“Twins are so practical. It’s always nice to have a spare.”—Billie Burke

A quick glance around my family doesn’t reveal many multiple births, identical or otherwise. The statistical odds of having twins is 1 in 250 natural pregnancies. In my tree of 6358 people, I have 4183 children. A quick calculation suggests I should have 16.7 sets of twins. Let’s round it up to 17. Unfortunately, my software doesn’t provide a way to tease that information out of the file, so I don’t know if that’s right, or not.

I do know twins are definitely sprinkled throughout it, though. Often they disappear into the woodwork, due to one (or both) dying as infants or young children. Uncle Iggy’s (Ignatz Joseph Schweiger) twin sister, Clemence Mary, lived 5½ months. Anna Sophia Meintzer, the twin sister of my 2nd great-grandfather, Christian, survived only 2 months. My mom’s cousin, Florence Moeller Eberlein, lost both her twins. Those were just off the top of my head! I still run across unexpected twins as I track down details for families where I have names-only for the kids.

Yet sometimes twins achieved beyond expectations. They reached adulthood. They married other twins.

They all got divorced.

If that sounds like a bad made-for-TV movie, guess again. It happened on the Ohio Meintzer branch.

You met Henry George Meintzer (the head of this branch) in Poor Man. When he and his sweetheart couldn’t get permission to marry in Alsace, he emigrated to the Chicago area in an attempt to earn enough money for Sophie and the daughter he’d left her with, to come join him. Henry arrived1 in Baltimore in 1871, with mother and daughter coming some time after that. Henry & Sophia married in Northfield, Illinois, 1 October 1872.

They soon moved east, to Fremont, Ohio, along Lake Erie. Henry worked in a sawmill for a couple years, and then spent 9 years in a steel mill. His goal, it seemed, was to purchase farm land in Fulton County, Ohio. In the meantime, their family was growing, adding six more children (a 7th had lived only a short time). The last two additions were the twins: Harold and Arnold. My software sorts them alphabetically, but I don’t actually know which twin was born first, on 27 September 1886. I have not found birth records for them, but Harold was constently listed first in census records. While there are exceptions, mothers tend to list their children in birth order, so a case could be made for Harold being the elder twin.

There’s a bit of a variation on their birth year across various records, but 1886 seems the best bet. “September 1886” was recorded on the 1900 census2, the record closest to their births, and both3 boys4 used 27 September 1886 on their WWI draft registrations. Their ages were off by a year on their marriage licenses, as was Harold’s death certificate. Ironically, that information was provided by Arnold! During stressful times, our math skills sometimes fail.

This branch of the family put together a nicely done web page, with a good number of old photos. This link will take you there. Just scroll down a bit to see a family portrait when the twins were young (age 5 or 6?). The one immediately below was taken some time before Harold’s death in 1920.

MEANWHILE, the Conklin family moved in nearby. In 1900, 4 census pages after the Meintzer family, Edward Conklin5 was also farming. His wife, Fietta (“Etta”) was the schoolteacher. Their twins, Elda and Elna, were nine years old, the 2nd and 3rd of their five children. Again, I have not seen their birth records, but Elda was listed first in the 1900 census. Make of that what you will.

The two sets of twins applied for their marriage licenses together, and participated in a double-wedding on 20 October 1909. The newspaper article seemed to have mixed the couples up, saying Harold married Elda and Arnold married Elna, but their marriage records presumably had it right (see those links).

Four months later, when the 1910 census enumerator came through the area, the married twins were listed in the household of Henry & Sophia Meintzer—the parents/in-laws. I can only imagine how cozy that was! The enumerator listed both sons, first, followed by the daughters-in-law, but drew helpful lines connecting each husband to his proper wife! He got it right.

1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Ohio, Fulton, Swan Creek Township, e.d. 16; Page 2B; dwelling number 53; family number 53; line 91; Henry MEINTZER household; accessed 2 March 2021. Arnold MEINTZER, age 23; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1184; digital image, (

So, what happened to the love birds? Well, it would seem, not much that was good.

24 March 1916, Fulton County Tribune; Wauseon, Ohio; page 7.

On 18 March 1916, the brothers filed divorce papers on their respective wives. The initial notice was pretty terse:

19 May 1916, Fulton County Tribune; Wauseon, Ohio; page 1.

Two months later, their divorces were granted, with additional details that the wives had left them three years earlier:

1 June 1916, The Selma [California] Enterprise; Selma, California; p. 2

The local paper kept the details pretty basic, but the story stretched far beyond rural Ohio—even as far as the west coast! This California paper told us when the wives first left:

Obviously, someone wasn’t happy.

Once the news wire got wind of the story, someone decided to get creative:

A Symphony in Twins

Arnold and Harold Meintzer of Wauseon, O., twins, who married twins and no doubt slept in twin beds, are now suing for twin divorces on the grounds of twin desertions.

12 June 1916, 2:30 Edition, Chronicling America:  America’s Historic Newspapers : accessed 2 March 2021, record number: [number]; citing original p. 1, col. 7, para. last, entry for Arnold and Harold MEINTZER, Star-Bulletin, Honolulu, Hawaii, online archive (

That version of the story was published everywhere. Honolulu, when Hawaii was only a territory. Norwich, Connecticut. Topeka, Kansas. Those were just the papers on the Chronicling America site!

So what became of the twins after the divorces?

The brothers lived at home. When registering for the WWI draft, they listed themselves as single, though the 1920 census showed them as divorced. That was the only instance I saw, though. Harold died from influenza a month after the family was enumerated on the 1920 census.

Arnold enlisted in the army 27 August 1918, and was honorably discharged 21 December 1918. As far as I can tell, he never remarried. He lived to the age of 89, dying due to injuries sustained when he and his bike were run off the road. He was on his way to visit his sister, Regina, who was over 100 at the time.

And the girls? In 1916, Elna was using her married surname and had moved to Toledo, working as a machine operator in the Urschel-Bates Valve Bag Company. The divorce hadn’t occurred, yet. By the 1920 census, both girls had returned to their maiden names, and were living in Monroe County, Michigan. They had moved in with their mother and her 2nd husband and were working as machinists in a sack factory. Monroe County, Michigan is just across the state line from Toledo, so it’s possible they were still working in the same factory Elna had worked in, before. The sisters listed themselves as single, not divorced.

Elna died in 1925, from a heart valve problem. Elda remarried on 2 June 1920, to an Andrew P. Stokey, near Toledo, Ohio. It appears she had two daughters, and lived to the age of 84.

Even if the couples hadn’t divorced, neither marriage would have been particularly long-lived, with the two early deaths.

So, how were Arnold and Harold related to me? They were 2nd cousins, twice removed, or full 2nd cousins to my grandfather—sharing the same great-grandparents.

Now that my interest has been piqued, I may just start a running list of twins in the family. I can add to it as I run across additional pairs. Who knows when I’ll need to know who they were!


1“Baltimore, Passenger Lists, 1820-1964”, database, (, citing Records of The US Customs Service; Record Group 36; NAI # 2655153; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; RG85; specifically Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland, 1820-1891, NARA Microfilm Publication M255, RG36. 50 rolls; Roll #19. National Archives, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. Entry for . Heinr. MAINTZER, accessed 2 March 2021. SS Baltimore, p. 3, line 118.

21900 U.S. census, population schedule, Ohio, Fulton, Swan Creek Township, e.d. 13; Pages 12A. 12B; dwelling number 267; family number 271; line 49; Henry MEINTZER household; accessed 2 March 2021. Henry Meintzer, age 52; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1270; digital image, (

3“U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (, Arnold MEINTZER, serial no. 997, order no. 16, Fulton County, Ohio; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 5,256,062; accessed 2 March 2021. Registered 5 June 1917.

4“U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (, Harold MEINTZER, serial no. 996, order no. 15, Fulton County, Ohio; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 5,256,062; accessed 2 March 2021. Registered 5 June 1917.

51900 U.S. census, population schedule, Ohio, Fulton, Swan Creek Township, e.d. 13; Pages 14A. 12B; dwelling number 307; family number 312; line 10; Edward CONKLIN household; accessed 2 March 2021. Edward CONKLIN, age 33; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1270; digital image, (


“Electricity is really just organized lightning.”—George Carlin

Anyone who spends any amount of in or around my kitchen (or any kitchen I happen to be in) has a 50-50 chance of hearing me refer to the tall appliance that keeps food cold as an icebox. It is not an icebox, however. It plugs into the wall, runs on electricity, and is a refrigerator.

