Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Thomas Munson & The Thomas Munson Foundation

My great-great grandmother Mary Jane Munson Smith was part of an absolutely gigantic family of

Munson's signature of the
founders of New Haven is
fifth down on the left

Munsons that started with Capt Thomas Munson, the first emigrant. Munson came originally from Rattlesden, England and became one of the founders of New Haven, Connecticut.


From the Thomas Munson Foundation website

"The first appearance of Thomas Munson (1612-1685) in America is recorded in Hartford, Connecticut in 1637 as a member of the militia unit engaged in the Pequot Indian War. He signed the Fundamental Agreement at New Haven Colony (dated 1639) prior to April 1640 and established his permanent home. His life and actions are well documented in The Munson Record, Volume I and the Connecticut colony records.

The evidence is persuasive that the Thomas Munson who was recorded as being baptized in St. Nicholas Church in Rattlesden, County Suffolk, England on September 13, 1612, was the same man who later distinguished himself in the public affairs of colonial New Haven. The principal tie is the age listed on his gravestone… aged 73 years, which links well with the baptismal record.

The Church records document that the Thomas Munson of Rattlesden was the son of John and Elizabeth Munson. John was baptized 14 October 1571 and was buried 26 November 1650. Elizabeth was buried 3 January 1634/5. John was the son of Richard and Margery (Barnes) Munson. Richard was buried at Rattlesden on 3 December 1590, while Margery was buried there 7 February 1622/3. (The Munson Family of County Suffolk, England, and New Haven, Connecticut, Milton Rubincam, The American Genealogist, January 1941.) Thomas Munson of Hartford and New Haven married Joanna. This marriage produced 3
children (generation 2): Elizabeth, Samuel, and Hannah. Generation 2 produced 19 generation 3 descendants (grandchildren of Thomas and Joanna); Generation 3 produced 66 great-grandchildren of Thomas and Joanna (generation 4).

From the beginning of TMF, a “Clan-based” structure was recognized. Originally, each TMF Clan was understood to consist of all identified linear descendants of Thomas and Joanna through male lines; as Clan Head was the great-grandson in that line; the Clan bore his Name. 17 such Clans were recognized. Obviously, many lines from Thomas and Joanna were overlooked in this structure: the descendants of Elizabeth (generation 2) and Hannah (generation 2) as well as all the female lines in later generations. In 2008, TMF broadened the definitions to recognize descendancy traced through all the great-grandchildren of Thomas and Joanna. Thus were identified as many as 43 potential new Clans. To date, descendants in 7 of these have been located and their new clans have been activated. Listed on this website is the current list of 24 Clans."

The early Munson's lived in New Haven. Here's a neat image of where the early Munson's lived in town:


I am from Clan William. I have purchased the first two volumes of The Thomas Munson Genealogy and though Clan William is completely left out of Vol II, enough information was available in Vol I to help keep my efforts going. Clan William seems to have a lot of people who moved West early on, which could account for the genealogy not being able to keep up with their movements while Vol II was being prepared. I'm awaiting Vols III-V to see where I've gotten it right/wrong/or where the genealogy document needs some help. 

There are well over a million living descendants of Thomas Munson living in the US today. Wow! 



Leland Barr and World War II

SMITH, Jacob > SMITH, William Custer > SMITH, Edwin > Smith, Vivan and Leland Barr

Leland Barr was the husband of my great aunt Vivian. I had warm feelings for her. She and Leland never had any kids, but Vivian was very fond of all of  us as well. He was born in 02 Nov 1906 in Shell Rock, Iowa. 

Vivian visit Leland before he left
for Europe
Uncle Leland was very quiet. Didn't see him smile a lot and can't recall anytime where he was laughing and joking, but he was a nice enough guy. He served in World War 2 and his service record isn't entirely clear, but this is from an earlier post:

Vivian met a young man from Shell Rock, Leland Barr, son of  William Barr and Marie Hufstader. In 1938, they married and she and Leland set up housekeeping in Plainfield. He made his living doing day labor. In April 1943, they moved to Waterloo where he had secured employment with Rath Packing Company, a major employer with good pay and benefits. Then, in August, Leland was drafted. He was and sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for basic and advanced training in October.

After a 10-day furlough, he was sent to England and spent the next two years attached to the 49th Combat Engineers serving in England, France, and Belgium. While overseas, he fell into a mine shaft and was seriously injured; his legs were never the same. After the war, he was discharged as a private in December, 1945, returning to Waterloo and started work at Hartman Locker. He was rehired by Rath in early 1947, and according to Evelyn’s daughter Cheryl, he had a job  operating the large swing doors in the plant which wouldn’t tax him too much due to his war injuries. He remained with Rath until retirement.

The other day, I spoke with my cousin Tony, who had found a box of Vivian's things that had been in the care of my Uncle Harold who recently passed away. Yesterday, I went through the box and found a minor treasure of things from Uncle Leland's service.

Good Conduct Medal, WWII

These are not all identified, but the one on the bar is the Victory Medal and the one on the right is a campaign medal (which I believe is not identical, but similar to the one on top with three clusters. The one on the bottom looks like the Bronze Star ribbon, but there is absolutely no indication Leland received such an award.


This photo includes his death certificate. He was hospitalized and died on one of my leaves and I attended his funeral in 1979. He is buried in Waterloo, Iowa. There is a certificate of service which he had framed, his death certificate, a letter from the War Department regarding his service, a copy of his basic training book from Ft Leonard Wood, MO (where I would attend basic training 35 years later), and finally, a Nazi Iron Cross - source unknown.

