noted that his property was valued at $3235, which was a little more than every other property owner listed on that page.  He owned a total of 600 acres, 47 of which was “improved” which probably meant it had been cleared and his house and other structures were built on it. He owned machinery valued at $30, and $261 worth of livestock. 
Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Boydton

On the 1860 agriculture census James owned 450 acres of which 150 were improved. The value of his farm was $4000 plus he owned furnishings valued at $100, 3 horses, 5 milk cows, and 1 “other stock” – probably a pig. The value of his livestock was $400. The census recorded that he was growing sorghum – a grain grown primarily as livestock forage. The rest of the information provided on this detailed census was not legible.

By 1870, James had moved to the neighboring community of Hansford in the town of Christianville. Christianville, now called Chase City or “The City” is also in Mecklenburg County. On the 1880 census, James was living in Lunenberg County, in the Lewiston District. He was living with his daughter Ann and his son Robert, Robert’s wife Belle and their two children, James Nelson and Robert Watkins Pattillo. The last census James appeared on was the 1900 census. At that time he was 86 and was back living in Christianville. Christianville was named for Samuel C. Christian, a merchant from Scotland and the first postmaster.

Like his father and grandfather, James was a farmer – a tobacco farmer. When Dianne and I visited the site of James' farm in 2014, the land had been purchased by a timber company that was using it to grow pulp wood. The remains of 6 buildings and structures were visible from the road. These included a collapsed stable, a chicken house - a low, small building with a flat roof, a flue-cured tobacco barn with mud dabbing between the timbers, a corn crib, a utility barn and a smoke house.

John Caknipe, a local historian who took us to the property, explained that the house had been gone for a long time - probably destroyed by termites. It would have been constructed on high ground and all the farm buildings were been in the back yard.  The house would have been similar to the barn stylistically with the bedrooms upstairs and the living room and dining room downstairs. Each slave family would have had their own house.

John explained that James’ land would have been considered a farm – not a plantation. To be considered a plantation owner one needed to have at least 1000 acres of land, have at least 20 slaves, be educated and own a library.

In addition to growing tobacco, the primary cash crop, James would have been growing vegetables for his family and 13 slaves who helped work the farm. He had chickens, probably 30-35 hogs, 50 sheep, and 10-12 milk cows. Excess crops and animals would have been sold to Randolph-Macon College, as would those of his neighbors - the Wootens, Carters and Jones.

Tobacco was the primary crop grown in Virginia – it was grown there as early as 1632 according to Susan Bracey in her book “Life on the Roaring Roanoke”. Bracey notes, “It was a crop of especial importance to Mecklenburg because, in part, it was responsible for the establishment of several towns and for much of the economic fortunes of the county.” She continues, “The cultivation, inspection, transportation and sale of tobacco were the source of much concern.” 
Tobacco warehouse in Mecklenburg

As early as 1753, locals campaigned for a tobacco warehouse to be built in Mecklenburg County so they would not have to ship their tobacco to the port of Petersburg for processing. In 1792, the town of St. Tammany was laid out near the Roanoke River where tobacco could be loaded and shipped out. A tobacco warehouse was built by 1793 that enabled them to do tobacco inspections there as well. The town of Clarksville – across the river from Boydton was established in 1818 and was promoted as “the richest tobacco country in the state of Virginia”.



James Henry Pattillo (1814-after 1900) My Paternal 2nd Great Grandfather Part 2

Civic Life & Role During the Civil War
This is the house James & his family lived in during the time
he served as Superintendent of the Poor House
In 1848, when James was 34, the Governor appointed him Superintendent of the Poor House. This was one of only 5 appointed positions the Governor made, so it was a prestigious appointment. James’ father and grandfather had both lived in Mecklenburg County. His grandfather Solomon died in the town of Boydton. So James’ family would have been well known. He was an important person in the community who was no doubt was well-regarded by his peers so a good candidate for appointment. During his time in office James and his family lived in the superintendent’s house near the poor house. It was a symmetrically design, 2-story structure with a stone foundation, 2 dormers and 2 brick chimneys. The poor house is where poor county residents, war widows and the disable lived. Residents worked on the Poor House farm raising food for them and for sale. Two years after his appointment James was elected to serve a second two-year term.
 
Mecklenburg County Poor House
Susan and Louisa’s father Robert Carter Land died sometime before April 1847.  Some sources say he died in 1844 but it wasn’t until 1855 that his estate was being settled in Chancery Court. Susan and Louisa’s brother Robert W. Land (1818-1877) was named administrator. The land and property in the estate was divided among Robert’s wife Elizabeth and their children. Because married women were not allowed to own property at that time James Henry inherited the portion of the estate that was left to both Susan and Louisa. This no doubt explains why the value of what James Henry owned was greater than anyone else listed on the page in the 1850 census. On September 19, 1855 James Henry and Robert W Land filed a $1000 bond and James was named administrator of his deceased wife Susan’s estate.
Poor House smokehouse (white structure), relocated

On September 27, 1856 James was appointed as the attorney-in-fact for Alexander W. Land- another of James’ brother-in-laws, and was charged with overseeing the sale and distribution of Elizabeth B. Land’s estate. Elizabeth was his mother-in-law.