I know the difference between the two, and I’ve never used an icebox in my life. But I grew up hearing “icebox” so it’s firmly ingrained in my head. It’s as natural as breathing.

Then, of course, there’s “Icebox Cake.” Calling it “Refrigerator Cake” would be wrong in so many ways!

Squirreled away in my Meintzer genealogy folders is a newspaper article from 2001, talking about appliances or tools that didn’t used to be common, but now are. My mom cut it out, and next to the box talking about refrigerators, she stuck a post-it note (something else that probably should have been on that list!), where she wrote:

“I was 16 years old when we got our first refrigerator. Up until then we had an ice box. And the ice for it was delivered in a horse and buggy. I think Louie, the ice man, used to give us kids ice chips from the back of the wagon.

Ardyth Meintzer Haws, handwritten note from spring, 2001

That meant my grandmother did not have a refrigerator until 1938! While my mom didn’t write it down, I remember her saying they had a cardboard square (examples) they would put in the front window if they needed ice. It had a different number written along each edge—25, 50, 75, or 100—and her mother would turn it so the ice man would know how many pounds to bring up to the house.

It was an efficient system. Housewives didn’t have to keep checking the road to see if he was coming, or try to flag him down—or try to get him to come back if he drove past! He didn’t have to waste time walking up to the door, then back to the wagon, and back with the ice. Only one number (the one along the top edge) would read correctly, so he immediately knew what each house needed. No sign? Pass up that house that day.

Aside from the icebox being replaced by an electric powered appliance, a smaller appliance of my grandmother’s also was electrified.

My mom had a table lamp given to her parents as a wedding present 27 September 1913. It was oil or kerosene, but was converted later. The photo doesn’t show all the design, but there’s a duck taking off on the left side of the base, and I think a stag over on the right, as well as on the glass shade.

The shade had a triangular-shaped piece that was broken and glued back in place. Mom always turned the lamp so that was at the back, and less noticeable. The shade curves out past the lower edge of the shade, so maybe it got pushed into a wall, causing the break? Mom also said the lamp originally had fringe along the bottom edge of the shade, but it was long gone before I ever saw it.

Wedding present to Minnie Moeller and Christoph Meintzer, 27 September 1913. I don’t know who it was from. The lamp originally was a kerosene or oil lamp, and was electrified later. You can just make out the knob to raise and lower the wick on the right side. It is perched on the end table made by my dad’s father.

I don’t know what kind of fringe it was. Beaded fringe was popular, or perhaps a corded fringe? I’ve also seen photos with crystal shards, but that doesn’t seem to be the right look for this style. Unfortunately, the only photos of their home at that time were the kitchen ones from a couple weeks ago—we have no photos of their living room or bedroom, so don’t know what this looked like in its original state.

The lamp currently lives at my brother’s house, parked on the antique Singer sewing table that belonged to my sister-in-law’s grandmother. It’s rather a nice pairing. I’m glad we found a home for it, because it seems to be somewhat unique. When I was looking for lamps with fringe, I did not see anything even close to this. I’m glad Grandma decided to convert it, instead of just buying a new one, and disposing of this one.


Unusual Source

If you don’t look, you’ll never find it . . .

About ten years ago, it must have been a slow day, or I was looking for an excuse to put off some other task. I decided to run a Google search to see what would turn up. We all know that is not the best approach to research our ancestors. Random wandering around Google is haphazard and inefficient. It’s the genealogical equivalent of playing a slot machine. We keep plugging in search term variations, hoping one of them will pay off. They seldom do, yet we regularly repeat the ritual. Why?

Because once in a while we hit a payday.

So that particular day ten years ago, I decided to search for “Sylvester J. Hartman[n] CPPS.” If you remember, I have a 2nd great-grandmother, Marianne Hartmann, and Sylvester was related to her in some way, though I’ve yet to find the specific connection. He had taught at my college, so I knew the basics about him. In the late 1930s, he’d provided an extensive ancestor tree to my grandmother’s (Victoria Schweiger Haws) younger brother, also a Sylvester. Fr. Hartman[n] even snagged his own blog post last year. Despite the details I tracked down and included in that post, I left out a tidbit I learned from my wanderings the previous decade.

I had found Fr. Hartman[n] named in several memorial lists online. One was for his religious order, The Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Their full Latin name is “Congregatio Missionariorum Pretiosissimi Sanguinis Domini Nostri Jesu Christi,” which translates to “The Congregation of Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” English or Latin, it’s quite a mouthful, which is why it gets shortened. Its post-nominal initials (C.PP.S.—and yes, there are only 3 periods, despite having 4 initials!) led most students to refer to them collectively as “Seeps”. Of course, we never did that in their presence!

St. Joseph’s College faculty in 1934. Fr. Hartman is in the front row, 3rd from the right.

Another memorial list was produced by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. I’m not sure why he was included on their list, because Rensselaer was part of the Lafayette Diocese. Both lists provided his death date, which I already had, so weren’t terribly useful.

Then I ran across an alumni newsletter for the former seminary students of the schools administered by the order:

  • Brunnerdale [high school] Seminary, in Canton, Ohio
  • St. Joseph’s College, in Rensselaer, Indiana
  • St. Charles Seminary, in Carthagena, Ohio (for final theological formation)

SIDE NOTE: Fr. Hartman started out with a double-N at the end of his name. Around the turn of the 20th century, he dropped one of them. I left the 2nd one in square brackets at the beginning of this blog, but have swiched to just the single N to reflect how he chose to spell it later in life. I don’t want anyone thinking I was just being careless with spelling!

Back to the alumni newsletter. It wasn’t just for those who had become priests—seminarians who ultimately did not enter the priesthood appeared to still be welcome. I found Fr. Hartman’s name mentioned in a piece reminiscing about college days, the assorted priests and seminarians, and their escapades. The writer recalled how he and his friends would lay in wait for Fr. Hartman, to see his “new hair for the year.” It made me chuckle. It did not, however, have any “genealogical value,” so I moved on.

I didn’t take a screen shot. I didn’t record the web address, or any other details about the website it was on. Nothing. I was young (only in my 50s) and foolish. At the time I was so intent on gathering “facts” I didn’t appreciate the importance of capturing details about the person.

A bit wiser now, I tried to find it again. It was not so easy, but finally I located a newsletter1 that seemed to fit the bill:

Back then, one of our annual rituals was to crowd around the covered walkway from the chapel to Xavier Hall the first day of classes after New Year’s Day. It was the day our beloved Greek teacher and spiritual director, Fr. Sylvester Hartman, would proceed down the runway in his new hair for the year. We never knew if he knew why we were there, but we applauded and he smiled, waving with his wonderful greeting, “Gwon, gwon to the priesthood.”

AMICI newsletter1: page 9, column 2, last paragraph

It sounded like the bit I’d remembered reading. Continued searching didn’t turn up anything else, so I assume that was it. I consider myself lucky to have found it again after a decade! It could have easily fallen off the web, if someone decided to shut down the website hosting the the newsletter. Even the Wayback Machine (Internet Archive) couldn’t have helped if that were the case, since I didn’t record the web address the first time around.

There’s still no genealogical value to that brief paragraph, but a little sleuthing helped put it in context. The author, Richard Mickley, graduated from St. Joe in the class of 1952 (Saint Joseph’s College Alumni Directory 2001). I found a 1946 WWII draft registration2 for him as an 18-year-old living on campus. In January, 1950, Fr. Hartman moved to Canton, teaching Latin at Brunnerdale Seminary, so it would have been Januarys of 1947-1949 that Richard remembered.

I also learned Xavier Hall had different uses through the years. When I was there, it housed various offices: Financial Aid, the on-campus bank branch, and some of the mathematics classrooms. When Fr. Hartman was there, it was the residence hall for the seminary students. And as spirtual director, it was likely Fr. Hartman might have lived there, too.

Reading it now, with wiser eyes, I can deduce several things:

  • The boys on campus liked him. I’m reasonably sure he wasn’t their “beloved Greek teacher” because they loved learning Greek! More likely they liked him, which made Greek class tolerable.
  • He generally liked students. That’s apparent from his reaction and comment. Also, you don’t assign someone as spiritual director to late-teens/early 20s young men if they don’t like that age group. It simply won’t work out well.
  • He was as creature of habit—enough so that students noticed and actually joined in. And they passed that knowledge on to later classes.

