“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!
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.
Verb: care for and encourage the growth or development of.
help or encourage the development of.
cherish (a hope, belief, or ambition).
Noun: the process of caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something.
upbringing, education, and environment, contrasted with inborn characteristics as an influence on or determinant of personality.
The definition describes only a fraction of what’s involved in nurturing. Are there people who have no one to nurture them? Sadly, yes. Are there others not being nurtured by those who should be nurturing them, but have others come into their life and provide what’s necessary? Fortunately, yes!
I think there’s another group, though, who are nurtured, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, find themselves feeling unnurtured. It can have a lifelong effect. I think my father-in-law may fit in that category.
Now, I’ll admit I’m skating on really thin ice, here! I never met the man— he died 3 years and a day before I married his son. Mike and I knew each other when his father died, but we weren’t dating, yet. Other than a few photos and documents, most of what I know about him is second hand.
You already met Gerald Bauman in Where There’s a Will. His mother, Mildred Fitzgerald Carmody, died a month after his birthday, and Jerry (yes, it’s “G” for his full name, “J” for the nickname!) was adopted by his first cousin, Anna Carmody, and her husband, Frank Bauman.
Anna and Frank married 13 January 1919, in Toledo, Ohio.² Frank was 9 years older than Anna. She had been married before, to a Julius Klammer and was granted a divorce from him 30 March 1918, on grounds of desertion.³ There’s more to his story, but that’ll be another day.
Julius and Anna married in 1908.4 I found a potential Julius in the WWI draft registration in 1917 who listed a “wife and child.”5 I never knew them to have children, but could this be my Anna? Did they have a child I don’t know about, or did he simply make up a child to appear less draftable? Maybe. There were a lot of unanswered questions, so I went digging.
The 1920 census doesn’t show any child in the household of the recently married Anna and Frank. It seems unlikely to me Julius would desert Anna and take a child with him. Maybe I’m wrong. It’s also possible this is a different Julius Klammer, but the name is distinct enough, I think not. I haven’t noticed others. I had trouble finding Julius and Anna in the 1910 census, but obsessive creative searching located them in Flint (NOT Port Huron or Detroit—more obvious places). 1910 was the second (and last) census where married women were asked how many children they HAD and how many were currently LIVING. Anna had one—and zero.6 Now that I had a new location for them, a search at SeekingMichigan.org found their son, Bernard, who died New Year’s Day, 1910, little more than a month before his first birthday.
So, why does that backstory matter to Jerry? As best I can tell, Anna and Frank had no biological children. The opportunity to adopt Jerry in 1928 was probably a dream come true—an answer to Anna and Frank’s prayers. He is the only child in their household for the 19307 and 19408 censuses.
Nothing I’ve heard from Mike about Anna and Frank suggested that Jerry had any negative feelings for them. Presumably he was properly nurtured by them, and did maintain a relationship for a time with his older brothers, Michael and Joseph, placed with other families after Millie’s death.
Unfortunately, another untimely death complicated things. Frank Bauman died 18 July 1936 of “carcinoma—hepatic” when Jerry was only 8. That left Anna a widow in the middle of the Depression. How she made ends meet, I don’t know, but she and Jerry continued to live in Port Huron, with extended Carmody relations nearby—including Jerry’s birth father.
In 1940, death landed on Jerry’s doorstep, again. This time it was his adoptive mother, Anna. Some time that spring, she was diagnosed with kidney problems. She died 4 November 1940, of chronic nephritis that had been diagnosed 6 months earlier. Being widowed and in ill health, she presumably spent time that spring and summer making arrangements for 12-year-old Jerry’s care, if she were to die.
We don’t know who she approached to take him in. His oldest brother, Michael, was just turning 18, so really wouldn’t have been in a position to be able to take care of Jerry. There were numerous older half siblings (from John Joseph’s first wife) in Port Huron. They might have have been potential guardians for him, but none agreed to serve as such.
They ranged in age from 57 to 42, so some were already empty nesters, the others still dealing with their own teenagers. Either group may not have wanted to add another person to the mix. The Depression was also still going strong, so it’s possible those families really didn’t have the wherewithall to feed and clothe a teenage boy. If they were barely scraping by, another person might have been too much to take on.
