An Imperfect Politician – The Election and Career of a Pa. Legislator and How Things Haven’t Changed From 1894-2008

Politics and Our Ancestors: Finally, it’s a COG topic I really know. After all, the man at the center of my non-genealogical historical research was a politician–specifically a United States Representative–from turn-of-the-century slightly rural Pennsylvania. Though he was primarily a private businessman, his two-term Washington career ultimately became his best-known and most-hyped accomplishment. However, being a persistent researcher such as I am, I soon discovered there was a lot to his Congressional doings that the mainstream local histories and county biographies, well–just forgot to mention. And, at the same time, I found that I was uncovering an interestingly familiar story, one that in this turbulent political season may just prove that some things don’t entirely change with time.

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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.

From History of Houses to the Lives of their Builders

This article is written for the 53rd Edition of Carnival of Genealogy. (See previous post.)

When I learned that this edition was the type where you could write about basically anything family history, and especially because this is my first time writing for COG, I was a little overwhelmed by all the possibilities. Where to start?

But, as I went back and read earlier editions of the Carnival of Genealogy, I noticed that one edition was dedicated to the subject of houses in historical research; where our ancestors lived, and what the significance of these homes was. It occurred to me then that this was the perfect subject to introduce COG readers to my research, since houses were what originally brought me into the project of historical research. Continue reading

Occupation: Lady

This morning I went out on errands, and after they were completed I decided to visit the downtown shops, and, of course, my favorite place in Shamokin’s business district–the library.

I headed there after a mostly dull trip to two odds and ends shops. At the second one I missed a trunk of 1940’s newspapers by ten minutes, nothing was left but a piece of the classifieds. After that disappointment, I wandered about the smoky junk shop for a few minutes, and, finding nothing remarkable, I proceeded to the library. I did not expect to find much there in terms of my research, as I’ve read about 80 percent of their historical materials, but there was something I needed to look up, and I enjoy being there anyway.

After checking some minor matters in a book of burial records, I went to the file cabinet where miscellaneous records on microfilm are kept, hoping that there might be something in those registers, indexes, records and dockets that I hadn’t seen yet.

Well, there were birth records, tax records up to the 1840’s, minutes of the county commissioners or something of that nature from about the same time; and marriage license dockets from the 1890’s. In that collection, there would be, of course, records of the marriage of M.H. Kulp and Sarah Detweiler, but I thought, why would I need to read that, I know what it says.

However, I had nothing better to do, so I brought out the reel and set it up at the microfilm reader. After scanning the reel’s index which preceded the actual records and required especial attention to muddle through the 19th century clerk’s handwriting, I finally found the page number and scrolled up to it.

The first few lines of the marriage license was basically what I had expected–names, parents’ names, where born, age, etc. Then, “Date of former marriages of woman, if any, and to whom.”

This of course mentioned W.C. Detweiler, Sarah’s first husband, and the date that they were married, August 11, 1887. This I’d known, but two lines down:

Name and date of death or divorce of woman’s former husband,
WC Detwiler October 24 1890

I have been looking for this date for almost as long as I’ve been researching the Kulp family at all, and finally I’ve located it in one of the more ordinary places it could have been. Needless to say, this will open up paths such as obituary searches, and of course it is an important detail for reference.

And, toward the end of the record was an interesting line which, for me, summed up the grand old era of this 19th century marriage:

Occupation of man, Lumberman
Occupation of woman, Lady