I am a bit puzzled by the “new hair for the year” phrase. Surely he had more than one haircut a year? Perhaps this was the only one that was so predictable? Maybe he changed his hair style at the beginning of the year?

Or did it mean something different? After all, it was worded “new hair,” notnew haircut.” Could Fr. Hartman have worn a toupee? I don’t know how long a hair piece is good for. Maybe back then they didn’t last too long, and needed regular replacing? Or maybe I’m reading too much into it?

I asked the one person (cousin Fred) who would have been old enough to maybe notice (and remember) a detail like that, but unfortunately he never met Fr. Hartman in person. In the few photos I’ve seen of Fr. Hartman, his hair looks “original,” so I’m assuming it was just an odd phrasing, and didn’t have a special significance.

Never would I have thought to look for an alumni newsletter covering three separate, but linked, schools. It’s hard to search for something you don’t know about! If I hadn’t wandered around that day, I wouldn’t have that peek into Fr. Hartman’s life.

Researching with a plan is important. It keeps us on track, and is usually more productive than darting about, hither and yon. But when we wander, we have a chance to find a new resource—new material is continually being added to the internet! Some times it’s okay to take the scenic route, instead of the interstate.


1Mickley, Richard. “Remembering Some Things”. AMICI Newsletter C.PP. S (16 June 2010): p. 9; column 2, paragraph 4.

2“U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947”, digital image, The National Archives (, Richard Raymond MICKLEY, serial no. 611, order no. 11794, Draft Board 1, Jasper County, Indiana; citing WWII Draft Registration Cards for Indiana, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group 147; Box 528; accessed 12 February 2021. Registered 12 November 1946.


Family is more than blood or DNA . . .

Family Tree Maker has a calendar creator feature. It’s a quick and easy way to produce a calendar of birthdays and anniversaries for all your living relatives. Dead relatives are fair game, too, so I used all the options to see who, if anyone, “did” anything on February 14. There were a couple, so I settled on Helen Smith, a “married-in” on the Meintzer branch.

As a “married-in” Helen obviously wasn’t related to me biologically. Neither was the person she married, Albert Kranz. If the Kranz name sounds familiar, it should. Two of my Meintzer grandaunts (Sophie and Carrie) married Albert’s oldest (Edward) and 5th oldest (Adam) brothers.

That made Albert the brother-in-law of my grandaunts. Or, from my grandfather’s point of view, Albert was his sisters’ brother-in-law. In other words: nobody, really.

So why am I writing about Helen? If Albert’s not related, she’s even less so.

According to Anna Kranz Schultz, the Meintzer/Kranz font of knowledge, Albert and my grandfather went to school together and became friends. They had a 7 ½ year age difference, but it’s likely the school may have been a single classroom, or it might have been Sunday school. Regardless, the boys forged a friendship that spanned multiple decades and hundreds—thousands, even—of miles. When Helen came along, she was just added to the package.

Helen Sophia Smith was born 9 April 1895, in Des Plaines, Illinois—later to be the stomping ground of numerous Kranz families! Her parents were Benjamin Smith and Sophie Seegers. Benjamin was a house painter in 1900, but had moved over to railroad work in later censuses.

Helen had two younger sisters, Myrtle and Margret. By the time Helen was 15, she was employed1 as household help with a private family. She was still enumerated with her family in 1910, though, suggesting that she was just day help, not live-in help.

Could Helen have known or hung out with some of Sophie and Ed Kranz’s kids? Quite possibly, though she was 3 and 5 years younger than the two girls closest to her age (Mary Ella and Coila, respectively). Meanwhile, her eventual 1st husband was also growing up nearby.

I don’t know how long Helen continued working as household help, or if she switched to a different job, but on 1 February 1917, she married2 Louis Julius Hampe. They settled in the suburb of Oak Park, living at different addresses for his WWI draft registration, and the 1920 census. While in Oak Park, their daughter, Helen Louise was born 2 February 1918.

After the 1920 census, Helen and Louis moved closer to their parents. Their next two daughters were born in Des Plaines. Sadly, Esther Wilhelmina lived only 5 days3 (27 May 1921-1 June 1921), and Marie Lois survived only 15 days past her first birthday4 (6 November 1925-21 November 1926). As far as I know, there were no other children.

In 1929, Louis died—I assume unexpectedly, since he was only 37. The 1930 census the next year had Helen and her daughter moved in with her also widowed mother, and her sister, who had been married only 2 years.

If Albert Kranz didn’t know Helen before then, he did at some point soon. Albert was living in his brother Henry’s house, 3.5 miles from Helen. By the time the 1940 census rolled around, Albert and Helen were married and living in the house on Holywood Avenue she had occupied with Louis toward the end of the 1920s. Helen’s daughter had married in 1935, so was out of the house.

I have been unable to find a marriage document for Albert and Helen. The census record indicated that on 1 April 1935, they both lived in the “same house” as the 1940 census. That suggested they got married between 1930 and 1935. They remained in Des Plaines through at least the end of April, 1942, when Albert registered for the “old man’s draft.”

A 1949 city directory placed them in Muskegon, Michigan. How long they remained there, I don’t know. They have a decade-long gap that remains a question mark. But a 1960 city directory located them in Glendale, California, with Helen as the manager of the Brand Hotel, and Albert as the asistant manager. That’s where they were when Albert died 23 April 1966, at the age of 85.

Throughout the years, my grandfather maintained his friendship with Albert, gathering in Helen along the way. My grandparents made at least one trip to the west coast by train, so Helen and Albert would have been one of their stops. It’s possible Christoph made a trip by himself, after Minnie died in 1958—there’s just no one left to ask.

I know the two kept up a correspondence. One letter from Helen remains, which she wrote after tranporting Albert’s casket back to Illinois for burial. She wrote about getting back home, “I got back here May 25. And it was nice to be back away from the rain.” [which there apparently had been a lot of while she was in Chicago] It seems she was still running the motel:

Have been working again. Every body here helps me so it is not hard. As the men go for a walk they bring me groceries. Some of them have been making their own beds so it all helps me.

Helen S. Kranz, Glendale, California to Christoph Meintzer, handwritten letter, 14 June 1966, after funeral service in Illinois for her husband, Albert Kranz, Bauman Correspondence Files; privately held by Christine Haws Bauman, Greenwood, Indiana.

Helen continued on, talking about Albert’s funeral service:

Was so glad you could come to Albert’s service and bring Harry along. There were so many folks there that I did not get much chance to talk to. And I wish I could have talked to more than I did.

Albert had a nice lot of folks out, and I was glad the grandson could speak. Quite a few spoke about it and said he (Andrew) spoke very nice. [note: Andrew was the son of Helen’s daughter, Helen, and was a pastor]


It was only 3 short pages, but was the type of casual, newsy, almost rambling type of letter written to a good friend. Certainly not a stiff, almost perfunctory letter a person might write to their spouse’s friend that they weren’t particularly friends with. Even though the letter doesn’t say much of anything important, to me it speaks volumes of their having a good friendship.

When Grandpa died seven months later, the Big Snow would have prevented Helen from attending his funeral, even if she would have wanted to come.

Helen lived another 11 years longer, to the age of 82. When she died on Valentine’s Day, 1978, she was in Neillsville, Wisconsin. I presume she had moved in with—or at least closer to—one of her kids. It’s likely she remained on my mom’s Christmas card list all those years after Grandpa died.

Sometimes you don’t need to be related to be family.


¹1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Maine Township, e.d. 48; sheet 23B; dwelling number 412; family number 488; line 60; Ben SMITH household; accessed 6 February 2021. Helen SMITH, age 15; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 239; digital image, (

²”Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942″, database, (, accessed 11 February 2019, citing ” Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942.” Provo, Utah, Operations, Inc., 2011. 1 February 1917, serial no. 0753535. HAMPE Louis J. and SMITH Helen.

3“Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947”, database, (, accessed 6 February 2021, entry for Esther HAMPE, 1 June 1921, citing FHL microfilm 1,570,363, citing Public Board of Health, Archives, Springfield.

4“Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994”, database, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch Record Search (, accessed 9 February 2019, entry for Marie Louis [Lois] HAMPE (1), 21 November 1926, citing Des Plaines, Cook, Illinois, reference/certificate 66, image# 00179, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 100,529,911.

In the Kitchen

“Good food and a warm kitchen is what makes a house a home.”—Rachael Ray

In recent history, the kitchen has been transformed from a workspace to a gathering place. This has made popular the open floor plan allowing the cook(s) to interact more easily with family members and guests, and not feel shut off in the corner.

