Member Spotlight

Get to Know Our Members – Flo Paulin

Name/Location and any other credentials/background that you would like to provide:

My name is Flo (Brown) Paulin and I live in the village of Cedar Grove, Wisconsin; which is located about midway between Sheboygan and Port Washington, on the western shore of Lake Michigan.

How long have you been researching your family tree?

Since 2008.

Who is your favorite ancestor?

My grandmother Leota Servis Nyman 1907-1995. She was generous, fun, and kind.

Describe one of your brick walls.

I haven’t been able to find the parents of my 3rd great-grandfather, Thomas Servis, born in Canada, abt. 1919, who had ties to Porter, Youngstown, and Lewiston in Niagara County.

What are some of the surnames in your family tree that lived in our Western New York area?

Turner, Servis, Luick, Nundy, Boner

What are some of your favorite online resources?

The online resource I use the most is Ancestry.com.

What are some of your favorite local resources?

County offices – most have been very accommodating.

Have you had you DNA tested? If yes, which websites?

Yes, through 23andMe. I had the pleasure of meeting a new cousin from a line of my family that has been challenging as far as finding info.

What is some advice that you would share with a beginning genealogist?

When using trees from online sources you may have to do some verifying of facts listed – I have found mistakes. Visiting cemeteries and obtaining obituaries are good ways to fill in blanks you may have in your tree.

 

Member Spotlight

Get to Know Our Members-David Coats

David

Name/Location and any other credentials/background that you would like to provide:

Hello- My name is David Coats and live in Eaton Rapids Michigan and have all my life except for the military and 4 years of college.

How long have you been researching your family tree?

I have been doing research since sometime in the 70’s.

Who is your favorite ancestor?

Sophia Decker my 2x Grandmother, born in Montgomery Co, New York and died in Eaton Co, Michigan.

Describe one of your brick walls.

That is really hard due to the many brick walls but I would say finding information on when & where Sophia Decker and Reuben Coats married. Supposedly in Niagara Co, New York.

What are some of the surnames in your family tree that lived in our Western New York area?

Some of the surnames are Decker, Coats, Smith, Birdsall, Taylor and Platt. I have applied to S.A.R. under 3 of these.

What was something surprising that you discovered while researching your family tree?

That a married took place between cousins. About 5th cousins different last names and in a different state than where they were born.

What are some of your favorite online resources?

NCGS, Ancestry, Family Search, NARA and many many County Genealogical and Historical Societies.

What are some of your favorite local resources?

Michigan State Library, County Courthouse and Historical Societies.

What are some of your favorite ways to educate yourself to become a better genealogist?

Listening. Listen to the fellow Genealogists you meet.

Have you had you DNA tested?  If yes, which websites?

Yes, through Ancestry and 23andMe.

What is some advice that you would share with a beginning genealogist?

It is very important to take good notes and organize your information. Whether it is paper file folders or computer files, organize, organize. The man reason is to plan a research of one ancestor and take their file with you. It is very easy to get side tracked when you are reading through documents or reading obituaries searching for a particular ancestor and that is okay. What I do is make notes about the book and name for another time and move on. Other Genealogists you may meet at a library or courthouse talk to them you may be very surprised at what you can learn.

Member Spotlight

Get to Know Our Members

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Name/Location and any other credentials/background that you would like to provide:

Stephen Chase

How long have you been researching your family tree?

Off and on about 10 years

Who is your favorite ancestor?

My paternal grandfather, Walter Clifford Chase

Describe one of your brick walls.

Tracing the lineage of a great grandfather, William Henry Chase

What are some of the surnames in your family tree that lived in our Western New York area?

Chase

What was something surprising that you discovered while researching your family tree?

I discovered a cousin who led a raucous life with multiple marriages and escapades.  He was a career military man.

What are some of your favorite online resources?

Ancestry.com

What are some of your favorite local resources?

NCGS of course!

What are some of your favorite ways to educate yourself to become a better genealogist?

NCGS webcasts, hands on learning from fellow genealogists.

Have you had you DNA tested?  If yes, which websites?

No

What is some advice that you would share with a beginning genealogist?

Take your time and verify everything.  Just because someone else has accepted something as fact does not mean it really is.

 

Member Spotlight

Get to know our members – Peter Scarborough

Peter Scarborough’s wedding photo in Scottish attire.

Name/Location and any other credentials/background that you would like to provide:

I am Peter Scarborough, member and past Board Member of NCGS.  I am formerly from Middleport and Lockport, now living in Idaho City, Idaho. I have no formal training or credentials other than a deep interest and passion for my family history.

How long have you been researching your family tree?

I have been actively researching since 2004.

Who is your favorite ancestor?

This is an easy one, my great grandfather, Daniel Dewitt Saxton, though not the greatest role model, he was one of the most interesting characters. He was undoubtedly our ‘Black Sheep’.  You can read of his exploits in my book, “Embrace Your Black Sheep”, copy available at the NCGS Library when it reopens.

Describe one of your brick walls.

