12

“Count your life by smiles, not tears. Count your age by friends, not years.” —John Lennon

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As a child growing up in Illinois in the 1960s, I loved the month of February. Not only was it short, getting us to spring quicker, but until 1969, we had two days off from school. Well, at least some of the time . . .

We often had Washington’s birthday off on the 22nd, already having had Lincoln’s birthday off on the 12th. It had to be one of six calendar configurations where that worked. Sometimes one or the other fell on a weekend, but we were guaranteed at least one day off in February, two if we were lucky!

All that disappeared in 1969, due to the prior year’s passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.¹ Goodbye, Abe . . . The switch usually left the two “birthdays” too close together, and the Federal holiday trumped the State holiday.

Of course, in our house February 12th was always a reason to celebrate, Lincoln’s birthday notwithstanding. It was my sister’s birthday. She was tickled to share the day with Illinois’s favorite son. I always felt it was unfair that she had no school on her birthday! By the time the new law went into effect, she was graduating from college, so the negative impact to her was minimal.

Carole also shared her birthday with our grandfather, Edward Mathias Haws! She played that card a lot, too. You have figured out by now that she was the oldest, right?

You’ve met Ed several times, already. Invite to Dinner, Independence, and Work probably have the most stories about him, with additional mentions of him, elsewhere. He was born on Lincoln’s birthday in 1887, but in Wisconsin, so it may not have been a big deal. Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois regularly brag about their Lincoln connection, but Wisconsin really has no claim to him. I’m sure Lincoln is not a rock star in Wisconsin, like he is in the other three states.


Edward Mathias Haws, born 12 February 1887, died 26 March 1966. Date of photo unknown but possibly taken shortly before his marriage in 1914. I believe I got the photo from one of my grandaunts — one of his sisters. I see a lot of my dad in him. Or maybe the other way around?

By the time Ed moved to Illinois, he was an adult, so no one much cared when his birthday was — or who he shared it with! I was young (not quite eight years old) when he died, so never had a chance to talk with him about his tenuous link to Lincoln. I don’t know how he felt about that, or about Carole being born on his birthday, for that matter. Was it something the two of them ever talked about?

I’ll never know. Shared birthdays are just one of those quirky things that pop up in a tree. But every February 12th, I have three people to think about, while I try to determine if the bank will be open, or the mail delivered.

#52Ancestors


¹https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Monday_Holiday_Act

At the Courthouse

Some stories are just sad . . .

Elizabeth Ann Schmitt is my 1st cousin, twice removed. She had a short, and sadly tragic, life, leaving us with more questions than answers.

Elizabeth was the first cousin of my grandfather, Edward Haws. She was born 26 October 1876, in Cooperstown, Wisconsin. Well, at least, that’s according to her grave marker (below). Ancestry.com has three different birth index entries for her, each with an 18 October 1876 date. The databases involved are:

  • Wisconsin, Birth Index, 1820-1907 (reel 116, record 002435)
  • Wisconsin, Births and Christenings Index, 1801-1928 (FHL Film number 1305082)
  • Wisconsin, Births and Christenings Index, 1801-1928 (FHL Film number 1305081)

Yes, I realize the last two are the same database, but note the different film numbers. The database description says it’s a compilation of birth, baptism, and christening details (1.4 million of them!) extracted by volunteers. I assume her birth appeared in two different sources, so it was indexed each time. The first index has a different data set. It contains over 1 million births recorded in the state before 1907, created by combining the index from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, Vital Records Division, with one created by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Ideally I would view those actual microfilms to see the specific information included, and follow up with the original records. It’s on the to-do list.

An additional hiccup (aside from the date!) is that her name is listed all three times as Ann E. Schmitt. “Hold the phone!” you say. “Maybe she’s the wrong girl?” That was my initial reaction, too, but the bottom two index entries list parents’ names: Michael Schmitt and Dorothea Haas (how her name came over from Germany). It seems an unlikely coincidence to have two married couples in the same county with identical names having daughters eight days apart and naming them flip-flopped. What are the odds? I’m betting it’s her, even not having viewed the original records, yet.

While I have no explanation for the date discrepancy, we need to remember people back then weren’t as obsessed about birth dates as we are. It’s possible the index entries are wrong (dates difficult to read in the originals?), though the three different indexes were undoubtedly transcribed by different people. It would be odd for them all to misread the date the same wrong way. As for the name, perhaps her parents named her in a traditional German way (forename, “ruf” name), and later reversed it to traditional American usage. Just a guess!