Unfortunately, Jerry’s biological father, John Joseph Carmody, had died 4 January that year, of brachio pneumonia, almost age 78. At that age, he certainly wouldn’t have been able (or expected) to take Jerry in, but would he have been able to convince one of his other children to do so? Who knows? Maybe. Maybe not. But he died before Anna knew she was sick, so was of no help.
Bottom line, Anna was unable to find someone to agree to take Jerry in. Her will named Rollin B. Stocker executor and guardian for Jerry. Jerry spent time at the Starr Commonwealth (a children’s home, still in existence) in Albion, Michigan. This, of course uprooted him from his school and friends in Port Huron.
Actually, I never knew the home’s name, and had always thought it was in St. Clair, a town about 12 miles “down river” from Port Huron— not 160 miles away! Jerry graduated from the St. Clair High School, so I assumed it was there, and no one told me differently. Fortunately, we just spent two weeks cruising to and from Hawaii with Mike’s brother and his wife, so we had several conversations where the guys were able to “compare notes” about their memories. Each had heard (or maybe remembered?) different details from their dad. It wasn’t necessarily contradictory information, just different. Mike’s brother mentioned foster homes— something else I had never heard! Presumably the last one was in St. Clair.
Obviously, being orphaned had a huge impact on Jerry. According to Mike, his dad felt anger and resentment that none of the Carmodys took him in after Anna died. We don’t know how much Jerry did or didn’t know about Anna’s search for a replacement family for him. Maybe he heard all the details, or maybe she gave him only the Cliff Notes version.
Realistically, if you’re a 12-year-old kid about to be orphaned, it doesn’t really matter how good the reasons might be—or not be—for the adults around you not to take you in. All that matters is that you are losing your last parent, and no one wants you. You are feeling unwanted, unloved, and definitely not feeling nurtured! It’s a hard enough age under the best of circumstances—and his certainly weren’t the best!
I don’t know that Jerry had any animosity towards Stocker; he was just a man doing his job. He looked out for Jerry and his interests (assets held until adulthood). He wasn’t family, though, and didn’t make up for them.
Jerry left high school early to join the Army, 5 November 1945 (age 17), and was honorably discharged 12 May 1947. He was awarded his high school diploma 11 June 1947, though he has the programs for all the Commencement activities (19 May-7 June, 1946) and the Honors Convocation held 28 May. He was already in the Army, so couldn’t have attended any of them. Someone must have saved those for him.
He and moved to Detroit shortly after his 1947 graduation. He didn’t keep in touch with the Port Huron Carmodys. Both full brothers had also moved away: Michael to Seattle, and Joseph to Pennsylvania, so he didn’t have a particular reason to stay in Port Huron. Since the three brothers hadn’t been raised together, I don’t know how much they kept in contact with each other as adults. Nor did Jerry reestablish contact with his Carmody half siblings, as an adult. That wound from his youth never fully healed, and was clearly expressed to Mike, as an older teen. His feelings mirror his father’s, in not wanting to connect with the descendants of these families. I’m not sure if that will extend to the Carmody descendants still in Ireland, but I’ll cross that bridge when I actually locate some!
This whole story makes me sad, though. Everyone has lost out, due to this rift. I’m not about to lay blame on anyone—not Anna, not the Carmody relatives, and certainly not Jerry—aged 12 or 40-something. People made the decisions they felt they had to, and were entitled to the feelings they had.
Perhaps as time passes, the emotions will mellow and dissipate. In the meantime, I need to look into getting whatever records might be available from both Starr Commonwealth and the high school. Hopefully, information from one or both institutions will answer lingering questions Mike and his brother may have regarding their dad’s life.
²Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013, index and images, accessed 8 March 2019, citing Lucas County, Franklin County Genealogical & Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio, FHL microfilm 004260731, image # 00171, reference ID it 1 p 273 No. 32685, image # 00165 of 333. Frank M. BAUMAN (39) and Anna B. KLAMMER (30); FamilySearch.
³Wayne County, Michigan, Circuit Court, In Chancery, divorce file No. 60,848 (30 March 1918) Anna KLAMMER v. Julius KLAMMER, decree of divorce; Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, Detroit. Copy obtained from estate files of Gerald Bauman.
4“Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925”, database, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch Record Search (https://familysearch.org), accessed 8 May 2019, citing Port Huron, Saint Clair, Michigan, reference n.g., citing FHL microfilm 2342682, image# 534, citing Secretary of State, Department of Vital Records, Lansing. Julius KLAMMER (21) and Anna CARMODY (20).
