Indexing: Wills of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 1856

If you need help navigating to the Pennsylvania probate records on FamilySearch, click here for guidance.

Today’s data is from “Wills 1839-1870 vol 3-5”. Check the first column of the table below for the image number. Type it into the box near the top of the page on FamilySearch (Image __ of 701) to find the desired image.

283 Mary Baird Salem 3 Jan 1856
Thomas Hanna South Huntingdon 18 Jan 1856
Peter Bridge Unity 21 Jan 1856
284 George Kepple Sr Hempfield 30 Jan 1856
James Horrell Fairfield 11 Feb 1856
285 Jacob Kepple Salem 13 Feb 1856
Matthias Saxman/Soxman Derry 14 Feb 1856
286 John Borland 21 Feb 1856
Jacob Ebersole Borough of Mt Pleasant 26 Feb 1856
287 Margaret Culbertson Derry 29 Feb 1856
William Seese Allegheny 10 Mar 1856
Sarah M Smith Hillside 12 Mar 1856
288 Mary Baum Greensburg 13 Mar 1856
Augustus Vogel Borough of Greensburg 14 Mar 1856
Jacob Dry Sr Hempfield 26 Mar 1856
289 duplicate image
290 Peter George Washington 8 Apr 1856
John S Kunkle 11 Apr 1856
Frederick Wilyard/Williard Salem 12 Apr 1856
291 John Rutledge Village of Livermore 22 Apr 1856
John S Scholl South Huntingdon 23 Apr 1856
Christopher Sandels East Huntingdon 8 May 1856
292 Peter Byerly Burrell 9 May 1856
William Hughes Derry 26 May 1856
293 Jacob Krepps Rostraver 30 May 1856
Samuel Calhoun Salem 12 Jun 1856
Martha E Baldrige Borough of New Alexandria 19 Jun 1856
294 Robert West Borough of Youngstown 29 Jul 1856
295 Daniel Shaw North Huntingdon 4 Aug 1856
Joseph Warren Borough of West Newton 6 Aug 1856
Henry Hess Donegal 16 Aug 1856
Jacob Potser Hempfield 13 Aug 1856
296 Samuel Kennedy Sr Fairfield 15 Aug 1856
John Gilmore Fairfield 15 Aug 1856
297 Thomas O’Brian Unity 16 Aug 1856
298 Frederick Kintz Unity 18 Aug 1856
Nathan Cope Rostraver 18 Aug 1856
299 John Harr Borough of Ligonier 18 Aug 1856
John Hill Fairfield 1 Sep 1856
300 Peter Earnest Borough of New Salem 2 Sep 1856
John Gill Washington 20 Sep 1856
301 Moses Gillespy Unity 26 Sep 1856
William McDowell Ligonier 1 Oct 1856
David Shryock Salem 7 Oct 1856
302 Martha McGeary Allegheny 17 Oct 1856
Samuel Sloan 31 Oct 1856
303 Hugh Corrigan Derry 29 Oct 1856
Caleb Davis Fairfield 29 Oct 1856
304 George Fisher Rostraver 5 Nov 1856
305 Cornelius Campbell Cook 7 Nov 1856
Ludwick Kepple Hempfield 22 Nov 1856
306 Anthony Ruff Mt Pleasant 22 Nov 1856
307 Edward Henry Sewickley 28 Nov 1856
Thomas Johnston Loyalhanna 27 Dec 1856
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Stanley Robert Smith: Taken To Toledo

On March 15th, 1933, Stanley and his two young co-conspirators were turned over to federal agents1 who transported them the roughly 50 miles from Findlay to Toledo.  The very next day2, they were taken to the federal courthouse, located at 1716 Spielbusch Avenue.

OH-Toledo_RG121-BS_70_TT_1
https://www.fjc.gov/history/courthouse/toledo-ohio-1932

The building was constructed just a year prior to Stanley’s arrival there.  In 2007, it was dedicated as the James M. Ashley and Thomas W. L. Ashley United States Courthouse.  During the Civil War, James Ashley was the first member of Congress to call for a constitutional amendment outlawing slavery; he authored the forerunner of the Thirteenth Amendment.  His great-grandson, Thomas W. L. Ashley, served thirteen terms in Congress.3

Surprisingly, given the building’s large size, it was built to house a single district judge.  A $104 million construction project, planned to begin in January 2018, will update the existing building as well as create a large annex more suitable for current needs4.  The only dedicated courtroom, built in 1932, can be seen below:

courtroom
Ceremonial Courtroom in the U.S. District Courthouse, Toledo5

The Arraignment

The three men were taken before U.S. Commissioner John C. Budd.  All three pled guilty to charges of violating the Dyer Act (i.e., transporting stolen vehicles across state lines).  Each was held on $1000 bond pending a hearing before the grand jury6.

