Craft

Row, row, row your boat . . .

While everyone else is thinking artistically this week, I am outside the box once again, writing about watercraft. We didn’t live near the ocean, or have a summer cottage on one of the many Wisconsin lakes within an easy drive of the Chicago suburbs. Dad didn’t own a bass boat, sail boat, speed boat, or a spiffy yacht docked at one of the marinas on Lake Michigan.

He had a rowboat. Well, actually, it also had an outboard motor, so I guess it was a step up from a rowboat.

I was pretty young (under age 5, I believe) when we used it, so my memories are a bit fuzzy. I don’t recall if it was wood or aluminum, or how many seats it had (I think there were 3). What I mostly remember is that it was named the Carole Ann, after my sister. I always felt a little put out that she had a boat named after her, and I didn’t, but that was just me being an unreasonable child. For the 50 weeks of the year we weren’t on vacation, the boat leaned up against the shed (former chicken coop) at the very back of our yard.

I emailed my brothers, Warren & Bill, to see what they remembered. Warren (10 years older) confirmed it was aluminum, and said we didn’t have it until we had the trailer (1958). He also said Dad still owned the motor (and presumably, the boat) in 1970, though both brothers agreed it never traveled to the Door County, Wisconsin, vacations prior to that—just to Minnesota. They also agreed that Dad must have sold it, eventually, since it was still usable.

Taking it on vacation meant hoisting it onto the roof rack of the car and tying it down so it it didn’t shift while driving, stopping, or turning. Warren described it this way:

I remember that we leaned the boat against the longitudinal bar (on the top of the car) from the side of the car. This bar may have been a roller bar. The boat was then slid/rolled to the top of the car and then rotated 90 degrees so the bow of the boat was over the hood of the car. The bow was tied to the bumper of the car. The back may have been tied to the back bumper and the sides may have been tied to the car top carrier. I do not remember those details. 

Warren Haws, to Christine Bauman, e-mail, 7 December 2019, Dad’s Rowboat. Bauman Email Files; privately held by Christine Haws Bauman, Greenwood, Indiana.
Undated photo of the 1960 Country Sedan station wagon hooked up to the trailer, with our boat strapped to the top of the car. The front license plate isn’t clear enough to provide a year. This would have been the night before we were leaving on vacation in early July of whatever year it was. Hooking up the trailer could take a little time, lining vehicles up and checking the lights. It always took longer, when you were in a hurry! So if we needed an early start, Dad would do that the night before. In the morning, we just had to pile into the car and pull out. You can see the trailer step still down and the door open, for the last of the food and clothes to be loaded inside.

You can see the rope in front, anchoring the boat to the bumper (back when bumpers were made of metal, not plastic!). The others ropes aren’t visible, but I’m sure they were there.

Our trips to Scenic State Park, near Bigfork, Minnesota, involved a fair amount of fishing. The boat couldn’t hold all of us, so we rotated. I doubt Mom was ever in it. She didn’t swim, so going in a rowboat would not have been high on her vacation to-do list! As the youngest, I spent the least time in it, because:

  • I wasn’t much of a fisherman at 3 or 4
  • I wouldn’t have the patience to sit still for very long
  • I’m positive I wouldn’t have kept quiet enough!

I do remember going out on the lake, though, especially the time when I caught my first fish. I was so excited! It was a small sunfish or bluegill, and Dad probably filleted and cooked it up specifically for me for dinner that night.

Except, it was a fake. Well, the fish was real; catching it wasn’t.

Apparently I’d been frustrated and upset about not catching any fish on that and prior outings. So while my line was in the water, whichever sibling was also in the boat distracted me. That gave Dad enough time to carefully hook a fish already caught onto my hook, so I could “catch” it.

It’s kind of like the time(s) you let a little kid win the board game by playing poorly, or outright cheating against yourself. I was clueless, of course, until many years later when a sibing spilled the beans. By then, I had caught plenty of fish on my own, so it was only a slight ego blow.

Possibly the last vacation for the Carole Ann was when I was 5 or 6. My dad took his father and father-in-law on a 1- or 2-week fishing trip. The rest of us stayed home, because my older siblings all had summer jobs they needed, earning money for college. Mom stayed home with all of us, and Dad drove the 3 of them up, with the trailer and boat, probably to Minnesota. Both my grandfathers were in their 70s, so Dad ended up doing all the cooking, dish washing, and fish-cleaning. It wasn’t much of a “vacation” for him!

Photo from July, 1963 or 1964. Ed Haws, Christoph Meintzer, Robert Haws, with the day’s catch (and dinner for that night!).

No, the boat isn’t in this photo, but it undoubtedly figured into that impressive stringer of fish . . .

Our rowboat (with its outboard motor) wasn’t the most impressive watercraft, and wasn’t in our lives very long, but it provided a lot of fun and memories to three generations of fishermen.

#52Ancestors

Trick or Treat

A Halloween burial, along with tricks and treats in the family history.

My dad grew up knowing three of his four grandparents. You met many of them in an earlier post. His maternal grandfather, Ignatz, died a couple months before Dad was born, and it seems the family soon moved back to Glencoe, Illinos, to be near Ignatz’s widow, Dorothea. She lived as a widow for eleven years.

Dad was not quite eleven when Dorothea died, but he had vivid memories of her. She taught him how to play Rummy. It wasn’t a particularly “grandmotherly” activity, but it appealed to a young boy. It may have let him feel grown up (a sometimes rare commodity for a youngest child!), and I don’t think she let him win all the time, either.

As you can see from her funeral card, she died 29 October 1932 (a Saturday). The card didn’t tell you she was buried on 31 October (a Monday).

Yes, she was buried on Halloween! At least, I think so. A slight discrepancy exists. Unfortunately, her obituaries in the Chicago Tribune¹ are in the higher tier at Newspapers.com, so I can’t see what date was published, to resolve the issue. And I don’t recall if Dad metioned whether or not they missed going out to Trick or Treat, due to the death and funeral.

