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:
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:
Kukla (minus Fran and Ollie!)
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:
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. Itslowed 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?
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).
When I started doing genealogy, I quickly realized we were “newbies” in this county. I am only the third or fourth generation in the United States, so no DAR or Mayflower Society for me! Unfortunately, with the exception of my Meintzer line, I don’t have much information about the immigrant ancestors. Oh, I know who they are, sometimes I know roughly where they came from, and I may have narrowed the arrival window. That may seem like a lot, but usually I can’t pinpoint an exact date, arrival port, departure port, and in most cases, an ancestral village. That makes research farther back, impossible.
Thus, I’m not really sure when my earliest ancestor arrived. The Jost (Yost) family might be the ones, so I’ll spend this week trying to nail down something more specific for them. I haven’t looked in a while, and new databases are always coming online. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find something.
What do I already know? Elizabeth Jost (2nd great grandmother) married Johann Mathias Bruder in Wisconsin in 1859. In letters from two of my grandfather’s sisters, the information was a little vague:
Clara Haws Koch said Elizabeth’s birth year was 1835
Mary (May) Haws Carroll said “My mother’s [Anna Bruder] father & mother [Johann Mathias Bruder & Elizabeth Jost] are buried in Francis Creek Cemetery, as also is my grandmother’s [Elizabeth Jost] father & mother, whose name is Johanna Mathias Jost & Elizabeth Jost.” [It should be Nicholas (not Johanna Mathias!) Jost]
Both women were in their 80s when writing that, and lived a decade longer. In the mid-1970s, their parents and grandparents had been dead a long time, and I doubt they were looking at any paperwork when they answered my letters. They gave me a starting point, though, so I’m not complaining. When I look into records, I find:
Nicholas Jost (St. Anne, died 23 September 1886, age 86; infer 1800 birth)
Elizabeth ______ Jost (St. Anne, died 30 January 1863, age 55; infer 1808 birth)
Elizabeth Jost Bruder (St. Anne, died 15 January 1894, age 55; infer 1839 birth) — death certificate infers 1838
I don’t have solid death dates, much less cemeteries, for any of Nicholas & Elizabeth’s sons (Mathias, John, & Peter).
1900 & 1890 census
1900 was the first census to specify the immigration year, number of years in the US, and the person’s naturalization status (alien, papers applied for, naturalized). Unfortunately, both parents (Nicholas & Elizabeth), as well as daughter, Elizabeth, died before then. I’m not sure whether Mathias was alive, but I don’t find him in that census. That information isn’t always correct, especially that far back, but it’s usually pretty close. The one possibility I DID find, arrived in 1864, with a wife. That doesn’t fit. The other Josts (see next section) aren’t found, either, so have probably died.
I did find a likely Mathias Jost in the 1890 Veteran’s Schedule.² Unfortunately, that doesn’t help with finding him in 1900, or answer the immigration question. Now let’s take a bigger jump back in the census records.
1850 census and Land Purchase
A Nicholas Yost, (54 — the German “J” is pronounced like a consonant “Y,” so this is a common variation), lived in Manitowoc Rapids with wife, Elizabeth (50), and three children. The 16-year-old son’s name started with “M” and ended with “ST” and is illegible/nonsensical in-between. Daughter Mary was 9, and son, John, was one. John was the only one born in Wisconsin; the others were all Prussia.
Several problems surface with this snapshot of the family. ALL the ages are “off” compared to other sources I consider more reliable:
Nicholas by 4 years
Elizabeth by 8 years
Mathias by 1 or more
Mary by 2 or 3
John may be pretty close — babies usually are!
Census ages can be notoriously inconsistent, so there’s wiggle room for them. But then there’s the whole name issue. “Mathias” isn’t what the census recorded. Nowhere do I ever see my 2nd great grandmother recorded as anything other than Elizabeth. Why would I think this is the right family?
