Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Name on Her Death Certificate is "Will Hall Minnie." Huh?

Among the hundreds of records I received from my family in Kansas a few weeks ago was a death certificate for my great, great grandmother's sister. They were both born in Germany in the mid-1800's and immigrated to the United States in 1869 at the ages of 23 (my 2x great grandmother) and 10 (her youngest sister).

Wilhelminia (Werther) Heuszel's death certificate
The sister's name was Wilhelmina Fredericka Augusta Werther, but she went by Minnie. The name recorded on her death certificate as reported by her son, Frank, threw me for a minute... and then I understood. She's listed as "Will Hall Minnie" Heuzel (her married surname). I guess that Frank said "Wilhelmina" and the registrar wasn't sure how to spell it!

Also, Wilhelmina's mother's maiden name was "Molly" (Rheinhard) Werther, but her maiden name is listed as "Will Hall Werther". I guess Frank got confused and gave HIS mother's maiden name by accident! There are other errors on this document and I believe the notes under it were recorded by my grand aunt, Beulah Brewer.

A good reminder that you can't always trust a single document!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tip: Why It's Helpful to Fill Out Family Group Sheets by Hand

Today I'm continuing to work on a major genealogy organization project starting with just one surname. When I visited family in Kansas last month, I printed out Family Group Sheets from my RootsMagic program. But, I really didn't like the format. So, today I've been filling one out the old fashioned way - by hand.

I started by filling out the details for my 3x great grandfather, Johann Charles/Carl Guenther Werther:
BORN: 17 May 1819 n in Berka, Sonderhausen, Prussia (Germany)
RELIGION: Protestant
MARRIED: about 1845, probably in Berka
DIED: 19 Apr 1899
CAUSE OF DEATH: dropsy (from obituary)
BURIED: Forest Cemetery, Circleville, Pickaway County, Ohio

The question about the will got me thinking.... have I ever looked for Guenther's will? Is it possibly online?

My first stop was FamilySearch. I went to "search" & then "records" & clicked on the United States on the map. Then I scrolled down to "Ohio" and, after clicking that, clicked on "start researching in Ohio."At the bottom of the page is a section called "Probate & Court" and I went into "Ohio, Probate Records, 1789-1996." Then it's time to browse through almost 7 million records!

In Pickaway, there are a lot of files to search through. I started with "Administration Dockets" but found Charles Guenther Werther in quite a few of the volumes. Some were just indexes and others just stated that the case was ongoing. But, I eventually found Guenther's will!

I knew that Guenther lived with his married daughter, Lena (Werther) Webbe, at the time of his death. It was kind of frustrating to see that he left all his "personal property and real estate" to Lena and her heirs. He had at least 4 (possibly 5) other children still alive at this point.

And, here's a couple of questions:

This will is from the Pickaway County, Ohio, will book so it was evidently copied by a secretary (or whoever would copy them). But, for Guenther's name, the handwriting is very different! Does anyone have an idea of how this would have got in the book? Did the 'secretary' try to copy his signature? Or could his daughter have written it?

Also, I'd really love to get a copy of the original will.... something I haven't really learned how to do yet. Any hints on how to find it?

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My First Canadian Records

I've continued to look into the family of C. R. Viney who was a son-in-law of my 3x great grandfather, Guenther Werther. C. R. married Guenther's daughter, Augusta "Gussie" Werther. Yesterday I discovered that C. R., who was born in Canada, served on a steamboat in the Civil War. 

As I tried to learn more about C. R.'s story, my research at helped me to uncover several siblings. Through these siblings I was able to trace C. R. back to his roots in Canada using the 1851 and 1861 censuses. These records revealed his parents names, Joseph & Jane, and two more siblings.

C. R.'s father, Joseph, was born about 1808 in England and his mother, Jane, was born a few years later in Ireland. I show Joseph & Jane Viney had the following children: Joseph H (1832-1918), Charles R "C. R." (1839-1902), George A (1842-1931), Catharine "Kate" L (1847-1927), William (1848-1887), and Cecil E (1857-?, a female).

Royal Canadian Regiment cap badge
posted on Wikipedia

In the 1851 census, Joseph's occupation is listed as "RCR," the Royal Canadian Regiment, which I think is pretty neat! The family is living in St. George's Ward, Lincoln County, Ontario which is part of "Canada West" (though Canada isn't a country at this time).  This area is located on Lake Ontario near Niagara Falls.

