Saturday, July 25, 2009

Learning From the Dead

(From Bruce)

Well, now that the trip is done and life begins to go back to some sense of normality I begin the daunting task of cataloging all this information. My first seven documents gave me 22 new pieces of information. I still have an awful lot to go through and will eventually get it all put into my database.

I shared with you all the good and the bad characters in my family tree and that was at least interesting. I am learning facts now from my dead ancestors and while they may not be quite as interesting I still am learning. One example was from the death certificate of my great grandmother Julia Downing Mencer. Before our trip I knew the month and year of her birth and that was it. Now I know the following:

Her date of birth was Dec 27, 1855
Her date of death was May 11, 1923
The cause of her death was liver cancer that she had suffered with for two years
She died in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

From another mortuary record I learned that her parents were indeed who I thought they were...John Downing and Delila Breeding.

For a long time now, I have pondered over old stories from 1901 that were in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel about a William Mencer. I was never sure if it was my great grandfather, my grandfather or (hopefully) some other William Mencer. Several pieces of information caused my doubt. One was that the William Mencer in these articles was a carpenter and I had found no evidence that my great grandfather ever was one. Another one was that I had record of an unrelated William Mencer in that area during that time. The articles that I had found online did not include the finding of the court either. I found that information at the Allen County Library in an old copy of the newspaper. William Mencer was found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced to an additional 30 days in jail. Then I found a copy of the divorce record for my great grandparents in 1910. In the transcript Julia states that William had been in jail for embezzlement and she also mentioned that he made his living as a carpenter. Once again 2+2=4.

I found on a marriage certificate for William's second marriage a second reference to his father being named John. This document also listed his mother, heretofore always listed as unknown, as Catherine Hoffman born in Germany. Perhaps with this new information I can find William somewhere prior to 1880 when he is living in Monroeville. To this point though, no such luck.

I am also still trying to find that elusive "Indian" story documentation. I have heard it as a child, I have heard different versions from other branches of the Mencer family but I cannot get ahold of any fact to verify it.

Have any of you heard a story about our Mencers being born as American Indians? My story includes the name of Godfroy as the original name later changed to Mencer for some reason.

Feel free to comment and list your version of the story.

Thanks for reading

More to come...

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