Monday, July 26, 2021

The Innocent Hair Diary: Surname Change, Scalp Treatment Patents, & Scandals

Elsie Perry, KCK Hair Diary

Another Rabbit Hole

It seemed harmless - the 4 page diary with specific instructions of "Frederick Scalp Treatment." But that was the beginning of the Rabbit Hole. My intentions were to write a short post sharing this diary -  a 20-30minute blog post and call it quits. But, the a3Genealogy Code of Research - 3 Question Rule -  is ingrained  


What is the a3Genealogy Code of Research?

Simply, every document should provide the researcher with 3 questions - What is the document telling you?

For starters: 

  1. From whence did  Elsie Perry, Kansas City, Kansas, get this steam treatment instruction?
  2. Who was Frederick?
  3. Why did Frederick have a steam machine and what was the Frederick Vita?

Follow Me Down the Genealogical Rabbit Hole

Surname Change

So, as mentioned, it started out with "Look at Mrs. Perry’s Diary." But the seemingly endless road led me to all the rave of late 1920’s to 1930’s, information on the steam machine inventor, Ernest O. Frederics, from Kalthof-Iserlohn Germany, whose original surname was Speikerman. And yes, his name was Frederics, not Frederick.

1924 U.S. Passport, 423367, NY Supreme Court


Ernest Otto Frederics, born 25 Jul 1884, married Gertrude Hathaway, 14 Aug 1917 in Manhattan, NewYork. (1)  He was naturalized 7 Jan 1921.(2)

He was known worldwide for his "perfected" hair perm machine, hair products, and hair processing techniques.

The Scandal

This power couple had a rather public divorce. Ernest later remarried. But, what's a family story without scandal? 

The wrongful institutionalization of wife Gertrude in a well planned scheme to access her trust fund and dethrone her from E. Frederic Inc. by her ex husband and brother was covered by news outlets across the nation. Read article above "Ducks Asylum, Asks Who's Looney Now."  This scandal ended in a state Supreme Court intervention and involved detainment in California to hiding in New York.

The Perm Machine

This is a rare vintage 1930's Professional Ladies Hair Salon Perm machine. Frederics "Vita-Tonic- Waves," Hair Scalp Treatment Vaporizer, Mfg: E. Frederic's Inc. was one of 29 patents.

Image Source 

The Patents
With 29 patents there's much to learn through applications about Ernest Frederics.  

Image: Google Patents US1940451

Patent A45D2/34

African American Hair Too?

Next set of questions? I’m just starting with the basics here, but did this permanent treatment work on all hair types i.e.:“African American hair?” Why do I ask, you wonder. Because the diary was that of Elsie Perry, a black widow of a railroad man, Ernest Perry, of Kansas City, KS. And, we all know that textures of hair vary. I have not yet found any ads in the African American newspapers, but will research the KC Call newspaper and others later. Was the steam machine affordable? Where did one buy the products?


Now I know, even in the 60’s permanents were burning and destroying hair shafts and strands, so what was going on with the finger waves of the 1920’s pushed by Frederics?


For the Genealogists

There's always more to our ancestor’s story, so don’t forget the “history:"

Births, marriages, deaths, naturalizations, and passport dates are great timelines.  But the story was fleshed out through newspapers, court records, patent records, surname changes and Elsie Perry's diary pages.

(1) New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937, Marriage 1917 ; (image in author's files).

(2) New York County Supreme Court Naturalization Petition Index, 1907 - 1924; (image in author's files).

Note: Author was able to locate the family of Mrs. Perry and all original artifacts, photos and letters have been returned to the family. 

Kathleen Brandt

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Notations on Veteran's Military Medical History

a3Genealogy Question Bag 


I just saw a vision of 6/6 for my ancestor, WWI.  What does that mean?


Thanks for asking and submitting an image of what has been identified as a WWI UK Medical History document of your ancestor.  

In the USA, we all know that 20/20 vision without eyewear, suggests you have normal visual acuity measured at 20 feet. Yes, some say "perfect vision, but that is not what 20/20 vision is". Your visual acuity is the clarity or sharpness of your vision; not perfect vision. But I digress. Perhaps I'm a bit jealous having had to wear glasses since the age of 11.

