Friday, July 6, 2018

Transcription, Handwriting and a Queen

Compiling the list of the Galveston 1900 Storm dead by GTHC has been a herculean task that continues to this day. It is understandable that inconsistencies persist. Several individuals with the surname Terrell are found on the on-line list: "Mrs. M.E.," "Queen age 33," and "Mrs. Q.V." with four children, all African American.

The entry for this family in the 1900 census in Galveston has been indexed incorrectly, but close reading of the names reveals their identities. The Terrells are indexed at Ancestry as Manny and Susan Terrall. At first look, it could be "Maurice."

Cross-referencing with the 1899 City Directory, we see that Manny is Morris E. Terrell, pastor of St. Luke's Missionary Baptist church at 1510 15th Street. This corresponds with the location of the family shown on the census. 

St. Luke's Missionary Baptist Church is still active in Galveston. The "history" portion of their web site at reveals that this church was established in 1894 by 36 members of the Union Baptist church located at 11th and K. They name Rev. E.M. Terrell as their second pastor. The early church is described: These faithful members saved nickels, pennies and dimes to purchase property where they could assemble together for worship. Over a period of time, a lot and two buildings were purchased at 15th Avenue and Avenue N. One building served as the house of worship; the other was used as the parsonage. In 1900, a storm destroyed both buildings. 

The marriage of M.E. Terrell and Queen Alexander took place in 1890 in Waller, Texas, northwest of Houston. This corresponds with the births of the children listed in the 1900 census, born between 1892 and 1898. If the pattern of births every two years continued, Queen may have been pregnant when the storm hit.

Although "Susan" may be a more common name and the transcriber can be forgiven for the error in identifying Queen, the origin of her name can be better understood by reviewing the 1870 census.

Philip and Harriet Alexander, living in Hempstead, Texas, named their daughter Queen Victoria during the reign of Victoria in Great Britain. Queen named her oldest daughter Beatrice, the name of Victoria's youngest child and companion after the death of Prince Albert. In 1880 the Alexander family was enumerated about 10 miles away in Waller. The name of Philip's second daughter, Proserpine, also had royal origins, being  a daughter of Zeus and Demeter in classic mythology. In 1880 she was enumerated simply as "P."

Morris E. Terrell can be found in Galveston's tax records in 1894 as paying his poll tax. No records in Morris' name are found after 1900, leading to the conclusion that it is not Mrs. but Mr. M.E. Terrell who should be in the list of storm dead, and that his wife was counted twice as Mrs. Q.V. and as Queen, age 33.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Jennie Summers Livingston

In many cases, large families were lost as their homes washed away in the 1900 Storm in Galveston. However, a single line entry in the 1900 census at an address in the "danger zone" near the Gulf has another story to tell.

Jenny, or Jennie, Livingston was a widow at 26, and working as a music teacher in 1900. She lived in a rented home on Avenue T at 39th Street and had been employed consistently for the past 12 months. She had been married for 9 years, which corresponds with a marriage licence filed in Harris County by William G. Livingston on 27 October 1891. He swore that he was over 21 years of age, and that his bride, Jennie A. Summers was over 18.

In the 1891/2 City Directory for Galveston, William G. Livingston was listed as a fireman for the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad. His residence was at 3202 Avenue R, with a Frances E. Livingston, widow of Edward. These appear to be his parents, based on their entry in the 1880 census in Galveston. In 1893 William paid his $1.50 poll tax in Galveston. In 1895/6 he resided at 4308 Church Street and was again employed as a fireman at or by Santa Fe.

The 1896/7 directory lists Jennie A, widow of W.G. Livingston, living at the southeast corner of 40th Street at Avenue T. where she was still living when the 1899/1900 directory recorded her as a teacher at a private school. A listing in the Lakeview Cemetery in Galveston at Find-a-Grave has W.G. Livingston dying in 1895 at Alvin.

Although Jennie states that she had two children who were both living when the census was taken in 1900, they did not live in her household. Between her husband's death about 1895 and 1900 she must have found herself unable to care for her children. After five years of marriage she had to earn a living, which may not have been enough to provide for three. Her mother-in-law Frances, age 48, was supporting herself and her 17-year-old daughter by teaching as well.

Jennie's boys are likely the Livingston children listed in 1900 among the 43 "inmates" in the Galveston Orphans' Home at 21st and M. Willie was reported on the census to have been born in October of 1892, about a year after Jennie and William's marriage. Next in the listing is Stanley Livingston, born September of 1894. Although she must have been pained to place her sons in the care of others, this action saved their lives. The orphanage, now the Bryant Museum, was damaged in the hurricane of September 1900, but suffered no casualties. The children were moved to Houston during reconstruction, to the Buckner Baptist Children's Home.

