Sources for House History in Montgomery County, PA

23 January 2017 Leave a comment

I have been on quite a hiatus, but yesterday, I went down the rabbit hole of trying to research the history of some houses in rural Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  As a child, I lived in Schwenksville, PA, and the surrounding townships.  I lived in old houses, and I was always interested in who lived there before me, and what they used to look like.

For a rural area, it can be a bit difficult to research who exactly lived in a house and when.  Living in a city now, it’s much easier to research–in addition to the free classes that teach you how to research your house and what resources are available, even houses built over 100 years ago needed to have permits.  It was always much looser in the more rural areas, especially if you’re interested in houses that are, at the youngest, 130 years old.

Here are two maps that I have found useful, as it includes who lives where.  It’s especailly helpful for the rural areas around Schwenksville, Perkiomen Township, Limerick Township, and Frederick Township.  If you’re familiar with the area, you’ll be familiar with the family names from the names of the roads and stores.

  • Fowler, T. M, and James B Moyer. Schwenksville, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 1894. [Morrisville, Pa., T. M. Fowler & James B. Moyer, 1894] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed January 23, 2017.)
  • Morris, William E, and Smith & Wistar. Map of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania: from original surveys. [Philadelphia: Smith & Wistar, 1849] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed January 23, 2017.)

Daughters of the American Revolution tomorrow

26 April 2013 Leave a comment

Tomorrow, my local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter is having a Membership Workshop for prospective members, and I’m going to go. I’m trying to get a few possible Revolutionary War links sorted out, and I found one that I hadn’t found before:

From Massachusetts soldiers and sailors of the revolutionary war, vol 14, p 137.

He was the son of Jabez Sherman and Jedidah Hawes.  He married Elizabeth Claghorn.  They lived in Dartmouth, MA and Williamstown, MA.

I’m interested to see what information DAR needs for membership–what proof they need, what they accept, etc.

The Dana Brothers in the Civil War

25 April 2013 Leave a comment

Some things are just so incredible that an enumerator has to make a note.  One of these things was the service and longevity of the Dana brothers of Fayston, Vermont.

In the 1890 Veterans Census ordered by the US Pension Office (see more info at Census Bureau), the following notation was made in the “Remarks” for Chester S. Dana, Harry F. Dana, and Edwin H. Dana:

Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War; Census Place: Waitsfield, Washington, Vermont; Roll: 105; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 217

Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War; Census Place: Waitsfield, Washington, Vermont; Roll: 105; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 217

It reads: “Three of six brothers who were in the service and all lived to return to their homes and all six are yet living in this adjoining town of Fayston and Warren, Vt. July 1st, 1890.”

The other three brothers were Samuel Jackson Dana, Foster Stillman Dana, and Wesley Emerson Dana, who were enumerated separately. Edwin, Samuel, and Wesley all suffered wounds in the Civil War, with Edwin losing part of a leg.  But, they all survived and went on to live long lives, with Edwin and Samuel both in their 90s when they died.

New: Custom Family Trees in a Modern Style

25 April 2013 Leave a comment
Typographic Family Tree in a modern style

Typographic Family Tree in a modern style for sale at my Etsy store

Today I created a new pedigree design.  The design and relations are completely typographic, and I think it gives it a very modern, trendy look.  I created two versions: the pedigree seen above, and the pedigree with children seen below.  I personally prefer the pedigree without children as I think it’s a more attractive looking print, but I have a feeling the one with children will be more popular.

I have set up an Etsy shop where I will create a pedigree of your choice using the template I created.  Head over and check it out!  I’ll be creating more designs and adding them as I go.

Typographic Family Tree with Children in a modern style

Typographic Family Tree with Children in a modern style

Colorful circules pedigree

Colorful circles pedigree

Some memories of Petworth and the Old Soldiers’ Home in DC

6 March 2013 Leave a comment

The other day, the Washington Post Magazine had a great article about the rebuilding of ties between the Old Soldiers’ Home (a.k.a. Armed Forces Retirement Home) in Washington, DC and the surrounding neighborhoods of Petworth and Park View.  The article is well worth a read for a historical perspective of the Home, an example in community building, and a reminder of the effects the race riots had on DC.

But what I liked the most was the memories that people had posted in the comments section, which I’m going to repost here. Many times, comments don’t get as much notice, or they may get lost when systems/databases are changed, so I wanted to archive them for others to find easily.

