Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Timber Mercantile

Timber Mercantile by StephanieRubel

This is a photo from my great grandmother Cecelia Marie Marchel's scrapbook. Her father, John Bernard Marchel (1878-1968), owned the Timber Mercantile - a store in the small community of Timber in Washington county, Oregon.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday's Obituary - Lena Pearl (Martin) Kline

I love finding obituaries. Even though they often aren't enough to be proof of facts (there's just too much room for error), they help illuminate the person's life beyond just the facts.

From the Oswego Daily Paladium, 21 Oct 1918
The interesting thing about this is she died of a "short illness". I have yet to get her death certificate, but I suspect that she died as a victim of the "Spanish" Influenza Epidemic.The newspapers from October of 1918 are heartbreaking. Every day the number of death announcements rises, and looking at just one obituary you may not see the cause of death, but when you look at the newspapers day to day they tell the story. The articles on the front pages announcing the death tolls in various cities, the public announcements about protecting yourself from contracting the disease, and the numerous obituaries that all say they died of "influenza", "pneumonia", or "a short illness".  Even when I am able to get Lena's death certificate, I may not know for sure as its more common for the doctors to list pneumonia or some other complication that was caused by the flu as the cause of death.

The possible doors that this obituary opens are numerous, it says she was born in Oswego, New York,  who her parents where and where they were living, which church she went to, and who her siblings were and you can follow up on those leads to find the records that are needed for genealogical proof. But, when you look at the historical context of this obituary, when you begin to read for what it is not said directly, it is more than facts and helps tell the family story.

"Obituary of Mrs. Lena Kline," Oswego Daily Paladium, Oswego, New York, Monday, October 21, 1918, Obituaries, available online at, Accessed 05 May 2013.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Children of Steward Stevens (1856-1934)

Stevens kids by StephanieRubel
Stevens kids, a photo by StephanieRubel on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
I believe the children are (from left to right):
Ralph W., Bessie, John Miles, Opal, Harold. Pauline sitting in front. Looking at the ages and guessing, I suspect the infant and toddler are the children of their older half-sister Elsie May - Wayne and Doris Stutsman. That would make the picture taken around 1912 or 1913.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Photo restoration - Cecelia Marie Marchel

 Here is another practice in photo restoration. The photo is of my great-grandmother Cecelia Marie Marchel.

This photograph was on a textured paper, and when it is scanned it seems to pick it up more prominently. It drives me crazy, but I have not found a technique to help with this scan, but I think I will try to photograph the picture instead of scanning. I suspect the light from the scanning bed is what is creating the shadows and thus picking up the texture of the paper so predominantly.

Original scan

After editing

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On adoption answers and more questions

My great-grandmother was adopted, but that was never one of our family's mysteries. She knew she was adopted from the age of 18 but had never wanted to know anything about her birth parents. The story from my grandmother goes that she and her mother, Isabelle E. Fitzgerald (Marchel), had been in a fight and in anger she blurted out to 18 year-old Cecelia that she was adopted. 

Unlike her mother, my grandmother has always wondered what had happened, where her mother had come from. Cecelia had told her that she was adopted from a Catholic baby home in Portland, Oregon that had burned down so there were no records. Knowing enough of my great-grandmother, however, I suspected that could have been a lie, something that was said so my grandmother wouldn't ask anymore questions.

I never pursued this avenue much because regardless of who she was born to, Cecelia was raised in the (very) Catholic home of John, the son of a Polish immigrant, and Isabelle, the daughter of an Irish immigrant. Recently, however, my grandmother came to me wanting to see if there was any way to get more information about Cecelia's birth parents. 

So, here is the information I knew prior to searching:
Name: Cecelia Marie MARCHEL (Though later in life she used her middle name, Marie, primarily)
Born: 20 February 1914
Adopted by John Bernard MARCHEL and Isabelle E. FITZGERALD

My first path led to a dead end. I went to the Oregon State Archives in Salem to look up the  information in the publication "Oregon Laws". Between the years 1864 and 1918 name changes were required to be reported by the county judge each year and subsequently were published biennially. However, after searching all years between 1912 and 1918 I did not find the name of either my great-grandmother or her parents.

Needless to say, that left us a little dejected.Though, I still hopeful I would be able to find yet another avenue. Searching generically about Catholic baby homes around the time frame led me to the Saint Agnes Foundling Asylum near Oregon City.

Image courtesy of the Oregon State Library

While searching for more information about the Saint Agnes home, that led me the Catholic Charities in Portland. Saint Agnes either burnt, or had just become run down, but if the Catholic Charities handled the adoption, there was a good chance that they still had records.
I contacted them, and indeed they had some records. I cannot get the name of her birth mother from them still because of Oregon Law, but it was noted that the law may change in the next year and that information would no longer be sealed.
Even though I don't have her name, I know that the mother was from Josphine County, Oregon. This poses yet more questions -- Josephine County is on the Oregon-California border some 250 miles from Oregon City, where was Cecelia actually born? Was the mother sent away, was she living in Portland, or was the baby sent away?

One of the documents was the letter in which the mother gave up all parental rights, which was done in May 1914. At this time the baby was unnamed. This gives way to the question of if the mother had second thoughts -- Did she try to find a way to raise the child in her first two months?

At the time of Cecelia's first marriage her parents had written to the Mother Superior asking information about the birth parents on behalf of the priest. He had wanted to know if the mother was unmarried, their names, and if they were Catholic. So, it is likely Cecelia's parents were aware of the mother's identity. According to the Mother Superior's response, the father was unknown. So it seems most likely she was given up as a child born out of wedlock as opposed to the mother being widowed. (Once again, the mother's name had been withheld to us.) Is it possible the church they were married at would have this information?

And so it seems this path has yet to come to an end and instead has created even more questions.