Friday, June 30, 2017

Mystery Muddle: Who is John W "Johney" Smull of Centre & Stephenson County?

I believe John W. Smull is the "missing" son of Peter Smull and Mary Waggoner. This has been a major ponderable in my studies. Without a birth or death certificate, it leaves some room for question, but I'm pretty sure I solved this particular mystery at last.

Who is John W. Smull of Centre County who moved to Stephenson County in 1870?

Records are sadly lacking with any specificity for the era 1800-1850. No names on census reports except the household head, no great newspaper items for rural areas, blah, blah.

Here's what I know:

The various census from 1820-1840 indicate that Peter and Mary had a dozen children. I was able to identify 11 and believe the missing child was a boy born between 1826-1830.

John W. Smull's middle initial stands for "Wagner." If he is Peter & Mary's child, he would be the first son of the union and Waggoner is Peter's wife's maiden name. Mary's father's name was John. Germans often named their children after someone specific - in this case, it would be his maternal grandfather John Waggoner.

Now, we know that John W. "Johney" Smull was born 30 Apr 1826 in Pennsylvania and as of the 1850 census, resided in Rebersburg. It is reported that in 1850, he married his wife, Amelia Kahl. They lived in Pennsylvania until 1867, when they are found in Illinois. They were the last of the Peter & Mary children to head west. In 1880, they are in Waddams, Stephenson County.
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Peter's son, Peter L., is still a bit of a mystery and I don't know how he was with his children. When Peter L's son Oscar's first wife died, Oscar's son Archie went to live Ella & JW McDaniel - but that didn't work out so well. The three children and Oscar resided with "his cousin" Thomas N Smull, who is Thomas Newton Smull, son of John W. Smull. The children remained with TN Smull and his wife after Oscar's remarriage and are often confused with being TN Smull's children, when they are in fact, Oscar's by his first wife.

Johney's first son is named Myron Peter Smull. Peter would be Johney's father if my surmise is correct.

The only fly in the ointment is that Peter and Mary also had a son named Johnathan Smull, born in 1834 (my 2nd great grandfather). Would they have two such similarly named sons? German children often had three names at baptism and could have been called any of those names at any point in their lives. Hmm. Very curious. Johnathan (1834) is never referenced with a middle name nor middle initial. He was also referred to as Johnathan, not usually John or Johnny. Based on all of the German naming traditions and varied uses of their 3-name system, I would say it would be possible to have both a John and a Johnathan in the same family - especially if children were named after specific other people.

Johney died in McConnell, Stephenson County 04 Feb 1903. Amelia died 05 Oct 1907.

I'm calling it - this is indeed the last of the Peter Smull, Mary Waggoner children.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

James Bergey Smull Family: Jesse McGarvey Smull

Mary Etta "Etta" Robison

Jesse's father James was the son of one of the original Brothers Smull of Brush Valley, Centre County, Pennsylvania. We covered Jesse M Smull's brother Judson previously.

Jesse McGarvey Smull was born to James Bergey Smull and Louise McGarvey on 26 Sep 1891 in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He married Etta Robison at Cumberland, Maryland on 23 Feb 1910. She was born 04 Aug 1891, also in Altoona. The couple had four daughters.

Jesse was a sign painter by trade and quite well known for being good at what he did. Their lives hummed along without much incident until August 1925, when Jesse was caught up in a tragedy.

William Heller, a retired tinsmith who resided on Juniata Gap Rd, was walking home from the store to his Point View cottage when he was struck by Jesse M. Smull's automobile at about 8 pm on 05 Aug 1925. Smull's address at the time was 1212 Seventeenth Ave in Altoona. He was reportedly on his way home to Altoona when he struck Heller. Smull loaded the injured man into his car to take him to the hospital and got only a few feet before he struck another car. Heller was seriously injured and did eventually get to the hospital. He held his own for some time before his injuries got the best of him and he died. The autopsy revealed he died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

There was no doubt from the outset of the investigation - Jesse M. Smull was intoxicated when he struck Heller. He was immediately placed under arrest. The Corner's inquest was called and witnesses testified about the victim and the driver. Many of the witnesses smelled liquor on Smull's breath, yet, the panel rendered a verdict absolving Smull of carelessness or reckless driving. Didn't matter to the district attorney though, he decided to pursue a charge of involuntary manslaughter against Smull. At his arrest, Smull had bailed at $3,000.He went to trial in January of 1926 and a jury was empaneled. He suddenly changed his plea to guilty. He was sentenced to no more than seven months in county jail, a $100 fine, and the costs of the trial.

Jesse, we presume, served his sentence and went on with his life. In 1936, he was arrested again - intoxicated - but this time was found sleeping in his car at 1 am with no keys in  the ignition, so the charge was just drunkenness.

