Saturday, June 16, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 24

As you might expect, this week’s writing prompt is Father’s Day. I have written extensively about my dad in other blog posts, so I am going a different direction this week. Another important “father” in my life was Father Francis Ostdiek, from whom I received my First Holy Communion.
Holy Trinity October 2017
Father Ostdiek was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1913. In 1920 he was given the responsibility for building first a church and then a school to establish Holy Trinity parish in Des Moines, Iowa. Bishop Thomas Drumm gave him $500 and a plat of land at Beaver and Adams Streets. With $100, he purchased a former Knights of Columbus hut from Camp Dodge, which he dismantled and moved to the new location to serve as a temporary church. By the next year he built a combination school and church, and in January of 1922 thirteen students attended the school.

Holy Trinity School
We moved to Des Moines in 1960, and our new home fell within the boundaries of Holy Trinity. It was there that my brother and I began our education at the parish school, riding the school bus from our home in northwest Des Moines. I remember that Father was very visible in the school building, and of course we saw him each morning at mass before the school day began. From Father Ostdiek I learned what it meant to be not only a good Catholic, but a good person as well. He taught us to be kind to one another, and to help others in need. He was an incredible example of walking the talk.

Father Ostdiek ~1960s
Due to tremendous growth in the Catholic population in the early 1960s, part of Holy Trinity was divided off to attend the newly constructed St. Mary of Nazareth Church located a few miles from Holy Trinity. When the church boundaries were redrawn, our street fell into the new parish. Beginning in 1965, we attended Sunday mass at our new church. However my brother and I continued to attend school at Holy Trinity. Father Ostdiek remained pastor of the church the entire time we were there, retiring in 1969 after serving the parish for 49 years!

On 4 October 1979, at the age of 91 he greeted Pope John Paul II from his wheelchair when the Pope visited Des Moines on his U.S. tour. The Pope reportedly said, “You could not come to see me in Rome, so I came to you in Iowa.” That certainly must have been a highlight in Father Ostdiek's life, which ended on 6 June 1981 at the age of 93. He lived a long and holy life, and I am grateful that he was part of mine during the years when my faith was in its infancy.
Father Ostdiek meets Pope John Paul II

Saturday, June 9, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 23

Kirche St. Peter
We are Going to the Chapel with this week’s writing prompt, and my approach is to write about an old ancestral church that I visited. The oldest church (or perhaps I should say portion of a church) where ancestors worshipped that I have seen in person is the Kirche St. Peter in Büsserach, Switzerland. This Roman Catholic Church stands on a hill on the south side of Büsserach, which currently has a population of 2,251. About 76% of the village is Catholic. While a 1759 church was demolished in 1951 to make way for the existing building, the attached tower dating back to 1464 is still standing.

Within the tower is a museum containing photographs and relics of the church’s history. When I visited in 2013, my host arranged for a private tour of the museum. It was fascinating to see all the displays, and climb the steps to the top of the tower. I counted at least five bells. Did one of my ancestors ever climb the stairs with the responsibility of ringing the church bells to call parishioners to Mass?

painting of the old church
There were many death memorials hanging on the wall with my maiden name Kübler on them. I took photographs, even though I am not sure how they fit into my tree. But the most interesting and exciting thing for me to see was the antique baptismal font, which I was told would have been the exact one used to baptize members of my Kübler family, who emigrated to the United States in 1854.

baptismal font
Walking in the town where they lived, seeing the sites that they saw every day, and finally "going to the chapel" where they worshipped all gave me an opportunity to travel back in time and experience a bit how they had lived. And to wonder all over again, how did they ever leave it all behind?

Büsserach, Switzerland

Saturday, June 2, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 22

For the writing prompt So Far Away, I decided to take a less literal interpretation of the theme. Instead of looking at an ancestor who came to America from far away, or talk about visiting a research center in a distant location, I wanted to write about an ancestor whose occupation was very far away from the woodworkers, salesmen, railroad employees, etc. that I normally find with my male ancestors. Let’s talk show biz, instead.

My second great-uncle, John P. Hungler, was born on 2 November 1876 in Covington, Kentucky. His parents were John and Anna (Hightower) Hungler. His brother Albert was my paternal great-grandfather.

John was 26 years old and working as a tobacco salesman in London, Kentucky when he married 20-year-old Mabel Lillie on 26 November 1904 in Highland County, Ohio. Highland County is located about 70 miles northwest of where John was living. It is interesting that they got married in Highland, especially since Mabel's family was in Michigan at that time.

November 1910
Not long into their marriage John and Mable became vaudevillians, performing under the stage names of Jack and Mable Price. Vaudeville shows, one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the United States and Canada from the 1880s until the early 1930s, were made up of a series of separate acts grouped together on a common bill. The acts might include comedians, singers, plate-spinners, ventriloquists, dancers, musicians, and animal trainers. The shows played to all economic classes in various auditoriums or theaters. It was on the vaudeville circuit that the saying “Will it play in Peoria?” was coined, meaning that if an act could succeed in Peoria, it would work anywhere.

