12 May 2014

6 Generations of my Maternal Line

Top L to R:  3rd gg Margaret Dilks Robinson, 2nd gg Laura Robinson Berry, 
                   gg Hazel Berry Harris
Bottom L to R: grandmother Mary Ellen Harris Skillman, my mother, and me



Today, over at the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog, author Lorine McGinnis proudly showed off 6 generations of her maternal line.  

I am fortunate to have photos of 6 generations of my maternal line to show off as well.  

My 3rd great grandmother is MARGARET DILKS.  She was born 16 May 1839 in Pittsburgh, Alleghney County, Pennsylvania to Arthur Dilks and Margaret Bowman.  On 28 August 1855 in the same city, Margaret married David Robinson, a recent Irish immigrant.

Their daughter, my 2nd great grandmother, LAURA CORDELIA ROBINSON was born 12 June 1862 in Pittsburgh.  The family moved to Des Moines County, Iowa the next year.  David became the blacksmith in Dodgeville which is located outside Burlington.

On 19 September 1880, Laura Robinson married William Campbell Berry II.  Their daughter, my great grandmother, HAZEL BERRY was born near Burlington on 15 July 1896.  Sometime before 1900 the Berry family moved to Allen County, Kansas.

It was there that Hazel married Hillary T. Harris on 4 November 1915 in Iola, Allen County, Kansas.  They moved across the county line to Bronson, Bourbon County which is where my grandmother, MARY ELLEN HARRIS was born on 29 September 1916.  

The Harris family moved to Garnett, Anderson County where my grandmother graduated from Garnett High School in 1934.  The day after graduating, Mary Ellen and her best friend packed a bag and went to Wichita where they both became employees of Fred Harvey as "Harvey Girls."

In 1935, when my grandfather, Darrell Kenneth Skillman, graduated from Garnett High School, he went directly to Wichita and brought my grandmother back to Garnett where they were married on 4 November 1935.

Their oldest daughter is my mother who married my father and it is from that union that I am here today.  

11 May 2014

A Panel of Pros Appearing in Merced

3 Genealogists From Northern California Are Headed Out On The Road To Merced





Umm,  sorry.  The photo above was from different road trip us girlies took.  

The Real Story: 

Two colleagues and I are headed South to Merced, California next Saturday - May 17th - to the Merced County Genealogical Society to give a presentation about professional genealogists.  Who they are, How to find them and When to hire one.


Joining me will be Corey Oiesen from Santa Cruz, California.  Corey is such a talented person.  She has her research business - Genealogy Heroes,  is the editor of the California State Genealogical Alliance newsletter and is a board member of the Association of Professional Genealogists serving as their communications officer.


Janice Sellers is the third member of the panel.  Janice is from Oakland, California and writes a blog called Ancestral Discoveries.  She is vice president of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, a director on the board for the California State Genealogical Alliance and has worked at the Oakland Family History Center since 2000.

03 May 2014

A Present From Pauline - Remember Her?


It's been about two years since I last wrote about  my "Problem With Pauline."  Finally another piece of the puzzle arrived in the mail recently from the Idaho State Archives.  You should really read my previous posts.
Parts one through nine can be read HERE.

A quick recap of my "Problem With Pauline" - This is a collateral relation of mine. Pauline's father and my 3rd great grandfather are brothers. As a rule, for each person in my database, I like to locate a census record for each year they should appear in one.  Mary Pauline Sheern married George Benton Sanford on 8 October 1875 in Osage Mission, Neosho County, Kansas.  So I look for this couple in the 1880 census.  I find Dr. George B. Sanford in Kansas City, Missouri.  He is a dentist and states that he is married but no wife appears with him. Same thing in 1900, 1910 and 1920.  George Sanford died in 1928.  A search for Pauline by herself was not successful.  So I put this line on hold.  A couple of years later I found Pauline in a Neosho County history book. It said that Mrs. Pauline Sanford had died in a fire in Boise, Idaho on 13 September 1917.  