St. James Cemetery, County Road R, Cooperstown, Wisconsin;
photo taken 29 July 2008, Christine Haws Bauman

We next find 3-year-old Elizabeth in the 1880 census¹, down the road from Cooperstown, in Gibson, Wisconsin. The AWOL 1890 census doesn’t help me at all, leaving a 20-year gap in her information. But she is with her parents in 1900², living in Ontonagon County, Michigan, just outside Bruce Crossing. Her father, Michael, is working as a “lumberman.” In 1880, he was working at a sawmill. I don’t know if he’s employed by the same lumber company—simply changing locations—or if it was a bigger job change than that. Regardless, the family had moved over 200 miles away, without much explanation. I did find a 31 May 1896 death record³ for a younger brother to Elizabeth (Henry) who lived only 3 days. The family was still in Gibson, so I guess that narrows the move window to four years.

Two months later, 21 August 19004, Elizabeth marries Dr. Wallace H. Vosburgh. He was practicing medicine in Cooperstown, so obviously came to Michigan for the wedding. Presumably they had done their courting prior to her move, when she was still nearby. While I’m not one to question “true love,” the match seems a little unusual—he’s an upcoming physician in the area (you can read his bio-sketch from the “History of Manitowoc County Wisconsin”5 —scroll down towards the end for him). While there’s nothing “wrong” with her family, it doesn’t seem they would have had the “social standing” one might expect the young doctor to be looking for. But who knows?

Little more than a year after the wedding, Elizabeth dies on 9 January 1902. Volunteers in Manitowoc have done an awesome job posting information on the county website: a cemetery (St. James) transcription, with links to a tombstone photo, as well as obituaries for Elizabeth:


BRIGHT YOUNG LIFE GOES OUT Wife of Dr. W.H. Vossburg [sic] at Cooperstown Died Suddenly A bright young life closed Thursday with the death of Mrs. W.H. Vossburg , wife of Dr. Vossburg of Cooperstown. The demise was sudden and brought deep sorrow to many friends. Mrs. Vossburg had never enjoyed the best of health, but her condition was in no way considered serious and her death was a painful shock. Decedent was 24 years of age and had been married a little more than a year. She was the daughter of W. Smith of Gibson and was well known here. Friends extend sympathy to the bereaved husband. The funeral will be held Monday.


Manitowoc Daily Herald, Saturday, January 11, 1902, Page 1


Death in Cooperstown on Thurs. of Mrs. W.H. Vossburg, the 24-yr. old wife of Dr. Vossburg there with whom she had been married for slightly over a year. Although the deceased had been ill for some time no one anticipated that her end was near, so her death was unanticipated and a severe blow for her husband. The funeral was held Monday.


From Der Nord Westen, 16 Jan. 1902 (translated from the original German)

The statue added to Elizabeth’s tombstone appears to testify to the doctor’s grief. He certainly spared no expense! Italian Carrara marble was what was used for Michelangelo’s David and Pietà (in St. Peter’s). This statue seems to have been carved in Italy, but the monument company certainly played up their small part in installing the piece!

Advertisement highlighting the statue acquired for the monument above. Green Bay Press Gazette, 6 June 1903, accessed 25 February 2019, from Newspapers.com

I know, you are wondering where the courthouse comes in. It’s coming!

If you happened to click the link to Elizabeth’s obituaries, you may have noticed the note at the end:
“(the following sent in by a family researcher/see contributors page) Elizabeth Anna (Schmitt) Vosburgh/b. 19 Oct. 1876/d. 9 Jan. 1902/wife of Dr. Wallace H. Vosburgh, M.D./dau. of Michael and Dorothy (Haws) Schmitt/cause of death: self inflicted drug overdose (morphine) but “not with suicidal intent. She was addicted to drugs.” (emphasis mine.)

WHOA! We’re talking 1902, rural Wisconsin. What was going on? I’m not clueless, and I realize that patent medicines of that era contained alcohol, narcotics, and probably other ingredients we now know better than to use. What could have caused her to begin her use? Initially, I thought maybe she’d lost a baby, or had a miscarriage, or something else causing her to seek escape or relief. The obituaries were decidedly vague as to her health status, and didn’t suggest anything like addiction. I decided I needed to try and verify the facts closer to the source.

We had scheduled a trip to Manitowoc during the summer, more importantly, during the work week! I took one day to go to the courthouse (finally!) and look up records in the actual death registers. I found:

Elizabeth Vosburgh (born Elizabeth Schmidt), died 9 January 1902, Cooperstown, age 24 years, 2 months, 21 days. Born 19 October 1877. Father Michael Schmidt, born Wisconsin; Mother Dorothy Haws Schmidt, born Wisconsin. Cause of death: Narcosis from overdose of morphine taken by herself not with suicide intent. Addicted to drug for 5 years.


