#52Ancestors, Blogging Prompts, Montgomery Line, Research, Simmons, Vital Statistics

Branching Out: Fixing My Genealogical Mistakes

Nearly nine years ago (!) I published a blog post here about my Simmons brick wall. I talked about my great-great-grandmother Mary Ann Belinda Simmons‘s mysterious parentage, how I had discovered from the 1850 census that her unknown father had died and that her mother Rachel had remarried a Charles Clark, but that I was still trying to trace that branch back another generation.

In the intervening years I have broken down that brick wall and branched out further with my Simmons ancestry – but only after realizing how dangerous assumptions can be. Here is the 1850 census record where Belinda Simmons appears:

Simmons, Belinda. 1850 United States Federal Census; Dodson, Highland, Ohio. [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

The 1850 census does not identify the relationships among those in a given household (this question was not asked until the 1880 census), and censuses prior to 1850 list only the name of the head of household, so there wasn’t the option to find infants Belinda and Charles in 1840. What I had to go on was a household of adults and children with differing surnames, and for reasons which I no longer remember, I leapt to the conclusion that Belinda and Charles were the children of a remarried Rachel and her deceased Simmons husband.

Years later I happened to look again at Belinda’s Find a Grave memorial and found that a maternal link had been added – but to an Ann Simmons, not a Rachel Clark. My first inclination was to assume there was a mistake on the Find a Grave site, but I dug a little deeper and found additional records that disproved my earlier assumptions and led to a few new branches on the family tree.

Ann’s headstone, conveniently, lists her explicitly as “Consort of Samuel Simmons,” and shows that she died in April 1839 at the age of 21. I also found a marriage record1 for Charles Clark and Rachel Matthews dated November 29, 1844 in Hamilton County, Ohio. Thus it did seem that the parents of Belinda were Samuel Simmons and his deceased wife Ann, rather than Rachel and her deceased Simmons husband. But then who were Charles and Rachel (Matthews) Clark, in whose house Belinda and her brother Charles were living in 1850?

Ann Simmons Gravestone, Memorial ID 100946394, Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/100946394/ann-simmons.

None of the records I had found for Belinda named her parents, so I turned to Charles Simmons’s records instead. I found a death certificate2 for a Charles H. Simmons, born 26 April 1839 in Ohio who died of apoplexy on 6 September 1908 in Philadelphia. His parents, both born in Ohio, were Samuel R. Simmons and Mary A. Clark. So Mary A(nn) was also a Clark! Then finally I found a 30 July 1837 marriage record3 for a “Samuel B. Simmonds” and “Amil Clark,” further confirming this theory. According to Find a Grave and other sources, there also appears to have been a third Simmons child, Charles’s twin Samuel Benjamin, who was not living with Charles and Rachel in 1850. After this additional detective work, it seems plausible that upon Ann’s death, leaving three children under the age of two, her probable brother Charles and his wife Rachel took in their niece and nephew. I also noted Caleb and Mary Clark (ages 73 and 69) living next door to the family in 1850. It seems likely these could be the parents of Mary Ann and her brother Charles, and the grandparents of Belinda, Charles II, and Samuel.

More questions remain, of course. Various sources show Charles II’s birthdate as 26 April 1839 and Samuel’s as 24 April 1839. This would be strange enough, but especially when their mother’s headstone lists her date of death as 20 April 1839. There is obviously a discrepancy (or two) somewhere! My assumptions this time seem based on better evidence, but I still need further corroboration regarding all these connections. And then, as always in genealogy, the inevitable: can I trace this branch back even farther?


1 Marriage Record of Charles Clark and Rachel Matthews. Ohio, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1774-1993 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
2 Death Certificate of Charles H. Simmons. Pennsylvania, U.S., Death Certificates, 1906-1968 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data:Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1968. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
3 Marriage Record of Samuel B. Simmonds and Amil Clark. Ohio, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1774-1993 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. Original data:Marriage Records. Ohio Marriages. Various Ohio County Courthouses.

