Friday, August 21, 2009

Famous Fridays - Jesse and Frank James

Jesse James and Frank James
American Outlaws

The James brothers, members of the infamous James-Younger Gang, are my 9th cousins 4 times removed on my father's side (via the Beasley family). It is possible that some of my Missouri relatives were knew the James brothers, perhaps from the other end of their guns. The James-Younger Gang was known for terrorizing the area of Missouri where my family lived.
My wife's family has a story that her great-grandfather, a very secretive man whose origins are unknown, was once a member of the James-Younger gang. If he was, it was under a completely different name, which I suppose is not that unlikely. Still, I doubt this story is true.

Likelihood of relationship: 50%

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ancestor Spotlight - Engle Backer (1806-1890)

Johannes Engleberth Becker, called Engle, is my G-G-G-Great Grandfather on my father's side. He was born on January 27, 1806 in the village of Burbach in Germany. Engle was one of three brothers that emigrated to the United States in 1854 (though despite knowing the names of over 30 people who traveled together, I have yet to find a record of their ship). All three settled in Callaway county, Missouri. Engle and his brother Phillip, who owned adjoining farms, were both farmers. Their third brother, John Henry, lived in Fulton. Upon arrival, the family changed the spelling of their name from Becker to Backer (either spelling is supposed to be pronounced "Baker").

Engle was first married on Dec 30, 1830 to Katherine Sophie Sauer, at the Lutheran Church in Burbach, Germany. The couple had six children: Christian, Sohpia Landman, Katherine Frank, William, Leonard, and Henrich. In 1843, Engle's wife Katherine died in childbirth with Henrich, who also died. Engle then remarried Dec 24, 1843 to Juliann Hild in Burbach. Engle and Juliann had nine children, six of whom lived to adulthood. Of these children four were born in Burbach: Henriette Charlotte Bury, Charlotte Hagebusch, Henry and Charles Backer. Two more were born in Missouri: Louis Backer and Matilda Brooks.

Engle lived in Callaway county, Missouri from 1854 until about 1877. During this time he and his family were members of the Presbyterian Church in Fulton. Between 1876 and 1880 Engle moved his family to Washington, Missouri, in Franklin county. His wife Juliann died in 1885. Engle remained in Washington until his death on Jan 27, 1890 of pneumonia. He died on his birthday and was exactly 84 years old. He was survived by 11 children.

Below is a copy of the Fulton Sun from Jan 28, 1890, recording the death of Engle Backer. Right click and select zoom in to read the text. His obituary is at the bottom of the middle column.

Engle Backer Obituary

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Famous Fridays - Barack Obama

Barack Obama
44th President of the United States
Barack Obama is my 12th Cousin on my father's side (via the Beasley family) and is my wife's 8th cousin on her father's side (via the Roberts family). My common ancestor is Robert Brasseur born in France, died about 1665 in Maryland. My wife's connection is a few generations closer, through Jacob Duvall, born 1715, died 1796 in Maryland.

Likelihood of relationship: 50% for me, 70% for my wife.

If you would like to learn more about our president's heritage, click here. That site contains a really great presentation on the genealogy of President Obama. My wife and I both connect to him through the Brasseur/Duvall line in his tree, which is shown on the far middle-left. The tree contains many interesting stories about his relatives and even contains a bit of genealogy for his Kenyan heritage. It also explains how President Obama is related to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Harry Truman, among others.

Jacob Frank, 1833-1909

Today is the first in a series of obituary postings I plan to make. The county libraries in Fulton and St. Louis, Missouri have indexes for local obituaries going back to the late 19th century that make it very easy to find multiple obituaries for relatives. The St. Louis library has their obituary index online here. Both libraries charge only a nominal fee to locate and mail copies of the obituaries to you. If you have any relatives who lived in these areas (regardless of where they died) then you should check with these libraries as obituaries are one of the best pieces of genealogical evidence available.

My first profile is for my G-G-Great-Grandfather Jacob Frank. The Fulton library had two obituaries and a burial notice for Jacob Frank. These obituaries provided a great deal of information and I was happy to see most of my theories in my prior post on the Frank family were correct.

Jacob Frank was born in Hammelburg, Bavaria on April 19, 1833. He emigrated to the United States at age 17 and settled in Fulton, Missouri at age 19 (about 1852). In 1857 he married Katherine Backer, the daughter of a recent Prussian immigrant.

Jacob worked as a coal miner from 1852 until 1891, when he retired and became a gardener. He had a house on Market St. in Fulton with a small plot of land in the back with a garden from which he sold produce to other residents of the city. Oddly, neither obituary mentions his service in the civil war. He served for about three years in the Missouri 9th Calvary Regiment State Militia Volunteers. Perhaps this was omitted because much of his service during the war was dedicated to combatting Confederate sympathizers in the Fulton area.

Jacob was a member of the Fulton First Presbyterian Church. His obituary from the Fulton Journal describes him as a very holy and honorable man:
He was faithful in filling as his obligations to his fellow man and to his God. His one ambition in life was to deal justly and fairly with all men and in this he was remarkably successful. He was a man of generous heart and sought to be helpful to those about him. Mr. Frank was a consistent and faithful member of the Presbyterian Church and lived a truly Christian life in both his public and private affairs. It can be truly said of Mr. Frank that he was a faithful servant to his God, his country and his home. For none truer or more faithful and useful men have come and gone in this life than our departed friend and neighbor.
Jacob Frank died at his home in Fulton on Wednesday, May 12th, 1909 at 9:30 a.m. of a heart attack. He was preceded in death by one son, Albert Jacob Frank of Fulton (I will post his obituaries later) and one daughter, Lottie Kester, wife of August, also of Fulton. He was survived by his wife, Katherine, and seven children. He left three sons: Charles, Henry and William Frank, all of Fulton, and four daughters: Matilda Langenbach, wife of Herman, of Marion, Ill., Julia Egerer, wife of Adolph, of Mexico, Mo., Bertha Lockridge, wife of James, of Fulton, and Mary Fitzhugh, wife of George, also of Fulton.

