Dear Dick & Dad:- Just a line to let you know we’re O.K. We took Burch up to the lake with us Sat. and Ruth and he are staying for the week. I’m batching [as in being a bachelor]. We are having a large window put in the north side of the living room at the cottage, taking out the two small one’s and having aluminum siding put on over that old paint job. We thought Burch would be able to help the carpenter a little besides giving him a change of scenery for awhile. We are only going to put the siding on the one side this year hope to finish the job next year. Ruth bought drapery material and took her sewing machine along so she could make the drapes while she was there. Burch is feeling O.K. but says time passes slow. He said staying at the lake brought back memories to him of the time they lived at Baltimore. Believe it or not Ruth got him in shorts.
[page 2] I received a letter from Lois today, says they are living in a tourist cottage for the time being and that the kids really enjoy the water. Ken went back to Chicago on the 14th and Bill was away in New York State some where. She also said their things from Germany had not arrived yet.
Have you heard anything lately from Rena? I just called Elise to see if she wanted me to write you anything and she said she had a wonderful letter from you and that she tried to answer it, but the words just wouldn’t come. She will try again later and said she and Kate are going to come up as soon as she gets a few detail ironed out. I suppose legal details in regards to his death.
How is the building project coming along and where are you building it? I’m about out of news so will close for now. Love H.O.
P.S. I’ll try to mail you Eastern Star material so be on the look out.
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.
Just a line to let you know we are OK, only getting good and tired of this winter weather. I’m glad you folks don’t have to endure it as we do. If my summary serves me correctly I believe we’ve only had about 5 days above freezing since the first of December. Day before yesterday the temperature got up to a screaming 33º. I thought I was going to have sun stroke. It has really been miserable working at the shop this winter all the snow and ice has made is so wet and sloppy in the shop, it seems like we get a new coat of about 2 or 3 inches of snow a couple of times a week just enough to keep it messy all the time. According to the paper we’ve had 23 inches so far this winter. It even snowing now with 3 to 5 inches predicted.
[page 2] The shop is hard to heat and keep warm one day we weren’t able to get it over 42º in the shop. I have been wearing so many clothes I can’t hardly walk. And just one more grip and that is a lot of these drivers can’t get their cars started on the cold morning so we get blamed for all their troubles. “Enough bitchin'”. We mailed Kens Christmas packages to him on January 23rd so far we haven’t heard if he received them or not.
We got a letter form Bill today saying he was in the States, had been in Washington and Boston, was on his way to Colorado Springs and then back to Chicago. I suppose to see Ken for a day, he also expects to spend a day here either the 5th-6th or 8th of Feb. If he gets here we will call you so you can have
[page 3] a chance to exchange a few words ad hear his voice. We are really thrilled and looking forward to seeing him, it is a surprise to us and I know it will be to you. So we’ll just sit close to the phone waiting his call.
Did Ed Shepard get down there yet. Dick Rodenfels is leaving Sunday for Miami. We would just love to come down believe me.
Burch is O.K. he says I haven’t seem him as we haven’t had him up since Christmas. The weathers been so bad we just don’t go
[page 4] out unless it’s necessary.
Ruth just got in from her Rebecca meeting and said they about froze to death down there tonite I guess the heater isn’t large enough or sumpin. Ruth took an extra sweater but couldn’t keep her feet warm. Well here I go on this stinkin’ weather again so guess I’ll close shop for now.
Love H. O.
P.S. Send me the recipe for making Pawnhouse. I still got the pigs feet and don’t know what to do with them.
MyHeritage does it again! They recently revealed a new feature on their website introduced as ‘Enhance’. This is in addition to the ‘Colorize’ photo option they provide to their subscribers last fall. You can certainly use Photoshop, or similar software, to try the same thing on your images at home, but that would mean using a lot of filters, and adjustments, and layers, and time, and expertise most of us just don’t have. And who knows if you would even get the same results. So why bother.
Meet my 3x great grandmother Janett/Jennie, 2x great grandmother Carrie, and 2x great Aunt Ida Rosa, again. (Image taken about 1870 to early ’70s).
Being able to colorize is pretty cool. But I have to say, when I enhanced this original scan that I had made from the old photo that my cousin Robert Cain lent me of my ancestresses, tears came to my eyes. There they are right in front of me, real people that I can just reach out and touch, where before they were just poor images on a screen. These enhanced versions of their images have so much more of an impact than the original images did.
Here are some more excellent examples.
The Shaw Boys. Hon. John Shaw at the top, my 3x great grandfather with his brothers in the group image.
Hartley Shepard. Unnoticed before, it appears that Hartley possibly had a scar on his right eye, that even looks to have affected the nerves in his face, the lips on that same side look like they are drooping down a bit.
2x great grandmother Jane (Buchanan) Shepard.
2x great grandfather Frederick William John in his Civil War Union uniform.
