52 Ancestors Week 48 – Elmer Heiser: summer complaint

Elmer Eugene HEISER was one of my father’s half-brothers. They shared the same father, Daniel Wilbert HEISER. Elmer’s mother was Daniel’s second wife, Maria C. KERCHNER HESS HEISER. I wrote about my father’s other half-brother, Ralph, earlier this year: Ralph HEISER

Elmer was born 17 July 1921 in York County, Pennsylvania.Pennsylvania welcome sign

Maria, his mother, was known for being mean according to my father and my aunt, Dorothy HEISER BROWN. Dot, as she was called, was raised by Daniel and Maria so she knew Maria well.

According to Dot, Maria pushed Elmer off the porch one day when he was about four years old. Dot didn’t know what had made Maria do that, and Dot said Elmer never walked again after that. And then he died.Porch

I took that to mean that Elmer died as a result of being pushed off the porch. And perhaps to nine-year old Dot it seemed that way, but that’s not how Elmer died.

On 9 September 1925, Elmer became sick with what was called cholera infantum, also known as “summer complaint” because it was most often seen in the summer months.

Cholera infantum was the name for a bacterial intestinal infection brought on from eating raw or undercooked poultry, raw dairy products, or contaminated produce. It wasn’t cholera, but it brought on symptoms like cholera: diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and a high fever. It killed many children because it caused severe dehydration, and it was highly contagious. As far back as 1893, doctors knew it was caused by an organism but the organism wasn’t isolated until 1972.

HEISER Elmer Eugene gravestone

Gravestone for Elmer

Nowadays treatment is antibiotics and IV fluids. Before that was possible, the common treatment was withholding food for 24-48 hours, giving water only, and prayer. Treatments also included chamomile, sulphur, creosote, iodine, petroleum, and other things depending on the severity of the different symptoms. There isn’t much documentation of any of these remedies working, though.

“Summer complaint” took the life of Elmer on 12 September 1925. He was four years old. He was buried at Salem Cemetery in Jacobus, York County, Pennsylvania.



52 Ancestors Week 47 – Red Peake: Just a little boy

Owen PEAKE, called Red, was the youngest son of Lee David PEAKE, Sr., and Virgie MARTIN PEAKE.  He was born 3 Feb 1936 in South Carolina.  The family lived in Richland County, South Carolina.

Red was my first cousin, once removed.  His mother, Virgie, and my grandfather, Joel Daniel MARTIN, were siblings.

Red and his older brother, Bobby, were only three years apart in age.  They probably chummed around together often.

On 10 February 1946, Red and Bobby went off playing in the woods as kids would do. As they meandered around, they found an old jar with moonshine in it.  Red drank it and became very ill.  Bobby helped him home.Jugs

Virgie took Red to an old doctor in Elgin, South Carolina who said to take him home and keep him warm which she did.

Virgie’s grown daughter, Lillie Mae PEAKE DAVIS, and her husband, John Amos DAVIS, came to the house to check on Red.  Virgie was in the bed with Red, all bundled up with him and trying to keep him warm.  Lillie and Mae and John could see how sick Red was, and they took him to the hospital. Lillie Mae held Red in her arms on the way there trying to keep him warm.

PEAKE Owen who died of alcohol poisoning

Red Peake in his casket

When they got the hospital, the doctor examined him and said he was ‘dead as a doornail.’  He had died enroute to the hospital.

According to the death certificate, Red died of alcohol poisoning.  It says he drank ½ gallon of corn whiskey.  Also, a contributing factor was exposure to rain for 6 hours.

I believe he is buried at Spears Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Pontiac, Richland County, South Carolina.

Such a sad story.  He was just a little boy.

Special thanks for Elaine Davis LaValley, granddaughter of Virgie, for telling me this story. 52ancestors-2015

Help Me Create a Diabetes Journal

My blog readers know me mostly as a family history writer, but I write other things, too, like homeschool curriculum, book reviews, guest blogs, and more.

