Who got here first?


When I started doing genealogy, I quickly realized we were “newbies” in this county. I am only the third or fourth generation in the United States, so no DAR or Mayflower Society for me! Unfortunately, with the exception of my Meintzer line, I don’t have much information about the immigrant ancestors. Oh, I know who they are, sometimes I know roughly where they came from, and I may have narrowed the arrival window. That may seem like a lot, but usually I can’t pinpoint an exact date, arrival port, departure port, and in most cases, an ancestral village. That makes research farther back, impossible.

Thus, I’m not really sure when my earliest ancestor arrived. The Jost (Yost) family might be the ones, so I’ll spend this week trying to nail down something more specific for them. I haven’t looked in a while, and new databases are always coming online. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find something.

What do I already know? Elizabeth Jost (2nd great grandmother) married Johann Mathias Bruder in Wisconsin in 1859. In letters from two of my grandfather’s sisters, the information was a little vague:

  • Clara Haws Koch said Elizabeth’s birth year was 1835
  • Mary (May) Haws Carroll said “My mother’s [Anna Bruder] father & mother [Johann Mathias Bruder & Elizabeth Jost] are buried in Francis Creek Cemetery, as also is my grandmother’s [Elizabeth Jost] father & mother, whose name is Johanna Mathias Jost & Elizabeth Jost.” [It should be Nicholas (not Johanna Mathias!) Jost]

Both women were in their 80s when writing that, and lived a decade longer. In the mid-1970s, their parents and grandparents had been dead a long time, and I doubt they were looking at any paperwork when they answered my letters. They gave me a starting point, though, so I’m not complaining. When I look into records, I find:


  • Nicholas Jost (St. Anne, died 23 September 1886, age 86; infer 1800 birth)
  • Elizabeth ______ Jost (St. Anne, died 30 January 1863, age 55; infer 1808 birth)
  • Elizabeth Jost Bruder (St. Anne, died 15 January 1894, age 55; infer 1839 birth) — death certificate infers 1838
  • I don’t have solid death dates, much less cemeteries, for any of Nicholas & Elizabeth’s sons (Mathias, John, & Peter).

1900 & 1890 census

1900 was the first census to specify the immigration year, number of years in the US, and the person’s naturalization status (alien, papers applied for, naturalized). Unfortunately, both parents (Nicholas & Elizabeth), as well as daughter, Elizabeth, died before then. I’m not sure whether Mathias was alive, but I don’t find him in that census. That information isn’t always correct, especially that far back, but it’s usually pretty close. The one possibility I DID find, arrived in 1864, with a wife. That doesn’t fit. The other Josts (see next section) aren’t found, either, so have probably died.

I did find a likely Mathias Jost in the 1890 Veteran’s Schedule.² Unfortunately, that doesn’t help with finding him in 1900, or answer the immigration question. Now let’s take a bigger jump back in the census records.

1850 census and Land Purchase

A Nicholas Yost, (54 — the German “J” is pronounced like a consonant “Y,” so this is a common variation), lived in Manitowoc Rapids with wife, Elizabeth (50), and three children. The 16-year-old son’s name started with “M” and ended with “ST” and is illegible/nonsensical in-between. Daughter Mary was 9, and son, John, was one. John was the only one born in Wisconsin; the others were all Prussia.

Several problems surface with this snapshot of the family. ALL the ages are “off” compared to other sources I consider more reliable:

  • Nicholas by 4 years
  • Elizabeth by 8 years
  • Mathias by 1 or more
  • Mary by 2 or 3
  • John may be pretty close — babies usually are!

Census ages can be notoriously inconsistent, so there’s wiggle room for them. But then there’s the whole name issue. “Mathias” isn’t what the census recorded. Nowhere do I ever see my 2nd great grandmother recorded as anything other than Elizabeth. Why would I think this is the right family?

German naming custom could easily be in play here. On my mom’s side, I’ve got a mother-daughter “Maria Elisabetha” pair, both of whom went by “Elizabeth.” That’s my theory here. “Mary” was actually “Mary Elizabeth” and was either being called Mary by the family as a child, or the enumerator was told “Mary Elizabeth” but only “Mary” was recorded.

Later census records didn’t suggest there was another, similar, family nearby. So, despite the issues with this census data, I feel confident these are my Josts. As mentioned in The Old Homestead, Nicholas purchased a parcel of Homestead land 10 August 1850, so he was obviously in Manitowoc County by then.

The dwelling enumerated before them has a Nicholas (26) and Pete (24) Jost with property of their own. Their relationship to my Jost ancestors is not established, though their ages and proximity suggests they are related. Due to Nicholas & Elizabeth having a son, Peter, in 1853, I believe these twenty-somethings are nephews who arrived in Wisconsin — with them, or separately.

1860 census4

The 1860 census had Nicholas (60) & wife Elizabeth (55— slow aging?) listed with a last name of “Jose.” It seems the “t” at the end wasn’t pronounced clearly enough to be heard by the enumerator! Daughter Elizabeth was out of the house, married to John Bruder. Mathias (24) was not yet married, John was 10 (short a year) and a new child, Peter (7), appeared. Even with the misspelled surname, this family is consistent with the Yost family in 1850.

What about the two Jost men who had lived next to them? I haven’t been able to positively identify either in the 1860 census, or later ones. Several additional Jost families appear in Manitowoc County between 1850 and 1860. Some are new immigrants, some may be these young men, now married. Unfortunately, the marriage indexes show a date and groom’s name, but the bride isn’t linked in that record. It’s difficult to connect her separate record to the right groom. It will take some extra effort, and perhaps a trip to Wisconsin to look at the register books and better track land ownership, to sort out the additional Jost families.

1870 census5

Nicholas, age 70, was living in the household of Mathias & Gertrude Joist [Jost]. Relationships weren’t stated in 1870, but this is likely to be his son, Mathias. Listed below Nicholas was Catherine, age 56. That’s a story for another day, but suffice it to say his wife, Elizabeth, died in 1863, and Nicholas remarried. Below her was 17-year-old Peter, born in Wisconsin. Again, no relationship, but the inference was that he was Nicholas’s son who we saw in 1860. Middle son, John, is out of the picture, but being 20+, this isn’t surprising. I have the same problem with him that I had with the younger Nicholas and older Peter — I can’t be sure if/who he married, so can’t pick him out from the various John Josts in the county. The blended family we see here is certainly consistent with the earlier ones.

1880 census6

In 1880, Nicholas was widowed again, and was now living with his daughter, Elizabeth and her husband, John Bruder. Mathias and family disappeared from Manitowoc County, but this time I tracked him down in Marathon, Wisconsin. His having a bunch of kids really helped me out! It seems my 1850 family is, in fact, the correct one. Throughout the week I discovered (or confirmed) a lot, but not enough.