Manitowoc Deaths, Volume 7, page 35, record #33

So, there we have it: an official document (albeit one with her maiden name misspelled, her birth date wrong, and her father’s birthplace wrong!) Of course, Schmitt often got misspelled with a “d” replacing a “t,” and her husband might not have known her father was born in Germany. Death records are not reliable sources of birth dates, so we’ll give him a pass on that, too.

More unsettling than confirming the story, is the notation that she’s been addicted for 5 years. Her addiction started before her marriage. Presumably her husband had known about the situation before tying the knot. Had she been a patient of his? Had he initially prescribed the treatment? Was he attempting to wean her off morphine? Did he feel “responsible” for this tragic outcome? We’ll never know. Just as we’ll never know why or how she started down that path.

Death certificates frequently list other conditions the person may have had, but registers do not — their predefined columns don’t provide enough room. So we have no clue what other health issues were at play. All we know is that a young woman met with an unfortunate end, and that is sad.

#52Ancestors


¹1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Gibson, e.d. 065; Page 35; dwelling number 304; family number 307; line 32; Michael SCHMIDT [SCHMITT] household; accessed 25 February 2019. Elizabeth SCHMIDT [SCHMITT], age 3; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1434; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, Ontonagon, McMillan Township, e.d. 157; Page 3B; dwelling number 74; family number 77; line 77; Michael SCHMITT household; accessed 2 March 2019. Elizabeth SCHMITT, age 23, October 1876; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 737; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³”Wisconsin Deaths and Burials, 1835-1968″, database, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch Record Search (https://familysearch.org), accessed 2 March 2019, entry for Henry SCHMIDT, 31 May 1896. Indexed entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records FHL Film Number 1306211, reference ID Pg.132 No.00764. citing St. James’ Cemetery, Gibson, Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

4“Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 25 February 2019, citing Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Ontonagon County, quarter ending 30 September 1900, record # 418. Wallace H. VOSBURGH (29) and Elizabeth A. SMITH (23).

5Dr. L. Falge, History of Manitowoc County Wisconsin, 2 vols. (Chicago, Illinois: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1912), Wallace H. Vosburgh, M. D.; v. 2, p. 487-488. transcript accessed 3 March 2019 from. https://www.2manitowoc.com/biosV.html.

Bearded

To shave, or not to shave . . .

I was not terribly excited about this prompt, because I had zero ideas about what to write about. We don’t have any Amish in our trees, and offhand I couldn’t think of anyone with a beard. Mike’s 18-day beard when we went camping in the Pacific Northwest in 1998 (he decided to take a vacation from shaving) wasn’t particularly noteworthy. I don’t think we have a photo record of it, either.

His beard was kind of nice, and had grown out past the awkward and uncomfortable stage—itchy for him and rough/scratchy for me. But he shaved it off when we got home. As soon as we got home. That afternoon—not the next morning. No warning to me. No chance to say goodbye to it. I was in the yard picking up the mail from the neighbor and talking about the trip, when he walks out with a naked face! There aren’t even words.

So yeah, no story there. A couple weeks of working on other posts intervened. It finally occurred to me that Christian Meintzer did have a beard, but he’s already had quite a bit of press in the blog (My Favorite Photo and Colorful), and I don’t have any particular story about him and his beard. Cousins, feel free to help out!

So I’m going to cheat and back off to just a mustache. A number of them hang around our trees;

John Carmody portrait 1906
Photo ca. 1906 probably provided by him to The Port Huron Daily Herald for an article written about him 2 March 1906

some you’ve seen before. The first is John Joseph Carmody, Mike’s paternal grandfather. You meet him in Unusual Source. As I mentioned then, I don’t know that much about him, and certainly don’t know any stories about his mustache. But his photo from the paper is just to awesome to pass up!

Another mustache, attached to my great-grandfather, Carl Moeller, was from the same turn-of-the-century era. My mom remembers this grandfather’s handlebar mustache when she was growing up, and she said he had a mug with a bar across the bottom edge to keep his mustache dry when he was drinking coffee. When I see one of those in an antique stop, my mind immediately goes to him! He’s the 2nd from the left of the men in the foreground, below.

Carl Moeller Northbrook photo_0001

From the photos I have seen, my grandfather, Christoph Meintzer, never sported a mustache, but his older brother, Jacob, seemed to. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to put my hands on one of Uncle Jake’s photos.

