Thursday, September 3, 2020

Hello again!

 Hi everyone! Oh my goodness, where has the time gone?  I truly want to apologize for my long absence.  I am going to try really hard to start writing and sharing some more stories on my various family members.  Please feel free to reach out at anytime!!  


Monday, March 23, 2015

#52 Ancestors #7: William Fairchild Drackley

Greetings everyone!  I hope spring has sprung where you are living.  The weather here in Colorado is beautiful today -- mid 60s, but a little breezy.  Usually March is our snowiest month, but we have been pretty snow free so far.  I have fallen a little behind on my 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge but I am hoping to catch up this week.  We will see!  Today I am posting about one of my great-great grandfather's in a line I have not written about yet.  Please feel free to send any comments to my email: or send a tweet @MelTafaro  For some reason people can't leave comments on the blog.  Have a great day!!

              William Fairchild Drackley was my great-great grandfather.  I am uncertain of his birth date – his obituary states he was born on 15 February 1867, his biography says he was born in February of 1870, but according to the 1870 United States Census he was born in March of 1870.  Most of the censuses after that seem to argue for an 1870 date but I am still uncertain of it.  William was born in Seneca, LaSalle, Illinois to Richard Drackley and Abigail Fairchild.  William was the fourth of six children born to Richard and Abigail.  Richard was a farmer.
                According to his biography, in 1893 he became the manager of a 1,100 acre cattle ranch owned by Standard Coal Company in Seneca.  William married Mary Alice Wilmerth on 1 September 1897, in Morris, Grundy, Illinois.  Mary Alice was born on 27 April 1872, in Mexico, Oswego, New York.  She lived there until 1892 when she moved to Seneca.  In 1899, their first child, Alma Irene was born.  The 1900 United States census shows the family living in Vienna township, Grundy, Illinois.  Shortly after, the family made their way to Radcliffe, Hardin, Iowa.  There their next five children were born (including my great grandmother). 
                In 1911, William purchased eighty acres of land for $4,800 in Richfield, Wood, Wisconsin.  He moved the family there in 1912.  While there, he was mentioned in the newspaper for having a flock of domesticated wild mallards.  In 1913 he had two hatchings – one with fourteen ducks and the other with seventeen.  He said they were much easier to raise compared to regular ducks, very hardy and just as big.  That year also brought the death of his mother who was living in Iowa.  According to the newspaper he left right away and took the train to be at her funeral. 
                According to his biography, William did not hold on to that property for long.  He purchased a new eighty acres for $5,000, also in Richfield, in 1914 and moved the family there.  By now the family was complete as their last child, Elizabeth, was born in 1913.  Along with farming, the family also raised sheep.  According to her daughter, Clara often told of eating mutton growing up -- it must have been often if she remembered it!  In 1917, family and friends gathered as William and Mary Alice celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary.  According to a newspaper item, they received a one hundred piece set of china along with other matching pieces.   In his biography which appeared in the Marshfield History Books, while living in Richfield he was a town assessor and a clerk for the school district. 
                The 1920 census finds the family farming on their land in Richfield.  Living with William, Mary Alice, and their seven children is Mary Alice’s brother Francis.  Alma, the eldest child, is working outside of the home as a saleslady in a general merchandise store.  On 31 May 1926, Mary Alice passed away.  Though it states her health had been declining during the previous months, her cause of death was listed as apoplexy or stroke.  Less than a year later, William sold the farm to the Old Line Life Insurance.  He would spend the rest of his time staying with his children a few months at a time.  His granddaughter, Mary Ann remembers him staying at her house.  They would sit on the front porch and watch the cars go by.  She said he smoked a pipe, was very smart, and loved raisins and lima beans (though probably not together!). 
                In 1930 William was staying with his daughter, Alma, and her family.  William is a laborer on a farm – presumably the family farm.  The next year, William has several letters to the editor posted to the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune.  One grouping of letters was regarding prohibition (he was for it) and the second grouping was about prices that farmers got for their crops and dairy goods (he wanted the best price and thought farmers were being taken advantage of). 

