Usually I only blog on Tuesdays and Sundays, but today I'm making a special exception. Inspired by fellow genealogist, J Paul Hawthorne, I created an ancestral birth place "bracket." (I'm sure my dad, who was all about March madness, is smiling down from heaven right now. Love you, Dad!)
JPH's concept was a graphical representation of birth places. But for me that just wasn't enough. I had so many migrants in my family, I also created a similar death location bracket. But I still wasn't satisfied. In order to "get it" you had to compare the two charts side by side. In my mind, my ancestral theme is that of westward migration.
Finally, I came up with an idea to combine the two. My ancestors start on the right and move forward in time to the left. So the right half of their marker shows where they were born and the left shows where they died. It is particularly striking to see a couple of sets of great-great grandparents born in Ireland and moving across an ocean and another continent all the way to California. (I know the text in the cells reads left to right but it looked to weird to me to list the death first and the the birth to get them to read right to left).
I've shown dark green for me, as I'm now in Washington, the Evergreen State. I don't yet know if that's where I'll breath my last. It's clear from this chart I've got a westward migration gene, and the Pacific Ocean sits just outside my door!
For my Tuesday Tips today, I'll cover another indexing scheme for organizing the names you might find in a county record book. These books cover things like wills, deeds and more. As FamilySearch.org puts up more and more image-only historical records, it's important to understand how the indexes work. The records on FamilySearch aren't necessarily searchable via search boxes, but if you know how the indexes work you can find them almost as quickly. as you could with search boxes.
West Virginia Will Index – The example below is from FamilySearch for West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971 Hampshire Index to wills, v. 01 1907-1969
You can see the index above across the top of every page, they list the letters, so even on the A names pages you can see the S index pages. But let’s look at this. There is S on page 125. Sc is 127. Se is 129, etc. But note this is NOT a straight up alphabetical index. Page 125 is not just the names beginning with Sa and Sb. Page 125 displays the S+ the letters that aren’t specified. So things like Sa, Sh, Sp, Sl. Whoever put this index together for the county saw that there were a lot of SC names, a lot of SM, ST, etc. so those letter combinations got their own pages. There aren’t so many SA-, SP- and SH- surnames so those names have been combined on their own page.
The list progresses roughly chronologically by date of probate through the surnames, but notice that it goes up to 1968, but then a 1964 and a 1964 name have been added at the end. Word to the wise - read all the way to the end just to make sure a name hasn't been added out of order
Once you locate the name of the person you're looking for, read to the right of the name where you will find the Will Book and Page Number where their will can be found. Check FamilySearch to see if they have the images for that book digitized. If not, you may be able to borrow a microfilm with the will on it, or you may need to write to the county to get a copy of the will, but now you have the book and page to tell them where to look.
I read Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings blog from March 23, 2016[i] in which he wrote about his grandfather. Randy doesn’t have a terribly positive impression of this ancestor, but his blog post got me thinking about why we might like some ancestors more than others. Do I have ancestors I don't "like"? Would I like them more or less if I knew more or less about them? Were some of them creeps but those qualities don't show up in the records? Or did one of them do one bad thing, and that's the only record I’ve found, so I have a bad impression, but in reality the rest of their life was good? Or were some of them great in public, in the records I do see, but horrid people behind closed doors? While I ponder the greater implications of those questions on my research, for today’s Sunday Stories I’d like to write about one ancestor I do have a very high opinion of, and I’m pretty sure most everyone who knew her. or who knew of her, would agree.
Mary Agnes Bradley was born “at the foot of the Wildcat”[ii] near Petaluma, California in 1888,[iii] the middle child in a family of seven surviving children, with a few other siblings lost fairly young.[iv] When she was three, her family relocated to Tiburon when the railroad which employed her father moved its headquarters there. Agnes spent the rest of her life in the town on the shore of San Francisco Bay. She married Charles Kircher in 1909[v] and they raised their eight children across the street from the bustling railroad yards, in a three-story house with a view straight out the Golden Gate.
