The Muller House on Kreuzgasse; Humble Beginnings in Schwarzenmatt, Switzerland – 52 Ancestors #229

Just when I thought I was done with the Muller story, as in end-of-the-line done, another wonderful gift arrived for the Miller descendants in the form of a chapter from a book written by Peter Mosimann and his wife, Berti Mosimann-Bhend whose family owned the Muller home in Schwarzenmatt, Switzerland for generations, and still does.

Peter Mosiman very kindly sent this chapter of his out-of-print book to Chris, who sent it to me. I did my best translating it using www.DeepL.com/Translator.

An automated translator can only do so much, even a good one, so I sent the translated text back to Chris, who very patiently reviewed and retranslated over 260 places in this document over the holidays, in spite of having a young family. I feel like I need to apologize to Chris, because this isn’t even his family – although I wish it was.

This may not be your family either, but if you have Swiss or “Alpine” family from Europe, this is probably the story of your family. The goats, the cheese, their hand tools, carvings about God in their barns and…well…just come along. There are amazing photos and it’s never going to get any more “real” than this unless you have a time machine.

Thank You

My humble thanks to Chris and to Peter Mosiman for his permission to use his chapter and his photos to document the beautiful home of our Heinsmann Muller, the grandfather of Johann Michael Muller (Miller) the second who was born in 1692 in Steinwenden, Germany. At least, it’s very likely Heinsmann’s home. We know it was in the Muller family a generation later.

This historic home was built in 1556, according to the date carved into the wall, 100 years before Johann Michael Muller was born, but half a century after we know that a Muller man was living in Schwarzenmatt.

Johann Michael Muller the second, whose father was born in Schwarzenmatt, along with his half-brother, Jacob Stutzman whose family was also from this region and possibly from this village, immigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1727, founding both the Stutzman and Miller lineages in the US. Our roots run deep in this valley.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Peter and his wife, Berti Mosimann-Bhend for preserving and restoring this wonderful historical home for future generations. You can read in the text the extent of their frustrations but were it not for their perseverance, there would be nothing left today.

Before we read Berti’s chapter, lets take a look at the earliest history of Schwarzenmatt, the quaint Swiss alpine village where Johann Michael Muller was born to Heinsmann Muller in 1655.

Come along…

Prehistory of Schwarzenmatt

As we travel further back in time in the human occupation of our planet earth, records become increasingly scarce. Eventually, of course, the only records are archaeological sites found in caves and shelters where our very distant ancestors lived. Pathways faintly threaded through the mountains and forests connecting one location with the next, or shelters with hunting grounds.

During the Middle Ages forts and castles were built along these routes to protect access, although all are in ruins today. Villages were established as waypoints, probably accidentally, beginning with a single hut, and grew slowly over time.

The villages and farms in this region came under Bernese control in 1386 and at that time, several villages were listed, including Boltigen, first mentioned in 1286, and Schwarzenmatt. The Boltigen church, St. Mauritius is first mentioned in 1288, so enough people were living there at that time to warrant the erection of a (then Catholic) church in the community.

Traditionally, villages in this valley imported grain from Bern and raised cattle on the valley floor and in seasonal alpine herding camps. Some trade occurred over the Juan Pass, shown below, crossing the Alps to France as well.

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2643201

Our Muller family is first found in the records of Schwarzenmatt in the early 1500s, at least by name, but humans inhabited the alpine valley and mountains long before. Who knows, these early settlers could have been our ancestors, or they could have moved on or eventually their lineage might have been wiped out.

The first trace of human habitation is found about a mile and a half as the crow flies, above Schwarzenmatt in the mountains towering over the village.

By Ulrich Eranrb, Boltigen BE, Switzerland – Self-photographed, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21282568

The Ranggliloch Mesolithic shelter from about 15,000 years ago is a cave above what eventually became a mule path known as the Juan Pass (1509 meters) that connects Boltigen in Switzerland with Jaun in France and passed directly through the tiny village of Schwarzenmatt.

The Letter

Now that we know a bit about the earliest history of the area, let’s turn to Chris who tells us that a letter arrived from Peter Mosimann which included the chapter on the house on the Kreuzgasse in Schwarzenmatt, from the Boltigen book. This chapter was written by Peter’s wife Berti Mosimann-Bhend whose family owned the Muller home.

From Chris:

The second-last paragraph in the letter by Peter Mosimann may be a good summary:

“Heintzman Müller certainly lived in Schwarzenmatt in 1653, but whether he lived in our house hasn’t been proven yet. In former times, young families often spent some time at home, but when there were several children, then they moved out and often lived nearby. It should also be remembered that in some larger houses there were two fireplaces, so that we cannot deduce the exact number of houses from this directory.”

Let me add that there is indeed a Wolfgang Müller on the 1653 house list, so it is hard to tell, if there may in fact have been two Müller families in Schwarzenmatt. Personally, I do not think so, but it remains a possibility.

On the bottom of the letter there is a note that in 1653 (year of Schwarzenmatt house list) a peasant war was taking place in Switzerland. I was not aware of this, you can read about it in English here.

The book chapter itself gives no new genealogical information for you, Roberta, except one notion on page 289 that a Benedikt Müller is on record as a Schwarzenmatt resident as early as 1502. Besides that, I am sure you will like the photos!

On the pages 293 and 294, there is a colored floor plan of the house, “black” being the remains of the original building from 1556 and all further parts added from 1705 onwards That means that if Heintzmann Müller and son Michael indeed lived in this very house, then it was about one third of the size it is today – rather small!

Also, please note that from page 308 onwards additional houses are described, not the house on Kreuzgasse.

I was excited to see that one Benedikt Muller was living in Schwarzenmatt in 1502, 153 years before Johann Michael Muller was born in Schwarzenmatt in 1655 to Heinsmann or Heinzmann Muller, however his name was actually spelled.

If we use the 30-year generation as an average, we can presume that Heinsmann was born in about 1625.

  • Heinsmann’s father – born about 1595
  • Heinsmann’s grandfather – born about 1565
  • Heinsmann’s great-grandfather – born about 1535
  • Heinsmann’s great-great-grandfather – born about 1500
  • Benedikt Muller – born about 1470.

Did we just reach back another 5 generations in the Muller family in Schwarzenmatt? It’s certainly possible, but very unlikely that we will ever be able to connect those dots.

The Muller House on Kreuzgasse in Schwarzenmatt

This next section is the chapter itself, translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator and improved by Chris. I have left the translation largely intact, even when it’s stilted, in order not to inadvertently change the meaning.

Page 1 of the pdf that Peter sent, page 289 of the original book, on the bottom right of the page.

In the gable triangle, the year 1556 is at the upper left corner; the house is therefore one of the earliest dated rural residential buildings of the municipality Boltigen and perhaps even of the entire Bernese Oberland; today it forms a rare example of the small rural house type of the 16th century. So that one can imagine the time, in which this house is built, can visualize something better.

I would like to remind you of some important events of that time:

  • 1492 Christopher Columbus discovers America.
  • 1509 Nikolaus Kopernikus explains that the sun is the center of our planetary system.
  • 1515 Battle of Marignano. End of the Swiss great power politics.
  • 1517 Start of the Reformation in Germany by Martin Luther.
  • 1519 Magellanes is the first to sail around the world.
  • 1528 Reformation in the state of Bern.
  • 1531 Kappeier wars. Death of Ulrich Zwingli.
  • 1536 Bern conquers Vaud.
  • 1556 Emperor Charles V of Habsburg abdicates. “In my kingdom the sun never sets.”
  • In Boltigen the entries in the first church book (Eherodel) begin.
  • 1564 The Geneva reformer Johannes Calvin dies.
  • 1572 Persecutions of Huguenots in France. Bartholomew’s night.
  • 1588 England destroys the Spanish Armada.
  • 1608 Invention of the telescope.

It was the time of the masters, the patricians, Schultheisse and Landvögte, but also the time of the muleteers and rice runners, religious wars, plague trains, witches and Anabaptist persecutions, the Renaissance and the Baroque.

Probably the house on the Kreuzgasse was built on the Allmend built. It stands in a striking, sunny location of the settlement, directly on the old alpine and mule track (IVS: BE 25.1) from Boltigen via Reidigen to Jaun and more into the Gruyère region.

Before 1615 there were in Schwarzenmatt only a few courtyards, only four prove themselves with certainty, which also included our house; next to it there were some individual farmsteads (Tuor 1974: 64).

The house may have always been our ancestors. Documents of the State Archives and archival material the community of Boltigen and the Säuert Schwarzenmatt as well as private purchase contracts suggest this. In Schwarzenmatt are already 1425 Agnes Spilman (BU: 271), 1502 Benedikt Mueller (U 2) and 1558 Peter and Paulj Spylman (K 1: 4) detectable. The Spielmann Families and Mullers have been at least since the 15th century and 16th century settled here. Barbara owned in 1720 Spyllman in the Säuert Schwarzenmatt a “Hauß and Spycherblatz” [house and granary] (SSB: 54). 1741 lent Hans Spillmann Saltigen 179 Kr 6 bz 1 X and gave as a deposit the so called “Lehngut” [feud ?] and the house in Schwarzenmatt including beunden [a piece of land with a fence] and garden (AG: 25).

Andreas Müller married Johanna Horner (died 1768) in 1731.

Barthlome Müller (born 1731) her son, took Anna Zimmermann from Wattenwil (died 1775) as his wife. Since Barthlome had fled for unknown reasons around 1770, Anna and her children had to be supported by the community as in the poor calculations (MA 1:1773 f.). Single mothers were I’m afraid it was very badly placed back then. Jakob, Barthlomes and Anna’s son, married her already in the house on the Margaretha Spielmann living in Kreuzgasse (1742-1819); unfortunately, Jakob died very early (1758-1785). In his widow Margaretha lived with her two children two children Anna (1779-1837) and David (1782-1817) and her sister Magdalena Spielmann (1747-1812). Both women were sentenced in 1786 by the choir court for unauthorized serving of wine without permission, each penalty of 1 lb (C VIII: 31 0). Already their father, the mule skinner Hans Spielmann (died 1784) had to appear before the choir court several times because of unauthorized sale of wine and unauthorized [“Wirtschaft” is an inn, so “Winkelwirtschaft” could be an inn at a street corner, but I am guessing. Alternatively, it could as well be a specific juristic term for unauthorized sale.] at the Schafscheid [a place, where sheep are separated in different groups and directed on different roads] in Schwarzenmatt (C VI: 404, 409, 412). In 1805 Margaretha was (owed?) the Moneylender Johannes Zabli at Brunnehus 33 Kr 1 0 X accrued interest owed (EA: 12).

Kreuzgassen: Magdalena and Margritha Spielmann have all the house rules. 1808. AGM: 18.

Page 2 of pdf, page 290 of document.

The Kauf-Beyle of 1819/1825 states that “the lower half of the house (on Kreuzgasse) belongs to David Müller (1782-1817). Children of thought Schwarzenmatt “I belong to.” These five children were siblings of the seller Anna Spielmann, Johannes’ daughter from Weissenbach. She had inherited from her grandmother Margaretha Müller, née Spielmann, widow of the late Jakob …, half of the house. According to above Purchase and sale of orphans of Boltigen Municipality in Anna’s name her part of the house to old Gerichtsäss Jakob Gobeli zu Weissenbach (1746-1839), husband of Anna Müller (1779-1837).

Anna Müller’s brother David (1782-1817), Jakob’s son, married (Eherodel burned) Magdalena Karlen (1775-1827). He died as a soldier in a hospital in Holland. Their children were David (1803-1878), Magdalena (born 1805), Anna (born 1811), Christian (born 1814, teacher) and Margaretha (1816-1862). Later, Jakob Gobeli must have passed on his half of the house to these five children.

David Müller (1803-1878), known as “the hunter”, married in 1825 with Barbara Reidenbach (1798-1853). Her children were Barbara (born 1825, died in the USA). Caroline (1833-1903). Susanna (born 1834), David (1840-1897 died in Ohio) and Friedrich Wilhelm (born 1842, died in the USA).

In 1837 David acquired his four siblings’ shares in house and real estate, so that he is the sole owner of the in the house on Kreuzgasse. Caroline was my great-grandmother, she took (married) in 1868 in Spiez, Friedrich Bhend (1836-1904), of Jacob blessed, to man; he was cheese maker and Salzer and came from the small town Unterseen, his hometown. In 1872 David Müller sold the whole property for 6’700 Fr. to his daughter Friedrich Bhendin. His children were Louise (1872-1884) and Frederick (1873-1943). He married Susanna in 1903.

Katharina von Allmen (1877-1950); both were my Grandparents. They had three boys: Friedrich (1904-1984), Johannes (1906-2005) and Karl (1909-1973).

Johannes Bhend and Elise Stalder (1911-2008), my parents [the parents of Berti Mosimann-Bhend] held their wedding in 1935 and were gifted with five daughters: Rasmarie (born 1935), Hulda (born 1937), Elise Bertha (born 1940), Therese (born 1943) and Verena (born 1946).

If this chart is accurate, Berti and I are 9th cousins, once removed, or 9C1R. The three people in red immigrated to the US, and we’ll meet David, highlighted in red, later. Back to Berti:

After the move of my parents to the old age center “Bergsonne “the house in Zweisimmen was uninhabited since 2002. In February 2009 I bought it from the community of heirs.

With the “Ferien im Baudenkmal” Foundation FIB”, a sub-organization of the Swiss Heritage Protection, in 2010 an agreement was signed for 30 years completed. For the gentle reconstruction and the conversion into a holiday home was the subject of an architectural competition, won by the architects Bühler AG in Thun.

The house was built on top of it, after a six-month delay due to a neighbor’s building objection, from May to Christmas 2011 by the Foundation; in cooperation with the cantonal authorities. preservation of historical monuments, but mostly disregarding my wishes as owner and financier.

Unfortunately, the work was not done at all gently, as promised before, and without feeling for the historically valuable, interesting house! Thereby especially local craftsmen. On 21 December 2011 took place the inauguration, and on 25 December the first holiday guests moved in.

Image on page 290

The house on the Kreuzgasse in Schwarzenmatt from 1556. Susanna Katharina and Friedrich Bhend-von Allmen [his family name] stand in front of the ring fence.

With their children Friedrich, Karl and Johannes. Little boys used to wear skirts. The rings of the fence were made of green, slender twigs of dance. In front of the house stands a “Scheielizaun”. Photo from 1912, owned by B. Mosimann.

The house property bordered 1872 “above (N) at the Magdalena Eschler Soil, outside (E) and below (S) an the alley and inside 0NJ at Susanne Stocker Erben Bäunde.” To the house belonged a house pasture or five feet right on the Hausweidreidigberg and the ground serving summation or right of pasture to the of summed up Schwarzenmatt grounds. It was the impetus after with the alley maintenance complained [I am guessing again: “Kaufbeile” is probably the archival folder for house purchases] in 1872.

The house possesses an old house right (HV: 18), which the residents are entitled each year to take one of the following forest ranger marked fir tree, called lot wood, for his own use to fell. An old house belonging to the house winter right of way allows them to use the logs in winter with the horn sledge to the western neighboring property to lead it there to firewood, and next door to it in the woodcut. In spring, all the traces of logging on neighboring land removed be. The current owner refuses to know anything about any old rights.

All over the world, people used to use the material which nature has offered on the spot; thereby are the characteristic houses of a region of the country which fit in perfectly with their surroundings. The most important building materials in the Bernese Oberland were wood and stone well into the 20th century; both stood in the immediate vicinity in sufficient quantity and reasonably priced, so also for our house. The walls of the basement, the west wall, the wall between cook and stable as well as the pedestal of the east wall between the house door and the stable door consist of unhewn quarry stones, from boulders and brook debris in all sizes; they all originate from the near environment or even from the pit itself. The stones are made with only little lime mortar connected, plastered and white limed over. The art of masonry was here in the valley at that time still little developed and stands in contrast to the to the remarkable carpentry of this house.

In 2011, we invited the archaeologists of the Service (ADB) for a tour of the old building but unfortunately the offer was not used.

The house underwent various structural changes. 9.11.2009.

The roofs of the residential part and the stable were 1951 only with shingles, later then partly above the shingles covered with bricks, such as those around the new fireplace. Around 1960 the whole western part of the wall above the dwelling covered with bricks. 1977 one laid over the shingles of the apartment – in place the brick – Eternit plates and over the shingles of the stable brick.

(Page 4 of pdf, 292 of original)

During the reconstruction of 2011 the whole, well preserved cement asbestos roof together with the existing shingle roof again for no reason through heavy tiles is replaced. A good shingle roof insulates against summer heat and winter coldness; therefore it was in the Gaden [The “Gaden” must be a specific Swiss German term of a room. I never heard it before and cannot find information about it online.] never unpleasant even in the worst summer heat warm. Since the air here in the mountains in the evening always cooled, we girls in the Gaden could always sleep well. At the part of the stable the wooden roof bricks of the shingle roof, held by wooden hangers, unfortunately unnecessarily discarded. In addition the good roof bricks that had been stored in the hayloft disappeared without a trace.

West wall of the kitchen during reconstruction. 10.07.2011.

Above: Large eaves with typical 16th century ridge console.

Above: Year 1556. 9.11.2009.

Above: Strange holes in the beam above the room door. In the square hole on the upper right was the joist of the former.

“Welbi” (hallway) from 1951. Right: Holes to snap in the rod of the fireplace lid [I cannot offer a better translation than this. Fitting places for a rod used to open/close the fireplace.]. 26.2.20

Page 5 of pdf, page 293 of original.

Construction phases: Plan photographs autumn 2009 by architect Hans-Ruedi Roth. Spiez:.

  • Black – 1556 Original building. One room wide, two room deep with open smoke house. Later the installation took place of a wooden fireplace. The stove firing with stove plate and boiling stove were located at the western exterior wall of the kitchen.
  • Blue – 1705 Extension of a barn on the north side. Independent ridge, staggered opposite the main building.
  • Red – 1903 Widening of the Stuben floor to include the eaves arcade. Two new parlours with three are built on the ground floor, resp. two single windows. The three symmetrically arranged gaden windows were only changed in 1952.
  • Yellow – Modifications and installations after 1952.

Above: Facade west and east. Below: Front and back of the house.

Page 6 of pdf, page 294 of original

Ground floor plan.

Cuts.

Page 8 of pdf, page 296 of original

The ground floor originally only possessed one single room. Around 1900 the story was renovated and east, so that a small adjoining sleeping room was established. During the renovation of the front of the room, unfortunately only narrow walls were inserted between the windows; but before that, the opened window shutters were in place during the day. This “improvement” was fashion at that time.

Between the parlor and the stable there was originally an open smoke kitchen, where the rising smoke is through the cracks of the roof; and in the process the soot adheres to beams and walls, that’s why the one upstairs is black today. Later the open western half of the kitchen is a large, pyramid-shaped wooden fireplace. After a post-butcher feast, from the middle of the winter onwards, ham, bacon sides and sausages were stored and smoked on wooden rods in the upper half of the upwards tapered room, safe from mice. Through the open chimney also light fell in the kitchen. Today’s small roof window shows about the where once the former fireplace led out into the open air.

In the kitchen, on the right parlor door post old drill holes arranged vertically on top of each other are visible; in it one could see the long rod for adjusting the fireplace lid. On the left side you can see a lot of weird ones all over the beam above the door, 1-2 cm deep square smaller and larger holes. However, they cannot, as is was assumed, be marks caused by halberds that were smashed in there a long time ago, the holes are too small and their cross section would have to be rhombus-shaped, the specialist of the archaeological (A: Wulf; 4.3.2013). Also nail holes are hardly an option, they are too little for that deep. Since the holes end sharply, they could perhaps be marks of flails [“Morgenstern” in German can mean both “morning star” as well as “flail” – I know, that sounds strange…].

Rescued remainder of the original debris from the rubble dump.

Substructure. It is 21.5 cm high, 15.2 cm wide, with a scratch plow pattern characteristic of the time and bore the ceiling up to the wooden fireplace until 1951. It is another confirmation the year 1556 (Rubi 1972: 57). The incisions for this beam is still visible on both kitchen walls.

To the right of the room door stood the wood-burning stove, which was also used to heat the tiled stove in the living room. In front of the cooker and the “Buuchchessi” [I have no idea, again Swiss German specific…] the kitchen floor without any basement below it consisted until 1951 made of large natural stone slabs; otherwise wooden shutters formed the floor the kitchen. With these stone slabs was later below the little garden door. The large, whitewashed wall framed by a small “Buuchchessi” was for cooking laundry. There was no “Schüttelstein” [must be a specific kind of stone for dish washing] yet; we washed the dishes in a basin on the kitchen table and simply poured the dishwater out to the Hostettli [Swiss German…]. We drew hot water with an oval water cup the “Water Ship”, a tin ship, with a copper rectangular container with lid on the side at the wood-burning stove. When in the stove was fired, we also have hot water.

The other households in Schwarzenmatt had to obtain their water at the different wells of the village until their houses built around the middle of the last century got a water connection. But in front of our house entrance has always been a well of our own with water rights for it (purchase records 1819/1825); there the water rights are we fetched the drinking water with a kettle. This kettle stood to the right of the woodcop door [I do not know the term, it describes a specific kind of door] and hung in it a “watergätzi” (ladle). Not until 1951 did the kitchen a connection with cold water and a back then usual [“Schüttelstein” again must be the place for dishwashing, but I do not know the exact meaning of the word] made of white stoneware. At this opportunity, a hole was broken through the west wall and a large window with sash bars, double glazing and shutters was built in. At the same time, the wooden fireplace was torn out as well, a floor was built in at the entire length of the kitchen and the steep, turned-in staircase to the upper floor turning 180 degrees [was built in]. The beautiful old two-part front door with knocker was sold and replaced by a one-piece the upper half of which consists of a window that can be opened. The kitchen has been equipped with the two the new windows is now much brighter. The electric light reached the village of Schwarzenmatt in 1928 (PBS:254), the telephone came into the house in 1956.

In the upper floor the large Gaden served on the east side for the storage of supplies and the small Gaden (with stove hole) as bedroom. Both rooms received early light through three small windows, all with one sliding window vision. During the reconstruction of 1951 these windows were replaced by four larger ones, and it was two rooms of the same size, but now brighter.

An antique dealer from Grubenwald convinced our mother to sell the old windows to him for little money and he built them in at his rustic “Restaurant Schlössli”.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g580341-d4844540-Reviews-Schlossli-Zweisimmen_Canton_of_Bern.html

The original Gadenwand [“Wand” means “wall”, but since I do not know what a “Gaden” is, I cannot further describe its meaning] would be on the arcade side very well preserved. In the wall, on the outside at different heights thumb thickness, good hand-long wooden nails for hanging tools and clothes, because cupboards were hardly used here until the 18th century known. It is possible that these nails were (page 9 of pdf, page 297 of original) even so-called corn nails and thus relics of the former granary. On one wall-length, arm-thick wooden pole, hanging on ropes at shoulder height, Papa lined up all kinds of agricultural objects like Treicheln, bells, calf and goat bells, chains and ropes. A 150 x 40 cm long and safe from mice needed wooden board mother, to put on tea and aromatic herbs, dried fruit and keep scrawny beans in linen bags. The pergola [arbor] also served as a screed [“floor screed” is the term my dictionary gives me, it is a kind of wooden floor]. During the conversion of our resistance – the wooden nails sawn off short way and the beautiful old wall behind an isolation layer hidden. Due to the excessively thick insulation of the floor, the room lost so much height that you could no longer stand erect.

The window sill with grooved bevels is typical of the 16th century and well preserved in the area of the corner combs. 9.11.2009

Above 9.5.2012.

Above: The grooved bevels in the living room are a feature of the 16th century. 11.4.2011.

Above: Door fitting of the living room door. Around 1760. 15.3.2011.

The typical gaden windowsill of the 16th century with grooved chamfers in the area of the Gwätte harrows (corner combs) still preserved; other embellishments when different grooves didn’t exist back then. It will can hardly be explained unequivocally, why the carpenters of the Oberland around 1600 as on order of the grooved trains cultivated over a century on the cornices and other parts of the building and from then on, for a while, only the Cube as a decorative element. “In the history of the Bernese carpentry, there was never a single change that occurred as quickly as the one around 1600 in the Oberland” (Rubi 1975: 34; Rubi 1980: 27) The still Gothic grooved bevel on the outer wall, above the sitting stove of the living room as well as at the lintel of the door of the house door and the room door confirm the notched year 1556.

The custom of using the year of construction on the building as a jewelry form has only very hesitantly spread in the Alpine region in the course of the 16th century. Before 1550 only isolated numbers; the oldest preserved one comes from 1516 at a house in Hasli near Oey, parish Diemtigen (Fiückiger R.: 129).

Page 10 in pdf, page 298 in original

The parlor used to have a large tread stove from sandstone; it was heated from the stove in the kitchen. The stove stood directly above a walled-in rock in the basement. Above the oven hung the “Ofestängeli”, a finger-thick wooden pole; it was used for hanging up and drying of wet clothes, small clothes, diapers, dads calf bandage etc. ln the corner above the stove can be in the hallway is a wooden lid which can be closed with an oven lid or “gaden” lid can be opened, so that the hot air can ascend into the cold “gaden”. Sometimes we girls slipped up through the hole when we went to sleep. Often we would take a rest on the oven warmed cherry stone baglet with us to bed.

Candle holder made of brass sheet; tallow light, so called “Meijulämpli “with drinking glass insert and suspended tallow bowl, 19. 2 tallow bowls made of brass turned, end of 18th century. House on the Kreuzgasse. 2010.

Wick or light cleaning scissors made of iron. Candles were up to beginning of the 19th century made of animal fat (tallow). The longer the wick, the more sooty and dripping they became. The burned tip of the wick therefore had to be regularly shortened (snuffed) with the wick scissors. To prevent the cut-off wick from falling off, the scissors [had] a box to hold the hot wick. Length: 15 cm. House on the Kreuzgasse. 2010.

The furnace had a “Ofeguggeli”, a niche in which the Mother kept food warm for a late coming home family member. In the autumn we dried in it plums, pear and apple slices. Around the oven ran a low “Ofestüeli”, a small wooden stove bench; Papa liked to sit on it when he tied the shoes or wrapped the calf pads in winter.

In 1972 the old, cozy sandstone stove needed repair and had to give way to a tiled stove; its “Ofeguggeli” now had a metal door. Unfortunately this cozy sitting stove was also torn out during the conversion.

In winter the living room was the only warm one until 1951, well-lit room throughout the house. Here we all ate meals. After we finished dinner Papa sat at the big table in the parlour, writing, mother sewed, knitted or mended dresses, socks and lingerie, we girls did our homework or played. In the cold kitchen was only cooked, washed up and I got the laundry.

The windows and doors are protected against rain and breeze. The pergola on the east side was a kind of winter garden; the morning sun warmed them even on cool days so that my old parents could stay there on their bedside. Such arbours (I do not have a good translation for “hilbe” – again, probably Swiss German) belong to many old Simmentaler houses. The door and some of the windows were unfortunately removed during the conversion, instead of renewed, so that it is now on the pergola with the coziness is over, because it rains in, often an uncomfortable draught prevails and you also feel exposed.

The tiled stove from 1972. 9.11.2009.

Under the pergola was the small chicken yard, in front of the fox protected by wire mesh. This pergola was supported with five poles. Why with the conversion three have been removed, we don’t understand; now the gate to the chicken coop is jammed because of this. When I was a child, my mother owned a dozen chickens, but no rooster. She bought from the chicken dealer Peduzzi, who is on a motorbike with side-mounted (page 11 of pdf, page 299 of original) the so-called “one-day chicks”. We held these until they were bigger, on the always warm room oven in a box with interspersed sawdust; then we brought them for a while in a small Hostettli (Swiss German again…) enclosure. The money from the egg sale was a welcome addition to the household budget for the mother.

Of course cats always lived with us because of the mice, too.

Above: Stove hole closed. 11.4.2011.

Above: stove hole open. 25.11 .2012.

The cellar and wooden doors, the stable door, the door on the upper pergola and the former front door are typical doors of the 16th century. They consist of two wide, up to 6 cm thick boards. Groove and comb connect them at the contact surfaces, and two entirely slightly wedge-shaped burr strips with dovetail profile keep them together. Since these boards can move in damp conditions weather laterally expand, but in drought it will the doors seldom fit exactly in the door frame. Folds of the posts (Rubi 1980: 112).

