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Archive for the ‘52 Ancestors’ Category

Today I’d like to discuss the last surviving child of John and Mary Wilson, my grandfather’s brother Stu.  He lived to the age of 98!

stu

Stu was the 9th of 10 children born to John Wilson and Mary Thompson.  He was born in Pittsburgh Township (now Kingston), Ontario on April 21, 1914. In the 1921 Canadian census, Stu is living on the Wilson farm in Pittsburgh Township with his parents, his paternal grandmother, and 7 brothers and sisters.  The oldest son, Hugh, had moved out.  The oldest daughter, Annie Maude, had died at the age of 4 in 1904.

Stu crossed the border at Buffalo, N.Y. on April 26, 1948 in order to reside in the United States. He lists my grandfather, Charles, as his contact in the U.S. At the time, Stu was a machinist living in Toronto.

stu_arrival

His Declaration of Intention for U.S. citizenship is dated March 18, 1949 in Houston, Texas. Stu married Willa Mary Craig (Aunt Mary) on July 30, 1949 (I’m assuming in Canada). On October 18, 1949, his new wife Mary came through Port Huron, Michigan on her way to her husband’s residence in Houston.  Within the next few years, they had a son. By 1952, the Wilson family was living in Flint, Michigan where, according to the city directory, Stu was a machinist at Buick.

This is all I know about Uncle Stu from the documents.  I know they moved to Ottawa, but I’m not sure when.  I remember them coming from Canada to visit my grandparents in the 1980s.

Today is the third anniversary of Uncle Stu’s death. His obituary from The Ottawa Citizen of Jan. 9, 2013 reads as follows:

WILSON, Clarence Stuart (longtime resident Fraser Ave.) Passed away in Ottawa on January 7, 2013. Born April 21, 1914 in Pittsburg Township (Kingston), Stuart was the surviving member of his family of 10 brothers and sisters. He is predeceased by his beloved wife Mary (nee Craig of Tamworth/Kingston) and survived by his son, Gordon, daughter-in-law, Joanne, and grandsons, Mark and Jeff. Stuart lived a long and wonderful life, characterized by a positive attitude, quick wit and concern for others. He will be missed by all who knew him. Thanks to all who have assisted Stuart in various ways over the past few years. There are no words to adequately express our gratitude to Chris and Astrid whose capacity for caring made such an immense difference in the quality of Stuart’s later life. A private family service will be held. Online condolences can be made at http://www.colefuneralservices.com.

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Image citations:

The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Alien Arrivals at Buffalo, Lewiston, Niagara Falls, and Rochester, New York, 1902-1954; National Archives Microfilm Publication: M1480; Roll: 159; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: 85

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Joseph Ralph Smiechowski was my great-grandmother’s (Mae Moore Oakes) second husband. They were married in 1916 in Detroit, Michigan. I have found his last name spelled a few different ways, including Smiechowsky and Smilchowski.

 

jrs_mdo_marriage

Smiechowski / Oakes Marriage Registration, 19 June 1916 (Click image to enlarge)

 

Joseph was born 6 September 1893 in Detroit to Wladyslaw (Walter) Smiechowski and Eva Wolff. He had one brother Edward (born 1895) and two sisters, Amelia (born 1898) and Anna (born 1900). In the 1900 census, the family was living on St. Joseph St. in Detroit.  In the 1910 census, they were living on Theodore Street. Joseph was 16 and employed as a shipping clerk at a tannery. On 19 June 1916, Joseph and my great-grandmother, Mae, were married in Detroit.  One of the witnesses was her brother, Earl Moore.  Mae had a daughter, Helen, who turned four years old on their wedding day. On his World War I draft registration card, dated 1 June 1917, Joseph is described as medium height, stout, with blue eyes and light hair.  He lists his dependents as a “wife and child 5 yrs old.” In various documents, his occupation is listed as decorator or painter.

