Tag Archives: Family History

Suicide Doesn’t Define the Life of My Great-Grandfather…

15 Jul

Note: There is mention of suicide and a few details about the suicide of a specific individual in this article.

“I believe the vast majority of cases will find that these individuals have lived heroic lives and that that suicide will not be a defining characteristic of their eternities.” (Dale G. Renlund)

I grew up knowing only one thing about my great-grandfather Willard: He took his life, leaving a young family to struggle in the wake. There are no pictures of him. No stories. Really no information. He died when his children were very young, so they didn’t have memories of him to pass along to future generations.

A few weeks ago I was pondering the idea that everyone probably wants to be remembered well after they pass away. And Willard wasn’t really remembered at all, other than how he left this life. So I went on a little search to see if there were any other details about him that could be unearthed. Of course, a few dates and a census record exist, but the key was finding a newspaper article detailing his death.

From the Soda Springs Chieftain, December 6, 1911:

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 9.11.42 AM

Willard Mickelson, who is well known here, committed suicide last Tuesday night by hanging himself. The only reason that can be given is that after being in poor health all summer he became despondent and decided to end it all in this manner.

Tuesday evening he left home, telling his wife he was going over along the railroad track [to] pick up some coal. That was the last time he was seen alive. Early Wednesday morning Mrs. Mickelson started out to look for him, and in a granary which he had rented from Mr. Edgley, she found his body suspended from the ceiling by a rope and frozen stiff. Word was immediately sent to town and Justice Potter, Deputy Sheriff Christensen, George H. Fisher, Hyrum Toolson and W. E. Settle went out and took the body down.

Word was sent to his relatives in Logan and reached them just when they were at the depot buying tickets to come here to spend Thanksgiving.

Mr. Mickelson came to Bancroft from Logan and took up at homestead upon which he was living. In Logan he had the reputation of being an honest, industrious and respected citizen and he has been considered as such here. Besides his wife and four children he leaves a mother and several brothers to mourn his loss. The body was taken to Logan yesterday where he will be buried in the family [plot] at that place.

I was grateful to find some positive information about great grandpa: He was known as being honest, industrious, and respected. I had found what I was looking for. But there’s more to flesh out the story and gives some context for how his life ended.

  • He was in poor health, which would’ve been very discouraging if you’re trying to homestead a piece of property and make imporvements
  • The night previous he had gone out to gather up coal that had fallen off of the train. That leads me to believe they are struggling financially. It is winter (December) and maybe hard to heat their home.
  • They’ve just had a baby and maybe he is struggling to provide for his four young children.
  • He was just 17 when his father passed away. I’m guessing that was hard. His father was a polygamist and had a number of children. He may not have had a close relationship with his dad. I don’t know if there is any connection there.
  • He is homesteading in Idaho (so was at least one of his brothers). This is very hard work and could’ve been discouraging. His father owned land in Logan, but with multiple sons there wouldn’t have been enough land for everyone to inherit. The family was awarded the land after Willard’s death.

There’s more to Willard’s story than a suicide. And though the way he died certainly is a part of his story, now we know a little more about this “honest, industrious and respected citizen” of both Utah and Idaho.

Advertisements

How We Found the “lost children”…

17 Oct

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 11.36.13 PMPoking through Puzzilla led me to August and Mary (Gilbert) Schuck. August is one of the sons of my great-great-great grandparents, Jacob and Elizabeth Schuck. I noticed that August and his wife only had two children listed, which wouldn’t be out of the ordinary except that they lived in the 1870’s when birth control wasn’t the norm, and having more than two children was. So, curious, I decided to try to see if August and Mary had more children that we didn’t know about.

I’ll make a long story much shorter…

I wound up in the 1910 US Census because I knew that it would list the number of children a mother gave birth to as well as the number of children that were still living in 1910. If there was a difference, then we’d know there were more children (assuming that she reported correctly). Here’s what I found:

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 10.49.03 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 10.48.55 PMNoticed that she has listed 6 children being born, but only 3 still living? There was the clue I needed. Now, knowing that three children weren’t still alive in 1910, I started searching death records with August and Mary as the parents. Very quickly I found two death records, one for Addison and one for George. Both died before they were 6,  but not as infants, so I’d like to find the cause of death, but I haven’t searched that far yet and I’m not sure I’ll be able to find the causes. Here are their indexed death records:

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 10.51.39 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 10.51.10 PM

I would imagine that 1879 and 1880 were tough years for the Schuck family. And, as you can tell from my story, I haven’t found the other two missing children. We’ll see what we can find in the coming weeks.

