Happy Birthday Bonnie Lane

Today would have been my mother’s eighty-ninth birthday. She broke my heart when she left me on that twenty-ninth day of June in 2002.

Schwegler, Bonnie Keep

Mom and her String of Fish

My mom was a little, spunky woman who could cuss like a sailor. I suppose that is because she had nine brothers. One summer weekend when I was about ten or eleven, my brother Bill and I were fishing with my mom at my grandfather’s clubhouse on the Gasconade River. Bill and I were standing on the bank fishing with our poles and bobbers. Mom was sitting in the Jon boat fishing with a rod, reel, and sinkers; no bobber for her. When we fished with mom and dad, they spent a lot of time putting worms on our hooks and getting our lines untangled. How they had the patience I’ll never know.

Mom was a good fisherman. I’ll never forget the day when she caught a fish and was reeling it in. Suddenly she stood up and started hitting at something with her rod. She was cussing a blue streak the whole time saying, “You S.O.B., you’re not getting my fish.” (S.O.B. is the abbreviated version of what she really said.) At least I think that’s what she said. I was too shocked to really take in all of what she was saying because, to my horror, I saw the head of a water moccasin raising itself up out of the water coming after the fish on the end of her line. Its mouth was wide open so I could see the white lining of its mouth. That little lady stood her ground and beat the snake back and successfully pulled the fish into the boat.

I guess S.O.B. was one of her favorite words. I surmise that because when I was five years old we were driving to visit my grandmother and grandfather. I was sitting in the back seat between my mom and dad talking to them when a large truck came along side of us, which scared the life out of me. My reaction was to blurt out, “You S.O.B.” My mother turned to me and said, “What did you say?” I repeated my salty words. I learned that day that I was to do as my mother said, not as she did.

Lane, Bonnie Keep

Mom was tough as nails. She made us play outside in all weather but rain. She was a stern disciplinarian. But I never felt she was unfair in her discipline. She wasn’t one for church, but encouraged us to go to church with friends if they asked. She had a spiritual side; she introduced me to the writings of Norman Vincent Peale. She was my mother, but managed to parent while being my friend. We didn’t have much money, but she made sure we had what we needed. And she always, always put us kids before herself.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Memories of Spring

Spring has come early to my little corner of the earth. Every year I look forward to the sun and pop of color that springs up from lawns and trees. Maybe that’s why they call this time of year spring. 

I got my love of flowers from my mother. But even at a young age, I remember the flora and fauna of my homes as much as the details of the houses we lived in.

Our first house in Maplewood, Missouri was on Greenwood Avenue. My parents rented a three-room house that sat behind a larger house. This little house was probably the servant’s quarters. The big and small houses are long gone replaced by an apartment building.  

To get to our house from the street we had to walk on a sidewalk that wended its way along the side of the house to a gate in the back that divided our yard from the yard of the big house. Along this path to the back was a row of Rose of Sharon bushes. I’ll never forget the abundance of pink and white flowers when the bushes bloomed.  

Perhaps I remember the persimmon trees in our yard the most because my mother would yell at us not to walk on the persimmons after they fell because we would drag the mess in on our shoes. Also in the yard was a bush that had long, thin branches. This was the source of the dreaded “switch” of which my brother Bill and I were threatened if we misbehaved. It only took feeling the switch once and from that time on we quickly fell in line with the mere mention of “do you want me to get a switch?”


Corn Flower or Bachelor Button

Our second house was on the corner of Rannels and Oakland Avenue in Maplewood. It was in this house that my love for flowers grew. My mother loved peonies and planted two pink bushes close to the sidewalk that led to our back-door from the street. On the east fence was a long row of pink, white, and blue cornflower also known as bachelor buttons. The flowers were so prolific that they reseeded themselves every year. On the south side was a bed of purple iris that extended the entire length of the fence. In the middle of the yard was a circle of a variety of roses. The fragrance of a rose today takes me back to that little yard I enjoyed so much.


Peonies and Iris in My Garden

By today’s standards, this was the simplest of gardens, but it was loved by my mother and sowed the seeds of my love for gardening today. So I welcome all that goes with spring– sunshine, the greening of grass, the yellow of the daffodils, and the aroma of flowering trees and bushes. Thanks Mom!

