Saturday, December 29, 2012

Edward Morrison Kline (1893-1963)

Edward Morrison Kline and his granddaughters, Shirley and Rita Kline.
Edward Morrison Kline and his granddaughters,
Shirley and Rita Kline.

Genealogy is often like a solving a mystery. You find clues, piece them together, and hopefully what you end up with is a story of where you came from. One of the longest mysteries I have worked on is Edward Morrison Kline Sr. When I began researching him, I knew his birth and death dates. I knew he was married to a woman named Bessie Goodspeed. But even this small amount of information seemed troublesome. For instance, Edward and Bessie were married in 1920, but my great grandfather, Edward Morrison Kline Jr, was born in 1912. So I knew that a rather important piece was missing, who was his first wife, Ed’s biological mother, and my great-great-grandmother?

Edward Morrison Kline was born February 13th, 1893 to John Kline and Mary Ella Wetmore. Little is still known about his younger life though he did suffer loss early on. John, his father, died in 1897 from heart trouble leaving Ella with 2 young sons. The three of them lived with Ella’s father, Isaac P. Wetmore, for a time before Ella remarried. Edward got a job with the New York Central Railroad and within a few years his life had changed dramatically. On March 4, 1912 Edward married Lena Pearl Martin, and shortly after they had their first child, Edward Morrison Kline Jr. In 1914 and 1916 Helen and William (Bill) followed.

1918 was a tragic year. Not just for this family, but for a community and the world. The 1918 Influenza Pandemic, often referred to as the Spanish Flu, killed more people and was farther reaching than World War I. This disease had touched every part of the globe. Oswego, New York was especially susceptible because of its place as a significant port on the Great Lakes. In September 1918 the virulent strain reached the U.S. shores and by the first week of October, the disease struck approximately 3,500 of Oswego’s 23,000 population. Many of those who died contracted pneumonia.

I don’t know the exact cause of death, but in the early morning of October 21st, 1918, at age 25, Lena Kline passed away from what her and many others’ obituaries called “a short illness”.

By 1920 the family had spread apart somewhat. Edward (Sr.) was living in Minnesota with his mother’s sister Anna and her husband and would marry his 2nd wife, Bessie that same year. The kids were boarded back in Oswego by Fred and Cornelia Vincent who do not appear to be any relation to the family.

By 1930 Edward (Jr), now 18, had moved out to Portland where Edward (Sr) and Bessie were living but the two younger children had not come. Helen never came out to Oregon but married Salvatore Lombardo of Syracuse, New York. William enlisted into the military in WWII, but later settled in Oregon.

Perhaps the answer is as simple as they did not want to uproot the children after losing their mother, but until I find the answer I will always wonder about this piece of the puzzle, why the family separated.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Edward Rubel (1850-1907)

Edward Rubel was born on January 24, 1850 in France. His parents were Johannes and Margaret Schaeffer Rubel. Edward had at least four older sisters -- Eva, Barbara, Mary Ann and Catherine, and one younger sister, Louisa. The Rubel family lived in the northeast section of France between the Voges and the Rhine. The story goes that Johannes was a baker. The family lived in several different cities in France. Eva was born in Alsace Lorraine, Mary Ann in Metz and Edward in the same area in France.

In 1866, Edward Rubel traveled to America by ship. He was only sixteen but his family feared war was ahead. They did not want their only son to be drafted. They felt America had more opportunities for him. His oldest sister, Eva, had already settled in Galena, Illinois and had married and started a family so Edward headed for that area. Where he settled is uncertain. However, in 1870, Edward lived in Bellevue, Iowa per the United States Census of 1870. This stated he was single, 20 year old, a farmer and was from France. About the same time war did break out in France just as the Rubels had feared. The section the Rubels had lived in became a part of Germany from 1871-1917 and again in 1940-1944.

Around 1875, Edward Rubel married Katherine Heim at St. Mary's Church in Galena, Illinois. Edward continued to farm. Their first child was born in 1876. They named him John. In 1878 another son was botn and named Edward II. Sometime before 1881 the family to Springbrook, Iowa. There Charles was born in 1881, followed by Arnold in 1883, Abbie in 1884, Josephine in 1885, Emma in 1887 and William in 1890.

Edward was known to have red curly hair, was rather stout, wore a mustache, and was rather short for a man. On November 27, 1907, while visiting Chicago, Illinois, Edward died of an accident in his hotel room. Apparently a gas heater had gone out and he died from the fumes. His two older sons, John and Edward II, brought his body back to Springbrook, Iowa for burial. He was only 57 years old.

From Edward Rubel and family, compiled by Florene Hubenthal Rubel, 1985

Photo from Find a Grave memorial.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Landess epiphany

I started a post awhile ago that I had hoped I would be able to finish by now. I wasn't feeling confident of my evidence so I was hesitant despite being very excited by what I had discovered. I still haven't found the trail on paper that I was seeking, but I almost feel as though I have taken a step back from the microcosm of the family branch to find a greater understanding of the giant tree as a whole.

Earlier this year I contacted another user on Both of our family trees seemed to share so many overlaps that we had to be distant cousins. It turned out, we weren't so distant. We began talking and learned that her grandmother is my grandfather's aunt -- a second cousin (once removed from me).

A couple of months ago she contacted me with some rather exciting news. She had taken part in's new DNA program and had received some phenomenal confirmations. Comparing her results with others who had participated in the program, she found the proof she needed - our ancestors are from a Swiss - Palatinate Anabaptist (Mennonite) family from Hirzel, Switzerland with a history of religious persecution. Specifically, in comparisons with other family trees, it appears we are descended from a Mennonite martyr, Hans Landis who was persecuted and eventually beheaded for preaching his faith.