The Iron Cross was worn by Nazi soldiers during WWII
There is a swastika and "1939" raised on the cross.

I'm left with more questions. Why does he have a bronze star ribbon? How did he get the Iron Cross? What were his experiences in Europe? There is no one left to ask.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Jacob Smith: Setting the Record Straight

Old Fennimore: Sixty years after the Jacob Smith Family Arrived

This is my response to Ancestry Family Trees that have Jacob Smith dying in May of 1858 in
Fennimore, Grant County, Wisconsin.
It is my belief that this is wrong.

Click to enlarge

Jacob Smith is my 3GG. It is believed he was born in 1798 in New Jersey or New York (no confirming documents have been discovered) and also that his father was James Smith (reportedly of New Jersey), who later moved to Ohio. There are available records of the existence of both James and Jacob in Ohio. 

Jacob married Mary Catherine "Cathie" Randolph at an unknown location and date. In 1820, Jacob was living in Richland, Belmont, Ohio and in 1840 he was in Smithfield, Jefferson, Ohio. Birth records of his children also detail that the Smith's lived in Guernsey, Ohio (1822) and Harrison County (1826 until at least 1831) before ending up in Jefferson County.

In 1846, Jacob's oldest son James and his wife had their third child, John Richard, in Grant County, Wisconsin; their previous child, Alexander, was born in Jefferson County, Ohio in 1845. So, we can presume, since they all went together, that they arrived in Wisconsin in late 1845 or early 1846. Jacob and children are all reflected in the 1850 census in Grant County.

Oddly enough, there was a second Jacob Smith living in the Fennimore area at the same time my Jacob Smith lived there. It is his death date that is attributed in error to our Jacob Smith. 

This was easily disproved through two documents: The obituary of the "other" Jacob Smith and the probate documents of the same "other" Jacob Smith.

First, the obituary: 

"Mr. SMITH was born in Wayne county, Penn., March 19, 1829, son of Jacob and Sophia (WHEELER) SMITH. His father was born east of the Green Mountains, in Vermont, in 1802, and his grandfather was a clergyman of the Methodist Church, and lived in New England al his life. Jacob SMITH was the youngest son in a family of twelve children, six sons and six daughters, all of whom were given Bible names, as was the fashion of the times. The sons were called Simeon, Reuben, Daniel, Abram, Isaac and Jacob. The names of the daughters cannot now be obtained, as that generation has passed from earth. In 1824 Jacob SMITH married Sophia WHEELER, who was born in Massachusetts, her birth occurring the same year as her husband's. She as a daughter of Simeon and Polly (NOBLE) WHEELER. Her mother was a daughter of Capt. Charles NOBLE, a Revolutionary soldier, who died before the close of the Revolution, from disease contracted in the service. Melford Pratt SMITH therefore is a great-grandson of a Revolutionary soldier. The NOBLE family was long prominent in Massachusetts. Four brothers came from England in early Colonial times, and from them are descended the greater part of the NOBLES in the United States.

In 1826 Jacob SMITH, with his wife and only child, removed to Wayne county, Penn., and in 1853 the parents, with their family, then consisting of six children, came to Grant county, Wis., and settled on a farm in the town of Fennimore. Within six years after their arrival five of the family had passed away. The parents and three of their children, Algernon and Celestial and Cecilia (twins), had succumbed to sickness, and gone on "to join the great majority," The children reached maturity before they died. The mother's death occurred in 1857, and the father's the following year. There are now living of this family, Esther (the wife of O.N. SMITH, of Eau Claire, Wis.), Melford P., and Alfica (of Iowa)."

Click to enlarge
Last Will & Testament of the "Other" Jacob Smith

Click to enlarge

In the end, we are put in a place that the best we can narrow down my Jacob Smith's death date to between the census of 1850 to the census of 1860, where in 1860 his wife is found living with his mentally disabled son and spinster daughter in the home of their son William Custer Smith in Fremont Township, Butler County, Iowa. 

We may never know what exactly became of Jacob, but there is a high likelihood he did not ever come to Iowa with several other members of the family, but died in Grant County.

 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Smith Family: Lydia Hinmon was Unlucky in Love

Lydia Hinmon was connected to the Smith/Smull/Munson families by marriage in multiple ways. Every time I read about her, I can't help but feel she was super unlucky with love. Her parents were George Hinmon and Anna Lewis, who originally hailed from New York State and later Erie, Pennsylvania, and then pioneered to Jasper County, Iowa. The two children I was able to locate were George Richard Hinmon (1833-1914) and Lydia (abt. 1839-bef. 1885). George would settle in the Bremer/Chickasaw, Iowa County area and several of his children would intermix with ours.

While still in Concord, Erie, Pennsylvania, Lydia married William C Stuck (05 Aug 1855).  The young couple lived in Albion in Dane County, Wisconsin. In 1860, their only child, Llewellyn Jermiah Stuck was born. He would live in Floyd County, Iowa for a time as an adult, but eventually he and his wife Mary Campbell would live in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. They had many children.

William Stuck fought with the Wisconsin 5th Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. He began his service in late May of 1861 and lasted until the Second Battle of Rappahannock Station in Virginia which began 07 Nov 1863. He was injured in battle and died in a Washington DC hospital.

