Mary Evelyn Frederick’s SS-5

An update on Mary Evelyn Sorenson, the daughter of Alfred and Mae Sorenson. Between Ancestry’s Social Security Applications and Claims Index database and the death certificate of the person who had that Social Security Number, I had an idea that I’d found what had happened to my first cousin twice removed. However, her death certificate did not list parents, so I wasn’t certain that I had records for the right person.

In July I requested the Social Security SS-5 for the person with Mary’s Social Security Number. That’s the original application for a social security number. It has date of birth and parents on it usually. Here’s what I got:

SS-5 - Mary Evelyn Fredericks
SS-5 – Mary Evelyn Fredericks

Many of the items in this application match what I know about Mary Sorenson:

  • Father’s full name.
  • Mother’s first name.
  • Approximate year of birth.
  • Place of birth.
  • Name matches the name of Mae Sorenson’s daughter in the daughter’s announced marriage to George Grantzow.

That’s a lot of matching points. And unless someone took over her identity it’s the same woman who died in 1990, the S.S.N. and date of birth match the death certicate. I’m considering it pretty safe to assert these are all the same person.

Armed with that information, I was able to find a marriage record for Mary Evelyn Sorenson and Herbert George Fredericks in Los Angeles from 1935.

Marriage certificate for Herbert Fredericks and Mary Sorenson
Marriage certificate for Herbert Fredericks and Mary Sorenson

For some reason, Mary Sorenson thought her mother’s maiden name was Radtke. The other indication I have for Mae’s maiden name comes from Mae’s marriage record, which gave her name as Gibbons. She was raised in an orphanage, so I don’t know how accurate either name is.

I can start to put together a timeline for Mary Sorenson now:

Date Event Place Source
9 Mar 1914 Birth Madison, Wisconsin Death certificate
1 Jan 1920 Census, recorded living with parents Madison, Wisconsin 1920 US Census
8 Sep 1935 Marriage to Herbert George Fredericks Los Angeles, California Marriage certificate
24 Feb 1937 Residence Redondo Beach, California SS-5
1 Apr 1940 Census, living with Herbert Fredericks Inglewood, California 1940 US Census
23 Nov 1943 Marriage to George William Grantzow Unknown, but announced in Madison, Wisconsin Two announcements in the Wisconsin State Journal
23 Jan 1948 Divorce from George Grantzow Madison, Wisconsin News in Wisconsin State Journal
7 Jun 1948 Marriage to James “Shorty” Reigle Dubuque, Iowa Announcement in Wisconsin State Journal
1 Nov 1949 Marriage license with James “Shorty” Reigle Madison, Wisconsin Announcement in Wisconsin State Journal
18 May 1951 Divorce from James Reigle Madison, Wisconsin News in Wisconsin State Journal
7 Jun 1951 Divorce from James Reigle vacated Madison, Wisconsin News in Wisconsin State Journal
26 Mar 1952 Divorce from James Reigle Madison, Wisconsin News in Wisconsin State Journal
May 1956 Name under Frances Marie Sorenson U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007
Oct 1956 Name under Frances Marie Newton U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007
Nov 1957 Name under Frances Marie Vonhauzer U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007
16 Nov 1958 Residence, name under Evelyn Tanner California Mother’s obituary in Capital Times
13 Oct 1990 Death, name as Frances Marie Newton Lynwood, California Death certificate

There’s still a lot of gaps in her life that I could research and document, in addition to better documenting the known events.

  • how and when did her marriage to Herbert Fredericks end
  • what was the deal with incongruent marriage records for Mary and James Reigle
  • how did Mary get the name Evelyn Tanner, and did she marry to get that name
  • when and where did she change her name to Frances Marie
  • did she marry to acquire the surname Newton
  • did she marry to acquire the surname Vonhauzer

Ysola Chaves Ryan’s Sensational Will Contest

It’s no secret that I love a scandal in my family tree. These situations make for the best stories. I found this one involving my second great uncle Elgie Jerome Ryan earlier this week.

My second great grandfather’s first wife (my ancestor), Mary Parker, died in 1875. William Dennis Ryan re-married a year later to Mary Powers, and they had three children: Elgie Jerome, Glenn Alexis and Arch. William already had six children with Mary Parker: Alice, Frances, Mary, Julia, Laura, and Leo. Glenn and Arch died before age 30. Over the years, Elgie lived with his siblings in Merrill and Colorado before moving west to Tulare, California and establishing a very successful drug store.

Elgie’s first wife was Barta Holford, who was from Bloomington, Wisconsin, just a few miles away from the Ryan farm. Elgie married Barta on 22 Aug 1905 at the Eastern Star Lodge in Bloomington. Shortly after that Elgie and Barta were established in Tulare.

