Sunday, April 22, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – A Storm in Kansas

Susan Wisemore married Washington Chapman on 1 March 1846 in Jasper County, Illinois.[i] Washington was a farmer until his death probably in 1865-1866. The 1870 census shows widowed Susan Chapman in Granville, Jasper, Ill with Jefferson 15, Louisa 11, Sarah 9, Elizabeth 7, Charles 6, and Ira 4.[ii]

On 23 Jan 1872[iii] Susan Wisemore Chapman married William Myers in Jasper County and by 1880, the family had moved to Phillips County, Kansas.

In 1880 Sarah is married to Thomas Whitmarsh and the mother of Stella Whitmarsh.[iv] Thomas is a farmer in Glenwood Township.

In 1885, the family had grown to include son Fredrick Nelson and they were still in Glenwood Township.[v]

On Friday, 29 April 1885, Sarah hooked up a team of horses to the wagon and with her un-named infant traveled to Republican City, Kansas to meet her husband, Thomas, who had been in Iowa on business for a week. Arriving in Republican City, Sarah found that Thomas had already left for home with a neighbor. Unfortunately, as she attempted to cross Crow Creek, the water rose and swept the team away, capsizing the wagon. Sarah Chapman Whitmarsh’s body was recovered but not the body of her infant child.

Sarah Whitmarsh was survived by her husband, Thomas, and children Stella and Frederick.

Thomas returned to Jasper County, Illinois with his children. Thomas married again and had additional children.

Stella married John Ferguson of Willow Hill and was a loving step-mother to his two children in addition to loving her own two children. Stella Whitmarsh Ferguson died in 1972 and is buried in Mound Cemetery in Hunt City, Jasper County, Illinois.[vi]

She has always been fondly remembered as “Grandma Dolly” by her numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

[i] Illinois, Compiled Marriages, 1790-1860 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.
[ii] Census Place: Granville, Jasper, Illinois; Roll: M593_232; Page: 283B; Family History Library Film: 545731
[iii] Illinois, Marriage Index, 1860-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
[iv] 1880; Census Place: Glenwood, Phillips, Kansas; Roll: 393; Page: 83C; Enumeration District: 227
[v] Kansas State Historical Society; Topeka, Kansas; 1885 Kansas Territory Census; Roll: KS1885_106; Line: 1
[vi] U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Maiden Aunt part 2

“Remembering Kathleen, Whose Life Was Love”[i] there could be no better phrase to describe her!

Kathleen (on left) Graduation from St Joseph Academy
Kathleen Frances Connery was born 10 April 1895 in Chicago. She was the second child and the second daughter born to Michael Connery and Alice Fleming. She was baptized on 14 April 1895 at St Columkille Parish by Fr Thomas Burke and her godparents were James L and Mary Purcell.[ii]

Kathleen undoubtedly followed her sister Mary to St Joseph Academy since her home parish, St Mel, didn’t establish an elementary school until 1906[iii] and Mary had already attended St Joseph Academy. That their Uncle, Father Michael Fleming was the school chaplain added to the feeling of security of the girls.

Kathleen graduated from St Joseph in June of 1916 and went to work in her father’s Real Estate office as a stenographer.[iv]

Kathleen would remain working for her family’s business until her retirement. She moved from stenographer to bookkeeper and ultimately to travel agent as the company grew and expanded.

As a travel agent, Kathleen often sailed to Europe with frequent trips to London, Rome, and of course visits to her Irish cousins in Limerick. The spoils of these trips were lovingly given to her nieces and nephews.

While on trips to England, Kathleen would purchase complete sets of fine china. These were shipped back to Chicago where she would store them in anticipation of an upcoming niece’s engagement when said niece would be allowed to select her favorite of the available patterns. 

Private audience with Pope Pius XII, Kathleen and her mother front row
nuns in rear are Sisters Michael Joseph and Marie Camilla, OP

Trips to Rome included an audience with the Pope, one trip with her mother and sisters included Archbishop Sheil for a private audience with Pope Pius XII.

