daniel leeds: way-back great-grampa the almanac-maker

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018 Edition:  Week 48 (November 26-December 2).  Prompt, “Next to Last.”
Born in the next-to-last month of the year, an ancestor the writer in me finds fascinating:  the almanac-maker & writer, Daniel Leeds…
Daniel LEEDS, among my 8th-great-grandfathers and, my closest immigrant Leeds ancestor, compiled “the first almanacs in this country, in 1687, continuing until 1716, when his sons Felix and Titan succeeded him,”1 and with whom [Titan] fellow almanac-maker Benjamin Franklin himself engaged in an ongoing feud.

“Benjamin Franklin published a highly successful, yearly almanac from 1732 to 1758,” reads a Hoaxes.org piece.2  “He called it Poor Richard’s Almanac, adopting the literary persona of ‘Poor’ Richard Saunders, who was supposedly a hen-pecked, poverty-stricken scholar.

“In the first year of its publication, Franklin included a prediction stating that rival almanac-writer Titan Leeds would die on ‘Oct. 17, 1733, 3:29 P.M., at the very instant of the conjunction of the Sun and Mercury.’ “

Although the prediction was intended as a joke, Titan Leeds was not amused.

“Franklin responded by turning the death of Leeds into a running joke.  When the date and time of the prediction arrived, and Leeds did not die, Franklin declared that Leeds actually had died, but that someone had usurped his name and was now using it to falsely publish his almanac.”2

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.  To get back to Great-Grandpapa Daniel LEEDS:  Daniel was the second son of Thomas LEEDS (1620 England–1687 Province of New Jersey) & Mary3 (Anna4) CARTWRIGHT3 (1621 England–1677 either Province of New Jersey or, back in England).  Born Nov. 15, 1651 in Leeds, Engfland,4 Daniel immigrated to America in 1676 on the ship “Shield,” landing at Burlington, Province of New Jersey.1

Clara Louise Humeston has Daniel marrying four times:  “1st, [Unknown]; 2nd Ann STACY; 3rd Dorothy YOUNG; 4th Jean SMOUT5 [“Smout” being Jean’s surname by a prior marriage; I’m still researching her maiden name].  Of these, Dorothy YOUNG is she whom I call 8th Great-Grandmum and, is mother to Daniel’s sons / my great-granduncles Felix & Titan who joined him in the almanac business.

Daniel & Dorothy married Dec. 4, 1682 in Burlington, Province of New Jersey.6  “As early as 1694 Daniel ‘located land’ in Great Egg Harbor” and in 1698 surveyed it, later calling it Leeds’ Point and with his family, settling on it:  it was “the highest point of land on the coast from the Highlands to the Capes of Virginia.”1

“Amidst the hardships incident to pioneer life in this sparsely settled locality, Daniel found time and inclination to serve his State, having held several important offices.  He was the first Surveyor General of West Jersey, having for a time the assistance of his son Bethanah.”

Blue Mountain Books notes that Daniel LEEDS, “….became one of the first Deputy Surveyors of West Jersey and subsequently the second Surveyor General of West Jersey, positions he held from 1681 to 1713.  A member of the West Jersey Assembly in 1682, he was also a judge in Burlington County from 1692 to 1694.”7

How I would love to see a copy of Daniel’s first almanac, but this 1694 image is the earliest I could find online…

By the time Daniel Leeds began his almanac, the format had become essentially fixed:  a title page, a page of eclipses, general calendar information, calendar pages with appropriate verse, and a formal essay on science, religion, or history,” writes Marion Barber Stowell.  “Leeds added more variety.  His standard almanacs also included addresses to the reader; news of religious groups, fairs, and courts; narratives, accounts, and anecdotes; interspersed sayings on calendar pages; and verse scattered from the first through the last page.8

“Leeds completed the conversion of the rather technical document that the Harvard Philomaths established to what became, and has remained, the still living farmers’ almanac-however senescent its present state.  The humor that obviously delighted the colonial farmer continued the tradition of English country humor that had surfaced in the mother country.  This humor was homely, earthy, and rather coarse.  It reflected, at its highest, the level of comic perception we associate with the British squirearchy rather than with the nobility.  The level in the American colonies was certainly no higher.  A peasant shrewdness surfaces in what wit there was.  Indeed, the native propensity for wit was fed often by the almanackers’ inveterate habit of literary borrowing and paraphrase (without acknowledgement) from the productions of their English colleagues.”8

“Bawdy jingles erupt with regularity” in old almanacs, writes Marion Barber Stowell.  This bit of blue verse, from a 1714 almanac by Daniel LEEDS:

” ‘The Weather’s hot, days burning eye
” ‘Doth make the earth in favour frye,
” ‘Dick on the Hay doth tumble Nell,
” ‘Whereby her Belly comes to swell.
” ‘The Dog star now we hot do find,
” ‘And some have Dog tricks in their mind.”8

“Daniel Leeds was using maxims in his almanac forty years before Franklin’s Poor Richard.  For example, in 1710, ‘We think lawyers to be Wise, but they know us to be Fools.’  In 1712 a Leeds jingle informs us that poor ‘Will Woodcock’ is spending all his money on lawsuits.  He lost one case:

” ‘Another which he hoped to have try’d, / ‘Is by Demurrer at present laid aside: / ‘Nothing effected, only all his Money, / ‘Is by the Lawyers swallowed down like Honey.  And Poor Will can muse, ‘as now he fells his Hay, Next Court will take his Cattle, too, away.’ “8

I descend from Daniel LEEDS‘ & Dorothy YOUNG‘s eldest son, Japheth (1683–1736), who married Deborah SMITH (1685–1747), dubiously given in legend as the mother of the Jersey Devil.

Cover of Daniel LEEDS’ 1713 Almanack.

In addition to his almanacs, Daniel LEEDS authored several books, among them, The Temple of Wisdom.  He died Sept 28, 1720 in Springfield, Burlington County, Province of New Jersey; he is buried at  Saint Mary’s Episcopal Churchyard (aka Saint Mary’s Cemetery), Burlington, Burlington, New Jersey, USA.

Hall, John F., The Daily Union History of Atlantic City and County, New Jersey: Containing Sketches of the Past and Present of Atlantic City and County, 1900, Daily Union Printing Company, Atlantic City, New Jersey, accessed November, 2018,  at https://archive.org/stream/dailyunionhistor00inhall/dailyunionhistor00inhall_djvu.txt .
Hoaxes.org, “The Death of Titan Leeds,” accessed November, 2018,  at http://hoaxes.org/archive/permalink/the_death_of_titan_leeds .
FindAGrave.com, memorial no. 74947559, “Mary Cartwright Leeds,” accessed November, 2018,  at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/74947559 .
West, Edmund, comp., Family Data Collection – Births {database on-line}. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001:  “Name: Daniel Leeds; Father: Thomas Leeds; Mother: Anna; Birth Date: 15 Nov 1651; City: Leeds;” accessed November, 2018,  at https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=5769&h=2716358&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=34512926990&usePUB=true .
Humeston, Clara Louise, “LEEDS: A New Jersey Family. Its Beginning and a Branchlet,” accessed November, 2018, at https://archive.org/stream/leedsnewjerseyfa00hume/leedsnewjerseyfa00hume_djvu.txt .
Ancestry.com, U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 {database on-line}. Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014; accessed November, 2018, at https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=2189&h=99574072&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=34512927265&usePUB=true .
Blue Mountain Books at http://www.bluemountainbooks.com/product/177105/LEEDS-1713-THE-AMERICAN-ALMANACK–Fitted-to-the-Latitude-of-40-Degrees-and-a-Meridian-of-five-hours-West-from-London-but-may-without-sensible-error-serve-all-the-adjacent-places-even-from-Newfound-Land-to-Carolina-By-Daniel-Leeds-Philomat-Leeds-Daniel-1652-1720 , accessed November, 2018. 
Stowell, Marion Barber, “Humor in Colonial Almanacs,” Studies in American Humor, vol. 3, no. 1, 1976, pp. 34–47.  Retrieved November, 2018, from https://www.jstor.org/stable/42573098?read-now=1&seq=2#page_scan_tab_contents .

Posted in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2018 Edition, Ancestry, CARTWRIGHT, Family HIstory, Genealogy, LEEDS, Province of New Jersey, Quakers, YOUNG | Tagged , | Leave a comment

my quaker cousin rev. william leeds: was a pirate?!?

