Thank you Mr. Sabin for that Sunday - 49 years ago!
Monday, April 27, 2009
Thank you Mr. Sabin for that Sunday - 49 years ago!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
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.
Friday, April 17, 2009
So slowly I read through the information:
Washington Death Certificates – 1907-1960
Death Date: 07 Dec 1914
Seattle, King, Washington
51 years 3 months 14 days
Birth year: 1863
Married – Jennette Bebensee
I was sure this was at least the same Gustave that appeared on the 1910 California Census. It took me a little bit to figure out if the birthday matched – geeeze - how many days in November, October and September are there? Ok, I'll admit it – I had to look it up. Oh my – that worked out to August 23, 1863 – my great grandpa was born on that date. I thought maybe I was just making it worked so I called my brother in Ohio and asked him to calculate it – he came up with the same. After looking up the Washington State Board of Health and finding out that they charge $32.00 for a death certificate, which I thought was extreme, I was a little hesitant about the cost. At long last to be so close and yet needing that document to let $32 stand in the way seemed kind of dumb – but what if I get it and it's not him - $32 is a lot to pay for some other Gustave. It only took a little nudge from my Mom though and I ordered it. Within 4 days I had the document in hand. I'm 99.9% positive that this is my great grandfather. There are a few elements that are missing that would really cinch it – his parents names are not on the document, apparently his wife, Jennette, either did not know or it was omitted.
You would think after so many years and generations of search that I would be doing the happy dance of joy in hip-hop style – to be the one that finally tracked this man down should be reason to shout it from the roof top – but for me it was bitter-sweet. An overwhelming feeling of grief came over me and I felt an unexplained pain settle into my heart. The news meant that he didn't die some tragic death in an earthquake. It did mean that he chose to start a new life – one that did not include his children. My thoughts went to my grandfather, his son, whose dancing blue eyes filled with tears as a boy, longing with all his heart to be reunited with his father who he loved so. I'm glad he didn't know – so glad he didn't know the truth................
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
My grandfather was just 7 years old when his father and older brother emigrated to the US in 1898. In a letter written in 1899 by my grandfather and his mother to his brother it tells of the how painful it was not to have his father there with them (see my post of December – to read the letter http://terri-thetiesthatbind.blogspot.com/2008/12/christmas-letter-to-nebraska-1899-from.html). The only memory of his father passed on were stories of how his father would take him to the docks in Hamburg to see the big ships that came in and out of the harbor. So in 1994 when I traveled with my parents to Germany it was a must see for my Mom who wanted to see what he so vividly remembered and told her about as a young girl. The docks and locks in Hamburg are an impressive site and I imagine in the early 1890's that it was just as impressive, especially to a little boy.
I think most of us have a grandiose idea of who our ancestors were, that they were honorable and noble people. With the disappearance of my great grandfather in 1906 it was assumed, since the last known residence was in San Francisco, that he must have died in the great earthquake disaster. Something just ate at me about this assumption and I began a quest for some record – anything that would prove that he was there. Searching through every website I could find on this disaster led me nowhere. One site claims only 500 people died in the earthquake. Other's say it's in the 1000's that died, not only from the earthquake itself but from the after effects such as fires, disease and shock. I've also read that the city tried to cover up how bad it really was because they were afraid people would not come there any more. I've searched through all the available hospital records and hotel registers that are available online. Nothing on Gustave Bebensee. Now I realize there were probably a lot of people that died that had no identification and that the conditions were such that possibly there were inconsistencies in the records. But, I just felt he had to have friends or people that he worked with that would report him missing or that would send a letter to the family of his demise – there was nothing.
As I mentioned before I never neglect to look for three particular individuals when I search any genealogy site – my great grandparents the Bebensee's and my grandfathers sister Greta. To my surprise one day up pops the 1910 census with a Gustav Bebensee living in Los Angeles, California. Could it be I thought? I was kind of shaking as I read the information. The age was about right -he was German and emigrated in 1898 – oh my gosh that matches too. But it could still just be a coincidence. I'm sure there could be other Gustave Bebensee's out there – however, when I read the occupation “decorator” - which was what my great grandfather had trained for in Germany and that was his occupation as an adult – I really felt this could be him. Right down to my bones I suspected it was him.
