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, 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.


Tuesday, February 13, 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.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Arthur Frederick Kampfert

This week's 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks prompt was "invite to dinner." Honestly I'd love to have any of my ancestors to dinner to ask them what I'm missing. But I settled on my great grandfather Arthur Kampfert. How can you go wrong with a man that I've been told appears in a picture with Al Capone?
Unknown date

When Arthur Frederick Kampfert was born on May 22, 1899, in Illinois, his father, Paul, was 25 and his mother, Anna, was 19. He was followed by his sister Sally in 1903, his sister Ella in 1905, his brother George in 1908, his sister Helen in 1910, and his sister Dorothy in 1911. I don't know where he went to school. It is consistently reported that he had a 7th grade education.

His family is listed in the 1900 census at 1082 W. 13th Street when Arthur was a year old. I have not found a record of his birth but I assume he was born in Chicago. By 1910 the family had moved to 4312 S. Fairfield, the street he woukd live on for the rest of his life. In 1920 he stated his occupation as a butcher and still lived with his parents. Arthur's mother Anna (Blaesing) Kampfert died on September 13, 1917 when he was 18. His father remarried on March 1, 1919. Arthur's step mother was Bertha Becker. Sometime between 1910 and 1920 The Schiefelbein family moved into 4318 Fairfield. Arthur married their daughter Margaret May 29, 1920.
Arthur and Margaret's marriage license
Margaret and Arthur Kampfert - possibly at one of their daughters wedding

After their marriage, Arthur and Margaret moved to the 2nd floor of 4318 Fairfield (where Margaret's parents lived). Margaret and Arthur had six children during their marriage. Mildred was born in 1921, Evelyn in 1923 and Shirley in 1927. Those 3 are pictured below with their father. Two more daughters were born to Arthur and Margaret. Violet was born in 1929 and Ethel was born in 1931.
Arthur with his three oldest children

Arthur and Margaret with ? I know the 2nd from left is Shirley and to her right is Violet,
1st on the left in back may be Mildred

 As early as 1917 Arthur was working at a packinghouse on Chicago's south side. From there he began his work with the packinghouse workers union. He spoke at the United Packinghouse Workers of America's founding convention in 1943.

"The Packinghouse Workers under the banner of the streamlined CIO organization has been the only organization in the history of the meat packing industry that has gone over five years of life. I hope this organization will stand as long as we have a meat packing industry; and that your children and children's children will not have to slave in those packinghouses as we have slaved in the past"

-Arthur Kampfert, speech to 1943 UPWA convention

He was often traveling and assisting laborers around the country trying to elevate the living standards of packinghouse workers. In 1949 he wrote "History of Meat Packing, Slaughtering and Unionism. His manuscript was never published but there is a copy at the University of Wisconsin. Despite the manuscript never being published he and his manuscript have been quoted on various histories of the American labor movement.

Arthur at his desk at the union office in Chicago
Arthur in front of the Union office

Despite the time away from his family, he was known to be close to them. There are stories of holiday gatherings.
The Kampferts were known for family parties. This is New Year 1945
Arthur's short but full life ended on November 3, 1951. He was 52. He is buried at Bethania Cemetery in Justice, Illinois. So far I have not located his death record to determine cause of death.

Grave marker at Bethania in Justice


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Johan Viktor Liden Petersson

This week’s theme for 52 ancestors was longevity. There's only one ancestor that comes to mind at this word, Johan Viktor Lidén Petersson, my 2 times great grandfather. The spoiler is he lived to be 102! This post is a little late because there are a lot of records for someone who lived over a century. I like to imagine the changes in the world he must have seen living from 1854 to 1956! Johan or John, as he became known later worked as a carpenter in Sweden and in the United States. He stated that he had been educated through 8th grade.

When Johan Viktor Petersson Liden was born on March 10, 1854, in Norrköping, Östergötland, Sweden, his father, Per, was 34 and his mother, Johanna, was 34. Through anecdotal information it seems his relationship with his father was not a good one. Possible proof is that throughout his younger years he shows up in various Swedish household examination records as well as the fact that he stopped using his fathers name and used the surname Liden. Johan (as he was known then) moved around quite a bit, working on farms. He lived in Acklinga, Vastra Gotalands and Ringarum, Ostergotlands before ending up at Fralsegarden in Edasa. Kristina Elisabeth Svensdotter lived with her parents and siblings on that farm.

Johan and Kristina Svensdotter married on July 29, 1883, in Edåsa, Västra Götaland, Sweden. They had five children in 10 years. Ludwig, Laurentis, and Lage were born on that same farm in Sweden. On April 15, 1887 Johan and Kristina, along with Laurentis (age 2) and Lage (7 months) left for America on the Romeo. It's unknown why Ludwig was left behind.