Aub Hood, from Mississippi to Tennessee

Aub Hood was born in Itawamba County, Mississippi about 1859, a few years before the start of the Civil War, or the War of Northern Aggression if you are a Southerner. The Civil War most likely played a huge role in Aub’s formative years.  His father was Joshua Hood and his mother was Margaret Johnson Hood. Both were born in Alabama and moved to Itawamba County sometime in the mid-1850s. He came from a large family. Aub had ten brothers and two sisters. He was one of the middle children.

When Aub was about four or five, his father Joshua enlisted for six months in 2nd Regiment of the Mississippi Calvary, Company E of the Confederate Army. Joshua’s absence was felt by the family. He enlisted about the time the crops were ready for harvest. The oldest son, James, was only about twelve at the time so Joshua’s brothers probably helped with the harvest.

A marriage record from Itawamba County, dated 5 June 1878, was located for A. Hood and M. I. Pennington, which I believe is the marriage record for Aub and Amanda Bell Pennington. Aub and Amanda were not found in the 1880 US Census, but were living close to Aub’s family based upon tax records and a deed where the older Hood children deeded land to their mother and younger siblings.

Hood, Margaret Etal, Itawamba County, Court House, Deed Rec. Book 25, Page 472

By 1900, Aub, Amanda, and their six children had moved one hundred and ninety-five miles north to Lake County, Tennessee. Lake County sits across the Mississippi River from Pemiscot County which is located in the Bootheel of Missouri. The land is part of the upper Mississippi Delta and suitable for farming.

Auburn was about forty* and Amanda was thirty-four in 1900. They were married twenty-one years. Amanda had birthed six children, two of whom had died. Their four older children, Margaret, William Jesse, Prentis E., and Ruberta were all born in Mississippi. The two younger children, Silas and Mary Denny were born in Tennessee. So it appears the family arrived in Tennessee sometime prior to 1895.

The Civil War ended large commercial farming in Lake County and for thirty-years families were forced to live by subsistence farming. Between 1890 and 1900 things began to change. The boll weevil was devastating cotton crops in southern states, the demand for cotton was on the increase, and the climate was beginning to warm enough to grow cotton as far north as Illinois. Aub and family arrived around the time this switch to cotton was taking place.[1]

The family lived in a rented home which meant they were renting land on which to farm. A search for land records for Aub came up empty, which supports the fact that they were too poor to own land. They eked out a living from the soil. Margaret, age nineteen, helped Amanda with chores and looking after the younger children. William, who was fourteen, helped Aub with the farming.

In 1905 Bossie was born and Georgie followed in 1908. By 1910, Amanda was a widow. Aub had died sometime after 1908 when Georgie was born and before 1910 when the census was taken. At this time it’s unknown where Aub is buried.

This family of Hood’s managed to survive the aftermath of deprivation that followed the Civil War in north east Mississippi. They made their way to Tennessee where farming was as difficult as it was in Mississippi. Aub died around the age of forty. Life and farming took their toll on him.




*The 1900 census showed that Auburn Hood was fifty-six years old. This is in conflict with the 1860 and 1870 census records. Despite the fact that the ages between the documents are in conflict, I believe that this is the same person based upon the date of the marriage record and the number of years Auburn and Amanda were married.

[1]David Donahue and Brenda Fiddler, Lake County Agriculture,http://www.tnyesterday.com/wtf/wtf-02.html : accessed 11 Mar 2016, Citing Marvin Downing, Editor, Published by the University of Tennessee, Martin, 1979.

Aub Hood, Itawamba, DNA, and Elvis Presley

The work of a genealogist is a lot of research, some good analysis of facts, and a little serendipity. Well serendipity has struck this genealogist a few times in the search for my great-grandfather, Aub Hood. And recently it struck again in the form of Mona Mills. But I’ll come back to her in a little while.

I have known for some time that my grandmother Ruberta Hood Lane, better known as Ma, was born in Mississippi and that her father’s name was Aub Hood. No matter how hard I tried, I could never find any online records for my grandmother or Aub Hood in Mississippi. I knew that my father came from Lake County, Tennessee so I tried to find census records for that location…nothing for Aub. They say when you don’t find someone in the census records you should search for others in the family. So I searched the 1900 U.S. census for Silas Hood, one of my grandmother’s brothers. Lo and behold, there was the family. I would never have found this record for the family had I searched for my grandmother’s name because she was enumerated as Rupert A. Hood. My great-grandfather was incorrectly enumerated as Tusturu Hood. So I had found my first record for Auburn Hood.