Spring 1997 Katie Vest Williamsburg Trip with Granny and Grandpa-1

Katie, 9 years old

I have a new project that I need help with – a journal for young people with type 1 diabetes.  I’ve seen journals for people with cancer and other illnesses, but not one for those with type 1 diabetes.




Katie and her husband, Alex, cutting the cake at their wedding earlier this year

My daughter was diagnosed with T1 when she was 10.  It was a rude awakening, as anyone whose life is touched by T1 knows.  She’s 27 now, and her journey from newly diagnosed to capable and confident has inspired me to create a journal for those like her.

This is not an instructional journal that teaches how to count carbs and skills like that.

This is a personal journal for recording accomplishments, frustrations, and things learned about how to live with T1 diabetes.

If you have type 1 diabetes, please complete the survey I have linked to below.  It’s only 11 questions and won’t take long.

Link to survey:

 Type 1 Diabetes Journal Survey


And whether you have T1 or not, please share this blogpost and survey through your social networks.  The more input I have, the more helpful the journal will be.

Thanks so much for your help.


52 Ancestors Week 46 – Isaac Pyles: store clerk and more

Isaac Jones PYLES was my 2nd great grand uncle. His parents were John PYLES (1802-1870) and Rebecca Poole JONES PYLES (1800-?). I have written about two of Isaac’s brothers this year: Richard T. Pyles and William Wallace Pyles

Maryland sign






Dedicated son, store clerk and postmaster

Isaac was born in Montgomery County, Maryland and lived there his entire life.

In 1860, at age 23, Isaac was living with his parents and working on the family farm. But three years later, Isaac was a postmaster in Maryland, probably at his brother Richard’s store. Isaac was paid $197.71 for his postmaster duties in 1863.post-office-mail-box-antique-2

In 1870, Isaac and his sister and his widowed mother were living close to Richard. Isaac was not only the postmaster still, but he was also a store clerk…probably at Richard’s store. In 1871, he was paid $325.00 for his postmaster duties.

Isaac continued living with his mother who was listed as the head of the house in 1880. Seems like Rebecca was still of sound mind at that point even though she was 80 years old. Rebecca and Isaac had moved and were now living just a few houses away from Richard. Isaac still worked as a store clerk.

I don’t for sure when Rebecca died, and I’ve found no record of her after the 1880 census.


Isaac does has a life beyond the store and family

In April 1884, Isaac and another fellow supplied music at an oyster supper event in the Greenfeild area of Frederick County, Maryland. The newspaper clipping said Isaac was a skilled violinist.Violin



I was surprised by this at first, but then I remembered that Isaac’s brother, Richard, was a successful business owner who was enjoying society life himself. Isaac likely was, too, considering he was called ‘one of our prosperous merchants’ in a newspaper article from 1983.

In 1888, long time bachelor Isaac married Lucinda Rebecca HEFFNER (1853-1913). Isaac was 51, Lucinda was 35. The couple had no children.

Isaac passes away

Isaac died on 5 July 1895 at a young 57 years of age. The newspaper clipping only says he’d been sick for about a week. He’d had a severe case of pneumonia in 1893, according to the newspaper. He was quite a long time getting well. Perhaps he never really recovered from that.

PYLES Isaac J Gravestone at Monocacy Cemetery

Click on photo to go to his findagrave.com page

Isaac is buried at Monocacy Cemetery in Montgomery County along with many of my Pyles and Price ancestors.52ancestors-2015

52 Ancestors Week 45 – Joseph Pyles: beloved dentist and more

Joseph Thomas PYLES, Sr. is my first cousin, thrice removed.  He was the son of Richard Thomas PYLES(1832-1889) and Frances Ellen HAWKINS PYLES (1847-1919). He was born 13 April 1874 in Montgomery County, Maryland. His father was a successful merchant in Montgomery County who I wrote about earlier in the year: Richard T. Pyles


College and career and family

PYLES Joseph Thomas Sr Newspaper Ad from The News

Ad from The News, 5 Apr 1899

Joseph’s father sent Joseph to the University of Maryland for dental school. Joseph graduated in 1898 at 24 years of age. He opened a dental practice in Frederick, Maryland soon after.

