Treasure Chest Thursday – Hannah’s Small Treasures

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about a trip back home to go through a lot of my mom’s and grandma’s stuff that was still at my Dad’s house.  As I said then, there was just so much that we found that it was almost overwhelming.  This week’s Treasure Chest Thursday is about two of the items that we found that came home with me.

As we were going through all of the things we found, we came across two books that were very obviously quite old.  Both books were quite small and both were leather bound.  The first of the two had only a leather spine and the front and back were hard cover.  Inscribed on the front cover was “The Presbyterian Hymnal” in beautiful lettering.  When we opened it, the note on the front cover (seen here to the left) read, “Mrs. H. Hill  Marseilles, Ohio.”  Our first thought was that this belonged to my grandmother, Hannah (Hill) Link who grew up in Marseilles.  Then it struck me….this says “Mrs.H. Hill.”  When Grandma was Hannah Hill, she would have been Miss Hill!  That meant that this hymnal had to have belonged to her grandmother!

Sure enough, when we turned to the publication page, it read, “Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by the trustees of the Presbyterian Board of Publication.”  This was a nearly 140 year old hymnal!

The second book was so unassuming that had we not stopped to take a close look, it could easily have been accidentally discarded.  The book was quite small and leather bound with a flap that secured the front cover closed.  There were no markings on the outside at all except for one simple word in gold lettering on the spine… Bible.  After finding the hymnal, I for one was pretty excited at the prospect that this may be just as old.

When we carefully opened the bible, there was a simple, handwritten note sitting inside that read, “Grandma Hannah McCleary Helm Hill Bible – 1855.  This note, which was just stuck inside the bible, was in my grandmother’s handwriting, so while it seemed reliable, it wasn’t necessarily conclusive about the date or ownership of the bible.

Looking a bit more, I found two notes that were handwritten on the pages of the bible.  The first was in the front and it read, “Hannah Helm, Nov 4th 1855.”  The second was on the back cover and reads, “James Helm, Nov 4th 1855, Hannah Helm.”  I recognize the handwriting on both of these inscriptions as being that of Hannah’s first husband, James Helm.  The recognition is based on a letter I have in my possession that James wrote to Hannah before they were married.

Wow!  As if the 140 year old hymnal wasn’t enough, we were holding a 160 year old Bible!  Based on these notes, this would appear to be a bible that was perhaps given to Hannah by her first husband.  My initial thought when I looked at the date of the inscription was that maybe, just maybe, this was a gift on their wedding day or shortly after.  When I went and checked my database, however, I found that they were married on 28 Aug 1854, so the Nov 4th date is over a year after their wedding.  I don’t know exactly what the occasion may have been for James to give the bible to Hannah, but this date has definitely gone onto my “to do” list for Hannah!

Beyond the excitement of finding two such incredibly old and personal items of my great great grandmother’s, these two items did also provide just a hint of genealogical information in the form of indirectly telling me what denomination Hannah belonged to.  I know it may not sound like much, but to have a personal item that answers a question like that is a genuinely fun find in my mind.

So now I am faced with one small dilemma…do I keep the items out on display in their current condition, or do I find a way to more permanently preserve these items?  I’m very up in the air over this decision, and I’d love to hear some reader comments or suggestions.

What do you think?


Treasure Chest Thursday – This Started It All

For today’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I went back to what pretty much started me on my genealogical journey… a compiled genealogy of my Washler ancestors.  I would love to say that this genealogy was a perfect treasure chest with complete and accurate information that had perfect citations.  Unfortunately, as is the case far too often, this genealogy, while incredibly extensive, is missing some information and is completely undocumented.  This made (and still makes) the genealogy a two-edged sword, especially back when I was just starting out in my journey.

Compiled and Edited by Edwin Wiley

The compiled genealogy is titled, “Descendants of Heinrich Worschler: also these names Warstler, Werstler, Wearstler, Wastler, Washler, Wershler” and was compiled and edited by Edwin Wiley.  Unfortunately, there isn’t any other publication information, and I actually have no record of where I received this genealogy from.  (Yes, I know, that was a huge rookie mistake on my part!)

When I received this packet many years ago, you can imagine my excitement.  I had just received something that showed my lineage back to my 6th great grandfather who was born in 1681!  It was a beginner genealogist’s dream come true!  And I will say that looking back through this document now, it really still is a bit of a dream come true.

The genealogy provides some great history of where the Washler family comes from (mostly Stark County, Ohio) and has relatively complete information for each generation that has lived in the United States.  It even, thankfully, has what appears to be very accurate information on where the family came from when they first came over to America from Germany.

