Monday, June 9, 2008

Cemetery Visits; new censuses available; Everett Reynolds' disappearing act; photo project

Hold tight for a long entry!

The weekend before this past one I went to several cemeteries. The first, St. James, held great promise as I had no idea who I would actually find there but had read online that my ancestor Peter Steffen had donated the land for the cemetery and the church. I went there first because I was excited that he might be there since I don't know much about him or his family.

I found that I am probably related to almost everyone in the cemetery there. The cemetery is full of Hagemanns and Fischers which was pretty intersting. My greatest find, though, was Peter Steffen's moument which had his daughter Franziska Steffen Starck's information on it. Franziska was married to Peter Starck, and their daughter Helen Stark is my great-great grandmother. Franziska had died young but I hadn't been able to find records for her birth nor death. The stone however had both dates in full, and this is very exciting. There were other Steffens throughout the cemetery as well as other families married in to the ones mentioned before. Some of the Steffens were ones I did not have in my records and I have yet to figure out who exactly they are. Other names in the cemetery such as Puetz and Peshon are related to us through the surnames already mentioned, also.

An interesting find towards the back of the cemetery was a stone which had some young Starck people on it but I only know who one of them was.. there was a Mathias, Margaretha and Gertud and I was only able to find the Mathias in the records I have as being a brother of Peter Starck. I do not know who the others are but all are early births and deaths.

After this cemetery I went down the road a ways to St. Martin of Tours cemetery. I searched the entire cemetery, puzzled that I hadn't found Peter Stark even though his death record had said this was where he was buried. As I was walking back to the car I saw the name Stark on the back of a stone which I had searched the front of earlier. I got closer and found that indeed Peter's name, and that of his second wife Margaret Logic, was carved on the back of his daughter Mary Stark's stone with her husband George Acker.

Next I made a return to St. Louis Cemetery in Caledonia because I had found out that the family of Franziska Steffen's mother, Elizabetha Rauguth, had lived in Caledonia and belonged to the St. Louis parish. This is quite the coincidence that the ancestors/families of my grandpa Schmitt's father and mother lived near and knew each other long before Catherine Emerich and Lester Walter were even born. I'm not sure if this was a conscious connection or not but I will try to find out.

Finally, this past weekend I went back to Hake (Rock River) Cemetery in Jefferson to try to look for the McConnells that I could not find on my previous visit. Alex McConnell's death record said that he was buried there but I have still been unable to find his gravestone or that of his wife, Elizabeth Hake McConnell. I did some poking around but all I found really was a gopher which came lunging at me across the cemetery. I also noted that Alex's business partner W. H. Hake was buried a row down the hill from where the McConnell children are (and where I believe Alex and Elizabeth to be as well).

I have also been puzzling over the problem of Everett Elisha Reynolds. I do not know for sure if he simply disappeared or died while the family was living in Deerfield. I found on's new pilot site that they have Wisconsin censuses from, 1855, 75, 85, 95 and 05, most I've never seen before much less knew existed. Through these I looked up several families I am interested in, including finding John Mayville in DePere in 1855.

But back to the Deerfield question. When my grandmother first told me about these families as I was starting research on that side of the family, she told me a story about how "Garfield Reynolds" had gone west to California during the gold rush, and that he had written some letters back at first but then the family had never heard from him again.

The only Garfield I have found in my records was the son of Everett Elisha Reynolds and Kate McConnell, and he was born in 1882, quite long after the California gold rush (1849) and seems to have lived in Jefferson Co most of his life as a painter, usually his residence was with his widowed(?) mother, Kate. He died there in 1940 and is buried at Hake Cemetery with his mother but no Everett anywhere to be found. I had narrowed down that Everett had died or disappeared by 1900 but with the 1895 census available I was able to narrow down his timeframe to disappearing between 1886 (the year his last child was born) and 1895. I find that he could not have gone west for the gold rush in CA (he was born in 1847) and that his father (Elisha Tilton) would not have done so either, because he seems to have lived out his life in its entirety in northern Maine.

So the dilemma is, who is this my grandmother was referring to? His name can't have been Garfield, but was it Everett Elisha? The story must be true to some respect- someone had disappeared- but who was it? Kate was listed as a widow in 1895 and 1900-- did Everett simply die in Deerfield, or did he go west for some unknown reason and not turn back?

I already have one instance of him leaving his life to go somewhere new. Everett had a wife, Melissa Harris, in his native Maine. All but one of the children from that marriage died young, the last of those in 1880 when presumably he picked up and left for Wisconsin--- not sure if he brought his one daughter, Verna Luella, with him but he married Kate McConnell in 1881 and had three children, then within 5 years had disappeared again. So, that is something I have been puzzling about, as well as who took care of Verna for all this time and how she ended up marrying a man from Ohio.

Something else going on is that I have started a new project, because I just didn't have enough to do before :P I have started scanning all of my Mayville grandparents' photos in the hope of eventually getting them on a website ( eventually... although it is going to take quite some while as I haven't even gotten to the beginning of the scanning, and once I do that I have to resize images and upload them, and then code it all on... in general its a huge project.

I have made an appointment for the Vital Recs office on Wednesday. the day was completely open so the lady offered me two slots in a row, so I will have over 4 hours to search the records. Woohoo.