Sunday, March 05, 2006

Edward Betts in Philadelphia

While Edward Betts' work as a pianomaker in Baltimore in the late 1840s and early 1850s is well documented, we know very little about his earlier life. Some time before 1834 he moved from Maryland, where he was born, to Pennsylvania. At some point he married, and two children, Edward Jr. and Louisa were born. Between 1836 and 1845, Edward married a second time, to Philadelphia native Anne Elizabeth Metcalfe.

We can use information from the U.S. Census and Philadelphia City Directories to help piece together what Edward was doing before returning to Baltimore in the mid-1840s.

Before 1840

It is likely that Edward Betts was living in Pennsylvania in 1834, when son Edward, Jr. was born. It is not known where in Pennsylvania the Betts family was living before 1840, however.

I found no listing for Edward in Silver's Philadelphia, Pennsylvania General & Business Directory for 1835-36 or in McElroy's Philadelphia City Directory for 1839 or 1840*. It is possible that the Betts family lived in York County (where they moved in the 1850s) or Bucks County (where a number of Betts families lived) at that time.

*Note that the directories were probably compild in the previous year, so the 1840 directory shows addresses in 1839. Also note that there was a grocer named Edward Betts in Philadelphia in the 1830s, who probably is not related to our Edward.

1840-1841: Moyamensing

The earliest record I've been able to find of Edward Betts in Philadelphia shows him living in the district of Moyamensing:

1840 Federal Census Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Co, Moyamensing District p.116, line 19
Edward Betts 1 - - - - 1 - - - - - - - 1 - - - 1 - - - - - - - -
The 1840 Census only lists the name of the head of the family, with the other household members listed by sex, race and age. In this case there was one white male age 30-39, consistent with our Edward who was born in about 1807; one white male under the age of 5, possibly Edward Jr., born about 1834; one white female under the age of 5, probably Louisa, born about 1836; and one white female age 20-29, likely Edward's wife.

One person in the household, presumably Edward, was employed in "Manufacturing and Trades". Piano making would certainly fall into that category.

The 1841 McElroy's Philadelphia City Directory lists:
Betts Smith, piano manuf., corner 9th and Carpenter. (Moyamensing)
Perhaps this is Edward Betts in partnership with a Mr. Smith in the piano manufacturing business. Unfortunately, I did not check the list of Smiths in the directory for piano makers.

Moyamensing is immediately south of the City Center of Philadelphia. In the early 1800s it was still largely rural. It was incorporated into the city of Philadelphia proper in 1854. Today the area around 9th and Carpenter is in the heart of the Italian area of South Philly.

Moyamensing Links:
1846 Philadelphia map
• Map of Moyamensing and Southwark from the Hexamer and Locher Maps of the City of Philadelphia 1858-62
• "Southwark, Moyamensing, Weccacoe, Passyunk, Dock Ward for two hundred and seventy years an historical review of the foundation, rise and progress of the southern portion of Philadelphia, comprising the territory lying below Walnut Street and east of Broad, including east of Third and south of Callowhill Street", 1892 (see Chapter XX: About Moyamensing (pdf))
history of Moyamensing
• 1820 Print of Moyamensing Botanic Gardens, southwest corner of 10th & Carpenter Streets
Moyamensing Prison, built in 1835 at 8th and Passyunk Ave. (Supposedly Edgar Allen Poe, while incarcerated for forging a check, saw several apparitions there, which has nothing to do with our genealogy, but makes an interesting story)

After 1841: Philadelphia

Shortly after 1840, Edward Betts moved into the city of Philadelphia proper, near Franklin Park in what is now the Independence Park neighborhood.

