Happy Birthday and Happy New Year!

Happy Birthday Pop-Pop! 

 

I love this picture of my grandfather, Art Cubbage, taken on New Year’s Eve 1959. This was probably taken at a neighbor’s house in New Providence, NJ. Art’s mother-in-law, Elizabeth Linneman Speck Merz is on the far left and I believe the other two women lived on the same street. My grandfather was born on December 31, 1912 in Swissvale, PA. Since his birthday was on New Year’s Eve, he always had a party!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year! May you find exciting new discoveries as you climb your family tree!

© 2018 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Throwback Thursday – Pittsburgh!

A year ago this week, I spent a some time in Pittsburgh – doing some of my favorite things in one of my favorite cities! It was a wonderful week of research, conference learning, tours and genealogy friends.

I originally started planning this trip when a genea-friend told me that that the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International Annual Conference was being held in Pittsburgh. I had never attended a CGSI event, but it was a good place to attend one. My husband is mostly Slovak (three of his four grandparents are from Slovakia) and his mother was born in Slovakia before immigrating when she was a little over a year old. I attended two days of the conference and attended some excellent sessions on Slovak land records, Czecho-Slovak history, the Slovak language and more.

The conference offered several tours earlier in the week, and my friend and I attended the “Pittsburgh’s Industry of Our Immigrants” tour on Tuesday. I was very excited for this tour, not for the Slovak focus but because it included places that my father’s ancestors would have worked. We went to the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area in Homestead during the morning, stopped at Penn Brewery on the North Side for lunch, and ended with a coal mine tour in Tarentum.

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It was a cold morning and the fog on the Monongahela River added an eerie effect to the silhouette of Carrie Furnace.

The highlight of this day for me was the tour at Rivers of Steel, especially the guided tour at Carrie Furnace in Rankin, which had been a part of the Homestead Steel Works. My great grandfather, Charles Cubbage, worked in the blast furnace at Carrie when they lived in Swissvale in the early 1900s. It was an excellent tour where we were able to go into the furnace and learn about the iron making process. I always find it extremely moving to stand in the places where my ancestors stood. And to experience the massive size of Carrie was very powerful (luckily minus insane heat of the furnace). Our tour guide, Susie, was outstanding! If you are in the Pittsburgh area, I highly recommend this tour.

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The people in the foreground show the scale of Carrie Furnace.

On Wednesday, I spent some time at Homewood Cemetery in the Point Breeze neighborhood. Homewood is an almost 200-acre cemetery which is absolutely beautiful and well-maintained. I had emailed the cemetery ahead of time inquiring about record availability. A wonderful research volunteer, Richard, pulled records for my Cubbage ancestors and had copies of burial books, headstones, plot records, and other cemetery records for me. He even took me around to the locations of the graves (sadly, many of my ancestors didn’t have any tombstones).

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I went back to cemetery after lunch for a wonderful tour led by Jennie Benford. I had read about the tour through a link to a newspaper article on Homewood’s Facebook page. The tour, “Audacious Pioneers: The Women of Section 14”, was about a handful of women who were laid to rest in the section of the cemetery where some of Pittsburgh’s wealthiest were buried. Walking through this section, we saw amazing mausoleums, obelisks and headstones for names like Mellon, Heinz, Frick and more. Jennie researched some fascinating stories about these women, and quite honestly, I’m so jealous of her job! Homewood also offers other tours, and I highly recommend visiting, especially if you have any ancestors who lived in Pittsburgh. The social history around the city and community was so very interesting.

In addition to researching at the Allegheny County Courthouse and the Carnegie Library, I spent most of a day at the Detre Library and Archives at the Heinz History Center. I had been to the museum part of the center years with my family (they have excellent exhibits and awestern Pennsylvania sports museum), but wasn’t able to get to the library. Archivist Sierra Green had presented a session at the CGSI conference about the library, so I changed my plans and went on Friday …  and I am so glad that I did!

The library has an amazing manuscript collection in addition to vertical files, maps, books and more. I did a few searches with their online catalog, so that I arrived with a list of materials to be pulled for research. I found some excellent information including an oral history, school, tax and funeral home records, and town information held in vertical files. The archivists and staff were extremely helpful, and I will be sure to continue my research there on my next trip.

