Blogging Prompts, Cemeteries, Census, Friday's Faces From the Past, Montgomery Line, Research, Wilson

Friday’s Faces from the Past – Rita Blanche Walker

In Grandma and Grandpa Montgomery’s house there were two photographs that fascinated me from an early age and sparked my interest in family history. One was the family portrait of grandma’s mother Sophie with her parents and siblings. The one posted here was the other. I was intrigued by the perfectly smooth ringlets and the giant hair bow – no one in 1986 could get away with looking like that.

Grandma told me a little more about the photo, and I memorized every detail – the photo shows Grandma’s first cousin, Rita Blanche Walker, when she was twelve years old. I later pieced together more of Rita’s history – she was the daughter of Ross and Carolyne Blanch (Wilson) Walker and was born, according to the 1920 census, between 1912 and 1913 in Minnesota. Carolyne’s brother was Carl Ozro Wilson, Grandma’s father. In that census and in 1930, Rita and her parents were living in Grass Range, Montana; by 1930 Rita’s younger sister Jessie M., born about 1920, had joined the family. By 1940 Carolyne was recently widowed and now living in Polson, Montana, with both Rita and Jessie still at home.  Jessie, 19, is listed as a grocery sales clerk, and Rita, 27, as an English teacher earning $1200 yearly. She had completed three years of college.

Ross and Carolyne’s grave appears on the Find-a-Grave website, listed in Polson’s Lakeview Cemetery.  Rita’s history after 1940, however, remains a mystery. As for her photo, as well as that of Grandma’s mother and family? Both are safely here with me.

Blogging Prompts, Cemeteries, Hoffmann, Hoffmann Line, Research, Tombstone Tuesday

Tombstone Tuesday – Uncle Joe

Seven years ago Mom and I took one of our many genealogical side trips while visiting our Fairbury (Illinois) relatives. This side trip took us to Roanoke, Illinois, some forty miles west. I knew a large number of relatives were purportedly buried in Roanoke, and we found the Roanoke Cemetery fairly easily.  Wandering through the rows of graves we saw a lot of familiar surnames: Weyeneth, Fehr, Schumacher, Hodel, Zimmerman. But we couldn’t seem to find any of the really close connections we were looking for.

As luck would have it, it was mowing day, and an older gentleman was at work between the rows of graves. Neither Mom nor I are good at this sort of thing, but we ventured over. Perhaps he had seen “the look” before because he readily asked if he could help. I told him we were looking for some relatives’ graves but hadn’t been able to find them, and he asked who we were looking for.  A little hesitantly, I said, “Well, Joseph Hoffman…” Immediately he said, “Oh, Uncle Joe!” He went on to explain that there was a separate Apostolic Christian Cemetery near the church, farther out in the country, and told us how to get there. I never did figure out if he was really a cousin of sorts (this Joseph Hoffman was my great-great-grand-uncle, not to be confused with my grandfather Joseph Hoffmann), or if everyone in Roanoke knew our Joseph Hoffman as “Uncle Joe.”

Mom and I set off again, another 3 1/2 miles southwest. And here were all the names we had been looking for, Uncle Joe among them. Joseph Hoffman was born May 2, 1872 in Renaucourt, France, the youngest full brother of my great-great grandmother Catherine (Hoffmann) Swing, and a half-brother of my great-grandfather Paul Hoffmann. He emigrated to America with his family in 1883. On February 27, 1898 he married Lydia Hodel, six years his senior. Lydia died January 23, 1940 and is also buried in the Roanoke Apostolic Christian Cemetery. A year later Joseph married Lydia’s younger sister Emma; he was 68 and she was 60. Emma died September 17, 1957 and is buried in the same cemetery as well. Joseph himself lived to the age of 95, dying October 22, 1967 in Morton, Illinois, and being laid to rest near his two wives.

Joseph Hoffman

Roanoke (PNS) –Joseph Hoffman, 95, died at noon Sunday at the Rest-Mor Nursing Home, Morton, where he had lived for six years.

His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Remmert Funeral Home and at 10:30 a.m. at the Roanoke Apostolic Christian Church.

Burial will be in the church cemetery.

