Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Challenge of Seeking Kellys

If you are researching a family name such as Smith or Jones, you have my sympathies. While seeking the surname Kelly seems difficult—it is, after all, one of the top one hundred surnames in the United States—it is nowhere near as difficult as the challenges you face.

I do, regardless, wish to take this moment to snivel. After all, researching the Kelly family isn’t exactly a piece of cake.

Keep in mind, first of all, that my end goal in all of this is to ascertain where our family’s Irish roots originally grew, deep in the motherland. I do, remember, hope to someday go back there and explore those very locations. That shred of hopeless romantic still hidden deep inside me yearns to explore those same proverbial cobblestone roads our family’s ancestors once walked.

That, in fact, is one of the barriers to researching the Kelly family. While the surname is in the top seventy names for our current homeland, it rockets up to claim the number two spot, once you consider Ireland, itself. And within the country of Ireland, the name is widespread, perhaps having multiple origins.

No wonder I’m having problems making these family lines connect.

So when I begin at the spot where I last found our Kelly family—Fort Wayne in Allen County, Indiana, upon the marriage of Catherine Kelly to John Kelly Stevens—I ponder whether there were more Kellys, already in town, to draw Catherine’s family to that specific spot deep within the United States of the time.

Could there be relatives of this Kelly family who preceded them in coming to Fort Wayne? What drew them to this town, instead of to multiple other possibilities?

Or were the other Kelly families in Fort Wayne not related at all?

Since Catherine, herself, saw her name ridden with so many spelling variations—and since her given name was also so common—to test my questions, I prefer to employ her mystery brother Timothy, the one who disappeared from the family record by the time of the 1880 census.

But there were even too many Timothys in the Fort Wayne census for that same year of 1870 in which we last saw his record.

There was, for example, one other Timothy in Fort Wayne, apparently, but he appeared to be the wrong age for comparisons—born about 1836 rather than 1860.

Then, too, there was yet another Timothy. Admittedly, his surname was spelled Kelley in the 1870 census, but then, so was Catherine’s surname. Born in Ireland in 1830, this Timothy would also be much too old to match our Timothy’s record. Tantalizingly enough, though, his household contained daughters Catherine and Mary, just as did our Catherine Kelly’s family. Along with that, there was a son named Timothy in this household, too—showing, in one way, how often those same names seemed to repeat themselves in these Irish immigrant families.

Even though the dates were off, we’ll find this second family may be a keeper, however—but I’ll save that story to puzzle over later.

We’re still left with the question of how certain the possibility may be that there were other Timothy Kellys of the same age, also residing in Fort Wayne between the 1870 and 1880 censuses.

And, more importantly, where did our Timothy Kelly go?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Taking a Look at the Kelly Family

We may have much to be thankful for that the short-lived Catherine Kelly didn’t marry her beloved until after the 1880 census.

Of course, that sounds rather mercenary of me. At least, it would if we were any closer than a date approaching one hundred twenty nine years removed from her death.

At any rate, that serendipity affords the genealogy-crazed (such as myself) the luxury of locating Catherine within her family of birth.

In ascertaining Catherine’s past, the 1880 census is the first step in sketching out her family tree. From that, we find Catherine in the Fort Wayne household of John and Johanna Kelly, along with her younger siblings, Mary, Patrick and John. It’s plain to see, since Catherine and thirteen year old Mary were born in Ireland, followed by brother Patrick’s birth in Indiana in 1869, that the family likely had emigrated from their Irish homeland sometime around 1867 or 1868.

Stepping backward in time to the previous decade’s census with a little leniency as far as spelling goes, it is not too difficult to once again find the Kelly family—this time fashioned as Kelleys rather than Kellys by whoever noted the census details.

A quite faded version of the family’s record makes it hard to ascertain from the ages that we have the family corresponding to our 1880 record. Catherine’s father John’s age appears to be written as forty—sixteen years younger than the age given for the census ten years later. A problem.

In addition, the siblings listed don’t seem to match up. Of course, we wouldn’t expect to see any entries for those born after 1870, so that would eliminate any mention of baby John, who arrived in the household in 1876. But in the 1870 census, we find a listing for a son, Timothy, apparently born to the couple in Ireland in 1860. Where was Timothy in the 1880 census? Could he have married and moved out of the household by age twenty?

Interestingly, just as was mentioned in Catherine’s wedding announcement in 1883, her family’s entry in their first United States census record in 1870 showed them to be resident in the Sixth Ward of the city of Fort Wayne. Unless the political lines were redrawn in between census years—or unless there was another John Kelly family in that same area, which could be likely with a surname as common (and commonly misspelled) as Kelly—it is quite possible that these two census records represent one and the same family.

Just to make sure, though, we’ll need to search for more records that can give us a clue what became of eldest son Timothy. Or find one of the family’s more contemporary obituary listings containing a pattern of names matching these for descendants. To uncover further confirmation that we've got the right Kelly family, we’ll take a closer look at what else we can find, tomorrow.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Marriage of Kittie Kally

Long ago and far away—at least for me, that is—a widower in Fort Wayne, Indiana, known as John Kelly Stevens took as his wife a young Irish immigrant by the name of Catherine Kelly. The date was October 16, 1883, and the place was Fort Wayne’s downtown Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

In that era in which the appearance of a woman’s name in the newspaper was considered proper in only such few instances as wedding announcements, the Fort Wayne Daily Sentinel made it brief and bland—well, except for the inescapable political tinge with mention of the ward location—on that very day of their wedding:
This morning John K. Stevens, a moulder in Bass' Foundry, was married at the Cathedral to Miss Kittie Kelley, daughter of John Kelly, of the Sixth ward. A reception will be held this evening at the residence of Mr. Stevens. A number of presents were received by the happy couple.
Note the spelling variation in this excerpt. Consider it all courtesy, not of this transcriber, but of the newspaper editor. Think nothing of it. This is only the beginning.

In typical manner of the time, the marriage record of John Kelly Stevens and his second wife was abused by all conceivable misspellings. John Kelly, himself, had his name represented on the Allen County marriage license as John K. Stevans. So it would come as no surprise that his young Irish immigrant bride would have her name spelled there as Kittie Kally and perhaps not even notice it—nor the detail in the attached marriage certificate in which she inexplicably morphed into Kate Kelly by a mere stroke of the pen of her church’s assistant pastor.

Besides the advanced notice that we have our work cut out for us—not only with the application of several spelling variations on both sides of the Cathedral aisle, but with the usage of several different nicknames, too—the unfortunate Catherine Kelly had a number of other abnormalities in her life’s vital documents to confuse the chase. We’ll take a look at these over the next few days, as we launch into the questions of who, exactly, this Kelly family in Fort Wayne was.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Buried On Page Four

In the midst of all the excitement over finding wedding announcements for both John Kelly Stevens’ daughter Catherine and son William, overlooked was an unobtrusive line tucked away on page four of the October 15, 1908, edition of The Fort Wayne Sentinel that I need to revisit.