In 1903, he married Charlotte Elizabeth BOWERS (1884-?). Their son, Joseph Thomas Jr. (called Thomas) was born in 1906; their daughter, Elizabeth, was born in 1911.


Successful dentist and community member

Joseph was financial successful in short order. In the 1910 census, he owned his home free and clear. The address was 126 E. Third Street, Frederick. It’s the pink house on the right side of the duplex in the screen capture below. Click on the photo to get a better view of it.PYLES Joseph T Sr 126 east third street frederick md

In 1918, Joseph registered for the WW1 draft. He was 44 years old. According to his draft registration, Joseph was of medium height and build, and had brown eyes and black hair.

Joseph became the treasurer of the Frederick County Dental Society when the organization began in 1918. He would hold that position until his death.

He also joined the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) along with King David Lodge and Palestine Encampment, the second and third of these being masonic organizations. Perhaps he used his dental skills to help those in need.Masonic symbol


The 1920’s and 1930’s

Through the 1920’s and 1930’s Joseph and family continued living on Third Street. They were not hurting during the depression as both children attended the University of Maryland, Thomas becoming a college professor and Elizabeth becoming a public school teacher. Charlotte was an accomplished vocalist and performed regularly for society events, and more, in Frederick.

Joseph passes away

A big bash took place in April 1934 for Joseph’s sixtieth birthday. A few weeks later, Joseph complained of not feeling well. On 1 May 1934 a patient of Joseph’s came to his dental office and found him ‘lying huddled in the floor beside his chair as if he had fallen from it. In his hand was a newspaper which he had been reading.’

Dr. William Meredith SMITH, who had an office nearby, was called to attend to Joseph. Joseph had been dead only a short time, and the doctor concluded he’d had a heart attack. ‘Word of his death was received with regret and great shock’ per The News.

Joseph’s took place at his home on Third Street and was conducted by the rector from All Saints  Church where Joseph and family were members. According to The News, ‘the funeral was largely attended and the floral emblems were unusually numerous and beautiful’. Joseph was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland.



52 Ancestors Week 44.5 – Lewis Lambright: a second look

Lewis Lambright – a second look

Last week, I wrote about Lewis LAMBRIGHT, my first cousin twice removed. I wrote what I thought was the truth about him…a barber who went to fight in Europe during WW1 who committed suicide soon after the war. I was wrong about him.

Someone who read my blogpost brought it to my attention that the Infantry unit Lewis served with never left Camp Meade, Maryland. (Thank you, Schalene Jennings Dagutis!) I decided more research was needed, and what I found was surprising.


Not such a quiet barber’s life

Lewis was a barber, but he certainly didn’t live a quiet life. A found newspaper clippings of his known escapades:

At age 15, he was arrested for theft of some oranges from a freight train. It was proven later that he was innocent of the theft, though.

At age 25, he and another man, Osborne SIX, were ‘engaged in a fracas’ because Six accused Lewis of ‘too much familiarity with Six’s wife.’ Both men were arrested by Policeman John ADAMS.’ Each man was fined, and Lewis was ‘warned by the magistrate to steer clear of other people’s wives.’

The next year, Lewis was charged with disorderly conduct by Policeman John Adams. He was fined $5, but ended up staying in the jail for 15 days since he couldn’t pay the fine. Lewis had been working as a barber since the age of 19, but I guess he didn’t save any of his money for a rainy day.


Unsuccessful suicide attempt

Lewis was sent to Camp Meade in June of 1918 as I wrote in the first blog about him. He was 29 years old. In August 1918, he came home on furlough, but remained at home instead of returning to camp on August 25 as expected.

The next night he attempted suicide by swallowing a bichloride of mercury tablet. His family realized what he had done and called a doctor who pulled him through the suicide attempt.

Click here to learn more about bichloride of mercury.