Then serendipity struck again. This time I connected with a third cousin on one of the internet message boards. He was searching for information about Aub Hood as well. He told me that his family had visited his grandparents in Itawamba County, Mississippi during the summers as he was growing up and he had gathered many stories about his family during the visits. Aub Hood was the son of Joshua Hood and Margaret Johnson Hood. Aub had disappeared and no one knew where he went.

So the search turned to Itawamba County, Mississippi. There I found Asburn Hood, age one, living in the family of Joshwa (Joshua) Hood in the 1860 census and Osborn Hood, age eleven, living in the Joshuaway (Joshua) Hood family in 1870. Aub, Asburn, Auburn, Osborn…I was getting confused by all of these conflicting names. And the ages of the child in these census records conflicted with the age of Auburn in the 1900 census. I still had my doubts that I had found the correct family. But then I found an 1878 marriage record for A. Hood and M. I. Pennington. This record tied in perfectly with the birth of their first child Margaret in 1880 so there was hope.

Ferguson, Tonya and Mills, Mona

Mona Mills (L) Tonya Ferguson

In the meantime I had sent in my autosomal DNA to be processed with Family Tree DNA and I had joined the Hood DNA project. Knowing very little about DNA at the time, the head of the study steered me to a DNA-match, Michael Mills. This is where serendipity strikes again. Michael just happens to live in Itawamba County. And Mona is the wife of Michael, and very involved in the history of the county. In fact, both Michael and Mona are published writers and very busy people.

Just recently I had the opportunity to visit Mona in Itawamba County. I can’t think of anything better than spending time doing research with someone who lives in and is heavily involved in the genealogy and history of the area. For two days we discussed the family, searched for and found records in the Court House in Fulton, and visited a portion of the cabin where Joshua Hood lived, and where most likely Aub Hood was born. I found out that Mona’s mother is a Pennington, as was my great-grandmother Amanda Bell Pennington, but our DNA doesn’t match. But that’s a mystery that has to be solved on another day. I am very thankful for Mona’s time and expertise in finding my family.

And what does Elvis Presley have to do with all of this? Well his grandmother, Minnie Mae is the daughter of William Hood, who happened to be the brother of Aub, my great-grandfather. So Elvis and I are third cousins. How’s that for name dropping? For more information on Minnie Mae Hood go to this link.

And watch for an additional post on Aub Hood.

Elizabeth Ellen Smith Pope

Smith, Elizabeth Ellen Blog

Elizabeth Ellen Smith Pope

Living in an age when women have their own identity it bothers me that so many of our women ancestors have little identity, not like our male ancestors. They may be listed in wills and probate documents and possibly in deeds. You might be able to find out when they were born, married, and died. But many times they and their maiden names are lost to time.                                     

The further back you go there are no photos to capture their essence on a certain day and time in their lives. My husband’s great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Ellen Smith was fortunate to have had her picture taken, albeit later in life when the bloom had faded from her cheeks.                                  E

Elizabeth Ellen Smith was born in Illinois on 5 December 1849. She was born to Eliza Ann (Ellen) Armstrong and Colby/Coalby Smith. The family had moved from Kentucky about 1842 to Chatham, Sangamon County, Illinois where the family was enumerated in the 1850 census. There were five children in the family ranging in ages from ten to under one year. James was the oldest and the only boy. Elizabeth was the youngest of four girls. Her three older sisters were Harriett Isabelle, Martha, and Mary. Another boy, Joseph, was born three years later.

In 1855 the family experienced great loss when their mother Eliza Ann died. Elizabeth was six years old. On 24 September 1866, her father married Melvina Thompson. From this union came five additional children, Noah, Lucy, Clara, Agnes, and Alma.

In the early 1860s, the family lived on a prosperous farm. James most likely helped Colby with the farming and the older girls helped with household chores while attending school.

 At the age of sixteen, Elizabeth left home marrying William David Pope on 24 September 1866. They were so young and, like most youngsters, filled with hope for the future. The future looked bright when Minnie Alice, their first daughter, was born on 13 December 1868 when Elizabeth was eighteen. Heart-break would descend upon the family when one month-old Minnie died on 19 January 1869, followed by the death of Elizabeth’s sister Mary on 1 July. Like her husband William, she would know loss several times during her lifetime.

