Saturday, May 30, 2015

Josef Konecny - The Bohemian Virtuoso

As I have said a couple of times before, my great-grandmother Rosemary gave me the genealogy bug. She had this way of giving just enough details in a story to have you hooked but leaving so many details out that you had no choice but to try to investigate the rest of the story. This post is about one of those teaser stories she told me.

When I was in middle school, I started playing in the school band. I had been a rockstar on recorder in elementary school (as much a "rockstar" as anyone can be on recorder), and I wanted to continue my musical pursuits into sixth grade.

My first choice for an instrument was violin. I had been fascinated by it for as long as I could remember. The first music class I remember was in kindergarten, and we learned all of the instruments' names and sounds. Of course, being a "Disney" kid, I had already known most of them thanks to the movie "Fantasia," but that didn't matter. I had decided the violin was my favorite.

Well, we didn't have a strings program (yet) at my school, so violin wasn't an option. I went with my second favorite instead. I decided to learn flute.
My sixth grade school photo. We were supposed to bring something that was
important to us to have in our photo with us. I brought my flute, and I dressed in my concert band shirt.
Personal Collection of Brittany Jenkins
When I met my great-grandmother in 9th grade, I told her about my musical adventures. Since my parents were not musical, and I only knew my grandmother to play a little piano, I thought I was the first person in the family to really pick up any kind of instrument. My great-grandmother corrected me. She said we had other musical talents in the family. She said we had a "virtuoso" in the family.

That was it. That was all she said. She didn't say who. She didn't say what kind of music. She didn't say what instrument. Just "virtuoso." It was several years before I found out who he was.
A pamphlet or brochure about Josef
Found in the University of Iowa Digital Archives
Josef Konecny was born in Vienna, Austria on 5 March 1883 to Johann and Anna Konecny. He immigrated to America with his family in 1890 at the age of 7.

While I'm unsure when Josef first started playing the violin, it is clear that he studied with Bohemian instructors. Otakar Sevcik, who was a professor at the Vienna Imperial Conservatory, is the man most associated with being Josef's tutor. This leads me to believe he started learning violin before he immigrated to America.
Clipping from Perry NY Herald, issue dated 3 December 1913
I know very little about Josef's young life, but I do know that he enlisted for the United States Army for World War I as a touring musician overseas for the troops. This seemed to jumpstart his touring stateside. He seemed to tour actively until about 1920 (that's when he starts showing up in newspapers less).

Sometime before the 1930 census, he married his pianist, Mary A. Tris. They stayed in Illinois through the 1940 census. I'm not sure what really happened to them after WWII (though I do see them in a couple of city directories in Illinois up until 1950), but I find Josef listed in the California Death Index in 1976.

I don't think Josef and Mary had any children, but I am still investigating their lives as a married couple, so it is still possible.
Taken from Josef's 1920 passport renewal application
  • 1900 Chicago, Cook County, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1930 Maywood, Cook County, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1940 Creve Coeur, Tazewell County, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • "Baraca Enterainment Course: Josef Konecny & Company," 3 December 1913, Perry NY Herald, Perry, New York (accessed on Chronicling America)
  • Josef Konecny brochure (accessed at Iowa Digital Library)
  • "Josef Konecny: The Bohemian Violin Virtuoso," 29 September 1920, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, Wisconsin (accessed on Chronicling America)
  • Passport applications and renewal applications (accessed on Ancestry)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rafael Cardenas Zepeda

Rafael Cardenas Zepeda was born 24 October 1890 in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, Mexico. His parents were Macedonio Cardenas y Cardenas and Agustina Zepeda Rodriguez.

He married at least three times. His known wives were Amalia Ortega Blanca, Herlinda (last name unknown), and Adelina Cardenas. Between all of his spouses, Rafael had at least the following children:
  • Gilberto Cardenas Ortega
  • Esperanza Cardenas Ortega
  • Raul Cardenas
  • Roberto Cardenas
  • Rafael Cardenas
For this post, however, rather than focusing on his family life, I want to highlight Rafael's military service. Unlike my previously mentioned military relatives who served in the American Revolutionary War or the U. S. Civil War, Rafael, being Mexican, served in the Mexican Revolutionary War, sometimes referred to as the Mexican Civil War.

Rafael joined the Constitutionalist Army during the Mexican Revolutionary movement in 1913. He served under the command of General Antonio Medina. I know he was against the Huerta movement, but it seems from what I've gathered that even when some groups would be allies on one front, they were enemies on another, so other than knowing he was "anti-Huerta," I know little else about his side of the War.