A check of the newspaper found that a woman did indeed die in a fire on that date, but the woman was named Mrs. Helen Hunt.  Curious, so I sent for a copy of the death certificate.  While I was waiting I did some research on Mrs. Helen Hunt and found that she owned a "rooming house" called the Ada House.  She also purchased prime lots of real estate in downtown Boise near the State Capitol as well as lots in areas soon to be developed just outside of the city limits.  In total over $250,000 worth of property.  So let's think about this - a single woman who owns a rooming house has cash on hand to purchase that much real estate?  She also homesteaded property 8 miles outside of Boise and it was that home that burned to the ground with her in it.  The death certificate arrives and it named the deceased as: Pauline Helen Hunt Sanford.  So this woman used two different names but she is most certainly my Pauline.  The following excerpts from a court record - a petition for divorce - explains where she has been.



15 Feb 1907
In the District Court of the third Judicial District of the State of Idaho in and for the County of Ada

Mary Pauline Sanford, Plaintiff
George Benton Sanford, Defendant

Married at Osage Mission, Kansas 8 October 1875

Last 5 years [since 1902] she has been a resident of Idaho

Defendant has treated plaintiff in a cruel and inhumane manner and in particular as follows:

1. "That plaintiff has at all times since the said marriage,demeaned herself as became a true and faithful wife yet shortly after said marriage defendant began a course of systematic persecution towards plaintiff, calling her "vile and reprehensible names" and "repeatedly threatened to cut her heart out."

2.  "That defendant continuously treated plaintiff as a servant stating to her that she shall not have anything whatever to do with the control of the home except to work according to his instructions."

3.  "That defendant continuously said that plaintiff and her relatives were not "bred and educated up to his standard and station in life."  Additionally defendant said that plaintiff's relatives were "socially and intellectually inferior" to said defendant."

4. "That in 1878, about three years after their said union, the defendant, in their home in Kansas City, Missouri caught hold of the plaintiff by her throat and threw her down upon the floor and choked, bruised and maltreated plaintiff in a most cruel, angry, vicious, rude, revengeful and brutal manner."

She must have been indisposed for some time and not able to carry our her wifely and servant duties because he again flew into a rage.

5. "Defendant shortly thereafter threatened to shoot plaintiff and applied to her the most vile, threatening, disgusting and nauseating names and threatened to cut her ears off."

6.  "That in 1883, about eight years after said marriage, the defendant informed the plaintiff that he had been criminally intimate and was carrying a course of undue intimacy in Kansas City, Missouri with Mrs. Newman, a female of Kansas City and informed plaintiff the he, the defendant, was privileged and had the right to do as he pleased."

This must have been an on again off again kind of thing because she continued to stay with him until March 1896 when after a particularly brutal beating she finally left and went to Cripple Creek, Colorado.  A little digging revealed that her brother James was living there at the time.  A few months later - in October - George went to Cripple Creek and convinced her to come home.

7.  "That on arriving back in Kansas City, the defendant again resumed his cruel system of persecution and cruel treatment towards plaintiff.  He informed plaintiff that he was on intimate relations with a female in Kansas City named Mrs. George Bradbury and further informed plaintiff that by reason of this illicit intercourse with Mrs. George Bradbury she had sustained a miscarriage and that he, the defendant, was obliged to advance a considerable sum of money to Mrs. Bradbury by reason of criminal intimacy and course of conduct.  The defendant then informed plaintiff that Mrs. Bradbury would be living in their residence and he would continue his intimacy with Mrs. Bradbury and ordered plaintiff not to interfere."

That was the last straw for Pauline.  The complaint says that she then left the home for the final time. I am not sure where she was from 1896 to 1902 when she first appears in Boise, Idaho.  My guess is that she was at home with George in Kansas City but when the enumerator showed up at the door George says he is married but does not name Pauline as living there.  Another cruel way to demean her.   
To me, this is a vivid reminder that people from 130 years ago lived their lives and had experiences that really are no different than people today.  Each generation thinks that they have invented new ways of behaving badly when the truth is human behaviour never changes .