I have been able to locate several newspaper clippings announcing the appearance of Jack and Mable Price. Their shows were comedy and singing skits, some of which were extremely racist. A listing in the November 6, 1910 Pittsburg Press for the Family Theater on Fifth Avenue in New York stated that “Jack and Mabel Price, known as the ‘two corkers in cork’, will entertain with a black face comedy.” Another act was entitled “Chief Tenderhoe”, for which a reviewer proclaimed that Jack “is certainly an Indian of wonderful strength and his act i [sic] a big novelty." My dad remembered being told that at one performance the audience was so incensed that an Indian had abducted a white woman, several men ran onto the stage. Jack and Mabel had to escape through a back door.

In the 1930s, vaudeville began a steady decline and by the end of the decade it was dead. The Depression affected attendance, and the popularity of talking and singing movies also provided fierce competition.

It is unclear what year Jack and Mable Price went back to their lives as John and Mable Hungler, but the 1930 census indicates that they were living in Leoni Township, Michigan. My father said that they had a nice house on a lake there, as well as an additional residence in Florida. Their shows must have played well in Peoria!

They never had any children, which makes you wonder who inherited their estate. John died in Michigan in May of 1946 at the age of 69, and Mable was 67 when she died in Michigan in July of 1951.

Old actors never die, they just lose their parts.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 21

In previous posts I have written extensively about the ancestors in my family who once served in the United States military. So for this post on the writing prompt Military, I will instead talk about a military urban legend in our family tree.

Michael Cramer
My father had been told that his maternal great-grandfather, Michael Cramer, was in the Civil War. In fact, dad had seen with his own eyes a bugle and a rifle which were purported to have been used by Michael in the war. Those were to be passed down to my dad as he was the only male grandchild of Michael. However, somewhere along the line a cousin came to visit my grandfather (dad’s dad), and he asked for the bugle and rifle. My grandfather let him take them, and dad never saw the items again.

Through the years I have attempted to prove or disprove the legend. I was skeptical, because Michael was born 15 September 1853 in New Orleans to Michael and Catherine (Kemper) Cramer. As the Civil War broke out in April of 1861 and ended in May of 1865, Michael would have been only 8-12 years of age when the war was raging. Obviously he would not have been accepted into a regular regiment. He could, however, have been a member of a Fife and Drum Corps. But even that would be a stretch as the average age in the corps was 18.

Unfortunately members of the drum and fife groups were not normally documented, so I have been unable to locate a roster that lists my ancestor’s name. More telling, perhaps, is the fact that in the 1930 census under the box where the census-taker asked if you were a veteran of the U.S. military, “No” was marked by Michael’s name.

So where did the bugle and rifle come from? The only Civil War veteran I have been able to find definitive records on so far was Andrew Hungler, my dad’s 2nd great-grandfather. Perhaps they came from him. How sad that my dad did not have the opportunity to keep such important and historic family heirlooms.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 20

The writing prompt for this week, Another Language, stumped me for a bit. I don’t speak another language, and outside of a few German words carelessly thrown out by my father, no other language was ever spoken in our house. I don’t remember any of my grandparents speaking anything besides English.

truck of one of my Swiss cousins
However, when I traveled on my genealogy trip to Germany and Switzerland, language became a huge issue for me. Luckily most of the people I encountered spoke English. In both of the small hometowns I visited I was provided with a translator. The new relatives I met, with the exception of a couple of teenage girls, could only talk to me through the interpreter. That worked out pretty well, until the evening I spent alone with two cousins. They spoke no English and I spoke no German, and we went out to dinner together. Have you ever spent a few hours with someone and been unable to communicate? It was frustrating, for me as well as them, I’m sure. Not for the first time, I regretted not taking a German for Travelers class before I embarked on this journey. We resorted to drawing pictures on napkins, creating our own form of communication.

Kubler record
But most discouraging was the fact that all the records were in German, and in an old script to boot. I got to the point where I could at least recognize the name, and we took photos of the entries in each book. But there was no time to process how the people fit into my family tree. Between my photos and those taken by the man who was assisting me in looking for my family, I have hundreds of new names. Some I have been able to plug into my genealogy program, but many are stored on CDs that were given to me. I just don’t know what to do with them, short of hiring a German genealogist to make sense of all of them.

It is, indeed, another language. But it is all Greek to me.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 19

Joe, Mom and me ~1956
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, and also to all the women who have served in the capacity of “mom” regardless of birthing circumstances. The writing prompt for this week is, of course, Mother’s Day. For most of my life Mother’s Day was, in my mind, a time to celebrate my own mother. Even after I had my first child in 1985, it never felt like “my” day. After all, my mom had been doing the job a whole lot longer than me.