German naming custom could easily be in play here. On my mom’s side, I’ve got a mother-daughter “Maria Elisabetha” pair, both of whom went by “Elizabeth.” That’s my theory here. “Mary” was actually “Mary Elizabeth” and was either being called Mary by the family as a child, or the enumerator was told “Mary Elizabeth” but only “Mary” was recorded.
Later census records didn’t suggest there was another, similar, family nearby. So, despite the issues with this census data, I feel confident these are my Josts. As mentioned in The Old Homestead, Nicholas purchased a parcel of Homestead land 10 August 1850, so he was obviously in Manitowoc County by then.
The dwelling enumerated before them has a Nicholas (26) and Pete (24) Jost with property of their own. Their relationship to my Jost ancestors is not established, though their ages and proximity suggests they are related. Due to Nicholas & Elizabeth having a son, Peter, in 1853, I believe these twenty-somethings are nephews who arrived in Wisconsin — with them, or separately.
The 1860 census had Nicholas (60) & wife Elizabeth (55— slow aging?) listed with a last name of “Jose.” It seems the “t” at the end wasn’t pronounced clearly enough to be heard by the enumerator! Daughter Elizabeth was out of the house, married to John Bruder. Mathias (24) was not yet married, John was 10 (short a year) and a new child, Peter (7), appeared. Even with the misspelled surname, this family is consistent with the Yost family in 1850.
What about the two Jost men who had lived next to them? I haven’t been able to positively identify either in the 1860 census, or later ones. Several additional Jost families appear in Manitowoc County between 1850 and 1860. Some are new immigrants, some may be these young men, now married. Unfortunately, the marriage indexes show a date and groom’s name, but the bride isn’t linked in that record. It’s difficult to connect her separate record to the right groom. It will take some extra effort, and perhaps a trip to Wisconsin to look at the register books and better track land ownership, to sort out the additional Jost families.
Nicholas, age 70, was living in the household of Mathias & Gertrude Joist [Jost]. Relationships weren’t stated in 1870, but this is likely to be his son, Mathias. Listed below Nicholas was Catherine, age 56. That’s a story for another day, but suffice it to say his wife, Elizabeth, died in 1863, and Nicholas remarried. Below her was 17-year-old Peter, born in Wisconsin. Again, no relationship, but the inference was that he was Nicholas’s son who we saw in 1860. Middle son, John, is out of the picture, but being 20+, this isn’t surprising. I have the same problem with him that I had with the younger Nicholas and older Peter — I can’t be sure if/who he married, so can’t pick him out from the various John Josts in the county. The blended family we see here is certainly consistent with the earlier ones.
In 1880, Nicholas was widowed again, and was now living with his daughter, Elizabeth and her husband, John Bruder. Mathias and family disappeared from Manitowoc County, but this time I tracked him down in Marathon, Wisconsin. His having a bunch of kids really helped me out! It seems my 1850 family is, in fact, the correct one. Throughout the week I discovered (or confirmed) a lot, but not enough.
What I DIDN’T find:
Naturalization papers — Those might have an arrival date or ship name, but no, none to be found.
Passenger list(s) — Nothing shows up on Ancestry. None of the Josts in the Castle Garden database fit the immigrants I know about. It’s also possible they came up from New Orleans — though I don’t have any documentation or family lore to support that scenario. Maybe they swam.
Obituaries — I had hoped the Find-A-Grave memorials might have had obituaries added. Those might have contained information about when they arrived or the town they came from, but no. Newspapers.com didn’t have the years I needed for the county newspapers, so none there, either.
Death certificates — All I can find are indexes, and the birthplace is always a generic “Germany.” I don’t know if the actual certificate might be more specific, but I don’t have those.
Why did I spend so much time tracking each census year, instead of trying to find more passenger lists or naturalization records? Those may not exist (at all, or not online), and I may not be able to identify my ancestors in them. I hoped to track everyone forward to a record that would narrow down the year or place. Since my earliest census had some consistency problems, I needed to be sure those family members moved forward in time in a way that connected them to later information (death dates and cemeteries), if I found it. If they couldn’t match up with the later records, then the 1850 family was probably the wrong one. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, none of the immigrants survived to a census with more detailed immigration information! Lousy luck. The six people I was tracking didn’t generate the records that might have helped.
