Monday, September 5, 2011

Some Johnsons of Tompkins County NY

This is it, the last two newspaper clippings of obituaries that are in my grandmother's collection! I'm amazed I've actually completed a task - I promise I won't let it go to my head.

The clippings have been trimmed of all identifying information and one of them is maddeningly vague about the person on top of that. To my knowledge, these two people are not family members, so must have been friends or neighbors.

I suspect that they must have been related to each other in some way, but I have no proof for that yet. Both seemed to have lived, or at least were buried in the south-eastern corner of Tompkins County, NY.

First we have a gentleman named Royal C. JOHNSON. Annoyingly, there were apparently multiple JOHNSON men with the first name of Royal during this time period (who knew???), but I was able to find my guy in several federal census records, and I also found his World War I Draft Registration Card. So I know for a fact that this Royal was actually Royal Casey JOHNSON.

In the 1900, 1910 and 1920 Federal Census records he was living in Caroline, Tompkins County, NY with the family members named in the obituary. I can't be sure of his parents because that information would have been in the 1890 census. In 1930, the records show him and his wife living in Ithaca, Tompkins County, NY. All these years he was working in a lumber mill, first as a sawyer, eventually by 1930 he was the foreman.

Now, my next JOHNSON is much more mysterious. This is a really frustrating obituary - no year, no gender, no mention of family members. At first, I assumed it was a woman based on the name. Turns out though as I did searches online, Benonia can be a man's name, and is often interchangeable with "Benona". You learn something every day!

I was unable to locate this person for sure in the records I searched (admittedly, it was only an online search in ancestry, rootsweb and find a grave). The person they were living with when they died (William J. Van De Mark) has a name common enough that I wasn't comfortable making a choice.

Oh well!! I will come back to this one day and we'll see what turns up then!

Obituary Text:

Royal C. Johnson
Royal C. Johnson, 63, of the Danby Rd. died Sunday, Apr. 21, 1946, at his home.

He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Pearl T. Johnson; 2 sons, Howard Johnson of Las Vegas, Nev., and Lloyd Johnson of Elkhart, Ind.,; 2 daughters, Mrs. Ethel Yonkin of Ithaca RD 3 and Mrs. Thelma Jones of Ithaca; 4 sisters, Mrs. James Gleason of Ithaca RD 2, Mrs. Daniel Flynn of Ithaca, and Mrs. Charles Quick and Mrs. Edward Fitzpatrick of Detroit, Mich.; 3 brothers, Harry Johnson and William H. Johnson of Ithaca and James Johnson of the Town of Caroline; 6 grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held in the First Methodist Church at 2:30 p. m. Wednesday. The Rev. Henry G. Budd, minister, will officiate. Burial will be in Lake View Cemetery.

Friends may call at the Wagner Funeral Home, 421 N. Aurora St., at their convenience.

Benonia B. Johnson
The funeral of Benonia B. Johnson, 78, who died Friday, March 28, at the home of William J. Van de Mark in Brooktondale, was held at 2 o'clock Monday afternoon, March 31, at the Baptist Church in Brooktondale. Rev. C. I. Swayze officiated. Interment was in West Slaterville Cemetery.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Card of Thanks for Amanda Chesley Simpson (1874 - 1961)

In my grandmother's collection of newspaper obituaries there were a couple of these "Card of Thanks" that the family of the deceased would publish after the funeral thanking everyone for their sympathy. The other one I have was for my Great-Step-Grandfather (and alleged half 1st cousin 3 times removed), Leon SIMPSON. This one below is for my alleged half 2nd Great-Grand-Aunt, Amanda CHESLEY SIMPSON (Leon's mother).

Why all the alleged stuff? Well, there is a family story that Amanda's dad (Alonzo CHESLEY) slept with the younger sister of his wife and that girl had a baby girl (my ancestor). Tough for me to prove at this late date, hence the alleges that abound.

My grandmother and great-grandmother in their many lists referred to Amanda as "Aunt Bird".

I don't have an obituary for Aunt Bird unfortunately, just this Card of Thanks that doesn't even state her name, just refers to her as "Our Mother".

The handwriting on the clipping is my grandmother's.

Frances SIMPSON LEONARD was Amanda's eldest daughter.

Lena SIMPSON WHITNEY was Amanda's youngest daughter (and also the twin of the Leon mentioned above).

Mrs. Leon SIMPSON is my great-grandmother Cornelia AKINS MIX SIMPSON. Leon had already passed away one year earlier.

Jabez and Grover CHESLEY are Amanda's younger brothers. There were 12(!) CHESLEY siblings; after Amanda passed away, only Jabez and Grover were still alive.

Card of Thanks Text:


Obituary of Barbara Jean Mix (1958 - 1960)

I'm closing in on posting the last couple newspaper clippings of obituaries that were in my grandmother's possession.

