Remembering with Granny Boone, Part 1

My Grandmother, Margaret (Millikan) McKinley, put together some notes of conversations she had with her grandmother, Sarah Boone. I figured I would include some of those notes here.

First, Sarah Alzada Erp Boone was born May 17, 1869 in Clinton County, IN & died September 8, 1955 in Sheridan, Hamilton County, IN. She had been living with her daughter, Mary Boone Millikan, for 10 years since the death of her husband, Alva Lorenzo Boone (1861-1945).

Sarah’s grandchildren called her “Granny” at her request. She was known as “Gee-Gee” to her great-grandchildren. She also went by “Allie” because her mother was also named Sarah. Her parents were Sarah Alexander Erp (1829-1912) and Allen Erp (1826-1885). Allen and Sarah were married at the home of her father, William P. Alexander, in Kentucky on October 17, 1844. Sarah Erp later rode horseback to central Indiana with one baby and “one on the way.”

Margaret did not remember talk of the Alexander relatives in Indiana, but many Erp relatives were there. Granny kept in touch with Kentucky “cousins” through letters for years. She even took a trip to visit them in her later years. The Erps settled in Sugar Creek Twp, Clinton County, Indiana.

Allie was the 8th of 9 children recorded in the Erp family Bible. The first son, William Singleton Erp, died before the age of 16. The second child, Hannah, died at age 3. Daughter, Mary, married and died childless six years later. The youngest, Norman Frank, married but died a year later without a child. Allie and four brothers, Andrew Jackson (1850-1909), Allen Jefferson (1852-1927), Joshua Kerry (1858-1912) and Aaron Union (1861-1937), lived to marry and raise families. Below is a picture of Allie and these siblings with their mother, Sarah Alexander Erp.saerpandchildren2

Back row: Aaron, Allie, Joshua. Front row: Allen, Sarah, Andrew

The Erp family lived in a one room log cabin with a door that was fastened with a bar, one window and a fireplace. It had a floor but no carpet. Later, a “lean-to” kitchen was added on. It was made of boards, not logs. Not only was it used as a kitchen but it had a bed. They kept a “boarder” who slept there. The “lean-to” also had an oblong “step stove” with two holes on one level and two more on a higher level.

The log cabin fireplace was a source of heat and light and was used for cooking. Sometimes they filled a pie pan with grease, soaked a wool rag in it, hung the rag over the edge of the pan and burned it for light. They had some tallow candles which they probably made and must have been treasured items used for special occasions.

Sarah Erp wove cloth to make their clothing and bedding and her loom filled one corner of the cabin. Three beds and a trundle bed were also in the cabin. As Allie grew up, walls were papered with pages of “The Police Gazette.” Once a snake worked behind the paper and someone grabbed it, thinking it was a mouse!!

In the Summer, they cooked over an open fire out of doors using a crane to hold big iron kettles. Allie spoke of four posts with morning glory and cucumber vines and a shed sheltering the open fire. The family raised 8-10 hogs and had chickens that provided meat & eggs. A cow provided milk and cream butter. They had to dry beef, cure meat and eat the rest. With refrigeration unheard of, they sometimes had to “sweeten” meat with soda. They fried some meat, put it down in jars and poured on lard to cover it and had it for later use.

They had potatoes, dry beans and dried green beans, which “weren’t good!” They also had dried apples, peaches and pumpkin. Pumpkin was cooked until done, cut into thin slabs on a bread board and stood up by the fire until dried. Later, it was soaked and used to make pies. Grapes and elderberries were gathered, put into jars and covered with sorghum molasses.

Fireplace cooking was done in big iron kettles hung over the fire on hooks on an iron bar. Bread was cooked on a board. They had biscuits once a week. Cornbread was made of corn they ground or grated on a “grater.” “Egg butter” was made in a big iron skillet: “Heat butter, pour in molasses, add beaten egg, spices or nutmeg.” Sounds good and rich!

More next time…

©MJM 2016

80 Years Ago Today…

September 20, 1936, 80 years ago, my grandparents got married!

margloranLoran R McKinley was almost 20 and his bride, Margaret P Millikan had just turned 19 a few days before. Loran was the son of Oscar McKinley and Gertrude Portis. Margaret was the daughter of Arza Millikan and Mary Boone.