What I DIDN’T find:

  • Naturalization papers — Those might have an arrival date or ship name, but no, none to be found.
  • Passenger list(s) — Nothing shows up on Ancestry. None of the Josts in the Castle Garden database fit the immigrants I know about. It’s also possible they came up from New Orleans — though I don’t have any documentation or family lore to support that scenario. Maybe they swam.
  • Obituaries — I had hoped the Find-A-Grave memorials might have had obituaries added. Those might have contained information about when they arrived or the town they came from, but no. Newspapers.com didn’t have the years I needed for the county newspapers, so none there, either.
  • Death certificates — All I can find are indexes, and the birthplace is always a generic “Germany.” I don’t know if the actual certificate might be more specific, but I don’t have those.

Why did I spend so much time tracking each census year, instead of trying to find more passenger lists or naturalization records? Those may not exist (at all, or not online), and I may not be able to identify my ancestors in them. I hoped to track everyone forward to a record that would narrow down the year or place. Since my earliest census had some consistency problems, I needed to be sure those family members moved forward in time in a way that connected them to later information (death dates and cemeteries), if I found it. If they couldn’t match up with the later records, then the 1850 family was probably the wrong one. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, none of the immigrants survived to a census with more detailed immigration information! Lousy luck. The six people I was tracking didn’t generate the records that might have helped.

So I didn’t exactly accomplish what I’d set out to. Before this week I had Josts narrowed down to about a 10-year immigration window (between Elizabeth’s (daughter) and John’s births. That really hasn’t changed (1838-1848), and I still don’t know the ship. But looking at this family in a semi-organized way has resolved a couple questions:

  • Nicholas & Pete (from 1850) are likely to be extended family
  • I know what happened to Mathias after 1870 (he moved to Marathon, WI)

It’s also pointed out that I REALLY need to spend more time sorting out the descendants from this line, to get a more complete picture. That’s for another day. Some unexpected pleasant surprises materialized, though:

  • I discovered several more Civil War veterans. They are relatives, not ancestors, but that’s okay.
  • I MAY have discovered Elizabeth’s (mother) maiden name AND the town they emigrated from. If so, that would be huge!

I was looking at my leaf hints (I know, always a risky proposition!) when I noticed Mathias had a hint in the “Saarland, Germany, Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1776-1875” database. I can’t see the full information, or the image, from home, but the birth year is reasonable, and the parents are a Nicolas Jost and Elisabeth Goedert. The birth was recorded in Nenning, Saarland. When I clicked on his sister’s leaf, the same database pops up, with the same parents, same town, and a reasonable birth year for her. The two children in the registers are undoubtedly siblings (same parents). It seems unlikely the birth years would match up so well, if they weren’t my Mathias & Elizabeth. A trip to the library is needed to assess the records, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

If you ever wondered why I spend the time correlating information and filling in the gaps, now you know. Sometimes it pays off, big time!


¹Find-A-Grave, database, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com) accessed 23 June 2019, memorial 155697934, Nick Jost, (unk-1886), Saint Anne Cemetery, Francis Creek, Manitowoc, Wisconsin; photographs by Bev Rockwell.

Find-A-Grave, database, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com) accessed 23 June 2019, memorial 155697971, Elizabeth Jost, (unk-1863), Saint Anne Cemetery, Francis Creek, Manitowoc, Wisconsin; photograph by Bev Rockwell.

Find-A-Grave, database, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com) accessed 23 June 2019, memorial 144417009, Elizabeth Jost Bruder, (1839-1894), Saint Anne Cemetery, Francis Creek, Manitowoc, Wisconsin; photograph by Bev Rockwell.

²1890 U.S. census, “Schedule Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War schedule”, Wisconsin, Marathon, Marathon, e.d. 115; Page n.g. (written); image 1 of 2, line 1, Mathias JOST; Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com) accessed 23 June 2019. Population schedule house number 167, family number 171; NARA publication; M123.

³1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Manitowoc Rapids; Page 44; dwelling number 207; family number 213; line 18; Nicholas YOST household; accessed 17 June 2019. Nicholas YOST, age 54; NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 1002; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).              

Nicholas (age 26) and Pete (age 24) JOST the dwelling and family before them

41860 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth; Page 227; dwelling number 1789; family number 1773; line 27; Nicholas JOSE [JOST] household; accessed 23 June 2019. Nicholas JOSE [JOST], age 60; NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1418; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

51870 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth; Page13; dwelling number 92; family number 85; line 5; Mathias JOST household; accessed 13 June 2019. Nicholas JOIST, age 70; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1723; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

61880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth, e.d. 66; Page 12; dwelling number 104; family number 108; line 12; Mathias BRUDER household; accessed 3 February 2019. Nicklos JUST [JOST], age 75; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1434; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Marathon, Marathon, e.d. 88; Page 11; dwelling number 66; family number 67; line 19; Math. YOST household; accessed 13 June 2019. Math. YOST, age 47 [very faint]; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1433; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

Dear Diary

“I found her diary underneath a tree . . .” -Bread (David Gates)

I wish! There are no Civil War diaries, no On the Way Home (Laura Ingalls Wilder) accounts, or Anne Franks hiding in the branches of my family tree. My mom started keeping a journal decades ago, but the trials and tribulations of the squirrels raiding the bird feeder, the snowplow redepositing snow on the freshly shoveled apron of the driveway, or the progress of the new bank building behind their property do not make riveting reading. Sorry, Mom!

So this will consist of a diary for this week, tracking what research I’m able to do—or not. We’ll see where it takes me. It may not be any more interesting than Mom & the squirrels . . . 

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Dear Diary: We arrive in Orlando for a week in a vacation rental home with our children and grandchildren. This is always a hectic day, with three separate vehicles converging on a single property. We also have two airport pickups. A quick stop at Publix supplies the perishable items for tonight’s dinner—chili. It’s a “first night” staple for us, as it is fairly simple and easily reheated for the late arrivals. One son’s flight was due at 8:30, but storms in Atlanta caused delays, pushing his arrival to midnight. But he got here, which is all that matters.

And yes, he ate chili at 1 AM!

Genealogy: zero. Not good, since the blog is due tomorrow! Fortunately, I’d uploaded images to WordPress before we left home, and had crafted footnotes then, too. I had a start, but was far from complete. For a day that was busy with getting everyone settled, it’s about what I expected.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Dear Diary: Up early, and church. After breakfast, I played air hockey, skee ball, and “rolling pool” (children too young to risk using cues!) in the game room with grandchildren. Then it was pool time. I moved my laptop to the outdoor table, in hopes of working on the blog and not being a stick-in-the-mud. No such luck. The grandkids were having too much fun, so not much blogging was accomplished.

Pool shenanigans make it hard to focus on blog-writing!

