Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

Archives, Labels (tags), and other links appear at the bottom of the page.

Content at Before My Time is protected by copyright and may not be copied for publication elsewhere without permission. © T. K. Sand.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Detroit's Tribulations, 1945-Style

My earliest Detroit ancestors, great-great-great grandparents Johann and Maria Wolfschlager and their family, arrived at the Port of New York on August 16, 1845. Consequently, they were not listed in James H. Wellings' 1845 Directory of the City of Detroit.  Nevertheless, the front matter in this directory--Wellings says it was only the second ever published--provides an interesting contemporary picture of the city they would soon arrive in.

My tenth grade history teacher, Mr. Oglesby, posted a Santayana quotation on our classroom door: "Those who learn nothing from history are doomed to repeat it." And while I must admit I really didn't learn a whole lot of history, Santayana's piece of advice (along with the Oglesby concept of a double entendre) has certainly stuck with me though the years. It came to mind as I read Wellings' Preface, in which he also shared a quotation: "They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare." Apparently Detroit was not without its share of troubles even in the early days.

Really, it's too bad Kwame Kilpatrick didn't have Mr. Oglesby for history class.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mapping Detroit Ancestors

I spent yesterday afternoon mapping my Detroit ancestors. This was my process:
  1. I first created a legend for the map. I determined which surnames I wanted to map and chose a color for each one. Under each surname, I listed the addresses chronologically. I used a city directory street guide to determine which cross-streets an address was between.
  2. Working from the legend, I marked each address on the map with a dot. For this job, I thought it would be pretty easy to use a period from large heavy font (I chose Bauhaus 93) at the 72-point size. I changed the color of the font as needed to match the dots to the surnames on my legend. (If I had put each color, i.e. each surname, on a separate layer, I could later drop out unnecessary dots if I want to feature, say, only the Hauer addresses, by making a layer temporarily invisible. I forgot to do it that way, though, so all my dots are on the same layer, darn it.)
  3. I saved the map as a Paint Shop Pro file, thus maintaining the ability to make adjustments to the map later if I so desire. I also saved a separate copy as a JPG file. Below is a detail from the map, along with a quick-&-dirty screen shot of the legend. It's a work in progress!

My map may not be perfect. I encountered a few problems. For one, in addition to the change in street numbering which took effect 1 Jan 1921, Detroit had some earlier changes also, not only to address numbers but in some cases even the street name was changed. I used an 1898 map which I pieced together from the 1898 city directory online. There were changes to the map over the years which, of course, are not reflected on the map. For example, when I marked the location of George Corneilson's ice cream parlor on Jefferson near Lycaste, I had to estimate its placement because Lycaste did not exist on the 1898 map. And I need to make some adjustments to my legend. All in good time!

Meanwhile, here's the map I used. It's a fairly large file (7.1MB) and measures 6563 x 5033 pixels. I looked into getting it printed and it would be in the $50-60 price range for a size about 3' x 4'. The printer wasn't sure it would print clearly, nor was he sure the street names would be large enough to read. However, I tried printing a section blown up to about the right size and found that the street names were legible, albeit tiny. My original idea was to tack the enlarged map to a bulletin board and mark all my significant places with little flags, but I couldn't bear the thought of poking holes in a $60 map, so I told the printer I'd reconsider printing after I've marked my significant places right on the map. (I do hope his estimate was for a color print!)

To download the map for your own use, right-click and select View Image, then right-click again and choose Save Image As and navigate to the folder where you want to save it. (No, my ancestors' homes are not marked on this copy!)

 You may also find it helpful to have this explanation of Detroit's house-numbering system:

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Detroit City Directory Research Aid

As a family history researcher with Detroit roots, I'm really happy to have access to the very extensive set of Detroit city directories available at And I'm sorry to add a but, but it's not comprehensive. I've spent way too much time waiting for a directory to load, only to discover the pages I need are missing, and it's happened often enough that I finally decided to make a reference list to post on the bulletin board next to my desk. The list is a single page PDF. You can download it below.

I've already started to add personal time-savers to my list. For example, under the 1920 entry, I've noted "Hauer 727" so I can go straight to that image in the H surname section next time. It also gives me a clue about what image number to try when I start looking for another surname. Further, by comparing the total number of images for the next year's directory, I can estimate what image number to start searching there.

