Traveling Men

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Leonard “Fuzzy” Fiderius (left) Christina Fiderius (center) and Joseph Fiderius (right)

I have written a little about my Great- Grandmother Mary Fiderius, but nothing about her parents or brothers and sister.  Today I am writing about her brother’s Leonard and Joseph. 

Several years ago I hit a brick wall on the Fiderius line of my family tree, and I just haven’t gotten back to it.  However, I did think of this line when I saw that this week’s theme from 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Travel.  Way back in the 1990’s I worked at a library, and we received some computer Cd’s (pre-Internet) with phone books from all over the country (USA) on them.  At the reference desk, we were told to learn how to use them so we could help patrons.  I started putting in all the surnames of my ancestors.  When I got to Fiderius only three showed up in the whole country and they were in the Cleveland, Ohio area.  I knew my grandfather was born in Toledo, Ohio and Fiderius was his mother’s maiden name.  I figured they must be related, and way back then the only way to contact them was telephone or regular mail.  I was too shy to telephone so I wrote each one a letter.  I received a very nice letter from Erick Fiderius (my second cousin 1X removed).   The other two I wrote to were his father and his sister.  He told me about my great-grandmother’s brothers, Leonard and Joseph.  He also included a picture of my great-great grandmother Christina Oberdoester with her son’s Leonard and Joseph (see above).

Here is what Erick wrote on January 6, 1997I was delighted to receive your letter requesting information on your family lineage.  I am in fact related to your Great Grandmother Mary Beischer.  She would be my Great Aunt and sister of Joseph Fiderius, my Grandfather (about 1877 – 1970).  His brother Leonard was my Great Uncle “ Fuzzy” who must have gotten his nickname from his curly hair (see photo on left).  Fuzzy met his wife in Altoona, PA. I’m not sure but possibly your Great Grandmother Mary could have been from around that area. Both Joe and Fuzzy lived the majority of their adult life and died in the Cleveland area.  They were both very involved (held elected positions) in the early start of the local and possibly the national brotherhood of electricians, and I remember hearing stories of how they spent time (1920-1940’s?) working or wiring many of the old amusement parks of the day form Cleveland and east to NY (such as Luna Park and Euclid Beach Park).”

There was more to letter, but about other ancestors.  I found it interesting that they traveled around the country wiring amusement parks.  I wonder how many they did and where they were all located.  I have great memories of going to Riverview in Chicago.  It doesn’t sound like they made it west to Chicago to wire Riverview, but who knows maybe they did.  Since 1997, I have done more research on Leonard and Joseph and here is a short biography of each.  

Leonard Adam Fiderius was born 20 October 1884 in Cleveland, Ohio to Peter Fiderius and Christine Oberdoester.[i]  Leonard married Louisa C. Wagner on 24 November 1909 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.[ii]   Leonard did travel around wiring amusement parks as Erick said in his letter.  In 1907 Leonard was the chief electrician in the construction of a Luna Park in Scranton, Pennsylvania. [iii]  Around the same time he was chief electrician for Luna Park, he purchased a moving picture theater Dreamland in Hazelton, Pennsylvania and renamed it Bijou Dream.[iv]  Two months later he is trying to sell it.[v]  In 1914 Leonard is named chief electrician for the year at Luna Park.[vi]  While I was researching Leonard, I was surprised to find this headline:  19 indicted by Cleveland Jury.  Here is a transcript of the entire article from 20 June 1914:

“Cleveland, June 20 – (AP)— Nineteen electrical construction contractors and officials of the Cleveland Electrical Workers Union were indicted by the county grand jury here today on charges of violation of the Valentine antitrust law. 

The indictments charge the men entered into a conspiracy to fix prices on electrical construction jobs that they prevented competitive bidding.  The grand jury investigation followed three weeks of investigation.

Those indicted were Louis G. Kubach, John H. Fitzgerald, L. A. Fiderius, Herbert C. Mohr, Godfrey C. Davis, Albert G. Koestle, John A. Linden, William C. Schuur, Adolph P. Goldberger, Charles N. Dennison, Henry C, Morlock, Max Rapport, Herman R. Keppler, J. B. Morgan, George W. Billington, William E. Ranney, L. Wolfert, George W. Malone and Tom C. Fowler.

Fowler is president and Kubach secretary of the Electrical Business Association, a contractors’ organization, which according to Prosecutor Ray T. Miller, conspired with the union.

Fitzgerald and Fiderius are officers of the union forced the contractors to submit to the conspiracy under threat of withdrawing labor from jobs.  The contractors allegedly were required to bid on jobs at agreed prices and to take turns bidding.”[vii]

I could not find out if he was convicted or not.  Leonard lived a long live and passed away on 4 September 1970 at 85 years, 10 months, and 15 days in Cleveland, Ohio.[viii]

Joseph P. Fiderius was born on 7 December 1889 in Cleveland, Ohio[ix]  Joseph enlisted in the Army on 12 November 1917 and received an honorable discharge 30 November 1918.[x]  Joseph worked as an electrician.[xi]  Joseph married Mary Louise Kardos on 19 May 1919 in Cleveland, Ohio.[xii]  Joseph and Mary Louise had one child, Walter, born 1 May 1920[xiii]  It seems Joseph lived a rather quiet life compared to his brother Leonard.  Joseph passed away on 11 January 1975 at 85 years, 1 month, and 4 days in Cleveland, Ohio[xiv

* Sad Note:  Erick Fiderius passed away on 7 March 2009 at 54 years old in Cleveland, Ohio.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

[i] U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2014.  Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration.

