It's my genealogy blog, version 2.0, where I tell stories about our famous (and infamous) ancestors- our unsung heroes, our common man, our ordinary people who did extraordinary things- for our children. "[H]istorians talk about events of the past…[r]arely do we talk about the common man, the unsung hero. These people, many times, are unknown to us. All those people’s story mattered just as much as the stories of the great leaders. It’s easy to lose track of all those individuals but they’re there and they deserve to be remembered. One of the great lessons of history, all history, is that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. [T]hey are doing something not just for themselves, but for posterity. For their children." (Author unknown to me) Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (The Holy Bible)
I realized this morning that I missed the week 4 post. The theme was “favorite photo”. For the week 4 theme I’m going to re-run a post that I occasionally revisit. I thought I’d found the clue to solve this mystery a week or two ago but so far that lead hasn’t panned out. So today I’m revisiting Emily Hennig and hoping someone out there will have the key to solving who this is and how she fits into my family.
Mam (my paternal grandmother, Audrey) gave me a copy of this photo a couple of years before she passed away. The inscription on the back said “Emily Hennig” and was written in cursive and in pencil. It is HENNIG and not Henning. We had a discussion about that name.
Mam said she thought Emily was a grandmother somewhere back down the line but she couldn’t place the woman in our family history and that’s all Mam knew about her. More than a decade later I still have not been able to identify or place (or exclude) this woman in our family history (although I do have theories about who she is and where she goes on the family tree). If you have the answer, please speak up. I’d love to know about her.
I hope your weekend was everything you needed it to be. Enjoy your week!
A few days ago I wrote a post about my 4th great grandparents, Jesse and Mary (BEAR) BAKER. In the post I discussed where all the children went after they were orphaned. I’ve continued researching since I wrote that post and have discovered more information about that. I’ve discovered that the oldest sister Nancy (BEAR) LITTRELL, who was married when her mom (her last living parent, Margaret Jane) passed away, took in her youngest sister Ellen Adaline BEAR. Siblings Sarah and Hugh moved in with the James and Isabel FRAYSER/FRAZIER family. Sarah was listed as their “hired hand” on the 1860 census. It turns out Isabel FRAYSER was Margaret Jane McCUISTION’s sister- Sarah and Hugh’s maternal aunt. I still haven’t found Hill or Thomas yet. You’ll recall that Eliza Jane was a live-in domestic servant for the Isaac and Jane (HINDS) ANDERSON family. I have not yet found any connection between the HINDS-ANDERSON family and the BEAR family other than location so perhaps they were trusted family friends or neighbors. However, I also don’t know the majority of their father Hugh F. BEAR’s family.
Now that I’ve updated a little bit, I also chose this family to write about for this week’s 52 Ancestors theme: Namesake. This family has been difficult to research in part because they had a tradition of re-using family names. Generations of the family will have many with the same names. Let me give you a couple of examples. I used Eliza Jane BEAR SCHELL as my “homebase” person since I’m most familiar with her family and I know for sure that we connect with her. Jane is a common BEAR family name. Eliza went by Jane and so did her mother even though Jane was a middle name for both of them. Eliza also had an aunt (her mom’s sister) who was named Jane M. In addition to Eliza, her mother and her aunt, Eliza Jane had a niece named Rebecca Jane, two first cousins named Margaret Jane (Eliza’s mother’s exact name!), three first cousins named Mary Jane, and first cousins named Elizabeth Jane, Darlutha Jane, and Patsy Jane. Eliza Jane also had a first cousin name…Eliza Jane Isabel! Thankfully some of the ‘Margaret Jane’, ‘Mary Jane’ and ‘Eliza Jane’ women had different last names. In addition to all of this, some BEAR family researchers believe Eliza Jane’s sister Sarah also had the middle name Jane! The earliest Jane I can find in the family at the moment (keeping in mind I have no information about Eliza Jane’s paternal family) is Eliza Jane’s maternal great grandmother Catherine Jane TENNANT (for whom several females in the family are named) so it’s likely this is where the ‘Jane’ name originated.