I don’t recall my dad or any of my uncles having mustaches, but I vividly remember a time when all three of my brothers were mustachioed. It was the 1970s, so that explains a lot! Several cousins had them, also—some never giving them up.

1975 dad and sons
1974-1976? Warren, Bob, Dad and Bill in front of the house we kids grew up in. Three mustaches and one not. This is a fairly rare image of Warren with a mustache.

I must be getting old, because it seems one memory begets another. As I wrote this, I suddenly remembered my oldest brother, Bob, coming home for our oldest sister, Carole, getting married in May, 1969. I was at school when Mom picked him up at O’Hare . . . with hair down to his shoulders, and a full beard. She was not at all pleased. I don’t know what discussion went on, but by the time I got home from school, his hair was shorter and the beard trimmed up. Mom was visibly happier!

1969 May 31 Mom & Bob
31 May 1969 Mom and Bob, at Carole’s wedding.

Beards and mustaches aren’t particularly important in the grand scheme of things. We sometimes get so caught up in the stories of our people, that we ignore the littler stories behind the stories. Often those are as interesting—or more mysterious—than bigger issues in their lives. Were they

  • Following the fashion of the time?
  • Rebelling?
  • Taking on a dare?
  • Trying to be taken more seriously in their profession?

Most of the time we will never know, but it’s interesting to look for possible patterns. And we need to save those photos for blackmail, later!

#52Ancestors

Sports

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” -Vince Lombardi

scan0013
Fr. Dan with two of his younger 1st cousins, likely in Manitowoc, shortly after his ordination—so mid-1940s? I think I know who the girls are, but am not positive, so I won’t speculate.  Photo acquired from family members.

Mary Elizabeth Haws (Aunt May) is my grandfather’s (Edward Mathias Haws) next younger sister. Like him, she was born in Kossuth, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. In 1915, at age 25, she married John J. Carroll in Chicago, Illinois. John Carroll was born in Brooklyn, so I’m not quite sure how the two of them met and fell in love.

By 1910, Aunt May was no longer in her parents’ household. Many Wisconsin girls found employment in the homes of Chicago’s North Shore residents, (as my great-grandmother, Dorothea Harry did) so it’s possible she was working there and they met that way. Their oldest child, Gerard Paul (my 1st cousin, once removed), was born in 1916 in Chicago¹, but the young family soon moved to New York—specifically Brooklyn. That was where Gerard’s only sister, Virginia, was born in 1918.

Gerard Paul attended Catholic schools and seminaries in Brooklyn, eventually making his First Profession of Vows in 1940 with the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians), and being ordained in 1944. For his ordination he chose the name “Daniel.” That was the good old days when priests and nuns had to choose an entirely different name for their religious life. He spent the rest of his life as Father Dan(iel).

Where do sports fit in? It’s coming.

Vince Lombardi is of course, a famous Brooklynite. He was three years older than Fr. Dan, but they both attended Cathedral Prep and St. Francis. They knew each other from their high school years, becoming close friends. Fr. Dan became a staunch Green Bay Packers fan, and apparently Coach Lombardi would leave a sideline access pass for him, if the Packers were playing nearby.

Fr. Dan died 2 September 2002. In the 2-page memorial paper I received, it said, ” . . . there’s even a picture of him [Fr. Dan] sitting on the bench next to Lombardi on a cover of Sports Illustrated.” WOW! I didn’t pursue checking that out until a couple years later, when my cousin, Maria (his grand-niece), asked me about it. Her son was writing a report for school and she wanted to verify the story. I decided to help.

Lombardi would certainly find his way onto the Sports Illustrated cover—the question is, how many, and was Fr. Dan in the photo, too? It turns out Lombardi had three covers. I even located a web page with images of every cover! Unfortunately, none of them showed Lombardi on the bench, and zooming in or using a magnifying glass didn’t reveal any priest nearby.

Of course, we know from the “Napoleon” legend (Colorful) that stories sometimes get garbled along the way. Maybe the photo wasn’t on the cover, but inside the magazine? It was worth checking out. Of the nearby libraries, the only one to have a complete collection of Sports Illustrated magazines was the main (downtown) Indianapolis branch. So I dropped my son at school one day, borrowed a digital camera from a friend, and drove the 10 miles to downtown Indy.

The magazine back issues were stored in the closed stacks. The librarian did a double-take when I handed her the slip requesting all the issues from 1959-1968! I explained what I was trying to find. A short time later she rolled a cart up to the table I’d commandeered and left me to my task.