Dorothea was buried in the Schweiger plot in Sacred Heart cemetery, with her husband, son, and grandson. The plot card has only a 31 October 1932 date next to her name, not her death date.

Plot card, Sacred Heart Cemetery, Lee & Dundee Roads, Northbrook, Illinois. Section 2, Block 6, Lot 2.

Searching the Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths,² 1916-1947 index (FamilySearch.org or Ancestry.com), her burial was listed as 1 November 1932. The actual death certificate is not viewable online, so I can’t verify if the indexed date matched the certificate. Death certificates are completed before the burial, not at the time of or afterwards. It’s possible the informant didn’t actually know when the funeral would be scheduled, and put down November 1st (a Tuesday).

I’m slightly more inclined to trust the plot card, since it should have been created directly from the event. Having said that, fact checking the plot card turned up a couple discrepancies, so it isn’t perfect:

  • Anton Schweiger—the year should be 14, not 16. The 30 September date is in the Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922,³ but with a 1914 year more consistent with his 1914 death. I think the “16” on the paper is a typo. I’m not sure if the paper I have is a photocopy of the actual card, or a redrawing of it. If it was rewritten/retyped, that could easily be a typo.
  • Baby girl, stillborn. She was my cousin, Marilyn Victoria Busse. I had always heard she was stillborn, but when I located the record (not image) in the Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-19474, I saw she also wasn’t named there (explaining no name on the plot card). More importantly, I discovered she had actually lived for 23 hours! That was a bit of a surprise. Her burial dates match, however.

So why do I think Dorothea’s date on the card is right, when I think Anton’s is wrong? Mistyping a single digit in the year is more likely than mistyping the month AND the day. I think that mistake would have been noticed and corrected.

Now that great-grandma is straightened out (sort of!), what else do I know about Dorothea, aside from being buried on Halloween and that she taught my dad to play Rummy?

She was born 26 March 1858, in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, the eighth child (of nine) of Peter Harry and Elisabetha Boullie; the 2nd child born in the USA. Their surname also shows up spelled Harré, Hary, and Hare, making it a little hard to search for, but had 2 syllables, and was pronounced like the “Harry” it morphed into.

One item that hadn’t really registered with me before now is that her father died when she was only 2½. I’ve been unable to locate Dorothea (and her family) in the 1860 census. It’s hard to misplace a family with six kids! They are AWOL for the 1870 census, too. While the two oldest children were married by then, the 4 youngest should have been with their mom. Even paging through the enumeration districts, or searching for the kids, didn’t turn them up. I don’t think Dorothea or her family moved away from Two Rivers, because several children got married there in the 1860s and 1870s. Their mother, Elisabeth, was still living there, alone, in 1880! They are simply lost for a while . . .

Dorothea finally resurfaced in 1880, working in Chicago as a servant in the Nussbaumer5 household. Apparently this was not an unusual situation. Rural Wisconsin farm girls regularly relocated to the Chicago North Shore as household help for those families. In this case, the husband and wife were both born in Germany, so I imagine having help who could understand if they lapsed into German would have been useful. The census recorded her as two years older, so either her employers didn’t know her actual age, and guessed, or she fudged it a little upwards to seem a little more mature when getting hired.

I don’t know if this was the only family she worked for—specific records for that don’t exist. Decades earlier, I had noted she had worked for a Kirsch family living in Niles Center (Skokie). I couldn’t locate that family in the 1880 census, so I can’t corroborate that. She didn’t marry Ignatz6 until April, 1885, so she had at least five years working, possibly more, if she moved to Illinois pre-1880.

After marrying Ignatz, she had 9 children in 15 years, and assisted with the restaurant. She and Ignatz were among the founding familes of Sacred Heart Church in Hubbard Woods (northeast section of Winnetka) in 1897, when St. Joseph’s parish (Wilmette) got too large. She was the first vice-president of the parish’s Married Ladies Soldality, organized 14 April 1898. When the school opened, her children attended.

She and her family lived above the butcher shop, and then the restaurant, until Ignatz died in 1921. The building and business were sold, and Dorothea moved a two-story house at 404 Woodlawn built by her son-in-law, Edward Haws, for the next eight years. The last two years of her life were spent living with her daughter, Rose. Somewhere in there, she taught my dad to play Rummy.

While there are still gaps in her timeline, and I obviously don’t know much about her personality, it would seem Dorothea worked hard throughout her life, much of it directed toward her family and her parish.

#52Ancestors


¹”Dorothea Schweiger, Glencoe Resident,” 30 October 1932, Newspapers.com: accessed 1 November 2019, record number: not given; citing original p. 14, entry for Dorothea SCHWEIGER, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, online archive (http://www.newspapers.com).

²”Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 1 November 2019, entry for Dorothea SCHWEIGER, 26 March 1858, citing FHL microfilm 1684557, citing Public Board of Health, Archives, Springfield.

³”Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 1 November 2019, entry for Anton SCHWEIGER, 28 September 1914, citing Illinois, Cook County Deaths 1878–1922, Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010; FHL# 1239987. Illinois Department of Public Health. Birth and Death Records, 1916–present. Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois.

4“Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 1 November 2019, entry for Baby Girl BUSSE, 25 May 1942, citing FHL microfilm 1953745, citing Public Board of Health, Archives, Springfield.

51880 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Chicago, e.d. 189; Page 432D (printed), 28 (written) ; dwelling number 91; family number 155; line 12; Chs. NUSSBAUMER household; accessed 31 October 2019. Dora HARRY, age 24; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 199; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

6“Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 4 November 2019, citing “Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Illinois Department of Public Health records. “Marriage Records, 1871-present.” Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois. Ignatz SCHWEIGER (25) and Thora HARRY (27).