Below are Jacob's obituaries from the Fulton Telegraph and Fulton Journal, and a burial notice. You can right click on the obituaries to zoom in if you would like to read the text better.

Jacob Frank Obituaries

Monday, August 10, 2009

Frank Family Reunion

Late summer seems to be the choice time for a family reunion. I have three between now and October. This last weekend was the Frank family reunion in O'Fallon, Missouri. Next weekend is the Roberts family reunion in Owensboro, Kentucky. Then in early October is the Dickson family reunion in Tebbetts, Missouri. I have been busy preparing information to share at each reunion, and I hope to come back from all three with lots of new information.

The Frank reunion was a lot of fun. The Frank family is very small, and the reunion was just the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of my grandma and grandpa Frank. We used to all get together for Chirstmas and Thanksgiving, but now many of us live in other states and have conflicting schedules for which holidays are with which families. The summertime reunion is a great way for me to keep in touch with all my cousins.

Below are some pictures from the Frank Family reunion at my Aunt Zoe and Uncle Dave's house in O'Fallon, Missouri. This reunion also served as the 90th birthday for my grandpa, Forrest F. Frank Jr. His birthday isn't until the end of the month, but we celebrated early because that was when everyone could get together. We also used the reunion as a time to remember my grandma, who passed away last year. My mother brought all my grandma's jewelry to the party and the grandkids all went through picking out items. As you can see, there was a lot of jewelry. It was really fun to see all that jewelry spread across the table and to remember some of the huge earrings, bracelets and necklaces that she was so fond of.

Click on the photo slideshows to go directly to the albums and see more detailed descriptions.

While I was there, I also took some photos of old family photographs. These include photos of my 90-year-old grandpa as a young boy in a sailor suit, him as a young man going off to World War II, his mother and father, and a few very old and priceless photographs from the Dickson family.

Finally, on my way out of town I stopped by St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery to take photos of the grave of my mother's great-grandfather. I recently learned that the Archdiocese of St. Louis has records of all their cemeteries online. Most of my family was not Catholic, but I searched anyway, as a few of the cemeteries were popular with non-Catholics as well. I found a listing for my great-great grandfather, John Patrick Hickey, a native of Ireland. What's more, the Archdiocese website revealed there were five related graves in the same family plot: His wife and four children who never married. Stopped by the cemetary and easily found the graves. Below are some photos of the graves.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back in Action

For the last few months my genealogy research has taken a back seat while I finished my final semester of law school and studied for and took the Bar exam (and hopefully passed it!). Now I am finally free of school obligations. I am not completely free as I now have to go from excessive studying to be a lawyer to excessive working as a lawyer. Still, I hope to squeeze in the time for a post a week on this blog.

I have a large backlog of information that I have collected over the last few months that I need to process and organize into posts. Some of my finds have been quite exciting and I really hope to get the time to post about them soon. I have contacted other researchers who gave me a wealth of information on my wife's family. I also have received a large set of obituaries for the Frank family that I hope to post soon. There have also been numerous updates to other related families in my tree. I will spotlight some of the more interesting people in these less well known parts of my tree through regular "Spotlight" posts.

It will take me a while to get a lot of this information digitized and organized enough for publication. Until then, here is a status update on the various families of interest in my research:

Frank (my father's family): I have obtained numerous obituaries for my earliest Frank ancestors. These included the obituary of my earliest known Frank ancestor, Jacob Frank. His obituary (actually, several obituaries in various local papers) confirm many of my theories about him, including his town of origin and his occupations.

Sullivan (my mother's family): My mother has provided me her family photo album which contains a wonderful collection of old family photographs of ancestors going back to the Civil War. I am currently scanning these photographs when I have free time. Unfortunately, most all of the photographs are unlabled. I am trying to identify as many photographs as I can. I am hopeful this will help me identify some current Sullivan relations.

Dickson (my paternal grandmother's family): I have begun writing the story of this family for a blog post. I have one major missing link in this family that I am trying to resolve first. I was hopeful to answer some questions about this family when I took a recent trip to Raleigh, North Carolina for a wedding. Raleigh is home to the State Archives, which have the old court records for all NC counties. Unfortunately, the office was closed for an extended Memorial Day holiday while I was there. I will either write to them or contact other researchers that might have the information before I post.

Roberts (my wife's father's family): I have been in contact with a few researchers who have extensive information on this family. I am also going to a Roberts Family Reunion in Owensboro Kentucky next weekend. After this I will try and post my findings.

Ebelhar (my wife's mother's family): As I have previously mentioned, I found out a great deal of information on this family. My wife's mother's families have especially interesting stories to them, including murder and other shocking deaths. I simply have too much information to sort out right now, and will need to get that done before I write some posts.

I also have updated information on several related families in Missouri, Indiana and Kentucky, including the following surnames: Beasley, Gruenewald, Hickey, Kelley, Riney, Runge, Shelton, Shields and Weber. If you are a researcher interested in any of these surnames in these areas, please contact me!