Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Charles' Widow -- Rosina (Rose) Becker Gross

Charles C. Gross died at age 37 leaving his wife with four children to raise on her own.  In the 1910 Census, Rose is listed as the mother of seven children, with four still alive.  (Two children, Charles and Katharina, died before the age of two.  I've not been able to identify the third child).  So what is known about Rose Becker?

Rose was the daughter of Nicolaus Becker and Anna Marie Butro.  She was born in Lorraine, France.  The Alsace-Lorraine area of France is very confusing for genealogists.  The region was largely comprised of ethnic Germans.  This website does a great job of summarizing the political changes that have taken place over the centuries.

Table Credit: Website Linked Above in Narrative

When the Beckers emigrated to the United States in the 1860s, they were citizens of France (and Census records reflect this fact).  In the 1910 Census, their ethnicity is listed as German (French).  When I speak of my own ethnicity, I do not include a French component, even though the region is currently part of France.

Rose was older than her husband, Charles.  Despite inconsistent age listings for Rose, her Death Certificate lists her date of birth as May 2, 1832.  (Most other documents say she was born in May, 1831 and I believe this to be true).  That would mean that Rose was 33 years old and Charles was only 22 when they married in Cincinnati on June 21, 1864.  Charles, a veteran of the Civil War, was working as a baker.

Over the next year, the couple had seven children.  The youngest, Alice (Eliza) was born in 1874.  It was shortly after her birth that Charles became an "invalid" and was unable to work for the next four years.  We know that he died on January 3, 1879 at the age of 37.  Rose was a widow and mother of four surviving children at the age of 48.  She was a first-generation immigrant in a country where English was a second language, her husband was incapacitated living in an age when there was no such thing as Social Security.  So how did she survive?  In a word -- family!  We'll discuss this in the next post.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Little Detour -- A Tribute to Col. William Haines Lytle

In the process of researching the 10th Regiment OVI, I learned about William Haines Lytle.  Col. Lytle known as "Will" by his friends was a well-known Cincinnatian.  He had been trained as an attorney and had served as a Captain in the Mexican-American War.  Upon returning home, he was elected to the state legislature and later ran for Lieutenant Governor, a race he lost by just a few hundred votes.  When the Civil War began, Col. Lytle took over the command of the 10th OVI in General Rosencran's Army.

Lytle was loved by his men and was the kind of officer who led by example.  He could always be found leading the charge.  In the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, Lytle was shot in the leg and his horse was killed.  He was returned to Cincinnati for a four-month recovery. Following his recovery and a short stint as the Commander of a Military Training Camp in Bardstown, Kentucky, Lytle returned to the field and was again wounded in the Battle of Perrysville. Lytle was captured and taken prisoner but later freed as part of a prisoner exchange.

Lytle was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers.  He was held in such high esteem that he was awarded the Maltese Cross by fellow officers.  Eleven days later, Lytle led forces on a counterattack in the Battle of Chicamauga in Georgia.  Here he was targeted by Confederate snipers.  Mortally wounded, Lytle's body was actually guarded by a respectful Confederate contingent.  Confederate soldiers, upon learning of his death, recited poetry that had been written by Lytle around their evening campfires.

Sculpture of Lytle that is part of his grave monument.

After his body was returned to Cincinnati, his funeral was held at Christ Church on 4th Street.  The turnout was so large and the streets lined with so many people that the funeral cortege did not arrive at Spring Grove Cemetery until dusk.  Lytle was buried by moonlight. 

I hope that my gg-grandfather, Charles C. Gross, had the opportunity to know and be inspired by such a leader as William H. Lytle.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Death and Burial of Charles C. Gross

Initially I had a lot of difficulty finding a paper trail for Charles C. Gross. Ocassionally I look through the records of Cincinnati cemeteries to see if I can find any clues. I was shocked when I uncovered this record for Charles at Spring Grove Cemetery.

I don't know what shocked more more -- learning that my gg-grandfather died at the age of 37 or that the card listed his disease as "insanity."  Thus began a quest.

