Location: Cleveland Ohio

WPA Annals of Cleveland, 1818-1937

During the New Deal Era, workers of Annals of Cleveland staff summarized and indexed material from early Cleveland newspapers, beginning with the inaugural issue of the city’s first paper, the July 31, 1818 Cleaveland Gazette and Commercial Register. The project provided jobs for unemployed white-collar workers during the Depression of the 1930s and created an important record of early life and thought in the city of Cleveland.

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Biography of Elbridge G. Little

Elbridge G. Little was born August 5, 1807. He obtained his preliminary education at Exeter, N.H., and graduated from the Medical College at Cleveland, Ohio. He attained eminence in his profession, and in New Lisbon, Wis., where his last years were passed, he was one of the wealthiest and most prominent citizens. His wife, who was born November 4, 1809, was a daughter of Thomas and Judith (Dodge) Peabody, of the part of old Danvers, Mass., now known as Peabody. She was a sister of George Peabody, the wealthy and benevolent banker, who died in London, and who bequeathed to her son, George Peabody Little, a portion of his vast wealth. Six children were born to Dr. and Mrs. Little, George P.; Allen F., who was born August 12, 1838; and Henry C., who was born March 31, 1842. George Peabody Little was educated in the academy in Lewiston, N.Y., Pembroke Academy of Pembroke, N.H., and the gymnasium and military institute here, a branch of the Norwich Military Academy of Vermont. He taught school for one term in Pembroke, N.H., when he was eighteen years old, and the following year went to Portland, Me., where he was engaged in mercantile business some six years. The ten years ensuing he managed a photograph studio at Palmyra, N.Y., having taken a fancy to chemicals and cameras. Returning then to Pembroke, N.H.,...

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Biography of Judge William Smieding, Jr.

Judge William Smieding, Jr., who for the past fifteen years has been the municipal and juvenile court judge of Racine County, is a native son of this city and his life record stands in contradistinction to the old adage that a prophet is not without honor save in his own country, for worth and ability have gained him professional recognition and he is regarded as one of the representative members of the Racine bar. He was born September 9, 1868, a son of William and Mary (Wustum) Smieding. The father’s birth occurred at Lübbecke, in western Prussia, November 11, 1831, and he was a son of August and Amelia (Mix) Smieding, who were likewise natives of that country, while his paternal grandfather was a brewer and baker of Germany, where he owned a small shop. He and his wife both died in Germany at an advanced age. Their son August followed in the footsteps of his father, acquainting himself with the trades of brewing and baking, but afterward went to Holland, where he secured a situation as clerk in a store. He was engaged in military duty under Napoleon I in the year 1815. His death occurred in 1850, when he was fifty-six years of age, while his wife passed away about six years before. Their family numbered seven children, including William Smieding, who obtained his education in the...

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Biographical Sketch of I. B. Gurney

I. B. Gurney was born April 10, 1845, near Cleveland, Ohio. His father, Asa H. Gurney, was a native of Ohio, and his mother, Catherine Sortor Gurney, a native Allegany County, New York. When he was ten years of age his parents moved to Lake County, Ohio, where they were located on a farm, and where Mr. Gurney received his education, attending school during the winter for several years, and afterward entered college at Berea, Ohio. In August, 1863, he went to Venango County, Pennsylvania, where he became foreman in the office of the McClintock Oil Company, where he remained until 1866 when he moved to Caldwell County, Missouri, and had charge of a drug and grocery business for a year and then came to Daviess County and settled in Colfax Township. In the fall of 1871 he was appointed United States mail agent on the North Missouri Railroad, and held the position three years when he again went into the drug business at New Castle, Gentry County, finally returning to Daviess County where he has since resided, engaged in teaching and farming. Mr. Gurney has been twice married; first in 1866, to Miss Carrie M. Cole, a native of Ohio, and by whom he had one son; Asa G., born January 25, 1868. He was again married, May 17, 1879, to Miss Marilla Mullins, of Daviess...

