I was an Army brat. I moved at least five times before my eighth birthday. The last move was to Utah, where both of my grandparents lived, and where, I later realized, my family on both sides had been solidly rooted since the mid-eighteen hundreds. Despite this, the close-knit community my parents chose was foreign to me. I often felt like an outsider because I wasn't born there, none of my ancestors lived there, and, unlike many of my classmates, I didn't go to school with my cousins.
That said, it was a really beautiful place to grow up, tucked between the Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake. We had a lot of freedom to roam the neighborhood, which had so many interesting places to explore. Mountain streams tumbled through steep gullies, which we would wade through in the hot summer months, and sled down on sunny, snowy, winter days. When we were old enough, we extended our range further down the hill, riding our bikes to the town cemetery.
The cemetery was essentially a city park for our community. It wasn't a creepy place that we avoided - quite the contrary! People would routinely go for walks, ride their bikes, walk their dogs, or even picnic there. The shade and cool, green grass were welcoming in the dry desert heat. I loved to wander around the stones, reading the names and inscriptions, and thinking about the people who had come before us. My favorite gravestones were the little sandstone lambs which were placed for babies and children - they were heartbreakingly sweet. I came to recognize the surnames of my classmates (e.g. Adams, Barnes, Blood, Egbert, and Layton), and discern older pioneer gravestones from more modern markers.
In my teen years, I discovered that the cemetery was also a night-time hot spot in the summer. Apparently it was a tradition for teenage boys to have bottle rocket wars there. They would shoot these illegal fireworks at each other from behind the gravestones, using them as shields when the other side returned fire. This fascinated and frightened me in equal measure.
My parents eventually moved away from their home near the cemetery, but I still like to drive by whenever I happen to be in town. One visit was particularly meaningful. In the course of researching my husband's family (he grew up far away from me), I learned that several of his ancestors were buried in that very cemetery. We were able to locate their graves and share the story of this family with our children. The place where I'd grown up walking my dog and riding my bike, actually held the remains of and tributes to the ancestors of my future husband and children. My family had belonged there all along, I just hadn't known it until then.
Let me start off with a warning for this one: the following newspaper articles describe a tragic death in graphic detail - please proceed at your own discretion.
The Tuesday, August 17th, 1920, editions of Wasatch Front newspapers, such as the Salt Lake Telegram and the Ogden Standard Examiner, predicted the possibility of rain showers later that day. The high temperature was 95 degrees, and from personal experience, I'm guessing it was unusually humid. Although it does not rain often in the desert climate of Utah, the region is known for monsoon weather in July and August. Powerful storms can sweep in quickly, with wind, lightning, and torrents of rain, which is exactly what would happen later that day. These predictions seem mild in comparison to what actually occurred.
Vernon Ronald Mitchell was the eldest brother of my grandmother, Lila Mitchell Ogilvie. I wrote about this family for Week 5: In the Census, although 1930 was ten years after Vernon's death. My grandma often spoke about the loss of her brother, and how devastated the family was about his tragic death. She was only three years old when he died (she was accidentally named "Laura" in the Salt Lake Telegram article), but she, and I imagine her entire family, carried his memory for many, many decades.
I was able to pinpoint the location of Vernon's death: Orange Street, between 200 and 300 South, just West of Redwood Road in Salt Lake City. It was a little over one mile from the Mitchell home on Iola Avenue. In the 1920 census there were four homes between 200 and 300 South: (204) Alexander Winter's family, (246) Ludwig Pollei's family, (260) Fredrick Rombach's family [all from Germany], and (280) George Spliethof, from Holland. That block of Orange Street, part of the Lake Breeze subdivision, barely escaped destruction by a large freeway interchange, and is now an industrial area. The irrigation ditch is gone, and there are no trees to speak of. There is no hint of this tragic event - no memory of small houses, immigrant families, summer storms, or enterprising young paperboys.
By the way, I scrolled to the front page of the Ogden Standard Examiner from the day the article was posted about his death, and was surprised to find this historic headline. A good reminder that you just never know what you might happen upon in your research:
1. "Weather," Salt Lake Telegram (Utah), Tuesday, 17 August 1920, page 1, banner; online database with images, Utah Digital Newspapers (https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu : accessed 18 April 2018).
