52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Maternal Side, My Family Tree

Week 28: Transportation

Today I am not writing about a direct line ancestor, but a man who seems to have been a very special person. His name is Samuel J. Randol and he was the second husband of my maternal great-great-grandmother, Mazie Lorena Warner.

Samuel Joseph Randol holding Alberta Lou Fleming, early 1930’s (again, no date but my Grandma was born in October 1929)

I will tell the tale of Samuel as he at one point worked for the railroad when they lived in Potter County, Pennsylvania. Then, after moving and settling in Akron, Summit County, Ohio, he worked as a truck driver. He was actually making a delivery to Decatur, Macon County, Illinois, when he became ill and died.

Samuel Joseph Randol

Samuel Joseph Randol was born 5 October 1874 in Independence, Warren County, Indiana to Alonzo Randol and the former Laura Altman. Upon doing my homework for this post I came to the conclusion that Samuel had been married three times. He was divorced from a Rosa Cox (born in 1876 and passed away in 1924), and his second wife, Emily, died of a cerebral hemorrhage a month before he married Mazie (I tried to keep an open mind hoping that Samuel and Emily had only been married a short time, but it was 14 years, but this was over a century ago, they did things different then, right?)

Portion of the page from the New York Marriage License of Samuel Randol & Mazie (Warner) Dunbar – this Record of Marriage was found on FamilySearch

His Occupations

According to the 1900 Federal Census, Samuel was listed as a teamster. For those who do not know what a teamster is, it is a truck driver or a person who drives teams of draft animals.

In the 1910 Federal Census he was listed as working for the railroad. This was not his only stint with the railroad, he was employed with the Pennsylvania Railroad once he settled in Akron from 1917 through about1922. When he initially moved to Akron he worked for the Swinehart Rubber Company, which was not far from where he lived.

Around 1923 he opened his own grocery store entitled “SJ Randols” located on Howard Street in North Akron. This entrepreneurial endeavor did not last long as he was once again a truck driver by 1925 (I tracked his occupations once he arrived in Akron using the digitized City Directories that are located online by the Akron-Summit County Public Library, from years 1859-1969).

S.J. Randols Grocery Store – this was amongst my great-grandmother’s items, no date, no names. Circa 1923

Life With Mazie

Seeing as his first 3 marriages did not last long, that Samuel was married to my great-great-grandmother for 23 years, it must have been love (or at least I hope it was).

Samuel and Mazie were married in Olean, Cattaraugus County, New York on 16 December 1914. By this point in time my great-great-grandfather, Arthur Dunbar, had been dead for 2 years (he passed away of heart failure, most likely a complication from his having polio).

When Samuel married Mazie he got a full package, her and 3 daughters, who he took on and cared for as his own. Myrtle had already married William Harvey of Elmira, Chemung County, New York, but Mazie was still raising a teenage Ina May Dunbar and my 6-year-old great-grandmother, Mildred Laura Dunbar.

Just before moving to Akron, Samuel and Mazie had a son, Richard LeHoty Randol 8 March 1916. Five months later on 7 August 1916 he died of intestinal intoxication, which is a severe dietary deficiency. It’s so sad when you see dehydration and malnutrition as causes of infant deaths just a century ago as IV’s and formula now do so much.

Richard LeHoty Randol, only child of Samuel & Mazie, 1916

Samuel and Mazie had no more children but had their hands full with Ina and Mildred.

Ina married John Slater, had a daughter, but when the marriage didn’t last it was Samuel and Mazie who took them (Ina and daughter) in. The same could be said for Mildred twice over as she got married, then divorced, got remarried, had a daughter, then another divorce and when she married for the last time they lived with Samuel and Mazie for a couple of years before finding a home (I like to think they were saving up for a down payment?).

Ina did re-marry Ralph Stone in 1928 and I remember attending their 50th Anniversary Party. I was 5 and my Daddy was getting me punch, not realizing it was spiked. All I remember is laughing a lot and saying “Oh Johnny” as I thought my older teenage cousin was really cute (Johnny descends from my Aunt Myrtle, and I have yet to find him in my genealogy search).

Anyhow, I digress. In 1938 Samuel was still a truck driver, often going to Decatur, Macon County, Illinois. He apparently got sick while there, was taken to the hospital and after a week “with a complication of diseases” he died.

