Category Archives: Families

Sentimental Sunday: Ellis Island

Every genealogy researcher eventually comes across Ellis Island. For me, my first experience was when my mother started to get me into genealogy. She was researching the Thorward Family. There was a ship manifest from Ellis Island that listed George Thorward. I’m sorry, he was listed as Georg Thorward. To be perfectly honest, there were two manifests. There you’ve dragged it all out of me. One manifest was from 1898 and the other from 1901. Funny enough, both trips were made aboard the ship Southwark. In both trips, his departure city is listed as Antwerp, Belgium. That’s a good clue to keep in handy when I finally start trying to track him in Germany.

He most likely was making trips back to his homeland for some reason or another. That or he was going there on business. I wasn’t even a twinkle in the universe yet, so I can’t tell you exactly. I can theorize though, which is one of my favorite things to do by the way. Ask me next week and I’ll spin you a yarn about his trip home for a cousin’s wedding, or maybe how he was going home for his granny’s funeral. It’s just how I get kicks. As long as I’m not passing these stories down to my currently non-existent grand kids, I figure it’s harmless fun. You should see what I do when there are traffic jams, boy can I spin some yarns with that!

So there’s some sentimental reasons I feel a kinship with Ellis Island. Technically, I haven’t found a single relative that actually immigrated through Ellis Island. All my relatives came before it opened in 1892. In fact, besides George’s trips I don’t think I’ve found more than two other relatives passing through on trips abroad.

Ellis Island Recreation

You probably can imagine my surprise when I found the building you see above. My mother has a little bit of a Christmas Village obsession. Every now and again, Cecil’s Country Store will have a blowout sale. They sell all kinds of buildings for Christmas villages. It’s an awesome place to go and look through. It’s actually an old post office and store from 1906. While Mom was salivating over houses, castles, and other buildings for her village, I ran across one box that said Ellis Island. Then I looked closer and the price tag said $5! Well, I got in the spirit of the moment and just went for it! Sure it’s only a small part of the actual building. Could you imagine fitting a reproduction of the whole thing somewhere? Where would you even put that?

I know it’s not exactly the most meaningful purchase I’ll ever make but it was one of the more sentimental. In the few hours I’ve had it setup on my desk (what a great way to avoid clutter!), I’ve already looked at it and smiled more times than I can count.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Birth Order

Randy Seaver puts up a fun genealogy mission every Saturday night at his blog, Genea-Musings. Here is this week’s challenge!

1)  Pick one of your ancestral lines – any one – patrilineal, matrilineal, zigzag, from a famous ancestor, etc.  Pick a long one if you can.

2)  Tell us which position in the birth order that your ancestor was in each generation.  For example “third child, first son.”  Also list how many children were born to these parents.

3)  Share your Birth Order work with us on your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, in a comment on Facebook, etc.

I chose my Taylor line because it’s the one that goes back the farthest. These are coming straight from the tree my Grandma gave me in eighth grade so I haven’t gotten solid proof on the farther back generations yet.

1. Kathleen Moore (1983- ) third child, second daughter of William and Georgia (Mays) Moore (1 son, 2 daughters)
2. Georgia Mays (1959- ) sixth child, fourth daughter of Stanley and Emogene (Taylor) Mays (5 daughters, 2 sons)
3. Emogene Taylor (1929-2005) sixth child, second daughter of Marshall and Lula (Applegate) Taylor (5 sons, 3 daughters)
4. Marshall Taylor (1892-1958) second child, first son of George and Mollie (Webb) Taylor (4 daughters, 7 sons)
5. George Taylor (1862-1913) fourth child, second son of Marshall and Cecilia (Heaverin) Taylor (6 sons, 5 daughters)
6. Marshall Taylor (1823-1899) first child, first son of William and Nancy (Matthews) Taylor (3 sons, 2 daughters)
7. William Taylor (1797-1849) fourth child, fourth son of Bartholomew and Leah (Staton) Taylor (5 sons)
8. Bartholomew Taylor (1756-1847) first child, first son of Abraham and Mary (Walker) Taylor (4 sons, 5 daughters)
9. Abraham Taylor (1726-1792) second child, second son of William and Sarah (Cooper) Taylor (3 sons, 3 daughters)
10. William Taylor (?-1773?) (4 sons, 2 daughters)
11. John Taylor (?-1748?)

Bartholomew is really the farthest I’ve researched back. He’s the Revolutionary War veteran. What I’ve been trying to do is get the birth, marriage, and death records for these main ancestors before I move on. That hasn’t exactly happened the way I wanted. I had the best of intentions, really I did! William and John, numbers 10 and 11 respectively, didn’t get birth order numbers so I guess they don’t count. I found their siblings names in wills of the parents so I don’t have birthdates for the siblings, therefore I can’t determine where everyone is in the birth order yet.

Thanks Randy for yet another fun little challenge!

Menzies News

The last time I posted about the Menzies family, I didn’t know anything about the members of the family who stayed in England. Only a few snippets I had from some letters between siblings, William and Jane. Using clues from those letters and a marriage record from the FamilySearch records, I think I’m getting somewhere with mapping out William’s life.

