So Far Away

“But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more . . . “–The Proclaimers

Last week I talked about four of my grandfather’s siblings, who married either a neighbor, or someone pretty close to their home. In that time period (the early 20th century), in rural Wisconsin, it probably wasn’t terribly surprising. The other two siblings deviated from that pattern.

My grandfather, Edward Mathias Haws, was one of them. He was born 12 February 1887, and first appeared in the 1900 census.¹ He was 13 years old and still in school. By 1905, at 18 years old, he is no longer living at home. The Wisconsin state census had him in nearby Two Rivers, living with the Kasten family² as a “hired man.”

Family lore said he worked in the shipyards in Manitowoc. I know he worked there between 1918 and 1922, but I don’t know if he also worked there before he left Wisconsin. I’m not sure where/how he learned his carpenter trade, but he moved 160 miles from home for better job opportunities. I’m sure the Chicago north shore paid better wages than Manitowoc!

Family lore also said he moved down to Glencoe, Illinois, when he was 21. If so, he should have been in that area before the 1910 census, but he is AWOL so far. Nor can I place him still in Wisconsin. He might have spent time in other cities on his way to Glencoe. Bruders lived in Sheboygan, or he could have looked for work in Milwaukee. His last name got mangled enough different ways, that without a solid location, searching for him is very tedious.

Nevertheless, he met Victoria Barbara Schweiger in Glencoe and they married at Sacred Heart Church in 1914. Had he not ventured to Chicago’s northern suburbs, well over 100 of their descendants wouldn’t exist. I think he made a wise choice . . .

Aunt May, my grandfather’s next youngest sibling, definitely upped the ante! She was born 18 July 1889 and appeared as a 10-year old³ in the 1900 census, also attending school. It wasn’t until I received her letter in 1975, replying to my request for family tree information, that I learned she had actually been named “Mary Elizabeth.” Suddenly the records I had found listing her as “Mary” or “Elizabeth” made sense! Later in life, she swapped the name order and became “Elizabeth Mary,” but in everyday life, she was just “May.”

Like her brother, Ed, May is not enumerated with her parents in 1910, but I found a 20-year-old “Mamie Haws” living on Huron Street, in Manitowoc, working in the Schneider home as a servant. Some time between then and April 1914, she moved to the Glencoe area and met John J. Carroll. The marriage register at Sacred Heart Church recorded both May (Latinized to “Maria”) and John as two of the four witnesses for Ed and Victoria’s marriage.

Now, having someone stand up as one of your witnesses indicates a bump up in status. It’s probably safe to say May and John were pretty serious at that point, or he wouldn’t have been asked to be a witness for her family. A little more than a year later (14 June 1915) the two of them also tied the knot in Chicago. The following March, their son, Gerard Paul was born. A little more than a year later, the WW I draft registration places John back in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born, taking May even further from her childhood home.

So how did this Wisconsin girl come across a Brooklyn boy in Chicago? Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of hard facts. I have not had a chance to comb through Chicago city directories to see if she shows up. If found, those might indicate her occupation. Her brother was already in the area, so perhaps he let her know of a position with a family in the north suburbs? May’s great-granddaughter, Maria, also heard that May worked as a telephone operator. That was one of the few other job choices available to young women, and might have paid more than being household help. Perhaps she hired out to a private home and changed jobs later on?

That still leaves John, a long way from Brooklyn! I think I have a workable theory. His WW I draft registration listed him as a locomotive fireman, NY Central Railroad. Train firemen end up in places they don’t start out. His later records:

  • 1920 census—mechanical, E. Railway;
  • 1930—electrician;
  • 1940—shop repairman, electrical;
  • 1942 —NY City Transit system, repair shop.

The railroad and transit systems seemed to be a common thread through the years. Where was he and what was he doing in 1910, though? He was still at home with his father, who had remarried three years earlier. John was working as an office boy in a dry goods house. Most surprising was that the family was living in New Jersey! Now the entry on his draft registration stating he’d been in the New Jersey National Guard for three years suddenly made sense!

I was still a little baffled by his presence in Chicago. I was all set, 2 paragraphs ago, to jump on the railroad theory. The job at the dry goods store made that a little shakier. Something caused him to either relocate to the Chicago area for at least 2-3 years, or to be traveling there regularly enough to court a young woman, I just don’t have a handle on what it was. Yet.