I think her strong Catholic faith was a legacy from her parents, and she lived that faith through good works her entire life. To share just a few of her endeavors…
Agnes was a founding member of the board of the Tiburon Sanitary District, serving as secretary from 1926 to 1958, and later as its president.[vi] She and Charlie were instrumental in getting one of the first sewage treatment plants on San Francisco Bay constructed in Tiburon, knocking on every door and button-holing the citizens of Tiburon to vote for the project. Her family fondly referred to it as “Ma’s Sewer Plant.” We’d pass by it every time we went to visit her when I was a little girl. (In fact when my dad first brought my mother home to meet his folks, he of course had to point out Ma’s Sewer Plant. My mom wondered just what kind of a family this was whose mother had her own sewer plant!)
Agnes was an election judge at the polls in Tiburon.[vii] She was involved with the Tiburon Mothers’ Club.[viii] She was a member of the Young Ladies Institute, a Catholic women’s service organization. She was a manager of the Village Salvage Shop in Tiburon, a joint venture between the local Catholic, Presbyterian and Episcopal churches and the PTA. She served on the juvenile probation committee and the citizens’ advisory committee for planning. She was a charter member of the Tiburon Peninsula Club and the Belevedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society.[ix] For these and countless other efforts, she was named Marin County Senior Citizen of the Year in 1966.[x]
Agnes’ influence continued on to her children and grandchildren. My dad drove people to the Handicapables Luncheons for years in Marin and later delivered Meals on Wheels in Benicia for 20 years. My aunt Mary volunteered at the Gift Shop at Mission San Rafael Arcangel. My sister, Tori, is a regular volunteer with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. I’ve had the chance to be on the board of the Catholic Seafarers’ Center and the Association for Catholic Childhood in Seattle. In fact when ACC was looking for a volunteer to take over as treasurer, I have no doubt that Grandma Kircher, seated on a perch in heaven next next to a choir of angels, had somehow tied an invisible string to my hand and yanked that sucker right up.
But even with all those good works in Agnes’ life, I think the thing that inspires me most was something my dad told me she used to say, “When you come to the “but” in the sentence, stop. ‘She’s a nice girl, but….?’ No. If she’s a nice girl, she’s a nice girl. Period. You don’t need to go beyond the ‘but’.” Words to live by.
I am honored to be the granddaughter of Agnes Bradley Kircher, and I strive to live up to her example.
[ii] Personal recollection of Thomas B Kircher to author
[iii] Church records of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Petaluma, Sonoma, California
[iv] Household of Patrick Bradley, Year: 1900; Census Place: Belvedere, Marin, California; Roll: 93; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0061; FHL microfilm: 1240093; Household of Patrick Bradley, Year: 1910; Census Place: Sausalito, Marin, California; Roll: T624_88; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0050; FHL microfilm: 1374101
[v] Marin Tocsin, 9 January 1909, page 1, “Miss Agnes Bradley and Charles A. Kircher Wed”
[vi] Ebb Tide, 1 June 1966
[vii] Marin Journal, Volume 52, Number 33, 13 August 1914
[viii] Sausalito News, Number 5, 29 January 1932
[ix] Marin Independent Journal, 10 May 1966
[x] Ebb Tide, 1 June 1966
When you are searching for names in old newspapers that have been digitized, are you considering all the ways the name might have been misspelled? In many cases a non-existent “s” is added to a surname and just as likely, the “s” that belongs at the end of a name might have been dropped. Look at the example below:
In this article about my great-great grandfather, John Fields[i], he’s shown with the surname spelled both Fields and Field in the same paragraph. Elsewhere on the same page is this second article, “Nearly a Centanarian,” in which he’s only referred to by “Field” and “Mr. Field.”
I was lucky that both spellings were on that newspaper page, but you might not be so lucky. When you are searching for surnames, be sure to check both with and without an "S" at the end.
[i] I believe the spelling Fields is correct, based on the gravestone of his wife, Mary Devlin Fields. You can see a picture of this stone at http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=fields&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSst=6&GScnty=185&GScntry=4&GSob=n&GRid=69945163&df=all&
My blog is called Searching for Stories. In the last few days, I didn’t have to do much searching, but I was treated to a wonderful weekend full of them.
