The quote above has nothing to do with what I’m about to write.  Not really, anyway.  It’s just that I like Paul Simon and he happens to have a song about Graceland which happens to be the cemetery where my great-grandfather is buried.  Do you like how I said that all nonchalantly like finding out THAT SORT of information was no different than discovering 5 bucks in my wallet I didn’t know I had?  Moving on…

As is much documented here, I’ve always wondered where my great-grandfather, Bernhard Kramer, was buried.  Actually, ‘wondered’ is not the proper word.  How about ‘yearned’?  Let’s go with that.  I’ve always YEARNED to know where my great-grandfather was buried.  I’ve always felt the NEED to know how it was he died — how old was he?  Was he happy then?  Was he remarried?  Was he an asshole?  I’ve searched for nearly 6 years and the answers to those questions were scant.  I started with this: “Samantha, LOOK.  I told you, I DON’T KNOW.  He just never said.  They lived in Chicago and he was German and I think he was a butcher.  I don’t know, something about the stockyards up there.”  Seriously, that was it.  Now I know the following: birthplace (Augustfehn, Germany), date of birth (20 Sep 1883 – exactly 102 years after my own), parents (Bernhard and Hermine Fittje), his second wife’s name (Mary, didn’t know she existed), his burial place (Graceland Cemetery, Chicago), and the time of his death.  19-f’ing-61.  I also know his favorite rock band — AC/DC.  Just kidding people, we Kramer’s hate the AC/DC.

As mentioned in the last post [ED. Note: now removed.  Potentially AWKWARD.], I took some time off to work on the genealogy of someone else.  I obsessed over it as I would my own and it effectively cleared my brain.  I’m gonna start charging people for Brick Wall Research and then I’m just gonna tell them to aggressively research the family of someone not related to them.  Works.  And as I predicted, as soon as I returned to my own research, there was a breakthrough.  I took some time to read the emails from my dad’s long-lost cousin who I located only after cold-calling tons of people with her common name in the Wisconsin area.  I was so excited to read what she was writing at the time that I figured it was likely I might have missed something.  I read slow.  Then, right there.  Ben.  He had never been called ‘Bernhard’.  He was just Ben.  One would think this would be obvious considering it’s the name given to my little brother but I’m nothing if not oblivious to the obvious.

So I searched for Ben.  Ben Kramer.  I resumed my process of ordering every birth certificate on the Cook County Clerk’s site, each one starting with the death year that seemed possible  This is an issue I’ve had as there was really no way for me to get a grip on the man’s year of death.  At first, I was sure it had been between 1920 and 1930 — after all, he wasn’t in the census with his family in 1930.  That ‘fact’ was proven wrong and from there I began working my way to the present.  19-f’ing-61.  As you can imagine, this was a fucking expensive operation.

It had never seemed even remotely likely to me that he had died after 1956, the year of my dad’s birth.  My grandpa Ben (!) was active duty then and they lived in France for a good portion of my dad’s early childhood (by the way, I need to interject here: my dad is a trucker, man.  He is not refined; his CB handle is BirdLegs for God’s sake.  The fact that he ever resided in France, even for 97 seconds, it just hilarious to me).  It might have made sense that he wasn’t in contact with his father for those years but what about when they moved back to the States?  My dad was 5 years old when his grandpa died, the same age as Jude.  I cannot imagine my child not knowing his grandfather.

I don’t know if that speaks to the fact that my grandpa was an asshole or to the incredibly odd and very harsh reality of my father’s family — they split, they went their own ways, and then no one else mattered.

From Ben’s death record I learned a couple interesting things.  He died of pneumonia, a condition that apparently was common among those men who spent their lives in the Chicago Union Stockyards as he did.  There’s a coalition of those that died in astounding numbers of kidney disease.  Ben was 77 and he was still working as a butcher, though no doubt he had been kicked out his stockyard job at that age.  If I learned anything from The Jungle, then I learned that.  He was married.  To a woman named Mary M.  He lived on Orleans Street and he suffered in the hospital for a week before he finally died.  And I learned that he was buried at Graceland Cemetery.

