Oct 042010

After receiving all the data from interviewing my mother, now the hard task of verifying and organizing the data.  I’ll start with her father, Harley Hartman Deeter.

This is only picture that I have of Harley H. Deeter.  He is shown here with his third wife, Charlotte Crocker (probably on their wedding day).

As far as I can determine, my mother has no other pictures of her father.  This picture is in possession of my cousin, Linda (nee Deeter).

I did advanced Google searches for Harley H. Deeter (and variations), but found no data there.    My search of FamilySearch and Ancestry.com yielded census records (1900, 1910, 1920, 1930), transcription of Ohio marriage license (Harley & Mable E. Smith), and draft registration cards (WWI & WWII).

Harley’s birth date has not been discovered in primary sources.  I previously wrote to the archivist of Tennessee to determine whether a delayed birth certificate had been issued to Harley H. Deeter, born in October 1881.  The result was negative.  At the time I did not know the county in which he was born.

The 1900 census has a Harley Deeter living in Basil, Fairfield County, Ohio, as a servant in the residence of Ella Fairchild.  His birthdate is listed as October, 1881, in Tennessee.  Harley’s mother (nee Knepper) is from Fairfield County, Ohio.  Listed on the same census page is Cyrus Knepper, possibly a cousin. 

The 1910 Census lists Harley and his wife, Mabel, living as boarders in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio.  Their 11 month old son is listed as Bartleh J. (actually, Barthel).  Harley is listed as 28 (therefore, a birth year of 1881 or 1882).  His birth locations as listed is listed as Ohio; both his parents, United States.  It seems likely that this data was not given by Harley, but more likely by one of the Butlers with whom they resided.

1920 Census has Harley and Mabel living in their own home (65 S. Ridgeview Ave., Youngstown, Ohio) with five children, along with Mabel’s mother and brother.  I have learned from my mother that her maternal grandfather also lived with them at this time, but he often went to Georgia or Florida in the wintertime to build a home.  (The census was enumerated on January 8th.)  Harley’s age is listed as 38; his birthplace, Tennessee; his parent’s birthplaces, Indiana and Ohio.

1930 Census has Harley and Mable living at 216 Hazelwood Ave, Youngstown, Ohio.  Their 5 children and Mable’s father are also listed with them.  Harley’s age is 48 and his birthplace is listed as Tennessee; his parents, Indiana and Ohio.   (I previously had difficulty locating this 1930 census record because they were indexed as “Dester” instead of Deeter.)

Indexing of Ohio Marriages (FamilySearch.com) lists Harley H. Deeter and Mabel E. Smith as being married on 15 October, 1908, in Montgomery County, Ohio.  His birth place is listed as Tenn.  No age or birth date is given.

World War I & II registration cards were reviewed.  Harley’s birthday is indexed as 15 October, 1881, from the WWI card.  (Reading the image of the actual card is difficult because of the lack of sharpness.)  The date could be read as either 15 or 17 October.  WWII card, however, is quite clear.  Birthdate is given as 15 October, 1881.  Location is Lawrence County, Tennessee.  His death certificate lists October 15, 1881, as his date of birth.  That information is consistent, even though the informant was his wife of only 2 or 3 years.  (She listed his birth place as “Ohio.”)

I would conclude that Harley H. Deeter was born in Lawrence County, Tennessee, on October 15, 1881.  While the information leading to this conclusion is all dependent upon Harley, himself, the only data to suggest otherwise, lists his birthplace as Ohio.  This information was likely provided by the people with whom he was living at the time, and not by Harley.  This inferrence is supported by the fact that the birthplace of Harley’s parents is simply listed as “United States,” indicating a likely guess, rather than actual knowledge.

So, we know that Harley Hartman Deeter — name verified on WWI & II registration cards, death certificate, and Ohio Death Index (where middle name is “Hart an” with the “m” obscured) — was born in Lawrence County, Tennessee, on October 15, 1881.  His first wife probably died in 1906.  He married his second wife in 1908, and had 6 children with her (one died in infancy). He married for a third time 1939 and died on 11 December, 1942.  His parents (John Henry Deeter & Elmira Knepper) were likely born in Indiana and Ohio, respectively.

