Wednesday, May 30, 2012

* Decoration Day *

      It was the War Between the States.  The American Civil War started on April 12, 1861 at Ft Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina and after four long years, the bloody battle ended n April 9, 1865 at the Appomattox Court House in Appomattox, Virginia.
     Decoration Day was started on this day, May 30, in 1868 as a day of remembrance for the soldiers who died in the Civil War.  General John A. Logan, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union Army veterans' organization wanted to honor the brave men who died fighting for their country.  The graves were decorated with flowers.
     I only know of two ancestors who died in the Civil War and both of those men were on my maternal grandmother, Eleanor's father's side.  MaMa's father, Samuel George Davis had an ancestor on his father's side as well as on his mother's side who fought in the Union Army.
     Samuel's maternal grandfather, Samuel C. Braught lived in northwestern Ohio with his wife and two children when he joined the army.  I don't have much information on my 3rd great-grandfather other than what I found in a pension record.  In one of the records for his daughter, I saw that Samuel was from New York.  I don't know where or when Samuel C. Braught was born and died.  I wonder if he is buried in Ohio?
     Samuel Davis' other ancestor who died for his country was his grand-uncle Daniel Davis, his paternal grandfather William Davis' younger brother.  According to the records I found, Daniel was born April 15, 1838 in Marlborough, New York.  He enlisted in the 120th regiment on June 8, 1862 at the age of 22.  In the 16 months that he served, he fought in the Battle at Fredericksburg and Chancellorville, was wounded at Gettysburg and taken prisoner at James City where he died as a POW on Belle Isle and is buried.
     Belle Isle is a small island in the James River in Richmond, Virginia.  During the American Civil War, the island served as a prison for Union soldiers.  The prisoners were not housed in buildings.  They were sheltered by tents.  Many of the soldiers died of starvation, exposure to harsh weather and trying to escape the island.
     I came across another record which has conflicting information.  I have records that show Daniel joined the army in June of 1862 and served 16 months before dying as a prisoner of war at Belle Isle prison.  The 1865 NY State Census Civil War Death Record has Daniel joining in August of 1862 and dying in February of 1863 in Libby Prison which was in Richmond, Virginia.  I'm sure both of these records are for my ancestor.  How many Daniel Davis from Marlborough,NY joined at the age of 22 and died a POW in Virginia at the age of 23?  I read that enlisted men passed through Libby Prison but didn't necessarily stay.  Maybe Daniel was actually at Belle Isle after Libby?  I still don't know where he is buried.

Monday, May 28, 2012


     Originally called Decoration Day back in the late 1860's with women decorating the graves of the Civil War soldiers, Memorial Day honors those who died in military service.  The traditional holiday was May 30th started in 1868 by General John A. Logan, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic which was the Union Army veterans organization.  He wanted a day of remembrance designated for the purpose of decorating the graves of the comrades who died fighting for their country.  By WWI, the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.  In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971.  This same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.
     I have many ancestors who served this country proudly but only two that I know of who died during the war.  I'll write about Samuel and Daniel on May 30th for my post about Decoration Day.  Those men lost their lives in the American Civil War.

                                       R.I.P.  and thank you

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mommy's Little Helper

     My son is 5 years old and has an answer for everything.  The other evening while he and his daddy were playing a video game, I asked if they would mind if I stayed in the other room to do a little research.  I said that I was going to look up a few names and get ideas for my blog.  I told them that I had absolutely nothing to write about.  My little Gregory stood up and told me to write about "dead people".  A little while later he came in to tell me that I should do Zak's genealogy.  Zak was our dog who looked like a wolf and died two years ago.  He lived a long life though. ♥  Greg and I had been talking about Zak a lot lately because we watched a wolf show at the local fair last weekend.  I told Greg that I missed Zak.  With a straight face and matter of fact tone he replied that I should get a wolf pup, name him Zak then I won't be missing him anymore.  Like I said, this boy has an answer for everything.
     A few weeks ago while wasting time on the computer with a silly game, my son walked into the room and asked me what I was doing.  I quickly changed screens on the computer and before I could reply, he smiled and in a singsong voice asked "are you looking for your ancestors?"  So I said, "no, actually I'm blogging..."
     Yesterday I told Gregory that he can be my genealogy assistant and help me when I go to the cemetery.  He told me that he was never Ever going to a cemetery again until he's dead.  Oh my goodness!  I think I traumatized the child.  Last summer I took him with me to a cemetery to take photos of headstones for a friend who lives in another state.  Gregory is not afraid of cemeteries but this was a never ending trip.  I had told him that we were just going to take pictures then go straight home.  Well, we were driving and driving along and as we were driving Greg saw a cemetery ahead and wanted to stop.  I had to explain that this was not the cemetery we needed.  This trip took about an hour each way plus the time we spent at the cemetery.  On the drive home he told me that he never wanted to go to a cemetery again.
     Well, that was last summer.  Fast forward to present day and I now have a little research assistant.  Gregory has agreed to accompany me after I offered to pay him for helping me.
     Gregory is Mommy's Little Helper.....  ♥

Friday, May 11, 2012

Can't Cure Crazy?

Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane,  Poughkeepsie,NY

                      and the diagnosis is...

     Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my 2nd great-grandmother, Flora was in the insane asylum back in 1892.  What a discovery...