After lunch, and packing youngest ones off for a nap (not MY job!), the obligatory Florida afternoon rain arrived (our timing was perfect!). It was time for the serious work of grocery shopping for 11 people for the rest of the week. After sketching out who would cook what, when, a list was created and my middle son and I trekked to Publix. He’s a wonderful cook, but shopping with him is a often scavenger hunt, looking for unusual (for me) ingredients! Two carts and about $200 later, we emerged victorious, with the emergency items of a long-handled turner and a flame-thrower (both needed for the grill).

After bacon cheeseburgers, potato salad, and leftover birthday cake, I headed back to work. With three hours to deadline, it should have been doable. I made the ill-advised decision to bring my laptop to the home theater to watch Ironman 3 with three of my kids. The recliners were a little too comfy, so dozing occurred. Oops! Frantic typing resulted in a published blog 3 hours late. I tumbled into bed at 2:30 AM.

Genealogy: an ugly win is still a win — I’ll take it!

Monday, 10 June 2019

Dear Diary: Up and walking at 6:30 AM. Don’t ask. Next order of business was surreptitious cream puff baking for surprise “Cream Puff Hot Fudge.” It’s a Detroit thing—Google it. Children were packed up for the walk to the community pool—complete with lazy river and water slides.

Lazy river to float on, or swim along with. It was cool and relaxing, and only a 15-minute walk away.

Late morning was a good time for that—neither too hot nor too crowded. An hour or so was enough, then we walked back to our house for lunch. After the late night before, plus morning pool time, a spell in the hot tub seemed like a plan. Another thunderstorm rolled in before the timer ran out, but it was better than nothing.

I took care of some “housekeeping” with the blog, keeping middle son company while he cooked. We enjoyed a selection of Asian dishes for dinner, finishing up with Cream Puffs Hot Fudge.

Fried rice, sweet & sour pork, and a pea salad. Not pictured: rice noodle soup, fried tofu, sautéed shrimp, and vegetable toppings.

Alice in Wonderland entertained the 4-year-old while his little brother got a stroller ride. By the time all the kids settled into bed, the parents had conked out, too. An early night seemed like a good plan for me, after the prior evening’s over-indulgence.

Genealogy: 0, but sometimes we just need to take time to clean up our clutter . . .

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Dear Diary: The house is very quiet, as two adults and two children are victims of an intestinal bug. Hopefully it will resolve itself quickly. In the meantime, a comment to last week’s blog required some research on my part, along with a response. Some catch-up work with the diary entries was needed as well, while memories were still fresh. That was interspersed with jigsaw puzzle work. Yet another cloudburst made us happy we hadn’t intended to spend the week doing theme parks!

I have no idea what dinner was, as I succumbed to the same bug as others that afternoon . . . Fortunately, my children are all excellent cooks, so no one went hungry, I presume. I crashed . . .

Genealogy: good start, followed by a fizzle . . .

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Dear Diary: I survived the night, and everyone else is hale and hearty. After hitting my 10,000 steps and eating breakfast, we walked to the community pool for more lazy river time. Lunch, naps, and a Cars matinee in the home theater—complete with popcorn!

Absurdly large TV with projector on the ceiling, and 12 reclining seats with cup holders
in 3 rows.

Unfortunately, child #3 picked up the bug before dinner.

I watched a genealogy webinar, and after urchins were asleep I started working on the next prompt: Earliest.

Genealogy: back on track, a bit.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Dear Diary: Last trip to the store to fill in grocery gaps. It’s like trying to have the bowls of dip and chips finish simultaneously. How do you feed 11 people so everyone has enough, but it’s all gone on Saturday morning? It’s an art, not a science!

Time for the hot tub, followed by drifting on a raft until the rain. I managed not to be eaten by any of the “water monsters.” Nap time was perfect for doing some research, and I remembered why I have been stymied by the Jost line. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the memo about the Cars3 viewing, so missed it. After dinner were rousing games of Settlers of Catan and Elder Sign.

Genealogy: squeezed a little bit in, but at a cost.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Dear Diary: Last day, and time to start packing up, but more importantly, EAT ALL THE FOOD! Most of it can’t travel with us, so we either eat it or have to throw it out. But first, one last visit to the community pool for water slides and floating down the lazy river! The week’s worth of recyclables were sorted at the landfill, emptying a good section of the kitchen floor. Wet things were dried out, dirty things cleaned up, and storage areas emptied, so we didn’t forget anything. Nevertheless, we took a break for Moana after naps!

Emptyish refrigerator. The three drawers are empty, and most of this will be breakfast or lunch fixings.

Lunch and dinner made an adequate dent on the food stores. Unfortunately, another adult had succumbed to “the bug” early in the day. He recovered enough by the end of the day, so that flying home shouldn’t be a problem. Packed bags made their way into trunks, in an attempt to simplify the morning’s exodus.

Genealogy: pretty much zilch. Too much going on to be able to focus.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Dear Diary: Up at 4:30 AM, so that 2 adults could be shuttled to the airport. Another left shortly afterwards, after pouring sleeping children into their car seats (to hopefully continue sleeping!). Only one family remains, so while they slept, I checked the empty bedrooms and bathrooms (looked under beds, opened drawers and closets) in search of mis-remembered items. Completed rooms were closed up to mark them “done.” Then the final breakfast-cooking, lunch making sprint, emptying the refrigerator, cleaning the kitchen, emptying the trash. Everyone was out of the house by 8 AM, heading home by plane or car.

I swear Atlanta traffic must be payback to Northerners for the sins of Sherman! After 10 hours of driving, we finally stop at our motel outside Knoxville. After a quick dinner, I try to finish the daily entries, so tomorrow is just an editing day.

Genealogy: zero, unless you count blogging.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Dear Diary: Great Smoky Mountains National Park on a weekend in June (specifically Cade’s Cove on Father’s Day!)=bad idea. Lots of traffic in the park, most of it slow. We saw what we needed to, today, and got to the motel a little early. It was a more relaxing day than yesterday. We needed that! Time for final touches on to the blog to end this longish week.

Genealogy: same as yesterday—blog work, not really research—at least, not this week. The results?

Weekly Stats:

  • 9 days
  • 7 adults, 4 children
  • 3 automobiles
  • 2 airline delays
  • 2 birthdays
  • 20 “official” meals
  • 1 Disney jigsaw puzzle
  • 5 6 8 stomach bugs (and one repeat)
  • 4 3 movies
  • 1 National Park
  • rain showers? We lost track, but they didn’t ruin any plans
  • 3 RPGs (Roll Playing Games), at least. Maybe some I missed.

Family history research for the week? Marginal.

Family history memories created? Priceless.

Sometimes it’s important to take a bit of a break.



Once again, I’m thinking in reverse . . .

Rather than write about a person who was named after someone else, I’ve decided to focus on the inspiration for the name.

Growing up, I knew my dad’s oldest brother, Henry, better than any of my other uncles—or aunts, for that matter. He worked with my dad in the rug cleaning business, so I saw him five days a week, in the morning, the afternoon—or both! When I started on genealogy, I learned his middle initial was “U.” As a kid, I couldn’t imagine any name beginning with a “U,” but I soon learned it stood for Urban.