 

jrs_wwi

 

In the 1920 census, the little family was living on Sheridan Street in Detroit.  My grandmother Helen was listed as Helen Smiechowski, instead of Helen Oakes and as Joseph’s daughter instead of step-daughter.

 

1920 census (Click on image to enlarge)

1920 census (Click on image to enlarge)

 

Mae filed for divorce on 17 December 1924 and the divorce was granted on 11 May 1925. Causes listed were extreme cruelty and non-support. Mae went on to marry her third husband Alfred Johnson in July 1925.

In the 1930 census, Joseph was living with his parents on Pressler Street in Detroit.

I recently found his death certificate on the SeekingMichigan.org site.  Joseph died 21 Sept 1936.  His place of death is listed as Motor Boat Lane, Detroit, Michigan. This road appears to be next to a marina or an inlet of the Detroit River near the Manoogian Mansion.  His cause of death was “asphyxiation by suffocation drowning.” His father Walter is listed as the informant.  His address was 6629 Burns, and I assume Joseph was living there at the time of his death, but the certificate lists his address as unknown. Burns Street was only about 5 or 6 blocks over from Motor Boat Lane. I had no idea when I started looking for his death date, that Mr. Smiechowski had come to such a tragic end.

_________________________________

Image citations:

“Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N3TS-CLW : accessed 5 January 2016), Joseph R. Smiechowski and Mae D Moore Oakes, 19 Jun 1916; citing Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, v 6 p 443 rn 131966, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,342,718.

“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images,FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6XQ-4NM : accessed 5 January 2016), Joseph Ralph Smiechowski, 1917-1918; citing Detroit City, Michigan, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,675,371.

“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZW1-7LF : accessed 5 January 2016), Joseph Smilchowski, Detroit Ward 17, Wayne, Michigan, United States; citing sheet 20A, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,820,816.

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Train_derailment,_1920_(3885506679).jpg

So I didn’t get very far in my “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge before school, work, and life got in the way.  I’m going to continue with it anyway.  I’ve saved all the prompts for all the weeks from Amy’s website and plan to keep on trucking.

(Image of train derailment in NSW Australia from https://commons.wikimedia.org)

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Helen and Charles Wilson kissing on their wedding day.  One of my favorite pictures of my grandparents!

Helen and Charles Wilson kissing on their wedding day, June 4, 1932.  One of my favorite pictures of my grandparents!

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John Gisel was born September 27, 1843 in Wilchingen, Schaffhausen, Switzerland to Leonard Gisel and Elizabetha Bachtold.  He had an older brother, John, who died in Switzerland in 1842.  His family came to the United States in about 1852.  It is believed that his mother died while on the journey over and she was buried at sea.  In the 1860 U.S. census for Franklin, Fulton County, Ohio, his father Leonard is listed with four children: George (aged 20), Anna (19), John (16), and Mary (15).  John married Margaret Rhost in about 1868.

In the 1880 U.S. census, John and Margaret were living in Franklin and had 7 children: Ella/Mary Ellen (aged 13), Martha (my great-great grandmother) (aged 10), John (8), Lydia (7), Libbie/Elizabeth (5), Samuel (3), and William (9 months).  They had a daughter, Anna, who was born in 1875 and apparently died before the 1880 census.  In 1881, they another son, Albert.

In the 1900 census, John and Margaret were still living in Franklin and had been married for 31 years.  Out of 9 children born to Margaret, 8 were still living.  By the 1910 census, John and Margaret were living on Cedar Street in Wauseon, Ohio.

On June 2, 1913, their grandson Earl Belknap (Martha’s son) married Florence Bost at their home.  From an announcement from the local paper:

The marriage of Mr. Earl E. Belknap and Miss Florence E. Bost, occurred at the home of Mr. John Gisel on Cedar Avenue Monday evening, at 4:00 o’clock, Rev. J. H. Williams, officiating.

In 1920, they were in the same place, John was 76 and Margaret was 71 and employed as a laundress.