[ii] Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania website:  Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania marriage applications:  Fiderius, Leonard/Wagner, Louise C., Book 93, Page 202, File Number 0093-00202,Marriage date: 11/24/1909.

[iii] The Scranton Republican (Scranton, Pennsylvania) 17 May 1908, Sunday,  Page 6.

[iv] The Plain Speaker (Hazelton, Pennsylvania) 12 October 1907,  Saturday, Page 5.

[v] Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 8 December 1907, Sunday, Page 42.

[vi] The Scranton Truth (Scranton, Pennsylvania) 29 April 1914, Wednesday, Page1.

[vii] Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio), 20 June 1920, Friday, Page 8.

[viii] and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.Original data:  Ohio. Division of Vital Statistics. Death Certificates and Index, December 20, 1908-December 31, 1953.State Archives Series 3094. Ohio Historical Society, Ohio.

[ix] Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Cuyahoga; Roll: 1831776; Draft Board: 12. Source Information: U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.

[x] Ohio Soldiers in WWI, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.  Original data: The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War, 1917-18. Columbus, OH, USA: The F.J. Heer Printing Co., 1926.

[xi] The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147.  Source Information:   Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

[xii] Cuyahoga County Archive; Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810-1973; Volume: Vol 103; Page: 296; Year Range: 1917 Jun – 1920 Oct.  Source Information: Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

[xiii] U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.  Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.

[xiv] and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.  Original data:Ohio. Division of Vital Statistics. Death Certificates and Index, December 20, 1908-December 31, 1953.State Archives Series 3094. Ohio Historical Society, Ohio.  Ohio Department of Health. Index to Annual Deaths, 1958-2002. Ohio Department of Health, State Vital Statistics Unit, Columbus, OH, USA.

* U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2014.  Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration.


Did they come for Independence?


part of ship passenger list for Rudolph Kaiser

Ship Passenger list for Rudolph Kaiser

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic for week 27: Independence
July 4th is Independence Day in the United States. Do you have an ancestor who served in the American Revolution? Do you have a relative who was fiercely independent? Maybe an ancestor who struggled to gain some personal independence? 

I’ve been thinking and thinking about this one.  I do not have any ancestors who fought in the American Revolution.  I cannot think of anyone who was fiercely independent or struggled to gain some personal independence that I have not already written about.

But after some thought about this I came to this conclusion.  All of our ancestors who came to America came for independence of some kind.  So I thought I would list my ancestor’s that came here, the date they came, and reason for coming (if known).

Bonnet Bowers and his son Charles Bowers left Liverpool, England aboard the sailing ship Conqueror on 1 February 1851 and arrived in the Port of New York on 19 April 1851.[1]  This trip took 78 days across the Atlantic.  I can’t imagine spending that long on the ocean, but they did it.  I don’t know their reason for coming.  According to the 1841 England Census they were laborers on a farm.[2]  Maybe they came for economic reasons and thought they could make a better life in America. 

Konrad John Reinhardt his wife Anna, and the children left their home in Germany in 1879 for the United States.  My grandmother always said that Konrad left Germany because he deserted the German Army.  I have been unable to verify that story.  They boarded the steamship ship Bergenland at the Port of Antwerp in Belgium and arrived in New York on 5 December 1879.[3]  From New York they traveled to Amana, Iowa arriving on 22 December 1879.[4] They settled in the South Amana village.[5]  In 1880, they had another daughter, Elizabeth, born in South Amana.[6]

“In 1714 in Southwestern Germany two men started a religious movement which later became known as the Community of True Inspiration.  A group of people from this movement came to the United States in 1842 settling in the vicinity of Buffalo, New York.  They built four villages known as Middle Ebenezer, Upper Ebenezer, Lower Ebenezer, and New Ebenezer in New York State.  They also built two villages in Canada.  The Buffalo area was becoming quickly urbanized so the group sought land to west, and in 1854 purchased the sight of the present day Amana Colonies in Iowa.”[7]

“After arrival in this county, the group adopted a religious-communal way of life, with all property held in common and with all church and secular decisions being made by the same leadership.  The communal way of life lasted nearly a century until the people voted separation of church and state in 1932 adopting the free enterprise way of life that surrounded them.”[8]  Konrad may have deserted the German Army, however it is more likely he came to avoid being drafted into the German Army.  The Community of True Inspiration were pacifist, so it fits that Konrad did not want to fight.

Rudolph Kaiser came to the United States from Germany when he was 26 years old.[9]  He boarded the Ship Lahn in Bremen and landed at Castle Garden, New York on 30 April 1891.[10]  On the same boat is an Anton Springer.[11]  Could this be a brother of Wilhelmina Springer (Rudolph’s future wife)?  So far I haven’t been able to find proof.  Don’t know Rudolph’s reasons for coming to America were, however I have found letters written in German to Rudolph and it appears that he had another family in Germany.