Robert Haws (left) and older brother, Henry Haws (right) over the holidays, some time between 2001 and 2008. After Aunt Mary died in 2001, Uncle Henry moved back to the Chicago suburbs, and the brothers became “partners in crime” once again. Dad provided Henry with transportation to appointments, and they’d enjoy lunch out.

Now, back when Uncle Henry was born, the Catholic Church was very particular about children being baptized with saints’ names. There are eight Pope Urbans, with Urban I being a saint, and II and V being “Blessed” (a step below sainthood—they need more miracles!). There are also a couple “local” St. Urbans, so I can’t really pinpoint which might have been the one he was named after.

During a visit to Sacred Heart Church in Winnetka, Illinois (near Glencoe, the Schweiger stomping ground), I found Henry’s baptism record in the church register. The names were all Latinized, but it was clear that Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Urban Levernier were his godparents. NOW his having Urban for a middle name made sense! Lizzie was the older sister of his mother (Victoria), so Urban was an uncle by marriage.

Urban Alexander Levernier was born 25 January 1887. He was at least eighth out of thirteen (perhaps more) children. The 1900¹ census showed the entire family; parents Honorius and Barbara [Happ], and all the kids, ages 7 months old to 25. His father farmed, with the help of the three older boys, but “Ervin” (yes, his name is often creatively spelled!) was still attending school.

By the 1910² census, his father and sister, Emma, had died (they were both buried in St. Mary cemetery, Highland Park). A brother and two sisters had moved from home (presumably married). Barbara was widowed, head of household, and listed as a farmer. She also said she had 13 children, 12 living. The additional four children included in the 1900 census count were ignored. Urban and his brothers (Matthias, George H., and John) were working on the farm.

Urban married my grandmother’s sister, Elizabeth Schweiger, 23 April 1912, at Sacred Heart Church, in Winnetka, Illinois. When Urban registered for the WWI draft³ in 1917, he was living in Shermerville, but farming for himself in Northfield. It may not have been his mom’s farm, because in 1920,4 he was on Seltzer Road, in Northfield, just down the road from his brother Matthias. Matthias and the two youngest siblings were living with their mother, Barbara—presumably still on the original family farm.

The 1930 census5 placed him on Pine Street, in the town of Glenview. He moved his family into the home in June, 1925:  

Mr. Urban Levernier is the purchaser of the M. Grenning, Jr., house on Pine St. He expects to take possession about June 1.

Glenview” 1 May 1925, Newspapers.com: accessed 9 June 2019, record number: 71504029; citing original p. 13, col. 4. The Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois, online archive (http://www.newspapers.com).

In ten years, his occupation changed from farmer to “contractor, trucking.” From other documents and family stories, I know that he had a “black dirt business.” That’s probably what the census description is referring to.

Shortly before Christmas, 1934, Urban died under unusual circumstances:

Irvin Levernier, 48 years old, was found shot to death early yesterday in the yard of his home at 1153 Pine street, Glenview. A shotgun lay beside him. The police said they believed the death a suicide, but a coroner’s jury returned an open verdict.

“Shot to Death in Glenview ,” 23 December 1934, Newspapers.com: accessed 6 June 2019, record number: 354863040; citing original p. 2 col. 4. Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, online archive (http://www.newspapers.com).

An “open verdict” means the coroner’s jury confirms the death is suspicious, but is unable to reach any other verdicts open to them. That margin of doubt was sufficient to allow for Urban to be buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery, not far from his sister’s grave. If his death had been ruled a suicide, that would not have been permitted in 1935.

Funeral card for Urban Alexander Levernier, 1887-1934. Burial was in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Northbrook.

Urban died before I was born, so I have no first-hand knowledge of him. One thing I know, is that he liked to fish! Ramones1234, at Ancestry.com, shared two photos of Urban, demonstrating that:

Urban A. Levernier, as a somewhat younger man. I don’t know the date, or who the children are, but he clearly made his catch that day! Photo credit Ramones1234.
Urban A. Levernier, 1934. This was earlier in the year in which he died. Only one fish this time, but he seems pleased with it, nevertheless. Photo credit Ramones1234.

My Uncle Henry wasn’t the only person named after Urban. As I was looking through my database, I found:

  • a living grandson of Urban, with Urban for a middle name (son of daughter, Lucy)
  • George “Urbie” Levernier (son of brother, George)
  • Richard Urban Levernier (son of brother, John)
  • Caroll Urban Beinlich (son of sister, Lucy)

It’s entirely possible other, more recent descendants have kept the name alive in the family. I’m not as caught up with that family as I should be. Even though Urban died relatively young (age 47), he left a naming legacy that reached forward several more generations.


¹1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Northfield Township, e.d. 1176; Page 2A; dwelling number 75; family number 78; line 21; Honory LEVERNIER household; accessed 7 June 2019. Ervin LEVERNIER, age 14, January 1886 (written over 1887 and 13); NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 294; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Northfield, e.d. 63; Page 4A; dwelling number 40; family number 41; line 9; Barbara LAVERNIER household; accessed 7 June 2019. Irvin A. LAVERNIER, age 23; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 238; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³Urbin LEVERNIER, serial no. 1162, order no. 61, Draft Board 1, Cook County, Illinois, 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. 1504100. accessed 7 June 2019

41920 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Northfield, e.d. 137; Page 6A; dwelling number 99; family number 99; line 7; Urbin SAVERNIER household; accessed 7 June 2019. Urbin SAVERNIER, age 33; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 358; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

51930 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glenview, e.d. 16-2236; Page 4A; dwelling number 73; family number 75; line 33; Urbin LEVERNEIR household; accessed 7 June 2019; NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 528; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).


At the Cemetery

“Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and
epitaphs.”―William Shakespeare, Richard II

Any genealogist worth his or her salt has accumulated an extensive collection of cemeteries. We spend an inordinate amount of time traipsing around them, searching for the names, birth and death dates, spouses and children of our elusive relatives. We come out with ticks; flea, chigger, and mosquito bites; twisted ankles; sunburn; poison ivy (if we are really unlucky); and dirty fingernails from pulling back the grass from the headstones so we can photograph them.

Despite all the energy expended, we don’t necessarily find the information we were hoping for! Sometimes the headstone is missing—or so worn it may as well be gone. Sometimes the people aren’t actually there. No, we don’t always know where the bodies are buried! Sometimes the headstone is there . . . and also in another cemetery . . . because the family couldn’t quite decide/agree about where the person should be buried.

Cemeteries come in all shapes and sizes, but they tend to have their own personalities, too. That’s mostly a function of how old it is, where in the country it is located, and the type of headstones or monuments placed in it. An above ground cemetery in New Orleans feels much different than a colonial cemetery in Massachusetts, or a prairie cemetery in Illinois. One isn’t necessarily better or worse—just different!

