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When you have children invariably at some point you will have to find a way to pass time while you wait for them to participate in some activity. Since my then three-year-old couldn't drive, I had to do a bit of waiting on him while he went to developmental preschool this spring (he's a bit of a late talker).

One day of waiting on the kid I decided I'd head over to the Seattle Genealogical Society and see what I might find in their library. Earlier in the month I had been to a lecture there and noticed by looking at their online catalog that they had a surprising amount of material relevant to my particular counties of interest in Illinois of all places! Had I known this earlier in my genealogical pursuits I'd have quickly become a regular at the SGS library, but alas, I discovered it just one week before the kid's school was done for the summer (and my kid-free time was over). (By the way, if you live near Seattle or have relatives from the area you should join, their library is GREAT and it's right across the street from the National Archives Seattle location!)

Anyway, my trip to the library began at the front desk, where a kind woman signed me in, and let me pay her a small fee to use the library for the day. I was nervous about going by myself, as I always worry about not following protocols properly and making a fool of myself, but my fears were totally unwarranted. The woman's kindness melted away any nerves I had. (I arrived at 2:20 pm, and had to leave by 2:50 pm to go pick up the kiddo, so this was hardly a DAY of researching!) She encouraged me to become a member, but I told her we would be moving out of state soon, and would not be able to avail myself of the benefits of using the library beyond that first trip, sadly. She was not pushy at all. The kind lady asked me what states I'd be researching there, and I told her Illinois. She led me to the shelf with the Illinois books, and explained that they were organized by county. This organization enabled me to quickly and easily find my counties of interest.

There were two books in particular that I looked at, one included early marriages from Sangamon County, and another was called Cemeteries of Mechanicsburg. "Hm, my mom's family was from around there, maybe I'll take a peek," I thought to myself. I found a few relevant marriages in the first book, and then, since I only had a short time to look, turned my attention to the cemetery book.

It was compiled by the now-disbanded Sangamon County Genealogical Society in the early 80s. Lucky for me it had an index, otherwise I'd have not had the success I did. I had expected to find, perhaps, some of my mother's family listed in the book, but I also checked for my maternal grandmother's side too, since they also lived for a time in Sangamon County. When I found a hit for the name Stogdell I got chills. Listed in the book was a John F. Stogdell. I looked him up in the book using the page I found in the index. Here's what I saw.

There he was, listed right there on the page, and in the same plot, B-155, were his in-laws. I knew it was the right John. It was my maternal grandmother's father who had committed suicide at a relatively young age. Buried in the same plot with the Fuhrwerks, a family I have mentioned previously that immigrated from West Prussia (near Gdansk/Danzig). I had no idea where he was buried, because my uncle from whom I got much of my genealogy data had not research his mother's family, so this was a major coup. Lucky for me I had my iphone with me and snapped pictures of the pages I posted here and a few others. John Stogdell had not been listed in findagrave either. Here is John and his wife Florence on their wedding day.

In my excitement I neglected to get complete enough information to know which of the cemeteries listed in the book was the one in which he was buried! That was so frustrating to realize. At home I searched WorldCat.org to see where else I might find copies of this book, there were several places near where we were moving (not surprising, given the cemetery is not too far from where we live now, compared to Seattle ;-) ). My search for John F. Stogdell would have to wait until we moved back to Illinois, but that was months away.

Finally, a two weeks ago Mr. Larmos and I went to a local college's library that had a copy of the book, and we figured out where he was buried. It was the large Mechanicsburg cemetery. You have no idea how hard it was not to just hop in the car and drive out there right then, but it had to wait.

Finally last weekend Mr. Larmos, the kiddo and I made it out there. I used the description in the book to find the plot, which I did very quickly. While I took pictures and looked around Mr. L and li'l L ran around this big field (the kid loved it). So, finding John Stogdell meant I also found my great-great grandparents and several other collateral Fuhrwerk lines. I knew where his wife was buried, because she is buried in the same cemetery with her daughter, my grandmother, who along with my grandfather were caretakers of the cemetery at some point. John, however was not alone, he had his in-laws near. His stone and its writing faces that of his in-laws. (I also notice that he was a Mason).

I'm still no closer to understanding what drove John to suicide with a young wife and 3 children--my Grammie was just 10 when he killed himself. There are many other questions as well...why was he not buried with his family (his father died just about 6 months before him, and his mother about 6 months after. Did his wife at one point intend to be buried with him and the rest of her family? Ultimately she was not, as mentioned. She remarried a widower and moved out of the area, about 30 miles away, and had more children. Her second husband was the grandfather my dad knew, and Grammie didn't speak much at all about John to my dad or to me. I know so little about John and only have 2 or three photos. At least now I know where to find him, and that's a start.