Over the years, some newspaper editors have chosen to include headlines from previous decades as a prompt for the community to collectively walk down memory lane. Perhaps, on occasion, your newspaper has borrowed this same type of device.

Evidently, the Sentinel employed that editorial habit in 1908, with a column entitled, “Twenty Five Years Ago.” Perhaps in hopes of fanning a spark of community interest to belie the slow news day that it surely must have been, the column title was coupled with the redundant subtitle: “What the Sentinel Had to Say About Persons and Events Twenty-Five Years Ago.”

On this particular day in 1908, however, among the other entries sure to catch their readers’ eye, was this one melancholy note, made even sadder in reflection over the two weddings that flanked the announcement:
...Marriage licenses issued: ...John K. Stevens and Kitty Kelly...
Not a typo, not an editorial faux pas, it was a quite accurate report of what happened in our John Kelly Stevens' life, twenty five years prior to that time. While I'm not sure what the unnamed Sentinel reporter hoped to achieve by including that one detail in his column—and while I don't even know what thought John Kelly himself gave to the event on that day, twenty five years later—I think this would be sufficient prompt for us to take the promised detour from the Stevens side of the family to explore John Kelly Stevens' connections with the Kelly family of Fort Wayne, Indiana.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Next, Expected News

I remember when I first was smitten with the genealogy bug. It was so long ago, people didn’t use personal computers to keep track of the records they found. It was when people sought out archives and hunted through card catalogs, grubbing for every morsel of information they could find.

I remember the curious feeling that overcame me when I located my first birth announcement in a local newspaper. It happened at the California State Library, where I was told that every newspaper that had ever been printed in the state had a copy resident in that repository.


What amazed me even more, though, was actually reading an announcement in one of those newspapers, heralding the birth of one of my husband’s humble ancestors. It wasn’t one of those perfunctory blips of news ink crammed on a page way toward the back of the edition, like you'd find in city newspapers nowadays. It was something you’d expect to be presented with during a cozy visit down home on the farm.

It was those birth announcements that were the ones that hooked me on a lifelong quest to “know more” about my ancestors. And, with such obliging local editors, can you blame me? Down-home editing has done more than its fair share in locking in this lifelong research habit.

So, in the course of researching John Kelly Stevens in Fort Wayne, would it come as a surprise to you to discover that there was not one mention of a birth announcement for his first grandson? No, not one. Not even two.

There were three different entries regarding the birth of baby John Kelly Stevens, named, appropriately, after his paternal grandfather.

While Will and Agnes Tully Stevens’ first baby was born, miles away in Chicago, on April 21, 1913, the Fort Wayne News didn’t pick up the story until April 24:
Born, to Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Stevens, of 507 Garfield avenue, Chicago, a son. City Patrolman Kelly Stevens is the father of Mr. Stevens.
The next day’s edition of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette picked up the story, tucking it into the narrative of their “City News” column:
Patrolman Kelly Stevens received word yesterday that he is grandfather to a baby boy, born to Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Stevens, of Chicago.
And, of course, what would you expect the new grandparents to do next? It will come as no surprise to discover this entry in the Fort Wayne News the day after that, April 26, on page 14:
City Patrolman Kelly Stevens and Mrs. Stevens have gone to Chicago to spend several days with their son.
Tell me, now: wouldn’t you be doing the same thing, too?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Announcing Another Wedding

Almost five years after giving his daughter’s hand in marriage to one of the fine, upstanding young men of Fort Wayne, Indiana, John Kelly Stevens found himself traveling to Chicago to witness the wedding of his only son.

If you have been following A Family Tapestry for the last couple years, you may remember the series introducing the family of John Kelly’s son, William Stevens. Of course, at that time, I was writing from the perspective of the bride’s family, for we had already spent quite a bit of time examining the many papers and photographs of the Tully family I’ve been entrusted with to share.

From the Fort Wayne perspective, in contrast, I have little to share of the artifacts usually passed down through the generations. Actually, if it weren’t for the historic archives in Fort Wayne, which provided our family with photographs and other documents, and if it weren’t for the many newspaper mentions of John Kelly Stevens, himself, I’d have little to say about this side of the family.

So it was interesting to discover a wedding announcement, from the groom’s family’s perspective, announcing the upcoming wedding of Will Stevens and Agnes Tully, included in The Fort Wayne Sentinel’s Society column on June 7, 1912. (Those of you who know me well will wince along with me at the editorial error, “Miss Agnes Anthony Tully,” and mentally insert the correct—and much more ladylike—“Antoinette” in its place.)
Invitations have been received by friends in this city of William Alfred Stevens to his marriage to Miss Agnes Anthony Tully, daughter of Mrs. John Tully, which will take place on Wednesday, June 12, at 9 o’clock, in St. Anne’s church, Chicago. Mr. Stevens is a son of Kelly Stevens, of this city, and he worked in the freight department of the Pennsylvania for a number of years. The bride and groom will live at 507 West Garfield boulevard, Chicago.

Photograph, above left: William Stevens and his bride, the former Agnes Antoinette Tully, at the time of their marriage, June 12, 1912, at Saint Anne's Church in Chicago.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

On the Other Hand…

Perhaps I’m being too harsh on Catherine Stevens, the daughter of John Kelly Stevens, whose wedding we’ve been discussing over the past few days. Yesterday, in particular, I was speculating on why she, as bride, had insisted that her wedding be “a quiet affair.”

Knowing what I’d seen in later-life letters concerning Catherine’s relationship with her step-mom, Theresa Blaising Stevens, I had thought that was a masked commentary on a possible life-long history of such difficult family relationships. Think about it: who’s to fill the all-consuming role of mother-of-the-bride when one’s mother is long dead?

In retrospect—and, after perusing some old notes on other historical newspaper gleanings—I see there may have been another sobering death in the extended family for which Catherine wished to be circumspect: that of Theresa’s own mother.

Theresa Blaising Stevens’ childhood story was inspiring in its own right. She was raised—and brought to America under challenging circumstances—by a woman we could rightly call The Quintessential American Immigrant. Mary Ann Hirshberg Blaising, as widowed mother of ten, determined that she would seek a better future for her children in the New World. Incredibly, she saved enough money to provide for passage across the Atlantic for the entire family, and eventually settled in New Haven, a small farm community near Fort Wayne. Though she didn't arrive there until the late 1860s, among her accolades were the term, "Pioneer Woman."

You can sense, from her obituary in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, that Mary Ann Blaising was honored by not only her immediate family, but by a large extended family—and by the community at large, as well. Judging from the June 13, 1907, headline—“Close of a Noble Life” and “A Most Remarkable Woman”—her story commanded respect.