But what of May, who found herself raising her family so far from her own siblings and parents? As you can see from the photo below, she came back with her children to visit. With the distances involved, I would guess they might have come for weeks at a time—perhaps by train?—so Paul and Virginia could spend time with their grandparents, play with cousins, and experience life not in the big city.

A picnic at the Frank Haws farmhouse. Frank and Anna are the couple in the center back. I have the file labeled “Haws-Bruder picnic,” so I believe the couple to the right are Anna’s younger brother, John (wife Emma), who lived nearby; or her older brother, Nicholas (wife Augusta Bruenning), who moved to Sheboygan. The youngsters are (Gerard) Paul and Virginia, May’s children. She is sitting to their right, hands around her knees. Teresa is behind her and to her left, with Clara behind and to the right. Someone is almost hidden behind May’s head. Their brother Lawrence? Or maybe he’s the young man sitting to Frank’s right? One of them may also be May’s husband, John J. Carroll. I don’t have a date for the photo, but is probably the mid-1920s. Virginia was born in 1918; she looks age 5 or 6? Paul is 2 years older, so 7 or 8? I don’t have a physical copy of this photo and the scan wasn’t done at a high enough resolution to zoom in well. And obviously I don’t have the back labeled . . .

I suspect the visit in this photo wasn’t unique, and that May would have made this trip home, regularly. Frank and Anna’s farm responsibilities woudn’t have allowed them the luxury to travel to New York, so this would have been the only opportunity for her children to build relationships with extended family. As Paul and Virginia grew up and out of the house, Aunt May clearly made an effort to come back for family marriages, funerals, and ordinations. She didn’t let being so far away become an excuse.

#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).

²1905 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 September 2018, index and images; FamilySearch, FHL microfilm 1020454.

³1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth Town, e.d. 69; Page 7A; dwelling number 122; family number 130; line 26; Frank HAWS household; accessed 6 September 2018. Mary HAWS, age 10; July1889; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1797; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

1910 U.S. census, population schedule, New Jersey, Bergen, Hasbrouck Heights, e.d. 25; Page 14A; dwelling number 285; family number 321; line 5; John J. CARROLL household; accessed 2 February 2020. John J. CARROLL, age 19; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 869; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

Close to Home

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.”–Judy Garland (Dorothy), The Wizard of Oz

Surely a spouse counts as a “heart’s desire,” right? Okay, we should go at least next door for that, but it’s still pretty close to home. That’s exactly what two of the Haws siblings did to find spouses, with two more going not much further.

Frank and Anna (Bruder) Haws married 15 January 1885 in Francis Creek, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. They had 6 children:

  • John J., 1885-1962, married Elizabeth Birringer
  • Edward Mathias, 1887-1966, married Victoria Barbara Schweiger
  • Mary Elizabeth, 1889-1986, married John J. Carroll
  • Teresa, 1894-1985, married William H. Klackner
  • Clara Bertha, 1897-1994, married Edward Mathias Koch
  • Lawrence Charles, 1900-1960, married Mary Margaret Heiser

Two siblings plucked their spouse from a neighboring farm, like their parents did. How would I ever figure that out? Birth and marriage records only indicate a city name or township name. They don’t tell you who lived next door. But it can be easier than you’d think.

The county plat maps show who owned land, where. It doesn’t take too much effort to understand why some couples became couples. Let’s start with Frank and Anna’s property, outlined in blue (F. Haws). I wrote about that house in The Old Homestead. This is the 1893 plat map. Frank’s younger brother, John lived northeast of him, also outlined in blue, farming the land their father, John, had farmed.

1893 Kossuth Township Plat Map, Township 20 North, Ranges 23-24.² Image cropped and annotated for clarity. http://images.library.wisc.edu/WI/EFacs/MTWCImages/manPlat1893/reference/wi.manplat1893.i0023.pdf

In 1893, Frank and Anna’s children were more than a decade away from getting married, but seeds were already being sown. The green box north of Frank’s property (and bordering on John’s) belonged to Nicholas Birringer. His oldest daughter, Elizabeth, would eventually (1910) marry Frank’s oldest son, John J.

