Taking Time to Say I Love You – 52 Ancestors #242

It’s Father’s Day, and of course, we’re either with our fathers or missing them.

This Father’s Day, I can’t help but think of my step-father, Dean Long.

Me Dad wedding

This is us together at my wedding. Can you tell that we utterly adored each other, without reservation?

And while this is my favorite picture of him, wearing one of only 2 suits he ever owned, that’s not how I really remember him best.

Dad was full of life and levity.


He started early as a prankster – in his teens, seen here with his never-smiling sister Verma. He had obviously done something to deserve that “disproving glare” and you can bet he was very proud of himself!

He spent his entire life “in trouble” for some kind of escapade or practical joke.


This, this is how I remember Dad, having appropriated an old cast-off coat and created a fashion-statement hat.

Dad Halloween.jpg

And this, as I was getting my kids ready to go trick or treating. They wore matching masks.

Dad Halloween daughter.jpg

Hugging my daughter. He would have laid his life down for that child and very nearly did.

Butch and Dad

His step-grandchildren had no idea he wasn’t “blood related.” They completely adored him. This baby, my son, tells me that “Pawpaw” still visits him in his dreams.

dad6 crop

Dad in his first suit, complete with wig. No, I have no idea “why.” He never needed a reason to laugh or make you laugh either! He was known to appear, comically, at the most unexpected times, places and in completely out of context ways. Like…in a suit at some “event” he didn’t particularly want to attend, wearing a wig.

He was even late to his own funeral. We suspect he paid of the funeral director in advance for that tone!

Dad pregnant

And here’s Dad, wearing MY orange dress, “pregnant,” in 1978. Look at that farmer’s tan!


He played that for all it was worth including waddling and groaning! I had to provide lessons and the requisite pillow! I laughed so hard I was gasping for air and crying. I think we both did!


This grainy out-of-focus picture taken at some long-forgotten fundraiser tells the story. A man of modest means, he was always doing something for someone else even if it did require being pregnant. Believe me, lots of people paid to see that!

Dad was a farmer but raised orphan animals. He rescued creatures with no hope, bringing them home to me and Mom.

Dad chose me as his daughter, telling me that when he married my mother, he “got his baby girl back.” Linda would have been about my age and died 2 days after Christmas in 1959. He never stopped grieving her death.

His first wife, Linda’s mother, died 9 years later. He never stopped grieving Martha either, always visiting and cleaning their graves on Memorial Day. We never accompanied him. It was a trip he needed to make alone.

Dad and Frosty.jpg

Here Dad is taking his daily 20 minute after-lunch nap with Frosty, his constant companion, a 3-legged cat that broke her back as a kitten in the barn. He thought there was no saving Frosty, but she outlived him. Love works miracles sometimes.

They are together now.

Dad was quite the practical jokester, participating in Rendezvous’ and Encampments throughout Indiana.


Schoolchildren attended on field trips and he educated them about pioneers and using everything at your disposal, wasting nothing. You could say he was an early recycler. It wasn’t “fashionable” then, but born of lifelong necessity. It was just the way life had always been on the farm.


Of course, there was always some funny tall tale to be told – like the yarn about the bull with the one red eye. I shudder to think. Those kids probably still have nightmares!

I made Dad’s Rendezvous clothes by hand in true pioneer style.

Dad's buttons.jpg

He carved buttons and fasteners out of bone and wood. We made such a good team. After his death, I mounted a few in a frame so they wouldn’t get lost. I can still see him intently working with his gnarled old hands.


The stories around the campfire as the “pioneer” mountainmen gathered in the evenings were less family friendly, but quite humorous, nonetheless.

One time his buddies even hung him, after a mock trial, for molesting a groundhog – all in good fun. (No groundhogs were actually molested.)

He was, of course, rescued at the last minute. I think mother and I coincidentally happened to arrive, in costume, and leapt into action just in time to save him from sure and certain death. Complete with righteous indignation of course. Mother playing the “Well, I never…what have you done now???” role with me sneaking in with a hatchet hidden under my skirt in the nick of time to spontaneously chop the gallows rope from around his neck, facilitating his escape!

Those were the days.

Dad loved the encampments which afforded opportunities to work with his hands, somewhat raucous camaraderie and to connect with and educate young people.

Dad's Indiana banner.jpg

I cross-stitched Dad a “banner” with the location of each of the encampments he frequented for him to hang and display at his campsite, but he hung it on the door at home instead. Mom said he was afraid it would be damaged or stained, although I viewed that as “seasoning.” I wanted him to use it, but I was secretly pleased that he loved it so much. It still hangs in my house now, 25 years after his passing.

Dad was too ill to “camp” the last summer before he passed away on Labor Day weekend, 1994. The following summer, the “rendezvous farewell ritual” took place.

Dad's encampment.jpg

Dad’s campsite was set up by his friends just like always, but was of course vacant. On Saturday evening, a fire was built in his fire pit, and everyone gathered round, telling stories and regaling tales about Dad, whose nickname was “Hoot” – because he was.

I absolutely had to attend, traveling from out of state, but mother just couldn’t. The grief was still too raw. His son didn’t bother.

Each person took turns telling stories that evening.

I laughed. I cried. A lot. Sometimes at the same time. Is that even possible?

I said, in a quiet moment, as the firelight flickered and the wood crackled, that I simply could not have had a better father if I had been his own blood.

The comfortable silence continued with everyone lost in their own thoughts when finally one of his buddies said, softly, barely audibly, “We had no idea he wasn’t your father. We knew that one of his two children was a step-child, but we thought you were his daughter. You’re the one who always came with him and made his things.”

You know why they thought that? Because I am, in my heart, and in his too.

I loved that man to depths I still can’t fathom. The grief is still new and palpable and raw, even 25 years later – especially on “those days,” like Father’s Day, his birthday, Christmas, and the anniversary of his death.

Also on days when I see cornfields, barns, cows, pigs, weeds, dandelions, snow, cats, dogs, tractors or flowers, especially his ferns growing in my garden, waist high this year.

Yes, pretty much everyday.


I’ve passed on some of the ferns and flowers from Dad’s garden, having passed through two of mine, to those grandchildren, now adults. His ferns, joyful reminders of carefree childhood summers spent on the farm.

I am eternally, sorrowfully, grateful.

I wish I had told him more often and could tell him, in person, just one more time. It didn’t seem necessary. I thought I had forever. I didn’t.

All I can do now is visit his grave.

Mom, Dad, grave.jpg

Thank you, Dad.

I love you.

Hiram Ferverda, Part 3: Banker, Marshall and Yes, Still Brethren – 52 Ancestors #241

Hiram was born in the Netherlands in 1854.

His first article, Hiram Bauke Ferverda (1854-1925), Part 1: Baker’s Apprentice chronicled his life in the Netherlands.

In 1868, at age 13, Bauke immigrated to the US with his family. His life after immigration, as a farmer in Elkhart and Kosciusko Counties in Indiana, was documented in Hiram Bauke Ferverda (1854-1925), Part 2: American Farmer.

Part 3 begins with Hiram’s move to town and new career, beginning at age 54, and takes several entirely unexpected turns. You might want to make a cup of tea, because this one is both fascinating and long. It’s amazing what you can find in local newspapers that allows us to time travel and visit our ancestors in the time and place where they lived.

I must say that I had NO IDEA of most of the events that both influenced and changed Hiram’s life before I mined the newspaper articles. This man was alive 100 years ago, so I thought I knew about him through my family, but I didn’t. I would never have expected many of these discoveries because of his Brethren religion, but here they are, in black and white. A complete dichotomy.

I feel like I actually know Hiram today – and I thought I knew him before but all I had was a sketchy outline, a couple fuzzy stories and a few paragraphs in a book.

  • Hiram both upheld the law and broke the law.
  • Hiram eschewed violence but was a lawman.
  • Hiram was a pacifist, yet 4 of his sons proudly served their country.

This man was a study in opposites and perhaps in conflict as well.

Come along on Hiram’s amazing “second act” journey!

The Move to Leesburg, Indiana

In 1908, Hiram’s life took a dramatic change – and not one you’d expect for a farmer and certainly not for a farmer past the half century mark.

Hiram moved to town. Not a big town, but Leesburg with about 800 people, the closest town to his farm – more like a village. Hiram gave up farming, with his son moving to his farm and taking over day to day operations.

According to the Ferverda booklet written in 1978, Hiram supervised the laying of the brick streets in Leesburg which vehicles still drive on every day. I visited Leesburg in May of 2019 and found those same brick streets which remain beautiful, a tribute to his work more than 100 years ago.


Prairie Street in Leesburg, Indiana

Hiram became a director of the Peoples State Bank in 1908 and later Vice-President. Yep, he became a banker. Farmer to banker – now THAT’S a career change!

Son Donald Ferverda became Cashier a decade later, after his high school graduation, and eventually Director before his untimely death. In later years, another son, Ray Ferverda, became a Director and Vice-President as well.

It’s unclear where the actual bank property was located, although it may have been where the Freedom Express office building is found today.

Hiram’s Property

Hiram owned the entire section between Main on the west, Church on the south, the right side of this graphic and the alley between Church and Prairie on the north.

Hiram Ferverda google map Church Street.png

Today, that’s the gas pump area of the Freedom Express convenience store and gas station – along with the lots to the right along Church Street.

Note that in this aerial, you can still see the red bricks on Prairie Street. It’s possible that Hiram owned the area noted with the Freedom Express too. The deeds are not clear.

Hiram Ferverda google map Church Street aerial.png

The Kosciusko County Surveyor’s office was extremely gracious, providing me with the 1938 flyover image of these properties.

It’s possible but uncertain if Hiram also owned the top portion of the lot, now 201, then referred to as 117, that includes the Freedom Express building itself today.

Hiram Ferverda Church Street 1938 flyover.png

These images are grainy and difficult to see, but we can discern structures.

The deed for this property is confusing. Between the Auditor’s office, the Recorder’s office and the Surveyor, I think we have it straight.

Hiram Ferverda 1909 deed.jpg

The problem begins with the fact that the lot numbers given in the deed are not the same as the lot numbers today. To help map this, a rod equals 16.5 feet.

Lot 117 was originally what is showing today as both 201 and 205, which provides us with a place of beginning and is shown on their GIS system below.

Hiram Ferverda Leesburg GIS.jpg

However, based on the deed metes and bounds, lot 117 does NOT appear to encompass both 201 and 205, only 201. There was some confusion about this when I was in the Recorder and Auditor’s offices too. Based on the metes and bounds, it appears that lot 117 incorporated 201 and lot 116 incorporated 211 and possibly 209/207 as well. Perhaps lot numbers has not been assigned to 205, 305, 208 and 206, the properties it appears that Hiram owned.

201 and 205 are addresses today, on Main. 305 is on Hickory. 206 and 208 are on Church and 207, 209 and 211 are on Prairie.

Based on the metes and bounds, it appears that Hiram owned the red area, 205 below, and not 201.

Hiram Ferverda GIS land.png

One of the offices told me that lot 201 or 205 had been the Farmer’s State Bank before it was purchased for a gas station and convenience store. This building, below, on lot 201 would be the best candidate.

Hiram Ferverda Lot 201.jpg

However, the most recent Farmer’s State Bank building was directly across Main Street from this location, so the person may have been recalling that.

Hiram Ferverda Leesburg 1938 structures.png

In this 1938 flyover, we can see that there are two buildings on this group of lots owned by Hiram. One on the main property, at the left, and one on Hickory at the alley, which probably wasn’t Hiram’s home based on other evidence. I wish these were clearer, but it’s great to have anything from 1938. Eva would still have been living then, probably in this house. Maybe she was inside when the picture was taken!

Perhaps Hiram did not actually own the bank itself which could have been on lot 201, or even downtown. My brother John told me that Hiram and Eva lived “on the main road” which would reflect a house on the corner of Church and Main. In any event, today, I pumped gas where their house once stood – where my mother went to play as a child.

Hiram Ferverda Citgo.jpg

This photo is taken from across Main Street, looking at lot 205. The convenience store part of the building, and the small office building facing Prairie behind the convenience store sits on lot 201 today.

Hiram Ferverda 201-205.jpg

Hiram and Eva’s home would have been right about where that canopy shields people who pump gas today. I didn’t realize that when I was gassing up on “their” land.

Hiram Ferverda 205 only.jpg

Looking down Church Street from the East end of Hiram’s property back towards Main, we can see that only modern buildings exist today.

Hiram Ferverda Church street lots.jpg

No houses were present in 1938 except on 205, which had to be Hiram’s house.

Let’s take a look at Hiram’s life through the newspapers.


January 11, 1908 – Warsaw Daily Times – Margaret Ferverda, who has been quite sick, is improving.

Margaret turned 6 on January 12th.

April 2, 1908 – The Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda April 1908.png

Hiram’s father, Bauke, known as Baker in the US, is Grandpa Ferverda whose wife had died in 1906.

Hiram Becomes a Banker

April 17, 1908 – Warsaw Daily Time

Hiram Ferverda April 1908 banker.png

I can’t even begin to imagine what possessed Hiram to open a bank! It looks like the new bank was in the same building as an existing bank with the same people involved, given that Joel Hall is president of the new bank.

Brethren typically wanted nothing to do with government, nothing to do with “swearing oaths” or signing documents. Many deeds were never registered nor were licenses obtained for marriages in Brethren families. Even for a progressive Brethren, owning a bank was a huge step. Had I not known better, I would immediately eliminate the Brethren religion for any person owning a bank, being involved with government, law enforcement or warfare of any kind. This was very out of character and unexpected.

Hiram would die before the economic crash of 1929, and maybe that’s a good thing, because that might just have killed him. Banks didn’t fare well although this one survived.

And a Politician

June 2, 1908 – Warsaw Daily Times – Republican County Convention – Representatives if Party Assemble in Auditorium at Winona Lake and Choose County Ticket – (many names including) Plain Township – first precinct – Hiram Ferverda

Winona Lake is threaded throughout the news. Not only was it a recreational area, but many conferences were held there, making it a destination area throughout Indiana. Apparently, the Winona Lake region, located nearby, had facilities to handle, and house, crowds.

June 11, 1908 – Northern Indianian – Republican Convention held at Plymouth Indiana for congressional nominee. Speeches were given and the seat is contested. The convention is being held in the open air on the lawn of the old Henry C. Thayer property. Those Kosciuskoans who went to the Plymouth on the Pennsylvania train leaving this city at 8:20 a include…Hiram Ferverda.

Death is Ever Present

Especially in large families, death is an ever-present fact of life. Penicillin wasn’t discovered until 1928. People died then of infections and diseases that would be easily curable today.

October 22, 1908 – Hiram’s sister, Melvinda, died on October 12, 1899, leaving husband James Gibson and daughters, Minnie, Gertrude and Alma. James Gibson died on May 30, 1907, and daughter Alma died on September 10, 1908 of tetanus.

Hiram’s brother, William, became the guardian of both surviving daughters, replacing Peter Bucher, with Hiram posting his performance bond in the amount of $2000. Hiram signed this bond, providing us with his only actual signature.

Hiram Ferverda October 1908 bond.jpg

I love Hiram’s signature, below that of his brother, William. He actually signed in two different places on that document

Hiram Ferverda signature.jpg

Nov. 12, 1908 – Warsaw Daily Union. Marriage license issued to Rolland Z. Robison and Chloe Ferverda, both of Leesburg.

Rolland, known as Rollie, and Chloe would have an unnamed stillborn son in 1911, then Robert Robinson, Earl Robinson and Charlotte Robinson.

Hiram Ferverda, Eva, Chloe, Margaret.jpg

This photo, brought to the 2010 reunion shows Eva, Chloe, Hiram, Margaret, Bob (Robert) and Earl.

Robert was born in 1913 and Earl in November 1916, so I’d guess this was taken about 1917 or perhaps 1918. Hiram would have been about 64.

Dec. 24, 1908 – Northern Indianian – H. B. Ferverda allowed $48.24 for the gravel road in Plain Twp.


February 3, 1910 – Northern Indianian – Hiram B. Ferverda of Leesburg was in the city (Warsaw) Thursday.

Hiram Ferverda Warsaw courthouse.jpg

I visited the courthouse in Warsaw in May of 2019, knowing that Hiram would have been in this building many times, attending to business.

February 5, 1909 – Warsaw Daily Times – Samuel Ulery, George W. Cummings, Hiram Ferverda and Charles Matthews, of Salem and vicinity will all move to Leesburg.

Samuel Ulery was related to Hiram’s wife, Eva Miller, in multiple ways.

Hiram opened the bank in 1908 and moved to Leesburg a year later in 1909, probably to be closer to business affairs. As reported on the Farmers State Bank web page, local people and farmers had confidence in people they knew. I do wonder why these several families moved to Leesburg at the same time. Leesburg was then and still is small, the downtown extending all of a block.

Hiram Ferverda Leesburg business district.jpg

I love the bricked-in windows that give us a hint of what these building used to look like.

Hiram Ferverda Leesburg business district center.jpg

These old buildings speak of times that were. This entire business district is all of one block long.

Hiram Ferverda Leesburg business district end.jpg

I’d like to know what these buildings where when Hiram lived in Leesburg.

Hiram Ferverda Leesburg 1907 building.jpg

At the top of this building, you can see that it was built in 1907, so it was brand-spanking new when Hiram lived here.

One of these buildings was assuredly the Town Hall where Hiram would conduct many of his duties.

It seems that Sundays were church and then social days.

February 11, 1909 – Warsaw Daily Union – Hiram Ferverda, wife and little daughter Margaret were Sunday guests of Erve Ferverda.

Moved to Leesburg

March 10, 1909 – Warsaw Daily Union – Hiram Ferverda moved to Leesburg Wednesday and Thursday Erve Ferverda moved on the home place.

On March 19, 1909, Hiram bought the lots in Leesburg.

This seal in the old courthouse was probably used on many of Hiram’s documents, including his deeds.

May 6, 1909 – Commissioners allowances to John Pound to view Ferverda road – $4.

This is an interesting entry, because no place else have I found mention of Ferverda Road.


On the 1910 census, Hiram and Eva lived in Plain Twp., west of Big 4 which was the description for all of Leesburg. The railroad tracks ran just east of town, along “Old 15.”

Hiram Ferverda 1910 census.png

January 27, 1910 – Warsaw Daily Times – Hiram B. Ferverda of Leesburg was in the city (Warsaw) Thursday.

Feb. 3, 1910 – Northern Indianian – Hiram B. Ferverda of Leesburg was in this city (Warsaw) Thursday.

The Paternity Suit

Feb 9, 1910 – Warsaw Daily Union – This would be Ray, not Roy. There was no Roy Ferverda that I’m aware of. Maybe Ray was pleased to be misidentified, all things considered.

Hiram Ferverda Ray trial.png

This is a very suggestive entry in the paper which makes me suspect paternity. Rape would not have been a civil suit, although this does not say specifically.


The old courthouse doors still remain. Hiram surely accompanied his son to court.


And climbed the stairs to the second floor.

On February 12th, the following:

Hiram Ferverda Ray transcript.png

Confirming that the name is Ray, not Roy.

Sept 7, 1910 – State against Ferverda set for trial Sept. 23rd.

Aha, indeed, it was paternity! This means that there are potentially additional DNA relatives out there!

September 19, 1910:

Hiram Ferverda Ray paternity.png

Typically, at that time, people in this situation married. I wonder why Ray and Lucretia chose not to. Or maybe, just one chose not to.

The 1910 census shows a Lucretia Brown, of the right age and location, but with no child.

Hiram Ferverda Lucretia 1910 census.png

Did the child die? I didn’t find either a birth or death record. Perhaps placed for adoption? Being raised by someone else?

Lucretia married George Eldridge in 1914 and was living in Wabash in the 1920 census with two children, ages 3 and 4, but no child that would have been 10 or over. I wonder if an eventual DNA match will provide the answer.

The Great Bluegill Caper

I tried not to laugh at this, but especially given the earlier political commentary about the unfair fish laws – I just couldn’t help myself.

March 22, 1910:

Hiram Ferverda bluegills.png

This incident was reported by the Warsaw Daily Union using exactly the same words, but with much larger headlines

Bluegills huh? I’m thinking there is more to this story that we will never know.

Cheryl told me that the edge of Hiram’s farm touched Lake Tippecanoe because Don or Roscoe fell through the ice at one point.

March 21, 1910 – Warsaw Daily Time

Hiram Ferverda fined for fish.png

March 24, 1910 – Warsaw Union – It cost Hiram Ferverda $75 for taking 5 bluegills from Tippecanoe lake with a net. He entered a plea of guilty to the charge against him.

Also reported in the Northern Indianian, of course. This would have been great gossip!

I can just see Hiram’s teeth clenching!

Most expensive fish per ounce EVER.


Hiram would have passed these old cupboards in the Warsaw courthouse on his way to answer for his fish crimes. Maybe the evidence was even held here!

March 31, 1910 – Warsaw Daily Times – Rollin Robinson and wife spent Easter with the latter’s parents, Hiram Ferverda and wife of Leesburg.

July 7, 1910 – Fort Wayne Journal Gazette via a “special correspondent.”

Hiram Ferverda July 1910.png

Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Ferverda spent the day with Mr. and Mrs. John Ulery of Nappanee who are at their cottage at Government point, at Tippecanoe Lake.

They may have had no idea they are related to the Ulery family through the Millers, because they are also related to the Ullery family through Eva’s mother’s first husband’s family. They are also related to the Ullery family because Eva’s half-sibling, Emanual Whitehead married Elizabeth Ulery and her half sister, Mary Jane Whitehead married John D. Ulery. Yes this is a family vine!

July 12, 1910 – Warsaw Daily Union – Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Ferverda attended church at Salem, Sunday and took dinner with their daughter, Mrs. Louis Hartman and family.

Sister-In-Law Dies

July 19, 1910 – Warsaw Daily Union – Hiram Ferverda received a message Sunday morning stating that his sister-in-law, Mrs. Fannie Ferverda died at her home near Nappanee Saturday evening.

This would have been his brother, William’s, wife.

While Hiram and Eva appeared to be quite social, there are surprisingly few mentions of Hiram’s brother and family. I suspect that part of this may be due to the fact that William’s side of the family appear to have remained more conservative in the traditional Brethren ways, while Hiram became increasingly progressive throughout his life. Distance was probably also a factor, although they clearly do keep in touch.

August 10, 1910 – Warsaw Daily Union – Boyd Whitehead of Goshen is visiting Hiram Ferverda and family.

Off to Kansas

August 18, 1910 – Warsaw Daily Union – Hiram Ferverda, Frank Bortz, Charles Dye and Henry Kinsey started on a 10-days pleasure trip for various points in Kansas Tuesday morning.

Then, later in the same article about Leesburg residents:

Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Ferverda were Warsaw visitors Monday.

August 25, 1910: Frank Borts II, E. Kinsey, Hiram Ferverda and Charles Dye arrived home Monday afternoon after a 10 day pleasure trip through Kansas and Colorado.

So, what happened to Illinois and Missouri??  What did 4 men do? I wish they had told more of the story!

Sept 23, 1910 – Warsaw Daily Times – Ulery Family Reunion – Descendants of Daniel Ulery Held Enjoyable Meeting at the Home of John D. Ulery – The descendants of the Daniel Ulery family met at the home of John D. Ulery at Government Point on Tippecanoe Lake Thursdays. Those present were: (long list including) Hiram Ferverda and wife of Leesburg.

I notice that Emanual Whitehead was also present. I thought perhaps that this would lend itself to breaking down brick walls, but one Daniel Ulrich was born in 1811 in PA and died in 1834 in Elkhart County, His father was Jacob Ulrich who died young, but his wife Susan Leer remarried and died in Elkhart County. Jacob’s father was Daniel Ulrich (1756-1813) and Susannah Miller (1759-1831) who was the daughter of Philip Jacob Miller and wife Magdalena, ancestors of Hiram’s wife, Eva Miller, which may be the family connection.

This Emanual Whitehead was Eva’s half brother who married an Ulery, and John D. Ulery was married to Eva’s half-sister. This is enough to cause any genealogist to bang their head against the wall.