                According to his obituary, William spent seven years living in Fresno, California.  Daughter Olive and her family were living in California, so he was probably staying with them.  He returned to Marshfield, Wisconsin, in 1939, and was staying with his daughter Elizabeth and her family.  His health had been declining for close to a year when he passed away on 1 September 1939.   William Fairchild Drackley is buried, along with Mary Alice, in the Richfield cemetery.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

52 Ancestors #6: Dora Lamere Specht

Hello again!  Here's the bio on my great great grandmother!  She passed away when I was nine days old.  Wish I could have known her!

                Christ and Anna (Couture) Lamere’s eldest child was Dora Rosalea Lamere.  She was born on 20 February 1881, in Marshfield, Wood, Wisconsin.  She grew up on the family farm in the town of Lincoln and she received her education in Marshfield.  Dora is my 2nd great grandmother.
                On 1 July 1902, Dora married Peter Herman Specht at St. John’s Catholic Church in Marshfield.  After their marriage, the couple moved to Stevens Point, Portage, Wisconsin, where Peter was employed as a furniture carver.  By 1905, their family included sons Albert, Harold, and LeRoy (my great grandfather).  The 1905 Wisconsin state census also shows that Dora’s sister Eva is living with the family.  Eva and Dora’s mother, Anna Couture Lamere, passed away in 1898 when Eva was only four years old.  After Dora was married and established, Eva came to live with her.  In 1906, a daughter, Leone was born.  This was followed by a son, Roman Frank, in December of 1907.  Tragically, Roman passed away after only seven weeks.  Daughter Lucille was born in 1909.  In 1910, daughter Germaine was born, but she passed away after only twelve days.   The last child, a son Eugene, was born in 1917.
                The 1920 Census has the family living in the township of Richfield in Wood County, Wisconsin.  Peter is farming; Dora is taking care of the family.  Five of the six kids are old enough to be in school.  Dora’s sister Eva married in 1913 and has moved.  However, after selling his farm in 1914, Dora’s father Christ has moved in with the family. 
                Dora’s father passed away in 1923.  Dora and Peter owned their eighty acres in Richfield until at least 1928.  However, the 1930 United States census shows the family living in Tacoma, Pierce, Washington.  Only son Eugene made the move with his parents.  Peter is working as a wood carver.  They stayed in Washington until at least 1935 before moving again, this time to Wildwood Township, Koochiching, Minnesota.  Eugene is still living with his parents.  According to the 1940 United States census, Peter is back to farming and Eugene works for the Civilian Conservation Corps. 
                After moving back to Marshfield in 1950, Peter and Dora celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  This occasion was also special because it was the first time in over twenty-five years, that all of Peter’s siblings were together again.  A celebration with over seventy people occurred which included a lot of visiting and a picnic lunch.  Also attending were three of their children. 
                The year 1961 brought two celebrations for Dora.  She celebrated her 80th birthday and her 59th wedding anniversary.   Dora celebrated the birthday with three parties spread out over a week.  The anniversary brought another party where their remaining five children were in attendance.  By this time the family includes 25 grandchildren and 61 great-grandchildren.  According to the article, Dora enjoyed crocheting and knitting.  She was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and their Christian Mother Society.
                Peter passed away on 6 July 1964, after being in ill health for about three years.  He had been in the hospital for a month.  He is buried at the Gate of Heaven cemetery in Marshfield.  After his death, Dora made her home with her son LeRoy and his wife Clara before she had to enter the nursing home.  Dora passed away on 8 June 1975.  At the time of her death she had 25 grandchildren; 80 great-grandchildren; and 22 great-great-grandchildren (including me – I was 9 days old when she passed away).  She is also buried at Gate of Heaven cemetery in Marshfield.