I was fortunate to be selected as a presenter at the California African American Genealogical Society conference in Los Angeles. I’ll admit I accepted the invitation mostly for mercenary reasons. I’m trying to establish my reputation as genealogical speaker and I thought by going to the conference I’d have a chance to make some connections that might provide some speaking opportunities in the future. For some dumb reason, it never occurred to me how much I would learn!
It started pretty early in the day. At the opening of the conference we were treated to the National Anthem – but not the “O Say Can You See” anthem. Instead we heard the beautiful “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Right out of the gate, I learned something new.
The plenary session speaker, Col. Franklin Henderson, USA Ret. spoke about Buffalo Soldiers. I’d heard the term, but I didn’t know much about them. He provided background about these brave men from the 9th and 10th Cavalry. He told stories of many, including Lt. Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, an up-and-coming young officer who was eventually court marshalled and discharged from the army, but almost 100 years later was posthumously awarded an honorable discharge.
For the first breakout session, Michael N. Henderson, a genealogist and writer from Atlanta, spoke of his ancestor, Gilbert d’Arensbourg, who, along with Gilbert’s mother, Felicite, and sister, Manette, was freed from slavery in 1799, by the woman Michael has discovered is Gilbert’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Duclos Deselle. I learned much about Creole history, the settlement of Louisiana and the entire Mississippi River watershed up through Illinois and on into the French areas of Canada.
With these great talks in my head, I was a bit deflated to have to give my own presentations. I mean I’ve already heard “Bagging a Live One” and “Read ‘Em or Weep” dozens of times – I wanted to learn something new! But I hope I was able to share a few new tricks for finding living cousins and researching in newspapers with the people who came to hear me.
What a treat was it when I was finished with my duties to get to hear Paula Madison weave her magic, telling how she traced her grandfather from his temporary adopted home in Jamaica back to China. Paula was a journalist, and can certainly tell a captivating story, bringing so many characters to life. But along the way I learned more history – I had no idea about the large number of Chinese who emigrated to Jamaica in the latter part of the 19th century and the cultural implications that had for future generations. She’s written a book and made a documentary about her journey of discovery. I can’t wait to explore more.
We were entertained Friday night by a troupe of players recreating a 1940’s jazz club, Sweet Lorraine’s featuring among others Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, Eartha Kitt and Blanche Calloway. Sharon Graine, a Los Angeles writer, producer, singer (what doesn’t she do?!) created the production. Various iterations of her shows are performed around Los Angeles to keep the legacy of these historic entertainers alive.
Saturday dawned with more “new” history. Our plenary session was hosted by Michael Sanborn of the Banning Museum. He told us about former slave, Harriet Mason, a young girl of about 13 who saved many lives in the Los Angeles harbor after the disaster of the Ada Hancock in 1863. As if the story of Harriet’s bravery weren’t enough, there was so much more to be told of Harriet’s mother, Biddy Mason, a midwife and one of the first African American property owners in Los Angeles, of the Mason’s journey west, and the historic way they gained their freedom. I’ve got lots of research to do in newspapers, now, just to satisfy my own curiosity about Biddy and Harriet and the players in the tales. I’m a California native, but once again must come face to face with how much I don’t know about the state’s history.
Elyse Hill, a genealogist from the Atlanta area presented “Breaking Through the 1870 Brick Wall.” For those of you who have not done research on formerly enslaved people, the earliest census where they are mentioned by name is 1870 – prior to that they are listed by gender and age on the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules. It’s a difficult challenge to track those names found in 1870 back in time to determine their ancestry. I was interested to hear the talk because I’m coming at it from the opposite direction. I have slave-owning ancestors in my family. It’s something I struggle with, but it is part of our nation’s history and affects where we are and who we are today. I have documents in my family including wills and estate inventories and birth and death records that mention slaves. I am feeling a call to find some way to research those documents, to come forward from the 1850 and 1860 census and the 1857 and 1862 estate papers and find some of those newly-freed people. I think Elyse and I are knocking on different sides of the same door, and she encouraged me to open it and share what I find, both as a researcher and an educator. It may help some other researcher coming from the other side. As my research progresses I will try to post about it in my blog.
