I happened to notice that Ancestry had added a database regarding Wisconsin employment records, which is a collection of records of individuals who needed a license to work, and included occupations such as: teachers, boxers, barbers and watchmakers. So I thought I would check to see if Lydia Hamm was in there as a teacher.
Well I didn’t find Lydia, or any other Hamm of interest, but when I tried searching for Johns two names showed up that I recognized: Eric and Elmer W. John. These two men are both sons of William John, jr., the, sort of, middle son of F.W. and Johanna John.
Eric is already a barber in the register and is merely keeping up with his professional paperwork. Elmer on the other hand is actually registering as an apprentice. I guess he had a year or so to go before he could call himself a professional.
I did a quick search for Eric at Ancestry and found him working in a barbershop in Rock County in the 1910 census. Eventually he moved the family to Gillett and continued as a barber probably his whole life. (His son Keith had a daughter whom we met at the Gillett Cemetery Walk a few years ago.)
Elmer eventually moved to Milwaukee and was employed as an electrician by 1940. I guess the barbering profession wasn’t for him.
Just a fun fact to share. Its nice to know what our cousins were doing with their lives.
Barber register, 1903-1913; Wisconsin. Barbers Examining Board; Series 880, box 1 flat, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison Wisconsin. [Ancestry.com. Wisconsin, Employment Records, 1903-1988 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018. digital image 638-639 of 770]
Apprentice register, 1907-1913; Wisconsin. Barbers Examining Board; Series 882, box 1, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison Wisconsin. [Ancestry.com. Wisconsin, Employment Records, 1903-1988 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018, digital image 520 of 735.]
I was doing some more newspaper research recently, (have I ever mentioned that I love newspaper research), and I found a couple of interesting ads in the Gillett Times newspaper:
Thursday, February 2, 1933 Want Ads REGISTERED GRADUATE NURSE Eight years experience. Very reasonable rates. Mrs. C. F. John, R.N.
Then another, slightly different, ad a few months later:
Thursday, April 27, 1933 Want Ads Mrs. C. F. John, R.N. For Professional Services,$3. Day or night.
At this time Clarence and Myrtle had no children, (their first wasn’t to be born until 1934), so no doubt Myrtle was bored to death sitting at home with nothing to do, except wait for Clarence to get home from work. Heck, I got bored just writing that sentence!
Of course, I have no idea if she got any work that way. I’m hoping something came up for her sake. But then, by November of that year she was pregnant, and waiting to welcome their first bundle of joy, who was born mid-summer of the next year. Her focus was now raising kids.
She got back into nursing after Clarence died in the 1950s. After all she was alone now and had to support herself. No more ads though.
My spouse and I do not have children. It was a choice that we made when we were first married. And we have been quite content with that choice of thirty plus years ago.
I bring this up because I have noticed that one of the ways that choice we made so long ago has influenced my genealogy research, is that I find I like to focus on those ancestral relatives that also didn’t have children, or never married, or even lost the children they did have, before they could have any family of their own. There is no one around who cares to pass on their life story, and many times that is a great loss.
So here I introduce Calvin John and his wife Agnes McDonnell, of Gillett.
Calvin is the son of Alfred John and his wife Hattie. I wrote a post, not too long ago, about Calvin and his father having some kind of tiff that ended up in court. But I know nothing of his relationship with his father.
Calvin was very, very tall. In any picture you see of him he is towering over every other person in it. Can you guess which one is Calvin, in the picture below, without looking at the caption?
Calvin worked in lumber camps his whole life, running, owning, or laboring at them. But Cal wasn’t all work, he could be found in the local paper often as part of the local baseball team, or other types of play.
Calvin was 23 when he married Agnes McDonnell, a local school teacher (who was two years older than him), in 1904. They have a lovely marriage photo (see top). Agnes was the daughter of Daniel and Mary McDonnell, both of whom were from English Canada. Agnes was born in Wisconsin, and had three brothers and one sister that I know about, although admittedly, I haven’t researched her family at all.