Camp Meade sent word to Frederick to look for Lambright since he was AWOL. Officer John Adams and another officer named PAINTER found out Lewis had attempted suicide, arrested him, and held him for a while.

Lewis’ doctor and the police officers tried to convince him to go back on his own, but he refused. He said ‘he didn’t like camp life and that he wouldn’t go back.’ He also told the doctor that he wanted to kill himself. Eventually soldiers from Meade came and got him.


This time he was successful

Just two months later, in early November, Lewis went AWOL. Officers Adams and Painter knew he was in town, but didn’t know he was AWOL again until they heard from the camp.

The officers went to Lewis’ home take him into custody. Lewis’ wife, Annie, wouldn’t let them in and said they couldn’t take Lewis without a warrant. Annie was tough!

While Annie was conversing with the officers Lewis was upstairs swallowing arsenic, unbeknownst to Annie or the officers.

Adams and Painter took Lewis into custody. Lewis became ill on the way to the station. When Adams and Painter inquired as to whether he had poisoned himself again, he denied having done so. But Lewis became sicker and sicker.

Finally Adams and Painter let Lewis’ wife take him home so the doctor could tend to him. The doctor came but could not save him this time. Lewis died two days later from arsenic poisoning.

I feel bad for Lewis that, in his mind, suicide appeared to be a better option than army life. I feel bad for Officers Adams and Painter and the doctor who all tried to help Lewis. And I feel bad for Lewis’ young wife who did what she could to protect him.

From researching Lewis, I am reminded that information has to be verified, and that a reasonably exhaustive search is necessary with all ancestors.

One book said Lewis served honorably, but after deeper investigation I think that book entry was incorrect and I will be sure to make a note of that in my records.

52 Ancestors Week 44 – Lewis Lambright: Served honorably

James Lewis LAMBRIGHT was the son of James L. LAMBRIGHT and Georgianna HEISER LAMBRIGHT ESTERLY. Lewis, as he was called, was born 15 May 1889 in Frederick, Maryland. His grandfather was Daniel Christopher HEISER who I wrote about last week. Here’s a link to that blogpost: Daniel C. Heiser   This makes Lewis my 1st cousin, twice removed.Maryland sign

Lewis had five siblings, the last of which was born in 1894. I don’t know what happened to Lewis’ father, but his mother married Harry ESTERLY in 1897. Georgianna and Harry didn’t have any children together.

In 1900 and 1910, Lewis was living with his mother and stepfather in Frederick, Maryland at 104 W. 6th Street. In 1910, when Lewis was 21, he was a barber.Barber pole


A quiet life no more

Life was likely quiet for Lewis until he had to register for the draft in June 1917. His draft registration says that he was single, living at home, and working as a barber. He was of medium height and build, and had light brown eyes and dark brown hair.

A year later, in June 1918, Lewis was inducted into the army. He served in the 71st infantry, Co. M. The war ended on 11 November 1918. Lewis survived the war, but not the aftermath.

After the war

According to Maryland Military Men, Lewis committed suicide on 1 Dec 1918 by poisoning himself. The listing also says he served honorably.LAMBRIGHT James Lewis Info on WW1 service cropped for blogpost


Perhaps Lewis was injured and saw no chance of recovery. Perhaps he had lost a limb or two and didn’t want to live that way. Perhaps he was shell-shocked and out of his mind. I don’t know for sure where he died either…Europe or back home. Lewis is buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland.

Sometime between his draft registration and when he left for the war, Lewis married Annie Elizabeth WICKHAM. They lived at 521 N. Bentz Street, around the corner from his mother and stepfather. Here’s a link to that house as seen from googlemaps:  521 N. Bentz Street, Frederick

I don’t know any more about his wife beyond her name. As far as I know, they had no children.