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Biography of Preston B. Plumb

In the words of his biographer, Preston B. Plumb was a pioneer in Kansas. He was one of the founders of Emporia. He was in the Union army, and both major and lieutenant-colonel of the Eleventh Kansas. He was long United States senator from Kansas. In the Senate he was one of the men who accomplished things. He was the father of the ides of the conservation of the natural resources of America. It was his law that created the National Forest Reserve and extended aid to irrigation and the reclamation of arid lands. Many of the laws on the national statute books were put there by Preston B. Plumb. He was a great man and a great Kansan. No attempt can be made to cover fully the life of this great Kansan in a brief sketch. Here will be found only those details which are the frame work of biography and some reference to the larger work of which his life was an expression. Preston B. Plumb was born at Berkshire, Delaware County, Ohio, October 12, 1837. His parents, David Plumb and Hannah Maria (Bierce) Plumb, were of old New England families, their respective parents having come as pioneers into Ohio. David Plumb was a wagonmaker. As a boy young Plumb put in part of his time in his father’s shop. At the age of twelve, having made...

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Slave Narrative of John W. Matheus

Interviewer: Bishop & Isleman Person Interviewed: John Williams Matheus Location: Steubenville, Ohio Age: 77 Place of Residence: 203 Dock Street WPA in Ohio Federal Writers’ Project Bishop & Isleman Reporter: Bishop (Revision) July 8, 1937 Topic: Ex-Slaves Jefferson County, District #5 JOHN WILLIAMS MATHEUS Ex-Slave, 77 years “My mothers name was Martha. She died when I was eleven months old. My mother was owned by Racer Blue and his wife Scotty. When I was bout eleven or twelve they put me out with Michael Blue and his wife Mary. Michael Blue was a brother to Racer Blue. Racer Blue died when I was three or four. I have a faint rememberance of him dying suddenly one night and see him laying out. He was the first dead person I saw and it seemed funny to me to see him laying there so stiff and still.” “I remember the Yankee Soldier, a string of them on horses, coming through Springfield, W. Va. It was like a circus parade. What made me remember that, was a colored man standing near me who had a new hat on his head. A soldier came by and saw the hat and he took it off the colored man’s head, and put his old dirty one on the colored man’s head and put the nice new one on his own head.” “I think Abraham Lincoln...

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Slave Narrative of Charles H. Anderson

Interviewer: Ruth Thompson Person Interviewed: Charles H. Anderson Location: Cincinnati, Ohio Place of Birth: Richmond, Virginia Date of Birth: December 23, 1845 Place of Residence: 3122 Fredonia St., Cincinnati, Ohio Occupation: Handy man “Life experience excels all reading. Every place you go, you learn something from every class of people. Books are just for a memory, to keep history and the like, but I don’t have to go huntin’ in libraries, I got one in my own head, for you can’t forget what you learn from experience.” The old man speaking is a living example of his theory, and, judging from his bearing, his experience has given him a philosophical outlook which comprehends love, gentleness and wisdom. Charles H. Anderson, 3122 Fredonia Street, was born December 23, 1845, in Richmond, Virginia, as a slave belonging to J.L. Woodson, grocer, “an exceedingly good owner not cruel to anyone”. With his mother, father, and 15 brothers and sisters, he lived at the Woodson home in the city, some of the time in a cabin in the rear, but mostly in the “big house”. Favored of all the slaves, he was trusted to go to the cash drawer for spending money, and permitted to help himself to candy and all he wanted to eat. With the help of the mistress, his mother made all his clothes, and he was “about as well...

