This journey is going to lead me down the path of the Birch's and all those other names that have joined them. I know this will take me to England, Germany, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and elsewhere. The men in this family will be working as coalminers, railroad brakemen and Laborers in Saw Mills.

The common name "birch" is derived from an old Germanic root, birka, with the Proto-Indo-European root *bherəg, "white, bright; to shine."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mystery Occupations for these Birch's

As I was searching through census records in order to piece together the lives of Henry Birch, Ellen Emily Birch, and their two children William Henry Birch and Emily Birch,  I came across some odd occupations that I had never seen before.

Looking at the 1911 Census of England it reports that Henry and William were both working as "Twisthands".  Emily, 18 yrs old, was working as a "Jacker-off".  I had no idea what type of occupations those were.  So I began my search here

I love that site and have found it quite useful to research occupations that I have never heard of.  I encourage you all to save that in your favorites or bookmark it.    What I found was a "twisthand" is - one who operated a lace machine.  So both father and son were lace machine operators.   Now we get to Emily who is a "jacker-off".  I couldn't find that occupation on that site but in searching the internet I found a random message board where someone posted that a "jacker-off" is - takes off from bobbins, waste lengths of unused threads, and winds them on to large wooden bobbins, using a small winding machine.   I'm sure father and his children,  of this Birch family, all worked at the same lace factory.    You can see that mother stayed at home.  

Other interesting facts I find on this 1911 Census from England was that they lived at 35 Milner Road, Long Eaton, UK.    The housing box states, "Write below the Number of Rooms in this Dwelling (House, Tenement, or Apartment) count the Kitchen as a room but do not count scullery, landing, lobby, closet, bathroom; nor warehouse, office, shop".  Henry Birch listed 5 rooms. 

Learned from this 1911 Census is that mother had a total of 6 children.  Three of the are living and three of them have died.  This isn't surprising as this seemed common at that time. 

Thank you Henry, William and Emily for working in fields that I was not aware of.  Because of the three of you I'm just a little smarter today.  :)

Warm Regards,

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday ~ George S. Thomas

George S. Thomas is pictured here with his wife Lydia (nee Livingston) Thomas, their baby Elizabeth Ann "Lizzie" Thomas, and Lydia is pregnant with Jacob K. Thomas.  All of that is confirmed by the writing on the photo as is the date of 1906.

George was born July 7, 1859 in Conemaugh, Somerset, Pennsylvania where he remained the rest of his life.  He and Lydia had a total of 7 children - Elizabeth Ann Thomas, Jacob K. Thomas, Daniel Lawrence Thomas, Millie Mae Thomas, Amanda Thomas, Miller Thomas and Nannie Thomas.

George's father's name was Emanuel Thomas and his mother was Hannah Thomas, both of them born and died in Pennsylvania.

The 1880 census shows George, age 20,  living at home and employed as a "laborer" "odd jobs".  His family was living next door to the Livingstons.

The next census I find is 1910. George was now married to Lydia Livingston with their only children at the time being "Lizzie" and "Jacob". Her family is on the property next to them.   It appears she is not far from home and I'm sure had the help of her family with the children.  It again list's George's work as a "Laborer" doing "odd jobs".   They don't realize yet that they would have five more children.

George died on September 20, 1928 at the age of 69.  He left behind Lydia and their children.  Lydia went on to live until 1954 to the age of  73.

Here is George Thomas's tombstone.  It has been clearly noted that the "M" is not correct and his middle initial is in fact "S".

His final resting place is in Sala-Livingston Farm Cemetery, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, USA.

Warm Regards,

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sepia Saturday ~ Writings from Irvin A Horner

This week's Sepia Saturday presents the photo to the left  as a way to inspire others to write something historical through their own photographs.  The picture presented is of a group of men possibly finishing a game of "hurling".  Also showing on that photo are some writings.  That photo inspired me to write about a Great Grand Uncle in which I recently have found some photos of.

Irvin Horner  was the oldest of nine children born to Ananias J. Horner and Sarah Eash on March 20, 1886 in Somerset, Pennsylvania.   At the age of 14, in 1900, Irvin doesn't appear to be attending any type of school but instead he is a Farm Laborer. 

At the age of 24, in 1910,  he is working in the coal mines and maintaining a job known as a "trip rider" or a brakeman. In this job he would have to operate or throw switches; couple and uncouple cars; and assist motormen in the transportation of loaded coal cars from switches or sidings in the mines to the shaft.


Here is a photograph of a number of men, one who is Irvin, all in some type of uniform. On the back of this photograph is the writing to the right where you can see "Irvin" is writing to his "Aunt" on May 1, 1918, making Irvin about 32 years old.    I can't tell from these uniforms what they represent.  Irvin writes about possibly not being able to write for a while and tells his Aunt not to worry and that the photo is of his "sunday school class" when he was in "319".    I have no idea what he is referring to.  Does anyone else know?  The sign in the back of them says "Co.D". 

