Melanie's Genealogy Quest

My genealogy research journal. Current names I'm researching: Liden (Peterson), Bill, Kampfert, Donovan, Scheifelbien, Zoss, Gfeller, DeGrasse, Fagan, Zukausky(varied spelling)

Location: Illinois, United States

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Thomas Joseph Donovan

Week 12 of 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. This post is from the week of St. Patrick's Day so here's my most recent Irish immigrant ancestor, Thomas Joseph Donovan.

When Thomas Joseph Donovan was born on September 1, 1880 in Drimoleague, Cork, Ireland, his father, Daniel, was 39, and his mother, Mary Miller (or Millard), was 38. He was their 9th child but only 3 of his siblings were still living when he was born. We have not located a birth certificate but Thomas is listed as being baptized on September 7 1880 in the parish register in Drimoleague.
According to the 1900 United States Census the family immigrated in 1882. It was likely 1883 or 1884 as Thomas' younger brother, Jeremiah was born in Ireland in 1883.
In 1900 Thomas is living with his brother Patrick and his wife, and their children. Also living with them was Thomas' younger brother. They were at 4764 S. Shields in Chicago. Thomas' father had been killed by a freight train on the Rock Island line in September of 1885. Thomas' mother was alive at the time of the census (June 5), living with her daughter Minnie, but died in August of that year by suicide. In 1904 Jeremiah died at 21. Thomas' older brother Daniel died in 1905 at age 34.

Thomas and Margaret marriage license

In February 1906 Thomas and Margaret Curtin welcomed their first child, a daughter Bernice. Later that same month they were married at St. Cecilia Church in Chicago. In 1907 they welcomed another daughter, Marcella. In 1909 Thomas and Margaret had their first son, Daniel. They all appear in the 1910 census at 4749 S. Princeton, along with Margaret's mother Catherine.

In 1911 and 1913 2 more sons were born (Patrick and Thomas). In 1917 Thomas registered for the draft. This gives us a peek at his writing because the card is signed by him. It also gives his description.

WW I draft registration card
The 1920 census shows them living in a house at 7254 S. Morgan. Thomas was working as a drain layer. In May Thomas and Margaret's last child, Hazel, was born.
In 1930 they are still living on Morgan. Thomas is working as a drain layer. In 1933 Margaret's mother died. The only change in 1940 is that Thomas was employed as a street laborer as part of the WPA work program.
In 1942 Thomas had to register for the draft at age 59.

WW II draft card

The only picture I have of Thomas Donovan.

Thomas died at the age of 73 on May 8, 1954. He is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Evergreen Park, IL.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Kristina Elisabeth Svensdotter Liden

I'm officially a week behind due to a nasty cold visiting our house. This weeks ancestor fits more with the theme of a strong woman from Week 11.

Kristina Elisabeth Svensdotter was born on October 2, 1864 in Edåsa, Skaraborgs, Sweden Skaraborgs is now known as Vastra Gotalands. Her Parents were Sven Peter Gabrielsson, age 39 and Gustafva Johansdotter, age 37. Kristina was the 6th child. Her older siblings were Johan Alford (1853) Carl Gustaf (1855), August Wilhelm (1857), Per Herman (1859), and Mathilda Margareta (1862).

In 1866 Kristina was followed by a sister, Wilhelmina. Two more brothers followed, Otto Edvin (1869), brother Sanfrid Gerhard (1871). The Swedish Household Survey shows Kristina living with her parents and siblings at Edhem, Skaraborg, Sweden. Sometime before 1883 Johan Viktor Petersson Liden moved to the farm. Kristina married Johan on July 29, 1883. Their first son, Ludwig Leopold was born on August 8, 1883. Johan was already using the surname Liden as was Kristina and Ludwig.

The household survey starting in 1884 indicates they family farm was called Fralsegarden. Kristina's parents and her siblings Johan Alford, Wilhelmina, Otto Edvin, and Sanfrid Gerhard lived there as well as Kristina, Johan and Ludwig. On January 22, 1885 Kristina and Johan welcomed another son, Laurents Leonard Liden. Another son, Lage Lambert was born September 10, 1886.