As a sub-heading to the obituary explained, Mary Ann Blaising was widowed by the death of her soldier husband, the event that touched off the process of the family’s emigration. What became of the family after that point, I’ll let the obituary express in its own flowery language of the time:
Modest, unassuming all her life, while yet worthy of the highest honors of motherhood and heroic womanhood, Mrs. Mary Ann Blaising, one of the most remarkable women that this country has ever known, passed away last evening at the home of her son, August Blaising, at New Haven. Consoled by the consolations of her religion, with the memory of her remarkable career of sacred and devoted motherhood like an aurum of sanctity about her, Mrs. Blaising passed from life as one going into a peaceful slumber at the close of a day spent in wholesome and sanctified labor. Age and the toils of a life that cannot be regarded but as phenomenal in its combined devotedness and beautiful exaltation of christian womanhood, had laid its impress upon her and had sapped her physical powers gradually but steadily, and she sank into eternal slumber as quietly and peacefully as the summer breezes pass at eventide.

Mrs. Blaising's remarkable life deserves more than a passing mention. She was born in Lorraine, then a French province, on November 7, 1830. In early womanhood she was married to Lawrence Blaising, who was a soldier of the French army during the third empire. He died in Paris, leaving the widow and ten young children.

With the slender means left to the widow of a soldier Mrs. Blaising started life anew, but she realized that her all but helpless offspring would have but slight chances for advancement in the fatherland. The opportunities offered to youth in America appealed to her intelligence, and she invested her whole life savings in the voyage to this country. With her flock of little ones she sailed from France in 1866 and came to America, settling at New Haven. Here, by her own labor, she reared and educated her children. Three of them preceded her to the other world. Working and striving for the welfare of her little ones, educating them in the tenets of religion and teaching them the principles of good citizenship, she spent her life, and the love and veneration of a whole community became hers because of her devotion and the knowledge of her unselfish struggles for her offspring.

Mrs. Blaising was one of the oldest members of St. John's Catholic church at New Haven, and her devotion to children and church formed a beautiful example of true christian motherhood.

Mrs. Blaising is survived by seven children—Henry Blaising, of New Haven; Lawrence Blaising, of Albany, N.Y.; John Blaising, of Fort Wayne; Philip Blaising, of Crestline, O.; Louis Blaising, of Garrett; August Blaising, of New Haven, and Mrs. Theresa Stevens, wife of Police Officer John Kelly Stevens, of Fort Wayne.

She leaves forty-one grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren. The date of the funeral will be announced when her relatives are heard from.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

On Account of His Genial Nature

Just as this past Wednesday was the twenty first of August, so it was on her wedding day one hundred six years ago when Catherine Stevens said those two words, “I do,” to the man of her dreams. Fred Stahl—the other party to that event in 1907—had been described as “genial,” “much liked” and “a young man of excellent character” who was “well known.”

Despite these glowing editorial accolades, newspaper reports indicated that the Stahl-Stevens wedding was to be “a quiet affair.” Why, when the papers raved over the bride’s “hosts of friends” and the groom’s “more than a common degree of popularity,” would the couple choose to celebrate their wedding in such a sedate manner?

Agreed, the sacrament of marriage always has been a serious occasion, especially within the realm of the Catholic church. And our modern choices about how to celebrate that occasion are considerably ramped up, compared to the more modest attitudes exercised in past ages, including Catherine’s younger years.

In the past, I’ve speculated about somber occurrences that had recently affected the Stahl family, like the tragic death of Fred’s older brother Charles—known to many of that time as “Chick” Stahl of the Boston Red Sox team that had played in a recent World Series. Out of respect for what a family could go through in such sobering times, one might expect subsequent joyous occasions to take on a more subdued tone.

However, that occurred about five months prior to the wedding. I often wonder if the choice of a “quiet affair” had its root in other reasons. I search through Fred Stahl’s family tree to see if there are any indications, but find nothing telling.

Frederick James Stahl, a Fort Wayne native, was born to “Rheuben” and Barbara Stadtmiller Stahl in—depending on which document you choose to believe—1881, 1882, or 1883. He was apparently one of the youngest of many Stahl children, for the 1900 census shows Barbara as mother of twelve children, ten still surviving.

Speaking of the 1900 census, it unveils another mystery: Barbara is listed as head of household, but not listed as widowed. While Reuben could be found for the 1870 census and the 1880 census, I can find no record of his death in Allen County records, nor in the Catholic cemetery in town. There is a Reuben Stahl in the Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne, but as far as I know, that is not a Catholic cemetery. Barbara, incidentally, was buried in the Catholic cemetery, though their unfortunate, famous son was buried in the same cemetery as, I presume, his father. Perhaps not only was there a tragic death in the family in 1907, but also a rift in family relationships. Such deaths as these can be difficult to bear.

Then, on the other side of the equation, there was the strained relationship between Catherine and her step-mother, Theresa Blaising Stevens. I do know a bit about that from later letters from Theresa to her step-son, Catherine’s half-brother Will.

Interestingly enough, the bridal party was comprised of two young people of whom I know nothing—Mr. and Mrs. Jack Ryan. The customary spot often reserved for siblings or in-laws-to-be, that of maid of honor and best man, seemed in this case to be bestowed upon two friends.

Even the choice of hostess for the wedding reception seems to want to tell a story. As we’ll soon see when we explore the family of Catherine’s other step-mother, Mrs. P. H. Phillips was the short-lived Catherine Kelly Stevens’ younger sister, and aunt to Will. Why the affinity with the family of the step-mother she no longer had, rather than the family of her current step-mother?

With questions of relationships swirling around four sets of families—the Stahls, the Stevenses, the Blaisings and the Kellys—somehow, Catherine Stevens opted for a “quiet” wedding. She married a steady man who remained employed for forty seven years at the same company in which he worked at the time of their marriage—the Pennsylvania “shops.” For whatever reason, despite their likeability, Catherine and Fred never had any children of their own, and passed rather unremarkably within a few years of each other in the 1950s in the same town in which they were born.


Wedding announcement published in The Fort Wayne Sentinel on Wednesday, August 28, 1907, on page 19, column 1:
The Cathedral was the scene of a pretty wedding Wednesday morning when Miss Katherine Louise Stevens became the bride of Mr. Frederick J. Stahl. Rev. P. F. Hoche sang the nuptial mass, the hour of the ceremony being at 9 o'clock. Mr. and Mrs. Jack Ryan were the attendants. The bride, who is an extremely pretty young woman was becomingly gowned in a light silk with trimmings of lace insertion. A beautiful hat in yellow tones and gloves to match were worn by the bride and her bouquet was of ferns. Mrs. Ryan wore a cream silk net over pink silk, a hat with pink plumes and carried pink asters. After the wedding service the bridal party and immediate relatives were driven to the residence of Mrs. P. H. Phillips, 1910 Hoagland avenue, where the breakfast was served. The house was tastefully decorated with garden flowers and the bride's table was done in pink and white. The wedding was a quiet one in deference to the wishes of the bride, who is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Kelly Stevens. Mr. Stahl is a son of Mrs. Barbara Stahl. He is a machinist in the Pennsylvania shops, and a young man of excellent character and enjoys more than a common degree of popularity among his acquaintances.