Perhaps because of the loss of their child, or perhaps because her father and step-mother were going to Kansas to start a new life, Elizabeth and William packed up their belongings sometime in 1869 and headed to Kansas where they settled in Franklin, Bourbon County, Kansas.

Mary Louisa, Elizabeth’s second child, was born in Kansas on 28 April 1870 followed by Annettie Bell in 1872, and Hattie Lu Ella in 1874. On 20 March 1877, Walter Colby, her first son, was born. Elizabeth would know sorrow again when Walter died on 20 February 1879. She was twenty-nine and had lost her mother, her sister, and two babies.

For reasons unknown, the family was back in Blue Mound in 1880. The farm was profitable based upon the 1880 agricultural census. The accounting of the usual farm animals, cows, horses, pigs, and chickens appeared on the census. However there were one hundred and fifty chickens producing approximately three hundred dozen eggs per year. That’s a lot of chickens and eggs. Besides the household chores of cooking, washing, tending to the children and the family garden, most likely Elizabeth was responsible for the chickens as well. Perhaps the older children helped. With that many chickens they would have had a huge egg hunt every day. And Elizabeth was pregnant, delivering Arthur Lee on 14 August.

Again the family was on the move sometime after Arthur’s birth. This move landed the Pope’s in the Fort Scott area of Bourbon County, Kansas where they stayed. Their last daughter Lola Devin, my husband’s grandmother, was born 5 April 1883.

The area where they lived was close to the Missouri-Kansas border. Elizabeth made sure the children attended school, sending them to Clarksburg School. Both Arthur and Lola graduated from this school.

Pope, Lola Birth Place Ft. Scott KS

A picture of the family homestead many years after the farm was sold.

In 1900, Hattie, Arthur, and Lola were still living at home. By 1910 all the Pope children had fled the nest but living with William and Elizabeth was a ward named Silas Hoffman. On 13 April 1911, Elizabeth’s married life came to an end when William, her partner for forty-four years, died. His confidence in her showed when he appointed her executrix for the estate.

We don’t know how long Elizabeth lived on the farm. A search of deeds would probably tell us. But like most widows at that time they went to live with their children, sometimes staying with one, and sometimes moving between children. In 1920 Elizabeth was living with her daughter Hattie in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Hattie had married Walter Ferguson. Lola, her sister, had married Walter’s brother Thomas.

On 2 December 1929, Elizabeth Ellen Armstrong Pope died at the age of seventy-nine at the home of her daughter Lola and son-in-law Tom Ferguson. They lived at 679 Clark Avenue in Webster Groves, Missouri. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage with contributing factors of high blood pressure and old age.

Tom Ferguson worked for the railroad and most likely was responsible for shipping Elizabeth’s body back to Kansas where she is buried with her husband, the man she shared both good times and bad, in Maple Grove Cemetery in Fort Scott, Kansas.

From Blue Mound to Fort Scott Kansas…the Life of William David Pope

Pope, William D Picture

William David Pope

William David Pope, my husband David’s great-grandfather, was born to a family of early pioneers who settled in the Blue Mound area of Macon County, Illinois about 1827. He was born on 8 October 1848 to James Madison Pope and Louisa Hanna Taylor Pope. William was the oldest of six boys: Thomas John, Charles Willis, Millard Fillmore, James Franklin, and Zachariah Taylor. A sister, Sarah, died in infancy. He, like his ancestors, was a farmer all of his life.

The family land was flat with the exception of a cone-shaped hill in the distance that took on a blue hue. The area was called Blue Mound. Mosquito Creek, a narrow rivulet of water, ran through the farm. At one time the family farm had forests but, whether as a means to stay warm or a way of making extra money, a great deal of the forest slowly faded into memory. The land was rich and productive. And his father James was a successful farmer and a good role model for his children.

No doubt William had a normal childhood. He attended school and most likely helped his father with the farm. All of that ended at the age of fourteen when his father and uncle Zachariah left home in August 1862 to serve in the Civil War. Four months later in December his father was dead, dying of measles and cardiac obstruction at Camp Butler in Sangamon County, Illinois. About the same time his uncle, Zachariah, died in the same camp. Two lives wasted to disease, neither one able to serve their cause. Being the oldest boy a good deal of the burden of running the farm fell to him and his mother. Fortunately he had a large extended family to help out, but the shadow of the deaths of his father and uncle settled over the family during this time.