Transportation

“Sometime you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”–Dr. Seuss

Two stories popped into my head—different cars, different drivers, but both needing to be remembered.

It seems our driveway was not such a safe place to drive or park cars . . .

Growing up in Northbrook, transportation for my mom consisted of 2 choices: feet or bicycle. She did not learn to drive as a teenager. Even when Mom was working in The Loop (Chicago downtown) after high school, she walked to the train station and commuted in on the train.

In 1947 (she was 25 by then) my parents rented the house on South Adams, in Hinsdale, relocating to my Dad’s rug cleaning business (At Work), but Mom still hadn’t learned to drive. Milk, maybe eggs, and butter, were delivered as needed, and she’d walk the 1 mile to the Jewel store once or twice a week, at nap time. Mrs. Soubry (the upstairs neighbor—not positive of the spelling) would bring a book downstairs and keep an eye on my older siblings while they napped. Mom would walk home with the meat (and anything else needing refrigeration), leaving the rest in a cart at the front of the store with her name on it. Dad would swing by on the way home for lunch or from his last job, and pick up the non-perishables.

It wasn’t until they bought the house on York Road, in 1952, that Mom learned to drive. It was only 3/10 mile further from the store, but it was uphill both ways, she had more kids, and she no longer had an upstairs neighbor to stay with the kids so she could shop. In addition, she now had children going to school 1.3 (instead of .4) miles away from home. Even though my sister rode the bus, we all know there are times when you need to pick up kids from school, so it was finally time for Mom to get a license.

After her driver’s ed class ($10 for three 1 hour lessons) from a high school PE teacher, and obtaining her license at age 30, she was good to go. She had a fairly decent driving record, as far as I know, though apparently there was one incident, early on in her career. As my Aunt Mary related it:

Ardyth, do you remember the most original event of your entire career as a wife and mother? How you managed this, to this very day, no one can or will state. Bob and Hank came home from work that day and to their extreme astonishment they noticed – and did they EVER notice – that the little 1950 Crosely car you drove was perched on the very top of a pile of gravel by the garage! It was like a picture from Robert Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not.” You will always be fondly remembered for this accomplishment!!

Mary Paulson Haws, Green Valley, Arizona to Ardyth & Bob Haws, typed letter, fall 1994, memories for 50th wedding anniversary book, Bauman Correspondence Files; privately held by Christine Haws Bauman, Greenwood, Indiana.
Drawing by Mary Paulson Haws, 1994, for Bob & Ardyth’s 50th wedding anniversary book. Used with permission from her daughter, Barb.

The Crosley car was way before my time, and I have no photos. Apparently¹ it was an early compact car produced in Cincinnati. Fortunately, it was also fairly lightweight, because my dad and his brother needed to lift it off the rock pile! Dad didn’t take time to photograph it, before moving the car. Thank goodness Aunt Mary provided us with a visual (even though not eye-witness) image of the event!

My aunt’s description needs a slight correction. It was actually a pile of flagstone (not gravel) that Mom landed on. It was waiting for my dad to build the flower bed on the east side of the garage, and make a stable edge to the driveway extension. I’m not sure which rock type would be harder to scale, or retrieve the car from, safely.

How did Mom manage that feat? Most likely she had intended to shift to reverse, but landed in drive by mistake. It’s an easy mistake, especially for a new driver. When the car didn’t start backing up, she probably gunned it, hurling the car up the rocks.

The other story involves my middle brother, Warren. In the fall of 1966, our dad purchased a new 1967 Ford Galaxie 500 sedan. The 1960 Ford Country Sedan station wagon (yes, it sounds like an oxymoron, but that’s the actual model!) was getting older, he had more drivers, but also children soon to be leaving the nest. A second car, seating fewer people, would come in handy.

The Galaxie was custom-ordered, paid for with cash. Because he needed it to eventually pull the trailer (partly visible along the right edge of the photo), Dad had the towing package added on, with heavier shock absorbers, a more powerful transmission, maybe a “better” radiator/cooling system to handle the stress of towing. It was still “wet behind the hubcaps” when it was involved in an accident with Warren. Or so I thought.

The 1967 Ford Galaxie 500, in the driveway, with a bored teenager—NOT the one who hit it . . .

I was only 8 ½ at the time and didn’t pay much attention. I was reminded of the incident when I was taking driver’s ed as a sophomore. The story I heard was that Warren had “backed the new car into the house.” Now, the house was pretty large (a 2-story Queen Anne), so it seemed a little unlikely. It required either tremendous skill or horrible luck. It also surprised me that one of us kids was driving a brand new car! I didn’t question the story, though, and made sure I did not follow in his footsteps (wheel tracks?).

I of course called Warren to confirm facts. The story, with more details “from the horse’s mouth,” was different and even more interesting than the version I’d heard as a student driver, with some distinct differences

  • He did have an accident in the driveway—but he was driving the station wagon, not the new sedan!
  • Both cars were insured, but our dad didn’t want to raise the rates by running the accident through the insurance policy
  • He didn’t hit the house, he hit a vehicle parked on the driveway next to the house.
  • He was in a hurry to pick up his date (“It’s always a girl’s fault!”) and didn’t notice the other car was in the driveway.
  • He didn’t use his rear view mirror (obviously!) or check behind him.

Some parts of his story matched what I heard, but others were out in left field. As I tried to digest the new information, my brother asked if I wanted to hear the rest of the story. What? There’s more?? Bring it on!

Since this accident was all “in the family,” Dad had my brother pay for the repairs. That was reasonable. Dad also wanted everything repaired a quickly as possible. Apparently the insurance agents would cruise through town, checking out cars in driveways to see if they had unreported damage!

The ripple effect was that Warren didn’t have money to rent a tux for an upcoming Senior Girls’ formal dance—a turnabout dance. He was almost the only guy there not wearing a tux, but he had a black suit, so he wasn’t too out of place. Getting to the dance had its own back story, though.

