Sunday, November 15, 2009

My MERTENA Conundrum: Part II - The Sources: John Henry MERTENA (1884-1956)

This post will focus on the sources that I have consulted for John Henry MERTENA, my great-great-grandfather. As we learned from his son's delayed birth and death record, John Henry may have been born 11 Mar 1884 in Franklin County, Illinois. I can proudly say that I have actually taken Step One to solving this mystery by mailing a request to Southern Illinois University to request a copy of his birth record from their IRAD holdings. I'm crossing my fingers that the birth record exists. My next step will be to order the Franklin County birth records and index from the FHL for the time period 1861 to 1916 to look for all MERTENA/MERTEENEY births in Franklin County. I think I will wait until after the holidays to do this, since the local Family History Center is closed the week of Thanksgiving and for two or three weeks in December.

Source #1: 1900 U.S. census, Logan County, Oklahoma Territory, population schedule, Rose Hill Township, ED 143, sheet 3B, dwelling 50, family 50, James L. Cothirn household; ( accessed 15 Nov 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1339.

Since I don't have his birth record, the earliest record I have of John Henry is his 1900 census record from Rose Hill Township in Logan County, Oklahoma. Rose Hill is southwest of Mulhall. (The 1931 marriage announcement of John Henry's son said that John Henry lived west of Mulhall). In 1900, John Henry was living with his mother and stepfather. Here is a transcription of the census record:

James L. Cothirn, head, white, male, b. Feb 1861, age 39, married, married for 14 years, b. Tennessee, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Tennessee, farmer, can read/write/speak English, owns farm free of mortgage, no. 51 on farm schedule

Carrie Cothirn, wife, white, female, b. Mar 1861, age 39, married, married for 14 years, mother of 9 children, 4 children living, b. Illinois, f.b. Indiana, m.b. Indiana, able to read/write/speak English

Willie H. Cothirn, son, white, male, b. Dec 1892, age 7, single, b. Oklahoma, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Illinois, attended school 2 months

Rolena Cothirn, daughter, white, female, b. Sep 1887, age 12, single, b. Kansas, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Illinois, attended school 6 months, able to read/write/speak English

Myrtle Cothirn, daughter, white, female, b. Mar 1890, age 10, single, b. Oklahoma, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Illinois, attended school 6 months, able to read/write/speak English

Johny Mertena, stepson, white, male, b. Mar 1884, age 16, single, b. Illinois, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Illinois, attended school 4 months, able to read/write/speak English
This again says that John Henry was born in Mar 1884 in Illinois. This makes me a little more confident because this record is the earliest created record I've found so far that states a birth date and place for him. The source is unknown because it's not possible to know who the census taker talked to that day, but my guess is that it was Carrie, since she would have been in the best position to know John Henry's birth date and place, and this info is consistent with later records. This census record states John Henry's father's birthplace as Tennessee, but it looks to me like the census taker just copied down the same info of his half-siblings. Of course, it's entirely possible John Henry's biological father was from Tennessee as well. It says that Carrie had 9 children, four of whom were still living. I would presume the four living to be John Henry, Rolena, Myrtle, and Willie. There is the family story that she had 3 or 4 girls with her first husband who all died in childhood. Some of the five children could have been with her second husband as well. This census record also tells us that the family moved sometime before Sep 1887 from Illinois to Kansas and then moved again sometime between Sep 1887 and Mar 1890 to Oklahoma.

I just realized that I need to order a copy of the marriage record of John Henry MERTENA and Blanche WELDEN. My grandmother has a copy of a marriage record for them that is in a very large frame hanging up at her house. We believe this is a copy provided for them by the minister who performed the marriage and not an official copy. They were married 25 Dec 1907 in Mulhall, Logan, Oklahoma (just one month after Oklahoma became a state). The FHL has Logan County marriages from the Judge of Probate's Office on microfilm from 1890 to 1908. I think I will order the microfilm that covers Dec 1907 when I order the Franklin County birth records.

Source #2: 1910 U.S. census, Logan County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Rose Hill Township, ED 138, sheet 7B, dwelling 131, family 135, J. Henry Mertena household; ( accessed 15 Nov 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1260.

By the time of the 1910 census, John Henry and Blanche had been married 2 years. Their only child, my great-grandfather, wouldn't be born for another four months. It looks like John Henry hadn't ventured too far from his mother and stepfather's home, considering he was still in Rose Hill Township.