Visitation will be 2 to 5 p.m.; 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Mr. Hoffman was born May 2, 1872, in Alsace-Lorraine France, a son of Jacob and Annatte [sic] Meyers Hoffman. He married Lydia Hodel Feb. 27, 1898. She died Jan. 23, 1940. He then married Emma Hodel Feb. 23, 1941. She died Sept. 20, 1957.
Surviving are a brother, Sam, Cissna Park; and many nieces and nephews. Four brothers and nine sisters preceded him in death.

Mr. Hoffman was a member of the Apostolic Christian Church, where he served as a trustee and Sunday school teacher. He was a retired farmer and had lived in Roanoke for 71 years.

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

Wednesday’s Child – Baby Bateman

Here is another example of a bittersweet cemetery discovery. Infant Bateman was my first cousin twice removed but was unknown to me until a visit to the cemetery in Mansfield, Illinois last year. I don’t know much about this baby other that what I can glean from the tombstone – even the gender is not specified. Infant Bateman lived only three days  and was the fourth of five children of Joshua O. and Minnie (Walker) Bateman.

Minnie was born September 19, 1864 in Noble, Illinois; her older sister Laura Maud was my great-grandmother. Joshua O. Bateman was born June 13, 1861; he and Minnie were married February 4, 1885 in Richland County, Illinois. Other children born to Minnie and Joshua were Lora H., Roy Walker, Tessie, and Elsie Fern Bateman.

By the time of the family’s enumeration in the 1900 census, Infant Bateman had been resting in the Mansfield Cemetery for six years:

June 2 1900 Blue Ridge Twp., Piatt, Illinois
21 21 Bateman Joshua Head W M June 1861 38 M 15 Canada Eng Ireland Ireland 1866 34 Na Farmer
—Minnie Wife W F Sept 1864 35 M 15 5 4 Illinois Ohio Ohio
—Lora Daughter W F Sept 1887 12 S Illinois Canada E Illinois At School
—Roy W Son W M Mar 1889 11 S Illinois Canada E Illinois At School
—Tessa Daughter W F Apr 1891 9 S Illinois Canada E Illinois At School
—Elsie Daughter W F Apr 1896 4 S Illinois Canada E Illinois
Walker Orlando C B-in-law W M Feb 1875 25 S Illinois Ohio Ohio Farm Laborer
Henard Ashley [Asbury?] Servant W M Nov 1877 22 S Tennessee Tennessee Virginia Farm Laborer

Blogging Prompts, Cemeteries, Montgomery Line, Research, Sweeney, Those Places Thursday, Waters

Those Places Thursday – Pisgah, Illinois

There is nothing better than a genealogical pilgrimage. I try to squeeze in one (or several) any time I travel.  So what if it makes a trip hours (or days) longer than it would have been otherwise? Every summer we return to Fairbury, Illinois to visit relatives, and we usually manage to fit an extra side trip in there somewhere as well.  We made one such trip  four years ago to Pisgah, Illinois. Essentially a wide spot in the road and a grain elevator, Pisgah nevertheless was the location of genealogical events in the lives of 24 family members, including 21 burials. Union Baptist Church once stood near Pisgah and Highway 104. The church was torn down between 1971 and 1972, but the adjoining cemetery, founded in 1830, remains.

Among the 21 family members buried here are Joseph and Celah (Sweeney) Waters, my 5G-grandparents. According to the Find-a-Grave website, Joseph actually owned 80 acres adjacent to the cemetery, and descendants continue to live there.  Joseph, son of Isaac and Kitty (Hawker) Waters, was born January 4, 1773 in Montgomery County, Maryland. He married Celah Sweeney, daughter of Moses and Elizabeth (Johnson) Sweeney on November 27, 1798 in Stanford, Kentucky. Celah was born June 2, 1782 in Amherst County, Virginia. Joseph and Celah had some 15 children between 1799 and 1825, and both died in Morgan County, Illinois – Joseph on March 10, 1842, and Celah on September 18, 1845. Their daughter Cassandra (Waters) Murphy, my 4G-grandmother, is supposedly buried in this cemetery as well, though we did not succeed in finding her headstone on our pilgrimage. Maybe next time.

