Welcome to The Patchwork Genealogist!

My name is Amanda, and I created this space to share the creative ways I’m telling my family’s story. I hope this space will inspire you to find ways to preserve and share the legacy of your own family, too.

You can expect to hear from me about once a week, when I’ll cover updates on my current projects, including Women of Legacy and Salt of the Earth. I’ll be sure to share new ideas, my most recent quilt block, or new resources to aid your storytelling.

In the coming weeks, be sure to check out my Welcome page, and the pages I’ve built for my different projects. These pages are currently under construction, and I’ll add to them as I build out my projects and my blog.

Please leave a comment! I’d love to know know how you found my blog, what you’re most interested in discovering, or topics you’d like to see me cover.



52 Ancestors: Teams

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge theme is Teams. Let me take you through five generations and 100 years of team sports in my family.

1919 – Paternal Great-grandmother Ella Stith

1919 Bluffton High School girls’ basketball team, featured in the Bluffton Newspaper 23 December 1999 – Ella Stith Shine is the first seated young woman in the front row on the left.

Ella Stith Shine (1901-1993), my great-grandmother, played basketball for Bluffton Schools over 100 years ago. I remember, as a child, listening with fascination to the story of her woolen uniform, coupled with the rule that female players were not allowed to sweat during competition. If perspiration was noted, the young lady would be taken out of the game until she cooled down. I’m, honestly, still fascinated by this story and the utter absurdity of the idea that one could possibly play an enjoyable game of basketball without a bit of sweat (never no mind that wool uniform nonsense).

My memories of my great-grandmother (the only great-grandparent I remember knowing) is of a polite, refined, quiet lady with styled hair and a pearl necklace. She would sit in the comfortable brown chair in my grandparents house and quietly observe the chaos created by her great-grandchildren. But as I’ve learned more about her, my memory of her doesn’t quite fit with the amazing things she did in her life. I’ll share more about Ella in a future Women of Legacy post.

1949 – Paternal Grandfather Jack Shine

Lima South Football Team, 1948-1949 School Year

Jack Shine, my grandpa and son of Benjamin Gail and Ella (Stith) Shine was a three sport athlete – football, basketball and baseball. You can spot him in the second row, fourth from the left in the photo above. Some of my earliest memories of my grandparents involve sports – attending basketball games, sports on the TV, even going to major league baseball games. And, of course, when I was old enough, they’d come to my sporting events, too. My grandpa remains an active athlete, and can often be found at the local YMCA (he was even their poster boy a few years ago!).

The grinning, curly haired boy in the photo doesn’t seem terribly different from the man I know today. Active, funny, charming, always ready with a good story. He’s a proud Cleveland Browns fan, Ohio State Buckeyes fan, and Cincinnati Reds fan. Which provides the opportunity for a perfect generational segue photo. Take a look at these handsome guys:

Jack Shine & Mark Shine c. 2019

1969 – Father Mark Shine

The 1969-1970 Lima Senior High Basketball Team

Mark Shine, my dad, has been actively involved in sports his whole life. It is highly possible he entered the world with a basketball in his hands. He played high school basketball and baseball for Lima Senior, and college ball at Defiance College. I may never be forgiven for this level of embarassment I’ve brough upon him, but since all of these photos were screenshotted right off the internet, it’s not like I’m spilling a major family secret!

Seriously, take a look at this stud. This is Sports Illustrated worthy:

A classic “not dunk” photo from Mark’s last game of his high school career, at the regional semi-final game, Lima Senior vs. Rossford. Why “not dunk” – dunking was still illegal in basketball!
Photo credit Defiance College Defender 1972-03-16 Volume 11, Issue 17, Edition 1

After college, he did what comes naturally to gifted athletes – he started coaching his own teams. First at Bellevue High School and then at my own high school alma mater.

Bellevue High School Varsity Basketball 1981-1982 season. You’ll find Coach Shine in the middle, front and center.
Dad’s the tall, handsome looking guy in the far back on the far left.

Today, my dad remains engaged with high school sports. After he finished coaching he took up officiating and local sports broadcasting with WOSN. Like his father, you can still sometimes find him active at the local YMCA – sometimes at the same time of day!

1999 – Me!

I dabbled in team sports most of my growing up, but by high school, my sport of choice was tennis. If the photo layout style looks eerily similar to the Varsity Basketball team above, it’s because they came out of the same year book from Bath High School, 1999.

Bath High School Tennis Team, Fall 1998. You’ll find me in the first row, second from the right.

And because I haven’t already embarassed my family enough with humiliating high school photos – check out my totes adorbs sister with her high school volleyball team!

Lima Baptist Temple Varsity Volleyball Team 2001-2002 school year. My sister is the adorable #32 on the left.

2019 – My Big Kid

And, of course, what proud mama doesn’t want to show off her absolutely adorable preschooler doing the team sport thing – like so many of his ancestors before him. Although COVID has made team sports difficult for kiddos these days, a few years ago my big kid had the opportunity and interest to play T-ball – so here he is during his one and only season as a member of the Royals team. For the privacy of the other kids on his team, I’m not including a team photo.

The Big Kid, getting ready to run for home plate and score a point!

At this particular moment, I suspect my mom is grateful to not have played team sports and that I neglected to show her lovely face in her Block L yearbook photo. This was an incredibly fun article to write, and sourcing the photos was a blast, in particular thanks to the great resource that is www.classmates.com, where you can find thousands of high school yearbooks from across the country.

The Blacksmith’s Wife

In this installment of Women of Legacy, I honor the life of Ann VanAtta Shine, the wife of Civil War Veteran and blacksmith, Christian Shine.

Name: Ann Van Atta Shine (1829/1831 – 1913)

Quilt Block: Yankee Puzzle

Relationship: 3rd paternal great-grandmother

Yankee Puzzle in greens & purples. I’m absolutely in love with that floral!

Ann Van Atta was born to James Van Atta and his wife Mary Cunningham Van Atta between 1829 and 1831 in Moon Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. No birth record has been found for Ann, but her death certificate names both her parents and provides a birth date – March 16. The year of her birth is somewhat confused: her death certificate indicates 1831 while her tombstone inscription indicates 1829.

Not much is known about Ann’s family. The Van Attas were recorded in southwest Pennsylvania in 1780 when Ann’s presumed great-grandfather John was called for jury duty in the now non-existent Yohogonia County, Virginia (now part of Pennsylvania). John served as a Private in the 3rd Battalion of the New York Militia during the American Revolution and he removed to western Pennsylvania at the conclusion of the war. The Van Attas, or as they were originally known Van Ettens, were from the Ulster, Kingston area of New York and had been in the area since Jacob Jansen VanEtten arrived from the Netherlands in the mid-1600s.

The Cunningham family is more difficult to trace in Western Pennsylvania; at least one branch was a long-standing family in Beaver County. I’ve speculated that Ann’s maternal grandfather may have been Archibald Cunningham and her grandmother Nancy King. Archibald emigrated to Beaver County from Donegal, Ireland, and in the 1820 census had five girls in his household in the age category Mary Cunningham would have been. Emigration from Donegal strongly indicates Scots-Irish heritage as Clan Cunningham is associated with Ayreshire, Scotland, and the Cunninghams of Donegal were part of King James’s 1610 Plantation of Ulster, particularly in the area of Lough Swilly.

Other Cunninghams came to Beaver County from Ohio and from Virginia and also rose to prominence in the community. Additional possible candidates for Ann’s maternal grandfather include Thomas Cunningham of Moon Township, William Cunningham of Shenango Township and Benjamin Cunningham of Shenango Township. All had girls of appropriate age in their houses in the 1820 census who could have been Ann’s mother Mary. The lack of names for those who were not heads of household and the lack of birth or baptismal records makes it difficult to determine which family might have belonged to Mary. Mary Cunningham’s predecessors, their immigration to American and whether they came directly from Ayreshire, Scotland, or by way of Donegal or Northern England may never be known for certain.

However they all came to be in Beaver County, it seems likely James Van Atta and his wife Mary Cunningham grew up together. They were probably married before 1830, as James is found on the 1830 census in Moon Township with two young children (one possibly Ann, indicating the 1829 birth year to be more accurate), his wife, and what I suspect is a servant, mother’s helper, younger sibling, or niece. Ann’s brother in the 1830 Census is unknown – but may have been named James, as there was a James Van Atta who listed James Van Atta and Mary Cunningham as his parents on a late-in-life Iowa marriage license in 1883. Ann’s younger brother Benjamin was born in 1831/1832. Exactly how many children James and Mary had is uncertain – three are known for sure, but there may have been as many as five.

Ann’s mother Mary died between 1832 and 1835, possibly in childbirth. Her fate is, at this time, wholly unknown. There are neither death or nor burial records to indicate what happened to Mary. In 1835, Ann’s father remarried a woman named Margaret Hodge Hadley. Like the Van Attas and the Cunninghams, the Hodge family had been in Western Pennsylvania for some time. Margaret was a widow, although if she had any children by her first husband they are not known. Margaret and James Van Atta had eight children.

By 1840, James had moved his family from southwestern Pennsylvania north to Lackawanna, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Close to Youngstown on the Ohio border, there isn’t an obvious reason why the Van Attas moved. Perhaps land or work. This move has led many family historians to conclude that Ann and her siblings, and even her father, were born in Lackawanna – although census records and local histories don’t bear this fact out. The family did not remain in the area very long. Within a decade, the family had relocated to Hancock County, Ohio.

It was in Hancock, County that Ann met Christian Benjamin Shine – a blacksmith and native of Fostoria, Seneca County, Ohio. Christian was the son of German immigrants, his father coming to the United States as a child – along with his family – in the early part of the 19th century. The family probably spoke both English and German – Christian’s brother Henry still used the German spelling of the family name in his English Bible dated 1837: Schihing.

Henry W. Shine’s bible, photo credit to Sherry Ballinger shared on Ancestry

Christan was the son of a farmer, the family first settling in Seneca County, the moving to Stark County and finally Hancock County. On 28 June 1849, Ann and Christian married in Madison Township, Hancock County, Ohio.

