Monday, May 25, 2015

Military Monday on Memorial Day - Exploring Arlington National Cemetery with the ANC Explorer App

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the US Armed Forces. In honor of Memorial Day, Family Tree Magazine's genealogy insider blog recently listed 11 free sites that can be used to research Americans who've died in military service.

One of the sites listed is Arlington National Cemetery's ANC Explorer. The website allows you to locate gravesites, view photos of headstones, and take a virtual tour of the cemetery. Both a mobile app and web browser application are provided. This app wasn't available last time I looked at the Arlington website, so I decided to give it a try on my home PC.

My great-uncle Julius Councill was killed in action on August 12, 1918 in a battle in Fismette, France during WWI. Searching for Julius Councill on the ANC Explorer page brought up a display of a map of Arlington with a marker showing the location of Julius' grave site. Selecting the marker brought up details on Julius' grave and a small photo of his headstone.

ANC Explorer details on Julius K. Councill
The Details button brought up larger photos of the front and back of the headstone and the option to download the photos shown below.



















The Directions button brought up the path to Julius' grave on the map and a detailed set of directions starting from the Welcome Center. There was a choice between the quickest and easiest route. In this case, both routes were about 1 1/4 miles from the Welcome Center.























Zooming in on the map showed that the Argonne Cross is not too far from Julius' grave.


I went back to the main page, selected "Browse Points of Interest", "Monuments and Memorials", and selected the Argonne Cross. Details about the Argonne Cross were displayed as well as front and back photos.

Argonne Cross Details from ANC Explorer app




















This explained why Julius was buried in Arlington three years after his death. His burial case file included several forms filled out by Julius' mother Arianna Councill requesting that his remains be moved from France to Arlington Cemetery. I had no idea so many servicemen were moved to Arlington during that time.

Photo of the Argonne Cross from ANC Explorer app
If you have family buried at Arlington or are planning a visit there, I'd definitely recommend giving the ANC Explorer app a try. One thing to note is that the site says the tool is still under development and not all graves are included yet.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Catherine Desch Gast and grandsons in Celina, Ohio 1918

The Gast family of Celina, Ohio suffered the tragic loss of four family members to the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918. Two sons of Mr. and Mrs. John Gast died on December 8 and December 11, 1918. That was followed by the death of John's mother Catherine Desch Gast on December 12, 1918. John's sister Antoinette "Mattie" Gast Ockuly died on December 23, 1918. It's hard to imagine losing so many in the family that quickly.

The following obituaries appeared in the Celina Democrat on December 13, December 20,  and December 27, 1918. I found them online at Chronicling America. The site has the weekly Celina Democrat available online for the years 1910 to 1918.

Celina Democrat, December 13, 1918
  GAST BOYS VICTIMS OF INFLUENZA
  Carl and Eugene Gast, ages 17 and 18, respectively, sons of Mr. and Mrs. John Gast, of North Cherry street, are both dead as the result of the dread Spanish influenza.
  Both were ill but a few days. Carl, the youngest of the two boys, passed away Sunday. Eugene's death occurred Wednesday. Medical science failed to stay the hand of the relentless reaper.
  Both boys were the pride and hope of their parents, were favorite among their fellows, and enjoyed the confidence and esteem of all whom they came in contact.

Celina Democrat, December 20, 1918
 THE GRIM  REAPER
  Mrs. John Gast, sr. (nee Desch), aged 64 years, one of the best known women of this city, died a week ago last night, after a week's illness of influenza. She had been at the home of her son John nursing the two grandsons,whose deaths were chronicled last week, until a few days preceding her death. Grief over the loss of her grandchildren and the absence of her youngest son Leo at Camp Merritt no doubt broke her spirit and hastened the death of the good woman. 

  The deceased was a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Ferdinand Desch, and was born at St. Johns, April 23, 1854. She was married to Mr. Gast in 1871. Five years later they came to Celina. where they since resided. The deceased is survived by her husband and eight children—John. jr., Andrew, Leo. Matilda, Sister Margaret, Mrs. Geo. Pulskamp, Mrs. P. A. Ockuly and Mrs, Alex Miller, of Ottawa.
  Funeral services were held Monday evening and the remains deposited in the mausoleum to await the arrival of her son Leo before her interment. 