In 1705, in the extension of the ridge, an economic section on the day. Various holes, grooves, rectangular recesses and other characters on the bars prove that the timber has already been used in another building was used, which at that time was quite customary. Such re-utilization can be seen in our house at other places as well. For example, two former parlor joists with planed profiles serve as posts of the outer wooden door, another beam with profile was used as rafter on the roof of the upper and a former pergola cornice with a 17th century diamond pattern was used as a support for the cellar ceiling.

The part of the barn had a hay stage, a scattered pergola and three small stables for four to six goats and two pigs. Through the two coverable feeding holes in the floor boards, left and right of the gate door, daddy threw hay from the stage directly into the feeding troughs.

(page 12 of pdf, 300 of original)

Above: House before the reconstruction. 24.7.2008.

Above: under the pergola supported by five posts was the chicken yard, behind the Wall of the chicken coop. 27.5.2011.

The stables underneath the economic section shows various interesting details, e.g. over the ridge purlin a stapled rate pair (I have no idea even in German, what “verklammertes Rafenpaar” is supposed to mean, it must be a specific term in carpentry – not my subject…) or the gate door at the north wall with its ingenious wooden lock and the inscription “DMD 1844”; it is to be opened with a wooden key. DM is David Müller (1803-1878), D probably means David’s. On the stable wall of the on the east side is a wooden jug, from which the goats licked their salt – today also a rare object.

The small board, which the wall underneath before the salt was unfortunately thrown away during the conversion.

Above: Door to the wooden mop of wood.

Above: Strip with dovetail profile on the upper half of the barn door. 3.7.2011.

The eaves-side of the building is supported by two posts. The scattering pergola was covered from the hayloft by a small door; this opening existed, as the beam construction and Roth’s plans clearly show, already since 1705 the addition of the economic section of the building took place.

Flax, cereal cows, or also litter (dry leaves, fern, niche) stored, therefore evenly, the scattering hood. It is not comprehensible for us that the monument care this completely intact pergola, which is formerly an important function in everyday farming life as the first action at the beginning of the I’m afraid the reconstruction was cancelled. Double incomprehensible, because it robs the big canopy of its supports. The carpenter warned, if much snow the protruding roof could break.

Such scattered foliage belonged in former times practically to all stable barns. Some of them are used as threshing floors. (Tuor 1974n5: 169) and can still be seen in the valley today (page 13 of pdf, 301 of original) and can be observed at numerous houses. Probably found the many old, tanned boards of our Scatterbugs and others, on stage for decades stored boards with planing profiles on any noble building in Gstaad use. A few windows of our house front we discovered in summer 2012 by chance at a chalet converted into a holiday home in the community Oberwil, the others found elsewhere can be used again.

The stone slabs between the house and stable entrance come from the surrounding area and the reddish plates from the Roteflue Alp.

Directly behind the stable part supports the upper neighboring garden a 1 to 1.5 m high, today cement grouted quarry stone wall. They already existed in 1611, because at that time a “Hanns Spillman vff der mur’ (K 1: 191). This one lived in the neighboring upper house, which will later be my grandsons and my cousin today. Martin Bhend.

Economical part of 1705 with step-down cottage 0/VC). Stables, scattering arbour and hayloft, in front the upper Hostettli. 9.11 .2009.

Above: Wooden castle at the gate of the hayloft. 11.4.2011.

Above: Detail of the corner combing (Gwätt) with Ratennagel (large hardwood nail) for stabilizing the Beam. 3.7.2011.

Above: Salt can for goats. 9.3.2011.

I love this goat salt lick. I can see them standing there yet today!

Above: Between house entrance and stable. Above the spreading hood. 24. 7.2008.

Next to the barn door stood the wooden cottage (outhouse); at whose back wall served as a horizontal board with two round holes for dismounting. The septic tank had to be occasionally with a “Bschüttigoon” (small, wooden scoop on long wooden handle) exhausted will be. With the liquid manure the vegetables in the garden were or she was fertilized with a lockable liquid manure cart on the Maadli flood and distributed it there.

This still completely intact little cottage, which nobody stood in the way, would have stood nevertheless with the change can stay! This would have given the holiday guests the former simple states and to show it as a ski and sledge room or playhouse that kids could use. The house was supposed to be an architectural monument. Give the holidaymakers a little idea how the lives of the former inhabitants of this area could have played!

Old. original kitchen window with sliding window.

Page 14 pdf, 302 of original

The saying “Fear God and keep his commandments” is carved in Gothic script above the stable door. 20.4.2011.

Stone slab floor in front of the stable. If the stones are wet, their red color is more visible. 9.3.20 11.

Above 2, cellar wall made of found stones with a ventilation formed by four stone slabs. 10. 7. / 25.9. 2011.

Scattered pergola, two-part barn door and little exit cottage on the covered cesspit. (outhouse) 9.3.2011 .

Right: Departure. 9.9.2011.

Page 15 of pdf, page 303 of original

Wooden mop with exterior wall of “Müselen” (wood chips) and door; brick kitchen wall. 9.11.2009.

Above: Cellar door with bar grille. 9.3.2011.

Above: Cheese tower with rinds and cheese boards. 15.3.2011.

I love this cheese tower! I can see the Muller family making, and then checking the cheese.

On the west side of the farm building is the woodcut; it can be entered directly from the kitchen. A wooden door leads out of the mop of hair. The doorposts consist of old beams, which have planing profiles. Above the lintel donated a window the room brightness. Before the reconstruction wood splinters stacked up to under the roof and branches the outer walls, so that a closed hilber where daddy spent hours and hours in the winter wood sawed and split.

The cellar is half deepened in the ground and possesses a stamped ground. Attention deserves the wooden bar grids of the outer cellar door; with this you can the enclosed room can still be ventilated. In always cool cellar we supplied buckets, tubs, pickling barrels for fruit and the garden tools; but we stored especially potatoes and vegetables, milk and milk products.

Butter. Daddy took care of our alp cheese on the cheese tower. Not only the cheese tower in the cellar, but also others objects stored in the house show that in former times whose inhabitants were alpine shepherds who made cheese:

  • Cheese vat: 60 cm copper belly cauldron diameter, capacity about 80 litres. In it during cheese making, by heating the milk, the cheese mass won.
  • Järbe: Wooden ripening for shaping the cheese mass (in cheese cloths), outside around with adjustable pull cord to tighten. They were used for larger hard cheese. Cheese boards: while pressing on the table was the fresh cheese mass between two round boards in the first place.
  • Cheese tower: three round, staggered trays, through the center of which is a ground level in a large stone and ceiling joists rotatable axis guides. Then the cheese from the alp Reidigen (Rieneschli), where we our cattle summered, salted by their parents, well-groomed and, protected from mice, for personal use and kept it in a safe place. A rarity!

Alp Reidigen is about 2 miles as the crow flies.

  • Gebsen: cooped, round, low vessels from wood, in which the milk is stored overnight in the cool Milchgadeo or cellar was kept, so that on the surface, the cream was eliminated. This could be skimmed off in the morning with the shallow Nidelkelle and processed into butter.
  • Vätterli: round, turned or coopered wooden moulds with grooves and little holes in the bottom, through which drained the cheese milk. For the production of Cheese and goat cheese.

Tools stored in the house for various activities and repairs testify to the fact that the former residents knew how to help themselves in everyday life. So shortly before 1950, father Hans and uncle Karl covered the whole roof with shingles. We found when clearing out the house before the conversion of all kinds of tools and equipment for:

  • Cheese drill to take a cheese sample; wooden ladle.
  • Carpenters and carpenters carving tools
  • Chisels, all kinds of saws (e.g. clamping or frame saws), burr saws, large and small drills, various axes and planes, hammers and pliers
  • Wooden angle and scale (EIIstock), whetstone
  • Cooper: pulling chair, pulling knife, plane with slightly bent up sole
  • Roofer: black bucket with string, hammers
  • Nails, wedge.
  • Masons: trowels, spatulas, hammers
  • Wooden rubbing board
  • Forestry worker: Zappi, sweeper hook, crowbar, iron for debarking, axes, crop!, Guntel. Iron and wooden crossroads, big forest saws, foxtail, iron chains etc.
  • Butcher: brewing trough, butcher’s collar, large hardwood meat board, butcher knife, meat saw, meat hook, meat grinder, piercing machine (for closing the sausages).
  • Shoemaker: Special hammers, shoe last, iron fitting foot, shoe nails
  • Veterinarian: Trocar (french trocart). Metal instrument for stinging bloated cows (rumen).

Above: Vätterli (cheese mold)

Above: Cheese vat

Page 17 of pdf, 305 of original

Above: All kinds of hand-forged nails with square cross section found in the house.

Above: Hand carved spoon; wooden clothes pegs (“Gäbeli”); milking grease box made of cow horn and inserted wooden floor, which is attached to the milking chair strap with a cord.

Above: 2 artificial chairs and an artificial stick. When spinning, the flax is tied to the top of the stick and put it in the tube of the chair.

Above: Chipboard holder for resinous woods for the lighting.

The house was once used for spinning and weaving, because on stage we found corresponding objects such as breaking, weaving shuttle, spinning wheel, bobbins, three-legged artificial chair with artificial sticks, reel, peg. etc. From former own production are today 200-year-old pillow- and bedding suits still available. You carry partly embroidered monograms, e.g. “DM 1 0”. (David Müller 1 0 pieces). These suits were then in the Simmentalertruhe, which is being restored today in the living room. 1747 learned the daughter of Andreas Müller with her mother Johanna Horner the weaving craft (C VI: 419).

Other items kept in the farm building bear witness to the once arduous life of the mountain farmers:

Horn sledges were used to transport wood,

Branches, straw or hay, wooden bowls for discharge of liquid manure and other substances for the carriage of water, huts for carrying dung, rope cloths for scratching hay and lischnen (sedge grass), hay ropes with truffles to bind the Burdines from hay and Emd; these so-called “Fertli” were on his back from the meadow to the hayloft.

I wonder if this is what is being carried in the photo below.

Also, a wooden dustpan, dung forks, hay forks and wooden hay rakes with long stems are available. A flail points to former threshing (page 18 of pdf, 306 of original) treidebau. The wooden equipment and tools the respective owners and occupants of the house burned well their monograms in order to protect them from confusion. To protect the world.

V.l.t.r.: Water briquette,

Hut with “Brätschel”

Melchter and KalberkübeL

Beautifully woven huts with wooden carrying straps, “called “Brätschel”, were used for entering smaller quantities of hay or grass, but also for transport and food to our agricultural and food processing businesses plots of land or on the mountain; occasionally they even took a toddler with them. On the Räf was carried all sorts of loads, especially wood and cheese; they leaned on the long, decorated puzzles with an iron tip at the bottom. We can today, we can hardly imagine the long distances that are possible and height differences the people in former times had to cover every day and what heavy loads and on their backs in huts and on rafts that we have carried with us.

All sorts of small tools, the use of which today is hardly known anymore, came to light in the house: a ring pliers and open, different large copper and brass rings with pointed ends for pig wrestling. A ringed trunk (nose) hindered the animals to stir up the soil or to damage the edge of the (fence or) to gnaw away at a wooden feeding trough. Since 2008 the Animal Welfare Act prohibits the marking of pigs. (I love that translation, though it is utterly wrong – “pig wrestling”! Indeed what is meant here is a tool to mark pigs with metal rings. “ring” in German is “Ring”, “wrestling” is “Ringen”…)

With a pair of ball pliers you could use lead balls yourself for cast muzzle-loading rifles. Maybe this pliers for making balls with a caliber of 17 mm belonged to my great-great-grandfather David Müller, called “the hunter” who lived in the house. Such pliers were in use until the end of the 19th century.

Above: Ball tongs. Length 14 cm. Right:

Ring pliers with rings. Length 17 cm.

On the ground, directly in front of the whitewashed southern house wall, formed long, thick wooden boards a 1.30 m wide, slightly elevated floor, which can be used for all sorts of ???. Thanks to the large canopy, it rained it seldom on, so we here in summer grass from the “ribbons” (grass ribbons on both sides of the alleyways) and we could have dried it. In autumn we spread out on these boards the harvested onions and dug up (page 19 of pdf, 307 or original) DahIienknoiien to dry out. Also boxes with red Geraniums stood here in late autumn until the first frost. Papa “Baumgretzen” stratified directly at the wall. (lumber) Between the boards and the fence was a small garden. In spring winter follies, snow and March bells blossomed there, crocuses, April bells and daffodils, in summer all kinds of meadow flowers and low along the fence roses. Even medicinal plants like warts grew here and cheese herb. Also an apple tree and in the corner a stick of gooseberries were present. At an old red climbing rose climbed up the edge of the house.

Carved chair back from 1739. House on Kreuzgasse.

In the course of the rebuilding of the house – without us to ask – one day the whole good soil of this garden with all the bulbs, trees and boards was simply lifted up and taken away. As a replacement a boring, splintered one was created, in summer hot forecourt, as it is in the Simmental otherwise is barely visible.

On the small meadow of the upper Hostettli, in spring snowdrops, marchdrops, aprildrops and daffodils; in summer, forget-me-nots followed, mat nails, Küherkäppli, red clover, more meadow flowers and all kinds of grasses. Also, this earth has been taken away; now there is a splintered parking for two cars. This bare house environment hurts us; it must be changed urgently!

The triangular garden in front of the house, “Haltenboden” “called ” (plot with summation to be served on the Schwarzenmatt area), was founded by David Müller in two halves acquired the first 1839 and the second in 1853. The purchase of this plant blossom enabled the inhabitants to grow flax close to the at home and better self-sufficiency with vegetables, potatoes and berries. Remarkable is still that the second half salesgirl, Elisabeth Tänzer. on the Eschiegg, who needed the proceeds to “give birth to her daughter Elisabeth to pay the apprenticeship fee, which the weaving craft learned.” (production certificate 1839; axes of purchase and letter 1853)

Above: Snowdrops and winterlings in Mätteli in front of the house. 14.3.2009.

Above: Kitchen and living room wall with eternit protection and climbing rose. The stone embankment had to give way to the new water pipe. 27.5.2011

Page 20 of pdf, 308 of original

The vegetable garden was protected against the cold Bise by a board wall provided with deck loading, as it is protected by a here in the valley belongs to almost every old garden. The inner wall along grew a rhubarb stick, productive currants and raspberries, also a gooseberry bush. In flower gangs on the upper side fence and next to the garden paths winterlinge, schneeund March bells, tulips, April bells, daffodils, irises, larkspur, lupines, flake flowers, roses, buschelfriesli, big daisies, pansies, asters, flox and fire lilies. They are being converted to buried to a large extent by excavated material or else disappeared.

The “Maadli” also belonged to the operation of my parents, a mat (mat=food, does this mean garden) situated above the Dachebüel. David Müller had the one part 1849 from the Burgergemeinde for the price of 250 Kr and the other part 1864 of the Stocker brothers for 2070.50 Fr. in increases (PG: 133; axes of purchase 1864).

Note, this is where discussion of the other buildings in the village begins, according to Chris, but I am retaining this section because it paints such a vivid picture of the life and times of the people who lived here. Our ancestors saw and were in these buildings too. For all we know, these buildings were built and owned by additional ancestors. Heinsmann had to marry someone and the family surely lived nearby!

On an artificial small terrace on a slope in a very beautiful location the oldest stable barn of the municipality Saltigen stands there, dating from 1688. It is preserved by the monument preservation as worthy of preservation. It is built entirely as a block building, on the upper floor, however, as a loose block construction, so that the hay stick can pass through the “gime” (spaces) is ventilated. Access to the barn is from the valley side, that to the hayloft on the mountain side. The stable floor is in the back deepened in the slope and secured by quarry stone walls. The longitudinal stable contains one store each for grass and small cattle and a feeding walk. On the east side there is the cromes for the litter (foliage, niche, straw).

Above the stable floor, a beam shows the following Inscription (antiqua. notched, unfortunately only partially legible):

The small barn is still used today as a storage room. The building is in a bad condition and should urgently be redeveloped; but the preservation of historical monuments is on our request has not yet occurred. Below the mother moved the old barn on her big planzbiätz beans and autumn vegetables such as cabbage, cabbage and cabbage and palatine turnips.

In 1927, a new and larger plant was built on Maadli land. Barn built, still today called “Nöji Schüür”. They has the following inscription on the top bar: “BI. Fritz Bhend + Katha. v. Allmen. Built in 1927 Z.mstr. SI. Stryffeler.” To the building wood of the broken off old Eggscheune use. It was the Ueltschi brothers, cattle breeders, Boltigen, bought for 800 Fr. (Receipt). To it was agreement of the acid meeting necessary (PBS: 229).

Garden with traditional shop wall as protection against the iron and fence with wire mesh against the street. 30.5.2009.

Page 21 of pdf, 309 of original

The former vegetable garden, bordered at the top by a local “Scheielizaun”, was a flower meadow before the restoration.

18.5.2011.

Under which “Maadli” ran past, uphill of the old path and ending up far behind the new barn, a beautiful, about 300 m long, up to 1 m high dry stone wall. It was mostly covered with hazel herbaceous perennials, hedge roses and Maples stocked and offered small birds and lizards shelter. Directly below the new barn the wall contained a small niche; inside there was an old iron stove. The mother prepared and then we’ll have lunch each time our family in the “Maadli” on the mucky tedding, cherry picking, haying or Emden was.

The old Maadli barn from 1688 with two plum trees; the snow pushed the lower tree down in February 2012. 5.4.2011.

Page 22 of pdf, page 310 of original

Above: Back side with gate to the hayloft.

Above: wooden door hinge of the gate. 5.4.2011.

In 1977 the wall was completely demolished, because they corrected the old way, extended it, asphalted it. and as a rhinestone vision with three loops up to the willow. Our own small spring because of the large earthworks and excavations above the old barn. The old way could possibly a part of the medieval mule track.from Adlemsried to Tubetal and Schwarzenmatt.to Eschi.

The medieval mule track.

New Maadli barn from 1927. 5.4.20 11 .

Also the food south of the “Maadli” with barn, called “Lehn”, 1915 by Friedrich Bhendvon Allmen, and the “Grimattli” belonged until the inheritance from 1951 of the Bhend family, also in Ruere a third of the “war moss” (Lischenland with Heufimmel and forest), the “Untere Stierenweid” (lower bull pasture) (residential house with economy part, 16th or 17th century and 1735th inscription: IM ESM ZM ZM HST HR 1735, antiqua notched) with a freestanding barn, and the “Grabenmatte”; then a third of the Grabenheimwesen” (country and barn); further behind Ruere, below at the old Waldweidgasse, indoors to the “forest pasture”, the “Waldweidli” with a hay house, a bovine pasture, Wiesland and forest; in addition the third part of the Sennhütte on the “forest pasture” (four cow rights, pasture, with and complaints, with forest share). The whole property was taken over by the three Bhend families and jointly farmed.

The “Grimattli” or “Grünmattli”, underneath the “Maadlis”. came on the 3rd Hornung in 1837 in the possession of my ancestors. The barn standing on it was fire insured for 2′ 100 Fr. (Certificate of Inheritance 1951); unfortunately it was torn down in autumn 2011. In of a shopping hatchet reads: “Know and know be thither: That the respectable old court apostle Jacob Gobeli, from and to to Weißenbach, for himself and his heirs: to his beloved cousin, the honourable David Müller, David’s son, from and to Schwarzenmatt, and eat inherit the two property effects listed below

  1. A home being to said Weißenbach, called Schußeli, containing a residential house together with attached barn and stabling.
  2. A piece of land called the Grimmenmatte, in the Bäuert Reidenbach, with a coating standing on it.

The purchase price was 1,000 Kr Berner- or 2,500 f Swiss currency (axes of purchase 1837). Jakob Gobeli’s wife died on 18 Hornung 1837. Anna née Müller; she was the sister of David Müller. Jakob, at that time 91 years old and childless, donated then on 17 June 1837 to his “beloved godchild David Müller” 500 Kr or 1 ‘250 f to the remaining. Purchase remainder (donation 1837). On the vegetable blossom at the “Grimattli” my parents built potatoes every year until the distribution of the inheritance in 1951. The land was planted on this parcel every few years. Shifted.

Maadli. Drawing P. Mosimann.

My great-grandfather Peter von Allmen (1843-1918) and his wife Magdalena (born Boden, 1848-1924) possessed in Ruere many real estates; 1876 Peter was also (page 23 of PDF, page 311 of original) owner of the house on the Unteren Stierenweid and 1878 of the Grabenhaus (LB II: 38, 17). After Magdalenas death, the whole property was taken over the same year. The three heirs Peter (born 1910), son of Peter. (1871-1913), and the daughters Magdalena (born 1872) and Susanna Katharina (1877-1950). Since Susanna Katharina 1903 Friedrich Bhend (1873-1943) had married, came now about a third of the former large Ruere-owned property in his family.

On November 4, 1939, Friedrich Bhend, my grandfather sold to the private docent and medical doctor Max Müller, then director of the of the Psychiatric Clinic Münsingen, the beautiful, large, residential building in Ruere, built around 1700, which is today a protected monument. After the war began, rented also other rich lowlands in the Oberland houses or flats as possible escape accommodation-for their families. The purchase price for the building including 781 m2 of land was exceptionally low. The longer uninhabited house was located in a house with a in quite bad condition and had to be renovated. The unique house sale inspired Werner Juker in 1952 to his novella “The House in Ruhren” (or “Horen”). The house was built by the three current Müller heirs fortunately largely in the original, almost museum-like condition the kitchen furniture, for example, with the the Buuchchessi, the wood fireplace, the windows partly with the bull’s-eye slices, the shingle roof. In the house there are neither Electricity nor water (A: M. Müller, 17.8.2011). In the barn connected with the residential building the current owner Ernst Gobeli still livestock. Already 1734 is from “the sloppy house in the ditch” to read, because there had often been operated Winkelwirtschaft (C VI :32, 116, 173, 176, 180).

Above: The Grimtlischeuer shortly before the dismantling. Photo: Ueli Stryffeler.

Above: Remains of the barn, on the horizon the old Maadli barn. 24.3.2012.

Page 24 of pdf, 312 of original

When Susanna Katharina had died, in 1951 the still considerable possessions among the three Bhend brothers divided.

They received:

– Fritz: The whole “Untere Stierenweid” with farmhouse, the “Grabenmatte”, a third of the “Grabenheimwesens “, a third of the “war moss” and the “Waldweidli”.

– Hans: In Schwarzenmatt the lower, smaller house, called “Auf der Kreuzgasse”; the “Maadli” (as the compensation, because of the relatively new barn); from the “Lehn” the external (front) part, two cow rights on the “forest pasture” and one sixth of the Sennhütte.

– Karl: In Schwarzenmatt the upper, bigger house, bought 1924 (certificate of inheritance 1951). called “Uf the Mur”; the “Grimattli”, from the “Lehn” the inner (rear) part, two cow rights on the “Waldweid” (forest pasture) and one sixth of the hut there (Erbgangsangs- Das Grabenhaus in Ruere. 13.9.2011 . Below: 1 0.8.2011. document 1924). Karl’s son Martin sold the “Grimattli” the farmer Ueli from Schwarzenmatt Stryffeler, who will break off the barn in 2011.

I didn’t.

The Grabenhaus in Ruere. 13.9.2011 .

Above: 1 0.8.2011.

Buuchchessi (covered), fireplace, wooden door in the ditch house. The kitchen in the “Haus auf der Kreuzgasse” was quite similar until 1951. ” looked like. 16.10.2011.

Page 25 in pdf, 313 in original

The house on Unteren Stierenweid dates from the 16th/17th century and was extended in 1735. Recordings around 1970 and 2010. Photo: Preservation of monuments in the Canton of Berne.

A beam above the residential part of the Sennhütte on the “Waldweid” bears the following inscription: “BL PVA 1\ MB. ZM HK 1896”. BL means builders, PVA Peter von Allmen (1843-1918), MB Magdalena Floor (1848-1924), ZM Master carpenter HK(?). The house has on the ground floor stables for young cattle and goats, above a living room, a kitchen and a Milchgaden, behind it a cowshed and a hay stage under the roof.

The “forest pasture” is a Vorsass. The flat stones from the nearby streambed belong to the flysch of the Simmendecke; they were bricked up unprocessed.

After the distribution of the inheritance in 1951 Hans, my father, was compelled, as a supplement to his own business, from Karl Stocker, teacher in Boltigen at that time to rent the steep, arduous “Büelacher” and the even more stubborn “Farnerenrain “. Also, he farmed the northeastern of the Büelachers situated property with name “Schmidsweg, which belonged to Altred Wüest. We were a simple family of mountain farmers, and the parents during the Second World War, always easy to take care of her five girls every day. I had little spare time, because in all the families I had to the children, in keeping with their powers, the parents.help in the operation. Nevertheless or perhaps just because of that I lived in the old house on Kreuzgasse. Happy childhood.

Berti Mosimann-Bhend
Cooperation: Peter Mosimann

Above: The mountain hut on the Waldweid. 7.10.201 0.

Right: The walls consist of unhewn stones from the nearby stream bed.

13.9.20 11.

Page 26 of pdf, 314 or original

The house on Kreuzgasse. Dächenbühl in the background. February 1968.

The house on the Kreuzgasse. Behind the economic part is the upper house, called “Uf der Mur>>. 23.11.2008.

This ends the above translation of the wonderful chapter by Peter Mosimann and his wife, Berti Mosimann-Bhend.

Life in Schwarzenmatt

Some of these translations were a bit rough, but translating their life then for us to understand today is rough, regardless of the language. It truly is another world away, in both geography and the lives these mountain farmers and their families lived.

I found it interesting to note the discussion about the well. It seems this location was the only property to have its own water source, which tells you EXACTLY why this home was build where it was. I’d wager that this was the very first house or hut, at the time, to be built in Schwartzenmatt. Clean water equates to life. Contaminated water means illness and death. The first settler got their choice of where to build their camp and that prime real estate location was clearly adjacent the water source.

I was surprised that they received both electricity and phones as early as they did, considering the terrain. However, the poles for power lines which also carried phone lines would have snaked up the valley right alongside the stream.

The artifacts found and the carvings speak in whispers about the lives of Heinsmann Muller, and probably long before. The earliest people who lived in this half house/half barn hut environment would have guarded their livestock, goats and pigs, closely. Cheese and meat meant life. The growing season was short and the elevation high, which further reduced the time for crops to ripen.

When I lived in the Swiss Alps in 1970, just about 30 miles away and across a few mountains, in July and August, much snow remained on the ground in the ski resorts. In other locations, alpine meadows above the tree line were snow free and literally carpeted in Edelweiss and meadow flowers, exactly as described by Berti.

A wild Alpine garden stretching as far as the eye could see, without end.

By Matthias Zepper – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4101693

Perhaps now I understand my breathless enchantment with this landscape so foreign to my young American eyes, yet so hauntingly familiar. Indeed, I felt that I had returned home and have longed to return since the day I left.

By Giettois – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46004459

Not the Only Immigrants

I was surprised to read that three different children of David Miller, “the hunger,” immigrated to and died in America. How would they have even known about America in this remote location? Why would they leave?

It’s also ironic that my own Miller ancestor, great-grandson of Johann Michael Muller/Miller, the immigrant, was named David Miller and his son, John David. David has been a Miller name for generations and I can’t help but wonder if its genesis was in Schwarzenmatt.

David Miller, “the hunter” who lived in Schwarzenmatt has a son, David, who was reported by Berti to have died in Ohio.

As fate would have it, my own Miller ancestor, Daniel, whose brother was David, and who both had sons named David, also lived in Ohio.

I told you the name was popular. Carrying the same names also makes it difficult to sort through the various men.

Could I possibly find the David Muller who was born in 1840 om Schwarzenmatt and died in Ohio?

He probably had absolutely no idea that he was related to any Miller already living in the States. After all, by 1680, Johann Michael Muller had left Schwarzenmatt and his son immigrated in 1727, 160 years before David would be born in Schwarzenmatt.

By the David immigrated, 150 years more or less would have passed since Johann Michael Muller Jr. would have immigrated.

No, surely David had no idea at all.

The question is, could I find him?

David Muller (1840-1897) Who Died in Ohio

The family members who migrated to America obviously kept in touch, because the family who stayed in Schwarzenmatt had knowledge of the death year of David who moved to Ohio. He probably had no idea whatsoever that his Miller cousins, a few generations removed were also living in Ohio about 200 miles away and in nearby Indiana.

It’s clear that my Ohio clan had lost the oral history of where, in Germany they had originated, and Switzerland was lost entirely to history.

