22 November 2012

Sepia Saturday 153: Sisters, Sisters ...

White Christmas Anniversary Edition, Blu Ray DVD

"I'm dreaming of a White Christmas" with every blog post that I write.... Not dreaming of actually having a white Christmas but dreaming of the movie, White Christmas.  Every year at Thanksgiving, my sister, Mickey, and I would begin reading the TV guide for a listing of our favorite Christmas movies. Topping the list was 'White Christmas.' We watched 'White Christmas' on a black-and-white, 20-inch TV every year, singing along and shedding a few tears at the end each time.

White Christmas was inspired by the song by the same name. The song debuted in another of our favorite movies, Holiday Inn. With a score written by Irving Berlin, the singing and dancing is what makes White Christmas a classic. As soon as White Christmas became available on VHS, it was on my list and given as a gift to my sister. A few years later, White Christmas in DVD form was under my tree. I just now noticed that the Anniversary Edition is available as a Blu Ray DVD - Santa? Mickey?

Being sisters and musically inclined, my sister and I performed 'Sisters, Sisters' from White Christmas for anyone, anytime. Sadly for our audiences, our talent was not in vocal music. You can see Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen perform "Sisters, Sisters" on YouTube as well as a rendition of the same performance by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.

None of these compare to the spectacle my sister and I made singing about our sisterly love around the camp fire. No doubt our audience survived only because of the liquid refreshment they imbibed. My future brother-in-law could not believe our performance. Shaking his head, he remarked about our bravery (or was it stupidity?). I suppose we should feel lucky that there were no cameras present to permanently record our insanity.

With temperatures in the high 60s today, there is little chance of snow or even a Thanksgiving fire in the fireplace. Dreaming now of "Snow, Snow, Snow," another favorite song from White Christmas....

Mickey Warwick Sledding, photograph by Chet Warwick
Highlighted type links to further information or a YouTube video of a performance. Sepia Saturday had me reminiscing about good times with my sister. For more posts inspired by the photograph below, see Sepia Saturday 153. Which song was your favorite?

More on Warwicks:
1. Well Deserved Rest
2. Fiddling Around
3. Fish Tales
4. The Intrepid Postman and the Very Special Package
5. Let it Snow!
6. Mern Hopkins, Telephone Operator

17 November 2012

Sepia Saturday 152: Occupational Hazards

An occupational hazard is "any condition of a job that can result in illness or injury." Occupations that befuddle ancestral trails lead to prolonged periods of disorientation and malaise - an occupational hazard of doing genealogical research. The cures are as varied as our ancestors' professions.
I've come to love my farmers for their ties to the land. As the family grows the land divides or nearby farms are purchased. Any moves tend to be along established migration routes; the farmers' travels documented by land records.

Perennial movers have me hitting the books. These are the sailors, train engineers, military men, traveling salesmen, ministers and even a few professionals. Anyone who has lived near an IBM facility knows the alternate meaning of those three initials - "I've Been Moved." Perennial movers might be found with a diligent study of sailing or train routes, military or church records, even company addresses.

Among the more difficult to track are those whose goods or services have limited demand: blacksmiths, plumbers, weavers and more. In large cities, there was enough work for a father and his sons to work side-by-side. Not so in rural areas. Once training was complete, sons dispersed with no more pattern than a random scatter plot.

Asa Ashton Manchester (1870-1934), photographer unknown

Asa Manchester (1870-1934) followed in his father's footsteps and became a copper smith applying his smithing skills as a plumber in Dayton, Ohio. Asa ultimately became Director of the Ohio State Bureau of Plumbing Inspectors precipitating his move to Columbus, Ohio. All of Asa's brothers were employed in the metal working industry in the 1890s and all but Asa and George remained in Dayton. Metal working skills were in high demand by National Cash Register (NCR) and the growing plumbing industry.

Asa's Grandfather and Grand Uncle were also copper smiths. Brothers, John and Richard, were plying their craft in the thriving steamboat building foundries of Cincinnati in the mid-1800s. When they left the Queen City for the rich farm land in west central Ohio, Richard became a farmer and ultimately followed the traditional migration trails west. Simple.

Not so with my ancestor, John. John trained his sons as copper smiths. When the small town could not support them all, the sons migrated to a scatter plot of locations near and far. George returned to Cincinnati; John moved to St. Louis; and Richard made his way to Dayton, Ohio.