Clara’s Edward Mathias Koch is a little trickier. The red box touching the NE corner of Frank’s property? That’s not Ed’s parents. Those are his grandparents. Edward was born in Mattoon, Shawano, Wisconsin. His parents, Peter and Bertha, moved around, farming in Shewano County in 1900 (Hutchins & Mattoon area—100 miles from Kossuth), and Marathon County (Harrison—30 miles) in 1910. Ed and his parents were AWOL (so far) in 1920, but his 1925 marriage announcement mentioned he was from Mosinee (130 miles).

None of that sounds very next door, does it? My theory is that Edward spent quite a bit of time at his grandparents’ farm and met (and courted) Clara that way. It seems unlikely either Clara or Edward would have traveled the distances necessary when he was living in other counties.

Teresa’s beau, William Klackner, grew in Manitowoc. The town lies on the western shore of Lake Michigan, rather than inland, like Kossuth Township does. Frank’s farmhouse was seven miles from town. By today’s standards, that’s not terribly far, but a young person in the early 20th Century would not have had a car at his or her disposal. So how did those two get together?

The 1910 census places each of them at home, with their parents. Teresa was 16 at that time. The couple married in 1915. Unfortunately, the snapshot from the federal census didn’t provide a hint for those next five years. Wisconsin’s last state census was in 1905, so no help from that, either.

My best guess is that Teresa may have hired out “in town” as household or child care help. Farm neighbors weren’t likely to be need a teenaged girl to help, but folks in town, might. It wasn’t unusual for rural girls to seek that type of employment down in Chicago (my great grandmother, Dorothea Harry, did just that!), so looking for a position closer to home wouldn’t be surprising, either. Unfortunately, I don’t have a way to prove that, unless one of Teresa’s and Bill’s descendants step up at some point with a family story to corroborate my speculation. It seems a likely scenario, though.

Lawrence, the youngest, married a girl from Gibson, the township north of Kossuth. Mary Margaret Heiser’s family lived towards the north side of Gibson Township. Again, it’s about seven miles from Frank & Anna’s house. Lawrence, however, married when he was older—38! He would have been more independent and mobile than his older siblings—particularly the girls, who may not have known how to drive before they were married. Times had also changed, so his not marrying someone from the more immediate neighborhood is not too surprising.

I doubt the experience of these siblings, in that time period, was unusual. Remoteness, travel methods, and the time involved with those methods, would have limited their potential spouse pool. Or as Stephen Stills would have said, “Love the one you’re with.”

What about the other two? They looked further afield, but you’ll have to come back next week for them . . .

#52Ancestors


¹1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Neshoto [Two Rivers], e.d. 078; Page 13; dwelling number 112; family number 112; line 25; Lisabeth HASSE household; accessed 26 January 2020. Lisabeth HASSE, 55, widowed; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1434; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²Foote, C. M., 1849-1899 (Charles M.); Henion, J. W.; ca. 1832-1904 (John W.), Plat book of Manitowoc and Calumet Counties, Wisconsin (Minneapolis, Minnesota: C.M. Foote & Co., 1893), p. 23, “Plat of Kossuth, Township 20 North, Ranges 23-24 East of the Fourth Principal Meridian of Mantitowoc Co., Wis.”; digital images, University of Wisconsin-Madison Digital Collection (http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/WI.manPlat1893; accessed 26 January 2020).

Long Line

When I first started my family tree, my grandparents were all dead, but some of their siblings were still living. Luckily, my grandmother’s (Victoria Barbara Schweiger Haws) younger brother, Sylvester Joseph Schweiger, was living nearby. Age 74, he was the last of the Schweiger siblings.

So Mom made a phone call to arrange a visit to their house in Oak Lawn one weekend day. Uncle Syl and Aunt Stacia were wonderful to talk to, and he gifted me with photocopies of the letter from Fr. Sylvester Hartman[n] (in later years, he drops the 2nd ‘n’), and the Schweiger family tree, typed up in German.

