Sunday, August 27, 2017

Great Scott: the Difficult Family

As much as I dislike posting incomplete information, I'm afraid I will have to leave out a lot of details this week. Strangely, I always feel like I write more when I know less about a family. Maybe that's my way of explaining what little I do know since I can't always tell a complete story.

But, to continue where we left off last time, I introduce:

II. Charles A Scott (1858–1940)

Born on 28 March 1858, in Iowa, his parents were George Scott and Lucetta Beach. His older sister, Violetta, was also born in Iowa. The family soon moved back to Illinois where his younger siblings were born, and they all grew up on a farm near Harrison, Winnebago County, Illinois.

Charles married Elisabeth C "Lizzie" Cowan (1862–1957) in 1881 when he was 23 years old. Lizzie was born in Illinois and raised in Harrison by her parents, James S Cowan (b. 1802) and Elmira Vail (b. 1821). James was an Irish immigrant who arrived in the United States during the 1830s, so it is highly unlikely that he was related to the other Cowan family discussed in an earlier post.

Charles and Lizzie had four children in 12 years, all of whom were born in the Harrison and Rockford area. Charles ran an "express and feed barn" at 314 Elm street in Rockford during the early 1900s. In 1910 the family appeared in Paris, Howard County, Iowa, where the household included their two younger sons, Harold and Ray, and Lizzie's widowed sister, Hattie. By 1920 they were living in Walhalla, Pembina County, North Dakota, within a few miles of the Canadian border.

Charles died on 11 April 1940, in Walhalla, at the age of 82. Lizzie lived until 9 July 1957 and died in nearby Mountain. They were buried together in the Walhalla Hillside Cemetery.

     A. Emery Scott (b. 1884) was born on 26 March 1884, in Harrison, Illinois. He worked for his father, and he married Marian Louise Schuster (b. 1892) on 20 April 1909. They had one daughter together. According to the 1910 Census, the three of them lived in Rockford, on Mulberry Street, and Emery worked as a barber.

I don't know when, but evidence would suggest that Emery and Marian's marriage did not last for more than ten years. There are four records in the Illinois, County Marriages, 1800-1940 database that say he married Fahy William (b. 1895) on 9 February 1922. They had one son together.

Unfortunately, Emery's story becomes difficult to follow after this. He and Fahy are listed in a city directory in Fond du Lac in 1926, where his occupation is given as "capt Samaritan Mission." In 1932, Fahy is listed as the wife of "Edw" living in Milwaukee. Ten years later, Emery shows up in Bethany, Harrison County, Missouri, where his draft registration says he is unemployed; it lists someone named Jim Beaver as his point of contact. That is the more recent record I have been able to track down for Emery Scott.

     1. Irene E Scott (b. 1910) appears only in the 1910 U.S. Census. Her mother appears there, and in the Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920 database. It is possible that one or both of them died, or that Marian remarried; Irene may appear under another name, as I don't know what the middle initial "E" stood for.

     2. William Robert Scott (1925–2000) is listed in the U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 where both of his parents' names are given, as well as his date and place of birth: 27 February 1925 in Brownwood, Brown County, Texas, USA.

Because his parents were listed in Milwaukee in 1932, I looked for him there in 1940 and found a 13-year-old William R. Scott in the household of Charles and Fahy Rundall (with those spellings) living at 810 South Second Street. In 1946, he graduated from Boys Trade And Tech High School in Milwaukee.

I do not know where he died, because the Social Security record does not say, but before that, the last record I found shows William still living in Milwaukee in 1952. That leaves a 48-year gap in his story.

     B. Louis H Scott (1889–1974) was born on November 23, 1889, in Rockford, Illinois. He married Althea Elizabeth Prindle (1891–1983) in 1909 in Boone County, Illinois. Althea was the daughter of Stephen Arthur Prindle (1862–1939) and Drusilla "Mamie" Leach (1871–1942) and was born in Aurora, Buchanan, Iowa. They had five children between 1910 and 1920, several of whom were born in North Dakota.

The Scott family appeared in Owen Township on the 1910 Census, but the following year saw the birth of their daughter, Dorothy, in Walhalla. Althea's parents, Steve and Mamie, had recently divorced, and in 1910, Steve's Census record shows him living in Walhalla already, while Mamie is listed as a housekeeper in the Owen Township home of George T. Johns, whom she would soon marry.

A Louis Scott appears in the 1918 City Directory for Williston, North Dakota, at the other end of the state from Walhalla, where his business is listed simply as "billiards." I suspect that this is not the same Louis Scott, but there is no way to tell from the information at hand.

In 1920 the family is back in Rockford, where Louis works as a foreman in a lock factory. Louis and Althea remained in Rockford throughout the 1920s and appeared there in the 1930 Census, too. However, they divorced at some point in the 1930s, and both remarried. Althea married Joseph Nichols Udell (1890–1953) sometime between 1934 and 1937; Louis married Mary Jane Nicholl (1881–1970).