They got married in West Elkton, Ohio at the Friends Church at 5 p.m. Loran’s Uncle, Elbert Portis, performed the ceremony. I have no pictures of the wedding or from the wedding day that I know of. There are some snapshots from a trip they made to West Elkton in August 1936. Such a cute young couple!

There is a news clipping announcing the wedding. It mentions that Mr. & Mrs. Myron McKinley (Loran’s brother) were attendants. Listed guests included Margaret’s parents and brother, Clark; Loran’s mother, Gertrude; Uncle Elbert’s wife, Esther & some of her family who lived in West Elkton.

Grandma recorded in her diary from that “big day” that they had a big dinner with 4 cakes!

Also in her diary was a loose piece of paper that looks like the gift list. Some of the gifts they received were: a matching 7 piece water set, cookie jar & jelly dish; a 6 serving glass ware set with plates, pie plates, goblets; salt & pepper shakers, creamer & sugar bowl, 4 cake plates; a wool Indian blanket; a pie plate and medium baking dish; serving tray; pink & white candlewick bedspread; pale blue glass candle holders; mixing bowl; measuring cup; 2 piece juicer; additional cake plates; kitchen utensils; noodle cutter; double boiler; toaster; linens; towels; table lamp; magazine table; tea kettle. They actually got several salt & pepper shakers, a few potato mashers and a couple of egg beaters.

They started their life together in rented rooms in Middletown, OH. Grandpa was working at the American Rolling Mills Company (ARMCO Steel works). He was also training to become an overhead crane operator there.

They had 3 children together, 2 boys and a girl and moved several times through the years throughout central Indiana. They finally settled in Sheridan, IN, which is where Grandma was from.

Margaret also wrote “May I ever keep things as they are now—Happy—Love–etc. & may they ever grow deeper.” Sadly, while they started out happily, Grandma’s wish didn’t completely come true as they were divorced after about 28 years. But without this union, my Dad & his siblings wouldn’t be here to carry on the line through their descendants.

©MJMcK 2016

From 3 log cabin to a house in town

So how long did George & Mariah Portis really live in that 3 log cabin mentioned in the last post?

They show up in the 1900 US Census, renting a home on W Harrison St. in Martinsville, IN. Their daughter, Bertha Crider & her son Goldie F (probably Frank) live with them. Also in the home are a son “Elmer” (probably Elbert) & daughters Gertrude & Georgie.

In the 1910 US Census, 70 year old George & 61 year old Mariah are listed with their son Elbert and granddaughter Floy Urton, living on Hucker St in Brooklyn, IN. They own a home at that time. George is also listed as being able to read but not write. I could not find Hucker street in Brooklyn but there is a “Hooker” street. Hooker street travels North/South and turns West into High street.

So here are George & Mariah on the front porch of their house in Brooklyn.mariahgeorgeportis-copyGeorge died in 1916. In the 1920 US Census, Mariah shows up with Oscar and Gertrude McKinley and their boys, Myron and Loran in Brooklyn, IN. No street name is listed in this census.

Here is a picture of Mariah, Oscar, Gertrude and the boys on the front porch. The same front porch as shown in the above picture.brooklynhouseSo, in 1996, after I got started in researching the Family History, Grandpa (Loran McKinley) took me on a road trip to show me where he grew up in Brooklyn, IN. He drove up High street and pointed out the house he had lived in.brooklynhouse1996The house didn’t look very different from the old pictures & was still standing strong after about 80 years! I’ve been past it a few more times during the years, just to make sure it is still there. Pretty cool!

©MJMcK 2016

Thirteen Children in a Cabin 3 Logs High

Mariah (Minton) Portis sitting in front of the cabin in which she had 13 children.

img110

Caption on back of photo: George Portis erected this house near the year 1870 near Wilbur, Morgan Co. Ind. These logs were yellow Poplar. Mr Portis hewed these logs by hand, they were 3 ft through after they were finished. This house was build in the hollow West of Wilbur. This is Mrs. Portis 1920.

