Friday, October 8, 2010

In the News... Built in a Day

 According to this article from the June 11, 1913 edition of the Nevada State Journal (Reno, NV), a 250-mile stretch of the future US-23, between Bay City and Mackinaw City, was built in ONE day by the hardworking citizens of Northeastern Michigan.

Alpena, Mich., June 10. --

Eight thousand business and professional men and farmers in Northeastern Michigan made road laborers of themselves and constructed more than 250 miles of roadway between Bay City and Mackinaw City.  Where there had been at sunrise mile after mile of corduroy road, sand holes and swamps [by] night fall found an almost unbroken stretch of leveled highway.  The new roadway forms a part of the state highway from Detroit to Mackinaw City.  The stretch built yesterday passes through 48 townships.  Four thousand teams and 750 automobiles participated in the great bee.  The women of the country also did their share of the work, 500 of them being engaged in the task of feeding the workers along the route.

From the modern perspective, it's pretty mind-blowing to think about - every man between Bay City and Mackinaw City voluntarily sacrificing an entire day to accomplish such a big task.  Can you imagine what we could accomplish today if we were all willing to donate our time and work together for just one day?  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The First World Boy Scouts Jamboree - 1920

While spending hours searching through passport records, I noted that several of them were for a few preteen boys, and a scoutmaster, who were attending a Boy Scouts Jamboree in England in 1920.  I figured this jamboree must have been a big deal with 8 boys and 2 scout leaders attending (according to a letter attached to one application, though I can only find evidence of 1 scout master and  5 boys.) So, with my mind gone off on a tangent, as it usually does, I decided to see if there was any information on the gathering.

As it turns out, the boys were participating in the very first ever "World Boy Scouts Jamboree," which was held at Kensington Olympia in London.  8,000 scouts from 34 countries were in attendance, and the event took place from July 30, 1920 through August 8, 1920. 

I was able to find passenger records indicating that the boys traveled to England on the Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic of the White Star Line.  The Olympic had, just that year, returned to civilian service after serving as a military transport during WWI, and held the title of being the only merchant ship to attack and destroy an enemy submarine when it shot missiles at, rammed, and sunk a German U-boat in 1918.

The Olympic in her "dazzle camoflauge" during wartime service

Traveling aboard the Olympic with Scoutmaster James Bennett, 31, were: 

Ray Curtiss, 13, of 248 Washington Ave
Frank Scanlon, 14, of 136 State St
Howard Broad, 15, of 712 4th St
Archie Goodburne, 15, address Lockbox 123
Eldred Hall, 17, of 411 Tawas? St

(For photos of the fine young lads, please see "Passport Photos from the Past" a few posts down)

The ship arrived in the port of Southhampton, England on July 15, 1920.  From there, they would have spent two weeks sightseeing until the jamboree began two weeks later.

The jamboree was held at the Kensington Olympia, in a glass-domed arena that had been filled with a foot of dirt and turfed over to allow the boys to pitch tents and camp.  Another camping spot along the Thames River, where a few thousand of the boys were stationed, was flooded and evacuated in the middle of the night.  The two-week event was filled with activities, flag salutes, and speeches from world scout leaders.

 For excerpts from the 1920 Jamboree book, including the day-by-day itinerary, click here

After the jamboree, the boys toured France and Belgium before returning to America aboard the Haverford, which sailed from Liverpool on August 15 and arrived in Philadelphia on August 26.  The Haverford, another White Star Line vessel, had also served as a military transport during WWI and was attacked by German U-boats twice before being purchased by White Star in 1920.

It is really neat to see how a few young scouts from Alpena were able to participate in such a huge world event - I'm sure it was quite the ordeal and source of pride for the town back in 1920.


Treasure Box Thursday!

Hello Folks, it's that time of the week again!  I'm always amazed that each week, there are indeed new items online waiting for me to share with you!  Hope you like this batch of fun area antiques for your treasure box!

Alpena Hatpins

Hatpins were popular during the Victorian times, to add a personal touch to the giant feathery hats of the day.  These two happen to be from Alpena!

More Hatpins

 Mich-E-Kewis Beach Postcard

Imagine a time when one could pull their automobile right up to the water and park on the sand!  Looks like a good time was had by all.