First of all, in light of his Civil War Penion Record and the information found in his patient record, I am convinced that his "insanity" was directly related to his physical illnesses.  He was clearly suffering from "Bright's Disease" from the time he signed up to be a soldier in the Civil War at the age of 18 or 19.  I've not been able to determine the "cause" of this disease, but the more I read about the conditions his regiment endured on the road to their first battle, the more I wonder if this was the "trigger" for his illness.  Secondly, a doctor friend of mine was with me when Charles' record from Longview Asylum arrived in the mail. As we read through it together, John said that it sounded like Charles had suffered a heat stroke (or something similar) while on the job as a baker.  As I have a paternal gg-grandfather (Britton Wainright) who died from heat stroke, it was not a big surprise to me that this can have a significant impact on someone. 

Since I now knew where Charles was buried, I headed over to Spring Grove Cemetery to try to find his grave.  I was hopeful that it would be "marked" because he was, after all, a Civil War veteran.

It soon became apparent that there was not going to be a marked grave.  The office personnel graciously agreed to find a couple of the groundskeepers to meet me in the section.  I learned that day that each grave has a number found below ground.  These two gentlemen patiently scanned the area with a metal detector and then dug a hole to see if we were in the right space. Eventually, we located it.

It made me sad to think that this man, who served his new country in the Civil War, fathered six or seven children, and started his own bakery in a new country and city could be the same man so unceremoniously  buried in a cemetery that is known for honoring Civil War veterans.  I am reminded once again that without him, there would be no me. It is my hope, that in some small way, this post will insure that his contribution is not forgotten.

How he must have suffered.  In the last post, the doctors described his condition this way: 
 His face is pale and very much puffed-up and so it is with his hands and feet.
As someone who has personally dealt with several illnesses, I am amazed at the number of times that I have had to catalog the lives and deaths of my ancestors who faced death when they were far too young.  They often died from diseases that are easily treated today.  They could have lived productive lives as I have been able to do.

Charles -- if you could only see your descendants now!  You have a reward beyond measure.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Marriage of Charles C. Gross and Rosina Becker

According to the Restored Hamilton County Courthouse Marriage License Book, Charles C. Gross and Rosina Becker were married on January 21, 1864.  The Archdiocesan Archives was not able to easily identify the Church where they were married.  However, the Cincinnati City Directory lists their address as 122 W. 5th Street.  Charles was working as a baker. The Archives was able to supply baptismal records for three of their children from St. Francis Seraph Church on Liberty Street.  As the family always lived in the 5th - 6th Street area, I was surprised that they would find a parish home several blocks north. 

By the 1870 Census, Charles was the Proprietor of his own bakery.  He and Rosa were the parents of four living children:  Julius - Age 5, Rosa - Age 4, Julia - Age 3, and Catherine - Age 1. He had a net worth of $600, more than any of his neighbors. Life for these first-generation Americans appeared to be on track.

Then tragedy struck.  According to the Case History of Male and Female Patients for the Longview Asylum, Charles became insane.  He was admitted to the hospital on May 8, 1876 as the result of an illness now in its fourth year.  His condition upon admission is as described:
The duration of the present attack is four years, this being the 1st attack.  The supposed cause of insanity is some four years ago, he was overheated at his work and since then has been an invalid. Patient has hallucinations described as follows:  Imagines that he must kill himself and family, can't sleep of nights and roams around the streets coming home always in an excited condition of mind.  Patient has shown a disposition to injure himself and others, but not to be destructive.  He has made two attempts to hang himself.  He has not been addicted to the intemperate use of alcoholic drinks.  Has not been subject to epilepsy.  The disease is not hereditary.  (Typed as recorded).
No record of treatment is included between May and September 20th.  It seems as if Charles suffered greatly from his kidney disease for three days in September.  His medical record includes the following:        
September 20, 1878 - Complains of a very severe headache and pains in his bowels.  He has likewise considerable difficulty in passing his urine, which is very high-coloured and has a strong ammonia odour.
          September 21, 1878 - Has had no passage from his bowels for a couple of days.       
September 22, 1878 - Had one operation this morning.  Has less difficulty in passing his urine and it is more natural in appearance.  His face is pale and very much puffed-up and so it is with his hands and feet.  Eats well and sleeps quietly. 
The next entry in Charles' record is a notation that he died in the evening of January 3, 1879 at 9:00.  Cause of death:  Bright's Disease.

