I know, I know. It has been quite a while since I have posted anything. I apologize to my readers. Happily, ever since being on furlough, I have been able to renew my passion for beading. Projects are bursting out of my head onto the computer then coming off the loom. Unfortunately this has caused genealogy to become less of a priority. Well, I have been doing genealogy pretty consistently for 20 years now, I guess I can take a bit of a break.
This means that my blog has also suffered the consequences of this neglect. I will try to do better in the future. I am even thinking of adding another part to my site where I post my bead projects, that way I can share both of my interests.
On that note, I actually have a smidgen of gossip to share today.
I mentioned in an earlier post about Gertrude Cain John that her husband Victor had been sheriff in 1919 for two terms. Recently I found a notice in the newspaper that I thought was pretty fun.
This is Victor’s notice posted in the Wabeno Northern Advertiser addressed to the citizens of Forest County, Wisconsin that he was running for sheriff. Now, things were not going to be easy for him in this election, two other men were also running. All of them were from Crandon.
But, (spoiler alert) his fellow citizens decided to take a chance and Victor won. In fact, he won twice.
We have a cousin on the John side of the family that has been searching for years for evidence of the death of his great grandfather Jacob Wilhelm (aka Williams). To this date he hasn’t found one. Unfortunately this post will not be able answer that question.
When this cousin and I met years ago he shared with me letters that Frederick William John was sending to Lorig/Lorek, and an unknown William, all in regards to his grandson Alfred’s adoption by the Lorig family. You see, his eldest daughter Clara had died, and she had three boys, ranging in age from 11 to a couple of months old, who were now orphans. He was trying to find them homes. Clara had divorced her first husband, and her second husband had disappeared.
Oconto County Reporter, October 10, 1885 Wilhelm Died In this city, Sunday, October 6th, 1885, of a tumor, Mrs. Clara E. Wilhelm, in the thirty-third year of her age.
The deceased was the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F. W. John, of Gillett, in this county and was born in the city of Milwaukee, from which city she moved with her parents to this county when she was a mere child and which was her home until her marriage to him who now morns her departure from home circle in the town of Hartland, Shawano County. She had been a great sufferer from the tumor which caused her death for many months, and was brought to this city the Thursday proceeding her demise for the purpose of having the tumor removed, but sank so rapidly no operation could be performed, and death came to her relief. Her remains were taken to the home of her parents at Gillett, Monday, and the funeral services held at that place Tuesday afternoon, being largely attended by the friends of her childhood and matured years.
She was a most excellent woman, and in her death, her husband loses the help of a devoted wife, her three children the care and training of an affectionate mother, her parents the society of a dutiful daughter, and her brothers and sisters the encouragement and advice of an older sister. All have the sympathy of their neighbors and friends in their great bereavement.
Clara’s parents William and Johanna, took care of the children after Clara died and in the letter below you can see that a little over a year later they are looking for homes for at least Arthur. (Although they might have written letters to other family, or family friends, looking for homes for Chester and Truman also. If they did, we have no record of those letters.) As William and Johanna were in their early fifties at this time, it was possibly quite a stressful task taking care of these young three boys.
Gillett May 9, 1887 Friend Lorig, If this letter will reach you in good health we will be very grateful. As far as we are concerned everyone is fine. I have taken care of everything here as far as the children are concerned and what remains to be done is for you to go to the County Judge in Milwaukee and submit a petition for the child and everything will take care if itself. Legal guardian F. W. John the child’s name Alfred Wilhelm born on November 4, 1884. We do not know where the father of the children now resides. Since their mother died the children have not seen him. The mother died October 4 1885. The children are all in my care in the Town of Gillett in Oconto County. I am telling you that so you might be able to answer questions they might put to you. Greeting from all of us to all who ask how we are and write when everything is taken care of. Your friend F. W. John
Gillett June 1, 1887 Friend William, I want to let you know that we are all well here, we also feel better because we have had some rain in the last few days, it was quite dry and nothing would grow, and it did not look to well for us. Now it is better. We had a great forest fire and thousand of acres burned up. I also want to know if P. Lorek received my letter and if he saw the County Judge to give him the application I would like the little poor one get a good place, because at Alfred’s are two kinds of children and you must know how that goes. In the hope that this letter will reach you in good health I remain your good friend F. W. John and Johnna John.
Greetings to all and please answer soon.