So I didn’t exactly accomplish what I’d set out to. Before this week I had Josts narrowed down to about a 10-year immigration window (between Elizabeth’s (daughter) and John’s births. That really hasn’t changed (1838-1848), and I still don’t know the ship. But looking at this family in a semi-organized way has resolved a couple questions:
Nicholas & Pete (from 1850) are likely to be extended family
I know what happened to Mathias after 1870 (he moved to Marathon, WI)
It’s also pointed out that I REALLY need to spend more time sorting out the descendants from this line, to get a more complete picture. That’s for another day. Some unexpected pleasant surprises materialized, though:
I discovered several more Civil War veterans. They are relatives, not ancestors, but that’s okay.
I MAY have discovered Elizabeth’s (mother) maiden name AND the town they emigrated from. If so, that would be huge!
I was looking at my leaf hints (I know, always a risky proposition!) when I noticed Mathias had a hint in the “Saarland, Germany, Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1776-1875” database. I can’t see the full information, or the image, from home, but the birth year is reasonable, and the parents are a Nicolas Jost and Elisabeth Goedert. The birth was recorded in Nenning, Saarland. When I clicked on his sister’s leaf, the same database pops up, with the same parents, same town, and a reasonable birth year for her. The two children in the registers are undoubtedly siblings (same parents). It seems unlikely the birth years would match up so well, if they weren’t my Mathias & Elizabeth. A trip to the library is needed to assess the records, but I’m cautiously optimistic.
If you ever wondered why I spend the time correlating information and filling in the gaps, now you know. Sometimes it pays off, big time!
¹Find-A-Grave, database, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com) accessed 23 June 2019, memorial 155697934, Nick Jost, (unk-1886), Saint Anne Cemetery, Francis Creek, Manitowoc, Wisconsin; photographs by Bev Rockwell.
Find-A-Grave, database, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com) accessed 23 June 2019, memorial 155697971, Elizabeth Jost, (unk-1863), Saint Anne Cemetery, Francis Creek, Manitowoc, Wisconsin; photograph by Bev Rockwell.
Find-A-Grave, database, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com) accessed 23 June 2019, memorial 144417009, Elizabeth Jost Bruder, (1839-1894), Saint Anne Cemetery, Francis Creek, Manitowoc, Wisconsin; photograph by Bev Rockwell.
²1890 U.S. census, “Schedule Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War schedule”, Wisconsin, Marathon, Marathon, e.d. 115; Page n.g. (written); image 1 of 2, line 1, Mathias JOST; Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com) accessed 23 June 2019. Population schedule house number 167, family number 171; NARA publication; M123.
³1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Manitowoc Rapids; Page 44; dwelling number 207; family number 213; line 18; Nicholas YOST household; accessed 17 June 2019. Nicholas YOST, age 54; NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 1002; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
Nicholas (age 26) and Pete (age 24) JOST the dwelling and family before them
41860 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth; Page 227; dwelling number 1789; family number 1773; line 27; Nicholas JOSE [JOST] household; accessed 23 June 2019. Nicholas JOSE [JOST], age 60; NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1418; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
51870 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth; Page13; dwelling number 92; family number 85; line 5; Mathias JOST household; accessed 13 June 2019. Nicholas JOIST, age 70; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1723; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
61880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth, e.d. 66; Page 12; dwelling number 104; family number 108; line 12; Mathias BRUDER household; accessed 3 February 2019. Nicklos JUST [JOST], age 75; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1434; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Marathon, Marathon, e.d. 88; Page 11; dwelling number 66; family number 67; line 19; Math. YOST household; accessed 13 June 2019. Math. YOST, age 47 [very faint]; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1433; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
I’ve had more than my share of road trips, racking up 50 states, and 32 countries so far. When my dad was a kid, though, road trips were were much rarer. It’s likely that until he joined the Navy, he traveled only between Wisconsin and Illinois!