This one is for my Great-Uncle John's daughter Barbara Jean MIX. Sadly, she died as a very young child.

Interestingly though, the article about her death refers to her as "Waneta Mix". I was pretty puzzled by this since it's not a given name I recognized, nor is it some sort of unusual family name.

But then I remembered 2 things:

1. John's older brother Leslie has a daughter named "Juanita".

2. Journalists cannot be trusted to have good spelling, especially when it comes to people's names. I'm not being insulting to journalists, I'm just stating my experience in transcribing all these obituaries these past months!

So I sounded out "Juanita", and the way it sounds, I kind of get "wah-nee-ta", OR, "Waneta" as the story below states.

Now I'm left with 2 additional thoughts:

1a. My Great-Uncle John called his daughter Juanita as a nickname after his niece.

2a. The journalist screwing up combined with distraught family members resulted in a messed up name in the article.

It's a puzzlement!

Birth Notice, Obituary and Article Text:

A daughter, Sept. 30, 1958 to John and Pauline Mix, Montour Falls.

Barbara Jean Mix, 2, of Montour Falls, Saturday, Dec. 3, 1960. Survived by parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Mix, maternal grandmother, Mrs. Mildred Bush of Montour Falls; paternal grandmother, Mrs. Cornelia Simpson of Valois; paternal great-grandmother, Mrs. Hattie Allen of Valois. Body at Vedder & Scott Funeral Home, Montour Falls. Calling hours: tonight 7 to 9 p. m.; Monday 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p. m. Funeral there Tuesday at 2 p. m., the Rev. Leo W. Dyson. Union Cemetery, Burdett.

Girl Dies on Way to Hospital; Road Hog Delays Ambulance
WATKINS GLEN - Waneta Mix, 2-year-old daughter of Jack and Pauline Mix of N. Franklin St., died en route to the Schuyler Hospital at Montour Falls Saturday at 10:30 a. m.

The child, who was dead on arrival at the hospital, apparently had suffocated.

Irate firemen manning the Glen Fire Department's ambulance complained that a bus loaded with migrant workers would not yield the right of way on the Montour Falls road.

Glen police endeavored to locate the bus driver by assistance from Chemung County authorities. The bus was not halted until it reached Troy, Pa., and as the vehicle had crossed the state lines, the driver could not be returned to Watkins Glen to face the traffic violation.

Jack Irish, assistant fire chief, made the complaint to Glen police. Lloyd Robinson was the ambulance driver. Others aboard were: Medio Simiele, Robert Spencer and Theodore Speechio.

The parents of the girl took the ailing child to police headquarters and the ambulance was immediately dispatched. Mr. and Mrs. Mix reside near the fire station.

Dr. William Tague, as coroner's physician, is expected to file a certificate of death due to natural causes.

Some Simpsons of Schuyler County NY

Well, I'm coming close to the end scanning and posting the newspaper clippings of obituaries that were in my grandmother's possession. Some have been quite a mystery so hopefully with them out on the interwebs some person will come across them and find information they didn't have before.

Today though, I'm posting on some people I do know about, well, one in particular.

So my great-grandmother was always known to me as "Grandma Simpson". She was married to a Leon SIMPSON, but he was her second husband and they did not have children, all her (many) kids were with her first husband, William MIX. He and my grandmother Cornelia divorced in 1935. Their 10 (yes, 10!) kids stayed with him and other relatives while Cornelia moved to Ohio to establish residency in order to get the divorce.

She came back to New York but the kids were kind of scattered around and the story goes that the state came in and said unless she provided a good stable home for them the kids would be taken into custody by the state.

So the story goes that Cornelia and Leon decided to marry. The twist is that Leon and Cornelia were (allegedly) half first cousins.

They were related because Leon's father, Augustus SIMPSON, was married to Cornelia's alleged half-Aunt, Amanda CHESLEY (referred to by my grandmother and great-grandmother as "Aunt Bird").

Okay, so stay with me Aunt Bird's dad, Alonzo CHESLEY, allegedly slept with his wife's younger sister Laura (my great-great-grandmother).

So if that is the case (and right now there is no reason to dis-believe a disappointing family legend like this), that would mean Aunt Bird was half-sister to Cornelia's Mom. So any kid of Aunt Bird's would be related to a kid of Cornelia's Mom.


Secretly though, this is why I love genealogy. It reminds me of how messy and human we all are.

ANYHOO, so for whatever reason, Leon and Cornelia married. I don't know for sure if they were related in any way, but hey, it was the Great Depression and Cornelia needed to make a home for her kids and probably people have gotten married for worse reasons than that.

My grandmother always remembered her Step-Dad fondly, saying he was a nice man. My grandmother had just turned 15 when they married.

So below are the obituaries for Leon, obviously cut out and saved by his widow Cornelia. Also below is the Card of Thanks published by the family after the funeral. Click image to view larger.