He ended up with two (yes, 2!) dates to the dance. Sort of. One girl (Sue Dahlman) simply assumed they were going, but hadn’t bothered to ask. A classmate from grade school, Carolyn Bayer, actually asked him. Since he thought he was dateless, he told her, “yes.”

The two girls were in line together to buy tickets, Sue in front. When Sue was asked who her date was, Carolyn was shocked to hear her reply with—her own date’s name! Oops. They must have had quite a conversation . . .

Ever the gentleman, Warren went to the dance with the one who asked him. He never dated the other girl again.

Warren and I had a good laugh over the phone as he filled in the back story to and consequences of the accident. I’m sure he wasn’t laughing while trying to scrape together enough to pay our parents back! Fortunately, time has a way changing our perspective, allowing us to see the humor in what wasn’t funny at the time. And my own son’s (we’ll protect the guilty!) “2-dates for Prom” experience doesn’t shock me nearly as much, now. It must be a genetic thing . . .

The timeline bothered me, however. Warren graduated in June, 1966, but new cars typically are released in late summer, the year before the model year. The 1967 Galaxie 500 wouldn’t have come out until after he graduated. Even after 50+ years, he recalled vivid details about the dance—the names of both girls, that 4-5 couples went as a group and had dinner at the home of one of the girls (a bonus, since he had no money to take her out!), not being able to afford the tux.

But he didn’t remember it being the ’67, and thought it must have been another car. Except I don’t remember us having a 2nd passenger vehicle until the ’67. I did the only thing I could do—research! On Classmates.com I found his yearbooks, locating both girls in senior year, but only one in the junior year photos. That narrowed it to senior year, but still left the issue of what car did he hit? The ’65-’66 dance was too early to be impacted by an accident.

It was time for some phone calls. At 97, Mom’s recollections can be hit or miss, but she LOVED that car, so I hoped for the best. Unfortunately, she didn’t really have a memory of that accident, or the circumstances around it. No help there.

Next call was to my brother Bill (lounging on the car in the photo). His memory was clearer than mine, since he was closer to driving age at the time. He remembered being the ’67, and that our dad was REALLY mad—unusual for him. Bill was also told the car moved backwards 20 feet, fortunately, not into the street. That may have been exaggerated a bit to drive home the point. Warren said he wasn’t going very fast; that it was only a fender bender. Fender benders don’t move parked cars that far!

Perhaps the biggest thing I learned is that it’s important to check out the story, if I can, even if I’m sure of it, myself. If that turns up conflicting information, okay. I can deal with that. I can’t clarify or resolve (or at least acknowledge) information I don’t know about, though.

So where does that leave the story? Unresolved. Cars were hit. Bumpers were repaired. Younger children’s driving habits were influenced. It’s still a good story (better than I started out with!), even if the timeline can’t be fully resolved. I’ve got my own variation of Rashomon² going on.

#52Ancestors


¹”Crosley”, En.Wikipedia.Org, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crosley.

²An event where the story told by different eyewitnesses is considerably different. Click the link for a more in-depth explanation.

Adventure

“Obviously,” replied Don Quijote, “you don’t know much about adventures.”
― Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

The stock market crash in October, 1929, plunged the United States into the Great Depression and impacted everyone in some way for the next ten-plus years. When I started doing genealogy, my dad recalled a visit his family received from two Nachtwey boys—distant cousins from his dad’s side of the family.

Elizabeth Nachtwey was my grandfather’s paternal grandmother. She was born in Germany and came to the United States with her husband John Haase (later changed to Haws), settling in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. Apparently she had one or more brothers who also settled in Wisconsin. The story my dad told about Chet (the one name my dad remembered) and his brother was that they were traveling around the country, visiting family while they “worked on the family’s genealogy.”

It was a good cover story, and scored the boys a couple nights free lodging and a few meals at every house! According to my dad, his parents “encouraged” the young men to move on after a couple days. My grandparents were barely able to keep sufficient food on the table for the six of them, much less extended houseguests!

My dad was only a kid, but I imagine he remembered their visit because it would probably have been an “FHB” (Family Hold Back) situation. That was the code the kids got when there really wasn’t enough food to accommodate extra (especially if they were unexpected!) people. The family needed to take smaller first helpings, and forego second helpings, in an attempt to have enough food for the visitors.

As far as I know, no paperwork was left at the time, or arrived afterwards, from the Nachtwey boys (pedigree charts, family group sheets, etc.). I have no clue about how “successful” they were with their project. Nor do I know how they traveled from one place to another. Since they weren’t working, a car seems unlikely, so maybe bus, train, or hitchhiking? I really don’t recall if my dad mentioned anything about it, and he’s not around anymore to ask.

So, who was this Chet and his brother, off on an adventure to track down extended family during the depression? Searches for “Chet” came up dry, but I found a “Chester Peter Nachtwey”¹ that seemed likely. I learned² he was born 6 April 1909, and died 28 August 1992. The birthdate put him in his 20s at the right time. The Social Security Applications and Claims Index³ identified his parents as Edward Henry Nachtwey and Mabel J. Allie, corroborated with the 1910-1930 censuses.4

Further research showed me his father, Edward, was a son of John Joseph Nachtwey and Mary Margaret Gillen. John Joseph was the oldest son of Anton Nachtwey and Catherine Platten. Anton was my 2nd great grandmother’s next older sibling. That made Chet and my dad 3rd cousins, with Chet being a 3rd cousin once removed to me.

That all sounds beautifully simple, but reaching that conclusion was a little more complicated than it might appear. Anton and Catherine decided to name their three oldest boys:

  • John Joseph (usually went by Joseph, but sometimes John J.)
  • John Henry (seemed to go by either John Henry, or just John)
  • Henry

Talk about confusion! So as I researched this family this week, I was checking records for Edward (Chet’s dad) and his siblings, to be sure I had everyone attached to the appropriate family. I think I have it correct, though I did see a tree at Ancestry.com attaching Edward to Henry (rather than John Joseph)—which I really don’t think is correct.

