Friday, February 23, 2018

Baseball - A Family Pastime

Fritz & Frank Newhouse, 1906
This picture is one of my favorite family pictures. A father and a son with the father showing his love of baseball.  The father is my grandfather Fritz Valentine Newhouse (1880-1923); he is holding his oldest child, my father, Frank George Newhouse (1906-1972).

In 1906, when this picture was taken, some of the national baseball figures were Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Rube Waddell, and Joe McGinnity.  The American League champion was the Chicago White Sox, the National League champion was the Chicago Cubs, and the World Series Winner was the Chicago White Sox. 

Baseball was recognized as the official national sport of America by the late 19th century. It was being played in villages, small towns, and large cities. It was being played in Pine Island, Minnesota, where my grandfather and father were born. In 1900, the population of Pine Island was 832 – a 51 percent increase over the 1890 population; and, it is situated 17 miles northwest of Rochester, Minnesota, in southeastern Minnesota.

Fritz played baseball with a team made up of friends and relatives in Pine Island. In the picture below, the 1900 team is shown in calico uniforms which were made by mothers and wives. By However, by 1906, apparently the team had official uniforms as the picture of my father and grandfather shows them both in standard uniforms. Of the ten men pictured below, at least six, counting Fritz, were related in some way:

· Art Rueber (Charles Arthur Rueber, 1883- ) – nephew of Ada Huntsinger Rueber (1859-1942), Fritz’ 1st cousin
· Bill McCutcheon (William Charles McCutcheon, 1879-927) – husband of Iva May Rueber (1882-1969), Ada’s     daughter
· Jack Newhouse (John Leon Newhouse, 1882-1932) – Fritz’ brother
· Frank Shay (Francis Shay, 1840-1923) – husband of Mary Elizabeth Huntsinger (1874-1930), Fritz’ first cousin
· R. K. Irish (Riley Kirkwood Irish, 1871-1944) – husband of Fritz’ sister Edna May Newhouse (1865-1909)
· Fritz Newhouse (self)

It would appear from both pictures that baseball was important to Fritz, and it became important to my father. I assume my father, like his father, played baseball in his youth. I do know, however, that he was a rabid baseball fan, especially when the Minnesota Twins came to Minnesota in 1961.

Ah, baseball – the harbinger of spring. The sport that fans wait for all winter. What is more American that than the sport of baseball. Jacques Barzun, a historian, once said, “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”

Monday, February 12, 2018

Settlers in a New State

Orris Oliver
Orris Loyal Oliver (1818-1887) was born in the extreme northeast corner in the state of New York in Champlain, Clinton County, New York. He married Martha Hallowell Forbes (1823-1897) on October 28, 1838. Martha was born in Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

In 1858, sold his farm in Champlain, and with his wife and eight children, traveled by covered wagon to Minnesota. Minnesota had just become a state at that time, and the state was still widely inhabited by various Indian tribes, who were not only at war with each other and also with the white settlers. They would have two more children after their arrival in Minnesota. In fact, their first child born in Minnesota was a girl; and wanting to give her an appropriate name, they named her Minnesota Oliver (1860-1930); she was known by her nicknames "Minne" and "Sota."

Orris and his family settled in Wabasha County where he farmed. In 1863, his application for a
Martha Forbes Oliver
Homestead describes his home and property as follows: "I have built a house thereon 16 by 20 feet and 10 feet high, two board floors, shakes for the roof and 4 doors, 4 windows and is a comfortable house to live in; I have 100 acres fenced, barn 36 by 36 feet, corn crib and wagon house.”

About 1878, a small band of Native Americans passed through the Oliver farm on their way to a large tribal gathering in Wisconsin. It was a cold, snowy evening and one of the members of the band approached the house to seek shelter from the approaching storm. Apparently, the Chief's daughter was in intense labor. Permission was granted to used the barn. Several hours passed and there was  again commotion at the front door. A Native American was speaking excitedly and pointing to the barn. Orris, not knowing what was wrong, summoned Martha to come with him. Arriving at the barn, Martha could tell that the situation was not good. There were several elderly tribal women hovering around the young mother-to-be, chanting and waving smoke
An Indian Travois from Pin Interest
over her.  Martha saw blood everywhere and soon assessed that the maiden was in grave danger of losing the child and probably dying herself - especially if they didn't get the baby out. Martha had assisted many times in difficult births for their farm animals and has also become a midwife in the area. So, she went to work. A short time later, the child was born; the mother, exhausted and weak from the loss of blood, seemed to be okay. The next day, there was a beautiful blanket placed on the front steps, a token of the chief's appreciation for saving his daughter and grandson. They had left, making a travois for the mother and baby. The blanket remained in the family for many years.

