Sunday, April 13, 2014

Newspaper Article Dates Photos

Thanks to an article in the Springfield Daily Republican on July 11, 1929, I know the approximate date the photos below were taken.  I don't usually know that.  I can guess an era or a time within a year or two, if it's not a known occasion like a wedding.

It's nice to read of a time when my great-uncle took his family to visit his two sisters Edna and Janette and his father. His brother Elmer lived on the same road, so chances are he visited him and his new wife Gwendolyn Wheeler as well.

In back Ellis H. Winchell and his father Henry F. Winchell.  In front are Ellis' five children: William, Robert, Grace, Jane and Elizabeth.

Ellis's Wife Elizabeth Starrett with daughters Grace and Elizabeth and Robert on her lap.

Ellis's sister Janette Winchell and I think this is her daughter Grace.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Results From Genealogybank

Recently I decided to buy a month's subscription for Genealogybank.  The closest free access to the site is in Pittsfield.  This is where I found the information on my great-aunt Edna and I thought I might find more.  Unexpectedly I found this funny story about my grandfather.

Kalamazoo Gazette, 22 October 1921, Kalamazoo, MI


“Stick up your hands,” was the order given to Earl Winchell, 410 East Lovell street, who was walking along Maple street about 9 o’clock Friday evening.  A man darted out of the shadows and stood in front of him in a threatening attitude.

Mr. Winchell failed to comply with the command but turned and ran, leaving the highwayman standing on the walk gazing after his intended victim’s rapidly retreating figure.

The attempted hold-up was reported at Central police station and officers accompanied Mr. Winchell to the place where he had been stopped, but no one could be found in the vicinity that answered the description of the highwayman.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Edna Winchell Wylie's Music

A descendant of  early European settlers of New England and New York, as well as of the indigenous Mohican and Wappinger people, my great-aunt Edna Winchell Wylie was already a professional musician at age 14 when her work was documented as playing the piano for the silent movies at the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington, Mass.  Her sister Janette Winchell Schwab also played the piano for the movies. 

Edna C. Winchell

Janette Winchell with her husband Albert Schwab

Edna C. Winchell with new husband George S. Wylie

In 1921 Edna married George S. Wylie who was born of Scottish parents in Dalton, Mass., in 1898.  For a while the young couple lived with George’s father in Great Barrington.  Alexander Wylie’s tailor shop stood where the post office is now at 222 Main Street.  George and Edna were members of the First Congregational Church there.  George also belonged to Cincinnatus Lodge AF & AM and the Telephone Pioneers Club.  Against social convention, Edna continued her career as a musician after marriage.  In the photo below taken in the 1920s you can just make out the wedding ring on her finger. 

The band above has been referred to by three different names:  the Modolo Brothers, the Johnny Modolo Orchestra and the Musical Aviators.  The musicians in the photo are, left to right, Alex Feldblum, Jerome Couse, Henry Baldwin, my great-aunt Edna Winchell Wylie sitting at the piano, John Modolo and Louis Modolo.

Although I was told by my family Edna had her own band, family facts have been misremembered before.  I was very pleased when my second cousin independently confirmed Edna’s band and shared two photos in support.  

Edna Wylie's Music

The Winchell family seemed to be musically inclined. Edna's nephew Roy Winchell also had his own band in Dutchess County, playing a different genre of music.  Her brother Ellis H. Winchell was a band member in another part of the country as well.  I was told my grandfather Earl Winchell liked to sing.

It may have been unusual for a woman to have her own band in the 1930s, an era when women were expected to stay at home to take care of the household while the men worked.  It has made me wonder if there has been research on women in music in the 20th century.

I recently found the newspaper excerpts below, providing an idea of the type of engagements Edna played.

Springfield Daily Republican, 27 April 1933, p. 4

Great Barrington
Mrs. George Wylie has succeeded Miss Marguerite Cook as organist at the Congregational Church.

Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA, 21 June 1936, p. 31.

Betsey Dunn Married in Season’s First Important Berkshire Bridal

Granddaughter of Berkshire Playhouse Founder Becomes Bride of Henry Osgood Phippen, Jr., Governor Dummer Academy Instructor in Stockbridge Ceremony Performed by Trinity College President

Special Dispatch to The Sunday Union and Republican

 Stockbridge, June 20—The first of the important Berkshire society weddings of the season took place at St. Paul’s Episcopal church this afternoon at 3:30 when Miss Betsey Louise Dunn was married to Henry Osgood Phippen, Jr., of South Hamilton.  The bridge is the daughter of Mrs. Bertha V. Dunn of the Roost on Goodrich street and of Douglas Wood Dunn of St. George, Staten Island.  Her maternal grandfather was the late Walter L. Clark, president of the Central Art galleries, New York, and founder of the Berkshire Playhouse at Stockbridge.  Mr. Phippen is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Osgood Phippen of the Bandbox at South Hamilton.