But, back to Chet, my adventurer. He had an older (by 3 years) brother, William, and a younger one (by 5 or 6 years), Floyd. I don’t really know which one he was traveling with, but Floyd seems to be a little young to be galavanting around the country in the early 1930s. So William seems the more likely choice, though I have no proof of that.

Nor do I know where Chet headed after he left Deerfield. Nachtwey is not the most common surname! My searches turned up families in Pennsylvania and Minnesota, that I haven’t fully connected (though Floyd did move to Minnesota!). Of course, there are the girls, too, who would lose the Nachtwey name upon marriage. I corresponded in 1999 with a descendent living in New York. Then there was a large contingent that moved to Washington state (Seattle and Spokane) by 1909. Chet had plenty of people to visit—and that doesn’t even start on his mom’s family, or the female lines of earlier generations!

Imagine my surprise when I ran across a 1935 ship’s passenger list with his name on it! Clearly he was even more of an adventurer than I initially thought. He sailed from Cobh, Ireland, 13 October 1935, apparently alone. Why he went there, I don’t know. His mother’s maiden name was Allie, but all I know about her parents was that both were born in Wisconsin. Perhaps there was some Irish in her ancestry? Or maybe he just wanted to travel there.

Some time between October 1935 and the 1940 census, Chet married and moved to California. Once again, he surprised me. Moving to Spokane, where there were other relatives living, would have seemed more logical, but no, he chose California. Again, I have no idea why, but he owned a dry cleaning shop in 1940, and had squeezed in a year of college some time prior to 1940. In Wisconsin, he’d worked at the lumber mill, and the 1940 census listed his “usual” occupation as “waiter,” so I’m not quite sure how he got involved with dry cleaning.

He raised a fairly large family in Los Angeles (at least six children, with a couple more who died as infants), and died there in 1992. While wandering through the records, I spotted a newspaper clipping from 1960 or 1962 that had been uploaded by someone. It had a photo of his family in front of a camper, along with an aunt and uncle or a sibling (the owner of the camper). It seems the ten of them were heading out together on vacation, and it made the paper. Chet obviously still had a sense of adventure, even after “settling down” with a family! Unfortunately, I didn’t grab the image at the time, and I’ve been unable to relocate the image today so I could nail down the details.

Note to self: SAVE IT WHEN YOU SEE IT!

This week has been a bit of an adventure for me, too, as I researched a family line I really hadn’t looked at. There are still MANY more Nachtweys for me to ferret out—Anton had a LOT of descendants, and I’ve barely touched the tip of that iceberg! He and Elizabeth also had additional siblings I need to follow through on. In addition, I have at least one DNA match from this line, so I really should contact that person.

So, yeah, not quite done, yet . . .

#52Ancestors


¹”Chet”, En.Wikipedia.Org, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chet.

²Social Security Administration, “Social Security Death Index”, database, Ancestry.com,(https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 15 October 2019, entry for Chester P. NACHTWEY, SS no. 468-10-9496.

³”U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 15 October 2019, citing Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007, (index only); dated 4 Jan 1971 and 23 June 1982. Entry for Chester Peter NACHTWEY, SS no. 468-09-9496.

41910 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Forest, Wabeno, e.d. 29; Page 14B; dwelling number 228; family number 235; line 71; Edward NACHTWEY household; accessed 15 October 2019. Chester NACHTWEY, age 1 1/12; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1710; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Forest, Wabeno, e.d. 90; Page 7A; dwelling number 114; family number 117; line 47; Ed NICHTWEY household; accessed 8 October 2019. Chester NICHTWEY, age 10; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1987; digital image, Ancestry. (https://www.ancestry.com).

1930 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Forest, Wabeno, e.d. 21-16; Page 5B; dwelling number 95; family number 105; line 83; Edward NACHTWEY household; accessed 15 October 2019. Chester P. NACHTWEY, age 21; NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 2570; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

At Work

” . . . So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”–John Greenleaf Whittier

Robert Haws (Dad) is no stranger to this blog. He pops up in various stories, and I’ve touched briefly on his work life. This week we’ll take a more complete look. The quote above is taken from a poem he learned in high school.

Dad’s Navy discharge papers included a box for “preference for additional training” he would be interested in. “Comptometer (refresher)” and “accounting” were typed in. Unfortunately, there were tens of thousands of other guys returning home at the same time, all vying for jobs; plus he had a pregnant wife. Time out for education was a luxury he couldn’t afford—he needed a job. So he went to work for Mr. Marshall (Taxes) while they lived with Mom’s parents. Housing was in short supply, too!

In 1946, Dad made the decision to start an independent rug cleaning business, initially partnering with his brother, George (Comedy). Their dad had been on some construction jobs in Hinsdale, and thought the area was affluent enough to support a rug cleaning business. They acted on that suggestion. It took some time to find a place to live, so Dad set up a business phone line in Hinsdale, and had someone take messages until they could move. In pre-Tri-State Tollway days, it was a one hour drive from Deerfield, on the days they had work. Rug cleaning equipment was loaded into the back of the station wagon to go to jobs.

24 May 1948, outside the house at 422 S. Adams, Hinsdale. There is no lettering, but I imagine this station wagon was the first “truck.” Mom didn’t drive, and they wouldn’t have been able to afford 2 vehicles.

In early 1947, Mom & Dad finally found a first floor of a house to rent (above). Toward the end of 1947, Dad had bought out George’s share of the business. By 1949, a new different truck (below) had been purchased, nicely lettered! The early trucks were all used, I believe, because new would have cost too much.