Here are the stones I found. (it was a warm, but glorious day for a stroll in a cemetery.)

Any good cemetery strolls and/or searches you want to share? How's the research going, everyone?

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Comment Preferences

  •  It is such a thrill when you have spent (9+ / 0-)

    hours and hours looking for clues and suddenly - there IT is.  I have enjoyed those moments and hopefully will get back into the quest this winter.  I had to take a break, it was making me crazy.

    I was with family in Spokane and they mentioned they had "double cousins" but no one knew why.  We went to the cemetery and I copied out the information on that side of the famiy and traced them back to Wisconsin.  Found the wedding of the couple in question and found her maiden name opened the door!  Mystery solved.  Several families had moved from Wisonsin together, but over the generations the threads had been lost.  

  •  Hi, cuz! (7+ / 0-)

    Glad to read (again, lucky me!) of your trip to Mechanicsburg. As you know a number of my paternal kin are lying in rest about 23 minutes south in Edinburgh.

    Look for a message from me on FB as to when I might get myself down your way. I'm itchin' to get there.

    I've been putzing around a bit on Ancestry.com lately but haven't had any new aHa moments. Mostly gathering cemetery info for when I make it your way. I've printed out lists of photo requests on Find-A-Grave so I'm hoping to become a good samaritan to a few people.

    Oh, and by the way, this is a lovely diary. I would be driven crazy trying to find out what might have contributed to John's suicide. Just like I am being driven crazy by a couple of mysteries of my own - one of which I know I'll solve with your help.

    Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

    by figbash on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 08:35:25 AM PDT

  •  Inspiring and motivating, larmos. (7+ / 0-)

    The thrill of discovery never gets old, does it? Thanks for the great post!

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 08:59:47 AM PDT

  •  Great investigative techniques, larmos (8+ / 0-)

    Regional genealogical societies have so much more to offer than you'd think, don't they? :)

    We genealogists have an obsessive hobby, and if we have information that doesn't relate to us, it probably relates to someone else, and it is just as exciting to watch the thrill it gives to those others. IMHO

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 09:11:43 AM PDT

  •  My success story (7+ / 0-)

    This  was a few years ago, but it was the most amazing result...

    ###

    I always like reading about people's genealogical success stories, so on
    those rare occasions when one happens to me, I like to share them - I
    think it gives a good burst of energy to those who are feeling stymied
    at a brick wall.

    Last summer, while on a trip around the country to visit various places
    that my family had lived, I ordered some probate records from Cook
    County, Illinois, including ones for Felix Ward SCUDDER, a descendant of
    my great-grandfather Oscar Hayden WARD through his daughter Belle
    Peabody WARD's first marriage to William Byrd SCUDDER. In those papers
    was a deposition from John Hayden WILSON, my Dad's first cousin, and a
    son of Belle WARD's by her third marriage to Edwin WILSON. Among other
    things, it told of John WILSON's kids: Juliette Thorne WILSON and
    William Henry OLDACRE III, both listed as minors in 1964.

    I reasoned that there probably were not too many William Henry OLDACREs
    in the United States, and sure enough, there was only one (he had been
    adopted, hence the different last name). When I contacted him, it was
    indeed he, and he put me in touch with John H. WILSON, who was still
    living at age 85.  When I spoke with him, he told me of relatives that I
    didn't know I had, that lived in Northern California, less than an hour
    from my house. There were four of them with the surname TILLSON, all
    descended this way:

        Oscar Hayden WARD m. Juliette Granville WIGHTMAN
        William H. WARD m. Mary B. MILLER
        Marion WARD m. Paget CADY
        Mary Lee CADY m. Harold Gordon TILLSON
        TILLSON children: Marian, Jim, Steve, and Tom

    I first met Marian, and she showed me a binder with a lot of old photos
    and papers -- things like a wedding anniversary invitation from my
    great-grandfather Oscar WARD, and pictures that I had never seen before.
    Jim was there too, and a one point he said, "Wait -- I have a couple of
    other things you might be interested in."  He came back with a pair of
    portraits of my great-great-grandparents -- William Warren WARD and
    Maria Jane PHILLIPS, (Oscar Hayden WARD's parents) that was painted in
    1843, which he then gave to me.

    Unbelievable.