"Pressured by Washington to make another attack on General Robert E. Lee’s army in northern Virginia, and perhaps enjoying the success of his partial victory over Lee at Bristoe Station three weeks earlier, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade ordered an assault against Lee’s infantry along the Rappahannock River on November 7th, 1863. A single pontoon bridge at Rappahannock Station was the only connection between Lee's army and the northern bank of the river. The bridge was protected by a bridgehead on the north bank consisting of redoubts and trenches. Confederate batteries posted on hills south of the river gave additional strength to the position. As Lee anticipated, Meade divided his forces, ordering Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick to the bridgehead and positioning Maj. Gen. William H. French five miles downstream to engage a Confederate line near Kelly’s Ford. To counter this move, Lee shifted a force under Maj. Gen. Robert Rodes to Kelly’s Ford, where they were overwhelmed by French. At Rappahannock Station, Sedgwick’s men skirmished with Maj. Gen. Jubal Early’s Confederates before launching a brutal nighttime bayonet attack. The Federals overran Early’s bridgehead taking more than 1,600 prisoners. Defeated, Lee retreated into Orange County south of the Rapidan River while the Army of the Potomac occupied the vicinity of Brandy Station and Culpeper County. Later in November, before the winter weather ended military campaign season, Meade would attempt one more offensive against Lee at Mine Run." Battlefields.org
Second Battle of Rappahannock Station
(click on image to increase size)

In 1866, she married George Harshman in Jasper County, Iowa. George was a widower with two young sons. The marriage didn't last though. George moved on to Nebraska and died in Scottsbluff in 1898.

The next chapter in Lydia's life was her marriage to widower Francis "Frank" Doole. Doole had a long marriage with Martha Shaw, but she died in 1879. They had five children. Lydia married him the following year in 1880 in Floyd County. Frank, by all accounts was cantankerous and difficult. Some of his shenanigans included plowing up the tombstone the children had placed for their mother and being arrested for running a "Blind Pig. What's a blind pig? In the Midwest, Blind Pigs started in the 1880s and were quite a problem, according to the anti-alcohol crowd. It got its name because some wily proprietor would sell tickets to a back room to see a "blind pig," and the ticket price included a drink." 

The last time Lydia is seen in records is in the 1885 Iowa State Census, when she lived with Frank and his son William. Then, she disappears. Dead? Did she divorce him and move to Wisconsin to be with her son? We don't know. Doole married my great-great aunt Sarah Smith, a lifelong spinster in 1887. She divorced Doole before their deaths.

Hoping to find someone in the Doole or Stuck families who might have the answer.  

Monday, November 23, 2020

Clan William: Harry K. Newburn, University President

Capt Thomas Munson > Samuel Munson > Samuel James Munson > William Munson > Samuel II Munson > Calvin Munson > Susanna Munson > Jacob Newburn > Charles R Newburn > Harry K Newburn

Samuel was the father of my 4GG, Freeman Munson, Calvin was Freeman's oldest brother.

Harry Kenneth Newburn was the middle son of three boys of Charles R Newburn and his wife Mary Alice Bayless. He was born Jan 1, 1906 in Cuba, Fulton County, Illinois. He married Wandaleigh "Lee" Brady on Jun 16, 1928 in Burlington, Iowa.

Harry attended university at Western Illinois University, graduating in 1929. He got both his master's and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, finally completing his formal education in 1933. 

His first jobs were in K-12 education, teaching high school and serving as both principal and superintendent in Iowa and Illinois before accepting a position as dean of the liberal arts college at the University of Iowa in 1941. 

In 1945, he accepted a position as the president of University of Oregon, where he made great strides in improving the university and elevating its position in the University system. The U of O website describes his term as 8th university president as:

"When Harry K. Newburn became the eighth UO president, he faced a rapidly growing enrollment on an under-staffed and under-built campus. Student housing was inadequate to meet the 81 percent enrollment increase from 1945 to 1946, and long-time faculty members were reaching retirement age. Convincing the legislature to allow salary increases, he enabled the UO to compete for and attract more highly qualified professors. The classroom, office, and housing shortages were met with a variety of responses, some temporary, such as Quonset huts used as classrooms, and others more permanent, such as the building of Emerald Hall and the establishment of single and married students housing. During President Newburn's tenure, the number of graduate degrees earned also increased dramatically." ~ University of Oregon  

Newburn had a good, solid career at U of O. I found this little vignette about his sense of humor (very academic, that humor): 

"The university's eighth president, Harry K. Newburn, was not without a sense of humor. In a series of letters sent during Oct. 1949, professor Eldon Johnson submitted to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts an emergency request for the creation of the class "Pipe Smoking." President Newburn responded that while the course "passes through all sixteen committees," he could not submit the request for the course to the State Board of Higher Education. He did, however, recommend the book reading list be made available in the browsing library, and that there should be lectures on the subject." ~ Oregon.edu

He held the position at Oregon until 1953, when he resigned to take a position as president with the Ford Foundation's Educational Television Foundation and taught at Arizona State University. 

In 1959, Harry took a position as president of the Montana University. This was his most challenging and clearly most frustrating professional challenge to date. Montana University, formerly known as Montana State University, had many presidents prior to Newburn coming on board. Tenures were relatively short. Newburn was known for wanting to ensure the university could attract brilliant teaching minds and wanted the salaries that would attract those types of educators. The Board of Regents did not feel that was a priority. When Newburn resigned in 1963, Time Magazine described MU as a "graveyard of presidents." Though Newburn did not publicly state why he departed, it was widely believe his growing frustration with the Regents on a number of important issues and financial support were to blame.

Off he went in 1963 to his new position as professor of education and as director of the ASU Center for Higher Education. He took the position as president of Cleveland State University from 1965-1966, returning to ASU as Dean of the College of Education and in 1969, he became president of ASU until 1971. Harry's last position was as president of Cleveland State University from 1971-1973. In 1973, he retired to his home in Arizona.