As an odd side note, Joseph Udell's first wife was Alice Amanda Brooks (1894-1940). She appeared on the 1940 Census, listed as Alice Udell with marital status shown as Divorced. That Census page was dated April 1940, and Alice died the following month. In her death record, which is indexed in the Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 database, she is described as a housewife and divorced, but the record lists her spouse's name as "Lovis Scott." I can't view the original document online, but I assume that is a transcription error for "Louis."

After Louis married Mary Jane, we find a record of her naturalization in 1941; she was born in England, and other records indicate she arrived in the United States before 1935. They remained together in Rockford throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Mary Jane died in 1970, and Louis in 1974. They were buried together in the North Burritt Cemetery in Winnebago County.

     1. Glen Edwin Scott (1910–1968) was born 9 April 1910, in Winnebago County, Illinois, when his father, Louis, was 20 and his mother, Althea, was 18. He was married three times but left no children behind. He was a World War II veteran, serving in England and Belgium, and he was president of Local 1061 UAW at Brown Manufacturing Company, where he was employed.

His first marriage was to Alma Josephine Weaver (1914–2010), around 1932; they divorced in the early 1940s. He remarried Mildred L. Hansen on 21 December 1945, but they were not together for very long. On May 7, 1947, in Chicago, he married Ellen "Susie" Overocker, head of the Classified department of the Woodstock Daily Sentinel, who survived him.

In January 1968, he was blinded by the headlights of an approaching vehicle and when he swerved to the right, his car struck the parked car. Ellen took him to the hospital, and he seemed to be alright. But he died on July 2, 1968, in Rockford, Illinois, at the age of 58, after what his obituary described as a "long illness," and he was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Rockford.

     2. Dorothy Elizabeth Scott (1911–1995) was born on October 5, 1911, in Walhalla, North Dakota. She married Charles F Rowe (b. 1908) in 1929 and they had one son together. She later married Marvin Homer Haycraft (1910–1967).

Dorothy's records don't ever quite say what I would expect them to say, and I suspect there is more to her story than I can see, but I hate making a lot of guesses to fill in the blanks. For example, there is a record of her marriage to Charles Rowe indexed in Boone county in the Illinois, County Marriages, 1800-1940 database. Yet, she appears in her parents' household on the 1930 Census under the name "Dorothy Scott," listed as married.

I don't really know when Dorothy married Marvin Haycraft, either. While there is a marriage record showing they married on 31 May 1952, in Winnebago, Illinois, Dorothy and Marvin are listed as husband and wife in the 1940 Census, along with her son Richard Rowe; so I don't know when they actually became a couple.
North Burritt Cemetery

Dorothy and Marvin retired to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the 1950s, and Marvin presumably died there in 1967. Dorothy died on 9 June 1995 in Rockford, Illinois, at the age of 83, and they were both buried in North Burritt Cemetery, Winnebago County, Illinois.

     a. Richard Arthur Rowe (1930–1990) was born on 18 January 1930, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He lived in Rockford, Illinois, and was attending East High School in 1942.

He died on October 4, 1990, in Winnebago, Illinois, at the age of 60, and was buried in the North Burritt Cemetery. His marker calls him "beloved son and father," so I hope to hear from his descendants some day.

     3. Evelyn May Scott (1913–1939) was born 15 March 1913 in Leyden, Pembina County, North Dakota. She grew up in Winnebago county, Illinois, and married Russell Elmer Shores (1913–1967).

She died at 26 when she crashed her car into a tree on 23 August 1939.

     4. Harry L Scott (1915–1981) was born in North Dakota on 11 April 1915. He married before 1940, and he worked as a press operator. He and his wife, Dorothy, lived briefly in Waterloo, Black Hawk County, Iowa, but returned to Rockford area by 1941, appearing in the city directory for Beloit, Rock County, Wisconsin.

Harry enlisted when the war broke out, and served in the U.S. Army from 1 October 1942 through 30 October 1945. After his death on 14 February 1981, he was buried in Arlington Memorial Park Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois.

     5. Mamie Drucella Scott (1917–1918) was born in Leyden, Pembina County, North Dakota on 21 May 1917. The family then moved back to Rockford, Illinois; sadly, Mamie died on 22 October 1918 and was buried there on 24 October.

     C. Harold Scott (1891–1985) was born on 30 November 1891, in Rockford, Illinois. His family lived in Paris, Iowa, in 1910, and he married Beulah Bell Kintz (1895–1992) in about 1911. She was the oldest child of Delbert Ilyf Kintz (1872–1957) and Mary Adeline "Mamie" Clark (1877–1942).

Harold and Beulah relocated to North Dakota around the time the rest of the Scott family did, and they had two sons and three daughters between 1912 and 1921.

Harold was a farmer and eventually worked for the Northern Potato Company in Walhalla.
He died on December 29, 1985, in Leonard, North Dakota, at the age of 94, and was buried in Walhalla, North Dakota. Beulah died 1 February 1992 at the age of 97.

     1. Paul I Scott (1912–1979) was born in Iowa on 23 September 1912 and grew up on the farm in Walhalla, North Dakota. He married Amy L Bailey (1914–2003) on 15 September 1934 in Brown County, South Dakota. Her parents were William George Bailey (1878–1965) and Naomi Olivia Petrehn (1885–1974) of McIntosh County, North Dakota.