They also had a pretty good sized farm. (You can click on the images to see them better.)
We don’t know if, or how much, Agnes, as an Irish Catholic girl, regretted that they had no children, or Calvin either. They would probably have been great parents.
In March of 1958 a tragic accident put an end to both of their lives. I found the following Milwaukee Journal newspaper article, which gives few details about the event that occurred on the 28th. Not much can be gleaned from this except that they were just another statistic for the state to compile.
But thankfully, it wasn’t long after that a local woman wrote a lovely tribute to the pair for the local Gillett newspaper. ‘This article is found in the Gillett Times, Gillett In Milwaukee, by M. Burse:
And now a small tribute to two near and very dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Calvin John “Calvin and Ag”, as they were known to the entire community, and far beyond.
The writer has known them as long as she can remember and that’s a long, long time. Their parents and my parents having been pioneers of Oconto County.
No Gillett then, no trains. There was a stage that turned northward at North Branch (the old McDonald Farm). Oconto was the nearest city, to which they thought nothing of making the trip on foot. But they settled there, in small log houses and carved their homes out of the vast wilderness. Grandpa John was a Civil War Veteran, and thus we younger ones grew up together —Agnes and Aunt Mary, one half mile between our homes, and one week’s difference in our ages. We grew up together, went to school together, and began teaching school at the same time. She was a brilliant student, and in fact could do just about everything. She was a wonderful person-and good kind was her equal in everything —ambitious, energetic, honest and true.
They were an ideal couple. Lacking one month, their married life’ counted up to fifty four years. — fifty four very happy years. It was such a beautiful home to go to, they were so kind and good to each other and those around them. The home atmosphere was so happy and peaceful. The both worked hard and always together.
They died as they lived — close together, which, tho sudden, and tragical’ (sp), almost had a beautiful side to it —they went together.
As long as the writer can remember, Calvin owned a good driving horse and buggy. He was a prize winning horseback rider and always on July 4th, when the entire community turned out for the celebration in “Helmke’s Grove” one of the features of entertainment was the horseback riders race, which Calvin always entered, and always won first place. Agnes was an expert rider also, and one year, later on—long after Calvin and Agnes were married, and the celebration, July 4th. was in the Gillett Park — ‘The Harvest Festival’ it was —for some reason Calvin was not riding, so his racer was without a rider, until Agnes stepped forward and took over. She went down that race track like a streak —winning first place, and keeping Calvin’s record still at the top.
When we were still in grade school, and played baseball during recess, and at noon, boys and girls together, Agnes was always the first one chosen. They would always choose sides and place the players before we started. She could hit surer, drive father, and go around that diamond like the wind.
Calvin’s baseball days are well remembered. One year his Gillett team were straight winners throughout the season. Nearing the end of the season, they were challenged for a game with Green Bay, to be played at Green Bay. An excursion train was put on to run from Gillett to Green Bay —and it was filled to capacity. During the game Calvin made a spectacular play, putting out his man—by catching an extra high ball. Comments could be heard from the Green Bay team, about his being too tall. One man said “He could be stuck into the ground up to his knees and he’d still be tall enough to play”. Agnes quickly answered him’ “Yes, put him in up to his armpits and he could still defeat you”. Calvin’s team did win that game too.
Their charity was unlimited. No needy one was ever turned away from their door—if it was work they sought, Calvin would find something for them to do, it” not with his’ crew then something on the farm — and Agnes, with a good meal for anyone who was hungry.
I’m sure our Divine Lord had their record books balanced highly in their favor when they were called Home. They were truly good kind people, with friends everywhere, for —
None knew them but to love them, None named them, but to praise
Gillett will not be the same without them. Their going leaves an awful vacancy, but the Good Lord was ready for them—and took them together. “Tho their sudden deaths were a great shock to their near and dear ones, and their hosts of friends, it was comforting to know they were together, and we feel that Our Good Lord had an extra special place for them, and that He met them with this kindly greeting’ —“Well done, my good and faithful servants, come to your home of eternal bliss, that I have prepared for you.”