I got to hear another Michael Henderson lecture, “Black Women, White Men: Embracing the Forbidden Fruit of Genealogy.” He traced his ancestry back to a Revolutionary War patriot from the Battle of Baton Rouge. Um… did any of you know about that part of the revolution? Again, I’ve discovered some gaps in my knowledge of American history – it wasn’t just New Englanders and Pennsylvanians who secured our country’s independence. I’ve certainly got my work cut out to shore up the holes in my knowledge base. But just as Elyse had done, Michael reinforced my desire to embrace and understand who my family was – what they did right, what they did wrong, and what those lessons can teach me about being the best person I can be.
I want to thank CAAGS for the great conference they put on, and for inviting me to participate. I hope in my own small way I added something to the mix. I say that my genealogy is all about searching for the stories, and I came home with a whole bagful of ‘em! Thank you. If you have a chance to go to a conference, especially one outside your regular bailiwick, take it! I guarantee you’ll leave a better and more knowledgeable participant.
My post-conference wrap-up wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to my partner in crime, Janice Lovelace. Though she is a local Seattle genealogist and speaker, I hadn’t met her until I opened the door to the hotel room we shared in LA. I had a great time getting to know her, to learn some history from her, and I look forward to more good times with my new colleague.
 For more information see - http://www.buffalosoldier.net/HenryO.Flipper2.htm and http://www.buffalosoldier.net/
 Here’s a link to a video of one of our cast, Suzanne Nichols, as Miss Kitty. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiosYyrJ0Ho
 http://www.thebanningmuseum.org/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Ada_Hancock, http://www.publicartinla.com/Downtown/Broadway/Biddy_Mason/ruddick_Biddy_Mason.htm,
 The PBS series, “History Detectives” did a segment on a document Michael used to discover this part of his lineage. Here’s the link http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/video/1575582583/
Randy Seaver is a genealogist and blogger. He puts out the occasional blogging prompt and last Saturday night he posted one - to track though the middle names of one's ancestors for four generations and try to determine why those names were bestowed and then write a blog post of your own.
I'll admit, Randy's format from his blog post confused me a bit. He used letters and by the time I got to the fourth generation I lost track of where I was and where to go next. So I used the Ahnentafel numbering system where I am 1, my father is 2, (double my number) and my mother is 3 (father +1). You can easily go back in the generations - for instance with my maternal grandparents I take my mom' number (3) and double it, so her father is 3 x 2 = 6 and add 1 to get her mother. So in my chart below you can see I have my direct line ancestors numbered using the Ahnentafel system.
You can see Randy's original post at: (http://www.geneamusings.com/2016/03/saturday-night-genealogy-fun-middle.html)
Here is my stab at figuring out where the middle names in my family came from....
2) Father: Thomas Bradley Kircher (1921-2008): Middle name is mother’s maiden name
3) Mother: Rosemary Brown (1922-1977): Birth certificate says “Rose Marie” but she went by Rosemary. No family connection with this name
Son: Richard George Kircher (1945-????): he is Rosemary’s son with her first husband, George Hartman, and his middle name is his father's given name.