This is one of my favorites from the Shaw side.
All I have to say is WOW and well done MyHeritage! I am greatly impressed and touched that you have helped my ancestors feel so much more real and vibrant to me. I am going to be spending lots of time ‘Enhancing’ so many images in the next few weeks.
Just a note this morning while I’m finishing my breakfast. Ed Sheppard has been down for a couple of days, went home yesterday. He is looking real good and has gained some weight. Says he will be going down to your place some time between now and the first of the month. He and Ruth went down to see Burch while he was here. Burch is O.K. and doing fine. We have gotten rid of some of
[page 2] our snow. The temperature has been up in the forties the last couple of days. Hope we don’t get anymore SNOW
I got some pigs feet down in our freezer, send me the recipe for making P.H. how do you spell it. (Ha Ha).
We are both O.K. and hope you are the same –Time to go too work. Love H.O.
We have a new puppy whom we have named Caesar. He has been in our family for three whole months now. And things have finally started to calm down around the house. “Breaking in new parents is hard work,” he keeps telling me.
We picked him up from the shelter about 2 weeks before everything officially went to hell in the world (the first time). He has actually been a great distraction while being stuck at home these last 4 months–and counting.
The previous owner said he was a Jack Russell. He doesn’t look like a Jack Russell to me, or my old man, or anyone else I mention it to.
So, because I am all into DNA testing and genealogy, I decided that Caesar is going to have his own ancestral tree to look back on, and ordered a DNA testing kit from Embark a few weeks ago (they received good reviews). The results of this test will give us his breed mix, and for a little extra money, information on his genetic health (they were having a sale I couldn’t resist).
The kit arrived in the mail yesterday. Today we are mailing out the swab. I can’t wait to hear the results. Don’t worry I will share.
Well, maybe not acquaintances. After all my 3x great grandparents haven’t actually ever met me. But it was the thought that counts. Right?
We had beautiful weather on Saturday this last weekend, so the old man and I decided to take a short trip to Chilton, Wisconsin and visit Dennis and Winifred Connelly’s burial place at St. Augustine’s Cemetery. And as long as we were there we would have a picnic.
It was also our new puppy Caesar’s first trip away from home. He did pretty well, just one tummy upset. Thankfully he hadn’t eaten much breakfast.
This is the first time we have actually been out and about since March. I chose a place where no one would think to be on this lovely day, and I was right. Although, we did have a small scare-apparently the groundskeepers decided that it was a good day to mow and weed wack the cemetery. Lucky for us they were just finishing up when we got there. We even fixed some of the grave decorations that they had mowed into and broken or mangled. Very careless of them.
With all the goings on in the world right now it felt good to have a chance to take a deep and cleansing breath.
Lunch was good, the weather was good, the company was good. I guess you could say it was a good day.
Dear Dick & Dad:- Just a note to thank you for our presents. I just wore out a pair of P.J.s so now I’m even again. If the weather gets any colder here I’m going to start wearing 2 pairs at a time just to keep warm. Ruth was glad to get the sheets as that is something we can always use. We want to thank you for them. We didn’t spend a lot for each other this year as there wasn’t anything that we wanted at this time. we were glad to get useful items which we both need and can use. Bill sent me a musical toilet paper dispense which I got a big kick out of. When yo pull the paper down it play a short skit of “Moulin Rouge” its real nice and I know you guys will get a kick out of it. (Just what we needed-Ha! Ha!@) [in his wife Ruth’s handwriting]
Ruths mother is getting along pretty good now, she is able to get up and around to do her own cooking etc. She was real sick just before Christmas and had us all worried. We didn’t have the gang for dinner on Christmas just Burch and our selves.
[page 2] Ruth cooked a small turkey with all the usal trimings and we enjoyed a nice day at home. We took Burch back down to his place about mid afternoon noon and then went on out to Gahanna for the rest of the day. Burch was real pleased with his presents he got socks, underware from Parkersburg, four cartoons of cigarettes and $19.00 in cash money Rodenfels sent him $10.00 which I thought was real nice of them. We were going to bring Burch up for the New Years week end but the weather was so “stinkin” that we didn’t go out at all. He called on the phone and we told him we would make it some other week end, besides he had all the football games and the Rose Parade to watch which is probably what he would have done if he were here. I spent New Years Eve overhauling Ruths clothes dryer “the heater element burned out” and I also installed a new garbage disposal unit in the
[page 3] sink, both units went out the Chirstmas weekend. (Wouldn’t you know?) [in his wife Ruth’s handwriting]
Ruth is out this evening, they are having their “Rebecca Installation tonight” She’s being installed in an office but I don’t know just what it is. She’s been doing a lot in Jobs Daughters latley and seems to like it real well.