How does one eat an elephant? Small bites! Since I had no clue as to when the photo was taken, I decided to start at the beginning and proceed chronologically. I briefly thought of skipping the non-football season issues, but remembered that sports get written about off-season, too. Skipping some, then maybe having to go back and check them anyway, seemed a bad plan. I also considered using the table of contents to decide what pages to check, but realized that was a bad plan, too. I opened the first issue and started flipping through, page by page.

It was like reliving my childhood. Sports names I hadn’t thought of in years jumped off the pages at me. The fashions of the 1960s came flooding back as the ads flew by. I remembered styles that would have been better forgotten. Since I was looking for a photo, rather than an article, I made reasonably good progress through the issues. They were old magazines, though, so I also needed to be reasonably careful with the pages.

Suddenly, there it was, on page 20 of the 19 December 1960 issue: a 4.75″ x 5.75″ black and white photo of Fr. Dan and . . .  Paul Hornung.

NOT Lombardi!

Of course, not exactly chopped liver, either. It was the December 10th playoff game usually referred to as the “Mud Bowl.” It’s not the only game to earn that title, but being a playoff game increased its importance.

In the photo, Hornung is sitting on the bench warming up after having made what would be the only touchdown in the 13-0 shutout against the San Francisco 49ers. His number “5” is barely visible against his previously white jersey. Fr. Dan looks on from the side, in his overcoat and fedora, hand on his hip. That was an era when you went to the game far more dressed up than today’s fans do! Of course, Fr. Dan is not identified in the photo caption, or in the article, but from the few photos I have of him, there’s no mistake.

How did he end up at that game? Throughout his career as priest, Fr. Dan was assigned many places: Colombia, Wisconsin, Mexico, Arizona, Alabama, and California, to name a few. Some were longer assignments (5-10 years) others were shorter (1-2 years). In 1960, he was in Galt, California, about 90 miles from Kezar Stadium. I’d certainly make that drive to see the Packers!

I was THRILLED with my find, photocopied the article and used the digital camera for a better shot of the photo. Unfortunately, the licensing fee for me to include it here is beyond my budget, but you can find the back issue at your local library with the details from above, or visit Getty Images and search for “Hornung bench.” You will easily recognize it from my description.

If you are wondering, yes, I DID search through the remaining issues in the unlikely event that there had been TWO photos—maybe one with Lombard! No such luck. I’ll settle for the one victory, and the satisfaction of knowing Fr. Dan was friends with some of the best football players and coaches in history.

#52Ancestors


¹”Illinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N7S8-XLQ : 18 May 2016), Gerard Paul Carroll, 21 Mar 1916; Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States, reference/certificate 10641, Cook County Clerk, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,308,595.

Closest to Your Birthday

What? 100 years isn’t close?

You are probably expecting to read about someone who shares my birthday, or has a birthday close in date to mine. With 5000+ people in my tree, finding a shared or near birthday shouldn’t be difficult. There are only 365 days (366, counting leap year), so you have to start doubling up fairly quickly. If that’s what you are looking for, though, you will be disappointed!

When I began my genealogy life (Start), I soon learned that three of my eight great grandparents—all on my dad’s side—were born 100 (or 99–a little fudge factor, there) years before me:

  • Frank Haas/Haws: born 3 March 1858,  Two Rivers, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. He was the first or second child in his family born in the USA. I can’t quite nail down where his sister, Dorothy was born, but I’m sure for Frank. He stayed on the family farm (The Old Homestead) until he retired. None of his sons continued on as farmers.

    frank haws_0001
    Frank Haase/Haas/Haws 1858-1933. Photo came from one of the Haws grandaunts 40+ years ago. Taken before 4 May 1933 (Frank’s death date).
  • Dorothea Harry : born 26 March 1858, Two Rivers, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. She was the second youngest child of Peter Haré/Hary/Harry and Elisabetha Bullea/Boullie. You met Dorothea’s mother in Travel, as she carried one child and kicked the other as they walked to the farm. Dorothea moved to the Chicago North Shore to work as live-in help for one of the families. That was not uncommon for the time, and one of the few ways a girl could find a way out of rural Wisconsin. That allowed her to meet Ignatz!

    HARRY Dorothea portrait
    Photo credit: I thought I got it from Barb. She thought she got it from me. I probably got it from Fred. THANKS, FRED! 