#52Ancestors, Blogging Prompts, Hoffmann Line, Research, Slagel

Curious: Killed in a Wagon Factory

For 2022, my goal is to post here weekly to share some of the interesting, tragic, and amusing stories I’ve discovered about ancestors and cousins on both sides of my family. In the past I’ve used both the 52 Ancestors prompts as well as the slew of prompts available at the Geneabloggers website, so we’ll see what will actually keep me blogging regularly this year.

Today’s post is inspired by this week’s 52 Ancestors prompt, “Curious.” I’ve always had a morbid streak (maybe it comes from growing up one alfalfa field away from a cemetery). I used to wander through said cemetery, jotting down tombstone inscriptions I found interesting. Usually “interesting” meant those where the deceased died at a young age, and, curious and wanting to learn more, I would drive down to the Caldwell Public Library (in Idaho at that time you could get a driver’s license at fourteen) and look up obituaries on microfilm. This same morbid curiosity continues now as part of my genealogical research. Thankfully there are now enough scanned newspapers available online that I am often able to find out how and why these ancestors and cousins met an untimely end, even when I am hundreds of miles away from a relevant public library.

One individual about whose death my curiosity was piqued was my second great-granduncle, Jacob “Jake” Slagel. The son of Samuel John Slegel (spellings of this surname are inconsistent) and his wife Mary Walty, and brother of my 2G-grandfather, Samuel Slagel, Jacob was born between 1850 and 1851 in Wisconsin. By 1856 Jacob’s parents had moved to Highland, Iowa; then by 1870 to Grove, Iowa. On October 7, 1877, in Livingston County, Illinois, where his brother Samuel had married two years before and would spend the rest of his life, Jacob married Katharina “Katie” Rapp. They would have a daughter Mary the following year, and a daughter Carrie two years after that. By that time the family was living in Morton, Illinois.

I knew Jacob had died young (though when I was 14, his age of 34 might not have made my list of “early deaths”), and scanned images of the Freeport [Illinois] Journal-Standard at Newspapers.com flesh out the story. Tragedy struck the Slagel family on 15 September1884 when Jacob and Katie had been married just shy of seven years. The newspaper article “Death in a Wagon Factory” tells us Jacob Slagel was an engineer manufacturing cider using a wagon factory’s steam machinery. The machinery’s boilers exploded violently, and then the remains of the factory caught fire and were completely destroyed. Jacob Slagel and “a boy named Briscler” died instantly, and two additional victims were thought to be buried in the building’s ashes. Several other individuals had suffered terrible injuries as well. The article states baldly that Jacob was to blame, as he allowed the boilers to run too low on water, then suddenly added cold water, “a mistake for which he paid with his life.”

I haven’t been able to identify the “boy named Briscler” any further, but one of the other severely-injured men was Christian Ackerman, who died three days later. According to the newspaper article, written while Mr. Ackerman’s life still hung in the balance, death most likely was a “merciful relief.” Even an article with this level of detail can’t satisfy all curiosity, however. Was Jacob supposed to be manufacturing cider in the factory and, if not, how serious was this infraction? What did happen to all the others injured in the incident, and to the families left behind by those who were killed? How did Katie cope with losing her husband and knowing that (apparently) he was responsible for his own death and those of several others?

I do know that nine years after Jacob’s death, Katie married William Voelpel, who had been born in Germany in 1842 (Katie had also been born in Germany). Katie died in 1910, and it appears that William Voelpel died in 1914. Both Katie and Jacob are buried in the Apostolic Christian Cemetery in Morton.

#52Ancestors, Blogging Prompts, Churches, Clarke, Kerrich, Montgomery Line, Research, Wilson

Longevity: the Kerrich Family

This week’s #52Ancestors prompt is “Longevity.” I’ve already written about Sophie (Roberg) Wilson, the only great-grandparent still alive when I was born, who lived to the age of 97. So instead, I’ll write about the branch of our tree that has been traced back the farthest: the Kerrich family.

If it weren’t for the original investigations of second cousin David Johnson, I might never have heard of the Kerriches, but he passed along a treasure trove of information that helped me get started on my research in earnest. Part of this treasure trove included many families that originated in Suffolk, along the east coast of England, then eventually moved to the New World and became associated with the Seventh Day Baptist Church. The Kerriches were one of these families.

