Long-sought resolution for Robert Van Hoesen


Now I feel the pressure to make sure that this lives up to my "major genealogical find" statement on Facebook.  It may seem small to some, and so background information is necessary to understand why this was such a great find for me.

I began my genealogical adventures in 2000. The surname I chose to begin with was Van Hoesen figuring that it was unusual enough that I wouldn't feel like I was looking for a needle in a haystack. Although I have to say now I would realize that all the possible spelling permutations can make the family difficult to find in census records. My maternal grandfather was Hugh Edgar Van Hoesen, born 1910 in Thayer, Oregon County, Missouri. I knew his father was Robert Lucky Van Hoesen and his grandfather was Albertus Van Hoesen. Most of the information came from Robert Lucky Van Hoesen's death record, so the names of his parents were given as well as his own place of birth -- Clarksville, Iowa.

I was very quickly able to move backwards in the censuses despite the possibilities for unusual spellings to 1850 in Cortland County, New York.  Only the 1860 census was not to be found. I found that Albertus Van Hoesen's father was Robert C. Van Hoesen.  Doing Internet searches on the Van Hoesen family turns up several genealogies which consistently place this Robert C. Van Hoesen of the right place, age, and time into the well-known Van Hoesen family which came to New Amsterdam in 1639 (this may be off by a year or two). However, he is a "dead-end" on all of those family trees with no children or death listed.

So the line looks like this:

Robert C. Van Hoesen, b. 1821 in Preble, Cortland County, New York; married to Electa Wells

Albertus L. Van Hoesen, b. 1847 in Pennsylvania; married to Carrie Burton; d. 1910 in El Reno, Canadian County, Oklahoma.

Robert L. Van Hoesen, b. 1879 in Clarksville, Butler County, Iowa, married to Dulcie Green; d. 1949 in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee.

I have also visited the graves of the three generations before Robert C. Van Hoesen in Preble, New York.

Parts of these three generations had moved from Preble, New York to Huntley, McHenry County, Illinois, to Butler County, Iowa to Willow Springs, Howell County, Missouri.

However, I had been unable to determine where Robert C. Van Hoesen had died. He appears in no cemetery records, probate records, or deeds indicating death in Butler County, Iowa. The last known piece of information I had on him is the Iowa state census in 1895 when he resides in Clarksville, Iowa.

Then about a year ago, I started looking at newspapers for Clarksville, Iowa. I obtained the microfilm through interlibrary loan from the State Historical Society of Iowa.  It was a treasure trove for me and I found hundreds of newspaper items on the Van Hoesen and Burton families.


This item from the 28 May 1896 edition of the Clarksville Star indicated that Robert C. Van Hoesen had moved to Willow Springs, Howell County, Missouri.  W.B. (Byron Wells, but he usually went by "Wells") is Albertus's younger brother who also lived for a time in Clarksville although he has been particularly elusive on censuses.


cs1896july9The Albertus Van Hoesen family followed shortly thereafter as indicated by this 9 July 1896 article.


Every issue of the Clarksville Star beginning in 1873 has been microfilmed except for those from the entire year of 1897. Albertus's father-in-law Hugh F. L. Burton died in the year 1897.  Since his mother-in-law only twice, I think, appeared in the paper, I figured there was not much reason for me to continue to peruse the papers into 1898. I sent the microfilm back.




In the meantime, the Albertus L. Van Hoesen family shows up in the Willow Springs, Howell County, Missouri census in 1900.  I discovered that Albertus's wife Carrie had died when I found the record of his second marriage!  I eventually got the details on Carrie's death as I wrote here and subsequently found more information related to Carrie's death in Carrie's mother's widow's pension application.  Through Albertus's pension file, I found the details of his location at death and subsequently found him in a cemetery listing for El Reno.  For these three generations I had all birth, marriage, and death information except for the death information for Robert C. Van Hoesen.  He did not appear in the 1900 census in Willow Springs. He did not appear in tax lists, probate files, or deeds in Howell County, Missouri.  He did not appear in any cemetery listing just as his daughter-in-law Carrie had not (even though, at least in her case, she was indeed in a cemetery which had been read and should have been there).There was absolutely nothing to indicate that he had ever stepped foot in Willow Springs except the note of his leave taking in Clarksville.

So I wondered. Perhaps Robert never made it all the way to Willow Springs. Perhaps he died enroute.

Then it occurred to me. If he did die enroute or otherwise, perhaps the family had written back to Clarskville and sent the news.  Of course with that missing year of 1897, there was the great possibility that it could have been that year and nothing would be found.  I re-ordered the microfilm, and this is what I found yesterday in the 26 January 1898 edition:




You can click on the image to see the larger version. However, this is a letter that "Bert" Van Hoesen wrote back to the folks in Butler County, Iowa,  to let them know how he was doing.  Even though it's a wonderful find on its own merits of general information, specifically it contains the following :



So now I know: Albertus's father Robert Cravath Van Hoesen died in Willow Springs, Missouri, probably in 1897,  and is buried in the Willow Springs City Cemetery where his daughter-in-law is buried. It sounds like he must have bought enough "room" for three which would indicate that Robert's grave must be next to Carrie's.  I believe I looked at the tombstones around Carrie's at the time I was there, so it is probable that there is no headstone, although maybe it's a hard-to-read headstone.

