Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tragic Tuesday - Tragic or untimely deaths

We all have ancestors in our family trees that catch our eye for one reason or another. A family member with the same name as you, someone who has your same birth date, and those who passed away before their time.

I decided to write a little about five of my ancestors and how they died.

First is the youngest. William Vincent Elwell III. He was my grandmother's twin brother. They were born in Cleveland, January 15, 1916. William lived 7 months and 18 days and died on September 2, 1916. He and his sister, my grandmother, both contracted cholera infantum. My grandmother survived, William didn't. Since William didn't live very long, I don't have much information on him. I should be able to get his birth and death certificates from Cuyahoga County. I only wish they would let me get non-certified copies.

My great aunt Kathleen "Kay" Layman Whiteman Welch is next in untimely deaths in my family. She was born June 3, 1925, the oldest of three girls. In her youth, somewhere around 1930, my aunt Kay contracted rheumatic fever. 
Kathleen Layman
She survived, but she ended up having heart complications. Aunt Kay ended up missing a lot of school and graduated with my grandmother, who was a year younger. My grandmother told me that Aunt Kay was always tired and couldn't have children. There may have been other side effects of the rheumatic fever, but I wasn't told of any others. Aunt Kay died May 7, 1964; not old, but not a full life either. She was 38 years old and left her second husband, two sisters, her parents, and some nieces. 

Next in the "tragic death" category is pretty horrific. James Monroe Van Gilder was born January 4, 1858. As far as I can tell, he lived a average life. He was married at age 20, had 9 children (8 survived), and at least later in life, he owned his own farm. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but on December 26, 1926 James somehow had a wagon run over his body. I would have to guess that the wagon went over his mid section because his death certificate states that his liver was damaged. James also survived a surgery of some kind two days after the accident. James lived for one month and 16 days after the accident. The primary cause of his death was the accident, the secondary is listed, but I can't make it out. If you can, comment below.


James Van Gilder's Death Certificate - Reason for death.
Almost every family has a Civil War tragedy. Though, John J. Layman's death isn't as horrible as most soldiers' deaths. John was born in 1846 in Virginia. He enlisted on the Union side and was a private in the West Virginia 12th Infantry, Company F. Less than a year after he enlisted, John died of typhoid fever. While he didn't get shot or have a leg blown off during a battle, if you look up some signs and symptoms of typhoid fever, he more than likely didn't live in the best conditions and died uncomfortably. John J. Layman died September 15, 1864 at the age of 18.
John J. Layman Headstone at Antietam National Cemetery. He was first buried in the Sandy Hook, MD area and then moved.
Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi: accessed 18 Jun 2013.

Finally I have the mysterious and tragic death of James Van Gilder. No, I didn't type that wrong. This is James Van Gilder born about 1803 and died about 1843. He would be the previous James' grandfather. This James had family that moved out "West" in the Mississippi River area (possibly Missouri). Somewhere crossing the Mississippi River, James drowned. He left behind his wife and five children. I have yet to find a death place, burial place, or his actual death date. For all we know he was done being a husband and father and started his life over.

For any of you researching any of the above people, I hope I gave you some information that you didn't have before. If not, I didn't write all that I knew of these five people. If you would like to know more go ahead and comment.


William Source Info -
Ancestry.com. Ohio, Birth Index, 1908-1964 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
         Original data: Ohio Birth Records. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Vital Records Office.

Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.
         Original data: Ohio. Division of Vital Statistics. Death Certificates and Index, December 20, 1908-December 31, 1953. State Archives Series 3094. Ohio Historical Society, Ohio.
          Ohio Department of Health. Index to Annual Deaths, 1958-2002. Ohio Department of Health, State Vital Statistics Unit, Columbus, OH, USA.

Kathleen Source Info -
Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.
      Original data: Ohio. Division of Vital Statistics. Death Certificates and Index, December 20, 1908-December 31, 1953. State Archives Series 3094. Ohio Historical Society, Ohio.
        Ohio Department of Health. Index to Annual Deaths, 1958-2002. Ohio Department of Health, State Vital Statistics Unit, Columbus, OH, USA.