This was truly fascinating to me and I was blown away when I began researching Hans' life and some of the Mennonite history. However, something was bothering me - my "paper trail". Looking at the line in the tree, at the sources I do manage to have, there was conflicting evidence. Here is what I know for certain of the Landess line going backward in generations:

My maternal grandfather (Living)  ->

Ralph Waldo Stevens (1901-1963) ->

Steward Armstrong Stevens (1856-1934) ->

Louisa Landess (1825-1918) ->

John Landess (1794-1846) ->

Jacob Landess (abt 1750 - 1841)

That's where my trail stops. There are a couple of different of sources that have differing information, but unfortunately nothing so far has been promising.

At first I thought this Jacob was born in Pennsylvania, part of a line that stems from three brothers who emigrated in 1717. The birth years were similar after all... But most sources had this Jacob as being born in Germany near the Swiss border. So that didn't fit and thus began my path of confusion. These brothers were descendants of Hans... if my family are descendants of Hans, then surely there must be a connection... or that's what I told myself. I became terribly distraught, trying to piece the puzzle together somehow with pieces that just didn't fit. I convinced myself it has to all fit somehow. After all, information in genealogy can sometimes be incorrect, but the more I studied the evidence, the bigger this discrepancy became.

To clarify, at some point the name had changed spellings from Landis to Landess. The spelling was not a discrepancy  more like .... surname evolution.

So I took a few steps back. I shouldn't be so focused on trying to make this one link fit. The simple fact, I no longer believe these two Jacob Landis' were the same person.  So I re-framed my thought process - Science is science. DNA told us we are descended from the Hirzel Landises, so there's some other way we fit in. There are two centuries of generations between Hans and Jacob, I didn't have to come from this one family.

I went back to look logically and with an open mind at the evidence and the research of other genealogists on Jacob Landess and went back to what I KNEW, not what I suspected --  Jacob Landess was born around 1750 and was married to Mary Reynolds in Kentucky. They had 13 children and settled in Highland Co., Ohio near Pricetown in 1815.

I am no closer to knowing exactly who Jacob's father is. Some believe he is the son of Christian Landis who emigrated to the U.S.  in the 1830's. But once again, if Jacob was supposed to be born in Germany it did not make much sense. So, I spent some time just reading and searching, learning what I could. I still do not know the line, I do not know how to trace it directly back to Hans the martyr, but through all of it what I have discovered is that most of the families are all branches of the same ... very large, very spread out tree. (Jacob and Mary were not unique among Landis descendants in having a large family.)

The Landis family were among the many from Switzerland who were sent away from their homes to the Palatine. Some went there, some tried to stay, some left to Germany.  When William Penn was offering deeds to land in the New World many saw the chance to find their freedom of Religious persecution and set off for Pennsylvania.  As the family spread out over the course of centuries the names changed - They are known as Landis, Landiss, Landes, Landers, and Landess.

And thus, it was then when I was standing back and not focusing so hard on making a link - my epiphany finally came. While I may not know the exact lineage of Jacob Landess, I do know where I come from and I hope that I carry even just a small flame of my ancestors inside.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Buckeye Ranch

I became fascinated with Buckeye Ranch. My grandmother told me that my grandfather's aunt, Opal, had often gone up to Washington to visit "our cousins". She didn't know how close of cousins they were, or anything about this family. This of course piqued my interest, but it would be awhile before I pursued this line of research.

When I was researching some of my 2nd great-grandfather Steward's siblings I came across Winfield Scott Stevens (b. 1851) and noticed he had died in Yakima County, Washington. Well there we go, our Washington connection! So, I began searching for information about Winfield, and it wasn't difficult to find. In the book An Illustrated history of Klickitat, Yakima and Kittias Counties there is a biography of Winfield as one of the pioneers of the Yakima Valley.

Winfield was born in Highland City, Ohio on June 29, 1851 and lived on the family farm until 1869. He went to Pennsylvania for four years to work in lumbering. He then moved west, making his way finally to Yakima county in 1880.  In 1888 he settled on the land that would become his farm, "one of the finest in the valley", Buckeye Ranch.

Winfield seems to have been well known:
"...considered to be one of the most progressive and public spirited citizens of the valley, being always to the front in matters affecting the betterment of the community... He is a man of high character, industrious and deservedly popular."
I also discovered that the house has been added to the National Register of Historic Buildings which made me desperate to find a picture of the ranch! I searched through different Yakima history books that were available through my local library, but did not find any. I do however have a picture from the 50's of the house. This is one of Opal's pictures:

I since  have found  the actual application for the Register of Historic Places. It has left me with even more clues to follow, but what I read certainly put a smile to my face and it is what I will leave off with:
When Stevens died in 1923, his goodwill was remembered on the front page of the Yakima newspaper, which noted that "strangers found a ready welcome at his door at all times," and his children recalled that a large continent of Yakima Indians attended the services in Naches. Nancy Clark Stevens continued to live at the ranch after her husband's death, and carried on the tradition of hospitality. When she died in 1940, it was reported that "she retained always the pioneer virtue of being a friend to man in a house by side of the road."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

What am I doing?

I began growing curious about my family's history and our roots in early 2010. The genealogy for my father's side of the family had pretty well been done some years earlier, but my mother's family was still a mystery. I knew my grandfather came from Missouri to Oregon with his family when he was a child, and I knew my grandmother's mother had been adopted. But beyond that... I knew little.

So, I decided to create an account and check out the 2 week free trial. I was floored with the amount of information that was at the tips of my fingers! I was hooked and spent those two weeks in a flurry of charts, census records, you name it. Well... I slowed down, mainly for my sanity, and I have since spent a lot of time searching for my family's various roots.

So why am I writing a blog about this now? 2 years into my research? Because I wanted to share stories I have learned and the paths of research with my family, and anyone else who might be remotely interested in this journey.