Friday, April 22, 2016

The Reubenites, part 6: Finally!

At last, after many weeks of searching, we arrive at the end of the McNabb line...only to find more mysteries!

Mary Ellen McNabb (1871-1940) was not named in the Callin Family History. There is a possibility that this could be the person I was looking for in the post from a couple of weeks ago; the "Ella, married, dead" who is mentioned in the CFH. (After all, I never found a birth record for "Nancy Ellen" and can't be sure that the record of her marriage to Frank E Hazard is connected to our family of McNabbs.)

For now, I'm sticking with the assumption that "Nancy Ellen" is the four-year-old Ellen listed in the 1870 Census, and that Mary Ellen is another person.

Here's what I know:

  • Michigan Birth and Christenings Index lists "Mary E McNabb" born on 2 February 1871 to Reuben McNabb and Mary.
  • Michigan Death Records list "Mrs. Mary M Streeter" born Febraury 1871 (in Indiana), parents Reuben McNabb and Mary Ferguson; death occurred in Battle Creek, Michigan on 21 April 1940.

Some other interesting things about the Death Record:

The information was provided by Mary's "niece," Mrs. Clarence Hyde. You might remember her as Mary Mable McNabb, the daughter of James M. McNabb from The Reubenites, part 1. She probably knew that her father had been born in Indiana, and that Reuben had moved the family to Michigan after most of the children were born, which would make listing Indiana as Mrs. Streeter's birthplace an understandable mistake.

It also lists Mary as the widow of Lewis Streeter, and states that Mary had been a member of the Battle Creek community for 10 years. I was not able to find any evidence to say when Lewis died, or how long they were married. Mary is described as a retired actress, and there is no evidence that she had any children.

But there's more!

Some other researchers claim that Mary was married in December of 1900, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to a Charles W. Menges (1875-1915). There is a family by that name living in Milwaukee in 1900, with a son named Charles who is the right age. There is a couple by the name of Charles and Mary Menger (sic) living in Milwaukee in 1905 (with a 14-year-old Charles Menger, who might be Charles's son from a previous marriage), as well as a Charles and May (sic) Menges living in Chicago in 1910.

When I went looking for an obituary for a Charles Menges in 1915, I found several newspapers describing a massive steamboat accident (the Eastland) which killed about 1,200 people. One of those identified was a "Lieut. Chas. W. Menges":

Found on

I'm going to have to leave things there, for now, but if any of you has a marriage certificate that could tie this story together, I'd love to know about it! Until I see evidence that Mary Menges was the former Mary McNabb, I won't know for certain.

Oliver Otis McNabb (1874-1931) presents his own set of questions. The record of his birth I found was only an index record in the Michigan, Births and Christenings Index, 1867-1911. It says his mother's name was Rebecca, but since I can't examine the original, I don't know where that comes from. It could be anything from an awkward family secret to a misprint.

Oliver grew up in Grand Rapids, and as a young man he worked as a teamster and a porter. In 1898 he enlisted in the U.S. Army, and served in Company L of the 19th Infantry Regiment. His records indicate that he served during the first part of the Spanish-American War.

According to An Abbreviated and Incomplete History of the 19th Infantry Regiment:

During the Spanish-American War, the 19th was one of the first units dispatched. Transported by train to Mobile and then Tampa, on July 21st the regiment boarded the USS Florida and USS Cherokee to set sail for what was then called "Porto Rico." They spent a year in Ponce performing guard and provost duty, then sailed to New York where they boarded trains to the west coast. On July 27, 1899 they sailed for Manila.
The regiment was broken into company-sized units and participated in many battles with the Insurgents before returning to the U.S. in 1902. 
Oliver was discharged in April of 1899, which probably means he saw duty in Ponce, but got out of the service before the Regiment shipped to the west coast.

A few months after his discharge from the Army, on July 4, 1899, Oliver married Margaret Maud Schravenrand (1875–1953) in Grand Rapids. The marriage did not last long, as Oliver moved to Detroit in 1902, and the couple's divorce was granted in Kent county on 16 January 1903.

The Michigan Divorce Record indicates that the couple had one child at the time of the divorce. Maud remarried in September 1904 to John E Nieboer (1870-1936), and according to the 1910 U.S. Census record for their family, they had two daughters: Margarett (age 4) and Hellen (age 9). There are no records which state plainly that Helen is the daughter of Oliver McNabb, but the evidence strongly suggests that she is. It is also apparent that John Nieboer raised her, and that Oliver was probably not part of her life.

Oliver moved out to California, where he can be found in the 1910 Census married to Elizabeth (b. 1876) and living in San Francisco. In 1920, they had several boarders lodging in their home, but no children; and in 1922, 48- year-old Oliver's health had deteriorated to the point where he was moved to the Sawtelle Veteran's Home in Los Angeles. Records show he had partial paralysis in his right leg. By 1930, he Elizabeth were divorced, and the following year, he died, and was buried in the San Francisco National Cemetery.

(One more tantalizing clue: Oliver's obituary mentions his "loving sister, Mrs. Mary Streeter" - which implies that her acting career may have unfolded in San Francisco. No evidence to support that, though, I'm afraid.)

Maud and John had remained in Grand Rapids with Helen and Margaret. They had three more daughters; one of whom died in infancy in 1910. John died in 1936, and Maud in 1953.

     1. Helen J. Neiboer (1900-1988) was born 28 September 1900 in Grand Rapids. When her mother married John Neiboer, he evidently adopted Helen. She married Ralph David Wheat (1897–1991) on 6 October 1920. Ralph was a core maker in a steel foundry in the 1930s. They raised a family of four children: two sons and two daughters.

     a. Marjorie Elaine Wheat (1921–1998) married Alvin F Hayward (1920–1999) on 17 June 1944. He was a World War II veteran, having served from  22 July 1942 to 4 December 1945.

     b. Donald C. Wheat (1924-2013) married in 1946, and at the time of his death, he and his wife had two sons and a daughter, eight grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren (with two on the way).

     c. Joyce Carolyn Wheat (1927-2011) married John Milo Maat (1920–2002) on 24 January 1948. John was a farmer all his life, and was a veteran of World War II. They have three sons, still living, and had a daughter, Carol Jean Maat (1950–2001).

     d. Karl David Wheat (1931-2004) was a veteran of the Korean war, having serving as a Private First Class in the Marine Corps. He was buried at the Ft. Custer National Cemetery in August, Michigan. His wife survived him.

And there you have it: the last of our McNabbs (that we know of)! There are a lot of gaps I wish I could have filled in, but the records either weren't where I expected them to be, or had mistakes that I couldn't trust. Maybe one of you lovely readers will recognize someone from these posts and drop a note to help me sort it all out. You can comment below or email my Gmail (callintad at gmail dot com).

Next week, we'll be back in Indiana with Mary (Ferguson) McNabb's younger sister, Mildred (Ferguson) Ettinger.

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