Then funeral arrangements were beautiful. Everything being done as near as possible to what “Ag and Calvin’” would want, by their near and dear loved ones. It just seemed nothing was left undone. Calvin’s services were conducted in their home by Rev. Simon, whose words were most comforting with soft music, and beautiful singing by three ladies, Mrs. Stanley Korotev was the only familiar face in the trio. Then the funeral procession wended its way to St. John’s Catholic church, where Rev. Father Bablitch offered up the mass for Agnes, and spoke in kindly glowing terms of them both. One came away from both services with such a good feeling of Godliness and understanding.
My farewell to you both dear Agnes and Calvin…Floral offerings were immense, and spiritual bouquets were piled high.
They were in their late 70s when they died. I am glad that at least they had themselves a goodly amount of years together.
In my court records research regarding the John family in Oconto County, Wisconsin, I found an interesting case. It was Alfred C. John (my gg Uncle) vs. Calvin John (my 1st cousin, 2x removed).
Alfred is Calvin’s father. The case was a criminal case where Alfred was accusing Calvin of assault:
That on, to-wit, the 31st day of August, A. D. 1916, at the premises of the defendant [Calvin’s home], in Oconto County, Wisconsin, the defendant assaulted, beat, bruised and wounded the plaintiff by violently striking him in the abdomen.
According to Alfred, his son beat him so bad he became sick, sore and was permanently disabled, and continued in such a condition, so he wanted renumeration. In fact he wanted $5000 in damages. Ouch!
Cavin’s response to this allegation was that he was merely defending himself from assault by his father.
There is no testimony to the case because it never went to jury, Alfred never showed up on the day the jury trial was to start, so the case was dismissed.
I was unable to find anything in the local papers regarding this matter either, other than the notifications of court dates, which is a bummer. Maybe Alfred got a little snockered one weekend, the hooch made him ornery, so he started a fight with the closest person at hand, who happened to be Calvin. Or maybe he was just hard to get along with.
The original complaint was filed in 1916 and the trial was to start in 1920. That is a few years of bad blood between relatives. I have no idea how well Calvin and his father got along, but considering the fact that Calvin was the tallest guy in town, I don’t think it was a fight Alfred was going to win anyway.
August C. Johns*, FW John’s younger brother, moved to Iowa about 1884 from Dodge County, Wisconsin. Once there, August and his wife Mary bought themselves the Milwaukee Depot Hotel in Algona, Kossuth County.
The John families had a history of owning boarding houses and small hotels, but I do not know if that was the reason for this move. Mary and August were definitely very invested in their business, because over time they: shored up the building’s foundation, added on — to make more room, and made major improvements in the interior, as can be read in the following newspaper article transcriptions…
—A.C. Johns, proprietor of the eating house at the Milwaukee depot, finding his present building too small to accommodate his trade, has an addition well under way which, when completed, will be 22×32 feet on the ground, and the front half of it 16 feet high.1
Mr. Johns is putting his Milwaukee eating house on a new stone foundation and fitting it up for the winter.2
The Johns hotel at the Milwaukee depot has undergone a general overhauling this spring. The finishing touches were put on by Painter Orr last Friday. The inside and outside are painted throughout, new paper, and other changes have added to the beauty and convenience and our popular Milwaukee landlord has one of the finest eating houses along the line.3
They ran this hotel for 15 years eventually trading it for farm land nearby. No doubt because they were getting on in years, and found the business of hoteliers to be too difficult. Also, all their children, (who happened to be daughters), were married and had moved away from home, so were no longer around to help out.
In their 15 years of running the hotel there were no doubt many an interesting tale they could tell. One of those interesting tales I mentioned in a post a while ago: regarding a counterfeiter in town. Here is another I found that was told in two different local newspapers:
Below is a transcription, if you find the articles too difficult to read.
