Category Archives: Vital Statistics

Sympathy Saturday – Childbed Fever…Or Not

Emily Jane Sweeney

It’s interesting how setting out to write a simple blog post can result in confusion and/or changes to the information I already  have on file. I searched my family tree data for “childbirth” for today’s post; after all, what could be more suitable for Sympathy Saturday than a death in childbirth? However, after latching on to Emily Jane Sweeney Fogle, my second cousin 5 times removed, it appears that though sympathy is called for – it cannot be targeted at death in childbirth.

Emily was born in 1821 in Liberty, Casey County, Kentucky, the daughter of Joel and Obedience (Edwards) Sweeney and great-granddaughter of Moses Sweeney. The second of eight children, she married William McDowell Fogle on 17 February 1841 in Casey County. Emily died, still in Liberty, Kentucky, on 14 October 1852. This much does match the information I already had on file from the Descendants of Moses Sweeney CD compiled by Harvey J. Sweeney. From there, though, a few facts begin to differ.

The Sweeney compilation indicates that Emily Jane was born 4 January 1821 and probably died in childbirth, and lists a total of six children of the couple, including an unnamed daughter who was born and died in Liberty in October 1852. The 1896 Kentucky Biographical Dictionary, as well as the image of Emily’s grave in Liberty’s Napier Cemetery from the Find-a-Grave website, however, however, indicates a birthdate of 4 June 1821. The story of the infant who died also appears to have come originally from the Kentucky Biographical Dictionary, which indicates Emily “was the mother of six children: Marietta, Isabelle, Sarah Frances, Jesse Edwin, William McDowell, and a daughter who died in infancy, a few days preceding the death of its mother.”

However, Ancestry.com has now digitized Kentucky Death Records from 1852-1953 (which incidentally also provided the catalyst for my investigation into the murder of Emily’s second cousin three times removed). Here we find Emily’s death listed, but the cause of death appears not as “childbed fever” (unlike two others on the same page) but as asthmaI thought perhaps somehow this was still a complication from childbirth, but the Kentucky Death Records don’t indicate any other Fogle child who was born around October 1852 and died then or later. So it seems possible the Biographical Dictionary, written some forty years later, may have provided erroneous information. Two other interesting points are revealed by the Kentucky Death Records source – Emily’s occupation (after much scrutiny) appears to be listed as “Innstress,” and the Clerk of Casey County, whose name appears on the death notices, was none other than Emily’s own father, Joel Sweeney.

Surname Saturday – the Simmons Brick Wall

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Names are interesting. When I first started doing genealogy, I found it intriguing to realize how many surnames you “own” in your family tree. Sometimes the surnames become more and more familiar over time as more relatives are uncovered and researched.  Other times the connection to a surname is more tenuous – a link of one maternal ancestor, and then the proverbial brick wall.

My great-great-grandmother Belinda Simmons is one of these tenuous links.  Born May 14, 1838 in Cincinnati, she married John Montgomery on Christmas Day 1858 in Ohio. John and Belinda appear in the 1860 (Clark, Ohio) and 1870-1880 (Denver Township, Illinois) censuses with their growing family. Belinda died on Valentine’s Day 1908 and is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery in Olney, Illinois (in a grave my family and I failed to find on a field trip to Olney).

Belinda’s parentage, however, remains a mystery, as does her name itself.  Sources list her name variously as Malinda, Mary Ann, Mary Ann Belinda, Mary B., and Belinda. After much searching I did finally locate Belinda in the 1850 census, aged 12. The discovery, however, only provided half the story: apparently sometime before 1850 Belinda’s father had died, and her mother (Rachel – the half of the story the census revealed) had remarried a Charles Clark. Also in the household is Belinda’s younger brother Charles H. Simmons, aged 10. If Belinda had been born a little later, it might be easy enough to find a Rachel Simmons and her young children in an earlier census – but since census records prior to 1850 don’t list each individual in the household by name, it is trickier to confirm the identities of family members – especially when the head of household’s name remains unknown.

So…the search back in time continues…

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John and Mary Montgomery Tombstone from Find-a-Grave

Vital Statistics – Marriage License of Samuel Schlegel and Mary Demler

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Samuel Schlegel (Schlagel/Slagel), aged 26, wed Mary Demler, aged 20, on November 30, 1875.  They were married by John Georg Steidinger in Livingston County, Illinois.  Both Samuel and Mary were residents of Indian Grove Township in Livingston County.  The license to marry was granted November 27.