It seems my family was ahead of the curve on this, a hundred years ago. After my grandparents, Christoph Jacob Meinzer and Minnie Moeller got married 27 September 1913, they first moved into “the house recently vacated by the Haires, who have taken up their residence at Winnetka for the winter.”1 I have no idea where in Shermerville, now Northbrook, that was, but I assume everyone living in Shermerville, did.

At some point Christ & Minnie moved into the 2nd floor of Minnie’s parents’ house, on Church Street. They were listed as a distinct household from Minnie’s parents in the 1920 census (no house numbers recorded!),2 with a “2” in the relationship column, indicating they were on the 2nd floor. I don’t know where they lived before that, though. Christoph’s 1917 WWI draft registration simply said “Shermerville.” No street name. No house number.

The kitchen of Christ & Minnie’s upstairs flat saw a lot of activity, it seems. I have a collection of photographs taken there—or the areas adjacent. The photos aren’t always well-lit, but the wallpaper is the same. I’m assuming it was a large kitchen, dining area, with some living room thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, the photos have no dates, and often not labeled with names. Luckily, my mom was able to recognize most of the people, remembering them from when she was a kid.

Elfrieda Jonas Moeller and Minnie Moeller Meintzer looking at something. Mail? An advertisement? It doesn’t look like a book.
Unidentified child in high chair (dropped low).

One already showed up in an earlier blog—Minnie and her mother, Elfrieda Jonas Moeller. They are standing in a corner that “bumps into” the room, with doorframes on each adjacent wall. Initially, I assumed this was Elfrieda’s kitchen, but looking at all the photos as a “set,” it seems more likely to be Minnie’s apartment. This corner shows up in other photos.

The Boy in the High Chair (below) had three photos in that same corner. I have no idea who he was. If I had a name, I could estimate a date. If I had a date, I could probably figure out a name. I’ve got neither. It isn’t my mom.

The high chair itself was interesting, because it could be set up in this postion (note that his head is just under the lower edge of the wallpaper), or it could be raised up to regular high chair height, where the tray is about level with the white flat surface behind him. Fancy!

This photo is one of the reasons I believe the kitchen and main living area were all one space. Kids in high chairs typically aren’t put the living room. The kitchen makes more sense from a cleaning up standpoint, and being able to keep an eye on them more easily while doing other work in the kitchen.

Several of the photos showed my grandmother’s Stewart cook stove. Clearly, those were taken in the kitchen! There’s one of Minnie knitting:

Minnie Moeller Meintzer knitting in the kitchen, next to the stove. On the wall above the stove, you can see a faint image of the same wallpaper from the other photos. It also seems she had one of those new-fangled gas or propane stoves, too! (knobs on the right front) I know people who would kill for those boots she’s wearing . . .

This photo is dim, but behind her are two 4-panel doors located right at the corner. We’ll see them better, soon. This is definitely a different corner of the room than the first two photos. I wish I knew the floor plan of this upstairs apartment, but my mom was only a baby when living there. We have more photos taken in the same location:

Two of Minnie’s friends, come for coffee, it seems! The one of the left *might* be Minnie Pfingsten, and the one on the right *might* be Lena Moeller Mueller, my grandmother’s sister. And another pair of killer boots!

The teapot and the coffeepot (percolator) seemed to always be ready (both are visible in Minnie’s photo, above).

As for whether the man on the left is my grandpa, or his brother, that’s hard to say. I don’t have too many clear images of Uncle Jake, but maybe some of his grandkids will weigh in with an opinion. Presumably they have more photos of him than I do. While my grandpa wasn’t known for growing mustaches, it’s not impossible, so it might have been him. If so, then these two photos were taken at different times.

Other, more casual photos were taken in this room. One was my grandmother with her good friend, Minnie Pfingsten, and “Toots” (Edlyn Anna Mueller Morrissey) when she was a little girl with a really big bow:

Minnie Pfingsten, Minnie Moeller Meintzer, and Edlyn Anna Mueller (Minnie M.’s niece). There’re back in the same corner Elfrieda & Minnie were in, also the Boy in the High Chair. But the chair they are sitting on would be in the way of using either door, so it was moved there simply for the photo.

Edlyn was born 14 May 1912, the only child of Lena Moeller and Emil Mueller. Yes, my grandaunt, Lena, changed only 1 letter in her surname when she got married! “Toots” looks about 6 or 7, maybe? That would date this photo somewhere around 1918-1920, perhaps? Minnie Pfingsten showed up, again, in this pair of photos:

Minnie Werhane Pfingsten and Minnie Moeller Meintzer looking through items in a laundry basket. These dresses seem to be the same ones as the right hand photo, above.

Minnie Pfingsten was a good friend of both my grandparents. She was just a year younger than my grandfather, so it’s likely they were in school together. Her family lived on Church Street—the same street my grandmother grew up on—so they were neighbors. Their friendships lasted well into old age. The morning on the day my grandfather died, Christoph had stopped by Minnie’s house for a quick visit, after his trip to the bank. My mom always referred to her as “Aunt Minnie” (one of the numerous “faux aunts” I had to prune from the family tree!), and her son, Kenneth, went to school with Mom.

I decided I wanted to flesh out those two just a bit. I discovered Kenneth was just 34 days older than Mom. Minnie had married Henry Pfingsten, related to whoever Pfingsten Road was named after. Then came the surprise—Minnie’s maiden name was Werhane!

The Werhane family was a large one in the Shermerville area, and while none of them married into my Meintzer family, there were several marriages between Werhanes and the “other” Mentzer family (the one without the “i” in the name, but still related to us). Was Minnie indirectly connected to my grandfather? It turned out, yes. Sort of.

When I checked my database, I realized I HAD already made a connection, but forgot about it. It happens! Minnie wasn’t directly connected to my grandfather. Some of the Werhanes share (or could share—you know how DNA can be) DNA with us, but others (like Minnie) do not. Herman P. Mentzer (b. 1850) married Mary S. Werhane, Minnie’s aunt, but Minnie had no direct Mentzer connection. So Minnie was a 2nd cousin to Donald Werhane, who was a 3rd cousin to my mom, but otherwise she wasn’t related. Bummer.

What’s the take-away from this week? I thought this would be an “easy” week. Ha! Finding the photos I knew I had took longer than expected. I also found more than I remembered offhand. Cleaning them up took time, of course. More important things, though, were

  • spending more time considering that group of photos, and what it told me about my grandparents
  • rediscovering information I’d forgotten about.

I’d forgotten how tangled the Mentzers and Werhanes were. I realize I need to spend some time confirming the relationships of these families. I think they are correct in my database, but they probably need better sourcing to document those connections.

Looks like another project on my to-do list.


1“Shermerville,” 3 October 1913, accessed 20 January 2021, image number: 37208433; citing original p. 1 col. 5 para. 15, entry for marriage announcement Christ MEINTZER and Minnie MUELLER [MOELLER], Cook County Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois, online archive (

21920 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Northfield, e.d. 139; Page 3B; dwelling number 58; family number 65; line 56; Crist MENTZER household; accessed 8 January 2019. Crist MENTZER, age 31 (upstairs from his in-laws); NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 358; digital image, (

Favorite Photo

“We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.”—Katie Thurmes

Lovina S. Emilie Kranz was one of my mom’s first cousins, on her Meintzer side. She was the oldest child of Caroline (Carrie) Meintzer and Adam Henry Kranz. You met her parents briefly, a couple years ago. Carrie was a younger sister to Sophie Meintzer Kranz, and Adam Henry was a younger brother to Sophie’s husband, Edward M. Kranz. While Sophie and Ed had eleven children, Carrie & Adam were less ambitious, with only three.

My grandfather, (Lovina’s “Uncle Chris”) was a scant 2 1/3 years older than she when Lovina was born in Plato Township, Sioux County, Iowa, on 5 December 1890.1 That was during the time Ed & Adam were farming together in Iowa, with Ed already married to Sophie. Carrie traveled to Iowa, and married Adam when she arrived, 19 March 1890. Lovina arrived about 9 months later.

Lovina’s brother, Raymond Edward, was born 18 March 1892, also in Sioux County. In late 1892 or early 1893, both Kranz families returned to the Chicago area.2 Lovina’s father, Adam, settled the family in Libertyville, twenty miles north of Des Plaines, where his brother Ed landed. Adam apparently had enough of farming, and secured a job as a section foreman with the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad—often referred to as the Milwaukee Road. The family settled into a house probably not too far from the train station. The youngest son, Clarence, was born in 1895.