This naming tradition holds true for the men in the family as well. Eliza Jane’s maternal great grandfather was James McCUISTION. He was married to Catherine Jane TENNANT. Like Catherine, he had quite a few namesakes in the family. Eliza Jane had a nephew named James T., a nephew named James Hill (Hill was a name repeated frequently in this family), a nephew named James Isaac who went by Ike, uncles named James Conway (Conway being another frequently repeated name in the family) and Thomas James P. (Thomas is another repeated name in the family), and first cousins named James Holland, James O., James Marion, James Rankin (Rankin being a family surname and also often repeated among both the males and females of the family), James L., James Stanley, James Lafayette, James J. who went by Jethro or Jim, and James Berry. It seems like every child and grandchild he had must have named at least one son James!
I have so many more examples of namesakes in this family but names without stories is no fun. So I’m going to leave you with this small update and just an inkling of how complicated it can be to research this family because of the namesake situation. I’m continuing to do in-depth research on the family trying to find our BEAR/BARE connection. The phrase “so close, yet so far” certainly sums up the research situation.
The last year or two I’ve tried to move forward in my genealogy by using my family history research combined with my DNA results. This week I’ve been working on my BEAR-BAKER line. My 4th great-grandparents are Jesse and Mary (BEAR) BAKER. Their son and my 3rd great grandfather, Jehue BAKER, is the last in the line of whom I’m certain. I know for sure he belongs to me. I start getting shaky at Jesse and Mary and can’t get beyond those two at all. After connecting my DNA with my family history research, I believe I can attach us to the right BEAR family. It’s a bit more difficult to find the exact ancestor that belongs to us.
The first genetic connection I found to the BEAR family was a woman named Joyce. Excluding my family-of-origin connections. Joyce was one of my top 10 matches and estimated to be my 2nd-4th cousin. Unfortunately she had no family tree posted on the DNA site. I went to Ancestry.com and tried finding her there as a member. I did find her but her tree was nearly non-existent. There was one couple listed on the tree- Hill SCHELL and Inez Marie HOOD SCHELL. Fortunately, Hill was from McDonald County, Missouri and Inez was from Jasper County, Missouri, so I knew I was at least in the right location and that Hill SCHELL probably connected to my family somehow- Inez was less of a possibility for that time period. I had never heard or come across the SCHELL name so I was a little stumped. I began a new tree with Hill as the beginning member so I could work back from there. Then I got on the DNA site and looked up my matches that were researching that particular surname. I also sent an email to Joyce. Within a couple of weeks Joyce’s husband replied to my email that his wife had passed away recently. She was adopted and knew nothing of her birth family. She had done her DNA in the hopes of finding her birth family but wasn’t successful. He also didn’t know anything about her biological family and there were no other living relatives to whom he could refer me. Eventually, I did discover that Hill connected to the BEAR family but I was unable to make any connections beyond that. I am, however, certain that Hill is our cousin.
The BEAR/BARE Family
As of this date, I still haven’t found out the exact connection. I know it’s the right family in general though. (There may even be a connection to our LITTRELL family here!) Hill SCHELL was the grandson of Philip and Eliza Jane (BEAR) SCHELL. Hill is a family name passed down through the generations of BEAR men. Hill died in Springdale, Washington County, Arkansas in 1992. I was living so close to him! If only I’d known he was there. His paternal grandmother, Eliza Jane BEAR SCHELL, went by Jane.
She was born 10 May 1846/1847 in War Eagle Township, Madison County, Arkansas. Her parents were Hugh and Margaret Jane (McCUISTION/McCHRISTIAN) BARE/BEAR. Eliza (who went by Jane) married Philip SCHELL in 1867 in McDonald County, Missouri. She passed away 4 July 1912 in Mountain Township, McDonald County, Missouri. She passed away from LaGrippe. LaGrippe caused a horrific and hours-long death process by which the sufferer slowly suffocated to death- excruciating for both the sufferer and the family members unable to help their loved one. Philip and Eliza Jane had 11 known children. Eliza’s sister, Nancy, married James LITTRELL. I have not determined yet if he belongs to our LITTRELL family.
