Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Grant County Wisconsin Families & Scapple

 Scapple - haven't heard of it? Probably not, but it's a program developed by the same people who brought us Scrivener, a program for writers. Scapple is helpful for making quick charts. I've used it for  cataloguing blog posts, ideas for blogs, research lists, etc.  It really has no limitations, other than the user (me).  And it's quick and easy to learn. 

Here's one I've made because I could never remember all the different family names in Grant County, Wisconsin.  Early on I thought we only had one Martin and one Hess family.  Over the years, I've found that many of Mrs. Martin's family came from Virginia with her (the Peck family). Another researcher along the way indicated there was another Hess family, possibly related.  I think they are right, and I base that only on the fact that my great grandfather Charles Hess sold land to Gottfried (sometimes listed as Christian) Hess. There is a possibility they also were military men, but that requries a bit more research. And what is the weird (?) Pittsburgh connection with the immigrant men to Grant County. Some kind of stopover, apparently. Again, more research! 

Here's the chart of my related families for Grant County, Wisconsin. There are more because I  haven't added the grandchildren and their spouses.  This quick easy reference has been valuable to me for researching.

P.S. Scapple and Scrivener are available through literatureandlatte.com. I have no connection nor do I receive any compensation. I've just found them both helpful programs for organizing me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Power of Old Maps

Question: Is it likely someone discharged from Ft.Snelling Minnesota in 1846 would then settle in Grant County, Wisconsin, across from Dubuque, Iowa? I thought not. Searching Google maps, overland, seemed quite a distance for my great grandfather Hess to end up farming in southwest Wisconsin. I came across a book by George B. Merrick about his life as a steamboat captain on the Mississippi from 1854 to 1863 and began to understand travel in the area around 1850. The Mississippi River was like one of our major freeways, except the means of transportation was different. If you look at the map, you can see just how easy that trip would be. People could hop off and on all up and down the river. This is helpful with other families as well, as I have some going as far as New Orleans during the same time period. Ft. Snelling is in the upper left and Grant County, Wisconsin is in the lower right.


Now my next issue is to learn more about Ft. Snelling and the men who enlisted and defended these forts in the western U.S.  Any help or ideas would ben much appreciated!

Source: Merrick, George Byron. Old Times on the Mississippi: The  Recollections of a Steamboat Pilot from 1854 to 1863. From Map of the Mississippi between St. Louis and St. Paul to illustrate Old Times on the Mississippi by Geo.  B. Merrick. Pub. 1908

 Available on Gutenberg.org. Project Gutenberg ebook #47262

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

52 Ancestors - Week 12 - Popular?

Confession:  I'm finding writing something relevant to the prompts for this series to be sometimes challenging.  Reading blog posts from others is helpful.  Maybe with all the coronavirus news going on it's just a bit difficult to stay on any task. The "stay at home" or "shelter in place" orders should be making it easier, right?

This week the prompt is "popular." My first thought was just how would I know someone was popular? I never knew most of them.  Even my grandparents died long before I was born.  After reading the Needles in a Haystack blog, I started thinking about the one uncle I find intriguing because of his smile.  Meet Charles Edward Hawk and wife Amelia Idella Sterner of Letcher, Dakota.

Charlie and Mattie Hawk, Davison County, South Dakota

I love this photo of my Uncle Charlie because of his eyes. The smile is nice too, but it seems happiness radiates from his eyes. Sadly I never met him.  Anyone who smiled so easily must have been likeable, or popular. Some people just seem to radiate happiness.

Here's another photo from when they were young and either newly married or engaged. It's easy to understand the "happy" on his face. She is always reserved. I think most people were reserved in their photos back then, especially when posing for photos. They were married in September 1921.

I'm wondering about the little girl in the background. She could be a neighbor, or one of his brother John's daughters. One of those daughters, Edythe Helen Hawk, would have been six or seven years old.  She sure looks happy! John also lived in South Dakota, both in Letcher, and Wall, before settling in the southwest corner of Minnesota. Sadly, Charlie and Mattie had no children of their own.