    So when you feel like you're getting nowhere, remember that one little
    piece of info like a probate record of a not-too-close relative can
    yield a treasure trove.

  •  I've got to duck out for 1/2 hour to take (6+ / 0-)

    the little dude to school...be back at 12:30 central for more genealogical fun. See you all soon...

  •  Terrific diary. (7+ / 0-)

    You've provided me with another reason why I need to get a cell phone that I can actually use to take photos.  How often has it been that I've run across information that I wasn't able to scan or photocopy, and writing down everything from the page just wasn't practical.  OR, there was more information on a page that was relevant, but I didn't know it at the time.

    Ah, those Eureka! moments are priceless, aren't they?  I haven't had one of those in a while, and I'm really beginning to miss them.

  •  Looking for a little excitement in your life? (7+ / 0-)

    Then let me suggest that hosting a GFHC Open Thread could provide just the right dash of spice in your life.

    Current schedule

    Sep 21   ole texan
    Sep 28   open for adoption
    Oct 5     Land of Enchantment
    Oct 12   open for adoption
    Oct 19   open for adoption
    Oct 26   jeanette0605
    Nov 2    open for adoption

    Can we get a volunteer host for one of our open dates?  Or two?  Or three?

  •  Enjoyed reading (7+ / 0-)

    your Open Thread larmos. I always look at your dedication to this thing we call genealogy. I wish I could be so into that. It has been pretty much the opposite for me lately. My searches have become a disaster and painful reminders. I guess it is because I am searching me, as apposed to ancestors. I guess I can say I`m glad to be alive and not an ancestor just yet.

    Glad you found your GGGGrandparent. I guess visiting libraries have good results eh? Hoping your larmito child becomes as  savvy as you in genealogy which I am sure you will teach him once he understands, if he doesn`t already.

    I must say that my upcoming Open Thread is full of sadness and disappointments for me. But hey, life is no bed of roses as they say.

    Again, I enjoyed reading your moving thread. Well, done my friend.

    Old men tell same old stories

    by Ole Texan on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 01:20:40 PM PDT

    •  Hey OT (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slksfca, klompendanser, Jim H, larmos, brook, TayTay

      We laugh together.

      We cry together, too.

      That's what makes our group special, right? ;-)

    •  (((Ole Texan))) (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim H, brook, klompendanser, edwardssl, TayTay

      How I wish I could take the pain away for you. I'm so glad that you have a spirit so resilient. I feel certain that we will see you find some success in this endeavor, and if not you should be proud of your work so far. I know I am--you are an inspiration.

      The moral of my tale today really is that sometimes dumb luck (picking the right book on the shelf, for the wrong reason) leads you in the right direction. I am not so much skilled as I am dogged and determined to find answers.

      This man, John Stogdell, speaks to me in some strange way. I feel the need to know his sadness.

      For now larmito (love the name, and his Tio, would love it too!) is happy to frolic amongst the tombstones. He has the benefits of living with his grandparents right now, and that has been priceless to me. I'm so happy he gets the opportunity to build a solid relationship with them after living so far away for too long.

      •  Hello my friend. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        klompendanser, edwardssl

        I had waited most of last week for your Open Thread to read. When I came in a made my comment yesterday I was on the run, like usual these days. I am sorry larmos for having been in and out and gone.

        I wanted to stick around and elaborate on some things I said in my comment that I noticed in your writing. One thing I like is the way you "paste ?" your images and still type around the image. I have never tried to learn this trick. I like it.

        I want to steal it. :--)

        Amiga, thank you for your kind words about my spirit and my resilience. I think it was yesterday that edwardssl told me in her usual nice way that here, we all laugh and cry together. I think this lady can read minds. I know exactly what she means and I agree. I have said several times that it is here in this group that I feel I belong. It is here where I can open up and let my inner demons roam. I have had these demons implanted in me so long ago.

        I will let you go this time. You must be busy. And take care with the name Larmito. I say this because these things stick, and Larmito will some day be a man. Imagine having a girl, or anyone calling out Larmito!! I don`t think he would
        feel too comfortable, smile. I too like the name. I can imagine how smart he must be being your kiddo.

        Take a look at the comment Tay Tay left for me. I need to slide down and thank Tay Tay.

        Oppps, I forgot. Friday, when you read my Open Thread there will be no crying. There is no crying in Ole Texan`s diaries!

        Old men tell same old stories

        by Ole Texan on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 03:17:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ole Texan, you make my heart ache (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      klompendanser, edwardssl

      I think we all come to genealogy to find out who we are. For some of us the journey will be about finding missing pieces, for others it will be a long acknowledgement that something was missing. I both fear and hope this is the case for you.