Young Willie may have been living independently back in Galveston in 1910, when a William G. "Levingston," age 17, was boarding on 24th and H, and working as a laborer on a ship. There is a Stanley Livingston whose Baltimore WWI draft registration states that he was born in Galveston. At that time, he had a wife and child. Frances Livingston is on the list of the storm dead, but not her daughter, Frances. The younger Frances does not appear to be in Galveston in 1910, but if she survived, she may have married and changed her name by then. The rest of the Livingston legacy is as yet undiscovered.

Jennie's short life had its joys and sorrows. She deserves to be remembered.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018 - Wendell War Memorials

Wendell's war memorial sits on the old town common. Bronze plaques have been affixed to millstones as uniform monuments to the 20th century conflicts. I will check back in the future and see if the fourth stone will also hold names from the earlier wars. This transcription is part of The Honor Roll Project

The first plaque reads:

In Memory of Those Who Served in The World War from Wendell, Massachusetts

*Frank E. Richards
Edwin D. Austin
Clarence C. Begor
Frank Betters
Edith F. Bowen R.M.
Webster M Brown
John E. Burkhardt
George A. Cogswell
Frank H. Day
Marvin N. Ellis
Jesse L. Haskins
Gustoff A. Hook
Ralph L. Jennison
Arthur Parent
Carl J. Sandberg
Gustav L. Sandberg
Leon O. Taylor

Erected by Wendell Grange 1930
On the 150th Anniversary
Of the Incorporation of the Town

World War I Monument

In Memory of Those who Served in World War II From Wendell Massachusetts

*George H Gardner
* Calvin P. Merchant
Raymond E. Avery
Edward J. Bezio
Clayton J. Bezio
Leon Bezio
M. James Bowen
Kenneth W. Clarkk
Adam Drozdowski
Joseph Drozdowski
Robert E. Ellis
Andrew J. Fox
Myron A. Gibbs
Rubert V. Goddard
Avery H. Harrington
Eugene A. La Valle
Arthur B. Lewis, Jr.
Dale W. Lewis
Donald G. Lewis
Ralph E. Lewis
Ruth V. Lewis
Albert H. Hulholland
Merrill A. Noyes
Lewis E. Powling
Merle O. Powling
Clarence H. Pratt
Jesse W. Pratt
Charles F. Reed
John L. Van Rensselaer
Earl E. Sabot
Sherman W. Sadler
Roland L. Sears
Charles M. Wetherby
Francis E. Wetherby
Clarence O. Wetherby
Raymond C. Wirth

Erected by Town of Wendell and Grange

World War II Monument

In Memory of Those Who Served in the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts from Wendell, Massachusetts

Elmore Andrews
Richard Bezio
Edward Duhaime
Donald Ellis
Harry Lewis
Roy Sampson
Merrill Wetherby
Robert Ashley
Kenneth Clark
Theodore  Lewis
Edward Wirth
Stephen Clark
Richard Hurtle
John Peettit
William Starkey
Myron Bowen


Joseph Bagdonas
John Carey
Donald Cornwell
Gary Cornwell
David Hisdreth
Arthur Taylor
David Wilder
Leonard Wirth
Anthony Diemand
Joseph Diemand
Ray Chevalier
Edward Chase
Robert Durkee
Kenneth Wing, Jr.
Dennis Lewis

Erected by the Town of Wendell and Through the Generous Donation of Many Private Citizens

Friday, May 25, 2018

Allison Update - Good News

The Allison family of Galveston and New Orleans, profiled earlier, was not completely wiped out in the 1900 storm. The eldest son, Walter, survived!

Walter was born in December of 1881, according to the 1900 census of Galveston, recorded just a few weeks before the storm. At 18, he was employed as an apprentice machinist at a foundry. We can speculate that he was at his job when the storm began, and was prevented from returning to his home near the Gulf. Several iron works were listed in the city directories, the largest being Lee Iron Works, near the railroad station on the north side of the island. He may have been the informant that enumerated eight children of his parents among the storm dead, including his two uncles, Edward and Archie Reagan.

In 1910, Walter can be found still living in Galveston, in the household of Lewis Cook on Avenue F near 12th Street. He married Katie Beagor(?) soon after and had a daughter Ethel in 1911, and a son, Walter, jr. in 1914. Walter Allison died in San Antonio on 19 October 1918 of influenza at the peak of the epidemic there. The disease had spread very quickly through the city. and its Army installations. See more details here.

Walter was buried in the Lakeview Cemetery in Galveston, near the Gulf. His wife, Kate, returned to Galveston and remarried to Gustov Hoff, a German tailor. They moved to Washington, D.C. by 1930 where they had a shop. Ethel married and had a son whom she named Walter. Her brother, Walter, had married and was working for the Treasury Department, but had no children at the time of the 1940 census. Several more generations of Allison descendants could be alive today, far removed from the horrific storm of 1900.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Helen and Wylie Smith

Included among the Galveston storm dead from 1900 are Wylie Smith, with his wife and child. They are designated as African Americans with the notation (c) next to their names on the Galveston and Texas History Center list. We can add a few details that characterize them beyond their listing among the many Smiths who died that day.