52 Ancestors #5: Christ Lamere

Hi all!  This is the family line I am writing about for the Family History Writing Challenge.  I figured I could take some of that and put it into this!  Hope you enjoy!  

              Christ Lemieux was born on 14 March 1845, in Trois-Rivieres (Three Rivers), Quebec, Canada, to Louis Lemieux and Julie Marose.   Sometime after moving to the United States, he changed his last name to Lamere.  Christ is my 3rd great-grandfather.
                Not much is known about the Lemieux family when Christ and his siblings were children.  According to his obituary, Christ came to the United States after the Civil War.  He first went to Illinois before making his way to Wisconsin.  The 1910 United States census states that Christ came to the US in 1866.  While living in Illinois, Christ worked in the lumber industry.  Again, according to his obituary, he would make trips down the Mississippi to St. Louis with rafts of logs each spring. 
                When he came to Marshfield, it was little more than a wilderness.  However, with other settlers like Louis Rivers and “Curley” Couture, efforts were made to establish a settlement.
                Christ established a general store in Marshfield.  When the settlement decided they needed a place for the children to have lessons, the front room over this store was used. 
                In May of 1878, Christ married Anna Couture.  She was the sister of his friend Curley Couture.  Christ and Anna sold the store and moved to Mannville – which at the time was a much larger town than Marshfield.  Before moving again in 1887 to a farm in Lincoln township, Christ and Anna had four children.  Born in 1881 was Dora, in 1883 was Joseph, in 1884 was Archie, and in 1886 was Walter.  Following the move three more children were born:  an unnamed child who was born and passed away in 1890, Ray in 1891, and Eva in 1894. 
                Tragedy struck in 1898 when Anna passed away.   In 1900, Christ’s sister moved in.  The US Census for 1900, the Wisconsin state census for 1905, and the US Census for 1910 all show Salome Landry, who is listed as Christ’s sister, living with the family.  She is a widow, who according to the 1910 Census had four children though none survived.  She was working as a servant.  One may guess that she came to help her brother after his wife passed away.  Christ still had four children at home between the ages of four and fourteen. 
                After selling the farm in 1914, Christ moved in with his daughter Dora and her husband Peter Herman Specht.  Chris LaMere passed away on Thursday, 18 October 1923.  According to his obituary his death was without warning and was caused by a “stroke of paralysis the second in a year”.  At the time he was visiting his son, Ray.  Wednesday evening he said he was suffering for a slight stomach ache so the next morning he walked up to the clinic for treatment.  He passed away that night. 
                He is buried next to Anna at the Hillside Cemetery in Marshfield, Wood, Wisconsin. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #4: William Davis Farnsworth

Hi everyone.  Hope you are doing well.  Here is this weeks installment for the 52 Ancestors challenge.  I hope you are enjoying them!

                My third great-grandfather, William Davis Farnsworth was born on 28 March 1853 in Jasper, Newton County, Arkansas.  His father was William W. Farnsworth and his mother was Martha Emiline Henderson.  William W. was born in Pennsylvania and Martha in Tennessee.  The couple was married in Missouri before moving to and settling in Arkansas.  William Davis was the fifth of nine children born to the couple.  William Davis’s father was a school teacher and the postmaster in Jasper.  People say that is because he was the only male in Jasper who could read and write. 
                When the Civil War broke out the Farnsworth family found themselves in a serious situation.  Arkansas is a southern state and William W. was a Union sympathizer.  Soon it was no longer safe for William W. to stay in Jasper.  Bushwackers, who killed all males, young or old, if they did not support the Confederacy were quickly on to William W.  So William W. left for Columbia County, Wisconsin, where his brother lived.  Martha soon followed with the nine children, their cattle and all the possessions.  Along the way, much of their possessions were stolen by the Bushwackers.  Also, along the way tragedy struck when Martha and one of her daughters died in Savannah, Illinois, of diphtheria.  The remainder of the children including William Davis continued on by themselves to Wisconsin. 
                By the time of the 1870 United States census, William Davis had already been though a lot.  In 1870 he was a sixteen year old working on a farm in Caledonia, Columbia, Wisconsin.  In the early 1870s, he went to visit his sister, Mary, in Iowa.  There he met Catherine McDonald, daughter of John and Catherine Ann McDonald.  William Davis and Catherine were married on 18 June 1874 in Delhi, Delaware, Iowa.  After they were married, they settled in Caledonia, Wisconsin, and to this union, twelve children were born – eight boys and four girls.  According to the census records, William was a farmer while in Caledonia.  All of the children seemed to have been raised on the family farm.

