Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Here are a few Halloween snapshots from my childhood. My sister and I went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood every year and my mom always made homemade costumes (she made many dresses for us over the years too!).

Here we are at ages 3 and a half and almost 2. My sister is clearly a witch, but I'm not sure what I am dressed as ... will need to check with Mom on that one!

This is the next Halloween and I love this picture of the bride and groom!

Another year later and we are now hobos! Mom sewed patches on our clothes and we had a stick with a little sack tied to the end. The final touch was some ash from the fireplace rubbed on our faces! We revived the hobo costume many times over the years!

Which Halloween costume do you remember the most??

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday's Obituary - Mary Swank

This article was on the front page of The Monessen Daily Independent on September 20, 1927.[1]  Mary Swank was my second great grandmother and had died three days earlier while visiting her daughter in Cape May, NJ. She was born Marian Burd, but also went by "Mary" and "Mary Ann". She married Charles Schwenk in 1871 and they had four children before he died in 1893. The surname Schwenk evolved over time to Schwank and finally to Swank. Mary has been a difficult person to research at times due to the variations of both her first and last names! As of now, I still cannot find a death record for her in either New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

Mary was visiting her daughter Margaret Speedy, who was living in Cape May at the time. Margaret's husband, William Arthur Speedy, had died at sea just over a year earlier (you can read about him here). I can't imagine how difficult it was for Margaret to be alone after losing both her husband and her mother in Cape May, while the rest of her family was in Pittsburgh and Monessen. Margaret eventually moved back to Monessen and lived with her sister Maine Cubbage and her family.



[1] "Mother Dead," The Monessen Daily Independent (Monessen, PA), 20 September 1927, p. 1, col. 1; digital images ( : accessed 20 August 2013).  


Monday, October 21, 2013

Amaneusis Monday - The Will of John Black

Amanuesis Monday is a daily blogging prompt from which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Amanuensis Monday is a popular ongoing series created by John Newmark at Transylvania Dutch.

Click on images for a larger view.

In the name of God I John. Black of Buffalo Township in the County of Butler + State of Pennsylvania being sick + weak in body but of sound mind memory + understanding (Praised be God for it) Considering the certainty of Death + the uncertanty time therof and to the end I may be the better prepared to leave this world whenever it pleases God to take me hence do therefore make + declare this my last will and Testament in manner following (That is to say)
First and princapaly I Commend my Soul into the hands of almighty God my Creator.
I Will + Bequeth unto my beloved Wife Margaret Black her living off of my farm during her natural life (I, E) My Son Daniel Black has according to my will ^to provide a comfortable living for her. I will and bequeth unto my Son Daniel Black Eighty two Acers of Land, that part of my farm surveyed by [?] Walker for him. And all my personal property, if he shall provid a comfortable living for my Beloved Wife and Truly pay all my [?] Debts. And pay my sons + Daughters the sum herein after mentioned, to each of them as follows
Namely to my Daughter Catharin Ann married to Daniel Hughy twenty Dollars _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
unto my Daughter Jane, married to Jacob Cubage twenty Dollars _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
unto my daughter Margaret Married to Thos Peters Twenty Dollars, to be paid within five years to each of them from my death,
I will and bequeth unto my son John Black Thirteen Acers of Land to be taken off of the Corner next to [W or Mr?] Ritchy. and that part sold by me to Thos Harbison, if he [be?] my son John move on it if not my will is that my daughter Barbary is to get it my meaning is that he

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is to have it his life time if he lives on it of not Barbary is to get it.
I will and bequeth unto my daughter Elizabeth Twenty (20) Dollars, to be paid by my son Daniel within five years,
I will and bequeth unto my Daughter Barbary one Hundred Dollars to be pay by my Son Daniel, within five years

My will is that if my son Daniel shall fail to mention my beloved Wife as above And pay my Debts, And pay as herein willd by me to my Children, Then my Executors (who and hereby appoint to see that my will is fully Complyed with) is to Rent out my farm for to make up any deficiency on his part untill all is paid, always providing sufficient of the nesessaries of life for my Beloved Wife