U.S. Commissioner John C. Budd

At the time, Commissioner Budd had been serving in this role for nearly six years.  Born in 1891 in Perrysburg, Ohio, John C. Budd was one of fourteen children born to a German father.  He grew up helping on his parents’ farm and it was in this manner, hiring himself out as a farm laborer in his neighborhood, that he earned the money to put himself through business school.

After graduating from law school at Toledo University, Budd spent nine years working as the private secretary to federal judge John M. Killits (pictured below), who would later appoint him to the position of U.S. Commissioner.7

Lucas1923PFrontKillits
John M. Killits, editor of Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio, 1623-1923. S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1923.

In 1933, Commissioner Budd’s office was located in the Produce Exchange Building8 at the corner of Madison Avenue and North St Clair Street, just over half a mile from the federal courthouse.

produce exchange bldg

The building was demolished in 1984 and has been replaced by a parking lot, across the street from the present-day PNC tower.

location of produce exchange
Former Location of Produce Exchange Building, Toledo, Ohio

1 “3 Turned Over to Federal Officers,” Findlay Morning Republican (Findlay, Ohio), 16 Mar 1933, p 3 col 7.
2 “Three Admit Guilt in Federal Court,” Findlay Morning Republican (Findlay, Ohio), 17 Mar 1933, p 9 col 4.
3 House Report No. 110-455 (2007).
4“Designer, construction manager named for U.S. courthouse in Toledo”, Toledo Blade, 18 Nov 2016. <http://www.toledoblade.com/Courts/2016/11/18/Designer-construction-manger-named-for-U-S-courthouse-in-Toledo.html&gt;, accessed 31 Oct 2017.
5 Ibid.
6 “Three Admit Guilt in Federal Court.”
7 Story of the Maumee Valley, Toledo and the Sandusky Region, Vol. III. S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1929, pp. 14-15.
8 Polk’s Toledo (Ohio) City Directory. Toledo Directory Co., 1932, p. 1363. Entry for John C. Budd.

Indexing: Wills of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 1855

If you need help navigating to the Pennsylvania probate records on FamilySearch, click here for guidance.

Today’s data is from “Wills 1839-1870 vol 3-5”. Check the first column of the table below for the image number. Type it into the box near the top of the page on FamilySearch (Image __ of 701) to find the desired image.

259 Mary Ross Burrell 4 Jan 1855
260 John Tilbrook Sewickley 19 Jan 1855
Hugh Owens Allegheny 9 Feb 1855
261 Christian Walthour North Huntingdon 7 Mar 1855
Henry Reator Cook 8 Mar 1855
262 William Clark Fairfield 13 Mar 1855
Jacob Brough Donegal 14 Mar 1855
263 Armor Mellon Unity 31 Mar 1855
Polly Rugh Washington 2 Apr 1855
264 George Myers Hempfield 6 Apr 1855
Robert S Nickerson Derry 27 Apr 1855
265 Michael Meyer Saltlick Twp, Fayette County 28 Apr 1855
266 Allen Rose East Huntingdon 1 May 1855
John Hunter Mt Pleasant 1 May 1855
267 Abraham Stockberger Unity 4 May 1855
Sarah Hurst Mt Pleasant 7 May 1855
268 Thomas Elder Derry 11 May 1855
269 Anne Jane Anderson Borough of Mt Pleasant 15 May 1855
Philip Klingensmith Allegheny 17 May 1855
Cordelia Smith Borough of Greensburg 28 May 1855
270 Samuel Kooken Unity 6 Jun 1855
Thomas Copperstone Borough of Youngstown 15 Jun 1855
271 Agnes Kirker Franklin 28 Jun 1855
Mary Burkholder Derry 3 Jul 1855
272 Gideon G Beer Sewickley 10 Jul 1855
John McDonald Allegheny Co., Maryland 12 Jul 1855
Adam Fisher Mt Pleasant 31 Jul 1855
273 James McLaughlin Burrell 6 Aug 1855
Paul Warden East Huntingdon 21 Aug 1855
274 Joseph Guiger Franklin 31 Aug 1855
William Crosby North Huntingdon 6 Sep 1855
275 Samuel Orr Rostraver 6 Sep 1855
Robert Rainey Salem 7 Sep 1855
276 Samuel Oliver Hempfield 15 Sep 1855
277 Maria Craig 22 Sep 1855
John Campbell Fairfield 19 Oct 1855
Sarah Johnston Unity 20 Oct 1855
278 Peter Uncapher Loyalhanna 22 Oct 1855
James Kirkwood Washington 13 Nov 1855
Jane Fleming 16 Nov 1855
279 Margaret Fleming 16 Nov 1855
William W McClain Borough of Mt Pleasant 27 Nov 1855
280 Peter George Sr Hempfield 1 Dec 1855
281 Elizabeth Hill Ligonier 11 Dec 1855
Elias Peterson Unity 11 Dec 1855
282 John Martin Wentzler South Huntingdon 26 Dec 1855
John Kline Penn 19 Dec 1855