Sometime in the 1940s her brother Jack bought a summer cottage in Long Beach, Indiana, just outside of Michigan City. Jack named the cottage the Lazy Jane much to the embarrassment of his wife Jane. Eventually Jack sold the cottage to Kathleen who changed the name to "Lady Jane" and kept it for the use of the family. The cottage was rented for the month of July to cover the expense of taxes and general upkeep but for the rest of the year it was for the use of family members. My family went there for the last two weeks of August every summer.  As a senior in high school I could use the cottage for a weekend party with classmates. We were chaperoned of course!

Kathleen was a very complicated person. Full of love for her family, she became the caretaker of her parents as they aged. She also became the family “fixer” at times. If there was a problem she would work to find the solution. She arranged travel for the family as well as her office clients. Although she didn’t become the nun her sisters did, Kathleen did join the Third Order of St Francis. Her devotion to her faith preceded her devotion to her family but one never conflicted with the other.

After she retired from the office, Kathleen moved to Florida where she continued her caretaker duties nursing her sister Sister Michael Joseph before Sister returned to the Healthcare Center in Adrian. Later Kathleen would try to help another sister Betty return to health.

In her efforts to help others, Kathleen always had to do just one more thing. As a result Kathleen was almost always late to everything, to the extent that when my mother invited her to dinner, Kathleen was told that dinner would be at 4pm when it was really planned for 6pm. Among the family it was often said that she “would be late for her own funeral.” And she was!

Kathleen Francis Connery died on 12 August 1986 in a nursing home in West Palm Beach, Florida. Her memorial mass was held at Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, IL on September 6, 1986[v]. Since she was cremated in Florida, her cremains were shipped to Illinois for burial. We were about a third of the way through the mass when her brother Jack entered the chapel carrying a container which he proceeded to place on the altar.  She was well and truly late to her own funeral!

Kathleen is buried in the family plot at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, IL.

Kathleen you were well loved!

[i] Title of Memorial Booklet designed by her niece Peggy Ann Ryan.
[ii] Illinois, Chicago Catholic Church Records 1833-1925, "," database with images, familysearch ( : online 4 December 2016), Birth and Baptism of Kathleen Connery; Family History Library film # 4332302 page 442.
[iii] St. Mel’s Grade School Centennial book  1886-1986
[iv] US Federal Census: Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 35, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_356; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 2230
[v] Chicago Tribune () , obit for KATHLEEN CONNERY, ( : accessed 15 April 2018)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Maiden Aunt(s) Part 1 of 3

My mother had 3 older sisters who remained single for their entire lives. They were dearly loved by her and she was spoiled by them. My mother was “Betty” to most but “Bettina” to her sisters.

Mary Elizabeth was the first born. Two years later Kathleen Francis was born, followed Alice Josephine, so that is the order in which I will talk about them.
Mary Elizabeth Connery was baptized on 29 March 1893 at St Columkille Catholic Church in Chicago, IL.[i]

According to Mary’s biography she went to school at St Mel in her home parish for grade school, moving on to St Mary of the Woods in Terre Haute, Indiana for her first year of high school. She had an Aunt, Sister Mary Regina, who was teaching there at the time. How ever the 1900 U S Census shows six-year-old Mary at St Joseph Academy in Adrian, MI.[ii] Her Uncle, Fr Michael Fleming, chaplain, is on the very next line. 

Mary graduated from St Joseph Academy in June of 1911 and returned home to take business classes and work for her father’s company. After taking time to dwell on her decision, Mary returned to Adrian, where she was received in the Order of St Dominic, taking the name of Sister Michael Joseph, after both her father and favorite uncle, she professed her vows on 22 August 1919, the same day her sister Alice was received into the order.[iii]

As a teaching Sister, SMJ (as she routinely signed herself), taught mostly in the Chicago and it’s suburbs with an occasional assignment in Michigan. Mostly she taught the upper elementary grades although she opened several new schools in Detroit, MI. When she returned to the Chicago area she taught fifth grade at St Edmund’s school in Oak Park for twelve years.  Later she would teach at Bishop Quarter school, a junior military school for boys at the grade school level while assisting in the library.