Jesse died in an Altoona hospital after a brief illness on 05 Feb 1967. His wife and three daughters, Beatrice, Virginia, and Frances, survived him.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Gramley Boys of Centre County, Pennsylvania

C. L. and Joanna Weaver Gramley

You can read about Sarah Smull and her husband Samuel Gramley here.

Titus Melaucthon (T.M.) and Cephas Luther (C.L.) Gramley were two three Gramley boys who survived to adulthood. Both found value in education and both became successful citizens in their communities.

C.L. Gramley was born 17 Sep 1852 in Rebersburg, a German community in the heart of Miles Township in Brush Valley. He lived on the family farm during his childhood, but then went on to increase his education and spent two years in the Clinton Seminary. He taught for a time to gain the funds to spend two years at Susquehanna University at Selins Grove and once graduated, Professor Gramley spent 17 years teaching at the Grammar School in Rebersburg. After that, he taught at the Normal School and various institutes during the summer months. In 1892, he was named County Superintendent of Schools, hired to fill out the term of the previous superintendent. He was elected and relected in 1893 and 1896.

C.L. married Miss Joanna Weaver in 1878. She was born in nearby Wolfs Store, Centre County in August 1852. They had two daughters, Gertrude, who died at age 15 in 1895 and Almah, born in 1882. His obituary references a son, Clement, though I could find no evidence of that son elsewhere.

C.L. and Joanna were very involved with the Lutheran Church. C.L. was chorister of the church and Sabbath School since 1875. He was a charter member and first Noble Grand of IOOF Lodge 103. Like his father before him, he learned the land survey trade as well and assisted his father in surveying until his father's death. Not an idle man, he and his brother T.M. opened a general mercantile business in Rebersburg. As his stature in the community grew, he also became vice president and director of the Farmer's National Bank in Millheim, which had deposits in 1924 of $600,000. C. L. died 20 May 1935 in Miles, Centre County, just a couple months after his wife died 12 Jan 1935.

T. M. Gramley
T.M. Gramley was born 31 Jul 1856 in Rebersburg. He attended school in the Harter district in Miles Township and then went on to the County Normal School at Milesburg to prepare for a teacher's life. He was tasked heavily at home, so completing his education was difficult, but he did it. At age 16, he became schoolmaster of a school in Porter Township in neighboring Clinton County where he gained an excellent reputation. He then entered the Penn Hall Academy and prepared for college, but ended up back Porter to teach another three terms and then went to Mackeyville Grammar to teach. He ended up teaching 14 terms, spending summers working the family farm. He was certified to teach in all grades and had a State certificate. He then went into business with his brother C.L.

T.M.'s partnership with his brother in the general mercantile trade lasted about two years, when T.M. sold out to pursue farming. He farmed in the summer and taught in the winter. In 1888, he formed another business partnership, this time with RG Eisenhart. They opened a general stock company called the Spring Mills Creamery Company, which remained active for many, many years.

Marriage to Miss Agnes Loose occurred on 18 Dec 1877 in Miles Township. She was born 07 Sep 1836 to Samuel and Elizabeth Brickley Loose. The Gramley's purchased the "Old Peter Wilson" house and upgraded it with modern conveniences and set about raising their family of five children. Education remained important through the next generation as well. Orpha attended Irving College in Mechanicsburg and S Ward attended Susquehanna University. At the time of the biographical sketch written about T.M., his youngest two children, Windom and Bruce were still at home. Their final child, Eugene Titus, would arrive 10 Dec 1899.

T.M. and Aggie were also active in the Lutheran church and T.M. held various offices all of his adult life. He was also a member of the IOOF along with his brother.

T.M. died 05 Oct 1938 and Aggie died 30 Jun 1939, both in Millheim.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sarah Smull & Samuel Gramley of Centre County

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Sarah Smull was born 15 Mar 1832 in Rebersburg, Centre County, Pennsylvania to Henry Smull and his first wife, Elizabeth Royer.

She married Samuel Gramley on 07 Aug 1849 in Aaronsburg in Centre County. Samuel was born 04 Mar 1827 in Rebersburg.  He attended school as he could during winter months. He loved mathematics. After he finished his rural education, he began teaching. His first school was a subscription school in 1848, after which he went to Mifflinburg Academy in Union County for 18 weeks where he trained to teach. He then taught in his home school and secured its first-ever blackboard. In Spring 1849, he spent 10 more weeks at Mifflingburg Academy and then taught again at his home school. he continued teaching until 1861, when he moved to one of his father's farms and began cultivating the land. He also studied surveying and became a surveyor.

Gramley served as elder in the Lutheran church and held the position of superintendent of the Sunday School for 34 years. And,despite his being a Republican in a heavily Democratic township, he was elected as justice of the peace in 1869 and held that job for 15 years. He also served as a county commissioner starting in 1870 until 1873. Since he didn't seem to have enough to do, he also served as the Centre Hall Mutual Insurance Co. representative for 25 years. He owned two farms and a house in town, making him a substantial citizen of the area.