The following are photos of Barta and Elgie taken from a family photo album.

Barta Holford Ryan (left) with Allie Ryan (right)
Barta Holford Ryan (left) with Allie Ryan (right)
Ryans in Tulare (Elgie in back right)
Ryans in Tulare (Elgie in back right)

Elgie died on 28 Jun 1926 in Tulare. The following obituary appeared in the Bloomington Record on 7 Jul 1926. I suspect the obituary is in the public domain, but out of caution I have included only the parts necessary to my story. Notice anything about the obituary? There is no information about who his second wife was.

Until this week, that’s all the information I had. It wouldn’t be too difficult to get Elgie’s death certificate to find that out, but I hadn’t yet gotten around to it. Last time I spent much time researching Elgie, I didn’t have access to too many California newspapers. But I recently upgraded to the “Publisher Extra” service at Ancestry’s web site, which includes the Los Angeles Times. On a whim, I’d searched for “E. J. Ryan” and the following article from the 2 Mar 1927 edition of the Times showed up:

Headline from article on suit over Elgie Ryan will
Los Angeles Times, 2 Mar 1927, section 2 page 11 col 6, Sensational Will Contest

Now that’s juicy! I’ve included only the headline under fair use. Additional information that the article gave me included his second wife’s name (Ysola Chaves Ryan) and that an autopsy found poison in Elgie’s body! The death was ruled a suicide.

That was enough information for me to track down their marriage record on FamilySearch. I’ve no idea why I wasn’t able to find it earlier. They got married on 22 Mar 1925 in Los Angeles. Other articles in the Times say that Ysola was a teacher in the Tulare schools at the time of her marriage, but she appears to have resided in Los Angeles most of the time. Her sister was Mignon Le Brun, wife of silent film actor Cullen Landis.

Even stranger, at the time of Elgie’s death, Ysola may have left him and returned to Los Angeles. She maintained that Elgie didn’t commit suicide, but instead consumed strychnine accidentally. Now, it seems odd to me that a druggist, even a despondent one in ill health, would commit suicide in one of the most painful ways possible (strychnine) rather than a relatively painless one such as an overdose of morphine.

Eventually though, the courts ruled for Ysola Ryan that she was entitled to the entirety of the $118,000 estate ($1.6 million in 2016), and Elgie’s death remained a suicide officially, denying Ysola the benefits of Elgie’s life insurance. From the 5 Mar 1927 edition of the Santa Ana Register:

Santa Ana Register headline on resolution of suit of Elgie Ryan's will
Santa Ana Register, 5 Mar 1927, page 12, column 4, Wife of Suicide Awarded Estate

Ysola doesn’t appear to have remarried, dying in 1964 under the name Ysola Chaves Ryan.

Bowie and Prince as the Little Prince

With the death of two music icons recently, I’ve seen this image floating around the internet. It imagines David Bowie and Prince as the Little Prince. For those looking for the origins of the image, here’s the information in one place.

The Bowie side is a modification of Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s depiction of David Bowie as the Little Prince, created shortly after his death. Click the link to go to the original. The image is linked to his Facebook post.

David Bowie imagined as The Little Prince
Jarrett J. Krosoczka

The Prince side is a modification of Sean Gregory Miller’s image from a couple years ago. The image is linked to the original on DeviantArt.

Prince imagined as The Little Prince
Sean Gregory Miller

Images copyright by the artists and included here in small sizes only to provide enough visual idea to identify the pieces.

Alfred Jaquith dies in Mexico City

Because I research descendants of my ancestors, I get to learn about a lot more jurisdictions than I would were I to be researching ancestry only. My first cousin three times removed, Clara Josten, married an Alfred C. Jaquith. He was a businessman, and operated in Merrill Wisconsin, Des Moines Iowa, Dubuque Iowa, and Denver Colorado at various times. The Denver Public Library has an index of obituaries that appeared in the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, so I knew that Alfred died in late September 1927. I haven’t actually looked up those obituaries yet, and I assumed he’d died in or around Denver.

That appears not to be the case, however. now has index to civil death registrations from Mexico City, which is based on the death registration images from’s Mexico, Distrito Federal, Civil Registration, 1832-2005. FamilySearch’s index does not seem to be as extensive as Ancestry’s.

Ancestry’s index led me to this death registration for Alfred Jaquith.

Alfred Christian Jaquith death registration

It’s the same Alfred Jaquith. While I can’t read Spanish, there are references to Clara Kuchenberg (Clara’s step-father was Mathias Kuchenberg), Denver, and the dates match up with the obituary index.

So now I’m going to have to start learning a bit about Mexican genealogy records.

Header image Cathedral taken by Jeff Kramer (CC By).

