Friday, April 29, 2016

Indiana Ettingers

Mildred Ferguson was born to James and Eliza (Callin) Ferguson in 1837. She was the third of what would be eleven children.

That was the year Martin Van Buren succeeded Andrew Jackson as President of the United States. It was also the year that an 18-year-old Queen Victoria took the throne in England, beginning the 63-year reign that we call the Victorian Era today. Closer to home, Michigan was admitted as the 26th state that January, and the city of Chicago was incorporated.

It is unlikely that baby Mildred knew all of this was happening. Her life would have been that of the pioneer farmer's daughter. She and her two older sisters would have surely been busy with chores and tending the growing number of siblings around the farm. At some point, though, her life was uprooted along with all of those brothers and sisters, as the family moved west to Auburn, Indiana.

In 1850, Mildred would have been 13 years old. That year, Vice President Millard Fillmore was sworn in as President after the death of Zachary Taylor. California was admitted as the 31st state. And the "Compromise of 1850" forestalled a civil war, to the relief of many.

The Ettinger family was a numerous bunch, with many branches throughout the Midwest, including a large number who lived in Richland county, Ohio. The family we are looking at today originated in York county, Pennsylvania and came to Scott township in Sandusky county, Ohio, in 1837.

Daniel Ettinger and his wife, the former Catherine Jacobs, arrived in Ohio in time for the birth of their youngest son, William J Ettinger (1837-1920). Daniel eventually settled in Lexington, and taught school in Troy township. He was considered a very intelligent and communicative teacher, and an above average mathematician.

William would have grown up mainly in Lexington. Some time between 1850 and 1860, he left Ohio for Indiana. He would have turned 18 in 1855; perhaps he knew some of the people who had moved west, as the Ferguson family had done just before 1850. However he got there, and whatever motivated him to go, on 8 March 1860, William Ettinger married Mildred Ferguson in DeKalb county, and they set up a home in Auburn before they moved to Waterloo, where he worked as an undertaker and cabinet maker.

Over the following twenty years, the family lived in DeKalb county, and William and Mildred raised eight children; three sons and five daughters:

  • John Clark Ettinger (1860–1927)
  • Clara Ettinger (1862–1931)
  • Flora Ettinger (1866–1941)
  • Lyda Ettinger (1868–1950)
  • Catherine "Cassy" Ettinger (1870–1959)
  • George Daniel Ettinger (1873–1961)
  • William Hurben Ettinger (1879–1933)

The two eldest children did not leave any surviving children of their own, but they led interesting lives. In fact, I found the Indiana newspapers to be very well represented in the database, which is where I learned a great deal about this family.

In January 1911, Mildred was reportedly very ill, and the family gathered together - but I don't know precisely when Mildred died. Years later, in 1920, William's health also failed, and he died in the home of his daughter, Cassy Faucett, at the age of 83, hailed as one of the oldest citizens of Waterloo. 

     1. John Clark Ettinger worked in Waterloo as a boy, and was a fireman in the grist mill operated by Duncan Bros, at the corner of Van Vleck and Sheridan streets.  He left home and began working as a fireman on the Chicago and Alton railroad, until he became an engineer. About 1917 he developed diabetes, but he lived a careful life and regained his health and was able to run on the railroad until a few weeks before his death in January 1927.

John married Mary Magdalene Schlemm (1870–1936) on 26 February 1890, in Sangamon county, Illinois. John and Mary lived in Springfield, Illinois, and she remained in their home after he died. 

     2. Clara Ettinger grew up in Waterloo, and married in June of 1893, at the age of 21. Her husband was Charles H. Rude, who ran a business in Tecumseh, Michigan, about 100 miles away. The young couple moved to Tecumseh, and two years later, they had a son: Harry Ettinger Rude (1895-1918).

Lightening strike at the Rude house
The Waterloo Press, 18 Aug 1910
According to newspaper accounts, Charles abandoned his family when Harry was only six weeks old. In 1900, their family still appeared in the U.S. Census, living in Tecumseh; but in 1910, Clara Rude appeared in Grant, De Kalb county, Indiana, with Harry and her widowed uncle: William's older brother, Reuben Ettinger. At that time, she apparently worked as a dressmaker, but later accounts indicate that Clara and Harry had to rely on relatives for their support, with Harry living for a time with Clara's sister and brother-in-law, Cassy and Dexter Faucett. (This may have been related to the 1910 lightning strike that hit the house Clara, Harry, and Reuben were living in!)

Harry was actually born September 30, 1895, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, but there is some question as to when his parents returned to Michigan and when they separated. He grew up in Indiana, for the most part, attending high school in Waterloo. After completing a course in civil engineering at what is now Northwestern University, he was employed as civil engineer on Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. He enlisted on November 5, 1917, in Chicago, and was assigned to the Medical Corps and was sent to training at Ft. Riley, Kansas. He contracted pneumonia and died on January 5, 1918. He was buried in Waterloo.

Clara eventually moved in with her sister's family, and died at the Faucett home in November 1931. After Clara's death, the Faucetts and her brother, William Hurben Ettinger, sued Harry's estate for $2,000 and $1,500, respectively, to compensate for their expenses incurred over the years. Harry's estate was an insurance settlement from the government.

Next week, I'll look at the Faucett family in more detail, show that their home was used for more than hosting funerals, and see how many Ettinger descendants we can fit into one post!

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