Sunday, September 30, 2012

Finding the Coonradts

I recently went back to link to my research into the Coonradt family and I realized that I wasn't satisfied with what I had originally written. To remedy that, I'm going to do a recap.

So, it started way back when I first asked my Grandpa Conrad about his family tree. He told me that the family name hadn't always been Conrad. It used to be "Koonradt" he said and that it had been changed to Conrad when the family came west to Iowa. Over the years I had looked for this name online but never found anything to connect to my family.

At some point in 2009 I got onto one of my regular genealogy kicks and I was looking at new sites. I believe I was newly on and I started searching on variants of Koonradt. When I did, this Coonradt page came up at a different site, Naturally, I followed the links at the bottom which promised more detail on the Coonradt family tree. Did they ever deliver! A treasure trove of Coonradt family names. Naturally, I read through all the names on each page to see if any looked familiar. I paid particular attention whenever a Harry or Henry came up since I knew my great great grandfather had been Harry Conrad.

Under the Willhelm Coonradt family, I found the following grouping:
F.3. Daniel Coonradt, b.1830 Grafton N.Y., CIVIL WAR.
G.1. Edgar Coonradt, Moved to Iowa where he raised a large family. (History incomplete)
G.2. Harry Coonradt, (No history)
G.3. Clarence Coonradt, Harkimer, N.Y.

It was so lucky that someone knew enough about this family to know that the boy named Edgar had gone to Iowa. More on Edgar later. But the other details all seemed like a good start - I knew my great great grandfather Harry Conrad had to have been born around 1860 and it seemed likely that his father was born in 1830.

So I went off to Quickly, I want to tout and what they've done with the US Census records. There you can very quickly find the relevant record using their search function and then look at the actual handwritten census document. Extraordinary! So try it with Daniel Coonradt, born 1830 and you'll find the same thing I did: in the 1860 federal census, this family appears in Luzerne, Pennsylvania:
Daniel H Coonradt, age 30
Cordalia Coonradt, 26
Clarence Coonradt, 5
Edna Coonradt, 3
Hendrick Coonradt, 1

This family certainly looks pretty close, other than the location. Always look at these census records carefully, though. On the second page, it lists the individual's place of birth. For Daniel Coonradt: New York. Exactly the same age, same place of birth and with at least one son with the same name. I wasn't concerned about Edna being missing because I'd noticed that the Coonradt page included very few female names. And Hendrick/Harry - a nickname? Seemed pretty likely.

Two other records also come up in the search results on Ancestry: two civil war records, one for Daniel Coonradt from New York, and one for Daniel H Coonradt of Pennsylvania.

So the next things to check on was to follow this family in the census records and see where they turn up next. Daniel doesn't appear in any of the other census records after 1860. What about Cordalia? So type "Cordalia Coonradt" into the search engine at for my next revelation. You'll find if you look through all the search results a pension record for Daniel H Coonradt where the dependent is listed as Cordelia Coonradt. Underneath her name is the name "Bailey, C.S." with the notation "Gdn" - I took this to mean "guardian". Below in the detail, it lists two dates of application: February 26, 1866 on the line "widow" and December 18, 1867 on the line "minor". Sadly, now we know why Daniel doesn't appear in the 1870 census - he died in the war.

But what about this Hendrick Coonradt? I started on with Hendrick Coonradt and then Harry Coonradt but quickly became frustrated. I couldn't find either one matching the family I'd found above. However, if you search on "Harry Coonradt born around 1860" the records for Harry Conrad out in Iowa start popping up pretty quickly, matching up with the information my grandfather had given me - lived in Waterloo, Iowa, wife named Grace, etc. That's my Harry Conrad, all right.

At some point I left Ancestry and entered "Hendrick Coonradt" into Google. You have to use all the resources at your disposal, after all. Lo and behold, the following page came up in the search results: It's a listing of children at a Civil War soldier's orphanage. You find not only Hendrick Coonradt, born in 1859, but also Edgar C. Coonradt, born in 1861. Blammo!! Can you hear all the pieces falling into place? Hendrick and his younger brother Edgar were "orphans" - young children whose mother had just lost her husband in the war.

