Category Archives: Genealogy

The Maurers of White County, Illinois (revisited)

Remember this picture?

Jacob Maurer & family (1890s?)

I’ve had it for a long time, but I’ve never been quite persuaded by the caption. Aside from the inherent ambiguity of providing a single left-to-right list of names to describe a picture with two (arguably three) rows of people, the names just don’t match up with what I know of the people.

As it turns out, this picture is also present in the Maurer family history I collected last year from the Clark County Genealogy Library (the first thirty pages, anyway); it’s a small, grainy nth-generation photocopy, but the same photo; and captioned thusly:

L. to R. standing: John, Jacob, Mary Ann (Molly), Reuben;
Seated: Jacob Maurer II, holding the Baby, Harry, Grandma Haffa
Catherine Ziegler Maurer, and Kati.

That makes more sense.

Clark County, Illinois

My recent visit to the Urbana Free Library Archives identified two cemeteries of interest in Clark County, Illinois: Dean Cemetery and Macke Cemetery.

Quite a few Maurers are buried there: Andrew, his first wife Susannah, and several of their children (the ones who died in infancy, anyway).

Clark County is across the state line from Terre Haute, down where the Illinois / Indiana border gets all squiggly; Google says it’s a ninety-minute drive from Champaign.

As it turns out, I’m burning some vacation time next week (to avoid losing it come August 1st); perhaps a road trip would be a good project for the day….

Andrew Maurer

I had the notion today to visit the Urbana Free Library Archives, and see what information I could find on Andrew Maurer of Marshall, Clark County, Illinois. It’s been my working hypothesis for some time now that the late Mr. Maurer – who died in 1905 – was Jacob Maurer’s older brother.

After a false start in which I pored with increasing confusion over a history of Marshall County, I found a more helpful book: History of Marshall, Illinois and Eastern Clark County, With Genealogical Sketches, published 1978, which contains on page 160 a biographical sketch of…Andrew Maurer:

Andrew Maurer was born in Tuttlingen, Wurtenburg, Germany, in 1843, the son of Jacob and Agnes Glunz Maurer. At the age of 14, he came to America making his home with his uncle at Marshall. From him he learned the shoemaking trade….

So there’s that connection, established – at least, established to the extent that I believe Helen Maurer Tarman, Andrew’s granddaughter, who provided the sketch.

Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust, but verify,” advice of equal use to arms-reduction treaty negotiators and genealogists. I will have to see what verification I can find for today’s information.

I also poked around a bit in the 1860 Census for Marshall, Clark County, Illinois, and found a shoemaker named Chris Clunz. Could this be Andrew’s uncle?

Investigation contines.

The elusive Andrew Maurer, part II

In July, I sent $8 and a photocopy of my driver’s license to the Indiana Department of Health, with a request for the death certificate of Andrew Maurer, late of Marshall, Clark County, Illinois.

(“But if he lived in Illinois, why did you….” He may have lived in Illinois, but he died in Terre Haute. Thanks for asking!)

The IDH promised to get back to me in “four to six weeks”. This struck me as a bit long – how hard is it to retrieve a death certificate from the archives, run off a copy & stuff it in an envelope? – but I had no other options. So I resolved myself to patience & turned my mind to other things.

So I was quite surprised to find in yesterday’s mail a letter from the Indiana Department of Health. It seemed too quick. Perhaps they have denied my request, thought I. (Government agencies can’t always tell the difference between genealogy and identity theft. To prevent the one, they lock down their records; but that does rather interfere with the other.)

But the letter contained a certified copy of Andrew Maurer’s death certificate, along with an apologetic note:

Since many of the older records were printed on very porous paper, the copy(s) enclosed may appear blurred and or partially illegible. Due to the age and condition of the original document, this is the best reproduction that can be made. We are sorry we can not furnish a more satisfactory document.

I suppose with careful attention to the copier’s contrast settings, a slightly more easily-read copy might have been produced; but this one is legible enough.