Three families of metal workers, Asa - Richard - John took me on a journey from Columbus to Dayton to Piqua to Cincinnati in Ohio; Oklahoma City; Dayton Twp, Iowa; Manchester, England and places in between. Without census records and city directories, their whereabouts and stories might have remained a mystery.

This is a rather circuitous route to the Sepia Saturday theme beginning with boys studying books, reminding me of my favorite photo of a studious Asa, reminding me of reading censuses and directories, taking me full circle back to the Sepia Saturday 152 theme. Though I doubt the boys were reading city directories or census records! Read more inspired by the photo below at Sepia Saturday 152.

More posts about Asa Manchester:

09 November 2012

Sepia Saturday 151: Mern Hopkins, Telephone Operator

Grand Lake, Colorado ca 1911 © Mile High Photo Company
Mountain States Telephone Company was formed in 1911, about the same time this photograph was taken of Grand Lake, Colorado. About 40 years later, Mern Hopkins, an operator for Mountain States, was assigned to work in Grand Lake. Nestled high in the Colorado Rockies, Grand Lake was  a tourist destination. Residents and visitors a enjoyed outdoor pursuits in the daytime and entertainment and dancing at night. In the photograph below, Mern is sporting a cast having recently broken her leg skiing.

Mern (Hopkins) Warwick, Telephone Office, Grand Lake, Colorado, 1950s
© Chet Warwick
Grand Lake was a small town then and remains so today. Mern told stories of working as an operator directing calls. Those placing the calls rarely gave their names relying on the operator's memory of their voice or location. Frequently they asked to be connected using only first names!

The young women who worked the switch boards were rarely at a loss for companionship. In the 1950s the Colorado-Big Thompson Project brought scores of young men to area to complete the project. Among them was Mern's future husband, Chet Warwick. For more on the happy couple, see The Honeymoon Hitch.

For more posts inspired by the photograph below, connect with Sepia Saturday 151 (no switch board required). For those interested in learning more about what Mern's job as an operator was like, see Wendy's excellent description at Sepia Saturday Smooth Operator.

"Colorado-Big Thompson Project." U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation. http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Project.jsp?proj_Name=Colorado-Big+Thompson+Project : accessed 9 November 2012.

Mile High Photo Company. "Town of Grand Lake, Colo." Digital Image. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, Panoramic Photographs. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2007661972/ : accessed 9 November 2012.

Telecommunications History Group. Telecommunications Virtual Museum. http://www.telcomhistory.org/vm/index.shtml : accessed 9 November 2012.

Warwick, Chet. "Mern Warwick, Telephone Office, Grand Lake, Colorado." Digital Image. Privately held by Liz Stratton [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012.

01 November 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday: Autograph Book

Sometimes a treasure is simply meant to be passed along. I've signed wedding books and funeral registers. More than a few of my friends’ high school yearbooks bear my signature and more! But this was the first time I had seen a birthday autograph book.

Autograph books have been around a long time, the earliest date from the mid-1500s functioning much the same way as college yearbooks do today.(1) Princeton University has a collection of autograph books of their graduates (1825-1884). The collection includes Charles P. Stratton's autograph book.(2) (No known relation.) The books capture the essence of a student’s college life with an emphasis on their social activities. Autograph books were popular in the 1800s, ultimately being replaced by yearbooks.

The social microcosm revealed by anecdotes in autograph books (and, later, yearbooks) is a subject for historians. As genealogists, our ancestors’ recollections of college life provide a glimpse into their personalities. They also include the names of the people who may have shaped our ancestor’s life after college - the sweethearts who became wives, the roommates who became business partners, the friends from afar who inspired a move to a new state....

I doubt that Charles P. Stratton’s autograph book much resembles the one owned by Charles W. Stratton. Charles W.’s book was received as a 6th birthday present in 1882.(3)  The book omits the amusing commentary that might appear in a graduate’s book.  Nevertheless each signature is a treasure to someone who has never seen the scrawl of their 2nd or 3rd or 4th great grandparent.

Charlie W. Stratton
Harry Mallory
Lee May 1, 1882 
  [Harry Mallory was Charlie's 1st cousin.]

