The Researcher Returns

Yep, I’ve been away a while. Several family matters came up which just couldn’t be avoided, and the past month has been so hectic I haven’t had time for anything but essentials. So, a lot of research plans were delayed, but now, I think I’m finally getting back on track. I have a lot to do, a lot to catch up on; yet, I think I’m ready for it!

Today, I wrote a draft of a letter to an important research contact and was able to get to the library to check some newspapers. The Harrisburg Telegraph has finally arrived! The original request was cancelled because they said they didn’t have the date I asked for…but I knew better. 🙂 After a few telephone calls, I was told that yes, they did have it and I was right, so just request it again then. I did, and it arrived last afternoon.

To recap, I requested the Telegraph looking for information related to the marriage and death of William C. Detweiler. I had looked up these events in the Harrisburg Patriot some time ago, but thought a different newspaper might report more info. Sure enough, I was able to locate some good leads.

First, it was mentioned in his obituary that he had attended the Harrisburg Academy. I’m not familiar with the establishment, but if I can find its records anywhere, that might be a useful source. Some internet searching is in order! Also, I now have a specific date for when he was admitted to the bar, which I may be able to look up in newspapers later on.

Some weeks ago I found an hour or so to visit the Odd Fellows Cemetery and take a few photographs; various members of families connected to the Kulps are buried there, including M.H. Kulp’s sister Sepora and her sons, Warren and Raymond. Since the cemetery is just outside of Trevorton, I stopped there as well and did more photography. I have hardly ever been there before, believe it or not, I don’t travel much; but it is such a lovely, quaint town. St. Patrick’s Church is there; I have an old photo of it, but can’t post here as my scanner is not hooked up. However, during my trip to Trevorton I took a photo of the church from approximately the same angle for comparison, and will post them here as soon as I have the older shot.

This photo was taken from inside the Trevorton post office, showing Shamokin Street.

This photo was taken from inside the Trevorton post office, showing Shamokin Street.

Interior of Trevorton post office. The postal clerk tells me the building was originally a general store, and the woodwork you see here is fairly recent, dating from the 1950s.

Interior of Trevorton post office. The postal clerk tells me the building was originally a general store, and the woodwork you see here is fairly recent, dating from the 1950s.

Other than that, not much has been going on in my research since late August. But, in any case, the researcher returns to business. As progress is made I will be posting here more often, so stay tuned! I’ll try not to disappear again. 🙂

I always knew there’d be music…

I happen to be very passionate about music–I absolutely love it. I can relate to most any type (with obvious exceptions), as long as it’s not too classical or too recent, although generally I lean toward classical. Most specifically I prefer instrumental and orchestra–and, of course, popular 19th and early 20th century songs. What else? For me, the essence of an era is deeply reflected in its music.

Well, apparently someone connected with my research had a love for music as well. According to very interesting files on Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music 1870-1885, several songs were written around 1877 and 1880 by one Eunice Parke Detweiler. As I’ve learned in my (mostly around the internet) research travels, Eunice Parke married John S. Detweiler, and was the mother of William Champlin Detweiler, first husband of Sarah W. Kulp.

The website lists her under three different names, E.P., Eunice P., and Eunice Parke Detweiler, at this page. She also had a daughter by the same name (and to make matters more confusing, the younger Eunice Parke Detweiler married somebody else by the name of Parke!), but from what I can find in census records this time period would have been too early for her daughter to have been the author.

Apparently, except in one or two cases, Eunice Detweiler wrote only the music–some of the works credit the lyrics to one Jean Ingelow, and another to F.A. Parke. Not sure who he/she was; a finding aid to the Parke family papers at the Emory University in Atlanta, GA (wish I could go there, but alas, it’s not possible), mentions a Frederick Huntington Parke, but no F.A. Frederick was also probably rather young at the time anyway.

A sample of the sheet music by Eunice Parke Detweiler.

If I had a piano, I would try to render these lovely old songs myself, but I don’t–and I probably wouldn’t be able to do justice to the music anyway! But isn’t this something? I believe I’d seen the site some time ago, but hadn’t really explored it in detail.

There’s not a lot of person-specific information here, of course, and it would have been better if the name of the city were mentioned to confirm the author’s identity, but who else could it be? Sounds like Eunice, too–I get the impression she was one of those classic Victorian ladies. Most of what I know about her I learned from that finding aid–yes, there’s a lot to learn, just in the finding aid! It mentions that she was very active in the affairs of the Episcopal church at Harrisburg, and seemed to have a lot of connections. There were clergymen, lawyers, and diplomats in her family. Very, very interesting.