Rev. Dr. Remsen Brinckerhoff Ogilby, president of Trinity college at Hartford, Ct., officiated, with Rev. Edmund Randolph Laine, rector of St. Paul’s, assisting.  The church decorations were of white gladioli and palma.  Miss Edna Wylie of Great Barrington played the “Lohengrin” and Mendelssohn marches.  She also gave a recital before the ceremony.
Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA, 17 Sep 1936, p. 4.

Mrs. Edna Wylie has been appointed musical director of the symphony orchestra, which will give a concert and provide incidental music for the pageant, “Superba,” which will be given in connection with the town’s 175th anniversary the last week of this month.  Mrs. Wylie will enlist the services of a large number of musicians.  The regular dance band, directed by Mrs. Wylie will continue to provide music for the Thursday and Saturday dancing at The Barn on the Sheffield road.
Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA, 17 Mar 1937, p. 3.

One of the largest late-winter social affairs for this area will be held tomorrow night at the Berkshire Inn, when the St. Patrick’s ball and card party, sponsored by the American Legion auxiliary, will be in progress.  It is expected that over 400 will attend.  Mrs. Charles E. Birdsey, chairman of the dance committee has been assisted in arrangements by William J. Connelly, a former commander of South Berkshire post, American Legion.  Music will be provided by Edna Wylie’s orchestra.  In addition to the ball, the several lounges of the inn will be utilized for bridge-playing.

Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA, 27 April 1938, p. 3. 

 High School Sophomore Hop

The high school sophomore hop will be held Friday night in the Community house.  Dancing will be from 9 to 1 with music by Edna Wylie’s orchestra.  The committee on class colors will arrange to display the colors white and rose.  The decorating committee will attend to beautifying the dance hall.  Refreshments will be served.

Edna's husband George Wylie was hired by New England Telephone and Telegraph on 29 Jan 1923 and was assigned to the local wire chief office plant, where it seemed he remained.  He retired 30 April 1963.   He and his wife eventually bought a large half-timber Tudor house at the corner of West Sheffield Road and Route 41.  My parents and I used to pass the house on trips to Berkshire County in Massachusetts and sometimes the long way 'round on trips to Litchfield County, Connecticut.  The house was a favorite of my mother’s, yet we had no idea a family member had owned it at one time. 

On a quick tour of the grounds several years ago, I remember  a chicken house pointed out.  It was George Wylie's for his passion was poultry.  He was a member of the Great Barrington Poultry Club, winning prizes for black breasted red game and light Brahma bantams in national poultry shows.  

Edna died at the relatively young age of 51 at Albany Medical Center.  She was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Great Barrington.  I finally found an obituary for her:

Springfield Union, Springfield, MA, 23 May 1951.

Great Barrington, May 22—Mrs. Edna C. Wylie, 51, wife of George S. Wylie, of Egremont Rd., died today in the Albany, N.Y., City Hospital. She was born in Housatonic, Jan. 17, 1900, daughter of Henry F. and Alice (Snyder) Winchell.  She had been a resident of this town all her life.  She was a well-known pianist and for many years played at the Mahaiwe Theater prior to the advent of the talkie motion pictures.  She has also organized and led a large dance orchestra in Southern Berkshires.Besides her husband she leaves a sister, Mrs. Janette Schwab of Lee; three brothers, Elmer J. Winchell of Lee; Daniel of Pittsfield, and Ellis of San Francisco, Cal.  The body has been removed to the Stevens funeral home.  Funeral arrangements are incomplete.
Four years after Edna died, her husband married Hester Snelgrove, the sister of his brother Alexander’s wife.  George died in 1969.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Snohomish County Mud Slide

My thoughts are with my Washington State relatives as I wait to find out how they are after the report of a mud slide in the Arlington area, killing at least 2 people.  I don't know them very well and I don't know where they live, but I do know it's the area where my great-grandfather's brother Albin Estle Baker moved to with his wife Eliza Caroline Reed.  

Albin Baker is No. 2 and his wife Carrie Reed is No. 2

Washington State Cousins

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Offhand and Scarce References

This past weekend I went to the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield to research my newest family mysteries.  As usual, I ran out of time before I found all the answers.  I'm researching for the period when the town records for Hillsdale, NY, and Egremont, MA, burned.  My family did not seem to be church goers and seldom appear in tombstone transcription records.  