2. "Weather," Ogden Standard Examiner (Utah), Tuesday, 17 August 1920, page 1, banner; online database with images, Utah Digital Newspapers (https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu : accessed 18 April 2018).
3. "Telegram Boy Killed by Lightning," Salt Lake Telegram (Utah), Wednesday, 18 August 1920, page 9; online database with images, Utah Digital Newspapers (https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu : accessed 18 April 2018).
4. "Lightning Kills Newspaper Boy," Ogden Standard-Examiner (Utah), Wednesday, 18 August 1920, page 3; online database with images, Utah Digital Newspapers (https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu : accessed 18 April 2018).
5. "Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates, 1904-1961," database with images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 April 2018), entry for Vernon Ronald Mitchell, 17 August 1920, Salt Lake County; citing "Death Certificates, 1904-1961," Series Number 81448, Utah State Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.
6. 1920 U.S. census, Salt Lake County, Utah, population schedule, Salt Lake City (Precinct 40), ED 119, sheets 18A and 19B (penned), [dwellings/families not enumerated]; imaged at Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 April 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 1866.
I don't have any unmarried aunts to speak of... I do have two distant "aunts" to whom I owe an enormous genealogical debt: Jetta Stewart Brunson and Electa Skeen Johnson - who were both childless, but married. So I had to dig a little deeper for this topic, and ended up over on my husband's line. His grandmother was from Madison County, Iowa. I dearly loved her, and continue to have a great affinity for her family history. I often think of the characters from "The Music Man" ("Would you like to give Iowa a try?"), when I study her family - their ages and migration patterns seem to perfectly fit several of our national commonplaces (and mid-20th century musicals). And WOW - after taking another look at her Wynkoop line, I will see your "maiden aunt" and raise her by two - PLUS a bachelor uncle! Read on...
The Wynkoop sisters in Madison County, Iowa, circa 1910. We don't know exactly who is who, but are certain that they are not standing in birth order. Their names, youngest to oldest, were: Blanche, Pearl, Grace, Louie, Virgie, Aileen, and Anna. I suspect that they are in this order, except that Anna and Louie have swapped places - this would put Anna in the middle and Louie on the far right. This could have been taken in 1913, after Blanche and Anna were married - which would explain their identical white dresses.
My children's fourth great-grandparents, Simeon and Mary Josephine Armstrong Wynkoop, had eleven children - eight girls (one died as an infant), and three boys. Of their seven adult daughters, three never married: Aileen (2nd child), Louie Ethel (7th child), and Olive Grace (8th child). Additionally, their eldest son/3rd child, William Garrett never married. He farmed the family's land, and apparently lived in his mother's household (along with sisters Aileen and Louie), his entire life.
Simeon, a veteran of the Civil War, died in 1899, when the youngest child was just eight years old. The family stayed close together. One year later, in the 1900 census, Mary J. Wynkoop's household contained all ten children, including the eldest, Anna Laura, aged 31. Anna was a dressmaker, and narrowly missed being counted with the other "maiden aunts." A 1913 marriage record indicates that she and her youngest sister, Zella Blanche, were married on the same day - February 26th. Anna, at the age of 45, was married to John C. Cook, and Blanche, at the age of 22, to Marion W. Wright.
I'm sure you are now very curious to learn more about our three unmarried sisters! I've been fortunate to have access to digital archives of the Earlham Echo - their local newspaper - and have learned so much about the Wynkoops and other local families by reading obituaries and other tidbits in this paper. Just as you might have expected for unmarried women in this time and place, two of the three sisters: Aileen and Grace - were both schoolteachers.
Aileen lived to the age of 83. From her obituary:
"Allie's life has been one of service. She spent more than fifty years teaching in public schools. From her girlhood days she has taught Sunday School classes... she loved teaching, whether day school or Sunday. She was always busy, either with reading or some type of hand work."
Grace lived to the age of 76. From her obituary:
"She attended the public schools of Madison county, graduating from the Earlham Academy in 1905. She attended Simpson College and Drake University where she received her degree. She taught school in Marne and Boone, then in the Des Moines Public Schools for 41 years... Her Sunday School and church work were an important part of her life... Her life was one of service. Everyone shared in her thoughtfulness, her family and her friends."
