Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Duchess's Chest

I just love this story that I came across about my husband's great-great-great grandmother, Margaret Ann (Unknown) Hildinger (1795-1880).  She was married to John Hildinger (1794-1848) and they both came to the United States from Württemberg, Germany in 1833 and settled in Armstrong County, PA.  They were the parents of John A. Hildinger (1831-1887) whose youngest son Charles Clark Hildinger (1876-1931) was to found the very successful Hildinger Amusement business in Trenton and feature some of the first moving pictures in Trenton, NJ.  According to her great-grandson, Charles Sweet, in a story in the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser in which he was talking about the Hildinger movie enterprise, Margaret Ann was a German duchess.  Here is the excerpt:

Charles Hildinger was a character and so was their mutual great-grandmother according to Charles Sweet.  According to family legend the great-grandmother, a duchess in Württemberg, ran away with the court tailor, a Hildinger.  They came from Germany on a sailing ship before 1830.  The ship had extra long paddles to fend off man-eating sharks during the voyage.  The couple bought a large farm in Armstrong County, Pa. and the ex-duchess took over its supervision.

A strong-willed woman, she had a custom with which she allowed nothing to interfere.  She would return from the fields shortly before 4 in the afternoon, dress in the finery from the trunks she had brought from Europe and have tea served to her in the court tradition.  The trunks and the clothes remained in the family for years.
If the story is true (which I really have my doubts), wouldn't I love to get my hands on that treasure chest!

Source:  Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser 22 Aug 1954

Monday, October 25, 2010

Military Monday - Hershel Stanley Hall - The Gallant 30

The Gallant 30 - First Bahamas Contingent to Join British West Indies Regiment During WWI

The following is a copy of a picture taken of the first Bahamas contingent that joined the British West Indies Regiment during World War I in 1915.  This picture was actually taken right before they sailed for England from Nassau on 9 Sep 1915.  My husband's maternal grandfather, Hershel Stanley Hall, is pictured on the far left.  He was just seventeen years old when he left for the war.  His name was spelled on the original roster as "Heisal S. Hall."  He returned home on 19 Jun 1919.  Original source of this picture is unknown, the copy being in my mother-in-law's family possession for many years.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - Alvin Stackhouse Rogers, Jr.

I came across the first obituary for my father-in-law recently, by accident, while doing a Google search.  It was in an Annapolis, Maryland newspaper.  The second is unknown, but most likely from the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.  He was born on 30 May 1926 in Trenton, NJ and died on 11 Jan 1993 in Margate, FL.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday – How to Wear Mourning

I have heard it said many times that our ancestors’ times were easier times.  That may true in some instances, but when it comes to wardrobe, I beg to differ.  When a death occurred, which it usually did at a much higher rate than today, wardrobes were affected by the need to adhere to the strict societal rules of the times.  Today we may wear black to the funeral, if we prefer, or we can wear whatever color and style we want.  Afterwards, well, there are no rules. 

This article from the 1907 Trenton (NJ) Evening Times discusses the “relaxed” rules of mourning and there are so many “suggestions” it makes my head spin!  All relatives of the deceased were expected to wear mourning from the widow to the children to the grandparents to the nieces and nephews and all for varying periods of time.  Even the servants were expected to wear mourning.  Grandparents got off easy with only six months of wear, while the widow was expected to suffer, with what the author calls “fashionable” wear, for eighteen months to two years.  These “rules” didn’t just refer to the dress, but to the hat, veil, coat, embellishments and fabrics.  And the fabrics could have NO SHEEN!

Can you imagine just packing up the entire family's wardrobe and purchasing a whole new one in black?  Think of the expense!  Although black is a very chic color and considered a basic staple, especially to any modern woman's wardrobe, I can't imagine how depressing it must have been to have to be forced to wear it day in and day out for an extended length of time.  AND this was considered "light" mourning!

 Source:  Trenton Evening Times, 11 May 1907

Monday, October 18, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Eliza M. Johnston - Last Will & Testament

Amanuensis Monday – Eliza M. Johnston Last Will & Testament

Elizabeth Mariah London Johnston
Born:  9 Mar 1834 Luzerne Co, PA
Died:  8 Jun 1914 Clearfield Co, PA
Buried:  Rumbarger Cemetery Find-A-Gave
Father:  Truman Beaman London
Mother:  Sally Maria Slawson
I, Eliza M. Johnston, of Du Bois, Pennsylvania, being of sound mind, memory and understanding, do make, publish an declare the following to be my last will testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me at any time heretofore made.

First, I direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid and discharged as soon after my decease as may be.