On FamilySearch I found a Liverpool marriage record between a William Menzies and Ellen Patterson. At first I was thinking it wasn’t much help, because how could I be sure it’s my guy. Then I remembered the Love-Menzies Family Outline. It has a bunch of Menzies information written at the bottom. At the bottom were a bunch of Walkers and Pattersons. Sure if the wife married in, the Patterson name would be lost. It’s a little too coincidental for me though! I haven’t marked anything down yet, but I’ve made note of the marriage record. My next step was to search the 1861 England Census to see if I could find my William with a wife named Ellen.

Here’s the entry I found in the 1861 census. These are the things I like about it.

  • The age is close and the birthplace is a match.
  • William’s occupation is Mechanical Dentist. Since his sibling was a druggist, I don’t think a dentist is a far stretch for his occupation. Still shaky, but not a big red flag.
  • The children’s names and ages. Both Ellen and William are family names (even matches the maybe wife).
  • This family is living in Derby, England. William’s Letter seems to be postmarked as being written in Derby.

Here is what I don’t like about it:

  • The wife is missing from this census. William is listed as being married. So his wife could be away from home, or maybe she passed away. I’m unsure. The reason I don’t like this is that in William’s Letter, he gives his wife’s love to his family. The letter is dated 1863. So while it’s not out of the realm of possibility, it doesn’t exactly help prove anything either. So this really does nothing for the FamilySearch record or the census record. I’m still left with no real evidence about William.
  • Overall, this is just vague enough to keep me from adding it to my records. I’ve saved the image and made note of this family in my OneNote Notebook to come back to later.
  • The family disappears in 1871. I can’t seem to find them anywhere in 1871. Does this mean William finally made it to America like he hoped? Or maybe he moved somewhere else. Could he have moved to London and that’s where this family comes into play?

Here is a fun fact that has nothing to do with proving anything:

  • When I’m searching in these British towns, I always do a quick Google Maps search of the area to see if the surname comes up anywhere. I figure it’s worth a shot and fun to boot. In Thornhill, I did find a Menzies listed as living there still. In Derby, all I found were the Menzies Hotels chain. I tried to find more about the chain but I didn’t see anything about how and when the business was established.

So this is where I’m at with the Menzies clan right now. I’m holding off on doing any heavy duty research until I’ve finished adding everything back into my good family file. Once I’ve done that I’ll probably order some of the microfilms from the Family History Center to get a little clarification on some of the Menzies children.

William’s Letter #2

After much debate with myself, I’m pretty sure this isn’t a second letter, but the second page of the first letter. I say that because of the context and because there wasn’t an address at the top of this one. So there ya go! Please note that I’m transcribing this as it is written. So spelling and grammar aren’t my fault! :)

click for full size image

Dear Jean, We have our troubles hear as well as you have in America all our troubles seems to come at once. I am very sorry to inform you, that Sister Ellen lost one of her little Boys last Saturday afternoon he died of Dropsey brought on by Scarlet Fever. Sister Ellen is in a sore way about him. There was no person at home but herself. Charles is in Alexandra Egypt and expects to stop there if he can get work he will be very much put about when he receives the news of the loss of his son. I would have gone down to Liverpool if I could off been spared Ellen was to bury him last Tuesday. I want her to come and spend a few weeks with me has soon as the wether gets warmer. I hope she will it will do her good I have forgotten to state in Alex letter that I shall be most happy to receive poor George. Lickeness, God Bless him I sincerely hope he is alive I will make Brothers Jamesh ?? as soon as I have time tell him to write a few lines to me when he as time you will please give mine and my wifes & childrens love to my mother and all my brothers and sisters and receive the same yourself. I will send you and mother a nice present before long you will excuse this short letter has I am afraid of its being over weight. Write soon again and believe me to remain your ever affectionate and loving Brother

W Menzies

William’s Letter #1

I was writing up a post about William Menzies. When I tried to find the entry where I transcribed his letter, I couldn’t find it! It’s here somewhere, but for some reason it’s disappeared and it’s not tagged with the Menzies surname. Don’t worry, I’m going to fix issues like these when I redo the site (which is still ongoing, code is so consuming but I love learning it). In the meantime, I’m going to devote this entry to William’s letter so it’s easy to find. Then I’m going next door to play with the dogs because I think I need a dose of cute.

click image for full size

Depot St Rosehill  (? Could be wrong)

Derby Jan 15 /63

My Dear Sister Jean,

I now avail myself of the present opportunity of answering your very affectionate and ever welcome letter, and at the same time thanking your for sending me the lock of poor Margrets hair which I intend having put in a broch. I am very sorry to hear such bad news from my Dear Friends in America and feel very much for my poor Mother. I wish I was there to comfort her in all her trouble. I expect to come and see you all some day has I am quite sure I will never stay in England all my life as I am quite tired of it, I want to come and see you, and I will never be satisfied until I do come if it is only for a visit for a few weeks. I am happy to learn that Brother John has been doing so very well has to aquire property and will be most happy to hear of his arrival amoungst you all in New York. I supose he is not married yet, let me know if your next if soon is the case

That’s where the letter ends. There’s possibly another page to the letter. This is just a photocopy given to me by my Aunt Diane. There are several more letters also. Possibly more than I have. I’ll post the second letter tomorrow!

