Minerva’s Last Years

She became a widow in 1909 when her husband unexpectedly died at their home in Coalton, Jackson County, Ohio. Her son, Miles, a bachelor, still lived at home. The following year the two of them moved to Saginaw, Michigan, to live with her oldest daughter and family, according to the 1910 census. When the family moved to Florida around 1914, she did not accompany them.

In the 1920 census, Minerva (Abrams) Bennett can be found in two censuses in Ohio. On 2 January 1920, she was enumerated with her son Miles in Coalton, Jackson County, Ohio. On 3 January 1920, she was living with her granddaughter, Fern Johnson, and her family in Trimble, Athens County, Ohio, but Miles was not listed.

The next time I located Minerva, my second great grandmother, was at her death on 5 July 1922 when she was living in Trimble, Athens County, Ohio.  The informant on her death certificate was E. E. Johnson, her grandson-in-law. Apparently, during her last days she suffered from uterine cancer, and the cause of her death was uremia (kidney failure) which she had for a little over two months. A photo of her, as well as images of her marriage and death certificates can be seen at Findagrave (Memorial #41564459) or by searching for Minerva Abrams Bennett. If you read my last post, Died on the 4th of July, you’ll notice that she died 52 years and one day after her mother, Nancy (Bridgeman) Abrams.

The following two images from her widow’s pension file document Minerva’s death date.

Drop Report, 9 Sep 1922, Minerva Bennett, widow's pension application no. 930678, certificate no. 693999; service of Philander Bennett (Pvt., Co. B &H, 56th Ohio Vol. Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of  Veteran Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Drop Report, 9 Sep 1922, Minerva Bennett, widow’s pension application no. 930678, certificate no. 693999; service of Philander Bennett (Pvt., Co. B &H, 56th Ohio Vol. Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veteran Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Envelope returned to Department of the Interior, postmarked 3 Sep 1922, Minerva Bennett, widow's pension application no. 930678, certificate no. 693999; service of Philander Bennett (Pvt., Co. B &H, 56th Ohio Vol. Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of  Veteran Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Envelope returned to Department of the Interior, postmarked 3 Sep 1922, Minerva Bennett, widow’s pension application no. 930678, certificate no. 693999; service of Philander Bennett (Pvt., Co. B &H, 56th Ohio Vol. Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veteran Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

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Died on the 4th of July

My third great grandmother shares something in common with the second and third presidents of the United States. They all died on July 4th.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson actually died on the same day – the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence – in 1826. Nancy (Bridgeman) Abrams Canter died in 1870 in Jackson County, Ohio, well before the days of mandatory death certificates.

In my genealogy research I have found an interesting document attesting to her death date. This was a sworn affidavit by her daughter and son-in-law, Minerva and Philander Bennett, on behalf of Minerva’s younger siblings’ pursuit of their father’s pension for his service in the Civil War. Here is an image of the affidavit with the transcription beside it.

Affidavit of Philander and Minerva Bennett in Pension file #370556 of Samuel Abrams.

Affidavit of Philander and Minerva Bennett in Pension file #370556 of Samuel Abrams.

 

 

“We were neighbors at the time and were present at the funeral and are able from personal knowledge to testify that Nancy, the wife of Samuel Abrams, above named, died in Jackson Co. Ohio, on the 4th of July 1870. We remember the date by a good memory and that it was on the “Fourth” of July and the year by the circumstance that we have a child born the previous year, 1869.”[i]

 

 

Have a Happy “Fourth.”

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[i] General Affidavit, 5 Nov 1891, Philander Bennett and Minerva Bennett, minors pension application no. 270031, certificate no. 370556; service of Samuel Abrams (Pvt., Co. H, 191st Ohio Vol. Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of  Veteran Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

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William Shakespeare and My Grandfather

What do my grandfather and William Shakespeare have in common?  You might think that a strange question, but it is a legitimate one. They both died on their birthdays. The 19th of June was also Father’s Day in 1938. There was probably no celebration taking place in the home of John Anthony Damato, Sr. on that day. Forty-nine years earlier, Joseph and Angelina Damato were certainly celebrating the birth of their first child in Jacksonville, Florida. Having native Italian parents, John was baptized at the Immaculate Conception Church by Father William Kenny on 1 September 1889. This was the priest who was to later become Bishop Kenny for whom the Catholic high school in Jacksonville was named; several of my Damato cousins attended this school.