September 23, 1910 – Warsaw Daily Union – Mr. Violette of Goshen visited with Hiram Ferverda Wednesday.

Sept. 29, 1910 – Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda 1910 Ulery reunion.png

Nov. 3, 1910 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Ferverda spent Sunday with Mr. and Mrs. R. Robinsin (sic) east of Oswego.

Mrs. R. Robinson (actually Robison) was Hiram’s daughter, Chloe.


Feb. 2, 1911 – Warsaw Union – Rolly Robinson and wife spent Sunday with the latter’s parents, Hiram Ferverda and wife, of Leesburg.

Feb. 5, 1911 – Warsaw Daily Union – Andy Vanderford of Whitley County, a former deputy fish and game cop has filed with the auditor of Kosciusko county a bill for $134 for seizing and destroying nets, spears, etc. taken from alleged illegal fishermen during the past 7 years. Cases mentioned include…Hiram Ferverda. Amounts range from 1-10 dollars, in the majority of instances $5.

Hiram must have groaned and rolled his eyes!

Here it is AGAIN!

It. Won’t. Die.

Or maybe by this time it was a big family joke. “Hey Dad, want to go fishing for some bluegills?” Maybe they gave him “nets” for his birthday after his were confiscated.

Hiram Ferverda 1911.png

Mr. and Mrs. John Ferverda of Silver Lake visited with Hiram Ferverda and family over Sunday. John is my grandfather, but my mother and uncle weren’t yet born.

It wasn’t far from Leesburg to Silver Lake – about 18 miles. I wonder if the families had automobiles by then. I’m guessing so.

Attendance Award

May 8, 1911 – Warsaw Daily Union

Hiram Ferverda 1911 attendance.png

I think this was the predecessor of “walked uphill, in the snow, both ways” – except it was true. What an amazing record. School was very important to the Ferverda family – which isn’t surprising given that Hiram’s father, Bauke, was a teacher in the Netherlands.

Hiram Becomes a Marshall

October 19, 1911 – Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda 1911 marshall.png

This is the first mention of Hiram being a Marshall which is extremely unusual for a Brethren man. Brethren eschew public office and generally refuse to fight in wars or participate in any other type of activity which conflicts with their pacifist doctrine. Yet, Hiram continued to be Brethren. This must have caused some very interesting conversations!


March 14, 1912 – Northern Indianian – Hiram B. Ferverda of Leesburg, visited n Warsaw on Tuesday.

Hiram Ferverda Warsaw courthouse back.jpg

The courthouse in Warsaw is beautiful from all sides.

March 16, 1912 – Warsaw Daily Times – Hiram B. Ferverda of Leesburg transacted business in Warsaw on Saturday.

March 21, 1912 – Northern Indianian – Hiram B. Ferverda of Leesburg transacted business in Warsaw on Saturday.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of business he was transacting or was this just the stock commentary. He could have been shopping.

May 25, 1912 – Warsaw Daily Times – Hiram B. Ferverda of Leesburg transacted business here (Warsaw) on Saturday.

May 30, 1912 – Northern Indianian – Hiram B. Ferverda of Leesburg transacted business here (Warsaw) on Saturday.

Leesburg to Warsaw was 12 miles and Hiram is going to Warsaw on Saturdays for something, but what, and why Saturday?

Progressive Republicans

June 6, 1912 – Northern Indianian – County Convention Personnel, Second Precinct, H. B. Ferverda

July 26, 1912 – Warsaw Daily Times – The Progressive Republicans of Kosciusko formed a county organization on Thursday afternoon in city hall in Warsaw. Notices were sent to the men who were delegates at the last district convention in Warsaw and asked each to bring friends. When called to order, nearly 60 were present. At the outset, Mr. Vail explained the purpose of the meeting which he said, was to form an organization which could legally send delegates to the state and district conventions of the progressive party for the purpose of naming national delegates to nominate Theodore Roosevelt or some other progressive and for the purpose of selecting progressive national electors. The purpose is to give the voters a chance to express their actual sentiments at the polls in November by having a progressive ticket in the field. After that, various men expressed their opinions, including Hiram Ferverda from Plain Township.

I wish they had recorded the various opinions expressed.

Now, Hiram, a Brethren who is supposed to avoid politics is a “Progressive Republican,” and active to boot!

The Progressive Party was a third party in the US formed in 1912 by former President Theodore Roosevelt after he lost the presidential nomination of the Republican Party to his former protégé, incumbent President William Howard Taft. This party was considered to be center-left and was dissolved in 1918, but in 1912, it was quite the sensation.

Proposals on the platform included restrictions on campaign finance contributions, a reduction of the tariff and the establishment of a social insurance system, an eight-hour workday and women’s suffrage.

In 1916, the conventions of both the Republican and Progressive Republican parties were held in conjunction with each other, with Roosevelt being the nominee of both. He refused the Progressive nomination, accepting the Republican nomination, after which the Progressive Party collapsed.

August 1, 1912 – Northern Indianian – Progressive Republicans Meet in City Hall at Warsaw, Form an Organization, Differ Only On National Issue, No Third County Ticket to be Placed in Field, Nor is Third State Ticket Favored

Hiram Ferverda 1912 delegate.png

Hiram B. Ferverda was present as a delegate.

October 11, 1912 – Mr. and Mrs. John Ferverda of Silver Lake are here for a two weeks visit with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H.B. Ferverda.

Wow, that’s a long visit.


January 3, 1913 – Warsaw Daily Times – Commissioners allowed Hiram B. Ferverda 56.70 for road repair.

Horseshoes Anyone?

May 17, 1913 – Warsaw Daily Union – An old fashioned game of horseshoe has opened up in town. Games are going all of the time. Hiram Ferverda is champion pitcher.

A horseshoe champion – who knew! I wish there had been pictures. In 1913, Hiram would have been 59 years old.


January 8, 1914 – Warsaw Daily Union – H. B. Ferverda allowed 109.20 for gravel road repair.

January 15, 1914 –- Northern Indianian – H. B. Ferverda allowed 109.20 for gravel road repairs.

January 29, 1914 – Northern Indianian – Plain Township trustee report shows the following disbursements…Hiram Ferverda, labor, $24.

April 2, 1914 – Warsaw Union – H. Ferverda and family were the guests of Bert Frederickson and family on Sunday.

May 6, 1914 – Warsaw Daily Union – Rolin Robison and family and Hiram Ferverda and family were the guests of the latter’s brother, William Ferverda at Nappanee, Sunday.

June 11, 1914 – Northern Indianian – Allowed H. B. Ferverda $5.00 for gravel road repair.

August 13, 1914 – Warsaw Union – the Progressives of Plain Township met Wednesday and elected the following township ticket: Trustee – Hiram Ferverda.

August 21, 1914 – The town council has bucked up against a proposition that is causing the members much worry. At the meeting last week a sidewalk was ordered along the east side of Main Street at the west end of H.B. Ferverda’s property and when Mr. Ferverda went to stretch the line for his walk it was discovered the Winona Interurban station freight house watercloset are all out about 4 feet past the walk line. What action the council will take in the matter is being watched with much interest.

Hiram Ferverda 1914 watercloset.png

Apparently Hiram had public toilets on the west side of his property. Apparently the Winona Interurban lines ran along what is now State Road 15 and the offices, probably pictured here, sat on the west side of Hiram’s land. The automobiles look like 1909 Model Ts, although I’m clearly no expert.

Winona Interurban an Leesburg

The Winona Interurban didn’t last long, being placed into receivership in 1916, so this photo of the “freight house” at Leesburg must have been taken about the time Hiram lived there.

Nov. 12, 1914 – Northern Indianian – Allowed H. B. Ferverda 140.75 for highway repair.


January 28, 1915 – H. B. Ferverda allowed $23.27 for labor for roads.

March 18, 1915 – Warsaw Union – Adopts City Airs – People who visit Leesburg this summer must run their cars up to the curb in an angling position according to instructions issued to Town Marshall, Ferverda.

Angle parking is still in effect in front of the heritage “business district” buildings. Who knew this was a “city air.”

Hiram Ferverda angle parking.png

March 31, 1915 – Warsaw Daily Times – Hiram Ferverda Jr. had the misfortune to badly bruise his finger while playing with a corn sheller.

This would be Hiram’s grandson through his son Irvin and wife Jesse Hartman. Young Hiram would have been about 3.

April 8, 1915 – Northern Indianian – H. B. Ferverda and S. V. Robison and their families visited Rollin Robinson and family Sunday.

May 6, 1915 – H. B. Ferverda and S. V. Robison and their families visited Rollin Robinson and family Sunday.

May 6, 1915 – Warsaw Union – Allowed H. B Ferverda asst road supt. $5.64.

Hiram is noted as the Assistant Road Superintendent.

Marshall Drama

June 7, 1915 – Warsaw Union – Leesburg Marshall Resigns – H. B. Ferverda, marshal of Leesburg, has resigned because the office made too many enemies. He states that many people refuse to speak to him because he did his duty.

Dec. 23, 1915 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1915 Marshall resign.png

Hiram was Marshall for 4 years and a few months.


January 7, 1916 –- Warsaw Union – H. B. Ferverda allowed 186.20 for gravel road repair.

Jan 20, 1916 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1916 tramp.png

I find this amusing because Brethren are supposed to avoid physical conflict, which is why they do not participate in wars and historically, would not even defend themselves or their families from frontier attacks. But here Hiram is dealing with a man that “showed fight.”

I wonder if the tramp was sent alone or accompanied.

More Drama – Throws Down Star

Hiram Ferverda 1916 marshall drama.png

I can sense his frustration, even today, 103 years removed.

Jan. 21, 1916 – Warsaw Daily Times – H. B. Ferverda, assnt road supt – allowed $5.64.

No Marshall, By Heck

Not only was this getting juicy, the word was also spreading!

January 24, 1916 – Rochester Sentinel (Fulton Co., Indiana)

Hiram Ferverda 1916 no marshall by heck.png

January 29, 1916 – Warsaw Union – H. B. Ferverda allowed $7.50 labor on roads

Feb. 1, 1916 – Warsaw Daily Times – Calvin Baugher is serving as town marshal of Leesburg. Baugher was chosen by the town board following a meeting on considerable friction. H. B. Ferverda previously held the position.

Feb. 3, 1916 – Warsaw Daily Times – Calvin Baugher has been appointed town marshal by the town council to fill the vacancy made by the resignation of H.B. Ferverda who quit when someone stated at a board meeting that the town did not need a marshal. The job pays $75 per year and the holder is supposed to serve as street commissioner peace officer and several other jobs.

Feb. 5, 1916 – Rochester Sentinel

Hiram Ferverda 1916 pay.png

“Not to pump the water.” That’s just about the only thing the Marshall doesn’t do.

Each of these articles tells the story in a slightly different way, and includes different tidbits of information.

February 10, 1916

Hiram Ferverda February 1916.png

I’m sure that Hiram was just glad to have this entire chapter closed. It sounds miserable and it had to affect his banking business.

The rest of 1916 seemed to be settling down a bit. Maybe Hiram found peace working on the roads.

Feb. 10, 1916 – Northern Indianian – H. B. Ferverda allowed $7.50 for labor on roads.

May 3, 1916 – Kosciusko Union – H. B. Ferverda allowed $20 for repair of gravel road.

Ira Ferverda Saves General Pershing’s Life

May 4, 1916 – Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda Ira saved Gen Pershing.png

Hiram must have been very, very proud of his son.

This from the Indianapolis News on May 10th:

Hiram Ferverda 1916 Ira 2.png

Hiram Ferverda 1916 Ira 3.png

Hiram Ferverda 1916 Ira 4.png

Hiram Ferverda 1916 Ira 5.png

This event didn’t happen in 1916, but during the Mexican American War between 1901-1904.

1916 wasn’t going to stay calm for long.

But Then There was that Cow Incident…

May 21, 1916 – Warsaw Union – An affidavit was filed Saturday in the court of Squire Garty by Ola A. Harris against H. B. Ferverda, retired farmer, bank director and business man of Leesburg, charging him with injury and cruelty to animals. Saturday morning when Ferverda and F.J. Filbert of the Leesburg Journal and their wives were driving to this city, they approached the Ola Harris farm two miles west of town.  A son of Mr. Harris was herding several cattle which were browsing along the highway. The auto driver, Mr. Ferverda, slowed up and endeavored to get around the cattle, but one Holstein heifer, valued at $100 by Mr. Harris, jumped into the machine and from the contact with the bumper its hind leg was broken, while a lamp on the auto was damaged. Harris demanded $100 of Ferverda in return for the cow, which had to be killed, but the Leesburg gentleman refused any settlement on the ground that he was in no wise to blame. Ferverda and his party drove on to Columbia City after giving Harris their names and addresses and upon reaching town, Ferverda was arrested on the about mentioned charge. He plead not guilty and arranged for a hearing on Friday, June 3. He has employed Levi. R. Stookey of Warsaw to defend him and gave bond for appearance.

Hmmm, interesting to note that there is or was a Leesburg Journal.

We now know that by 1916, Hiram did own an automobile.

May 31, 1916 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1916 cow trial.png

June 3, 1916 – The case of the state of Indiana vs H. B. Ferverda of Leesburg on the charge of injury to animals was tried in the circuit court rooms Friday afternoon by Justice Theordore Garty. Deputy prosecutor Joseph R. Harrison was assisted by attorney D.V. Whiteleather and Ferverda was defended by attorney L. R. Stookey or Warsaw. The defendant was found guilty and fined $10 and costs.  An appeal was taken by the defense and the case will be heard in the next circuit court term. Several days ago Mr. Ferverda, a wealthy and prominent citizen of Leesburg, in company with his wife and friends, while driving past the Ola Harris farm, west of town, in an auto, struck a young cow, which later had to be shot on account of a broken leg sustained from the collision. The present case is an outgrowth of a confrontation between Mr. Harris and Mr. Ferverda. Harris claimed Ferverda should pay him $100 damages on the cow and may decide later to file a damage suit.

I think the term “wealthy and prominent” might just say it all about the motivation for this lawsuit.

It’s interesting that Hiram was found at fault for hitting a cow that was in the road. Very different from today.

June 8, 1916 – Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda 1916 cow fine.png

September 9, 1916 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1916 cow attorney.png

I never did discover the outcome.

Hiram Ferverda courthouse seat.jpg

I did, however, discover this vintage seat in the Warsaw courthouse and couldn’t help but wonder if Hiram sat here during one of his many visits, maybe impatiently tapping his toe on the ground.


World War I had begun in 1914, but by 1917, the action in Europe had really heated up.

In January, in violation of international law, Germany declared unrestricted submarine warfare, hoping to starve the British out of the war. The Germans understood that their actions would probably draw the US into the war, but thought the damage to Great Britain would be so devastating that it wouldn’t matter.

According to the Chicago Tribune in a 2016 article, prices had soared. Bread was 20 cents a loaf and flour jumped $3 a barrel. The country came to understand food conservation with “meatless Mondays” and “wheatless Wednesdays.”

A headline in the Indianapolis News on April 10, 1917, told readers “Patriotic Wave is Sweeping Indiana.” The article reported that “thousands of native and foreign-born citizens are showing their fealty to the flag by taking part in great street demonstrations which include parades, salutes to Old Glory and the singing of patriotic songs.”

In April, Hiram’s son, George volunteered.

Hiram Ferverda 1917 George volunteer.png

April 12, 1917 – Warsaw Daily Times

The headlines looked like this:

Hiram Ferverda 1917 headlines.png

That Thursday, the entire county shut down to go to Warsaw.

Hiram Ferverda 1917 war.pngHiram Ferverda 1917 war 2.pngHiram Ferverda 1917 war 3.png

George was obviously very inspired.

May 10, 1917 – Warsaw Union – allowed H. B. Ferverda, Sept roads, $14.35.

And still, Hiram works on the roads.

May 10, 1917 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1917 George enlists.png

May 11, 1917 – Warsaw Union – allowed H. B. Ferverda, roads $13.35.


Meanwhile, as the President was calling for young men to volunteer for the military, Hiram’s youngest son, Donald, was graduating from high school.

May 22, 1917

Hiram Ferverda 1917 Donald graduation.png

How I would love to hear what Donald’s speech.


June 1, 1917 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1917 Wyoming.png

Hiram and Eva set off for Wyoming. I wonder if they took the train or drove. Trains were a lot more reliable than automobiles at that time.

Ira had married Ada Pearl Frederickson in 1904 and moved to Wyoming sometime between the birth of their son in July of 1907 and the 1910 census.

The wave of patriotism may have been responsible for the surfacing of the General Pershing story once again.

July 9, 1917 – Warsaw Daily Times

Hiram Ferverda 1917 Ira saves Pershing.png

August 9, 1917 – Northern Indianian– Lists of Volunteer troops from Kosciusko County

Hiram Ferverda 1917 George.png

This list confirms that Hiram’s father, Bauke, was known as Baker in the US.

Aug. 23, 1917 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1917 Wyoming return.png

I’d guess that Ira and his wife were just plain homesick and when Hiram, Eva and Treva, Ira’s wife’s sister were preparing to leave – Ira decided to go with them. However, Ira’s health was deteriorating too.

Sept. 10, 1917 – Warsaw Daily Times – Warsaw Boys Off For Fort Benjamin Harrison (list includes) George Ferverda

Dec. 21, 1917 – Warsaw Union – George Ferverda arrived on Friday from Camp Shelby to spend Christmas with relatives.

Dec. 29, 1917 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1917 all home for Christmas.png

I would bet this is when the picture was taken – especially since John Ferverda is without his family in the photo and in this article too.

Hiram Ferverda 1917 photo.jpg

Hiram would have been 63 in December of 1917.

The next photo looks to have been taken at the same time but included the other family members in attendance as well.

Hiram Ferverda 1917 photo all.jpg

There’s a bit of confusion about the house.

Hiram Ferverda old home place.jpg

This could have been the same building, with an extended porch. It’s difficult to tell because it certainly is not the house on the farm and it doesn’t look like the house above. However, whichever of Hiram’s grandchildren that wrote the Ferverda book would surely have known.

In 1917, the second draft registration known as the “Old Man’s Draft” was put into place. Hiram’s brother, William, then age 45, registered.

Hiram Ferverda 1917 William Fervida registration.png

His registration tells us that William has blue eyes and light hair.

Hiram Ferverda William 2

I wish Hiram had registered, but he was beyond the age cutoff. Given that my grandfather, John, had blue eyes, I suspect that Hiram did too.


Feb. 7, 1918 – The Northern Indianian – Hiram Ferverda of Leesburg transacted business at Warsaw on Tuesday.

Feb. 8, 1918 – Warsaw Union – H. B. Ferverda allowed $228 for gravel road repair.

Feb 16, 1918 – Warsaw Union- Mrs. H. B. Ferverda of Leesburg spent Friday in Warsaw on business.

Roscoe Enlists and Marries Without Telling His Parents

Hiram Ferverda Roscoe enlists.png

February 28, 1918 – Friends and relatives here had just learned of the marriage last month of Roscoe Ferverda, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Ferverda of Leesburg and Miss Effie Ringo of North Vernon, Indiana. Mr. Ferverda who was a telegrapher at North Vernon enlisted in the signal corps and just before being called for examination was taken sick with measles. He came home for two weeks and immediately upon his return to North Vernon was examined and sent to the training camp at Vancouver, Washington. The wedding took place while at North Vernon for the examination. The bride is expected here tomorrow for a visit with his parents.

Whoo boy! Not only did Roscoe marry without telling his parents and didn’t tell them for a month, but his bride wasn’t Brethren. Not only that, she was coming to meet his parents alone – and pregnant! Their son, Harold was born on August 5th.

Hiram’s Not a Citizen!

April 27, 1918 – Warsaw Daily Times

Hiram Ferverda 1917 not citizen.png

Imagine Hiram’s surprise to discover that he wasn’t an American.

I should probably have requested his naturalization papers when I was in Warsaw.

Don Ferverda Enlists

June 27, 1918 – Warsaw Union – Don Ferverda son of Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Ferverda and…left on Thursday for Fort Wayne where they expect to enlist in the regulars.

This makes 3 of Hiram and Eva’s sons who have enlisted in WWI, plus Ira who served in the Spanish American War. I can’t help but wonder, as Brethren, how Hiram and Eva felt about this, other than praying for their safe return.

I have been unable to find Donald’s military records.

June 29, 1918 – Don Ferverda, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Ferverda, and James Kohler, son of Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Kohler, of Leesburg, left on Thursday for Fort Wayne where they expect to enlist in the regulars.

October 28, 1918 – Warsaw Union – Among the many patriotic residents of Plain township are three men who each have 3 sons in military service. These men are…George Ferverda who is in France, Donald Ferverda who is at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., and Roscoe Ferverda who is in the Signal corps and located somewhere int the state of Washington, sons of Hiram Ferverda of Leesburg. Ira Ferverda, another son, was a soldier in the Spanish-American war and was responsible for saving the life of a captain who belonged to the same cavalry company as Mr. Ferverda.  They were crossing a flooded river when Captain Wiltshire lost his balance and started to sink, but was rescued by Ira Ferverda.

Hiram Ferverda 1918 George Roscoe Don in uniform.jpg

The photo above shows the three Ferverda boys who served in WWI and was brought to the Ferverda reunion held in 2010.  Roscoe is seated in the middle, George on the left and Don, at right. I don’t know if this picture was dear to Eva Miller Ferverda or broke her heart that her sons were serving in a war, giving her Brethren heritage and that her grandmother was born in Germany.


April 23, 1919 – Warsaw Daily Times – H. B. Ferverda and wife of Leesburg and Erv Ferverda and family spent Sunday with Ira Ferverda and family.

June 12, 1919 – The Northern Indianaian – Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Ferverda of Leesburg and Mr. and Mrs. John Ulrey of Napanee were guests of Mrs. Sarah Whitehead on Monday afternoon.

June 19, 1919 – Northern Indianian – H. B. Ferverda allowed $12.65 for road repairs

Aug 13, 1919 – Warsaw Daily Times – Rollin Robinson and family, Rosco Ferverda and family, Hiram Ferverda and wife of Leesburg, John Ferverda ad family and Mrs. McCormick of Silver Lake spent Sunday with Lewis Hartman and family.

Mrs. McCormick is John Ferverda’s mother-in-law.

Ladies Aid Society

November 5, 1919 – On Wednesday the Ladies Aid society of the New Salem church met at the home of Mrs. H. B. Ferverda.

I wonder if this meant that Hiram was absent until the meeting was over. Maybe he went to the bank or to see one of his sons. My Dad used to go to the barn or the mill when these “hen gatherings” happened at our house.

This is the first mention of the Ladies Aid Society, and I wonder if it was formed in response to the War effort.

Nov. 12, 1919 – Warsaw Union – Mrs. H. B. Ferverda and Mrs. Thomas Dye, of Leesburg were in Warsaw Wednesday morning enroute for Fort Wayne where they will visit for several days with the former’s daughter, Mrs. Louis Hartman.

This tells us that daughter Gertrude, known as Gertie, had moved to Fort Wayne.


In the 1920 Census, Hiram clearly lives on Church Street – probably in the last house before the census-taker turned the corner and started down Prairie, which runs parallel. This confirms the location of his house.

Hiram Ferverda 1920 census.png

June 11, 1920 – Warsaw Daily Times – B. Ferverda, gravel road repair $13.75

Dec. 21, 1920 – According to the Warsaw Daily Times, Roscoe and his wife were living in Leesburg at this time.


January 19, 1921 – H. B. Ferverda, road work, $17.80.

July 8, 1921 – H. B. Ferverda for gravel road repair $36.42.

Sept 10, 1921 – H. B. Ferverda gravel road repair $20.05.

Oct. 13, 1921 – Roscoe Ferverda, new agent for the Big 4 has moved his family into the Burdge property on Main Street.

The railroad ran parallel to Old 15, on the east side of Leesburg.


Feb. 10, 1922 –- Warsaw Daily Times –  H. B. Ferverda grading road $1.75.

Hiram is still grading roads!

May 9, 1922 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1922 bank.png

This is the first in a series of bank statements published. I suspect this began in reaction to something – but have no idea what. Hiram is now vice-president. Mr. Hall is still president and has been since the beginning. It’s odd that there are no social interactions between the Hall and Ferverda families.

