For Momma - Memorial Slide Show (Turn Playlist Music off before watching)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quest of a Genea-Holic - Part 4

A true genea-holic will not settle for just bits and pieces of information. Each document that is found is read and reread to find more clues. In the death certificate I learned that great grandpa Bebensee died from acute miliary tuberculosis. So of course I had to look up exactly what that was. Then I proceeded on to find out that in 1914 tuberculosis was in epidemic proportions in the Seattle area. A hospital was opened in Seattle, called Firwood, to help accommodate those with the disease. There are also lists of names of people who were admitted at Firwood. According to the death certificate, my great grandfather, died at home so I did not expect to find him on the patient list, however, I thought possibly his wife, Jennette, may have also contracted the disease, since it was so contagious, and that maybe she may have been at Firwood. But, I did not find any information about her there.
I next contacted the Seattle Library through ask-a-librarian, to see if they could find an obituary. Their response was surprisingly quick, although they did not find an obituary right away, they did locate Gustave and Jennette Bebensee in the R. L. Polk Seattle City Directory, for the years 1912 and 1914. So now I knew that sometime between 1910 and 1912 they had moved from Los Angeles to Seattle.
The 1912 directory lists them living at 1229 Third Avenue North. And Gustave's occupation is listed as interior decorator. In the 1914 directory, they still live at the same address, but, the occupation is listed as electrician. It appears that after 1914, Jennette, either moved away or possibly remarried.
The librarian, Mary, informed me it would take them about a week to find and obituary. Mary, not only found his death notice, but, also the obituary in the Seattle Intelligencer, on May 8th and May 10th respectively. I had hoped that there would be a full obituary, one that would outline his life history. Within in the obituary I did learn another tidbit though. Great Grandpa had been a Mason, and belonged to the Alki Lodge #152, F and A.M., and the Masons had sponsored his funeral. The Lodge was established in 1906 and is still in existence today. I have contacted them and am waiting to hear what they might find, if anything.

Seattle Intelligencer - December 8, 1914

"BEBENSEE - At the family residence, 1229 Third avenue north, December 7, 1914,
Gustave Bebensee, aged 57 years. Member F. and A.M. Announcement of funeral hereafter.
Remains at the parlors of Bonney Watson Company, Broadway at Olive Street, opposite
Broadway High School.
Seattle Intelligencer - December 10, 1914

"BEBENSEE - At the family residence, 1229 Third avenue north, December 7, 1914. Gustave Bebensee, aged 57 years. Member F. and A.M.
Funeral service will be held at the parlors of Bonney-Watson Company at Olive street, opposite Broadway High School, Sunday at 1 PM under auspices of Alki Lodge Number 152. F and A.M.
Brother Masons and friends are invited to attend. Internment at Lake View Cemetery."

The death certificate also revealed that he had been cremated and the undertakers name. They too are still in existence. I contacted Bonney-Watson Company in Seattle and spoke with a very nice woman by the name of Denise. She told me that unfortunately the records from those years are in very bad condition. But, she promised to see what could be found. Denise, advised me that he probably was buried at the Lake View Cemetery, and that I should try to contact them also.
Denise's guess was right! Upon contacting Lake View Cemetery, I found another kind woman, who looked through all of the records for me. When she did not find Bebensee, she did not give up, she continued checking by using the death date and variations in the spelling of Bebensee. Lo and behold, she found him, a misspelling of Bebensee to Bedensee was found. She gave me the location of his grave as, section 15, plot 11, D20B. I also learned from her that since my great grandfather had been a Mason, that was probably why he was buried at Lake View. The Lake View Cemetery was originally started by the Masons in 1872. At that time it was called The Seattle Masonic Cemetery. In 1890 the cemetery name was changed to Lake View Cemetery and is located in the Capital Hill area of Seattle. But, was there a tombstone?

A quick search through Find-A-Grave did not produce any results, however, I did locate a volunteer who maintains information on the Lake View Cemetery. His name is Nils Solsvik. I quickly shot off an email to Mr. Solsvik, and he kindly agreed to go to the cemetery and photograph the tombstone, if one was there. I was amazed when the very next day I received an email from him stating he had been to the cemetery. He had originally indicated to give him a week or so to accomplish it. Mr. Solsvik also searched through the cemetery records, to see if Jennette might also be buried there. Jennette, was not buried at Lake View Cemetery, at least not with the last name of Bebensee. From Mr. Solsvik, I learned that my great grandpa was not interned right away either. He was not buried for almost 5 months – on May 20, 1915. Why the delay? It's a puzzle – I'm guessing – lack of funds?

There was no tombstone, but, Mr. Solsvik took about 25 photographs of the area where he is buried and the surrounding area. I am very appreciative of Mr. Solsvik for going out of his way to take these photographs and for allowing me to share them with you. Seattle and Denver are many miles apart, and who knows if I would ever be able to go there to do this myself. A special Thank You to Mr. Solsvik – and the people who volunteer to lend a hand to others in this way!

I have contacted the Alki Lodge in Seattle and am anxiously awaiting news of anything they many be able to tell me. I'm told not to get my hopes up for any more information then that he was a member - but it's hard not to hope for more.
I want to take a moment to thank the many people who have helped in the search – Washington State Board of Health – Denise at Bonney Watson – Mary at Seattle Library, Ask A Librarian – Mary at Lake View Cemetery – Nils Solsvik a Find-A-Grave volunteer – and to James Tanner at Genealogy Star who prompted me to take a second look at the Family Search Pilot Program! Also, to Randy Seaver, who so kindly included me in his “Best of the Best” posts for mentioning my story.

I continue my search for Jennette in hopes that I can make some connection with her family. Always hoping that someone may know more of the secret life of Gustave Bebensee.

I hope that I will be able to share more with you all in the near future.

1 comment:

  1. You are a very persistent researcher. I like that. Leave no (tomb)stone unturned.



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