5“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.familysearch.org), Julius KLAMMER, serial no. 1527, order no. 381, Draft Board Ward 4 Precinct 3, Wayne County, Michigan; 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. 1,613,195; accessed 8 May 2019. Registered 5 June 1917.
61910 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, Genesee, Flint, e.d. 17; Page 6B; dwelling number 110; family number 121; line 79; Charles A. NORGET household; accessed 12 May 2019. Julius KLAWMER [KLAMMER], age 23, boarder; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 642; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
71930 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, St. Clair, Port Huron, 10 precinct, e.d. 74-41; Page 1B; dwelling number 25; family number 25; line 73; Frank M. BOWMAN [BAUMAN] household; accessed 12 May 2019; NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1025; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
81940 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, St. Clair, Port Huron, ward 10, e.d. 74-29; Page 1B; household number 12; line 42; Anna BAUMAN household; accessed 12 May 2019. Anna BAUMAN, age 52, widowed; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1815; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
I’ve had more than my share of road trips, racking up 50 states, and 32 countries so far. When my dad was a kid, though, road trips were were much rarer. It’s likely that until he joined the Navy, he traveled only between Wisconsin and Illinois!
He was born in Wisconsin, not too far from his paternal grandparents, Frank Haws (The Old Homestead) and Anna Bruder Haws, but that would soon change.
His family returned to Illinois not long after my dad was born. They appear in the 1922 city directory, living in Glencoe¹ with Victoria’s recently widowed mother, Dorothea Harry Schweiger (Back to School). By 1925, they had moved to a rental house (25 East Webster) in Highwood,² while my grandfather, Edward Haws, built their house on Rosemary Terrace, in Deerfield. They now lived a long way from Dad’s paternal grandparents, so couldn’t see them often.
Once, though, on a trip to Manitowoc or Door County when I was a teenager, Dad reminisced about his trips up there when he was a kid. It was Ed, Victoria, and 4 kids piled into the family car. I’m not sure if it was a Model A or a Model T, but my money is on the Model T, being a more reasonably priced car. Dad said they always had at least one flat tire on the trip—maybe more!
If I’d thought about it at the time, I’d have pressed him for more details, and written down the answers. Ah, the foolishness of youth!
This week’s prompt jogged my memory, so I started thinking about those trips up north. According to Google maps, it’s 164 miles from Deerfield to Manitowoc, and takes 3 hours 47 minutes on non-interstate roads. The roads in the late 1920s/early 1930s were not as good as roads today, and the cars slower.
The top speed for a Model A was 28 MPH; 40-45 MPH for the Model T. I’m sure neither car drove those speeds on the roads of that era, but let’s be generous! If the Model T went 30 miles per hour, that’s a 5 hours and 28 minutes trip, minimum.
Then there’s stopping for gas, bathroom breaks—4 kids, remember?— lunch at a “roadside park,” slowing down for towns, plus time to fix a flat tire. We’re looking at an all-day trip, each way. If they went up to visit, it probably wasn’t for a day, or even a weekend; a week is more likely, maybe two.
I suppose Ed could have driven Victoria and the kids up, and gone back home to work during the following week, then come back for them, but that’s a lot of driving for him. Besides, most of his siblings lived in the area, so it would have been one of his few chances to see them.
As frequently happens when checking the facts for a blog post, either I find something new, or I unearth a detail I’d forgotten about. This week was no different! I’ve always known they spent time in Highwood—my dad remembered (and talked about) living there before moving into the house in Deerfield. I just assumed that was the only other place they lived in. So I was surprised last fall to discover them at Dorothea’s house so soon after dad’s birth! I always thought Dad lived in Wisconsin for at least a couple years.
While he told stories about Grandma Schweiger’s house, I always thought they were from visits there. Indeed, he may have had no memory of ever living there. Regardless, when I found and documented the 1922 directory listing, I didn’t really think about it, or fit it into a timeline for the family. I was hurrying to harvest as many records as I could, and didn’t mentally process it properly.
Thank goodness I decided to enter it in my software, anyway, instead of blowing it off! I could have easily dismissed it as, “Oh, that’s Dorothea’s house, I don’t need to record that.” That would have been a mistake—I’d be missing dots I needed to connect.
So, what had started as an innocuous road trip story, ended up filling in more dates and places in my dad’s, grandparents’, and great grandparents’ timelines. That’s always a good thing!
