Unusual Name

I seem to have several unusual surnames in my family tree.  One of them is Fiderius.  It was my great-grandmother’s maiden name.  The other day I did a search to find how many Fiderius I could find in Ancestry.com. It was hard to tell because there were a lot of repeats, but not very many.   Most of the people I could identify in my family tree.  However I did come across one person that I had not previously known about.  Her name is Josephine Fiderius and she is my great-grandmother’s sister. It seems the family kept her existence a secret.


An aerial view of the Cleveland State Hospital complex, ca. 1951. Cleveland Press Collection, CSU Archives.

Josephine Fiderius was born 24 July 1880 in Cleveland, Ohio to Peter Fiderius and Christina Oberdoester.[1]  Josephine joined her two older sisters, Mary[2]  and Theresa[3] at home.  Later two brothers, Leonard[4] and Joseph,[5] joined the family. In 1900 Josephine marries Carolus Friedmann[6] (Carolus is Latin for Charles).[7]  He went by Charles in most records.  In 1910 Josephine and Charles are living in Stark, Ohio with their 3 children Gertrude 7, Leroy 5, Lucille 2.[8]  On Charles’ WWI draft card, he lists his wife as Emma,[9] and in 1920 he is living in living in Trainer, Delaware, Pennsylvania, with wife Emma (40) born in New York and their children Ellen age 19, Gertrude 17, Leroy 15, Lucille, 12, and a son Frances 1 3/12.[10] What happened to Josephine?   I thought maybe Josephine died because the children were living with Charles, and who is Ellen?  I assume that Ellen must be Emma’s daughter, but she has the surname Friedmann.[11] A search on Josephine Friedmann finds her living with her mother, Christina Fiderius, her brother Leonard, and his wife Louise in 1920.[12]  So Josephine did not die.  It appears that sometime between 1910 and 1918 they separate and maybe divorce.  I say maybe divorce because Josephine lists herself as married on the 1920 Census.[13]  By 1930 Josephine is now living in the Cleveland State Hospital for the insane.[14]  She is still there in 1940.[15] What was it like for Josephine to be in this place?  “By 1900 the hospital had cared for over 1,000 patients. At this time it began to treat mainly poorer patients, including an increasing number admitted by the courts, further adding to patient numbers. Although Cleveland State Hospital kept pace with progress in medicine, conditions continued to decline in the 1920s and 1930s because of overcrowding and irregular state support. In 1946 investigations by the CLEVELAND PRESS and the newly formed Cleveland Mental Health Assn. revealed brutality and criminal neglect, and often squalid conditions.” [16]  Poor Josephine, it seems most of the time she spent in this place the conditions were very bad. I lose Charles, Emma and children after 1920.  What happened to Josephine that she lost her children and ended up in a mental hospital?  I think the family kept Josephine a secret or just did not talk about her.  My great-grandmother Mary, never told anyone about her sister Josephine.  A few years ago I heard from a cousin in Ohio, and he listed my great-grandmother Mary, and her sister Theresa, brothers Leonard and Joseph.  He did not mention Josephine and I doubt that he even knew she existed.  Josephine passed away on 3 August 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio.[17] Cause of death is Carcinoma of head and Pancreas with metastases multiple.[18]  Her death certificate lists her husband as Charles, and there is a question mark under “single, widowed, married, divorced” and a question mark under “alive”.[19]  The informant is her brother Leonard Fiderius.[20]  I would think that he should know if she was married, divorced or widowed from Charles.  It is an interesting story with a lot of unanswered questions that I hope to find the answers to one day.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Week 3 Unusual Name

Copyright © 2019 Gail Grunst


[1] “Ohio County Births 1841 – 2003” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRKL-ZGM?CC+1932106&wc=Q6QM-SBZ%3A227593401%2c233089201 : 22 December 2016) Cuyahoga > birth registers 1879-1880 > image 191 of 247 county courthouses, Ohio.

[2] Death Certificate for Mary Beischer nee Fiderius, State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, State file number 058869, Registration District 16.24, Registration Number 1173, December 26, 1962, Oak Park, Cook, Illinois.

[3] Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.

[4] Ancestry.com. Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1774-1973 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.  Original data:  “Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2011. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.

