Saturday, January 19, 2019

Week 3: Unusual Name

     The topic this week for 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks is "Unusual Name". Well, gosh there are so many Unusual names out there, but most of my ancestors didn't have unusual first names. Oh I've got a full collection of interesting Surnames, but not first names. Just a sample of Surnames we have in our tree include Fuchs, Rickards, Strawhun, Buer, Spitz, Hilke, Mrazek, and that's just a few. So instead of trying to search my entire tree for an Unusual first name, I've decided to talk about one of the Unusual Surnames I have in my tree. One that has given me lots of trouble. One that when I first heard it I went, "What?". I am going to talk about the Surname, ILG.
     I know I just heard you say, "What?". I-L-G. When I write it or type it, I purposely capitalize the whole surname so it's clear since uppercase I and lowercase L look similar. The name is pronounced with the short 'i' sound as in igloo. To hear a pronunciation of the name, Click here ---> Surname Pronunciation. Do you know how unusual this name is in the United States? According to that website with the pronunciation, the likeliness of running into someone with that last name, chances are, most people haven't met someone with Ilg as their last name since less than 1 person in 417k people have that last name. If you know one, consider yourself lucky!
     While my last name is not ILG, I am related through my Grandma. That was her maiden name. Ruth Mary ILG. She is the daughter of Joseph Melchoir ILG and Margaret May Edna Buer. Joseph was born in St. Louis, Missouri along with his brothers and sisters. His parents immigrated from Germany and were married in St. Louis. His parents were Franz (Frank) Jakob ILG and Pauline Kimmerle. Thanks to a family datebook that had been passed down from Pauline, I was able to find where in Germany both sides of the family came from. This is my most treasured possession.

     With this information, and with a little help from some German Genealogy Facebook groups and a lady in Germany who had done some research, I have been able to trace the family back into the early 1700s in Wuerttemberg, Germany. It was tricky trying to find information on the origin of the ILG surname. Doing my research I learned a little more about how Germans came up with their Surnames. Here is some basic information on German Surnames:
Origins of German Last Names

German surnames developed from four major sources:
Patronymic & Matronymic Surnames - Based on a parent’s first name, this category of surnames isn't as common in Germany as in many other European countries. Patronymic surnames are found primarily in the Northwestern areas of Germany, although they may be encountered in other areas of Germany. (Niklas Albrecht -- Niklas son of Albrecht).

Occupational Surnames - More commonly found in German families than almost any other culture, these last names are based on the person’s job or trade (Lukas Fischer -- Lukas the Fisherman). Three suffixes which often indicate a German occupational name are: -er (one who), commonly found in names such as Fischer, one who fishes; -hauer (hewer or cutter), used in names such as Baumhauer, tree chopper; and -macher (one who makes), found in names like Schumacher, one who makes shoes.

Descriptive Surnames - Based on a unique quality or physical feature of the individual, these surnames often developed from nicknames or pet names (Karl Braun -- Karl with brown hair).

Geographical Surnames - Derived from the location of the homestead from which the first bearer and his family lived (Leon Meer -- Leon from by the sea). Other geographical surnames in Germany are derived from the state, region, or village of the first bearer's origin, often reflecting a division in tribes and regions, i.e. low German, middle German and upper German. (Paul Cullen -- Paul from Koeln/Cologne). Surnames preceded by "on" are often clues to geographical surnames, not necessarily a sign that an ancestor was of nobility as many mistakenly believe. (Jacob von Bremen -- Jacob from Bremen).

A variation on locality names, farm names in Germany are names which came from the family farm. The thing which makes them different from traditional surnames, however, is that when a person moved onto a farm, he would change his name to that of the farm (a name which usually came from the farm's original owner). A man might also change his surname to his wife's maiden name if she inherited a farm. This practice obviously results in a dilemma for genealogists, with such possibilities as children in one family being born under different surnames.

Powell, Kimberly. "What Does Your German Last Name Mean?" ThoughtCo, Dec. 23, 2018,
The following information I got from about the surname ILG:
Origin: From shortened forms of Aegidius (Egidi), z.T. also by Ottilie derived surnames.

