Sunday, April 10, 2016

Those Family Stories Are Probably True

When I first started doing genealogy back in the last century and started hearing the oral history of happenings, sometimes I didn't really take them seriously.  I was trying to be objective and would record everything down, but thought to myself, well, sometimes things morph over time, or people put their own take onto things and it's just not what actually happened.  After all, we all have played Whisper Down the Lane (which by the way, we just played at dinner this past Christmas and it was so funny!!!  Probably the wine helped!).

So anyway back to the topic.  The thing is, as the years have passed by and I've made discoveries, what they've done is back up the "stories" I heard.  Turns out oral family history can be much more accurate than I was giving it credit for.  Now I will admit, there are still a few I'm holding out on, they are just a little too fantastic, but here's the latest I think I can now believe in:

My maternal grandmother Ann Mix Domelle told me the story of the circumstances around her maternal grandmother's birth.  Her grandmother was born Hattie Elizabeth Kirby.  She was the daughter of unmarried Laura Kirby.  That would be scandal enough back in mid-1800s rural New York, but the real scandal is that Laura had slept with her older sister's husband.  Hattie was the result of that liaison.

A few months after Hattie's birth, Laura died.  Laura was only 17 yrs old.  Hattie was raised by Laura's parents, Samuel and Lucinda (Gibbs) Kirby.  My grandmother told me that young Laura died from a broken heart.

The sister's name was Sarah Jane Kirby - she married Alonzo B. Chesley (the only time I've ever heard the name Alonzo was when watching Little House on the Prairie as a young girl, so that's how I picture him!).  She didn't leave Alonzo after the affair, they had 12 children, 8 of which were born after Hattie was born.

Sarah was the eldest of her siblings, Laura was 9 years younger than her.  Alonzo was 3 years older than Sarah - so he was 30 years old when his illegitimate daughter was born.

There must have been a lot of forgiveness in Sarah's heart, at least I imagine so, because Sarah and Alonzo's 6th daughter, born in 1868, was named Laura.  Her sister Laura had only been dead 2 years.

So after hearing this story, I never really spent too much time researching the paternal line "Chesley" that came from my 3rd great grandmother Laura Kirby, because after all, how can it be proved that she really did sleep with Alonzo her brother-in-law?

Fast forward to today when all this DNA testing is all over the place and guess what?  I have a 5th-8th cousin who came up as a DNA match in and the line that leads to our common ancestor for me is Alonzo's line.
Certainly it's not enough to stand up in a court of law or anything, but it shows me that the oral history passed down to me about Sarah and Alonzo and Laura is more than likely true.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The house that burnt - the Domelle house in East Liverpool Ohio

So this is my grandparents' house burning down - on the front page of the local newspaper, the East Liverpool Review.  It happened the morning of Thursday, December 17, 1953, during a particularly cold morning.  It's amazing that these photos exist!!

I have never had to experience loss like this, I can't imagine.  They lost everything, but they all made it out safely.  As a genealogist, I try not to think of all the family photos and letters lost.  My grandfather told me he had sheets of music that his father had written.  My mom, who was just a little thing, remembers with fondness a little iron stove she had that looked just like one of those old fashioned stoves you see in farmhouses.  All gone just like that!  It was bitterly cold, and the pipes in the pump house had frozen.  My Grandpa said he was trying to unfreeze the pipes, using a blowtorch.  But something caught fire.

My grandparents had built the house themselves, bit by bit, and not unexpectedly, they rebuilt the whole thing right in the same spot!  I find it amazing - my grandfather was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, my grandmother was one of 10 children of an itinerant farm laborer in upstate New York.  Where exactly along the way did they learn how to build their own house with electricity and plumbing and all that!  But that didn't stop them, they just did it!  And when they lost it, they just did it again.  What tenacity!  I raise my glass to both of you, William and Ann (Mix) Domelle!

They sold the house in 1957, that's when these photos are from, I don't have any photos of the 1st house that burnt, they clearly went up in the flames.  So this is the rebuilt house the summer before they sold it.