¹”U.S City Directories, 1822-1995″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing R. L. Polk & Co. Evanston City and North Shore Directory, 1922-1923. Entry for Edw. HAWS, p. 630, accessed 7 September 2018.
²”U.S City Directories, 1822-1995″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing Polk’s Waukegan City Directory, 1925. Entry for Edw. M. HAWS, p. 685, accessed 7 September 2018.
“But my family ALWAYS went to ______________ church!”
There’s a tendency to stay locked onto which church our families attended. It probably ranks up there with our inflexibility with names: what they were, and how they were spelled, etc. Like it or not, though, religion was oftentimes more flexible than we realize—or maybe feel comfortable with!
As a young genealogist, I remember my mom telling the story about one of her grandfathers and an incident at a Sunday service. Unfortunately, she didn’t remember which grandfather it was—Carl Moeller (Youngest and Challenge) or Christian Meintzer (Colorful and My Favorite Photo)—or which church was involved.
Both families were affiliated with a Lutheran/German Evangelical church of some sort, though not necessarily the same one. The way the story goes, the grandfather (great grandfather to me) in question arrived at Sunday service after an absence of some length. The minister apparently commented on his presence—something along the lines of, “Glad to see you could make it this week.”
I don’t know if the comment was made in front of the entire congregation, or said to him more privately. Regardless, it didn’t sit well with that great grandfather, so he left and never returned.
So, which great grandpa was it, Carl or Christian? I really don’t know, but my money is on Christian, for several reasons.
Carl and Elfrieda had a long history with St. Peter’s Church, and the church had a long history in Shermerville/Northbrook. In Northbrook, Illinois: the Fabric of Our History,¹ we learn on page 86 that in 1863, the church was built on Shermer Road, south of Willow Road. Through the years it had several different buildings, and moved location slightly, but it was a solid fixture in the community.
The Moeller children were christened in that church, and page 38 (same book)¹ informs us, “The church activities included a school where children were taught the German language.” My grandmother, Minnie, attended “German school” in addition to the public school, so it was likely there. Also, the youngest Moeller daughter, Annie, died at age 8 in 1908 and was buried in the church cemetery. The minister from St. Peter’s married Minnie and Christoph in 1913.
Carl was not a farmer—he worked in the local brick yard, and the family lived in town. The church was relatively close to them, reachable on probably fairly decent roads.
Christian, on the other hand, was a farmer, living in the “Riverwoods” area. That was west of Deerfield, in Vernon Township, considerably farther from any town. If they attended St. Peter’s, it was a longer trip, probably involving more dirt, fewer paved, roads. If they attended another church in a different town, the same questionable road conditions would still have had an impact.
What exactly might have kept Christian away from whatever church he attended?
Heavy Chicago snows could cause problems, even for a sleigh.
Spring thaws (or summer rains) on dirt roads would make modern day potholed roads look wonderful by comparison!
Did farm work keep him away? If it’s time to harvest and the choice is attend church or lose the crop, it might not be a difficult choice!
I don’t know which church they changed to, but I do know my mom grew up attending the Presbyterian church in Northbrook (within walking distance), and Minnie was buried from there. Was that the church Christoph’s father switched to? Or was it a convenient compromise for Chris and Minnie? I don’t really know.
So while I don’t know positively which great grandpa the story is about (I’m still betting on Christian—
he always seemed feistier), or which church was involved, I don’t doubt its truth. That may sound strange coming from Miss “Footnote-the-daylights-out-of-her-blog,” but the story seems plausible enough. I can’t fathom a reason anyone would have made up a story like that to tell my mom. It would serve no purpose. Nothing we know about her two grandfathers requires us to suspend disbelief, either. No extraordinary leaps of faith are needed. (unintended pun—sorry!)
One thing I do know is that, “We’ve always been _____________,” has plenty of exceptions!
¹Souter, Gerry, and Janet Souter. Northbrook, Illinois: the Fabric of Our History. Northbrook Historical Society, 2000.
“Being lost is worth the being found.” -Neil Diamond
Ancestors and family members end up “out of place” for a wide variety of reasons. It seems mine have have used a good many of them. Sometimes it makes them difficult to find; other times it makes them impossible to locate!
