52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Nature

Just what was the nature of his intentions? His first wife Abigail and son had died during childbirth. He was alone. Men in his day needed a wife and children to build a homestead. Why, the very answer…the very person…was right in view. Mary Etta was a yard girl at the brickyard where he was the foreman. It was the Wisconsin territory, and women were few. Miss Mary Etta proved herself to be strong and hard-working. So, he took a chance and asked her if she would become his wife. She consented. Andrew Storer and Mary Etta Soule were united in matrimony on 24 July 1852 in Watertown, Wisconsin. She was 19, and he was 35. They pioneered together through many territories and “baby states”.

Just what was the nature of his character? As a young man growing up in Maine, he grew wanderlust in his heart and soul. He moved onto Boston where he worked on the docks but lost his health. He moved back to Maine to regain his strength…that he did. He moved on to Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa before he finally settled down in Osborne County, Kansas as a homesteader. He was known for being neighborly, steadfast, relentless, and a chance-taker. He planted these character seeds into his nine children.

Just what was the nature of his business as a farmer? After all, the years of his youth had been spent as a dock worker and brick maker. For a time, he was a successful sheep farmer, a vocation many in Osborne County did not undertake. He earned a grant from an agricultural college in Mississippi so he could grow trees on his property. On the plains, trees could be few and far between. Cottonwoods thrived on his grounds.

Just what was the nature of his legacy? To me, he was my second great grandfather. He left his descendants the abilities to try more than the obvious, the philosophy to move and grew where one is planted, and the courage to be strong-willed.

That is the nature of Andrew Storer’s heart and soul.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Out Of Place

Arriving In New York, 1854

The trio of girls had several things in common: they came by ship from Europe; they entered this country through New York City; they were children at the time of their immigrations. One was 10 years old, another 12 years old, one 14 years old. One of the girl’s father was a house painter, another’s a peasant farmer, one had an unknown occupation. One child spoke French and German, another English, one Polish. Two were being trained in the arts of needlework and dressmaking while one learned how to be a charwoman. When the girls first came to New York City did they feel out of place? The one girl from London must have felt somewhat at home in Manhattan…bustling, energetic, noisy. The one from France must have felt homesick for the castles nestled along the river of her hometown. The one from Poland must have been mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the huge city. How do children really adjust when they are out of place?

One of the girls had come to America with her mother and her siblings. Her father had died three years before. One of the girls had come to America with other young girls from her town as their parents had all passed away…they were orphans. The remaining girl left behind no records of her New York arrival and parentage. How do children really adjust when they are growing up without a parent/parents…out of place in this world?

The girl from France arrived in New York in about 1840. No records can be found to name her parents. When she was 15 years old, she married a private in the U. S. Army who was ten years her senior. Her name was Maria Magdalen Kramer. In time, she and her husband would settle on a farm in Osborne County, Kansas. She was my second great grandmother. At times, she must have felt out of place in this new country. Eventually, she would feel at home.

The girl from England arrived in New York in 1854. She lived with her mother and siblings. In time, she would marry a Civil War veteran who would also take up farming in Osborne County, Kansas. Her name was Isabella Anna Couchman. She was my second great grandmother. At times, she must have felt out of place in this new country. Eventually, she would feel at home.

The girl from Poland arrived in New York in 1906. Her brother met her at Ellis Island so he could escort her to her job as a housemaid in Connecticut. In time, she would relocate to Philadelphia where she was also a domestic. She married a fellow Polish immigrant and remained in that city. Her name was Anna Mroz. She was my paternal grandmother. At times, she must have felt out of place in this new country. Eventually, she would feel at home.

Ellis Island, 1906

Two of the girls would meet one another: Maria and Isabella. Their children would marry each other. As for Anna, her son would marry Maria’s and Isabella’s great granddaughter. A golden thread ties and binds their families forever, no longer out of place…eventually at home.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: At Worship

Sunday, May 26, 1935: 11 year old Edjui walked devotedly to the altar rail to receive his First Holy Communion. His proud parents Franciszek and Anna witnessed his reception of the Blessed Sacrament at the morning Mass. His old siblings Emilia and Stanley were also seated in the pew. The prayers of the liturgy were spoken in Latin, but the homily addressed to the children was spoken in Polish. Many of the parents were first generation Polish Americans, and they savored the belief that their children were becoming Catholic Christian Americans. Receiving this sacrament was further proof of their deep faiths and commitments to the Lord who had delivered them safely to this new land. The families rejoiced also in the fact that their home parish of Saint Ladislaus was a neighborhood church where the immigrants could worship and serve together.

