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

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Quest of a Genea-Holic Update Continued

Searching for my great grandfather, P.H. Gustave Bebensee, has been a real adventure, with many highs and lows in the quest. I sometimes think he is leaving me little tidbits of information because it's time that our family knows the truth about his disappearance. Whatever the case may be it's been interesting and I've talked to a lot of wonderful and helpful people along the way.
I begin where I left off in my last up-date:
I couldn't read Mr. Sysons email fast enough and my eyes blurred as he told of his discovery. Gustave Bebensee had attended the Nile Temple in Washington on January 11, 1911, and there on page 7, was his signature. How in the world Mr. Syson located this record is beyond me, it had to take many hours. The kindness of a complete stranger to do this is overwhelming. Along with the signature was another clue. Gustave wrote that he was a member of the Murat Temple in Indianapolis, Indiana. Indianapolis? One thing I find interesting about his signature is the cross on the letter “B” in Bebensee. I'm curious if this was the artist in him or if there is something significant in the Christian symbolism. Mr. Syson indicated to me that since Gustave was a member of the Murat Temple that this would lead me down a new path. He tells me that the Murat Temple is made up of the Scottish Rite, which from my understanding descends from the Knights of Templar. So I will try to do more research on this.
The information that Gustav was living in Indianapolis again lead me to “Ask a librarian”. I contact the Library in Indianapolis and I received an answer from them in just 2 days. The librarian searched through the city directory for the years 1898-1910 and was able to locate an address for him. Again, the information provided with the directory verified for me that this was my great grandfather. His address was listed in the 1907 Indianapolis City Directory as:
Bebensee, Gustave, Decorator, 408 Unity Bldg, 1224 College Avenue
Wanting to see if the address was still valid I did a quick search through map-quest. Unfortunately, today the house is gone and Interstate 85 goes right over top of where it was. The listing of his profession as “decorator” is one that appears on all the records I have found to date. Gustave Bebensee was a trained artist and from my understanding was a muralist. I keep hoping that one day some of his work will turn up. I'd love to see it.
Mr. Syson also contacted the Murat Temple for me to see if they had any additional information on Gustave, and they did! They showed him as dropped NPD, which means “non payment of dues”, now during this period of time many members could not afford to keep up their dues. I also contacted the Murat Temple and was unable to get any other information. I did notice on their website that they have a genealogy department, so I'm going write to them and see if an application or more information may be tucked away.

This new information has answered another question also. The only photograph that we have of him was taken in Indiana and I often wonder when and why a photo was taken there. My thought is that this photograph had to have been taken around 1899. The reason that I've come to that conclusion lies in a photograph taken of my grandfather at the age of 8. The photo apparently was taken in the home of grandpa's aunt and uncle, who lived in Schwerin, Germany. On the wall behind my grandfather hangs the very same photograph of his father that we have.

So this is what I know so far:
P.H. Gustave Bebensee emigrated from Hamburg, Germany with his eldest son Hans in 1898. After arriving in the U.S. He traveled to Nebraska to his sister, Emma Haack's home and left his son there. Hans was 10 years old and to the best of my knowledge never saw his father again.
A photograph was taken in Indiana, approximately 1899.
Somewhere along the way he met and married a woman who's first name is Jennette. They were married about 1905, while he was still married to his first wife Maria. He left Maria in Hamburg with his 3 youngest children. I have no maiden name for Jennette, but do know from the 1910 census that she was born in Ohio. And that there is a possible tie to the J.C. Austin family from Washington.
In late 1905 or early 1906 he sent money to help his son, my grandfather, emigrate to the U.S. Before he would be forced to join the military. The family story is that he was living in San Francisco at that time. Which I have no evidence to prove one way or another.
In 1907 he was living in Indianapolis, Indiana. And I think he was living there until somewhere around 1908-1910.
In 1910 he appears on the Los Angeles, California census.
By 1912 he has relocated yet again. Now to Seattle, Washington where he appears in the R. L. Polk Seattle City Directory: Bebensee, Gustave (Jennette), decorator at 1229 Avenue North, Seattle, Washington. He also appears in the 1914 edition at the same address, only his occupation is now listed as electrician.
He contracts acute miliary tuberculosis and dies on December 7, 1914.
His funeral expenses and cremation are paid for by Alki Lodge #152, Seattle, Washington. The Bonney Watson Company was the mortuary that handled his remains and service.
His remains are in an unmarked grave at the Lake View Cemetery in Seattle. (Grave #11 – Section 15 – D20-B.)

With time I hope additional information will appear as it has over the last year. And I hope to someday know all the answers to my questions. If I could just get a maiden name for Jennette, I know it would provide me with more clues.


  1. You do such great things with posting your research. And how wonderful to have old pictures and know who they are!. I enjoy your blog.

  2. Thank you! I wish I could identify all the photo's I have. There are stacks with no idendification - but I hang onto them just in case one comes along that is marked. Yes I'm a pack-rat. LOL



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