McElroy's Philadelphia City Directory for 1842 lists:
Betts Edwin, pianomr., S E 6th and Sassafras, h 98 Cherry
Betts & Miller, pianomrs., S E 6th and Sassafras
Miller Caleb, S E 6th and Sassafras, h 98 Cherry
"Edwin" Betts and Caleb Miller both lived at 98 Cherry and had a piano manufactury at the southeast corner of 6th and Sassafras (now Race) streets. It is probably not a coincidence that the Metcalfe family lived on the south side of Sassafras, just east of 6th street, in the 1840s. Perhaps he met his bride, Anne, when she passed his business. Cherry Street was two blocks below Sassafras.

The Betts family did not live in Philadelphia very long. By 1846 they had moved to the city of Baltimore, and Edward began his work with Knabe & Gaehle.

Sassafras (Race) and Cherry St. Links
Intersection of 6th and Race (click for a closeup view of each quadrant) from the Hexamer & Locher Atlas of Philadelphia, 1858-1862
• Maps, photos and other links from my previous post about 606 Race St.
Old house at corner of 6th & Cherry (1859), by Frederick DeB ourg.
• Photos of Cherry Street between Front and 2nd St.- "the nation’s oldest continually residential street. (Betts and Miller probably lived closer to 6th St., but this gives an idea of how it might have looked)
Birch's Views from The City of Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania North America: as it appeared in the Year 1800 consisting of Twenty Eight Plates,, engravings of Philadelphia. Pictures 203 and 204 show 4th and Cherry and 5th and Cherry.
Development of the Independence Park neighborhood after the American Revolution (including Sassafras (Race), 6th and Cherry Streets).

Who Was Caleb Miller?

In 1842, Edward Betts appears to have been a partner with Caleb Miller in the piano manufacturing business. When Edward left Philadelphia for Baltimore, Miller stayed behind and continued their manufacturing business. A little digging provides a little more background on Caleb and his family, and may provide additional insight into the life of Edward Betts.

Caleb Miller was born in about 1811 in Pennsylvania. He married a woman named Elizabeth, a native of New York, and they had three children: Frances, Georgianna and Angelo. According to the 1850 Census, the eldest, Frances, was born in about 1839 in New York.

McElroy's 1844 Philadelphia City Directory shows that Miller was still in the piano making business at the S W corner of 6th and Sassafras. In 1845, the address was 22 South 6th, which may or may not be the same location. It is not clear whether Betts was still his partner in 1845*.

By 1859, the Millers were living at 540 North 13th St. and the "piano furnisher store" was at 43 North 7th Street". It looks like he retired from the piano business shortly thereafter; the 1864 McElroy's City Directory indicates that Miller had a restaurant at the North 13th St. address, and the piano store is not mentioned.

Caleb Miller died at the age of 59, on March 18th 1870.

* I have not checked the 1844 or 1845 directory for Betts.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus! Happy St David's Day!

Today, March 1st, is St. David's day, honoring the patron saint of Wales.
St. David (or Dewi Sant in Welsh) was a 6th century monk who helped spread Christianity among the pagan Celtic tribes of western Britain, eventually becoming the archbishop of Wales.
Many Welsh people wear one or both of the national emblems of Wales on their lapel to celebrate Saint David: the daffodil (a generic Welsh symbol which is in season during March) or the leek (Saint David's personal symbol) on this day. The association between leeks and daffodils is strengthened by the fact that they have similar names in Welsh, Cenhinen (leek) and Cenhinen Bedr (daffodil, literally "Peter's leek"). (from the Wikipedia article on St. David's Day)
Today is a the day to listen to Welsh songs and remember our ancestors who came to America from Wales - and pin a daffodil to your lapel.

• Rhys James Jones has written an interesting article about St. David and the celebration of this holiday in Wales.
St. David's Day Quiz (with answers at the end)
• The Wales Week in New York web site has an interesting article "Keeping Up with the Joneses" (pdf) about the Wales and the Welsh in America.


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Friday, January 13, 2006

Irish Catholics in America

Census figures show an Irish population of 8.2 million in 1841, 6.6 million a decade later, and only 4.7 million in 1891. It is estimated that as many as 4.5 million Irish arrived in America between 1820 and 1930.
Our ancestors were part of this great migration. Kate Lynch immigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania in 1881. Her future husband, Teddy Hopkins, immigrated in 1881 or 1882. In about 1888, they were joined by Teddy's father Michael. In about 1890 the entire Hopkins family headed west, settling in Tacoma, Washington.