When she died in 1989, the “Mother” disappeared from “Mother’s Day”. Instead of a day of celebrating, it became a day of mourning. It was many, many years before I could even begin to look at Mother’s Day cards again. The fact that my son barely got to know my mom, and that my daughter never had the opportunity to do so, still breaks my heart. She was such an important part of me, and a wonderful and fun-loving person, that it is a shame they didn’t get a chance to share their lives with her.

me, Andy and mom 1989

my sister and me
Mother's Day 2013
I’m grateful for my older sister who, due to the difference in our ages, often seemed like a second mother to me as I was growing up. Our roles are different now that we are grown up, but she has been such a support to me as she felt our mother’s loss every bit as strongly as me. We try to get together on Mother’s Day, and that has helped with our healing.

I’m also blessed to have a mother-in-law who has always been a strong role model for me throughout the 40 plus years that I have known her. She is my mom in all the important ways, and I pray that we have many more Mother’s Days to share.

my mother and father-in-law with my mom and dad
Mother's Day 1979

Saturday, May 5, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 18

Catherine Crusham
This week I selected a photograph of my mother, Catherine (Crusham) Kubler, for the writing prompt Close Up. While I do have a photo of her from when she was quite small, she is in a baby carriage and her features are hard to make out. I believe this picture was taken around 1923 in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can’t tell from this black and white photo, but my mom was a natural redhead as were her father and at least two of her seven siblings.

Catherine was the third child born alive (two others were stillborn) to Michael and Mary (Metz) Crusham, and five additional children followed her. I’ve always been a bit surprised that this photograph was taken, as it was obviously done in a studio. Michael and Mary were not a well-to-do couple, and by the time it was taken a fourth daughter would have been added to the family. Where did they come up with the money for the portrait? Did the other children have their photos taken as well? I’ll have to ask my aunts next time I see them.

Mom seems pretty pensive in the picture. Perhaps the gargoyles carved on the chair scared her! Most likely she had never seen a photographer with a big camera before. But smile or no, I am grateful to have this depiction of what my mother looked like as a child.

Kim Kubler
I find it interesting to compare her photograph to one taken of me around the same age in Chicago where we lived from the time I was a few months old until I turned five. I obviously had no qualms about having my picture taken. My dad always had a camera around, so I was used to having one pointed at me.

Mom and I both had curly hair, though mine was brown while hers was red. I see the most similarities in the upper part of our faces, in the shape of the eyes and the nose. From my mom I also inherited my height, or lack thereof, my pear shape and my bunions. Yay…

But it is inside where we are most alike, I think. I share my mom’s sense of humor, her view of seeing the glass as half full, her fierce protection of her family, her love of travel, and her willingness to try new things.

It would have been wonderful had she lived long enough for us to be able to travel and try some new things together.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 17

Kubler family stone
With the writing prompt being Cemetery this week, I immediately thought of the cemetery plot that has me the most puzzled. My second great-grandfather, Vinzenz Josef Kubler, died 19 September 1886 and is buried in the Connersville, Indiana cemetery aptly named City Cemetery. When I went to Connersville many years ago to research that branch of my Kubler family, I headed first to the local library.

It was there that I found a newspaper article describing the death of Joseph Kubler, which is the name he went by in America. He died in the St. Gabriel's Catholic Church following Mass one Sunday morning at the age of 38. The librarian indicated that most residents of the town who died during that time period were buried in the City Cemetery. Unfortunately (at least at that time) no records existed to show where he was buried within the cemetery.

Alfred Kubler
After driving through the cemetery I did locate the tombstone for Joseph. It is to date the largest monument of any of my ancestors. On one side of the stone was listed Joseph V. Kubler, along with his death date and how old he was at the time of his death. On the other side was Alfred, son of J.V. & J. Kubler along with his death date of 3 October 1885 and the fact that he was 8 when he died. That is clear enough, but there are four other small stones on the plot: Father, Mother, Alfred, and Henry.

Alfred and Henry (my great-grandfather) were both sons of Joseph and Josephine Kubler. Initially I thought Father and Mother referred to Joseph and Josephine. However, I later discovered that Josephine remarried after Joseph died, and again following the death of her second husband. I would imagine that she was buried with her third husband and not her first husband.

It is possible that they refer to Joseph’s mother and father, though the last records I have found for them are located in Cincinnati, and some of Joseph’s brothers had remained in Cincinnati as well. It would make sense that they would have their parents buried in Cincinnati.

Unfortunately, City Cemetery does not have records that indicate who might be buried beneath those small stones. The other occupants of the Kubler plot remain a mystery for now.

smaller Kubler stones

Saturday, April 21, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 16

The writing prompt Storms had me a little stumped this week. I don’t know of any storm survival stories or storm chasers in my family, nor does anyone have a name that has anything to do with bad weather. But then I remembered my 2nd cousin, twice removed, Elsie Lauretta Metz.