Donald is now cashier, which I suspect means that he runs the day to day business of the bank.

June 27, 1922 – Warsaw Daily Times – H. B. Ferverda and wife spent Saturday at the David Miller home new New Paris. Mr. Miller, brother to Mrs. Ferverda is in very poor health.

David B. Miller died on September 25, 1922 of chronic kidney disease with bronchitis contributing.

July 3, 1922 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1922 bank 2.png

Sept. 20, 1922 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1922 bank 3.png

Oct. 13, 1922 – Warsaw Union – Commissioner’s allowances – Hiram Ferverda, gravel road repair – $5

Nov. 16, 1922 – H. Ferverda, C Long Road $72.00.

This is the last road maintenance we find for Hiram. He’s 68 years old.

Dec. 26, 1922 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1922 Christmas.png

It’s interesting that they went visiting on Christmas Day. I’m surprised, although many German families actually celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, and Eva’s parents were German.


Jan 5, 1923 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1923 bank.png

March 30, 1923 – Mr. and Mrs. Ferverda of Leesburg spent Sunday evening with Albert Heckaman and family.

April 9, 1923 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1923 bank 2.png

April 30, 1923 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda Whitehead funeral.png

Samuel Whitehead was Eva’s half sibling through her mother’s first husband and died of chronic bronchitis.

July 30, 1923 – Warsaw Daily Times and the Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda 1923.png

August 21, 1923 – Warsaw Daily Times and the Northern Indianian – The 4th annual reunion of the Hartman family was held August 19th at the home of Pearl Hartman near Larwill, Indiana. At the noon hour, a picnic dinner was served under the trees. A program consisted of music and songs followed the dinner. Games were played and ice cream was served late in the afternoon. There were 119 relatives which came from far and near to enjoy this happy reunion. Present were…(long list including) Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Ferverda of Leesburg.

September 3, 1923 – Warsaw Daily Times – Will Ferverda and family, living north of Gravelton, were Sunday guests of his brother, H. B. Ferverda and wife.

Sept 22, 1923 – Warsaw Daily Times

Hiram Ferverda 1923 bank 3.png

October 3, 1923 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda October 1923.png

John’s wife was Edith.

Nov. 10, 1923 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1923 bank 4.png

Nov. 12, 1923 – Warsaw Union – Ira Ferverda and family of Oswego expect to move to Leesburg next Monday.

Nov. 22, 1923 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Ferverda spent Wednesday in the John Ulery home. Mr. Ulery is quite poorly.


January 5. 1924 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1924 bank.png

April 11, 1924 – Warsaw Daily Times and the Northern Indianian – Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Ferverda spent Thursday at Silver Lake with their son, John and family.

April 11, 1924 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda Emanual Whitehead funeral.png

Eva’s brother Emanuel was 75 years old and died of a stroke.

April 24, 1924 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1924 bank 2.png

July 22, 1924 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe Ferverda and two children of Silver Lake spent Sunday at the home of his parents, H. B. Ferverda and wife.

Sept 23, 1924 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1924 bank 3.png

These bank notices stopped at this point.

Sept. 27, 1924 – Warsaw Daily Times and Northern Indianian – Mrs. George Han?? (possibly Haney) of Milford Junction and Will Ferverda, living near Gravelton were here Friday to see H. B. Ferverda who has been seriously ill for several days.

This is the first indication that Hiram is ill.

October 7, 1924 – Warsaw Daily Times and Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda 1924 large family.png

Fifty descendants – how amazing!

October 8, 1924 – Warsaw Daily Times and Northern Indianian – Mrs. Gertrude Dausman returned Tuesday to her home at Nappanee after spending a week here with her brother, H. B. Ferverda.

Looks like the family is all coming to say goodbye.

October 16, 1924 – Warsaw Union – Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe Ferverda were at Leesburg Saturday with the former’s parents.

Dec. 29, 1924 – Warsaw Daily Times and Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda 1924 Don cashier.png


April 13, 1925 – Warsaw Daily Times and Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda 1925 Easter.png

I wonder if my grandmother was at home with my mother who may have been ill.

It’s interesting to learn that Easter gathering was a Ferverda tradition.

Hiram’s Death

June 5, 1925 – Warsaw Daily Times and Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda death.png

That day’s headline:

Hiram Ferverda heat wave.png

Two days later, on the 7th, Hiram died.

June 8, 1925 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda obituary.png

The handwriting was on the wall.

June 8, 1925 – Warsaw Daily Times and the Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda death article.png

Hiram Ferverda death article 2.png

Hiram had 7 sons, why only 6 as pallbearers? Maybe there was only room for 6 men?

June 9, 1925 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda services.png

June 10, 1925 – Warsaw Union

HIram Ferverda funeral attendee.png

June 10, 1925 – Warsaw Daily Times and the Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda funeral.png

From the Silver Lake Record, June 11, 1925, Page 1 column 1:

Leesburg Man Dead – H.B. Ferverda, Father of Two Silver Lake Boys Passed Away – Survived by Widow and 11 Children

Sunday afternoon in Leesburg occurred the death of Hiram B. Ferverda following a long illness of tuberculosis.

He had been up and around until only a few days prior to his death and he was here in Silver Lake on Saturday – Decoration Day – visiting with his sons Roscoe and John Ferverda and families.

Mr. Ferverda was past 70 years of age and was born in Holland coming to this country when only about 13 years of age. He and the faithful wife resided on a farm near Leesburg and there they reared 11 children all of whom were at the parental home on Sunday.

Mr. Ferverda is survived by the widow, the children, one brother, two sisters besides many other relatives.

The funeral was held Wednesday at the New Salem Church near Leesburg and interment was made in the church cemetery. The 6 sons acted as pall bearers, which was the father’s request.

This mention of Tuberculosis is very interesting, because Hiram’s son, John contracted TB in the late 1950s. It’s possible for TB to lie dormant for years.

Hiram’s death certificate says he died of heart exhaustion and a contributory cause of chronic bronchitis. He was a retired farmer. Book H-22, page 50, local nu 6.  Died in Leesburg. Age 70 years 8 months 16 days.

Hiram Ferverda death certificate.png

The great irony is that after I finished this article, I realized I had completed it on the cold, rainy 94th anniversary of his death.

June 11, 1925 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda 1925 sons called.png

They were a little behind.

June 12, 1925 – Warsaw Daily Times and Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda card.png

Hiram’s Will and Estate

June 13, 1925 – Warsaw Union

Hiram Ferverda estate to widow.png

June 18, 1925 – Warsaw Daily Times and Northern Indianian – Roy G. and Donald D. Ferverda have been appointed executors of the estate of Hiram W. Ferverda who died at his home in Leesburg recently.

During a visit to Kosciusko County in May of 2019, I obtained Hiram’s will and estate papers.Hiram Ferverda will.jpgHiram wrote his will on the 10th of February. Even though he was 70 years old, he probably didn’t believe his death was imminent until that time.

Hiram left everything to Eva, in fee simple, meaning that she in essence could do anything she wanted with this estate, or any portion thereof.

Following Hiram’s will in the will book is an affidavit of death.Hiram Ferverda affidavit of death.jpgFollowed by the widow’s election:Hiram Ferverda widow's election.jpgThe clerk’s office wasn’t helpful, but the Historical Society was very nice and sent me Hiram’s estate paperwork, beginning with the inventory.

Hiram Ferverda estate inventory.jpg

As expected, Hiram owned stock in the bank. He also had a couple of CDs and some cash.

His “old car” was only worth $50, and I surely wish they had said what kind of car it was. It would be worth far, far more today.

The land Hiram had purchased for $8000 in 1893 had almost doubled in value.

Given that Hiram owned 4 tons of hay, I’d wager that Irv paid his rent in a percentage of crops.

What’s missing is the land Hiram owned in Leesburg. Where is that?

The settlement of Hiram’s estate is shown thus:

Hiram Ferverda estate settlement.jpg

There were crops not inventoried, probably because they hadn’t yet been grown or harvested in June when Hiram died. The inventory was settled more than a year later, in November of 1926.

Hiram’s funeral cost a whopping $700, 14 times more than the value of his car, but his medical care, only $30.

Ironic that the insurance was only on the farm buildings, not the houses, or at least not the house in Leesburg.

John Ferverda’s Debt

It appears that for some reason, in 1924, John Ferverda, Hiram’s son, had fallen on hard times. My mother would have been about 18 months old.

On June 21, 1924, Hiram in essence co-signed for a note for John due to Indiana Loan and Trust in Warsaw for $1600 plus interest, due 60 days later. Why didn’t Hiram do business with his own bank?

On April 11, 1925, Hiram signed for a note for son John for a second note in the amount of $3900 plus interest to People’s Bank, his own bank, due in 6 months.

Apparently neither of these notes was paid by either man. Hiram was clearly gravely ill and John was obviously unable to pay.

By the time the estate settled, the total of John’s notes was $6096.84 – nearly one third of the total value of Hiram’s estate, including Hiram’s farm.

I wondered if John borrowed money to purchase his house, but I believe that they lived in that home when my mother was born in 1922, so that wouldn’t explain the 1924 and 1925 loans. These loans look short term, like they expected to be repaid shortly – but weren’t.

Eva paid those notes in order that the land and other assets not have to be sold in order to pay the balance.

I wonder where she obtained the funds to pay that huge bill.

Louise’s Will

This story isn’t finished, because Louise’s will and estate settlement takes up in early 1940 where Hiram’s story left off. Louise died on December 20, 1939 and her will as probated shortly thereafter – but for the rest of the story, you’ll have to join me for the article “Evaline Louise Miller’s Will, Estate and Legacy,” to be published shortly.

Love Letter from Eva

This love letter from Eva was found in Hiram’s Bible, given to him in 1900.

Hiram Ferverda 1900 note from Eva

In it, Eva says:

“Search the scriptures for in them you shall find eternal life.”

Followed by:

Remember me when this you see,
While traveling o’er life’s troubled sea,
If death our lives should separate,
I pray we’ll meet at the Golden Gate.

Your wife,


Hiram and Eva Together

Hiram Ferverda Salem Cemetery.jpg

After leaving Hiram and Eva’s farm and property in Leesburg, I drove to the Salem Cemetery, across the road from the New Salem Church of the Brethren to visit them.

Hiram has been residing here for almost 94 years and Eva for almost 80 with three of their sons, Irv, Ray and Don.

Hiram Ferverda New Salem Church.jpg

The creation of this church was reported in the Gospel Messenger, as follows

The Gospel Messenger Feb. 1911 page 92

Bethel congregation met Jan. 28, in 1 special council for the purpose of dividing the congregation into districts. Before this work was taken up. Eld. John Stout and wife, were received by letter, and two were granted.  We had with us adjoining elders, Brethren Henry Wysong, James Neff and Amsey Clem. Bro. Wysong officiated. The question of division was taken up and after discussion the vote was taken, which resulted in a line being drawn east and west between the two country churches. Salem and Pleasant View Chapel, thus placing Pleasant View Chapel and the Milford church in the northern congregation still retain in the name of Bethel, Pleasant View Chapel being the mother church. The Salem congregations then decided to meet in council Feb. 9, to effect a new organization. It is our earnest desire that both congregations may be benefited by the change made, and that both may prosper in the cause of the Master.

Hiram and Eva had likely been members at Bethel, formed in 1859.

Hiram Ferverda Salem gate.jpg

Across from the church, wrought iron gates beckon visitors into the cemetery.

Hiram Ferverda stone and church.jpg

I have taken several photos of their stone in order that others can locate their final resting place without walking the entire cemetery😊

Hiram and Eva’s stone is almost directly down the row in front of the gate across from the church.


In front of a large pine tree.

Hiram Ferverda gravestone.jpg

Hiram Bauke and Eva Miller Ferverda’s resting place in the New Salem Cemetery, Kosciusko County, Indiana. I wonder if Eva visited often, talking to Hiram, in the 14 years she outlived him.

Based on the estates, I believe the stone was purchased when she died, not when he died. Eva certainly didn’t need a stone to find him.


I’m terrible at selfies, but I couldn’t resist. I felt like I was representing several people that day; my grandfather, John, Mom, her brother, me, my brother and my children.

I also realize that based on how far distant my life is today from this farm crossroads in Indiana, I’m probably also saying goodbye…that is…until I see them all at the Golden Gate.

Hiram Bauke Ferverda (1854-1925), Part 2: American Farmer– 52 Ancestors #240

My introduction to the Ferverda genealogy came in the form of a small blue booklet that my mother obtained at a family reunion. How I desperately wish I had attended that reunion, but I was preoccupied in the summer of 1978 with 2 small children – one that was a newborn.

With a beastly hot summer, a new baby and no air conditioning – my greatest wish was for sleep – not meeting new people and certainly not this thing called genealogy😊

The Blue Ferverda Booklet


In 1978, one of the Ferverda family members authored a small blue-covered book after visiting the Netherlands in 1977. I’m extremely grateful, because most of the photos and a lot of the original information about the Ferverda family came from their booklet. However, no place are the authors identified, so I don’t know who to thank.

From the Ferverda book:

Hiram and Eva were married March 10, 1876 by Rev. Bigler of Goshen Indiana. Their early married life was spent on farms near New Paris and Milford where all of their children were born except George, Donald and Margaret. They were born in Kosciusko County, Plain Twp.

In 1894 they bought a 160 acre farm 3 miles east of Leesburg, Indiana and lived there until the spring of 1908 when they moved into town. Hiram supervised the laying the brick streets in Leesburg. He became a director of People’s State Bank in 1908 and later became Vice President. Donald Ferverda was a director and cashier. In later years, Ray Ferverda became a director and Vice President of Peoples State Bank.

Ira was a rancher and later had a chicken hatchery. They lived in Wyoming for a time, then moved to Leesburg. He served in the Spanish American War.

Edith’s husband Tom (Dye) farmed and later worked with this son-in-law who was an undertaker and had a furniture store. They made their home in the Leesburg area.

Irvin was a farmer with a love for horses. He farmed in the Oswego community and moved to the home place after his parents moved into town.

John was in the hardware business and later became an auto salesman. He lived in Silver Lake all his married life.

Gertrude’s husband Lewis (Hartman) was a farmer and an experienced butcher. They lived on a rented farm until they bought 80 acres south of Oswego. Their last years were spent in Leesburg.

Chloe’s husband Rollie (Roland Robinson) was in the hardware and plumbing and heating business which he took over from his father. They lived in Leesburg.

Ray was a farmer who entered politics. He was a township trustee and then a county commissioner. They owned a farm in Van Buren Twp. near the New Salem Church.

Roscoe was a railroad man, station agent at Silver Lake where he lived. He had a love for baseball. He served in WWI.

Donald was cashier at the Leesburg bank. His future looked bright, but death took him when he was a young man. They owned a home in Leesburg. He was the third member of the family to serve in WWI.

Margaret’s husband Chet (Glant) was a railroad man for 37 years and they made their home in Warsaw, Indiana.

Hiram and Eva were faithful members of the New Salem Church of the Brethren, Milford, Indiana.

The blue Ferverda booklet was written by people who probably knew Hiram, and assuredly knew his children. The photos in the book refer to Hiram and Eva as their grandparents. Thankfully they recorded what they knew.

Hiram Immigrates from The Netherlands

In our first article, Hiram Bauke Ferverda (1854-1925), Part 1: The Baker’s Apprentice – 52 Ancestors #222, we met Hiram in the Netherlands.

We left Hiram Bauke Ferverda, as he was called in the US, setting sail as Harmen Bauke Ferwerda in 1868 at the age of 14. He had been apprenticed to a baker, his mother’s sister’s husband, Johannes Jousma in the tiny village of “Fiifhus” translated at 5 Houses.

Hiram Ferverda 5 Houses canal

Yes, there were literally 5 houses in this little picturesque village on a canal.

Hiram Ferverda 5 Houses Cheryl

Hiram returned from his apprenticeship in time to sail for America in August of 1868 with his father, Bauke Hendrick Ferverda, step-mother Minke, younger brother Hendrick Ferwerda, known as Henry Ferverda in the US, age 10, half-sisters Lysbeth age 4 and Geertje, apparently named after Hiram’s deceased mother, age 15 months. What a lovely gesture by Bauke’s second wife.

From the “History of Kosciusko County”

The second piece of published information that I found about Hiram came from the History of Kosciusko County, published in 1919.

Hiram B. Ferverda has been a resident of Kosciusko County a quarter of a century, grew up in Indiana from early boyhood and had many hardships and difficulties to contend with in his earlier days. Industry and a determined ambition have brought him an enviable station in life and among other interests he is now vice-president of the People’s Bank at Leesburg and owns some fine farming land in the county.

Mr. Ferverda was born in Holland, Sept. 21, 1854, son of Banks and Gertrude D. Young Ferverda. His parents were also natives of Holland, married there, and the mother died in Holland leaving two sons, Henry and Hiram B. The father was a man of excellent education and very talented as a musician and in other pursuits.  He taught music. After the death of his first wife he again married and had two daughters by the second wife. He brought his family to the US and located in Union Township of Elkhart County, Indiana where he spent the rest of his life. He was a member of the Lutheran Church in Holland.

Hiram B. Ferverda was 13 years old when his father came to Elkhart County. He had begun his education in his native country and finished in the public schools of Elkhart County. The family were poor and he lived at home and gave most of his wages earned by farm work to the support of the family until he was nearly 21 years old.

Mr. Ferverda married Evaline Miller who was born in Elkhart Co., Indiana, March 29, 1857, daughter of John D. and Margaret Lentz Miller. Her parents were both natives of America and her maternal grandparents were born in Germany.

After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Ferverda moved to a farm 4 miles west of New Paris, Indiana and 2 years later, in 1893, came to Kosciusko County and established their home on a farm near Oswego. Mr. Ferverda bought 160 acres and developed a splendid farm. He yet owns the farm, but since March 1909 has lived in Leesburg.

Mr. and Mrs. Ferverda have 11 children. Ira O. is a graduate of the common schools and was a student in the North Manchester College and beginning with the Spanish-American war saw 3 years of active service in the American army as a quartermaster sergeant. He now lives at Oswego. Edith E. is a graduate of the common schools and is the wife of Thomas Dye of Plain Township. Irvin G. is a farmer in Plain Township. John W. is a high school graduate and is engaged in the hardware business at Silver Lake, Indiana. Gertrude E. is a graduate of high school and the wife of Rollin V. Robinson. Ray E. a graduate of high school is a farmer in Van Buren Township. Roscoe H. is a graduate of high school and is now serving as a train dispatcher with the Southern Pacific Railroad. George likewise completed his education in high school and is in the army. Donald who attended school 12 years and in all that time never missed a day nor was tardy now is in the US service at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. Margaret is a high school student. The family are members of the Church of the Brethren and Mr. Ferverda is a republican. He was at one time captain of the local Horse Thief Detective Association, and in now an inspector of the streets of Leesburg.

What can we learn from this information?

First, not everything is accurate, including the spelling of Hiram’s father’s name. His mother’s name was “semi-translated” from Dutch to English. His parents names were Bauke Hendrick Ferwerda, known as Baker in the US, and Geertje Harmens de Jong. De Jong in Dutch means “younger” or “the younger.”

His brother, William, by his father’s second marriage was omitted which caused me to not search for him, for several years.

The years are “off” for Hiram’s early married life in Elkhart County.

I wish they had been more specific about the many hardships and difficulties Hiram had to contend with. It’s very interesting that he contributed his wages to the family from the time they arrived until he married.

I had no idea that Ira had attended Manchester College, an institution associated with the Brethren religion. Ironic that he attended that college and also served in the war. Brethren are opposed to warfare.

My grandfather John also attended the Normal School in Angola, Indiana, a college for teachers, and obtained his teaching certificate, but never taught.

The Horse Thief Detective Association was a local detective and law enforcement group of vigilantes formed about 1840. Many had an element of Masonic influence within the organization. During that time in Indiana, near Wingate, Indiana, horse stealing had become so rampant that folks had to completely give up the idea of farming. Arrests were nigh on nonexistant, so the men banded together to not only discover who was stealing the horses, but to apprehend them and put an end to it. They did, becoming relatively well respected, and also becoming investigators, police officers, judge, jury and executioner all in one – sometimes all in the same night or raid. Later in the early 1900s, they became heavily associated with the KKK. Some say they were infiltrated by the KKK, hastening their decline. In the early 1920s, this group met its demise with the downfall of one of their leaders who was convicted of the murder of a woman. They primarily operated throughout Indiana, but also to some extent in surrounding states.

In essence the Horse Thief Detective Association was a volunteer police force with state laws giving the group arrest powers. The HDTA could chase thieves across county and state lines where the local Sheriff and Marshall could not. The HDTA was organized into groups of about 50 men each and there were typically several groups in each county.

The mention of the KKK chills me to the bone. Hopefully that’s when Hiram left that organization. Written in 1919, this article says he had “at one time” been the local Captain, not that he currently was.

Note that the description of 4 miles west of New Paris doesn’t fit the location of either Eva’s nor Hiram’s parents land. Four miles would locate the couple about 1 mile into Union Township, directly west of New Paris.

Hiram Ferverda New Paris.png

The best we can say is that it was in this general location, probably someplace between their parents.

Hiram Ferverda parents.png

This had to be where they lived before they purchased land in 1890, because we know where the farm they bought was located.

Let’s walk Hiram through his life, with the assistance of newspapers. I found a huge treasure trove through my subscription at MyHeritage.

Bauke Purchases Land

There’s nothing between 1868 and 1870 aside from the fact that Bauke, Hiram’s father, bought land on December 7, 1868, in Union Township, Elkhart County, from the de Boer family, almost immediately upon arrival.

Bauke Ferwerda 1868 deed

That farm would stay in the family until the present day. You can read about the farm here.


The first census was taken about 18 months after Hiram’s arrival. Neither of the 2 boys, Hiram nor Henry, were living with their father and step-mother. Hiram was living a nearby, working on the farm, but brother Henry was missing from the census.

I checked several spellings of both first and last names of Harmen, Hiram, Ferwerda, Ferverda and Fervida, and the only one I found in 1870 was for our Hiram who was living a couple houses away from his father and step-mother, with the Simeon Smith family.

Hiram Ferverda 1870 census Click to view a larger image.

In 1870, the Ferverda family was living in Union Township, not far from New Paris, Indiana by the Postma’s and the Krulls, other families from the Netherlands. They were also neighbors with Ephriam Miller, and the Miller family was Brethren.

The Ferverda family was Brethren here in the states, with Hiram eventually marrying Eva Miller who was also Brethren. Eva would have been 13 in 1870 and might have thought Hiram was mighty cute! They probably saw each other at church and farm functions.

Where was Hiram’s brother, Henry? Why was neither boy living with Bauke and the rest of the family?

Henry was 3 years younger than Hiram, so 11 when they arrived. And neither boy spoke English, at least not upon arrival.

Henry & Hiram Ferverda

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

From the Ferverda book, this is the only known photo of Hiram and his brother Henry (Hendrick). I can’t believe how much alike they look.

Henry’s sad story can be read here.


This 1874 plat map shows the land of Bauke Ferwerda in Union Township, Elkhart County.

Bauke Ferwerda 1874 map

Note the Miller influence across the road. Hiram’s eventual wife, Eva Miller, lived about three and a half miles up the road, current County Road 15.


By 1876, Hiram, now of age, applied to become a citizen.

Hiram Ferverda naturalization.jpg

According to Hiram’s Naturalization application found in Elkhart County, the family sailed for America on August 1, 1868 and arrived in September. Hiram applied for citizenship on October 4, 1876, age 21. His father applied on the 7th of the same month.

Ironically, Hiram never completed his citizenship process until during WWI, as reported by the local newspaper.

A Confusing Record

Of course, this information begs the question of this next record. How many Harmen Ferwerdas can there be immigrating from the Netherlands in 1868 or 1869? Did the family arrive by train in Chicago and connect to Indiana from there? It seems that the train would have traveled right through northern Indiana on the way to Chicago, so that doesn’t exactly make sense either.