3/2/2013 9:37 AM GMT-1000
Wow, the Old Soldier’s Home finally got some space here. I worked at the cemetery there during the 70’s for a couple of summers while in college. I believe that is the oldest federal cemetery in the country. Back then, the whole scene there was rather depressing. Most of those who ventured out beyond the gate went to one of two bars: Kenny”s and Ethel’s, which were practically right next \door to each other.

The cemetery opened during the civil war and buried there are both confederates (i.e., traitors) and union men. Before Gettysburg.

3/2/2013 11:17 AM GMT-1000
Ms. Wax, this aging veteran has tears in his eyes after reading this engaging story of renaissance. I watched the city burn just before I joined the US Navy, so 45 years is a long time to wait. I hope that any development there mostly benefits the veterans and their neighbors’ interaction with them. Everyone wins, and how often does that happen in DC? Thank you!

3/2/2013 2:13 PM GMT-1000
I remember back in the1950’s my grandfather taking me to the Soldier’s home and watching cows- there must have been some sort of dairy operation there at the time.

3/2/2013 2:25 PM GMT-1000
Well let me share this. Its great to see the relationship with the Old Soldiers Home and the community being reforged. Its disappointing however to hear it being implied that those relationships had ever been completely severed . Many generations of Washingtonians have worked there, taking care of the solders and the grounds or had relatives staying there. The reality is the “Home” shut itself off, even in the the most foreboding times there were always individuals and families in the neighborhood who could have been welcomed to associate with the veterans.

My interest in the site goes back even further than the establishment of the Home, having finagled my way on to the campus several times. The native Indians in this area once regarded the area as sacred. If you look at a Army Corp of Engineers topographical map, its conjectured this is where the headwaters of Washington’s “Third River” originated-Tiber Creek or Goose Creek. No doubt the native Indians had another name for this sacred place. I suspect the cistern that feeds the ponds now was the original font.

Water from the head of Tiber Creek was once taken down to the White House by wagon train. The creek meandered down to the plains feeding into the old canal system, which eventually became so polluted it was covered over and became part of the cities sewer system. What could be more symbolic of what was done to this once beautiful land, A sacred river turned into a sewer. Profoundly shameful.

Herman Aronovic
3/3/2013 3:49 AM GMT-1000
Growing up in my granmother’s house on Varnum St just a few yards away from the Soldiers Home gates in the 1960’s and climbing over those iron spikes to play football before they put up the barbed wire was very interesting to say the least! Ms Wax you just don’t all the stories in my head for the last 50 years about that neighborhood and the curious little boy who hung on to that neighborhood as my roots to where I’m at now? I used to go Senator’s games at RFK with a couples of Soldiers who rented a room from us There were 3 beer taverns on Upshur St just outside of the main gate,and alot of alcohol consumed.The pharmacy had a lunch counter and had great milkshakes and ham sandwiches! Tico’s variety store had several pinball machines and a bowling one.Ray’s had half smokes and twist doughnuts next to Barnes barbershop! I Anyway thanks for bring back some cool memories and inspriing me to contine on with my story of the little white kid on the block! I can still see tanks driving up the street in 68 riots! Sincerely,Herman

Willy Wagner
3/3/2013 11:17 AM GMT-1000
Thank you for a great story. I am a resident of the AFRH-W (Soldiers Home).
I have known Mr. Jessie James for about 10 years. He is all you wrote about him and much more.
He is courteous and assists his fellow residents in many ways.
Regarding the relationship with our outside the fence neighbors.
I am a Caucasion (don’t like to use black or white – snow is white and I have never seen a snow
white person) and when I first arrived at the home in 2002 it was African American Residents who warned me about the neighborhood. Coming from California you can imagine the effect this had on me.
As someone else already mentioned, most of the employees at the home are African Americans.
They do an excellent job and we all get along fine.
I have since lost my fear or apprehension about the DC area. To me it is a place like any other place. People are people, no matter where you live.

3/4/2013 12:04 PM GMT-1000
My husband’s paternal grandfather was an army doctor during WWII and was stationed at the “Old Soldier’s Home” in DC. His son, my husband’s father, spent many of his boyhood years there, visiting with the veterans and listening to their stories. My father-in-law still has the uniform patches and other small but meaningful memorabilia that some of the soldiers gave him. I did not realize the Soldier’s home was still open. Thank you for this article.