Second, All of my estate, real, personal and mired, of whatsoever nature and wheresoever situate, I give, devise and bequeath, share and share alike, unto my ten children: Mary M. Winslow, Susan C. Weaver, James K. Johnston, David C. Johnston, George McClelland Johnston, William T. Johnston, John A. Johnston, Eva Eliza Lenkerd, Joseph S. Johnston, Charles L. Johnston, and the heirs of my daughter Nancy Johnston Taylor, to wit: - Grover J. Taylor, Bessie Kauffman and Freda Steinmetz, who shall together have one share thereof, or the one-eleventh part.

Third, I nominate and appoint my sons, Charles L. Johnston and Joseph S. Johnston, to be the executors of this my last will and testament, and direct that they shall sell my real estate within three years from the date of my death, at public or private sale and at such price or prices as t them shall seem just and right, and make good and sufficient deeds of conveyance therefor, and divide the proceeds thereof as specified in the second item hereof.

                In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 2nd day of July 1909. 

                                                                         Eliza M. Johnston (signature)(seal)

                Signed, sealed, published and declared by the above-named Eliza M. Johnston, as and for her last will and testament, in the presence of us, who, at her request and in her presence, and in the presence of each other, have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses thereto.

                                                                            Wm. G. Jones (witness)
                                                                            C. P. Hayward (witness

Eliza died in June of 1914, but the final accounting was not filed with the Court until April of 1921, nearly seven  (7) years later.  The sale of her real estate did not occur until January 1921 although her will directed it to be sold within three years of her death.  The debits to the estate including the sale of real estate were:
  1. Cash on hand - $90.00
  2. Cash in Deposit Nat. Bank of Du Bois, Pa - 732.00
  3. Notes & Int. of Chas. L. Johnston & Susan C. Beard & J.S.Winslow  - 1705.74
  4. Cash in First Nat. Bank of Reynoldsville, Pa -  732.32
  5. Cash rec'd from sale of properties as dir. by will - 3100.00
  6. Cash sale of stock Reynoldsville Water Co. - 40.60
  7. Cash, net rentals after deducting expenses  - 551.38
Total $6952.04

The estate expenses including payments to the undertaker ($201.50), tombstone ($115.00) county recorder, cemetery sexton, legal services, medical services and miscellaneous came to $447.50.

Payments to heirs on 15 Jan 1921:  Charles L and Joseph Johnston each received $740.52 as their one-tenth share of the estate plus commission as co-executor.  Siblings James, David, George, William and John Johnston, Susan Weaver Beard, and Mrs. J. O. (Eva Eliza) Lenkerd each received $558.48 as their one-tenth share.  Daughter Mary Johnston Winslow died in Jun of 1914 and her children, Bruce, James, William & Merton Winslow, Eva Van Why and Ella Yates each received $93.08.  The children of daughter Nancy Johnston Taylor, Bessie Taylor Hoffman, Grover Taylor and Freda Taylor Steinmetz each received $184.04.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - Mary Elizabeth Hildinger Johnston

My Husband's Great-Grandmother  Mary Elizabeth Hildinger Johnston

Born:  1863 Armstrong County, PA
Died:  1954 Trenton, Mercer County, NJ
Burial:  Ewing Church Cemetery (Find-A-Grave)

Her Mother:  Mary Jane Cochran 1831 - 1891
Her Father:  John A. Cochran 1831 - 1887

Source:  Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser 8 Aug 1954

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Those Places Thursday -"The Bijou" Trenton, NJ

The Bijou Theatre - 23 North Warren, Trenton NJ

Charles Clark Hildinger, my husband's great-granduncle, known as the "Nickel King" of Trenton, Mercer County, NJ opened his first movie theatre, The Bijou on 28 Jun 1906 to much fanfare.  One article¹ described it as a "beautiful little white and gold palace of moving pictures” and praised the "electric fans" which contributed to the comfort of the patrons.  The opening was a great success and it was estimated that between 1200 and 1500 persons witnessed the performances that night and half of the number were turned away early in the evening.²

Charles' partner in this operation was his brother-in-law C.C. Cutler, who later sold out his share of the business to Charles and became well-known in the Trenton Times distribution business.  Charles Hildinger went on to open many more theatres in the Trenton as well as other areas, and became one of Trenton’s most prominent citizens.