"Typical Lumber Scene" Postcard

I can't lie - I look at this very impressive sleigh load of 4113 logs and several men, and all I can do is feel bad for the TWO horses pulling the whole darn thing!

D. Des Jardins & Son Advertising Souvenir Plate

Advertising plates were quite common in the first half of the century - this one likely dates to pre-1920.

That's all for this time!  Check back again soon for some new finds.

Passports Photos from the Past! (Installment Two)

George J. Hassett
Born April 18, 1872 in Dublin, Ireland
Passport Issued February 4, 1918
Traveling to France for U.S. Government Work

Harry Gunvald Helgeson
Born June 8, 1893 in Alpena
Father: Ole Helgeson
Passport Issued July 6, 1918
Traveling aboard the S.S. Rockingham to work as a wireless radio operator

Charles R. Henry
Born December 29, 1856 in Macon Twp, Michigan
Father: John Henry, born in New York
Passport Issued Feb 3, 1921
Attorney-at-Law traveling to Cuba on vacation

Lorentz C. Johnson
Born August 8, 1855 in Florsten, Norway
Father: John Johnson, born in Sweden
Passport Issued August 7, 1922
Traveling to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark to visit relatives

Florian J. Konjora
Born December 29, 1900 in Alpena
Father: Joseph Konjora, born in Poland
Passport Issued March 3, 1920
Traveling to England to Visit Brother in Army Hospital in Liverpool (brother Anthony B Konjora, born 1892, who was wounded Feb 3, 1919 and eventually died in 1927 at age 35)

Arthur G. Marlow
Born on July 4, 1862 in Little Harrowden, England
Father: Thomas Marlow
Occupation: Depot Officer
Passport Issued July 25, 1921
Traveling to England for a family reunion

Dr. William Kerr McCandless
Born on December 15, 1889 in Canton, China
Father: Dr. Henry Martin McCandless
Passport Issued March 24, 1925
Traveling first to England to attend the London School of Tropical Medicine, then on to China for missionary medical work

Rosario Miceli
Born December 20, 1870 in Cepatri, Italy
Father: Salvatore Miceli
Occupation: Merchant
Passport Issued December 23, 1924
Visiting Italy and France to Visit Relatives

Austin Leonard and Elizabeth Mulvena Rogers
Austin: Born October 29, 1855 in New York
Elizabeth: Born September 6, 1874 in Alpena
Austin's Occupation: Seedman
Passport Issued August 31, 1922
Traveling to England, Scotland, France, and Holland on Commercial Business

Frank A. Scanlan
Born December 11, 1905 in Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Father: R.R. Scanlan, also born in Sault Ste. Marie
Passport Issued March 20, 1920
Traveling to British Isles, France, and Belgium to attend the Boy Scouts Jamboree

Miss Marie Taber
Born November 3, 1897 in Alpena
Father: William B. Taber, born in Griffins Mills, NY
Passport Issued December 9, 1921
Traveling to Greece, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, and Great Britain to study abroad

Edgar Charles and Louise Julia Thompson
Born June 10, 1876 in Birmingham, England
Father: George Thompson
Occupation: School Teacher
Passport Issued June 23, 1919
Traveling to England to Visit Sick Relative
**Also has two more passports with photos from 1920 and 1922, contact me if interested**

 Joseph Toth and Son
Born June 8, 1886 in Nemeth Lad, Hungary
Father: Joseph Toth, born in Hungary and living in Slavonia
Occupation: Dynamite Blaster
Passport Issued August 31, 1920
Traveling to Hungary/Slavonia to visit parents
**Joseph's wife Elizabeth died a year earlier of tuberculosis/influenza, and they also lost a newborn daughter, Etta, in 1915. It was likely that Joseph and his son were all that was left of the family**

Benjamin Waller
Born October 24, 1866 in Saginaw
Occupation: Telephone Engineer
Passport Issued February 1, 1916
Traveling to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti to engineer telephone network

 Ella M. White
Born April 29, 1874 in Alpena
Father: Thomas White, born in St. Lawrence Co, NY
Occupation: Bookkeeper
Passport Issued May 20, 1920
Traveling to England, France, and Italy to study and travel

