Fall Break Part IV – Someone is Trying to Erase My Family

On our last morning in Scranton I was ready to really use that Google Map I had created for the trip.  On the map I included every address from my ancestors that I could find.  Usually you can find addresses in cities for census records from 1900 and later.  I was also able to find a lot of addresses in the city directories.

Andrew played navigator as I drove (have I mentioned that Andrew is a saint?) and he would use the map to lead me from one house to the next.  I would attempt to park at each house and one of us would snap a picture (and imagine life in 1900) and then I would enter into my phone the address.

I decided at one house to start entering the houses in advance and this proved to be a mistake, mostly because it seems someone is trying to erase any history of my family in Scranton.  We drove down an amazing street in the Dunmore area of Scranton with beautiful houses.  I thought, “Yes!  My family was rich!  And somehow I am entitled to this house!”  So as we moved slowly down the street and read the addresses I realized there was one missing.  And there was an empty lot.  Crap.  Well, let’s move on.

We drove to a neighborhood a little less nice, but still some cute houses.  We drove down the street, Andrew announced the address, and I drove past another….you guessed it, empty lot.  There was a house on either side!  In fact, it was the ONLY empty lot on the street.  This literally happened 5 times.  Almost the same situation every time!  Both houses on either side were there….and then there was an empty lot.  The one that was NOT like this situation was the street that was completely removed and taken over by a warehouse.

By the fifth house, obscenities were coming from both Andrew and I.  And then Andrew said, “Someone is trying to erase your family.”  Oh haha….

And then I thought about it…

  • The gravestones covered in mud at Forest Hills Cemetery
  • Emmaretta Lacey’s missing headstone
  • 5 houses completely gone.  Bulldozed.  Surrounded on all sides by survivors.
  • An odd missing page from the Scranton newspaper where Andrew was trying to find my grandfather’s obituary.  It was literally the ONLY page missing.

I did find a few houses though.  Here is what I found:

Home of Charles W. Kinsley Jr. and Sr. in 1930s and 1940s

116 Oak Street. I found this picture in an old photo album of my mom's. I am guessing this was taken sometime before 1955.

 

Updated picture, Fall 2011 of 116 Oak Street. I love the subtle differences.

Home of Charles W. Kinsley Sr. in 1918

According to Zillow.com the last time this house was sold was in 1944 for $46,500. I am wondering if it was always multi-family. They could have definitely used the space as Chick, Sr. and his wife had 7 children.

Marion Lacey’s Childhood Home in 1900

1002 Columbia. This is the home of my great grandmother Marion and her father Bascom Taylor Lacey.

Newlywed home of my grandparents, Charles and Lois (Smith) Kinsley

1107 Lafayette Street - This is what the home looked like in 1943, right after my mother was born. This is the home where my grandparents lived right after they married and had my mom. It was really pretty back then.

 

It says "1109" but it's actually 1107 Lafayette. Unfortunately we didn't see this one in real life while we were there, but I found a picture of it when I got home on the Google maps. It's not looking so hot these days. It seems a lot has been removed all around it. Sad.

Despite seeing a lot of empty lots, we were able to find a lot of other homes that made it worth the trip.  I love seeing the old and the new photos together.  Now I’m gonna have to rummage through some more pictures to see what I can find that I might have missed previous to this trip.

I think a summer trip to Scranton might be in order.  Right?  Yes…I think so.

Fall Break Part III – The Cemetery Tour: Hillary Clinton’s Gotta Be Pissed

We didn’t stay at the train station hotel our entire trip.  In fact, we were so very lucky to have some condo timeshare points donated to us by my sister!  She has a condo through Wyndham and some leftover points she would not be using, as she had just given birth to our new nephew.  Wyndham has a great place located in Stroudsburg, PA.  They were amazing, huge, and beautiful.  We had a two bedroom with a full kitchen, balcony, two bathrooms, a lovely view, and cable TV.  All for just the two of us.  At this point I really wished we could have found someone else to come with us to share these lovely amenities.

Our vacation home in the morning. Lovely.

Stroudsburg is a bit of a drive to Scranton, but not horrible.  It is, however, a delightfully quaint town.  I mean that in the least offensive way.  I just wanted to walk all around the town and window shop, chuckling at the clever names of the stores.  But we didn’t have time for that nonsense.  There was researching to be done.  I also was happy to be there because my great great grandfather, Bascom Taylor Lacey, spent his latter years in East Stroudsburg. Where he ended up at death is still kind of a mystery to me.