Friday, August 23, 2013

For a Quiet Affair

Have you ever, as a parent of a young child, read aloud the stories from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series on her memories of pioneer America? As our family came upon segments in the Little House books containing the tedious detail about some of the women’s dresses, my eyes often glazed over. I hadn’t the faintest clue what some of those fancy stitches referred to.

Perhaps if I had paid better attention then, I’d know now what all the specifics mean when I read bridal gown descriptions from century-old society pages.

Fortunately, it sounds like John Kelly Stevens’ daughter had simple-yet-elegant taste. For the description of her gown, there was only one sewing term that could give a person pause to ponder: entre deux. And even then, I already knew what the term meant—for which I’m thankful, since a token glance around Wikipedia failed to yield the answer I was seeking.

Do you know what entre deux is?

If it weren’t for an acquaintance of mine—a science teacher in the public schools in my area—I would never have known. Turns out, this no-nonsense woman also happened to have an unusual hobby: she knows how to sew. Not only does she sew, but she turns out the kind of intricate stuff that would fetch a pretty penny to help her span those long summer vacations. The tedium of the handiwork she does would have me running, screaming, in the opposite direction, but she has the patience required for such fine work.

What does she sew?

Entre deux.

If you take that term and look it up on Wikipedia, you will most likely get definitions having nothing whatsoever to do with its application, as far as a skilled seamstress would be concerned—and seamstress, by the way, was how Catherine Stevens employed herself in Fort Wayne before her marriage to Frederick Stahl.

The French term “entre deux” literally means “between two,” which is why it is employed by the French in describing specific geographic locations, or even time periods, such as that between the two World Wars.

But in the case of Catherine’s bridal gown, we are seeking the description of specific stitches used. As my seamstress-during-summer-break friend put it, the technique involves making regular, precisely-formed, tiny tucks of fabric, such as might be seen now in christening gowns or nightgowns made of delicate cotton and lace. The entre deux (“between two”) of lace would mean the main material of the dress was joined with insets of lace through this stitching technique, as you can see by this sample shown here.

Now that I know someone who actually has mastered this technique—and now that I’ve found Catherine’s own occupation listed as seamstress, too—those previously-boring dress details from the costumes of a prior century seem to come alive in my mind much more than when I was droning through a read-aloud session of Little House on the Prairie.

Sorry, Laura….

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on Wednesday morning, August 21, 1907, the description of the upcoming marriage of Catherine Stevens and Frederick J. Stahl from page 7:

The marriage of Miss Kathryn L. Stevens, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Kelly Stevens, and Mr. Frederick J. Stahl will take place this morning at 9 o'clock at the Cathedral, Father Roche celebrating nuptial mass in the presence of friends and relatives of the young people. In accordance with the wishes of the bride, the wedding will be a very quiet affair followed by a wedding breakfast to the immediate relatives at the home of Mrs. P. H. Phillips, 1919 Hoagland avenue. Mr. and Mrs. Jack Ryan will be the only attendants. The bride, who is a young woman of great beauty and charm, will be gowned in mauve silk with entre deux of lace, and will carry an arm bouquet of ferns. She will wear hat and gloves of canary color. The matron of honor will wear a creation of cream silk net, over pink, and will have gloves and hat of pink with a bouquet of pink asters. The young people, who are very popular and have a wide circle of friends in Fort Wayne, will receive them at their new home on Jefferson and Fairfield avenues. Mr. Stahl is connected with the Pennsylvania shops and is much liked on account of his genial nature.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Girl of Unusual Beauty

Apparently, not only was John Kelly Stevens in the Fort Wayne newspapers of the early 1900s because of his activities at work. On August 13, 1907, he merited a mention in the Society section of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on behalf of his daughter:
Mr. and Mrs. John K. Stevens, of Summit street, announce the approaching marriage of their daughter, Katherine, to Mr. Fred Stahl. The wedding will take place Wednesday, August 21, the banns to be called the last time next Sunday. The young people will be at home at the corner of Jefferson and Fairfield. Miss Stevens is a young girl of unusual beauty, with hosts of friends whom she has attached to her by her great charm of manner. Mr. Stahl is much liked in the city, where he is well known, aside from his connection with the Pennsylvania shops.

John Kelly Stevens’ daughter—spelled here as Katherine, though I have records with every variation from Kathryn to Catherine—was his oldest child, born to his first wife, Mary Clara Miller. If you remember, Catherine lost her mother at a young age, and was then raised for a short while by her younger brother William’s mother—also a Catherine—until that woman’s passing a few years later. For all intents and purposes, the woman who served as surrogate mom for Catherine was John Kelly Stevens’ third wife, Theresa Blaising—although from what I gather from family, that step-mother relationship was a rocky one.

In August, 1907, Catherine Stevens was nearing twenty seven years of age—not exactly what one would consider marriageable age in that era. The newspaper’s Society editor was perhaps being kind or employing the typical euphemisms of the day. Whether that was so or not, Catherine’s wedding announcement certainly provided a flattering description of the couple-to-be. And that style didn’t end with just the one mention, as we’ll see tomorrow with the continuance of the newspaper coverage of this “quiet” event.

However, if she was indeed a “girl of unusual beauty,” I wish someone had thought to pass along at least one photograph of the woman.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Finding Family in the City of Fort Wayne

Sometimes, the only solution to a family history dilemma is to go back to the source—in this case, the City of Fort Wayne.

Of course, I don’t mean right now (despite the fact I’d love to be there on this opening day of the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2013 Conference).

But I do mean at some point. No matter how huge a wealth of material you may find online to help round out your genealogical research, you simply must include a trip to the geographic location the family had, at one time, called home.

Our family did this several years ago. Of course, we had the added benefit of doing our legwork in a city that boasts the second largest genealogical reference collection on the continent. Even so, we spent our fair share of hours out in the summer sunshine, scoping out cemetery plots and mapping where each branch of the family had moved in the city as their economic wellbeing improved.

Now, as I struggle over why there were two puzzling newspaper entries involving a John Kelly Stevens on the city’s police force which clearly didn’t apply to our family’s ancestor, I recall the “loot” I brought home from that research trip to Fort Wayne, years ago.

Last night, I pulled out some of those files. I was thinking of a specific photocopy that might come in handy in my name quandary. The page itself is a number-coded list of names corresponding to a montage of portraits of city officials, up to and including each of the city’s patrolmen.