                On 10 June 1905, at the age of forty-nine, Catherine passed away following a short illness.  At the time there were still six children living at home – the youngest was five years old.  In 1921, son Ira passed away from a burst appendix.  By 1930, William was seventy-three, retired and living with his youngest two children.  On 4 March 1931, William passed away at his home in Caledonia.  According to the newspaper he had been in failing health the last few years of his life, however was well on the day of his death.  William and Catherine are both buried at the Welsh Cemetery in Portage, Columbia County, Wisconsin. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #3: Felix Nelles

Hello everyone!  I hope you are well.  As promised, today is the biography about Felix Nelles, my father's paternal grandfather.  He was one of the great-grandparents I did not know.  I hope you enjoy!

                Felix was born on 20 June 1906 in Quincy, Grant, Washington.  His parents were Matt and Beata (Hoffman) Nelles.  Felix was the second of six children and the only one born in the state of Washington.  Early on the family seemed to move quite a bit:  Felix’s sister was born in Minnesota in 1905, Felix in Washington in 1906, sister Melitta was born in Minnesota in 1908, in 1910 they were enumerated in the United States census in Washington, in 1912 back to Minnesota where brother Clarence was born.  In 1919, the family went to Texas but did not stay long.  The land they invested in was worthless, Beata could not adjust to the climate, and it is possible that Felix had a brush with rheumatic fever.  Finally when the 1920s came around, they settled in Wisconsin and stayed there.  One more brother, Max, was born in Wisconsin in 1923.
                On 10 May 1927 Felix married Esther Michels who was the daughter of Nickolaus and Tillie (Michaelis) Michels.  They were married at Corpus Christi Catholic church in the town where they both resided.  The 1930 United States Census for Lincoln Township, Wood, Wisconsin, shows the family quickly growing.  Felix and Esther are joined by sons Harold and Dwaine.  Also living close by are Esther’s parents and grandparents.  Felix and Esther are renting their home for $12.  He is working as a blacksmith.   The home that they rented was an apartment above the blacksmith shop where Felix worked.  The owner of the shop was Esther’s father, Nick. 
                The 1930s kept Felix and Esther busy as three more children joined the family:  Edward (my grandfather) in 1931, June in 1933, and Ethel in 1935.  Felix became known as one of the best mechanics in the area – he could diagnose the problem a car was having just by listening to it drive up the road.  Unfortunately, he also suffered from a heart ailment possibly brought on by his brush with rheumatic fever.  My grandfather said they called it a leaking heart back that.  He would easily get tired and have to rest often. 
                Tragedy struck the family when in 1939 Dwaine got an ear infection which quickly turned into mastoiditis.  Before antibiotics became more common in 1942, this was one of the leading causes of death in children.  Unfortunately for Felix and Esther, it claimed their son in January of 1940 shortly after his tenth birthday.  The 1940 US Census finds the family still in Lincoln Township.  Felix is now listed as a trucker for an ice and fuel yard.  Under the employment section he does state that for a time in the last year he was unable to work presumably due to health issues.   Children Ethel and Edward remember their father being sick quite often and hospitalized.  If work required him to go up and down stairs, he would get winded fast and have to take time off.  According to Edward, Felix also had to make regular trips to Milwaukee via bus to the draft board.  They would not take his doctor’s word that he had a heart ailment, so would have to go for a physical every thirty days in order to not get drafted into World War II.
                On 3 December 1943, Felix was admitted to the hospital.  Edward remembered him getting pneumonia from having to walk to a doctor’s appointment in the rain.  Apparently construction was being done on the road and he was not able to drive on it.  I do not know if this is what led to his hospitalization or if this was earlier on.  Felix passed away on 13 December 1943 in Marshfield, Wood, Wisconsin, at age 37.  He was survived by his wife and five children:  Harold, Edward, June, Ethel, and newest addition, Jerry who was only eleven months when his dad passed.  Felix is buried in Bakerville, Wood, Wisconsin, at the Corpus Christi Catholic cemetery. 


