It never ceases to amaze me the odd items that my father collected. My mother came across this newspaper called The New Okinawan. It’s Vol. 1 No. 81, dated Sunday, 8 July 1945 and published by Island Command and calls itself “Most widely read daily in the Ryukyus.” Wikipedia says “The Ryukyu Islands, also known as the Nansei Islands or the Ryukyu Arc, are a chain of Japanese islands that stretch southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan.” It seems to me a military newspaper from WWII with some interesting articles of news. I like the world news and the information on the formation of the United Nations and, as a native New Yorker, I was happy to see that the Yankees beat Boston 5 to 4. Anyway, since other historical items I’ve shared seem to be a hit with my blog readers, I thought I’d take a detour from my personal family genealogy to share this item with you. Enjoy.
9 Sept 2018: Genealogy and the search for truth September 9, 2018
There’s always been this mystery as to why my great grandparents were separated. I mean, it had to have been something pretty bad for a woman to kick her husband out of the house back in the early 1900’s. But for all my digging, I could never find anything that gave me a clue as to what the circumstances were in their marriage that such drastic measures were needed to be taken.
Then last week my cousin sent me a box containing an old purse (old enough that it might have belonged to my great-grandmother Amalia.) Inside the purse were a bunch of old newspaper clippings in German. Amalia, my great-grandmother, was born in Slovakia, but she married John Kranz who was born in Germany. The article I found in the purse was probably from a German newspaper published in Brooklyn, NY circa 1915.
Here is what my translation produced. Thank you Google Translate 🙂
Huge blacksmith abused a feeble frail woman
Tolerated the children
An extremely sad girl from married life yesterday appeared before Judge Kelln in the Supreme Court, when Mrs. Amelia Kranz brought a lawsuit to break up her marital union with the blacksmith John Kranz of No. 355 Stagg Str. The man is a dog of over 200 pounds bodyweight, the complainant, who weighs about 90-100 pounds, looks sickly and weak. The contrast was particularly acute when the poor mistress said in a thin voice that this brutal giant had terrorized and maltreated her for years. For weeks her face and lips would have been swollen by the constant blows of his fist. Often he would issue death threats against them, and those mitigations and threats would only have had the effect of extracting from the woman a few hundred dollars that she had saved during her marriage.
For the sake of her four children, aged from three to fourteen, Mrs. Kranz went on, she would have endured that torment for years, but now she could undermine her health and she had reached the end of her strength. In his defense, Kranz also condemns his wife for cruelty, claiming among other things that she had not given him sufficient food which stood in the sharpest contrast to his blooming, well-groomed appearance. The judge stated that he could not admit, under the circumstances, that the woman should take the legal costs of her small savings, and awarded her $30 lawyer’s fees. As Alimentation payment, Kranz has the option between $40 per month or home rental payment and $6 (The last few words were cut off.)
This is John and Amalia Kranz. He looks like a large guy, but I’m not sure I’d call him a giant. I don’t suppose we’ll ever really know the truth, but this certainly sheds an interesting light on what their home life may have been like. When I sent this translation to my cousin I told her that genealogy is, in many ways, the search for truth, and often times that truth isn’t as pretty as we might like it to be. But I’d rather know the truth of my ancestors. I’d rather know that my great-grandmother had the courage to stand up for herself and her children. She was obviously a very brave woman.
23 Sept 2017: Finding the missing link. A Genealogical miracle! September 23, 2017
I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d find it. After all, at this point in time, what more could there possibly be to find. And there it was, staring me in the face on Ancestry.com as if daring me to open it. Could it? Could it possible be him?
AND IT WAS!
My Geoghan family line has been a bone of contention in my family tree for some time. The origins of our roots in Ireland and the UK were a total mystery. Geoghan is an Irish name, but paperwork seemed divided between Scotland and Ireland so far as census records and the old “Where were your parents born” type of questions.
Last year I was able to find a birth record in Glasgow, Scotland that I believed quite strongly was my great grandfather Thomas Geoghan. From the records I was able to find on FamilySearch.org and time spent at my local Family History Center, I found more records on Thomas’ parents and siblings. Him and his siblings were all born in Govan, Lanarkshire which is part of Glasgow, while his parents (George Geoghan and Ann Donnelly) were listed as born in Ireland. No city, town or village listed, just Ireland. Big help, right?
This family shows up on the 1851 and 1861 census of Scotland and then I have ship passenger lists that bring over, first George (the father) and then Ann and the kids. They show up here in America on 1875 Rhode Island State census in East Greenwich, Kent county. They’re also there in 1880 for the US Federal Census.
