Friday, August 29, 2008
I have three other family Bibles, but this is the one that I treasure the most. It’s not because it’s the oldest. It’s not because it is the smallest. It’s not because it is written in German. and It’s not because it belonged to Susannah. It’s the feeling I get when I touch this Bible and when I think of Susannah’s life and how it’s affected my life.
Susannah’s Bible is responsible for many major changes in my life. The Bible is small, written in German, leather flaking off, and probably never read. Her name is written in it, the date is written in it and Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, is written in it. However, Susannah didn’t write in her Bible, nor did she read her Bible.
- Genisis I, Susannah
You see, Susannah couldn’t read or write. It was 1839 and many women did not read or write and she was no exception. Every legal document she signed, she signed with her “X.” The Bible was probably presented to her upon the death of her first husband, Samuel Leader. That is another story. This story is about the Bible, not Susannah.
I don’t think Susannah had any idea of the travels her Bible would take or the effect it would have one of it’s caretakers.
- At some point, Susannah gave the Bible to Amos Zook Myers, a Baptist Minister. It had to be before 1884, since that was the year Susannah died. Amos had a notation in the Bible that “Grandmother Kaler” had given it to him. Susannah’s 2nd husband was George Kaylor, so I know that it was Susannah who gave it to him. However, I cannot find out how Amos fits into the family tree!
- Susannah to Amos Zook Myers
- In 1911, Amos gave it to my great-grandfather, Edwin A. Niess. I know this because my great-grandfather was a meticulous, well-organized lawyer, and he noted this on the inside of the back cover. Upon his death in 1948, his son, Edwin Mark Niess, received the Bible.
- Third owner of the Bible ~ Edwin Alonzo Niess
- Edwin M. died in 1966 and it sat in his basement until his widow’s death in 1989. At that point, the family papers were all boxed up and went to my aunt in Maryland. My father got the box on a visit to my aunt a year later, and Susannah’s Bible left Maryland and went to California.
- My father only had the Bible for an evening. He died the next morning, yet the Bible was on it’s way to his home in California.
Every summer we would travel to Pennsylvania from California so I could try to find out who Susannah was. It took me over five summers to finally find out, and I just stumbled on it in a cemetery!
Five summers was enough for us to know we loved Pennsylvania. Susannah’s Bible had drawn us to her homeland. We finally sold our home in California and bought a home in Pennsylvania.
- Susannah’s Bible
One hundred and seventy years later the Bible is home in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
We brought Susannah’s Bible back where it belonged.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
and used the techniques suggested by fellow Genea-bloggers. I also used water, a soft brush and a rag, removing some of the years of grime and yuck from the stone. I only removed enough to read the pertinent information. No harsh cleaning agents were used, and no stiff brushes. I felt this stone had survived for over 100 years and I didn’t want to be the one who hastened it’s demise!
As soon as I uncovered enough to rub the dates, I stopped cleaning (thankfully ~ that was hard work!) and started in on my main mission. The death date was the cincher, and my “Elizabeth A.” died in 1826; the headstone’s “Elizabeth A.” died in 1888! Not my Elizabeth, nutz!
Elizabeth Somebody Else, not Elizabeth Auxer Kleiss
. . . but all was not in vain! First of all, when I was leaving the aisle that Elizabeth Somebody Else is buried in, I saw this beautiful hawk sitting on a headstone. . . .in the middle of the City! He sat there oblivious to my presence, in my car, and waited for me to take his picture! As I started moving again, he noticed me and flew off!
But back to the subject, I found headstones! Headstones belonging to George Kleiss, Jr., next to his sister, Anna Maria Weigand! I also found Walter F. Albright and his wife, Barbara’s headstones, in a nice border lined cemetery plot. Anna Maria’s must have been beautiful. . . before it was vandalized! Sad.