[5] “Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X6PJ-P4F : 11 February 2018), Fiderins, 07 Dec 1889; citing Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, reference p309; FHL microfilm 877,904.

[6] Cuyahoga County Archive; Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810-1973; Volume: Vol 47; Page: 282; Year Range: 1898 May – 1902 Nov.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data:  Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810–1973. Microfilm publication, 137 rolls. Reels 1-110. Cuyahoga, Ohio.

[7] Carolus Latin for Charles https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolus

[8] Year: 1910; Census Place: Canton Ward 5, Stark, Ohio; Roll: T624_1231; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0178; FHL microfilm: 1375244. Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.  Original data: Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.

[9] Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Delaware; Roll: 1877948; Draft Board: 4.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.  Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

[10] Year: 1920; Census Place: Trainer, Delaware, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1563; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 172.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C

[11] Ibid.

[12] Year: 1920; Census Place: Cleveland Ward 16, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: T625_1368; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 340.  Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Year: 1930; Census Place: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0296; FHL microfilm: 2341505.  Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

[15] Year: 1940; Census Place: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03218; Page: 21B; Enumeration District: 92-390.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.

[16] https://case.edu/ech/articles/c/cleveland-state-hospital

[17] Certificate of death, Ohio, Columbus, Department of Health, registration number 286, primary registration number 8118, State file number 48729, registrar’s number 6628.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

Resolution 2019


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic for week 52 is “resolution”.   Well, 2018 is coming to a close and I have completed this challenge.  I have enjoyed writing about one of my ancestors or my husband’s ancestors each week.  52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks will continue for another year.  I haven’t made up my mind whether I will participate or not yet.  I feel like I have run out of ancestors to write about.  At least the ones I know enough about to form a story.  But on the other hand, my husband has a bunch of them that I haven’t searched yet so maybe there will be some interesting stories from his side.  However, my resolution for 2019 is to work more on my husband’s side and to continue this blog. 

The last few months have especially challenging because on October 14th my husband and I were in a bad automobile accident.  I only had some bruises,  but the side he was sitting on was hit hard and he has been in and out of the hospital and rehab places since then.  Right now he is in a rehab, and I think on the road to recovery.  I have thought this before and he has relapsed.  So I am hoping this time he makes a full recovery.  It has been hard to find the time to write and has been especially hard during the holidays.  Hoping for a better 2019!

Wishing you peace, love, and laughter in the New Year!


Thankful for Carrie


thank you text on black and brown board

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the U.S. What or who are you thankful for finding in your genealogy research?

The genealogy person that I am thankful for is Carrie Schwarz.  Carrie is married to my husband’s second cousin George Schwarz.  Many years ago when I was just starting out on my genealogy journey and trying to get information on my husband’s side, I connected with Carrie.  Originally Carrie wrote to my husband’s brother, Harry, asking for information on the Grunst side.  One day Harry mentioned corresponding with a lady in Pennsylvania about the Grunst Family, and he showed me her letter. I asked if I could have her address and he gave it to me.  I wrote her a letter and she responded. Carrie had done some work on her husband’s side of the family and was more than willing to share the information with me.  Her husband’s Grandmother, Albertine Grunst, is my husband’s Grandfather, Albert Grunst’s, sister. My first letter from Carrie was in February 1979 and we corresponded regularly over the years. Our correspondence not only contained genealogical information, but also personal and current family information.  Carrie became a friend although we have never actually met. So it was through her that I learned about the Grunst side of my husband’s family.  I haven’t heard from Carrie in a couple of years now.  She is in her 90’s so I hope she is OK.  Her husband, George, died in 2011.   Today I want to say, thank-you Carrie for sharing the Grunst Family information with me, for your heart-warming letters, and for being a friend. 

A Woman of Size and Strength

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic this week is Random Fact.  

Elizabeth Schuh grave

While I was researching a great-great uncle, John C. Reinhardt, I found an article in the Sabetha Herald about John’s recollection of his childhood in the Amana Colonies in Iowa.[1]  I found this interesting since he is my great grandmother’s brother and our common ancestor is his father (my great-great grandfather).  In the article John mentions that his great-aunt was a school teacher for more than half a century.  She weighed 225 pounds and was 6 feet 2 inches (random fact). The name of the great aunt was not mentioned in the article.  I figured this was my great-great-grandfather’s connection to Amana, and this is one of the reasons he probably chose to go there upon arriving in the US.  I had corresponded with the Amana Heritage Society previously when needing information on my great-great-grandfather.  I wrote to them once again and they were able to provide with information about the aunt. 