Various sources list Samuel’s birthplace as Wisconsin or Iowa; both of his parents were born in Switzerland. Mary Demler was born in Baden, Germany. The couple farmed in Livingston County and had four children. One, Samuel, died at age 4.  Their only daughter, Emma Alice, was my great-grandmother. About 1908 Samuel and Mary retired to 407 E Walnut Street, Fairbury, Illinois. Mary died of stomach cancer in 1928; Samuel of toxemia from chronic cystitis and chronic interstitial nephritis in 1937. Both are buried in Fairbury’s Graceland Cemetery.

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Those Places Thursday – Innvik

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One of my many ancestral homelands is the small (population 378) village of Innvik, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway.  Innvik means “inner bay” in Norwegian; the original spelling of the name was Indviken and was in use by the 15th century.

Our earliest known connection to this village was the February 1760 birth of my 5th great grandfather, Anders Torgjersen Aaland, and that of his wife Ragnilde Christensdatter around 1766. Anders’s birth on the Haga Farm appears as the fourth entry on the following record from the Digitalarkivet website:

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Anders and Ragnilde married July 7, 1786 and had nine children.  Their sixth child was Arne Andersen Aland, born in 1799.  He and his wife Ingeborg Svensdatter had a daughter Synneve, and a son, Svend Arneson Roberg.  Svend was born June 2, 1824 and married another Synneve: Synneve Arnesdatter.  Svend and Synneve had six children; the second was my great-great-grandfather, Anders Mathis Roberg.  Several of the Roberg children emigrated to the U.S.; Anders and his brother Arne both emigrated in 1875.  Three years later Anders married another Norwegian, Agnette Evansdatter Lien, eleven years his senior. Agnette had a child, Emil Martin, from a previous marriage; and she and Anders had three children of their own: Severin, Sophie (my great-grandmother), and Sena.

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Wedding Wednesday

Apparently I am not the only one who sometimes has trouble finding genealogical things to blog about. The Geneabloggers site contains an entire list of prompts to help idea-challenged bloggers. Wedding Wednesday seems like a good place to start.

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Edwin Henry Burdick was my fifth cousin four times removed.  He was born July 28, 1894 in Boulder, Colorado, and married Alice Elizabeth Tatlow on August 6, 1918, in North Loup, Nebraska.  Most of my information on this couple comes from the Find-a-Grave website; additional information can also be found about the Seventh-Day Baptist Church where Edwin and Alice were married.

My connection to Edwin is through the Davis branch (Blanche (Wilson) Montgomery’s paternal grandmother’s line): my eighth-great-grandfather, John Davis (b. 1692) was Edwin’s fourth-great-grandfather.

But really, I just think Alice’s dress is cool.

What’s in a Name?

I’ve always found names fascinating.  The stories I would write when I was little always involved families with hordes of children because coming up with names for all of them was my favorite part of the writing process. I often hear people say they don’t want genealogy to be just “a list of names and dates.” While it’s true I love to have all the facts to flesh out the stories of who these relatives are, sometimes even just getting that “list of names” is rewarding.

For example, who wouldn’t be thrilled to find they shared a common ancestry with someone named Grimpie Brittimart Gobble? Or another favorite name, Grizzel Spratt? And sometimes I would come across my own real-life family with hordes of children, like the offspring of Samuel Willson (my 7th-great-grandfather):  John, Mary, Olive, Benjamin, Molley, Samuel, Ester, Eunice, Louis, Persis, Jenne, Nahum, and Elizabeth.

And then there are the “family names” that recur throughout our family history. My nephew, Benjamin Leander Montgomery, for example, has two family names.  His first and middle names were the middle names of his great-grandfathers.  “Benjamin” for Joseph Benjamin Hoffmann, and “Leander” for Herman Leander Likness.

Other names were common in the family generations ago, but not any longer. A prime example is “Tacy,” from the Latin for “silence.”  A quick search indicates there are 46 Tacies in our family tree, but none born since 1893.

Then, of course, there are the name mysteries. Grandpa Montgomery comes to mind first. At different times in his life he went by Lawrence Theodore or by Lawrence Conklin.  The story I remember hearing was that he was never sure which was his real middle name, so he used both interchangeably.  Theodore was the middle name of one of Grandpa’s uncles (Joseph Theodore Montgomery) and was passed on to my father when he was born, and Conklin was the maiden name of Grandpa’s maternal grandmother, Mary Ann.

So, what isn’t in a name?

Marriage License of Marcus Walker and Mary Conklin

Marriage License of Marcus Walker and Mary Conklin