walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Great-Uncle Hein's Second Wife

By way of context, I'm reading _Family Trees_ by François Weil, which as a history of genealogy in (mostly) the US, got me thinking about genealogical matters and related issues (I'm about half way through and it's pretty good). I'm not sure what precisely set me off, but I distracted myself for a while looking into how citizenship rules currently work in Canada, and found this lovely tool for answering the question, "Am I Canadian?", which sounds like a joke but is not (and apparently, the answer for me is yes, which led to further discussion with my sister about whether to do anything about that).


As we were plodding through the details of what paperwork we would each need, I went over to ancestry.com to track down some key dates in my sister's life which she had sort of misplaced, and then I went through some paperwork she stores with me to find some more (and then enter it into ancestry.com).

While I was there, I poked around at some links and picked up some of the immigration records that were linking to some family on my dad's side, notably, Great Uncle Hein. Hein americanized his name fully in daily life (becoming Harry Smith); his brother didn't take such a large step, retaining his Dutch last name, but converting Simon to Sam (I still don't get this -- Simon is a perfectly good American name, but apparently Sam was even better). Neither bothered to change it legally, so their birth name is present in the immigration paperwork, altho the Americanized version is in the census.

And then I noticed that Hein's entry had picked up a hint for a death record. And wow, it was the right death record. There was a transcription error of his dad's first name (Aobe should have been Æbe which doesn't render real well, so I'll add: Aebe for clarity), but everything else was perfect. And there was an entry for the spouse.

Now, I went to some trouble to track down Hein's first wife and daughter and descendants, at the request of my first cousin once removed who I named my daughter after. I somehow missed the existence of a second wife. Is this real?

Today, I went over to Washington Digital Archives, where there is indeed a Harry Smith marrying a Mabel Berge. ("Mabel A." on the death record) The witnesses are Thelma E. Berge (her sister -- and I've found them in a North Dakota census record 20 years earlier, complete with middle initials for both girls and the marriage license indicates North Dakota) and Florence Pflueger. The officiant is E.R. Pflueger, and I can find a 1940 census entry at the address on the license for a minister named Edward Pflueger -- Florence was his daughter. And the address is within 2 miles of where Harry was living with his daughter from his first marriage, also on the 1940 census.

So looks like Hein married a second time, and the marriage was again sadly brief, cut short by the death of one of the parties. Mabel A. Berge Smith would have been 32 at the time of the marriage and 35 when Harry died, so it is possible there is a child or children. I know how I missed this, but it still seems sort of weird.
Tags: genealogy
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