Finding David in Ohio was more difficult than I expected.

The only reasonable candidate that I located was found buried in the Old Lutheran Cemetery in Bethleham Twp. Stark Co., Ohio, having had served someplace in the Civil War.

David Miller died on January 30, 1897 and was married to Mena Strubel in 1878 according to a later census and the marriage record of one of his children.

According to the 1880 census, they had:

  • Barbara 4 (born 1876)
  • Mary C, 2 (born 1878)
  • David born in May of 1880

In 1900, I find Mena, born Oct 1854, with:

  • Unnamed child probably born 1880-1882
  • Carrie (female) (born in April 1884)
  • Charles (born August 1887)

Obviously I’m missing a child according to the 1900 census that shows Mena with 6 children living. That child was probably born after 1880 but before 1882 so they would be old enough to be gone from the household by 1900. David and Mena also had one child that died.

One very pleasant turn of events is that in 1880, David Miller actually says he was born in Switzerland. He is the only David Miller in the 1880 census anyplace that says he was born in Switzerland, so, I’m pretty confident we found the right David Miller.

Sadly, in 1897, David Miller of Navarre, Stark County, Ohio met his demise in a train accident according to this brief article in the Stark County, Democrat published on February 4, 1897.

Is This the Same Family?

I suspect so, but there is no absolutely proof. We are missing a definitive link between Heinsmann and Berti’s family line that begins in the documentation with Andreas who was born in 1710 or earlier, given that he had a child in 1731. We know that Heinsmann had a son, Johann Michael Muller, in 1655 who could have been his first or last child, or in-between.

Heinsmann could have been Andreas’ father, uncle, grandfather, related more distantly or not related at all. I must say, in a tiny village with only a few farms, that’s probably unlikely, but given the common name of Muller it could certainly happen. I learned long ago to never assume anything.

We’re also missing a definitive link between the David that died in Ohio in 1897 and the Schwarzenmatt line, although that connection seems firmer.

To prove definitively that Berti Mosimann-Bhend’s Muller line is one and the same with the Johann Michael Muller line, a Y DNA test needs to be taken by one of the male children of David Miller who died in Stark County, Ohio in 1897 and a male Muller who is known to descend from the Schwarzenmatt line. The Y DNA, passed from father to son ad infinitum would match, or closely enough to establish the ancestral relationship between:

  • Johann Michael Muller who immigrated to the US in 1727
  • Muller family from Schwarzenmatt
  • David Muller who died in 1897 in Ohio

Maybe someday one of the Schwarzenmatt descendants or David Miller’s descendants will find this article and reach out. I am offering a DNA testing scholarship for a male Miller descendant of both lines. If this is you, just leave a message in the comments.

I sure hope the genealogy bug bites someone in the Miller family!

Last in the Series

This is the last in the long series of Muller/Miller articles. I hear you laughing now, because I know I’ve said that before – but I really think this one is it. We’re now back beyond the reach of records and before even Chris can excavate anything more.

Perhaps one day the next generation will add to this story when, if we’re lucky, new records are found, transcribed, indexed and translated.

It’s been a long journey from Schwarzenmatt in the 1600s to Indiana in the 1900s when Eva Miller married Hiram Ferverda and had my grandfather. The Muller lineage may reach back even further in time, to Benedikt Muller who lived in our quaint alpine village in 1502, more than 500 years and 15 generations ago.

Clearly, the red generations between Heinsmann and Benedikt are speculative, and I don’t want to portray them otherwise. Miller is such a common name.

Berti is probably a 9th cousin once removed, give or take a generation. That’s an amazingly long time – roughly 23 generations counting both lineages.

I would love for Berti to take an autosomal DNA test. There’s a small chance that she would match my mother, especially considering that it’s very likely that Heinsmann Muller’s wife, the mother of Johann Michael Muller was a young lady from the same village, or at least the neighboring farms. There were only a limited number of families living in that area in the early 1600s and every family intermarried into the mix.

Fingers crossed that somehow, someplace, DNA tests or new records surface to prove me wrong once again about this being the “last article!”

In the mean time, a deeply heartfelt thank you to the many people, in particular Chris, Tom and now, Peter and Berti, who have helped compile and reconstruct the stories of the Muller men of Germany and Switzerland, their wives and many descendants who have scattered like alpine meadow seeds on the winds of time throughout the world.

Elias Kirsch (1733-1804) and the Fall of the Holy Roman Empire – 52 Ancestors #227

Elias Kirsch and his family lived in Fussgoenheim – that much we know for sure. Unfortunately, the Fussgoenheim records are in sorry shape.

Fussgoenheim records include the following:

  • Baptisms: 1726-1798 and 1816-1839
  • Marriages: 1727-1768 and 1816-1839
  • Deaths: 1733-1775 and 1816-1839

Those books are not complete, with pages missing and significant water damage. In the words of Tom, my trusty cousin and retired German genealogist, “these are some of the worst German records content-wise I’ve ever perused,” followed by, “your gang is never easy.”

Isn’t that the truth!

Given the situation, we’ll just have to piece Elias’s life together as best we can from what records do exist.

Keep in mind that my collaborators, Chris and Tom, did not transcribe every single church record. They have looked at most of the Kirsch records, and Thomas graciously completed a spreadsheet of what he found.

However, if the records are ever entirely transcribed, we may find significant missing information in the baptisms and other notes in records not found under the Kirsch surname. Godparent notes sometimes describe the relationships between various people, including the godparents and the child being baptized, or the godparents and the child’s parents, or even the godparents’ relationship to each other – any of which might serve as either outright confirmation or breadcrumbs.

So, hopefully, over time, we will discover more than we know today. We’ve been able to piece quite an interesting story together from the breadcrumbs we do have.

Elias Kirsch was Born in 1733

Elias Kirsch baptism 1733

Elias Kirsch May 6 1733 baptism Taufen 1726-1798

“6ten May Ist Joh. Michael Kirsch und seiner Haußfrau Anna Margaretha Ein Söhnlein getauft worden noie [abbreviation for Latin “nomine”] Elias Nicolaus … gett [? cannot read this, but it must mean: witnesses] waren Elias Nicolaus Schnell und seine Haußfrau von Dürckheim”

Translation:

“On 6 May was baptized a son of Johann Michael Kirsch and his wife Anna Margaretha by the name of Elias Nicolaus. Witnesses have been Elias Nicolaus Schnell and his wife from Dürckheim.”

From this record, we know that Elias Nicholas was named after Elias Nicholaus Schnell who lived in Durckheim, now Bad Durkheim.

It’s likely, but not a given, that Elias Nicolaus Schnell or his wife are related to either Johann Michael Kirsch or his wife, Anna Margaretha, whose last name we don’t know. Otherwise, there’s no reason for them to know each other or travel from Durkheim to Fussgoenheim for a baptism. I was not able to find any records for Elias Nicholaus Schnell, unfortunately.

Bad Durkheim to Mutterstadt map

On the map above, we see that Bad Durkheim is about 11 km or 6.7 miles from Fussgoenheim. Other locations relevant to this family are Ellerstadt and Mutterstadt where the Kirsch and Koehler families would both live when they migrated to America in the mid-1800s. Mutterstadt is about 5 miles via road from Fussgoenheim. In essence, this is all one big community.

Rhine valley map

All of these villages are located in the Rhine Valley plain, but Bad Durkheim borders the beginning of the low-mountain region known as the Palatinate Forest, shown in green at left on the map above and in the photo below.

Palatinate Forest

By Dr. Manfred Holz (Diskussion) – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28600004

Elias Marries

We don’t know exactly when Elias married, but it was sometime before his first child was born in 1763. The available marriage records list dates from 1727-1768, but clearly Elias’s marriage record is missing. What we do know, though, through the subsequent baptism records of his children, is that Elias married Susanna Elisabetha Koob.

Children of Elias Kirsch

Tom found the baptism records for four children of Elias Kirsch and Susanna Elisabeth Koob born in 1763, 1766, 1772 and 1774.

The records go strangely mute after that.

Are there any other clues?

Multiple Men Named Andreas

Andreas seems to be a popular name in the Kirsch family.

Chris says:

For your information: There are burial entries for an Andreas Kirsch in 1762 (“Andreas Kirsch, the Elder”) and 1774 as well. So there have been several Andreas Kirschs in Fußgönheim at the same time.

This is potentially relevant because Elias named a son Andreas Kirsch in 1774.

There is a gap in the burial entries from January 1743 to 1762. (The burial in January 1743 for Johann Michael Kirsch the elder is the last one for a long time!). There is another gap from 1776 up to 1816. I found no burial entry for Elias Kirsch or his wife in the years from 1762-1775.

In summary, I am afraid there is not much more I can search for.

So, the entire family disappeared from the records? However, given the evidence that I’m alive and descended from Andreas, they clearly didn’t disappear in fact. It’s just that I can’t find them.

Did Elias Die in 1804?

I frustrate myself incredibly when it comes to the Kirsch family, in part because I began this research 40+ years ago which I simply wrote down what people told me and gave no though to recording sources, or asking them how they knew a given piece of information. It seemed rude to ask, like I was questioning their truthfulness when they were trying to do me a favor. Besides, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t remember.

I was very young and very naïve. I know, right?!!

And I’m paying the price now. At least I was bright enough to WRITE THINGS DOWN!

In my genealogy software, I showed a death date for Elias Kirsch of May 2, 1804. A date that specific is too detailed not to have been found someplace. It’s not an approximation based on a child’s birth or marriage record, for example. But where did I come up with that date, and how?

I began searching relentlessly. Finally, I found a note from a German cousin decades ago where Elias’  death date was shown and the location was noted as Fussgoenheim, the village where Elias and my cousin both lived. This led me, of course, to presume (cousin word to assume) that the cousin had access to local records.

I had no idea at that point in time that the local Fussgoenheim records had been destroyed or were otherwise absent. Besides, absent at the local Family History Center might only have meant that the records weren’t (yet) filmed, not that they didn’t exist. I had already copied the Fussgoenheim church record images. I later copied the Fussgoenheim Civil Records as well, trying to fill in blanks, but all for naught.

Where did this death date come from? Not the church records and not the Civil Records. Not a family Bible because there wasn’t one. Believe me, I asked about a Bible AND I would have remembered that for sure.

Found It!

I had searched (again) some time ago when I started this article, but I searched one more time – this time with different search criteria. That old adage, “cast the net wider,” might work. I searched for any Kirsch who died in 1804 in Germany, with no first name or location.

What popped up was a shock.

Kirsch French church

A death record alright, but a FRENCH death record.

Kirsch French Elias death

That’s not possible. Elias was very clearly German. Besides, he lived and died in Fussgoenheim, not Ludwigshafen, right?

Kirsch French Elias

These Ludwigshafen records show a death date of February 4, 1804 in Ruchheim for Elias Kirsch, but is this the same Elias Kirsch? The cousin’s original note said May 2nd, 1804 in Fussgoenheim.

Ruchheim is approximately 2.2 miles from Fussgoenheim, so it’s certainly possible.  As we know, there were several Kirsch men in this area, so I was very cautious.

Tom originally translated the death record thus:

Elias KIRSCH

Date of the Act: 16 Pluviose in 12th year of the French Republic or 6 February 1804.

Death Act No. 36

The 16th day of the month of Pluviose in the year 12 of the Republic, the Death Act of Elias KIRSCH…..the 15th Pluviose in the morning between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. at the age of 71 years son of the late Michael KIRSCH and Margaretha his rightful? wife from the declaration made by Andreas KIRSCH, ? and farmer here……and Kristoph Braun…farmer …..

Klingenburger, mayor and civil registrar. Mayor’s signature as well as signatures of Christoph Braun and Andreas Kirsch.

We asked Chris, a native German speaker to help fill in some of the blanks, and he very kindly did so, in the midst a whirlwind time in his life. (Thanks so much Chris!)

Death Act No. 36

The 16th day of the month of Pluviose in the year 12 of the Republic, the Death Act of Elias KIRSCH died [verschieden] the 15th Pluviose in the morning between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. at the age of 71 years, son of the late Michael KIRSCH and Margaretha his rightful [yes! recht=mäßige] wife from the declaration made by Andreas KIRSCH, citizen [Br. = short for: Bürger] and farmer here, who declared that he had been a son of the deceased [als welcher gesagt hat er seie ein Sohn des Verstorbenen] and Kristoph Braun, citizen and farmer here, who declared that he had been a neighbour of the deceased and who signed this document. [Br. und Ackersmann allda [?] als welcher gesagt hat er seie ein Nachbar des Verstorbenen, und haben unterschrieben.]

Klingenburger, mayor and civil registrar. Mayor’s signature as well as signatures of Christoph Braun and Andreas Kirsch.

The parents’ names match Elias’s church birth record and the birth year too. Not only that, but Andreas is confirmed in this death record as the son of Elias. Everything aligns – same family. The discrepancy in the death month and year, in part, might be explained by a difference in date conventions in the US and in Europe.  In the US, the abbreviation 2-4-1804 would be February 4, 1804 and in Germany, it would be April 2, 1804.

This sure make me wonder how many of my ancestors’ dates are incorrectly interpreted by me.

Kirsch French Andreas signature

The death record is signed by Andreas Kirsch, and Andreas was Elias’s youngest child and one of three sons.

It looks like we found Elias’s death record alright, but how did Elias suddenly become French?

French Occupation!

The answer lies in the French occupation of the German left bank, the area between the Rhine River and France.

In the 1700s, Germany was still ruled by the Holy Roman Empire and was divided into sections ruled by Princes and royal families. The map below shows the Holy Roman Empire in 1789.

Holy Roman Empire 1789

Wikimedia commons map by Robert Alfers

You can see the Pfalz region in the closeup, below.

Holy Roman Empire Pfalz

The Rhine had for centuries been the road into the heartland of Germanic Europe facilitating transportation and trade. Of course, along that road marched and floated armies and invaders as well.

Wars in this part of Europe had been occurring regularly for hundreds of years by this time, and probably as long as humanity occupied this part of the earth.

The German people were weary. They had been displaced over and over again since before the 30 Years War which laid waste to and depopulated this part of Germany.

By the late 1700s, the German princes feared a Revolution, while the intellectuals hoped that the French would defeat royal absolutism. The common people, my families, were caught in the middle and could only deal with the outcome – whatever that happened to be.

When the French Revolution began in 1789, it was just one more in a succession of conflicts that dragged on until France officially occupied the German lands west of the Rhine.

In 1792, a conflict broke out, initially over the rights of German Princes with holdings in France, but it quickly expanded. The hostilities revealed that the civic ideals and French military were more than a match for the Germanic princes, vestiges of the Holy Roman Empire with no coordination among their fiefdoms, concerned about their own turf and not any consolidated whole.

The German lands saw armies marching back and forth, bringing devastation (albeit on a far lower scale than the Thirty Years’ War, almost two centuries before), but also ushering in new ideas of liberty and civil rights for the people.

According to Wikipedia:

Europe was racked by two decades of war revolving around France’s efforts to spread its revolutionary ideals, as well as to annex Belgium and the Rhine’s Left Bank to France and establish puppet regimes in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. The French revolutionaries’ open and strident republicanism led to the conclusion of a defensive alliance between Austria and Prussia on February 7, 1792. The alliance also declared that any violation of the borders of the Empire by France would be a cause for war.

Prussia and Austria ended their failed wars with France but (with Russia) partitioned Poland among themselves in 1793 and 1795. The French took control of the Rhineland, imposed French-style reforms, abolished feudalism, established constitutions, promoted freedom of religion, emancipated Jews, opened the bureaucracy to ordinary citizens of talent, and forced the nobility to share power with the rising middle class.

Feudalism was a social system wherein the nobility held land from the crown in exchange for military service. Vassals were in turn tenants of the nobles and peasants, villeins or serfs were obligated to live on their lord’s land and give him homage, labor and a share of the produce in exchange for military protection.

In other words, no one other than the crown or nobility actually owned land. Freedom was restricted and military duty was mandatory. It wasn’t quite slavery, but it certainly restricted freedoms in many ways. In essence, it was economic slavery with no way to free oneself. Even emigration required permission.

The French-imposed reforms beginning in 1793 proved largely permanent and modernized the western parts of Germany. However, despite these welcome reforms, when the French tried to impose the French language, German opposition grew in intensity. The French had crossed an emotional line in the sand.

A Second Coalition of Britain, Russia, and Austria then attacked France but failed. Napoleon established direct or indirect control over most of western Europe, including the German states.

Clearly, based upon these civil records, the mandate of the French language was implemented and upheld, at least officially. Knowing the tenacious nature of the German people, I’m sure not one word of French was spoken when they had any choice.

The Encyclopedia Britannica adds:

After 1793 French revolutionary troops occupied the German lands on the left bank of the Rhine known as the Palatine Region, and for the next 20 years their inhabitants were governed from Paris. Yet there is no evidence that the Germans were dissatisfied with French rule or at least no evidence that they strongly opposed it. Devoid of a sense of national identity and accustomed to submission to authority, they accepted their new status with the same equanimity with which they had regarded a succession to the throne or a change in the dynasty.

Wikipedia tell us that:

Following the Peace of Basel in 1795 with Prussia, the west bank of the Rhine was ceded to France.

Napoleon I of France relaunched the war against the Empire. In 1803 he abolished almost all the ecclesiastical and the smaller secular states and most of the imperial free cities. New medium-sized states were established in south-western Germany.

The Holy Roman Empire was formally dissolved on 6 August 1806 when the last Holy Roman Emperor Francis II (from 1804, Emperor Francis I of Austria) resigned.

In 1806, the Confederation of the Rhine was established under Napoleon’s protection.

Confederation of the Rhine 1806

By ziegelbrenner – own drawing/Source of Information: Putzger – Historischer Weltatlas, 89. Auflage, 1965; Westermanns Großer Atlas zur Weltgeschichte, 1969; Haacks geographischer Atlas. VEB Hermann Haack Geographisch-Kartographische Anstalt, Gotha/Leipzig, 1. Auflage, 1979., CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9024294

The Confederation of the Rhine, a confederation of client states of the First French Empire, existed from 1806 to 1813.

With the defeat of Napoleon’s France in 1814, Bavaria was compensated for some of its losses, and received new territories such as the Grand Duchy of Würzburg, the Archbishopric of Mainz (Aschaffenburg) and parts of the Grand Duchy of Hesse. Finally in 1816, the Rhenish Palatinate was taken from France in exchange for most of Salzburg which was then ceded to Austria in the Treaty of Munich (1816).

It’s no coincidence that we see the church records recording births, deaths, and marriages resume, in German, in Fussgoenheim in 1816.

The French rule was over. The official language returned to German, although I’m willing to bet that while the upper-class society spoke French, the peasants and farmers in the villages never did.

They simply waited.

Some, of course, like Elias, died waiting – but his grandson Philip Jacob Kirsch, born in 1806, two years after Elias’ death, tired of constant turmoil in the Palatinate, would take his German-speaking family to Indiana in 1848 where they still spoke primarily or at least occasional German for another 100+ years.

Some of that strong German bloodline is discernible in his descendants today.

Kirsch Autosomal DNA

Because the Kirsch family didn’t immigrate until the mid-1800s, we don’t have as many descendants in the US today to DNA test as lines that have been in the states since colonial times.

Thankfully, another Kirsch descendant and his family are also interested in the Kirsch genealogy and agreed to DNA test.

It’s particularly interesting, because while Mr. Kirsch’s daughter and I don’t have an autosomal DNA match, he and my mother have a significant match, on six substantial segments, shown in red below. In fact, other than immediate family, my Mom is his closest match.

Kirsch Autosomal DNA

On the chromosomes above, Mr. Kirsch is the background person with mother being the red segments matching Mr. Kirsch. For purposes of comparison, I’m the light blue that matches with Mr. Kirsch and my mother on chromosomes 8 and 11. Notice the huge red piece of DNA that I didn’t receive from Mom on chromosomes 3 and 14, the first half of chromosome 11 and the smaller segment on chromosome 4. In these locations, I received my mother’s father’s DNA, because I certainly didn’t receive her DNA from her mother’s Kirsch lineage.

The largest segment that Mr Kirsch and mother share is 42.67 cM and the smallest segment larger than 5 cM is 10.27 cM. Four other people also match both Mr. Kirsch and mother, above, as well. Two matches don’t have trees, one lives in Germany and one in the Netherlands.

Of course, Mom and Mr. Kirsch share both the Kirsch and Drechsel DNA, given that Elias’s great-grandson, Jacob Kirsch, married Barbara Drechsel in Aurora, Indiana. We could be seeing a combination of segments descended from both Barbara and Jacob.

I inherited very little of this specific Kirsch/Drechsel DNA, and my children inherited even less. Obviously, Mr. Kirsch’s daughter didn’t inherit the segments from her father that I share with him, given that she and I don’t match. It’s amazing just how quickly descendants can go from 163 cM of shared DNA in one generation between two people on 6 segments greater than 10 cM, to no match between their children. Genetic roll of the dice.

I do wonder if any of these segments descended from Elias or if they were introduced by a wife’s line in the 4 generations (inclusive) between Elias Kirsch/Susanna Elisabetha Koob and Jacob Kirsch/Barbara Drechsel where the line splits into sibling lines in the late 1800s.

Kirsch Autosomal DNA pedigree

Of course, every segment has its own unique history, so these segments could descend from multiple ancestors in the pedigree chart, above – Kirsch, Koob, Koehler, Lemmert and/or Drechsel.

We won’t know unless some Kirsch and Drechsel descendants who descend from ancestors upstream of Jacob and Barbara test and match some of these segments. One thing is for sure, one way or another, this DNA originated with our ancestors someplace in modern day Germany, a place then known as the Holy Roman Empire.

Hendrik Ferverda (1857-1898) and the Secret That Killed Him, 52 Ancestors #225

Sometimes, when you’re researching your family, you discover something that just doesn’t seem right.

Just doesn’t make sense.

Over time, things begin to feel odd.

Pieces that don’t fit.

heart missing piece

Or pieces that are missing…that shouldn’t be missing

That’s what happened with Hendrik Ferwerda, born to Bauke Hendrick Ferwerda and Geertje Harmens de Jong on October 5, 1857 in Eernewoude,Tietjerksteradeel, Friesland, Netherlands. Continue reading

Edith Barbara Lore Ferverda and the Indiana Constitutional Election of 1921 – 52 Ancestors #223

Edith Barbara Lore Ferverda with son Harold Lore Ferverda about 1920 or 1921 with the crossroads “downtown” of Silver Lake, Indiana that consisted of a building on each of the 4 corners in the background.

My grandmother, Edith Barbara Lore was born on August 2, 1888 and died on January 4, 1960. Today, I’m celebrating what I feel is a landmark aspect of her life on this, the 59th anniversary of her passing over.

John and Edith Lore Ferverda, 1959

Life in Northern Indiana in 1920

The Presidential election of November 1920 marked the first time that women were provided with the right to vote (nationally) in the US. My grandmother, Edith, would celebrate her 12th wedding anniversary to John Ferverda on November 17th that year. She would have been 32 years old at the time, with a son who would turn 5 on November 24th.

Her husband, John Ferverda, owned the local hardware store in Silver Lake, Indiana, F&F, short for Ferverda and Frye. Edith and John were members of the local Methodist Church. John’s parents who lived a few miles up the road were Brethren, although apparently much less conservative than most Brethren of the time, judging by the fact that three of their sons served in WWI. Edith’s father had passed away, but her mother by 1920 had remarried and had moved to Chicago with her husband.

All in all, Edith seemed to blend in to the conservative heartland of Indiana “near-the-farm” life. While John and Edith did not own a farm, aside from chickens, they lived in a crossroads town that consisted of only 452 people in 165 households according to the 1920 census (yes, I counted), which meant that they were surrounded on all sides by farms and farm culture – which clearly flavored the atmosphere of tiny Silver Lake.

It was then and remains now a small, sleepy community where the local drive-in root-beer stand, the lake and the neighbors provided the only entertainment, outside of church of course.

At that time the B&K rootbeer stand, the drive-in on State Road 15 on the north side of town across from the Marathon Gas Station still remains. The cemetery, where virtually everyone in Silver Lake, including Edith, is buried is a block or so behind the gas station, towards the lake. I remember stopping at the rootbeer stand after visiting my grandparents’ graves. You also passed the cemetery and said a “drive-by” hello to any relatives reposing there on the way to swim at Silver Lake.

At that time, the cottages around the lake were separated from the town itself by the cemetery and a few farms which have been developed at least somewhat now. After all, the population of Silver Lake has doubled and the people have to live someplace.

It was into this community that Edith had moved from Rushville, Indiana after marrying John Ferverda. Rushville was significantly larger, with trips often to both Indianapolis and Cincinnati, vibrant centers of commerce and culture compared to Silver Lake.

Edith’s mother, Nora Kirsch Lore, started and owned a tailoring business after Edith’s father passed away, and Edith’s grandmother, Barbara Drechsel Kirsch, in 1920, hadn’t yet retired as the proprietor of the Kirsch House in Aurora, Indiana.

I’ve often wondered how Edith actually felt about settling in a small, extremely conservative town in the midst of a Brethren/Mennonite community.

Anabaptist Conservative Culture

Mennonite and Brethren wives didn’t work outside the home. They were identified with their husbands. When their names were mentioned, it was almost always as “Mrs. John Doe,” not as Jane Doe. They joined women’s church clubs of like-minded women and birthed lots of children to help with farm chores. These women worked hard on the farms, plus cooked, cleaned and took care of the ill.

I don’t know whether they liked or were happy with their lives or not. It’s doubtful that they gave that much consideration because it’s not like there were any other options, and their conservative church/family life is what they had been raised to revere. The words “obey’ were still in all wedding vows and were taken literally by both genders.

But not Edith. She had been raised in a culture of strong women, brazenly independent for their time, and had married into the Brethren culture.

I don’t know if Edith’s husband was “dismissed” from the Brethren Church for marrying an outsider, but regardless, he and Edith joined the Methodist Church in Silver Lake where they were life members.

The Methodists were somewhat less restrictive than the Brethren, but the conservative culture ran strong throughout the region.

Few women “worked,” at least outside the home, and for the most part, it was the perception and possibly the reality that the only women who worked were those who “had to,” implying that somehow their husbands weren’t manly enough or successful enough to support their families. If your wife worked, it was a slap in your face and implied some very “un-nice” things about you as a man.

In addition to their jobs, working women still had the same responsibilities at home, just much less time in which to accomplish everything. They generally didn’t garner the compassion of other women, who somehow felt that they “deserved” their fate and looked down upon them for working.

Edith worked anyway, as a bookkeeper, beginning in 1925, if not before. She literally worked from then, through the depression when there was no other family income, until just a few days before her death in 1960. Edith did what she needed to do for her family and God help anyone who got in her way.

Women’s Suffrage

This is the backdrop against which I’ve wondered how Edith felt about Women’s Suffrage. Women obtained the right to vote in August of 1920.

Did Edith vote in the 1920 Presidential election in which Republican Warren Harding won? If so, did she vote Republican or Democratic? Given how strongly Republican Kosciusko County was at that time, along with her husband’s strong political leaning, I’m guessing that I know which way she voted, assuming she voted.

I’ve speculated that indeed, she probably did vote because she was always a woman with an opinion and not afraid to speak her mind, in SPITE of where she lived and regardless of who approved, or not.

I’m not sure I’ve ever really appreciated Edith’s bravery under the circumstances. Social ostracization is a powerful deterrent, especially in a small town where it’s easy to become a minority of 1. Reading the local Indiana newspapers over the past several days as I’ve been sidelined by the winter crud has made me appreciate the life she led and the woman she chose to be.

The Election

It was in the Warsaw Union Newspaper, serving the 12,000 residents of Kosciusko County that I found clear evidence of Edith’s involvement in the election process – and the fact that she was indeed working at least episodically before 1925.

As it turns out, Edith was appointed to serve as clerk for Lake Township’s second precinct for the Special Election to be held on September 6, 1921.

Warsaw Union Newspaper, August 3, 1921, found on MyHeritage

Not only was Edith selected to serve on the Special Election board as Clerk, but Edith was NOT addressed as Mrs. John Ferverda, using her own first name. In later editions of the paper referring to the election and beyond, she was (generally) listed as Edith L. Ferverda.

When she married, Edith replaced her middle name of Barbara with her maiden name of Lore. For 1908, that was a radical way to preserve your birth surname and make a subtle statement. I think she would be proud of her granddaughter who retains her birth surname as well.