In October of 1861, John T Wootton was appointed surveyor of the Boydton to Clarksville Road from Randolph-Macon College to Townes plantation. He was authorized to use hands from six farms. James provided one laborer to work on the road as did five of his neighbors. They built the section between Butchers Creek and Randolph-Macon College. The road was about 100 yards way from James and Louisa’s farm. The other farms that loaned labor included D.N. Carter, J.W. Wootton, and Wm H. Jones. According to Wikipedia “Boydton/Clarksville was the terminus of the 19th-century "Boydton Plank Road" which led to Petersburg. This 80-mile road was covered with wooden planks, making it superior to other roads which were just unpaved dirt and rutted.”

During the Civil War (1861-1865) James was too old to enlist. Instead he was appointed Captain of a militia group. In that capacity he and a group of his neighbors were responsible for patrolling the town and Randolph-Macon College. Other members of the squad were R.H. Isbell, James Steward and Wm. Snead. Randolph-Macon was founded as a Methodist Seminary and was an important institution in the county. During the Civil War it became a military cadet training school. After the war the school was relocated to Ashland, Virginia. The Boydton campus closed in 1868 – 3 years after the Civil War ended. The ruin of the college building still stands, now covered with vines and piles of brick that have fallen off this once impressive building. 
Ruin of Randolph-Macon College in Boydton, 2014

James also contributed to the Confederate war effort by providing 190 pounds of sheaf oats to help feed soldiers horses. A document from the War Department dated December 28, 1863 was a receipt for $7.60 for the oats James delivered on October 15, 1863. It was signed by Jack E. Haskins, Quartermaster CS Army and by Jas. H. Pattillo.

On September 17, 1873, James appeared in the Mecklenburg Circuit Court to respond to a contempt of court charge for failing to appear for jury duty – guess they took such things more seriously at that time than they do today.
War Department receipt for sheaf  oats
supplied by James H. Pattillo
In January of 1878 James served as a trustee for Mary Jane Pattillo, his brother Edward’s wife, so she could purchase a five-acre tract of land adjacent to where James was living. This deed did not mention Edward.

After the Civil War
When the civil war ended the land James and other confederates owned was so heavily taxed that many were forced to sell their land. According to John Caknipe, “the tax was as much as 100% of the land value, so the only way to pay the tax was to sell the land.” This is how the civil war was paid for and the country rebuilt. The tax was repealed in 1868 but by then it was too late - most farmers had lost their land.

It appears that James was one of those farmers who was forced to sell his land. I found a document dated September 1, 1866 in which James sold to his brother Edward a one half interest in his 246 acre farm on the headwaters of Layton’s Creek for $5. In exchange, Edward provided a bond for $1242.79 to cover James’ debts. This was the parcel that James had purchased jointly with his brother-in-law, John B. Land. In addition to the land he sold one horse, a pair of mules, a stock of hogs, his cattle and sheep, his household and kitchen furniture, plantation utensils, a small carriage, one buggy, one wagon, one cart, and all of his crops of every description.  
James would have come here to the Boydton Tavern to
accept his appointment as Captain of the Militia

The document then detailed all of James’ debt, which were divided into three categories. The first class debt was owed to the estate of R. Walker who had sold the land to James and John. James also owed $408.36 to his sister-in-law Sarah F. Land and $670.80 to N.S. Edmunds – likely a relation to his sister Ada who married Lewis J. Edmunds. He owed $45 to a Dr. L. Watson and, interestingly the document specified that he was to pay Edmund A. Davis $400 in “Confederate currency”. Given that the Confederates lost the war that money was probably not worth much. There were six other first class debts.

Second class debt was money owed to Dr. William H. Innis against a loan of $800 that James and John B. Land took out for their lumber business. Third class debts were owed to Alfred Boyd & Son and Edwin C. Terry. The document said that James would “retain possession of the property conveyed until the same shall be sold to execute the purpose of the trust. The trustee is hereby authorized and directed to apply the proceeds of the sale of said property after first paying the expenses of executing and recording this deed to the payment and discharge of the debt.”

After he sold the farm and much of what he owned, James moved to Christianville and likely continued to farm but as a share cropper. Sharecropping is a system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on the land.

James’ oldest son James William left Boydton sometime between July 1860 when the census was taken and April 2, 1879 when he married Carrie B. Stover in Tarrant, Texas. It is probable that James W. left shortly after the Civil War ended, knowing that there was little reason for him to remain in Virginia. I can imagine that this would have been extremely difficult for everyone. The Pattillo’s had lived and prospered in Mecklenburg and nearby counties for five generations. They had owned large acreage of land, had standing in the community – and then rather suddenly everything was taken from them with the Confederate defeat. The lives they’d known for generations were profoundly changed. James W. chose to leave Mecklenburg and everything familiar in order to make a new life for himself. It is doubtful that James Henry ever saw his eldest son again, or any of James William’s children.  
James William Pattillo with his 3 oldest
children Jo, Mary & Lewis

James’s second son, Robert Henry Pattillo remained in Mecklenburg, married and had five children, 2 sons and 3 daughters. Interestingly, three of Robert’s children followed their uncle to California and lived in Los Angeles. Robert’s eldest son, Robert Nelson Pattillo worked with James William in the concrete finishing business, and later started his own concrete business. Robert Henry died in July of 1899 when he was only 41 years old. His father James would have been 75. Louisa, James’ second wife, died sometime before the 1900 census.