John Gisel died November 1, 1923 of pneumonia and an inguinal hernia.  He was buried in Wauseon Union Cemetery.  Their daughter Elizabeth Bingman died April 9, 1924 of mitral regurgitation, and their daughter Martha Belknap died in an auto accident in Michigan in September 1925.  In the 1930 census, Margaret was an 83-year-old widow living alone on Cedar Street in Clinton Township, Fulton, Ohio.  She died April 20, 1939 at the age of 90 and is buried in Wauseon Union as well.

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I’m told I look and act a lot like my aunt Sally.  We all called her Auntie.  I miss her so much sometimes it hurts.

Summer 1937, about 3 1/2 years old

Summer 1937,     3 1/2 years old

Auntie was born January 30, 1934 in Detroit, Michigan.  In the 1940 census, she was aged 6 living at 2431 Bennett in Dearborn, Michigan.  Her parents were Charles and Helen (Oakes) Wilson.  Her brother, Charles, was 4.  My mother Mary was born in 1942. She went to high school at Dearborn High School, when it was located at Mason and Garrison Streets.  She graduated in 1952.

1952

1952

She secretly married Melvin Jones on July 4, 1960.  Then, on July 16, she served as my mother’s maid of honor, still keeping the secret!

bobmarywed

July 16, 1960 (Sally at right of the bride)

It must have been hard, this interracial marriage in 1960.  She loved him so much and after Uncle Melvin’s death in 1995 she kind of drifted away until she had to be placed in a nursing home because of dementia.

Melvin, Sally and Charles Jones, Christmas 1962

Melvin, Sally and Charles Jones, Christmas 1962

This is how I will remember her, long hair (which Melvin loved and she never cut until he died), rosy cheeks, loving arms.  Oh dear, I’m about to cry writing this.  Deep breath.

Auntie, about 1985

Auntie, about 1985

Auntie died July 9, 2009 at the age of 75.

Acacia Park Cemetery, Beverly Hills, Mich.

Acacia Park Cemetery, Beverly Hills, Mich.

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Yikes, I’m really behind on my 52 ancestors.  Now to play catch-up.

https://i1.wp.com/c1316757.r57.cf3.rackcdn.com/130/sllocmap.jpg

Robert Gibson, my 3rd Great-Grandfather, was born about 1805 in Ireland.  His family was from the Ards Peninsula (shown on map above) in County Down, Northern Ireland.  They likely moved to Ireland from Scotland.  According to Catharine Anne Wilson, Scotch-Irish families “emigrated from 1820 to 1860 from the United Parish of St. Andrews in Northern Ireland to Amherst Island, Ontario, Canada.” (Wilson, C. A. (1997). The Scotch-Irish and Immigrant Culture on Amherst Island, Ontario. In H. T. Blethen & C. Wood (Eds.), Ulster and North America: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Scotch-Irish (134-145). Tuscaloosa, Ala.: University of Alabama Press.)  St. Andrews was six miles north of Portaferry, from which many ships departed.

Robert married Mary McCormick in Ireland in the 1830s.  They had at least five children between 1837 and 1850, including my great-great grandmother Mary Ann.  According to her 1911 Canada Census entry, Mary Ann arrived on Amherst Island in 1857, which is when, I assume, the rest of the family came.  This also fits the emigration time frame put forth by Wilson.  She was married with a daughter by 1859 on the island.  In the 1861 and 1871 censuses, Robert and Mary were living on Amherst Island.  He was listed as Presbyterian and she was listed as Roman Catholic.  In April 1881, they were living with their son Hugh (1848-1881) and his wife Elizabeth and their two children, William and Mary Ellen.  Hugh died in June 1881 and a son, also named Hugh, was born in February 1882.

Robert died on May 5, 1882 of dyspepsia.  He might be buried in St. Bartholomew’s Cemetery on Amherst Island.  His wife Mary died on January 13, 1886 of dropsy of the heart.

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