Wilhelmina Springer arrived in New York aboard the Ship Lahn from Bremen on 3 August 1888.[12]  She seems to have come alone, however she had a sister already here.

Isidor George Manfroid left Germany around 1877 and came to the United States.[13] George’s occupation was an iron molder.[14] I do not know how George found his job in iron molding, or why he came to the U.S., but  he may have come due to economic conditions in Germany, or to escape being conscripted in the German military service.[15]

Carl and Augusta Desens arrived in the United States on April 28, 1888 in Baltimore, Maryland aboard the ship Main along with their daughters, Emma, Berta, and Mina.[16]  I don’t know there reasons for leaving either, I can only assume it was for economic reasons or religious freedom.

I assume that these ancestors had many reasons for coming to America and among them was independence.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

[1] Year: 1851; Arrival: New York, United States; Microfilm Serial: M237; Microfilm roll M237_107; Line: 26; List number: 1664. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc

[2] 1841 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.  Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841.Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1841.  Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England. Class: HO107; Piece 109; Book: 8; Civil Parish: Stockport; County: Cheshire; Enumeration District: 8; Folio: 19; Page: 33; Line: 4; GSU roll: 241242.

[3] Germans to America(Vol. 34). (1993). Wilmington, DE, DE: Scholarly Resources.

[4] Amana Church Membership Records, in archive collection of the Amana Heritage Museum, Amana, Iowa.

[5] Year: 1880; Census Place: Amana, Iowa, Iowa; Roll: 345; Family History Film: 1254345; Page: 146D; Enumeration District: 201

[6] Birth record for Elizabeth Reinhardt, Iowa County Births 1880 – 1835Index (

[7] Bourret, Joan Liffring-Zub and John Zug, Amanasyesterday: a religious communal society: a story of seven vilages in Iowa: historic photographs 1900 – 1932. IA City, IA: Penfield Press, 2003


[9] United States Germans to America Index, 1850-1897, Database,FamilySearch ( : Rudolf Keiser, 30 Apr 1891; citing Germans to America Passenger Data file, 1850-1897, Ship Lahn, departed from Bremen & Southampton, arrived in New York, New York, New York, United States, NAID identifier 1746067, National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

[10] United States Germans to America Index, 1850-1897, database,FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 June 2016), Anton Springer, 30 Apr 1891; citing Germans to America Passenger Data file, 1850-1897, Ship Lahn, departed from Bremen & Southampton, arrived in New York, New York, New York, United States, NAID identifier 1746067, National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

[11] Illinois, Kane County, Marriage License and Return no 10271, Kaiser-Springer 1896, County Clerk’s Office, Geneva.

[12] “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with images,FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 June 2016), Minna Springer, 1888; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm .

[13] 1900 United States Census, State: Illinois, County: Cook, Township: WestTown, City: Chicago, Enumeration Dist: 293, Ward 10, Sheet 16B, Line 69

[14] Ibid.

[15]  Energy of a Nation:  Immigration Resources, a project of the advocates for human rights;

[16]  Baltimore Passenger Lists 1820 – 1948 [database on-line].  Provo, UT. USA:  Generations Network, Inc. 2006.  Original Data:  Baltimore, Maryland. Passenger Lists of Vessels arriving at Baltimore, Maryland , 1821-1891.  Micropublication M255.  RG036 Rolls # 1-50.  National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Black Sheep?

Aunt Fran & Grandma

Frances and Helen Bowers

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Ralph Bowers











52 Ancestors in 2 Weeks  topic this week is Black Sheep in the family.

I can’t think of any ancestors that were black sheep in the traditional sense.  I have not run across any criminals or ones that have done outrages things and been banished by family.  

The closest I can come to black sheep are my grandmother, her brother, and sister.  My grandmother’s parents were divorced when she was a young child.  She grew up never knowing her father or his family.  They lived in the same small town, and she would see them from a distance.  She said the reason she never knew them was because the Bowers family thought they were better than the Reinhardt’s.  My Grandmother claimed the Bowers denied that their son, Robert, married and had children.  My grandmother told stories of how she saw her grandmother, Alexena, in the cemetery; but Alexena did not acknowledge her.  One time she saw her father walking down the street and she ran up to him and said, “I’m your daughter.”  He said, “Get away from me kid, I don’t have any children.” The Bowers were of English and Scottish descent, and the Reinhardt’s were from Germany.  Also the Bowers appear to be financially better off than the Reinhardt’s.  It also appears that the Bowers were upper class and the Reinhardt’s lower class.  Maybe the Bowers had something against Germans or maybe it was a class thing.