Gillett June 7, 1887 Friend Lorek [ing?] Received your letter today and saw that you all are happy and well which makes us very glad, we also are thank God well and the food tastes good to us. Dear friend, the petitions is nothing else but a declaration that you consider the child your own (adopt it?) and that it is recognized by the court as your own and later can demand inheritance rights. I know the child is in good hands at your house, because my wife told me about you and William Donsing I know myself and trust in his children. If you want the child you can get it for some time. All you have to do is decide if you want to get it or if we should bring it. If you want to come we would be delighted. Write as soon as possible and let me know if you are coming or if I should bring the child. Greetings and we remain your friends. F.W. John [P.S.] If I come we will write the letter there and if not we will do it here.
Gillett December 19, 1887 Friend Lorig, I should have written a long time ago but I put it off. When Mrs. Gale came from Milwaukee she told us that you wanted to come for a visit and so I didn’t write, because we really thought that you would come Thanksgiving. But we waited in vain. We are happy to hear that mother father and son are well and we wish you much happiness and health for the future. I believe that you will get a visit from here at Christmas. Your friend F.W. John
Gillett March 21, 1888 Friend Lorig, We received your letter from March 9th and see that you are all well. We were happy to hear from you. As far as we are concerned we are all well and have a good appetite. We had a hard winter, three feet of snow still on the ground and the people are still in the bush. Alfred is still there also and Wille who has my team. As far as the instrument for the potato bags I cannot tell you anything, the man who had it moved to Iowa we were happy about the pictures and I hope that the little [one] remains well and gives you joy. I heard last week that his father froze to death last winter in Dakota. Everything is fine here otherwise and greet our friends from us. I remain your friend F. W. J.
As indicated in the last letter the Wilhelm boys’ father died in a blizzard in the Dakotas after having disappeared on them, I can only imagine the horrible feeling of knowing your father had abandoned you after having lost your mother.
Truman had been put in guardianship to his John grandparents in 1880:
His father had died in 1878 and his mother was married to her second husband at the time, maybe his stepfather didn’t want him around? I think that the eldest William boy, Chester, was adopted by William relatives. Truman Howell and Chester William both moved to Washington state, eventually marrying and having children. Arthur (Wilhelm) Lorig was adopted and raised by the Lorig family, and stayed in Wisconsin, and it is this man whom my John cousin descends from.
A big thank you to my cousin for sharing these letters with our family. Not only are they written in beautiful handwriting, but they show a tragic story in real time as grandparents try to find good homes for their grandchildren, after losing their own child to cancer.
Now I want to see the letters William was writing home to Johanna while he was off fighting in the civil war. I am sure someone in the family has them. They are no doubt sitting in a closet getting musty. Come on folks, share!
Gertrude Cain, daughter of John Cain and Carrie Rosa, was born the 9th of August 1877 in Oconto, Oconto County, Wisconsin1. She is my great grandmother.
Her ancestors were all Irish on her father’s side, and a mix of German, Dutch, Scottish, and English (with a royal gateway ancestor thrown in) on her mother’s side.
Gertrude grew up in a large Catholic family of 8 children in Oconto. Her mother had actually had 10 children, according to census2 records, but her eldest sister Elizabeth died when Gert was 13 years old3, and her mother had another child that never showed up in census records.
I can speculate on her upbringing, as I will for most of my ancestors, but certain things will most likely be true. This we do know, Gertrude’s father was a hard working Irish Catholic man who had partially been raised by his grandparents. I am doubtful that he had much of a hand in the bringing up of his own children, but then that would be in line with the times. Carrie, her mother, was definitely Catholic and it is possible she became Catholic because of her husband (Carrie’s parents were Methodist). Gertrude did not practice catholicism when she left home. In fact this gossip bit appeared in the local paper on 1901:
September 26, 1901 c3 — Mrs. V. H. Johns visited relatives and friends in Gillett this week [also donated $1 to German Lutheran church building committee]
Northern Wisconsin Advertiser, Wabeno, WI (Madison, WHS micro PH 73-1888)
Gertrude went to school until the 8th grade and then she was done, (this we know because of an entry in the 19404 census which asks what the highest grade was that they had completed.) As her mother had all those kids to raise and she was now the eldest, Gertrude most likely had quite a hand in helping out around the house, and keeping everything in order. Getting a higher education was not on her agenda, and it doesn’t appear that her parents encouraged her to pursue any further education either. The family did not live on a farm, her father worked for the lumber mill as a pile driver on the river. She grew up a ‘City’ girl in what they called “French Town” in Oconto. (Land and census records appear to place their abode at 301 Smith Avenue by 1888, earlier her parents lived a few blocks further down the road on Smith, where there is now a gas station.)