The Decatur Daily Review, Monday, October 17, 1938 – found on Newspapers.com

They shipped his body back to Ohio, and his funeral had quite the turnout. Along with the photos and such my dad gave me that were my great-grandmother’s, Samuel’s funeral book is among the items. I was amazed at all the names of all the people, at least 10 full pages, who either attended calling hours or the funeral (or both). Among them, one of his first Ohio friends, Clyde Geer (and most likely my great-great-grandfather). Clyde worked at Swinehart Rubber Company when Samuel did when he first moved to Akron in 1916.

The Akron Beacon Journal, Tuesday, October 18, 1938 – found on Newspapers.com

But working in transportation – be it by train or automobile (maybe even heading up a team of animals???) is how Samuel supported himself and his family. That he changed with the times was quite trendy of him.

Though I never met Samuel (he died about 35 years before I was born), he seemed like a loving man and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to care for Mazie.

Transportation was the theme for week 28 of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks family history writing challenge. It’s a fun way to stop and write about your family each week. If you would like to sign up, please do so here.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Maternal Side, My Family Tree

Week #29 – Newsworthy

I haven’t participated in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks as there have been a lot of 1-word prompts that for some reason or another have not inspired me (I think a lot of it has to do with returning to work after lockdown).

But this week I have something for Amy Johnson Crow’s wonderful writing challenge, as I have found lots of newspaper articles about my relatives that really fill in the “dash” between the years of our ancestors lives.

Mazie Warner Dunbar

After posting my story about my great-great-grandmother, Mazie Lorena Warner, I discovered an interesting article about her. Oddly enough, she and my Aunt Myrtle were both charged with assault on my great-great-great-grandfather, Delos Dunbar (Mazie’s father-in-law).

The Potter Enterprise, Thursday, June 6, 1912

No one was more disappointed than me that the Clerk of Courts in Potter County found nothing on this for me in the records. I may go about it again, as I believe she looked up Delos Dunbar and not so much Mazie (cases were found about his son, Delos Dunbar, Jr and not the elder Delos Dunbar).

A week later the following story ran.

The Potter Enterprise, Thursday, June 13, 1912

Since discovering this I’ve often wondered if Delos said something about his son, Arthur, Mazie’s husband. In December 9112, Arthur died of Polio. I’ve often wondered if maybe his father didn’t understand the debilitating nature of his disease. To me it’s the only thing that makes sense on why 2-ladies would beat up and elderly gentleman.

Have you found any interesting articles that you were surprised made the newspaper with your family? Comment below or share with Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks!

Genealogy, Maternal Side, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Giving Your Ancestors a Life

A big difference between my husband and myself is how we relate to our families.  He has just started, so maybe I shouldn’t judge him so harshly, but he views his ancestors as names on a screen.

Names on a screen!

Then there is me, I sit there and though they may initially be names on my tree (I will confess my aunts, uncles and distant cousins I do refer to as filler people until I get to know them a little better), I enjoy finding out what I can on them, where they lived, how long, did they marry.  I especially try to find out as much as I can on the little ones.  You know, the ones who pass away before they ever have a birthday, I fear they may be the easiest for time to forget.

The more I research my ancestors, whether it be government documents, city directories, or newspaper articles, I enjoy getting a sense of who they are.

Harold Fairhurst – My Grandfather

Within the last few weeks Newspapers.com was free for a few days and I so enjoyed learning new things about my relatives.  One article that ran in the Akron Beacon Journal on September 17, 1964, referred to when my grandfather, an area golf pro, hit a hole in one.  It was interesting as when I had found it my Aunt Debbie had relayed how he had hit one and won a years supply of Pepsi. He had only hit a hole in one once, so this had to be the time.

The_Akron_Beacon_Journal_Thu__Sep_17__1964_

When I threw my grandfather’s name to find articles about him I was floored when I saw how many hits I received.  My mother had always told me he was a golf pro, but I never realized he held course records in my hometown and was a semi-serious contender.

Alberta Lou – My Grandmother

I found out some interesting bowling information on my mom’s mother too!  I knew my grandmother was on a bowling league but I never knew she was on a league of women bowlers where you had to bowl a 600 series.  My uncle (her son) he gave me the information after I found and shared the following article with him.  It was posted once again in the Akron Beacon Journal on March 14, 1971.

The_Akron_Beacon_Journal_Sun__Mar_14__1971_

Orienta Gustin Warner – My Great-Great-Great-Grandmother

I learned some juicy information about my relatives too.  Again, visiting my mother’s side of the family, this time it was my great-great-great-grandmother, Orienta Gustin Warner who is mentioned in the following article from the Potter Enterprise that ran on February 11, 1904, along with her daughter, Jeanette Warner (Nettie) my second great-great-aunt.

