Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The 1900 Federal Census is my favorite....USUALLY!

Usually, the 1900 census is my favorite. It tells you lots of good stuff. The birth month and year for each individual, how many years they were married and how many total children were born and how many that are still living. I wish they would put all this information on every census! Why don’t they?
My fascination with my Moyer family began with researching my great great grandmother, Estella Irene Moyer. Estella was married to a gentleman by the name of Ard Church on 29 April 1900 and then in 1902 she married Owen Montgomery both in Grangeville, Idaho. This information was obtained from Idaho marriage certificates. Estella was born on 17 Feb 1883, according to her obituary. The first clue I had for her life was found on the 1900 census for Harpster, Idaho, and it states that Stella Myers is 18 at this time.

On this census she is listed with her father, John Myers and he is widowed. So I don’t know her mother’s name. The census states that John was born in Illinois August 1841. The last name on this document is Myers for the entire household. This was a huge question if I had the right family for a long time because on Estella’s marriage certificate her last name is Moyers. It will take several posts but I am convinced that anyone who follows my posts will also know that this is the correct family.
The next person listed on the census was Stella’s sister, Elisabeth, and then their other sister, Rebecca. All three have birthdates in November. November 1881, November 1883 and November 1884. And they were all born in Iowa. Estella’s obituary states that she was born in a place called McPaul, Iowa. This township is in Fremont county. I always have to keep in mind that there may be some errors in the giving of information because in Estella’s obituary, her birthday is stated as February 17, 1883.
The next six people listed on the census are John’s nephews and nieces from his brother, George “Coon” Myers. George died in a tragic accident in 1898 and now the children are living with their uncle and their grandparents. The siblings are Charles (age 16), Roy (age13), May (age 10), Girtie (age 4) and Ray (age 2). The census tells me that Charles and Roy were born in Iowa and May, Girtie and Roy were born in Washington. May was born in Oct 1889 and that would say that they came to Washington before that time. I’m also wondering if little Ray ever knew his father since he is born in the same year as the accident of his father.
The great thing about this census is that it gives me three generations! Estella is my great great grandmother and her father and her grandfather are on this census. George and Sarah Myers are listed next on this census. I get a sense that this family really sticks together in tragedy. John has lost his wife at some time and his three girls are helping with raising their cousins. Grandpa and Grandma are their too helping out and living in a very crowded home.
I have a theory. I have to wonder about the discrepancies on this census. We have to understand that the nephews and nieces on this census end up using the name Myers all of their lives. John and John’s children go by Moyer. George and Sarah start out by Moyer and then end up changing their name to Myers at some point and their youngest son uses that name too. The theory is that someone besides John or his daughters gave the information for this census. I feel pretty strongly about this especially because of the last name but also because the girl’s birthdays seem a little off. It seems odd that they were all born in November…..
The other thing that I feel like I have to throw in the mix, just for fun, is that Estella is also listed on the 1900 census with her new husband, Ard Church in Mt. Idaho, Idaho, Idaho. The census is dated June 6, 1900. The census with her father is dated July 20, 1900. Don’t you just love a good mystery? The enumerator is the same person on both census. Anyone want to throw out some of their own theories on this one? I would love it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


John Harvey Moyer

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a conference about genealogy and technology. It was called RootsTech. The conference was held in Salt Lake City, Utah and my dear friend and cohort in genealogy accompanied me on the trip. The theme for the conference had to do with discovering the advances in technology available to all levels of genealogists. Topics such as DNA, virtual cemeteries, bloggining, geocoding and variety of other subjects were explored! Envision computer experts and genealogists of the greatest kind!! Microsoft, Dell, Ancestry.com, Archives.com, Footnote.com were just some of the sponsors represented at the conference.
Before the conference began, we were alerted by e-mail that Maureen Taylor would be attending the conference. Maureen is also known as the Photo Detective. She is an expert in spotting pictures and telling you what time period they were taken. She gathers clues from poses, clothing, hairstyles and other information provided by you. My grandfather has a photo hanging in his home in Boise, Idaho that was taken of his great grandfather, John Harvey Moyer. Behind that photo is a photo of a woman that he has no clue to the woman’s identity. I tried to sign up to meet with Maureen on the same day I got the e-mail, but to my chagrin all of her spots on all three days of the conference had already filled up. Plus there was just the small detail, that I needed to ask my grandfather if I could borrow the picture, which was his heirloom, and take it down to Salt Lake with me.
So I decided I would call him and ask him if I could take a picture of the two photos. He agreed and I stopped by his house in Boise on my way out of town. So running late as usual, I visited my grandfather, took the pictures of the photos and mustered the courage to ask him if I might be able to take the originals to these pictures just for the weekend. These pictures are very unique. They have been encased in an oval frame with bubbled glass. They don’t just lay flat. From top to bottom, the pictures measure about two feet. The paper is not like photographic paper that we have today. It is more like cardboard and the edges of the pictures and peeling away and deteriorating quickly. Already short on time, I asked and my grandfather graciously agreed to let me borrow these precious photos for the weekend! I was elated.
Now all I had to do was hang out near the booth where the Photo Detective would be at and hopefully not miss too many of the really cool classes that were being offered. We arrived late on Wednesday night and got some sleep before arming ourselves with laptops and our genealogy pedigrees. I took along my gigantic photos in a white plastic garbage bag. Our hotel was across the street from the Salt Lake Convention Center and we walked the long corridors until we found all the genealogy gurus. You can spot them a mile away. They have a very unique style that can only be appreciated and loved once you delve into the world of genealogy. We found our perspective registration lines, received a really cool backpack, CD, and syllabus to get us started. Pam, my cohort, and I had already brought bags for our laptops so we were shuffling around our things in a way that would be convenient to carry all these belongings. Once settled, we headed for the escalator and headed for the vendor hall where we might find Maureen Taylor, the great Photo Detective. I was armed and ready with my photos in hand covered by the great white garbage bag!
You would never believe it, I still can’t believe it, but as we are heading down the stairs the first person I see coming in the opposite direction is none other than the one person I hope I get to visit with today! It was her, the Photo Detective. I was in shock and awe. I couldn’t help but stare. Pam knew right away by looking at my expression. There was no explanation needed. She headed for the registration booth for presenters. I couldn’t miss my chance. I followed her. They were having some trouble at the booth locating something for her. This was my big chance to ask if she might take a look at these most unusual and unique family heirlooms. The person at the booth asked if he could help me but I politely told him I was waiting for “her,” motioning to Maureen. She turned and being very gracious allowed me to explain how I tried to sign up to see her and that she was booked out for the entire conference on the first day of receiving the notice. She told me that it filled up in five hours!
She was interested in seeing my photos. We stepped aside and I pulled them out of my tall white kitchen garbage bag with the red pull string. I explained that the tall man with the white hair and moustache was my great great great grandfather, John Harvey Moyer. He was born in 1841. My research tells me that this man had three wives, Mahala Schull, Mary McGuym and Effie Barnhouse. My great great great grandmother would be Mary but I don’t know much about her. In fact, I am lucky that I know her name. I found it on a death certificate of one of her three daughters, Rebecca Ann Moyer Donnally. Mahala is the mother of Oscar Edward Moyer and that information was obtained from his marriage certificate. Now, Effie is the interesting one because John married her when he was 75 and she was 16 years old. Talk about robbing the cradle, but if legend has it correctly, this man lived to be at least 100 and so that would mean that they had 25 years together! The marriage certificate gave me this information and the fact that they were married March 25, 1914 in Coucil Bluffs, Iowa.