Here is their answer to my inquiry.

“We took some time to peruse the Inspirations=Historie, The Anderson Cards, the Koch Verzeichnis, and another resource and came up with the following information:

The Aunt was Elizabetha Schuh born in Nussloch near Heidelberg, Baden, 26 May 1831.  She came to Ebenezer Society in September 1847, then to Amana in October 1863.  Died in Amana 25 May 1908.  Our Internal records of Amana Society indicate that she came with the Bortz family with the intention of going to live at Galion, OH.  I make the assumption, that because they were all from the Heidelberg area, and that’s where the Rappites had their stronghold before founding the communal society at Zoar, they were familiar with both us and them.  The Bortz Family another outside source claims that her parents did not approve of her relationship with a certain boy so they shipped her to America.  We cannot corroborate this fact, but she did come with another family and not hers.

To her physical size, the Inspirations=historie call her a ‘person of size and strength’ so her exact measurements are not documented.  The histories do not give her occupation in Ebenezer or Amana.  All communal-era teachers were men.  The excepton was the knitting school was usually taught by women.  So this could have been her job.  As I mentioned, her occupation is not documented.”

Amana Heritage Society[2]

I was able to find her on the 1870 United States Federal Census[3] and the 1885 Iowa Census[4] and on both census records her occupation is listed as housekeeper not a teacher.  I also found her the ship passenger list.  She departed from Le Harve, France and arrived at the Port of New York on 9 September 1847 on the ship Harve.[5] Above her name on the passenger list are the names of the Bortz Family, Adam (57), Margaret (47), Catherine (22), Susanna (19), Elizabeth (17), Philippina (12).[6]  It is interesting that they have a daughter named Elizabeth about the same age as Elizabeth Schuh.  I also noticed the names Susanna and Philippina are also names used in the Schuh family.  Now I wonder what the Bortz family connection is to the Schuh’s, or were they just friends.? This is why genealogy never ends.   I also found her grave on find-a-grave (see above). [7] 

I now have all these questions.  How did Elizabeth feel about being sent away to a new country without her family at just 16 years old?  Did she see her family of origin ever again?  What was so awful about the boy she was seeing that she needed to be sent so far away? 

Elizabeth never married and I wonder if she had a happy life. 

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] Sabetha, Kansas, Sabetha Herald, Wednesday, December 9, 1936, Pg. 4.

[2] Email from the Amana Heritage Society to Gail Grunst dated Friday October 13, 2017.

[3] Year: 1870; Census Place: Amana, Iowa, Iowa; Roll: M593_396; Page: 131B; Family History Library Film: 545895

[4] Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.

[5] Year: 1847; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 069; Line: 15; List Number: 677

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.  Original data: Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi.


On the Farm

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme this week is on the farm.

I only have three ancestors that farmed and I have already written about all three.  However in previous posts I wrote more about their lives and very little about their farms. Today, I will focus on John Desens my 2nd great grandfather’s farm.  John owned a farm near Greenwood, Clark, Wisconsin.[1]  A few years ago I made a trip to the court house in Neillsville, Clark, Wisconsin to research John. At that time I did not have paper proof that he was my 2nd great-grandfather and that was the purpose of the trip.  I was searching for his probate file, land records, and the criminal file for the neighbor who killed himI didn’t get everything I wanted that day, but I was able to search the Grantor and Grantee books.  I knew his death date so I started with the Grantor books for 1907 and found the sale of the farm in Sept of 1907.  I did not recognize the name of the man who purchased it.  Next I wanted to see the title and get a legal description.  So I copied down the information of the book and page number the title should be in.  The clerk took me to the basement of the court house where they kept the books. The book shelves were covered with plastic tarps.  She pulls a tarp back, pulls out the book and opens to the page.  I was able to write down the legal description.  Then next to that title was one for his son.  I wrote down that legal description too.  It appeared that they each owned 40 acres next to one another.  The clerk asked me if I would like to know where the farms were today.  She anticipated my next question!  We went back upstairs to look at the current plot book. By the legal description we were able to find the farms and the roads that they are on today.