A possible first photo

I’ve been kind of busy lately so I haven’t been writing as faithfully in this blog, but the evening before last I received a very exciting email which may have provided the first photograph I have found yet–of one of the most important persons in my research.

On August 11, I wrote to the curator of the Historical Society of Dauphin County, asking about a very extensive photo collection they have. Their website says it contains over 1 million images, so I thought I had a fair shot at finding some relevant portraits. For a start, I asked if they had anything about Sarah McConnell or her husband William C. Detweiler; including a few dates and places with my query for clarification.

August 12, evening, I did a final check of my inbox before heading to bed. For the past couple of days it seemed like both my email accounts had been really dead, no messages from anybody, no spam even! 😦 So I didn’t expect to find much. But, to my delight, there was a response from the curator at the Dauphin County Historical Society. The curator wrote:

Hi Val. I searched our photo collection and came up with nothing for Sarah McConnell. The only Detweiler photos that turned up was Philip Detweiler and a group picture that includes a William C. Detweiler dated 4/15/1871. Pictured seated left to right: William A. Kelker, William Calder, Charles C. Lombaert, standing in rear William C. Detweiler. Not sure if he is Champlin Detweiler. I’ve attached a low resolution preview of these images.

In 1871 Detweiler would have been about 15 years old. I haven’t verified if it’s actually him or not, but I would say it is, since it’s a rather uncommon name and there isn’t anyone else in the 1870 census for Dauphin County listed by that name. The man in the photo identified as Detweiler does seem to have been relatively young, although perhaps not as young as 15, but that’s just my impression. Could the date of 1871 be incorrect, perhaps?

In any case, it’s an amazing portrait. Though young, he had a very distinguished appearance, and must have been quite handsome. The photo has an informal and familiar air; the three men, Kelker, Calder and Lombaert, are seated languidly in the foreground, while Detweiler, slender and fair of countenance, stands behind them, his arm resting on Calder’s shoulder. While it’s clear they were probably friends, the Calder connection is especially interesting as Sarah McConnell’s brother, William McConnell’s, middle name was Calder. There were actually about three different William Calders in Dauphin County, according to maley.net’s Dauphin County biographical transcriptions. The one in this photo appears to be much older than his companions, 40-50 years old I would say, so he may be the William Calder listed in the transcription as having been born in 1821, and died in 1880 (possibly son of William Calder born 1788). I suspect that the Detweiler family had known the McConnells for a long time, so if William Calder was a good friend of the Detweiler family, he may also have known the McConnells, hence the namesake.

There are several Kelker families listed in the transcriptions, but no mention of a William. Also nothing on Lombaert, although in the photo he appeared to have been about the same age as Detweiler, probably in his teens.

This is truly a major find in my research. Originally, though, I didn’t think it was especially unusual that this collection of 1 million images included what I was looking for, but recently as I went over the email again (was too excited the first time to read everything!), I noticed that the curator had said there were only two Detweiler surname photos. (Never heard of Philip.) Well, I know that this family wasn’t the only one by that name in Harrisburg–there was also another lawyer by the name of Meade D. Detweiler, who was probably a relation although I don’t have any proof of a connection. He was, in fact, more prominent than the John S. Detweiler family, and I would have thought that in just about any Dauphin County collection there would be more information on him than William C., yet in a collection of a million photos, one of only two photographs with that surname just happened to be what I was looking for. Now that is luck.

Also today, I received an email from the genealogist at Trinity Episcopal. She couldn’t find much in the church records database, but she did some additional searching and came up with some interesting info. She has access to a local directory from 1900-1903 (wherever did she get that? I must know! 🙂 ), and there are some addresses listed I might want to check out. Also mention of MHK being affiliated with some company by the name of Montando Water Co. Interesting, never heard of it. She also says that Chester Kulp, his brother, who was an assistant postmaster, had children enrolled in the Washington School (built 1890, on Sunbury Street). Will have to ask about that.

The submission deadline for the next Carnival of Genealogy is tomorrow, and I have got to get to work on writing the article I will submit. I kept putting it off, as I thought I had plenty of time–and now all of a sudden it’s the 14th. Time flies!

John S. Detweiler’s Grave

Now mind you, I’ve been to the cemetery site, Find A Grave, before. Long, long ago I paid my first visit to its pages, only to leave eventually without finding a thing, and coming to the conclusion that they didn’t have many records at all.

But this was probably just because their site structure, navigation and search system needs to be taken apart and rebuilt from the ground up to work right–because they really do have a lot of records. Many grave listings also include photos. And when I took the time this afternoon to bushwhack my way around the quite contrary search engines, I found just that!

