"This should be investigated."

deer in Allegheny Cemetery

Allegheny Cemetery, with deer

March 10, 2008

I'd like to think this is the last genealogical foray. It has been fifty weeks since I started investigating the Perrins; fifty weeks since I shaved my mustache and gave up my nasal polyps. And it is now the third trip through Pittsburgh, on my way to Maryland to ostensibly help my brother drive a trailer full of stuff to his retirement house in Madison, but really to excuse a number of side trips in Maryland and Pennsylvania to chase some wild geese. But before that, one more day in Pittsburgh.

The reason for some of it is stubbornness. I had previously tried to visit the Crafton Historical Society collection; but no one was available. And it seemed I would have the same success this time as well, as no one would answer my calls, Emails, letters. But when simple requests are not enough, one must resort to guilt. When the CHS invited me to a gala at the Heinz Center in Pittsburgh, I wrote back and told them about my frustrations, and actually got a response. (The timing was good; they had just cashed my 2008 membership check). They were sincerely sorry that they couldn't staff their room in the library, etc. But they were willing to open it to me on the date I requested so long as I didn't mind working there without assistance. A rhetorical question: would the bull mind being in the china shop without assistance?

So today I was there at 9 AM ready to go. A day to find as much as I could there, and then back to the Carnegie Library.

The library staff knew who I was and unlocked the CHS room. There was a desk with computer, scanner without a USB port (not nice), some shelves full of decorative memorabilia. Then a bookshelf spanning one wall, under which were files and a map cabinet. On top of the files were loose stacks of paper, and some very old books. These I hit first. In the first pile was a copy of a commemorative book by Harry A. Meredith entitled "Reminiscences of 80 Years" written in 1942 and published posthumously ten years later by Crafton. On page 17:

"To include all the important events in the decade of the 'eighties' in one chapter would make it longer than desired, as I find it was during that time five families who have done much to help build up Crafton first established homes on what is now Noble Ave., near the Dinsmore line. They are Messrs. Jno. J. Fisher, Jno. W. Boberg, Jacob Jenemann, Thomas Gaffney, F. R. C. Perrin and Frank Armstrong."

And on page 23, discussing the first Borough government:

B. Morrey was appointed as the first clerk. Mr. Morrey soon after moved East, and Mr. F. R. C. Perrin was made Borough Clerk."

A good start.

Ignoring the really old books for now, I went for the shelves. A lot of old pictures, particularly of the Crafts and their house. But what does one expect since he started the town? Then six notebooks of deeds from the Craft family. Notebook 5 contains pay dirt.

This Indenture

Made the Eight day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and Ninety Five Between Florus R. C. Perrin of the Borough of Crafton, County of Allegheny and State of Pennsylvania and Asia K. his wife parties of the first part, and Chas. C. Craft also of said Crafton Borough County and State aforesaid party of the second part

Witnesseth. That the said parties of the first part, for and in consideration of the some of One Dollar lawful money of the United States of America, to them in hand paid by the said party of the second part, at or before the sealing and delivery of these presents, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have remised, released and quit-claimed, and by these presents do remise, release and quit-claim unto the said party of the second part, and to his heirs and assigns forever.

Someday I will learn what a quit-claim is. But what follows is a description of the Noble Street property, with a 116 foot frontage and a depth of 166 feet, two and one-half lots in all,

on which is erected a certain two story frame building.

[The lot is vacant now, with a really big patch of ivy growing among the pine trees on the south side of the property.]

So then to the old bound books. Note to self: must change will to endow the Crafton Historical Society with ample dollars to rebind these books. There was the book of minutes from the Crafton Borough Council; I copied several of the pages from 1893 in the belief that these were written by F. R. C.'s hand. There was a list of the city officials from that time: F. R. C. was clerk until 1897. Then a volume recording births through 1910. This included some of his children by Asia (i.e. Ruth), but also excluded others (i.e. Florus) and included another Asia Perrin born May 6, 1897 (which is the birth date for whom we know as Aunt Nell).

The Chartiers Weekly Mirror was present in six bound volumes, of which none corresponded to anybody's time of death, but one encompassed 1914 and had the following item under June 13 (page 4):

Perrin - Wentz

Miss Helen Rae Wentz and Lea Baker Perrin were married Wednesday evening at the home of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. L. F. Wentz, of Bradford Avenue. The ceremony was solemnized at 7:30 o'clock, by the Rev. C. M. Miller, assisted by the Rev. O. J. Shoop. The bride wore a gown of taffeta draped with lace used on her mother's wedding dress. She carried orchids and white roses showered with lilies of the valley. Miss Margaret Stephenson, maid of honor, was gowned in lavender chartreuse trimmed in yellow, while Miss Bathilda Evans, as bridesmaid, had a gown of yellow chartreuse trimmed with lavender. Will DaLee served as best man and the ushers were Clyde Phillips, of Cleveland, and Howard B. Wentz, a brother of the bride. Following a lake trip Mr. and Mrs. Perrin will reside in Ingram.

Then for the files. A nice folder represented the Crafton Methodist Episcopal Church, including ceremonial pamphlets from a number of anniversaries, as well as some random bulletins. The 1893 pamphlet was helpful in confirming F. R. C. transferred his membership in March, 1888 from the Liberty Street M. E. Church, Pgh., Pa. to Crafton. It also stated that Asia Kramer (not yet married to F. R. C., as she was wife number two) was appointed superintendent of the Epworth League in March 1, 1893. Meanwhile, in 1927 a bulletin stated that Mrs. L. B. Perrin (Helen Wentz) was the Superintendent of the Cradle Roll, and that one of the teachers for the adult men's Bible Class was L. F. Wentz.