I made two other connections through The first was Dave Young, who is a Coonradt descendant on another line. After I told him some of what I'd discovered, Dave said that all of this sounded right, and that I should compare notes with another descendant named Dick Conrad. Dick is the great grandson of Charles E Conrad. As it turned out, Hendrick Coonradt wasn't the only member of the family to change names upon coming west. His brother also made the change, from Edgar Charles Coonradt to Charles Edgar Conrad. Not only did he give me this information, Dick also had a letter from Harry to brother Charles in 1914. I have transcribed that letter here. The letter doesn't contain any revelations, but it does tie the family together nicely, including Cordelia's remarriage to Charles Rosengrant and the two half-brothers that Hendrick and Edgar grew up with. Following these folks through the subsequent census records was a project that occupied me for several days.

Dick also sent me the portrait of Daniel Coonradt in his Civil War uniform that you see above.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The People I Met in My Genealogy Research, Part 3

Harry Conrad AKA Hendrick Coonradt

My grandfather’s story is probably all too common in genealogy research. Grandpa was born Leighton Clay Conrad, but he always told us that the name Conrad was an Americanization of what he understood to be a German name, Koonradt. That’s the spelling I remember him telling me, anyway. The way I remember it, he told us that the Koonradts had come to the Midwest through Pennsylvania, which might suggest that they were Pennsylvania Dutch. In any case, Grandpa didn’t know how far back the name had changed. When he helped me fill out my first family tree, he could remember back only two generations, through his father Leo and grandfather Harry. I still hope to one day research the Conrads further back from Harry, but I know it will be difficult since they lived in the rural Midwest, whereas I live in California. Some day… (see below for update!)

Grandpa’s other side is even more interesting and even more clouded with mystery. Apparently, Grandpa’s mother Daisy Murray had kept a secret throughout her entire life – she was half Indian. Grandpa’s twin brother Harlan discovered this fact only after Daisy had died. From there, the story gets muddled and garbled by distance and poor communication. As you might remember me mentioning earlier, Grandpa didn’t get along too well with his twin brother, at least by the time I came along. And whatever information Harlan had only came to me secondhand through Grandpa, so there isn’t much there and I’m not real sure of any of it.

Grandpa was sure of one thing, his Indian ancestry had been from what he called the Iroquois tribe. According to Grandpa, his grandmother, Louisa, whose maiden name I do not know (see update below), was a full Indian and her ancestors had come across North America through Canada past the Great Lakes and then down into Iowa. Which of the five tribes of the Iroquois did we come from? I don’t know. Where did they live? What were their Indian names? Don’t know, don’t know. My mom suspects that her Uncle Harlan probably had quite a bit more information, but he’s long since died and she hasn’t had any contact with his family since she was a kid. Such is genealogy research. I hope to find Harlan’s progeny one day and compare notes.

Unlike his mother, Grandpa was extremely proud of his Indian heritage once he was aware of it. He often sent part of his small Social Security income to Indian charities back in the Midwest. I have often wondered if his remembrance of the information on his Indian heritage was a colorful exaggeration, as many of his stories seemed to be over the years. But I’ve got little else to go on for his family tree, so I hope his stories are at least partly true. I know that finding a trace of Louisa will be a difficult task. It’s probably a job for more of a professional historian, but if I get the chance I’ll do the best I can.

If nothing else, I’m glad to be aware of my own Indian heritage, as small a percentage of my makeup as it may be. Now I find that my own daughter has what some call the mark of the Indians – two blue spots on her bottom (also known as “Mongolian Spots”). Of course, these spots originate on her mother’s side but I still look at them with pride, our shared Indian background.