In 1886, Kristina's brother Johan Alford immigrated to the United States. In 1887 Johan, Kristina, Laurents, and Lage left Sweden for the United States. Four year old Ludwig stayed behind with his grandparents. I have been unable to find out why Kristina and Johan left their young son behind in Sweden. I don't imagine it was an easy decision no matter the reason. Ludwig would not come to the U.S. until 1900. Johan, Kristina, Laurents, and Lage are listed on the passenger list of the ship Romeo leaving Goteborg, Sweden on April 15, 1887. Their destination was listed as Chicago, Illinois. This ship was a 40-50 hour trip to Hull, there was likely then a train ride to Liverpool, and then a steamship to the U.S.

In October of 1889 Kristina gave birth to daughter Laura. On April 25, 1894 Kristina and Johan's last child, Louis, was born. They first appear in the U.S. Census in 1900 at 1038 W. 70th St. in Chicago.

In 1906 Kristina returned to Sweden for about four months. She returned on the ship Carmania that arrived in New York on September 20, 1906. It appears she traveled alone.

This announcement appeared in the Suburban Economist on September 21, 1906.
The 1910 census shows Kristina and Johan at 744 W. 71st St. in Chicago. The census indicates they owned the house. In 1912 Kristina's father Sven passed away in Sweden when she was 48.
Seated is Kristina and Johan
Left to Right is Ludvig, Louis, Laura, Lawrence, Lage

At age 54 in 1918 Kristina and Johan lost their son Lage (he was 32). In 1920 Kristina and Johan are listed at 11144 S. Vincennes. The house is listed as being mortgaged. In 1930 they are listed at 6940 S. Morgan, Chicago, Illinois. They owned their home.

Swedish Newspaper featured Johan and Kristina for their 30th anniversary
In 1933 Kristina's brother August passed away. Kristina wrote the letter to her family in Sweden to share the sad news. But it gives us a glimpse of her writing.

Kristina's letter

Kristina died Mar 22, 1937 from pneumonia. She is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Worth, Illinois.
Johan wrote the letter to share the news with her family in Sweden.


Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Vernon Liden

This weeks prompt didn't particularly inspire me so I chose the only grandparent I haven't featured thus far. He's also the only one I have no memory of as he died when I was just 2 1/2.

Vernon J. Liden was born on July 30, 1917. He and his twin sister Virginia were the 5th and 6th children born to Laurence (AKA Laurentis) Leonard Liden and Mary Etta (DeGrasse) Liden. They had been preceded by a half sister Evelyn and 2 sisters, Olive and Ruth and 3 brothers, Victor, Lawrence, and Willard. All the boys had nicknames, Vernon was Dud, Victor was Bud, Lawrence was Tud, and Willard was Wid. Another brother, Lagie would follow in 1919 but he only lived a year, dying of pneumonia just days after his first birthday when Vernon was about 3. A sister, Rosemary was born in 1922. There is another birth record associated with this family, a girl born in 1922 named Franchion. As this is the same year Rose was born, I'm not sure of the validity of this listing. No other records mention this child.

Vernon first appears in the 1920 census at age 2 and 5 months. All the siblings mentioned above also appear (except Rosemary) Their father is listed as a prison guard at the county jail. I assume that is Cook County, as they lived in Chicago. The rented a home at 455 W. 80th Avenue.
an early photo of "the twins" Virginia and Vernon circa 1920

By 1930 the family had moved a short distance to 8662 S. Vincennes. Their father was then working as a Furniture mover for a Storage Company. At age 12 it is assumed that Vernon was still in school but the census does not indicate this. I have found no records of his education at this time.

The Liden Family circa 1930 - Vernon is on the far right.
  It's been told to me that the above picture was taken at an establishment owned by the O'Leary family. There's no indication anywhere that this is true. I do not have the original photograph to check for an inscription on the reverse.

1st Communion of  Virginia and Vernon
The date of Vernon's first communion is unknown. I estimate the picture above to be about 12-14 years of age, which would be around 1930-1932.

By 1940 the family had moved to 6613 S. Peoria. At age 23 Vernon was working as a machinist at a steel mill. The census indicates that he had completed 2 years of high school.

On May 12, 1941 Vernon Married Hazel Donovan. They were married at St. Leo the Great Parish in Chicago. Witnesses were Leo Sullivan and Lucille Duffy.

The U.S. entered WWII just months later. I have heard family stories that he was not drafted due to his job as a machinist. This does fit with the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 that was in effect until 1947. He would likely have been granted a II-B deferral "deferred in support of war production (War Industry Occupation)" or possibly III-B "because of dependents and employment in an occupation essential to the war effort."

