Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alfred Francis Bartel (1899-1977)

Great Grandpa Alfred F. Bartel (1899-1977)

This fisherman is the son-in-law of the Texas Longhorn Cattleman, Henry Peter Geis Sr., in the preceding post. And what follows was written by his granddaughter Carolyn Beth (Winters) Cunningham in 2008.


      When I think of Grandpa, cool composure, sense of humor, quiet vitality, and happy-go-lucky attitude comes to mind.  Some of my fondest memories include fishing, Santa suits, Hopalong Cassidy, decks of cards, and checkers.
      Grandpa had me digging worms as soon as I could walk, and fishing, not fish, was one of my first words.  Before I entered kindergarten, I could bait my own hook, and had my own stringer and pole.  When the boys came along, he taught my sons to fish while still in training pants.

      As a child, I was pretty ornery.  Mother used to say “I hope you grow up and have kids just as ornery as you!”  I did, but that’s another story.  Throughout my childhood years, if we were visiting, or living close to my grandparents during the holidays, Grandpa made sure I was visited by Santa.  Santa would peek in the window, rap on the glass, turn his head slowly from side to side, and shake his finger at me.  I was good-as-gold for a couple of days!  Sometimes Santa would pop in three or four times between Thanksgiving and Christmas, depending on how I was behaving.  It was a mystery to me how Santa always knew when I’d been naughty!  I had no idea Mother had him on speed-dial!

      Before I started school, I could print my own name thanks to Mother, and I knew my numbers thanks to Grandpa   ---and a deck of cards.  My grandparents belonged to a pinochle club.  Four couples would get together and play on Saturday nights which, coincidentally, was also the night my grandparents were usually babysitting me.  At the end of each hand, partners would rotate so by the time the evening was over and the scores tallied, someone would emerge as the grand champ for the night. Grandpa was a gamesman, a card-shark, and almost always won.  And none of them ever suspected the cute little girl with Shirley Temple curls was giving him signals.  Players would pat me on the head, give me a cookie or celery stick, and I’d let Grandpa know which suit they were strongest in, how many marriages they had, and where both jacks of diamonds were!  After sixty-some years, I still remember those signals.

      In 1948 I turned four and fell madly in love with Hopalong Cassidy.  We had a small seven-inch screen T.V. and I’d watch the test pattern for fifteen minutes waiting for Hoppy to appear.  In 1950, for my sixth birthday, Grandpa sent me a one-hundred percent, genuine Hoppy outfit complete with holster and six-shooter; Dad took me to Big Bear Lake to watch Hoppy make a movie.  I was in tall cotton!  The following year, we spent the holidays in Kansas with my grandparents and, naturally, I wore my Hoppy suit most of the time.  That’s when Grandpa started calling me Hipalong Catastrophe, which he eventually shortened to just Hipalong.  Throughout the years, the nickname became a private term of endearment between us, and Grandpa could always brighten my day with a “Hey, Hipalong, how ya doin’!”

      In later years, my grandparents lived across the street from the fire station.  After Grandpa retired, he spent many an afternoon telling stories and playing checkers with the fire fighters.  They played for a quarter a game, and Grandpa usually came home with a smile on his face and the jingle of money in his pocket.  They called him “Champ” and he referred to them as “the boys.”

      The last year of his life, Grandpa was confined to a hospital bed at home.  During that time, I got to know the boys real well, too.  They’d waltz across the street to visit with the Champ or see if there was anything they could do for Grandma.  That year the yard never needed mowing and the Impala got exceptional gas mileage ---the tank was always full.  I’m sure the firehouse boys were responsible for both.

      The day after Grandpa passed away, I had just finished picking out his burial clothes and was sitting on the front steps trying to summon the strength to take them to the funeral home and pick out his casket ---one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  I was holding a cup of coffee between my hands, tears in my eyes, when two firemen came up the walk.

      I don’t remember their names, but they sat down beside me, one on each side.  One put his arm across my shoulders, gave me a squeeze, and said “Hey, Hipalong, how ya doin’?”  I lost it!  The other took the cup from my hands and replaced it with a small pull-string bag.

      When I finally got myself together again, they asked me to open the bag.  Inside were a very small checker board, tiny black and red checkers, and a couple of quarters.  They asked me to place them in the Champs casket; maybe he and St. Peter could get a game goin’ in the hereafter.  They didn’t think Grandma would approve, but they knew I would.  I thanked them, promised it would be done, and that it would remain our secret.

      Later that morning I picked out the casket and that evening, as I said a private good-bye to my old fishin’ buddy, I added a miniature deck of cards to the bag and slipped it inside.  In my heart, I knew Grandpa was smiling and giving a thumbs-up to Hipalong and the boys.  The Champ was ready to rock ‘n roll!