The 1900 census3 at Ancestry has “Newberry Street” entered as the street name in the indexed information, but I cannot see the street name written anywhere on that census sheet. There are no street numbers, either. Even checking several sheets before and after their page, no street name was to be found. Nevertheless, Newberry Street is the first street running parallel to and south of the tracks, so that may have been where they lived.

A “Real Photo Post Card” of the Kranz house in Rondout (Libertyville). It was addressed to my grandparents, from Carrie. It had their address, not the address it came from. Bummer! Google street view doesn’t show me any similar houses, so it was either torn down, or has been remodeled beyond recognition.

In the 1910 census, Lovina is a new bride of 2 months, living not far from her parents with her recently-widowed father-in-law, and her husband’s brother/business partner (with a wife and 2 kids).

This week’s prompt was “Favorite Photo.” So where is it? The picture above isn’t the one; the photo below, is. That’s Lovina with one of her sons. Why did I pick it? It’s just a lovely photograph! It captures the moment beautifully. She is having a great hair day, and he is just cute as a button. I love the sock garters he’s wearing!

Lovina Kranz Brumm with one of her sons—either Wilfred (born 1917) or Milton (born 1923). The back of the photo just said “Brumm boy.”

The child wasn’t identified as being Wilfred or Milton. There was no date on the photograph, which would have helped immensely. He looks to be about a year old. Someone more experienced (or who had more time) might be able to date it better based on Lovina’s hairstyle or clothes. I am not that person! Nevertheless, I’ll speculate that it’s Wilfred, her firstborn. He was born 30 July 1917, so that would suggest this was taken in the latter half of 1918.

If it were Milton (born 7 September 1923), that would move the photo into 1924, which just seems too late for her hairstyle—and the button-shoes for the toddler! Of course, the main reason I think it’s her first child just logic. Those of you with more than one child can back me up on this. There are all sorts of things a young mother can do with only one child to deal with. Taking this type of photo would be a snap!

Trying to do that with your second (or third, or fourth)? It’s far more difficult. What do you do with the older child(ren)? Bring them along and hope they behave? Good luck with that! Leave them at home with someone? Maybe, but frankly, this type of photo probably doesn’t even cross your mind for child #2! Who has the time or the energy? No, this is an “oldest child” photo.

As I rummaged through my photos, today, I found the photo on the right. It was in a tri-fold folder from the Hemmen Studio, 216 North Genesee Street, Waukegan, Illinois. That studio was 11 miles from Lovina’s house. The folder was labeled “Wilfred Brumm, Age 2” on the back—not in my mom’s handwriting. I presume it was labeled at the time the photo was taken.

Further rummaging through my hard drive unearthed the photo on the left, which had a file name of “Wilfred Brumm.” The dress is the same as the one on the boy with Lovina, and the faces are the same. I’m not sure where I got this scan from. I did not run across the photo itself, today, so I can’t see whose handwriting was on the back, or if there was a date. The combination of the three photos bolsters my confidence that Wilfred was the child with Lovina, though.

I don’t have many photos of this family. This branch had fewer people than some of the other collateral branches, and they lived father away. We just didn’t end up interacting much. I’m so glad, though, that Lovina decided to send a photo to her aunt & uncle (my grandparents).


1“Iowa, U.S., Births and Christenings Index, 1800-1999”, database, (, accessed 24 January 2021, entry for Lovina S Emilie KRANTZ, 5 December 1890, citing “Iowa Births and Christenings, 1830-1999,” Sioux, Iowa, reference not given, GS microfilm 1,404,846. note: a “T” incorrectly added to the surname.

2Donna Marie Bell, My Family Keepbook: (San Francisco, California: Blurb, 2016), p. 180. “The whole family moved back to Illinois for good. Mary [Ed & Sophie’s daugter] was six weeks old, so that would have been around Christmas 1892,” citing a 4 February 1988 letter from Anna Kranz Schultz to Donna.

31900 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Lake, Libertyville Township, e.d. 136; Page 16A; dwelling number 322; family number 322; line 27; Adam KRONG [KRANZ] household; accessed 24 January 2021. Adam KRONG [KRANZ], age 37, April 1863; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 314; digital image,


“A brother is always a brother, no matter the distance, no matter the difference and no matter the issue.”—Byron Pulsifer

Growing up, Mike remembered being told that he was named after his dad’s oldest full brother, Michael Ashley Carmody. He doesn’t really have clear memories of his childhood, but he had a vague memory of maybe meeting Uncle Mike one time. He would have been pretty young.

So I emailed Mike’s younger brother, who confirmed they had driven to Port Huron with their parents when they were 9 or 10 (second half of the 1960s) for an overnight visit. They saw Uncle Mike, and ate at Chicken-in-the-Rough for dinner. Mike remembered that was one of his dad’s favorite spots. After dinner the boys and their mom went back to the motel, and the two brothers (Jerry and Mike) went to The Brass Rail for some drinks. Both the restaurant and the bar still operate in Port Huron.

That’s really the only interaction the boys ever had with their Uncle Mike. My husband’s Carmody line is complicated, to say the least. If you remember from other blog posts, John Joseph Carmody (the father of Jerry & , Mike, and another brother, Joseph) remarried at age 59. Mildred Belle Fitzgerald was 30 years old, with 2 children from her first marriage. All of John Joseph’s children with his first wife were out of the house by then. He and Millie had 3 children together, with Mike the oldest and Jerry the youngest.

Michael Ashley Carmody was born 19 June 1922. He had likely been named after his Uncle Michael (still living in Ireland) and his mother’s father, Ashley Cooper Fitzgerald.

When Millie died shortly after Jerry’s birth in 1928, John Joseph was 66. The children scattered by the 1930 census. John Joseph was living by himself, running the tourist camp by the lake. Jerry was adopted by his cousin, Anna & her husband, Frank. Marjorie (Millie’s daughter) was over 18, on her own, and soon to be married. The other 3 boys (Freddie (Marjorie’s full brother), Mike, & Joey) were somewhere . . . but where?

In 1928, Freddie would have been in high school, but still would have needed a guardian of some sort. He had not moved in with his dad (Millie’s first husband) in 1930. Mike (age 8) and Joey (age 5) certainly needed adults, but I couldn’t locate them in Port Huron searching with their names. I checked all their half sibings, without finding the boys:

I moved on to some cousins—children of John Joseph’s brother, Michael (like Anna Carmody Bauman was), living in the area (or in Massachusetts) and found:

As well as some Alloways. John Joseph’s first wife was an Alloway, and at least one brother left Ireland with them. It was worth a shot:

  • John M. (Eliza S.) Alloway—daughter Eileen
  • Joseph (Sarah) Alloway—daugher Catherine

I finally tracked down Freddie Marshall, listed as a stepson of Anne Page, widowed. I have no idea who she was, or why she listed him as a stepson, but at least I found him! He was also the 3rd person I found in enumeration district 41. I decided a page-by-page search of that district might be good. No luck, naturally! There are 15 other enumeration districts, but I’m not searching them right now. I need to get this blog finally finished!

Bottom line: Michael Ashley and younger brother, Joseph (Joey), are still AWOL in the 1930 census. A couple theories exist:

  • The enumerator missed them. Both of them? Really?
  • The names were mangled beyond recognition.
  • The family/families they were living with didn’t really think to include them.
  • They were in an orphanage. Possible, but I would think they’d show up in my search by first name and age within the state. Institutions keep good lists.
  • They were not living in Port Huron (part of the reason I checked Massachusetts relatives)

The last option doesn’t seem likely, either, since their father was still alive. Just because he didn’t feel up to raising small children didn’t mean he wanted no contact with them! Mike inherited this photo of his grandfather with Michael and Jerry, probably taken around 1930 or 1931. Michael would have been 8 or 9:

John Joseph Carmody with sons Michael (left) and Jerry (right). Despite being raised by Anna & Frank, he lived in the same town as his father and brothers, so apparently saw them on occasion. I estimate this to be in 1930 or 1931, based on Jerry (age 2 or 3?). This is the only photo we have of his dad.

We’ll save Joey’s story for another day, and get back to Michael.