J. Henry Mertena, head, male, white, age 26, married once, married for 2 years, b. Illinois, f.b. Pennsylvania, m.b. Illinois, speaks English, farmer, works on own account, able to read/write, owns home free of mortgage, no. 21 on farm schedule

Blanche Mertena, wife, female, white, age 26, married once, married for 2 years, no children, b. Missouri, f.b. Kentucky, m.b. Kentucky, speaks English, able to read/write
Since the official census date was 15 Apr 1910, John Henry's age of 26 supports a birth date of 11 Mar 1884. His birthplace is given again as Illinois. His father's birthplace is given here as Pennsylvania. So now we have one vote for Tennessee (albeit a shaky one) and one vote for Pennsylvania. Again, we don't know the source because we don't know who gave the information to the census taker. If it was John Henry, he was probably relaying info his mother had given him about his father's birthplace.

Source #3: "World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database and images, ( : accessed 16 Nov 2009), John H. Mertena, Draft Board, Guthrie, Logan County, Oklahoma; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, roll 1851806.

John H. Mertena
Resident of Mulhall, Logan, Oklahoma
Age 34
Born 11 Mar 1884
Natural-born U.S. citizen
Self-employed farmer in Mulhall
Nearest relative is Blanche Mertena of Mulhall
Medium build, medium height
Brown eyes, dark hair
Whew! Another document that confirms his birth date as 11 Mar 1884. Too bad it didn't ask him exactly where he was born.

Source #4: 1920 US Census, Logan County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Rose Hill Township, ED 68, sheet 3A, dwelling 57, family, John Mertino household; ( accessed 16 Nov 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1470.

John Mertino, head, rents home, male, white, age 35, married, able to read and write, b. Illinois, f.b. France, m.b. Illinois, able to speak English, farmer on a general farm, employer, no. 51 on farm schedule

Blanche Mertino, wife, female, white, age 36, married, able to read and write, b. Missouri, f.b. Kentucky, m.b. Kentucky, able to speak English

Merlen Mertino, son, male, white, age 9, single, attends school, b. Oklahoma, f.b. Illinois, m.b. Missouri, able to speak English
Great, now we have a vote for France as John Henry's father's birthplace. So, that's one shaky vote for Tennessee, a less shaky vote for Pennsylvania, and a less shaky vote for France. As the official census day is 1 Jan 1919, his age of 35 supports a birth date of 11 Mar 1884. At least this date and his birthplace as Illinois have been consistent.

Source #5: 1930 US census, Logan County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Mulhall Township, ED 23, sheet 5A, dwelling 73, family, 80, John H. Mertena household; ( accessed 16 Nov 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1912.

John H. Mertena, head, owns home, owns radio, lives on a farm, white, male, age 46, married, age 24 at first marriage, able to read and write, b. Illinois, f.b. Pennsylvania, m.b. Illinois, able to speak English, farmer, works on own account, not a veteran, no. 72 on farm schedule

Blanche Mertena,
wife, white, female, age 46, married, age 24 at first marriage, able to read and write, b. Missouri, f.b. Kentucky, m.b. Kentucky, speaks English

Merlen P. Mertena, son, white, male, age 19, single, able to read and write, b. Oklahoma, f.b. Illinois, m.b. Missouri, speaks English, general farmer, wage earner, not a veteran
Now there are two votes for Pennsylvania for John Henry's father's birthplace. Again, his age is consistent with a birth date of 11 Mar 1884, and his birthplace is consistent as Illinois.

Source #6:
Louisiana State Department of Health, death certificate [no number given], John Henry Mertena (1956); Vital Records Registry, New Orleans.

Last Name of Deceased: Mertena
First Name: John
Second Name: Henry
Date of Death: 28 Jan 1956
Hour of Death: 10:30 PM
Sex: Male
Race: White
Marital Status: Married
Spouse Name: Blanche Weldon
Age of Spouse: 72
Date of Birth of Deceased: 11 Mar 1884
Age of Deceased: 71 y, 10 m, 19 d
Birthplace: East St. Louis, Illinois
Occupation: Farmer
Industry: Cattle & Ranch
Ever in US Armed Forces: No
Place of Death: Maplewood, Calcasieu, Louisiana
Length of Stay: 3 months
Street Address: 102 Beech St.
Usual Residence: Same as above
Father's Name: J.H. Mertena
Birthplace: France
Mother's Name: Carey Orth
Birthplace: Penn
Informant: Mrs. John Henry Mertena
Cause of Death: Circulatory Collapse (4 hours) due to Bronchogenic carcinoma (4 years)
Date of Burial: 01 Feb 1956
Place of Burial: Odd Fellows Cemetery, Marshall, Oklahoma
A new possibility for the birthplace of John Henry: East St. Louis, Illinois. East St. Louis is in St. Clair County in southern Illinois and is slightly northwest of Franklin County. This is the first time we've seen his father's name: J.H. MERTENA. Again, his father's birthplace is given as France, as it was in the 1920 census. The informant was John Henry's wife, Blanche.