During this time, James Henry witnessed the marriages of four of his children after the war concluded. Sarah Z. married John W.Gaulding in 1874 when James was 60. Then Robert H. had married Belle Nelson in 1875, James W. married Carrie Brooks Stover in 1879, and his youngest, Ada married Thomas W. Browder in 1888.

The last census that James appeared on was taken in June of 1900. At that time he was living in Christianville with his youngest daughter Ada, her husband Thomas and their four children. Thomas was a farmer. James probably died in Christianville. Someday I hope to visit Virginia again and will look for his grave or other evidence of when he died and where he was buried.

James Henry Pattillo's signature


Sources: US Censuses, Circuit Court documents, will book records, marriage record, Fold3 and John Caknipe, Historian

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Susan C. Land (ca. 1817 – ca.1849), My Paternal Second Great Grandmother

Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Boydton where Susan lived
Susan C. Land was my great grandfather James William Pattillo’s mother. She was born about 1817 probably in Buckingham County, Virginia where her older sister and younger brother were born. Buckingham County is located in the geographic center of Virginia. It was formed as a county in 1761 and was a farming region when Susan lived there. She was the second child of Robert Carter Land and his first wife Sarah, whose last name is unknown.

Their first child, a daughter named Louisa J. Land was born in 1815 and their third child, a son named Robert W. Land was born in 1818. Susan’s mother Sarah died sometime after Robert was born, so Susan’s father Robert married a second time to Elizabeth Brame Hutchison.

Elizabeth was the daughter of John Hutchison and his wife Sarah. She was born in 1801 and married Robert Carter Land on the 5th of April in 1824, when she was 23 years old. Elizabeth and Robert had five additional children in the following order. Sarah Ann Francis born about 1826; Helen M. Land born about 1827; Elizabeth Amelia born 1829; John Braxton Land born October 4th 1833; and Alexander Wesley Land born about 1836.   Susan’s stepmother Elizabeth died on May 1, 1855.
 
Boyd Tavern in Boydton designed by Jacob Holt, 1785
Elizabeth’s father, Robert Carter Land died in 1844. His will was dated December 26th, 1844 . In the will he left one third of his estate to his wife Elizabeth and the remaining two thirds was to be divided equally among his eight children. His property would have included land, household furnishings, animal stock, as well as 17 Negro slaves. Susan received a young girl slave named Eliza valued at $375, and she had to pay her sister Sarah $6.25 and her brother Alexander $12.50, in order to make the division between the 8 siblings of equal value.

Robert Carter Land owned multiple pieces of property. His family lived on a 195 acre parcel between Black Stone Creek and Walkers Spring Branch in Buckingham County, Virginia. One of several documents I found at the Library of Virginia, included with his last will and testament, has a surveyor’s drawing of the family farm.
Robert C. Land's farm where Susan grew up,  Buckingham Co., Virginia

On December 16th 1845 Susan C. Land married James Henry Pattillo in Mecklenburg, Virginia. Susan’s brother Robert W. Land served as the surety - “a person who takes responsibility for another's performance of an undertaking”, and Charles M. Pattillo, one of James Henry’s brothers served as a bondsman – “a person who stands surety for a bond”.  Mecklenburg County is 75 miles south of Buckingham County on the southern border of the State of Virginia. Traveling 75 miles in 1845 would have been a fairly significant journey, so it makes one wonder how they met and courted one another.
Corn crib on James Henry Pattillo's farm, Boydton, Virginia

Prior to their marriage James Henry had purchased at least two parcels of land in the city of Boydton in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. He bought 307 acres on Cox’s Creek in 1838 and another 100 acres in 1839. The county of Mecklenburg was organized on March 1, 1765 – it split off from Lunenburg County that had grown too large and was divided into 3 counties.  Boydton was incorporated in 1834.  A new County Courthouse was built at 911 Madison Street in 1838-42. Today, the courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2002, the entire town of Boydton – including 199 contributing buildings - was designated a National Historic District.
Tobacco barn on Pattillo-Land farm

Dianne and I visited Boydton in 2014 and toured the town and nearby area with local historian John Caknipe. John took us to the farm that had been owned by James Henry Pattillo – where he and his family lived and grew tobacco.  The 275 acre site is now overgrown with brambles and sapling trees.  John pointed out the remnants of James’ farm buildings – a smoke house, the slave quarters, a chicken house, a stable, a corn crib, a utility barn, and a tobacco barn. There was no trace of the home where James and Susan and/or her sister Louisa lived.
Household furnishings of the period, Clarksville, VA museum

Susan gave birth to two children - a son Robert Henry Pattillo was born in 1847. Her second child, another son James William Pattillo, my great grandfather, was born May 15th 1848. Both were born in Mecklenburg County. I have not found a record of Susan’s death but I do have a record of James  marrying Susan’s older sister Louisa on September 4, 1849. It suggests that Susan had died during childbirth or as a result of complications from the birth. Henry would have needed a wife to help him raise his two young sons. Hopefully, Henry and Louisa’s marriage and life together was more than just a practical solution to the problems created by Susan’s untimely death.
Typical slave quarters pre-Civil War


Interestingly, James ’s brother Robert Alexander Pattillo also married one the Land daughters – he married Susan and Louisa’s stepsister Helen M. Land on November 21, 1849 – about one month after James married Louisa.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Heinrich Friedrich Menge (1852 - 1940), My Maternal Great Grandfather

Heinrich Friedrich Menge
Heinrich Friedrich Menge was born May 31, 1852 in a town called Goslar in Hanover, Germany. According to Wikipedia Goslar is a UNESCO World Heritage site. He was the son of Heinrich Christian Menge and Joanne Prelle. Heinrich Christian was a glove maker but that is all I know about him. I don’t even know if there were other children in the family – probably there were several children but until I go to Germany to do research we won’t know. 