SMJ loved nature in all its glory and frequently took long walks to enjoy the beauty and identify the trees she saw. She was an English language purest and an advocate of precise enunciation. She ate slowly and walked daily, aware of the importance of taking care of her health. She was a lover of people, music and books.

In her 75th year, SMJ resided at St Edmund’s Convent for five years in a semi-retirement before moving to Maria Hall Health Care Center in Adrian for her last ten years.

As Sister Mary Alice Collins remarked at the Scripture Vigil for Sister Michael Joseph Connery, O.P., “She died as she lived, unobtrusively.”[iv]

She died 21 Dec 1984 and is buried in the cemetery at Adrian, MI.

[i] Illinois, Chicago Catholic Church Records 1833-1925, "," database with images birth and Baptism of Mary Elizabeth Connery.
[ii] Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 28, Cook, Illinois; Page: 12; Enumeration District: 0851;; online image.

[iii] From a copy of the biography of Sister Michael Joseph Connery, received from her sister 21 Dec 1984 as recorded in the Adrian Dominican Archives pages 1578-1580
[iv] ibid

Sunday, April 1, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - The Old Homestead

Thinking about this topic, I considered all my ancestors and the length of time they lived in any one location.

My German ancestors immigrated in the 1850s to settle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While they remained in Milwaukee until my grandmother married and moved to Chicago in 1907, they lived at several different addresses mostly on Walnut Ave.[i]

My Irish ancestors came to the United States in the 1880s/1890s and made their home in Chicago for the rest of their lives. About 1905 they built a large home on Washington Boulevard where they remained until my grandfather’s death in 1953. [ii]

When my Norwegian grandfather immigrated in 1894, he first lived in Chicago with a maternal aunt and her family since he was only 12 years at the time. After his marriage to my grandmother, the couple traveled for some time before settling in Oak Park, Illinois.

While none of these people could be considered nomadic by any means, I don’t feel that any of their residences could be considered “the old Homestead” for that I will defer to my husband’s Ferguson ancestors.

Figure 1John Ferguson Indiana Land Purchase 10 August 1837[iii]

Our Ferguson branch first settled in Virginia in 1640. Just before the Revolutionary War, they migrated to North Carolina.  My husband’s fifth great-grandfather, John Ferguson (1754-1842) was a Revolutionary War soldier and as such received a land grant in 1795 for a parcel in Robson County, North Carolina.[iv]

As time marched on, so did John and his family, moving from North Carolina, to Kentucky, Indiana, and finally to Jasper County, Illinois.  Land records in Indiana and Illinois show the migration pattern. Most likely the family improved the land they purchased and used the profits from the sale to buy land in the next location.

John remained in Indiana, where he died in Boone County in 1842 leaving his second wife and two children. His son Benjamin, according to the 1850 census. remained in Indiana and his son, Jeremiah  moved on to Jasper County, Illinois where he appears in the 1850 census. Jeremiah has 280 acres of which 60 are classed as improved and 220 unimproved with the cash value estimated to be $1000.00[v]

In 1860 the census shows that Jeremiah’s 240 acres had increased In value to $5000.00.[vi]

Upon Jeremiah’s death in 1882, his youngest son David took over the stewardship of the farm which remained in the family until sometime in the 1940s. Gradually family members left the farm for work in the city but there are still Fergusons in the area.

[i]  Milwaukee City Directories, 1860-1896
[ii] Chicago City Directories, 1910-1923
[iii] ttps://
[iv] North Carolina, Land Grant Files, 1693-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016.
[v] Census Year: 1850; Census Place: Newton District 18, Jasper, Illinois; Archive Collection Number: T1133; Roll: 2; PCensus Year: 1860; Census Place: Willow Hill, Jasper, Illinois; Archive Collection Number: T1133; Roll: 7; Page: 61; Line: 24; Schedule Type: Agricultureage: 529; Line: 37; Schedule Type: Agriculture

Sunday, March 25, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 12 Misfortune

1.    bad luck.
"the project was dogged by misfortune"
o    an unfortunate condition or event.
plural noun: misfortunes
"never laugh at other people's misfortunes"
problemdifficultysetbacktroubleadversity, stroke of bad luck, reversal (of fortune), misadventuremishapblowfailureaccidentdisastercatastrophe;

The topic this week is misfortune and as the definition above indicates it can take many forms and degrees of hardship or loss. This week, I decided to explore a circumstance that occurred in the life of my grandparents.