Sarah and Samuel had eight children: Isabella (died in infancy), Tiras (died in infancy), Cephas, Sarah Annie (died young), Titus, Clement, Naomi, and Adah.

Sarah died 14 May 1880 in Rebersburg. Samuel remarried to Catherine Spangler Ocker, a widow with five children. Samuel died 13 Jan 1903 in Rebersburg.

I'll cover Titus and Cephas in a separate post.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Centre County, PA: Miles Township & Smullton's Inception

There's a Smull genealogy website out there that for all intents and purposes, is full sound and fury, signifying nothing. But it does pose some interesting questions, most of which a little research and tenacity has seemed to resolve. Still, it calls to our attention the town of Smullton. Not a town, really, but a stopping point that had a post office in Miles Township in Centre County, which is really the originating source of our Smull roots and their stories.

Miles Township
It was indeed named in honor of one of our ancestors, George H. Smull, grandson of one of the four original Brothers Smull, Henry. And for the simple reason that George managed somehow to get the village its own post office. Prior to becoming "Smullton," it was Kreamerville for decades. Again, a family tie in. Henry's second wife was Catherine Kreamer, daughter of settler Jacob Kreamer. That marriage produced five children, including George H. Smull's father.

Jacob Kreamer owned a lot of land and farmed in the narrow strip of valley at the edge of the mountains. Son Joseph took over the family farm. The Kreamers would remain a presence in the area through today.

George H Smull was the son of Reuben Smull and Louisa Gramley, Born 23 Jun 1869 in Rockville in Brush Valley, his father farmed in the area. Reuben would later purchase the Joseph Kreamer farm. Reuben was described as a "man of no pretensions, minding his own business, and this, by the way, is a characteristic trait in the family, which has poduced a number of substantial, successful, yet unassuming citizens."

George H Smull
George was their only child and attended all the schooling the area had to offer (which was still conducted exclusively in German) and then went on to schools in Spring Mills, Selins Grove, and even Dakota, Stephenson County, Illinois. After several years in Illinois, he returned to Pennsyvania. He married Daisy Blanche Stover, on 04 Jul 1891. The couple would have no children.

George spent some time in the circulation department of the Keystone Gazette in Bellefonte which gave him opportunity to travel the area. In 1896, he became an insurance agent for New York Life. He did well in this pursuit and ended up managing a number of neighboring counties. The couple had a home in Rebersburg, but preferred their country home on the farm.

In the early 1900s, the need for a post office became pressing for the citizens of the area. On September 24, 1904, the US Postmaster finally named a postmaster for the newly minted village of Smullton, George H Smull. It was considered a fourth class post office. "A fourth-class postmaster’s position was highly prized in rural America. Although the job paid very little, it drew trade into the postmaster’s store and conveyed the mark of a town leader on the lucky recipient," according to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. George resigned in early March of 1910 and a postal examination was held to replace him. That post office, like most fourth class post offices, eventually closed to consolidate postal operations. It shut its doors in 1957.

George died at the age of 58 on 06 Nov 1927 in Centre County. His wife Blanche moved to Harrisburg and supported herself as a clerk until her retirement. She died 18 Jan 1963 in Carlisle, Cumberland, Pennsylvania.

The nature of Smullton has changed over the years. This article on Smullton was published in 1991:
Smullton: Portrait of a 1-Street Town
by Barbara Brueggebors, Times County Editor