I did come back with one clue.  Clarissa Brasin joined the First Congregational Church in Williamstown in 1819.  It could be that the last name was transcribed incorrectly.  I haven’t seen this surname in Berkshire County before, either.  Her father Eliakim Winchell Sr. died in 1818.  As was necessary in the 1800s, young Clarissa may have needed the shelter of an alliance with an older man.  She was 12 at the time.  The man who may have been her first husband, Andrew Brazie, was born in 1738 and died in 1826 at the age of 88, a year after his namesake son was born.  However, I need to double check the information found/not found on Familysearch and look at the census records to see what other Andrew Brazies there may have been living in the area.  I also need to check deeds and probate records.

I found this interesting passage in Captain Franklin Ellis’ history of Hillsdale.
Previous to the settlement by the whites this section was much frequented by the Indians.  One family lived here for many years after the whites came in.  About 1810 the last remnants of the aborigines, in the person of two of that race who were named Paul and Phoebe, removed to the western part of this State.
By now I’ve gotten used to finding in print  offhand and inaccurate references to my relatives and those of my friends.  My friend Jim Harrigan’s family lived in White Creek.  They were Mohican and Chickasaw, moving there after the American Revolution.  I think their surnames may have been Vischer/Fisher and Clark.  They lived there up to the middle 1800s at least, traveling back and forth between New York State and Kansas.  I found a Winchell family descended from the Mohican-Wappinger man John Van Gilder that lived and were buried in Hillsdale.  If Clarissa did go to live with the elderly Andrew Brazie in Hillsdale, she would be another descendant living there.  It’s a pity that the author of the history didn’t think enough of the Native people to think they deserved to find their histories printed, too.  Then maybe I would really have some information.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

You Never Know

In the photo below I was trying to identify of my mother's siblings.  Mom couldn't remember the photo.  She asked me to tell her who the other people were in the photo and to describe what everyone was wearing.  She still couldn't place the photo.  I told her that her sister Dot's slip was showing, then she remembered the photo and where it was taken.  You never know what's going to trigger someone's memory. 
Left to right:  Babe, Dot, Adrienne, Flo and Sally.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Eliakim Winchell Sr.'s Second Wife

I’ve wondered why I came to the conclusion several years ago that my ancestor Eliakim Winchell Sr. had two wives.  Today I found those notes. 

I traced Eliakim through the U. S. census records.  I haven’t worked with the early census records very much, so it’s possible my logic is faulty. 

1790 federal census, Berkshire County,
Eliakim Winchell, Town of Egremont
2 white males over 16 (Eliakim and 1 son ready to leave home)
4 white males under 16
5 females

It appears that Eliakim had four sons and four daughters in 1790, allowing for one of the females as his wife.  I have documentation of only four children—Chillup, Rachel, Charlotte and David—all baptized 19 June 1782 in the Town of Egremont, Berkshire Co., Mass.  I don’t have definite birth dates for son Eliakim and daughter Deborah.  I’m also missing the names of two children completely.

1800 federal census, Berkshire County
Eliakim Winchell, Town of Mount Washington
1 male 45 years of age or older (Eliakim)
1 female under ten
1 female 16-25 (either a daughter or a new wife)

There isn’t a female the approximate age of the head of household.  The female between 16 and 25 is either a daughter or a younger wife.  There are six children no longer living at home. 

1810 federal census
Eliakim Winchell
Town of Mount Washington
2 males under 10
1 male over 45 (Eliakim)
2 females under 10
1 female over 26 and under 45

In 1810 Eliakim has four small children under ten years of age.  There is a female between 26 and 45 in the household.  Since she’s the only adult, she’s probably his wife and the mother of his children.  I know who these children were:  George, Margaret, Elizabeth and Clarissa.  His daughter Almira was born about 1814.  The mother died before April 1818 when Eliakim died.  There's no mention of her in the probate records.

I’ve never found a marriage record for Eliakim.  The Town of Egremont records burned in the 1830s.  I looked through the vital records for the town of Mount Washington and the town records.  There was no mention there.  A local researcher, a federal ranger and past president of the Great Barrington Historical Society said that was probably because the second wife was Native American.  Two of Eliakim’s grandsons, Milton and John Winchell, seemed to be noted as Native American on the 1870 U.S. census.  I will have to see if I can find any trace of a married Winchell woman who died in the town of Mountain Washington between 1814 and 1818.