William’s life would change again 24 September 1866 when he married Elizabeth Ellen Smith. He was seventeen and she was sixteen. They were two youngsters, no doubt eager to make their way in the world. Two years later this young couple would experience loss when their one month-old daughter Minnie Alice died on 19 January 1869. She is buried in Pope Cemetery in Blue Mound.

This young couple must have been fearless as they set out for Kansas in 1869 where they settled in Franklin, Bourbon County. There is evidence that Elizabeth’s father and step-mother left Illinois about the same time and settled in the same area as the young couple. Perhaps they traveled together. No matter the circumstances it took a lot of gumption to leave the known behind.

Their second child Mary Louisa was born in Kansas on 28 April 1870 followed by Annettie Bell in 1872, and Hattie Lu Ella in 1874. On 20 March 1877, Walter Colby, their first son, was born. Again sorrow filled the family home when Walter died on 20 February 1879. At the young age of thirty, William knew heart-ache. He had lost his father, his uncle, his little sister, and two children.

Sometime between 1874 and 1880, William and Elizabeth were back in Blue Mound, Illinois with their three girls. William, like his father, was a prosperous farmer. His farm included sixty-three acres of land that was tilled or fallow and three acres of land in permanent pasture. The value of land, equipment, and livestock was close to $3,000, a goodly sum for that time period. He had two horses, two milk cows, one cow, two calves, fifteen swine, and one-hundred fifty poultry. The farm produced eggs, sixteen hundred bushels of Indian corn, one-hundred twenty-five bushels of oats, four-hundred seventy-four bushels of wheat, and forty gallons of molasses. It appears that he did this with the sweat of his own brow and the help of one hired hand. William was thirty-one. And of course Elizabeth helped when not tending the family garden and seeing to the children.

During 1880, Arthur Lee, their only surviving son was born on 14 August. Sometime after Arthur’s birth, probably early the next year, the family was on the move again. Who knows why the Pope’s decided to move away from their established farm and extended family. Perhaps the fertility of the land in Illinois was failing or the wide-open spaces were calling. Whatever it was, the Pope’s landed in the Fort-Scott area of Kansas and stayed. Their last daughter Lola Devin, my husband David’s grandmother, was born 5 April 1883.

As train transportation continued to expand at the end of the century, the Pope’s traveled back and forth to Macon County. They attended the funeral of William’s mother, Louisa, in 1896 and traveled to a family reunion in September of 1897. The reunion was covered by The Daily Republic Newspaper in their 20 September 1897 edition and read:

“Pope Family Reunion

Pleasant Gathering Sunday at House of Z. T. Pope on West Main Street

On Sunday there was a pleasant family reunion at the home of Zach T. Pope, district manager of Singer Sewing Machine Company, 1765 North Main Street. There are six brothers in the family, and all were present except Charles Pope, of Morrisonville, whose absence was greatly regretted. Those present were William D. Pope and wife, of Ft. Scott, Kan.; J. F. Pope and family of Morrisonville; Thomas J. Pope and wife, of Blue Mound; Zach T. Pope, of Decatur and family; and Uncle Willis Pope, of Lincolnville, Kan., the total number present being 21. A splendid dinner was served and all day the families were at the home engaging in social converse, and listening to stories of the early days in Macon county and life in Kansas, related by Uncle Willis.  The Pope brothers will probably visit the state fair at Springfield next week. It was the first time the brothers had met at one place since the death of their mother a few years ago. All of the brothers except Zach are farmers and are doing well.”

William died on 13 April 1911 at the age of 62 and is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Fort Scott. He and Elizabeth were married forty-four years. As a testament to her, he appointed her as the executrix for his estate. He left each of his children $500 with the remainder of the personal property to Elizabeth and at her death the land was sold and proceeds divided among their children.

Pope, William D - 1900 United States Federal Census

William was an enumerator for the 1900 US Federal Census for Scott Township. His handwriting was neat and readable.

Not only was he a successful farmer, but during his lifetime William was a member of the Mason’s Rising Sun Lodge No. 8 in Bourbon County. Was he a pillar of the community? No one knows, but given how well he managed his farm and took care of his children and his wife, he would have been judged to be a success.