    Dorothea Schweiger_0001

  • Ignatz Schweiger:   born 13 May 1859, Niederhoefen, Bavaria, Germany. He was the 2nd youngest child of a cheese maker. He came to America about 1882, as a butcher. How he learned that trade, I’m not really sure, but the family’s life revolved around that, and later, the restaurant. Everyone in the family worked there at some point (Black Sheep), and it was how my grandparents met each other (Invite to Dinner). How he and Dorothea met, I don’t know, though I suspect it was at church. I doubt that either one had much free time.

    Ignatz Schweiger barb
    Photo credit–ditto. I know Ignatz is a year off, but it’s pretty darn close!

    Ignatz Schweiger_0001

    As a teenager, the fact that I born 100 years after these direct ancestors caught my eye, and connected me to those great grandparents a little differently than the other five. I obviously never met them, and my dad knew only two of them, but somehow they just seemed closer.

The generational gaps from them to me were a little wider than typical. In genealogy, if we’re trying to decide when a parent’s birth might have occurred, we start looking 20-25 years before the birth of their oldest child. But this descendancy follows:

  • middle and younger children to
  • middle children (Ed & Victoria) to
  • youngest (Dad) to
  • youngest,

so we have 29 to 37 year gaps. Getting those to come out evenly to 100 is a little tricky—like when the cash register rings up with an even dollar amount, instead of stray cents. It’s not impossible, but seems to happen rarely—certainly less often than one in 100 transactions!

So is there any great significance to the last two digits of their birth years matching mine? Not really. It’s one of those serendipitous things that pops up in family trees—coincidences that have us wondering if they are accidental. None of my immediate cousins can make this same claim–not even with the other great grandparents. One of my children, though, was born 100 years after a great grandfather on my mom’s side, while another was born between two great grandmothers—so 99 and 101 years later. That’s something I never even thought about until just now.

Should I cue the Twilight Zone or X-Files music, yet? No, but I will probably continue to try and notice when these quirky coincidences happen. Maybe life isn’t as random as it sometimes seems.

#52Ancestors

Work

Sometimes our work and our loves coincide . . .

You met my grandfather, Edward Mathias Haws, in Invite to Dinner. He was born 12 February 1887 in Kossuth, Manitowoc, Wisconsin—in the house you met in The Old Homestead. His father, Frank, was a farmer, and I’m sure Ed did his share of farm work growing up. But I always knew of him as a carpenter.

He wasn’t a woodworker-type carpenter—tables, chairs, and whatnot. He was what I would call a house framer–building structures. I’m sure carpenters have a more appropriate term, but that’s the simplest term that comes to my mind. He did, however, make a couple of end tables that have stayed in the family. My cousin, Barb, has one she inherited from her dad, and my brother has another, inherited from our dad:

grandpa haws table barb
Barb’s table (photo used with permission)

Grandpa Haws table_cropped
My parents’ table (which apparently had a stain on top, hence the runner! (photo in my possession)

Grandpa Haws table Warren
Top of table on the right, refinished by my brother: “I sanded the top to remove the stain and finished to reveal the three woods that make the top, walnut, maple, and oak.” Photo credit, Warren Haws. Also the refinishing work!

Each table is fairly simple. They don’t match. I’m not sure if they were even made at the same time, or if Victoria said, “Hey, I need a table for next to this chair,” and he pieced together something with the wood he had handy at the time. Next time it was a different wood selection. Nevertheless, both are older than me, so probably have 3/4 of a century of use already.

So how did Edward Haws morph from farmer to carpenter? I don’t have a clear cut answer, but I have found information allowing me to create a timeline of his work life. In the 1900 census¹ he was still in school—probably not for much longer, as he had only an eighth grade education.² I’m sure his father had him working hard on the farm, too.  What has me puzzled, though, is when and how he made the switch from farming (what he grew up with) to carpentry?

The 1905 Wisconsin State Census³ has him off the family farm at age 18—working for Charles Kasten for 7 months as a “hired man”—”day laborer” in nearby Two Rivers. Kasten was a farmer, so the “day laborer” seems a little odd to me. There are other entries in that column for “farm laborer,” so there’s clearly a distinction. The enumerator would have been told the occupation, so someone (Ed? his employer?) saw Ed as something other than a farm worker. Is this when the shift started? Granted, on a farm you are going to end up doing a lot of building repair, and construction, so it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination. There were also two carpenters on the farm adjacent. Did they help him hone his skills? Who knows?

Family lore (AKA probably my dad or Uncle Henry) has Ed moving to Glencoe, Cook, Illinois, when he was 21—about 1908. Unfortunately, Ed is AWOL (so far!) in the 1910 census. Neither he nor his older brother, John, are on the family farm. I even checked out the Kasten family Ed was working for five years earlier—nada. Nor do I find him in Glencoe, near the Schweiger family, which he will marry into in four years.