The story is that Robert Bowers and Eva Reinhardt ran off to Chicago to be married, however I have not been able to find a marriage record for them in Cook County Illinois.  For awhile, I wondered if they never married and that is why the Bowers denied the children were Roberts.  However after Charles Bowers died in February 1897,[1]  Robert and Eva sign a quit-claim deed over to Alexena Bowers on 26 June 1897.[2]  It lists Eva Bowers as Robert Bowers wife.[3]  Eight days earlier on 18 June 1897 Eva and Robert’s first child is born.[4]   Charles bought the two lots listed on the quit-claim deed in 1882. [5] At some point he turned the lots over to Robert and Eva.  I am wondering if he gave them as a wedding present to Robert and Eva.   After his death and after their first child is born, the property is signed over to Alexena for $1.00.  I am speculating here, but did she insist on getting the property back because of her dislike for Eva and now their newborn child?  I never found a divorce record for Robert and Eva either.  Robert died in Chicago 4 March 1913.[6]  Eva went by Eva Bowers until she died 23 December 1941.[7]  Her death certificate lists her as Eva Bowers, widow.  I believe they were married because of the quit-claim deed and her life long use of the Bower name.  I beginning to believe that they were never officially divorced.  See Quit-Claim Deed below:

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The story my grandmother told came to life for me when I read Alexena’s will.  This is proof that they did not want to acknowledge Robert’s children.  The following is a transcribed 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 claimed 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. [8]

In 1935 Ethelyn passed away[9] and in 1947 Elizabeth passed away.[10]  The only one left was Richard Bowers.  It was after the others were all gone that my grandmother got to know her Uncle Richard Lambly Bowers.  He must have been the one who gave her the pictures of the Bowers family that are now in my possession.  I have done extensive researched Charles and Alexena Bowers, and I think it would be of interest to my Grandmother to know about her father’s roots.  They seem to interest me for some reason.  What kind of people deny their own grandchildren?   By the way, my grandmother, her brother and sister did not receive any inheritance from her Grandmother.

Today with DNA tests it can be proved that my grandmother, her brother, and sister were indeed Robert’s children.  I had my DNA test done and it is a match with fourth cousins that descend from one of Charles Bowers brothers.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

  1.  Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Records: Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois. Record number 8539, Cemetery Card CCY-TS, Burial location OT18-7
  2. 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
  3. Ibid.
  4. [1] Registration State: Illinois; Registration County:  Cook; Roll 1613573; Draft board: 53. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. {database on-line}.  Provo, UT, USA;  Operation  Inc, 2005.  Original Data:  United States, Selective Service System World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cares, 1917-1918.  Washington,  D. C. :  National Archives and Record  Administration.  M1509, 4,582 rolls.  Imaged from Family  History  Library Microfilm.
  5. Tract Index Book, Recorder of Deeds Office, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois, Book238, Page 137,  Microfilm at the LaSalle County Genealogical Guild 115 W. Glover St., Ottawa, Illinois 61350
  6. Certificate and Record of Death for Robert F. Bowers, March 4, 1913, Registration 1311, Department of Heath, City of Chicago, Cook, Illinois
  7. Certificate of Death for Eva Bowers;  State of Illinois, Department of Public health, Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, Illinois, Registration Number 34633. Date of death: December 23, 1941; Place of death: County of Cook, City of Chicago.
  8. “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.
  9. Cemetery Record for Ethelyn Bowers, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, 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.
  10. 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.


Same Person Two Names

This week 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic is the “same name“.  When I first started genealogy back in 1979, I started with my parents and grandparents and asked them a lot of questions.  My father’s name was George, and his father’s name was George, and I was told that his father’s name was George.  Not much was know about my great-grandfather George Manfroid. In the early 1990’s I visited a Family History Center and found a man named Isidor Manfroid that was born in Germany in May 1855.  I didn’t think much about it and kept searching for a George.  Back then you inserted disks into the computer, there was no Internet yet for public use.  Below is a printout from that time period.  I even eventually wrote a note on it that said, “Wondering if this is George.  George born May 1856 in Germany according to the 1900 census.”

Manfroid Isidor (IGI)

Also on the 1900 census, he named one son Isidor and one Felix.  The Isidor in this IGI  printout’s father’s name was Felix Joseph Manfroid.  Manfroid is an uncommon name so there was not many in the index or in the phone books of Germany, France, Belgium and the United States.    As it turned out, finding my great-grandfather Isidor George Manfroid was a search that took me years to solve.  It seemed that sometimes he used Isidor and sometimes he used George, but not together.  Also, my father knew next to nothing about his grandfather.  He knew his name was George, but he didn’t remember him except that he thought he went to his funeral when he was 3 or 4 years old.  My father thought he was born in Germany, and that his grandparents had divorced.  It was with these skimpy facts that I was finally able to find my Great Grandfather. For years I didn’t know if Isidor and George was the same person. I was pretty sure, but could not prove it until I found his marriage record to my great-grandmother where he is listed as G. Isidor Manfroid.