Gertrude lived in this house until she was 20, at which time she had her own house to keep.
On Saturday August 28 1897 Gertrude tied the knot in a romantic wedding on a train. The groom was a local man, and the youngest son of an Oconto and Gillett pioneer couple. His name was Victor Hugo John. Gert had just turned 20 that month, Victor was a mere 5 years older.
Vic and Gert made their first home in Wabeno, Wisconsin where Vic had a job as a station agent for the C&NWR railroad.5 Today the trip from Oconto to Wabeno takes about an hour and a half. In 1897 it would have taken a bit longer. But at least you could take the trip by train because in 1897 the C&NWR railroad had opened up their new tracks and Wabeno was a new and bustling…well…new town created by the logging business.
They actually lived in the Town of Cavour7 for the first couple of years that Vic worked at the depot, which is just north of Wabeno. By 19058 they were living in Wabeno, according to the state census. The town newspaper always seemed to indicate that they were of Wabeno, when ever they were mentioned in the news (Cavour is never mentioned).
As a newly established town there were not many people living in the area, so I can see why Gert was always going to visit her family in Oconto, or her in-laws in Gillett. According to newspaper gossip every other week was a trip to visit family. Something she did even more in the fall of 1898, as she was pregnant with her first child, my grandfather.
Here’s the local gossip on the matter:
September 29, 1898 c5 — Mrs. V. H. Johns is visiting her parents at Oconto.
October 6, 1898 c4 — Station Agent Johns looks lonesome since his wife went visiting.
October 20, 1898 c4 — Station Agent Johns went to Oconto Tuesday evening to see his wife who is visiting with her parents at that place, returning on the special the following morning.
November 3, 1898 c4 — Born—To Mr. and Mrs. Victor Johns, on Saturday last a 9 1/2 lb. Bouncing baby boy, mother and child getting along nicely. Vic feels himself to be the happiest man in town.
November 17, 1898 c4 — Mrs. V. H. Johns and little son arrived home yesterday after an extended visit with her parents at Oconto.
On October 29 1898 Gertrude safely delivered a baby boy9. They named him Clarence Fredrick John (Fredrick was in honor of Victor’s father). They eventually had a total of 3 boys, adding Lincoln William in 1901, and Victor Hugo, jr. in 1903.
Over the next 8-10 years Gert occupied her time by visiting her family, or someone in the family visited with them. She joined the Ladies of the Macabees (an insurance organization for women created in 1892 by Bina West Miller).
March 27, 1902 c3 — Mrs. V. H. Johns was at Gillett the first of the week to join the Ladies of the Macabees[sp].
Helped out at the depot when Vic was too ill, kept the home and raised the boys.
The family continued in this vein until their first big adventure, which came for Gert, and the family, in May of 1908. It was a few weeks after Vic’s mother died that Gert packed up their family and all their belongings, for a big move out west to Wyoming.
It was a grand adventure — that was short lived. Less than a year later Gert was packing up their belongings again, as the family was heading back to Wisconsin, to stay. It was rumored by an older cousin that Gert was extremely homesick and wanted very much to come back to her family and friends.
While the first 11 or so years of their marriage the family had made their home in the area of Wabeno, and Victor supported the family as a railroad station agent, this changed when they got back to Wisconsin. Victor spent the next 4 or so years moving his wife and family around the state. Maybe it was a reflection of his own restlessness. According to the papers they were of: Clintonville in Jul of 1909, Odanah in Sep of 1909, Hackley in May of 1910, and Friendship in Jul of 1912.
Then another big change happened.
Victor quit his job as a station agent completely and went into banking. Maybe this is what he wanted all along, and he had been working his way to it. His first bank brought the family back to Wabeno in 1913, it was the Leona State Bank, where he was the cashier. And over the years he helped establish several banks across the state.
In 1916 they were living in Crandon while he worked for the Citizens State Bank of Crandon.
In 1919, just to be contrary, he ran for Sheriff, and won. What a boon for Gert, now she got to prepare meals for all the prisoners, along with take care of her own dwelling and family.
Vic served two terms as Sheriff of Forest County, after which he continued establishing and working in banks. On to Laona in 1922-1925. Gillett by 1926-1933. Wabeno by 1933-1947. These dates that I am using are very approximate, because I am using newspaper gossip to try and estimate their moves. It looks like it was sometime after 1947 that Vic and Gert finally settled down to retire. The place they picked was Gillett, Vic’s hometown. They were both now in their 60s.