I immediately called the undertaker listed on the certificate.  The woman (she was working on a Sunday.  You work at a funeral home AND on a Sunday?!  Your job sucks, nice lady.  Just sayin’.) said that she would wander down to the basement later and take a gander.  I was stoked!  Then I received an email telling me that they don’t keep records.  I bet that chick who took my call was just in a bad mood because she was WORKING AT A FUNERAL HOME ON A SUNDAY!  I forgive her.

At any rate, I was still at a dead-end.  I emailed the funeral home, hoping they might be able to give me Ben’s plot number and more details on his wife.  This past Monday I got a fat package from them.  Ben was cremated and his ashes were scattered near the Chapel.  I imagine that his wife (who also worked at the Stockyards as a stenographer) hadn’t the money to pay for an elaborate burial with coffins and plots and whatnot.  It’s incredibly sad really.  I take comfort though in hoping that Ben is somewhere watching someone giving a shit about where he’s buried.

That’s the update.  All of it, I think.  I’ve got burial records for a Mary at the same cemetery that might be my lady so now I’m working on tracking her family.  I’ve never seen a photograph of my great-grandfather and dammit, I want one.  If anyone knows a Christine Richard (possibly married at some point to Hardin Probis) then have her give me a call.  I need to talk to her about her sister.


Many times I’ve started to post about the amazing and huge strides I’ve made in my research these last couple months…but life gets in the way.  So I suppose a Surname Saturday post about my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Schulte (who I’ve mentioned here before) would be the easiest way to squeeze all that in.

In short, I’ve found family.  Lots of family.  Family that has sprung up from little buds on my tree into huge branches (just in time for Spring!).  My first breakthrough came a few months back.  My grandfather Ben had two TRUE siblings, Frank and Walter Kramer, and from what I knew when I started, they both lived in Chicago.  Dad remembered that somehow they were involved with grocery stores so I began to look there.  I found the Kramer Foods store, still located in Chicago (or rather, the suburb of Hinsdale) and contacted the current owners.  I think I’ve mentioned it before but that gave me a lead on Frank’s daughters.  I’ve spoken to some family of Wally’s before but both his children were adopted and have now passed on so that lead was all but dead.  It seemed that locating Frank’s daughters would be my best bet.  Seeing as how the girls would surely be around my dad’s age, I figured it was pointless to search for them as I didn’t have the married names I thought they should have.  Just goes to show that making assumptions in genealogy just about the easiest way to create a brick wall for yourself — I found both girls and with their Kramer names intact!  After three days of searching the deep web, so to speak, I locating one of Frank’s daughters and her insight was amazing!  She knew very little about Ben but was able to tell me tons of information about Ben’s family and their lives as youngsters.  It was amazing to find this woman — after 6 years of diligent daily searching I had found REAL family!  My dad was beyond excited, something that never happens when it comes to my genealogy work.  He had a cousin and she was great.  They spoke on the phone and I’m so glad that through this research I was able to make that happen.  We’re hoping to visit her soon and my dad can’t wait to get headed out on that trip…

