Wednesday, February 21, 2007

John McGimpsey of Coal Valley, Ill.

Below is a bio of John McGimpsey, born 1864 in Ireland, son of Robert and Jane (McGimpsey) McGimpsey. He came with his family to the US in 1869 and settled in Illinois. I haven't found a connection with my McGimpsey ancestors, but it seems that he must somehow be related to my McGimpsey ancestor Henry James McGimpsey, born 1829 in Newtownards, Down, Ireland, who came to the US in 1854/1860 (it seems he returned to Ireland for some time). With his first wife Elizabeth Hamilton, Henry James McGimpsey had two children, William James Mcgimpsey, born 13 Jan 1863 in Rock Island, Illinois, and Margaret Jane McGimpsey, born 17 Sept 1864 in Coal Valley, Illinois.

McGIMPSEY, John.--Coal Valley township is one of the most prosperous of the divisions of Rock Island county, for not only is farming carried on to a large extent, but here are located the rich mines that give the section its name. Many of the residents combine farming and mining, while others restrict their operations to one or other of the two callings. One of the prosperous men of both village and township, is John McGimpsey, who belongs to the well-known family of that name. This family originated in Ireland, where Mr. McGimpsey was born October 2, 1864, a son of Robert and Jane (McGimpsey) McGimpsey, who came to America in 1869, locating in Coal Valley, and in 1870 went to Henry county, Ill. He still later moved to Moline, where both died and are buried in Homestead cemetery in Rural township.

John McGimpsey attended common school, and helped his father until his marriage, which occurred when he was twenty-two years old. He was then united with Annie M. Moss who was born September 16, 1869, and died May 6, 1905, buried in Coal Valley cemetery. Her mother is still living in Coal Valley. Seven children were born of this marriage : Robert W., who married Annie Heintz, and they have one son, Lawrence, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work ; John F., who married Ruby Kay ; James A., born April 18, 1892, married Anna Coon, one daughter, Phyllis ; Nellie May, who was born September 23, 1895 ; Marion N., who was born December 20, 1898 ; Hugh T., who was born August 12, 1903 ; and Theodore R., who was born November 2, 1904, died September 23, 1905.

Mr. McGimpsey is a republican, and for two years was supervisor of his township. For three years he was a school director, and was a very efficient and faithful officer. He belongs to the Fraternal Reserves. Interested in and owning a fine farm of eighty-eight acres, which he operated, he is a successful agriculturalist. In the prime of life, he has many years of activity before him, which he will doubtless devote to advancing not only his own interests, but those of the community which has been his home for so many years. The family is well known in the neighborhood, and its members have made a name for themselves as men who never go back on their word, or fail to give to each a square deal. He is not a member of any religious organization but attends the Presbyterian church.

Source: Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, editors, Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Rock Island County, (Chicago, Illinois, Munsell Publishing Company, 1914) p. 1288.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Harlan M. Geyer, Sr., on Wellman and his family

Here is an excerpt from a series of interviews I did with my grandfather at the end of 2005. This particular segment is from November 26, 2005 and included my aunt Cherie Geyer. Harlan passed away on Friday, March 24, 2006. Anything in brackets "[ ]" are comments added by me. For more on the life of my grandfather, visit the memorial web page that I am working on.

Harlan: Well, last year when we went back we did the Wellman historical tour and I never knew that there was a cemetery near where we lived when I was a twelfth grader. We lived at the top of the hill and at the bottom was the river. In early colonial times, they always built their towns right on the river, you know, and every spring the river would flood out so they eventually moved the town up on the hill and there was a cemetery right near where we lived and a lot of the early colonial people were buried there and we went to visit it. And at the bottom of the hill was a mill and we used to take corn there to grind it into cornmeal and, you know, it’s one of those mills run on water power and actually the farm that we were renting had land on both sides of the river, and the pasture was really on both sides of the river, mainly.

As the years went along, they straightened the river and tried to prevent a lot of the flooding but when we went on the historical tour, they took us over through the Wasserville cemetery and there’s some stories about early Wellman in the 100 Year History of Wellman. Originally there was a town of Wasserville and then there’s the town of Daytonville and then when the railroad wanted to come through, they didn’t take it through Daytonville. I don’t know, there was controversy. Of course, there was always controversy in the early days when the railroad wanted to come through, but anyway Mr. Wellman donated land or sold land to the railroad and that’s the reason why my hometown became called Wellman, Iowa.

Cherie: Then how old were you when you went to go live with Uncle Wilbur? [Wilbur Geyer]

Harlan: I don’t know, when I was thirteen
[1933], my grandmother [Lucinda (Griffith) Geyer] had me go and live with Uncle Grant Griffith and he raised stock cattle and he milked 25 or 30 cows, which was big for a regular farmer back in those days. So, at 13 years of age, I had to get up before really daylight and go milk four or five cows before breakfast. And I got 50 cents a day plus room and board for the summer when I was thirteen.

Cherie: Didn’t he work you from morning till night?

Harlan: Yeah, just like the other two farmhands that he had.

Christina: Was 50 cents a day a lot back then? Is it the same that the farmhands were getting paid?

Harlan: Well, when I was eighteen
[1938], I taught school for $50 a month and before I went into the Marine Corps [1941], the wage was $1 a day for farmhands.

Cherie: Can you think of a story that they might find interesting about Junior?
[his son and my father, Harlan M. Geyer, Jr.]