For some reason, I tend to link his smiles with a sense of place, in this case South Dakota. Does "place" make a difference? Books have been written about this. Charlie had been in the first World War. He had lost his brother who was shot in France during that war. And yet his coutenance in the few photos I've been able to gather always show someone comfortable with his lot in life.

I should probably explain that family photos were in several trunks lost in a fire when I was growing up on the home place in Texas.  I did love looking at those pictures as a little girl, and sure wish I had them now!

A lot of stories I remember from childhood were about the depression, the dust bowl, the many deaths, tuberculosis, cancer. Not so much happy. This doesn't mean they didn't laugh, just that the family stories from the past I heard were mostly about sad times. Or maybe that's just what I remember. Possibly that's why I'm so intrigrued with this man's smiles. I think I would have liked this uncle.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Mystery of the Missing Wife - 52 Ancestors - Close to Home

Therese Walther Pier disappeared from her family between the 1900 and 1910 censuses in Galveston County, Texas.  This was a close-to-home mystery, as I had lived on Galveston Island

I had been searching for her death record for quite awhile to fill in this great-grandmother’s details. (Family members - not mine personally.)  Her husband, Nicholas Pier, died there. He’s in many First Lutheran Church records, along with their daughters and their families. A visit to the Rosenberg Library in 2014 didn’t lead to any break-through.  There was, however, two Nicholas Pier men in their records.  One died in 1900 and one in 1918.  We knew our Nicholas, the cigar maker,  died in 1918.

I returned home and kept looking.  My thoughts were:
      1.Perhaps she died during the 1900 hurricane, along with 6000 others.

       2. Could she have died in the Port Arthur-Beaumont area where Nicholas had a second cigar store on the 1910 census?
   3. Long shot, but did she return home to Louisiana to live with family?

Keystone View Company. Seeking valuables in the wreckage, Galveston, Texas. Meadville, Pa.: Keystone View Co. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .

No records were online for her death in the 1900 storm.  Nor could I find records over in Port Arthur/Beaumont area, after much searching.  She didn’t seem to have returned to New Orleans either. Then I looked for Nicholas Pier who died in 1900. Maybe he was a cousin or other relative. City directories are pretty complete for Galveston, but there was only one Nicholas Pier, a cigar maker.

On a more recent trip to Texas,  I went back to Rosenberg Library to see if they had more records for the tragic 1900 storm.  I learned most of the people were recognized in some way.  There is an alphabetized list of more than 5000 missing and dead.

Other interesting facts about deaths from the storm turned up.  Many people died soon after the storm, either from injuries sustained, or from disease brought about as a result of living conditions immediately after the storm. See the photo of some of the tents erected for the residents.  Citizens also built temporary wooden structures from the lumber available resulting from the destruction of homes and buildings.

Looking over a list of available research materials in the library the night before I was to leave, I noticed a record titled “Death Certificates, City of Galveston, ca. 1880 – 1910.”  Very few Texas death certificates are available before 1903. By this time, it had occurred to me that maybe the Mr. Nicholas Pier who died in 1900 was in fact a Mrs. Nicholas Pier.  You may have already guessed this.  I elected to stay another day, and am so glad I did.   Yes, the funeral home death record clearly said Mrs. Nicholas Pier and listed her as female.  Problem solved!  The librarians there were so helpful.  I don't think my happy dance impressed them though.
Photo Credit:  American Stereoscopic Company. Shelter for the homeless, Galveston's awful disaster. New York, U.S.A.: American Stereoscopic Co. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .

Here's Mrs. Pier (same date of death and info as Mr. Nicholas Pier in the cemetery book):

Death Certificates, City of Galveston, ca. 1880 - 1910. MS#86-0005 microfilm. Copy at  Clayton Library, Houston.

I have no problem with the transcription error for the cemetery records found earlier – it’s easy to get in a hurry and assume that Nicholas Pier was likely a man.  Sadly, Mrs. Therese Walther Pier was not even buried with her own first name.  I’m glad we are smarter than that now. 