Source #7: "J.H. Mertena Dies Saturday," obituary, Lake Charles (Louisiana) American Press, 30 Jan 1956, p. 12, col. 3.

SULPHUR -- John Henry Mertena, 71, died at 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the home of his son, 102 East Beech road, Maplewood.

A resident of Mulhall, Okla., for 35 years, he had been visiting his son, Merlen P. Mertena, the past three months. The body was sent by the Hixson funeral home of Sulphur Sunday afternoon to the Smith funeral home in Guthrie, Okla.

Services will be Thursday at Mulhall and burial will be in the Odd Fellows cemetery in Marshall, Okla.

Survivors include his wife, Blanche; one son, Merlen P. Mertena; four grandchildren; one great-grandchild; one brother, W.H. Cothern of Mulhall, Okla.; and two sisters, Mrs. Edgar Norris of Crescent, Okla., and Mrs. Henry Tate of Lokeba, Okla.

Mr. Mertena was born in East St. Louis, Ill., A farmer and cattleman, he had lived in central Oklahoma since 1889.
The date of 1889 is consistent with the dates suggested by the 1900 census for the family's move date into Oklahoma. I digress here from the task at hand, but this obituary reminds me of a story my grandmother told me about her grandfather, John Henry. She said that he had come to Louisiana because he was very sick with cancer, and my great-grandfather was his only child, so he had no other children to help take care of him. Even though he was very sick, he loved to watch Groucho Marx on television. When Marx was on television, he would get up out of the bed and come to the living room to watch it. He would always ask to hold my dad when he got up to watch Groucho Marx. My dad is the great-grandchild listed in the obituary. He was only 6 months old when John Henry died. My grandmother and my dad were living with my great-grandparents at the time because my grandfather was in the Navy. That must have been interesting having four generations under one roof, if only for three months.

All records seem to be pretty consistent about a birth date of 11 Mar 1884.

Here's a tally for the birthplace of John Henry MERTENA:

Illinois - 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 census

Franklin County, IL - delayed birth record of son, Merlen Paris MERTENA (1944)
death record of son, Merlen Paris MERTENA (1989)

East St. Louis, St. Clair County, IL - death record of John Henry MERTENA (1956)
obituary of John Henry MERTENA (1956)

Here's a tally of the results for the birthplace of John Henry's father:

Tennessee - 1900 census (may be the birthplace of stepfather instead of father)
Pennsylvania - 1910 census, 1930 census
France - 1920 census, death record of John Henry MERTENA (1956)

Here's a tally of the results for the name of John Henry's father:

J.H. MERTENA - death record of John Henry MERTENA (1956)

My next post will focus on the records I've found so far for John Henry's mother, Carrie ORTH.

Introducing Vicariously Victorian!

In my previous post, I mentioned that during my trip to California, my sister and I did research at the county courthouse to find information about the previous owners of her old Victorian house. If you would like to learn more about the house, or are interested in restoring old homes, please visit my sister's new blog, Vicariously Victorian.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My MERTENA Conundrum: Part II - The Sources: Merlen Paris MERTENA

The next few posts about my MERTENA conundrum will focus on the sources I've consulted so far in my research. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't consulted all sources out there. I've mainly consulted the easiest to access sources.

This first post will be about the sources I've found on my great-grandfather, Merlen Paris MERTENA.

Source #1: Oklahoma State Health Department, delayed birth certificate no. 3019 (issued 1944), Merlen Paris Mertena, Division of Vital Statistics, Oklahoma City.