Still though, there were so many questions still unanswered.  Not just that but Frank’s daughter opened other questions — I had always been stumped by my great-grandpa’s second immigration record.  This record states that he left the US, returned in just a few months, and with him was his wife Elisabeth and a son, Walter.  Except Walter was already two years old.  How had my grandfather, Bernhard, fathered a child in Germany when he was residing in Codington, South Dakota?  It turns out that Bernhard wasn’t actually Frank’s dad, something that was never mentioned to me by Wally’s family and something I still don’t think they know.  Here’s what I now know:  Elisabeth was born 8 Aug 1890 in Wellingholzhausen, Germany.  When she was a teenager, about 18 years or so, she was working as a housemaid for a wealthy family in the area.  There was a romance between she and one of the son’s of this wealthy family and she became pregnant.  In the early 1900s this was apparently not the best way to get in the good graces of the family and townspeople — proving that I could not have lived in that time :) — and she was disowned by her own family and her employers.  Wally’s father’s name is not known.  SOMEHOW, Elisabeth and Bernhard came together and he left America in 1912 to return to his homeland with a new child he’d agreed to raise as his own and a new wife that had been shunned by her community.  The most odd thing about all this is that Bernhard and Elisabeth were from two completely different communities that sat hundreds of miles apart.  How had they been hooked up?  Had someone written Bernhard here and asked for his help?  Were they ever legally married?

I’ve since been in contact with a distant cousin in Germany who is absolutely amazing.  She has searched the archives and provided me with tons of information that I never would have been able to get on my own regarding Elisabeth’s family.  Elisabeth’s mother’s name was Catherina Elisabeth Raude and her father Frederich Schulte.  For quite some time the family has lived in the area of Wellingholzhausen and there’s still family there today in the small community of Borgloh.  This is the sort of genealogy find that makes me giddy!

Unfortunately, there is no record within the churches of the area for the birth of my great-uncle Wally.  There is a record for an unmarried Schulte but the dates and name don’t match so I’m out of luck.  But that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to the story or that someday I’ll figure it all out.

**

A while back I was bothering my dad with yet more questions I knew he couldn’t answer about his family and a simple correction he made of my assumptions opened a HUGE door.  In the mid-1920s my great-grandmother Elisabeth divorced and remarried.  The man she married, Fred Wonderlin, had a son Henry.  Henry was, in my mind, Ben’s step-brother and it never occurred to me to look at it any other way.  He jumped in and declared that Ben NEVER called Henry his step-brother and only ever referred to him as ‘brother’.  I decided that tracking down the family of a man who I didn’t consider really related might help me.  I spent countless days searching for the family of Henry until there was a breakthrough.  A search of the Chicago Tribune historical archives by a kind soul on the Ancestry message boards led me to one of Henry’s children.  I tracked her for days before locating her and she was so incredibly pleasant.  It seems that her Wonderlin family knows more about my Kramer family than we do!  Henry and Ben were indeed close and she was able to fill in many blanks, especially concerning Ben’s first son, my dad’s half-brother he never knew, Robert.

And now, after 6 long, hard years of searching I have pictures to put to names.  I started this journey with scant speculation — my great-grandparents were German and they lived in Chicago.  My great-grandfather was a butcher at the stockyards.  That’s all I knew — not a name, not a birthdate.  Now there are family photos and family stories, things I would have never known had I not decided to obsess over something that just didn’t seem to want to be figured out.  I have found family, both American and German.  I’ve still got many mysteries to solve — Wally’s real father, Bernhard’s death, Ben’s war service and that of his brothers — but this means so much.  My dad knows what his grandmother looked like and I feel like I know her now…


This Tombstone Tuesday, I thought I’d post about my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Schulte Kramer.  The road to her maiden name was long and paved with many an assumption but very little facts.  When I started research on my dad’s side of the family, he didn’t even know his grandparent’s names.  His father died in 1976 and he’d never met his grandparents, who lived in Chicago.  He gave me scant little to go on — he knew they were German, they might have changed the spelling of Kramer that we now use, and his grandpa was a butcher at the Chicago Stockyards.

Pretty early on, census searching led me to Bernhard and Elizabeth.  In 1920 they were living in Chicago with their three sons — Walter (born in Germany), Frank, and my grandpa, Bernard.  By 1930, Elizabeth was remarried to a Fred Wonderlin and she had a new son, a step-son, Henry.  For the longest time, I assumed my great-grandpa had died…but that’s another story.