TOOK MIKE FOR A TARGET Midnight Marauders Shoot at Hubbard, but Without Producing Serious Results… Mike Hubbard experienced an unpleasant sensation yesterday morning about 2 o’clock. He had been cleaning some vaults and had just got home with his team. As he had finished un-harnessing and was turning towards the house he saw two men in the alley running from Mr. Johns’ hotel. The men did not see him till quite close, and then he called out to them. Both turned off to the north and one of them whipped out a revolver and fired at Mike, coming uncomfortably close to him. They then ran away and were lost sight of.
It turned out in the morning that they had tried to break in at Mr. Johns’ and had just been scared away. They opened the cellar door first and took out some fruit, etc., and ate it. Then they began to remove a pane of glass with a big chisel. Mr. Johns heard the noise and thought at first it was mice, which the girls had been complaining of for some days. But after a while he made up his mind that it could not be, and got up. When the burglar saw him he dropped his chisel and ran, it was thus that they came on Mike and scared him out of a good night’s sleep.4
TRAMPS AT WORK. The N.W. Depot and John’s Place Both Entered. Last Monday night tramps or sneak thieves entered the ticket office at the Northwestern depot, drilled two big holes in the safe, but did not succeed in getting the door open and if they had would not have got anything for their work as there is not money left there. Nothing else was molested and the thieves were undoubtedly frightened away before the job was completed.
The same evening A. C. Johns at the Milwaukee depot drove two sneak thieves out of his cellar. They were loading up in great shape when Mr. Johns happened to hear a racket in the cellar and proceeded to investigate matters, armed with an ugly-looking gun. He would have peppered their skins for them had they not escaped just as they did. Mike Hubbard attempted to run the fellows down with a pichfork as a weapon but one of the two would-be-thieves fired a couple shots at Mike and he let up on the chase pretty quick. He was pretty badly scared and told Mr. Johns that he had been shot at but didn’t know just where he had been hit. After examining himself he found that a bullet had plowed a furrow through his coat-tail. It was a close call for Mike.5
Very exciting stuff. August and Mary moved to Minneapolis in 1899. Their age and ill health made it more convenient for them to be closer to family. When they died though, they were both buried in Algona.6, 7 It must have been their home of the heart.
*NOTE: August/us spelled his John surname with an ‘s’. Our family spelled it without. German records show the name as Jahn — no one in the family spelled it that way once they arrived in America.
Here are more newspaper articles regarding the hotel and the Johns: 1895-10-23, Wednesday Page 8, col. 3, of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: Walter Stebbins has leased the Johns hotel at the Milwaukee depot and has taken possession. Mr. and Mrs. Johns, we understand, will visit in Minneapolis and take a well earned vacation. Walter will make a number one landlord and keep up the excellent reputation the hotel has enjoyed.
1896-1-31, Friday Page 5, col. 2, of Algona Courier, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: Mr. and Mrs. Jas. Ryan will take hold and run the Johns’ hotel, at the Milwaukee depot. Mrs. Stebbins who has been running it for some time has taken his old position in the Wilson Mill.
1896-5-8, Friday Page 5, col. 5, of Algona Courier, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: Mr. A. C. Johns has traded his hotel property for a farm near Hartley. The new owner will take possession of the hotel soon. For some time past it was quite successfully run by Mrs. James Ryan.
1896–5-13, Wednesday Page 4, col. 5, of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: J. L. McNamee of Hartley has bought the Johns hotel at the Milwaukee depot and is now in charge. He traded a farm near Hartley for the property. Mrs. Ryan and son, who have been running the hotel, have rejoined Mr. Ryan. Mr. Johns will not leave Algona.
