Tuesday’s Tip – Using a Draft Card to Identify a Man in a Photo

Military records are an incredible resource that can help us learn about our ancestors. Enlistment, discharge, pension, and service records, plus muster-rolls, draft cards and others, can provide valuable biographic and personal information about our family.

Some military records may even provide a physical description of the person – height, weight, eye color, hair color – which can help to paint a picture of the ancestor in the absence of photos. Draft Registration Cards for Word War I and II both collected information about the physical description of the registrant.

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My second great-uncle, William Arthur Speedy, registered for the draft in 1918 and was recorded as medium height and build with gray eyes and brown hair. During the registration for World War I, the registrant was also asked Has person lost arm, leg, hand, eye or is he obviously physically disqualified? (Specify). William’s card reads:

“Left index finger entirely gone, also 1st + second joint of second finger left hand.”

Well now I have a better picture of what William looked like! I do have one photocopy of a picture of William, but his left hand is hidden.

These physical descriptions can be helpful in identifying unknown persons in our family photos. This picture is from my grandparents’ collection. Using other pictures, we easily identified the man sitting as Christian Linneman, my great grandmother’s Elisabeth’s brother. It was possible that the man standing was one of the other brothers, probably Gerhard or George since they lived in the same town (William had moved to Chicago).

Christian & maybe a brother

George Linneman, registered for the draft in 1942 with the following card and information:

5-A G. Linneman Draft Card  5-A G. Linneman Draft Card 2

Besides learning that he was 5’ 7” and 145 pounds with gray eyes and brown hair, it was noted that he had a

“Fractured Knee-cap” and “Crossed left eye.”

George’s crossed eye is noticeable in this picture (and others) and was the key in identifying him!

Christian & maybe a brother

Be sure to check out the physical features of your ancestors on the back side of the cards. Draft Registration Cards are accessible for free on the FamilySearch website, and at subscription sites Ancestry and Fold3.

Have you used records to identify an unknown person in a photo?


SOURCES:

“United States, World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” index and images, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 4 June 2018), card for William Arthur Speedy, serial no. 2298, Local Draft Board No. 14, Swissvale, Allegheny 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.

“United States, World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” index and images, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 4 June 2018), card for George Linneman, serial no. 1783, Local Draft Board No. 10, Monessen, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania; citing World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania, NARA microfilm publication M1951; National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri.

© 2019 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Treasure Chest Thursday – German Gesangbuch

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For those of you who know me, you know that Thursdays are my favorite day of the week – choir and handbell choir rehearsals! I love being a part of the thriving music program at our church. A few years ago, my parents gave me the most wonderful little book as a gift. It is a German Gesangbuch, or hymnal, that belonged to my great-grand uncle, Christian “Christ” Linnemann.

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The first page is printed with “Ach bleib mit Deiner Gnade.” According to Google Translate, this means Oh stay with your grace.

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Christ’s name is written on the back of the first page. The first two pages appear to have been repaired with some white tape that covers the end of his name and part of the next  page. The following page is printed with “Widmung” which means dedication, but nothing is written on that page.

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The Evangelisches Gesangbuch is a Protestant hymnal. This edition was published in 1897 in Dortmund, and reads for Rheinland and Wesfalen. Christ was born in the state of North Rhein-Westfalia, so it appears to be an edition from that area of Germany.

There is a table of contents which lists times of the Christian year (New Year, Sunday, Advent, Easter, Ascension, etc.) and page numbers with hymns. There are also sections for morning, midday and evening.

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The hymnal’s binding is very tight, so I am careful not to open too far and damage it (see my earlier post on caring for a Family Bible).

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Each hymn has the first verse with the music, and then the following verses without the music. At the end of the book is an index  of composers (translated as song poet, which I LOVE!). I plucked out some of the hymns on the piano, but do not recognize any of them. They appear to be more chant-like (many of the composers were born in 1600s) and not the familiar Presbyterian hymns that I am used to singing.

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Christan Fasel Linnemann with his sister Elizabeth Linneman Speck, circa 1920.

Christian Linnemann was my great-grandmother’s oldest brother. He was born in 1887 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany as Christian Fasel. His father died shortly before he was born and his mother later married Gerhard Linnemann. Uncle Christ never married, and my father remembers him sitting quietly and reading his Bible, or maybe this Gesangbuch. His mother’s religion was Catholic on Christ’s birth record, but when his sister Elisabeth was born, she and her husband were both Protestant (Evangelishes). The Linnemann family came to America in 1904 when Christ was 16 years old.

I am so thankful to have this Gesangbuch. Do you have a special family heirloom that you treasure?

© 2019 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Mamas out there! I thought I’d post a few pictures of moms and kids from our families.