John Damato baptism record-1889-cropped

John Damato baptism record-1889-Immaculate Conception Church – Jacksonville, Florida

Even after the Great Fire of 1901 in which their home was destroyed, my grandfather had a real attachment to the city of Jacksonville for some reason. His father moved the family to Boston so his brother-in-law, who was a physician, could treat him for cancer.  After his father’s death in Boston in 1906, John wanted to return to Jacksonville, so he ran away. He sent a postcard of the skyline of Jacksonville to his mother and brother in Boston. In the message on the postcard (which my father saw as a young adult), he stated that Jacksonville was where he was born and was his home and he planned to live there. He also told his mother that if they would come back to Jacksonville to live, he would provide for both of them. His mother responded positively to the invitation and, according to the 1908 Jacksonville city directory, the three of them were reunited. My grandfather kept his word to his mother and, to my grandmother’s credit, she carried out my grandfather’s promise after his death. John followed in his father’s footsteps as a tailor and, after some less than positive business partnerships, eventually owned his own business. Some of his customers were the city fire department and local theaters. In this day of mass produced clothing, it’s hard to realize that at one time uniforms were handmade by a tailor and fitted for the individuals who would wear them. Up until the 1970s, theaters employed ushers who would assist moviegoers to their seats, settle complaints, and enforce theater rules and courtesies; they wore uniforms to easily identify them. My daddy tells that because my grandfather made the uniforms for the theaters, he would often receive free movie tickets for the family. My daddy usually sat between his parents when they went to the theater. But on one occasion, their seats included one next to the wall where they let my daddy sit so my grandparents could sit together. At some point during the evening, there would be a drawing for $100 cash based on a particular seat in the theater. Wouldn’t you know that on this night, the prize went to the seat my daddy was sitting in, but he was ineligible to receive the prize because of his age.

Week of Nov 1 1937 - Fire Dept

John Damato Ledger Book for week of November 1, 1937. Note Palace Theater and City Jacksonville Fire Department entries.

John was not only skillful with his hands as a tailor, but also in several other ways. I had noticed a lapel pin he was wearing in one photograph in particular and wondered exactly what it was. I zoomed in and it appeared to be scissors and a square. I thought it must have something to do with being a tailor, but I wondered if it represented a tailor’s guild or association. After a lot of searching online, I couldn’t find anything that seemed reasonable. About two years ago, my cousin gave me a tailor’s box that had belonged to my grandfather with priceless items inside that my grandmother had saved. Among the memorabilia was a square piece of thick cardboard with this very design of the lapel pin. I suppose it was his logo, and now I believe the lapel pin was an original design by my grandfather. John Damato- hanging pendantDesign for Lapel Pin             My daddy has a bookshelf his father made from wooden spools thread had once been wound on – a resource from his trade. My sister has a wooden trunk he made for my grandmother. I believe my own daddy’s skill in woodworking was probably inherited from my grandfather. John Damato trunk - front-cropped for blog According to my daddy and his two older brothers, their father was only about 5’4” tall but strong and stocky with a deep, rich baritone voice. My daddy remembers on Sundays his father would sit in bed shaving with an electric shaver while singing “Old Man River.” He appeared in local minstrel shows as one of the end men who made jokes with the interlocutor. When he wasn’t performing, he made costumes for the shows. His community and social involvement included membership in the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Jr Chamber of Commerce pin - frontJr Chamber of Commerce pin - back       IOOF card NOTE: In order to do justice to my grandfather, I will finish his story in a later post.

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Sgt. Paul W. Ragan – Heroic Deeds in the World’s Time of Need

Today commemorates the anniversary of D-Day – 6 June 1944 – sometimes called “The Beginning of the End.”  My father-in-law, Paul W. Ragan, was a staff sergeant in Company A, 741st Tank Battalion, 2d Infantry Division in the Normandy Invasion. Although he would never consider himself a hero, he certainly did some very heroic deeds on that day and the days following. He later received a Silver Star for his actions. You can view the citation here: http://projects.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=110878

Paul W. Ragan

Paul W. Ragan

You can also read some accounts of what actually happened on that day about Sgt.Paul Ragan by searching GoogleBooks using the terms “Omaha Beach” and “Paul Ragan” with the quotation marks.

I’m so grateful for the sacrifice he and so many other young men made for the freedom I experience today. I’m also very grateful that, unlike many other equally valiant young men, he was able to live through the ordeal so I could have the privilege of knowing this wonderful man and benefiting from the influence he had on my husband.

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Philander Bennett’s Birthdate

With no Bible record or birth certificate, it’s a little difficult to state with certainty the birth date of a person born in the 1800s or earlier.  Such is the case with my great-great grandfather, Philander Bennett.  However, there are a few records which point to an approximate date and that even state the exact  date.

According to his death certificate, Philander was born 5 June 1840 in Scioto County, Ohio, to an unknown father and mother named Ann. This is the only reference to his parents that I have been able to find at this time. The informant for personal information about Philander for the death certificate was his son, Miles.

PhilanderBennett-deathcertificate-cropped-FS

The 1900 census lists his month and year of birth as June 1840.

