Wedding Wednesday – Piecing Together Details About a Marriage

On Saturday, January 12th, it will be the wedding anniversary of my second great-grandparents, Charles Schwenk and Marian “Mary Ann” Burd. They were married in 1871 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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This photocopy of the marriage certificate is from a file of family records and images that my grandfather had with his pictures.[1]  I do not know who has the original image, but my father believes that several family heirlooms and records were photocopied in the 1970s and given to my grandfather by one of his sisters.

This certificate confirms the marriage that I found in a complied book of marriage returns from the City of Pittsburgh: Charles Schwenk, age 24, married Mary Ann “Bird,” age 21, on 12 January 1871 in a Civil Ceremony by Samuel McMasters, Ald.[2]  Both Charles and Mary Ann were from Saltsburgh, Allegheny County (a village in North Versailles Township).

While it’s fantastic to find documents and abstracts about our ancestors, there is so much more that I would love to know about Charles and Mary Ann.  I don’t have any pictures of them, or diaries or letters …  but what if I could know a little more about their wedding?

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Charles was a Civil War Veteran who applied for an invalid pension. In the many, many incredible documents that were included in his Compiled Service and Pension records, there is an affidavit that Mary Ann submitted for her widow’s pension. She needed to prove that she was married to Charles. The affidavit was from Isaac and Martha Mason and dated 3 March 1899.[3]

That the soldier Charles G. Schwenk and Mary A Schwenk now a Widow were married on January the 12″ 1871 at Pittsburgh Pa. That said Mary A Schwenk was living with them at Saltsburg Pa at the time of her marriage to the soldier Charles G. Schwenk.
That after the return of the couple from Pittsburgh were the marriage took place, they had the wedding supper at their (Deponents House) and that they the Deponents participated at the wedding festivities held in honor of the said marriage.
That the said Mary A. Schwenk lived with them (Deponents) for about 2 years before her marriage to the soldier and know that she was not married prior to the marriage to the soldier above named.
That they know the facts testified to in this affidavit of their own Personal knowledge, having had an intimate aquaintence with Mary A Schwenk before and after her marriage to the soldier.

Wow! So now I know a little more about Charles and Mary Ann’s wedding. The wedding “supper” was held at the home of Isaac and Martha Mason in Saltsburgh, after they were married in the City of Pittsburgh. In the 1870 census, just a year before the wedding, Mary Ann was living with the Masons in North Versailles Township, and working as a domestic servant.[4]  Charles was also living in North Versailles in 1870 and was enumerated on the same day and only a few pages apart in the census book.[5]  Both were no longer living with their parents, and it appears that they met in Saltsburgh.

There is another interesting item in this affidavit that needs further research. One of the witnesses to this affidavit was Margaret Orris, who was Mary Ann’s sister. When Margaret Orris died in 1922, her obituary listed eight children including Mrs. Harry Mason.[6]  Harry Mason was the son of Isaac and Martha Mason, whom Mary Ann worked for and lived with in 1870. There seem to be some connections between the Burd, Orris and Mason families that need to be explored. Maybe that’s how Mary Ann found work with the Masons and ended up in Saltsburgh? Or maybe Mary Ann introduced Harry to her niece?

In the meantime, I’m happy to know a little more about the wedding of my second great-grandparents and how they celebrated this important event!

Have you found details about a wedding outside of a marriage record?


SOURCES:

1] Marriage Certificate, Charles Schwenk-Mary Ann Burd, 12 January 1871; photocopy privately held by the author’s father, ca. 1975.

[2] Western Pennsylvania Genealogy Society, compiler, Marriage Returns City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA, 1870-1875. Pittsburgh: Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, 1999.

[3] Affidavit of Isaac and Martha Mason, 3 March 1899, Mary Ann Schwenk, widow’s pension application no. 586124, certificate no. 475533, service of Charles G. Schwenk (1st Sgt., Co. C, 82nd reg., Pennsylvania Infantry, Civil War); 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.

[4] 1870 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, North Versailles, population schedule, McKeesport Post Office, p. 20 (penned), dwelling 137, family 137, Isaac Mason; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2014) citing National Archives publication M5393_1294; Family History Library Film 552793.

[5] 1870 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, North Versailles, population schedule, McKeesport Post Office, p. 23 (penned), dwelling 156, family 156, John Rogers; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2014) citing National Archives publication M5393_1294; Family History Library Film 552793.

[6] “Former Creighton Woman Summoned by Death,” The Valley Daily News (Tarentum, PA), 17 February 1922; photocopy, Community Library of Allegheny, copied by library staff, 12 October 2012.

© 2019 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Amanuesis Monday – Affidavit from Amos Conner

Amanuesis Monday is a daily blogging prompt from geneabloggerstribe.com which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Amanuensis Monday is a popular ongoing series created by John Newmark at Transylvania Dutch.

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General Affidavit 
State of Pennsylvania
County of Allegheny
In the matter of claim for Orig. ? of Chas. Schwank #694362

Personally came before me Clerk of Court in and for aforesaid County and State, Amos Conner of McKeesport Allegheny County Pennsylvania. a person of lawful age, who, being duly sworn, declare in relation to the aforesaid case as follows:

Mr lemon sir is appears that you and the government wishes to know a bout mr swenks condishion. i will tell you what i know – i have noing him for sixteen years. We are brotherinlaws By maring sisters in the first place he is a badley used up man with rheumatism he has been botherd with rheumatism ever since i know him in his back he hesent been able to do a hard days work for sixteen years  that is as far back as i know if he dos work hard or run or lift he is of [?] for days with the panes in his back the first hard work i ever new him to do was last winter and he had to give up his job on acount of his back  he wood set up for nights and bath and saltes then he wood go to [?] this wood releave him for a time but that\ cant cure him  he is that bad be times that he cant tie his own shoes and when down he has hard work rising to a strate position  it wood be imposibel for me to give date or year for he has been that way every year and the older he gets the wors he is  i have lived too hundreds from him and have worked with him and for him  he dos contract work i am working for mr swenk now and that gives me all the better chance to no his case thorley with out eney dout.

