Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday ~ Your Picture in an Automobile

Dick Eastman just shared a blog post Your Picture in an Automobile (do go read this for another way to look at your photos from the first decade of the last century) and it made me think of the following picture that I have had in my collection for years.

The back of this photo post card has 1907 in handwriting that is either my grandmother's or my great-grandmother's. The rest is in my mother's handwriting:
3d seat
Marion Lysle Hunter
Eliza Lysle
(Aunt Lyde)

Marion Lysle Hunter was the oldest of the five Hunter sisters, of which my grandmother was the youngest. (See a photo of the five sisters here.) Marion died in 1913.

I don't know anyone else in the photo.

Eliza Lysle (1845-1928), known as Aunt Lyde, was an unmarried great aunt of Marion's. They lived in Pittsburgh, so perhaps they had gone on a trip to Denver and posed for a photo in a new-fangled automobile, as was described in Dick Eastman's post.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Civil War Pension Application ~ William Wallace Bruce

I was recently exploring Civil War Pension applications at and found 29 pages for the husband of a second great grand aunt of mine. Although he is not a direct ancestor, this pension file had information that answered some long-time questions that I have had about him.

Some background: my third great-grandfather, Thomas Cutler Whitman, was born in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, to parents who were Loyalists who fled to Nova Scotia after the Revolution. It looks like he was father of nine children, some of whom came to New York, some who came to New York and returned to Nova Scotia, and possibly some who remained in Nova Scotia. It is a challenge to keep track of this family.

His oldest daughter was Esther Abigail Whitman, who married James Pyle.

The second (I believe) daughter is found in records as Maria Whitman, Maria E. Whitman, Maria Bruce, and Ella M. Bruce, though in only one census record do I find her with her likely husband, William Bruce (born about 1831), and that is in the 1860 U.S. Census, which you can see here.

In the 1900 U.S. Census (the image is here), which was taken in June 1900, I find Ella M. Bruce, of the right age, in the same household as Esther Pyle, sister, (and Harriet Bliss, sister). All three of these women were born Whitman. Esther Pyle's husband had just died five months previously.

"Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans (Navy Survivors' Certificates), 1861-1910.", digital image, The National Archives (, Fiche Number: 20510; Certificate Number: 21256. Record for William W. Bruce, page 07: Pension application questions.
William W. Bruce started his pension application in November 1891 and received pension payments from 1892 until his death in 1895.

The following is a partial transcription of one very useful page of the application:

Handwritten entries are in blue; my comments are [bracketed].

                           Invalid [Person who is sick or disabled]
                      Department of the Interior
                           Bureau of Pensions
Wm. W. Bruce
U.S. Navy, Washington, D.C., Jan. 3, 1892

Please return this circular at your earliest convenience, with answers to the following questions:
1. Are you a married man, and if so, what is your wife's full name, and what was her maiden name? Ans. No, Am a Widower. Wife died in March 1886. [Since I know Ella / Maria was still living in 1900, I originally wondered if I had the right man.]
2. When and where were you married? Ans. Jersey City, N.J. on Agust 16th 1880.
3. What record of marriage exists? Ans. Recorded in Jersey City N.J.
4. If you had been previously married state the name of your former wife and the date of her death or divorce. Ans. Married on December 25th, 1855 in Guysborough, Nova Scotia, to Maria E. Whitman at the age of 17 years. Divorced in New York City in 1876. [YES - this is the kind of information I was looking for!]
5. If you have any children living state their names and ages. Ans. Three living. James P. Bruce in Prescott, Arizona; Age 31 years, Wm. W. Bruce aged 25 years. Ansia E. Bruce Aged 28 years (New York State)  [Again, YES - I only knew of James.]
This information is desired for use in the pension claim above referred to.
Very respectfully, Green B. Rauin, Commissioner.
Wm. W. Bruce
475 Canal St.
N.Y. City

This pension file also gave me William's date of death: June 24, 1895, since the government had to know when to stop paying his pension. With that date, I was able to find his name in a Connecticut death index.

I also found out about his service in the U.S. Navy between August 1864-July 1865, as a Landsman, the lowest rank in the U.S. Navy at this time. It appears that he injured his back during his naval service and in several places he indicates that he is unable to work due to: "Heart disease, bronchitis, injury to back, defective eyesight, general debility."

Not only can I add some names and dates to my tree, but I get a sense of William's life, AND that of his first wife, my second great grand aunt. I have never been able to find her family in the U.S. Census in 1870 or 1880 and I wonder if she returned to Nova Scotia for a couple of decades before returning to New York to be with her widowed sisters.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Amanuensis Monday ~ Marriage License for David H. McAlpin's Second Marriage

My second great grandfather, David Hunter McAlpin, married three times: to Frances Adelaide Rose, mother of his ten children, who died in 1870, widow Adelia Demster (Gardiner) Chamberlin, and widow (and sister of his first wife), Cordelia Maria (Rose) Shackelton.

I recently obtained the marriage license for his second marriage to Adelia.

New York, New York, Manhattan Marriages, FHL Microfilm 1561969, Certificate No. 4474.
D. H. McAlpin and A. D. Chamberlin, July 16, 1873.
Handwritten entries are in blue; my comments are [in brackets].

