Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 1912 - What were my ancestors doing?

With Halloween upon us it got me thinking and wondering how my ancestors might have celebrated it in the past.  So I've done a little research and put a social history twist on it.  Here is how my ancestors, specifically my great grandparents, might have celebrate Halloween in 1912.

Fred Haskins was 18 years old.  He was living in Marion, NY and was not married.  It was typical of young men and boys to be mischievous on Halloween.  They found fun by tipping over small barns and changing signs around on buildings in an attempt to confuse people.  They released pigs and hens from their pens, removed fences or decorated local churches. Given the fact that Fred was no longer at home and was working he most likely didn't engage in boyish traditions but he might have attended a Halloween party given by someone in town.

During my research I found a book entitled Games for Hallow e'en written in 1912 by Mary Emma Salisbury Barse.  In her book she states that "on this night there should be nothing but laughter, fun and mystery.  It is a night when fairies dance, Ghosts, Witches, Devils and mischief-making elves wander around."  Parties appeared to be a big deal.  Here is wording to a sample invitation from her book.  Maybe Fred attended a party like this.

On Wednesday, Oct 31st at 8 O'clock I shall celebrate Hallow-e'en and hope that you will come and participate in the mysteries and rites of All Hallow's Eve, so come prepared to learn your fate.

Kate VanLare was 27 years old.  She was also living in Marion, NY and had not yet married.  Halloween for girls took on a different twist than that of the opposite sex, instead of being mischievous they looked to the occasion with supertitous awe and hope that they might find love.  Maids often spent Halloween testing various sorts of wizardry related to sentiment and love.
An article entitled Halloween Paradoxes from 1912 states that some of the supertitions young women believed in were if she and her girlfriends placed a thimble and a ring in a wad of dough, bake a cake of it, and cut it carefully when done, the maiden who gets the ring will be married shortly, while the one who gets the thimble will die an old maid.  Another popular one was to write the names of her young men acquaintances on slips of paper, she would put them under her pillow, if she dreams of one of them, that is the one she is fated to marry.

I wonder if Kate and Fred attended the same Halloween party?  Maybe they played one of the various popular games of the day.  Maybe Kate put Fred's name under her pillow -  they did get married in June of 1913 which was only 8 months after Halloween.

Thomas King Robertson was 14 years old.  He was living in Canada.  Both the United States and Canada celebrated Halloween very similar and by the turn of the century Halloween had turned into a night of vandalism. Could Thomas and his brothers been out romping around tormenting his neighbors?   The Robertson family originated from Scotland so it is very likely that they practiced some of their traditional Hallow e'en rituals.  One of the most popular Halloween games in Scotland was dookin for apples.  Scotland is also one of the origins of "guising" which is when children disguised in costumes go door to door for food or coins, this custom dates back to 1895.  This practice started in Kingston, Ontario around 1911, given it was a common Scottish event it is probable to think that Thomas could have participated.

 Ruth Fredia Oestreich was 10 years old. She was living near Walworth, NY with her parents and siblings.  She had five of them living with her at the time.  Around 1912 there was a push to have more safe celebrations for Halloween because of all of the vandalism that was associated with the holiday.  School posters called for a "Sane Halloween" and children began dressing up in costumes going door to door receiving treats rather than playing tricks.  Ruth's parents could have looked for costume and decoration ideas in the Dennison's Paper Company specialized Hallow e'en themed Bogie Book .  The Bogie Book sold for five cents.  It was published each year to help in planning Hallow e'en festivities.  It would give ideas for planning decorations, costumes, favors, games and menus.

Dennison's Bogie Book - 1912 Edition

Peter Derks and Sarah Vergouwe were living in the US in 1912.  Peter was 31 and Sarah was 27 years old.  They had been married for seven years and had four children, ages 1, 3, 5 and 7.  They were living in Rochester, NY but had only been there a few years.  They arrived in the US from Holland in 1905.  In Holland they did not celebrate Hallow e'en.  They were more likely to celebrate St. Martin's Day on November 11th.  Sint-Maarten is a popular children's feast based on an old harvest festival which was celebrated in many European countries.  Children would make lanterns from hollowed out turnips and sugar beets and would go door to door singing St. Martin songs.  Children would be rewarded for singing and reciting poems with treats that often included chocolate, apples, mandarin oranges, nut brittles or fried oliebollen.