Pedigree – color coded by birth place

I’ve seen this on a couple other genealogy blogs recently, and for once a meme has piqued my interest. The idea is to take a pedigree chart and color code the people in it by place of birth. The following is mine. Note that this is not the extent of my known pedigree; it’s the part where I’ve documented birth places.

my pedigree chart, color coded by place of birth

Mine is all over the map. After coming to America, most of my family didn’t stay long in one place before moving on for more opportunity. Sweden, Wisconsin, and Washington are the places with the largest number of people. Not surprisingly, those are the areas I’m most familiar with researching.

Additionally, all my German ancestors immigrated before German unification. They came from countries like the Kingdom of Hanover, Bavaria, and Prussia, which is more complex research than Denmark or Sweden. Each of those states that became part of the German empire recorded information differently. A couple of relatives were born in the Province of Canada, that short-lived colony that predated Ontario.

With this many places, a genealogist has to become familiar with a lot of locations. In some ways, I envy people whose families stayed in one area for generations. On the other hand, I get a much greater variety of stories.

Anne Falconer (1926-2014)

I started working on my family history in 2010 at the request of my grandparents. I poked around for a while at my father’s side of the family. No one alive knew about our history before my great grandfather, Joseph Weiss. His father, Anton Weiss, died in 1910, and his mother, Clara Voigt, died in 1915. She had moved to California to reside with her children there.

That was family that none of us knew about any more.

I researched Anton and then began working on his descendants. Through that work and a little bit of serendipity, I got in contact with Anne Falconer. She is a great grandchild of Anton and Clara. Because Clara had gone to live with the California children, Anne had her photo album.

After emailing a few times, Anne very kindly made copies of the photos and mailed them to me. She even sent a 150 year old print of a photo of Joseph Weiss as a very young boy. The photos she sent were the first visual depiction of many of my family that I’d ever seen. The following was taken at Anton and Clara’s 50th wedding anniversary.

Anton and Clara Weiss 50th wedding anniversary group photo
Anton and Clara Weiss 50th wedding anniversary

I was browsing Find A Grave this morning and came across a memorial for Anne. She died a year ago. I never met her, but she was a help and inspiration for me early on in this pastime.

Old Time Newspaper Wankery

Newspapers didn’t always have pretensions to be objective. In the 1800s, they were often small operations. They printed mostly gossip. They were explicitly Democratic or Republican and received support from their party. In smaller cities, they were extensions of the publisher, who also served as editor and reporter as well. A newspaper was much like a blog today as far as its personality, including feuding.

In the 1880s, Springfield Illinois had two main newspapers, the Illinois State Journal and the Illinois State Register, as well as Sangamo Monitor. They were not friends.

From the Illinois State Journal, 11 July 1881, page 6:

Scooped, Illinois State Journal


With fiendish glee the Register and Monitor yesterday morning announced the death of Coleman Woods, the colored man who was sun-struck Wednesday. — Journal.

Just so: and the lazy Journal reporters would have made the same announcement, if they had been abroad, in search of news. They were safely housed, however, compiling from an old almanac the “best methods of preventing sun-stroke” and did not encounter the report of Wood’s death, which was prevalent throughout the city, and which was generally believe until the next day. Indolence is not always without its compensations, as is manifested in this case — Register.

“Just so” and if the over-enterprising reporters for the Register, who fiendishly declared that live men are dead, “had been abroad in search of news,” instead of remaining “housed up” in the effort to frame the above lame defense of an utterly indefensible action, they might have announced the three cases of sunstroke which occurred on Friday; the fact that two men were overcome by poisonous gases in the Court House well on the same day, and they also might have given a history of the operations of the counterfeiters, sentenced to the penitentiary by Judge Treat. Or if they had not been “housed up” Saturday, they might have been able to announce the interesting decision given by Judge Zane in the German American Savings, Loan & Building Association litigation, which the Journal presents this morning. “They were safely housed up, however,” and were consequently “scooped” by “the lazy Journal reporters,” just as they are again this morning. The fact of the matter is that the Journal is continually “scooping” its cotempories. The Journal is not afflicted with toadyism; it does not deal in “Personal and other Reflections,” but eschews personalities for the sake of legitimate news.

3 Ways to Tell if Your Distaste For Hillary Clinton is Sexist

3 Ways to Tell if Your Distaste For Hillary Clinton is Sexist

Implicit messages are more insidious because they are consumed and deployed beyond the realm of consciousness. We need not think deeply to identify the racism in Donald Trump’s depiction of Mexican immigrants as rapists or the sexism of his asking if Megyn Kelly’s tough questions were due to her being on her period. Identifying subtler racist and sexist cues is more challenging, however, because no one is immune to these subtleties, even those among us who have engaged in personal and public anti-racist and anti-sexist work.