I wish I'd thought of this years ago!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Researching in the Detroit City Directories

Some time back, I posted the residential chronology of Evelyn Hauer Kerr as she remembered and wrote it in a notebook in 1943. Today, with the help of the Detroit city directories online at, I'm going to fine-tune her accounting of the years from 1911 to 1920.

I chose to begin with 1911 because this story is not just about Evelyn, but about the Scheele family as well, with whom Evelyn's story intersects.

Evelyn turned 17 on April 1, 1911. She lived with her family at 116 Townsend Avenue. George T. Corneilson, her step-father, worked as a molder at the stove works. The manufacture of stoves was an important industry in Detroit, and George had started work at Michigan Stove Company by the time he was sixteen in 1886. He continued to work as a molder until about 1915, when he was no longer listed as such in the city directories.

Evelyn had her own listing in the city directory in 1911 and subsequent years. She was working as a cashier, and directories from 1911 through 1913 indicate she boarded at 116 Townsend with her mother, stepfather, and half-sister Marceline.

In 1911, Jacob H. Scheele was listed in the Detroit city directory as a confectioner living and working at 631 Mount Elliott. There was nothing at all listed for 443-447 Concord Avenue. But in the 1912 city directory, Jacob H. Scheele was listed at 443-447 Concord, along with the (presumably new) Odeon Theatre (odiously misspelled Odion in this edition of the directory). Jacob and his wife, Elizabeth Mary Cawthorne, were the parents of three little girls by then: Aileen (born in 1904), Marguerite (born in 1906), and Felice (born in 1908).

The Scheele family lived at this address on Concord Avenue, between Kercheval and St. Paul, for about ten years. They were enumerated there in the 1920 census, in which Jacob was listed as the manager and owner of the Odeon.

By 1922, Jacob had gotten out of the theatre business and was breeding poultry on the north side of Windemere Avenue in Royal Oak, as shown in this entry from the Royal Oak city directory that year:

In Evelyn's residential chronology, she wrote, "1922 - July 19 - Moved to Room over Odeon Theatre - with Mrs. Scheele - on Concord (445)." I'd noted in my earlier post that she probably meant 1912. But I now find it was not until the 1914 city directory that she was listed at the Concord address.

Oddly, however, the 1913 city directory had a new listing for Evelyn's mother:
Corneilson, Eliz, Mrs, confr [confectioner], 445 Concord av, h 116 Townsend av
Elizabeth Corneilson's listing continued in the 1914 city directory, the same edition in which Evelyn's read thus:
Hauer, Evelyn, cashr, bds 445 Concord av
Meanwhile, a few miles to the east, also in the 1914 city directory, a new listing appeared at 2605 Jefferson near Lycaste, across from Joseph Platte & Sons grocery store. The new listing was for the (presumably new) Plaza Theatre. Prior to 1914, there'd been no listing at all for 2605 Jefferson.

What makes the Plaza Theatre interesting to me is this listing in the 1915 city directory:
Corneilson, Geo T, confr, 2607 Jefferson av, h 1116 [sic] Townsend av
Retired from his career as a stove molder, Evelyn's step-father opened a business as a confectioner next to the Plaza. His wife's listing as a confectioner at the Odeon Theatre address disappeared from the city directories at this point, as she probably transferred her services over to her husband's business.

The Plaza Theatre, 2605 Jefferson
Above the hood of the car, you can see a curved line of print. 
You'll have to trust me on this: it says G T CORNEILSON 
and the straight line below it says CONFECTIONER.

Evelyn was also listed in the 1915 city directory:
Corneilson, Evelyn, clerk, b 116 Townsend av
To my knowledge, Evelyn didn't use Corneilson as her surname, so I'm not sure how it happened to appear that way in the city directory, and I'm not sure her address is correct in this entry either, because the next year, in the 1916 city directory, she was listed back at the Scheele family's address:
Hauer, Evelyn, cash, b 445 Concord av
I can't imagine that she would have moved out and then back to the Concord address, nor did she suggest anything of that sort in her residential chronology. I believe the 1915 listing is incorrect. In any case, Evelyn married Rosmer P. Kerr on 12 June 1916 and left the Scheele home to live with her husband at his mother's address, 525 Crawford. And then, according to her notes, she and Rosmer moved on 15 December 1916 to a place of their own on Dragoon.