The portraits, as well as the composite display, were done by The Miner Studio. Unfortunately, the material is not dated, but the addition of the photographer’s credit helps somewhat to affix a more limited date range to the collection. According to “Directory of Fort Wayne Photographers 1843-1930” by John D. Beatty, readily available as a PDF file at the Genealogy Center, Charles Winslow Miner was the proprietor of the studio. The article, arranged in alphabetical order by each photographer’s surname, provides a brief history of this particular photographer on page eleven. Though he arrived in Fort Wayne in the 1890s and opened his first studio with a partner in 1894, he didn’t remove his partner’s name from the business signage until 1909.

His tenure as sole proprietor was short-lived, as Charles Miner died on May 22, 1912. According to the Bulletin of Photography, volume ten, number 253, on June 12 of that same year, it was mentioned in the “News and Notes” section that his wife had “assumed control” of the studio “owing to the death of her husband.” Along with the help of “Miss Estella Miner,” presumably his daughter, the enterprise continued in operation under the direction of Charles’ long-time assistant, John D. Albrecht.

The Beatty report asserted the business remained in operation through 1916, though under the hand of someone else—“Japanese-born Henry Y. Ozaki”—who nevertheless didn’t change the business name until 1916.

All that leaves us with a possible date range of 1909 to 1916 for the list in my possession. Not quite the precise pinpoint I was hoping for, but ’twill do in a pinch.

Another hint for the date of the listing, however, is provided by the text added under the photographs. Above the entry, “Photo By The Miner Studio,” are three names of significance:
  • Dayton F. Abbott, Chief of Police
  • Martin A. Rundell, Captain of Police
  • George F. Eisenhut, Lieutenant of Police
My first inclination was to Google™ the name of the police chief. I did that, but could only assume that politics had done to his career in the major what it had done in the minor for John Kelly Stevens’ own position as sergeant. Dayton Franklin Abbott apparently was called to serve in 1911, then was out for one mayor’s term from 1914 through 1918, then in again with a change of mayors beginning in 1918. All that—and a transcription of a biographical sketch from volume five of Indiana: One Hundred and Fifty Years of American Development by Charles Roll in 1931—if you care to scroll down to the fifth listing on a web page here. Oh, and a little picture here.

Jiving Chief Abbott’s tenure with that of The Miner Studio—why do I feel like I’m doing Venn diagrams instead of genealogy here?—leaves us with a possible date range of 1911 through 1914—not much better than what we had before.

Of course, there is one other option: check the city directories. Those of you who are subscribers to genealogy services such as are already familiar with the fact that they provide scanned copies of such directories. For those of you wishing to search on the cheap, though, never forget the wonders a good tour of duty via Google™ can provide you. That is how I uncovered copies of the Fort Wayne directories at for the years 1912 and 1918. Admittedly, those were not precisely the years I had scientifically isolated through Venn diagram wizardry above. But give me a break: they were close.

If you take a look at the 1918 directory here, you can see right away that we can dismiss this year as a possibility. While Dayton Abbott was again listed as Chief—as we had seen from his biographical sketch—the 1918 directory had elevated George Eisenhut to the position of Captain. As can be surmised from the thick political atmosphere we’ve observed elsewhere in this study of Fort Wayne history, Captain Eisenhut most likely attained that status upon the change in political flavors at the last election. In other words, since the preceding mayor’s term was from 1914 to 1918, we can safely say these appointments were timed with that change in office.

The 1912 directory, however—as you can see for yourself here—handily provides the exact same listing as that gleaned from the photocopy that got me started on this subject in the first place. And, as a bonus, that particular volume of the directory listed not only the department brass, but also the entire roster of patrolmen for that year as well—including “John K. Stevens.”

And yes, I did compare all the names. If you are wondering: no, they aren’t exactly the same. For one thing, Patrolman Louis Crawley advanced from Patrolman to Sergeant—or, perhaps, in the reverse, as we’ve seen that change in rank was easily a two way street back then, providing no mechanism to help us fix the photo list’s date any more precisely. We’ll have to be happy with 1912—give or take a year or two—as our working date.

What that list gives me, though, is confirmation that both for the 1912 directory and for this contemporary roster of the police department, there was only one John Kelly Stevens.

So whichever reporter got the story wrong—whether for that birth announcement in 1904 or that death report in 1919—couldn’t have claimed a case of mistaken identity. There was only one John Kelly Stevens working for the Fort Wayne police force back then.

There. Rest my case.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What’s Up With This Name Stuff, Anyway?

When you are researching a fairly common name—John Stevens, say—you absolutely have to take special pains to insure you are not barking up the wrong (family) tree.

Think of it: there are currently over five million people in the United States alone with the first name John. Couple that with the one hundred twenty second most popular surname—Stevens—and you net a result of nearly thirty five hundred guys currently walking around in this country with the same name as my husband’s great-grandfather.

Now you see the utility of inserting the middle name, Kelly.

(I found that little bit of trivia, by the way, by Googling “How many people have the surname Stevens?” and landing on a doubtful website that claimed to provide the answer to such a question. I have no idea how accurate their claims are, or how carefully they do their number crunching to come up with the results. Let’s just say this is a less than scientific foray into the possibilities.)

So yesterday, I half-jokingly tossed out the question of whether there might be two John Kelly Stevenses in Fort Wayne in the early 1900s. After all, that could be a possibility for resolving my two dilemmas with the inexplicable newspaper assertions I’ve found.

Taking a survey of all the news stories I’ve found on the man, his name seems to have morphed, over the years, from John K. Stevens to J. Kelly Stevens to even, sometimes, just plain Kelly Stevens. See, for example, the October 30, 1915, entry in The Fort Wayne Sentinel under the headline, “Jail Bird of Cider Souse Fame is Back—Bill Kirby Tore Up His Breeks Just to Spite a Saloon Keeper”:
...Patrolman Kelly Stevens was called in and Kirby was arrested. He was taken to headquarters clothed in a blanket....
Why did he seem to find the insertion of Kelly so useful?

For one thing, Kelly actually was his middle name—the addition of his mother’s maiden name to his father’s namesake.

But there was another handy Kelly link—that of his own second wife’s family. Those of you who have been following along with A Family Tapestry for the duration may remember that the man whose mother was named Catherine Kelly also married a woman named Catherine Kelly.

While Catherine Kelly, the wife, died shortly after giving birth to a son (William Stevens, who later moved to Chicago and married Agnes Tully), evidently her husband maintained ties with the Fort Wayne Kelly family long after Catherine’s passing.

In fact, what I have yet to be able to fully document is the possibility that John Kelly Stevens actually worked with a distant relative during his tenure at the Fort Wayne Police Department. The man’s name was Richard Kelly, and he sometimes partnered with John Kelly in capers mentioned in the various city newspapers—and sometimes served as his sergeant. Richard Kelly actually preceded John Kelly Stevens on the police force, having been appointed in 1891, five years before John Kelly Stevens came on board.