The 1879 and 1880 Cincinnati City Directories list Rosa as living at 288 1/2 W. 6th Street. Her occupation is listed as "widow selling confectioners articles." Once again one of my female ancestors is listed as a widow by about the age of 40 with the total responsibility for the care and raising of four children. As I've said many times before. I am descended from a long line of STRONG women.

Note to family:  I have copies of many documents related to the above post.  Let me know if you have need of them.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Charles Gross and the "Bloody Tinth"

Civil War Monument at Spring Grove
According to a record in Charles' Civil War Pension Index, Charles was born in Wuerttemberg, Germany and was a resident of Cincinnati for 21 years at the time of his death in 1879.  Assuming that this record is correct, Charles was born about 1842 and came to Cincinnati about 1858 at the age of 16.  By the age of 18, he had volunteered for the Civil War. 

His regiment was nicknamed the "Bloody Tinth" -- not a typo. The regiment was mainly comprised of Irish units, but there were two units made up of German-immigrants.  It is well-documented that there were numerous outbreaks of fighting between the Irish and Germans during training at Camp Dennison. By the time they left Camp Dennison under the command of William Lytle, however, they were a cohesive unit.  The entire regiment had a reputation of being fearless fighters -- thus, the "Bloody Tinth."

I'd love to know what would motivate a newly-arrived immigrant to sign up to fight a Civil War in his new country within a couple of years of arrival.  Was it a lack of jobs?  A desire for adventure?  Initially, it was a strongly-held belief that the war would be of short duration.

The unit was mustered in on June 3, 1861 for three years of service.  Soon marching orders came, and by June 24th, the unit had crossed the Ohio River and was on the march to what is now West Virginia. For a full description of the unit's activity, click here.

On September 10, 1861 the "Bloody Tinth" was part of three Brigades under the Command of General Rosencrans.  They engaged in the Battle of Carnifex Ferry.  As a family historian, I cannot establish what Charles' role may or may not have been in this battle.  The only thing I can ascertain for sure is that he was in the area.  As noted in the previous post, Charles was reported absent as early as October.  It is noted that he was left in a hospital in Charleston, West Virginia by November.  It seems as if he remained in the hospital until his unit returned to Cincinnati where he was immediately placed in the hospital, discharged, and given a Surgeon's Certificate of Disability.

Charles suffered from "Bright's Disease."  The term is no longer in use.  According to Wikipedia,
The symptoms are usually severe. Back pain, phantom testicular pain[9][10] in males, elevated blood pressure, vomiting and fever commonly signal an attack. Edema, varying in degree from slight puffiness of the face to an accumulation of fluid sufficient to distend the whole body, and sometimes severely restricted breathing, is very common. Urine is reduced in quantity, is of dark, smoky or bloody color, and has higher levels of albumin (albuminuria). (Note: Links are not active).
All of this occurred before Charles was 20 years old.  In less than a year of volunteering to serve in the military, Charles had become chronically ill and had been discharged from the military.  But once again, my very existence was dependent on him.  So there must be more to the story.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Charles C. Gross - My Maternal 2X Great-Grandfather

Note:  This post will predominately be of interest to the "Ryan" side of my family.

First things first -- how is Charles Gross related to me (and by extension, you)?  I've included a chart for clarification.

Charles Gross was born in Wuerttemberg, Germany about 1842.  I am still researching his German roots and trying to locate an immigration record.  According to one record, he came to Cincinnati about 1858.  I first became interested in him when I was researching ancestors who served in the Civil War.  Charles is one of them.