In Search of Virginia Williams

Like most women born in the 1800s, little is known about my great-grandmother Virginia (Jennie) Williams. Women were enumerated in U.S. census records after 1840 and their names may have appeared in deeds. But it was a man’s world and records for women are lacking.

According to her obituary, she was born near Cooper Hill in Osage County, Missouri on 15 Nov 1869. However, her death certificate showed that she was born on 15 Mar 1869. The fifth of ten children, she was born to Henry Williams and Syrena Simpson Williams. The family consisted of five boys and five girls and one child who died in infancy.

As an older girl of a farm family and later a farmer’s wife, Jennie would have sewn her own clothes made of wool, cotton, calico, or muslin. Sometimes the cloth would have been dyed. In the 1880s and 1890s, the dresses and skirts would have been long and full, the neckline of the blouses and dresses would have been high, and the sleeves would have been long. The dress would have been covered by an apron. These flowing garments were always a concern when cooking over an open hearth.  The clothing would have been hot in the summer but warm in the winter. Bustles were the rage in the 1880s but I doubt very much if Jennie would have had a bustle in her wardrobe.

Churning Butter

Churning Butter, Courtesy of Library of Congress


Besides caring for her children, she would have been responsible for milking the cows, churning the butter, making soap, tending to the family garden, caring for the chickens, and many of the other responsibilities that were required in running a farm.

Jennie, her mother, father, and siblings could read and write. There was probably little time to read however. Because all the children were able to read and write I assume that they went to school.

On 3 Dec 1891, Jennie married Joseph Burt at the age of twenty-two. Being one of the middle girls in her family she was well qualified to take care of her first child Elmer who was born nine months later on 5 Sep 1892. Five additional children, Edward, Everett, Curtis, and my grandmother Estella May, and Maimi were born during the next seven years. Maimi would die in infancy. Between 1901 and 1915, Otis, Irene, Amy, Ernest, Clara and Ransom were born.

Jennie died on 4 Sep 1915 of gasterectasis, a generally rare but fatal disease. Ransom, her last child was born on 16 Feb 1915. Whether or not his birth contributed to her death is unknown. Women in those days were so run-down from work and childbirth. However she was young, just forty-five years of age at her death. Twelve children in twenty-three years probably took their toll on her. And my great-grandfather Joseph was left to care for all of the children.

Years later my grandmother, Stella still mourned the loss of her mother. She was only twenty when she lost her mother. And as the oldest daughter she would bear the weight of helping to take care of the children until she married at the age of twenty-eight.

I would love to know what Jennie was like. Did she have a happy marriage? Did she love her children or was she weighed down by the sheer number of children she birthed? All but one of her children lived to adult-hood. Was this a testimony to the love and care she provided for her family? I would like to believe so. Hopefully someday I will meet a relative that can fill in the blanks for me that no historical record can. So if you are a Williams’ descendant with a picture or story to share, give me a holler’.

Great-Grandfather Julius Schwegler

Imagine being four years old and traveling steerage on a ship from Switzerland via Southhampton, England, to New York City. The trip would have taken about six or seven weeks, a long time for someone so young. Julius Schwegler came with his father Joseph, his brother Francis Anton who was one year old, his step-mother Anna Schwegler, Peter Schwegler, and Catherine Graninger. They arrived on 20 Jul 1863. Julius Schwegler was my great-grandfather.  

Julius was born in Switzerland on 31 Jan 1859. Anna was not the mother of Julius. His mother had died and Joseph married Anna prior to their journey. Anna however was the mother of Francis.

Upon arrival to this country the immigrants went directly from New York to Centralia, Illinois. How they got there is anyone’s guess. It is possible that they took a train from New York to Chicago and from there traveled to Centralia via wagon. However they traveled it must have been long and arduous after having spent several weeks on a ship.

Schwegler Julius  Sarah (Ridenhour) Copy_edited-1

Julius and Sarah Ridenhour Schwegler

While in the Centralia area Anna gave birth to Joseph. Every indication is that she died sometime after his birth. By 1865 the motherless family was in Gasconade County, Missouri. On 22 Mar 1867, his father Joseph married Anna Fehner Kallewyne. Julius was eight years of age, Francis (also known as Frank) was five, and Joseph was almost three. Another brother Hann was born in 1867 and most likely died shortly after his birth. Benjamin, the last son of Joseph, was born in 1868.


A few years later, in 1870, Joseph died. It must have been very difficult for Julius to lose so many important members of his family by the age of eleven. Despite all of the upheaval in his life, Julius managed to attend school through the eighth grade.

