Local News Column 1890

I like reading obituaries for their information and often for their wording.  How many ways can you say someone has died?  This was not meant to be an obituary, it was just in the local news column, but the wording is not what we would use today.

“The aged wife of Mr. Thomas Duncan who has been with her son, Dr. Duncan at LaMoille, had a stroke of apoplexy recently, but the Gazette reports her as improving.  Dr. F. Duncan, formerly of this city, is one of her sons.
Since writing the above we learn that the old lady died.”

Mrs. Duncan is Eliza Cation Duncan.  She died 9 Dec 1890.  LaMoille is in Illinois and was the home of Dr. James C. Duncan.



Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher, son of John and Martha Gallagher, was the second husband of Cassie Ann Rosenberry, my great great grandmother.  Her first husband was Orson Patchen (Patchin) with whom she had two children, Edgar and Nettie.  Nettie (Annette MaryJane Patchen) was my great grandmother.  Orson Patchen died in the Civil War.  Cassie then married Michael Gallagher.  They had no children.  Michael also died in the war and Cassie applied for his widow’s pension.  These are some of the forms from that file.

Civil War pension files can have wonderful information in them.  In this one, it lists parents’ names, verifies the marriage, and indicates no children.  The best tip I learned about getting the file was to request the entire file to be copied.  Otherwise someone is going to choose which pages you get.  Disclaimer:  I got these files many years ago, so the procedure might have changed.

As Michael’s widow, she did get a pension of $8.00 per month.
These are the proofs offered in her claim.
This page has great information on it – parents, dates, marriage!
And more info here.
My favorite part is seeing her signature on the sheet above.


Duncan English Smith & Byington

Sounds like a law firm, but it’s just more photos from these families.  Previous photos here.

Samuel English, father of Lyman and Frank English. Frank is seated and his brother is standing.

Mamie English and Allen Smith

Allen & Mamie Smith with their sons, Myron English and Harold Allen

Belle English and John Byington.

Front: Harriet Byington and Eliza Duncan English. Back: Belle English and John Byington.

Eliza Duncan & Frank English Family

Eliza Duncan is the daughter of our immigrant ancestors, Eliza Cation and Thomas Duncan.  She married Dr. Frank English.  They had two daughters, Mamie and Belle.  Mamie married Allen Newcomb Smith (two sons: Myron English and Harold Allen).  Belle married John Edward Byington (no children).  Myron provided these photos.  Part of his story is here.  The family lived in the Dixon, Illinois area.

Eliza Duncan English

Dr. Frank English

Frank, Eliza, Mamie, and Belle English.

Mamie and Belle English

Mamie and Belle English

Mamie English

Thomas Duncan Obituary

Thomas Duncan was our Duncan immigrant ancestor.  More of his story is here.  This is his obituary from The Palmyra Enterprise (Wisconsin).  My favorite part is the mention of being the head of the Duncan family in the US and how this is now transferred to his brother William.

Thomas L. Duncan Interview

These are notes Mom kept from a talk with her father, Thomas LeRoy Duncan, on December 7, 1981.

It was 1907 and 08 that I was in California. It was on the Lucky Baldwin Ranch. Dr. Cooke was President of Northern Illinois (University). His son came out to the observatory.

(You liked it out there, didn’t you?)

Oh yes, I always thought we’d move there someday. After that I went to work for the Steel Company. I was 19. We lived across the street. There was a church on the corner. That was at 4th and Locust. Mr. Payton taught me all the departments and the billing and payroll. We lived across from the forestation and I spent lots of time there. They had two fire wagons – horse-drawn. They kept them inside and the men slept upstairs. There was a pole down. One day I slid down with one hand and hit the big rubber platform below. Just that minute Mr. Murray walked in the door. He was the fire chief. He said, “Don’t you ever do that again” and I didn’t.

(This photo is of T. L. Duncan (r) and his half-brother Clifford (l) sorting oranges in Alhambra in 1909.  Lucky Baldwin owned most of what is now Alhambra and Temple City, including the Santa Anita racetrack area.  This photo might be from the ranch.)

Virgo Descending

The rewards of blogging continue. I wrote my first post about Thomas Duncan, author of Gus the Great, over six years ago. Then about 2014 Robert Barron contacted me – he had read “The Sky and Tomorrow” and never forgot it. Read his story here. Last year a reader who liked circuses wrote to me about “Gus the Great” – a fine circus novel. Recently I heard from Mike, a man in the UK who just found my blog. He told me he bought another Duncan book, “Virgo Descending,” in the 1960s and had just re-read it. Still found it to be powerful.
I had not read Virgo Descending so I ordered a collectible copy online. It was nice to see Duncan’s inscription to a woman at 20th Century Fox. I like seeing someone’s handwriting and signature.
The story’s main characters are Pete McCabe, a writer, and Solveig Skovgaard, an ambitious young woman. Part of it takes place in Santa Fe, New Mexico – I like that. In the author’s notes he specifically says he is not McCabe. But I have to think some of his attitudes show through. If so, I think I would like to have know Thomas Duncan. In this story, he writes about literary integrity and romantic integrity. His male, female, white, and brown characters are well developed, not stereotypes.

I can imagine a gathering of Thomas Duncan with Robert to discuss “The Sky and Tomorrow” and the circus historian to discuss “Gus the Great” and Mike to talk with him about “Virgo Descending.” And I get to be there too. Want to join us?


Daniel Pierce (1814 – 1902)

I’m reblogging this from my AlwaysBackroads blog. I posted many family stories there before I started this blog. They belong here.

Always Backroads

In my grandfather’s 1902 diary on April 27th he wrote about the death of “Grandpa Pierce” – this was Daniel Pierce, actually my grandfather’s great-grandfather.  Below is a transcript of his lengthy obituary.  My copy doesn’t give a source, but I would guess it was from the Sycamore, Illinois newspaper.

Head of Sycamore Banking House
Passed Away Sunday
Had Nearly Reached the age of Eighty-
eight Years – Was Taken Sick with
Pneumonia Last Wednesday —
Lived an Active Life

   Daniel Pierce died Sunday evening at the home of his daughter, Mrs. E. P. Townsend, at 8:45.  He had been sick since last Wednesday.  Mr. Pierce was out the previous Tuesday for the last time.  The weather then was stormy and he contracted a cold which brought on pneumonia. Complicated with acute brights disease it was seen from the first that he could not…

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Delayed Birth Certificate

Mom hit a perfect storm when it came to a birth certificate.  She was born in 1914; she went to work after high school in 1931.  And she married in 1936.  She had never needed a copy of her birth certificate.

In 1956 when all her children were in school, she wanted to get a job.  Ah, but Social Security had been established since she last worked away from home – they required a birth certificate to sign her up.

Turns out the courthouse in DeKalb, Illinois had a fire that destroyed many records.  The data wasn’t collected on a state level until 1916.

So she applied for a “Delayed Record of Birth.”  Her father, Thomas L. Duncan, provided an affidavit and her marriage record provided a second source.  She received this embossed certificate.
hdc bc 1956Along with this postcard.
hdc bc pcBut it seems that wasn’t adequate when she filed for Social Security benefits.  In the early 1970s she sent for another copy and received this one.
hdc bc 1973