A Tragic 1906 Death in Monmouth-Part III

Monmouth, Illinois, Republican-Atlas of 22 November 1906

Joseph Neill’s accidental train death in 1906 took place in the middle of the day as he was returning from work, just minutes after he had left his home. Our transcription of the newspaper account continues:

Was Coming to Work

Neil was an employe of the Hydraulic company and had worked at the plant all morning. At noon he went to his home, at the corner of South E street and West Eighth avenue, for dinner and was just returning to to work when the accident happened.

Coming north on D street he started to make a cut by going down the main track but a sand train which was coming from the west compelled him to step over onto the north track where the west bound trains pass along. The sand train was making considerable noise and not only prevented Neil from hearing any other train, but the engine was blowing off steam and filled the air with a vapory steam which prevented him from being able to see any distance.

Walking down the center of the track he seemed to be entirely unaware of the approaching train. Despite the warning whistle he continued along until struck by the train. Whether he was killed instantly or not will probably never be known, although it is not thought that he made any outcry. It is probable that the first blow was only a glancing one, as the train was going slow, and if the engine could have been stopped in time his life might have been saved.

Online maps don’t indicate that there currently are homes at the corner where Neill is indicated as residing at the time of the accident. What I need are contemporary maps to determine what streets were in existence in 1906. Further research into the hydraulic company is warranted as well, but based upon the newspaper account it was located somewhat north of where Neill lived. It is doubtful employment records are still extant, but it should be possible to learn more about it.

Newspapers can easily leave out details if they are things that “everyone knows.” After all, they are called “news” papers. The problem is that when reading a newspaper 110 years after it was written, that contemporary knowledge is gone. The set of double train tracks still run through Monmouth, Illinois–so that has not changed. In fact, they run all the way from the Mississippi River to Chicago.




Ancestry.com Updates “U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947”

World War Two Draft Registration for Ola Finis Lake, Marceline, Linn County, Missouri; digital image from Fold3.com

Ancestry.com recently indicated that their database “U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947” has been updated. This database is in progress (it is incomplete) and includes cards for traditional age registrants (men in select states aged 18–44). Ancestry.com has the index only. The actual card images are on Fold3.com. As of this writing, the following states are currently in the index (direct quote from Ancestry.com‘s page):

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Maryland
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • District of Columbia
  • Virgin Islands

Missouri cards were located (see the illustration), but it was not on the official list at Ancestry.com‘s description of this database. Fold3.com is showing Missouri as a state with images on their set of images. I’m not certain what has been added recently to either Ancestry.com‘s index or Fold3.com’s database.

Check it out for yourself.

Another DNA Test to Be Sent

When AncestryDNA had their latest special, I ordered one more test. This one is for my father-in-law. As with all my tests, I’m doing prep work to make it easier to analyze the results before they arrive. Essentially that involves cleaning up the paper pedigree, tracing down loose ends that have been overlooked, and thinking about the makeup of the known tree for the person involved.

Looking at the makeup helps me to sift through the matches initially and allows me to focus on the “problem people” that I hope to work on when the results come in. That’s different for just about every person (unless they are siblings). For my father-in-law, sorting those matches will be somewhat easier based on what’s already known about his pedigree. This time the clusters will be:

  • Belgian immigrants to Rock Island County, Illinois–the ancestry of the tester’s grandfather Mortier.
  • Swedish immigrants to Knox County, Illinois–the ancestry of the tester’s other grandfather.
  • German immigrants to Scott County, Iowa–the ancestry of the tester’s great-grandfather Freund.
  • Swiss immigrant to Scott County, Iowa–the ancestry of the tester’s great-grandmother (nee Cawiezell)
  • The remaining is a little more difficult to categorize but it appears that one second great-grandfather was of New England heritage with the others being of Ohio, Virginia, and South Carolinia origin (at least as far back as I have it).

The first four groups are all relatively distinct–there was not intermarrying and double/triple relationships as I have in my own background. The “remaining” portion appears to have (at least on paper from what I know at this point) one New England branch. The others I’m not certain about yet enough to sort further.

This should serve to get me started on my initial sorting. Hopefully this test will be easier to sort through than the others given that the background of this person is either to separate out than mine was.

Stay tuned!

