Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Searching for the ‘Hidden Half’ of our Family

Searching for the ‘Hidden Half’ of our Family

March is Women’s History Month and it’s soon coming to an end.  Women’s History Month is an observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.  As a family historian, I am glad we celebrate Women’s History.  But in some ways, the phrase "Women’s History" is an oxymoron.  Throughout the early part of America’s history, most women are not only difficult to find, their history is almost non-existent.

Finding female ancestors is challenging at the best and almost impossible at other times.  Women changed their name when they married and took their husband’s name.  So, unless a marriage record can be found, a woman's maiden name is often elusive.   Laws, legal rights, and social mores further complicates the finding of information about our female ancestors.  Under common law, a husband controlled everything – even land or money given to a woman by her father.  

Prior to 1850, the United States census only listed the head of household.  So, if a woman was married, only her husband would be listed by name, while the wife and other household residents were enumerated by tick-marks in columns.   Obituaries are wonderful sources of genealogical information, but women were often referred to by their husband’s name -- such as “Mrs John Doe”.  This would happen even in their own obituary!  In their husband’s will, women were often referred to as “my wife”, or in a probate she might simply be called the “Widow”. It was not until 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified that women were granted the right to vote.  Prior to that time women did not even show up on voter lists or in poll books. 

My goal is to remember the women in our family history and try to find their stories.  Below are photos of the grandmothers in my family.  They were the very heart 💗 and soul of their families.  They settled new lands, traveled in wagons, gave birth at home with only their husband or neighbor to help, cooked over wood stoves, washed clothes on a washboard, grew gardens, made bread, preserved their own food, buried their children and husbands, and most of all they loved their families.  We would not be here without their strength and courage.
3 generations of grandmothers from my family tree
I have spent countless hours searching for the “hidden half” of our family.  Many of our female ancestors have stories written and/or photos posted on this blog.  They are listed below by generation.  Just click on their name to go to their story.



2nd Great-Grandmothers:
Anna Maria Heim Weiss

3rd and 4th Great-Grandmothers
Rebecca ‘Beckie’Morgan Medlin
SarahGilbert Stewart

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Wedded Bliss"

John Martin and Elizabeth Weiss

John S Martin and Elizabeth D Weiss were married on 21st day of November 1882 in Rural Township, Rock Island, Illinois.  John was thirty-five years old and Elizabeth was twenty-five years old at the time of their marriage.
Marriage Record: John S Martin and Elizabeth Weiss
Their marriage was reported in the Rock Island Argus newspaper with the title, "Wedded Bliss".  The news article gave detailed list of the wedding presents, also, wedding guests and large circle of friends who gave the presents.

Rock Island Argus, 23 Nov 1882

Related Posts:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Our 'First Families' in America

'First Families' are considered those who have high social status or those of descent from the first settlers of a place.  I have joined several 'First Families' groups/organizations representing states, regions, or counties within the United States.  For the purposes of this blog post, our 'First Families' will be those ancestors who were our family's first immigrants to America.

I have written about a few of our immigrant families, but to tell the truth I don't know a large majority of them.  Most of our ancestors are still stuck in South Carolina or Virginia in the early 1700's, Northwest Territory in the late 1700's, or east Tennessee in the early 1800's.😞  This list of 'First Families' will hopefully grow as more of our immigrant ancestors are found.

Coming to America
Harbor at Charles-Town, South Carolina, ca 1770  (
The 'First Families' will be separated into my four grandparent lines.  Both husband and wife will be listed, even if they immigrated together as a family.  If a direct line ancestor came over as a child, that ancestor will be listed along with his/her parents.  The list will give name, country of origin, date of immigration (or about date of immigration), and first place of residence in America.
If an ancestor's story has been written in the blog, their name will be the link.

'First Families' of the Martin-Weiss family lines:
Johann Mathias Martin: Germany, 1847, Wisconsin
Catherina Kastner: Germany, 1849, Wisconsin
John Stephan Martin: Germany, Came as child with mother, 1849, Wisconsin
Philip Jacob Weiss: Germany, 1848, died shortly after arriving
Maria Barbara Maendle: Germany, 1848, Illinois
Johann Michael Weiss: Germany, 1852, Illinois
Anna Maria Heim: Germany 1852, Illinois

'First Families' of the Wilson-Hatfield family lines:  
James Cole: England, 1633, Massachusetts
Mary Tibbs: England, 1633, Massachusetts
Captain John Luther: England, abt 1634, Massachusetts
Elizabeth Turner: England, abt 1632, Massachusetts
Henry Lake: England, abt 1635, Massachusetts
Alice Lake: England, abt 1635, Massachusetts
Thomas Cornell: England, 1631, Massachusetts
Rebecca Briggs: England, 1631, Massachusetts
Richard Foxwell: England, 1631, Massachusetts
Edward Gray: England, 1643, Massachusetts
Dorothy Lettice: England, 1935, Massachusetts
Robert Abell: England, 1631, Massachusetts
Thomas Butts: England, 1660, Massachusetts
Anthony Chamness: England, 1724, Maryland
John Coddington: England, 1635, Massachusetts
Philip Hoggatt: England, abt 1700?, North Carolina
Henry Reynolds: England, abt 1670, New Jersey
Thomas Goble: England, abt 1630, Massachusetts
Alice Mousall: England, abt 1630, Massachusetts
Stephen Cawood: England, 1670, Maryland