Vernon and Hazel welcomed their 1st child, a daughter in 1942. She was followed by sons in 1944 and 1948. Vernon's mother passed away when he was 35 in 1953, she and his father were living in Missouri at that time. Vernon and Hazel welcomed their last child, another daughter in 1958. His father passed away later that same year while living in Harvard, Illinois. His brother Lawrence passed away in 1961.

Vernon died from a heart attack at age 56 on April 26 1974. He is buried next to his wife at St. Mary's Cemetery in Evergreen Park, Illinois.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Shirley Kampfert Bill

This week's theme was heirloom so I am revisiting my grandmother. I first wrote about her 5 years ago on the 30th anniversary of her passing. I chose to revisit her 2 items from her that are very much heirlooms. But more on those later.

Shirley Kampfert was born to Margaret (Schiefelbein) and Arthur Kampfert on January 23, 1927 in Chicago Illinois. She was the third of five children. All were girls, Mildred born in 1921 and Evelyn born in 1923. Violet followed Shirley in 1929 and Ethel in 1931. Shirley made her first appearance in the US census in 1930 at just over 3 when she lived in Chicago at 4318 S. Fairfield. They lived on the second floor of the house owned by Margaret's parents Elenore (Radekopf) and Robert Schiefelbein. Arthur's parents lived 2 houses down.
Shirley on right with her father

Ten years later a 13 year old Shirley and all of her family still lived on Fairfield. By then she was attending what was probably eighth grade at an unknown grade school. I do know that she went on to attend and graduate from Kelly High School and graduated in 1944 or 1945.

excerpts from Kelly High School yearbooks
She lived with her family on Fairfield until she married Louis Bill Jr. on May 19, 1951 at Peace Lutheran Church.
The Kampfert Ladies - LtoR Evelyn, Mildred, Ethel Margaret, Shirley, and Violet
this cedar chest belonged to Shirley. It dates from 1951 the same year she married Louis Bill. It was refinished in 2003 but kept the original hardware and interior sales sheet. The color is only slightly darker than it had been.
Shirley and Louis had five children. Shortly after the birth of their first child they moved to a house at 6225 S. Natchez where they lived the rest of their short lives.

This dresser set belonged to Shirley. It dates to 1956 - Louis and Shirley's 5th wedding anniversary. Wood is a traditional 5th anniversary gift. The dresser and chest of drawers were originally blonded and had gold hardware. They were refinished in 2003 to the state pictured. They are now in use by Shirley's great granddaughter, having passed from Shirley to one of her daughters, and then her granddaughter.

Shirley became a grandmother for the first time in 1971. She would be the grandmother of nine but only knew three of her grandchildren. She worked for some time at the Ben Franklin in the neighborhood and later as the church secretary at Messiah Lutheran Church on 62nd & Monitor also in Chicago. She always enjoyed easy listening music and often played it in the house. She also enjoyed sewing and was often found at her sewing machine making clothing for herself or a family member. Shirley was a loving person who I only wish I had known longer. She passed on April 11, 1983 at the age of 56.
in 1977 holding her 2nd grandchild

If you have any information or memories to add, please do so in the comments of this post.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Louis Bill Jr.

Louis Bill, Jr. Was born on November 17, 1924 in Benson, Woodford County, Illinois. Even in 2010 Benson only had 423 people so it was obviously a small village in 1924. He was the second of two children born to Louis Bill and Carrie Poppinga. His sister Geneva had been born February 29, 1920. Some of the family stories refer to him as Junie, short for junior.

Based on Zoss (cousins of the Bill family) family stories, the family moved to Chicago in 1927. Louis first appears in the census in 1930. They lived at 2214 W. 23rd Street in Chicago. They lived down the street in 1940 at 2224. Louis was 15 by then but I dont have a record of where he went to school.  I do know that they often went back to Woodford County to visit family that stayed in that area. Louis' father had many brothers and sisters that did not relocate to Chicago.

Louis as a child visiting family in Woodford County

Through family stories and some documents that I believe are in the possession of Louis' sons. I know that Louis was drafted before he finished high school. He entered the army on December 10, 1942, less than a month after he turned 18. a fire in 1973 destroyed a majority of military records covering this time period. I do know, from family stories that he was part of the forces that landed at Normandy. This is when he was wounded. He was shot in the leg. Many of his fellow soldiers died. Louis had a pocket bible in his pants pocket. The bullet that hit him traveled through the bible before hitting his leg. Doctors said this slowed the bullet down enough that it saved his leg and maybe even his life. I heard this story and saw the bible many times as a child. That bible is in the possession of one of his sons. 