You’ll notice that the death record has a street address where the family lived when these two young boys passed away. Using Google Maps, I found the area and where their home would’ve been, but the house or building has been, sadly, torn down.

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 11.07.20 PM

Making Corrections in FamilySearch.org….

8 Sep

The new FamilySearch.org is a great website for family history. But along with all of the new features (which I won’t cover and probably don’t even know the half of) there are some negatives. Well, they are perceived negatives. Maybe they’re not negative at all…In fact, what started as a negative will probably turn out positive. Here’s what happened…

My son Parker was a little curious about our family history so I logged him onto his own account where he started searching around through our family tree. He bumped into John J. Roberts, who is my great-grandfather. I never knew him, but I know both of his daughters and his granddaughter (my mother). Parker noticed that there were two Elaines in John and Kate’s family. One is still alive (my grandma) and one died in 1994.

Doesn’t make sense.

I know some families had two children with the same given name, but this isn’t that family. I called mom just to confirm. I also checked the census, which confirmed only one Elaine.

So I deleted the relationship on FamilySearch, left a detailed note explaining why I deleted the relationship, and attached the census record. I also personally contacted the guy who added Elaine Fae to start a dialogue, just in case there is something I’m missing.

Though it is frustrating that anyone can just come around and add anyone they’d like with no documentation, I can also delete stuff and have a conversation about the issues in the family. I like that…

Long Lost Baby Charles! (not lost anymore…)

7 Feb

I recently discovered some things about Pauline. But that wasn’t all…

While I was searching for Pauline’s maiden name, I happened to notice this little tidbit of information on the 1900 US Census record for Charles and Pauline Ziesel:

Screen shot 2013-02-07 at 5.47.26 AM

Notice the little “3” and “2”? Apparently Pauline is reporting that she had given birth to three children, but only two were living. In our records, we have that Charles and Pauline had three children (eventually), so the real report (10 years later) would be “4” and “3”, right? Right.

I didn’t pay too much attention because I was pretty focused on finding her maiden name. But, mental note

Later that day (the day I discovered Pauline’s maiden name, “Schafer” or “Shaffer”) I was meandering through some Pennsylvania town records, hunting down the Ziesel family name and I came across this:

Screen shot 2013-02-07 at 6.00.24 AM

Hard to read, I know. But it says that a Charles R. Ziesel had died after living 10 weeks. I can’t tell what the cause of death was (influenza? cholera? I can’t read it). And if you look across the ledger you’ll find this:

Screen shot 2013-02-07 at 6.03.47 AM

Parents are “Chas + Pauline” and the address is 1235 Huntington which is the address you’ll find them at in other documents.

I also noticed a larger-than-normal gap in the birth years for Pauline…babies born in 1886, 1891, and then 1902. 1894, the year of little Charles Raymond’s birth/death, is a perfect fit. I did eventually find baby Charles with almost no information, connected to a Charles and Pauline on FamilySearch.org, but there was no information otherwise, except a middle name. I don’t know how they found the middle name. There must be some other document out there with the info, but I don’t have it (yet). A birth record? Some church record?

Welcome (back) to the family little Charles!

UPDATE:

Just found this:

Screen shot 2013-02-07 at 6.16.54 AM

 

This must be the record where you’d find baby Charles’ middle name. The only problem is that Ancestry indexed the father as Charles Schaefer, which is Pauline’s maiden name, not Charles’ last name. I’ll go to the Family History Center and check it out this week…

Finding Pauline (I think)…

6 Feb

I’m not very good at finding the details about the women in my ancestry. I can hardly find last names for most of them unless there is a marriage certificate that is easily traceable. That’s how lame I am at genealogy. But I try hard, and periodically I’ll stumble across some success, usually due to someone else’s efforts. Take Pauline for instance…

William Ziesel had a brother named Charles M. Ziesel (1862) and I found from some census records that he was married to “Pauline”. I’ve just had the name “Pauline” sitting there on the family tree without any last name. Yesterday I found that they were married about 1885 because the census record (1910 US Census) asked how long they had been married (25 years). But I haven’t tracked down a marriage certificate or index or anything.

