Sunday, January 27, 2019

Grace Cemetery Near Cozad

MAR. 1845  -  JUNE 1896
JUNE 1821  -  APR. 1912
JULY 29, 1909

This stone definitely appears to have been placed much later than their deaths. My guess would be some time in the 1950's.  This is the only time I've seen Rachel's name spelled with the "ae". 

Linden Shroy is their Great Grandson, his mother was Rebecca Patterson, daughter of Arminda McGrath, who was John and Rachel's second child. Rachel's obituary says she lost two children who never appear in any census records and would be buried somewhere in Illinois. I have not been able to find any record of them. The other three children of John & Rachel are buried in three different cemeteries, Rebecca Smith in the Stockham Cemetery, Arminda Patterson in the Cozad Cemetery and Art McGrath in the Aurora Cemetery.  

Grace Cemetery is about 100 miles west of me. I learned that they were buried there from notes my Grand Uncle Virg McGrath had written. My first trip there was several years ago and I've been back a couple of times. It's a small, peaceful old country cemetery 8 miles east of Cozad. The church associated with it burned down years ago if I remember correctly, and the records cannot be found. Few burials take place there now. The natural grass is not mowed often and there aren't many trees. Their grave is to the west side of the cemetery just north of center. As far as I know, there are no section or lot numbers.

The cemetery is in Coyote precinct where according to tax assessment records John & Rachel were living when Rachel died. They had a Homestead several miles north in Custer County at that same time, but may not have been living on it. 

John McGrath came from Dublin, Ireland, but I believe the date of 1821 is about 10 years too early for his birth. He died April 14, 1912. His parents were Arthur and "R.", which I would bet stands for Rebecca - the same as their oldest daughter.  I've never been able to find an obituary for John. To my knowledge his parents never came to the US and would be buried somewhere in Ireland.

Rachel Jane was 8 years old in 1850, and her obituary states her birthday was November 24, 1841, not March of 1845. I've been looking for a marriage record for her and John for over 25 years and if I ever find one, I wonder if it will show that they were married in March. Maybe someone who ordered this stone couldn't clearly remember and had the two events confused. 

Rachel's father, Lebius Simmons, died when she was about 12 years old. I've never been able to find exactly when or how he died or where he is buried. Her mother Ruth died in 1863 in Fulton County, Illinois. She had remarried and her name was Ruth Webb, but I haven't been able to find where she is buried either. I do know, however, where Ruth's parents are buried and I've been to their grave.  

Sunday, January 20, 2019

My Search for a Photo of Belle

I spent a lot of time last year searching for a photograph I thought would be easy to find. Spoiler alert - I was not successful. The more attempts I make to find a photo and fail, the more challenged I am to find one.

My Great Grandmother, Lena (Jorgenson) Roscoe had a sister who was very musically inclined and a performer on a small scale. “Belle”, was born Merlin Isabelle Jorgenson in 1871 in Will County, Illinois. Using details mentioned in her obituary I've searched the country for her photo.

She attended Valparaiso University (at that time the Northern Indiana Normal School) about 1892, but I was told they didn't have yearbooks until 1911. I emailed the college and they were able to confirm she was listed in the 1893 catalog as a student in the Music Department. She taught school in her home town of Peotone and was "greatly beloved for many years." 1 City Directories for 1895 & 1902 show her living in Joliet a short distance from Peotone. By 1900, she moved to Chicago and I'm not sure if she was still teaching in Peotone then. In 1904 she moved to Rock Springs, Wyoming where "she became director of music and public speaking of the city schools. She also taught in Menominee, Michigan". 2 I haven't been able to locate any yearbooks for those schools at that time, but I have found her name in the newspapers in Rock Springs, Wyoming from 1904 through 1906.

Newspaper clippings in social columns from Peotone in 1907 state she is in Chicago, studying music at the Columbia College of Music.  In 1910, her occupation was Musician, "on the road". I think this is when, according to her obituary, she was travelling with a Chautauqua around the midwest. More about the Chautauqua in a minute. 