William Kerrich, my 17G-grandfather, was born in Saxtead, England, in 1418. His son, also named William, was born in Saxtead around 1450, and his son, a third William, was born about 1480, again in Saxtead. Still in Saxtead, this William’s son, Robert, was born about 1505 and died in 1578 in Bedfield, Suffolk. Robert’s son (another William) was born about 1540, in Saxtead once more. Here we finally know the name of a Kerrich wife: Robert’s wife was named Margery.

William and Margery had a daughter, Rose, my 12G-grandmother. This is where the Kerrich name itself ends in my line. Rose’s husband, though, was Thomas Clarke, born in 1570 in another Suffolk village, Westhorpe. Most of Rose and Thomas’s numerous children emigrated to America. Joseph Clarke, our direct ancestor, was born in Westhorpe in 1618.  Joseph’s brother, John, was was part of the group responsible for the founding of Rhode Island and, later, with a group of dissenting leaders, the town of Newport; by 1639, Joseph had been admitted as an inhabitant of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Joseph was the only one of the Clarke brothers emigrating to America to leave children. His son Joseph, born in Westerly, Rhode Island in 1643, married Bethiah Hubbard, whose parents, Samuel and Tacy (Cooper) Hubbard, hailed from another Suffolk village, Mendlesham. Joseph and Bethiah’s daughter Judith was born in Newport in 1667, marrying John Maxson when she was twenty. Their daughter Elizabeth, born in Westerly in 1695, my 8G-grandmother, married John Davis in 1715. Here we finally link to a more familiar surname. John and Elizabeth’s 4G-granddaughter, Lucinda Blanche Davis, was the mother of Carl Ozro Wilson, who, in 1907, married Sophie Roberg, whom I would one day meet in her nursing home in Winner, South Dakota.

A few years ago Mom and I went on a pilgrimage of sorts to Suffolk, managing, in spite of the relative remoteness of some of the villages as well as a bus that forgot to drop us off in the correct place, to visit churches in Saxtead, Westhorpe, Mendlesham, and also Finningham, an early residence of the Clarkes. It was a little unreal to visit the churches where our direct ancestors lived so many centuries ago and where, it seems likely, they still rest in peace.

Blogging Prompts, Hoffmann Line, Immigration, Matrilineal Monday, Rusch

Matrilineal Monday – St. Gallen to El Paso

Maria Rusch

My great-great-grandmother, Maria Elizabeth Rusch, was born on Christmas 1859 in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Her parents were J. A. and Maria (Scheuerman) Rusch. In her early years Maria worked in one of the lace embroidery factories in St. Gallen.

Then on 3 March 1885, George John Hunkler, who had been born in St. Gallen on 20 September 1862 and emigrated to America in 1883, paid $19.78 (the equivalent of approximately $500, according to one inflation calculator):

for the passage of Miss Maria Rusch in the Steerage of one of the Steamers of the “RED STAR LINE” from ANTWERP to NEW YORK/PHILADELPHIA and for the Railroad Fare from Bassel Schweiz. to ANTWERP and from NEW YORK/PHILADELPHIA to Washington [Illinois]

Maria’s ticket was good for one year, and on 14 December 1886 in Peoria, Illinois, Maria and George were married by Gottlieb Traub, a Lutheran pastor. By 1900 the Hunklers had five children; the family was enumerated in Washington, Illinois in June of that year:

June 4 1900 Washington Twp Tazewell Illinois 
13 13 Hunkler George J Head W M Sept 1862 37 M 13 Switzerland Farmer 
—Mary Wife W F Dec 1859 40 M 13 5 5 Switzerland 
—Berely [Bertha] Daughter W F May 1887 13 S Switzerland 
—Matilda Daughter W F Oct 1888 11 S Switzerland 
—John G Son W M July 1891 8 S Switzerland  
—Lenie Daughter W F Dec 1892 7 S Switzerland 
—Huldy Daughter W F Feb 1896 4 S Switzerland 

“Lenie” was Lena, my great-grandmother. By 1910 only John and Hulda remained at home, and in 1920-1930 George and Maria are living alone in Elmwood, Illinois. George died in 1934, and in 1940 “Marie,” age 80, is enumerated living alone on Lilac Street in Elmwood. She would die 8 years later on 27 September 1948 in Dowell Nursing Home in El Paso, Illinois, of acute cardiac failure. She and George are buried in Glendale Cemetery in Washington, Illinois.

