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In 2000, a year after I began researching my family history, I was on vacation at my mother’s in Ohio. During that trip, I realized that I should make sure I had a copy of my birth certificate in case it ever came to pass that I could travel with my husband out of the country requiring a passport. When I was at the Health Department in Xenia, Ohio – county seat of Greene county, I asked if it would be possible to purchase (cheaply) an uncertified death certificate for my maternal grandfather. After all, what would a genealogist (even an amateur one) be without a real document? The lady at the counter was very helpful and produced a copy for me. When she asked if there were any other relatives that had died in Greene county, I realized that I could also get my great-grandfather’s death certificate as well. (I could have bought more but I couldn’t remember dates off the top of my head.) I especially wanted that one in order to get the name of his father. Sadly, I had a lapse in judgment as the information on a death certificate is only as good as the memory and knowledge of the informant.

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Death Certificate for John Lafayette Johnson

  1. The document was stamped UNCERTIFIED COPY – this could not be used for official documentation to receive compensation, benefits, or for legal matters. It does not have a raised seal.
  2. At the top, the document reads that it is from the STATE OF OHIO (names the state), DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH (which agency issued the certificate), DIVISION OF VITAL STATISTICS (in charge of birth and death certificates as opposed to checking the cleanliness of restaurants, etc.), CERTIFICATE OF DEATH (not to be confused with a Birth Certificate)
  3. Under place of death – not to be confused with where the decedent was living – the information is recorded as to County: Greene; Registration District is 2471. Under section 3709.01 of the Ohio Revised Code it means a “city or county health district” (Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3701-5 Vital Statistics). The file number is 419 (used for file management).
  4. The township is listed as Bath, Village as Fairfield (this location and it’s neighbor, Osborn, merged in later years to become the City of Fairborn). The city is left blank because it was an incorporated area.
  5. The Primary Registration District is left blank indicating that the Registration District was the only one and not part of another.
  6. The Registration Number is 5 (used for file management).
  7. The fields pertaining to an exact location of death (house number, street, ward, hospital) are left blank.
  8. The length of time at the death location is also left blank. If the location had been filled out, it would have listed my grandfather’s address as well as the time of 9 years at the location.
  9. How long in the U.S. if foreign birth was not complete because he was born in the United States.
  10. The fields asking about military service are not filled in – either because the informant (my grandfather) was not asked or the answer was no so it didn’t seem pertinent to fill it in.
  11. Full Name of Deceased is listed as John Lafayette Johnson. I was pleased to see this because so many death certificates have initials or no middle name.
  12. Residence/Usual place of abode was also not completed. Had it been, it would have listed my grandfather’s address of 40 Ohio Street in Fairfield, Ohio.
  13. Sex: Male (self-explanatory)
  14. Color or Race: White (self-explanatory)
  15. Single, Married, Widowed, Divorced: Left blank (he was widowed as my great-grandmother had died 9 years earlier). I don’t know why that wasn’t filled in.
  16. Name of spouse (if married, widowed or divorced: Katie J Johnson
  17. Date of birth: March 2, 1861 (hoping my grandfather knew his father’s birthdate).
  18. Age: (this is inferred as at the time of death) 78 years 2 months 26 days
  19. Trade, profession, or particular kind of work: Fruit merchant (he owned a truck that he used as fruit vendor).
  20. Industry or business in which work was done: Left blank (he was self-employed)
  21. Date deceased last worked at this occupation: left blank (so I have no way of knowing if he was selling fruit up until he became ill)
  22. Total time (years) at this occupation: left blank (did he do this the whole time he lived in Ohio from 1930 or did he also sell fruit when he had lived in Indiana?)
  23. Birthplace (city or town) (state or country): Howard county, Indiana (I do not have any other documentation to prove this information)
  24. Father’s name: George Wilson Johnson (this has been found to be incorrect and my grandfather knew his grandfather so I don’t know how he ended up giving an incorrect answer – unless he said James Wilson Johnson and it was written down wrong)
  25. Father’s place of birth: Galipolis, Ohio (I have more information that places James Wilson Johnson’s birth as Byrd Township in Brown county, Ohio)
  26. Mother’s maiden name: Don’t know (again, I have my grandfather’s type written family history that gives his grandmother’s name as Amanda Mullis so I don’t know if he was not privy to that information prior to his father’s death.)
  27. Mother’s birthplace: Don’t now (see #26)
  28. Signature of the Informant: Glenn R. Johnson (my grandfather did not spell his name with two “n”s and it doesn’t resemble any signature I’ve seen of my his!)
  29. Address (of the informant): Fairfield, Ohio
  30. Burial, Cremation or Removal – Place: Anderson, Ind; May 31, 1939. This indicates that my great-grandfather’s body was to be taken to Anderson, Indiana three days after his death and not buried in Ohio.
  31. Funeral Firm: The Morris Sons Co.
  32. License (of the Funeral home): 1294
  33. Address: Osborn, Ohio
  34. Embalmer: Yes (my great-grandfather was embalmed before he was taken back to Anderson, Indiana)
  35. Filed: May 30, 1939 by Fern O. Routsoung, Registrar (it was filed two days of my great-grandfather’s death)
  36. Date of Death: May 28, 1939
  37. The physician reported that he attended the deceased from January 31, 1939 until the date of death.
  38. The physician last saw the deceased alive on May 27, 1939 – the day prior to his death.
  39. Death was said to have occurred at 10:40 a.m. (this information would come from whomever was with John Lafayette Johnson at the time of his death – probably my grandfather or grandmother)
  40. The principal cause of death: Carcinoma of the Pancreas (pancreatic cancer) and the date of onset is listed as six months ago (indicating that he had begun feeling the affects of the cancer in January of 1939)
  41. There were no contributory causes listed.
  42. The section for injury, etc. is left blank.
  43. The answer to was disease related to his occupation was no
  44. It was signed by T.H. Winans, M.D. on May 29, 1939 (the physician who had treated him on the day after death)