Nobody's quite sure just when or how Smullton got its start, but everybody agrees the Miles Township village didn't start out as Smullton.
"We were Kreamerville for quite a while," says 85-year-old native son, Raymond Bair.
"We got to be Smullton after George H Smull fought to get us a town post office."
The one street community is located along Smullton Road about a half-mile south of (and parallel to) Rebersburg in rural Brush Valley. Elk Creek twists and curves through the town and its outlying fields.
Smullton proper is just about the same size as it was when the post office came to town way back in 1902 (ed note; 1904). There are 38 houses (all but one owner-occupied), no stores or churches, one beauty shop. The post office closed in 1957.
A half -dozen farms cling to the village's outskirts and more than a dozen houses and mobile home sline the paved lane leading to Rebersburg.
Mr Bair still lives in the red brick farmhouse his father purchased just west of the village in 1899.
"He bought this place from Mariah Kreamer and her son, George," says the retired dairyman and electrician. "The house was built in 1880 from bricks made down here in this meadow."
Mr Bair's 101 acres stretch from the foothills of Brush Mountain on the south to the back alleys in Rebersburg on the north.
"When I was a boy, the Smullton kids all walked to Rebersburg for school," Mr Bair says. "There was a boardwalk then right alongside the lane. When the boards got bad they put in gravel; and finally, they let it grow over with grass."
Mr Bair can remember two blacksmith shops in town, one run by Harry Smull, another by Charles Bressier and his son, Wilmer.
The community had a church too - at least up until 1932, when the entire membership voted 8 to 7 to disband.
"That was the Methodist-Episcopal Church," Mr Bair recalls, "It's since been turned into a residence. Dean Matter lives there now."
Carl Winters' dad, Clayt, was the last to run the old Smullton Creamery, which burned down in 1918. Up until the fire, it did a thriving business with farmers east of Madisonburg.
Smullton had two general stores that took turns housing the post office.
"Scott Walizer had a store and a cobbler's shop where Warren Royer's trailer is now," Mr Bair sai. "The old building burned down about five years ago.
"Ed Smull's store was down near the church. That building later was moved to the west end of town," he added.
Once settled in it new location, the store was kept by Herbert Stover, who also opened a photographic studio on the second floor.
Mr Stover's son, John, now 72, lives right across the stree from his father's former store building which now is a residence.
"My dad was what you call a go-getter," John Stover says. "Besides taking pictures upstairs, he had a printing outfit and a loom in the back of the store. And he ran a coal yard over in Coburn for 14 years."
"Dad had skylights - half-inch thick glass with wire in it - put in the roof of the place so he'd have the right light for his photos."
Stover's Store, like so many of its counterparts in other rural communities, quickly became the town's social center.
"About every night of the week, the store was sitting full," John Stover recalls. "The men would play cards or just sit on the two big benches in there and eat peanuts or cheese and crackers. Saturday night was the big night. We sold homemade ice cream, and I'd have to make it - every Saturday."
After Herbert Stover died in 1946, Wilbur D Meyer took over the store and operated it another dozen years.
The benches were gone though and when Mr Meyer rang up his last sale in December 1959, the town was without a grocery for the first time in anybody's memory.
While Smullton hasn't changed much size-wise, Mr Bair sees changes in its makeup.
"It used to be that I knew everybody in Smullton, Rebersburg, Wolfs Store and most of the people in Millheim," he says.
"But, over the years, it seems like the bulk of our younger people moved out Unless they farmed, there just wasn't anything doing around here for them. Now there's people in Smullton I don't know."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

And, Now, for Something Completely Different

I've been waxing on about my family for the last couple of years, but I also have another passion - the history of the town where I grew up. Cedar Falls, Iowa. When I was 17 and freshly graduated, I wanted to get out of this town as quickly as possible and spent the next 35 years living in Germany and in many different states in the US, before finally returning here when my children were all grown and I was old enough to appreciate a quieter, milder, kinder pace of life and rich history of this little piece of paradise.

One of the things we did was buy an old home in the historic downtown region. The street is lined with all types of homes built from the late 1800s to the 1920s. Mayors, doctors, factory owners, and other town notables lived in this area, which is now perhaps not as grand as it once was, but is lovingly cared for by the owners of today who see the value in the old home.

It was love at first sight when I saw the house go online nearly five years ago. It sat there, just waiting for us when we were ready to hunt for a home and get on with the next part of our lives. Once we settled in, I delved into the history of our house.

Robert Speers
This house was part of the Speers addition, which was subdivided and platted long before the house was built. Most likely, prior to the house being built, the family lived in a log cabin on the property. That would have been quite normal. Born in 1828 in Pennsylvania, Robert P. Speer, came to Cedar Falls in 1853. He was a nurseryman, lawyer, and a Captain in Company B, 31st Regiment, of the Iowa Volunteer Brigade which served the North in the Civil War. Speer actively involved himself in developing the city of Cedar Falls. From the original "Overman & Brown" tract of land, he purchased and platted what became "RP Speer Addition" (Section 12, 89 lots, 14 blocks) in Cedar Falls in 1856. Mr. Speer lived to nearly 80 years old, dying in 1909. I'm guessing he was loaded with bucks.

In 1856, Zacheus McNally purchased Lot 5, Block 2 of the RP Speer Addition. Unfortunately,
Zacheus died in 1886 and no building had begun. He died intestate so his heirs, wife Rosetta, son Frank and daughter Kate had to go to court to get title to the property.

Rosetta McNally, her son Frank (Elsia) and daughter Catherine McNally hung onto the property at Lot 5, Block 2 once they worked through the probate issues after Zacheus' death. In 1894, they took out a loan from the Cedar Valley Building and Loan Association and built themselves a house at what would become 920 Washington St.

Professor Bernhard Dubbert was the director of the conservatory of music at Upper Iowa University
Prof Bernhard Dubbert
in Fayette, IA starting in 1894 and had previously taught in public schools for many years. He was born in Sonnenborn, Germany in 1861. He married Minnie E. West of Lake Park IA in 1893 after having been one of his music pupils. They had two children, Ruth, born in Laurens in 1894 and Rudolph, born in 1897. Mrs. Dubbert was very active in the civic organizations of Cedar Falls. Their children both attended Iowa State Normal School/State College of Iowa. They purchased their home in Cedar Falls (920 Washington) in 1902 from the McNally's for $5,000 and owned it until 1931. They also maintained a home in Fayette County. Mrs. Dubbert seemed to be a bit of a social butterfly - and the "society" here would have suited her better than semi-rural/rural Fayette County.