Elsie Metz 1902
Born in Cincinnati on 24 May 1880, Elsie was the second and final child born to John and Isabella (Drescher) Metz. Their son Daniel was born in 1873. Elsie entered the University of Cincinnati (UC) in 1899, one of the 141 entering freshmen at a university of 1,145 students. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1902. She received a teaching fellowship in Modern Languages at the university for the 1903-1904 school year. She would later be awarded a Master of Arts degree from UC.

In December of 1911, 30-year-old Elsie applied for a U.S. passport, which was granted on 3 January 1912. This was in preparation for a 78 day cruise to the Orient aboard the steamship Cincinnati. As a single woman, she traveled with family friends Caroline Moerlein and her son William Moerlein. The Moerleins were part of the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company dynasty. Elsie kept a diary of her adventure, which surfaced a couple years ago and was donated to the Cincinnati History Museum. I was able to scan the pages of the diary before it passed on to the museum.

Cincinnati Enquirer article January 31, 1912

Vanderbilt Hotel
The beginning of the trip had a series of weather-related mishaps. The group first experienced ice and sleet on 28 January as they boarded a train in Cincinnati bound for New York City. There was more sleet when they arrived in New York on 29 January, and the Hudson River was frozen over as they made their way to the Vanderbilt Hotel. Newly opened on 10 January 1912, the hotel was built by Alfred Vanderbilt, great-grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. The sleet of the day turned into a blizzard by that night.

The Cincinnati left New York on 30 January, 1912. Elsie notes that they had “a rough stormy passage to Lisbon”, and that her female traveling companion was never able to appear on deck as she had “every disease known.” I’m sure that as First Class passengers, they were well taken care of, however. The ongoing storm was so bad that the ship was unable to land at Lisbon on 8 February, arriving the next day instead.

The ship traveled through more storms on its way to Cadiz, Spain. When they were finally able to dock, they found that their arranged trip to Seville was canceled because the railroads were washed away. Elsie records that “Spain suffering from worst floods known in sixty years.”

Eventually they made their way to more temperate weather, and she does not mention any other bad weather before returning to New York on 20 May 1912. But, at least at the beginning of the trip,  Elsie must have been wondering, what in the world have I gotten myself into?

Denver Post Story
April 17, 1912
On a side note, Captain Schulke of the Cincinnati reported that at midnight on 14 April he received a call for help from the ill-fated Titanic. While on the way to offer aid, the Captain was told that his help was not needed so he turned his ship back to its original course.

Elsie had many more traveling adventures in her life, including one where she had to get an emergency passport at the US Embassy in Berlin when WWI broke out in 1914 and she needed to get back to America. She died a spinster at the age of 93 on 21 March 1974.

Elsie Metz ~1954

Saturday, April 14, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 15

lonely road
I almost didn’t write anything for this week as the prompt is Taxes. There are no ancestors that I know of who had any interesting tax payments, or who went to jail for nonpayment of taxes. I know of none who were tax collectors. A suggestion was made to write about the ancestor who has been the most taxing, and for me that would be Thompson Hightower. But I have written extensively about the trials and tribulations I have had researching him.

For me the most taxing (and frustrating) thing about doing genealogy is the fact that no one in my family is interested in my beloved hobby. Oh, they will listen when I tell them about a new discovery. And some are eager to see the family tree. But I read with envy the accountings of siblings or cousins or mothers and daughters who are on this journey together. In addition to halving the work load, how fun it would be to travel with someone who is as excited about finding a new birthdate from the 1800s or tromping through an old cemetery searching for a death date as I am!

It has been a solitary pursuit for me, and I only hope that when I am gone all of my hard work doesn’t get tossed in the trash along with the other things that have been important in my life.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 14

Dorothy behind the pram 1920
Maiden Aunt is the writing prompt for this week. The only aunt I had who never married was my mom’s sister, Marie. I wrote about her in Week 10, and that post can be found here. I had several maiden great-aunts, but the one that I knew the best was Dorothy Crusham. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio on 25 October 1908, Dorothy was the 9th and final child of Michael J. Crusham and Catherine (Colgan) Crusham. My maternal grandfather, Michael A. Crusham, was her oldest brother as well as the oldest child in the family.

In the 1930 census, Dorothy was 21 years old, living at home with her parents and two of her brothers, and was employed as a telephone operator. Their house was located at 4117 West Liberty St.

Sister Miriam Fidelis
On 8 September 1934, Dorothy became a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy (R.S.M.) She resided at McAuley Convent in Cincinnati. R.S.M. was established in Dublin in 1831, but it wasn’t until 1858 that some of the sisters came to Cincinnati to teach and visit the sick in their homes. The R.S.M. nuns are “women of faith who commit our lives to God and our resources to serve, advocate and pray for those in need around the world.”

