By now, you may be getting exasperated over the trek back through time and newspapers as we try to identify the possible source for that Fort Wayne newspaper report about a nephew for Fort Wayne policeman John Kelly Stevens.
You may be wondering: was there a Raphael Kruse? Perhaps there was no such person. Or perhaps he was a resident of another city, not Lafayette. Perhaps “Kruse” was not the right spelling—after all, the more common version seen now is Cruz.
Or forget quibbling about typos and just assume this was a news report in error. Somebody might have gotten the story wrong and attached Raphael Kruse’s name to the wrong Fort Wayne resident.
But wait. There was that mention in the obituary for John Kelly Stevens’ step-mom, Eliza Murdock Stevens. Was there a Raphael Kruse in Lafayette?
As it turns out, there was an unfortunate ten year old boy who died in Lafayette, Indiana, on March 23, 1900. As reader Charlie of Carolina Family Roots pointed out in the comments on Friday, his name was entered in the local death records as Raphael K. Kruse.
As far as the “Mrs. Henry Kruse” mentioned in Eliza Stevens’ obituary, it turns out there was a Henry Kruse family in Lafayette. Checking the 1900 census—taken only a few months after poor Raphael’s demise—shows a Lafayette family comprised of Henry, his wife Nellie, and their five children. There was an ample four year spread between sisters Henrietta and Laura to allow for a ten year old Raphael to fit comfortably within the family structure, if he were still alive. And, the 1900 census also indicated how many children each mother had had—in Nellie's case, ten, five of whom were surviving at that point.
Apparently, Henry and Nellie—or Helen, as her marriage entry lists her—were wed on May 22, 1879.
Things are looking just fine until the point in the marriage index at Familysearch.org which displays the bride’s maiden name. Unfortunately, Nellie was not a Stevens. Her maiden name was Clarke.
So, while we did come by some success in pursuing local records to prove the existence of a Henry Kruse family in Lafayette, Indiana, we still do not have any connection to the Stevens family—or any clue as to how John Kelly Stevens might have found himself being called “Uncle” by one little boy with the very un-Irish name of Raphael.