Friday, August 5, 2016

Myers Family B - One of the Cool Kids

Longtime readers know what a deep affection I have for interesting names. You may have also detected (or inherited?) my penchant for "dad jokes" - and this family you're about to study presents many opportunities for me to embarrass myself with both. If you suspect I'm making fun of one of your ancestor's fascinating monikers, I assure you I am only enjoying it in a way that is meant to express affection and appreciation. So please - be cool.

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John S. Cool (1828-1901) was born in Yates county, New York, the son of Philip and Mary Cool. Around 1833, Philip moved his family to Sandusky county, Ohio, but he soon died. Mary took her five youngest children (including John) back to New York, but her eldest son, Daniel, remained in Ohio. In 1839, eleven year old John went back to Ohio where he lived with Daniel until 1843, when John (now fifteen) and two other brothers, Christopher and Isaac, went to De Kalb county, Indiana.

In 1850, John traveled back through Ohio and headed to New Jersey, visiting family. A real, live pioneer visiting the Garden State, twenty-two years old, and with a forest cabin and farm back in Indiana, he must have seemed quite a catch to Sarah A. Wilson (1830-1892) of Sussex county, New Jersey. They married on 8 October 1851, and she returned to De Kalb county with him to raise a family. As the dusty old History of De Kalb County, Indiana put it, "They then came to his forest home and commenced housekeeping in the log cabin. Ten children have been born to them..."

 Amanda A. Myers (1865–1905) was, of course, the second eldest daughter of Welby and Eliza (Ferguson) Myers, who you may recall from previous posts. Amanda married Thomas J Cool (1860–1931) in 1882, not long after the birth of her brother, James Myers.

Tom was the fourth child to be born of the log cabin housekeeping of John and Sarah Cool. He was a farmer in Jackson township, which his father had helped found in 1874. The couple raised had six children before Amanda died in 1905. Her death certificate lists the cause of death as "toxemia," which is an out-dated term for pre-eclampsia, one of the many dangerous risks of pregnancy. She left behind two sons under ten, two daughters in their early teens, and three older children.

After Amanda's death, Tom remained unmarried, but he appears to have sold his farm and moved into Union City. This coincided with the rise of automobiles, and in 1910 Tom worked as a "dray man" for an auto factory.  In 1920, he worked in plumbing, but by 1930, he was working as a painter in an auto factory; probably the Auburn Automobile factory we've seen pop up in previous posts.

Tom died suddenly in 1931 from acute appendicitis. He was 71 years old.

  • I. Helen Cool (1883-1972)
I have to confess that I almost missed Helen altogether when I put this post together. She did not show up in any of the Census records, and it was only after I found an obituary for her brother, Charles, that I even knew to start looking for her.

Once I did, I learned that she was the eldest child of Tom and Amanda, born 22 January 1883, according to most of the reliable records I found. Since Helen was not listed in the household in 1900, I assume that at 17, she may have found work outside the house, possibly as live-in hired help. She married Perry Ralph Davis (1872-1938) on 29 December 1905, in Detroit, and they moved to Toledo, where Perry was the proprietor of his own saloon.

They lived in Toledo until the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1919, put an end to Perry's saloon - at least legally. By 1920, the couple had moved to Long Beach, California, where Perry ran an auto accessories business, and eventually opened his own lunch room. After Perry died, around 1938, Helen stayed in Long Beach, and took work as a seamstress. She lived until 1972, and died in Downey, Los Angeles county, California.
  • II. Charles Lewis Cool (1885–1928)
Charles grew up on his father's farm in Jackson township. He married Katherine "Kate" Gaskill (1890–1968) in April 1908, in Oceania, Michigan, and settled in the Pleasant township, located in Steuben county, not far from Angola, in the top/right-most corner of Indiana.

Kate was the daughter of  Richard J Gaskill (1842–1921) and Sylvina Wolcott (1846–1913), the youngest of their seven children. Their family had helped settle and establish Steuben county, much as the Cool family did De Kalb. She and Charley ran their farm in Pleasant township and had ten children before Charley's sudden death in October of 1928, at the age of 43. One night, he went out to check on his orchard, and was found dead that night at midnight, at the base of one of his trees.