Okay, wait a minute here…

My quite exemplary 1st cousin (9x removed), an upstanding member of the colonial New England community, who generously willed that, upon his death — “after decease of wife and brother Daniel” — all of his considerable real estate be gifted to “the Venerable and Honorable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, for a perpetual glebe for use of a clergyman of Church of England to preach to the inhabitants of Middletown and Shrewsbury,”1 the Rev. William LEEDS, Jr., a founding member of the Shrewsbury, New Jersey, Christ Episcopal Church,2 was a pirate?!?

So claims a January 10, 1935, Red Banks Register [New Jersey] newspaper article.3

Rev. William LEEDS, Jr. (born after 1668–died between 1735-’39 Monmouth County, Province of New Jersey; buried originally on his property at Swimming River in Leedsville — now Lincroft — later exhumed and moved to Christ Churchyard, Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, New Jersey)4 is the son of Quakers William LEEDS, Sr. (1650 England–1719 Province of New Jersey; burial unknown) — my 8th great-granduncle — & Dority SCILTON (1650 England–bef. 1739; buried Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery, Middletown, Monmouth County, New Jersey).5

The, “Piracy Not Disreputable” boldfont heading in the Red Bank Register piece notwithstanding, I’m going to take umbrage on cousin William LEEDS, Jr.’s, behalf here for this centuries-later reputation-trashing.  (Hey, what’s a future cousin for? 🙂 )

“Old Church Set Up By Pirate’s Legacy,” Red Bank Register newspaper; Jan. 10, 1935.3

Pirate?!  Prove it.

The thing is, there isn’t any proof per se; from what I’ve seen out there; just general speculation and, “agreement” that a humble Quaker could not possibly have acquired LEEDS‘ wealth.  Therefore, LEEDS must have been an associate of, a cohort of, legendary-pirate-of-the-era Captain KIDD‘S, or, he must have known where KIDD‘S loot was buried and been plundering it.

“But, “Piracy in the Middletown section at least was not considered a disreputable profession,” the Red Banks Register article continues.  “Pirate chiefs and their ships received governmental commissions during the colonial wars.”  Somewhat contradictorily, however, we read next that,Captain KIDD was commissioned by the British to ‘exterminate pirates.’ “

Hmmm.  It seems pertinent to point out here that Captain KIDD was hung for piracy.  (Well, and for a murder.)

An article at The New England Historical Society online posits an interesting argument:  “William Kidd, the Pirate Who Was Framed,” is the title.  “The treasure was never found – nor were the uncontested facts about his career,” the piece begins.  “To some, he was a vicious pirate, one of many who crowded Boston’s jails at the turn of the 18th century.  To others, he was a privateer who was framed by his benefactors.”6

Aha.  If KIDD, why not LEEDS?  How do we know? 

We don’t.  Let William LEEDS rest in peace.

William LEEDS married only once: to Rebecca (TILTON) APPLEGATE, widow of Daniel APPLEGATELEEDS had no children of his own.

Cenotaph to William LEEDS.3


There are seemingly endless reads “out there” on the question, Was William LEEDS a pirate?  At “Grove of the Other Gods,” you can read an imaginary speech by Leeds.  Old Burial Grounds of New Jersey: A Guide tickles one’s curiosity with, No-one “has found the treasure of an earlier pirate, William Leeds, a member of Captain Kidd’s crew in the 1600s [more at url].”  A cached version of Captain Kidd on the Raritan Bay – Pirates In Central Jersey, maintains, “Another reformed pirate mate of Captain Kidd who settled in Monmouth County was William Leeds.  He became a respected citizen, who was known for his wealth and his generosity.  Although some said he knew where Kidd’s treasure was buried, and that accounted for his wealth, most people felt he had just invested his ill-gotten money wisely.”  On a positive note, this read at least points out that, “Christ Church in Shrewsbury, and Christ Church in Middletown” “still benefit financially from the land Leeds bequeathed to them.  In FACT, the article continues, “This historical legacy of pirates existed through the 250th anniversary of Christ Church in Middletown, when parishioners dressed as pirates ‘raided’ Christ Church in Shrewsbury and carried back historical treasures owned jointly by the two churches to use during the celebration.” !!!

I dunno about you but, I call that, A good time is being had by all involved?!  (Um, with LEEDS‘ alleged pirate career?…)  It would even seem, it’s in many’s interests to perpetuate the unproved myth of William LEEDS, Jr.’s, pirating.

Takes my mind wandering back up to mid-blog-post here, at, The New England Historical Society positing, “William Kidd, the Pirate Who Was Framed”…  And perhaps William LEEDS along with KIDD, centuries later…  (You can be sure I’ll return to this subject at a future date should I find solid evidence.)  In the meantime, if you’re interested in the subject, just Google “William Leeds” & “Captain Kidd” — the names in quotes, just like that — and you’ll pull read after read after read after read…
1 “New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817,” “William Leeds” (June 20, 1735, residence Middletown, Monmouth, New Jersey), Ancestry.com at https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2793/32669_236594-00301/18817?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/79831532/person/34512928051/facts/citation/662068180118/edit/record , accessed Oct. 30, 2018.
2 CentralJersey.com, Greater Media Newspapers Archives, “Dedication marks start of church’s 300th year House of worship helped define historic ‘Four Corners’ since 1769,” Staff Writer Julie Kirsh, December, 2001; at https://www1.gmnews.com/2001/12/28/dedication-marks-start-of-churchs-300th-year-house-of-worship-helped-define-historic-four-corners-since-1769/ , accessed Oct., 2018.
3 “Red Bank Register Newspaper Archives,” “Browse By Date,” “Issues of 1935,” “January 10,” at , accessed Oct. 30, 2018.
4 FindAGrave.com memorials no. 30313329, “William Leeds,” at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/30313329 & 46275447, “William Leeds,” at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/46275447/william-leeds [same William, two memorials…], both accessed Oct. 20, 2018.
5 FindAGrave.com memorial no. 80224968, “Dorothea Scilton Leeds,” at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/80224968/dorothea-leeds , accessed Oct. 20, 2018.
6 New England Historical Society, “William Kidd, the Pirate Who Was Framed,” at http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/william-kidd-pirate-framed/ , accessed Oct. 30, 2018.
7A “Grove of the Other Gods,” “William Leeds,” at http://www.othergods.org/research/piratescripts/leedsspeech.html .  7B Old Burial Grounds of New Jersey: A Guide, 1994, Janice Kohl Sarapin; Rutgers University Press – Travel,” at https://books.google.com/books?id=uDfIJt5RFWgC&pg=PA44&lpg=PA44&dq=%22William+leeds%22+%26+%22captain+kidd%22&source=bl&ots=aygk5SPY7V&sig=QipnbSmuCOuniaLK2pK-NcMs0es&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjfoavTnq_eAhXC54MKHcJ8AkkQ6AEwBHoECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22William%20leeds%22%20%26%20%22captain%20kidd%22&f=false7C Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District, “Captain Kidd on the Raritan Bay – Pirates In Central Jersey,” at https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:jcp1DRsH7wwJ:https://www.marsd.org/cms/lib/NJ01000603/Centricity/Domain/209/pirates_-CAPTAIN_KIDD_ON_THE_RARITAN_BAY.docx+&cd=10&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us ; all three, accessed Oct. 30, 2018.


Posted in Ancestry, APPLEGATE, Capt. William KIDD, Christ Church of Middletown & Shrewsbury New Jersey, Family HIstory, Genealogy, LEEDS, Quakers, SCILTON | Tagged , | Leave a comment

leeds: rhoda ann (rudy) leeds, daughter of james leeds & rody bayard

LEEDS is one of my “favorite” family lines from a research perspective, home as it is to:  • The legendary Jersey Devil [see my January, 2018 post, starting your family history research]; and, • Daniel LEEDS, my immigrant ancestor in this line and, compiler of the first almanacs in this country, in 1687, continuing until 1716, when his sons Felix and Titan succeeded him, with whom fellow almanac-maker Benjamin Franklin himself engaged in an ongoing feud [more on that in another blog post]; and other colorful characters.1

Rhoda Ann (Rudy) LEEDS & George GREGGER2

My LEEDS connections begin at my 3rd great grandmother Rhoda Ann (Rudy) LEEDS (Oct. 1, 1797 New Jersey, USA–June 21, 1864 probably Ohio; burial Mount Olive Cemetery, Felicity, Clermont County, Ohio, USA) who married George GREGGER (about 1798 Pennsylvania, USA–Oct. 13, 1869 Ohio, USA; Mount Olive Cemetery) on Mar. 27, 1818, in Hamilton County, Ohio.

