Archive | October, 2011

Finding Mr. Welpe

29 Oct

My Great-Aunt Jewell Rebecca Brown Welpe was born in 1897 in North Carolina and died in 1992. Until a few weeks ago all I knew of her was from a handwritten note my mother had after a conversation she had many years ago with Great-Grandma Elizabeth Brown Whitfield six years younger born in 1903.

“Grandma’s Sister: Rebecca Brown married Mr. Welpe”.  I’d always wondered more about my Great-Aunt and thought if I could learn more about her perhaps I’d learn more of my own Great-Grandmother.  And from that little 4×4 square note spawned years of wonder over the question: “Who was Mr. Welpe?”

Records I found on opened many new doors for my search. I started with my Great-Aunt’s name as I knew it -“Rebecca Welpe”-looking for some kind of death record or census record.  There was a hit – the North Carolina Death Collection – stating she had passed away in Raleigh, Wake County, NC. Which placed her in the right region for the family,  and it revealed a new name, Jewell.  Armed with this new gem of information — there was already a second suggested record  — from the SSDI (Social Security Death Index).  This one had somewhat conflicting information — but I knew it was another clue – “Last Residence: 10520 Croton on Hudson, Westchester, NY”.

I quickly flipped over to and found their expanded  entries of data — all more valuable clues — Burial Place: Fayetteville, NC; Place of Birth: Randolph County, NC; Occupation: Public Health Nurse; Marital Status: widowed.  So we know our Mr. Welpe passes on before 1992.  A second microfilm death collection there has much of the same information but lists the name of the crematory – Rogers and Breece Crematory in Fayetteville and also lists an residence address on Crutchfield Rd.– the very same address I had as a known address for my own Great-Grandmother.  Perhaps her health began to fail so she traveled south to be with her sister Elizabeth back home in Raleigh soon before she passed to have the conflicting last known residences.

On the same search at the bottom of the page — “the following results don’t strongly match what you searched for but may be of interest”  and yes they were… perhaps these Welpe’s were relatives of –or the “Mr. Welpe”  himself.  Unfortunately, none seemed to be a match for him – but all had some kind of New York connection.  So into the database they go as possibles. For some odd, gut-reason I especially like the possible Fredrick Welpe – born approx. 1894 to German immigrant parents and living in Brooklyn Ward 27, Kings, NY. (1910 Census). But even he seems to be a miss.

Simultaneously — I wonder where is Jewell in that year – so back to Ancestry – to build her timeline:

  • 1910 United States Census: 12 year old Jewell Brown is residing in the Oxford Orphan Asylum in Oxford, Granville, North Carolina.  Listed right under her name on the next line is Lola Brown listed as the same age.
  • 1920 United States Census: 22 year old Jewell is now in Henrico County, Virginia.  Richmond Clay Ward, Independent City, Virginia.  She’s in a household of Staff nurses who are “visiting nurses.” living on South Cherry Street.
  • 1930 United States Census: 32 year old Jewell moves again this time to an apartment house on Sherman Ave. in Manhattan, New York City.  She’s her own head of household, still single and working as a nurse in the maternity center.  Many other nurses are listed in the same apartment building so perhaps this is near the hospital.
So now I’ve established her in NYC by 1930  — a marriage to Mr. Welpe just might be in Manhattan…unfortunately to get a marriage certificate in NYC it will require me to know Mr. Welpe’s first name and to acquire a copy of both his death certificate and Jewell’s.
I’ve found many Mr. Welpe’s in  NY, NJ areas from other sources — just not the one who married Jewell Rebecca.  At least not yet:
  • Albert H. Welpe b. 1878 NYC; father Clements Welpe b. 1846 Austria
  • Frank Welpe b. 1883 d. 1978 married Mary Branard /Brainerd – daughter of Grove P. Branard b. 1851 – brother Charles D. Branard
  • Frederick Welpe b. 1893 NY married Gertrude
  • John Charles Welpe married Lulu Rowland; son Dennis J. Welpe d.2007 who endowed the Welpe Theatre in NJ.
  • Lawrence Welpe b. 1884 d.1963 married
  • William Welpe  a Broadway actor in the 1920s
Until I found a resource called the “dead people search engine, funeral news and directory.”  They claim on their homepage to be “the first social network dedicated to the death and funerals”. On their search – was one Mr. Welpe with the right approximate birth and the last location zip — 10520 – that’s New York’s Croton on Hudson village. Very promising.
Milton Welpe b. 1895 died 1974.
Other citations I’ve found for Mr. Welpe  include:
  • 1910 United States Census: Milton M. Welpe — 14 years old – stock boy – natural born – parents German Andrew H. Welpe & Thelka Welpe residing in Manhattan on West 114th Street
  • 1917 — WWI Draft card from June 1917 – the 21 year old Welpe is single; a salesman for Charles Russell in Baldwin where he also resides.  On his draft card he reports he has grey eyes and brown hair.
  • 1920 – possible “first” marriage at age 24 (per 1930 US Census)
  • 1930 United States Census: 34 years old – listed as married  and age of first marriage 24. No wife is listed in the household though.  He is residing with his parents on W. 204th Street which happens to be right around the corner from the Sherman Avenue apartment where Jewell R. Brown resides.  He works as a manager of a radio store.
  • 1974 – SSDI  – Milton Welpe last residence Westchester, New York, zip 10520 (Croton on Hudson)
My intuition tells me we’ve found Mr. Right in this Mr. Milton M. Welpe,  but till i find some vital record linking them on a death certificate or marriage certificate or probate – I’ll still be… finding Mr. Welpe.