The_Potter_Enterprise_Thu__Feb_11__1904_

Real-life stories of your ancestors help to put them into perspective far more than just dates and names on a computer screen.  The aforementioned Orienta Gustin Warner lived here in Akron, Ohio for the last 6 years or her life.  She passed away at 644 Carpenter Street and I’ve driven past the house, which is less than 5 minutes from my own home.

I’ve used Google to see what all the houses look like (most are still standing, some have been torn down). Once I figure out locations for homes in other areas I plan on doing the same.  This is when technology is at it’s best.

Samuel & Mazie Randol

By using the city directories, I saw how my great-great-grandmother let her daughters move in with her when their marriages failed, I saw her and her husband, Samuel, finding a new house to live in while her daughters stayed in their old one with their new husband, and I saw the pattern repeat. So to me, this shows me Mazie was truly a good person, going out of her way for her girls.  And taking them back in when they needed help and support (and yes, after a while I got a little judgy as I think Mazie and Samuel might have had 2 years alone before he passed away in 1938).

Speaking of Samuel, my father gave me a box of mementos that belonged to my mother’s side of the family. He had no need for them after my mom passed last year, so about 2 months ago he handed the photos off to me.  Inside the box was the book from the funeral home from when Samuel Randol passed away.  He was a trucker when he died in Decatur, Illinois.  He apparently became ill, went to the hospital, and died within a short period of time.  I’ve not ordered up his death certificate yet, I may have difficulty as he is not a blood relative and I think Illinois laws may be a bit more strict than they are here in Ohio. Anyhow, never had I seen so many names in a book of those who visited the funeral home as those who paid their respects to Samuel.  I was dumbfounded.  To me, it’s further proof that he and Mazie were good people.

Ralph Reed

To be fair I’ll throw in the black sheep of my dad’s side of the family.  In the early months of my going to the library and using Ancestry Library Edition to search about my family, I came across the following death certificate for my second cousin twice removed.  His name is Ralph Reed.

RalphReedDeathCertificate

Notice his cause of death?  Electrocution by Legal Execution.  I used a link using my library’s resources which has an academic version of Newspaper Archive on their website.  It’s nice as I was able to use it for free from home using my library card number.

Turns out Ralph and his friends decided to rob a company payroll office one day when companies still paid with cash.  Problem was they beat the cash there, decided to rob the office workers and Ralph shot the one worker in the back (yes, the headlines were man murdered for $60).  They drove off in their getaway car but nearby some telephone repairmen were fixing a wire and watched exactly where they drove off too.  Ralph was sentenced to death while the others had life in prison.  I don’t think the punishment held for all of them though, as I believe at least 2 may have been released (I’ve not thoroughly researched them yet, I will need to take a day to travel to the Ohio History Center in Columbus to find out more details. In 1948 the accused were tried, sentenced and put to death all within a years time.  On May 4, 1949 Ralph was electrocuted. Below is his photo (courtesy of the Ohio Pentitentiary in Columbus, Ohio).

RalphReed-PrisonPhoto

Resources to Use

Maps, probate records, newspaper articles, city directories, all these useful sources can help provide background information on your ancestors.  Even if you can’t find stories directly about them, you can see where they lived using old maps, you can find out what the weather was like reading articles about the area, and if they fought in wars, even if it wasn’t their personal account, reading the diaries of others fighting in the same war can give you insight as to what they went through.

So take the time to search through newspapers, you can get a subscription to such sites as the aforementioned Newspapers.com, GenealogyBank.com or visit the free Library of Congress website ChroniclingAmerica.org to see if you can find some information (trust me, sometimes they just pop right out, other times you have to go through lots of names to find what you are looking for).

Check out your library to see if they give you access to resources such as Newspaper Archive that I mentioned previously.  Sometimes you can get access to library editions of other searching tools such as MyHeritage or Fold3 as well.

Government Records

Government records work too – the census gives you where your ancestor is at a specific point in time, probate records can illustrate how their life was at the end and who their relatives are/were, if they are males registrations for wars come in handy as it lets you know next of kin, eye color, height, any interesting marks (such as scars, birthmarks, etc), all of this can give you a better indication of who your ancestors were.

So now I’ve given you more reasons to analyze those documents you’ve found to find out the story behind the story of your ancestors.  It’s worth going the extra mile because they become far more memorable when you have a story to tell than if they are just a name on the screen.

Have you found out anything interesting about your family?  Share with me in the comments below.