The Library of Congress has an interesting site about Irish-Catholic immigrants to America that can tell us more about our ancestors' experiences. Unlike many immigrants who came with money, the Irish typically were very poor:
The Irish immigrants left a rural lifestyle in a nation lacking modern industry. Many immigrants found themselves unprepared for the industrialized, urban centers in the United States. Though these immigrants were not the poorest people in Ireland (the poorest were unable to raise the required sum for steerage passage on a ship to America), by American standards, they were destitute.
They lived in tiny, cramped tenement buildings in the cities which were hotbeds for diseases such as cholera, typus, and tuberculosis. With poverty came the social problems of violence, alcoholism and crime. Their wilolingness to work for very low wages put them into conflict with other working class immigrants. They were also discriminated against for their Catholic faith.

Because there were so many Irish-Americans in the cities, they became a powerful political force.
Irish-American political clout led to increased opportunities for the Irish-American. Looking out for their own, the political machines made it possible for the Irish to get jobs, to deal with naturalization issues, even to get food or heating fuel in emergencies. The political machines also rewarded their own through political appointments. In 1855, "...nearly 40% of New York City's policemen were immigrants, and about three-fourths of these immigrants were Irish."[Wittke, The Irish in America]
Many Irish immigrants also became union organizers and leaders.

Irish immigrants who settled in Washington state in the mid- to late 1800s had more opportunities than their urban east coast cousins. However, later settlers faced growing anti-Catholic sentiment in the early 1900s.

Our Hopkins ancestors followed the same trades as many other urban Irish: Teddy Hopkins was a mounted police officer in Tacoma in the early years of the 20th century. The older Hopkins son, John J., was also in law enforcement, serving as a parole officer at the Federal Penitentiary at McNeil Island. Younger son Thomas Michael, called Teddy Jr., was the business representative of the grain millers union, beginning in the late 1930s.

It is thanks to the Irish who arrived in the Puget Sount area before them that solid jobs were available to the Hopkins men in Tacoma.

Related Links
Irish in Washington - The Early Years (1840s to 1890)
Ancient Order of Hibernians in Washington State, 1890-2000. John J. Hopkins was an officer in the King County AOH, which served both Seattle and Tacoma.
• Irish Heritage Club: A History of the Irish in Seattle
• 1943 photo titled "Labor heads and service men at the U.S.O. (in Tacoma)" which includes Ted Hopkins, Jr. (From the Tacoma Public Library's Photography Archive)

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Lewis Family in Slidell, Louisiana

As posted previously, the children of Richard and Sarah (Betts) Lewis, Jess, Bert and Bessie, were all born in Pardoe, Pennsylvania. At the time, Richard worked for the Shenango and Allgheny Railroad and the affiliated Mercer Mining and Manufacturing Company. The Shenango and Allegheny ran into financial difficulties and was eventually taken over by the Pittsburgh, Shenango, and Lake Erie Railroad Company in 1888. At about that time, the Lewis family moved south from Pennsylvania to Slidell, Louisiana.

The reason for the Lewis family move is unknown; possibly Richard lost his job with the mine and railroad, or he could have lost an investment in the county. Perhaps better oppertunities were available in the South. It is worth noting that both of Richard’s parents, David and Hannah (Jenkins) Lewis, died in the spring of 1888 in Trevorton, perhaps freeing Richard to move away from Pennsylvania. Richard’s cousin Susanna, with her husband John Jones and family, moved from Pennsylvania to McComb City, Mississippi at about this time.

Slidell was founded in 1882, when the railroad established a building camp on the first high ground north of New Orleans along Lake Pontchartrain*. The town grew rapidly after the completion of the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad in 1883, and the Slidell was officially incorporated in 1888.