1917-4-19, Thursday page 7, col. 2 of Algona Courier, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: Mr. E. J. Murtagh went to Minneapolis last Friday to see his old friends, Mr. and Mrs. A. C. Johns, the former being very enfeebled with age, he being now 88 years old. Mr. and Mrs. Johns lived in this town for many years, and Mr. Johns served on the council as a member for the Third Ward for several terms…
1923-6-7, Thursday, Page 1, col. 2 of Kossuth County Advance, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]: PIONEER ALGONA LANDLADY VISITS OLD FRIENDS HERE Mrs. Mary A. Johns, of Minneapolis, has been a guest at the E. J. Murtagh home for some days. Forty years ago Mr. and Mrs. Johns conducted the “Johns Hotel” at the Milwaukee depot. The house did a big business for passenger trains then stopped here for meals, and all the railroad men were patrons of the house.
The hotel, which stood on the north side of the track, was burned down some years after Mr. and Mrs. Johns left Algona…[they left in 1900]
Those were the boom days at the Milwaukee depot….The Dehnert hotel, now north of the courthouse, at that early day was also serving the public, but stood just south of the Milwaukee depot. It was moved to its present location 35 years ago…
1925-2-19, Thursday, Page 1, col. 6, of Kossuth County Advance, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-resercationcom]: MRS. MARY A. JOHNS DIES; TO BE BURIED HERE TOMORROW… She and her husband the late A. C. Johns, ran the Milwaukee hotel here in 1884, when it was thought that the main part of the city would be located near the Milwaukee depot…
Thanks to organizations that are digitizing local newspapers, and making them available to search on-line we now have a wonderful timeline and history of Mary and August’s time in Algona.
1885-5-13 Wednesday Page 4, col. 3, of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]
1889-10-16, Wednesday Page 4, col. 1, of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]
1890-5-21, Wednesday Page 4, col. 3, of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]
1894-6-20, Wednesday Page 4, col. 6 of Algona Upper Des Moines, Algona, Iowa — [algona.advantage-preservation.com]
On October 30, 1931 Clarence John was driving home from a long day at work at his bowling alley in Oconto. It was 11:30ish at night and pouring rain.
The driver of the motorcycle was Harvey, a 20-year-old, who was accompanied by a friend. Harvey lost a leg due to the severity of his injury. His father, acting as his guardian, sued Clarence for damages and the case was brought to Brown County Court in March of 1932, however there was a request to change the venue to Oconto County, which was consented to.
There were no witnesses to the accident other than the three people involved. The only testimony in the case is from Clarence. Below is a scan of the first page from the testimony.
According to his testimony, he had half interest in a bowling alley in Oconto, at the armory, which he ran all by himself. He was living in Gillett with his wife, Myrtle, and his parents. They had no children at that time.
Clarence answered the suit against him with a definite ‘not my fault’, stating that the driver of the motorcycle was driving too fast for the conditions and lost control. Harvey’s lawyers and guardian denied the fault was his.
The damage that is visible on Clarence’s car does look like the other driver hit him, not the other way around. But in the end, we only have Clarence’s testimony, none from Harvey.
And, of course, no matter what we conclude seeing the evidence and reading the testimony, the jury’s opinion is the only one that matters. They found Clarence at fault, and ruled in favor of him paying damages of around $5100 for personal injuries sustained by the plaintiff. (If payment was for reparation for the loss of Harvey’s leg, it seems a bit cheap to me.)
In 1948, 15 years later, we find the case continued, because Clarence had yet to pay the $5100 he owed to the plaintiff.
The record, which consists of sworn affidavits of attorneys and the defendant, and the statements of counsel made in the record on this application, raises a serious question as to the truth of the allegations of the defendant in his affidavit. The plaintiff’s attorney at the time of the trial…swears that after the rendition of the judgment and for about nine years thereafter he industriously attempted to ascertain the financial condition of the defendant in Oconto and Forest Counties and that his investigation disclosed to his satisfaction that the defendant during that period was judgment-proof.*
From 1942-1948 no action or activity appeared to be going on regarding the collection of the debt. Until Harvey got impatient, and in 1948 started pushing for his money. Here is an excerpt from a letter from one lawyer to another regarding the matter, dated October 21, 1948:
I have checked with Findorff and they tell me that John terminated his employment with them sometime during the spring of this year. However, the motor vehicle dept. informs me that he has an automobile registered in his name – – -1936 Plymouth coach…residence being Crandon, Wisconsin.