Hiram Ferverda Chicago arrival.png

This record’s arrival location could simply be incorrect. We would need to see the original to know and it seems a rather moot point because we know where Hiram settled. This record did beg the question of whether he actually immigrated separately from the rest of his family, but the ship’s records, discovered by Yvette Hoitink in the Netherlands tell us otherwise.


Hiram Ferverda marriage.jpg

On March 7th, 1876 Hiram Ferverda obtained a license to marry Evaline Miller in Elkhart, Indiana. Two days later, on March 9, they were married by Andrew Bigler, a minister of the gospel. The couple must have been busy happily preparing!

Andrew Bigler was an elder in the Brethren Church in the 1870s and 1880s in Elkhart County.

Hiram Ferverda and Eva Miller early.jpg

Based on the caption of the photo from the Ferverda booklet, it’s obvious that the author was the Hiram’s grandchild.

The early married life of Hiram Ferverda and Eva Miller Ferverda was spent on farms near New Paris and Milford where all of their children were born except George, Donald and Margaret who were born in Plain Township in Kosciusko County, according to the Ferverda booklet.

At least part of this is confirmed by the locations given in their various children’s marriage applications where Ray, born in 1891 and Chloe born in 1886 were listed as having been born in Milford, and Roscoe is listed as having been born in Leesburg in 1893.

Try as I might, I cannot find this family in the 1880 census. By this time, Hiram and Eva would have had two children, Ira Otto born on November 2, 1877 and Edith born on August 27, 1879.

The next hints we find are in the local newspaper.

In the News

I found several articles that shed light on Hiram’s life in the states. I love old newspaper articles. They flesh out so much about our ancestor’s lives and the times in which they lived.

I searched for Hiram’s name, then Fervida, Ferwerda and Ferverda beginning in 1860 at MyHeritage.

My ancestor, Hiram’s son, John, was born in 1884 but where, exactly? I suspect, based on the fact that his siblings born in 1886 and 1891 were born near Milford in Elkhart County, John was too. However, the family did move in 1885, so John could have been born “4 miles west of” New Paris, the first location given for Hiram’s home in Elkhart County. New Paris was very close to Eva Miller’s father – and all of the locations didn’t mean the actual village, but in that vicinity.

On March 5, 1885, the Indianian Republican reported that “Wash Miller is moving west of Goshen. He intends to take his family Thursday. Hiram Fervida gets the farm Mr. Miller is leaving.”

What does the verb “gets” mean in this context?

Wash Miller was George Washington Miller, Eva’s brother, Hiram’s brother-in-law.

A friend, Ann, did me a wonderful favor a few weeks ago and checked the deeds for Elkhart County. There was no Ferverda (or similar spelling) deed at that time, and none from a Miller at any time.

There is an old plat map of Elkhart County in 1874, but I wasn’t able to find a property owned by either George Miller, Wash Miller or G. W. Miller in 1874. I’m assuming that Hiram and Eva probably lived not far from Eva’s parents, John David Miller and Elizabeth Lentz, or may had even lived with them.

Wash Miller could have been renting or “share farming” and Hiram Ferverda was probably doing the same.

Their Own Farm

In 1890, Hiram Ferverda did purchase a farm in Elkhart County, recorded on page 317 of the deed book.

Hiram Ferverda Elkhart deed index.pngHiram Ferverda Elkhart deed entry.pngHiram Ferverda Elkhart deed.png

Based on the deed description, I was able to find this land, first on the old plat map, then today using Google maps.

Hiram Ferverda Elkhart Co deed 1874 map

Jackson Twp – Elkhart Co. – Elkhart Co 1874 Jackson Twp section 22 w half of SE qtr 80 ac

In 1890, John would have been 7 years old. He would have played the games that boys played on this farm.

Hiram Ferverda Elkhart Co aerial.png


The field to the north is probably much the same. The house on the plat map is gone today of course. This area south of the road looks to be mined, possibly for sand.

Hiram Ferverda Elkhart Co aerial close.png


The house looks like it might have been about where the red star is in the closeup above.

John certainly wouldn’t recognize the property today. I wonder if a few hearty Daffodils still bloom in the springtime where the old homestead used to be. Daffodils and other perennials are a surefire hint for locating former houses. Women have always loved flowers it seems.

Three years later, in February 1893, Hiram sold this 80-acre farm and moved to Kosciusko County, the next county over.

Hiram Ferverda 1893 deed index.png

Hiram Ferverda 1893 Elkhart deed Click to view a larger image.

Kosciusko County, Indiana

In March 1893, just a few days after selling their farm in Elkhart County, Hiram and Eva bought a 160-acre farm near Oswego, Indiana, doubling the size of their land.

March 9, 1893 – Indianian-Republican and Warsaw Times – Real estate transfers: William D. Wood to Hiram B. Ferverda 160 acres Section 11 Plain Twp, $8,000

John would turn 11 the day after Christmas that year.

This 1914 map of Plain Township shows the location of Hiram’s farm. Hiram’s son, Irvin was living there in 1914, but Hiram still owned the property.

Hiram Ferverda 1914 Plain Twp map.png

Hiram Ferverda 1914 map close.png

You can see Hiram’s land in the upper right hand quadrant of section 11.

Google maps lets us look at the area today.

Hiram Ferverda Plain Twp aerial.png

This explains why John Ferverda went to Oswego Schools.

Hiram Ferverda Plain Twp aerial red.png

Their farm included the area, above in red, shown in a closeup below.

Hiram Ferverda Plain twp close.png

The upper right hand corner is wet and swampy, and the lower right hand corner may have actually touched or included the edge of Lake Tippecanoe. The bottom third of the property is still wooded.

The Surveyor’s office in Kosciusko County was exceedingly helpful, providing me with this image of the 1938 flyover from their GIS system which shows the house at that time to be west of a newer house today.

Hiram Ferverda 1938 Plain Twp flyover.png

The flyover image shows us where the original house stood, allowing me to find it on Google Maps today.

Hiram Ferverda 1938 Plain Twp flyover today.png

This looks to be the same house as in the flyover.

When I visited Kosciusko County in May of 2019, I thought perhaps this was a possibility, and took a photo, just in case. I’m so glad now that I did.

Hiram Ferverda Plain Twp house.jpg

I love to find and walk my ancestor’s land.

The white barn to the rear is probably not original. I don’t see it in the aerial, but this is the view that Hiram would have seen, minus the irrigation equipment, of course.

Hiram Ferverda Plain Twp land.jpg

This would have been Hiram’s view of his fields from the house.

Hiram Ferverda land.png

This is Hiram’s land at the southwest corner of the intersection of 700N and 300E. Looking across his property, toward the houses today. Hiram’s house is the one furthest to the left.

Hiram Ferverda land looking at houses.png

Hiram Ferverda land 2.png

The images above are from Google Maps Street View, but the ones below I took when I visited.

Hiram Ferverda land 3.jpg

Standing on 300, looking west across Hiram’s land.

Hiram Ferverda land rains.jpg

The rains had been torrential and the land everyplace was simply saturated. This view above is looking south across Hiram’s fields.

Hiram Ferverda land mud.jpg

While this entrance provided access for the farmer to the field, it was a sure and certain mud quagmire for me, so I pulled to the side of the road, off as far as possible, and turned on my flashers.

Hiram Ferverda land pipeline.jpg

You can see the back of Hiram’s old house in the distance, with the white barn to the rear.

There’s a pipeline of some sort on this land today. You can see part of it in front of the woods, and another part stood directly beside me as I took this picture, at the beginning of the planks.

Hiram Ferverda plank.jpg

A plank walkway had been constructed that headed towards the wetlands on the corner.

Hiram Ferverda skull.jpg

Is it safe to walk here? Am I trespassing, or is the walkway in the right-of-way or on an easement? I’m in the open, with my car and flashers, so I’ve decided to “ask forgiveness” if I need to. I grew up on a farm and most farmers are quite reasonable, especially if you explain why you are there.

Hiram Ferverda bulldozed.jpg

At the end of the plank walkway, several old trees had been bulldozed into a pile. I wonder if any of these trees lived when Hiram owned this land. From the aerial, it looks more wooded today than then.

Hiram Ferverda rocks.jpg

Hiram’s rocks. How I would have loved to take those home, but they are MUCH too big. I did find a couple smaller hand-sized rocks near the road to take and leave at his son John’s gravestone, as well as my mother’s the following day.

Hiram Ferverda creek.jpg

A tiny creek runs beneath the foliage and muck.

Hiram Ferverda bog.jpg

This corner land is very boggy.

Hiram Ferverda stump.jpg

But it surely is beautiful. I think that’s Skunk Cabbage which earned its name.

Hiram Ferverda wetlands.jpg

Rounding the corner onto 700, you can see the wet area from the other side.

Hiram Ferverda wetlands 2.jpg

You can hear the creek gurgling through the underbrush.

Hiram Ferverda 3.jpg

It was hard to tear myself away from the peacefulness here, especially knowing it has changed little since Hiram walked these lands himself.

Hiram Ferverda road.jpg

However, the sky was darkening again, even though it was the middle of the afternoon, and that’s AFTER lightening this photo, taken from the wetlands looking east on 700. The new house sits on the hill on the left, and Hiram’s home would be beyond this maybe a quarter mile. This was one of the gravel roads when Hiram maintained it.


Uh oh, I’m sinking. Time to leave. The rains are beginning again.

Hiram Ferverda land looking southwest.jpg

Hiram’s land looking southwest. I had to take one last look. Goodbyes are difficult.

Hiram Ferverda land south end.jpg

Hiram’s land appeared to continue south into the trees, about 30% of the depth of his property, into this forest. I wonder if it wasn’t cleared because it was simply too wet.

Hiram Ferverda land one last look.jpg

Looking back across the land, I see Hiram’s old house in the center that rang with the laughter of children for 15 years. I wonder if Hiram built this house or if it existed before he purchased the farm.

As I drive on south on 300, passing the corner of Hiram’s property closest to the lake, the streams feeding Lake Tippecanoe from Hiram’s and other properties are flooded.

Hiram Ferverda Lake Tippecanoe.jpg

Was this old tree here when Hiram lived, and when John assuredly played in these waters on his way to school perhaps? What stories it could tell!

The Lawsuit

Not long after Hiram purchased his farm, he was involved in a lawsuit, apparently having to do with the property he purchased. The print is difficult to read.

Sept. 28, 1893 – Indianian-Republican

Hiram Ferverda lawsuit.png

Life on the Farm

By the time that Hiram and Eva bought the farm in Plain Township near Oswego, they had 7 children with number 8 arriving on March 30, 1893, just days after they purchased the new farm. In fact, Roscoe may not have been born on the new farm, depending on when they actually took possession and if a house was already built. According to the blue Ferverda book, Roscoe was born in Elkhart County, but according to his own documents, he was born in Leesburg. It’s certainly possible that Eva, 9 months pregnant had no desire to move to the new farm 3 weeks before delivering her 8th child.

On April 1, 1893, Hiram’s sister, Melvinda would marry James Gibson. However, this might have been a bit of a scandal, since their first child would be born on November 7th, the same year.

Given that Eva had just given birth, it’s not likely that the family attended Melvinda’s wedding. Brethren weddings tended to occur in the home by the minister, with no celebration. Simplicity was a way of life.

The Oswego School

Hiram and Eva’s children attended the old school in Oswego. In April 2019, I visited the Kosciusko County, Indiana courthouse where the surveyor graciously provided me with a photo of the old schoolhouse.

Hiram Ferverda Oswego school.jpg

The schoolhouse is shown standing near the top of the photo – the tallest building in town at that time – and it would be now as well.

Ferverda Oswego students.jpg

My grandfather, John Ferverda, pictured in this photo, graduated from the Oswego school. In 1900, a class photo was taken that included 4 Ferverda children and later published in a yearbook. He probably graduated that year or a year later.

Ferverda Oswego

The building is long gone, replaced by a church today.

Hiram Ferverda Oswego school today.png

However, the surveyor was kind enough to show me on a contemporary map where the old building stood so I could visit.

I pulled into the parking lot of the church, located on the corner. The school probably sat partly where the church does today.

Hiram Ferverda Oswego school parking lot.jpg

The yard behind the church sported a few flowers, suggesting that at one time, this yard hosted a building of some sort, now only a memory.

Hiram Ferverda grape hyacinth.jpg

These grape hyacinth hardy perennials are probably left over from the old building. Today, they bloom alone in the middle of a yard, beside the church.

Hiram Ferverda grape hyacinth school.jpg

Looking at the field behind and beside the church. John played here or saw this very field as it was plowed and grew.

Hiram Ferverda schoolyard.jpg

One way or the other, John and his siblings spend many years on this exact spot, walking the mile and a half to and from school, in all types of weather – past that aged tree beside the flooded creek.

The school wasn’t terribly far from the Ferverda farm, but in the winter, it had to be a miserable walk.

Hiram Ferverda farm to school.png

Hiram’s farm in red, above, and the location of the school at the red dot, right lower area.


Around 1895, Hiram’s epileptic brother, Henry, who was also an alcoholic, would wind up in the poor house in Marion, Indiana. We know very little about Henry, other than he was never found living with the family after they immigrated to America – and we have no idea how he got to Marion, or the poor house. While I told as much of Henry’s story as I could, there is clearly a great deal that we’ll never know.

In 1895, Eva would deliver child number 9 and a year later, in 1896, Hiram and Eva’s older children would begin marrying.


Hiram Ferverda 1896 farm photo.jpgAccording to the information from the Ferverda book, this would be the farm near Leesburg. Hiram is holding the baby, and Eva is in the dark dress. My grandfather, John, was on the horse at far right.

On May 30, 1896, Hiram’s baby brother, William Fervida, married Fannie Whitehead who would die in 1910. Fannie Whitehead was collaterally related to Hiram’s wife, Eva Miller, through her mother’s first husband’s family.

William Fervida later married Maude Fulmer and who would give birth to the Fervida line who owns Bauke’s property today.

Just a few months later, Hiram’s first child would marry as well.

Aug. 6, 1896 – Northern Indianian – Marriage licenses – Thomas W. Dye and Edith Ferverda. Thomas Dye and Edith Ferverda were married Sunday. Our best wishes go with them.

Hiram’s daughter, Edith would have two children, Ruth Dye born in 1897 and Dewey Dye born in 1898.

Hiram and Eva weren’t finished having children themselves and would have two more children, Donald (1899) and Margaret (1902), after Edith’s children were born, so Donald and Margaret’s niece and nephew were older than they were.


On April 29th, Hiram’s sister, Melvinda’s son, Levi Gibson died at 10 months and 3 days of age. A day or so later, Hiram and family would have stood at the graveside in Union Center Cemetery, near Bauke Ferwerda’s home as the baby boy was buried.

Melvinda was also known as Malinda, Lijsbert, Elizabeth and Bettie by various spellings. It’s only through her birth, census and death information that we were able to verify that this was one and the same person.

We know that Hiram subscribed to the newspaper.

June 29, 1897 – Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda 1897 newspaper.png

Does this mean Hiram’s subscription was in arrears?

In October 1897, Hiram’s sister, Clara would marry Cletus Miller, Eva’s half first cousin. Clara and Cletus would set up housekeeping next door to Hiram’s father, Bauke and have 5 children; Minnie Miller, Noah Miller, Lucy Miller, Esther Miller and Clara Miller.

They’ve only been here less than one generation and the family is already intermarried!


On April 11, 1898, Hiram’s brother, Henry would pass away in Marion, Indiana of epilepsy. Hiram and his father, Bauke, were both notified, but the family elected to have Henry buried in Marion.

Something else was going on in the family at this time as well, but it’s difficult to tell exactly what. Eight days after Henry died, on April 19th, Hiram’s father, Bauke, sold his farm to Hiram’s half-brother, William. There was no mortgage or loans.

Fifteen months later, William sold the farm back to his mother, Minnie, Hiram’s step-mother. This arrangement allowed Minnie to own the farm without Bauke deeding it directly to her.

This also effectively shut Hiram, Bauke’s only living child from his first marriage, out of an inheritance since Minnie was not his mother. Minnie’s will in 1906 left everything except Bauke’s widower’s share to her biological children who then sold their portions to their brother William. For all we know, this may have been worked out in advance, but the unusual sequence of events does leave me wondering. It would have been a lot easier for Hiram to simply quitclaim his share if that was the agreement.


In July of 1899, 4 years and 1 day after their last child was born, Eva blessed Hiram with child number 10, Donald.

I did wonder if they lost a baby in 1897, based on the birth order. However, looking at the 1900 census, Eva reports that she birthed 10 children and 10 are living.

Aside from the new baby, it seems that the Ferverda family had a bit of excitement in 1899.

Assault and Battery

October 8, 1899 – Warsaw Daily Times – A large amount of business was conducted at Squire Young’s court Saturday. Ira Ferverda was before Squire Young last Saturday charged with assault and battery on the person of Vern Miller. The young man was found guilty and was fined $1 and costs, amounting to $13.15 which he paid.

This was also reported in the Warsaw Times – except the reverse:

A young man by the name of Verne Miller was before Squire Eiler last Saturday charged with assault and battery on the person of Ira Ferverda. The affidavit against young Miller was filed by Joel Wilkinson, marshal of Leesburg. The young man was found guilty and was fined $1 and costs, which amounted to $15 in all. Both parties reside northeast of this city.

It looks like both boys were fined and probably told to go home and straighten up.

On October 12th, Hiram’s sister, Melvinda, died leaving a husband, James Gibson and 3 children who would be raised by foster families and then other family members. Unfortunately, there is no record of Melvinda’s cause of death. Melvinda was buried in the Union Center Cemetery with the name of Malinda E. on her tombstone. Hiram’s father would eventually be buried at Union Center too.

According to the newspaper, Hiram was maintaining the roads in Plain Township, or at least the ones that bordered his property.

Nov. 16, 1899 – Northern Indianian – Allowances made by Kosciusko board of commissioners (includes) Hiram Ferverda, gravel roads work in Plain Twp., $7.50.

This would be the first of many such notices.

I think Hiram would be pleased that most of the roads are paved today.


Hiram Ferverda 1900 census Click to view a larger image.

The 1900 census provides confirmation of Hiram’s children that attended the Oswego School.

March 1, 1900 – Warsaw Daily Times – Chloe Ferverda has sore throat at this writing.

It must have been a slow news day as Chloe’s sore throat was also reported in The Daily Indianian. I wonder if these types of notices is how the newspapers maintained the interest of their readership – and subscribers.

When duplicate newspaper entries occur I have eliminated all but one. The local newspapers seemed to have a bit of rivalry. Often, the same event was reported in both – sometimes in the exact same words.

April 26, 1900 – Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda 1900 jury duty.png

I bet this made for an interesting story around the dinner table!

May 17, 1900 – Northern Indianian – Jurors April term paid: Hiram Ferverda

The Love Note

This note was found in Hiram’s Bible, given to him by Eva for his 46th birthday. Based on this, it appears that Eva and Hiram had their own Bibles, and I’d wager that the large “family” Bible, now in the possession of descendants, was just for home, meaning it was not portable and was not taken to church.

Hiram Ferverda 1900 note from Eva.jpg

Indeed, Hiram and Eva are together now, beyond the Golden Gate, along with all of their children and many of their grandchildren.

I wonder what happened to Hiram’s Bible.

Nov. 15, 1900 – Plain Township – entire Republican ticket elected – Road Supervisors – 1. Hiram Ferverda $9.20

It appears that 1900 was the year that Hiram began dabbling in politics.


On March 26, 1901, Hiram’s son, Ira enlisted in the military to serve in the Spanish American War.

This from the Army Register of Enlistments.

Hiram Ferverda 1901 Ira enlist.png

Ira was age 23 and a farmer, with blue eyes, light brown hair and a fair complexion. 5’10” tall, he was assigned to the 15th Cavalry, company F.

Hiram Ferverda 1901 Ira enlist 2.png

Ira was discharged at the end of his service as a Sergeant with excellent service.

Hiram Ferverda 1901 Ira enlist 3.png

I believe Ira was the first Ferverda to serve in the military, bucking the norms of the Brethren religion.

There’s more to this story that we’ll discover in 1916!

Nov. 4, 1901 – Northern Indianian – George Curry and Miss Mary Leedy spent Wednesday evening with Hiram Ferverda and family.

Nov. 21, 1901 – Northern Indianian – Allowances of Kosciusko County board of commissioners (includes) Hiram Ferverda, $5.25 labor for maintaining gravel road.

Another entry, same date shows Hiram 5.25, Hiram .90, Irvin Ferverda 3.00 and 3.15.

I wonder how much time Hiram spent per dollar at that time. Maintaining gravel roads is hard physical labor.


Hiram and Eva’s final child, Margaret, was born January 12, 1902. Eva would be 45 years old 2 months later.

January 15, 1902 – Warsaw Daily Times – Hiram Ferverda and wife – girl.

Less than a month later, Eva’s father died.

February 11, 1902 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mrs. Hiram Ferverda was called to Nappanee Friday on account of the death of her father.

May 27, 1902 – Warsaw Daily Times – Delegate to Kosciusko County Republican convention – H. B. Ferverda from First Precinct, Plain Township

June 19, 1902 – Northern Indianian – Wind Accompanying Storm of Thursday Night Causes Damage North and East of Warsaw.

The article lists quite a bit of damage including a house blown off if its foundation and a tree split by lightening. Then, “windpumps on the Ferverda and White farms were blown down.”

Windpumps are another name for windmills that are used to pump water out of the ground.

October 23, 1902 – Northern Indianian – William Jones spent Sunday with Hiram Ferverda and family.

Nov. 13, 1902 – Warsaw Daily Times – George Curry and Mrs. Mary Leedy spent Wednesday evening with Hiram Ferverda and family.

It seem that Hiram and Eva were entertaining quite a bit.


January 7, 1903 – John Ferverda and Roy Huffman left for Angola Monday where they will attend school.

I wonder if John had tried farming to no avail. John would receive his teaching certificate but never teach, instead opting to become a station agent for the railroad.

Two years later, John was reported in school in Goshen, but by 1906 he was living in Carthage in Rush County where he would meet his future wife.

July 8, 1903 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mrs. Miller, an aged lady, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Ferverda.

Just a year after Eva’s father died, her mother passed away as well and had been living with Hiram and Eva. Elizabeth Lentz Miller was 81 years old. Three generations had been living under the same roof, and 4 were probably often gathered when Hiram and Eva’s grandchildren were present.

July 29, 1903 – Warsaw Daily Times – Ben Hartman’s young people and William Parker and family were the guests of Hiram Ferverda and family on Sunday.

In September, Hiram’s daughter, Elizabeth Gertrude as written in her mother’s Bible, or Gertrude Elizabeth Ferverda as written by others, known as “Gertie,” married one of those Hartman young people.

Sept. 2, 1903 – Warsaw Daily Times – Marriage License for Lewis E. Hartman and G. Ferverda.

Lewis and Gertie would have Louisa Hartman, Earl Hartman, Merritt Hartman, Roberta Hartman and Raymond Hartman, and would then raise two of Louisa’s children as well.

Sept. 9, 1903 – Warsaw Daily Times – On petition of Charles B. Thompson for a road in Turkey Creek Township, Charles D. Beatty, Hiram B. Ferverda and Charles O. Gawthrop were appointed viewers to meet at Oswego Sept. 23.

Sept. 23, 1903 – Warsaw Daily Times – Thomas Dye and wife, Lewis Hartman, wife and two sisters spent Sunday with Hiram Ferverda and family.

October 7, 1903 – Warsaw Daily Times – Hiram Ferverda and wife and William Parker and family took dinner with Henry Lentz and family.

Henry Lentz was Eva’s first cousin, born in 1853. Henry’s wife was Mary Rebecca Parker.

Nov. 18, 1903 – Warsaw Daily Times – Ed Whitehead and wife, of (New) Paris, Anna Beagle, Tom Dye and family and Roy Huffman were the guests of Hiram Ferverda and family on Sunday.


January 27, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mrs. Hiram Ferverda was the guest of Mrs. Myer Hartman Saturday.

Feb. 17, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times

Hiram Ferverda 1904 Irvin marries.png

Another child married!

