My Research Trip to Neillsville Wisconsin

John Desens Tombstone

 

Last week I took a genealogy trip to the middle of Wisconsin in search of a man that I believe could be my great-great grandfather.  Let’s put it this way, I am 95% sure that this man is my great-great grandfather.  What I need is a document that proves it.  I believe this man to be my great-great grandfather because he has the same name and his wife has the same name as my great-great grandmother.  His son that lived nearby has the same name as my great grandfather’s brother.  My father told me way back in 1979 that we had ancestors who lived in Wisconsin and were killed by Indians.  Well the man I think is my great-great grandfather was killed by his neighbor and his son was killed by an accident with his shot gun.  This is a lot of circumstantial evidence.  So to Wisconsin I went with hopes of getting the documentation that I need.

My ancestor lived on a farm near Greenwood Wisconsin.  Since he owned land, I figured that there should be a probate file.  So my first stop at the Court House in Neillsville, Wisconsin was the Probate Office.  I was told that the old probate files had been transferred to the Wisconsin State Archives in Madison, but she was able to tell me that there is a file and gave me the number.  Then I went to the Circuit Clerk to see if there was a criminal file for the neighbor that killed him.  I was not allowed to search, they will search for me at their convenience.  I filled out a form and paid $5.00 for the search.  I will see if anything comes of it.  My next stop was the land office since he owned land.  The lady in this office was great!  She showed me to the Grantor and Grantee books and let me search.  I knew his death date so I started with the Grantor books for 1907 and found the sale of the farm in Sept of 1907.  I did not recognize the name of the man who purchased it.  Next I wanted to see the title and get a legal description.  So I copied down the information and went back to clerk with the information of the book and page number the title should be in.  She had to take to the basement of the court house. In the basement the book shelves were covered with plastic tarps.  She pulls a tarp back, pulls out the book and opens to the page.  I was able to write down the legal description.  Then next to that title was one for his son.  I wrote down that legal description too.  It appeared that they each owned 40 acres next to one another.  The clerk asked me if I would like to know where the farms were today.  She anticipated my next question!  We went back upstairs to look at the current plot book. By the legal description we were able to find the farms and the roads that they are on today.

My husband and I drove out to the farm, and I was able to get some pictures and see what it looks like today.  Then we went to find the cemetery where he is buried.  I had this information from the Internet.  I was hoping he had a headstone so I could find his grave and he did, but his son who is buried right next to him did not.  The church he went to is close by the cemetery.   Both Church and Cemetery are close to his farm.

I should say that before I went I had sent for his death certificate which said he died of multiple stab wounds to the chest.  This peaked my curiosity about his death and contacted a library in the area to see if they had obits.  They found a newspaper article about his death.  I still don’t have the proof I need, but I’m still working on it.  It looks like my next trip is to the Wisconsin State Archives in Madison.

Note: When I have all the information I need, I intend to write his story.  That is why I am not including too many details here.  This is intended to be more about my research trip.

 

Copyright © 2014 Gail Grunst

 

Bower’s Family 1757 – 1955 Research Notes

Research Notes

I started researching the Bowers’ Family in 1979 by interviewing my grandmother, Helen Bowers Kaiser.  She told me that her mother and father were divorced when she was a small child.  She said that her father’s family, the Bowers, thought they were better than her mother’s family, the Reinhardt’s, and would not acknowledge their marriage.   After her mother and father divorced her father has nothing to do with his children.  Her mother pointed her father out to her one time when they saw him walking down the street.  Helen, my grandmother, ran up to him and told him that she was his daughter.  He said, “Get away from me kid, I don’t have any children.”  Another time they saw her grandmother, Alexena Bowers, in the cemetery but her grandmother did not acknowledge their presence. She said that her father was a musician and a drunk.  Her mother read in the paper that her father died frozen to death in the doorway of an apartment building in Chicago.  He had passed out drunk and froze to death.  She said her grandmother’s maiden name was Fischer and she came from Canada. They were related to the people who built the bodies for Chevrolet cars (Fischer Body).  Other than that she knew very little about her father’s family.

I next visited the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery in Ottawa Illinois and found the graves of the Bowers’ Family.  I found the birth and death dates of Charles, Alexena and their five children.  I also found that Alexena’s maiden name was not Fischer, but it was Frazier.  My next step was to acquire the death certificate for Charles and Alexena.  I found one for Alexena, but could not find one for Charles.  I ordered Alexena’s death certificate from the State of Illinois.  It gave Alexena’s birth date, death date, and the fact that she was born in Canada and was married to Charles.   It also gave her parent’s names as David Frazier and Catherine McBean both born in Scotland. The informant was her daughter Ethelyn Bowers Vittum.  I interlibrary loaned the Republican Times newspaper from Ottawa for the dates of the death of Alexena and Charles.  I found both Alexena and Charles Bowers’ obituaries.

According to the newspaper, Alexena was born in Naragawayn, Canada.  I could not find a Naragawayn, Canada.  I wrote to a map place in Canada and was told that it was probably misspelled and the closest name to Naragawayn was Nassagaweya, Ontario, Canada.    I believe they are probably right and have gone with the assumption that Alexena was born in Nassagaweya, Ontario, Canada.  It is also a place where Scottish Highlanders settled, and since her parents were born in Scotland, I felt that the circumstantial evidence was good enough to make this assumption.  I have been unable to find an actual birth record to date as civil records do not go back that far in Canada, and I have not checked Church records as of yet.  I think that a trip to Ontario is necessary to find the missing pieces.  I haven’t been able to find any information on he parents either.  There are many Frazier/Frazer/Fraser in Ontario.  Without knowing more about David and Catherine Frazer it is impossible to figure out which one might be them in other records.