Issac DeFisher and Sarah Wisse were living in Marion, NY in 1912.  They were in their late 30's and had 13 children at that time ranging in ages from 1 to 17.  They had been living in the US since 1900.  More than likely they did not follow the customs of American Halloween.  But if they had one of the popular trends in 1912 was to send Hallow e'en postcards.  At that time people would send cheap greetings for many reasons but especially for holidays.   Below is an example of a postcard that might have been sent around 1912.

Happy Halloween!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Longest Ancestral Grave Site Line

A few weeks ago on Genea-Musings: Saturday Night Genealogy Fun the challenge was to trace your longest unbroken line of ancestral gravestones.  This made me kind of sad because I can't go back very far on any of my lines because so many of them are some where in Holland.   The one family line that has been in the US since 1632 has a break in the gravestones with my great great grandfather because he doesn't have a gravestone so I've decided to change this challenge up a little and trace my longest unbroken line of ancestral grave sites.  Below is my line:

My grandfather: Vincent A. Haskins (1918-2002) is buried in the Marion Cemetery in Marion, NY

My great grandfather: Frederick Edward Haskins (1894-1982) is buried in the Marion Cemetery in Marion, NY

My 2nd great grandfather: George Henry Haskins (1854-1925) is buried in the Fountain Hill Cemetery (Pilgrim Rock) Section 18 - Grave #2 in Deep River, CT.  He does not have a gravestone but here is a picture of the family plot where he is buried with his sisters, Julia Frank and Alma Foster.

My 3rd great grandfather: George W. Haskins (1820-1882) is buried in the Smithfield Cemetery in Amenia, NY

My 4th great grandfather: Seymour Haskins (1789-1878) is buried in the Smithfield Cemetery in Amenia, NY.


My 5th great grandfather: Jonah Haskins (1761-1816) is buried in the Smithfield Cemetery in Amenia, NY.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Suzanna Tack

Suzanna Tack is my third great grandmother on the Derks (Dierx) side.  I selected her name from my blogging jar with the prompt - write about three facts.  Here is a little bit about what I have learned about her.

Fact One:

Suzanna Tack was born on November 29, 1810 in Cadzand, Zeeland Netherlands to Abraham Tack and Katherina Frederika Blansaart.

Fact Two:

Suzanna Tack married Jannis Bulting on January 23, 1840 in Cadzand, Zeeland.  She was 29 years old when she got married and her occupation was listed as a maidservant.

Fact Three:

Suzanna and Jannis had seven children.  The first child, Abraham, was born four months after they were married.  I wonder if this impacted how they were viewed in their community?  Abraham only lived to be 3 years old.  He died in November of 1843.  She had another son in April of 1844 that she also named Abraham.  Suzanna gave birth to my 2nd great grandmother Jozina in April of 1841.  The first Abraham and Jozina shared a birth day of April 10th.

Not So Sure if it is Fact:

While doing some research in a Dutch database I found that a Suzanna Tack gave birth to at least two other children before she married Jannis.  I am not 100% sure that it was her but the name, location and age were all correct.  The children that I believe to be hers are Adriana Tack born on 6/8/1835 and Abraham Phillipus Tack born on 10/1/1836.  He died only 14 days later.  Neither of these children have a father listed on their birth records.  I am intrigued by this story and want to know more.   I just wish I knew Dutch and where to begin.  Any advice?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Nellie Bushart VanLare - A Census Record Review of 1940

Pietranella (Nellie) Bushart VanLare is my 2nd great grandmother.  She was born to Daniel Bruysschaard and Nellie Malard.  She married Jacob VanLare.  They had two daughters, Katherine and Sarah.

The last census record that I can locate of Nellie Bushart VanLare is from 1940.  At that time she was living in Marion, New York in Wayne County. 

Nellie was living at 108 S. Main Street in a house that she owned. It is listed as being valued at $1500.  She was 79 years old, which makes her birth year around 1861.  At this time she was widowed.  The census states that she attended school through the 6th grade.