Most of the reason I don't know much about his time in the Revolution is because my knowledge of Spanish is limited to what I learned before age 10 and what I can glean based on a working knowledge of French and some Latin. But I do know that during Rafael's time in the military, he worked his way up to Brigadier General.
One of the many medals that was given to Rafael.
They are all in the possession of his granddaughter, Amalia Cardenas Tristan
Photo taken by Thomas Cardenas
Certificate in the possession of Amalia Cardenas Tristan
Photo taken by Thomas Cardenas
By 1918, he was the first head of the Department of Factories and Military Supplies under Venustiano Carranza de la Garza's presidency. (This leads me to believe Rafael and Venustiano Carranza were allies (more frequently than enemies, at least) in the War.)

While Rafael appears in few books and records, it seems he was rather successful in his professional life. He was a member of Congress, a federal deputy, and he also served as provisional governor of Tamaulipas. He was the governor-elect for the 1920-1924 term, but he only served four days until 8 May 1920 when he retired.
Photo of Rafael found in a book at Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA
(I forgot to write down the name of the book)
Rafael died in 1956 at the age of 66 of a myocardial infarction.
Taken from death certificate
I hope to find out more about the Mexican Revolution as soon as I learn a little more Spanish, but until then, I have to rely on the certificates, medals, and fantastic photos from my great-aunt Amalia. Hopefully, more information will be revealed to me soon.
Photo provided by Thomas Cardenas
Original in the possession of Amalia Cardenas Tristan

Saturday, May 16, 2015

John Upshaw

The following is a repost of my Patriots Remembered post on another of my ancestors who fought in the American Revolution. His name was John Upshaw.

John Upshaw is another verified Patriot in the DAR database. He is also another one of my ancestors. In the Daughters of the American Revolution, after you join under your first Patriot, you can submit "supplemental" applications for any other ancestor in your lineage who was also a Patriot. While I have not submitted any supplemental applications yet for myself (they can get costly quickly at $75 a piece), John Upshaw is another person in my lineage that I could use to submit a supplemental application. This is his story.

John was born 22 February 1755 in Essex County, Virginia.
Taken from his Pension Application.
John states he was born in Essex County, VA on 22 February 1755
John married Amy Gatewood on 5 March 1776.

According to his pension application, John served under a number of officers in his time in the Revolutionary War. First, he was drafted and served for three months as a Private with Captain William Tucker and Colonel Dabney. (His father-in-law, Larkin Gatewood, was a Sergeant with Captain William Tucker. I am curious if that had anything to do with his being drafted.)
Taken from Pension Application
During that three months in 1780, he marched from Amherst County, Virginia to Hampton under the Command of Marquis de Lafayette before being discharged.
Taken from Pension Application
Later, he was drafted again and served another two months as a Private under Captain Woodruff, who was under the command of Colonel Merriwether. In 1781, he marched, yet again from Amherst to Hampton, and after having only served for one month, he was discharged again.
Taken from Pension Application
Later in 1781, he was drafted to serve another two months, this time with Captain Dawson. He marched from Amherst to the Albemarle Barracks where he was stationed to Guard the British prisoners being held there. He served in this position for only a month before being discharged again. (As far as I can tell, the Albemarle Barracks ceased to function in the end of 1780. I wonder if John was mistaken on the time he served there.)
Sketch of the Albemarle Barracks
Artist unknown
John was later drafted a fourth time! This time, still being in 1781, he was drafted under Captain Burrows. Under Captain Burrows, he marched from Amherst County to a place near Yorktown. He was in service for one additional month during this term before being discharged.

I find John Upshaw's story to be very different from the story of my other ancestor, John Threadgill. John Threadgill enlisted before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He also fought for the American cause for a consecutive year.

John Upshaw, on the other hand, did not voluntarily enlist. He was drafted, not once, but four times. And his service wasn't until the later half of the War. Also, he only served for periods of a month or two before heading back home to his family. I wonder if the differences in their family lives influenced their different stories.

John Upshaw got married before his service. John Threadgill didn't seem to get married until after he served. Perhaps John Upshaw felt more of a duty to being home caring for his new bride than serving on the battlefield, whereas John Threadgill did not yet have a family waiting for him at home.