He was born in Wisconsin, not too far from his paternal grandparents, Frank Haws (The Old Homestead) and Anna Bruder Haws, but that would soon change.
His family returned to Illinois not long after my dad was born. They appear in the 1922 city directory, living in Glencoe¹ with Victoria’s recently widowed mother, Dorothea Harry Schweiger (Back to School). By 1925, they had moved to a rental house (25 East Webster) in Highwood,² while my grandfather, Edward Haws, built their house on Rosemary Terrace, in Deerfield. They now lived a long way from Dad’s paternal grandparents, so couldn’t see them often.
Once, though, on a trip to Manitowoc or Door County when I was a teenager, Dad reminisced about his trips up there when he was a kid. It was Ed, Victoria, and 4 kids piled into the family car. I’m not sure if it was a Model A or a Model T, but my money is on the Model T, being a more reasonably priced car. Dad said they always had at least one flat tire on the trip—maybe more!
If I’d thought about it at the time, I’d have pressed him for more details, and written down the answers. Ah, the foolishness of youth!
This week’s prompt jogged my memory, so I started thinking about those trips up north. According to Google maps, it’s 164 miles from Deerfield to Manitowoc, and takes 3 hours 47 minutes on non-interstate roads. The roads in the late 1920s/early 1930s were not as good as roads today, and the cars slower.
The top speed for a Model A was 28 MPH; 40-45 MPH for the Model T. I’m sure neither car drove those speeds on the roads of that era, but let’s be generous! If the Model T went 30 miles per hour, that’s a 5 hours and 28 minutes trip, minimum.
Then there’s stopping for gas, bathroom breaks—4 kids, remember?— lunch at a “roadside park,” slowing down for towns, plus time to fix a flat tire. We’re looking at an all-day trip, each way. If they went up to visit, it probably wasn’t for a day, or even a weekend; a week is more likely, maybe two.
I suppose Ed could have driven Victoria and the kids up, and gone back home to work during the following week, then come back for them, but that’s a lot of driving for him. Besides, most of his siblings lived in the area, so it would have been one of his few chances to see them.
As frequently happens when checking the facts for a blog post, either I find something new, or I unearth a detail I’d forgotten about. This week was no different! I’ve always known they spent time in Highwood—my dad remembered (and talked about) living there before moving into the house in Deerfield. I just assumed that was the only other place they lived in. So I was surprised last fall to discover them at Dorothea’s house so soon after dad’s birth! I always thought Dad lived in Wisconsin for at least a couple years.
While he told stories about Grandma Schweiger’s house, I always thought they were from visits there. Indeed, he may have had no memory of ever living there. Regardless, when I found and documented the 1922 directory listing, I didn’t really think about it, or fit it into a timeline for the family. I was hurrying to harvest as many records as I could, and didn’t mentally process it properly.
Thank goodness I decided to enter it in my software, anyway, instead of blowing it off! I could have easily dismissed it as, “Oh, that’s Dorothea’s house, I don’t need to record that.” That would have been a mistake—I’d be missing dots I needed to connect.
So, what had started as an innocuous road trip story, ended up filling in more dates and places in my dad’s, grandparents’, and great grandparents’ timelines. That’s always a good thing!
¹”U.S City Directories, 1822-1995″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing R. L. Polk & Co. Evanston City and North Shore Directory, 1922-1923. Entry for Edw. HAWS, p. 630, accessed 7 September 2018.
²”U.S City Directories, 1822-1995″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing Polk’s Waukegan City Directory, 1925. Entry for Edw. M. HAWS, p. 685, accessed 7 September 2018.
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!
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!
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.
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.
“When in doubt, go to the library.” —J. K. Rowling
Like any genealogist, I have put in time at many libraries. As a fledgling genealogist in the mid-1970s, my first guide book (Searching for Your Ancestors by Gilbert H. Doane, if I remember correctly) would have come from our local library. I think it was the lone geneology title on the shelf! Everything I knew about researching came from that book, until I received a paperback copy of Finding Your Roots by Jeane Eddy Westin for Christmas in 1978 or later. That book still sits on my shelf, non-acid-free pages yellowed with age.