I haven't found any documents to say how dire their situation was, but I know that just one year after Charley's death was Black Tuesday, the onset of what we now call the Great Depression. Farmers were typically not well off, as they were vulnerable to the boom-and-bust cycles of the economy, and rarely had the ability to build up savings. Dying at 43 was probably the most catastrophic thing that could happen to a farmer and his family.

This might explain what happened to this family between 1928 and the 1930 Census. Kate would have been pregnant with their tenth child when Charley died. Another, Henry, may have died in infancy in 1925; but that still left her with eight children who needed homes. There were two old enough to marry, one teen ager, and five who were under ten. Plus the year old baby, Elizabeth. Kate managed to find foster families for most of the younger children, and kept Elizabeth with her when she moved into her brother's home on North Wayne Street in Angola.

Kate eventually remarried, and moved to Bryan, Williams county, Ohio, with her second husband, Forest E Becker (1886–1969). She lived to be 79 years old, and Forest only outlived her by a few months.

     A. Margaret Ila Cool (1908–1987) married Oscar Leo Little (1906–1961) a few years before her father died. Ila and Oscar took in her 10 year old brother, Don, in 1930. Oscar was a farmer, and he and Ila raised one daughter on their farm. He died of a heart attack at the age of 54 in 1961. Ila stayed in their home, surviving until a stroke took her in 1987 at the age of 78.

     1. Betty Jean Little (1924–2003) married Richard A Yanka (1921–1986), who served in the U.S. Army in World War II as a Technical Sergeant. After the war, he completed a chemical engineering degree in 1948, and accepted a position in Chicago, Illinois, with the American Mayes Co. I don't believe the couple had any children.

     B. Gertrude Willidean Cool (1911–1991) married Elmo Earl Sams (1905–1971) on 13 October 1928 - the same month her father died. Elmo farmed and hired out as a laborer during the 1930s, staying mostly in Steuben county; but some time either before or after the Second World War, the family moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, where Elmo found work as a machinist.

The couple raised seven children, two of whom are still living.

     1. Mary Kathryn Sams (1929–2012) was born at the very beginning of the Great Depression, and grew up to marry Eugene Roy Latta (1926–2003) after World War II in Battle Creek. Mary was employed for 42 years at the Weston Biscuit Company (making Girl Scout Cookies) until her retirement in 1989. Two of their children died young, but Mary was survived by a son, three daughters, eleven grandchildren, thirty great-grandchildren.

     a. Diane Kay Latta (1948–1950) died at one year of age.

     b. Gordon E. "Gordie" Latta (1954–1979) died at 25 in Battle Creek, Michigan. I have not found any mention of a cause of death.

     3. Rebecca Jane (Sams) Miller (1931–2002) left behind very little in the records I have found. I know she married, and have her husband's name from one of her sibling's obituaries. I found her 1950 year book photo from Lakeview High school in Battle Creek. And I know that she died in 2002, but have no details. I have found no other information about her husband, so I don't know if he is still living.

     5. Charles Lewis Sams (1936–2000) was a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving in 1955 and 1956. After 1990 he lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan; he died in 2000 and was buried in the Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens in Grand Rapids.

     6. Earline Sue (Sams) Eldred (1940–2015) married on 1 March 1958, and her husband is still living. She worked at Hastings Aluminum and Hastings City Bank until retirement. After that, she and her husband had a trailer at Upper Crooked Lake, and enjoyed fishing. When she died Earline left behind her husband, four children, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

     7. Robert Eugene Sams Sr (1944–2011) graduated from Springfield High School in 1962, attended Western Michigan University, and proudly served in the USAF. He worked in the manufacturing and auto industry until moving to Las Vegas in 1990 where he was a 21 year employee of the Gold Strike Hotel & Casino. He was married to Jeanne Hilyard (1943–1981) about 1965, and they had four children, one of whom survives. After Jeanne died, Bob remarried, and his second wife is still alive, as well. I know very little about Bob's deceased children beyond their names and dates:

       a. Melissa Ann "Missa" Sams (1967–1997)
       b. Robert Eugene Sams Jr (1969–1975)
       c. Samantha A Sams (1988–1989)

     C. Thomas Richard Cool (1914–1977) was about 14 years old when his father died, and Thomas went to live with a foster family: Alva and Myrtle Masten. They remained close throughout Thomas's life. He married, and his wife survived him, but they did not have any children together.