I can’t remember why but it took me a good while to find Elizabeth’s maiden name.  Long ago I’d stumbled across an immigration record for an Elizabeth Wonderlin that had the same birthdate as my Elizabeth…and her maiden name was Schulte.  At the time I originally found it, I couldn’t prove it was my Elizabeth but I kept it in the back of my mind — it HAD to be her.

Late last year I finally found Elizabeth’s death certificate at the wonderful Cook County Genealogy site.  For 15 bucks, I had proof of her maiden name…and her parent’s names!  Her death certificate was an amazing wealth of information considering this is a woman I knew little to nothing about…

Elizabeth died 20 January 1952, just 6 days after leaving the home at 1844 Barry Ave that she’d resided in since she arrived in America, and venturing to the St. Elizabeth Hospital for an operation.  She’d had rectal cancer for two years.  Ultimately, that and heart disease were the cause of her death — she died on the operating table at 61 years old.  My dad would be born in 4 more years.

Elizabeth was born 9 Aug 1890, in Wellingholzhausen Germany, to Frederick Schulte and his wife Katharine.  Unfortunately, Katherine’s maiden name is hard to make out on the record but it looks to be “Raude”.  A search of gedbas shows that Raude, Rande, Baude, and Bande were all surnames present in Germany so locating Katherine has proved tough.  So has locating Frederick…but his name explains the prominence of Frederick as a middle name in my family.

Elizabeth is buried in Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois and one of my genealogical dreams is to one day make a trip to her plot.  I was lucky enough to be very close to my great-grandmother on my mother’s side and she was a part of my life until I was 26 years old.  She knew my son for 4 years before she died, so he remembers his great-great-grandmother.  It seems so sad to me that I don’t even have a clue what my great-grandmother on my father’s side even looks like…


As is probably obvious by now, I’ve focused majority of my research for the past five or six years on the Kramer side of my family.  It’s the name I carry and it’s a name I cherish — if I ever marry I will not drop my name and when my son was born I insisted on my son having my last name, despite the long line of Native American and Scottish heritage in my son’s father’s family.  In short, my name means a lot to me and it’s not just the name, it’s the things behind that name.

My point is that in all these years of research, I’ve often neglected branches about which I know nothing.  One of those branches that sits not too far from mine is my great-great-grandfather, Harlan Sanders.

My maternal grandfather, Larry Joe Sanders, died just this year, a few months ago and he, like my beloved great-granny, was a wealth of information.  I’ll be honest, there were only a couple occasions on which I went over and sat just to talk about family history, but on those occasions he was full of stories and names.  His family was born and raised not far from here in Hawkeye, Missouri.  Giving Hawkeye it’s own place name makes it seem like it’s actually a place when in reality it’s more like a speck on the side of the road but that speck was an important part of my grandfather’s history.  He’s buried down a long gravel road in Hawkeye, along with his mother and his grandparents.  There are a little more than twenty graves in that beautiful private cemetery and one day, I imagine I’ll rest there too.

My grandpa Joe remembered his father well in the stories he told me but he knew nothing of his grandfather.  Early in the little research I’ve done on my grandfather’s side of the tree, I realized that Papa’s dad, Claude Sanders, was raised for the most part by his own grandmother, Artimisia Pike.  Papa told me of his uncle Harold and he remember Artimisia well.  He knew Claude and Harold’s mom, Myrtle, but he knew nothing of their dad.

I dug and dug and never really found anything pertaining to Claude’s dad.  Papa told me stories of Myrtle’s second husband, Roscoe Forgey, and how he’d been a policeman in Springfield, Missouri, and was once involved in some sort of shoot out (though I could find no newspaper record of that).