So after a full day at the library I decided the next day would be a half-cemetery/half-library day.  The weather had cleared up a bit and I thought we should take advantage of a clearish fall day.  The first stop we made was to Abington Hills.  This is a cemetery outside of Scranton proper that I learned at the library, the day prior, was where my great grandparents (L. Carlyle and Cora Motzenbacher Smith) are buried.  I was told by a woman at the library that it might be difficult to find people at some of these cemeteries because the man who owns Abington Hills also owns a cemetery in town called Washburn Street Cemetery.  He has been known to be neglectful of the cemeteries to the point of incarceration.  I wasn’t sure this was accurate information but I braced myself for a nasty trip.  We were the only people in the cemetery.  It really wasn’t horrible.  There were parts that needed some work and it could have used regular lawn mowing.  But most of the headstones were standing up.  I was unable to find a place with records or maps, but luckily I just happened upon my relatives driving by!  Now, this is when I realized how many Smiths and Jones there are in the world (or Scranton at least).  Holy crackerjacks. Every three seconds or so my heart would do a little jump because I would see a last name I needed and then would sigh, “oh, nope.”  This happened over and over, till I actually found them.

This is the headstone for William J. and Nellie (Jones) Smith, Louis Carlyle's parents. You may recognize their names as the ones on the birth certificate I posted earlier.

Here is the headstone for Louis Carlyle Smith and his wife Cora (Motzenbacher) Smith. They are my great grandparents who both died before I was born.

Cora and L. Carlyle sometime before 1960.

We headed out of Abington Hills and towards the city.  Washburn Street Cemetery was our next stop.  Keep in mind, this is the second cemetery owned by Mr. Neglecty Neglecterson we will have visited.  That is a hard name to say.

As we drove into the cemetery it started to sprinkle a little bit, which really just encompassed the entire feel of the cemetery, which I would call “sad and abused”.  This is a cemetery in the middle of town, an historic cemetery, where many of those who died in the Avondale Mine disaster (where over 100 people died in a mine shaft) are buried.  This is not a cemetery that is no longer burying people and has been abandoned, but you would never know it!

As I mentioned in an earlier post about the Scranton Lace Company, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s family is also from Scranton, PA.  In fact, some of her family and some of my family worked together at the Scranton Lace Company.  When I came home from my trip I did a little more research about some of the places we visited on our PA trip.  One of them was the Washburn Street Cemetery.  And who is buried there?  Hillary’s parents!  And her mother JUST died!  I am guessing Hillary Clinton was at the cemetery at some point recently and saw the state of where her parents are spending their afterlife.  It was appalling.  Some of the great things about said cemetery:

  • Knee-deep grass in spots.  Keep in mind, this is mid-October.  The grass is not ever out of control this time of year.
  • The man who was actually out mowing today was running into and over headstones.  It sounded like he was actually trying to kill the lawnmower.  Now, it was difficult to see the headstones, so I can hardly blame him, beacause…
  • They’re knocked over all over the place!  Very nice headstones ALL over the ground.
  • And holes that were actually trying to sprain my ankle…which of course I couldn’t see because of the grass.
  • The fence was a hot mess, which might explain how people are able to get in and knock down the headstones.
  • My favorite part:  The racing wheels someone is storing near the back of the cemetery.  Really?  Really??!?

Needless to say, I had a very hard time finding anyone in here.  I was looking for my Motzenbacher family (who I know are buried here) and only found one, David.  He’s a great great uncle.

A great great uncle of mine. Where is Sylvester? Who could ever find out in this hot mess of a cemetery?

Not what I was hoping for.

What I did find, and was very amused by, was this headstone.

A spot for visitors.

Enough about my rage over Washburn.

Our last stop would be Forest Hill in the Dunmore area of Scranton.  This is kind of a fancy suburb with cute houses (I’m not sure if I should use “cute” to describe some of the mansions but…) and rolling hills, with areas of scenic wooded areas.  The cemetery is one of those wooded areas.  Dunmore Cemetery butts up to Forest Hill and is easy to confuse.  We went looking for some of my Kinsleys and Laceys who I know to be buried there.  We took one lap around the place and decided this was crazy.  There was a phone number on the website for the cemetery and good old Andrew gave a call.  Turns out the lady answering the phone was at the service building at the front of the cemetery and was so gracious and helpful.  I loved her.