Bliss and Harriet (Card) Stebbins
Bliss: Born April 21, 1865 in Vermont
Father: C.B. Stebbins, born in Vermont
Occupation: Farmer (in Presque Isle, previously made his fortunes as a hatmaker in Lansing)
Passport Issued October 4, 1920
Traveling to France, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, and England to ship home goods they had stored

Father Casimir T. Skowronski
Born Feb 19, 1886 in Janowiec, Poland
Father: Michael Skowronski
Passport Issued June 22, 1922
Traveling to England, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Passport Photos from the Past! (Installment One) has recently added a collection of U.S. Passports from the late 1800s through about 1925.  Many of these passports include photos, so I decided to comb through and share the passport photos I could find of Alpena and Presque Isle County residents.    A few well-known figures are included, including Ella M. White of Alpena, wealthy Lansing milliner and first resident of PI Township, Bliss Stebbins, and Catholic priest of Posen, Father Casimir T. Skowronski.

These photos are actually really endearing - you can see half-hidden excitement in many of the faces.It wasn't just every day that one had their photo taken, or traveled overseas!  Traveling overseas was usually reserved only for the very wealthy, so not many folks from the area got the opportunity in those days.

If you ever pose for a passport photo, remember - maybe some day your great grandchildren will be looking at it too! Hope you enjoy!

James Alton Bennett
Born Feb 3, 1889 - Passport Issued Mar 29, 1920
Traveling to attend Boy Scouts conference as Asst. Scout Master and to sightsee in British Isles, France, and Belgium

Anna Elizabeth Bleau (and two small children Gladys Rosetta and Albert Marshall Bleau)
Born Nov 23, 1895 - Passport Issued May 29, 1923
Wife of Joseph Israel Bleau
Traveling to England to reside with her father as his housekeeper

 Frederick Heinrich Bluck
Born June 30, 1882 in Bochpol, Germany
Passport Issued Nov 27, 1922
Traveling to visit friends and relatives in Poland and Germany

 Howard W. Spratt Broad
Born March 4, 1908
Son of Leslie W. Broad
Passport Issued March 6, 1920
Traveling to attend Boy Scout Jamboree and sightsee in Great Britain, France, and Belgium

Mary Ann Carson
Born March 7, 1852
Widow of William Henry Carson
Passport Issued May 28, 1923
Traveling to visit friends in England and Ireland

Wilkie Nelson Collins
Born March 10, 1879
Teacher at Idaho University
Passport Issued on Jul 26, 1915
Traveling to England for business

Marie B. Comstock
Born April 12, 1879, daughter of William B. Comstock (former Governor of Michigan)
Passport issued Jan 19, 1925
Traveling to Italy, France, British Isles, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Egypt, Morocco, Holland on Travel

John Dehring
Born Jan 30, 1854 in Barlozno, Germany/Poland
Father: Michael Dehring
Passport Issued Mar 8, 1922
Visiting Family in Germany and Poland

Nelson W. Eddy
Born December 26, 1894
Father: Nelson M. Eddy
Passport Issued May 9, 1921
Occupation: Instructor
Traveling to France, Spain, and the British Isles as a tourist

 Walter Joseph and Helen Gabrysiak
Walter: Born May 17, 1885
Helen: Born Feb 27, 1889
Passport Issued: Feb 24, 1922
Relocating to Kalyshan, Poland (once Germany)
Letter accompanying the passport (click for full size):

Mrs. Ovidia (Larson) Gjorud
Born September 1, 1865 in Christiana, Norway
Father: Ole Larson
Passport Issued May 11, 1922
Traveling to visit relatives in Norway

Archie J. Goodburne
Born on December 16, 1904
Passport Issued March 11, 1920
Traveling to British Isles, France, and Belgium to attend Boy Scout Jamboree

Henry Killmaster Gustin
Born on May 12, 1868
Passport Issued December 14, 1920
Occupation: Attorney at Law
Passport to be delivered to the Honorable F.B. Scott, United States House of Representatives (perhaps they were traveling together?)
Traveling from Nogales, AZ on the Southern Pacific Railway to Mexico for pleasure

Hans Haakensen (Hakens?)
Born on September 12, 1864 in Leer, Norway
Father: Haaken Haakensen
Passport Issued May 14, 1923
Traveling to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark to visit family

Eldred Orland Hall
Born September 18, 1902
Father: William C. Hall
Passport Issued May 1, 1920
Traveling to British Isles, France, and Belgium to attend the Boy Scout Jamboree

Friday, October 1, 2010

Maps, Maps, Maps!