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Slave Narrative of Charley Watson

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Charley Watson Location: South Carolina Age: 87 “Dis is a mighty hot day I tells you, and after climbing them steps I just got to fan myself befo’ I give answer to your questions. You got any ‘bacco I could chaw and a place to spit? Dis old darkie maybe answer more better if he be allowed to be placed lak dat at de beginnin’ of de ‘sperience. “Where was I born? Why right dere on de Hog Fork Place, thought everybody knowed dat! It was de home place of my old Marster Daniel Hall, one of de Rockefellers of his day and generation, I tells you, he sho was. My pappy had big name, my marster call him Denmore, my mammy went by de name of Mariyer. She was bought out of a drove from Virginny long befo’ de war. They both b’long to old marster and bless God live on de same place in a little log house. Let’s see; my brother Bill is one, he livin’ at de stone quarry at Salisbury, North Carolina. My sister Lugenie marry a Boulware nigger and they tells me dat woman done take dat nigger and make sumpin’ out of him. They owns their own automobile and livin’ in Cleveland, Ohio. “Us live in quarters, two string of houses a quarter mile long and...

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Biography of Charles Kurlander

Charles Kurlander is the president of the firm of Kurlander Brothers & Harfield, manufacturers of cloaks, suits and dresses at St. Louis and in this connection has built up a business of most satisfactory proportions. He was born in the province of Ponewiecz, state of Kovno, Russia, December 14, 1873, and is a son of the late Joseph Kurlander, who was also a native of that country and a successful clothing manufacturer. The father died in his native land in 1887, at the age of eighty-five years, nd the mother came with her son Charles to America in 1890. By her marriage he had become the mother of five sons and two daughters, Charles being the youngest f the family. The mother passed away in St. Louis, August 23, 1919, at the age of ighty-six years. Charles Kurlander was educated in the schools of his native country and when lad of fourteen years was apprenticed to the designer’s trade working without remuneration while learning the business, in fact he had to pay for his instruction, but he gained a thorough knowledge of the art of designing and thus laid the foundation of his later success. In 1890 he came to the new world, settling in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was employed as a designer for two years. In 1892 he came to St. Louis and entered the employ of...

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Biography of William T. Buckner, Hon.

Hon. William T. Buckner of Wichita was born at Washington Court House, Ohio, January 2, 1846, and secured his early education in the public schools. He was still a lad in his early ‘teens when the Civil war came on, but succeeded in enlisting as a private in Company I, Seventy-third Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, with which he was in almost constant service at the front. His enlistment had been for three years, but the hard life of the army broke down the young soldier’s health and after two years he was given his honorable discharge because of disability and returned for a while to his home. After his recovery, he again enlisted, this time in Company F, One Hundred and Seventy-fifth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and again went to the front, his service continuing until the close of the war and his final discharge being given him in July, 1865. As a member of two regiments, he was a participant in a number of important engagements in Virginia and in the Southwest, including the battles of McDowell, Cross Keys, Franklin and Nashville, and his record as a soldier was a most honorable one. When his military career was finished, he returned to his home and took up the study of law under the direction of his cousin, Judge Robert M. Briggs, of Washington Court House. After some preparation...

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Biography of Edward J. Burkley

When business permits of a leisure hour Edward J. Burkley greatly enjoys a game of golf or motor trip but the major part of his time and attention are concentrated upon the responsible duties that devolve upon him as manager at St. Louis for the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut. In this connection he has built up a business of extensive proportions and is one of the well known representatives of insurance interests in St. Louis. A native of Ohio, he was born in Cleveland, June 5, 1884, and is a son of Frederick J. Burkley, who was likewise born in the Buckeye state and was of German descent. His father was the founder of the American branch of the family, crossing the Atlantic in the late ’40s and taking up his abode in Ohio. Frederick J. Burkley became a butcher by trade and profited as the years passed by through the successful conduct of the business interests under his control. He was born in 1858 and therefore had attained the age of fifty-eight years when he passed away on the 10th of July, 1906. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Mary Boetcher, was born in Germany and pursued her education in that country. She still survives her husband and is now living in Cleveland, Ohio. Their family numbered four children, three daughters and...