¹Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser, 1 Jul 1906
²Trenton Times, 29 June 1906

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Jane Eliza Slack Rogers

Name:  Jane Eliza "Jennie" Slack Rogers
Wife of Levi H. Rogers
Daughter of Cornelius Slack & Eleanor H.VanHorn Slack

Born:  April 1838
Died:  15 Aug 1918

Cemetery:  Riverview, Trenton, Mercer County, NJ
Photo courtesy of Leigh Miller for Find-A-Grave

Top of Stone says "Mama"
Her stone is next to her husband's.  She was greatly loved by her family.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Last Will & Testament of Dr. Elmer H. Rogers

Last Will & Testament of Dr. Elmer H. Rogers


                I, Elmer H. Rogers, of the City of Trenton, County of Mercer and State of New Jersey, being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, do make, publish and declare this, my last will and testament, in manner following, to wit:

                FIRST:  I direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid as soon as may be reasonable after my decease.

                SECOND:  I give, devise and bequeath unto my wife and children, or the survivor of them, all of my property, real and personal, to be used and enjoyed by them, or the survivor of the, during their natural lives, said property to be, by my executors hereinafter mentioned, invested in real estate and first bond and mortgage.

                THIRD:  Upon the decease of my said wife and children, if the said children die without leaving lawful heirs of the body, I direct that my executors, hereinafter mentioned, shall invest the sum of Five thousand dollars, the income thereof, to be paid to William H. Bowers during his natural life.

                FOURTH:  Upon the decease of my said wife and children, if the said children shall died without leaving lawful heirs of the body, I direct that my executors, hereinafter mentioned, shall invest the sum of Five thousand dollars, the income thereof to be paid to Otto Goldy during his natural life.

                FIFTH:   I give, devise and bequeath upon the death of my wife and children, if the said children shall die without leaving lawful heirs of the body, all the rest and residue of my estate to my two sisters, Mary Rogers and Ella Rogers.

                SIXTH:  I give, devise and bequeath to my two sisters, Mary Rogers and Ella Rogers, the sum of Five thousand dollars, above directed to be invested for the use and benefit of William H. Bowers, when the said William H. Bowers is deceased.

                SEVENTH:  I give, devise and bequeath to my two sisters, Mary Rogers and Ella Rogers, the sum of Five thousand dollars, above directed to be invested for the use and benefit of Otto Goldy, when the said Otto Goldy is deceased.

                EIGHTH:  I hereby constitute, nominate and appoint Mary Olivia Rogers (signature) executrix of this, my last will and testament.

                IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this eighth day of May, A.D., nineteen hundred and five.

                                                                Dr. Elmer H. Rogers (signature)

                SIGNED, ACKNOWLEDGED AND DECLARED by the said Elmer H. Rogers, as and for his last will and testament, in the presence of us (both being present at the same time) who, at his request, in his presence and in the presence of each other, have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses.

                                                                                J. Lefferts Conard (signature)
                                                                                Sara A. Conveny (signature)

Dr. Rogers died nearly two years later at the age of forty-eight on 11 Apr 1907.  It appears the will was written and drawn up by J. Lefferts Conard.  I found a John L. Conard in the 1900 Trenton census who listed his occupation as "attorney."  Mary Olivia, the wife of the deceased started probate on 17 May 1907.  

There are a couple of interesting facts on this will that have changed my perspective, the main one being the bequest for his wife's brother, William H. Bowers or William A. as I have found him in most listings.  William is one of my brick walls and I had long assumed him to be a person of substance and education as the Bowers evidently came from money and prominence.  I know that he lived in Washington, D.C. as late as 1943 due to legal proceedings filed on the estate and published in the Trenton Evening Times.  I have never been able to find him in a census since the 1870 census at the age of one.  In fact, at one time I believed he had died as a child.  I am now having to question my prior assumptions and ask myself whether he might have been either indigent or institutionalized.  In any case, it appears that Dr. Rogers was supporting him in some fashion.

The second item of interest was the bequest for Otto Goldy who is a mystery person.  I have only been able to find one other mention of him and it was a small ad in the Trenton Evening Times listing the Rogers' former house on Warren Street and listing him as the contact.  This person will take further investigation.

All in all, this will was a great find and while it did not give me a lot more information, it did give me more to ponder.  And such is a genealogists' plight.....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Dr. Elmer H. Rogers - Good to the Poor

As I talked about in an earlier post,, my husband's great-grandfather, a well-known physician in Trenton, NJ died on 11 Apr 1907.  He was loved and respected by many.  I thought I had found all articles written on him so it was to my great surprise that when I was perusing the archives of the Trenton Times this week, that I came across this wonderful tidbit in the Letters to Editor Section that greatly touched my heart:

It was evidently written by a close friend - I only wish I knew who - alluding to the fact that Dr. Rogers had become ill due to his dedication to his practice, often making up to 100 sick calls in one day, keeping busy until late into the night.  A large portion of his clientèle were the poor who could not afford to pay, but that did deter him from his belief that people, especially the poor were deserving of his skills.  What a wonderful legacy he left us!