52 Ancestors Week 43 – Daniel C. Heiser: unhappy blended family?

Daniel Christopher HEISER was my 2nd great grandfather. He was born in 1830 in Carroll County, Maryland to Johannes HEISER (1802-1858) and Sarah BAUMGARDNER HEISER (1804-1836). Daniel has one brother and two sisters.Maryland sign

Daniel grew up in Carroll County.  He started work as a laborer, but from the 1860 census and beyond his only listed occupation is stone mason. Also, Daniel could read and write according to the 1900 census.

Daniel’s mother died when he was 6.  His two older sisters were probably instrumental in his upbringing after that.


Marriage Number One

In 1853, Daniel married Susan Matilda CUSHING (1835-1881?). Daniel was 23, and Susan was 17.   Between 1855 and 1879, Daniel and Susan had eight children.  These children included William Stewart HEISER and James E. HEISER, Sr. both of whom I’ve written about previously.  Read about them here:  William Stewart Heiser and James E. Heiser, Sr.


Marriage Number Two

It seems that not long after 1880, Susan died.  I haven’t found any more about it yet, but in 1882 Daniel had a son with a woman named Emma Annie PALMER, who went by Annie.  Daniel and Annie married in 1884, and had a second child that year as well. Daniel was 54, and Annie was about 27.

Sometime between 1884 and 1900, Daniel and Annie moved to Baltimore with their sons. In the 1900 census, the four of them are living in Baltimore on 1 June 1900.  Daniel was 70 then, and Annie was 43. City of Baltimore sign


Daniel appears twice in the 1900 census, though.  The second appearance is in Mt. Airy, Carroll County, Maryland, on 9 June 1900 where he’s listed as married and having been married for 47 years.  That would be the right amount of years for his marriage to Susan. Was he living a double life!?!  Did he separate from Annie between June 1st and June 9th!?! Did he lie to the census taker and if so, why?


Daniel Gets Old

In 1907, when Daniel was 77, he went to live at Montevue Hospital in Frederick, Maryland which was basically a nursing home for the poor.  He was ‘generally disabled’ according to his death certificate.

Around the 1st of September 1908, Daniel became weak and exhausted.  He lingered for about two weeks and passed away on 15 September 1908.

The funeral was held at the home of his daughter, Georgianna HEISER ESTERLY.  He was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland.  There is no headstone for him.

Questions about Daniel’s life

People fencing

Was there fighting between Daniel’s first and second families?

I have some questions about Daniel’s life. Why would Daniel and Annie up and move to Baltimore when Daniel was close to 60 years of age?  Did his children with Susan dislike Annie?






Next, on his death certificate Daniel is listed as widowed and his wife is listed as Susan CUSHING.  This information was provided by one of Daniel’s and Susan’s sons.  Did this son not know his stepmother’s name or was she so disliked that the son didn’t want her listed?  Or did his children from Susan not know that Daniel and Annie had married?

Finally when Daniel became in need of care, why did he end up back in Frederick near the children from his first marriage?  Why didn’t Annie take care of him? Had they really separated in 1900?

I will probably never know the answers to these questions, but they are intriguing, aren’t they?52ancestors-2015


52 Ancestors Week 42 – Zack Grant: A generous farmer

To commemorate my visit to Chesterfield County, South Carolina last weekend, I am writing about an ancestor who lived his whole life in Chesterfield County.

Zechariah Taylor Grant

Zack Grant

Zechariah T. GRANT, known as Zack, was my great grand uncle. His parents were Daniel Baitey GRANT (1846-1900) and Flora Ann GRIFFIN GRANT (1851-1930), and he was born in 1881 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina.

Zack was a farmer from the time he was a boy. In the 1900 census, he is living in Cheraw with his mother and is farming. In 1907, when he was 26, he married Catherine Henrietta GRIFFIN, the daughter of Henrietta GRIFFIN who was killed in a tornado in 1884.

Read about Henrietta here: Henrietta, Tornado Victim

Catherine went by Kate. Kate already had a child named Ethel by a man named Wright, presumably Kate’s last first husband.

