Monday, October 28, 2013

James McMeekin McGee 1844/1845-1924

Immigration record
James at 17yo
James McMeekin(g) McGee was born in Glasgow Scotland in military barracks. At the age of 2 or 3 he emigrated to the United States with his parents from Liverpool. At the age of 17 he was enlisted in Company E, Pennsylvania 119th Infantry Regiment on 25 Aug 1862. and was Wounded at Wilderness, Va., May 5, 1864; discharged by General Order,  on 09 Sep 1865 in the Civil War.

Battle of the Wilderness
 About The Battle of The wilderness:

The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–7, 1864, was the first battle of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign against Gen.Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Both armies suffered heavy casualties, a harbinger of a bloody war of attrition by Grant against Richmond, Virginia. The battle was tactically inconclusive, as Grant disengaged and continued his offensive.
Grant attempted to move quickly through the dense underbrush of the Wilderness of Spotsylvania, but Lee launched two of his corps on parallel roads to intercept him. On the morning of May 5, the Union V Corps under Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren attacked the Confederate Second Corps, commanded by Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell, on the Orange Turnpike. That afternoon the Third Corps, commanded by Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill, encountered Brig. Gen. George W. Getty's division (VI Corps) and Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock's II Corps on the Orange Plank Road. Fighting until dark was fierce but inconclusive as both sides attempted to maneuver in the dense woods.
At dawn on May 6, Hancock attacked along the Plank Road, driving Hill's Corps back in confusion, but the First Corps of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet arrived in time to prevent the collapse of the Confederate right flank. Longstreet followed up with a surprise flanking attack from an unfinished railroad bed that drove Hancock's men back to the Brock Road, but the momentum was lost when Longstreet was wounded by his own men. An evening attack by Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon against the Union right flank caused consternation at Union headquarters, but the lines stabilized and fighting ceased. On May 7, Grant disengaged and moved to the southeast, intending to leave the Wilderness to interpose his army between Lee and Richmond, leading to the bloody Battle of Spotsylvania Court .(Wikipedia available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License;)

Jefferson College Philadelphia

James later graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1893 at the age of 49 as a Osteopathic Physician.  He is listed in the Directory of Deceased American Physicians.

About Osteopathy medicine: 
James M McGee

Osteopathy is a philosophy and form of alternative healthcare that emphasizes the interrelationship between structure and function of the body, as well as the body's ability to heal itself. Osteopaths claim to facilitate the healing process, principally by the practice of manual and manipulative therapyOsteopathic medical students take the Osteopathic Oath, a revised version of the Hippocratic oath, to maintain and uphold the "core principles" of osteopathic medical philosophy. Revised in 1953, and again in 2002, the core principles are:
  1. The person is a unit, and the person represents a combination of bodymind and spirit.
  2. The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.
  3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
  4. Rational treatment is based on an understanding of these principles: body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
(Wikipedia available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License;)

More from the files of Denise Phillips:

"In Kansas City, Mo., he was injured in a street accident. He also spent much time in Washington, DC dealing with pension cases and pushing bills for soldiers in Congress. He was there in Dec. 1923, when he took ill. He came home on the train, but stopped in Chester. When he got to his office at 101 Carson St., he died. The police called the family. [JEJ Chronology] He was a member of the GAR, Post 2, organized the US Maimed Soldier's League, graduated from Jefferson Medical College & Phila. College of Osteopathy. [Obituary from unknown newspaper] The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was an organization founded by veterans of the Union forces during the Civil War, having political as well as social importance. The objects of it's members were to strengthen the bonds of comradeship, to give aid to soldiers' widows and orphans and to handicapped veterans, and to preserve the memory of their fallen comrades for which purpose they secured the general adoption of Memorial Day. The GAR reached a peak membership of over 400,000 in 1890. Though the organization was non-political according to it's by-laws, most of the members were strongly Republican. Pension legislation was usually enacted with their support in mind. They were also responsible for the establishment of Old Soldiers' Homes. A GAR monument exists at the intersection of 7th St., Market Pl., Indiana Ave., C St., and Pennsylvania Ave in Washington DC, near the National Archives building. 'The Evening Bulletin', Philadelphia, PA, Friday January 4, 1924 - 'James M. McGee, M.D., husband of Sarah B. (nee Koch) aged 79 years. Members and friends of Post 2, G.A.R. and survivors of Co. E., 119th Penna. Vols. are invited to funeral services on Saturday, Jan. 5, 1924, 2:30PM, at the residence of his son, 437 Paoli Ave. Interment to St. Timothy's Churchyard.' Dr. McGee had an Allopathic practice with a specialty in general surgery. He had a Journal of American Medical Assoc. citation in Vol. 82, p. 408. [Dir. of Am. Physicians] According to the 1870 census, James had real estate valued at $200 and personal property at $300."


Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Look Inside our Great Grandparents Home Today.

Last night Geary and I  made a discovery we decided to look up our great grandparents old home in Philadelphia,1202 Green st.
We discovered that it is now for rent. With today's technology we were able to "go inside" and look around and sort of get a feel for what it was like to live in back then. This charming place was home to our great grandparents thier children and grandchildren for a time. It has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms 2,060 sq ft it was built in 1915 and the  last time it was sold was when our Great Grandparents sold it  in Oct 1977 for $8,000.  This was about the time they moved in with our Aunt Kitty by that time Lillian and her family had moved to Texas so it was more than likey too much for them to handle at the time to keep up such a big place. Today this part of the neighborhood probably isn't the best but it was still neat to get a peek in side this place that we have seen in so many of our family photos.

 Our family during thier time at 1202 Green st.

Top: Constino Valle
Left : Gertrude Valle
Middle: Angie Geary and Danielle's Mother
Right: Lillian
These two photos were taken by Lillian' son

Hey Great Grandma is Smiling!

Lillian with her husband and 3 children in the backyard
on Green St.
Every one in the Living around the T.V.
Green St. Today
 we cant see the steps in this photo but they are still there

 This is where we think the Tv sat between the two windows
A view across the livvingroom and the stairs
    “I have been very happy with my homes, but homes really are no more than the people who live in them.”
Nancy Reagan

Sunday, October 20, 2013

John McGee 1816- 1897 The Great Potato Famine 1845–1852

Some of our  Irish Ancestors came  to the  United States during the Potato Famine  in Ireland During 1845~1852
Irish Potato Famine, also called Great Potato Famine, Great Irish Famine, or Famine of 1845–49,      famine that occurred in Ireland in 1845–49 when the potato crop failed in successive years. The crop failures were caused by late blight, a disease that destroys both the leaves and the edible roots, or tubers, of the potato plant. The causative agent of late blight is the water mold Phytophthora infestans. The Irish Potato Famine was the worst famine to occur in Europe in the 19th century.
Potatoes were the staple diet of the rural population of Ireland. However, this crop was very vulnerable to disease and no cure existed in Ireland for the dreaded ‘potato blight’. Even if a cure had existed, the people on the land would not have been able to afford it.The people of Ireland expected a good potato crop in 1845. The weather had appeared to be favorable and in many senses, the farming community of Ireland expected a bumper harvest. However, when it came to digging up the potatoes, all they got was a black gooey mess. In fact, the expected bumper crop turned out to be a disaster. There was a 50% loss of potatoes in this year. The rural community had no way of countering this. Each family grew what they needed for that year and few had any to keep for times of trouble. In fact, the problem got worse. The crop of 1846 was all but a total failure and there was a very poor harvest in 1847. Three disastrous years in succession presented Ireland with huge problems.

Sir Robert Peel, despite opposition from the Treasury, imported £100,000 worth of corn. By 1846, £3,500,000 worth of potatoes had been lost - therefore, the government's initial aid was well below what was needed.
Peel believed that if this corn was released onto the Irish market in stages, it would keep down the price of other foods. This actually worked reasonably well but it also showed the lack of knowledge that existed in London with regards to Ireland. While Peel was at least doing something to help, he also had little knowledge of the country he was trying to help. The corn was welcomed as better than nothing. However, there were very few mills of any sort in Ireland, so simply grinding it down into flour was very difficult. Many people in Ireland became seriously ill by attempting to eat the corn without it having been ground down. As a result of this, the corn sent to Ireland by Peel became nicknamed "Peel’s Brimstone".

Notes: Some Info from

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Theodore Gerhard Bieling Md. 1864~1928

Theodore Gerhard Bieling's family was from Prussia which is now Germany. His father Augustus and mother Louise came to the United States sometime before Theodore's birth due to the Austro-German war that was going on at the time . Augustus was serving in the military during the Civil War and also at the time Theodore's birth. 