Full Name of Child: Merlen Paris Mertena
Date of Birth: 09 Sep 1910
Race: White
Sex: Male
Place of Birth: Logan County, Oklahoma
Father: John Henry Mertena
Birthdate of Father: 11 Mar 1884
Birthplace of Father: Franklin County, Illinois
Mother: Blanche Welden
Birthdate of Mother: 31 Aug 1883
Birthplace of Mother: Coffeyville, Missouri
Signed Merlen Paris Mertena of 105 E. Fresno, Ponca City, Oklahoma
Date Signed: 04 Feb 1944
Signed Blanche Mertena of Mulhall, Oklahoma
Date Signed: 23 Dec 1943
Abstract of Supporting Evidence: Family Bible (made at birth) and Oklahoma Driver's License (made in 1938)
This gives the birthplace of John Henry MERTENA as Franklin County, Illinois, and his birth date as 11 Mar 1884. Franklin County is in southern Illinois. It was formed in 1818, and it's county seat is Benton. It is surrounded by Jefferson County to the north, Williamson County to the south, Jackson County to the southwest, Saline County to the southeast, Perry County to the west, and Hamilton County to the east. John Henry was still alive at the time this delayed birth record for his son was created, though his wife, Blanche WELDEN, his son, Merlen Paris MERTENA, and the family Bible are listed as the sources of the information. This information is probably based on what John Henry's mother, Carrie ORTH, told him about his birth, which he presumably relayed to his wife and/or son. At best, this is a secondary source.

Source #2: Logan County, Oklahoma, Marriage Records, 25:47, Mertena-Proffit (1931); County Clerk's Office, Guthrie; FHL microfilm 378,328.

Name of groom: Merlin Mertena
Age: 21
Race: W
Place of birth: Okla.
Residence: Mulhall, Okla.
Name of bride: Hassie Proffitt
Age: 22
Race: W
Place of birth: Okla.
Residence: Crescent, Okla.
Date of license: 14 Feb 1931
Person performing ceremony: J.E. Burt, Minister, Methodist Epsicopal [Church] at Mulhall, Logan, Oklahoma
Date of marriage: 14 Feb 1931
Witnesses: Mrs. Blanche Mertena of Mulhall & Mr. Wm. S. Burt of Guthrie
Filed 17 Feb 1931
This record does not seem to provide any information about John Henry MERTENA.

Source #3: "Friends Honor Mertenas," undated clipping from unidentified newspaper, owned 2009 by Merlene (MERTENA) TRAHAN, Vinton, Louisiana. Merlene is the daughter of Merlen Paris MERTENA and Hassie Cora PROFFITT.

Friends to the number of about twenty gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Mertena, west of Mulhall, Saturday evening to honor Mr. and Mrs. Merlen Mertena, whose marriage was an event of February 14. The bride, formerly Miss Hassie Proffitt, is teaching school near Crescent. The couple were married at the Methodist parsonage at Mulhall by Rev. J.E. Burt. Mrs. Mertena is a daughter of Rev. and Mrs. W.H. Proffitt, of Hollister, Okla., and the groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Mertena. The bride will complete her school term. A special time was enjoyed by all at the event Saturday evening. Cigars and candy were passed to the group.
Again, this newspaper clipping, while valuable in its own right, does not provide any information about John Henry MERTENA, except that he was living west of Mulhall, Oklahoma, at the time of his son's marriage in Feb 1931.

Source #4: Louisiana Office of Public Health, death certificate [no number given], Merlen Paris Mertena (1989); Vital Records Registry, New Orleans.

Full Name of Deceased: Merlen Paris Mertena
Date of Death: 07 May 1989
Hour of Death: 9:45 PM
Sex: Male
Race: White
Marital Status: Widowed
Date of Birth: 09 Sep 1910
Age: 78
Birthplace: Logan County, Oklahoma
Occupation: Operator
Industry: Refinery
Of Hispanic Origin: No
Ever in US Armed Forces: No
Social Security Number: 440-14-2613
Place of Death: Nursing Home
Name of Facility: Holly Hill Rest Home
Location of Facility: Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisana
Usual Residence: 224 Self St, Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisiana 70663
Father: John H. Mertena
Birthplace: Franklin County, Illinois
Mother: Blanche Welden
Birthplace: Coffeyville, Missouri
Informant: Joe H. Mertena, 104 East End, Sulphur, LA 70663
Cause of death: Cardiac duress
Disposition: Burial at Mimosa Pines Cemetery in Sulphur, Louisiana
Funeral Home: Hixson Funeral Home, Sulphur, Louisiana
Again, his son's death record gives John Henry's birthplace as Franklin County, Illinois. The informant for the death record was my great-uncle, Joseph Henry "Tony" MERTENA, son of Merlen Paris MERTENA. I'm not quite sure if the birthplace of John Henry MERTENA was passed down orally to Tony, or if he had a copy of the delayed birth record of Merlen Paris MERTENA. Tony was 14 when his grandfather, John Henry MERTENA, passed away in 1956, so it's possible his birth information was relayed to Tony by John Henry MERTENA himself. It's also possible that Tony consulted with my grandmother, his sister, who was six years older than him and close to their grandfather, before giving the information. Either way, this information is again secondary at best.