Source:  Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser 14 Apr 1907

Thursday, October 7, 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy - Challenge #40 - Investigate how to order an SS5.

How I Used SS5 Forms to Crush a Brick Wall

SS5 forms (Applications for SSN’s) can indeed be a “goldmine” for genealogists.  Nowhere was this truer for me than in my search for my father-in-law, Alvin Stackhouse Rogers’ maternal great-grandparents.  I had always been told that his mother’s name was Susan Rogers.  She died before I married into the family and with Alvin also deceased in 1993, none of his children could give me any further information.  Sadly, there were no pictures, documents or distant relatives in the family to ask.  When I started my research on my husband’s family, I tracked my father-in-law’s paternal side through Trenton, NJ and found his father, Dr. Alvin S. Rogers, Sr. there in the 1930 census.  However, his wife’s name was listed as Luella R. Rogers, age 28, birthplace Pennsylvania.  Okay, this was confusing – which was her real name, Susan or Luella?  I was stumped…..

I decided to order Alvin’s SS-5 and when it arrived I found that he filled it out in November 1946, probably right after he left the Navy after his World War II service.  He listed his mother’s maiden name as “Luella Ruth Johnson.”  I knew that Al’s father died in 1937 when he was eleven and his mother was remarried to Gene Daly.   She later toured as a musician with the big bands of the era so I surmised that perhaps she used Susan as a stage name.

 I knew Susan/Luella had died in south Florida because that is where they had all moved after WWII.   I checked the Florida Death Index and narrowed it down to the time period that my husband thought his grandmother died, about 1967 – 1970.  I found a Susan L. Rogers who died in Miami Beach, Fl in 1969.  There were no other names that remotely matched what I was looking for so I took a chance and ordered the death certificate.  When it arrived, I looked at the informants name and “Bingo!”  there was my father-in-law’s name, Alvin S. Rogers.  Her father’s name was listed as David Johnson, but her mother’s name was listed as “unobtainable.”  Her birthplace was listed as “Pennsylvania.”

So now I had a couple of new clues and went back to and started looking in the censuses for a Luella Ruth Johnson in Pennsylvania who was born about 1902.  Of course, as these things are apt to go, there were a number of Luellas, Ruths,  Luella Ruths Johnsons, and David Johnsons but nothing matched or seemed right.  I was back at my brick wall and feeling very frustrated.

I went back to her Death Certificate and while looking at it again, I realized it had a Social Security number!  I immediately sent off the Social Security Administration form for the copy of Susan L. Rogers’ SS-5 Application.  When it came in the mail and I opened it and saw the information, I almost did somersaults!  The name on the application was Luella JOHNSTON, not Johnson.  Her father was listed as David C. Johnston and joy of all joys, her mother was Mary Elizabeth Hildinger.  I raced to my computer and within about five minutes I had located her parents in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 censuses.

This has since led me to a surplus of information on her mother’s family, the Hildingers.  Her great-grandparents emigrated from Germany around 1830 with two young toddlers and settled on a farm in Pennsylvania, her uncle Charles Hildinger was famous in Trenton in the early 1900’s as a rags to riches pioneer in the moving picture industry- these are only a couple of the fascinating people I discovered.  Additionally, I have found over one-hundred articles in the Trenton Times regarding the Hildinger family.  Amazingly, my father-in-law never passed these stories on before he died and none of his children were aware of this rich history.

I know, without a doubt, if I had not ordered those two SS-5 applications, I would never have breached this brick wall and discovered my treasure chest of information.

Thriller Thursday - Mishap at at Funeral

Accidents Which Befell a Coffin on the Way to the Grave!

As genealogists, I think we all feel it is our responsibility to remember with dignity those who have gone before.  However, I don't think you can spend as much time in cemeteries as as the typical genealogist without having some graveyard humor.

So, okay, caveats - this story is not about about any of my people and it was probably not very funny when it happened, but when I read it I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my chair!  I could see it as the opening scene of a Tim Burton movie or a scene from the TV show, Six Feet Under.  However, I hope the girl in question is resting in peace and that her poor parents did not have too many nightmares.

Source:  Trenton Times
Date:  Saturday, 28 Feb 1885

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wedding Wednesday - Lawrence H. Rogers & Eliza C. Thropp

Wedding of Miss Eliza Thropp and Dr. Lawrence Rogers Solemnized Yesterday at Summer Home of the Bride on 12 Aug 1922.