Further declare that i havnt no interest in said case, and am not concerned for its protection.

                                                                                          [Amos Conner]

Sworn and subscribed 17 September 1889.

                                                                                          [DK. McGunnegle]
                                                                                          [Clerk of Courts]

This record is from the Civil War pension file of my second great-grandfather, Charles G. Schwenk.[1] Charles lived in Braddock, a steel town east of Pittsburgh, and filed a Declaration for Original Invalid Pension on 1 March 1889. His application stated that he had contracted rheumatism in his back from exposure, and that he incurred a “rupture” on his right site from wearing a cartridge box. This affidavit was submitted a few months later to support his case.

Charles was suffering from two chronic conditions. Rheumatism, inflammation and pain in the joints, was common in Civil War soldier, possibly caused by acute rheumatic fever.[2] His “rupture” was a hernia caused by wearing a cartridge box on his right side.

Amos Conner was Charles’ brother-in-law – his  wife Jane “Jennie” Burd was the sister of Charles’ wife Marian Burd. This particular affidavit was to be a statement of Charles’ current health struggles, as a result of his war injuries (there are other affidavits were about the injury itself).

“he is a badley used up man”

“hesent been able to do a hard days work for sixteen years”

“had to give up his job on acount of his back”

“times that he cant tie his own shoes”

Amos’ statement gave a clear picture of how much the rheumatism had affected Charles’ life and ability to work. Charles was recorded as a “laborer” after the war, and Amos stated that Charles did “contract work” indicating that he did not have a steady job. It’s hard to imagine Charles, and the vast number of veterans, trying to work manual labor with the injuries sustained in battle.

Charles’s pension packet had similar affidavits from friends and neighbors. He received an “Invalid Pension” of $8 a month for his hernia, and nothing for the rheumatism.[3] A year later he requested an increase to $16 for the continued back pain—his rate was increased to $10 a month.[4] Charles had a wife and four children under 16.

Charles’ pension file, over 85 pages, contains valuable information about his service, his life and physical struggles after the war, and his family. I will post more of my finds from Charles’ pension records … records that tell about the life of Charles Schwenk, as well as the new information that I found in the packet.

Do you have any Union Civil War ancestors? Have you looked for any pension files to see what you might find?


SOURCES:

[1] Affidavit of Amos Conner, 17 September 1889, Charles G. Schwenk (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.

[2] Bollet, Alfred Jay. “Rheumatic Diseases Among Civil War Troops.” Arthritis & Rheumatism 34.9 (1991): 1197–1203, (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/art.1780340919 : accessed 24 October 2018).

[3] Ibid., Surgeon’s Certificate for Charles G. “Swank,” 26 June 1889.

[4] Ibid., Declaration for Increase of Invalid Pension, Charles G. “Swank,” 15 September 1890.

© 2018 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Tombstone Tuesday – Lessons Learned from a Cemetery Visit

I stumbled upon this post from 5 years ago on my first blog … still good advice!

I was in Pittsburgh over Memorial Day weekend with my family and we decided to make a few cemetery visits. My oldest son had been on “cemetery hunts” with me before, but my husband and younger son were on their very first trip. We took a ride out to Prospect Cemetery in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania to look for a few collateral family members from my BURD family that I had found on Find A Grave.

We found the first two headstones fairly easily, but were having trouble finding the last couple of names. I guess I should also mention that even though it was the end of May, it was about 50 degrees, overcast and windy, and we had not packed for lengthy time outside (oops!). My sons and I ran back up to the entrance and found a map of the cemetery and confirmed that we were searching in the correct section. We went back, but could still not find anything.

My oldest son suggested that we go back to Find A Grave (thanks to smart phones!!) and search for the name of a neighboring stone that should be in the same section to make sure we have the right area … or that maybe there was a typo on the website. We confirmed a few names around where we should be, and still nothing. We took another step, and finally found two tiny stones in the grass — we could only see first names!! I wish I had taken a few more “before” pictures because the story continues!

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Find A Grave lists a Margaret, Helen and “Annie?” Burd as being in this section. Well, we had found two of the three, so we were happy. I snapped the above picture and then started clearing out the grass along the edges to get a better picture. My younger son noticed some letters above Helen’s name, so we kept pulling away the grass. Guess what we found?? The two stones were actually one broken stone (or two pieced together) with all three names on it!

BURD

When we originally found the two little stones, all we could see were the whiter areas on the picture above – just the names and dates. We also found that the center name was not “Annie”, but “R. J. Jr.” These are the children of Robert J. Burd and Minnie Roenick, descendants of my third great-grandfather, Alex Burd.

By the time I went back to Find A Grave in June, a new photo had been posted with the full tombstone. So what did we learn on our cemetery visit?? Besides bringing lists of names, double checking online data, finding cemetery maps, and dressing warmly??  We learned that we should bring a small shovel and some gloves … you may need to dig out a stone or two along the way!

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© 2018 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.