While I’m uncertain of George’s parents, Great-Grandma Rudy was the daughter of American Revolutionary War veteran James LEEDS (1762 Gloucester County, New Jersey Colony–1841 Sangamon County, Illinois, USA; burial unknown), a Private in Captain Higby’s Company of the New Jersey Militia3, & Rhoda (Rody) BAYARD (abt. 1764–?; burial unknown).

James LEEDS & wife Rody BAYARD, members of the Society of Friends (Quakers), emigrated from New Jersey with their five sons and three daughters on May 15, 1806, settling near Moscow, Clermont County, Ohio.4

      “The girls married farmers, and three of the sons became farmers also; the whole six settling in Clermont county.  One son, Josiah, learned the hatter’s trade, and Peter T., the subject of this sketch, selected a profession, and commenced the study of medicine at the age of twenty,” John Powers’ History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois, tells us.4  My 3rd great grandma Rhoda Ann (Rudy) was of course one of those sisters marrying a farmer — George GREGGER — and settling in Clermont county.

From the 1850 & 1860 U.S. Federal Censuses I’ve “found” the following nine children for George & Rudy GREGGER (that they may have had more is entirely possible):  • My 2nd great-grandfather Emanuel H. (1820 Ohio–1910 Ohio) [See my April 20, 2015, blog post, “three years shy of 100:  emanuel h. greger”]; • Abraham M. (Abram) (1823 Ohio–1893 Ohio); • John Franklin (abt. 1829 Ohio– ); • George W. (1829 Ohio–1910); • Mary A. (Polly) (Abt. 1832 Ohio–abt. 1868 Indiana); • Robert Chaffin (1837 Illinois–1880 Illinois); • Thrussey (1839 Ohio–1865 likely Ohio); • Jerome Walter (1840 Ohio–1914 Missouri); &, • Josephus (abt. 1843 Ohio–bef. 1860).  Josephus appears to have died in childhood.

More to come on this line from my nearest immigrant ancestor in it, Daniel LEEDS of Leeds, England, on down.

The Daily Union History of Atlantic City and County, New Jersey: Containing Sketches of the Past and Present of Atlantic City and County, John F. Hall; 1900, Daily Union Printing Company, Atlantic City, New Jersey, at https://archive.org/stream/dailyunionhistor00inhall/dailyunionhistor00inhall_djvu.txt , accessed October, 2018.
Photo contributed to FindAGrave.com by Karri Samson to “George GREGGER” memorial, number 134462653, at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/134462653/george-gregger ; accessed October, 2018.
“U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900,” “Survivor’s Pension Application” for “James LEEDS,” Ancestry.com, at https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1995/MIUSA1775D_136125-00202/36100?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/79831532/person/34405383924/facts/citation/203429397467/edit/record#?imageId=MIUSA1775D_136125-00205 , accessed Oct., 2018.
4 History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois. “Centennial Record”, by John Carroll Power, “Assisted By His Wife, Mrs. S. A. Power,” “Under The Auspices Of The Old Settlers Society;” Springfield, Illinois: Edwin A. Wilson & Co., 1876; via Ancestry.com, at https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/18513/dvm_LocHist005468-00231-1/450?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/79831532/person/34405383924/facts/citation/203444107930/edit/record , accessed October, 2018.
The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio, “Compiled Under the Direction of Frank D. Henderson, The Adjutant General; John R. Rea, Military Registrar; Daughters of American Revolution of Ohio.  Jane Dowd Dailey (Mrs. O. D.), State Chairman;” F. J. Heer Printing Company; Columbus, Ohio; 1929; Vol. III, “Roster listings,” at https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/20105/dvm_LocHist006390-00572-0/1100?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/79831532/person/34405383924/facts/citation/203444112820/edit/record , accessed October, 2018.



Posted in Ancestry, BAYARD, Family HIstory, Genealogy, GREGER, LEEDS, Quakers | Tagged , | Leave a comment

saints of july: way-back great-grandpa canute the holy, king of denmark

Among saints who celebrate a feast day in the month of July is my roughly 26th great-grandfather1, King of Denmark Canute IV of Denmark (born circa 1040–murdered July 10, 1086, as he knelt in front of the altar of Saint Alban’s Church in Odense, Denmark2,3), aka Canute the Holy / St. Canute IV / Canute IV Knud the Holy Of Denmark, and various variations thereof.

Murder of St. Canute the Holy:  1843 Christian Albrecht von Benzon (1816-1849) painting3

Per Wikipedia3“Canute was an ambitious king who sought to strengthen the Danish monarchy, devotedly supported the Roman Catholic Church, and had designs on the English throne.  Slain by rebels in 1086, he was the first Danish king to be canonized.  He was recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as patron saint of Denmark in 1101.”  Wikipedia continues:

“Canute was born c. 1042, one of the many sons of Sweyn II Estridsson.  He is first noted as a member of Sweyn’s 1069 raid of England, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that Canute was one of the leaders of another raid against England in 1075.  When returning from England in 1075, the Danish fleet stopped in the County of Flanders.  Because of its hostility towards William I of England, Flanders was a natural ally for the Danes.  He also led successful campaigns to Sember and Ester, according to skald Kálfr Mánason.

St. Canute, King of Denmark4

“When Sweyn died, Canute’s brother Harald III was elected king, and as Canute went into exile in Sweden, he was possibly involved in the active opposition to Harald.  On 17 April 1080, Harald died; and Canute succeeded him to the throne of Denmark…  On his accession, he married Adela, daughter of Count Robert I of Flanders.  She bore him one son, Charles (a name uncommon in Denmark in 1084…), and twin daughters Cæcilia (who married Erik Jarl) and Ingerid (who married Folke the Fat), born shortly before his death (ca. 1085/86).  Ingerid’s descendants, the House of Bjelbo, would ascend to the throne of Sweden and Norway and Canute IV’s blood returned to the Danish throne in the person of first Olaf II of Denmark.

King of Denmark
“Canute quickly proved himself to be a highly ambitious king as well as a devout one.  He enhanced the authority of the church, and demanded austere observation of church holidays.  He gave large gifts to the churches in Dalby, Odense, Roskilde, and Viborg, and especially to Lund.  Ever a champion of the Church, he sought to enforce the collection of tithes.  His aggrandizement of the church served to create a powerful ally, who in turn supported Canute’s power position.

“In May 1085, Canute wrote a letter of donation to Lund Cathedral which was under construction, granting it large tracts of lands in Scania, Zealand, and Amager.  He founded Lund Cathedral School at the same time.  Canute had gathered the land largely as pay for the pardon of outlawed subjects.  The clerics at Lund got extended prerogatives of the land, being able to tax and fine the peasantry there.  However, Canute kept his universal royal rights to pardon the outlaws, fine subjects who failed to answer his leding[sic] call to war, and demand transportation for his retinue.

“His reign was marked by vigorous attempts to increase royal power in Denmark, by stifling the nobles and keeping them to the word of the law.  Canute issued edicts arrogating to himself the ownership of common land, the right to the goods from shipwrecks, and the right to inherit the possessions of foreigners and kinless folk.  He also issued laws to protect freed thralls as well as foreign clerics and merchants.  These policies led to discontent among his subjects, who were unaccustomed to a king claiming such powers and interfering in their daily lives.

Aborted attempt on England
“But Canute’s ambitions were not purely domestic.  As the grandnephew of Canute the Great, who ruled England, Denmark and Norway until 1035, Canute considered the crown of England to be rightfully his.  He therefore regarded William I of England as a usurper.  In 1085, with the support of his father-in-law Count Robert and Olaf III of Norway, Canute planned an invasion of England and called his fleet in leding at the Limfjord.  The fleet never set sail, as Canute was preoccupied in Schleswig due to the potential threat of Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, with whom both Denmark and Flanders were on unfriendly terms.  Canute feared the invasion of Henry, whose enemy Rudolf of Rheinfelden had sought refuge in Denmark.

“The warriors of the fleet, mostly made up of peasants who needed to be home for the harvest season, got weary of waiting, and elected Canute’s brother Olaf (the later Olaf I of Denmark) to argue their case.  This raised the suspicion of Canute, who had Olaf arrested and sent to Flanders.  The leding was eventually dispersed and the peasants tended to their harvests, but Canute intended to reassemble within a year.

