It’s finally spring!  That time of year when you start wondering what your ancestors were planting!  No?  That’s just me?  Well, anyway, if you WERE curious, you’re in luck!

A number of Peter Henderson & Co. catalogs, like the one below, are available through Internet Archive.

Peter Henderson & Co 1875
Peter Henderson & Co’s Seed Catalogue (New York: Munroe & Metz, 1875); Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/peterhendersonco18pete_0 : accessed 7 May 2018).

These catalogs were advertised in newspapers across the country.  One could write away for a free copy or, for the low price of 50 cents, the company would throw in five “beautiful colored plates.”  This was likely an appealing option for the young housewife looking to spruce up her home.

Everything for the Garden
Hancock Courier (Findlay, Ohio), 4 Feb 1875, p. 2, col. 7.

For the family historian, seed catalogs can serve a multitude of purposes.  Want to know why great-grandpa planted timothy?  Check out page 79 of the 1875 catalog.  Timothy was also known as “herd grass.”  According to Peter Henderson & Co., it would “produce a larger crop” and “more nutriment” than other grasses planted for feeding farm animals.

Your third great-grandpa’s estate inventory lists a “Wethersfield seed drill” and “two English bill hooks.”  Won’t the drawings on page 88 help bring history to life?

Was someone a passionate gardener who prided herself on growing plants no one else in town had seen yet?  The newest varieties of flowers for the year are listed on page 5.

Perhaps you’ll use the illustrations to help identify those flowers by your family’s doorstep in the reunion photo.

Keep an open mind.  Any tiny detail might add value to your family history!


Stanley Robert Smith: Frequent Flier Miles

The police were probably getting pretty sick of seeing Stanley’s face by now.  After somehow escaping prosecution twice over, he was back in the city jail for the third time in two weeks.

After stealing butter from the Findlay Dairy Company, Stanley had gone around town to various grocers, trying to sell on his ill-begotten goods.  On one such outing, he visited Jacob Frank, a man in his early seventies, at his shop on West Front Street.

Frank refused to purchase Stanley’s purloined products and, either in a fit of pique or unable to resist an opportunity,  Stanley stole one of Mr. Frank’s checks while the man was not looking.

All in the Family

Surprisingly, Jacob Frank was also a relative. 

Stanley’s sister, Clara Viola Smith, my great-grandmother, was married to Oliver Martin Arras. 

Oliver’s mother, Johanna, was born a Crates. 

Her father, Gottlieb, was the son of Johann Michael and Sibylla (Zehnder) Kroetz. 

Gottlieb’s younger sister, Caroline, married Johann Jakob Frank in their hometown of Oberurbach on August 28, 1859, a year after Gottlieb had left for America. 

Caroline and Johann Jakob’s son, Jacob Frank, emigrated to Findlay around twenty years later and established his grocery store.

If that all made about as much sense as trying to nail Jell-O to a tree, check out the chart below to clarify:relationship to jacob frank

All of this means that Jacob Frank, the victim of Stanley’s theft, was his sister’s husband’s first cousin, one time removed. 

While it is possible that Oliver and Clara were unaware of Oliver’s relationship to Jacob Frank, it is rather unlikely.  At least two of Oliver’s Crates uncles, Charley and Monroe, remained in contact with the family in Oberurbach.  After World War I, when Germany was suffering so heavily, they sent money to keep their German relations afloat.  With letters going back and forth so long after Gottlieb and Caroline had left their homeland, it seems unlikely that their children and grandchildren would be oblivious of one another’s lives in the same city.

With Obvious Regret

On February 20th–Yes, you read that right.  The same day Stanley must have been released from jail after his arrest on the bad check charges.  So much for remorse!–Stanley, the old charmer, wrote out a check in the amount of $19.10 to be cashed by “Lester Smith”.  He forged Jacob Frank’s signature and took the check to a bank to be cashed.

It all could have ended there, as the bank refused to cash the questionable check.  Instead, “Lester” handed the check over to a friend, who had it cashed at Bazley Market.

Bazley Market

bazley market location
The location of Bazley Market, now occupied by the Bistro on Main (seen here in October 2015)

Bazley Market, located at 407 South Main Street in Findlay, opened in mid-October 1928.  It was one of a chain of meat markets across the Midwest, owned and operated by Bazley Markets of Chicago, Illinois.  Given their ability to purchase meat in large quantities, the chain was able to keep prices low.  As a result, the Bazley Market in Findlay was open until at least 1969.

A delightful array of products available for purchase on 22 Jan 1929 (Findlay Morning Republican)


Stanley was arrested the 27th of February, accused of the crime of forgery.  This time he would not escape the swiftly turning wheels of justice.  The following day he was bound over to the grand jury by Mayor Groves.

Esba Lincoln Groves, who served six terms as mayor of Findlay, Ohio, between 1909 and 1932 (Photo from: http://politicalstrangenames.blogspot.com/2016/08/esba-lincoln-groves-1861-1939.html)

Unable to pay his bond of $1,000–an unimaginable amount of money for the man who couldn’t drum up $3 at the drugstore–he was transferred to the Hancock County jail.

Next Time:  The Hancock County Jail




The Family Photo Album: The Smiths, 50 Years Later



George Henry and Mary Lucinda (Rauch) Smith, my great-great-grandparents and the parents of Stanley Robert Smith, in the yard at their daughter Clara Arras’s house.  This photo was likely taken on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, the celebration of which occurred 69 years ago today:

GH Smith 50th anniversary
Findlay Republican Courier, 5 Aug 1949

The Family Photo Album: 15th Annual Arras Family Reunion

15th annual Arras family reunion, 1922

The 15th Annual Arras Family Reunion was held on August 15, 1922, at the home of Philip D. Arras, four miles southwest of Jenera, Ohio.

Initially, I couldn’t quite read the year on the sign at the bottom of the picture:

15th annual Arras family reunion, 1922 sign

but luckily for me, an announcement of the reunion was published in the Findlay Morning Republican newspaper (and even mistakenly appeared twice, making it possible to read portions of the announcement that were misprinted!):

15th annual reunion
Findlay Morning Republican, 15 Aug 1922

Philip D. Arras was born 14 Aug 1853, the son of Johannes and Margaret (Essinger) Arras, and grandson of Johann Peter and Anna Margaretha (Hofmann) Arras.  The latter couple emigrated from the Odenwald in Germany in 1831, bringing along several books which were still in the possession of the family at the time of the 15th Annual Reunion:

15th annual Arras family reunion, 1922 books

The center book in the pile, which at the time was 268 years old, was a German prayer book printed in 1654 that had been passed down in the Arras family.  Henry Arras, who, as I’ve mentioned before, was very interested in the family history, was extremely proud of this book.  In 1936, he entered it in a historical display held by the annual Farmers Institute in Jenera and won first place for the oldest relic.

One of the books was also a family bible which contained entries for the Arras family since before their emigration to the United States in 1831.  My great-uncle, Theron Arras, had possession of that bible years ago before his home was broken into and the thieves stole it, amongst other things.

Here are the (very few) people I recognize:

15th annual Arras family reunion, 1922 zoomed section elizabeth wahl

In the section above, the woman sitting in the lower right in the dark dress, appears to be Elizabeth Ann Wahl, the daughter of Friedrich and Anna Maria (Blaser) Wahl, wife of Peter D. Arras.  I believe the man holding the dark hat is her son, Samuel Frederick John Arras.

The woman just to the left of Elizabeth looks like Wilhelmina “Mina” Arras, daughter of Johann Philip and Katherine (Heldman) Arras, wife of Christian Essinger.  Beside her may be her sister, Louisa “Lucy” Arras.  Lucy was the wife of George Nessler.

In the enlargement I posted of the books, the boy with his head just to the right of the sign is Willard Balthasar Arras, son of George Henry and Johanna Magdalena (Crates) Arras.  His sister, Elvina (Arras) Rausch Weihrauch, can be seen in the photograph just below, holding her infant son, Clarence Weihrauch (wearing a dark outfit and light newsboy cap):

15th annual Arras family reunion, 1922 section 2

Their mother, Johanna Magdalena (Crates) Arras, my great-great-grandmother, is below, the woman on the upper left:

johanna magdalena arras

This reunion photo is one that I’ve always wished I could share with all the distant cousins I can find.  I’d love to be able to identify every single person in it!  Hopefully, eventually, we’ll be able to do just that.  So, can you help?  Do you recognize anyone?

Harry Thompson Tucker: Cricketer’s Wedding

wedding photo group
The wedding party.  Seated at front are Louise Marion Musson and her new husband, Harry Thompson Tucker.  Standing to the right of Harry is his mother, Eliza (Prouten) Tucker.  The man visible over her shoulder is one of her twin sons, either Edmond Lewis or William Prouten Tucker.  The woman with the very large hat just over Louise’s shoulder is the bridesmaid, Miss Eugenie Tucker, Harry’s sister.  At the far left in the front row is another sister, Nellie Ruth Tucker.


cricketers wedding
Portsmouth Evening News (Portsmouth, Hampshire, England), 25 Oct 1905

St. Saviour-on-the-Cliff is located on Queens Road, Shanklin, near Shanklin Chine and the Esplanade.  The newest portion of the building, the baptistry, seen below projecting out to the left, was constructed in 1905, the year that Harry Thompson Tucker and Louise Marion Musson were married.

st saviours on the cliff
Church of St Saviour-on-the-Cliff, Shanklin

Click the following links to listen to the hymns played at the wedding:

The Voice That Breath’d O’er Eden

O Perfect Love

wedding photo
Harry Thompson Tucker and Louise Marion Musson

Horace Mew, the photographer who took their wedding photo, was also a champion swimmer on the Isle of Wight.  During the summers of 1905 and 1906, he made multiple attempts to swim across the English Channel.

channel crossing
Portsmouth Evening News (Portsmouth, Hampshire, England), 24 Jul 1906, p5


Research Vacation

As you may or may not know, my husband is British.  The rest of his family still lives in the UK, so every other year or so, we go over to see everyone.

Luckily for me, that also means a research trip!  This time, we will have the opportunity to spend a week in Scotland.  My husband and mother- and father-in-law are kind enough to have offered to watch the kids for a day so I can go to the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh.  Let me tell you…I CANNOT WAIT!

scotlandspeople centre

I have been there before, but it has been several years.  As much as I enjoy the ScotlandsPeople website, it is really nice to be able to preview all the BMD certificates I’m interested in without paying for each individual view.  I can choose some of my stickiest problems and explore until I find an answer.  (You hear that, Smiths?  I’m coming for you!)

In addition, I plan to visit the Historical Search Room for the first time.  After obtaining a Reader’s Ticket, you can view records held by the National Records of Scotland.  Some of these records have to be requested in advance as they are held off-premises.  You can search the catalog here.

The particular item I am most interested in is the paternity decrees from the Paisley Sheriff Court.  My husband’s third great-grandmother, Jean Lochhead, was widowed in her early thirties.  Her first husband, John Renfrew, had been a blacksmith in the Williamsburgh section of Paisley.  With six children to raise on her own, Jean decided to continue her husband’s business after his death.  At the time the 1841 census was taken, Jean’s household consisted of her and her children, as well as three young smiths who were likely her employees.

One of these men was John Brown, whom she would, the following year, pursue for paternity of her young daughter, Grace, my husband’s second great-grandmother.  I am hoping that Grace’s paternity decree will hold more detail than that given in the abstract available on FindMyPast.co.uk.  At this point, I have been unable to find John Brown at any point following the 1841 Census.  Grace did not use her true father’s last name or even acknowledge him in records in her later life, listing herself instead as the daughter of John Renfrew.  It seems that John Brown was likely a bit of a bum, but it would still be nice to trace his line further back and to be able to say, genetically, *this* is where our family comes from.

If we get the chance, I also want to visit the Heritage Centre at Paisley Central Library.  This location holds the poor law records for Paisley from 1839 to 1930.  Jean Lochhead resided in the Burgh poorhouse for at least the last ten years of her life.  This could possibly be a treasure trove of information.

Have I mentioned that I’m excited about this trip?!

What is your favorite research location?  Have you found an amazing record that broke straight through your brick wall?



The Family Photo Album: Henry Arras family, summer 1914

Arras Family Reunion

This photo of the Arras family was probably taken in the late summer of 1914, based on the ages of the youngest family members.  The background is the exterior of Henry Arras’s home outside Jenera, Hancock County, Ohio.

From left to right across the back row: Oliver Martin Arras, Homer Emmanuel Arras, Helen Arras, Carrie Arras, unknown, Clarence Arthur Arras, unknown, Jacob Rausch (husband of Elvina Arras)

Seated at the top of the stairs are Clara Viola (Smith) Arras, the wife of Oliver Martin Arras, with her son Howard in her lap and son Theron in the middle of the two ladies; on the right is Elvina (Arras) Rausch, holding her son, Woodrow Henry Rausch.

Seated across the bottom of the stairs are Willard Balthasar Arras; Johanna Magdalena (Crates) Arras, holding her youngest son, Theodore Henry Arras; two unidentified children; and George Henry Arras.

Maybe one of you readers out there will be able to identify the unknown individuals.  I’m guessing that they must have been rather close family members to have been included in this photo.

Here are closeups of each of our mystery individuals:

mystery kids arras 1914

mystery man arras 1914mystery woman arras 1914


Any thoughts?