I got through my “Past Masters” degree without to many “goofs” so from now on I can take it a little easier. Our inspection in Royal Archie is Jan. 26, but I’m not worrying about that to much as I’ve had the part of K.S. for 2 years now, just need to brush up a little for this one. And for the first time in a couple of years I can think about doing a few things I would like to do for just me. Maybe a few pictures, who knows?
[page 4] I just have 6 grape fruit left. So maybe you better send us another basket when you get around to it. The ones off your tree were really good, much larger and oh so good. I gave Lucile one, just one. I’m inclosing a check to pay for the ones you sent for Acia Putman and you can apply the balance on what you’ve sent is. I know it don’t cover the total cost but it will help.
We still have all Kens presents here, I suppose he will want us to send them on to Chicago as I don’t imagine he’ll be able to get down for the until Easter. (He said not to send them till he writes for them) [in Ruth’s handwriting down side of page]
Well I’ve said about all I can think of, maybe Ruth will want to dash off a few words when she comes in so I’ll leave here a little space.
Love H.O. & R.S.
[in Ruth’s handwriting at bottom of page] I just got home from installation. I am doing the same office I had last year as are several others. Our new noble Grand is real sweet. We should have a nice year. Thanks for the sheets and pjs-and also the candies. We are going light on sweets for awhile, so I won’t open them till a little later. I know how good they are & I would be eating too much. We’ve been having to many cookies at receptions, fruit cake & etc here. So I’ve got to coast a while. Herman covered the news for now, so I’ll writing later. Please send more oranges they were so good. Love Ruth
In 1868 my 4x great uncle Henry Robinson averted tragedy by saving a small life:
Mr. Henry Robinson, of South Hero, has been in possession of a white robin. He was haying in his orchard, and it was frightened out of its nest in an apple tree and was captured. Its eyes were pink, and it was nearsighted. Of course it was an albino.—It became a great pet, and would sing the notes of the robin with peculiar sweetness.
Apparently the occasion of albino robins appears the most prevalent of all the bird species, with most being partially albino. But in this case because the poor little blighter had pink eyes he was fully albino, and would have most likely eventually gone blind. (You can find an interesting article about them at this website https://journeynorth.org/tm/robin/AlbinoRobins.html.)
In the wild Mr. Robin would have had a very short life. I hope he/she appreciated that Uncle Henry did a good thing.
Mrs. Herman O. Shepard 1012 Hartford Worthington, Ohio
Dear Egghead and Dad:
I know now why you call yourself Egghead, you dated your last letter November 8 and I know you’re not nuts, but it helps a lot ha ha. We will be looking forward to the fruit as I only have about four left. I’ve been eating a lot of them. I’ve had a nice little cold for the last few days and I think a lot of fruit juice is good for a cold. Ruth called Al Maddox today and told him if she wasn’t home for him to set the baskets in the kitchen, so they won’t freeze. It was snowing when we got up this morning and it’s still at it 7:30 PM about 6 inches on the ground now. I took the pictures out of our front living room window at 4:30 PM just to give you an idea how snow looks, look at the drift on the house across the street. It’s up even with their porch floor, our driveway is clean out to about the front of the house from there to the street it’s about 2 feet deep don’t know if I’ll be able to get it out in the morning or not. I borrowed the Polaroid camera from Steve to take a few shots to see if I would like to have one. From the results I don’t believe I’ll buy one they don’t seem to be good sharp pictures. The picture of the group although you won’t be able to tell one person from another was taken last night. Martha Star, Ruth and I had a party for our officers and their husbands. We held it at the Linworth Methodist Church. Ruth and Martha prepared all the food at our homes and then we took it over to the church and serve there. Of course I got in on the dishwashing as did Ken, Martha‘s husband. Ocea Patman and Martha’s mother did their share and as far as I know everything went off well. Our officers presented Martha with a solid brass tray about 14 to 15 inches in diameter and me a metal tray with mahogany finish trimmed with chrome I don’t know what I’ll use it for unless I get a job in a restaurant serving tables.
We haven’t heard anything from K.W. But are looking for him to be here for the holidays. I received a letter from Ben Hott (he is the one that moved to Bayshore Gardens) he says there is a lot of work around Sarasota doing home maintenance, painting and etc. Said the field was wide open, in other words a handyman or jack of all trades, he said he was going to look out for me, maybe he’s got something in that kind of work. What do you think? He said he made $95 one week doing that kind of work. I would have to have a truck, ladders, spray painting outfit, steam cleaner etc. or about $3000 to be fully equipped to handle most of the jobs that would be available. I’m going to write him for more details and information etc.
Have you got your Christmas shopping done? We haven’t even started or even bought our cards yet. Ruth has been busy with Job’s Daughters and this party we had last night, next week we have a regular meeting Wednesday night and installation of the 1961 officers next Saturday night. By the time we squeeze in the Christmas shopping and all those details it will probably be another nightmare for the next two weeks. This about winds me up for now so till next time, so long.