Marriage record of Christian Shine and Ann Van Atta, Hancock County, Ohio, 1829

Ann and Christian settled down next door to Christian’s parents’ farm, where Christian set himself up as a blacksmith. Ann’s brother Benjamin came to live with them, and a daughter, Emaline, was born in the spring of 1850. No records of Emaline exist, aside from the 1850 census; and she presumably died young. Her burial location is unknown.

Ann and Christian had three more children: Henry W., Margaret “Maggie,” and Benjamin Franklin. Life must have settled into a comfortable pattern for Ann and Christian. Blacksmithing was an important and much needed skill, and much of Christian’s family was nearby. Of course, those of us with the perspective of history know that what looks lovely on an 1860 census wasn’t going to last very long at all.

Christian, with a trade to maintain and three young children at home, appeared to have no desire to enlist in the military at the start of the Civil War. But when the The Draft Act of 1863 was passed, he registered in July of 1863. Christian was called up to serve and enlisted on September 29, 1864. He was assigned to Company B of the Ohio 21st Infantry. At this late date in the war, Christian avoided the worst battles – including Chickamauga – and caught up with his regiment somewhere in Georgia to complete Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea. His unit was then marched to Washington D.C., their formal muster out place. He returned home in the summer of 1865.

The Civil War wasn’t kind to the Shines – although other families certainly suffered greater losses. Brother Jacob volunteered in the Ohio 64th. Brother John, who had moved to Indiana, enlisted with Company K of the Indiana 60th infantry. Christian’s brother Henry enlisted with the Ohio National Guard, and succumbed to “camp fever” in 1864 – presumably typhoid or dysentery. It seems only brother George was left home with his aging parents, two sisters-in-law, a wife, 3 children, nieces and nephews.

What happened to Ann and her children in the year Christian was gone? Unlike a farmer’s wife, Ann could not possibly take over the smithy, nor could her young old son. Without letters or records – we’re left only to speculation. The 1870 census, five years after Christian returned home, tells us that the value of his personal property was cut nearly in half since 1860. The family had also moved away from the Shine farm in Madison Township to live in McComb, Union Township. I wonder if Ann sold the smithy near the Shine farm to have the resources to support her children while Christian was away. I like to think she was cared for by her nearby relatives; that she leaned into the community of Shines she had around her, partnering with her husband’s family to keep everyone fed and clothed.

However they managed, Christian was home by the summer of 1865 and at some point in the intervening years moved his family to McComb where he set up a new smithy. By 1870, his smithy was prosperous enough he was able to employ someone to work along side him. The intervening years were quiet ones – the two younger children finished school, daughter Margaret got married, and the first grandchild joined the family. The Shines no doubt worked hard, but if they were anything like the Shine family I know today, they played hard too.

On the 24th of January, 1877, Christian died suddenly of a heart attack. According to his obituary, he was in the midst of a very busy work season, and after wrapping up a conversation with a customer, went to close up the smithy. Son Henry found him only a few minutes later, when he went to call his father in to dinner. The sudden death of a respected member of the community was no doubt deeply shocking to the small town of Union Center. His funeral was held in the German Lutheran Church near Arlington, Ohio, and he was buried in Clymer Cemetery in Mount Cory. He was not yet 50 years old.

Obituary, Christian Shine, Findlay Hancock Jeffersonian 2 February 1877 Page 3 Column 5

Ann was left a widow at the age of 47. Her children were 23, 20, and 19.

Ann was left administratrix of Christian’s estate. In addition to the standard household items Ann was allowed to remove from the estate appraisal, she kept Christian’s blacksmithing tools, 4 hogs and $40 (in lieu of a cow). In total, Ann’s calculations indicated her husband’s estate owed her over $200, once all the assets were sold.

There is a curious note in Ann’s administration of Christian’s estate – that she had remarried and her name had changed to Ann Walter. Her signature as Ann Walter can be found in a document dated 1881. I had no previous indication that Ann had remarried (future census records don’t indicate a name change). On this tip, I searched the Ohio County marriage records and found that on August 1, 1880, Ann married Frederick Walter in Hancock County.

Ann Shine Walter’s signature, dated 4 March 1881, from Christian Shine’s probate documents

Frederick Walter is a bit of a mystery man. There is one man who caught my eye as a likely prospect – Frederick Walter of Hancock County lost his wife in 1878 and died in 1898. He had children marry into the Lanning family, as Anna’s youngest son would. The biggest drawback seemed to be his age – he was the same age as Ann’s father and more than 20 years her senior. I’d already written a paragraph about him, when I discovered his estate documents. He not only left nothing to a wife of any sort (everything went to his children) in his will, his administrator insisted he left no widow at all.

1880 marriage record of Frederick Walter and Anna Shine, certified by minister A.C. Stull

The mystery becomes a bit more clear with a sorrowful piece of news on 27 December 1883, when The Weekly Jeffersonian out of Findlay, Ohio, records the following:

Judge Pendleton, on Monday, granted Mrs. Anna Walter a divorce from her husband, Frederick Walter, on the ground of cruelty. The order of the Court was that Frederick give Anna lot No. 54, in the Village of Mt. Cory, and $100 in cash. Frederick is 71 years old and Anna is several years younger.

The Mr. Walter I’d been eying for Anna’s husband is recorded as being born in 1808, making him older than the man referenced in the article. This doesn’t, however, completely rule him out. I’ve not identified another potential Frederick Walter at this point.

I imagine life for a widowed, then divorced, woman in her 50s is quite difficult at any time, but in an era when she wouldn’t have had opportunity or ability to financially support herself it must have been even more so. She filed for her Civil War widow’s pension in 1889, but it seems she was probably not able to financially maintain herself on her own.

I’m not sure what happened to the currently unidentified lot No. 54 in Mount Cory, but in all likelihood it was sold. By 1900, Ann had moved in with her daughter Maggie and Maggie’s family on their farm. She returned to using the name Ann Shine, and remained living with family for the rest of her life. By the spring of 1910, she had moved in with her youngest son Benjamin and his second wife, Cinderella. Benjamin was working as a plasterer and Cinderella was running a boarding house – their youngest son (my great-grandfather) Benjamin Gail was 10 years old at the time.

In 1913, approximately 80 years old, Ann died of apoplexy. She was buried with her first husband, Christian Shine, in Clymer Cemetery.

Gravemarker of Ann & Christian Shine
The flag denotes Christian as a veteran.
Photo credit to Find A Grave user teacherdeb

Ann had experienced a substantial amount of change in her lifetime. When the Shines first moved to McComb after the Civil War, the railroad hadn’t yet arrived, nor had gas lines. She would have grown up in a log cabin and lived to see automobiles – although she wouldn’t have experienced electricity in her home, which didn’t come to the area until 1930s. She lived through the dark days of the Civil War and the oil boom and Golden Era of the 1880s and 1890s. She survived loss and cruelty. Ann’s story is substantially a mystery, with no letters or diaries or known photographs (although they may exist). She must have been, as many of our ancestors were, a stalwart woman.

About the Block

The choice of the Yankee Puzzle seems an obvious one. Ann’s life must have felt dramatically different after the War. If Christian participated in substantial ways during Sherman’s March to the Sea, he almost certainly came home a different man than then one who left. All of the Shine boys fought on the side of the Union, as they all lived in the North – and Ann was a Yankee Blacksmith’s Wife – piecing her life back together again and again.

The Yankee Puzzle is a four-patch comprised of 16 hour-glass blocks, but it can be made with a great degree of variety depending on color placement within the triangles. It is also referred to as Big Dipper, Envelope Quilt, The Whirling Blade, Bow Ties, Electric Fan or Pork and Beans. The block was catalogued in Ruth Finley’s quilt book in 1929 – although even then it was recognized as an old block. The Quilt Index has at least two samples of the Yankee Puzzle dating to the Civil War era, although the Hourglass block the pattern is based on reaches back to at least the earliest years of the 19th century.

Fun Facts: 52 Ancestors Week 29

I may never catch up on the 52 Ancestors Challenge, but this week’s prompt got me thinking – so here are a few fun facts I’ve picked up over the past year about some of my ancestors.

I’ve already shared the story about Annetje van Etten who was hauled into court for assaulting a neighbor – presumably because the neighbor had some unkind words and Annetje was pregnant and grumpy and putting up with no nonsense from anyone.

In 1871, my materal 4th great-granduncle Elder Daniel Scofield (1808-?) baptized my paternal 3rd great-grandfather Jesse R. Stith, Jr. (1842-1924) into the Pleasant Run Baptist Church in Ohio. There is no other known connection between my maternal and paternal lines until my parents married 100 years later.

In the 1930s, my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth Mowery Snider (1866-1945), remarried after more than a decade as a widow. It was, apparently, a secret – at least from her grandchildren. None of my aunts and uncles seem to remember William Leonard Jacobs (1867-1941), or the role he played in Little Grandma Snider’s life in the 1930s. Mary’s death certificate was undiscovered for some years, as she was listed as Mary Jacobs – but it is unquestionably her, the certificate signed by my great-grandfather A.C. Snider (1889-1981). Why no one knew of Mary’s second marriage is a mystery – one I plan to blog about in the future for my Women of Legacy project.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve obsessed a bit over the mystery of my maternal 3rd grea-grandfather, James Marshall Vint (1835? – 1909) and his father, William Vint. I’ve identified three men who could be the William Vint named in J.M.’s marriage certificate – with no success in identifying the right man. What I have discovered is that all three are related and descendent from the same pater familias – delightfully also named William Vint. While I do have a hole in my family tree, if I skip a generation or two, I can pick up the line again and may be able to keep working back to determine the truth behind the Scotch-Irish legend that follows the Vints around. I’ve traced William the Eldest (c. 1750-1821) back as far as the militia in Little Britian, Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1780, thick as theives with nearby Scots-Irish communities.

While I’m reflecting on James Marshall Vint – he has the distinction of fighting for both the Union and the Confederacy during the American Civil War. He enlisted in 1861 in the Virginia 52nd Infantry of the Confederate Army. He was wounded at Richmond on July 1, 1862 (Battle of Malvern Hill) and listed as AWOL as of November 27. On October 1, 1862 he enlished in the 13th West Virginia Infantry under the name John Bodkin. By April 20, 1863, he had returned to his Confederate unit, was court martialed for being AWOL and fined $11. He went AWOL again on September 10 of 1864, and become a prisoner of war on November 17 of the same year. On 15 February 1865 he enlishted in the 1st West Virginia, again under the name John Bodkin, and was injured again. He was discharged from the Union at the close of the war.

