26 March 2012

Looking at Minuscule Genealogy Clues

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber 
March 2012

Tucked away in ornate lacquered box in my mother’s possession was a red season’s ticket to the Monarch Roller Rink.  When I discovered the ticket I immediately noted that it was assigned to “Feiler Reporter” and dated July 1885.   Two aha clues! I already knew that the box was from Portsmouth, Ohio.  But was the ticket from Portsmouth or had it traveled with “Feiler”?

I had worked diligently on my Feiler/ Feyler heritage.  Edward Leopold Feiler made his way to Hamburg from Hungry and boarded the Ship Coblenz on 10 August 1883.  The ship list calls him Leopold, a watch maker from Kenti, Galicia.  The ship sailed to Glasgow where he then boarded the ship Ethiopia and arrived 29 August 1883 in New York.

City directories usually have a lag time of six months to a year on individual listings.  Thus a person could be deceased yet show up as a resident in the same year of death.  The 1884 Indianapolis [Indiana] City Directory lists Leopold Feiler boarding at 84 S. East Street.     This is not far from Union Station and the Jewish Community.  On 29 March 1884 Feiler appeared in Marion County Circuit Court to declare an oath of allegiance.  

The next three years of Feiler’s life in America are murky.  According to his obituary published in the Portsmouth Correspondent, 29 June 1900 he migrated to America in 1884.  We know from the ship lists the newspaper clipping is incorrect by one year.  The same article says he got a position in Indianapolis and came to Portsmouth in 1889 as a help to Mr. C. Cohen.    Again erroneous information as we plow deeper into minuscule details.  While there is error in this German newspaper it was well worth my time to locate it by doing a physical search of the original microfilm.  In 2000 Jeffrey G Herbert abstracted and translated many of the death notices from this paper and after editing by Barbara K. Gargiulo it was published as Translated Abstracts of Death Notices in the Portsmouth Correspondent 1894-1908.  However they completely missed this almost column long obituary of my ancestor.  Thank goodness I follow up, when possible, with the original source material.

Tucked away in my jewelry box is a beautiful blue garnet ring inscribed 17 December 1887 E. L. F. to D. M. C.  D. M. C. is his future wife Dessie Mae Clayton.  There is no indication that she was in Indianapolis in 1887.  She became a member of Bigelow United Methodist Church in Portsmouth, Ohio in August 1885.  There are no family stories of how they met. 

On 26 March 1888 Edward Leopold Feiler appeared in Probate Court of Scioto County, Ohio to finalize his naturalization.  The clerk wrote his name as Feiler and then penned over the I with a Y.  With the stroke of a pen his surname became Feyler and all subsequent documentation appears to carry the surname as Feyler.  

And now I am directed back to the two clues on the Monarch Roller Rink Ticket. #1. The spelling is Feiler and #2. The date is July 1885.  When filling a chronology of an individual’s life no one wants a three year gap.  Where was Monarch Roller Rink and where was Feiler in 1885?  I searched the city directories of Indianapolis and found no listing for a roller rink of this name.  I searched for histories of Roller Rinks and yes I searched NewspaperArchives for “Monarch Roller Rink.”  And there is the minuscule computer search error that almost left my trail cold.  

I recently posted the ticket on the popular social network, Facebook on a created wall “You Know You Are From Portsmouth Ohio If?”  With 2120 active members I felt certain if this roller rink were in the area someone would know.  Chris Lewallen jumped in and after a search came back with no location found for “Monarch Rink.”  Not discouraged after several hours he pops back with a rink in Distel Hall in 1917.  When Chris wrote “Monarch Rink” I realized my error in research tactics. Shame on me!  I immediately hit the search engine again.  The Portsmouth Times at NewspaperArchives.com came back with many hits by removing the word “roller” from my search. The search term Monarch was too broad.  The earliest hit is for 5 December 1885 when the city solicitor announced that Monarch Rink had already taken out a license for the skating rink and opera house.   

My chronology now shows that Edward Leopold/Lee Feyler was in Indiana in 1884 and was in Portsmouth, Ohio in 1885.  

The same year he naturalized, 1888,  the Portsmouth Times announced that Ed Lee Feyler who had been associated with Charles Cohen accepted a position with E. Corriell.  The following year he opened his own store on West Second Street.  In 1890 Dessie and Edward Lee Feyler were married at Bigelow Church.  A son, Howard Clayton Feyler was born in September 1893.  Deeds, advertisements, and personal items fill in the years of his short life in America.  Edward Leopold Feiler/Feyler died 25 June 1900 from stomach cancer.  

From articles Feyler had an interest in bicycle racing.  But for now being a reporter at Monarch Roller Rink remains a bit of a curiosity.  Through the years the Monarch held balls, banquets even Temperance Meetings.  The 17 November 1888 Portsmouth Times describes the building as “The old barn like Monarch Rink…”  That same year they ran ads to rent the Rink to responsible parties for fairs, festivals and political meetings.  

My grandfather was just a 3 months short of his 7th birthday when his father died.  His mother, Dessie, kept postcards that had been exchanged with a cousin and his grandfather in Europe.  Those few minuscule lines sent across the ocean from one country to another have opened doors to learn more about my European heritage and to be introduced to surviving cousins from the Holocaust.  They have led my research from Temisvar now Rumania, Budapest in Hungry,  Bielitz, Austria Silesia and even Komarom Czechoslovakia.  