Realizing the last name has lots of misspelling potential, I paged through 4 of the 8 enumeration districts in New Trier township, with no success. My eyes needed a break before tackling the rest of them! Barb did the same thing in Wisconsin. We found lots of other Haws relatives, but no sign of him. Several options exist:

  • The enumerators missed him entirely (he was young, single, and possibly moving around)
  • His name(s) got horribly mangled, so we can’t find him in the indexes
  • Whoever he was lodging with was careless with providing information—either missed or wrong
  • He was living and working some place we aren’t looking at
  • More than one of of the above!

He and Victoria marry in 1914, and they needed to date prior to that, but it’s possible he wasn’t living in Glencoe in 1910. Without knowing a specific location, that’s a LOT of microfilmed/digitized images to page through between Manitowoc and Chicago . . .

At some point in the 1910s, he built 2 houses on next to each other in Glencoe—one for his in-laws, and one for himself. His 3 older children were born in that house on Woodlawn, and that’s where he was living for the 1917 WWI draft.4 So in June, he was a gardener, day laborer. I do know he liked to do gardening. Maybe he had that as a sideline, so if he wasn’t working on a house construction job at the time, I can see him listing gardener as his occupation, and not carpenter.

Some time in the next 9 months, he moved the family back to Wisconsin, settling in Manitowoc (town), to work in the shipbuilding yards. Their last 2 children—George and my dad—were born there, and the 1920 census5 lists shipbuilding as his occupation. By 1925, the family is back in the Chicago area, renting in Highwood6 while Ed built the family’s new home in Deerfield.

The 19307 and 1940² censuses list his occupation as carpenter. What they don’t tell you, is that he was a member of the carpenter’s union, and wouldn’t work on a non-union construction job. As difficult as times were during the Depression, adding that limitation to where he would or wouldn’t work would have made them more so. Nor do those documents tell you that he helped with the construction of the rectory where my parents got married (Going to the Chapel), or other “side projects.”

For instance, when my parents bought their 1st house in 1952, it had no garage. Grandpa came out and helped my dad build a 2-car garage. And the two of them constructed custom storage in the upstairs hallway, using unfinished dressers for the base, and building a cupboard top above it, all the way to the ceiling. Whether he constructed anything similar in his other children’s houses, I don’t know, but it would seem likely.

He died in 1966, at the age of 79. but I don’t know when he retired from work. How and where my grandfather learned his carpentry trade, I don’t know, but it was a huge part of his life, and seemed to spill down to later generations, including (but not limited to):

  • my dad, who rebuilt the front half of the garage next door to us (which partly burned down)
  • 2 of my brothers, who developed considerable skill in woodworking
  • at least 2 of my children, who also “kick around” in wood a good bit. You know how kids are—we don’t always hear everything!

Is there a “woodworking gene”? I don’t know, but part of me wouldn’t be the least bit surprised!

#52Ancestors


¹1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth Town, e.d. 69; Page 7A; dwelling number 122; family number 131; line 34; Frank HAWS household; accessed 6 September 2018. Edward HAWS, age 13; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1797; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Lake, Deerfield, e.d. 49-107; Page 14B; household number 301; line 48; Edward HAWS household; accessed 10 September 2018. Edward HAWS, age 53; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 828; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³1905 Wisconsin state census, population schedule, Manitowoc, Two Rivers town, p. 928, family no. 188, line 98, entry for Edward HAAS [HAWS], age 18 in Charles KASTEN household; accessed 7 Septermber 2018, index and images; FamilySearch, FHL microfilm 1020454.

4“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.familysearch.org), Edward Matt HAWS, serial no. 933, order no. 60, Draft Board 3, Cook County, Illinois, citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 1504112. accessed 6 September 2018. Registered 5 June 1917.

51920 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Manitowoc Ward 6, e.d. 106; Page 9A; dwelling number 1860; family number 169; line 36; Edward M. HOWE [HAWS] household; accessed 7 September 2018. Edward M. HOWE [HAWS], age 32; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1994; digital image, Ancestry.com. (https://www.ancestry.com).

6“U. S. City Directories, 1822-1995”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing Polk’s Waukegan Directory, 1925. Entry for Edw. HAWS, p. 685, accessed 7 September 2018.