In the database for the Harrisburg Cemetery (not to be confused with East Harrisburg Cemetery, which I think is more recent), I found two burials with the surname Detweiler. The first was a Henry Detweiler, whose name I didn’t recognize–and the second was John S. Detweiler, who was the father of William Champlin Detweiler, first husband of Sarah W. Kulp.

The transcription indicates his birthdate was 1828, but this could be a reading error; Detweiler's biography from the Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia lists his birthdate as 1829.

The transcription lists his birthdate as 1828, but this may be due to the illegibility of the headstone; Detweiler's biography from the Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia indicates his birthdate was 1829.

In the East Harrisburg Cemetery, there are also listings for David and Susanna Detweiler–can’t be sure, as I don’t know much about them, but I think these were the parents of John S. Detweiler. However, the same photo was included for both listings and it appears to be of a monument with surname Mumma, so I don’t know exactly why that is. The page for Susanna Detweiler is here; John S. Detweiler here.

No info on William C., I’m afraid. But many thanks to Find A Grave–they really have an excellent database! They just need to work on that site navigation. 🙂

In other news…today I paid a visit to Trinity Episcopal Church, where I met the rector and a very helpful genealogist, on my quest for historical records. They both seemed generally familiar with the Kulp family history, but said although they have records, they are mostly vital statistics–baptisms, marriages, etc. However, the genealogist, whose name I’m afraid I missed, has apparently transcribed some of these records and told me she has a computer database up to the 1920’s. I gave her my email address and she said she would do some searching. Hopefully, this may turn up some leads.

They are here!!

It was about 4:14 when I called the library about those ILLs; had called earlier and they said they would call me if anything came in today’s delivery, but that was two hours earlier and I wasn’t ready to accept the fact that it was another week…and nothing from Harrisburg.

So I called again, and what do I hear but–yes, the microfilm has arrived! They tried to call, but they called my other cell phone which I don’t use much anymore and which is on mute. (Didn’t I give them the new number a few weeks ago…? Well, whatever.)

I was out of this house by 4:40 and arriving at the library only a few minutes later. And there they were–two lovely boxes of microfilm tied together with a rubber band, and they were the right dates and newspapers too! 🙂 Everything perfect, no trouble with anything whatsoever! And the discoveries, the discoveries! So beautiful…and so sad.

Continue reading

Grand news!!

Was browsing the website for the PA State Library today, thinking it was about time for me to send them a request regarding those Harrisburg papers (see posts under People and Families>Detweiler), and wondering just how long it would take for an answer and what they would say about fees…

Then, I read the page about their newspapers collection. I was stunned, shocked and disbelieving to read that they actually do Inter-Library Loans, free of charge, of their microfilm copies! I had no idea. How could I have missed that?!

I had just been about to go outside for yard cleanup, but needless to say when I read this I had to call the local library immediately. I stood about on the path outside for approximately five minutes, pacing while telling the librarian the dates and locations I was looking for. I mentioned the Harrisburg Patriot, since I’m not sure what newspaper was prevalent there at that time, but I though it might be the Patriot–had to call back later after discovering the State Library’s online card catalog which said that for 1887 they had the Patriot but for 1890 only something called the Daily Morning Patriot and the Evening Star…had to call back a third time one minute ago because actually, they have the Telegraph from 1870-something to 1948, so that sounds like it’s a more complete collection. I was so overwhelmed by the discovery I wasn’t sure what to think, so I had to keep changing the information. They probably think I’m such a pest! 🙂

In any case, I’m sure this will be quite a breakthrough. And furthermore, the State Library has countless newspapers from other areas of Pennsylvania–this discovery will continue to serve me well in the future, I am sure. I was just thinking today that I need something from Reading–long story, trying to trace descendants of Darlington Kulp, grandson of first Darlington and son of MHK’s brother Howard; he was a Baptist minister in Reading at one time though I think he died in Delaware County.

Anyway, I was told it may take some time for the microfilm to arrive; request goes out on Thursday and we won’t hear from them till the Thursday after that at least, plus I was told the request has to go through the Pottsville library as well before it gets to Harrisburg…well, you get the point. Still, I don’t have to go anywhere nor pay a cent. How excellent!

Finally taking research to Harrisburg

Not in person, unfortunately. I may be able to make a trip to Harrisburg later in the year, but at the moment everything is remote. I emailed the Harrisburg library regarding look-ups or microfilm loans; hopefully a reply may come in tomorrow.

Now that I have two specific dates (see previous post), I will be able to get to the details of the Harrisburg connection. One of my primary objectives is to understand the background, personal and family history of not only M.H. Kulp himself, but most especially of his wife, Sarah W. (McConnell) Detweiler; and, of course, both her marriages. The question, finally, is: Who exactly was William Champlin Detweiler?