While she was busy with her life serving Christ, Aunt Dorothy (as we called her) tried to attend as many family events as she could. She particularly enjoyed coming to the Crusham family reunions, which were usually held in a local park during the summer. What I remember most about her was her smile and her infectious laugh.
Sister with nieces Marie and Margie
Although I don’t recall where we were going, one time I rode in the car with her. We were probably headed to my grandparents house after a family gathering. She was a horrific driver as she got older, and I vividly remember our drive as we headed the wrong way on a one way street. I was so frightened I got down on the floor of the back seat. We made it safe and sound to our destination, but my parents never let me ride with her again!

Aunt Dorothy was funny and kind, and I remember wishing I had nuns like her teaching at my elementary school in Des Moines. Despite the fact that she always wore a habit, she was not in the least bit intimidating.

Golden Jubilee
Her Golden Jubilee to commemorate 50 years as one of the Sisters of Mercy was held in 1984 at the Laurel Court in Cincinnati. Once the 1907 home of Peter G. Thomson, founder of The Champion Coated Paper Company, the building and its grounds were turned into an event space with multiple gardens. Many nieces and nephews attended the party, as well as her sole surviving brother, Tom. My brother flew in from Colorado, and my sister and her family along with my husband and me traveled from St. Louis to help her celebrate this momentous event.

Dorothy died on 22 August 2001 at the age of 92. She lived a long, full life and was much loved by her spiritual and blood families alike.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 13

Schwein home
This week’s writing prompt, the old homestead, took me back to my visit to Steinweiler, Germany in September of 2013. Steinweiler is a small (current population around 2,000) town in the Rhineland-Palatinate region. The area was first populated in 968, though it was not called Steinweiler until 1585.

It was there that I saw the home of my 6th great-grandparents, Johann Ulrich Schwein and Margarethe (Erbauer) Schwein. Ulrich, as he was known, was most likely born in Steinweiler though I have been unable to find information about his parents or date of birth. I do know, however, that in 1717 he married Margarethe Erbauer in Steinweiler.

The couple built their house in Steinweiler of half timber construction, which was common in both rural and town locations in Germany at that time. The frame of the building was made of timber, usually oak as it was plentiful. Triangular bracing was added to give additional support. The space between the timbers was filled with a mixture of branches, clay and straw. Plaster was then layered over that. The timber often remained visible both inside and outside the building.

As was popular, Ulrich had his name and the year his household was established etched into the facade of the house. The symbol between his name and the date let people know that Ulrich was a blacksmith. As Schwein indicated the occupational name for a swineherd, the family most likely had pigs as well. The construction of the house would indicate that animals were kept there as well, as you can see from the photo in the bottom right.

While I was photographing the outside of the house, the owner arrived home from work. My German guide explained to him why I was taking pictures, and he invited us to see the inside. It was beyond thrilling to cross the very threshold that my ancestors had crossed hundreds of years ago. I still get goosebumps when I think about it.

Schwein house kitchen and courtyard

Saturday, March 24, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 12

When I saw the writing prompt for this week, misfortune, I immediately thought about my paternal great-grandfather, Albert Hungler. Born in Covington, Kentucky on 17 October 1869 to John Hungler and Anna (Hightower) Hungler, Albert was the oldest of two boys born to this couple. (Anna died fairly young, and John went on to marry Mary Elizabeth Carver in 1892. They had twelve additional children.)

Catherine Cramer ~1887
Albert married Catherine Cramer on 3 July 1894 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Catherine, daughter of Michael Cramer and Anna (Williard) Cramer, was born in 1877 in Cincinnati. Albert was 24 and Catherine 17 when they married. Their daughter Lillian, my grandmother, was born in 1895, son Corry in 1897, and twins Alice and Albert in 1898. Unfortunately, Albert died at birth.

Catherine contracted tuberculosis and died 16 April 1900. She was just 22 years old. At the turn of the century, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in the United States. It was also referred to as TB, consumption, phthisis, and the white plague. Cincinnati had the first publicly funded tuberculosis sanatorium in the country. Between 1900-1903, 1,253 residents of Cincinnati died from TB. Sadly, Catherine and Albert’s son Corry also succumbed to tuberculosis on 10 October 1900. He died at the age of 3, just six months after his mother passed away.

Albert was no doubt still grieving the death of his wife when his only living son was also taken from him. One can only imagine what it would have been like to lose two important family members in such a short time period. I’m certain that Albert never imagined himself a widower at age 30 trying to adjust to the death of a wife and child while attempting to deal with his two remaining grief-stricken children. Lillian was only 5 and Alice just 2 at the time. That was a whole lot of misfortune for a young man to deal with on his own.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 11

The writing prompt for this week, Lucky, can be taken many ways. With all my Irish heritage, it would be easy to default to writing about my Ireland roots since it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, I think I’ll write about how luck played a part in finding out more about my Kubler heritage.