I had heard that my grandparents lost their home in an attempt to save the business of his uncle. True?  I didn’t know. I did know that when my grandfather died in 1946 he and my grandmother were living in the home of their daughter and her family. What had happened to their beautiful home on Ridgeland Ave in Oak Park?

this house is actually 1201 N Ridgeland but it was built in 1929 and is representative of what was there at the time

When my grandfather immigrated in 1894 with his sister Dagny and brother Artur, they went to live with their deceased mother’s sister Olga and her family. The 1900 census shows 20 year old Adolph living with his brother and the Pederson family. Adolph was working as a hardware packer.[i]

By the time of the 1910 census, Adolph had married and become a father. In May of 1910, Adolph and his family were living in Tooele, Utah where he worked as a timekeeper in a smelter[ii]. It is not apparent how long the Hansens lived in Utah, but they returned to the Midwest by September of 1910 when their son was baptized in Milwaukee, WI.

By 1920, Adolph was working for his uncle Oscar Daniels in his ship-building business. In fact, Adolph is counted twice in the 1920 census, once in January in Chicago with his wife and children[iii] and once in Tampa, Fl at the home of his aunt Magna and her family. The Tampa census was not taken until February.[iv]

As time went on Adolph and later his son continued to work for the Oscar Daniels Co as the company expanded into iron work and steel construction across the country. As the company moved into iron work, Adolph may have used the knowledge of metals that he learned while working in the smelter. Mainly Adolph and his family remained in the Chicago area and bought a house in Oak Park.

That the family was doing very well for the times is indicated by the fact that their daughter attended college in the early 1930s and a private school at that.
Some time in the 1940s Adolph broke his connection with the Oscar Daniels Co. He was working for the Frank P Noy company in the early 40s as a Secretary/Treasurer.

Oscar Daniels died 14 Apr 1939 in Miami Beach, FL[v]

In 1940 Adolph filed suit in Miami against the estate of Oscar Daniels asking for $10,000 for services and money advanced to Daniels.[vi]

Did that $10,000.00 cause the loss of a family home? In 1943 Adolph and Henrietta still lived in the house on Ridgeland Ave but by the time of his death, they were living with their daughter. I will probably never know “the rest of the story” as there is nobody left to ask.

[i] Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 28, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 279; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0844; FHL microfilm: 1240279
[ii] Year: 1910; Census Place: Tooele, Tooele, Utah; Roll: T624_1609; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 0175; FHL microfilm: 1375622
[iii] Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 33, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_353; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 2120; Image: 479
[iv] Year: 1920; Census Place: Tampa Ward 2, Hillsborough, Florida; Roll: T625_222; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 39
[v]; Miami Herald page 15 15 Apr 1939

Sunday, March 18, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 11 - Luck

Genetics and Genealogy

I’ve never been especially lucky but this quest began with only one name and a lucky guess.

My son-in-law was adopted and seeking health information he so did a DNA test at 23andMe in 2012. The test did reveal some things he needed to be aware of but nothing shocking. He wasn’t really looking for family then, just the background health information so we did nothing about matches.

About the same time my son-in-law’s state of birth opened their adoption records and adoptees could order a copy of their original birth certificate. He ordered his birth certificate but when the certificate came, there was very little information on it. His birth mother’s name and age were there along with her address. For his father there was only an age.

With that information I began searching for her on I entered her name and year of birth into ancestry along with the state and county where she lived.

She was too young to appear in the 1940 census and I had absolutely no idea who her parents were. Someone with her name did appear in high school yearbooks in the area. As I looked at the yearbooks, I noticed that there were two other students with the same surname in the school. Here is where the guess comes in: I decided they were her siblings! Now I had three names to research.

Since I had two sisters and a brother and women often change their names when they marry, I decided to look for the brother. Unfortunately, he was deceased and apparently never married although he had served in the military. Because he was deceased, he did appear in a family tree on There was the tree showing the brother with birth and death information and two pink living icons telling me he had two living sisters. I also found the names of his parents. Now to prove that this was the right family!

