In attempting to finger which daughter of John and Eliza Murdock Stevens might have been the mother of the ill-fated—and elusive—Raphael Kruse, I had tried in vain to convert one to a wife of an unnamed Mister Kruse. This was not merely because of the strange insertion in The Fort Wayne News on March 24, 1900, regarding John Kelly Stevens’ “nephew.”
There was another mention of this Kruse family.
Let me take you to the obituary for Eliza Murdock Stevens, herself—a document which I have not personally retrieved, but have found in various online resources over the years.
Before I can do that, however, I need to warn you of one thing: you will need to be willing to adopt the assumption that people back then—back in that prior century long, long ago—did not take particular care as to their spelling habits. Even newspaper editors.
Second, you will need to remember that this mention—of a “Mrs. John Stephens”—displays her descendants rather technically. In other words, while other news reports graciously named the half-siblings as if they had the status of full siblings, this memorial of John Kelly Stevens’ step-mother kept no such tradition.
This, then, becomes a vital node in a “connect the dots” approach to reconstructing a family constellation. Hinging on spelling variations and missing names does hang the outcome on a precarious link, admittedly. As I’ve mentioned before, though, it is in the multiplicity of materials that we can glean reliable evidence.
Here, then, is the obituary of one Mrs. John Stephens, published in the Lafayette Daily Courier on Friday, March 1, 1901, as found on page 8, column 5. Notice the tantalizing mention of a Mrs. Henry Kruse:
The death of Mrs. John Stephens, a well known and highly respected lady, of this city, occurred this morning at 7:30 o'clock at St. Elizabeth hospital, of paralysis. Mrs. Stephens has for some time been an invalid and her death, though not unexpected, brings deep sorrow to the home affected. She was born in Ireland and came to this country at an early age. She was married to John Stephens and three daughters survive to mourn her death, viz: Mrs. Henry Kruse, and Mrs. Mackessy, of this city, and Mrs. Donohue, of Fort Wayne. The remains were removed this morning from the hospital to the family home, on Queen street. She was a member of St. Ann's church and was a prominent and effective worker in church circles. The funeral will occur Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock from St. Ann's church, and interment will be in St. Mary's cemetery.