Monday, January 23, 2017

George Henry Connell 1865 - 1902 (part 2 of 2)


Going back to 1915 to follow up on the other kids ...

George and Mary married in about 1914.  Their first child, John, lived only two weeks.  Little George arrived in 1916, Helen in 1918 and Anna in 1920. George had also been working at Wells Fargo, but by 1920 he had found a new job as a foreman in a steel mill. (Read the Chicago Historical Society's excellent article about the history of steel mills in Chicago.) Something didn't work out between George and Mary, ending in divorce. In 1927 George remarried Melba Larsen, stenographer daughter of Norwegian immigrants. In 1930, George was doing clerical work for a machine factory, and by 1940 he and Melba were running a business, a "working man's supply store".  George and Melba had no children of their own. He died in 1963; she in 1980. They are buried, and I presume were living, in the Wisconsin Dells area, a popular outdoor vacation spot (fishing, camping, boating, etc., and in recent years water parks).  Meanwhile, Mary Sedlak Connell raised (or based on their presence in the census at least had primary custody of) the kids. In 1930, the kids aged 9 to 13 and in school, Mary was not working, so I wonder how she supported the family. She did have a boarder, and perhaps some help from ex-husband George or her own family. By 1940, Anna was no longer there. I was not able to find her again.  Mary and Helen worked packing candy, Mary part time and Helen full, though even Helen had only worked forty weeks in the past year.  George had completed high school and was working nearly full time as an accountant in a life insurance office.  They also still had a boarder. That's the last I know about their lives.  Mary was a factory worker at the time of her death in 1957, at the age of 63. I could not find Helen again. I think I found son George buried in Brooks, Wisconsin, just a mile and a half from where his father was buried. Social Security records show a last known address in Chicago, so I have some uncertainty.  Assuming for now that our George is buring in Brooks, he was married to Joanne who died in 2002 and is buried there with him.

That brings me to the John, the third of George and Ellen McCabe Connell's children. In part 1 I mentionned that John married Josephine Huntscha, daughter of German immigrants Emanuel and Agnes Huntscha, in 1917 and was living in an increasingly crowded house with Mom and sister Theresa's family. At that time he was working for the US Army in a Chicago supply depot. By 1920, John and Josephine had found an apartment of their own, John was selling electrical supplies and their daughter, Ruth was a year old. Jack, jr. was born in 1921, Marian in 1921, Chuck in 1924, and Nell in 1931. I couldn't find the family in 1930, but by 1940 John and Josephine had started a "lunch room" restaurant. Josephine and the kids (once they were in high school) waited tables there. Sometime in the late '40s, John and Josephine acquired (don't know whether they purchased or built it) the Parker Lake Resort in Oxford, Wisconsin, in the Wisconsin Dells. I imagine these were rental cabins or a motel on the lake with a swimming area.  They had been operating the Resort for about 25 years when John passed away there in 1972. He appears to be buried by himself near Oxford, so I imagine that Josephine sold the Resort and moved away. (On the other hand, free online burial records are far from complete, so she be buried nearby, too.) Having little information, I can't tell the the order of events in the kids lives. And I don't want to mention the grandchildren as many of them are probably still living.  Ruth and Chuck operated a couple of restaurants: Connell's in Chicago and Murphy's Romeo Cafe in Romeoville.  I can't tell when and for how long they operated the restaurants.  Ruth married John Regan.  She died in California in 2003.  Chuck was living in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, having completed college, when he married in the early '50s. He passed away in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2000. I believe Jack, jr. was living in Chicago in the early '70s, but have no information on marriage or family. I know only that Marian was married with the last name of Healy when she passed away in the Chicago area in 1967.  Nell married in the early '60s, also after completing college. I believe they raised their family in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.  The youngest of John and Josephine's children, she was the last to pass away, in 2015.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

George Henry Connell 1865 - 1902 (part 1 of 2)

A fifth post in a series on the descendants of Johanna Cussen and George Connell of Lodi, Wisconsin.