The Dubbert's daughter, Ruth Dubbert Claxton and her husband Forrest B. Claxton purchased the house from her parents in 1931 but don't seem to have lived here, while the mother did. They retained title for the most part until 1937 when it was sold back to Minnie, who held deed to the property at 920 Washington until 1940. Ruth graduated from Iowa Normal in 1916, taught school for a couple years, then married Forrest. They lived in Fayette for all of their married lives except when he was serving in the war. She died in 1962 and he died at 89 in 1979. I'm going to go out on a limb, based on the additional loans taken out, that this was converted to apartments upstairs to help support Mrs. Dubbert after Mr. Dubbert died. At least until I get more information.

Mary Billman Judd purchased 920 Washington from Minnie Dubbert in 1940. In 1949, the house was named part of the "MF-Multiple Family District" which I believe means Mrs. Judd, who was older at
the time of the purchase, ran a boarding house of some sort. She owned the property until 1951. The extensive renovations done to the house sometime after Dr. Dubbert died and the Lebeda/Hadachek time included setting this up with multiple entries, creating the apartments upstairs (adding a bath to the first bedroom, which shortened the staircase ceiling in one spot, closing off the servants backstairs and cutting them off at the bottom and creating a cupboard to hide it, adding a wall next to the living room which housed a hallway between a new entry and the living room/kitchen).

Joseph J. Hadachek and wife Mary Lebeda Hadachek purchased the house from Mary Billman Judd in 1951 and sold it to her brother 10 years later. From Lebeda family reports, the home was never lived in by the Hadacheks. Frequently, in days gone by, getting a home loan wasn't so easy. Many times family members purchased a home and the tenant-owner made payments. According to a granddaughter of the Lebeda's, the Lebeda's lived on College St with their kids and had a house fire. They needed to quickly find a home large enough for the group. The Hadachek's assisted in the purchase of the home and then it became the Lebeda's. Joseph C. Lebeda and his wife Nadine E. Lebeda put their name on the title in 1961.

The Lebeda's attended St Patrick’s Catholic Church, a short walk from the house. Joseph worked at Dick Witham Chevrolet. Nadine died in 1983 and Joseph in 1986. Their four sons sold the house in 1999. This was probably a rental/apartments from 1986-1999 Based on information from the Lebeda granddaughter, the family kept the apartment style upstairs despite having four boys to house. As the Lebeda's got older and the kids moved out, they rented out the
apartments and lived downstairs. My office was their bedroom. They extended the kitchen to house an eat-in kitchen area as well. The office upstairs was the kitchen for the larger apartment and the master bedroom was the living room of that apartment. The bedroom is what is our guest room. The second apartment was a studio with small kitchenette, bath, and bedroom.

Joseph Sevcik is a lawyer and now a judge in these here parts. He and his wife Lisa purchased Lot 5, Block 2 (920 Washington) from the Lebeda children in 1999. They converted this house back to a single family dwelling and made significant updates and improvements. They never lived here. In town they have taken on a couple of conversion projects to restore grand old homes to their former single-family glory.

A couple of tenured history professors at UNI first owned the single family conversion. They bought the house in Lot 5, Block 2 in 2001 from the Sevcik's and sold it to little old me in 2013.

I love this house, but it's shy a bedroom and I can see that though I may try to deny the inevitable aging we all do, I may need less stairs in the future. I will miss this old girl, my walks through the delightful neighborhood filled with good neighbors with my dogs each day, and the large, ancient maples that provide shade from the relentless heat of summer.

I'm sure Robert Speers would have no idea that Cedar Falls would remain what is has always been, a lovely university town with good people who would appreciate to this day the work he did to lay out his little part of the city.

Roy Brownlee, A Victim of the Philippine Insurrection

American Infantry Soldiers in Philippines

Daughter of Henry Smull and first wife Elizabeth Royer, Abigail Smull, married her husband, Lorenzo Brownlee, while living in her native Centre County, Pennsylvania. They resided in Clinton County at the 1850 Census and sometime around 1851, they came to Stephenson County, where many of Abbie's father's brother Peter's relatives had come years before.

The Brownlee's took the long overland journey by covered wagon and upon their arrival, Lorenzo set up business as a shoemaker, which he followed for many years.

The couple had six children: Mary Jane, Sarah Elizabeth, Harrison, Mattie, and William.

Harrison was born 18 Oct 1848 in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania. He married Carrie Morton and they had four children; three sons and a daughter. Carrie was born 12 Sep 1856 in Clinton County, Pennsylvania.

