Here is a photo of me and my brother (Minnie and Mickey Mouse) and two of our cousins from Halloween 1985. We are standing in our grandfather's TV room.
©2013, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder
My son brought home his Kindergarten photos today, so, of course, I had to find mine in my box of old photos. His came out all right. I can tell that this isn't his 'natural' smile, but he looks happy and he's not making some weird face or anything. My Kindergarten photo, on the other hand, wasn't very good. Ok, so I was shy - really shy - and I'm five years old and this complete stranger is trying to make me laugh and smile? I wasn't buying it. (I remember I did LOVE that dress - purple was my favorite color.)
©2013, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder
Wordless Wednesday: October 1981
This week, my census post is about the family of Theodor Tumbusch, one of my husband's great-great-grandfathers. Theodor arrived in the U.S. in June 1861. He came over on the same ship as Anna Rasing, who he married in Mercer County, Ohio in August 1861. It is most likely that they emigrated from Germany together, with the intention of marrying in the States, but, who knows, maybe it was a 'ship romance,' instead. The first U.S. census in which they appear the 1870 census (click for larger image):
By 1870, Theodor and Anna have five children: Elizabeth (Lizzie), Henry, Mary, Bernard (Barney), and Herman. They live in Butler Township in Mercer County. Because Theodor is a farmer, I also tried to find him in the 1870 U.S. Agriculture Census, but, unfortunately, individual farms are not listed for Mercer County - just a summary for each township. So, I don't really have any more information on what was produced on the farm. The 'value of real estate' listed on this form is only $200. Compared with some of the other real estate values for farmers in this township, it appears as if the Tumbusch farm was likely quite small.
Unfortunately, Theodor would not live to see 1871. He passed away on December 10, 1870 at the age of 36. I have not been able to find his death record, but I imagine the death was a sudden one. His will is not located in the microfilmed probate records of Mercer County, and, in fact, the index states that no papers have been located for the probate file number. In the end, Anna was left to run the farm alone with five young children to care for.
This is one of those times in which I had more information about a person and family. Anna never remarried. How did she run a farm, especially in the years immediately following Theodor's death? I'm sure she had help from her church and community, but there is no doubt that her children must have had to 'grow up' quickly and help with the chores and farming. In the 1880 census, she is listed as head of household living with her four children, Henry, Mary, Bernard, and Herman. (I am unsure as to whether Elizabeth had died or simply got married; she would have been about 18 in 1880, so it's possible.) The family is also no longer living in Butler Township, but have instead relocated to Marion Township.
Next to Bernard and Herman's name, who are ages 12 and 10 respectively, there is a check for 'Attended school within the census year.' Being a widow with no other live-in farmhands, Anna could have very easily justified keeping her two youngest sons home from school at this age. But she didn't, and I think it's admirable that she allowed them to get an education, especially when it may have made her life a bit harder.
Fortunately, I WAS able to find Anna and her farm in the 1880 U.S. Agriculture Census. As suspected, they have a very small 30-acre farm with only a few cows and a handful of pigs. It was probably very much just a subsistence farm and the family was probably quite poor.
©2013, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder
Earlier this week, I composed a post for a series that I am participating in on my other blog. Since it is related to one of my childhood homes, I thought I would reproduce it on my family history blog, too. The blogging prompt was 'Your Childhood Home.'
I lived in three homes between babyhood and young adulthood. The first home I lived in, I don't remember too much; we moved out of it when I was about four years old. The third home I lived in, we moved in when I was 16, and I left for college when I was 18, so I really only lived there full-time for a couple of years. Therefore, I'm going to talk about the house I lived in roughly between the ages of 5 and 15.
The house was located on Woodbury Hills Drive in Parma, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. Both sets of my grandparents lived in Parma, but we had been living about a hour away in Painesville, Ohio, because that is where my Dad worked. My Dad's mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was about three or four; we moved to Parma to be closer to family. (Dad continued to commute to Painesville for work for several more years.)