 

johnson_john_katieJohn and Katie (Blazer) Johnson before her death in 1930

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John Lafayette Johnson on his birthday in March 1939 – almost 3 months before he passed away
He was already starting to show signs of illness especially the weight loss

 

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maude wilt memorial card

In Remembrance

maude wilt memorial card inside

Maud M. Rummel was born on October 17, 1891 in Ingalls, Madison, Indiana to E.J. Rummel and Mary Olive Sharrett. By the 1900 U.S. Census, she was living in the home of her maternal grandparents, Isaiah and Magdalena Sharrett. She was found in the same household in the 1910 and 1920 U.S. Censuses although by 1920, her grandmother had died. Maud married my maternal grand-uncle, Clarence Martin Wilt, on December 18, 1923. The couple lived on their own farm in Fortville, Indiana and never had children.

My memories of Maud consist of visiting them at their home at least once a year and sometimes twice. Maud had injured her hip at some point and each time I saw her, she was in bed. That lady knew how to quilt! She made many. Their home wasn’t much more than a one room shack with a pot-belly stove toward one end of it. Her “bed” reminded me of a window seat but that was probably because she was always laying next to the window. I can’t even recall if the bed was large enough for the two of them with all of her quilting materials. I recall stacks of newspapers here and there. I can only remember a small table and a few hard chairs. My uncle Clarence always attended the Wilt family reunion in Noblesville each fall. He was a tall man and smoked cigars.

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Maud and one of her many quilts

After Uncle Clarence was killed due to their house fire and smoke inhalation on October 14, 1975, Maud went to the hospital for awhile to be treated for smoke inhalation. I remember visiting her when we traveled to Indiana from Ohio for the funeral. After not getting proper rehabilitation treatment for her hip problems for so long, the hospital wanted to get her physical therapy in order to improve her quality of life. I didn’t see her after that last visit. She lived her remaining years at the Sugarcreek Convalescent Home in Greenfield, Indiana and passed away on February 18, 1978. Even though I was in high school, I don’t remember hearing that she had died or that my grandparents attended the funeral. We did have her funeral card so I suspect someone sent it to my grandmother. Maud was buried in the Mendon Cemetery in Pendleton, Indiana next to Uncle Clarence.