1862 Assessor’s Oath for Illinois–No Dueling Allowed

Illinois assessors had to sign an oath before they could begin their duties. This image was taken from an 1862 assessor’s book for Hancock County, Illinois and includes the oath assessors were to take.

An 1853 Illinois act required assessors to sign an oath to uphold the Constitution and not to be involved in dueling.

Maybe the anti-dueling statement was to minimize difficulties over assessed values <grin!>.

This was a purchase I made on Ebay. It’s being donated to the Illinois Regional Depository at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois.

A Wandering Kansan: John Driesbach, Part III

1900 US Census, Hancock County, Bear Creek Township, showing family of Focke Goldenstein living near to John and Sophie Driesbach.

The majority of the time I have a reasonable idea how a relative met their spouse. Once in a while I do not. How John S. Driesbach met Sophia Dirks before their 1896 marriage was something of a question for me.

They were married at the Lutheran Church in Coatsburg, Illinois, where Sophia had been confirmed and where he family attended. Her residence was listed as Coatsburg, Illinois. John’s address was listed as Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois. While the counties are adjacent there is a distance between Carthage and Coatsburg. It would have been a distance for him to travel and he certainly would not have gone there for supplies or two do business, etc.

Sophia Dirks was an Ostfriesen by heritage (her parents were immigrants from that German region) and most of her siblings married other children of that heritage or other members of the nearby German community. While Driesbach is a surname of Germanic origin, he was not a member of one of the local families.

So how did he meet Sophia?

While I’m not certain, there’s a clue in the 1900 census enumeration for John and Sophia. It is four years after their marriage and they are living in Bear Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois, and enumerated on the same census page as Sophia’s sister, Anna (Dirks) Goldenstein and her family. Rural Bear Creek Township (especially the northern portions of it) certainly are close enough to warrant a “Carthage” address. It is also known that the Goldensteins lived in Bear Creek Township continuously from the very late 1880s until the early 1900s. Is it possible that Driesbach met Sophia Dirks through them?


I’m certainly not going to state it as fact because I do not know it.

What brought Driesbach to the Carthage area is not known. It’s also not on my list of research plans. While that might seem like I’m not researching him completely, there are reasons:

  • John’s reason for coming to Carthage is not germane to my research. His wife is my actual relative, her ancestral origins are known, her parents have been well documented in the United States and my only connection to him is through his marriage to her.
  • John is not a member of the larger Ostfriesen community. If he were, I might consider researching him a little more fully-simply because I am related to many of the Ostfriesens who settled near Carthage and many of those families have connections in their ancestral homeland in addition to the ones they created here.
  • And…one only has so much time.

Finding the Driesbachs near the Goldensteins served as a good reminder. Ancestral neighbors in the census should always be checked–even when you think you know everything about a family.


Adam and Eve are Not In the Index–They Missed A Page (and Not the First One!)

You would think Adam and Eve would be on the first page of an index to anything. Not true. They are on the mysterious page 276.

Always manually check digital images when you think something is missing.

I was looking for probate information in Adam Trautvetter who died in the early 1900s in Hancock County, Illinois.

Because I’ve used these records a great deal and because Ancestry.com has indexed them for the time period in question, that’s where I start if I need something quickly. Simply because it’s faster–not because the index is perfect. My back up plan is always to manually search the digital images of these records at FamilySearch and, failing that, search the actual records onsite. I never say “it’s not there” until I’ve done all three steps and sometimes, even when I find it online or on microfilm, I may still go and view the records manually–just in case.

A reference to a probate packet for Adam did not come up with searching the Illinois probate records on Ancestry.com, although one probate journal entry for his estate was located. Frustrated and thinking that Trautvetter was horribly mis-indexed, I decided to search the images of the probate index that was kept by the circuit clerk. That index, kept by “locals,” was likely to have Adam’s estate indexed in the appropriate section.

Except that the page of the index where it should be was missing.

I almost did not notice the page was missing at first.

But the manually created probate index did not have an entry for Adam or his wife Eve, who died a few years after him. I knew Eve had a probate case file as I had seen it digitally on Ancestry.com (and in the actual courthouse years ago). When I looked at the “date of issue” (usually for letters of administration or approval of executor), I noticed a gap from about 1905 to 1913.

Now…the estates are not listed in the index in exact chronological order of the years of “issue.”  There’s some variation based on when the estate was closed and when the index entry was created. But that was too big of a gap.