And I do hereby nominate Constitute + appoint Robert Harbison and G C Sedwick each of Butler County Pa Executors of this my will declareing this to be my last will + testament   In witnes [?] whereof I the said testator John Black have to this my last will + testament set my hand + Seal the Evening of the 18th day of Sept AD 1851, 
John Black
[his mark and seal]

Signed Sealed published + delivered by the said testator John.Black as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us who in his presents and at his request + in the presents of each other have subscribed our names as Witenss [?]
                                                                              Thomas Harbison [signature]      { of Buffalo Township
                                                                              William Fleming [signature]        { Butler County
                                                                                                                                 { Pennsylvania

This is the Last Will and Testament of my third great grandfather, John Black. I haven't done too much research on the Black family yet (my brother had done some work on this line many years ago). I was very happy to find this will on the FamilySearch website, since I am at least six hours from Butler County. 
It appears that John Black knew that he was near death ... "being sick + weak in body but of sound mind memory + understanding (Praised be God for it)." This will was dated 18 September 1851 and his executors filed his papers on 27 September 1851, so he died sometime during those nine days.
My second great grandmother, Barbara, is mentioned in the will (she is referred to as Barbary), as well as her siblings. The will also lists the names of Barbara's sisters' spouses. John left $20 each to Catherine Ann, Jane, Margaret and Elizabeth, but he left $100 to Barbara. I wonder why she was left so much more (especially at that time) than her sisters. I originally thought that it was because she was unmarried, but Elizabeth was unmarried too. Barbara did marry the next year in 1852, so maybe this was part of her dowry.
John left property to his sons Daniel and John, but if John was not going to use his land, we willed that Barbara was to have it. Again, I wonder why she was the only daughter that could have received land. My next step is to research the deeds to see what happened to John's land.
"Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 18 Sep 2013), Butler > Probate files 1850-1883 no B106-B250 > images 904-924 of 2881, estate of John Black.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Agnes at the Hudson River

I love this picture of my grandmother, Agnes Speck Cubbage, from my grandfather's slide collection.  The slide was marked with "Ag, Hudson River, Bear Mtn Bridge October 58". She looks like she was enjoying the view as the sun warmed her on a cool fall day.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Art's Slide Collection

"Mom, Cork, Jeff Christmas 1953"

This is one of the many images from the slide collection of my grandfather, Art Cubbage. A few years ago, I scanned all of my grandfather's slides, as well as those of my parents and my maternal grandfather. Art had just under 600 images that he took from 1953 (right as they moved into their new home in New Providence) through 1974.

While I am thankful for these wonderful images of my father's childhood and my grandparent's home and lives, I am most thankful that he labeled almost every slide. That's right, my grandfather labeled most of the slides with the name of the person, the location if it wasn't at their home, the month and the year! What a blessing! This has been so helpful as I piece together our family history. Many of the images in my posts are from his collection. Here are a few more of my favorites ...

"July 1955"
This was their home in New Providence, NJ.

"Mem & Pap, Pittsburgh, July 1954"
My grandmother Agnes' parents in their backyard on Thelma Street.

"Min's August 1959"
Art and his family were enjoying Maryland crab at his sister Minnie's house in Baltimore.

"Jeff & Cork Thanksgiving 1954"
My father and his brother, ages 13 and 10.

"Harry, Janet, Barbara, Cork June 1959"
My father and friends before their senior prom.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sentimental Sunday - Happy Birthday Mom!

My mother was born today, October 6th, in Bauschlott, Germany. This is a picture of  her around 1950 in Stein, Germany. The picture was taken while she was in school in kindergarten. When her mother (my grandmother, Elise Gegenheimer) saw the picture, she was mad that my mother wasn't wearing shoes! I always loved this picture and the story that went with it. Happy Birthday Mom!