Two tasks to be done:   check Lawrence County, Tennessee, for any birth records     and     check Montgomery County, Ohio, for marriage license.

Next information to debrief:   Harley Hartman Deeter’s brothers and sisters

Mar 182010

Grace Ada (Brenner) Mieding (1889 – 1985) was my grandmother.

Recently, I found a transcription of her death certificate online.  Until that time, I was unaware that she had been a secretary for the railroad at one point in her life. I have not yet seen a copy of the actual certificate, just the online transcription.  Ohio death certificates use two generic categories to describe a person’s occupational background.  For Grandma, the “Industry of Decedent” lists “Railroads” and the “Occupation of Decedent” lists “Secretaries.”

Earlier this week, I was able to fill in a little more of the story.  While conducting an advanced Google search for my Grandfather, George Henry Brenner (Grace’s husband), I had the serendipity of finding three entries in the index of the Erie Railroad and Employee Magazine.  The listing that registered in my Google search was a news item about Grace’s marriage to George (29 September 1909).  Since this was an index, not a copy of a magazine issue, I saw the two additional listings for Grace Mieding.  (I probably would have missed all three of these entries if I were searching for Grace, because they had her surname spelled incorrectly, reversing the ‘i’ and e’- “Meiding.”)   The February 1909 index  simply indicated that Grace visited Cincinnati. 

The final listing was the prize.  The January 1907 issue of the magazine contained a picture of Grace, as a member of the Clerks Association in the Mahoning Division of the railroad.  At the time of the picture Grace would have been 17 years old.  The index lists her as a “Shop Clerk.”   In February 1909, she is listed as a Stenographer in the Chief Car Inspectors Division; in October 1909, Stenographer in the Joint Car Inspectors Division.

I’m not sure how much longer my Grandma worked for the railroad after her marriage, but I am pretty sure that she wasn’t employed outside the home after my Dad was born in 1912.

Mar 092010

I have always thought of County Treasurers as people who sat in offices filled with books and records, toiling away behind closed doors, out of the public eye.  Not necessarily so!  I recently found an article about my great-granduncle Judson Brenner (1862-1929), Treasurer of Mahoning County, Ohio.  The article was in the New Castle (Pennsylvania) News, Wednesday, November 17, 1927, page 13.

Safe Is Seized In Tax Crusade
    YOUNGSTOWN, O., Nov. 16. –
County Treasyrer Judson Brenner has
started a comapign to collect delin-
quent taxes by seizing personal prop-
erty.  Attaches of the treasurer’s of-
fice seized the safe in the office of
the Keesecker Land company and
took it to the treasurer’s office.
The picture that comes to mind is the Treasurer and his staff (‘Attaches’) performing an Elliot-Ness-like raid on the offices of the miscreants.  Of course, it was probably nothing quite so spectacular.  But it had to raise some hackles somewhere.  Can you see a contemporary politician acting so rashly?
I guess, however, if you are 65 (retired from a successful business career) you can afford to act in unconventional ways.   What was the aftermath of the confiscation of the safe?  I don’t know.  That will have to be researched.  I would guess that the Keesecker Land company paid their back taxes.
Mar 042010
I have two ultra-favorite pictures related to my genealogical roots.  The first is a 4 generation picture with me sitting on my great-grandfather’s knee.  From my great-grandfather’s birth to the present (2010) is 143 years.  The picture, probably taken around 1943, covers a span of just over half that time — 76 years…  my great-granddad, Lloyd Brenner (1867-1947); my dad, Donald G. Brenner (1912 – 1990); my granddad, George H. Brenner (1888 – 1955); and me (1940 –  ). 
Some have been fortunate to trace ancestors back much farther than I have.  Recently, I found a couple of online databases that, according to their data, traced my ancestry back (through Lloyd Brenner’s wife) as far as 1160 in England.  If the data is accurate and capable of being validated, I suspect it will take me many years to confirm.  

