Updates & miscellaneous

Well, I did call the author of the article mentioned in my last entry, but he said it would be better if we talked in person (suggested the library), and I informed him that it wouldn’t be immediately possible, car trouble, but I am going to call again soon as I am back on the road earlier than expected!

I had a few searching tasks in mind at the cemetery today, so I headed over there looking for various burials in block 23, didn’t find anything; but I did take a photo of the view from the rear of the cemetery, it is atop the hill and you can see a great deal of the town from there. Pardon the photo quality–it was my camera phone and I couldn’t keep it still, the height was rather dizzying I have to say! 🙂

Looking north, on the steps near Block 23 (rear of cemetery)

Looking north, on the steps near Block 23 (rear of cemetery)

The courthouse trip I mentioned earlier I now have scheduled for the end of the month. However, I still do not trust the car for long trips so I have arranged to have a friend drive me there. He is often very busy with work, etc., so something may come up then, but so far next week is what we have planned.

More news: Recently I emailed a church by the name of Christ Lutheran in–where do you suppose?–Barto. This town, in Berks County in the area of Washington Township and Bally (formerly Goshenhoppen in the 18th C or thereabouts), was the home of Darlington R. Kulp around the 1850’s and 60’s. Census records say it was actually Washington Township, but an 1876 map indicates that Barto was part of the township, so in other words we’re talking about the same general area. It is, by the way, on the border with Montgomery County and just a few miles north of Pottstown in that county, where Darlington was raised. Directly across the border is Niantic, where his parents were buried. His eldest son, Monroe Henry, was born in Barto, October 23, 1858.

In fact, several of Darlington’s children were born in the Washington Township area, excepting Chester Grant who was born in Schultzville, Chester County; Howard, Gilbert, and the twins (who, sadly, died in infancy in 1869), who were all born in Shamokin. I’ve never been able to find much information on the Berks County connection, so when I heard about the Christ Lutheran Church located so near to where they lived, I immediately decided to find out how long ago it had been founded. Of course, D.R. Kulp’s short biographies from Bell’s and Floyd’s indicate that he belonged to the German Reformed Church before he moved to Shamokin, but then, I figured that if it had existed back then and was so nearby, they probably wouldn’t have minded. It was a very rural area and in those days people often had to wait for a traveling priest to come by, so if there was even a Lutheran church anywhere in the area, I highly believe they would have attended there. (And perhaps the bios are wrong.)

So, I found the email address for Christ Lutheran Church on their webpage, located here, and sent them a message asking when the church was founded. Someone by the name of Melissa replied and said that it had actually been founded in 1836, but she didn’t think they had any records from the 1850’s to the 1860’s, just the later years of the 19th century and afterward. However, she said that if she ever found out anything about it, or talked to anyone who might remember what became of them, she would let me know.

So the question is, was the church located in Barto at that time? Or was it originally located elsewhere? The Berks County PAGenWeb and PAGenWeb Archives pages have comprehensive lists of Berks County churches, but I did not see anything about the Christ Lutheran Church there. Confusing.

So, we’ll see what develops in the next couple of days. I hope the Sunbury trip will turn out well; but I think I am sure to find something there. I have a long, detailed, (and now organized!) list made up, and I am fairly confident at least some of the tasks will yield useful information.

Oh, and there’s the ILL deliveries today. Am still waiting for the Halifax Bicentennial.


Update 09/02/08: Schultzville, Chester County? Oh, please. Turns out it was Berks County, and yes, in the Washington Township area. Don’t trust those obituaries!

The search for wills and sources

For some time I have been planning to make one of those grand old trips to the Sunbury courthouse, this time on another will hunt. First, it appeared as though I wouldn’t be able to do this until around the middle of August, however, now early August may be possible. I will try to fit it in. Oh, how I long to be able just to run out tomorrow morning and hurry off to Sunbury…but then, I’d kind of like to live in the courthouse for about a week too, only we can’t have everything!! 🙂

So, my primary task at the courthouse is locating MHK’s will. Last time I was there (we’re talking, what, early May?), I did find an administration, but as I recall that’s all there was. However, I also remember that the handwriting was difficult to read and I was in a hurry…maybe I missed a page? (Horror!)

It is possible that there may be some situation as I found with his father’s will (see previous postings). But I doubt it. Frankly, I am starting to lean toward the possibility that I overlooked it, and you can imagine how impossible that seems! However, I also think there are additional probate records somewhere at the courthouse, so I am certain to find something. If there are any additional records, I must see what else I can find on Darlington Kulp’s estate. With the controversy that surrounded it, there can be no doubt some unique paperwork was involved.

By the way, from what I can tell, the will books are only in a loose chronological order, and a rather odd one at that. For example, indexes reference Will Book 14 as the location of MHK’s will, 1911; Book 20-something, I think, for his wife’s will, she died in 1931; and Book 15 for his sister’s, who also died in 1931. Now does that make any sense…?

I have another task tonight. Recently I have been working on the Thomas Photography connection again, with little luck. Called the last owner and asked him just about every question I could, and his answer was very clear: They only had family portraits in negative format, except after about 1930/1940, and all the negatives were donated to the historical society. Now, I did call the historical society some time ago and they say that they only have negatives after 1925. Nothing at all in the way of portraits prior to that date. Further, a local fellow who’s into photography whose website I saw once, he purchased a large collection of already printed photos from Thomas Photography when they were closing, and he tells me he has about fifty or so family photos from around the turn of the century. So what is up with all of this? Confusing.