I also find it interesting that John Upshaw could not sign his name on his application like John Threadgill could. The following is a copy of his "mark" which served as his signature on his Pension Application.
John's mark as found in his Pension Application
In regards to the DAR, so far 19 Daughters have successfully filed under this Patriot. As of this writing, Daughters have successfully shown lineage under the following children of John and Amy:
  • Sarah R. Upshaw
  • George L. Upshaw
  • James Upshaw
  • John Upshaw
I have yet to uncover any additional children for this couple, but I have not investigated this family very deeply. If I find any other children born to this union, I will post their names, if not here on this post, on a future post.

  • John Upshaw's Pension Application (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Sketch of the Albemarle Barracks is currently unsourced. Found in a Google Search as being present on several blogs also unsourced.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hiram and Sally Casto

Hiram Casto was born 3 July 1824 in the area of what is now West Virginia but, back then, was still part of Virginia. His parents were Daniel Taylor and Mary Elizabeth Shamblin Casto.

Hiram moved around quite a bit in his life. He in shown living in Jackson County, Virginia in 1850.
Clipping from 1850 Census
By 1860, he is living in Pekin, Dillon, Tazewell County, Illinois.
Clipping from 1860 census.
Son, George W., is also living with them, but he is on the next page.
He stays in the Dillon area in 1870, but by 1880 he has moved to Washington, Pettis County, Missouri. Then, by 1900, he is living in Williams, Benton County, Illinois. He seems to have stayed in Benton County until he died.
Clipping from 1910 census
Hiram and Sally are living with their son, Mason R. Casto
Hiram married Sarah Casto, the daughter of John George Casto and Katherine Westfall. Sarah and Hiram were second cousins, once removed.

In the 1900 and 1910 censuses, Sarah is listed as having given birth to 12 children.
Clipping from 1910 census showing number of children Sally had and how many are still living in 1910
Five of her children were listed as still living in 1900, and only four of them were listed as living in 1910. I only have seven children listed for her (and her husband), so the other five are still a mystery to me. Here are the children I have so far for the couple:
  • Daniel Taylor Casto (born c. 1851)
  • Mason Raspburn Casto (born 5 September 1856)
  • Harriet Casto (born c. December 1859)
  • George Washington Casto (born 5 June 1865)
  • John Casto (born March 1868)
  • Hiram Franklin Casto (born c. 1871)
  • William Casto (born c. 1873)
If anyone knows the names of the other five children I am missing from my list, please send me a message! I would love to complete the family lines here. My brother and I both agree that we think these missing children were very young when they died. Most probably, they were born at least between Daniel and Mason and/or between Harriet and George.

Sarah died 22 April 1913 in Cole Camp, Benton County, Missouri. Hiram died a few years later on 25 October 1924, also in Cole Camp. They are buried at Union-Williams Cemetery in Cole Camp.

  • 1850 Jackson County, Virginia U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1860 Pekin, Dillon, Tazewell County, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1870 Dillon, Tazewell County, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1880 Washington, Pettis County, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1900 Williams, Benton County, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1910 Williams, Benton County, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Death Certificate, Mason Raspburn Casto (accessed on Ancestry)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Reason A. Colburn

My fourth great-grandfather, Reason A. Colburn was born 4 September 1836 in Alabama. His parentage is thought to be John Colburn and Susan Blankenship, but I have not found any proof of this relationship yet.

On 8 February 1859, Reason married Elizabeth Catherine Wyers. Together, they had at least the following children:
  • James A. Colburn
  • John H. Colburn
  • Jerrie L. Colburn
  • Nancy Kizzie Colburn
  • Thomas J. Colburn
  • David L. Colburn
  • Mary M. S. Colburn
Clipping from 1880 census
The more I look into this man, the less I think I know about him. There seem to be several men with the name of Reason Colburn living in Alabama around the time he was. There was my fourth great-grandfather, there was another man about the same age who married a Polly Ann Carter, and there was a man born about 1805.

At least one of the Reasons served in the Confederate States Army in the Alabama Infantry. My ancestor fought (at least) with the 40th Alabama Infantry, Company D, according to his tombstone. There are also records for a Reason Colburn serving with the 28th Alabama Infantry, Company A. While the services in both units spans similar timelines, the two have gaps in places the other helps to fill. So there is a possibility the same man served in both companies.

More work will need to be done to completely rule out my Reason's involvement with the 28th Infantry, but I'll leave that for a Civil War Souls post. Still further research needs to be done on this family in general. I must say, I have unknowingly neglected this family in my research to this point. I need to do some actual digging and see what comes out of it.
Reason Colburn
Photo provided by Thomas Cardenas