Irve would have three children; Mira Ferverda, Rolland Ferverda and Hiram B. Ferverda.

Based on his draft description, Irve had brown hair and brown eyes.

March 9, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mrs. Edith Dye visited her parents, Hiram Ferverda and wife last Friday.

March 14, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Hiram Ferverda was elected an alternate designate for the State Republican Senatorial convention committee from Plain Twp.

On March 31st, Hiram’s family was mentioned 3 times in the paper.

March 31, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mrs. Tom Dye and son Eldon spent Monday with her parents, Hiram Ferverda and wife.

Hiram Ferverda and wife were the guests of Thomas Dye and family one day last week.

Ira Ferverda who has for the past 3 years been serving in the army is again at home shaking hands with his many friends.

Ira had served in the Spanish American War, gaining no small amount of notoriety by saving the life of General Pershing. Ira broke his leg in the war, subsequently being declared disabled in June of 1918 due to a medical issue.

April 5, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Lewis Hartman, wife and daughter, Ira Miller and family, of New Paris, Ben Hartman and family, Tom Dye and family, Irve Ferverda and wife, Roy Huffman, Parmelia Gawthrop, Mae Dye and Ira Ferverda spent Sunday with Hiram Ferverda and family.

Hiram and Eva had a houseful!

April 13, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Hiram Ferverda, Ben Hartman, Will Parker, Augustus Neibert and Mrs. Mary Lentz are quite sick.

Sounds like something was “going around.”

April 20, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Hiram Ferverda who has been very sick is improving.

May 5, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mrs. Tom Dye and children spent Monday with Hiram Ferverda and family.

June 2, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mrs. Dora Method and 2 children, of Milford, Lewis Hartman and wife, of New Paris, Hiram Ferverda and family, Mrs. Myra Hartman and family, spent Monday with Irve Ferverda and wife.

June 7, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Delegate to the county Republican convention at Winona endorses Roosevelt administration. Hiram Ferverda was a delegate from the first precinct of Plain Township.

On June 29th, Ira Ferverda married Ada Pearl Frederickson. Ira and Ada had either 2 or 3 children, with only Dean living to adulthood. Mary Evelyn died in 1920 the same day she was born, and another child, Frederick is reported to have died as an infant.

July 6, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Hiram Ferverda and wife are entertaining relatives from New Paris and Goshen.

The New Paris address tells us that the guests are Eva’s family.

July 7, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Marriage license granted to Ira Ferverda and Pearl Fredrickson.

The paper was running a few days behind.

July 27, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Under Oswego heading – Mrs. Hiram Ferverda was the guest of Mrs. Myer Hartman Saturday.

August 31, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mrs. Hiram Ferverda is visiting friends in Goshen.

September 7, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mrs. Hiram Ferverda has returned from a visit in New Paris and Goshen.

Mrs. Tom Dye and children spent Monday with Hiram Ferverda and family.

November 9, 1904 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mrs. Hiram Ferverda and two children and Ira Ferverda and wife visited Mrs. Tom Dye on Monday.

Tom Dye was married to their oldest daughter, Edith. Daughters are often referred to by Mrs. plus their husband’s names. At that time, it was a badge of honor of being married and called by your husband’s name.


Jan. 12, 1905 – Northern Indianian – Kosciusko commissioners allowed H. B. Ferverda $6 labor for gravel road.

January 26, 1905 – Northern Indianian – H. B. Ferverda allowed $18 for labor and grading the road

Feb. 2, 1905 – Northern Indianian – Marshal Dye and family of North Webster, J. W. Dye and wife of Ligonier, Hiram Ferverda and family, Thomas Dye and family, Effie Dorsey and Georgia Traster took dinner with Charles Dye and family on Sunday.

March 9, 1905 – Northern Indianian – Ditch notice see below

March 16, 1905 – Northern Indianian – In the matter of the Ditch Petition of Stephen V. Rosbrugh et al in Plain, Wayne and Harrison Townships, to dredge the Tippecanoe River. No 304. Notice is hereby given that the viewers appointed by the Kosciusko have filed their report and will report on April 4, 1905. The ditch affects the lands owned by (long list, including) Hiram B. Ferverda

July 27, 1905 – Northern Indianian – Hiram Ferverda and family; Charles Dye and family; Tom Dye and family; Irve Ferverda, wife and daughter, Myra, Lewis Hartman, wife and daughter, Louise, Winnie Dye and wife; Mr. Shadt and Miss McLaughen held a picnic west of Kalorama Sunday.

Kalorama seems to be on the back side of Lake Tippecanoe, so maybe a mile from where Hiram lived.

In the same paper:

Hiram Ferverda buggies.png

I love old newspapers! I wonder when Hiram purchased his first car. Now THAT would have been newsworthy! Oldsmobiles were mass produced beginning in 1901, but Model T’s not until 1908. Hiram probably didn’t have a “horseless carriage” until after that.

August 24, 1905 – Northern Indianian – Mrs. Hiram Ferverda spent Wednesday last with her son, Irve and wife.

Dec. 7, 1905 – Northern Indianian – Mrs. Tom Dye spent one day last week with her parents, Hiram Ferverda and wife.

October 12, 1905 – Northern Indianian – Irve Ferverda and wife took dinner with Hiram Ferverda and family on last Sunday.

October 19, 1905 – Northern Indianian – Hiram Ferverda and wife spent Sunday with Henry Lentz and wife.

Dec. 7, 1905 – Northern Indianian – Mrs. Tom Dye spent one day last week with her parents, Hiram Ferverda and wife.


Jan. 4, 1906 – The Northern Indianian – Tom Dye and family took Sunday dinner with Charles Dye and family. Irve Ferverda and wife were guests of their parents, Hiram Ferverda and wife.

June 5, 1906 – Warsaw Daily Times – Delegate to the county Republican Convention in Winona Lake – Largest Delegate Body in History of Party Assembled to Select County Ticket – Immense Auditorium is Filled to OverFlowing – Resolutions passed endorsing the administration of President Roosevelt, Governor Hanly, Senators Beveridge and Hemenway and the Work of the Indiana Delegation in Congress – Strong Expression in Favor of Modification of Present Drainage and Fish Laws is Also Embodied – (list of delegates include) Hiram Ferverda.

The verbiage reads that they “condemn the present fish law in its severity and ask the passage of such a law that will so benefit the common people that they will support and obey.”

This fish law, which can be read here, may be strangely relevant!

In essence, this unpopular law prohibits the use of seine, dip nets, gill nets or other kinds of nets, spear, gig or trap and the fine is not less than $5 nor more than $200 for each offense, to which jail time can be added. This does not apply to minnows or private ponds.

June 7, 1906 – Northern Indianian – Republican County Convention ticket is nominated – Plain Township, first precinct, Hiram Ferverda

Hiram’s son John was also a life-long Republican. Of course, the Republican and Democratic parties were both quite different in 1906 than they are now.

September 6, 1906 – Warsaw Daily Times – Mrs. Jane Pollick of Goshen is the guest of Hiram Ferverda and family.

In Elkhart County, Eva’s parents’ estate was finally being closed with their property being sold.

December 22, 1906 – Eva Ferveda (sic) and Hiram Ferveda (sic) her husband of Kosciusko County, Ira J. Miller and Rebecca his wife, Edward E Whitehead and Hattie E. his wife of Elkhart Co. to Calvin Cripe, sect 5 tw 35 – r 6 80 acres Book 114-375 for $3500


Feb. 7, 1907 – Hiram B. Ferverda allowed $7 for hauling tiles working on road.

The tiles would have been for ditching.

March 25, 1907 – Warsaw Daily Union – Hiram B. Fervida, Petit jury for the Circuit Court.

March 28, 1907 – Northern Indianian – Paper reports that a grand jury must be called at least once yearly and the following people’s names were drawn: Hiram Ferverda, petit jury, Plain Twp.

May 2, 1907 – Warsaw Union – Hiram Ferverda and family took Sunday dinner with Ira Ferverda and family.

Accusations and Drama!

June 5, 1907 – Northern Indianian

Hiram Ferverda 1907 railroad.pngHiram Ferverda 1907 railroad 2.png

June 7, 1907 – Warsaw Daily Union

Hiram Ferverda 1907 appraiser.png

June 12, 1907 – Warsaw Daily Union (paper cost 2 cents).

Hiram Ferverda 1907 conspiracy.png

How closely related was Eva Miller to William Miller? According to family history, William Crowell Miller (1857-1934) was married to Lydia Yoder and lived very close to Hiram Ferverda. William’s father was John J. Miller who married Elizabeth Crowell and John’s father was John B. Miller who married his cousin, Esther L. Miller. John B. was the son of Daniel Miller and Elizabeth Ulrich. Esther Miller was the daughter of Daniel’s brother, David.

Hiram Ferverda 1907 relationships.png

Eva’s grandfather was first cousins to both John B. Miller and Esther Miller, so Eva was double third cousins to William Crowell Miller. While they did share a family connection the fact that their fathers were both staunch members of the Brethren church might have done more to unite them than their shared ancestors. But then, everyone in that part of the county was related at about this same level.

Was Hiram prejudiced, or did he have an opinion based on his duties as an appraiser? Or were the allegations simply false? We will never know.

German Brethren Annual Meeting

For Hiram, the trip to California to the German Baptist Annual Meeting in Los Angeles must have been the trip of a lifetime – second only to his immigration journey. We don’t typically think of our ancestors in this time period taking long trips, but Hiram did.

Based on these newspaper dates, below and above, it’s hard to know exactly when this trip occurred, or how long Hiram was gone.

June 13, 1907

Hiram Ferverda 1907 California.png

Lordsburg, which is today more of a neighborhood, is located about 25 miles east of Lost Angeles, up against the mountains along the Foothills Freeway.

Hiram Ferverda 1907 foothills.png

I visited Los Angeles, taking my mother and my son, in 1981 or 1982. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever suspect that Mother’s grandfather had made the trip as well, assuredly via train. By 1876, with the introduction of a train called the Transcontinental Express, a trip from NYC to San Francisco took only three and a half days. Mom and I flew, something Hiram very probably never did.

After returning from his trip, Hiram settled back into daily life.

July 18, 1907 – Warsaw Union – H. B. Ferverda allowed $2 for being a juror

Oct. 31, 1907 – Warsaw Daily Times – The following persons licensed to hunt by the County Clerk: H. B. Ferverda

I wonder why the fact that Hiram was licensed to hunt was worthy of mention in 1907, but never before. Did he not hunt before? Hunting licenses were required in Indiana beginning in 1901.

A Big Change

1908 would bring big changes for Hiram and his family, in more ways than one.

My Brethren ancestor would move to Leesburg and become a Marshall. Yes, Marshall, with a capital M and a badge.

Hiram Ferverda Marshall.jpg

And that’s not all!

Join me for Hiram Ferverda: Part 3 in a few weeks.

Robert Vernon Estes (1931-1951): MIA, POW, Military Records – 52 Ancestors #239

When I first discovered that my father’s nephew, Robert Vernon Estes, was a prisoner of war in North Korea and died, probably of starvation, in their hands during his captivity, I was determined to discover as much as possible about Robert’s short life – and death. Maybe after all of these years more information would be available, although many of his records burned in the Records Center fire in St Louis in 1973.

I asked Twisted Twigs and Gnarled Branches to find and obtain as many of his military records as possible, from as many sources as possible.

I felt that this is the very least I could do for Robert, known as Bobby in the family, 68 years after he was robbed of life by an inhumane enemy.

Killed in warfare is one thing – but starvation is another. I just don’t understand how humans WITH food could deprive other starving humans – to the point of death. How could they not only observe that horrific suffering, but be responsible for inflicting it willfully upon the miserable and dying who were probably begging for any morsel of food?

That’s not war – it’s torture, pure and simple.

Bobby’s Records

The packet of information arrived in an e-mail from Twisted Twigs while I was speaking at a conference last week. I was almost afraid to open the document for fear of what might be inside, but I had to know.

The first record reveals the date that Bobby’s Missing in Action (MIA) status was communicated to his family. He became MIA and was taken prisoner on November 30th, 1950 but the family wasn’t notified until January 4th, 1951 using message “68.”

Robert Vernon Estes record 1

MyHeritage shows that Bobby was a truck driver.

Robert Vernon Estes record 2

I was hopeful that the MyHeritage yearbook collection would include Bobby’s photo, but neither Bobby nor his brother Charles is shown in any yearbook from their collection. I called the local Monon library as well, and while there are some years missing in the Monon yearbook collection, there are also years present where Bobby should have been included. Perhaps the Estes boys attended a different school system, or maybe they dropped out early to farm. In any case, sadly, there is no known photo of Bobby.

Joseph Dode Estes in WWI.jpg

The closest I can get is a photo of Joseph “Dode” Estes, Bobby’s father, taken during WWI. Bobby probably looked something like Joe.

Bobby was an Army Corporal, promoted during his captivity. His address was given as Route 1 in Monon, Indiana, which indicates that he lived in the country.

Robert Vernon Estes record 3.png

Bobby’s mother, Lucille Latta, had remarried to Harry Stockdale in 1941. She died at age 45 of a stroke on August 18, 1952 where her obituary states that Robert is MIA and had been since November 30, 1950.

Robert Vernon Estes record 4

Lucille was not notified in person that Bobby was missing, but by an impersonal letter, even after a several weeks delay.

Robert Vernon Estes record 5

Robert Vernon Estes record 6Robert Vernon Estes record 7Robert Vernon Estes record 8

My heart aches to think about Lucille opening this letter. Did she know as soon as she saw the envelope in the mailbox, standing on that country road that cold January day?

By the time the military sent the letter, Bobby had been missing for all of December and into January. By the time his mother received it, another week or so.

Did Lucille wonder why she hadn’t received any mail from Bobby, especially given the Christmas holiday? Or was mail so scarce from the front that no mail was normal?

Unbeknownst to the family, Bobby had probably been starving since his capture, was laboring in a mining camp, and may have already died by the time this letter reached his mother.

Did her mother’s sixth sense tell her that her son was in trouble and was being tortured?

All Lucille could do was wait half a world away.

Robert Vernon Estes record 9

By June, even though Lucille wasn’t aware, the military was requesting dental information which suggests that they had no information that he was alive. They probably had no information at all.


In June of 1952, Lucille was apparently very frustrated with the lack of response from the military and engaged her elected representatives for assistance.

Robert Vernon Estes record 10

Based on dates, letters seemed to have crossed in the mail.

Robert Vernon Estes record 11Robert Vernon Estes record 12

Lucille just wanted Bobby’s things, whatever remained with the military. He certainly couldn’t use them whether he was missing, dead or in captivity.

At this point, Lucille didn’t know if he had been captured or killed. What she did know was that he didn’t reappear after being considered MIA, so he wasn’t just lost, injured or displaced.

Robert Vernon Estes record 13Robert Vernon Estes record 14

Bobby’s personal items were going to come home. Lucille, as a mother, would have been hopeful that Bobby would return home too, eventually.

Robert Vernon Estes record 15Robert Vernon Estes record 16

The letter to Lucille’s Congressman was written by the Army a few days before the letter to her.

Robert Vernon Estes record 17Robert Vernon Estes record 18

“Period of anxiety.” That’s an incredible understatement.

Robert Vernon Estes record 19Robert Vernon Estes record 20


Robert Vernon Estes record 21

It’s interesting to note that Lucille’s Congressional inquiry did serve to expedite things.

Robert Vernon Estes record 22

Dirty towels and worn, torn socks. Lucille probably cherished them since they carried part of Bobby.

Apparently, these items had been sitting someplace since April.

Robert Vernon Estes record 23

The shipment inventory of effects is dated May 16, 1952.

Robert Vernon Estes record 24

These few items were sent to Bobby’s mother. The bottom items appear to have been sent in July, but the top 2 were sent in a second, later, shipment.

In October of 1952, the Army requested his dental information, again.

Robert Vernon Estes record 25

Lucille died in August 1952. When I made that discovery, I wondered if the stress of Bobby’s captivity in any way contributed to her early death of a stroke.

Bobby’s Bible and “misc brass” weren’t returned until after Lucille had passed away.

Robert Vernon Estes record 26Robert Vernon Estes record 27

Given that Lucille had died, Harry wrote to the military on her behalf.

Robert Vernon Estes record 28Robert Vernon Estes record 29Robert Vernon Estes record 30

Where’s Joseph “Dode” Estes?

Reading this letter from Harry, I realized that no-place in Bobby’s records is his father, Joseph “Dode” Estes either mentioned or communicated with. In fact, it’s Bobby’s step-father who wrote this letter, which leads me to wonder about the absence of Dode.

Where was Bobby’s father and why was he not involved at some level? One would think the military would communicate with a father before a step-father, although Harry married Lucille when Bobby was 10 years old.

The Estes family knew, at least eventually, that Bobby had died. Somehow, someplace, Joe had been told. I noticed in one of my father’s records that the authorities in Lafayette, Indiana in 1938 were asking my father if he had seen Joe. My father stated that he had not seen Joe since the previous Christmas at their mother’s house in Chicago.

This makes me wonder if Joe was in some sort of legal trouble.

Regardless, it tells us that by 1938, Joe was not in the area, assuming my father was truthful, which might not be a valid assumption.

Joe Estes 1940

This September 1940 newspaper clipping tells us that Lucille and Joe were getting divorced and had been separated for a decade. In fact, their separation date is in September 1930 and Bobby’s birth date is March 27, 1931, telling us that they separated when Lucille was 3 months pregnant. Joe may never have been involved much in Bobby’s life.

In 1926, Joe had been in trouble for stealing a car, although he wasn’t convicted because the prosecution’s witness failed to appear.

However, in February 1930, Joe was jailed due to intoxication.

Joe Estes 1930

The State Penal Farm isn’t the local jail, so this sentence must have been non-trivial, although we know he had been released by late June 1930 when Bobby was conceived.

On September 27, 1930, Joe went to jail once again for stealing chickens.

Joe Estes chicken thief

This date coincides with the separation date in Lucille’s divorce pleading. She had had enough, pregnant or not. Joe was still in jail, unless he accrued “good time,” when Bobby was born.

The daughter of Bobby’s brother, Charles, told me years ago that Charles remembered that, as a child, between the ages of 8-10, a group of men with guns came and took Joe away in a vehicle. If Charles’ memory is accurate, that would put this event between 1935 and 1937. The family was shrouded in secrets, and Charles, born in 1927, didn’t see Joe again until he was an adult and somehow found his father.

Aunt Margaret sent a photo of Joe in San Pedro, California in 1942.

Estes, Joe Dode 1942 Dan Pedro Ca..jpg

Joe’s location in 1950/51 is a mystery but Aunt Margaret’s letter says that prior to her mother’s death in 1955, she had been sending Joe money to help with his medical bills. He had reportedly been hit by a car in Indiana or near Chicago. My father thought Joe had died, either then or eventually, as did the rest of the family. Joe didn’t pass away until 1988 in Fairfield, Illinois.

Another of Margaret’s letters places Joe in Claiborne County, Tennessee in 1957.

“I also chewed him out in 57 when Ed and I visited Eppersons and Dode was working in the cain patch after telling me he was down and couldn’t get up. We went after him and when Aunt Corny Epperson told me Joe had come there splurging money received from his son’s death in the armed service – yet crying hard luck to me, I flipped my lid and really laid him out flat with a good lecture.”

Unfortunately, there are no records regarding payment of any funds related to Bobby’s death.


Robert Vernon Estes record 31Robert Vernon Estes record 32

Bobby’s Bible wasn’t returned until after Lucille died. $1.47 and a Bible – all the makings of an appropriately sad country song.

Robert Vernon Estes record 33

The Bible was worn from usage. I hope Bobby found solace and comfort there.

Robert Vernon Estes record 34

The months must have dragged on for Harry after Lucille’s death and the interminable waiting on word about Bobby’s whereabouts.

Hopefully, Bobby was just a prisoner of war and would be released or exchanged after the war ended. If Harry was a praying man, that would have been his daily prayer.

The Korean conflict ended in 1953. Other men who were missing and actually POWs were released, but still nothing about Bobby.


Then the inevitable…

Robert Vernon Estes record 35

Word had come that Bobby was dead, not informed by the Koreans diplomatically, but from a friend of another soldier who had direct knowledge of Bobby’s death. The soldier grapevine.

And then this entry in Bobby’s file.

Robert Vernon Estes record 36Another antiseptic letter. You’d think a personal visit would have been much more respectful to deliver this type of devastating news.

Robert Vernon Estes record 37Robert Vernon Estes record 38

Word came, albeit through the grapevine, that Bobby had died of dysentery and pneumonia. I have to wonder if this was secondary to starvation, or his body was unable to heal due to lack of food. We know that other men died of starvation in these camps days on either side of Bobby’s death.

Clearly, the North Koreans were not interested in the health and welfare of their captives – or even basic human decency.

The money that Joe was spending that he received from Bobby’s death was likely Bobby’s pay for the time that he was captured in November 1950 until he was declared dead in January 1954. Bobby’s pay would have been $83.20 per month, plus $8 for foreign duty pay as a private, and slightly more as a corporal. That promotion was actually posthumous.

Three years and a couple months pay was certainly a windfall to Bobby’s father, equivalent to about $30,500 today. One family member said Joe purchased a restaurant in Tazewell, Tennessee, but I found no documentation of that rumor.

This card in Bobby’s file documents the source of the determination that he had died.

Robert Vernon Estes record 39Robert Vernon Estes record 40Robert Vernon Estes record 41

“The Letter,” direct, to the point, short and final.

Robert Vernon Estes record 42Robert Vernon Estes record 43

Pneumonia – not starvation directly – although other men did starve at this camp during this time.

I wonder if the family actually accepted this letter as final. If one wanted to continue to hope, there is enough ambiguity with the notification being a friend of a friend that one could possibly refuse to abandon hope. Lucille was gone, Harry as a step-parent might have been more accepting, but I wonder about Bobby’s brother, Charles.

Robert Vernon Estes record 44Robert Vernon Estes record 45Robert Vernon Estes record 46

An identical letter was sent to Charles, Bobby’s brother, but nothing was sent to Bobby’s father. The military may have had no information about Joe. Joe was known to drink and was reported to have been hit by a car, incurring amnesia. Joe could also have been in jail someplace. The Estes men of Joe’s generation were not known for their good behavior.


January 1956 brought this letter.

Robert Vernon Estes record 47Robert Vernon Estes record 48Robert Vernon Estes record 49Robert Vernon Estes record 50


Such a final verdict.

Bobby was held in North Korea, not in the DMZ. The Koreans never tracked their prisoners, never informed anyone of their capture, and never kept records of their location, treatment, deaths or burials. Bobby may be in a mass grave someplace with the other men that died each day.

In short, the Koreans never had any intention of these men surviving to release.

Bobby’s remains would never leave Korean soil. He is literally buried at the feet of his tortuous captors.

The only saving grace is that Lucille had joined Bobby and she already knew. She no longer cared about bodies.

Mining Camps

I narrowed the possible POW camps based on the description of the camp where Bobby was held as a mining camp which helped immensely. I found the following candidates.

  • Pukchin Mining Camp – between Kunu-ri and Pyoktong – (aka. Death Valley Camp).
  • Suan Mining Camp – P’yong-yang
  • Koksan Mining Camp

Based on the location, near Kunu-ri where Bobby was captured, he was most likely at the Pukchin Camp, also known as the Death Valley Camp.

I wish Bobby’s records had said specifically where he was held and died. Surely Eugene Inman, the soldier who provided the death information, knew.

Eugene provided the following description of the Death Valley Camp in the book, American POWs in Korea, Sixteen Personal Accounts.

Robert Vernon Estes Death Valley Camp

Eugene Inman, POW

Eugene Inman was the soldier and fellow POW who informed the military that Bobby had died. Eugene and Bobby were in the same unit when they were captured.

Eugene Inman is honored as a veteran and former Korean POW on this page. I want to thank Mr. Inman, now deceased, for his sacrifices and for telling the story of his capture and subsequent POW experience – which is also Bobby’s story.

I am quoting the full portions of Eugene’s biography relevant to Bobby, below, because Bobby can’t tell his own story:

I served with the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, 9th Infantry Ret. I saw action in various parts of Korea from the Naktong River Line in last of July-Aug. 1950 as a member of an RCT plugging holes here and there under highly stressed and traumatic scenes until Chongchon River Line in November 1950.

The early activities in July were struggles to beat back probing and breakthrough efforts of the Koreans. Then my capture running the gauntlet at the pass in the Kunu-ri-Sunchon roadblock of the Kuni-ri area November 30, 1950, when the Chinese entered the conflict. Years of torment and abuse followed, thinking only of survival. Finally my freedom when I was repatriated at “Big Switch,” crossing “Freedom Bridge” Aug. 30, 1953.

The last week or so before capture was very difficult and dangerous. The extreme cold and confusion of the ambushes at roadblocks had cut us off from our own lines. At the time of capture we were separated from the main company, and my outfit was cut off by the enemy forces. Resultant conditions forced our surrender by ones, twos and small handfuls. Broken up into small groups we were to seek our own way out. We were out of ammunition and supplies, and the way to our lines was totally blocked. As the battle of Kunu-ri receded, there were many wounded and dead lying on all sides of us on the hillsides, on the road and in the ditches. The pass was blocked with all kinds of equipment, a mass of destroyed junk.

We were gathered up and placed into a holding area of animal sheds and vacant huts without any protection from the cold. The chill factor drove the cold deep into our bodies to the point that it was debilitating pain and restricted movement, thinking and reaction. The weather was at its worst, for the area was mountainous and it was bitter cold. The temperature was well below zero, in the 30- below-or-more area.

We lost all our warm clothing we had to the enemy who took off of us whatever they wanted. I was left with only light clothing, a field jacket being the heaviest article with a fatigue cap and a tattered scarf. I used the scarf, which was very long, to wrap around my face and neck covering all the exposed area I could. My breath caused a layer of ice to form from my jaw down to my waist. It acted somewhat as an insulator in the area it formed. There was no real protection from the extreme cold, even the equipment, rifles, machine guns, trucks, jeeps and most things with oil turned to glue in the punishing cold refusing to function.

We were forced to march under these frightening conditions for 15 or so days from sundown to sunup. We walked without food, and as we passed civilians they would stone us. Many of the stones found their mark and caused serious injuries. The police and home guard were especially brutal. The wounded and the exhausted among us began to suffer. It was unbelievable. If they fell out and could not go on they were indiscriminately shot, bayoneted, or clubbed to death. During the march we truly had no shelter from the elements, and food, as such was provided, only on irregular intervals of days. It consisted of cracked corn and sometimes was mixed with soybeans. This kind of food did two things to me on each intake; (1) a case of dysentery, fever, bowel discharge of mucus and blood. I was always thirsty, that never really stopped, (2) abdominal cramps and rectal pain. No time of the day or night freed one from the constant urge to purge oneself.

In what I believe was the month December in 1950 we arrived in a deserted mining town in the Pukchin area. The place was called “Death Valley.” We faced the inclement weather, lack of shelter, food, death, and the attempts to indoctrinate us, with “Marxism” given in small groups. It was here that various conditions of fear, beatings and death of many from lack of proper food, potable water and bowel discharge of mucus and blood increased. It took a large toll in lives.

The huts and animal shelters were made from mud, stones and thatched roofs. The room was made of dried mud and the floors were large flat rocks and mud. The rooms were extremely small and we were packed into them in such a manner as to have no room to rest. It seemed that every time a guard wanted to express his anger at the world in general and me in particular he would strike, shove or kick me in the same areas and I never seemed to completely heal. The favorite areas for the guards on the march and/or in the camps seemed to be the arms, shoulders, leg joints and back area.

These areas always seemed to be re-injured by the repeated hits and falls when carrying heavy wood products in the slippery ice and snow.

We left the “Valley” and marched to Camp Five at Pyoktong, arriving Dec 25,1950. I stayed there until Aug 12, 1952. The cold in the marches and food of poorest quality of whole kernel corn, sometimes mixed with soybeans, given every 24 to 72 hours didn’t help matters either. There was little change in food to corn and millet with a little rice on special days. But still men died of starvation.

Then the camp authorities added bean curd and seaweed, which helped those not too weak to make a recovery. Malnutrition was very ghastly in the period from Jan. 1951 to August 1952. I experienced profound changes in the condition of my body. My ankles and legs swelled, and the pain in time became acute. This “bone ache” pain was not in the swelling but seemed to center in the very bones that no rubbing or any other efforts could relieve.

This condition never seemed to let up. It acted up through the day and at night followed up by leg cramps. Then the work details began with long trips to carry wood back on my person over ice and snow causing many slips and falls causing much pain to my extremities. The pain drove me with the insanity of it, to argue and/or resist the camp authorities. It was at this time a guard knocked out some of my teeth when I failed to satisfy him. I was made to stand at the proper figure of attention in the cold and snow, without shoes until the guard was satisfied that I learned to be humble and obedient after knocking me around.

I could barely read these words, dreading each next one, because I knew that Bobby’s experience was even worse. He died. It would have been better, more humane, had Bobby been killed outright.

The Korean War Legacy Foundation provides additional information on the Korean War, including interviews with former POWs, here. I will tell you that I cannot watch these at this point. If any of you watch the videos, please tell me if by some remote possibility, Bobby is mentioned, which video, and where.

Honoring Corporal Robert Vernon Estes

The American Battle Monuments Commission maintains a page honoring each missing soldier in addition to operating and maintaining military cemeteries.

Robert Vernon Estes memorial page.png

Bobby’s page lists his service and military awards. I wonder if anyone in the family ever received those.

Robert Vernon Estes memorial.png

Family can print Memorial Certificates.

Robert Vernon Estes wall.jpg

Photo of Bobby’s name, along with others in “Court 4” of the missing.

I’m glad his service to his country is memorialized.


I believe I have all of Bobby’s extant records from the military now. Anything else will have to be accomplished using DNA on recovered remains, if we would be that fortunate.

More than 7,800 men were lost who remain unrecovered in North Korea. Eugene’s story explains why, given the conditions. Many POWs were probably not buried in “graves,” per se, but along roads and wherever was expeditious at the time to dispose of a body.

I’m still hopeful, in spite of seemingly insurmountable odds, that Bobby’s remains will be found, identified and brought home. He did reportedly die in a “camp,” although North Korea never acknowledged that soldiers were held at Pukchin, shown below. In an effort to conceal the site, bodies were removed from the camp known as “Death Valley” and were reburied or sealed up in nearly abandoned mine shafts.

Robert Vernon Estes Pukchin location

Bobby’s remains, such as they are, are probably someplace in this photo in North Korea, far, far from home.

Robert Vernon Estes North Korea Pukchin

Pukchin is located about 40 mountainous miles south of the North Korean border with China as the crow flies, in an inhospitable region. Access is only via roads following rivers and valleys.

I don’t carry Bobby’s mitochondrial DNA, typically used to identify the remains of soldiers, but I assuredly would match him autosomally if enough DNA could be recovered for that type of comparison.

I stand ready to claim Bobby, for whom I was named after the family was notified of his death.

Ready to welcome Bobby home and watch his flag covered coffin roll off of the airplane into a waiting Honor Guard.

Ready to thank Bobby for his service and ultimate sacrifice, as tardy and insignificant as that might be.

Ready to proudly stand at his grave site as Taps is played and Bobby is truly laid to rest, a hero, on American soil.

I will remain ready all the days of my life.

I still pray for the return of Corporal Robert Vernon Estes.

Robert Vernon Estes name wall.jpg

Mother’s Day and the White Cross – 52 Ancestors #238

This Mother’s Day morning I woke up half way home from St. Louis. I had been speaking at the 2019 NGS Conference in St. Charles, Missouri and drove part way yesterday after my luncheon session.

The rain has been incessant not for hours, not days, but weeks. The rivers aren’t just swollen, they have crested and then crested their crests. Entire farms are underwater, half way up grain silos and barns.

Those farmers won’t recover.

I anticipated a difficult drive in the rain, which is why I stopped as dusk fell – outside Indianapolis last evening.

Indy is about an hour from where I grew up – and I was NOT driving through my hometown.

Mother’s Day is difficult enough without that on top of the fact that the only thing left there to visit is Mother’s grave. I made that stop on my way to St. Louis, taking Mom flowers and rocks from her ancestors’ land.

Barbara Ferverda grave 2019


I didn’t immediately remember that it was Mother’s Day when I woke up in my roadside hotel this morning but was quickly reminded at the first place I stopped for coffee. I needed coffee to stay awake in the four and a half hours of grey drizzle.

Of course, I immediately began thinking about mother. It IS Mother’s Day, after all.

Barbara Jean Ferverda high school photo 1940

Mom’s high school graduation photo in 1940. You’ll pardon me if I say that she was beautiful and reminds me so much of my daughter.

I pondered memories of the farm, my kids spending summers there with Mom – and when my son dropped his pop upside down in Mom’s purse. Such fun but all memories since she is gone.

Just over 4 hours to home, now.

The rain increased, the sun hiding forever. Boring grey windshield time.

I remembered earlier Mother’s Days; ones that mother celebrated with us.

Often, we drove to Fort Wayne or Auburn, Indiana, about 3 hours each way to meet Mom for lunch on Mother’s Day. We generally met at the Ponderosa in Auburn. Ponderosa had a buffet AND a senior discount. Never mind that Mom wasn’t paying – that’s where she wanted to go.

I also recalled the miserable Mother’s Day, also raining, that I loaded the last of the items from her apartment into a rental truck, a couple weeks after her death. I do believe that was literally the worst Mother’s Day I ever had. I tried not to think about that today – actively having to put those thoughts out of my mind as they snuck in from time to time.

I drove past State Road 18, the road that if I turned west would take me past the cemetery where Mom is buried and another 20 miles or so on down that road, to the farm that I loved so much. Such wonderful memories there.

Yes, State Road 18 had always been the road home – but not today. In fact, not for the past many years. My mind wandered down 18, reliving memories, regardless of whether I wanted it to or not.

Mother’s Day tribute songs were playing on the radio.

I decided that I needed a bathroom break near Auburn, but there are too many memories there, so I decided to bypass that exit and stop at the rest stop up the road.

As I drove past the Ponderosa at the Auburn exit, I noticed the sign on the building that said “Available.” The Ponderosa had closed – just one more thing that connects me to Mom gone.

I cried and pulled in at the rest area, needing a break and a walk. The rain wasn’t the only difficult part of this drive today.

State of Indiana seal

Inside the rest area was the seal of the State of Indiana, laid into the tile floor.

I smiled, realizing that I was literally driving through a lifetime of memories – from my birth to this very day.

On the road again, I remembered little things.

Like when I made my own clothes and Mom marked the hems while I stood on a kitchen chair. She would tell me to stand still. I don’t think those hems were ever straight!

Or when a date would arrive to pick me up – he had to come to the door and converse with my mother before we could leave. The date always looked incredibly uncomfortable. That just might have been the idea.

One certainly did NOT go outside and just get into the car. And if any young man would have had the bad judgement to honk the horn, I wasn’t going anyplace with him then or ever.

Thank goodness the boys all had more common sense than that.

I had to smile as I remember Mom shaking her finger and lecturing one young man about something as he repeated “Yes Ma’am” over and over. I don’t think he ever asked me out again. That too was probably the idea:)

I passed by tractors with their plows attached, abandoned in the fields, and I knew the farmers had started plowing and couldn’t go further. I also know what that means – they’re probably stuck, and stuck or not – they aren’t doing anything until the land has an opportunity to dry. Every day lost in the spring can’t be recovered and the farmers try not to show their worry or emotion – but you can hear it in their voices.

I crossed the state line into Michigan, glad to leave Indiana and her memories behind.

Just 2 and a half hours to go now.

Crossing the Line

No one tells you when your mother dies that you never “get over” the grief. No one explains that while you may be a mother yourself, and you cherish your own children recognizing Mother’s Day and spending time with you, that your smile is hiding the tears you shed earlier for your own mother.

No, it’s never over and it never ends.

I try very hard to salve the grief with the good memories, but good memories are gateways to the tears – because there are no new good memories.

I had to focus on the road construction and the rain. Maybe that was a good thing.

I passed Lansing where I moved when I left Indiana. Mom visited often and we set out on new adventures. She loved antique shops and there were lots to explore in Michigan.

Now, half an hour east of Lansing, the grey rain continued as did the construction. However, there seemed to be a problem.

The Cross

Across the median I noticed a car pulled over with its doors open as if someone exited hurriedly. I slowed, immediately thinking that someone might need help. I saw people in the median.

Glancing back and forth between the median and the road with the orange barrels, I caught a quick glimpse of the scene – now seared into my memory in those brief seconds.

First, I saw two dark grey shapes, silhouettes of people, along with bright colors, which confused me.

Then, I realized that one person was on their knees, on the ground in the rain, their back towards me, with the other person bent over them from the right, hand on their shoulder. What looked like flowers were on both sides of the person on the ground.


What is someone doing on their knees in the rain?

Was someone or something hurt?

Had someone been hit?

Was there also a car in the median someplace?

Did I need to call 911?

Did I need to stop and help?

I slowed, preparing to stop, when I saw it…

A white cross in front of the person on their knees.

A few months ago, there was a horrific accident in that stretch of highway involving many cars and semis which resulted in 3 fatalities.

That white cross was not there before.

Those people get to spend this Mother’s Day remembering – in the rain, in the median, on their knees, head bowed, in front of the white cross, planting colorful flowers.

They can’t take their mother flowers anymore.

Or, is the person kneeling the mother who is marking the location of her child’s death? Two young people died that terrible day.

I don’t have the answer, and it only matters to them. Grief is grief regardless.

I wished I could have taken a quick photo in the cold rain. Nothing could ever be more effective or poignant in promoting safe driving, but I would never have intruded into such a private space.

I realized in that soul searing moment that the sadness I carry about my mother’s death – and will for the rest of my life – can’t be compared to the agonizing grief these people must surely feel. In the median of an expressway, alone but at the same time, on public display.

Mother passed over at 83, she wasn’t ripped from me, from the prime of her life, in a horrific pileup accident that took nearly a day to clear.

I’m suddenly grateful for my flavor of grief.

I’m fortunate that I can grieve softly, and slowly, knowing that mother completed her life. Realizing that missing her and wanting more goodness is normal. I’m not grieving for what could have and should have been but that I was robbed of by someone else’s negligence. Her life was not cut short – it just wasn’t long enough for me.

Not everyone celebrates this or other holidays which surface painful memories, or sometimes lack of them. Those who cannot bear children or have lost children or parents tragically. I need to be more cognizant of this situation, my words and what silence might mean.

I hold those people in the median into the light along with all others who suffer in a river of unrelenting grief.

The Fervida (Ferwerda, Ferverda) Farm – 52 Ancestors #237

I never write my 52 Ancestor stories from the road, but this is an exception because of the incredible series of events that happened over the past couple days. So, be warned, nothing you are seeing is “cleaned up,”

My Jewish friend, Moishe, shared with me the Yiddish phrase, “bashert” – destined to be. I’ll let you decide.

I’ll just simply say that once again, I had to call my husband and begin the conversation with, “Well, you’re never going to believe this…”

I swear, I think our ancestors reach out and help us from time to time – that is, when they aren’t stubbornly hiding😊

One key to accurately remembering people, places and events is to record things when they happen. We all think we are going to remember, but we don’t. Consider this my “journal” and you’re coming along on my great adventure!

The Best Laid Plans

This week marks the 13th anniversary of mother’s passing over.

Barbara Jean Ferverda

Mom and I set out on ancestor search adventures from time to time. I did the genealogy and research part, but we traveled together to discover our ancestral locations. What fun we had, and how I miss her.

My plan this week was to visit Warsaw, Indiana to obtain deeds, wills and court information for Hiram B. Ferverda (1854-1925) my great-grandfather – mother’s grandfather – who died when she was a toddler. She knew of him, but doesn’t remember him, although she knew her grandmother who lived another 14 years well. How I wish I could ask mother to show me exactly where they lived, but alas, I can’t so I went searching through genealogical means.

I thought that finding mother’s grandmother’s house, where she played as a child, was fitting on the day of that 13th anniversary. Not only would it honor mother, it might take some of the sting out of the day, and I would wind up in the cemetery where Mom is buried at days end, sharing my discoveries with her. Who knows, maybe she would even answer a few questions!

But that wasn’t at all what happened – and I’m blaming mother. It was her influence, pure and simple!

Warsaw – Finding My Way

My goal was to determine which lot in the very small town of Leesburg, Indiana that Hiram owned and drive by. Does the house still remain today?

Seems pretty simple – right?

While I was in Warsaw, the Kosciusko County seat, I also wanted to obtain Hiram’s will and take a look in the court indexes.

That sounds a lot easier than it turned out to be – not the least of which was because the several hours drive was undertaken in the midst of spring rains that had lasted for days. Everything was entirely sodden and the sky hadn’t seen any color other than grey for days.

The good news was that I managed to arrive at the Kosciusko County courthouse before noon. The bad news was that while the deed was easy to obtain and the recorder’s staff was quite helpful, the clerk’s office wasn’t nearly as accommodating. When I told them I needed copies of 3 wills, they informed me that they normally didn’t “just stop work to take care of people.” I explained my situation and asked what my options were, given that a preliminary call hadn’t been helpful either and I drove from out of state.

The person stated that she was leaving for the day and I could look in the will index myself. Hurray! That’s what I wanted to do in the first place. However, after that, I didn’t feel I should press my luck and ask for court records too. Besides that, time was running short and I still wanted to drive to Leesburg as well as on to Elkhart County before ending the day at Mom’s grave.

Suffice it to say that on my way out the door, I asked the Kosciusko County surveyor, who had been extremely helpful by plotting the lots in Leesburg for me, if he happened to know which road on the neighboring Elkhart County Union Township plat map abutted Kosciusko County. Hiram Ferverda grew up on his father’s farm in Union Township and I was having trouble correlating the old plat map with the current roads.

Roads change names from county to county, the old names aren’t the current names and new roads are constructed, which makes everything more confusing.

The surveyor was kind enough to tell me the names of the Kosciusko County roads I’d need to turn onto in order to be on the right road when I crossed the county line into Elkhart County.

Fervida plat map

My chicken scratches and the surveyor’s directions to the intersection of sections 35 and 36 in Union Township, Elkhart County from Kosciusko County. I hand drew State Road 6, in red, built since this 1929 plat map and cutting across section 35 where I believed Bauke’s land was located.

Union Township, Elkhart County

After locating Hiram’s land in Leesburg, I was planning to drive by what I believed to have been the land of Hiram’s father, Bauke Hendrik Ferwerda, known as Baker here in the US. Both Hiram and Bauke were immigrants from the Netherlands and settled in Elkhart County in 1868. Bauke proceeded to both farm and teach.

At the time that Bauke immigrated, he was married to his second wife, Minke Van der Kooi, known at Minnie. Names tended to be Anglicized, probably based on pronunciation.

Minke and Bauke had 2 daughters when they left the Netherlands, but only one would survive the passage. The youngest child, about a year old, learned to walk on the ship according to family stories passed through the generations.

Bauke had been married previously to Geertje Harmens de Jong who died in 1860. She and Bauke had 3 children, a daughter who died, Hiram whose Dutch name was Harmens Bauke and Henry, whose Dutch name was Hendrik.

Hiram and Henry Ferverda (2)

Both boys, above, ages 14 and 11 in 1868 when they immigrated helped their father homestead.

The Ferwerda’s were a Dutch Mennonite family in the US who spoke neither English nor German. They settled among the German Brethren in Elkhart County along with some of the other Dutch families who sailed on the same ship. The Mennonite and Brethren religions are more similar than different and Bauke and family soon became Brethren – if not immediately.

I haven’t yet written Bauke’s story, and this is certainly a part of the larger picture, but this adventure is deserving of its own individual article because it’s just so doggone amazing!

Horses and Buggies

After a few wrong turns, I found myself on the back roads of Kosciusko County. Turning north onto Kosciusko County road 300 West, I quickly found myself crossing over the county line where I was on Elkhart County Road 15, not to be confused with Indiana State Route 15 which runs parallel about 2 or 3 miles east.

I told you it was confusing!

It’s no wonder I couldn’t put these pieces together from maps alone.

I pulled to the side of the road to photograph two beautiful horses in a green field. Emphasis on green. In Michigan it is still very cold and nothing is green. Indiana is about 3 weeks ahead of Michigan.

Fervida horses

While I was trying to encourage the horses to meander closer to the fence for a better picture, an Amish horse-drawn buggy passed me.

Fervida Amish buggy on hills

How many people in a Jeep can say they’ve been passed by an Amish buggy?

This land is very hilly, and the last thing I wanted to do was spook the horse, so I stayed quite a ways back until after we finished in the hilly section, including the railroad tracks which parallel the county line a few feet away.

The children in the back of the buggy were packed in snugly and coyly waved.

Fervida Amish buggy

After we crossed the bridge spanning Turkey Creek, the buggy moved to the right and I very slowly passed on the left where the bridge widened.

I drove on past, looking for the first road, which I thought was the road on the north side of Bauke’s land. Google maps wouldn’t let me “drive” down that road, because it was dirt, but it looked from the aerial to have an older house that might, just might, be Bauke’s original home. I wanted to take a look.


On the plat map, you can see that the land was owned by William O. Ferverda, Bauke’s son, in 1929. Bauke had died in 1911.

In section 35, there’s a divit with an arrow that looks like it was owned by someone else.

It had begun to rain again, as I turned down the road.

Not to be deterred, I found the house that looked to be older, but of course I had no way of knowing if that house was Bauke’s old home. It was located where it could be the divit.

I continued driving down the road, when I became a bit hesitant. The road was dirt and it was VERY muddy.


So muddy, in fact, that I was seriously concerned about becoming stuck. Looking down the road, I realized that there was too much water, and although the road wasn’t entirely flooded, it was certainly uncomfortably water-logged. Jeep or not, stuck is stuck.

Fervida road photo

Not only that, but I didn’t have enough room to turn around and I could feel the road “squishing” under my tires.

Nope, no turning around. I needed to back straight out of there, very slowly. One false move and I’d be there until the road hardened enough that a tractor could get to me. Translate – days.

I began backing, fully intending to turn into the driveway of the house I had passed near the corner.

I backed for nearly half a mile.

Looking in the rear-view mirror – I saw it. That same buggy.

I slowed once again and was going to tell them that the road was in bad shape if not impassable, when they turned into the farmhouse where I was going to turn around.

I still needed to turn around.

I pulled into their driveway when I decided that I’d have to overcome my shyness and pull on up to the barn and ask if they knew any of the Ferverda family. That old plat map was from 90 years ago, so I was sure the land was sold out of the family generations before, but perhaps they knew some local history. Maybe they knew if it was the Fervida farm at one time. Memories in farm country are long and farmers tend to know the history of their land – but almost 100 years might be hoping for too much.

Approaching the buggy, I realized that the oldest person was a female, perhaps in her 30s, so I wasn’t very hopeful. She was understandably reserved, but after petting her dog, chatting for a few minutes, showing her the plat map with the Ferverda name and asking if a specific plat across the road from William Ferverda’s land was her land – she acknowledged that it was and told me that yes, she did know some Ferverdas and I might want to stop at the house across the road.

The House Across the Road

When you’re on a corner, the house across the road can be multiple houses. There were 2 within view. Both houses in question were newer, so I was fairly sure that neither was the house I was looking for. I was disappointed, but given that the road was flooded, I had no other options. I pulled slowly down the road, hoping someone might be outside – but it was raining so that was unlikely.

As I approached the first, smaller house, with grain bins and barns behind the home, I noticed a large rock out front.

Then, I saw it. My brain didn’t believe what my eyes were registering.

Fervida farm me


I sure am glad I didn’t just drive on. Between the horse, buggy, corner, rain and mud, I had never looked at the rock. Yes, I had driven by it before but since the house was modern, I hadn’t paid much attention.

I pulled into the driveway, just as a pickup was pulling out of the driveway on the other side of the house. I frantically waived for him to stop.

The man pulled down to my driveway and I asked if he was a Ferverda. “No,” he said, “I work for Scott Fervida and he’s home with a sick child.” I asked if this was still the Ferverda farm and he confirmed that it was – then told me to go on over to the house across the road where Scott lived.

I was extremely hesitant to just walk up to someone’s door and knock. They are going to be justifiably suspicious and I’m actually rather shy. Plus – farm dogs can be pretty intimidating.

The man in the truck did me the favor of calling Scott and warning him, then offered to take my photo with the Fervida farm stone.

Meeting Scott

I summoned my courage and walked up to Scott’s door. He graciously asked me inside. The nice young man in the truck had told him that I was “related somehow.” I had the plat map in hand and explained that my mother was a Ferverda and that Hiram had been Bauke’s son.

Scott said that he had the immigration papers of Bauke in his office. By this time, he could have been Jeffrey Dahmer because I would follow him willingly to my death to see Bauke’s naturalization papers – with the original seal no less!!!

Fervida naturalization

Scott’s lovely wife and children were home too, and we all began chattering and talking like magpies.

Fervida mantle

Scott mentioned that their fireplace mantle, above, and one beam, above the window, below, was from Bauke’s old barn. Those logs were hand stripped of bark with an adze.

Fervida beam

A few minutes later, Scott mentioned that his parents lived just down the road on the next farm. His wife called them, and they arrived in short order.

How exciting, an impromptu family reunion!

Scott went to the safe and retrieved a file folder of goodies. We looked through the old envelopes and papers, most of which were from the late 19-teens, the 1920s and later.

Scott is the 5th generation Ferwerda, then spelled Ferverda, now Fervida, to own this land.

Ferwerda, Ferverda or Fervida?

The answer is yes, all 3. In the Netherlands and in Bauke’s naturalization papers, the name is spelled Ferwerda. In short order, here, the w became a v. On the 1929 plat map, William’s name is spelled Ferverda. In a 1940 newspaper article, it’s Fervida.

In the cemetery, Bauke’s name is spelled Fervida, as is William’s. I suspect Bauke’s stone was set later, not when he died in 1911.

By the time Hiram was found in the records, his surname was spelled Ferverda.

So yes, all 3 and now the descendants of the two sons of Bauke spell their surnames Ferverda (through Hiram) and Fervida (through William.)

Bauke’s House

Scott’s father, Don, told me that Bauke’s original house was a small cabin. Most early cabins were about 10X12 or maybe 12X16 – amazingly small for a family – but what every family began with.

By at least 1920, a new house had been built, and probably long before.

Fervida house

I mention this because in the 1910 census, Bauke is living with son William and family who is listed as the head of household, beside Cletus Miller, as shown on the 1929 plat map. It’s likely that the new house is shown in this photo above, with the old cabin right next door to the right.

Don showed me where the old house stood, not terribly far from the Fervida rock, and then he pointed out where the cornerstones for the original cabin had remained, long after the cabin was gone.

Fervida silo cabin

Eventually, the cornerstones had to go when a new grain silo needed to be installed where the cabin once stood.

Bauke’s Barn

Another item in Scott’s office was a framed aerial photo of the property that included the original barn, now torn down.

Fervida old barn

There’s a lot of glare on the glass from the window, but you can see the barn.

We know that the barn immediately in front of the original barn is 40X80 because of this article detailing the barn raising in 1920.

Fervida article

I laughed at the mention of how many automobiles were there. Apparently the horse and buggy had been replaced in the Brethren families, but most women never drove.

The barn wall of the original barn was incorporated into the “new” barn as a cost savings measure. Farmers were always frugal.

I grew up on a farm and love barns. Don took me inside the barn and showed me the original studs remaining and how they “shored up” old wall and retrussed it to be part of the new wall.

Fervida barn

You can see that the studs have been reused as there are notches for connecting beams no longer present.


Pinch me, here I was standing in Bauke’s barn.

A day ago, I didn’t even know it existed.


Surreal doesn’t even begin to touch this.

Don grew up on this farm, helping his father, Eldon, who was William’s son. William didn’t pass away until 1960, so Don knew him well.

Fervida tractor

This early International Harvester tractor looked much like the one I learned to drive.

Of course, now its dwarfed by contemporary monstrous tractors and modern equipment.

Fervida rock tree

I tool this photo for the rock, but it shows the current “new” barn and other out-buildings in relation to the grain silo with the conical shaped bottom, to the right behind the tree and barn.

William Fervida and Family

Unfortunately, we don’t have a photo of Bauke, although Don is checking with his sister to be sure.

We do have a lovely photo of William and family.

Fervida, William

Fervida, William back

Thank goodness someone wrote on the back!

Bauke’s Furniture

When the Fervida family had to tear William’s house down, they salvaged the remaining original furniture.

Scott was kind enough to show me both pieces, lovingly integrated into his home.

Fervida Don and Scott Hoosier cupboard

Here, Scott and Don stand beside Bauke’s cupboard. My mother called these pieces “Hoosier cupboards.” One of the reasons I think Bauke built the larger house before his death, as opposed to William later, is because a piece of furniture this size would take a disproportionate part of a log cabin. It simply wouldn’t fit.

Scott said that this piece, and the one below were both refinished by an Amish craftsman because they were literally black with age and wear.

Fervida dresser

This dresser lives in the spare bedroom. That’s me, very happily taking the picture and framed in the mirror, like a mirror into the past. That was Scott’s lovely daughter’s suggestion! I told her she needs to study genetics😊

Notice the candlestands beside the mirrors.

The corners of the drawers are beautifully dovetailed.

Fervida dovetail

Saved the Best for Last

After returning downstairs, I mentioned my Mom’s Bible in the context of my article last week. Scott said, “well, maybe you’d like to see this,” walked into his office again, and pulled this off of his shelf.

Fervida Bible

“What’s this?”, I asked.

Don told me that before his grandfather, William, died, William told him to be sure this Bible didn’t leave the family.

The Bible always sat on the dresser in William’s house, in the center. That’s the same dresser with me in the mirror.

Fervida Bible spine

This beautiful Bible is worn.

Fervida Bible page

The first thing Scott’s mother and I did was to look for names, births, deaths and marriages. Not one thing was recorded.

On the front page, we noted that the Bible was published by Mennonite Publishing Company.

It’s interesting because the oral family history on my side stated that the brother, William, who lived near Nappanee was Mennonite. However, Don indicated that the family was always Brethren to the best of his knowledge.

Clearly, William felt this was a heirloom when he passed away.

The Mennonite Publishing Company published from 1875-1908 but of course this doesn’t necessarily mean that’s when the Ferverda family obtained the Bible.

Fervida Bible 1884

There was no copyright, per se, but we did find that this had been registered in the Library of Congress in 1884 which at that time seemed to function in essentially the same way. It’s likely that this Bible was purchased originally sometime after 1884 and before 1908, meaning before Bauke’s death.

Unfortunately, there were no dates recorded in the Bible, but a lot of political newspaper clippings from later years.

That was torture!

These large “Big Bibles” or “Great Bibles” as they were called weren’t carried to church, but were used in home readings and study.

Judging from the wear on the cover, this Bible was well-used. It’s in amazingly good condition given that it’s someplace between 110 and 135 years old.

We know unquestionably that it was Williams. Was it Bauke’s?


As the afternoon turned into early evening, I realized I really needed to get on the road as I had miles to go before reaching my destination for the evening. Furthermore, I was probably standing between these people and their dinner.

Scott’s wife asked me if I would join them for dinner, but I felt I had already intruded enough. I had literally been there for hours.

I declined, mentioning that I wanted to visit my grandparent’s graves in Silver Lake yet that day, winding up in Peru an hour and a half further south near where Mom was buried, preferably before nightfall.

As Scott’s parents exited through the garage, I left with them, saying my goodbyes. Don asked me once more if I wouldn’t join them in town, Nappanee, for dinner. I really, really wanted to, but I needed to visit Mom’s grave yet and had planned to be another 90 minutes south before morning when I would drive on to St. Louis. It was already going to be a long day. If I stayed for dinner, I wouldn’t make it any further south. And I wouldn’t see Mom on the 13th anniversary of her passing.

What to do?

Don’s wife suggested a couple hotels in Nappanee, and I decided to call my husband and see if he could book me in someplace. While that was taking place, I would indeed join Don and his wife for dinner. Fingers crossed.

As we drove the few miles into town, the rain became torrential, meaning that we were soaked to the skin in the 10 feet from the vehicles to the door of the restaurant. I was VERY glad I had opted not to drive further and very much enjoyed visiting with my Fervida cousins.

As our meal was delivered to our table, Don said grace, a practice long lost in most places, but not in the Fervida family in Indiana. I added my own special thank you for finding my Fervida family, thanks to a buggy and a flooded road.

I so enjoyed absorbing everything Don had to say. I wish I had more time to spend.

The Hotel

Fervida round barn

I spent the night in the “red hotel” as the locals call it, just down the road from this round Amish barn on Amish Acres. I grew up with round barns nearby and hadn’t seen one in years.

As I tucked myself in for the evening, in a room with quilts and handmade curtains, the rain poured relentlessly. I looked outside to see torrents of water running and inches everyplace. There was too much rain and no place for it to go.

The morning light would reveal floods, including flash floods that washed across roads, stripping the fertile topsoil in the fields away. These are the days that try farmers’ souls. I wondered if Bauke saw floods like this.


My morning began with water in the lower level of the hotel. Fortunately, my room was on the second floor.

The rains had lulled, at least momentarily, but every time I woke up during the night, the rain was still pounding on the roof.

Fervida morning

The sun tried to peek through the clouds, but soon gave up and retreated.

Fervida Amish buggies

The first thing I needed to do was find a grocery store or someplace to purchase a bouquet of flowers to divide between the graves of my grandparents, my Mom and step-father and my two step-siblings. All stores in Amish country have special areas for parking horses and buggies.

I realized that in my excitement the previous day that I had forgotten to ask Scott if I could have a rock for my garden from Bauke’s farm. I often collect a rock to take home, something permanent and tangible from the land that once belonged to my ancestors. I particularly like rocks plowed from their fields, and no farmer ever says, “No, I want all those rocks to hit with the plow.”

Scott indicated that he wasn’t home, but that he’d call Don and see if he was available. I told Scott I could easily find a rock along the edge of a field, I just needed permission, not assistance.

Fervida flooded land

As I drove down State Road 6, I looked to the right to see Bauke’s land entirely covered with water. Turkey Creek had not only overflowed its banks, it had over-washed the road and covered the fields. You can see the grain silos in the distance in the location of Bauke’s original home.

I was sick at heart for Don and Scott, because as a farm girl, I knew exactly what this meant.


I went the “long way round,” avoiding the floodwaters and pulled into the driveway of the barn.

I saw a rock that someone had thrown out of the field and that was waiting for me to rescue it, sitting patiently in the roots of a nearby tree.

Fervida rock for John

As I carried the rock to the car, Don pulled in the driveway too. I quickly explained that Scott had given permission for me to rock shop, and I explained to Don that I add ancestor rocks to my garden as a way of bringing a little bit of them home with me. As it turned out, Scott had called Don and Don had found me a wonderful rock, in addition to the one I picked up.

As we talked, I mentioned that I’d like to pick up a couple small stones to take to my grandfather’s grave and my mom’s. He offered to help, and we drove across the road to a culvert where Don had installed catch basins the year before.

Fervida catch basin

The road was full of corn cobs, meaning that during the night, the water had over-washed the road, taking with it soil and anything else it could carry away as it raced towards Turkey Creek. Not just flash flood warnings, but flash floods indeed.

Don helped me select and clean the mud off the rocks to take to the cemeteries.

Fervida pretty rock

As we drove back to my vehicle, I noticed yet another rock, about half the size of a small car. We opined that this one was a bit too large for the Jeep. What a beautiful stone that Bauke didn’t even know he had. Don found it plowing and decided it was too beautiful to bury. I wondered what kind of stone it was, and Don replied that it was “just a stone of some kind,” an answer very similar to one my beloved step-father gave my kids decades ago when asked the same question about one of his field rocks.


I asked Don if I could take his picture in front of the Fervida Farm rock that he and his wife had engraved for Scott’s birthday. The farm equipment in the background is just so appropos. Wouldn’t Bauke be amazed at the changes in farming since he plowed this ground, probably using a mule and standing on the plow.

I thanked Don again, for everything, but in particular for being such a wonderful steward of our ancestor’s farm. I’m so glad that Scott loves it as much as Don.

Turkey Creek

Fervida Turkey Creek across field

Turkey Creek snakes its way through Bauke’s farm, swollen and flooded.

Fervida Turkey Creek flooded

No driving down the road today. The creek has overflowed everyplace!

Fervida Turkey Creek flood

Skeletal irrigation equipment looks strangely out of place.

Fervida bridge

As I drove away, I turned back one last time to take a final, lingering look and say goodbye.

I crossed the bridge where less than a day earlier, I had passed that Amish buggy.

Today, on my way out, I was stopping at the church that had once been Turkey Creek Brethren Church. Don said that to the best of his knowledge, the Ferverda family had always been Brethren in the US. Bauke and family were members of Turkey Creek Church.

I asked why they were buried at Union Center Church cemetery if they had attended Turkey Creek, and Don said that there was no cemetery at Turkey Creek – even though it was an older church. All Brethren were buried at Union Center. I never thought of that.

Turkey Creek Church

Turkey Creek Brethren church ceased operation in 2012 and the building has since been purchased by another congregation.

Fervida Turkey Creek church

The church remains the same, with the original structure incorporated into the current building.

Fervida Turkey Creek 2

The old trees were probably here when Hiram drove his horse and buggy up this same pathway to the church.

Fervida Turkey Creek sign

A sign commemorates the original church.

I pulled into the parking lot to take a closer look. I was hoping to see some part that I could identify of the original building, but no dice.

Fervida Turkey Creek cross

Even the cross is much more contemporary that it appears from a distance.

Fervida Turkey Creek church 3

As I walked towards the rear of the church, I realized something very important.

That grain elevator in the distance is Bauke’s land, a mile away.

Fervida plat map churches

You can see the church on the 1929 plat map, at left. I’ve marked it as well as the location of the barns and grain bins today with red arrows. A section is a mile wide.

Fervida land from Turkey Creek church

The flooded fields between the church and the grain silos are Bauke’s. It’s no wonder that Bauke and family attended Turkey Creek Church – it was literally right next door, within sight. The next generations of Ferverda/Fervida men would also attend Turkey Creek Church. Understanding the history of Turkey Creek Church and Union Center explained why the Fervidas were members in one place and buried in another. Previously, I had presumed membership at Union Center because that’s where they were buried.

My Grandfather, Pawpaw

Leaving Turkey Creek church behind, I headed for Silver Lake, 45 minutes away where John Ferverda, my grandfather, Bauke’s grandson is buried.

John Ferverda stone

I arranged the flowers in a milk jug I had brought along for the occasion, placing the rocks lovingly at John’s end of the stone. The larger rock from Bauke’s farm and the smaller one from Hiram’s. John grew up on Hiram’s farm, of course, but he assuredly visited his grandfather. Bauke didn’t pass away until John was 29 years old. John probably played in Bauke’s fields and along the banks of Turkey Creek.

Fervida stones John Ferverda


My next stop was the cemetery in Galveston, Indiana where Mom is buried. I feel like I’ve traveled the Ferverda Cemetery trail these past few days.

Barbara Jean Ferverda stone

Mom’s married surname at her death was Long, but my brother and I had her birth surname inscribed on the front as well, along with his and mine on the back. Once a genealogist, always a genealogist.

Fervida stones Barbara Ferverda

I placed the stone from Hiram’s farm where Mom’s father grew up beside the stone from Bauke’s farm – the one Don had so graciously washed for the journey.

I wonder how long those stones, a small piece of her ancestor’s lives, will remain. I hope that they will survive to greet a future generation who will stand where I stood and wonder why someone placed those stones on Mom’s grave.

One might say that Mom wanted these stones. She certainly sent me on quite the round-about adventure on the way to visit her grave – and it made me a day late.

What an incredible gift.

Thanks Mom!

Mom’s Secretary and the Hidden Gift – 52 Ancestors #236

April 29th marks the 13th anniversary of Mom’s “passing over.” Of course I think about this, because I can’t NOT think about it.

Part of the grief is still fresh, especially when I’m somehow caught by surprise, but many rough edges have been softened into cherished memories by time.

Mom’s lovely secretary, one of my favorite things, sits in my living room now. I am the steward.

Mom's secretary.jpg

Mom always referred to it as “Mother’s Secretary,” which is, not surprisingly, what I call it too. But now, it’s mine and someday maybe someone else in the family will eventually call it “Mother’s Secretary.”

A secretary is a type of desk with a drop-down front that is used as the writing surface. Mom’s had some secret cubbyholes inside after you lowered the front, and a couple of shelves below as well.

After Mom passed, I installed a few of her Avon award statues. She was extremely proud of her accomplishments, as was I, especially as a 3rd career that stretched well into her 80s. I know she would approve.


The lower shelves, at home, always held vintage books. Margaret Mitchell’s classic, “Gone with the Wind,” one of my all-time favorites always lived there as did Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry which I don’t think I’ve read even yet today.

Mom's secretary poems.jpg

The book of poetry was bound in soft painted leather and was simply beautiful to behold – it didn’t matter what was inside.

Books were an expensive luxury, so sometimes we bought discarded books from the classroom “library” at Lincoln School.

School books.jpg

Most of those were sold at Mom’s estate auction or rummage sale years ago, but the rattiest, which means my favorites, didn’t sell. They still have the price tags on the front.

Bobsey Twins.jpg

Other books on the shelf included several Bobbsey Twin books – some that had been Mother’s and a few newer ones, now 50+ years old, that were mine. Only two remain. I should give them to my granddaughters. I sure loved the Bobbsey twins and read those books several times each.

Gone with the Wind.jpg

I devoured Gone with the Wind so many times that the book began to fall apart.  Later, seeing the movie in color with Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh was a treat to die for. I loved the movie as much as the book, if that was possible. I learned so much about romance, handsome men and strong women! I also internalized lessons about slavery, freedom and alcoholism along with right and wrong. I’m not at all sure Mom meant for me to absorb ANY of those lessons with the veracity that I did.

A Sacred Space

In my childhood home, the secretary always stood in the living room, nestled in a corner beside the fireplace. For years I felt very grown-up having the privilege of sitting there doing my homework. I actually enjoyed homework, which was much better done at the special secretary instead of at the much-too-sterile Formica kitchen table.

Besides, the kitchen was busy, the living room wasn’t.

One day when I was about 10, I was absolutely horrified to discover that I had pressed so hard that my writing had gone through the paper and had marred the finish inside the desk. I never felt right again about doing homework at Mom’s secretary.

However, I would occasionally sit there to write “special” things. I seemed to connect with inspiration in that sheltered space.

Mom's secretary open.jpg

I began reclusively writing poetry. Mom’s secretary seemed so embracing and safe, with its secret-compartment-like essence. Some of my poems were bright and sunny, but most reflected the darkness of grief, loss and heartache. The loss a child feels when they lose too many loved ones too quickly and are left lonely and alone.

As time moved on, so did the secretary. Mom remarried and moved to my step-father’s farm, taking the secretary along of course.

There too it always had its own reassuring secure place. Mom always kept certain items there, and today, in my home, it still has the same things in the same locations. I wonder if it was the same when it belonged to my grandmother. I’d bet so.

It always made me feel good to see the secretary although I didn’t really think about it at the time. I don’t recall that the thought ever occurred to me that someday it might be mine. The secretary was just always a warm friend greeting me as I walked into the living room, sometimes on an errand to retrieve something for mother.

Twenty-plus years later, after my step-father passed away, Mom moved to an apartment in town. The secretary, which had long before reached the antique stage, looked strangely out of place in the white-washed walls of mother’s new city apartment. By this time, the secretary, along with a table and mother’s bedroom furniture, were the only antiques among the upholstered chairs and carpet.

The secretary may have looked out of place, but as a silent sentinel, it was still welcoming and reassuring. Mom still used it as a desk as well as storage for its familiar stamps, envelopes and paper, along with her crossword puzzle books, a deck of cards, pens and pencils and some dice from the Yahtzee game so we could find them.

It was always beautiful with its carved and raised front. I remember tracing those beautiful wooden swirls so many times with my finger.

From there, Mom moved to another apartment near where my brother lived for the last nine months of her life. It was in this apartment that I first realized that my brother, sister-in-law and I would have to figure out what to do with mother’s things eventually.

While there wasn’t much of a physical nature that I wanted, I did want the secretary which had been such a quiet part of my life for so many years – nearly half a century.

By then I could open the desk and look at the homework marks and smile. Mom never mentioned them to me, but she couldn’t have missed them. Maybe she knew how badly I felt.

A New Home

After Mom’s passing, I brought the secretary home in a rented truck on one very sad Mother’s Day and installed it in the dining room in a little nook that seems to be made just for Mom’s secretary. For the longest time, I’d glance in that direction and be a little startled while reflexively thinking to myself “what’s Mom’s secretary doing here”?

Slowly, the startle went away, and now it’s just a warm presence in the corner, near me as I iron and quilt and sew. Keeping me company, surrounding me with something of Mom’s essence. My old friend, beckoning, saying hello, reminding me of happy times that Mom and I spent together across so many years and miles.

Sometimes I walk by and caress Mom’s secretary, smiling a little sadly and remembering. I open it from time to time and take out things that were hers, Avon notes and receipts in her increasingly shaky handwriting that mean absolutely nothing, but I can’t bring myself to throw away.

Mom's receipts.jpg

Mom’s Bibles, the one her mother gave her for Christmas in 1951, now much worn.

Mom's Bible.jpg

The one we got her when my kids were young when she asked for a new Bible for Christmas, and the one my father gave her. Her old one is my favorite, by far, with her handwriting throughout her life, holding obituaries and birth announcements inside the cover.

Mom's BIble inside.jpg

I imagine what Mom was thinking as she inscribed those important family dates; births, marriages and deaths. I can close my eyes and see her at the secretary, writing. It’s almost as if I could just reach out…

I think of her. I touch her things and smile, sometimes through tears as the ghostly memories transport me back to her.

The trinkets of her life still live in the little cubbies. I’ve added a few items of my own, like boxes of cards that I send with care quilts as they leave for their lives with their new owners. It’s kind of like Mom is with me a bit as I open the secretary to write an uplifting note. That only seems right, given that I make the quilts sitting at the table beside the secretary.

The 13th Anniversary

This year’s anniversary of Mom’s passing is a bit different. As fate would have it, I’ll be leaving the day before to speak about DNA at the NGS conference in St. Charles, Missouri and passing not terribly far from her grave. “Not far,” as in marked by hours.

Mom isn’t buried “near” to anyplace I travel with any regularity. I think I’ve only been to her grave 2 or 3 times, but this year, I’ll be visiting to say hello, on the same day I said goodbye 13 years ago. How’s that for irony.

I’ll chat with Mom, saying whatever comes to mind, as if she can hear me.

Perhaps I’ll sit on a quilt in the grass by her stone and tell her where I’m headed and what I’m doing. She encouraged me to “tell people’s stories” revealed by their DNA. She would be very surprised not only that I’ve done exactly that, but how the fledgling genetics industry she knew has prospered and grown. If she was still with me, I’d have her DNA in the newer databases too.

The Gift

Mom gifted me a few days ago, in a very odd way, reminding me of her presence. I felt her near.

I was dusting the secretary, something I’ve done hundreds of times now. Mom collected toothpick holders. At the auction, a few either didn’t sell or perhaps she held them out because she particularly liked them. I remember her crying as the entire box sold for an obscenely low price, but by then, it was too late. I so desperately wish I had bought them.

In any case, as I moved a toothpick with a metal lid, I heard a faint “clink.” As I put the toothpick back on the secretary, I heard it again. Odd, I had NEVER heard that before.

Mom's toothpick.jpg

I picked the toothpick up and opened the lid to discover my Mom’s cross that I had given her many years before. I wondered after she passed away what happened to the cross, but I presumed that another family member was cherishing the cross and never thought more about it.

