Thursday, December 26, 2013

My photo file tells a story

While looking at my photo files, discovered two big fat files that hadn't yet been processed. I'm a little miffed that I've overlooked these treasures when I would have bet that all the photos had been properly processed by photo editing, sorting and naming, with details put in labels within the file. But I'm also thrilled that there are more delicious pictures. So off I went to start that task and that's gonna take time. That's OK because I just love working with old family photos.

What I realized when looking through the yet to be sorted files as well as the older sorted photos is that they tell the story of photography in our family as well as photography in general and in the small Western Maryland world in which the taking of photos in our family operated. So I'd like to share with you what I observed, here in this post.

The oldest photos come from the mid 1800s, about 1850 or 1860 and on to about 1910-ish. They are formal portraits taken by professional photographers in their studios. There were a number of photographers operating in Western Maryland then. A couple in Cumberland, the largest town in the region, and two or three in Frostburg which is smaller and situated just west on the Old Pike or National Road, a major route west before the railroad came to the area. Let's start with a couple of those images.

The above was taken by a photographer named E. Gilbert Irwin and bound up in a book documenting the National Road about 1910 which Mom has in her collection. As far as I've been able to discover he did this project under the auspices of the management of the National Road.

The small plate in the rear of the book identifies him by name, and you can see that up top. The middle image shows the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania where the Maryland road work ends. As you can see, It looked bad for Maryland and the state of the road is pretty awful compared to how Pennsylvania took care of their portion of the road. That would have been a perfect shot to document the need for more Maryland funds to be allocated. The last image is included just because it's one of my favorites. Plus it was probably handy in demonstrating the general terrain which was farmland and forest. This image is often referred to as an example of the photographer's artistic eye, and indeed while this album had a practical use, it is a work of art, as well of history.

The real formal studio portraits are a treasure to us, and I bet you have your own grouping of these. Here are just a few. I love to look at what our ancestors are wearing. I'll put these in presumed order by date with the oldest first. They stop about 1913 with the formal wedding portrait of Dad's parents and they were married September 30, 1913.

Enoch Clise (1843 - 1896) in his Civil War uniform. He is not an old man here and died in 1896, which leaves a window of about 1865 to 1880-ish. Maybe.

They were married 19 April, 1878 and this is thought to be their wedding portrait.

Joseph E Whetstone 1816-1897.
He is quite old here so maybe about 1890?

His son, Joseph Hampton Whetstone (1858 - 1939) on the right, in his Frostburg Fire Department uniform. Date about 1890s, maybe.

Moretta Workman 1859-1946.
Maybe she's in her 20s here?

Moretta's husband, Gustav Zeller 1858 - 1925.
Wondering if these two images were their wedding portraits? If so then there would have been a couple photo. None of the relatives seem to have that. Too bad.

Their daughter and my paternal grandma, Helen Zeller Kelly 1894-1985. About 1900.

Wedding photos, 1913.
 When Grandma, above, married Grandpop, John Lee Kelly (1892 - 1969) these two photos of his family were also taken. That's he and his mother in the oval, and the whole Kelly bunch, with labels.
I like to examine all of the formal portraits we have and especially the backgrounds to see which were taken in the same studio. Those big backdrops are a good clue!

Just about the time Mom was born in 1918, the informal snapshots start to appear. These are wonderfully plentiful and their informality tells so much about the people in them. I'll just share a few for your enjoyment.
Mom with her parents, Emma Susan (Whetstone) Williams (1897 - 1956) and Cambria Williams (1897 - 1960).

John Lee Kelly (1892 - 1969) with his children, about 1925.

Mom with a kitten.

Joseph Hampton Whetstone (1858 - 1939) who we saw in his fire department uniform, above. What a difference! This image tells a broader story of family as he and his wife Catherine Elizabeth (House) Whetstone (1865 - 1947) sit with some of their grandchildren, Mom in the big hair bow.