Maud left a half-brother, Claud Rummel, and several cousins. Her brother was almost nine years younger than she was so I suspect Maud’s mother had passed away and her father left her with his in-laws as he might not have been able to care for a young girl. Then he married again and had a son. There is a Claude E. Rummell (sp?), son, age 9, found in the 1910 census living in the household of Clayton Rummell, head of household, in Green, Madison, Indiana. Another child, also listed as a son, Robert G., and the mother of the head, Emma J. Rummell, are also living in the same household. The father, Clayton, is listed as married but his wife is not in the household. Claude’s mother’s birthplace is listed as Maryland. In the 1920 census, he is still living with his father, Clayton, and brother – now going by Glen, and a woman listed as “wife” of the head is also listed. Her name is Margurite, seven years older, than Clayton, and born in Indiana. On this census, Claude’s mother is listed as born in Indiana. Claude is married to Ethel by the 1930 census (for about six years) and is still living in Madison county, Indiana. Clayton Rummell is still living in the same location on the 1930 US Census with his wife, Margurite, but the other son, Robert Glen, is not living with them. The father, listed as Manual C. Rummel, in the 1940 census, is widowed by that time. Claude was born on November 26, 1900 in Ingalls, Madison, Indiana according to the United States Social Security Death Index on Familysearch and died three years after his sister, in February 1981. Robert Glen Rummell is found in Marriage Records for Indiana marrying Mary Dean Wischler on February 24, 1922 in Hancock county, Indiana. I believe that the Claude and Robert I have found are Maud’s half-brothers; however, I don’t have original or digitzed records of Maud’s and Clarence’s marriage license to look at to see if what was transcribed as E. J. Rummell was mis-transcribed from M.C. or perhaps whomever completed the marriage license didn’t know (but thought they did) Maud’s father’s initials. I have not found a death record for Maud’s mother nor her brother, Robert, so it is unknown why he wasn’t listed on her obituary (unless he wasn’t close to her and whoever wrote the obituary wasn’t aware of another brother).

Aunt Maud was always very nice to me. She sent me cards on birthdays. Looking back now, I realize that they didn’t have very much, and I wonder if that extended to their finances as well. If so, she must have thought I was special in order to spend money on a card to send to me. Whatever the reason, I am glad that I knew her from the time I was a young girl.

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52ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small issued a challenge to the geneablogging world recently: to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, etc. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Since I have been a little busy the last few weeks, I’ve missed a few of the weeks of “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” so this post makes up two of them. My third great-grandparents on my maternal side are the subject of this article.

Abraham Caylor was born on March 11, 1803 in Virginia to Johannes Kohler (original German name) and Sarah Salome Kinsey and they moved to Montgomery county, Ohio. He was one of eight children. Susan (also known as Susanna) Miller was born on June 12, 1800 in Pennsylvania to Joseph H Miller and Catherine Botafield who also moved to the Dayton area.  I don’t have any documentation but the couple may have known each other as they grew up. The couple married on March 11, 1824 in Dayton, Ohio according to their marriage certificate. Within a few years, the family had relocated to Hamilton county, Indiana and lived predominately in the Noblesville area. They were blessed with eleven children: John (b. 1827), Isaac (b. 1828), Henry (b. 1830), David (b. 1831), Daniel (b. 1833), Phebe (b. 1835), Catherine (b. 1838), Nancy (b. 1840 – my gr-gr-grandmother), Mary Ann (b. 1842), Abraham (b. 1845), and Susannah (b. 1847).

The family is found in the 1850 census living in Noblesville, Indiana. Abraham was listed as a farmer. He died five years later on May 1, 1855 and was buried in the Caylor family cemetery in Noblesville. Susan died in 1859 and was buried next to Abraham. His will was probated on May 21, 1855 and listed his widow and all eleven children.

My relationship: Abraham Caylor married Susan (Susanna) Miller > Nancy Caylor married Emanuel Bushong Stern > Martha Jane Stern married Joseph Napolean Wilt > Vesta Christena Wilt married Glen Roy Johnson > my mom married my dad > me.

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52ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small issued a challenge to the geneablogging world recently: to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, etc. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  As I had mentioned in my previous post, I’m hoping to write about one ancestor a month; however, I want to start now while I have a moment.