After the death of Joseph, Anna, their step-mother, was appointed guardian and curator for the estate of Julius, Frank, and Joseph. Anna was cited by the judge of the probate court Jan 1874 for failing to settle the accounts of the estate of Julius. In March, Anna married Friederick Leimkuehler. A few months later, Friederick was appointed guardian and curator for the estate of the three boys. Anna’s failure to settle the accounts was most likely a matter of not filing the paperwork in a timely manner rather than an indication that she was not a good guardian.

 The 1876 census shows the family raising four mules, eight head of cattle, six sheep, and thirty-five hogs. And the farm produced five hundred bushels of wheat, three hundred bushels of corn, ten bushels of oats, fifteen pounds of wool and five tons of hay. Those older boys were busy.

Whether he got along his step-parents or not, Julius was no longer living with the family in 1880. He is shown in the census living with N. B. Jones and wife in Jefferson Township, Maries County, Missouri. He was twenty-one years of age. He would stay in Maries County for the rest of his life.

Schwegler Men, Left Harrison, Ben, Harley, and father Julius

The Schwegler Men. Left Wright, Ben, Harley, and their father Julius


Julius married Sarah Frances Ridenhour on 28 Nov 1880. This union lasted forty-four years and produced six children: Oliver, Harley, Benjamin, Harrison (my grandfather), Ida, and Rainey. Oliver and Ida died at an early age. The beautiful picture of them, most likely as newly-weds, shows them in their youth looking forward to a promising life together.

Following in the footsteps of his father, it must have been a proud day when Julius was admitted a citizen of the United States on 5 Nov 1881. Transcribed his naturalization record reads:

Julius Schwegler a native of Switzerland, who applies to be admitted a citizen of the United States, comes and proves to the satisfaction of the Court, by the testimony of Kasten Buschmann and Louis Hoffmann two credible witnesses, citizens of the United States, that he arrived in the United States a minor, under the age of eighteen years, that he has resided in the United States at least five years, including the years of his minority; and in the State of Missouri at least one year, immediately preceding this application during which time he has conducted himself as a man of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same; and the said applicant declaring here in open Court, upon oath, that for three years last past it has been bonefide his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and he declaring also upon oath, that he will support the Constitution of the United States and that he doth also absolutely renounce and abjure forever all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign power, prince, state and sovereignty whatsoever, and particularly to the Republic of Switzerland of whom he is at present a subject, therefore, the said JULIUS SCHWEGLER is admitted a citizen of the United States.

Julius was a farmer in Maries County most of his life. And Sarah took care of the needs of the family. I don’t know much about my great-grandmother. She died of chronic nephritis with valvular heart disease as a secondary factor on 17 Aug 1924. Julius would go on to live another nineteen years.  

In 1940 Julius was living with his son Benjamin. During the last months of his life Julius lived with his son Harley and daughter-in-law Leona. He died on 21 Feb. 1943 at the age of eighty-four. A very religious man, he is buried in the Bethel Cemetery in Paydown, Missouri.

Thanks to my second cousin William Schwegler who provided me with many of the personal details about the life of our great-grandfather Julius including the fact that Anna was not his mother. Most of the details he told the family, despite the fact that he was somewhat senile, could be verified in records.

Joseph Schwegler …Six and a Half Years an American

I am descended from Joseph Schwegler of Switzerland. He was my great-great grandfather on my mother’s side of the family. Schwegler is a derivative of the Middle High German word swegele meaning pipe or flute or the nickname for someone who plays a flute.[1]

Schwegler Joseph Sr _edited-2

Joseph Schwegler

Joseph was born in Switzerland about 1829. He immigrated with his family to the United States. He came with his wife Anna and his sons Julius and Francis. Franz name was later changed to Frank. Julius was four and Fraz was one. In the last days of his life, Julius would tell family members that Anna was not his mother. Also included with the family were traveling companions, Peter Schwegler and Catherine Graninger.

The family traveled steerage on the SS Hansa traveling from Wohlhausen, modern day Wulhusen, located about thirteen and a half miles west of Lucerne, the capitol of Canton, Lucerne, Switzerland. In 1863 the trip would have probably taken four to six weeks to cross the Atlantic Ocean. They arrived in the city of New York on 20 Jul 1863. I often wonder who he left behind. Did he watch their faces as he left the town? Did he shed a tear for the family and country he would never see again? No doubt he had high hopes for his new life in America.