The legal description of John’s farm read: NE quarter of Sec 6 Township 26 range 2W of the fourth Principle (40 acres).[2]  Farm today is located at SE corner of Rock Creek Road and Resewood Road from the current plat book.

John Desens Farm (2)_LI

Satellite View of John’s Farm today.  Google Earth Photo.

The legal description of Herman’s (John’s son) read: NW quarter Sec 6 Range 2W of fourth principle (40 acres).[3]

Grantor Index, Clark County Wisconsin 1905 1/2 – 1911 ½ Vol 8, page 117, notes from mortgage: Paid off September 26, 1900. [4]

Herman died in 1901 and John inherited his son’s 40 acres.[5]

According to John’s probate file when he died in 1907 his equity included the following:[6]

1 grey house

80 acres of land

1 boy horse

36 chickens

1 cook stove and pipe

1 shovel

1 spade

1 buck saw

1 screw driver

1 inch chisel

2 sacks of flour

2 tin pails

2 Axes

1 Plow

1 harness

1 trowel

1 lantern

4 chairs

1 oil can

1 bob sled

1 wood splitter

½ acre of grown peas

1 ½ acre of rye

3 ½ acres of oats

1 acre of potatoes

2 acres of grass

7 bushels of oats

1 clock

I could not make out the hand writing for some items on the list. The grand total came to $1356.81. 

It looks like John was a poor farmer.  From what I can tell he had only been farming in Wisconsin for about 8 or 9 years at the time of his death.[7]  He was 74 years old when he died.[8]  It must have been hard for him to farm by himself in his late 60’s and early 70’s.  Perhaps when he and his son bought their farms, he thought his son could do a lot of the heavy work, unfortunately his son, Herman died in 1901 at age 30.[9]

After finding the location of the farm, my husband and I drove out see it and here are some pictures of the way it looks today. 

Desens Farm

John’s Farm from the corner of Resewood Road and Rock Creek Road, Clark County, Wisconsin.


The farm was sold to Edwin H. Wood in September 1907.[10]

I did find proof that John Desens was my 2nd great-grandfather in his probate file.[11]

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] Grantor Index Book, Clark County Wisconsin 1905 1/2 – 1911 ½ Vol 8, page 117, notes from mortgage: Paid off September 26, 1900.  Filed at Clark County Courthouse, Recorder of Deeds, 517 Court Street, Room 303, Neillsville, Wisconsin 54456. 

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ancestry.com. Wisconsin, Wills and Probate Records, 1800-1987 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2015.  Original data: Wisconsin County, District and Probate Courts.

[6] Probate file for John Desens filed in the McIntyre Library at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 103 Garfield Ave, Eau Claire, WI 54701

[7] Ibid.

[8] Death Record of John Desens, Pre -1907 Wisconsin Death Record County Clark, Volume # 01 Page # 438. Filed at the State Historical Archives of Wisconsin, Miroforms room, 816 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706

[9] Clark Co., Wis. Internet Library Home Page

[10] Grantor Index Book, Clark County Wisconsin 1905 1/2 – 1911 ½ Vol 8, page 117, notes from mortgage: Paid off September 26, 1900.  Filed at Clark County Courthouse, Recorder of Deeds, 517 Court Street, Room 303, Neillsville, Wisconsin 54456. 

[11] Probate file for John Desens filed in the McIntyre Library at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 103 Garfield Ave, Eau Claire, WI 54701

Family Legends



This weeks 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic is Family Legends.  My family has several, but not one makes a very long story.  So I have decided to list a few here.