"wife place in the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane at Poughkeepsie, NY"

     Those were the words I read in the U.S. Special Census on Deaf Family Marriages and Hearing Relatives, 1888-1895.  I actually found this census while looking up records for my 2nd great-grandfather, Daniel Davis.  Section II of this particular census was filled out by the husband and had information such as parents names, whether deaf or hearing, age when deafness occurred and cause of deafness, if admitted to an institution - the residence when admitted and age.  The wife's section was not filled out except for the letter 'D' to indicate 'deaf' and the statement regarding her being placed in the hospital.  Well, actually there was another question on the wife's page that was answered.  The question asking the residence when admitted to an institution had the answer 'NY'.  At first I thought that maybe the third party man who signed and dated this census put the same answer as the husband.  I thought it was wrong because Flora was from Ohio.  Then I thought that maybe Daniel and Flora first met at the deaf school.  Daniel was from New York.  Why else would he be in Ohio unless it was to go back with Flora to her home state or to meet her again in Ohio.  Daniel left school in 1878 and was listed with his family in the 1880 U.S. Census.
     Daniel Davis and Flora Braught were married in 1884 in the state of Ohio.  There is no 1890 U.S. Census due to fire.  This special census on deaf marriages was filled out in 1892 so if Daniel and Flora weren't living in NY at that time then maybe they were visiting his family.  The 1900 census shows them living in OH and by the 1910 census they were living in Brooklyn, NY.
     What happened to Flora?  What caused my 2nd great-grandmother to become a resident of the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane?  She was only 29 years old and had two young children.  Her son, Samuel, my great-grandfather was just 8 years old when his mother was in the hospital.  I wonder if that was part of Samuel's behavioral problems, besides the fact that both his parents were deaf and he was not.  I had already written about Samuel's 'incorrigible' behavior being the reason he was admitted to a reform school as a young teenager.  That was before I found out his mother was put in a state hospital when he was a child.
     It  seems like the prescription for everything back then was the state hospital.  From tuberculosis and epilepsy to stress and female issues.  Was Flora admitted for an actual illness or was she just in dire need of rest and relaxation?

The Hudson River State Hospital was a Kirkbride building.

more about Kirkbride buildings:


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Special Censuses

     The U.S. Federal Census is taken every ten years.  The first census was back in 1790.  If I had any ancestors in that first census, I have no idea who they were.
     There were also some state censuses.  I found my maternal great-grandmother, Josephine Duper and her parents in the 1905 New York State Census.  I don't know why Josie was listed with her parents when I'm sure she was still in the deaf school that she attended in 1900 and 1910 (according to the U.S. Federal Census).  I did not find see the 1915 NY State Census and by the 1920 census she was married with two young children.
     Josie's husband, Samuel was not deaf but his parents Daniel and Flora Davis were.  Josie was struck with Scarlett Fever at a very young age and was in a deaf school by the age of 5.  I don't have any information about Josie's mother-in-law, Flora but I have two records for Daniel.  I first learned of Flora's father-in-law's deafness from the 1870 U.S. Federal Census which stated that he was 'deaf and dumb'.  I stumbled upon another census quite by accident which provided a bit more information about my 2nd great-grandfather.  I found the U.S. Federal Census - 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes which stated that Daniel Davis lost his hearing due to 'Brain Fever' at the age of 7 and was a student of a deaf school for 8 years.
     I recently discovered another type of census which provided interesting information.  The U.S. Special Census on Deaf Family Marriages and Hearing Relatives 1888-1895 has contradicting information than what I already had.  This record had Daniel's date of birth as Jan. 1, 1859 yet I had 1860.  My 2nd great-grandfather answered these questions so he should know and provide the correct answers.

  Sec II, Questions To Be Answered By Husband

question 4:
Are you deaf or hearing?  D
If deaf, Age when deafness occurred?  5
Cause of deafness?  Brain fever
Residence when admitted?  Milton, Ulster Co, NY
Year when admitted?  1869  Age when admitted?  10
     I was a little bothered by the answers that I saw in this latest census I found regarding the deaf family marriages and hearing relatives.  This particular census states that deafness occurred at the age of 5 yet the other special census - the 1880 Schedules for Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent classes has the age of 7.  The census about deaf families states that Daniel was 10 years old when he was admitted to an institution in 1869 and the other census states that the length of time in institution is 8 years and he left in 1878.  These dates are off by a year.  I saw censuses that showed Daniel's birth as 'abt' 1859, the 1930 census as 'abt' 1860 and the 1900 census shows Jan. 1860.  Although this special deaf family marriage census had Daniel's birthday as Jan. 1, 1859, I will go by the year 1860.  The 1910 census has Jan 1860 and his death certificate shows 1860.  My 2nd great-grandfather might have answered the questions but I don't think that he actually wrote the answers.  The last page is dated then signed by a third party. 
     This census on deaf family marriages has questions for the husband to answer followed by the wife's answers.  The wife did not fill out her section.  So, how do I know that this census is for my 2nd great-grandfather>  His name was Daniel J. Davis with father Wm H and mother Emily. His place of residence was Milton, NY and date of birth Jan. 1, 1859 (or 1860).  This has to be my Daniel because how many Daniel J. Davises could there be with the same birth date, parents, town and deafness caused by brain fever?  The only information in the wife's section that was filled out was 'D' for the 'Are you deaf or hearing' question.  On this same page was written "wife placed in the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane at Poughkeepsie,NY".  Is that why section III (questions to be answered by the wife) was not filled out?  An Insane Asylum?  I'll have to devote a separate blog post for that.
     You never know what tidbits of information you'll find in any of the records you look at.