Charles’ obituary said he was born in Ferrington, Norfolk, England.  Once again I could not find a Ferrington, Norfolk, England.  I belonged to a List Serv for Norfolk, England.  I posted a question asking where Ferrington, Norfolk, England was at.  I received many answers saying that there was no Ferrington but there is a Terrington.  This would be an easy mistake for the newspaper to make.  It could be a typo or they misunderstood the person giving the information.  After that I started looking for Charles’ birth in Terrington, Norfolk, England.  There was a problem in that there are two Terringtons.   One is Terrington – St. Clement and the other one is Terrington – St John.  So when looking for the Bowers’ name, I had to look in both places. At this time I did know his parents names.  I hit a brick wall and I stuck there for many years.

I made many trips to Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois looking for information on Charles and Alexena.  I did find Charles’ naturalization papers filed in the LaSalle County, Illinois Courthouse in Ottawa, Illinois.  On his Declaration of Intent it gave the date he left England and the date he arrived in New York.  With this information, I was able to locate the ship he came on to the United States, and I was able to look at the passenger list.  Someone came with him who also had the last name Bowers.  He was about 50 years old and it looked like his first name was Bonard.  It was hard to read the microfilm. I searched all over for a Bonard and all possible spellings, but had no luck.  Charles’ obituary mentioned that he had two brothers Robert and William that lived in Syracuse, New York.  I did find a Robert but did not know if it was Charles’ brother.  One day in 2009, I was searching on the Internet and decided to search Terrington, Norfolk, England.  I found the Wisbeck and the Fenlands Website that listed baptisms, marriages, and burials of people living in Terrington-St.Clements, Norfolk, England.  I searched the surname Bowers.  I came across the name Bonnet Bowers who married an Eliza Linford.  When I saw the name Bonnet it hit me that this was probably the name on the passenger list.  I went back to the passenger list to look at the name again.  It could indeed be Bonnet.  I searched further and saw that a son Richard was born to Bonnet and Eliza and then a son Robert, a daughter Eliza, and Charles.  Charles’ baptism was about the same time that I had for his birth in my records. Then I searched Ancestry for Bonnet Bowers and had one hit, the 1841 England Census.  I looked at the record and there was Richard, Robert, and Charles living with Bonnet in 1841.  The mother and sister were not listed. I did not find a William as Charles’ obituary stated.  Perhaps Richard or Robert’s middle name is William.  But further research showed Richard and Robert both living in Syracuse, New York.  I found Bonnet living with Robert in Syracuse, New York.  By looking at the census records I found that Richard and Robert were both married and Richard had several children.  I was having a terrible time trying to find out when Bonnet, Richard, and Robert died.  Once again on Ancestry.com I did a search for Bonnet and found someone else with a Bonnet in their family tree.  They had 1794 as his birth where as I had 1796.  She had Bonnet’s death date as 1871.  She had Richard born in 1822 same as I did and she had Richard’s death date as 1895.  Since I now had an estimated time of death, I contacted a library in Syracuse, New York and asked if they had newspapers going back to 1871 and if the obituaries were indexed.  They wrote back and said they did have newspapers going back that far and yes the obituaries were indexed.  I asked if they could look up Richard and Bonnet.  The librarian wrote back and said she searched the NYS vital records index for Richard Bowers and located his date of death as 23 September 1895 in Syracuse.  The Vital Records registration started in New York state outside of New York City in 1881 so she was unable to look up Bonnet.  She was however able to locate a Burnet Bowers who died in Syracuse on 9 February 1871.  The obituary further stated that Burnet Bowers funeral will take place in the house of Robert Bowers in Syracuse.  Once again I think the newspaper misspelled Bonnet.

I also searched census, church records, city directories, and books for information on Charles, Alexena and their children Richard, Robert, Elizabeth, Ethelyn, and Genevieve to gather information to write this story.

It seems that some of my grandmother’s stories were correct and some false.  I was able to obtain Alexena’s probate file.  While reading her probate file, it is obvious that she did not acknowledge her grandchildren.  There is no mention in her son, Robert’s obituary that he had children nor is there any mention in Alexena’s obituary of grandchildren.  The story about her father being found dead in a doorway of an apartment building is false.  According to his death certificate he died of Tuberculosis and died in the hospital.  He was hospitalized about a month before his death.

I was curious about the house at 543 Chapel Street and did a search of property records to see who owned it before and after they did.  In doing the search, I found that Charles owned other property as well.  I found a quit claim deed that Charles’ son Robert, signed along with Robert’s wife Eva signing the property over to his mother for $1.00.  Up to this point, I have been unable to find a marriage record for Robert and Eva.  I was beginning to wonder if they were ever really married, and perhaps this was the reason that Robert’s parents did not acknowledging the marriage or grandchildren.  But Eva would not have been required to sign the quit claim deed if they had not been married.   So this is proof that they were indeed married.  I have not been able to find a record of Robert and Eva’s divorce.