Monday, January 19, 2015

52 Ancestors #2: Blanche Ethel Wittke

Hello again!  As many of you know, I was fortunate enough to know six of my eight great-grandparents.  The two I did not know will be the subjects of the next two biographies.  I hope you enjoy and as always, look forward to your comments.  Thanks!

            One of only two great-grandparents I never met was Blanche Ethel Wittke.  She was my mother’s maternal grandmother.  Blanche was born on 10 January 1908, in Clark County, Wisconsin to August Wittke, Junior and Ethel Schummel.  August was born in Illinois and Ethel in Wisconsin.  In the 1910 United States census, August, Ethel and Blanche were living in Pine Valley, Clark, Wisconsin, where August was a farmer.  
            The 1920s saw a lot of change in Blanche’s life.  The 1920 US census shows her and her family living in Levis, Clark, Wisconsin.  Blanche is twelve years old and is now joined by two year old sister Olga.  On 14 May 1924, at age sixteen, Blanche married my great-grandfather, Carl Heinrich Sternitzky who was twenty-eight years old.  They were married at the Mapleworks Lutheran Church in Granton, Clark, Wisconsin.  Less than a year later, their first son, Duane, was born.  Two more children were born in the 1920s – Arlene in 1926 and Shirley in 1929.
            According to the 1930 census, Carl and Blanche were living in the township of Lynn, Clark, Wisconsin.  Carl was a farmer while Blanche took care of the children.  The addition of three more children kept the household busy:  Douglas was born in 1931, Patty (my grandmother) in 1936, and finally, Donald in 1937.   However, about six months after Donald was born, Blanche left the family.  Though I do not know for sure, Blanche may have suffered from postpartum depression.  She did say she was overwhelmed having six children so young – she was not yet thirty when Donald was born. 
            According to her obituary, she moved to Rochester, Olmsted, Minnesota, in 1938 where she was employed by a hospital.  According to my mother, Blanche worked in the dietary department.  She remained employed there until her retirement in 1970.  The 1940 US census shows Blanche living in Rochester with her new husband, Irving Payne.  He is forty-nine years old (compared to her thirty-two years) and he works in construction.  According to the census, Blanche is a maid in a private home.  I do not know if she had this maid job before working in the hospital or if she held both jobs for awhile. 
            I do not know much about Blanche’s life after the 1940 census.  I know she was married to Irving until his death in 1962, but they had no children of their own.  After her retirement in 1970 she moved to Neillsville, Clark, Wisconsin.  She married Arnold Sternitzky on 10 January 1972 and in 1974 they moved to Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  Blanche lived there until her death on 10 July 1979 from an apparent heart attack.  She is buried in Rochester with Irving.
            I do know that after leaving Carl, she sued for custody of her two youngest children, but Carl retained custody of all of the children.  She did reach out to her children while they were growing up.  The younger ones were more receptive but maybe that is because she brought them candy!  She was not always invited to family occasions, in consideration to Carl, but as years went on, and grandchildren were added to the mix, she was included more.  The grandchildren referred to her as Grandma Payne.