4 April 1936, letter from Sylevester Joseph Hartman[n] to Stacia Cooney Schweiger (Uncle Syl’s wife), referencing the tree, below.
Schweiger family tree (in German) obtained from Anna Schweiger Alf. She was the daughter of Sigmund Schweiger (at the top), oldest brother of my great-grandfather, Ignatz. The siblings are all listed (with Sigmund repeated) to the right of their father, Alois. “Confirmed by the parish office of Steingaden; Anton Börmann, chaplain” is the only sourcing for the entire page.

The tree showed my great grandfather, Ignatz, at the top right, listed with his siblings. Then it had their parents to the left, his father’s parents, grandfather’s parents, and so on. The earliest person was born in 1711. I was suitably impressed! It wasn’t particularly well-sourced, but it was from 1936—that wasn’t too surprising. It was my longest genealogy line until the Meintzer wall came down in the mid-1980s.

An English transcription got into my hands in 1980, clearly taken from the first document. I’m not sure who typed it—Fr. Hartman[n], Uncle Syl, or Leslie Larson (husband of my 2nd cousin, once removed, on the Harry line), who sent it to me.

English transcription of the previous page. Someone’s typwriter keys needed cleaning. Plus, it’s probably a copy of a copy, so a little degradation happens each time. I could retype it, but that runs the risk of introducing errors from making that copy. As I continue to go through my do-over, I probably will create a cleaner transcription in a digital format for better preservation, with VERY CAREFUL proof reading.

On all my other lines, I was lucky to have great grandparents’ names and birth dates (off their tombstones), and “Germany.” No village names, ships’ names, immigration dates. Nothing to help me search for them in the old country. In pre-internet days, I’d have been throwing darts at a map, trying to guess which LDS microfilm to order and crank through. At $3.25 each, the dollars and time spent would add up quickly, with possibly nothing to show for it.

But the Schweiger line? It was practically handed to me on a silver platter. The drawback was the tendency to be complacent about it. I might have been able to order microfilm records from their villages (if the church records had been filmed), but it would have cost me money for information I “already knew.” Since it was coming from German relatives in the family, I tended to believe the information, despite its lack of sourcing.

Then of course, I had kids, and genealogy screeched to a halt. When I resumed, I learned about the laws passed in April 1933, in Nazi Germany, requiring Germans to put together a family tree, demonstrating there was no Jewish blood in their ancestry. While I knew I still had Schweigers living in Germany then, who could have been impacted, I had no idea if that document still existed, or who might have it.

Imagine my surprise when Dad’s cousin Fred mailed me the document created because of those laws. It measured 10.5″ x 21.5″. It took 4 sheets of legal paper, taped together, but trimmed down to 14″ x 23.75″. Fred obtained it from a granddaughter of Anna Alf, the woman referred to in the 1936 letter.

Lower left corner: “Before the completion of the pedigree, to be considered” followed by instructions. I suggest opening this image in a new window, to do it justice. It’s dated 20 December 1939, so 3½ years after Fr. Hartman[n]’s letter. So while Anna had to research her ancestors earlier, she apparently didn’t have to file something formally, until 1939—or had to present it a second time, for some reason.

It appears to be the source of the information contained on the pages I obtained from Uncle Syl. His note penciled in the left margin explains this document’s provenance. Of course, it also includes additional information about the women’s lines, not included in the chart from Fr. Hartman[n]. The Schweiger ancestors are on the left half of the page. Anna had to provide information back to her great-great grandparents. Presumably her job as a stenographer for the German Labor Front (a civil service position) required her compliance.

The small circles, looking like chicken pox? It’s a rubber stamp, difficult to read (it could have used a cleaning, and more frequent re-inking), stamped on each block (person). In the center is “Geprüft!” (“checked!”). The circle part is much harder, with partial letters, or letters over other printing. At the bottom it has “Ahnen____,” which might actually be “Ahnennachweis.” It’s not one of the terms mentioned in the Wikipedia article above, but seems to be a merging of “Ahnenpass” and “Ariernachweis.” You know how they like to make up compound words in German by just adding words together. “Nachweis” means “evidence,” so that would fit. The next word might be “Augsburg” (which would also make sense). The very last section almost looks like “Haupt” (head), but I can’t make out what’s inbetween. My guess is that it’s a department name—so something like, “Augsburg [department] head/office.”