In addition to the Post article, I was reminded of a blog article I read last year. Prince of Petworth/House History Man did a feature on an old corner store (District Grocery at 234 Upshur Street NW) that used to service the Old Soldiers’ Home, and a couple old residents made comments as well regarding their memories:

The NeighborHood Reporter
April 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Wooo this takes me back, I grew up around the corner on Webster St and that place was wonderful . I remember one Easter back around 1962 my parents took me there and we purchased a live chick and brought it home and it only lived about 5 days . I also remember my father took us there,me and my sister and we bought my first kite. We took the kite over to Solders Home to fly but soon a security guard there told us that we couldn’ t fly it there so we had to bring it down. That was a wonderful place you could by toys candy everything a child my age (6yrs old) could want. Believe it or not I was just thinking about that store about a week ago. Pleasant memories forever THANKS POP for this trip down memory lane

May 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Thank you SO much for posting this! I lived in a house at 3rd and Varnum when I was a kid — and continued to maintain ties to the neighborhood long after that. In many ways, it was a perfect neighborhood in which to grow up. We had 3 corner stores — the one I went to was “Ben’s” which I think is/was directly across the street from the one profiled above. There was also “Tico’s” about a half a block away. That block of Upshur had a dry cleaner’s, a small variety store, a small grocery store, and when I was VERY young, a drug store — that actually had a soda fountain.

This picture and the accompanying history brought back a lot of great memories for me! Do people still by pickles from huge glass jars (“No, not that one… THAT one!”) while the patient store owner fishes for them with a giant fork? I remember Ben’s as a family business, with a tiny deli counter in back, an open “freezer” full of ice for bottled sodas, and a separate one for popsicles and such. It was kind of store and the kind of neighborhood where small kids would be sent with a scribbled note and a dollar bill from a harried parent — and come back with the bread or butter or whatever was needed for a meal — when there was no time to do the “real” shopping at Safeway. Ben’s was the first place I was allowed to go to on my own — when I was considered old enough to cross the alley — but not the street — so I have few specific memories of what we called “the store across the street”, because I only went there when ALL of the other stores on “our side” of the street were closed, or didn’t have what I’d been sent to purchase.
LOL! Seeing this picture has clearly sparked a LOT of fond childhood memories for me! Thanks PoP and Paul!!!!!

Connection with William Crosse/Peter Cross of Wethersfield, CT

23 February 2013 1 comment

I had written this in 2010 and posted it on, but I am also going to post it here so that it available for searching.  If you subscribe to Ancestry and would like to view the pedigree, it is public.  I have edited this slightly for clarity.

Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of the state of Massachusetts, Volume 4 by William Richard Cutter, William Frederick Adams (Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1910) has put forward that William Cross is the father of Peter Cross, who had children Peter (b 1650) and Mary (b 1659).  Cutter, in other works, states that William Crosse was in America by 1637, when he served in the Pequot War, and had owned land by 1644.  He bases this on the probate of the will of Jonas de Peister, which names William Crosse of London as his father-in-law and Peter and Josias Crosse as his brothers-in-law. However, this is conjecture and I believe William Crosse (aka Guiljame vander Cruicen) and family can be traced during this period in Europe.

The will of Jonas de Peister is as follows (from Genealogical gleanings in England, Volume 1  By Henry Fitz-Gilbert Waters, pp 765-766):

Jonas De Peister, born at Ghaunt, at present dwelling at London, son of late Jooas de Peister, also of Gaunte, 5 December 1638, proved 29 December 1638. ” Findinge myself weakned with an Ague.” Wife to be executrix. Poor of the Dutch Congregation. Poor of the Congregation at Haerlem. My cousin William de Peister that dwelleth with me (at 24). Peter de Peister, brother of William, ”because he is sickley.” Elizabeth de Key, my niece, daughter of my sister Mary, begotten by Jacob de Key, the son of Michael. George Barker, serving with me. Our daughter Anne. Wife, if with child. At death of child or children and marriage of wife to my right heirs, viz’, John, James and Lieuen de Peister the children of Joos de Peister, the children of Mary de Peister. My wife’s brothers Peter and Josias Crosse. I most friendly require my brother James and Lieuen de Peyster and first my father in law William Crosse, Mr. Nicholas Corselis, cousin William de Peister and George Barker for to be overseers of this my testament. [Among the names of witnesses was that of George Parker (not Barker). The widow’s name not given in Probate Act.]