Sometimes we don’t know to look somewhere else until we find their children’s birthplaces. The Kranz brothers (grand uncles, Ed and Adam) hid out farming in Iowa for about six years (In the News). Without later census records showing the Iowa birthplaces for some of their children, I’d never have thought to look there, though. The rest of their lives had been spent in the Chicago area.
The census isn’t always a help, though. I still haven’t located Uncle Iggy Schweiger in the 1920 or 1930 census records (Bachelor Uncle). It just occurred to me that his brother, Leo (Black Sheep), is also AWOL in the 1930 census. Had the brothers thrown in together for a time? Maybe. There’s no family lore to support that, but it might be possible. Of course, Uncle Leo decided to mix it up a bit, by breaking off communication with the family some time after 1942. That is definitely a time-honored way of being “out of place.”
Residing in a different, but nearby, town also makes people hard to find. I knew Jacob Meintzer (my 3rd great grandfather’s brother in Ten) existed, and had a houseful of kids. He wasn’t living in the same town as his brother, though, so it wasn’t until I accidentally ran across him in a neighboring town in the Alsatian census that I could piece him together, better. Whether he emigrated with his family to the Odessa region of Russia is still up for grabs, as is the possibility of later generations emigrating to the Dakotas. His line is still a little bit lost.
A fairly complete database of Civil War soldiers and sailors exists (with that name), so you would think Mike’s Kukler ancestor (Family Legend) would be there. Nothing found under Kukler, nor any of the other surnames married into that line. The military records coughed up a different Kukler — Frank E. — serving during/after the Spanish American War. I have no clue who he is and if/how he connects. So I have someone not where I’m expecting him and another who shouldn’t be in the records. Brilliant!
Sometimes we find someone out of place, but we don’t know the “why” that goes with it. Case in point: Christoph (Grandpa) Meintzer in Arkansas in the 1910s (So Far Away). There’s more to that story, but I don’t know what it is. Without his postcard from Arkansas, I wouldn’t even know there’s a story I’m missing.
Sometimes the “why” shows up later. I was puzzled by the marriage of John Joseph Carmody & Mildred Fitzgerald (Mike’s grandparents) 100 miles away from Port Huron, in Bay City, Michigan. They weren’t teenagers sneaking away from parents. They weren’t traveling to a place with easier marriage requirements. As I learned more about John Joseph’s involvement with transporting harness racing horses (Unusual Source), it made more sense. Numerous newspaper articles and ads had him busy during race season, shuttling the horses around. Of course he wasn’t in Port Huron! Getting married “on the road” may have been their only option, other than waiting until racing season was over. Two days after their wedding, it was announced in the Port Huron Times.
. . . Mr. Carmody went to Bay City this week to attend the race meeting and from there with his bride will go to Alpena.
“Carmody-Marshall,” 15 July 1921, Newspapers.com: accessed 20 September 2018, image number: 209880537; citing original p. 2, col. n.g, para. n.g, entry for Mrs. Mildred B. Marshall and John J. Carmody. Marriage license application notice below it in the column
Then there are the times when I lose my ancestors though my own fault — temporarily, at least — as I did when I misfiled the death certificate of my great-grandfather, Carl Moeller (Youngest). I came across it accidentally while looking for something else, but it was a wake-up call to me, reminding me I need to clean up my physical files. If I don’t know what I have, I don’t know what I need to look for, plain and simple.
Carl and his wife, Elfrieda Jonas Moeller, also ended up “out of place” through the fault of someone else on the Family Search tree (Challenge). Another user had incorrectly picked up Carl & Elfrieda as their similarly-named relatives, dragging my grandmother and her siblings into the whole mess. It took hours, but after confirming that the people they had blended with them were not correct (Drat! Those people had parents’ names!), I moved people around until the connections were correct. I hope they stay that way!
How do I avoid “out of place” situations? I can’t, unfortunately. But I can try to resolve them by:
Keep looking. Seriously, persistence sometimes pays off!
Search smarter. Use different spellings. Look for the kids. Use age and only the first name. Breaking out of the routine is sometimes effective.
Go page-by-page. Sometimes old-school and brute-force is the only way that will work.
Go on-site. Some records are not available online, so going in person is what needs to happen.
Give it a rest. New databases come online regularly. Sometimes I just need to tackle a different problem and give them a chance to show up.
Try a new database. Coupled with the one above, I think I’ve finally managed to acquire death and potential birth dates for Mike’s great-grandfather, Andrew Carmody. I wasn’t finding him in the others I searched.
