Sentimental Sunday – Corky’s Birthday!

maybe Cork's birthday - summer 1945 or 1946


Someone had a birthday this weekend! Happy Birthday to my Dad. This is a picture from Corky’s 4th birthday party! Corky is boy on the left sitting in the front, sort of looking around another boy. His brother Jeff is being held by an unknown woman.

Corky’s father was still in Norfolk in the Navy at this time, so he and his brother Jeff, and his mother (Agnes Speck Cubbage) were living on Thelma Street on Pittsburgh’s North Side with Agnes’ mother (Elizabeth Linneman Speck Merz).

Corky's brthday


The photos were not labeled, so I wasn’t sure of Corky’s age or the year. I was able to zoom in on this picture and count the candles … four!! The birthday party was in the backyard of Elizabeth’s house and probably included other children from the neighborhood.

maybe Cork's birthday - summer 1945 or 1946

I love this picture of Agnes looking up while she cuts the birthday cake, surrounded by all of the kids.

maybe Cork's birthday - summer 1945 or 1946

Happy Birthday Day!



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.

My mother with her mother, Elise Gegenheimer Haberkern, in Stein, Germany, 1945.
Agnes, Cork, Jeff, summer 1945crop
My father with his brother and mother, Agnes Speck Cubbage, on the North Side of Pittsburgh, 1945.
Scan of picture
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.
My husband’s great-grandmother, Mary Kelovcy Simko, with children Mary, Susan, Michael and Walter, circa 1930.
image 2011-4-2 0025crop
My great-grandmother, Elizabeth Linnemann Speck, with either Agnes (1915) or Frank (1918) in Monessen.
Linneman (front) around 1904
My great-great-grandmother, Barbara Elisabeth Nilkowski Linneman, with her children Christian, Gerhard, George, William and Elisabeth, in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 1904.


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?


Family Recipe Friday – City Chicken

The women in our families have likely done the majority of the cooking, and many of us have fond memories of a mother, grandmother, or auntie in the kitchen making a favorite recipe. My father remembers his grandmother Mem (Elizabeth Linneman Speck Merz) making City Chicken as a child when they lived in Pittsburgh.

City Chicken actually isn’t chicken, but cubed beef, pork and/or veal on wooden skewers to resemble drumsticks. This recipe may have originated in Western Pennsylvania, and was popular in other areas of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Western New York. Early recipes for City Chicken show up in the 1930’s post-Depression Era. Chicken was costly or hard to find, while the other meats (especially pork) were generally cheaper.

Here is an ad from 1932 for City Chicken from McCanns in Pittsburgh: [1]


My father remembers that Mem made it with pork, veal and beef. My parents have continued to cook this meal today, although they usually only use pork. Here is the Cubbage version (there was no written recipe):

City Chicken
1″ to 1 1/4″ cubes of pork loin (and veal or beef) – put 4 on a skewer
dredge in flour
dip in beaten egg
roll in flavored bread crumbs
brown on all sides
put a grate in bottom of a pot and add tiny bit of water
bake at 400F until the meat is done (not sure how long)- just test it with a fork.

I don’t have a picture of our City Chicken (I will be sure to take one next time we have it!). Instead, here is a picture of Mem in her kitchen – probably when she lived on Thelma Street in Pittsburgh.


[1] “City Chicken” in McCanns advertisement, The Pittsburgh Press, 1 November 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital image, ( : 26 March 2019).


Workday Wednesday – Women in the Census

For Women’s History Month, I will be highlighting different women and/or records of my female ancestors (and my husband’s ancestors too). Today is all about the jobs we find for women in the census. Census records are one of the most valuable resources that we have available when researching our family. Occupations were not specifically recorded until 1850, and in 1910 a column for industry was added, providing more details about where our ancestors worked.

I have learned much about the women in my family though the occupations that were recorded in the census. The most common occupation for women, especially in the 19th century, as well as in rural farm or mining communities, was that of homemaker. The instructions for the 1870 note that “Women keeping house for their own families or for themselves, without any other gainful occupation, will be entered as ‘keeping house.’ Grown daughters assisting them will be reported without occupation.”

1870 Etna CUbbage

In 1870 “Cath” [Catherine] Cubbage, age 50, reported an occupation of keeping house. She was living with her grown and teenage children and was likely separated (her husband William is consistently found living elsewhere). Her daughter Mary, age 20, was working as a seamstress.

1870 Penn Cubbage

In the same year, “Barbary Copige” [Barbara Cubbage], age 35, was keeping house in rural Butler County. Her daughter Sarah, age 15, was “at home” and likely helping her mother.

1870 Burd

Another common occupation for women in my family ws that of domestic servant or simply servant. In 1870, “Mary Bird” [Mary Ann Burd], age 18, was working as a domestic servant with Martha and Isaac Mason in McKeesport, a suburb of Pittsburgh. The Masons, only a few years older than Mary,  would later file an affidavit for Mary’s veteran’s widow’s pension to provide details about her wedding and marriage to Charles Schwenk in 1871 (less than a year after this census).

1880 JCubbage Census

1880 Sara C Middlesex

Sarah Cubbage worked as servant for many years with the Logan Family in Butler County. Sarah never married, and she worked for, and possibly lived with, the Logans until she died in 1902 after falling on some ice. In 1880, Sarah, age 25, was found enumerated twice – once with her parents in Penn Township, and then again with the Logan family in neighboring Middlesex Township. She was recorded as a servant in both records.