James Source Info - 
West Virginia Division of Culture and History. "West Virginia Vital Research Records - Record Image". James M. Van Gilder Death Certificatehttp://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=1253122&Type=Death . (18 Jun 2013).
John Source Info -
 National Archives and Records Administration; Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the American Civil War, compiled 1890 - 1912, documenting the period 1861 - 1866; Catalog ID: 300398; Record Group #: 94; Roll #: 201.
James #2 Source Info -
Word of mouth/family lore.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Amanuensis Monday

Before I get started writing his blog, I would like to share that I learned a new word today, amanuensis. For those of you who are in the dark like I was geneabloggers.com defines an amanuensis as "a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another." I'd like to transcribe something my aunt had in her genealogy records. It is a letter written by John Rae Tough and Mary Sinclair Tough, parents of Harold Winston Todd (Tough).

State of Ohio
Cuyahoga County,
State of Ohio

   John Rae Tough and Mary Sinclair Tough, being duly sworn depose and say:
   That they are the parents of Harold Winston Todd, formerly Harold Winston Tough, said name being used by their son because he did not like the name Tough on account of his being embarassed by his friends and acquaintances by calling him "Tough" and their son had intended to take court action to make the name "Todd" legal.
   Deponents state that they live at 1273 West 117th. St., Cleveland, Ohio, and Mrs. Mary Sinclair Tough's name was Mary Ingram Sinclair,
   Subscribed and sworn to before
   me this 22nd day of August 1942. Mary Sinclair Tough
                                                       John Rae Tough
George J.W. Mathews
George J.W. Mathews
Notary Public, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
5703 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio
My commission expires April 19, 1944

The story behind this is that most of the children of John and Mary Tough didn't like the way their last name sounded in the United States. In Scotland, where they originated, Tough was pronounced differently than the word tough (strong or firm in texture but flexible and not brittle - via: www.merriam-webster.com). From what I can gather, Tough would be pronounced a little like the Loch in Loch Ness. More or less tock.

As Harold and his siblings were the first generation of Toughs to be born and to grow up in the United States, they had to deal with the teasing of their peers throughout their youth. Strangely this letter was written when Harold was 27 years old. He also had already been in the US Army for a year and five months.

I believe all of the other siblings changed their surname to Todd and eventually so did John and Mary. Although I don't have any evidence of this except all of the males in the family (and Mary) have Todd for their surnames on their gravestones.

I think a call to the Cuyahoga County Courts will be in order this summer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Update and review

I've previously written about how hard it is to find time to do research and take care of a family. Well obviously it's been awhile since I last posted anything. That's because I've been busy being pregnant with twins. Now at 6 months along, things have gotten harder to do including finding time for myself (not going to get easier I'm sure). Well since I have time, I've decided to write a review on the Ancestry.com iPad app. Overall I do like it, but there are a few problems. I've found that the app doesn't show all of the information stored on Ancestry.com. Not all of the people stored on the main site are on the app. I've updated the app and they still don't show up. Not a huge deal, but annoying none the less. Another issue that I have with the app is that when you are looking at the evidence or accepted hints of one person, you cannot use the same tools that you can on the main site. One of the things that I like about the app is that for some reason, I've been able to accept hints that are from a foreign country (ie. England, Scotland) even though I don't have world membership. This is one thing that I won't be complaining about any time soon. The main reason I like this app is the fact that I can access my family tree without being online or carrying around a huge notebook with papers falling out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Layman Family

In the first photograph, is my great grandfather, great grandmother, and my great grandfather's second wife.

My great grandfather was Charles Wesley Layman. He was born August 15, 1898 in Fairmont, West Virginia. His parents were John Jay Layman and Nancy Jane Burns. He had only one sibling, an older sister, Bessie May. He died April 9, 1979 in Newton Falls, Ohio and was buried in Vienna, Ohio at Crown Hill Burial Park.