Flipping the pages was a stroll back in time. I saw the parts I underlined (who used highlighters back then?) and paused at the section talking about Chicago’s Newberry Library. I knew the “LDS Salt Lake City Library” (as Ms. Westin referred to what we now know as the Family History Library) was not in my future. I did not live where my ancestors had, so “local records” were not nearby. Manitowoc, Wisconsin, was far enough away (3 hours) that a trip wasn’t really feasible. But the Newberry Library was only a half hour away, and would have more resources than a local library or historical society.
So somehow I managed to con persuade my dad to make a trip to the Newberry with me one Saturday. I knew my parents wouldn’t let me venture into the near north side of Chicago on my own! When we walked into the library, it was obvious that I was the youngest person in the building. My dad, in his early 50s, may have been the next youngest! I knew I had only a few hours there, so needed to make the most of it!
I do not have a research log from that visit. I was a teenager — I didn’t know any better. But I remember looking through the card catalog for anything about Manitowoc County. I’m pretty sure the stacks were closed, so I had to fill out a request slip and wait for them to retrieve the books for me.
While waiting, Dad and I went into the microfilm room to look for census records from Manitowoc County. With two of us there, we could cover twice the films, right? Of course, neither of us knew what we were doing! I found a couple reels for 1880 and we set to work looking for John Bruder¹ and family, and John Haase and family. You met some of them in The Old Homestead.
We knew they were in Manitowoc county, and knew some town names to start with, but it was still a page-by-page project. We learned the joys of cranking the microfilm handle, pausing to scan the page, then repeat. Luckily, neither of us experienced motion sickness, as some do!
I probably don’t still have the notes from that day, having transferred them to Family Group Sheets and Pedigree Charts. But the lessons learned that day have stuck with me. Things I had only read about, became glaringly obvious:
Spelling is flexible. For Haase, I found:
For Bruder, I found
“Brother” (yes, “Bruder” translated to English!)
“Rinder” in the 1870 Ancestry index (name misread by the indexer)
First names were not exempt!
Johann Mathias: Mathias, John, Johann, or John M.
Elizabeth: Elisabeth, Elisbeth, or Lisabeth,
Nicholas: Nicklas, Niclaus
Catherine can be “C” or “K”, with or without the “e” in the middle, and even “Katy”
Age is relative! As long as the gaps between children were consistent with what I expected, I learned to roll with it. And adults were given wide latitude with their ages, too.
I quickly realized I could not rely on reading last names, and needed to look at the entire family — parents and kids together! The kids’ names weren’t particularly unusual, but the odds were low that, even if the last name was wrong, there probably weren’t two families with Elizabeth, Dorothy, Frank, Bertha, John, and Henry (or whoever) in the right order, with the right age gaps. That probably was the beginning of my learning to “trust my gut” about whether the person or family is “right.” Sometimes the leeway or accommodations I allow are greater than others, and people whose names might seem very wrong, are very right, and people with the “right” name are so very, very wrong! It’s an art, not a science, and not infallible.
So after cranking through the 1880, 1870, and 1860 censuses, we returned to the reading room to see if the books I’d requested were waiting. That was when I learned my next lesson: Farmers are not written about in the county histories! To me, the mid-1800s seemed “early,” but when History of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin Volume I talked about the pioneers, it meant the early 1800s. I headed to the chapters for the towns the Haase, Bruder, Jost, and Nachtwey families lived in — no mention of any of them.
Another memory from that trip, was seeing my first plat maps. I’m not sure how I found them, but I remember seeing names I recognized. Those may have been in another book. One thing I did not come home with, was photocopies — of anything — not even the census pages. All that information was written down in old school notebooks! At the time, copies cost fifty cents a piece! College expenses were looming, and I did not have a “genealogy budget.”