Our Hugh F. BARE/BEAR was born about 1817 in Ohio. There are two men named Hugh BARE/BEAR who lived at the same time. They also married about the same time and their children share some of the same names. Their Ancestry trees have been so jumbled together it’s hard to figure out what the truth is about the family. Our Hugh BARE/BEAR was born in Ohio. Our Hugh’s middle name was likely Franklin but there are no records that say what it really was. The guess of ‘Franklin’ was based on the fact he had a grandson named Hugh Franklin.
Family legend says that the BARE/BEAR family was Cherokee. There are no records that exist for Hugh prior to 1839. This fact actually supports that the family could have been Cherokee. As I was told by a Cherokee researcher once, the Cherokee didn’t keep written records until they were forced to by the federal government. The fact that the children were orphaned before most of them were of age means that the children were split up and sent to various family members and/or neighbors to be raised. Despite being separated, many lines of the family have the same family legend- that the family is Cherokee.
Hugh married Margaret Jane McCUISTION/McCHRISTIAN about 1838. She went by “Jane”. Hugh passed away about 1854 in Madison County, Arkansas. Jane passed away a few years later in 1859 also in Madison County, Arkansas. Their oldest child (Nancy) was born in 1839. Nancy married the year after her father died so she was already out of the home when her mother died. Daughter Sarah was born in 1840. In the 1860 census (the year after she was orphaned), Sarah and her little brother Hugh (b. 1849) were living with the James FRAZIER/FRAYSER family at Shells Mills, McDonald County, Missouri and Sarah was listed as their “hired hand”. I’m not sure where Hill (b. 1843) was in 1860 but by 1862 he was enlisting with the Confederacy in Carroll County, Arkansas. I also don’t know where Thomas (b. 1844) went. Researchers of Eliza Jane (b. 1846/1847) believe she stayed in Madison County, Arkansas and was a live-in domestic servant to the Isaac Anderson family. I have also been unable to locate Ellen (b. 1851) in the 1860 census.
Genetically, I’ve been able to connect my DNA to descendants of Philip and Eliza Jane (BEAR) SCHELL, descendants of James and Nancy A. (BEAR) LITTRELL, and descendants of James and Sarah (BEAR) CLANTON. My DNA connects to many SCOTT and BEAR/BARE/BAIR families but I haven’t been able to prove any solid connection to Ellen (BEAR) SCOTT or the BEAR/BARE brothers. The problem is, our Mary (BEAR) BAKER would have been a contemporary of Hugh F. BARE/BEAR- the father of all these people. She would likely have been Hugh’s sister or cousin. To date, no researcher has been able to prove who Hugh’s parents or other family members were. At this point, I’ve gathered a good number of the descendants and I’ll begin sorting them into family groups and seeing which line we are most closely connected to by DNA. Until then, I’ll be happy that we made some progress on the line.
One more quick story that I thought was fun. As I was researching the descendants of one of my BEAR family DNA matches, discovered that one of his descendants – a distant cousin of ours – lived in EXACTLY the same house that Bart and I lived in in Springdale, Arkansas when we first got married!
It sure is a small world! Maybe one day I’ll figure out how we fit into this family.
This week’s post discusses a family legend about my 2nd great grandfather, Nicholas Wilhelm REITER.
If you’d like to read previous stories about him, you can go to my home page, scroll down and find the search box, type in his name and hit [enter]. That will bring up a list of posts that include information about him. The story my granny (my maternal grandmother and the granddaughter of Nicholas) always told about him is that he immigrated here by stowing away on a ship. I’m not sure how true the story is especially since he would have only been about 5 years old in 1830 when he was said to have immigrated here.
The International Maritime Organization defines a stowaway as,
a person who is secreted on a ship, or in cargo which is subsequently loaded on the ship, without the consent of the shipowner or the Master or any other responsible person and who is detected on board the ship after it has departed from a port or in the cargo while unloading it in the port of arrival, and is reported as a stowaway by the Master to the appropriate authorities.”