In 1910, Zack continued to farm in Chesterfield County. Zack and Kate’s household consisted of Zack, Kate, Ethel, and Herbert Thomas (Zack’s nephew). Herbert worked on Zack’s farm. Herbert’s family had moved to Richland County, South Carolina a few years earlier, and Herbert stayed on to work the farm with his uncle.

Pleasant Grove UM Church in Cheraw

Pleasant Grove UM Church, photo from findagrave. com

Zack and Kate’s family grew with the birth of nine children over the years. One of the children, Odessa, was born and died in 1916. She died of meningitis following a bout of bronchitis. She is buried at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Chesterfield County according to her death certificate. The land for the church had been given by Zack, but I don’t know when exactly.

In the 1920 and 1930 census records, Zack and Kate are still farming. They own their land free and clear. They were still raising kids, though. Their youngest, William Griffin GRANT, was born in 1925 when Zack and Kate were 44 and 43.

In the summer of 1936, Zack became ill with his heart. He suffered for about a month with endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. He passed away on 18 Jul 1936 at the age of 57. He is buried at Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church in the Teal’s Mill area of Chesterfield County.GRANT Zechariah and Catherine headstone

Zack was a generous man.  He raised Kate’s daughter as his own; he boarded his nephew who worked for him, and he donated land for a local church.


52 Ancestors Week 41 – Will Price: He was a drinker

William Thomas PRICE (born 1856) was the oldest of four children born to Charles Thomas PRICE (1833-1902) and MaryEllen Howard WHITE PRICE (1828-1910). Will, as he was called, was brother to Clarence PRICE who I wrote about early in the year. You can read about Clarence here: Clarence

Montgomery Price (grandfather of Charles Heiser) circa 1930s

Montgomery Price, brother of Will Price and my great-grandfather

Will’s other brother was Montgomery PRICE (1859-1947) who was my great-grandfather on my dad’s side. This makes Will my great grand uncle.

Will was born in Poolesville, Montgomery County, Maryland. He had a 4th grade education, and he worked as a laborer for most of his life and mostly on farms.

In 1881, when he was 25, Will married Algerene TURNER (1862-1919), who went by Algie. Their first child of at least 7 children was born in 1882. The last of their children was born in 1899.

William Thomas Price, bro of Montgomery Price and Gertrude Price Hilliard, ca. 1930's

Will Thomas Price, who went by Will

Will had a drinking problem. And from what I can tell from some letters written by his daughter, Maude, to Will’s sister and niece, Will had had a drinking problem since before he and Algie married. Maude blamed Will for her mother passing in 1919 at a young age – 56. Maude said that her father had worried and worked her mother to an early death.

In the early 1930’s Maude was able to secure a bed at the Washington Home for the Incurables for her alcoholic father. He was in his 70’s. According to the census, he was living there in 1935 and 1940.

Maude was the only one of the children to lift a finger to help Will. Had she promised her mother to take care of him? I don’t know. But from the letters, I know that caretaking for Will was stressful for Maude who was married and had children, too. Will had lived with Maude and her family for a while which was unsuccessful to say the least.

The Home for the Incurables was like a nursing home, but the residents could go out during the day if they were able. This was a problematic for Maude since Will had to keep sober to stay there, and Will’s sister, Gertie, and Gertie’s daughter, Myrtle, would sometimes visit and give Will money…which he would use to buy liquor.

Hence the letters from Maude to Gertie and Myrtle about them giving Will money and that making it hard to keep him at the Home. Gertie and Myrtle paid her no mind and kept giving Will money anyway. The letters are fascinating, but that is a story for another day.

Will went blind which kept him from wandering the streets of Washington looking for a drink, a relief to Maude no doubt. My father told me that Will fell down some steps at the Home and died as a result of the fall. He passed on 10 Oct 1943 at 87 years of age.

Will is buried at Monocacy Cemetery in Montgomery County, Maryland, along with many of his PRICE relatives and his wife, Algie. Algie has an ornate stone marker. Will has no marker at all. I guess Maude figured she done enough for him already.52ancestors-2015