Our house in Painesville had been a small ranch, so my parents were looking for a larger house. My brother and I were getting bigger, accumulating more 'stuff,' and they wanted to have more children, so they needed a place where our family could grow. They bought the house on Woodbury Hills from an older 'empty-nest' couple. At that time they purchased it, the home was almost 20 years old. Structurally, it was in fine shape, but it needed a lot of maintenance-related and cosmetic upgrades. I remember my dad painting all of the shutters and siding by himself; he also put a new roof on with the help of one of his contractor friends. My parents re-wallpapered the kitchen and bathrooms on their own and they had just about all of the carpeting on the main floor and staircase replaced.
I do not have a great photo here at my house (my mom's probably got a better one), so I'll post the one from Google Street View. It's a four-bedroom 'Colonial style' two-story house with a two-car garage. The exterior is white aluminum siding with black shutters and a black roof. There was a small amount of red brick surrounding the large bay window on the left side of the photo. The house had a large all-brick wood-burning fire place, a poured concrete patio in the backyard and a concrete front porch (behind tree in this photo.)
The house was on a nice suburban street that had only local traffic and sidewalks, which was great because in our old house, the lack of sidewalks meant that I was only allowed to ride my bike up and down our long driveway. We had a nice big backyard, with a small metal swing set to play on and a plastic 'tire' swing on the big tree in the back corner. When we got our dog, Cookie, my Dad tied a clothesline from the house all the way out to that big tree, and attached an extended leash to it, so she could run the length of the yard.
Instead of just describing the home's floorplan, I've attempted to piece together photos to create my own panoramas of some of the rooms. This first compilation of photos takes you almost 360 degrees around our front living room. My parents added that nice dark red carpet after we moved in. My mom also got new window treatments on that bay window. When we moved in, that window had thick, mustard yellow drapes (and when I say 'drapes,' I mean DRAPES - big and bulky and not very attractive). (Click on photos to enlarge.)
A lot happened in the living room, as you can see. We kept our extra TV in there and it was where we usually set up our Christmas tree. For many of the years we lived there, there was a large wooden baby playpen somewhere in the room for whichever of my siblings was the baby at the time.
If you walked straight past the living room after entering the front door, you entered the kitchen. Our kitchen was way too small for a family of seven; our casual dining table barely even fit in there. Nonetheless, we cooked in there, fed babies, celebrated birthdays, carved pumpkins, and dyed Easter eggs in this room. When we moved in, the kitchen's walls were covered in *bright* orange, yellow and green flowers - talk about a trend from the 60s! My parents replaced that wallpaper with one that was more neutral and easier on the eyes. We had a "lovely" avocado green refrigerator. My mom kept a boom box on the ledge separating the kitchen from the living room. She would put on tapes to listen to while preparing meals. It was here, through that boom box, that my brother and I first listened to Michael Jackson's Thriller, Huey Lewis and the News' Sports and The Cars' Heartbeat City. My parents also kept a rather flimsy wine rack on the same ledge as the boom box. I am not sure how that thing made it through five kids and 10+ years without completely shattering all over the floor, but it did.
Adjacent to the kitchen was the 'formal' dining room. We usually only used it if we had company over for Easter, Thanksgiving, or birthday parties. There's a good shot of those mustard yellow drapes!
The basement door was located right off the kitchen. I don't have any photos from the basement, but my brother and I had lots of good times down there. Whenever my parents had to buy a new large appliance, they'd throw the box down there and we would roll around in it. My mom had a record player down there. I specifically remember listening and dancing to Linda Ronstadt's Greatest Hits albums, and, in particular, the song It's So Easy. My brother had a TON of Matchbox cars that we would race on his track sets. And, as we got older, the basement is where we played video games: first an Atari 2600, then a Classic Nintendo, and then a Sega Genesis system. My mom also did laundry down in the basement, and I remember helping her many times with that. (Ok, so maybe catching toys my brother tossed down the laundry chute from upstairs isn't exactly "helping," but it's a fun memory anyway.)
