Jacob West was a mystery for me. He married Mary Zuver and they were the photographers I have typed about in previous entries. Searching Census records, I tried to figure out who Jacob’s parents were. I guessed, surmised, figured, planned and was wrong. In 1906 the government started keeping death records and Jacob had died in 1906.
I sent for Jacob’s death certificate and waited. Several weeks later the mailman delivered the much waited for death record. Ulrich West was the father of Jacob and his mother was Barnhart Ena Eyth. Both of his parents were born in Württemberg. They were married in Butler County and all of their children were born in Pennsylvania. Ulrich was a blacksmith and had died when kicked by a horse at the age of 82. Barnhart preceded him in death by several years.
More digging in the Census and I found that Jacob had 3 brothers and a sister that continued to live in the Butler County, Pennsylvania area. His brother Joseph moved into Pittsburgh and I found an article on him and his father with more details on the family.
On a previous trip north my mother and I searched the hillside graveyard for Jacob’s grave. With facts in hand, we stopped into the cemetery office to find the exact location of the grave. The office lady told us what graves it should be between and off of which side of the road to look. We scoured the hillside and could not find a grave stone. The newspaper article on Jacob’s death was very short and to the point, the first article stating he was ill and in the second that he was being buried.
From Census records I can tell that Jacob was a photographer up until 1880. Newspaper articles place Jacob working with photographers, Deltor and McLane up until late 1887. Photographers in Bradford teamed up and worked together, owning shops and combining talents before moving on to other partnerships.
Jacob’s son Roland was born in 1890 and died in 1896. The obituary referred to the services being held at the family home. By 1900 I find Jacob and Mary no longer living together or listed at the family home on Mechanic Street and Jacob has listed himself as an oil producer. Mary opened her own photography shop called Mrs. West’s about that same time. From all accounts she specialized in photographs of women and children and was well know for her photographer’s eye.
A trip to the courthouse revealed, after Jacob’s death from heart failure, an immense amount of debt left behind. He owed several tailors more than 300 dollars, which in today’s economy would be over 3,000 dollars. It took Mary 2 years to pay off the debt left with money made from the oil business he left behind. I have speculated that the reason for the break up of the marriage was Jacob’s interest in the oil business and Mary’s knowledge of what the oil business had done to her father’s finances in Butler.