My dad always said that our Kubler family was from Germany. He didn’t know what part of that country we came from, only that he had heard Germany was the homeland. But I wasn’t having any luck finding a link between the family and Germany.

My grandfather, Joseph Henry Kubler, was born in Connersville, Indiana, and my great-grandfather Henry Kubler was raised in the same town. My 2nd great-grandfather, Vincenz Josef Kubler, had moved to Connersville with his wife and children around 1870.

On several occasions I traveled to Connersville, and I was able to piece together the lives of the family members in this town. Vincenz, who was known as Joseph in the community, operated a grocery store in town. In an account that was written about his store, they mentioned that Joseph was a native of Switzerland. This was my first inkling that the Kubler family came not from Germany but from Switzerland.

Joseph Kubler stone
Through a search at the local cemetery, I was able to locate the Kubler headstone, and determine when Joseph Kubler died. That led me to the library to look through the local newspaper, where I found a story about Joseph’s death. The article stated that he dropped dead after mass on a Sunday morning at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church. He was 38 years old. It went on to mention that Joseph was born in Büsserach, Canton Solothurn, Switzerland.

Finding that death notice was the missing piece I needed to determine the ancestral hometown of my 2nd great-grandfather. That knowledge led to a trip to Büsserach several years ago, culminating with a family gathering in a nearby castle. Now THAT was some luck!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 10

Marie, right front, with her family
When I saw the writing prompt for this week, Strong Woman, I immediately thought of my mom’s older sister, Marie. The firstborn of eight surviving children of Michael Crusham and Mayme (Metz) Crusham, Marie was born 28 March 1912 at the family’s home on Rosemont Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio. Michael and Mayme had purchased the home sometime after they married in 1911.

Pogue's Cincinnati
Marie dropped out of high school when she turned 16 to take a job to help support the family, which at that time numbered seven. She went to work at Pogue’s, an upscale department store located on Fourth Street in downtown Cincinnati. She would walk up the hill on Rosemont Avenue to Glenway Avenue and catch the bus each day. She never learned how to drive or got a license her entire life. She worked her way up in the business office at the store, and remained there until she retired with a nice pension. Unfortunately, that pension was later stripped away when Pogue's was purchased by another conglomerate.

Marie on the left with
sisters Stell and Catherine
Though she was an attractive, friendly and outgoing person, Marie never married and rarely dated, according to family members. My parents often wondered if a man had gotten “fresh” with her, and that’s why she stopped dating. She lived with her parents her whole life, and supported them and took care of them as they aged. Michael died in 1961 and Mayme in 1969. Their will stipulated that Marie could remain in the house on Rosemont until she no longer wanted to live there or until her death. Then the house was to be sold, with the money divided among the surviving children.

Marie’s hobbies were reading, quilting, and embroidery, and she was known to make a baby quilt for each of her new great-nieces and nephews. I still have the one that she made for my son in 1985. She also loved to travel and would take the bus to visit us in Chicago and Des Moines. After my mom and dad moved back to Cincinnati in 1984, they took her on a few road trips with them.

Unfortunately, a fall from her front porch around 1999 resulted in her being paralyzed from the neck down. She had to be placed in a nursing home, and could no longer do any of the things she loved. It was an unfair occurrence for someone who had never harmed anyone. But despite this, she never lost her easy-going manner, and never complained about what had been taken away from her. She celebrated her 90th birthday at the facility in March of 2002, and died there on 2 July 2002.

We all loved Aunt Marie, and I never doubted the love she had for me as well. She was the epitome of a good Christian, of a person who honored her mother and her father, and one who gave of herself without asking anything in return. Despite the number of years that have passed, I miss her every day. Here is the poem I wrote for her, which was displayed at her funeral.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 9

The writing prompt for this week is Where There’s a Will. This was a tough one for me as I have very few ancestors for whom I have been able to locate a will. The one will I did find was for Josephine (Hillenbrand) Ashton, my 2nd great-grandmother, and I wrote about her and the will in a previous blog post, which can be found here.

Obviously the word will could be used to express determination, persistence or willfulness as well. I think my 3rd great-grandfather, Andrew Hungler, fits this description, as does his wife Malinda.

Andreas, known as Andrew, was born 22 November 1827 in Niederrimsingen, Baden, Germany to Lawrentz Hungler and Katharina (Willig) Hungler. He was the oldest of 4 children, 3 of whom were born in Germany. Early German and passenger records lead me to believe that the name was spelled Hunckeler or Hunkeler back in Germany. The family of 5 traveled from the port of Havre in Germany to the United States on the ship Orleans, arriving in New Orleans on 28 October 1833. From there they made their way to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Andrew’s younger sister was born.