After the war Louis lived with his family. I believe by this time they lived on Rockwell. He met Shirley Kampfert attending a Lutheran church.

Louis and Shirley Kampfert, likely in front of the house on Rockwell

Louis and Shirley were married on May 19, 1951 at Peace Lutheran Church in Chicago. 

L to R Ethel Kampfert, Arnold Braasch, Violet Kampfert, Louis, Shirley, George Tolsky, Geneva (Bill) Stroud, ??
 Children - Pat Stroud and Cheryl Schmook

They would have 5 children, 3 daughters and 2 sons. Their first child was born in 1952. In 1953 they moved to the house on 62nd and Natchez in Chicago. This house stayed in the family until 2002.

Louis worked for Olivetti, a company that made typewriters and other business machines. He played the organ and had a great sense of humor. He played games and shared chocolate stars with his oldest granddaughter. He once drilled a 2 inch hole into the garage wall. When asked why, he said he didn't know. He loved camping and that became a regular family activity. He met 2 of his grandchildren but had 9 total.

Unfortunately Louis was diagnosed with cancer that had spread through his body. He passed away on February 22, 1977, just weeks after walking his 2nd daughter down the aisle. He was only 52. His youngest child, only 12. A sad coincidence is that he died 4 years to the date after his sister, who was 4 years older than him.

He was buried at Bethania Lutheran Cemetery in Justice Illinois on February 26, 1977.

Please feel free to share your memories and stories here or with me by email.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wilfred David DeGrace

Wilfred David DeGrace

This weeks theme for 52 Ancestors was favorite name. I chose Wilfred, not so much because the name is a favorite but because his often flip flopped. We first see David Wilfred DeGrace baptized in December 1861. It appears that his birth date is December 13 1861 based on the baptismal record in Rimouski, Quebec at Cathédrale St-Germain from the Drouin Collection. He was born to Joseph DeGrace (34) and Celina Marie Hache Ache Gallant (33) He was the 6th of 9 children and the 2nd to last one born in Canada. Sometime in 1864-1866 the family crossed the border into the United States. Mary DeGrace is listed as born in Canada but she wasn't born until 1866. Later reports indicate earlier immigration dates. It's not clear what brought them here at the end or just after the American Civil War. Joseph and his eldest son Alexander worked as carpenters, so perhaps there was post-war opportunity. The family 1st appears in the US census in 1870 in Detroit, Michigan when Wilfred (as he was listed) is 9 years old. His father Joseph and oldest brother Alexander are listed as Carpenters. There is no street listed. Sometime after the census Wilfred's sister Adelia was born on November 5, 1870, and died July 9, 1871.

On November 22, 1879 Wilfred's brother Albert was born when Wilfred was 17. The 1880 census shows them at 251 Sixteenth Street. At the age of 18 Wilfred worked as an Iron Moulder. His little brother Albert died July 4 1881.

On October 10, 1882 Wilfred entered the US Army at Ft. Wayne, Michigan. He was part of the 10th Infantry Company A. At some point his military service took him to Ft. Lyon, Colorado and he is listed in the Colorado state census of 1885.  He indicated that his mother was born in Spain. This is the only mention of that I have seen thus far.

According to the enlistment logs, Wilfred was discharged from the Army on October 9, 1887. Wilfred reported later that he married Lena Godfrey on July 19, 1887 in Las Animas, Bent County, Colorado (no records found). But it appears that their son William David DeGrasse (note spelling change) was born January 24, 1887 when Lena was just 17. The dates could be accurate but the location of William's birth is reported as Illinois. This does not match up with his military service so more research is needed to confirm these dates and locations. We do know that by 1888 they were living in Chicago. Their daughter Mary Etta DeGrasse was born April 30, 1888. In 1889 Wilfred is listed in a Chicago directory at 118 N. Robey.

On September 1, 1891 Lena and Wilfred welcomed a son, Leo Benjamin. A daughter Eleanor was born in 1892, a daughter Inace on April 9, 1896, a daughter Fanchon on November 15, 1900.

