Friday, May 16, 2014

Alfred T Wesner (1882-1939) "52 Ancestors"

 Hi again everyone. This is week 20 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. I am trying to get a little ahead in my stories since we are now in the middle of our move and I am getting real busy with the packing and all the decorating. So because of all that is going on I am trying to work on the low hanging fruit and write about those people that have more information instead of the mysteries. Looking back on the statistics of web views I can see that my weekly viewership has stayed pretty consistent. I am glad that I have some loyal viewers who want to read about our ancestors.

Alfred T Wesner
This week I will be writing about my wife's great grandfather, Alfred T Wesner (1882-1939). Alfred was the son of Christian T Wesner (1851-1835) and Mary Jane Smith (1850-1932). Look at that, Mary Jane Smith - see I do have some common names in my file, luckily they get married quickly and then change their name to something more unique, like Wesner. Christian Wesner was born in Germany and immigrated to the US in 1853. He worked as a sawyer at a sawmill. Alfred was the fourth of seven children. His siblings were Rebecca (1874-1942), Maggie Myrtle (1846-1933), Cora May (1879-1958), Christian Earl (1886-1957), Ethel (1888-1983), and Raymond (1891-1961). All of the children were born near St. Marys, Auglaize County, Ohio.

In 1900 Alfred (age 18) was living with his parents, Christian (age 49) and Mary (age 49), and four siblings, Cora (age 21), Earl (age 13), Ethel (age 10) and Ray (age 9). Alfred was employed as a farm laborer. On 26 October 1905, Alfred married Josephine Katrina Bielefeld (1880-1967), the daughter of Henry Wilhelm Bielefeld (1852-1925) and Margeurite Geyer (1852-1914). Josephine had grown up in New Knoxville, Auglaize County, Ohio. The 1910 census states that Alfred (age 27) and Josephine (age 29) were living at 224 South Ash Street in St. Marys, Auglaize County, Ohio. They had their first child, Merwyn O (age 2), listed in that census also. Alfred's occupation was listed as an express driver. By 1914, his wife Josephine, had given birth to four children, two of which had died in infancy. His children were Merwyn Olin (1907-1974), Moxlee Eugene (1910-1954), a female infant (19 April 1912 - 19 April 1912), and Alfretta Katherine (15 June 1914 - 3 July 1914).

Alfred and Josephine divorced and by the time Alfred registered for the WW I draft he had remarried to Sophia Blanche Folk (1887-1951). Alfred's occupation is listed as carpenter and he is working for Bates-Rogers in Toledo, Ohio. However, his residence is listed as St. Marys. He is described as as tall and stout with green eyes and dark brown hair. Josephine and the two sons were living at 625 Hendricks Avenue in St. Marys. By 1930 Josephine and the boys had relocated to Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1920, Alfred (age 37) and his second wife Blanche (age 32) are living at 226 North Fruit Street in St. Marys, Ohio. Alfred's occupation is listed as driver for transfer company. Blanche was pregnant at the time the census was taken and their son Alfred William Wesner was born on 17 November 1920. Alfred Jr. died on 29 November 2004 and is buried along with his wife and next to his mother in Elmgrove Cemetery in St. Marys.

By 1927 this marriage was on the rocks and Alfred was living at the Hotel Norval in Lima, Allen County, Ohio. We know he was living there because of an accident he had between his automobile and a motorcycle driven by Joseph Penn on the evening of 23 April 1927. In the 1930 census Alfred is divorced and listed as a renter on King Street in St. Marys, Ohio. His rent was $10 per month and he was employed as a proprietor of a truck or taxi. After two failed marriages Alfred tried a third and final time. Sometime around 1930 he married Winona Webb. By 1935 his troubles had increased. He was taken to court by the First National Bank under foreclosure in the amount of $1,668.98. He lost this case and the bank was awarded $1,208.64.