Moss ‘Ohana

19 Oct Moss Ohana c. 1925

This photo of the young Moss Family was possibly taken before they left for California in 1925.  On the 17th January 1925, the Moss’ set sail aboard the S.S. “City of Los Angeles” from Honolulu arriving in the Port of Los Angeles by the 25th.  The young Herbert is listed on the manifest as 1 year and 11 months.  The family’s U.S. address is stated as Watertown, Oahu, T.H. which is where the Hickam Air Force Base was built up about 10 years later.  The wicker rocking chair Virginia is seated upon remained a family heirloom till it fell into disrepair from decades of loving use.

Herbert K. Moss, Virginia Kahawanu (Ayres) Moss, Robert K. Moss, Henry Edmund Moss. c. 1924-1925

A little Genea Good

14 Oct

I discovered earlier today…free registration on the site allows you to submit or answer a genealogical question… Some of the stumpers include search for names, places and other brick walls busters with which folks need some help. Registration was quick and simple and it felt good to help answer a question or two.

If you want to continue that feel good genealogy vibe head on over to Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (    Become part of the global volunteer taskforce to offer your help in research, lookups, record retrieval, or photographing burial sites, cemetaries and tombstones. is always looking for help to upgrade a memorial or to be a photo volunteer.  Register on the site and you’ll receive an email alert when there’s a new photo request in your zip code zone.  Once registered you can help claim and fulfill requests by browsing within a 50 mile radius of a zip code.

Continue your cemetery volunteer adventures with the iPhone or Android app from  The premise at BillionGraves is to photograph and transcribe headstone information.  The app will track your visited cemeteries and collected headstones.

Genealogy Guilty Pleasures

7 Oct

Genealogy is an addiction for me… yes addiction.  Do I need a cure?  Probably not… but often, I do need a fix.  Here are some of my “go to” genealogy guilty pleasures. You may find a few links you’d love to Follow Friday too:

Alltop Genealogy

This blog aggregator gives their curated view of the top 100 blogs in any topic; this page covers their picks for genealogy; don’t agree you can create your own MyAlltop pages and blog collections. There’s no shortage of reading for the novice to the pro-genealogist.

I only recently made the leap into being a “paid” researcher and not looking back.  What’s funny is I’ve been a guest member since 2000…  I still need to load my tree and it will be so phone to use their accompanying iPhone app and be able to whip out the family tree at any given moment.

Chronicling America

I’ve fallen in love and it’s with yesterday’s news.  You can search America’s historic newspapers pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.  Some of Hawaii’s early papers are here and they’ve been a treasure trove of finds.  I’ve searched on names, places and topics.. their pdf browser has many FREE export options too to download a pdf or jpg of the whole page or just take a “clipping” that can zoom into the section you need and it comes with the citations…AWESOME!

Genealogy Gems Podcast

With hundreds of podcasts and wonderful content – i’ve been doing all my driving with host Lisa Louise Cooke.  She is the producer and host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an audio and video genealogy show available in iTunes.

Through collaborations on and elsewhere, my Geni Tree spans 10s of thousands of blood relatives… that’s a lot of cousins.. and I’ve discovered roots tracing my direct lineages over 40 generations back in time.

You might think that’s not a genealogy site, but oh yes it is…surname searches, history searches plus google’s own proprietary tools like GoogleEarth, Timeline, GoogleBooks and other google gadgets make for a very happy genealogist.

Ulukau: The Hawaiian Electronic Library is my number one resource for Hawaii based searches.  There’s dictionaries, Hawaiian Newspapers, and the Polk Guides (city directories from turn of the century).