In 1888 He graduated From Hahnemann homeopathic medical school in Philadelphia .The Germans were the first to pratice homeopathic medicine and bring it to the united states. Theodore was on one the first doctors to pratice this"new" type of medical treatement during his time as a doctor.  His gift for the medical profession was a trait that was later realized in some of his descendants such as his great granddaughter Alicemae who is an RN. 

Theodore married Anna Nellie Brett From Massachusetts just before he graduated from college in 1887. They had three or four children I am able to find documentation on three of them. At some point the family lived in Hammonton Atlantic New Jersey but eventually found their way back to the Philadelphia area where the family lived out their lives. Theodore passed away in King of Prussia ,Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1928 December of that year.





Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Elizabeth Verney 1558~1592

This is very exciting news for me because I love all things Tudor.
Holt Castle
 I often wondered where my fascination with royalty has come from this could possibly be the reason.I have to give Geary credit for finding this link in our family tree. With this new discovery I now know why I am so fascinated with royalty. Our 13th  Great Grandmother on our father's side  was a woman from the Tudor Era.
 Elizabeth (sometimes called Eleanor) Verney was the daughter of Sir Henry Verney. Queen Elizabeth was her godmother. She married William Palmer (c.1545-1587?) and was the mother of Catherine (1580-1661), Thomas (1582-1605), Abraham (1583-1653), Walter (1587-1638), Sarah (1587-1633), John (b.1589), and William (1590-1661). Some sources say that William Palmer was her first husband, married in 1575, by whom she had no children, and that her second husband was William’s brother, John (b.1544), father of those listed above plus Nathaniel and a second John. The date of this second marriage is listed as 1579. Elizabeth died at Holt Castle in 1592 shortly after her marriage to Henry Bromley, a member of the privy chamber to King James.The history of Holt Castle was shaped like a pentagon with a tower on each end. Most reports state that the castle at the time of Elizabeth's passing there was in disrepair and by early 1600's was considered in decay. This leaves us with the question.. How could a lady of the court die in such surroundings.

Women of the Tudor Era

Queen Elizabeth I
Life for women during the Tudor period, 1485 to 1603, was not easy. In those days, women had no legal rights.  Tudor law was not kind to women. The law was used to limit women. They didn’t have rights to inherit property. The law actually considered them the property of either their husband or father. There were even laws that prohibited them from holding jobs and laws that defined what color clothes they could wear.

Tudor women were taught from birth that they would always be inferior to men. Perversely, they were perceived to be evil temptresses with natural tendencies to corrupt men. It wasn’t just that women were the weaker sex but all women were to be blamed for mankind’s fall from Heaven. Tudor girls did not have easy childhoods. Poor girls began doing household chores as soon as they were strong enough. They had very little freedom. From birth, they were taught to obey their parents above all. The highest level of obedience was to be expected from all girls. 

Most marriages in Tudor England were arranged. Fathers would pay a dowry for someone to marry their daughter's free them of the financial responsibility. Women were considered financial burdens on their parents because they could not get jobs. In most cases, women had little say in the selection of their husbands. They were taught that their sole purpose in life was to marry, obey their husband, and populate the earth. Single were deemed to be worthless to the society.
Very few Tudor women were educated and most never learned to read and write. It was rare for poor girls to attend school. When they did, they learned subjects like art and music, while boys learned math and Latin. They often learned things like cooking and sewing so that they could serve their husbands and children better.
Childbearing was dangerous for Tudor women. If there were complications with the birth, there was very little that could be done. It’s not uncommon that women died during childbirth. Tudor women also suffered a high number of miscarriages and stillbirths. Yet, it was rare for someone to have only one child.

We don't know much about Elizabeth Verney's life as very little research has been done on her. We do know that she was a goddaughter of the monarch at the time which means her life could have been a little easier on her for her era. She could have very well had  a position in court  these are all things I would like to find out. I am a big royalty buff andI plan on visiting  England one day and maybe by then I will know more about my Tudor Ancestor.  We do know the She married her husband's brother or rather he married her  this was often done to keep the wife's wealth with in her husband's family. Life during the Tudor period is often glamourized with shows like The Tudors and The White Queen and coming soon REIGN. The  truth of the matter is if you were wealthy, had a royal connection you did pretty good unless you did something in your life to either make you lose your head   or some how disgrace your self or your family. I will still be looking for more information regarding Elizabeth Venery and hopefully something will turn up about her .