Alfred Wesner died 29 January 1939, at Gibbons Hospital in Celina, Mercer County, Ohio due to complications from an operation. He was 59 years old. He was survived by his wife Winona and three sons, Merwyn, Moxlee, and Alfred Jr. Alfred is buried in Elmgrove Cemetery in St. Marys.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Estill Bowen "Doc" Walker (1909-1994) "52 Ancestors"

Hi again, this is week 19 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. This last week has been very productive in my research. I have met several people online and received a pile of information that I need to begin adding to my Bruns, Schulze, and Schwartz lines. I received nearly 300 pages of information, several dozen photographs and scans of original land grants from the 1830s. Between all that and the upcoming move it has been a real busy time.

This week I decided to write a story about my wife's grandfather Estill Bowen "Doc" Walker (1909-1994). Why did I decide to write about him? I don't know, it just seemed to be the thing to do and I guess that is the only reason that I need. Before I start to write I figured I would explain how I do these blogs. After many years of research I have built up a database of over 42,000 names. Many of these have pages of transcribed records that I have found to describe the life of the individual. By reading through these records in chronological order I can build a profile of the person's life. My favorite records are newspaper articles because they usually provide some interesting facts that are not included in the vital records. Once I choose an individual to focus on I then make sure that I have all the necessary records to fill in the details and then I start writing. All of my writing is done in one sitting and usually in about two hours. I have noticed that my stories are averaging around 1,000 words per post. Then I proof read the post several times hoping to find any errors. I don't know if everyone writes the way I do but it seems to work for me. If you have read my first blog post, way back on 29 November 2009, you would see that I was originally inspired to write because of a poem titled "The Dash" by Linda Ellis. After reading that poem I decided that it was my responsibility to fill in the details symbolized by the dash between the birth and death dates. Occasionally I get lucky and will have someone read one of my blogs and discover that they are related. If you are one of those people please feel free to contact me and I will see what I can do to help you in your research.

Estill Bowen Walker
Now, on to the story of Estill Bowen Walker. Estill was born on 13 June 1909 in Jacksonville, Florida and was the son of Ernest Albert Walker (1886-1966) and Minnie Lacy Hall (1886-1967). Ernest and Minnie were married on 6 November 1905 in St. Mathews Methodist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Estill had three sisters; Viloet Alberta (1906-2001), Dorothy Louise (1912-1999), and Marjorie Elizabeth (1916-1974) and one brother; William Maurice (1913-1915). His father was born in Leesburg, Florida (the son of James Albert Walker) and his mother was born in Paris, Kentucky. The family lived in Jacksonville, Florida. Estill first shows up in the 1910 census for Jacksonville, Florida. The family consisted of Ernest A (age 24), Minnie L (age 24), Violet (age 3) and Estill (age 11  months). His father Ernest was employed as a plumber.

In 1920, the family is living at 137 West 21st in Jacksonville and consisted of Ernest A (age 34), Minnie (age 33), Violet (age 13), Estill (age 10), Louisa (age 7) and Marjorie (age 3). Estill's name is incorrect on this census. He is listed as Estell and as a daughter. I wonder if he got teased in school because of his name.

Estill married Alita Lexow, the daughter of Frederick Henry Lexow and Mary A Truesdale, about 1926. They had two sons, Estill Herbert (1927-1972) and John Norwood (1934-1991). In 1930 he was living at 1837 Clarkson Street with his wife Alita (age 23) and son Estill Herbert (age 3). The location of their home was only two houses down from Frederick Lexow and today is located within a warehouse area near the Tallyrand shipyards in Jacksonville. Estill was renting this house for $18/month and was employed as a laborer at the Ford Motor Company. One of his first jobs at the Ford plant was in the first aid unit where he acquired the nickname "Doc".

The Ford Motor Company assembly plant was constructed near the shipyards in 1923 and was designed so that Ford's fleet of oceangoing ships could dock nearby and railcars could enter on one side with parts to unload and would leave on the other side with finished vehicles.