Orris died in 1887 of congestive heart failure. He left $5.00 to each of his children and to three grandchildren – the equivalent of $125 per person today. He left all of his real and personal property to his wife, Martha. In total, he left an estate of $459.00 – the equivalent of $11,438. 

Martha died November 28, 1897. In her obituary, The Graphic Sentinel described her as ". . . a tender, loving mother, a kind neighbor. . . ."
Gillford Cemetery, Wabasha County, Minnesota

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Traveler

George Swinburne
My great-grandfather, George Washington Swinburne (1846-1928), during his lifetime, lived in six states and traveled through many.

When George was a teenager, he lived in a Shaker community; he then fought in the Civil War; after the Civil War, he traveled to the Midwest; and later in life, he moved to Florida.

George’s father, Samuel Swinburne (1813-1848), died when George was only two years old. According to the 1850 U.S. census, George was living with his mother, Mary R. Sargent Swinburne (1812-1864), in Norwich, Vermont. However, by the time of the 1860 U.S. census, when George was 14 years old, he was living as a member of the Shaker community in Enfield, New Hampshire; and his mother was living with the George Blaisdell family in Hartford, Vermont.

The Shaker community in Enfield consisted of three groups: The Church, the North family, and the South family. George lived with the “South family.” Each family had 30-90 people with their own set of communal buildings including dwellings and workshops.    

So, how did George end up with the Shakers?  It was a common practice that orphans and children of
Shaker Family Buildings in Enfield - Google Images
broken homes were taken to Shaker communities. George was not an orphan, as his mother was still living; and, he was not from a broken home – at least not in the traditional sense of parents being divorced. However, George’s mother is not only living in another state, but she is also listed as being “deaf.” Perhaps this condition forced her to separate from George. Her connection to the George Blaisdell family, as earlier mentioned, is unknown.

The Shakers would educate and take care of the children until they were 21 years old.  At the age of 21, the "children" would have to make a decision - stay with the Shaker community and become a Shaker or leave the community. George chose to leave in 1864 when he turned 18 years of age.

George went from living with the Shakers to enlisting in 1864 with the Vermont Volunteers, Companies F & G (part of the Army of the Potomac). During his career as a Union soldier, besides the usual battles and skirmishes, George managed to be a part of several major battles:

  • He fought in the Battle of Cold Harbor near Mechanicsville, Virginia, which lasted from May 31, 1864, through June 12, 1864. The Battle of Cold Harbor was considered to be a Confederate victory. 
  • After the Battle of Cold Harbor, George found himself involved with the Siege of Petersburg (Virginia). Though the siege lasted for nine months (June 1864-March 1865), he participated only from June 20, 1864, through June 23, 1864. This siege was ultimately a Union victory. 
  • After his participation at the Siege of Petersburg, he is next involved with the Battle of Monocacy (aka Monocacy Junction) near Frederick, Maryland, on July 9, 1864. This battle was considered to be a tactical victory for the Confederates and strategic victory for the Union.

George was mustered out of the Union Army on June 19, 1865, over one month after the end of the Civil War. It is known that George was wounded during the Civil War; however, exactly when and where is unknown.

By 1870, George had traveled to southwest Wisconsin: He lived first in Lafayette, Wisconsin, just north of the Illinois/Wisconsin border and worked as a farm laborer. Then , he moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he worked as a fireman in a mill. Besides living in Wisconsin after the Civil War, he also lived in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Florida (where he was a citrus farmer). According to the History of Houston County (MN), George was also known as a carpenter and builder. 

George was married three times and had five children:   

  • Mary France Perkins (1852-1881), married October 23, 1869, Sparta, Wisconsin, with whom he had four children: Harriet, John, Richard, and George.
  • Effie Christina Clapp (1868-1921), married September 22, 1883, Augusta, Wisconsin, with whom he had two children: Victor and Ruth. They divorced in 1892. 
  •  Amelia Jane “Jennie” House (1844-1930), married August 23, 1913, Pasco County, Florida.

George certainly was well-traveled: He lived in six states, fought in many during the Civil War, and traveled through many more. George and his last wife are buried in Zephyrhills, Florida (northeast of Tampa), where they lived. George is my adoptive mother's grandfather.