According to the 1940 census Heinrich Friedrich “Henry” left school after completing the eighth grade which was not unusual at that time. In about 1869, when he was only 17, he served in the German army as a lieutenant. Ten years later he married Elizabeth Ingles Stolte on September 16, 1879. Elizabeth was the daughter of Louise Bremeke and Casper Stolte, a cooper master – someone who made kegs and barrels. Henry named his daughter Emma Louise no doubt after his mother-in-law.
Page from Emma Menge's book about her parents written in German

When Henry was 27 his father Christian died in February of 1880. About a year and a half later he and Elizabeth immigrated to the United States. They sailed from Bremen, Germany and arrived in New York on September 9, 1881 – the same year that US President Garfield was assinated. I don’t know how they traveled to California but it was probably by train, and I don’t know what they did in route but they were in San Francisco by 1883 and were living at 520 Folsom Street when their daughter Emma Louise Menge was born on August 1, 1883. 
Emma Louise with her parents Heinrich & Elizabeth

As early as 1884 Henry was listed in the San Francisco city directory (equivalent to a telephone book) working as a “bandagist” at J.H.A.Folkers & Brothers at 118 Montgomery Street. An ad in the 1890 directory lists J.H.A. Folkers under Truss Manufacturers and describes the business as manufacturing the: “Best Trusses, Shoulder Braces and Apparatus for Deformities. Only first class Goods on hand and to order.” 

In 1885, when Henry was 33 he was still living in San Francisco at 909 Buchanan but by March 17, 1886 he had moved to the East Bay and was living in Oakland where his son Heinrich “Henry Jr.” Friedrich was born. From 1888 to 1892 he lived at 911 Adeline Street in Oakland in what was identified as a “pre-industrial home” according to the census records.  This would suggest it was a simply built structure lacking post-industrial amenities. Today that site has been redeveloped as the Courtyards at Acorn – an affordable housing complex. In 1892 the Menge family was living at 1450 Fruitvale Avenue. Henry continued to live at this address until sometime after 1907.  By 1912 he had moved to 1505 11th Avenue where he continued to live for 28 years until his death in 1940.  Sanborn maps from 1910 to 1923 indicate the house was valued between $1300 - $2400, they show he had $200 of personal property and a car valued at $100. In 2014 I went to the site but the home was gone. 
Sanborn map showing Henry's property on E. 15th & 11th Ave

According to voter registration data Henry became a naturalized US citizen on August 30, 1888. A handwritten note stamped “Vital Search” and dated 4/19/22 provides several details of information: Henry is described as a native of Germany since 1852; he lived at 1450 Fruitvale Avenue near 16th Avenue from 1888-89. That property is now a commercial building that houses several small businesses and La Clinica.  The census showed his occupation as a truss maker, and that he was naturalized in Brooklyn Township, Fruitvale Precinct 3, in Alameda County. So he was naturalized before Brooklyn had merged with Oakland and was still considered a separate city. After becoming a citizen he registered as a democrat consistently.  
Note found on Google regarding Henry's naturalization

On January 6, 1890 Henry and Elizabeth’s second son Hugo Friedrich “Fred” or “Fritz” was born in Hildesheim, Germany. So they went to Germany to visit family and while there Fred was born.  Their daughter Emma would have only been 6 ½ when they made the trip but she remembered and talked about having gone to Germany with her family.

Henry’s wife Elizabeth died on June 12, 1895 from pneumonia when she was only 40 years old. Henry spent a few years as a widower before he married for the second time to Edna Francis Scholtzhauer, known as “Addie”.  Addie was born on May 11, 1858 in El Dorado County, California and worked as a matron at St. Paul’s Hospital in Oakland. It was a second marriage for Addie as well. She and Henry had a daughter named Adelaide who was born in February of 1898, so at 15 Emma and her brothers had a half-sister. Strangely, I have no recollection of Gramma ever speaking of a sister though there were many references to her brother Henry and a few of her brother Fred. Addie had 4 other children from a previous marriage but by 1900 only 3 were living. I only know the name of one of these children – she had a daughter named Dorothy Scholtzhauer nicknamed Doad – rhymes with Toad – must have been a great cause for teasing.
Addie Schlotzhauer 

On August 8, 1922 Addie and Henry visited Germany again to see relatives. They left from New York on a ship called Manchuris and landed in Hamburg. Henry’s passport application verifies several key statistics about his life and it also provided a photo and physical description as follows: he was 5’10”, had gray hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, and “a full face with a medium nose, medium forehead, medium mouth and round chin”.  He had “no distinguishing marks”. His granddaughter Dorothy Menge described his personality as “an old goat and a grouch”. 