In the 1917 city directory, both Evelyn and Rosmer were listed, as was Rosmer's mother, Kate Pettis Kerr:
Kerr, Evelyn, cash, b 115 Dragoon av
Kerr, Kate E Mrs, h 525 Crawford av
Kerr, Rosmer P, polisher, h 115 Dragoon av
Evelyn had remembered that address as 111 Dragoon rather than 115. Whatever the address, a far more significant point for her was that it was here that she lost her first baby.

From 1917 through 1919, George Corneilson's listing read:
Corneilson, Geo T, confr, 2607 Jeff av h 116 Townsend av

In mid-September 1917, Rosmer and Evelyn moved to 1079 E. Jefferson. From the 1918 city directory, we have:
Kerr, Rosmer P, stock tracer h 1079 Jeff av 
On 21 March 1918 while living at that address, Evelyn gave birth to her second baby, Mary June Kerr. Mary June lived only two days. Around the first of May, Rosmer and Evelyn moved to 1077 E. Jefferson (upstairs).

"Our Jefferson Ave. Home" was the caption Rosmer gave the photo above in his album, and the one below he identified as "The inside." He didn't identify the girl in the picture, but it may have been Evelyn's cousin Josephine, who would have been in her early teens at that time.

The 1919 city directory entries indicate that Rosmer's mother lived with them on Jefferson:
Kerr, Kate (wid Milton E) b 1077 Jeff av
Kerr, Rosmer P stock tracer h 1077 Jeff av
(Essentially, the h indicates that this home was headed by Rosmer, and the b indicates that Kate boarded there. In the old city directories, you find adult children who are still living at their parents' home (or in this case, vice versa) listed as boarders. I don't think this necessarily meant that they were paying rent, only that they were not the head of the household.)

  In 1920, television was still decades away. For entertainment,
there were about 150 movie theaters in Detroit. (click to enlarge)
Today there are only two operating movie theaters within the city limits.*
The 1920 city directory indicates that, while Jacob Scheele continued to run the Odeon Theatre, George Corneilson moved his business from the Jefferson address adjoining the Plaza Theatre to Park View Avenue, which was about a mile closer to the center of Detroit and to his home on Townsend,  just off Jefferson. The Kerrs continued to live at their Jefferson address, about a quarter-mile west of Mount Elliott, until the first of August:
Corneilson, Geo T, confr 1280 (old no. 286) Park View av, h 534 (116) Townsend av
Kerr, Kate, slsldy, Ernst Kern Co, b 2413 ( 1077) Jeff av [2413 is incorrect, it was 3413]
Kerr, Rosmer P, buyer, h 3413 (1077) Jeff av
Scheele, Jacob H, prop Odeon Theatre, h 1805 (445) Concord
One of my reasons for addressing this topic today is that I would like the charming photo of the Scheele girls shown in this post to find its way to a Scheele descendant. The original, kept by my grandmother, is now in my possession and, while it is not in the best of condition, I believe there may be someone who would like to have it. The scan does not do it justice, especially after being resampled for on-screen display. In any case, if you are a descendant of one of these little girls, I invite you to use my Contact form to let me know of your interest in having the original photograph, and please tell me how you are related.

And for my genealogically inclined friends who have Detroit ancestors, I've created a PDF which will help you navigate more quickly through the online version of the 1920 Detroit City Directory. In 1920, Detroit's street addresses were renumbered, and this edition of the city directory shows both the old and the new address numbers. The Stoves and Furnaces article above is also from this city directory. Furthermore, this was the 50th Anniversary Edition. I found the Dedication and Introduction to be worth reading, and was interested to see that a photograph of R. L. Polk (Ralph Lane! Who knew?) was included. Those pages are included in the downloadable PDF below, along with the General Index, the Index to Miscellaneous, and the Index to Advertisers.