Vandalized headstone of Anna Maria Kleiss Weigand
Now for the gross part. I wore flip flops since it was a bit warm, never thinking my feet would get dirty. Now why wouldn’t they? I walked one quarter of the largest cemetery in Lancaster, and I expected my feet to remain lily white? (with pink toenails, of course) When I got home at looked down at my feet, I was shocked! I immediately found the darkest wash cloth in the house (black) and washed my feet! Yuck!
Yucky, Dirty Feet!
Thank you all for the suggestions! You helped me eliminate a wrong headstone and helped me find headstones in the future.
Now to hop in the shower. . . . . .
Monday, August 25, 2008
Elizabeth Auxer Kleiss was the wife of Johan Philip Kleiss and was buried along with him at the First Reformed Church in their cemetery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For eternity. Really???
Well, only until they needed that ground for something else! At that point they needed to find a final resting spot for the occupants of the cemetery and many of the stones were moved to the Stranger’s Burial Ground in Lancaster Cemetery. Some were put in the wall at the Church.
Records indicate that Elizabeth and Philip were moved to Lancaster Cemetery. The stones in the Stranger’s ground are scattered, sunken, broken or missing. I “think” I found Elizabeth’s stone; I have not found Philip’s.
I can read the “Elizabeth A” and I can read “September” but I can read nothing else. So I went back to the cemetery and took some close ups thinking I could photo edit them and read them.
Any suggestions on how to read this stone? I don’t want to try to clean it and ruin the stone, but if there is a safe way to read it and/or clean it, I’m open to suggestions! There is a strong possiblility that it is my ancestor Elizabeth’s stone, since the name matches and September is the month she was born in.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
If you read Catharine’s diary, the theme is established. It is full of family, friends and neighbors either close to death or dying. She seems to be obsessed with unhappiness.
Catharine Auxer Niess in mourning
This picture seems to be a theme in her life. Catharine is the one on the right. I believe the woman on the left may be her eldest sister, Anna Maria Lehman, since this picture was taken about the time Anna Maria’s husband died in 1912. Catharine’s husband died three years later, and she probably wore the same outfit. I have the head covering in my collection. The border on this scarf matches the border in the previous collection, over the years the ends have become either frayed or torn, but it is the same scarf.
Catharine's scarf in Linda's home
Catharine was born in the Elizabethtown area of Lancaster County on 19th April 1844 to Philip and Maria (Leader) Auxer. At the age of 15 she is found working as a domestic in the household of Christian Graybill in East Donegal Township. Five years later she is married to Ephraim Niess.
By the 1870 census, she had two children and the family lived in Harrisburg. What the census doesn’t tell you is that she had already lost her first two children and her youngest would die in the next year. She was married to an alcoholic and life was a constant struggle to make ends meet. Her husband was a Civil War veteran who had seen battle in Chancellorsville. Life was not easy for Ephraim as he fought his inner devils until his death.
The 1880 Census shows the family, minus the daughter on the 1870 census since she had died in 1871. Their son Edwin (shown as Edward in 1870) is now 12 and he had a new sister, Catharine, who was nine. There were three other children born after the 1870 census, and they had also died. Catharine also lost her mother in this decade.
There is no 1890 census, but the family remained at 115 Dock Street in Harrisburg, Ephraim continued to drink and was still employed by Bailey Iron Works and the family grew by two boys, John Ephraim and Benjamin Franklin. They would live to adulthood. Sadness and grief was recorded in her diaries, a copy of which still exists in one of her descendant’s loving care.
I am fortunate to have had this shared with me and have transcribed it. It covers the years 1888 through 1894 in her life and this is where I find the sadness and illness that plagues her life.