A newspaper article dated September 12, 1903 notes that Henry and Addie purchased lot 7 of the Bray Tract in Brooklyn Township. Another article dated April 28, 1907 reported that they gave the lot to Henry’s son Henry and his daughter Emma. This was a few months before Emma married John Thornally, so the land may have been a wedding gift. The Bray tract is the same part of Oakland where William Thornally purchased a tract of land and developed it with his son Will Jr. as single-family homes. Addie died at 68 on January 11, 1927 and is buried at St. Mary’s cemetery in Oakland.

At some point Henry formed his own business – the Pacific Truss Company or he may have taken over Folkers and renamed it. The Pacific Truss Company was destroyed during the San Francisco earthquake and fire. The Oakland Tribune’s April 19th 1906 coverage of the aftermath of the fire and earthquake included a story that referenced the Pacific Truss Company.  The headline read: “Opera Company has Terrible Experience” and referred to Mr. and Mrs. Menge who “lost $10,000 in the destruction of their store occupied by the Pacific Truss Company, at 321 Twentieth street, besides $600 advance rent they had paid on the building.” The article also noted that Mr. and Mrs. Menge were connected with Maison Piedmont – a restaurant owned by Paul Schlotzhauer who no doubt was a relative of Henry’s wife Addie Schlotzhauer.

Shortly after the earthquake Henry and his son Henry Jr. opened a branch of the Pacific Truss Company in Oakland where they continued to manufacture trusses and surgical instruments. In 1908 the business was located 317 Elm Street. Other Oakland addresses were on 12th Street and at 520 8th Street which was a vacant lot in 2014. Between 1908 and 1925 the Pacific Truss Company regularly appeared in newspaper ads. A 1908 Oakland listing identified Henry Sr. as the President of the business and Henry Jr. as the Vice President. An ad in 1914 referred to the business as “Menge’s Truss Company”.  
Ad for Pacific Truss Co. Oakland Tribune

A November 24, 1911 headline in the Oakland Tribune announced: OAKLAND ATTRACTS FACTORIES, Many Branch Plants Established, IMPORTANT SALES MADE THIS WEEK! Business Property in Demand on Leases; Firms Improve Establishments. The story began:  That Oakland is rapidly developing as a manufacturing, commercial and residence center is readily seen by a glance at the many new factories, business places and residences that are being constructed.  Several large manufacturing firms, with distributing stations all over the country, are locating branches here, and new, modern business structures are being erected in the central section of Oakland. Near the end of the article the new businesses being established in Oakland were listed and included a note that H. Menge rented a storeroom at 431 San Pablo Avenue from A.A. Moore for $3000, so my great grandfather was part of the business boom happening in Oakland at that time.

During this same time period Henry also listed his business at various addresses in San Francisco. From 1901 – 1908 it was listed at 503, 321 and 329 Kearny and from 1924-1931 it was shown consistently at 445 Kearny. I found one ad that shows the business being at 636 Van Ness Avenue. 
Directory showing Henry Menge as President of Pacific
Truss Co. and Henry Jr. as VP & Treasurer. Addie & Fred
are also listed. 

Henry Jr. worked in the business his entire life and his son Lawrence also worked there. A 1903 directory listed Lawrence as a “foot specialist”. The 1910 census notes that Henry Jr.’s wife Maye was working for the company as well. Henry Sr’s other son Fred was also in the truss business. Fred is identified as President of the Pacific Truss Company in the 1921 Oakland directory. Five years later he is listed as manager at M&P Surgical Appliances – sounds like a competitor. Fred’s wife Beulah Trexler also worked in the business.  
Henry with 3 of his granddaughters Marion, Dorothy &
Margaret Menge. Taken at Lake Merritt in Oakland.

Henry’s third wife Teresa appeared with him on the 1930 census. I’ve found little about this woman. I know she was born in Maryland in the mid1860s and that her father was also from Maryland but her mother was from Germany. Teresa was 66 years old when she married Henry and he was 78 at the time. The 1940 census shows Henry living with “Patricia” but I suspect that Patricia is the full name and “Teresa” a nickname. Teresa is listed in the 1941 Oakland Directory as Henry’s widow and still living in the home they’d shared on 11th Avenue. Teresa died of pneumonia in 1946 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in East Oakland.

Henry died from a stroke on September 22, 1940 and is also buried at Evergreen Cemetery near an olive tree but there is no headstone marking his grave – possibly a commentary on how people thought of him. His granddaughter Lottie’s only recollection of Henry is that he rarely spoke English and sat in a chair in his kitchen on 11th Avenue where she and her mother Emma would go to visit with him. She also remembered that when he died his body was prepared and left in his home until the burial. There were lots of candles in the house and people came to visit to pay their respects. 
Henry's signature

Friday, August 9, 2013

Katharina Elizabeth Neumayer Vetter, (1857 – 1903), my Great-Grandmother on my Father’s side

Katharina Neumayer Vetter
I decided to write about Katherine Vetter now for two reasons.  First, so far I’ve written very little about any of my Vetter relatives, because I know so little about them.  Katherine and her husband George were born in Germany and did not immigrate to the United States until 1883.  Since I have yet to develop my research skills beyond the United States I do not have any documentation about their lives before they came to this country.  Katherine died at 46 so she only lived in the US for 20 years.  She appeared on the 1900 census living in Chicago but had died before the 1910 census.  The 1890 census was destroyed in a 1921 fire.  Census data provides valuable information for genealogists – not having these records means a dearth of information.