Under the circumstances , there is no point in my filing the certified copy of the judgment, inasmuch as there is absolutely no chance of my garnisheeing his salary or having execution issued. In the event he is traced to Madison again, I will be happy to grab him by his pants. There may be a chance for you to have his car picked up if he has returned to Crandon.
This process continued until July of 1953. At this time Clarence was finally found in Wausau, and served, Harvey had made action to start the process of suing him, he was worried because the judgment would lapse in August of that year.
Clarence refused to show up in court, instead sending his attorney to file one paper which stated that since the judgment, he and his family had resided in Wisconsin all that time. They never received papers regarding the execution of the judgment, or even an attempt at communication, and that such in-action in all this time negates the ‘good cause’ requirements of the judgment. Basically, making it null and void.
But the lawyers for the plaintiff had this to say:
It looks like Clarence really didn’t want to pay this debt. But he never asked for an appeal to the judgment, which kind of makes his excuse a bit thin.
In the end all this work that Harvey put into getting his money came to nothing. My grandfather, Clarence, died in February of the next year, (1954). On his father’s birthday.
*Wikipedia definition of judgment-proof: In the context of debt collection and civil litigation, the term judgment proof is commonly used to refer to defendants who are financially insolvent, or whose income and assets cannot be obtained in satisfaction of a judgment. Being “judgment proof” is not a defense to a lawsuit. If sued, the defendant cannot claim being “judgment proof” as an affirmative defense. The term “judgment proof” instead refers to the inability of the judgment holder to obtain satisfaction of the judgment. If a plaintiff were to secure a legal judgment against an insolvent defendant, the defendant’s lack of funds would make the satisfaction of that judgment difficult, if not impossible, to secure.
Auto-Motorcycle Collide Friday Eve. on H’y 22, The Gillett Times, Gillet, Wisconsin, Thursday, November 5, 1931; No. 11, page 1, column 2.
Harvey Andrianssen vs. Clarence John, Circuit Court case #12741, Oconto Series 36, Green Bay ARC, UW Green Bay, Green Bay, WI. (Photographs from the accident taken from case file.) If interested in case just ask me for a copy.
The Crandon newspapers have been providing me with much amusement lately. Here is an article that includes my grandfather and his Uncle Harry:
The masquerade given here last Friday night by the Woodman Lodge drew over fifty couples, including many maskers. Prizes were won by…Harry Cain, dressed as Charlie Chaplin, and most comic gentleman…Clarence John in an Odd Fellow’s suit was best dressed gentleman. The Royal Neighbors served supper on the stage.1
I think all that fame went to gramp’s head, and he felt the need to celebrate:
Clarence John has suddenly taken a musical turn of mind and has whittled a ukalale out of a cigar box and slab and with the aid of a little hay wire is now putting in his spare time playing those popular Keith & Hiles lumberyard strains, “The Curse Of An Aching Back”, and “Working For Whisnant At Two Bones A Day.”2
Sources: 1. Friday, Mar 1 1918, p8c3, No. 26 32nd year; Forest Republican, Crandon, WI —Crandon Public library digital images.
2. Friday, Mar 22, 1918, p1c2, No. 29 32nd year; Forest Republican, Crandon, WI —Crandon Public library digital images.
Ukulele plans found online: https://stansplans.com/ukulele_prplans.html. Get krackin’!