Her obituary states she was married in 1915, but it was actually in 1911. I've found this announcement of her engagement in the Chicago Daily Tribune, Aug. 4, 1911 3 which was shared in her hometown paper. Last year at the Abraham Lincoln Library in Springfield I searched the Chicago Daily Tribune, but found nothing about the wedding. The papers were too faded to see very well. Her obituary states that they were married by B. Fay Mills, more about him in a minute. By November 3, 1911 the Peotone Vedette had a mention that Mrs McKee "recently became the bride of Earl McKee". 4  They were expected "to make their home in Fort Worth, Texas." It appears they didn't live in Texas for long.

In "Music News", a trade publication out of Chicago 5 this paragraph about the Del Mar Ladies' Quartet was in a column of news from Los Angeles in July, 1913. By November of that same year, the name of the group was changed to the "Los Angeles Ladies Quartet" and there are two different members, Hulda Besch and and Mrs Laura Johnson Sondea in place of Miss Ethel Verda Ellmore and Miss Ruby Dale. 6  I found out that Miss Ellmore was killed in a car accident in early November. The name "Del Mar" Ladies Quartet lead me down a long path of the wrong group of women who sang with the travelling Chautauqua during the years 1917-1920. I found several advertisements in newspapers, some WITH a photo but the women weren't named individually. I contacted the New York Chautauqua Institution who sent me to the University of Iowa's Redpath Chautauqua Collection. They have info on the travelling Chautauquas and I found the same photo from the ads of the Del Mar Ladies Quartet with the names of those women. None of them were the same women named in the Music News notices. I'm still wondering if there is some connection between the Los Angeles group named Del Mar Ladies Quartet and the Chautauqua group.

The California Digital Newspapers online have the Los Angeles Herald where I found several mentions of the Los Angeles Ladies Quartet (with various spellings). From 1913 to 1917 they held performances in LA, often associated with the Fellowship of Los Angeles. The Fellowship was located in Blanchard Hall and just by chance I found that Mr B. Fay Mills was "permanent minister" there in 1906. B Fay Mills was the minister who married Belle and Earl in 1911 in Illinois (or at least I think it was Illinois, but I haven't found a marriage record).  B Fay Mills was a nationally known revivalist, social reformer and advocate of free religion. The connection between Belle and B Fay Mills seems like a strong one. An interesting thing to note is that in California Voter Registrations, Belle is usually registered as a Socialist. Her sister, Bertha, was married to Jacob O. Bentall who ran for Governor of Minnesota in 1916 as a Socialist, but was arrested and spent some time in Leavenworth, Kansas for violating the espionage act. But I digress.

The last time the Los Angeles Ladies Quartet appear in the newspapers was 1917, and according to her obituary it was 1918 when her husband suffered from an illness which left him an invalid. I wonder if it was polio, but have not found any more information on that. He was a court reporter for the Superior Court of Los Angeles for several years.

So with nothing more from the online newspapers, my search turned to LA City Directories. Belle is listed as a teacher/music teacher from 1922 to 1934. This was where I found her listed with the Los Angeles Coaching School. The LA Public Library was not able to find any information on the teachers of the school and didn't have any yearbooks. I also tried the Music Department of the UCLA library with no luck. 

Los Angeles Coaching School was not an ordinary high school. It was a private tutoring school where Intensive preparation was given in small groups or individually. Some of the more famous students of the school were Will Rogers Jr and the sons of Edgar Rice Burroughs, both mentioned in Belle's obituary.

One more interesting item I found through a search on Google Books was quite a surprise. She obtained copyright on a "scenerio" called "You Supply the Girl", in 1935. 7 I'm not sure if this is a song or a play or exactly what. I'd like to get a copy of that, but if I understand the government copyright website correctly, it would cost $200. I wish that didn't matter, but it does.