The second reason I’ve chosen to write about Katherine is that I recently “met” the great-granddaughter of one of Katherine’s daughters, Rosie Elizabeth Vetter – one of my grandmother’s four sisters.  The great granddaughter’s husband Chris contacted me after seeing an article and photo I submitted to the California Genealogy Society.  The photo depicts George Vetter in front of his liquor store in Chicago.  Chris had heard the story about George owning a liquor store and my photograph proved the story to be true.  Making connections with distant, unknown relatives is one of the great joys of doing family history research.
 
Katherine in hat & muffler
Chris provided a birth record showing Katherine was born on February 25, 1857 in Wattenheim, Frankenthal, Bayern, Germany. This location jibes with records from Gramma Pattillo. If you Google this place a link to the Family History Center in Utah comes up and this message: “This place has no commentary yet.”  So, I cannot tell you anything about where Katherine was born. According to the same document, her parents were Guilelmi Neumayer and Maria Anna Hofmann.  I know nothing more about her parents – will save that for a future post when I’ve completed more research.

The spelling of her maiden name is a real puzzle.  So far I have found 7 different spellings on various documents.  It is spelled:
Neimeyer on Emma's birth and death certificates.
Neumeier on Kate's birth record.
Neumeyer on Lizzie's death record.
Newmeyer on Kate's death certificate, Anna's birth, and in Anna's bible.
Newmayer on Anna's wedding record.
Newmeir on the Wallace Family Tree on Ancestry,
And Neumayer on Katharina's own birth certificate – so that is what I’ve chosen to use.

Katherine was born during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) and though she lived in Germany until she was 26 she would no doubt have been influenced by the Victorian era. According to Wikipedia "It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence for Britain."
Katherine with her hair up

When she was 14 years old in 1871, and still living in Germany, the city of Chicago was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire. The city burned for two days, destroyed 3.3 square miles, and killed hundreds of people. It was one of the largest disasters of the 19th century, but led to the rebuilding of the city into one of the great cities of the world. Twelve years after the fire, George and Katherine immigrated to Chicago, joining a large population of German immigrates who chose Chicago to start new lives.

Katherine and George Vetter were married in 1883. The source for this date is the 1900 census which included a column for “number of years married”. The amount and type of information gathered during each census varies and reflects the trends of the time.

Katherine and George immigrated to the United States on July 25, 1883 shortly after they married. They travelled by ship departing from London and arriving in New York. The name of the ship was “France” owned by the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique. The France was in service from 1896 – 1915 when it was sunk by a submarine.

 
New York passenger list for the "France" showing George Vetter, stonecutter and Catherine "wife" heading for Chicago
The 1900 census also included a column that recorded how many times a woman had given birth and how many of the children were living. This is how I learned that there was a sixth child born to Katherine and George – previously I’d only known of my grandmother Anna and her four sisters.

The sixth child was another daughter named Augusta Elizabeth Vetter. Augusta was born May 13, 1884 in Chicago and died October 16, 1884, so she only lived five months. At the time Augusta was born the family was living at 500 S. Halstead Street in Ward 7 of Chicago. The cause of death listed on the death record was noted as convulsions. Augusta was buried in St. Bonifacius Cemetery which was consecrated in 1863, and according to their website was the first German catholic cemetery. Buried there are the “builders of the German catholic community” in Chicago. Augusta is also the middle name of another Vetter daughter – Mary, born in 1888 has Augusta as her middle name. This seems significant and suggests that Augusta is a family name. Hopefully, sometime in the future I’ll figure out the source of this name.
George, Katherine and daughter Kate

In 1885 Katherine gave birth to her second daughter and named her after herself. Kathe or “Kate” Vetter was born July 16th. Followed by Mary Augusta born November 2, 1888, Rosie Elizabeth “Lizzie” born February 22, 1890, Emma born November 9, 1891, and finally my grandmother Anna on September 17, 1893. All were born in Chicago. They were still living on Halstead when Kate was born. Mary, Lizzie and Emma were all born while the family was living at 1328 W. 20th Street in Ward 10 of Chicago. I don’t have the exact address of where they were living when Anna was born. I have found one or more birth records for each of Anna’s sisters but none for Anna. I do know she was born in Ward 10. Chicago is divided into 50 wards each represented by an Alderman. Ward 10 is the largest ward and is located in the southeast corner of the city.

The 1900 Chicago census is a gold mine of information for our Vetter family. The data was collected on June 14, 1900 at which time they were living at 409 21st Street, Chicago in Cook County. Six family members are listed: George 42, Kate 43, Kate 15, Mary 12, Lizzie 10, Emma 9 and Anna 7. Off all the people listed on this census page, 37 showed both parents having been born in Germany, 9 showed both parents born in England, and only 6 parents from other places. Clear evidence that this was a German community.