My great grandmother was Alberta Agusta VanGilder Layman. She was born September 3, 1888 in Buckhannon, West Virginia. Her parents were James Monroe VanGilder and Miriam G Brane/Brain. Alberta had eight siblings; Roanna Virginia (F), Jessie (M), Harriet Olive (F), Elijah Otho (M), Fredrick Coleman (M), James Blaine (M), Rose Alice (F), and Luther Paul (M). Alberta was in between Fredrick and James. She died February 15, 1967 in Newton Falls, Ohio and was buried with her husband.


Charles and Alberta ended up connecting the VanGilder line back together. Jacob VanGilder had Fredrick and James. Alberta coming from the James side and Charles coming from the Fredrick side. Charles and Alberta had three daughters Kathleen, Miriam, and Mary.

My great grandfather's second wife was Minnie Rebecca Setzer. She was born November 18, 1909 in North Carolina. She died October 21, 1992 in Newton Falls, Ohio and was buried with her husband and his first wife. I don't know much about her except her mother's maiden name was Gibson. Despite her being alive after I was born, I never did meet her.

On the back of my great grandparents headstone is one of their daughters Kathleen Alberta Layman Whiteman Welch. She was born June 3, 1925 in Salisbury, Pennsylvania. Kay contracted Rheumatic fever sometime in her youth and was never well after. She married Presley Whiteman who died in 1954 then she married Jack Welch. She died May 7, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio at Cleveland Clinic at the age of 38. Kay never had any children, perhaps she couldn't because of her illness. She was buried with her father and mother.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Harold and Jeanette


My aunt on my dad's side is also interested in family history. So this story comes from her interviewing my grandmother, her mother.

During the last week of February in 1943, while home on furlough, Harold Winston Todd met Jeanette Mary Elwell (age 27) at the Tick Tock Tavern (owned by her father William Vincent Elwell Jr.) After a whirlwind week, Jeanette traveled with Harold to Crewe, Virginia where he was stationed. They arrived on Friday and spoke to the priest about getting married. On Monday, March 1st, paperwork was completed and they were married in the priest's house. While in Crewe, they rented a room from a family. 

Harold

Jeanette



















Jeanette & Harold Todd

Oh, by the way, the Tick Tock Tavern is in Cleveland, Ohio and is still in operation.
TICK TOCK

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday's Child - Niles City (Union) Cemetery

This past Memorial Day weekend, I wandered around the Niles City Cemetery (or the Union Cemetery) while my mother and grandmother planted flowers at family grave sites. I was mostly looking for family members, but I took some pictures of other headstones that interested me.

The first child is my Great Grandfather's, Harrison Davies, brother. Howard and Harrison had a sister named Harriette and their parents were Gwylim (William) and Sarah Davies. No one knows anything about him except what is on his headstone. I'm hoping that I can at least get his birth and death records.

Howard Davies 1887-1887
Margaret Lou Randall is the daughter of a great great aunt, I believe.

Margaret Lou Randall
1944
I believe that Jonathan Woodford is another distant cousin on my maternal side.

Jonathan Woodford
1870-1872
 Another child is the sister of the 25th President of the US, William McKinley, Jr.

Abagail C.
Daughter of
William & Nancy McKinley
Died Jan. 26 1846
Aged 7 mo. & 26 Dy's

This child is a mystery child. Beyond taking a rubbing (which I had no tools for) all that I could decipher is "Little Willy." As the picture below shows, his headstone is behind Abagail McKinley and her maternal grandmother, Anne Allison. I can only guess that Little Willy is a member of the McKinley family somehow.
Little Willy

Abagail McKinley, Anne Allison, & Little Willy

These next group of head stones are in the old part of the cemetery, or what's left of it. On May 31, 1985, Niles, Ohio and surrounding areas had a F5 tornado go through the city and also the cemetery. All of the large trees were destroyed or damaged severely and most of the oldest part of the cemetery was wiped out completely. As you can see in the picture above, there is an open grassy area behind the headstones. There used to be many headstones in that area. If the tornado didn't go through the cemetery, more than 9 lives would have been lost in Niles that day; possibly my grandparents who live a few blocks SE of the cemetery.

