Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Oh, Henry!

I'm facing a couple of minor dilemmas in researching what became of the family of Eliza Murdock Clark Stevens. One is that some of the work done on this line happened offline, years ago. The other is that, right now, I'm traveling again, and while I'd like to post the details on those stories, I can't do them justice straight from my memory.

Do I go ahead and give the splat of it all, straight from memory...but fraught with spoilers? Or put you on hold and wait until I get back home and can pull out the files?

I think I will do a little of both approaches. After all, I can't "vamp til ready" for that long (or, for you last-gasp-of-summer vacationers, "How long can you tread water?"). So here is the introductory segment for some of what had befallen the Murdock and Kruse families of Lafayette, Indiana.

As you probably remember, I got entangled with this branch of my research trail when going through historic newspaper archives on search terms for John Kelly Stevens, my husband's great-grandfather who worked for the Fort Wayne police department. One of the local newspapers had mentioned that John Kelly Stevens had received a telegraph informing him of a young nephew's unexpected death.

Well, what was unexpected to me wasn't that this young boy had died; it was that John Kelly had any such nephew at all.

That was what led me to discover an entire branch of family related to John Kelly Stevens' father's family. Apparently, the elder John Stevens had had a second marriage to a widow, Eliza Murdock Clark, who had had a daughter, Nellie, by that previous marriage. It was that daughter's son who had unexpectedly died.

Yesterday, I shared the various finding aids that helped me navigate the archives of material on the town of Lafayette, Indiana, where Nellie's family lived. Since the Lafayette newspapers, other than for a few issues, aren't currently accessible online, the index I mentioned yesterday certainly came in handy.

However, I was wrong about one thing: that index doesn't exactly contain every mention of local names in the town's main newspaper. It included names involving marriages, deaths, and some other significant events. But the one that I'll be telling you in more detail, once I get back home, doesn't happen to be mentioned in that index.

For that one item, I was surprised.

The way I came upon it was thanks to a discussion in an online genealogy forum. A little over two years ago, I had gone to that forum in hopes of finding the proverbial "Some Kind Soul" (handily shortened, in some forum queries, to SKS) who would be willing to look up the obituary for the mysterious nephew of John Kelly Stevens who had died. (That entry, incidentally, had also been excluded from the Rodenberger index, having occurred two years prior to her time frame.)

There was, indeed, Some Kind Soul who took up my cause and responded with not only that child's obituary (long, so she mailed it to me), but also with the obituary for young Raphael's mother, Nellie Kruse, too. In addition, since she was a local resident, she took it upon herself to find the family's address in an old city directory and drive by the location to see if the residence was still standing (it wasn't, though other houses in the area from that time period are still there).

That wasn't all. On top of all that, she happened to mention that, in searching for Raphael's obituary and his mother Nellie's obituary, she discovered that Nellie's husband, Henry K. Kruse, had been mentioned in the newspaper for several days.

"Would you like copies of those articles, too?" she asked.

This could be significant. You already know what my answer would have been!

That story, by the way, is the one lying in a file in those boxes and boxes of pre-Ancestry.com-subscription records, when all I had was a wood-burning genealogy database program.

I couldn't help but notice in the meantime, however, that not only did Henry Kruse's demise not make the Rodenberger index even though it happened within her time parameters, but finding any confirmation of his death in documents at FamilySearch.org was essentially unpredictable, having been filed under the township in which the death occurred, rather than including any mention of either city or county.

In the end, once again, if it weren't for those proverbial "Some Kind Souls" out there, volunteering to help the rest of us out, there would just be some missing pieces of our family puzzles that never could be put back in their rightful place. Crowdsourcing our genealogical research helps do for us what we couldn't possibly do, all on our own.


  1. For someone that didn't know what to write - this post is well done!! :)

    Thank you very much - all you SKS out there!! You may not know how much joy and excitement you bring to those you help - but hopefully you know just how appreciated your efforts are!

    From find-a-grave to local historical societies, a lot of folks are "doing the good work."

    1. Thanks for putting in the good word for all those SKSs, Iggy, but I, for one, think you rank up there with the #1 SKSs, yourself, for all the effort you pour into researching those clues for several genealogy-related blogs.

  2. How exciting! It's wonderful you were able to find SKS to do that lookup for you. The genealogical community is one of the best about paying it forward!

    1. Danni, yes! The genealogy forums are often good places to find those legendary SKSs who are willing to lend a helping hand.

      And speaking of "paying it forward," that reminds me I need to get back to doing some online indexing to help pay it forward, myself :)


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