Blogging Prompts, Hoffmann Line, Obituaries, Sentimental Sunday, Swing

Sentimental Sunday -Grandma Hoffmann

Grandma Velma Marie (Swing) Hoffmann died nine years ago today at the age of ninety. Even after nearly a decade, she continues to play a role in the lives of those of us who knew her, sometimes quite literally, as on one Thanksgiving when, reaching to pull rolls out of the oven in preparation for sitting down at the dining room table spread with her dishes, I could inexplicably detect her scent.

One of Grandma’s books I inherited was her copy of the 1928 pioneer novel A Lantern in Her Hand. I can’t count the number of times I read this book while growing up (and afterward) but I remember most clearly seeing Grandma’s old copy sitting on the end table in the living room. This book and the story of Abbie Deal became entwined through the years with my thoughts about Grandma, but it was actually Abbie’s husband Will Deal who, before his untimely death, had told his wife that if he were to be taken from her, he would “go on with her, remembering…”


Beloved mother and grandmother, Velma M. Hoffmann was born Feb. 19, 1917, at Francesville, Ind. She died July 3, 2007, at Boise.

Velma was the daughter of Albert Carl and Lena (Hunkler) Swing, the second of three children. At the age of 2, she and her family moved to Elmwood, Ill., to live on her grandparents’ farm, then later moved to a farm south of the town of Wing, Ill., and then to a house in Wing. In the mid-1930s, Velma and her family moved to Forrest, Ill., where Velma attended high school. She graduated from Forrest Township High School as valedictorian of her senior class in 1933, at the age of 16. It was about this time that Velma met her future husband, Joseph Hoffmann of Fairbury, Ill., at a family gathering.

In February, 1934, Velma began working at the Corn Hog Assn. in Peoria, Ill., and in 1935, took her first trip to Idaho, along with her brother, future husband and several friends, all in a Model A Ford.

She married Joseph Hoffmann on March 12, 1938, at Peoria. She continued working for the Corn Hog Assn., then later worked at the Rock Island Arsenal where she was employed until 1940 when she and Joe moved to Idaho. They first lived in an 18-foot trailer parked below Canyon Hill, then moved to Boise where she worked for the Selective Service. In May 1942, they moved to Portland, Ore., where Joe worked in the shipyards as a welder. Their first daughter, Linda, was born in Portland. They returned to Idaho in 1943, first to a farm in Kuna and then to a farm outside Caldwell. At this time, their son Jay was born. In 1947, they moved into a house on Canyon Hill in Caldwell and while living here, Velma’s third and fourth children, daughters, Paula and Carla were born.

Velma assisted her husband in his business, Hoffman Sheet Metal, until Joe’s death in 1983. She was active in PTA in the Caldwell School District while her children were attending school there. Velma’s primary occupation was mother and homemaker, which were to her the most important and valuable jobs any person could have. The most important thing in her life was her family and her happiest times were when all her family joined together for holidays and special occasions. She was always a lover of children and of animals and in particular cherished the companionship of her last loving pet, a Siamese cat named Sam.

She was a member of the Grace Lutheran Church in Caldwell and greatly valued her membership in the church choir there.