      Know this, before you read another word, you have touched my heart. You have an ache and a longing in you that is captivating. It is like hearing a sad song sung so incredibly beautifully and pulled from such a deep place within that it binds the singer and listener in one solo performance. I hear you and I feel the achy places in you. I wish, so very hard, you could feel this virtual hug.  I know it comes from many here, who embrace you, now, as you are, in all your feelings, good and bad.

      Some of us come from broken places. The bad choices, spoiled promises and abandonment of those who should have been there for us hurt. Some people fill the broken places within with their own bad choices that repeat the very hurtful things that caused the problems in the first place.  You are not doing that. You have found a voice that conveys what you are feeling, but that turns it around. You let the world in, even though it has caused you pain, you still let it in. That is so achingly beautiful.

      "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."   So it is, that little light that aches for a better story, an ear to listen and some arms to hug away the bad times. I give them to you freely. We are, after all, making a journey together. And don't be afraid to tell the tale, sadness and all. It is the fuel for this little light of yours that I can see shining. In time, you will see it too. You are in the process of overcoming, and it is quite the thing to see.

      There is something to be said for becoming the candle that fights back against the darkness. You are becoming the candle, my friend. Thank you for having the courage to share that journey, pain and all, with people here.

      •  Tay Tay, you outdid yourself (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TayTay, klompendanser, edwardssl

        with your kindness. I just watched Odetta in little light of mine. I have heard her wisdom spoken many times but I had never heard her as she is in the video.

        I like her religious messages although I have always been more spiritual in my beliefs. She is something else uh? I just love the way she sings "little light of mine" and I feel what you say of my life. To write what you did for me tells me that you are listening.  Tay Tay your are so nice to take the time and energy to write such a moving message for me. Thank you.

        I am up to bat this coming Friday. I just finished my Open Thread that I will have publish for the group to read on the 21st.  At last I think I have reached the end of my journey, a journey that started with a dream I had of finding missing brothers and a father in the forest of my family tree. I am a tad depressed right now. I also replied to a comment larmos left for me yesterday, I think.

        I read your beautiful words with such care that I cannot help but feel so enlightened to be involved in a group that has members like you. Please rest assured that I took every words you wrote to my heart. I will never forget you Tay Tay. Never.

        I just told larmos that when my diary is put up on the board for reading, that no crying is allowed in Ole Texan diaries.

        Personally I felt touched by my own writing knowing that I have reached the end of the line, and still no father.

        Tay Tay, I hope you are having a wonderful weekend with your family. Those who love you truly.

        Old men tell same old stories

        by Ole Texan on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 03:46:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  we write on a progressive website (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          klompendanser, Desert Rose, edwardssl

          And that is no accident, my friend. We liberals are in the second chances business. We believe in helping people overcome bad breaks. We do it together, as a community.

          I am so sorry you were unable to find your father. I can feel in your writing how this grieves you. I am still glad you are going to tell the story.

          Some of the best loved stories are about characters who had to go through bad things. They are about the journey, how it changes a soul and gives wisdom and compassion to the main characters. I look forward to your upcoming story. I know it will be a journey of note.

          •  Good Morning Tay Tay. (0+ / 0-)

            It is good to find you here and read your kind words again. It is already 8:30 a.m. here in Milwaukee but I have been up for quite a while now. First I hope your new day goes perfect for you.

            Yes, journeys taken through this life sometimes find barriers and pitfalls, like I chose to describe my own journey. I really see nothing wrong or sinister in telling my story here. I have enjoyed sharing for the sake of warning, warning others that life is not all cotton candy laced. I am sure there are some here that cannot find the courage to write of their own pitfalls in life.

            More so if it involves family members. But I can understand that. I try very hard never to ask questions in that regards to no one. I have discovered that indeed here I have found a lot of wisdom oriented folks who have compassion and do not judge, but give heart felt advise.

            Thank you again Tay Tay

            Old men tell same old stories

            by Ole Texan on Sun Sep 16, 2012 at 06:40:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  my pleasure, my friend (0+ / 0-)

              Goodness, it did get a little emotional in this sub-thread.

              I'm going wa-wa-wa waltzing, waltzing with bears for a bit. LOL. And I will be contributing some original threads soon. We will, no doubt be swapping posts over that soon.

  •  I will take Oct 19th. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edwardssl, klompendanser

    Remember, you can't have crazy without az.

    by Desert Rose on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:59:19 PM PDT

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