Christina: Is it true that when dad came home and said he volunteered for the Marines that you got in a fight and punched him?
[June 1966]

Harlan: No I did not punch him, that I know of.

Christina: He always said that you were fighting in the front yard and you punched him.

Harlan: I don’t remember that, I just…

Cherie: I remember him crying.

Harlan: I was just upset because I figured that I did enough for both of us and when I became convinced that he was determined to go into the Marine Corps, I realized that I had to make a change and I said okay, if you’ve gotta go, I’m taking the day off and I’ll take you down myself. So I took him. And when the recruiting sergeant called me, wanted to talk to me, and I told him to go to hell. And he said that he was supposed to pick him up at 5 o’clock in the morning or something like that and I said, well, if you do you’re a dead man. But then Junior come home and he was so uptight about wanting to be a Marine that I decided that the best thing for me to do was to change my attitude and support my son.

Christina: Did he say why he wanted to be a Marine so much?

Harlan: He wanted to be like me.

Harlan in Korea, 19 October 1953

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Poweshiek County, Iowa Obituaries

Stewart Library in Grinnell, Poweshiek, Iowa has an obituary database in the local history section of their website with scanned obituaries collected from local area newspapers dating back to 1871. Which newspaper the clipping comes from is unfortunately not always noted, but if you've got family that lived or died in Poweshiek County, it's a good place to search. Also in the local history section is the Friends of Stewart Library Oral History Project with over 20 interviews and an online collection of articles of historic interest.

One find in the database was the obituary of the husband of my great-grandaunt Eva Mae McGimpsey, Admiral Dewey Moore. Interestingly, he and Eva married on December 2, 1926 at his sister Jennie May (Moore) Geyer's home in Washington, Iowa. She was the wife of my great-granduncle George Everett Geyer. A. D. Moore's obituary can be found here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Frank and Lucinda Geyer family 1922

This photo was in the possession of my grandfather Harlan Geyer and is now in the possession of my aunt. Frank Geyer was my great, great grandfather. He was born 16 April 1862 in Johannesburg, Germany. He sailed to America at the age of 14 with the family of his uncle Josef Freund, landing in New York City on 06 Oct 1876. He worked briefly in NYC repairing shoes before settling in the Wellman, Washington, Iowa area. He was married to Lucinda Ellen Griffith in Lime Creek, Washington, Iowa on 22 December 1888. They had six sons, Francis Grant, Leonard Lawrence, George Everett, John Walter, Wilbur G., and Harold Wayne. Frank and Lucinda were married for almost 50 years when he died in Wellman on 29 March 1938. She died in 1951.

1922 Geyer family reunion

Standing left to right: John and Margaret Geyer (children Harriott, Elloise), Grant and Grace Geyer, Wilbur Geyer, Harold Geyer, Leonard and Sylvia Geyer (child Leota), George and Jennie Geyer (children Beatrice, George Jr).
Seated: Frank (grandfather) with grandsons Kenneth (on Frank's right knee) and Harlan (on Frank's left knee), and Lucinda (grandmother) with Irene

Friday, February 02, 2007

John Moore Family, 1917

This photo is from the IowaGenWeb Keokuk County, Iowa photo gallery. The original page with names of persons pictured can be found here.

Family of John and Mynettie (Phelps) Moore, 1917

John (seated on left in photo) was the brother of my 3rd gr-grandmother Rachel Moore (a photo of her and her children can be found in this previous post). Rachel, John and another sibling, James, all came from County Down, Ireland and eventually settled in Keokuk County, Iowa. John and James served in the Civil War in Company A, 9th Illinois Cavalry. John was a POW held in Atlantica, Georgia for some time.

It appears that there could have been some issues between the children of John Moore by his first wife, Jennie Montgomery, and John's new family. Jennie passed away 5 Oct 1881; John married Mynettie Phelps on 23 Dec 1884. In the 1895 Iowa State Census, his children James A. (age 26), William George (21), and Marie Jane (15) are living separate from him. His son John (18) is living with the new family. James, William and Marie are still living together in the 1900 US Federal Census. None of his older children appear in the photo above, but I have had trouble locating the sons in later censuses, so they may not have lived in the area - Marie (Moore) Whisler was living in Oklahoma in 1910 and Minnesota in 1920.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Iowa Graves Survey

If you've got ancestors who were buried in Iowa, you should check out the Iowa WPA Graves Registration Survey site. The surveys were done in the 1930's, so later burials will not be there, and the following counties were not included: Appanoose, Benton, Cherokee, Clinton, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Hardin, Humboldt, Ida, Iowa, Jasper, Lyon, Monona, Osceola, Pottawattamie, and Warren.

The entry on my 3rd great granduncle James Moore (1837-1903, buried in White Oak Cemetery, Prairie, Keokuk, Iowa) stated that he was a Civil War veteran, serving in Company A of the 9th Illinois Cavalry. From this I was able to find him in the Civil War enlistment and pension indexes on (pay site). He enlisted as a Private on 01 Sep 1861 and was at some point promoted to Full Sergeant. He enlisted in Company A, 9th Cavalry Regiment Illinois on 18 Sep 1861. He reenlisted on 16 March 1864 and mustered out on 31 Oct 1865 in Selma, AL. On 11 Jul 1884, he applied for a pension as an invalid, filing from Iowa.

With a common name like James Moore, it can be hard to identify the correct person in these indexes, but we already knew that his brother John enlisted in the same Company, on the same day and was later a POW, held at Atlantica, Georgia, so I'm pretty certain that we've got the right records in this case.

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