The 1900 census has them listed as Josephine and Wilfert DeGrace. They lived at 456 Washburne Ave. in Chicago. He was working as a Showcase Manufacturer. Wilfred's father Joseph passed away on May 21, 1901 at 73 years of age. One more daughter was born to Lena and Wilfred in 1903, Blanche. Blanche only lived about 3 years, passing on May 20, 1906.

In 1910 they had moved to 6823 S. Winchester, also in Chicago. His wife is again listed as Lena but he is listed as William DeGrasse. He was working as a Cabinet Maker. Wilfred's mother passed away April 16, 1913 when she was 85.

The 1920 census lists Wilfred and Lena with daughter Eleanor and 2 borders, Loraine Maypole and Eleanor Schuler. Loraine is 3 years old. I have heard stories about Loraine and how Lena raised her as their own daughter. Earlier census records show a Maypole family living on the same block as the DeGrasse family. Eleanor is 20, so she may be Loraine's mother. They lived at 907 W. 63rd Street.

In 1930 Wilfred and Lena lived with daughter Fanchon and her husband at 9021 S. Carpenter St. Loraine Maypole is still living with them as is a Frances Terboult that is 17. Wilfred is not employed or at least no employment is listed. Lena passed away on January 3, 1937 at 67. Wilfred's application for naturalization is dated August 5, 1937. I had heard stories that he applied for his pension from the military and discovered he was not a citizen. He had thought his father became a citizen when he had come to the US when Wilfred was a small child. It turned out to not be the case. Despite 5 years of military service Wilfred was not a US citizen! At age 75, on November 18, 1937, Wilfred became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

The 1940 census lists David DeGrace age 79 living at 6617 S. Peoria, still in Chicago. he is employed as a carpenter and living with daughter Mary Etta and her family.

Wilfred lost another daughter, Mary Etta passed away May 25, 1953.

Wilfred died at age 97 on January 31, 1959 in Chicago. He is buried next to his wife in an unmarked grave at St. Mary's Cemetery in Evergreen Park. He is listed as David Wilfred.

Wilfred as pictured on his naturalization record


Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Carrie Poppinga Bill

This weeks theme for 52 Ancestors was "in the census". I realize that for this ancestor all I really have is the census - and her grave marker.
I have been unable to locate Carrie Poppinga's birth record. I do know from her grave marker that she was born August 31, 1891. She was either born in Benson, Illinois or in Germany, depending on which account you believe. She was the 2nd oldest of 5 sisters. Francis was born in 1889, Anna was born in 1893, Lena in 1897, and Theda in 1900.

Carrie first appears in the 1900 census at age 9. Carrie lived with her parents and 4 sisters in Benson Village, Clayton Township, Woodford County, Illinois. There are no house numbers or street names listed. Carrie and her older sister are both listed as being born in Germany. The census lists the family as having arrived in the United States in 1893 when Carrie would have been about 2 years old. I have not located any immigration records for the family.

In 1910 Carrie, age 18 is listed as a servant with the Brubaker family. She is still living in Benson, this time on Front Street but no house number is listed.

On February 28, 1918 Carrie married Louis Bill. I don't have a record of the marriage. The date is from a Zoss family history (Louis' family) written for a reunion in the 1940s. They are listed in the 1920 census in Benson on State Street. Carrie was working as a waitress and Louis was listed as a Restaurant keeper. Their first child was a daughter, Geneva. She was born February 29, 1920 a month after the census. She was followed by a son, Louis, Jr. 4 years later on November 17, 1924.

Louis Bill (seated left) and Carrie Poppinga Bill (seated right)
According to the Zoss family history, Louis and Carrie moved with their 2 children, to Chicago in 1927. In 1930 they are listed in the census at 2214 W. 23rd Street in Chicago.

Before 1940 they moved down the street to 2224 W. 23rd Street. The unusual thing about the 1940 census is that there are 2 additional children living with them and listed as children of Louis and Carrie. Helen is 13 and Thomas is 10. This is the only time these names are listed. No one I've asked has been able to shed light on who these children are. Louis was one of 18 siblings plus Carrie's sisters, it is possible that they are the children of one of their siblings.

By 1942 they had moved to 4319 S. Rockwell. As indicated when Louis registered for the draft.

Carrie died on August 15, 1952. Sixteen days before her 61st birthday. She is buried at Bethania Cemetery in Justice, Illinois, just south of Chicago. An obituary appeared in the Metamora Herald on August 29.