Andrew married Malinda Harcourt in Cincinnati on 3 December 1848. The couple had 6 children, 4 of whom were born in Cincinnati where Andrew worked as a brick maker. The last two were born across the river in Covington, Kentucky.

On 19 August 1864, the 3rd year of the Civil War, Andrew enlisted as a seaman in the U.S. Navy. His commitment was for 2 years. He was 35 years old, 5’4” tall with hazel eyes and dark hair. The registrar indicated that he had a scar on his right foot. It is curious that he would have enlisted, first due to his own age (the average age of a sailor at that time was 25), but also because his children were 14, 9 and 6 years old, and his wife was 6 months pregnant with their 4th child.

USS Milwaukee
Andrew served aboard the USS Grampus from August 19-21, then on the USS Great Western from August 22-27, and then on the USS Milwaukee from 28 August 1864 until 14 April 1865. An interesting side note is that the Milwaukee was built by James Eads at Union Iron Works Carondelet in St. Louis. She was commissioned on 27 August 1864, and traveled from St. Louis down the Mississippi River.

On the Milwaukee Andrew’s military designation was quartermaster. His duties would have involved navigation and the maintenance, correction, and preparation of nautical charts. He began to experience pain in his legs while aboard the Milwaukee in December of 1864, and by the early part of 1865 he was limping and complaining of overall body pains. He spent time in the sick bay and was barely able to function in his job.

The ship entered Mobile Bay on 1 January 1865. Mobile Bay had been taken by the Union in August of 1864, but the city of Mobile was still in Confederate hands. The Milwaukee encountered a mine while in the area on 28 March 1865 and blew up, but was able to remain afloat. The crew managed to escape with no loss of life, and they were rescued by the USS Kickapoo. On another side note, scrap metal from the Milwaukee was returned to St. Louis, where it was used in the construction of a bridge across the Mississippi which bears the name of the builder, James Eads.

Eads Bridge in foreground

Following the loss of the Milwaukee, Andrew was transferred to the USS Rose, where he remained until 28 July 1865, when he was taken to a hospital in Mobile, Alabama. One can only hope that he was treated appropriately since he was with the Union and the hospital was in Confederate territory. He left the hospital after 3 or 4 weeks. At one point he was listed as a deserter, but once it was determined that he had been in the hospital, he was honorably discharged.

Due to health issues caused by his service he returned home to Covington in September of 1865, crippled and on crutches. He told his family and friends that he had contracted rheumatism while onboard the Milwaukee. The symptoms of the disease were certainly there, with pain, stiffness, and limited motion of joints. Once home, he needed to be lifted in and out of bed and could barely use the crutches as his legs, arms and shoulders were all crippled. He had to be dressed and bathed, and never recovered from his illness. This did not prevent him and Malinda from having another child in 1867, however.

Andrew died 3 May 1869 at the age of 41 following a week of being unable to leave his bed at all. For a month before he passed he had complained of pain in his heart and shortness of breath. His physician, Dr. Frank Noonan, listed heart disease brought on by rheumatism as the cause of death.

Malinda was 37 when her husband died, and her children were 19, 14, 11, 6, 5, and 2. She became a housekeeper to support the family, and was still working in that capacity when, on 26 November 1888, she filed for a Widow’s Pension for Andrew’s service in the military. As with many government applications, things did not move very quickly on her request. Finally, affidavits were filed in April of 1895 asking that the case be expedited as Malinda was feeble and destitute. Finally the government began taking depositions in the case, requiring testimony from Malinda and her surviving children, shipmates, doctors, neighbors and people who knew Andrew before and after his military service. It was not until 1896 that Melinda began to receive $12 per month as the widow of a sailor, and $12 per month for each child who was under the age of 16 when her husband died. In her case, 5 of the 6 children met that criteria. As Malinda died 11 December 1896, she certainly did not receive financial aid for very long.

Andrew was determined to serve his country in the Civil War, and it took a huge toll on his health and ultimately led to his death. His widow, Malinda, showed great persistence in keeping her family together and fighting for her rights as the widow of a Civil War soldier.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 8

This week’s writing prompt, Heirloom, is one that I am really excited about. In my husband’s family is a dresser that has been passed from generation to generation. It is known to have been in the family since at least 1891. That is a lot of history!

It was first owned by Johann August Determan and his wife, Mary (Luchtel) Determan, my husband’s great-grandparents. Johann was born 11 September 1867 in Clinton County, Iowa to Bernhard Clemens Determan and Marie Anna (Sander) Determan. Bernhard and Marie Anna had emigrated to the United States from Germany, arriving in New Orleans on 7 January 1845. Six members of the Determan clan were aboard the Ship Leontine, which had departed from Bremen, Germany. These families farmed in Clinton County, Iowa.