Source #5: "Merlen P. Mertena," obituary, Lake Charles (Louisiana) American Press, 10 May 1989, page 2, column 2.

Sulphur -- Funeral services for Merlen P. Mertena, 70, of 224 Self St., will be at 2:30 p.m. today, May 10, in Hixson-Guardian Chapel. The Rev. Howard Childs will officiate. Burial will be in Mimosa Pines Cemetery. Mr. Mertena died at 9:45 p.m. Sunday in a local rest home. A native of Logan County, Okla., he had lived in Sulphur most of his life. He was a retired operator for Conoco, and had been a member of Maplewood United Methodist Church since 1953. Survivors are two sons, William John Mertena of Olympia, Wash., and Joe H. Mertena of Sulphur; two daughters, Mrs. Merlene Trahan of Vinton and Mrs. Jill Ellender of Lake Charles; 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
While this does provide great information about my great-grandfather's life and his children, it does not mention his parents at all.

So, what can we conclude? We can conclude that John Henry MERTENA was possibly born on 11 Mar 1884 in Franklin County, Illinois.

What to do next? Southern Illinois University, an Illinois Regional Archives Depository, has birth records and an index to birth records for Franklin County from 1877 to 1916. I need to write them to see if they can look up John Henry's birth record. I know from past experience that they will look up one to two names at a time, and all it costs is $1.00 per page copied if they find anything. Though in the end I probably will want to order the birth records in full from the FHL. They have Franklin County birth records from 1861 to 1915 and the index from 1877 to 1916. This will allow me to look for other MERTENA births in Franklin County.

FamilySearch Indexing

This post is to tabulate my FamilySearch Indexing progress since I joined about a year ago or so. Most of my work has been done in the past two months, although I did join quite awhile back. I highly recommend that everyone help at least once a week with FamilySearch Indexing. The purpose of the project is to help the Family History Library get all of its microfilmed records online in digital format. Anyone can help index, and it does not cost anything. Even better, the records do not cost anything once they are online. Lately, I have been helping with 1920 US Census, which has been the highest priority of the administrators of the project. Here are my contributions so far:

This month:

Louisiana - 1920 US Census - 200 names
Maryland - 1920 US Census - 100 names
New York 1905 State Census - 100 names
North Carolina - 1920 US Census - 100 names


1905 Wisconsin State Census - 100 names
Alabama - 1870 US Census - 160 names
Arkansas County Marriages VII - 34 names
Arkansas County Marriages III - 20 names
California - 1920 US Census - 50 names
Canada - British Columbia Births - 20 names
Georgia - 1920 US Census - 200 names
Idaho - 1920 US Census - 50 names
Kentucky - 1920 US Census - 100 names
Louisiana - 1920 US Census - 200 names
Louisiana 1850-1954 Death Certificates - 171 names
Maryland - 1920 US Census - 150 names
Michigan - 1850 US Census_General - 86 names
Mississippi - 1850 US Census_General - 84 names
New York 1905 State Census - 100 names
New York - 1920 US Census - 150 names
North Carolina - 1850 US Census_Slave - 84 names
North Carolina - 1920 US Census - 100 names
Ontario 1861 Census - 50 names
West Virginia - 1920 US Census - 50 names
Wisconsin - 1920 US Census - 100 names

My MERTENA Conundrum: Part I - The People

I feel the need to write this post because this is one of the most unusual and toughest surnames on my family tree: MERTENA. This is my paternal grandmother's maiden name. I feel that the family has been calling to me lately. Below is my outline of what I know about the MERTENA family:

1) The only surviving MERTENA male is my dad's first cousin, unless he has any sons, but I'm not sure if he does or not. I'll have to ask my grandmother.

2) My dad's first cousin is the son of William John "Bill" MERTENA, my grandmother's older brother. He died 8 Oct 2001 in Olympia, Thurston, Washington, where he was cremated. He was born 20 Aug 1931 in Frederick, Tillman, Oklahoma, to Merlen Paris MERTENA and Hassie Cora PROFFITT. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism. He then went on to serve in Korea before beginning his journalism career with the American Press in Lake Charles, Calcasieu, Louisana. His parents had moved to Louisiana from Oklahoma while he was in college. He married Living (name kept private to respect privacy of the living) WARD in 1958 in Lake Charles. They had four daughters and one son (mentioned above). In 1963, he moved to Washington, where he retired in 1987 from the American Press.