Their oldest son Roy Arthur was born 10 Aug 1876 in Stephenson County. He joined the Army and served in the Coastal Artillery in Washington state and then was shipped to the Philippines during the Philippine Insurrection which had started in 1899, in 1900 as part of Co C, 34th Illinois Infantry Regiment. Not long after his arrival, his family received word that he had died, but this report turned out to be false. In fact, he had not been shot at all, but was gravely ill. This report was partially credited to gossip as bits of information were known and passed along with more, incorrect information.

After spending months in the hospital there, he was medically discharged. Doctors could not figure out what was causing the painful problem with...his ear. On his return to the US, he stopped at an Army hospital in California in hopes the doctors there could figure out what was causing the painful discharge that seemed to have started during a period of severe fever while in the tropical environs of the Philippines.

His situation did not improve and he spent most of the remainder of his life in and out of Disabled Volunteer Soldier homes in Milwaukee and Ohio. Somewhere in there, he married, but to whom is not known. It's not believed he had any children. The 1940 census had him still alive, married, but living alone as a boarder in Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois and that is the last trace of him.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Jacob Smull Family: Uncle Billy Klise & Anna Elizabeth Bechtol

JACOB SMULL > REBECCA SMULL m Solomon Bechtol > Anna Elizabeth Bechtol m William
Uncle Billy Klise

Jacob Smull, Rebecca's father, was one of the original four Brothers Smull of Brush Valley. Rebecca Smull was born in 1827 in Rebersburg, Centre County, Pennsylvania. She married Solomon Bechtol and they eventually relocated to the Lock Haven area when Anna Elizabeth was a young girl. Anna was born 18 Oct 1863 in Rebersburg.

The family belonged to St John's Lutheran Church. Anna would be the church organist when she grew up and hold that job for 50 years. On 21 Oct 1880, she married William "Uncle Billy" Klise in Bellefonte, Centre County. The couple resided for many years in the 300 block of E Bald St. Klise later lived over his tailor shop at 231 E Main St in Lock Haven.

Uncle Billy was a tailor in Lock Haven and stayed in business for over 60 years. Billy was born in Northumberland County on 04 Feb 1854 and came to Lock Haven when he was one year old. His father was one of about 100 men who came to Lock Haven to work in the burgeoning lumber business.

Klise recalled  the early days of the town. When the town began, there were relatively few businesses in town and most of the town was concentrated between Mill and Henderson Streets. The business section was along Water St. The building next to what is now his tailor shop, the Irvin Hotel, was originally built by William Morehead, for a courthouse, but the founder of Lock Haven, Jerry Church, donated three lots in the First Ward for the courthouse. Morehead turned his building into the Manslon House hotel in about 1838. It wasn't until the Civil War that the business district shifted from Water Street to Main Street. This was due in large part to a great fire that burned all the buildings on Grove St between Main and Water and all of those on Water between Grove and the Canal.

Irvin Hotel, Lock Haven
Billy learned the tailoring business through an apprenticeship  starting once he had had enough of school. In 1869, he established himself in the business. When he started in the business, there were only 31 stars on the flag. His first shop was in the Opera House building which later housed the YMCA, Mason's drug store, and several other businesses.He was also one of the first in the city to get a telephone.

Billy formed the "Klise Klub" - made up of friends and comrades who enjoyed friendship over sweet cider while hanging about in the barn behind the tailor shop.

The couple had no children. Anna died after a long illness at age 64 on 15 Oct 1926.

Main St Lock Haven, Looking West
The days of ready to wear would eventually lead to the demise of many tailor shops, but Billy Klise was able to maintain his business with only custom made suits for its entire life. He finally retired at the age of 78.He made his rounds each day of his retirement, which almost always included a visit to the Western Union Telegraph Office and the "lobby Senate" at the Irvin Hotel.  Every day, after lunch, he went to Sam Brickley's ice cream shop for a scoop of ice cream. Then, he'd return to his shop to visit with those who had stopped by.

On the event of Billy's 90th birthday, the Lock Haven Express gave Billy a lifetime free subscription for his loyalty in reading the paper every days since the paper's inception in 1882. He also asserted, "I'd like to go through it all again. I had a grand life." His nephew and wife resided with him and cared for him at the end of his life in his apartment over the shop.

Billy continued to his active retirement until he injured his hand in a fall the summer of 1945 which eventually got gangrenous. The infection killed him 21 Nov 1945. As his wife had, Billy died in Lock Haven.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Family Secrets Revealed: Verlie Smith Michaelsen Linsey

"Last night, one of my new cousins said something to the effect that shining light on family secrets frees us all from the tyranny of the pain those secrets can bring. A lot of wisdom there!" Me, 2017

In late 1937, life changed for one family in a way that would greatly impact them for a lifetime. Verlie Smith's marriage to her husband Ted Michaelsen, fell apart and she left to save herself. Alone. Without her children, because how would she support and feed them in the middle of the depression, her without a job? What happened next can be learned about here.
Click to increase size

I am the grandchild of the purple set of children of Verlie Smith. I had contact with three of the children in orange of Verlie's first marriage throughout my life, but I never met nor did any of we "purples" get to meet our aunt Judy Lou, who was adopted outside of the family. She maintained some contact with her full siblings, but not a lot and as reported, did not speak often about her first family.