Your question asked "What is 6/6 vision, as noted on [a] military record?"

The only difference between a note of 20/20 vision and 6/6 vision is the standard used for a particular location. In the UK 6/6 vision describes being able to see at 6 metres what an average person can see at 6 metres. Oh...that word would be spelled "meters" in the USA.

Comparatively, if you have 6/12 vision, what you see at 6 metres away, an average person can see from 12 metres away. Therefore you have below average vision. 

But that still leaves us with the question of why are there two systems? 

Metric System in America
Many erroneously tie the metric system to President Carter, but it was actually put into motion by President Nixon and, the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 was under President Ford. President Carter did not become a political-metric-system-player until his term that began in 1977.

Lebanon Daily News, Lebanon PA, 9 Sep 1971, (nationwide publicity)

Since the metric system did not take in America, we measure vision in feet. So as expected, the notation of 20/20 vision suggests one is capable of seeing at 20 feet what an average person can see at 20 feet.

Keep reading the details on these documents Dottie! And thanks again for the question. 

Be Historically Correct

Kathleen Brandt

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Juneteenth - Our Ancestors Knew

Celebrated Across the Nation
Due to the mass exodus of ex-slaves from the south, Juneteenth has been celebrated across the nation, not just in Texas.

Phoenix Tribune, 18 Jun 1921, Chronically America, LOC. 

Whereas the 1921 Race Riots of Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, OK have always been remembered as a day of mourning,  Emancipation Day, celebrated as Juneteenth, has always been a day of festivities for ex-slaves, their descendants, free-coloreds, and allied communities.

So after a week of repeated texts, calls, and emails a3Genealogy offers a rather standard answer to the question "Why didn't I know?" Our response basically states "Juneteenth is part of America's well-known history celebrated by ex-slave descendants.  Depending on one's cultural, social, and educational structure it may (or may not) have been taught in your schools." 

Why one did not know of it, is one of those phenomenon where history is magically erased. This is particularly the case, because our ancestors knew of it.  The following 1898 letter printed in the Atlanta Constitution, 15 May 1898, pg 16 is one early example.
The confusion was understandable.  The Emancipation Proclamation was signed 1 Jan 1863.  So why were the "negroes" celebrating on the 19th of June?  Easy answer.  Texan slaves, the last to know they were free,  did not get word that they had been free until two years later June 1865.  In business we call this a "slow roll-out."

White Allies in Communities Participated
"White visitors were invited to partake of dinner, and all accepting, were served in accordance with their supposed choice at a separate table. Harmony prevailed..."
As mentioned, this is America's history. This 29 Jun 1886 newspaper article recapping the Webberville festivities in the Austin American Statesman not only provides us with the going-ons  of early celebrations (nowadays it's usually bbq, speakers, and community gatherings); but the author clearly wanted to acknowledge the White attendees: "White visitors were invited to partake of dinner, and all accepting, were served in accordance with their supposed choice at a separate table. Harmony prevailed..."
Dallas Express, 7 Jun 1919,  pg 14

For further research, why not use contemporary newspapers articles about your area.  How did your ancestors acknowledge Juneteenth and celebrate the Emancipation of slaves since 1866? This 1893 Galveston Daily News article gives a sweeping overview of how emancipation was observed across Texas. (

Article Edited: Originally posted 19 Jun 2020
Happy Juneteenth. Stay pandemic safe and celebrate!
Kathleen Brandt

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Ancestors & Bankruptcy? 7 Great Genealogical Finds

Vermont Watchman and State Journal
Montpelier, Vermont, 
16 May 1842

What Can Bankruptcy Records Tell Us?
a3Genealogy attorney clients, corporate clients and even the media often have us digging into and copying bankruptcy records. What do they know that most genealogists overlook?  Bankruptcy records are filled with genealogical information, and they go back in time that can be quite useful in uncovering ancestors, their whereabouts, their secrets, and their heirs!

It was clear when the a3Genealogy research team was led to a full newspaper page of 1842 bankruptcy cases, that something had gone awry. Yes, the 1841 Act was in effect and obviously quite welcomed. It followed the Panic of 1837. 

Where to Begin
Start with understanding the applicable Bankruptcy Act. 