They stayed in the Dakotas until at least 1940, when they were living in Ipswich, South Dakota. They had a son, still living, and a daughter. In 1943 the family moved to Vancouver, Washington.

Paul was an electrician, and Amy worked in the accounting department at Kaiser Hospital in Portland for 18 years before retiring in 1970. After being together 45 years, Paul died in 1979, and Amy died Tuesday, 2 December 2003, in Vancouver. She was 89.

     a. Lynn Paula Scott (1936–1964) was born 20 October 1936 and graduated from Vancouver High school in 1954. She married John Carlton "Jack" Keel Sr (1936–2010) on 17 July 1957.

At the age of 18, Jack had joined the Army and served as a Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne in Korea from December of 1956 through January of 1958. After returning, Jack moved to Camas, Clark County, Washington, and began his career as a barber on Main Street. He worked in the same shop for over 40 years.

Lynn only saw the first few of those years before she died in Portland, Oregon, in 1964. They had several children, who are all still living. John remarried, and

     2. Viola Scott (1915–1934) may have died on 28 November 1934, but I have been unable to find any records to say so. Other researchers indicated that was the case in their trees.

     3. Donald Harold Scott (1917–1989) was born on January 4, 1917, in Walhalla, North Dakota. He married Wilma Leona Kelley (1918–1980) about 1938, and they had one son and three daughters, all still living.

The family moved to Williston, North Dakota, in 1953 and to Glasgow, North Dakota, in 1957. Donald was the custodian for Glasgow schools, and then owned and managed Eddie's Quick Shop from 1974 to 1982, when he retired. Wilma died in 1980, and he died on August 12, 1989, in Hill, Montana, at the age of 72, and was buried in Lakota Cemetery in Nelson County, North Dakota.

     4. Myrtle Scott (b. 1918)
     5. Bernice Scott (b. 1921)

The two youngest daughters of Harold and Beulah Scott both appear in the household with their parents and siblings on the 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census, and in the 1925 record in the North Dakota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1885, 1915, 1925 database. Myrtle also appears in the 1920 U.S. Census. There are plenty of records for women with similar names and birth dates scattered throughout the country, but in every case so far, I've had to rule these records out as a lead because either Scott was their married name, or because the record lists information that contradicts what little I already know.

     D. Ray Scott (1896–1958) was born 15 October 1896, in Harrison, Illinois, when his father, Charles, was 38 and his mother, Lizzie, was 34. We have a pretty thorough record of his service in World War I, but less detail about the rest of his life. He appears to have worked in construction, living in different North Dakota towns, but usually residing with his parents, or at least listing them as his permanent address.

Ray was inducted at Cavalier, the county seat of Pembina County, North Dakota, on 29 March 1918. He was sent to Camp Dodge, Iowa, and served in Headquarters Company, 137th Infantry, until 30 January 1919. The rest of his time in service, he was attached to Company D, 137th Infantry, and he shipped overseas aboard the ship Missanabie, serving in Europe from 3 May 1918 to 23 April 1919.

Ray's unit was part of the massive Meuse-Argonne Offensive and served in the Defensive Sector at Gerardmer (Alsace) and Grange-le-Comte (Lorraine). Ray was discharged from Camp Dodge, Iowa, on 6 May 1919, as a Private.

He died on 18 March 1958 in Imperial, California, at the age of 61, and was buried in the Walhalla City Cemetery back in Walhalla, North Dakota.

 - -- --- -- - 

And there you have it; I try to do right by the people I am researching, and tell their stories as completely as I can. My hope is to piece together something accurate that speaks well of them, but when I go in knowing as little as I did with some of these folks, I worry that I missed something important, or that I uncovered something painful.

Either way, my hope is to get to the truth and remember them well.

As always, I appreciate any comments or corrections from family members, however distant we might be. If you recognize any of the Scott family and want to learn more, please contact me. You can comment below, email my Gmail account at "callintad at gmail dot com" (you know, with the @ and the . in the right places!), or follow the link at the top of the right column to join our Callin Family History Facebook group.

I'm always delighted to share what I have or to learn more.

Friday, August 25, 2017

When Grandma Played the Organ

In his 1995 book, The Five Love Languages, pastor Gary Chapman outlined five ways to express and experience love that he called "love languages": gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch. Everyone expresses themselves in each of those five languages to some extent, but almost everyone favors one above the others. The morning of August 21st, at age 91, my family lost someone who expressed herself through acts of service more than almost anyone else I have ever known.

When Alberta Jane Tuttle was born on August 29, 1925, in Summit, New Jersey, her father, Alfred, was 32, and her mother, Edna, was 30. Alberta and her big sister, Lyle, were raised in New Jersey. Their father, who had served as a bugler in the infantry for three years before World War I, worked as a manager for a chemical plant during the Depression. Their mother was a tough-but-sweet homemaker who had supported her five sisters before marrying Alfred; I wrote a bit about Edna's family in an earlier post.