Then there are cemeteries with split personalities. You know, the ones parked right next to each other, pretending to be two cemeteries, but you know deep down it’s really just one cemetery with two different halves. It’s a lot like your college dorm room with the roommate you barely got along with. There may not have been masking tape down the middle of the floor, but there may as well have been. One half was “yours” and the other half wasn’t—and you really needed to stay off that side!

I have one of those cemeteries in my family; Mooney/St. Mary on  Ridge Road, Highland Park, Illinois, just north of Deerfield Road. In Chicagoland, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a “St. Mary Cemetery” somewhere. Unless you are very careful to distinguish one from the other, people will be confused about which one you mean. Even though Mooney/St. Mary is across the county line, in Lake County, it’s close enough that you still want to be careful. Consequently, one usually hears the combined name used.

St. Mary is obviously a Catholic cemetery; Mooney is not. I have people buried in both. Each has a road that loops into the cemetery and back to Ridge Road. The two loops aren’t connected, but there’s also no fence separating the two properties. I learned about them in the mid-late 1970s, and have been there several times, though my first photos weren’t taken until October, 1996. On the St. Mary side, I have:

  • Stephen Charles Meintzer, second cousin, a twin who died at birth on 5 January 1947. He’s on a headstone with his parents (my godparents)
  • Willard Charles Meintzer, Mom’s cousin, 12 September 1922-6 November 1981  and
  • Lois E. Palmer Meintzer, 20 July 1923-12 September 2004.
Willard Charles Meintzer, 12 September 1922-6 November 1981; his wife, Lois E. Palmer Meintzer, 20 July 1923-12 September 2004; one of their twins, Stephen Charles Meintzer, died at birth, 5 January 1947. Photo taken 1996, Christine Bauman.

Heading over to the Mooney side, we find:

  • Jacob Meintzer, (Willard’s father) 12 February 1876-24 August 1949 (Bearded and Nature)
  • Caroline Frances Trute Meintzer, (Willard’s mother) January or March 1886-9 October 1929    and their 2nd youngest son
  • Lowell H. Meintzer, April 1914-8 February 1939, in California, from TB
Jacob Meintzer, 1876-1949; and wife, Caroline Trute Meintzer, 1886-1929. Photo taken 1996, Christine Bauman.
Lowell H. Meintzer, 1914-1939; son of Jacob & Carrie. Photo taken 1996, Christine Bauman.

Along with Jacob’s oldest sister, 

  • Sophie Meintzer Kranz (Valentine), 3 May 1868-12 December 1963, her husband
  • Edward M. Kranz, 1 February 1855-23 March 1939, and one of their sons
  • August Albert Kranz, 17 June 1899-16 June 1999 (yes, the day before his 100th birthday!)
Edward Kranz, 1855-1939; wife Sophie Meintzer Kranz, 1868-1963; son August, 1899-1999. Photo taken 1996, Christine Bauman.

And another sister,

  • Carolina Meintzer Kranz, 20 January 1872-20 February 1965, her husband (Edward’s brother)
  • Adam Henry Kranz (In the News), 1 April 1863-2 April 1955
Adam Henry Kranz, 1864-1955; and wife Carolina Meintzer, 1872-1965. Photo taken 1996, Christine Bauman.

Lastly, we find the parents of the three of them

  • Christian Meintzer (Colorful), 3 April 1830-28 January 1922 and
  • Sophia Gaertner Meintzer (My Favorite Photo), 17 August 1842-7 September 1913
Christian Meinzter, 3 April 1830-28 January 1922, next to wife. Photo taken 1996, Christine Bauman.
Sophia Gaertner Meintzer, 16 September 1842-7 September 1913. Photo taken 1996, Christine Bauman.

Even when we think we know where our people are buried, cemeteries like to surprise us! When Lois (my godmother) died in 2004, I was at a point in life where I could actually get up to a funeral with minimum disruption to our household. Mike ran point on parenting the children still at home, and I drove up to my parents’ house. My cousin Janice (who lived closer, but had younger kids) was at Lois’s Funeral Mass with her young daughter, and went to St. Mary Cemetery for the graveside service.

We chatted a bit after the service, and I casually mentioned that our great-grandparents, Christian & Sophia, were buried in the “other” cemetery. Janice had no idea, so we decided to walk over so she could see. There’s no fence separating the two cemeteries, remember? We found the headstones easily enough, and I was explaining that Aunt Sophie & Aunt Carrie were also nearby. As I did a sweeping motion and turn to indicate they were “somewhere over there,” my eyes landed on Catharine Smith—Aunt Kate (Favorite Name)—on the other side of the drive. Surprise!

“Oh, look! Here’s Aunt Kate. I didn’t know she was here, too!” Granted, “Catharine Smith”¹ isn’t the most unusual name in the world, but fortunately her second husband was named Morton—far less common! Even without having her birth and death dates handy, I knew it was her.

Catharine Meintzer Warren Smith, 11 March 1865-29 April 1949 and 2nd husband Morton N. Smith, 6 November 1865-15 June 1930. Photo credit L. Winslow on Find A Grave.¹

Just like people, cemeteries have histories, too. As I was writing this, I got to wondering about the two cemeteries; how they started and how they are related, since they are literally “joined at the hip.”

Mooney Cemetery started in 1899,² when the old St. Mary’s of the Woods church (near Green Bay and Lincoln), and the churchyard around it, were sold for development. The church was abandoned when the congregation relocated in 1872, and no one was really keeping up the cemetery. With the property sale, remains had to be removed and relocated. John Mooney retrieved the remains of his father (James, who died in the 1850s) and other family members, and reinterred them on a section of his land on Ridge Road. He allowed others to add their family members. Mooney Cemetery was born. The land was officially surveyed in 1907.

A similar plat map was created for St. Mary Cemetery in 1908, when John Mooney transferred land south of Mooney Cemetery to the Archdiocese of  Chicago, retaining Mooney as a private cemetery. It remained private until 1960, when Cecilia Zahnle Mooney deeded the property to Deerfield Township (now Moraine Township).

Apparently, the record-keeping for Mooney was a bit of a mess. It consisted of typed index cards (undated), with notes overwritten (undated), sometimes with a contradictory index card (ALSO undated!). The original plot sales were recorded at the county seat (Waukegan), but later transfers were not. Attempts in the past to confirm grave locations and ownership had questionable success, and lots sold more recently have sometimes had to be reassigned when it was discovered they were already occupied!

The grave markers don’t necessarily provide much help, either. Tombstones (if present) were haphazardly placed—sometimes at the head of the grave, sometimes at the foot, and not always exactly lined up with the grave. For new burials, they use a special rod to determine if a vault is already below the grave they intend to use. During the winter that process can take all day—undoubtedly due to frozen ground.

