Thursday, February 1, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge 2018

This is the seventh year in a row that I am participating in the Family History Writing Challenge, and the fourth year that I will be posting my daily writing on this blog. Prior to 2015 I kept it all in a Word document on my computer.

This year I am using the challenge in a slightly different way. Everyone has at least one brick wall that they are struggling to break through, and for me the biggest one is the Hightower family. The search seems as insurmountable as the Great Wall of China, and just as unlikely that I will be able to scale it on my own.

Before I admit defeat and turn what I have over to a paid genealogist, I need to survey all that I have done so that a new person isn’t retracing my same steps. I’m going to use this challenge as the motivation to revisit all my old notes, documents, reports, etc. and establish where I have been so that I understand where I/we need to go.

But I will begin the challenge by covering what I do know so far about the Hightower family. I am confident in my knowledge and documentation of the connection back to my fraternal 3rd great-grandfather, Thompson Hightower. But it is with him and his wife, Elizabeth Hopper, that I run solidly into a brick wall.

In last year’s challenge, which you can find here, I wrote about my dad’s Kubler family. In the February 15th post, I mentioned that my grandfather, Joseph Henry Kubler, married Lillian Marie Hungler in 1912. It is through my grandmother Lillian that the Hightowers appear in my family tree.

Lillian and Alice Hungler
In a departure from previous challenges, I’m going to begin with Lillian and work my way back to Thompson Hightower. Lillian was born to Albert Hungler and Catherine (Cramer) Hungler in Cincinnati, Ohio on 25 October 1895. She was the oldest of four children, though only she and her younger sister Alice lived to adulthood. Lillian was 18 months old when her brother Corry Albert was born, and 3 when twins Alice and Albert came along. It is believed that Albert died as an infant.  Catherine Hungler lost her battle with tuberculosis on 16 April 1900. She was not yet 23 years old.

Albert Hungler found himself a widower at the age of 30 with a 4-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old to rear. So that he could continue to work as a laborer, he and the children moved in with Catherine's parents, Michael and Anna (Willard) Cramer, where they appear in the 1900 census record. As if the grief of losing Catherine weren't enough for the family to deal with, little Corry Albert died of tuberculosis on 10 October 1900. How devastating this must have been for the entire family.

But Albert found love again and married Matilda Stritzinger on 10 May 1906. Albert and Matilda went on to have 8 children. Lillian remained living with her grandparents, while Alice stayed with her dad and his new wife.

Somewhere along the line Lillian met Joseph Kubler, whom she would later marry. It would be interesting to know how they became acquainted as they did not live in the same part of Cincinnati, nor attend the same Catholic church. Joseph was 5 years her senior, and employed as a clerk in a liquor retail house.

St. Lawrence Church
On her application for a marriage license on 23 July 1912, Lillian stated that she was living at 928 Wells Street, which was the home of her grandparents Michael and Anna Cramer. Wells Street is located in the East Price Hill neighborhood. She listed her employment as a saleslady. She further indicated that she was 18 on 22 October 1911, which was inaccurate. In fact, she was just 16 on that date. While it is possible she did not know her birth year, it is more likely she put that on the application in order to avoid the issues that came along with being a minor trying to get married. Or perhaps she had even misrepresented her age when she got a job and had to carry through with the deception when she got married.

Lillian and Joe, 1944
On 24 July 1912, 21-year-old Joseph Kubler was married to 16-year-old Lillian Marie Hungler at St. Lawrence Church. Their daughter Ethel was born in 1913, followed by son LeRoy (my father) in 1917, daughters Mary Jane in 1925 and Gloria in 1930. The couple had been married for 57 years when Joseph died in 1969 of congestive heart failure. Lillian died in 1979 at the age of 83.

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