Alberta "Bert" Tuttle
Columbia H.S.
Alberta graduated from Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey, Class of 1943. The Second World War was well underway, and a number of her classmates and faculty enlisted; the school yearbook was full of advertisements for war bonds and calls for victory.

At the end of World War II, Alberta married a tall, handsome sailor named Russell Hudson Clark on March 2, 1946, in Irvington, New Jersey, in a service held at the Reformed Church in America by Rev. Harry A. Olsen. The young couple honeymooned in Washington, DC, before moving out to Middletown, Ohio, but they soon moved back to New Jersey.

In fact, movement would turn out to be a defining characteristic of the household of Bert and Russ Clark.

When I showed an interest in family history, Grandma sent me a partial list of all of the places they had lived. She could only remember 33 moves between 1946 and 1984, but she assured me that there were more. They moved from New Jersey to Texas, to Arkansas, back to Texas; to California, Arizona, back to California; to Colorado, followed by a trip to visit New Jersey before moving back to Little Rock, Arkansas - and that only brings us up to 1962!

Alberta & Russ
2 March 1946
Somewhere between the end of the war and becoming a father, Russ became a preacher, and many of these moves were to follow his calling. I have written before about him, describing him as A Fire in the Desert. Bert went with him everywhere he traveled. Along the way, they had three children together, and I am sure that they have stories to share about growing up in so many places.

Russ would find work in a place, and settle for a while. He might find a church that was looking for a pastor, and they might go live in that community. Alberta could play the organ, and so she would accompany the choir or the congregation, and he would preach.  But there was always another call from elsewhere that he needed to follow, and she would go with him. Eventually, the kids grew up and it was just the two of them, always traveling.

It didn't matter where they were, whether you were in their home or they were in yours; Grandma would be busy. She loved to take care of her family. She was forever bustling around the kitchen, cleaning up, playing with the children, singing - always showing us all how much she loved us through those acts of service.

I discovered a few years ago that one of Grandma's ancestors, a surgeon named John Green, was a founding member of the First Baptist Church of Providence, along with the famous Roger Williams, who also established the colony that would become Rhode Island. Baptists place the conscience of the individual at the center of their faith, and Williams's conscience drove him to avoid organized religion - even if he was the one who organized it. In many ways, I could see Grandpa as a spiritual successor to Williams, always seeking, always following his calling. Grandma, as a committed Christian wife, following her own conscience just as fiercely as he followed his.

I know how important it is to my surviving family to mention the fact that Grandma was a strong Christian. She certainly was that, without question. A few years ago, I was going through some intensely difficult troubles, and she called me to make sure I was okay. I could tell that it broke her heart that we were 3,000 miles apart and that she couldn't come over and help with the children or do something to show her love. All she could do was ask, "Have you considered just giving the problem to Jesus?" Being a humanist who has no belief in the supernatural, I couldn't honestly tell her that I had. But being a humanist also means that I treasured the fact that she would dive in and exhaust herself trying to make things better for everyone around her before finally accepting that there were some things she could not fix.

That ferocious, patient love was what made her a great lady.

That philosophical stuff would have all been beyond my understanding when I was young. All I knew when I was a kid was that seeing Grandma and Grandpa Clark was an adventure. They always had a new house in a new place, or if they were between houses, they would have a different motorhome or trailer to live in. As we got older, we learned what they meant by "disability" and "fixed income" when they talked with the other adults at dinner.

She wouldn't complain, but sometimes we could tell that all of the moving around was hard on her. She would talk about finding a church home, putting down roots, and having a house she could call her own. Sometimes they even stayed on a piece of property long enough to build a house, and she could get her organ out of storage and set it up in her living room. I particularly loved the visits when she had room for her organ because she would play and sing those old revival hymns that made such a grand first impression on the churches they visited.

After Grandpa died in 2002, Grandma's life was not the same. How could it be after 54 years of life together? There was a brief time when we wondered what she would do next, and how she would adjust. We worried, but we should have known that she would find a way to feel useful.

Alberta and Sherwin, 2004
In September 2004, she then married Sherwin Nichols. In many ways, Sherwin reminded me of Grandpa; he had mobility issues, and some severe health problems, but he loved my Grandma, and most importantly, he gave her someone to take care of again with her ferocious intensity. She finally had a home where she could install her organ in a front room. By this time, it was old and the circuitry inside was fragile, so it didn't get played much, but at least it had a stable place to rest.

When Sherwin died in 2008, he and his family were generous enough to leave her his house and enough to live on. Grandma married a third time, once again choosing a preacher, but this time, she joked, she was marrying a much younger man - he was only 85! They were planning to buy a house and move to the north of Phoenix to get away from the heat and the city.

In 2011 her sister, Lyle, died after battling dementia for several years. Having watched Grandpa battle with Alzheimer's Disease before his death, Grandma told us that biggest fear was that she would lose her mind and not know who any of us were before she died. She worried that any time she forgot a name or misplaced something that it was a sign, but as far as I know, she was still fully herself when she began suffering from an elevated heart rate last week and went to the hospital.