These pictures tell, I think, a fuller story, about the family and times. The frequency of the images and their abundance tell me that it was easy and relatively inexpensive for the family to take their own photos. They are, of course, less formal by stretches! The family would have chosen, as we all do, where and when the picture was to be made so it tells even more about them. Plus, and I really like this, it catches them in their every-day clothes. Candid's: gotta love them!

Mom with her camera, August 1942.

After this date, photos in our file multiply like rabbits. Mom has a camera and is obviously using it. I bet she got it for her birthday on July 29. I mean now that I think about it, if you have your own camera you are going to take pictures, for sure!

Do you remember your first camera? I sure do. And the thrill of going to the drug store to pick up the processed photos to see how they came out? I usually went with friends. Once you have your own camera, you are free to capture your personal world as you see it, and that makes all the difference to those of us interested in family history. We get to see the family as it saw itself, or at least as one member saw it.

Here are some images from Mom, as photo documentarian. I won't label them because I want you to look at the content of the images and se what they tell.


Yeah, it's all there in those pictures: all the family history of the most recent generations. Wouldn't it be wonderful if every generation going back just five or six had their own cameras with which to document family? Wouldn't that be a treasure?

And so I ask myself, what with all the new media, are we taking enough photos? I wonder if I am?

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Stories Mom Told Me: Aunt Marg and her fashion sense

Mom loved Aunt Marg, I can tell from the way she talks about her. You see, Aunt Marg was Mom's mother's sister, Margaret Ann (Whetstone) Wilson Brown (1902-1996). She was born in that little mountain town I write about all the time where our ancestors lived for so many generations, in Allegany County, Maryland. It must have been quite a change of environment for her when she moved from Western Maryland to Akron.

Mom says that Aunt Marg moved there and lived with her sister Aunt Grace, Grace Elizabeth (Whetstone) Knowles (1893-1959) near her brother and Mom's Uncle Tad. (The last post was about Uncle Tad and Aunt Rena.) Even Mom went to stay for a while with Aunt Grace, just before she met Dad, but that's another story for another time. Aunt Grace and Uncle Frank had two children, Charles and Jean.

Aunt Marg got a job at O'Neils's department store in women's fashions in downtown Akron. It was the start of the great age of downtown department stores and the ladies fashion department must have seemed almost heaven for Aunt Marg who dearly love high style.

Mom doesn't know exactly what happened but at some point, Aunt Marg split from her first husband, who she met and married in Akron, Frank Brown (1898-1996). They had two children, David and Doris. Mom said that David died young but Doris grew up, got married (perhaps to someone named Clarence and that's yet to investigate), and moved to California and worked in a candy store. It was after that Aunt Marg married "Uncle Cec" (pronounced like cease, and I really don't know how else to spell it), Cecil Wilson.

Looking at the 1920 US Census for Marg and Frank Brown is fascinating. They are living at 40 S. 14th Street in a house with two other couples, aged 49, 49, 28, and 28. Marg is 18 and Frank is 20 and it says that he was born in Scotland to a Scottish father and Irish mother. When I review the others living at this residence (and none are listed as borders) the only other person who has the Scottish/Irish parents is Amelia Craig, 49, listed as "mother-in-law. It's a jumble to me, and if I had infinite time I might try to unravel this ball of yarn. Maybe sometime, but not today. By the way, Frank is working at the rubber plant as are the two other men in the residence, and you might remember that Uncle Tad moved to Akron to work in the rubber plant.

Well, whatever happened between Aunt Marg and Frank happened, and they split.  She then married Uncle Cecil Wilson and they resided in Akron. Mom remembers that he sold sewing machines. His hands were meticulously kept and that interested Mom because she could see that he didn't work with them as other of her male relatives did. He was a classy man, Mom said.

Eventually Marg and Cecil moved to Indianapolis to take better advantage of his work.  Marg worked in a big department store there too. Aunt Marg was by then a "city lady", very sophisticated, and knew about the latest fashions and dressed in them, always in the best of taste.

