I honor of this day of love, I searched around my family (and hubby’s) for Valentine’s records, marriages or pictures … nothing! Lots of marriages in December and January, but not much happening in February! I did find this clipping in the Cubbage Family Bible … I wonder which family member clipped it from the newspaper?
So no Valentine’s marriages or love letters, but here are some of the oldest pictures that I have of family couples:
I wish that I had more older pictures, but I am very thankful for those that I do have of our families. Do you have any Valentine’s marriages in your family? How about your oldest family pictures?
I love this photo of my husband’s grandmother, Mary, and her family! This was taken in New Kensington, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in the 1920’s. Michael Simko and Mary Kelovcy were born in Zaluzice, Slovakia and arrived in the United States before 1914. Their children, Mary, Susan, Michael and Walter, were all born in Springdale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania before their parents decided to return to Slovakia in the late 1920s. Mary, Michael and Walter each married in Slovakia and then came back to the United States to stay. Only Susan remained in Slovakia.
This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge. The prompt for this week is “I’d Like to Meet.”
There are so many ancestors that I’d like to meet – too many to list here (and why). But one that stands out is Polly. She was my husband’s 5th great-grandmother. I’ve done a little bit of research on Polly and her family, but I have much so more to learn as I have not yet been able to get to Bedford County – it’s on my research travel list!
So what makes me want to meet Polly? Her Last Will and Testament. Here’s a quick timeline of her life to give you the basics before we get to her will:
Mary “Polly” Boyle was born around 1789 in Virginia, probably in Bedford County.
She married Reuben Kerns/Karnes in 1808.
Reuben died in 1835 at age 51, leaving Polly with four daughters (the youngest still a teenager, the oldest married). Reuben’s will provided that his plantation and household items were to remain with his wife until her death, and then be divided among his children.
On 21 July 1859, Polly wrote her own will. The will was signed with her mark, indicating that she could not write, and likely dictated it to someone. It starts as standard will:
Polly directed that all of her estate (real and personal) be sold by the executor. The resulting money was to be held by the executor as a trustee for equal use and benefit of her four children (which she named) during their lives and after their death to their children. If any daughters died without heirs, their share was to go to the surviving sisters (or the sisters’ children).
This is the part that caught my eye:
“… it being my wish that no part of the legacies herein given to my children shall be under the control of their present, or any future husbands they may have, or be in any manner liable for their debts.”
Wow. Nothing to the husbands, nor can they control the “legacies.” I have not seen anything like this in a will thus far! The following year, Polly was still living in Bedford County with her youngest daughter, and enumerated next to two other daughters and their husbands (and children).
Polly likely died in the early spring of 1864 – her will was proved in April. But not before Polly’s three sons-in-law “opposed the proof of the will.” But the court found it to be a valid will and that Polly “was of sound and disposing mind and memory and that she was under no undue influence.” The will was to be executed according to the law, and the court ordered that it was to be recorded as it was written.
So they opposed the will! I wonder if these men knew about her stipulations, or if they learned it after Polly’s death? And why did Polly exclude them for having control of her estate? Did she know something about them? Did she feel that her daughters married poorly?
Back to the 1860 census … Polly’s real estate was valued at $1000, which was an average value compared to those who lived nearby. But the daughters who next next-door did not own any land, and their personal property was valued at much less than Polly’s. Were these sons-in-law just looking for her money? So many questions!
And what about Polly? This woman – at a time when women were just beginning to be allowed to own property (let alone control it without a guardian) – wrote a will that clearly didn’t permit her sons-in-law to control any of the estate that would go to her daughters. I wonder what lead her make this stipulation in her will. Was it the husbands, or did she want to give her daughters the ability to control their own assets?
Again, I have much more to learn about Polly, her daughters, and their husbands. She is definitely an ancestor that I’d love to meet one day. I’d have so many questions for her!
Have you found any interesting wills? Which ancestor would you like to meet?
Today is National Handwriting Day, which was established in 1977 by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (who knew there was such an association!). It was to be held on January 23rd which is John Hancock’s birthday, in honor of his famous signature on the Declaration of Independence. Rather than comment on our current digital world and its replacement of handwriting and penmanship, I’ll look at one of my favorite finds in genealogical documents … signatures.