Then I looked at the page numbers on the index. The “page” with a last “issue” date of 1905 was page number 275. The next “page” with an initial “issue” date of 1913 was page number 277. I had not skipped an image as page 275 was image 265 and page 277 was image 266. I was not dreaming.

The same record is on FamilySearch. I looked there hoping that Ancestry.com had made an error.


It’s possible that the page is on the microfilm. I’ve not had someone actually check at the Family History Library in Salt Lake.  I never noticed this before because the last time I looked for Trautvetter estate for someone who died between around 1905 and 1915, I was in the actual courthouse. That’s a pretty narrow type of search.

I know the courthouse has the actual index page.

One always has to check the actual images of records to see if anything was missed–that could be why it cannot be located. Humans make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are not noticed until much later. And when the mistakes are small it can take a while to notice them. That’s why researchers should search manually when things do not appear in the index.

Because even pages of the index can be overlooked.


Let’s Not Suggest Mary Vornkahl was a Trautvetter


This is just a periodic reminder to think about the “Suggested Records” you see at Ancestry.com. As mentioned in an earlier post, “Hints and Suggestions from Ancestry,” they are pulled from tree submissions of other users. The only problem with this set of suggested records is that they suggest Mary’s maiden name was Trautvetter (after all Mary Vornkahl was born in about 1865 according to the 1910 Census). Mary’s maiden name was not Trautvetter. That was the last name of her first husband, Louis Trautvetter.


Looking at Mary’s complete actual 1910 census enumeration and 1900 census enumeration would have suggested that she had been married before to a Trautvetter–it was the last name of her children.

Minor details.

And another reason to research back slowly and not “jump as far back as you can as quickly as you can.”

That’s one way mistakes are made.


What to Remember About WeRemember–By Ancestry.com

WeRemember.com  is a new “memory sharing” website sponsored by Ancestry.com.

Users can create “memorial pages” for individuals and the creator can control the page and submissions to the page by others. At least that’s how the website describes it. I’m not certain if different users can submit pages for the same person or if the memorials will be searchable on the site itself (read the Frequently Asked Questions Page for more details)–however they may eventually be searchable elsewhere based upon the user agreement.

From the user agreement:

By submitting User Provided Content on any of the Websites, you grant Ancestry and its Group Companies a perpetual, transferable, sublicenseable, worldwide, royalty-free, license to host, store, copy, publish, distribute, provide access to create derivative works of, and otherwise use User Provided Content submitted by you to the Websites, to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered[emphasis added]. You hereby release Ancestry and its Group Companies from any and all claims, liens, demands, actions or suits in connection with the User Provided Content you submit, including, without limitation, any and all liability for any use or nonuse of your User Provided Content, claims for defamation, invasion of privacy, right of publicity, emotional distress or economic loss. This license continues even if you stop using the Websites or the Services. Ancestry may scan, image and/or create an index from the User Provided Content you submit[emphasis added]. In this situation, you grant Ancestry a license to the User Provided Content[emphasis added] as described above and Ancestry will own the digital version of documents created by Ancestry as well as any indexed information that Ancestry creates. Except for the rights granted in this Agreement, Ancestry acquires no title or ownership rights in or to any User Provided Content you submit and nothing in this Agreement conveys any ownership rights in such User Provided Content on the Websites. The licenses granted continue for the maximum time permitted by applicable law, even if you stop using the Websites or the Services[emphasis added].

This is the Ancestry.com User Agreement. It’s not new news and has been in effect since 17 March 2015. We’re not scooping anything here and not announcing something that’s not been available for some time. No matter what someone may tell you, the User Agreement is not news. It may be new for people who have not read it. You can read it at https://www.ancestry.com/cs/legal/termsandconditions.

There it is. Read it. That’s what you are agreeing to when you acknowledge the “user agreement.” It’s your decision to make for yourself–not mine to make for you. I want users to be informed. Ancestry.com may (among other things) “scan and image the User Provided Content.” Ancestry.com will own the digital version of documents Ancestry.com creates. They are not claiming to own your material.

So…don’t be irritated if material you created ends up on another Ancestry.com owned site even if you stop using www.weremember.com and if Ancestry.com stops supporting it. You are granting these things to Ancestry.com, not WeRemember.

There’s a reason for that.