The 1888 diary starts out with two mentions of death in the first month:
This was a blessed sabbath for me, I read a great deal, I could not go out on account of the weather and my health, this evening I feel very sad, Mrs. Fogerty is very sick, they do not think she will live until morning, I feel sorry for them all, she is a very kind Mother and a good neighbor, they keep a bakery two doors from us, I hope she is saved, how necessary to live for christ, when in health, O help me to drink deep of his sweet spirt of submission, that will enable me to meet, yea, even to welcome, the sorest cross, saying yes, Lord, all is well, just because it is they blessed will, take me, use me, chasten me, as seemeth good in thy sight,
The weather has changed, is very cold – I feel better, but cannot go out much, Mrs. Fogerty was buried to day, she had a very large funeral, but this is the way we all must go, sooner or later, every day is proclaiming anew the lesson, the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, O that I may seek to live, so that that (sic) time can not come upon me to soon, or too unexpectedly, Oh that I may live a dying life, how blesed to live, a dying life how blesed to die, with the consciousness that there may be but a step between me and Glory.
and then later in the month:
Two years ago to day Father died I can never forget his happy death, I think of him very much he always seemed so happy, and waited patiently until he was called, to take his departure, to a home beyond the skies, where there is no sickness, nor sorrow, here he was sick a long time, but our afflictions, and our sorrows, are meted out by a tender hand, he would often request us to sing,
Mid scenes of confusion,
And creature complaints,
How sweet to my soul,
Is communion with saints.
Home, sweet Home,
They sung the piece at his funeral, O how he warned us to live, an honest christian life and be ready for this change that was soon to take place with him O how peacefully he passed away it did not seem like death,
. . . and so the years go. She had faith, but was always thinking about death.
Ephraim and Catharine Auxer Niess on their 50th anniversary
Catharine always referred to Ephraim as “my husband,” never by his name in her diary. They were married 51 years when he died. They had gone to Washington DC in October of 1915 where Ephraim attended the GAR National Encampment and had seen their first great-grandson who was born in September of that year. That great-grandson was my father.
Ephraim died on 25th of November of that year. The entry in a notebook she kept simply says: “He took my husband.”
“He” took her six years later on 27 May 1921.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
. . . and how could I ever forget Marietta Cemetery??
John Auxer, Jane Park Auxer, Henry Stoll and Caroline Auxer, their children
Since my Leader family were original settlers of this river town, two cemeteries here reflect my family’s history. The picture of the John Auxer’s family final resting place is one of my favorites. It was a chilly day, leaves blowing everywhere, and even the American flag in the distance is flapping in the breeze. The headstone laying face down is John’s, the broken one next to it belongs to his wife, Jane Park Auxer and the two next to her belong to two of their children, Henry Stoll and Caroline.
Philip and Rebecca Leader
Philip was my g-g-g-g-g-g grandfather’s nephew and has a prominent monument in this historical cemetery.
George W. Leader was Philip’s son and is buried along with his wife, next to her parents in the same cemetery.
Just to walk through this large cemetery and see the history of my family is an experience I would not trade.
I try to do it often.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Since I love cemeteries, I thought I’d try to narrow it down to my favorite cemetery. I visit so many,so often, you’d think I have a favorite. Well, I do!
Entrance to Donegal Presbyterian Church
I love the peacefulness and stillness I feel when I visit the cemetery at Donegal Presbyterian Church in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It is in the country, surrounded by an old stonewall. The old Church is right across the drive and down the hill are the Donegal Springs with a bench to sit and comptemplate whatever it is you wish to contemplate!
Donegal Springs, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Is this my favorite cemetery? No, but it is one of my favorites!
Lancaster City has many, many old cemeteries, all beautifully maintained, for the most part. Two blocks away from my home is the old Shreiner Cemetery where the great Abolitionist, Thaddeaus Stevens is buried. Today the cemetery is right on the edge of a major thoroughfare thru the city, and in the middle of a wonderful old neighborhood. It is surrounded by an iron fence, and mowed and weeded regularly.