On the other hand, I have an ancestor whose roots go back more than 28 million years.  I can’t put this ancestor in a pedigree or a family group sheet, but am fortunate to have a recently taken picture.  Even though this picture of the “Sombrero Galaxy” was taken in 2003, it represents what my ancestor looked like about 28 million years ago.

The number of ancestors which are still visible in the far reaches of the universe is stunning.  Not all are as photogenic as “Sombrero;” some, however, are even more awe-inspiring. 

Why do I consider “Sombrero” an ancestor?  It’s quite simple, really.  It took billions of years for the universe to produce the nitrogen, oxygen, complex carbohydrates, mitochondrial DNA and ribosomal RNA that led to the possibility of producing 4 generations of Brenner males sitting on a sofa in a house on High Street in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1943.  I am as much a product of the greater processes of the universe’s continuing creation as I am of direct genealogical descent from particular (multiple g-)grandparents.  Unfortunately, I’m having difficulty deciding how to enter “Sombrero” in RootsMagic 4 and I am searching for some “proof” of connection that is a little closer in time to “Sombrero” than 28 billion years later.

I think this is more than just a simple brick wall.

Feb 252010

For the sheer fun of it…   for the sheer learning of it…    and for credit as part of the Winter 2010 GeneaBloggers Games…    I have used Google Maps to map out three important locations for my gg-grandfather, John Brenner.

View John Brenner’s Youngstown in a larger map

John lived at 700 High Street for most of his adult life.   He was the first Superintendent for the Mahoning Cemetery, which was later to become Oak Hill Cemetery.  Later John was in the marble business.  I am guessing that this began as selling tombstones.  Perhaps it moved beyond that. 

One serendipity in this process.  As I was looking for the address of his marble works, I found a listing for John in the 1891-2 Burke’s City Directory for Youngstown, Ohio.  His occupation was “sanitary policeman.” This was a new one for me.  A brief web search helped me understand this occupation.  Public Boards of Health were formed toward the end of the 19th (and even into the early years of the 20th) Century.  Today we would call these individuals public health inspectors.  In 1891, one of the apparent duties of a sanitary policeman was to quarantine homes where contagious diseases were present.

One description of the function of sanitary policemen

Feb 242010

I created this timeline using TimeToast.  This is the timeline for my gg-grandfather, John Brenner.  John was born in Adelshofen, Baden (now Germany) and lived most of his adult life in Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio.

John Brenner emigrated to the United States on the William Tell packet ship in 1854, s
ailing from LeHavre, France. After surviving 36 stormy days at sea, John was mugged on the docks of New York harbor. Welcome to America!

Undaunted, 18 year old John, made his way (walking and picking up odd jobs) to acquaintences in Philadelphia where he was able to secure enough funds to travel to Rochester, NY. In the short time he spent in Rochester, John worked as a nurseryman – a trade that would eventually propel him into service as a cemetery manager, then a marble salesman, and finally office manager for a construction firm.

From Rochester, John moved to Columbiana County, Ohio (south of Youngstown) to join his brother Conrad who had earlier emigrated to the U.S. John did not stay long with Conrad, but moved to Youngstown, where he secured lodging with Martin and Catherine Winterbauer.  Catherine, only 6 years older than John, was his aunt. She and Martin Winterbauer was also from Adelshofen, Baden (now Germany).

John married Kate Welk from New Middletown (Columbiana County) in 1861.  For most of their married life, they lived at 700 High Street in Youngstown, Ohio.  Together they brought 15 children into the world, nine of whom survived beyond their 22nd birthdays.

John worked with John Manning in their own nursery company (Brenner & Manning) until 1865 when he was named superintendent of the Mahoning Cemetery (later to become Oak Hill Cemetery). He went into business with George Enders (selling monuments) and took over the business himself when Enders retired in 1880. Subsequently, John Brenner joined with Niedermeier & Restle, general contractors, where he served as manager of the office force until his death.

