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

Back from the Courthouse: File No. 1292

At about 9:30 this morning, Andy, the one who was to drive me there, arrived and we set off for the Sunbury courthouse. After a fine drive, we came to Sunbury at about 10. The mom and I proceeded to the courthouse while Andy went off to walk about the park on the median, across from the courthouse building.

As usual, I didn’t have much time there. Think Andy said something about an appt. He is very busy; it was so kind of him to drive me there while my car was being such an old biddy. 🙂 Thanks Andy! Every minute spent there counts.

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Blog remodeling & off for the courthouse

I was up at 5 am this morning, even though I had the alarm set for 6:30. I’m rarely up this early, but soon I’ll be heading out to the county courthouse in Sunbury. My task list includes:

  • Try to find MHK’s will. (I know there had to have been one, and if there was, it is on file. And I must find it.)
  • See if the courthouse has any additional probate records, other than just the will books. Especially in the case of Darlington Kulp’s estate, there should be much more paperwork than a three-page will/administration.
  • Look up other wills, including those of: Clayton, Chester, Gilbert and Ella Kulp. (Howard moved to Lewistown, Mifflin County; unfortunately I have no access to those records at the moment.)

In other words, today will be spent in the Register of Wills office, and any basement rooms which may house additional records. I know the deed books are down there. And what a fascinating place the basement is! Long corridor, locked doors, stone walls, low ceilings, old books. Exciting!

I will try to get photos of the town and scenery, but my digital camera is low on batteries and my cell phone needs to be “topped up.” (Paid.) It’s 25 cents for every photo you email from the cell phone, so I won’t be able to send too many.

I have given the blog a new look. I am thinking of changing the header image, too, but I’ll need to work on that sometime. I also plan to change some of the pages around, and add new content. Hope this looks better!

And, after reading Ruth Stephens’ blog, Bluebonnet Country Genealogy, the other day, I followed her example and went and got myself a custom signature for my posts from MyLiveSignature.com. Nice site, might great for designing logos too, if you can use the white background.

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.

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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.

Time to swat self again

Today, after having been busy for several days, mostly because of the holiday, I set out for the library again. (No ILL deliveries yet, I’m afraid.) I didn’t have much to do, but I thought I’d search out a death record for someone or other. However, the dates I was looking for weren’t there, so I instead took out the reel of microfilm for wills from the early 1900’s. I didn’t expect to find much, as my previous experience with the wills there had been that they are all administrations (no actual information about what was bequeathed to whom, just a basic overview written after the estate was settled). However, having nothing better to do, I decided to look for the administration for the estate of Elizabeth Gilbert Kulp, mother of Monroe H.; she died in 1902.

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