Friday, November 29, 2013

Early 20th Century Hunter Sisters Stories

At Thanksgiving I was able to discuss the photograph of the four Hunter sisters with my mother and she corrected the previous thinking about who was in the photograph AND the date of the photograph AND the location of the photograph. I was able to show her the image on my iPhone and zoom into the picture to see each face closely. Looking at a closeup of the oldest girl at the left, she assured me that this was Caroline. She also told me that the photograph was taken about 1914 in California.

I also realized that I should have recognized my grandmother. Looking closely at the photo of the five sisters that I shared in July 2011 (also below) one can compare photos and tell which sister is which in the later photo.

Mary (8), (in back) Helen (4), (in front) Margaret (6), Marion (12), Caroline (11)
(ages estimated based on dating photo to late 1911)

The photograph also prompted a couple of stories about her mother and her older sisters.

Marion, the oldest of the five Hunter sisters, died in late 1913 of pneumonia. It was the fourth time she had suffered from it.

After Marion died, Marguerite (her mother) was absolutely devastated. Percy (her father) decided the only way to help her cope was to divert her, so he took a job opportunity in Oakland, California, and the family moved and lived in California for a couple of years. My grandmother, Helen was not quite 7 years old when her sister died. She admired a girl down the street (a couple of years older) while living in California and named her oldest daughter after this girl.

This photo was taken soon after the Hunters moved there.

June 12, 2015 Update: Additional information from my aunt has changed the timeline of this story and these pictures. See Early 20th Century Hunter Sisters - Update for the updated information.

Caroline (13-14), Margaret (9), Helen (7), Mary (10-11)
(ages estimated based on dating photo to early 1914)

You will notice in this picture that Caroline, Margaret and Mary hold dolls. My grandmother, Helen, when she received a doll as a gift, would announce that the dolly was sick and that she had to be put to bed, so her doll was not in this picture because she was recovering from some illness. I wonder if this was how Helen remembered Marion, ill in bed.

The death of the girls' oldest sister had an effect on all of them for decades. A story shared by my second cousin, a granddaughter of Caroline, above, follows:
I do remember my Grandma Caroline never being able to view a dead person. According to the practice of the day, she was forced to look at her sister Marion and kiss her goodbye when Grandma was 12 and could only remember Marion in her casket after that. She could not view her Father at his death [Percy died in 1937], but had dreams about him for years afterward. She would step off the elevator at the top floor of the Horne's store (I think, but it may have been Gimble's) and see him walking down the hallway toward the restaurant that was on that floor. She would run after him calling his name, getting a bit closer with each dream, but never catching up to him. Until one night when she got very close and great grandfather turned around and said, "Caroline, you have got to stop following me." She never had the dream again.
And another story from my mother:
Grandmother [Marguerite] could not talk about Marion for years after her death. Twenty-two years later, when my mother was born, Percy and Marguerite came to the hospital to see their youngest daughter's first child. Percy picked her up and touched her skin and said to Marguerite, “Her skin is so soft, it feels like yours and like Marion’s” and after that, they could speak of her. They hadn’t spoken of her AT ALL before that.
Thank you to my mother and to my second cousin for sharing your stories!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday ~ Hunter Sisters Circa 1909

As I noted in last week's Wordless Wednesday post, I have been in touch with a second cousin of mine, who has shared a few photographs (as well as some great stories) with me. Our grandmothers were sisters. Her grandmother was the second and mine the youngest of five daughters of Percy Earle Hunter and Marguerite Lysle. Here is a photo of four of the sisters.

November 28, 2013 Update: Information provided to me by my second cousin was that this was taken in 1909. However, after consulting with my mother, I can confirm that this photograph was taken in 1914, after the death of the oldest sister, Marion, and I have corrected the identification of the sisters in the caption below. See Hunter Sister Stories for more information.

Caroline (1900-1974), Margaret (1905-1994), Helen (1907-1990), Mary (1903-1971)
For all my cousins on this side: take a close look and enjoy the family resemblances to those of us a generation or two or three from this family.

I shared a 1911 photo of the five sisters here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ Percy Earle Hunter (1873-1937)

Blogging does work! A second cousin of mine, on my mother's mother's side found my blog because she was looking online for photographs of our common great-grandfather, Percy Earle Hunter. Although I have written about him (see Percy Hunter: Engineer), I realize that I haven't posted many photos of him so here you go!

Percy E. Hunter was born October 18, 1873. I am estimating that this photo was taken around 1877, when he was about 3 or 4.