Now I need to find her parents.  Every mystery solved means yet more mysteries.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Oh Those Hawks! 52 Ancestors - Week 6

John Hawk vs. Johnny Green Hawk and their sons:
George Washington Hawk vs. George Washington Hawk

Duplication of names is one thing, but this then leads to misattribution of families. This particular group I found quite upsetting for awhile.  I could understand people taking my John Hawk genealogy and using it. After all, I listed my tree online around 1996 for that very reason.  At that point I had been working on it for about 15 years and had even visited the home counties in West Virginia, Indiana, and Illinois.  But more recently I started finding genealogical information for my John Hawk on records for a Johnny Green Hawk.  I hadn't run across a middle name for my John.

To make matters worse, both men had sons named George Washington, both sons born in the 1820’s, and both ended up in Missouri. I think that’s where the trouble started!  The father John G. Hawk also patented land in Missouri – more problems, but I’ve not found a Missouri record that linked to my  John Hawk of Illinois. George Washington was a popular given name in those days, as many were named after the first POTUS.  So finding many with that name wasn't upsetting.  But when researchers started giving my great grandfather George W. Hawk two wives and two sets of children in two different counties at the same time, well, this was quite upsetting. 

One day I stopped and questioned just what he (my G.W.) might have thought about all this.  I didn’t know him, but something tells me he might find it amusing that anyone thought he had two families.  It's helpful to think he might find it funny, but I can’t say I do! Then again, polygamy was an issue in those days so he might not appreciate it. He would probably be happy (and surprised) to know that he's remembered at all over 100 years after his death. I can't even imagine that.

More distressing, according to one researcher on ancestry, my great grandfather (my G.W.) even died in two different places many years apart. He first died in Missouri, and then apparently rose from the dead, and died later to be buried in Texas! That would really be something to brag about – if it had happened. I do understand how easy it is to grab that info from other trees, especially when we are new to ancestry.

Johnny Green Hawk might be more interesting study than my John Hawk, who was the farmer known in Christian County, Illinois as "the old Virginian." I found these entries from different researchers on rootsweb which helps to explain the Johnny Green Hawk and son G. W. genealogy:  

  • Hello. Thanks for the reply. I just spoke to my father and he told me (actually a whole lot of information!) that Green Hawk was a Geechie (sp.?) and came somewhere from the Carolinas. He also had 21 children from 2 marriages! My relation is through Ardless Benjamin Hawk Sr. Also, A.B's mother's name was LIA VONIA. My father was not too sure about the spelling of the last name, but that is what he gave me.
  •  I have a Johnny Green Hawk in my ancestry. I do not have birth or death dates or places. He had a son, George Washington Hawk, Sr. I do not know if G.W. had siblings. Geo. W. was born in 1820 in North Carolina and died bef. 1858 in Miller County, MO. He married Clarinda Boyd who was born in 1824 in Greenup County, KY. and died bef 1870 in Miller County, MO. They had children James D. Hawk, Robert Hawk, John R. Hawk, George W. Hawk, Jr. and my ancestor Mary Rahab Hawk. Mary was born Sep 6, 1844 in Miller County, MO. and died on Oct 1, 1909. Mary married John Grosvenor and their daughter Caroline was my great grandmother. Caroline married Renault C. Clark and their daughter Stella was my grandmother. Any of this sound familiar?

Well, at least that answered some questions about the mysterious Johnny Green Hawk.

 So, should we talk about the several Jacob Hawks in Missouri?  No? Okay, that can wait, although there’s a story there too!

The following is for anyone connecting with these families.

Additional Notes:

Mine:  John Hawk, born Virginia 1824.  This is my 2nd great grandfather.  He married Margaret (Peggy) Groves in Hardy County. They left Hardy (now Grant) County, Virginia (now West Virginia) about 1838 and went to Tippecanoe County, Indiana. They lived in the southern part near the Montgomery County line.  Before 1860 they moved to Christian County, Illinois, where Peggy died in 1858.  Their oldest son was named George Washington Hawk. John then married Nancy Buskirk Kenneman, and they had one child, Dolly, born in 1861. 