My son, Brian, through his photography met a man from England on the Internet and he took a picture of the church where Bonnet and Eliza were married and their children baptized.  There is grave yard next to the church and he took some pictures of the Bowers’ graves.  There is a grave for an Eliza Bowers, however most of the tombstone is unreadable.

Everyday more and more information is on the Internet.  The LDS Family History Library in Utah is indexing their microfilm and placing it on the website.  I searched the name Bonnet Bowers in June 2011.  I had done this many times before and came up with nothing.  However in June, I found Bonnet Bowers birth listed and his parents names are Charles Bowers and Sarah Bonnet.  This made perfect sense to me since Bonnet was such an unusual name.  The date of Bonnets birth was close to what I had from his obituary the location was close to where I found Bonnet married and his children’s baptism.  I then sent for the microfilm to look at the actual record.  I also sent for film for Bonnet and Eliza’s marriage, and film with burial records for Terrington-St. Clements, Norfolk, England and found the death date for Bonnet’s daughter Eliza and wife Eliza.  As well as the death of Bonnet’s Mother, Sarah, and his Father, Charles.  Also found the births and deaths of Bonnet’s brothers and sisters.  There will always be more research to do. I hope to one day be able to go back further than 1757 and find descendants of Bonnet’s brother’s and sisters.

Did find brother William who was a step brother of Charles.  Charles’ mothehr had been married before she married Bonnet and a child William Linford. You can read Finding Brother William from my post dated 11/24/2012.

gailgrunstgenealogy.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/finding-brother-william/

Copyright © 2014 Gail Grunst

 

 

Bower’s Family History 1757 – 1955 Part 10 Epilog

I ended the Bower Family History in 1955 and did not take it further to protect the privacy of Robert’s children’s descendants that are alive today.  Robert’s son Ralph did not have any children.  His daughter Helen had two children, two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren.  His daughter Francis had one child and one grandchild.

I think if my grandmother was still around, she would be delighted to know her family history from her father’s side especially since she knew so little about them.

Of course I’m not done yet!  I hope to someday go back further then 1757, and to track down all the brothers and sisters of Bonnet and their children and descendants.

This story does not end in 1955 when the last of Charles’ children died, but continues on today with his descendants.

Copyright © 2014 Gail Grunst

 

Bower’s Family History 1757 – 1955 Part 9

Ethelyn Bowers

Ethelyn Bowers

Around 1876 or 1878 Ethelyn was born in Ottawa, Illinois to Charles and Alexena Bowers. The 1880 Census has Ethel 4 years old.[1]   Cemetery records have her born 1878.[2]  In 1902 Ethelyn worked for W.C. Vittum as a manager of the insurance department, [3]  and around 1925 Ethelyn married W. C. Vittum.[4]

“W.C. Vittum engaged in the real estate and insurance business in Moloney building.  He came to Ottawa from Galesburg in 1888 and opened “China hall” at 722 LaSalle Street, which he conducted for 10 years, disposing of it in 1898 to enter his present line of work.  Mr. Vittum was one of the original directors in the Ottawa Development Association and has always taken an active part in efforts to build up Ottawa.  His latest and greatest achievement was the battle which he successfully waged single handed to steer the new LaSalle County Electric Railway out of financial difficulties in which it had become involved and place on a solid foundation.  It seems certain that before the close of 1913 this line between Ottawa and Mendota will be in operation. Mr. Vittum’s parents were D.W and Harriet (Childs) Vittum and he was born in Canton, Illinois, May 13, 1859.  In 1883 he married to Miss Nannie G. Hollister, of Champaign, Illinois, and they have one daughter Nina who is the wife of  Dr. Alva Sowers, of Chicago.”[5] W. C. Vittum’s wife Nannie died in 1923.[6]

Ethelyn died March 14, 1935 in Ottawa, Illinois.[7]  She is buried in the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery.[8]  W.C. Vittum died in 1939 and is buried next Ethelyn.[9]

Copyright © 2014 Gail Grunst

______________________________

[1] Year: 1880; Census Place:  Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll: 79_223; Family History Film: 1254223; Page: 516.2000; Enumeration District: 81 Image: 0554.  Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005

[2] Cemetery Record for Ethelyn Bowers, OttawaAvenueCemetery, Ottawa LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Birth, June 20, 1878, Date of Death March 14, 1935, Burial March 16, 1935; Burial location: OT, 18-7, Cemetery Card: CCY-TS, Record: #8542.

[3] OttawaCity Directories 1901-1902.  LaSalle County, Illinois Genealogy Guild, 115 West Glover, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois

[4] Year; 1930; Census Place: Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll: 532; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 68; Image: 77.0.  Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA:  The Generations Network, Inc. 2002.

[5]Ottawa Old and New: A Complete History of OttawaIllinois 1823 – 1914 (Ottawa, Illinois: Republican – Times Ottawa, 1912 – 1914), p. 142

[6] Cemetery Record for Nannie D. Vittum, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Birth 1860, Date of Death 1923; Burial location: BU, 5K (N ½), Cemetery Card: CCY-TS, Record:  # 2565.

[7] Cemetery Record for Ethelyn Bowers, OttawaAvenueCemetery, Ottawa LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Birth, June 20, 1878, Date of Death March 14, 1935, Burial March 16, 1935; Burial location: OT, 18-7, Cemetery Card: CCY-TS, Record: #8542.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Cemetery Record for William C. Vittum, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois, Date of Birth 1860, Date of Death 1939, Burial February 13,1939; Burial Location:  OT, 18-7, Cemetery Card: CCY-TS, Record # 8537.