Just a couple short months ago, my Papa Joe died and he left instructions that let us know that he wanted no radio notice of his death, no obituary (awful for a genealogist to hear!), and no big funeral.  He didn’t mind the immediate family gathering but he really didn’t mind if no one knew he had passed on.  He had a strong Mormon faith, he felt he was right with God, and he wanted to rest next to his mother in that pretty little Hawkeye cemetery.  My mother had a hard time reconciling what he wanted with what she thought appropriate but in the end, she obeyed his wishes.  Amazingly, just as my parents, siblings, and one aunt and uncle stood next to his graveside, ready to recite a short prayer, cars started piling in.  His classmates, all still remembering him fondly had banded together and made their way down a long out of the way road and to that plot in the woods.  All in all, quite a few of his friends arrived and the farthest came from Oklahoma.

At Papa Joe’s funeral I met many a genealogy buff (that side of the family is Mormon so of course, it’s important to them) and I got acquainted with Papa Joe’s half brother, Russell.  Russell and Papa Joe didn’t share the same mother but by some turn of events, Papa Joe’s mother raised Russell.  He told me that he knew very little but that he knew that his dad’s dad’s name was Harland.  Mystery solved!

I got home and immediately started researching Harland.  Most people in this country have eaten at a local KFC, founded by none other than one Harland Sanders.  But alas, there is no vast chicken fortune in my family tree.

I’m still researching Harland and thus far have found very little in the way of facts.  I remember a story in about the names my Grandpa had picked out for my mom’s brother, his firstborn child, and one of them was Crutchfield.  When I got into this side of the tree, that name stuck out.  It HAD to be a family name — one doesn’t just cherry pick something that odd.  Granted, Papa had a penchant for odd names (one of my aunt’s middle name is Cuffa) but still.  I researched the name “Crutchfield Sanders” and only came up with one, a Tinsley Crutchfield Sanders, and though I couldn’t show a connection that name stayed with me.  When I met Russell and got Harland’s first name, lo and behold, his father is Tinsley Crutchfield!

Harland was born 17 Jul 1869 in Arkansas, which jives with my grandpa telling me that his family had a long history in Arkansas, particularly the Eureka Springs area.  His father, Tinsley, was born 2 Jul 1848 in Prarie County Arkansas and he married Nannie Basham, born 17 Mar 1856.

From that information, I was able to fill in a long sparse side of my tree and trace my grandpa’s roots back to Ireland and Scotland.  Still yet…

I’ve yet to find death information for Harland.    There is some conflicting information out there about Tinsley and the actual birthdate of Harland, but I’m still searching…


Only a few posts on this here blog and already, it’s consumed with talk to the Fittje’s.  Obviously, the Fittje’s are dominating about 90% of my research at this point and it’s been that way for nearly a year now.  It was a hellishly long road to make even one tiny connection to this family so I guess it’s best to expect that it will be an even longer and more winding journey if I’m to ever put it all together.

The Fittje’s in my tree came from Germany and thankfully, I’m one of those lucky people that got stuck with a surname that is so unusual.  Ever met a Fittje?  Yeah, me neither.  In my research, it seems that Fittje’s either come from Germany (in fact, a very small area in Germany) or Norway and a distant cousin tells me that we are somehow connected to the Norway clan, though I’ve never dug in and researched that.

The first Fittje I discovered in my line was Henry Fittje, living in South Dakota in 1908.  My ggrandfather, Bernhard Kramer, immigrated from Augustfehn in 1908 and his destination is shown as his uncle’s house in SD, one Henry Fittje.  With this information I searched the hell out of Henry and eventually found that distant cousin I mentioned who was able to share a small amount of information on Henry’s life in the US, along with a picture or two.  It was wonderful…but how did Henry fit into my tree?  I assumed that he was most likely a relative of Bernhard’s mother’s but proving that was hard.

In my German research of the name Fittje, it seems that the only ones in that country were located in a few close together and very small towns.  I initially searched in only Augustfehn but soon realized that Augustfehn, Vreschen-Bokel, Apen, Westerstede, and Edewecht are all very close in proximity and the few Fittje’s are spread among those towns.  Eventually, I made contact with a man in Germany who is transcribing the church records of the Parish Apen.  His transcriptions are not online and are held only by him.  His help to me was invaluable — without him and barring a spur of the moment trip to the German countryside to read the records myself, I never would have been able to fill in my tree.  From him, I was able to figure out that the Fittje side of my family is indeed, all related to my great-grandmother.  great-Her maiden name was Fittje.  This breakthrough, this crashing down of a so-called “brick wall” was probably the greatest day thus far in my family research.

My great-great grandmother’s name was Hermine Margarethe Fittje and she was born in Eversten on 27 Oct 1853.  On 28 Oct 1876, she married my gg-grandfather Bernard Kramer in Apen.  Between them they had 5 children: Bernhard (b. 1883), Weyhert (b. 1877 and d. 1878), Maria Wobina (b. 1879), Gesine Hermine (b. 1881),  (b. 1886).  You cannot imagine how great it was to finally see this connection and know my family names.  It also furthered a chapter in our family history — my little brother is named Ben, after my grandfather Bernard Kramer.  This name goes back all the way to the 1800s in our family, something my father did not know when he named my brother.

The friendly helper in Germany was able to give me a few generations of Kramer family births and marriages in Apen and the area, along with a few Fittje births and marriages.  So far, researching this clan has been tough.  People changed their names so frequently when they came to the States and birthdates given are so unreliable that I feel like I can never really be sure who’s who if I find them here.  Even Henry is still a mystery — how exactly was he related to Hermine?  Were they brother and sister?  None of the birthdates of her siblings match to his but again, that’s an unreliable science.

Thus far, this is the information I have for the family in Germany.  Keep in mind, all of these people were located in the same area of Germany.  In my research I’ve found a few Fittje’s in German genealogy databases in this area and I’m sure, because of the uniqueness of the name and the smallness of the area’s in which they are located, we MUST be related but proving that has so far eluded me…

Hermine Margarethe Fittje was the daughter of Weyhert Fittje and Gesche Suhr.  Weyhert was born 5 Jun 1827 in Vreschen-Bokel and his occupation in church records is shown as Schneidermeister and Grundheuermann.  Their children were:

  • Hermine
  • Hermann Heinrich, b. 1851
  • Johanne, b. 1858
  • Anna Catharine, b. 1860
  • Johann, b. 1863

Weyhert Fittje was the son of Wilke Fittje, born 25 Mar 1796 in Vreschen-Bokel and died 14 Apr 1864.  His occupation was Heuermann.  He married Antje Focken, born 15 Jun 1803.  Their children were:

  • Weyhert
  • Brunke
  • Johann Friedrich, b. 1830
  • Tonjes Friedrich, b. 1837
  • Johann Focken, b. 1837
  • A baby girl, not named, who was born on Christmas Eve and died that same night.

Wilke was the son of Brunke Fittje, born2 Feb 1758 and died 15 Dec 1815.  His occupation was also Heuermann.  He married Anna Oltmanns, born 26 Aug 1769.  Their children were:

  • Wilke
  • Oltmann, b. 1804

Of course, any information someone might have about the Fittje’s would be absolutely wonderful.  Considering I don’t speak a lick of German, this research has been tough but I’m committed to it and the not knowing drives me.  The thrill of making a connection rests in the back of my mind as I do this research.

Happy Surname Saturday all!


I spent the weekend that I planned to spend doing yard and house work instead by researching my Alexander branches.  My beloved great-grandmother Dorothy was an Alexander and she was very proud of her name.  She passed away last year but she left sets of wonderful journals and memories of an independent lady full of helpful anecdotes when you needed them most and stories of family and love.  She really was amazing.  She was the only older family member still living when I started researching our family tree and she was a wealth of remembered information.

When I was in 3rd or 4th grade I was in a gifted class in my elementary school and we were studying the Oregon Trail.  I mentioned that my grandmother had traveled by covered wagon quite a bit and she was promptly invited to come speak to the class about her experiences.  I remember when I walked her out that day I thought about what she’d seen and I almost cried.  I was 10 or 12 years old people!  But even then, the massive life she’d lead inspired me.