*Hallman, Philip and Nicole O. Scholtz. "Mapping the Motor City's Cinemas: A Collaborative Digital Humanities Project." ALA Association of College and Research Libraries, April 2013.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hower Family of Kentucky: A Photo Identification Project

Harry Reid Bright, great-grandson of Peter Hower of Shelbyville, Kentucky, donated some very interesting family photos to Kentucky Historical Society's Ohio River Portrait Project (click to see the photos; all but the last one on the page were donated by Mr. Bright).

The most exciting one for me was a large group photo he identified as the Hower family. There are 41 people in the photo, but Harry only identified two: his father Harry Hower Bright (1897-1951) and his father's sister. He did not identify the sister by name, but based upon family tree information, I believe it would have been Annette Bright (1905-1984). This brings up an important question about the date of the photograph. On the Kentucky Historical Society website, the date of the photo is said to be 1903. However, that date may have been estimated, either by Harry or by someone working on the photo project, and if Harry is correct about the little girl, the date of the photo would have to be later, probably about 1907 or 1908. It appears to have been taken in the summertime, and may have been a celebration of Peter Hower and Martha Jane Neale's July 3rd wedding anniversary.

I am hoping to identify many more Hower family members in this photo with help from my readers. To that end, I've given a number to each person in the photo, and I ask that if you recognize someone in this family portrait, please click to use my Contact form to correspond with me privately about it, and please include your email address so I can reply to you if I have questions because, no doubt, I will! And I'll want to thank you profusely!

As I get more information, I will add it to the identification list below the photo.

To view the photo larger, right-click on it and select View Image. Click again to enlarge.

10. Annette Bright (1905-1984), identified by her brother's son Harry Reid Bright.
15. Peter Hower (1829-1908), tentatively identified by TK Sand based upon the title of the photo (Hower Family Photograph, Shelbyville, KY), the approximate date of the photo, the fact that Peter Hower and Martha Jane Neale were the senior members of this family and these two people appear to be the eldest people in the group and are positioned in the center of the group, and the fact that the size of the group is fairly close to the number of Hower descendants who would have been living at the time of the photo. If this identification is correct, the photo can be dated no later than 1908, because Peter died on December 14th of that year.
16. Martha Jane (nee Neale) Hower (1844-1913), tentatively identified by TK Sand based upon the title of the photo (Hower Family Photograph, Shelbyville, KY), the approximate date of the photo, the fact that Peter Hower and Martha Jane Neale were the senior members of this family and these two people appear to be the eldest people in the group and are positioned in the center of the group, and the fact that the size of the group is fairly close to the number of Hower descendants who would have been living at the time of the photo.
18. Harry Hower Bright (1897-1951), identified by his son Harry Reid Bright.
19. Clifton Fleming Bright (1863-1949), tentatively identified by TK Sand based upon visual similarity to a photo of Clifton and Margaret Bright identified by their grandson Harry Reid Bright.
30. Sarah Margaret (nee Hower) Bright (1869-1944), tentatively identified by TK Sand based upon visual similarity to a photo of Clifton and Margaret Bright identified by their grandson Harry Reid Bright.
31. Peter Hower Jr., identified by his grandson Gilbert Morrison Ellis.
32. Martha Ann "Mattie" (nee Smith) Hower, identified by her grandson Gilbert Morrison Ellis.

As a finding aid to bring interested search-engine users to this page, I'm including a list below of Hower family members (with estimated age in 1908 in parentheses) who may appear in this photo. Or they may not! I don't know! But I hope we'll find out someday.

Dr. Thomas Jefferson Hower (46), his wife Amanda Stivers (43), daughter Anna M. Hower (20)

Mary Ann (Mollie) Hower (44), her husband Stephen Boulware (44), daughter Maymie Starling Boulware (19)

Allene Hower (18), Bernice Hower (16), Pryor Campbell Hower (9) -- their parents were present and are already identified

Raymond W. Bright (5) -- his parents and siblings were present and are already identified

Minnie Belle Hower (36), her husband Octavius Newton Banta (42), daughter Lucille Banta (14), daughter Isabelle H. Banta (12), son James Newton Banta (9)