Document everything. If I don’t know what I have, I don’t know where my gaps are.
Read every word for the evidence I have. Sometimes there are clues there that are more hidden. Picking just the low-hanging fruit may leave me missing the best!
Blog about it. Focusing on one person or family forces me to really look at what I know, and what I don’t know. I notice the gaps I have, and go in search of facts to fill them. Sometimes I find the answers I need, but if not, I still have organized my knowledge, and left myself a summary of where everything stands with that individual or family.
Read and watch. Blogs/newsletters/books and webinars. There are a whole lot of smarter/better genealogists our there. I’d be foolish not to learn from them. Sometimes it’ll be an entirely different approach, and other times they are telling me something I already know — but totally forgot about, and needed to be reminded of.
There’s no magic wand for any of this, but my “out of place people” don’t always have to stay lost.
“Mama, don’t take my chromosomes away . . . ” pre-med college students’ adulteration of Paul Simon lyric
I am relatively late to the DNA game. When it was first available, testing was pricey, limited to Y-DNA (for male line) and later mtDNA (mitochondrial for female line). I didn’t have questions that Y-DNA would answer, and wasn’t terribly curious about the “deep ancestry” mtDNA would provide.
Autosomal DNA testing hit the market in 2009. In spring of 2010, it cost $289 to get tested at Family Tree DNA. Seemed expensive. I wasn’t looking for unknown biological parents, so I kept my money in my wallet. By fall of 2013, Ancestry.com and 23andMe entered the fray, so competition drove the price down to $99 (sale prices, at least). Still, with relatively small databases, and no burning questions to answer, I kept my saliva where it belonged.
I began to educate myself, though, so when — if — I took the plunge, I would know what I was doing. RootsTech 2017 pushed me over the edge. Session after session on DNA reiterated the importance of testing. DNA wasn’t a magic wand to solve all my genealogical puzzles, but it was a valuable record — as important as birth or death records — and needed to be obtained while it was still available.
Mom was almost 95, and her spit wasn’t going to be around forever! I’d already missed out on my dad’s. So I ordered an Ancestry.com test for me and a FamilyTreeDNA test for her at the next sale. I spit, she swabbed, and we waited. With 4 million samples in Ancestry’s database at that point, surely I’d match someone? Fortunately, there were no unexpected surprises in our results! I am related to first cousins on both sides of the family, as well as my mother (after uploading my results to her company). Whew!
I discovered dozens of second cousins I recognized, as well as totally unknown names. In the meantime, Mike expressed surprise I hadn’t asked him to submit a test. DNA is kind of personal, and we’ve only known each other for 40+ years. I don’t have as much on his family, though, so DNA could be useful. We capitalized on Ancestry’s Father’s Day sale to order his kit.
With the exception of a first cousin, Mike’s other matches were all unknown. Most didn’t have trees, and the surnames meant nothing to me. I transferred his DNA data to other sites to expand the matches. At Family Tree DNA, he had an unknown Crockett match, without a tree. It was a solid match, with 79 cM in common, the largest segment being 59 cM. It was not a random coincidence.
I also recognized Crockett as an ancestor surname. Mike’s grandmother, Mildred B. Fitzgerald (Where There’s a Will), was a Crockett descendant. Indeed, her grandmother, Isabella Crockett, was living with Mildred in Michigan in the 1920 census.
Mildred’s mother was Eliza Jane English. She and her husband, Ashley Fitzgerald, bounced back and forth between the United States (Michigan and Ohio) and Ontario, Canada. Eliza had been born in Michigan,¹ but married Ashley in Ontario.¹ Their first and last children were born in Ontario, the middle ones (including Mildred) in Ohio.
Eliza’s parents, John English and Isabella, did much the same thing. John was born in Ontario, Isabella in Ireland. They married in Ontario in 1860, but had their three oldest children (including Eliza Jane) between 1861 and 1869 in the USA, before heading back to Canada, where we find them in the next three censuses.²
Isabella Crockett’s parents, George Crockett and Margaret Jane Creighton, brought their four children to Ontario from Ireland sometime between 1845 (Jane born in Ireland) and 1848 (James born in Canada).³ I’ve found the Canadian records to have very complete census pages, as well as birth, marriage, and death registers. They’ve all been very helpful in filling in lots of information for Mike’s Canadian ancestors.