And my grandparents in front of the house (1957:

And my Uncle Steve in front of the house (1957):

Annnnd, my Mom, my Aunt Becky, a neighbor girl and a neighbor boy on the porch of the house (1957):

Then, 17 years later in 1974, the family traveled from where they now lived in Pennsylvania to Ohio for the marriage of my Uncle Steve and Aunt Linda - and while on the trip, my parents and grandparents (and I) stopped off to take a look at the house.  It was a very good shape!

The first photo below is me, my Grandma, my Mom, my Mom's dog Poochie indicating her feelings on the matter, and my Grandpa.  My Dad took the photos.

And finally, our last trip out to Ohio in 2003 to see the house, again it was my parents, grandparents and me.  The house was still there, and the lady that lived there graciously let us roam the grounds and take photos.  Remnants of the swing my mom, my Uncle Steve and my Aunt Becky used were still embedded in the tree!!  :-)

This is me and my Mom pretending to hold the swings she played on :-)

Doesn't look like the pole that held the swings is going anywhere as long as the tree is standing!

Below is a transcript of the newspaper article for those that want to read it:

Family of Five Homeless after Cannons Mill Blaze

House Razed As Oil Supply Feeds Fire

Parents, 3 Children Flee As Dwelling Is Consumed Swiftly

A family of five was left homeless today when fire destroyed their brick and frame home on the Youngstown Rd. in the Cannons Mill district about 4 1/2 miles from East Liverpool.

Mr. and Mrs. William A. Domelle and their three small children fled from the flames, which apparently started in the pumphouse and spread rapidly through the structure.

The flames were fed by a tank of oil in the basement, firemen said.

City firemen, who received the alarm at 7:25 a.m., said the fire started in an undetermined manner while Domelle was thawing a water line in the pumphouse.

Mrs. Domelle reported the pumphouse fire and then called back in less than 10 minutes to tell the department the flames had spread to the home.

Firemen used a booster line from the pumper to battle the flames but they had spread beyond control.  The Glenmoor volunteer department was called by Chief Charles Bryan to secure more water, but it was a futile attempt.

The family lost all the contents of the home and their clothing.  Mrs. Domelle was attired only in a short-sleeved house dress while the children - Stephen, 6, Deborah, 5, and Becky, 2 - still were in their pajamas.

A pet dog apparently was lost in the blaze, but the family cat managed to escape.

Neighbors said the family moved into the new home about a year ago and still was working to complete it.

The family had lived in a trailer, they said, while Mr. and Mrs. Domelle worked at night to complete the house.  A light was rigged so they could lay bricks at night, the neighbors added.

Neighbors said they understand there is a slight amount of insurance on the home, but none on the contents.

Two neighbors pitched in to help the stricken family.  Mrs. Howard Bomberger clothed and fed the children this morning while Mrs. Robert Boyd provided Mrs. Domelle with a winter coat.

The family is now staying with the Charles Foster family in Gaston Pl.

While one truck from Central Station was on the Domelle fire, East End firemen were called to the trailer home of Joseph Johnston, located at the rear of the fire station, when flaming oil from a heater spilled on the floor..  Slight damage was caused, they added.

The department was called to the home of John Moninger, 710 McKinnon Ave., at 12:13 a. m. today when a motor became overheated.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Scanning Those Negatives

My project this summer was to scan all of my own photo negatives and photos that I’ve had stored away ever since I purchased my first digital camera.  I was under this crazy assumption that I was organized in the storage of my photos, I even had a numbering system, but turns out I don’t know who I was fooling because it was a mess!

Here they all are, and yes, those boxes are full as well:

Ask me how many completely identical shots I have of Cinderella Castle Walt Disney World. 

In the end, I scanned my personal photos and negatives from 1979 through to 2007.  I like scanning photos better than negatives because you get microscopic pieces of dirt on negatives that are easily wiped off of a photo.  

The top one below is the scanned negative, the bottom one is the scanned photo, both un-retouched.  If your photo has kept it correct tones and colors, it's definitely easier to scan it rather than the negative:

Add caption

BUT - having the negatives shows me the order I took the photos which was extremely helpful because often the number order was not printed automatically on the back, and for some reason I put the photos out of order in the photo album.  Why would I have done that?  And then I mixed in other people's photos, ugh it was a mess!  :-)  But it's finished now, whew!!!!