Here is the story of Isidor George Manfroid. or George Isidor Manfroid

Isidor (George) was born on May 22, 1855 in Siegburg, Rhineland, Preussen to Felix Joseph Manfroid and Elisabeth Kelterbach.[1]  Isidor George Manfroid left Germany around 1877 and came to the United States.[2]  George’s occupation was an iron molder.[3] I do not know how George found his job in iron molding, or why he came to the U.S., but  he may have come due to economic conditions in Germany, or to escape being conscripted in the German military service.[4]

It seems that sometimes my great-grandfather went by George, and sometimes by Isidor.  In 1885 Isidor married Sophie Ahrens in Chicago, Illinois.[5]  In 1886 Sophie died.[6]  In 1889 George appears to be living in Cleveland, Ohio.[7]  Cleveland was the home to Mary Fiderius, her parents, and bothers, and sisters.[8]  Mary was the first child born to Peter Fiderius and Christina Oberdoester on July 1, 1870 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.[9]  By 1878 Mary and her family were living in Cleveland, Ohio[10].  In 1889 her father, Peter, worked for the Cleveland Malleable Iron Company as a general labor.[11]  The Cleveland Iron Malleable Company was located at Platt Avenue and East 79th Street[12].  In 1890 George is listed as living on Platt Avenue and his occupation is listed as molder.[13]  I believe that he probably worked for Cleveland Malleable Iron Company too.  It is presumed that George and Mary met because they lived near each other, or her father knew George through work.  George was 14 years older than Mary, and I wonder how Mary’s parents felt about the age difference.  I don’t know George’s religion, but Mary was Catholic.[14] George and Mary were married in 1889 in Cleveland, Ohio,[15] but by December they were living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where their first child, Laura was born.[16]  It appears that Laura did not live long.  She does not appear in the 1900 census.[17]   Around 1892 they moved to Toledo, Ohio, and their son, also named George, was born January 1, 1892 in Toledo.[18]  In 1894 they are back in Cleveland,[19] in 1898 they moved back to Toledo,[20] and in 1900 they move to Chicago.[21] During the 1890’s fthree more children, Christina, Felix Philip, and Isidor are born.[22]  The son Isidor only lived to be two and half years old.[23]   During this time, it is presumed that George probably worked for Cleveland Malleable since they also had plants in Toledo, and Chicago.[24]  It is possible of course that he worked for another company that made iron.  After 1903 they moved again out of Chicago,[25] and I believe they may have moved to one of the Chicago suburbs. In 1901 they had another son, Arthur Anton[26] and another son Theodore was born in 1904.[27]

Sometime between 1904 and 1910 George and Mary divorced.  The exact date and reason for the divorce are not known at this time.  I believe it to be this time period because I assume they were together when the last child was born, but by 1910 the two youngest sons are not living with their mother.  Arthur is in St. Mary’s Training School in Wheeling, Illinois,[28] and Theodore is in St. Vincent’s Infant Asylum (orphanage) in Chicago.[29]  At that time their were no safety nets for single mothers, so I think she temporarily sent them to these places because she could not take care of them. I did not find either George or Mary on the 1910 census. Considering the time and Mary’s religion the only reason for divorce was the man deserting his family.  I do not know if this is the reason for the divorce, it can only be assumed.  I have been unable to find a divorce document to date.

I believe after the divorce, George moved back to Cleveland and became a barber.[30]  He lived there for a while and returned to Maywood, Illinois where he died alone and poor in January 1924.[31]  He died at Cook County Hospital in Chicago of Pancreatic Cancer.[32]  He is buried in a pauper’s grave[33] at Waldheim Cemetery (now Forest Home Cemetery) in Forest Park, Illinois.[34]

I do not know George’s personality, but knowing my father’s and Grandfather’s personality, I picture George as an introvert, and hard-working, but always poor and maybe not very lucky in life.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

[1] Birth Record for Isidor Manfroid, 23 May 1855, Siegburg, Rheinland, Pruessen; Duetschland Geburten und Taufen 1558 – 1898, Record 10442, GS Film 1057304.

[2] 1900 United States Census, State: Illinois, County: Cook, Township: WestTown, City: Chicago, Enumeration Dist: 293, Ward 10, Sheet 16B, Line 69

[3] Ibid.

[4] Energy of a Nation:  Immigration Resources, a project of the advocates for human rights;

[5] Marriage License & Certificate for Isidor Manfroid and Sophie Ahrens 29 August 1885; State of Illinois, County of Cook, City of Chicago, Certificate # 94849.

[6]Illinois, Marriage and Death Index, 1883 – 1889. Sophia Manfroid 3 August 1886; Cook County, Illinois, Marriage and Death Index, 1883 – 1889.

[7] Cleveland City Directory 1889 – 1890; listing for George Manfroid, 29 Carr; Occupation: Molder.

[8] Cleveland City Directory 1878, 1979, 1880, 1881, 1882,1882, 1884, 1885, 1886,1887, 1889 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908-  1908; listing for Peter Fiderius living in Cleveland, Ohio.

[9] Told to Author’s mother by Mary Fiderius Manfroid Beischer in 1947 and recorded in Author’s baby book.  In Author’s possession at 2916 Martin Drive, Spring Grove, IL.  60081

[10] Cleveland City Directory 1878 –  1908; listing for Peter Fiderius, Leonard Fiderius, Christina Fiderius & Joseph Fiderius

[11] Cleveland City Directory 1889 – Listing for Peter Fiderius, Address: Cleveland Malleable Iron Company.

