Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Albert & Lydia - 1920's & 30's

When the 1920 census was taken, Albert & Lydia were still living on the farm in Greenbush, MN. All their children had married and moved to their own places. The farm was owned free and clear and Albert who was 62 years old was still working the dairy farm. Lydia was 64. They were grandparents too. Fred and his wife Lorena were living in nearby Princeton, Mille Lacs, MN with their son Virgil. Fred was working in the office of a garage and Elizabeth and her husband William Kettelhodt were living on their own farm in Livonia Township, Sherburne County, MN.

I couldn't find Otto or Erick in the 1920 Census. (I tried again today using my new trick, but I still can't find them.) I'm pretty sure they were both still somewhere in Minnesota because I know that Erick & Lulu had their son Darrell (my grandfather) in Minneapolis March 10, 1920. And Otto and Betty had a son in July 1921 in Minnesota, so I'm pretty sure they were still in Minnesota in 1920 as well.

In 1930 Albert, 72, and Lydia, 74, were still living on the farm in Greenbush Township, MN. Six years later Lydia, who was 80 years old, died on April 7, 1936.

Lydia's death certificate is interesting to me because it does not have her name on it, just "Mrs. Albert Elsner". Albert was the informant so I wonder why he didn't give them her name? He gave her parents names as Fredrick Richter and Otellia Phillapowski. She was buried in Princeton, MN but it does not name the Cemetery.

I have done many searches for Fredrick Richter and Otellia Phillapowski, but haven't found anything yet. I couple years ago, I found a marriage record for Albert Elsner and Zilla Gawehn who married in Allen County, Indiana on Dec 28, 1936. It is the 2nd marriage for the bride and the groom. The brides parents names are Fredrick Richter and Johanna B Philepofski. That would make Zilla's maiden name Richter! And her parents names look an awful lot like Lydia's parents names! Is Zilla her sister? Or is this just a coincidence? Maybe this is a different Albert Elsner (there are many out there). The record shows the groom's father is Carl Elsner and his mother is Fredricka Berowfski. But at that time I didn't know what Albert's parents names were. Could Albert have moved to Indiana after Lydia died and married her sister? To find out if this is our Albert, I researched the names on the marriage record and I also researched Zilla Gawehn to see if she is Lydia's sister.

I couldn't find anything on Carl and Fredricka Elsner nor Fredrick Richter and Johanna Philepofski. So I turned my attention to Zilla Gawehn and I found a passenger list for August and Zilla Gawehn and their children Elizabeth and George. They were all born in Germany and arrived in New York on Dec 7, 1889 on the ship Polaria. I found Census information from 1900-1930 for them in Fort Wayne, Indiana. But I couldn't find anything going back to connect Zilla to Lydia. I kept trying to find something, any little clue, but at that point I was stuck. I had hit a brick wall.

In March of this year, I decided to try to contact a descendant of my great grandfather's brother Otto.  I explained who I was and that I was looking for more information about Albert & Lydia Elsner. I was hoping he might have some information that would help me get passed this brick wall. I waited anxiously for an answer. In the letter, I had included my return address, my email address, and my phone number. But I wasn't even sure I had sent the letter to a valid address. Then, a few days later, there it was! A message in my email inbox from a long lost relative! He knew who Albert & Lydia were and had heard about my great grandfather! He was happy to help! He sent me scans from his Aunt Elizabeth's family bible. She had written down all of her family's names, birth dates, dates of death, and children's names. I was able to validate my research and now I also knew what Albert and Lydia's parents names were! Elizabeth's bible shows that her paternal grandparents are Carl Elsner, 1831-1907, and Fredericka Barowski, 1826-1910. And her maternal grandparents were Friedrich Richter, Oct 14, 1812- July 14, 1889 and Caroline Phillippowska 1823-Dec 9, 1860. These names look a lot like the names on the marriage record I found for Albert & Zilla and on Lydia's death certificate! So this brought back my question about Zilla Gawehn. So I told my new cousin about the marriage record I had found and asked him if he had ever heard anything about this. He had indeed heard about this! He said that it caused his Aunt Elizabeth some consternation. He was a young adolesent at the time he overheard his father and Aunt Elizabeth discussing it. His mother explained to him that it is not common for a man to marry his deceased wife's sister but was known to occur among some Germans because of loneliness.

So the marriage record I had found for Albert and Zilla was for our Albert after all. Lydia died on April 7, 1936 and Albert moved to Indiana and married Zilla on Dec. 28, 1936. Zilla had been widowed since 1929. At the time they married, Albert was 79 and Zilla was 73.  They were married almost 11 years when Albert died on July 5, 1947 at 89 years old.  Zilla died in 1954 at the age of 90.

1 comment:

John said...

Sheryl, that is fascinating detective work. Good job!