That special day, Edjui was dressed in his best clothes. It was the Polish custom that the First Communicants wear white ribboned armbands that their mothers had sewn together for them. Some ribbons were embroidered with religious symbols sewn with gold threads. He wore a boutonniere as part of the traditional dress. Each child received a religious scapular and rosary. At some time, Edjui’s mother took him to the local photography studio to have a commemorative picture taken. The studio was staged with a white Baptismal candle for Edjui to hold while a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus rested on a small table. The picture would be printed on penny postcards for Edjui’s family to send to family and friends.

The parish and neighborhood would celebrate the day with cakes, baked by the proud mothers. Small presents of holy cards and coins were received by the children. What a blessed day for the parishioners of this Polish-American church!

Note: Twenty-two years later, Edjui’s little daughter would receive her First Holy Communion. The Mass would be prayed in Latin while the homily was preached in English. Her parish was located in a small Southern town in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. What a blessed day for her and her family!

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: DNA

Cryptic…that was the flavor of the first email that I received. Suspicious…that was another flavor added to the profile. Annoying…that topped it off. The taste in my mouth, as they would say, was bitter. Who was this strange woman with her questions and insinuations? Where was her evidence? Should I brush her off, not respond, pray she would go away? She wanted to know if my grandfather was her mother’s natural father.

Her first email wanted information about where my grandfather and his brothers lived and visited in their youth. Had they ever gone to a certain Kansas county? Did they have relatives there? Was one of them the father of her mother? No, they had not lived in the area to which she referred. I thought that would end that.

The second email revealed her reason for asking. Her own mother had been adopted. She was bound and determined to find her natural grandfather of whose identity she had no clues. She had located her natural grandmother, but she was not willing and was determined not to reveal the identity of the father of the child she had given up for adoption. Could my grandfather be the father? Was it ever discussed within the family circle? No, I never heard any stories. I wanted her to go away…as fast and as far as she could travel!

About a year went by and the third email appeared. She had had Ancestry DNA done. According to the results, we were a match…dear heavens, help us all…third-fourth cousins. I decided to dig into my tree and see if any males in my grandfather’s family had lived in the area she was searching. My grandfather’s uncle and his family had lived in that location. There were two sons in the family. I supplied her with the names and any information I had which was sketchy.

She reached out to the family and told them her story. The sons of the sons allowed her to interview them. One of the sons, she asked him if he would submit to an Ancestry DNA test. Consent was given. They were a match.

The final email shared with me who she believed her natural grandfather to be…my grandfather’s uncle. She created a story about the two people involved: they met at a social gathering one summer. They dated for a short while. When the girl discovered she was pregnant, she did not know the whereabouts of the boy. She decided to go it alone and place the baby in an orphanage. I answered her email with a note of congratulations and well wishes…

DNA is a marvelous tool in identifying family. However, it does not carry forward stories, truths, and all answers.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Brick Wall

“TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!”

Imagine that the paternal side of your family tree has seven…yes, count them , seven…leaves. This is true for me. A six word sentence explains it all: I am third generation Polish American.

Once upon a time, I set a goal to find my grandparents, Anna Mroz and Franciszek Slabik, in the Ellis Island records. After a year, I had found both of them as they had come separately and unknown to each other. My grandmother’s brother Antoni Mroz was listed as her contact/escort person. Supposedly, he lived in Greenwich, Connecticut. She came in 1906, and she has not been found in the 1910 Census. Also, no Antoni in sight. My grandfather came in 1912, and he was meeting his brother Jan Slabik. He has never been found in any census. No siblings and their families can be located. My grandparents never spoke about their parents to their children. No aunts and uncles came to visit, call, or write. My grandparents and their children lived in Philadelphia.

Once upon a time, I set a goal to find out the names of my great grandparents who remained in Poland…all I sought were their names. I sent for my grandparents’ death certificates. The informant, my aunt and their daughter, only knew the name of her mother’s father: Stanislaw Mroz. The rest of the names were a mystery. I thought about any document that might bear these names. I sent to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for a copy of my grandparents’ marriage certificate. Yes, the names were there! Jakob Slabik and Agata Kendra were my grandfather’s parents while Stanislaw Mroz and Teclas Goruyk parented my grandmother. When the marriage was celebrated in 1914, Babcia’s parents were deceased while Dziadek’s were farmers.

