Time to organize!

26 08 2008

Now that I no longer have school to worry about, I am getting back into the swing of things with the ol’ family history.  But before I start searching for new and exciting information, I have decided that I really need to find a way to organize my information.  A lot of the paperwork in my genealogy filing cabinet has slowly become a pile on top of a pile, with very little structure.  With that, I have decided the best way to organize the paper copies of documents that I have will be by individual.  Currently I just have folders for particular surnames in my family tree with a few exceptions for the few individuals who might have a larger selection of information available.  I also hope that in the near future I can get my recently acquired HP Officejet 7115 scanner/printer/fax up and running so I can simply scan all of these papers through the document feeder.  That way I can tool around with the digital versions and simply put all the originals away for my great-grandchildren to have to deal with.  I figure as I organize, I can share with whoever reads this blog (probably just me and my mom) the various documents that I have for the individual.

For my first installment, I am organizing my mother’s mother’s father, i.e. my great-grandfather, Ernest Ward Willetts:

Ernest Ward Willetts, May 1902

Ernest Ward Willetts was born September 20, 1897 to Jesse and Sarah Jane (Dunn) Willetts.  His birth certificate states that he was born at his parents residence at 20 Crawford Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Ernest was the eighth of nine children for Jesse and Sarah Willetts, who immigrated from Dudley, Worcestershire, England.  Ernest was found as an eight month old living with his family at 20 Crawford Street in Pittsburgh at the time of the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, taken June 3rd.  Twenty years later, at the time of the 1900 Census, Ernest is listed as a twenty year old student living with his father and three siblings at 1011 Bluff Street in Pittsburgh.  He was two years into his studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine.  After obtaining his M.D. in 1902, he spent two years – 1902-1903 and 1904-1905 – doing graduate work at the University of Vienna in Austria.  From 1903-1904 he interned at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.  I have even found the copy of his passport application dated August 7, 1902; likely in anticipation of his trip overseas for his graduate work.

On May 10, 1905 Ernest married Mary Anne Beattie at the home of Arthur and Agnes Tedcastle in Milton, Massachusetts.  In my vast and varied collection of family history ephemera, I have the original wedding service booklet that was read by the Minister, John Hopkins Denison.  It’s a nice little bound booklet with the scriptures that were read and the vows that they shared.  It’s a really nice peice of history to be able to know what they said to each other as they promised their lives to one another.  Here’s a picture of the home where they were wed:

Once married, Ernest settled into a long and well-established career in medicine.  The highlights of his accomplishments are:

Pathologist at the Pittsburgh Hospital, 1905-1907
Columbia Hospital, 1906-1909
Western Pennsylvania Hospital, 1906-1914
St. Francis Hospital, 1909-1911
Pittsburgh Eye and Ear Hospital, 1906-1924
Dixmont Hospital, 1908-1912

He also served as a medical consultant at St. Margaret’s Hospital, physician-in-chief at the Allegheny General Hospital, consultant at the Pittsburgh Eye and Ear Hospital, and was the Associate Pathologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School from 1910-1911.  He was a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, and was a member of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, American Medical Association, Association of American Bacteriologists, and Vice-president of the Medical Society for the State of Pennsylvania.  At one point in his career he also served as the President of the Allegheny County Medical Society and also as the President of the Pittsburgh Academy of Medicine.

He was also the author of several medical related studies that were academically recognized during his career.  Ernest wrote papers on tetanus, bacteria of rheumatic fever, and the Swift-Ellis treatment of cerebro-spinal syphilis.  Looking through my folders of family emphemera, I have a nice printed booklet written by Ernest W. Willetts, M.D. titled Blood Stream Infection, with an annotation at the bottom of the first page that states “Read before the Section on Medicine of The Medical Society of the State of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Session, October 5, 1932.  Reprinted from The Pennsylvania Medical Journal, February, 1933.”

Ernest and Annie Willetts had three children: Agnes Beville, born November 27, 1906, Ernest Ward Jr., born February 14, 1909, and Arthur Tedcastle, born August 20, 1910.

The Willetts family lived in a beautiful home located at 5101 Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh.  Sadly, the house is no longer there and is currently the home of McKean Honda.  It’s a shame, as the home was absolutely beautiful:

Ernest Ward Willetts died March 15, 1965 at his residence at the Cathedral Mansion Apartments, 4716 Ellsworth Avenue, in Oakland, a suburb of Pittsburgh.  He was 85 years old.  He died more than a decade before I was born, although my mother has many fond memories of “Pop”.  From the stories she has told me as well as the life that he led from the research I have done it appears he was just an intelligent, hard working man, father, husband, and grandfather.




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