A Winter 2010 Township Newsletter asked residents to bring in original deeds, so the records could be updated with hopefully more accurate information. By the Summer Issue 2010,³ they were talking about bringing in an expert to examine the property (ground-penetrating radar?) to determine what was going on beneath the surface.

I couldn’t locate any later articles to see what the results were,  but they seem to be making an effort to straighten out the burial records. Both cemeteries seem nicely kept up, so I’m happy some family members are there. I’m also glad I took a little time to find out more about both cemeteries. It’s nice to know the backstory of people’s final resting place.


Note: St. Mary is managed by the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Cemeteries. On that website, it is listed as “St. Mary.” If you look at Find A Grave, they list it as “St. Marys” (no apostrophe). Other writers may add in an apostrophe. I chose to use the spelling of the Archdiocese, which is consistent with the name chiseled on the rock at the cemetery entrance (viewable in Google Maps street view)—which isn’t necessarily an old marker! Even if others weren’t consistent, I wanted to be.

¹Find-A-Grave, database, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com) accessed 1 June 2019, memorial 23770538, Catharine SMITH, (1865-1949), Mooney Cemetery, Highland Park, Lake, Illinois.

²”Mooney,” Talk of the Township, Winter Issue 2010, online posting of article at the Moraine Township, Illinois web site. (https://www.morainetownship.org/super/CemMooney_article.html)

³”Mooney,” Talk of the Township, Summer Issue 2010, online posting of article at the Moraine Township, Illinois web site. (https://www.morainetownship.org/super/CemMooney_article.html)


Something new always pops up . . .

USS Alchiba, AKA-6. Image linked to the Wikipedia article² for the ship.

As I prepare a post for publication I try to confirm (as best I can):

  • the facts are accurate
  • my spelling is correct
  • the story will make sense to someone having no background with my family
  • I’ve filled in as many gaps as possible with additional research
  • my logic and analysis are sound
  • necessary links and footnotes are in place

Unfortunately, life intervenes on a regular basis, pushing my writing right up to—sometimes past—my scheduled publishing time! Yesterday was no exception. That post had a lot of moving parts I needed to line up, so it took longer than I anticipated.

As I worked on it, I thought I remembered seeing the name of the ship bringing Bob, Spike, and Cliff back to the states, but I couldn’t find it. I checked and double checked the papers and notes I had from Mom, the Christmas cards from Cliff’s wife, Esther, but it wasn’t there. I decided I must have been mistaken, and left it as a mystery. I was okay with that.

So today I was cleaning up and sorting through some papers on a different table, and what pops up, but a 3″ x 6″ paper with:

David Gaillard: went over on this ship

USS Elsheba: came back on this one

<Forehead thump>

Seriously? Why couldn’t I find this yesterday?? A ship’s name meant I could check for more information, so I started with a quick Google search. No Elsheba but there was an Alchiba in the Navy during WWII. The spelling was wrong, but the pronunciation worked. Was this the ship they were on? The “War Diaries” on Fold3 described her mechanical issues and the attempts to solve them:¹

In June of 1944 the Alchiba returned to the states for repairs to her engines. This was to mark the end of the Alchiba’s active part in the Pacific, for newer ships were brought in to replace the older war-tattered ones. She was placed in the Service Squadron of the Pacific and continued carrying supplies to the advanced bases, making two trips, one to Espiritu Santo and one to Ulithi atoll, taking in Guam and the Philippines.

It sounded promising! The Wikipedia article² tied in even better with my dad’s timeline;

On 30 May [1944], Alchiba entered the Moore Dry Dock Company, Oakland, California, to undergo extensive alterations and repairs. The work was completed late in August, and the cargo ship got underway for sea trials in San Francisco Bay. Engine trouble developed during these tests, and the ship returned to the yard on 1 September for further repairs. She took on cargo at the Hunters Point Navy Yard on the 22nd and sailed once again for Espiritu Santo.

While en route, the ship experienced more engine problems, but she reached her destination on 9 October and commenced repair work. This process continued until early November, when the vessel shaped a course back to San Francisco. She arrived at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California, on the 29th and underwent extensive repairs to her main engine.

So . . . not a bent screw, but engine problems. That could certainly slow her down. The Alchiba arrived in Espiritu Santo 9 October, but repairing her mechanical problems prevented her leaving as scheduled on the 13th. “Early November” could easily accommodate their 7 November departure, and arriving in San Francisco on the 29th is dead-on with the information I had. I think we have a match!

I was unable to locate any records documenting the guys actually being on that ship—no transit list or transfer documentation. Finding something like that would have put a lovely bow on the whole story, but sometimes it’s not to be. Perhaps I’ll find those records digitized some day, but in the meantime, I’m happy to have reduced my mysteries by one!


¹”World War II War Diaries, 1941-1945″, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.fold3.com), accessed 27 May 2019, dated n.g.; USS Alchiba, image 302745269; citing World War II War Diaries, Other Operational Records and Histories, compiled ca. 01/01/1942 – ca. 06/01/1946, documenting the period ca. 09/01/1939 – ca. 05/30/1946; Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Record Group Number 38, ARC ID: 4697018, roll 1970; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

²Wikipedia contributors, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org), “USS Alchiba (AKA-6),”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Alchiba_(AKA-6) (accessed 27 May 2019).


“The difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes — eh — a little bit longer.”
― U.S. Navy Seabees Construction Battalions WWII

Four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, my dad, Robert William Haws, turned nineteen. I’m sure he saw the handwriting on the wall when FDR declared war the next day. His older brother, George, had enlisted in the Army prior to Pearl Harbor, but Bob knew, as an unmarried young man, he was likely to be called up early. He registered for the draft 16 February 1942.¹

Rather than wait to be drafted, he decided to take matters into his own hands and enlisted on 19 August 1942. That allowed him to choose the service branch he wanted (Navy), instead of whatever Uncle Sam decided. He always said he chose the Navy because the uniforms fit better than Army uniforms, but it made sense for a couple other reasons. As a teen, he joined the Sea Scouts, so had experience with that. Great Lakes Naval Base (the nearest training center) was only thirteen miles away—not too far from family and girlfriend.

Robert Haws as a Sea Scout. Year undetermined, but around 1938 or 39, maybe? Sea Scouts currently encompasses ages 14-20, I don’t know if it was different in the late 1930s

According to notes my mom made, Bob had five weeks of “boot camp” at Great Lakes, followed by nine days leave before starting Storekeepers School back at the base. That service school lasted sixteen weeks, completing on 22 February 1943.

Storekeeper Class, January 1943, Great Lakes. Bob Haws is 2nd from the left, in the 2nd row from the top. In the middle of the bottom row is Cliff, destined to be a life-long friend.