In Slidell, the Lewis family lived on a ranch. It is not clear if Richard took up farming or cattle raising, or simply lived there while working as an engineer. (According to Richard’s alumni directory, at one time he held the position as principle Assistant of the Mexican Pacific Railroad. It is unclear if this was before or after the move to Slidell.)

After about three years in Slidell, in 1891, the Lewis family abruptly pulled up roots again and moved to Carbonado, in the mountains near Tacoma, Washington.

Louisiana in 1896
Google Map

Links: Slidell History
City of Slidell
Slidell Chamber of Commerce
St. Tammany Parish
Slidell Magazine

Links: Louisiana Railroad History
Crescent City Choo Choo: history of railroads in New Orleans
• The old railroad is now the Tammany Trace trail.

* The Slidell are was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
High resolution post-Katrian aerial views

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Friday, November 11, 2005

World War I Draft Registration

In 1917 and 1918, all males born between 1872 and 1900 were required to register for the draft. The draft registration cards are a great source of genealogical information, with registrant's home address, occupation and physical description.

Kay's father, Jess Lewis, and her uncle, Bert Lewis, both had to register:

Name: Justin Betts Lewis
Address: 2923 No 30 Tacoma, Pierce, Wa.
Birth: June 20, 1883 (age 35), native born
Occupation: Plumber foreman; Construction Co., Camp Lewis, Pierce, Wa
Nearest relative: Anna Lewis of 2923 No 30 Tacoma, Pierce, Wa (wife)
Description: Tall, medium build, blue eyes, ,brown hair

Name: Ethelbert Jenkins Lewis
Address: 621 So. 19 Tacoma, Pierce, Wash.
Birth: August 10, 1884 (age 34), native born
Occupation: Machinist, employed by John McRay, 23 and dock, Tacoma, Pierce, Wa
Nearest Relative: Mrs. Sarah Lewis 621 So. 19 Tacoma (mother)
Description: medium hight, medium build, blue eyes, dark hair

Neither Jess nor Bert were drafted into the miltary during the war.

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Irish Genealogy Database Generation Behind Schedule

One of the reasons that it has been so difficult to find information on our Irish Lynch and Hopkins ancestors is that birth, death and marriage information prior to 1864 is kept at the parish level. Even if you can narrow down their home to a county, that leaves dozens of parishes.

There is an Irish genealogy project "supposed to result in most church records of births, marriages and deaths being entered on a computer data base". Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter reports that the database, supposed to be completed next year, is "running behind schedule" and won't be completed for another 20-25 years. I could probably go through all the parish records myself in that time.


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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Web Site Update: Web Family Cards

To make navigating through Kay Lewis's ancestors even easier, I've used my genealogy program, Reunion, to generate web cards. You can start with Lee and work your way back to his earliest known ancestor.

I've put a handy link in the sidebar, so you can access the webcards page even after this post has been archived.

Give the web cards a try, and let me know if you have any problem viewing or navigating them.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Lewis Family in Pardoe, Pennsylvania

In the late 1870s, Richard and Sarah (Betts) Lewis moved from Lancaster County to Pardoe in Mercer County, in western Pennsylvania. At that time, Richard worked on starting up mines in the region. Richard worked as a mining engineer for the affiliated Mercer Mining and Manufacturing Company. He was also Chief Engineer of the Shenango and Allegheny Railroad, a line constructed to move the coal from the Mercer Mines in Pardoe to the Allegheny valley (where Pittsburgh is located) and to the markets beyond.

We don't know exactly when Richard and Sarah moved to Pardoe. There is a Richard Lewis who was elected Surveyor of Mercer County on Nov. 5, 1878*. If this is our Richard, this gives us the earliest date we know he was living in the area.

It may be that Richard had to travel for his job with the railroad and mining company. When the 1880 census was taken, Richard and Sarah were living in a boarding house in Huston in Clearfield County. His occupation was given as superintendant of a coal mine.