James Samuel Hower (34), his wife Achie Anna Wilborn (30), daughter Leone Kincaid Hower (11), daughter Phyllis Hower (9), son Carl Ridgeway Hower (7), daughter Margaret Elizabeth Hower (3)

Henrietta Todd Hower (32), her husband Erasmus Brent Banta (34), daughter Grace Banta (13), son Peter Ralph Banta (9), daughter Annabell Banta (7), daughter Virginia Banta (4), son Neale Wilson Banta (b. Jan 1907)

Georgia Hower (28), her husband John Kapp (43), and possibly John's brother Peter Kapp (33)

John William Hower (25), his wife Mary Bell Wood (22) -- they were married 7 April 1908.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Bit of the History of Peter Hower's Home

From "The Independence Examiner" of Friday, June 14, 1929:

"On November 17, 1803, Nancy Tyler was married to Jesse Holmes, son of James Holmes, a Virginian who had served as an officer in the American Revolution, and later moved to Shelby County, Kentucky. To them were born three sons and six daughters....

The old home of the Holmes family which emigrated to Missouri is still standing in Shelby County. It is a brick house occupied by the family of its late owner, Mr. Peter Hower, being located about four miles north of Shelbyville. A private burial ground of the Holmes family still remains on the property, and a number of the early pioneers are buried there."  ~ Mary Ethel Noland

(Miss Mary Ethel Noland, 216 North Delaware, Independence, says her "most interesting ancestor is Nancy Tyler Holmes, her great-grandmother. Mrs. Holmes was also the great-grandmother of a President of the United States, Harry S. Truman.  ~ "Jackson County Historical Society", Fall, 1967, pages 8-9.)

I don't know the address of this house, but I wonder whether it's still standing, whether it's still owned by a Hower descendant, whether there are any photographs of it, and whether it's visible in a Google Maps satellite view.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Some Boulware and Hower History

Stephen Donaldson Boulware.—Numbered among the prosperous and progressive citizens of Shelbyville is Stephen D. Boulware, who is actively identified with the promotion of the agricultural interests of this part of Shelby county, having the supervision of his two valuable farms, which he rents. A son of Thomas Lewis Boulware, he was born October 27, 1864, in Shelby county, on his father's farm, which was located nine miles north of Shelbyville and two and one-half miles southeast of Eminence. His paternal grandfather, Ramsey B. Boulware, a farmer near Frankfort, Kentucky, was born March 27, 1785, and died July 24, 1843. He married December 5, 1805, Lucy Ford, who was born June 26, 1782, and died December 23, 1847. Their family consisted of six sons and four daughters, none of whom are now living.

Thomas Lewis Boulware was born in Franklin county, Kentucky, near Frankfort, January 6, 1814, and died in Shelby county, Kentucky, July 9, 1868. Beginning his career as an independent farmer soon after his marriage, he located in Oldham county, his last residence in that county having been near Westport, on the river. From there he moved with his family to Campbellsburg, Henry county, where he lived several years. Coming to Shelby county in 1858, he bought land two and one-half miles southeast of Eminence, and from that time until his death was engaged in cultivating the soil, carrying on mixed farming. He was a natural mechanic, and as a young man worked at his trade of a wagon maker. He was a man of high moral principles, successful in business, and was held in high esteem throughout the community. He was never active in public affairs, but was for many years an elder in the Baptist church. On September 14, 1841. he was united in marriage with Elveree Corbin, who was born in Bourbon county, Kentucky, August 15, 1821, and died on the home farm, near Eminence, December 25. 1895. Her father, Lewis Corbin, who was born February 10, 1791, and died October 8, 1838, married Malinda Hardwick, whose birth occurred February 21, 1790. Of the thirteen children born of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Lewis Boulware, seven grew to years of maturity and were living in March, 1911.