I’d fully expected to find Michael living with his half-sister, Agnes, because that’s where he lived in 1940. She was also his contact person on his WWII draft registration from June, 1942. For some unknown reason, Jerry had copies of paperwork belonging to his older brother, including:

  • Michael’s birth certificate (complete with seal!)
  • a 3/4 reduction of Michael’s Honorable Discharge papers from the Army

From that we learn he was inducted into the Reserves in October, 1942, and recalled to active duty two weeks later. He participated in the North African and Sicilian Campaigns. He left the US in 19 April, 1943, but didn’t arrive at the European African Middle Eastern Theater until 27 August. That seems like a long time, so I wonder what they did during those 4 months. He left the European African Middle Eastern Theater 3 January 1944, arriving back in the US on the 24th. He spent the remainder of his service at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and mustered out 17 May 1944.

Once out of the Army, he returned to Port Huron, eventually marrying Donna Keough on 2 May 1948, in Fremont, Ohio. They had one child, but divorced about a year later.

I don’t know at what point Michael moved to Tacoma, Washington, where he eventually died in 1988 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery. It’s possible he stayed in the Port Huron area for some time, to be near his child, despite the divorce. Or he may have moved west earlier, coming back to Michigan occasionally. It’s possible the visit from Jerry in the late 1960s was in response to Michael either getting ready to move, or his being back for a visit. The timing would have been about right for a high school graduation for his child.

In addition to the papers Mike inherited from his dad, there was also the leather picture frame below, with a photo of Michael. I removed it from the frame in hopes there might be writing on the back. A date? An age? But no, of course not. I took the opportunity to clean the glass on both sides, though, and to scan the photo. The cracks around the bottom edge disappered nicely.

If I had to guess, I’d think it was taken post-high school (or he probably wouldn’t be smoking so openly?), before he entered the Army. Maybe he left the photo with Jerry since he’d be gone—perhaps not returning? We’ll never know for sure. All three brothers have long since passed away, so we have no one to ask questions of.

It would seem Jerry and Michael had a connection that remained despite being raised in different households, the six year age gap, and probably not seeing much of each other as adults, due to distance. Why else would Jerry have kept the items he did?

This post took longer to produce than I expected. Much of that was caused by my attempt to track down Freddie, Michael, and Joey in the 1930 census. I’d looked for them here and there, before, but never as comprehensively as this time. I’ve realized that it’s often more efficient to be more methodical and thorough. In the long run, I will spend less time repeating research already did, and less likely to miss checking something I should have.

So I made lists of half siblings, cousins, etc., and researched them one-by-one. Even though I really didn’t think the boys got shipped to the east coast, it might have happened. Now that I’ve checked it, I can focus back on Michigan. Or I can decide to let it go. Sometimes we just don’t find an answer.


Family Legend

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”–Thomas A. Edison [No, not a family legend!]

On my dad’s side of the family, there were a couple men who simply disappeared at some point. Contact with the family was lost, and no one ever found out what became of them. And yes, it was always the guys. I never heard about any girls who up and ran off.

The family legend that grew around each of them was, “They moved to St. Louis [Missouri] and disappeared.” I heard that story about Leo Schweiger (my granduncle), as well as Matthias Bruder (my great-granduncle). There could be a few more lurking about.

I wrote about Matthias last June, but focused more on resolving some discrepancies about his early years. At that time, I checked his inclusion in other people’s trees. If, for instance, he’d had a family we didn’t know about, he’d be on someone else’s tree as an ancestor. Or he might have kept in touch with another branch of the family, just not my branch. It was a useful exercise, even though nothing came of it.

But I didn’t really take a methodical look for him in various record sets after the 1880 census, the last definitive checkpoint I had for him. This seems like a good time to do that.

The WWI draft registration is one of my favorite places to look for men. It provides their complete birth date and location, gives a physical description, has their signatures, and usually contains enough additional information (address, parents’ or wife’s names, occupation) to reassure me I found the correct man I was looking for. Unfortunately, his 1869 birth meant he missed the 1873 cutoff for the 3rd registration.

IF he’d had a family, there could have been a son who needed to register. Matthias might have been listed as the person who could always the registrant. So I searched anyway, on the remote chance that occurred. Even with a very broad search (just the surname, Bruder, and born in Wisconsin), Ancestry returned 55 results, with only 11 of them meeting both criteria. The remaining 44 did not record Wisconsin as their birth place. None of the 55 first names were anything related to Matthias or Matthew. In addition, 1886 was the earliest birth year I saw, so assuming he didn’t register was probably a good call.

One resource I couldn’t search well was newspapers. My Ancestry/Fold3/ subscription ran out, and since I can still access Ancestry from home through my library’s subscription (something to be thankful to Covid for?), I didn’t renew. A nation-wide search for “Matthias Bruder” would be ill-advised, but I could filter for:

  • Wisconsin, possibly narrowing down to a few key areas, if there were too many hits:
    • Green Bay
    • Milwaukee
    • Manitowoc County papers
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Chicago, Illinois

I will add that to a “ to-do list” for the next time I subscribe. Simialarly, I should also add him to my “Fold3 to-do list.” I don’t know if he was in the military, but it’s possible he was involved with the Spanish-American War. He might have been a bit on the old side, but as a single man, he could have ended up there.

Now to get serious. The only reference point I have for Matthias after the 1880 census was a mention in his father’s 1915 obituary:

Evening paper, 8 March 1915, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. See the newspaper list below. John Bruder and his sister, Mary Grobe, lived in Manitowoc, not Two Rivers, so I believe it could be the Daily Herald. I found an almost identical obituary printed the day of the funeral (11 March 1915) in The Manitowoc Pilot at Chronicling America. The middle paragraph, right side, says “He is survived by . . . and Matthias of St. Louis.” I don’t know if one of his siblings knew for sure, or if 10 years earlier Matthias said something like, “I’m heading to St. Louis,” and no one knew if he ever got there, or moved elsewhere, later. This is hardly “proof” of location or his being alive!

Newspapers in the Manitowoc area in 1915 included:

  • Manitowoc Post (a German-language paper, published Tuesdays & Fridays, available at
  • The Manitowoc Pilot (published weekly), available at
  • Manitowoc Daily Herald, only 1898 available at
  • Die Wahrheit (also in German!), available at
  • The Reporter (Two Rivers), available at
  • The Chronicle (Two Rivers), available at
  • Kiel National-Zeitung (also German, published in nearby Kiel) only 1893 available at, but published through 1918

When his sister, Mary Grobe, died in 1927, Matthias was mentioned (as Matthew). It was pretty vague, but didn’t give up on him entirely. The 1934 obituaries for his brother, Nicholas, and his sister, Catherine Schrimpf, made no mention of Matthias at all. It could mean he died, or maybe no one had heard from him in so long, they simply didn’t include him. Bottom line, there’s really no window to try and place his death into. It’s even possible he died before his father, but no one knew. It complicates searching for him.

So I first searched broadly (“Matthias Bruder”, born 1869 (+/- 5) in Wisconsin). Trees and his 1880 census were all that came back at Ancestry. Going to the census, to see the suggested records there, pointed to the 1870 census and his birth records (with misindexed names) I found in June. Dropping a “t” didn’t change results, but dropping the birth year, did! I suddenly had a Mathias Bruder living in Milwaukee in 1920 and 1930. I looked at both census records.

1920: This man was age 32 (born about 1888 in Russia) married to Marie, with 4 kids, the oldest one was 11. He emigrated in 1905, with Russian parents. This can’t be my Matthias. He is one of the brothers below, but I’m puzzled by the “Russia” birthplace.

1930: This was a 13-year-old, with parents John (born about 1889 in Hungary) and Katherina. Obviously a 13-year-old can’t be my Matthias. I eventually found this family in 1920, listing John’s immigration year of 1910 (instead of 1906, here). I ended up needing this family, too.

A search with the birth year, but no birth place, turned up a 1907 marriage record in Milwaukee for a Mathias Bruder (born in Hungary about 1885) to Mary Knies. His parents were Matthias and Margaretha Zera, also born in Hungary. An accidental page turn brought up the marriage of a brother, Peter (same parents, same marriage date!) to Olga Heckel. Still not mine. Are they relate to John, above, though?