During her high school years, Mom received the benefits of boxes of clothing sent by Aunt Marg to her sister and Mom's mother, Emma Susan (Whetstone) Williams (1897-1956). People did that then, and still do. A bunch of our neighbors who have small and growing children exchange boxes and bags of clothing regularly. By the time of Mom's high school years which happened during the Great Depression, those boxes of clothing gained enormous value. Mom and her sister Dot looked forward to the mysterious treasures that might arrive by parcel post!

Emma taught Mom and Dot how to sew, as all the mothers of all the town's girls did. If you wanted a new outfit you were most likely going to sew it yourself. And if you got a hand-me-down from an older relative or close friend, it probably needed altering to your own measurements. Sewing was a "must have" skill for young girls in Frostburg where Mom and her family lived.

In one of those boxes from Aunt Marg was a fabulous pair of brown suede high heeled shoes. Mom loved those shoes and thought of them as the height of sophistication. She wore those shoes in sun, rain and snow. Probably dried them out in the open oven as people did then. Wore them right out and through the sole. No worries! Mom cut up the cardboard that came in the shredded wheat box that  separated the biscuits... and wore them some more.

When Mom graduated high school in 1936, she rode on the bus to spend two weeks with Aunt Marg and Uncle Cec in Indianapolis. Maybe it was more than two weeks as Mom is 95 and can't quite remember. It was quite an adventure. I'm thinking that the time spent with Aunt Marg was a sort of finishing school for Mom and was instrumental in developing her fashion sense. Even to this day, Mom remarks how stylish Aunt Marg was and how well she knew clothes and hair and how to wear them!

Aunt Marg came to visit when Mom and her sister Dot were young women, wearing a fur coat. It was a total sensation! Aunt Marg kindly let the girls borrow it so that they could walk up and down Main Street in Frostburg, taking turns in it. All the boys, Mom said, asked and asked where they got such a treasure. They shrugged and walked on.

Aunt Marg died in Indianapolis at the age of 91. I almost feel that I knew her because of Mom sharing memories. I think that I would have liked her very, very much.

Back says, "October 23, 1939, Lafayette, Indiana.
Daddy Cec, David Leroy Mathew, Mumie Wilson."
Maybe it was written by daughter Doris?
This photo is confusing!

Aunt Marg and Uncle Brownie with new baby, probably David. No date.

Just found this one: Aunt Grace, Uncle Tad and Mom's Grandmother Whetstone.
Grace Elizabeth (Whetstone) Knowles (1893-1959), "Tad", Clarence Hampton Whetstone (1891-1976), and their mother "Kate" Catherine Elizabeth (House) Whetstone (1865 - 1947).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Stories Mom Told Me: Part 5, Aunt Rena and Uncle Tad

Mom and I were chatting the other morning and I mentioned how much I liked going to see Aunt Rena and Uncle Tad when I was a kid. We lived in various suburbs of Cleveland and they lived in Akron so a Sunday drive to see them was a reasonable thing to do and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Uncle Tad was Mom's mother's brother, and his proper name was Clarence Hampton Whetstone (1891-1976). Seems like all the boys in that family had given names along with the names they were always called... just to make genealogists crazy. Uncle Tad had married Tessie Hall, Mom said, who was born in Scotland. They had Alex, or Red, and Thelma before Tessie died in 1925 in Akron. It was then that he married Aunt Rena.  The 1930 US Census shows Uncle Tad and Red and Thelma living on Harrison Street with his then housekeeper, Rena Gralion, if I read that surname correctly. He's 38 and she's 25. He married her some time after that. I don't think Mom or I have ever looked into Rena's heritage and suspect that she's been overlooked because they had no children, or maybe because she was born in Scotland? That goes on the list of stuff to do.

Marring the housekeeper is kind of a pattern in our families, and maybe other families too. He did it and so did his father: first wife dies, hire a housekeeper and then marry her. Sometimes the kids don't fit in with the new family so well and get moved off, usually to grandparents who smother them in affection. Did your ancestors ever do that?