Finally, we have Louie. She died the day after her eightieth birthday, in 1961. Unfortunately, that year is not represented in the digital archives of the Earlham Echo. I did locate earlier news articles about celebrations of her birthday, in 1959, and 1960 - they were quite the family gatherings!
From her 79th birthday, in March 1960:
"Snowy Birthday Party for Louie Wynkoop:
I found Louie in census records from 1900-1930. (Curiously, I have not yet located Mary J. Wynkoop or her children, Aileen, William Garrett, or Louie in the 1940 census - still searching!) Louie was a student in 1900, and could read/write, but her occupation was "none" in 1910, 1920, and 1930. She was living with siblings in 1910 and 1920, and back in her mother's home by 1930 (with siblings). Other than that, she remains a mystery to me. I'm looking forward to learning more about Louie's story through future research.
I appreciated the chance to learn more about the Wynkoop family this week, and particularly the unmarried sisters: Aileen, Louie and Grace. It is so easy to overlook the lives of people who have not produced descendants to remember them in family histories, but their lives were often rich and full of service to society. Aileen and Grace both had a great impact on the lives of hundreds of children through their work as teachers, and also played an important role with their many family members and surrounding community. In addition, it is easy to see from newspaper reports that Louie was also loved and celebrated by her family and neighbors. I'm happy to be able to share their stories here.
*Information gathered about the children of Simeon and Mary J. Armstrong Wynkoop from the Earlham Echo and sources specified below:
1. Anna Laura Wynkoop (b. 1868) (dressmaker) - married John C. Cook, 24 Feb. 1913
2. Aileen Wynkoop (b. 1870) (unmarried, schoolteacher)
3. William Garrett "Garry" Wynkoop (b. 1872) (unmarried, farmer)
4. Clyde Amendal Wynkoop (b. 1874) - married Orilla S. Feitz, 25 Feb. 1903
5. Virginia "Virgie" May Wynkoop (b. 1876) - married Hayse H. Hamilton, 16 Sep 1903
6. Zenis Alva Wynkoop (b. 1878) - married Minnie E. McComb
7. Louie Ethel Wynkoop (b. 1881) (unmarried)
8. Olive Grace Wynkoop (b. 1883) (unmarried, schoolteacher)
9. Cleo Pearl Wynkoop (b. 1886) - married C. Leroy Price
10. Infant daughter (born/died ca. 1889)
11. Zella Blanche Wynkoop (b. 1891) - married Marion W. Wright, 24 Feb. 1913
1. Photo of the Wynkoop Sisters, circa 1910, digital image, shared with the author by James Nugent.
2. "Mary J Wynkoop Died at Age of 92," Earlham Echo (Iowa), Thursday, 23 October 1941, page 1, column 2; database with images, "Digital Archives of the Earlham Echo," Community History Archive (http://earlham.advantage-preservation.com : accessed 8 April 2018).
3. 1930 U.S. census, Madison County, Iowa, population schedule, Earlham, ED 13, sheet 4-A, dwelling 90, family 94, for Mary J Wynkoop, Aileen Wynkoop, William G Wynkoop, and Louie E Wynkoop; database with images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 April 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), microfilm publication T626, roll 666.
4. Madison County, Iowa, Probate Case Files, 1851-1918, Case 1398-1413 (1899), for Simeon Wynkoop, case 1413, filing date 2 August 1899, petition papers; database online, "Iowa, Wills and Probate Records, 1758-1997," Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 April 2018).
5. 1900 U.S. census, Madison County, Iowa, population schedule, Madison Township, enumeration district (ED) 29, sheet 13A (penned), dwelling 267, family 276, for Mary J Wynkoop (incorrectly indexed as "Wyncoop") family; database with images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 April 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), microfilm publication T623, roll 445.
6. "Iowa, Marriage Records, 1880-1940," volume 449 (Emmet-Muscatine), Madison County, Marriage Returns for Fiscal Year Ending 30 June 1913, page 61-1C57 (stamped), License 432 for Marion W Wright and Zella B Wynkoop, and License 533 for John C Cook and Anna L Wynkoop; database with images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 April 2018); citing Iowa State Archives, Des Moines, Iowa.
