Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reynolds & Liebenow updates

Woo, it seems today I have made some small leaps in a couple of what seem to have been brick walls..

I talked to Gilbert H. from Caribou, ME, on the phone today. He is a local historian there, having lived in the area his whole life (73 years I believe). He told me about a pamphlet he had found which was from the Reynolds Family Association and had a section about our family, particularly about Everett Elisha Reynolds. This pamphlet was published in 1931 and apparently Everett was still alive then.

I found there to be some very interesting information in what he read aloud to me from this book: it states that Everett "is a shoemaker of Canton, ME", "Lived in Brockton; Wisconsin for seven years; California two years; Caribou, Hartford, Ft. Fairfield, ME. In 1888 went to Glasgow, Scotland for short time."

He went to SCOTLAND?! He was busy in 1888. This is the year he left his Wisconsin family; the year he supposedly went to California (according to my grandmother her story had been he went to Cali for a gold rush? [gold rush part ruled implausible because of the year] and wrote to the family a few times but then was never heard from again); the year he found the plow and brought it to Green Ridge Grange starting on August 3rd 1888 and taking 37 days to reach Green Ridge, ME.; and NOW he also went to Scotland in 1888. Now isn't that something???

This basically has connected almost everything I have found out so far, from his first wife Melissa Harris (and children, including another daughter that I hadn't known about yet), to his time in Wisconsin and his marriage to Kate McConnell (which this book acknowledges that at the time- 1931- she and the three children were living in Chicago... I'm not sure about that I need to try to see if my grandma knows why she would have been in Chicago at all).

It connects all of the scattered people and places who I have been trying to prove are all tied to a single entity, Everett Elisha Reynolds, rather than perhaps chasing two different people who lived parts of each of these lives but aren't the same person and one isn't my ancestor. No, I can now almost definitively (and only "almost" because nothing is EVER definitive in genealogy or anything else for that matter) say, that Everett Elisha Reynolds, the man I have traced in all of these unlikely, varied places, with varied little notes attached, is indeed one person who did all of these things and is indeed my ancestor without a doubt.

I think most intriguingly is that he sent in this information himself, because he was a member of the Reynolds Family Association (RFA) and I believe that they probably required then, as they do now, all applying members to submit their direct Reynolds lineage and any pertinent information to each person.

I think the last two bits of information I really want are to know if Everett's journal is still around, and also to try to find out when Everett died. I tried looking through RFA obituaries today at the Historical Society, because their yearly newletter/pamphlet contains a section for obituaries of Reynolds descendants, but in years 1931-36 I could not find him. I suppose it wouldn't shock me that he lived to be 100, but who on earth knows. I just need to find out somehow.

Gilbert didn't know anything of a Reynolds diary when I mentioned it, but he said he would inquire around town. He also said his wife's second cousin is a Dr. Jay Reynolds who lives in, I think, Ft. Fairfield, and whom Jim Ashby suggested I write asking if there was such a diary still around. I haven't heard from the Dr. Reynolds but I hope someone will find something out there in Maine.

Also, I have been working on my photo project... It's nearing "final" stages- won't ever be done, really, hopefully, I keep adding new pictures- but one of the last stages is digging through all of my family emails for pictures people have sent me over the years to include in the family photos I have just from my family. The site is

In any event, I was just rummaging through the Liebenow family folder in my email and I found the email where someone transcribed the marriage record from a Pittsburgh church for Ferdinand Liebenow and Augusta Koch. It says witnesses were Ferdinand Koch and Albertina Koch. I decided to search the 1900 census for a Ferdinand Koch living in PA, but assuming I had already done this when I first got the email, I didn't expect to find anything. Well, I found one about 40 some years old in 1900, living in Pittsburgh. He has a huge household, and I look at the bottom and see that his PARENTS are living with him.

Well, I see that this could very likely be the brother of my August Koch, because her death record has the father's name as Earnest Koch and mother as Earnestine Schoso (b. ca. 1832 and living in 1905 with Ferdinand and Augusta in Wisconsin). So, the parents names are Ernest and Christiana. Ernest is b. Jan 1834 and the wife is Aug 1832. Their immigration year is given as 1882, which is [admittedly a sort of long shot] the same year as Augusta Koch immigrated (I don't think I have found their names in any passenger lists yet but I need to try harder to now, to confirm this census-made connection).