Henry Peter Geis Sr. (1854-1927)

Henry Peter Geis Sr. (1854-1927)

One of my Great-Great-Grandpa's Texas Longhorns


      Great-grandpa was a tough rugged man. He had to be, given the times and circumstances in which he lived. He had homesteaded near Durham, Kansas, along the Cottonwood River, and had acquired not just a few acres of land but, rather, sections of land.

He and Grandma had eleven children, and grew or made most everything they needed except things like material, coffee and sugar. Those they purchased in town. They had their own flour, soap, lard, milk, cider, wine, jam, jellies, bacon, steaks, chops, eggs, pickles, honey, apple-butter, home made noodles, down bedding, and leather articles of clothing and gear ---among other things. They raised eight girls, three boys, their own fruits and vegetables, bees, chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, hogs, horses, sheep, and cattle. They also did a heap of hunting and trapping. No one was idle! No one ever went hungry!

Every fall, Grandpa would hire a dozen or so local cowboys, along with their horses, ride to Texas, purchase a herd of longhorns, and drive the herd back to Durham. Keep in mind, these longhorns were wild, extremely dangerous, and you couldn’t pack as many into a cattle car as you could short-horned cattle. My Grandmother, who had as one of her chores herding these brutes, said the last thing you ever wanted to do was get off your horse ---you’d be trampled to death or gored in a New York minute! The longhorns would be fattened over the winter and spring, and then taken to market in Kansas City. In the early days, the cattle were herded to market, but after the railroad was established, they were taken by train. 

Taking a herd of cattle to market was quite an operation, even by train. Grandpa would hire extra hands, along with their horses, to help herd and load them into cattle cars. A process that took several days. Enroute to Kansas City, the train was halted, at least once, preferably twice, the cattle released, the cars cleaned, the cattle exercised and reloaded. The trip took several days and hours of hard, dirty, dangerous work. Once in Kansas City, the herd was sold, the crew paid, and Grandpa and the men, along with their horses, would head back home on the next available train. Upon reaching home, they would be met by most of the townsfolk, Grandpa would give a short speech, and then all would retire to the park for fried chicken and German potato salad. Kind of like a big family reunion!

It was on one such trip that Grandpa ran into a bit of trouble. There was a new fellow at the controls of this particular train and he, obviously, had no intention of stopping for the required exercising of cattle and horses.

Grandpa, along with the rest of the men, was riding in the caboose. No one knew quite what to do ---except Grandpa. He loaded his six-gun, strapped on his gun-belt and holster, and proceeded to the engine ---across the tops of the cattle cars! Once inside the engine, Grandpa had a come-to-Jesus meeting with the new engineer, while holding the business end of his six-shooter against the feller’s left ear. Naturally, given his choices, the engineer stopped the train! The horses and cattle were off-loaded, exercised, and reloaded. Grandpa was a happy camper!

After that, all went fairly well. They arrived in Kansas City, the herd was sold, and the men paid. By this time, however, Grandpa was feeling, and looking, pretty grungy. He was also in a hurry to catch the next train home, but he wanted to look good for the celebration, especially his annual speech. He stopped in at a little clothing store close to the stockyards, and asked the proprietor to package up a new shirt, pants and a pair of socks ---his old boots, hat, chaps, and longjohns would do just fine.

Once the men and horses were gathered and on board, Grandpa could relax. Although they were on a faster train goinghome, it still took a couple of days. Beings there weren’t any women on board, Grandpa decided to get comfy and lounge around in his long underwear until they got closer to home. Most of the other men did likewise. They were just south of Kansas City, when Grandpa took off his dirty clothes, decided they were definitely a lost cause, tossed them out a window, washed up, and took a nap.

Everything was going smoothly ---until they were about thirty minutes from Durham. That’s when Grandpa decided it was time to get dressed and ready for his speech. He opened up his package of new clothes. They were all there ---new shirt, new pants, and new socks. The only trouble was they were about the size for an eight-year old kid! The proprietor of that little clothing store was damn lucky Grandpa was so far from Kansas City ‘cause his kinfolk would have been pickin’ out his casket! Nobody said a word! They didn’t dare! The silence was so thick you could cut it with a knife!

As usual, the train was met by most of the townsfolk, including Grandma! And, regardless of what others said, she thought Grandpa looked pretty handsome ---in his hat, his boots, his gun-belt and holster, his six-shooter, his chaps, and his bright red longjohns! 

NOTE: The following year, I’m told, Grandpa went huntin’ that store owner in Kansas City. Lucky for Grandma and the kids the store had been shut down and sold, and the previous owner was no where to be found. Some said word had filtered back regarding one hell of a mad German who was lookin’ to slit a certain shopkeeper’s throat! We’ll never know, but from that day on, Grandpa always packed his own spare clothes!