1900 Jackson County - Philander Bennett-cropped

An even earlier document identifies the year of his birth as 1840. Philander served in Companies H and B in the 56th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. His Muster-Out card shows he was 24 years old on 16 January 1865. On 5 June 1865, he would have been 25, so he was 24 before his birthday on that year, confirming his birth in 1840.

Compiled service record, Philander Bennett, Pvt., Co. B, 56th Ohio Vol. Inf.; Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations, Civil War; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Compiled service record, Philander Bennett, Pvt., Co. B, 56th Ohio Vol. Inf.; Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations, Civil War; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Just another little something extra – Philander Bennett’s signature on a general affidavit as part of his pension application packet found in his pension file.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Happy Anniversary, Philander and Minerva!

Four days short of his 27th birthday, Philander Bennett took twenty-five year old Minerva Abrams as his wife in Hamilton Township, Jackson County, Ohio. They were married 1 June 1867 by Justice of the Peace George Gilliland.[1] Their union would result in three daughters and two sons who lived to adulthood, and the death of one unknown child who died before 1900.[2]

1867 - 1 June - Philander Bennett - Minerva Abrams - Jackson Co Ohio-cropped

I have no record of how the two of them met or knew each other. But there is a story that Philander, “a Crawford family friend,” stood at the wedding of Minerva’s cousin, Macdonald Crawford, in Scioto County, Ohio, in December of 1861,[3] just weeks before he enlisted in the Union Army.[4] Macdonald’s mother, Elizabeth, and Minerva’s father, Samuel, were siblings, and both families were living in Scioto County at the time of the census the year before. Perhaps Minerva’s family attended the wedding of her cousin and the two met then, or perhaps they had met previously at a family gathering. Perhaps they only met after Philander returned from the war. Whatever the circumstances of their initial acquaintance, I think it would be reasonable to say they were not sweethearts before Philander went to war or they probably would have married sooner than two and a half years after his discharge from the army.

 

[1] Jackson County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Index 1866-1872, vol. E, p.92, Philander Bennett –Minerva Abram, 1 June 1867; digital images, FamilySearch.org, “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” (https://familysearch.org : accessed 1 June 2014).

 

[2] 1900 U.S. census, Jackson  County, Ohio, population schedule, Coal Township, Coalton Village, p.59 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 45, sheet 4-B, dwelling 63, family 65, Philander Bennett; digital image, HeritageQuest Online (access through participating libraries : accessed 22 April 2014); citing National Archives microfilm T623, roll 1289. In the 1900 census (and 1910), one question addressed to the wife was “mother of how many children” and “number of those children living.” Minerva was the mother of six children, five of whom were living.

[3] Goodsite, Heidi Halfaker, Time in a Bottle…: A Walk through Time-The Ancestry of Heidi Halfaker Goodsite, “Macdonald Crawford page”; http://www.heidisroots.com/macdonaldcrawfordpage.htm : accessed 1 June 2014.

[4] Compiled service record, Philander Bennett, Pvt., Co. H, 56 Ohio Vol. Inf.; Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations, Civil War; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

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Her children rise up and call her blessed – Proverbs 31:28

My grandmother, Rubanner Fletcher Dukes, died at the age of 80 on 23 May 1969 at the home of her daughter who lived next door to her in Jacksonville, Florida. She had fought cancer of the jaw and cheek for three years. Despite disfigurement from surgery, she maintained her sweet spirit, her smile, and her uncomplaining attitude those last three years of her life.

I consider her a very strong and remarkable woman and am grateful to have her as one of my ancestors. From the time of her marriage, she worked at chores that all farmers’ wives did back at the turn of the twentieth century. After thirty years of that lifestyle, she made an abrupt change and moved to the big city. I suppose with farming in her blood, she might have decided to take the knowledge she had and continue to work the soil by growing beautiful plants and flowers in her yard. Perhaps you should read what her daughter wrote about her.

“Rubanner worked hard growing gardens to feed her large family and helping in the field. She was lovingly called ‘Banner’ by her brothers and sisters. As a Christian lady she was quiet spoken, an humble person, willing to help when she could. She bore eleven children. Her hands were never idle. She would quilt, tat, crochet, and do embroidery work as well as sew. Potted plants were her pleasure, getting cuttings from friends and making them grow beautifully. She liked all kinds of flowers and plants. Even in her last years she had small kumquat trees bearing fruit and enjoyed seeing the grandchildren pick and eat them.”[1]

I have blogged about my grandmother in a previous post which you can read at Valentine Birthday.

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[1] Damato, Ray and Audrey Dukes Damato. As Much As We Know … About the Fletchers and the Lees. Self published, 1995. Print.

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