Maternal 6th-great-grandfather John Davis (1754-1842) and his wife Marvel Maxson (1768-1813) migrated from Monmouth, New Jersey to Harrison County, (West) Virginia, in 1790 to help found New Salem – a Seventh Day Baptist community formally chartered and made a town by the Virginia Assembly on December 19, 1794. John Davis and his brother-in-law Zebulon Maxon, Jr. (1779-1821) were both among the first trustees of the town.

Paternal 6th great-grandfather William Rush (1756-1833) is considered to be the first significant American sculptor. He started his career as a wood-carver and made the figureheads for a number of the ships in the early American navy. He is perhaps most well known for his terracotta bust of George Washington, now at the Museum of the American Revolution, and for his work in helping to found the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

I’m sure there are many more family stories to be uncovered, and countless stories we’ll never know. What fun facts have you uncovered in your family tree?

The Girl from Cymru

Another immigrant ancestor for my Women of Legacy quilt, celebrating the Welsh heritage I didn’t know I had.

Name: Elizabeth Jenkins Bowen (1796-1873)

Quilt Block: Cymru 1830

Relationship: 5th paternal great-grandmother

Cymru 1830

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Jenkins was baptized on June 5, 1796, in Llanfrechfa, Monmouthshire, Wales, Great Britain. Her parents were Enoch and Mary (Jones) Jenkins. Monmouthshire is in the eastern part of Wales, a region that seems to have waffled between Welsh and English identity for centuries.

All Saint’s Church, Llanfrechfa Photo credit John Ball, 2011 from his wonderful site: https://www.jlb2011.co.uk/walespic/churches/llanfrechfa1.htm

It seems she was most likely baptized at All Saint’s in Llanfrechfa proper, which is a truly idllyic looking building nestled in an ancient graveyard. Today, it would be only distantly familiar to Elizabeth and her family. While parts of the church remain from as early as the 9th – 13th centuries, most of the church was rebuilt in the mid-19th century, long after Elizabeth left the country. Llanfrechfa seems to be known primarily as a wool and weaving district, although according to Emanuel Bowen in the 1720 Britannia Depicta, writing about the county of Monmouth:
“The Air is healthful & temperate, the soil is hilly and woody, the Valleys fruitfull, yeilding abundace of Corn and Grass, as the Hills doe Cattle, Sheep & Goats, &c. Cheif Commodities are Corn, Cattle, Sheep, and its Rivers, particularly the Uske and the Wye, are full of Salmon and Trout.”

Llanfrechfa sits on a tributary of the Usk, and I imagine Elizabeth enjoyed the agrarian life offered her in the parish of Llanfrechfa.

Records of Elizabeth’s early life are sparse. I only recently found her mother, Mary Jones – confused by the fact that her father remarried in 1803 another woman named Mary. Elizabeth was probably one of the younger children in her family, although I haven’t found her other siblings yet – her parents married in Llanvihangel Lantarnum in 1784, suggesting four or five previous siblings. Elizabeth was seven or eight when her father remarried, his second wife also widowed and possibly bringing children of her own into the family.

The next indication we have of Elizabeth is given to us by her son Samuel. In the 1870s Samuel sat with William Henry Perrin and J.H. Battle to tell a bit about his family’s history in the area. According to Samuel’s information provided to the writers of The History of Morrow County, Ohio, in 1815 Elizabeth and her husband – John Bowen, also of Monmouthshire, Wales – acquired land in Chester Township, in what is now Morrow County, Ohio.

I am still valiantly searching for the missing links between Llanfrechfa and Chester. The United States didn’t require passenger lists from ships’ captains until 1820, but presumably Elizabeth and John arrived in the US around 1815. Searches of Welsh parish records find no indication they were married when they left Wales – but whether they came together or separately remains a mystery.

The Filby passenger and immigration index ’86-’90 supplements shows a John Bowen who arrived in Philadelphia in 1813 – but I haven’t been able to access all of the Filby indices to determine if there are other candidates. Neither Elizabeth Jenkins nor Elizabeth Bowen were in the supplements I reviewed. A gravestone marked Henry Bowen is found near John and Elizabeth, and birth location and age suggest he may have been John’s father. Henry may have traveled with John and Elizabeth or joined them at a later date.

The United States Marriages record sets show a handful of marriage record possibilities in Philadelphia that might be John and Elizabeth, but I don’t currently have the access to determine if the dates and names match known facts. Elizabeth may have gone by Bessie or Lizzie at the time.

My search for Elizabeth Jenkins has been similar, in many ways, to my search for Elizabeth Spence. I just haven’t yet found the key that unlocks the Jenkins-Bowen story.

Researching John and Elizabeth led me down a fascinating rabbit trail discovering the history of Welsh settlers in Ohio – of which I was wholly unaware. The Welsh National Archives has a project specifically on Welsh settlement in Ohio, which gave me some fascinating insights. Welsh settlement in Ohio began in the early 1800s, before the time John and Elizabeth supposedly made their way to what is today Morrow County. Pennsylvania was a common port of entry for Welsh immigrants, and they would often travel the Ohio River to the Muskingum River and then up to Zanesville. It’s also possible John and Elizabeth followed Zane’s Trace through central Ohio, stopping off near Welsh settlements that grew up in Licking County and other areas of Central Ohio, as this was another common trek for Welsh immigrants to Ohio.

Zane’s Trace mapped through southern Ohio, courtesy of Wikipedia

I had vague memories of learning about Zane’s Trace in 8th grade Ohio history classes – perhaps more years ago than I care to admit. This early road (or… trail… or…. deer path) constructed by Col. Ebenezer Zane at the end of the 18th century led settlers west from Wheeling (West) Virginia to Maysville, Kentucky. Many soldiers in the Continental Army received land patents, particularly in Kentucky, and Col. Zane felt it necessary to make their trip west more expedient. After Ohio achieved statehood a decade later, additional funds were provided to improve the road. Leading straight through Licking County and other areas of early Welsh settlement, it was a common path for new settlers.

Chester Township was settled by Evan Holt, a Welsh immigrant who received a military land warrant in 1808 as a reward for six years service in the Revolutionary Army. A section of Chester was referred to as the “Welsh section” – derived from the Welsh origins of the owner. A second wave of Welsh settlers came to the are in 1812, shortly before the outbreak of the War of 1812, which stemmed migration into the area.

However John and Elizabeth met and traveled to Chester Township, they settled down to clear a wooded lot of 160 acres and raise a family. According to their son Samuel, Elizabeth and John had nine children, seven of whom lived to adulthood: Elizabeth, John Jr., Mary, Nancy, Enoch, Samuel, and Isaac. Son Henry is buried next to his parents in Chester Baptist Cemetery, having died in September of 1845 at the age of 23. Another stone there designates an unnamed infant son; although according to Samuel, John and Elizabeth’s ninth child was a daughter, Emma. No record of her burial has been found yet.

According to Samuel, John Bowen came to the United States with some capital – hence his ability to purchase 160 acres – and was well educated in both Welsh and English. It seems, however, Elizabeth wasn’t afforded the same luxury. Census records from 1850 to 1870 indicate she was unable to read or write. There’s an odd marking in the 1850 census that seems to suggest she met qualifiers of “deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper or convict” – although it doesn’t appear in later census records. I can’t help wondering if perhaps she was severely nearsighted, not properly blind, but unable to see well enough to read or write. Or maybe the census taker’s pencil slipped!

The clearing of 160 acres and prospering enough to, as the historians of Morrow county say “[leave] a handsome property for his family” must have been incredible work. No matter how much historical fiction or first hand accounts I read, my modern self seems incapable of immersing fully in what it must have been like to make a home and living out of a bit of capital and 160 acres of wooded land.

They almost certainly lived in a log cabin, as framed houses weren’t introduced in the area until the middle of the 19th century. Until Centerville was founded, the nearest towns would have been Zanesville or Mount Vernon.

It isn’t until 1850 that I can definitively find Elizabeth on a record in the United States, when she appears in the 1850 US Census in Chester Township, Morrow County, Ohio, along with her husband and younger children. This is the document that first indicated to me Elizabeth and John came from Wales and set me on a path to learn a bit more about her.

One of the challenges of tracing Elizabeth and her family is that Morrow County, Ohio, wasn’t created until 1848, and was created out of four other counties. I suspect that the Bowens were originally residents of Knox County, but haven’t yet found them on 1840 or earlier census records to confirm that. This conclusion is drawn from the Knox County marriage record of their oldest daughter Elizabeth to Joseph Pryor Hews in 1836. (If you recognize the Hews name from the tale of my family’s Cinderella, kudos – Cinderella is the granddaughter of Joseph Pryor Hews and Elizabeth Bowen Hews).

The Bowens were perhaps somewhat reclusive, and may have never been naturalized. Histories of Morrow, Knox, and other surrounding counties mention only their son Samuel – there is no record of John, Elizabeth, or other children. Missing records include tax records for Knox County, pre-1850 census records, voter rolls, land acquisitions, naturalization records, and similar.

It seems that the Bowen daughters all left the area – daughter Elizabeth Hews moved to Hancock County, Ohio; daughter Mary Kinney to Shelby County, Indiana; and daughter Nancy Needels to Fairfield County, Ohio. The possibility of the Bowens being somewhat reclusive is perhaps supported by the relatively late age at which some of their children married: Nancy was 40, Isaac 51. Samuel never married at all. John Jr was over 30.

Late 19th century descriptions of the time in which Elizabeth found herself in central Ohio are wild and woolly. The early history books are full of tales of organized squirrel hunts due, fear of raids by the British or indigenous groups in the aftermath of the War of 1812, ornery boys, encounters with indigenous traders, and lively local politics – they make for wonderful reading if you have time for such indulgences. Many have been, most delightfully, digitized and made freely available through sources like Internet Archives or Google Books.

In 1868, Elizabeth’s husband John died of pneumonia at the ripe old age of 87. He was buried in Chester Baptist Cemetery in Chesterville, Ohio, which is associated with the oldest church in Morrow County. His tombstone inscription proudly declares his Welsh heritage.