As so often happens while writing a blog post, I learn something new. This time I discovered it can be harder to find census records online, than cranking through the physical microfilm! Looking for Bruders in 1870, I couldn’t find them. I knew they were there, and I could find the FamilySearch image, but not the Ancestry one. The two databases have different indexes, and Ancestry misread “Bruder” as “Rinder.”³ It took some creative searching to locate it, and then a helpful cousin with an Ancestry subscription (thanks, Barb!) to confirm it was the right page. Searching online databases is faster only when the names are indexed correctly!
As I verify information, I sometimes find gaps in it. I realized I’d never located the Haase family in 1880. I finally found great-great-grandma Elisabeth, misspelled Hasse, with the three youngest kids.² My great-grandfather, Frank (b. 1858) is not with them, however. I can’t find him anywhere. He doesn’t marry Anna Bruder until 1885. Presumably he’s nearby, working for someone else — though he could be in another county, too! It looks like I need to do a page-by-page search online for him.
So many dead people, so little time, and always more questions than answers . . .
¹1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth, e.d. 66; Page 12; dwelling number 104; family number 108; line 3; Mathias BRUDER household; accessed 3 February 2019. Mathias BRUDER, age 45; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1434; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
²1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Two Rivers, e.d. 78; Page 13; dwelling number 112; family number 112; line 25; Lisabeth HASSE [HAWS} household; accessed 3 February 2019. Lisabeth HASSE [HAWS], age 55, widowed; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1434; 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).4
4 1870 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Two Rivers Town; Page 15; dwelling number 108; family number 113; line 6; John HORS [HOSS] household; accessed 2 February 2019; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1723; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
The photo below is my 2nd great-grandfather, Johann Mathias Bruder, in his Civil War uniform. You met him in The Old Homestead, married to Elizabeth Jost, and the father of Anna. I obtained this print from relatives in Wisconsin while in my teens. As you can see from the printing on the right edge (inverted), it was printed in July 1977. Technology at that time required you to take a photo of the image to get a negative, then prints could be made from that. Unfortunately, this one looks a little blurry, plus the negative was inadvertently placed upside down during printing. But I figured I’d get grief from everyone if the belt buckle was backwards, so I flipped the image. It’s really hard for me to look at him with the gun in his left hand, though! Perhaps some day I’ll cross paths with the original and can get a clearer scan.
His records (including military) use a lot of variant names, which I won’t discuss, now. Some other blog post! I’ll simply refer to him as “John M.” to be consistent.
He and his parents emigrated from Bavaria before 1847 (sister’s birth in Wisconsin), and his father died some time between 1855 (Wisconsin State Census) and the 1860 Federal Census. John M. served two terms as a volunteer:
5 February 1863 – 8 September 1863, Company I, 34th Wisconsin Infantry
30 September 1864 – 6 June 1865, Iron Brigade, Company D, 6th Wisconsin¹
If you looked at the sources, I can hear you saying, “Hold on! different names; different guys!” Not so. Fortunately, despite the 1890 census being almost completely consumed by fire, the 1890 veteran’s census survived.² While it lists his 2nd service date in the top portion, the lower section documents the earlier stint, too. He also applied for a pension. That paperwork lists both enlistments. More on that, later.
Tracking military activity of a unit is not terribly difficult. Based on his service dates, in 1863 he primarily served in the “west.” The 34th moved to Fort Halleck, Columbus, Kentucky. His Company then moved to Cairo, Illinois, at the end of April. It appears he stayed there until he mustered out in September, returning home. None of the information I found gave me the impression that area of the country saw much action.
In 1864 he was drafted and sent further from home. He was involved with parts of the Petersburg seige (June 1864-April 1865). The 6th Wisconsin was at Hatcher’s Run (Boydton Road and Dabney’s Mills), then continued on with the Appomattox Campaign, 28 March – 9 April 1865. They fought near Gravelly Run, Five Forks, and then pursued Lee to Appomattox Court House. After Lee’s surrender, the unit took part in the Grand Review on May 23rd, then moved to Louisville, Kentucky, finally mustering out in July.
