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.
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.
I love this picture. It was taken in June 2009 on one of our annual visits to see family in Fairbury, Illinois. We didn’t know it then, but it would also be our last visit with Aunt Alice. Along with trying to convince Dottie to drink cinnamon schnapps (I think), Aunt Alice also regaled us with stories of when they were young wives vacationing together. In particular I remember one story of a rainy day when both families were on vacation in Michigan. All the kids were outside playing in the rain, and Alice and Dottie decided they would bake a German chocolate cake. They could hardly wait for the cake to finish baking before they tasted it. And tasted a little bit more. And then more. And suddenly to their horror, the entire cake was gone except for a tiny sliver! Hastily they devoured the final sliver, then washed and put away the pan. Between them, the two sisters-in-law had eaten the entire thing. Hopefully the smell of the rain hid the smell of the missing German chocolate cake…
Because of religious restrictions, there are no photographs commemorating the wedding of my great-grandparents, Paul and Emma (Slagel) Hoffman. The picture above is the only known photograph that exists of Paul. A handful of photos of Emma from later years do exist, but Paul died in 1933, which was a tragic blow for the family.
There is, however, an account of their wedding in a local newspaper (possibly the Fairbury Blade), which marks the occasion.
Mr. Paul Hoffman and Miss Emma Slagle were united in marriage at the Amish church southeast of Fairbury, Sunday, December 7 . The ceremony was performed at 3 o’clock by Rev. Chris Garber in the presence of a large concourse of people. The bride is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Slagle, of south of Fairbury, and is a most estimable young lady. The groom is a resident of Cisna [sic] Park and a brother of Mrs. J. G. Swing, of this city. He is an industrious and energetic young man. They will reside on a farm south of Fairbury and their friends join us in wishing them success and happiness during life. A number of Fairbury people were present at the wedding.
Tucked inside Grandma Hoffmann’s recipe binder, amidst all the booklets from Kraft, Good Housekeeping, and Better Homes and Gardens, are a few hand-written recipes. One is for a recipe famous within the family: Aunt Leona’s Rhubarb Dessert. This particular recipe card was written out by Grandma Hoffmann and credited to her sister-in-law. I can imagine Grandma requesting the recipe and writing it out on one of many trips back to Fairbury, Illinois, from Idaho.
Not being a fan of rhubarb, I’ve never had this particular dessert, but I do know from two trips to Fairbury as a child that Aunt Leona was a marvelous cook. I remember the smell of yeasty, warm buttered rolls in particular, as well as a particular smell Aunt Leona’s house itself had. I’m not the only one to remember that smell, either – the house at 505 S. 4th Street was the scene of many childhood memories for my mother as well, as my great-grandmother and Aunt Leona, who never married, had lived there beginning around 1943. On occasion my own front door here in Virginia has given off that same distinctive odor – is it something about all the woodwork Aunt Leona had in her house? I have also learned that the family who lived in my house from about 1930-1960 had a large rhubarb patch in their backyard garden. Perhaps I ought to plant some…
Genealogy puts one in direct connection with times and places long gone. It can be interesting to look back and imagine oneself in a generation other than the current one. Where would I have been in, say, 1900?
None of my grandparents were alive yet in 1900; Grandpa Montgomery would be born the following year. His parents, Charles William and Laura Maud (Walker) Montgomery, were living in Holdrege, Nebraska (Grandpa’s birthplace) that year, with their other six children: Myrtle, Mamie, Bessie, Alta, Walter, and John (Ward). Charles was working as a butcher and was 39 years old; Laura, 37. The children were 16, 13, 11, 10, 2, and 7 months old. Charles and Laura had been married for 17 years.
Carl Wilson, father of Grandma Montgomery, turned 15 in 1900. In that year’s census he appears in Lincoln, Nebraska, a boarder and farm laborer in the home of Jonas and Maggie Misler (maybe…the handwriting is difficult to decipher).
It would be seven years before Carl would marry Sophie Roberg. Three years his senior, Sophie was also “working out” in 1900. She can be found in Shell Creek, Nebraska, a housekeeper in the household of Mons Knudson, a 43-year-old widower with six children between the ages of fourteen and two. His mother, 76 years old, lived in the household as well.
Paul Hoffmann, Grandpa Hoffmann’s father, was 22 years old in 1900, the eldest child still living at home on the farm in Fountain Creek, Illinois; he would marry two years later. Paul and his parents, Jacob (age 63) and Christine (age 50), are listed as having emigrated to America in 1883. Christine had given birth to 7 children, of whom 6 were still living. In addition to Paul, those still at home were Andrew, 16; Maggie, 11; Sammie, 8; and Louisa, 6. Paul and Andrew have “farm laborer” listed as their occupation; the other children were attending school.