“Wait! I thought this week was about DNA?” Yes, but DNA doesn’t work by itself; we have to help it. If I hadn’t researched this line prior to DNA testing, the Crockett surname wouldn’t have had any meaning for me. Anyway, after uploading Mike’s DNA data to the various databases, I finally hit paydirt at GEDmatch. The “Joe” (not his real name!) Crockett match from Family Tree DNA was there, but with a tree, this time! It wasn’t a huge tree, but it had what I needed. At the very top were George Crockett and Margaret Jane Creighton.
I was excited, but it took a month or two before I had time to write to the contact email. I explained why I was writing, and that Mike’s 3rd great grandparents were shared with him. I got an email back from “Joe’s” sister, “Sue” (not her real name, either!). She’s the genealogist in that family, it seems. We exchanged some information and determined they were 3rd cousins, once removed to Mike. She graciously shared an awesome photo of Isabella!
We each knew parts of the other’s story, but we were able to fill in additional gaps and details for each other, and confirm the information found in records. I still need to take some time to fill in the other descendants on this line, bringing it more up-to-date. There could easily be more matches from this family (through the daughters) without a Crockett surname.
It occurred to me while I was looking at the match information Mike shared with “Joe,” that Mike didn’t match to the sister. She didn’t happen to inherit those particular segments of DNA. Fortunately, though, she had convinced “Joe” to test his own. If not, we might not have found each other! I’m extremely grateful to him for agreeing to swab for his sister.
Now, to make my way down all our match lists to figure out the rest of them! I wonder what other mysteries DNA will unravel? Or stir up?
Top image credit: PublicDomainPictures at Pixabay.com
¹”Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 27 December 2015, entry for Ashley C. FITZGERALD and Eliza ENGLISH, 10 April 1886, citing Ontario, Canada, Registrations of Marriages, 1869-1928. MS932, reel 53, certificate 002734, no. 52. Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
²1871 census of Canada, population schedule, London, Middlesex East, Ontario, e.d. 9; page 28 (written); line 9; Robert ENGLISH household; accessed 14 April 2019, citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm [ ] through [ ]. John ENGLISH, age 32; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
³1851 census of Canada, population schedule, Dorchester North, Middlesex, Ontario, ed. no. 3, Township of [ ], Page 113 (stamped), page 112 (written); line 37; George CROCKETT household; accessed 13 February 2016, citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm [ ] through [ ]. George CROCKETT, age 36; digital image, Ancestry.com, Canada (www.ancestry.ca).
I have many brick walls, some of which you’ve seen. Unfortunately, most are miles away from being solved! With a potential trip to Ireland next year, it seems wise to take a look at one of the brick walls located there.
Mike’s Carmodys come from County Clare, Ireland. In Close Up, I revealed how the history I had for Mike’s grandfather, John J. Carmody, had been wrong, as a result of some incorrect information. Solving the problem of that unknown brick wall unfortunately created a new one!
To recap: I mistakenly had two brothers related as a father-son combo. When that was corrected, I had John J. correctly connected to Michael as a brother, with another potential brother, Patrick. Their father was Andrew Carmody, and mother was Mary Culleeny/Culliny/Culliney. Andrew was actually a fortunate first name, because outside of this family group, I don’t tend to see it (though all three sons named a son “Andrew”). It was much better than John or Patrick!
Unfortunately, besides his name, I don’t have much other information for Andrew Carmody. By the 1901 census, he and Mary seem to have already died. None of the early census records exist. The 1821-1851¹ were destroyed in the 1922 fire in the Public Record Office (a few stray pages survive). The 1861 and 1871¹ were destroyed shortly after they were taken, and the 1881 and 1891¹ were pulped during WWI (there was a paper shortage). So there are no helpful census snapshots of the family with Andrew in it.
Griffith’s valuation finally came online. What’s that? Well, it’s rather like a tax list. It calculated your contribution to support the poor and destitute within the local Poor Law Union. The rate was based on the property and how it was developed. The valuation took place between 1848 and 1864. That’s a perfect time period for Andrew.
When I search for him in County Clare, he appears in Griffith’s here. Snips from the page will make it a little easier to follow:
It’s interesting to see three entries for him. How do I know all three are the same man? Well, the two as Occupier are, because in the 4th column for lot 29, it says, “see also No. 32.” If they were two distinct individuals, I doubt they would link the entries in that way. The property where Andrew Carmody is the Lessor is adjacent to No. 29. While it could be a different man, it seems unlikely that the only other Andrew Carmody in County Clare (a name search returned only these three results) happens to live next door to property owned by a different Andrew Carmody!