Mary Luchtel was born 17 June 1873 in Dyersville, Iowa to Herman Bernard Luchtel and Sophia (Grote) Luchtel, both of whom were born in the United States. Mary and Johann married in Breda, Iowa on 27 January 1891 when Mary was just 17 years old. Johann was 23 at the time. The couple went on to have 10 children. In the 1900 census, taken in April of that year, the family was living in Kniest Township, Carroll County, Iowa. By then they had been married 9 years and had 6 children: Caroline, Mary, Frank, Laura, Elizabeth and Edward (who died in September of 1900). They were living on a farm that they owned. Four additional children, Clement, Theresa (my husband’s grandmother), Martha and Joseph, were born in Iowa between 1901 and 1907.

In 1908, when Theresa was 5, the family decided to homestead in the Butte area of Nebraska. They traveled by train with their possessions, including the above-referenced dresser along with some farm machinery and animals. They completed the distance of about 300 miles in one day. But Johann died on 18 March 1910 in Butte at the age of 42, leaving Mary alone with their children. She continued to work the farm with her sons and hired help until 1918, and then she moved back to Iowa. The 5 oldest children married in Butte, and they remained in Nebraska with son Frank working the farm. Mary left with the 4 youngest ones, bringing the dresser and her other possessions back to Iowa.

In the meantime, Johann’s sister Maria Elizabeth died in Breda, Iowa in 1913. She had been married to Bernard Clemens Schulte, and they had 12 children. Sometime between 1918 and the beginning of 1920, Bernard married Mary (Lutchel) Determan. They were together by the 1920 Iowa census, along with 3 of Bernard’s children and 4 of Mary’s children.

Mary Determan Schulte
and Theresa Wolterman
When Mary died in 1955, the dresser went to her daughter Theresa (Determan) Wolterman, and from her to Theresa’s daughter Jeanette (Wolterman) Krebs. Jeanette was the mother of twins and only had one chest of drawers. Jeanette then passed the chest to her daughter Kay (Krebs) Bailey as she had two boys and could use it for them.

In 2011 Kay offered to bring the chest from Illinois to a family reunion as she no longer had a need for it. Interested family members put their names in a hat, with the understanding that the lucky winner had a vehicle large enough to take it home with them. We were fortunate to end up with the dresser, and we in turn gave it to my father-in-law as he had expressed an interest in it but was unable to attend the reunion.

Determan dresser
He refinished the piece, repairing some parts that had been damaged over the years, and gave the dresser back to us to be given to our son and his wife in Springfield, Virginia. The dresser has seen a lot of miles, and no doubt would have a lot of stories to tell. It is great to have a tangible item that connects 5 generations over more than 127 years!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 7

Skipping weeks 5 and 6 due to the Family History Writing Challenge, today I turn my attention back to the 52 Ancestors challenge. The writing prompt for this week was Valentine, appropriately. I don’t have any old Valentine’s Day cards in my possession, nor do I know off the top of my head about any births or marriages which took place on February 14th. But I do have four men in my family tree named Valentin, and one who was named Valentinus.

Valentin is the Spanish form of Valentino, from the Latin name Valentinus. The Latin name comes from an old Roman family name originating as a nickname from the adjective valens, meaning the healthy, the strong. Valentinus is the original form of Valentine. It is no surprise that the person most associated with this name is St. Valentine.

As an aside, in 2016 Valentin was ranked 65th out of the top 100 most popular names for boys in Switzerland. For purposes of this post, I am going to focus on three of the Swiss Valentin males as they are all in the same family line.

Switzerland Cantons

Valentin and Claudia
Valentin Kübler, my 3rd cousin 3 times removed, was born on 17 May 1899 in Büsserach, Canton Solothurn, Switzerland. On 26 July 1924 he married Claudia Josefina Schonbachler in Einsiedeln, Canton Schwyz, Switzerland. The distance between those two towns is 141.6 km, and Einsiedeln is where Claudia was born. The distance makes you wonder how the two met.

Valentin and Claudia resided in Büsserach, and that is where they had their six children. Two boys and three girls were born before their youngest son, Valentin Anton, arrived in 1944. He is my 4th cousin 2 times removed. Valentin died in Breitenbach, a town located near Büsserach, in 1979. Claudia died in Büsserach in 1996.

Büsserach, Switzerland 
Although Valentin Anton died in 2001, many of his family members are still living so I will be somewhat vague in their details. Valentin Anton and his wife had two boys and one girl, but did not name either of their sons Valentin. One of their sons, my 5th cousin once removed, named his youngest son Valentin, which makes young Valentin my 6th cousin.

Naming patterns in families are always interesting. Wouldn't it be great to have a name that is synonymous with the Saint of Love?