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Slave Narrative of Georgia Baker

Interviewer: Mrs. Sadie Hornsby Person Interviewed: Georgia Baker Location: Athens, Georgia Georgia’s address proved to be the home of her daughter, Ida Baker. The clean-swept walks of the small yard were brightened by borders of gay colored zinnias and marigolds in front of the drab looking two-story, frame house. “Come in,” answered Ida, in response to a knock at the front door. “Yessum, Mammy’s here. Go right in dat dere room and you’ll find her.” Standing by the fireplace of the next room was a thin, very black woman engaged in lighting her pipe. A green checked gingham apron partially covered her faded blue frock over which she wore a black shirtwaist fastened together with “safety first” pins. A white cloth, tied turban fashion about her head, and gray cotton hose worn with black and white slippers that were run down at the heels, completed her costume. “Good mornin’. Yessum, dis here’s Georgia,” was her greeting. “Let’s go in dar whar Ida is so us can set down. I don’t know what you come for, but I guess I’ll soon find out.” Georgia was eager to talk but her articulation had been impaired by a paralytic stroke and at times it was difficult to understand her jumble of words. After observance of the amenities; comments on the weather, health and such subjects, she began: “Whar was I born? Why...

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Biography of Capt. Hiram Smith

CAPT. HIRAM SMITH. – Capacity for business may make a man a miser or a shark. Generosity may make him a pauper. In the one case he may so use his talent as to over-reach and distress his neighbors; and in the other he may impoverish himself and become a burden rather than a benefit to society. The benevolent heart is best when joined to a sagacious head. No man seems so happy, and certainly none so useful, as he who is able to gratify his love of doing good by having the means for its accomplishment ever at hand. Such man was Father Wilbur. Such man also was Captain Smith. Oregon may well boast of both of them. Hiram Smith was born in Danville, New York, in 1810. That was about the time that many of the American princes were born; – when the American youth realized that the continent wa to be conquered from nature, as it had been in the last generation from tyranny. West of the Alleghanies a man might have about as much land as he could ride over. There was the opportunity to repeat the life which the world has most deeply cherished in its songs, and stories, – of making new homes, building new towns and constructing new states. the dross, the slag, of the old incrusted past was to be left...

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Biography of John C. Kruse

John C. Kruse is one of Champaign’s oldest business men in point of continuous service, having lived in that city for almost half a century. He has been an independent merchant for over forty-five years, and he has wisely looked after and directed the business training of his sons and assisted each one to get established in business. Mr. Kruse is a native of Germany, where he was born July 23, 1840, son of John O. and Minnie (Martens) Kruse. His parents spent all their lives in Germany. John C. Kruse had that substantial training afforded by the public school system of Germany. His father intended that he should go to a seminary and qualify for the profession of teacher. His father was a cabinetmaker, and before the plan had been carried out with respect to the son’s education he became so deaf that his son had to leave school and take charge of the business. Thus when Mr. Kruse came to the United States in 1867 he had mastered a trade and had considerable business experience. He first located in Cleveland, Ohio, but after a year there moved to Champaign, Illinois. Being an expert workman, he found employment in the furniture factory of Walker Brothers, with whom he remained four years. Out of his modest savings he then engaged in a business for himself and has been one...

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Slave Narrative of Lucretia Alexander

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person Interviewed: Lucretia Alexander Location: 1708 High Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: 89 Occupation: Washed. Ironed. Plowed. Hoed “I been married three times and my last name was Lucretia Alexander. I was twelve years old when the War began. My mother died at seventy-three or seventy-five. That was in August 1865—August the ninth. She was buried August twelfth. The reason they kept her was they had refugeed her children off to different places to keep them from the Yankees. They couldn’t get them back. My mother and her children were heir property. Her first master was Toliver. My mother was named Agnes Toliver. She had a boy and a girl both older than I were. My brother come home in ’65. I never got to see my sister till 1869. “My father died in 1881 and some say he was one hundred twelve and some say one hundred six. His name was Beasley, John Beasley, and he went by John Beasley till he died. “My mother died and left four living children. I was the youngest. “I got religion in 1865. I was baptized seventy-three years ago this August. “I ain’t got nary living child. My oldest child would have been sixty-four if he were living. They claim my baby boy is living, but I don’t know. I have four children. “The first overseer I...

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