7. "Obituary: Aileen Wynkoop," Earlham Echo (Iowa), Thursday, 29 April 1954, page 1, column 3; database with images, "Digital Archives of the Earlham Echo," Community History Archive, Advantage Preservation (http://earlham.advantage-preservation.com : accessed 8 April 2018).
8. "Obituary: Olive Grace Wynkoop," Earlham Echo (Iowa), Thursday, 30 June 1960, page 1, column 5; database with images, "Digital Archives of the Earlham Echo," Community History Archive, Advantage Preservation (http://earlham.advantage-preservation.com : accessed 8 April 2018).
9. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 8 April 2018), memorial page for Louie Wynkoop (16 Mar 1881–17 Mar 1961), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8122317, citing Fairview Cemetery, Madison County, Iowa; photo credit William Johnson.
10. "Snowy Birthday Party for Louie Wynkoop," Earlham Echo (Iowa), Thursday, 24 March 1960, page 1, column 4; database with images, "Digital Archives of the Earlham Echo," Community History Archive (http://earlham.advantage-preservation.com : accessed 8 April 2018).
11. 1910 U.S. census, Tripp County, South Dakota, population schedule, White River, ED 113, sheet 1-B (penned), dwelling 24, family 24, for Louie Wynkoop; database with images, Ancestry
(www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 April 2018); citing NARA, microfilm publication T624, roll 1487.
12. 1920 U.S. census, Polk County, Iowa, population schedule, Des Moines City Ward 2 (6th Precinct), ED 109, sheet 13A (penned), dwelling 286, family 289, for Louise Wynkoop (incorrectly indexed as "Wynekoop"); database with images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 April 2018); citing NARA, microfilm publication T625, roll 508.
13. 1930 U.S. census, Madison Co., Iowa, Earlham, ED 13, sheet 4-A (penned), dwell. 90, fam. 94, Louie E Wynkoop.
Ah, the old homestead... Like many from "out West," my people have been on the move almost continuously from one generation to the next, on all sides. We keep track of where we have been by where the babies were born. If we do have a "home place," it has only been for 2-3 generations, at most, like the summer cabin my mother's grandfather built (but we no longer own). Wouldn't it be wonderful to have that mythical farm to return to, which has been in the family for hundreds of years? I'm sure it happens for some people, but not mine.
So what's up with these photos, then? Well, there is a place in Utah where my husband's mother's family still gathers (I'm not revealing details to protect their privacy). It is the place where their first immigrant ancestors settled in 1868, and somehow there is still a family member who lives there. We had the opportunity to visit with my mother-in-law, and my husband's brother's family, back in October 2013, and that is where and when I took the above photos. While this was the family's second "home" since their first arrival - the first being just down the road - it was the place that my mother-in-law remembers gathering with her cousins and extended family. It really is a magical place. Our kids, and their cousins, had a great time jumping on the trampoline, and discovering one of my favorite Utah rivers. What a treasure for this family!
A few more thoughts on the topic of family and land... Since I had the chance to go through Salathiel Stanley's Homestead records, I've been hungry to find more. I was fortunate that his documents were part of a collection on Ancestry. I've since found another ancestor on that side who successfully received land through the Homestead Act, but, unfortunately, since his land was in Missouri, not Nebraska, his records are only available through the National Archives. Maybe a trip to Washington, D.C. for our next Spring Break is in order?
I just returned from this year's Spring Break (that's why I'm a little behind on posting), where I was searching for another type of homestead - this time for a Loyalist land grant in Ontario, Canada. I still haven't located the exact site (I'm so close - looking forward to sharing more soon!), but we did drive around the vicinity to get a feel for it. (We also popped into the Lexington & Addington County Museum & Archives, which I highly recommend!) I love visiting places where I know my ancestors once lived - where they worked, where they walked. It gives me so much more perspective on what they experienced, and what they left behind in their continuous search for just the right spot.
I think, in the case of both of my Loyalist ancestors, John Ogilvie and James Lake, they were given land in Nova Scotia and Ontario, on thin soil, in cold, wet conditions, as compensation for the rich farmland they left behind in Georgia and New York. Although in both cases, where they landed was beautiful, wild countryside, after visiting I understand why their children heeded the call to move West (and South), for warmer conditions and better land.