I am always happy to see women in our family who have the occupation of at school – especially when they are in the teenage years, since many did not attend school past 8th grade (until into the 20th century). In 1900, Carrie and Hattie Draper, ages 16 and 19, are at school while living with their brother in Bedford County, Virginia. Their father had died the year prior, and the sisters and widow lived with older brother Walter Draper.

Occasionally, I have found women who had taken over a husband’s occupation after his death. Also in 1900, Jane Cubbage, age 72, was recorded as a farmer just a few months after her husband Jacob died. They had a substantial amount of property in Buffalo Township, Pennsylvania, including land that was being mined for oil and gas. Her son John would take over managing the land and farm a few years later.

In 1920, Elizabeth Linnemann, age 54 and also a widow, was found working as a “stuart.” at a hotel in Monessen, Pennsylvania. She was most likely a steward, and could have worked as a waitress or bartender. Her son Christian (here as “Christopher”) had the same occupation and worked most of his life as steward and bartender in local hotels and establishments. Elizabeth lived in the city of Monessen, which provided more opportunities for work than was available for some of my women ancestors who lived in rural areas.

In the 20th century, I have found additional occupations for women – at least before they married. In 1900, Margaret Cubbage, age 26, was found working as a teacher in Allegheny City. Margaret also never married, and spent her life working in education.

Living in a city or suburb provided more options for women to work in clerical occupations. In 1930, the Cubbage sisters were living in the city of Monessen with their parents and siblings. Marian, age 25, was working as bookkeeper at a bank. Marian never married and would have a long career as a bookkeeper (my dad remembers Marian to be the most financially stable aunt, and the first of those Cubbage siblings to own a car). Minnie, age 22, and Gladys, age 19, were working as stenographers at a real estate office and the steel mill. Both sisters would leave these positions after they married. And at this time, mother Maine had an occupation of none rather than keeping house.

I found an interesting “occupation” in the 1910 census. Jennie [Cubbage] Kearns, age 75 and widowed, was living in Pittsburgh with her daughter Jeanne. Both women reported an occupation of own income. Jennie’s husband, William D. Kearns, has been a well-known and successful physician in Pittsburgh. I guess they were financially stable!

I love piecing together the stories of my female ancestors. I encourage to take a look at your female ancestors through the occupations that you find in the census. Do you see changes in each generation? Do the women in more urban areas have better jobs? Did any young widows go back to work?


Census Office, Department of the Interior, “Ninth Census, United States, 1870; Instructions to Assistant Marshalls,” Washington: Government Printing Office, 1870; The United States Census Bureau ( through_the_decades/census_instructions/1870_instructions.html : accessed 1 March 2019).

1870 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Etna, p. 10 (penned), sheet 399B (stamped), dwelling 71, family 78, Cath Cubbage household; digital image, ( : accessed 1 March 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1299.

1870 U.S. census, Butler County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Penn Township, p. 15 (penned), dwelling 115, family 115, James Copige household; digital image, ( : accessed 19 September 2016), citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 132.

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, ( : accessed 13 January 2014) citing National Archives publication M5393, roll 1294.

1880 U.S. census, Butler County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Penn Township, Enumeration District (ED) 52, p. 413B (stamped), p. 10 (penned), dwelling 80, family 84, James Cubbage household; digital image, ( : accessed 19 September 2016), citing NARA  microfilm publication T9, roll 1109.

1880 U.S. census, Butler County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Middlesex Township, Enumeration District (ED) 46, p. 326D (stamped), p. 12 (penned), dwelling 101, family 104, Sarah Cubbage in John R. Logan household; digital image, ( : accessed 21 September 2016), citing NARA  microfilm publication T9, roll 1109.

1900 U.S. census, Bedford County, Virginia, population schedule, Lisbon District, Enumeration District (ED) 11, sheet 12-A, p. 206 (stamped), dwelling 196, family 262, Walt Draper household; digital image, ( : accessed 1 March 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623.

1900 U.S. census, Butler County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Buffalo Township, Enumeration District (ED) 54, sheet 5-A, p. 51 (stamped), dwelling 98, family 100, Jane Cubbage; digital image, ( : accessed 1 March 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623.

1920 U.S. census, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Monessen Ward 1, Enumeration District (ED) 152, sheet 2-B, p. 147 (stamped), dwelling 22, family 38, Elizabeth Lineman household; digital images, ( : accessed 15 November 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 1666.

1900 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Allegheny City, Enumeration District (ED) 10, sheet 1-A, p. 102 (stamped), dwelling 8, family 9, Martha C. Cubbage household; digital image, ( : accessed 1 March 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623.

1930 U.S. census, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Monessen City, Enumeration District (ED) 65-98, sheet 8-A, p. 106 (stamped), dwelling 119, family 163, Charles A. Cubbage household; digital image, ( : accessed 1 March 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication T626.

1910 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Pittsburgh Ward 13, Enumeration District (ED) 450, sheet 4-B, p. 158 (stamped), dwelling 86, family 89, Jennie C. Kearns; digital images, ( : accessed 1 March 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 1303.