Paul’s future wife, Emma Slagel, was 20 years old and living at home with her parents in Indian Grove Township, Livingston County, Illinois. Samuel Slagel, then 50, and Mary, 45, had been married for 24 years. Mary had given birth to 4 children, three still living (and all at home): Emma, along with brothers Daniel (22) and Joseph (18). Also living with them was Mary’s niece, Lena Demler, twelve years old.
In 1900, Grandma Hoffmann’s father was still using the old German spelling of his name. He appears as “Albert C Schwing,” in Ash Grove, Iroquois County, Illinois. Another farming family, his parents were Albert, Sr., age 40, and “Kathrine,” age 38. They had been married for 16 years, and Catherine had given birth to 10 children, all still living, and all still at home: Martha, 15; Charles, 14; Lena, 12; Albert C., 11; Soloma, 9; Joseph, 7; Katey, 6; Anna, 3; Harry, 2; and Paul, 3 months. A further three children would eventually be born to the family.
The final and youngest of these ancestors, Lena Hunkler, was seven years old and living in Washington, Illinois. Her parents, George J. (age 37) and Mary (age 40), had been married for 13 years, and George is listed as a farmer. All five children are at home: Bertha is 13 and listed as Berty (?). Matilda is 11; John G. is 8; “Lenie,” 7; and Hulda, 4. All but Hulda had attended school in the previous year.
Our Hoffmann emigrant ancestor, Jacob, appears in only two U.S. census records, having come to this country in 1883 and died in 1914. In 1900 Jacob appears in Fountain Creek Township, Iroquois County, Illinois. He had lived in this location for nine years, having purchased 160 acres 1/4 mile east and 1/4 mile north of Fountain Creek proper. This original farmhouse still stands; Jacob’s two youngest children, Samuel J. (born September 9, 1891) and Lucy (born July 1893) were born here.
June 2, 1900 Fountain Creek Twp., Livingston, Illinois 23 23 Hoffman Jacob Head W M Sept 1836 63 M 25 France France France 1883 17 Farmer —Christine Wife W F Mar 1850 50 M 25 7 6 France France France 1883 17 —Paul Son W M May 1878 22 S France France France 1883 17 No Farm Laborer —Andrew son W M May 1884 16 S Illinois France France Farm Laborer —Maggie Daughter W F Sept 1888 11 S Illinois France France at School —Sammie Son W M Sept 1891 6 S Illinois France France at School —Louisa Daughter W F July 1893 6 S Illinois France France at School
This census lists Lucy as “Louisa,” though Louise was in fact an older daughter who died in 1884. Louise accounts for the fact that Jacob’s wife Christine is listed as having given birth to seven children, six of whom are still living. His first wife, Annette, had given birth to a further ten.
On September 16, 1908, Christine Schmidt Hoffmann herself died:
Mrs. Jacob Huffman of near East Lynn, died Wednesday night after a lingering illness of several months. She will be buried this afternoon at the Amish cemetery.
Jacob then rented the Fountain Creek farm to his son Andy. Two years later, the 1910 census finds the widowed Jacob living with Lucy on 4th Street in Fairbury, Illinois:
April 21 1910 Fairbury City, Indian Grove Twp., Livingston, Illinois 4th St 18 18 Hoffman Jacob Head M W 74 Wd Ger German Ger German Ger German 1880 na English own income —Lucy Daughter F W 16 S Illinois Ger German Ger German English none
Some four years later, on January 20, 1914, Jacob died and was buried in Graceland Cemetery in Fairbury. It would be interesting to know how many of Fairbury’s current residents can claim a connection with Jacob.
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.
Saloma Bollinger, my 3G-grandmother, is bewildering. Was her name Saloma, Salina, Lalla, or Salome? Was she born September 22, 1821; September 22, 1822; or between 1823-1824? Was she born in Zurich or Schaffhausen, Switzerland; Kentucky; Germany; or Akron?
It seems most likely that she was named Saloma Bollinger and was born September 22, 1822 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. She appears to have emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, about 1848 with two brothers, a sister, and a brother-in-law (and possibly her parents). One brother was named Baldes and is said to have served in the Civil War.
What of the Bollinger surname? I have yet to identify who Saloma’s parents were, or any siblings other than Baldes (and even he is pretty murky). Ancestry.com provides the following: Swiss German: habitational name for someone from any of three places called Bollingen, in Schwyz, Württemberg, and Oldenburg, or from Bohlingen near Lake Constance (which is pronounced and was formerly written as Bollingen).
This doesn’t provide us with much. Fortunately, Saloma’s later years are more easily documented. By 1850 Saloma had moved to Akron, where she met Karl Schwing; they were married in Akron the following year. In 1860 Karl and Saloma (ages 46 and 36) were enumerated in Akron with children John, 9; Henry, 3; Albert, 1 (my great-great-grandfather); and an Elizabeth Raison, 20. Karl’s occupation is listed as tailor. Another son, Charles, had died in childhood.