According to an article in The New Yorker, there was no word in the English language for ‘stowaway’ until 1848. Etymonline confirms this information. In 1850, the U.S. created the legal concept of a stowaway. By 1891 there were legal ramifications for shipmasters who were found to have a stowaway. The shipmasters had to pay for the stowaways’ return travel to their country of origin- even if the stowaway was admitted into the U.S. and stayed! Notable people who have made their way to America by stowing away on a ship include silent film actor Henry Armetta, Lindbergh kidnapper Richard Hauptmann, painter Willem de Kooning, writer Jan Valtin, and yachtsman Florentino Das. (Wikipedia)
Immigration in the early 1800’s from Europe to America was difficult. There wasn’t enough of it to justify dedicating resources to it, so immigrants often got rides on merchant vessels- if they were able to pay the fare. Merchant ships weren’t outfitted for passenger transport. To begin their journey, those wanting to immigrate to America had to find a port of departure and in doing so had to consider their route to get to the port, decide which port was closest to their home, but also consider how likely they were to find a ship there that was going to America. As immigration increased, the number of ports of departure available for that purpose began to concentrate in certain areas. Around the time of Nicholas’ departure from Germany, the port of Le Havre, France had become the main point of departure for Europeans.
To see additional pictures and information about the port of Le Havre, France, go to genhist.org.
South Germans arrived in Le Havre either overland or by sailing from Cologne, Germany.
North Germans also sailed to Le Havre Port. However, the ports of Bremen, Germany and Hamburg, Germany were rising in popularity. In 1832, the heavy immigration from Germany to America began. At this point, passenger transportation became important enough to dedicate resources to building ships designed to carry passengers rather than merchandise. It was around 1816 or so that New York City, New York became the principal arrival point in the U.S. rather than Philadelphia, Pennyslvania. From 1830 on, New York was “the gateway of the nation”. (https://www.gjenvick.com)
Depending on the time of year and the weather, the voyage from Europe could take from 1 to 2 months. Beginning about 1830, passengers were required to provide food for themselves for 6 weeks. In the summer of 1835, a transport via ship to America was at least $16 U.S. dollars. Ship conditions for people were “a serious menace to life”. (https://www.gjenvick.com) Conditions on ships were so bad and immigrants arrived so ill that by the 1840’s laws were being made to improve conditions. Upon arrival, immigrants were forced to navigate a sea of swindlers and grifters as soon as they stepped onto land. South Germans were among the most swindled of all immigrants because they most often came as individuals or in single families. It reminds me of the phrase “strength in numbers”. North Germans were more likely to come as very large village-groups and were more able to protect themselves and each other. It was so bad that the Germans formed an aid society to help and protect newly arriving German immigrants. John Jacob ASTOR was a primary funder for the German Society of the City of New York. Some states eventually began enacting laws to protect and help new immigrants. Sadly, the swindling worsened exponentially and eventually the Irish immigrants received the worst of it until states stepped up and assisted them. You can read more about what the immigrants endured to get to America by going to https://www.gjenvick.com.
Given Nicholas’ date of immigration, his most likely route to America was from his home in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany to the port at Le Havre, France and from there via ship to New York, New York.
At some point he ended up in Perry, Pike County, Illinois and from there to Oklahoma Territory (most likely arriving shortly after the 1890 land run). It was hard to read what new immigrants went through when I thought of it in terms of my 2nd great grandfather. I sometimes wonder if I would have had the same level of desire to be here- or the same level of courage it took to get here and make a life for myself and my family. Sometimes, people are heroes and we don’t even know it.
Be courageous. Be bold. Live your dreams. They’re worth it.
For readers who are not my grandsons: the ‘Stories for the Boys’ series is a series of stories specifically written for my grandsons so they have a little of mine and their papa’s personal history along with all the ancestral history. These stories will always be marked ‘Stories for the Boys’. I don’t care who reads them, it’s just easier if you understand why and to whom they’re written.
If you’re familiar with the lyrics in the title of this blog post (and you boys probably aren’t), you’re probably humming the song right now. It’s one of my favorites- Closing Time by Semisonic. If you aren’t familiar with it, here it is but don’t blame me if you’re humming it for the next week:
The theme this week per Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is ‘beginnings’. (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/52-ancestors-in-52-weeks-themes-for-2021/) Just like we began 2020 with hope, now our 2020 “beginning” comes to an end and we welcome the new beginning of 2021. I had hoped it would be a peaceful and good year but with all the election uproar it doesn’t appear that we’ll find much peace this year. Despite that, there are positive points to this first week of 2021. Do you remember the friend I spoke about in my ‘Madeline’ posts several years ago? My best friend from my childhood? If not you can see the 2 short posts here and here. Well, she moved back to the area and we’ve had such fun getting together and getting to know each other again as adults. Ashton and Theodore- you probably won’t remember it but you met her today at my house. Ashton even took a picture of us but I won’t post that here today. Maybe at some point in the future I’ll return to this post and put the picture up. Instead, I’ll post another one Ashton took from today.