While I have yet to substantiate the familial relationship—this is a subject I’ll explore further in posts in a couple weeks—there evidently was an affinity between John K. Stevens and the extended Kelly family of Fort Wayne. For whatever reason, it was a connection he sought to exploit, over the years, with the added emphasis provided by the change in how he used his own name.

Monday, August 19, 2013

More Newspaper Mythology

Just when you think you can proceed—with caution, of course—on your predetermined course of research action, what should come up and slap you in the face but another error?!

Consider this: by the year 1904, John Kelly Stevens is forty eight years of age. He is on his third wife: the former Theresa Blaising of New Haven, Indiana. The other two wives have already died, each shortly after childbirth. Theresa, perhaps wisely, had chosen a different course for herself. She, by the way, would be thirty eight, herself, by 1904.

And then, just after the beginning of that new year of 1904, John Kelly slips into his seat at the office—or wherever he chose to scan the day’s headlines—and his eyes light on the following statement in the newsprint:
The Birth Record...born, to Police Officer J. Kelly Stevens and wife—a daughter.
Say what?!

Believe me: I’ve searched high, I’ve searched low. Just because something is in print doesn't mean it is true, right?

I still can’t conjure up the convoluted path the Fort Wayne Daily News took on January 27, 1904, to come up with a statement like that. I find no such birth record in the Allen County documents. I find no corresponding death record for any “Baby Girl Stevens” to explain away the baby-that-wasn’t. I’ve asked older relatives in the Stevens family—those who would have remembered any story like that, or who at least remembered Theresa Blaising Stevens—and no results. Other than a total blank.

You know that wasn’t the first time I’ve run across a newspaper entry that had me puzzled. Of course, the last one I mentioned—that of “nephew Raphael Kruse”—turned out to be true. And it took me a lot of research time, too.

This time, though, I haven’t been able to find any plausible explanation, despite all the research time it took to check it out.

And that’s not all. Try this other one on for size. Of course, it occurred much later than the previous entry. Here’s what the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette had to say on page six of the July 26, 1919, edition:
Officer John K. Stevens was notified of the death of his mother at Lafayette. The funeral will be held on Monday.
Granted, John Kelly was from Lafayette, Indiana—correct on that one point. But his own mother died shortly after giving birth to John Kelly’s younger brother, William, in 1858. That’s a far cry from 1919. And the entry wasn’t referring to his step-mother, either. Eliza Murdock Stevens died in 1901—again, way sooner than this news report.

Thinking perhaps it was a mother-in-law, rather than a mother, I girded myself for a search in triplicate. After all, John Kelly was married three times, so that would mean three mothers-in-law. But no, that theory would hardly seem likely. His first wife, Mary Clara Miller, was born in 1856. While I don’t yet know her parents’ names, it would be quite a stretch to think a woman born by at least 1836 would still be alive in 1919, at eighty three years of age or more. Though she never lived to know it, John Kelly’s second wife, Catherine Kelly, had a mother who died in 1903. And Theresa Blaising Stevens’ mother passed in 1907.

So who would it be in John Kelly Stevens’ family who died in 1919?

Not either of his brothers. Nor his half-sisters. Nor his step-sister. Nor any other distant family member that I can find.

It just seems like it was yet another one of those mysterious editorial mistakes that news publications are prone to suffer.

If nothing else, it certainly puts me through my paces in double-checking all those vital statistics listed in my database.

And it makes me wonder about the crazy possibility that there might be two men by the name John Kelly Stevens on the Fort Wayne police force.

Nah. Couldn’t be!

Or could it?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

…Still Holding on Line One

Do you ever feel like part of your life was put on hold as if it were some phone call to a busy company? Does it make you want to hang up and call back again, to remind the party on the other line that you’re still waiting?

Somehow, I feel like I’ve done that to those of you who’ve been wondering whatever happened to the rest of the story on John Kelly Stevens.

It was that strange newspaper entry on March 24, 1900, that got me off track:
Police Sergeant Stevens received a telegram last night from Lafayette, stating that his nephew, Raphael Kruse, had been run over by a wagon and killed while on his way to school.
Yes, we’ve found out who Raphael Kruse was—but what a circuitous route it took us to piece that whole family back together! And it left more mysteries—but they are questions I’ll have to spend some serious time unraveling before I can write more on them.

Now that I’m home from all my summer travels—well, excepting that my heart is still wishing to fly to Fort Wayne this upcoming week to participate in the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ annual conference—I can now access all my homebound databases and files.

And get back to what we were first talking about.

You know, of course, that there is much more on the story of John Kelly Stevens, himself, before we can adequately move back to the preceding generation.

So let’s pick up with the early 1900s in Fort Wayne again, and see what else can be found regarding the good sergeant.

While John Kelly Stevens had had his fair share of mentions in the city’s newspapers, there still were gaps in the timeline. I did learn my way around those news silences, though, when I realized that he apparently went by a nickname—losing the “John” and going only by “Kelly” as have some of his namesakes since then. By searching not only for “John Stevens” but also for “Kelly Stevens,” I got more results for my inquiries.

Even so, the next mention of the man wasn’t until over a year and a half later. Once again, it yields some difficulties for me in that it gives me a sense of a missing story.

The first clue comes from the title of a news report in the October 23, 1902, Fort Wayne Daily News: “Day Policemen Get New Orders From Superintendent.”

Along with the details of other exchanges, here were the details involving John Kelly Stevens’ new assignment:
Officer Stevens succeeds Officer Pageler on the beat down town on the west side of Calhoun street. Pageler goes to beat No. 3 in the seventh and tenth wards. Officer Petgen goes to Officer Stevens’ old beat in the western part of the city, known as beat No. S.
Say, wait! Did that newspaper say officer? What happened to sergeant?!

Just like that—and just as the family tradition had said it was—Stevens was busted back to line staff level. When did that happen? And why? With all the mentions of his name in the various newspapers over the years, you’d think there would be something explaining a change as significant as that. Was it a voluntary demotion? A disciplinary action? A reduction in force? Or maybe—considering the political ambience of the community—a political move?

The only explanation I could discover was quite an indirect one. Much later—in 1906, in fact—the city’s Journal Gazette published an article called “The Men on Guard Over Fort Wayne's Population.” Buried on page twenty of the June third Sunday morning edition, the article was subtitled, “Interesting Sketch of the Fort Wayne Police Force and Its Former and Present Leaders.”

Though most of the article focused on the men at the top of the police department, it did glance at some organization-wide details, including what would be expected under the heading, “Fine Looking Coppers” (apparently, John Kelly was included as one of the “men who measure 5 feet, 11”).