She died at four o'clock in the morning on August 21, 2017, in a hospice in Surprise, Arizona, at the age of 91 years, 11 months, and 21 days. I will always remember her for her music, her laughter, and her constant, steady service to everyone she loved.

Grandpa & Grandma Clark, bound for their D.C. honeymoon

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Rockford Files - George Scott

Since announcing that I identified the family of John and Sarah (Callin) Scott, I have been working on tracing their descendants. Beginning with their eldest son, here is the next chapter of their story!

Winnebago County in 1837
courtesy of Wikimedia
George Scott was born on 1 August 1827, in Richland County, Ohio. His father, John, was 28 and his mother, the former Sarah Callin, was 19. They had been married for almost four years, and George was their first child. George was five years old when his brother, James, was born; he was nine when his sister, Sarah, was born in 1836.

Three years later, in 1839, the Scott family moved from Ohio to Illinois. This would have been a journey of nearly 420 miles on the modern US-30W, but the family likely took a longer route, as evidenced by the fact that another sister, Rebecca, was born in Michigan that year.

Winnebago County, Illinois, was formed in January of 1836, and in 1837 its boundaries were changed to what they are today. Several of these related Scott families settled in and around Burritt Township, where George's grandfather, Joseph Scott, would be buried around 1851. George's father established a farm in the unincorporated area of Harrison, northwest of the young city of Rockford, where he and Sarah lived out their days.

North Burritt Cemetery
George married Lucetta P Beach (1833–1912) in 1851. Lucetta's parents were Asher Beach (1800–1860) and Mercy Yaw (1797–1854) of New York and Vermont, respectively. Lucetta was born in New York, and Asher Beach relocated his family to Illinois in the 1840s.

After their marriage, George and Lucetta lived for a few years in Iowa, where their two eldest children were born. They appeared in the 1856 Census in Wayne, Mitchell County, Iowa, but by 1860, they were back in Harrison, Illinois.

The couple had five children in 10 years, and George farmed until he retired. He died on 10 September 1905, having lived a long life of 78 years, and Lucetta followed him on 4 November 1912, at the age of 79. They were buried together in the North Burritt Cemetery in Winnebago, Illinois.

In this post, we'll be looking at the descendants of their daughter:

I. Violetta Scott (1856–1928)

Was the oldest child of George and Lucetta. Born in Iowa on 12 February 1856, Violetta grew up in Harrison, Illinois, on her father's farm. She married Nathan H Knight (1851–1919) on 30 December 1874 in Rock County, Wisconsin, just north of the Illinois state line.

Nathan was born in Maine, and his family moved to Winnebago County during the 1850s, after his birth. His parents were Peter Knight (1794–1865) and Ann Hall Knight (1816–1897). He and Violetta farmed and raised five daughters in Harrison township. After Nathan's death, Violetta moved in with her daughters who were living in Shirland. When she died, she was buried next to Nathan in the North Burritt Cemetery.

     A. Lucetta A Knight (1876–1885) was named after her grandmother, but she died at only nine years of age.

     B. Elsie Leah Knight (1879–1938) was born on 12 January 1879, in Harrison, Illinois. She married Frank Horace Austin (1876–1954) on 5 June 1901, in Winnebago, Illinois.

Two of Frank's brothers, Albert and Ferdinand, would also marry two of Elsie's sisters, Iva and Blanche. The Austins' parents were Edward D. Austin (1843–1929) and Adelaide Elizabeth "Addie" Belcher (1856–1944). Edward was born in Troy, New York, and enlisted in the Union Army, first as a private in Company C of the 35th Regiment, New York Infantry and later as a sergeant in Company K of the 14th Regiment, New York Heavy Artillery. Addie Belcher was born in Lenawee County, Michigan, and married Edward in Tekamah, Nebraska, on 30 September 1873.

The young Austin family moved quite a bit; Frank was born in Nebraska, Albert in Iowa, and after living briefly in Kansas, they settled in Missouri, where the three younger Austin siblings—Edward, Ferdinand, and Lena—were born. Records show that Edward Austin was baptized a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on 9 June 1895 at Clarksdale, DeKalb, Missouri; but from at least 1900 onward, Census records show the family living in either Rockton, Illinois, or South Beloit, Wisconsin.

It isn't completely clear from the records, but I believe Frank and Elsie were divorced sometime before 1930. Elsie appears in the 1930 U.S. Census in Rockford, where she is listed as Divorced and living with her sister, niece, and grand-nephew. However, city directories for Beloit, Wisconsin, show an Elsie and Frank Austin living in that town in the 1930s; confusingly, there is another Frank Austin listed, too, with a wife named Edna.

Whatever their marital situation may have been, the couple did not have any children, as far as I can tell. Elsie died on 15 December 1938, in Rockford, Illinois, at the age of 59, and was buried in the North Burritt Cemetery in Winnebago, Illinois. Frank lived until 1954, died in Beloit, and was buried in the Rockton Township Cemetery in Rockton.