“Before the fleet could reassemble, a peasant revolt broke out in Vendsyssel, where Canute was staying, in early 1086.  Canute first fled to Schleswig, and eventually to Odense.  On 10 July 1086, Canute and his men took refuge inside the wooden St. Alban’s Priory in Odense.  The rebels stormed into the church and slew Canute, along with his brother Benedict and seventeen of their followers, before the altar.  According to chronicler Ælnoth of Canterbury, Canute died following a lance thrust in the flank.  He was succeeded by Olaf as Olaf I of Denmark.

ecause of his martyrdom and advocacy of the Church, Canute quickly began to be considered a saint.  Under the reign of Olaf, Denmark suffered from crop failure, which was seen as divine retribution for the sacrilege killing of Canute.  Miracles were soon reported as taking place at his grave, and his canonization was already being sought during the reign of Olaf.

“On 19 April 1101, persuaded by the envoys from Eric III of Denmark, Pope Paschal II confirmed the ‘cult of Canute’ that had arisen, and King Canute IV was canonized as a saint under the name San Canuto.  He was the first Dane to be canonized.  10 July is recognised by the Catholic Church as his feast day.  In Sweden and Finland he is historically, however, partially associated with St. Knut’s Day, which in reality was celebrated in the memory of the death of his nephew, Canute Lavard. [<- Underlining, my own:  the two men are often confused.]

In 1300, his remains and those of his brother Benedict were interred in Saint Canute’s Cathedral, built in his honour, where his remains are on display.

“The reign of Canute has been interpreted differently through the times; from a violent king who tyrannized his subjects, to a strict but fair ruler who devotedly supported the Roman Catholic Church and fought for justice without regard to his own person.  He was never a thoroughly popular saint in Denmark, but his sainthood granted the Danish monarchy an aura of divine legitimacy.  The cause of the rebellion which killed Canute is unknown, but has been speculated as originating in fines issued to the peasants breaking the leding of 1085 as specified in the Chronicon Roskildense, or as a result of his vigorous tithe policy.

“The document of his donation to Lund Cathedral was the oldest comprehensive text from Denmark, and provided broad insights into Danish post-Viking Age society.  The donation might have had the aim of establishing the Danish Archdiocese of Lund according to Sweyn II Estridsson’s wishes, which was finally achieved in 1104.  Canute’s son Carl became Count of Flanders from 1119 to 1127, ruling as Charles the Good.  Like his father, Charles was martyred in a church by rebels (in Bruges, 1127), and later beatified.  According to Niels Lund, Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Copenhagen, Canute’s abortive invasion of England ‘marked the end of the Viking Age.’

“In 2008, an X-ray computed tomography was taken of Canute, which showed that he was right-handed and of a slender build.  It also specified his cause of death as a thrust to the sacrum through the abdomen, negating Ælnoth’s account.  He had no injuries indicating he fought against multiple enemies, which can be seen as supporting an account saying he faced his death without a struggle.”3

Grave of King Canute IV the Holy of Denmark at Odense Cathedral aka St. Canute’s Church; in Odense, Denmark3

Here’s a lighter bio-read for the children 🙂 :  St. Canute,” reads the “Holy Spirit Interactive Kids Zone:” …

“…was a strong, wise king of Denmark and was called Knud IV.  He was a great athlete, an expert horseman, and a marvelous general.  He married Adela, sister of Count Roberts of Flanders.

“At the beginning of his reign, he led a war against the barbarians and his army defeated them.  He loved the Christian faith so much that he introduced it to people who had never heard of Christianity.  Through his kingdom, he spread the gospel, built churches and supported missionaries.

“St. Canute knelt in church at the foot of the altar and offered his crown to the King of kings, Jesus.  King Canute was very charitable and gentle with his people.  He tried to help them with their problems.  Most of all, he wanted to help them be true followers of Jesus.

“But trouble started in his kingdom because of the laws he had made about supporting the Church and he fled to the Island of Fünen. Then one day some angry people went to the church of Saint Alban where Canute and some of his followers were praying. He knew they had come to harm him.

“While his enemies were still outside, King Canute received the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion.  He felt compassion for those who were upset enough to kill him.  With all his heart he forgave his enemies.

“Then, as he prayed, a spear was thrown through a window and he was killed.  It was July 10, 1086.

“St. Canute tried to be a good king so he could thank Jesus for all the blessings he had received.  We, too, should thank God every day and offer him a crown made up of good deeds.”4

Bronze Statue of St. Canute at old Albani Church in Odense6

My ascent to Danish King St. Canute the Holy goes from my great-grandfather Carl Johan Eilertsen Fjelse (1848 Fjelse nedre Br.74, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway-Aft. Apr 1911 Norway) as follows:
-> Ellert Tollaksen Haugland (1806 Fjelse nedre Br.38.\Haugland, Hidra, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway-Aft. 1864)
-> Tollak Eriksen Osen (1768 Osen, Bakke, Vest Agder, Norway-Nov. 15, 1852 Fjelse nedre Br.37 II\Haugland, Hidra, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Erik Tollaksen Sporkland (Aug., 1723 Sporkland, Bakke, Vest Agder, Norway-June, 1811 Osen\Husmannsplass u\Prestegården, Bakke, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Tollak Johannessen Sporkland (1689 Sporkland Br.1.III, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway-Bef. Sept. 7, 1763 Sporkland Br.1.IV, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Johannes Tollaksen Sporkland (Abt. 1653 Sporkland Br.1. II, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway-Bef. June 10, 1742 Sporkland Br.1.IV, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Tollak Sigbjørnsen Sporkland (Sporkland Br.1.I, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway-Apr. 2, 1685 Sporkland Br.1.II, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Sigbjørn Tollaksen Sandsmark (1611, lived at Sandsmark ytre, Bakke, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Tollak Sigbjørnsen Stordrange (Apr. 1, 1658 Sandsmark ytre, Bakke, Vest Agder, Norway-Bef. 1598 Storedrange, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Sigbjørn Torlaksen Drange (1530 Drange, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway- )
-> Torlak Gunnersen Stordrange (Bef. 1500 Stordrange Br.4.IV., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway- )
-> Gunnar Asbjørnsen Tengs aka Gunnar Osbjornson (1470 Tengs, Egersund, Rogaland, Norway-1546 Drangeid Br.4.IV, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Unknown Gunbjørnsdtr Tengs (Tengs, Bjerkreim, Rogaland, Norway-same)
-> Gunnbjørn Tordsen Tengs (Tengs, Egersund, Rogaland, Norway-Aft. 1486 same)
-> Tore Gardsen Garå aka Tord (Tore) Gardson Benkestok (Abt. 1400 Garå, Talgje, Norway-Abt. 1454 same)
-> Ramborg Knutsdtr Lejon (Abt. 1360 Sweden-Aft. 1408 Finnø, Norway)
-> Knut Algotsen Lejon Folkunge IX aka Knut Algotsen
-> Algot Brynjulfson aka Algot Brynjulfson of Vestergtland
-> Brynjulf Bengtsen Lejon Gotland aka Brynjulf Bengtson
-> Bengt Magnusson aka II Bengt Hagfridsen Lejon; Bengt Hafridsson or Magnusson [“Lagmann:” attorney]
-> Magnus Eskilsson aka Peter Nef Eskildsen; Magnus Christinasson [“Lagmann:” attorney]
-> Eskild Magnussen [“Lagmann:” attorney]
-> Magnus Minneskold Bengtsson Folkunga aka Magnus Bengtsson Minneskjold Folkunga; Magnus Bengtsson
-> Bengt Snivel Folkunga aka Bengt Folkeson Snivel Folkunga; Benedikt Folkesen
-> Ingerid, or, Ingrid of Demark Knudsdtr.1
1 Norwegian genea
logist Signe Elisabeth Zijdemans, Flekkefjord, Vest-Agder county, Norway, “Ahnentafel of Sally Marie Eilertsen Fjelse” [“Knut IV SVEINSEN Den hellige…son of Konge Sven ESTRIDSEN…& Dronning Rannveig TORDSDTR Aurland”]prepared Oct.  23, 2001; source, Norwegian bygdebøker; in possession of myself.
2 “For All the Saints,” website of St. Patrick’s Church, Washington, D.C., “Canute IV of Denmark,” accessed Jan., 2002.
3 Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “Canute IV of Denmark,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canute_IV_of_Denmark , accessed July, 2018.  (Wikipedia source citations omitted in the above; see Wikipedia for at link indicated.).
4 Image of St. Canute, from the Catholic Exchange, at https://catholicexchange.com/st-canute-king-of-denmark , accessed July, 2018.
5 The “Holy Spirit Interactive Kids Zone,” “St. Canute,” at http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/kids/saints/0119.asp , accessed July 18, 2018.
6 Image of St. Canute statue from Visit Odense website at https://www.visitodense.com/ln-int/canute-holy-gdk664346 , accessed July, 2018.