So according to the will, Jonas de Peister married ___ Crosse and they had a daughter, Anne de Peister.

“Janne Vandencrewsen, wife of Jacob Fortrie” witnessed the baptism of Janne le Quesne, dau. of Isaac le Q. and Sara du Quesne on November 19, 1648 at the London church on Threadneedle Street.  In the registers of the Dutch church in London, we find an entry stating Joanna van der Cruicen, widow of Jonas de Peyster married Jacob de la Forterie on Feb 1, 1642. (Publications of the Huguenot Society of London, Volumes 13-14  By Huguenot Society of London, p 116).

In the “Dutch Congregation” of London at the time was a Guiljame vander Cruicen, or, in English, William Cross.  Guiljame vander Cruicen was a deacon and an elder in the Dutch Church ranging from 1626 until after 1642.  He was a merchant born in England.  In 1636, a Peter vander Cruicen left for a Grand Tour of Europe with a merchant’s son, Jacob Herrewyn and tutor Mr. op den Beke.

A Josias Cras van der Cruisen, from London, England, studied at the University of Leyden 12 Feb 1644.

The name Van Der Cruicen shows up occasionally.  A Jan van der Cruicen was active in Flanders around 1584, holding appointed positions (I don’t speak Dutch, but it seemed that he was based in Bruges and was a sailor/merchant).

In Mémoires de la Société des sciences, de l’agriculture et des arts de Lille  By Société des sciences, de l’agriculture et des arts de Lille, a few debts are noted by a Pierre Van der Cruicen in the late 1600s, and his they mention sister, Jean Van der Cruicen, in Menin, near Lille, France.

Van den Cruyce is a popular name, but it is interesting that those associated with England were known by “van der Cruicen” fairly consistently.

Based on the dates, Cutter’s connection is not possible.  The William Crosse mentioned in the will of Jonas de Peister was in London on December 1638, with Jonas de Peister, to be named an overseer of Jonas de Peister’s will.  William Crosse was in London from 1626 until after 1642 because he was active in the Dutch church there.  He could not be the William Crosse who served in the Pequot War in 1637.  Although possible that he was the William Crosse who owned land in Windsor, CT in 1644, it is more likely that the William Crosse who owned land in Windsor is the William Crosse who fought in the Pequot War for Wethersfield, CT–or that there were two separate William Crosses in Connecticut at that time.

Pisdorf Quirin Notes

26 October 2012 Leave a comment

Incomplete, but need to remind myself–19 Dec 1677 baptism record in Wolfskirchen has Appallonia, wife of Conrad witnessing a Quirin baptism. I couldn’t make out the last name. Look into this!!!!!

p 2:
Wolfskirchen: 11 Feb 1736–baptism Anna Otilia, daughter of Joh. Nickel Kieren and Elisabetha

p 8: [All of this unsure] Wolfskirchen: Catharina Quirin, nee Schaffer, legitimate house wife of Daniel Quirin, burger.  Her parents were Conrad and Appollonia.  She was born in 1663 and married in 1692.  She had 5 children, 3 sons and 2 daughters.  [More info, but don’t understand]

p 9:
Wolfskirchen: Mentions Theobald Quirin, Johannes Quirin, and Otilia Schmitt.  No idea what it means.

p 10:
Wolfskirchen: Mentions a Fredrich, and Theobald Quirin.  No idea what it means.

Nind–?: Johannes Schaffer and wife Magdalena…

p 15:

Wolfskirchen: Mentions Theobald Quirin

Wolfskirchen: baptism of Heinrich, son of Jacob Stroh? and Christina Quirin on 22 May 1738

p 16:
Wolfskirchen: something about Johannes Schlosser and mother Anna Margaretha nee Quirin.

p 23:

Wolfskirchen: Daniel Quirin, Father: Pritius Quirin, Mother: Rosina Schmidt?  Born about 1668, married 1693 __ 5 children, 3 sons, 2 daughters. [don’t know the rest.  Assume part is that died at age 72.]

p 25:
Burbach: Jean ? George and Sophia Philippi of Phalsbourg (Sarre-Union) and daughter Elisabeth Charlotta

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