My biggest brick wall is the third wife of the aforementioned Daniel. We know that he had a wife and daughter, but have been unable to find either of their names.

What are some of the surnames in your family tree that lived in our Western New York area?

Some of the surnames in Western New York are, Scarborough, Saxton, Landers, Wiles and many more.

What was something surprising that you discovered while researching your family tree?

I was surprised to find connection to two Scottish Clans; Hannay and MacDonald of the Isles, both on my Mother’s side.

What are some of your favorite online resources?

My favorite online resources are Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, GENUKI, and Old Fulton, NY Postcards.

What are some of your favorite local resources?

In NY, I frequented NCGS Library, County Historian’s Office, Lockport Public Library and Amherst LDS Family Center.  Here in Idaho, it is more difficult to find pertinent information on my family, but there is an LDS Church in town and a small but well stocked Library.

What are some of your favorite ways to educate yourself to become a better genealogist?

I subscribe to several Genealogy Newsletters, and I constantly look at previously reviewed information for new clues.

Have you had you DNA tested?  If yes, which websites?

I have not, but my wife has with Ancestry.  It was very exciting for her and for me to find and meet her birth father, who before last year was unknown to her. She (we) have gained some great family and experiences through it.

What is some advice that you would share with a beginning genealogist?

I would say to any beginner, “Always find all possible members of any family group, you never know when a distant cousin may provide a piece of information that will break a brick wall.” I have over 17000 people in my FTM database. This may seem excessive, but it has proven its worth several times. I would also say “Think outside the box.” Never be reluctant to search a new way, or with a variation of spelling.

 

Tributes

Tales of the Pandemic

William Wallace Richards 1890-1918

Board member and author, Shelley Richards, shares this bio of her grand uncle William W. Richards, Sr. featured in her upcoming book.

William Wallace RICHARDS, Sr.

William Wallace RICHARDS, Sr. was born in Lockport, May 1, 1890 and was the eldest child on Philip RICHARDS and Martha Bell TURNER, and the brother of Robert Ransom RICHARDS, Sr. William W. grew up and became interested in the theater. During approximately 1908-1910, he became involved with the Jack LEWIS Stock Theater Company, playing parts of performances at the Lyric Theater in Buffalo. By 1910 he moved to Marion, Indiana to most likely be part of a company there. By June of that year he married Opal Lucille ROOK of Dunkirk, Indiana. In 1913 he sent a very handsome picture of himself to “Mother and Father,” dated July 10 and taken by Cobb Photographers in Indiana, featured in this biography. Their son William Wallace RICHARDS, Jr was born January 22, 1914 in Indiana.

By 1917 -1918, the Spanish Influenza epidemic was raging throughout the country, eventually killing more people than the number who died in WW1. William, his wife Opal and child William Jr. had moved to Erie, PA to follow William’s work as a theater stock company manager with the Pauline McClean Theater Company.

Newspaper accounts of the day indicated widespread caution being used in the US, especially in public places like theaters. Many of them were forced into closing, causing much hardship in the industry. The newspapers were filled with obituaries of young and old alike dying at record rates. On Dec. 3, 1918, William was admitted to St. Vincent Hospital in Erie PA, about two blocks from his home at 134 E. 8th St. Six days later on December 9, 1918 he died of the deadly influenza. A newspaper account in the Buffalo Daily Courier on December 10, 1918, the day following his death, noted “The report made by the Health Department on the influenza situation in Buffalo for the 24 hour period ending at 11 o’clock last night shows 104 new cases. There were three deaths of the flu and two of pneumonia in the same period.”  William’s body was removed from Erie, PA to Lockport and he was buried in a pine box in Glenwood Cemetery (Section 18, lot 24) a few days later – he was 28 years old. Opal returned to Indiana with then 4-year-old son William Jr. who were also very sick but survived. She later remarried to William WORSTELL in Indiana. William Jr. died in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1957 at age 43 and is buried in Marion County Indiana. Opal died in 1980 and is buried next to her son.

Tributes

I Wished for More Time… But Not Like This..

Ruth Olive Whittaker
7 Jun 1899 – 19 Jun 1919
Photo colorized with MyHeritage

There were so many times that I wished that I could get paid for my job but not have to go so I could stay at home and work on my genealogy research but, now that we are here with the Corona Virus, I wouldn’t have wished for it to be this way.  I was not prepared for how my emotions and anxiety could get in the way of me being able to do anything but the minimum.  I wake up in the morning and work for a while communicating with my students through Google Classroom.  Then I watch Governor Cuomo and the White House.  I send more links to my students and then watch the news.  By the evening, I have no joy or desire to turn on the computer or open a book.  I cried on Wednesday.  Adjusting to this new normal is hard and I am a fortunate one to be able to stay safe at home during this time.

I listened to Amy Johnson Crow’s latest episode of her podcast.  It is titled: What Life Was Like During the Spanish Flu of 1918.  You can listen to it here: https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/what-life-was-like-during-the-spanish-flu-of-1918/.  It made me wonder about my ancestors and what their lives were like during the Spanish Flu. 