Genealogically speaking, though, it’s pretty much a bust. It has Andrew’s name, address, age; spouse’s name; all things I already knew from other sources. It has some new information: cause of death, ‘fractured temporal bone / ruptured temporal artery’; and his father’s name, Jacob Maurer. But his mother’s name – the one piece of information I needed, to link him to the Maurers of White County – was not provided.

An obituary might have more information. Perhaps I can have the relevant microfilm delivered to the Urbana Free Library & search for one.

The elusive Andrew Maurer

The obituary for Agnes Haffa – who was Jacob Maurer’s mother, hence my great×3 grandmother – says that she had five children. Two (names unknown) died in Germany; the other three were Jacob, Anna and Andrew.

Jacob’s birth name may have been Johann Jacob. That’s how he was recorded in the passenger list for the good ship Columbia, that brought him to America in 1865; but by the time he reached Illinois, he was Jacob (or, occasionally, Jakob).

Anna married William Ziegler and moved to Colorado. I don’t know much about her yet.

Andrew’s birth name may have been Andreas. Agnes Haffa’s obituary calls him Andy, and says that he was living in Clark County, Illinois, near Marshall. The 1900 census for Clark County does list an Andrew Maurer, who seems like a good match. He was born in Germany, the year after Jacob and Agnes married.

The odd thing about this possible Andrew is that he came to America in 1857, eight years before the rest of the family.’s passenger list databases have an Andreas Maurer, arriving from Germany aboard the good ship Wm. Nelson on October 29th, 1857; but there’s no indication that he was traveling with anyone. Would a fifteen-year-old emigrate alone?

I need to collect more information about Andreas / Andrew / Andy Maurer.

An obituary would be useful, if I could find one. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library – formerly the Illinois State Historical Library – has Clark County newspapers covering 1905, the year Andrew died. So there may be another trip to Springfield in my future.

A death certificate would be better, but Andrew appears to have died in Vigo County, Indiana – where genealogical requests are not particularly welcome. On the other hand, Indiana has vital records at the state level from 1900 onward, and the state department of health is somewhat more accommodating. Perhaps I will send them a request for Andrew Maurer’s death certificate.

Off to Springfield

I had the day off, so I nipped over to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, for some genealogical research.

I have death dates – unconfirmed – for John Haffa; Agnes Haffa; and John Haffa, Jr. My project was to check the newspaper archives for obituaries, death notices – anything they felt like reporting.

Not much, as it turns out. I found a one-paragraph obituary for Agnes Haffa, and nothing for any of the others.

Nineteenth-century newspapers were strangely organized (disorganized?) vs. modern ones. The pages look like items were packed in wherever they’d fit. Many of the articles turn out to be advertisements in disguise.

Patent medicines were very popular in the 1890s: women and children in particular required frequent doses of elixirs, ointments, tablets, etc., etc., to preserve their health & sanity.

Agnes Haffa’s obituary includes some information I didn’t have: Jacob and Anna Maurer had three siblings, two of which died in Germany. The third, Andy Maurer, was living in Marshall, Illinois in January of 1896.

I’ll have to see what I can find out about him.

The elusive Anna Maurer

The obituary for my great-great-grandfather Jacob Maurer says:

He leaves to mourn their loss the widow, eight children, twenty-five grandchildren and six great grandchildren, besides other relatives and friends. A sister, Mrs. Anna Ziegler, of Denver, Colorado, also survives.

For years, that was all the information I had regarding Anna Maurer.

I found an Anna Ziegler in the census, married to William Ziegler; they lived in White County for a while, then – apparently – moved to Denver. But was it Jacob Maurer’s sister, or just an unfortunate coincidence of names?

(The latter is maddeningly common among the Germans of nineteenth-century White County. They loved to re-use first names.)

I had the notion yesterday to visit the Urbana Free Library, and see what I could dig up on Anna & William Ziegler. Maybe they had some new books in the Archives that would be helpful.