Colonial America in the 17th Century - An Overview

Colonial America was in many senses similar to colonial England without much Aristocracy however there was quite a bit of church politicking.
While Plymouth meeting and much of Massachusetts were settled by the Puritans soon followed many oppressed groups into the new land. In an attempt to keep order many who arrived by ship into the Plymouth colonies were asked to sign what was referred to as the oath of the freeman. This oath was an attempt to keep loyalty and fealty to the Crown and English government. In fact by the 1700s the church of England and many of the Puritans were starting to lose their power due to the large groups of different people with various backgrounds coming from many areas into the New World.

Life in early Massachusetts centered around fishing and sailing recreational activities included mostly a religious form.

 While New England was in general not a very friendly place for farming the farmers only farmed enough for themselves and enough to trade .Most crops grown were tobacco, wheat and barley crops. Often crops were traded with the Wampanoag  tribes the Mohegan tribes the Nipmuc the Picway and the Mohican tribes.   This cooperation eventually disintegrated into what is known as King Phillips War which was the native Americans last attempt at driving out the white settlers .

While many early settlers did come with slaves as a majority slavery was not practiced in the early colonies.   Due to the lack of good farming in many areas of early New England slaves were not needed as much as the other colonies because they really was no labor for the slaves. While slavery did exist in early New England most of the slaves in colonies were in large cities and most people were indentured servants rather than slaves. Propertied women were given the vote within the colony unlike Britain at the time.

Walter Palmer 1585-1661

Walter Palmer Farm House
Palmer Coat of Arms
Walter Palmer arrived in Salam, Massachusetts shortly after it's founding on the ship Four Sisters in the summer of 1629 from Somerset England. He is one of the most well-known first settlers of New England by many historians and often referred to as a "Puritan Separatist". He is also notes as being 6 feet 5 inches tall in some historical documents. Walter was one of the first settlers of Charlston, Massachucetts and one of the four founders of Stonington, Connecticut in 1653. He was a signer of the Oath of a Freeman, a document drawn up to insure loyalty in the Plymouth colonies.  He and his first wife, the daughter of his close friend William Cheesburough,  Ann Cheesburough had a daughter, Grace. Grace married Lieutenant Thomas Miner. Thomas built Walter a home in 1652 and it stands restored today in Mystic, Connecticut. Walter served as Constable and Selectman. He passed away two months after the first Church was built in 1661/1662.
Wltr Palmer Headstone

About the Four Sisters ship:
The Four Sisters, left Gravesend, England April 5, 1629 along with the Higginson Fleet, five other ships, George Bonaventure, Lyon, Lyon's Whelp, the Mayflower and the Talbot, arriving  in Salem June 1629. “Now in this year 1629, a great company of people (The Higginson Fleet) of good rank, zeal, means and quality have made a great stock, and with six good ships in the months of April and May, they set sail from Thames for the Bay of the Massachusetts, otherwise called Charles River. 

The fleet consisted of, the George Bonaventure of twenty pieces of ordnance; the Talbot nineteen; the Lion’s Whelp eight; the Mayflower fourteen; the Four sisters fourteen and the Pilgrim four,with 350 men women and children, also 115 head of cattle, as horses, mares, cows and oxen, 41 goats,some conies (rabbits), with all provision for household and apparel, 6 pieces of great ordnance for a fort, with muskets, pikes, corselets, drums, colors, and withall provisions necessary for a plantation for the good of man.”  

About Salem Massachusetts in 1629:

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was issued a charter by the monarch of England in 1629 giving them the rights of self rule.  The colonists were desirous on establishing a commonwealth wherein the Puritan Church could exist and their rights would be upheld.  They intended to worship God without the interference of the bishops of the Church of England and rejected anyone who did not follow their principles 

Ministers began arriving in 1629 and the job of church organization was underway. It was becoming apparent that Salem was separating off from the Church of England.  In August the covenant was accepted.  There was little in the way of organization that resembled the Church of England; the Book of Common Prayer was conspicuously left out of worship .