In 1870 the family is still in Akron; “Charles Schwing” and “Soloma,” John, Henry, and Albert have been joined by Joseph, age 8.
By 1880 the family has moved to Chatsworth, Illinois: Charles Swing, 66; “Lalla” Swing, 58; Henry Swing, 23; Albert Swing, 20; and Joseph Swing, 18.
On August 14, 1880, the Chatsworth Plaindealer noted the following:
Mr. Swing formerly of Ackron [sic], Ohio, died at his home in this township Tuesday evening, aged 67 years. His funeral was attended Thursday.
Saloma’s son John had died earlier that year of “lung fever” at age 29. It seems that Salome spent the final 20 years of her life rotating between the Illinois farms of her three remaining sons, living at different times in the Chatsworth area, Cissna Park, and after 1888 in Fairbury with son Joseph. Saloma died in early 1900 and was buried in Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury.
Mrs. Saloma Swing died at the residence of her son Joseph Swing in this city Wednesday, January 7, aged 77 years, 4 months and 10 days. Saloma Bollinger was born in Switzerland September 22, 1822. She came to America with her parents in the spring of 1849. The family first located at Akron, Ohio. She was united in marriage to Carl Swing in 1851 at Akron and 24 years of her life were spent at that place. Five boys were born to them, three of whom are living: Henry Swing, at Lamar, Missouri; Albert at Cissna Park, Ill.; and Joseph the youngest at Fairbury. On first coming to Illinois the familiy located near Chatsworth where they lived for five years. It was in that place that she lost her husband, Mr. Swing dying August 10, 1889 [sic].
The family came to Fairbury in 1888 and she has since made her home in this city. She was a kind and affectionate mother and a loving wife. She was for many years a member of the German Apostolic Church and died in that faith. Besides her three children she leaves two brothers and many friends to mourn her death.
The funeral services will be held this afternoon in the German Apostolic Church of this city, and the remains will be laid to rest in the Fairbury cemetery.
It’s always interesting to follow one family (or all one’s related families) through each census in which they appear (I’m continuing that never-ending project on a nightly basis). It can also be interesting to look at all individuals who appear in census records in a particular location; this provides color to the history of these family members and how they may have interacted with one another.
Mansfield, Illinois, is one of those locations with many family connections. For years I labored under the delusion that it was in southern Illinois, closer to Olney. This delusion was based on the fact that my great-great-grandparents, John and Belinda (Simmons) Montgomery both died in Olney, and a number of their children were born there, then later died in Mansfield. It pays to look at a map – Mansfield is about 125 miles north. Coincidentally Mansfield is much closer to Fairbury, Illinois, home of a huge portion of my maternalrelatives, and the location of an annual summer pilgrimage.
The earliest Mansfield census record I have found thus far is that of Thomas Milton Montgomery, my great-grand-uncle, in 1910:
Village of Mansfield, Blue Ridge Twp., Piatt, Illinois May 3, 1910
Montgomery, Tom M. Head M W 45 M1 Illinois New Jersey Ohio yes Farmer Gen’l
” Frances Wife F W 38 M1 21 6 6 Illinois Indiana Ohio
” Fred M. Son M W 19 S Illinois Illinois Illinois
” Joshua O. Son M W 17 S Illinois Illinois Illinois
” Bertha L. Daughter F W 15 S Illinois Illinois Illinois
” Hattie M. Daughter F W 13 S Illinois Illinois Illinois
” Stella B. Daughter F W 15 S Illinois Illinois Illinois
” Tom M. Son M W 3 S Illinois Illinois Illinois
No others are enumerated in Mansfield itself in 1910; in 1920, only Fred Milton Montgomery, Thomas’s son, is enumerated there (Thomas himself is enumerated in Blue Ridge Township but not within Mansfield’s boundaries):
January [?] 7, 1920 Mansfield Village, Blue Ridge Twp., Piatt, Illinois
121 121 Montgomery, Fred head R M W 28 M yes yes Illinois Illinois Illinois Delivery [?] engineer grain elevator
—Hannah Wife F W 26 M yes yes Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky
—Raymond son M W 5 S Illinois Illinois Kentucky
—Mabel P. daughter F W 4 S Illinois Illinois Kentucky
In 1930, a large number of families appear in Mansfield. Of these, two family groups are not in the direct Montgomery line but the Walker line (my great-grandfather Charles William Montgomery married Laura Maud Walker): Joshua O. Bateman and Minnie Walker with their daughter Tessie; and their married daughter Lora, her husband John M. Davis and their family.