The census indicates that her granddaughter Rachel Drave and her husband Julian were also living with Nellie.  Rachel is the daughter of Fred Haskins and Katherine VanLare.  Their neighbors were Elmer Corey and Frank & Mable Dubois.

Nellie was born in Holland, but was a naturalized citizen.  It states that she lived in the same house in 1935.   

The 1940 census asked a lot of questions about working/employment history.  At 79, Nellie was not working for pay and was not seeking work.  It states that she had other income.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Ancestor Blogging Jar

This idea came as a result of two activities that I've participated in to help get me jump started back to more regular blog posting.

I always end up learning more about a specific ancestor when I "play" Randy Seaver's SGNF: Ancestor Name Roulette.  This activity causes me to review the ancestor that was selected, look for a picture and review any interesting facts that I may or may not know about this individual.  The last one of these I participated in was the one he posted on August 25th.  I didn't actually do it on that day but over time I learned a lot more about Daniel Bushart, my 3rd great grandfather.  As a result of this challenge, I also translated two documents from Dutch to English (with the help of  Babylon ) to assist in learning some more facts about him. This activity forced me to focus on Daniel and the documents that I was given but  never seem to have the time to look at much less begin to translate them. 

The other activity I participated in recently was the What's Your Ancestral Name Number? - another one of Randy Seaver's SGNF events.  For this event you had to determine what % of your tree you have complete back to your 7th great grandparents.  Out of a possible 1022 - I only had 12% of my tree complete.  This discouraged me -- I also realized from doing this that I know very little about many of my "greats."

So from this, My Ancestor Blogging Jar concept was born. - I like picking a random ancestor and I need to know more about my many great grandparents so I put 127 names on slips of paper and placed them into my jar.  I then brainstormed and came up with a variety of blogging topics that I could match up with my selected ancestor.  I put these on separate slips of different colored paper.  These also go into my jar.  I pick a topic and name --and voila, you have a blogging topic! 


Blogging Topics Include:

  • Just the facts - Identify three facts about this ancestor
  • Pick a vital and write about what you know
  • Pick a census record that they are in and review it
  • Where did they live?  Write about the history of the town or area.
  • What is their immigration story or lack of one?
  • Link their life to historical events
  • Write about their occupation
  • Write a family record
  • Dinner date with this relative - Food and conversation, what would you plan?
  • At age 40? - write an overview of their life at the fabulous age of 40.
  • Family Fun -  write about what they did or might have done as a family for fun
  • Write about their education level.
  • Write about what it would be like to switch places with this ancestor for a day.

Here is my jar - the white slips are my ancestors and the purple slips are my topics.  The first name picked was Nellie Bushart and my first topic was pick a census record they are in and review it!  Let the blogging begin.


My Family History - An Acrostic Poem

October is Family History Month: In honor of that I have created acrostic style poem to highlight some of the facts from my family tree.

Many of my ancestors originated from England and Holland.

Year my first ancestor came to the US; 1632.


Farmers; A common occupation in  my family tree.

A in Haskins was once an O in Hoskins.  It appears to have changed in the late 1700’s with Jonah.

My great grandmother, Sarah Wisse DeFisher, had 17 children.

Issac and Sarah DeFisher came to the US in April of 1900 on the Rotterdam with 4 sons and $2.00.

Leisten, Wilhemina Ruth is my 2nd great grandmother.  She was born in April 1869 in Penfield, NY

Year my great grandfather Fred Haskins was really born—1894.  His tombstone says 1891.


Haskins Contractors and Builders was founded in 1937. — Family masonry business.

In the 1840 & 50’s my 4th GGF, Edward West, worked as a butcher @the Fulton Market in NYC.

Sara and Peter Derks came to the US in June of 1905 on the Rotterdam with 1 son and $24.00

Topping Ladder Company  - A place my Grandpa Derks worked making reels.

Onions & potatoes; some of the crops my family grew and still grows on the muck of Wayne Co.

Roberston, my grandmother’s family  is part of one of the oldest Scottish clans.

You live as long as you are remembered—A Russian Proverb