So, I am pretty excited about these new openings and will hopefully keep updating this about them

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bingen Homestead, Great-Grandparent treasure trove

This past weekend turned out to be quite exciting. On Saturday I drove to Milwaukee to meet my cousin Jack Bingen Copet who I have corresponded with for a few years now about the Bingen family.

Jack showed me around Allenton and Addison, two small communities in Washington Co. This included several churches and cemeteries. The last cemetery we visited was St. Anthony, which contained the graves of my ancestors Johann Bingen and Anna Maria Mueller as well as Anna Mueller's parents, Mathias Mueller and Elizabeth Bommersbach.

After wandering around outside of St. Anthony's church for a while we went to the top of the hill where a cousin of ours, Dorothy Weiss, lives. Jack wanted to ask her all she knew about where the Bingen homestead was, and who we might ask for permission to look at it. We were told that it was just ruins back in the woods somewhere, but we still agreed that it would be very interesting to look at anyways.

We drove to this person's farm and asked them if they knew anything about it. The man who owned the farm told us it was back along this, basically, wagon trail, and that it would get brush-y and we'd have to go for a little jog but that the foundation was still there and the remains of a summer kitchen.

We started driving back on the trail but it was crazy- lots of rocks rutting the entire thing, huge dips and other similar things, so we eventually abandoned the car and set out on foot for as far as we could go on the path.

The entire path was overdrawn by a canopy of trees, bright new green leaves leaving dappled splotches of light all on the ground. We walked briskly to avoid the perpetual onslaught of bugs, but were constantly looking around everywhere for signs of what we had been told to look for. We walked very far back along the path and eventually ran into a full-blown forest where the path we were on split in two directions. Each of us went down one way and then came back, deciding we still didn't see anything.

We gave up and traipsed back to the car, determined to ask Mark, the farm owner, some more questions to try to find what we were looking for. Just as we reached it we took another look at the square of grassy field next to the car. I had briefly considered the spot right when we stopped, I guess using my affinity for archaeological concerns, but I hadn't seen anything conclusive that looked like a foundation from where we were on the path.

We asked Mark, and he offered to take us on his 4-wheeler to show us. Of course, he stopped right where we had stopped the car. The ruins were back behind some of the huge overgrowth of grass and weeds, prickly plants and so on, that had taken over the small square of land since a home had been there. Mark left us, and Jack and I proceeded to jump through the tall foliage to where we could see a lot of stones. We found the back edge of what we believe was the foundation of a house, the stones perfectly aligned in a straight edge.

Well we took a lot of pictures, took a couple of interesting rocks from there and then left.

Yesterday I was at my grandmother's house doing some yardwork and we decided to go in the basement to try to find the elusive little book that Mathew Diebold wrote all of his plans in for building the Diebold house that now stands on Breese Terrace here in Madison.

We found a large box and the first thing I saw was a bag of pictures!! I couldn't believe it. My grandmother didn't understand, either, because she had thought all of our family pictures were upstairs and already indexed. But no, here is a nice big collection I now have to get labelled and indexed for my photo porject.

Also in the box was a huge assortment of memorabilia from my great-grandparents Blanche Tice and Sylvester Diebold. We found a program from a 1914 horse show that had Mathew Diebold's most famous horse, Lady Broderick, being shown by his son James Diebold.

Blanche's yearbook from Marshfield High School were there as well as her nursing yearbooks from when she attended nursing school at St. Joseph's in Marshfield. There was also a scrapbook album Blanche had assembled from her Junior, senior and post-hs years including a lot of interesting mementos, old crepe napkins and other things, and at the back a series of journal-style entries detailing trips and other high points in life after graduating from high school. Included in this was the chilling "Joe died" on a particular June day. Blanche was initially engaged to Joe Marsh when he signed up for service and had acute appendicitis strike him soon after arriving at camp. He underwent a number of botched surgeries and eventually died, and this is what caused Blanche to enter nursing school. So, this was altogether extremely poignant look into Blanche's early life.

I found another box with an old metal chain link purse that must have been hers as well as some drawings Sylvester did in middle and high school - ca. 1915! They are pretty fantastic and all in good shape still. These were very exciting finds!!