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.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

George Leo Rak (1883 - 1961)

George Leo Rak was born on 19 May 1883 in Zülz, Silesia, Prussia, Germany. You will not find Zülz on any modern maps however as the town is now in Poland and has its Polish name, Biala. Germany has always been made up of states and before 1945 Prussia was its largest state. Prussia was so large in fact that it was divided into Provinces and Zülz was a city located in the Province of Silesia.  After WWII the region was transferred to Poland.

Map of Germany from the period George Rak lived there showing the approximate location of Zülz.
Map of Germany from the period when George Rak lived there showing the
approximate location of Zülz.
In 1909, when he was 25, George married Paula Ziglinski and shortly after on 06 Oct 1910 their first child, Walter Leo was born.

On 01 Jun 1912 George, Paula, and young Walter boarded the ship Willehad in Hamburg, Germany  where they would arrive in Quebec, Canada two weeks later. A few years earlier, in 1904, Paula’s brother Frederick (Fred) had already come to North America, first arriving in New York and eventually settling in Lake Thelma, Alberta. This is where George and Paula would follow and settle for a few years.

Willehad, the ship that George and his family emigrated on.
Willehad, the ship that George and his family emigrated on.

According to the 1916 Canadian census, George and Paula would have three more children while in Alberta. Rose was born on 02 Oct 1912; Werner was born in 1915 and John was born in 1916. In 1924 the family moved to Oregon. Because she is not shown on the immigration documentation, I assume that Werner passed away before they moved.

George and Paula settled outside of Aumsville, Oregon where they owned and operated a farm.  He died on 16 May 1961 in Sublimity just 3 days before his 78th birthday.  Four weeks before he passed away, he and Paula had entered Marian Home, a home for the elderly and ill. Services were held at the Shaw Catholic Church and he is buried at St. Mary Catholic Cemetery in Stayton, Oregon.

Monday, January 28, 2013

WWII - "Old Man's Draft"

I have found a lot of WWII draft registration cards for my relatives. The strange thing about this, however, is that all of them were too old to serve in 1942. Then I learned about the "Old Man's Draft". In 1942 the selective service instituted a "Fourth Registration" to the draft. The men this was targeting were not for service in the military, but for those who could help out on the Home Front. 

These Registration cards have truly been invaluable to my research. The main reason - the records are first hand sources. Each record is coming straight from the man that filled the card out, not a census taker that can't get the spelling of a last name right. Granted, due to their age, sometimes the card might be victim to bad memory.

Another thing that is really neat about these records is they serve as a snapshot of the person. There is a section for the draft board to list the description including their height, weight, hair color, eye color, and any abnormalities.

Below are three records of my ancestors:

John Bernard Marchel - Maternal Great-great Grandfather

Edward Morrison Kline, Sr. - Maternal Great-great Grandfather

George Leo Rak - Paternal Great-great Grandfather

Friday, January 18, 2013

Photo restoration

I have been slowly learning and working with Photoshop for a few years now, though its mostly been for personal enjoyment as a photographer in Second Life.  But now that I have decided to take Genealogy research to the professional level, I find myself also wanting to use my experiences with digital imaging to retouch and restore some of the photographs I have been scanning over the past few months. I hope to offer scanning and retouching old photos as a service in the future, but I'm still "practicing" -- learning how to use the techniques I already know for a different purpose.

About a month and a half ago I came across a photo that I absolutely loved of my mother and her siblings, but it had been stained and bent, and had faded a fair amount.

Original scanned photo
Original scanned photo
I finally got around to editing the photo the other day and I was very pleased (okay, to be honest, I was giddy with excitement) at how it turned out. I still need more practice, especially with other types damage and color casts - but for now, I am very happy with where I am.

After cleaning it up...
After cleaning it up...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New discovery and incorrect gravestone

The interesting thing about writing this blog is while I write, I am able to find holes in my research. On my last post about Jacob Carroll I found a fairly significant discrepancy with his date of death. My data had said  he died in 1935 but his gravestone said 1936. So I made a note to follow up on this. My source for 1935 was a short biography that was possibly his obituary. I found it in my grandma's belongings with the old pictures that had been my great-grandmothers. It had been re-typed and laminated and no source information  given. It was something that was likely made by a family member for remembrance, not genealogy and I began to doubt the information when I saw the gravestone.

However, the Missouri Digital Heritage website has a large collection of digitized documents. There aren't a lot of my family, but as if a stroke of luck, Jake Carroll's Death Certificate is there. It clearly states 1935 as the year he died, so this family document was right, and the date etched in the headstone was incorrect.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jacob A. Carroll (1876 - 1936)

Photo from Find a Grave user Randy Adams
Photo by Find a Grave user Randy Adams

Jake Carroll was born October 31st, 1876 in Ozark County, Missouri to John Carroll and Sarah Elizabeth Gifford.  His younger brother, Joseph F. Carroll was born January 21st, 1879. Little is known of Jake's younger life, but sometime around 1879 his father, John, passed away. Sarah, now a widow with two young sons, re-married James Perry Kimberling on November 2nd 1879.

For a time the family moved to Oklahoma, but by 1890 they had returned to Ozark County. James Perry and Sarah Kimberling had 6 six children, though only 3 made it to adulthood: Jessie A, Lillie E, and Mattie Angeline. As Jake and Joe were very young when Sarah and James were married, they grew up  close with their half-siblings, and when Sarah and James died in 1898, Joe and his wife, Belle, took the Kimberling siblings in and reared them. 

 On October, 25 1899 Jake Carroll and Flora Ann Loman were married in Gassville, Arkansas. Flora was the daughter of John Washington Loman and Elizabeth Ann Coffman. They settled in Gassville for many years where they had 7 children: Eula, Leota Marie, Edgar, Louvina, Fleeta (died in infancy) Eura, and my great-grandmother, Una Lee. Later, four of the sisters, Eula, Louvina, Eura, and Una Lee would move with their husbands and families to Oregon. 

The family later moved back to Ozark County, settling in the area of Howards Ridge. This is where Una Lee and Ralph Waldo Stevens  would marry in 1933. Jake passed away shortly after on July 15, 1936 at the home of Ralph and Una Lee Stevens and was laid to rest in Fay Cemetery. In his obituary it is said that "On the evening of July 7, he asked to be taken on the porch and then he began singing 'In the Sweet Bye and Bye.'"

From Left to right: Everett and Mattie (Kimberling) Pleasant, Joe and Belle (Pleasant) Carroll, Jim and Lillie (Kimberling) Pleasant, and Jake and Flora (Loman) Carroll
From left to right: Everett and Mattie (Kimberling) Pleasant, Joe and Belle (Pleasant) Carroll, Jim and Lillie (Kimberling) Pleasant, and Jake and Flora (Loman) Carroll.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Going Professional

About the time I started this blog, I was also considering becoming a Professional Genealogist. Not only am I absolutely obsessed with my own family's history,  but I also love helping people find the information they need. That is why I went to Library School, and that is why I have finally decided to move forward with this idea, and offer professional services as well.

So, let me help you collect the leaves to your family tree!

I now offer Professional Genealogy Services. I will research your family's history and provide you with charts, reports, and copies of any documents I find with my sources recorded. I can also prepare a GEDCOM file for your own use.

Do you have ancestors in the Stayton, Oregon area? I am able to find obituaries from the Stayton Mail and send a digital and transcribed copy.

Have you done some research and want help compiling the information, entering the data, or writing a book? I can help with that as well.

For more information including a quote, contact me at or 503-559-8106