dayton civil war monument

Soldier's Monument, Dayton National Cemetery

May 29, 2008

Once again I believe this actually will be the last genealogy trip. There is a short list of things to discover; I have satisfied myself that there are no other things worth searching for as I start to write my opus magnum weborum. (Someone must know Latin out there -- help me on this). In fact the questions remaining consist of two types:

  1. Where did the in-laws come from, and
  2. Can the Perrin ancestry be pushed back any further?

This week to date has addressed question 1. Question 2 is a little tougher for those who actually want facts to back up their opinions. Up to now that has been me, but when 280 years in the past I can bend, in fact a lot.

So in preparation to putting my parents' ashes in the ground in the Day family plot in Delaware in two days, another meander across beautiful Pennsylvania, where spring is in the air still and the traffic is no worse than usual.

But first another grueling drive across the flat land of the Midwest, punctuated only by a stop in Dayton. I again have with me a number of audio CDs which, while a chore to listen to home, are wonderful on the road. Like Bach's Saint Matthew's Passion (Christ dies in Danville, Illinois. And the bass aria at the end sung by Joseph of Arimathea, who was kind enough to give his own cave for Christ's burial -- is he saying to God to make his heart clean, or his heart one, i.e. Machen Sie mein Herz her rein or her ein? And did Bach believe in in puns?). And no, the stop in Dayton is not in honor of the Dayton Accords as brokered by William Clinton, but to see Captain Thomas Maxwell in the Dayton National Cemetery. This would be my great-great grandfather, whose daughter, Jennine, married Florus R. C. Perrin. He commanded company K, 123rd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers for six months in 1863, getting home just in time to help in Jennine's conception. His brother, Henry, apparently started the company; as he was a butcher in the city of Allegheny (now the north side of Pittsburgh), it was known as the "Butcher Company". Henry dropped out of the war after Antietam, and died three years later. But we digress. The National Archives was kind enough for a fee to provide me with Thomas' entire Civil War pension file, with even a description of the size of his prostate, and the files included the fact that for the last two years of his life he was in Dayton at the precursor of the VA. (See Carylon Burns holds the title of VA genealogist!) His grave, along with 20,000 of his friends, is there with a pristine marble stone.

Captain Thomas Maxwell Grave

Grave of Capt. Thomas Maxwell, Dayton, Ohio

But yesterday I found the rest of the Maxwells. Once again a notation in Tom's notes about Uniondale Cemetery, division 2, section G, range 9. Uniondale Cemetery is in the old Allegheny section of Pittsburgh, and the man there was nice enough to pull without cost (actually he didn't have to do any lookups) the records for the plot, which showed that Thomas' wife, brother, sister-in-law, and various children of both families were there. Included was Lea Perrin's last living aunt, Laura, who died in 1949. The big stone only lists half of the people buried in that 200 square feet. Henry, who died in 1865, has his own marble stone (corroded away by that good Pittsburgh air), and he too had a flag placed for Memorial Day.

Maxwell Monument, Uniondale Cemetery, Pittsburgh

Maxwell Monument, Uniondale Cemetery, Pittsburgh

Hugh Maxwell Grave, Uniondale

Hugh Maxwell, Uniondale Cemetery

Now for some shenanigans. For those of you who read all the way through these texts you may recall the cliff-hanging ending in the last episode after visiting Homewood Cemetery, viz:,

If you don't pay for perpetual care, do they take your gravestone away after 99 years? And who the hell are the Robinson's?

You hypothetically may add to this a more pressing question: who was Upton G. M. Perrin's second wife Isabel? Before the March trip, the only mark of her existence was one census record, in 1900. She was buried in Homewood, but the initials F. K. for her middle names was not helping me any for purposes of identification. So I went back to Homewood, and asked an innocent question in the office:

"Do you have a policy about placing new grave stones in old plots?"

