Sunday, December 28, 2014

Charles' Last Chapter

When I found my third great-grandfather's death record, I expected it to close the book on his story.  I never thought it would be the gateway to an entire last chapter of his life.

In looking for the death record, I searched British Columbia records.  I know I did.  Why I didn't come across this when I originally looked, I don't know.  I suspect what happened is that, at the time, I still hadn't given up my belief that he had died in Michigan.  So, anything less than an exact match anywhere else, was likely disregarded by me.

In any case, Charles Wood died in Burnaby on 9 April 1918.



Everything on the record either matches or logically meshes with what I already have on Charles.  Everything except one thing: Charles' mother is listed as Jane Galagher.  Jane's maiden name is always listed as Montgomery on every other record I have for the Wood children, except one.  That one being Jane's daughter's (Charles' sister who also lived in British Columbia) death record.  That record also lists her maiden name as Gal(l)agher.  In any case, the Gallagher/Montgomery mystery is something to explore.

The informant on Charles' death record was his wife.  His new, third wife, who was completely unknown to me before this record.  "Mrs. L. Wood" was formerly Letitia Lowes from Emily, Victoria, Ontario.  Letitia married Joseph Mills and they had several children.  By 1891, the family had left Emily and were living in Broadview in what is now Saskatchewan.  In 1901, Letitia is widowed and living with her married daughter in Winnipeg.  In 1906, Letitia is back in Saskatchewan, Moosomin, with two of her children.

Marriage Notice from The Winnipeg Tribune
22 March, 1911, page 5
Letitia went back to Winnipeg when she married Charles Stewart Wood there on 17 March 1911.  Apparently the man who married them was a famous author and Church leader.  A C. S. Wood had arrived in Emerson, Manitoba from Michigan the day before.  I'm inclined to believe this is Charles, but there aren't enough details to know for sure.

They left Winnipeg very soon after the marriage and they were enumerated in British Columbia on June 7 or 8, 1911.  They would move again, but not far, and Charles eventually retired from farming.  Charles was a Mason and was buried in the Masonic section of Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.  I wonder if any of his children back in Michigan made it to his funeral...

Funeral Notice from the Vancouver Daily World,
11 April, 1918, page 12

Letitia was still at their Imperial St. home in 1921 where she was living with her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter.  She died in Vancouver in 1944.

In my mind, I had created a picture of Charles quietly spending his last days in rural Michigan, where he had lived more than a quarter of a century.  However, in hindsight, Charles' early life might be a clue as to his apparent lifelong restlessness.  After leaving Ireland for Ontario as a youth, he continually moved between Canada and Michigan before finally putting down roots in Isabella Co. in the mid-1880s, that is until 1911.

Something else I've noticed is I don't think Charles enjoyed being unmarried.  He waited less than a year between the death of his first wife and his marriage to his second.  He waited even less time between the death of the second and his marriage to the third five months later.  I do wonder how he and his last two wives met.  Neither appear to have any pre-existing familial, religious or geographic connection to Charles.

If there is one ancestor I never get tired of researching, it is Charles.  He turns left when I expect him to turn right, and has a track record of making bold choices.  I've reached a point where nothing concerning Charles would surprise me.  For all I know, there could be an entirely new chapter of Charles' life out there waiting for me to find.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Still Henrich

I was excited to recently learn from this post that Stark Co., Ohio land records are online and freely available.  I was quickly able to find my third great-grandfather, Henry Michael Berger and some other possible relations.

The Bergers followed the German tradition of going by their middle names, though Michael never fully dropped his first name, which was originally Henrich.  When the family arrived in the US in 1832, they all also Americanized their names.  I never thought much more about it until I saw Michael's signature when he sold his land in 1838:

Although the quality isn't great, it is pretty clear that Michael didn't alter his signature from Henrich to Henry - and he signed it in German script no less!  Michael was nearly forty when he arrived here, so it makes sense that he wouldn't update his signature.  I do wonder, though, if it changed much in the nearly forty years that he did live in the US.

This record also answers a question I had about Michael's wife, Fredericka.  In the 1860 US Census, she is marked as being unable to read or write.  I've wondered how illiterate she really was (Did it just extend to the English language?  Could she read and write German?  Could she sign her name?) and her mark here appears to clear that up.