While checking records for this post, his WWI draft record was found online and he was already living in Akron in 1917 and working at a rubber plant. Interestingly, at least for me, in the 1920 US Census, he and Tessie are living with his in laws, Tessie's parents, James and Janet Hall who are 68 and 64. He's listed as "Clint", but we never heard him called that. Their first child, Alex, is listed as Alexander. I can not find this family in the 1940 US Census, but now I have Tad, Clint, and Clarence to search so maybe I didn't do a very thorough job of it.

You see, Tad had moved his family from Frostburg, Allegany, in Western Maryland to Akron to work in one of the rubber plants. He started work in that industry at the Kelly Springfield rubber and tire plant near Cumberland, Maryland. He was one of many young men who made the move north and slightly west to Cleveland or Akron. That was a northern migration pattern for many families in this area as industry dried up or simply expanded to other regions. Other families associated with the Celanese company, also near Cumberland, moved to the Carolinas when the big plant was built there. Knowing these two facts can help a wayward genealogist trying to track ancestors from this region.

I remember the house Aunt Rena and Uncle Tad lived in. It was a solid looking two story white and brick structure, sort of in the Craftsman style, with a screened in front porch. It was built on the corner of a double lot and there was a somewhat lavish garden in back with vegetables and flowers, and plantings on the side of the house. It looked very well-kept and prosperous in the middle-class neighborhood in which it was situated. We often played croquet in the ample yard on a warm summer day, and ate meals picnic style there too.

Mom and I both have a very distinct memory of Aunt Rena frying up mushrooms in a big cast iron skillet... in the basement. Yes, in the basement. I have no recollection of ever eating in any other place except the basement or the yard. Hmmm. Mom thought for a minute and then speculated: maybe Aunt Rena was a neat freak? A sweet and totally lovable neat freak. I do remember one time when I wandered into her dining room where the window was full of magical and tiny African violets, and she quickly came to supervise and warn me against touching. And I don't once remember her cooking in the actual kitchen or us eating inside, especially in the dining room. That said, I might have this all wrong! But Mom thinks Aunt Rena might have been a very, very fastidious housekeeper. We love her memory just the same and she's still family, even though the rest of us are tidy but certainly not freakishly neat:) And both Mom and I can still to this very day remember the smell of those delicious mushrooms being fried up by Aunt Rena. Yum!

Not a very good picture at all of Mom's mother, Emma Susan (Whetstone) Williams, her brother Tad, Clarence Hampton Whetstone (1891-1976), and his second wife, our sweet Aunt Rena.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Here's wishing you the happiest of holidays and the merriest of Christmases!

It must have been about 1954 because my brother was born a bit later and he's no where to be seen in this group of photos from Mom. That's me with Santa. You probably have a similar photo too, and recognize it as the typical department store Santa image.

I'll bet anything that this one was taken in Cleveland at Sterling-Linder-Davis. The big tree was in the center on the ground floor and as I remember it, and granted that memory might be foggy, Santa was set up somewhere at the base of the tree. Maybe.

Downtown Cleveland, decorated for the holidays.

"BIGGEST EVER Sterling-Lindner-Davis' Christmas tree now is on display. The giant spruce is decorated with 1200 ponds of tinsel and 2400 ornaments, store officials report. The tree, 54 feet tall when it was moved in Saturday night, will grow six inches before it is removed after the holidays."
(Thank you, Cleveland Memory Project for these and other photos!)

We lived in the suburbs in a small Cape Cod style house in Maple Heights. Going downtown was a big deal, and going downtown to meet Santa was the very best a girl could home for, except for the presents later on Christmas day, obviously. We'd take the bus to the trolley and arrive at Higbee's in the Terminal Tower, then walk the few blocks to Sterling-Linder-Davis, and gaze in each department store window to see what wonders were on display. I can still smell the smell of arriving at the Terminal Tower underground and then entering Higbee's.

Mid-1950s store holiday windows were a wonder of mechanical ingenuity. I gaze on the electronic and digital splendor of today's store displays and long for the old 1950s train making its way around a tree and over a village and through a stack of presents. Does anyone even use tinsel anymore on their trees?