The remaining families were scattered in various locations around town; Thomas Milton again:
April 3, 1930 Mansfield Village, Blue Ridge Twp., Piatt, Illinois
65 65 Montgomery, Thomas M. Head O 1500 no M W 66 M 25 no yes Illinois Ohio Ohio 61 yes clerk Hardware Store
—Frances M. Wife-H V F W 59 M 18 no yes Illinois Indiana Ohio 61
—Onsley J. Son V M W 37 D [I think] 30 [crossed out] no yes Illinois Illinois Illinois 61 yes Electrician Ill. Power & Light Co. W.W.
—Thomas M. Son V M W 22 S no yes Illinois Illinois Illinois 61 yes Electrician Illinois Light and Power Co.
—Raymond L. Gr. son V M W 15 S yes yes Illinois Illinois Kentucky
Thomas Milton’s married daughter Hattie and family:
April 3 1930 Mansfield Village Piatt Illinois
62 62 Hannah John Head O 600 No M W 31 M 20 no yes Illinois Illinois Illinois 61 yes Drayman General Handling
—Hattie M Wife-H v F W 31 M 20 no yes Illinois Illinois Illinois
—Mildred P Daughter F W 10 S yes yes Illinois Illinois Illinois
—Arthur C Son M W 8 S yes Illinois Illinois Illinois
—Frances R Daughter F W 6 S yes Illinois Illinois Illinois
—Richard L Son M W 1 4/12 S no Illinois Illinois Illinois
Finally, Thomas Milton’s married daughter Bertha Lucinda, her husband Wren Cole Thomas, and their children:
April 4 1930 Mansfield Blue Ridge Piatt Illinois
135 135 Thomas Wren C Head O 1500 R No M W 34 M 23 No Yes Indiana Indiana Indiana 60 yes Proprietor Hardware Store WW
—Bertha L Wife-H v F W 34 M 23 no yes Illinois Illinois Illinois
—Willis H Son v M W 9 S yes Illinois Indiana Illinois
—Lyle M Son v M W 7 S yes Illinois Indiana Illinois
—Helen P Son v M W 3 9/12 S no Illinois Indiana Illinois
I’ve only found two families enumerated in Mansfield in 1940 thus far: Hattie (Montgomery) Hannah’s married daughter Mildred Pearl and her husband Joseph Edward Alvis; and, again, Wren Cole and Bertha (Montgomery) Thomas:
April 9 1940 Mansfield Piatt Illinois
78 R 10 no Alvis Joe Head M W 22 M No H2 Illinois Same Place Piatt Illinois Laborer Farm 52 360
—Mildred wife F W 20 M no H4 Illinois Same house Piatt Illinois
—JoAnn Daughter F W 1/12 S no Illinois Same house
Hannah Arthur brother-in-law M W 18 S no 8 Illinois Same house Piatt Illinois CCC Camp GW 28 250
—Frances sister-in-law F W 16 S no H1 Illinois Same house
April 15 1940 Blue Ridge Twp Mansfield Piatt Illinois
160 O 2000 No Thomas W C Head M W 45 M no 8 Indiana Same Place 48 Plumber own business 52
—Bertha Wife F W 45 M no 8 Illinois Same Place
—Willis Son M W 19 S no H4 Illinois Same Place 48 Assistant Plumber Father’s business 52
—Lyle Son M W 17 S yes H1 Illinois Same Place
—Helen Daughter F W 13 S yes 7 Illinois Same Place
—W. C. Jr. Son M W 8 S yes 4 Illinois Same Place
Genealogy finds much of its meaning in the links and connections between one generation and the next. Sometimes these links take the form of a repeated relationship such as that between a grandfather and grandchild. Other connections are found in dates commemorated from one year to the next.
Thirty years ago today, my maternal grandfather, Joseph Benjamin Hoffmann, died in Caldwell, Idaho. I remember certain things about Grandpa Hoffmann – his intentional mispronunciation of “pizza” (and how he would never eat it, or hot dogs, which at 9 years old I found bizarre). I remember him cooking steaks on the grill on the back patio, and how heat rose off the grill in blurry waves. My brother remembers Grandpa reaching down to massage his head with his hand while saying to him, “Crow lights on a fence post.”
One hundred years to the day before Grandpa died, on May 16, 1883,Grandpa’s own grandfather, Jacob Hoffmann, arrived in Philadelphia on the steamship Zeeland, bringing his family to America from Alsace-Lorraine and paving the way for a new life here. Jacob died in January 1914 when Grandpa was only six. One wonders what memories he had of his grandfather.
Grandpa Hoffmann now has a new namesake, my two-year-old nephew Benjamin. Benjamin and my father have their own special relationship. “Beepaw” is always in great demand when we visit, carting Benjamin around to look at the dining room light fixture and the “Iron Fireman” clock which used to hang at Hoffman Sheet Metal, the shop in Caldwell Grandpa started with his brother Lee. One day when Benjamin is a little older I’m sure his daddy will tell him about the great-grandfather for whom he was named and maybe demonstrate for him how a crow lights on a fence post.