 

Bowers Family History 1757 – 1955 Part 8

Genevieve Bowers

Genevieve Bowers

Genevieve Bowers was born in 1877 to Charles Bowers and Alexena Frazier in Ottawa, Illinois.[1] Genevieve grew up in Ottawa Illinois and graduated from Ottawa High School in 1896.[2]  After graduation she worked as a stenographer for the Marseilles Manufacturing Company.[3] The Marseilles Manufacturing Company of Marseilles, Illinois manufactured power corn shellers and windmills.

In 1898 Genevieve was hospitalized for appendicitis and was operated on at RyburnHospital in Ottawa.[4]  She was unable to recover from the surgery and died at just 21 years of age on July 2, 1898[5] and is buried at the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery in Ottawa, Illinois.

I found it sad that she only lived to age 21 and had not had a chance to experience all that life has to offer.

Genevieve's Obit

Copyright © 2014 Gail Grunst


                [1] Cemetery Record for Genevieve L. Bowers; Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois; Date of Birth; July 31, 1877; Date of Death July 2, 1898; Cemetery Card: CCY-TS; Burial Location: OT, 18-7; Record # 8541.

                [2] Obituary for Genevieve Bowers; Republican Times, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois; July 4, 1898. Obituary File at the LaSalleCounty Genealogy Society, 115 W. Glover Street, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois61350.

                [3] Ibid.

                [4] Obituary for Genevieve Bowers; Republican Times, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois; July 4, 1898. Obituary File at the LaSalle County Genealogy Society 115 W. Glover Street, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois 61350.

                [5] Ibid.

 

Bowers Family History 1757 – 1955 Part 7

Robert Bowers

Robert Bowers

Robert F. Bowers was born April 5, 1873 in Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.[1] Robert was the third child born to Charles and Alexena Bowers.[2]  Little is known about Robert Bowers life because my grandmother, Helen Kaiser, never knew her father.  It is assumed that he went to school at least through grade school. He probably attended Washington School on York Street between Pearl and Congress Streets,[3] a couple of blocks from his home at 543 Chapel Street.[4]  Church records list a Robert Bowers as an Organ Blower in 1887.[5] Helen Kaiser always said her father was a musician.[6]  Although an organ blower is hardly a musician.  An organ blower supplies air to the bellow by working a handle up and down, with a “tell tale” to regulate their efforts.[7] Later that year in September church records list a Robert Frazer Bowers as living in the County 12 miles.[8]  Robert would be 14 years old by this time and most likely out of school and working.  Maybe he was working 12 miles outside of Ottawa.  His middle name listed as Frazer (his mother’s maiden name) in the church records.[9]  This is interesting because according to Helen Kaiser his middle name was Frances and her sister Frances was named after him.[10] 

Some time around 1896 Robert married Eva Reinhardt also of Ottawa.[11]  The story is that they ran away to Chicago to be married.[12]   I have been unable to find a marriage record for Robert and Eva, but I did find a Quit-Claim Deed recorded as Robert F. Bowers and Eva F. Bowers, his wife, selling three lots in Ottawa to Alexena Bowers for one dollar. This proves that they were married.[13] If they were not married, there would be no need for Eva to sign the deed.  In June of 1897 their first child Ralph was born,[14] followed by daughter, Helen, in December 1898 [15]and another daughter, LaVon Frances, in February 1900.[16]  Shortly after Frances was born they separated and eventually divorced.[17] [18]  I have been unable to find a divorce record too.

The 1900 census lists a Robert Bowers living in Peoria, Illinois as a boarder about 25 years old and his occupation is listed as a painter.[19]  One of the people he is living with is listed as a carriage painter.[20]  Robert worked as carriage painter in Chicago.[21]  The 1900 census lists him as single.[22]  By 1913 at the time of his death he had lived in Chicago for 12 years.[23] According to his death certificate Robert died on March 4, 1913 in Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois of Pulmonary Tuberculosis.[24]  His body was shipped to Ottawa, Illinois for funeral services at his mother’s house and burial in the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery.[25]

 

Copyright © 2014 Gail Grunst

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[1] Headstone inscription for Robert Bowers, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois (OT, 18-7 grave #) Footstone: Robert

[2] Year: 1880; Census Place: Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois Roll T9_223; Family History Film: 1254223; Page 516. 1000; Enumeration District: 81; Image: 0553.  Ancestry.com and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.

[3] Ottawa Old and New: A Complete History of Ottawa Illinois 1823 – 1914 (Ottawa, Illinois: Republican – Times Ottawa, 1912 – 1914), p. 174

[4]Ottawa City Directories 1884, 1888, 1894.  LaSalle County, Illinois Genealogy Guild, 115 West Glover, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois

[5] First Methodist Church of Ottawa, Illinois Official Records 1876 -1889. LaSalle County, Illinois Genealogy Guild, 115 West Glover, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.

[6] Told to author by Helen Kaiser many times between 1978 – 1981.

[7] From website:  http://www.nzorgan.com/vandr/blowers.htm

[8] First Methodist Church of Ottawa, Illinois Official Records 1876 -1889. LaSalle County, Illinois Genealogy Guild, 115 West Glover, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois

[9] Told to author by Helen Kaiser many times between 1978 – 1981

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Tract Index Book, Recorder of Deeds Office, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois, Book488, Page 167,  Microfilm at the LaSalle County Genealogical Guild 115 W. Glover St., Ottawa, Illinois 61350.