Son: David Thomas Kircher (1950-????): Middle name is father’s given name
Daughter: Victoria Anne Kircher (1953-????): no recent ancestor with this name
Son: Mark Damian Kircher (1955-1995): no recent ancestor with this name
1) Daughter: Mary Elizabeth Kircher (1960-????): middle name paternal aunt, Jane Elizabeth’s name
Daughter: Diane Elinor Kircher (1962-????): middle name is friend of mother (Elinor Porter Evans)
4) Father: Charles Arthur Kircher (1879-1952): no recent ancestor with this name
5) Mother: Mary Agnes Bradley (1888-1968): first and middle names after her mother (mother went by Mary, daughter went by Agnes)
Daughter: Mary Frances Kircher (1909-1996): Middle name is paternal grandmother’s given name
Daughter: Bertha LouiseKircher (1912-1999): Middle name is variant of paternal aunt’s (Louisa) middle name
Son: Charles Arthur Kircher (1915-1987): full name is father’s full name
Daughter: Barbara Elizabeth Kircher (1918-1994): middle name is middle name of maternal aunt
Daughter: Kathryn Browning Kircher (1919-1998): Middle name is paternal aunt’s married surname
2) Son: Thomas Bradley Kircher (1913-2004): Middle name is mother's maiden name
Son: John Lawrence Kircher (1926-2010): no recent ancestor with this name
Son: Philip James Kircher (1932-2012): middle name is maternal grandfather’s given name
6) Father: Ira Sankey Brown (1877-1959): given and middle name is name of Methodist singer and composer, Ira David Sankey
7) Mother: Mary Jane Hardy (1892-1975): unsure if there is a recent ancestor with this name
Son: Warren Hardy Brown (1920-2001): middle name is mother’s surname
3) Daughter: Rosemary Brown (1922-1977): Birth certificate says “Rose Marie” but she went by Rosemary. No family connection with this name
Daughter: Iris Virginia Brown (1924-1997): origin of middle name unknown. May be from the state of Virginia, birthplace of maternal grandfather
8) Father: Charles Conrad Kircher (1852-1929): middle name is paternal grandfather’s 2nd name
9) Mother: Frances Abelone Springer (1857-1930): no recent ancestor with this name
4) Son: Charles Arthur Kircher (1879-1952): no recent ancestor with this name
Son: Irving Henry Kircher (1885-1951): middle name is given name of maternal step-father
Daughter: Helen Louisa Kircher (1888-1970): Middle name is maternal grandmother's given name
Daughter: Stella Mae Kircher (1889-1958): no recent ancestor with this name
10) Father: Patrick Thomas Bradley (1847-1938): no recent ancestor with this name
11) Mother: Mary Agnes Ahern (1859-1937): no recent ancestor with this name
Daughter: Jane Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bradley (1882-1968): middle name is “call” name of paternal grandmother
Son: John Francis “Frank” Bradley (1884-1959): middle name is given name of paternal uncle
Son: James Ahern Bradley (1886-1963): middle name is mother’s surname
5) Daughter: Mary Agnes ”Agnes” Bradley (1888-1968): first and middle names after her mother (mother went by Mary, daughter went by Agnes)
Son: Hilary Patrick Bradley (1889-1920): Middle name is father’s given name
Daughter: Anna Margaret Bradley (1896-1897): no recent ancestor with this name
Daughter: Miriam Marcella “Brownie” Bradley (1899-1995): no recent ancestor with this name
Son: Thomas Graham “Graham” Bradley (1902-1956): Middle name is maternal grandmother’s surname
12) Father: James Nelson Brown (1836-1926): no recent ancestor with this name
13) Mother: Isabella Mansperger (1840-1918): no known middle name
Son: John B Brown (1858-1947): unsure what middle initial stands for
Daughter: Emma C Brown Carringer (1860-1910): unsure what middle initial stands for
Son : Sevillin Brown (1862-1862): no known middle name
Son: William Boyd Brown (1864-1847):
Daughter: Anna B “Mary” Brown (1866-1911): Mary is after maternal grandmother’s given name
Son: Edward Leroy Brown (1868-1937) no recent ancestor with this name
Daughter: Frances C Brown (1869-1950): unsure what middle initial stands for
Son: Asberry Wesley Brown (1873-1956): no recent ancestor with this name
Son: George W. Brown (1875-1952): unsure what middle initial stands for
6) Son: Ira Sankey Brown (1877-1959): given and middle name is name of Methodist singer and composer, Ira David Sankey
Daughter Elizabeth J Brown (1878-bef 1894): unsure what middle initial stands for
Son: Elmer E Brown (1979-????): unsure what middle initial stands for
Son: Pearley O. Brown (1884-1958): unsure what middle initial stands for
14) Father: Jeremiah Hardy (1852-1903): no known middle name
15) Mother: Mary Jane Fields (1854-1930): no recent ancestor with this name
Daughter: Ida Josephine Hardy (1888-1978): no recent ancestor with this name
Daughter: Mary A Hardy (1889-1890): unsure what middle initial stands for
7) Daughter: Mary Jane Hardy (1892-1975): no recent ancestor with this name
Daughter: Alice Irene Hardy (1901-1976): no recent ancestor with this name
So we have in these names:
Mother/Father given name – 4
Mother/father middle name – 3
Grandparent given name – 4
Aunt/uncle given name - 4
Family Surname – 5
Friend or famous person – 2
No middle name or only initials – 13
No recent relative in the family - 18
So out of 54 persons in these four generations, only 20 of them had a middle name from a family member. 13 had no middle name or only initials for middle names (middle name unknown). 18 had unique middle names not in recent family members and 2 had middle names from friends or celebrities. Note, if you add this up I'm one short. Not sure why I'm short, but as a Certified Public Accountant, I'm going to claim it's immaterial.