Finally a resolution to this man's life.


Reading a book three times

Reading a book for the third time seems to have a magical effect on me.  This year (for our homeschooling), I have read three or four books which I am reading for the third time.  I have gotten so much more out of two of those books than I did before that it has given me pause to consider just why that might be.  The two books that have struck me this way are the Iliad by Homer and Arguing About Slavery by William Lee Miller.  Both of these books are very detailed-- so detailed the the first reading requires mental effort to be expended just keeping characters and action straight.  The second time through, those things were familiar, so I caught on quicker (and it may be that I'm just slower than others).  BUT the third time, I have been able to appreciate the subtler aspects of those works.  In the Iliad, I was able to notice and pay (more) attention to the vividness created through the metaphors and similes.  Now I think I understand why people who know appreciate the Iliad more than the Odyssey.  The Odyssey is a rolicking story capturing the attention through the action.  Full-bodied language is more evident in the Iliad and creates memorable images.

Arguing About Slavery is different.  It takes careful reading to keep people and events straight.  Because the mental processes are so occupied, some of the subtler nuances can easily be missed.  John Quincy Adams is the hero of this book.  What  a man. I admire his father and I admire the son.  (Read John Adams by David McCullough--his name makes me wonder if he is related to the McCulloughs that were in Franklin County, Pennsylvania in the last half of the 18th century).  JQA was a very clever man or "crafty" like Odysseus which was perceived as a good thing--modern connotations not withstanding.

What I had missed in previous readings was the humor of the book and the cleverness and patience of JQA.  This book would make a fabulous movie. It could be a movie at least as good as the Amistad and Wilberforce. Just as we saw the adherance to principle by the principal parties (yes, I did that on purpose) in those movies, we see it in Arguing About Slavery.  We see conflict as the southerners do all they can to "gag" any petititons made to Congress. We see eloquent use of language by JQA.  Not the least we see the many raging parties of opposition, not only for and against slavery, but also between those who saw different ways of ending slavery. Even though I got the gist of what was going on before, I felt as if I were there in this reading.  I wanted to cheer as the intelligent JQA outwitted the southerners who would otherwise silence him.

The book begins with the 24th Congress which met for the first time in December 1836.  During that time, petitions to the House requesting an end to slavery in Washington, D.C. escalated.  All, northerners and southerners alike, understood that constitutionally slavery could not be ended in the existing states.  However, now, the southerners were so fearful of losing their majority in the legislature (which they had because of the overbalancing effect of the 3/5 clause counting slaves as part human/part property), that they began each Congress with a "gag rule" to prohibit any introduction of petitions requesting an end to slavery.  JQA, the former president of the United States who did not believe it to be demeaning to step "down" to the lowly role of a congressman if he could serve his country, led the fight sagaciously and cleverly against those who would diminish civil rights by prohibiting petitioning government.

Get the book.

Birth Record Success


Last night, as part of Randy's Saturday Night Fun, I told about searching for the birth record of my ancestor Chloe Foster. I found through other Wells family researchers that she had married in Leyden, Massachusetts, and a town history includes the genealogy of her father's family. There are three rolls of microfilm of town records for Leyden that are appropriate for the time period: one is specifically titled "Vital Records," and one is "Town Records" with a notation that vital records included, and the third is also general town records but specifically states in the Family History Library catalog that it does NOT contain vital records. So I ordered the first two films and viewed them both very carefully. I did find the marriage of Chloe Foster to her first husband recorded (I'm descended from her second husband). And I did find the recording of her parents' deaths, but I did not find any birth records for the family. I might have assumed that there was non-compliance going on if it weren't for the widow's pension application that Chloe's mother, also Chloe, filed  in 1838.  She had to establish proof of her marriage to Ezekiel Foster, a Revolutionary War soldier, in order to obtain benefits. One deponent for her application was the town clerk of Leyden. He stated that he was unable to find a marriage record for Ezekiel and Chloe, but that he does have on record the births of their children, the first being Urania who was born in 1778.

So I knew that the birth records for this family did at least exist at one time.  I ordered the third volume of town records -- the one that the Family History Library catalog says has no vital records. It arrived last week and I went in this evening to view it. And hallelujah!  The birth record for Chloe and all her siblings is there. Just below their family's record you can see the births of the children of Chloe's brother Ezra. (click on the thumbnail image.)

FHC Saturday Night Fun


Randy's assignment for Saturday Night Fun!

I've just recently done this with no prompting from Randy, so I'll tell what my next roll of film is to be after I've completed the assignment for another ancestor.

Here is the "assignment" for tonight's SNGF:

1. Identify one "elusive ancestor" family (perhaps one you just found, or one you've not found any information about), and the county/state that they resided in. Tell us the family name and the county/state.