One of the most charming weddings of the mid-summer was solemnized yesterday afternoon at 5 o’clock when Miss Eliza C. Thropp, daughter of Mrs. William R. Thropp, of Greenwood Avenue, became the bride of Dr. Lawrence Harrison Rogers, of East Hanover Street.  The ceremony was performed at the Thropp summer home on the White Horse Road.  The Rev. Peter K. Emmons officiated.

The bride, who was given in marriage by her brother, John Exton Thropp, was attractively gowned in white canton crepe, fashioned with a court train.  Her veil of tulle was arranged with a headdress of Duchean lace and was caught with orange blossoms, and she carried a shower bouquet o fillies-of-the-valley and bridal roses.

Miss Euphemia Exton, a cousin of the bride, was the maid-of-honor.  She wore a gown of orchid georgette crepe with touches of silver and lace.  Her flowers were an arm bouquet of pink roses and lavender sweet peas.  Norman T. Rogers was his brother’s best man and the ushers were John Exton and Henry Collin Minton.  The wedding march was played by Tomlinson’s orchestra which was screened  by palms on the plazza.

Immediately following the ceremony, a reception was held.  Later, Dr. Rogers and his bride left for a motor trip through the New England States.  Upon their return, they will reside at 237 East Hanover Street.

Source:  Trenton Evening Times, 12 Aug 1922

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Levi H. Rogers

Name:  Levi H. Rogers

Born:  Aug 9, 1827
Died:  Feb 4, 1892

Cemetery:  Riverview, Trenton, Mercer County, NJ
Photo courtesy of Leigh Miller for Find-A-Grave

Top of Stone say "Papa"
He was obviously well-loved by his family.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Inventory-Estate of Levi H. Rogers, Deceased

Amanuensis Monday:  Inventory-Estate of Levi H. Rogers, Deceased

I received this Will and Estate inventory from the New Jersey State Archives for Levi H. Rogers, my husband’s 3x great-grandfather.  He was originally from Bucks County, PA and was a farmer, civil engineer and conducted a store¹.  In his later years he moved to Trenton, NJ where he died on 4 Feb 1892 at the age of sixty-five.  I particularly like the way everything is listed down to the detail especially "12 chickens," etc.  Additionally, there are notes with interest due from several people including two of his own sons, Irvin and Benjamin Rogers.  Here is the transcription of his will and estate inventory² :

A True and Perfect Inventory and Appraisement
Of the Goods, Chattels, Rights, Credits and Effects of ……………………………………
Levi H. Rogers deceased, late of the County of Mercer, made this Ninth day of March A.D. 1892
By Jane E. Rogers Adm. and Henry R. Hill and Benjamin Satterthwait Appraisers.

Four (4) Cows valued at                     100.00
One (1) ton hay                                  12.00
Wheat in mow &part thrushed              33.00
Corn in crib                                        12.00
½ Interest in 8 acres wheat                 45.00
½ interest in 3 acres rye                      30.00
150 Bu potatoes                                 30.00
12 Chickens                                         6.00
2 Straps bells                                         .50
One (1) Sleigh                                       5.00
Wagon Body                                           .25   
J. R. Elrath Note Interest                     924.00
I. Rogers Note Interest                        500.00
B. H. Rogers Note Interest                  229.63
Ida & Sylvester Taylor                         511.82                   2424.20

                Jane Eliza Rogers, Adm
                Benjamin Satterthwait and
                Henry R. Hill, Appraisers

State of New Jersey
Mercer County,    Jane E. Rogers, Administrator of Levi H. Rogers, deceased being duly affirmed according to law, saith that the annexed writing contains a true and perfect inventory of all and singular the goods and chattels, rights, credits and effects of the said deceased, so far as they have come to her possession of any other person or persons for her use, to her knowledge.

Affirmed and subscribed, the 19th day of March A.D. 1892 before me, J. W. Don (signature) Surrogate.

State of New Jersey,
Mercer County,
Benjamin Satterthwait one of the appraisers of the annexed inventory, being duly affirmed according to law, saith that the goods, chattels, rights, credits and effects, therein set down and specified were by him appraised at their just and true respective rates and values according to the best of his judgment and understanding; and that Henry R. Fill the other appraiser whose name is thereto subscribed; was present at the same time with this deponent and consented, in all things, thereto; and that they appraised all things that were brought to their view for appraisement.

Affirmed and subscribed the 19th day of march, A,D. 1892 before Me. J. W. ?, Surrogate.  Benjamin Satterthwait (signature)

¹Genealogical & Personal Memorial of Mercer County, New Jersey, edited by Francis Bazley Lee, Volume 2. Page 749.
²New Jersey State Archives, Secretary of State’s Will & Inventories (Mercer Co) 5034K.
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