Then nothing. Crickets chirping …
Now, my great grandfather, Thomas Geoghan, I trace back to Unionville/Farmington, Hartford Count, Ct where the oldest record I had of him was the record of his marriage in the town clerks office dated October 28, 1883. We know the first five of his six children were born in Unionville. From there the family moved to Westport, CT for a few years before eventually moving on to New York City.
But how to find a definitive connection between the Thomas born in Govan who moved to Rhode Island to the Thomas who married Ellen Stapleton in Unionville, CT? Now you see my conundrum.
The missing piece of the puzzle turns out to be a copy of the probate papers of my great, great grandfather, George Geoghan, my immigrant ancestor. Where did he die? FARMINGTON! The papers list his living next of kin and list son Thomas as living in WESTPORT! So with this one piece of the puzzle, I put George in Unionville from Rhode Island and I put his son living in his next place of residence.
Here is that section of the probate papers that lists George’s children. It even lists Thomas’ wife, Ellen, as a witness. This is definitely the same family as daughter Catherine is listed with her maiden and married name (Kehoe)
So the next step is to hire a genealogist in Glasgow to see what can be found on the origins of the Geoghans and Donnellys. Somewhere in Govan there has to be at least one record that lists the name of their parents or a clue as to what village in Ireland George and Ann were born. I reached out to a genealogist in Glasgow yesterday online. Hopefully, I’ll hear back from them and they won’t charge me two arms and a leg to do the research.
Interesting facts I found out from the probate paperwork: George had a house on about 1/4 acres of land in Farmington which is listed as “situated on Battle Row.” There is no street called Battle Row on today’s map of Farmington. I reached out to the Farmington Historical Society for help on this. I have the feeling it may be more of a slang term for a street and not its proper name. Note the value of the land and house are $250.00. Guess real estate was a lot cheaper back in 1894! Here is that section of the papers:
I love how it lists his belongings as:
- Peanuts: $2.00 (This must have been a lot of peanuts!)
- Show Case: $3.00
- Scales: $0.50
- Cigars and Tobacco: $1.50
- Lamp: $0.25
Come on, he’s Irish/Scottish, you going to tell me along with those cigars he didn’t have some whisky stashed around the house? What was that show case listed supposed to be?
In the end, I made the connection and I’m over the moon about it. The family in Govan is indeed my family. Now I just need to find the clues that will point me to their home town in Ireland. Before I sign off, here’s the complete probate paperwork for those who want to peruse it in its entirety.
Here is an updated Narrative Report for George and his descendants:
17 Aug 2017: Planning a trip to my homeland August 17, 2017
It’s that time of year again when I get to blow this pop stand and head north. YAY!! I’ll be up in CT/RI on vacation the beginning of October and have started my list of things to do and places to see. HOWEVER, my list is incomplete.
Read to the VERY BOTTOM for things I need help/suggestions for.
Visit Randall & Lois Wells’ graves in Hopkinton, RI. My annual pilgrimage to my 4th great grandparent’s graves back in the woods. Let’s face it, not too many of us still can even find them. I usually visit John Rogers grave on the grounds of Connecticut College as well.
Take my favorite hike. There’s a great Nature Conservancy trail up to Long Pond in Hopkinton. Super scenic, like something out of Lord of the Rings. There’s a timelessness to the landscape there that seems untouched, like some native American tribe from long ago could come strolling around a boulder.
Visit Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT. I know, the cheesiest and most wonderful of the chic flicks of the 80’s. Not only that, the pizza is like … totally awesome (to quote the 80’s) Not sure how well it will fare now that I’ve had gastric bypass, but I’m willing to give it a shot. It’s worth a visit if for nothing but to inhale deeply and take in the scent of wonderful food. Plus it’s a location I used a few times in my novels so it’s fun to visit. I ever wrote some of my books sitting at the table in the bay windows up front.
Speaking of food …. I’m also planning meals at Abbots in Noank, CT and Ford’s Lobsters in Noank. I plan on being so tired of lobster by the time I drive out of New England that it will hold me for a long time!
Visit the Lighthouse Museum in Stonington. Yes, the infamous lighthouse that is the setting for my third novel. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it and knew I had to feature it in a book. I’ll also spend time roaming the streets of picturesque Stonington.
Visit B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Mystic. Again, after my gastric bypass surgery, this should be an interesting experience. I love their apple baked goods and plan on sampling quite a bit.
Visit Oak Grove Cemetery in Ashaway. Not only my future resting place, but also the current resting place for a good portion of my mom’s side of the family. I always stop in to pay my respects but also to inspect the condition of our stones and do any necessary cleaning of them that may need to be done.
Fulfilling any Findagrave.com photo requests that are online for the area. Need any photos taken of a headstone in the area? I’ll be checking them out while I’m up there to see who I can help out. I also plan on updating FAG.com on new burials in Oak Grove and finishing adding photos of all the stones.