She pulled out the burial card for the plot and I learned a lot more than what I thought was there.  In addition to being the burial place for Charles and Marion (Lacey) Kinsley it is also the burial place for Marion’s brother (Turman Lacey) and mother (Emmaretta Foster Lacey).  All of this was paid for by Emmaretta’s husband, Bascom Taylor Lacey (AKA B.T. Lacey).  Here’s the weird part.  Bascom is not buried here and Emmaretta was not given a headstone.  She died suddenly in her mid 40s.  No headstone.  Everyone else in the bunch has a headstone, not Emmaretta.  So I asked if she’d EVER had a headstone.  Nope!  Never.  And where on earth is Bascom?  So after the lady gave us the information and instructions out to the plot we drove over.  This is what we found:

See the dark parts of those headstones? That was all mud Andrew scraped off. This is the point in the trip where Andrew said, "Someone hates your family." All that mud behind them? Those are the other plots in my family completely covered in mud.

We decided after taking a few pictures that we would stop by the front office again to let the lady know what a mess it was.  She said that they hire the guy from the other cemetery to do burials and it turns out they had a burial next to them recently and they never cleaned it up!  Great.  Cemetery success!  Forest Hill was still by far the nicest of the cemeteries we visited in Scranton, with the best help.

Fall Break Part IV:  We will visit the homes of my old relatives.  At least…we’ll try.  Maybe Andrew was right, someone hated our family.

Scranton Lace Company, Here I Come

Teaching is hard.  Like….really hard.  You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in two months!  Two whole months!  Sometimes I’ll sit down to the computer to write something out cause I have a great thought…and maybe…just maybe…a three sentence post is better than no post at all.  But I am honestly too tired to even begin to think about what to write.

I started teaching this year, full-time, US History and US Government.  I have had not a moment’s rest since the first day of school.  But today…I took a little diversion from grading bell-ringer worksheets and started planning my fall break.  I work at Indianapolis Public Schools and we are now on what is called a “balanced schedule”.  This means we go to school earlier in the fall, get out later in the spring, but have these amazing breaks in between.  So I have a lovely 2 week fall break coming up, and I can’t wait!

I am heading out east to visit some friends in NYC and do some family history research in Scranton, PA, FINALLY!  I am absolute delighted to be going to Scranton, where generations of Kinsleys, Laceys, and Smiths resided.  This is the town where my mom spent her young childhood.  This is also the town of the fictional Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company.  If there was a museum devoted to The Office we would be going.

While I got distracted, planning my vaca, I also took a little diversion onto ancestry.com (so naughty! I know!) and just did a general search for Charles W. Kinsley (my grandfather and also his father).  I ended up finding a new little tidbit of information about what C.W. Kinsley Sr. did as an occupation.  The 1936 City Directory had him working as a purchase agent at the Scranton Lace Company.  So I decided to Google the Scranton Lace Company to see if it was still in operation.  Sadly it seems that it closed in 2002 – but I was utterly delighted to come upon someone’s photo-blog of their urban exploration photos of this shuttered factory.  The photos are amazing, and have me dying to go visit.  If you’re into abandoned/urban decay pictures, you’ll love this:

The Art of Abandonment

As I was reading more about this company I came to find out that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s father and grandfather worked in this factory as well!  So I perused the R’s in the 1937 Directory and the one page that the Rodhams were on was missing!  Shenanigans!  So I looked to see if they had any other years posted and they did!  One year earlier, 1936.  So I looked up the Kinsleys first to make sure they were working at the factory then as well.  They were.  Then I found Mr. Hugh Rodham!  And yes, he worked at the lace factory with my great-grandfather.

1905 Scranton Lace Company Gold Bond Note

In addition to their place of employment, the directory also lists their residences.  It turns out these two fellows lived less than a mile from each other, both pretty close to the factory.

Whether you appreciate the Clinton’s politics or not, it’s pretty cool to have a link to a “first family”.

 

Black Sheep Sunday: Horse thief or son of a redcoat?