'First Families' of the Baldwin-Stewart family lines:
James Lindley: Ireland, 1713, Pennsylvania
Eleanore Parke:  Ireland, 1713, Pennsylvania
Thomas Lindley: Ireland, Came as a child with parents 1713, Pennsylvania
Ruth Hadley: Ireland, Came as a child with parents 1715, Delaware/Pennsylvania
Simon Hadley: Ireland, 1715, Delaware/Pennsylvania
Ruth Keran Miller: Ireland, 1715, Delaware/Pennsylvania
Robert Parke: Ireland, 1713, Pennsylvania
Nicholas Pyle: England, 1683, Pennsylvania
Abigail Bushell: England, abt 1683, Pennsylvania
John Whitley: England, 1650, Virginia

'First Families' of the Leffel-Box family lines:
Balzar Leffel: Germany, 1750, Pennsylvania
Reinhold Abendschon: Germany, 1749, Pennsylvania

Our Weiss Immigrant Family

Our First American Ancestors in the Weiss Family
Philip Jacob Weiss & Maria Barbara Maendle

Philip Jacob Weiss was born 14 December 1794 in Uhingen, Wurttemberg, Germany.  He was the third child of Michael Weiss and Catherine Traub Weiss.  On 18 June 1822, he married Maria Barbara Maendle.  Barbara, the daughter of Johann Michael Maendle and Susanna Kissling, was born 6 Apr 1802 in Uhingen, Wurttemberg, Germany.

Below is a copy of the Parish Family Record for the Philip Jacob Weiss family. It is from the Family Register of Uhingen, Vol II, page 426.
Family Register; Uhingen, Wuerttemberg, Germany
Philip Jacob Weiss and his family emigrated to America from their home in Uhingen, Wurttemberg, Germany.   The German people were tired of religious persecutions, wars, political oppression, and social unrest.  And, the Weiss family was looking for a better way of life and a place to raise their children.

The Weiss family sailed from Havre, France on the ship “Seth Sprague”, which was captained by Alexander Wadsworth.  
Ship Seth Sprague, Captained by Alexander Wadsworth

Passenger list of the ship Seth Sprague.  Weiss family starts on line 23.
After a three month voyage, the Weiss family arrived at New Orleans on June 17, 1848.    Soon after, the family started their travel up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri.  Jacob Weiss became ill and died of cholera in St Louis.  He was buried in a cemetery that was later destroyed by fire so no trace of his grave has ever been found.

After the death of Philip Jacob Weiss, the family continued by boat up the Mississippi River to Rock Island, Illinois.  There was a large German settlement in Coal Valley Township, Rock Island County and it was there that Maria Barbara Weiss and her family settled.  It is possible that they located in that particular area because neighbors or friends in Germany may have located there before the arrival of the Weiss family.  In a short time after their arrival Maria Barbara purchased a two hundred acre farm for which she paid $1,060.00.
It is not known where the Weiss family stayed when they arrived at their destination. After they settled in their new home, a log house, members of the family started getting the farm ready for crops.   While their log house was not very large it always had room for others.  Many people coming from Germany stayed at the Weiss home until they could locate a farm of their own.  As in all German families everyone worked, including the younger children.  They were sent to the store, a distance of about fourteen miles.  They carried butter which was wrapped in a shawl and this was exchanged for necessary supplies.

Pages from the Weiss Bible brought from Germany
Maria Barbara Weiss only lived ten years after coming to America, passing away in 1858. She was buried on the Weiss homestead, Rural Township, Rock Island County, Illinois.  The small cemetery, located north of the house of John Michael Weiss, is now abandoned and supposedly has three tombstones, and several more unmarked graves.  The cemetery is on private property and was posted with a "No Trespassing" sign in 1997.  Alta made the following chart of the cemetery.
Much of the above story came from the book, Weiss Family by Alta Sherrard Waugh.
Weiss Family Book:
Waugh, Alta S., Weiss Family 1600-1983.  Washington, District of Columbia: American Memoirs Publishing, 1983.  
See post about the book, click here.
Family Register: 
Evangelische Kirche Uhingen (OA. Göppingen), Parish Record; Uhingen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemberg, Germany; Uhingen Kirchenbuch, 1634-1900.
Ship Passenger List: New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820-1945 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA. Original data: New Orleans, Louisiana. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1820-1902. Micropublication M259. RG036. Rolls # 1-93. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Weiss Family 1600-1983

While in college (1970), I took a beginning genealogy class taught by Instructor J. Grant Stevenson.  Prior to that time I basically knew almost nothing about my family's history.  Stevenson encouraged us to write to family members to gather information.  My paternal grandfather (Elmer Martin) had died a year earlier.  Since I had never met any family members from the Martin side of my family, I though I would start the Martin family.  I corresponded with Elmer's brother, Wilber Martin, who lived in Milan, Rock Island, Illinois.  He put me in touch with several other family members and eventually I came in contact with Alta Waugh.
Alta Sherrard
Alta Sherrard Waugh (1904-2004) was the daughter of Frank Wesley Sherrard and Emma Weiss.  Her mother, Emma Weiss, was a half-sister to my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Weiss Martin.  At the time I was corresponding with Alta, she was in the process of gathering material to write a book on the Weiss family.  She recognized the "budding genealogist" in me and encouraged my genealogical endeavors sending me information and photos on the Weiss family.

Alta obtained the help of German genealogist, Frederick von Frank, to gather records from Germany for the Weiss and Maendle families.  She also contacted descendants of the Weiss family from across the United States for much of her material.  

Fortunately, I was able to obtain a copy of Alta Waugh's book , Weiss Family, 1600-1983.  Below is copy of the title page. The book has been digitized and can be viewed by all.  It is found on in the Family History Books.

Alta dedicated the book to her mother, Emma Weiss Sherrard.

To view the digitized book on, click here.

Other Blog Posts about the Weiss Family: