Sunday, December 25, 2011

Whatever Happened to Lars? Part 2

Lars Theodor Ekman, born Jan 1855 in Sweden, immigrated to the U.S. for good in 1881.  After filing his "first papers" in Wisconsin, then moving to Minnesota, where he married Effie Bassett and had 6 children, he packed up the family (along with his brother Axel and his sister Amanda and their respective families) and moved to Roberts County, SD.

After Effie ran off with Jake Gifford, taking three of their children with her, Effie's mother, Hester Ann (Salley) Bassett sent for the other three children.  Lars sold his land and left, shortly after his brother Axel died.  The family never heard from him again.  So what happened to him?

On 15 Jul 1911, Lars Theodor Ekman filed his "second papers" in the naturalization process in Rolette County, North Dakota, nearly 30 years after his first papers were filed.

These papers establish several facts.  One is that he has been living in North Dakota since April 1901.  Another is his date of birth, which he lists as 14 Jan 1855.  This is the only record I have found in the U.S. in which his year of birth matches that of the Swedish parish record.  There is a discrepancy on the exact date of birth.  The parish record indicates his birth date is 4 Jan 1855.

The third fact is the location of his residence at the time of naturalization, which was Bachelor, ND.

Finally, he lists his family, a son, John William, who was born earlier in the year in Bachelor, ND, and his wife, Emma Marie Ekman.

The 1910 census record shows the following couple in Rolette County, ND.
This record indicates that Thomas Ekman is 44 years old, that he was born in Sweden, and that his father was Swedish and his mother German.  The age of Thomas Ekman would indicate he was born in 1866.  The record also indicates that this is his first marriage, and that his wife is 17 years old. 

The marriage certificate for Thomas Ekman and Mary Emma Hays/Hayes (her name varies from Mary to Marie and the order is sometimes Mary/Marie first, sometimes Emma first) includes a note from her father, John Hays, giving his permission for her to marry Tom.
Indian Census records taken annually for the 14 years prior to the marriage indicate that Marie was likely not 17 years old in January 1910. Her birthday was 1 Dec 1894, which would have meant she had turned 15 the month before she married, not 17.

This record, from mid-1896 indicates she is 1 1/2 years old.  Her older sister Mary Jane was born in 1892.

The 1915 North Dakota State Census shows the following:

Tom and Mary Ekman are listed with two children: John and Charlie.

The 1916 Indian Census Rolls list Mary (Hayes) Ekman, her son Tom, and their two sons, John William and Victor Charlie.  Note that Victor Charlie is a combination of the names of two of Lars  Ekman's sons from his marriage to Effie.

In 1916, Lars Theador Ekman and his wife Mary Ekman sold their land in Rolette County to Ole Bu.

In 1920, the couple can be found on the Federal Census living in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Lars is employed by the Coca Cola bottling plant. Victor Charley is not on the census, because he had died.

Mary Rosa Ekman ("Rose" in the record above) was born in Minnesota on 26 Jun 1919.  Her birth records can be found in the Minnesota Birth Index, as can one of two others born later.  Lizzie V Ekman is recorded on the Indian Census Rolls with a birth date of 26 Dec 1921, but is not found in the MN Birth Index.  Florence Irene was born 2 Nov 1928.

On these birth records, Lars's age gets progressively lower.  When Mary Rosa was born in 1919, her father's age is listed in his 50s.  The last child, Florence, born in Nov 1928, lists Lars's age at his last birthday as 49, younger than he supposedly was 9 years before. He was actually 73.

Marie Emma and the children cannot be found on the 1930 census.  Thomas Ekman, born in Sweden to a Swedish father and German mother, who immigrated in 1881, is on the census, unemployed and living in a downtown Minneapolis hotel, age 64 (making him born in 1866, not 1855, one of the birth years he often used after he was married to Marie.  He lists his marital status as Single.

Last but not least is a death certificate for Thomas Ekman, indicating he was born in 1877.  The day of birth is listed as 14 Jan, which matches the day of birth on his naturalization papers.  No other Thomas Ekmans can be found in the upper Midwest born between 1855 and 1877, other than a man who lived in a town in Michigan's upper peninsula for decades.  The mother's maiden name on this certificate, "Cloose" is very close to the known name of Lars Theador Ekman's German mother, which was "Kloose."

The cemetery where he was buried is eight miles from my house.  Eight miles.   The obituary notice in the paper had only the bare facts from the death certificate with no mention of family.

Lars Theodor (Thomas) Ekman lived to be just under 80 years old (although his death cert claims just under 60), had two wives and 12 children, 11 of whom (probably) survived childhood.  I drove up to the cemetery last spring and asked at the office for help finding the grave and if any other information was known about his funeral.  Like, who paid for it?   He died alone, buried in an unmarked grave paid for by the city.
I wonder if I'm the only one ever to visit his grave, or if any of his children ever discovered what had happened to him, maybe saw the notice in the paper or something.  I kind of doubt it.

And that's whatever happened to Lars Theodor Ekman, my great-great grandfather.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What ever happened to Lars?

The Ekman children in Sweden
Back: Carl, Rudolf, Lars
Front: Ida, Amanda, Axel
In 1879, Lars Theodor Ekman (my g2grandfather), the youngest child of Lars Jacob Ekman and Augusta Caroline Rose Kloose, left his home in Horby, Sweden to go to America.  On Christmas Eve, 1880, he returned, apparently to talk his family into emigrating as well.

This "moving in/moving out" parish record shows Lars Theodor immigrated from America into the parish on 24 Dec 1880. Note his date of birth is listed as 4 Jan 1855.
About six months later, in July 1881, Lars returned to the United States, where he settled in Wisconsin.  On 3 April 1883, he declared his intent to become a naturalized citizen by filing his "first papers" at the Circuit Court in La Cross County, Wisconsin, which gave him the right to vote.

Note that his year of birth is again listed as 1855.  Also, we see him trying out the name "Thom."
A year later, in 1884, his sister Amanda Aurora Charlotta and her husband Johan Fredrik Emanuel Nilsson (Fred Nelson) immigrated and settled in Wisconsin with their four children: Frank, Alma, Ingrid and Charles.  In the following ten years, Charles would die, and four more children would be born: Alburn, Rosa, Otto, and Claude.  Otto and Claude's WWI draft registration cards indicated they were born in Iola, Waupaca County, and the family can be found there on the 1895 census.  It's not known at this time if they lived there the entire ten years, or if they lived elsewhere first.

Some time between the filing of his first papers in April of 1883, and the winter of 1884/85, Lars, the brother who encouraged his family to come to America, left Wisconsin for Minnesota, where he can be found on the 1 May1885 state census in Lura, Fairibault County.

He indicates here that he is 24, rather than 30.
 Later that summer, on 23 Jul 1885, he married Effie Drusella Bassett, who was 16 years old.  On 26 November 1885 their first child, Eda Augusta Ekman, was born.  The marriage certificate lists his age at the time of the wedding as 26, making his alleged year of birth 1859, rather than 1855.

Over the next 15 years, Lars's age remains consistent with a birth year of 1859.  In 1892, his brother Axel and his wife Anna Laurentia (Martini) immigrate, and can be found living with Lars's family on the 1895 state census.  Lars's age is consistent, but by 1895, he's trying out another name: Lewis.

Lars and Effie's last child, Hester Anna, was born 2 Jul 1896 in Fairibault County.  Some time after this, Lars once again convinced his brother and sister to move where the opportunities were better, and all three siblings moved to Roberts County, South Dakota, near Big Stone Lake, which borders Minnesota and South Dakota.

The next few years were to be tumultuous for the Ekmans, and would ultimately split up the siblings forever.

This photo shows Lars and Effie's children in about 1899.  Eda, the oldest, would turn 14 in November of that year, while Hester Anna, the youngest, would have been about 3.
Edna, Charlie, Eda, Victor, Hester Anna, Edgar
Around this time, Effie left Lars to run off with a hired man, Jake Gifford, taking Edna, and the two youngest, Charlie and Hester Anna.

Eda wrote the following in a letter to Marie (Steel) Ekman, Charlie's daughter-in-law, back in the 1970's:

...we lived with my folks Lewis Ekman then when I was 13 my grandmother (Hester Ann Salley Bassett) sent for three of us we were in S. Dakota and we come to Minnesota that is Edgar, Vic and myself.
Eda would have been 13 in 1899, but on the 1900 census, we find Lars and the three mentioned above all living with their father at their aunt and uncle's farm. (Note: it lists Edna on the sheet, but the month/year for the birth date is Eda's.  No census record can be found for Jake and Effie in 1900, but their first two children were born in Carlton County, where Edna married her husband James McCollum in 1903, so it can be presumed that it was Eda on this record, not Edna.)

That summer of 1900, Axel had a fall (stories vary about how he fell and what he fell on), but on August 1, he died after a long illness resulting from that fall.

In October of 1900, Lars sold the property he owned, which amounted to less than an acre, to Rosey Bell Swayze (apparently a relative of the actor Patrick Swayze).

The family never heard from him again.

Next time...what did happen to Lars?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - the Silliman Siblings

GEORGE, son of J.W. & H.M SILLIMAN, DIED Aug 22, 1863
Two weeks ago, while searching for additional Civil War documents associated with my g2grandfather, Jervis Silliman, I discovered he had been married with a family prior to marrying my g2grandmother.  He had a wife and four children, two of whom died in childhood.

The first census record I could find for the family was the 1860 census, which showed Jervis and Harriet (Bartlett) (listed as Julia on the record, for some reason) living next door to Marvel and Eunice (Bartlett) Hayford, Harriet's sister and brother-in-law in Rockford, Wright County, Minnesota.  Harriet had two children at that time, Ida, age 5, born in New York; George, age 4, was listed as being born in Illinois. 

On the 1865 census, George is not listed, but Ida appears again, as do two other daughters, Nettie and Lydia.  In 1870, only Ida and Nettie are still shown on the census.  In 1875, Jervis is living in Rockford at Roberts' Public House with no family at all.  Ida married in the fall of 1870, and, as it turns out, Harriet divorced Jervis in 1873, and moved to Litchfield, Meeker County, where Marvel and Eunice had relocated, taking Nettie with her.

LYDIE E., Dau of J.W. & H.M. SILLIMAN, DIED Oct. 3, 1866, Aged 1 yr 10 m
Elmwood Cemetery is a small but active cemetery in the center of Rockford.  When the cemetery first opened, most families purchased lots, which contained 8 plots each.  George and Lydie must have been among the first to be buried there.  Their big sister Ida and her husband, William Frederick are buried several rows over, along with William's first wife, and their daughter Ione and Ione's husband Floyd H. McCrory.  The cemetery records show that in 1944, Ione deeded the other 6 plots in Jervis's lot back to the cemetery, and paid for permanent upkeep of George and Lydie's graves.  In addition, she paid for permanent upkeep of the Frederick family plot.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Very Grand Obituary - Maria (Wells) Forder

I went to the Minnesota Historical Society yesterday to look up obituaries.  My g3 grandparents, William and Maria (Wells) Forder, were from Hampshire, England, and immigrated in 1840 to Indiana, and then some time shortly after the 1870 census (probably in the spring of 1871), they migrated to Meeker County, Minnesota, settling in Dassel.

The Historical Society has the Dassel Anchor on microfilm, but the earliest editions they have are from late 1893.  William Forder died in 1891, so I couldn't find an obit for him, but Maria died 29 December 1893, so I was lucky that her obituary appeared just a few issues into the roll of microfilm.

Having just found an obituary last weekend for the first wife of my g2grandfather, Jervis Silliman, I noticed that Harriet (Bartlett) Silliman Rollins Larson's obit was titlted "Mrs. Louis Larson" and that while her ex-husband Jervis's name appeared in the obit, her own first name (never mind her maiden name) did not.  I was expecting something similar for Maria Forder, and therefore almost missed the obituary.

Maria's obituary took a full column and a half to print, and was mostly the text of a tribute read at her funeral by the Past Post Commander of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic), which took place in the town hall and was conducted by the W.R.C. (Women's Relief Corps)!  Most obits I have read indicate that the funeral service is held in the home.

Here is the full text of her obituary, which appeared in the Dassel Anchor Friday, January 5, 1894.
A Mother of Soldiers
As briefly announced in our last issue, Mrs. Maria Forder died on Friday morning, Dec. 29 1893, at her home in Dassel. The funeral services were held at the town hall the next afternoon, conducted by the W. R. C. No more fitting additional public tribute can be paid to her than the publication of the address read by Past Post Commander J. A. Whitaker.
Mrs. President, ladies of the W. R. C. and comrades of the G. A. R.:
Again you are assembled, clad in the habiliments of mourning, to render a last and loving tribute to the memory of one of your loving sisters, who, ripe in years, loved by all and lamented universally, has heard the whispered come! And has gone to her long rest and great reward. Again the dark bowman has flown into your midst and his cruel arrow has pierced the heart of a considerate, tender and loving mother, a devoted sister and warm friend; again has one who has stood with you around your altar and vowed to relieve the distressed, alleviate the pain and cheer the age enfeebled, disease-stricken veteran, fully, fulfilled that obligation, been relieved from duty and entered into that long, that abiding, blissful rest, that supreme, never ending peace, that is only found by those who consistently, faithfully and continually, do the Master's will while on duty here. Again has one of the links in the chain of your sisterhood been broken; again has that invisible tie, that binds you each to the other so strongly that only death can break it, been broken; again has the golden chord been severed; again has one whom in lie you loved been called from the home where she was the guide, from your ranks where she held a prominent and useful place, and left you lonely and tearfully sad. Your sister lived a blameless, cheerful life; and while she was going among you with warm words of encouragement, filled with loving kindness and sympathetic aid; “God's linger touched her and she slept.” Your assembling today is for the sole purpose of honoring her memory, consoling her weeping family and laying her remains at rest in the silent city of the dead, to await the sounding of the reveille that shall proclaim the end of time and summon the world to the bar of judgment, to receive the reward due for the deeds done in the body.
As part of your services today, you have assigned the writer the duty of preparing for this occasion a memorial sketch of the life of your departed sister. That duty is undertaken in love and performed as well as the time at the disposal of the writer, with the ability at his command, will allow. But oh how far short of performing that duty in a manner worthy of the departed will the writer come. He can but hope to place, with you, his wreath of regret upon her narrow home and, with you, testify to her noble character, her womanly worth and sisterly devotion.
By your words of service and notes of song, you are weaving in her honor a monument more lasting than the shaft of marble. By your attendance here to-day, you not only show your realization of your loss and the affliction of her relatives, but you proclaim to the world, that your band of sisterhood is not a rope of sand, but a tie, so strong, so sacred, that your bereavement is such as to properly place you close by the side of the relatives, who mourn her departure from the home where she was the light—the guiding star. No better, no higher friendship is known to earth than that that is built upon a solemn vow before God of aid, of counsel, of confidence, and friendship. And, aside from the tribute that is due her as a considerate, thoughtful, tender mother and devoted companion, it can be truly said that she was, by reason of her kindness of heart, charity of expression and willingness to sacrifice personal comfort for the purpose of doing something for the benefit of those to whom she was pledged, more and better fitted for that task than any of their surviving sisters. To her no appeal for aid within her means to relieve, was ever turned empty away; to her no sorrowing heart ever sought consolation in vain. Her life was made up of kind deeds and charitable effort.
Thus she lived, passing with the unchanging law of nature, the change of the seasons from the spring time, the summer of life, to the autumn, ripe with the golden fruit of duty well performed and reaching the winter of years happy in spirit, cheerful in manner, loved by all, until the old year was passing away and the dawn of the new was fast approaching.
At that time, when the quivering tones of the bells still echoed dimly in the distance, there fell upon her listening ear, the music of the harpists, who surround the throne of the Almighty. At that time, after a long weary night and just as the morn was at hand, while the words, “Peace on earth, good will to man,” were still heard on all sides and in every home untouched by disease or death, her vision pierced the unknown and she beheld that land, where disease never enters; night never comes; where pain is never felt; where peace—not the transitory, fleeting peace of earth, but that abiding, supreme, blissful, peace that is only vouch-safed the poor in heart and worthy in spirit.
Mrs. Maria Forder, in whose honor these services are held, was born at Hampshire, England, November 15, 1817; she was married to William Forder, who has gone before her to that better land, October 11, 1836, and with him came to America and settled in Salem, Washington county, Indiana, in 1840. She was the mother of 12 children, five of whom were sons. Four of them, went fourth in defence of the flag when treason threatened the life of the nation, and three of them came never back to her embrace, their lives having gone out amid the thunders roar, the dreadful crash and the withering fire of battle.
She was made a member of Colfax W. R. C., April 24, 1891, was elected to the position of chaplain, which she held continuously until her death. She was rarely absent from the meetings and was always a valued advisor in the deliberations of that body.
The time for the completion of these sacred services has arrived. The writer can add not one word that will fittingly portray the beauty of character, the gentleness of disposition, the kindness of heart, of her, whose body lies in yonder narrow home. The sister of the corps have paid her memory all the respect and honor that love and regret can pay; yet they would fain linger near to the form that in life, was so dear; would still look upon the face, that in life, was lighted up with a christian faith and the purpose of a noble soul. They would speak consolingly to the weeping ones of her household, but, alas! Their own eyes are filled with tears, their own hearts are swelled with sadness. They can only say as the body is laid to rest, sister, thy example was of priceless value to us; thy voice will be often and sadly missed at our gatherings; thy memory, we shall keep ever green in our hearts, and the choicest blossoms of springtime shall be laid upon thy bed, as long as we shall live; it shall be our aim to emulate thy virtues, to practice thy precepts, and to so perform life's duties that, when with us the night of life shall end, we may meet thee on the morning of the resurrection, so fitted that we may enjoy thy presence through the endless years of eternity. Until that glad hour, beloved sister, a last, a long, a final, a tearful farewell. Hail and Farewell.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Jervis W. Silliman

My g2grandfather, Jervis W. Silliman ("W" may stand for "Warren," his mother's maiden name) was born  28 Oct 1828 in Wethersfield, Wyoming, New York.  He died 8 Oct 1908 in Orting, Pierce, Washington, just shy of his 80th birthday, and is buried in the Soldiers' Home Cemetery. 

Jervis was the youngest of three children by Samuel Silliman and Roxillana Warren.  Roxillana was well into her 30's when she and Samuel married, and 43 years old when Jervis was born.  Samuel had been married before, and had many children with his first wife.  He was 73 when Jervis was born and lived to be 92.

Jervis and his father both served as volunteers in the army.  Samuel was about 18 when he first served in the Revolutionary war.  He volunteered and served in a number of capacities for the Connecticut Militia in Fairfield, as well as on several ships.  One of his commanding officers was a Capt. Jervis.  It's possible that it is for that captain that Jervis is named.

Jervis was in his mid-30's when he served in the Civil War, more than 80 years later.  Although he was a Mounted Ranger in the 1st Regiment of the Minnesota Cavalry, his service was focused on the Indian Wars, fighting the Sioux Indians who were pushing back against the pioneers settling in the Big Woods of Minnesota.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baptism Monday

Index record of my great-great grandfather's baptism in Lippe
This is the first baptismal record I've found since I started doing genealogy.  I'm excited!

Sunday afternoon, I was supposed to go to my first genealogy workshop, given by the Germanic Genealogy Society.  We got whalloped with more than a foot of snow, starting Sunday morning, so the workshop was canceled. The workshop was going to focus on Northern Germanic regions, so my plan was to research my great-great grandfather, William Conrad Buss, the most recent immigrant on my mother's side of the family.  Once I heard the workshop was canceled, I decided to devote the day to learning more on my own about how to do research on immigrant ancestors prior to their arrival in the United States.

As always, I turned to the greatest resource we have for our family history, my great grandfather Fred Buss's life history.

Now I will write the history of my father. He was born in 1827, October 12, in Lippe Detmold, a little country that now belongs to Germany. His seven brothers and sisters and his mother died before he was two years old and his father was a drunkard. His aunt raised him until he was nine years old and then his aunt died. From that time on he made his own living but did not get any schooling. He herded cows for his board. The cows were led with a rope along roads and fences and in corners and some times he had to lead three or four at the same time by tying their heads together. What spare time he had at night he would make baskets from willows to trade for clothes and wooden shoes. When he got big enough to take a man's place he hired out by the year for fifteen or twenty dollars a year except for about six weeks when he would go to Holland to mow hay by hand and there he earned as much in six weeks as he got the rest of the year at home. It took about four or five days to go to Holland on foot. The last three years he was in Germany he worked for one man by the name of Munie for twenty-five dollars a year and saved enough money to come to the United States on a sailing ship. He also saved the tips he got for helping pull others out of the mud that hauled freight on a wagon. He was nine weeks on the water from Bramer harbor [Bremen] to New Orleans. He had a long sick spell on the ocean with a three-day's nose bleed but he was well and strong when he got to St. Louis in the fall of 1851 the year he got to the United States.
Last spring I found a passenger record for Wilh. Busse, age 26, in November of 1853, occupation Peasant, town of origin, Meinberg.  Given the chronology Fred describes after his father's arrival (working 2 years for a man in Illinois before buying a farm and going back to St. Louis to get married), 1853 makes more sense.

Meinberg is now Horn-Bad Meinberg, in the county of Lippe, in North Rhine Westphalia.  Before WWI, Lippe was a Principality, and afterward, the prince abdicated and it became a German Free State.  After WWII it became absorbed into the federal state of North Rhine Westphalia. 

So yesterday, I was printing maps and searching for more information on Meinberg when I came across a 1911 German gazetteer that described Meinberg. One of the things I discovered was the name of the parish for the area, and I found the parish website, along with the genealogy of the membership going back in some cases to the 16th century.  While I found a few people named Busse, none were born around the time that would have matched Wilhelm's close family members.  So I did a little searching online to find out more about the German parish system and I found this on

The Family History Library:

The Family History Library has microfilmed the civil registration records of many towns throughout Germany up to about 1876, as well as copies of records sent to many of the various state archives. Check the Family History Library Catalog to learn what records and time periods are available.

I'm not a huge fan of FamilySearch for a couple of reasons, but once in awhile it comes through for me in big ways, so there I went.  I entered Wilhelm Busse and a date range of 1825 to 1850 to see what I would get. I got more hits than was helpful, so I thought I might as well stick in his middle name.   That's when I got the record shown on top.

It one of those "Oh my god!" moments.  I looked at the baptismal date, 12 Oct 1827, and was sure the year was correct, but somehow I had in my head that he was born in August.  Nope.  That's his birthday, all right.

What was incredibly helpful was seeing the location: Brake Lippe.  Lippe had a history of multiple princes and as different lines died out, the little areas they each controlled would be handed over to one of the other lines. The biggest city in Brake Lippe was Lemgo, about 12 miles north of Meinberg.

Since then, I've found a brother, Johann Friedrich, probably his oldest sibling, and I know his parents' names: Friedrich Jobst Busse and Louise Florentine Dreves.  I wasn't able to find a marriage record for his parents, or his other siblings' birth records, or death records for any of them, but I may have found his mother's birth record (for Florentine Louise Dreve) and her parents' names (Philip Dreve and Elisabeth Krueger).   If the record I found for her is really hers, she was just a couple weeks shy of 16 when she had her first child.  Which means that she died before the age of 30, having given birth to 8 children. I can't even contemplate what her life was like.

My plan is to order the microfilm so that I can see the original documents myself.  I'm hoping I can find more missing family members in that roll of film, and maybe even find the death records of all his siblings.

An exciting weekend!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Busting Brick Walls

Sometimes I wonder what drives me to untangle my knotted family history.  I think it must be the satisfaction of solving a puzzle that no one else has cracked before. 

I wrote before about my quest to find my great grandmother Maud Silliman on a census record before she was married, and the surprises I found along the way (different surname than I had thought, a first cousin for a second husband, and a bigamist mother).  I uncovered lots more than that, some of it heartbreaking, some of it heartwarming, all of it satisfying.

My great-grandmother Maud Silliman was not the only brick wall on my dad's side of the family.  My dad knew so little about his family history, that anything I found was news to him.

When I started filling in the tree with what I knew, all I had on my father's father was a first and last name, the name of his first wife (my grandmother Zora) and his kids Floyd Jr, Bob, and my dad.  I had no idea how old my dad's parents were, only that my father was the baby of the family and his mother was only 16 when she married my grandfather.

The first census record I found for Floyd was the same one I'd found for my grandmother, in 1930, when they'd been married just a couple of years and Floyd Jr was a baby.
The census indicates that Floyd's father was born in Illinois and his mother was born in Montana.  That seemed odd.  If Floyd and his father were born in Illinois, but his mother was born in Montana, how did his parents meet?  It seemed unlikely that his mother would have migrated east at that time.   I had an approximate year of birth, 1904/1905 and a middle initial, E.

The next step would be to find him as kid, living with his parents. I searched for anyone named Floyd Richardson born around 1904/5.  I spent an entire weekend thinking I had hit pay dirt, finding obituaries of his supposed mother and father and was very excited.  In the middle of all this, I had found his social security death index record, which listed his birthdate as 1 Nov 1905.  The Floyd I had found in 1920 and 1910 was born in 1904 and was too old to be my grandfather.  While my grandfather was listed as age 25 on the 1930 census, he was actually only 24.

Back to the drawing board.  Knowing his actual birth date, I did another search on Floyd Richardsons born in Illinois in 1905, and found one in 1920 in North Dakota.
The record indicates that Claude Richardson and his parents were all born in Illinois.  Anna, it seems, was born in Minnesota, and both her parents were from Germany.  Floyd was born in Illinois as was his father, and it says his mother was born in Minnesota. 

I wasn't 100% sure this was my grandfather, but there weren't a whole lot of Floyd Richardsons who were the correct age that were born in Illinois, so I was hopeful.

In the mean time, I kept bugging my dad about what he might remember.

About this time, three things happened.  I found a family tree on Ancestry that included Floyd and Zora and their kids.  It looked like someone on an uncle's wife's side of the family had put it together.  There was no information about the previous generation, but it did have a middle name for Floyd: Ekman; I discovered IRAD, the Illinois Regional Archives Depository, which has a marriage record index; and my dad sent me this email

My dad's life was, to me, quite confusing.  In 1951 dad took Bob and me to Wyoming to meet his mother.  It was rather unclear to me if she was his actual mother or a step-mother.  (All I know is that her husband was not dad's father.)  At different times, she was referred to by both designations. As far as I know, dad only had a younger half-brother.  I met him at dad's funeral, but I can't remember his name.  I always thought Dad was born in Elgin, Illinois--at least he had lived there for a time. 
At the end of the email, he said this:
I believe dad's middle name was Ekman, but I'm not sure.  To me that sounds like a possible maternal family name. I wish I could be of more help! 

With this confirmation about Floyd's middle name, and the idea that Ekman could be a maternal surname, I searched the IRAD marriage index and found this:


I immediately began a search for Edith Ekman in Minnesota, guessing she was probably born around 1885, give or take a few years.   I found this, which is from the 1895 Minnesota State Census:

Very exciting.

I also found this 1910 Federal Census record, for a family living in Custer County, Montana:

At first, I was convinced the two Edahs had to be the same person, but when I added her to my family tree, I found other family trees with the same Edah Ekman on them.  There was a mother lode of family photos, including a scan of the letter her husband Lew Jay wrote to the family back in Minnesota when she died.  Lew Jay?  None of these trees showed Claude attached to Edah as a first husband, never mind Floyd.  Curious.

Lew's full name was George Lewis Jay.  I did a census search, for Eda and Lew Jay.  I found this 1920 census record.
Who were these three girls? They couldn't be Edah's, they had to be Lew's from a first marriage.  I wondered if Edah/Edith and Claude had done what the Sillimans had done on my dad's other side of the family: split up and each taken one kid.   Had George Lewis Jay played musical spouses, too?  An afternoon spent searching the Wisconsin Historical Society's Genealogy database showed that Lew had a first wife, Birdine Amundson, who had died within a couple years of Marvel's birth.

I wondered about what Floyd and Glen had understood about their parents and each other growing up.  It didn't sound like they knew they were full brothers.  Still, I didn't have any confirmation that this Edah Ekman was the same Edith Ekman who had married my great-grandfather Claude Richardson.

I dearly wanted Edah Ekman, wife of Lew Jay, to be the same Edith Ekman who had married Claude Richardson, if for no other reason than being able to claim all those great family photos.  I sent away for Claude and Edith's marriage record.
I screamed out loud when I read this.  Not only had I confirmed that I had the right Edah/Edith, I also got the names of Claude's parents (William Richardson and Ernie Howard) and where he was born, as well as Edah's mother's maiden name, Bassett.

Ekman children: Edna, Charles, Edah, Victor, Hester, Edgar, abt 1898

This still left a few mysteries, such as how did Claude and Edah meet?  What was she doing in Illinois? When and why did Claude and Edah split up?  Did they actually get a divorce? Did they actually remarry, or did they just pair up with other people?  As I dug deeper into this branch of the family, I got some answers, but also had more questions.  Regardless, discovering this marriage record opened the door to many more generations of family to investigate, both on Edah's side and Claude's.  The brick wall had been blown apart.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - the Bogenrief children

When he was about 11 years old, my great-grandfather Fred Buss moved with his family  from Wards Grove, Jo Daviess County, Illinois to Douglas Township, Sac County, Iowa.  Their friends and neighbors from Illinois, Solomon and Sophia (Phillips) Bogenrief had moved there a few years before and apparently encouraged them to come, too.

Fred mentions the Bogenriefs several times in his life story.  The first is in the opening, which I quoted from the other day.
This day I will write the history of my life to my four children: Elsie, Ella, Edith, and Hubert-all born on the farm in Douglas Township on section fifteen (15) south-west quarter, Sac County Iowa. Your mother was born on the north-east quarter of the same section in the same township, in 1877. I went to school with her brothers and sisters in Illinois seven or eight years before she was born. She had one sister about my age whose name was Elizabeth. We were in the same class and studied from the same book and I thought she was the nicest girl in school. But she died of typhoid fever October 3, 1880 in Iowa on section fifteen (15) in Douglas Township and I waited seventeen years and then I married her youngest sister, Maude Bogenrief in 1897. We spent forty-one years of happy life together and then she passed away and left me alone in this wide world like I was the first thirty-four years of my life.
I discovered the University of Iowa has some wonderful online digital archives of county maps.  I hadn't discovered a land patent in Iowa for the Buss family, so I thought I'd take a look at the 1907 Sac County Atlas, which included plat maps for each of the townships.  I found the Buss farm, just where Fred said it was, in the SW corner of section 15.

Fred helped build the church in section 16. My grandmother went to the school in section 9.
Fred had acquired more land by then, as you can see. The Peter Adolphsen farm, sandwiched between the two chunks of land Fred owned, actually belonged to Fred's little sister Lizzie. Lizzie and Peter Adolphsen, an immigrant from Sweden, had married in Dec 1897, but Peter died in 1905, leaving her a widow with three children at age 32.  In the 1870s, the Bogenriefs lived in the NE quarter-section owned by Ernest Markley in 1908, and that's where my great-grandmother, Maud Bogenrief was born.

By 1885, the Bogenriefs had moved south to Cedar Township.

I happened upon photos of Sol and Sophia's headstone this weekend as I searched Sac County cemeteries on the  FindaGrave website.

Photo by Sheila Bunting
There were also links to related individuals.  One was for a daughter, Amelia, who I had seen on the 1870 census (when they were still in Illinois) and who had just turned a year old. I hadn't seen her after that, so until I happened upon this photo and the links, I hadn't known anything else about her. Amelia apparently died in 1874, and there is a note that the headstone was broken.  No photo was supplied.

Then I saw a link for Elizabeth.

Notice the crooked, broken headstone
Elizabeth Bogenrief, 1864-1880
The information I got from FindaGrave got me filling in some dates for these two Bogenrief sisters.  That's when I realized there was a Bogenrief boy, Adam, b. abt 1867, who had also disappeared off the census before 1880.  I did another search for any Bogenriefs buried in Sac County and found that Adam was apparently buried in the same plot, but has no marker.

Solomon and Sophia Bogenrief had at least nine children, only six of whom survived to adulthood.  I don't know why it makes me especially sad to see the three who died were consecutive children.

John, b. Jul 1855
Catherine b. Jan 1857
Benjamin b. Dec 1858
Samuel b. Oct 1862
Elizabeth b. Aug 1864 d. Oct 1880
Adam b. abt 1867 d. bet 1870 and 1880
Amelia b. abt 1869 d. Mar 1874
George b Mar 1872
Mary Maud b. Jan 1877 (my great grandmother)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Case of the Evasive Ancestor

Yesterday, I talked about the path toward finding my great-grandmother (and her mother).  I had finally found a big clue, which was that my great-grandmother's maiden name was probably Silliman, not Stillman, but I still hadn't found her on a census record.

After searching a bit, I discovered my great-great grandfather, J.W. Silliman, was Jervis W. Silliman.

Finally, I found this 1887 Washington Territory census:
Emma Silliman, with her four children: William, Olla, Frank, and Maud
They were at the top of the page, so I looked at the previous page to see if Jervis was there.  I found him at the bottom of a page, but not the previous one in this batch.  He was in a different census book (enumerated two days earlier).  Both Emma and Jervis were enumerated in Spokane Falls, so I am unclear about why he was in a different location.

In 1889, they're all in the household, except the oldest boy, William, who would have been 16.
J.W., Emily, Ollie, Frank, Maud Silliman
Now that I had established Maud's parentage and found that she was in Washington shortly after she was born, I took another look for her on the 1900 census.

I didn't find Emma.  Instead, I found this:
Jervis Silliman, Widowed, and his son Frank.
Emma was dead?  What happened to Maud?  I knew she wasn't dead, because if she were, I wouldn't be here.  So where was she?

I consulted the Washington State Archives Database, looking for Emma's death record.  I couldn't find one, but vital records were spotty in the early days of the state. I tried searching under different last names, and then I tried searching for Maud's marriage record, thinking maybe that would help me figure out who her guardian was.

Searching marriages and the last name Silliman, I found this:
Say WHAT?!?!
The first line links to an image of the marriage certificate.  The highlighted line links to an image of the marriage return, which is much more interesting.
Most of what Emma claims on this form is true.
While it's true that Emma was widowed, that was when she was married to Thomas Plews.  Since we know Jervis is still alive and kicking in 1900, and this marriage return was filled out in 1898, and we know that this will be her THIRD marriage, not her second, we can see that she was lying to the state, not to mention William Griffin, her future husband, a farmer and MINISTER.

At last, I found Maud on the 1900 census:

There she is, listed as Maud Griffin, Step Daughter to William Parter Griffin
What I haven't figured out yet is this:
For some reason, I forgot to specify I was searching for death records for W P Griffin, and instead searched on marriage records.  "Lilliman" is a typo.  It turns out the two records for 1901/02 are another marriage return and certificate for Emma and William.  It appears the two of them got married again in 1901.  I don't know why.  I emailed Lincoln County asking if they have divorce records from that time period, wondering if perhaps Emma had been caught in her lie, a divorce was obtained, and then a "real" marriage took place, but I haven't heard back from them, so I don't know yet.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Persistence Pays

While my mother's family has been fairly easy to track down, particularly those people in the past 150 years, my dad's family has been a challenge.

Part of what has made my mother's family fairly easy to trace is that we had so much to go on from the start. Plus we had names like Fink, Rood and Bogenrief to help us out.  My dad doesn't  know much about his family (or didn't before I started down this road), and on top of that we had fairly generic surnames like Richardson and Miller to work with. 

The first record I found (and it was easy) was the 1930 census of my grandparents, Anna Zora Miller and Floyd Richardson and their first son, my Uncle Floyd ("Junior").
Zora was only 16 when she married Floyd
 I was fascinated to see that my grandmother's mother had been born in Minnesota, where I live now.  Other than my brother, who has since moved back to Michigan, I hadn't known that any of my family had ever lived in Minnesota.

After finding out the names of Zora's parents, I found the 1910 census.
My great-grandparents William H. and Maude E Miller. Anna Z is my grandmother, age 1 yr 1 month.
As you can see, there are several neighbors named Miller, but it doesn't appear that they are siblings, as their fathers were born in different states (or countries!)  The census adds a level of certainty that my great-grandmother Maud was born in Minnesota.

I emailed my dad and asked if he knew Maud's maiden name.  He thought it might be Stillman.  The census showed Maud was 34 in 1910, so that meant she was born in 1875 or 1876.  I searched the 1880 census and found several Stillman families, but none that had a daughter the right age.  I looked for her on the 1900 census, when she would have still been living at home, and couldn't find her there, either.  I also couldn't find the Millers in the 1920 or 1930 census.  Very frustrating!

After searching his memory for a while, my dad was able to come up with the names of his mother's siblings, but had no idea what their birth order was.  Still, I could not find William and Maud Miller, so I started searching on the kids names.  Eventually, I hit pay dirt.

My grandmother's father was going by his middle name, Harry, which explains why I had trouble finding him.  Maude, it seems, is still 34 years old, ten years after the previous census, which explains why I couldn't find her with her original estimated birth year.

With this information, I had an easier time finding the 1930 census record.
Maud and Harry with their youngest children
At this point, I could see the age on the first census record had to be wrong.  In 1930, Maud is listed as 44 years old, and her youngest child is 3 years old.  The record says she married at age 18.  It makes far more sense that she was producing children from age 19-40 rather than 29-50.  I was fairly sure by then that Maud's birth year was 1885/86, not 1875/76.  This actually made searching for census records more problematic, because she was born after the 1880 census.  I was not able to find her on the 1885 Minnesota census, either. 

I decided to work forward, instead, and find the death records for Harry and Maud.  My dad thought Harry must have died when my father was young or before he was born, because his grandmother (Maud) came to live with them.  I could find no SS death index record and no California death index, either.  The California index begins in 1940, so my guess is that Harry died some time between 1930 and 1940.  That left finding Maud's death index record.  My dad wasn't sure when she died, but my mother remembered meeting her, so she had to have died some time after my parents graduated from high school.  I searched in two year increments and still came up with nothing.

Finally, my dad sent me an email saying he thought I was looking for her under the wrong last name.  Some years after his Grandpa Harry died,  Grandma Maud had married again, to a man named Earl Abbott.

This proved very interesting for a couple of reasons.  First, I found her death record immediately, but I also found her mother's maiden name.  Forder.  Next, because I can't let a shaking leaf just sit there unattended, I discovered I could follow Earl back through census records very easily.  And what I found was that he and Maude were both born in Minnesota, both migrated to Washington state at some point (he when he was just a few years old), and they even lived in the same county when they were both young and newly married to their first spouses.  When they married each other, they were both living in Northern California.

I emailed my dad.  It's weird how they lived in the same places their whole lives.  I wonder if their families knew each other in Minnesota and Washington? I mused.

My dad emailed back.  They were cousins!

This is the point where I sigh and think, Why didn't he just tell me that to start with?! But I've realized that it often takes presenting my parents with a detail before they remember something important, especially when those details are something they last heard or thought about 50 or 60 years ago.

Knowing they were cousins, and knowing Maud's mother's maiden name, I thought I might be able to find out who my g2grandmother (Maud's mother) was, and then work forward in time to find my great-grandmother in Minnesota. Through his death record index, I discovered Earl's mother's maiden name was also Forder, so I knew Earl and Maud's mothers were sisters.  From census records and other Ancestry family trees, I could see Earl's mother was Charlotte Forder and that she was born in Indiana, just as Maud said her mother had been.

Soon I found the entire Forder clan in Indiana, headed by William and Maria (Wells), immigrants from England.  Their ten children were born between 1838 and 1862.  The five oldest were boys: William, James, Albert, Robert, and Milton.  The five youngest were girls: Emily (or Emma), Mary, Charlotte, Susan Alice, and Anna, born between 1849 and 1862. One of those five girls was my great-great grandmother and all were within the appropriate age range to make any of them possible.  The only question was, which one was she?

Until the 1870 census, William and Maria Wells were in Indiana, but in 1880 they are living in Meeker County, MN.  Since I knew my great grandmother had been born in Minnesota around 1885, I could assume my great-great grandmother had moved to Minnesota with her parents.

I began looking for marriage records of the five sisters.

Emma, the oldest, was born in 1849.  In 1871, she married a widower with two children, Thomas Plews, in Indiana.  I couldn't find them on any census record after that.

Mary, born 1851, married William Hutchins in Minnesota in 1873 in Meeker, MN.  Mary and William had five boys and eventually migrated to Spokane, WA where they lived together until William died in 1921.  Mary could not be Maud's mother.  The Forder family must have moved some time after 1871, when Emma married Thomas Plews, but before Mary's 1873 marriage.

Charlotte, born 1855 married Francis Abbott in 1874 in Meeker, MN.  They had 8 boys and girls.  They migrated to Spokane, WA and then by 1910 had moved to Arizona.  Their son Earl married Rosealga Silsdorff in Washington in 1903, eventually migrating to northern California.  After Earl's wife died, he married Maud, his first cousin (my great grandmother).  Charlotte could not be Maud's mother.
Susan Alice was born in 1858 and married John Johnson in 1876 guessed it...Meeker County, MN.  They had four boys and migrated to Washington where they lived until at least 1930. Alice could not be Maud's mother.

The youngest Forder was Anna, born in 1862. In 1884, Anna gave birth to twin girls, Ellen ("Nellie") and May.  She was not married.  Eight years later, she married Winfield Clark, but soon divorced him.  In 1905 she was living in Minneapolis with her daughters in an apartment not more than 8 blocks from my first Minneapolis apartment.  She and her daughters continued living in Minneapolis for years.  Anna was not Maud's mother.

At this point, it looked like the only sister who could be Maud's mother was Emma, who had vanished. Since Maud's maiden name was supposedly Stillman, not Plews, Emma's husband must have died and then she remarried.  Based on the migratory and marriage habits of the rest of the Forder family, it looked like they had all moved to Minnesota a year or two after the 1870 census. Since I couldn't find Emma and Thomas Plews on any census, I decided to look for anyone named Plews in Minnesota.  I found no one on the 1880 census, but I did find an 1885 Minnesota state census record.

Could this be them?
Maud isn't on this record, but she was born in 1885 or 1886, so that doesn't eliminate this family.  The main thing I noticed was the name of the parents, which was Silliman.  It wasn't Stillman, but it's close.  Second, there is evidence that the wife has been married before, since there are two boys with the last name Plews.  Also, I notice that J.W. Silliman was born in New York, while M.E. Silliman was born in Indiana, birth places that Maud lists for her parents on every census record.  I was slightly thrown by the initial M for Emma, but the middle initial was E, so I was hopeful.

When I searched the Minnesota marriage index, I found them.  J.W. Silliman and Emma "Clews" (likely a typo) had married in McLeod County (the county south of Meeker) in 1878.  That fits within the gap between the Plews children and Frank Silliman.

I still hadn't found Maud.
 (To be continued...)