One of the ballot issues, as you might have guessed, had to do with women’s rights to vote.

On JStor, the Journal Article “Amendments to State Constitutions 1919-21”, pages 251 and 252, provides the following information about the special Indiana Constitutional Election:

And lastly, this…

Indiana ratified the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, giving women the right to vote on January 16, 1920, following the proposal for the 19th Amendment proposed in Congress on June 4, 1919. The amendment didn’t become federal law until August 18, 1920 with Tennessee being the deciding state to ratify the constitutional amendment.

So, how did the 1921 Indiana Special Election go?

Early returns on September 6th weren’t very positive.

At 2:30 on election day, it seemed that few voted. Women seemed indifferent, but perhaps those who didn’t want to vote, wouldn’t regardless of the Constitution, and those who did care had already gained that right.

Certainly, in Kosciusko County, there were very few non-naturalized females, if any. The topic probably wasn’t terribly relevant. The legislation was apparently in response to the recent war – or perhaps it was an attempt to limit the number of women voters. It would be interesting to understand why a separate amendment would be required if the law regarding citizenship was already in place for men. In 1851, in Indiana, section 2 of the Indiana Constitution read:

Section 2. In all elections, not otherwise provided for by this Constitution, every white male citizen of the United States, of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, who shall have resided in the State during the six months immediately preceding such election; and every white male, of foreign birth, of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, who shall have resided in the United States one year, and shall have resided in the State during the six months immediately preceding such election, and shall have declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States, conformably to the laws of the United States on the subject of naturalization; shall be entitled to vote, in the township or precinct where he may reside.

Regardless of disparity, if any in 1921, between males and females, the amendment was passed, but county-wide interest seemed light, according to the Sept. 7th paper.

Only about 2.5% of the county population voted. The “tax amendment” was the least popular of any.

Today, here’s how Article 2, regarding Suffrage and voting qualifications reads in the Constitution of the State of Indiana.

On a national level, today, noncitizens cannot vote in federal elections, but states control who can vote in state and local elections. Back in the 1700s and 1800s, vast tracts of land were available for homesteading and voting rights had been extended to immigrants who had filed their intention to become citizens in order to attract people by letting them know they could have a hand in deciding their own future. Territories needed to attract people to settle those lands in order to have sufficient population to become states, and states needed to have their land settled and cultivated as well, producing taxable revenue.

Edith, Leadership by Example

We will never know how Edith voted in the privacy of the voting booth, but her involvement in 1921, so soon after women obtained the right to vote tells me one thing positively. Edith was no wall-flower.

I imagine Edith walking up to the voting booth on that first election day in November of 1920, perhaps amid disproving stares, maybe with her child in tow, among all men, and voting anyway. A small but tiny act of protest. Then deciding that SHE would be the woman there to welcome future women and sealing the legitimacy of women in the polling place. Edith perhaps knew that the best was to effect permanent and positive change was through encouragement – that old honey versus vinegar adage.

Edith’s immediate involvement in the electoral process almost assures us that she DID vote, and DID care, and DID what she could in the time and place she lived to make a difference. Her name was in the newspaper, so EVERYBODY knew. She was the face of women in the polling place, the silent, or maybe not-so-silent, example for others. Encouraging participation. Encouraging involvement. Encouraging women to step out and step up to the polling booth – and to vote. They knew at least one woman, Edith Lore Ferverda, would be there to greet them with a warm reassuring smile and show them what to do – how to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

Women setting examples and encouraging other women was critically important, with the small steps of thousands paving the way 98 years later for the swearing in this week of the 116th class of Congress, the most diverse we’ve ever seen as a country.

I like to think that in some small way, in the tiny community of Silver Lake, where Edith was front and center in Indiana’s 1921 Special Constitutional Election, willing to be present in the polling location, and the voting booth, seen and heard, that she in some way helped with the forward, positive momentum that set the stage for the day when women didn’t just serve as clerks, but in elected positions. Currently, 23.7% of the members of Congress are women, with 25% in the Senate and 23.4% of the House of Representatives.

Nearly a century is a long time, but I think Edith would be proud to watch the swearing in ceremony that just occurred. What a wonderful way to celebrate her passing-over anniversary. I’m incredibly proud to be her granddaughter and thankful for those old newspapers that revealed a previously unknown chapter in my grandmother’s life.

The journey of 1000 miles (or a hundred years) begins with a single step.

Edith, your small steps and public example were not in vain. Thank you!

Hiram Bauke Ferverda (1854-1925), Part 1: The Baker’s Apprentice – 52 Ancestors #222

Henry & Hiram Ferverda

Hiram (Harmen Bauke) Ferverda (Ferwerda) at left, Henry (Hendrik) Ferverda at right, assuming the Ferverda booklet is labeled correctly.

Hiram Bauke Ferverda was my mother’s grandfather. Since today would be my mother’s 96th birthday if she were still with us, I’ll let her introduce you – just like she introduced me.

Mother and I were visiting on the blustery spring morning of March 3, 2002, while drinking coffee or tea at her kitchen table, plotting our genealogy adventures for the upcoming months. Those were the days, and I miss them!

Mom said, “Grandfather Ferverda came over with his brother from Holland. They had a disagreement and the brother went up by Nappanee near or among the Amish. Mawmaw and Pawpaw [Hiram and Eva Miller Ferverda] weren’t Amish, but she did wear the hat on her head. She wasn’t among the real strict sect.”

That’s the first I had heard of any of this.

Mom was right. According to immigration records, Hiram, along with his parents and brother, Hendrick, known as Henry, immigrated from the Netherlands.

But Amish? Mennonite? Hat on her head? What was that all about?

And so began the Ferverda quest.

Meet Yvette Hoitink

Before I go any further with this story, I have to take a minute and introduce Yvette Hoitink, a Dutch professional genealogist. The Dutch records for this family are available because of her diligent research. I love her reports as well. Oh, how I love those reports!! They are concise and chocked full of information, complete with images of the document, a translation and source information. Even if I could find the records myself, I can’t read them.

If it’s a Dutch ancestor in my family, I absolutely guarantee you that Yvette is involved as a research partner. And no, this is not a paid announcement, it’s my unending gratitude for an amazing friend (that I met thanks to a blog article) and a job well done.

Let’s dive right in!

Neither Hiram nor Ferverda

Ferverda family records in Indiana provided Hiram’s birth date, which was verified by Yvette. But that’s it, all we had about Holland. No location, nothing else. We didn’t even know Hiram’s mother’s name, or, as it turns out, his real name.

Hiram was born, according to Dutch records, on September 21, 1854 in Hiaure, Westdongeradeel, The Netherlands, to Bauke Hendrick(s) Ferverda (known as Henry in the US) and Geertje Harmens de Jong.

The original birth record is shown below, and the first thing that pops out at me is that the surname is spelled Ferwerda in Holland. In the US, Hiram’s line spelled their surname Ferverda and his brother, Henry’s line spelled it Fervida. No one on this side of the pond spelled it Ferwerda! In fact, I initially thought those records were misinterpreted (meaning the handwriting), but they aren’t. The surname probably changed to the phonetic pronunciation here in the US.

Birth record of Harmen Ferwerda, born Westdongeradeel September 21, 1854

Yvette provided the following translation:

In the year one thousand eight hundred fifty-four, the twenty-third of the month of September appeared before us, Zijtse Sijbouts de Haan, mayor, clerk of the civil registration of the municipality of Westdongeradeel province Friesland:

Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda aged twenty-four years, head teacher, living in Hiaure, who declared to us that on the twenty-first of this month of September, at half past ten in the evening, in Hiaure, was born a child of the male sex from him declarer and his wife Geertje Harmens de Jong, aged twenty-five years, without occupation living with him which child he declares to give the first name of Harmen.

Said statement occurred in the presence of Oene Klazes Hofman, aged fifty-four years, cow milker living in Hiaure and of Egbert Oebeles Kijlstra, aged thirty-nine years, clerk at the “secretarie” [municipal administration] living in Ternaard.

Of which we have created this record, that, after having been read aloud, was signed by us, the declarer and the witnesses.

[signed]

B H Ferwerda

O: K Hofman

E O Kijlstra

ZS de Haan

Source: “Netherlands, Civil Registration, 1792-1952”, Familysearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 29 August 2012), digital image, “Geboorten 1851-1856” [Births 1851-1856], Westdongeradeel (Friesland, The Netherlands), p. 66 reverse;  Birth record of Harmen Ferwerda.

Look at Bauke’s beautiful signature!

Not only do we discover that the surname is spelled differently, we also discover that Hiram’s name was originally given as Harmen, his mother’s middle name which was her paternal grandmother’s birth surname. Harmen’s parent’s names are provided, along with their ages and his father’s occupation. Not only that, but he was born at half past 10 in the evening. How many of us know what time we were born today?

I decided right on the spot when I saw these records that I loved Dutch record-keeping.

Visiting my Dutch Homeland

In 2014, both as a result of Yvette’s work, and with Yvette, I was fortunate enough to visit many of my ancestral Dutch locations in what amounted to a whirlwind tour.

Additionally, my Ferverda cousin, Cheryl and my husband, Jim, rounded out our foursome and did we EVER have a good time. We also worked with the wonderful staff at the Friesland branch of the Dutch National Archives in Leeuwarden, named Tresoar. If that name sounds a lot like treasure to you, there’s a reason and yes, it is indeed full of treasure – both in terms of their records and wonderful employees who we now count among our friends.

Ummm….maybe I should explain…

The Dutch really go all out celebrating King’s Day on his birthday, April 27th. Everything shuts down, all public offices are closed and a huge nationwide party takes place. We were accidentally present for the first King’s Day, which changed from the previous Queen’s Day when the Queen’s eldest son, William Alexander became King. The King is a member of the “House of Orange” and let’s just say we wanted to fit in with the locals – and we did. After all, we’re Dutch, right? Yes, there’s obviously a story behind this and yes, eventually, I’ll tell – but not today😉

I’ll be sharing lots photos of the locations where my Dutch family lived and relevant history in this and several upcoming articles.

Hamlet and Record Confusion

Many locations in the Netherlands are very small hamlets. Often records indicate ancestors living in the larger region but don’t give the name of the tiny village. It’s a bonus to find the village name and Yvette is persistent.

For example, Hiaure is a small hamlet in the larger, now extinct, region of Westdongeradeel, now Dongeradeel, which is an administrative district that includes several hamlets, villages and towns.

Additionally, there may be several places in the Netherlands, even in Friesland with the same name. For example, there are about 5 different towns, hamlets and villages with the name of Oudega. In my case, the Oudega I would have assumed, just about 3 miles from another location the family lived, is not at all the Oudega where they moved. All I can say is thank goodness for Yvette or I would have fallen directly into that tar pit.

Another complication for my family is that they didn’t do what families are supposed to do. (Now there’s a surprise – NOT.)

Ancestors are supposed to marry in the town where they were raised. Stay there. Have children there. Marry someone of their own religion. Have their children baptized in the same church with the baptism witnessed by other family members. Don’t move around, and don’t marry across the country from where their first wife died. And don’t, absolutely DO NOT, no matter what else, marry someone of a religion that does NOT KEEP RECORDS.

Oh, and don’t change your name either, first or last and certainly not both. Just sayin’…

Yep, Hiram Ferverda’s father did ‘em all.

Hiaure

Welcome to Hiaure!

You can see a short video clip of Hiaure in this YouTube video.

As with all Dutch towns and villages, the church is located on the highest point of land, a small mound called a terp, because the cemetery lies in the churchyard and the Netherlands is an extremely low, meaning wet, country.

Compared to the countryside of the US, Europe is a very small place with limited land. There’s an old saying that the US has land, but Europe has history. In every square foot, I might add.

It’s quite common to be standing in one village and be able to see the church steeple of several churches by turning and looking in various directions. Those churches are the center of yet another village. This is true even in very small villages. Today, Hiaure has about 65 residents and that probably hasn’t changed much since Hiram was born there.

Because the Netherlands is so low, much of the country is reclaimed either from the sea or extreme lowlands. Windmills furnish wind-power to pumps and are commonplace scenes across the landscape.

This photo, taken close to Hiaure as we drove through the Dutch countryside is a typical Dutch scene. Today, it’s also not unusual to see wind turbines generating electricity in addition and sometimes side by side with older traditional windmills. Note the windmill in the clearing to the right of the house.

Village life centered around the church. Children were baptized there, families attended services, marriages took place, as did funerals. After the funeral service, parishioners walked outside and buried the person in close proximity to the church – sometimes in a grave the family owned, used and reused for generations.

As you can see, the Hiaure church is located on a small “terp” or raised area, the highest location in the village. One does not want to strike water when digging graves.

Hiram’s father was a school teacher. A house was typically provided to the teacher as part of their salary and research suggests strongly that this small house is indeed where Hiram was born.

The current resident was very generous to allow us to visit the backyard as well.

Was this where Hiram played as a child? Possibly, but he probably wouldn’t have remembered because by the time his brother was born in October of 1857, when Hiram had just turned 3, they were living in Eernewoude.

The traditional barns, like the one shown above at right, would have been similar to what Hiram saw when he lived in Hiaure or elsewhere in the countryside.

The Dutch love gardens, and tulips, of course. Such old-world beauty and charm.

Sometime between Hiram’s birth and the birth of his brother, 3 years later, the family moved from Hiaure to Eernewoude, Tietjerksteradeel, Friesland, about 20 miles away, probably so that Bauke could accept a different teaching position.

However, in Eernewoude, Hiram’s young life would change forever.

Hiram and Hendrick Ferwerda

Hiram had a brother Hendrick, later known as Henry in the US, born in 1857 in the village of Eernewoude, Tietjerksteradeel, Friesland, and a sister Lysbertus, born November 12, 1859, probably in the same location.

You may notice location spelling disparities, which I find quite confusing. There is a difference between the languages of Dutch and Frisian, the common language spoken in Friesland, the northwesternmost province of the Netherlands. Most people living in Friesland understand and speak Dutch perfectly well, but not all Dutch people speak or understand Frisian, a west Germanic language.

The original spelling is shown as Eernewoude (Dutch) and the current spelling is Earnewald (Frisian), at least I think I have those right.

Eernewoude, as is recorded in the Ferwerda records, was then and remains today a small low-lying village with a 2017 population of around 409 people.

Hiram’s sister died on July 23, 1860 at 8 months of age, not quite 3 months before her mother perished on October 3rd, leaving Bauke with 6 year old Hiram (Harmen) and 3 year old Hendrick to raise alone.

Young Hiram would just have turned 6 years old less than two weeks before his mother died. He would surely have been old enough to remember both his sister’s and his mother’s deaths and funerals.

We don’t know why Geertje died, but the death notice placed in the newspaper by Bauke Ferwerda on October 12th  and translated by Yvette reveals a lot:

Tonight at 9 ¼ hours died, after a very long but patient suffering, my beloved wife Geertje Harmens de Jong, in the yet youthful age of 31 years and 6 months, leaving me, after a comfortable union of almost 7½ years, two sons.

Eernewoude, 3 October 1860

Did their daughter die of something related to her mother’s death? Was her mother so ill that the child died? What malady related to the birth could have caused Geertje to suffer for nearly 11 months, killing her and the child both. I would think that infections or issues related to childbirth would be terminal much sooner than that. Whatever Geertje’s affliction, it clearly wasn’t contagious, because no other family members died.

Sadly, young Hiram would have seen his mother’s suffering.

We don’t know positively where Hiram’s mother, Geertje, is buried, but given that the family had been living in Eernwoude for several years, it’s very probable that both she and her daughter are buried in the churchyard there.

The church in Eernewoude was built in 1794, so this would have been where Hiram’s sister and mother’s funerals were both held and probably where they would have been buried as well unless there was a separate Mennonite cemetery which is unlikely.

Graves are reused in European countries after a few years, so the stones, if any ever existed for Geertje and the baby would no longer be preserved today. Perhaps the church records themselves record the location of the plots where they were buried, but that too is rare. It will have to be enough to know they are there someplace.

I would love to have been able to decorate Geertje and her daughter’s grave like this beautifully decorated Dutch grave on a little terp all its own. I so wanted to tell Geertje that her son did just fine. That I’m living proof and that she is my great-great-grandmother. To whisper that her little boy, Harmen, would become Hiram. That he sailed to America and became a leader in his community. That he too married an Anabaptist woman, just like she was. That we came back to find her. That she is not lost to us.

I was not able to visit this village, and I would not have been able to find her grave today, but she is there and I honor her none-the-less.

Rauwerderhem, Friesland, Netherlands

The Dutch population registers show that Hiram lived in Rauwerderhem between January 1, 1861 and Dec. 31, 1881. Another population register says that he lived here between 1854 and 1941. That’s surely true, just only a fraction of that time – and we don’t know exactly which fraction.

We know positively that Hiram had sailed to America long before 1881. In fact, we know that in May of 1863, the family had moved to Oudega.

Rauwerderhem as a region ceased to exist in 1984 and became Boarnsterhim which ceased to exist in 2014. Rauwerderhem includes several municipalities including Irnsum which is probably our clue as to when he lived there.

Oudega and a Step-Mother

Hiram’s father, Bauke, remarried on October 30, 1863, three years after his wife’s death, to Minke “Minnie” Gerb ens Van der Kooi. We know that Bauke moved to Oudega on May 6, 1863, several months before he married Minke. A year later, in 1864 when their first child was born, the family was still living in Oudega (Hemelumer Oldeferd), near the coast.

In 1866, Hiram’s father, Bauke, was listed as the head teacher there.

I wonder who cared for Hiram and Hendrick for the 3 years that Bauke Hendricks Ferwerda was a widower and teaching school. His older son, Hiram who had just turned 6 when his mother died was probably attending school, but assuredly the younger child was not.

A newspaper ad that Yvette discovered answers that question:

A few weeks after Geertje’s death, Bauke advertised for a housekeeper. Their first known housekeeper was Romkje Rintjes Dooijema, a 69-year-old widow who joined the family in July 1861. It is possible that they had a housekeeper before her, that did not live with the family. Romkje was in the household for two years, probably until Bauke’s second marriage in October 1863 to Minke Gerbens van der Kooi.

Hiram moved to Oudega with his father in May 1863 when he would have been 9 years old and lived there for the next four years.

We drove from Leeuwarden to Oudega which took about an hour. The Netherlands is connected by roads today, but in the 1860s and before, the Netherlands was a riverine country – connected by natural waterways and canals constructed strategically to drain the land. Boats tied loosely in canals are equivalent to second cars in the driveway here. You may well be able to get to town more quickly by water than by land.

While it appears that the residents of the Netherlands are in a constant battle with water, in reality, for the most part, they’ve learned to adapt and co-exist. In some cases, they have to tame the water, generally the sea, and they have to find ways to retain what little land they have.

Regardless of what they do, the Dutch are always innovative.

The church in Oudega was constructed in 1850, so would have been relatively new at the time that Hiram started attending with his father.

When they first arrived, Bauke, being the schoolteacher, would have been introduced around. He probably entered the church for the first time, holding his sons’ small hands in each of his larger ones as they made their way to a pew where they boys would have sat on either side of their father, probably fidgeting and squirming. A routine they likely repeated every Sunday.

Bauke was single and available, so any widows near the same age would have taken notice and maybe sat strategically nearby. Perhaps Minke Ger bens Van der Kooi sat nearby as well, exchanging furtive glances with the handsome schoolteacher widower.

Given that Bauke was a music teacher, perhaps he took a more active role in the church.

Bauke and both of his sons were listed on their emigration paperwork as Dutch Reformed, but both of Bauke’s wives were Mennonite. So maybe Minke wasn’t sitting in this church after all.

As with most Dutch churches, the cemetery surrounds the church.

Next to the church is the school and parsonage. Bauke would have likely lived in one of these buildings. It’s unclear from historical records which building was which at the time.

The building immediately next door looks like it might well have been the school, and the schoolmaster might well have lived here too.

It’s also possible that another structure stood at that time that does not remain today, in the part of the churchyard where Jim is standing, between the church and that brick building.

There is definitely space for another structure, but no physical evidence that one existed.

Regardless, this is where Hiram lived, attended church and played as a child, probably in the cemetery among the gravestones.

During the time the family lived in Oudega, Minnie and Bauke presented Hiram with 2 sisters, Lysbeth born August 21, 1864 and Geertje born May 15, 1867. Lysbeth died at sea during the August 1868 crossing. That must have been a heartbreaking, terrifying day, watching your child, or your 4-year-old sibling, slip beneath the waves – especially after having lost your mother and sister just a few years before. Did Hiram ever feel safe from death?

Minnie and Bauke would give Hiram two more sisters and a brother in the US.

When Did Hiram Emigrate?

On August 1, 1868, the Ferwerda family sailed for America, but Hiram may not have been with them. Did he arrive with his parents, or did he join the family later? He wouldn’t have been quite 14, but children then were trusted to travel alone at much younger ages than today.

Yvette provides the following information:

Lists of Overseas Emigrants:

Since 1848, the Dutch national government required each province to compile lists of emigrants each year. The government wanted to understand who was leaving and for what reasons. The lists were usually compiled by requesting lists of emigrants from each municipality. The municipality often based these lists on information in their population registers. If people failed to register their departure, their emigration may go unnoticed for some time and sometimes shows up in the lists years after the emigration took place.

1. Harmen Ferwerda

Information in the source:

The list of emigrants shows that Harmen Ferwerda emigrated from Wijmbritseradeel, Friesland in 1869. He was a 14-year-old baker’s apprentice and listed “geluk te zoeken” [finding happiness/luck] as his reason for departure. His destination was listed as North-America, precise location unknown. He was less well-to-do and had not paid poll tax the previous year.

Source: “Staten van Landverhuizers overzee” [Lists of overseas emigrants], Wijmbritseradeel, Friesland, Netherlands, 1869, p. 88-89; microfiche, Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, The Hague; citing Nationaal Archief, Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken [Department of the Interior], afdeling Statistieken [Statistics department], record group 2.04.23.02, call number 26V

Analysis: The other emigrants from Wijmbritseradeel listed ‘to make a fortune’ or ‘amelioration of circumstances’ as reason to emigrate. To find “geluk” (happiness/luck) is an uncommon reason that is not mentioned elsewhere in the list. It may be that this reflects Harmen’s own choice of words.

2. Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda

Information from the source:

The list of emigrants shows that Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda emigrated from Hemelumer Oldephaert en Noordwolde, Friesland in 1868 with 1 wife and 4 children. His destination is listed as Minnesota. The record shows he was less well-to-do, with an annual income of fl.425 the previous year. The notes column states that he was married to a sister of Bergstra. This refers to the first emigrant named in the list of emigrants from Hemelumer Oldephaert en Noordwolde, Rimmer Johannes Bergstra. Several other emigrants in the list of emigrants from that municipality were also related to Rimmer Johannes Bergstra.

Source: “Staten van Landverhuizers overzee” [Lists of overseas emigrants], Hemelumer Oldephaert en Noordwolde, 1868, p. 69-70; microfiche, Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, The Hague; citing Nationaal Archief, Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken [Department of the Interior], afdeling Statistieken [Statistics department], record group 2.04.23.02, call number 26V

Yvette’s note: No relationship between Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda’s second wife, Minke Gerbens van der Kooi, and Rimmer Johannes Bergstra is known at this stage. We could investigate this as this might lead to a better understanding of their reasons for emigrating. The way that the list mentions different relationships suggests that they traveled as a group.

The fact that Bauke and his wife have 4 children with them strongly suggests that Hiram was with them and did not make the trip, alone, later. There were only 4 children in total, including the child who died en route.

I wonder why Bauke and family decided to settle in Indiana. It looks like their original destination was Minnesota. Maybe they met someone en route who provided information that changed their minds.

The Elkhart County history book states that there was a group of Dutch that settled in this area, so the Ferwerda family was not the only family in the settlement group. I wonder how they selected Elkhart County, and why.

Checking others in the immigration group with Rimmer Johannes Bergstra (age 67) we find Dirk Peekes Hoogeboom who died in 1887 in Nappanee, Indiana, and is buried in the Union Cemetery where Hendrick Fervida and family are buried. The Union Cemetery is across the road from the Brethren Church. According to Find-A-Grave, a G. R. Bergstra was married to Kirk Hoogeboom, and the emigration record states that Hoogeboom is married to the daughter of Bergstra. Gerben Willems DeBoer was married to Anna (died 1911), a sister of Bergstra, and died in 1874. They are also buried in Union Cemetery. These people lived in the area where Bauke Ferwerda and family settled and provided tenuous ties to the old country.

A second group that was traveling with the Bergstra group from the same location in Holland settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan by 1870 and remained. Gosse Jans Molenaar, age 35, whose wife was the sister of Durk Jeremias Quarre, age 32.

More from Yvette:

Population registers

Population registers were retrieved for Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda and his son Harmen Ferwerda for the period covering their emigration.

Population registers were kept in the Netherlands since 1850, with some earlier local attempts. Population registers show who lived where in the municipality.

In the 19th century, a population register typically covered a period of 10 to 20 years, depending on the size of the municipality and the mobility of its inhabitants. This register was kept up to date, whenever somebody moved, died or was born their addition or removal from the household was noted. People were required to register whenever they moved into a municipality or moved out of a municipality.

Some population registers were arranged by address. In this case, when people moved, they were struck from the page of their previous address and added to the page of their new address. Other municipalities quickly changed to a system that arranged the population registers by household. In this case, addresses were struck and corrected every time a family moved.

Struck through names in the population register usually indicate one of two things:

  • The person died during the time period covered by the register
  • The person moved away.

All people not stricken through were apparently still living there at the end of the period covered by the register.

Populations give a very good insight in the composition of a household. However, because a population register covers a period of several years, not all people listed on the page may have lived there at the same time. Some people may have died or moved away before other people were born or moved in. Careful analysis of the dates is needed to draw conclusions about the composition of a household.

Hemelumer Oldeferd en Noordwolde 1860-1869

This population record shows the household of Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda. It covers the period 1860-1869 and shows that Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda arrived in Oudega in the municipality of Hemelumer Oldephaert en Noordwolde on 6 May 1863 together with his two sons Harmen and Hendrik. They had come from the municipality of Tietjerksteradeel. The record lists that Bauke married Minke Gerbens van der Kooi on 30 October 1863. She is listed as number 4. Subsequently, two children are born in 1864 (Lijsbert) and 1867 (Geertje).

Son Harmen Baukes Ferwerda leaves the parental home on 22 July 1867 to go to Rauwerdehem. He is also shown as incoming from Wijmbritseradeel on 17 July 1867, when he is added as nr. 8 to the household.

Source: Hemelumer Oldeferd en Noordwolde, Friesland, Netherlands, Bevolkingsregister [Population Register] 1860-1869, p. 88, household of Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda; microfiche, Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, Den Haag, Netherlands

Analysis: the dates of Harmen Baukes Ferwerda’s departure and return do not add up, as he arrived back home 10 days before leaving it. Since his listing as number 8 is below that of his sister Geertje b. 18 May 1867, we can be sure he arrived back home after 18 May 1867. More analysis is needed in comparison with the Wymbritseradeel population register.

I wonder why Hiram left and went to Rauwerdehem and then Wijmbritseradeel. Yvette wondered too – and she found the answer!

Wymbritseradeel 1862-1880

The population register of Wolsum shows Harmen Baukes Ferwerda as living in the household of Johannes Jousma in Wolsum in the municipality of Wymbritseradeel. He arrived there from Irnsum on 20 November 1867.

Now that’s quite interesting. If Hiram left home of July 22, 1867 and stayed in Irnsum until November 20th of that year, where was he in Irnsum during that time? He was only 12 years old when he left and turned 13 that September. He certainly was living with a family, perhaps someone from his mother’s side of the family who was Mennonite?

Irnsum, today Jrnsum, was a Mennonite stronghold, known to be a center of Mennonite activity before 1600. Two Mennonite congregations originally existed, but one died out relatively early. The second joined the Mennonite conference in Friesland in 1695. In 1684, that congregation had a meeting house with stained glass windows, quite the exception to the traditional “very plain” lifestyle. In 1838 the membership was 83 and in 1871, 160.

This would have been the Mennonite church that Hiram probably attended in Irnsum during his 4 months living there.

A Baker’s Apprenticeship in Wolsum

We may not know who Hiram was living with and what he was doing in Irnsum for 4 months, but we do know more about the time he spent in Wolsum living with Johannes Jousma.