A little detail gleaned from that year’s annual report was mentioned in the article. In general,
The police department of Fort Wayne, as now constituted, consists of fifty men. This includes the superintendent, the captain, the lieutenant, the sergeants, the clerks and the patrolmen. There are thirty seven patrolmen.
Considering that, it was interesting to note that, of the sergeants, apparently none were employed during the day shift—the shift in which John Kelly worked.
Of the force of patrolmen ten men, with the lieutenant, one clerk, and one driver, are on duty during the day, and twenty-five patrolmen, the captain, two sergeants, a driver and a clerk at night.
Could it be assumed, then, that the position of sergeant was removed from the organizational charts for the day shift, but John Kelly chose not to switch his work hours?

That would be a tidy explanation, but I tend to favor the thought passed down by family: it was a political shift in direction that caused John Kelly’s demotion. And some news reporting could leave one to conclude that, in general. After all, don’t forget that breathless mention in the May 7, 1898, Fort Wayne News:
Those who are not on the inside think that Sergeant Stevens will be reduced to the ranks when William Borgman becomes captain of the police force. The News knows that the changes in contemplation will in no way affect Sergeant Stevens. If you want the particulars, read the News.
Oh, believe me, I’m still reading The News, looking for any further explanation. While everyone else in Fort Wayne may have forgotten Sergeant Stevens, I still want to know what those changes were.

Artwork, above left: "Young Woman on Telephone," 1912 oil on canvas by Max Schuler; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain in the United States, European Union, Australia, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the artist plus seventy years.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Call to Regroup

While stumbling upon an ooh-shiny diversion is ever so fun, when it comes to genealogy, there’s got to be a time to stop and re-gather the facts and assess the next step.

I’ve been wandering around the Murdock family history as a way to place exactly when Eliza Murdock—or, more correctly, the now-widowed Eliza Murdock Clark—married widower John Stevens in Lafayette, Indiana. That, in itself, seems relatively easy to answer, now (they were married in December of 1860—so John couldn't have been too far away, right?). It’s when the sum total of the two families actually qualified as officially “blended” that has me searching for more documentation.

You see, there seems to be a few missing children on either side of this marriage. Let’s recap:
  • In the 1860 census, Eliza was still listed as a Clark and appeared in her brother Samuel Murdock’s household, along with her daughter “Ellen”
  • In the 1860 census, John Stevens was nowhere to be found; neither were his three sons, James, John Kelly and William
  • In the 1870 census, John and Eliza were listed in the same household with some of their children
  • Missing from the 1870 census were John’s youngest son, William, and Eliza’s oldest daughter, Ellen.
Of course, this isn’t the first I’ve noticed this discrepancy. It happens to be one of those details that has bothered me for years.

You can see how much progress being bothered has gained me.

In the back of my mind, I keep hoping that the discoveries will lead me to some until-now unknown relatives—or at least some other kind-hearted soul who was willing to take in these children after their respective losses of a parent. I know that, every day, large numbers of newly-digitized documents get uploaded to online resources such as and I know that large numbers of documents are indexed to facilitate easier searching every day, too.

Somehow, though, the precise explanation I keep hoping for does not manage to materialize. I cringe to think of what that might mean: if I can’t perfect my advanced-search techniques sufficiently enough to isolate the family cluster of those three sons for 1860, or Ellen-Helen-Nellie in 1870, I might just have to sequester myself away some dull, dreary rainy day next fall and crank through those Tippecanoe County census records, page by page.

As a good friend of mine used to say, “Oh, groan…”

Friday, August 16, 2013

Starting to Unravel the Mystery

We see, before our very eyes with the comments to yesterday's post, a demonstration of a point I like to make: research can go faster, better, and with more fun if you crowdsource your dilemmas. That's why I'm an advocate of blogging your family history. And of participating in online forums and genealogy sites. And going social—both at home with your local society, and elsewhere through media opportunities such as genchat.

Not that I don't believe in checking your own resources. By all means. In fact, let the "buyer" beware! We each need to prove our own research work. But that doesn't mean we can't share and share alike so those puzzle pieces one finds can be passed to the other who needs them.

Once again, I'm thankful to reader and fellow blogger "Intense Guy" for locating an old volume, readily available online, which provides a corollary to the Murdock family I'm currently exploring. Yet, while the link Iggy provided for Past and Present of Tippecanoe County, Indiana contained so much helpful information on this Murdock family, it still calls for further examination.

For one thing, the optical character recognition technology, combined with old print fonts, sometimes yields weird results. Like the statement about James Murdock's parents living on a farm in Ireland until emigration to Canada in 1848, then subsequently moving to New York "in 1830."

Say what?!

A simple switch to a different online version of the same volume yields the more believable 1850 as their date for moving to New York. (I appreciate that second version also, by the way, because it includes a handsome photograph of the subject of that biographical sketch, James Murdock, in addition to the more readable text.)

James, in case you are wondering, was younger brother of the mysterious Samuel I mentioned yesterday—the older brother who died in November, 1861, from injuries inflicted the week prior to his demise.

By using the biographical sketch for Samuel's better-known younger brother, we get some idea of this immigrant family's roots. I'm certainly grateful for that help. Considering the zigzag route the Murdock family took to arrive in Lafayette, Indiana, I can't say that I'd have come up with that conclusion on my own.

Or can we actually assume all this information provided in this town history is entirely correct?

While entering some of the siblings' names alongside my Stevens family's step-mother, Eliza Murdock Clark Stevens, I uncovered some details that seem to indicate that not all was remembered as clearly as brother James—or whoever provided this copy to the book's publisher—might have recalled.

For one thing, apparently the family didn't arrive in the New World all together. Remember Sally-Sibba-Sabina? Whether this entry, found at, is hers—after all, it lists the mother as "Libby" rather than a possible "Sibby"—it shows a mother accompanying young men of that same Murdock surname, in that same Murdock order: James, John and Thomas. They were sailing from Sligo, the Murdocks' former Irish home, arriving at the port of New York on November 5, 1852. Perhaps the Murdock patriarch, plus at least one older sibling, had already made the trip across the Atlantic. And Eliza, now married and perhaps also by now the proud parent of daughter Ellen-Helen-Nellie, had stayed behind to make the long trip to join the extended family at a later point.

That is...if this is, indeed, the listing for our Murdock family. And it may possibly be so. Witness the 1900 census entry for James in the household of his son Samuel: he gives his year of arrival in the United States as 1852. Bingo. Maybe.

If it was 1852, then James didn't quite remember things in that same order when providing the data for his biographical sketch. But if it is, I've also got a long way to go to find the rest of the bunch—especially to determine what became of his brother Samuel before his 1861 passing.

Even so, I'm still a whole lot further along in my research than if someone hadn't shared that helpful resource that moved this whole process along. For gifts like that, I am always grateful!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Murdock and Murder

The unexpected stuff you can find while innocently scooting around the Internet, minding your genealogical business...