One more thing - this sort of made me laugh. With today's social media, we seem to see a fair number of children named after celebrities, but at least in my family that's not a 21st century phenomenon. My grandfather, Ira Sankey Brown, was named after a 19th celebrity, the Sweet Singer of Methodism, Ira David Sankey. Grandpa was pretty far down the pack in his family of 13 children, so perhaps Nelson and Isabella had run out of family names by the time my grandpa arrived. One of my back-burner genealogy projects is to see if I can find a timeline for Ira David Sankey's travels and see if he might have been singing in a revival tent in Noble County, Ohio around the time of Grandpa Brown's birth.
Notes on the photo below - In the foreground of the picture is a white boat. Directly above the boat is a dark, chalet-style house. This is the home of my grandparents, Charles and Agnes Kircher, where my dad was born and raised.
Another story from the tapes my dad recorded of his childhood memories.
In our house, when my parents were assigning chores, sex was not a contributing factor, age was what governed. It didn’t matter - if you were old enough you did one job, if you were not old enough, you did another job, so that the youngest child had to bring the kindling up to start the woodstove the following morning. The child above that filled the wood box with firewood. And the child above that dried the dishes. The child above that washed the dishes. And the child above that would go down, take the mailbox key and pick up the mail and bring it home before going off to Tiburon Grammar School. The children above that were already exempt because they had to catch the boat to go to high school.
When you took the post office key downtown to pick up the mail in Post Office Box 76 which was in Mr. Chapman’s store (he was the postmaster), you also went over to Billy Beyries’s and bought whatever groceries your mother put on the list, and then you stopped right next door to the Pioneer Meat market, which Mr. Anderson ran, and bought the hamburger or the chop or whatever else it was that was on the list and you took that home just in time to take off and go to school.
One day in 1934 it was a very interesting day. It was my turn to go downtown and pick up the mail, so I started with the key to the post office box, but I could not get across the viaduct that went across the railroad yards. They wouldn’t let me cross that. And I looked down around the road, around Mar West to the bay, and I couldn’t go down that way – it was surrounded by men, and they would not let you move. So I went home and told my mother, and she sent me off to school.
During the morning that day, there was a lot of commotion in the Tiburon railroad yard and we all got to go to the window and look, and here came a train, an engine and several passenger cars, and all of them were taken right on the freight barge. That freight barge was for freight cars, not passenger cars, but all these cars on this particular train were put on the freight barge down at the freight slip and the barge took off. It was so unusual to see these passenger cars on the freight barge and all the extra men in suits around the railroad yard.
