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

Researching family in Madison

Monday I spent most of the day at the Wisconsin Historical Society looking through their microfilmed newspapers. Mostly I was looking for obituaries and a couple of marriage announcements that happened in Cassville and Glen Haven Wisconsin. They have a rather large collection of Wisconsin newspapers, as well as a few newspapers from elsewhere in the country.

The most important item I sought was an obituary for William Dennis Ryan, my 2nd great grandfather. I found his grave last year, so I knew he died in 1919. A brief mention of his death in a Colorado newspaper (where several children lived) narrowed the time frame to some time before the end of August. The nearest town with a newspaper was Bloomington. At the time, the Bloomington Record was a weekly newspaper. So I started at the last issue of August and worked backward. Found it. Which means I now have a date and location for his death.

William Ryan obituary
William Ryan obituary

I also found obituaries for Mary Weiss, Agnes Weiss, Peter Voigt, Gertrude Voigt, Alonzo Teasdale, Clara Teasdale, James Ryan, Elgie Ryan, Archie Ryan, Glenn Ryan and Martha Klaus.

On Wednesday, I stopped in at the Dane County Register of Deeds to pick up some vital records. I requested the death certificates for Alfred and Mae Sorenson as well as their marriage certificate and the birth certificate for their daughter Evelyn. They found the first three, but no birth certificate. I was hoping the death certificates would have information on Evelyn, but they did not. The marriage certificate gave me Mae’s maiden name, Gibbons. Though since she was a ward of the state as a child, I don’t know if that name is that of her parents or was given to her in some other manner.

Alfred Sorenson - Mae Gibbons marriage certificate
Alfred Sorenson - Mae Gibbons marriage certificate

Theoretically, everyone born in Dane County after 1907 should have a birth record on file. However, a fair number of births never were registered. I know Evelyn was born in 1914, but I don’t know the exact date. In Alfred and Mae’s obituaries, Evelyn was listed as living in California. She was on her 4th marriage at the time, but I haven’t found any reference to her after 1958. With an exact birth date, I could list everyone in the Social Security Death Index with her date of birth whose first name matches, and could figure out which one was her. There’s also an outside chance she’s still alive as well. Sadly none of the Sorensons born in 1914 matched her.

I found out one really nice thing about Dane County: I can actually search through their records myself. All I had to do is fill out a form, give them a piece of ID, and they let me peruse through the records without supervision. The Wisconsin Historical Society has pretty liberal access policies too. No ID needed. Just walk back among the microfilm stacks, pull out what you need, and start looking. The King County vital records office, by comparison, works behind a glass partition.

Anton and Clara Weiss 50th anniversary

On occasion I’ve contacted distant relatives when I find contact information for them. That’s been somewhat hit or miss. One big hit though was last month I contacted someone who turned out to be the cousin of Anne Klindt Falconer. Anne would be my second cousin once removed. That means she and my father shared great grandparents.

My second great grandparents were Anton Weiss and Clara Voigt Weiss. After Anton died in 1911, Clara moved to California and lived with her daughter Celia. Clara’s photo album went into Celia’s hands when she died in 1915. Her daughter Agnes took the album after Celia died, and Agnes’ niece Anne took the album when Agnes passed away.

Anne sent me copies of the photos. This one is from Anton and Clara’s 50th anniversary in 1906. Seated in the center are Clara and Anton Weiss. Standing behind Clara is, I believe, my great grandmother Frances Weiss holding my grandfather, 2 year old George Archibald Weiss. (click for larger version)

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

The Cassville Index reported on the event. (Back then, the small town newspapers reported on who you had over to dinner.)

Golden Wedding

In Regensberg, Bacaria, on February 27, 1827, Anton Weiss was born. And near Cologne, Germany, Clara Voigt first saw the light of day on May 2, 1833. They both came to America in the same year, 1852, although they never met until within a few weeks of their marriage, Mr. Weiss spending some time in the east and was also in business in Dubuque before he came to Cassville in 1855 in company with Gustav Candler and William Schmitz. He formed a partnership with Mr. Schmitz and for seven years conducted the Cassville brewery and also a hardware store; when they dissolved Mr. Weiss retained the hardware business which he successfully conducted until he retired about fifteen years ago. Anton Weiss and Miss Clara Voigt were married by the late J.H.C. Sueclode, Esq., August 17, 1856, in the house now occupied by Thos. Williams, then owned by Jehn Berhardt Sr. (deceased), and standing on site of Mrs. Bernhardt’s present residence. In that house for a few months Mr. Weiss and his bride lived until their own home was ready, and since then their home has been continuously where they still reside although the building has been continuously enlarged and improved from time to time. TO bless the worthy couple were good sons and dutiful daughters and all now living, except the eldest daughter, were at the Golden Wedding last Friday. Robert was the first born, then Cecelia (now Mrs. Henry Klindt,) they reside at North Ontario, California. Frank of Pukwana S.D.; Theodore J. of Madison, Wis.; Joseph P. of Merrill, Wisc.; Mary died in June, 1898; Clarissa now Mrs. C.F. Troeller of Larrabee, Iowa; the youngest child, their daughter Agnes, died July 21, 1903. Other members of the family in attendance were Mr.s Frank Weiss and children, Marion, Theodore and Agnes; Mrs. J. P. Weiss and children Marie, Glenn and Archie; Harold, Paul and Agnes Troeller; Mrs. Barbara Freidmann of Chicago; and the Cassville relatives: Mrs. G. Kuchenberg, Miss Gertrude Josten, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Kuchenberg and children Hilda and Joe; Peter Voigt; Mr. and Mrs A.B. Teasdale and sons Charles and Harold. Mr. and Mrs Gustav Canderl, who for fifty years have been next-door neighbors, were at the wedding-dinner which was prepared by Mr. Weiss’ niece Mrs. Friedmann, one of whose many accomplishments is that she is a most skillful cook, and her offer to perform this labor of love was highly appreciated by the guests. A number of handsome gifts, leather coach, oak rocker and pieces of Haviland china and other tableware and mementos of the golden wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. A. Weiss from their living family and friends.

Anne identified the Troellers in the photo. Charles Teasdale’s son is still alive. I found contact information for him online, and he responded when I requested his help identifying his family in the photo. I haven’t yet built the Kuchenberg part of my tree, so noone yet for me to contact regarding those identifications.

Group photo at Anton and Clara Weiss 50th anniversary, with labels identifying known people
Group photo at Anton and Clara Weiss 50th anniversary, with labels identifying known people