If anyone can interpret the stamp better, please let me know! I have a feeling the stamp and even the form itself varies from place to place. While the information required was probably the same, there may not have been a standard format. Did Anna have to produce actual documents for each person? Is that what constituted proof? I don’t know.

This document is one of those serendipitous things that sometimes drop into our laps. It’s something that could have easily been discarded, due to disinterest or its connotations. Fortunately, it wasn’t. It remains proof of a time it may be easier to forget than to remember.

So . . . do I actually have something to be thankful to Adolph Hitler for? That’s a really scary thought. Nevertheless, it may be true.

I’m grateful, though, to the distant family members who decided to keep it, rather than discarding it, because of the reasons the information was gathered. Since more records are now online, I definitely need go back to verify the dates and places stated there.

#52Ancestors

Future

“Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”–Doc Brown, “Back to the Future, Part III”

When I was a young child, my older siblings would try to confuse me with the saying, “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” Quick research revealed it to be a Dale Carnegie quote. When rattled off quickly to a six- or seven-year-old, it initially sounds like gibberish. Once I got somewhere quiet, and could think about the words, I realized it made perfect sense.

Genealogists spend a lot of time reading, researching, and thinking about the past. Yesterdays are very important to us, and we expend a lot of effort trying to tease the truth out of records about our past. Our ancesters frequently thwart us, by hiding from the census enumerator, running off to marry in the state next door, living in counties whose courthouses keep burning down, or dying without a will.

We are so focused on looking backwards, sometimes we forget that we are the future of our ancestors. I doubt they thought much about us, but here we are, continuing on their bloodlines, and living lives directly influenced by their decisions.

My DNA is a collection of my ancestors. Every gene inside me started with someone centuries ago. Each generation, some new genes found their way into my DNA strand, as others dropped off, to make room for those new ones. Go back enough generations, and some of those ancestors have no genetic connection to me at all. It doesn’t mean I don’t descend from them—I just don’t have that person’s DNA.

Just like my DNA is a summary of the ancestors before me, my life itself is a result of all those ancestors’ decisions—big and small—and probably the decisions of some people who ended up NOT becoming my ancestors! Were they thinking about the future, at that time? Probably not. They were just living their lives, and making decisions that seemed to be the best for themselves, right then. Each of their seemingly inconsequential decisions shaped their future, and that of their children, grandchilden, and so on.

“Wait, you don’t understand. If you don’t play, there’s no music. If there’s no music, they don’t dance. If they don’t dance, they don’t kiss and fall in love and I’m history.”

Marty McFly, “Back to the Future

Marty wasn’t a genealogist, and even he understood this! His very existence depended on an unimportant sequence of events.

It’s an idea I’ve toyed with in other posts, not necessarily spelling it out. Some examples?

  • My mom might not have asked out a boy she didn’t really know, if she hadn’t liked dancing—or apparently had a couple of “dud” dates (Going to the Chapel).
  • Great grandmother, Dorothea Harry Schweiger might have stayed in Wisconsin, and married someone there, if she hadn’t gone to work for a Chicago North Shore family (Trick or Treat)
  • I could have ended up a “California girl” if Chicago’s fall weather had been more blustery when my dad was discharged from the Navy. After 18 months in the South Pacific, and another 18 months in California’s Imperial Valley, Dad would have moved back to San Diego if the weather hadn’t been so nice!
  • I would have a different collection of children—if I’d gone to Brigham Young University, instead.

Of course, Mike’s biggest concern about the future, is what to do with all the genealogy if I make the mistake of dying first . . .

The Future. We worry about it all the time, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that we hold it in our hands and create it with every decision we make. It would behoove us to take Doc Brown’s advice!

#52Ancestors

Thief

“Go on, take the money and run”–Steve Miller Band

I was in a slight panic when I saw this prompt. I couldn’t think of a single thief on my tree. Despite growing up in the Chicago suburbs, I’m unaware of any connection to gangsters or organized crime. Well, maybe one, but he moved west. Capone eating at the restaurant where my grandmother was the cook didn’t count. Even he had to eat, right? No cowboys settled out west, so no horse thieves, cattle rustlers, or claim jumpers lurked in the tree. We apparently were a fairly law-abiding family. Dang!