I hereby certify that Mr. D. H. McAlpin and Mrs. A.D. Chamberlin were joined in marriage by me in accordance with the Laws of the State of New York, in the City of New York this 16th day of July 1873.
Attest, Elisha G. Cobb
Official Station, Minister
Residence, Florence, Mass.
Witnesses to the Marriage:
  Richard McNamee
  Mrs. Emeline Gardiner [the bride's mother]

Other side of the certificate

To the Bureau of Records of Vital Statistics
Health Department of the City of New York.
Return of a Marriage.
1. Full Name of Husband, David Hunter McAlpin
2. Place of Residence, Morris Plains, N.J. [he also owned a home in Manhattan, New York.]
3. Age next Birthday, 59 years [Not quite correct - should be 57.]
4. White
5. Occupation, Tobaconist [sic]
6. Place of Birth, NS [He was born in Pleasant Valley, Dutchess County, N. Y.]
7. Father's Name, ________ [Should read James McAlpin.]
8. Mother's Maiden Name, ________ [Should read Jane Hunter, who was still living.]
9. No. of Husband's Marriage, second
10. Full Name of Wife, Adelia Dempster Chamberlin
      Maiden Name, if a Widow, Gardiner
11. Place of Residence, New York 133 E 54th
12. Age next Birthday, 33 years [Actually she turned 33 in January 1873.]
13. White
14. Place of Birth, Pokeepsie, N.Y. [Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, N.Y.]
15. Father's Name, James D. Gardiner
16. Mother's Maiden Name, Emiline Graham [or Emeline]
17. No. of Wife's Marriage, second
N.B. - At Nos. 4 and 13 state if colored; if other races, specify what, At Nos. 9 and 17 state whether 1st, 2d, 3d, &c. Marriage of each.
New York     187_
We the Husband and Wife named in the above Certificate, hereby Certify that the information given is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief.
____________ (Husband)
____________ (Wife)
Signed in presence of ____________
                             and ____________

Monday, September 1, 2014

Matrilineal Monday ~ Jane Hunter McAlpin

After seeing my last blog post about a branch of the Hunter family on my mother's side, a reader of this blog asked about where the name Hunter came from on my father's side.

Hunter is the maiden name of my third great grandmother, Jane Hunter, who married James McAlpin.

Jane Hunter was briefly mentioned in a post about my McAlpin line. According to Pyle, Smith and Allied Family Histories (Privately published, 1951) which I have mentioned before, she was born on May 11, 1786, in Muckamore, Antrim, Ireland. She married James McAlpin on July 14, 1809, at Antrim, Ireland, and had one or two children before immigrating to New York, on the Jupiter, in 1811. The family soon settled in Dutchess County, New York, up the Hudson River from New York City.

I believe Jane Hunter and James McAlpin were Scotch-Irish.

Most of this information is from secondary sources (though I have seen enough references to the immigration on the Jupiter that I'm pretty sure that's accurate) so please don't go believing all this is fact - it's simply a place to start if anyone wants to do some research in Antrim County, Ireland, which is where research would need to be done to find her parents' names.

Jane's children were baptized at the Presbyterian Church in Pleasant Valley, Dutchess County, New York. In June, the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society made a book available in which I could confirm the McAlpin children's baptisms.

Arthur C. M. Kelly, Vital Records of Presbyterian Church Pleasant Valley, Dutchess County, NY 1793-1947
(Rhinebeck, NY: Kinship, 2007). Page 131 (image 135) from the index.

After her husband died in the cholera epidemic of 1849, and was buried in what is now Beacon, Dutchess County, New York, Jane is found in Brooklyn in the U.S. Federal Censuses in 1850, 1860, and 1870, with different combinations of children and grandchildren.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pennsylvania Death Certificates and FindAGrave

I  have not blogged very much this month, and one of the (many) reasons is because I have been exploring the Pennsylvania Death Certificates (and census records) on and finding memorials for these Pennsylvania relatives on As I find or set up the memorials, I link them so if you go to one of the memorials, you can click through to parents, siblings, and children.

The hyperlinks for Samuel and Catherine below bring you to their FindAGrave memorials.

My third great grandfather, Samuel K. Hunter (d. 1863), and his wife, Catherine Carr (d. 1891), had nine children. Using the death certificates and exploring FindAGrave, I was able to fill in a few blanks about their children and grandchildren.

1) Mary J. Hunter was born about 1841 and died as Mary J. Babcox in 1870. I don't know who she married, but she had two daughters, Kate (1864-1868) and Elva (1866-????). Mother Mary and daughter Kate are buried in the Hunter family plot at Union Dale Cemetery.

James Hunter
2) James Hunter (1844-1902) is my second great grandfather, whom I have written about before. He married Mary Freeland and had ten children. He, his wife and some of their children have their own plot at Union Dale Cemetery.

3) John Kirk Hunter (1845-1921) died in Saegertown, Crawford County, Pennsylvania. He married Emma Bailey (1848-1926) and had three children. He was a firefighter and fire chief in Allegheny City. He, his wife, and his son are buried in Saegertown Cemetery.

4) Ann (or Anna) E. Hunter (1848-1878) is buried in the Hunter family plot at Union Dale Cemetery.

5) Susan E. Hunter (1850-1922) married William White and had two children. She is buried in Allegheny Cemetery, but not with her husband.

6) Isabella Hunter (1853-1918) married Albert S. Glenn (1852-1934). They had one daughter, Edith. All three are buried together at Union Dale Cemetery.

7) Emma Maria Hunter (1854-1871) died young and is buried in the Hunter family plot at Union Dale Cemetery.

8) Robert William Hunter (1856-1876) is also buried in the Union Dale Cemetery Hunter family plot.

9) Lillie D. Hunter (1858-1933), the last of these siblings to die, died just before her 75th birthday. She married James Wallace Thompson (1848-1924). They are buried together in Homewood Cemetery, along with their two sons.

And this is just one branch of my Allegheny, Pennsylvania, ancestors from my maternal grandmother's side.