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Norwegian Names – Naming Patterns in Norway

Liv Birgit Christensen’s blog post, “Norwegian Names – Naming Patterns in Norway,” breaks it down to as simple as possible.  Read & learn.

Genealogical research in Norway

To keep things simple this is the basic structure of naming traditions in Norway. The Norwegian name consists of three parts:

  • Given name
  • Patronym (The use of a component of a personal name which is the fathers name ending in son or daughter)
  • Last name (Farm name)

Let us now explore each of these three parts.

Given name

Children in Norway were traditionally named after their grandparents. The tradition exists still today, but is much less practiced.

  • Oldest son named after father’s father
  • Oldest daughter named after father’s mother
  • Second oldest son named after mother’s father
  • Second oldest daughter named after mother’s mother

Patronyms and the law of 1923

In 1923, the Family Name Act set the following standards:

  • women should take their husband’s surname and
  • the new surname should have one spelling.

Patronyms were generally used before this law. A patronym is the use of a component of a personal name…

View original post 182 more words

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what does a blogger do without a computer: oh my…

What does a blogger do without a computer?  Cease blogging while she makes up for her blogging silence with a major step-up in her Facebook posts; a virtual love affair with Instagram; and, non-stop talking to all who come in contact with her?

In my case, Pretty much, yep.  😀

Some of you may have noticed I’ve been “gone.”  To those of you who haven’t, well gosh.  I hereby vow to become more miss-able in the future.

Reasons for my absence:  computer issues, plus a little R & R.

I can Facebook and, Instagram on my cellphone — yes, I just used “Facebook,” and, “Instagram” as verbs… 😮 — the evolution of language today, huh?! — and, one can, technically, also blog on one’s cell, BUT:  my cellphone’s relatively minuscule size makes that a less than even reasonably pleasant venture?

But I am now, baaack! 🙂  (I have missed YOU all, tremendously.  Kiss kiss.  Big hug. 😉 )

Thank You, Feedspot!

And while I was away, what should land in my email Inbox but, a correspondence from Feedspot founder Anuj Agarwal telling me that, TheMixThatMakesUpMe was selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 100 Genealogy Blogs on the web.1 😮

I’m feeling pretty humbled.  Thank you, Anuj.

Look for my next g.-post, peeps! 🙂
1 Feedspot’sTop 100 Genealogy Blogs and Websites in 2018 for Genealogists and Family History Researchers:  https://blog.feedspot.com/genealogy_blogs/ ; accessed July, 2018.

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the first house i lived in: the old homestead…

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 13 prompt:  The Old Homestead.
Six-fifty-one Knickerbocker Street.  The old homestead.  Sigh.  The first place in which I have recollections of being.  In my mind it’s a grand place, that grandness only slightly diminished by seeing it in recent decades and realizing its smallness and complete lack of grandeur.

Below, how it was in 1948:  barely visible, really, my tiny summer-born self the center of attention in this particular photo, but unfortunately this pic is all I have to remember the old homestead by photograph-wise.

1948: Me & my mum in front of the old homestead — 651 Knickerbocker Street.1

And, how the old homestead looked more than six decades later, in 2015:

A 2015 Google Earth image of the old homestead1

Initially I feel sobered by the 2015 image.  Confused.  My mouth opening in that “O.”  This isn’t 651 Knickerbocker, my mind protests.  Except it is.

But childhood memories win out:  as the image above fades from my head, 1948-through-early-1950s ones rise to the surface triumphantly, too strong to be vanquished by a little reality.

See those four windows across the front of the 2015 pic?  They didn’t used to be there.  Behind them is a huge porch that for us was open wide.  It contains my very earliest memory, in fact:  “Why do I have this faint memory of sleeping in a baby stroller on the Knickerbocker front porch in the dead of winter?” I asked my father one day as an adult.

“Because you did,” he laughed.  “Your Norwegian grandmother Rosalie was convinced it made babies hardy.  No-one could talk her out of it.  All you kids were set out on the porch for an hour or two for winter naps.”  Talk about one’s mouth falling open in that “O.”  (This is an actual custom in Scandinavian countries, I later learned.2)

The old homestead was the greatest place to play.  See those three windows above the four lower, in the 2015 image?  That was my and my two sisters’ bedroom.  A vast, long room with sun streaming in from near all along the front and, one side.  A play heaven.

Our yard out back of the old homestead was fenced in, our wonderful collie Mitzi always up for some playing; concord grapes for snacks climbing all over a wooden grape arbor with a bench to sit on underneath; an old-fashioned clothesline:  the yard seemed to go on & on.  Flowers dotted it, my mom being the gardener.  Lots of old-fashioned types flourished, peonies and hollyhocks and such.

And right down the street from 651 Knickerbocker?!  Oh my:  a whole lake.  A park to go along with it and, one edge of the university arboretum adjacent, where faeries were alleged to live in trees and, actual deer ran & grazed.  A “wild place.”  (What child doesn’t love, wild places?  Especially a child whose first playmate is an older brother…)

Adorable, teeny tree frogs were abundant in those days right in one’s front yard, and, take a hike with an older brother into the swampy depths of the arboretum and there were BIG frogs, turtles — all sorts of interesting creatures, bugs and wonders.

Stroll UP Knickerbocker and, there were railroad tracks running behind the houses on Gregory Street.  TRAINS — which I love to this day — made their wonderfully noisy way along the tracks several times daily.  (These days, it’s a hiking path.)

To the west, maybe six short blocks away, sat the imposing building I would go to kindergarten in:  Dudgeon Elementary School.  The older kids called it “Dungeon,” but I thought it looked like a castle.

Dudgeon Elementary School, Madison, Dane, Wisconsin.3

The world was different then, so I walked alone, to and from Dudgeon each day.  (My brother now an attendee of Blessed Sacrament, my own next stop after kindergarten.)

In the wintertime, the Dudgeon School hill was the best sledding.  Launching from off the small hill way top, we’d often be carried by the momentum clear to the bottom.  The whole neighborhood came to sled there:  big kids, little kids, grown-ups.

Nothing measuring up to fond memories, there will simply never be as grand a place to grow up in as, that old homestead… 😉
1 Family photos of the author’s.
2 “Why Norwegian Parents Let Their Kids Nap In Below-Freezing Temperatures,” at https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/why-norwegian-babies-sleep-outside/ , accessed Apr., 2018.
3 Dudgeon Elementary School, Madison, Dane, Wisconsin, USA:  photo source, year taken, unknown.

Posted in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2018 Edition, Ancestry, Family HIstory, Genealogy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

remembering annie etter: april, sexual assault awareness month

“MURDER IN READING  Annie ETTER, a fifteen-year-old girl of Reading was found on Sunday morning bruised and bleeding in a wood shed.  She was found in an unconscious condition and was removed to a hospital where she died on Sunday.  George Gantz, a 21 year old man of Reading, was arrested on Saturday evening for disorderly conduct.  It was ascertained that he had blood stains on his hands and chin and after being closely questioned he made a partial confession to the crime.  He admitted that he met the girl on Saturday evening and said they took a trolley ride.  He then pretended to see her safely home but in stead took her into an alley, through an open lot into a shedding where the deed was committed.  The young girl resisted his advancements and it appears a violent struggle was the result in which the young man struck the girl upon the head with either a board or bottle as numerous broken bottles lay close by.  The girls skull was fractured which caused her death.  The young man has a reputation for being of intemperate habits and he must have been under the influence of liquor when the deed was committed.”1


Annie L. ETTER (born September 6, 1888 Pennsylvania, United States of America, died October 26, 1901 Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania; buried Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania)2, was the daughter of David ETTER (1866–1940) & Kate A. FISHER (1866–1954).  Annie is a 3rd cousin twice removed from me via her great-grandmother Susanna (Anna) (FESSIG/FASIG) ETTER (1803-After Sept. 3, 1850), who is a 3rd great-grandaunt (some say, “4th great-aunt”) of mine.

At the time of her death Annie was the oldest of her parents’ five living children; an older sibling, born sometime after David & Kate’s 1885 marriage, had died before the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.  Remaining were Annie, Paul D., age 10; Ruth, age eight; Esther E., age five; &, toddler Mary ETTER.3  Annie’s dad David was employed as a hatter pouncer for the John Hendel Hat Company.4

Hanged for the Murder of Annie Etter
He Makes a Statement in Which He Declares He Was Not in a Responsible Condition When He Committed the Crime.5

      “George Gantz, the slayer of Annie Etter, was hanged in the Berks county prison yard yesterday morning.