It's been an interesting journey.  One challenge of family historians is to compile as many facts as possible about an individual and then try to put "flesh on the bones."  So here is a list of the facts:
  • Charles was born about 1841-42 in Wuerttemberg, Germany.
  • Emigrated to the United States about 1858.
  • Listed in the 1860 Cincinnati City Directory as a "laborer" living at 830 Western Row
  • Enlisted in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 10th Regiment, Company I at Camp Dennison on June 3, 1861 for three years of service at the start of the Civil War.
  • 10th Regiment engages in a battle at Carnifex Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) on September 10, 1861. (I think Charles probably engaged in this battle). Union victory.
  • Muster rolls for October, 1861 report Charles "absent without remark."
  • Muster rolls for November to December 1861 report Charles "absent - left in hospital at Charleston, West Va on November 2nd.
  • Muster rolls for January and February 1862 report Charles "absent in hospital in West Va.
  • Records report that he is "not present for any payment" through August of 1862.  Cause of absence in hospital not stated.
  • On September 26, 1862 the unit returned to Cincinnati and Charles was sent to the Main Hospital in Cincinnati.  He was issued a Surgeon's Certificate of Disability on September 27, 1862 for "Bright's Disease of kidneys" -- stricture of urethra for six months standing.
  • Returns to occupation as a baker.
  • Marries Rosina Becker aka Rose Baker on June 21, 1864 in Cincinnati, Hamilton Co., Ohio. Rose immigrated from Lorraine, France.  Although a French citizen, she is ethnically German.
  • Charles and Rose become parents of six children:  Rose (02 may 1865), Julius (18 May 1866), Catherine (March 1869), Carl (Nov 1872), Eliza "Alice" (Sept 1874), and Julia (24 Dec 1877). Catherine and Carl die before age 2.
  • Charles is admitted to Longview Asylum on April 4, 1878 suffering from Bright's Disease and "insanity".  Cause of insanity listed as becoming "overheated at work" resulting in him becoming an invalid.  What may have been heat stroke occurred in 1874.
  • Dies on January 3, 1879 in Longview.  Age 37.
  • Buried in an unmarked grave in Spring Grove Cemetery in Section 48, Lot 76.
  • Civil War Pension Index lists his physical description as 5'7",  fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair.  Occupation:  Baker.
  • Certificate of Death states that Charles was a resident of Cincinnati for 21 years at the time of his death.
So those are the documented "facts."  But the facts really don't tell us WHO Charles was.  Over the next few posts, I will try to put "flesh on those bones."  I encourage family, in particular, to let me know if your interpretation of the "facts" differs from mine.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Brian and Shannon's Wedding

Shannon and Brian Jones
Their faces say it all!  Saturday, May 14th, my nephew, Brian, married his high school sweetheart.  What is amazing (and encouraging) is that their love for each other has survived taking time apart after high school graduation, Ohio State University, and moves to separate cities.  What a joyful day it was!

Dusty and Tim
 My purpose in writing this post is not so much to focus on the events of the day, but rather to include some pictures of my wonderful family.  Brian is the son of my brother, Tim, and his wife, Dusty.  Included in the wedding party was the sister of the groom, Lisa, her husband, Chip, and their older son, Will.  My great-niece, Savannah, was the flower girl.

Will and Savannah



Lisa and Will

Isaac, Chip and Lisa's youngest son, didn't seem to be too impressed about the rest of his family members participating in the wedding.  Here he is held by my niece, Tessa.

Of course, I have to include  pictures of my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson.

There are SO many pictures I would have liked to include.  My suggestion to other family members is that you click on this link should you want to see more.  Needless to say, all of us were thrilled to welcome Shannon to the Jones family.  Nothing could make us happier!

My brother, Ted, driving the newlyweds away in his 1949 Packard.


Friday, May 13, 2011

A Day in Eden

Cincinnati is known as the city of seven hills.  One of my favorite hills is one called Mt. Adams. There is a special city park nearby called Eden Park.  It has more than one view of the Ohio River.  The river is high now, but thankfully, not flooding like what is happening on the Mississippi. 

Today I got to spend with my grandson, Ian.  Of course, I had to take him to Eden Park so we could check out the river and the view of the bridges connecting Cincinnati with northern Kentucky.  If you want to make a "river rat" you must start working on them when they are young.

Since the last time I was there, the Park Board has installed a delightful play area close to the overlook.  It was perfect weather for Ian to explore all of the challenges the play area had in store for him.  One father from Puerto Rico was there with his two daughters and a neighbor.  We all had a great time.

One of the reasons we headed to the park is that it is also the home of the Krohn Conservatory. Each year, the Krohn Conservatory sponsors a butterfly show. This year, the show featured butterflies from Brazil. Each of the children was given a "flower" to wear on their finger to try to entice the butterflies to land on them. (Since I am a former science teacher, I immediately recognized an experiment. I wondered which color "flower" was most likely to attract the butterflies. What other variables, in addition to color, would have an effect on which "flowers" were selected by the butterflies)?