Mystery Monday: The London Strangler

The article you see to your right was given to me by my Aunt Diane. Basically, her box of good stuff and my boxes of good stuff came from the same place! So she had a bunch of stuff that she gave me copies of when I first started researching heavily. In fact I think all of my Menzies documents were in her box.

Basically the article states (you can click it to view it full size), ‘Lady’ Menzies and her daughter were found dead in their home one morning. There’s even a bolded part that says “Airports and seaports got the descriptions of a middle-aged man and a handsome bearded young man with pierced ears”. To be honest this sounds right out of a modern paper!

Mystery #1: When does the article take place?

This was actually my first big challenge in genealogy. Trying to figure out when this way. Until I figured that out I wouldn’t be able to figure out who the article was talking about. After a lot of searching in various Newspaper databases, I found over 20 printings of this event. It took place in February of 1954! All the articles were a little different but they all gave mostly the same information.

Mystery #2: Who is ‘Lady’ Menzies?

The victims from the article are at first listed as ‘Lady’ Menzies and her daughter (Mrs Isobel Victoria Chesney). Over the next few days, papers are printing a little bit more. It turns out Mrs. Mary Menzies was the owner of an “old people’s home”. She was known by the name ‘Lady’ Menzies by everyone. She styled herself as Lady because her husband, the late Thomas C Menzies claimed he was the 10th baronet of the clan Menzies. However, peerage officials made an official announcement that despite Thomas’ claims, the title had become extinct. Mrs Menzies daughter, Isobel led quite an adventurous life. Depending on which article you read, police sorted through 3,000 to 4,000 “love letters” to get clues as to what happened. The letters dated back to 1934.

Mystery #3: Did they ever catch the killer?

Yes they did, and it’s a doozy folks! Once I found out the year and month of their murders, I was able to follow up pretty quickly. It turns out Isobel’s husband, Ronald Chesney was the culprit. Police believe Mr Chesney killed his wife to “get her 10,000 pound ($28,000) legacy and marry a pretty German sweetheart”. Five days after the murders Mr Chesney shot himself dead in Cologne, Germany after his girlfriend refused him. Apparently, she wasn’t impressed by his actions. That’s when the crazy details really started coming out. Ronald J Chesney was actually, John Donald Merrett. He was even tried for the murder of his mother in 1927! The jury gave a verdict of “not proven” in that case. Ronald/John was even the subject of a TIME Magazine article in March of 1954!

So what’s the mystery here?

Really the mystery I have is how this family is related to my Menzies family. I have a great clue in Thomas C Menzies and his claim. At first I was worried that the daughter, Isobel, was the Bell Brodie that was sending letters to Jane T Menzies. I quickly realized it was a completely different person. It should be noted that this Isobel Menzies lived in London and Bell Brodie lived in London, just in the 1860′s. So that could still be part of my connection. Also, do we really have that connection to Castle Menzies or did I inherit Thomas Menzies wishful thinking?

Sources

There were many, many news articles on this event. If you really want to have fun, try to NOT find this story in a newspaper of your choice! I’ll list just the ones I have copies of:

  1. 12 Feb 1954. Police Seek Stranglers. The Frederick (Maryland) News.
  2. 12 Feb 1954. Scotland Yard Investigates Double Murday. Ames (Iowa) Daily Tribune.
  3. 12 Feb 1954. British Claimant to Title and Daughter Slain. Bedford (Penn) Gazette.
  4. 12 Feb 1954. Strangler Kills 2 Women in London. Joplin (MO) Globe.
  5. 14 Feb 1954. Love Letters Sifted for Murder Clues. The Daily Independent (Kannapolis, NC).
  6. 15 Feb 1954. 3,000 Letters Received by Slain Woman. Fergus Falls (Minn) Daily Journal.
  7. 17 Feb 1954. Smuggler Added to Bizarre Murder List. News-Tribune (Fort Pierce, FL).
  8. 25 Mar 1954. Two Deaths Said Murders. Fergus Falls (Minn) Daily Journal.
  9. Mar 1954. Not Proven. TIME Magazine. Retrieved online (Nov 2007, Sep 2010): link.

Mystery Monday is an ongoing series I do on the blog, it is also now a GeneaBloggers daily blogging theme option! So let’s hear those mysteries!

Tombstone Tuesday: William L Mays

This is the tombstone of my mom’s brother. He passed away when he was just 2 years old. He left a big impact in the family. Until her dying day, my grandmother was still mourning for the little boy she lost so early in life. I always found it kind of surreal that both of my parents lost brothers so young.

Tombstone Tuesday is a daily blogging topic from GeneaBloggers.

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