When they arrived in the United States they came right to Chicago, Illinois. Their last two children Laura and Louis were born in Chicago. Johan became a citizen on March 25, 1895. The family appears in their first census in 1900 renting a house at 1038 West 70th Street on the south side. By 1910 they owned their home at 744 W. 71st according to census records. In 1920 they had moved to 11144 S. Vincennes and in 1930 to 6940 Morgan. The house on Morgan was their last address in Illinois. Kristina died March 22, 1937. In 1940 John lived with his son Louis at the house on Morgan. Sometime before 1950 he moved to the Carpenters Home in Lakeland Florida. In 1954 he celebrated his 100th birthday at Carpenters Home with various members of his family.

John died in May 1956 in Lakeland, Florida, at the age of 102, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Blue Island, Illinois.


Monday, January 15, 2018


My favorite picture required little research but are still important. This was good for a busy week. After a few years of bugging people about genealogy my Liden family decided it might be fun to get together. It's a tie for my favorite picture. The first is the first reunion we had in 1998. I got to "remeet" some cousins I hadn't seen since we were small children. Obviously there were still people missing but it was so much fun to see those who did make it out.

1998 Reunion
Front row: ,Heather Neary, , , , , Jon Curbis  Back row L to R: Angie & Keith, Paula, Kevin, Melanie, Rob (behind Melanie), Heather, Dawn, Laticia, Chris. 2nd row: Michelle, Debbie, Michele, Yvette, Tonya, Aaron, Jackie, Gladys, , Dan, Karyn & Frank. Seated in chairs: Margie (holding Summer Soriano), Rose, Dee, Pat (holding Tyler,) Kevin, Jim (Bud's son,) Ron.
front row: ,Heather , , , , , Jon  

The 1998 reunion was held in July 1998 at Pat and Kevin's house. There was swimming and a piñata. Not to mention delicious food!

The other picture in my 2 way tie was the 2000 reunion. Or as we nicknamed it, L2K. The 2000 Reunion was held at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville, Illinois (DuPage County). My Dad brought the DJ equipment and supplied an amazing variety of music. There was a ton of food supplied by all and plenty of games for young and young at heart.

2000 Reunion "L2K"
(back row L to R) Jim (Dud), Joe, Pete, Aaron, Dennis. Row leaning on railing: Kevin, Pat, Ron, Pat, Dan, Melanie, Gladys, Dee, Karen, Tonya, Joni. In front of rail: Leticia, Angie, Keith (Zach on Keith's lap), Jackie (Tyler on her lap), Jonathan (Anthony on his lap),Lindsay (Anna on her lap),Jessica in between, Lisa (Emily on her lap), Heather, Heather, J.D., Rose. Seated in front: Chris (squatting to side), Frank, Karyn, Josh, Dawn (with Haley)

And there were still people missing!!

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Sunday, January 07, 2018

Hazel Donovan Liden

Welcome to Week 1 of 52 weeks, 52 Ancestors. This weeks theme is "Start." I always tell the story of how I started working on my family history. I had a dream about my dads parents. Doing every day things, but they had no faces. There's nothing scary about this. I just didn't have a strong enough memory of them for their faces to appear from my memory. I realized I could try to change this or let the memories continue to fade. The next day I saw an ad twice for genealogy software. I took this as a sign. And so my journey began.

One of those grandparents who needed a face was Hazel Donovan Liden. Hazel was born May 20, 1920 in Chicago Illinois. Her parents were Thomas Donovan and Margaret Curtin. Hazel was the youngest of 6 siblings - Bernice, Marcella, Daniel, Patrick, and Thomas. They all resided on the south side of Chicago. It is likely that her grandmother lived with them when she was born as she appears with them in the 1920 census taken in January.

Hazel attended Parker High School, a Chicago public school on the city's south side. This school still exists but it was renamed Robeson High School in 1977. She graduated in June of 1939. A story that her future sister in law, Rose, once told me was that they had known each other in school (Rose was about 2 years younger). Rose would always ask her about boys since she was older. Hazel didn't want to tell her about the new boy because he had a funny nickname (Dud - all his brothers had similar nicknames). When Rose found out she had a good laugh that it was her big brother that caught Hazel's eye.

On May 12, 1941 Hazel married Vernon Liden. They had four children that they raised on the south side.

In 1942, when she was just 22 years old she lost her mother. This was months after the birth of her 1st child. Her father passed 11 years later in 1954. Her brothers all preceded her in death. When she was just 53 she was widowed. Vernon passed away on April 26, 1974.
I know that sometime after that she moved to California for some time and then relocated back to the south suburbs of Illinois. I don't have many memories of my grandmother, but I do remember her staying with us once. She tucked me into bed, tucking in the sheets so firmly that I was not getting out of that bed without help! I certainly wasn't going to fall out of bed that night.
I've heard great stories about what a wonderful person she was. I'm sorry I don't have more memories of her.
Hazel Donovan Liden passed away from breast cancer on May 10, 1979 at 58 years of age.

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