Bankruptcy practices are not new.  As Jake Ersland reminds us in his Prologue article, "By 1900, Congress had passed four separate bankruptcy laws - The Bankruptcy Acts of 1800, 1841, 1867, 1898.  Read: Using Bankruptcy Records for Genealogical, by Ersland.  

7 Great Finds 
  1. Names: family and associates
    Our ancestors often went into business with relatives. It's a great way to get a list of unknown persons and connect the dots.  This is why genealogy researchers use bankruptcy records also for communities. One bankruptcy can affect an entire community. It's a great way to understand roles in the family, the community and the industry. With one research project we were unable to unscramble a close family and associates. The names proffered by the bankruptcy docket and case file led us to a list of persons; mostly related. It also allowed us to do newspaper searches on the interested parties.  Ultimately, we were able to divide the correct father - son family units. 
  2. Addresses / Property

    After the Civil War, the 1867 Bankruptcy Act was used to recover financial losses across America.  It is through the use of this Act that we often can follow an elusive ancestor.  After bankruptcy, due to financial devastation caused by the war, many "picked up" their belongs and moved to more prosperous towns.  Bankruptcy papers may provide their new residence or relatives in another town. Or a connection through a testimony or deposition or witness that helps corroborate data. This may connect researchers to a the correct family unit.
  3.  Heirs
    Financial problems were known well before bankruptcy laws. Prior to these acts we followed bankers, Even so the notices were the same: in newspapers, and in the court records. It is in these records that we were able to learn of the son in law telling the story, the death of the business partner and the name his father - the ancestor of the client. 

  4.  Occupations 
  5.  Divorces
  6.  Court Records for Details
    It was through a Newspaper article that we realized that Morris was in trouble. It led us to the his bankruptcy infraction in 1923.  Perjury charges included family affidavits and testimonies, witnesses for and against Morris' character and information on his family life
  7. Reasons for Moving
    It's not often that our missing ancestor joined the Circus, but when named in a bankruptcy case, the descendants understand a lot more about his lifestyle and sudden disappearance. It's the story we've heard and it always begins with "and the Circus  came to town..."

Be Historically Correct  

Kathleen Brandt
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Sunday, May 2, 2021

Was Grandma a Feminist? shhh... Her Secret Life?


4 Resources to Researching The Heterodoxy
For the feminist of 1912  to abt. 1940, the badge of heterodoxy was hailed proudly in Greenwich Village. For the opposition, the "Heterodites "were destroying the “honor of the traditional women:" taking care of the family, cooking and cleaning; and being subservient to their mate.

Better said, they controversially encouraged women to think for themselves and find freedom by being economically, mentally and sexually independent. The Horror!

Many, but not all,  had come from progressive liberal schools, along the east coast.

Marie Jenny Howe, from  Cleveland, OH organized and founded Heterodoxy, a Greenwich Village group for women. A safe place to share and exchange thoughts and issues affecting it's members and women nationwide . Howe was an ordained, non-practicing Unitarian minister. Her only known stipulation for membership was that the applicant “not be orthodox in her opinion.” 

Women across the nation - activists, artists, writers, musicians, female professionals (i.e. doctors), “homemakers, aka wives, lesbians, and exhausted widows and divorcees, moved to or participated in the bohemian type lifestyle and freedom that Greenwich Village offered. Many joined the biweekly luncheons at Polly Halliday’s restaurant. Grace Nail Johnson, a New York African American elite, wife of Weldon Johnson,  was the only known African American woman who belonged to Heterodoxy. 

4 Tips to Researching Your Heterodoxy
After having raised her family - two sons and a daughter -  a 48 year old widowed moved from Massachusetts to a Greenwich Village address. She was settled in her small home by 1930 with an apparent roommate. Her story was quite curious to the a3Genealogy research team in 2012. One son had distanced himself from the family after “Father’s” death. The daughter, educated at Wellesley College in their home state of Massachusetts, frequented “Mother” in her small Greenwich Village home; the youngest son followed a “protest crowd” of his own. Notes and photos were located.  Following are 4 places to start your Greenwich Village ancestral research, even if she had lived in a sleepy midwestern town, before moving to New York City. 