The twelfth child in succession of birth of the parental household, Stephen Donaldson Boulware, grew to man's estate on the homestead, and eventually became the main dependence of his widowed mother. He assisted her in the management of her affairs, looking after the farm and helping her raise four of her grandchildren, and tenderly caring for her in declining years. After his marriage, Mr. Boulware bought a farm situated two miles south of Eminence, in Shelby county, and was there a tiller of the soil for eleven years. Disposing of that property, he bought land at Chestnut Grove, nine miles north of Shelbyville, on Smithfield pike, which he operated as a general farm for a number of years, being very successful in its management and making it one of the best improved and most desirable estates in the vicinity. This farm of one hundred and ninety-one acres he still owns, and likewise has title to a farm of one hundred and thirty-six acres lying six miles from Shelbyville, both of which he rents, receiving a good annual income from the rentals. While living on the farm Mr. Boulware made good use of his time, money and land, raising not only grain and tobacco, but stock of all kinds, including hogs and horses, carrying on his operations on a very safe basis and accumulating considerable wealth. He has lived in Shelbyville since 1908, having a cozy little home on Bland avenue. He affiliates with the Democratic party, but is not an active politician. He was reared in the Baptist faith, but both he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church.

Mr. Boulware married, February 10, 1887, Mary A. Hower, who was born near Pleasureville, Henry county, twenty-two years before, and had lived there until three years previous to her marriage. Her father, Peter Hower, who was born in Luxemburg, Germany, July 16, 1829, emigrated to America in 1851, and after living in New York City for two or three years made his way to Newport, Kentucky. Subsequently buying land in Henry county, not far from Pleasureville, he improved a fine farm. Coming from there to Shelby county about 1876, he was the first to make a specialty of tobacco growing in this part of the state, the productions of his fields becoming well known and in great demand in the tobacco markets. A man of characteristic German thrift and honesty, he won the confidence of the community, his word being as good as his bond, and his death, December 14, 1908, was a cause of general regret. He was a Democrat until the question of Free Silver arose, when he joined the Republicans. Both he and his wife, whose maiden name was Martha Jane Neale, were members of the Methodist Episcopal church.

Three sons and one daughter have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Boulware, and of these children the daughter, Maymie Sterling, a school girl, is the only survivor. Maurice Donaldson, the first-born, died at the age of nineteen years, while a student at Central College. Maddox Neale, the second son, lived but sixteen months. The youngest child, a boy, died in infancy.

Johnson, E. Polk. A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians: The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co, 1912. <>

Johnson, E. Polk. A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians: The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities, Volume 3. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1912.  (Google eBook)

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Surname: Christman

My maternal grandmother's maiden name was Hauer. Her great-great grandmother was:
  • Anne Marie Christman of Berdorf, Echternach, Luxembourg, who was born probably about 1775. Anne Marie married Pierre / Peter Hauer, probably between 1798 and 1799. Together they had at least ten children. Peter died 26 August 1839 and Anne Marie died 29 March 1827, both in Berdorf. They were my fourth great-grandparents.
Records indicate that the mother of Pierre Hauer's first son Clemens, who was born in January of 1798, was Catharine Christman. His second son Theodore (my third great-grandfather) was born 29 September 1799 to Anne Marie Christman. One possible scenario, as yet unproven, is that Catharine died, leaving Pierre with an infant to raise, and he then married Anne Marie, who may have been Catharine's sister. More research is needed.

Click on the "hauer" label below to find other posts about this family.

Nicolas Petit's Military Document: A Translation Project

I've been working on the Milice Nationale document I wrote about earlier this week. Depending upon Google Translate for a line-by-line translation, I think I may have been slightly off in my earlier assessment. I now have the impression that Nicolas Petit actually was in the Militia at the time this document was created, and that this may be a discharge rather than an exemption. The last line, which includes handwriting that I can't decipher, is probably the most important in figuring this out. Maybe someday a French-speaking person will happen along and be able to translate it with ease, so I am reposting it here with the translation so far in green and the questions and problems I need help with in red.

In the physical description list, I am still mystified by the word below Visage, which I'm having trouble figuring out due to the typeface. It looks like F-r-o-n-something, but Google Translate was not leaping to any useful conclusions for me. This morning, however, with my thinking cap all freshly pressed and a dose of caffeine where it does the most good, I came at it from the opposite direction. Looking at the translated list, it seems like the logical missing part might be "forehead" so I typed that into Google and asked it to translate that into French. It gave me front. So... that's a t... seriously?