The one thing I did not anticipate was that Ian did not want to attract the butterflies to himself. He seemed OK with them landing in my hair and with other kids showing him butterflies they had "caught" -- but I never could convince him to try to catch one for himself.

It was a great day to be a Grandma!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bill Reed's 75th Birthday!

Kath and Bill
Photo Credit:  Mark Jones
Today is my husband's 75th birthday!  This, in itself, is quite an accomplishment.  Bill suffered is first of many heart attacks when he was 42 years old.  He's had two triple-bypass heart surgeries and double stents put in. And yet yesterday we indulged in one of our guilty pleasures -- riding our bikes the eleven miles to Loveland.  Bill has always loved exercise, and his cardiologist would be the first one to tell you that that is the reason he is still here.

Bill is my second husband.  He has one daughter, Julie, from his previous marriage.  We met when I was a divorced single parent of a less than three-year old daughter.  When we started dating, my daughter who was used to having me all to herself, did not feel like we needed anyone else in our lives.  He hung in there, however, and we were married 5 1/2 years later.

Roland, Bill, and Kathy on Elixir
Bill is NOT defined by his health.  One of his favorite passions was sailing.  For more than 30 years, Bill spent just about every weekend from May through October on whatever boat he had at the time.  As I grew up in a family of "stink boaters," having a sailboat was "heresy." Now our son-in-law, Roland, is Elixir's owner and captain.

We have been married for 24 years.  Not only was Bill a "father" to my daughter, but now has the privilege of being a "grandfather" to Ian.  I've been blessed by knowing him for thirty years.  The joke in our family is that Bill is always on the verge of "dying."  When we decided to get married, I was led to believe I'd only have to make it through a couple of years (since he'd be dead before too long).  Not only have I shared most of my adult life with him, but we've also been able to travel together all over the United States, Canada, Europe and Israel. He is the BEST travel companion.  We know how to accommodate each other's health issues.

So I wish the best for Bill as we move forward from here.   I'm grateful for the wonderful partner he is.

Ian, Kath, Bill, Roland and Liz - Easter 2011
Photo Credit:  Mark Jones, Nephew



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's May, it's May -- The Lusty Month of May!

In Cincinnati last month we missed the all-time monthly rainfall record by 0.16 of an inch.  Only January 1937 had more rain and that was the year of the '37 Flood.  May has started out with more than two inches of rain in two days.  With all of this rain, I just had to cheer myself up by focusing on the May flowers all over my yard.  Enjoy -- and drier days and sunshine just have to be on the way.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easter 2011

I love the holidays -- in my family the holidays mean family.
Easter 2011 was no different.  My brother, Tom, and sister-in-law. Linda, once again agreed to have us over.  My daughter, her husband and my grandson came down a couple of days early, giving Ian and me the chance to color Easter eggs.  Ian is a huge fan of the color "green."  Can you tell?

My brother, Ted, entertained all of us by showing up in a 1949 Packard.  Thankfully the predicted rain did not arrive or I'm sure we would have had to go to great lengths to keep the spots off of the car.

Of course, the Easter Bunny showed up.  We didn't have as many of the next generation in attendance as usual, but those who were able to come had a wonderful time.

I understand that my great niece has made it her mission to determine who is playing the Easter Bunny.

Easter represents new birth and resurrection, as does spring.  This year I planted a couple of azalea bushes in honor of my mother.  She would always say that the azaleas were in bloom on Derby Day -- the first Saturday of May.  Thanks to my son-in-law, the bushes and some of my other spring flowers were captured in pictures.  Oh, how I love this time of the year.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and is enjoying spring on this, the first day of May.

Virginia Vonderheide Ryan's 112th Birthday

On May 1, 1899 Virginia Elizabeth Vonderheide was born to August Vonderheide and Anna Moser.  My maternal grandmother was born in Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky.

I'm sure that family already knows that I have written extensively about her.  Additional posts can be found by searching on her name in the search box. Today I just wanted to include a couple of my favorite pictures.

Virginia and daughters Florence, Virginia and Evelyn
Happy birthday, Grandma.  Thinking about you.