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JBK’s Diary – Sunday May 26 – Wednesday May 29th 1912

Sunday May 26th – Great day – fine weather. Finest day ever. Carey went over to Georgetown to sing but didn’t. Jack Brantly and I went canoeing. Fine time. River full of people. Supper at Curry’s. CE (Christian Education – I think) meeting led by Mrs. Cookman. Bed at 11.

Monday May 27th – Fine. Got up 6:30. Studied Logic. Took suit to be pressed. Busy at work. Quit at 4 pm. Came home and studied Logic – took exam. Missed 1 question. Fooled away the evening. Bed at 11. Took run and swim.

Tuesday May 28th – Fine weather. Rose 6:30. Carey and I went shopping at Woodward and Lothrop before work. Fairly busy day. Board meeting. Talked with Hank at noon. Picture with Leaders Corp’s  Harris & Ewing 5 pm. Went out to Henry Olson’s room, bought 3 camp blankets at 4005 14th Street. Hank & I went swimming. Started packing away stuff. Bed 11:45.

Wednesday May 29th – HOT. Packed up stuff. Busy at work. Did shopping at noon. Went out to Dom. Heights at 4:30 & saw Comley about Carpenter. Talked with Dean Wilbur til 7. Punch in Mizell’s room. Packed trunks. Marcy & Marshall came up and took swim. Bed at 11.

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Bryant Family of Washington DC

February 22, 2016 –

My father Bryant Kingsbury was born on May 30, 1932 in Bethesda, Maryland. His first name is his mother’s maiden name. His brother, born four years later, was given another family name as his first name – Preston- but has always gone by his middle name – Deane.

My grandmother, Katherine Gertrude Bryant, was the only daughter and first child of Herbert Sydney Bryant and Elizabeth Monica Preston. Kitty, as she was known, was born on October 27, 1902 in Washington DC. Her father Herbert Sydney Bryant was the youngest son of Levi Jesse Bryant and Ellen Sally. Although Levi and Ellen met and married in Wisconsin, they started their family in Washington, DC where they moved at the end of the American Civil War.

I’ve written about Levi Jesse Bryant losing his arm in the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1862. In September 2015 I visited the Chancellorsville Battlefield and with the help of a very knowledgeable ranger, was able to find the spot on the battle field where the Wisconsin 3rd Infantry came under intense fire on the last day of the battle. According to the ranger, that was most likely where Levi was wounded.

Levi and Ellen had four children – all born in Washington DC. Arthur Levi Bryant (1870-1933); Charles Fardon Bryant (1872-1920); Grace Bryant (Eynon) (1876 – 1943) and Herbert Sydney Bryant (1878-1950). After working in the War Department for a few years after the Civil War, Levi got his law degree from Columbiana College, which became George Washington University. His oldest son Arthur also became a lawyer.

In 1893, Arthur Bryant married Lizzie Habel, who’s mother was born in Germany but immigrated to New York just before Lizzie was born. Lizzie and her mother moved to Washington DC to live with Lizzie’s uncle Dr.George M. Kober after her father died. The 1910 census shows Lizzie, her husband Arthur and her mother, living with Dr. Kober. Dr. Kober was Dean of the Medical School at Georgetown University.

ArthurBryant.LizzieHabel.marriage.evestar.5.18.1893Here is their marriage announcement from the Washington Evening Star – May 18, 1893. Arthur and Lizzie took a long honeymoon and went to the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Arthur and Lizzie never had children. He died in 1933 and Lizzie lived the next 30 years as a widow, dying in April 1963.  From some family correspondence I know that she had a sizable estate and someone contested her will. That will be an interesting probate file to explore.

I haven’t been able to learn much about Charles Fardon Bryant. He was only 48 years old when he died and there was only a brief mention of his passing in the Washington newspapers.  Charles was a business man of some sort and I suspect he married well. Isabella Byrne, his wife, is sometimes mentioned in the Washington Post and Evening Star society pages. They had one son, Charles Byrn Bryant, born in 1900. He went to the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1919 to study engineering .

HerbertBryant.ElizabethPreson.marriage.evestar.9.10.1900Levi and Ellen’s two youngest children, Grace and Herbert, married within a month of each other in 1900.  Herbert married Elizabeth Monica Preston on Saturday September 8, 1900 at Epiphany Church, an Episcopal church in Washington DC. It seems they had a small ceremony.

GraceBryant.WilliamEynon.marriage.evestar.10.3.1900On October 2nd, Grace Bryant married William John Eynon at All Soul’s church, also in Washington DC, in a ceremony that got a bit more press. I was surprised to read that Grace was escorted by her brother Arthur Bryant. Why not her father Levi? Then I remembered that Levi’s obituary in 1920 mentioned that he was one of the District’s oldest residents and that he had been paralyzed for the last 20 years of his life. Perhaps Levi wasn’t physically able to walk his daughter down the aisle.

