Saturday, February 13, 2016

Solving Puzzles

by Jerome

This article takes us away from the time period being currently researched, but is an example of how sometimes puzzles CAN be solved. That can only be encouraging in our present search for names to go with faces, or more likely faces and details to go with incomplete names. The material is slightly expanded from an article on the now defunct blog 2, where it might have been read by about three people.

I like solving mysteries. The photograph above has raised questions for many years. The two women sitting on a swing seat or hammock are the subject of a photograph in a photo album that dates from 1909. The simple question is - who are they?

The cover of the photo album was reproduced on blog 1 some time ago. It is an album of various scenes around the United Cemeteries. This was an amalgamation of three cemeteries in Ross Township, Allegheny. The Society founded the cemetery on farming land, next to an existing graveyard, and this is where Charles Taze Russell was subsequently buried. The cover of the album is reproduced again below.

The middle picture is of John Adam Bohnet who looked after the cemetery, and who later supervised the building of the pyramid on the Society’s plot. The bottom picture is of the main farm house and cemetery office. Familiar old pictures of CTR’s grave and the pyramid show this building from a different angle in the background, looking down the hill.

The rest of the photograph album shows various views of the surrounding landscape. But it does include the picture of the two women on the swing seat or hammock which appears to be taken from the farm house looking up the hill.

So who were they?

The wonders of the internet and sites like Ancestry have finally yielded the probable answer. In the 1910 census of Ross Township there are four people living on the property. Their names are given below:

So there are Edward Hollister, Head, Male, White, aged 66. His wife, Jane, aged 62. His daughter, Clara, aged 28. And then Adam J Bohnet, Boarder, aged 52. Further along the same line we get their occupations. Hollister is Cemetery Superintendent, his wife is not officially employed, his daughter is the book-keeper for the business, and finally, John Adam Bohnet (rendered here as Adam J Bohnet, just to make life difficult for researchers). Bohnet is specifically Cemetery Superintendent for United Cemeteries.

The women therefore are mother and daughter, Jane and Clara Hollister.

At some point the Hollister family moved on, because Bohnet is afterwards given sole credit as cemetery manager. There are pictures of him supervising at the time of CTR’s funeral, his bald head clearly recognisable. Shortly thereafter the newspaper, St Paul Enterprise, contained advertisements from him asking for help - manual help from men and also clerical help from women, to run the business. However, if any responded their employment was only short-lived because the bulk of the land was sold off in 1917, and the Society only retained ownership of certain sections.

It is interesting to note that the Hollister family, Edward, Jane, and Clara (who subsequently married J C Jordan) were all eventually buried in the United Cemeteries. (Edward in 1920, Jane in 1933 and Clara in 1958). However, it is significant that none of them were buried on the Society’s plots.

But it IS nice to put names to faces.


Semer said...

I read the article in the other blog. So, two to go. ;-)

Chris G. said...

Great bit of research here, thanks for sharing!