You’re wondering about the pension, aren’t you? I’d read articles about the wonderful “finds” in pension packets: birth/baptismal certificates, marriage certificates, family Bible pages, photos. In 2000, before the cost to request it increased, I sent away for his. I heard back a year later, and sent my $10.
It was a little disheartening when the envelope arrived. The photocopies contained none of those precious treasures. Even the application was uninspiring: “Are you married? Yes but dead.”³ No name, marriage date, nothing. Apparently he figured she wouldn’t be entitled to anything, so didn’t waste his time. Same thing with the section for children: “All over 16 years of age.” No names or birth dates. Nothing to confirm what I thought I knew.
But then I delved deeper. He began the pension process in 1887, and it continued until 1912. Initially he was rejected, but finally was granted a $12/month pension (just shy of $300, today) “for loss of left arm above the Ellbow . . . said Arm he lost on August 23, 1884 while sitting on a Grain Reaper intending to cut his Wheat, and while he was unable to notice and see an obstruction in his way . . . was thrown from the Reaper and in the cutting part of said Reaper.”³ He received payments until he died, 8 March 1915. I don’t know if he received “back pay.”
The pages detailed his claim, in his words and those of neighbors and fellow soldiers, giving us a glimpse of their military experience. “While . . . in the line of duty at near Petersburg . . . while on a heavy marching . . . crossing and wading through a River and swamps up to their breast, and thereafter marching all day in their wet clothes, and it being at the time cold and inclement weather, he contracted a cold, wich caused a Rheumatism, of wich he then and thereafter eversince is suffering and affecting and weakening his Eyes . . . that sometimes he cannot see any person or object if only 10 feet before him”³ No wonder he couldn’t see the obstruction!
Joseph Wetor’s affidavit describes “6th and 7th day of february 1865 before during the battle of Hatchers run . . . disagreable wether of wich we was exposed them times, without tents and blankets, wich we had to leave in camp lasted for some weeks after.”³ John Entringer’s relates a similar experience, adding, “in the mourning being sometimes being covered with Snow or wet allthrough from heavy rain.”³ General Sherman knew what he was talking about!
Filmmaker Ken Burns has spent the last forty years teaching us to observe history from a personal perspective. The pension packet may not have given me the “vital facts” I initially looked for, but I found something far more important. I saw a partial picture of John M. Bruder’s war experience; one I wouldn’t have, otherwise. I also have his signature. Thank goodness he was initially denied, or the additional descriptions from his comrades in arms wouldn’t have been needed! As far as I know, he didn’t keep a diary, so this paperwork is all we have of that period of his life.
When we visited Appomattox Court House with our kids in December, 1999, I had no idea my 2nd great grandfather had been there before me. I realize he was a lowly private, and not in the parlor with Lee signing the surrender to Grant. But knowing that he was one of many participants to a pivotal day in history makes that day hit closer to home.
Best $10 I ever spent.
¹Wisconsin. Adjutant General’s Office, Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Volume II, https://books.google.com, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, p. 544. 34th Regiment Infantry, Company I; name: Brüder, Mathias. andWisconsin. Adjutant General’s Office, Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Volume I, https://books.google.com, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, p. 509. 6th Regiment Infantry, Company D; name: Bruder, John M.
³John M. Bruder (Pvt., Co. D, 6th Wis. Inf., Civil War), pension no. S.C. 859,952, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications …, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
2 houses in Glencoe, IL, built by Edward M. Haws (Grandpa)
1 house in Deerfield, IL, also built by him
the house in Manitowoc, WI, where my dad was born
numerous houses in Northbrook, IL, lived in by my mom and her extended family members
the Nolan farmhouse in Smiths Creek, MI, from Mike’s family
assorted houses in Port Huron, MI, belonging to the other side of his family
2 houses Mike grew up in, in Detroit, MI, as well as his grandmother’s
my parents’ 2 houses
my own 2 houses
I have recent photos of them all, but today’s winner is the farmhouse in Kossuth, WI–between Manitowoc and Francis Creek. My great-grandfather, Frank Haws, and his wife, Anna Bruder, lived there until 1932, or so, when they sold it and moved to a “house in town” in Francis Creek. It had been in the family since 1850, though.