A search for Mathias Bruder in Ancestry’s U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 turned up a bunch of Milwaukee hits—including a John, Mathias, and Peter, all living together! A Herman, Otto, and William were also listed, at different addresses. No sign of Matthias & Peter’s parents (Matthias & Margaretha) so they probably never left Hungary. The directories tracked this way:

  • 1907—three brothers living at 61 18th Street
  • 1909—three brothers living at 914 Hibernia (with 2 of them married?)
  • 1910—three brothers living at 44 8th Street (now a tangle of interstates)
  • 1911—Matthias at 371 16th, Peter at 1612 Chestnut, John missing
  • 1916—Mathias at 954 Cotton Place, John and Peter at 301 23rd Street
  • 1919—Matthews (teamster) at 781 7th Street, John & Peter missing
  • 1920Matthew at 602 16th, John at 299 (rear) 23rd, Peter missing
  • 1921—Matthias (Mary) at 602 16th Street; John (Kath) at 307 23rd Street; Peter was not listed. Matthias’s wife was consistent with the marriage record found.

WWI draft registrations confirmed Mathias was born in 1886, Peter was born in 1884. I did not find one for John.

In the 1920 census, I found Peter and Olga at their 1916 address, with John & Katherine a little way down the street, “Matthies” & Mary on 16th. The brothers were all AWOL in 1910, though I finally tracked them down, using the 1910 street address and finding their enumeration district. The enumerator wrote down “Brothe” for the name, instead of “Bruder.” All 3 were listed as single (image 22), which puzzled me, since Mathias and Peter had marriage records from 1907. They lived in a boarding house, so I went to the next page (image 23) with more lodgers, and found a Phillip, age 43, married for 18 years, but no wife. Was that a cousin? Uncle?

Ultimately, these 3 brothers do not connect to my Bruder line. So why did I bother tracking down census, draft, marriage, and directories for them? The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) encourages us to research thoroughly, so we can reach sound conclusions. Individually, most of the records didn’t provide enough information to eliminate them. It wasn’t until I found all of them, that I could make that case:

  • The directories suggested a link between the 3 men, but told me nothing about age or place of birth. Was that Matthias mine? Or were the 3 of them sons of mine? By themselves, the directory entries were not helpful.
  • The marriage records linked 2 brothers, and eliminated them from my tree, based on their and their parents’ birth in Hungary. But that didn’t tie them to the directories. There could have been two separate sets of brothers.
  • The census and draft records tied up a lot of loose ends. The wives on the census linked to the marriages. The addresses linked back to various city directory listings.

Taking the records as a whole, I feel comfortable concluding the Bruders I found in Milwaukee do not belong to our line. Are there unanswered questions? Sure! Why were the brothers who supposedly got married in 1907 listed as single in 1910? I really don’t know. The register pages were completed (and dated) 1907, but had a separate “recorded date” stamped in with “1911.” I don’t know what that means, but I don’t have to figure it out. I can let whoever these people belong to unravel that mess! I have sufficient evidence to believe these men aren’t mine.

Could my Matthias have been in Milwaukee? Yeah. He could have used Matthias or Matthew; Bruder, Brother, or one of the many misspellings (or misindexings) I’ve run across. He could have used a middle name I’m unaware ofor taken on a completely new alias. There are a lot of ways I could miss him, in Milwaukee or anywhere.

When I searched for Matthias in Illinois, I found no hits in the directories. Nor in Missouri. Maybe Ancestry doesn’t have Chicago directories? I may have to find a different source for those. There were a few St. Louis directories in the right year range, with Bruders, but no Matthias. There were a number of hits in New York City, and Albany, New York, but I have no reason to assume my Matthias would have moved to either place. Without a solid lead that direction, I could spend a lot of time looking for him in all the wrong places.

The same broad search at FamilySearch seemed to turn up more hits right away, but they weren’t any different than what I found at Ancestry. It was time to target specific databases.

At Ancestry:

  • All Wisconsin, U.S. State Censuses, 1855-1905Matt Bruder in Wausau, Marathon County, 1895. No age, but would be a new place to look. This man was listed as born in Germany, though, so it’s very iffy.
  • Web: Missouri, U.S. Death Certificates, 1910-1962an M. J. Brothers died 21 December 1930. That might bear looking into. Not much indexed information, and no image.
  • U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995the 1901 LaCrosse, Wisconsin directory listed a Mathias Borter, a bartender. Matthias’s youngest brother, John, owned a tavern (was a bartender). I can see Bruder maybe being misrecorded as Borter. If he was listed with a different occupation, it might not have caught my eye, but it seems coincidental. Maybe he’s there in 1900? Actually there are 4 entries between 1901 and 1911, all “Borter.” So the last name was probably not a misspelling, but he could have changed it. The occupation also switched to shoemaker after 1901.
  • 1900 censusnothing potentially useful. A Mathew Bruder about the right age, married to an Elizabeth, lived in Kansas City (opposite side of the state), but born in Illinois. Maybe if I get desparate . . .
  • 1910 censuseven less.
  • 1920 censusditto.

For each census year, I entered 1869 +/-2 and Wisconsin, USA, and performed separate searches for “Matthias Bruder,” “Matthias,” “Matthew,” “Bruder,” and “Brother,” for Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin (entered in “lived in” field). Breaking it up and searching by state let me focus better on the suggested hits, since there were fewer of them in each iteration.

The last Missouri State Census was 1876, so no help there. I also checked the 1900 census for all his siblings and father, in case he was living in one of their households, but was recorded with the wrong surname. Again, he didn’t turn up.

So, Matthias Bruder is still lost. I’m not sure I will ever end up finding out what happened to him, but I do feel better for having looked for him a little more diligently. There are a couple leads I can follow up with, but I have no plans to scour the rest of the country for him. Checking the Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri corridor made sense, since his legend involved the 2 endpoints, but I think searching elsewhere (without new information) would use a lot of time and effort with little chance of success.

Maybe I’ll find something about him when I find time to look through the Manitowoc papers. Another project for another day week month.

Some other things I learned this week:

  • I need to look at Chronicling America more often to see if papers I need are available there. Ancestry doesn’t have a monopoly on newspapers!
  • I found a really neat site ( listing the various newspapers, which databases had them, with the year ranges. Surprisingly, it revealed that FindMyPast has a lot of them! From the main page, click on the menu, then “Records Directory.” You can browse by record type, or state, with online collections noted. It was kind of a mini-Cyndi’s list . . .
  • I found a curious land sale for my Bruders listed in a newspaper, while looking for Mathias’s birth. I need to follow up on that!

Like Mr. Edison with his lightbulb, I may not have found a solution, but I’ve found a number of answers I know don’t work. Sometimes that’s the only progress we have . . .



“We talked of the tiny difference between ending and starting to begin.”–Harry Chapin, “Sequel”

Long ago, when I started down the road of genealogy, I followed the instructions still given to newcomers:

  • Started with myself, recording as much as I knew
  • Milked my parents for information
  • Wrote to aunts and uncles
  • Wrote to grandaunts and granduncles
  • Recorded everything on paper (handwritten or typed)
  • Eventually wrangled one trip to the Newberry Library on a Saturday to view microfilmed census records—I’m not even sure if they had microfilms of the 1900 census pages in their drawers. It would have been released, but I don’t know if they’d acquired it, yet.

Neither the Internet (b. 1 January 19831) nor the World Wide Web (b. 6 August 19912)—and yes, they are technically different—were a factor in researching ancestors back then. My grandparents were dead, most relatives lived far away—and couldn’t understand why I cared about all those “old relatives.” I couldn’t drive, and had no money for travel, anyway. It was truly the dark ages.

But my mom remembered her dad receiving a letter from a Gladys Meintzer, from one of the Dakotas. Obviously that was 1966 or earlier, before he died in 1967. While no one was actively researching the family at that time, my grandfather did know where his siblings were, who their kids were, and roughly where those (adult) kids were living. My Haws and Schweiger lines have some “lost” branches, but that really wasn’t the case with the Meintzers. I’m sure my grandfather asked around to his siblings—in case one of them had a stray Gladys he’d not heard of—but nobody knew anything about her.

I assume he wrote back to her that they weren’t related. As far as I know, he didn’t keep either letter (unless it’s in one of the many “family information” folders my mom created . . . I haven’t sorted through all of those, yet!).

How did Gladys find the Illinois Meintzers? I assume she found Grandpa’s name and address in one of Halbert’s “The <your name here> World Heritage Book.” You remember, the company from Bath, Ohio. Let’s be honest, most of us have (or had at some point) one of those in our posession (or in the hands of a relative, who offered to share). It was basically a country-wide phone book. It had no genealogical value, but did point her in our direction. Since she didn’t fit into any gaps in Mom’s tree, and I had no way to contact Gladys a decade later, that lead was dropped.

