Tuesday’s Tip – Collateral Relatives

Burd crop_0001.jpgI have been thinking about William Burd lately. In an assignment for ProGen (peer study group) last month, William Burd was the key that unlocked a family for my second great-grandmother. I knew that my great-grandmother, Maine Swank Cubbage, was the daughter of Charles G. Schwenk/Swank and Marian Burd. Marian was born in Connecticut in 1854-5 and married Charles in 1871 in Allegheny County.[1] I had been unable to find any records for her prior to 1870.

This is where collateral relatives – siblings, cousins, nieces or nephews – can be helpful in opening some locked family doors. Census records for the Swank and Cubbage families included a William H. Burd. My grandfather mentioned that he shared a room with “Bill Burd” as a kid. Could William Burd be related to my second great-grandmother Marian Burd? Absolutely! (or this would be a very short and boring blog post!)

Burd crop schoolAccording to a birth register, William Burd born on 28 February 1894 in Natrona, Pennsylvania, although he consistently used 29 January 1894 as his birthdate.[2] I’ll come back to that date discrepancy shortly. By the time that Bill was six years old, he lived with his widowed Aunt Marian “Mary” (Burd) Swank, as an “adopted son” with her children, Maine and Charles.[3] For most of the next 30 years, Bill lived with Maine Swank, now married to Charles Cubbage, and their children.[4]

Charles and Maine had eight children, and Bill was about 10 years older than their oldest son, Lester. Over the years, Bill was recorded on various censuses as cousin, roomer and boarder. I found a photocopy of Bill’s school record and his photo (above) with some Cubbage memorabilia (I don’t know who had the original). Bill never married and spent most of his life with the Cubbage family in Swissvale and then Monessen. He lived with them when they lost two of their children (Leah in 1920 and George in 1921) and in Maine’s letter to her sister, she mentions how upset Bill was about George’s death, “Poor Bill is taking it awful hard. he don’t cry he just groans and that is worse.”

1942 burd obituary

Bill died of influenza and pneumonia at the Cubbage home in Monessen in 1942.[5] Bill’s obituary lists the Cubbage family as his own, with no mention of his birth parents or other Burds.[6] Bill worked for many years as a foreman at the Blast Furnace at Pittsburgh Steel.

Negative ScansSo how did he help me find my second great-grandmother’s family? For starters, “Burd” is often listed as “Bird” or “Byrd” and I was having problems determining which was our family and which was the correct spelling. In Bill’s death record, Lester Cubbage named Bill’s parents as Alexander Burd and Elizabeth Ryan. Obituaries helped me connect Alexander to his sister Marian Burd, and to four other siblings in Allegheny County. These siblings led me to confirm that their parents were Alexander Burd and Main Bingham. I’ll save them for another post.

So back to Bill Burd’s date of birth – the date that he used, 29 January 1894, was the date of his parent’s marriage, a month before the date of Bills’ birth in the county register.[7] I haven’t been able to locate much information about Alexander Burd and Lizzie Ryan. Alexander was widowed by 1900, but no death record has been located.

Much is still unknown about Bill Burd’s origin and parents, yet it appears that he was well taken care of by the Swank and Cubbage families. His presence in their families led me to his Burd family and opened the door to my third great grandparents, Alexander Burd and Main Bingham!

Have you ever used a collateral relative to help you find an ancestor?


SOURCES

[1] 1870 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, North Versailles Township (McKeesport Post Office), p. 20 (penned), dwelling 137, family137, Mary Bird in Isaac Mason household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 October 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication M593. Also, Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, compiler, Marriage Returns, City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1870-1875, Volume 3, (Pittsburgh: The Society, 1999), 83.

[2] “Birth record index, 1893-1905, to births outside the city of Pittsburgh,” Birth index, A-G 1893-1905, p. 76, William Bird, digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 28 October 2019); citing Allegheny County Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, FHL microfilm 7902608, image 77 of 371.

[3] , 1900 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Pittsburgh Ward 22, Enumeration District (ED) 261, sheet 7-A, p. 270 (stamped), dwelling 102, family 114, William Burd in Mary A. Swank household; digital image, Ancestry.com (httpa://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 October 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 1362.

[4] 1920 U.S. census, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Monessen Ward 2, Enumeration District (ED) 154, sheet 5-A, p. 207 (stamped), dwelling 48, family 89, William Burd in Charles A. Cubbage household; digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 October 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 1666.

[5] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate no. 16957 (1942), William Harrison Burd; Bureau of Vital Statistics, New Castle.

[6] “William Harrison Burd,” obituary, The Monessen Daily Independent (Monessen, PA), 19 February 1942, p. 3, col 6; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 October 2019).

[7] “Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950,” Marriages, v. 28, no. 17754, Ryan-Burd, 29 January 1894, digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 28 October 2019); citing Allegheny County Courthouse, Pittsburgh.