[12] William Ganson Rose, Cleveland; The Making of a City  (Cleveland & New York: World Publishing Company, 1950), p. 351.

[13] Cleveland City Directory 1890 -01 – Listing for George I. Manfroid, Address: 31 Platt, Occupation: Molder.

[14] Told to Author and Author’s Mother by Mary Fiderius Manfroid Biescher between 1950 – 1960.

[15] Marriage record for G. Isidor Manfroid and Mary Fiderius, State of Ohio, CuyahogaCounty, SS., 5 February 1889.

[16] “Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709 – 1950,” index, FamilySearch (https://familyserch/pal:/mm9.1.1/V2JV-3f4: Laura Manfroid, 13 December 1889.

[17] 1900 United States Census, State: Illinois, County: Cook, Township: WestTown, City: Chicago, Enumeration Dist: 293, Ward 10, Sheet 16B, Line 69

[18] Illinois State Board of Health Return of Marriage to County Clerk (DuPageCounty) for George Manfroid (son of G. Isidor Manfroid) and Helen Desens, 22 March 1919.  Birth place of George Manfroid listed at Toledo, Ohio.

[19] Cleveland City Directories 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897 list George Manfroid living at 235 Herald, Cleveland, Ohio.

[20] Toledo City Directories 1898, 1899, 1900 listed George Manfroid as living at 259 Caldonia and 255 Woodford, Toledo, Ohio.

[21].1900 United States Census, State: Illinois, County: Cook, Township: WestTown, City: Chicago, Enumeration Dist: 293, Ward 10, Sheet 16B, Line 69.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Department of Health: City of Chicago: Bureau of Vital Statistics: Undertakers Report of Death for Isidor Manfroid (Son of G. Isidor Manfroid) 12247, 22 March 1901.

[24] William Ganson Rose, Cleveland; The Making of a City  (Cleveland & New York: World Publishing Company, 1950), p. 352.

[25] Chicago City Directories 1901, 1902, 1903 listed George Manfroid as living at 1313 N. 42nd Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

[26] Certificate of Birth for Arthur Anton Manfroid, 5 January 1901, State of Illinois , Department of Public Health, Division of vital Statistics registered no 72637, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois

[27]  Texas, Deaths, 1977 – 1986 index and images, FamilySearch (, 1978 Vol 140, Sep, Certificates69501-70000,  Harris County, Image 149 of 579 for Theodore Manfroid 8 August 1978

[28] 1910 United States Census, Wheeling, Cook, Illinois; Roll T624-241, Page 21B, Enumeration District 0132; FHL microfilm 1374254.

[29] 1910 United States Census, Chicago, Ward 21, Cook, Illinois; Roll T624-264. Page 168, Enumeration District 0923; FHL microfilm 13742777.

[30]ClevelandCity Directory 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912.

[31] Death Certificate for George Manfroid, 22 January 1924. State of Illinois, County of Cook, City of Chicago; Registration  no. 2041.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Forest Home Cemetery Records, 863 South Des Plaines Avenue, Forest Park, Illinois; Lot 1736, Section IH.  Date of burial: 24 January 1924, 68 years 8 months, 10 days.  No Marker.  Lot owned by State of Illinois.

[34] Ibid.

Father’s Day: A Tribute to My Dad

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My Dad and me

My Dad, George Philip Manfroid, Jr. was born to George Manfroid and Helen Desens on 26 October 1919 in Forest Park, Illinois.  Dad grew up in Forest Park and Elmhurst, Illinois.  He went to York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois.  He had a brother, Donald, 14 years younger than him.  He grew up during the depression and that made a great impression on him.  I remember the stories that my dad told me about the depression.  When I hear about the recent recession compared to the great depression on TV, I cringe because the recent recession is nothing like what my father described to me.  His father lost his business, then they lost their house, and they ate bananas for Sunday dinner.  There were no safety nets like there are today for the unemployed.  Because this made such an impact on my Father he decided that his children would not go without.  He went without lunch for weeks and saved his lunch money to buy me a doll for Christmas.  He made me a doll house with a hand saw (he didn’t have power tools at the time).   He gave me everything he possibly could.  Not only did he give me material things, he gave me his time, attention, advice, and love.  He gave me history lessons at the dinner table.  He loved history, and I learned about history and current events through dinner time discussions.  He had a great sense of humor.  Whenever my brother or I asked if he would buy us the latest toy or gadget, he would say, “Yes on the 42nd of July.”  Just in case they ever changed the calendar the 42nd had to land on the second Tuesday of the week.  In other words we were never going to get it.  He loved  gardening and painting the house.  He was always painting inside or outside.  He loved his baseball and the Cubs.   He was always there for me whenever I needed him.  If I just need to talk or if I needed a shoulder to cry on, he was there.  I loved him very much and I have no doubt about his love for me. 

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Dad walking me down the aisle

When I got married, he walked me down the aisle and gave me away.  He told my husband on our wedding day that if he (my husband) ever did anything to hurt me, he would have to answer to him (my father).  After we were married for several years, my father told some friends of ours that when their daughters grew up he hoped they found someone like my husband.  I picked a good man because I had a good father. 