     D. Don Charles Cool (1918–1994) went to live with his older sister, Ila Margaret, and her new husband and baby. His little niece was only a few years younger than he was. When Don grew up, he married Maxine Sanders (1918–1966) in February 1938. At first, they lived with her parents on their farm. They had four sons, two still living, before Maxine died in 1966.

     1. Lanny D Cool (1938–2010) worked for GE from 1966 until his retirement from Lockheed Martin in 2000. He served in the United States Air National Guard. He was married in 1961, and his wife survived him, along with two sons, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

     2. Kevin Lee Cool (1956–1979) was only 23 when he was in an auto accident that fractured his spine. He was a graduate of the Hamilton Community school.

     E. D. O. Cool (1920-1937) and his brother, Ted, went to live with elderly sisters, Rose and Irene Crain, after their father's death. D. O. was only 17 years old when he was killed in a car accident. He was described as an industrious young man, well liked by all.

     F. Ted Eugene Cool (1922–1997) graduated from Hamilton High School in 1941, earning his bachelor of science degree from Findlay College, and his master of art from Ball State University, Muncie. He served in World War II, and then taught school in Eaton and Selma in Delaware County.

He married Janice Lee Buller (1931–2013) 17 November 1951 in Eaton, Indiana, and they raised one daughter, who is still living. The couple lived in Muncie until 1995 when they moved to Attica, in Fountain county, Indiana. Janice was employed nearly 40 years with Ball State University, retiring in 1995, as head secretary in the math department.

     F. Ruth Marie (Cool) Wilson (1923–1987) went to live in the home of John and Amy Sowle after her father's death, when she was five years old. She may have also lived with Alva and Myrtle Masten, as her maiden name appeared as "Masten" in one record that I ran across.

She married, and she and her husband raised at least one daughter. Ruth died at age 64, but I haven't been able to find enough information about her husband to know whether he is still living.

     1. Sandra Ann (Wilson) English (1943-1998) was married several times, and I think she may have had at least one child; but the only thing that is certain is that she died very young.

     G. Henry Cool (b. 1925) presents a bit of a mystery; there is definitely a birth certificate for him, and the obituaries I have found for his siblings indicate that he predeceased them, but I haven't found any other records. I'm inclined to believe that he died in infancy, as some other researchers have concluded.

     H. Kenneth Leroy Cool (1926–2001) went to live with his older sister, Gertrude, and his brother-in-law, Elmo Sams, after their father died. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War, and definitely left a bride behind who visited his family in 1953; but I have not been able to track down any further information about his family until the records of his 1987, at age 64. That wife survives him.

     I. Elizabeth Jean (Cool) Kelly (1927–1993) was only a year old when her father died, and she went with her mother to live with her aunt and uncle; Kate Cool's brother, Jason (or Jay) and his wife Hattie Gaskill. Elizabeth also married multiple times, according to the records I've been able to find; she moved west at some point, and as best as I can tell, she married her last husband in 1975, and by 1977 they were living in Los Angeles, where she died not quite twenty years later.

     J. Charles Cool Jr (b. 1929) may be the most tragic part of this story. Once again, I only have a birth certificate, which clearly puts his birth date on 19 March 1929, and names his parents; but while he should be with Elizabeth and their mother on the 1930 Census, he is not. I suspect he also died in infancy, adding to the tragedy of his father's death a few months before.

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       Once again, we're short on time and space, and we've only covered the first two of Amanda and Tom Cool's children. Depending on how extensive each of their families are, we may need a few more weeks to look at the rest!
  • III. Walter Perry Cool (1887–1979)
  • IV. Grace E Cool (1890–1984)
  • V. Bessie L Cool (1893–1980)
  • VI. James Don Cool (1896–1972)
  • VII. Frankie L Cool (1902–1977)

As always, please drop a comment below, send an email, or join the Callin Family History Facebook group if you are related to any of the people in this post. If you are, then you belong in the Callin Family History, too!

Until next time - be Cool!

(I couldn't didn't help that we're going through a heat wave this week in Maryland.)

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