File this one under "Things I Had No Clue I'd Find."

Just to get my bearings again, as well as help bring you down this rabbit trail I've stumbled upon, let's recap those Kruse and Murdock connections. First, I had to figure out how my husband's ancestor, John Kelly Stevens, could be uncle to someone named Raphael Kruse. As we finally figured out, Raphael was son of Henry Kruse of Lafayette, Indiana, and his wife, the former Nellie Clark. Nellie, as it turned out, was daughter of someone who later became John Kelly Stevens' step-mother, Eliza Murdock Clark Stevens.

Got that? Good. It took me way longer than that to find the document trail that led me to that conclusion.

So, I'm wanting to know a little bit more about Nellie's mom, Eliza, see? And I work my way back through the federal census records. I started with the 1900 census, as we saw yesterday, where I posted information on Nellie's family: the five children she and her husband Henry were raising. I mentioned that their firstborn, Samuel, was likely named after Nellie's uncle, as I had vaguely remembered finally finding Nellie and her widowed mom Eliza in that uncle's household in the 1860 census.

But let's take this one step at a time, right? So I go first to the 1880 census to make sure I'm properly tracing this line back in time. Sure enough, there is the household of Henry Kruse—still employing the sign making skills he was profiting from in the later 1900 census—including his and Nellie's infant son, Samuel.

Incidentally—though this is not the rabbit trail I want to discuss in this post—this 1880 census entry for the Kruse household includes a seventeen-year-old Mary Stephens, listed as Henry's sister-in-law. As we already know from John Kelly Stevens' family tree, that would be his half-sister Mary, who, curiously enough, was also entered as a member of her parents' household for that year, as well. Score two for Mary, this go-round, despite the poorly-handled spelling in the documentation.

The 1870 census apparently goes dark for Nellie, as far as I can tell. Since she wasn't married until 1879, her listing should have been under her maiden name, Clark—or, as it was spelled for her marriage license, Clarke. But there is no applicable listing I can find, though there were others with that name in the state of Indiana.

No matter. What I'm really after is to revisit that census record showing her with her mother in the household of her uncle in the 1860 census. Sure enough, there it is: the household of Samuel Murdock, apparently a single man and farmer, listed as head of the household including his widowed mother (listed there as Sally), along with his three brothers, James, John and Thomas. And, of course, their sister Eliza and her daughter, showing there as Ellen.

Apparently, the 1860 census was the last census in which Eliza's brother Samuel was named. I wouldn't have known this, of course, if I was minding my own business and only constructing family trees of my own direct descendants. But I never stop just there. A long-past experience I had when first beginning my own genealogical research taught me to configure my work to show descendants as well as ancestors. I know, nobody does that anymore. Except me.

So, what do I find when I wander onto this traditional-for-me research path? Wanting to fill in the blanks for Eliza's own family tree, despite her position in my tree as mere step-mother to our Stevens line, I take that 1860 census as the start of my marching orders for the Murdock tree, and work from the top.

The "top," in this case, was Eliza's older brother Samuel. And my first step was to add him to my records on my Stevens tree at

Wouldn't you know it, as I work along, those ever-present "hints" started showing up with their little shaky leaves.

There was one for Find A Grave. I clicked on over to take a look.

Whoever the volunteer was that set up the page for Samuel Murdock went above and beyond the call of duty. Included with the usual headstone photographs was a photocopy of an old newspaper report.
Samuel Murdock, who we mentioned last week as having been stabbed in the neck, died this (Thursday) morning, from the effects of the wound. Mr. Murdock was an industrious and sober young man and none can but regret his sudden death.
"Who we mentioned last week"???

A statement like that could make a soul wish to travel cross country once again.

Though the newspaper clipping shown at the Find A Grave site for Samuel's burial didn't source the entry, it most likely was from the Lafayette newspaper. Of course, that just happens to be one of those newspapers not generally available in any of the usual subscription-based historic newspaper collections available online.

Of course you know I'm wishing I could get my hands on the preceding week's news. A stab in the neck? What on earth for? That hardly sounds like something that would happen to "an industrious and sober young man."

Oh, how I want to know the rest of the story!

Perhaps there will be some kind soul who will come to my rescue. After all, I only get back to Indiana once a year. And I'm not sure I could bear to wait that long.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Henry and Family

While we're waiting for that file describing what happened to Henry Kruse and his family, let's take a look at the snapshot of 1900 from the Federal Census for Tippecanoe County, Indiana. There, Henry's residence is showing at 714 Cincinnati Street in the city of Lafayette.

Henry, a sign painter by trade, lived with his wife of twenty one years, Nellie, and their three sons and two daughters. Already, we know that tragedy had struck the home through the sudden death of their son, Raphael, but the census reveals that his was not the only loss the family suffered. The five children living in the household in 1900 were only half those born to Henry and Nellie. In addition to Raphael, the couple had lost four other children.

Granted, that sometimes was the story for families of that era, for many reasons. It still is, though, something I can't get my head around. How difficult each of those losses must have been, no matter how much the family steeled themselves for such inevitabilities.

The 1900 census listed Henry as being fifty three years of age, having been born in January of 1847. A native of the state, Henry was born to immigrant parents, listed here as originating in Germany. His wife, Nellie, as we already know, was foreign born, herself, an Irish immigrant arriving in Lafayette as a child sometime before the 1860 census was taken. What became of her father, I've yet to determine, though he was already absent by that 1860 census.

The Kruse children included twenty year old Samuel, who may have been named after Nellie's uncle, the man in whose household Nellie and her mom had been listed as "domestic" servants in that 1860 census that had been such a puzzle to me until now. Second-born Theodore followed his brother by two years, and another son, Herbert, trailed him by a year and a half. The two older sons now were employed as clerks in a dry goods store, very possibly the shop owned by one of their Murdock relatives.

A four year gap separated the sons from the daughters, and another three year span between the two sisters provides hints of the absences the family now bore. Older sister Henrietta, born in 1888, and younger sister Laura, born in 1891, completed the family, for their mother, Nellie, was now nearing forty eight years of age, herself.

It was the marriage certificates for some of these children, found at, that helped me determine the full name of their mother, Nellie. Apparently, her given name was either Ellen or—more likely—Helen, with a middle name, according to one sole record, of Gertrude.

How closely Helen-Ellen-Nellie kept in touch with her half-sisters Sarah, Elizabeth and Mary—or her step-brothers from John Stevens' first marriage, James, John Kelly and William—I've yet to determine. In her own obituary, as we've seen, only her half-sisters were mentioned among those surviving her. And yet, for whatever reason, when tragedy struck the Kruse family, apparently there was enough of a connection for her to send a telegram to Fort Wayne to summon the one out-of-town step-brother she had.

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 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 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.

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