This past week, two of my cousins and I got to meet two of Judy Lou's three daughters. They had just recently discovered we existed and we they. They have a lot of blanks to fill in because in all of this, no one really ever talked about it. My dad reportedly did not even know he had another sister until he had to get his birth certificate to join the Army, which reflected an additional birth to his mother. 

After my Grandma Verlie died, I wrote to Judy Lou, extending a hand, but was not met with a response. I know that we all respected her desire to have nothing to do with the family, though we all regretted knowing there was someone out there we'd never get to know. We heard for the first time that our grandma asked for Judy Lou to come see her as she was dying and after much soul-searching, did. 

It had to be really hard for Judy's daughters to meet with us - a mixture of pleasure and pain and a sense of being overwhelmed by "What could have been," and "What if they are crazy and bad for us?"

I was grateful to have met them and look forward to them joining us at our third annual revival reunion (we restarted reunions a couple years back after a long period of not having any) this fall and meeting our third first cousin who lives out of state. We have a good little family, if a bit convoluted in connection in time and space. I admire all of my other cousins and it looks like I'll have three more to enjoy moving forward.

Robert Smith & Flora Hinmon


Elizabeth Monteith Smith
Elizabeth Monteith was one of three of Edward Boyd Monteith's girls who married Smith's during this era. Jacob Smith and Elizabeth Monteith had three children: James Edward, Robert Alexander and Agnes.

Robert Alexannder Smith was born 04 Jun 1869 in Bremer County. He married Flora Hinmon on 01 Jan 1890 in Bremer County. Flora was born in July 1873 in Le Grand, Marshall County, Iowa. Her parents were George and Delilah Fuller Hinmon. Flora's sister Mary Elizabeth "Polly" married Andrew Jackson Surber, of whom I wrote previously. Flora's brother Alfred would marry Robert's sister Agnes as well!

Robert lived five years in Aberdeen, South Dakota, then primarily in Plainfield, until the couple moved permanently to Waterloo in 1916. While in Plainfield, he worked as a section man for the Illinois Central Railroad.

Rath Packing, Waterloo
Rath Packing Co. was a highly successful packing plant that was started in the mid-1800s in
Dubuque, Iowa. When the small plant burned down, the City of Waterloo lured the Rath's to Waterloo, where an operation was built and operated successfully until the 1960s/1970s, when packing plants experienced struggles. By the 1980s the situation was dire and the company became employee-owned. Finally, it collapsed completely in the mid-1980s. Robert spent 23 years working for Rath, as did  many of the citizens of Waterloo, as Rath was one of its major employers.

The couple had three children: Charles Henry, Florence Elizabeth, and Lucile D.

Back row: Charles on Left standing
Front row: Florence Smith, below teacher in bow tie, on left
Plainfield HS 1909
Robert died in Waterloo 17 Aug 1942 in Waterloo. His wife died of complications of a stroke on 07 Dec 1958, also in Waterloo.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Jacob Smull Family: Jacob & Elizabeth Smull Burkert


Elizabeth was one of the older children of Jacob Smull, one of the four Brothers Smull of Brush
Valley. Jacob is the biggest question mark of the four brothers so far in my research. So far, I've located five children of the marriage of Jacob Smull and Margareth Brodt.

Elizabeth was born in 1822 in Miles, Centre County, Pennsylvania. At some point, she married Jacob Burkert, a native of Montgomery County. He was born 27 Jul 1816.

Jacob was a cabinetmaker by trade. He lived in Berks County prior to coming to Centre County. Jacob was an orderly sergeant for the Brush Valley Guards, which organized in 1838 and remained active until the beginning of the Civl War. It "was the first volunteer company in the valley that was composed chiefly of her own citizens." After disbanding, many of the members joined the Army during the War of the Rebellion. Citizens typically served seven years. Jacob served during the 1840s. He also later served as a justice of the peace for ten years.

The Burkerts had 11 children: George (died in the Civil War in 1861; served as a musician; died at camp with the Bellefonte Invincibles at Carlisle, PA), Rev Cyrus J., Effinger, Cephas Milton, John Clark, Emma Jane, Dr. Edwin F, Charles, and Clayton Smull Burkert (two died as infants),  I'll talk about a couple of the kids here:

Rev Cyrus Jacob Burkert was born in Rebersburg, 07 Jul 1842 and died in Dayton, Ohio, 12 Nov 1905. He attended school in Rebersburg (German instruction), read under a Lutheran minister, and later followed his uncle Rev CJ Burkert, a member of the Allegheny Conference, and he accompanied him on his pastoral administrations and assisted in Sabbath services. Later, he spent a little time at a Lutheran Theological Seminary at Selings Grove, Pa. That ended when he followed his uncle to Indiana. He then came to Ohio where he planned to enter the Union Biblical Seminary, but the needs of the elders caused that opportunity to slip away.In 1862, he was teaching school in East Germantown, Indiana and entered Hartsville University, operated by the United Brethren, but had to leave to serve in the military on 90-day basis. He joined the 54th Indiana Volunteers at Cambridge City on June 3, 1862 and was mustered in as a Sergeant June 4, 1862. and was mustered out in the fall.

