A Family Lost

A Family Lost

Rabbit Trail Tales

A Family Lost

A headstone pillar designating the loss of an entire family.
This headstone is that of my husband’s grandfather’s family.

This story became very real for me on my first Memorial Day trip with my husband and his siblings to pay tribute to family members who have passed. 

We would spend all morning being reminded of the lives that went before us and the memories shared made them present with us.

I think the most difficult headstone was that of my husband’s grandfather’s family. In 1891, they lost all of their children to diphtheria…all that is except one, Oscar, my husband’s grandfather. The children were ages 17 through 2.  Oscar was 12 years old.

Most of us cannot imagine the heartache and incredible pain this family endured.  As a 12-year-old boy, I would imagine Oscar carried many thoughts, questions and tears. But in this tragedy, I find I am in awe every time I look at our grandsons.  In some miraculous way, Oscar survived, and the course of this family has been forever changed as evidence of this 2002 family photo.

 I am grateful.

Vintage photo of the Fett family
Family of Oscar and Mary Fett


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Fred Fett-Diphtheria

Article from Feb 8, 1891 The Morning Democrat (Davenport, Iowa)
Searching for the Family Historian in The Stewart Family

Searching for the Family Historian in The Stewart Family

Rabbit Trail Tales

Searching for the Family Historian in The Stewart Family

My Cousins, Esther & Opal Stewart
Esther & Opal Stewart

The back of this photo said “My Cousins, Esther & Opal Stewart”

By all accounts, “My Cousins” would indicate this photo was probably labeled by my husband’s grandmother, Alvina Schlotterbeck, the niece of Jane Schlotterbeck Stewart. My goal was to find further photos of my husband’s family, so it is time to begin the search. Hopefully, my journey will help me find a Stewart family historian.

So the Rabbit Trail begins…..

The Stewart Family
McCains Family. The baby in this picture, 1909, would be their aunt Lela, married to Liston Stewart in 1924.
Alfred and Lillian Stewart
Alfred John Stewart and his first wife Lillian.

You never know if you will find the family historians in each generation.  You only hope that when you find that person who has family photos and stories, that they will be excited about helping others on the same path of the discovery. 

I decided to begin with the parents of these girls followed by their siblings and spouses’ families.

The baby in this picture, 1909, would be their aunt Lela, married to Liston Stewart in 1924. Unfortunately, this was the only photo pertinent to this branch of the tree. Where to next?

Let’s try a sibling. Alfred John Stewart, the girls’ brother.  I found this picture of Alfred and his first wife Lillian.  They were married in 1924.  Alfred would go on to marry again in 1952 to Neva Catherine Miles Wright.  Unfortunately, another dead end.

I went directly to Esther’s and Opal’s information. Unfortunately, there was nothing that would warrant further research.  So at this time, it looks like this Rabbit Trail has come to an end…maybe it will surface again.  Meanwhile, I wait for new clues and hopefully a contact from someone in my FB Family Group who suddenly remembers the name.  I guess this picture will go back into the box…for now.

Unfortunately, this was the only photo pertinent to this branch of the tree.

The Mystery of Magnetic Healing: Exploring an 1800s Occupation

The Mystery of Magnetic Healing: Exploring an 1800s Occupation

Rabbit Trail Tales

The Mystery of Magnetic Healing: Exploring an 1800s Occupation

Harrison Blunt
Harrison Blunt Death Certificate
Harrison Blunt's Death Certificate

The Blunt family continues to keep me quite distracted.  When I found Harrison’s death certificate to verify his birth and death, I found his occupation quite interesting.

Many times occupations ‘back in the day” were very straightforward.  Usually on the census, you will see common occupations like farmer, housewife, blacksmith, laborer etc.  But on this Death Certificate, there was a new one for me.  A different type of Rabbit Trail…this one goes into Google to begin with.

One of the first articles that I found seemed to connect the possible dots. William D Jones established the practice of ‘magnetic healing’. According to the article, Jones grew up on farms in Wisconsin and Iowa.  In 1899 Jones opened an office in Bloomington, IL, and taught his ‘Jones Method” of magnetic healing.

After scanning through many articles, I was reminded that my grandfather wore a copper bracelet.  He swore by it for his arthritis.  As I poked around a bit more it seems that is may be what the ‘magnetic healing’ may have been about.  I am assuming Harrison went through this school, or another similar in focus and began ‘healing’ people. 

Well, another trail ends….for now

News article for magnetic healing
News article for magnetic healing


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Article from Nov 24, 2013 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois)
Unveiling the Memorial Day Mystery Box

Unveiling the Memorial Day Mystery Box

Rabbit Trail Tales

Unveiling the Memorial Day Mystery

Ken and Norrie Fett
Ken and Norrie Fett

Elsie Blunt’s granddaughter Norrie

In 2021, at a family gathering, I was given a box of family photos. Needless to say, I was distracted for the rest of our visit by the treasures that awaited me.  