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My mother with her mother, Elise Gegenheimer Haberkern, in Stein, Germany, 1945.
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My father with his brother and mother, Agnes Speck Cubbage, on the North Side of Pittsburgh, 1945.
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My great-grandmother, Maine Swank Cubbage, with her daughters Marian, Marge and Babe, and most likely her daughter-in-law Happy Griffith Cubbage, Monessen, Pennsylvania, 1930s.
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My husband’s great-grandmother, Mary Kelovcy Simko, with children Mary, Susan, Michael and Walter, circa 1930.
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My great-grandmother, Elizabeth Linnemann Speck, with either Agnes (1915) or Frank (1918) in Monessen.
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My great-great-grandmother, Barbara Elisabeth Nilkowski Linneman, with her children Christian, Gerhard, George, William and Elisabeth, in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 1904.

© 2019 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Favorite Photo Friday – Photo Booths!

I was looking for a few old photos and came across these photo booth pictures! They were taken in Asbury Park 1962 of my mother, my father, and his grandparents Mem and Pap (Elizabeth Linneman Speck and Charles Merz). My parents were dating at this time, and Mem and Pap were out visiting from Pittsburgh. My favorite frame is the last one of my great-grandmother!

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Have you found any photo booth pictures in your family treasures?

© 2019 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Uncovering Family Details – Elizabeth Linnneman

Elizabeth LinnemanElisabeth Maria Linnemann was my paternal great-grandmother. She died 53 years ago this week (20 April 1966). I have been thinking about her a lot lately as I’ve been using her as an example of genealogy records in my Intro to Genealogy presentations. I am almost finished with an extensive biography of her, with records and images, but that’s a bit long for here.

When we look into our family history, we often learn things about ancestors that we didn’t know, or that our parents and grandparents didn’t know. What often strikes me about Elizabeth is that she was the only biological grandparent that my father got to know (his other three grandparents shortly before his birth). He called her “Mem” and has shared stories about her, yet there are details about Elizabeth and her family that I have uncovered which my father never knew.

Elizabeth has shown up in some of my earlier posts – stories previously known and unknown about her husband, brother and father. Below are some of the previously unknown details about Elizabeth and her family that I have uncovered and been able to share with my Dad:

Mem was the only daughter of Gerhard Linneman and Barbara Elizabeth Nilkowski. My Dad knew of her brothers that lived in Monessen – Gerhard, George and Christian (Christ) – and has faint memories of seeing “Uncle Christ”. He did not know that she had a brother, William, who moved to Chicago, and that Mem had two brothers who died in Germany, both named Rudolph. My Dad now understands why his Uncle Frank’s middle names was Rudolph.

Mem’s father Gerhard was her mother Elizabeth’s second husband. Her first husband was Christan Fasel, who died a few months before their son Christian was born. Elizabeth married Gerhard within a year of his birth, and Christian was always known as Christian Linnemann. Uncle Christ was Elizabeth’s half-brother.

Mem and her first husband Frank had a third child, Alma Mary, who lived for only one day in 1916. Agnes Elizabeth (his mother) was born in 1915, and Frank Rudolph was born in 1918.

Mem’s father Gerhard committed suicide. This was a complete shock to my father, and he believes it was unknown to many in his family. I wrote about Gerhard’s death here. My dad grew up with Mem, remembered some of her brothers, but had never heard of the suicide. In fact, he didn’t even know that her father had ever been in the U.S. – Gerhard was never mentioned.

Mem graduated from nursing school in 1926, when she was about 29 years old. A newspaper article mentioned that the class of six women had been in training for three years at the Memorial Hospital in the neighboring town of Charleroi, as well as studied at the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. This is an especially notable unknown detail about Mem since her daughter Agnes (my father’s mother) also went to nursing school after they moved to New Jersey. It is unknown how long she worked as nurse, but must have stopped by the time my father was born and/or living with her in the 1940s.

Mem’s first husband Frank had a moving and storage company in Monessen, which my Dad knew about. He did not know that the company ran into some troubles in the 1920s. A front-page newspaper article announced the settlement of a case against Frank and his company. A man was accidentally killed by a railroad rail that was dropped by an employee. The widow received $9000 in the settlement. Two years later, another article reported a man was critically injured after being crushed by a truck operated by Frank. By 1936, there was a notice of a final bankruptcy hearing for Frank.

Even when we feel certain that we know about our family history, it is possible to uncover surprises or unknown details about our ancestors. While none of these were truly shocking family secrets (well, maybe the suicide), the others were unknown details that helps us to understand who Mem was, and how these details may have affected her as a mother and grandmother.

Mem & Pap, Christmas 1958, New Providence, NJ

Mem and Pap (her second husband) were my father’s grandparents – the ones he celebrated holidays with, lived with, and connected with as a boy and then as a young man. The details about her life – both known and previously unknown – are parts of her story. I am thankful for who she was and the family that she raised, including my grandmother and father.

Have you uncovered any hidden details about ancestors – big or small – that were unknown to your family?

© 2019 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.