We know for sure that Richard and Sarah were living in Pardoe in 1883, when their eldest son Justin Betts "Jess" Lewis was born. Son Bert was born in Pardoe in 1884 and daughter Bessie was born there in 1885.

Pardoe was company town, laid out by the Mercer Mining and Manufacturing company. At it's peak at the end of the 1800s, Pardoe had a population of about 3000 people. Today there are only a few homes.

Pardoe in 2003. Photo by Richard Kolm.

In 1884 the Shenango and Allegheny Railroad and the Mercer Mining and Manufacturing Company defaulted on bonds and went into receivership. The railroad couldn't generate enough revenue to pay expenses and meet its obligations. There were several causes. The financial panic of 1873 affected the U.S. economy until 1878. Around 1883 there were strikes by miners, sometimes violent and destructive, causing coal mines to be closed for an extended period. On the Shenango and Allegheny, construction work was sometimes suspended, working forces were reduced, and the pay of officers and employees was cut and sometimes held back for as long as six months.

In response to the company’s problems, Thomas Fowler was appointed receiver in 1884. He operated the company for almost 4 years, until all of its property, franchises, material, and rolling stock were transferred to a new company. The public sale of the railroad and mining company was held in Shenango on April 19, 1887. The new company that took over the properties was the Pittsburgh, Shenango, and Lake Erie Railroad Company, a Pennsylvania corporation organized on January 12, 1888.

It is about this time that the Lewis family moved to Slidell, Louisiana, possibly because Richard had lost his job with the mine and railroad, and perhaps because he lost an investment in the county.

* Mentioned in the History of Mercer County, 1888 and 1905. He would have had the position until at least the next election, in 1881

About Pardoe
• History of Mercer County, 1888: Pardoe , Surveyors
Railroads of Mercer County
• Article about the Pardoe Mine Co. from the Sharon Herald.

Portions of this post were written by Richard Kolm.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tales from the Green Valley

The BBC recently ran a series called Tales from the Green Valley that recreated a 17th century Welsh farm.
It was a time when daily life was a hard grind, intimately connected with the physical environment where routines were dictated by the weather and the seasons.
Our only known Welsh ancestor who was a farmer was Richard Jenkins*, father of Hannah (Jenkins) Lewis. Many of the lessons learned from a 17th century farm would have held true for those farming at the end of the 18th century, and even modern life.

The lessons learned include:
1. Know your neighbors.
2. Share the load.
3. Fewer creature comforts.
4. Eat seasonally.
5. Tasty food comes in small batches.
6. Reuse and recycle.
7. Dress for practicalities.
8. Corsets, not bras. (really!)
9. Biodiversity protects against calamity.
10. Don't rely on any one thing.
11. The greater the variety of insects the better.

Read the whole article.

*As an off-topic aside: It appears that the two oldest sons of David and Hannah (Jenkins) Lewis were named after their grandfathers. The oldest son, Evan, was named after David's father. The second son (and our ancestor), Richard, was named after Hannah's father.

Learn more:
There is a photo gallery from one of the participants, Alex Langlands. He also shares what he learned about thatching.

The producer Peter Sommers also tells about his experiences making the series.

Material from Gathering the Jewels on farming.

GENUKI has several available articles about farming in Glamorgan, including:
West Glamorgan Farming, 1580-1620
Glamorgan Agriculture in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Where did our Lewis ancestors live?

I've been playing with the Google maps API to generate maps showing where our ancestors on the Lewis side of the family (Lewis, Hopkins, Betts and Metcalfe) lived over the past 150 years.

The advantage of using Google maps is that I can insert "pins" with information at different locations. The viewer can zoom in on any point and see either a standard map or a satellite view. I am still learning how the system works, so comments and suggestions would be appreciated.

The Lewis Family maps page.

At the moment only the most recent web browsers (Firefox/Mozilla, IE 5.5+, and Safari 1.2+) can be used to view the maps. I've found that Firefox works the best.

Download Firefox for free.

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