[14] Ralph Bowers listed in Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: Social Security Administration.  Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration.

[15] Delayed Record of Birth for Helen Bowers 3 December, 1898 (filed 7 August 1957) file number 204857, State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics and Records, Springfield, Illinois.

[16] Frances Beck listed in Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: Social Security Administration.  Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration.

[17] Told to author by Helen Kaiser many times between 1978 – 1981

[18]  Year 1900; Census Place: Ottawa Ward 4, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll T623 317; Page: 64; Enumeration District: 76.  Ancestry.com 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004

[19] Year 1900; Census Place: Peoria Ward 4, Peoria Illinois; Roll T623 334; Page 9B Enumeration District: 98. Ancestry.com 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA:  The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Certificate and Record of Death for Robert F. Bowers, March 4, 1913, Registration 1311, Department of Heath, City of Chicago, Cook, Illinois.

[22] Year 1900; Census Place: Peoria Ward 4, Peoria Illinois; Roll T623 334; Page 9B Enumeration District: 98. Ancestry.com 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA:  The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.

[23] Certificate and Record of Death for Robert F. Bowers, March 4, 1913, Registration 1311, Department of Heath, City of Chicago, Cook, Illinois.

[24] Certificate and Record of Death for Robert F. Bowers, March 4, 1913, Registration 1311, Department of Heath, City of Chicago, Cook, Illinois.

[25] Obituary for Robert Bowers, Daily Republican times, Ottawa, IL VOL XXXV No. 208, Wednesday Evening, March 5, 1913, p1 (Front Page).

January 26, 1967 the Big Snow Storm

I originally posted this a couple of years ago.  I decided this year with all the snow and cold weather we have in the Chicago area, this would be a good time to remember the big snow storm on January 26, 1967.  Enjoy!

As an older adult (senior citizen), I despise the snow and cold weather.  As a child I loved the snow.  I’m not sure exactly when my opinion of it changed.  Maybe it the big snow storm of 1967.  If your old enough and lived in the Chicago area in January of 1967 you may have your own memories of the big snow storm.  I was working in Northlake, Illinois at GTE Automatic Electric at that time.  I remember it was around 2 or 3  pm., when someone said that there was a big semi stuck in the dock because of the snow.  I was wondering how I was going to get home.  If a big semi was stuck, how was my little car going to get out.  A little later the company announced it was closing.  This was an unusual move for AE.  They had all kinds of rules and you better follow them and they rarely closed if ever.  I went to my car and took one look and knew I wasn’t going anywhere.  I had no snow shovel and the snow was already to my bumper.   A lady I worked with lived nearby, and before I left she told me if I couldn’t get home to come to her house.  I started walking down Railroad Avenue and I had a choice to walk all the way down to North Avenue and back up Westward Ho Drive to her house or go down a hill in two feet of snow to her backyard.  I chose the latter.  I had a dress on (women were not allowed to wear slacks to work back then) and my boots were knee-high.  The snow was over the top of my boots.  I got to her house and was very thankful that she had invited me.  Several other people showed up too and that night was like a big slumber party.  I had only been working there since August, and I really got to know my coworkers.

My Mother was stuck at her job in Elmhurst, Illinois for a while.  I can’t remember how she got home because I usually picked her up on my way home from work.   School let out early that day because of the snow. When my brother got home, no one was home so he went to the next door neighbors.  My Father drove a truck for Burney Brothers Bakery that was located in Northlake also.  He was in Chicago stuck in traffic.  His truck then broke down.  He called the plant but they could not get to him.  He sat in the truck until the wee hours of the morning and then decided to walk or freeze to death in the truck.  He started walking and walked to Northlake (around 20 miles) .  He would stop at various places for food, coffee and to warm up.  The snow storm was on Thursday January 26th, my father made it to Northlake around noon on Saturday January 28th.  There were no cell phones back then so the only way he had of communicating with my mother was a pay phone.  I was still at my coworkers house on Saturday.  When my dad called home, my mom told him I was still in Northlake.  He called me and told me to meet him on North Avenue.  He was not going to attempt to drive down a side street.  I walked to North Avenue and met my dad.  We drove to our home in Villa Park about 6 miles.   It was slow going but we finally got home.  My mother and brother made some attempt at shoveling out but there was still a lot to do.  Then my dad, mother, brother and I shoveled our driveway and side-walk.  On Sunday January 29th we went back to get my car.  We still had to shovel out my car.  My aunt and uncle went with us and all of us shoveled.  I could not get to work on Monday and on Tuesday North Avenue was still only one lane going each direction.  I was late for work and my boss told me about it.  When I told him it was because of the snow he said I should have planned better and left earlier, and the young people where I work think they have it bad now.  I didn’t walk twenty miles in two feet of snow, but my father did.

My Car in the parking lot of Automatic Electric on January 29, 1967 (three days after storm)

Below are links to information about the snow storm.  One has a video of a news report from 1967.