Bob left Great Lakes four days later, and was on a train headed for the West Coast 4 March 1943. My parents were a pretty serious item at that point, and Mom was willing to get married before he left. He said no, he didn’t want her to possibly be a widow, potentially with a child to raise. Nor did they get engaged, because he didn’t think it fair for her to be tied down while he was overseas. Her behavior would have been under scrutiny at home, whereas his—not so much. He didn’t plan on “misbehaving,” but realistically, what happened in the Pacific could stay in the Pacific. They exchanged lovers knot “promise rings,” however, and wrote regularly.

The next part of his timeline is a little sketchier. Bob & Cliff left San Francisco the 29th of April aboard the USS David Gaillard (hull# 441, built in Richmond, California).² The ship crossed the Equator on 10 May 1943, but due to security concerns, Bob’s Neptune certificate lists the longitude “secret,” headed for “A mission of war in the South Pacific Ocean.” He may not have known the longitude at the time, either.

Neptune certificate for crossing the Equator the first time. The original exceeded my scanner bed. It had to be scanned in sections and stitched back together!

The ship was headed for New Caledonia. Bob and Cliff made a practice of stashing a couple pieces of fresh fruit in their “ditty” bags, which presumably would go with them if they needed to abandon ship. They put that day’s fruit in, and ate the fruit they’d put in the day before. A number of Liberty Ships had sunk, some due to possible enemy attack, some due to fatigue failures.  My metallurgist brother educated me about those issues in 2005, but Bob & Cliff wouldn’t have known reasons in 1943. They just knew there was a risk, and didn’t want to starve, waiting to be rescued. Fortunately, it never came to that!

My mom’s notes next mention he was in Noumea, New Caledonia, on 29 May, which fits with her comment that it was a “31 day trip from the states.” They lived in tents in the hills, and had pesky mosquitoes. Orders arrived 24 June to leave for the New Hebrides—specifically, Air Center Command, Navy 140 on Espiritu Santo (now the island of Vanuatu).

Long before Survivor brought the show to Vanuatu (Lelepa Island, off the northwest coast of Efate), the United States brought the Seabees (referenced above in the subtitle) to Espiritu Santo to clear the jungle and build an airstrip. More construction followed, including quonset huts designated for the supply depot.³

My parents’ bookshelves held a 1977 book titled Journey to the End of the World: A Three-Year Adventure in the New Hebrides.8 It was written by Charlene Gourguechon and had nothing to do with World War II. Rather, she described the native people of Espiritu Santo, their culture and beliefs. Not many books are written about the island, though, so my dad bought a copy. A map of the island faced the title page, and my dad attached a post-it note at the bottom of it:

Map facing the title page of the book. Notice that my dad added a label “NSD” (Naval Supply Depot) for the NE peninsula. That caused some confusion for me. I believe it’s pointing to the wrong location, but I think I know what happened. Read my theory below.
Note on the title page: “I arrived in New Caledonia in April 1943. We waited 2 weeks for a ship to Espiritu Santo. We opened a Naval Aviation Supply Depot, the first one in the Pacific. We supplied all carrier and land based planes from 24 40′ x 100′ warehouses + jungle storage. Left for California November 1944. Dad” They actually LEFT the USA in April, arriving at New Caledonia in May.

I wandered around the Internet (particularly Fold3.com) trying to locate corroboration for the note and map label. Dad had a good memory, and  was really good with directions, so I trusted his labeling, but it had been 30+ years! The location he marked for the depot seemed a long way from Luganville, where the airstrip and port were located. To me it seemed inefficient to transport supplies to the opposite side of the island, and then back to where they started, for use or to ship elsewhere.

Fold3 had lots of documentation about the island (we’re talking hundreds of declassified pages!), including a map (below)6 of the base area. One page described the supply depot being located on Pallikulo Bay—which I promptly looked for. There it was, east of Luganville, on the tip of the “thumb.” It was a peninsula pointing north, similar to the one Dad had marked, just smaller—too small to be seen on the book’s map! While there were roads heading north on the island, nothing else I read seemed to indicate the supply depot was at the north end. If Dad had seen a better (larger) map of the island, I’m sure he would have caught the mistake himself, and corrected it.

Photo credit: Fold3.com, “World War II War Diaries, 1941-1945” 6

The Navy Muster Rolls7 on Fold3 provided a quarterly snapshot of where Bob was, and his rank while in the South Pacific:

  • 30 June 1943—SK3c (storekeeper 3rd class)4 at US Air Center, Ebon-Aviation Supply Annex, Field Torpedo Unit #17, received at Receiving Station, Noumea, New Caledonia
  • 16 September 1943—US Air Center Command, Navy 140, change in rank to SK2c, V6—”V6″ may indicate General Service and Specialists (USNR classification)5
  • 31 December 1943—SK2c (V6), US Air Center Command, Espiritu Santo
  • 31 March 1944—SK1c, V6, US Air Center Command, Espiritu Santo
  • 15 June 1944—change in rank to SKV1c, V6. US Air Center Command, Espiritu Santo. The “V” in the first part was added to indicate Aviation Branch
  • 20 September 1944—SKV1c, V6

We have a letter (undated) from D. D. Hunt, Officer in Charge, to The Commander, Air Center, Espiritu Santo, recommending that Robert Haws be promoted to SK1c, 3½ months early, effective 1 March 1944. The rational to waive the standard time was:

Haws has been in charge of building #14 with direct responsibility for the arrangement of and the development of considerable storage facilities. His good judgment in this respect has been amply demonstrated by many compliments on the appearance and outlay of his stocks. His initiative has never been dimmed by the volume or condition of the stocks poured into his building. He has assumed the qualifications and responsibilities of a first class storekeeper.

Pretty good, for 22½! Of course, he had help, and certainly wasn’t the only storekeeper on the island:

Undated (June 1943-October 1944) photo of the Aviation Supply Depot guys. Bob Haws is in the back row, far left. I don’t think we had names for the others.

Life at the Supply Depot wasn’t all work, however. The guys developed friendships with the locals: Bob Haws Like Brothers

They also had time for fun and games:

Note on back: “Shipwreck sailors or something.”
Poker was always popular, though Cribbage came in a close second. Bob Haws is 2nd from the right. One of the others is “Spike” Haessly. I’m not sure about the rest.

After a year and a half overseas, the guys finally were scheduled for home leave. Bob, Spike, and Cliff transferred to a Receiving Ship (RS) 13 October 1944. Unfortunately, they couldn’t obtain passage back until 7 November! They waited and waited, frustrated by the delay. The return ship’s name is lost to us. Apparently it also had a bent screw and could make only 8 knots. Perhaps they simply tried to forget that trip?

They slid under the Golden Gate Bridge 29 November 1944. A new waiting game began, this time for seats on a train to Chicago. They finally arrived 16 December 1944. Bob’s next assignment would be states-side, so he proposed to Ardyth by mail. He could bring a spouse with him, if she wanted, but his leave wasn’t very long. She needed to make arrangements before he arrived. You’ll find that next chapter in Going to the Chapel.

