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.
The following newspaper clippings tell me the story of a court case that never really came to be. And, if it wasn’t for the local reporting on the matter, I never would have known about it at all. (From what I have seen it appears that Joseph Pinkerton might have been the go-to carpenter in Gillett.)
1878-1-26, Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 7, issue 13, page 3, col. 2: It is reported that Jos. Pinkerton has instituted proceedings against Wm. Johns of Gillett for slander, laying his damages at $8,000.
1878-11-02 Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 8, issue 1, page 3, col. 2: The slander libel suit pending between Joseph Pinkerton and F. W. Johns has been amicably settled, and dropped from the court calendar. It would be better if more law suits could be disposed of in the same way.
1878-11-16, Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 8, issue 3; page ? col 2: Court Proceedings. The following is a summary of the court business disposed of since our last report:
J. Pinkerton vs F. W. John, Settled
So it appears that hot tempers cooled and better natures prevailed. Good thing for William, otherwise that would have been an expensive bit of slander if he had lost the case.
In my research on my JOHN ancestors very little has been said about Johanna, which is not unusual, but certainly frustrating. Her being a woman automatically makes her of little interest when it comes to history, especially if she didn’t go out in the world and make a name for herself. But recent research in the Oconto newspapers, which are being thoroughly digitized, yielded this great story — told by F. W. of course:
ON THE SIDE.
F. W. John: Away back in the early days, Ernst Funke, Louis Pahl, O. W. Bloch, and William Klass used to come out to my place in the woods for a hunt. Upon one occasion we were shooting at a mark, for chickens, when Mr. Funke — who was the poorest shot in the crowd — asked if he would be allowed to furnish a substitute, which request was granted, when he placed his gun in the hands of my wife, and her unerring aim won him three chickens out of the lot.1
It is nice to know that Johanna was well known in the area for being a great shot, and was also well respected for it. She had probably honed this talent during the Civil War while F. W. was off fighting. Being the only parent around she had to be able to put food on the table for her and the children, Clara, Alfred, Henry and William (who ranged from about 10 to 4 years in age) and a fine job of it she did too. In fact, she was so good that she was able to provide meat for their neighbors too.
1 Friday, March 6, 1896; v25, issue 10; page ? col 4
This last Sunday (September 20) the Gillett Historical Society held a cemetery walk with members representing 5 different citizens of the city of Gillett that were buried in the Wanderer’s Rest Cemetery. My father, spouse and I decided to attend as two of the persons being represented were relatives of the John family. The weather co-operated by being sunny and relatively warm to the delight of all.
Our cousin, Ron Hinz, played the part of Calvin John, and did a fine job of it too. After the ‘speeches’ everyone met at the Gillett Historical Society for some snacks and talk.
The coolest part of the day was meeting folks who knew Cal or F. W. or of them and the cousin we met who was a descendant of F. W. and Johanna. I am looking forward to more contact in the future.
So if you missed the walk, I have uploaded to our YouTube site the two videos I took with my iPhone of F. W. John and Calvin John. The first 1-10 seconds are missing from each talk, operator error, Enjoy!
While perusing the newspapers of Oconto County, (by the way thanks for the heads up on this Ron), I came across an amusing little story regarding F.W. John I thought I would share:
When Postmaster Frederick William John of Gillett visited Oconto a few weeks ago he was greeted by a bunch of old residents gathered at the Beyer House with:
“Frederick William John, by J____s!”
Many who heard the expression were astonished, but those who were present and who had lived here when Mr. John was a young man knew the full meaning of the greeting.
Mr. John is one of the pioneers of Oconto county, and a great many years ago was prominent among the then young men of the vicinity. He scarcely failed to be drawn on the jury at every term of the circuit court, and one time, as usual, he was summoned to appear at the county seat as a juror. He entered the court room, dressed in the garb of a lumberman, wearing a red sash tied around his waist, which in those days was considered essential to the efficient vocation of a lumberjack. He was in his shirt sleeves and wore high boots, and being tall, broad shouldered and as straight as an arrow, he presented a find specimen of physical manhood. On entering the court room he took a seat at the rear, and soon Richard Hall, who was then clerk of the court, began calling the roll.
Soon the clerk called, “Bill John.”
There was no response. Again the clark called:
And again there was no response. For the third time the clerk called in a loud voice:
Still there was no response, and Judge Cotton, who at that time presided in this circuit, inquired of Clerk Hall whether Bill John was in the court room.
“Yes, your honor,” replied Mr. Hall, “there he sits in the rear of the hall–that big fellow wearing a red sash.”
“Is your name Bill John?’ thundered the judge, pointing straight at him with his finger.
“No, sir,” replied Mr. John indignantly, “my name is not Bill John. My name is Frederick William John, by J___s!”
“Well Mr. Frederick William John by J___s, you will take your seat in front with the rest of the jurors.” commanded the judge, suppressing a smile.
Some of the old residents were reminded of the incident when Mr. John entered the hotel.1
Now if only there were more stories about Johanna that were to be found.
1 The Lena Enterprise, volume1, issue 21, page 1 column 4, 1903-10-30.