Celina Democrat, December 27, 1918
  Mrs. P. A. Ockuly (nee Gast), aged 32 years, died at the home of her father, John Gast, sr., last Monday night. Mrs. Ockuly had been ill for three weeks or more from an attack of influenza, and the deaths of her two nephews, followed closely by that of her mother, no doubt had a very depressing effect upon her and contributed much to her final dissolution. 
  The deceased for many years was employed at the Bote office, and was highly esteemed by a large circle of acquaintances. She was wedded to Mr. Ockuly only last April. Funeral services were held at the Catholic church yesterday.

Catherine Desch Gast was my 3x great-grandmother. Her daughter Mary married my 2x great-grandfather George F. Pulskamp in 1899. George Pulskamp was the publisher of the German Bote newspaper mentioned in the obituary of Mrs. P. Ockuly.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - James Keefe - Civil War Vet of Clinton County, Ohio

This may be the most informative obituary I've ever seen for anyone connected to my family! The obituary was published in the Clinton County Democrat in Wilmington Ohio on January 13, 1916. James Keefe's mother was Johanna Creedon and his brother Timothy Keefe was the executor of my 3x great-grandfather Patrick Creedan's will. While I don't know the exact relation to my Creeden family, the two families seemed close. The Keefes were mentioned as being related to Patrick Creedan's daughter Julia in her obituary published in 1918.

OBITUARY.
On last Friday morning, January 1916, was written the final chapter in the life of one of our foremost citizens, when we consigned to their last resting place the mortal remains of a man, who, during a long and useful lifetime, was loyal to his God, his country and his fellow men. James Keefe was born November 16, 1844, in Macroom, County Cork, Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland. He was a son of John and Johanna Creedon Keefe, to which union were born six children—Patrick, who died while serving his country during the Civil War; Timothy, who died several years ago in Wayne township, Clinton county; James, the subject of this sketch, and three daughters, Mary, Julia and Honore, all of whom have preceded their brother into the Eternal Kingdom.



At the age of thirteen James Keefe, with his parents, emigrated to America and, landing at New York, went from there to Xenia, Ohio, and later came to Wilmington. Modern conveniences of travel were then unknown and the only conveyance obtainable for the trip to Wilmington was an ordinary road wagon. Upon arriving here the Keefe family located in the old home of the late Sheriff Smith, where James grew to manhood under the loving and watchful tutelage of his parents, acquiring those:sterling qualities of mind and heart which he displayed throughout his earthly sojourn. He received a good common school education, attending the school located where now stands the Friends Church. On the 10th of August. 1862, his patriotism led him to enlist and take up arms against the foe of his beloved country and for three years he faithfully and valorously served under the Stars and Stripes and was honorably discharged at Camp Dennison on June 17, 1865. 


The following year, 1866, James was united in marriage to Ann Shea, daughter of Michael and Margaret Shea, which union was blessed with five children, Mrs. Joseph Kuebler, John Keefe. Mrs. Thos. McDermott, Miss Honore and James M. Keefe, all of whom mourn the loss of a kind and
loving father. The early years of Mr. Keefe's married life were spent on the farm, but, upon moving to Wilmington, he was appointed street supervisor by the council, which position he capably held until 1910, when forced to retire by Ill health. Although endowed with a rugged constitution, he suffered in late years  from heart trouble, which, coupled with his advanced age, brought about his dissolution, and on Monday morn, January 3, 1916, at 8:30 he fell asleep in the Lord.


James Keefe was a kind and genial man, endowed with a keen intellect and an abundance of that ready wit found in so many of his race. To know him was to be his friend, for he was honest and charitable in his dealings with his fellow men. He will be missed by his immediate family, also by his few remaining comrades of the G. A. R., and last, but not least, by the members of St. Columbkille church, which he attended for over 50 years. "For God and Country" would be a fitting epitaph to inscribe on his monument, for he loved and served God from the days of his youth, and to his country he gave the best years of his life. At 7:30 Friday morning, after the G. A. R. had paid their last respects in his home to their deceased comrade, the remains were escorted to St. Columbkille church, where funeral services were conducted by Rev. Martin A. Higgins, his pastor, after which interment was made in Sugar Grove cemetery.