In 1931, the family was living at 901 Parker and Estill was employed as an inspector at the Ford Motor Company. The assembly plant was operational until 1932 and was then converted to a parts warehouse that was used until 1968. By 1935 Estill had been promoted to the position of foreman at the plant and was now living at 1930 Wambolt, apartment 1. This apartment is located one block north of his previous location on Clarkson Street and still near the Tallyrand shipyards. The family consisted of Estill B (age 26), Alita (age 26), Estill H (age 8), John N (infant), and Mary Lexow (age 53) his mother-in-law. In 1940 the apartment on Wambolt Street was renting for $16/month and Estill had an annual income of $2200 working as the foreman in the auto parts warehouse.

Lt. E B Walker
Estill served with the Army during WW II where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant. After returning from service he again went to work for the Ford Company. The family is listed as living at 241 East 2nd in the 1944 Jacksonville city directory. His career with Ford continued to improve and he was promoted to district zone manager and service manager. In 1954 he and Alita were divorced and Estill remarried Ruth Hamm (1927-2008). Estill and Ruth were living at 2224 Southhampton Road in Jacksonville in 1954 and Estill was employed as a field manager for Ford. In December 1957 he was given a Ford franchise dealership in Treasure Island, Florida. This location was not the best and he would comment that customers had to seek them out and cross a toll bridge to get to it. His Ford dealership was moved 25 miles to Clearwater a decade later. He was able to expand his dealership at this location and was repeatedly honored with achievement awards. In 1981, the St. Petersburg Motor Club selected Walker Ford as their first approved repair shop.

Estill died of congestive heart failure at the age of 85 in St. Petersburg on 9 August 1994. He had been a nursing home resident for eight years prior to his death. He was buried on 12 August 1994 in Woodlawn Memory Gardens in St. Petersburg

Friday, May 2, 2014

Herman Heinrich Bruns (1840-1913) "52 Ancestors"

Week 18 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge and still going strong. We had our move inventory earlier this week in preparation for our upcoming relocation. We also have been doing some furniture shopping. My wife had originally decided on a Key West style with lots of beachy themes and light colors. She has now switched to a more Victorian look with bold colors. Good thing I hadn't started buying paint yet. While we were doing all of that I tried to do a little family history research. I was all over the board. I did a little on the following families: Bruns, Kaiser, Dues, Hilgefort, LeBoeuf, and some others but really didn't concentrate on any of them too much. Must be the ADD in me - SQUIRREL!!

Ok, now that I have a few minutes to sit and concentrate, I decided to focus in on my great-great grandfather, Herman Heinrich Bruns (1840-1913). I was looking through the names I had already done for my blog and realized that I had not written any stories on the Bruns family.

Herman was born in Minster, Auglaize County, Ohio. His exact birth date is in question. The St. Augustine Church archivist in Minster says he was born on 15 February 1839. The 1900 census has his birth date as April 1840. His death certificate says he was born on 3 January 1840. His parents were Joseph Heinrich Johann Bruns (1805-1878) and Maria Antonetta Schunck (1805-1887), both of whom were born in Germany. His father was born in Oldenburg, Germany and acquired land in Stallostown (Minster) in 1833 after he immigrated. On 9 October 1835 he received a land grant for 80 acres located in the east 1/2 of the north 1/2 of the southeast quarter of Section 4, Township 8, Range 4. That land is now located at 11765 Bruns Road. Stallowstown was founded in 1832 by Francis Stallo and changed its name to Minster in 1836 in remembrance of the Roman Catholic region of Munster in Westphalia where many of the early settlers originated. Many of the early settlers arrived in the United States through the port of Baltimore and then made their way down the Ohio River to Cincinnati. From there they followed the Miami-Erie Canal to Minster. There is some confusion as to how many siblings Herman had. My research has the following siblings; Johan Heinrich Frederich (1835-1907), John Bernard (1842-1882), Elisabeth (abt 1843-??), and John (abt 1846-??). Part of this confusion is the result of the 1850 census which lists Joseph (age 46), Antonate (age 44) and their children Frederic (age 16), Henry (age 14), Bernard (age 10), Eliza (age 6) and John (age 4). The ages for Frederic, Henry and Bernard don't quite match up with the birthdates for Johan Heinrich Frederich, Herman Heinrich, and John Bernard. In 1850 the family is living in McLean Township, Shelby County, Ohio and Joseph has $400 worth of property.