From Yvette:

Johannes Jousma was a baker and Harmen Baukes a “bakkersknecht” [baker’s hand]. The term ‘knecht’ was also used for apprentices, which translation would fit with his age (13). By comparing the arrival and departure dates of the other people in the household, Johannes Jousma is shown to have at most one apprentice at the time, sometimes none.

So, Hiram was apprenticing to be a baker. Fortunately, Wolsum was on our itinerary. It’s such a small “place” that we almost missed it, literally.

Our visit to Wolsum was just amazing, for several reasons. In fact, this was one of the highlights of the trip. Ironic that we nearly abandoned this stop because we couldn’t find this hamlet amid the maze of canals and waterways. I’m so glad my friends didn’t give up.

The Wolsum church on the raised terp. While Hiram would probably have attended this church regularly, none of our ancestors or family members are buried here. Or are they?

Yvette came up with a surprise and tells us that:

In the population register Harmen lived with baker Johannes Jousma (Anabaptist) and Pierkje de Jong (Dutch Reformed). I only now realize that Pierkje was his aunt! She was the daughter of Harmen Gerrits de Jong and Angenietje Wijtzes Houtsma and sister to Geertje Harmens de Jong. Therefore, given that Pierkje was Dutch Reformed, she would have attended this church and is likely buried here as well.

Amazing what is hidden away in the details of these records. Anabaptist connections keep popping up. Hiram would cross the ocean and eventually marry an Anabaptist women himself.

In the back of every church, we find a small unobtrusive building like the one shown below.

I thought these were sheds for the groundskeepers holding lawnmowers or perhaps supplies for digging graves, but that’s not at all the purpose for these generally nondescript structures. They are ossuaries for the bones encountered when the grave is dug for the next occupant. Any bones remaining are put into the ossuary and stacked with all of the other bones where the “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” process continues.

Now, I must admit, in locations where I know my ancestors or their family members are buried, I look longingly at these buildings. I know that their DNA is just laying there, but unavailable to me☹

In fact, I’m probably related to everyone in many small villages. No point crying over split-milk, or bone-dust, so let’s walk through this lovely village.

Flowers bloom everyplace in Holland in the spring, peeking through small spaces, seeking the sun.

Beautiful moss-covered walkway beside the church. I love these little peek-a-boo Dutch gardens. So inviting!

Looking across the fields. The next hamlet is always within view. The fence below isn’t between fields, but across a canal or waterway. We fence roads here, the Dutch fence canals.

Some hamlets are too small to even have a church.

One such place is named Fiifhus translated as “Five Houses,” for obvious reasons, within sight of Wolsum.

A one lane road reaches across the fields and canals in the direction of the tiny Five Houses where we were told the Wolsum baker once lived. Of course, we’re going!

A one car bridge and quaint, beautiful cottages greeted us.

It was here, in 5 Houses, officially a part of Wolsum because the two hamlets shared the church, that Hiram served his apprenticeship with Johannes Jousma.

Five Houses was located at the end of the little dead end one-vehicle-wide “road” that ended beyond the 5th house. The street looked more like a walkway and we weren’t sure we were supposed to drive there, or could turn around, so we parked at the end and walked.

The people in Wolsum told us that the “old baker” had lived in Fiifhus. There were literally 5 houses originally and only one more today, all lined up in a row across from the canal. The “road” in the 1860s to 5 Houses was the canal by boat.

Wood decays quickly in the Netherlands which is why most structures are built of brick. Stone is scarce in this lowland country. Note the moss growing on the fence. It grows everyplace.

Cheryl, always shy (humor), began talking to people and asking questions. Fortunately, Yvette and some of the Frisian-speaking archives staff were along to help with translation, although most Dutch people speak at least some English.

The residents were amazingly friendly and as interested in us as we were in their little village. In the Netherlands, many residences were both a house and a barn, combined. This one was built, remodeled or at least roofed in 1871. The house portion for the people is much smaller than the barn portion, which is typical.

We continued walking along the canal, on the left, below.

It was absolutely amazing to stand where we knew Hiram had stood, in his footsteps, and I mean exactly, daily, 146 years earlier. This boy who would become a man and have the sons who would be Cheryl’s father and my grandfather. And here we were, standing where he stood, looking at the same scenes he saw.

I’m sure Hiram never imagined such a thing, just as I could never have imaged anything like standing here when I was a young teen. When Hiram was living in Five Houses, he couldn’t possibly have imagined that he would sail to America just a year later. He planned to be a baker, perhaps right here, for the rest of his life. But life had something very different in store for young Harmen who would soon become Hiram.

If mother could only have been with us that day. My heart both rejoiced and broke. I’m incredibly glad that Cheryl and I were together, representing our family lines. I wish this could have happened a decade earlier when Mom could have joined us. I’m sure she was with us in spirit.

At the very end of the red brick road, we found the baker’s house where the driveway was wider than the road. The garage portion in front is new, but the rear is older and original. The current resident told us that when he bought the property, some 30+ years ago, he had to tear out the old ovens and haul them away, so we knew unquestionably that we were in the right place and had indeed found the baker’s house where Hiram lived.

My heart broke again.

Hauled. Them. Away.

Lead in a genealogist’s heart. Wasn’t there even one brick left? Someplace?

Nope. The Dutch are fanatically neat and tidy – a trait which I did NOT inherit.

The homeowner graciously invited us to walk on his property and here we found the old barn and building where Hiram likely lived.

Another small building at the rear of this property, below.

The Dutch seldom tear a building down. They simply refurbish, again and again, and the old building isn’t so old. Old in European terms is measured in hundreds of years. The perspective is very different from the US.

Hiram would have walked on these bricks or on this path if bricks weren’t yet laid, and perhaps gone to the supply building for what he needed for the day’s baking.

Structures are mostly made of stone because the almost constant moisture causes wood to rot quickly.

Each property along the small dead-end street also had a “location” for their boat or boats to be tied up on the canal, right across from the house.

Hiram probably rose early, before dawn, to bake bread, then loaded the boat with the baked good to deliver to Wolsum, visible across the field from where we stood, in front of the baker’s house where Hiram would have boarded the boat. It was as if he was standing with us, had guided us back in time to this very place to stand in his footprints.

Was this young man, barely a teen, homesick? Did he miss his father, step-mother and siblings? Did he think about them and wonder what they were doing in the misty or rainy mornings on the boat to Wolsum?

If you cry in the rain, no one knows.

Emigration

Yvette tells us that:

The emigration record shows that Harmen Baukes Ferwerda emigrated with his father, step-mother and siblings on October 15, 1868 to North America.

Source: Wolsum, Wymbritseradeel, Friesland, Netherlands, Bevolkingsregister [Population Register] 1862-1880, p. 30, household of Johannes Jousma; microfiche, Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, Den Haag, Netherlands

So, Harmen, known to us as Hiram, did immigrate in 1868, not later, but I still wonder if he traveled separately since the rest of the family is recorded as leaving on August 1st.

We’ll catch up with Hiram on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in part 2 of his story, but first, we have a DNA riddle to solve.

The DNA Twist

This story would not be complete without something about DNA, and the DNA aspect of this story is quite unexpected.

One day, I received an e-mail from Yvette whose mother had recently taken an autosomal DNA test. The results were nothing short of amazing!

Yvette’s mother and my mother matched on 5 chromosomes. They matched at Family Tree DNA, although it was easier to compare them at Gedmatch since my cousin, Cheryl and her brother had both tested at 23andMe their results were transferred to GedMatch.

While the matches on chromosomes 6, 11 and 15 between our mothers are too small to be meaningful, the matches on chromosomes 18 and 22 are large enough to potentially be relevant, meaning identical by descent, not identical by chance.

This is exciting not just because Yvette is a friend, but because it might help both of us unravel our respective genealogy. Plus, how cool would that be – to meet through genealogy and then discover we are related.

GedMatch predicted 6.6 generations to a common ancestor between our mothers, but both Yvette and I think that a common ancestor would be further back in time. Obviously, Yvette knows both her and my Dutch ancestry quite well.

Yvette took a look at both of our pedigree charts and identified 4 different potential lines where one or both of us had holes in our tree where we could potentially intersect. That sounded hopeful.

Had my mother not tested before her death, and had Yvette not tested her mother, we would never have known of this match, because it does not extend to matches between us daughters.

The Rest of the Story

This match originally occurred about 5 years ago. I recorded it at that time, excited that someplace, Yvette and I probably shared an ancestor.

However, things have evolved, developed and changed over time.

While writing this article, it occurred to me that I should recheck our DNA matches and see if we could discern anything new.

Was I ever surprised.

Our mothers are no longer matches to each other at Family Tree DNA. At GedMatch, their matching algorithm has apparently changed too, because now they are shown only as matching on chromosome 18. The match on 22 is entirely gone. I didn’t recheck the smaller segments.

This is confounding.

Checking Yvette’s mother to see if she matches either Cheryl or her brother shows no match on this segment.

That’s not terribly unusual, because Mother could have inherited a different piece of DNA from her ancestors that Cheryl and Don did not. Nothing unusual about that for first cousins. Mom and Cheryl/Don share grandparents, so each would be expected to only share about 12.5% of their DNA with mother – and not entirely the same 12.5%.

I could have checked at that time to see if Mom and Cheryl matched on that same segment, given that Cheryl did not match Yvette’s mother, but I was waiting for Don’s results to come back and never got back to checking. Plus, I wanted to retest Cheryl and Don on a fully compatible chip at Family Tree DNA.

The next thing I knew, 5 years had passed and here we are.

However, today we have a much easier visual tool in DNAPainter.

Mom, Cheryl and Don are related in the following fashion.

Mom, Don, Cheryl and another Ferverda line cousin named Mike all match on this same segment, telling me that this is indeed either a Ferverda or a Miller segment, given that Hiram Ferverda married Eva Miller, a Brethren woman.

If Mom matches Yvette’s Mom on this segment and if the segment is a valid IBD (identical by descent) match, then Yvette’s mother will match all three of the Ferverda cousins on the same segment where she matches mother. The only way that mother can match both Cheryl and Don (on very large segments, 17 and 35 cM respectively) is through their common grandparents. Their respective mothers are not related to each other or the Ferverda line. Mike, another Ferverda descendant also matches Mom, on 27 cM that includes Yvette’s Mom’s blue segment and overlaps with both Cheryl and Don.

The perfect triangulation scenario – except they don’t.

Yvette’s mother does not match Cheryl, Don or Mike. Therefore, because mother does match all 3 of her Ferverda cousins, and they all match each other as well on this same segment, that means that the match between Yvette’s mother and my mother is not identical by descent, but identical by chance. Rats!

Better to know than not.

  1. I’m glad we have enough people tested that we can now make this determination.
  2. I’m very grateful for the visual DNAPainter tool which makes the comparison easy.
  3. I’m disappointed that Yvette and I don’t share a common ancestor someplace in the relatively recent past, but I’m glad that we can prove this conclusively one way or another. Yea, I’m trying to make lemonade.

The Moral of the DNA Story

  • Stay away from segments under 7cM. They are more likely to be IBC than IBD and we have enough larger segment matches today that we don’t have to fish in the weeds.
  • Write match results down when you do the initial comparison. Tools change over time.
  • Recheck matches, because the vendor’s algorithms change over time. GedMatch is going through a major retool right now.
  • Understand that matches over the match threshold can still be IBC. Mom and Yvette’s Mom lost one 7.8 cM segment match, and the 7.5 match was reduced to 7.1, which was subsequently proven to be IBC. Generally, matches above 10 cM are relatively safe, 15 cM or above quite safe and I’ve never seen a 20 cM or higher match that turned out to be IBC.
  • Don’t fall in love with results until (minimally) they are actually proven to triangulate with known cousins.
  • Do the basic triangulation steps at the time when you discover the match. I could have solved this riddle long ago had I simply run the comparison between Yvette’s Mom and Cheryl. Better late than never.

But most of all, test those cousins and older family members because often their DNA is every bit as important to genealogy, if not more so, than yours.

Acknowledgements:

A huge thank you to the Tresoar staff as well as Yvette Hoitink.

Initially, Tresoar was planning to offer “Back to Your Roots” genealogical tourism packages, although the project never emerged in quite the way it was initially imagined. If you have Dutch ancestry, please contact either Tresoar in Friesland or Yvette for assistance anyplace in the Netherlands.

Muller, Ringeisen and Stutzman Families of Schwarzenmatt, Switzerland – 52 Ancestors #221

Sometimes, truth is so much stranger than fiction. I just couldn’t make these things up!

If you haven’t been keeping track – and believe me, I understand why you wouldn’t be – let me give you a brief update before I tell you about this amazing turn of events. My own version of that Christmas genealogy miracle.

The Legend of Johann Michael Muller (1692-1771) and Jacob Stutzman (1705-1773)

In the US, Johann Michael Muller 1692-1771 (the second) and Jacob Stutzman 1705-1773 were originally believed to have been “not blood related,” but functionally brothers.

By this, I mean that the original story was that Johann Michael Muller (spelled Miller here) the second was born to Johann Michael Muller the first, and his wife, Irene Charitas <some last name, although sometimes Charitas was listed as her surname>.

As the story went, Irene died and Johann Michael Muller the first remarried to Regina Loysa <some surname, and sometimes the surname was listed as Loysa>.

Then Johann Michael Muller the first died in 1795, leaving the young child Johann Michael Muller the second at age 3 to be raised by his step-mother, Regina, who subsequently married Johann Jacob Stutzman.

Are you following this? Because lots of previous researchers didn’t, believe me – and I had to draw pictures myself. It was flat out confusing!

Schwarzenmatt Muller

Regina then had a son, Johann Jacob Stutzman (Jr.) with her second husband, Johann Jacob Stutzman. Her son was always known simply as Jacob Stutzman. In the US, Johann Michael Muller was known as Michael Miller.

That’s what we thought happened. But it wasn’t!

What Actually Happened

What actually happened was this:

Schwarzenmatt Muller actually.png

That person with the long red name is really one person. I know, I know, that just doesn’t sound realistic – but that’s actually what happened and records proved it.

Jacob Stutzman and Michael Miller were half-brothers through their mother. Even though they were about 15 years apart in age, they were clearly very close and immigrated to America together on the same ship in 1727.

Michael Miller and Jacob Stutzman were never far apart during their lifetimes, both converting at some point to the Brethren religion. In the US, they only had each other – although it’s certainly possible that at least a few cousins immigrated as well.

The sun truly set on that original story, because once we unraveled all the unforeseen twists and turns, there were several factual errors. However, there were valid reasons those earlier mistakes had originally been made. The records were extremely confusing, with multiple people sharing the same names, people whose names morphed into something else during their lifetimes and people who moved across not one, not two, but three countries and the ocean.

What else could go wrong?

It’s no wonder everyone was confused, me included.

Recap

Here’s what we know, along with the relevant articles providing documentation:

  • Johann Michael Muller, the first, was indeed the father of Johann Michael Muller, the second born in 1692, who immigrated to Pennsylvania.

https://dna-explained.com/2015/11/08/johann-michael-mueller-the-first-1655-1695-pietist-refugee-52-ancestors-97/

https://dna-explained.com/2015/12/27/johann-michael-miller-mueller-the-second-1692-1771-brethren-immigrant-52-ancestors-104/

https://dna-explained.com/2018/06/03/johann-michael-muller-the-first-was-a-widower-52-ancestors-196/

  • Charitas was not the surname of Irene Charitas. Neither was Schlosser. My bad on this one.

https://dna-explained.com/2015/11/29/irene-charitas-c1665-c1694-and-her-aching-mothers-soul-52-ancestors-100/

https://dna-explained.com/2017/12/23/irene-charitas-schlosser-beware-the-overlooked-umlat-52-ancestors-176/

https://dna-explained.com/2018/01/28/anna-ursula-schlosser-1633-1701-and-the-ides-of-march-52-ancestors-181/

  • Irene Charitas was actually a Heitz, daughter of Conrad Heitz.

https://dna-explained.com/2018/04/15/backpedaling-irene-charitas-is-a-heitz-not-a-schlosser-52-ancestors-191/

Yea, that retraction article was particularly ugly and embarrassing. I like to think of it as a teachable moment. If I was a cat, I’d lick my paw and claim I meant to fall of the couch backwards😊

However, it was the marriage record of Johann Michael Muller to Irene Lisabetha Heitz that gave us the name and location of Johann Michael Muller’s father – Heinsmann Muller of Schwarzenmatt, Canton Bern, Switzerland. What a gift that record was, twice over.

https://dna-explained.com/2018/09/15/heinsmann-heinrich-muller-1635-1684-of-schwarzenmatt-switzerland-52-ancestors-208/

  • Irene’s first and middle names morphed several times. She must have answered to anything and everything.

As it turned out, Irene Lisabetha’s name became Irene Charitas and even that name managed to morph over time, as she changed churches and moved from Steinwenden to more distant locations. She was called Irene Elisabetha, then Irene Charitas, then Regina Loysa, then Regina Elisabetha. She was identified as the mother of Johann Michael Muller, the second, when he was baptized in Steinwenden and then years later when she stood up at the baptism of his children. All I can say is God bless those Germans and their records.

  • Johann Michael Muller and Jacob Stutzman shared a mother.

Those church records confirmed that Irene/Regina by whatever name was the mother of both Jacob Stutzman and Johann Michael Muller. Johann Michael Muller the second was actually the half brother of Jacob Stutzman, through their mother.

https://dna-explained.com/2018/05/21/johann-michael-muller-and-johann-jacob-stutzman-half-brother-saga-its-complicated-52-ancestors-194/

Chris and Tom, my trusty friends, had tracked the Stutzman family through the records. I thought they were going to an awful lot of work for pretty much nothing since I wasn’t related to the Stutzman line, but they continued just the same. I sure am glad they knew what they were doing. Tom has so much more experience with old German records that I do or ever will have.

  • The Stutzmans and Mullers came from the same Swiss valley.

In those records, Tom and Chris tracked the earliest known Stutzman ancestor to Erlenbach, another village in the Simmental valley in Switzerland, about 10 miles from Schwarzenmatt.

Schwarzenmatt Simmental Valley

By Hadi – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2369972

In the late 1660s, brothers Hans and Hans Jacob Stutzman, sons of Peter Stutzman had migrated from Erlenbach to Geislartern in the Saar Region of Germany.

  • Jacob Ringeisen is Johann Michael Muller’s cousin.

In the Steinwenden church records, a cousin of Michael Muller, Jacob Ringeisen is identified as being from Erlenbach as well. Erlenbach is about 10 miles from Schwarzenmatt, but Steinwenden is about 275 miles, so the chances of both Michael and Jacob accidentally winding up in the same locations is pretty remote. A group of Swiss settled in Steinwenden and clearly, Michael and Jacob were among those early immigrants.

  • The Boltigen church burned.

As far as the Muller records in Schwarzenmatt, the records had run out. The church was actually a mile or two down the valley, in Boltigen, and it burned, along with all the records in 1840.

That’s where we are in the story today.

Done, finit, right?

Not so fast!

Peter Mosimann

In the Heinsmann Muller article, I introduced you to Peter Mosimann whose wife’s ancestors lived in the house descended from the Muller family in Schwarzenmatt.

Heinsmann Muller original house

Peter authored a historical book about the area, including the Muller family, which much to my chagrin is out of print. Writing to his publisher and asking for the e-mail to be forwarded was not fruitful.

After waiting a respectable amount of time, Chris graciously wrote a snail mail letter to Peter Mosimann, who kindly replied.

In Peter’s reply, he mentioned a 1653 house inventory of Schwarzenmatt.

Johann Michael Muller, the first, was born about 1655 in Schwarzenmatt to Heinsmann Muller. 1653 is only two years before Michael’s birth, so surely Heinsmann was living there then.

Chris and I reasoned that if there was one Heinsmann Muller in Schwarzenmatt in 1653, he had to be the father of Johann Michael Muller.

Keep in mind how small this village is today.

Schwarzenmatt map

The original village is the area encircled in purple. Peter Mosimann’s wife’s Muller family home is located there – house number 409, right at the bottom right of the encircled area, at the intersection of the roads where the red arrow is pointing.

A Stutzman Researcher

Earlier this month, after discovering the work Chris had done with the Stutzman records, another researcher contacted him stating the following:

Just to keep you updated, I have found out that Stutzmanns living in Boltigen and Erlenbach are connected through Bettler family. Namely, Hans Stutzmann born in Erlenbach in 1625 married Magdalena Bettler, while another Magdalena Bettler who deceased in Boltigen in 1687 was also a wife of Hans Stutzman (see page 71: https://www.query.sta.be.ch/Dateien/18/D94449.pdf). The Hans Stutzmann who deceased in Boltigen in 1693 (see page 78) may be the husband of this Magdalena and might be the father of Hans who emigrated to Mönsheim.

I was excited. Chris and Tom were both more reserved.

They discussed this finding, and although it was interesting, this researcher also faced the same problem of the Boltigen records having burned, so they were rightly skeptical of this connection.

Then, the researcher sent another comment:

It is indeed intriguing as I have spotted one Stutzmann living in the very Schwarzenmatt hamlet, see here on page 44 (in pdf file, page 87 in the document): https://www.query.sta.be.ch/Dateien/18/D94449.pdf

You can bet that I jumped on that link right away which led to a book in the Canton Bern archives, from Boltigen. (Hmmm, apparently ALL the records didn’t burn after all.)

The dates on the book spine look like the records are from 1669 to 1720 or 1728. Of course, I can’t actually read this book, but I can do limited pattern matching and I do see a Muller on page 19 under 1682. I also found the record on page 87 that the researcher above referring to, along with several Muller names. It appears that the two Muller families in 1653 probably had several descendants by the early 1700s.

Christmas Wish

Ok, I’ve decided – what I want most for Christmas this year is for someone at the archives to transcribe this book into German that I can then enter into a translator. That would be just dandy. Santa, are you listening?

Really, what I need most is a name index. These old records written in German script are difficult for even the most seasoned translator, so all kidding aside, it’s no small feat. Let’s hope that Peter Mosimann has already transcribed these records. Will I be that lucky?

The House List

Peter Mosimann’s letter mentioned the 1653 house inventory in addition to saying that he would copy and send the relevant chapter of his book to Chris for translation. Peter does not speak English.

Patiently waiting apparently isn’t a trait that either Chris or I possess, so Chris found the Schwarzenmatt 1653 house list showing 43 houses in total. I’ve also learned that this isn’t actually a house register, but a hearth or chimney register and it’s possible that two families could be living in the same actual “house” but be listed separately because the house was large enough to have two chimneys.

Schwarzenmatt 1653 house list

With appreciation to Bern State Archive (Berner Staatsarchiv), BE II 283, page 69, Peter Mosimann and Chris.

Nine lines up from the bottom on the left page, we find Heintsman Muller. So it really is Heintzman or Heintsman, not Heinrich misspelled. This is me, doing a happy dance!!!

Schwarzenmatt two Mullers

If my eyes aren’t playing tricks on me, we also find a Wolfgang Muller four from the bottom, just 5 below Heintzman Muller. Is Wolfgang perhaps Heintzmann’s brother or maybe even his father?

Then, at the top of the right hand page we find Hans Stutzman.

Schwarzenmatt Stutzman

Bern State Archive (Berner Staatsarchiv), BE II 283, page 69

Yes, one Hans Stutzman lived right in the tiny village of Schwarzenmatt in 1653. Is it possible that he is the progenitor of the Stutzman line, and that both Hans and Hans Jacob found in the late 1600s in Erlenbach descended from Jacob in Schwarzenmatt or Jacob’s ancestor? If so, it’s certainly possible, if not probable, that Michael Muller born in 1655 and Hans Jacob Stutzman born in 1645 were already related. In fact, one would expect no less in a small mountain village in the Swiss Alps. Who else was available to marry except your neighbors, who had probably been neighbors in that same village or valley for generations. I wonder when surnames were adopted in this region.

Schwarzenmatt Miller Stutzman pedigree

It’s feasible that Jacob Stutzman and Michael Muller might well have been related, perhaps several times, on their respective father’s lines, in addition to sharing the same mother. They could have been second cousins paternally, or more distant. Or cousins several times over.

Further down on the right-hand page, below the heading for what appears to be a different village, it looks like there might be two more Mullers, but I can’t tell for sure. Eight rows below the heading it looks like Mulford Muller followed by two other words, and 4 below that might be Jacob Muller.

Although I can’t read the surnames on the list today, it’s also likely that Heintzmann Muller’s wife’s family is also from this village. Her parents may be listed as well. We just don’t know who, and probably never will, barring a new miracle of course.

Let’s do Math!

If 43 houses existed in 1653, and each couple had 10 children total, with half living in each generation, and half of the survivors being males, how many generations working backward until the first person settled in Schwarzenmatt. We are assuming no new people settled in the village which probably is not a legitimate assumption – but hey, how many people travel up a valley into the high mountains looking for a small village to live in.

For this exercise, we divide each generation by two. Two surviving male children and one child gets the existing house. The surviving females marry males in other families.

  • 43/2= 21 houses 1622
  • 21/2 = 11 houses in 1590
  • 11/2 = 5 houses in 1560

Using this example, in 1530, only 2 or 3 houses would have existed in Scharzenmatt, except settlement wasn’t exactly that linear or predictable. For example, in 1396 when the Canton of Bern acquired the land, the villages of Boltigen, Eschi, Schwarzenmatt and Weissenback were all listed, so clearly someone lived there long before 1530.

The local Boltigen church of St. Mauritius was first mentioned in 1228, so people were living there then, and enough people to organize and attend church. This also suggests that these families were probably all interrelated and had been in 1653 for at least the previous 4 generations and probably much longer.

Another Cousin

We know from the Ringeisen church records in Steinwenden that people living in the village of Erlenbach, 10 miles distant, are recorded as being cousins of Johann Michael Muller.

First cousins would share grandparents.

Of course, we don’t know if the church records in Steinwenden meant first cousins, or cousins more broadly.

Schwarzenmatt Ringeisen

It’s very difficult to discern more, but two of the possibilities are that Johann Michael Muller’s mother was a Ringeisen or a Seiler, sister to Jacob Ringeisen’s father or mother, or that Jacob Ringeisen’s mother or father was a sibling to Heintzman Muller’s unknown wife.

At this point, I’d like to say that we’ll probably never know, but this family, with the help of Chris, Tom and other researchers continues to surprise me. Maybe Peter Mosimann’s letter will contain additional information!

DNA

My mother is one generation closer than I am, and I am fortunate to have her autosomal DNA results at Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage and GedMatch.

The Stutzman/Miller line is greatly confused, not just by the fact that the two men are actually interrelated through their mother, but also by the fact that the Miller and Stutzman families subsequently intermarried in the US as they progressively migrated across the country together in Brethren communities, generation by generation.

I decided to see what I could find utilizing Ringiesen/Ringeisen, even though Ringeisen is very likely to be misspelled in the US. The Miller-Ringeisen connection, if it pertains to my line, is at least 10 generations back in time. A segment could persist, but it’s more likely NOT to. On the other hand, if endogamy is in play, that might help because many people in that population will carrying the same segments of DNA from a few founding ancestors.

Endogamy may have started in Schwarzenmatt and the Simmental Valley, but it continues to this day in Brethren communities.

At Family Tree DNA, I found no matches using Ringeisen or Ringiesen.

At MyHeritage, Mother does match an individual who has Ringeisen ancestors in Thurnen, Switzerland, not terribly far from Erlenbach. Is this a match from a common line, and in particular, this common line? I don’t know. I don’t recognize any of the other people that they match in common.

Schwarzenmatt Thurnen Erlenbach

I decided to paint that matching segment at DNAPainter to see if I could rule it out as a possibility or determine if it matches my Miller line which would lend the match some credibility. An 11.8 cM match is significant.

Schwarzenmatt DNAPainter

That gray-green segment overlaps with Mom’s nephew (burgundy), but so far, no other matches on that particular segment. The lavender colored band below the burgundy segment is Mom’s European ethnicity estimate from 23andMe. Both the lavender and burgundy are mostly obstructed by the black information box.

While Mother does triangulate with several people on this segment at MyHeritage, I don’t recognize any of them. Their trees, if they exist, don’t provide hints. I’ll need to be patient until Mom has a match on that segment from a known relative or someone who descends from a common ancestor to make more progress.

At GedMatch, by searching the pedigree charts for Ringeisen, I found one person who listed Hans Jacob Ringeisen born July 13, 1653 in Erlenbach who died on June 1, 1691 in Steinwenden. I then checked my mother’s kit and there was no match to the person’s email address listed as the Gedcom owner. They did have parents for Jacob listed as Christen Ringeisen who married Cathrina Seiler on December 23, 1629 in Erlenbach.