The name Ilg occurs a total of 1449 times in 169 counties. There are an estimated 3864 people with this last name. This is above the average for all German surnames. It is now at 2248th place of the most common names.

Most people with the surname Ilg were found in Ostalbkreis; the name appeared 216 times in the phone book. Only a few live in Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis, with 1 telephone book entries. Click here to view a map
As I stated before, this surname has caused me a lot of trouble when it came to researching. When searching for them in the 1930 US Federal Census, I had to go page by page looking for them. They were listed with the surname "Elk". I've seen it spelled Illg, Lg, Iillg, Elg, along with a few other spellings. Surprisingly though, when I finally crossed over into Germany, finding the name became easier. And even though I may still hit snags, I will not give up. The search will continue.


Monday, January 14, 2019

In Memory of James Howard Wheeler (1951-2019)

     It is with great sadness that I write this blog post. My uncle Howard Wheeler passed away on Jan 13, 2019 after a bout with pneumonia. This news hit us out of the blue. Sadly, with the snowpocalypse on us, we were unable to visit him in the hospital before he passed. He leaves behind his wife, my Aunt Nancy. He will be cremated and there will be no memorial service. So this little post is the best I can do right now to memorialize him. 

     James Howard Wheeler was born August 10, 1951 in High Ridge, Missouri. He was the fourth and final child of Leslie & Ruth Wheeler. He was named after his great Uncle James Howard Kelley, 2nd husband of Ruth Buer. Growing up he and his brothers would help their father with the family business, Les Wheeler Used Cars and Towing business. Around 1970, the family moved to Affton, Missouri. He married Nancy Seidel on February 24, 1972 at the First Christian Church in Troy, Missouri. They lived in Maplewood, Missouri for a time, but eventually made their home in Bellefontaine Neighbors; north of St. Louis. They had no children of their own, but loved their nephew and nieces dearly. They did have two dogs that kept them company; Princess and Buffy. For years, he owned his own painting business known as Howard Wheeler Painting Company.
     A few years ago, Uncle Howard was diagnosed with Lung Cancer & he went through a series of chemo treatments. They also removed part of his lung. He fought many illnesses in his last few years, but this last one was too much for his weak body to fight. He will be mourned thoughtfully and missed greatly.

Uncle Howard & Aunt Nancy

Last Family Photo 2013

Uncle Jerry & Uncle Howard

Thanksgiving 2013

We love you Uncle Howard! Until the day we meet again. Breathe easy for the first time in years and give Grandma a hug for us. 

If you would like to leave some virtual flowers for Uncle Howard, click on the following link to go to his memorial on Find a Grave.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Week 2: Challenge

     This week for 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, the topic was "Challenge". Of course the first ancestor that pops up when I think of that word is my 3rd great grandma, Maggie Molten Dennis Helfrich. Everything about researching her life has been a challenge. She is still my brick wall that I may not ever solve. But I am sure going to try. I've written a few posts about her already, so I am going to post the links here for you to read about why she has been a challenge. I'm coming for you Grandma Helfrich!

Margaret Mary Molten
B: 15 June 1860
Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee

D: 31 Jan 1943
Affton, St. Louis, Missouri

Buried: 3 Feb 1943
St. Trinity Cemetery
Affton, St. Louis, Missouri
Blog Posts Relating to Maggie Molten:

The Search is not over....