     C. Iva Viola Knight (1881–1923) was born in May 1881 in Illinois, and she spent practically all of her life in the vicinity of Harrison. She married Albert Jesse Austin (1878–1941) on December 30, 1908, and they had four children in their 12 years together. She died in Shirland, on 12 March 1923, at the age of 41, most likely from complications that arose during childbirth.

The year before, Albert had moved the family to Mattoon, Wisconsin, but it seems that when Iva was close to having their fourth child, she went to Shirland to have the baby and left her sister, Elsie, in Mattoon to care for the other three children. After receiving word of his wife's death on 14 March, it took Albert until March 20 to arrive in Rockford due to deep snow and storms. Other than the newspaper clipping that recorded this account, there are no other records of a fourth child born to Iva and Albert.

After Iva's death, Albert moved back to Rockton, where he died in 1941, and was buried in the Rockton Township Cemetery.

     1. Beulah Marie Austin (1910–1968) was born on 13 June 1910, in Rockton, Illinois, and she was 13 years old when her mother died. By the time of the 1930 Census, she was married to a man named O'Rourke and had a son, who may still be living. That first marriage did not last more than a couple of years, and she married John Rollie Henderson (1897-1969) on 10 November 1934, in Rockford, Illinois. She died on 30 September 1968, in Monroe, Wisconsin, at the age of 58, and was buried in her hometown. John died the following year, on 13 November 1969.

     2. Kenneth Donald Austin (1915–2006) was born 24 October 1915, in Harrison. He joined the U.S. Army in 1941 and served with the 21st General Hospital, where he saw service in North Africa and the European Theater. He was married on 5 September 1942, at Fort Benning, Georgia, and his wife survives him, along with two of their three children, five grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.

After an honorable discharge in 1945, Kenneth worked at Beloit Iron Works until 1962, then relocated to Littleton, Colorado, and retired in 1995 to Kerrville, Texas.

His son, Rodney Craig Austin (1951–1980), enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and died in a non-hostile incident at the age of 29. He was a petty officer second class and was buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.

     3. Leonard Jesse Austin (1920–1991) was born on 29 May 1920, in Rockford, Illinois. He was two years old when his mother, Iva, died. He served in the U.S. Army from 14 April 1942 through 1 November 1943.

Jesse married twice after the war, first to Edna May Needham (1924–2008) in 1943, then to Georgia Kathryn Mathis (1922–1996) on 16 October 1948 in Joplin, Missouri. As far as I can tell, there were no children from either marriage. He married again, briefly, in 1971.

He died on June 11, 1991, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, at the age of 71, and was buried there in the Fort Smith National Cemetery.

     D. Alice Bessie Knight (1884–1958) was born in August 1884 in Illinois. She married George Graham Helmer (1877–1943) on 31 January 1911 in Winnebago, Illinois. They divorced sometime during the 1920s, and she married Edward Reckinger (1901-1977) in 1936 in Boone, Illinois. She died on December 24, 1958, in Winnebago, Illinois, at the age of 74, and was buried in Belvidere, Illinois.

     E. Blanche Nathalia Knight (1889–1971) was born on 14 September 1889, in Illinois, and her story was difficult to piece together. I found records of her marriage in the Illinois, County Marriages, 1800-1940 database that indicate that she married Ferdinand J Austin (1885–1929) on 3 July 1912. He was better known as John F Austin. They had a son, Donovan, but divorced rather soon after that.

Ferdinand (or John F., as he appears in the Illinois, County Marriages, 1800-1940 database) married Bessie Marie (Burdick) Austin (b. 1885) on 8 September 1916. Bessie was the widow of John's brother, Allen Edward Austin, who had died on 16 January 1916.

Blanche and Donovan Austin appeared in her mother's household in Shirland on the 1920 Census, but she was soon remarried to Ora Lewis Critser (1882–1944), a widowed tenant farmer. Blanche and Ora had three more children during the 1920s and moved across the state line to Clinton, Rock County, Wisconsin. By the time of the 1940 Census, they were divorced, as well, and Blanche had relocated with the children to Cherry Valley, in Winnebago county, Illinois.

Blanche eventually followed her sons when they moved out to California. She died on November 4, 1971, in Placer County, California, at the age of 82, and was buried in Roseville, California.

     1. Donovan Douglas Austin (1914–1976) was born on 30 October 1913 in Harrison, Illinois. He grew up in his step-father's home from about seven years of age. He married Frieda Alvina Berger (1913–2000) in 1936. They had four daughters together but divorced not long after the birth of the youngest. By 1950 he had remarried Vera Josephine Anderson (1918–2013), who had recently divorced her first husband, Ralph L Stegg (1915-2008).

Donovan and Vera moved out to Roseville, California, in Placer County. Donovan died there in 1976, just five years after his mother's death. Frieda remained in Cherry Valley, where she raised their daughters by herself. She died on 1 August 2000 and was buried in the Cherry Valley Cemetery.

     i. Dolores Edna Austin (1937–1994) was born on 22 March 1937, in Rockford, Illinois. She graduated from East High School in Rockford in 1956. She died on January 19, 1994, in Cherry Valley, Illinois, at the age of 56, and was buried there.

     iii. Alice Beverly Austin Brown (1940–2015) was born 29 April 1940 in Cherry Valley, Illinois. She was married in 1958 in Cherry Valley, and she and her husband moved to the Monroe, Wisconsin, area where they lived and raised a family. She retired from Advance Transformer after 25 years. Alice loved horses and enjoyed music. She was survived by her husband, four daughters, two sons, 17 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren.

