Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fourteen Women, Two Photos, and a Small White Ribbon

Clara Amy Smith Bird was born in 1841 in frontier Illinois. Her parents were Joel and Amy Bartholomew Smith, early pioneers of DuPage County, Illinois. This photo of her is dated 1891. I had the photo for quite a few years before I noticed the small white ribbon pinned to her dress. It didn't look like a piece of jewelry or other embellishment. Why was she wearing a white ribbon?

While scanning old family photos in Chicago a couple of years ago, I came across this picture of a group of fourteen women. There was no explanation of the grouping on the back of the photo, and I took it to be some kind of family gathering.

I'd looked at that image quite a few times before I noticed the photo that one woman near the front is holding. When I enlarged it enough to take a good look at the small photo in the woman's hand, I was amazed to realize that I had seen that face before! It was the same 1891 photo I had of my great-great-grandmother, Clara Smith Bird. Only then did I realize that ALL fourteen women in the photo were also wearing small white ribbons.

So what did the ribbons represent?

A quick Wikipedia search for "White Ribbon" lead me to information about the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), founded in 1874 in Ohio. Frances Willard, a prominent Chicago suffragist, was elected national president of the WCTU in 1879. Clara and her husband Edwin R. Bird had many Chicago relatives, and likely traveled there on many occasions. E.R. Bird's parents had come to early Chicago from Chautauqua County, New York, birthplace of the US women's suffrage movement, and site of a WCTU pre-organizational meeting in 1874.

An undated newspaper obituary for Clara that I found in my great-grandfather F.J. Bird's album connects the two photos:

"During the twenty-seven years that she has resided in this city, she was identified with every work that had for its object the purity of society and the salvation of men. She was an active member and a staunch supporter of the W.C.T.U work. The cause of temperance was near to her heart, and by prayer and influence she sought to advance it in our city.... The obsequies held in Woodstock were in keeping with the occasion. The local union of the W.C.T.U. attended in a body."

Any good "find" generally leads to more questions, and this one is no exception. Now I'd like to identify all the women in the photo, and confirm that it really is the Woodstock union of the WCTU. I would love to know if my g-g-grandmother's Chicago and Chautauqua connections meant that she actually knew some of the leaders and reformers.

Tags : E.R. Bird , Clara A. Smith , Warrenville , Illinois , WCTU , White Ribbon , Woodstock , Temperance

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sophie Turns out to be Daphne!

This little pixie captured my attention because the picture had substantial clues (and darling little leather shoes), but not certain identity. The photo is part of an album belonging to the Warrenville Historical Society in Warrenville, Illinois. The album includes photos of Warren family descendants, including some of my direct-line ancestors. I had never seen the photo before (unlike some of the other photos, which were duplicates of photos that were part of my great-grandfather Frederick Joel Bird's collection).

What I knew: The photo was of a little girl named (I thought) Sophie who was three years old in 1896. That much was handwritten on the photo. On the back of the photo was the name and address of a photographer in St. Louis. What I didn't know was Sophie's last name and her relationship to the Warrens.

I tried searching HeritageQuest for little Sophie, but could not find anyone who matched the details I had from the photo. This week, though, all that changed. I had been doing some exploring on (FamilySearch Labs at the time I wrote this post) searching the new 1900 census index for others that I had been unable to locate through HeritageQuest or Ancestry. After a couple of attempts, I studied the photo more carefully to look for anything else that might help me identify her.

As I scrutinized the photo, I realized that I had misinterpreted the handwriting. The last two characters of the name weren't "ie" as in "Sophie." It clearly wasn't "Sophia" and I couldn't think of any other "Soph-" name. It was then that I realized the first letter was a D, and not an S. Viewing it as a "D-something" name with a "ph" in the middle lead me to "Daphne." Yes, it seemed to be Daphne, and not Sophie!

Well, still no Daphne appeared on the HeritageQuest 1900 census index. However, the 1900 census index gave me several possibilities. In the end, it was a dim recollection of a newspaper clipping I had seen in my g-grandfather's things that helped me identify Daphne. The census had one Daphne living in a household with both parents and grandparents. I would never have recognized any connection to her parents, but her grandmother's name struck me as familiar. Even though I can't find the particular wedding announcement I was remembering, it mentioned a marriage between a McKee and a Fisher. The albums that contained the photos had been donated by a McKee descendant. It made sense that the albums might contain photos of relatives other than Warrens.

The Daphne I found in the 1900 census was living with her parents Katherine F. and George M. Brown, and her grandparents, Daniel and Caroline Fisher. I searched the Illinois Statewide Marraige Index and found the marriage record (two, actually!) for Caroline (Carrie) McKee and Daniel Fisher. There are two listings, a year apart, in two separate counties!

Now that's a story for another day, if I can figure out why they are listed as having married twice!

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Tags : Warrenville Historical Society , Frederick Joel Bird , James McKee , Daphne Brown, Katherine Fisher Brown , George M. Brown , Daniel Fisher , Caroline McKee , Genealogy , Family History

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Looking for Lockwoods

Hattie W. Woodworth (1861-1948) was the daughter of Jacob and Ellen Bird Woodworth. In 1882, she married Henry Lockwood, a farmhand who worked for her family in McHenry County, Illinois. Hattie's grandmother (and my g-g-g-grandmother), Louisa Goddard Warren Bird, mentioned the marriage in a letter to her sons Byron and Henry in December of 1882:

"Hattie was married the 5th of Sept. to a Mr. Lockwood a poor young man we like him very much perhaps he may have 6,00 dollars laid by he is a farmer, worked for Eddie, a year before they were married, so they became well acquainted with him."

Henry and Hattie spent the first 30 years of their marriage in Illinois, and somehow ended up in California in the early 1900's. Henry died between the 1920 and 1930 censuses, probably in California. She died in Los Angeles in 1948.

Hattie was a cousin to my great-grandfather, Frederick Joel (FJ) Bird. In the 1940's, FJ Bird began corresponding with Hattie and several other cousins, collecting family history information. Between 1940 and 1947, she wrote more than a dozen letters to him. The letters are rich with details - a sister-in-law's passing; a granddaughter's husband gone off to war; commentary on the weather, grandchildren, and aging. Hattie's handwriting is distinctive, although not particularly easy to read. Each letter is a work of art with ruler-straight lines of carefully formed characters.

Some time after my g-grandfather's death, the correspondence files were passed on to his son (my grandfather) Marion Taylor Bird. Nearly 30 years went by, and then my grandfather retired and began his own effort to correspond with a variety of cousins and relations. Several years after my grandfather's death in 1980, my grandmother shared the files with me. I'm not retired yet, but I did end up waiting nearly 20 years before I began to study the letters carefully. (Something about small children and historic documents - not a good combination!)

Hattie and Henry had only one child, a daughter Bertha. At the time the letters were written, Bertha had three grandchildren. My guess is that there are living descendants somewhere who would enjoy reading these letters, too. Maybe they've never seen a picture of their g-g-g-grandparents, or maybe they have albums full that I'd love to see. Maybe one of those descendants has the other half of the seven year "conversation" my g-grandfather had with Hattie, since I only have her replies (not his letters to her).

So I'm off to find descendants of Henry and Hattie!
Tags : Warrenville Historical Society , Frederick Joel Bird , Jacob Woodworth , Ellen Bird , Hattie Woodworth , Henry Lockwood , Bertha Lockwood , genealogy , family history