Spring, 1949, my sister, Carole. This may have been the first truck with lettering: a Chevrolet. The hood has “Wallmaster Service.” He always abbreviated “Brothers” on the trucks. Fewer letters, lower painting cost!
Spring, 1949. Same truck as above, but 9-month old Warren sitting on the fender. Yes, based on other photos, there WAS another adult in front of the car, just out of the photo framing, but within reach!

Rug cleaning initially did not keep his schedule full, so as shown on the hood above, “Wallmaster Service” (wall washing) was added to have enough work. As a kid, I remember seeing a large, wooden box (bigger than a trunk) in the basement workroom with that lettering, and asking Dad about it. The wall washing equipment was stored in it, but by then he had discontinued using it.

November, 1952. Dad in a different truck, at their recently-purchased house (not visible—those are neighbors’ houses). Most likely the truck was newly-acquired, probably the reason a photo was taken! Sewers will recognize “Binding & Serging.” We had a machine for each in our basement, with a vast assortment of carpet binding tape and carpet thread. It worked for carpets just like for clothes: binding tape encased a raw edge and was stitched in place, and serging used 4 or 5 spools of thread to put an overcast stitch on a raw edge.

A home with a family business run out of it is different in so many ways. Work wasn’t a place you went to—it was part of everyday life. I understood at a fairly young age there was no guaranteed paycheck every week. If Dad didn’t work, there was no paycheck! It was never a source of worry—there was always money set aside—but it was a reality.

We were the only family I knew of (until high school, at least) who had two phone lines—and six phones! Of course, one line was for the business, which we kids would NEVER touch, unless it was to answer a business call. Each floor of the house had a phone for each line. We needed to be properly instructed before we were cleared to answer the business phone. I would never say, “My dad isn’t home . . .” It was always, “Mr. Haws isn’t available right now . . .” While most people who called for appointments knew it was a family business run out of our home, we always needed to sound professional.

That also meant if a business phone rang, the noise level dropped to zero. The first floor business phone was in the dining room, so if it was dinner, five children were immediately silent. There was no silverware clattering on the plate and no, “Pass the mashed potatoes,” while Dad answered the phone and asked the customer to wait so he could get his appointment book. While he went to the office in the basement, one of us would listen for him to pick up the line down there and make sure he was talking. Then the button was held down (to disconnect) before replacing the hand set. No hanging up noisily! Dinner returned to normal.

1971. I think there was another van before this one, but I didn’t find any other photos. I’m trying to recall why the lettering seems off (the “Bros.” is missing). Something must have happened to the doors, and maybe the only replacements he could find had windows? The “Haws” is definitely curved, which begs for a matching arc opposite, but it’s been way too long ago for me to remember the details!

Dad was not the least expensive rug cleaner. He always said he could never afford to have a sale. Either he’d lose money on the job (expenses wouldn’t be covered), or his reputation would suffer because he’d have to cut corners. Neither option was acceptable to him.

When you are the owner, the day doesn’t end at 5. Sometimes after dinner Dad was in the basement, catching up on paperwork, or cleaning an area rug picked up that day. We kids knew where he was, and could always go down to ask him something or say goodnight. Sometimes we got roped into helping with something (Father’s Day). My sister recalled getting “shampooer rides” when she was pretty young, if a rug was particularly dirty. Dad would have her sit cross-legged on the shampoo machine to add extra weight so it would scrub deeper. I never got that lucky.

We kids also got “hired” to sort the paid invoices. Each month was simply sorted by date, so didn’t really pay much. At the end of the year, though, all twelve months were merged and sorted alphabetically. That paid $10, but was a lot more work, deciphering Dad’s handwriting. It was good preparation for reading census records, though, and I learned that Llewellyn did actually start with 2 Ls.

The summer after freshman year of college, Dad hired me occasionally. My work hours had been cut at the jewelry store, but he was usually able to schedule one job a week that could handle a 3rd worker (me). I didn’t use the machines, but helped with moving furniture, hand scrubbing the edges of the room, and any other job he gave me. It was an interesting experience, watching him at work not in our basement!

The last truck. This one was fitted out for the truck-mounted “steam” equipment he added in the mid-1970s. It had propane tanks for heating the water and built-ins inside (designed & built by Dad) to keep everything secure. This photo was likely taken when he sold the business & retired in 1984, after 38 years in business.

None of us kids followed Dad into the rug cleaning business. My dreams at age four of a “Haws Sisters” rug cleaning business fizzled when Carole decided to become a teacher. I don’t know if it bothered Dad that no one carried on in his footsteps. I’m sure he would have welcomed it, but he never laid on a guilt trip, that I recall.

Growing up in a family business, I learned firsthand things I would later hear in college business classes—and some things that were never mentioned:

  • Be honest, and treat people fairly.
  • Pay yourself first (AKA “save for a rainy day”).
  • If you make a mistake, fix it.
  • If the customer is unhappy, fix it (even if it wasn’t your fault).
  • Stand by your principles. The husband who sent a check for less than the written estimate? Dad mailed the check back and wrote that full payment was needed. The guy stiffed him, so Dad never worked for them again.
  • Respect others in the business. I once made the mistake of calling the other rug cleaner in town “the competition.” Dad corrected me, saying they were “colleagues.”
  • Help out the new guys. People helped him when he was starting out. They may know something you don’t, or have a new idea worth listening to.
  • Keep learning. I watched him take night classes to earn a real estate broker’s license when I was in junior high. That said more than any words would have. So when he bought a PC at age 70, it didn’t surprise me!
  • Do your best. Always. Your name and reputation is at stake.

The work ethic I “caught” at home work far surpassed anything “taught” to me elsewhere. Thanks, Dad!

July 1984. “Happy Retirement, Bob” “The World’s Finest Carpet Cleaner” That sums it up, perfectly.