Mary, Lizzie, Anna, Kate & Emma with their father George ca. 1903
I believe Katherina died in 1903 because Gramma told us that her mother died when she was ten years old, but I do not have a death certificate or other document to prove the death date. My notes also state that she died from asthma, but I don’t have a source for that fact either. It seems likely that George would have buried her with her first born in the Bonifacius cemetery – something to follow up on. I don’t recall Gramma having said much about her mother, probably because she was so young when her mother died, so I have no personal information about her – what kind of person she was. The few photographs I have depict her with her hair always up and wearing somewhat severe clothing – typical of the Victorian era.

During her prime – from age 27 to her death – Katherine witnessed an era of great transportation innovation. The first motorcycle, automobile and airplane were invented during this period. She also experienced three major information technology milestones – the first musical record, Tesla’s invention of the radio, and the first movie being made.

Sources: Birth and death records for Katharine's daughters, New York passenger list, Google, stories from Gramma Pattillo, and other family trees on Ancestry.com

Sunday, June 30, 2013

John R Thornally (1882 - 1955) - my Grandfather on my Mother's side

John Roger Thornally was the third son of William Gilliat and Mary Thornalley.  John also had a younger brother Samuel and two sisters, Charlotte and Rosemary.  His older brothers were Will and Harry.  John was born when Chester Arthur was President of the United States, on October 18, 1882 – the same year Franklin D. Roosevelt was born. John was born in Sacramento, California, which is curious.  His parents William and Mary emigrated from England to San Francisco in 1868.  They moved to Oakland in 1871 and remained in Oakland until their deaths.  Their first three children were born in San Francisco.  Sam and Rosemary, the two youngest were born in Oakland.  So why was John born in Sacramento? In all of my research there are no other references to an event occurring in Sacramento in the William and Mary Thornally family, so I may never find an answer.

The family settled in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland and John attended Fruitvale elementary school. Fruitvale had merged with Oakland in the 1870s.  John left school after completing the 7th grade. At this time his family lived on Bray Street (now 34th Avenue) between 14th Street and Old County Road (probably International Boulevard), near what is now the Fruitvale BART station. 
 
John with grandson Terry by the greenhouse and pond
in his Sybil Avenue backyard
On the 1900 Oakland census John, now 17 was working as a painter.  A 1901 Oakland Tribune  article reported that he was elected steward for the Fruitvale Fire Department, and at the same time his brother Will was elected as a trustee.  This does not mean they were firemen by trade – in those days men of various trades were expected to serve as volunteer firemen. 

When John was 20 he started working for Oakland Iron Works and he continued working there until 1938 when he was 56 years old.  The building that housed the business was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.  It is also a City of Oakland landmark.  The building was constructed in 1882 – the same year John was born.  The founder of the business, Ives Scoville patented the Climax Side Hill Plow in 1878.  The business manufactured all kinds of cast iron machinery and was considered a pioneering operation in the East Bay.  They built steam engines, hoisting gear, and machinery used in mining. An 1884 drawing of the building complex notes that they made marine engines and boilers, sheet and wrought iron products, shafting pulleys and hangers, brass and iron castings, and boiler, ice and refrigeration machinery for breweries, packing houses, cold storage, etc. In 1904 – shortly after John started working there – the name of the company was changed to the United Iron Works.  The business continued under that name until 1955, which interestingly coincides with the year that John died. 
United Iron Works Christmas 1938 - John 2nd row, right with hat and milk bottle

 
United Iron Works - John in middle of the shop sitting on equipment with a black hat
When John was 23 he married Emma Louise Menge on June 19, 1906 in San Rafael, California.  A few days later the Oakland Tribune ran an announcement of their wedding.  The announcement reads: 
Emma & John with granddaughter Chris

MARRIAGE OF POPULAR COUPLE

The marriage of John Thornalley and Miss Emma Menge, which took place June 19 at San Rafael, has just been announced, and comes as a great surprise to the friends of the popular couple. Mr. & Mrs. Thornalley have been residents of Fruitvale, but will in future occupy a pretty home on Bay Street, Alameda.   

Note the spelling of Thornalley in the newspaper article.  This is how John’s father and older brother spelled their last name.  John and his other brothers dropped the “e” but it still appears on some documents.  

By 1908 John and Emma had moved to 3517 Elm (now 17th Street) and in 1910 they were living at 1665 35th Avenue – about a block away. Both of these addresses were within the Thornalley Tract in Brooklyn Township, owned by his father. Brooklyn too had been a separate town but merged with Oakland in 1872. They remained on 35th Avenue until 1922 when they had their home built on Sybil Avenue in San Leandro.  Until 1927 that house was located at 604 Sybil Avenue, but in 1927 the city required them to move the house to 636 Sybil – to accommodate the widening of Bancroft Avenue. The city took the house and Grandpa had to buy it back.  He paid $1165 for the property and made a 10% down payment on June 6, 1927. On the 1930 census the home was valued at $4000. In 1940, the value was recorded as $2500. Today, according to Zillow.com it is worth $323,717.
 