Franklin Blazer is my second great-grandfather on my maternal side. He was born on June 2, 1836. The only source I have for this is his gravestone. When he died he was 33 years old 2 months 23 days. He died on August 25, 1869 and once again, the only source is the date on his gravestone. Some reports indicate he was born in Ohio and others in Indiana. I believe he was born in Indiana to parents John Blazer and Mary Ann Nelson. He was the oldest of five. Following him in the family were Elizabeth born in 1837; John P. born in 1840; Mary Jane born in 1842; and George W. born in 1844. Franklin’s siblings were all born in Indiana.

Franklin married Melissa Goul between 1855 and 1859. I have not located a marriage record in Indiana or Ohio. Melissa was born in Ohio and moved to Indiana after the census of 1850. Melissa’s oldest son (of which she was a single mother in an age when that wasn’t at all common) was born in 1855 in Indiana. Franklin and Melissa’s oldest child, John F., was born September 17, 1859. The couple went on to have several more children: Martha Ann born in 1860, Philip Wesley born in 1862, Katie J (my great-grandmother) born in 1864, and Rachel born in 1867.

By the time Rachel was not quite two, Franklin passed away from unknown causes. I can not find the family in the 1860 Census so I don’t know where they were living. Franklin is buried in Grovelawn Cemetery in Pendleton, Indiana.

My research challenges for Franklin Blazer include gathering source information on his place of birth, finding a marriage record for him and Melissa, making an exhaustive search of the 1860 Census in order to make sure I’m just not “seeing” them, locating any news articles surrounding Franklin or Melissa, locating any land records or deeds for Franklin, and locating any documents concerning his death – especially a will.

My relationship to Franklin: Franklin & Melissa (Goul) Blazer > Katie J (Blazer) & John Lafayette Johnson > Glen Roy & Vesta Christena (Wilt) Johnson > my mom who married my dad > me.

Image from Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small

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As I was researching my maternal Johnson family ancestors this weekend, I decided to focus on what I don’t know about my 2nd great-grandfather’s siblings. As I came to Jacob M. Johnson, I saw that I didn’t have very many documented sources – only information from other family members (who said they found the information at such and such). I had a wife’s name – Nancy Kirkpatrick – and a birth year for Jacob. He was the 2nd youngest child of Jacob Johnson and Ann Shields. Searching FamilySearch, I located a marriage record for Jacob M Johnson to Nancy J Kirkpatrick in Rush county, Indiana on January 21, 1858. I found the couple in the 1860 Census living in Union township of Howard county, Indiana along with their one year old daughter, Mary. After that – nada! There is nothing on Find a Grave for Jacob, but there is an entry for Nancy J Kirkpatrick Cook. The information shows that Nancy J Kirkpatrick had married Allison Cook in 1865 in Howard county, had three children, and died on September 23, 1914. On her memorial is a picture. She is buried in Center Cemetery in Mays, Rush county. Her birth date is listed as July 10, 1844, which would have meant she was 13 years 6 months and 5 days old when she married Jacob M Johnson. So . . . is that the same Nancy Kirkpatrick? What happened to Jacob? In the 1900 Census the Nancy married to Allison Cook lists that she is a mother of 5 with three living. Not being able to find a Mary Johnson in her household leads me to believe that IF this is the same Nancy, then Mary was deceased. I could not find Nancy J Kirkpatrick/Johnson/Cook in the 1870 census so I don’t know if Mary was still alive, if that would be the census to show that this is the same woman, or anything else. On the Find a Grave memorial, there isn’t anything that lists Nancy being married to Jacob. If it is the same woman, did she marry Allison Cook after Jacob died? Did the couple divorce? There is a Jacob Johnson purchasing a scoop shovel, 3 barrels, one doubletree and two single trees, 1 hoe, 1 harrow, 1 wheat fan, 1 fork, 1 barrel, one wagon, at the estate sale of Jonathan Gordon, in Rush county. Jacob M Johnson’s sister-in-law (my 2nd great-grandfather’s second wife), was Margaret Gordon, daughter of a Jonathan Gordon (not sure if this is one and the same either). If it is the same Jacob M Johnson and that is the same Nancy J Kirkpatrick, then the couple had split up prior to her marriage to Allison Cook. Or this could be neither of them. Questions and more mystery until I find more conclusive evidence!

