Saturday, July 23, 2016

2016 Weber Kuhn Reunion Announcement

          We’re happy to have another Weber Kuhn Reunion planned for August 27, 2106 at the Bolton Park in Beech Grove, Indiana.  These events are always very enjoyable.  It’s so much fun to have a chance to hang out with the family for an afternoon.   I’m posting the notice below.  Looking forward to visiting with the offspring of Bob and Emma Weber, Rose and Frank Niehaus, Gin and Ed Niehaus, Peg and Jim Stull, Dolly and Mel Holzer and Harry and Ruth Weber.   


2016 Weber Reunion Announcement on blog

    Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Family In The News: Clearing Up the Carroll DeJong and Alberta Weber Mystery

      We’re all curious about those partially-told family tales.  The ones that hold mystery.  We know just enough facts to wonder what’s behind them.  I had one particular piece of information passed along by relatives that’s been lingering around for quite a while.   Well…..recently I was able to clear up that lingering mystery.  
    Here’s the background:
       Carroll Stone DeJong married Alberta Clara Weber (my grandfather, Harry Lawrence Weber’s sister) on November 2, 1940 in Spencer, Indiana.  He was 49 and she was 32 at the time they married.  I had very little background on Carroll, other than he was from Chicago.  And it seemed that his time in the family was brief. The only hints I had earlier that this may be an unusual circumstance were that he is buried near Alberta in the Weber family plot at St. Joseph Cemetery in Indianapolis. And the death year of 1940 on his tombstone pointed out his young age at death.1940 Locomotive No. 1550, Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, Flickr, Part of: Everett L. DeGolyer Jr. collection of United States railroad photographs; No known copyright restrictions 
      The mysterious fact I had stored about Carroll’s life was merely a note about him being in a train wreck. The train wreck information was passed along in the family over a 75-year time frame. That’s all that remained of the story.  I presume that the circumstances and exact timing faded as time passed.  My mother never spoke of him.  My aunts who have helped me along with family history didn’t have any more details.  So that’s where this history stopped….until now.
     Investigating this lingering mystery:
     As I was recently gathering more ideas to spice up my “Family In The News” stories, I came across this train wreck note in Carroll DeJong’s record.  It sounded perfect for researching in, my latest obsession.  So, I fed in Carroll’s name, along with the location Indiana and 1940 as the time frame. I hit the search button, hoping for a hint to solve this mystery.  That’s when I found the surprising details of this newly-wed tragedy. 
     The news I found was of a horrible collision of Carroll and Alberta DeJong’s car with a train on November 30, 1940, in Benton County, Indiana.  The couple was married only one month.  Two articles appeared in The Indianapolis Star, on December 1 and 2.  The news was also carried in the Rushville (Indiana) Republican.  The articles describe the car being lodged under the train and dragged for several hundred feet. Mr. DeJong was thrown out and killed instantly and Alberta was wedged in the twisted wreckage for 90 minutes as rescuers worked to remove her.  From the description of the accident it’s surprising that Alberta survived. She was driving the automobile and didn’t remember any warning of the train.    Below are the two Indianapolis Star news articles:
1 Dec 1940: Chicagoan Dies In Grade Wreck --  Bride Extricated Alive After Car Is Dragged Several Hundred Feet  
Indianapolis Star, 1 Dec 1940, Carroll and Alberta (Weber) DeJong
2 Dec 1940:  Crash Victim’s Funeral Today  --  Carroll DeJong’s Bride of 4 Weeks Is In Lafayette Hospital
News: 2 Dec 1940, Alberta & Carroll DeJong, Indianapolis, IN-------------------------------------------------------------
       The mystery of the DeJong train wreck is no more.  The newspapers once again illuminated a piece of family history.   Even though this is a tragic event, it does bring another chapter of the family story into focus.   We know also that Alberta Weber DeJong recovered from her serious injuries.  She didn’t remarry.   Alberta came home to Indianapolis to live near her large family.  She died at the age of 86, 55 years after this tragic accident, and is buried next to Carroll.   
     Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,
Other stories related to this one:
Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

More About That Niehaus Cousins Photo With The Goat: Wordless Wednesday (Almost)

     Isn’t it great how an old photo can bring out family story details after many, many years!  This is what happened after my Wordless Wednesday post on June 22.  So I thought it would be fun to follow up with what I’ve learned with some help from my cousins. 