We eventually learned, of course, that this was the movement from one of those mid-Western prisons to Alcatraz of Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly. They had come through Tiburon. The train came overland into Martinez but there it took a detour that surprised even the Department of Justice officials. They routed the train over to Napa junction and then to Schellville. There at Schellville it stopped being a Southern Pacific train and became a Northwestern Pacific train and traveled down to Novato and San Rafael and though the tunnels into Tiburon where they transferred two cars of prisoners and a car of guards onto the freight barge and as it left the dock more guards in small launches patrolled the waters as the barge made its way on its three-mile journey to Alcatraz. The FBI or whoever it was managed to bring all those dangerous criminals to Alcatraz Island because they surprised everyone with their sneaky 75 mile detour around San Francisco Bay. And I couldn’t do my chores that day, all because of Al Capone.
When you find an obituary, and see those magic words, “[some-other-city] papers please copy” do you look to see if some-other-city did copy? Maybe you should…
Here is a brief obituary I found in a San Francisco paper for John Whitworth. It provided some good details, including his nativity, his wife’s name, and an exact age. It also contained those magic words “Seattle papers please copy.”
When I followed up in the Seattle paper, I found a gold mine! While the San Francisco obituary was one sentence with some additional details on the funeral, the Seattle paper’s account sported more details of family and a delightful moonlit boat ride filled with phosphorescent sparks.
Make it a point to look for those other obituaries when you see those tempting words. These kind of obituaries may be published days, weeks or even months after the original notice, but they are certainly worth looking for.
In 1999, stuck for thinking of a Christmas present for my father, I sent him a letter, a tape recorder and some blank tapes. The letter contained, among other things, a list of questions I wanted to know about his childhood, family, education and more. (Who exactly was this present for?? I was putting him to work, filling cassettes with stories he could send back to me!) But Dad filled several tapes with stories and I transcribed them. From time to time, I’ll share some of these stories. My siblings have the book I transcribed of all these stories, but perhaps my cousins and others would enjoy reading them.
It seems appropriate to share this story today, 6 March. My grandfather, Charles Arthur Kircher, passed away on 8 March 1952.
In Tom Kircher’s words…
“In Tiburon, Bobby Williamson always had a slogan for anything – “a stitch in time saves nine,” “a job begun is half-way done” and all that kind of stuff so now we’re into the business of a job begun.
It’s hard to figure out just exactly where to start, but one of the things about the questions you asked about my childhood and growing up and stuff, it has to start in, say, three different places – one of them, I think, is in Webster, New York, and you have to kind of understand what kind of a guy Charlie Kircher was.
He was a farm boy. His father was a farmer and they had orchards and they did their chores before going to school and I think he was probably one of the few guys at his age that was able to finish high school and he was bright enough to do that. He had one brother and two sisters and I think they were smart enough, too, but Daddy got out of high school in Webster, New York in 1898, I think, and went on to Dartmouth and graduated from there in 1902.
He was able, because of his grades to obtain a scholarship to Dartmouth. I don’t know whether it was a full scholarship or a partial. Among other things, he had a job to do on the campus, and that was to ring the bell for chapel in the morning to wake everybody else up to go to chapel, and he had to do the ringing. He then lived. He then lived off campus, I think, in a house that was a…that had a woman by the name of Emma Hahn, and she was his “other mother” and he spoke of what a lovely lady she was. And there are pictures in the album of Emma Hahn.
I’m sure as we continue on from time to time, I’ll b referring to what kind of a guy Daddy was, and how he did different things. I know that in later years when I spoke with Mary Frances, she sure had a good memory of the quirkiness and the clever wit and the twinkly eyes that Daddy had on certain occasions.
But being a farm boy, you had to be everybody, you had to do every single thing. You didn’t call the plumber. You didn’t call the electrician. As a matter of fact, when you were a farm boy, there was no electrician, you were still living with oil lamps, and he didn’t learn electricity until he came to San Francisco, to Marin County, probably, and became a homeowner and had to learn electricity. But when he was doing those things, he did it in the way a farm person would. You’d do it yourself, get your friends to help you, or your parents and get it done. So that’s the kind of guy he was.
He was, as you know, a pretty strict Methodist, that’s the way he was brought up. Said his prayers and sang the hymns. Years later he knew all the words to every hymn that I ever heard – most of them I didn’t hear either.”
I will share more of my father’s stories about his family in the coming months.