Lasting Effects of Snowstorm 1967

Winter of the Deep Snow

The Infamous Chicago Blizzard of 1967

Bowers Family History 1757 – 1955 Part 6

Elizabeth Bowers

Elizabeth Bowers

 

 

Elizabeth Bowers was the first daughter born to Charles and Alexena Bowers in 1871 in Ottawa, Illinois.[1]  Elizabeth grew up in Ottawa, Illinois.  Elizabeth graduated from Ottawa High School.[2]   Elizabeth became a school teacher and taught school at Lincoln School in Ottawa, Illinois.[3]  She was educated at the University of Chicago.  Later she became a primary supervisor in the Ottawa grade school system.  Elizabeth spoke at teacher institutes and professional meetings throughout the state. Elizabeth lived in Ottawa until the time of her death in 1947.[4]  She attended the First Church of Christ, Scientist of Ottawa.[5]  She is buried at the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery in Ottawa, Illinois.[6]

A personal Note:  When I was a child we would visit family friends in Ottawa.  They had a daughter, Barb, who was about my age, and I would spend anywhere from a week to three weeks during summer staying with the family.  Barb and I would play on the Lincoln School playground.  Of course I wasn’t interested in genealogy at the time.  I had some vague knowledge that my grandmother came from Ottawa, Illinois and we had ancestors who lived there, but that was all.  While playing on school playground, I didn’t know that I had an ancestor who had been a school teacher at this school.  Now I think about how I walked on the same ground that Elizabeth walked on many years before me.  It makes me feel connected to her in some small way. She looks like my grandmother or should I say my grandmother looks like her so I feel as though I knew her.

Elizabeth's Retirement Party one

Elizabeth's Retirement Party threeElizabeth's Retirement Party two

Elizabeth’s Retirement Party

 

Copyright © 2013 Gail Grunst


[1] Year: 1880; Census Place:  Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll: 79_223; Family History Film: 1254223; Page: 516.2000; Enumeration District: 81 Image: 0554.  Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.

[2] Obituary for Elizabeth Bowers; Obituary given to author by Helen Kaiser.  No notations as to what paper obituary is from.

[3] Ottawa Old and New: A Complete History of Ottawa Illinois 1823 – 1914 (Ottawa, Illinois: Republican – Times Ottawa, 1912 – 1914), p. 175

[4] Obituary for Elizabeth Bowers; Obituary given to author by Helen Kaiser.  No notations as to what paper obituary is from.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Cemetery Record for Elizabeth Bowers, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Death January 31, 1947; Burial location OT, 18-7; Funeral Home Gladfelter; Cemetery card CCNF-noTS; Record number 10315.

 

Bowers Family History 1757 – 1955 Part 5

Richard Bowers

Richard Bowers was the oldest son born to Charles and Alexena Bowers in 1869.[1]  It is not known how far Richard went school.  Richard worked as a clerk, motorman, and janitor.[2]  He spent many years working as janitor at Washington School, probably the same one he attended as a boy.[3]  He also worked for the Illinois Power and Light Company.[4]  He married Emma Barnhardt in 1892 in Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois[5]   This is just speculation, but I am wondering if Richard’s parents Charles and Alexena didn’t accept his marriage to Emma.  The reason I say this is that Richard’s parents are not mentioned in the marriage announcement in the Free Trader newspaper dated 30 July 1892.[6] Emma and Richard made their home in Ottawa, Illinois.[7] [8] [9] There is no evidence that Richard and Emma had any children.

Richard is the only one of my grandmother, Helen Bowers, father’s family that she knew.  She came to know Richard after everyone else in her father’s family had passed away.  She referred to him as Uncle Lamb.   She never mentioned how she came to know him.  But it was her only connection to her father and his family.  The pictures of the family probably come from him.  I found a letter from Richard’s wife, Emma, to my grandmother.  I have transcribed it below as well as posted copies of the original letter.  It was very hard to read the writing and did my best to transcribe it.

 

Ottawa, Ill Aug 17th 1954

Dear Helen and all,

Glad to hear from you.  I am same but Uncle Lamb’s memory is so bad, he doesn’t remember things or people and now he has been in bed quite a while.  We have the Dr. and had him every day and now he comes twice a week and gives him liver shots.  Uncle Lamb is awfully weak and so makes it still harder for me.  I don’t get to rest and sleep I need.  He is restless at night and worries me should I go to sleep I wouldn’t hear him.  I don’t hear so good in one ear especially.  Some time ago, I had an abscess in that ear and suppose that is the reason now that I don’t hear so good.  I don’t know what I would do without Helen she sure is awfully good to us.  Nice you can go to your daughter’s when you want to.  It is to bad Russ had to be away, no doubt you are awfully lonely without him.  I’ve been having awful head aches and never feel good but have to keep going and hope I can.  I don’t want him taken to the hospital if it is possible he can stay home.  Sorry about Francis, I haven’t heard from her since she wrote at Christmas time.   Was glad to see your card and was sorry we were not here.  Decorating time when she called although true Uncle Lamb could ride out but of course not go out of the car so me now to decorate our graves and we have a lot to decorate.

Helen does ever thing she can for us.  I just don’t know what I would do without her.  My Sister was here for a little while last Tuesday she, her son, her daughter, and husband was so glad see them.  You see out of a large family only my sister and I are still here.  My sister’s son has been out of work for some time is of course trying to get work he had to quit the last place he worked was to hard for him he hasn’t been very well so I worry about them along with my own worrys but I so want him to get work.  Well dear Helen give our love to Francis and Pat.  I have written a couple of times so when she cans she will write.  I am sorry she is not well. 