Written by: Carolyn Beth (Winters) Cunningham - 2008


Obituary for Henry Peter Geis
23 May 1854 - 6 July 1927

Geis - Bruder Peter Geis wurde am 23 mai 1854 in alt-messer, russland, geboren. Als jüngling hatte er sich im 20. Lebensjahr zu Gott bekehrt und wurde auf das bekenntnis seines Glaubensin Jesu Tod getauft. 1875 kam er mit seinen lieben Eltern nach Amerika; guerst nach Pettisville, Ohio. Nach kurzem Verweilen in Ohio zog er nach Kansas, 4 meilen westlich von Hillsboro.

Nach sieben Jahren zog er in die Nähe von Durham, wo er bis zu seinem abscheiden weilte. Am 22 Juni 1883 trot er mit schwester Anna Elisabeth Simon in den heiligen Ehebund. Der Herr segnete die ehe mit 11 kindern, 3 Söhnen und 8 töchtern. Eine Tochter mit Namen Sarah, ging dem Vater im 33. Lebensjahre voraus . Am 29 juni 1927 morgens beim  Aufstehen wurde Bruder Peter Geis vom Schlag getrossen wodurch er sprachlos und an der rechten Seite gelähmt wurde. Einige Tage schien es, als ob sich seine Lage bessern wollte, doch am 5 juli nachts bekam er einen zweiten schlaganfall, woraus er am 6. juli im glauben an den Herrn Jesus als seinen persönlichen Heiland entschlief. Er hinterlast seine tiefbetrübte Gattin, 10 kinder, eine leibliche Schwester, M. K. Hutchinson von Flint, Michigan, 5 Schwiegersohne, 1 Schwiegertochter, 5 Groskinder, 8 cousinen und viele Freunde, die sein so plötzliches Abscheiden betrauern.

Bruder P. Geis war einer der Gründer dieser Gemeinde.  Obwohl er in den letzten Jahren kein  aktives Glied war, so nahm er doch regen Anteil an der Besprechung in der Sonntagsschule. Am vorlesten Sonntag Morgen war er noch in der Versammlung und ahnte nicht, dass es das letzten Mal gewesen sei. Bruder Geis erreichte ein alter von 73 Jahren, 1 Monat und 13 Tagen. Das er sehr weit und breit bekannt war, bewies die grose Teilnahme von besuchern von nah und fern. Unsere Kirche war piel zu klein, um alle den Anwesenden Platz zu bieten. Bei der Leichenfeier redete Pros. E.H. Heibert vom Tabor College Hillsboro in der englischen Sprache und unser Nachbarprediger, Bruder Arbeiter, und Unterzeichneter in der deutschen Sprache Worte des Trostes. Möge der Herr alles Trostes unsere Schwester Geis samt ihren Kindern trösten mit vem guten Trost des Wiedersehens durch Jesus Christus.


Obituary for Geis, Henry Peter

Geis - brother Peter Geis was born on 23 May 1854 in Alt-Messer, Russia. As a youth, in his 20th year of life, he came to an understanding of Jesus death and was converted and baptized. With his loving parents he came to America in 1875, first to Pettisville, Ohio.  After a short lingering in Ohio, he moved 4 miles west of Hillsboro, Kansas.  Seven years later he separated and moved into the vicinity of Durham.

On 22 June 1883 he stepped with sister, Anna Elisabeth Simon into the holy marriage alliance.  They were blessed with 11 children, 3 sons and 8 daughters.  A daughter named Sarah, preceded her father in death in her 33rd year of life. 

When he rose, on the morning of 29 June 1927, brother Peter Geis encountered a blow by which he became speechless and paralyzed on the right side.  Just when it seemed he would be improved, on the evening of 5. July he had a second stroke, wherefrom he passed away believing in his personal savior on 6. July.  He leaves behind to mourn his sudden death his wife, 10 children, a bodily sister, M. K. Hutchinson of Flint, Michigan, 5 sons-in-law, 1 daughter-in-law, 5 grandchildren, 8 cousins and many friends. 

Brother Peter Geis was one of the founders of this community/congregation. Although he was in the last years no active limb, he joyfully participated in Sunday School discussions.  When he read at the Sunday morning meeting no one suspected that it would be the last time.  Brother Geis reached the age of 73 years, 1 month and 13 days.  A great many visitors came from near and far to participate for he was well known.  Our present church was too small to offer all a place. Professor E. H. Hiebert of the Hillsboro Tabor College spoke at the funeral celebration in the English language while our neighborhood preacher Brother Arbeiter, signed in the German language words of comfort that through Jesus Christ Sister Geis and children would have their reunion. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Organizing Genealogy and Family History Documents, Records, Papers, Etc.