She is survived by three daughters and their husbands, Linda and Ted Montgomery of Caldwell, Paula and Jim Johnson of Boise and Carla and Bill Oestreich of Eagle; a daughter-in-law, Nancy Hoffmann of Caldwell; four grandchildren, Matt Montgomery and wife Cheryl of Palmyra, VA, Mike Hoffmann and wife Erika of Redondo Beach, CA, Megan Montgomery of Waynesboro, VA and Cindy (Hoffmann) Crabtree and husband Aaron of Eagle and three great-grandchildren, Will, Leo and Owen Crabtree of Eagle.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Joe, her son, Jay, a brother and a sister.
The family would like to express their appreciation to the staff at Alterra and Ashley Manor for their kindness and their care. They would like to thank the members of St. Luke’s Hospice for all their support. In addition, they appreciate beyond measure, the continuing visits and ministries of Pastor Philip Bohlken of Grace Lutheran Church. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, July 9, at Grace Lutheran Church, 2700 S. Kimball, Caldwell. Friends may call Sunday from 1-4 p.m. at Flahiff Funeral Chapel, Caldwell.

Perhaps the most fitting words to describe Velma and her life are those of the Roman philosopher, Marcus Aurelius: “To live happily is an inward power of the soul.”

Blogging Prompts, Demler, Hoffmann Line, Obituaries, Sympathy Saturday

Sympathy Saturday – Mrs. Samuel Slagel

My great-great-grandmother, Mary (Demler) Slagel, has appeared in a number of posts here, but I had not yet posted her obituary:

MRS. SAMUEL SLAGEL.

Mrs. Samuel Slagel passed away at her home in this city [Fairbury, Illinois] last Friday morning [3 February, 1928] at 11:30 o’clock at the age of 73 years and 16 days.

Mary Demler was born in Baden, Germany, January 17, 1855. When nine years of age she came to this country, locating at Washington [Illinois]. In 1868 the family moved from Washington to Fairbury, and here on November 24, 1875, she was united in marriage to Samuel Slagel, who together with two children, Daniel and Mrs. Paul Hoffman, of near Fairbury, survive. There also survives one brother, August Demler, who lives in the state of Kansas.

The deceased was an excellent wife and mother and will be missed not only in the home but by many friends.

The funeral services were held at the Christian Apostolic church in this city Monday and interment was in Graceland Cemetery.

Mary Slagel Death Certificate

Other information about Mary’s death can be found on her death certificate. Signed by Dr. Henry C. Sauer, the certificate notes her cause of death as carcinoma of the stomach, from which she had suffered for two months. Myocarditis was a contributing factor as well.

Mary’s “home in this city,” according to her death certificate, was at 107 East Walnut Street. This 2075-square-foot home was built in 1895 and still stands.

Blogging Prompts, Death Certificates, Hoffmann Line, Research, Swing, Sympathy Saturday

Sympathy Saturday – Typhoid Fever

Albert Swing, Sr. Death Certificate

If one’s ancestors have to die, they may as well succumb to interesting diseases. Typhoid fever is one of those causes of death that has an antiquated ring to it. My only prior association with it was from reading the Catherine Marshall novel Christy. But apparently my great-great-grandfather, Albert Carl Swing, was one of its victims. Or was he really Albert Charles Swing, as indicated on his death certificate?  Hmm.

Albert died 10 days shy of his 63rd birthday in Francesville, Indiana. He had been born 24 October 1859 in Akron, Ohio, the son of Carl/Karl Schwing and Saloma Bollinger. The family appears in both the 1860 and 1870 censuses in Akron. In 1877 they moved to Livingston County, Illinois, where they appear in the 1880 census in Chatsworth. On 17 February 1884 in Fairbury, Illinois, Albert married Catherine Marie Hoffmann. Together they had 13 children, including my great-grandfather, Albert Carl Swing, Jr. In 1900 they appear in Ash Grove, Illinois, then in 1905 moved near Wolcott, Indiana. In the 1910 census they were enumerated in Salem, Indiana, then in 1920 in Hanging Grove, Indiana. Two years later Albert died. Albert was buried three days after his death, in the Francesville (Roseland) cemetery.