Now if the census had said his occupation was something more common, like farmer, I might have dismissed it, but, decorator – come on – really could there be so many coincidences?
The surprise on the census was that there was a wife listed – Jennette Bebensee – and it stated they had been married for 5 years. That would put their marriage around 1905 -hmmmmm??
Join me again when I will share what I found that has brought me to tears and yet.........
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I'm a genea-holic! Are you?
You can determine if you are a genea-holic very simply - these are the known symptoms:
If there's a burning in the pit of your stomach, an ache in your heart and if the mystery of that elusive ancestor engulfs your every thought – then you are a genea-holic! We genea-holics search every available genealogy record we can find. A census report provides a map of clues into the life of our intended quest. We dig through court records, newspapers, periodicals, county history books and oh yes we even travel into the graveyards where ghost's and goblins hide. We read and reread old letters to search out any morsel of information we can find or have missed. Like a book you can't put down – we swear just one more chapter and we'll go to bed. But then we run across a tidbit that looks promising so we dig, dig, dig until that little glimmer of hope burns out and the trail again runs cold. So we slump off to bed – tired, exhausted and disappointed. We try to sleep but our mind keeps circling – round and round – trying to capture that keyword that we are overlooking. I am a genea-holic and I search for my ancestors that refuse to be found. But know this - I am persistent! – I will find you – if not today – then tomorrow.
I have been fortunate to have multiple success stories in my search for my ancestors. Many I credit to the kindness of strangers who offer help through message boards. Some finds have just been luck, the right keyword and unexpected finds. I've been fortunate to find entire family links that I wasn't even looking for. But, through all my successes and the thrill of finding those elusive ancestors, I still walk away disappointed because in my quest I have been unable to locate the three people that have initiated most of my finds. Don't get me wrong - I'm ecstatic to have found my great great great grandparents and cousins I didn't know existed – but................ There is something different about these three people for me – I have such a longing to know what became of them and their families. It tugs at my heart strings and puts my mind on overload trying to find the right path to go down. Sometimes I think the world must have just swallowed them up or possibly an alien ship came down and whisked them away. Surely somewhere there is a record that indicates they existed?
Over the last 108 years various members of my family, some long gone now, have searched for my great grandfather. His last known residence was San Francisco in 1906. To the best of my knowledge the last word from him was when he sent money to my grandfather in Germany to help pay his passage to emigrate. The plan, as I understand it, was to meet my grandfather in Chicago where they would then travel by train to Elk Creek, Nebraska. My great grandfather never arrived – was he killed in the disaster of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake? For years my great aunt Emma tried to find him and there has been someone in every generation since that has looked for him.
I joined the search years ago when I wrote to the California Vital Records Department to search for a death certificate - I had them search a 20 year range (1906-1926)– to no avail. I contacted the San Francisco Historical Society – nothing. I've searched through numerous 1906 earthquake websites – nothing. Then about 2-3 years ago I stumbled across the 1910 California census report for Los Angeles, California.
Join me again as I tell of my remarkable find. A find that not only made me do the happy dance of joy but also brought sadness.............
Thursday, April 9, 2009
F/O Willis F. Evers
My submission for the 12th Edition of Smile For the Camera - A Noble Life is of my Uncle Willis Evers - I hope you will take time to read my submission for "The Carnival of Genealogy - Uncle-Uncle" - under my title of "Going Home - The Unexpected - Parts 1-10" - that tells his story.
I couldn't quiet figure out why my Mom was calling me on that day in 1989 - our conversation went something like this:
Me: - Hello – oh hi Mom, what are you doing?”
Mom – You're never going to
Me - ?????????
Mom – I still can't believe it!
Me - ???????
Mom – Are you sitting down yet?
