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28 April 2012

Surname Saturday... Sherman Lewis Brown and the Columbus City Directories

Finding Sherman in City Directories

I've enjoyed following my great-grandfather Sherman Lewis Brown through the Columbus, Ohio City Directories that can be found using I had heard that after you use census records, that you should look into city directories to find out what happened between census entries. I didn't realize how much had happened to Sherman between those 10 year increments.

Sherman Lewis Brown with his wife Emma Virginia Townsend
and their two youngest sons Harry and Lew.

Story Before City records:

This is what I knew about Sherman Lewis Brown from Census records. First, until later in life, he could be found under the name Sherman or the name Lewis.

1890 US Census... he was 13 and living with his parents and siblings in Jefferson, Madison, Ohio. 

1900 US Census... he was married to Emma and they had one child named Eugene. He worked as a day laborer and lived n Columbus, Ohio.
In reviewing the record again, I realized something I missed before today. That Sherman and Emma had bee married 5 years. They had had 5 children and only one was alive in 1900. So between 1885 and 1900, they had their 4 children that died. I had to write this here because I've been trying to figure out when/where these 4 children were born & died. Now I have my smaller window.
1910 US Census...  Sherman was living at Wager St in Marion, Franklin, Ohio with his wife Emma, two sons Eugene and Samuel. They had two boarders Ethel Townsend (Emma's relation) and William Wheatly (no relation?). They had been married 15 years. He's working at a factory but I can't read what kind.

1920 US Census... Sherman and Emma live at 1888 Parsons Ave with their sons Eugene, Samuel, Harry, and Lewis. He is a proprietor of garage.

1930 US Census... Lewis and Emma live at 438 Reeb Avenue (which is very near Wager St, very interesting). Their younger sons Harry and Lewis Jr still live with him. Lewis is a salesman at a filling station.

Sherman dies in 1937.

Story After City Directories

So, that's a pretty nice story but it's very incomplete. He goes from being a factory worker to a proprietor of a garage in 10 years and then a salesman at a filling station. The garage (auto related) and filling station (auto related) could be the same thing only described in different terms over the course of 10 years. In any case, that picture only tells part of the story.

I could go year by year detailing Sherman's life through city directories, but I'll use a timeline format and only highlight when something changes. I'll start with the earliest years I can find him in the city directories.

1899                616 S 8th, Peddler
1900                457 Jackson Street, Laborer
1901 - 1902     (Can't find him in Columbus City Directory)
1903 - 1904    Reeb Ave, Laborer
1905               241 Reeb Av, Ironworker
1906               Tinner
1907              Bartender
1908 - 1909    Can't find him in Columbus City Directory
1910 - 1911    US Census entry, Wager St, Laborer
1912 - 1913    1903 Wager St, Timber Worker
1914 - 1916    442 E Innis Av, Tinner
1917                Home 1511 Parsons Av Owns S L Brown & Son (a garage at 1885 Parsons Av
                        with his son Eugene)
1918 - 1919     Home 1888 Parsons Av Owns S L Brown & Son
1920               US Census entry, 1888 Parsons Av, proprietor of garage
1922 - 1924    Home 438 Reeb Ave, S L Brown & Son
1925               S L Brown & Son is now an auto accessory store and a billiards (two separate
1926 - 1927    S L Brown & Son (no billiards listed)
1928               Business is now Brown Automotive Services, Eugene working elsewhere
1929               Son Samuel is living with him again and working as an attendant
1930               US Census entry, salesman at a filling station (Can't find son Samuel in the directory,
                              suspected he moved to Missouri)
1931 - 1932    Business is still Brown Automotive Services
1933 - 1934    Ice Handler, no Brown Automotive Services listed
1935               Working as a mechanic, Home still 438 Reeb Ave
1937               No profession listed

Now look at the story. The one thing that stands out to me that I haven't included on the timeline is that Sherman's son Eugene worked with him for a few years before going his own way. Eugene remained a mechanic but he didn't work for his father after 1927. Samuel worked for Sherman for a few years but was drawn more to work as a salesman and a clerk rather than a mechanic. So, it can be conjured that Sherman worked in odd jobs to support his family until the opportunity to own his own auto garage came along in 1917. He named the business S L Brown (his name) and Son (probably Eugene as he was inclined to the mechanic profession) in hopes that they would work together throughout the remainder of his life and it would pass down to Eugene. Eugene quit working for his father around 1928. Knowing that Samuel was inclined to business and didn't want the garage, Sherman renames the business to Brown Automotive. And soon after, Samuel appears to have moved off to Missouri (which gives a narrowed year as to when this happened and supports family stories).

The venture must have declined as nearly 5 years later, the business is not attributed to Sherman and he is working as an ice deliverer/handler. He returns to the mechanic field in 1935 but is not working in 1937, the year he died.

I'm so thankful that someone clued me into city directories to enrich the stories of our ancestor's lives. I can't wait to share this information with my mother and aunts.