John and Elizabeth aren’t listed among the charter members of the Chester Church, which was organized in March of 1819 by Welsh preacher Henry George. The Church was described as “Old School Baptists” – what we know today as Primitive Baptists. I’ve not been able to discern if the Chester Baptist Cemetery was also used as a public cemetery, so its unclear if the Bowens attended the church, or simply found their final resting spots in the graveyard. The existent church building’s architecture is strikingly like the 1855 Salem Welsh Church located not far from my current home in Western New York.

Photo uploaded to Find A Grave by Frank Lamca. Photographer unknown.

Elizabeth remained living in her home with her sons John and Isaac, and daughter-in-law Catherine (John’s wife), and in 1870 the four of them lived together outside Chesterville. They shared their home with a young farm laborer named Zachariah Thomas, a domestic servant named Luauska [?] Knouff and an elderly Welsh gentleman named John Davis, who I suspect is Catherine’s father. John and Catherine have no records of any children, and Issac did not marry until after Elizabeth’s death.

In December of 1873, Elizabeth suffered a stroke and died of the resulting paralysis. She was buried near her husband John in Chester Baptist Cemetery with son Henry, her unnamed infant son, and her [probable] father-in-law Henry buried nearby. She was age 77, although her tombstone reads 75.

Photo credit to Find A Grave user MrsG

Elizabeth’s marker is on the left, and John’s on the right. Elizabeth’s tombstone reads:



Died December 1, 1873 in the 75th year of her age

A Native of Monmouthshire South Wales

About the Block

This is perhaps the most unusual (and difficult!) block I’ve worked on. Unlike the other blocks to date in this quilt, I’m not aware that it has a name, or in fact has ever been used as a block at all. While researching Welsh quilting, I was browsing through the collection of Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum of Wales) and found what I thought was an individual square, a piece or scrap of a larger project. I encourage you to click through and look at their beautiful collection, particularly of Welsh wholecloth quilts.

Photo Copyright Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

The piece was made by an unknown maker in Pembrokeshire, around 1830, and fit perfectly with Elizabeth’s era and timeline. It wasn’t until later, after sketching out the block, that I came back to study it a bit more and realized it was a full quilt with very large pieces. The back of the quilt shows exquisite quilting – the kind I hope to be able to do one day.

Photo Copyright Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

Out of curiosity, I sent an image of my sketch to my auntie – who is my quilting guru – and asked her if she’d ever seen a block like it before. While it’s impossible to know every block in the world, my auntie was fairly confident she’d never seen a block in the pattern of the quilt. So with a little bit a lot of arithmetic and a many 12×12 drafting grids, I turned this 1830 Welsh patchwork quilt into a block I’ve named Cymru 1830. If you haven’t already gathered, Cymru is the Welsh name for Wales. (The best I can render it into phonetics is cum-reh; which is probably still wrong.)

The block I’ve shown above is at least my 4th attempt – and still isn’t quite up to the standards I prefer. But in an effort to not let perfection be the enemy of good, and so I can gather a bit of forward momentum, I’m pleased to share it today and hope that in the future my piecing skills have improved to the point I can try it again with better results.

I imagine Elizabeth Jenkins Bowen bringing the traditions of Welsh quilting to the backwoods of Ohio, perhaps sitting in a quilting bee with neighbors or filling long winter nights with stitches by candlelight. I wonder if she missed her homeland as she filled layers of cotton with intricate, tiny stitches that would keep her children warm on cold Ohio nights. I wonder if she brought a quilt with her made by her mother, that comforted her when she felt far from home and lonely or afraid. I wonder if she did loose her sight, and would trace the delicate quilted patterns and picture in her mind the vibrant reds and floral prints of her blanket.

I would have if I were her.

The Librarian

Life has been so full lately that I’m not only behind on my Women of Legacy blocks (honestly – I have two posts ready to go if I can get those blocks finished!) I’m ALSO behind on my 52 Ancestors Challenge. In an effort to catch myself up, here’s Week 14 (now almost two months ago) on the theme Check It Out.

When you hold a person or event or place so very close to your heart, it can be hard to bring yourself to write about that person or event or place because you’re afraid you won’t do justice to the subject. That is how I’ve felt about my maternal grandmother, Mildred Snider Wren Klink (1913 – 1996). I’ve danced around the subject – in week two, I posted on social media about finding her marriage certificate from her 1932 elopement. I’ve written about her mother – Crissie Myrtle Vint Snider, and her aunties in the Sisters week. I boldly ventured into NaNoWriMo 2021 (National Novel Writing Month) with a solid plan for developing a fictionalized biography – and stalled out in the midst of the busy lead-up to the holidays. For this challenge theme, there seems to be no avoiding Grandma and it’s time to tell a piece of her story.

One of grandma’s many school pictures

Usually when we use the phrase “Check It Out” we mean “Look At This Cool Thing” – and generally my family knows to duck and cover when I say it (except you, mom – I know you love hearing all of my cool things). But when I’m thinking about Check It Out this week, I’m thinking about libraries.

Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Both of my parents are avid readers – my dad posts about his reads on social media, my mom brought three books with her for a five day trip – and early childhood literacy was a career passion for my mom. My mom’s mom, who I knew as Grandma Klink, was a reader too – I never remember visiting without finding books on her end table. Although she had only a high school education, Grandma was a very intelligent lady. Mom can remember her reading Proust (or some such French philosopher) in the original French – something my two semesters of collegiate French didn’t allow me to do.

According to a Grandma’s Memories book Grandma did with my mom, her favorite childhood novel was Little Women – currently on my Genealogy Reading Challenge list. And one of my absolute favorite memories of my grandma involves a book.

I was maybe 9 or 10? I’d borrowed a book from the school library, and I confess I can’t remember what it was about. I spent the weekend at grandma’s for a sleepover, and as I was too timid to sleep in the upstairs by myself grandma made me a cozy spot on the floor in the living room. She left the light on because I liked to read before sleeping (I still do – I can hardly fall asleep without it), and she and grandpa went off to bed. I remember her pulling all the shades in the living room, as she always did at night (a curiosity to me, growing up in a house with no shades), locking the front door, and wishing me good night.

The book was so good I couldn’t bring myself to put it down. Unaware of the time, I read late into the night – I have no idea what time that might have been – maybe 11:30? Or midnight? Grandma got up – either to go to the bathroom or because she noticed the light was on. She was so surprised to find me still up, and while she knew my mom would have told me to turn out the light and go to sleep, after a moment’s hesitation she just winked at me and told me to turn out the light when I was ready to sleep. It’s still a guilty pleasure to stay up late absorbed in a good book, and I often think of grandma when I do.

All that to say, the love of books is generational in my family – one of the many family traits for which I am exceedingly grateful. But all of this reflecting is beside the point – on to The Librarian.

My Grandma’s life was not an easy one. Grandma eloped with my Grandpa in January of 1932, in the heart of the Great Depression. I remember hearing once that in their first apartment they owned three pieces of a furniture – a chair, a bed, and a table. To have dinner together they’d pull the table and chair to the bedside so they both had a place to sit. Grandpa was often out of work, and the work he did have didn’t pay much.

Then, of course, children began to come along. How on earth Grandma made ends meet is beyond me – the level of poverty they experienced in the 1930s is unlike anything I’ve ever known, and well before any of the programs we have today to make sure kids get a square meal or two at school or to provide distributions of backpacks full of food to needy children.

Make it they did, by some miracle and a great deal of suffering on the part of my grandparents. By the 1940s they were able to build their own modest home. By the 1950s when my mom came along the oldest children were well on their way to adulthood, and financial burdens began to lessen.

That’s when Grandpa’s heart troubles began, eventually leading him to be unable to work at the physically taxing manual labor he’d pursued his whole life. It’s no wonder Grandma began having bouts of anxiety – describing to my mom what today we would call panic attacks. Her doctor – a very wise woman – told Grandma she needed to get out of the house and have a job. And when Grandma said her husband wouldn’t tolerate it, Doc Jo said “you just have him call and talk to me.”

So as my mom went off to school, my Grandmother took a typists course and began working as a secretary at Washington McKinley School in the Lima Public School District in Allen County, Ohio. I imagine she was very good at it, and the third and fourth hand stories I’ve heard tell me my imagination is correct. It wasn’t a cushy desk job as we might imagine secretarial work today – Grandma would divide and distribute boxes of textbooks to classrooms, stock boxes of paper, and run the physically demanding mimeograph machine.

My grandma, the secretary

Eventually, the opportunity arose for her to become the school librarian. Today, we demand all manner of skills out of our librarians, but at the time a love for books, a love for children, and a keen gift for organization were the prerequisites. Grandma had all three in spades.

Today I have a few books that were removed from the school’s collection when Grandma kept. I’ve done homeschool song time out of one of them – not knowing that as a young lady, Grandma played the piano and accompanied a children’s choir at her church. How much more that book means to me now with that context.

I imagine hundreds of children finding books, checking them out, and being greeted with my grandma’s smile. I imagine her carrying stacks of heavy books, uncomplaining, and meticulously recording each book that entered or left the library. I imagine her walking home from work each day to prepare supper, and feeling a sense of accomplishment and maybe even a bit of security at helping to provide for her family.

The Vint Sisters

I’m still stitching away on some Women of Legacy blocks, so here’s a post for the 52 Ancestors Challenge on the theme “Sisters.”

One of the blocks I recently finished and wrote on was for Salome Hess Vint, my 2nd great-grandmother. This post takes a look at the lives of her three daughters: Josie, Annie and Crissie.

The Vint Sisters: Josie (far left), Crissie (left center), unknown cousin (right center) and Annie (far right); photographer unknown, c. 1920?

After Salome married James Howard Vint in 1886, they settled down in Rockingham, Virginia near Salome’s family. James worked as a farm laborer, and the Vints were decidedly poor.

Just a shy of their first anniversary, Salome and James welcomed the first of their three daughters into their family: Josie Edna, born September 8, 1887. Her birth record records her only as “J.E. Vint” and even misspells her mother’s name as “Laura” (an understandable misinterpretation of Loma). It isn’t until her marriage record some years later that I found her full name listed.