Ed, John, Emma, Lottie & Kathy, Lewis Pattillo
In 1910, when John was 27 the The Oakland Tribune reported on an event that was organized to raise funds so that the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West (NSGW) of Alameda County could participate in the upcoming Admissions Day celebration in San Francisco.  The article described a theater party and vaudeville program, and it mentioned the Athens, Aloha and Fruitvale parlors, as all participating in planning the fund raising events.  A parlor is what they called a chapter of the organization. John and his brother Samuel were both involved – Sam was part of a group who made arrangements for the event and John was on the reception committee.  They were both members of the Fruitvale parlor No. 252 which had 84 members in 1910.  For the event they planned a grand ball which was to be held at the new Eagles Hall on 14th Street near Fruitvale Avenue. According to the article “The proceeds will be used to purchase a banner that will head the Fruitvale “delegation” during the big parade.”  The parade took place on September 8, 1910. 

Below is a photo of Grandpa riding on a horse-drawn wagon in a different parade.  In the photo there is a banner promoting the United Iron Works Local 284 at 2nd and Jefferson Streets, where he worked. It says “Hydraulic and Refrigerating Engineers”. I imagine the banner for the Fruitvale parlor of the Sons and Daughters of the Golden West was similar.
 
United Iron Works float in parade - John up front in the white hat
The Native Sons of the Golden West was founded July 11, 1875. Its purpose was to preserve pre-Gold Rush California history.  When the Gold Rush began in 1848 the state was overrun by a massive influx of gold seekers.  Native Californians recognized the need to preserve the history of the state.  Some of their first efforts were to raise money to preserve the California missions, Sutter’s Fort and the Customs House in Monterey.  They continue to exist today and continue to install monuments and historical plaques featuring California’s history.  From the beginning, the NSGW was a progressive organization accepting membership from a broad spectrum of California’s diverse population.  Earl Warren, California State Attorney and Governor was a member of the Fruitvale Chapter of the NSGW, and Joseph Knowland, Legislator, Congressman and publisher of the Oakland Tribune was a Grand President of the NSGW. 
John Thornally in Service for America during WWII

John’s mother Mary McGowan Thornally died in 1912 the same year that the Titanic sank, and his father died about year later.  That’s the year that his son John Earnest was born on June 22, 1913.  John Earnest was baptized on June 29th but sadly died July 12, 1913.  Unlike all the other Thornallys John Earnest is buried in Saint Mary’s cemetery adjacent to Mountain View Cemetery.  This is because Emma and her baby were catholic and she believed they had to be buried in a Catholic cemetery. It was another seven years before his daughter Lottie Gertrude was born on Christmas Day in 1919.
 
John with grandson Terry
While working at Union Iron Works, part of John’s job involved traveling to places where the machinery he built was to be installed.  My collection of family photos includes several pictures from these trips. Most have few or no labels to explain where he was or what kind of equipment he was installing, but I have two post cards he wrote to his shop mates on April 15, 1934 that provide information about his work.  His notes read: “Just a line to tell you that I’m OK and will be home soon, crossed this bridge today.  It’s the highest in the world.  The wind never stops blowing here.  Had 2 snow storms, but it is warm now.  Job is going fine. We had an earthquake yesterday.” And the second card says, “I had to send 2 cards so you could see all the bridge and the rest of Idaho.  Well, this is a great state.  We in California hardly know it. There is a little of everything here, even sage brush and sheep, but no Indians as you fellows told me.

The post cards depict the “Twin Falls-Jerome Bridge-Rim to Rim Snake River Gorge, Idaho. 476 feet – the highest bridge in the world, 1400 feet long.”  It was mailed from Declo, Idaho, and he signed it “Jack” – so at least at work he had a nickname.  Declo is in Cassia County on the southern boundary of Idaho.  In 1940 the population was 238 and in 2010 it had grown to a whopping 343 people.  Declo’s claim to fame is that it has the world’s largest potato processing company. It seems highly likely that Grandpa delivered some equipment needed at the processing plant. According to the 1940 census he was working 40 hours a week and earned $1440 a year.   
Post card written from Declo, Idaho to John's shop mates, April 16, 1934
Another aspect of John’s work that cannot be omitted is the time he spent out of work while on strike. His was an era when labor unions were forming and fighting for better wages and working conditions.  As a result John was often not earning a regular salary, which was a hardship for him and his family. 
 
John working on an unknown site
About this time is when he bought his cabin in Brookdale, near Santa Cruz, California. The Cabin was on Highway 9 across the street from Brookdale Lodge – so named because it had a stream or “brook” flowing through the restaurant.  He purchased the cabin in 1935 and tried to rent it out at a profit without much success. The family enjoyed several visits there before he sold it in 1946.  The cabin was demolished a few years later to expand Brookdale lodge.  His older brother Henry and his wife Blanch also owned property in the same area, and I suspect that may have influenced John to buy his cabin.

John lived to experience the births of three grandchildren.  After retiring he spent much of his time nurturing his orchids, which he grew in a small greenhouse in the backyard of his Sybil Avenue property.  He sold his orchids to a wholesaler for resale.  John was an amateur plantsman who also hybridized camellias.  

John with Terry as an infant
He died on January 26, 1955, two days after my fifth birthday, from a heart attack, and is buried with his wife in Mountain View Cemetery in plot No. 64.
Ed, Lottie & John

 










John's signature on his draft registration









Sources:
1900 to 1940 censuses, WWI and WWII draft registrations, death notice, Oakland Tribune newspaper articles, city directories, family stories and personal knowledge.