Just past the basement door was a hallway that lead to our large 'family room.' You had to take a step down in order to get into that hallway. At one time or another, all THREE of my brothers fell in that hallway and hit their heads on that step, leaving a gash in their foreheads, which required a trip to the ER (and stitches). For some reason, it never happened to me or my sister.
I wasn't able to make a 360 degree panorama of our family room, so I put two smaller ones together, instead. This is one of the west wall of the room, which included our large brick wood-burning fireplace. The walls of the entire room were wood paneling, which made it look rather dark most of the time. Along the south wall, we had a long church pew. My parents bought it from our church when they were building a new church and getting completely new furnishings. It was the church in which they were married, and they still have it in their current home. The door out to the garage was on the other side of that pew.
This other photo is the east wall of the family room. The door on the left was a tiny half bathroom and the door in the right was an exterior door that lead out to our patio. The large bookcase held most of our childhood books. During the summer months, the desk back in the corner had an Apple IIe computer that my brother and I used to enjoy playing games on. (My Dad was a school administrator and was able to 'check out' one of his school's computers for the summer.)
I don't have any photos right now of this home's upper floor. There were four bedrooms and two full baths, one of which was in the master bedroom. My room was painted blue and it was pretty large. As our family grew, there was a shuffling of rooms between my brothers, but I always remained in my blue room. My oldest younger brother got the smallest bedroom, and then my other two brothers who were closer in age shared the 'green' room. I briefly shared my room with my baby sister, but my parents moved her crib into their room when they realized I was at that age (12ish) when I really needed some privacy. I had a twin bed and dresser+mirror, which were painted a light gray color. I also had a larger wooden bookshelf and a smaller one, which doubled as a night stand. I was not a 'girly' girl, so there were not really a whole lot of baby dolls or Barbie dolls. I enjoyed playing with My Little Ponies for awhile, so those were usually strewn across my bedroom floor.
The staircase between the home's main floor and upper floor is memorable to my brother and me. We would collect every pillow in the house, lay them out on that staircase, and make a 'pillow slide.' That staircase wall was also where my mom hung all of our family photos.
©2013, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder
Taking a Break from Ancestry.com
Since I first started researching my genealogy and my husband's genealogy almost three years ago, I've had a pretty constant relationship with Ancestry.com. I have a U.S. membership on a six-month renewal schedule. Up until recently, I know that what I paid to maintain the subscription was well worth it, as far as the quality and quantity of records that I found through the site. My subscription is up for renewal in early November, and I have decided that I am going to cancel it, at least for now. I feel like, even when I manually search some of their non-indexed and more 'obscure' data sets , I still struggle to uncover new and/or helpful documents pertaining to our families. So now, I don't feel as if the subscription cost is justified, especially when I can use the money I save to order other state and government documents that will be of more help. I know that Ancestry is constantly adding and expanding document sets, but none of their recent additions have been helpful to my family. That could change in the future, so our relationship is really just 'on a break' right now.
I've also found Ancestry to be a bit of a time sink for me; I wander randomly through different branches of our trees, searching for anything new to add. After doing family history research for several years, I now know of so many other ways in which to obtain documents - other websites, genealogy libraries, government agencies - and I have a backlog of non-Ancestry leads to pursue that I feel like I may never get to if I keep 'putzing around' on Ancestry too much.
Of course, I have electronic and paper copies of all the records I've found on Ancestry, and I maintain my own family history websites where they are located as well, so I don't feel like I'm losing anything by not having access to the documents through Ancestry. I also will still continue to use my Family Tree Maker program on my desktop computer.
I feel like this will be a 'liberating' experience for me - being away from Ancestry for a bit. What about you fellow family history researchers? Do you ever take a break from Ancestry for awhile?
©2013, copyright Emil Kowalski Schroeder
Emily Kowalski Schroeder