Stanley Robert Smith: A Refresher Course

Since I stopped in the middle of Stanley’s story to talk about the death of his sister, Lena, it seems that perhaps a quick refresher course might be in order before jumping back in.

Stanley and Lena were two of the twelve surviving children of George Henry and Mary Lucinda (Rauch) Smith.  My great-grandmother, Clara Viola (Smith) Arras, was also one of this group.

In 1929, when Stanley was about 19 years old, he was arrested repeatedly in the course of a few weeks.  First, for stealing butter, then passing a bad check, and finally, forgery.

Following his third arrest, the victim finally decided to press charges against him and he was held in the Hancock County jail awaiting trial.

He and several other prisoners attempted to escape, though their plan was foiled by a mirror, of all things.

He was convicted and sentenced to a term in the Ohio State Reformatory.

Shortly following his release, Stanley and a fellow inmate, Charles Williams, were arrested for the theft of gasoline from a filling station.  Following another escape attempt, the two were tried and ultimately convicted of highway robbery, which carried a sentence of ten to 25 years in the state penitentiary.

Charles Williams filed an appeal and remained in the Hancock County jail, while Stanley was transferred to the Ohio State Penitentiary.

Nearly a year after their arrest, Charles Williams’ case was reviewed by the Ohio State Supreme Court, which ruled that their crime could not be considered highway robbery.  Charles was released with immediate effect, followed soon thereafter by a full pardon for Stanley from the Governor of Ohio.

Unfortunately, Stanley was home with his family for less than a year before he was arrested again.  This time he was suspected of being a fence in an interstate auto theft ring.

Though he attempted to cover for them at first, others, including a teenaged family member, were involved in these shady dealings.

Indexing: Wills of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 1855

If you need help navigating to the Pennsylvania probate records on FamilySearch, click here for guidance.

Today’s data is from “Wills 1839-1870 vol 3-5”. Check the first column of the table below for the image number. Type it into the box near the top of the page on FamilySearch (Image __ of 701) to find the desired image.

259 Mary Ross Burrell 4 Jan 1855
260 John Tilbrook Sewickley 19 Jan 1855
Hugh Owens Allegheny 9 Feb 1855
261 Christian Walthour North Huntingdon 7 Mar 1855
Henry Reator Cook 8 Mar 1855
262 William Clark Fairfield 13 Mar 1855
Jacob Brough Donegal 14 Mar 1855
263 Armor Mellon Unity 31 Mar 1855
Polly Rugh Washington 2 Apr 1855
264 George Myers Hempfield 6 Apr 1855
Robert S Nickerson Derry 27 Apr 1855
265 Michael Meyer Saltlick Twp, Fayette County 28 Apr 1855
266 Allen Rose East Huntingdon 1 May 1855
John Hunter Mt Pleasant 1 May 1855
267 Abraham Stockberger Unity 4 May 1855
Sarah Hurst Mt Pleasant 7 May 1855
268 Thomas Elder Derry 11 May 1855
269 Anne Jane Anderson Borough of Mt Pleasant 15 May 1855
Philip Klingensmith Allegheny 17 May 1855
Cordelia Smith Borough of Greensburg 28 May 1855
270 Samuel Kooken Unity 6 Jun 1855
Thomas Copperstone Borough of Youngstown 15 Jun 1855
271 Agnes Kirker Franklin 28 Jun 1855
Mary Burkholder Derry 3 Jul 1855
272 Gideon G Beer Sewickley 10 Jul 1855
John McDonald Allegheny Co., Maryland 12 Jul 1855
Adam Fisher Mt Pleasant 31 Jul 1855
273 James McLaughlin Burrell 6 Aug 1855
Paul Warden East Huntingdon 21 Aug 1855
274 Joseph Guiger Franklin 31 Aug 1855
William Crosby North Huntingdon 6 Sep 1855
275 Samuel Orr Rostraver 6 Sep 1855
Robert Rainey Salem 7 Sep 1855
276 Samuel Oliver Hempfield 15 Sep 1855
277 Maria Craig 22 Sep 1855
John Campbell Fairfield 19 Oct 1855
Sarah Johnston Unity 20 Oct 1855
278 Peter Uncapher Loyalhanna 22 Oct 1855
James Kirkwood Washington 13 Nov 1855
Jane Fleming 16 Nov 1855
279 Margaret Fleming 16 Nov 1855
William W McClain Borough of Mt Pleasant 27 Nov 1855
280 Peter George Sr Hempfield 1 Dec 1855
281 Elizabeth Hill Ligonier 11 Dec 1855
Elias Peterson Unity 11 Dec 1855
282 John Martin Wentzler South Huntingdon 26 Dec 1855
John Kline Penn 19 Dec 1855