The family went immediately from New York to Centralia, Illinois. Most likely there were family or friend connections in the community that drew them to the area. The third son, Joseph, was born there in 1864. There are two hypothesis as to why the family did not stay in the area, one being Joseph was too poor to buy oxen needed to plow the sod, as that area of Illinois was part of the vast American prairie. The second being Anna passed away shortly after the birth of Joseph.

From the Centralia area the family moved about one hundred and fifty miles west to Gasconade County, Missouri. Peter Schwegler stayed behind because he volunteered to be a “substitute” to fight in the Civil War for a prominent citizen of Centralia. Joseph and Peter could have been brothers. Unfortunately we don’t know what their relationship was.

Joseph worked as a farm hand for a wealthy widow named Anna Fehner Kallewyne. Other records show her last name as Kalteweihr. Joseph soon married Anna on 22 Mar 1867. From this union came two more sons, Hann and Benjamin. Hann either died at birth or shortly thereafter. Benjamin was born in 1868.

While the marriage record shows that Joseph and Anna were married in 1867, a land record dated 4 Oct 1866 shows that the two were married and signed a promissory note to pay Diedrich Weidemann one thousand dollars for a piece of land in township forty-three, range six west in Gasconade County. The land contained two hundred acres (more or less). The promissory note was due four years from the date signed. Anna made good on the note on 5 Oct 1871.

A few months later, on 15 Oct 1867, Joseph appeared before the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Gasconade County to swear upon his oath his intention to become a citizen of the United States and denounce his allegiance to the Republic of Switzerland.

Joseph’s dreams of the new life in American came to an end on 28 Feb 1870  when he died at the age of forty-one. He had only been in the country for a little more than six and a half years. He is buried in the Schwegler-Myers cemetery, a little cemetery located on the border of Gasconade and Osage Counties. Anna Schwegler would go on to become the curator for his estate and guardian for my great grandfather Julius.

I am indebted to my second cousin, Bill Schwegler. While I have many of the documents supporting the events of the life of Joseph, it is the stories that were handed down from my great-grandfather Julius at the end of his life to Bill’s mother that adds the humanness to Joseph. And Bill graciously shared those stories and pictures with me.

[1] Ancestry.com, Schwegler Family History (http://www.ancestry.com) : accessed 15 Jan 2016), Citing Dictionary of American Family Names, ©2013, Oxford University Press








Remembering Christmas Past

Our youngest son and wife are off with prayers for their safe journey home. I’ve turned to “undressing” the 2015 Christmas tree of its finery. Our tree is not a glitzy, glamorous tree filled with big shiny balls and glittery ribbon. Rather it is a tree of all Christmas pasts filled with ornaments gathered through the years representing the ever-changing moments in our life and the lives of our children.

Our first hand-made Santa ornament and a sugar and icing ornament made in a wooden mold from Germany


Our first ornaments were hand-made. Being short on funds we went to the dime store and purchased craft items that turned into Angels floating on clouds, Santa Claus, and other shiny orbs. Only the Santa remains.

One of my favorites is an Angel of gold paper and a white doily for wings made by our oldest son when he was in kindergarten. Today it is a tattered Angel but no less loved. This ornament was the first of many other ornaments made by the children while in school and cub scouts. The last “school-made” ornament to hang on our tree was crafted by our granddaughter Mollie last year.

Cherished ornaments include egg white and sugar ornaments that my mother and I purchased from a gentleman in south St. Louis County. These ornaments were made using wooden molds brought to the United States from Germany. The ornaments are fragile works of art.

Christmas Ornament2

Through the years we have added to our home-made ornaments and been given many more from family and friends. There is a wooden ornament painted by my mother, a little paper church with stained glass windows made by my brother, and vintage ornaments that hung on my husband’s childhood trees.

We have decorated 48 Christmas trees. Each year, as the ornaments are hung on the tree, there is anticipation and hope for another Christmas to be celebrated and remembered. And each year as the ornaments are taken from the tree there is a little bit of nostalgia as they are put to bed for another year. 

Our parents decorated their Christmas trees and the circle of life has gone on as we and our children have decorated ours. Merry Christmas to all and let the memory of your Christmas warm your heart for the year to come.