#52Ancestors


Comedy

“Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight!”–Stephen Sondheim

You may have discovered the harder we try at humor and comedy, the less successful it is. The unplanned moments are often the funniest. Most people don’t find genealogy entertaining, let alone funny. So much of what we research falls into the category of sad, even tragic, events. How does one find humor in the deaths, illnesses, war injuries, tornadoes, and rattlesnake bites that befell our ancestors? You don’t, because it just isn’t there.

Sometimes, though, comedy sneaks through during the research process. We learn a quirky fact about someone, or the process of tracking down a piece of information is so convoluted, you can’t help but laugh at how you reached your conclusion(s).

My dad was the youngest of five. His oldest brother, Paul, died very young. You met Dad’s next oldest brother, Henry, in Namesake. He was six years older than Dad, so I’m not sure that as kids they would have hung out much with each other. Marie was in the middle of the boys, leaving George, eighteen months older than Dad, as his closest sibling, age-wise.

With three older brothers, and three sons of my own, I’ve observed brothers, particularly ones close in age, can have interesting relationships. Sometimes difficult ones! I don’t remember hearing many stories about Dad & Uncle George when they were young, but I imagine when they weren’t killing each other, they were causing mischief together.

Around April, 1941, in the backyard at 910 Rosemary Terrace, Deerfield, IL. Robert Haws is on the left, newly enlisted brother George is in the middle, and brother Henry is on the right.

During the 1990s, Mom’s Meintzer clan held four reunions: 1990, 1992, 1995, and 1997. We kids flocked back home to attend them, if we could. I remember sitting in the kitchen one of those times, packing coolers, cooking, whatever. Mom’s kitchen wasn’t very big, but in our family, the kitchen was [is] a regular hang-out spot, regardless of whose house and kitchen.

So a bunch of us were in there, and Dad started telling this story about when he was a kid. He and George found some rags in their basement. They didn’t know what they’d been used for. Somehow they got the brilliant idea to see if they would burn! This was probably the late 1920s, so they were eight to ten years old, maybe? Not necessarily the age to think through consequences of their actions real well.

Their dad smoked a pipe, so finding matches wouldn’t have been hard. Latex paint didn’t exist, so the house paint would have been oil-based. Where you have oil paint, you have turpentine.

You can see where this was headed, right?

Apparently Bob & George had the sense to put the rags in a coffee can. Of course, the coffee can had probably been used to clean paint brushes, so it’s likely there was turpentine residue inside it, also. Anyway, the fire started by the rags (and yes, they were still in the basement!) was a little more robust than they anticipated.

Fortunately, their mother (Victoria) had been upstairs, smelled the smoke coming up the stairs, and went to investigate. She extinguished (smothered, I imagine) the fire, and gave the boys “what for.” Lesson learned, right?

No, not really.

In the next day or so, they had a repeat performance. I’m not sure whether they thought they had a “better” plan, or what, but their mom was back downstairs, putting out the fire again. That time she was probably more emphatic about stopping the nonsense, threatening promising to tell their father (Edward) if it happened a third time. That was enough motivation for them to cease and desist!

Now, rags burning in the basement of a 2-story wood frame house is not a joking matter. It’s downright serious! Time has a way of mellowing the danger, though, especially when we know everyone came through safely. By the time Dad finished telling his story, it was seen only as a comedy of errors. We adult kids were in hysterics, and the grandkids old enough to appreciate the story were shocked and appalled their grandfather was such a scalawag when he was young.

Then there was my mom.

She’d been at the sink during the story, washing vegetables or something. Her reaction was not one of amusement! She railed into Dad, wanting to know why, in 45+ years of marriage, she had never heard that story. She continued on about how he should have told her about that incident when Bob & Warren (my older brothers) burned their bedroom floor.

Hold the phone! What??

She explained that the burn mark on the oak floor in the boys’ bedroom was caused by them starting a fire. Granted, it was small, but still a fire. At the time (the ages were never nailed down, but probably somewhere around the age of our dad’s adventure), she was worried there was something more seriously wrong with them. If she’d know Dad and George had done the same type of thing, she might not have worried as much!

Warren, Bob, and me at Scenic State Park, near Bigfork, Minnesota. Yes, that is a Mickey Mouse Club, short sleeved sweatshirt. And a really big fish, not caught by me! Warren says it’s probably a Northern Pike, rather than a Walleye Pike. He doesn’t recall who actually caught the fish. It could have been either one of them, or my dad, who was taking the photo. Estimated date, July 1961, ages 13, 3, almost 14. Why are there no photos of the Bluegill (my “first” fish) that was placed on my hook when I wasn’t looking?

At that point, if we’d gotten our laughter under control, we all lost it again.

I remember there being a blackened area on their floor, usually covered by a throw rug. By the time Dad was telling his story, we’d been gone from that house for over 15 years. The floor and burn mark had been replaced by a McDonald’s, and I’m unaware of any photos with that section of floor. Mom is now 97; I don’t expect her to remember the circumstances (it’s been 20+ years since the reunion where it came up!). So as a thorough researcher, my only option was to contact the perpetrators. Bob died in 2008, leaving Warren as my only hope.

He wasn’t much help. Of course, It’s been 49 years since he moved out of that house! Did I have pictures? No. He had no recollection of anything like that happening, and adopted a Mission: Impossible attitude, disavowing all knowledge of the alleged incident. Evidently whatever punishment they received didn’t leave a huge impression! He suggested IF such an event occurred, it was probably him and Bob trying to light paper with a magnifying glass.

Some of you may remember back in the pre-Nintendo/Atari/Sony, and pre-iPad days, childhood entertainment was pretty simple. It could include roller skating, playing cops & robbers, or making stick floor plans for the worms on the sidewalk after a rain (yes, I was a weird kid!). Compared to that, firing cap rolls by hitting them with rocks, or lighting paper or dry leaves with a magnifying glass were far more exciting activities! But starting a fire that way was harder than it sounds, because it took a really steady hand to keep the beam focused on the exact spot. Move a bit, and you were effectively starting over! It was a skill I learned under the tutelage of my older siblings.