The other:  John G. Hawk, aka Johnny Green Hawk:  This may be the John G. Hawk who patented land in 1860 in Barry County, Missouri.  Other than finding the rootsweb notes above I haven’t been able to find a lot about him, except he had also lived in Tennessee. 

My George Washington Hawk: Born 1824 in Hardy County, Virginia.  Moved with family to Tippecanoe County, Indiana where he married Salana Hudson, daughter of Josiah Hudson and Sarah Ann Cross of Montgomery County, Indiana.  They, George and Salana, moved to Christian County, Illinois, near his father, and later to Nodaway County, Missouri.  At various times four of  George's brothers also lived there (Peter, Solomon, Jesse and Jacob). (My G.W. to the left.)

The other: George Washington Hawk, born either Tennessee or the Carolinas, was on the 1850 census in Osage County, Missouri.  He married Clarinda Boyd in Miller County, Missouri and died before 1860.  Clarinda was living in Miller County in 1860.  I lose her after that.

So there it is for the record.  If I do find proof that my great grandfather died twice I’ll be sure to let you know. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

How to Find Homestead Records

Today I got lucky - accidentally - tracing a distant relative and found a link to his homestead claim near Buffalo, Wyoming - the very same place I workamped two years ago.  It never occurred to me to search for relatives in Buffalo, although I knew I have some living near Sheridan.

Website address:

This goverment site is easy to use - just type in the name - and if you know the state that is a plus.

The results:

Another hint. When you get the file you are searching for, hit the tiny "map" button on the left.  The property will then be highlighted in orange on the map.
And the map example.  

In this case, the exact property isn't shown.  However, since it was in Section 35, that would be the next to the last section on the bottom right.  This property was right on the county line with Rooks County.  My grandmother's family (Hess) lived on the other side of the county line.  Gee, wonder how they met?

The patent tab loads a copy of the official patent document.  This can be ordered for $2.00, by snail mail.  

So I guess I'll be busy today looking for more homesteading records.  

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Advice from my aunt on picking a husband

 My darling, tiny little Aunt Lemie (Lena) was visiting Texas when I had the chance to talk to her about the man I was dating.  With a 20 year age gap I had some concern.  She gave me this advice:  Be sure you don't go all the way through the cane field!

Wait. What? I don’t recall ever seeing a cane field, although once my parents did bring home some sugar cane and were quite excited to share it with us girls.  We were underwhelmed!  A plain old sugar cookie would have been better.  So was "sweet and tasty" the message? I definitely needed more information.

She explained that my grandparents, rather than lecture, used parables to teach their children.  There was the one about the farm down the road where the sons always had some reason they just couldn’t get to the field to help their dad.  One would forget the rake so of course had to go back to the barn to find it. Another was sure he had seen a snake in the field which needed taking care of before any work could be done. But first he had to find a weapon to kill it.  So, back to the barn. That poor farmer was always the last to get his fields planted.  You get the picture.

Back to finding a husband:  Aunt Lemie explained that the best sugar cane grows in the middle of the field.  Everyone probably knows that, but the picky person will keep going down the row looking for the plumpest, juiciest piece.  There’s probably a better one just a little bit farther.  And still a bit farther.  This continues until the person gets to the end of the row, to the part of the field that gets the least moisture. Here the cane is spindly and dry, and not worth harvesting.  Oops.  Again, you get the picture.

My husband and I laugh often about this story.  He’s convinced my family must think I went way too far through the cane patch!  I don’t think that’s true (most all the time, anyway). 

Lena Murrel Bond, b. 1917, d. 2000.  RIP  Because Aunt Lemie lived in California we rarely saw her and that was our loss.  We thought her children the most beautiful and sophisticated of all.  We were farm kids mesmerized by the glamour of the city.