George continued the Connell exodus from Lodi to Chicago. Last recorded in Lodi as a 15 year old school boy in 1880, he married Nellie McCabe in about 1890 in Chicago. I had a hard time finding any information about Nellie. She (10 years old) and three of her siblings - Anastasia (8), Owen (8) and John (6) - were living in St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum in Chicago in 1880. (This is now the Cardinal Meyer Center.) One historical account of such institutions claims that most children in orphanages in the 19th century weren't actually orphans, but rather from single parent families in financial crisis. (Read the Chicago Historical Society's excellent article about the history of Chicago orphanages.) One record indicates that Ellen's father was Pat McCabe, but I haven't found any records of their family.  Nellie and George had three children in Chicago: Tessie (b. 1891), George (b. 1894) and John (b. 1897). In 1900, George was operating a saloon. [This may be a clue to Nellie's family. A Pat McCabe who ran a saloon in Chicago died in 1890, the same year that Nellie married George.  Perhaps they took over her father's bar? Perhaps his wife passed away in the late 1870s and a single barkeeper could not take care of four children under the age of 5, and brought them to the orphanage, expecting to remarry and retrieve them? I'll need more information to figure this out.]  George and Nellie and family lived near the stockyards. In 1902, George passed away.  Spouses dying and leaving widows/widowers with young children to raise seemed to be a macabre pattern in the family: George's father in 1877, one or both of Ellen's parents in the late 1870s, Catherine's husband in 1896, Maggie's husband in 1898, and now George.

Nellie raised the kids in Chicago. It looks like they moved into a smaller home in the Chicago stockyards area, south of the city, shared with meat workers.  The kids were working in 1910: 19 year old Theresa was getting paid to play the piano in "the park" (don't know if this was a park, or the name of a bar?), and 15 year old George was an office boy in a meat packing plant. 13 year old John was still in school. In 1913, Theresa married Daniel Bross, a clerk at Wells Fargo recently transferred (?) from New York City.  In about 1914, George married Hungarian-born Mary Sedlak. And in 1917, John married Josephine Huntscha, daughter of German immigrants Emanuel and Agnes Huntscha. By 1917, George and Mary had moved to their own apartment, but the grandchildren had been arriving at home. The family needed more space and, probably with the help of Daniel's while collar pay, could afford to move down the street.

By 1920, the kids were all raising their own families. Daniel was now keeping books for a meat business. Big changes had taken place in the "express" business (I "express" means fast transportation of people or things, a major part of Wells Fargo's business in the early '20s.) I don't completely understand,  but the US government forced the consolidation of the many express businesses in 1918, for some sort of war-related need. I believe that Wells Fargo had to close many, perhaps thousands of express business offices across the country, and Daniel may have lost his job there.  Nonetheless, their still fairly new quarters was now principally the Bross home, housing Theresa and Daniel, their three children - 5 year old George, 3 year old Helen and nearly 2 year old Bernadette - and Mom/Grandma, 49 year old Nellie. Sadly, young George passed away later that year. Three more kids arrived in the '20s: Daniel, jr. (b. 1921), June (b. 1923) and Loretta (b. 1928). By 1930 Daniel and Theresa had bought a house in the rapidly growing suburb of Homewood. Daniel was now doing clerical work in a dentist's office.  Whether working in the suburbs or riding one of the many new commuter trains into the city, I don't know. Two days shy of her 62nd birthday, in 1931, with 12 grandchildren, Nellie passed away. The Depression hit Homewood very hard, many losing their jobs and some their homes. Many lost their savings when the local bank closed suddenly in 1932. With few passengers to transport, the commuter trains to Chicago dwindled to just a few a day. The Bross family had moved back to Chicago and was renting a home there when Daniel passed away in 1938. In the last available census record, 1940, Theresa and all five kids, ages 11 to 23, are together.  The older kids were probably helping to pay the bills: Helen, Bernadette and Daniel, Jr. were all working in dental offices. Mom/Theresa took care of the home and June and Loretta, (16 and 11), still in school. Theresa passed away in 1978. I have little detail, and don't wish to post names of living children on line, but I do know that all five Bross kids married and have passed away.  All but Daniel, Jr. remained in the Chicago area.  Helen Bross Hattendorf passed away in 1981; Bernadette Bross Kissel in 1989, Daniel in 1995, June Bross Kosmos in 1989, and Loretta Bross McCaffery in 2004.

To be continued ....

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ellen 1861 - 1931 and Alice 1875 - 1966 Connell

Like her older sister, Ellen Connell also left for the Windy City. Since I have no information about them in the sixteen years from 1880, when they were both living at home in Lodi, to 1896, when Katie's first child was born in Chicago, it could be that they went to Chicago together.  When I first find Ellen in Chicago, she is 39 years old and living with her youngest sister, 24 year old Alice.  Both of them are dressmakers and seem to have plenty of work. In 1910, Ellen is still making dresses but living on her own. I can't find any record of her in subsequent years, until her death at the age of 69, still a dressmaker living in Chicago, in 1931. She is buried with her parents in St. Patrick's cemetery in Lodi, Wisconsin. (Her tombstone uses the name O'Connell.)