      “He was deeply penitent, but went to his death calmly, walking to the gallows apparently unmoved. The drop fell at 10.15. The execution differed from all others so far as the attendance was concerned. There was [can’t read] solemnity inside the prison walls but without there were eager crowds, scurrying here and there to different spots of vantage; some as close to the prison yard gate as the police would allow; others along the driveways and seated as close to the jail as possible. Men, women and children to the number of at least 500, congregated outside. Some were discussing the murder, various opinions being given. There was general expectancy. among the crowd that something might happen inside the prison yard that might be heard on the outside. Some thought that Gantz might break into a fury on the scaffold.

      “But nothing of the kind occurred and the crowd saw or heard nothing until seven minutes after eleven when the prison doors were opened and the dead body of Gantz resting in a closed coffin was carried out and placed in the undertakers wagon.

      “Sheriff Mogel, accompanied by Coroner Moyer and the jury arrived at the prison at 9.45 o’clock. A short time before that hour Sergeant Edwards and Officers Auchter, Rothermel, Kirschman, Miller, Ludwig, Hintz, Grimmer, Lewis and Bowman marched up in a body and were stationed at different points outside of the prison to keep the crowd in order. Sheriff Mogel ushered the jurymen into the Inspectors room where they remained until a short time before the execution. The jurors were as follows: Frank B. Brown of Leesport; James M. Yeager, Sixth ward; Calvin A. Miller, Fleetwood; C. R. Grim, Maxatawny; Edward Elbert, Third ward; Charles J. Lesher, Twelfth ward; George G. Baker Cumru; David H. Baird, Hamburg; Dr. C. M. Bachman, Eighth ward; Aug. Bartels, Ninth ward; Irwin F. Maurer, Sixth ward; Jonathan Lutz, Twelfth ward.

      “County Commissioner Gunkel was accompanied1 by Sheriff Milnor, of Lycoming county, from whom the gallows was secured for the execution. Sheriff Thomas L. McMichael of Lancaster county, and Sheriff Weiderlick, of Lehigh county, also were present.

      “Some of the prison inspectors, a number of the county authorities, Rev. Dr. Brownmiller, Garrett Stevens, Jr., and four reporters constituted the balance of the spectators.

      “Monday night the condemned man was in a disturbed frame of mind. He did not retire to his cot until 1.30 Tuesday morning. By his request, Rev. Dr. Brownmiller remained with him all evening, leaving at twelve o’clock. The fact is that Gantz almost broke down yesterday afternoon, but mastered himself and regained the courage which stood him in good stead until the last breath of life was taken. He was considerably more cheerful after his spiritual adviser’s visit, and chatted a little with his death watch, Moses Hoffert, who had been on guard in front of the cell door for 26 days. Watchman Jacob Becker also spoke to him for a little while. Then, as at many other times, Gantz expressed his sorrow that his young life should be cut short in so ignominous a manner.

      “Whenever any reference was made by Gantz to the deed charged against him, he expressed great pity for the girl, saying that had he been in his right mind he would not have touched a hair of her head to injure her. He greatly deplored that he had allowed drink to overpower his better judgment.

      “He heard with interest of the efforts his counsel, Garrett Stevens, Jr., had made to secure a reprieve from Governor Stone. He was very grateful to his attorney for the trip taken to Harrisburg yesterday, and the parting between Mr. Stevens and the condemned man was quite affecting. Gantz expressed sincere gratitude for all that his attorney had done for him. Early Tuesday morning, at about 5 o’clock, the condemned man awoke and dressed. He noticed later in the morning that the sun was shining brightly without and commented: ‘Well, I see my last day on earth is a fine one.’ A cool statement, but nothing toward the cool and unfaltering manner in which the young man passed through the ordeal yet to come. At eight o’clock a fine breakfast was brought to Gantz, consisting of oatmeal, squab, cake and bread.

      “He looked at it disinterestedly. Not a bite would he take, simply drank a little coffee and resumed that contemplative demeanor which has caused him to become known among the prison officials as a model prisoner. After breakfast he was shaved by one of the prisoners, Elwood Schlaub.

    “Rev. Dr. Brownmiller arrived early and by Gantz’s request took a statement for publication. It is as follows, as dictated by the condemed man: ‘Tell them that my last words were that I positively know nothing how it happened (the crime), and knew not that it happened until they (the officers) told me. It wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have been drunk. I am very sorry for the deed and heartily repent, and face death with bright hopes of a better life.’ Some other private statements were made and it is said that Gantz believed that some other verdict should have been made, claiming that he did not commit the deed from malice or that it was premeditated. Furthermore, he did not believe that he had outraged [raped] the girl. For this reason his one wish was that the girl might have regained consciousness and told the real story of the occurrence. After Gantz had attired himself in his best suit, with laydown collar, link cuffs and a generally spruce appearance, he awaited’ the coming of the sheriff.

    “At ten minutes past ten the cell door was opened and he stepped out, with Sheriff Mogel on one side of him and Rev. Dr. Brownmiller on the other. The jurymen brought up the rear. Gantz marched forward with a steady step, Rev. Brownmiller by his side reading aloud a prayer. He briskly ascended the steps to the gallows and found the proper place to stand over the trap door without hesitation. Dr. Brownmiller followed, robed in the vestments of the Lutheran clergy. On the steps Gantz had smiled a little to himself. Sheriff Mogel’s deputies, John C. Bradley and Jacob H. Sassaman then adjusted the handcuffs, Gantz’s arms being pinioned behind him. They were carefully strapped, as were his lower limbs. Then before the black cap was placed over his head, Dr. Brownmiller read a prayer for the dead, which the condemned man repeated after him. A benediction was then pronounced, God’s mercy being pleaded for in behalf ot the unfortunate young man.

    “Dr. Brownmiller then in a tremulous voice said ‘Well, good-bye, George,’ and kissed him upon the cheek. There was gratefulness in the young man’s voice and face as he answered in a whisper ‘Good-bye.’ He had winced a little when the rope was tightened, but said not a word. He did not even tremble at the last moment, but stood erect and in this position continued with wonderful grit until the sheriff at 10.15 o’clock pressed the lever. It was noticed at once when the body dropped that the rope had slipped and that instead of its lodging under the left ear, It had caught him at the base of the skull. There was therefore some apprehension lest the execution would not be a success. The body gave several convulsive twitches and then was quiet. But the heart beat on. The physicians set the spectators at their ease by reporting at 10.26 that the pulse had ceased to beat. At 10.34 they announced that life was extinct. Deputy Sassaman then remounted the gallow steps and with a sharp knife cut the rope, attendants having hold of the body. Then it was placed upon a stretcher and carried into the rear prison corridor, where the handcuffs and straps were removed and lastly the black cap. The appearance of the dead man was not much changed. There was no expression of pain and it is believed that he suffered little. Drs. Schmehl and Wagner made an examination and Dr. Bachman, one of the Jury, joined them at their invitation.

    “It was then discovered, as It had been feared, that the murderer was strangled to death. If the rope had not slipped, the doctors said, the neck would have been broken and death would have resulted quicker. There were no abrasions upon the neck, the skin being only slightly discolored. Sheriff Milnor, who has operated the gallows himself in Lycoming county, said that the execution was very creditably done and that the slipping of a rope was an unavoidable occurrence. The authorities from other counties also assured the Berks officials that the hanging was in every way well conducted. The jurymen then signed the papers of the coroner and he then left with his report which is to be presented to court. In the meantime Undertaker Seidel brought a coffin and the body was delivered to him. It was carried out to the wagon in waiting in front of the prison. Dr. Brownmiller was not for a moment absent, having promised the young man that be would stay by his side until deposited in the undertaker’s wagon. The body was removed at 7 minutes after 11 to the home of his.brother-in-law, Harry D. Miller, [number jumbled] Mulberry street, from which place the funeral will take place in several days. The exact time will not be made public, so as to avoid a crowd. While in prison Gantz became friendly with the watchman and attendants. Those whom he caught sight of while going from his cell to. the gallows were greeted with ’good-byes.’ Warden Newcomet received a farewell in which Gantz expressed his appreciation of the kind treatment accorded him. …

    “Last Sunday, Garrett Stevens his counsel, spent some time in the [can’t read]. For two years he was struck[?], Gantz is said to have told condemned man’s cell. This statement was then dictated and signed by him: ‘At the trial I heard for the first time a full account of what I had done on the night of Saturday, the 26th of October last. I have always said, and still say, that I did not kill Annie Etter purposely, and until I was told by the chief of police, I did not even know that she had been hurt by me. Everybody was down on me at the time of my trial, and nobody would believe me when I said that I did not remember anything that took place on that night after we got on the car to come in from Stony Creek. I have tried to think what took place that night, but I can’t do it. Since I have been here I have realized what an awful thing it must have been, and I have been very, very sorry that things went the way they did, for I never thought even for an instant of doing anything to injure the poor girl. That was the first time we had ever been out together. I forgive everyone for the parts they have had to take in this case, and hope that I may be forgiven. The only place where I think a mistake was made was in the chief of police’s testimony. I never knew what took place and I can’t believe that I told him what he said I did. I have been kindly treated while here in prison and have nothing to complain of. Of course, no one wants to die in this manner, yet it is the punishment which the law makes for a thing of this kind.’