71930 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Deerfield, e.d. 49-17; Page 2A; dwelling number 23; family number 23; line 21; Edward HAUSS household; accessed 10 September 2018; NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 528; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

Music

Music links us to a time, place, and people, and can trigger memories, just as smell does. I still remember walking around town with girlfriends the summer before 8th grade, figuring out the words to “American Pie” –before album liners and the internet solved that problem.

I wouldn’t really say my family is musically inclined. We are not clones of the Von Trapps, and there’s no “Pa Ingalls” with a fiddle lurking up-tree from me to go on about. I remember watching with dismay when the used upright got carted out of our living room and sold before I was old enough for lessons. My older siblings got them, but the combination of the cost and the annoyance of having to nag them to practice got old for my parents. The money could be put to better use, and having fewer topics to nag your children about is always a good thing!

My sister enjoyed the piano, however, eventually obtaining one for her own household, which she did play. One brother went the guitar route during high school (didn’t everyone in the 1960s?) and is still fairly good–though I don’t know that he plays much anymore. I dabbled in clarinet at school, but realized I was no Benny Goodman, and dropped it after a while.

My parents enjoyed listening to music, so we had records in the house. Mom even taught me some songs (beyond nursery rhymes) when I was young. It was what we did in the car in the pre-Walkman/iPod/iPad days. Unfortunately, I learned the lame “if one of the bottles should happen to fall” version of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” I guess she figured it would help me with counting, and was more appropriate for a 4- or 5-year old! It wasn’t until junior high when I learned the more typical “take one down and pass it around” lyrics!

The other memorable song in my life was “Johnny Rebeck.” The spelling is approximate, but that’s how it sounded. If you Google it, there are lots of variations in name spelling and lyrics. Below is what I remember singing:

There was a little Dutch man, his name was Johnny Rebeck.
He was a dealer in sausages and sauerkraut and speck.
He made the finest sausages that ever have been seen,
And one day he invented a brand new sausage machine

chorus:

Oh, Mr. Johnny Rebeck, how could you be so mean?
I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine.
Now all the neighbors’ cats and dogs will never more be seen.
They’ll all be ground to sausages in Johnny Rebeck’s machine.

One day a little fat boy came walking in the store.
He bought a pound of sausages and dropped them on the floor.
He then began to whistle. He whistled up a tune,
And soon the little sausages were dancing around the room.

Chorus (above)

One day the thing got busted, the old thing wouldn’t go.
So Johnny, he climbed inside, to see what made it so.
His wife, she had a nightmare, and walking in her sleep,
She gave the crank a twist (sometimes “deuce”) of a yank, and Johnny Rebeck was meat!

Chorus (above)

Rather a macabre little ditty! Explains a lot about me, right? Mom knew the song as a girl (1920s) but doesn’t remember if she learned the song from her parents, grandparents, or friends. She grew up in a town with a high concentration of residents with German ancestry (including her own). I’m not sure if “Dutchman” is intended as is, or possibly “Deutchman” (“German man”) instead (like with Pennsylvania Dutch)? Or was it intended as a slam against the Dutch? I’m not sure many Dutch settled in Chicagoland, so they would miss their target. Sauerkraut and speck/spek are a part of both cultures, so neither is eliminated.

The only origins I find for the song dub it as a scout song. I learned it about the same time as “99 Bottle of Beer,” from Mom, NOT scouts.

What, you are wondering, does this have to do with genealogy? Well, nothing–and yet everything. It’s an illustration of how information–in this case a nonsense song–can get lost over time. A half century of disuse causes memories to get fuzzy. The same thing occurs in other areas of our family history–unless they are recorded somewhere. That’s why I write this blog. Sometimes I’m sorting out a genealogy puzzle (complete with footnotes!), and sometimes I’m documenting the bits and pieces of family lore I’ve picked up along the way. I try to make sense of them, put them in context, and just remember them, before I forget!

I didn’t teach my children this song, though possibly they heard it once or twice. The mindset when they were young wouldn’t have approved. Raffi and Fred Penner were more acceptable, so I caved. Of course, now that they are seeing it here, I may never be given access to my grandchildren, again (no, I haven’t taught it to them, either!). But at least it’s recorded and remembered.

Of course, a song is nothing without its tune! This one was very fun and catchy. I found this link: Johnny Rebeck melody so you can hear it for yourself. Other videos exist, but they were just *wrong*. I didn’t care about the words, just the tune. I’m certainly not sending you to the one sounding country-ish. Eww! Others were just plain scary . . . This one was the closest–coincidentally it’s coming from scouts!

Maybe for a Christmas prompt I’ll break out “Hardrock, Coco, and Joe” for you . . .

#52Ancestors