3) My grandmother had one other brother, Joseph Henry "Tony" MERTENA. Uncle Tony was born 15 Nov 1941 in Guthrie, Logan, Oklahoma, to Merlen Paris MERTENA and Hassie Cora PROFFITT. He died 30 Jan 1998 in Lake Charles. He did not have any sons; he only had one daughter. He was employed by Citgo Oil Refinery in Sulphur for over 20 years. He is buried at Nibletts Bluff Cemetery in Vinton, Calcasieu, Louisiana.

4) My great-grandfather was Merlen Paris "Zack" MERTENA. He was born 9 Sep 1910 in Mulhall, Logan, Oklahoma, to John Henry MERTENA and Blanche WELDEN. He married Hassie Cora PROFFITT 14 Feb 1931 in Mulhall at the Methodist parsonage. She was the daughter of William Harmon PROFFITT and Emmer Link BAKER. Zack worked as an operator for Conoco Oil Refinery, which moved the family from Mulhall to Ponca City, Kay, Oklahoma, and then to Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisiana. Zack and Hassie had two sons (Bill and Tony mentioned above) and two daughters, one of whom is my grandmother. Zack died 7 May 1989 in Sulphur, Louisiana. He is buried at Mimosa Pines Cemetery in Sulphur.

5) My great-great-grandfather was John Henry "Johnny" MERTENA. He was born 11 Mar 1884 either in Franklin County, Illinois, or East St. Louis, St. Clair, Illinois, to John Henry MERTENA/MERTEENEY and Carolina Cristina "Carrie" ORTH. The family story (unconfirmed) is that John Henry the father died the day after John Henry the son was born because of some epidemic that also killed all the other children, supposedly all girls, of John Henry the father and Carrie. Carrie and John Henry the son were the only two survivors of this epidemic. What has been confirmed is that Carrie remarried to James "Leonard" COTHERN two years later on 9 Sep 1886 in Williamson County, Illinois. Carrie and Leonard moved to Oklahoma in 1889. John Henry MERTENA the son married Blanche WELDEN 25 Dec 1907 in Mulhall, Oklahoma. They had only one child, Merlen Paris "Zack" MERTENA, my great-grandfather mentioned above. John Henry MERTENA the son died 28 Jan 1956 in Sulphur, Louisiana, where he had gone to live with his son in his old age. He is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Marshall, Logan, Oklahoma.

6) John Henry MERTENA/MERTEENEY the father was born about 1854. While a resident of Jackson County, Illinois, he married Carrie ORTH 13 Aug 1876 in Williamson County, Illinois, at the home of John BROWN, Carrie's stepfather. The family story (unconfirmed) is that his parents were the immigrant ancestors. His father, whose name is unknown, was supposedly robbed on board the ship to America and thrown overboard. John Henry was born on the ship. His mother, whose name is also unknown, eventually remarried to a pharmacist and settled in southern Illinois. The family story said that her new husband's name was BROWN, but I've since confirmed that BROWN was the name of Carrie's stepfather. This does not mean John Henry's stepfather wasn't also BROWN, but I think the stories probably got crossed over the years.

Kreativ Blogger Award

Thanks to Linda over at Flipside for awarding me the Kreativ Blogger Award! Apparently, I am supposed to list seven things about myself here:

1) I love seafood and any foods that are non-American (i.e. Cajun, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Greek, Lebanese, Nepali, Japanese, etc.), especially if they are spicy.

2) I love secondhand smoke. I know that sounds weird, and I know it's not good for me, but it reminds me of summers in Michigan as a child.

3) My bachelor's degree is in elementary education, but I'm an accountant. I believe that you can always change your mind.

4) Speaking of changing my mind, sometimes I think about going back to school for a Master's in Library Science, and sometimes I think about getting a Master's in Theological Studies.

5) I love to study religions, particularly the differences between the various Christian denominations.

6) I love to read. I am currently reading Lalita Tademy's Red River. I highly recommend it for all you other genealogists out there, as it is her family saga, based on her own genealogical research on her father's family. She wrote about her mother's family in Cane River. Of course, I do read non-genealogical related books. My favorite book is Rapture of Canaan, and I love just about anything by Anita Shreve. I also LOVE children's books.

7) I'm going on the RootsMagic Valentine's Cruise in 2010!

I would like to award the following blogs with the Kreativ Blogger Award:

1) Caroline at Family Stories
2) Lisa at Small-Leaved Shamrock, 100 Years in America, and A Light That Shines Again
3) Cindy at Everything's Relative
4) Terri at The Ties That Bind
5) Liz at My Big Fat Cajun/Irish/Scottish/English/German/French/Southern Family Blog
6) Elizabeth at Little Bytes of Life
7) Allum at Spence-Lowry Family History

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day Salute

I would like to say a big thank you to all the veterans in my family:

My dad: Michael David Trahan, U.S. Coast Guard, 1974-1978
My paternal grandfather: Benford Maurice Trahan, U.S. Navy, 1955-c. 1958
My maternal grandfather: John Peter Pemberton, U.S. Army Air Corps, 1946-1949
My maternal grandfather: Clifford Robert Drouillard, U.S. Marines and Canadian Royal Army, c. 1950-c.1960
My first cousin: Michael Adam Pemberton, U.S. Air Force, 1995-2008
My uncle: George Albert Pemberton, U.S. Army, c. 1971-c. 1973
My uncle: James Frederick Chamberlain, U.S. Marines (served in Vietnam), c. 1966-c. 1970
My great-uncle: William John Mertena, U.S. Army (served in Korea), c. 1953-c. 1957
My great-uncle: William Howard Pemberton, U.S. Army, c. 1950-c. 1954
My great-uncle: Franklin Mearl Pemberton, U.S. Army, c. 1951-c. 1955
My great-great-great-grandfather: John C. Pemberton, Company C, 1st Michigan Cavalry, Civil War
My great-great-great-great-uncle, Stephen Pemberton, Company C, 1st Michigan Cavalry, Civil War (died from illness contracted during Civil War service)

Another special thank you goes out to two friends of mine who both died in Afghanistan:

Jimmy Shawn Lee (1978-2005), U.S. Marines, Mount Vernon, Indiana
John Michael Hennen (1981-2007), U.S. Army National Guard, Vinton (Louisiana) High Class of 1999

Jim is the cousin of my best friend, Rachel, and I went to school with John for several years in Vinton.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Surname Distributions: Trahan and Pemberton

Randy over at GeneaMusings has challenged us for another night of Saturday night genealogy fun. This time we are to go to the Public Profiler website and determine the distribution of our surnames. I chose to look at my father's and mother's surnames of Trahan and Pemberton, respectively.

There were no surprises for Trahan. Everyone in southwest Louisiana knows that the Trahan's were Acadians who were exiled from Nova Scotia in the 1700s. It looks like Trahan has the highest frequency in the U.S. and Canada with 93.75 FPM in Canada and 50.81 FPM in the U.S. The top regions are Louisiana with 1,926.36 FPM and Quebec with 560.76 FPM. The next highest frequency regions are Vermont, Mississippi, and New Hampshire. Many Acadians were exiled to the northeastern U.S., so this is why Vermont and New Hampshire have the highest rates after Louisiana. I assume Mississippi is just a bunch of transplanted Louisianians.

Pemberton is most frequent in the U.K. with 125.38 FPM. Next is New Zealand with 108.28 FPM and Australia with 94.36 FPM. In the UK, it is most frequent in the North West, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and Humberside.

UPDATE: I went back and looked up the maiden name of my paternal grandmother, Merlene Golda Mertena. Mertena has to be the hardest to find name in my tree. I had no luck. All I found was a Mertena in Washington, where my great-uncle and his son live. Darn! That is the only place in the world where there is a Mertena, and I already know those Mertena's!! I told you it was the hardest name to find!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pemberton Obituary Project: Samuel Pemberton

Samuel Pemberton was the third son and fifth child of Jeremiah Pemberton and Susannah Jermyn. Interestingly, I have found some patents that seem to belong to him at Google's patent search. They had to do with life jackets or something to that effect. Samuel was the hardest for me to find info on because his name was so common, and he disappeared for the 1880 census. For the longest time, I thought he had died young like his older brother, Stephen. Then I just happened to notice a marriage entry for him and Ellen McCoy in the IGI. The marriage took place in St. Clair County, Michigan, on the same day as his younger brother William's marriage to Hannah Winters. That's when I had a hunch that it was my Samuel.