Harry had a heart attack in 1974 and was taken to Desert Samaritan Hospital, where he died four days later, on Aug 25, 1974. He was 68.

As I was reading about Harry, I noted how important the role of the wife of the president plays in the career of the president (during that time, only men were named president, so no politically incorrect terminology is intended). Wanda was a great partner and did all the right things as she raised her own three children and provided important support to Harry. I found this great article about their arrival to University of Oregon and the coverage she herself received. 





Sunday, November 8, 2020

Clan William: Clifford Benjamin Paul, Chauffeur to Katherine Butterworth

Capt Thomas Munson > Samuel Munson > Samuel James Munson > William Munson > Samuel II Munson > Calvin Munson > Susanna Munson > Calvin Munson Newburn > Anna Newburn > Clifford Benjamin Paul

Traveling the Calvin Munson route. He was brother to my 4GG, Freeman Munson. Several generations down, lies Clifford Benjamin Paul, noted photographer and chauffeur to Katherine Butterworth, daughter of Charles Deere, son of John Deere. Yes, John Deere, of John Deere Tractor Co.

Clifford was born 14 Feb 1892 in Canton, Illinois. He married Hulda Holm on 17 Jul 1916 in Moline, Illinois, where they resided. They had two children, Ethel Paul Armstrong and Maj Robert Lorin Paul. 

Clifford was a noted photographer, who participated heavily in the art world in Moline and exhibited and sold his works for decades. 

Now, we switch gears to John Deere, a young man who was struggling in his native Vermont, and relocated in 1836 to Illinois to find his way. His blacksmithing skills were much needed and he thrived. According to John Deere history, the settlers in Illinois found "breaking" land an arduous task. He developed a new kind of plow capable of the tough task. He was able to make 100 plows a year by 1841, and in 1843, he partnered with a fellow to produce more plows. That partnership ended in 1848 and that's when he relocated to Moline, Illinois for its water, coal and cheaper transportation. A legend was born as were several new tools for agriculture.

His son Charles Deere took over the operations of the family business and took over as President and Chairman after John Deere's death. Charles and his wife had two daughters, Katherine and Anna. 

Charles built homes for both and both were located on Millionaire's Row. Anna went on to marry William Wiman, son of a successful NYC business man and who was in his own right, quite a catch. He was formerly an electrical engineer who was previously an apprentice to Thomas Edison and later worked for John Deere Co. Their son Charles would later become president of John Deere and son Dwight Deere Wiman would become a silent movie actor, playwright, and theater producer.

Katherine married William Butterworth, son of a former US Congressman, and an attorney and businessman. Butterworth would become President of John Deere after the death of Katherine's father, Charles. They would have no children, but were philanthropic to their community. Under Butterworth's watch, the business expanded with the purchase of The Waterloo Gasoline Engine Works, which included it's Waterloo Boy Tractor in 1918. This greatly expanded Deere's business and contributed to the growth and prosperity of Waterloo, Iowa (I live in Cedar Falls, an adjoining town - and while growing up just about everybody's dad I knew either worked for Deere or worked for a company that did something for Deere).

The couples would spend their winters in Santa Barbara, California, but return to Illinois for the summers. The Butterworth home in Santa Barbara is considered one of the most beautiful of the old homes still in existence there. Personal employees would make the trek with them each season. Among those was Clifford Paul. 

Hillcrest, the Butterworth Residence

The Butterworths were well-known for taking good care of their servants. The former residence is now an arts and education center. 

The servant's entrance at Hillcrest

For 39 years, his "day job" was as chauffeur to Katherine Deere Butterworth. William Butterworth died in 1936.  She left an estate of over $6 million at her death in 1953.

Paul retired after Katherine's death and lived his last years in Santa Barbara, dying there 12 May 1960.

Hillcrest's carriage house - once home to the Butterworth's horse and carriages and later
home to its automobiles. It is now the education building at the Butterworth Center


Clifford Paul's obituary:




Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Clan William: Charles Munson's Civil War Death

Don't believe everything you read; even on occasion, the Munson Family Record. That's what I learned today.

I'm still following the trail of my "outer" Munson cousins - the families of the brothers and sisters of my 4th great grandfather, Freeman Munson, born in Connecticut, died in Trumbull County, Ohio.

Today's story is about young Charles Munson, born about 1836 in Trumbull County to Randil Munson and Lucinda Loveless. Randil is the twin of Rilman Munson, sons of Calvin Munson, 4GG Freeman's oldest brother.

Capt Thomas Munson > Samuel Munson > Samuel James Munson > William Munson > Samuel II Munson > Calvin Munson > Randil Munson > Charles Munson

The children of Randil were of an age to participate in the Civil War. Charles appears to be fourth child of six. He married Susan Fenstermaker in 1861 (Charles' younger brother Abner married Susan's sister, Sarah). Not much is known about him until he joined up with the 2nd Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

Capt Wm Quantrill

Unlike many Civil War units, the 2nd Regiment, Company D, spent much of its time in 1862-1864 serving on the frontier of Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri with forays east into Tennessee and elsewhere. And, unfortunately, this was a very dangerous place to serve. The unit would go on, a full year after the death of Charles Munson, to take heavy losses at the hands of Quantrill's Raiders along the Missouri/Kansas border.

William Quantrill, former schoolteacher turned guerilla fighter and hired gun for the Confederacy, had been an destructive and horrific presence in the territory for some time. Among his troops were the later historic robbers, the Younger and James Brothers, who would use the tactics they learned with Quantrill to their illicit robbery careers. 