So there we have the new Bryant families to explore in a future post. I know that Herbert worked at the Smithsonian – which was known as the National Museum when he worked there. He began working as a clerk in 1907 and became the chief of the division of correspondence and records in 1918, a position he held until he retired in September 1948. He and his wife Elizabeth, who was known as Lala by her two grandsons, Bryant and Preston Deane, were active in community affairs, particularly in promoting and supporting the public schools in Manor Park, the NW neighborhood where they lived for most of their years together. After Bert died, Lala moved to New Brunswick New Jersey where there son, Herbert Preston Bryant, worked as a journalist. Neither Herbert nor his younger brother Deane, ever married.











Two Missing Children of Herbert and Annie Preston

Herbert Augustine Preston and his wife Annie Elizabeth McNabb (my great, great grandparents) married in Washington DC on 19 October 1869. I know they had seven children because in the 1920 census, Annie reports she had seven children but only five were still alive.  Hmmm… I found birth records for some of them but not all. I also found a short article in the Washington Evening Star about the death of their first-born daughter Mary Gertrude, who died of typhoid fever in 1878. But all of my searches over the past year were only coming up with six children – five girls and one boy.

This often happens when children are born and die between census years. This is why the 1920 census account of number of children born/number of children living is very helpful. It’s a lot easier to find something if you know what you’re looking for – or at least that what you’re looking for exists, even if you don’t know quite what it is.

The recent snowstorm kept me indoors and home from work for a few days so I had lots of time for my favorite genealogical activity -reading old newspapers. I also had access to the digitized version of the Washington Evening Star available from the Washington DC public library. The $20 I paid for a library card when I was there a few years ago was a great investment.

Since I had that rare commodity, time, I browsed through each of the  16,000+ records for “Preston.” Within an hour I found this bit of news from the Evening Star published on December 29, 1876:


So there was the missing child who also turns out to be the first son born to Herbert and Annie. From the gap in their children’s births (between Annie Beatrice born in 1872 and James David born in 1876), I surmised that the missing child was born around 1874. Unfortunately, this article doesn’t tell us much other than “little son” – not even his name, age or cause of death. But with a death date, the records on soon generated a “hint” from the Washington DC death and burial records for a Herbert Preston who died on December 28, 1876 at age 2. My guess is that his name was Herbert A. Preston, Jr.

As for the death of their first born child, Mary Gertrude, born in 1871, who also was born and died between census years, I found this article from the Washington Evening Star on June 1, 1878.


It seems that Mary Gertrude was at her grandfather’s house to avoid infecting the rest of the Preston children. I do wonder what is meant by “their interesting daughter.” I’ve seen various weddings described as “interesting” but I wonder what that means when used to describe a seven year old?

The Preston family of Washington DC has certainly captured my attention lately so you can expect to see more posts about them over the next few weeks.



Joseph B Kingsbury’s Summer of 1911

Joseph Bush Kingsbury circa 1910

In the summer of 1911, JBK was 21 years old and had just finished his first year of college in Washington DC. Although he was home for about a week in early July, he was back in Washington DC by July 21st. I know from his federal employment application (Standard Form 57) that from November 1910 to January 1916 (while in college) JBK was employed as a “typist; stenographer; executive clerk” at the Civil Service Commission and the US Department of Agriculture in Washington DC.

He often used short hand in some of his diaries. It often happens just when he was just about to write something juicy that I’d really love to know. His neat cursive handwriting transformed into a series of squiggles and dashes – ARHGGG… the dreaded, indecipherable short hand!

So here is JBK’s diary entry from July 21, 1911. I would love to know about the game Jenko.

Friday- July 21 – Another big day’s work. Came to work early and wrote letter. After supper went out to Woodhead’s Camp. Mizell and Reinhart also there. Swung the girls until storm came up. Played Up Jenko (?) in shack ‘till 10. Stayed with Mizell.

My husband suggested that “Jenko” might be the phonetic spelling of what we now know as Jengo – a popular game that consists of stacking wooden blocks and then removing them without causing the tower to topple over.

I also found this entry in the January 12, 2016 online version of Mental Floss in an article about games nobody plays anymore. I think Up Jenko was likely to be known in other places as Up Jenkins.

From JBK’s diary entries I’ve learned that in the early 20th century the work week included Saturday morning. So here’s what JBK did after his Friday night of “swinging the girls” at Camp Woodhead.