In 1865, when President Abraham Lincoln issue his call for 100 day troops, John Brenner volunteered and served in the 19th 19th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Company A, private). After being discharged, he subsequently volunteered and served as a corporal in the 155th OVI (Company D).   Complications from a stomach injury received during the war, exacerbated by colo-rectal cancer brought about his death in 1909.

Feb 202010

Among the family photos I was able to scan from the notebook of my 1st cousin, once removed, was this picture of my great-grandaunt, Julia Brenner (1877 – 1969) and her husband James Huffman (1874 – 1969).  The Huffmans lived in Mahoning County, Ohio.  I’m not sure whether this picture shows her as a tough non-conformist or a woman with a big sense of humor.  (It almost looks posed.)  Growing up as the twelfth of fifteen children, she probably had to possess both qualities.

Julia was quite a remarkable woman.  In 1927, she began working as the first woman truant officer for the Youngstown (Ohio) public school.  Her obituary in the Youngstown Vindicator remarked that “her willingness to help [youngsters] with their problems, real and imagined, forged a bond of respect between youth and the image of authority she represented.”

Her concern for young people (especially girls and young women) was more than just her job, it appeared to be her calling.  She helped organize the first Camp Fire Girls group on Youngstown’s South Side.  During the Great Depression she helped organize the Young Ladies’ Opportunity Club, aimed at self-betterment and she campaigned for the development of a neighborhood Playground Association.  She was active in Big Sisters and the Women’s relief Corps.  As the daughter of an immigrant, she taught Americanization classes to recent immigrants.

In her mid-70s, she was still well-known by the children in her neighborhood for her annual Easter Egg Tree.  Throughout the year, when baking she didn’t break the eggs, but blew out the contents and saved the shells.  She then dyed the egg shells a wide variety of colors and would hang them outside on a tree for all to see.


Julia Brenner Huffman was a remarkable woman…   a non-conformist, an organizer, a champion for young people (and especially young women and truants). 

Feb 172010

 George H. Mieding (4 May 1857 – 8 June 1934) was my great-grandfather. He worked at lumber yards all his life.  He was obviously known for his tough hands.  This article appeared in the Youngstown Vindicator (December 24, 1927).

The caption reads:  “The toughest hands in Youngstown are claimed by Edward H. Mieding, 70, of 125 E. Ravenwood.  Mieding has been working with lumber for 57 years.  This year, Mieding estimates, he has handled 90,000 rough boards, but not one sliver penetrated the tough fiber of his hands.”

Not bad for 70 years old.  Don’t you just love the smile!

Feb 122010

My g-g-grandfather, John Brenner, was born on 10 February 1836 in Adelshofen (now Eppingen), Baden. I have in my possession a copy of a handwritten transcription of what appears to be an official letter of recommendation permitting John Brenner’s emigration from Baden at age 18. I was particularly interesting in the information giving his description:  18 yrs., 5’7″, slender, long face with healthy color, brown hair, high forehead, brown eyebrows, gray eyes, medium nose, round mouth, no beard, round chin, good teeth, no other identification marks.

The copy of the transcription came from my cousin, Dana, who did most of the early work on the Brenner family line. Unfortunately, I do not have any source information regarding the transcription or its original (undoubtedly in German). Finding the original is a new research goal to add to my growing list.

Also from my cousin were copies of two obituaries of John Brenner (one in German; one in English). Since John lived in Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio, from about 1856 or 1857 until his death in 1909, I would surmise at the present that the obituary in German was from the Rundschau, Wm. F. Maag, Publisher and Proprietor, 16 & 18S Phelps, 30 September 1909, since the Rundschau was published every Thursday. (Another research goal: confirm publication date and that the obituary was actually from the Rundschau. From my translation of the obituary one of the most significant sentences was: β€œHe arrived in New York on October 19, 1854.” Now, all I had to do was find the name of the ship and the passenger.