I checked my two first cousins for matches as well as a few another Miller cousins, all with no luck.

I’m striking out here.

At Ancestry, I have one Ringeisen DNA match of 15.6 cM on 1 segment to a man with 3 people in his tree. His mother’s birth surname was Ringeisen. I was able to track his Ringeisen line back to John H. Ringeisen born in 1812 in Germany. His first 4 children were born in Germany before he migrated to Ohio between 1844 and 1852. A private tree shows Johann Henrich Ringeisen born in 1812 in Waldmohr, Kusel, Germany, about 15 miles from Steinwenden.

We may have found a segment of Miller/Ringeisen DNA. Of course, without knowing  ore about other potential common ancestors in that gentleman’s tree and without being able to utilize a chromosome browser, I won’t be able to confirm. Perhaps I’ll ask if my Ancestry match will transfer to either Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage or GedMatch where I can confirm that segment.

In Summary

We made an amazing find on the 1653 house list among those 21 families living in Schwarzenmatt, positioning Hans Stutzman and Heintzman Muller as near neighbors. This opens the very real possibility that perhaps the Miller and Stutzman lines were related in the Simmental Valley, prior to immigrating to Germany, given that the families in Schwarzenmatt were few and located in a fairly remote alpine region.

Solving the mystery of how the Muller and Ringeisen families are related will have to wait for another day, if ever. I suspect that the Muller roots run deep in that beautiful alpine valley and Michael may have literally been related to everyone.

We have truly found the home of the Miller family in the beautiful Bernese Oberland, the highest portion of the Canton of Bern, in Schwarzenmatt, just beneath the Juan Pass.

My heart reaches back in time to Heintzmann Muller and before, to countless generations of my ancestors whose dust and DNA grace the majestic mountains and lush valleys of Switzerland. Johann Michael Muller may have left, but my soul found its way home.

Barbara Jean Ferverda “Bouché”: The Dancing Years – 52 Ancestors #220

As a grandparent, I love attending my granddaughters’ dance and theater performances. Every time, I think of mother and miss her. At every single performance, as I sit in the dark as the lights drop, before the program begins, I ponder how much mother would have loved to see her granddaughters’ perform. How proud she would be. I touch her ring that I always wear, bringing her with me, as much as I can.

My eldest granddaughter performed this fall in “The Music Man” at the local college. I see my mother clearly in her face.

My youngest granddaughter danced in “The Nutcracker” this year. She shares mother’s zest for life.

They sing, they dance, they play the piano beautifully. They didn’t get that from me.

It came directly from my mother, a woman they would never get to meet. But boy, would she ever be proud of them.

Girls, I’d like to introduce you to your great-grandmother. Long before she was a great-grandmother (although she was always a great grandmother😊), she was a grandmother and before that a mother and before that, a beautiful young woman with aspirations, just like you.

Like you, she was beautiful, both in body and soul, and it showed through her entire life in her every action. She was a glowing presence, leaving no one’s heart untouched. She saved lives, changed lives and loved deeply. She perfected dance, and through it she learned, inspired and taught. Dance changed her life, propelling her into an uncertain, amazing, terrifying future.

I’d like for you to meet that incredible woman, that hard-working professional dancer.

Mom danced tap and ballet in a modern style for the 1930s and 1940s when she was performing. She also sang beautifully and played the piano.

She began with local dance lessons and danced in recitals, just like you.

I think you’ll like her. Get a cup of tea and pull up your iPads, because hers is quite an incredible story that we’re about to unfold.

Silver Lake, Indiana

This older black and white picture of the house where Mom was born looks somewhat bleak, but the house still stands today. The porch has been enclosed and everything looks better in color and drenched in sunlight. Mom’s bedroom was upstairs in the little roof area that you can see extending over the porch.

Now, don’t laugh, but Mom’s childhood home is a funeral home today. Mom avoided all funerals held here. She just didn’t think she could deal with that.

Mom was born and raised in Silver Lake, Indiana back in 1922 when people used horses and buggies to get from place to place and cars were rare.

Mom began dancing about 1932 after a long painful bout with rheumatic fever, a disease that damaged her heart. She was 10 years old, exactly the age of my youngest granddaughter.

Mother spent months recovering and told me stories about how the weight of her own arms hurt her so badly she couldn’t stand the pain – or stand up. Her father carried her up and down the stairs and laid her on the couch. Her lifelong love of books began with him reading to her for hours to distract her through the characters in the book from her all-too-present unrelenting pain.

Physical therapy didn’t exist at the time, so dancing was suggested by her doctor to strengthen her heart after she recovered. Of course, dancing was vorbotten by the conservative churches in Silver Lake – but mother danced anyway. After all, it was for her health, not her enjoyment.

Dancing apparently worked. Mom lived another 73 years, until 2006 when she passed away at 83 years of age, still carrying the scars of that childhood disease but it did not defeat nor define her. Neither did the conservative churches nor the wagging tongues of the church women. Even her Brethren grandmother, Evaline Miller Ferverda who helped care for mother during the long months of her illness relented and approved.

Mom danced for years, studying with Violet Reinwald in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a nationally known dance instructor and performer. As mom got older, she began teaching and then performing professionally with Violet’s dance company. They toured northern Indiana, performing in theaters and in colleges. Her mother, Edith Lore Ferverda often played the piano and accompanied the performers.

Marriage, WWII and Divorce

Mom’s life took shape in another way, marked by WWII, graduation from high school, a marriage to her high school sweetheart, Dan Bucher, a child and divorce. All of those things happened quickly, in 1942 and 1943. Mom was all of 19 and 20 years old.

Mother and my brother John lived with her parents as she waited for her husband to return from WWII, but that marriage was destined to dissolve before he ever came home. Let’s just say that he wasn’t ready to settle down.

Divorced with a baby, Mom had to earn more than she could in tiny Silver Lake teaching dancing. There weren’t many options in a farming crossroads town – actually – there weren’t any options.

The divorce decree called for Dan to pay $4 per week child support, and no one could live on that and support a child as well.

The closest big city that sported a professional dance troupe – the only thing Mom knew how to do – was Chicago. Mom told me many years later that dancing, let alone dancing in Chicago far from her family wasn’t at all what she wanted to do. But she had no choice.

Mom wanted to go to school and become a bookkeeper, but her family didn’t believe in spending money on educating a female. Her brother, on the other hand, was sent to college to become a chemist. Besides, they had already spent all that money on dance lessons. So dance is what she did. And how!

Mom always made lemonade out of whatever lemons life served up.

Off to Chicago

Wearing an old borrowed fur coat and a hat made out of a muff, Mom traveled to Chicago with fingers crossed to audition for the Dorothy Hild Dancers.

Mother must have been terrified. Trembling in her dance shoes. What would have happened if she hadn’t gotten the job? Her life would have taken a dramatically different path, that’s for sure.

Mom aced the audition, got the job and began the next chapter of her life in Chicago. That sounds glamorous and seductive, but the reality was much different. She worked at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and lived in a hotel room with another dancer as a roommate with Dorothy Hild acting as both the house mother and the warden, enforcing strict rules.

According to the Chicago Tribute whose posh entertainment columns covered the Dorothy Hild Dancers’ every move, shows were offered in the Marine Dining Room at the Edgewater Beach Hotel daily at 8:30 and 10:30, except for Sunday when the dinner show was performed at 7:30.

The challenge in show business, of course, was to keep up and stay one step ahead of the competition. Acts couldn’t get stale.

An article on March 11th, 1945 mentions that the Dorothy Hild Dancers in the Marine Dining Room at the Edgewater Beach Hotel would offer four new routines; Arabian Nights, a swing novelty, Paper Dolls and Spangled Bolero. The dancers were accompanied by the full Wayne King Orchestra. At other times by Emil Vandas and his orchestra.

The Dorothy Hild Dancers’ reviews were glowing, such as, “the dazzling production numbers staged by Dorothy Hild who is doing the sort of work that should make some veteran producers search their souls and see if they haven’t been resting on dusty laurels.”

I even found a Thanksgiving dinner ad in the Chicago Tribute for the Marine Dining room, so we know what Mom was doing on Thanksgiving Day 1944 – and it wasn’t eating turkey with her family.

She was smiling through the pain of knowing that her family was gathered together and she was not there with them and her 17 month old son.

Judging from the reviews in the Tribune for just 1944 and 1945, it looks like the dancers prepared for at least a new set of 4 shows every other month, so 24 new complete shows each year – plus the renowned Christmas Extravaganza. On some of Mom’s clippings, the dates indicate that a particular specialty show only ran for 3 or 4 weeks. No wonder they were known as the most ambitious and the best show in Chicago.

What a grueling schedule. Learning the next set of shows while you were practicing and performing the current shows.

Stage Name

Mother’s birth surname was Ferverda and her married name was Bucher. Neither name made a good stage name, so she became Barbara Boucher or Bouché, with a French flair and a stage presence that belied her humble conservative Brethren roots in small-town Indiana. It may have only been 139 miles from Silver Lake to the Edgewater Beach Hotel, but show business was another world entirely.

This photo of Mom, one of my all-time favorites, was taken at the height of her dancing career when she was dancing in Chicago in the early 1940s. She always told a funny story about this picture, which was one of the marque slicks outside the theater.

Apparently in her haste to get to the studio in time for her photo shoot, Mom forgot her dance trunks. Trunks are like shorts that cover underwear. Costume skirts are short and you’re really not seeing anything risqué underneath.

She had a running tug-of-war with the photographer (Maurice Seymour) who kept exposing more of her legs for artistic purposes, and mother kept readjusting her skirt more modestly.

Based on the final photo, mother won. If you knew my mother, there was never any doubt about that.

As beautiful as mother was, and as glamorous as her life seemed, she missed her family, and in particular, her son desperately.

This photo was taken during these years and she looks profoundly sad. Makeup can hide a lot, but not this.

Dorothy Hild Dancers at the Edgewater Beach Hotel

By July of 1944, John had just celebrated his first birthday and Mom was in Chicago performing with the Dorothy Hild Dancers at the esteemed Edgewater Beach Hotel.

This was during the heyday of grand hotels who each tried to outdo the others with their Hollywood big band type shows. The Edgewater Beach was Chicago’s finest luxury hotel, on the waterfront with its own private beach, catering to the rich and famous including several presidents of the United States. One of their claims to fame was that they offered seaplane service.

The hotel was surrounded by a private park and gardens which you’ll see in some of the following photos.

Below, one of the lounges at the Edgewater Beach hotel.

A rare aerial photo at the time shows the massive structure on the lake.

Today, all that remains of the Edgewater Beach hotel built in 1916 and the apartments built in 1928 is the apartment building, now upscale condos with a pink façade.

The Scrapbooks

Mom faithfully kept scrapbooks, at least for the first couple of years she lived in Chicago.

I think that the scrapbooks of yesteryear were much like today’s resume. If you were looking for another dancing position, or side work, you took your scrapbook along. Not to mention my grandmother loved it!

Mother didn’t always use her stage name.

Above, a promotional photo of the Dorothy Hild Dancers with Mom second row far right. Look at those eye lashes! On the following page, on the back of the picture, Mom wrote the 10 dancer’s names.

Mary Lou Hai, probably not her real name, was mother’s roommate. Mother recalled that during World War II, Mary Lou’s family was “detained” in one of the detention camps in Arizona where the government secretly sent Americans of Japanese heritage living in this country. Mother said they were always afraid the authorities would come after Mary Lou, so Mary “became” Chinese. The war was very difficult for these young women, especially Mary Lou and mother whose families were affected in dramatically different ways.

Mary Lou couldn’t communicate with her family for fear of discovery. No letters, no calls, nothing. The US was at war with Japan, and Mary Lou couldn’t be exposed as Japanese or she would be sent to the detainment center with the rest of her family. All Japanese at that time and those with Japanese heritage, more than half of whom were US citizens, were suspected of being enemies.

Mother, on the other hand, was dating and then engaged to a man in the military. He was actively fighting the Japanese and would ultimately die in the war – yet these two women shared a room and a bond, dance, that transcended prejudice.

The Edgewater Beach Hotel advertised the shows on theater marquis style billboards outside like the old-time theaters. The Dorothy Hild Dancers opened for the big bands and famous acts like Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and Wayne King, among others.

These photos were taken by Maurice Seymour known as “the photographer to the celebrities.” His specialty was theater, dance and in particular, ballet.

These “Maurice” photos, in addition to the one at the beginning of the article have been framed and hanging in my home for decades. He was clearly a talented photographer, catching Mom at her best. I’m so very grateful to have these.

I would love to have seen those larger-than-life marquee slicks outside the Edgewater Beach Hotel, advertising the performances by these lovely ladies. My grandparents and family members were also given copies of these photos. I hope that all those small-town naysayers who gossiped so cruelly about my mother caught a glimpse.

A friend sent me this video of the glitzy Chicago nightlife in 1947.

I believe mother was still dancing with the Dorothy Hild dancers at that time, and the Dorothy Hild Dancers are featured at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in the video. I think Mom may be the dark-haired woman in the front beginning at about minute 6:14. The Dorothy Hild group begins at minute 5:45 but the dancing horse received more coverage than the humans. I was so excited to see this – transporting me back 75 years in time – allowing me a brief glimpse into mother’s world.

Regardless of whether this is actually mother in the video, it’s the vibrant Chicago that mom knew.

Promotional Photos

The great news about being a dancer is that photos were taken. In fact, lots of photos.

If you’re wondering why I’ve included so many photos, that’s all I have left now. Photos and memories, and oh yes, her DNA. But as time creeps on and I pass from this earth and join mother, eventually, no one will have the memories to share, and fewer still will carry her DNA. The only thing I can pass on are the photos and the stories so that she isn’t forever erased.

The following pictures found in Mom’s scrapbook were taken in order to provide photos to the newspapers and for other publicity purposes. As I worked with these photos, I do believe we have an entire photo shoot here. How many people are that fortunate!

The above two photos were also pressed onto wood about one quarter inch thick. Then small statues approximately 6 inches high were cut in the shape of the outline of the dancer from the wood. The feet of the cutout were placed in a small wooden base. When I was a child, these two “dancers” stood on the table in the living room. Eventually, the extended hand broke off. I surely wish I had these mementoes today.

Mother had beautiful legs even into her 80s. She wore heels and skirts her entire life.

At one point, mother became almost skeletally thin. There are photographs of her  where her cheeks are sunken and she looks virtually anorexic, although anorexia had not been defined as a disease yet at that time, and I know that she did not have an eating disorder. She had a dancing disorder!

I also know mom missed a lot of meals, both due to scheduling and finances. The Dorothy Hild Dancers were regularly performing two shows per evening, plus one practice daily, and Mom told me she would lose 9-12 pounds a day during this time. She couldn’t keep weight on.

The metabolism she acquired during her dancing career would stay with her for the duration of her lifetime and would successfully see her through many years of 3 desserts, chocolate Hershey bars and plates of homemade fudge without gaining an ounce. I didn’t get that from her either.

As a teen, I was incredibly envious of how much Mom could eat. I would gain weight just watching her. She could and literally did make and eat copious quantities of anything and everything and never gained weight. When she passed away, weighing less than 100 pounds, we thought she had frozen prepared meals in her freezer, but the entire freezer was crammed full of different kids of ice cream. “Second” and “third” dessert she called them.

Mother loved chocolate. That, I did get from her!

The War Interferes

Once again, the War would directly affect Mother’s life.

Sometime before the end of 1944, mother met Frank Sadowski, a medical student who had enlisted to serve in the Army in February of 1943.

Frank’s sister, Margie or Maggie, also danced with the Dorothy Hild dancers which explains how they met – especially given that Dorothy’s dancers were not allowed to date nor to go out in the evenings. There would be no rumors about her dancers!

By the end of 1944, Mom and Frank were an item and planned to marry when his military tour was over.

Frank’s military service ended brutally when he was killed on April 19, 1945 on Okinawa, attempting to save another man.

Frank’s body wasn’t returned to the family until March of 1949, just a couple of weeks before Mom abruptly ended her dancing career. I don’t know positively, but suspect those two things are related.

I wrote about Frank here, here and here. (Entire case of Kleenex warning.)

The Premonition

Mother confided that she knew Frank would be killed, in the same way she knew so many things she couldn’t have known. Mom said she cried too long the last time Frank left from the train station, and couldn’t stop crying…because she knew it would be the last time she saw him on this earth. Frank’s death devastated mother – to the point where she was never the same. Throughout the rest of her life, this chapter was extremely difficult for her to discuss. It only closed when she rejoined him across the divide.

In 1945, the war was drawing to a close. Had Frank managed to survive just a little longer…

If only.

If only.

Victory in Europe Day

Mother was at the home of her voice coach in Chicago when the word of VE (Victory in Europe) Day arrived on May 8th, 1945, via a call from the Mayor’s office requesting a group of singers for a victory celebration in the circle that evening in downtown Chicago.

Her coach hung up and asked Mother if she could perform. Mother said yes, she could, and she did, singing her heart out for America and “the boys” on State Street, along with 20-25 others, many of whom were vocal students at Northwestern University.

This photo from the Chicago Tribute shows the massive crowds. The city literally shut down. In the paper the next day, the following column tells more about the atmosphere.

I never realized until I read this article that lights were dimmed to conserve resources during the war.

Mom said that the VE Day announcement was wonderful and that some of the people she worked with had family in the European theater.

She also told me that she almost didn’t make it through her solo, knowing that while many would come marching home, Frank would not. He hadn’t even been gone a month. I’m amazed she could perform at all. It’s a testament to her strength. She straightened her back and stiffened her spine and that mighty women simply did whatever was required. If any single moment defines my mother, this is it.

In a 1995 interview with the Kokomo Tribune to celebrate the 50th anniversary of VE Day, Mother said “we were kind of a chorus on a hastily constructed stage.” Festivities began “two o’clockish and the downtown was very, very crowded.“ Everyone was celebrating. Mom said they performed songs that everyone knew, such as God Bless America, the National Anthem and “most everything of a patriotic nature.”

The program lasted about 90 minutes and “I remember I got tired standing.” Her voice breaking even then, a half century later, as she recalled “the sad undercurrent. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was VJ Day too?” (VJ = Victory in Japan)

For Frank, and for mother, victory had come too late.

The newspaper article indicated that Mother communicated with two men fighting the Japanese, and she mentioned “underneath the festivities was the fact that there was still war in the Pacific; you couldn’t see any end in sight.”

Mom wasn’t alone. This small buried article tells what was happening in Okinawa on VE Day, and how those men felt.

Mom continued, “I felt kind of lonesome in the crowd…there was no one I knew there. But I did sing…I did what I was supposed to do. I was glad those people in Europe were ready to come home.”

What she never told the reporter was that Frank had just been killed – 19 days earlier. I’m not sure how long Mom had known. Dan had returned alive, but that relationship and her hope of being his wife and raising a family in Indiana was lost to mother just the same. WWII was nothing but one heartbreak after another for Mom – and she danced and sang through it all.

I asked mother if she was excited, and she said that she was, but she knew all of the problems were not yet over. Many of her friends were serving in Europe and Japan, and not all of them would return alive.

Frolicking on the Lawn

Mom continued dancing. At some point in time, a roll of film was taken of her friends in the Dorothy Hild Dancers enjoying themselves on the lawn of the Edgewater Beach Hotel.

Cameras and film were both rare, and many items were rationed during this time in order that the country’s resources could be focused on the war effort. A roll of film was a luxury indeed.

There’s more than one way to climb a slide! Success!!

Mary Tan Hai

Mom at the wishing well. I wonder what she was wishing for.

Mom is sitting second from left in the chair.

I’m glad to see that the ladies knew how to have fun. I suspect Mom took these photos since she isn’t in the ones above.

I love this candid. Mom is so beautiful.

Mom in both photos, above. These photos were taken on two different days because she has two outfits on, and coats are worn on one day and not the other.

Mom and Mary look so happy in this photo. It’s one of my favorites. Two lovely young souls. Sadly, Mom lost track of Mary and her address book, still in my possession lends no clues.

Mom’s and Mary’s two worlds collided head on. Mom’s fiancé was killed by the Japanese in the war, while she was rooming with Mary. Mary’s family had been incarcerated in the US because they were of Japanese heritage, despite being citizens.

It would have been so easy to blame each other for circumstance neither woman could either influence or control, but they didn’t. They loved each other as sisters and the protective shield that the dancers wove around Mary may well have spared her life. It certainly preserved her freedom.

On the Road

At some point, the dancers began to travel. I know that Mother met my father on a train between Philadelphia where she was dancing and Chicago where the troupe was returning. There are other hints as well in the various newspaper articles in her scrapbook.

Below, she performed at the State Fair at the Coliseum, with Jimmy Dorsey, but it never says what state’s fair.

Mom’s second left from the end.

Judging from the newspaper article, Andy’s was in Minneapolis.

A few of the girls formed their own smaller dance troupe. Mom also performed on her own.

The Club Belvidere was in Springfield, Illinois

At least one of Mom’s engagements was in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I have to laugh. “Slick tap routines.”

1331 Hennepin Avenue was in Garden City, Michigan, which surprised me. I had no idea she had danced in Michigan.

The Silver Cloud was located in Chicago.

Mom performed at the Faust Club in Peoria, Illinois. I see her stage name was Boucha here, or misspelled.

Wayne King was a Big Band leader. This appears to be the gentleman in the dance promotional photograph with mother.

This photo looks like another from the Maurice Seymour studio.

More clippings from Mom’s scrapbook.

I sure wish I had the originals of these photos.

Fencing? Well, I had to admit that’s different!

The Club Hollywood was located at 9000 West Belmont in Franklin Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. Today, this location is the O’Hare Logistics Center for the airport.

There’s a significant gap in Mom’s scrapbook entries. I wonder if she simply got tired of clipping, or if an entire book went missing.

While many of Mother’s engagements were in the Chicago area, some were fairly distant. The program for this event tells us that she was Miss Zenith Radio.

Who knew. It looks like this might have been in 1948.

The event below took place in Omaha, and they thought she was sweet.

The Trocadero was a well-known up-scale club in Omaha in the 1940s. I’m sure mother received lots of propositions and proposals too.

Mom probably developed a second sense about situations like this. However, as a very interesting side-note, George Bentley IS in Mom’s address book with two phone numbers. Four digit phone numbers no less. Now you know I just HAVE to research this person.

In the 1940 census, George, an electrician is married and 41 years old, if it’s the same George. Of course, by 1948, he might not have been married, although his wife is still listed as his SS death beneficiary in 1972. Or he might have been separated, or not been truthful about being married. I might have the wrong George Bentley too, as the address doesn’t match that of the City Directory or the 1940 census, but there isn’t another George Bentley in Omaha.

Looking at the map today, 1411 N. 30th, the address in mother’s book is a residential neighborhood with a contemporary church on the property, not the type of area where clubs are located. Judging from this and other hints, it appears that mother might have been attracted to older men. My father was about 20 years older than Mom. Hmmm….

Was George another heartbreak that we know nothing about? Is that why his note is in her scrapbook and his name in her address book?

The above photo is inside the Memories of Omaha folder. I just have to ask myself, what was Mom doing in Omaha and is there a “rest of the story?”

This is also the only photo in existence where my Mom appears to be a bit “chubby.”

The duration of a dancing career is by necessity, short. A dancer’s body just can’t withstand the prolonged abuse. At some point, mother broke her foot, the kiss of death for a dancer.

In 1949, she withdrew her membership in the American Guild of Variety Artists, officially ending her career as a performer just a couple weeks after Frank’s body was returned home and buried. I can’t say for sure that those two things are connected, but I’m willing to bet that they are.

The Scrapbooks End

Mother’s Chicago scrapbook ends between 1945 and 1948 although she didn’t withdraw from the guild until 1949. The Miss Zenith Radio clipping was from 1948 and she was clearly still performing at that time. Mom said that after the war ended, dancing engagements were more difficult to procure, and things had changed. There was less interest in big bands and the clubs were becoming more interested in less clothing, a style of dancing Mom personally did not embrace.

There’s no question that dancing profoundly influenced Mother’s life. Dancing probably saved her life when it functioned as physical therapy to strengthen her heart, but it also cost her greatly in many ways, as she was never able to be “normal.” Mother traveled and performed, a lifestyle not conducive to a traditional relationship. And far from anything she had seen or dreamed of growing up in Silver Lake. This was not in any of the accepted role “scripts” for women of that era.

Because of her nontraditional career, in a time when few women had any career and most women aspired to marry, have children and not work outside the home, she was never a candidate to become a traditional wife and mother. Mom struggled mightily with that dichotomy. It “shouldn’t” have mattered, but it did.

Like other women, mom very much wanted a loving relationship and a family. She was also divorced which carried with it a shameful stigma at that time as well, not to mention that her parents were raising her child. Mother was supposed to somehow fit into a traditional mold, which she clearly couldn’t, and was judged personally by failing at those “traditional” standards. She was trapped between two worlds and didn’t fit in either.

Whether dancing ultimately benefitted her more or cost her more, only she could say.

Looking Back

As I look back on her life, I’m impressed at the incredible bravery and fortitude my mother exhibited. Of course, I had no idea of the challenges she faced when I was younger. True to form, she never shared the negative aspects of her life.

I could not have realized the magnitude of the discrimination faced by women and the stigma painted upon women who worked, especially in the entertainment industry, that many conflated, intentionally or otherwise, with “working girls.”

Mother spent the first third of her life working hard and training to be “good enough” to dance professionally, and the rest of her life trying to leave her showgirl life behind and simply be considered be “good enough,” period. Good characteristics of an outgoing performer weren’t considered assets in a demure obedient wife.

While it wasn’t guarded as a secret, let’s just say we didn’t discuss Mom’s dancing career at the Baptist church after she married my wonderful step-father and moved to a hog farm in conservative, rural Indiana. Her previous career was treated much as a mysterious “famous” past that mother was simply too humble to brag about.

However, that suitcase full of beautiful, glittering sequenced costumes holding their secrets of spotlights past bedeviled the plain “housewife” existence she tried to mold herself into for the rest of her life. Perhaps that was her greatest and most successful act of all, guild actor’s card or not.

After the dancing chapter of her life ended, she found a way to pursue the career she had dreamed of initially – that of becoming a bookkeeper. Her new career, although it paid poorly as all women’s jobs did at the time, ultimately led her to heartland Indiana where I was raised.

Ironically, the life of struggle that she endured stoically and bravely and tried so hard to put behind her is one of the very reasons I’m so proud of her today.

Proud that she broke ground for the rest of us.

Proud of her sacrifice.

Proud of who she was.

Proud that she never let her beauty alter her moral character.

Proud of her humility and lifelong service to others.

Proud that she endured in a period of unending challenges and struggle – and survived.

Proud that she ultimately found a way to follow the dream she had never been able to pursue. She became a bookkeeper for more than 20 years, followed by being an Avon lady for another quarter century. Mom didn’t retire until she was 82.

Here’s Mom, saying goodbye to her last Avon customer in May of 2005.

Proud of her three careers, spanning more than 65 years.

Proud of that stunningly beautiful dancer who would one day become my mother and infect me with her hard-won tenacity.

Proud that she has passed her legacy on to her lovely granddaughters.

I see her in their beautiful faces and hear her in their sweet voices. She would be so proud of them.

Mom loved Christmas, Christmas music, and Christmas performances. She would have been in the midst of her element at these performances, making sure everyone’s makeup was “just so.” Their lipstick on straight and enough rouge and powder. No washing out and no shining skin on stage. Yes, she would have been right in the middle of everything, a mother hen, helping everyone.

So girls, even though she can’t sit in the theater seats beside me in person to watch your stage productions, she is here, always here, always beside me, proudly watching. I guarantee it!

Finding Mary Younger’s Mitochondrial DNA – 52 Ancestors #219

Ah, the blessings of cousins.

The Y and mitochondrial DNA of our ancestors can provide us with a smorgasbord of information. Unfortunately, we only carry the Y and mitochondrial DNA of one or two lines. If you’re a female, you carry the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of your matrilineal line only, and if you’re a male, you carry the paternal (patrilineal meaning surname) Y DNA line (blue squares) in addition to your mother’s matrilineal line (red circles.) You can read about the difference between maternal versus matrilineal and paternal versus patrilineal here.

Y and mito

Therefore, to collect the rest of the haplogroups and match information about our ancestral lines, meaning those with no color above, we must depend on cousins who descend from those ancestors in such a way that they carry the desired Y or mtDNA.

