May 2011 Everything’s Relative

May 2011 Everything’s Relative

Tales from the lighter side of family history.

Wolf pack

My great-great-grandfather John J. Wolf and his wife Barbara immigrated to the United States about 1874. They bought a farm near Tours, Texas, where they had 11 children. Barbara died in 1892; in 1893, John married her niece Margaret, age 16. They had 14 more children. I found a newspaper article in which John said his 25th child was just as exciting as his first.

Liz Heinze » Vero Beach, Fla.

25 to life

My paternal grandmother was the oldest of 12, but her cousins in the Daniel and Laura Ast family of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, numbered 23. The Asts married in 1883 and three months later had their first child. Every year for 25 years, until 1908, there was another birth. In 1889 and 1896, twin girls arrived, but both times one infant died. Sixteen of the Ast children grew to adulthood.

Jacqueline Davis » West Jordan, Utah

Oodles from Ooltgensplat

My great-great-uncle Krijn Wielhouwer (1838-1921) fathered 22 children by his two wives, Nijsje Tiggelman (1842-1874) and Cornelia van Veen (1854-1928) in Ooltgensplaat, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands. Eleven of their children lived to have families of their own. As in many families, the parents reused names of children who’d died: Simon (four); Cornelis (three); and Jacob, Neeltje, Maatje and Willempje (two apiece).

Peter W. Wielhouwer » Mattawan, Mich.

Flocking to America

In 1838, my great-great-grandfather Carl Gottlieb Schmidt came from Prussia to New York City with his wife and children. The mother drowned while traveling on the Erie Canal to Ozaukee County, Wis. The family stayed in Buffalo, where Carl remarried in 1840, then all continued to Wisconsin. Carl had a total of 21 children; nine from his first marriage and 12 from his second.

Ella Mae Schmidt » Dewey, Ariz.

Plethora of Perezes

Did you ever try to print a family tree that was too large to fit into any templates you can find? That’s the problem I ran into with my husband Ricky’s family. Guillermo and Evangelina Perez raised 19 children with love, discipline and laughter. Although, Guillermo, Evangelina and three of Ricky’s siblings have passed, the surviving brothers and sisters remain very close.

Lorene Perez » La Palma, Calif

Your Story

Mustering Answers

My relative was named John Williams. You can’t get much more common than that. All I had was his name, dates of birth and death, and names of his parents and siblings. He was only 22 when he died June 2, 1864.

From the date, I guessed John died in the Civil War. I looked him up in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. The results? Far too many, even filtered by state. So I added his middle initial. Still a handful of prospects. I looked at the companies associated with John’s town in Windsor, Ohio, hoping he enlisted near home. Three possibilities—much better, but still two too many.

I ruled out one man based on the death date. Now I had two. They were so close I nearly gave up. But one of these fellows stood out, almost as if something was pointing me in his direction. So I began to research this John Williams. His enlistment age and date from the Roster of Ohio Troops fit. I also found the date of death: June 1, 1864, a day shy of my John but close enough to venture on. It listed where he died, but no burial information. I needed to know more.

I sent for his military service records. From them, I learned this John had been taken into enemy hands, lost a leg, and died from his injuries June 2, 1864. His place of birth and age matched those in my records. Now I felt strongly this was my “Mr. Right.” Still, I needed more.

I hunted down his pension files. On Footnote, I found a pension application made by John’s mother—another indication this was indeed my John, as he never married or had children and lived with his widowed mother before the war.

I sent off for the pension records. The first page was all I needed. The pension application has his mother’s name, Emily Williams. I was so overwhelmed, I cried. This was really my John Williams. The remaining pages further confirmed it with his father’s name and date of death.

I’ve combed through cemetery after cemetery but I can’t find where he was buried. If he’s buried somewhere without a name, I hope to fix it by seeing that his final resting place reads: “QM Sgt. John B. Williams, Nov. 3, 1841—Jun. 2, 1864.” I’m on a quest to find and honor him. I’ve come too far to stop now.

Nikki Phipps » King, NC

Three Strikes and You’re In

My great-aunt Kathleen Cornwell Kee died in 1956, and I didn’t know where she was buried. Her husband died in 1986; they had no children. Several family members were buried at Woodward Baptist Church in Chester County, SC, but I couldn’t find a marker for Kathleen or her husband.

I went to the vital records office for a copy of her death certificate. It stated she was buried at the Woodward Baptist Church by Barron Funeral Home in Chester, SC. But the church historian had no record of the burial. Strike one.

My next step was visiting the funeral home—which had a gap in its records spanning 1955 to 1957. Strike two.

The funeral director and a helper went to the cemetery and probed the ground for unmarked graves. But hard clay soil and rocks made the probing inconclusive. Strike three.

The director’s assistant said he thought people named Kee were buried at the Richburg, SC, Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church. An online index held no Kees, but while googling, I noted a nearby Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church. My wife and I drove there. We found many Kee graves—including my great-aunt’s and her husband’s. His marker identified him as a WWI veteran, which I’d not known.

I spent five hours at the South Carolina state archives looking up unindexed disinterment records, and found that Mr. Kee got authority in 1969 to relocate my great-aunt to his family cemetery. Now I know she was originally buried at Woodward, but was later moved. She is not forgotten.

Arthur Coogler » Columbia, SC

 


From the May 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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