Higbee's window. The label on the Cleveland Memory Project says it's Christmas and I see a tree but is that Easter Bunny too? The back of the photo says: "Danny, 5, and Collee, 9, Majeske, son and daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Robert Majeski, Lakewood look at Christmas displays in Higbee's window."

Good old Santa! What a good listener! Maybe he was the last male in my life who really listened to me spout off a list of hopes and dreams;) Here's hoping that your Santas of past listened to you too. Enjoy the holiday!

Higbee's Christmas window 1958.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

I Just Love This Photo!

I'm busy working on a long blog post with the story of the Whetstone family but miss posting here, so thought that this might be a good time to share some of my favorite family pictures. You've see a lot of them but my thought is to select just one and then write everything I know about it and make some observations too. Might just make a game of it and play, What Do You See?

So here goes and the first one is a picture of my great grandfather's house. He was Daniel Williams and a recent blog post was the story of that family.

The Williams home, built about 1899, in Ocean Allegany, Maryland.
Pictured are:
Back row, left to right: William Williams (1884-1964 ), his wife Lillian "Lillie" (Merbaugh) (1884-1964 ), Tom Williams (1890-1951 ), and Jane (Price) Williams (1862-1939),
Front row, left to right: Cambria "Camey" Williams (1897-1960) my Grandfather, Joseph "Joe" Williams (1895-1948), Charles Williams (1899-1979) and Aunt Betty's father, a neighbor, and "Blackie" the dog on the fence post.

So there it is, and I dearly love this picture. Aunt Betty and Mom both have copies, and now I have this electronic copy. Aunty Betty says that the house was built by Daniel and Jane (James) Williams about 1899. Charles, Aunt Betty's father was the only child of Daniel and Jane born here, but many of the family lived there from time to time and so the next generation was also born there.

I see here a two story frame house with balanced and even architecture, painted to emphasize the trim and make the overall impression more decorative and appealing. There is pride even today when Mom and Aunt Betty talk about this old home place. And notice the contrasting painted brick-a-brack on the top of the porch posts. Someone took care with how this home presented itself.

I also like the front fence and the rambling garden with trees and perhaps climbing roses festooning the porch. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you'll see what might be some type of crisscross wire making a structure for the climbers growing up the front porch. And is that a fruit tree on the right side? It looks tidy and well kept. Aunt Betty's note on the file says that a street car ran right in front of the house. How proud the family must have been to ride it and see their house as it was undoubtedly admired by riders.

Aunt Betty tells an interesting story of life in this house. You see in these parts the mineral rights were not sold with the land so the mining company could dig a mine right under your home. Even today this practice continues. Some days, Aunt Betty said, you could hear the miners right below the house, talking, and digging away. At one point the activity was so energetic that it moved the house right off the foundation! Imagine!

Mom says that there was an outhouse down and the end of the yard but by the time she was a very little girl, about 1920, there was a regular bathroom in the house on the first floor. Her Grandfather Williams was very ill near the end of his life right about then and we speculated that perhaps the bathroom was added on the first floor to make it easier for him.

There was a natural cold spring that came out of the ground in the back yard. There were a lot of them then, Mom says. The water was cold the year round so the family kept butter and milk in the indentation in the earth where the spring came out. In the house between the dining room and kitchen was what we might call a pantry, a short hallway with shelves, That was where Mom went to check to see if there were any pies available.

Every time I go see Mom it's my intention to drive the short distance from Frostburg to what's left of the once prosperous coal mining community that was Ocean. Next time, for sure. I wonder where it got that name, because believe me, it's no where near any Ocean!

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Monday, December 2, 2013

DNA Monday: 23andMe's troubles and two things to do about that is having troubles with the US FDA, or Food and Drug Administration. You can read more about the issue from a genealogy perspective here. Roberta J. Estes runs an excellent blog about DNA and genealogy and what's going on where, so thanks to her for being first in my inbox with this blog post!