So, everything of mine that was a negative or photo is now scanned, divided by sets of negatives.  Future steps will be to figure out any specific dates I possibly can.  I would always write on the envelope for the photos, but rarely included more than the general month!  Sometimes it said “Spring 1988” or “Disney Photos”.  I wish I had written days on there, oh well!

For now I just have some folders that are filed just by developed date, and yes, I had a terrible habit of waiting months, sometimes years before getting film developed.  What was wrong with me?  :-D

It was amazing to see how far we’ve come with photos – back in the day we mailed our negatives off and waited weeks to get the photos in the mail, only to find our fingers in front of the lens, or the photos were blurry, or you look like some sort of one-eyed over-exposed weirdo: 

What a great shot!  I should totally make this my profile pic!
Now my sister takes thousands of photos in a months’ time.  But I think we value them less now for having so many.  I remember sitting down and poring over my grandparents photo albums.  But as a contrast, today nobody is going to sit and slog through the 12000+ photos we took just last year.

Moral of the story?  Print out a photo now and then!  Give it to your kids so they know how to hold a photo in their hands!  And write the actual DAY it was taken on the back!

Good!  Now get to work!  Next up for me is to scan the box of negatives that belonged to my Grandparents!  Soon, maybe not today though.  :-)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Emigration of the Triebswetter Domelles to the Mid-West

I know I know, is there a more boring title for a non-genealogy person to see?  It sounds like a dry thesis or something but guess what I don't care!  :-D

So anyway, I've made a lot of progress gathering info on my Domelle side in the last couple years, not the least of which has happened quite recently what with connecting with several wonderful cousins on facebook and other social media.  Say what you will about the evils and annoyances of facebook, but I love it for how it has connected me to cousins I would NEVER have had relationships with like I do now.

What I want to share today is details on the emigration of my Domelle ancestors.  These are specifically the Domelle's that source from Triebswetter of the Austro-Hungarian empire.  The town is also known as Nagyősz and Tomnatic, depending on what historical time period and what language you are speaking.  Since the Domelle's were German, I'll stick with the German name of Triebswetter for today.

I put the information together into a spreadsheet because as much as I hate to admit it, spreadsheets are pretty handy!!

So here are my people, listed in the order they arrived: (Click on the image to see it bigger)

So John and Mary Domele came first, looks like her sister was here before them.

Single 18-yr old Nick followed, saying he was going to his cousin John in Evanston, IL, but he ended up living in Philadelphia and marrying there.  Nick's older brother William was just a few months behind Nick, though he went to Bethlehem/Allentown for some reason and not Chicago or Philly!

Once the sisters started arriving, everyone was out in Chicago before later dispersing to Michigan and Indiana.

And I thought it was nice that William went back to go get his sister Lena and bring her over.  I simply can't imagine the fear that families back in the old country felt as they sent their sons and daughters to an unknown land so far away.  No cellphones, no email, you had to wait weeks/months before you got a letter saying how things worked out with the journey.  We have no idea now of what it means to have patience I think.  It looks like sister Anna was with a family from her hometown most of the way to Chicago so she wasn't alone.

There are 2 other living girls in the Domelle family - one did not emigrate as far as I know, she married and stayed in the old country.  The youngest daughter Mary I think came over, but I don't have any documentation to prove that yet, no can I find her in census records here in the US.  It may be a name-spelling issue, we'll have to wait and see. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

I Dream of.....Architecture

I'm horrible at meeting people, I get so flustered at having to actually interact with another human in person that I never remember their names and I forget their face and I'm also one of those people that cannot recognize people outside of where I expect them to be.  If I work with you 8 hours a day every day at work and then run into you at the Home Depot on a Saturday, I WILL walk right past you with no inkling as to who you are.

I also have a brain cluttered with genealogy and historical facts that have over-written things like the name of a person I worked with 4 jobs ago.  Or the name of a person I went to high school with.