    “The murderous assault for which George Gantz paid the death penalty, occurred on Saturday night, October 26, 1901. The unfortunate young girl whom he fatally wounded while in a drunken rage, was Annie Etter, 15-year-old daughter of David Etter, at 428 Pearl street. She had left home that afternoon at 6.30 o’clock to visit relatives at 135 Poplar street. Shortly before 8 o’clock she left the latter place and was thought to have returned home, but she subsequently met Gantz by appointment and they went together to Stony Creek. About 11 p. m. the couple returned to town, walked down Sixth street and then down Franklin to Pearl. Their actions were noticed by a number of people who testified at the trial that the girl seemed to want to escape from Gantz, but that by pulling her by the arm and coaxing her, she finally accompanied him. She wanted to walk down Sixth street to Bingaman, but Gantz finally got her started down Franklin street, then compelled her to turn into Pearl street with him. He had been drinking heavily and several times had almost fallen while walking by the girl’s side.

      “About 100 feet from Franklin street, on Pearl, they arrived at a stable and there Gantz is said to have made a proposal to the girl which she opposed. He then forced her into the shed, beat her on the head with a board until she became unconscious and then outraged her, after which he took flight. People living in that vicinity heard the girl’s moans and notified the police department. Officer Benjamin Rhoda was sent to the scene, and was accompanied by Mahlon Bortz, an electric light in spector. In the shed they found the girl lying senseless, her head lying in a pool of blood. Her clothing were disarranged. Bortz then hurried away for a stretcher and the girl was carried to police station. Here it was seen that her condition was very serious and she was quickly removed to the Reading hospital. It was 12.45 o’clock when the patient was admitted. She was bleeding from her right nostril and right ear. An examination revealed that she had fracture In the vault of her skull, a transverse fracture over the head, lead-ins from temple to temple. The front of the skull was depressed. At 8 a. m. an operation was performed, piece of bone was removed from the temple, clots from the brain and the depressed portion of the skull raised. She did not regain consciousness, but died at 12.35 Sunday noon. The fatal injuries bore signs that they were inflicted with a board and the bruises on the face are supposed to have been caused by Gantz’s fist.5

Annie L. ETTER’s grave marker at the Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.6

      “In the meantime Gantz was arrested and locked up at police station. Chief Miller, questioned him regarding the affair and Gantz is said to have made a confession to the effect that the girl had resisted him, but that he managed to get her into the stable, then picked up a board, felled [her?]. Chief District Attorney Rothermel was present when the statement was made to Chief Miller by Gantz. The trial came up in court at the December sessions. On Saturday, Dec. 14, the Jury was selected. It required a full day to do it. Sixty-seven names were considered, these being chosen: George T. Hawkins, colored, Ninth ward; Fred. Shilling, molder, Cumru; Solomon Stafford, farmer. Cumru: J. V. Shankweiler, storekeeper, Hereford; John A. Hiester, boat builder, First ward; John M. Rhoads, pipe cutter, Eighth ward; John Trexler, cabinetmaker, Longswamp; Adam S. Fisher, carpenter, Sinking Spring; J. K. Groman, 134 Schuylkill avene; Thomas C. Darrah, tax collector, Eleventh ward; George Melnholtz, contractor, Tenth ward; Howard C. Strauss, justice of the peace, Maidencreek. The case was opened for the prosecution by Harry P. Keiser, who related the, story of the crime, which was substantiated by witnesses. Garrett Stevens, Jr., opened for the defense the following’ morning (Tuesday). There were witnesses to testify that Gantz was an epileptic and that whenever he received any drink he was not his same self. When the testimony was all In, the prosecution had nothing to offer In rebuttal. Mr. Stevens addressed the jury with a tremor in his voice. ‘I come before you today almost brokenhearted,’ said he. ‘We have worked day and night to gather our testimony and had it all arranged. But now, as though we were some plague-stricken body, they have fallen away from us. Even the father of the boy has remained away. He on whom the son should rely has rendered himself a fit subject for pity. The father who has no greater love for his son than to leave him face the greatest of perils alone, is not a fit lather.’ On December 17 the jury brought in a verdict finding Gantz guilty of murder in the first degree. He was sentenced on April 26, 1902, to be hanged. The death warrant was signed by Governor Stone on July 11, and received by sheriff Mogel on the 18th inst. The whole proceedings dazed the youthful murderer. He resented the statements made by Chief Miller, claiming that he was not fairly dealt with and that he knew of no admissions. In fact, Gantz to his very best friends since then has said that the whole affair at the shed and afterward was a blank to him and that he did not realize the awful nature of the crime charged against him until he was in the court room and heard the stories of the witnesses.”5

Re the booklet shown below:  Why is it the Gantz tragedy?  Isn’t it more like, the Annie Etter tragedy?  Right:  let’s make the murderers famous, slide their victims into obscurity.  (How much would the board Gantz beat Annie to death with fetch on a collectibles site??  Or, one of those broken bottles?  [How about a fragment of Annie’s actual skull??])

As a society?  We haven’t come too far on this one…

Original 1901 Story Booklet Titled ‘The Gantz Tragedy.’ The Story of the Murder of Annie L. Etter from Reading PA. Discusses in detail the murder of Annie L. Etter. George Gantz beat her to death. He was executed by hanging. Measures 7 1/4″ by 5″. 32 pages. Few tears. Overall nice original condition.”7

1 USGenWeb Project, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, at http://www.montgomery.pa-roots.com/Newspapers/TownAndCountry/1901/nov021901.html , accessed Apr., 2018.
2 FindAGrave.com, “Annie Etter,” memorial no. 90082887 at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/90082887 , photo contributed by N.D. Scheidt.
3 U.S. Federal Census data:  1900 and, 1910 Censuses, “David ETTER” household.
4 What is a hatter pouncer? 😀  If you’re wondering, well, so did I, so I Googled and found a great explanation at, “The Custom Hatter,” http://custom-hatter.com/process.html ; browser address good as of Apr. 4, 2018.
5 The Reading Times newspaper, Reading, Pennsylvania; issue date Wednesday, September 24, 1902; page, 2, at https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/46508555/ , accessed Apr., 2018.
6 FindAGrave.com, “Annie Etter,” memorial no. 90082887 at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/90082887 , photo contributed by “Carol & Pete.”
7 Booklet image and, text in quotes beneath (i.e. caption), from WorthPoint.com, at https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/early-1901-gantz-tragedy-annie-etter-508815212 , accessed Apr., 2018.

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The Elusive Life of Hans Herr

This blog post by Eric Christensen is such an e-x-c-e-l-l-e-n-t piece of writing and, represents such g-o-o-d research that nOt reblogging it seems [somehow wasteful? ridiculous? a mistake? etc.]. Thus I AM reblogging it and, with a note of THANKS!, and, appreciation to Eric for sharing all his hard work with myself and other Herr descendants [<- of which, by my quite unscientific estimate, I am thinking there must be gazillions, just by how many I’ve encountered?!].  UPDATE:  I am currently in “suspense mode” as to whether or not I am, indeed, a descendant:  stay tuned… 😮 😉

Eric’s Roots

One great challenge in genealogy is trying to make sense of conflicting records, knowing full well that one can never have a definitive, fully documented answer, but must instead make the most educated guess that can be deduced from the available information. Such is the case with my eighth great grandfather Hans Herr. There are not only disagreements over who is wife was, but also over his birth year, his immigration year, and the birth years of some of his children.