Gert’s retirement years were spent attending Order of the Eastern Star meetings, playing bridge, visiting friends and relatives, and celebrating.
50th Wedding — Mr. and Mrs. Vic John of Oconto, formerly of Crandon and Wabeno, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at Crandon last Thursday. They were married Aug., 28, 1897, in a railway coach, south of Wabeno, just within Oconto county, as there was no justice of the peace in Wabeno at the time. The nearest justice was in Oconto county.10
Gert had become a grandmother in 1921. Her eldest son Clarence had run off to Illinois to marry Ester Edwards, (so it is possible he has gotten her pregnant). They had a girl whom they named Gertrude Marie. This marriage didn’t last though, but Ester and her daughter stayed around the White Lake area and visited with Gert and Vic on occasion. (We know this because of newspaper gossip, boy that stuff comes in handy.)
Her other two sons never had any children, although Lincoln did marry in 1930 out in Wyoming. Clarence married for his second wife Myrtle Caroline Hamm, my grandmother. Together they had 3 children that lived to adulthood. So Gert had a total of 4 grandchildren to enjoy in her later years.
The stories I have heard about Gertrude were that she was very petite and full of fun. She liked to dress up for Halloween and go trick-or-treating with the kids, having a great time fooling the neighbors, as an adult. She enjoyed hunting and fishing, as did her husband and their friends. And while she might have had an adventurous spirit, she preferred to be around family to feel comfortable indulging in it.
A 2nd cousin told me that his cousins didn’t like having meals at her house because she told them if they didn’t finish, it would be there for the next one. Now I know where my dad got that little bit of wisdom.
Gertrude passed away in 1962 at the age of 84, six years after her husband.
Final Rites for Mrs. John Today
Mrs. Gertrude John, former Ocontoan, died suddenly Saturday evening at Baraboo.
Mrs. John was born in Oconto, the daughter of the late John and Carrie Cain. She was united in marriage to Victor John in 1887, in Carter, WI. He passed away in 1956. Mrs. John lived in Gillett the past nine years. She was a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Gillett, and its Past Matron’s club; a past matron of the Grandon chapter, a member of the Gillett Methodist church and the women’s Society of Christian Service of the Methodist church.
Survivors include two sons, L. W. John, Fresno and Victor John Jr. Saratoga, both of California; three brothers, Milton Cain, Oconto; William, Portland, Oregon; Harry, Milwaukee; a sister, Mrs. Frank (Mildred) Rouseau of Milwaukee; four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. A son Clarence died in 1954.
Final rites will be held this afternoon at 2 o’clock in the Gillett Methodist Church. The Rev. C. V. Dawson will officiate, with burial in Wanderer’s Rest cemetery. The Order of the Eastern Star, Gillett, will conduct services at the church. The Kuehl funeral home is in charge of arrangements.
Both Gert and Vic are buried in the Wanderer’s Rest Cemetery in Gillett, Wisconsin, along with the rest of the John family. Her parents are buried in Oconto’s Catholic cemetery.
——————– Sources: 1. Gertrude Cain, certificate of birth record page 37, Oconto County Register of Deeds, Oconto, Wisconsin.
2. 1900 Federal Census Oconto City, Oconto County, Wisconsin: Clara C., wife, white, female, Apr., 1858, 42, Married 26yrs., 10 children, 8 living, born: Mich, father: Mich, mother: Mich., read, write, speak english.
3. Oconto County Reporter, March 4, 1892 — Lizzie, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Cain, died Thursday, Feb. 25, 1892, aged about 15 years.
The deceased had some time previous to her death eaten prune stones which lodged in her intestines and necessitated a surgical operation, which, however, proved unavailing, and after more than a week of suffering death ensued. Her burial took place Saturday from St Peter’s Roman Catholic church.
4. 1940 census, Crandon City, Forest County, Wisconsin details — Sheet No. 23 B, SD 8, ED 21-8, May 1, 1940 lines 73-74, household no. 60, rent, don’t live on a farm: John Gertrude, wife, female, white, 62, married, did not attend school or college, highest grade completed 8, born Wisconsin, 1935 lived in rural area in Forest County, Wisconsin.
5. Northern Wisconsin Advertiser, Wabeno, WI (Madison WHS micro PH 73-1888) — NOTE: Victor John is listed as station agent of the C &N.W.R. and postmaster in the earliest issue on the microfilm 9-22-1898.