14 months later, a second daughter entered the world: Anna Wilda, born October 27, 1888. Like her sister, her name is recorded in the Rockingham birth register only as “A.W” – and her mother’s name is misspelled again, as “Lucy” this time. Also like her sister, it isn’t until her marriage record that her full name is seen. In her childhood, she went by Annie.

Josie and Annie probably spend their early years thick as thieves. There aren’t many records of their childhood, especially given the missing 1890 census records. The girls lived near cousins, both the highly prolific Hesses and the Vints. They spent their childhood in Rockingham County, Virginia – the on boarder of Virginia and West Virginia, particularly in Hinton. Today that area is part of the George Washington National Forest – true Appalachian hill country, and I imagine little girls in ragged dresses and bare feet.

Josie and Annie were nearly 6 and 5 respectively when baby Crissie Myrtle joined the family and completed the trio. Crissie M, as she’s listed on her birth record, was born June 15, 1892 – with her mother’s name again misspelled as Laura. I wonder how the sisters reacted to a new baby in the house – and my experience with a 5 year old boy welcoming a baby brother probably doesn’t align well.

I imagine Josie and Annie were quickly incorporated into childcare routines, becoming little mothers to their baby sister. While I wouldn’t trust my 7 year old to change a diaper, the childhoods of our ancestors were different, and girls are different, and I suspect the proud big sisters would have delighted in a little living baby doll to care for.

The girls were literate, all three attending school in Hinton, Virginia, according the 1900 US Census. I suspect Mother Salome was a strict woman, intent on raising three polite little ladies (in spite of the rather colorful stories I’ve heard of Salome herself). Perhaps it was the shame of an illegitimate nephew, or the strict German religious nature of the Hess family, or some combination thereof, but it seems that in spite of some of her own rough and back-hills ways, Mother Salome wanted more for her girls.

It was perhaps this desire that led the Vint girls and their parents from Virginia to Northwest Ohio sometime around 1905. All in their teen years, perhaps having finished school – as education beyond about 8th grade would have been rare – the girls surely left behind friends and perhaps even beaus. A tribute to their difficult financial state – in an era of trains and automobiles, the Vints took a covered wagon from Virginia to Ohio. It was probably the only mode of transportation they could afford.

Josie, roughly 18, Annie roughly 17 and Crissie about 12, would have certainly felt the upheaval of transplanting to Ohio in painful ways. I wonder if this drew them together as sisters – if they clung more tightly to each other in the face of loosing whatever other relationships they may have had in Virginia. It was an odd time of life for the Vints to resettle, and I assume it took James and Salome their nearly 20 years of marriage to amass enough capital to afford the cost of pulling up stakes and heading somewhere they had a chance to make a better life.

I’m not sure life was much better for James and Salome, but it certainly held more promise for their daughters. Removal from the poverty of Appalachia to the relative affluence of the early 20th century boom of Northwest Ohio – which included quality farm land, oil and factories – would have put the Vint sisters in the way of more promising marriage prospects. They seem to have done reasonably well for themselves.

In 1907, Josie Edna married a farmer by the name of Dalton Eugene Williams. Dalton was the son of Elijah Williams and Hannah (Anna?) Jane Hall – and nearly ten years Josie’s senior. In 1910, they are found living in the West Precinct of Auglaize Township, Allen County, Ohio. Poking around in the census records, I find their next door neighbors are George and Delilah Snider. In 1912, George and Delilah’s grandson Alva, would marry Josie’s youngest sister Crissie. Could this have been how Crissie and Alva met?

Josie and Dalton had two sons together: James Robert (presumably named for Josie’s father James) and Richard E (possibly an E for Eugene after his father). The Williamses ran their farm together until 1940, when Dalton died as a result of heart disease. Only 53 years old, Josie elected to remarry. She married Elzie McCluer, a Farm Bureau Insurance Agent – and together they lived in Lafayette, Allen County, Ohio.

Josie lost her second husband in 1977. In 1980 she died in a long-term care facility in Lima at the age of 93. She’s buried in Bethlehem Cemetery, Lima, Allen County, Ohio, with her first husband, Dalton.

Next to marry was Miss Annie, in June of 1912 – only a few months before her youngest sister. Annie married Robert Hefner. Robert was the son of Daniel and Mary Hefner – and was a twin. The Hefners were farmers, and also have a neighborly connection to Annie’s sister Crissie. Just down the road lived Isaac and Rhoda (Snider) Mowery. Rhoda was George Snider’s sister and Alva Snider’s auntie – Alva and Crissie lived with her after they married, and my grandmother Mildred was born on the Isaac Mowery farm.

Annie and Robert had only one son – Rondell Heffner, who was born in 1914. The Hefners, unlike their agrarian predecessors, moved into the City of Lima, where they’re found in the 1920 US Census. They lived at 807 Elm Street, a modest 3 bedroom home build the year Rondell was born. Robert was an electrician who worked at the motor factory in town. His career as an electrician didn’t last, perhaps due to the Crash of 1929, and by the 1930 census he was working as a salesman in a grocery. On his 1939 death certificate, his career is listed as “bartender,” which didn’t seem to preclude his membership in the Congregational Church and probably helped his membership in the Eagles Lodge. Robert died of a heart attack at the age of 53. Annie never remarried, and lived with her son Rondell at least for a time. Rondell was a VFW member, and given his age was probably a veteran of World War II. Annie died in 1972, leaving behind her sisters, her son, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Last, but certainly by no means least, the youngest of the Vint sisters – Crissie Myrtle. I confess myself obsessed with the name Crissie Myrtle. I’ve used it as a pseudonym, and in my irrational moments have occasionally contemplated changing my name! Crissie married Alva Snider in 1912. Like the McCluers and the Hefners, the Sniders were an old and established family in the county, and it is through the Sniders that I claim my DAR Patriot, Jacob Snider.

After marrying, Crissie and Alva settled with Alva’s auntie Rhoda, and it was here that their eldest child, Mildred Lucille was born in July of 1913. Two years later, their only son Marvin was born. Like her sisters and her mother, it seemed that Crissie was to have a small family. In 1919, baby of the family Frances Irene was born – and she was a sickly baby. For many years, Grandma Crissie would refer to Irene as her miracle baby – the one she didn’t think would live. Like I imagine Granny Salome, Grandma Crissie was a strict mother, raising her children with particular ideas about their behaviors and their futures.

Alva was not an easy man to keep up with – he picked up farming for a time, then sold farming implements, then inherited his father’s farm, then sold it to sell tractors. For a time he moved the family to Pennsylvania, and then back to Ohio. Shortly after Mildred eloped in 1932, in the heart of the Great Depression, Alva and Crissie moved with their youngest two children from Lima, Ohio, to Urbana, Ohio. Of the three children, only Mildred and her husband Ivan Wren had children: a large family of 5 including Bruce, Sheila, Larry, Carol and Claudia.

In their elder years, Alva and Crissie moved back to Lima – first into town, then out of town to a hobby farm. Crissie, as the youngest of the three sisters, outlived her eldest sister Josie by a year – passing away only six months after husband Alva in 1981. I missed the opportunity to meet Crissie by only a few months myself, arriving six months later in the spring of 1982.

I love the photo I have of my great-grandmother and her sisters – shared with me by my auntie. They have such lively smiles, all caught in the middle of laughing about something. I’d like to learn more about the photo, and the young woman believed to be a cousin – whether a Hess or a Vint is uncertain. While I always think of my grandmother as looking more like her father, it is perhaps nothing more than my imagination that I can see her in her mother’s smile. But an imagination in which I’m content to indulge.

52 Ancestors: Flowers

As I remain behind on my Women of Legacy project – behind enough maybe I should say I’m taking a little break? – I’m sharing this week’s 52 Ancestors challenge post on the topic of flowers. Having written previously about Henrietta Spree Hodde, I’m now taking a look at her son.

I love U.S. Census records. I really do. They always have so much information in them, especially the later census records that started tracking more data about people. It’s in the 1900 U.S. Census that I met William Frederick Hodde, Senior.

The Hodde family have been a brickwall for quite a while, lost somewhere in immigration records between Germany and the United States in the 1860s. According to responses on the census, my 3rd great-grandfather, William Frederick Hodde, Sr., came to the United States as a small boy – sometime around 1865. William would have been about six years old when he left Prussia – and sailing across the Atlantic would have been a grand adventure. I can imagine my own son and the combination of excitement and fear he would feel at such an undertaking. One minute he would be pointing out all the exciting sights in the harbor, and the next he would be tearfully asking if he would have a bed to sleep in when he arrived in America. It would be an effort to keep him, in his youthful exuberance, from falling headlong overboard or climbing the rigging; and I have no doubt I would have heard complaints about the food and having “nothing to do.” Perhaps proof that children of 150 years ago were made of sterner stuff; or perhaps proof that children haven’t really changed that much at all.

William and his family are lost to me until 1880, when 21 year old William and his 11 year old brother Louis are found living with Frederick and Charlotte (Spreen) Koch in Cincinnati, Ohio. Frederick Koch – to touch on the theme of this week’s challenge – was a gardener and William worked with Fred as a garden hand. I haven’t yet tracked down what – exactly – Fred and William grew as gardeners. According to the instructions provided to census enumerators, “a gardener…. is engaged in raising vegetables for market or in the cultivation of fruit, flowers, seeds, nursery products, etc.” It seems that a “gardener” would have been considered the proprietor of the business and the “garden hand” or “garden laborer” would have been an employee. So Fred Koch owned some sort of business relative to vegetables, fruits or flowers, and William worked for him.

It seems that William and his brother Louis are probably orphaned by this time. Louis was adopted by the Kochs, and would live with them for some years. There is only a slight suggestion this may not have been the case. In the Cincinnati City Directories of the time, there is a bricklayer by the name of Frederick (Fred.) Hodde who is found in between 1874 and 1885. In 1887, his widow is listed as “Elizabeth.” One can speculate that possibly Henrietta Hodde died between 1870 when Louis was born and 1874, that Frederick remarried, and that his new wife didn’t want to raise his children, sending them off to the Kochs. Charlottee Spreen Koch was almost certainly Henrietta Spreen Hodde’s sister and the boys’ aunt.