Update, as of 2009: I have made some great headway on this part of the family tree. I found the Koonradts that Grandpa had told me about, but it was actually spelled "Coonradt". The change came when young father Daniel Coonradt was killed in the Civil War, leaving behind three sons. Two of those sons came west to Iowa, taking on different names along the way - Hendrick Coonradt (pictured above) became Harry Conrad and Edgar Coonradt became Charles Edgar Conrad. The pictures I have online of Daniel Coonradt and Harry Conrad both come from Charles' descendant Dick Conrad, another great friend that I've met over the internet through genealogy. In fact, I haven't updated my Rootsweb family tree with this information, only my Ancestry one. I'll try to do that before too long to make sure everyone has access to this information.

I also have new information on the Murray side of the family, where I have filled in one additional generation of Murrays and a couple more generations of Louisa's family, who turned out to be named Thoroman (or Thoroughman). I have yet to locate the Indian background however, nor have I made contact with any of Harlan's descendants. I am fairly certain that the Indian background is not on the Thoroman side since this family is well documented. It would be more consistent for it to be the Murrays, who came to America from the Montreal area. Intriguingly Montreal is part of Iroquois country, and Joseph Murray, Daisy's grandfather is listed at times as fur trader. Though my cousin Scott Conrad and I have both researched these families, so far neither of us has found convincing evidence of the Indian story. Something for later, I hope. if you have an account there: family tree starting place

If that doesn't work for you, start at Rootsweb here: Starting place #2. For more detail, click on "Display pedigree in text format".

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Obituary of John Wiley Edmands

J Wiley Edmands or John Wiley Edmands

Found among my grandfather's belongings was a typewritten summary of several tributes and remembrances of my 3X great grandfather, John Wiley Edmands. I am sure that some of these writings were published but I haven't determined where yet. I will credit them if/when I determine where they were published.

This one is simply titled “Obituary”:

The Hon. J. Wiley Edmands died of heart disease at four o’clock yesterday morning at his home in Newton. The diseases which finally proved fatal had troubled him for many years, and that his life should close in this way has been expected. He was born in this city March 1, 1809 (his father, of the firm of Lincoln & Edmands, being one of the leading booksellers of the city), was educated at the grammar school, and entered the English high school when it was founded in 1821. After graduating from school he entered the employ of A. & A. Lawrence, and his marked business capacity brought him into the full confidence of the senior member of the firm, Amos Lawrence. He was gradually promoted, till 1830, when he was made a member of the firm, and soon became the real guide of its policy. In 1843 he retired from the firm, and for several years afterward, was interested in the Maverick woolen mills in Dedham. In the fall election of 1852 he was elected to Congress, and served for the term from March 4, 1853, to 1855, declining a reelection. He was not politically ambitious, and preferred his business to all political offices. Such offices as he accepted were not gained by any self-seeking. He was a member of the whig party at the time he went to Washington. A fellow-member of the Massachusetts delegation was the Hon. Samuel H. Walley. Mr. Edmands was often mentioned by his friends for the prominent political positions, but the only one he accepted was that of the Presidential elector from the seventh congressional district for the election of 1868.

Mr. Edmands became treasurer of the Pacific mills of Lawrence in 1855, and has occupied that position ever since. It was here that he made the reputation which has placed him foremost among the business men of New England and has given the Pacific mills so favorable a name in this country and abroad. He was associated with other gentlemen of foresight and sagacity, and it was here that he became most widely known. At the outbreak of the civil war in 1861 Mr. Edmands was an active worker. He gave his time, influence and money to the support of the government, and has been a strong republican ever since the organization of the party. He was prominently mentioned for Secretary of the Treasury for President Lincoln's cabinet.

Mr. Edmands had wide business relations, and was connected with many financial institutions. He was a director in the Arkwright Mutual Fire Insurance Company, of the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company and of the Suffolk Bank, and was vice-president of the Provident Institution for Savings. He was for some time director of the Ogdensburg Railroad, and had been the treasurer. He was also treasurer of the Eye and Ear Infirmary. From his well-known ability and cordial, sympathizing nature his advice was frequently sought in business matters, and he was ever ready to be helpful. Within a few years he had suffered from business reverses.