For men, their surname is generally reflective of the Y DNA inheritance path, presuming that neither the surname nor the Y DNA was changed, intentionally or otherwise – meaning adoption or name changes, for example.

Women contribute their mitochondrial DNA to both genders of their children, but only females pass it on to the next generation.

This inheritance path assures that neither the Y nor mitochondrial DNA is admixed with the DNA of the other parent, meaning the DNA changes little if at all generation to generation and we can see back a very long distance into the past by following the stair-step mutations that have accumulated over hundreds and thousands of years.

Think of it as your genetic periscope!

Recently a press article reported that in very limited cases with a medically co-presenting mitochondrial disease, the father’s mitochondrial DNA is found in children. Blaine Bettinger explained further here. It’s actually not new news and you really don’t need to worry about this in regard to genealogy.

Mary Younger

When I originally wrote Mary Younger’s 52 Ancestors article, I didn’t know anything about her mitochondrial DNA because no one from that line had yet tested.

In that article, I detailed her descendants as best I could, and of those descendants, who would carry Mary’s mitochondrial DNA.

A cousin, Lynn, read the article and replied that indeed, she descends from Mary through all females – and was willing to DNA test. Thank you Lynn!!!

Mary’s mtDNA Dispells a Myth

Lynn’s results came back and told us that Mary Younger’s mitochondrial DNA is haplogroup H1a3a.

Often in early genealogy research, when a colonial lineage brick wall was encountered, the comment that “maybe she was Indian,” was made. Sometimes those comments fanned the flames of myths that took hold like wildfire and are reflected today in many online trees. The “maybe” became quickly omitted and the comment was elevated from the realm of speculation to gospel.

Mary Younger was born about 1766, probably in either Essex or King and Queen County to Marcus Younger and his wife, Susannah whose surname we don’t know. Therefore, Susannah would have been born between 1720 and 1746.

There’s a persistent rumor that Susannah’s surname was Hart and there is some reason to suspect that it may have been, but the bottom line is that we don’t know.

If Susannah’s surname IS Hart, we don’t know which Hart individual was her father, although Anthony Hart (1755-1832) and Marcus Younger were both associated with one Robert Hart, believed to be Anthony’s father, but that too is unproven. The King and Queen County courthouse burned and that’s where the Hart land was located, so most records are gone. Bummer.

There is some amount of suspicion that Anthony Hart and Susannah that married Marcus Younger were siblings. To make matters even worse, Marcus and Susannah Younger’s son, John Younger married Lucy Hart – so autosomal DNA from that line will match the Hart line and not (necessarily) because of Susannah. Therefore, John Younger’s line can’t be used for comparisons to the Hart line for either mitochondrial or autosomal. However, cousin Lynn’s DNA as Mary Younger’s direct matrilineal descendant can be utilized for both mitochondrial and autosomal comparisons.

What we do know, from Mary Younger’s mitochondrial DNA alone is that Susannah through her matrilineal line was NOT Native American. Haplogroup H1a3a is European, unquestionably European.

We can dispel that Native American myth forever, at least about this particular line.

Lynn’s H1a3a Matches

What can we tell about haplogroup H1a3a and in particular, Lynn’s matches?

Mary Younger matches map

None of Lynn’s three exact matches have completed their geographical information for their most distant known ancestor. These match maps are such powerful tools if people would only complete the information.

Other than the three with no information, so aren’t shown on the map – the matches on the map in the US aren’t terribly relevant unless specific clusters suggest a particular migration path. In this case, nothing of note, although those 3 Canadian maritime matches are curious. I don’t know if there is any useful information there or not.

However, Europe is different, because those matches are fairly tightly clustered.

All of Lynn’s matches are either in the British Isles or in Scandinavia. This could suggest either that descendants of her ancestors, hundreds or thousands of years ago migrated to both locations, or it could mean that the English locations are perhaps showing a Viking influence.

Lynn’s matches themselves are unremarkable other than the fact that her only rare mutation occurs in the coding region, which means that we really do need the full sequence test to make use of this information. She has 107 full sequence matches, of which three are exact, providing the following most distant ancestor information.

  • Martha Patsy Terry was born in 1805 in North Carolina and died after 1865 in Alabama
  • Sarah Emma Doyle was born in 1824 in Fayette County, TN and died in 1890 in Cass Co., Texas.
  • The third match says “information needed.” Well, me too😊

The only person with one mutation difference shows their most distant ancestor with a name and birth of 1534. They apparently misunderstood what was being asked, because if you look at their tree, their most distant matrilineal ancestor is Margaret Moore born in NC, died in Texas, and who had daughter Dicie Moore in 1830 in Tennessee.

Unfortunately, these matches aren’t terribly helpful either, at least not today.

Two of the three exact matches have trees which I checked for the surname of Hart and Younger and looked for geographic proximity.

Checking advanced matches by selecting both Family Finder and the Full Sequence mitochondrial matches shows no individual who matches on both tests.

Haplogroup H1a3a

If Lynn’s mtDNA matches aren’t being productive, what can I tell about haplogroup H1a3a itself?

Doron Behar in his 2012 paper placed the age of H1a3a at 3859 years, give or take 1621 years, so therefore haplogroup H1a3a was born between 1238 and 6480 years ago. An exact match with no additional mutations could be from long ago. Fortunately, Lynn does have a few additional mutations, so her exact matches share mutations since the birth of haplogroup H1a3a.

Using the Family Tree DNA mitochondrial tree and searching for H1a3a, we discover the following information.

Mary Younger H1a3a

Haplogroup H1a3a is found in a total of 21 countries. The most common location is Germany, which isn’t reflected in Lynn’s matches.

Mary Younger mtDNA countries

This is especially interesting, because it suggests that the haplogroup itself may have spread from the Germanic region of Europe into both England and Sweden. Lynn’s matches are only found in those diaspora regions, not in Germany itself. To me, this also suggests that the people still in Germany have accrued several mutations as compared to Mary Younger’s DNA. They are no longer considered a match since their common ancestor is far enough back in time that they have accumulated several mutations difference from cousin Lynn today. Conversely, the people closer in time that share some of those mutations do qualify as matches.

And no, haplogroup H1a3a is not Native American, in spite of the one person who had indicated such (the feather icon.) Many people record “American” or “Native American” because they believe, before testing, that they have Native American on “that side,” as opposed in that specific line. Of course, the maternal side could mean any one of many ancestors – as opposed to the matrilineal line which is directly your mother’s mother’s mother’s line until you run out of direct line mothers in your tree.

What we know now is that sometime between 1200 and 6500 years ago, the haplogroup defining mutations between H1a3 and H1a3a occurred, probably someplace in Germanic Europe. From there, people migrated to both the British Isles and portions of Scandinavia.

Given that we find Susannah in the early 1700s in King and Queen County, Virginia, it would be a reasonable working hypothesis that she was English (or at least from the British Isles) and not Scandinavian. Alexander Younger, the grandfather of Marcus Younger was from Scotland and many of the early era colonial settlers in that region were English.

Hopefully, time and more DNA testers will eventually tell more of Susannah’s tale – either through mitochondrial or autosomal DNA matches, or both.

What About You?

If you haven’t yet tested your mitochondrial DNA, now would be a great time. In fact, you can click here to order the mtFull test. Who knows what you might learn. Are there specific questions you’d like to answer about dead end female lines? Mitochondrial DNA is one way to circumvent a surname/genealogical blockade – at least partially.

If you don’t carry the mitochondrial DNA line that you need, sponsor a test for a cousin. You’ll get to meet a really cool person to share information with, like Lynn, and learn about your common genealogical bond as well as your ancestor’s DNA.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on the link to one of the vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay, but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

William Sterling Estes’ Court Martial and Escape; 3 Wives and 4 Aliases – 52 Ancestors #217

Oh yea, this cliff-hanger installment in the mystery series better known as “Dad’s Better-Than-Any-Soap-Opera Life” is a doosey!

I’ve been trying for years to piece my father’s life together, and slowly, the puzzle pieces fall into the place. However, it doesn’t feel like one puzzle, but a schizophrenic mixture of several puzzles that all have the same shaped pieces but different pictures on the front.

I’m chronically confused by his life, events and choices. Nonetheless, I persevere, because I really want to unearth the truth which, I hope, can serve to unlock some understanding of this man who passed from this earth when I was but a child.

I knew that my father had served in the military. Initially I thought it was once, then twice – once during WWI and WWII. Then, I discovered that it was twice during WWI, then a third enlistment was added. Tidbits about my father’s life tended to creep up on me like that – a slow drip of truth confounded by lots of obfuscation and drama.

I was confused – very confused, and to complicate matters even further, his service records burned in the 1973 National Personnel Records Center fire in St. Louis Missouri. Then, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1991, his medical records from the veterans facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana were forwarded to the Dayton, Ohio Record Center for storage in 1960 and that all records prior to 1964 had been destroyed – and that they were sorry.

Not nearly as sorry as I was.

I guess high drama even followed him around AFTER his death in 1963. I remember hearing about the St. Louis fire, vaguely, but I had absolutely no inkling at the time how adversely it would affect my ability to unravel the life of my father years later.

When I did find out, I wrote letter after letter and tried to obtain what scraps I could. When I was mostly unsuccessful, I figured that was it. Finished. Done. That chapter forever closed. At least that’s what I had been told by all the government agencies and had accepted as truth.

I was wrong.

Twisted Twigs on Gnarled Branches

When Twisted Twigs on Gnarled Branches Genealogy ran a special for record retrieval and reconstruction, I figured that it couldn’t hurt and might be fruitful. They knew where to look, and how, and I didn’t.

A few weeks later, I received at least a few of my father’s records and while I was saddened by the contents, I wasn’t surprised. What I’d hoped for was some additional detail. There wasn’t nearly as much detail as I wanted, but at least there was something. Genealogists NEVER find “enough” details😊

Some tidbits solved long-standing puzzles. Some begged new questions – but all of it was interesting, including the fact that they had archived the original letter I’d written back in 1991, adding it to his file, when they clearly HAD this information and DIDN’T send it to me then. How startling to see my own handwriting in his file.

First, I sent Twisted Twigs all of the information that I had compiled. No use replowing the same field.

I’ll spare you the details of the paperwork flow, but the information Twisted Twigs received was that court martial records should be in the archives in College Park, MD and that the case number was 138991. Court martial records had not been stored in St. Louis!

Hurray!!!!

Queasy

Then, I felt queasy. My father had a court martial number.

A court martial number.

me and dad crop

This man, the father who held me in my childhood and left me far too soon.

The man I adored, and grieved, had been court martialed.

That was tough. Sickeningly tough. Nauseatingly tough.

The Army

My father also had two service numbers: 0900796 and 21585201, but he enlisted three times.

  • Service from August 24, 1917 to May 19, 1919
  • Service from May 20, 1919 – Nov. 26, 1921
  • Service at Fort Sheridan, Illinois

His third enlistment at Fort Sheridan began on January 8, 1927. He deserted on May 23rd of that same year, but he wasn’t discharged until October 31, 1938 – 11 years later?

That’s bizarre.

Why? What was going on?

What new origami puzzle is waiting to unfold?

First Enlistment

The first document in the Twisted Twigs document packet was the May 1919 discharge from my father’s initial enlistment.

Two items are of note.

First, he was in some kind of trouble, because he forfeited 2/3rds of his pay for one month.

Keep reading however, because under remarks, we see why:

  • AWOL Nov 11, 1918 (Thursday) to Nov. 20, 1918 (Saturday)
  • AWOL from Feb. 10, 1919 (Monday) to Feb. 12, 1919 (Wednesday)
  • AWOL from April 4 (Friday) or 11 (Friday,) 1919 (I can’s make out which date is correct) to April 13, 1919 (Sunday)

Hmmm, apparently, my father had a bit of an AWOL (absent without leave) problem.

Also of note, we discover the location of his original enlistment at Lafayette, Indiana. I already knew that he initially trained at Fort Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis after enlistment, but I was never positive where he had actually enlisted.

I do have signatures of my father, but I have another one here.

The great irony is that he immediately re-enlisted at Camp Custer in Battle Creek, Michigan the day after he was discharged.

LPC-015-029-002A[1]

Camp Custer still stands, although it was deserted and hollow a few years ago when I visited.

Camp Custer Battle Creek - Copy (2)

Perhaps that $60 re-enlistment bonus, especially after forfeiting 2/3rds of his pay might have had something to do with it. His actual monthly pay was a whopping $49, according to this document, of which he sacrificed $30?

Where the heck was he when he was AWOL? I expected those AWOL dates to be weekends, but there is no consistent pattern. I thought perhaps a relative had died back in Claiborne County, but I don’t see any evidence of that either.

Maybe he had met Virgie and was going back and forth to Indiana? Nope, not until the summer of 1919.

Perhaps my father’s drinking problem was escalating. That’s more likely.

Second Enlistment

My father’s second enlistment ended a bit differently. He was Honorably Discharged from Fort Leavenworth on November 26, 1921 when his term of service expired.

Aren’t the words “honorably discharged” and “Fort Leavenworth” oxymorons? Polar opposites?

This time, he requested travel pay back to Tazewell, TN, where his parents were from originally and where his father was living at that time.

But, based on other records, it doesn’t appear that he actually went to Tazewell. Instead, he went back to Battle Creek, Michigan where Camp Custer, also known as Fort Custer, where he had been serving before going to Leavenworth was located.

Ilo Bailey

What was happening in my father’s life during this time that might have had something to do with his decision to become AWOL?

Ilo Bailey, that appears to have been what happened.

On February 24, 1920, Ilo had a son, Lee Joseph Estes. Using a pregnancy calculator, Lee’s conception most probably occurred between May 26 and June 2, 1919. These dates of course presume a pregnancy of normal duration.

These dates may also explain why my father re-enlisted on May 20th, and they might also have something to do with his AWOL status in April. He may have been quite smitten with Ilo and wanted to stay in the vicinity.

On November 4th, 1919, he was AWOL and a month later, on December 3, 1919, he married Ilo in Battle Creek under an assumed name, Don Caroles who he claimed was from New Mexico.

When I initially discovered this marriage, I wondered why the alias. It seemed so bizarre. Now we know. He was AWOL. However, his mother’s name is listed as Mary Claxton. Margaret Claxton was his grandmother on his mother’s side. Even more interesting, Ilo’s mother is listed as Ollie Bolton, which was my father’s mother by her maiden name. I’m taking this as evidence that Ilo’s family did not approve of this marriage and the couple probably married without her family’s knowledge and/or consent.

This also makes me wonder if Ollie was somehow involved and may have gone along, posing as Ilo’s mother. Ilo, at 19, was surely old enough to sign for herself to marry. The problem was that Ilo wasn’t actually 19, she was 17, underage and pregnant, so perhaps Ollie was along as her “mother” to vouch for the fact that she was 19 and old enough to marry.

My father, aka Don Caroles, is listed as “in the service,” even though he’s AWOL. This could be a clear indication that he never intended to actually desert and still considered himself a soldier. As you’ll see in a bit, this may seem irrelevant or trivial, but it has important ramifications.

Otherwise, why would he make that declaration about being in the service? And why would he stay in the same town if he actually wanted to desert? People from Camp Custer were sure to see and recognize him there.

Interestingly enough, he’s also listed in the 1920 census, taken on January 14, 1920 where he as Don and Ilo, age 17, are living with her mother, Maud at 221 East Avenue North.

Here’s the property today.

The Battle Creek property tax system indicates that this home was built in 1920 and is a 5 room, two bedroom house, but was it built before or after he lived there? If he lived there, it was relatively new and that’s not likely given the circumstances.

If he was living in this house with his very pregnant bride and her family, it was cozy quarters indeed. Furthermore, given that they were living with her mother, it doesn’t appear that her family was estranged, at least not at this point. Perhaps he was helping to take care of her mother and her three siblings too.

Research reveals that Ilo’s father died on March 28, 1917, so her mother would have been left as a widow to raise the children alone. This puts the statement recorded in legal documents that “her people couldn’t” provide for her in a different light than meaning they wouldn’t care for Ilo. There’s a big difference between can’t and won’t.

It still doesn’t explain Ilo’s letter in March of 1921 to Dad stating that she had sacrificed the love of her family for him.

However, that’s not the only thing going on in his life, as if this wasn’t enough.

Martha Dodder

Dad had met Martha Dodder too.

We know from my half-sister Edna, daughter of Dad and Martha, that they met while he was hospitalized in the Camp Custer Hospital, shown below, with the attached YMCA building where families and volunteers came to comfort the ill or wounded soldiers.

Among other things, the YMCA provided soldiers with paper, envelopes and postage so they could write to their loved ones. My father’s letters to Virgie were written on YMCA stationery. It’s probably in this very building that he met Martha.

Dad was admitted to the hospital on or before August 7 and remained through August 30, 1919. His illness may have started with the flu epidemic, but it quickly morphed into something much worse and life threatening.

Image result for camp custer guard house photo

From his letters to a third girlfriend, Virgie, in Indiana, whom he met in June 1919, he literally thought he was going to die. He had previously proposed to Virgie, but her letters had dwindled to once a month while he was hospitalized, and he clearly knew that something was amiss in that relationship. In those letters, he had told her that he had broken it off with the previous girlfriend in Michigan, who would have (presumably) been Ilo.

His health deteriorated. From August 7th until at least August 30th he was hospitalized with either meningitis or encephalitis following a tonsillectomy.

My half-sister, Edna Estes, shown with her mother, Martha Dodder, below, was born on May 22, 1920.

The conception calculator (that’s getting a workout thanks to Dad) tells us that Edna was probably conceived between August 12, 1919 and August 29, 1919 but possibly as late as September 3rd.

He had broken up with Ilo, been ghosted by Virgie, had surgery, spent a month in the hospital, thought he was dying and clearly took comfort with Martha.

Surname Manipulation

If you’re wondering how Edna’s last name was Estes if he was married to Ilo at the time Edna was born, that too appears to be a clever construction of my father’s somewhat devious cunning. If nothing else, he was ingenious.

Purely guessing now, but given that at the time of Edna’s birth he was in the midst of being court martialed and was married to another woman with an infant 3 months old, he probably speculated that the judge might not look kindly on his leniency request if the judge knew that my father had indeed gotten two different women “in trouble” 3 months apart. Yep, that judge might, just might, view this behavior as a character flaw and decide to throw the book at him. And since the consequences of violating article 58 under which he was being court martialed were “up to and including death,” the outcome was incredibly important. So, Dad apparently successfully convinced Martha to protect him. I would like to have been a fly on that wall!

Edna’s original birth certificate, at the time she was born, listed her father as Edward Polushink and her name was listed as Edna Marie Polushink. No one in the family knew about this original birth certificate, nor had anyone ever heard the name Edward Polushink when the birth certificate was accidentally discovered after Martha’s passing.

After my father married Martha Dodder in 1921, they petitioned to have the birth certificate amended, and today, Edna’s birth certificate lists William Sterling Estes as her father which DNA testing of her granddaughter subsequently confirmed.

The dead give-away is that Edna’s birth certificate is listed in the official clerk’s book, not in the date order of the other birth records as babies were born, but on the date that the record was changed, in 1922. The clerk had a great deal of difficulty finding Edna’s birth record due to the out of order recording, which is also how that original record was discovered. The original was listed in the correct date location but was stricken through.

Timeline

I just can’t keep events like these straight without a timeline, not to mention that timelines help me visualize more accurately and see “holes” in things, literally or figuratively.

  • October 1, 1901 or 1902 – William Sterling Estes is born based on census and family records. Could possibly be 1903 but less likely.
  • August 24, 1917 – First military enlistment – age 13 or 14, falsified age
  • October 1, 1917 – 14th or 15th birthday
  • October 1, 1918 – 15th or 16th birthday
  • First Enlistment AWOL Nov 11, 1918 (Thursday) to Nov. 20, 1918 (Saturday)
  • First Enlistment AWOL from Feb. 10, 1919 (Monday) to Feb. 12, 1919 (Wednesday)
  • First Enlistment AWOL from April 4 (Friday) or 11 (Friday,) 1919 to April 13, 1919 (Sunday).
  • May 19, 1919 – First enlistment complete, honorable discharge
  • May 20, 1919 – Enlisted for the second time at Camp Custer in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • May 26 – June 2, 1919 – Ilo Bailey’s son conceived
  • June 25, 1919 – First letter to Virgie whom he had recently met in Indiana, states he has broken up with the former girlfriend
  • June-August 1919 – Has proposed to Virgie. Is taking her an engagement ring when he gets out of hospital.
  • August 7 – 30, 1919 – Hospitalized, flu, pneumonia and eventually either meningitis or encephalitis, meets Martha Dodder who is a volunteer at the hospital
  • August 1919 – Virgie not writing back according to his letters which she kept
  • August 30, 1919 – Letter to Virgie with entirely different tone, understands that her lack of communication means the end, says goodbye, terribly saddened, but leaves the door open
  • August 12 – September 3, 1919 – Conception dates for Edna Estes, daughter with Martha Dodder
  • October 1, 1919 – 16th or 17th birthday
  • Second Enlistment AWOL – November 4, 1919
  • November 18, 1919 – Status changed from AWOL to desertion (this changed his legal status from Article 62 AWOL to Article 58 desertion)
  • December 3, 1919 – Marriage to Ilo Bailey in Battle Creek using assumed name of Don Caroles. Ilo is 6 months pregnant.
  • February 24, 1920 – Ilo’s son, Lee Joseph Estes born
  • April 7, 1920 – Arrested for desertion/AWOL in Battle Creek, confined to the guard house at Camp Custer
  • May 20, 1920 – Martha’s daughter, Edna Estes born as he is being court martialed. He is still married to Ilo.
  • May 20 through August, 1920 – Court Martial proceedings
  • August 1920 – Court Martial sentencing
  • August 1920 – November 1921 – Fort Leavenworth performing hard labor
  • October 1, 1920 – 17th or 18th birthday while in Leavenworth
  • March 22, 1921 – Ilo letter saying she is leaving the state with the baby and has sacrificed the love of her parents for him and their marriage was never legal. Perhaps this is why a line was at some time drawn through the marriage record in the clerk’s marriage book.
  • October 1, 1921 – 18th or 19th birthday while in Leavenworth
  • November 26, 1921 – Term of service ended, honorably discharged from Fort Leavenworth
  • December 12, 1921 – Marriage to Martha Dodder in Battle Creek, 2 weeks and 2 days after leaving Leavenworth
  • October 1, 1922 – 19th or 20th birthday, married to Martha and living in Battle Creek
  • September 5, 1923 – Martha files for divorce stating that he “loafs around doing nothing and she has to go out to work.” (Was he the original stay-at-home Dad?) Both are seeking a divorce and she alleges the legally required phrase of “extreme cruelty” in order to obtain a divorce in Michigan at that time.
  • October 1, 1923 – 20th or 21st birthday, in process of getting divorced from Martha
  • February 26, 1924 – Divorce from Martha final in Battle Creek
  • October 1, 1924 – 21st or 22nd birthday – who knows where the heck he is? His two children are living with their mothers and he isn’t living with or married to either mother anymore.

That’s a lot of ground to cover by your 21st or 22nd birthday. One heck of a lot!

But that’s not the half of it.

Court Martial

Reading your father’s court martial is brutal. I was torn between wanting to know and not wanting to look. This would be a lot easier if this history was a couple of generations removed, and much less personal.

For God’s sake, this is my FATHER. Half of me is from him, but hopefully not the AWOL half.

I need to read this and try to unravel what happened. Perhaps I can understand why.

The investigation, above, recommended that my father be court martialed, and that’s exactly what happened. He was to be charged with a violation of the 58th Article of War.

ART. 58. DESERTION.–Any person subject to military law who deserts or attempts to desert the service of the United States shall, if the offense be committed in time of war, suffer death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, and, if the offense be committed at any other time, any punishment, excepting death, that a court-martial may direct.

Death?

DEATH?

My father was messing around with an offense that could result in a death sentence? Where they stand you up against the wall and your fellow soldiers line up and shoot you point blank.

What the bloody hell was he thinking?

This document was followed by 22 typed legal pages of testimony, much of it having to do with the morning reports in barracks, shown below, and the process that soldiers used to obtain passes.

Camp Custer Battle Creek - Copy (3)

Clearly, my father did not obtain or attempt to obtain a pass. The court martial also includes details such as that there was nothing missing, meaning no equipment or clothes had been taken when he was not present for the morning report. In other words, he hadn’t stolen anything from the government and it goes as evidence to suggest that he wasn’t planning to desert. He was just a few months late returning, that’s all.

Right!

He apparently was cooperative and said little. He said nothing about disliking the service or military at any time, according to the testimony from various people.

During the proceedings, my father answered questions respectfully, with “Yes Sir” and “No Sir.”

Reading the transcripts of the trial, several tidbits were revealed.

Question to his commanding officer: Was the accused ever in trouble in the company?

A: Well I believe he would go downtown and stay late and that is about all.

Q: What is your opinion of his character?

A: He seemed to be a very good soldier.

That’s so sad. It’s also worth noting that he was a Sergeant at one point, but ultimately was discharged as a Private.

The police officer, Edward Abbey, who arrested my father was tipped off by two ex-soldiers who spotted him along with his (presumed) wife, baby and another female at the Majestic Theater in Battle Creek.

The officer waited until the movie was over, then stopped him on the way out, put his hand on him, and asked if he was a deserter. My father replied no, that he wasn’t, but the officer took him to the station to question him.

Based on the testimony, there is apparently a difference in the classification of someone who is absent without leave (Article 61) and a deserter (Article 58.) The primary difference between the two offences is “the intent to remain away permanently” or if the purpose is to shirk important duty, such as combat. If a person intends to return to “military control,” then they are AWOL and not a deserter – even if they are away for years. For the first 30 days, the unit attempts to locate the soldier and convince them to return to the unit.

Oh yea, one other tiny difference. AWOL doesn’t carry the death penalty as a possibility – so it would have been important to have him convicted as AWOL and not as having deserted. Much safer for his neck that way.

So my father was just late – really, really late.

Today, at the 30 day mark, the soldier becomes “a wanted person” and their status changes to deserter. At that time, the line in the sand may not have been as clear. Anyone AWOL for more than 30 days is tried by court martial.

Given this distinction, the several pages of testimony by various individuals regarding the fact that my father was wearing at least a partial uniform when arrested and never left the area provides evidence that he may have not actually intended to permanently desert. When I first read this document, that repeated testimony seemed unnecessary overkill, but now I understand why so much focus was placed on that seemingly trivial information.

In essence, desertion requires intent while being AWOL does not. Although being gone for 5 months indicates that he made the same bad decision to be AWOL for roughly 150 consecutive days. However, every day was a new decision while a deserter makes one decision, once, and carries it out. A deserter likely leaves the area immediately to minimize chances of being caught, and he didn’t do that either.

So either he really didn’t intend to actually desert, or he was incredibly short-sighted – to put it nicely.

At the police station, my father apparently freely admitted that he had “left the army without permission” which is technically AWOL and not desertion. He denied being a deserter. He obviously knew the technical difference.

At the time my father was apprehended, he was wearing civilian clothes that mostly covered up his military issued uniform. According to the arresting officer, “I noticed his uniform pants because his civilian pants had a three cornered hole in them. He had on a dark colored civilian coat.” He was not wearing military leggings which you can see in the following picture of him kissing Virgie.

Based on letters he had written to Virgie during the time when they were briefly engaged in the summer of 1919, he was trying to figure out how they could live on his soldier’s pay. He commented that he didn’t need non-military clothes because the Army would provide his clothing. I’m wondering if the reason he was wearing his military garb under other clothes is because he only had one civilian outfit (with a tear in the leg) and he needed the layers for warmth. Wearing military issue simply increases the odds that someone will notice and recognize you, which is the last thing you want if you are a deserter. Or AWOL.

These pieces don’t all add up. Had he always intended to go back “tomorrow?” Yet each tomorrow looked increasingly bleak in terms of the consequences?

He had never left Battle Creek during the 5 months he was AWOL, so clearly wasn’t trying very hard to hide. He had been driving a team for someone, meaning a team of horses. And he was wearing a uniform, or at least pieces of his uniform in the town beside the military base where he was AWOL from. I have to wonder at his thought process.

The night he was apprehended, the officer said that there was a woman at the station without the baby, and a woman at city hall with a baby. Ilo could simply have had her friend take care of the baby while she waited for him. Or, maybe, the two women waiting separately were pregnant Martha and Ilo with baby Lee. If that was the case, then incarceration might have sounded like the best of two bad options and much safer than the explosion that might have resulted had Martha and Ilo met.