This has nothing to do with the story of Charles Munson, however, despite what we learn from the Munson Family History. That reference reads: 

"Charles: b. i May 1836 ; m. 14 Sept. 1861 Susan Fenstermaker, now deceased ; no ch.; he was a cavalryman in the late War, losing his life in the service. " My brother Charles enlisted in August1862 at Bristolville, Trumbull Co., O., where he then lived, and was a private under Capt. Caldwell in Co. D, 2nd Ohio Cavalry. He served one year ; then died, August 1863, at Baxter Springs, Indian Terr. His regiment, under Col. Doubleday, was in several skirmishes." 

The mention of Baxter Springs would lead one to believe he may have died in the Baxter Springs Massacre, at the hands of Quantrill's Raiders.  But, this battle did not occur until October of 1863, long after Charles' death. So, we have a little mash-mash of bad memory published in the The Munson Record, Vol I. If he was in the Army for a year, that would mean he entered in 1861, not Aug 1862. Both the newspaper mention and the Roster of Ohio Soldiers and his obituary say he died not in 1863 and not at Baxter Springs.

Click to enlarge
Charles Munson Roster of Ohio Soldier Vol XI

In the Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Vol XI, Charles Munson's date of death is indicated as Aug 3, 1862. It also states he died near Spring River, Indian Territories. That is what is now northwest Arkansas. And, he died not in battle, but of "brain fever." Charles is no less heroic for dying of illness and not injury, as more people died of infection and illness in the Civil War than in battle. 

Of Charles Munson, there are two newspaper references after his death. 

Charles Munson Obit
Western Reserve Chronicle, Warren, OH, Oct 15, 1862

This one was on the occasion where the citizens of Bristol, Trumbull County, raised $500 in subscription to pay for a 10-foot tall monument honoring the deaths of Bristol's heroes. It was the first Civil War Monument of its kind in Ohio. The full article can be found on Charles' profile on my Ancestry.com tree. This is an abbreviated report of the monument.

Charles Munson: Civil War Monument, 1863
Bristol, Trumbull County, Ohio
Western Reserve Chronicle, Warren, Oh, Oct 21, 1863

Civil War Memorial 1861-1863 located in Bristolville, Ohio

Click to increase size. Charles Munson referenced bottom left.

 


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Clan William: The Mines of Platteville and Eddie Lee Dalen

Early Lead Mines of NW Illinois/SW Wisconsin


Many of my ancestors relocated to Southwest Wisconsin from places like Ohio (both the Munsons and the Smiths, where their combined story started in Grant County). There were many opportunities in the Driftless Area that included all of Southwest Wisconsin. The Driftless Area was marked by the more rugged terrain than that of its neighboring plain states. This area was bypassed by the last continental glacier eons ago.

This terrain also made it prime for mining. The existence of valuable lead was discovered before the White Man settled the area. In the 1820s, mining began from Galena, Illinois north up the Galena River into Wisconsin. Thousands of Cornish miners flocked the area to work the mines, something they had generations of experience with in their native Cornwall, England. As time went on, many of those miners moved on to new mines in Michigan and elsewhere. I mention this because I have a bevy of Cornish immigrants on my mom's side.  

The peak of production in this area ran until the 1850s, but continued on for decades more on a smaller scale. Many of those in the area farmed and mined part time. 

Platteville, the later home of Charles Dennis Dalen and his wife Lucy Jane Munson (also a descendant of my previous story's Randil Munson - son of Calvin, who was big brother to my 4th GG Freeman Munson). 

Charles & Lucy's children were born in the township of Lima in Grant County, just a hop and skip from nearby Platteville. Charles was a farmer with five children: Francis, Arlington "Arlie," Charles Bird, Eddie Lee, and Frederick Louis. 

Platteville had so many mines operating over the course of time, that the town's design was affected. The streets had to be designed and built to avoid mine pits, so the town's roads are notoriously not-straight. And, unlike many mining towns, when mining died out, Platteville continued to thrive due to the establishment of The Academy (1839-1866), which evolved into the Normal School. The Mining and Trade School took the space in Rountree Hall when the Normal School moved to a new location and later became the Wisconsin Institute of Technology. Both became part of the UW-Plattesville campus in later years. Because of the deep ties to engineering, Platteville continued to thrive to today, bringing with it engineering companies who liked having engineering students so close at hand.

Platteville Miners

To return to our story, in 1905, the Trego-Anthony Mines were still operating. The Anthony was located at the east end of the Trego Mine (both located near today's Platteville Country Club). The Anthony mine was owned by one company, the Trego Mine was owned by HF Trego from 1901-1905. "It had a gravity mill and the concentrates were 25% Zinc and 25% Iron. There were many shafts and one adit to provide access to the mine; the main northeast Trego shaft is 90-feet deep; the main Anthony shaft is 75-feet deep."5

Young Eddie Lee Dalen, who most often went by "Lee," began working at the Trego Mine in Platteville in early 1905. He had the job of dumping the cart of mined ore. Somehow, he got caught up with a descending cart and was dragged down the shaft, falling onto a descending cage, being dramatically grabbed by the leg by his boss, and smashing himself onto some timbers. The early report expected him to survive, but his injuries were too great and he died on August 27, 1905. He was 22.