James Buchanan's gravesite, Woodward Hill Cemetery, Lancaster, PA
The final resting place for Jacob Auxer and his family is in horrible shape. I have removed weeds, trash and dirt from this site. I cannot sit the stones upright, but I have filled in gopher holes that have undermined headstones. Perpetual care? hmmm-m-m-m-m-m-m-m
Auxer site, bottom of the hill, Woodward Hill Cemetery
Is this my favorite cemetery? Once again, no, but high on the list. High on the list because it gives me something to maintain. Someplace that makes me feel that I am indeed honoring my family ~ however distant it maybe ~ and somewhat of a cause.
Harrisburg Cemetery, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania
No, my favorite cemetery, without a doubt, is Harrisburg Cemetery! This awesome cemetery stands in the middle of the city, with a view of the State Capitol. It once was on the edge of the city with the entrance to the west. The entrance is now to the south, through a less than desirable neighborhood.
This is the cemetery in which my ancestors first spoke to me and encouraged me to continue in my search for their stories. This is the cemetery where three generations all lie together for eternity. This is the cemetery that keeps pulling me back, if only to place a few flowers, pull a few weeds and sit quietly for a minute or two.
Ephraim Niess, his wife, Catharine Auxer Niess and five of their young children have their lives all noted on the same headstone, Catharine’s brother, mother, father and grandmother share the plot with them.
Ephraim and Catharine Niess and 5 of their children, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
This picture was taken when spring had just arrived. The grass is green and the leaves on the trees shade the cemetery’s occupants final resting places. It is Mother’s Day and I’ve taken my annual pilgrimage to the various cemeteries through out the midstate region, leaving a small flower at grandmother’s grave. I have graves from Snyder County to Shippensburg and Harrisburg down to Lancaster to visit, but it is worth the effort. I am sure some of these graves have not been visited for years and I love to show my respect and love for these wonderful women who paved the road I travel today.
Maria Leader Auxer
Philip Kleiss Auxer, Catharine Niess' father
Susannah Bischoff Leader Kaylor, Catharine's grandmother
In reality they all could be my favorite cemetery, but Harrisburg Cemetery, is without a doubt my favorite cemetery, because of it’s history and meaning to my family and because my ancestors still speak to me when I visit them.
I guess you can say, I do play favorites . . . . . .
Friday, August 8, 2008
Posted by Linda in Lancaster under Genealogy
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So what’s new? This is genealogy, after all ~ just like a jigsaw puzzle. Some pieces look like they should fit, but are just a “little” off! This week I found an obituary for Daniel Gemperling while looking for a completely different obituary.
DANIEL GEMPERLING DEAD.
He Was in the Tin Business in the East End for Half a Century.
Daniel Gemperling, a resident of Lancaster until a few months ago, died on Wednesday night at the residence of his son in Ephrata. He was confined to the house for only a few weeks, but was in failing health for some time. Deceased was 84 years old and was a native of this city. He learned the trade of tinsmith , and half a century ago he removed to Orange and Ann streets, where he engaged in that business. He carried it on until last spring when he removed from the city and went to Ephrata to live with his son. He was well known not only in this city but in all sections of the county, through his long business career. He was twice married. His first wife died many years ago. His second wife survives and one son, Harry C. Gemperling, one of the tipstaves at the court house. John and William, brothers, and Mrs. Auxer, a sister, are dead. His only surviving brother is Frederick, who lives at the corner of Walnut and Mulberry streets.
What’s confusing? Well, in 1850 two Auxer children lived w/JOHN and Jane Gemperling. Henry, age 7 and Catharine age 13 lived with the Gemperlings, their aunt and uncle! Jane Spurrier Gemperling was the sister of Elizabeth Spurrier Auxer. Who is Daniel? . . . . . . and who is his sister, Mrs. Auxer??? Which Auxer married a Gemperling? or does it really mean sister-in-law? I’d love to know! Anybody know?
Still on the Spurriers, I found an obituary for an infant.
1865 newspaper ~
Child: George Maclay Spurrier
Place: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
If you’d like the documentation and additional information, contact me for the details on both of these!