Former Haws farmhouse, 6604 County Road Q (New Q), Manitowoc, Wisconsin. It’s north of Shoto Road, and just south of the intersection where the north end of Old Q connects with New Q, on the west side of the road. This photo was taken by my parents in 1999. My dad’s cousin (who grew up in the area) drove with them to find it. Google Maps street view shows the house still there in 2013.
The property was first owned by Nicholas Jost, who purchased it from the government in 1850:
The 1872, 1878, and 1893 plat maps of the area (see snips below) show the property transferring from Nicholas Jost, to John M. Bruder, to Frank Haws.
Haws farmhouse in the 1920s, maybe? Frank Haws is probably the man in the hat (by right corner of the window), and Anna Bruder Haws is probably the woman sitting nearest the door. The two young women (standing) are probably grand aunts, but I’m not sure which ones.
1872 plat map. The red box is around the N. Jost (hard to read) property described above. The green arrow points to the dot/square showing where the house is located on the property. The double line winding to the right is “Old County Q”–a road that is still there. http://www.2manitowoc.com/1872pl14.html
Nicholas Jost is found on the 1850 census.¹ I can’t tell if he’s living in this house when the census was recorded, since the land purchase was later than the census date. In 1860, he’s hard to find because his last name was written “Jose” and indexed as “Jase.” The 1870 census² lists his son, Mathias, as the head of household, with Nicholas living there as well. Nicholas still owns the property according to the 1872 plat map, but by the 1880 census, John Bruder is the head of household, with Nicholas (his father-in-law) still living there.
Of course, the 1890 census (mostly destroyed in a fire) provides no help, but Frank is in the house by 1893. I probably need a road trip to Manitowoc to help me nail down the exact transfer dates, but each one is well before the death of the previous owner.
What I find most curious, though, is that the property does not transfer down through the sons, as one would expect. Both transfers are to the spouse of a daughter. Nicholas’s daughter, Elizabeth Jost, was married to John M. Bruder, the next owner. It wasn’t
part of her dowry (if they even did that), because John & Elizabeth married in 1860–long before they acquired the property.
Why didn’t it pass along to her brother, Mathias? While he did work the farm at the time of the 1870 census, he moved his family to Marathon County after that. Why he didn’t stay around and wait to inherit, I don’t know.
Anna Bruder, one of John & Elizabeth’s daughters, married Frank Haws in 1885. That’s twenty years before her father’s death, so the property wasn’t an inheritance. The 1885 Wisconsin census³ still lists John Bruder in that neighborhood, so it wasn’t a dowry/wedding present for her, either. She had four brothers, all living to adulthood. Why were they passed over, for a son-in-law? I have no idea.
While several of the western states (Wyoming, Montana, Utah, among others) granted extensive rights to women long before the rest of the country, Wisconsin was not on the forefront for that. So I find it interesting that this family seemed to depart from the norm, and wish I had a better explanation for it. I’ll keep an eye out for anything that might give me some insight, but won’t hold my breath. Even so, it’s nice to see the old farmhouse still in use, even if it has left my family’s possession.
¹1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Manitowoc Rapids; Page 44 (written); dwelling number 207; family number 213; line 18; Nicholas YOST [JOST] household; accessed 21 March 2018. Nicholas YOST [JOST], age 54; NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 1002; digital image, FamilySearch Record Search (https://familysearch.org).
²1870 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth; Page 13; dwelling number 92; family number 85; line 2; Mathias JOIST [JOST] household; accessed 21 March 2018. Cathrine JOIST [JOST], age 35; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1723; digital image, FamilySearch Record Search (https://familysearch.org).