Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christian Drager - Shoemaker

Christian Drager, my father's great grandfather, was born in Angerm√ľnde, a town in the province of Brandenburg in Germany. It is in the far east of the country being about 10 miles from the Polish border and about 45 miles from Berlin. When Christian was about 7 years old, he immigrated to the United States in 1867 with his parents, Charles Friederich Drager and Dorothea Louisa Streble, and five siblings: John, Charles, Marie Louise, August and Ferdinand.

By the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, the Drager family had settled in Casco, St. Clair County, Michigan, a small farming community about 40 miles northeast of Detroit. At this time, Christian was about 10 years old and was listed as "At School" under his occupation, but he and his siblings most certainly helped on the family farm.

By 1880, Christian was living in Armada, Macomb County, Michigan, a town about 16 miles to the northwest of Casco. He was a boarder with the James R. Dryer family. Mr. Dryer owned a boot and shoe store and Christian was working in the shoe store. Whether he was an apprentice at that point is not clear. Because he was nearly 20, he had probably either ended or was coming close to ending his apprenticeship.


1880 U.S. Federal Census showing Christian Drager working as a
shoemaker in Armada, Michigan.

Around 1883, Christian married Emma Amelia Hourtienne of Macomb County, Michigan. He and Emma had three children: Albert, Edward and Elsie. Christian and his family eventually moved to Detroit and by 1890, Christian was working for L.N. Valpey & Co., a prominent shoemaker in Detroit (Family lore tells that he made shoes specifically for handicapped people, but I haven't located any information at this point verifying this information).

1894 Advertisement for L.N. Valpey & Co. in Detroit, Michigan.
Note that the company does not extend credit in order to offer
customers better prices.


In May 1895, Christian married Mary Jasper and they had one child, Hildegard Clara Drager. He and his family made their home at 782 St. Aubin Street, where they shared their home with Herman and Helen Hamel. The Hamels made confections. In the 1896 Detroit Directory, Christian is listed as making confections, as well as being a shoemaker. It is possible that the Hamels learned confection-making from Christian and then took over the confection-making business as their own, because by the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, the Hamels are listed as confection makers, while Christian is listed as a shoemaker.

Success eventually came to Christian and by 1910, he and Mary had moved to 1585 Medbury Avenue, a home which they owned free, without mortgage. During this time, Christian also improved his standing in the community, becoming proprietor of a shoe shop.

By the time Christian reached age 60, he and Mary had moved back to Macomb County, Michigan and purchased a farm, again which they owned free, without mortgage. After retiring from shoemaking, Christian sold produce to the local market. Christian and Mary lived on the farm for a little over 10 years and Christian died of kidney complications on 10 Feb 1928.



Friday, December 3, 2010

Ancestor Approved Award


I received this award from Alice Keesey Mecoy, who has a wonderful blog about her great-great-great grandfather, John Brown, the famous abolitionist, as well as other members of the Brown family. Her blog can be seen here:


The award comes with homework : “list ten things I have learned about any of  my ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened me and to pass the award along to ten other blog writers whom I  feel are doing their ancestors proud.”

Many of these discoveries I have mentioned in the blog already, but for the sake of completing the "homework," I will mention them again.

1. Walter Rockey, Sr. served the United States in World War I. His service was never spoken about and it was by pure coincidence of research and seeing his grave for myself that I discovered the brave and heroic duty he completed for his country.
2. My husband's family, which ended up in Texas for several generations, is originally from Delaware.
3. I am amazed at how often proximity versus attraction/affection affected who our ancestors married.
4. My father's grandfather, William Russell Shaw, from Detroit, Michigan, disappears after the 1930 census - I can't wait for April 1, 2012.
5. I am thankful for thorough attention to detail in the obituaries of my family. Many brickwalls have been crumbled by a few key words in a final memorial.
6. Families didn't move as much as we think. My mother's family is all from Williams County, Ohio for several generations. It makes research so much easier (sometimes).
7. I am amazed at how little people know about their families. I am disappointed if a family line "dead-ends" in the 1800's; a co-worker of mine doesn't even know his grandparents' names.
8. Variations in name-spelling is one of the devilish parts of my research. The name "Rockey" could be: Rockey, Rocky, Roche, Rache, Rake...
9. I am humbled at the courage and resilence our ancestors possessed. I think it would be difficult to move too far from my family, yet our ancestors crossed oceans and left families thousands of miles behind. I know I will see my family again and can talk to them daily, but our ancestors left knowing they would never meet their families ever again.
10. Researching my family tree has helped me realize how I fit into the American experience. My family has played a major role in virtually every major period in American history - from the Salem Witch Trials to the immigration movement of the 1800's to Civil War.


Ten Blogs Making Ancestors Proud
The Educated Graveyard Rabbit - Sheri Fenley
The We Tree Genealogy Blog - Amy Coffin
A Linguist's Guide to Genealogy - Andrew Simpson
Creative Gene - Jasia

Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay - Dorene
Stueben County Indiana: Through The Years - Steuben County Public Library
Williams County, Ohio Genealogy - Pamela Pattison Lash
Gravestoned - pugbug
A Rootdigger
Genealogy Roots Blog - Joe Beine

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

South Carolina - 1931


Della Cora Hawkins and her son, George Douglas
Atkins in Spartanburg County, South Carolina,
1931.