August 24, 2014

Two Degrees of Separation: SNGF

Randy Seaver always posts the most interesting questions for his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun series on his Genea-Musings blog. I usually don’t get the chance to participate in a timely manner, but this week’s challenge caught my eye right away. Randy asks:

1)  Using your ancestral lines, how far back in time can you go with two degrees of separation?  That means "you knew an ancestor, who knew another ancestor."  When was that second ancestor born?

2)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, in a status line on Facebook or a stream post on Google Plus.

Ok, Randy, here’s my answer:

When I was a toddler, my grandmother’s side of the family gathered for a five-generation picture. Although I don’t have any memory of that day, both I and my great-great-grandmother, Minnie (King) Steele, were in it. My mother recently gave me another picture of Minnie holding me.

Minnie King was born November 23, 1873, in Cheshire Township in Gallia County, Ohio. She had just turned 88 years old when she died on December 13, 1961, not long after our picture was taken. Mom says she was her usual cheery and active self right up to the end.

Minnie King Steele 1873-1961 Ohio
Great-great-grandma Minnie (King) Steele and me, 1961

As I looked for the earliest family member Minnie might have known, I breezed past her father and mother, Newel and Electa (Roush) King. I considered her grandfather, Gideon Roush, who lived until July 1894, when Minnie was 20 years old. Could I do better than that?

Yes. Minnie’s life overlapped with her great-grandmother, Hannah (Roush) Roush. Hannah was born December 30, 1790, and died in Cheshire Township at the age of 85 on March 26, 1876. Minnie was about two and a half years old at the time, living in the same small community. How I wish I had a photo of them together!

So with two degrees of separation, my life touched my great-great-grandmother, whose life touched her great-grandmother, who was born as the calendar turned from 1790 to 1791. That’s 223 years and counting.

Kind of boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

We are closer to history than we realize.


August 20, 2014

Indian Lake Bathing Beauty 1935: Wordless Wednesday

My grandmother, Wilma Steele, at Indian Lake in Logan County, Ohio, in the summer of 1935. At not quite 19 years old, I think she looked pretty cute in her little swim shorts. This was a few months before she eloped to marry Fred Herrel.


August 4, 2014

Hiram College Tuition in 1872

Old newspapers are always fascinating. Even when I don’t find the obituary or whatever I’m looking for (which happens more often than not), I usually turn up something of interest. Consider the following advertisement for Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. It ran on the front page of the Portage County Democrat, published in Ravenna, Ohio, on January 10, 1872:

Hiram College ad 1872

Hiram College
Hiram College offers the student a choice of six courses of study: Biblical, Classical, Scientific, Ladies’, Teachers’ and Commercial.
Common English Branches, Algebra, Composition 
       and Natural Philosophy, per term…..$7.00
All other Studies……$10.00
Penmanship (daily lessons)…..$6.00
Penmanship (complete course)……$15.00
Complete Commercial Course…..$20.00
Instrumental Music…..$12.00
Use of instrument one hour per day…..$2.00
      Students in the Commercial Course can have access to the College classes upon further payment of five dollars per term.
Calender, 1871-2  [sic]
First Term commences—Tuesday, August 22, 1871
First Term closes—Friday, November 17, 1871
Second Term commences—Tuesday, Dec. 5, 1871
Second Term closes—Friday, March 1, 1872
Third Term commences—Tuesday, March 19, 1871 [should be 1872]
Third Term closes with Commencement day, June 20, 1872
      Board $3.50 to $4.00 per week. Good facilities for self boarding, by which students materially reduce expenses.
      For catalogue or further information, address B.A. HINSDALE, Pres’t 
                                                                                             Hiram, Ohio

I did a quick check using the Measuring Worth website, and found $10 had the same relative purchasing power in 1872 as $197 does today. I have a hunch the incoming Class of 2018 would find that a pretty attractive course fee.

It’s interesting to see the curriculum offerings, too. I wonder what classes were offered in the Ladies’ course of study? The fact that Penmanship was listed separately in this little advertisement suggests it was popular. With the decline of teaching cursive handwriting in elementary school, will we eventually see Penmanship on college class schedules again?

Western Reserve Eclectic Institute at Hiram, Ohio, 1858; from the Hiram College Archives

Hiram College was founded as the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute in 1850, and has a proud history of higher education. My father-in-law and at least three of his ancestors attended Hiram at one time or another. He also has a family connection by marriage to one of its founders. So the accidental discovery of this little ad might lead me into a little more investigation.

That’s the fun thing about newspaper research. You never know what you might find, cranking through the microfilm on a summer afternoon.


Photo credit: "WREI-Hiram" by Unknown - Hiram College Archives. Via Wikipedia -

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