Tip 1  Address
A single woman with a Greenwich Village address may tip off your genealogical research. Also these was neighborhood for that elusive artists - writer, actor, musician, etc.

Tip 2  Insane Wards, Jail and Prisons Records.
Be sure to check the insane wards. This feminine heterodoxy beliefs and practices landed many women, especially wives, in an institution for “reprogramming.”  

Heterodites Alice KimballAlison Turnbull HopkinsDoris Stevens, and Paula Jakobi were just a few arrested in 1917 and 1918 for suffrage protests. They served time in the Occoquan Workhouse, jail, or prison psychiatric wards. Your female ancestor may have also been an activists with a criminal record for her protests activities - suffrage, labor rights, birth control, etc. 

Tip 3  Diary.
Do you have a diary from your female ancestor? Many of these women were avid writers. 

They wrote to politicians, to each other and many kept diaries. The details of meetings were excluded, but personal diaries, by happenstance, may reference a name or two that may be quite telling. A reference to Polly’s Halliday's liberal tea house may also let you know that you are on the track of a progressive thinking ancestor.  .  

Tip 4 Photo Collections.

General Federation of Women's Club

Newspapers, libraries and local repositories have special collections and photos of the Heterodoxy and other Women Organizations. Photos and diaries of Jessie Tarbox Beals, should not be overlooked. Her diary and photos captured Greenwich Village and the Bohemian cultures. 

We used to call them "black sheep." Now I reference them as the "shapers and shakers" of America. 

 Be Historically Correct  

Kathleen Brandt
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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Our Ancestors Quilted...And The Quilts Were In Their Wills

Is Quilting Part of Your DNA - Which Marker?

There was no surprise that a 5 Generation Morris Family Quilt was made. Quilting was a past-time.  It was time to sit around the table with other quilters, in the home, after church on a quiet summer evening. But what happened to the quilts?

I can't encourage genealogical researchers enough to read the will, not just an abstract, to get an hint of their ancestor's hobbies and loves. In generations to come, descendants of Geraldine Strader will know she was a quilter. AND...she put a precious value on her quilts as they were included in the will along with their appraised values.  

Mom Strader's quilts were published probably because she was a Kansas City, Kansas known hand quilter, and her specialty was applique quilts.  They are as beautiful as it sounds. She began quilting when her husband died in 1994. She was already fifty years old. In her lifetime, over the last 25 years of life, she produced over 10 applique quilts, and 12 hand quilts and some fun beautiful machine quilted quilts (her early ones).   

She took Hawaiian applique classes in Hawaii of course. Why not? Her vacations were scheduled around quilt classes.  She gathered fabric from Gambia while visiting her dear friends Doris and husband George Haley, the USA Ambassador to the Republic of The Gambia. That quilt is not shown here, but it is awesome and will be featured in the book.  

Reading of the Will

Addendum to Will - "Quilts are to Never to Leave the Family"

In our family the loudest of arguments was over the quilts. Who will distribute?  Which one is for me?  I want that one? And then of course there were loud voices in the background. "She promised me a quilt."  No she didn't. She ONLY gave them to FAMILY.  Luckily most were distributed before death: sister, 1st cousin, etc.  Some first cousins didn't get theirs finished, but the fabric was named. The three grandsons were designated to receive earlier ones: "choose from those left"  (see #10 above).  

#7 Sample Quilt - Learning Patterns

The three living children each received one with fond memories - one with a story, one that took her 18 months to complete because she was a beginner doing a king size quilt while learning the different patterns (i.e. pinwhee, log cabin, etc). And all of them have perfect beautiful hand quilting stitching. 

Where Will They Land?

Like all descendants, ancestors can't plan enough.  Where do these treasures land in 3-4 generations?  Do you have your grandmother's quilt? I blogged about my first one from Grandma Kathleen: Grandma's Hands in 2010. It was made out of her polyester dresses, sewn only as Grandma could do. But I carried it to college, and it's still with me 40 plus years later.  Why? Because it's from Grandma. We all got one, all seven of her grandchildren, and no one messes with Grandma's quilt!

Today is National Quilting Day. Tell us about your family quilts.

Be Historically Correct
Kathleen Brandt
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