I did a bit of research and came up with this from Wiki: The 1st Battalion 112th Infantry Regiment draws its origins from Civil War era units, including the 13th, 15th, and 17th Regiments and still maintains the right to possess the silver bands and battle streamers awarded for battle service in the Peninsula and Virginia 1861–1863 campaigns and for participation in the battles of Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Spottsylvania. On 22 November 1878, the battalion was organized as the 16th Regiment, Pennsylvania National Guard. The Regiment consisted of companies from Erie, McKean, Venango, Elk, Warren, and Crawford counties. The units were located in Erie (Co A), Bradford (Co C), Oil City (Co D), Cooperstown (Co E), Franklin (Co F), Ridgway (Co H), Warren (Co I), and Titusville (Co K).

Going by the dates of Irvin's writing on this postcard, May 1918, I would link him to this ....  not sure if others would agree as I'm grasping at straws but this seems to make sense to me.

 World War I (1st Battalion)
On 3 July 1916, the regiment was called to service for Mexican border duty. The unit was transported to and garrisoned at El Paso, Texas for training, but was never utilized due to the ending of hostilities. The unit was mustered into federal active service on 16 July 1917 for service in World War I. On 11 October 1917 the 16th Regiment was re-designated as the 112th Infantry Regiment, became part of the 28th Infantry Division, and was the first war-strength National Guard regiment in the United States. The regiment reached France in May 1918 as part of the American Expeditionary Force. It went onto the line, 4 July 1918, in the Second Battle of the Marne. From that day on, the names Fismes, Fismette, Fond de Mezieres, and Argonne will never be forgotten. Company G and H lost a combined total of 200 men out of 230 when cut off at Fismette and fended off a frontal attack by a thousand German soldiers. The 112th Infantry Regiment returned home in April 1919 and was mustered out of federal service on 6 May 1919 at Camp Dix, New Jersey. The regiment was awarded battle streamers marked Champagne 1918, Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, Oise-Marne, Lorraine 1918, and Meuse-Argonne for their service in France.

Unfortunately, I don't know which of the men in that photograph is Irvin. Here's a photograph of him with his wife Hattie - date unknown.  Irvin and Hattie May Blough were married on June 9, 1912. 

What a cute couple they are.  I'm having a hard time seeing what they are holding up for the camera.  A box with cards on it?   This picture is taken in Pennsylvania and it looks like summertime with the full foliage on the trees.  I zoomed in and still can't tell what they are so proudly showing us.  Maybe you know. 

Warm Regards,

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday's Obituary ~ Ananias J. Horner & Sarah (nee Eash) Horner

Ananias Horner & Sarah (nee Eash) Horner
 Johnstown Tribune-Democrat
October 27, 1937

Ananias Horner, 78, died at his home in Kelso yesterday after a long illness.  He was a retired employee of the Bird Coal Company, having worked at the Kelso mines for many years until six years ago.  Born in Cambria County, he was a son of Archie and Polly (Helsel) Horner.  Surviving are his widow, the former Sarah Eash, with whom he was united in marriage November 16, 1884, and these children, Irvin, Charles, and Harry, all of Kelso; Clarence Horner of Windber; William Horner of Benscreek; Harvey Horner of Blough; Katie, wife of Harvey Gindlesperger of Johnstown R.D. 4; Minnie, wife of Clayton Mose of Dale Borough, and Ida, wife of Jesse Speicher of Kelso.  Mr. Horner also is survived by 38 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and the following brothers and sisters: William Horner of Bedford; Edward Horner of Bolivar; Elizabeth Horner of Sherman Street; Mrs. Kathryn Tesh and Mrs. Lena Spankenberger, both of Franklin Street, and Mrs. Elmer Knipple of Dale Borough.  Funeral services will be held at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon at the Tire Hill Church of Brethren, by Rev. H. C. Hess, pastor.  Internment will be in Maple Spring Cemetery, near Holsopple.

~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~

Johnstown Tribune
Wednesday Evening, April 19, 1944
Sarah E. Horner Dies at age 77; Funeral Friday
Resident of Tire Hill section most of her life, Husband died in 1937 Mrs. Sarah (Eash) Horner, 77, died at 10:30 o'clock last night at the home of her son, Harvey Horner, 666 Coleman Ave., where she had resided since the death of her husband, Ananias on Oct. 26, 1937.  She had been seriously ill the past two weeks.  Mrs. Horner was born in Richmond Township, Cambria County, on April 15, 1867, a daughter of the late Adam and Catherine (Yoder) Eash.  Her husband was a former employee of the Bird Coal Company.  Mrs. Horner is survived by eight children - Irvin, Tire Hill; Katie, wife of Harvey Gindlesperger, R.D. 4; Minnie, wife of Clayton Moose, 113 Homestead Ave.; Charles, Tire Hill; Clarence, Windber; William and Harry, both of Bridge St; and Harvey, mentioned.  A daughter, Mrs. Ida Speicher, died on Jan. 8 of this year.  Mrs. Horner also leave one brother, Noah Eash, Hollsopple R.D. 2; one sister, Mrs. Lucinda Howard, Tire Hill; 43 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren.  The deceased was a member of the Tire Hill Church of the Brethren, in which section she resided most of her  life.  Friends are being received at the Harvey Horner home.  Funeral services will be held at the Tire Hill Church of the Brethren at 2:30 p.m. Friday by Rev. Dorsey Rotruck, assisted by Rev. Earl C. Weaver, pastor of the Park Ave. U.B. Church. Internment will be in the Maple Spring Cemetery under the direction of the Henderson Funeral Home.

Tire Hill Church of the Brethren, Pennsylvania
Maple Spring Cemetery, Pennsylvania

Warm Regards,

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Surname Saturday ~ Birch (England & Pennsylvania)

Birch ~ Recorded in many forms including Birch, Burch,  Birk, and Burk (English & Irish), Birken, Birckmann, Birchner (German), Berckman and Van den Berch (Dutch and Flemish), Bjork, Bjorkan, Bjerkan and Bjorkaman (Scandanavian and Swedish), this interesting surname is either topographical, occupational or locational. In England where most recordings are to be found, it may originate from a place called Birch in the county of Essex, the derivation being from the Olde English pre 7th century word "bryce" meaning breaking; and hence land made suitable for agriculture, or it may be from the villages of Birch Much and Birch Little in Herefordshire.  These have a different derivation from the Olde English word "birce", meaning birch trees. Secondly, the name may be a topographical for someone who lived by a birch tree, or birch wood, and thirdly occupational, either for a plowman or farmer, or a forester.

The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is believed to be that of Walter de la Birche. This was dated 1182, in the charters of King Henry 11nd, 1154 - 1189.

Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax.
copyright: Name Origin Research

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Some of the Birch names I am researching are;
James Henry Birch 
    Born: 09 Oct 1879 Staffordshire, England
    Died: 27 Jun 1967 Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio
              James married Annie Warrender on 21 June 1904 in Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Annie (nee Warrender) Birch
    Born: abt 1882  England
    Died: before 1940

James and Annie had the following children;

  • Sarah E. Birch ~ 1905 Pennsylvania – 1989  married: John N. Bloise
  • James H. Birch ~ 1908 Pennsylvania – 1963  married: Mary H. Hruska
  • Ethel M. Birch ~ 1910 Pennsylvania –           married: unknown
  • Alfred George Birch ~ 1913 Pennsylvania – 1983   married: Beatrice Jean Murray
  • Florence Violet Birch ~ 1914 Pennsylvania – 1984  married: 1. McWilliams-died 1938  2. John Thomas O'Rourke
  • Ernest O. Birch1916 Pennsylvania – 1972    married: unknown
  • Edna Leona Birch ~ 1921 Pennsylvania –         married: unknown 

  • If anyone has any information on any of these Birch's or has any photos I would appreciate it if you would contact me. I have a Birch tree on ancestry if anyone is interested.  Birch.Family.Tree    Thanks!


    Warm Regards,

    Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Church Record Sunday ~ Thomas Warrender

    The Birch family married into the Warrander family when they were in England in the 1800's. Both families had their beginnings in Staffordshire, England.

    Thomas Warrander was born in September 1877 in Staffordshire England. The census records indicate that he immigrated to the U.S. in 1888 when he was 11 years old and in 1910, at the age of 33 , he was living in Cambria County, Pennsylvania with his wife Ada (nee Hutchinson).  According to that same census he had been married to Ada for 13 years. They had a total of six children but only four were living; Charles (1901), Sarah (1903), Elizabeth (1906), and Sylvia (1908).  Thomas was a Foreman of a Coal Mine.

    I stumbled upon church records that indicated Thomas Warrander was baptized as an adult , at the age of 22, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Barnesboro, Cambria County, Pennsylvania.   I found it interesting that as an adult he was baptized.  I wonder if he was baptized in England after his birth.  I find it nice that he established himself with a church where his family now lived and that this church is still holding services.  This record confirms for me his birthplace and his parents names. 

    Warm Regards,

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Amanuensis Monday ~ Florence Birch McWilliams & John T. O'Rourke

    Application for Marriage ~ John O'Rourke & Florence Birch McWilliams
     In doing my research on the Birch's I  had difficulty locating "Florence Birch" a daughter of James Birch and Anna Warrander.   It wasn't until I found this "Application for Marriage License" dated 6 May 1940 from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that I discovered that Florence Birch had been married previously and that husband had died two years prior.  That explained her name change to McWilliams and why I couldn't locate her.
         Thank goodness for documents such as this as I am able to gain a plethera of information from it and fill in so many missing pieces.

    Warm Regards,