     My post was here: Whose Goat Is That? --- Niehaus Cousins, Donny, Billy & Diana --- .  Now we all know that photo is fantastic just as it is.  But I kept thinking about those questions I had about where and whose goat is was.  So I decided to email my cousins, Sharon and Evelyn, sisters of the little girl in the photo, Diana.  Sure enough, they each had more of the story behind that photo from 1943.  Let’s look at that picture again while getting the update from Evelyn and Sharon’s comments:

Niehaus Cousins, Donny, Billy & Diana

From Evelyn:  “I think that picture was at our house.  We had a goat, but back then a lot of people had them…. Thanks again. Love Evelyn”

From Sharon: “ I don't know a thing about the goat but my precious Mother always said that Dianna was so excited to be holding the baby chick that she squeezed it to death.  She and Donnie and Billy couldn't have been much more than a year old or so.”

     Thanks to my cousins, Evelyn and Sharon, I know the goat actually belonged to the Ellis family.  Evelyn also gave me the location of that unique family photo -- the home of Rollie and Charlotte (Niehaus) Ellis on South Madison Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana.  And don’t you just love the comment passed along by Sharon about Dianna and the baby chick.   I didn’t know what was in Dianna’s hand.  (Goodbye to that family pet, right?!) Now that expression on her face is even more significant!

   To complete this story I searched for an adult photo of all three of these cousins.  Didn’t have any luck with exactly that.  But I do have one that brings the family around to 2003 anyway. Below is a reunion photo of Evelyn, Charlotte (mother of Evelyn and Diana and Sharon), Martha (my sister) and Dianna.Niehaus Reunion, 2003: Evelyn, Charlotte, Martha, Diana  Dianna seems a little more serious in this one than she was 60 years earlier.  And Aunt Charlotte was making a silly face. But that’s just family fun.  Great times!



     Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,



Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Yet Another Family Record Found In Ruhlkirchen Church Records: Birkenstock Project, Part 6

    The developments in the Birkenstock Project are excellent….although still not complete. I’m getting a strong feeling that there will be a few more chapters before the end.  The Ruhlkirchen Catholic church records are expanding our Birkenstock family history nicely.  I feel as though I’m edging closer to success on the original goal: “Where and when did Katherine Birkenstock and Martin Kuhn marry?” The new facts so far have revealed interesting details of the story behind the names.    Family of Anna Catherina Birkenstock and Martin Kuhn
     For instance, I discussed in Part 5 the baptismal record that I located for Kate and Martin’s son, Gottfried Kuhn, in 1835. Recorded along with this baptism was a remark that Gottfried was “legitimized through the marriage in 1842.” No wonder I couldn’t find their marriage record before he was born. Kate and Martin hadn’t yet made it to the church, for whatever reason.  This happening has taken me down a side road again. I’ve been looking into the culture and background of illegitimacy in this era.  I’ll share the results soon.  
     But not to stray off the path just yet, I put my attention further on the microfilm of the church records that I had on loan from the Family History Library.  To squeeze all I could from the Ruhlkirchen church, I reviewed  carefully the 1842 marriage records.  Giving it my best shot at deciphering the script for the Birkenstock and Kuhn names, I still could not find a marriage record for Kate and Martin. Then, for good measure, I reviewed the years leading up to 1842.  But still…no luck on those names in the marriages.     
     Oh well. Let’s stop to think about what we know at this point.  The church record we have says Martin Kuhn and Catherine Birkenstock were married in 1842.  I know that at some point in their marriage Martin and Kate made their home in Neustadt, Martin Kuhn’s birthplace that’s six miles from Ruhlkirchen.  The family claimed Neustadt as their place of origin in immigration and other records in America.  Therefore, I wonder if they moved to Neustadt after their first child was born and married there.  That’s another set of records I’ll have to investigate. 
     Meanwhile, “How could I get more from these Ruhlkirchen records before returning them to the Family History Library?”  What other family events might I discover?  Aha! Since Ruhlkirchen is Kate Birkenstock’s family’s home, I wonder if her baptism might be recorded.  I already had a birth date of 17 Feb 1808 from family history passed down and from her tombstone. Now would be the opportunity to document that information at the actual location.  So, I hit the back button one more time and rewound the microfilm to 1808.  Success! Listed on 17 Feb 1808 is what appeared to be the baptism of Anna Catharina, daughter of a Birkenstock and Anna Gertrudis, born Schlitt.  
    Hooray!!  If I am reading this correctly, I have now moved back another generation with an addition of Kate’s parents.  But first, I wanted to double check my translation. I went to my trusty helpers from the German Genealogy Group on Facebook to confirm that this record says what I think.  Below is the translation and a copy of the record excerpted directly from the 1808 Ruhlkirchen Catholic church record book:
Baptism, 17 Feb 1808; Anna Catherina, father, Johannis Birkenstock, renter and herdsman in Ruhlkirchen and Anna Gertrudis, born Schlitt, his wife. Sponsor: Anna Catherina, unmarried daughter of Johannis Roth.
  Baptism, Ruhlkirchen, Anna Catharina Birkenstock, 17 Feb 1808 (1)