1. Zinc Ore Mining References: https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/tp-026/#tid6

2. Platteville Mining Photo: http://www.miningartifacts.org/Wisconsin-Mines.html

3. History of Platteville: https://www.platteville.com/our-city/history-of-platteville

4. History of Platteville:  https://www.platteville.org/community/page/history#:~:text=The%20community%20of%20Platteville%20began,lode%2C%20in%20November%20of%201827.

5. History of Trego Mine: US Geological Survey Professional Paper, Issue 30

6. History of Platteville: https://catalog.uwplatt.edu/undergraduate/about-uwplatteville/history/

7. Mining Map of Illinois/Wisconsin: https://content.wisconsinhistory.org/digital/collection/tp/id/45908

Clan William: A Legacy of Tragedy

Capt Thomas Munson > Samuel Munson > Samuel James Munson > William Munson > Samuel II Munson > Calvin Munson > Randil Munson > Harlow B Munson > C Jenet Munson > Caroline Richey > Howard Clinton Bruce > Anthony Todd

I've been digging into the "outer" Munsons of Trumbull County, Ohio - the brothers and sisters of my 4th GG Freeman Munson. I'm working on Randil Munson now.  He was the son of Calvin, Freeman's older brother. 

Deep down in the tree, many generations later, Caroline "Carrie" Mirth Ritchey and her husband Robert Bruce. They adopted a boy they named Howard Clinton Bruce. Howard had, with his first wife, Helen Rose Tiernan, one daughter - Mary Ellen Bruce. Mary Ellen married a gent name William "Billy Jo" Wadsley. The marriage seems to have lasted just long enough to produce three sons: Anthony "Tony," Todd, and one child who is still living.

What struck me about this tragic story is the moment I read about young Todd's accidental and tragic death at age 9, and the cause, I knew there was going to be a trail of tears to follow. 

It appears that Mary Ellen was out of the house, leaving the two boys who were living with her, at home. Not an uncommon thing to do with boys of 12 and 9 when I was growing up. Unfortunately, the boys found a .22 rifle upstairs and young Tony accidentally discharged the weapon, killing his younger brother, Todd. It was ruled an accident. Like so many unnecessary accidents before.

What we understand about such things now, is they have a deep and lasting impact on everyone involved. Who knows if Tony got the psychological help he needed after this very traumatic event. What we can ascertain from the newspaper reports is he had a long history of substance abuse, had lost his license, continued to drink, had an accident that thankfully killed no one else, and died suddenly and alone still going the wrong way down the road, trying to escape his pain at the age of 30.

A mother had now lost two sons. But, then, she'd most likely lost them both that same day in 1971.





Thursday, August 20, 2020

Remembering Harold James Ripley, 1928-2020

WILLIAM CUSTER SMITH m Mary Ann Munson> EDWIN SMITH m Kate Smull > VERLIE SMITH m Ted Michaelsen > HAROLD RIPLEY

Click to enlarge


His early years were marred by terrible strife. The man himself defied the odds of his childhood and built a highly successful life. He had four children and raised two more who came from his second wife. He ended up with scads of grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. When his time came, he went out with a heavy sigh, in his sleep, at the age of 92 after a brief illness.

He was one of the hardest working people I ever met, was sharp as a whip, and did not suffer fools
Harold at the Orphanage (right)
Harold at the orphanage (right)
gladly. He had a keen insight and knew everyone in the Butler/Bremer County area from his long career in agriculture - either as a solo farmer or as senior manager for massive ag operations. He was also an entrepreneur, starting a Mad Hatter Muffler back in the 1970s among other business ventures. He was also a great storyteller. Because he was not a gossip by nature, it was tough to pull out details and dig deeper sometimes, but it was always going to be a fun ride if you were lucky enough to get this very stoic guy going on a tale to tell.

He was born the first child of Rasmus Theodore "Ted" Michaelsen, a 2nd generation Dane on March 15, 1928 in Plainfield, Iowa. His mother, my grandmother, Verlie Lynette Smith, like Ted, came from a large family. His lived in Cedar Falls, hers lived in Plainfield. 

Over the next years, three sisters would join him: Janis, two years younger, Dixie, four years younger, and baby Judy. The depression, now in full gear by 1936, had decimated the Michaelsen's ability to thrive. They were usually one step ahead of the sheriff who was looking to evict and the entire family had to be resourceful in finding ways to put food on the table. It didn't help that Ted liked to drink. Or had a tendency to be physically abusive to his wife.

Janis told me about one Christmas, when there was no money for gifts. Harold found an old cedar chest
Harold & Ellen (left)
with a leg missing. He fashioned a new leg for it and gave it to Janis and she kept it until her death. That year, she saved her pennies from selling eggs to buy each of the children a bar of soap.

Janis recalled to me that one day, they had all been sitting on the porch on a hot day. Verlie was nursing baby Judy. Ted hit Verlie and they both went flying. She also recalls that it was not long after that Verlie left. Without the kids. She had no job, no chance of a job, and no money.

Ted had the kids and the support of his sister Margaret. Margaret hadn't been able to reach Ted after several days, so she went up to where they were and found the children alone. Ted had taken a job in a CCC camp as a cook, and put Harold, the 9-year-old, in charge. Janis, age 7, cooked whatever they had and cared for baby Judy. She recalled that she knew she needed to wash the diapers, but no one had ever told her she needed to rinse them out. Baby Judy ended up with a serious diaper rash by the time Margaret made her way to them to check on them.

Quick-action was required. She loaded them on the bus and they all went to the Bremer Lutheran Orphanage, where they were placed and now had steady care. Janis thrived in the institution. Harold seemed to be doing fine and was in school and participating in activities. One day that winter, Verlie arrived with winter coats for them all. Janis was in no hurry to go anywhere, she liked the routine.