I could go to my Granny’s house and ask her about so-and-so in town and she’d remember.  At different times in her life she was the old telephone operator here in town, the head cook at our high school (when both my mom and dad attended), and a cafe owner, the latter which gave her pride and meant that all the townspeople loved and adored her.  She was the daughter in law of the last Sheriff our town had and she was the sister in law to the long-time town barber.

When talking over family with my Granny she always mentioned the man that went missing, left and never returned.  His name was James Dorsey Alexander and he was born around 1911, probably right here in Pulaski County, as were his siblings.  Her journal entries remind me that James “left his family March 16, 1935 and was never heard from again”.  His children, I know from journal entries, were Bob, Shirley, and Dick, though I do not know his wife’s name.

My Granny always asked me to find James, who sometimes went by Dorsey.  To be honest, while she was alive I never put my effort into that.  I’m sure that occasionally I picked up his name and did a few quick searches but when someone wants to disappear, as it appears James did, they’re often hard to find, even with much more information than what I’ve got.  That man could have went to one of any of our 50 states so finding him will be a chore.

The only information I could find yesterday was the 1930 census, which shows that in that year James (called Dorsey) was still living with his parents James L. and Nancy (Decker) Alexander in Laclede County, Auglaize Twnshp.  Along with them lived his brothers, Barney and Emmett, and next door to them lived another brother, Ray, with his wife Floy (who my Granny loved and who I remember sitting on a proch swing with) and their children, Eunice, James, and Paul Alexander.

With just an approximate birthdate, I’m still searching for James Dorsey.

**

Another entry in my grandmother’s journals concerns the other side of her family, her mother’s side.

Tonty, his real name was John Carol, was born in Carrol County Arkansas.  He told me he had a little brother to die on that trip from Tennessee and they buried him beside the road.  Later he married Sidney Lawrence and they had five children.  Jack died during the flu of WWI.  Uncle Bob, John, Florence, and Virgie, who was my mother.  Grandpa’s brothers were Lish, Perry, Hoston, Walter, Ed, Florence, and Green.
Grandma was a Lawrence.  She had two brothers that left for Kansas and were never heard from again.  She had a sister Nellie.

Granny had always asked me to see what I could find about these two men also.  That’s my mission today.  At one time I had their names but a quick census search should remind me.

Do you have missing family members?  Are there any special tactics you used to find them?  Has anyone ever had a happy ending to their missing ancestor story?


The other day I was reading an article in the Springfield News-Leader about a family researching their family history.  The wife mentioned that in looking for our old ancestors everyone should remember that you’re bound to find that bad egg, the family member that no one wanted to talk about.  I hate to admit this but without thinking too much in-depth about my own tree I sort of felt left out.  I’ve done a lot of research over the years but honestly, I’ve never devoted too much time to any one person, with the exception of my German Kramer ancestors.  I’ve been too engrossed in just filling in my branches.  I’ve never just picked a name and researched that person to exhaustion.  This is of course a goal, to fill in all those little branches with personal stories and biographies, but at this point, even after 5 years, my tree is still sparse.

I don’t have any outlaws I thought!  But ah, I do!  Not that this is a bragging point but it makes for a good story.

William Todd Power, better known as Bill, was the son of my gggg-grandfather, James Richard Powers.  He was born in 1869 in the county in which I currently live and he was a famed member of the Dalton Gang.

{Check that fella out!}

The Dalton Gang is basically famous for a failed robbery of not one, but two banks.  The members of the community surrounded and shot most of the gang members after the heist went bad and thus, they live on in Wild West history.  Bill was shot and killed when the townspeople took up arms and was buried, along with Gratton and Robert Dalton, in Coffeyville, Kansas.  Originally, no tombstone was allowed to be placed on the graves but later, one of the Dalton brothers placed a stone on the graves of the three.




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