I have never gotten so much attention in a cemetery in my life. I suspect they smelled money. A woman kindly drove me out to the Perrin plot, where I showed her the one stone in grave (sorry; I can't help it) disrepair, and the absence of stones for four other people. She drove me back to the office, pulled the entire correspondence file on the plot, sat me down in the sitting room, gave me coffee, and then ran off to check my credit rating.

sitting room, Homewood Cemetery

Sitting room, Homewood Cemetery (picture taken earlier)

Meanwhile I perused the various pieces of paper that represented one hundred years of Perrins and Robinsons. There was a statement signed by all seven Perrin children, in 1927, consenting to the removal of F. R. C. from Homewood, to be reburied in his second wife's family plot across town in the Allegheny Cemetery. The witness was Louis Wentz, and the notary public, Alberta Wentz; these would be Alberta Perrin's maternal grandparents. There were some ugly letters from the 1930s writtren by a downtown Pittsburgh lawyer who is trying to convince the cemetery that Upton's grandson could put up a monument in the middle of the plot. While ther letters never mentioned who this person is, it is clear that it is Lea Perrin, and that he is 1) a jerk, and 2) a wuss, for hiding behind counsel. But there are no objections today for me wanting to put in a stone, because 1) there has been no activity in the plot for fifty years, and 2) I would just put it on the Perrin portion of the plot, not the Robinsons, and 3) income generation for cemeteries is not like it used to be.

So after we talk prices (which do include perpetual care), and exchange Email addresses, I point out that I need to seek permission from other relatives, and ask whether they could do just one look up for me. They say sure, and I ask them to pull out the original ledgers and tell me when Isabel F. K. Perrin died. The date: Dec. 4, 1904.

So then back to the road. Across the mountains (a total of six tunnels that day, which would have truly driven my wife insane) accompanied by the excessively loud and often trivial Bruckner's Symphony number 8 (recorded in the Lübeck Cathedral, with its twelve second echo). After a brief stop in Bedford to work on a type 2 question (more along the lines of "where the hell did people make up this garbage anyway" -- concerning the John Perrin Jr. stories) I stay the night in Carlisle, PA, at the most gorgeous Day's Inn I have ever seen, with a pool, wireless internet, the whole shebang.

You might ask why Carlisle. The answer is that it is within spitting distance of Harrisburg, the home of the Pennsylvania State Library. But the hotel occupants do have their charm. It is right in the middle of the I-81 flyway for the senior citizen spring migration from Florida to the northeast. There were a lot of mixed fashion metaphors staying there that night.

Awake this morning to find a pair of mallards cavorting in the swimming pool. Eat and drive into Harrisburg, which while small combines the essentials of any Eastern seaboard town: grime and very poor traffic control (not aided by northeastern driving habits). The Pennsylvania capital is modeled after the Federal Triangle in D.C., and is probably of the same age. The library is one floor of such an office building, and once I figure out the protocol (I must obtain a library card, which is deemed to be of great value, and then fill out some requests) I sit down with the only set of microfilms in the world for the Chartiers Valley Mirror.

You may recall that the Crafton Historical Society possessed a few volumes of this weekly newspaper, which first appeared in 1894 and ceased publication in the 1920s, doubtlessly because of the ascendancy of radio at that time. But Crafton did not have any of the volumes which corresponded with the deaths of the principals of this story, namely Upton, his son F. R. C., or his daughter Arbia. And since now I knew the date of Isabel's (his second wife: would it help if I put hyperlinks in here?) death, I could look that up too.

The microfilms look like they have been censored. There are whole columns blacked out; for what reason I do not know. Similarly in the early years there are whole months of issues missing. But I do find the four obituaries of note.

Death of Miss Arbia Perrin

Miss Arbia Perrin, aged 26 years, died suddenly last Tuesday at 1 a. m. at the home of her father, U.G. M. Perrin, on Noble avenue, Crafton, from paralysis. Miss Perrin was born in Brownsville, but several years ago moved to Crafton, where the family is well known. She was a member of the First Methodist Episcopal church, and had taken a active part in Sunday school and church work. The deceased was a sister of F. R. C. Perrin. The funeral services were held at the residence of her father last Wednesday evening, and were large attended, testifying to the high esteem in which she was held by a large circle of acquaintances. Her pastor, Rev. Dr. G. Chapman Jones, officiated at the services, assisted by Rev. Dr. T. N. Boyle, and the music was by a choir composed of personal friends of the deceased. The interment was in Homewood cemetery, on Thursday morning.

Chartiers Valley Mirror, June 29, 1901

So far so good. Much more information than the Pittsburgh Gazette obituary.

Death of U. G. M. Perrin

U, G. M. Perrin, one of Crafton's most respected citizens, died last Thursday at 9 p. m., at his home in Noble avenue, aged 66 years. Mr. Perrin was a charter member of the Crafton M. E. Church, and a man held in the highest regard by his large circle of friends and acquaintantes [sic].