Rebecca Dark. I "discovered" her on a recent research trip to Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. Her obituary gave her maiden name as Dark and told that she was born in 1815 and married David Baughman both events occurring in Snyder County, Pennsylvania. However, Snyder was not formed from Union until 1855. Union was formed from Northumberland in 1813.

OK, scrap that person (see #2). I'll go to a library or the county to see what I can find.

When I was at the Salt Lake Institute in January, I discovered a new set of parents through the death record of Electa Van Hoesen who died in 1889 in Rock County, Minnesota. Her parents were John and Chloe Wells. I have already pursued Chloe's line because she was previously married and another researcher of the Wells family had information on  her maiden name and location of marriage. I was able to locate what I believed to be the right family in the 1800 census of Leyden, Hampshire County, Massachusetts. I ordered the microfilm containing the town's vital records and did indeed verify the marriage record of Chloe Foster to her first husband Andrew Kately. Surrogate court records for Cortland County, New York showed the connection between Chloe Cately/Kately to John Wells, her second husband.

I had ordered two films which contained vital records from Leyden, but I was unable to find any birth records for Chloe herself. A town history states that she is the daughter of Ezekiel Foster.  I just chalked it up to uneven reporting practices when I found the Revolutionary War widow's pension file for Ezekiel's wife -- also named Chloe.  The town clerk of Leyden helping to verify the marriage of Ezekiel and Chloe deposed that the town records showed the birth of Urania in 1778, their first-born child. He also implied that other births are to be found and he is only naming the oldest.  So I know that at least at one time the birth record for their children did exist -- at least in 1838 it did. There is one more microfilm of town records although it says it does NOT contain vital records, so I have ordered that. It has arrived and I will be going in tomorrow evening to look at it.

2. Go to the FHL Catalog, find the resources for that county/state.

Normally my first tack to take would be to look for probate and land records for the Dark and Baughman surnames. However, it does not appear that the deed books have been filmed.  And certainly not much has been filmed for probate records. No government records at all. 

3. Identify at least three items from the FHL Catalog that you need to look into in an effort to further your knowledge about that family's history. Tell us about them.

I'm going to count the three rolls of town records I have ordered. There aren't any land records on microfilm listed, otherwise that's probably what I would look at next. It may be some other jurisdiction than the town level that handles land records. New England research is new to me.

4. Do you know where your nearest Family History Center is? If not, go here and look for it. Tell us where it is.

It is on Cox Road in Springfield, Missouri.

5. Are you willing to make a commitment to go to the FHC and rent microfilms in order to pursue that elusive ancestral family? If so, tell us about your commitment.

Yes, I do and I continue to do so.


Randy's Saturday Night Fun

Randy at Genea-musings has posted his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun idea:

The challenge is this:

Provide a list of your paternal grandmother's patrilineal line. Answer these questions:

* What was your father's mother's maiden name?

* What was your father's mother's father's name?

* What is your father's mother's father's patrilineal line? That is, his father's father's father's ... back to the most distant male ancestor in that line?

* Can you identify male sibling(s) of your father's mother, and any living male descendants from those male sibling(s)? If so, you have a candidate to do a Y-DNA test on that patrilineal line. If not, you may have to find male siblings, and their descendants, of the next generation back, or even further.


My father's mother was Edith Louise Olson, b. 1911 in Titusville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania; d. 1981 in Redding, Shasta County, California. She had only one brother who had no children.

Her father was Frederick Olson, b. 1882 in Dahoga, Elk County, Pennsylvania; d. 1966 in Sunnyvale, Santa Clara County, California. He did have one brother who had sons.

Fred's parents were my most recent immigrant ancestors. Most of my ancestors were here from colonial times.  Johann Erik Olsson; born 1839 in Nysunds Parish Varmland, Sweden, arrived in the US with his wife Louisa in 1871.  I do not know if any of his siblings came with him (for males as a source for y-dna testing). Swedish parish records are wonderful, but a lot of the names are very much alike because of using the patronymic naming system.  Of course they didn't continue the practice here at that late of date, but most of the names are just variations on what seem to be a limited number of first names. Because of that,  the fact that there was a man of the same last name who submitted his declaration of intent at the same time as John may not mean anything. In the Swedish parish records Johan does have a brother named Anders which, if I recall correctly, is the name of his fellow applicant for the declaration of intent (and oath of allegiance, too, I think--both made me think there was a strong connection). This little exercise forced me to check that fact that I hadn't before.

John Erik Olson's father was Olaf Persson, b. 1794 in Karlskoga, Orebro lan, Sweden. (I have not learned how to do all the proper symbols for Swedish spellings.)

Olaf Persson's father was Peter Jansson, born in 1751 (no location in the last parish record I consulted for this line).

Both of these last two did have other male children. It would be interesting to track those lines forward to see if I have a resident Swedish cousin. Parish records are so great for Sweden (see Genline), that it seems to make y-DNA testing less important.

The other thing I thought interesting about this exercise is that my ancestor in each family was born to a father that was older than average. Fred was 29 (not so old, but my grandmother was the oldest child); John was 43 when Fred was born; Olaf was 45 when John was born; and Peter was 43 when Olaf was born.