I DO have a wonderfully dear friend I've known since high school who remembers every. single. person. she's ever met, their full and maiden names, birthdays, children's names, previous employers, vacation destinations, everything.  I can't tell you how many times I've said to her "Do I know this <insert name here>" and she'll have all this info just spill out.  Sometimes something she says sparks a dim candle, sometimes I just have to take her word for it.  :-)

I'll tell you what my brain DOES store away though....Architectural details.   Yeah, I know, but it is what it is.  It can be both fun and annoying.

For instance, I'll recognize places used in movies all the time from one movie to another.  I always look at architecture, in movies and real life - when I look at a house in real life, I'll immediately see the addition, I'll see the window that was replaced, I'll see the porch that doesn't make sense and then notice where one used to be.  I'll relate it in age to the houses next to it, older, younger, unique, cookie-cutter, what decade and style it was built in.

One example of a place I always notice in movies/TV is this office building that turns up all the time, I notice it because it's a wonderful atrium in the center with beautiful railings and banisters that they just don't make anymore.  I first noticed it in Wolf, but once it was registered in my brain, I then saw it all the time:

When I watch a TV show or movie that involves moving through some sort of building or house, my mind automatically starts mapping out a floor plan, sometimes its annoying because I realize the movie maker did not take that into consideration and it makes no sense at all.

And beyond all that, I actually dream buildings all the time.  The boring events of my dreams take place in houses, mansions, hotels, cities that are unique to my dreams.   Once I even was exploring a haunted abandoned lunatic asylum!  Yeah, I've watched a LOT of horror movies in my life, lololol.

I find it hard to describe the places verbally to others, I can still see many of the dream places in my head, vividly, in technicolor, but when I try to describe it I say, "oh I was in a house looking for some item".  I'm not sure why that is - maybe there is some connection in my brain that isn't clicking together right but it seems so inadequate to use words to describe my places when I should just be able to beam the picture in my head into your head so no description is necessary.

So that's the background for what happened to make me think about all this.

Lately I've been watching this AWESOME new TV channel (MeTV) that shows all kinds of old shows from the 60s and 70s and I've been watching all these wonderful shows showing the AWFUL way everyone dressed and the AWFUL interior decorating, geeeez what were all thinking!!!!

One of my favorite shows of all time that I watched reruns of as a young child was Night Gallery.  Oh how I loved this show!!  During the summer spending time at my Grandparents I would stay up late and watch the show on Channel 17, it came on at 11:30pm after Laugh-In.  I would set myself up like 6 inches from the TV in the living room, lights off (everyone else was in bed), and patiently sit through Laugh-In, understanding about 5% of the jokes, and then Night Gallery came on.  I hear that the shows were originally an hour, but I've only ever seen the half hour cut up version.

So MeTV has Night Gallery reruns on in the middle of the night and for the past year I just DVR them en masse and pop them on whenever I think of it.  I see now how chopped up the shows are since they are cut down, but my nostalgia prevails and I still watch them.  :-)

Another show I just discovered that I'd never seen before is Columbo.  I know, I know, I knew what the show was, I knew who Peter Falk was, but I'd never seen the show before!  I really like it, it's very charming and there's all these guest stars from the 70s who are just fabulous.

So there I was on a Sunday night not too long ago, all comfy cozy and watching Columbo annoy someone and I realize immediately that I recognize the set.  It's from a Night Gallery episode and I know which one, it was the one with Leonard Nimoy, oh Leonard, Rest in Peace.  The next day I went to the interwebs and voila, there's the Night Gallery episode on hulu (yay Hulu!!!):

And here's the same set from Colombo episode "Requiem for a Falling Star", different door to the outside, changed the pillow color on the wicker furniture (the SAME furniture even!!!!) and voila!:

Apparently, the 2 episodes were filmed a few months apart.

I know it's kind of weird, but I thought it was pretty cool that now in addition to real places I can start cataloging in my brain when sets are re-used between shows.  :-)

I might not remember your face or your name, but if you show me a photo of your house or living room I bet I remember that.  :-)

It does help when I'm scanning old family photos and trying to figure out whose living room or whose house it is so I guess I'll keep it as my strange little talent.