Over the years, I have been working my way through this genealogy, attempting to find the pieces of evidence with the information needed to prove each relationship so that I can put together a complete, and fully documented genealogy.  This little treasure has provided me with more “To Do’s” and research questions than I could ever have hoped for when I first started out.  I guess I could almost say that this is a “Thankful Thursday” post as well because I am incredibly thankful for the existence of this genealogy and the path that it has given me to follow as I research the Washler history.

Treasure Chest Thursday – Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild

As most genealogists do, I utilize a lot of on-line resources in my research.  My list of bookmarks in Firefox seems to go on forever, and that is just my research sites and doesn’t include others that I categorize as resources or societies, or libraries or…you get the picture.  Of all of the sites that I use, I think I would call each of them a bit of a treasure chest at times, but I have never had one site that became a treasure chest for me the very first time I used it, until now.  Enter the site for the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild (ISTG).

I have set aside a lot of my new research lately to focus more on improving my records organization, my documentation and citations and to spend some time on genealogy education. (Stephen Covey called this “sharpening the saw.”)  But I do find myself doing some “casual” research from time to time.  This research is more just doing some Google searches on problems or brick walls that are waiting for me on my to do list.  I will browse the search results looking for new leads and then if I find something, clip it to Evernote for later reference.

On Tuesday of this week, I was doing some casual research over lunch and decided to look for my great great grandfather, Anton Hablawetz, who has been a bit of a “brick wall” for me in that because of the unusual last name, the spelling variations that I have found have been incredible.  See my posts here and here to see what I mean.  Before I had let my Ancestry subscription lapse (I know, that is near heresy in the genealogy world), I had noticed a hint for Anton that mentioned the name “Hablerwitz” in a ships passenger index.  Since I currently can’t access the record on Ancestry, I decided to Google that variation of the last name and see what I found.  What I ran across was an incredible hit….the passenger list manifest for the Ship Republik on the ISTG website.

Here I found this listing:

108* Adam Hublerwitz        32      male    Farmer   Bohemia           Ohio 
109* Anna Hublerwitz        29      female           Bohemia           Ohio
110* Johann Hublerwitz       8      male             Bohemia           Ohio
111* Maria Hublerwitz        3y6m   female           Bohemia           Ohio
112* Joseph Hulterwitz baby  0y9m   male             Bohemia           Ohio

(National Archives and Records Administration, Film M237, Reel 196, List 1092., Transcribed by Gene Janssen, a member of the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, 7 April 2010)

Hmmm….okay, yet another variation on the Hablawetz last name…great!  But, more importantly, while the list shows his name as Adam, I am nearly positive that this is Anton and his family.  The date of the ship’s manifest matches the information I had regarding his year of immigration; the ages for him, his wife and the three children match information I have previously found, and the location they came from matches.  Even better is that there are several more entries in the manifest that show people who appear to be relatives which may give me even more research opportunities for finding these ancestors!

I am still in the process of analyzing all of the information about the Ship Republik, but at this point, it appears that the good people at ISTG have absolutely shattered what I once considered a brick wall in my genealogy research….definitely a treasure chest of a website!

Treasure Chest Thursday

My fiancee and I are combining households and as anyone who has tried to do that knows, it lends itself well to the process of going through stuff and getting rid of a lot!  This past weekend, as I was going through one of many boxes, I stumbled across a small treasure (or set of small treasures) that I had forgotten about.

About six years ago when my mother passed away, all of us kids had to get together and go through a lot of miscellaneous personal items and divide up the important ones between us.  One of the things that came into my possession was the set of lighters pictured here.  While they may not look like much to most, these four lighters are somewhat of a “family heirloom” as they all belonged to my maternal grandfather.  Two of the four are not particularly unique as they are pretty much the standard “Zippo” lighters from the mid 1900’s. (One is actually the Zippo brand while the other is a Wind Master.)  The other two, however, are somewhat unique in design and function, or at least they are to someone like me who has no real knowledge of lighters from that era.  The one that I found most interesting is the bottom center.  You can’t quite tell from the picture, but it is designed to fit around the end of a pack of cigarettes and even has a clip built in that slipped down inside the pack.  I have a vague recollection of my mother telling me that that one was the one that her dad used when he worked on the railroad, and the black one was the one he used when he was “dressed up.”

My next task with these is to see if I can find new flints for them and see if they still function.  Now wouldn’t that be a treasure – to be able to use the lighters that my grandfather used!