Ignatz Schweiger, age unknown, photo date unknown. Obviously before his death in 1921! This was probably taken in the yard of one of his children, but I’m not sure which one.

Fortunately, early in November I was searching Newspapers.com for my great grandmother, Dorothea Schweiger, and stumbled upon an article mentioning her husband, Ignatz:

John Thomas Is Arrested

John Thomas of Cleveland, O., is locked up in the village jail at Glencoe on a charge of robbing the cash drawer of the Hotel Hony, where he had worked for his dinner. Ignatz Schweiger, the butcher, was in the room, and says he saw the robbery committed. He ran to tell Mr. Hony, but when the latter arrived Thomas was going down the street toward the railroad. He was joined by three other men. Hony gave the alarm to Marshal Upfield, who overhauled the man. No resistance was made. The prisoner said he worked on the steamer Philip Minch and left the boat in Chicago to go into Wisconsin in search of work.

“John Thomas Is Arrested,” 5 December 1897, Newspapers.com: accessed 29 November 2019, record number: not given; citing original p. 3, column 4, news article 4, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, online archive (http://www.newspapers.com).

Ignatz wasn’t a thief, but he helped catch one. He was 38 years old at the time—not exactly a young man, but certainly not old. I’m sure it was an exciting event for him.

Ignatz was referred to as “the butcher” (not “restaurant owner”), but more about that, later. Presumably the information in the Tribune was obtained from a police report. I searched Newspapers.com to see if there were any articles following up on the case. Unfortunately “John Thomas” is a horrible search string. I narrowed the date to December 1897 thru early 1898, but found nothing. It’s also possible the man pled guilty, so there was no further “news” to report. A local paper might have reported the sentencing, but I didn’t find one online.

I also searched using the name of the hotel/hotel owner. Again, I didn’t find further mention of this event. Curiously, I found 2 classified ads from 1904 about “Hony’s Hotel” in Galena, Illinois, being up for sale. The owner was ready to retire. For those of you not from Illinois, Galena is on the opposite side of the state from Glencoe. It’s a delightful little town, just shy of the Mississippi River, the home of Ulysses S. Grant (post Civil War, pre-presidency), chocked full of quaint tea rooms and antique shops.

It’s also 166 miles from Glencoe, and a 2 hour 45 minute drive today. In the early 1900s, it probably took 3-5 days with a horse-drawn wagon/carriage—the estimates I found on the internet varied. The point is, the Mr. Hony who was robbed wouldn’t have been running 2 hotels so far apart. It’s an odd coincidence, because the name isn’t that common. There are 7 years between the robbery and the Galena hotel sale, so Mr. Hony could have sold the Glencoe hotel and moved west to run another hotel, finally retiring in 1904 or later. I just don’t know.

Why do I suddenly care about this stranger? I never knew about him until I found that newspaper article. I don’t know if or how Mr. Hony connects to Ignatz. My great grandfather started out with the butcher shop at 375 Park. It morphed into a restaurant along the way. The family sold 375 to the Eklund family (whose daughter, Sally, later donated it to the Glencoe Historical Society) and moved a couple doors down to 367 Park.

The trouble is, documentation I have (which isn’t at my fingertips) placed the move to 367 in 1891—six years before this robbery. Was Ignatz still running a butcher shop out of the new address? Or are the other dates I have, inaccurate? I need to comb through my documents, dotting “i’s” and crossing “t’s” to nail down the specifics to clear this up.

Other questions pop into my head:

  • Is the police report still available? There may be more information than what was reported in the paper.
  • Where was Hotel Hony located?
  • Why was Ignatz at the hotel’s restaurant in the middle of the afternoon?
    • Were he and Mr. Hony friends or in a club or committee, together?
    • Was he scoping out the competition?

It’s amazing how such an inconsequential news article can raise so many questions about what I thought I already knew!

#52Ancestors

Trick or Treat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#52Ancestors


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

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

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

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

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

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

Comedy

“Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight!”–Stephen Sondheim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can see where this was headed, right?

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

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

No, not really.

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

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

Then there was my mom.

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

Hold the phone! What??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#52Ancestors