He was a benefactor of the city of Newton, where he lived, his most important gift being that for the Newton free library, ten thousand dollars for the building and five thousand dollars for books. He was married early in life to Miss Rebecca A. Cushing, daughter of Joseph Cushing of Baltimore. She and his eight sons all survive him. The funeral will take place in Newton on Saturday.

This second one is titled "J. Wiley Edmands":

We have to record the death of one of our community whose tremendous activities could be aptly compared to those of a mighty Corliss engine, and whose extinction was as sudden as the arrest of the engine in the midst of its most efficient work. If mind could ever be compared with matter the simile might be made still closer, for Mr. Edmands was the moving power of the most colossal of the manufacturing establishments of New England. But the power of the engine ceased with the failure of the fuel which drives it, while the power of the great human motors lasts for all time.

There is no need to speak of the ability displayed by Mr. Edmands in the more immediate sphere of his duty as the treasurer and, according to the New England custom, the responsible head of the Pacific mills; or of the financial and manufacturing skill which enabled him to bring an establishment that had sunk almost into hopeless bankruptcy to its present position of unequalled success - our proudest example of industrial and administrative achievement. But few can have an adequate conception of the intellectual strain required to keep in discipline an industrial army of over four thousand persons; of the nervous exhaustion incident to making personally, and on his sole responsibility, the thousands and tens of thousands of bargains involved in purchasing the seven or eight million dollars' worth of raw materials required f the annual supply of his mill; of the command of will which could decide instantly on a purchase of a million dollars, and could reject or accept, with hardly a moment's apparent thought, a hundred commercial offers in a day. This was Mr. Edmands's daily work, occupying hardly more than four concentrated hours, which were still so elastic as to leave room for consultation on friendly or public questions. Vast as was this work, upon which we need dwell no further, it was but part of the work which gave him his fully recognized position as first among the business men of our city. His influence was predominant in the banking, insurance and trust companies with which he was connected, for he had the rare combination of mastery of the details and a comprehension of the general principles of business. The broad scope of his intellect was manifested in his rare intelligence upon the economical questions which he at the foundation of national development. A cadet of the famous house of A. & A. Lawrence, subsequently a partner, and still later executor, of Mr. Abbott Lawrence, he was the direct descendant and representative of the illustrious school, the Lowells, Appletons, Jacksons, Lawrence, who laid the foundation of New England's prosperity, and made Boston what it is - the headquarters of a vast manufacturing industry - the man who inspired Webster and gave Henry Clay his arguments for an American system. He partook of the sentiments of the New England school of national economy, as compared with the more ultra Pennsylvania school; being moderate and conservative in his views of protection, and believing that the least protective duties should be imposed which would suffice to make our national industry independent. His position fo several recent years as president of the National Association of Wool Manufacturers brought his knowledge and judgment in economical questions into direct requisition and enabled him to exert a powerful influence upon national legislation. It is through his advocacy of equal protection to the agricultural and manufacturing interests that his name is as well known in the West as in New England.

Mr. Edmands was not less known for the part which he has always taken in national and political questions. He was a member of Congress for one term only, having declined a reelection and many subsequent offers of nomination. But in his brief term of office he was distinguished as a member of financial committees. Still maintaining his interest in national questions, it is probable that no other person in New England, out of office, has been so much consulted by the New England republican senators and representatives in Congress. He was president of the first great convention, that at Boston, which nominated General Grant for the Presidency, and was one of the Presidential electors. He was prominently mentioned by influential business men as Secretary of the Treasury in President Grant's first administration, and subsequently by leading men of the West for the position of minister to England, - in both cases without his knowledge. The republican party has suffered the loss of one whose counsels were always wise, and whose devotion to it both in time and money was inspired only by patriotism.

We can but allude to Mr. Edmands's services in institutions of the public charity or education. The same devotion which he gave to his mill he gave without price to one of the most admirable of our charities - the Eye and Ear Infirmary - of which he was from its foundation the treasurer and business manager, through his financial skill and the generous and unpaid services of its surgeons, relieving as many as seven thousand patients in a year. Of the public library in Newton he was the principal benefactor, and to the humble orphan school of his village the most generous giver of what was more valuable to him and them than money, his precious time.
How much he valued knowledge is shown by his address at the anniversary of the Boston high school, and address whose sentiments and style have been often referred to as the best illustration of the education which the Boston common schools can give.