The boys’ room had three west-facing windows, but it presented several logistical problems, reducing the plausibility of the magnifying glass scenario:

  • the burn was closer to the door than the windows, so the sun would have had to come in at a fairly low angle
  • there was an elm tree (later succumbing to Dutch Elm disease) that would have blocked sunlight from that angle
  • even without the tree, the light passed through a window and window screen, first. I could be wrong, but I think that would have dispersed the beam enough that it wouldn’t have worked. It was hard enough starting a fire outside, sun directly overhead! Adding obstacles wouldn’t have helped.

Clearly the details of my brothers’ mischief have been lost through the years. I don’t doubt its occurrence, though. Mom had no reason to make up a story like that, but my brothers had every reason in the world to have forgotten the incident! We just don’t confidently know the why or how of their fire.

Sometimes it’s not the event itself, but the memory of it, and the reactions generated from retelling, providing the comedy. Fortunately none of our four “pyromaniacs” continued down that path—that we know of, at least! It seems I instinctively knew to keep my matches on the top shelf of a cupboard, and never retrieved them in view of my children . . .

#52Ancestors


Easy

“It’s so easy . . .”–Linda Ronstadt (1977)

No, I’m not writing about falling in love, and I’m not related to that Linda! This week’s prompt lodged the song into my head, and I just couldn’t shake it . . .

There are ancestors we think will be easy to research and track down: those with distinctive names, for instance. Unfortunately, an unusual name is no guarantee of being easy to find, because it’s so frequently misspelled. In addition to the “i-less” version of Meintzer (Mentzer), I’ve run across:

  • Mintzer
  • Menzer
  • Mentcer
  • Menzer
  • Menser
  • and so on!

Even less “complicated” names, like Mike’s Kuklers, have a dizzyingly wide variety of spellings, as vowel and consonant sounds swap at will:

  • Cukler
  • Kukla (minus Fran and Ollie!)
  • Cookler
  • Keckler
  • Geckler
  • that’s just the tip of the iceberg . . .

So if neither the unusual names nor the simpler names are easy, is anyone easy? The answer is no. Yes. It depends.

Clear as mud, right?

I’ve discovered searching becomes “easier” when I know more about a person or the family. That seems really obvious, but it’s trickier than it sounds! Just because I know lots of details, doesn’t mean I can use them all for searching. Sometimes I need to, sometimes I don’t. How to decide??

When too many search parameters are used, the person I’m looking for is often eliminated because one or more of the details is:

  • Missing
  • Unreadable/misread
  • Too specific
  • Not specific enough!
  • Way out in left field
  • Flat out wrong (yes those last 2 are technically different!)

in the record I am looking at. A search using fewer fields reduces the odds of someone not making the cut.

I finally found Mike’s 2nd great grandparents by searching for their 3-year-old son¹ with just his name, age, and county. It was a long shot that paid off. I had no idea where they lived in Detroit in 1870, so a page-by-page search would have taken forever.

Searching with less, I ended up with a relatively short list of kids, from whom it was easy to pick out the misspelled, sound-alike, surname. Reading with my ears is very important!

The two sets of 2nd great grandparents on my dad’s side, in Manitowoc², were found the old fashioned way, cranking reels of microfilm by hand (pre-internet). They lived in a rural area, with fewer families, but both their last names were recorded wrong! If I’d relied just on their names, I never would have found them!

Luckily, I knew their wives’³, as well as their children’s, names and birth years. Even when the surname didn’t look right, my eyes still picked up on the entire family unit. It slowed me down enough to take a closer look at the dads and realize they were the right ones. Without that information, those details, it would have been easy to miss, and difficult to make a case for those misspelled names.

Sometimes the small details keep me from chasing down a rabbit hole. Wrong occupation? Wrong location? It might be my person. Or not. People did change occupations and locations, but usually not as often as they changed their shirt. Does everything else fit? It may be fine, then.

Right wife, wrong kids? That always raises a huge red flag for me. While older kids move out, and younger ones are born, between one census and another, there is usually some carry over. A wholesale kid-swap is unlikely, but same-named, similarly-aged couples are more common than we think. I usually end up researching that family for quite a while to determine if they are mine. Most times it fizzles out.

Different wife, right kids? I start looking for the first wife’s death (or a divorce) and another marriage. I’ve found more than a couple later marriages that were a complete surprise! Fortunately, no bigamists. Yet.

So, easy? I don’t think it really exists in genealogy. Every once in a while there’s a situation when a new bit of information allows a number of other seemingly random pieces to suddenly fit together and make sense. I may delude myself into thinking it was easy, choosing to forget the blood, sweat, and tears; banging my head on the keyboard; and the wailing and gnashing of teeth (done quietly, so as not to wake Mike!); that transpired prior to that.

But then, its being easy wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying, would it?

#52Ancestors


¹1870 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, Wayne, 2nd precinct, 6th Ward, Detroit; Page 33; dwelling number 288; family number 292; line 5; Frank GUCKLER [KUKLER] household; accessed 4 September 2017. Frank GUCKLER [KUKLER], age 9/12; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 713; digital image. Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1870 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Two Rivers Town; Page 15; dwelling number 108; family number 113; line 10; John HORS [HOSS] [HAWS] household; accessed 2 February 2019. John HORS [HOSS] [HAWS], age 44–surname enumerated as HOSS, sometimes getting mis-indexed as HORS. Should be HAAS, HAASE, OR HAWS; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1723; digital image. Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³1870 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Two Rivers Town; Page 19; dwelling number 134; family number 139; line 10; John RINDER [BRUDER] household; accessed 2 February 2019. John RINDER [BRUDER], age 33; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1723; digital image. Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).