Without proof, I won’t to go beyond speculation. Although Hodde is not a particularly common name, in the years between 1881 and 1890, there are TWO William Hoddes listed in the Cincinnati directories – uncomfortably both work as gardeners at least some of those years. Meaning that Hodde might be unusual, but it isn’t unreasonable to assume there was more than one Frederick Hodde.

No matter how one approaches it, what is certain is that by 1880 the Hodde boys are separated from their parents. They are, also, gaining valuable trade skills under Gardener Fred Koch – skills which would employ them for most of their lives.

William Hodde is the first of my ancestors I’ve researched using City Directories. It’s almost as much fun as census records. The Kochs lived in the neighborhood of North Fairmount – one with historic connections to both German and Italian immigrants. It’s nestled in the heart of Cincinnati, and has sadly deteriorated from the vibrant neighborhood it was when William lived there. In 2017, North Fairmount was featured by WCPO’s Our Forgotten Neighborhoods series. The area is full of dilapidated houses – some of which may have been standing in the late 19th century when William lived there – and empty lots. Interestingly, it is once again becoming home to immigrants, this time from primarily Guatemala and Burundi. Perhaps they can bring life back to the community, as immigrants have done in other cities like Buffalo or Utica, NY.

In 1881, William was working as a laborer at Fred Koch’s. In this year, he married Wilhelmina “Minnie” Papner (1859-1943), a fellow Prussian immigrant. They undoubtedly would have been bi-lingual, Minnie having come to the US in 1870 at the age of 11.

The challenges of tracing William Hodde begin almost immediately. In 1881, a second William Hodde is found as a laborer at Frederick Kramer’s place in the 24th Ward of Cincinnati. By 1882, both William Hoddes have moved out of their employers’ homes into their own places. One is located on Elmore Street in Cumminsville, which is north of the Kochs’ place in North Fairmount. The other is located at the corner of Spring Grove and Straight in Camp Washington, just to the east of North Fairmount.

One of these Williams is working as a driver, the other as a laborer. This doesn’t provide much clarity, although I suspect that the William on Elmore Street in Cumminsville – the driver – is probably my William. In future years, William would find various jobs in auto shops, and his younger brother Louis spent his career as a “truck gardener.” In 1884, this William had moved to Streng Street, still working as a driver, and was promoted to Stable Boss in 1885. William had become so real to me that I almost forgot in the 1880s drivers mean horse and wagon – and the title of Stable Boss caught me off guard. It would be after the turn of the 20th century before motor vehicles would come into common use.

To make things a touch more confusing, by 1887, both William Hoddes are working as GARDENERS! One living on Spring Grove Avenue (as he always has), the other now located on Bridge Avenue in North Fairmount. I assume the North Fairmount William to be mine, returning to the Kochs’ neighborhood and perhaps working alongside Frederick Koch and younger brother Louis Hodde. By 1888, the two William Hoddes have become practically inseparable (as if they weren’t difficult before!): both are gardeners, both are on Spring Grove Avenue – and both remain there until after 1890.

These City Directories solved for me part of the mystery left by the missing 1890 census. Eventually William and his wife Minnie made their way to my hometown, Lima, Ohio – but I was never quite sure when. I know now it was sometime between 1890 and 1900. In the 1891 Cincinnati Directory, there is only one William Hodde, gardener, left on Spring Grove Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio. It seems to me that THIS William Hodde, gardener, has lived on Spring Grove Avenue since at least 1882, indicating the more mobile William Hodde is probably the one who eventually turns up in Lima.

In 1900 William Hodde was living in Lima, Ohio, at 769 Holly Street. He was working as – you guessed it – a gardener. The property at 769 Holly Street was listed as a farm, meaning the property was being used for agricultural purposes. I am beginning to question if homes were issued new street numbers between 1900 and now, and am doing some research into that. The information on the house currently numbered 769 Holly Street suggests that the house wasn’t built until 1920. If this information is accurate, it could not have been the house the Hoddes owned in 1900. They remain at that address until at least the 1940s, meaning Minnie built a house after her husband’s death, the information is wrong, or I’m looking at the wrong house due to renumbering.

William’s and Minnie’s children came with them to Lima: William Jr (seriously, another one?!), Fred, Louise “Lulu,” Charlie and Harry. So, yes, after nearly 20 years of being confused with fellow gardener William Hodde in Cincinnati, William Sr. will be confused with son and fellow Lima-ite, William Jr.

By 1910, William had given up his career in gardening and was working as a laborer in an autoshop. This starts a series of job-hopping for William: in 1911, William is listed in the Lima City Directory as a watchman. In 1912, he’s a laborer. By 1915 he’s – oddly – a bartender. By 1918 he is listed as a restaurateur.

It is for this job that William is remembered in his obituary:

Obituary, William F. Hodde, Sr. The Lima News 7/1/1918

Although his obituary doesn’t tell us what health complications William was facing, his death record does. WIlliam suffered from bladder cancer. This ill health may have been part of the reason William transitioned from the labor intensive work of gardening to something less strenuous.

According to the 1918 Directory of the City of Lima, W F Hodde occupied a building at 432 S Main Street – which was assuredly the restaurant, as the family home was on Holly Street. Today, 432 S Main Street is an empty lot near the Ottawa River, across the street from the Central Station of the Lima Fire Department and next door the Mihlbaugh Building, which is a lovely old building. Whether this is the actual location, or if renumbered streets have me looking in the wrong place, I’m not sure.

The business was put up for sale almost immediately after William’s death – the ad listed it only as “Hodde’s Restaurant” and indicated it was doing good business at the time. It seems that Hodde’s Restaurant wasn’t doing much advertising, and wasn’t in existence very long. I’ve reached out to the research assistance department at the Allen County Historical Society in order to see if more information about the restaurant or the building that housed it can be found.

William, according to his obituary, was a long time member of the philanthropic organization Woodmen of the World, which was founded in Omaha, Nebraska. Today, Woodmen is a non-profit life insurance company and still has many chapters throughout the country. In the early part of the 20th century, it had “camps” all over the United States that gathered for philanthropic purposes. One of their philanthropic ventures was providing headstones for those who might otherwise not be able to afford them. The Woodmen headstones are often distinctive in nature, with branch, log, or bark elements to them. I’m not near Lima to take photos of William’s grave marker, but while I was originally optimistic he might have such a headstone, according to Woodlawn Cemetery, he has only a flat marker. I’m hopeful a friendly Find-A-Grave volunteer photographer will be able to upload a photo soon, as I’ve requested that one be added.

William Frederick Hodde, a German immigrant from Prussia really had quite a life. He set sail from his homeland as a child, entered a country at war, was orphaned as a teenager, and began a career in gardening. Perhaps flowers, perhaps not, but either way he spent much of his life with his hands in the soil. From all the newspaper articles I read, the Hoddes loved a good party – there are numerous articles of surprise birthday parties, anniversary parties, and of course the inherent social gatherings that came with membership in a philanthropic club. As a bartender and later a restauranteur, William would have spent his life around people and must have enjoyed being sociable and active in his community.

As I’ve read snippets about the Hoddes – Louise selling subscriptions to the Lyric Theatre in hopes of winning an automobile, Harry calling square dances for a number of years, Mabel curing all her grandchildren’s woes with lumps of sugar – I can see where my grandmother Ginny inherited her sociable, fun-loving spirit.

I’ve not spent much time in late 19th and early 20th century records, because so much of that work had been done by previous family historians. This was a great exercise that has energized me to take a better look at my more recent ancestors.

52 Ancestors: Worship

I’m behind in my sewing this week, so I don’t have a new Women of Legacy block to share with you. Instead, I’m happy to share with you this week’s #52Ancestors on the theme of worship.

Religion and worship are an important part of my family’s history, as many of my ancestors come to the United States to escape religious persecution. But when I think of worship, there’s one ancestor who comes first to my mind: my paternal grandmother Virginia Ann Caughman Shine – Ginny, mom, or grandma to those who knew and loved her best.

Little me, age 1, with my grandma Ginny Caughman Shine, c. 1983

Ancestor seems like a strange and distant term to use for a woman who was a constant part of my life for more than 30 years. It feels cold and dead and removed from the vibrant woman my grandmother was – and this is perhaps a good moment to remark on the fact that all of our ancestors were once full of life and that the word shouldn’t conjure up only severe faces, high-button boots and crumbling tombstones.

Worship, for me, is integrally connected to music. My earliest memories of my Grandma Shine involve music. She had an electric organ in her home, and if we were very good and gentle with keys and pedals we could climb up on the bench and play it. When I was 2, my parents drove me across the U.S. to visit relatives in New Mexico, and grandma recorded a cassette tape of her singing me songs that I played on my little brown Fisher-Price cassette player. She loved the music of the 50s, and the Oldies station was always on the car radio. She spent a number of years working with special needs students in what today we would call music therapy – and was beloved by many of her students.

Grandma faithfully attended my piano recitals, band concerts, choir concerts and church musicals – and as I got older would take me along to concerts or share concert programs with me from performances she attended. Grandma was selected to sing the National Anthem at a Cincinnati Reds baseball game and for President Ronald Regan, and long before I knew her she toured with a Sweet Adelines quartet known as the Derby Dolls.

To the theme of this week’s #52Ancestors: grandma dedicated decades of Sundays to church choirs and accompanying church worship on organ or piano. She sang at countless weddings, in many Christmas and Easter Cantatas, and at more than a few funerals. The routine of Sunday worship shaped much of her weekly life, especially in her retirement years that I remember best. She loved traditional hymns best – as I do myself – and I remember her particularly enjoying a devotional book that told the stories of many famous hymns.

I remember being fascinated with the way she could play both manuals AND the foot pedals at the same time. As a talented pianist and flautist myself, I never could quite manage the dexterity required to incorporate the music-by-foot required to be an organist. Grandma coaxed Grandpa into the church choir as well, and her children all sang at some point, too. One of my favorite dad jokes is how my own father was kicked out of the church choir for not being able to sing – and his mother was the choir director.

I can attest to the fact that my father cannot carry a tune in a bucket with a lid on it – but whether or not he was actually “kicked out” of the choir by his mother, I can’t say. Grandma insisted it wasn’t true; dad begs to differ.

When people think of my grandma in a church setting, they most frequently recall her singing How Great Thou Art. It was, I believe, her most requested piece – with The Lord’s Prayer a close runner-up.