My 2nd Great-Grandmother was Ella Webb who married Charles Whittaker.  They had four daughters:

1. Inez born 1897 (My Great Grandmother) 

2. Ruth born 1899

3. Ida born 1903

4. Dorothy born 1912

Ruth wrote the following letter when she was 16 years old.  It was written before the time of the Spanish Flu but you can tell how the health of the family was very much the forefront of concern:

Buffalo, N.Y.  Feb. 1, 1916.

Dear Aunt Ellen and all. –

     Inez and I received your cards some time ago and am glad you like the pictures.  I think Inez’s is good it is natural and does not flatter her.

     I suppose you are having lots of sickness as it is here.  Our family did not escape it either.  Dorothy has had the measles and I had the Grippe which came very near turning into neumonia.  I was sick over 3 weeks and the old Grippe left me looking something like a stove poker but I am picking up now.  Mamma is on the bum now, she is tired out.  The doctor told her if she didn’t

rest up that she would be sick.

     Aunt Alice’s (W) mother is very ill and will not last long.

     We just heard that Beatrice Cady had Neumonia.  It is too bad, Maud certainly has her hands full.

     Dorothy wrote a letter to Leon.  I guess he will understand it.  Tell him for me that he’s a nice one to run away when we came home.  He should have staid and got a nice girl like Uncle John.  He is real happy now and she is one dandy girl.

     We have had horrid weather.  Nothing but rain and as soon as the walks would dry off again it would rain again.  Its no wonder people are sick.

     I have been taking up elocution lessons since fall as I’m not going to school.  I spoke at our Christmas entertainment at church and at another Christmas entertainment at a lodge on the west side.  I like it very much.  Mamma would not let me go to high school this year because she said my health was more to me than an education and I have felt fine this fall and have gained quite a bit.

     Marguerite’s high school education has made a bum of her.  She hasn’t been very well all fall.  When she gets the slightest cold it runs her down.  She is under the doctors care now and has a tonic to take.

Before Christmas she work in a dry-goods store for 2 or 3 weeks but that was the only job she could get.  It didn’t pay her.

     Inez is pretty busy.  She has about 13 pupils and takes 2 lessons a week herself beside practising 3 hours a day.  She has choir practise every Sat. eve. also.  Tell Leon he would enjoy her practising as he used to.  Dorothy talks lots about Nuny.  She isn’t so cross as she was last summer.

     Ida is our only school girl now.  She is in the eighth grade and is working quite hard.

     How is Uncle Gil and the girls?  Give them my love and tell Leon he owes me a number of foolish letters.

Love to all,

Ruth.

*****************************************************************************

The family had made it through the height of the 1918 epidemic deaths (September and October 1918) intact, however, Ruth passed away shortly thereafter at the age of 19 on 19 Jun 1919.  

I believe the cause of death says General Peritonitis which Google says is an inflammation of the peritoneum, the tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers and supports most of the abdominal organs.  Peritonitis is usually caused by infection from bacteria or fungi.  The contributory factor was Appendicitis which matches the cemetery’s records.  

A few years ago I made some family history shadow boxes to display.  This is one that I made displaying some family jewelry.  You can see Ruth at the bottom left next to a locket with her picture in it:

You can see the locket with Ruth open above and here it is closed:

Ruth was described as being sweet and darling.  I’m sad for her that it seems like she had chronic health problems that it kept her from attending school and living a full life.  She was dating or engaged to a young man named Wendell that, according to family lore, did not marry (or didn’t for a very long time) after Ruth’s death.  I do not know what their daily lives were like during the Spanish Flu, but I have more empathy now for some of the emotions they might have been feeling.  

Thank you so much to all of those essential workers that are out and helping to keep our society running during this time and taking care of those in need.  It is really appreciated and I will do my part to stay at home and help to flatten the curve.

Stay safe everyone!

Jeanette

Do any of you have stories, diaries, letters, etc. about your family around the time of the Spanish Flu or other instances where illness was a major factor in their lives?  You can share their stories by posting them to your online family trees or, if you’d like to share them with us, you can leave a comment below or e mail us at: comments@niagaragenealogy.org.

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga is Board Chairman and Vice-President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society, Organizer of the North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club, a member of APG (Assn of Professional Genealogists)and the National Genealogical Society

NCGS library notes

Spotlight on our Vertical Files – Green/Greene

Throughout the years, our librarians and volunteers have clipped and copied loads of news articles and filed them by surname in our library.  Files like these may also include pedigree charts, family group sheets, pictures, and more if members have donated them.

I love that you never know what you might find in these files:

If you have family story written out, family group sheets, pictures, pedigree charts, newspaper clippings, funeral cards, etc. that you would like to donate to our Vertical Files, please contact us!  Our library is located on the 2nd floor of the Niagara County Historical Society located at 215 Niagara St., Lockport, NY  14094.  We are open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1 – 4:45pm or you can reach us by e mail at: comments@niagaragenealogy.org

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga is Board Chairman and Vice-President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society, Organizer of the North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club, a member of APG (Assn of Professional Genealogists)and the National Genealogical Society