I found White County Marriages, 1866-1880, by Patricia P. Davis; it’s a transcript of (a few of) the marriage registers kept in the County Clerk’s office, in the courthouse in Carmi. (These books are huge, heavy & occasionally quite filthy. Wrestling with them may be genealogically profitable, but in most other ways it’s quite unpleasant.) On page 188, I found:

April 25, 1871
William Ziegler
Anna Mower / Mowrer
Book 5, Box 8

This entry isn’t in any of the other marriage indices I’ve seen. I can’t find it in the Secretary of State’s online database, nor on Could it be that the handwriting on the actual document is so poor that later transcribers & indexers all took their best guess – and all got it wrong?

I’m keen to get a copy of Anna & William’s marriage license, but undecided as to how I might do that. I could take a vacation day, drive down to Carmi, and retrieve it myself; or I could ask the County Clerk to mail it to me. One way is faster, the other is significantly cheaper.

What to do, what to do….


Years ago, I was in the habit of spending Saturday afternoons at the Urbana Free Library, poring over the genealogy books in the Archives.

The Archives’ primary focus is Champaign County, which doesn’t help me very much: no ancestors of mine ever lived here. But their secondary focus is the rest of Illinois, and they have quite a selection of material from White County.

My note-taking started out very low-tech, with pencil & paper. Alas, my handwriting was very small, ten years ago, and my eyesight was much better. These days, my stack of scribbled notes is getting hard to read. I keep them on my desk, but don’t look at them much any more.

Later, I went electronic, pecking away at the iPaq (first) and the Axim X30 (later), each with its own folding keyboard. I created a few dozen Pocket Word documents that way, of book excerpts and random notes. But when the iPaq and X30 went away, Pocket Word went away too, and I was left with a bunch of files I couldn’t read. (Why, no, desktop Word couldn’t read Pocket Word files. Way to go, ‘softies.) Converting them to plain text was an adventure.

I had the notion this evening to get all of this (in consistent electronic form and) neatly organized, indexed and searchable. This is by no means a one-evening project, especially with all the handwritten stuff to be processed. But it’ll keep me busy, and away from Minecraft; and there may be significant information buried among the scribbles.

I’ll likely use Evernote for this, if I can figure out how their OS X app works these days. They keep redesigning the silly thing….

The mystery of John & Rose Maurer

John Maurer was born in 1878, the eldest son of Jacob & Katherine Maurer. Around 1900, he married Rose Burkhardt – sister of Barbara Burkhardt, the mother of Barbara Felty, wife of…John’s brother Harry. Rose was also sister of Susie Burkhardt, who married John’s brother Jacob.

I digress.

I had the notion yesterday to find John & Rose in the 1940 census. This presented some unexpected mysteries.

John Maurer is listed in Burnt Prairie Township, as a lodger (with people I didn’t recognize), marital status divorced; Rose is in Carmi, as a housekeeper (again, with people I didn’t recognize), marital status widowed. They’re both the right age, and they’re the only John & Rose Maurer in White County in 1940 (so far as I know); but I’m not convinced they’re the right people.

I have no record that John & Rose ever divorced. Their obituaries (1957 and 1955, respectively) imply that they stayed married. Perhaps divorce was unmentionable in the 1950s? But if they didn’t divorce, where were they in 1940? And how does the Stolen Heifers Incident of 1932 fit into this?

I don’t suppose this will be resolved without a trip to Carmi.

Update: Numerous errors have been corrected. (I really shouldn’t try to write these things from memory.)

441 Pennsylvania St.

The 1941 edition of Polk’s City Directory for Gary, Indiana contains this entry (on page 310):

Maurer, Herschel I (Vina V) clk Ideal Grocery & Market r441 Pennsylvania

Those are my grandparents, moved up from Carmi to…do what? Look for work? Have a go at city life, instead of farming?

I should have asked my grandmother about this, or my mother.

I was curious where in Gary 441 Pennsylvania St. might be, so this evening I looked it up: it’s a few blocks east of the (now closed) Gary Public Library main branch. As with the City Methodist Church, if I’d known that when I was in Gary a few years back I might have gone to take a look.

Not that I would have seen anything. Google Maps has this:

View Larger Map

…a baseball stadium, and a parking lot. Whatever house my grandparents lived in, back in 1941, is long gone.

(Most of Gary is long gone. And most of what’s left doesn’t look too good. But that’s a story for another time.)