© 2019 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

#52Ancestors: At the Cemetery – Charles Schwenk

 

This is the tombstone for my 2nd great grandfather, Charles G. Schwenk, at Braddock Cemetery in North Braddock, outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The cemetery is also known as Old Braddock Cemetery and Russell Cemetery. Charles died on 12 November 1893 and was buried in the G.A.R. Plot.

Charles was born in or near Norristown, Pennsylvania and enlisted in the Civil War in July of 1861.[1] He served in the 82nd Pennsylvania Infantry in both Company A and Company C, and mustered out in July of 1865.[2] But this tombstone doesn’t seem to be him, right? “Schwek” and “Co. D” don’t seem to match my Charles.

After looking at many records, I do believe that this is my ancestor. First, the stone is newer, definitely not from 1893, as are many of the stones in the G.A.R. Plot. Below is Charles’ Pennsylvania Veteran Burial Card, which was dated 1935.[3]

The information found in this record confirms what I learned from Charles’ Civil War muster rolls and pension records. He mustered out of Company C on 13 July 1865 as a First Sergeant and died on 12 November 1893.

I have been unable to find Charles’ death recorded in a Pittsburgh death register nor an obituary in the newspaper.[4] All of his military pension records, as well as his wife’s widow’s pensions, report the same death date. In the 1890 Pittsburgh City Directory, Charles is living in Swissvale, right next to Braddock.[5] In the 1895 Pittsburgh City Directory, his wife Mary Ann is listed as the widow of Charles G.[6]

In addition, Charles’ wife Mary Ann was also buried at Braddock Cemetery (according to her obituary as there is no tombstone).[7] Many of Mary Ann’s family are also buried at Braddock, including her daughters, grandchildren and nephew.[8]

Lastly, I checked the roster of Company D of the PA 82nd Infantry, just in case there happened to be a “Schwek” veteran who died on the same date and was buried at Braddock. There is no Schwek on the roster.[9]

So with the information that I have compiled from his military records, as well as census records and city directories, I do believe that this is the tombstone for my ancestor and that a mistake was made on the stone a long time after his death. Sometimes when researching our family, we find errors or mistakes and conflicting information. Comparing all records and details can help us come to a conclusion about what is most likely correct.

There is much to write about Charles’s time in the Civil War. I wrote about his marriage to Mary Ann Burd, but there is even more about his life and family when he lived in the Braddock area. Stay tuned for more about Charles.

Have you found any tombstones with incorrect information?


SOURCES:

[1] Muster-in roll dated 27 July 1861, Compiled Service Record, Charles G. Schwenk, Pvt. Co. A, and 1st Sgt. Co. C, 82nd Pennsylvania Infantry; Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations, Civil War; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[2] Ibid., Muster-out roll, Charles Schwenk, dated 13 July 1865.

[3] “Pennsylvania, Veterans Burial Cards, 1777-2012,” digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 March 2019), card for Charles Schwenk, date of death 12 November 1893; citing Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Cards, 1929-1990, Series 1, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Bureau of Archives and History, Harrisburg.

[4] “Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City deaths, 1870-1905,” digital images, FamilySearch (www.https://familysearch.org : accessed 14 March 2019); citing Allegheny County Courthouse, Pittsburgh. No entries found for Charles Schwenk, including variant surname spellings.

[5] R.L. Polk, compiler, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, City Directory (Pittsburgh: R.L. Polk and Co., 1890), 779; DonsList.net (www.donslist.net : accessed 29 March 2018), entry for Chas. G. Swank; citing University of Pittsburgh Digital Research Library.

[6] R.L. Polk, compiler, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, City Directory (Pittsburgh: R.L. Polk and Co., 1895), 892; DonsList.net (www.donslist.net : accessed 29 March 2018), entry for Mary, widow Chas. G.; citing University of Pittsburgh Digital Research Library.

[7] “Mother Dead,” The Monessen Daily Independent (Monessen, PA), 20 September 1927, p. 1, col 1; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 February 2015).

[8] Find A Grave, database and images (https://findagrave.com : accessed 15 May 2019), memorial page for Maine Swank Cubbage (1874-1938), Find A Grave Memorial no. 78041680, citing Braddock Cemetery, Braddock, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Also, Leah F. Cubbage (no. 78041679), George S. Cubbage (no. 78041678) and William H. Burd (no. 78041444).

[9]  “Pennsylvania in the Civil War, Infantry Regiments,” PA-Roots (https://www.pa-roots.com/pacw/infantry/82nd/82dcod.html : accessed 15 May 019).

© 2019 LAURA CUBBAGE-DRAPER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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.

IMG_5808
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.

IMG_5817
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).

IMG_5842

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.

p1000887.jpg
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.

IMG_5920
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.