Friday, August 8, 2008
Posted by Linda in Lancaster under Genealogy
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I start yet another puzzle I reflect on exactly why I enjoy putting them together.
Is it because I like the pretty pictures? Well, I do choose ones I like, but I don’t think that’s the reason?
Do I like the satisfaction of completing a project? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Putting the last piece in the puzzle makes me happy, but at the same time kinda depresses me, because I know then it’s finished and there’s nothing left to do on it.
If you look at the picture, I think of the completed part of the puzzle as the completed part of my research. Those lines, filed and documented; the lines I am certain are correct and where they belong. The pieces in the middle that are complete are those families I have well documented but don’t quite fit yet! There is still work to do on these. And those scattered pieces and the ones in the box? Those are all the clues I’ve found, on somebody else’s work on the internet, or references in books or files I’ve come across.
What I think I really like about working my puzzles is it is my reflection time. This is the time I take away from my desk and books, away from the mundane tasks I really should be doing, and just take “Linda time!” I reflect on what’s ahead, what’s behind and what’s urgent in my life. I reflect on things like why I find one person on various documents well after his death? Were there really two of them? If so where did the second one come from? and when?
it seems, are my second addiction! In addition to being addicted to my research, I’m also addicted to jigsaw puzzles. The more pieces, the happier I am. If I have a 500 piece puzzle, I’ll finish it in two days ~ a 2,000 piece puzzle? I’m as happy as a pig in a poke! That may take me a week or two!
See the comparison to my other addiction? The more pieces I’m juggling, the happier I am. If I were only concentrating on one line, it would be too much like a job. Having a variety of things to look for keeps me happy. When I go to a library, I have my list ~
Look for this divorce, that death date, remarriage for his widow, etc. and check the tax lists and city directories for the last year they appeared. Check February 1903 for an obituary, maybe even the month before and after. . . . and the list goes on and on!
The fun thing about going through those records, is the fact that something for somebody else may pop up! and it’s the piece I need to finish off that section of the genealogy! Now if the entire family was complete (and who’s is??) what fun would I have if that surname popped up unexpectedly?
As in genealogy, the piece must fit exactly for the picture to appear correctly. Finding a name that fits, but the facts don’t is like finding a puzzle piece that is almost, but not quite the shape you need. Unless the fact is documented, it doesn’t fit, in my estimation, and unless the colors and shape match, it doesn’t fit in a jigsaw puzzle!
Each passion I have gives a satisfaction that is similar. When a puzzle is complete, I can sit back and look at the fun thing I just created, just as when I find an entire family line I didn’t know existed!
A puzzle should remain just that ~ something that needs the spaces filled in and something that can be completed in time, so you can move on to the next one.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Winchester, Virginia wasn’t that far away from Charles Town, West Virginia so we decided to go, look for yet another headstone!
Winchester National Cemetery is a closed cemtery, with no space left for any more burials. The cemetery is the final resting place for Civil War Union soldiers. The Confederate soldiers are buried in the cemetery across the street, according to the caretaker. It is a beautiful cemetery full of large monuments erected in memory of lost Union Soldiers.
We were looking for the headstone belonging to my father’s cousin, Edward Wheeler Niess, a veteran of WWII. After finding his name and location information in the book at the office, the caretaker took us right to the site.
After taking the pictures, we wandered around the cemetery looking at various monuments and asking questions of the caretaker, and didn’t leave the cemetery for another 1/2 hour! Looking over the wall from the front of the cemetery, you can see the Pennsylvania Monument. Edward Niess’ headstone would be out of the picture on the left hand side, clear at the back of the cemetery.
I thought that finding the headstones this week would be the high points of the week, but I found that was not so. While answering a genealogy request at the Historical Society I was searching through the tax records for the City, years 1850 through 1860, and I found several of my ancestors, but not theirs! I feel bad for them, happy for me!
I’m looking forward to the surprises next week holds. . . .