Family Legends:

  1. We are related to Napoleon. First of all I don’t know why anyone would want to admit that they were related to Napoleon.  I’ve traced that line back to the early 1700’s and I can find no relation to Napoleon.  This story came from my maternal grandmother about her mother’s family.  My mother asked one of my grandmother’s aunts.  The Aunt said that she had never heard that story, however she had heard that someone had fought in the Napoleonic Wars.  My father used to joke that he believed it because my grandmother and mother were like dictators.  I believe the aunt was right and my grandmother was wrong.
  2. My 2nd great-grandfather was a captain in the German Army in the 1870’s when he deserted the German Army and came to the United States. Of course if you are running away from the German Army you bring your pregnant wife and your 1½ year old little girl along with you.  I believe he left Germany because he belonged to a religious faith that was pacifist, and wanted to avoid conscription into the German Army.
  3. My grandmother also believed that she was part Native American. How she ever came to this conclusion, I have no idea.  Her mother was born in Germany and her father in the US born to a father born in England and a mother born in Canada to parents who came from Scotland.  She had this information, so where does the Native American heritage come in to the equation?  I don’t think it does at all.  She might have wished it to be so because she admired the Native American’s.  DNA to the rescue, my DNA shows no Native American Ancestry.
  4. My grandmother said that her grandmother’s maiden name was Fischer, she came from Canada, and she was related to the people who owned the Fischer Body Company that make the Auto bodies for Chevrolet.  Remember the famous tag “Body by Fischer” displayed on the door still plate?  Fischer Body Company was started by Fred and Charles Fischer of Detroit Michigan in 1908.[1] In 1913 they became so successful they expanded their company into Canada, setting up a plant in Walkerville Ontario.[2] The only part true is that her grandmother was from Canada.  Her Grandmother’s maiden name was Frazier not Fischer.  Another story that was not true.
  5. My father had told me that we had some ancestors who were killed by Indian’s in Wisconsin.  I was able to debunk this story.  John Desens owned a farm in Clark County Wisconsin and was killed by his neighbor.  John’s son, Herman, accidentally shot himself and died.  I wrote about both of these incidents in previous blogs. See Where there is a will and Misfortune .  The truth is they were killed, but not by Indians.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] Wikipedia Website at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher_Body

[2] Ibid.

Last Born

img001 (4)

Elmer Grunst

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  topic this week is youngest.  

Elmer Grunst was the youngest of seven children born to Albert Grunst and Anna Schmerling.  Elmer was born on 28 December 1901 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois[i] and joined his siblings Alma, Albert, Walter, and Lillian at home.[ii]  Two siblings Emma and Theodore died in infancy.[iii] Elmer was baptized on 19 January 1902 at St. Markus Lutheran Church in Chicago.[iv]  His sponsors were Gustav Elend, Louis Schulz, and Augusta Genz.[v]  Sometime during 1902 they moved to Cicero, Illinois[vi] where Elmer grew up and completed two years of high school.[vii]  Elmer was too young to for WWI and too old for WWII.  He never entered the military, however all of his sons served.  Two sons served during WWII.  One was stationed in the Pacific and the other one in Africa.[viii]  After high school he went to work for the Western Electric Company Hawthorne works at Cicero Avenue and 22nd street as a draftsman where he worked his way up to supervisor, and retired from there in 1963.[ix]  In later years, he worked for the Western Electric in downtown Chicago at the Merchandise Mart and rode the train everyday from Berwyn to Chicago.[x]  Elmer belonged to the reserve police force in Berwyn, Illinois.[xi]

img150 (2)

Elmer at target practice for the Reserve Police of Berwyn, Illinois

In 1920 he married Alice Gorski also from Cicero, Cook, Illinois.[xii]  They had five children, Elmer Jr. born in 1921, Harry in 1922, Dorothy in 1923, Lester in 1935, and Bruce in 1941.  Elmer and Alice moved to a typical Berwyn bungalow at 3708 Kenilworth Ave, Berwyn, Cook, Illinois around 1928.  The homes were built on narrow 30’ wide lots with a narrow gangway between them.  Garages were on the alley in back.  Here they raised their five children and lived in that house until their deaths.[xiii]

Elmer liked baseball and was a devout White Sox fan.  He liked sitting on his front porch in the summer and listening to the White Sox games on the radio. He taught his sons to play baseball concentrating mainly on pitching.  He also liked to golf and bowl and was good at both sports.  Elmer liked to have his beer and a shot of whiskey everyday.  He was also fond of bakery goods which he enjoyed for breakfast.[xiv] 