The library was kind enough to let me make copies of some of the old records for only ten cents a page, and I showed them my appreciation by buying one of their promotional candy bars. But on to Pittsburgh, as the one record I wanted to see was only possible to view until 2 PM.

Once again I took state route 60 from Crafton to the West End, and as before I was amazed how visceral that road seems to be. I felt that way last June when Barbara drove it, and I attribute that to the fact that our family drove it fairly frequently when we visited Crafton fifty plus years ago. A short drive of only two miles, it includes an up- and downhill stretch that most probably was the first experience I ever had with such topography, having grown up in the flat land of Ohio.

At the Carnegie Library I inquired about the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society collection, which is available 10 AM to 2 PM Monday and Wednesday. Of course I arrived at lunch time and the volunteer had stepped out, but he returned. I asked him if I could view some records about which I had learned from the Wisconsin Historical Society collection. Specifically, The WPGS possessed the original records of deaths for Allegheny County between 1895 and 1910, this being a window of time before which there were no official records, and after which the state took jurisdiction. I could have sent them a check for $5.00 per record, I said, but thought I would save some money by coming instead. The humor was lost on the poor old soul, who told me that I would have to pay for copies in any case, since they did not allow these records out for display. So we decided to get the two most relevant records, those for U. G. M. Perrin (F. R. C.'s father, died 1903) and his daughter, Sarah Arbia Perrin (died 1902, age 27, apoplexy). Once again, luck had it that on U. G. M.'s record (died of debility) there was mentioned that he was buried in Homewood Cemetery.

Now the volunteer started to earn his keep. He pulled out some maps and showed me where the cemetery was situated (about three miles east of the library), and when I discovered that I had to have a library card number to use the local wireless network, he loaned me his. The Homewood cemetery was easily found by Google (now at http://thehomewoodcemetery.com/) , and their site stated that serious researchers could call to locate people of interest. As I considered the paradox of the phrase "serious research" in reference to genealogy I gave them a call and asked them to look up Upton. Thirty seconds later the woman came back to the phone and said "Section 7, lot 31, north side."

At this point it seemed silly to do any more book searching. At no previous time had I even a remote clue as to the final whereabouts of any Perrins who had managed to die in Pittsburgh, aside from Lea Perrin, whose stone in section 13 of the Allegheny Cemetery lacked even the year of his death. So I drove to the Homewood Cemetery.

Homewood cemetery chapel

Chapel and Office, Homewood Cemetery

The grounds were breath-taking, and the chapel slash office incredible. The office contained very detailed maps, and the woman there (to whom I had spoken thirty minutes before) printed out the occupants of the lot.

Included there were

  1. Rachel M. Perrin (wife of U. G. M., died 1881, three years after the founding of this cemetery)
  2. Jennie M. Perrin (F. R. C.'s first wife)
  3. Sarah A. Perrin (see above)
  4. Harry P. Robinson
  5. U. G. M. Perrin
  6. Isabella F. K. Perrin (U. G. M.'s 2nd wife, previously known only from the 1900 census data)
  7. Florus R. C. Perrin (crossed out; with the following notation: Oct 19, 1921 Removed to Allegheny Cemetery)
  8. James H. Perrin (Lea's older brother)
  9. William H. Perrin (crossed out, stating Removed to Steubenville. He was U. G. M.'s younger brother)
  10. Charles F. Robinson
  11. Harrison Gladden Robinson
  12. Katherine Ward Robinson
Rachel Morgart Perrin gravestone

Rachel M. Perrin, in Homewood Cemetery

The actual plots were not impressive. Of the old ones only Rachel M. had a gravestone, and I believe the masons were spelling challenged. James H. (Harrison) had a six inch high stone. U. G. M. (the G is said to stand for Gladden) had no marker, nor did Jennie, Sarah or Isabella.

But now I remembered something. The database I inherited from my father Tom included the following note under Asia Kramer Perrin (P501b with his database notation)

P 501b and P 604a were buried Allegheny Cemetery Pittsburgh PA on Kramer circle plot.

This should be investigated.

So off to Allegheny Cemetery ( http://www.alleghenycemetery.com/ ) to repeat the above process. There the woman appeared confused after looking up F. R. C. So I asked her if he was in the Kramer circle? She said yes.

F. R. C. and Asia Perrin graves, Allegheny Cemetery

F. R. C. and Asia Perrin, Kramer Circle, Allegheny Cemetery. Note Mausoleum

Lea Perrin grave, Allegheny Cemetery

Lea Perrin Grave, Allegheny Cemetery (photo taken Previous summer). Note Mausoleum

Kramer circle, in section 21, was a stone's throw away from Lea Perrin's grave in section 13 and within 100 feet of where Barbara and I had walked in May of the previous year when searching for same. Some really old graves there, too.

Allen Kramer grave, died 1867

Kramer Circle Gravestone

After all of this I came back to the hotel, avoiding the excitement of Lawrenceville after school is out (I think the correct phrase would be these streets be hopping), and decided to try eating Chinese food in western Pennsylvania one more time. My fortune:

Reconcile with an old friend.

All has been forgiven.

But questions remain. What is a quit-claim? How many preachers does it take to marry a Perrin? 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?