The caffeine having kicked me into high gear, I've just been inspired to investigate the question of Nicolas' height with my partner in crime, Google. I've now learned this about the ligne from Wikipedia:

     There are 12 lignes to one French inch (pouce). The standardized conversion for a ligne is 2.2558291 mm (1 mm = 0.443296 ligne), and it is abbreviated with the letter L or represented by the triple prime, ‴.
     This is comparable in size to the British measurement called "line" (one-twelfth of an English inch), used prior to 1824.

Because I am all about doing the heavy lifting here, but not the heavy math, I've stepped up and found a conversion tool online. If the number on the form is actually 558 lignes, then our Nicolas was 49.55719046460907 inches tall. That's slightly under 4'2"... seriously? My only other guess on those numbers would be 958, which would make him 7' tall, and I'm pretty sure we're not going there, no matter how much caffeine I ingest.

It's interesting to me that in the days before photography, something as important as one's identification on military papers was dependent upon something so tenuous as a mere ten descriptors, or just nine if one had no distinctive marks... especially when you consider that the people serving were probably a pretty homogenous lot, ethnically speaking.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Clemens (aka Clement) Hauer: Who's Your Mommy?

Clemens Hauer, who also appears in some records as Clement Hauer, was the son of Pierre Hauer and was probably Pierre's first-born child. To date, I have not found Clemens' birth record, but his parentage is noted in the records of his marriage to Maria Catharine Weinz, daughter of Johan Weinz and Margaretha Haus (or possibly Haas).

However, there are two records pertaining to the marriage, and the surname of Clemens' mother does not appear identical in the two records.

Above: "Luxembourg, Registres d'état civil, 1793-1923," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 05 Nov 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Waldbillig > Naissances 1871-1890 Mariages 1796-1798, 1800-1803, 1805-1890 Décès 1796-1803, 1805-1838 > image 446 of 1486.

Clemens' mother's first name is Catharina. But the handwriting in the record above is ambiguous at best, and has been interpreted by some as Kumman. That's certainly not a bad stab at it. But now consider the record below:

"Luxembourg, Registres d'état civil, 1793-1923," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 07 Nov 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Waldbillig > Naissances 1871-1890 Mariages 1796-1798, 1800-1803, 1805-1890 Décès 1796-1803, 1805-1838 > image 444 of 1486.

I'm not sure why the two marriage record forms are different, as they clearly both refer to the same marriage event. If I had to guess, I'd say one may be the license, and the other the proof that it was used. In any case, on this second record, to my eye it appears that Catharina's last name is Cristman. If so, then I could look back at the first record and interpret the handwriting this way:

If Clemens Hauer was born in January 1798 and his brother Theodore was born in September 1799 with a mother named Anne Marie Christman (as per Theodore's birth record), then it seems possible to me that this is a case where, after the death of a young mother (Catharina), a husband who is left with a baby to raise soon marries again, and it wouldn't be altogether unusual for his second wife to be a sister of his first wife.

Because the marriage of Pierre and Catharina took place in Waldbillig, I looked in the Waldbillig death records for a record of Catharina's death, but did not find one there.

Nicolas Petit and the Milice Nationale Documents

Nicolas Petit, born 28 July 1802 to Carl Petit and Elisabetha Reckinger, married Anne Marie Hauer on 19 May 1828 in Berdorf, Echternach, Luxembourg. Anne Marie was a daughter of Pierre Hauer and Anne Marie Christman. I happened to find some military papers pertaining to Nicolas in a Berdorf civil registration book.

By my questionable interpretation which is based upon Google Translate's questionable interpretation, the first page appears to be an official record pertaining to the national militia. I think the language of the form itself is French. I'm guessing that Nicolas drew No. 12 in the draft, and that perhaps he was exempted from service. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, which I certainly could be. I have absolutely no background in French.

The list at the lower left in that image is for a physical description, but all I can tell you from it is that his Visage (face) was oval, his Yeux (eyes) were either gris (gray, if the handwritten description is French) or grün (green, if the handwritten description is German) and that no distinctive marks were noted. I'll go out on a limb and say that I think Taille, d'une aune 558 ligneå means, essentially, that his height on a yardstick was 558 lines. But I don't assume we're talking about an American-style yardstick, with feet and inches, but rather a meterstick? Yes, that's a question! And honestly, I can't even swear I'm right about the 558... maybe it's 958, or 998, or ??? At the moment I don't have anything handy for comparing the numerals.