If you feel strongly about this issue, there's a petition to be signed here requesting that the White House take it under advisement and step in. I couldn't wait to click through and sign that sucker!! I have personally benefited from the medical results on the 23andMe test. It pointed out an obscure genetic anomaly that I have taken up with my doctors and that we're pursuing together. So, thank you

As Roberta writes, anyone who tested with should go download both the raw data as well as the medical results overview, and she gives a nice tutorial on exactly how to do that. Those are the two things all 23andMe testers should do now. Right now. That secures you in case of a worse case scenario and the FDA bring 23andMe to it's knees and having to close its doors. And that would be a tragedy of monumental proportions in this blogger's eyes.

As for my own thoughts on the matter, the FDA needs to focus on more serious matter and get up to date on consumer DNA test kits. These tests do not by any means diagnose disorders but simple give clues about stuff you might want to look at and maybe bring to your physicians attention. We, as consumers, should not have to get a prescription from out docs for a home DNA test, a pregnancy test, or glucose sticks. Why, oh why, can you test at home for an STD but not DNA?

As I read the FDA's statement, or rather letter to 23andMe, it seems that they are concerned that we consumers might be afraid of the results. What humanly civil might be said about that, I don't even know. My thought is that anyone who uses a home DNA kit for genealogical or medical information might have the intelligence to comfort themselves should the results not be rosy. And to know what to do next. And errors? The FDA is worried about errors? Have you ever had a false positive on a medical lab test? I sure have, and where's the FDA now?


Meanwhile back at the ranch, I've made doubly sure that both Mom and I have downloaded our raw data as well as the health report overview and any other health information that might be useful, should the worse case scenario come to pass. We've pretty much contacted all the DNA relatives we care to, so we're good there and are simply waiting for new ones to arrive.

Guess that we're lucky that my brother and his wife chose to test when they did because their kits are now at the lab being processed. Talk about good timing!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Stories from Mom and Aunt Betty: Part 4, He bought two mines

This story was told to me in part by Mom and in greater detail by Aunt Betty. I just hope I get it all right but I'm sure that eventually I'll be corrected if need be. On one visit back east to see the family, I stopped by Aunt Betty's and we got to talking about the ancestors. "Daniel Williams, your great grandfather, owned two mines, a coal mine in Mt. Savage and a tin or silver mine in West Virginia," she said casually. WHAA? Oh, yes it's true, but the visions of him as a coal (or tin or silver) baron vanished when I learned the rest of the story. So here goes, and I'm going to give you the whole enchilada because it's a tasty one.

It all starts with my great grandfather, Daniel Williams (1852-1920) who was born in Wales to a coal miner father, Thomas Williams (1815-1868). Daniel's brothers are also listed as coal miners in the Wales Census records. Presumably, these men knew what they were doing when mining coal. They were multi-generational miners and learned from father to son and brother to brother. And none were lost in a mining disaster.

They lived for who knows how many generations in Strata Florida, near Tregaron, in the county of Ceredigion or Cardiganshire in Wales. There were tin mines in the area and we wonder if the Williams men once worked there. Mining skills are relatively similar for the various materials taken in Wales so it would have been no problem for them to be mining tin and then move to coal and end up in shale, which were all plentiful in Wales at the time.

Mom went there and stood in the ruins of the big Abbey at Strata Florida soaking in what was left of the memories and dust of the ancestors. Buried there is Dafydd ap Gwilym (c. 1315/1320 – c. 1350/1370), which might be translated into present day English as David Williams, who was one of the leading poets of the Middle Ages, certainly of Wales and all of Europe. He possibly died of the Black Death. Mom claims him as our own, baring solid evidence to the contrary, which we're hoping we never find.

Strata Florida Abbey
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Old Thomas who was born about 1815, married Jane James in 1841, and his sons started arriving right after. By then, even the once bountiful southern coal fields in Wales were starting to get mined out. There was too little work for too many men so wages were on a downward slide. (The Academy Award winning film "How Green Was My Valley" depicts a typical Welsh mining town and it's trails, and is worth a viewing if this interests you.)