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H. Samson, Inc. Records, 1859-1982; MSS 0260, Order Book, April 1875-1881; Detre Library and Archives, John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh. Entry for Wm. Cubbage, 13 April 1881.

In addition to the conference, research, and tours, I was able to spend some time with my genea-friends Helen and Ellie. We compared research and resources, shared suggestions, and offered ideas for some roadblocks, and I heard about their amazing research trip to Poland! And one of the biggest highlights was having dinner with my dear friend’s son, who is a freshman at CMU.

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Early Sunday Morning at Union Dale Cemetery.

On my way out of town, I stopped at few cemeteries too … it was a full week! I always love visiting and researching in Pittsburgh!

© 2018 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Women’s Words Wednesday

So much of our history is recorded, remembered, and influenced by the views our male ancestors. But that was only part of our story, and I am fascinated by the words of our female ancestors. I am adding a new blogging category called Women’s Words Wednesday where I will post and reflect on these important words that I have found in my research, in whatever form they arise (letter, photo, document or record).

Below is a letter from Sara Logan to Charles Cubbage, my great-grandfather, about Sarah Cubbage, Charles’ sister. [1]

[unreadable along frayed top edge of letter]
Valencia
Dec. 16, 1902

Mr. Charles Cubbage,
Dear Friend –
Will write you a few lines this morning in place of your parents to tell you that Sarah had fallen yesterday evening and got seriously hurt. It was so very icy, and she had gone to the shed to feed the chickens and was lying there when they found her. Her head pains her awfully and her back hurts her too. The Dr was here again this morning and said there was little improvement on her
[unreadable along frayed top edge of letter]
be no change for 48 [?]
She just lies and seems to be sleeping and does not seem to notice any one. Charlie I think poor Sara is quite [unreadable] your Father and Mother are so worried but I know Charlie you will come out if you can and if you do not come out the [unreadable, possibly “next word you” ??] that Sara will be better and fully recovered again and a marked improvement from her present condition.

From,
Sara Logan

Sadly, Sarah Cubbage died on Christmas Day, ten days after her fall. She was 45 years old. I do not know if Charles ever traveled the 30 miles from Swissvale to Penn Township in Butler County to visit his sister before she died. At this time in 1902, only Sarah and her brother James L. were still living at home with their parents – their five brothers, including Charles, had all left Butler County.

But who was Sara Logan? And why did she write the letter “in place” of Charles’ parents, James and Barbara Cubbage? Sara mentioned how worried they were and that her brother should “come out if you can”. Were James and Barbara too distraught to write the letter? These are questions I most likely won’t know the answers to, but get me thinking about the role that women played during a tragedy.

Sarah Cubbage, who never married, worked for many years as a servant in the home of John R. Logan. I am fairly certain that Sara Logan was connected to this family – either a relative of John, or possibly the spouse of one of John’s sons. Sara Logan wanted Charles to travel to see his sister, yet she seemed to stay positive at the end of the letter, hoping that Sarah will be “better and fully recovered.”  What was it like for her to be the bearer of bad news? Did she reach out on her own, or at the request of the parents? And since Sarah Cubbage didn’t survive, did Sara Logan need to write another letter to  Charles, and possibly the other brothers, to let them know about her passing? Or did Sarah’s parents James and Barbara send a letter?

Sarah’s obituary reported that “her death was made harder to those who loved her best by her continued promise of recovery”[2] making it appear that she was improving before she died. It also mentioned that she had for many years “remained in the home of Mr. John R. Logan, deceased, and where she was loved and will be mourned deeply” suggesting a close relationship with the Logan family. The obituary also notes that her brothers in Montana and Washington were unable to attend the funeral, leading me to believe that Charles made the trip from Swissvale to Penn Township.

Sara Logan’s letter to Charles, as well as Sarah Cubbage’s obituary, were found tucked inside of the Cubbage Family Bible, originally owned by her parents, James and Barbara.[3] I’m thankful for Sara’s words that convey part of Sarah’s story.


SOURCES:

[1] Sara Logan (Valencia, Pennsylvania) to “Mr. Charles Cubbage”, letter, 16 December 1902. Privately held by the author.

[2] “In Memoriam,” undated clipping from unidentified newspaper, citing death of Sarah Cubbage on 25 December 1902 in Penn Township, Pennsylvania; privately held by the author.

[3] James and Barbara Cubbage Family Bible, The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1870); privately held by the author.

© 2018 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.