The informant on Belle's death certificate was her nephew, Carleton Bentall. From what I've seen, Carleton had one daughter Carol Ann who married Alan Steidley. This is something I need to pursue. I've contacted local libraries, posted requests in facebook groups, I occasionally check Dead Fred and other old photo sites.  Someday I hope to find a photograph of Merlin Belle McKee. One of her as a member of the Los Angeles Ladies Quartet would be great. ANY photo would be wonderful to have. I'm still working on it.

1 Peotone (Illinois) Vedette, Thursday, August 13, 1942, pg 1
2 Ibid.
3 Chicago Daily Tribune, August 4, 1911, pg 6
4 Peotone (Illinois) Vedette, November 3, 1911
5 "Music News", by Watt, Charles E., Vol 5, No. 27, Chicago, July 4, 1913, pg 5, digital images, Internet Archive
6 "Music News", by Watt, Charles E., Vol 5, No. 48, Chicago, November 28, 1913, pg 30, digital images, Internet Archive
7 "Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. {B} Group 2. Pamphlets, Etc." New Series, Vol 32, No. 9 1935, digital image, Library of Congress, Copyright Office

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Family Plot in the Aurora Cemetery

ARTHUR L.                    SADIE E.
1876  -  1965             1880  -  1958

As I said in my last post, my Grandma's parents, Art & Sadie McGrath are buried near her in Section 10A on the south side of the Aurora Cemetery. The grave on the right in the background of the above photo is Sadie's brother, William D. Negley, to his left is Grandma's brother Virg. All four children of Art & Sadie, Virgil, Alice, Orville and Violet, survived their parents and are buried in the same cemetery. I've been putting flowers on most of these graves before Memorial Day now for a few years. 

APRIL 20, 1914 - OCT. 9, 1969

SEP 29, 1909 - JUL 5 1982

ALICE                             GORDON R
DEC 1, 1911                     JUNE 2, 1905
OCT. 18, 1993                   NOV. 20, 2001

OCT 9, 1883
DEC 10, 1961

Sadie died before I was born. She had a stroke and died at her home in Aurora. She was the first in the family to be buried in this cemetery, and the first of many whose funeral services were held in the Higby Mortuary Chapel. Two brothers had predeceased her, her two remaining brothers and her sister were at her funeral. Out of town relatives came from Denver, North Platte and Cozad. Sadie's parents are in the Harvard Cemetery.

When Art died I was only four and I don't remember him but I have a couple of pictures of my brother and I with him. He died in the Aurora Hospital after an "extended illness." The music at the funeral services of both Art & Sadie were provided by the same two women, Mrs. Lawrence Penner, soloist, accompanied by Mrs. Glenn Haworth. Pallbearers were nephews, neighbors and family friends. Art's parents are buried in the Grace Cemetery near Cozad, Nebraska.  

Had Sadie lived just another 10 days, they would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. I don't know if any plans had been made for a party.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

My Maternal Grandparents Grave

J Stanley                        Violet J
Aug 1, 1907               Sept. 19, 1917
Oct. 20, 1970               June 18, 1991 

My maternal Grandparents, Stan & Vi Bell, are buried in the Aurora Cemetery, about 30 miles from where I live. It's the largest cemetery in Hamilton county. I've been there many times, took this photograph just a few years ago. 

Their grave is in the same section as Grandma's parents and her two brothers. Her sister is in another section of the Aurora cemetery as well as one of Grandpa's brothers. Several of my relatives and many family friends lie there under it's shady trees, although wind storms have done a lot of damage to them in the past several years. 

I was in grade school when Grandpa died and didn't go to his funeral. I was at Grandma's funeral, just two days before my wedding. She didn't drive and didn't want to burden anyone with getting her to the wedding and back home. Whether or not that had anything to do with it, I don't know, but she had a stroke on Monday and didn't make it through the night. It was so unexpected and yet the timing worked out - visitation Wednesday, funeral Thursday, rehearsal Friday and wedding Saturday. Truly an end and a beginning.