Part of the fun of history and genealogy, for me anyway, is imagining what life was like for my ancestors and those around them.  The census records, death certificates, and other written evidence of our ancestor's lives are great - but I like to have something a little more tangible.  So I've gotten into the habit of creating custom Google Maps (marking locations of people and places on a real satellite image) to see the big picture of the world our ancestors lived in.  Who were their neighbors? What did their land look like? Where did they attend church and school?

I've already posted a map of the Metz Fire of 1908, which can be found a few posts down.

Another project that is very near completion and has been quite an undertaking, is the schools, churches, cemeteries, post offices, stores, and more of Presque Isle County as found on the 1903 Plat Map.

View Presque Isle County in 1903 in a larger map

The ladies from the Presque Isle GenWeb website, who have contributed so much to the project, went around taking photos of many of the sites on the map so I could add them. A photo will pop up for many of the schools, churches, and cemeteries you click on. A huge thank you goes out to BJ and Janet who helped with this!

Another project I'm just starting which is sure to be a long time coming is actually platting out all of Presque Isle and Alpena Counties - recreating the property lines of 1903 and placing markers on the exact location of the homes. So far, only Sections 1 - 12 of Belknap Township, Presque Isle are complete. Please check back periodically for new additions. On the sidebar to the left, residents are arranged by section, and if you click on a name it will take you to their home on the map. The map works best at about 2/3 of the way zoomed in.

View 1903 Belknap Twp Homesteads in a larger map

If you want to find out where your ancestor lived, but it's not on the map yet, check out Historic MapWorks which has an amazingly good zoomable scan of the 1903 Alpena, Presque Isle, and Montmorency Plat Book I'm working from.  Please leave a comment if you have any questions, corrections, or want to find out where your ancestor lived.  I'd be glad to help!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Presque Isle Co - 1918 Death Records Transcribed!

If you check out my post from last week with the records from Alpena, you'll see what I'm trying to accomplish here by transcribing the 1918 death records for Alpena and Presque Isle Counties...for now I'll avoid repeating myself!

To see the database of 148 death certificates for PI County from 1918, please go here.  I extracted a lot of good data like first/last/maiden name, death date, age, name of parents, and cause of death, but to see the whole certificate and additional info, visit Seeking Michigan and search.  Death certificates are available from 1897-1920.

Here are the stats for Presque Isle County, during the year of the infamous influenza epidemic:

Total Deaths - 148

Accidental - 4 (3%)
Cancer - 5 (3%) *today cancer accounts for over 20% of deaths in the US
Heart Disease - 13 (9%) *today, heart disease accounts for nearly 25% of US deaths
Influenza - 25 (17%) *much lower than Alpena/national averages which were around 35%
Other Diseases (Scarlet Fever, Typhoid Fever, Cholera, Meningitis, etc) - 15 (10%)
Tuberculosis - 12 (8%)
Suicide - 2
Infants - 51 (34%)

In comparing these numbers to those of Alpena County, a few things stand out.  First, the dramatically lower number of influenza-related deaths.  Could this be because of the lower population density and fewer outside visitors?  Perhaps.  It could also be that, in the more rural Presque Isle County, fewer deaths were actually reported.  One thing I definitely attribute to PI County's much higher rate of infant death is the rural location and lack of medical or sanitary resources nearby.

In the Victorian Age, there was a huge disparity between urban and rural populations, and the difference in available technologies and medical care was great.  For example, Alpena and Presque Isle townships didn't even have electricity until the late 1930s, when Alpena Electric Light Company had already been serving Alpena since 1881.  Also, very few in the farming community had automobiles at that time, denying them access to McRae Hospital in Alpena.  Contrary as it sounds, very few farmers at that time even had horses, which were a luxury.  Many farmers could only afford the more practical option of oxen, which could help with farm labor. Unless a qualified medical professional was in walking distance of those in peril, they were usually on their own, in a time when there was no internet, virtually no farmers had a secondary education, and very little medical information was available to the rural public.