Margaret worked hard with the Smith's and the Michaelsen's to find permanent placement for the
Harold's 1950 Studebaker
children. Janis and Dixie went to Ted's sister Dagmar in Mississippi and would get involved with 4-H and excel in school. Harold was eventually sent to Verlie's brother Claude and his wife but was treated poorly, by all accounts, and ran away.  Verlie's younger sister Evelyn, who lived in Plainfield caring for her mother, Kate Smull Smith, brought him in. Her husband Marvin Ripley was often away at sea as a Navy man, but they adopted him. Baby Judy, for some reason, did not end up with the family, but was adopted to a wealthy rural couple. Some of that story can be found elsewhere here and here. Verlie would have another family with Leo Linsey - three boys, the oldest of which is my dad.

Harold had a happy life with the Ripley's. Things became normal. He grew up and married Ellen Chester, a very pretty local girl, and a few months later, their first child was born. Three more would follow. He farmed in Bremer County and later, was hired by a large ag firm to manage farms all over the area. He knew his stuff and did well. By the early 1970s, the marriage was failing. After the divorce, he married Judith Stigers, a divorcee with three children. Her two sons lived with her and Harold would adopt the youngest and raise them both. Out of this, I got my cousin Tony, who chose not to take Harold's name, but lovingly supported his parents in their old age and fondly called Harold, "Dad." They were married 48 years-ish when Harold died.

I want to recount a time I had questions about my great aunt Mary and a conversation I had with Harold to tell you a little about his absolute disdain for gossip.

I had been trying to talk about his aunt Mary Marie Adaline Smith, who so far, I had found two husbands for. I peppered him with questions about her Greek immigrant husband and the time they lived in Michigan running a Greek restaurant. He gave me very basic information. I also asked about her last husband - the one she lived with in California when she died. Again, all he said was that she married him because she had known her when she was younger.

After much more research, I came back to him, only this time, I took a different tack: "Uncle Harold. Here's my theory, tell me if it's right. Aunt Mary married the first time to the guy name Hoard and got divorced. It looks like she met her second husband DL Albert right after that and they also got a divorce. Then she married the Greek guy. Then she married DL Albert AGAIN, not because she knew him when she was younger, but because she'd been married to him before!  Is that right?  He said, "Yup."
I loved him a lot, just as I do his lovely wife, my Aunt Judy. I will miss him. 


Judy and Harold

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Schmoll/Schmehl/Smoll/Smull Connection Looks Like it's Coming Together at Last

Two years ago, I wrapped up with what I could do on my 3X great grandfather, Peter Smull's family tree. I was blocked not knowing who his father and mother were, but I knew some things to help me in the dig. Still, it got me no further. With the advent of rampant DNA testing and more time, I think I have come up with a theory on the parentage of Peter.

The basic story is here and here. The stories involved my four Smull relatives:  Jacob, Peter, Henry, and Jesse. You can read other Smull stories here.

First, here's what I knew:

In Peter's grand-nephew's (brother Henry's grandson George's) bio in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Central Pennsylvania:

"...The first of the line in America was _____ Smull, the great-grandfather of our subject. He was a native of Ireland, whence he came to this country in the latter part of the 18th century to locate in the eastern part of Pennsylvania. Six of his children lived to adult age - two daughters and four sons, the names of the latter being Henry, Jacob, Peter, and Jesse. The Smull family in Brush Valley is descended from the first three sons, who were skilled masons, and all went at the same time to Rebersburg to build the wall for the Lutheran Reformed Church. They remained in the Valley, and living in German settlements, they and their children adopted the language and customs of their neighbors...
...Henry Smull, our subject's grandfather, born in eastern Pennsylvania, February 2, 1799; and, coming to Brush Valley in early manhood with no capital except his own abilities and strong physique, obliged to work for many years as a day laborer. He saved his money, however, and in time managed to buy a farm between Kreamerville and Centre Mill. The care of the place devolved mainly upon his family as he comtinued to work at his trade." 
There is a lot wrong with this. But, again, these are paid bios made by a company that did this in towns and villages across the country whose writer's were not necessarily worried about accuracy. George Smull, the subject, is bound to have made the same mistakes we all have in repeating our own family lore (I always think of a game of telephone). His grandfather died while George was a very young child. George most likely had no contact with the non-Brush Valley Smulls. And, they are definitely not Irish and German was their native tongue. Still - the most interesting thing I got out of this was there were two sisters and their non-Brush Valley brother was Jesse.

I then moved on to another Commemorative Bio - this time, for Henry Smull (1842), son of Peter (born in 1796 or 1797-depending on source) and who left Brush Valley for Stephenson County, Illinois in the mid-1800s. Henry's bio had this to say:
"HENRY SMULL, a retired farmer now residing in Macon County, is a native of the Keystone State. He was born in Centre County, Pa., February 23, 1842, and is a son of Peter and Mary (Waggoner) Smull, who were also born in Pennsylvania. The latter was of German descent. The paternal grandfather of our subject was a hero of the Revolution. He left the Old Country to avoid entering the army, and arrived in the United States just in time to aid the Colonists in their struggle for independence.
For seven years he participated in the Revolution. The father of our subject was born February 27, 1796, and died in February, 1869, being buried in Rock Grove, Stephenson County, Ill. His wife, who was born February 4, 1801, died and was buried in the same place in September, 1878. Mr. Smull was always a supporter of the Democratic party. He was a mechanic, and always followed the occupation of farming. He came to Illinois when Henry was a lad of twelve years, and located upon a farm in Stephenson County, where he spent his remaining days." Portrait & Biographical Record of Macon County, Illinois, 1893
The Schmoll I found who fit this criteria, was Johann Peter Schmoll, born 1752 in Eastern
Pennsylvania. Additionally, they had a son Jesse. Most interestingly, there were two sisters.