Now, I am drawn again to an article about M.H. Kulp, printed in the News-Item back in February 2006 as the first installment in the Achievers series. (The series went on for about two years; they now have a book published containing all the articles.) As you probably know, 2006 was a bit before my interest in Shamokin history got started, so I didn’t hear about it until sometime last year. However, going over it again, I am noticing that there were two portraits printed with the article. One was that very charismatic portrait from the Centennial publication; there is a copy on this site’s “Why This One Point in Time?” page. Another was the one taken in Edgewood, and which I originally found in June 2007 in a book about the electric railway company. The author of the article did not list his sources, but the latter photo was captioned with a quote that the author claimed was the original caption. Now, I have never seen this original caption anywhere before, so I am inclined to think that his source was more direct; i.e., a family member or…the photography studio? You’d think.

I am thinking that wherever he found one such photo, there may be more; so, today I attempted to contact the author about his sources. However, he was not around. It is evening now, so I am off to call again. I must also ask about some other things he mentioned in the article, so this may be an important call. Will write soon.

It’s the repository, stupid :)

Well, I’ve just gotten back from Pottsville. The Red Cross trip was quite a bust–closest item they had was some material from 1917-1918 about the Shenandoah chapter, nothing from that time about Shamokin. I did find some names in their scrapbook of more recent officers who may know something, but other than that, not much. Fortunately, however, I had a Plan B for the expedition. And, this Plan B was an excellent bet, so I thought. Besides, after I’d come all this way and found little at the Red Cross, when it came to the library, I certainly “didn’t want no trouble.” But…

Continue reading

Her hometown

Well, something has just come up and I will be making a trip to Dauphin County sometime later this month. It’s not research-related, and I won’t have a great deal of time while there, but the town of Halifax is on the way and I may be able to see the area, take photos. Halifax was the hometown of Sarah McConnell, who would later marry the city lawyer, William C. Detweiler, and, seven years after his death, Monroe H. Kulp. A small, rural town along the Susquehanna River, a few miles north of Harrisburg, Halifax was her home throughout the 1860’s and 70’s, where after her parents died she was raised by her grandparents, the devoutly Episcopalian John and Eliza/Elizabeth Marsh, who were innkeepers.

This will be an important trip for me; looks like there are a lot of important things are happening with my research lately! Great deal of progress being made. I am also looking into the possibility of finding cemetery records…a map of Halifax from the 1870’s says there was a cemetery in the area, but I am not finding any information about it online. However, the map is of a land ownership type and shows the property owned by John Marsh, so I know approximately where the homestead/inn was once located.

Although this won’t complete all of my research projects in Dauphin County, it will certainly be something to record here. Check in often for updates!


I’m going to be busier than planned this week, plus the east coast heat wave is slowing things down considerably, so I have rescheduled the Red Cross trip for some time next week.

However, I had time to phone a descendant of Chester Kulp, who was the brother of Monroe H. She lives in Shamokin and is his great-granddaughter. She wasn’t home when I called, but I left a message and will try again this afternoon if she doesn’t call back.

Records Indexing

Having no major research tasks till my trip to the Red Cross on Tuesday (see post of June 2), I’ve signed up for an online volunteer records indexing project. So far, I’ve indexed 320 names–was assigned 7 pages from the 1870 Ohio census, and one from the Maryland census of that year. They will soon be available for searching at FamilySearchLabs.org. If you’d like to sign up for volunteer indexing, you can find more info at: FamilySearchIndexing.org.

If I had the resources, I would index local censuses, but I only have access to them from the library. Personally, I think it’s best to index records from areas you know; that way, in handwritten documents, it’s easier to recognize names because you know what’s common in that locale. Needless to say, I have no idea what surnames were prevalent in rural mid-19th century Ohio, but I know a Maurer, Drumheller or Douty surname when I see one. 🙂

Once I’ve crossed Pottsville off my list, I will call the historical society in Sunbury again (have talked to them a lot this past month regarding various resources). They have a portion of the collection from Thomas Photography, a studio which used to be in Shamokin; it was around since the 1880’s, in the days of Myron Thomas, founder. These days, however, the historical society only has portrait photos post-1925, so I was somewhat discouraged in finding portraits of some of the figures connected with my research; their prime was long before the 20’s. But, I may still find something, and at this point any personal photo is worth the project it takes to find it, so I will contact them again soon.

Prop timber

While counting the days till the Pottsville trip (see previous post), I am mulling over various facets of my research, and thought I would mention a few interesting details:

What is prop timber?

Monroe H. Kulp, one of the foremost figures I am researching, was president of the Kulp Lumber Company of Pennsylvania (later Maryland). Although this is well-known to most any Shamokinite familiar with the history of the Kulp family, what many do not know is that the company specialized in prop timber.

Prop timber is a type of lower quality timber, usually hard pine, which, although not considered usuable for finer lumber, was well-suited to function as mine props. In the coal regions of Pennsylvania, strong, durable timber was a necessity, used to support the ceilings of the mines. Therefore, although for most other purposes it was virtually unmarketable, the harvest of these types of timber was highly profitable in the anthracite region, and the Kulp Lumber Company was among Pennsylvania’s top producers of prop timber.

Called Red Cross

Called Red Cross today on my way back from more errands; got a hold of the director and she says they may have information. We arranged a date for me to come over there and look through their records. Turns out they are not the Mount Carmel but the Schuylkill chapter, phone book said otherwise but whatever, and they are in Pottsville.