The land within Salem Town was not fertile, but expansion into surrounding areas through land grants produced agriculture.  One of the areas of expansion was Salem Village . The first real steps toward an independent township for Salem Village was in 1638 . The desire for the Village to become a separate 'state' was at the core of the dispute that led to the witch trials.

 There have been books written about Walter Palmer as well as a Society dedicated to his memory and descendants . One notable descendant is Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sarah Barbara Koch 1845-1926

Sarah B Koch , 22 yrs old
Born 28 October, 1845 to Johann D Koch and his wife Sarah Messinger Koch in the Manyunk neighborhood in the northwestern section of the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Baptised in 1849 by Br. Kessler at the German Reformed Church in Manyunk, Pennsylvania.
The first Manayunk census was taken by the Rev. C. Vancleaf, pastor of the German Reformed Church, in March 1827. His count indicated 147 families; 550 males, 548 females; of which 244 were men, 306 women, 282 boys, and 266 girls, for a total of 1,098 inhabitants.

The U.S Civil War conflict lasted from the time Sarah was 16 til she was 21 in 1865. In the photo to the left Sarah is 22 years old. Note the gold band on her index left hand. This was a sign of engagement.  

Sarah married James McMeekin McGee in 1874 in Philadelphia PA.  

Some interesting facts about Philadelphia in Sarah’s lifetime:

1876 World's Fair
Female Medical College
For the first time in our history the degree of medicine was conferred upon women at the Female Medical College (now Woman's Medical College) of Philadelphia."The Northern Home," founded in Philadelphia in 1853, was the first institution in the country ,when the Civil War broke, out to open its doors to the children of those who desired to enlist and to build a special home for the orphans of our dead soldiers and sailors.The first World's Fair in this country was held here to celebrate the Centennial anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.The first Commercial Museum in America was organized in this city.

Elsie May Fair MacDougal 1895~1986

Lady in Red: Elsie May with her Daughter Alice McGee

Born February 1895 In Philadelphia Pa to Frederick Fair and Frances Corbet Fair
She worked for the school district in the kitchen. When school was out she worked at the Roxborough memorial hospital  and did the ironing.
Elsie was our great grandmother on our father’s side She was known as  Nanny to her 2  grandchildren and her 6 great grandchildren .Elsie May considered pillows a luxury item. She would often buy them as gifts and bring them to her granddaughter's Alicemae's home when she would visit. . 

Fun Facts:

Grover Cleveland was President 

Pres. Grover Cleveland

Fashion at the turn of the Century:

Interesting things that happened in 1895 in Philly

February 12. Isaac R. Sheppard sent to the Board of Education his resignation as President of that Board. The Board refused to accept it, but granted Mr. Sheppard six months' leave of absence, and elected Simon Gratz, President, pro tem
February 17. Madge Yorke, 22 years old, an actress in the "Baggage Check" Company, was shot and killed in her room at Zeisse's Hotel, by her lover, James B. Gentry, 30 years old, a member of Willie Collier's Company. Gentry, who was very drunk at the time, escaped, but afterwards arrested.
February 27. The new fire station on Fourth Street above Girard Avenue, the largest in the city, opened
Elsie came to age in the time of prohibition and a time of political and cultural changes
When Elsie was 25 women were granted the right to vote. and was a time of the woman’s movement overall as many free-thinking and expressive women were referred to as flappers.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Alexander McGee 1795-

Sir John Moore
Belfast Ireland 
Alexander McGee was born in Belfast Ireland in 1795. He served in the British Royal army under King George III with Sir John Moore. This was the battle of Corunna in Portugal. The conflict began January 1809 when a British army outpost was attacked by Nicholos Jean De Dieu Soult and was part of a larger campaign against the British by Napoleon. 
Duke Of Wellington

Later, McGee fought along side the Duke of Wellington Field Marshall Arthur Wellsey at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 in what is present day Belgium that lasted 3 days. This was the famous battle in which Napoleon was defeated as Emperor of the French.

By 1816 Alexander was stationed in Dublin Ireland where his son John McGee was born in November of that year. He was  Colonel in the Queens First Royals and while in his late fifties served in the Crimean War. The Crimean War was primarily concerned with the rights of Christians in the Holy Land. Britain and France sided with Catholic rights while Russia and the Ottoman Empire sought for more rights on behalf of Orthodox Christians. 

As of October 2013 this is the most current information we have for Alexander McGee.