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Week 1: First

     Here we are six days into the new year already. Trying to get back into the swing of things. Normalcy. Structured. Feeling a little sluggish though. It's always hard when a holiday falls in the middle of the week. So tomorrow is Monday and we all start back full time on our regularly scheduled lives. Homeschooling, work, etc. One thing I am trying to do is making sure I set aside time just for my research. Oh I could do it all day every day, but sadly, life is full of responsibilities. So I've set up some goals to help me get through the year.
     One goal I am doing is 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Originally started by Amy Johnson Crow and has now become a great sensation in the genealogy community. If you would like to read more, click here: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks by Amy Johnson Crow. So here we are, Week 1. Let's get this rolling! For my first ancestor, I am featuring my grandma's first husband, Joseph Valdes.
     Joseph Antonio Valdes (Valdez) was born to Gerardo Valdes and Mercedes Gonzolas on March 7, 1916 in St. Louis, Missouri. He married my grandma on June 7, 1936 at St. Boniface Church in Carondelet, St. Louis, Missouri. They had one child, Gerald Joseph Valdes before they divorced 1942. If there was one good thing that came out of their relationship, it was my Uncle Jerry. Otherwise, there was nothing good that came out of that marriage in my opinion. My grandma told me a few things about him and they were not very good.
     After my grandma divorced him, he married a few months later to a Jane Denoyer. As far as I could tell, there were no children from that union. At some point, before 1952, they were divorced. I have not located a divorce record as of yet. I only know the approximate year because Jane married her second husband in 1952. At some point, after his divorce, he moved to California. Then in 1955, he married for the final time to Flora Sciamanna. They lived out their life in San Francisco together until he died on October 24, 1975. They also appeared to not have any children. He is buried in Rock Springs, Wyoming, where his wife's family lived and is also buried.
     I did this research mainly for my Uncle. He had tried in the past to locate his father from my understanding with no luck. It was only last year that I tracked him down. Thanks to a search on Find a Grave where I located a transcription of his obituary. I have yet to share this information with my Uncle yet, but I hope to this year. So that's Joseph Valdes.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas Special: A Surprise Gift For My Husband

     You'd be surprised what you can find on Ebay. It's not just for random items that people are trying to get rid of. Doing just the right search can lead you to some heirlooms, antiques, vintage items, etc. I've had quite a bit of luck with finding some items related to my family. On my one blog post about White Line Laundry, I talk about a special piece I found related to the Laundry business that was based here in St. Louis. Since then, I've found a few more pieces to add to my collection. I search often on Ebay for anything related to both mine and my husband's family. Since Christmas coming, I looked up something specifically that my husband was looking for, and was surprised to find it was available.
     Let me start with a bit of background information. My husband's 2nd great grandfather was Joseph Henry Rickards. He lived in Liberty, Missouri in the mid-late 1800s. He married his first wife, Eliza Barkley before he went off to war. Amelia Barkley was the sister of Eliza and married a James M Jones. Joseph & Eliza were very close to James & Amelia. They named their first daughter Maggie, after Amelia. Sadly, Eliza passed when Maggie was just a baby, so Amelia took on the motherly role of raising the baby until she also passed when she was just a few years old, from blood poisoning. Joseph married Sarah soon after and their children were also named after James & Amelia. Joseph, Eliza, & Maggie are buried right next to James & Amelia.
     So in the 1800s, James M. Jones owned and operated a distillery in Liberty called A.M. Jones Distillery. Mark was so excited to learn this. Thanks to my friend Chris Harris, an archivist and genealogist that works for the Clay County Archives, he has provided me with some information about the Distillery. I hope to go back to Liberty to do more research about it. I took a picture of Mark in front of the old Distillery before they finished taking it down. I also have a few photos from a book from the Clay County Archives. Chris gave this information on the Liberty Missouri Facebook page:
The property you are referring to is the Jones Distillery. A. M. Jones distilled Whisky there. Murray Road is named after Judge Murray who was a total Temperance guy who hated that his road had a distillery on it. The old cabin on the property is a log cabin. In danger of falling down. Most of the old distillery buildings are gone if not all of them. At one time the property was attached to the Moss property (on Moss Road) which at one time grew grapes and made wine. Murray Road was also at one time before they paved it, a rail spur that led to the old Hanger Plant which in WW I or WW II was used as a coffin factory. Hence the narrowness of the road. They basically covered up the tressell with dirt and paved it. - Chris Harris, I remember when... Liberty Missouri

     A few years ago, I tracked down a whiskey shot glass from the distillery and gave it to my husband. After receiving that, he has been interested in finding actual bottles from the distillery. I've searched for years, but finally came across two of them. So I gave them to him for Christmas. I posted videos on YouTube of my Christmas Special of him opening up his gift. Check them out below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Merry Christmas Mark!!