Old Thomas died around 1868 in Tregeron, and afterward his family moved from Cardiganshire to Breckonshire. Just about that time the Consolidation Coal Company, with offices in Baltimore, Maryland and London, had its eye on the Western Maryland coal fields with their rich and mostly untouched big veins, began recruiting in Wales. Daniel Williams must have been ready to jump at a new opportunity because that's just what he did. Sometime about 1872 or 1873 (I'm confused about this) he sailed to America.

At the Consolidation Mine Company in Ocean, Allegany, Maryland he put down roots, and married Miss Jane Price (1862-1939) of Wellersburg, Pennsylvania on 28 October, 1878. In the 1880 US Census Daniel is listed as working as a coal miner, with wife Jane and son James just a year old. And so family life began in earnest.

Jane (Price) Williams and Daniel Williams.
Possibly their wedding portrait.

He built a career working for the mining company and was a solid member of the community and a home owner. Here's what Aunt Betty has to say about him from her notes:

Notes on Daniel Williams
As far as we know, Daniel lived in Midland and Ocean, MD after he arrived in the United States. He was Foreman of Mine No. 16, Consolidation Coal Company. He was a member of the George’s Creek Valley Lodge of Masons in Lonanconing, Maryland. He was selected to take a large lump of coal from Ocean Mines, Maryland to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. He was elected as a Trustee in the Ocean School District #18 on June 22, 1907.

I see two sentences and glean some further information about Daniel from Aunt Betty's write up. He was an Ocean School District Trustee. I knew that he valued education and was willing to save and pay for it because he paid for his son Joe Williams to attend the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore. So I'm guessing he was also a saver.

And then there's the trip to the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 to take the large lump of coal to be displayed. I keep searching the Frostburg Mining Journal, a true treasure trove if you have ancestors in the area, but as of yet not met with luck: there are a lot of pages and the text is small. That must have been quite an honor for him and surely covered by the local weekly newspaper that loved to trumpet about the accomplishments of its citizenry. I need to keep looking for that article!

One by one, his seven sons grew and had the opportunity to go work in the mine with him. Joe went to study music. Jimmy, the oldest, was a minor league baseball player and ended up in Texas. My Grandfather Camey disliked working in the mines and made his career elsewhere. The rest of the boys worked in the Ocean Mine Number 16 if they wanted. It was one of the safer mines and the "black car" visited there much less often than it did to the mine in Lonaconing where it went just about every day to remove a body to the undertaker.

Aunt Betty and her parents, Charles and Bronwyn, lived with her grandparents, Daniel and Jane, in their home in Ocean, which is about a 10 - 15 minute drive from Frostburg. After Daniel died in 1920 and Jane followed him in 1939, Aunt Betty and her parents continued to reside in the home.

From Aunt Betty's photo collection.

So Aunt Betty and I are sitting in her cozy living room chatting about Daniel and his life and times and she wonders out loud where he got all the money to purchase the land and coal mine in Mount Savage (which is near Frostburg) and the property in West Virginia that contained the tin or silver mine. Indeed, where did he get that money?

Let's start with the Mount Savage property because I just realized something about it. Aunt  Betty is a good researcher and an excellent organizer. Below, is the text of her transcription of the ownership of the Mt. Savage lots which she took from the deeds, and I'll point out two things after.


DEED: December 11, 1854

DEED: June 8, 1869
By and between MARTIN CLARK and TIM CLARK

DEED: December 9, 1893
By and between WILLIAM J. CRUMP and GEORGE CRUMP of Allegany County, Maryland for the sum of Fifteen Hundred dollars ($1,500.00) land known as the CRUMP FARM containing 75 acres.

DEED: March 20, 1912
By and between GEORGE CRUMP and ANNIE MARGARET CRUMP his wife to HENRY WESLOW and JULIA WESLOW, his wife by deed in the land records of Allegany County, Maryland.

