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

NCGS library notes

New Additions to our NCGS Library

This past week we’ve added some new books to our shelves that were donated to us.  Here is a list:

1. Maryland Records Vol.1 and Vol. 2 by Brumbaugh

2. Some of the First Settlers, First Reformed Church of Easton, Penna. by Kieffer

3. History and Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield [Connecticut] Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Parts 1 & 2) by Jacobus

4. Early Connecticut Probate Records, Hartford District Vol. 1 – 3 by Manwaring

5. Inheritance in Ontario by MacNamara

6. The Pilgrim Church Register, Plymouth Congregational Church, Lockport, NY

Come look at these books in our NCGS Library!  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

If you are unable to easily visit our library to research in our holdings, remember that your membership to the Niagara County Genealogical Society entitles you to one FREE 30-minute Look-up in our Library’s holdings.  More information about our Society, membership and other benefits can be found at: http://niagaragenealogy.org/membership.html.  (Psst: You can apply for a membership and renew online on our website!)

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 – Zimmerman

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.

This folder also included a copy of an old family photo and a copy of a death certificate from 1895!

If you have 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

NCGS library notes

Please Share Your Funeral Cards With Us!

We have hundred of surname folders in our Vertical File collection in our Library:

We would love to add to that collection in many ways, but with one of them by adding copies of Funeral Cards.  Here is an example of Stephen Niziol’s Funeral Card:

Look at what Carolyn Epps brought us to make copies of this past fall!  Imagine how many we would have if we all did that!

You can e mail scans of the Funeral Cards to: comments@niagaragenealogy.org or stop in during our library hours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1-4:45pm and one of our librarians can make copies of the Funeral Cards on our copy machine.

We appreciate the help to preserve our Niagara County ancestors!

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

New Additions to our NCGS Library

This past weekend we added some books to our NCGS library shelves.  We visited the Historical Society of the Tonawanda’s and made a few purchases for our library shelves:

1. City of North Tonawanda Centennial Celebration 1897-1997

2. Centennial Magazine 1865-1965, North Tonawanda, NY

3. The Rand Family Left a Lasting Imprint on North Tonawanda — and the World!

4. Civil War Veterans of the Tonawandas by Stuart R. Brown (updated 2005)

The website for the Historical Society of the Tonawandas can be found here: https://www.tonawandashistory.org/index.html 

Come look at these books in our NCGS Library!  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

If you are unable to easily visit our library to research in our holdings, remember that your membership to the Niagara County Genealogical Society entitles you to one FREE 30-minute Look-up in our Library’s holdings.  More information about our Society, membership and other benefits can be found at: http://niagaragenealogy.org/membership.html.  (Psst: You can apply for a membership and renew online from our website!)

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga is 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

Our Community

Town of Pendleton Historian: Carissa Smith

This past Saturday, the new Historian for the Town of Pendleton stopped into our Library.  Her name is Carissa Smith and you can contact her at: CSmith@pendletonny.us. Carissa, very kindly, agreed to let me send her a couple of questions so we could all get to know her better!  Here are her responses:

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself:

My mother’s paternal side came to the Southern Niagara/Northern Erie area around two hundred years ago from Germany. Here I am (many generations later) raising my son in the town I had grown up in.


2.  What made you interested in becoming a Town Historian?

It was on my bucket list. No joke!  From early childhood, I was as curious as a cat. When I would hear a story from an elder, it was followed by a plethora of questions. There’s a romance to local history especially sleepy little Pendleton. It deserves an audience and to ignite passion in others is the aim. Yes, one can relate to it (as history has a tendency to repeat itself). The key figures/situations change but the theme(s) remain the same.



3.  Can you tell us a brief history/overview of the Town of Pendleton (when did it become incorporated, average population, churches, cemeteries, etc.)?

Pendleton is the founder’s mother’s maiden name. Sylvester Pendleton Clark was originally from Rhode Island. He was a war of 1812 veteran with an adventurous spirit. A natural leader, he became the self appointed governor of Grand Island but his victory was short lived. His community of squatters, along with Clark, were forcibly removed from Grand Island via Sheriff Cronk and his militia. It’s true it wasn’t owned but that meant little. Just about everyone fled to Canada but Clark and another family made their way down here to Niagara County. 