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(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 12 – Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

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W.F. Clawson store in Anderson, Indiana

My maternal grandmother, Vesta Wilt, helped out in the store owned by her step-father, William Frank Clawson, prior to her marriage.  The Clawson’s store was located in Anderson, Indiana. That is about the only job outside of the home she ever had. Vesta was better known for being an excellent homemaker and making so many of her family and friends feel welcome in the homes she shared with her husband, my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson. He always held a position of importance in the military so my grandmother was always prepared to entertain other officers.

My paternal grandmother, Ella (House) Amore, worked in the Coshocton Glove factory. I don’t know if it was before she was married or after she was married with children.

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Mary Amore using her knitting machine

Mom spent more time working outside of the home than she did as a full time homemaker. She worked as a bookkeeper, a seamstress, a grant writer, a secretary, and in accounting.  She didn’t complete her working “life” until 2003 – at the age of 81. With only a high school education, Mom was very fortunate to obtain some of the positions that she had. As a small child, I was lucky that she was a stay at home mom for awhile. When she did re-enter the workforce, it was as a seamstress for a drapery manufacturer. Then a few years later, she went to work for Apple Manufacturing in downtown Dayton. They worked on contracts for the U.S. Army making cargo covers among other items. It was heavy, dirty work and she didn’t get much more than what the law allowed for minimum wage. Very rarely did she have to miss work due to illness because if she had, she would not have gotten paid. She didn’t have much in common with the people she worked with. Yet she was there for almost 10 years before the government contracts stopped and the plant closed its doors. She painstakingly sent out feelers and resumes and stayed employed. Not only was she a professional seamstress out in the workforce, but Mom was a professional home seamstress. She was very good and for awhile when I was in elementary and middle school, she had regular clients who came to our home. She mainly did alterations but ocassionally would sew clothes – even our neighbor’s wedding dress. She had a knitting machine (see picture above) and took classes on how to be an instructor. Dad and I would drive her to other lady’s homes so she could teach others how to use the machine. Now that knitting machine is mine.

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Mom as a Senior Aide & Grant Writer at the Fairborn Senior Center – mid 1990s

(All photos – original and digital owned by Wendy Littrell, Address for Private Use)

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Jacob Marion Wilt is my great grand uncle. He is the oldest child born to my 2nd great-grandparents, Isreal Isaac Wilt and Christena Nash and oldest brother of my maternal great-grandfather, Joseph Napolean Wilt.  Jacob was born on February 21, 1858 in Indiana. On August 6, 1881 Jacob and Scena Gibson were married in Newcastle, Henry County, Indiana. They had a son, Russell Ray Wilt, born September 6, 1890 in Newcastle. The family is found in the 1900 Census living in Jefferson township in Henry County.  They reported that they had been married 18 years. By the 1910 Census, Russell was already out on his own.  Jacob and Scena were living in Sulphur Springs in Henry County.

And there begins the mystery.  It was reported by a distant cousin (Jacob is their great grand uncle also) that Jacob and Scena moved to California. I have not located either one – however, according to the 1920 Census, Russell is married to Ferna (LNU) with a young daughter, Thelma, and living in Modesto, California. In 1930 the Russell Ray Wilt family is in Oakland, California and in 1940 they have moved to Pierce County, Washington.

There is a Jacob Wilt listed in the 1920 and 1930 Censuses in San Bernadino, California – but his age is off by a couple of years and the listing for his father’s birth place is not Virginia. In the 1920 Census, that particular Jacob reports that he is divorced and in the 1930 Census, it shows he is widowed. I need to pinpoint the exact locations in the enumeration districts where both this Jacob and also Russell were living. If they are close by, then these two “different” Jacobs may just be one and the same. I haven’t located any further information on Scena (whose name has also been spelled Sena and Cena and mistakenly reported as Lena – depending on who was reading the writing!) nor on Russell’s wife, Ferna, or their daughter, Thelma. The Wilt branch of the family still living in and around New Castle, Indiana, didn’t seem to know any further information.

Sources: All Census information came from www.familysearch.org indexes.  Jacob and Scena’s marriage information came from the same website – the “Indiana Marriages, 1811-1959″ database (digital image).

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