"Fort Malden exhibits building and restored barracks"
posted by Dwight Burdette (his own work) at wikipedia
In 1861, the family is in Amherstburg, Essex County, Ontario which is just across the border from Detroit. Joseph, the father, is listed as a "pensioner." Interestingly, every adult on the page was born in either England, Scotland or Ireland and most of the men are listed as "pensioners." I decided to do a little digging...

First of all I discovered that Amherstburg was the site of Fort Malden which was abandoned by the British and Canadians to the Americans in 1813 during the War of 1812. Wikipedia also says that the fort lasted until 1851 when "it was garrisoned by members of The Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment until it was finally de-militarized." Perhaps that is both why there are so many "pensioners" living in the area and why they Viney family is living here, too. 

1851 Census (source at end of post)
Oldest son, Charles, born "Giberalres"? Possibly moved to Upper
Canada between birth of 13 year old Charles & 8 year old George (so, 1838-1843)
The Viney family must have moved to Canada around 1840 (see caption on census record above). I read a little about the "Great Migration to Canada." Wikipedia says over 800,000 people immigrated to Canada between 1815 and 1850, the time period when the Viney family arrived. The primary reason for the mass migration was the relatively low number of jobs available because of populaiton growth. That is probably why the Viney family moved from Ireland to England to Ontario. (Canada didn't become a country until 1867.)

I also found it interesting that the town of Amherstburg that they lived in, which was just across the border from Detroit, was a major terminal settlement in Canada for the Underground Railroad!

One more thing... on these Canadian censuses, the column where the names are listed is titled "names of inmates." Both The Legal Genealogist and I talked about the many uses of the term "inmate" just a couple of months ago!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at


1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, Niagara, Lincoln County, Canada West (Ontario): Schedule A; Roll C 11736: Page 63; Line 29; Joseph Viney household; digital image,, (accessed 04 Nov 2014)

1861 Census of Canada West, Amherstburg, Essex County, Canada West (Ontario); page 37; line 29; Joseph Vinie household; digital image,; (accessed 04 Nov 2014)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Finding A Sailor on a Mississippi River Steamboat in the Civil War

Last week I read "Shiloh" by James Reasoner about the Battle of Shiloh in the Civil War. I was particularly interested in this book of the series because one of my relatives fought as a Confederate soldier in this battle. This book of historical fiction, however, focused on a character who fought in the battle from a steamboat.

Yes, my history background is weak, though I am actively making it stronger. But, I didn't know that steamboats played a part in the Civil War. As I read about the character's experience on the steamboat and then fighting in the battle, I wished that I had a relative who'd worked on a steamboat on the Mississippi River.

Lookout Steamer on the Tennessee River ca. 1860-1865
public domain image by Mathew Brady found on Wikipedia
That was only days ago, and today I stumbled upon a newspaper article that ties my family not only to a steamboat, but to a steamboat which was an 'active participant' in the Battle of Shiloh! How amazing!

According to "Tennessee Online," the "Union Naval Fleet deployed to the Battle of Shiloh was the largest assembled and said to exceed the Spanish Armada in number. It included 14 armed river boats and 153 steamboats."

C. R. Viney was married to Augusta "Gussie" Viney who was a daughter of my great, great, great grandfather, Guenther Werther. Gussie was born in Germany and came to America as a young girl. (Her brother, Kenny, is the father of Ollie (Werther) Crockett whose murder I wrote about in my last post.)

According to his obituary in The Wichita Beacon dated March 15, 1902, "Mr. Viney was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1839. He moved to the United States when still a young man and secured a position as a sailor on a Mississippi river steamboat.... When the civil war broke out, the boat on which [he was] working was purchased by the government for a dispatch boat and [he] remained with it throughout the war. The vessel took an active part in the battles of Vicksburg and Shilo and in several others of historical importance."