Philip Helfer is Phil Hartman

Recently, while tracking down the family of my great great grandmother, Maria Hein (Mrs. William Solle), I looked into her sister, Mrs. Anna Helfer.

On 9 Sep 1887, a Philip Halfer committed suicide in Springfield. The next day, both the Illinois State Journal and the Illinois State Register ran lengthy news reports on his death. I’ll write another post later about the circumstances of the suicide. However, there were two pieces of information in the Journal’s report that compel me to write before I’ve completed much additional work.

The Journal’s report does not give Mrs. Halfer’s name. She is merely referred to as Mrs. Halfer. But it does say she is a sister of Mr. Charles Warner of East Springfield. Emilia Kibele’s obituary lists her siblings, including Mrs. William Solle, Mr. Charles Werner, and Mrs. Anna Helfer. It appears that suicidal Philip Halfer is the husband of my 3rd great aunt, Anna Hein. I love it when I can piece things together and make a connection.

The second intriguing things was the item title: “Philip Hartman Finds Rest”. Throughout the article, the text refers to Philip Halfer. Philip Hartman sounded odd, but sometimes Springfield newspapers of the time were sloppy with spelling. Indeed, every other record gives the surname Helfer rather than Halfer, and his grave marker spells his first name as Philipp. Perhaps the paper was even sloppier than I thought. However, I didn’t completely read the article because the quality of the microfilm scan degrades toward unreadable the further down the page one goes. But it isn’t all unreadable:

Philip Hartman Finds Rest
While contemplating suicide the day before his death he told Mr. John T Rhodes that his real name was Hartman and not Halfer.

Now that’s an intriguing tidbit! I’ve already got my great grandfather’s unexplained name from Öman to Hallin and the mystery switch of Mary Evelyn Sorenson to Frances Marie Newton. Now I can add the mystery of Philip Hartman to Philip Halfer. (More on the spellings later…)

Charles Teasdale and Mae Vonasek in travel records

In my Voigt family tree, I have a second cousin twice removed named Charles William Teasdale. He was born in 1896 in Cassville, Wisconsin, the town my great great grandfather Anton Weiss lived in, and grew up there until the early 1910s. In 1913 his mother Clara Voigt died, and in 1914 his father Alonzo B. Teasdale died. Charles and his brother Harold made their way to the Chicago area, where Charles married Mae Alice Vonasek in 1920, whose father had also died while she was young.

Charles became involved in an evangelical church as well, and this is where the genealogy gets interesting. In 1924, Charles and Mae went to Kijabe in the British Kenya Colony and became missionaries. The key records for many of my relatives are census records. Not so with the Teasdales. Their missionary work kept them out of the U.S. during the 1930 and 1940 U.S. Censuses. However, they left a long trail of migration records with frequent exits from the U.S., transit through the United Kingdom, returns to the U.S., and even one stop in Brazil.

In 1924, the first left Oak Park, Illinois for Kenya, traveling via New York and Southampton, England. They returned in 1931 with one child, traveling through Bremen, Germany and re-entering the U.S. at New York.

1924 Southampton passenger arrival manifest
1924 Southampton passenger arrival manifest

In 1933, they again left Oak Park for Kenya. They also traveled through Southampton, England on their way to British East Africa. The family returned in 1938 via Le Havre, France, this time with two additional children.

They only stayed until 1940, when they again went to Kenya. This time they traveled via Rio de Janero, I assume in part because World War II made travel through Europe too dangerous. The Brazilian records for their 6 day stay in Rio included the passport photos used at the top of this post.

In 1947, they came back to the U.S. again. This time they embarked in Mombasa, British East Africa and sailed directly to New York City on the Great Falls Victory cargo ship.

Great Falls Victory
Great Falls Victory

The pair left again in 1949, this time traveling back to Kijabe through Southampton, England back. They returned in 1955, flyinf Pan American Airlines from London.

And in 1957 they left the U.S. for Kenya for at least the 5th time.

U.S. and U.K. passenger manifests after about 1960 are not public, so I don’t know how many more times they passed through our borders. Nowadays international travel is much more common, but back then it was rare. This currently the largest amount of travel records I’ve got for one couple in my family tree.

Mae Vonasek Teasdale died in Kijabe in 1970 and is buried in the cemetery nearby. Charles remarried in 1972 before retiring to a retired missionaries community in Florida where he died in 1985. I haven’t read up on the Africa Inland Mission in Kijabe, so I don’t know how integral the Teasdale’s were to their work, but they obviously spent a lot of time there. At least two of Charles children became missionaries, and there are several more generations after them. As some of them are alive, I’ve not written any identifying information about them.

Teasdale travel map