DEED: October 12, 1914
By and between JULIA WESLOW of Allegany County, Maryland and DANIEL WILLIAMS AND JANE WILLIAMS, his wife for the sum of Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) the land known as the “CRUMP FARM” composed of lots No. 3369 and No. 3370 containing 75 acres more or less.

DANIEL WILLIAMS predeceased his wife leaving the title to the above described property to JANE WILLIAMS, his wife and JANE WILLIAMS having died in February of 1939 and devised the aforesaid property unto CHARLES WILLIAMS, WILLIAM D. WILLIAMS, THOMAS WILLIAMS, CAMBRIA WILLIAMS and JOSEPH WILLIAMS by will probated February 21, 1939, and recorded in the Orphans Court for Allegany County, Maryland.
To have and to hold the above described property unto the said WILLIAM D. WILLIAMS and LILLIAN WILLIAMS, his wife, as tenants of the entireties, their heirs and assigns, in fee simple forever.

DEED: November 13, 1941
By and between JOSEPH WILLIAMS and HELEN G. WILLIAMS, his wife to WILLIAM  D. WILLIAMS and LILLIAN WILLIAMS, his wife for the sum of Ten Dollars ($10.00) the land known as the “CRUMP FARM” composed of lots No. 3369 and No. 3370.

DEED: November 13, 1941
By and between CHARLES WILLIAMS and BRONWYN WILLIAMS, his wife, THOMAS D. WILLIAMS and ISABELLA R. WILLIAMS, his wife, CAMBRIA WILLIAMS and EMMA WILLIAMS, his wife for the sum of Ten Dollars ($10.00) the land known as the “CRUMP FARM”
composed of lots No. 3369 and No. 3370.

Well, look at that will ya?! My own grandfather, Cambria Williams (1897-1960) was mentioned twice in these transactions, first as part of the estate of Jane, his mother, in which the property was transferred to all the boys, and then in 1941 when his share in the title was sold for $10. But that's not the eye-popper.

When Aunt Betty and I were chatting about this, we were wondering exactly where the property was. She had a pretty good idea about it's general location but the area had become overgrown and now it was practically impossible to determine any boundaries, at least by us. Then I noticed that the property was continually referred to as the Crump Farm and Lots No. 3369 and 3370. I got super excited. Off to check the Military Lots map put out by the Evergreen Heritage Center and Frostburg State University!

You can see below a section of that map and now it's pretty easy to find the location of lots 3369 and 3370. This land was awarded to Andrew Bruce for service in the Revolutionary War. We know where this is and it's right down the hill from Mom's house! I just love this map because it thoughtfully includes present day landmarks and roads. Mom lives on Route 36.

The land in West Virginia was not as exciting to me as this property. Oh, sure, it held promise of tin and silver but after Daniel's death, the family lost it to back taxes during the Great Depression. I don't find any evidence that Daniel and the boys actually worked the West Virginia property.

The Mt. Savage property was another story. Daniel and the boys possibly had hopes of a big pay day as they watched coal prices rise to new heights due to the demand for coal during WWI. Notice that Daniel purchased the property in October of 1914 and the war began in July. They felt that there was coal on that land, no doubt, and did something there, but exactly what we don't know. It's said in the family that he wanted to mine with his sons, all accomplished coal miners (except my Grandfather Camey) and most likely thought of this as his legacy to them. Theoretically, if the mine hit a big vein the boys would all be rich beyond measure. Today some of that same property is still owned by a descendant of Daniel Williams.

When I think of the great narrative saga of Daniel William's life, from the coal mines of Wales and unfortunate times to taking a chance on a better future, then to a Western Maryland home and land ownership, I can't help but be impressed. Daniel's vision for mineral wealth seems unbound, even though it was unfulfilled, but is admirable to me. Everyone needs a big dream. It is, after all, the American way.

And where did he get the money to buy all that land? He earned it.

Now I can't help but wonder if this photo was taken on his own land and was to document the start of a mining adventure. It was taken in 1915, the year after he purchased the land in Mt. Savage.

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