There is a news clipping, I’m not sure what newspaper it came from, nor when it was written. Josephine Foster reported on the historic photo. She mentions some attributes of the structure of the cabin. First, there were no windows (except the one high up in the loft). The lack of windows helped keep intruders out. Also the doorway is very short as was common in early cabins. To me it looks like there was a shed added on to the left of the main building. The community of Wilbur, where they lived, is now a cross roads in west central Morgan county in Gregg Twp.

George Portis was born Dec. 15, 1839 (some sources say 1830) in Davidson County, NC. Mariah Minton was born June 30, 1848 in Knox County, TN. They were married Jan. 29, 1865 in Morgan County, IN. George died in 1916 and Mariah in 1923. They are buried in Bethel Friends Church cemetery.

George & Mariah Portis had 13 children:

  • Ezekiel, born in 1866 and lived 5 days
  • Sarah, born in 1868, lived just over a month
  • (Miles J.) Bradley (1871-1929)
  • Silas J. (1872-1933)
  • Bertha Ann (1875 or 76-1940) twin
  • Burton F. (1875 or 76-1934) twin
  • Usher L. born in 1879, lived less than a year
  • Clyda, born in 1880 and lived just over a year
  • Pearl A. (1882-1895), died at 13 years
  • Elbert L. (1884-1952)
  • Gertrude (1888-1967)
  • Georgetta (1892-1962)
  • Earl, born in 1895, lived 1 month

Of the 13, only 7 lived to adulthood. But that is still plenty in such a small cabin!

George and Mariah are my great-great Grandparents. Their daughter, Gertrude, married Oscar McKinley Feb 15, 1908 in Morgan Co. IN.

Sometime in the mid 1900’s George and Mariah moved to Brooklyn, IN and lived in the same house as Gertrude and Oscar. The house in Brooklyn is where my Grandfather, Loran was born.

© MJM 2016

Labor Day, Factory Workers in the Family

While most of the early ancestors on Dad’s side of the family were primarily hard-working farmers, those on Mom’s side of the family were factory workers.

They immigrated from Germany and Croatia and settled in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Sheboygan was a factory town on the shore of Lake Michigan.

So for Labor Day, I figured I would recognize these workers in the family.

First, going back in time: Mom’s parents were Lucille Beiersdorf (1920-2011) & John Chvarack (1916-1967 ). Lucille’s parents were Amanda Steinhaus (1894-1973) & Herman Beiersdorf (1895-1983). John’s parents were Mary Siprak (1876-1960) & Steve Chvarack (1872-1938).

US Census records from 1900 have my great-great grandfather, August Beiersdorf, working as a Coal Handler; his 18 year old son, Fred, was a Band Sawyer; and his 15 year old son, August, was a Factory Hand.

By 1910, August, Sr. had died. His son, Fred still worked as a Sawyer in a Chair Factory, August worked as a Cabinet Maker in a Furniture Factory, son William, 23, was a House Painter, son Albert, 17, worked in a Chair Factory, son Herman (my G-grandfather) at 16 years old was working as a Wood Turner in a Chair Factory.

Based on US Census Records in 1900 &1910, Otto Steinhaus, my great-great grandfather, worked in a chair factory. In 1910, his sons, Walter, 19 & Willie, 14, also worked in a chair factory. His daughters, Martha, 16 & Amanda, 14, (my G-grandmother) worked at sewing in a glove shop.

1n 1910, 1920 and 1930, Steve Chvarack shows up working in a chair factory. He died in 1938. In 1920, his son, Joseph, age 22, was working in a chair factory, & son, George, 20, worked as a shoemaker in a shoe factory.

Seems like it wasn’t until my Grandparent’s generation, the “Greatest Generation”, that children stayed in school at least through High School.

Great Grandpa Herman Beiersdorf retired from Armour Leather Company after 25 years in 1958, but as mentioned earlier, he started working at age 16.

Grandpa John Chvarack worked at a Tannery in 1940. Later, he made a career in the Army

I asked Grandma, Lucille, why she chose to go to Sheboygan Business College. She said she didn’t want to go to college and got a job at a factory where they knit stockings. Said she learned how to “hold your stocking here and go this way and that way and make perfect stitches.” She said she lasted 10 days & then enrolled in the business college. The business education came in handy later when she had to support herself after John’s death.