Mom's cross.jpg

Imagine my surprise. I couldn’t help but wonder why Mom put it in a toothpick holder, of all places.

The last few months of her life, mother was having multiple small undiagnosed strokes, which makes me wonder if she took the cross off for some reason, putting it in the little toothpick holder which probably was sitting near her chair, for safekeeping. Perhaps she forgot where she put it, and it’s clearly not someplace one would randomly stumble across looking for a piece of jewelry.

Odder still, there was no chain, just the cross. It had a chain when I gave it to her.

I cried when I realized that somehow, Mom had managed to gift me with her cross so many years later. A gift that had been waiting for me all that time – in her secretary.

Now I’m even more grateful to be the steward of her secretary, my silent forever friend – spanning 5 decades of our lives together across two states. The secretary has been in our family for parts of two or three centuries and at least three generations, if not more. I don’t know how, when or where my grandmother acquired it.

I still miss Mom. Perhaps more than ever as the years slowly increase, marking the cavernous time from the last time I heard her voice and held her hand. I remember both events clearly. I was driving home, talking to her, the evening before her “big stroke” and had to stop to remove a family of geese from the road. She was laughing at me, admonishing me to be careful. Just days later, I held her hand as she died.

Even her last message on my phone, which I replayed for years, disappeared one day.

Wearing Mom’s cross eases the pain of her passing a bit, that bottomless hole that will never even begin to fill, for a few minutes anyway, until it doesn’t anymore.

See you Tuesday, Mom.

Mom's cross with my helix.jpg

Notre Dame and Me – 52 Ancestors #235

Not only is the week preceding Easter a religiously significant week for Christianity, it is as well for Jews who celebrate Passover, the root of Christendom’s Good Friday. The Sunni sect of Islam also fasts in observance of Passover. These religions all have their roots in the same place, just as we are all related to each other.

If Easter, Passover and their associated rites in the various religions that mark these days as Holy are emotion-filled in their own right, this past week has been exponentially so.

Notre Dame fire

By LeLaisserPasserA38 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78064310

A few days ago, on April 15th, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned, not quite to the ground, but was extremely damaged in the inferno. The attic of the cathedral, known as “the forest” because of the extremely long old-growth oak trees that were harvested about the year 1160 for beams went up like tinder. The walls and towers remain, along with the famous medieval rose stained-glass windows.

Notre Dame rose windows

By Julie Anne Workman – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11590000

As fate would have it, many of the statues on the roof and spire had been removed due to ongoing renovation. The treasures inside were passed, hand to hand, through a human chain to remove them as the fire burned through the roof and before the flames engulfed the upper reaches of the cathedral.

A stunned world watched Notre Dame burn for hours, staring breathlessly as night fell and the fire moved along the roofline, consuming everything in its path, like a hungry monster. The spire flamed dramatically, like a torch, then toppled, falling through the roof into the church, leaving skeletal scaffolding surrounding a black hole.

The fire photo above is the only one that I’m sure is copyright-free, being found on Wikipedia, but the images below are the result of a Google search.

Notre Dame google fire.png

One of the images, the third row from the top, third photo from the left, is horribly beautiful. God, Mother Nature or whatever name you call the Deity, created fire, and man created Notre Dame. The fire illuminated the cathedral and backlit the oldest Rose Window, the one without stained glass. Later images show the fire burning through the round window, licking the stones above.

Je Suis Dévastée

I spent the summer of 1970 traveling and living in Switzerland, studying French and culminating with a trip to Paris where we took up residence in a youth hostel for a week or two. We enjoyed a combination of student and tourist activities.

The midwestern city where I grew up supported a large Catholic church and school along with many smaller Protestant churches, but I never realized the differences between Catholicism and the Methodist and Baptist churches that I attended. The extent of my consciousness was that every church had their own “rules.” My perception was that “God” was entirely the same regardless and only man’s “church rules” varied. Therefore, I paid little mind to those differences.

I mention this because it sets the stage for my visit to Notre Dame.


Paris in August is stiflingly hot. Air conditioning in Europe is rare and was nonexistent in 1970. That didn’t matter, because nothing was air-conditioned in Indiana either.

As students, we noticed the heat, but it didn’t slow us down.

We spent our days on foot, exploring beautiful Paris and her architectural wonders. I distinctly remember feeling immediately at home in Paris, as if I had been there before – long before. I seemed to remember my way along streets that hadn’t changed much since Medieval times to places I’d never been.

I had no way of knowing that my ancestor, Jacques de Bonnevie, was born in Paris about 1660 and was probably baptized in Notre Dame.

I made my way to the Eiffel Tower, the L’Eglise de Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, the Church at Les Invalides and many parks and historic buildings.

As had been my practice during my trip, I found a local church of some description and slipped into the back row on Sunday mornings. Generally, I managed to slip out again, unnoticed, just as the services ended. My interest was as much cultural as religious, but I enjoyed the wide variety of experiences that were beyond what could be found at home.

My time in Paris was drawing to a close. I had one day left. I decided to go on one final walk-about in the city, knowing with certainty that some wonderful adventure awaited. Not one student in my group was interested in accompanying me, but another young man also staying in the hostel, Jon, wanted to go.

Jon and I set out, walking the streets of Paris in the early morning mist, before the city was quite awake. We marveled at wrought iron gates and old limestone buildings with their guardian gargoyles. If there had been selfies back then, we would have taken several as we laughed, talked and walked.

Eventually, we held hands, not as lovers but as fast friends, enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime bonding experience that no one else in the world would ever have. Just the two of us on that last, wonderful, day in Paris.

We walked towards the oldest, most historic part of town with the intention of strolling along the Seine River, land of artists, students, peace, love and happiness. The next day, we would forever be parted, so today would be filled with nothing but joy.


As Jon and I approached the Seine and began to cross the bridge, Pont de la Tournelle, I stopped dead in my tracks. There was Notre Dame, “Our Lady,” standing sentry on Île de la Cité, an island in the middle of the Seine which is also the middle of both historical and contemporary Paris.

1970 Paris Notre Dame

As we stood on the bridge, I took this photo. I didn’t realize at that point in time that the building I was staring at intently was indeed the famous Notre Dame. Jon knew.

What I did know beyond a doubt was that I absolutely HAD to go inside that building. Jon mentioned that it probably wasn’t free, so he and I began counting our money to see how much we had between us.

My status as a student meant that anything requiring an entrance fee was beyond my means. Furthermore, I had spent every last dime of discretionary funds, given that it was my last day in Europe and the money I brought had been rationed across months, day by day.

Jon and I enjoyed our walk along the Seine, from the bridge to Notre Dame, drinking in the ambiance of the lovely day. The sun was high in the sky and the heat was oppressive, but we didn’t care. We found shade along the banks of the river, sitting and talking about our dreams for the future amid the background chatter of others.

Notre Dame is massive and has the effect of making one feel minuscule and inconsequential. I hadn’t yet learned that the cathedral was 800 years old, give or take a few years, but it was obviously enormous, exquisite in every detail and wonderfully historic.

Notre Dame buttresses.jpg

The flying buttresses were fascinating and incredible. I knew nothing of architecture or engineering, but I knew enough to appreciate the uniqueness of Notre Dame. At that time, I had no idea just how extraordinary the cathedral actually was.

I had developed an affinity for gargoyles during my stay in Europe, which I retain to this day.

Notre Dame strix.jpg

Jon and I enjoyed spying the gargoyles and other stone carved figures, making up stories about what they were thinking or doing, then laughing at our silliness.

Notre Dame gargoyles.jpg

That day could have lasted forever.

Finally, we approached the gargantuan doors of the cathedral, our tone becoming a bit more somber.

Notre Dame cathedral

By GuidoR – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5284809

We were relieved to discover that admission to the cathedral itself was free although access to some features required payment.

Grateful, we crossed the threshold, leaving the hubbub of the city behind as we entered a cool, tranquil sanctum. The stone walls absorbed any noise and the cavernous interior transported us back in time before the era of cars and horns. We left 1970 behind.

Our eyes needed time to adjust to the darkness. It seemed that in those moments, we had entered another world and found ourselves transported to the past when our vision cleared.

I remember the opulence of the interior, and that Notre Dame was unquestionably the largest church I’d ever seen or been inside of – staggering in its enormity.

I didn’t understand the significance of the Catholic symbols, icons or relics, but I certainly understood the historical importance and unparalleled beauty of the building.

I understood, felt in my bones, the deep silence and peace – the respite within those ancient sheltering walls.

As my vision adapted to the darkness, the light entering through the rose window at the end of the nave was what my eye was immediately drawn towards.

Notre Dame nave.jpg

The people here did not seem like tourists, or at least not like the tourists I was used to. They were quiet, subdued and respectful, and I think of them as my co-pilgrims on a journey of discovery and enlightenment.

It’s just that many of us had no idea we were on any such journey.

While the rose windows were not the only stained-glass windows, their position, centered in the distance meant that your eye, and in my case, my body was drawn intensely towards them.

Like a moth to a flame.

As I walked towards the windows, I passed a small table where pilgrims could purchase a candle. Not the votive candles of today, but a tall, thin hand-dipped imperfect candle, maybe 10 or 12 inches long.

The candles weren’t free. I purchased one for a few coins and started to walk, with my unlit candle, towards the rose window, entirely mesmerized. A priest who was selling the candles and helping the pilgrims light them with another candle motioned me to do the same.

I looked confused, and then the Priest looked confused too. Not being Catholic, I didn’t understand the meaning of prayer candles. I did, however, comprehend the fact that a ritual was taking place, and I very much wanted to be a part of the community of ritual in this sacred space.

It didn’t seem as much religious as it did spiritual and inclusive. A human experience.

I lit my candle, but I didn’t cross myself which also served to confuse the Priest. Apparently, he wasn’t used to unschooled non-Catholic teenagers purchasing and lighting candles.

However, even though I lit my candle, I still wanted a candle as my souvenir, so I purchased a second one. Now the Priest was thoroughly confused, especially as I left the group surrounding the candle altars and began walking, alone, carrying my candle, transfixed, towards the rose window.

Notre Dame rose window.jpg

There are no words to describe what I felt.

The window transported my spirit to another time and place, not of this world. I was entranced, hypnotically drawn into the surreal beauty that seemed ethereal.

The darkness of the church seemed to allow the window, the light and the color to illuminate my soul, opening it like a flower, a rose, to the wonder of beauty, contrast and color that would endure for the rest of my life. A divine seed was being sewn in fertile soil that I didn’t understand existed.

Even today, this window has a trance-like spellbinding effect on me, as do other mandalas, including the labyrinth I constructed in my yard.

This life-defining experience initiated a chain reaction of events that won’t end until I “walk on” at the end of my life.

I don’t know how long I spent in Notre Dame that day. I have very little recollection of anything inside except for the transformative experience with the candle and the window. I kept looking for and at the rose window, from every angle, as if it were an ever-present peaceful anchor beckoning in a sea of turmoil.

If you’re lost, just look for the orienting window to find your way. It’s always there.

Jon and I left when the cathedral closed and they shooed us out.

That candle remained among my possessions for many years and life-chapters, even though it broke and cracked. Eventually, life’s events consumed the candle itself, but never the effects of Notre Dame on my life. Notre Dame infused me with my love of history, and more, much more.

Far beyond a building or a church and having nothing to do with a specific religion, Notre Dame was, to me, a place of transition or metamorphosis, a portal from this world finding passage into the infinite beauty of the eternal soul.

My experience in Notre Dame was more a nearly-invisible signal than an epiphany. I had no idea at the time what was so subtly occurring and would only connect the dots, slowly, decades later – in part as I watched Notre Dame burn. Many times a well-placed pebble sets us on our life-path.

So yes, as I sat, horrified, watching the flames consume Notre Dame, I truly was devastated. A little part of me died too as I desperately sought to see my beloved rose window in the footage as the fire burned.

I, along with the rest of the digitally-connected world watched helplessly, and to some extent, hopelessly.


I was torn between the stark contrast of devastating loss and the surreal beauty of the fire itself. Torn between agonizing loss and hope that not all would be lost. Torn between knowing that Notre Dame is just a building, and that it’s much more.

These are the thoughts that, in no particular order, raced through my mind at various times as I watched throughout the day, and night:




Witness to history




National symbol



Ave Maria




What happened to Jon?

Rose windows

Shared sorrow

World history







Slow agony









Can’t rebuild the past











Holy Week



Crown of Thorns



Beyond Catholic


Beyond Religious

800 years

32 lifetimes












Human chain

Stab in our collective hearts



Everyone’s past


Not permanent

World heritage








This too shall pass

And there I stopped, because I realized that yes, this too shall pass. Just like Passover in the Jewish faith and Good Friday with the story of the Resurrection in the Christian faith. The end is not necessarily the end. There can be hope, resurrection and salvation even after torturous trials. Notre Dame is metaphorical for all of humanities’ struggles.

Notre Dame is but a building, albeit an incredibly iconic historic one. Buildings can be restored and rebuilt. The heart and soul of Notre Dame is the heights that she inspires people to achieve, the good that she invests in the human condition and the light she shines on the future. Her value is not the building itself, but what she represents, the values she embodies and the inspiration she provides.

Indeed, this dark chapter too shall pass, perhaps uniting and unifying disparate people. Maybe there is a larger lesson in her destruction and rebirth – one for all of humanity. Perhaps this too is a seed of renewal. I hope we comprehend and internalize the message in our current generation and ones that follow.

If so, the hope, inspiration and beauty that Notre Dame infused in me and the seeds she yet holds to plant will live on immortally to guide others and cradle them eternally in her rose-colored, transcendent, illuminating light.

Nicholas Speaks (1782-1852), Founder of Speaks Chapel United Methodist Church – 52 Ancestors #234

Nicholas Speak, Speake or Speaks, depending on who was spelling it when, was an ancestor who reunited a family some 200 years after his birth on March 3, 1782 in Charles County, Maryland.

In the 1980s, when I first connected to the Speak line, I found my wonderful cousins, Dolores Ham and Lola-Margaret Hall.

Lola Margaret at church door cropped

Lola-Margaret assembled a great deal of research in order to portray Sarah Faires, Nicholas’s wife. Lola-Margaret above and shown here presenting “Sarah’s likeness” in the very church established by Nicholas.

Nicholas Speaks Dolores Ham.jpg

When I began researching Nicholas, cousin Dolores had already been on his trail for years. I am greatly indebted to both of my cousins for their diligent research and for sharing so freely. Nicholas has not been an easy ancestor to research.

Thank you.

Nicholas’s Birth

Nicholas was born to Charles Beckworth or Beckwith Speak and his wife whose identity remains unknown, in Charles County Maryland.

Nicholas Speaks birth.png

You’d never guess by the fact that Nicholas eventually established a Methodist Church in Lee County, Virginia, but Nicholas was born Catholic. Someplace between Charles County, Maryland and Lee County, Virginia about 1820, Nicholas not only converted, he became a minister in the Methodist faith.

We don’t know much about Nicholas’s young years, but we do know that by 1787, his father, Charles, appears on a tax list in Rowan County, NC. Nicholas would have been about 5. Nicholas probably remembered little, if anything, about Maryland. We don’t know how long the family had lived in North Carolina prior to 1787.

Nicholas’s mother died sometime between his birth and July 16, 1789 when his father remarried to Jane or Jean Conners in Rowan County. If I had to guess, and I do, I would surmise that Nicholas’s mother died in North Carolina not terribly long before his father remarried, because raising children alone for a father in frontier North Carolina would have been next to impossible.

In 1789, Nicholas would have been 7 years old.

By 1793, Charles had purchased land in Iredell County, NC, which is located just east of the Appalachian mountain range.

Nicholas Speaks Iredell County.png

We don’t know exactly what, but something unfortunate happened, and Charles died before September 1794 when his estate was sold.

At this time, Nicholas would have been all of 12 years old, an orphan in a location with little family.

In May of 1795, guardianship of Nicholas and his siblings, Joseph, Thomas, John and James was assigned to one Richard Speaks for the boys and one Elizabeth Speaks for Nicholas’s sister, Elizabeth Speaks. Who are Richard and Elizabeth Speaks? How are they related to each other? We have no idea, but they were clearly kin of some description. We also have no idea what happened to any of Nicholas’s siblings.

What became of Nicholas’s step-mother, Jane or Jean? We don’t have the answer to that either – however – given the fact that the guardianship was not made until probably nearly a year after Charles death, I wonder if the children were living with Jane/Jean and something happened to her too during this time period.

Nicholas and his 4 brothers went to live with Richard who apparently lived in Rowan County on Bear Creek which intersects with the Yadkin River through the South Yadkin.

Nicholas Speaks Bear Creek.png

Bear Creek originates about 15 miles north of the Yadkin in a lake near 398 Log Cabin Road today.

Nicholas Speaks Bear Creek length.png

Nicholas lived someplace along this wooded creek which essentially parallels the road, above.

Nicholas Speaks Bear Creek near mountains.png

By 1797, Richard Speaks sold land in Rowan County on Bear Creek as a resident of Washington County, Tennessee – so apparently Nicholas, now 15, moved with his guardian, because that’s where we find Nicholas first appearing in the records a few years later.

Nicholas Speaks Washington County.png

It would be here that Nicholas met Sarah Faires or Farris whose father, Gideon, is noted in Survey Book I in 1781 as being entitled to 250 acres and stating that actual settlement was made in 1768. Sarah grew up on the frontier.

Washington County was the land of land and opportunity. Nicholas was probably relieved to stay in one place for a few years. His journey from Zachia Manor in Maryland to Rowan County, to Iredell County, back to Rowan and then to Washington County, Virginia, combined with the deaths of his mother, father and step-mother had to be unnerving for a young man. Perhaps they would have destroyed a lesser man, but they may have served to forge Nicholas’s personality and steel him for the future.

Nicholas Speaks Maryland to Washington Co.png

Yes, Nicholas needed to settle down for awhile and stay put.

Wedding Bells

Seven years after arriving in Washington County, Virginia, on August 12, 1804, at the age of 22, Nicholas Speaks married Sarah Faires.

NIcholas Speaks marriage.jpg

The marriage was performed by the Rev. Charles Cummings, a Presbyterian minister reflecting the faith of Sarah’s family. Rev. Cummings is buried at Sinking Springs, one of the churches where he preached.

Sarah and Nicholas probably attended either the Ebbing Springs Church (now the Glade Spring Church), or Sinking Springs Presbyterian church in Abington, Washington County, both of which were served by the fiery Reverend Cummings.

Let’s face it, even if Charles Speak and his wife were both practicing Catholics, there were no Catholic churches in the wilderness of the frontier. By the time Nicholas arrived in Washington County with his guardian, the family would have worshiped at whatever local churches existed.

As one of my minister friends so succinctly put it years ago, people attended the “church of opportunity” where they lived. Worshiping God was more important to them than the trappings and specific sect rules put in place by different versions of Christianity.

By 1804, Nicholas was a practicing Presbyterian.

The First Hint of Methodism

The first hint of how Nicholas might have become Methodist is held in the journal of Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury stating that he had visited in the home of Gideon Faires.

Asbury was one of the first Methodist Bishops in America, volunteering to travel the colonies, then the frontier, on horseback serving in essence as a horseback-riding missionary.

This suggests that it’s likely that Gideon embraced the faith of this new religion of Methodism, probably sometime after his daughter married in 1804, and possibly after Reverend Cummings death in 1816. Perhaps Sarah and Nicholas were also inspired by this new faith as Methodist circuit riders traveled the area evangelizing the new settlers.

The Revival of 1800, a series of evangelical “Camp Meetings” in Kentucky and Tennessee combined both Presbyterian and Methodist communion observances and impressed Asbury deeply. The Camp Meetings in which settlers’ entire families would travel sometimes for days by wagon to “camp” at a meeting house (church) or even in a field to hear evangelical preachers became a staple of the frontier social and religious life. These meetings continued into the 1900s in the area of Virginia and Tennessee where Nicholas established the Speaks Methodist Church.

Wikipedia tells us that Asbury preached in myriad places: courthouses, public houses, tobacco houses, fields, public squares, wherever a crowd assembled to hear him. Beginning in 1784 with his ordination and for the remainder of his life he rode an average of 6,000 miles each year, preaching virtually every day and conducting meetings and conferences. Under his direction, the Methodist church grew from 1,200 to 214,000 members and 700 ordained preachers. Nicholas would become be one of them.

According to cousin Dolores:

Nicholas Speak and his family participated in the camp meetings held at the Jonesville Campground, today the site of the Jonesville Campground Methodist Church. The first Camp Meeting was held about 1810, under a brush arbor. In 1827, a shed or tabernacle was constructed in the center of the grounds and covered with clapboards. The original camps were mostly built of logs inside the enclosure of the rock wall. Crude beds, tables and seats were built and left with the camp from year to year. These camps were burned during the Civil War when the Confederate troops camping there left hurriedly without extinguishing their fires.

“In the early days the people came from far and near, by wagon drawn by oxen or horses, by horseback, or walked to worship at the annual camp meeting. They brought with them enough food, bedding, and cooking utensils for their families and friends, also feed for their livestock, to last the duration of the meeting, a week or ten days.” (Early Settlers of Lee County, VA and Adjacent Areas, Volume I, 1977, Anne W. Laningham, pp. 9-10).

Our ancestor, Nicholas Speak, is listed as a participant in the early church minutes pertaining to this campground. In another reference to the camp meeting held at the Jonesville Camp Ground beginning Aug. 13, 1836 (also the time of a “Quarterly Conference”), Nicholas Speak is listed as a L.E. (local elder) and John Speak (son of Nicholas) is listed as a Classleader. (Ibid., pp. 9-10)

Dola Queener, then of Jacksboro, TN, sent me this explanation of Local Elder, since I am not familiar with Methodism. “Elders are ministers who have completed their formal preparation for the ministry of word, sacrament and order; have been elected itinerant members in full connection with an annual conference; and have been ordained elders in accordance with the order and discipline of the Methodist Church.” This comes from “The Book of Discipline 1984, page 219, Article 432-1.”

Elsewhere, I found reference to Nicholas as a “located minister,” which leads me to believe that Nicholas was the pastor of Speaks Chapel Church and did not preach at other churches on a regular basis.

Nicholas Speaks Jonesville campground.jpg

Photo courtesy Dolores Ham.

Life in Washington County, VA

Like Francis Asbury, Nicholas may have traveled to attend Camp Meetings in Tennessee and Kentucky, but he and Sarah lived in Washington County, VA where 9 of their children were born between 1804 and 1822. The last two children were born after the family moved to Lee County, VA about 1823.

Nicholas and Sarah owned land in Washington County, VA. In deed book 4, pages 231-232, we find that on October 17, 1809 William Brown and Elizabeth his wife of Washington County conveyed 60 acres lying on the south side of the Holston River. Unfortunately, the Holston has three branches in present day Washington County, so without running the deeds forward in time, it’s impossible to know which of the three branches hosted Nicholas’s land.

Then, on December 18, 1810, on page 396 of the same book, Nicholas Speak purchased 28 acres from Robert and Jane Caldwell lying on the north side of Little Stone Mountain, adjacent to William Hickenbottom’s land and also to the corner of Mifflin’s land, also in Washington County.

Little Stone Mountain is on the Powell River in present day Wise County, VA, bordering the Jefferson National Forest. This is rough terrain, and no place close to the Holston River. It’s possible that I’ve misidentified this location, but I don’t find another Little Stone Mountain and Wise County was taken from Washington County.

Nicholas Speaks Little Stone Mountain.png

Then, in deed book 5, pages 61 and 170, on February 16, 1813, Nicholas and Sarah sold both tracts to Christopher Ketring of Washington County, Virginia.

Where they lived from 1813 until 1822 when their last child was born in Virginia is a mystery.

Regardless of where they lived, the War of 1812 interrupted their lives.

War of 1812

Nicholas was drafted to served in the War of 1812 on August 15, 1814 and served in the 7th Regiment of the Virginia Militia in the Company of Abram Fulkerson, serving at Fort Barbour at Norfolk, VA.

Fort Barbour

Nicholas was honorably discharged from Fort Barbour (above) on February 22, 1815, making his way the 380+ miles to home, crossing a mountain range, probably on foot.