Once upon a time, I yearned just to know where my grandparents were born in that big mess of a country Poland…a country that was not a country for over 100 years. That has been very difficult to research. In reading through research hints by professional genealogists, I may as well be trying to translate Polish without a translator. It is truly overwhelming to me. Will any part of this brick wall come tumbling down…ever?

Ancestry DNA has yielded only one cousin…my first cousin with whom I grew up…his kids got him the test as a gift.

Truly, I am a positive person. I long for the day when someone will say, “Czesc kuzynie…hello, cousin.” Then I can write, “Once upon a time I longed to meet a cousin, and there was a text from her.”

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: In The Paper

The stroke of paralysis sustained by A. H. Boultinghouse, of Tilden township, resulted in his death, Saturday morning last, at 9 o’clock. The venerable gentleman was well along toward four-score. Funeral services took place Sunday and were largely attended, deceased having been widely known and universally esteemed. Osborne County News, Thursday, 23 November 1893

A whisper of a mention in the local weekly paper when he went home to God was paid the venerable gentleman. No obituary was ever published. His wife and eight of his nine children remained along with grandchildren. Why was printer’s ink never applied to newsprint to tell at least a noble fraction of his story? What caused this writing to never have been composed?

So…here is a simple obituary for A. H. Boultinghouse who died in the 19th Century but has been written in the 21st…126 years later.

In 1818, Amos Howell Boultinghouse was born on the Illinois plains to Daniel and Rhoda. He was named after his maternal grandfather. His father died when Daniel was five years old so he was raised by his mother and older siblings. At the age of 19, he joined the U.S. Army. While stationed at Fort Columbus, New York, he met and married Maria Kraemer who was a French emigrant. He was 25 years old while she was 15 years old. (She lied about her age when applying for her marriage license. She stated she was 22.) Together they became the parents of nine children. When the Civil War rocked the country, Amos reenlisted at the age of 43. He served in the 55th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Company E. Under the orders of General William T. Sherman, he became a wagoner. He was honorably discharged and went home to his beloved family. In 1871, the family moved westward to Kansas and settled on lands provided by the Homestead Act. The family were residents of Bloomington and maintained their farm there. At the age of 75, Mr. Boultinghouse went home to the Lord on 14 November 1893. He rests in Bloomington Cemetery.

Much more could be shared about the venerable gentleman, but this obituary is just a footnote. May my second great grandfather enjoy all that heaven does allow!

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: 12

Before they owned a radio…before they purchased a Model T…before they opened a grocery and restaurant, they laid their lives bare. Information was recorded about them by a neighbor who passed it on to the Census Office. Their answers became a part of the Twelfth Census of The United States in 1900. This census asked more questions than had previous ones. On that official enumeration sheet, the lives of the Lafayette Edward Boultinghouse family would unfold in simple facts.

The 12th Census began on 1 June 1900 and was to be completed in one month’s time. The Boultinghouses lived in Tilden Township, Osborne County, Kansas. At the time, Lafe and wife Naomi had three children plus his mother and a lodger within the household. The couple had been married for six years in the previous year. Naomi had given birth to three children with all three living. Lafe was listed as a day laborer who rented their property. Lafe and Naomi were literate and could speak, read, and write English. The children ranged in ages from 1 to 6 years of age. Lafe, wife, and children had been born in Kansas. Lafe’s mother Mary was born in France. The census states that she immigrated to the United States in 1844 and had resided there for 56 years. The lodger, George W. Forrest, had been born in Ohio and was employed as a stone mason. The birth month and year for each was recorded . The birthplaces of their parents were listed.

Who from this household answered the questions? How well did they know the enumerator, George V. Rogers? Did they socialize at Sunday school picnics with their neighbors the Britts and the Tiltons? Biographical facts are told in the census, but personalities are not present. Those discoveries would be left to their descendants in the 21 Century.

Note: Two mistakes can be found in this record. Mother Mary Boultinghouse emigrated from France by 1843 as she was married that year in Manhattan, New York. One of the daughters’ names is listed as Ellen when it was Helen.

Further Note: The Boultinghouses are part of my mother’s family who had been in America since the early 1700s. My father’s parents would not come to America until the early 1900s. They would first appear in the 1920 Census.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Large Family

Fox River District, White County, Illinois

Does the family on the move really put down roots? Does the family know the meaning of being settled? Does the family understand the security of being home? The Daniel Boultinghouse (1775-1823) family would be witnesses to this story as they migrated from Pennsylvania to Ohio to Illinois.