Or perhaps, they had met and his goose was already cooked in more than one pot.

During the court martial proceedings, my father stated that he did not wish to make a statement or testify on his own behalf. There really wasn’t much he could say.

Counsel for defense closing argument:

“The defense wishes the court to take into consideration that the accused has a wife and a 2 or 3 month old baby with no means of support and the accused asks that the court show leniency.”

The Judge Advocate read that there were no previous convictions and read my father’s statement of service that omitted his prior service enlistment, which he brought to the attention of the judge.

Fortunately, the Judge Advocate took pity on him and the sentence was modified, the dishonorable discharge order suspended and the hard labor being reduced from 18 months to just 6.

Ahhh, it looks like Dad got a break and the judge remarked that he was not determined to be guilty of desertion, simply AWOL. Six months for AWOL versus 18 for desertion. Maybe those old Army clothes he was wearing, for whatever the reason, saved his skin.

Hard labor at that time meant exactly what it implied – working rock quarrys, building roads or laboring on docks. Or, perhaps, building state or government buildings, like the prisons themselves.

The next document is an amended sentence.

The original sentence was for 18 months of hard labor, but this document says 6 months. He had been granted the leniency he requested.

It appears that the Adjutant General has a significant amount of discretion. There’s a difference between this type of case and one of desertion under fire that jeopardizes the lives of other soldiers. While there appears to be no justification for the choice he made, it’s still not comparable to defecting to the enemy or risking the lives of others.

Still, the fact that he would have done something that even MIGHT result in his own death sentence boggles my mind.

BUT, my father actually DID serve more than six months, and the reason why will astound you!

More Confusion

Then, the most confusing document of all was dated the day of his sentencing:

Let’s take this apart piece by piece.

  • Born in New Mexico, October 1, 1898? We already know that he “modified” his birth year significantly to enlist in the service. He was born in either 1901 or 1902. But he was NOT born in New Mexico. Why did he say that? What don’t we know?
  • Raised in urban environment by parents. That’s not true either. He was raised on farms and his parents divorced.
  • Quit school at age of 16. Assuming he attended school until he enlisted in 1917, that means he would have quit school at the age of enlistment of 14 or 15.
  • Claims that he was in second year of Carlyle Indian School at the time.

I’m dumbstruck at this claim which is clearly patently false. Why would he make this up?

The Carlisle Indian School was a “boarding school” for Native American students with the intention of removing them from the “Native influences” of their family and community and mainstreaming their assimilation into the Europeanized version of American life by depriving them of their culture and language.

My father was quite dark and our family had an oral history of Native heritage, so I’m not surprised that he could pull this off.

As fate would have it, a few years ago I transcribed the entire list of Carlisle Indian School residents, including the list from the school itself and from the National Archives, neither of which are individually complete. There is no Estes on this list. There is also no Don Caroles or anything similar. For those interested, I wrote about the records here.

Other information includes:

  • He worked as a fireman on the Grand Trunk Railroad. If he did this, I don’t know when it would have been. Firemen on the railroads tended the fire for the running of a boiler to power the steam engine.
By Elsie esq. – Copied from en:Image:Boiler man.jpg. Original image from flickr, URL: [1] flickr image ID: 7708375_03dd1f7439.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3829347

His job in the Army was at one point listed as fireman as was the 1920 census entry, so this is at least believable. It may be the only remotely true statement made by him in this sentencing memorandum.

  • He was about 5 months before being apprehended. True.
  • He denies use of alcohol, drugs and civil offences.

Alcohol probably played a factor in this situation, one way or another. Either that, or he got himself so head-over-heels in trouble that he drank to drown those problems. Of course, then alcohol would have made the problems even worse. He had a drinking problem which I believe started as a child when he was fed alcohol by his parents to ease hunger pangs when the family had no food.

  • He was convicted of AWOL and escape and given a sentence of 18 months.

But wasn’t his sentence reduced to 6 months, from 18?

Wait?

What?

ESCAPE???

What escape?

  • Prisoner’s statement is that he had got a young girl into trouble and married her and as her people were unable to support her he went AWOL to do so.

So, he finally tells us why, or at least a sanitized version of why. Is it a reason or an excuse?

As sad as this sounds, it’s likely at least partially true, given the nature and commentary of the Ilo letter that she wrote as a form of “Dear John” letter a few months later while he was serving his time at Fort Leavenworth. Not that she didn’t have cause (think Martha Dodder), but it’s sad nonetheless that he was incarcerated in Leavenworth as a result of taking care of her (and his child) but she left him by leaving town while he was serving the sentence.

Keep in mind that in 1919, my father was all of 17 years old, possibly 18, had gotten himself into one whale of a mess, had no family to turn to and no resources to help. A 17-year-old with a wife who was reportedly estranged from her family because of him, and a newborn baby.

By the time this statement was taken, he also had a second child with Martha who was born on the day his court martial began. It’s unclear whether the two women knew about each other or each other’s children. Furthermore, Virgie, whom he proposed to in the summer of 1919 was long gone although I don’t think he every stopped loving her – given that he married her 42 years later in 1961.

In other words, in 1919, he was a hot mess.

Lastly, he had survived a hospitalization in August that had very nearly taken his life and may have left him with some level of residual brain damage that exacerbated his poor decision making. Not to mention, the US was engaged in a war. Nope. No stress there.

  • Physical condition good.
  • Low-average intellect.

I wonder how they decided his intellect was low-average. He made very poor decisions, but he was not an intellectually impaired or stupid man by any means. Again, I wonder about brain damage from the August 1919 hospitalization.

  • Fair emotional stability.

I sure would like to know the criteria for this assessment. From the distance of 99 years, I’d say he was a train wreck!

  • Not recommended for the Battalion July 27, 1920, because of no desire for further military service.

But then, there’s that escape…

Escape? What Escape?

Just when I think my father is done surprising me, there’s more.

“While awaiting the results of trial, the prisoner escaped confinement on or about June 2nd.”

I’m.

Just.

Speechless.

He escaped custody?

After his trial?

Inside a military base?

What on earth was he thinking?

How far did he get?

How long was he gone?

I was so stunned by the “escape” that I nearly missed the rest of the information on this page that tells us that he never served overseas. I had never seen evidence that he did, but it’s nice to have confirmation.

What does it mean that he’s “not recommended for the Battalion?”

In the Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 4, No. 6 (Mar., 1914), pp. 918-920 (3 pages,) the difference between a Disciplinary Barracks and a prison is set forth. The barracks hopes to reform military offenders whose offences are only military in nature. To that end, for prisoners whose merit warrants, they are allowed the privilege of being assigned to a special unit (battalion) to receive military training for a portion of the time that would otherwise be devoted to hard labor. He did not qualify for that privilege. In part, that might have been because his term of service would expire while he was at Leavenworth, so he would have no time left to serve.

The last statement was:

  • Clemency is not recommended.

No kidding. He blew that opportunity with his escape attempt and his reduced sentence of 6 months was reinstated to the original 18. Someplace he had also lost his officer status. He had been granted clemency, and then he subsequently lost it by his bone-headed escape. He made his own bad situation, literally, three times worse. I don’t think this man was firing on all cylinders. I truly do wonder about the meningitis or encephalitis from 1919 having a detrimental effect on his logical decision making ability.

Was he suffering from a brain injury? He went from being “a good soldier” to this. The change is like Jekyll and Hyde. What happened?

Amazingly, they did not reduce his discharge to dishonorable.

Maybe there is more to this story that we don’t know – something like he went out drinking with his guard buddies. Maybe his escape wasn’t quite like it appears. But we’ll never know.

I can’t imagine any soldier that was both AWOL and having escaped being given an honorable discharge under any normal circumstances. There must have been some sort of extenuating circumstances.

But then again, this is my father and “normal” has never been a word associated with him or even one day of his life.

Fort Leavenworth

I’ve heard of Fort Leavenworth, but what is it really?

First, Fort Leavenworth is a military base, but it’s better known for the prison, or prisons, actually.

Two Fort Leavenworth prisons exist, the Federal Penitentiary and the military United States Disciplinary Barracks. That’s where my father was sent.

The original military prison building was built in 1877 with a second additional building, below, being completed about 1921. Inmates at this older facility were used in the construction of the second building and the Federal Prison by the same name which was located nearby and completed about the same time.

Perhaps now we know the “hard labor” to which my father was assigned. This mustard colored building with the barred windows may have been his home. Somehow very ironic to build your own prison. Did he live in the new one too?

The original Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) was Fort Leavenworth’s biggest and tallest building sitting on top of a hill at the corner of McPherson Avenue and Scott Avenue overlooking the Missouri River. The largest buildings of the original barracks (“The Castle”) were torn down in 2004.

You can see a photo of the original building and cells, here. Note the pile of rocks by the shed that would have been quarried by the inmates.

The old domed building was nicknamed “Little Top” in contrast to the domed federal prison 2 1⁄2 miles south which was nicknamed the “Big Top”. The walls and ten of the buildings in the original location remain and have been converted to other uses at the Fort.

The original prison was 12 acres and the walls were from 16 to 41 feet high. Given the timing of the construction of this facility, it’s certainly possible that he worked on this wall, or others similar.

In 2002, Gail Dillon of Airman magazine wrote:

A visitor would immediately notice the medieval ambiance of this institution – the well-worn native stone and brick walls constructed by long-forgotten inmates when ‘hard labor’ meant exactly that – have witnessed thousands of inmates’ prayers, curses, and pleas over the past 128 years” and that entering the facility was “like stepping back in time or suddenly being part of a kitschy movie set about a prison bust.”

Given that my father was sentenced in 1920, it’s quite likely that he helped build the complex above (mostly torn down in 2004), those prison walls, as well as the Federal Penitentiary below.

By Americasroof – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8727865

He was discharged from the Disciplinary Barracks on November 26th of 1921, two days after Thanksgiving, with travel money to return to Tazewell, TN. Of course, that doesn’t mean that’s where he went.

We already know that 16 days later, he married Martha Dodder in Battle Creek, Michigan. Maybe he hoped to start anew, with a clean slate, and raise his daughter.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

Third Enlistment

And, because twice in the Army evidently wasn’t enough for him, he had to go for enlistment number 3, but not for another 5 years and two months.

Where was he for those 5 years?

We know that he married Martha Dodder in Battle Creek on December 12, 1921 and that in February 1924 their were divorce was final, so he was apparently living in Battle Creek during that time, “being lazy” according to Martha.

A subsequent report from a different source tells us that he stated that he joined the Army from Lafayette, Indiana in 1926. Given his disregard for the truth, it’s hard to know if there is any shred of validity given that I’ve have found no evidence of a 1926 enlistment.

The third enlistment document in the Twisted Twigs packet is from Fort Sheridan, Illinois, and it too is very confusing.

My father re-enlisted on January 8, 1927 at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, an induction and training center.

And yes, he did it AGAIN! He went AWOL again!

What was this man thinking? Was he even thinking?

The top clearly says “Supplemental pay roll of deserter William S. Estes, Private Company A, 2nd infantry.

Deserter

It just kills me to see that word associated with my father.

Again, let’s dissect this information.

  • Deserted at Fort Sheridan May 23, 1927
  • Due US at date of desertion
  • Due US $17.53 for T fr Ft. Leavenworth Kansas to Fort Sheridan, Ill issued by Maj C.A. Meals May 14, 1927 on T/R 191,119 May 14, 1927
  • Reimburse Appn FD 700 P 5024 A 9-7
  • Due US clo lost RS $34.03 (clo apparently means clothing)
  • Due US C&E 20.74
  • Due US for clo overdrawn at date of desertion 41.40
  • Money value of clo drawn since enlistment 103.96
  • Sol having deserted within the 1st 6 mos of enlistment
  • Last paid to April 30, 1927 by Capt. Thomas B. Kennedy FD
  • No AWOL during current enlistment

What? Fort Leavenworth again! And he hadn’t even deserted yet when he was at Fort Leavenworth this time? Wouldn’t simply being AT (or anyplace near) Fort Leavenworth have been enough of a reminder that he would have sworn never to desert, be late or even sneeze again? You’d think so.

What do we have here? Did he just miss the home boys?

My heart sunk when I saw the mention of Fort Leavenworth. Based on what I think I’m reading, he traveled from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Sheridan on May the 14th. He then deserted on May 23rd. Or, conversely, he never made it to Fort Sheridan from Leavenworth.

Fort Leavenworth is the same location where he was sent for 18 months hard labor in 1919. You’d think that after one “visit” there, he would do absolutely everything in his power never to have to set foot anyplace near there again.

So he apparently enlisted on January 8th, got into some sort of trouble that was not AWOL, according to the last line, got sent back to Leavenworth for no more than 4 months where he had “resided” previously in 1921, returned to Fort Sheridan and then permanently deserted 9 days later on May 23rd.

He was either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid, one or the other. I’m betting he carried the “risk taker” mutation in the dopamine receptor DRD4.

This time, given his actions, there is no question that he intended desertion. Yet, somehow, in some way, his record was cleared and he received a military burial and a commendation certificate from President Kennedy, not to mention a military headstone.

How did that happen, given that NARA records indicate his discharge date from this third enlistment as October 31, 1938 was “other than honorable?”

This man is truly a conundrum and a contradiction of every expectation or assumption I’ve ever held.

Twisted Twigs, Again

I contacted the fine folks at Twisted Twigs again, and asked if there was any possibility of finding records of whatever happened at Fort Sheridan that resulted in him being sent to Fort Leavenworth again after his enlistment of January 8th. Obviously, he was in some kind of serious trouble right?

Well, as it turns out, maybe not.

Kathleen, at Twisted Twigs, tells me the following:

Fort Leavenworth was and still is also a working base, as well as a detention center. Soldiers passed through there without being headed for the prison, so he was probably just in transit from base to base.

She clearly didn’t understand my father!

Soldiers would receive their travel allowances in sequence rather than all at once. The payment mentioned there would be the money issued to him to travel from there to Fort Sheridan, and apparently he never made it to Fort Sheridan.

OK, so maybe he wasn’t sent to Fort Leavenworth from Fort Sheridan because he was in some kind of trouble. How ironic if he just happened to get assigned to Leavenworth for some task or duty, given the reason he spent almost 18 months there in 1920 and 1921. Still you would think if anything would have deterred him from deserting again, it would have been the vivid reminder of seeing those walls again. How much more “in your face” could a reminder be?

Was he just working on the outside, looking in, this time? Or is there still more to this story that we just don’t know? Again, Kathleen:

I’d say there are probably more records out there buried somewhere, but his peacetime service makes it a different type of search. A lot of peacetime paperwork was routinely destroyed, because it was perceived to be of little value once shipments were received or equipment was repaired. What survives most from those times are the higher level communications, rosters, and training records.

And of course, those records could have and probably did burn in 1973 in St. Louis.

I asked if we could find any records about his deserter status, and why he wasn’t discharged until 1938, which seemed really odd to me. Why wait until 1938 to give him the boot?

We did request the court martial from this time period as well, but it was not located. It doesn’t mean that it no longer exists, it means that at this moment in time its whereabouts are unknown, and it may in fact be destroyed.

He would not have been discharged without being present. Otherwise, the army had no authority to apprehend him as a deserter. Even if he was incarcerated by civilian authorities, the army maintained ‘control’ over him. It’s possible they simply took the paperwork to the prison and discharged him there since they had finally located him. This would have been part of his service record and was most likely lost in the fire.

The fire. Always that fire! Dang that fire!

The Conundrum

Why, then, if his final military enlistment ended with a less than honorable discharge did the family receive this document upon his death?

Envelope above which held the following document.

And the burial flag from his funeral service. As it turns out, given that he had two honorable discharges, even if he had one dishonorable discharge, he might still have qualified for the flag.

And why was a military tombstone sent when requested by the family in 2003 or 2004?

Would a deserter have received these things? It never in my wildest dreams occurred to me that his discharge was “less than honorable.” Why would I have ever suspected?

Not only that, the man was a proud veteran and very active in the Red Key, Indiana American Legion post, along with the Knightstown orphan’s home. To this day, I have his well-worn American Legion hat, threadbare in places, tie and pins.

Legion hat 2

My father is so confusing!

Kathleen again:

While he had a dishonorable discharge, he also had an honorable discharge on his record. In 2004, after the fire that destroyed so much information sometimes simple proof of service was enough to obtain a headstone, and by then nobody really looked terribly closely into fragmented seventy year old records when a vet’s family made a simple headstone request. If they presented the honorable discharge pay stub from 1921, it could conceivably have flown right through.

While I’m sure the family didn’t have a pay stub from 1921, there were other things. In the records sent by Virgie, I found his second honorable discharge. That would probably have sufficed. Obviously, something did.

William Estes honorable discharge 1921

Then, after my sister, Edna’s death, her granddaughter sent me a copy of his first Honorable Discharge that has been saved by Martha all those years.

William-Estes-honorable-discharge-1919.jpg

And, the VA confirmed my father’s honorable discharges, never mentioning the third enlistment.

William Estes VA confirm of discharge

Given this documentation, you can understand why I was so shocked to discover the court martial, not to mention the third enlistment complete with dishonorable discharge. There weren’t any hints about either. I was utterly astounded, gobsmacked, not to mention heartbroken.

In spite of everything else, up until this point, I could still be proud of his military service to his country, and at such a tender age, but now that too is compromised.

Kathleen continued:

I’m not too surprised at either of those things occurring – it’s also possible that someone petitioned the Army to have his record polished up, and the commendation served as confirmation of that. Involve the right people high enough up in the food chain, and anything is possible.

Then I recalled what Aunt Margaret, his sister, said:

It was his second hitch in the service when he was in trouble that I had investigated for you after his death.

However, that letter from President Kennedy arrived within a couple weeks of his death, before Aunt Margaret had time to investigate and remedy anything. It may have simply been a “form letter” sent to the families of all deceased veterans, but that fact that Virgie received it suggests that the government themselves hadn’t put 2 and 2 together and figured out that he had a final less than honorable discharge from his third enlistment.

I’m betting neither Margaret nor Virgie knew about that third enlistment. If they did, they never breathed a word of it, and Margaret talked about everything.

My mother, who was permanently and thoroughly disgusted with my father mentioned something disdainfully about some issue being “fixed” as well, but I was never clear about what was “fixed” or why, nor did I realize how relevant that tidbit would be to me after anyone who might have known the answers was gone.

Mother’s comment about “fixing” might have been about his military record, but it also might have been about his divorce to Ellen not being final when he married Virgie – yet one more thing the women in his life had to fix and clean up. He left one messy trail.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line to all of this is that while he may not have been sent to Leavenworth as an inmate in early 1927 during the first few months of his third enlistment (or he may have, we’re not sure,) he clearly didn’t manage to get himself from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Sheridan between May 14th and 23rd. Or, he did make it back to Fort Sheridan and then deserted. Regardless, he was in a heap-o’-trouble. And he clearly, very, very clearly knew better and was already painfully aware of the consequences.

Either way, that was the last straw, so to speak, and when the military caught up with him again 11 years later in 1938, they simply dishonorably discharged him. I believe that soldiers were only sentenced to Leavenworth until the end of their enlistment, which is why he only served 17 of his 18 months in 1921.

Regardless of what happened, he was “less than honorably” discharged as the result of his third term of service. Do we have any idea, any idea at all what happened?

Next Stop – A New Alias and A New Disaster

By 1927, when he deserted from Fort Sheridan, my father had apparently learned the power of an alias and how to misbehave more successfully. This time, he didn’t stay in the same town, and he apparently didn’t wear any part of his uniform. In other words, he wasn’t just chronically AWOL, he flat out deserted with full intent.

This time, he became Paul Lamarr (LeMarr), an alias he would maintain for the next 15 years. Yes, 15 long years. How did he select that name anyway? It’s quite unique.

It’s amazing that I ever found him, but he did, inadvertently, leave a few bread crumbs and sleuths in this digital age found his trail. Amazingly, he kept his past buried for 91 years.

Just over two months after disappearing from Fort Sheridan, Illinois, on August 6, 1927, now 24 or 25 years old, Paul LaMarr wrote a bad check in Berrien County, Michigan, across Lake Michigan from Fort Sheridan. The legal proceedings also mention that he had used the alias of Art Thomas, although we don’t see that name again.

He began living as Paul LaMarr.

On that same day, Paul LaMarr married Cora Edmonds, a minor, whose mother and grandmother, both widows, were members of the celibate religious order (some would say cult) known as the House of David.

If your jaw just hit the floor, mine too. No, I can’t even begin to explain that dichotomy, so don’t ask.

The next chapter in my father’s never-ending life-long-drama, now (mostly) as Paul LaMarr, but also at least for a short while as Dr. Donald McCormack, had begun.

And….Yet ANOTHER Shoe Drops

Not only that, but Cora’s family lived in the same multi-family commune home as Bessie Boruff…someone who would one-day have a daughter named Violet, surnamed Miller, last name compliments of her step-father. I never met Violet, but my mother and sister (Edna) did and I knew that she existed – but our families lost track of each other more than half a century ago.

Was Violet my father’s child, my half sister? He, Bessie, Violet and Edna all believed so.

Violet Miller crop2

This grainy photo from the newspaper is all that I have.

I do believe we look at least somewhat alike when we were younger, but who knows if we actually do, or if I’m simply looking for the resemblance and wanting to see one. I know how easy that is to do, because I did it with my brother who was not my biological brother, Dave Estes. I’m not about to find and fall in love with a sibling again just to discover that they aren’t.

Roberta and Violet

In the collage below, Violet is at left, me center, Dad at right and two photos of Edna, my DNA-proven half sister, beneath. What do you think? You can see photos Ilo’s son Lee, here, but Lee had no children so there is no way to prove that he is my father’s child.

Dad Edna me Violet

In spite of what I think is a resemblance, Violet’s conception date, based on her birth date if she was a full term child suggests that Violet might have been conceived when my father’s whereabouts were conclusively known, meaning in jail having to do with that bad check – and not anyplace close to Bessie. There is about a 5 week discrepancy.

DNA testing would solve that mystery once and for all, but Violet, who married Elmer Bruce Golladay (originally Golliday) and then Orville Blevins, died in 2004. Yes, Violet had at least three children while married to Mr. Golliday, and yes, I would love to DNA test one of Violet’s descendants.

Truthfully, I keep hoping that one of them will test on their own and just show up on my DNA match list someplace. I’d have my answer without having to explain any of….well….this. If they match me, they get to own my father’s soap-operaesque tale too. If not, then they have a different mystery to solve.

However…

When I think about trying to contact them, and yes, I have found at least two of Violet’s family members on Facebook, I struggle with how I would ever go about explaining this situation. Plus, an intrusion of this type may not be welcome news.

Merry Christmas, grandpa got run over by a court martial. Imagine if they are a veteran or lost a family member in service. Ummm…no.

They get to become aware of a very “colorful” character not far in their past, or conversely, one of their family members may not be who they think they are/were and either scenario may be unwelcome news they didn’t ask for. If they don’t seek answers by reaching out or DNA testing on their own, I’m very hesitant to intrude with what could well amount to distressful information.

Of course, if they have already tested and don’t match me, I’ll never know. So here’s hoping that maybe one day someone in Violet’s family will become interested in genealogy and google Violet’s name.

Hopefully, after they get over the same shock that I felt, they will contact me and we, together, can solve one more mystery in my father’s life.

If they are worried that the apple didn’t fall far from the parental tree – ironically – no. My father may have made boneheaded decisions about his own life, but the women who raised his children did an awesome job! He apparently had great taste in wives because their descendants are amazing people.

Sooo, maybe Santa will bring at least one of Violet’s children or grandchildren a DNA test for Christmas and they’ll just test!

Santa, can I arrange for a delivery?

———–

Epilogue: As you might imagine, this article was very difficult to process and write. I debated for weeks about whether it should be published or not, and I published it with no small amount of reservation.

After publication, my German friend and faithful blog reader offered the following slightly edited commentary, which I found very comforting as well as enlightening. Thank you so much Chris.

Though I do not know much about your father, only your articles, I am quite confident of this conclusion: No brain damage required to explain his running away, no bad decision making. I rather fear that running away may have been the only decision he was possibly able to take at all. He had no other choice!

He ran away to military to escape his personal life, he ran away from military service, he ran away from wives and the responsibility for his babies. He ran away to alcohol to forget about himself for a while. He tried to run away from himself by changing his identity. And, as I remember from your other article, it seems that his final choice was to run away from his life.

Importantly, this does not imply that he did not at the same time truly love these women and children, including you! It was not them whom he was running away from, it was himself whom he tried to flee from.

Please feel hugged! Thank you for your openness to share these stories with us all! And let us all try to give other souls on this earth a place to stay and find peace, not to leave.

 

Lydia Brown’s 3 Daughters: Or Were They? Mitochondrial and Autosomal DNA to the Rescue – 52 Ancestors #218

There has long been speculation about what happened to Lydia Brown, the wife of William Crumley III, and when.

It doesn’t help a bit that William Crumley, her husband, was actually William Crumley the third, being named for both his father and grandfather.

William Crumley the second was born in 1767 or 1768 in Frederick County, Virginia. He married, but his wife’s name is unknown. We do, however, know that her mitochondrial DNA haplogroup is H2a1. Without any other moniker, H2a1 has in effect become her name, because I have nothing else to call her that identifies her individually.

We don’t know much about H2a1, only that she was having children by about 1786 and had her last child, Catherine Crumley was born in 1805, suggesting that H2a1 herself was born about 1766.

It was Catherine Crumley’s descendant who took the mitochondrial DNA test that provided us with H2a1. Ironic that we have her mitochondrial DNA and know her haplogroup, but not her name. Of course, we are presuming that indeed, she was William II’s only wife, meaning that her haplogroup applied to her eldest child, Susannah Crumley born about 1786 and the other 8 children born between Susannah and Catherine.

H2a1’s son, William Crumley III was born between 1785 and 1789. William would have inherited his mother’s mitochondrial DNA, H2a1, but he would not have passed it on to his children. Mitochondrial DNA is only passed on by females. William’s children would have inherited their mitochondrial DNA from his wife, their mother.

William III married Lydia Brown on October 1, 1807 in Greene County, Tennessee, where the family had moved by 1793. Lydia was the daughter of Jotham Brown and his wife Phoebe, whose surname is unknown, neighbors who lived close by.

As couples do, William III and Lydia set about starting a family right away, having their first child, the Reverend John Crumley in 1808 or 1809. John was followed by William Crumley the fourth in 1811 and Jotham Crumley in 1813. Sarah may have been a twin to Jotham, born in 1813 or she may have been born in 1815. Of course, there were no birth or death certificates back then.

In 1817, daughter Clarissa was born on April 10th.

That’s where the confusion starts.

Enter Elizabeth Johnson

Enter Elizabeth, known as Betsey, Johnson who married William Crumley in Greene County, TN on October 20, 1817.

Which William Crumley, you ask? Well, so have we, for years. In fact, it’s discussed at length, here.

Given Elizabeth’s age of approximately 17 years when she married (assuming she is who we think she is,) and the fact she was remembered as the cousin of Lydia Brown, we presumed that she married William Crumley III. William III at approximately age 35-40 was closer to her age than William II at approximate age 55 – and Lydia Brown was the wife of William III so it stood to reason that they family would know her cousins.

Seems logical, right?

Except, the next child born to William III and his wife, Lydia or Elizabeth, my ancestor, Phoebe Crumley was born on March 24th, 1818, not even 50 weeks after her sister, Clarissa had been born. Furthermore, Phoebe had been born in Claiborne County, Tennessee, near the border with Lee County, Virginia, not in Greene County where earlier children were born. Also of note, Lydia’s mother, Jotham Brown’s wife was named Phoebe.

It’s certainly possible that William Crumley III’s first wife, Lydia Brown had died and he had remarried quickly to Elizabeth Johnson, then moved to Claiborne County. Except, the dates don’t work well.

We know that Lydia Brown Crumley was alive on April 10, 1817 when Clarissa was born.

Phoebe’s mother, whoever she was, got pregnant in June of 1817, 4 months before Elizabeth Johnson married William Crumley.

Pregnancy as a motivator for marriage happens, but it seemed odd that a 34 year old man with a 2 month old child, whose wife had just died was impregnating a 17 year old girl.

I discussed all the pros and cons of the situation in the articles about Lydia Brown and Phoebe Crumley, but the only other alternative is that Elizabeth Johnson had married the elder William Crumley II. It seems even odder that a man of 50+ would be marrying a girl of 17. But that too happened. Or,