On 15 October 1863, Herman married Maria Anna "Mary" Kuether (1845-1924). Mary was the daughter of Johann Joseph Kuether (1913-1857) and Maria Elisabeth Drees (1809-1863), both German immigrants from Hanover, Germany. Mary lived her entire life on the family farm two miles south of Egypt in Shelby County, Ohio. When Herman and Mary married they took over the operations of the Kuether family farm and lived there the remainder of their lives.

The 1870 census for McLean Township, Shelby County, Ohio lists the family as Herm (age 30), Mary A (age 25), and their children Catherine (age 6), Elizabeth (age 4), and Anna (age 9 moths). The farm is valued at $2300 and Herman's personal value is $715.

The 1880 census has Herman (age 40), Mary (age 34), Catherine (age 15), Elizabeth (age 13), Anna (age 10), Josephina (age 8), Mary Anna (age 8), Rosa (age 3), and Ferdinand (age 8 months). All of the children, except Rosa and Ferdinand, are listed as attending school.

There are a couple things that I have found interesting in the 1900 census. Herman (age 60) is listed as not being able to read, write or speak English. This is followed up in the 1910 census which states that Herman speaks German. This area of Ohio was heavily German and for many, it was their first language and the local newspapers continued to be written in German up until about 1920. It strikes me as odd though that all the other members of the family were speaking English and only Herman was not. Additionally, there is a new name in the family that I am not able to track. There is a daughter named Jennie (age 25) born July 1874. I don't see her listed in the 1880 census and the closest child to this age is Mary Anna who was born September 1875. The remainder of the family in this census are Fred (age 19), Joseph (age 17) and Mary (age 14). Herman had been married for 30 years at the time of the 1900 census and they are listed as having 9 children, all of whom are still living.

By the 1910 census, their son Fred (age 30) has taken over the family farm and is taking care of Herman (age 71) and Mary (age 65). Joseph (age 28), another of their sons, is also working on the farm. A niece, Caroline Winner (age 21), is also living at the home. Fred (Ferdinand) (1879-1951) married Katherine Poeppelman (1878-1957) on 8 June 1910. Fred and Katherine had five children; Robert (1911-1971), Clarence (1912-1959), Raymond (abt 1915-??), Marie (1915-2007), and Edward (1918-1999).

Herman died at 11:30 p.m. on 13 January 1913 at the farm. He had been ill for some weeks, suffering from uremia and chronic nephritis. Herman was 72 years and 11 months old at the time of his death and only 9 months shy of celebrating his golden wedding anniversary. His funeral was held on 16 January 1913 and he was buried in St. Joseph's Cemetery.

Mary continued to live on the farm with Fred's family and Joseph who never married. The 1920 census lists Fred (age 41), Kathie (age 41), Robert (age 8), Clarence (age 7), Raymond (age 5), Mary (age 4), and Edward (age 1 year 8 months). Also in the home are his mother Maria Anna (age 74) and his brother Joseph (age 37).

Mary died at the age of 79 on 28 November 1924 on the farm hat she had spent her entire life caring for. She was still very active, taking care of the household work and caring for her family and the grandchildren. She woke that morning feeling a little under the weather and asked the other family members to help her with the chores. Later that day she suffered a stroke. She was one of the oldest residents in the area of Egypt and was well respected in the community. The funeral on 2 December 1924 was well attended by many friends and family. Mary had a large number of family members including forty grandchildren in the Egypt area.