But, I did happen across the baptism registry for their daughter, Annette:

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 5.24.20 AM

I think it is recorded in German. Someone indexed it and I got birth and baptismal info. I’m having it translated by one of my friends who served an LDS mission to Germany, just to make sure I know what the who thing says. But I also found this little bit of info:

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 5.24.39 AM

Who ever indexed this record noticed “Schafer” as Pauline’s last name! Woo-hoo!! I was thrilled! I’d still like to see this information on a few other documents, but this is a good breakthrough. Especially because on the 1870 US Census I found a Pauline Shaffer in Philip and Frederica Shaffer’s family:

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 5.44.39 AM

 

I don’t know if it is my Pauline or not, but it has the right birth year and birth state. Not enough proof, but I’ll begin scratching around and see what I can find…Pauline lists both her parents as being born in Germany on later censuses, and Prussia was in Germany, right?

Henry Conrad Vanderbeek, the Minister…

31 Jan

Hey…there’s a minister/missionary in my family. Good. I like ministers and missionaries. Here’s the low down…

Henry Conrad Vanderbeek was born to Court Lake Vanderbeek and Mary Jane Vanderbeck on 6 March 1865 (ten months after their marriage) in Bergen County, New Jersey. Henry was the oldest of what appears to be three living children (more on that later).

Here’s an entry about Henry from The Ministerial Directory (1898) by Edgar Sutton Robison III

Screen shot 2013-01-31 at 6.05.42 AM

 

We find that Henry graduated from Williams College with a BA in 1886 and from Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1890. He was licensed as a minister on June 13, 1890 and served in Newark, New Jersey starting in 1890.

Here’s an another entry about Henry from the Catalogue of the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity (1910)

Screen shot 2013-01-31 at 5.55.18 AM

We find from this record that Henry was also an organist and assistant librarian at Williams. Very cool stuff. I went to Union Theological Seminary’s website and found that it was founded in 1836 and is the “oldest independent seminary in the nation”.

in 1895, apparently, Henry travelled abroad. I don’t know the reason, but I have the passport. There is a some interesting info about Henry contained therein, regarding his appearance:

Screen shot 2013-01-31 at 6.28.36 AM

 

He was 5′ 9.5″ (and so am I), with a high forehead, straight nose, brown eyes, brown hair and an oval face. That’s me exactly. Except, he had a dimpled chin and I don’t. Here is his signature:

Screen shot 2013-01-31 at 6.30.48 AM

in 1900 we find Henry living in Newark as a boarder with the Simonson family. He is listed as a minister.

In 1910 we find him listed with his father and step-mother in Tenafly, New Jersey (listed as a son) and listed as a minister. But we also find him on the 1910 Census living in Williamstown, Massachusetts living as a boarder with the Adams family. He is listed as a clergyman. What gives?

Well, the censuses were taken a week apart. There is a chance that he was visiting home during the week and was listed by both families. There is a chance his dad just listed him because he had recently moved. Who knows. Either way, America counted one too many citizens (which through off the entire data set, I’m sure).

In 1920, we find Henry living in Sweetgrass County, Montana, in School District #5 (according to the census). He is listed as a clergyman and “Home Missionary”. I don’t know what that is (I mean, I’m sure I could guess I suppose), but I’d kind of like some info on that in the future.

Screen shot 2013-01-31 at 6.23.31 AM

 

 

I can’t find a death notice or certificate, so I’m searching for that stuff. Until then, I don’t have a concrete death date…

Two Children or Four? (Help from the census records!)

23 Jan

I’ll make this quick. I think James “D” Vanderbeek and Nettie Ward Vanderbeek only had two children. Shocking, I know…

When I recently went to FamilySearch.org/tree, I found four children listed for James and Nettie:

  1. James Lawrence Vanderbeek (1892)
  2. Ruth Vanderhoek (1894) suspect!
  3. Stuart Ward Vanderbeek (1895)
  4. James L. Vanderhoek (1908) suspect!

Here’s why I think there are really only two children, James (1892) and Stuart (1895). I remembered that the census records often ask the mothers how many children they had given birth to and how many were alive:

Screen shot 2013-01-13 at 5.40.12 PM

Notice the little “1” and the “1” next to it? This mother claimed to have given birth once and the child was still alive.

So here is Nettie’s line (along with her two boys) in the 1910 US Census. Here husband is listed on the previous census page, so you won’t see him here:

Screen shot 2013-01-13 at 5.43.09 PM

Notice, all the way on the right hand side, the little “2’s”? Two births, two living children. It is the same on the 1900 Census.

So, I’ll do a little more work..check birth records, etc., but I really can’t find anything remotely close to a Ruth or James L. Vanderhoek…so, they’re probably on the verge of getting cut…