I can't wait to uncover more of C. R.'s interesting life! I am looking for his military records and seeing if I can find any more newspaper clippings. is my favorite genealogical tool lately. You never know what you'll discover!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at

Another Pioneer, The Wichita Beacon, 15 Mar 1902, page 5, column 1, digital image, (; accessed 30 Oct 2014)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Murdered by Family Members to Stop Her from Testifying Against Her Husband (Allegedly)

I've written posts about Ephraim Bennett (my great, great grandmother's brother) killing his abusive brother-in-law, Nathan Buchanan. A few days ago, I uncovered another murder in my family tree. This time some in-laws allegedly killed my 3rd great grandfather's granddaughter (so she's my first cousin, three times removed) to prevent her from testifying against her husband!

Her Death is Cause for Four Being Held, Springfield Republican, Springfield, Missouri, 01 Nov 1911,
page 1, column 4, digital image accessed 30 Oct 2014

Ollie Werther's father, Guenther "Kenny" Werther, immigrated from Germany with his family when he was 15 years old. Her mother, Lucy Jones, had a Cherokee father and a "white" mother. Lucy received her allotment from the Cherokees and brought her land and a house into the marriage.

Ollie married Roy Crockett in 1909 or 1910. In a 1910 census taken on April 28th, the newlyweds are living with Roy's family in New Mexico. But, on a census dated June 1st, they are listed as living with Ollie's family in the town where she grew up: Nowata in Nowata County, Oklahoma.

According to newspaper accounts, the couple lived for a short time in her home which had been a wedding present from her family. But "soon after the wedding - at the request of Werther - the couple went to his house to live. Last August (1910) their deserted home burned and Crockett collected $400 insurance..." [The Coffeyville Daily Journal, 20 Nov 1911]

The newspaper accounts go on to say that Ollie quarreled with her husband and eventually went home and talked with her dad who had an "implacable hatred of his son-in-law." Ollie told her dad that she had proof that her husband had burned down the house for the insurance money. Ollie and her father, Kenny, Kenny and Ollie gave this information to the state insurance officials and Roy was arrested for arson.

Since a wife can't testify against her husband, it is alleged that Roy's sister, his brother, his cousin & a friend came up with a plan to kill Ollie. Allegedly Roy's sister, Dora Gaines, and the friend, Maude Warner, "induced (Ollie) to visit them on the pretext of their trying to effect a reconciliation between the estranged couple. It has been established that Ollie Crockett left the home of her father and, coming to Nowata, took up her residence at the Valley hotel. On October 12 [1911] she became ill and soon after being taken sick she died. Physicians declared they detected symptoms of morphine poisoning and State Chemist DeBar testified that he found four grains of morphine in her viscera and more than enough unassimilated in her stomach to kill a healthy person." [The Wichita Daily Eagle, 12 Sep 1912]

I have found newspaper articles showing that the two women, Dora Gaines and Maude Warner, were acquitted of the murder. But, I haven't found anything on the trials of the two males, Orville and George Crockett. As for Roy Crockett, I found a clipping from 1914 saying he'd been "surrendered by his bondsmen."

Ollie Werther's headstone buried under maiden name & burial paid for by father
Nowata Memorial Cemetery, Nowata, Nowata County, Oklahoma
image by Will Babb posted on Find A Grave
Ollie (Werther) Crockett was only 20 years old when she was allegedly murdered on October 13th, 1911. But, what happened to her husband outside of the arson charges? He remarried less than 6 months later to Blanche Hubbert and had at least 3 children with her. He later started Crockett Oil Company in Texas and became both a judge and a mayor.

I found over a dozen articles about the arson and murder on Here are a few of them:

  • Crockett Murder Case to Go Over Until February?, The Coffeyville Daily Journal, Coffeyville, Kansas, 20 Nov 1911, page 1, column 1, digital image, ( accessed 30 Oct 2014 
  • Freed of Charge of Killing Her Sister-in-Law, The Wichita Daily Eagle, Wichita, Kansas, 12 Sep 1912, page 1, column 2, digital image, ( accessed 30 Oct 2014 
  • Roy Crockett charged with Arson, The Coffeyville Daily Journal, Coffeyville, Kansas, 03 Feb 1914, page 1, column 6, digital image, ( accessed 30 Oct 2014

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at

The 1828 Will of Peter Close's Relict: Catharine Elizabeth Close

Yesterday, I shared the 1810 will of my 5th great grandfather , Peter Close of Armagh, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Peter's wife, Catha...