23 April 2012

Having fun learning about Gertrude Long Rang

Okay... it's 1910 and you are starting life over in a different part of the state. You're not with your husband and you have one child. The City Directory comes around and asks about your status (occupation, address, etc). As a woman in 1910, do you list yourself as a widow when you're divorced? Or do you just leave off the husband information? If you divorce, would you change your married name back to your maiden name? Or does your family have you confused and you kept your married name because you truly are a widow?

I found this information FASCINATING. My mother's great-aunt Gertrude Long married a man named Edward T. Rang in Huron County, Ohio in April 1895. The marriage records in that particular year only had persons state they were at least of a certain age but no other information was recorded (i.e. parents). Edward and Gertrude Rang had a child in May 1895.The birth certificate of Edward and Gertrude's daughter identifies them by name only.

By the 1900 US Census, Gertrude says she'd been married five years and had one child. The 1910 US Census says that she is divorced. The 1920 US Census lists her as widowed.

The Columbus City Directories lists Gertrude as Gertrude Rang (widow of Edward) or Mrs. Gertrude Rang throughout the decade of the 1910s. After that, she is simply Gertrude Rang.

So, was she divorced and claimed she was a widow in the public city directory? Was she truly a widow and a mistake was made in the census? It's fascinating. I guess I now need to go to Huron County, Ohio records to see if Aunt Gertrude Rang's husband died or they were divorced. Oh the joys of genealogy and digging into people's past. Wa-ha-ha!!!

Here's something very intersting. There are two Edward T Rangs in Huron County, Ohio at this time. One appears to be perhaps an elder to the younger one. One Edward T Rang could have been Gertrude's spouse and remarries in 1905. This record identifies this Edward's parents and mentions that this marriage is his second. Very, very fascinating....

22 April 2012

Surname Saturday - Henry Geiszler and Maggie Hoppie's Religious Records

I'll include religious documentation below, but I wanted to include some historical context as well for my history. I found this information on the book History of Franklin County (1858) found in Chapter 36 Churches of Columbus which has been lovingly placed on the internet by Leona Gustafson.

"In 1844, the German Methodist Church, at the northwest corner of Third street and South Public Lane, was erected, and the German part of the congregation generally met there."

The Pastor for the German Methodist, in 1857, was Rev. Paul Brodbeck and the total number of members was sixty.

Henry and Maggie Geiszler attended was is said to be called Zion German Methodist & Episcopal. And were married in 1882. In 1886, the name was changed to First German Methodist & Episcopal church.

Of all the Methodist Church photographs through the Columbus Metropolitan Library Index, I can not figure out which church was the Zion German or the First German church located on Third Street and South Public Lane. I can't find any other reference to the German Methodist Church through a elementary level Google search. So... I wish I could learn more about the church, congregation, pastor, etc. I don't know how/where I could learn more about this.

In any case, here are the zoomed in records from the church. I do have the full page as an image on my home computer. I need to figure out what the actual source would be for this image. My dear cousin sent me the image but no exact source information.  

Zion German Methodist Church, Marriage records
This is the marriage of Henry Geisler to Magdalen Hoppe in Juli 1882.

Zion German Methodist Church, Baptism records, 1883
This the baptism record for Henry and Maggie's first son, William. I can determine some of what this record says, but not all. I'd LOVE to get this transcribed.

Zion German Methodist Church, Baptism records, 1885

This the baptism record for Henry and Maggie's second son, George. I can determine some of what this record says, but not all. I'd LOVE to get this transcribed. This record was created by an entirely different recorder than the previous Baptism record. Perhaps they have a new pastor as well as that name is different.

In any case, here are three of the religious records for some of my great-grandparents. Now... how do I a) get these records transcribed and b) track down a source record? And, what should I do next along the religious lines?

20 April 2012

The Brick Wall named Samuel Curtis Brown

Samuel Curtis Brown was born 3 Aug 1821 in Baltimore, Maryland. He supposedly died on 14 Jan 1900 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. He married Martha Gordon (b 1827 - d 1901). The couple is said to have had 9 children: Mary Catherine, Eliza Jane, Wilden Edgar, Ida L, Elias S, Levi, Sherman Lewis, Hattie Elizabeth, and Effie A Brown. (Jennie, Ida, Sherman, Hattie, and Effie have this couple stated on their death or birth records.)

I can't prove who Samuel's parents are. I don't have any records of his birth. I only find him in the US Census records for 1860, 1870, and 1880. Numerous researchers are working on him, but few have provided more substantial proof of him and his parental relations. I have potential parents of James and Catherine. But it could easily be Samuel and Kate. Again, without any proof, I can't figure this man's life out prior to the 1860 US Census.

It is proposed that Samuel and Martha were married in 15 Oct 1846 in Hocking County, Ohio. does not have the original record (perhaps it's coming soon?). All it has is a date that was supplied through member research.

However, it seems odd that Martha appears living at her family home in Groveport, Ohio in 1850 US Census. I can not find a Samuel or a Curtis Brown in Hocking or Franklin, Ohio. I probably should cast a wider net, but without knowing more about his parents or siblings, I have no way of knowing it's him when I finally find 'him'. It's really odd that a couple that is supposed to be married with two children is not listed together in a census and the wife is living with her parents (with no children that could be hers in the household).