Boys, I hope when you’re older you have some good friends. Ashton, keep your friend Hayden. Be a good friend to him. August, don’t forget your friend Mason. Always be a good friend to him. Theodore, keep your new friends from your new school but don’t forget Marley from your old school. Foster, always remember your friend Wingrum and enjoy playing with him. Be a good friend to him. I hope you all treasure your friendships. I hope all of you boys’ friends are good friends to you also. Those friendships are very important. Be sure you keep up your friendships as you grow up. Resolve the arguments and misunderstandings with your friends. They are worth it and their friendship is worth it. When you’re old like me, you’ll be glad you did.
So today on our 2021 new beginning, I wish you boys many very good friends whom you can trust and depend on – forever friends that you can still call and visit when you’re old like me. I love you boys so much and I hope you have a wonderful year of new discoveries, good friends, and good memories. Papa and I love you forever.
I typically do a “report card” post at the end of each year to see if I met any of my goals or not and to set new goals for the new year. It looks like in 2019 my last post was about Y2K. Hindsight says it was an appropriate post heading into the disaster that was 2020. Hopefully 2021 will improve.
So, let’s roll on back to the 2018 report card and see what happened there. Life is considerably different now. My daughter found her own place and moved out quite some time ago- maybe the summer after the 2018 post was written. By mid-2019 when she moved out, things were still busy and then Covid hit in early 2020. Rather than writing during Covid, I did more research and learning and less writing. Overall numbers- in 2018 I wrote 53 blog posts (phenomenal!). In 2019, I wrote 15 posts but also got all my old blog posts moved over to WordPress- a definite win. In 2020 I wrote 9 posts, 2 of which were for other people outside of my family and 1 of which is not public for reasons I won’t go into here. I’ll take those 9 posts as a win given all we’ve been through during 2020, not to mention the fact that the first 6 months of the year I spent a lot of time learning how to interpret my DNA results which helped a lot through the rest of 2020 and will continue to help into the future. In addition to the blog, I’ve begun offering my services to write stories for other people’s families as a small side business. I’ve done two stories for others so far and have another in the works right now. I’m pretty pleased with how that venture is going.
It looks like I had someone lined up to possibly write a guest post in 2018. I have no idea who that was and the person never wrote the post or I would have certainly passed it along to you. That’s unfortunate. I always enjoy it when others write stories for the blog. I can see in the 2018 post that I planned on using 2019 to unpack and organize records. I did do fairly well with that although there is much left to do in that regard. I’d say I did enough to make it a win in 2019. As far as 2020 goes, I feel like any progress was a win for the disastrous 2020 year. The 9 posts and extensive research I did count as a win in my book.
Looking forward to 2021, I’ll set my goals as follows:
Continue unpacking and organizing: I’ll continue doing what I started in 2018 and just try to get everything unpacked and sorted out. Pictures and documents also need to be preserved.
Commit to writing at least 12 blog posts. I’ll be utilizing Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks most likely but will also utilize Genealogy Photo A Day on Instagram for additional inspiration when needed. Sometimes I find plenty of inspiration in what I’m currently researching so I’ll let that guide me as well.
Ancestral focus: Nicholas REITER (again- yes. His line is the shortest because I can’t seem to get anywhere with it.)
I’m keeping 2021 simple and uncrowded. I think for this year that will work best. We’re heading into uncertain times with the presidential election uproar. I prefer to meet the goals I set so I’m keeping it simple. Also, my childhood best friend just moved back to the area this week and I’m looking forward to having future adventures with her.
I wish you love, success, and happiness in 2021. Happy New Year!
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog
Header image is courtesy of Jude Beck and can be found at Unsplash.