Hanging File Folder Tote

4 Different Colors of Hanging Folders

Manila File Folders

File Folder Labels

Black Writing Pen

Hilighters to Match Colored Hanging File Folders



Have a pedigree chart handy, either on paper or a computer near by.

Color Coded Pedigree

Green - Your Paternal Grandfather's Line
Red - Your Paternal Grandmother's Line

PURPLE - Your Maternal Grandfather's Line
Yellow - Your Maternal Grandmother's Line

This is a red file. According to the color coded pedigree above this would be Your Paternal Grandmother's Line. The tabs are based on surnames within that line. I like to place mine alphabetically, but you do what's best for you.

The manila folders holds individual families within the surname. These files would go into the "Vallance" folder and be arranged from youngest to oldest. Vallance, John  b. 1833 was married first to Wright, Almeda. Note the "M1".

Vallance, John  b. 1833 was married second to Burns, Julia  b. 1853. Note the M2. Include as much of the birth date as you know. This is especially important when a folder holds multiple men with the same first name.

Here is an example of a complete birth date written out. This file holds information on Wiggins, John  b. 29 Jan 1741. Married to Guy, Elizabeth,  b. unknown. In this file you will find paper work relating to this family. You might wonder where information on Guy, Elizabeth is found as a child. She is found in a red folder with surname label GUY. As a child, up until she marries, her information is found in the manila folder bearing her father's name, her mother written below his. Women are always found with father or husband.

You see here that the red folder, labeled Wiggins, holds many files. All men in this hanging file have the last name Wiggins and are direct descendants. 




1. Sometimes you have papers that relate to a line and not any one particular individual in that line. You may just need to add another manila folder with a description and put it behind the named files. You may need to create another hanging folder, the appropriate color, and label the tab with the surname and contents --- like "Wiggins - Unknown". In a file such as this you may choose to have several manila folders for different unknown Wiggins families or individuals.

2. Don't let your folders and files get cluttered. Periodically you may need to go through and get rid of the clutter.

3. It's helpful to create a master list and/or log in each surname hanging folder. A quick reference as to where you've searched and where you would like to search, along with findings. 

4. You may also choose to keep some kind of contact list or folder for each surname. A list of cousins or helpful people, addresses, email and/or phone numbers. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sandy (Susie) Gemmer (Klein) {Adopted within the family}

Thought I'd share an interesting piece of family history. This photo is of Henry "Hank" Klein and wife Lila Faye Lemmon. The cute little darling with them is their adopted daughter Susie. Doesn't she 'look' like part of the family? Well, that's because she is. Her biological parents are Beverly Van Houten and Edson Gemmer. Her biological grandmother is Martha Klein, Hank's sister.

Thank you to my Grandmother Dorothy Wolter Morris for filling in the blanks on this mystery. Where would we all be without the sharing of knowledge?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The letter ł

This page is taken from the Polish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States.  It is a presentation of the first 13 manuscript volumes of a larger collection of 111 volumes compiled in Poland in 1926 and delivered to President Calvin Coolidge at the White House to honor the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Richly illustrated with original works by prominent Polish graphic artists, the collection includes the greetings and signatures of national, provincial, and local government officials, representatives of religious, social, business, academic, and military institutions, and approximately 5 ½ million school children. This searchable online presentation is a complete facsimile of the six oversized presentation volumes and the seven volumes of secondary school signatures. If you click on the page you will see listed:

Merłowicz M.

I also found this...

Merłowicz - w grupie nazwisk pochodzących od podstawy marl-, marł-, por. z-marły, marlić się ‘dostawać zmarszczek’. 

Merłowicz - in the group of surnames from the basis of marl, mar-, por-z-marły, marry 'get wrinkles'.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

John Merłowicz, Isidora Swojbocan and baby daughter Clara

Thank you Cousin Pam Rogers for providing me with this photo of our Great Grandparents John Merłowicz and Isidora Swojbocan. John is holding Eleanor, their granddaughter and Cousin Pam's mother. When I saw it I thought, "Where have I seen them before?" I just couldn't place it, but they looked so familiar. I thought really hard for a minute or two, then burst out laughing, "Of course they look familiar; of course I've seen them before, just not here. Oh, how I love my ancestors!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vallance Obits from WCOGS

Let me just sing some praises to the Wood County Chapter The Ohio Genealogical Society (WCOGS). These volunteers provided me a service that I will forever be in their debt for. Never before I have I sent away for genealogical information, but what a blessing to obtain records of relatives, even if they didn't necessarily tell me what I had hoped they would. Roll Call:


Wood County Sentinel
20 May 1869

Mr. James Valens, Sr. should read Mr. James Vallance, Sr.