I usually do the happy dance when I am able to find a document or record of ancestor, but I am especially happy when it includes a signature. I find signatures to be such a personal part of what can be sterile or factual document. I can see a piece of this person on the page. I often picture him or her signing the document and wonder what was going through their minds at the time, especially since these can be on a will, naturalization or draft record. Below are some of the tangible marks left by my family.
 Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, estate file 346, Charles A. Cubbage (1939), Register of Wills, Orphan’s Court, Greensburg.
 Declaration for Increase of Invalid Pension, 15 September 1890, Charles G. Schwenk/Swank (Pvt. Co. A and 1st Sgt. Co. C, 82nd Pennsylvania Inf., Civil War), pension application no. 694362, certificate no. 454879, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications … 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
 “United States, World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” index and images, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 10 January 2018), card for Christ Linneman, serial no. 2883, no. 163, Local Draft Board No. 8, Monessen, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, NARA microfilm publication M1509; imaged from Family History Library roll 1927074.
 Anna Babay petition for naturalization (1940), naturalization file no. 26784, Middle District of Pennsylvania; Records of the District Courts of the United States; Record Group 21; National Archives-Mid Atlantic Region, Philadelphia.
 “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : 4 January 2018), Allegheny County, Wills 1808-1830, vol. 2, page 289, no. 221, Sarah Cubbage (1822).
I love to play cards – poker, hearts, canasta … you name it. This is because I was raised by some serious card-playing Cubbages. Family favorites included hearts, poker and “aw $hit” (also known as “oh hell” or ”aw pshaw”). If there were Cubbages gathered together, there was always card game. I think of my grandfather – Art Cubbage, known to us as Pop-Pop – whenever we play. We even had an honorary game of “aw $hit” after Pop-Pop’s funeral.
My grandfather was an avid card player. I can remember being too young to play, but hearing the laughing, and occasionally yelling, when they played cards. As we kids got older, we learned the games and started playing with my parents and my grandfather. And I distinctly remember him getting frustrated at times with how we played (“I wonder what the hell that call means?”). These wonderful memories make me smile when I see my extended family and we get a game of hearts going after dinner.And when we play with my kids, I often tell them two of my favorite card-playing stories about Pop-Pop …
Story #1: Pop-Pop’s favorite card game was Hearts. And he was good. He played regularly with his friends Bob and Ralph. They would get together every year or so for a Hearts Tournament, where they would meet and play for the weekend. They had a flag with a heart on it, a medal for the weekend champion (who kept it until the next tournament), and some years even had matching shirts! It sounds like such a fun weekend away to me!
I have a few pictures from their card-playing adventures:
Easter Sunday! This was when Pop-Pop was living in New Jersey and my grandmother and the boys were still in Pittsburgh. I wonder how he got away with that one!
Story #2: This is my favorite card-playing story about Pop-Pop and his buddies … and how much they loved playing cards. In between these tournaments they played cards by mail! Yep, good old snail mail – no online hearts like we can play today. It’s hard to imagine, and to explain, but here are the basics …
One of them would deal out the cards and mail them to the other two players (each person would get his 17-card hand, and I’m guessing that he held onto the “kitty” until the first hard). Then the person who was to the “left of the dealer” would mail his card that he “played” to the next player, who would add his card and mail both to the next. The dealer would mail the “trick” to the winner, who would then play a card to his “left” and so on. These games would last months. Those were some serious card players! In this day and age of instant gratification and immediate results, it’s hard to imagine a game going on for that long. But I can envision how excited they were when they received an envelope of cards in the mail!
In the 1960s and 1970s, my grandfather hosted a poker game in his cellar twice a month with some friends from his neighborhood in New Providence. This picture is probably from the mid-1960s. My grandfather is in the middle … with all of the poker chips! The young fellow to the left is my father, who was probably sitting in for one of the guys.
At some point in the mid-1970s, my Dad brought me and my sister along when he went to play one Friday night. And you can ask my sister … we still remember listening to their chatter in the cellar through the heating ducts from upstairs!
Fast forward another 20 years and the weekend card playing returned! This time Pop-Pop played “aw $hit” (notice the matching sweatshirts for the occasion!) near the Poconos with his sons Jeff and Corky, and his friend Willie.
Both of my sons are good card players, and we enjoy playing a few hands over school breaks or with the rest of the Cubbage clan. This family tradition will be passed down to another generation of Cubbage descendants!