Courting Under Difficulties
Clarence John went to Cloma Sunday night, to sit up with a young lady friend. For the benefit of our readers who do not know where Cloma is located, we will state that it lies “somewhere near Nashville” and that S. W. Beggs is mayor of the village. Clarence evidently had some time, for in relating his trip he says, “I had heard it was hard to get there so I put on my bathing suit and started out at about eight bells. I walked two miles, swam a large creek, waded through mud up to my suspenders for a mile, jumped here and there on a wet corduroy road like a grasshopper and finally reached Siding Three at about twelve bells. Here I borrowed a horse from a gent and rode another mile, then a flock of large mosquitoes carried me a mile further, and at last I followed a cow into town just as Daddy Ison was getting up to feed his hog. The young lady was waiting for me so I sat down and rested a few minutes and then took a morning train back home. Talk about hard luck—I sure had it. I don’t see why girls want to move way out in the suburbs for anyway.”1
I have been having fun finding more digitizied newspapers available online. The Oconto County papers have been exceptionally good, and now I am finding some from Crandon.
This amusing tale was in the paper when Clarence, my grandfather, was 19 years old.
Source: 1. Friday, Jul 19, 1918, p1c1, No. 46, 32nd year; Forest Republican, Crandon, WI —Crandon Public library digital images.
I was going through family pictures this week in preparation for another scanning project, when I started running across old Christmas photos. So I thought I would post a few for fun. (They will also be on my flickr site eventually.)
After reading the title of this post I can hear my relatives asking, “Colonel Who?” A perfectly legitimate question too. But, in order to answer it I will need to go back a few years to give you a frame of reference.
The story starts with Laura, the youngest daughter of FW John and Johanna Deadrich, my great great grandparents. The second youngest of 6 children to survive to adulthood, she was born August 27, 1866 in Gillett, Oconto County, Wisconsin. (Laura was six years older than the youngest child, my great-grandfather, Victor.)
When Laura John was 19 years old she married her first husband, Charles Edward Pahl. A marriage which lasted for 10 years. Here are some notes from the divorce case:
“…That shortly after the said marriage the plaintiff [sic: defendant Charles] commenced a system of cruel and inhuman treatment towards the plaintiff by calling the plaintiff base, vile and abusive names, by threatening to strike, shoot and kill the plaintiff ….. conduct of the defendant became so cruel and inhuman towards the plaintiff and the said child [Victor] that the plaintiff was forced to and did leave …. That during the time the plaintiff and defendant lived together the defendant was ever jealous of every body who spoke to the plaintiff even of the plaintiff’s brothers …would abuse the plaintiff by the use of vile epithets…talking about shooting and killing the plaintiff.
…the defendant had a mania for whipping and punishing the said Victor Pahl … when the plaintiff remonstrated and attempted to prevent the defendant from so whipping and punishing said child the defendant would grossly and outrageously abuse the plaintiff by use of abusive words…
That the defendant frequently took up a stick or wood and threatened to strike and beat the plaintiff. That about six weeks before the plaintiff left the defendant…because she protested against the punishment of the said Victor Pahl by the defendant, the defendant violently assaulted the plaintiff and pinched and bruised her arm with such force as to take the skin off of her arm.
That shortly before the plaintiff left the defendant as aforesaid he told the plaintiff that if his style did not suit her she might leave and the sooner she left the better, that in consequence of said abuse and the great fear the plaintiff had of the defendant she left him as aforesaid.” 1
Laura had three children with Charles: Louis, who died at about a year old, Harold and Victor Pahl. She retained custody of Victor in the divorce proceedings. (It appears that their son Harold might have also died by the time of the divorce as he is not mentioned in the records).
Laura married again in 1899 to Edward Naylor.
Married Last Saturday morning, at Gillett, Oconto County, this state, Dr. E. S. Naylor to Miss Laura Johns, Justice Riordan officiating. The bride is one of the most popular young ladies of Gillett, and a sister of our obliging station agent at this place, and the groom is well know veterinary surgeon formerly of Ripon, but now in the employ of the Rusch Lumber Company here. They arrived here on the evening train Monday and were duly serenaded by the village band, after which a social ball was given in their honor at the Exchange Hotel, where they are at present staying. The Advertiser joins their many friends in wishing them a happy and prosperous journey through life. 2
This marriage didn’t last long either, and there were no living children of this marriage when divorce was granted in 1904. Laura supported herself by working as a cook in lumber camps, and boarding houses. Skills she most likely learned from her mother, who was acclaimed as a great cook by locals and visitors alike.