A quick search on Ancestry.com no listing for a John Brenner (both English and German variants were searched). A search of New York Times “ship landings October 1854″ and the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild provided no listing of a ship landing on 19 October 1854. However, a Google search for {ship “19 October 1854″ New York} sent me to a genealogical website listing an ancestral arrival aboard the Isaac Bell in New York on 19 October 1854. The Isaac Bell sailed from Le Havre France.

I quickly learned that Le Havre, France, was a preferred embarkation port for many from the Southern German states. I also learned that there are not good passenger lists for ships leaving from Le Harve.

While I previously searched the Castle Garden site (http://castlegarden.org), my son searched the site again. We found three ships that arrived at New York on 19 October 1854 – Isaac Bell, Nelson, and Waterloo. A careful review of the passenger lists of each of the three ships did not find John Brenner We had seemingly reached a dead end. Not to be daunted, my son continued on searching the Castle Garden website. Allowing for name alterations, he searched for Jo* Br* arriving in 1854 and found one Johannes Brenner, age 18, arriving from Le Havre on the William Tell on Oct. 23.

(click on image to enlarge it)

Voila! Age matches John Brenner’s; date is close to date reported in obituary; port of departure was Le Havre. Problem solved? Not completely, but we are well on the way!

Feb 062010

For the past few days, most of my genealogical research time has been spent poring through the 1910 Federal Census records for my Great-Grandfather Lloyd Brenner.

Lloyd Brenner was born in Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio, on 1 May 1867, 5th of 15 children of John & Kate Brenner.  Lloyd married Mary Ellen Cole on 30 September 1887 in Columbiana County, Ohio (just south of Youngstown).  They had 5 children (the eldest was my paternal grandfather).  Lloyd died in Youngstown on 25 February 1947, having lived his entire life in Youngstown, Ohio.

4 generations of Brenners
This is a favorite picture of mine.  That’s moi sitting in Great-GrandPa Lloyd’s lap.  The handsome young man in the middle is my Dad, Donald George Brenner (1912 – 1990);  GrandPa, George Henry Brenner (1888 – 1955), is on the right.  (Picture from about 1943.)
My goal was to complete my census records for Lloyd Brenner.  He is listed in the 1870 and 1880 census enumerations, living at home with his parents.  The 1889-90 City Directory for Youngstown shows Lloyd’s address as 700 High Street (the home of his parents, John & Kate Brenner).  Lloyd and Mary Ellen are listed in the 1900, 1920, and 1930 census enumations.   But, what about 1910?
That question set the goal for my research mini-project.  Once again, I checked Ancestry.com for the 1910 census index and the 1910 Miracode Index for Ohio.  No listing of Lloyd or Mary Ellen.  Knowing that in previous record searches, both the census enumerators and the indexers have misspelled family names, I tried the logical alternatives (Brener, Brinner, Braner…   even Renner and Rinner).  I knew that the Miracode Index should have picked up many of the possible misspellings, but I tried any way…  and with no success.  I went to the individual records for Youngstown, Ward 5, where I have previously found 700 High St. and 312 Garlick St. (Lloyd and Mary Ellen’s home)… again with no success.   With no evidence that Lloyd and Mary Ellen anywhere but Youngstown, Ohio, (as well as broader searches on Ancestry.com finding no additional information about their whereabouts in 1910, only one option remained…    go page by page through the 1910 census records for Youngstown (56 enumeration districts)… again, with no success.
My learnings:   some pages are so indistinct (faint) or blurred that they are impossible to read or decipher;   some enumerators had exceptionally poor penmanship, while a few would have made their teachers proud;  indexers have an incredibly difficult task (in some cases, only already knowing the names of those listed would lead to a correct indexing; being able to enlarge the images on-screen made it possible to read some fairly indistinct names.
What’s next as I attempt to complete the data loop for Lloyd and Mary Ellen Brenner?   Offline research!  This coming Spring or Summer, I will travel back to Youngstown (my place of birth) and survey Youngstown city directories and newspapers for the years around 1910.  Until then, the “gaping hole” in Lloyd Brenner’s records will remain.