My Dad worked hard and sometimes worked two jobs to make ends meet.  When I was born my dad was a bus driver.  He drove a bus for a suburban bus company, Leyden Motor Coach.  At first he worked nights and holidays, but as he gained seniority, he was able to work mostly days and had the major holidays off.  Sometimes he would take a charter on his day off.  He especially liked the ones to the ball games.  He would get off work from the bus company about 2:30pm, and go to his second job driving a mini bus for a nursery school, Jack and Jill, in Villa Park, Illinois.   He was with the bus company for 17 years when the company closed down.  My Dad then got a job with Burney Brothers Bakery driving a delivery truck.  He delivered to Jewel grocery stores in Chicago.   He also took overtime delivering wedding cakes on Saturdays.  After 17 years with Burney Brothers, they closed down too.  At 59 years old my father was without a job, no pension, and not old enough for Social Security.  He found a job doing maintenance work at the Wheaton Park District.  He worked there for the next five years.

We lived in an Apartment until 1953 when my parents bought their first house in Lombard (Villa Park was across the street).   We lived in that house until 1963 when they bought another house in Villa Park.   In 1968 they moved to a smaller house in Carol Stream, Illinois due to my father’s health issues.  My father lived in the Carol Stream home until his death.

In 1967, my dad was diagnosed with throat cancer.  He was given radiation treatments for six weeks.  The tumor was in his voice box, and he couldn’t talk very well.  The radiation shrank the tumor so he did get his voice back.  They wanted to remove the voice box to get rid of the cancer altogether, but my father said he would rather die than to be without his voice.  He lived 17 more years without a recurrence.  In late February or early March of 1984, we noticed my dad had slowed down.  He said he wasn’t feeling good, and my mother finally convinced him to see a doctor.  He went to the doctor and was sent him for some tests.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer. A few days later my dad was admitted to the hospital.  I went to see him and he had to cough a lot.  It was deep cough and it seemed that when he coughed he could not get his breath.  It was hard to watch.  My last visit with my father, I noticed he kept staring at me.  I thought to myself that he is studying me in case this is the last time he sees me.  When it was time to go, I said “Good-bye I hope you get better soon.”  He said, “Me too.”  We were holding hands and he did not want to let go and neither did I.  I planned to go back every day, but the next day I came down with a terrible cold that settled in my chest.  I did not go to visit him because I was afraid of giving him my cold.  I thought the last thing he needs is a cold.   The next day my mom called me to say that the doctor called her and told her to get to the hospital he was dying.  I couldn’t go because I had two small children at home.  My mother and brother were there with him at the end. My mom said he kept pulling the tubes out of his arms.  So I think he was ready to die. 

My dad passed away from Cancer on March 15, 1984 at 64 years, 4 months, and 18 days.  I wish I was there with my Dad at the end; however it is a comfort to know that my mother and brother were there for him.  He is loved and dearly missed by his children, grandchildren, family, and friends.  Happy Father’s Day to a great Dad!  If I could tell him one thing it would be this, “Dad, the Cubs finally did it and won the World Series in 2016!” 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  topic this week Father’s Day

Copyright©2016 Gail Grunst

Going to the Chapel

Gloria and Lou

Lou and Gloria Schultz

“Going to the chapel” is this weeks topic for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  The first thing that came to my mind when I saw this topic was the song  Going to the chapelIf you are too young to remember this song click the link to hear it.  Of course it’s about getting married and June is a wedding month.  Then I scanned my brain trying to think of what ancestor or family wedding I could write about.   I decided to write about, Louis Schultz, my father’s cousin and my Godfather.

lou and gloria's wedding (2)

I’m posting the original newspaper announcement of the wedding, and I transcribed it below because it is hard to read.

Mr. and  Mrs Louis Carl Schultz are now receiving their friends in their new home at 7425 Dixon (Forest Park, IL) after a brief sojourn in Oak Park (IL) following their return the end of April from a wedding journey through the Smokey Mountains, Tennessee, and North Carolina. 

The young couple were united in marriage on Sunday afternoon, April 18 (1948), at St John’s Lutheran Church (Forest Park, IL) with Dr. J. W. Behnkin, President of the Missouri Synod officiating at the services. 

The bride is the former Gloria Magdalene Zuttermeister, daughter of Mr. & Mrs Martin C. Zuttermeister of 216 Des Plaines (Forest Park, IL).  Her husband is the son of Louis Schultz of 416 Marengo (Forest Park, IL).

For her wedding the bride chose a gown of white slipper satin, the peplum and long train falling over the the double net skirt.  The sweetheart neckline was edged with crystal beads, and the pointed sleeves buttoned from wrist to elbow. A tiara of seed pearls held the tulle veil bordered by Chantilly lace, and she carried a bouquet of white gladiolas centered with purple tipped white orchid.  A mother of pearl cross set with rhinestones and set on a white gold chain was her only adornment.

Mrs Paul Mullenbruck, gowned in turquoise marquisette ruffles edging puffed sleeves and neckline served as her matron of honor.  Salmon tinted daisies formed her bouquet and she wore a pearl  necklace.

