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.

#52 Ancestors: Frank F. Speck – My Brick Wall

This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge. The prompt for this week is “Brick Wall.”

My great-grandfather Frank Speck died 79 years ago yesterday – 7 April 1940 – in Monessen, Pennsylvania. I know much about his life in Monessen, yet almost nothing about him before he appeared around 1915.

Frank and Elizabeth in 1915.

Frank was born around 1886-1888 in Germany, although there is some speculation about his place of birth. His death certificate and funeral card both report his birth date as 21 May 1887. Frank married my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Linnemann, in January of 1915. Their marriage license application records that he was a hotel clerk living in Monessen, and he was born in Germany. His parents were deceased but named them as Peter and Agnes (no maiden name). Frank and Elizabeth’s daughter Agnes was born just over nine months after they married. I am fairly certain that Frank was working as a hotel bartender in nearby Manor (Westmoreland County) in 1910.

Frank F Speck

I have yet to locate a passenger record for Frank’s arrival into the US. Three census records for Frank have three different immigration dates (1894, 1904, and unknown). I also wonder if he could have Americanized or changed his name after he arrived in the United States. He used the name Frank Friedrich Speck, but could it have been Friedrich and he went by Frank? Or was his last name Specht or Speckmeyer or something else? I have yet to locate a record that gives the name of a town, or county, or region of Germany. Plus, the borders of Germany had changed so much – could he be from Poland? The 1910 census recorded Frank as “Aust. Polish.”

My father remembers a time when he was young and his grandmother Elisabeth (Frank’s widow) had some papers out. He remembers seeing what would have been Frank’s birth certificate and said something to the effect of “He was born in Poland?” His grandmother put the papers away and never really answered him. I’ve gone through my parents’ pictures and records from my Dad’s family and haven’t been able to locate that birth certificate. My Dad said that his father tossed a bunch of old papers many years ago – ugh!

The Speck Family circa 1927.
The Speck Family circa 1927.

I am hoping that using DNA data and matches could help me narrow down some possibilities for Frank’s family. Unfortunately, my father is the only living descendant of Frank (his son never had any children), so it may take a while or be difficult to weed out other ancestors. Frank’s obituary said that he was survived by a sister in Germany (unnamed). I really need to learn chromosome mapping and DNA Painter (I’ll report on that when I do!).

Another place that I need to research further are Pennsylvania court records. I have found some newspaper articles about Frank and his company, which was involved in some lawsuits, plus a bankruptcy case. I wonder if any of those records may hold a clue or a more specific place of birth for Frank. Also, I need to take another look for local church records in Monessen.

Frank’s origin is still a mystery … a brick wall that I plan to take down a little bit at a time. I’ll keep you posted of my progress.

Which ancestor has you stumped??

© 2019 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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]

The_Pittsburgh_Press_Tue__Nov_1__1932_

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.


SOURCES:

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

© 2019 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Favorite Photos Friday- Art’s Pictures of Agnes

Agnes (Speck) and Art Cubbage, New Providence, New Jersey, circa 1954.

It’s Women’s History Month, and I am highlighting my female ancestors. My grandmother, Agnes Speck Cubbage, died when I was only six years old. These beautiful images of her, long before I was born, capture some of her personality.

My grandfather, Art Cubbage, was the photographer of his family. He wasn’t in many of the pictures – he was usually the one behind the camera. Art took pictures of his family and friends on holidays and at family events, but also around the house and yard. I have already written about his awesome slide collection (which was dated and labeled!). The black-and-white earlier prints were just as wonderful, although these were not labeled like the slides. While Art’s posed pictures of family in front of the Christmas tree were nice, it was his candid shots of his wife Agnes that I love the most.

Agnes 1957

I absolutely love this picture! These mundane, everyday shots of Agnes might seem unremarkable, yet I feel that I know her a little better through these images. Agnes’ expressions share so much about her.

Agnes 1957

I like this one because it shows their kitchen in New Providence in the 1950s. I remember visiting in the 1970s, but some things had been updated by that time. I wonder what she was saying when Art took this one.

This series of pictures isn’t labeled, but appear to be taken in their backyard in New Providence, probably in the 1950s. It looks like something happened after the first two shots and Agnes was going towards Art. This one really shows a more playful side … different from the posed pictures, and so many of the other candid shots of Agnes where she seems more serious.

maybe 1950s

Many of Art’s pictures are of Agnes doing everyday activities … cooking, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper. I love these snapshots of their life together.

Agnes August 1959

This is one from the slide collection. It was double exposed with another image overlaying it towards the bottom. Even with that, I like her seriousness and expressive hands while she is talking. Again, I would love to know what she was talking about.

Jeff, Cork, Ag August 1959 (1)

This serious picture of Agnes was with a series of images of her and sons Corky and Jeff, where they appear to be on a boat trip. I love this picture too!

d February 1960 (9)

Another picture of everyday life … talking on the phone. I can remember where the phone was in the hallway, as well as the one-piece table and chair by the phone (some call it a “gossip chair”). I like the glimpse of their bedroom in the background too.

Spring 1961

Even in this posed shot, I love Agnes’ expression and the way her sons, Corky and Jeff, are looking at her.

d May 1962 (4)

A more serious, pensive picture of Agnes. The red lipstick is a contrast to the simple housecoat.

I am so thankful for all of the pictures that my grandfather took, especially the ones of my grandmother. I wish I had seen them years ago so I could have asked him about them. Lesson learned … ask your family about pictures now so that we aren’t leaving it up to speculation years later!

As you research your family, go through any photos that you can find. Ask your living relatives about the people. Look for those everyday images of your ancestors’ lives.

Did you have an amateur photographer in your family? Do you have any favorite pictures of your ancestors?

Lovely Valentine’s Couples

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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?

001

So no Valentine’s marriages or love letters, but here are some of the oldest pictures that I have of family couples:

c. 1902, Jackson “Jack” Draper and Sarah Pierce in Bedford, Virginia, married in 1894.
1915, Elizabeth Linnemann and Frank Speck, Monessen or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, taken around the time of their marriage.
mary michael
1934, Mary Simko and Michael Petrun, Male Zaluzice, Slovakia, taken around the time of their marriage.
c. 1939, Elise Gegenheimer and Adolf Haberkern, on a date near Stein, Germany, married in 1942.
Agnes & Art
1938, Agnes Speck and Art Cubbage in Monessen, Pennsylvania, married in 1939.

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?

© 2019 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.