Visiting Kenyon’s Grist Mill in West Kingston, RI. I’ve never been to a grist mill before so I’m looking forward to learning something new. I’m also in the market for some corn meal to make me some Johnny Cakes upon my return to FL.
Popping over to Stonington Vineyards to buy a case of my favorite wine of theirs. Sadly, I can’t get it here in Orlando. Also sadly, gastric bypass severely limits how much alcohol I can drink, so that case will last me a couple of year!
Shop Craigslist.com for cool stuff in people’s basements! Sounds odd, but I bought a cool old trunk off of Craigslist last time I was up there from some couple in Ashaway. I’m on the hunt for cool antiques. I’m also looking for some good antique stores to visit if you know of any you can suggest. Not the shiny, all cleaned up kind of antiques, but the paint chipping off, just pulled out of the barn kind. Will also be looking for yard sales and estate sales as well.
If time permits, I’d like to visit Mystic Aquarium. Haven’t been there since I was a kid.
Pop into the Mystic Seaport Gift Shop. I’ll be honest and say I’ve been to the Seaport enough that I don’t need to go again …. for a long time, but the gift shop is awesome! I love the book section up stairs too. Always worth a visit.
Get out on the water. No plans finalized for this yet, but I will get out on the water for a few hours, if not longer. I did a sunset sail out of Mystic a few years back that I could do again, but ideally I’d love to take sailing lessons. I’m just having a hard time finding a place to do that so late in the year. Seems sailing season ends the week before I arrive!!!
A day at the Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol, RI. I can’t wait to spend some time here so I can do some research on farm life in the late 1700s. Valuable info I can weave into my stories of the vampire, Randall Wells!!
St. Edmund’s Severed Arm. Yes, you read me right. This one just has to be seen to be believed, at least by me. It’s in Mystic and apparently on display.
CAN YOU HELP ME?
I’m looking for:
- Good antique stores/malls. Ones that sell reasonably priced items of local origin. Items that are not all spit and polished, but need love and have chipped paint.
- Scenic hiking trails (other than my favorite up to Long Pond in Hopkinton.)
- Restaurants that serve good local cuisine. Rhode Island Clam Chowder? Johnny Cakes?
- How can I get out on the water? Boat tours you can suggest. I’d even be up for whale watching. Ideally I’d love to take a sailing lesson or two.
- Know of any places of local history interest like Kenyon’s Grist Mill? I love to learn about local history.
- If you know where I can buy a courting candle, you’re my new best friend!!!
From Bruce: “Know you are connected to the Crandall family. Think about a trip north of Mystic to Canterbury, CT (Windham Co.) to the Prudence Crandall museum. Check their hours – I don’t think they are open every day.” Thanks, Bruce. I’ll add the museum to my list of possibles. I’m sure a trip there would make a nice subject for a blog post.
From Wayne: “Hi Jennifer – I too am a direct descendant of Samuel Hubbard (my mother is a Burdick), living now in southern RI. We are distant cousins. If you haven’t been, you might consider seeing the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace in Saunderstown, and maybe taking the Francis Fleet Whale Watch out of Galillee. BTW, white corn meal is ubiquitous here! Wayne” Thanks Wayne. I’ve added the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace to my list. Looks really cool. Sadly, Frances Fleet Whale Watching closes in September so they won’t be open. Too bad, they looked ideal.
13 Aug 2017: A walk in 1937 Philadelphia August 13, 2017
I discovered this mini pack of photos among my father’s possessions. It’s dated 1937. Published by K.F. Lutz of 441 North 32nd Street, Philadelphia. Not really knowing what to do with them as our family doesn’t have any ancestral ties in the Philly area, we’re going to be selling this item in an upcoming yard sale. But before that, I thought I’d share them with you.
I hope you enjoyed this stroll through 1937 Philly!
Hello friends, fans and family.
Just wanted to let you know that the ebook version of FALLING for Death is free on Amazon until Sunday. This is the novel I wrote featuring Randall Wells, his wife Lois Maxson and a host of other Wells family members. It’s the first in a five book series but is also a full length, stand alone story. If you’re a fan of Hopkinton, RI and the Wells Family and …. happen to like vampires, you’re in a for a real treat!
Check it out!
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I wrote my 4th great grandparents, Randall Wells and his wife Lois, as characters into my novel series. I thought I’d announce that I have rebranded that series, giving it new titles and new covers.
I now introduce you to The FALLING Series.
As a promo for the new brand, book one in the series, FALLING for Death, is free on Amazon for the ebook version for the next couple of days. Here’s the link. Check it out and download your free copy today to see what Randall and Lois may have been like.