Archive for the ‘52 Ancestors’ Category

#18 – Nathaniel Belknap

Recently on Ancestry.com, I found the probate record for Nathaniel Belknap that listed a fascinating inventory of his homestead, which leads me to this post.

Nathaniel Belknap was born March 31, 1746 in Plaistow, New Hampshire to Obadiah Belknap and Sarah Mitchell. Nathaniel married Hannah Hutchins on July 11, 1770 in Salem, Rockingham, New Hampshire. Nathaniel Belknap was living in Salem, Rockingham, N.H. in 1776. According to the History of Salem, N.H., written by Edgar Gilbert in 1907, Nathaniel Belknap was a selectman of the town in 1796.


Image from Find-a-Grave

Nathaniel died October 12, 1803 in Salem, N.H.  He is buried in Salem Center Burying Ground.  His estate papers were dated October 14, 1803. His wife Hannah was one of the administrators in charge of taking an inventory of his estate.


Beginning of inventory of N. Belknap’s estate, 11/22/1803



Ancestry.com. New Hampshire, Births and Christenings Index, 1714-1904 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Find-a-Grave image: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=82009960&PIpi=61658763

Ancestry.com. New Hampshire, Wills and Probate Records, 1643-1982 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: New Hampshire County, District and Probate Courts.


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#17 – Jacob Baker

My husband’s great-great grandfather was Jacob Baker (family name originally Becker). Jacob Baker was born May 30, 1865 in Ohio.  His parents Johann George Becker and Elisabeth Kline were born in Germany. They married in Germany in 1853 and their first child, Wilhelmina, was born in Illinois or Ohio in 1854. Eight more children followed after Wilhelmina, including Jacob.

In the 1870 U.S. census, the family (listed as Baker) was living in Richfield, Lucas County, Ohio.  George was 43 and a farmer.  His real estate was valued at $2500 and his personal estate at $500. Elisabeth was 38 and kept house. Their birthplace is listed as Prussia.  Wilhelmina (Mena) was 15 and listed as being born in Ohio.  As was Elizabeth, aged 14.  The next two children Mary (11) and Conrad (9) were listed as being born in Illinois.  The rest of the children, Katherine (7), Jacob (5), and Emma (1) were listed as being born in Ohio.

In the 1880 census, the family was still living in Richfield Township. Their last name was listed as Baker.  The children at home were Conrad (19), Catherine (17), Jacob (15), Emma (11), George (8) and Margrett (5).

Jacob married Bertha Knisel on June 28, 1900 in Lucas County, Ohio when he was 35 and she was 25. They were both living in Toledo at the time.  Jacob was a carpenter and Bertha was a domestic. Click the image below to enlarge their marriage registration.


Jacob and Bertha had a daughter, Emma Maud, on April 6, 1901 in Toledo, Ohio. Their son, Milton Jacob, was born November 14, 1904, also in Toledo.  In the 1910 census, the family was living at 1504 Norwood Avenue in Toledo.  Jacob was a carpenter in building construction. It says he was out of work 9 weeks during 1909. Emma was 9 and Milton was 5 and both attended school.

In 1920, the family was living at 1450 Prospect Avenue.  Sometime between 1910 and 1920, Jacob became the proprietor of his own grocery store.  In the census, Bertha was listed as his partner in the grocery.  Emma, aged 18, was a stenographer at a real estate office, while Milton (15) was still in school.


Click image to see it larger.

In the 1923 Toledo City Directory, the family was still living at 1450 Prospect Avenue. Milton was a driver and Emma was a stenographer at Palmer-Blair Company.  Jacob’s wife Bertha died on July 22, 1923 of breast cancer. She was buried in Toledo Memorial Park. In about 1925, their daughter Emma married Donald G. Miehls.  Donald was a Catholic and Jacob disowned Emma because of her marriage.

On October 29, 1924, Jacob married Amanda Tursan, the widow of Peter Dethlefsen.  He was 58 and she was 51.


Jacob died December 6, 1929 of stomach cancer and involutional melancholia (depression). When he died, Jacob left everything to his son Milton and nothing to Emma. Milton gave Emma and her husband the grocery story, while he kept the house. Amanda, Jacob’s widow, died in 1948 and was buried with her husband Peter.


Toledo Memorial Park in Sylvania, Ohio

Image citations:

“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZLR-Q2Q : accessed 15 January 2016), Jacob Baker and Bertha Knisel, 28 Jun 1900; citing Lucas, Ohio, United States, reference 597; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 909,007.

“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDGX-GD9 : accessed 15 January 2016), Bertha Baker in household of Jacob Baker, Toledo Ward 8, Lucas, Ohio, United States; citing sheet 22A, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,821,409.

“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2Q35-PRQ : accessed 19 January 2016), Jacob Baker and Amanda Turson Dethlefsen, 29 Oct 1924; citing Lucas, Ohio, United States, reference ; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 2,167,511.

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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 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.


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.


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.



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.




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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52 Ancestors


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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