No one can sing How Great Thou Art like Ginny could. No one.

When I asked my dad, Ginny’s oldest child, about it he responded: “Sing? More like belted out. That was her song… No microphone needed.” Yes, this is the same child who was purportedly “kicked out” of church choir.

When Grandma passed away in 2013 at the age of 83, I was living out of state and had to say my farewells over the phone. But my real farewell to grandma was playing with my husband at her funeral. We played How Great Thou Art – an instrumental version, knowing everyone present would be remembering Ginny’s voice and imagining her singing again in Glory.

Dementia is a terrible, terrible waste of a life. One of the most gut-wrenching things to watch was the way grandma’s dementia stole music from her. Her voice no longer cooperated, and her fingers forgot the feel of the keys; she couldn’t sing with the choir or tap her toes to a favorite tune. The toll it took on her family, particularly my Grandpa, was tremendous – over eight years later and the tears still roll freely.

Grave marker of Virginia A. Caughman Shine (1929-2013)

Raw musical talent is frequently seen passed down through generations. While it skipped my dad, I know my aunt had a penchant for piano, and I, too, have a fair degree of musical ability. But I wonder where that talent comes from farther up our family tree. What untrained voices were lost that once rang out from a church choir? What unrecognized musician was never developed because resources for training lacked? What long-gone ten-times-great-grandmother was instantly recognized by her whole village for the humming of folk tunes as she milked the cows or carried the water?

Shine/Zambrano Wedding, 2010
one of the last photos of us together
Photo credit to the wonderful Marah Grant

When I sing How Great Thou Art today, I can still hear my grandma’s voice – her rich soprano soaring over the voices of less confident congregants. I imagine the Heavenly Choir is richer today because she’s singing with them and I have faith that one day I’ll sing with her again.

I’ll be sharing more about Ginny Caughman Shine in the future as a part of my Women of Legacy project!

The Patriot

Back on Veteran’s Day, I wrote a good bit about my Patriot Ancestor Jacob Sniderbut the old saying is often true that behind every good man is an incredible woman. So much of Margaret Mary Studebaker’s story is told through the men around her, and these men’s lives help construct the picture of a wonderful woman of faith, support, and encouragement. To honor Margaret, and the other as yet unknown wives of my other Patriot Ancestors, here’s the Martha Washington quilt block for my Women of Legacy Quilt.

Martha Washington Star quilt block

Name: Margaret Mary Studebaker Snider (1735-1813)

Quilt Block: Martha Washington Star

Relationship: Maternal Sixth great-grandmother

About Margaret

On August 9, 1735, Margaretha Maria Studebaker* was born to Johann Peter Stutenbecker and his wife Anna Margaretha Aschauer in Solingen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Prussia. Margaretha Maria – or, in English, Margaret Mary – would not remember anything of life in Prussia. Her family emigrated to Pennsylvania on the ship Harle in the year following her birth. It was a risky journey for a family with small children, but a risk they considered worth taking. As Dunkars (Dunkards, or German Brethren), they were not popular in their native country with either Catholics or Lutherans, and many of their sect came to the British Colonies together, seeking religious freedom.

After landing in Philadelphia, the family elected to settle in Broadingford, Washington County, Maryland, just south of the Pennsylvania state line. Although the Stutenbecker (Studebaker) family had a long history in metal working, they settled down to farm in rural Maryland. Sometime before 1740, Margaret’s mother died, leaving behind Margaret, and at least two other children. Father Peter remarried a woman named Susanna and together they raised eight additional children.

Around 1753, Margaret met a fellow Brethren church member, and fellow German immigrant, Jacob Ludwig Schneider (Snider). They married, and had their first child in November of 1753. Over the next 25 years, Margaret and Jacob would have 13 children together: Jacob Ludwig Jr., Mary, John Studebaker, Abraham, David, Joseph, Mary Margaret Elizabeth, Susanna, Mary Hannah, Daniel Studebaker, Margaret Rosanna, George Washington, and tagalong William. Records indicate that – most unusually – all these children not only survived to adulthood, but all outlived their mother.

In the spring of 1767, Jacob traveled to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, along with some fellow church members and on April 10 signed an Oath of Affirmation. This made him a citizen of the colonies and naturalized his family. It is probably around this time that the Sniders anglicized their names. As Dunkards, the Sniders would not “solemnly swear ” but instead chose to “solemnly affirm” – drawing on scriptures such as Matthew 5:34 and James 5:12 that prevented them from swearing an oath.

The family eventually settled in Berkley, Virginia (now West Virginia), and permanently established themselves on a farm on Back Creek. This farm eventually grew to include a gristmill and blacksmith, and by the time of Jacob’s death had grown to encompass 500 acres.

It seems that the Sniders, although pacifists, were wholly supportive of the move to a nation independent from England. It is interesting to me that in 1776, when child number 12 arrived, he was named George Washington. By 1776, General George Washington was a proven capable soldier, and had recently taken command of the Continental Army. With names of thinkers like Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson available in the wake of the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence, I find it curious that the Sniders chose George Washington as the name for their child.

The large farm and gristmill owned by Margaret and Jacob became their way of supporting the cause of independence without sacrificing their firmly held religious beliefs. In 1780, Jacob and Margaret provided provisions to the Army of Virginia, and additionally allowed the army to camp on their land. In recognition of this service done for the army, Jacob was recommended as a Lieutenant of Militia on September 18, 1781.

It can be imagined that Margaret played a significant role in hosting the army and provisioning them while they were in Berkley County. We have no words or records from Margaret, or any indication of what this time must have been like for her family. She would have had young children at home – including 4 year old George Washington Snider – and the management of a large property in support of her husband’s farming and milling ventures. Perhaps she hosted dinners with commanding officers, offered assistance of first aid for wounded men, or made friends with the inevitable female camp followers.

I wonder if she welcomed the hustle and bustle of military life, after years in the relative quiet of rural Virginia. I wonder if she resented their intrusion. I wonder if she questioned her husband or if she supported him wholeheartedly. I wonder if he asked her opinion. I wonder how she talked to her impressionable children about soldiers, and war, and fighting, and how to live with people who believed differently than the Snider family.

After the American Revolution, life returned to peace and calm for the Sniders, settled in what is today Back Creek, Berkley, West Virginia – a region now designated a part of Appalachia. Until March of 1790, Margaret, Jacob, and their family farmed, and milled, and prospered in the freedoms of the early years of the blossoming United States of America.

On March 3, 1790, at the age of 58, Lt. Jacob Snider passed away. He was buried in the family cemetery on what is referred to as the Old Snider Plantation – now marked to indicate his support of the Continental Army and recognizing him as an American Patriot recorded by both the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution. The term plantation seems to refer to the size of the farm; Jacob’s estate doesn’t show the Sniders owned slaves (as we traditionally think of happening on southern plantations). Slavery seems to have been opposed to German Brethren beliefs. Although the earliest statement on the fact I can find comes from 1797, the statement surely reflects earlier held beliefs of the group. At that time, the Brethren General Conference minutes stated outright it was unanimously concluded by the Brethren that they should not hold slaves and that anyone who did should free them immediately.

Upon Jacob’s death, Margaret was given 1/3 of his estate, with the provision she did not remarry. I don’t know how common this particular provision is, and I wonder why it was made, as each of his children, including those in their minority and all the daughters, received a share of his estate. I suspect he wanted that 1/3 left to Margaret for her support to eventually go to his children rather than into a second husband’s estate. Besides, when one has to split things thirteen ways, I suppose it is beneficial to make sure there’s enough to go around.

Margaret never remarried, but removed from Virginia to Bedford County, Pennsylvania, with her four youngest children – Daniel, Rosanna, George and William. According to Jacob’s will, he also owned property in Bedford County, which was left to his older sons Jacob, John, David and Joseph. It must have been with them that Margaret and the younger four moved to Pennsylvania.

Margaret remained near her older children – those who received land from their father – in Bedford County, to the end of her life in 1813. In her elder years, she would have said goodbye to a number of her children – not because they predeceased her, but because they moved west into Ohio in the early years of 1800. These children included Elizabeth (Snider) Henricks, Susanna (Snider) Overholser, George Washington Snider, William Snider, and my own ancestor – the Reverend Daniel Studebaker Snider. These children and their spouses were highly influential in the settlement of Brethren communities in Ohio and the establishment of Brethren churches – a testament to the significant role faith played in their lives and, doubtless, the role a mother plays in shaping that faith within the home.

Margaret is buried in Snake Spring Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania in the Snyder/Ritchey cemetery, not far from the Snake Spring Valley Church of the Brethren. Her headstone is no longer in existence, but descendants of the Sniders have replaced it with a modern marker.

About the Block

The art of pieced quilts as we know it hadn’t fully developed yet during Margaret’s lifetime. Much of what she would have known as quilting we would recognize as wholecloth or broderie perse. However, as piecing developed, patterns reminiscing on the Revolutionary War rose in popularity, with patterns such as Burgoyne Surrounded. The first peak of patriotic quilting came in the 1870s with the American Centennial celebrations – and again in the 1970s with the American Bicentennial. The Martha Washington Star is first found published by its patriotic name in the 1930s; although the block previously went by the name Flying Clouds, first published in 1908.

In the context of a sampler, the Martha Washington Star seemed like like a better choice than Burgoyne Surrounded, and it fits the style of the quilt better than any number of flag-style blocks dating from 1870s Centennial quilts. Like Martha Washington, Margaret must have been a strong, thoughtful woman upon whom her husband relied. Both living in Virginia, and George as a namesake of one of the Margaret’s children, there’s a natural connection between the Sniders and the Washingtons. Is it okay if I secretly wonder if Jacob and Margaret ever met George?

*A Note about the Studebakers

If you are from Indiana, or an aficionado of antique vehicles, the name Studebaker is probably familiar to you. I used to live not far from the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana (although confess I never visited) – and knew a man who owned a few Studebakers and had a chance to see them in his collection. Whenever a famous name pops up in one’s family tree, it’s natural to ask if there is any relation. The short answer is, yes – there is a connection between Margaret Studebaker Snider and the Studebaker automobile company, although it is a distant one. Margaret’s family came to the British Colonies with her father Johann Peter’s brother Clement and their cousin Peter. It is the descendants of Margaret’s Uncle Clement Stutenbecker who would open a blacksmith and wagonworks in 1852 in South Bend, Indiana, that would eventually become the automobile company. As mentioned above, the Stutenbeckers had a long history in Germany of metal smithing, going back at least five generations before Peter and Clement, a tradition they brought with them to the US that led to the Studebaker automobiles.