Alice seemed to live a whirlwind next 10 years. In 1904 she was married to Alfred Feiss in Denver, Colorado.  I haven't extensively researched this, but I believe that Alfred was the son of Adolph Feiss, the founder of San Francisco's Emporium Department Store. In 1910 I find them in Charleston, South Carolina, where Alfred's occupation strangely says just "Income". In 1911, Alfred was buried in Toledo, Ohio, next to Adolph and Laura Feiss, his parents. Alice and Alfred had had no children.  When Alice next appears in public records, she in a 57 year old widow, living in Portage. She remained in Portage until her death in 1966. (Death records say she died in Baba, but I haven't been able to figure out what this might mean.  There is no Baba, Wisconsin.  Perhaps nearby Baraboo?) She is buried by herself - at least, not with her family in Lodi, and not with husband Alfred - in St. Mary's Cemetery in Portage.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Only the Good Connells ... and the Common Connells

There must have been some sort of sickness in the Connell house in 1873. On March 13, 15-month old Frances passed away.  Just 6 days later, her 6 week old little brother, William, died. If not a sickness that afflicted the children, perhaps this was a tragedy related to the recent birth - a post partum depression or an inability to provide adequate care for the infants.  The next Connell born, Daniel in 1874, would also die young.  He was about 14 years old in 1888 when he passed away.  All three of these children are buried with their parents in St. Patrick's cemetery in Lodi. (As with the other family members buried at St. Patrick's, all their headstones say O'Connell.)

Although chronologically out of order, there are two other children about whom there is little to say.  John is 18 years old and in school when last seen with the family in Lodi in 1880. James is a 12 year old school boy that year, then seen just once more as a 31 year old unemployed salesman living with his mother in Portage in 1900. It is likely that they are in census and other records that I have seen, but their names are so common that I can't tell which ones are our family unless I find a mention of a mother's maiden name. For now, they remain unknown.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Katie Connell 1859 - 1944

Katie Connell was the oldest of George and Johanna's children, born in 1859 in Lodi. It's curious that per the 1940 census Katie had an 8th grade education, while the 1880 census says that 20 year old Katie was attending school. She moved to Chicago where she met Henry Heseltine, a recent immigrant from England. They probably married in about 1894, the year he became a US citizen.  Their daughter, Elizabeth was born in March of 1896 and Henry died just three months later.  The census says Catherine was a "compositor" - a typesetter for a printer - until at least 1910. I assume that Catherine struggled financially, since they moved from town to town, always near Chicago - Cicero, Oak Park, Harvey, Chicago, Villa Park - and her work changed to housework/servant/janitor. Elizabeth attended two years of college and became a public school teacher, living with her mother until her marriage in about 1921.

Elizabeth married Herman Kaehler, a Chicago cab driver.  Herman was a military veteran, though I don't know which conflict, if any.  He was a widow with four children - Ruth, Hazel, Marjorie and Patricia - aged 11 to 4 when he married Elizabeth.  They had all been living with his parents in 1920, and the kids were not with him in subsequent censuses, so I wonder if they were raised by their grandparents. I may have found Hazel (married name Miller) living in Deerfield with her husband and about four kids.  I believe she passed away in 1998.  I could not find the other kids as adults.

Herman Kaehler and Elizabeth Heseltine married in about 1921 and by 1930 had four children.  I'm not posting their names since some of them may still be living.  I think that life was hard for Herman and Elizabeth, too, though this may have been the norm during the Depression.  I can't find the family in 1930 in the census.  In 1940, Herman claimed a profession of brick layer, but had not worked in over a year. He was receiving some income, perhaps from a veteran's pension.  Elizabeth had a public works job as a nursing (?) school director.  Their 17 year old daughter was still in school, but their 16 year old son was not.  With an occupation of "new worker", not having found work in 13 weeks, with a 9th grade eduction, and being only 16 his prospects were probably not good. I was not able to find the kids as adults, nor death information for Herman and Elizabeth.  Elizabeth's mother, Katie Connell Heseltine, passed away at the age of 85 while living in Villa Park, near Elmhurst.  She may have been living with the Kaehlers. She is buried in Mt. Carmel cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

George and Johanna Cussen Connell in Lodi, Wisconsin ca. 1870

I sat down for a few hours to gather more information on the children of Johanna Cussen Connell.  Four days later, I'm posting some articles about these families.  As usual, dates and places only tell me where they lived. If you are related to any of these families and can share stories or more information, please contact me (find my e-mail in my "profile" link) or post a comment.