Blogging Prompts, Cemeteries, Death Certificates, Montgomery, Montgomery Line, Research, Roberg, Wednesday's Child, Wilson

Wednesday’s Child – the Second Wilson Loss

Recently I wrote about the death of my Grandma Montgomery’s older brother Anders Clarence. She was less than a year old when he died, so of course would have no memories of this particular loss. Tragedy struck again eight years later, and this loss Grandma would certainly remember.

In July 1917 Grandma was 8 1/2 years old. After the death of Anders, three more children had been born: Ozro Willie, born June 9, 1911; Pearl Jeanette, born November 15, 1912; and Clarence Salmer, born August 29, 1915. On July 21, 1917, another son was born to Carl Ozro and Sophie Christine (Roberg) Wilson in Wood, South Dakota. He was named Woodrow Wilson after the current president. Eventually four more children were added to the family: Mildred Genevieve, born April 16, 1919; Irene Sophie, born June 2, 1921; Maude Lucille, born June 23, 1923; and Lester Laverne, born June 11, 1925. Baby Woodrow, however, would live only two days. His death certificate lists his cause of death as “colick.”  He was buried in the Winner Cemetery in Winner, South Dakota. Many years later his parents were laid to rest beside him.

Blogging Prompts, Cemeteries, Montgomery Line, Research, Sweeney, Tombstone Tuesday

Tombstone Tuesday – Random Acts

There are many aspects of life in which one person’s actions can have an impact on strangers they will never meet.  Genealogy is no exception.  Moses Sweeney was my 6th-great-grandfather and the most distant relative whose grave I have seen in person. He was born in May 1734 in Antrim, (now Northern) Ireland. He migrated to America, apparently served in the Revolutionary War, and married Elizabeth Johnson about 1759 in Virginia. At some point he operated a mill on the Slate River in what is now Buckingham County, Virginia. In March 1787 Moses and his household moved from Virginia to Lincoln County, Kentucky. Moses died in the Hanging Fork Area of Lincoln County in June 1813.

This might have been the extent of my knowledge if it weren’t for two random acts. J. Harvey Sweeney, Jr., also a descendant of Moses Sweeney, painstakingly compiled the records of numerous other descendants into a 1224-page PDF file. After I purchased my own copy of the file on CD, I learned about the second random act. In 2003 Ben Johnson Sweeney of Liberty County, Kentucky, fulfilled the requirements for the rank of Eagle Scout by working to restore Moses Sweeney’s gravesite. As part of this project, a new fence was built to surround the gravesite in the middle of  a field of tall Kentucky bluegrass.

In 2009, as part of our annual Illinois pilgrimage, my parents and I took a side trip to Liberty County. Following J. Harvey Sweeney’s description and maps, we found the road along which Moses’s house once stood and where he had been buried.  And Ben Johnson Sweeney’s white picket fence was unmistakable; without that, we would never have found the tombstone itself. To J. Harvey and Ben, I am grateful.

Blogging Prompts, Cemeteries, Montgomery, Montgomery Line, Research, Simmons, Surname Saturday, Vital Statistics

Surname Saturday – the Simmons Brick Wall

Names are interesting. When I first started doing genealogy, I found it intriguing to realize how many surnames you “own” in your family tree. Sometimes the surnames become more and more familiar over time as more relatives are uncovered and researched.  Other times the connection to a surname is more tenuous – a link of one maternal ancestor, and then the proverbial brick wall.

My great-great-grandmother Belinda Simmons is one of these tenuous links.  Born May 14, 1838 in Cincinnati, she married John Montgomery on Christmas Day 1858 in Ohio. John and Belinda appear in the 1860 (Clark, Ohio) and 1870-1880 (Denver Township, Illinois) censuses with their growing family. Belinda died on Valentine’s Day 1908 and is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery in Olney, Illinois (in a grave my family and I failed to find on a field trip to Olney).

Belinda’s parentage, however, remains a mystery, as does her name itself.  Sources list her name variously as Malinda, Mary Ann, Mary Ann Belinda, Mary B., and Belinda. After much searching I did finally locate Belinda in the 1850 census, aged 12. The discovery, however, only provided half the story: apparently sometime before 1850 Belinda’s father had died, and her mother (Rachel – the half of the story the census revealed) had remarried a Charles Clark. Also in the household is Belinda’s younger brother Charles H. Simmons, aged 10. If Belinda had been born a little later, it might be easy enough to find a Rachel Simmons and her young children in an earlier census – but since census records prior to 1850 don’t list each individual in the household by name, it is trickier to confirm the identities of family members – especially when the head of household’s name remains unknown.