Farewell. dear father, your love for us 
Was tender, kind and true, 
And memory's surine will long preserve 
The warmest spot for you. 
Now gathered round your silent grave, 
While tears of sorrow roll, 
The fervent prayer springs from our hearts,
                                                          -God rest your noble soul."
CARD OF THANKS. 
Mrs. Keefe and family wish to express their heartfelt gratitude to all their friends for the assistance and sympathy extended them in their dark hour of sorrow, and also to Rev. Martin A. Higgins for his eloquent and consoling funeral sermon, and lastly to the G. A. R. for the honor accorded their deceased loved one. 
MRS. ANN KEEFE AND FAMILY.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Hannah Creeden

This obituary was published in the Clinton County Democrat on March 7, 1918.


  Mrs. Hannah Creeden, aged 85 years, an old resident and one of the most highly respected women of the community, passed away Thursday afternoon at her home on Sugartree street, her death following a long illness. Mrs. Creeden came from County Cork, Ireland, with her husband when they were young in life and experience. Her husband died in New York soon after their landing leaving her with four little children. In a strange land she fought the battle of life single-handed, earning a living for herself and little ones. She came to Wilmington in 1864 when her children were small and has since resided here. She leaves four daughters, Mrs. John Haley, Mrs. Mary Gorman, Mrs. Will Sliker and Mrs. Richard Egan, twelve grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren. Her funeral took place Saturday morning from St. Columbkille church, of which she was a devout member, solemn requiem high mass being conducted by Father Ertel assisted by Father Conroy, of Jamestown, and Farther Martin Malloy, of Loveland. This is the first occasion on which solemn requiem high mass has been celebrated in the new church.

I've always thought this was such an incredible story. Hannah's husband was Timothy Creeden and they were married in Clondrohid Parish, County Cork on Feb. 28, 1854. Hannah's maiden name was also Creeden. What the obituary doesn't mention is that her daughter Hannah (Mrs. Richard Egan) was born on the ship they came over on! Hannah and Timothy also had a son named Daniel who supposedly died during their voyage to the US.

I don't know the exact connection between this family and other Creedens in Clinton County, but I would guess that Hannah went from New York to Clinton County due to family ties. She must have been an incredible woman to raise her four daughters on her own after losing her husband and son.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Military Monday - Letter From Soldier Wounded in WWI

I've posted several times about the colorful military career of my great-grandfather's brother Edward Creeden. Edward enlisted in the US Army in 1904 from Salt Lake City, Utah. He listed his residence as Pueblo, CO and birthplace as Celina, OH.

Edward served in the Army until 1910 when he enlisted in the Marines at San Francisco, CA. His paperwork as a sharpshooter was transferred from the Army to the Marines. In October 1911, he mysteriously deserted his post in the Marines and reenlisted in the Army a few weeks later. He was honorably discharged from the Army in January 1915.

In August 1917, Edward joined the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. The Canadian records showed that he was wounded in France in April 1918 and lost his right leg due to a wound from a shell fragment in Arras, France.

An article in the Celina Democrat published on July 26, 1918 details a letter he wrote to his brother Joshua during his recovery. I found the article on the Chronicling America site


Edward Creeden, who has been in a war hospital in England as a result of a gunshot wound received April 20, while in service in France, has written an interesting letter to his brother Joshua, in care of his brother Charley in this city. He has been serving with the Canadian expeditionary forces, and is probably now on his way back to Canada minus his right leg. He has seen much army life, having served in the Phillippins, at Honolulu and along the Mexican border-- thirteen years in all. His letter shows he would like to be back in the war game. He has the proverbial American cheerfulness and fighting spirit, and takes his medicine that way. His friends, however, are sorry to hear of his misfortune.

I had wondered if Edward kept in touch with the family at all, so the article at least solves that mystery. It must've been quite a shock for them to get the news of his injury. I have a long list of places where Edward served, but I didn't know he served in Honolulu or the Mexican border.

I don't know if Edward got his wish to continue with his military service, but it seems unlikely. He was discharged from the Canadian forces as being medically unfit for duty in 1919. He listed his proposed next residence as St. Louis, MO, but I haven't found any records for him there so far.

A possible entry in the census places him in Sedgwick, KS in 1920 and from newspaper articles and his death certificate, I know he died in Newport, KY in 1937. I'm still trying to solve the mystery of what happened to Edward between 1919-1937.