Saturday – July 22 – Took walk thru woods. Came in town early and got breakfast. Worked ‘til one o’clock. Started packing up (apparently the office where he worked was moving to a new building). Henry and I went over to see Senate vote on Reciprocity. Visited Senate office building – walked up Avenue. Band concert on the Ellipse from 6 to 7. Studied SS (Sunday School) lesson. Took bath, shaved and unpacked some more. Mason bought some ice cream, Olson, Allanson, Klause and Herbert came in. Talked ‘til 11:30.

I can picture the Senate Office building. I have no idea where Camp Woodhead was, but I can relate to the feeling of walking through the woods before returning to the city. I walked through the Ellipse (well actually around the Ellipse because of security measures) on a recent visit to Washington DC. The next time I do that I’ll be sure to imagine my 21 year old grandfather listening to a band concert there.


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Annie McNabb Preston – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Live Long

I have a lot of female ancestors on both sides of my family that lived into their 80s and 90s. I like to think that this bodes well for my chances of living a long productive life as well. Today’s post is about Annie McNabb Preston – my great great grandmother who was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 15, 1841.

Annie was the second child and second daughter born to James McNabb and Eliza Folk. The Census reports consistently list James’ birth place, as well as that of his mother and father, as Baltimore Maryland. The results are not as consistent for his wife Eliza, who is sometimes listed as being born in Pennsylvania and sometimes Virginia. I’ve yet to find their marriage record or birth records and Eliza Folk’s early life is a complete mystery.

In the 1850 census, 9-year old Ann McNabb is the second daughter in the home of James and Eliza McNabb, living in the 12th ward of Baltimore City. Her older sister Mary is 11 and the following younger siblings are also in the home: James (5); Kate (2), John (11 months). Interestingly, I find no other records or mention of John and the line with his name is hard to read so I’m not sure that name is correct. Later census reports don’t seem to have a child that is John’s age, so he may have died before the next Census. Also in the home is 26 year-old Frances McKew whose birthplace is listed as Ireland. Unfortunately it is impossible to tell from the Census whether she is a relative of James or Eliza or neither! Another mystery – they never end!

The McNabb family of Baltimore does not appear in the 1860 census but I’m not sure why since other records suggest they were still living in Baltimore. James McNabb appears on several IRS tax assessment lists for 1862-1863 and his son, James McNabb, Jr. enlists as a Sergeant in Company G of the 10th Maryland Infantry of the US Army on July 3, 1863, serves for about six months, then re-enlists in the 11th Maryland Infantry in early 1864. He was wounded in the Battle of Monocacy (in Maryland). It can’t be a coincidence that he enlisted on the day the battle of Gettysburg ended – or can it?

By the 1870 census, James and Eliza McNabb have moved to Washington DC and have the following children at home: James (26), Kate (18), Gertrude (15), Henry (13) and Charles (10). The McNabb family remained in DC for the rest of the 1800s. James McNabb died in 1894 and Eliza died in 1906. Several McNabbs are buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, James Jr. and Charles for sure, but Annie McNabb Preston is buried in Arlington Cemetery with her husband Herbert Augustus Preston (HAP) and their youngest daughter, Theodora C. Preston.

Part of my fascination with Annie is that she was a working woman in the early 1900s, which was probably not that common. She also had seven children of her own. I suspect she had to support her family after her husband’s sudden death in 1893 in his early 50s. I did find a record of her claiming a widow’s pension for HAP’s service in the Civil War but I doubt that would have provided for all that she needed.  Annie lived until 1930 and the 1910 Census, which lists her age as 69, lists her occupation as a government clerk for the Treasury Department.

Although I don’t know how Annie McNabb and Herbert Preston met, there is a wonderful account of their weddin in the National Republican dated October 20, 1869, a Wednesday, referring to the wedding taking place at 7:30 a.m. “yesterday” at Saint Patrick’s church. It was part of a morning nuptial mass and after a fairly detailed account of the ceremony, including the Bible passages that were read, the article ends with the following account of Annie’s wedding outfit:

“The bride was attired in a traveling dress of delicate dove colored poplin, with upper and lower skirt trimmed in pleated ruffles. A close fitting basque, gloves and veil of the same shade, and a beaver hat with a white gull, completed a dress at once tasteful and appropriate.”

With the exception of the Census report for 1920, when Annie McNabb is living in Boston Massachusetts with her younger daughter Theodora, Annie was always in DC. She died in August 1930 and her obituary reports that she was living in the Cordova Apartments, close to 20th and S Street NW in Washington DC. The 1930 Census lists her at that address with her daughter Theodora who was 46 and never married. Annie was about two months shy of her 90th birthday when she died.

She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in her husband Herbert Augustus Preston’s plot, along with their daughter Theodora.

Headstone for Herbert A Preston's Grave

Headstone for Herbert A Preston’s Grave

Together in the End

Together in the End