So…the search back in time continues…

John and Mary Montgomery Tombstone from Find-a-Grave

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Tombstone Tuesday – A Plethora of Greats

A few years back on one of our many genealogical field trips, Mom and I realized that she (and I) have seen all eight of her great-grandparents’ tombstones.  This is one definite advantage to having most of your relatives stay put in the same general vicinity after emigrating to America; all eight of these ancestors are laid to rest within a 150-mile radius, from Francesville, Indiana, to Washington, Illinois. Here they are in ahnentafel order:

Jacob Hoffmann
b. September 18, 1836 in Mackwiller, France
d. January 20, 1914 in Fairbury, Illinois
bur. Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury, Illinois
Christina (Schmidt) Hoffmann
b. March 30, 1850 in Butten, France
d. September 16, 1908 in Cissna Park, Illinois
bur. Cissna Park Cemetery, Cissna Park, Illinois
Samuel Slagel
b. November 30, 1849 in Wisconsin (?)
d. November 29, 1937 in Fairbury, Illinois
bur. Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury, Illinois
Mary/Maria (Demler) Slagel/Schlegel
b. January 17, 1855 in Baden, Germany
d. February 3, 1928 in Fairbury, Illinois
bur. Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury, Illinois
Albert Carl Swing
b. October 24, 1859 in Akron, Ohio
d. October 14, 1922 in Francesville, Indiana
Catherine (Hoffmann) Swing
b. February 2, 1862 in Remicourt, France
d. March 15, 1931 in Francesville, Indiana
Both bur. Roseland Cemetery, Francesville, Indiana
George John Hunkler b. September 20, 1862 in St. Gallen, Switzerland d. December 2, 1934 in Elmwood, Illinois Maria Elizabeth (Rusch) Hunkler b. December 25, 1859 in St. Gallen, Switzerland d. September 27, 1948 in El Paso, Illinois Both bur. Glendale Cemetery, Washington, Illinois

This means, of course, that I have visited the graves of 8 of my own great-great-grandparents.  My 8 paternal great-great-grandparents (and even my own 8 great-grandparents) are a little more widespread, but I’m making headway there as well.  Now  if only I could figure out where Lucinda Blanche (Davis) Wilson is buried…I might just have to plan another field trip.

Cemeteries, Demler, Hoffmann Line, Marriages, Research, Slagel, Vital Statistics

Vital Statistics – Marriage License of Samuel Schlegel and Mary Demler

Samuel Schlegel (Schlagel/Slagel), aged 26, wed Mary Demler, aged 20, on November 30, 1875.  They were married by John Georg Steidinger in Livingston County, Illinois.  Both Samuel and Mary were residents of Indian Grove Township in Livingston County.  The license to marry was granted November 27.

Various sources list Samuel’s birthplace as Wisconsin or Iowa; both of his parents were born in Switzerland. Mary Demler was born in Baden, Germany. The couple farmed in Livingston County and had four children. One, Samuel, died at age 4.  Their only daughter, Emma Alice, was my great-grandmother. About 1908 Samuel and Mary retired to 407 E Walnut Street, Fairbury, Illinois. Mary died of stomach cancer in 1928; Samuel of toxemia from chronic cystitis and chronic interstitial nephritis in 1937. Both are buried in Fairbury’s Graceland Cemetery.

 

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Wednesday’s Child – Virginia Schumacher

Another child of whose existence I was unaware before a cemetery visit is Virginia Schumacher, a first cousin twice removed.  The ninth child of John H. and Kathryn N. (Swing) Schumacher, she was born (April 27) and died in 1934. Kathryn’s older brother, Albert Carl Swing, was my great-grandfather.

I never met Aunt Katie myself, but my mother and grandmother, her great-niece and niece, stopped to see her in an assisted living home in Eureka, Illinois, in 1985. After dinner that evening Aunt Katie recited from memory a 10-minute poem she had learned in the fourth grade. She was 91 years old at the time and would live another decade. She was then laid to rest in the Apostolic Christian Cemetery in Roanoke, Illinois, near where her daughter had been buried six decades earlier.