The family enjoyed trips to Paw Paw, Michigan where their friends had a cottage.  Elmer and Alice also took trips to Texas, California, and Florida.  Elmer liked to take day drives and would take his youngest son with him.  It was just the two of them on rode for a day of adventure.[xv] Unfortunately, Elmer was a smoker and died of Lung Cancer on 17 March 1965 at 63 years, 2 months and 17 days.  He looked forward to retirement unfortunately, he only lived a little over a year after he retired at age 62 and some of that time was spent sick with the Cancer.  His son said that it hard for him to see his father frail, sick, and in pain.  He had always been a big, strong man who was never sick.   Alice died many years later on 9 February 1981.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[i] State of Illinois, Cook County, Chicago, Certificate of Birth, Registration District No. 3104, date of birth 28 December 1901.

[ii]Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 10, Cook, Illinois; Page: 17; Enumeration District: 0288; FHL microfilm: 1240256.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Illinois, Chicago, Baptism Certificate for Elmer Grunst, Date of birth 28 December 1901, Date of Baptism 19 January 1902

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

[vii] Year: 1940; Census Place: Berwyn, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00772; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 16-5. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.

[viii] Personal knowledge from Bruce Grunst (son of Elmer Grunst) as told to Gail Grunst author of this biography.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

[xiii] Personal knowledge from Bruce Grunst (son of Elmer Grunst) as told to Gail Grunst author of this biography.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid.

William Linford dies at 100 years old

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme this week is Oldest.  I chose William Linford because he lived to 100 making him the oldest ancestor (by age) that I have found so far.  William belongs to a collateral line and is not a direct ancestor.  He is the half-brother to my 3rd great-grandfather Charles Bowers.  They share the same mother, Eliza Haggerson Linford Bowers.

William Linfor

William Linford was baptized 28 August 1811 in Terrington-St.Clement England to Eliza Haggerson and Robert Linford.[1]  On 14 October 1833 William Linford married Dinah Essaby in Gedney, Lincoln, England.[2]  They had four children John 1837, William 1840, Sarah 1844, and Robert 1846.[3] They came to the United States on 22 August 1849 and to Ottawa, Illinois on 1 October 1849.[4]  In 1851 William applied for citizenship and in 1854 became a citizen of the United States.[5]  He worked as a Sexton at the West Ottawa Cemetery until the family moved to Section 20 in Allen Township, LaSalle County, Illinois in 1856.  William farmed the land until 1879 when Dinah died and he moved to Syracuse, New York.[6]

After moving to Syracuse, New York, William married for a second time to Elizabeth (last name unknown) around 1882.[7]  Elizabeth was 33 years younger than William.[8]  Perhaps this is why he lived so long!  But William claims there were other reasons for his long life. 

I found a couple of articles written about him and his long life.  The first one is from the Post-Standard, Syracuse, New York, Friday Morning, August 26, 1910.  Below is a transcription of the article followed by the actual newspaper article. 

William Linfor No. 1516 Grape St. celebrated his ninety-ninth birthday yesterday by doing the same things he had done for many years in the past. He arose promptly at seven and had a breakfast of bread, milk, and a cup of tea.  After that meal he smoked his usual pipe and then walked in his garden until friends began to arrive with their congratulations.  There was hardly a moment until late this evening when he was without company. 

Mr. Linfor’s dinner menu included meat, potatoes, bread, coffee, and a glass of ale, and for supper he partook of some bread, milk, sauce, and a cup of tea.  In the evening he smoked another pipe, entertained a few more friends, and retired at 10 o’clock.

Today Mr. Linfor will follow the same routine, for it is this regularity to which attributes his long life.  The things which some persons regard as unhealthful are considered harmless by this jolly old man.  Coffee, tea, tobacco, and intoxicants won’t hurt anyone he thinks, if they are used moderately. 

Care in cooking of food and thorough mastication are urged by Mr. Linfor, if a long life is desired.  Don’t worry is another of his maxims.  Mrs. Linfor says he has nothing to worry about except that he hears very little and can see scarcely at all, so he doesn’t know anything about worrying.  So philosophical are the husband and wife, however, that they did not seem to imagine that the loss of sight and hearing would cause most persons to worry.  Mr. Linfor has a remarkable memory and he delights to quote passages from the books he has read and to recite over and over again incidents of his early life and events that are history to the present generation.