Your Sincere Friend
Alice L. Fallon
Nov. 19th 85

Aunt Minnie's best
wishes for "Charlie Boy."
May 1st, 1882.
[Probably Aunt Mary Couch (Baker) Mallory]

Sincerely yours
Mollie A. Herrick

Very truly -
C. E. Cooper -
Dec. 1884

Always our friend
Stella Decker
Lee, Nov. 26th 1884

Your school-mate,
Robert Cheney
Jan 21st. 1886.

Jennie W. [H.?] Hunter
Glendale -
May 1st 1882.

Harry J. Mallory

Always your friend
John McDermott
Lee Nov 26.

Sophronia McCartney.
Nov. 26th 1884.

Carrie E. Rising
Nov. 26, 1884.

Bridget Conroy
Dec 5th 1884.

Carrie W. Graves.
Nov. 25th 1884.

Compliments of
Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Whipple
Dec 1st 1884

Florence H. L[?]nes
Lee Mass 1885.

Always your friend
Mary M. Mansfield
Lee Mass.
Nov. 3d 1884

Always your friend.
Alice Videtto.
Lee Mass.

Your friend
Carrie O. Sedgwick -
Lenox, Mass. '85

Yours sincerely
Mary E. Washburn
Lenox. Feb 1885 

"Hold on to that. You have an autograph. I'm going to be famous some day."
Haywood Nelson

If you notice anyone famous, infamous or near and dear to you, please post a comment and tell us all a little more about them.
(1)    Wikipedia. "Autograph Book."  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autograph_book#Autographs: 10 August 2012 at 11:12.
(2)    Princeton University, Princeton University Library Finding Aids, “Autograph Book Collection 1825-1884 (mostly 1848-1882)” http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/AC040 : 22 October 2012.
(3)    Stratton, Charles 'Charlie' W., II. Autograph Book. MS. Lee, Massachusetts. Stratton Family Papers. Privately held by Liz Stratton [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012. Liz Stratton is the wife of Charles' grandson.

20 October 2012

Sepia Saturday 148: Boys and Their Toys

Schoverling, Daly and Gales card, 1903 Diary of Charles W. Stratton II

Other than the bicycles, this card sums up Dr. Charles 'Charlie' W. Stratton II's favorite leisure activities. The card was found in Charlie's 1903 Diary. An avid hunter and fisherman, Charlie wrote of his adventures in his diaries. In 1903, his hunting and fishing trips were few in number as the bulk of his attention was on his studies at Albany Medical School:

Home to night at eleven Sweet with me. Find things in partly good shape at home. Am glad to get here. Hate to go to bed but must if I am going shooting. [Friday, October 30, 1903, Charles W. Stratton II (1876-1945) diary.]

An avid outdoorsman, why wasn't Charlie part of the bicycling craze of the early 1900s? The bicycle photographed below was Charlie's Christmas present in 1885. Before the snow could melt, Charlie's father passed away. He never rode the bike, retiring it to a shed that ever-after was memorialized as the 'bike barn.' Nearly 100 years later, Dr. Charles 'Jim' Stratton III (1918-1996) ensured the bike's pedals turned, giving it to a performing troop in the late 1900s.

Charles W. Stratton III with a Child's Penny-Farthing Bicycle, photograph by Marita Stratton

Bike Barn, ca 1997, being painted by Charlie's (II) great grand-daughter (Emma) and grandson (Jim), photograph by Dick Stratton
Two more generations of Strattons, Emma and Jim, add a fresh coat of paint to the now vacant bike barn. Is it just the mustache? Or is there a familial resemblance between Charlie's grandson and the mystery man below. The photograph was found in family collection with no identification.

Unknown Gentleman with a Bicycle

This photograph prominently displays a more modern bike complete with a chain drive and, it appears, tube tires. Could this bicycle be related to the Schoverling, Daly & Gales card? Perhaps the bicycle was a Christmas gift for a relative purchased from Schoverling? There were bikes of this design in 1903.... Sadly no mention is made of the bicycle or Schoverling in Charlie's diary.

A gun, two bicycles and true mystery men (undercover police?) have prompted this spin back in time. For more, see Sepia Saturday 148. Any help identifying my mystery man or dating the photograph is appreciated!

"Unknown Gentleman with a Bicycle." Cabinet Card. 7 1/4 x 5 1/8. Stratton Family Papers. Privately held by Liz Stratton [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012. Liz Stratton is the wife of Charles' grandson.