I’m not gonna lie.  I love a little family drama, especially when that drama that has LONG past.  Drama in my current living family?  Not quite as fun.

My Munn branch seems to have quite a little bit of it, including the guy who brought us to this country in the first place and presumably gave generations of Munns their last name.

Family crest for the Munn family of England.

The farthest back we have traced my Munn branch of the family is to a fellow named Thomas Atherton Munn.  What has been assumed and asserted by many is that Atherton was originally the last name of this family and Munn was added to disguise some sketchy life choices.

Story One

My dad says that this is the story that my great grandfather (John Darl Munn, Sr.) swears by:  Thomas Atherton Munn was actually born in England and was being held in a sort of jail.  Supposedly he had stolen a horse or something of the like.  He, along with 60 others, broke out from jail and he somehow escaped to the United States.  He swapped his middle and last name to avoid getting caught.  This is how he became a Munn and was no longer an Atherton.

Story Two:

Thomas Atherton was born in New York/New Jersey, and his father was actually a British Loyalist (redcoat) in the US during the American Revolution.  When his father deserted the British side he change his last name to his wife’s maiden name.

Other rumblings about the family/person of interest:

There was a horse thief in the Atherton family who was hung.  The family was so ashamed that they changed their name to a maiden name.

What do the facts say?

  • Thomas Atherton Munn lived in Bradford County, Pennsylvania in 1820, 1830, and 1840.
  • Thomas Munn was one of the early settlers in Litchfield, Pennsylvania.
  • He married Mary Wolcott and had 13 children.

If there’s anyone out there who has done research to come up with something solid about this horse theif/son of a redcoat, please let me know.   The problem is that multiple books written during or about this time have opposing facts.

For those of you who might be cousins out there, here is how TA Munn is related to me:

He is my 5th great grandfather.

Thomas Atherton > (son) Silas Munn > (son) John Parks Munn > (son) Willard Ord Munn > (son) John Darl Munn Sr. > (daughter) Gene Odelle Munn > (son) John Brown > (me!) Erin Brown

New Year for New Adventures

As this year comes to a close, I still have one little trip planned for next week.  My friend, C-Dogg B-Dizzle, showed some interest in visiting nearby Monroe and Greene counties to see the places where her B-Dizzle ancestors first came to Indiana.

Next year I have a short list of places I would like to visit to continue on my search:

1.) Darke County, OH – Again.  I have already been out there this past year, but there is SO much research to be done on my Dad’s side and Andrew’s Mom’s side.  I could do work there for an entire week.  Maybe I’ll get crazy and even find a cheap hotel and do an overnighter.

 

Garst Museum in Darke County (Greenville, OH) where researching ancestry is made easy by great help!

2.)  Keithsburg, IL – This is the farthest back I can get in the Nelson branch.  While I know that James A. Nelson was born in Kentucky, and spent some time in Indiana, he was last heard from in Keithsburg, IL, a town along the Mississippi River.  What worries me is that Keithsburg, and much of Mercer County, has a horrible habit of being flooded.  I am afraid that records will be scarce.  We shall see.  While taking a trip to Keithsburg I am determined to stop in Springfield on the way and visit the Lincoln attractions.  I am gonna nerd it up ALL the way.

3.)  Pennsylvania/New York – Pennsylvania has very poor online records, which is unfortunate for me because my Mom’s entire family came through Pennsylvania.  I would really like to have a Scranton, Lock Haven, Laceyville, Binghamton NY trip.  One thing I am really interested in seeing are some buildings in the Binghamton area that my ggg grandfather built, as he was a regionally known architect.  At one point I had a whole map created about the route to get there, where to stop, and where to stay.  I think it’s perfect for a summer trip.

4.)  Local libraries.  I still have not gotten to the Indiana State Library.  Shame.  Also, the Ft. Wayne library is KIND of calling my name.  It’s supposedly the biggest genealogy section outside of the Salt Lake City collection.

5.)  Union, SC – This is kind of the stretch.  I very highly doubt I’ll make it to South Carolina, but this is the absolute farthest I have been able to trace my Brown family online.  Some fellow named Alexander Brown left Union, SC and settled the family in Darke County, where many still remain today.  I would LOVE to get down there.  If not this year, maybe next.

Happy Holidays!  Here’s to a new year of research excitement and adventure!