The Mysterious Fate of Lena Smith: Part Seven

On September 26th, 1917, Lena finally passed away, six days after having swallowed her fatal dose of corrosive sublimate.  Could a sudden change in her condition explain why the family was not present at her death?  It appears that the family was not notified of her tenuous hold on life, otherwise they would surely have rushed to her bedside.

My grandma had told me that Lena’s father, George, and her two brothers-in-law, Oscar “Ray” Champion and Oliver Arras, traveled to Boston when they were notified that Lena had died.  This fact was corroborated in a letter from Lena’s younger sister, Hulda, to my great-uncle, Theron Arras.

The presence of Oscar “Ray” Champion in Boston after Lena’s death is confirmed by her death certificate.  Interestingly, he is listed as the informant.  I expected the death to have been reported by a hospital employee since none of the family was nearby.  Instead, her death was not recorded until about a week and a half after her passing.

lena smith death record

Perhaps it was necessary for a family member to be present to identify the body and provide other pertinent information, such as the names and birthplaces of her parents.

The delay may also be accounted for by the involvement of the medical examiner, who likely performed an autopsy.  The doctor certifying her cause of death was the medical examiner of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Dr. Timothy Leary.

(If you’re like my mother, you might have just giggled.  No, it’s not THAT Timothy Leary, but he was his great uncle!)

In 1927, an article, “The Medical Examiner System”, authored by Dr. Leary, appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  In it, he acknowledged the differences between a medical examiner and a coroner, a distinction that I did not realize existed.

At the time, Massachusetts had been using the medical examiner system for fifty years.  Nearly all the other states in New England had also transitioned to the system by 1927, along with the state of New York.

The job of both a medical examiner and a coroner is to investigate the cause of death when a person dies either suddenly and unexpectedly or under suspicious circumstances.  The distinction between the two is that only a medical examiner is required to have a medical degree.  Though systems vary depending on location, a coroner can be either elected or appointed.

Surprisingly, this situation has not changed over the last hundred years.  In fact, it was addressed by NPR’s All Things Considered as recently as 2011:

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/133403760/133443133

While Lena was lucky enough (?!) to die in a state where her death would be properly investigated, it seems highly unlikely that any new information emerged from her autopsy.  The cause of death, corrosive sublimate poisoning (suicidal during temporary insanity), directly ties to the information given in the initial newspaper article.

lena smith death record

Following the medical examiner’s report, Lena’s body would finally have been released to the family for transport home.  She was buried in the family plot at Arlington on October 11, 1917.

mary m smith grave
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=46787087

So perhaps the big question is, “Why?”  Why was Lena’s death a mystery for generations?  If her father and brother-in-law were present to collect her body and provide information for the death certificate, it seems rather unlikely that they would have been unaware of her cause of death.  Surely the body would not have been released for burial until the cause had been determined.

Perhaps, on that final train journey, with Lena’s body behind them, they wracked their brains for a way to tell the family what had happened.  But how do you tell a mother whose teenaged son has just shipped out for France that her daughter, the only other child to leave home, has killed herself?

I think, in all likelihood, George and Ray made a pact of secrecy.

Together, they lied to Lena’s mother.

They lied to her two adoring sisters, Clara and Minnie, and the rest of her younger siblings.

But it was a lie told out of love.  By keeping her cause of death secret, they spared those who loved her the pain of knowing what agony Lena had experienced in her final days and that she had chosen that fate for herself.

 

 

 

The Family Photo Album: The Arras Family, about 1930

henry arras family 1930

This photo, depicting the family of Henry and Johanna M. (Crates) Arras, was taken in about 1930.  Henry and Johanna themselves are seated at center.  To the right of Johanna are sons Oliver and Homer Arras.  To the left of Henry are Elvina (Arras) Weihrauch and Clarence Arras.  The grown children in the back row are, from left to right, Helen (Arras) Weidman, Carrie (Arras) Huffman, Willard and Ted Arras.

The photo must have been taken outside the home of one of the children, but who?  Clearly someone with a love for plants.  Just look at all those pots!