Finally, the gaps in the births of my Brush Valley brothers Smull fit in beautifully with Johann Peter Schmolls family tree. A fellow researcher also helped me connect Jesse to Johann Peter/Juliana Sara through a baptismal document that wasn't available to me when I started this.

But, I needed the time to work through all of this and there a still a couple of scruffy problems to clear up. Still, I feel fairly confident this theory is on the right track.

This is roster of children I believe were born to Johann Peter Schmoll and Juliana Sara Mueller:

Here is my big issue.  There is another Peter Smull, often attributed to Johann Peter and Juliana Sara who does not seem to have any supporting documentation to support his connection to those parents. Some have that Peter listed with a 1797 birth (I believe this is my Peter) and also with a 1790 birth. Both of these have been connected to Catharina Bischof as wife. I'm very interested to see if anyone has any evidence that Peter m. Catharina Bischof is actually connected to Johann Peter and Juliana.

While it is not unusual for Germans to have more than one child with the same first name, I don't think that's the case here. (See info on naming conventions here).

The volume of Schmolls/Schmehls/Schmoehl/
Smoll/Smull/Schmoels/Smeals in Pennsylvania during the 1780s-1880s is massive. In my DNA, I connect to no fewer than 30 in the 5th to 8th cousin range. Yet, I can find connections only to about a dozen of those (most have a DNA matches of under 15cM across 1 segment - which basically means we're all of some German descent).

That's my surmise. Look forward to other Smull/Smoll/Schmoll researchers who might have an alternate theory, other supporting facts, or theories. 






Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Eureka! A Big Find!

SMITH, Jacob > SMITH, Catherine

I've been doing this for about five years now. Diligently going back to trees and searching for more information. William Custer Smith, my 2XGG, arrived in the Plainfield, Iowa area via Ohio and Grant County, Wisconsin. I had great luck being able to trace his brothers, James, John, and Isaac, but the daughters were tough.

Eventually, I was able to trace youngest sister, Sarah. Elizabeth, I believe, based on no reference in her sister Sarah's obit, to have most likely died quite young. Catherine had been a mystery.  Until a revisit of the documents and information just last week. This is just the introduction to this family.

There she was, bolder than a Hawaiian shirt at church. Born in Ohio around 1833, moved to Grant County, and marrying Alfred Fuller prior to 1860 in Grant County. They then moved on down to the Plainfield area, where cousins and her brother had settled (WC Smith lived just over the county border outside of Plainfield, in Butler County). Catherine gave birth to at least six kids before her death around 1875 (still working that out). The newspaper in the area didn't start publishing for many more years, so there was no reference to her life, nor her death outside of records.

Her daughters married into local families - the Thompsons and the Smiths (the "other" Smith family in Plainfield). Those children, in turn, continued to connect and reweave our lines with the lines of other long-time families in the area. Two of her sons ended up in Chicago - several of her grandchildren would join Chicago Police Department, a tradition that continued for generations. Milton ended up in mining in British Columbia. George lost his wife in 1914 and eventually moved to Los Angeles County, California.

Alfred remarried almost immediately to Hannah Maria Randall, a native of Platteville, Wisconsin. They had six more children, before he died in 1902 in Polk Township, Bremer County.  Hannah then married Enoch Benjamin Townsend, who died the same year she did (1929), in Oregon.

Here are the children of Catherine Smith and Alfred Fuller:

CLARA MILDORA FULLER born 12 May 1860, Grant Co Wis - 03 Sep 1916, Bremer Co, Iowa married EDWARD A SIMBRIC born 10 Mar 1852 in Germany/Austria - 02 Jan 1929, Waterloo, Black Hawk,Ia

LULU BELLE FULLER born 13 Nov 1865 Plainfield, Bremer, Iowa - 08 Aug 1948 Waverly, Bremer, Iowa married OZEM GARDNER THOMPSON 02 Jan 1882 in Bremer County.  He was born 06 Feb 1862 Horton, Bremer, Iowa - 19 Mar 1929 Plainfield, Bremer, Iowa

WARREN J FULLER born 05 Nov 1867 in Story County, Iowa - 02 Mar 1949, Cook, Illinois, married MATILDA WATTERS 18 Jan 1882 in Bremer Co. She was born 09 Jun 1859 in Hainsville, Lake, Illinois - 06 Feb 1935 Chicago, Cook, Illinois.

MILTON J FULLER born abt 1868 in Bremer Co - 30 Mar 1958, Haney, British Columbia, Canada married KATIE MANNINGO 21 Dec 1893 in Des Moines, Iowa. She was born abt 1874.

FRANK N FULLER born Jul 1870 in Bremer Co - Nov 1953, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, married ANN LOUISE STANTON 08 Jul 1896 in Chicago. She was born 27 Jul 1875 in Chicago and died 06 Mar 1941 in Oak Park, Cook, Illinois.

GEORGE MCCABLE FULLER boron 04 Jun 1872 in Bremer Co - 15 Jul 1954 in Los Angeles County, California. He married OLIVE LUELLA SMITH in 1895 in Bremer Co. She was born 22 Nov 1871 in Horton, Bremer Co and died 22 Aug 1914 in Plainfield, Bremer Co.