–Coincidentally Victor’s birthday is the 13th of this month, so I guess you could say in honor of his birthday…–
It was May 11 (or 18)* of 1908, a day filled with excitement tinged with a bit of sadness for the family of Gertrude and Victor John. Sadness, because just over a week or so ago they had said good bye to the matriarch of the John family. Johanna (Dedrich) John, Victor’s mother had died on April 30th and the funeral had been on May 3rd. But there was great excitement too, especially for their boys Clarence, Lincoln and Victor, junior, because they were taking a trip to the great unknown. The Wild West! Wyoming.
The Wyoming and North Western Railroad (aka Chicago & North Western) had finished a new line from Casper to Lander in 1906, part of what was known as the “Cowboy Line”, and Vic was going to be a station agent there. This expansion was part of C&NW’s plan to build a line all the way to the Pacific coast. (Spoiler alert: the railroad company ran out of money, so never achieved that dream.)
In 1906, the government announced that 2,285 square miles of Shoshone reservation would be open to settlement. At the time, there was railroad service from the eastern border of Wyoming to Casper. The Chicago and North Western Railroad (then Wyoming and North Western Railroad) extended the tracks from Casper to Lander to transport the settlers and their belongings to the land, located north and west of Lander.1
V. H. JOHN TO LEAVE Station agent V. H. John has resigned his position and will leave Monday with his family for Casper, Wyoming to accept a position as cashier [station agent] for the Wyoming & North-Western Ry.
LOCAL AND PERSONAL–Mr. and Mrs. V. H. John and children left Wednesday [13th] for Gillett where they will visit a few days before leaving for their new home at Lander, Wyoming, where Mr. John will enter on a more lucrative position with the Wyoming & North-Western Ry. Mr. and Mrs. John were among the pioneers of Wabeno, Vic having been station agent here for nearly eleven years, ever since the road was built. He was also postmaster up to January 1, 1906. They have a host of friends here who sincerely regret their departure.
May 7, 1908, page 1, col. 6–; May 14, 1908, page 1, col. 5 [Thursday]
Shortly before they left they sold some Wabeno property:
Real Estate Transfers. V. H. Johns to John Bigglin, part of block, village of Wabeno. Consideration $100.
Forest Echo, Crandon, Wisconsin —Crandon Public library digital images Friday, May 22 1908 p8c5; v2no39
I don’t know exactly how long the trip took, but I am guessing that they took the route to Chicago and then headed west from there. (The two places with a red dot next to them on the map are Casper and Lander.) Using the estimate of about 25 miles per hour, and approximately 1530 miles all told, they were looking at 3-4 days travel by train to their new home.
For the boys this would have been a grand adventure. They had never been anywhere more exotic than Oconto, or up north in the scary, largely unsettled woods of northern Wisconsin. Which could, in and of itself, be a grand adventure in those days. But now they were going west, the place of dime-novel adventure stories.
Their father, Victor, had been places. In fact he went to telegraph school in Valparaiso, Indiana for a couple of years. So he was not unfamiliar with Chicago and Milwaukee, or other similar big cities. But for the rest of the family this was all pretty new. Gertrude, does not appear to have traveled much further from home than the north woods either, at this point in time.
They arrived in Wyoming in the latter part of May. From newspaper articles in the Wyoming papers it looks like he was a station agent at Arapahoe, and not Lander. Maybe he had started at Lander, and then shifted to Arapahoe. (Arapahoe was actually part of the Reservation.)
I am very curious to know what they thought when they arrived at their new home. Looking at Arapahoe using current satellite maps, it looks like maybe 100 people live there, (although the 2000 census indicated close to 1800). What was it like in 1908? If it was as desolate of humans as it appears now, I don’t wonder that the family would have been quite happy to move, about 5 months later, to Casper.
The local newspaper tells us that one way the family enjoyed their new home was by bringing their love of the outdoors and hunting from Wisconsin. The articles also tell us when the family moved to Casper. A helpful bit of information we would never have otherwise been aware of.
V. H. Johns and wife of Arapahoe, and eastern friends [possibly the Howell family] left for home Saturday morning after spending several days in this locality fishing and hunting and taking in the fine scenery in this section. Mr. Johns has been transferred to Casper, where he is now the agent.