My dad never joined any of the veteran’s organizations after the war. I don’t think he regretted the time in the service, but he didn’t seem to want to rehash it, either. He certainly left the Navy with a number of very good friends, despite them being scattered around the country. Their shared experience created a bond that survived time and distance.

An update to the post can be found here.


¹”Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Multiple Registrations”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.fold3.com), Robert William HAWS, serial no. 1497, order no. 10620, Draft Board 1, Lake County, Illinois; citing WWII Draft Registration Cards for Illinois, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Microfilm Roll: 44008_14_00104; accessed 25 May 2019.

²Wikipedia contributors, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org), “List of Liberty ships (A–F),” https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_Liberty_ships_(A%E2%80%93F)&oldid=877812245 (accessed 26 May 2019).

Ship name  SS David Gaillard Namesake David Gaillard MC Hull # 441 Ship type standard Laid down 5 November 1942 Launched 14 December 1942 Fate Scrapped 1971

³Otto Torriero, Patrick Clancey, Larry W. Jewell, Hyperwar: A Hypertext History of the Second World War (http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/), accessed 24 May 2019, “Chapter XXIV, Bases in the South Pacific,” (https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/Building_Bases/bases-24.html), pages 228-232.

4 http://uniform-reference.net/insignia/usn/usn_ww2_enl_aviation.html

5Navy History and Heritage Command. https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/u/us-navy-abbreviations-of-ww2/v.html

6“World War II War Diaries, 1941-1945”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.fold3.com), accessed 25 May 2019, dated n.g.; Naval Air Center Command, Espiritu Santo, image 302005027; citing World War II War Diaries, Other Operational Records and Histories, compiled ca. 01/01/1942 – ca. 06/01/1946, documenting the period ca. 09/01/1939 – ca. 05/30/1946; Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Record Group Number 38, ARC ID: 4697018, roll 2046; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

7“U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.fold3.com), accessed 22 May 2019, Robert William HAWS entry, dated 30 June 1943-20 September 1944; Air Center, Ebon – Aviation Supply Annex, Field Torpedo Unit #17, Report of Changes, assorted images; citing Muster Rolls of U.S. Navy Ships, Stations, and Other Naval Activities, 01/01/1939-01/01/1949; Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Record Group Number 24, ARC ID: 594996, roll 32664_b042818 of 10,230 rolls; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

8Gourguechon, Charlene. Journey to the End of the World: A Three-Year Adventure in the New Hebrides (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1977).


“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”—Albert Einstein

When my grandfather, Christoph Meintzer (Storms), was born in the Riverwoods, in 1888, his parents’ Lake County, Illinois (Vernon Township), farm house was situated on a road (lane?) angling northwest just north of the intersection of Deerfield and Saunders Roads. The last census (1910) when the family lived there did not show a street name or address, as I’m sure all the nearby properties were farms. It is now named Riverwoods Road.

In the late 1970s or early 1980s, my mom drove me past Christoph’s childhood home—visible from the road. It was easy enough to find, despite Mom not knowing the road name or house address, because she remembered it being just down the road from the Orphans of the Storm animal shelter. That shelter opened in 1928, and she remembered it when her father would drive them to his old house.

I now regret not turning into the driveway or pulling over to snap a photograph, because it appears the house has since then been torn down and replaced by a newer home. I have only two photographs with the house faintly in the background. Extended cousins, if you have a better photo of Christian & Sophia’s house, I’d be delighted to have a copy!

When my grandfather was growing up, there were woods in front (south) of the house. Presumably he played there after chores were done, and honed his hunting skills when he was older, adding squirrels or other game to the family’s table. The Des Plaines River was two miles away, providing an excellent fishing spot. One way or another, most aspects of his life were tied to nature.

How do I “know” any of this, since he died when I was eight? Trust me, I recall no conversations with him about those topics! Yet he left a trail of seemingly random bread crumbs that help paint a picture of him, if we pay attention.

His love of fishing was legendary, and I have numerous photos of him holding a stringer of fish. According to Uncle Gail’s information when I was researching the postcard from Arkansas (So Far Away), his dad sometimes traveled to Arkansas to fish!

Christoph Meintzer (right), his son, Gail, and the catch of the day. My dad snapped this photo, taken between 1957 and 1964, somewhere near Green Bay. Minnie died in the summer of 1958, so if Gail is correct in remembering her coming along to visit that trip, then it must have been 1957. If he’s mistaken about her presence, then the wider range in the quote below is possible.

When I emailed my uncle about this photo, he replied,

. . . 1957 and it was during the time we lived in that place that your Mother & Dad came up with your family and my Dad [Christoph] & Mother [Minnie] and the three of us went fishing. My Dad didn’t want to fish in the small lake I took them to, so your Dad [Bob] got out of the car, made 1 cast and caught a 3 or 4 pound Bass, and my Dad almost broke his leg trying to get out of the car to start fishing. Most of the fish on the stringers were Bull Heads. We spent a couple of hours cleaning them when we got home and then ate them. I would recall the year was between 1957 and 1960.

Christoph also hunted in his younger days. That definitely gets you out in nature! At least one postcard to Minnie while they were courting mentioned his plans to go hunting the next Sunday. A later postcard from Minnie’s sister-in-law, Caroline, mentioned her husband, Jake (Christoph’s brother) was going hunting on Sunday, and did Christ (short “i”, remember?) want to go along? My mom never mentioned having fresh game meat while growing up, so perhaps as the north suburbs of Chicago became more populated, hunting was less successful? Or maybe Forest Preserves and incorporating towns effectively “outlawed” hunting.

I imagine by now you’re wondering why there’s a photo of mushrooms at the top. Well, it turns out Christoph liked hunting mushrooms, too! He took my mom and her brother with him when they were kids, back to the woods across the street from his parents’ former farmhouse. She remembered the animal shelter, so could always find her way back, even 50 years later. The siblings ran around and had an adventure, while their dad searched for mushrooms.  

Mom didn’t remember what kind of mushrooms he looked for, and the kids never got to taste them. He always told them it was because there were mushrooms that were safe to eat, and ones that weren’t, but he didn’t want to risk them accidentally getting sick. She said he cooked them with a silver dime that was somehow supposed to indicate whether or not they were safe.

It’s a totally bogus method, and does not work. I’m being intentionally vague about the supposed technique, so you are not tempted by it. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! My opinion is that he simply wanted the mushrooms for himself, and “possibly not being safe” was a convenient way to justify the kids not getting any!

If I would have asked my grandpa if Nature was important to him, or influenced his life, I’d wager he’d have given me a funny look. He’d have wondered what on earth I was talking about! Yet nature wove itself through his life, perhaps without his noticing. That same thread continued on through later generations, manifesting in one way or another: fishing, camping, golfing, marathoning, gardening. None of his descendants use their “outdoors gene” (is there such a thing?) the same way, but it regularly shows up in our lives.