To date I have not found a record of Edward practicing his Jewish faith in Indianapolis or Portsmouth.  He married, as I have mentioned at Bigelow  United Methodist.  Yet once again I find a minuscule clue  buried within the pages  of the History of Scioto County, Ohio by Evans in 1903 “…and to this day most of the members of the choir at the Temple are also members of the choir of the Bigelow M. E. Church.”

Minuscule clues open the door to wonderful genealogy and historical avenues.

07 March 2012


Compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
March 2012
When John Geer Martin was just a little boy he told his mother he had a dream. He was going to own a big horse farm.  He housed his horses in the detached garage by his house on Waller Street in Portsmouth, Scioto County, Ohio.  He went out to Scioto fairgrounds regularly. As he grew he knew that whatever he did it must involve horses. His father sent him to Blacksburg to VPI where he studied engineering.  But he really wanted to be with his horses. 

When World War II started he was one of the first to register.  He became a cargo pilot and flew the Hump.  His daughter and this compiler have all the letters he wrote home to his mother. Among them he told her he would name his farm “Jomar” for John Martin.  He could already visualize what it would look like.  He also acknowledged that engineering was not for him and that he truly wanted to be a veterinarian.   When the war was over, he went to Ohio State University, married, dabbled in journalism and finally with a DVM degree in hand moved across the river to Kentucky.

His wife, Mary Helen Feyler had made a childhood friend with a circus that had been in Portsmouth.  By the time they married she was taking him to meet her friends.  She often joked that his dream farm Jomar stood for John and Mary not just John Martin.  And over the next few years the network of circus associations grew along with his reputation as a circus animal doctor.

In 1961 the dream became a reality.  Martin  had purchased acreage in Boyd County, Kentucky at Cannonsburg.  With the help of his dear friend Michael Polakoff, aka Coco the Clown, they cleared the land.  I remember huge stacks of brambles and sticks and fires.  One of the funny incidences was when “Uncle” Mike was sent to get a tractor just down the road.  By dusk he was nowhere to be found and the call came “Doc I am in a town called Catlettsburg and I am lost.”  He had driven that tractor all afternoon when it should have been a ten minute ride. 

Painting by John Geer Martin
As the house was being built my father ordered brass plaques for the gates he designed.  JOMAR on one side and his name on the other.  His dream became a reality.  To celebrate he invited many of his circus friends.  It must had been the first time that the circus community knew he was calling the farm JOMAR.  They were quick to ask if it was named for John Ringling North’s circus car Jomar.  The car had been named for John and Mable Ringling.  My parents, surprised were quick to tell everyone their story and agreed it was a serendipity moment to tie his loves together.  The county named the newly graveled road Jomar Road.

For a while the train car was used by Rudy Bundy and in the 1960’s my father toured the “graveyard” of circus wagons and old trains rusting and off the track in Florida. There is a short grainy film he shot showing the burning of beautiful circus wagons and the train standing abandoned in the background.

Jomar in Boyd County, Kentucky was full of laughter, horses and circus friends
for many years.  Besides the wonderful saddle bred horses that we showed, several retired circus horses lived out their lives on Jomar.  Ringling boarded a beautiful stallion named Royal resplendent with his Kings Range brand.  Royal, retired from the circuit, lived out a happy life with our family.  Hanniford’s left two retired horses to pasture.  Robin who was notorious for scratching his huge back, breaking the fence, usually when my father was out of town; leaving mother to chatter away at him as he followed her back across where he belonged.  The second horse Sherry was a gentle white and my son John got the honor of taking a ride when he was small.

My husband and I were excited when an auction in the Zanesville, Ohio area advertised circus items.  Circus Fans came from all over to bid on what appeared to be mostly posters.  However, my eyes quickly found the familiar Jomar china in one lot.  I remember my husband and I wondering if Circus Fans would realize the value and history of the china but resolved we would add the items to Jomar in Kentucky.  As we began to bid I realized that the group was all looking my way.  Apparently, while I thought I was unknown, these fans knew Jomar and in honor of my parents nodded and did not bid. 

One of the items my parents did not have in the hodgepodge of china was any coffee cups.  Jennie Howerton, mother of Dr. Paul Savage, in Ashland, Kentucky matched the burgandy lettering color perfectly creating a set of six porcelain cups.  While a bit more dainty than the heavy original Jomar china it is a nice addition.

This is not genealogy but is the provenance of something that our family treasures and is as much a part of our history as our lineage.   The provenance of artifacts in history are as important as the people who utilized them.

Today Jomar in Kentucky sits quietly, in need of fence repair and laughter.  My father passed away in 1999.  My mother is still matriarch at Jomar but Alzheimers has stolen her memories. There is talk of restoration of the Ringling rail car Jomar that was in such disrepair so many years ago and its history is well documented.  

The history of Jomar in Kentucky and the legacy my parents left will continue.  My father loved many things in life including flying and journalism.  When he retired from veterinary medicine he decided to write. He wrote two war histories and two books about his life as a veterinarian.  Doc My Tiger’s Got An Itch tells a few of the many tales he had as an assistant veterinarian with Ringling and as veterinarian of many other small shows including Mills Brothers now also only a memory. So many beloved friends – human and animal. 

Our first son is named for his grandfather.   John’s wife is Marina.  Serendipity!  Jomar lives on.