One can get a sense of how popular the John family was back in Wisconsin by looking in the Wabeno newspapers:
LOCAL AND PERSONAL The following items from Wyoming papers regarding Mr. and Mrs. V. H. John, former residents of Wabeno, will be of interest to our readers:
W. H. Howell and wife Lovington, Ills., who have been visiting with Mr. and Mrs. V. H. John returned home Wednesday.
J. H. Howe, who has been station agent at this point for several months, left the first of the week … V. H. John, who has been agent at Arapahoe, takes his place in the depot here.—Casper, Wyo., Tribune.
Best display in Class 19, first, Mrs. V. H. John, Arapahoe…Special prize, Best Double Collection, Mrs. V. H. John, Arapahoe. (Display was fancy work at the Fremont County Fair, Wyo.)
October 29, 1908, page 1, col. 6
In October they started selling off some household items. This might have been to lessen the load for the move to Casper. Or, was the thrill of being in the Wild West starting to fade?
If you want some cheap second hand household goods see V. H. John at the depot.
And in November they tried to sell even more goods. This looks serious!
For Sale 1 bed room set 1 book case 1 large leather rocker Dishes and two carpets Enquire at the depot of V. H. Johns [Casper, WY]
November 11, 1908, page 5, col. 5 Natrona County Tribune
By the 21st of December, a mere 7 months after their grand adventure started, the John family was back in Wisconsin. To stay.
V. H. John and family of Casper, Wyoming, are visiting Mrs. John’s mother, Mrs. John Cain, and calling on old friends in the city.
LOCAL AND PERSONAL Mr. and Mrs. V. H John and children arrived at Gillett Monday from Casper, Wyo.
ADDITIONAL ITEMS Mr. and Mrs. V. H. John were in town a few hours yesterday visiting friends. They recently returned from Casper, Wyo. and are making Gillett their home for the present.
Oconto County Reporters, Wisconsin —ocnews.co.conto,wi.us digital images Thursday, Dec 21, 1908 v38 issue 9, p7c2; December 24, 1908, page 1, col. 3; January 7, 1909, page 2, col. 2
Family tradition says that Gertrude was missing her family, friends and life in Wisconsin too much to want to stay in Wyoming anymore. So Victor quit his job and they packed back up and left for good. We don’t actually know why they moved back. Gertrude’s unhappiness might have been the catalyst, or it could have been something else altogether. The town of Casper had been trying to clean up its image to attract a more respectable residential population. But maybe there was still too much unlawfulness, drinking, and prostitution in full view of the kids. I guess it will forever be a mystery.
By 1910 Victor and the family were living in Hackley, Vilas County, Wisconsin where he was again working as a station agent. Six years later he started his new career in banking.
Both Clarence and his brother Lincoln must have retained good memories of their time out West because years later, as adults, they returned to Casper. Lincoln lived there in 1918, and then, after a couple of years break, was back by the 1920s-’30s. He was living in Casper and working as a fireman on the railroad line. Clarence went out to visit him in the ’20s, and he might have done some work on the oil rigs when he was there.
The short time that they had spent in Wyoming as boys had left enough of an impression that they had to return. At least for a little while.**
*It is difficult to tell from the newspaper articles exactly what day they left, it appears to have definitely been on a Monday, so, it was either the 11th or the 18th of May. **I do not know if their brother Vic, jr. ever went back.
Visit the two following links to see lots of images from Lander and Casper, in the general time period that the John family was there. Both have more than one page of pictures to look at, along with town histories. I could find nothing on Arapahoe. http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/lander.html
So, I was able to scan some negatives from the family archives this month, and fortuitously they included some cool images from Yule time in Florida, I believe it is 1970. We were living in government housing in Orlando, right by McCoy AFB, which is now Orlando International Airport. The house we were living in is now 3123 Sagamore St. (Although it didn’t look like this when we lived there.)
My Dad’s sister and her family came down from Wisconsin to spend the holiday with us. Sometime during their visit we headed over to NASA to check out the gadgetry. (Check those pics out on my Flickr site.)
I even remember that ‘Spell It’ game!
Our Siamese cat Pyewacket can be admired in one of the pictures. She lost part of her tail in our kitchen screen door, although you can’t see that in the image. You had to be fast going through the door, that sucker really closed with a wack! Sadly, we had to leave her in the States when we headed overseas the next year. Although I believe that getting our collie might also have had some influence on her continued occupancy in the house. I’m afraid I don’t remember the details.
Anyway, have a great holiday season folks. See you next year in the inter-webs.
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]