Portuguese Power Lunch

7 Oct Steamship S.S. Hankow

In the heart of Palama, I entered the modest office space for the Portuguese Genealogical and Historical Society.  A sole volunteer staff person was researching at the large work table at the center of the room surrounded by bookcases lining each wall with volumes of family history binders, passenger lists, vital records and other treasures.  Some of the walls had enlarged “show and tell” foam core boards with historical photos of early Portuguese immigrants, another a timeline of sorts of the “Famous” Portuguese in Hawaii.

I was greeted warmly and invited to have a seat, quickly my host asked what  I needed and proceeded to ask my ancestors’ name, he then got up and sat himself in front of the lone PC desk near the door.  We jumped into our conversation,spelling and typing names and I apologized and introduced myself and asked his name, with a smile he said, “Charlie.”

Within minutes Charlie Lake tapped into the Society’s proprietary database of Portuguese in Hawaii and had my Great-Great-Grandfather Lino Fernandes and wife Maria Gonsalves da Encarnacao on the screen.  A whiteboard above the desk had a running total of the databases’ treasure trove of names, in excess of 259,000. The PGHS database was built over many years collected from public records including censuses (1890 – 1930), vital records (1909 – 1949), obituaries (1996 – Present) and the personal histories of hundreds of descendants.

Another quick click of the mouse and Charlie printed a descendants chart and my direct line Family Group Records with citations.  He said he could continue printing but suggested I return on another visit since it would take several hours to do the Family Group Records for all the descendants.

Charlie pulled the passenger list books for the S.S. Hankow which brought them from Funchal, Madeira Portugal in 1883.  The sailing took 66 days to complete the journey and came as he said “the long way” around Cape Horn through the Straits of Magellan.  They would arrive with two children Manuel 3 years old and Marie 1 year old and a newborn about one month old, Henry Lino, born at sea (one of 19 births aboard the ship).  It was the first time I’d seen the actual Passenger List — the page he shared however didn’t reference the newborn addition.  On a return visit I’ll be sure to ask if I can personally examine the ledger to see where they might have noted the birth.

Charlie made sure I received a copy of the passenger list ledger page, a copy of the Hankow photo courtesy of the National Maritime Museum Greenwich, London and an article excerpt originally published in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser telling of the voyage of the steamship Hankow and detailing the grand reception  for her arrival including His Majesty, King Kalakaua who was present for the concert and arrival of the 1,403 passengers.

Meanwhile, he handed me three books of Passenger Registrations donated by Robert De Mello in 1984 (a pencil inscription signed in the front cover of each).  None of them had a citation or record of my ancestors. But there was a clear photo of the same xerox copy he’d handed me and I shot a quick photo of the page.

Steamship S.S. Hankow

I got really excited about a resource that Charlie showed me which was also the source for some of the citations in the reports on my ancestors– the website for the Arquivo Regional da Madeira (ARM) or the Madeira Regional Archives.(

My one hour break time was up and it was time for me to leave. I quickly filled out the society membership application and happily paid my annual $10 individual dues (family dues were just as affordable at a mere $12).  Charlie said the next quarterly newsletter was due out soon.  Beaming, I thanked him for his kind assistance. He said he’d be there again on Wednesdays.  Looking forward to my next lunch break to do a Portuguese Power Lunch.

Portuguese Genealogical & Historical Society

Palama Settlement

810 N. Vineyard Blvd., Room 11

Honolulu, Hawaii 96817

Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10am – 2pm

P: 841-5044

‘Ohana means family

5 Oct

Since the early 90s, I’ve immersed myself in collecting genealogy–my own and that of others–literally “Shakin Trees”. Over the last year, I’ve made many more discoveries about my ‘Ohana (family) near and far and the Shakin Trees blog will be my touchstone for sharing research, family treasures and hopefully connecting with distant cousins.

October is Family History month and I’m shifting my genealogy efforts into high gear.  Feeling like i’m getting a good start:

  • Visited and enrolled as a member today with the Portuguese Genealogical & Historical Society of Hawaii
  • Have a second genealogy lunch date setup with my Aunt and family historian mentor
  • Enrolled in a few webinars and being sure to enter the daily drawing
  • Watching for the Tuesday questions/contest from
  • Got a lead to contact a Keanini relative to help collaborate and plan the genealogy for the 2012 Akana ‘Ohana Reunion in Hilo next summer.
  • Got some 3 inch binders to organize some papers on each of my grandparent’s lines.
  • Helping edit and write a “memory book” entry for another Aunt for her high school reunion
Overall October will be a wonderful month of ‘Ohana time and sharing.
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