Dorothy Igler, gowned in orchid marquisette,  and Annette and Lois Zuttermeister attired in lime green and peach maquisettte gowns fashioned with ruffled  neckline and sleeves were the bridesmaids.  Each wore a necklace of pearls and carried a bouquet of white daisies.  Barbara Jean Meentemeyer, the flower girl, was in yellow marquisette, her rose-petal filled white basket in cool contrast. 

The bride’s mother chose a gown of orchid marquisette, styled with full skirt, tiny puffed sleeves and sweetheart necklace.  Her corsage soft pink carnations.

Paul Mullenbruck of Blue Island (IL) served the groom as best man.  Ushers were Joe Ulrich, Jr. of Chicago, Clarence Hingst, and Bill Lemn of Forest Park (IL).

Henry Desens acted as master of ceremonies at the reception attended by some 100 guests held at Eagles Hall, gay with white wedding bells and streamers.  Richard Ramel and John Herold furnished music for the entertainment of the guests.

The bride who, like her husband, is graduate of St. John’s grade and Proviso high schools was entertained before her wedding with showers given by Mrs. Walter Zuttermeister and by Dorothy Igler and former classmates.”[1]

I love the description of the dresses, jewelry, and flowers.  This article is also full of genealogical information. 

Lou was my father’s 1st cousin and my 1st cousin once removed.  Lou was not only my father’s cousin; he was also my Godfather.  My parents visit with Lou and Gloria regularly.  After my parents passed away, I still saw Lou and Gloria a few times a year.  When they camped at the state park near our home, they would stop over and see us.  Sometimes we visited them at their campsite and played cards or board games.  Lou had a good memory and gave me a lot of information on the Desens family.    

Lou and Gloria lived in Forest Park, Hillside, Bloomingdale, and Bartlett, Illinois.[2]  They never had any children.[3]  They loved square dancing, camping and golfing.[4]  Lou studied accounting; however he gave it up due to poor eyesight.[5]  He was a Milk Man for many years, delivering milk to homes.[6]  After that became obsolete, he drove a limo.[7] Gloria died on 12 July 1994,[8] and Lou died on 22 January 2009[9]

I miss Lou and Gloria very much.  Lou was one lucky guy because Gloria was a wonderful woman.  She was so nice and kind-hearted, and I loved her very much!

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

[1] Forest Park, Illinois, Forest Park Review, Thursday, June 24, 1948, Pg. 8.

[2] Personal knowledge of Author, Abigail Grunst, 2916 Martin Drive, Spring Grove, IL

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Number: 319-24-7427; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: Before U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2011.Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration.

[9] U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2011.Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration.

They Came from Faraway Places

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Old German Homestead

All my ancestors came to United States in the 1800’s from faraway places.  They came from Germany, France, Belgium, Scotland, England, and Canada.  The first ones to come to the United States came in 1834 from Scotland, but didn’t stay in the US.  They went to Canada and most stayed there except for my Great-Great Grandmother (born in Canada), came to US in 1865.  Her husband came to the US in 1851 from England.  Both the ancestors from Scotland and England came on sailing ships which meant the average trip took 43 days.  There was usually a lack of food, sea sickness, lack of privacy, and the spreading of illnesses.  Once here they had to travel to their final destinations.

In the case of the Scottish Ancestors, they made their way to Nassagaweya, Halton, Ontario.  They arrived in New York on August 12, 1834 so I assume they were traveling to Canada in good weather.  I also assume they traveled by wagon and possibly a boat to cross one of the great lakes.  They had to travel through wilderness to get to Nassagaweya.  In fact, Nassagaweya was the wilderness back in 1834.

The English Ancestors that came here in 1851 came on a sailing ship too.  Steamships were just starting to be used in the 1850’s.  Their ocean voyage experience was probably much the same as the Scottish ancestors. Again, once here they had to travel to their final destinations.  Some settle in Syracuse, New York, but my direct ancestor settled in Ottawa, Illinois.  I don’t know what brought him to Ottawa other than he had a step-brother who owned a farm near Ottawa.  By 1850 there were trains so he might have taken a train at least some of the way to Ottawa, Illinois, and then maybe by wagon, carriage, or boat.  In the 1850’s he would be traveling though wilderness too.  In fact there were Indian wars going on around that time too.

The ancestors from Belgium, France and Germany came in the 1870’s and 1880’s by steam ships so their journeys were shorter 10 to 14 days.  Still it was quite an adventure even then.

Not only do you have to think about the ocean voyage and their trip though the United States or Canada, but in their home country they had to travel to get to the port of departure.  Most did not live near port city.

I admire the courage to travel to a strange country and to leave their home country.  What was the chance they would ever go back to see their families?  Probably never!  Today, France, Belgium, Germany, Scotland, and England don’t seem so faraway because of air travel.  I think we should honor those ancestors who were brave enough to leave their homeland, families, friends, and their way of life behind for a new life in a strange land.

I posted this a couple of years ago and thought is was appropriate for this weeks topic for  52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  “so far away”.

Copyright © Gail Grunst