In an effort to identify the Memorial Day Mystery box, I began by searching the Elnora “Norrie” Grace Duvall line.  She was married to my husband’s uncle Ken (photo on left).

As I began my research the surname Blunt came up.  As I traced it back it seems Blunt would be Norrie’s mother’s maiden name.  Suddenly, the names on the back of the photos and even those unnamed began to surface.  Including this one with Norrie’s mother and her aunt Grace.  The sisters must have been close since Norrie carried her aunt’s name as her middle name.

I was very excited to begin comparing the photos I had in the box with the ones found online.  After checking with Norrie’s daughter-in-law, she confirmed my finds and was very grateful for the new photos to share with her family. 

I found this treasure on line, posted by other researchers.  Norrie’s grandmother Althea is the woman in white in the center of the photo.  Grace and Elsie on the left and Ida and Myrtle on the right. 

The Memorial Day Mystery box, actually began the Rabbit Trail Tails that I will continue to share with you.

Grace and Elsi Blunt
Grace and Elsi Blunt
Blunt Family
Norrie’s grandmother Althea is the woman in white in the center of the photo. Grace and Elsie on the left and Ida and Myrtle on the right.
Following the Frank’s Trail His Unexpected Journeys

Following the Frank’s Trail His Unexpected Journeys

Rabbit Trail Tales

Following the Trail of Frank Blunt and His Unexpected Journey

Frank Blunt
Frank Blunt

Sometimes, a character emerges from the most unexpected places and grabs ahold of my mind, immediately planting a seed of ‘is there more?’

I was recently doing the Blunt family history research as part of my husband’s tree.  Since it was not a direct ancestral line for my husband, I was satisfied to stop with his Aunt Norrie, who was of the Blunt family.  But I found myself looking a bit further this morning and uncovered ‘one of those stories’ that makes you stop and realize that what we do is so much more than data collection.  A story was laying before me.

Aunt Norrie’s grandfather had a bit more to share than the data that I had collected.  It surfaced in his obituary.  In this situation, it was not the manner of his death in his early beginnings of life that caught my attention.  Franklin ‘John” Blunt was orphaned. The obit gives a timetable, a location, and possibly the homes he may have lived in.  So I turned to the census to see if I could find him and his ‘trail’.

Born in 1863 in Davenport IL, we would find him in the 1870 census living with his parents but now in Missouri with his sister Ida and his grandfather William Blunt.  When searching a bit further, it is his maternal grandparents that lived in Rock Island, IL.  William was listed as retired farmer, but I could not find more information on Ida.  So I moved on to the next census, 1880 which found Frank at age of 16 living in Wisconsin with Amanda Shivly, age 32, living at the same address.  Amanda’s obit reveals that she never married, died at the age of 92. I’m going to assume the best, she was a giving woman who took in those needing a home.

As we continue to read, Franklin went from state to state until settling back om Iowa. So although Franklin had a hard life, it seems that at the end of it, he was highly esteemed by his family and community.  A goal worth reaching for.

Blunt, Frank news; obituary
Blunt, Frank's obituary notification.
A Picture’s Hidden Story: Who Is Grandfather’s Mysterious Wife?

A Picture’s Hidden Story: Who Is Grandfather’s Mysterious Wife?

Rabbit Trail Tales

A Picture's Hidden Story:

Unraveling the Identity of Grandfather Kollenkark and His Mysterious Wife

An oval frame displays a vintage photo of a man and a woman
News article of an obituary

Sometimes there is more said in incomplete description than in-depth information.

Well for a story anyway. In my Memorial Day Box 2021 was a wonderful picture labeled “Grandfather Kollenkark and wife”. Now what struck me was that there seemed to be respect for ‘grandpa’ in using a more formal title. And the opposite would be true for the woman in the picture with him simply called ‘wife’. There were just too many questions to let this one slide. Who is Grandfather Kollenkark and the woman with him?

Let’s see what was to be found.

I first found that this gentleman was the second husband of Elizabeth Lombard Schlotterbeck. She and Jacob Schlotterbeck were married in 1854 in Iowa. She was 20 yr old and Jacob was 29. Jacob died in 1872, leaving Elizabeth a widow at the age of 38 with 10 children, including a little 1-year-old girl. In 1874 Elizabeth married Friedrich Kollenkark. She was 40 and he was 26. They had 3 more children. Elizabeth died in 1900. In 1902 Friedrich married Margaret Rosberg. He was 52 and she was 29. They had one child together. His obituary does not mention her by name but the child by age, 5 years old.

With just a quick search, I feel pretty sure that this ‘wife’ is probably Margaret Roseburg, a young woman with a big job as the wife of a prominent citizen’.

Margaret was buried in a different cemetery than her husband. Elizabeth and Friedrich were buried together. Jacob Schlotterbeck was buried in the same cemetery as Margaret.

Maybe I will discover who kept and labeled this photo. That is a Tale for another time.