Here he is as an older boy, perhaps 1884 or so, when he would have been 11?


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Thomas Whitman

I had known the death date of Diana (Morgan) Whitman (April 25, 1861) for a while, but couldn't find any more information about her husband, my 3rd great-grandfather, Thomas Cutler Whitman (born April 2, 1803, in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia). Had he returned to Nova Scotia? Was he still living in Jamaica, Queens, New York, where his family was living in the 1860 U.S. Census, as I noted in Surname Saturday ~ Whitman? I haven't had luck finding him in the 1870 U.S. Census.

Earlier this year, I was exploring Find A Grave and found that someone had set up memorials for several Whitmans in Elmont Cemetery in Elmont, Nassau County, New York. I requested a photograph of the stones (as well as requesting management of the memorials) and got a photograph of the tombstone showing a death date of July 22, 1870.

Find A Grave Memorial# 54811937
Photo credit Find A Grave user arondo.
I then found his death notice on

New York Herald, July 23, 1870
WHITMAN.- On Friday, July 22, THOMAS C. WHITMAN, aged 68 years.
The funeral services will take place from Berean Baptist Church, corner Bedford & Downing streets, on Sunday morning, at nine o'clock.
Nova Scotia papers will please copy.
I love to see that last phrase because it tells me that the family wanted the news to be shared in Nova Scotia newspapers because Thomas C. Whitman would have been remembered by friends and family there.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday's Obituary ~ Diana Whitman 1861

I mentioned the death of my 3rd great-grandmother in yesterday's Surname Saturday~Whitman post. Several years ago, I found the following death notice in's New York, Death Newspaper Extracts, 1801-1890 (Barber Collection):

New York Evening Post, April 26, 1861

This was helpful, because at that time, I didn't know if her daughter Esther Abigail Whitman's family was still in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia or not. This meant that the Whitmans also moved to New York City from Nova Scotia, possibly following their daughter and future son-in-law, James Pyle.

More recently, I found the following New York Times death notice:

The New York Times, April 26, 1861
WHITMAN. - In this City [New York], on Thursday, April 25, after a lingering illness, DIANA wife of Thomas C. Whitman, Sr. in the [57]th year of her age.
Funeral services will be held at the residence of James Pyle, No. 67 North Moore St., this Friday morning at 8 1/2 o'clock. Friends of the family are invited to attend, without further notice.

This does tell me that her funeral was held at the home of her son-in-law. (Her daughter was about 6 months pregnant with her fifth child.) However, I wish this death notice had more information about her ancestry.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ Whitman of Unknown and Nova Scotia

The earliest Whitman I have in my family tree is Christopher Whitman and I have a death date for him of 1778. I have a name of Barbara for his wife, but nothing more. This information is from a secondary source and is therefore very questionable.

I descend from their son George.

Generation 2:
George Whitman was born in the late 1750's or early 1760's. The Pyle book [1] and Loyalist Lineages of Canada [3] indicate a birth place of Pennsylvania, but I have not found primary source information confirming the date or location. He was a Loyalist during the Revolution and ended up in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia. He married Esther Atwater on March 13, 1788, in Guysborough. She was born in 1771 in New Haven County, Connecticut, to Loyalist parents who also fled to Nova Scotia after the Revolution.

Guysborough, Nova Scotia
As I have noted before, the book Guysborough Sketches and Essays, by A.C. Jost (originally published in 1950, revised edition published in 2009) is an invaluable resource for those researching families in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia. This book includes lists of Loyalists who arrived from different parts of the newly-formed United States to settle in Guysborough and what lots of land they received. I found my Pyle Loyalist ancestor (Stephen) was listed under "The Associated Departments of the Army and Navy," among the last to leave New York.

I find George Whitman's name in the list entitled "The Duke of Cumberland's Regiment (Montague Corps.)," which appears to be a list of men who arrived at Guysborough with Lord Charles Greville Montague, the last English Governor of South Carolina, and two ship loads of men arrived from Jamaica. I need to do quite a bit more research on this.

George Whitman died on July 16, 1849, well after his wife, who died on February 11, 1814. They are buried in Christ Church Cemetery in Guysborough, Nova Scotia, according to Christ Church Burials: Guysborough, 1787-1880, an online index of burial records by Patricia Lumsden.

They had twelve children, born between 1789 and 1813. I am descended from their seventh child, Thomas Cutler Whitman.