Could this NOT be Mike’s great grandfather? Possibly. But with no other Andrews in the county, and him being in the correct parish (Drumcliff) and place (Borheen), it makes a good case in his favor. Ideally, I would be able to find other documents tying him and his family to these properties.
I’m also curious why he is not occupying the property he owns. Perhaps his family had outgrown the house, so he needed to lease a larger one? It would be interesting to know more about Francis Gore (his landlord) — he was the Lessor for a lot of properties! It would also be nice to know who the other three Carmodys were. Quite likely they are related, but I have no clue how.
While it was great finding him (hopefully) in Griffith’s, it didn’t really solve the problem of whether there were other children or who his parents were. Fortunately, the Catholic parish registers have been put online from several sources. Find My Past has some of them available (with images), and some parishes have put the information online, themselves: sometimes indexes only, sometimes images.
Searching through parish records,³ I’ve pieced together a tentative list of the children of Andrew Carmody and Mary Culleeny:
Catharine, baptized 27 July 1845
Mary, baptized 30 December 1848
Ellen, baptized 22 November 1850
Anne, baptized 4 July 1853
Michael, baptized 18 August 1856
Patrick, baptized 14 March 1859
John, baptized 24 February 1862
Mike’s grandfather, John Joseph, appears to be the last child. Curiously, though, his birth date as recorded in US documents is mid-August, 1863. The parish baptism index does not include his middle name (or initial). There are no later children for this couple, though. It’s possible that this son, John, died, and they had another son that they named John Joseph, 15-16 August 1863. I don’t have access to death records to test that theory, but I need to look for possible evidence of that.
Similarly, there was a Mary Carmody, baptized 18 February 1843 to an Andrew and a Mary Collins. Granted, Collins seems a long way from Culleeny (or any of her spelling variations), but it’s actually closer than one would think. No other Carmody fathers are named Andrew in the index, and no other Carmody children born to a Mary Collins — married to an Andrew, or not.
So it’s possible this Mary is also one of their children — the first one, perhaps. Since there is clearly another Mary born in 1848, if that is the case, the first Mary must have died before then. Further research looking at the actual documents (rather than a transcription) is necessary to assess who the 1843 Mary belongs to.
Their marriage date is still up in the air. The parish marriage index³ shows only one Andrew Carmody. He has a marriage date of 27 July 1840. That date fits with the other information I have (children’s births — even the potential “extra Mary.” Unfortunately, the bride is listed as “Mary Carmody.” Sometimes same-named couples marry (related or not), but sometimes the person filling in the register/certificate — or the transcriber — makes a mistake. For some reason the bride’s maiden name isn’t recorded, so the married surname is used in its place. While this index entry is an encouraging lead, looking at the actual record might solve the dilemma.
Additionally, the index doesn’t tell us their ages or their parents’ names. Is that information included in the original? Maybe. That’s another reason to view the original! If I can’t locate images online, I may need to see if I can get access to them when we travel there. I don’t have death dates for Andrew or Mary. Those might point me to birth dates (and parents?) for them.
As I looked for “my” (well, Mike’s) Carmodys, I stumbled across all sorts of other ones nearby. Are they related? Maybe. I don’t know if Andrew had siblings — if so, their records might point me to parents. They could also be cousins. But how to keep track of them, with stray children, marriages, and so on? How do I figure out their connections (or lack of) to each other? I decided I needed to spin off a separate “working file” just for the Carmodys. I can enter Carmody data as I find it, without cluttering my own file. It lets me deal with them in a contained environment. When I get them sorted out, I can transfer the ones I need back to my regular file.
This brick wall is still pretty solid . . . Bummer. I need to keep chipping away at it, and checking for new record sets to come online to help break through it.
²”Griffith’s Valuation, 1847-1864″, database, AskAboutIreland.ie, Ask About Ireland (http://griffiths.askaboutireland.ie), General Valuation, p. 169, for Andrew CARMODY, occupier, The Borheen, Ennis (town), Lifford (townland), Drumcliff (parish), Ennis (union), Islands (barony), County Clare, accessed 7 April 2019.
³https://www.ennisparish.com/genealogy/ Search on “carmody” in the surname field, click submit. List of