The most social of men, Mr. Edmands shunned fashionable society. His delight was to close his busy day under the shade of the trees which his own hand had planted at his country-seat at Newton, which Downing might have envied; to pay his regular daily visit to his aged mother, who lived near him; to fill his accustomed place in the church where he worshipped; to be a kind neighbor and good citizen, and, above all, to drink from the cup of domestic happiness which Providence had filled for him to the brim.

We cannot point to the leading business man of our community who has just passed away as a monument of personal financial success, for the devotion to the interests of others in his keeping left little time for his own, but we can point to the most precious of possessions, an unspotted name and an example of devotion almost heroic to business and public trusts.

Monday, September 3, 2012

How Far We've Come

James Foote Jeffers or James F Jeffers

My topic for this week is families that have moved away or changed a lot from where and who they used to be. I traveled down this track via my mom's family tree. Maybe it's just my impression from my grandfather's stories, but my sense was that his family was made up of "Pennsylvania Dutch" immigrant farmer stock. Well that was only partly true even of the Conrad/Coonradt line that gave him his name. They had been Americans since the late 1600's and had actually lived in New York for most of their time in the U.S. Only the last Coonradt, Daniel ever lived in Pennsylvania, and he only lived there for a few years before he was killed in the Civil War.

The other names on Grandpa's family tree don't sound German at all. Instead, they are the descendants of English settlers, with names like Greene, Bailey, Jeffers and Foote. These families certainly were rural folks when they came into contact with the Conrad/Coonradts, but their origins are actually the same stock as my Dad's - New England Colonial settlers. I haven't found a crossover yet between these families and my Dad's, but I won't be surprised when I do.

One of these families sparked my interest, the Foote family, in particular, Christiana (or Christina) Foote and her son James Foote Jeffers (pictured above). The Foote family in general is great because they can trace their history back to the 1500's, (see the Foote Family). That was my initial find. But then I was thinking, how did these folks end up out in Iowa? Christiana was born in far Western Massachusetts in a little town called New Ashford. Even today the town only has about 250 people. She was born in 1772, just before the Revolution. In fact, both her father James Foote and her father-in-law, Robert Jeffers fought in the Revolutionary War. So think of her as being part of that generation. By the time she has her children starting in 1790, she has moved to central New York between Rochester and Syracuse. She lived in very small towns, Seneca Falls, and Rose.

Christiana's last surviving child was James F Jeffers, born in 1814. He was born, like all his brothers and sisters in rural upstate New York. He gets married and has his first several children in Rose, New York. However, by 1851 we find his entire family out in Lockport, Illinois. Despite his already large family, James has three more children that are born in Lockport. Lockport is an interesting place because it was the headquarters of the Illinois and Michigan Canal which was completed in... 1848. It's not hard to imagine that James and his very large family came west to Illinois based on the promise of economic good times. Interestingly, his siblings also spread to the wind as well, with three ending up in Wisconsin, and two others in Michigan. Times must not have been so great in New York.

James and his family didn't stay in Illinois, though. By 1858, when his daughter Amanda (my ancestor) is married, they're out in Iowa, near Waterloo. And in 1862, the 48 year-old James, who must have had at least five children at home still, enlists in the Union Army from the state of Iowa. I don't know how long he served, but imagine that - both his grandfathers fought in the Revolutionary War and here he is fighting in the Civil War. He and his family must have been comfortable out in Iowa because they settled in, and James died in very rural Douglas in 1890. And Iowa is where James's granddaughter Grace Greene would ultimate meet and marry Harry Conrad (who has a fascinating adventure story of his own).

I can't say I know exactly why all these moves happened when they did, but I think I understand a little bit of what brought these folks West, a trend that continued with my grandfather, Leighton Conrad, coming out to California in the 1920's and my Mom and Dad moving us north in the early 70's.