Albert and Catherine Swing

Typhoid or enteric fever is a specific infectious fever characterized mainly by its insidious onset, by a peculiar course of the temperature, by marked abdominal symptoms occurring in connection with a specific lesion of the bowels, by an eruption upon the skin, by its uncertain duration, and by a liability to relapses. This fever has received various names, such as gastric fever, abdominal typhus, infantile remittent fever, slow fever, nervous fever, pythogenic fever, etc. The name of ” typhoid ” was given by Louis in 1829, as a derivative from typhus. Until a comparatively recent period typhoid was not distinguished from typhus. For, although it had been noticed that the course of the disease and its morbid anatomy were different from those of ordinary cases of typhus, it was believed that they merely represented a variety of that malady. The distinction between the two diseases appears to have been first accurately made in 1836. [Britannica1911].

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Blogging Prompts, Hoffmann Line, Obituaries, Research, Sunday's Obituary, Swing

Sunday’s Obituary – Grandpa Swing

Albert Swing’s obituary from the 3 February 1969 Harlingen, Texas, Valley Morning Star

Great-grandpa Albert Swing was born 11 April 1889 in Cissna Park, Illinois, the fourth of thirteen children born to Albert Carl and Catherine Marie (Hoffmann) Swing. He was musical, buying a violin with the first money he earned working in the fields; in later years he called square dances.  On 18 June 1913, in Peoria, Illinois, he married Lena Agnes Hunkler. As noted in his obituary, Albert and Lena had three children. The family spent a number of years in Francesville, Indiana, moving between there and various locations in Illinois. In 1951 the couple moved to Harlingen, Texas, for Lena’s health. She died there in 1964. All his life Albert longed for the flat farmland of his youth; he would say that he wished he could have been buried in the cemetery in Francesville among the Indiana wheat fields. However, Albert’s final resting place is with Lena at Restlawn Cemetery in La Feria, Texas.

Blogging Prompts, Cemeteries, Cory, Montgomery Line, Research, Wednesday's Child

Wednesday’s Child – Little Ada Cory

Ada Cory, fourth cousin three times removed, was the daughter of James Manning and Elizabeth (Braly) Cory. Ada’s 3G-grandparenst were my 6G-grandparents, Joseph Cory and Mary Meeker. Ada was her parents’ first child, born 6 December 1864. Less than two years later Ada died, on 1 May 1866.  Following her death, James and Elizabeth had four more children:  George H., Frank, Mabel Hyde, and Henry M. The entire family is buried at Oak Hill Memorial Park in San Jose, California. If it weren’t for this burial, not much else would be known about Ada, as she lived and died in between two censuses. This makes her tombstone all the more poignant, from the “Little Ada” inscription, to the carved verse below, from Psalm 127:3 –

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord.”

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Blogging Prompts, Cemeteries, Davis, Montgomery Line, Research, Tombstone Tuesday, Wilson

Tombstone Tuesday – Knox to King

 

Pearl Ethel Wilson, my 2nd great aunt, was born 18 June 1892 in Creighton, Knox County, Nebraska.  She was the fifth child of six born to Wellington David and Lucinda Blanche (Davis) Wilson. Lucinda died, aged 35, when Pearl was only two years old. Her younger brother, then ten months old, was raised by his maternal aunt, while Pearl is found living with her maternal grandparents in Iowa in 1900.

By 1910 Pearl was 18 and living in Centerville, South Dakota. She was a boarder in the Turner Hotel run by Edward Mudie and his wife Jennie.

 

By 1920 Pearl had moved to Hobson, Montana.  There, boarding with the family of Floyd McCowan, Pearl was employed as a schoolteacher. About 1921 Pearl married Ray Edward Ramaker. Ray and Pearl had three children, all born in Montana:  Mary Jo, Shirley E., and Nancy R. By 1930 the family had moved to Missoula, Montana, where Ray worked as a dentist. The home at 315 Daly Avenue where they lived in 1930 still stands; it was valued at $6500 in 1930 and $5500 in 1940. It was assessed at $165,877 last year. In 1940 Pearl and her daughters were still living in the Daly Avenue home, while Ray was living in Seattle.

By 1946 when their youngest daughter graduated from high school, it appears the entire family had moved to Seattle’s King County. Here, on 18 December 1969, Ray died, followed a decade later by Pearl, on 16 March 1979. Both are buried in Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park, Seattle’s largest cemetery.

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