What spurred Daniel to keep moving westward? For what was he searching? Daniel would marry three times with wives Susannah Graves and Rhoda Howell. The name of one wife is unknown. With Susannah, they parented five children. Rhoda gave him two children while the unknown Mrs. Boutlinghouse gave birth to six. Rhoda was the last wife so she took many children under her maternal wings.

Members of large families on the Illinois plains each had jobs and responsibilities: cooking, laundry, planting, harvesting, whatever was needed to be clothed, fed, and sheltered. How did the family turn whatever they had into a homestead…would this be the final place for them along the Little Fox River? How did they call it home?

As some of the children reached adulthood, they married and lived nearby. A couple of Daniel’s sons joined him in the militia to ward off Indian attacks. Family stories tell of one son being massacred and scalped. Daniel was the captain of a militia that fought in the War of 1812.

Daniel died at the young age of 48, leaving Rhoda and the remaining children. Daniel had kept an account of the debts he owed. After his death, Rhoda went to the courthouse to present this account and to pay off the debts. Among the debts were ones he owed two of his sons. He left no will. How did she survive her days on the plains? No records exist. I wonder if one of her children took her in so she would not be by herself.

Rhoda and Daniel are my third great grandparents, and their son Amos Howell Boultinghouse is my second great grandfather. After Daniel’s death, several of his other sons left Illinois to move into Arkansas and Texas. They, too, would parent large families. Did these people finally settle in their lifelong homes? How did these large families take care and love one another?

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Bachelor Uncle

Alfred Alexander Stevens
1877-1926

What would a bachelor like Alfred Alexander Stevens hold close his heart? Family and farming would be engraved on his soul and held dear by him. Born in 1877 in Kill Creek Township, Osborne County, Kansas, he was the fifth child (out of nine) of Will and Isabella Stevens. In birth order, he was sandwiched in as a middle child with loving, protective siblings as his elders. His four younger kin would love him as a big brother.

Most of his life was lived on his parents’ farm so he knew the value of hard work. He knew the values of loyalty and steadfastness. As an adult, he was surrounded by many of his siblings and their families: he was a devoted son, brother, uncle, and brother-in-law. Farming was a sunup to sundown vocation, and he knew the love of the land. When his parents became elderly, he continued to labor on the farm along with his brother Fred.

When his beloved mother Isabella passed away in 1924, a piece of his heart went with her. Almost two years later, his cherished father passed away. His parents had been ill for a time before their deaths, and it had taken a toll on Alfred. Stressed with worry about poor crop prospects and an unwise investment, Alfred became ill himself. He passed away in September, 1926, at the age of 49. His brothers and sisters came together to mourn the loss of their loved one who would rest under the Father’s peace.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: At The Courthouse

Mrs. Palmer had committed a crime. Mrs. Palmer had committed a murder. Mrs. Palmer had committed a filicide, the murder of her own child. That fact was written on her child’s death certificate,”poisoned by tincture of iodine given by insane mother”. No autopsy was performed. The year was 1923. So what would be the consequences for this Mrs. Palmer?

In the early 1920s, tincture of iodine was given as a medicine to cure every ailment. It had been used as such for well over a century. Medical scientists could not totally explain why it was so successful as a cure. Pharmacists would formulate it for each prescription and include directions for dosing. So what would be the consequences for misusing the medicine?

Was Mrs. Palmer questioned by the police? Did she see the inside of a courtroom to explain…to answer questions at an inquest? Was she ever brought to trial? Was she ever called to the courthouse to tell her side of this tragedy? So what were the consequences for her insane actions?

Perhaps, she was tried and convicted of a homicide by a jury of her peers, the people of her town. Perhaps, her fellow town dwellers mentally sentenced her to a lifetime of shunning. What kind of person would kill her own child could have been an everlasting question and opinion in their minds. Guilty as charged!

By 1930 as the U.S. Federal Census states, she was divorced and living with her parents. Her second child lived with them, and this child had been a mere three months old when her sibling passed. Was the divorce part of her unspoken sentence?

To date, I have not able to find criminal and possible trial records for this case. Also of interest to me is that the physician who signed the death certificate deemed Mrs. Palmer insane. Was treatment, albeit 1920s style, given for that?

After this event, Mrs. Palmer would live another 50+ years. What truly was her life sentence…delivered from a courthouse or delivered from her soul?