Anyways these headstones were not only visually interesting, but genetically interesting too. There are Heatons in my family tree (although I'm pretty certain I'm not related to this family). These Heatons, particularly James Heaton (the father), are the founders of Niles, Ohio. To lose 5 children in 10 years must have been devastating.

John Heaton son of James & Margaret Heaton died Apr,l 10th, 1813 in the 9th year of his age. Also James son of James & Margaret Heaton died Sep,t 12th, 1816: aged 4 hours. And Owens Heaton son of James & Margaret Heaton died Au,g 11th, 1819: in the 12th year of his age.

Hannah Heaton daughter of James & Margaret Heaton died Fe,b 2nd 1806: in the 6th year of her age. And Shelby Heaton son of James & Margaret Heaton died June 8th 1812: in the 2nd year of his age.



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Talented Tuesday - Uncle Lute (Yes I know it's not technically Tuesday)

Luther Paul VanGilder (1896-1986)
I decided to use GeneaBloggers.com's blogging prompts for a post.


Out of my relatives, my Great Great Uncle Lute ( or plain Uncle Lute as I've always called him) is one of the ones I know the most about, but also is one of the most mysterious. 


Uncle Lute was born Luther Paul VanGilder in 1896, in West Virginia, the youngest of nine children. His parents James VanGilder and Miriam (Molly) Brane VanGilder were both born in Virginia (now West Virginia) a few years before the American Civil War started. From birth to age 14 there is not much documentation other than the US censuses.

Uncle Lute has a draft registration card on file, other than what is listed on the card I don't know much about his military history. (One thing that I would like to do is to get my rear in gear and request his records.) Another interesting item listed is is occupation. He says he is employed with the moving picture show with C.L. Gillis in Clarksburg, WV.
Luther Paul VanGilder possibly Luigi Paule Sabatino at this time - Head shot Dec. 1937

From what my maternal grandmother (Lute's niece) says, he helped with the construction of the Pentagon. There are no records (as of yet) that prove this, but I believe it to be true. Also family lure says that Uncle Lute may have been in the CIA. This is not hard to believe when you look at the big picture.

The 1930 US Census is a strange one when it comes to Uncle Lute. His mother (or I'm pretty sure it's her) is found in Dallas, TX three years after her husband died after being run over by a wagon. Ancestry.com mistakenly has her with another household, but when you look at the digital copy, it is clear that she is the head of a separate household. Within her home are two men; one named Lewis P. VanGilder and the other Andra A. Carter. Both are 31 years old and both are listed as artists being employed by the "general public". From what I can surmise, Lewis is Uncle Lute.


A small painting by Uncle Lute. The family has more of his paintings. If I can get pictures I'll put more up.

Somewhere between 1930 and 1942 Uncle Lute legally changed his name to Luigi Paule Sabatino. Again my grandmother says that he changed it because he fell in love with an Italian woman and her parents wouldn't let her marry a non-Italian man. To be honest, I never asked if it worked or if they got married. All I know is he didn't change his name back and he never had children. He was also buried as Luigi Paule Sabatino and registered for the WWII draft under the same name.

So for Talented Tuesday, I have an uncle who was an artist, acted, and helped construct a US icon.

When the 1940 US Census comes out I hope to find some more information. I also haven't been able to find him in the 1920 US Census.

If anyone has information about Luther Paul VanGilder or Luigi Paule Sabatino, C.L. Gillis in Clarksburg, WV, how to find if someone worked on the Pentagon, or how to find out if someone worked for the CIA please comment.


1. United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

2. United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

3. Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration