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."

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,

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    Military Monday ~ James Murray and The Civil War

    James Murray was born on 11 Jun 1829 in Addison, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. When he was 22 years old he married Lydia Beal who had grown up in the same County of Somerset.  Lydia (1834-1888) was a bit younger and at the time of their marriage she was only 17 yrs old.  James and Lydia started a family right away and after just five months of marriage they had their first child, Alvey Murray.   They went on to have six more children, Urias, Franklin, Owen, Levi, Emma and Lizzie. 
      The time came for James to serve in the Civil War. So in August of 1864 he left Lydia, and his seven children to fulfill his responsibility.  James served as a Private in the Army, Bat. M 6th Art. PA. This was a very tough time for everyone.              According to the family Bible, Lydia was having a difficult time managing all the children alone at home.  She sent a message to James, who was in the middle of the Civil War, and informed him he had to come home to help her. In June of 1865, apparently that's what he did.   
       They remained in Somerset County and James worked by farming his land. James and Lydia went on to have seven more children; Margaret, Amanda, Harmon, Sarah, Mary, Martha and Edith.
      Lydia passed away in 1883 at the age of 53 years, 5 days. Their youngest child, Edith, was just four years old. That left James with many young children to continue to rear.  She was buried in Hostetler Cemetery, Hostetler Church of the Brethren, Greenville Twp, Somerset Co., Pennsylvania.
          In 1908, at the age of 79, James Murray passed away.  His oldest child was 56 yrs old and his youngest child was 23 years. He is buried in Hostetler Cemetery, right next to his wife, Lydia.   James and Lydia should be proud of the life they lived. 
                                                          Warm regards,
    Hostetler Church of the Brethren, Somerset Co, PA

    Friday, June 15, 2012

    James Birch Sr. ~ WWII Draft Registration ~ 1947

    I love how draft registrations glean so much information on the person we are investigating.   

    Here's James Birch, Sr  (little clue here ... for middle name "None") of Conehaugh Township in Somerset, Pennsylvania.  I've confirmed, via records, that James Birch, Jr. is his son. 

    James describes himself as "white, 5'11", 172 lbs, blue eyes, grey hair, ruddy complexion, with a Hernia - left side".

    His Date of Birth: Oct 9, 1879

    James was employed by "Bird Coal Co." and after doing a little checking around I discovered that company had three mines located on Tire Hill.

    Bird No. 1 Mine, near Johnstown, Tire Hill, Conemaugh Twp., Somerset Co., PA
    Bird No. 2 Mine, near Johnstown, Tire Hill, Conemaugh Twp., Somerset Co., PA
    Bird No. 3 Mine, near Johnstown, Tire Hill, Conemaugh Twp., Somerset Co., PA

    I need to do a little more researching on the coal mines in Pennsylvania

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    Blog Beginning . . .

    Now that I've begun blogging (something that I wasn't sure I'd enjoy) I find that it really helps me keep my family research a bit more organized and sort of a "holder" of information that is easy to get to. So this is my second blog and with this one I'll be focusing on another leg of the family (Birch)  and the offshoots it presents. I'm sure this will be a fun journey.