Deceased was born on a farm 20 miles west of Cumberland, Md., in August, 1836. He attended college at Rainsburg, Bedford county, this state, and shortly after leaving college was married and settled in Brownsville, Pa., where he learned the trade of a ship-builder, following that occupation all his life. For many years he had been with the Pittsburg firm of James Rees & Sons as superintendent of their boat-building department. In 1876 he moved to Pittsburg from Brownsville, came to Crafton 17 years ago, and has lived in the same house in Noble avenue ever since. Deceased was married the second time on October 18,1882, to Mrs. Isbelle Robinson, who survives him. He is also survived by one son, F. R. C. Perrin, who resided next door to him. A daughter, Miss Arbia Perrin, died in June , 1900. Two brothers survive him -- Thomas L. Perrin, a dentist, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and William H. Perrin, of the East End, Pittsburg.

The funeral services will be held this (Saturday) evening at 8 o'clock at the family home, conducted by his pastor, Rev. W. W. Youngson, of the Crafton M. E. Church. The interment will be private to-morrow in Homewood cemetery.

Chartiers Valley Mirror, Jan 24, 1903

So here is the Robinson connection!

Death of Mrs. Isabella K. Perrin

After an illness of three months, Mrs. Isabella K. Perrin, widow of U. G. M. Perrin, who died two years ago, died at 5:30 last Tuesday evening, at her home 114 Noble Avenue. Mrs. Perrin was 65 years old and one of the oldest and best known residents of Crafton. She was the daughter of Nathaniel and Isabella F. Kerr, and was born in Beaver county, Pa. After her marriage she removed to Crafton where she has lived for the past 19 years. She was one of the oldest members of the M. E. Church. She is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Alice Conrad, of Van Port, Pa., and Miss Edith Kerr, of Crafton and two brothers, T.S. Kerr, of Minneapolis, and T. J. Kerr, of East Liverpool, O. The funeral services were conducted Wednesday evening at 7 o'clock, at her late residence, by Rev. W. W. Youngson, of the M. E. Church. The M. E. Church quartet sang. Interment took place Thursday afternoon at Homewood cemetery.

Chartiers Valley Mirror, Dec. 10, 1904

So far these notices have been chock full of facts that I have not seen before. But they have a certain formulaic quality to them. So I was certainly not prepared for the final obituary.

F. R. C. Perrin

Florius R. C. Perrin, aged 47, died last Tuesday at 4:30 a. m., at his home, 120 Noble Avenue, after a short illness. His death was caused by a complication of diseases. He is survived by his wife, Asia Kramer Perrin, and seven children. Services were held at his late residence Wednesday evening at 8 o'clock, and were conducted by Rev. Dr. J. W. Hoffman. The interment was Thursday morning in Homewood cemetery, Pittsburg.

Florie Perrin was one of the most lovable men it has ever been our pleasure to know. He was loved and respected by all who knew him, and aside from his family, who, of course, are inconsolable, his death is keenly felt by a large circle of neighbors, friends and business associates who esteemed him for his many sterling traits of character. He was a consistent member of the First M. E. church of this place, and will be sadly missed from the number of workers. Florie was a great home man, and every possible moment he could spare from his business was spent in the bosom of his family where he was deemed a model husband and father, and, by the younger children, a good playmate because he enjoyed a romp as well as any of them. He has gone, but he has left a splendid example for all of us and if we follow will never go wrong. The Mirror and the entire community extends to the bereaved family their deepest sympathy.

Chartiers Valley Mirror, Jan. 22, 1910

I think this obituary exceeds the honor of having butch prison guards attend your mother's funeral. The ability of the editor to compose prose is limited; I see now why he stuck to formula before. But I have never seen such heartfelt journalism as this.

So now the recent family is wrapped up. A stop in West Chester before I started to write this gave me a chance to view the actual document giving a Thomas Perrin the right to trade with the Indians in 1724, and to run a tavern in 1727 (two years before the composition of St. Matthew's Passion). Both were signed thus:

Thomas Perrins signature

Thomas Perrins "Mark"

with someone else writing in his name and "his mark".

Maybe tomorrow I will be brave enough to go eat some Chinese food.