So there we have a few of the early jobs my maternal ancestors had. Many of them stayed with those factory jobs through their entire lives. Hard to imagine the working conditions in the early 1900’s.

©MJM 2016

Allen’s “brother & sister,” Emberson & Millie Cox

Continuing from the last post; Allen Erp sent a letter from Murfreesboro, TN in 1863 to Emberson & Millie Cox. He called them “brother & sister” in his letter. The thought is that since Allen & his wife, Sarah, could not read or write, someone wrote the letter for him & he sent it to a family member.

Walter Emberson Cox (1822-1879) was married to Millie Alexander (1834-1921). They lived in Sugar Creek Twp. of Clinton County, Indiana. They are buried in Hills Baptist Church Cemetery. Walter served in the US Army, Company F of 30th Indiana Infantry from October 26, 1864 to August 15, 1865.

Allen Erp was married to Sarah Alexander, so Millie and Sarah were sisters. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

However, there is some confusion out there about the Alexander families.

From what I have found, the father of both Sarah and Millie was William P. Alexander (1810-1863), his wife was Elizabeth Stogsdill. William P. is buried in Hills Baptist Church Cemetery.

William P.’s father was William Alexander (ca1777-1855), wife was Mary Hargis.

William & Mary had several children, how many is not clear. He is also often listed as Sarah Alexander’s father. I’m not sure what sources people use for this information, but it is the predominant theory. One problem is that the first Census to name all members of the household was the 1850 US Census and by then Sarah is married to Allen Erp and out of her father’s household.

The 1850 US Census for Clinton Co, IN has several Alexanders listed, including a few Williams and another Sarah Alexander of about the same age as my Sarah (she fits as being a wife of one of the Williams). And again, Sarah and Allen are already married by 1850 and show up in the same area of Clinton County as many of the Alexanders.

Also, the US Census record for William P. Alexander in Clinton County, IN, shows him and his wife Elizabeth; a 19 yr old daughter, Mary; 10 yr old daughter Oma A; and another 4 yr old girl named Sarah “Leioel”. So I guess people figure that this Sarah would be William P.’s daughter and it wouldn’t make sense to have another daughter named Sarah. The Census record is very difficult to read. But I did notice that the enumerator only listed 2 names when he was indicating first and last names, otherwise he used first name and an initial. So perhaps Sarah “Leioel” was a neighbor or family member who was visiting the home. I can’t find any similar names in the rest of the local Census region yet. So, still looking.

1850 US Census, Clinton County IN, Sugar Creek Twp.(from Ancestry.com)

1850ClintonCoCensus

  • William P Alexander 40
  • Elizabeth 44
  • Mary 19
  • Oma A 10
  • Sarah “Leioel” 4
  • Allen Erp 22
  • Sarah 21
  • William 5
  • Hannah 2
  • Andrew 2/12
  • Walter E Cox 24
  • Milla (Millie) 15

 

The Erps and Alexanders came from Pulaski Co, KY and moved to Clinton Co, IN.

Anyway, William P. and Elizabeth are listed as Sarah Alexander Erp’s parents in the family Bible record of her marriage, on her Death Certificate and in her obituary. Millie Cox is listed as her sister in the obit. Millie was still alive when Sarah died in 1912, so I doubt this listing was a mistake.

So, Walter Emberson Cox was Brother-in-law to Allen and Sarah, with Millie being Sarah’s sister.

Sarah and Millie had other siblings: Mary (1831-1907) who married Sam Boyer, Sr.; Nancy (ca 1833-1900) who married Nelson Louks; Malinda A. (1837-1848); Naomi America (1840-1857); then the mysterious Sarah “Leioel”.

Not much of a story here except a learning experience researching the family history.

So adding a few generations to the tree: William & Mary (Hargis) Alexander—son William P. & Elizabeth (Stogsdill) Alexander—dau Sarah Alexander & Allen Erp—dau Sarah Alzada Erp & Alva Boone—dau Mary G. Boone & Arza Millikan—dau Margaret P. Millikan & Loran McKinley—son (my father)–me.

© MJMcK 2016