In the 1990s, after visiting The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, we looked for a park to make lunch and let the kids run around. I did not expect to cross “Mentzer Street” on the way to the park, but remembered Gladys and wondered if her family had lived nearby.

Fast forward to 2003, when the Internet (and WWW) actually functioned. I did a Google search for “Meintzer” to see what was out there. I found a document on the Germans From Russia Heritage Society website where “Meintzer” showed up with a bunch of family group entries. Several had a notation that their ancestor came from Alsace. I wrote about their possible connection to my Meintzers in Ten.

The families lived along the northwest shore of the Black Sea (Schabolat—now Bilen’ke, Ukraine). The Germans From Russia Heritage Society is headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota, mostly because many “German” imigrants to that section of the country came from that area of Russia.

Suddenly, Gladys and her family looked much more promising.

The 1930 census was available, so I looked for her, or other Meintzers, in either Dakota. I figured she would have been alive for that census. I found her in Fargo, North Dakota, the spouse of a Christian Meintzer, born in Russia about 1899. That, too, was a hopeful link. More pieces seemed to be falling in place.

What caught my eye, though, was their list of children, specifically their 7-year-old daughter, Ardis. She was almost the same age as my mom (Ardyth), with a surprisingly similar first name. Neither one was a family named passed down, so the similarity seemed a little freaky to both my mom and me.

Both Gladys and Christian had died by then, as well as two of their children. I added the names to my file, with a notation of possibly being connected to us, but left it at that. I didn’t really follow up further. Truthfully, 16 years ago, there would have been fewer online sources available, so I’m not sure how much more I could have learned. It’s a lousy excuse, but I’m going to run with it. I ignored them for a long time.

As I was thinking about the beginning of the year, and this prompt, it occurred to me that I really needed to begin researching that branch—up to the present, and back through the records in Odessa (Ukraine). In addition to the Germans From Russia (which has much of its information behind their membership wall), there is also a Black Sea German Research organization with databases, maps, photos, and ways to connect to other researchers. Some of those databases seem to be indexes to records on FamilySearch—organized by town, sorted by name. IF they haven’t been indexed yet at FamilySearch, that would be a huge help!

It seems plenty of new resources are out there.

So why do I care about these people? Well, most likely they are related to me through my 3rd great grandfather’s brother, Jacob (wife Elisabeth Saemann). It’s a loose end, and I like tying those up. My working theory is that some or all of that family migrated to Russia. It would be good to actually prove it.

And it’ll have to be done the old-fashioned way, with records, to document the connection. Johann Jacob Meintzer and Elisabetha Philippi (parents of my 3rd great grandfather and his brother) would be the common ancestors. That’s 5 generations back for my mom’s DNA, 6 generations for mine. The likelihood of DNA not being shared with with those other descendants falls between 30% and 70% (or more)3. We might get a lucky DNA hit, but I wouldn’t count on it.

I’ll see where this new path of research takes me. Maybe I’ll even figure out who Mentzer Road in Mitchell was named for . . .


¹ n.d. A Brief History Of The Internet. [online] Available at: <,Protocol%20(TCP%2FIP).> [Accessed 3 January 2021].

²Bryant, M., 2011. 20 Years Ago Today, The World Wide Web Was Born – TNW Insider. [online] The Next Web. Available at: <,in%20Tim%20Berners%2DLee’s%20eye.&gt; [Accessed 3 January 2021].

³ISOGG Wiki. 2020. Cousin Statistics. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 4 January 2021].


Celebrate your progress no matter how big or small.–unknown

Sometimes, sequential prompts lend themselves to a story breaking up into two parts, continuing the following week. This post started as a correction to last week’s, but morphed along the way. I realized it fit well with this week’s prompt.

Most of the time, a new blog post follows a fairly routine path:

  • The prompt nudges me to choose a particular person or story to write about.
  • I check to see what I already “know” about the subject.
  • I hunt through my files for something visual to go along with it.
  • Research verifies what I already know, and fills in any gaps I’ve discovered. Sometimes I look for background information on a company, address, occupation, etc., to better understand various moving parts and how they fit together with the person or story.
  • Find a way to present it so it all makes sense.

If all goes well (albeit, some weeks it takes longer and keeps me up later), the new post will be read by a few people, earn a “like” or two, maybe even generate a comment. It’s an extra bonus if a comment comes in adding more to the story.

Then there are the blog posts when I get the email or phone call telling me I’m all wet. Like this week’s.

Monday morning, Warren called to inform me he was definitely not at Grandpa Meintzer’s funeral, and was at school during the storm. He said the semester ended before Christmas break, and Tom stayed with us over Christmas.

Mom consistently lamented about Warren not being at that funeral—so my memory had to be faulty. Actually, I had no direct memory of him being there, so I willingly conceded that point to him. I remember my 3 older siblings having exams after Christmas, though, so was less flexible about that. And Tom visiting? Well, he was a wildcard.

We spent the next half hour or so hashing out what occurred in January 1967. That was the year Purdue played in the Rose Bowl, beating USC by one point. Warren bought into the student travel package to attend the game, so after Christmas he flew to Pasadena with the group. They had a variety of activities while they were there: Knott’s Berry Farm, undoubtedly the parade, and certainly tickets to the game. His contention was that he was back to classes for the rest of the month after that trip, and not at home.

Tom stayed with us only one time, so it would have had to have been at Christmas. Presumably he went to stay with someone else when Warren left for California.

While we talked, I searched for a 1966-67 Purdue school calendar. Amazingly, I found one in the Purdue archives.1 The left-hand column (drag the page aound in the frame) confirmed that classes resumed 4 January, and first semester classes ended 21 January. Second semester was in the right-hand column, with classes beginning 30 January.

The day of the funeral. Nope, he would not have been at the funeral; he’d have been back on campus.

Quick sidebar: Am I the only one who is amazed—and a little scared—by volume of information tucked away around the internet? Don’t get me wrong: I am eternally grateful to Virginia Kelly Karnes, the archivist who oversaw digitizing that calendar and probably thousands of other pages. And the people who document the history of various organizations and companies—even ones now defunct. Their efforts have preserved much of our social history, the history of the everyday. Big events make it into the history books, but these bits and pieces of our daily lives many times had more direct impact on us than did world events. I love being able to locate them. It is a little unnerving, nevertheless.

But back to the story. It turned out we were each a little bit right and a little bit wrong. It was a long time ago, and memories do get fuzzy! The Purdue calendar resolved some of the questions.

Warren had no recollection about how he returned to campus that weekend, but he didn’t think our parents drove him. Given the road conditions, that makes sense. That left bus or train. Interstate 65 hadn’t been built, so the bus would have traveled down US 41—through a lot of empty cornfields with drifted snow. I would put money on him taking the train back, but we really don’t know.

The question of Tom and when he visited was still up in the air. I decided to email the brother in between us, to see what he remembered. Bill had even fewer details:

  • He remembered the snow, school closed, and bad roads.
  • He remembered Tom staying with us, though couldn’t nail down whether it was Christmas or semester break.
  • He did remember that there were 2 breaks, not just one!
  • He raised the possibility that only Mom & Dad—or that no one from our house—went to the funeral.

I’m very confident the last bullet point isn’t correct. No, I won’t bet the grandkids on it, but I remember the funeral home and the chapel at the cemetery. I didn’t get to many funerals as a kid (just the two grandfathers), so they both stuck in my mind. Also, our cousins haven’t told me we weren’t there. So I’m pretty sure the roads were clear enough that Dad got us up there and back in one piece.

The only resolution to the “Tom” question would be to track him down and ask him when he was at our house, or where he was during The Big Snow. It wouldn’t be that hard (he actually lives somewhat close to me), but it might be a little creepy, contacting him out of the blue. And his portion of the story isn’t that important to our family history. So we’ll let him live in peace.

What strikes me more is that despite three of us remembering an event that we lived through, parts of the story still have no resolution!

Yet I regularly kick myself when I can’t reach a resolution for events occuring decades or centuries ago. How reasonable is that?

I need to remind myself that I will not reach a resolution for all my genealogy questions. It is an unrealistic expectation. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. The bits and pieces of our history that I preserve are better than nothing. If I’d waited until all my stories were perfect, I wouldn’t have three years worth of blog posts written. Some—all?—of those stories would have been lost.

So I plod along, doing what I can.


1Purdue University Senate, Administrative information regarding the 1966-1967 University Senate, UA 8, UA8ay19661967admin, Purdue University Faculty and Senate records, Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center, Purdue University Libraries11