February 2008

Josephine Reichenstein Douglass

I had tried several times over the course of the last four years to learn where and when Josephine Reichenstein Douglass, wife of Wilfred Douglass, died. I accessed the available death indices online and looked every so often for Reichenstein family trees. I tried different spellings of the name at first but after I received a copy of their marriage license I was pretty sure her name was spelled correctly. Then a few weeks ago I came across a website called Omaha Obits. I put her name in the search engine and I found her. Not only her but Wilfred, too. This website does not have the actual obituaries on it, just the index to where the obituary is in the newspaper. I have sent for the obituaries but have not received them yet. The index reads Douglas, Josephine (Mrs. Wilfred R.); 53; 17 Nov 1933; @ Forest Lawn (cemetery). And Douglas, Wilfred R.; 60; 30 Sep 1940 @ Forest Lawn.

Wilfred and Josephine had two children. Robert, born 1909, and Jack, born in 1914. Robert must have died relatively young and without children. He does not appear in the Social Security Death Index which names most people who died after 1966. And there are no records that I have found, or that have been passed on to me, naming any children.

Jack, after his stint in the armed services, had a career in civil service for the Army and lived in California, North Carolina and Alaska before retiring to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He and his wife died in 1992 and 1988, respectively, and are buried there.

The cover to the Genealogy of the Canadian Branch of the Douglass Family, says: “Compiled by Wilfred Robert Bruce Douglass, Omaha, Nebraska, May, 1926.” In his Introduction, Wilfred writes that information about the early generations came from notes of his father, Dr. John G. Douglass, and from Dr. Douglass’ sister, Eleanor Sproat, who was ninety-three years old at his writing.

This unpublished genealogy was so valuable to me as I began to research other branches of the Douglass family that it seems only fitting that I try and glean what facts I can about Wilfred’s own family. I am looking forward to receiving the obituaries. Wilfred was a department manager of a retail furniture store in Omaha for many years, so I am hoping the newspaper will have good information in the obituaries.

(Lineage: Wilfred-5, Dr. John-4, Robert-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

Earl Douglas Ridgeway

While the ministry as an occupation is not absent from the current generation of the Douglass family, I was very interested to learn (see June 2006 Digest) that Earl Ridgeway (1875-1955) had served churches in several areas of New York State in the early part of the last century. I finally received his obituary. He had served both Methodist and Baptist churches in central New York State. He died in No. Columbia, Herkimer County, NY. You can read his obituary here. I have written to his granddaughter in Baraboo, WI, for more information.

(Lineage: Earl-6, Emma Ridgeway-5, Leander-4, Alexander-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

Flossie Clemons Willett

Sometimes I think that the stars are just aligned right for my subconscious to be cruising on the same wavelength as another person’s.

Last month I tried once more to learn something about Flossie Clemons, specifically who she had married. I knew she had adopted a daughter, Ernestine Eddy, and Ernestine had married Paul McNeal, but I could not find Flossie in the census anywhere.

Flossie Clemons was born in Tuscola County, Michigan, one of four children born to Alfred Clemons who moved to Michigan from Redfield, NY around 1867. Her mother died when Flossie was eight. Her sister married a local farmer and her brothers never married. There was some information on the Rootsweb website that she had married a Willett, but I could not find her married to a Willett in any census.

On that day in January I decided to look at every Flossie in the 1910 Michigan census who was the right age. After I had worked my way through thirteen Flossies with only one of them a “possible”, I decided to try the 1920 census. Working methodically, I came across Flossie Ady in the index. But when I looked at the original census, it was not Ady; someone had written through it and it looked like Eddy. To top it off, Flossie Ady, had a 3 year old daughter, Ernestine, living with her. They were living as roomers with a family.

I was congratulating myself on my hard-earned information when the very next day, Ernestine’s daughter signed my guest book on my website! How cool is that? She told me the name in question was not Eddy but Eedy! No wonder I could not find it in the census – it was indexed wrong. I never would of thought to try Eedy. Anyway, Kathleen told me Flossie had been married to J. Ernest Eedy and they had adopted Ernestine. For whatever reason, Ernest did not remain a part of their lives and Flossie and Ernestine lived in a succession of rooming houses while Ernestine was growing up. William Willett came into Flossie’s life later on, but he is not buried in Arbela township cemetery where Flossie Willett is. We are not sure how long they were together.

This “goes to show you” that if you just keep chipping away at the bricks in the wall, eventually you will break through. Kind of like mining for gold. You never know when you’ll find that nugget. Or as one of my cousins calls it, that “eureka moment.”

(Lineage: Flossie-6, Alfred-5, Candace Clemons-4, Alexander-3, John-2, Alexander-1)

Olive A. Andrews

Speaking of chipping away at walls, I finally bit the bullet and paid the fee for a death certificate for Olive A. Andrews from St. Paul, MN. I have been trying to determine if Olive is really the daughter of Robert and Cornelia Flewelling who moved from Oxford County, Ontario to Manistee County, Michigan. And is she the same person who appears with the family as “Verlina”, the only time Robert and Cornelia had a daughter with them at census time? Is she also the “Orlee” Flewelling who married Dr. Tomlin in Manistee County? The marriage index has the Tomlin’s marriage license listed, but it is NOT on the page indexed. So frustrating! I have a lot of circumstantial evidence but no proof of this woman’s parents, or her real name, or her date of birth. So when I found a record for Robert and Cornelia living with their “daughter”, Olive A. Andrews, in St. Paul, MN, I thought Olive’s death certificate might give me the proof that I wanted.

When the death certificate came, I opened it hoping for something substantial. I was disappointed. The death certificate had very little information. In the census Olive had been listed as a widow who had no children. The informant for the death certificate, Charles H. Winter, knew only her birthdate (which fits none of the various ages recorded for Verlina or Orlee). Her parents, maiden name, and the name of her deceased husband, were “unknown.” The only new information I received for my $9 was the place she is buried, Oakland cemetery. Next step is to see if I can find Olive living with a husband by the name of Andrews before he died, then see if I can find their marriage license. Somewhere there must be a record that directly connects this woman with her parents. There is a story to tell here if I can determine the facts.

(Lineage: Olive/Orlee/Verlina-5, Robert-4, Betsy Flewelling-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

2 thoughts on “February 2008

  1. I’m doing research on the Willett family. Flossie Clemens married Wm. Howard Willett 23 Aug. 1923 in Tuscola Co. Mi. He is the son of Lester and Bertha Willett. By 1930 census, he is no longer with Flossie as she is listed as divorced. Flossie’s name is under “Willard” and she lives in Detroit, Wayne Co. Mi. Ernestine Eady is age 13. Thank-you for your work for it helped me piece together more of the Willett puzzle. Best regards, JR

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