Schoverling, Daly and Gales card. MS. New York, New York. Stratton Family Papers. Privately held by Liz Stratton [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012. The card was located the pocket of Charles W. Stratton II's 1903 diary. Liz Stratton is the wife of Charles' grandson.

Stratton, Charles 'Charlie' W., II. "The Standard Diary, 1903." MS. Lee, Massachusetts. Stratton Family Papers. Privately held by Liz Stratton [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012. Liz Stratton is the wife of Charles' grandson.

Stratton, Charles 'Charlie or Jim' W., III (Lee, Massachusetts).  Photograph.  Ca 1995.  Digital image.  Privately held by Liz Stratton, [ADDRESS FOR PERSONAL USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio. 2012.

Stratton, Emma and James 'Jim' W. Stratton (Lee, Massachusetts).  Photograph.  Ca 1995.  Digital image.  Privately held by Liz Stratton, [ADDRESS FOR PERSONAL USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio. 2012.

Stratton Family Traditions. Stratton family traditions regarding the 'big wheel bike' as related by Charles W. Stratton III in 1991. MS notes, ca 1991-2012. Cincinnati, Ohio. Stratton Family Papers. Privately held by Liz Stratton [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012. Liz Stratton is the wife of Charles' grandson.

13 October 2012

Sepia Saturday 147: William H. Velsor, A Pictorial Military Biography

Rising of the People, Library of Congress
Wm H. Velsor, Volunteer Enlistment

150 years ago this past week, William H. Velsor (Feb 1823-11 Oct 1871) was on his way to Washington D.C. to serve with the 133rd New York Infantry, 2nd Metropolitan Guards in the U.S. Civil War. My attic is sadly lacking a photograph of William whether in uniform or not. Is it possible to convey his military service in the absence of his visage?

In 1862, the Civil War was losing its appeal. The reality of war was sinking in and recruiting had become difficult. Was William inspired to serve by the verses in "Rising of the People: Drum Tap Rattle through the Land"? Perhaps patriotic duty called. As a butcher, William could scarcely have wanted more work. "By the summer of 1862, Illinois alone was forwarding two thousand head [of cattle] a week [to New York City]."(Gotham, 874)

William volunteered for service at the age of 39 with a wife and young family at home. Were bounties an incentive for his enlistment? Soldiers received $100 bounties on completion of their service and in 1862, $25 of the bounty was advanced on enlistment.(McPherson, 492) Did William fear a militia draft as called for by Congress in July 1862.Whatever his reasons, William Velsor enlisted for a 3 year term of service on 26 August 1862 listing his occupation as Stage Driver.

William's unit, the 133rd New York, was attached to Abercrombie's Division and charged with the defense of Washington D.C. I can't help but wonder what scenes were witnessed as the Capitol city was sharply divided between North and South. Waud's sketch captures the grizzly scene as soldiers discover bodies on the nearby Potomac River.

Discovering the Bodies of the Slain in the Potomac River, Library of Congress
In November of 1862, the 133rd sailed to New Orleans becoming part of Banks' New Orleans Expedition. During this time, William Velsor was detailed to Provost Guard in Baton Rouge on 6 February 1863. A Provost Guard serves under the Provost Marshall, the officer in charge of the military police. The Metropolitan Guard units were recruited by the New York Metropolitan police. Perhaps the police had identified recruits that mirrored their own commitment to law and order.

On 12-13 April 1863, the 133rd fought at Fort Bisland sustaining their first casualties. Later that Spring, the 133rd participated in the Siege and Assault of Port Hudson.

A Fierce Assault on Port Hudson, Wikipedia citing National Archives
The following is taken from a sketch by Mr. J.R. Hamilton of the triumphant Union Soldiers entering the breastworks at Port Hudson.

Port Hudson ... Union forces ...take possession, July 9, 1863, Library of Congress
The 133rd New York moved on to New Orleans, participated in the Sabine Pass Expedition, then on to Brashear City and Berwick City. It was in Berwick City that William was detailed as a guard of the Commissary Stores. He may not have been with his unit during the Western Louisiana 'Teche' Campaign. The 133rd New York continued in their defense of New Orleans until the Red River Campaign, 26 Apr-22 May 1864. The unit then participated in the construction of the dam at Alexandria.