So I quickly shared this information with Maureen. She was able to tell me right away that these pictures were taken at the same time and in the 1920s. The woman in the picture is sitting next to a mirror and Maureen commented that “it was a very nice pose because you could see the profile and features of both sides of her face.” The clothing she was wearing is what gave the time frame away. Maureen did say that the man was wearing clothing from an older time frame but because of his age, this is common for an older man not be up with the trends of the times. Maureen also mentioned that it looked like he had some kind of rash on his left hand. Also, Maureen felt like this was a married couple, in her expert opinion, I believe so too.


Effie Barnhouse Moyer

With this information and the history I feel like the picture is most likely Effie Barnhouse. My grandfather inherited this photo from his father who got it from his mother, Estella Irene Moyer. John Harvey Moyer is her father. Her mother was Mary McGuym who died before 1900 and Effie is John Harvey Moyer’s new wife. Interesting enough, Effie is about ten years younger than his daughters. Estella moved from McPaul, Iowa about the time she was 5 years old, according to her obituary. The family moved to Dayton, Washington and then eventually Idaho. John and the family are in Harpster, Idaho on the 1900 Federal Census. John is also living with his parents and lists that he is a widow. His youngest brother, George Moyer died in 1898 so George’s children are also living with John and his daughters and his parents. Later in that same year, George’s first son, Oscar comes from Nebraska to look for work and later his wife joins them with their six children. I am curious to know how comfortable it was to have that many people under one roof? No wonder my great great great grandmother, Estella, gets married to Owen Montgomery in 1902!
After I visited with Maureen Taylor, we visited the Exhibit Hall and booths with wonderful resources. While at the Familysearch.org booth, we saw a giant scanner used for copying books. They use this to make family histories and bibles available online. Because I still had my white garbage sack in hand, I asked if they would be able to scan something like the huge picture. He placed it on the scanner and my super terrific friend and cohort in genealogy, Pam, happened to have a card/disc from her video camera that she could save it for me. Thus, now you can see and view these two heirlooms for your own viewing pleasure.
Going to this wonderful Conference inspired me to start a blog. I’ve never blogged anything. In fact, my spell check is alerting me that it does not even recognize the word, BLOG. I am hopeful that I can connect with other people who are related to me thru this Moyer line. I hope that we can share photos like these and that we might also share stories behind them and keep their memories alive. I look forward to hearing from my cousins all over the world and sharing any information that I have.
There is a little bit of a mystery here and if anyone who is related to the Moyers could help me out, I’d be forever grateful. After moving to Idaho, John Harvey returns to McPaul, Iowa. In fact, that’s where he marries Effie in 1914. Rebecca married William Moses Donnally in Idaho and they move to Iowa also. A few months after giving birth to her youngest child, Della, Rebecca dies January 1919 in Iowa. The Donnally’s move back to Idaho. I’m not sure what happens to John and Effie Moyer after 1920. I don’t have a death date for either of them. I’m also wondering how this portrait ends up in my Great Great Great Grandmother’s house in Idaho. Did she go back to Iowa and visit? Or did John and Effie come west to Idaho to live permanently? On the 1920 census John and Effie had three children listed, Harold, Maggie and Carl Leroy. I would love to make the connection with them. There is a possibility that they or their children may still be living.