In 1867, he married Anna Boughner and they had two sons: George and William. He died at the age of  62 in Ohio, never a highly educated master of religion, but one devout and successful in the eyes of his parishioners.
Dayton State Hospital
Dr. Edwin F Burkert, MD was born 27 Feb 1856, in Centre County. He attended local school and
then the Normal School. He taught two terms in Pennsylvania, then moved to Germantown, Ohio, where he attended Twin Valley College and Southwestern Ohio Normal. He taught for six years. During the last three years at school, he studied medicine and eventually attended Ohio Medical College of Cincinnati, where he graduated with the Class of 1884. He first practiced in Trenton, Ohio, then moved on to Collinville for three years. Then, he came to Dayton in 1887, and established his practice there.

He married Anna M Carney, daughter of AD Carney, a citizen of Sunbury, Delaware County, Ohio. The couple had three children. Members of the United Brethren Curch, Edwin died 21 Sep 1910 of acute delusional insanity at the age of 53 at the Dayton State Hospital. Anna died 16 Mar 1937 in Jefferson County, Ohio.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Jacob Marean and Mary Bolender

Jacob Marean & Mary Bolender; Anna,
John (back), William, Edith (front)


Two Bolender brothers, Reuben John "John" and Michael, headed west from Snyder County, Pennsylvania in 1840 and would intertwine with northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin families for generations to come.

I recently talked about John's son Levi, who married Sarah Haas, sister of Valentine M Haas, who married WL Cooper's daughter Hannah Cooper. Today, I'm talking about John Bolender's brother, Michael, who had a daughter, Mary, who would marry Jacob Marean, the brother of Anna Christina Marean Lauck, whose son Edward Dietz Lauck married the daughter of Matilda Smull, yet another of my relatives. But try to draw that out - it's just crazy! Suffice it to say, the Bolenders of Pennsylvania and No Illinois/So Wisconsin are part of the great story of our family.

Michael Bolender married Catherine Decker and the couple had at least 12 children; eighth in line was Mary. She was born 24 Mar 1844 on Oneco Township, Stephenson County. She married Jacob Marean, son of Aesebeus Marean in about 1868 in Illinois. Michael died 08 Jun 1882 in Stephenson County and Catherine died 03 Jun 1878.

Aesebeus' father Jacob Marean, came from Germany, settling in Pennsylvania. Aesebeus married Elizabeth Miller in May 1830 in Schuykill, Pennsylvania. Aesebeus was a plasterer by trade and also farmed in Juniata County. In 1847, after they sold the farm at a good price, he, his wife, and seven children moved west to Illinois by canal to the Ohio River, and then overland to Jo Daviess County, Illinois. A team brought their things east to Buckeye Township. Aesebeus purchased 120 acres at $3.50 per acre.The family cared for the farm while Aesebeus plied his plasterer's trade. At his death in 1874, they had acquired a total of 154 acres. His wife Elizabeth died in 1875.

Jacob Marean, Civil War
Jacob was born 17 Aug 1838 in Juniata County, Pennsylvania. Jacob attended school in winter and worked the farm in the summer. At age 22, Jacob enlisted in the Army during the Civil War, when he joined Company A, 11th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He participated at the battle of Ft Donelson, Pittsburg Landing, and the battle of Vicksburg. He later served in Co B, 8th Illinois Infantry, where he served until the end of the war.

Jacob and his wife Mary resided in Buckeye Township. He operated his father's farm until 1870 and then crossed the Mississippi and bought a tract of land in Pike County, Missouri. They lived there for seven years before returning to the Orangeville area in Stephenson County, where they spent the remainder of their lives. Jacob built a beautiful new home on the old property and a large barn.

The couple were Lutherans. They had four children; two boys and two girls. He was active in town affairs and considered a solid citizen. Unfortunately, his entire life change in a moment on the morning of 07 Oct 1906. What started as a normal day ended up being the last day of his life. While on the way back from the stock market with his stock wagon and team, his horses were spooked and did a runaway. In the ensuing chaos, Jacob got his heels caught in the spokes of one of the wheels and ended up being dragged for over a mile, killing him before the horses could be slowed. The corner's inquest declared it an accidental death.

Mary lived for another 20 years, until 05 Sep 1926.