Porter’s fleet passing the dam at Alexandria
The 133rd NY Infantry continued operations in Louisiana until it moved to Fortress Monroe and Deep Bottom, Virginia in July 1864. They then moved on to Washington D.C. where the unit joined Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign 7 Aug - 28 Nov 1864. During much of this time (14 Aug-27 Oct 1864), the 133rd NY Infantry served as train guard for Sheridan's Army.

Sheridan's Army following Early up the Valley of the Shenandoah, Library of Congress
Sheridan’s Wagon Trains in the Valley, Early Morning Mist and Smoke, Library of Congress
The Shenandoah Valley had been a strategic food supply line for the Confederacy. Grant commanded Sheridan to turn 'the Shenandoah Valley [into] a barren waste.' By October 7, Sheridan reported they had 'driven in front of the army over 4,000 head of stock and ... killed and issued to the troops not less than 3,000 sheep.' Clearly the services of a butcher were in need. William Velsor's prior experience as a butcher was put to use. He was detailed as a butcher for the 3rd Brigade Commissary on January 14 and marked as absent on the March-April 1865 muster rolls, "detailed to Post Comm. at Winchester, Virginia." The location of the Commissary Tent in the stereo-card below was not identified but may be indicative of William's experience.

Commissary Tent, Library of Congress

The 133rd NY Infantry remained in the Shenandoah Valley until April of 1865 when the unit moved to Washington D.C. They performed guard duty there and participated in the Grand Review on 23-24 May 1865.

Grand Review of the Army, Library of Congress
The 133rd New York Infantry, including William H. Velsor, mustered out 6 June 1865.

William H. Velsor, Muster Out of Service, 6 Jun 1865
The troops returned to parade and fanfare. The following transcription of a newspaper clipping is one of several relating to the 133rd Regiment Infantry on the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center website.
The 133d New-York Regiment (Second Metropolitan) arrived in this city at 3 p. m. yesterday afternoon, via the New-Jersey Railroad. The regiment numbers 486 muskets and 29 officers.
The regiment, preceded by their escort, marched up Courtlandt-st. to Broadway, down Broadway to the Battery barracks, where the soldiers were furnished with an excellent dinner.... Subsequently, the regiment embarked on board a transport and proceeded to Hart's Island, where they will remain until paid off.
Military on Broadway, Library of Congress

William H. Velsor is my 3rd-great-grandfather. Information about the battles and campaigns can be found by following the links. In the interest of brevity, not all the activities the 133rd New York Infantry participated in have been included. The sources listed below contain additional information about other engagements. 

For more men in uniform, see Sepia Saturday 147.


"133rd Regiment Infantry New York Volunteers, Civil War Newspaper Clippings." New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center. http://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/133rdInf/133rdInfCWN.htm : accessed 3 October 2012.

Civil War Photograph Collection. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/civwar/ : accessed 2012. A detailed source list including specific photographs is available at Sources: Sepia Saturday 147, William H. Velsor.

Burrows, Edwin G. and Mike Wallace. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 874.

Hawks, Steve. "133st New York Infantry Regiment '2nd Regiment Metropolitan Guard'."  Civil War in the East. www.civilwarintheeast.com : 3 October 2012. [Unit operations were taken from this source. Additional information about the 133rd New York Infantry's service is available on this and other websites.]

McPherson, James. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York, Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 492.

Military, Compiled Service Records. Civil War. Carded Records. Volunteer Organizations. Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94. Compiled service record, William H. Velsor, Pvt., Co. G, 133 New York Inf. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

New York. "New York, Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900." Digital images. Ancestry.com. William H. Velsor, separation date 6 Jun 1865. http://www.ancestry.com : 2011. [Ancestry cites New York State Archives, Cultural Education Center, Albany, New York; New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900; Archive Collection #: 13775-83; Box #: 538; Roll #: 194.]

New York. Kings County. 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Brooklyn, Ward 18, District 1, p. 417 (stamped), dwelling 144, family 213, William H. Velsor household. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2009.

Wikipedia. "A Fierce Assault on Port Hudson," Digital image. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Port_Hudson_Assault.jpg : 24 March 2011. [Citing "A Fierce Assault on Port Hudson" image, Archival Research Catalog, digital images, National Archives, ARC identifier 4529740, Local Identifier 64-M-191. The image is in the public domain.]