The 1900 Galveston census names Wylie's wife, Helen, whom he had married four years earlier. She was 45, born in 1855 in Texas. She states that her parents were born in Virginia and Alabama, respectively. She didn't give a month for her birth, although Wylie did: February of 1848. He was a "drayman" in 1900, transporting goods with a horse and wagon. He was born in Alabama, as were his parents. Although both Helen and Wylie could have been born into slavery, in 1900 they owned a home without a mortgage at 3314 Q Street. They were older parents of one-year-old Helen F. who was approaching her second birthday.

This snapshot in time on 8 June 1900 cannot give more than a hint of their past lives. Had they raised or lost more children or spouses in their younger years? Carrying a surname like Smith makes further investigation even more difficult.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

He Was an Inventor

The Galveston and Texas History Center at the Rosenberg Library in Galveston maintains a database of the storm dead from the hurricane of 1900. There are 5,132 individuals tabulated. Estimates are that 8,000, or even as many as 12,000 were killed. Only 215 names were available to be taken from the coroner's records. It was truly "the worst of times" and so many individuals could not be identified, or were never found. We are reminded that only those who were killed during the storm are listed on the GTH Center web site: "This list does not include victims who died of illness apparently received as a direct result of the 1900 Storm, such as insanity, exposure, skull fracture, tetanus, trauma and suicide. Many deaths through the months after the 1900 Storm were a result of malarial fever, dysentery, pneumonia, and tuberculosis."

Each of the victims had a story, although many did not leave records or descendants to tell that story. Many can be found in the census of 1900 in Galveston, taken at the end of June. City directories can add details for some. Some may have arrived on the ships that came to the harbor after June, or were transient workers. The family of Samuel B. Allison is one that leaves us enough clues to stimulate further exploration.

The census tells us that they lived at 2532 35th Street in Galveston in a home they owned without a mortgage. They had also been in Galveston in 1880, living in the heart of downtown on the Strand. Samuel was 29, with his wife Mary at just 19. Their first child, Daisy, was an infant. Their next child, Walter, was also born in Texas, two years later. Sometime between 1882 and 1886 they moved to Louisiana, where their younger children were born: Clarence, Arthur, Herbert, and Alberta. Mary stated in the 1900 census that she had borne 7 children and 6 were still living. They had adopted another son, John, aged 11, who had been born in Louisiana. Mary's Texas-born brothers, Edward and Archie Reagan, were also in their household.

It is the occupation Samuel gave on the 1900 census that led to another discovery: mechanical inventor. He had applied for two patents. In 1898 and again in early 1900 he submitted applications for machines that would more efficiently separate fiber from stalks, such as flax. Both were granted in 1902 and acknowledged that he was deceased.

A few details about Samuel's appearance are found on his application for a passport in 1892: 5 feet 7 inches tall with hazel eyes and graying hair. In 1897 he can be found a the passenger list returning from a trip to Belize to New Orleans. 

When the storm came to Galveston on 8 September 1900, the Allison family had only been in residence again for a short time. Their youngest child had been born in Louisiana in August of 1898. Further research into their life in New Orleans could add more details to their narrative. A C. A. Dorrestein was acting in his behalf when the patents were granted in 1902.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Jaques Ardisson, Carpenter

So many families huddled in their homes during the 1900 hurricane in Galveston, hoping to ride out the storm. They may have raised the structures on stilts to stay dry above the high tides of past storms. The homes near the Gulf of Mexico on S Street were relatively small frame residences on lots that were 40 feet wide. The family of Jaques Ardisson, a French-born carpenter, lived in such a home on S 1/2 Street near 37th Street. The 1899 Sanborn map shows no other homes on the block between their front porch and the Gulf. They could enjoy the view of sunrise over the water.

The census that was taken in Galveston in June of 1900 enumerates the residents of the neighborhood. Jaques was 41, living in a mortgaged home that he owned. His wife was Josphine Falco, who had been born in Louisiana, but stated that her parents were of German and Spanish origin. Her brother Joseph Falco was living with them and was also working as a carpenter at 24, likely assisting his brother-in-law. Josephine said she had given birth to 10 children, of whom 8 were living. At 33 she had a 15-year-old, Joseph, who had left school and was working as an office boy. Did they have an older child, who had already married and left home? The younger six children are listed in sequence: Annie G. 13, James S. 11, Francis M. 9, Russie F. 6, Viola, 4, and Louis 2.

The Ardisson family are all counted on the official list of storm dead, as well as J. A. C. Falco. It is unlikely that any of the small homes could have withstood the power of the hurricane, virtually on the beach, and at sea level before the construction of the seawall.