In 1860, Samuel and Martha (Gordon) Brown are living in Groveport, Franklin, Ohio. They have three children Mary Catherine (b. 1848), Eliza Jane (b 1850) and Wilden Edgar (b 1857). Again it seems odd that Samuel and Martha are not together in the 1850 US Census with at least Mary Catherine and potentially Eliza Jane. Unless Samuel is married to someone else at this time....

A little about the city they lived in at this time period. Groveport, Ohio is close to the Ohio and Erie Canal in the southeast corner of Franklin County, Ohio. The opening of the Ohio Canal in 1831 was a boon to the settlements along its winding course. It was established in 1847 with 250 families who came primarily for land. The majority of people who came to Groveport were from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland and other states to the South and East.

In 1868 came the railroad. Samuel and Martha could still be in Groveport at this time or moved over to Hamilton. The first train passed through Groveport on July 16, 1868, and was the occasion for quite a celebration.

By 1870, Samuel and Martha are now living in Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio. Hamilton is about two miles west of Groveport, still in the southern part of Franklin County. Samuel is a farm laborer in Hamilton, (with a post office of Lockbourne, not sure if this has value).

Hamilton townships in Franklin County, Ohio was founded in 1807 in the "Congress lands". It is bounded on the north by Marion township, on the south by Pickaway county, and on the east by the Scioto river.

They are neighbors to Ferdinand Brown, who is 57 and deaf. He has in his home a 61 year old Mary (perhaps hearing) and a 57 year-old Moses who is deaf. They seem to be siblings rather than any marital relation. Perhaps Ferdinand and Samuel are related? Ferdinand, Mary and Moses were born in Maryland. Samuel was born in Maryland. Samuel is 48. However, looking through the family tree this is all I can establish... Samuel's wife Martha has an aunt named Mary Ann Brown. Her husband is William Brown. William's siblings are Ferdinand, Mary, and Moses. One family tree has William, Ferdiand, Mary, Moses, and Samuel as siblings but there is no documentation of this effect. Could it be true? Could these relationships open up the wall to Samuel's parents and grand parents?

 In 1880, Samuel and Martha are living in Jefferson, Madison, Ohio. Samuel is a farmer. Madison county is the bordering county to Franklin. Jefferson is in the northeast corner of the county. In essence, they family hasn't really moved to far from where they originally started in 1850.

Jefferson, later known as West Jefferson, was on the National Road which went through Ohio. The National road brought many travels by horse and buggy or stage coach through the town. Thus, it attracted many settlers from the 1840s onward. However, when the railroad, with it's speedier trains, Jefferson received less travelers. By the late nineteenth century, many Jefferson residents began to move elsewhere, especially to Ohio's industrial cities. In 1880, Jefferson claimed a population of 720 people, approximately the same number of residents that the village boasted in 1834.

My guess is the family didn't stay in this dying town too long.

Unfortunately, there is no 1890 US Census, so who knows where this mobile family was in that year. And, Samuel dies in 1900 presumably in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. Unfortunately, the death needs to be researched further as only a person's recollection is the proof for this statement. And Martha died the following year.

So, how on earth do I sort this story out? How on earth do I figure out where Samuel is from and if the Maryland Browns who were his neighbors in 1870 were any sort of relation other than cousins a few times removed? Samuel, you're a brick wall and you're driving me crazy.

19 April 2012

The Lessson from Family History That I didn't Expect

Unexpected Lessons of Family History

Family History, when preserved, has the power to save families. That's the one lesson that family history has taught me that I didn't expect.

Since I began sharing and teaching family history publicly, my kids have watched me. They'll snuggle on the couch as I sit cross-legged with my laptop atop searching for a new clue for a new-to-me relative. My teenage children find different parts of family history that excite them. My pre-teen keeps hoping I'll find new photos to add to Family Search. And my third and fifth children love telling me their stories and grabbing the camera to document their creations.

Robert Zumstein WWI and WII Bible
Robert Victor Zumstein and Robert Comfort Zumstein Bible that went to the former in WWI and the later in WWII

My efforts to preserve our daily memories and the lives of relatives my kids have never met brings us closer together. They love to hear about Grandpa Bob's cheesecake recipe he thought he took to the grave. They love to hear about Great-Grandpa Lee and how he flew a dangerous mission to China to deliver poorly maintained planes during World War II. And they know how I believe I'll meet my deceased Papa Lew and the first question I'll ask is, "Will you Dance With me?"

But my preservation efforts help me remember the times I treasure so much. When my eldest daughter told me, "the work goes faster with two," and a son said, "If Cinco doesn't get to have his treats and you'll eat it. Can I have half?" Or the time when youngest one said, "I didn't drown" or "The pool water feels like pee."

I love that family history has taught me the way to save and strengthen my family is to capture and preserve our stories so we'll always know.

Additional Reading:
The Worst Day of My Life, The Lessons For My Posterity
5 Things I Learned While Writing Their Story
15 Things I Learned About Myself While Scanning