Have to stop now but we send love to all and hope you keep well and think of us some time.  Do you hear from Ralph’s folks.  I can tell you just love Uncle Lamb, he sure is not good. I am so tired all the time as I say I don’t get the rest and sleep I need.  Thank you dear Helen for wishing us well, we sure do need it he is quiet now the reason I am writing have to hurry so I hope you can read it.  Pray your son get home safe and Francis gets better give them our love.

                                                                                                                                                Lovingly,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Aunt Emma Uncle Lamb

Will try to do better next time.

Image (4)Image (5)Image (6)Image (7)Image (8)

Richard died in 1955 and is buried at the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery.[10]  Emma died a few years later in 1961 and is buried next to Richard in the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery.[11]

Note:  I changed the title of the blogs to Bower Family History 1757 – 1955.  When I started writing these stories, I was thinking that Richard’s sister Elizabeth was the last of Charles’ children to die in 1947.  When writing Richard’s biography, I realized that I was wrong, so therefore have changed the last part of post title to 1955.

Copyright © 2013 Gail Grunst


[1] Cemetery record for Richard Bowers, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Birth March 9, 1869; Date of Death November 18, 1955;  Funeral Home:  Hulse; Burial location: OT-23-7 (NW ¼); Cemetery Card: CCY-TS;  Record Number 8573

[2] Ottawa City Directories 1884, 1888, 1894.  LaSalle County, Illinois Genealogy Guild, 115 West Glover, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Obituary for Richard Bowers, Daily Republican Times, Ottawa, Illinois, Vol 79, no 121, 1955,

p. 12.

[5] Marriage Record for Richard Bowers and Emma Barnhart, Illinois State Board of Health, Return of Marriage to the County Clerk, July 28, 1892, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.

[6] Marriage announcement for Richard Bowers and Emma Barnhardt, Free Trader, July 30, 1892.  File at LaSalle County Genealogy Guild, 115 West Glover, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois, Marriages 1888 – 1893.

[7]Ottawa City Directories 1884, 1888, 1894.  LaSalle County, Illinois Genealogy Guild, 115 West Glover, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.

[8]Year: 1920; Census Place: Ottawa Ward 2, La Salle, Illinois; Roll: T625_379; Page: 5A; enumeration District: 138; Image 123.  Ancestry.com 1920 Untied States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA:  The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.  For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA

[9] Year: 1930; Census Place: Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll: 532; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 68; Image 88.0.  Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo,  UT, USA:  The Generations Network, Inc., 2002

[10] Cemetery record for Richard Bowers, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Birth March 9, 1869; Date of Death November 18, 1955;  Funeral Home:  Hulse; Burial location: OT-23-7 (NW ¼); Cemetery Card: CCY-TS;  Record Number 8573.

[11] Cemetery record for Emma Barnhardt Bowers, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Birth; November 17, 1866; Date of Death; January 18, 1961; Funeral Home Hulse; Burial location: OT-23-7(NS ¼) Cemetery Card CCY-noTS; Record Number 8572

Bowers Family History 1757 – 1955 Part 4

Alexena Frazier Bowers

Alexena Frazier Bowers

Alexena Frazier was born in 1847 in NassagaweyaTownship, Halton, Ontario, Canada[1] to David Frazier and Catherine McBean.[2]  Both David Frazier and Catherine McBean were born in Scotland.[3]  It is likely that David and Catherine Frazier were Highlander’s belonging to the Kirk as large numbers of these people settled in Nassagaweya forming a major Scottish block.[4]

“To the European settlers who came to southern Ontario, the land was a hostile wilderness, waiting to be tamed. For agriculture to proceed the forest had to go and much of it was piled and burned. Until the 1850s, farming was dominated by land clearing and the incessant toil of pioneer life.”[5]  Wheat and Lumber were the main products of Halton County Ontario in the 1840’s and 1850’s.[6]

Alexena came to Ottawa, Illinois in 1865,[7] and married Charles Bowers in 1868.[8]  Charles and Alexena made their home at 543 Chapel Street.[9]  They had five children, Richard, Robert, Elizabeth, Genevieve and Ethelyn. [10]

She attended the First Methodist Episcopal Church and was an active member with a large circle of friends. [11]

Alexena’s granddaughter, Helen Bowers, told stories that her grandparents did not want to acknowledge that their son Robert married and had children.  Helen claimed that they thought they were better than her mother’s family.  Therefore she did not know her father’s family[12].  The probate of Alexena’s will confirms this story to be true.

The following is a transcript from Alexena’s will in Probate Court for proof of heirship:

On the 26th day of June 1926 R Ethel Vittum, a competent witness of lawful age produced sworn and examined on oath in open court, testified as follows, to-wit:

C. B. Chapman

Q. Your name is R. Ethelyn Vittum?

A. Yes

Q. You reside in Ottawa, Illinois?

A. Yes

Q. You are a daughter of Alexena Bowers?

A. Yes

Q. When did she die?

A. March 7, 1926

Q. Where did she die?

A. At her residence 543 Chapel Street

Q. At the time of her death was she an actual resident of the city of Ottawa, County of LaSalle, State of Illinois?

A. She was

Q. About what was her age?

A. 79 years in August

Q. She was a citizen of the United States?

A. She was

Q. Did she leave a surviving husband?

A. No

Q. What was her husband’s name?

A. Charles Bowers

Q. And about how long ago did he die?

A. I think it was about thirty years ago

Q. Was she married more than once?

A. No

Q. How many Children were born of the marriage?

A. Five

Q. What were their names?

A. Richard L. Bowers, Elizabeth A. Bowers, Robert F. Bowers, Genevieve L. Bowers, myself.

Q. R. Ethel Bowers is yourself?

A. Yes

Q. And you are residing in Ottawa, Illinois?

A. Yes

Q. Is R. L. Bowers living?

A. He is

Q. And he is living in Ottawa, Illinois?

A. In Ottawa

Q. And Elizabeth Ann Bowers is living in Ottawa?

A. Yes

Q. Is Richard Bowers living?

A. Richard and R. L. are one and the same.  You mean Robert?

Q. Robert, I should say.

A. He is dead

Q. About how long ago did he die?

A. 13 years ago, I think.

Q. And was he married?

A. I don’t know, Mr. Chapman

Q. You haven’t any knowledge so that you could testify as to whether or not he was ever married?

A. No.

Q. Do you know whether or not there are living any persons who claim to be his children?

A. There was a few years ago.

Q. And do you know there names or the names that they go by?

A. I don’t think of the name, Mr. Chapman.

Q. Let me refresh your recollection.  Do you remember whether the persons who claim to be his children are Ralph Bowers?

A. Yes Ralph is one

Q. And Helen Kaiser?

A. I don’t know the Kaiser, but I know a Helen.

Q. Helen claimed to be Helen Bowers and you don’t know whether she is now married and whether her name is Kaiser.

A. No

Q. And Frances Bowers, who also claimed -

A. I think so.

Q. And do know that she is now married and her present name is Beck?

A. I don’t know.

Q.  Were there any other parties than Ralph, Helen and Frances that clamed to be children of Robert?

A. I don’t know of any others.

Q.  Never heard of any others?

A. Never.

Q.  And in matters where the question of the heirship of Robert was raised you knew that there was proof made and these three parties were found to be children of Robert, did you?

A. Yes

Q.  And found to be the only children of Robert?

A. Yes

Q. and the other child of Alexena Bowers was what?

A. Genevieve L.

Q. And she died in infancy?

A. Yes – Oh, no –

Q. Because she was-

A. Why she died about 29 years ago.

Q. Was she ever married?

A. No.

Q. Did your mother at any time ever adopt any children?

A. No.[13]

Alexena died on March 7, 1926 in her home in Ottawa.[14] [15] She was considered one of Ottawa’s oldest citizens having been a resident of more than 60 years when she died.[16]  She died of Carcinoma of the Gall Bladder[17] and is buried in the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, in Ottawa, Illinois[18] along side her husband Charles and children.

Copyright©2013 Gail Grunst

_________________________________________

 [1] Obituary for Alexena Frazier Bowers: Republican Times (Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois) July 4, 1898.

 [2] “Death Certificate for Alexena Bowers”, March 7 1926 (filed March 9, 1926), registered number 37, State of Illinois, Department of Public Health – Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, IL.

[3] Ibid.

  [4] Campey, Lucille H,. Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada, 1784-1855: Glengarry and Beyond (Natural Heritage/Natural History Inc., 2005), p. 98.

 [6] Ibid.

[7]  Obituary for Alexena Bowers. Daily Republican Times, (Ottawa, LaSalle, IL) Monday Evening, 8 March, 1926; Vol XLIX, No 208, Page 1 (Front Page).

[8] “Marriage License for Charles Bowers and Alexena Frazer”, issued 25 November 1868, married 2 December 1868, filed 4 December 1868, Marriage license no 1862, State of Illinois, LaSalle County, La Salle County Courthouse, Ottawa, Illinois.

[9] Obituary for Alexena Bowers. Daily Republican Times, (Ottawa, LaSalle, IL) Monday Evening, 8 March, 1926; Vol XLIX, No 208, Page 1 (Front Page).

[10] Year 1880; Census Place: Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll: 79_223; Family History Film 1254223; Page: 516.1000 & 516.2000; Enumeration District: 81; Image: 0553, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. United States Federal Census [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, 2005

                [11]  Obituary for Alexena Bowers. Daily Republican Times, (Ottawa, LaSalle, IL) Monday Evening, 8 March, 1926; Vol XLIX, No 208, Page 1 (Front Page).

                [12]   Story told to author many times over the years (1960 – 1981) by Helen Bowers Kaiser.

                [13] “Probate of  will of Alexena Bowers” (Proof of Heirship), 26 June 1926, LaSalle County, Illinois,  Old Estate Books,  File 1,  Box 954., LaSalle County Court House, Ottawa, Illinois. Photocopy of original in possession of this writer.

[14] “Death Certificate for Alexena Bowers”, March 7, 1926 (filed March 9, 1926), registered number 37, State of Illinois, Department of Public Health – Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, IL.

                [15] Obituary for Alexena Bowers. Daily Republican Times, (Ottawa, LaSalle, IL) Monday Evening, 8 March, 1926; Vol XLIX, No 208, Page 1 (Front Page).

                [16] Ibid.

                [17]  “Death Certificate for Alexena Bowers”, March 7, 1926 (filed March 9, 1926), registered number 37, State of Illinois, Department of Public Health – Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, IL.

                [18] Ibid.

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