From The Evening News (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan), "Samuel Pemberton," 15 Aug 1917, p. 3

Samuel Pemberton, 59 years old, passed away at Monoskong Bay yesterday morning. His body was brought today to the home of his son, Albert E. Pemberton, 815 Young street, from where burial will be made tomorrow afternoon at 2 o'clock, Rev. A.H. Owens of the First Baptist church, officiating. One daughter, Mrs. Jack Floats, of Monoskong, and four sons, Albert, William, John and Harold, of the Soo survive.
First, I would like to thank a kind volunteer from RAOGK for finding this obit for me. As Samuel seems to have navigated away from St. Clair County, where my family still lives, it was harder for me to get to his obituary on my last two visits to Michigan.

The first thing I noticed is that his daughter's married name is spelled wrong. It is Sloats (not Floats). His daughter was Essie Maud Pemberton, born Sep 1876. She married Albert John "Jack" Sloats in 1903 in Alger County, Michigan.

Samuel's first three children were born in St. Clair County, Michigan, between 1875 and 1879. His fourth and fifth children, Albert and Harold, were born in Alpena County in 1888 and 1895. Considering Samuel turned up missing for the 1880 census (perhaps this is when he was en route for Alpena), I'm surprised I had managed to locate all of his children prior to finding this obituary, or at least all five of them who were still living at the time of his death. I presume that there were probably some who died in childhood, considering his third child was born in 1879 and his fourth child 9 years later in 1888. Then his fifth child was not born until another 7 years.

Apparently, Monoskong Bay is actually spelled Munuscong Bay and seems to be a popular walleye fishing and duck hunting area today in the Upper Peninsula (UP). It is just south of Sault Ste. Marie. I really wonder what made Samuel move from southeastern Michigan to the UP. Samuel's death certificate and the 1910 census said he was a cook in the camps. I'm wondering if these were lumber camps. I'll have to do a little more research to learn the industries of the time in the UP. My best guess as to why he moved is that it had something to do with available work. His older brother, John, my great-great-great-grandfather, took on their father's trade of blacksmith. Perhaps there wasn't room in the community for another blacksmith. John did move south to Macomb County to practice as a blacksmith, so maybe Samuel had to move as well. Samuel's 1871 marriage record lists his occupation as blacksmith, though I don't know how long he practiced the trade. His son's 1879 birth record lists his occupation as farmer. The 1900 census does not list an occupation for Samuel. It does not appear that he was a blacksmith from 1910 to 1917, as he was listed as a cook. And then there were those patents I found on Google, which make me think he worked in the marine industry for awhile. Maybe he was a cook in fishing camps.

Interestingly, the obit doesn't state where Samuel is buried. His death certificate says only "Sault Ste. Marie" as his place of burial. Perhaps there is a city cemetery where he was buried. I'll have to check.

Samuel's wife, Ellen, had died in 1909 from breast cancer. This is the only instance of breast cancer that I have ever found in the family.

The obit does not list any siblings, although he had four siblings still living: Eliza, Agnes, Sarah, and Charles. They were all living in St. Clair County, so it makes me wonder if he did not stay in touch with them after he moved away, since they were not listed.

Stay tuned for the obit of Samuel's younger brother, William, who died two years before Samuel in 1915.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Correction to Happy Halloween!

I came home to visit my parents (they live about 2.5 hours from me) on Friday afternoon. It was an exciting weekend because several events were going on: my 10-year class reunion, the Homecoming game/parade, and Halloween. Now, Halloween in my parents' hometown is the old fashioned kind where people still go door to door along Main Street. My paternal grandmother lives on Main Street, so it has been our tradition to go to her house every Halloween and help hand out candy. So when I was at my parents' house on Friday evening, and my dad brought out a box of old pictures and letters, I thought, "How could this weekend get any better?" Then I was even more excited when I found the Halloween picture of him and his brothers from 1964, and what I thought was a Halloween picture of his dad, my paternal grandfather, Benford Maurice Trahan.

On the back of it, however, I noticed it had a date stamp of Feb 1941. I thought that was unusual, but I thought that maybe it had taken a few months to get it developed. Then last night, my grandmother said that she thought it was a Mardi Gras picture instead. Well, that made total sense, in light of the fact of the date on the back and that my grandfather grew up in the heart of Cajun Country, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. Also, if you look at his right hand, he is holding a Mardi Gras mask. My grandmother said that my great-grandparents used to travel to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and there was a large children's parade in Lafayette, so he was probably dressed up for one of these two reasons.

So, I think I will be reposting this pic in February! Stay tuned!