Victor was born in 1891. It is possibly because Laura was working in lumber camps, a place that would be dangerous for a young child, that he is found in the 1900 census living with his grandparents, FW and Johanna John. He appears to have had a complicated, rough and confusing childhood, because we find him a few years later at the State School for Boys, in Waukesha, at the age of 14. I don’t know what his incarceration was for, or for how long he was a guest of the facility.
In 1916 when war started in Europe, Victor was working in Ontario as an ironworker. It appears that he was so eager to join in the fight, that he didn’t want to wait for the United States to get involved.
Oconto Boy in the War Victor Pahl, son of Charles Pahl of Oconto, has enlisted in a Canadian company and will participate in the European war on the side of the allies. Victor was born and brought up in Oconto. 3
He was in the Canadian Navy. When the United States finally join in the cause, he signed up for the draft there.
Victor died in 1951 in Florida. Leaving three children from his first wife: Irving, Martha and Laura. From the little that I have found, I am quite sure that there is much more that could be written about Victor, but this post is really about Irving, my Dad’s second cousin.
Here is a picture of Victor from a Brazilian Passport4 from 1943. He would be about 52:
Like his father, Irving C. Pahl was born in Wisconsin. His mother however, was a Romanian immigrant.
Irving’s father moved the family around a lot, probably because of his job (I believe he was a sailor, or worked around boats), so the family wasn’t actually in Wisconsin very long before they left on the first of many moves. It was in Connecticut that the family settled for a short while, and Irving started his formal education.
But he can tell you all about that in his interview.
One of the great things about the internet is how it makes it so much easier to find gems, that you wouldn’t otherwise know about. In researching Irving online, I ran across an interview with him, recorded by the Winthrop University, for their oral history program. The main focus of his interview is the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviets, because he and his family were there when the hammer came down.
Finding the interview, seeing his involvement in Czechoslovakia, and his rank when he retired from the Army, I thought that he might have been an interesting cousin to know about, so I did a little more digging. What follows are newspaper clippings that I found regarding Irving’s life in the military. And I was right, it was pretty interesting.
This first newspaper article is from 1953 and gives a good overview of his accomplishments and involvement in the service from 1939 up to that time. The rest of the articles are chronologically organized.
Those are the highlights of what appears to be quite an interesting life for himself, and his family. And when Irving retired in Columbia, South Carolina he didn’t actually ‘retire’. He was still very much involved with the community, volunteering and writing letters to the editor.
Irving passed way in 1996, leaving a son and a daughter to carry on his legacy.
The interview which I mentioned above can be downloaded from the University’s website, and listened to at your leisure, it is about 50 minutes long. I have also transcribed the interview as best I can. The transcript (a link to it is below in .pdf format) is the best I could get from listening to it on my iPhone. Some bits were too garbled for me to hear clearly, and I indicate such, on occasion he is speaking Czech (or German), or using Czech names and places, and I can’t quite tell what he is saying. A few times several people were talking at once, (I believe his wife was present at the time, interjecting a comment on occasion, which I couldn’t quite hear).
As each new generation is born, it is only natural that family starts drifting farther apart. So I am glad when I can find and share these stories of cousins we never knew. I hope you enjoy them too.
Sources: 1. Divorce of Laura Pahl (plaintiff) from Charles E. Pahl (defendant) December 24, 1895 (filed January 8, 1896) Oconto County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court Case #4044, Area Research Center, UW Green Bay, Green Bay, Wisconsin. June 23, 2005.
2. Northern Wisconsin Advertiser, Wabeno, WI (Madison WHS micro PH 73-1888) January 26, 1899 c5 (weekly Thursday paper). 3. The Union Farmer Herald, Vol. 5, Issue 42, March 24, 1916, page 1, col. 1.
4. Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965, FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records. Image 145-146 of 201 (pulled from Ancestry.com).