Meanwhile, continuing with the physical description entries, the third item on the list has Google Translate and me completely stumped. I've studied my character map looking for a letter (or two) similar to whatever it is that comes after Fro or Fron but to no avail. Neither can I figure out what the handwritten response (ord?)to that characteristic means.

Nicolas' Nez (nose) was oru or orn or something else entirely. Perhaps his Bouche (mouth) was moz? I won't even guess about the description of his Mentoŋ, which I think means chin, although Google Translate doesn't seem to be any more sure of that ŋ than I am. His Cheveux and Sourcilå (hair and eyebrows) seem to be sharing a description, and I gave Google Translate a whole list of hair words in hopes it would come up with a word that might look something like the one in the image:

black, brown, red, blonde, light, dark, thick, thin, curly, straight, bushy, bald as a billiard ball, removable

and Google gave back these in French:
noir, brun, rouge, blond, clair, foncé, épais, fin, frisés, raides, touffu, chauve comme une boule de billard, amovible

and these in German:
schwarz, braun, rot, blond, hell, dunkel, dick, dünn, lockig, glatt, buschig, kahl wie eine Billardkugel, abnehmbar

...none of which look anything like what's written. Too bad, because it would have been fun to see a Billardkugel on this form. 

On the second page, both Nicolas' and Anne Marie's parents are named, but beyond that, I am not able to say more. I'm guessing the handwritten pages may provide some support for a claim that Nicolas should be exempt from service. There is a date on the second page. I believe it's the 18th of May (although to my eye, which is more familiar with German than with French, it looks more like März) 1828, and the same date appears to be on the fourth page also. The third page is dated the 11th of what is to me a totally illegible month in any language. Speaking of which, I'm not sure what language these handwritten pages are in, but I think it's German.

In any case, I can tell you that the date at the top of the marriage record of Nicolas and Anne Marie (below, click to enlarge) is 19 May 1828. There may be language later in that record to indicate whether the marriage took place heute (today) or gestern (yesterday); if gestern, then the actual marriage date would be 18 May 1828, the same date mentioned in the militia-related papers.

Any further translation of these pages is beyond my ability, but if someone else would like to give it a try, I'd be happy to hear from you via a Comment below or the Contact form which is always available at the link just below the Before My Time header.

Milice Nationale Sources:

"Luxembourg, Registres d'état civil, 1793-1923," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 05 Nov 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Berdorf > Naissances 1859-1890 Mariages 1800-1890 Décès 1797-1838 > image 651 of 1492.

"Luxembourg, Registres d'état civil, 1793-1923," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 05 Nov 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Berdorf > Naissances 1859-1890 Mariages 1800-1890 Décès 1797-1838 > image 652 of 1492.

"Luxembourg, Registres d'état civil, 1793-1923," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 05 Nov 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Berdorf > Naissances 1859-1890 Mariages 1800-1890 Décès 1797-1838 > image 653 of 1492.

"Luxembourg, Registres d'état civil, 1793-1923," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 05 Nov 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Berdorf > Naissances 1859-1890 Mariages 1800-1890 Décès 1797-1838 > image 654 of 1492.

Marriage Sources:

"Luxembourg, Registres d'état civil, 1793-1923," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 06 Nov 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Berdorf > Naissances 1859-1890 Mariages 1800-1890 Décès 1797-1838 > image 643 of 1492.

"Luxembourg, Registres d'état civil, 1793-1923," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 06 Nov 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Berdorf > Naissances 1859-1890 Mariages 1800-1890 Décès 1797-1838 > image 645 of 1492.

"Luxembourg, Registres d'état civil, 1793-1923," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 07 Nov 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Berdorf > Naissances 1859-1890 Mariages 1800-1890 Décès 1797-1838 > image 639 of 1492.

[Many thanks to my Beissel cousin Daniel Bellware for this last source citation, which I neglected to copy when I got the record, and then could not find again!]

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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