     2. Leo D Critser (1922–1972) was born on 1 August 1921, in Illinois. He attended Rockford High School in 1939 and hoped to enter the state teacher's college at DeKalb. He enlisted in the Army on 26 August 1942. After the war, he lived and worked around Rockford. He died on 8 June 1972, in San Francisco, California, at the age of 50, and was buried in Roseville, California, next to his mother, Blanche.

     3. Elsworth Orrin Critser (1923–1998) was born on 13 September 1923, in Harrison, Illinois. He was in the Army from 12 November 1924 through 11 February 1944, and after the war, he married and had three daughters, still living. He worked as a heavy equipment mechanic, and after living there for six years, he died on November 9, 1998, in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the age of 75. He was buried in Belvidere, Illinois.

     4. Faye Virginia Critser Garner (1929–2017) was born on 16 January 1929, in Rock County, Wisconsin. She was married on 24 November 1948, in Winnebago County, Illinois. She and her husband raised four daughters. She died on 13 August 2017, in Loves Park, Illinois, at the age of 88.

Survivors include three of her daughters, seven grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by a daughter, Carla, and a grandson, Andrew.

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As of this writing, it has been less than a week since the death of Faye Critser Garner, and she was the last person I needed to research before completing this post. It's not as if doing this work isn't enough of a reminder that we are all here temporarily; finding out that you're related to someone a week after their death just feels like a missed opportunity.

If nothing else, it motivates me to call mom and dad, while I still can.

But, that brings us to the end of Violetta Scott Knight's descendants; she has four more siblings for us to talk about over the coming months. I hope if you're among those descendants, you'll drop a note below in the comment section, send an email to callintad at, or join the Callin Family History group on Facebook. (My first question will be, "How are we related?")

Now, if you can, go hug a living loved one.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

So You Found an Obituary

While I'm taking my time to research the descendants of John and Sarah (Callin) Scott, I figured I'd share one of my favorite tools with you: the Obituary.

When I started out, I didn't really know what to do with an obituary; obviously, you can take information from it and add new names, dates, and places to your family tree, but I learned the hard way that you have to make sure to add the obit as a source for every single detail and do so in a way that makes it clear where every piece of information came from.

Here's an example. To protect the identities of any living people, all names and identifying dates have been changed, but otherwise, this is a real example of an obituary, and how I work it into my Ancestry tree:

Ivy Edith Borden
November 22, 2010 at 5:00 am
Mrs. Ivy Edith Borden, 87, of Townsville, [Wisconsin] died on Tuesday, November 21, 2010 at Townsville Memorial Hospital. She was born on October 6, 1923, in South Townsville, Illinois to Fred and Myrtle (Johnson) Small-Krauss. She was a graduate of South Townsville High School, Class of 1942.
Mrs. Borden worked at the Telephone Company and at the local Chemical Company. She married Julius Borden in 1950. She was an excellent homemaker. She greatly enjoyed bowling, camping, playing cards and working crossword puzzles. Most of all she loved spending time with her family. Mrs. Borden was a passionate Cubs fan.
She is survived by her children: Cheryl Borden - Chicago, Ill; Harold Borden (Pat Andrews) - S. Townsville, Ill; Two grandchildren: Joshua Borden and Richard Borden, both of Columbo, Ill. Also two great grandchildren. Many nieces and nephews including, Gerald and Roberta Yokum and Gary and Ann Sailors.
She was preceded in death by her parents, four brothers: Frank, Harry, Lester and Charles. One sister, Ethel Sailors-Mann.
The Memorial Service for Mrs. Ivy Borden will be held at 12:00 p.m. on November 27, 2010 at the Barry Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Greenlawn Cemetery.
Friends may call on Monday, November 27, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. until the time of service.

Finding the Obituary

There are abundant resources for locating obituaries that ran in newspapers. These days, funeral homes often also host obituaries on their websites. For someone who died more recently (ie, since the early 2000s), your best bet is to begin with Google.

If they died further back in time, internet searches become less useful, and you may need to turn to a service like If your ancestor died further back than the 1900s, you would be better off searching through local histories or genealogical surveys which might be available in Google books, the Internet Archive, or a service like Heritage Quest (which you ought to be able to access for free through your local public library).

Knowing what to search for is sometimes difficult. With our example, "Ivy Borden" is obviously Ivy's married name. If you are working "down the tree," as I often am, you may not start out knowing who she married, if she married, or when or where she died. Finding an obituary can be tricky under those circumstances, but it's not impossible.

Let's assume that in Ivy's case, I was researching her mother's line - so if I started with Myrtle Johnson, and found records of her marriage to Fred Small, I might have Census records for Myrtle's family, a marriage record for her and Fred, and possibly the 1930 and/or 1940 Census for Fred, Myrtle, and their other children (Frank, Harry, Lester, Charles, and Ethel).