The One Who Disappeared

Some of my ancestors have enough records and documents to fill pages, maybe even a book. But not all of them. Many of them, like Henrietta Spree Hodde, leave only the tiniest trace of a clue they were ever even here. These traces, however, are as important a part of me as the women I fully know. So here’s my next Women of Legacy block, a tribute to one woman who represents the many women lost to history forever.

Henrietta’s Disappearing 9-Patch

Name: Henrietta Spree (Sprec? Spreen?) Hodde (c. 1835 – c. 1875)

Relationship: Fourth paternal great-grandmother

Block: Disappearing Nine-Patch

About Henrietta

I have only two records directly referring to Henrietta Spree Hodde. In 1918, Henrietta Spree was documented as the mother of William F[red] Hodde on his death record dated 30 June 1918. William was 59 years old, a restauranteur, born in Germany and named the son of Frederick Hodde and Henrietta Spree (or possibly Sprec) by his son Fred C. Hodde. In 1926, Yetta Spreen and Fred Hodde, both of Germany, were named on the death certificate of Louis Hodde, a 56-year-old retired truck gardener born in Cincinnati, Ohio.

That isn’t much information at all. Enough to know Henrietta and her husband Frederick existed and that they were first generation German immigrants, arriving in America sometime between William F.’s birth in 1859 and Louis’s birth in 1870.

They do not appear on the 1870 census, shortly before Louis’s birth. Nor do they appear on the 1860 census, shortly after William F’s birth.

On the 1880 census, William Hodde can be found working in Cincinnati as a garden hand – probably as an apprentice to the head of the household in which he resides, Frederick Cook, gardener. Louis Hodde, only 10 years old, is listed as “adopted son” in the same household. If Frederick and Henrietta were still living in 1880, they were no longer with their children and don’t appear on the 1880 US Census.

On the 1880 Census, 21-year-old William F. states he was born in Prussia, as were his parents. His brother Louis is noted to have been born in Ohio, with Prussian-born parents. Frederick Cook and his wife Charlotte are immigrants from Hanover and Prussia respectively. This isn’t surprising, as Cincinnati, Ohio, drew a substantial number of German immigrants in the 19th century, and the influence of those immigrants is still felt in Cincinnati today.

The Cooks lived on Cummings Street in what appears to be a predominantly German neighborhood. Frederick Cook was a gardener, as were a number of his neighbors. This suggests to me that when the Hoddes arrived in America they already had plans to head to Cincinnati – otherwise they may have chosen other German neighborhoods in places like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. It wasn’t uncommon for German immigrants to use Baltimore as an entry port and then take a train to access the Ohio River, finally arriving in Cincinnati. Baltimore, however, is by no means an exclusive port of entry for German immigrants.

The 1900 Census provides a little further insight into Henrietta’s immigration to America. The 1900 Census askes the helpful questions “How long have you been in America?” and “What year did you emigrate to America?” William F told the census taker he has been in the United States for 36 years, he emigrated in 1864, and was a naturalized citizen. He would have been five years old when he arrived in the States. This should be old enough that he remembered something of the journey and maybe even something of Prussia.

Naturalization records have proved elusive thus far.

Likeweise, immigration records for the Hoddes are missing. I’ve not yet found a passenger list that includes one or more of the Hoddes (or any conceivable variation thereof, including Otte, Ott, Ohde, Hoddy, and Hoddie) that matches the recorded information I have. I’ve scoured the digitized records of the Immigrant Ship Transcribers Guild – scanning every ship departing Germany in 1864 and the first part of 1865. I’ve run multiple name searches on Hodde and variations thereof. Still neither individuals nor family groups that seem to match the Hodde family for which I’m searching.

I don’t have a birth record for Louis Hodde. I don’t have census records, although the Hoddes should be on the 1870 census. I don’t have death records for either Frederick or Henrietta, who both presumably died between 1870 and 1880 (that is, between Louis’s birth 5 November 1870 and the 1880 census when Louis and William were both residing with the Cook family).

The only other names I have to work with are the Frederick & Charlotte Cook family. Here I found a little gem of information: Charlotte’s maiden name was Spreen. According to her death record, she was born in 1843 in Germany (Prussia per her census records), the daughter of William Spreen. Charlotte and Frederick married in Ohio in 1864, and her marriage record gives us full name and birthdate: Charlotte Caroline Wilhelmine Spreen born 10 October 1843.

This almost undoubtedly makes Charlotte a relative of Henrietta. This also makes Louis’s death certificate reading mother “Yetta Spreen” more likely to be correct than William’s record reading “Henrietta Spree.”

The Cooks – or, as they were known in German, Kochs – are found on the 1870 census. Sadly, the Hoddes aren’t nearby. Also, most unfortunately, neither of the Kochs answered their year of immigration on the 1900 census. Charlotte’s immigration record also hasn’t been found.

I wonder if Charlotte came to the US with her sister Henrietta, her brother-in-law Frederick Hodde and her nephew William F. I wonder if Charlotte came first, married Fred Cook, and then brought her sister’s family to the US. I wonder if Charlotte knew the Cooks, if she was a mail-order bride, or if she perhaps met Fred Cook on the boat to the United States. None of this – however – brings me any closer to Henrietta.

So here I’m boiling down the documented facts of Henrietta’s life:

  • Henrietta was born in Prussia (stated on both her son’s death records and on their census records)
  • Her son William Frederick Hodde was born 5 May 1859 in Prussia (source,1918 death record, 1880 census, 1900 census, 1910 census), requiring Henrietta to have been in Prussia in May 1859.
  • Her son William Frederick Hodde stated he emigrated to the US in 1864; given that he was age 5 one or both parents probably came with him. (source 1900 census)
  • Her son Louis Hodde was born 5 November 1870 in Cincinnati, Ohio (source 1926 death record, 1880 census, 1910 census). This requires Henrietta to be in the United States by November 1870, specifically in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • The birth dates and locations of her children limit her immigration years to sometime after May 1859 and before November 1870, supporting William F’s claim of immigration in 1864 on the 1900 census is reasonable
  • William F and Louis are both found in the household of Frederick and Charlotte Koch on the 1880 census. Louis is recorded as “adopted.” Charlotte Koch’s maiden name is Spreen – the same as Henrietta’s.

And here are the suppositions based on those facts:

  • Based on the ages of William F and Louis, she was most likely born between 1825 and 1840
  • Frederick Hodde and Henrietta Spreen married before arriving in the United States, presumably in Prussia as they were born there and at least one child was born there
  • Henrietta probably came to the US in1864 with her son William F.
  • Charlotte Spreen Cook [Koch] is probably a relative, most likely a sister or cousin
  • Henrietta, William F and Charlotte may have come to the US together in 1864 – whether or not Frederick Hodde was with them or already in the US cannot be guessed
  • The Hoddes probably had other children who did not survive to adulthood, either in Germany or in the US
  • Henrietta and Frederick probably both died between 1870 and 1880. Frederick was certainly still alive in the spring of 1870, Henrietta in November of 1870 – although neither are found on the 1870 census living in Ohio. It is highly likely they didn’t speak English and were missed in the census counts that year. This may also explain the lack of a birth record for Louis and death records for either Henrietta or Frederick.
  • I suspect they may come from the Westfalen region of Prussia, where both Spreens and Hoddes populate the birth and marriage records. Just not, so it would seem, MY Spreen or Hodde.

For now, Henrietta is a mystery: a disappearing woman. She was real, she lived a life, some of her DNA makes up a part of me. But where she came from, and where she went – that remains a mystery to solve.

Find A Grave, digital Cincinnati Cemetery Indexes, and digital Cincinnati newspapers in both English and German have not yet yielded results.

About the Block

I discovered the Disappearing 9-Patch about a decade ago when I made a baby quilt for a friend’s rainbow baby. After piecing a traditional 9-patch, one cuts the block into four and turns some of the cut pieces and stitches them back together. There are endless variations on this block, depending on how one lays out the colors in the 9-Patch, and how one cuts the block, and how one turns the pieces and puts them back together.

The 9-Patch is only there if you have a skilled eye and know what you’re looking for. Otherwise, it’s a lovely block that leaves people puzzling over how it was assembled. It is, in many ways, like Henrietta Spreen Hodde. I KNOW she is there; I know she lived and breathed and loved and died. But she’s the 9-Patch, her story cut up and twisted and turned so that one can’t make much sense of the 9-Patch any more.

Henrietta isn’t the only lost woman in my family tree. Generations back there are women with no known maiden names, women confused with other women, women known simply as Mrs. X with not even a first name to identify her. Women like Agnes (maybe McTavish, maybe Steele) who might have come from Ireland; or Lidia who married a Van Atta; or even Elizabeth who married Amos Rees and might have been Elizabeth Rose, or possibly Elizabeth Wooley. Or Elisabeth, who married a Graham and might have been born in Kentucky. Maybe.

Henrietta isn’t even the only lost person in my family tree. Take Andrew Livingston, who is believed to have been born in Scotland, married in 1805 in the US, fathered a few children and then – supposedly – disappeared in the Wilderness of Wisconsin around 1830. Or Phillip Belfield Wren, who seems to have vanished sometime after marrying in 1852 and fathering a son in 1854. Or, the ever-present spectre looming over my genealogical research: William Vint, who I speak to during my research sometimes as one would speak to Cotton Eye Joe – “Where did you come from, where did you go?”

The joy and curse of genealogy seems to be that there is always yet another document to uncover that will finally answer your burning questions. They’re hidden, typewritten, in binders in historical societies; tucked away in microfiche in a tiny library in rural southern Ohio; lining an attic or steamer trunk or box of china hoarded by a long-lost second cousin thrice removed on your mother’s side who has no idea those seemingly worthless crumbled papers hold answers to questions that keep you up at night. The curse is when they remain so irritatingly illusive – the joy, when they miraculously surface and you can finally put speculation to bed and rest in KNOWING.