Huh, Didn’t Know That

My family has done genealogy forever. To the point I rarely work on my own family (both maternal and paternal sides) as they are fully fleshed out trees with many branches. I poke around on my spouse’s tree as that one is not as robust and I have a bad habit of poking on my friends’ trees. Ok, maybe even a stranger or two.

I am currently going through boxes and file cabinets of stuff given to me over the years. Keep or Pitch is my new hobby. Sort of like what has happened in my music listening life (I have purchased the same song on cassette, CD, download and now just listen on Spotify), I have versions on the tree in all sorts of formats. Butcher paper hand drawn, handwritten on forms, print out of digital trees and a few on the internet and my computer. BUT. I am trying to look at each one in detail before I decide the Keep or Pitch. This was very wise.

In a very long print out from my Uncle Jim that was sent to my mom and brother, there is the family tree that I know very well. However, there are also footnotes and side notes. My grandmother was a lovely woman. She made quilts (quite a few I still have), patiently attempted to teach me how to crochet (spoiler, didn’t work), she could spell (quite handy for a granddaughter who couldn’t and way before the years of spell check). She was not overly demonstrative but a solid, “well, this sucks let’s figure it” out sort of person. I am not even sure I could give you one real example of this, it was more just an aura that surrounded her. I don’t think I had ever heard her raise her voice or cry. Not that either of those are bad things, just not something I remember her doing. She was more a “turn on the light before you go upstairs so you don’t trip” and “it is raining, grab an umbrella” and “we will save this for when we need it” sort of gal.

Back to the notes I found. William McKendree Heath was my grandmother’s grandfather. He was married three times and a bit of a gadabout. He served in the Civil War, moved from Ohio to California to Pennsylvania. I have some pictures of him and some of his papers, but again, just a branch on a tree to me. This is what was in the footnotes about him and my grandmother.

“Upon his death in Philadelphia, his body was transported by train to Cincinnati, where he was buried in the Sullivan plot with Susan Margaret and her other two husbands. A letter I got from my mother, Margaret Halliday Scharf, said she was the one, at age 25, who made the train trip from Cincinnati to Philadelphia, picked up his body, and rode the train back to Cincinnati with it.”

“In 1924, the family moved to Aurora, Indiana and rented a house at 206 Fourth Street. The rent was $40 per month. Margaret went to work for the Southeastern Indiana Telephone Company, first as a telephone operator, and then as an accounting clerk.

In 1935, she applied to the local savings and loan office for a $1900 loan to buy a house. She was told she needed a co-signer for the loan, she informed the loan officer that if her signature was not good enough, she would not take the loan. She got the loan and purchased the house on Stoney Lonesome (still a street in the western part of Aurora). Her mortgage payment was $1.87 per week, and she said they would worry some weeks whether they could pay it.”  

Didn’t know any of that, had no idea any of that. What a fascinating looking into my grandmother’s life. In 1934 my grandmother, who never learned to drive, got on a train, navigated that whole experience, got her grandfather and brought him home for burial. A year or so later she goes toe to toe with the local savings and loan and gets a house loan on her signature alone. Again, just mind blowing this little paragraph was able to give a different side to her that I never knew.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: