Tuesday, January 14, 2014

52 Ancestors - Week 2 Charles Henry Megee

My Irishmen have been difficult to find. If my research is correct (and it does match family tradition, including information from a new-found cousin), Charles Henry Megee was born in Indiana around 1860. He lived in Clay Township, Saline County, Indiana on the 1880 census, taken on June 4, 1880. He was 20 years old and living with his father, J. Megee (born in Canada, as where his parents) and his mother, M.E. Megee (born in New York). Also in the household were Charles sister, 33 year old S. E.; a 22 year old brother, J. A.; and  an 18 year old sister, M. L.; another daughter, 12 year old E. A.; and two more brothers, 9 year old L. E. and 6 year old David. All of the siblings were born in Indiana except S. E., who was born in MO. Charles was a farm laborer, as was his father. Also on the 1880 census, father J. Megee is listed as “consumpted”.

The 1870 census has Charles and his family in Madison Township, Cedar County, Stockton post office, Missouri. He was 9 years old when the census was taken on July 5, 1870. His father was Julius Megee, 50, born in Canada, and his mother was Mary E., 39, born in New York. His father and two brothers were farm laborers. Siblings at home on the census were Melissa E., 19 years old; William J., 17 years old; Martha J., 14 years old; Joseph N., 12 years old; and Emma, 8 years old. All the children were born in Indiana.  Julius could not read or write and his parents were both foreign born; Mary’s parents were not foreign born. Charles and his parent’s information corroborate that of the 1880 census, but the names of his siblings do not quite add up.

Charles eventually became my great-grandmother's (Mary Ann's) father. More about him later!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

52 Ancestors - Week 1 The Birthday Book

Granny’s birthday book is more than just a list of birthdays; it is a treasure trove of names and dates; births, marriages, divorces, relationships, photos, and even a recipe for meatloaf. I don’t know where or when she acquired the book, but I suspect it was sometime in the 1950s. It is held together by black tape and at one time the cover was red but is now a lovely faded burgundy with black imprint. Each day of the year has a four-line excerpt from the poems of John Greenleaf Whittier.

This book is my bible for family information. It is really all that I have to corroborate any other documents I might find relating to my family tree. Of course, there was a time when it didn’t occur to me that I had to prove anything; Granny said it and that made it so. 

On many of the entries, she even thoughtfully wrote down the day of the week on which the event occurred. Occasionally, small newspaper clippings are clued to pages, usually birth announcements. There are few pages with no events listed, though February seems to have been a slow month for our family. In the back she has written her list of husbands and the dates she was married to them and separated via death or divorce. 

This book is her life story in miniature. Here and there are entries she has heavily inked out. What was there that she didn't want to see ever again, or didn't want anyone else to see?

One thing I have yet to do is transcribe or scan the book. This is task that needs to be done, since this is an important artifact of my family history.

Granny’s last entry in the book was on December 25:

Minnie Almedo Magee
Born Dec 25, 1876
Died Feb 14, 1904
My Mother
Her maiden name Spires

For an introduction to my great-grandmother, Mary Ann Magee, please see this post: Meet Mary Ann.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Meet Husband #2...

Meet William Huffman, my great-grandmothers second husband and my great-grandfather. They met in Warsaw, Benton County, Missouri and were married there on July 17, 1920, just a few days after Granny's divorce from Robert Senefellow. William was married for the first time when he was 20, and probably had other children as well, though I've yet to identify his previous family.

Family tradition says that William was born in Germany, though the 1930 census shows that he was born in Missouri, as were his parents, Pernell and Mary. He was born on May 7, 1870 and had several siblings, all of which were also born in Missouri.

William’s siblings, according to my Granny, were John, Annie, Eliza Jane, Till (Tillman), Thomas Leroy, and Henry. Henry Huffman was married to a woman named Lillian (again, so Granny said), who lived in Warsaw and was the mother of Robert Senefellow,  my great-grandmother’s first husband. Confused yet? In any case, Lillie Huffman was the mother of Robert Senefellow.

At the time of Granny's divorce from Robert she was several months pregnant with Roberts daughter, Alma Lorene, who was born August 21, 1920, barely one month after her marriage to William. How Robert felt about this, Granny never said. Alma Lorene died on October 15, 1920 of whooping cough.  Her death certificate simply says "Unknown Huffman." I don't know why her name is not on the certificate, and there is no one to ask.

Granny talked a lot about William, revealing snippets of their lives together, especially about how difficult it was during the depression.  She told me he had been "a butcher by trade," though he worked for many years as a laborer at the Marble Head lime kiln near Springfield, Missouri. They had five children together, all of them still quite young when he died. 

William Huffman died on September 28, 1935 of mitral insufficiency, and the death certificate lists his spouse (and the informant) as Mary Huffman. He was a 65 year old laborer, born on May 7, 1870.  His parents are listed as Purn, with place of birth unknown. It also states that his mothers name was unknown, which seems strange since the informant, my great-grandmother, always told me that his mothers name was Mary. William is buried in an unmarked grave in Hazelwood Cemetery, in what Granny always called "potter's field."

This memorial day, we went to Hazelwood Cemetery in search of my Huffman's. I was unable to find a headstone for Williams father, Pern. Thankfully, I did find one for his mother, Mary.

                                                      Mary Huffman February 14, 1844-August 16, 1903

William has always been somewhat unreal to me, as is the child with him in the photo. He died so long before I was born that he has taken on a bit of a mythical quality in my mind. His eyes captivate me, and they remind me of my grandmother, Roberta, who looked the most like him out of all their children. It was sometime last year, I believe, when I found my great-grandparents marriage record online.  With that one image, even more so than with the photograph, he became real to me and I finally felt as if our family didn't spring from nothingness after all. A silly thought, I know. But it was because I had always wondered...what came before us?  Hopefully, I'm now on the right path to answering this question.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Meet Mary Ann

Meet my great-grandmother, Mary Ann Magee. I grew up listening to her stories of my Irish gg-grandfather, Charles Magee, and her second husband, my German great-grandfather, William Huffman.  Beyond those two names, our family history was mostly a black hole from which we apparently sprang from thin air. At least, that is how it felt to me.  I am just beginning to fill that void with names and locations, and it feels good. It feels good to have a history, no matter how humble.

Mary survived five husbands and only two of her nine children.  She lived through the influenza pandemic in 1918, two World Wars, saw the rise of cars and planes, and she survived the Great Depression. Despite her numerous husbands and children, she was an independent woman long before the so-called women's liberation movement. Though she led a traditional life in that she was always married, raised eight children, and never had an education or career, she mostly did as she pleased and asked no quarter.

Mary told me she was born near Doniphan, Ripley County, Missouri on April 22, 1901, but the county has no record of her birth.  Her parents, Charles and Minnie (Spires) Magee, were recorded in Williams Township, Wayne County, Missouri on the 1900 census.  I have discovered over the years that some of the information she gave me was accurate and some was not so reliable. I'm only just beginning the search and have much research still to do in order to put the pieces of her life, and our family history, together.

Mary died in Springfield, Greene County, Missouri on November 15, 1986, at the age of 85. Even after all these years I still find it hard to believe that she is gone. But, I can still hear her voice. On an old cassette tape from the 1980's, my cousin asked her questions about her life and family. Her voice is just as I remember it, and if I close my eyes and listen, it is almost like she is in the room with me. A priceless treasure.

It has been almost thirty years since I promised her I would tell her story and it is about time that I kept that promise.This blog is dedicated to my great-grandmother, Mary Ann Magee, to her life and to her story, through generations past and present.