After several years of gathering land and building structures, the village of Pendleton was made official in 1827. There was three parishes erected within a short time of each other – Saint Paul’s Evangelical, Good Shepherd Roman Catholic and the First Methodist Episcopal Church (all 1850s). 

We have several cemeteries – some obvious and some not so obvious. A couple are on private property so its best to ask for permission (naturally). On Bear Ridge, there’s four but only two accessible to the public (Bear Ridge Ridgeville-Foote and Saint Paul’s Evangelical Protestant Reformed Bear Ridge #2 ). The King and Clark cemeteries are on private property (access with permission/ respect). There’s more but I don’t want to bore you!



4.  What genealogical resources should we look for if we had ancestors that lived in the Pendleton area?

Oh, that’s a loaded question. Many of the elderly residents are a good start (if they were interested early on). They can point you to people that knew descendants of the founding families. We have a tendency to downplay oral tradition but it can be quite valuable (for instance, with Richard III’s remains and their legendary whereabouts ). The Niagara County Genealogical Society is another fine place to dissect family history. It has a collection of helpful individuals. A short dash from here is the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village. Don’t let the quaint exterior fool you – it houses a delightful archive (complete with microfiche).  

Of course, websites like Ancestry.com, Fulton History, the National Archives and other databases can surprise you with its contents. Before you set out, try to organize your thoughts in a journal. If you’re at a dead end, don’t let the disappointment set in. Take a break, regroup and focus. Last but not least, send me a message. I will do my best to assist you (worst case scenario, I’ll be a student along with you!) We have only to gain.



5.  Do you have a favorite ancestor in your tree that you would like to share a story about with us?

My great 2x grandfather, Henry G. Smith, was from England. He arrived in Fort Erie, Canada to work as an apprentice to his grandparents at their butcher shop. Quite the ambitious man, he climbed the corporate ladder (he was the secretary for Cleveland Steel – his brother Thomas was Vice President). He went from living in a rough part of London to being a well made man in America. There’s a short write up about him in Elroy McKendree Avery’s “A history of Cleveland and its environs; the heart of new Connecticut”. He’s buried in the town of Pomfret (by Fredonia). A day trip was in order one weekend and I had my picture taken next to his stone. It was a full circle moment.



6.  Anything else that you would like to share…

Preservation is up to us therefore it should be addressed as a whole, not a part. The best way to ensure that future generations cherish our local history is to get them involved now and get their creative gears firing. What have you always wanted to know? What would you like to see? There’ll always be a storyteller, a gate keeper but it is done out of a sense of obligation (not woefully but beautifully). Our past is a teacher, for better or for worse, and it is vital for our growth. It is open to all. If you’re new to Pendleton, your story is just another thread in our vivid tapestry. Welcome to the family!

Thank you so much to Carissa for letting us get to know her and the Town of Pendleton a little better!!

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga is 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

New Additions to our Library

This past weekend we added some books to our NCGS library shelves – particularly our Pennsylvania collection.  These were all books that had been donated to our library.

1. History of Centre & Clinton Counties, Pennsylvania

2. History of the County of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania

3. Genealogies of Pennsylvania Families

4. History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania

5. Pennsylvania Births, Bucks County 1682-1800

6. Pennsylvania Births, Northampton County 1733-1800

7. Pennsylvania Births, Montgomery County 1682-1800

8. Index to Pennsylvania’s Colonial Records Series

9. The German Immigration into Pennsylvania

10. History of McKean, Elk, Cameron, and Potter Counties, Penn. Vol 1 & 2

11. History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania

Thank you to those that donated books to our library!

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

If you are unable to easily visit our library to research in our holdings, remember that your membership to the Niagara County Genealogical Society entitles you to one FREE 30-minute Look-up in our Library’s holdings.  More information about our Society, membership and other benefits can be found at: http://niagaragenealogy.org/membership.html.  (Psst: You can apply for a membership and renew online from our website!)

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga is 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.