Johanna Cussen was born in Galbally, Ireland in 1836, travelling with her family to Newfoundland, Boston, and Fort Winnebago by about 1848. In about 1858 she married George Connell/O'Connell, I believe a recent immigrant from New Brunswick, Canada, and they settled in Lodi, about 25 miles south of Fort Winnebago. They were farmers. From 1860 to 1876 they had thirteen children in Lodi.  George died in 1877, leaving Johanna with 11 children between the ages of 1 and 18. Information is sparse, but I assume that life was difficult. Usually, someone stays with the elderly parent and works the farm, but by 1895 Johanna had moved to Portage, presumably having sold the farm, where she remained until her death in 1923. She is buried in the Catholic cemetery there with her husband, George, the three kids who died as children (Frances, age 2, William, age 1 month, Daniel, age 14), Mary, the lone daughter who remained in Lodi as an in-home servant and nurse her entire life, and Nellie, the only child to be returned to Lodi for burial.

I initially thought this family name was O'Connell.  Indeed, I stumbled across Johanna on FindAGrave.com, where volunteers post inventories of cemeteries, usually with photographs. Johanna Cushing O'Connell's grave marker is shown there, in St. Patrick's cemetery in Lodi, Wisconsin, as are five other members of the O'Connell family.  Having just extensively searched for George and Johanna's descendants, however, I now know that the cemetery is the only place where the name O'Connell was used. All appearances in the census, newspapers, birth, marriage and death records, etc., use the name Connell. The use of O'Connell in the cemetery is a mystery to me. I would suspect that a well-meaning descendant just got it wrong when they replaced headstones, but the stone for George appears to be an original (at least it looks very old), and it does say O'Connell.

I'll trace their descendants in the following posts.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mary Lang

Here is an example of how much work can be spent chasing down a relative that turns out to be unrelated.

While browsing through census records for information about my Donnelly (and related) family, I found a Mary Lang living with John and Catherine Gorman Murphy. Catherine is a granddaughter of my great great great grandparents, Patrick and Nancy Larkin Donley. Mary Lang is described as a niece. So I embarked on a search for the relationship between the Langs and the Gorman or Murphy family.

A search of historic newspapers revealed that Mary Lang was also a niece of the Murphys' next door neighbors, Alexander and Elizabeth Creighton, and that Mary was from Minnesota or Wisconsin. I'll skip all of the convoluted search details, but it included searches through newspapers, census records and cemetery records. After assembling a tree of over 100 people, I was finally able to find a distant link between families.

Mary G Lang was the daughter of Nicholas Lang and Mary Ann Dinnenny, born in 1885, probably in Waddington, New York.  In 1890, Mrs. Lang moved the family to Felton, Minnesota. I have not found any news of Nicholas, so am not sure whether he died or whether they split up. Living in Felton was Christopher Dinnenny and family, whom I believe to be Mary Ann's brother, and probably the reason for moving there. Mary Ann married Albert Fox in 1895. In 1908, Mary G returned to Waddington and spent the next four years with her aunt, Elizabeth Dinnenny Creighton. I'm not sure why she was living next door at the Murphys' in 1910.  Perhaps she was renting a room at their house. I'm guessing she was described as a niece of the Murphys because the true relationship was too complicated.

Mrs. Catherine Gorman Murphy's much younger first cousin on her father's side, John Augustus Gorman, was married to Anna Fay.  Anna's first cousin on her father's side, James Fay, was married to Mary Creighton, daughter of Mary Lang's aunt Elizabeth Dinnenny Creighton. Said another way, Mary Lang's first cousin's husband's first cousin's husband's first cousin is Mrs. Murphy. Or Mrs. Murphy is the first cousin of the husband of the first cousin of the husband of Mary Lang's first cousin. Mrs. Murphy is not Mary Lang's aunt, but the term was used to describe a generation difference in age and some not-simple relationship.

Even though all this work did not lead to Mary Lang being related, it did allow me to answer another difficult question in my family tree. Bridget Donley and Thomas Gorman's daughters, Catherine and Mary Ann, both married Murphys, John and Michael, respectively.  I was able to establish that John and Michael Murphy were brothers, sons of Elizabeth Stafford and Moses Murphy. While many of the individuals in this research are not related to me, I have added them to my family tree in order to show the string of relationships between the Murphys and their "niece", Mary Lang.