If I were trying to find Ivy's obituary with that body of starting information, I would probably put this in my search:

Ivy Small obituary Fred Myrtle Johnson

Depending on what I see in my search results, I could add Ivy's birthdate and birthplace (which might not be exact, if I go by the Census records) or I could take out information to try to get better results. Adding the names of siblings may or may not be helpful. With a name like "Johnson," it may be better to leave it out and put a more unusual fact in.

Then, when this obituary turns up in my results, I know I have the right person because the parents and siblings match. (And yes, some obituaries leave a lot of that information out. We work with what we can find.) Obviously, finding the obituary is a skill that one refines with practice over time.

Using Internal Logic

There is a lot of useful information here. On the surface, you find Ivy's husband and children and get confirmation that her siblings all died before she did. You also get some other useful clues about what happened to her family in the time between the 1940 Census and Ivy's death in 2010.

One important detail in this particular example has to do with the location. You might not have noticed that Ivy died in "Townsville, Wisconsin" but was born in nearby "South Townsville, Illinois." It is always a good idea to learn about the geography around your ancestors, but in this case, it is particularly important that you know to search for records in both states. You may have gaps that could be filled in with information from just across the state line.

If you look at the way the obituary listed Ivy's parents - "Fred and Myrtle (Johnson) Small-Krauss" - you can see that Fred Small married Myrtle Johnson, and you can probably guess that after Fred died, Myrtle remarried. If you hadn't known that, it could help you find her obituary or death records under the name "Myrtle Krauss." That kind of information doesn't always show up in obituaries, especially if there was a divorce involved, but when you see it, make note of it.

You can see a similar construction with her sister, Ethel Sailors-Mann. The obit lists Ivy's nieces and nephews, including "Gary and Ann Sailors," so it's a pretty good bet that those are Ethel's children. And it looks like Ethel remarried after their father either died or after a divorce; and since the obit says Ivy's siblings pre-deceased her, you might find more by looking for "Ethel Mann" - either her death records or an obituary of her own.

Document, Document, Document

The first thing I do when I find a new obituary is to create a "Story" in my Ancestry tree. These kinds of stories should be attached to the main person the obituary is about. I either copy the text into that Story or, if I only find a scanned image of the obituary, I upload that as a photo, and transcribe it so I have it in a text format.

( has a nice feature for clipping an obituary or other story and attaching it to the people in your Ancestry tree, but even with my World Deluxe membership, a lot of their papers are behind their paywall. If you can't afford that extra $60/year, it can be a pain to get that text, but it is worth trying. They usually have an OCR version of the page your obit appears on, though the OCR quality may not be great. Take what you can get, and just be sure to save the URL to their page, the name of the newspaper, and the date/page information so you can cite all of that as a source.)

Ancestry stories can be attached to everyone that is mentioned in the story, so I usually go through line by line and make sure that each person named in my obit is added to my tree, and then use the "Add link" to add each person to this story.

Once I've attached this obituary, with all of its sourcing information included, to all of these people, then I go to each person and add whatever facts the obit gave me about them. For example, I added Ivy's son, Harold, and attached the story to him; then I go to his Fact page, and add his wife and his 2010 residence: "Harold Borden (Pat Andrews) - S. Townsville, Ill." Then I make sure that I edit the fact and click on the Media tab to make sure that fact is associated with the obituary's Story.

I repeat this process for every fact I can extract from that obituary. For example, all I know about Ivy's brothers-in-law comes from her sister's name: "Ethel Sailors-Mann." I would add two spouses for Ethel, one "Sailors" and one "Mann," and then attach the obituary Story to each, and make sure their Name fact links to that Story. That's a lot of effort for a small fact, but if I don't get around to searching for their full names right away, I could forget where those clues came from without a proper source citation.

Trust, but Verify

If you started with the information I did, you already knew a bit about Ivy, her parents, and her siblings. Then you found this obituary, and you were probably able to add seven more people to your tree: her husband, children, grandchildren, and her sister's children. You also have a pretty good idea where those individuals were living at the time of Ivy's death.

But that's where the next round of work begins. You need to check for records to confirm all of this new information. U.S. Public Records databases in Ancestry can often verify those residences, and sometimes give you a birth date, too. You may know enough now to look for marriage records, more obituaries, and much more.

Sometimes, especially for living people, it will be hard to find this information. Respect their privacy, and protect their identities - by keeping your files private - but maybe also reach out to let them know that you're researching their family. They may ignore you, but for most families, I find that someone who has lost a parent or grandparent might be interested in learning more about their family history. Be ready to share, and don't pressure them for information until they're ready to offer it!

It's also a good idea to remember that any detail you have found could be wrong. Misspellings, incorrect dates, and other errors could always trip you up. Be flexible, and patient!

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As always, if you think you might be related to someone in the Callin Family History, I encourage you to reach out. You can comment below, join the Facebook group (link is in the right-hand column), or email my Gmail address, which is callintad.

Happy Hunting!