 I believe this to be Robert L. Williamson, son of Richard and Adna Williamson. The Williamson family was enumerated two households after the Kircher family in the 1930 US Federal census at Year: 1930; Census Place: Sausalito, Marin, California; Roll: 177; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0044; Image: 352.0; FHL microfilm: 2339912
 Charlie Kircher was my father’s father, Charles Arthur Kircher, born in Webster, Monroe, New York in 1879 to Charles Conrad Kircher and Frances Abelone Springer.
 Irving Henry Kircher (1882-1974), Helen Louisa Kircher (1888-1970) and Stella Mae Kircher (1889-1958)
 I have Charlie’s diplomas and he graduated in 1897 from Webster Union High School, and from Dartmouth in 1902
 Out of curiosity on 27 February 2016 I looked on the 1900 census for an Emma Hahn in Hanover, Grafton, New Hampshire. I could not find any Emma Hahn. I could not find anyone by the name of Hahn that seemed to fit, living in Hanover. I did find an Emma Barnes who was a 42 year old widow in 1900 and ran a boarding house (Year: 1900; Census Place: Hanover, Grafton, New Hampshire; Roll: 946; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 0060; FHL microfilm: 1240946) and also ran a boarding house in 1910 (Year: 1910; Census Place: Hanover, Grafton, New Hampshire; Roll: T624_861; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0087; FHL microfilm: 1374874) so perhaps my father was mistaken in his memory that her name was Emma Hahn.
 Mary Frances Kircher was my father’s oldest sister, born in 1909.
County record for things like deeds, probate records and others often have the surnames somehow indexed to make it easier to find them. Rarely are these indexes a straight alphabetical sorting, however. When you begin to research in a particular record set in a particular location, spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with how the index works. Those few minutes will save you time in the long run. This rule applies whether you are searching an actual roll of microfilm at a family history center or browsing the digitized images of these records on FamilySearch.org.
A case in point involves the deed indexes for Erie County, New York. Many of these records have been digitized by FamilySearch.org. They are not necessarily searchable, but they are browsable. I was recently looking for a deed in which James Lawson purchased some property in Buffalo, Erie, NY. Erie County uses the Graves Tabular Initial Indexes for its land records. These tables classify surnames by the first three letters. In my case I was looking for LAW for Lawson. As the image below shows, I use the table for “L”. I find the second letter, “A” under the bold “L”, and then follow across until I see “W.” In the “A” line under the “W” is the number 466. I will find all entries for Lawson on page 466. If I were looking for Lewis, those entries would be on page 468.
I then need to scroll forward to find page 466 for my Lawson entries. There may be multiple pages numbered 466, depending on how many Lawson, Lawrence, Lawlor, etc. transactions there are for the time frame covered by the index. Once you find page 466 in the grantee index, you can see there are 6 columns representing the first letter of the grantee’s given name. ABCD appear in one column, EFGH in another. It’s a simple matter to scan down the IJKL column until I see a J and then look to the right to see if that is a transaction for James Lawson. If there is a transaction for James, I write down the Liber (Book) and Page numbers. It is an easy matter then to find the Deeds Volume for the Liber number shown on the index, and then find the right page and, voila! there’s the deed I want.
I have found that in a particular set of indexes, the tables hold constant across the years and between grantor/grantee. If I find that Lawson will be found in the index on page 466 for Grantees in Erie County in 1885, Lawson will also be found on Grantors in 1840 in the same set of land records. I don’t need to look it up every time. Here’s a tip – if you have a lot of a particular surname in an area, make note of their page number for the index. You won’t have to look it up every time you’re working on deed research. One more tip – sometimes the index tables cover several letters – J,K,L&M. The microfilm, or digitized film might be A-K and L-Z, so to find your table for L, you might have to go to the start of the J’s. And if you can’t find for your year in the grantee index, look for the table for a different year or in the grantor index – because the tables work across time and grantor/grantee, it will still work.
There are several other types of indexes besides the Graves Tabular Initial Index. I will cover others in upcoming Technique Tuesdays blog posts.
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.