Mr. Linfor was born in Norfolk, England and has lived in this country, he says, “only” sixty-one years. Thirty-one of these have been spent in Syracuse and twenty-eight in the house which he now occupies.  When he first reached this city, the manner of reaching Long Branch was by steamer from Salina Pier, the Onondaga County Fair was held here, the R. W. & O. Railroad ran excursions to Frenchmans Island and the Syracuse Opera Company gave performances at the old Weiting Opera House. 

Mr. Linford has two sons, eighteen grandchildren, and sixteen great-grandchildren.  Two Nieces are the only relatives, except his wife, who live near this city.”[9]

Linford 1

The second find is in a book titled Art of Longevity by B. J. Henley, Syracuse, N.Y. 1911 along with a picture of William Linfor (see above).  They have the wrong place of birth and a couple of other facts wrong.  Here is a transcription of that article.

William Linford – 99 Years Old

Born in Linconshire, England, August 25, 1811 – Now living in Syracuse, N. Y.

From the Syracuse Journal

“William Linfor, 1516 Grape St. is beginning to carry a cane.  He is getting ready to celebrate his 99th birthday, August 25th, and his friends have persuaded him that such an ornament is very appropriate for that time of life.  He finds it very awkward, but says that he can do it.

Mr. Linfor is one of the most self-reliant men in Syracuse.  Born in Lincolnshire, England in 1811, he has been a resident of the United States for forty years.  He is a farmer and has never lost interest in his profession.  He bought a farm in Ransom, Ill., when land was worth $1.75 an acre and lived to see it worth $200.  He has three Children, numerous grandchildren, and finds it hard work to keep an accurate census of his great-grandchildren. 

His activity is the wonder of the neighborhood.  He finds plenty to do and always does it thoroughly.  Neighbors could hardly believe last winter that the spry old man they saw climbing a ladder to clean the snow from the roof of his house was almost a centenarian, but he was and he isn’t nearly ready to quit work yet.”

Mr. Linfor’s habits of life have been extremely regular.  He has always been very moderate in eating and never under any circumstances allowed himself to eat beyond what he knew he could properly digest.  The result is a ripe old age, free from many infirmities of extreme age.  Mr. Linfor is still in possessions of all his faculties, exception his hearing which has failed considerably.  He is mentally keen and can readily recall dates and incidents in his long life.

The strictly temperate mode of living, never allowing his system to become gorged with food is responsible for Mr. Linfor’s long life and excellent health.”[10]

 William Linfor died on 28 January 1912 of pleurisy at the ripe old age of 100.[11]

Copyright  © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] Baptism for William Linford 28 August 1811; Terrington St. Clement, Norfolk, England; Parish Register Baptism and Burials 1772 – 1812  Item 2; Microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Wisbech, Cambs., filmed 26 July 1988, Film Number 13640109, film unit # 2161 NCD 2 Roll # 5.

[2] England Marriages, 1538–1973 database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NVJ5-JXV : 10 February 2018), William Linfor and Dinah Essaby, 14 “Oct 1833; citing Gedney, Lincoln, England, reference , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1542146 IT 1.

[3] Year: 1850; Census Place: Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; roll: M432_115; Page: 269B; Image: 191.

[4] Biographical and Genealogy Record of LaSalleCountyIllinois(Google eBook) (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), p. 227.

[5] National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D. C.; Soundex Index to Naturalization Petitions for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization service District 9 1840 – 1950 (M1285); microfilm Serial: M1285; Microfilm Roll 112.

[6] Biographical and Genealogy Record of LaSalleCountyIllinois(Google eBook) (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), p. 224 & 227.

[7] Year: 1910; Census Place: Syracuse Ward 18, Onondaga, New York; Roll: T624_1057; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0187; FHL microfilm: 1375070.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.  Original data: Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Syracuse, New York, Post-Standard, August 26, 1910, Friday Morning, page 7.

[10] Henley B. J., The Art of Longevity (Google eBook) (Syracuse, N.Y, 1911), p. 223 & 224.

[11] Health News. Monthly Bulletin (Google ebook) (New York State Division of Public Health Education, Albany, New York), New Series, Vol. VIII, No 1, Full Series Vol. XXIX No 1,  January 1913.