Me - (now fearing
something terrible has happened) Just tell me whats wrong.......
Mom – We
just got a call from your Uncle Ray
Me - ??????????
Mom – We don't know
all the details yet, but, he just got a call from the Army -
They have found
Willis' plane and will be bringing him home......
Me – What? You've got to
The phone lines were hot that day with the news traveling from state to state letting everyone know that Willis' plane had been found. It was a shock, but, plans were made quickly to meet in Nebraska for his return.
In 1986 a surveyor, walking through the jungle on the island of New Britain near the village of Ulagunan, unexpectedly discovered the wreckage of a P38-F Lightning. For 43 years the plane and its contents had been undisturbed. This discovery would put an end to the mystery of what happened to F/O Willis F. Evers on November 2, 1943. It took another 3 years before the Army would notify our family of the discovery.
So on September 15, 1989 we gathered at “home” - brothers, sister, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends to welcome him home at last. Willis was laid to rest next to his parents John and Lena Evers at St. Peters Cemetery, Hildreth, Nebraska. Fifteen members from the 1st Infantry, Bravo Battery from Ft. Leavenworth, provided military pallbearers and the gunner group for the 21 gun salute. Fourteen Hildreth Veterans of Foreign Wars provided an honor guard. A flyover by F-4 Phantom jets flew over the ceremony tipping their wings as a final salute to a young WWII Pilot who had finally come home.
It was an unusual reunion to say the least. For those that knew Willis it brought back a variety of memories. From my aunties I learned how he would give them rides on his motorcycle, they were just young girls, but oh how they loved that. In my fathers eyes I could see the pain that still lingered there and how time had not erased the memory of that long ago day in 1943 when he learned his brother was MIA. But, I could also sense his relief knowing what happened to him.
We welcomed Uncle Willis home and hope he can now rest in peace in the arms of God and his parents in heaven..........
May he forever soar with the eagles
Thank you to the Nebraska TV stations for sharing the film footage!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Dear Willis Evers,
Once more I am going to write to you and see what can be found out of your whereabouts, for on the 10th of Nov. we were advised you were missing since Nov. 2nd over New Britton, But. Dorothy Dwinel says she can not believe it saying that the 4th her husband said you were made 2nd Lieutenant and everything was well. Now what shall we think Missing in action can mean many a different thing. The suspense for us is great in not knowing what has happened at Boganvile as 14 were reported gone down on the 2nd day of November and 2 of them had reported again some time later rather came back so to say. Just wonder has some ones name bin changed with yours of what may it be that gives this big scare and grief. We have bin hoping and praying for your safe return ever since and oh how we would like to hear or see a sense of life from you agin. The account of you from the 25th must have bin printed from coast to coast also on the radio networks.
Now please if it is possible for you to let us hear of you agin as the suspense is terrible and on our nerves.
Please let us know what has taken place out there......
Your Father and Mother
“ Louis Schriber and his wingman, Flight Officer Willis
Evers, were behind Cragg over Simpson Harbor and followed him down in the bounce
on the climbing Zeros. Schriber's burst missed the Zero he had aimed at, but he
could see Evers set fire to his target and the Zero fell off in a spin to crash
in the harbor. Schriber kept diving and fired at another Zero which began
smoking but disappeared when the P38 passed over it.When he looked around
again Schriber could not find Evers, so he decided to leave the area and get out
into St. George's Channel to the southeast. Other P38's covering were out there
and he joined them. Another Zero had popped up on the way and Schriber shot its
tail assembly off.”
December 2, 1943 a letter arrives from Lt. Allen Hill and Lt. Dwinell - and the hope of Willis' return begins to fade..........
So why are we gathering 47 years later? Join me as I continue the story in Part 10........
(do not reproduce letters of pictures - they are privately held)
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
About six different Japs shot at me. Incidentally I was flying my own plane. It was just assigned to me. It's an old plane but it flies good. It sure saved me from a long swim back.
Captain Ruff, a pilot who went back home from this
squadron has your address. He is to drop you a line