Using traditional genealogy methods, I built a tree for this family with sources. When I found his mother’s obituary, I knew I was on the right track since his sisters were both mentioned with children and spouses.

In 2016, my son-in-law took a DNA test at and we began checking on the matches for both tests. The matches that we that responded to our requests seemed to be a high number of adoptees but I kept developing the tree anyway.

We have uploaded DNA results to ftDNA, Gedmatch, and MyHeritage in addition to the tests at and 23andMe. Working with the DNA matches provided by the companies involved, I can confirm that the tree I developed for my son-in-law is indeed, his correct biological line. On his maternal line there are shared matches with some third and fourth cousins and he also shares a genetic circle with those matches on his mother’s line.

One of the shared matches turned out to be a half sister on his biological father’s line. A shared match between them is actually a first cousin once removed. We now have both a paper trail and a genetic trail to my son-in-law’s heritage. His maternal tree goes back to 1793 in England and the 1830’s in Germany. There are other matches that are still to be explored as we widen the family tree.

It was really lucky I played that hunch about those three names in a high school yearbook.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Week 10 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - "The Nickel That Grew Up" *

Women shoppers at Mrs. Snyder's Candy shop
South Michigan Ave 1927
credit Pintrest
The theme for week 10 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is “ strong woman”. How do I begin to choose who to write about? I come from a long line of strong women, immigrants who ventured to a new country, widows who raised large families with grace, women who left their families to become Sisters in the Catholic Church and teach the children of others, or those who remained un-married to help other family members are the possibilities I am faced with.

My husband and his sister often reminisced about visiting their grandmother and going to a candy store where they could eat candy for free. In exploring this memory, I found that the store was owned by their great-aunt who founded the store that would become a Chicago institution.

Aurora Henrietta Hanson was the seventh child born to Oloff Hanson and Mary Hepke. She was born in Michigan City, LaPorte, Indiana 12 Mar 1876.[i] She was baptized in the Lutheran church there and shortly after her birth the family moved to Chicago, Cook, Illinois. Perhaps her father, Oloff, a fisherman, felt that the larger city would provide a better market for his daily catch.

Aurora’s mother died in 1881 due to childbirth. [ii] Her large family was left to cope with the loss. Aurora was only five at the time, but her older sister Lizbet married two years later and may have taken Aurora with her until her marriage in 1894 to William Allen Snyder.[iii]

The 1900 census shows Ora (Aurora) and William living with their daughter Edith and his parents George and Mary on Ellis Ave in Chicago where William is working as a bookkeeper.

The Atlantic, Chocolate Dipped: The Popularity of Custom Candy in 1940s Chicago

In 1909, with only a cup of sugar and an egg white, using only five cents worth of ingredients, Ora began making candies in her kitchen to sell to the school children after school. This was necessary to support her family after her husband became too ill to work. At a friend’s suggestion she took her candies to downtown Chicago where they were much sought after.[iv]

By 1920 the Snyders were the owners of a confectionary factory according to the census and by 1925 she owned 8 stores and in 1931 she was elected the first continued woman president of Associated Retail Confectioners of the United States.[v]

Ora Snyder continued to watch her business grow and by the time of her death in 1948 she owned 16 shops, one of which was a 7-story building. In the 1960s Mrs. Snyder’s Candies and its 15 stores was purchased by Fannie Mae Candies there by ending an era.

Ora was a strong woman who found a way to support her family and created a business using her skills and determination to succeed. "I can't make all the candy in the world, so I just make the best of it." [vi]

* The Green Book Magazine, Volumes 21-22, pages 87-88,Story-Press association, 1919, from     the University of Michigan, Digitized Oct 22, 2009 Google Books

[i] U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA Operations, Inc., 2012.
[ii] Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
[iii] Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
[iv]   The Atlantic, Chocolate Dipped: The Popularity of Custom Candy in 1940s Chicago
[v] Ibid 
[vi] The Green Book Magazine, Volumes 21-22, pages 87-88,Story-Press association, 1919, from     the University of Michigan, Digitized Oct 22, 2009 Google Books