Portrait of Hans Herr This picture of Hans Herr comes from Theodore Herr’s “Genealogical Record of Reverend Hans Herr,” and is said to come from a painting by John Funk.

I will start with a presentation of Hans Herr’s basic history, and then move on to the disputed facts of his life.

The Swiss Anabaptists

Hans Herr (also known as John Herr) was born in Switzerland. Most histories give his birth date as…

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“my imprisonment in bern was one year, seven months and seven days:” rev. benedictus brackbill, jr.

“On January 12th, 1709, the Government of Bern sent seven soldiers, with an usher, early in the morning to my house.  It frightened us so that my wife and I tried to hide.  I hid myself under a hay-stack.  They searched my house all through.  At last they came around to the hay and thrust their swords into it; they soon discovered me.  Then I came out, and they seized me, and asked me my name, and if I was a preacher, which I willingly acknowledged.  They then took me into my room, where two ushers gave me a smart blow on the ear; they bound my hands behind my back and took me out of my house.  My children cried and wept so pitifully that a heart of stone, as the saying is, would have been melted.  But the soldiers were very glad they had caught me.  They took me thence to the town of Bern, with two other brothers, put us in to prison, and that during the very long cold winter.  There we lay bound.  When we wanted to be warm, we had to pay dear for the wood.  After six or seven days they brought me into another prison.  There they chained me with iron chains.  The government had given 100 thalers to the men who had caught me, which same money my people had to pay out of my own private means.  After two days they brought me again to the tower, placed me in a small cell, and chained me with an iron chain.  So I lay eighteen weeks long.  Then they took me with all the other prisoners to the Spital.  There we had to work carding wool from four o’clock in the morning till eight in the evening.  They fed us on bread and water, but did not let us suffer in any other way.  That lasted thirty-five weeks.  For the last ten weeks the work was easier.  The whole time of my imprisonment in Bern was one year, seven months and seven days.  That was in the forty-fourth year of my age.”1

So wrote Swiss Anabaptist preacher Reverend Benedicht BRACKBILL, Jr. (1665 Baden District, Aargau, Switzerland21720 Strasburg, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Colonial America2; buried Strasburg Mennonite Cemetery, Strasburg, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States of America2) in a 1710 letter written at the request of the Dutch Anabaptist Commission of Inquiry at Amsterdam.1

My relationship to the good reverend is either 7th great-grandniece or, 10th great-granddaughter; the waters are muddied and, there’s dissension out there in genealogy-research-land as to his wives & issue.

I’m a 10th great-granddaughter if, as numerous genealogy researchers maintain, Reverend Benedicht was indeed married to Verena MEISTER3 (1675 Switzerland–1723 Strasburg, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Colonial America; buried Mennonite Church Cemetery, Lime Valley, Lancaster, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA4in addition to the more-universally-agreed-upon Bishop Hans Herr’s daughter Maria Margaretha HERR (1663 Zürich, Switzerland–1725 Pequea, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Colonial America; burial location unknown); as, that particular Maria HERR is my 7th great-grandaunt (“8th great-aunt”) in her own right.

Memorial Marker For Rev. “Benedictus” Brackbill at Strasburg Mennonite Cemetery, Strasburg, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA. [NOTE: Do not confuse such as this with genealogical “proof” of spouses / children. Ask yourself, Who erected this marker? When? Wherefrom comes their data?]5

If the reverend’s alleged marriage to Verena is erroneous, however, I shall call him Uncle instead of Grandpa.  I’m good either way:  he’s a heroic fellow and I’m proud to include him in my ancestry as uncle or granddad.

To the muddy marriage waters:  Benedicht’s marriage to Verena is said to have yielded three4,6 children, Frances/Verena (1685–1756)4, Francis Meister (1695– )4 & Magdalena (1699– )4; OR, Magdalena (1702– )6, Ulrich (1703– )6 & Barbara (1707– )6; which is possible date-wise (Verena Meister’s “about 1675” birthdate could be fudged back a few years) but sort of begs belief, as, “everybody out there” pretty much agrees that Benedicht & Maria Herr were married in 17017 — and, Benedicht & Maria Herr’s first child, Maudlin, was born in 1702  Where then did Benedicht & Verena’s three children by Verena, the youngest only a toddler upon Benedicht’s 1701 marriage to Maria, disappear to??  Wouldn’t a first family dumped or otherwise “set aside” by, a well-known Anabaptist preacher be mentioned somewhere in histories of him?  (Wouldn’t this be highly frowned upon??)

According to “Janet and Robert Wolfe Genealogy,” “Records suggest that Benedict Brackbill, a Taufer (Anabaptist) of Trachselwald, was married to Verena Meister.  Archival records at stadtarchiv in Bern, Switzerland state that a Verena Meister, born about 1675, was the daughter of Ulrich Meister, perhaps [<- I would say, no doubt] the same person as Benedict Brackbill’s wife.”3  The Wolfe’s go on to note that, “Some have incorrectly named Maria Herr as the spouse of Benedict Brackbill, born 1665.3 [It should be noted here that the Wolfe’s also name Maria Herr as wife of Brackbill; they simply name both women as his wives.]  Verena Meister and Benedict Brechtbühl had children Magdalena, Ulrich, and Barbara.  Benedict Brechtbühl, of Trachselwald, Bern, Switzerland, came to America in 1717.”3

However:  the immigration record I have reads, “Primary Immigrant Brackbill, Benedicht;” “Arrival Year 1717; Arrival Place Pennsylvania; Family Members Wife Maria; Child Ulrich.”8

Wife, Maria, not wife, Verena. [Some get around this by saying Verena was aka Maria.]

The preceding, in conjunction with the following passage from the 1931 “Mennonites of Lancaster Conference,” by Martin G. Weaver3, leans me toward the conclusion that (this particular) Rev. Benedicht Brackbill is my “Uncle,” i.e., Verena must have married a different Benedict Brackbill:

“With Bishop Burkholder and Preacher Brenneman came another minister Benedict Brackbill whose wife was Maria Herr a daughter of Hans Herr.  They with one son Ulrich Brackbill and two daughters arrived at Philadelphia August 24 1717 after having been on the ocean twelve weeks.”3

So, for now?  I say if “the” Mennonite preacher Benedicht Brackbill married both Verena Meister and Maria Herr, prove it to me.  If he married Verena Meister and not Maria Herr at all, prove it to me.

Stay tuned.  (Good thing I love mysteries.)

1 “Historical Papers and Addresses of the Lancaster County Historical Society,” Volumes 4-7, Lancaster County Historical Society (Pa.), 1899; pages 41 & 42, at https://books.google.com/books?id=qBYVAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA2-PA41#v=onepage&q&f=false , accessed Mar., 2018.
2 Geni.com, the “Master Profile for Reverend Benedictus Brackbill,” at https://www.geni.com/people/Verena-Brackbill/6000000001788631887?through=6000000002317067670 at https://www.geni.com/people/Reverend-Benedictus-Brackbill/6000000002317067670?through=6000000001788631887#/tab/source , accessed Mar., 2018.
“Janet and Robert WOLFE Genealogy,” “Notes for Benedict Brechtbühl and Verena Meister,” at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bobwolfe/gen/mn/m11541x20007.htm , accessed Mar., 2018. [I  l-i-k-e  the Wolfes’ site for the detailed source documentation they provide; it has turned me onto some “good stuff,” notwithstanding my not agreeing with all of the Wolfes’ conclusions.]
4 Geni.com, “Verena Brackbill,” at https://www.geni.com/people/Verena-Brackbill/6000000001788631887?through=6000000002317067670, accessed Mar., 2018.
5 FindAGrave.com, memorial number 80526383, for “Rev Benedictus M. ‘Benedict’ Brackbill,” at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/80526383 , accessed Mar., 20188.
6 “Janet and Robert WOLFE Genealogy,” “Verena Meister,” at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bobwolfe/gen/person/g20007.htm , accessed Mar., 2018.
Genealogical record of Reverend Hans Herr and his direct lineal descendants : From his Birth A.D. 1639 to the present time containing the names, etc. of 13223 persons,
by Theodore W. Herr; publication date 1908, Lancaster, Pa.  Downloadable in numerous formats at Archive.org:  see https://archive.org/details/cu31924029842204 ; accessed Mar., 2018.
8 “U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s,” “Benedicht Brackbill,” Ancestry.com, at https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=7486&h=3035169&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=180191339064&usePUB=true , accessed Mar., 2018. “Original data: Filby, P. William, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s. Farmington Hills, MI, USA: Gale Research, 2012.”

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