Leon's father Augustus's obituary is here:

And finally, here is the obituary for Leon's Uncle Irwin (Augustus's brother):

Sadly, it looks like the 3 of them all died between 1957 and 1960. Also, according to the obituaries, all 3 are buried in Union Cemetery in Burdett, Schuyler County, NY. However, when I go to rootsweb, interments for this cemetery do not list Leon, but do list Augustus and Irwin (and lots of other SIMPSONS)

Maybe there is no headstone for Leon? Maybe he didn't actually get buried there? That will have to be an investigation for another day!!

Obituary Text:

Hector Man, Stricken at Work, Dies

HECTOR - Leon Simpson, 64, of Hector died early Friday morning after becoming ill at his work with the Schuyler County Highway Department. Simpson, a road maintainer with the department for seven years, reported to work as usual but soon complained of chest pains.

He declined to be taken to a doctor or hospital and was taken home by a fellow employee, Joe Barber, who remained with him. Noting that Simpson appeared worse, Barber notified officials at the highway department who dispatched an ambulance and doctor.

(Note - numerous spelling errors in transcription below match original newspaper obituary.)
Leon A. Simpson, 63, of Valois, Friday, April 15, 1960. He was an employe of Schuyler County Highway Dept. Survived by wife, Mrs. Cornelia A. Simpson; step-daughters, Mazie Patrick of Sodus Point, Dazie DeMarco of Ithaca. Ann Donnley of Educador, South America; stepsons, Floyd Mix of Newark Valley, Laurence Mix of Alpine, William Mix of Ithaca, Leslie and John Mix of Montour Falls, Donald Mix of Trumansburg; mother, Mrs. Armanda Simpson of Burdett; sisters, Mrs. Frances Leonard of Willard, Mrs. Weir Whitney of Burdett; 24 grandchildren; several great-grandchildren. Body at Arnold Funeral Home, Burdett. Calling hours: Sunday 2 to 4 and and 7 to 9 p.m. Funeral there Monday at 2 p. m., the Rev. Fred VanZee. Union Cemetery, Burdett.

Leon A. Simpson of Valois. Body at Arnold Funeral Home, Burdett. Calling hours: today 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p. m. Funeral there Monday at 2 p. m., the Rev. Fred VanZee. Union Cemetery, Burdett.

Augustus Simpson, 88, of Burdette RD, today, May 18, 1957. Survived by wife, Mrs. Amanda B. Simpson; son, Leon of Valois; daughters, Mrs. Frances Leonard and Mrs. Weir Whitney of Burdett RD; brothers, Herbert and Irving of Burdett; 6 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Body at Arnold Funeral Home, Burdett, where friends may call Sunday 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p. m. Funeral there Monday at 2:30 p. m., the Rev. William H. Thomas. Union Cemetery, Burdett.

Irwin Simpson, 80, of Bennettsburg, N. Y., Thursday, Feb. 11, 1960. Survived by wife, Mrs. Lillian S. Simpson; daughter, Mrs. Nye Chapman of Cayutaville, N. Y.; brother, Herbert of Valois; two grandsons. Body at Arnold Funeral Home, Burdett. Calling hours: Friday 7 to 9 p. m. Funeral there Saturday at 2:30 p. m., the Rev. Willis Hopkins. Union Cemetery, Burdett.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Obituary of Eva B. Presher (abt. 1897 - 1942)

This obituary is one of the newspaper clippings that was in my grandmother's possession. All identifying information about the newspaper has been trimmed away. Unfortunately, I don't know for sure why this person was in the collection. Many of the clippings she inherited from her mother so it's most likely this person was a friend of the family in some way.

Here is the clipping:

One clue for me is the mention of the town of Waverly. Many of my great-grandmother's half-siblings lived in Waverly, Tioga County, NY (the AKINS family) so it is likely that the connection is through that family line. I am guessing friends or neighbors.

When I searched on I did find someone had posted a family tree that included Eva (and yes, I will contact them to give them a copy of this obituary!) - their family tree lists the same exact death date as this obituary so I'm very confidant it's the same person.

I also quickly found Eva in the 1920 Federal Census in Barton, Tioga County, NY, living with her husband Floyd, and 2 young sons, James and Leon. All these names match the obituary.

If only all my own family line obituaries matched up so nicely like this! :-)

Obituary Text:

Mrs. Eva B. Presher, 45, of Waverly RD 1 died Monday night, Aug. 17, 1942 at Tioga Co. General Hospital. Survivors: Husband, Floyd Presher; daughters, Anna May and Alva, at home, sons, James of Sayre, Leon and Gordon of Waverly, Robert, Floyd Jr. and Wilson, at home; sister, Mrs. Harold Barh of Rochester. Funeral Thursday, 2 p. m. at Kolb Funeral Home, Waverly. The Rev. Delbert Lindsey and the Rev. Judd L. Hunter. Lockwood Cemetery.