    To recap the Birkenstock Project, I’ve covered as much in the records of the Ruhlkirchen church as I can.   I don’t yet have the exact marriage record for Kate and Martin.  But, I’m very happy with the family history I did discover. I have the actual baptismal records for Anna Catharina Birkenstock in 1808 and for her son, Gottfried Kuhn in 1835.  I also have that valuable lead to their marriage, somewhere, in 1842.
    This was another time to pause again for a quick genealogy happy dance!  And also to add a new generation to the family database  —  Catherine Birkenstock’s parents: Johannes Birkenstock and Anna Gertrudis Schlitt.
   Now, what’s my next step in this search for the marriage of Katherine Birkenstock and Martin Kuhn?  I have another possible resource for their marriage.  Stay tuned as I investigate Neustadt, six miles northeast of Ruhlkirchen, where we can hope to highlight more Birkenstock Kuhn family details.
   Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Related links for this story:

Where & When Was Katherine Birkenstock Married to Martin Kuhn? - Birkenstock Project, Pt 1

Getting Into The Ruhlkirchen Church Records -- Birkenstock Project, Pt 4

A Surprise in 1835 Ruhlkirchen Records -- Birkenstock Project, Pt 5

Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Whose Goat Is That? --- Niehaus Cousins, Donny, Billy & Diana --- Wordless Wednesday (Almost)

       Sometimes we get lucky and catch a priceless moment in time.  I believe this is definitely one of those Almost Wordless photos.  Here are three Niehaus family cousins visiting at their grandparents on a hot day in June of 1943.  My brother, Donny Niehaus, with his cousins Billy Niehaus and Diana Ellis are each displaying their own unique impression.  From left to right, we could read leave-me-alone annoyance from Donny; then Billy is doing the cool ignoring routine and Diana is over-the-top, boisterously excited.    I don’t have any idea who that goat belongs to but he adds just the perfect touch in this piece of family history.    
Niehaus Cousins, Donny, Billy & Diana enjoying a July day at their grandparents.
      Surely there’s another story about this animal. Anyone in the family know about the goat?  Was this a pet?  Or did he just wonder down the street and do a photo bomb? 
     Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Monday, June 20, 2016

We Didn’t Even Know He Had a Middle Name! --- Birth Certificate: Walter Johnnie Niehaus, 28 July 1918–28 Feb 1919

     It never fails.  Each time I find another family history record, there’s some morsel that adds color to the story.  Those discoveries provide confirmation of a specific event or a link between people or maybe a hint to a new location to look.   For instance, lately I’ve been uncovering a plethora of information due to the posting by of new Indiana birth, marriage and death certificate databases.  It’s going to take a while before I can squeeze all those juicy ingredients out.  But, here’s an example of one that came to the surface immediately. 
       A sad chapter in our family history took place during the 1918 flu pandemic.  My paternal grandmother, Louise (Albers) Niehaus, and her seven-month-old child, Walter,  were struck down.  I’ve written about Louise before (Here’s the story.).   The short duration of Walter’s life doesn’t leave us much to know about him. So when these birth certificate records were published for the years 1907 through 1940, he was one of the first family members that came to my mind.  I was anxious to gather anything I could learn about him. 
     Quickly I completed the search fields on ancestry with the information I had collected from the W.P.A. index: Walter Niehaus and his birth date of 28 July 1918.  Yay!  The record topping the results page looked very promising.  Glaring straight at me were Walter and his parents, John Niehaus and Louise Albers.  But there was another part of that listing that wasn’t familiar.  This person had a middle name, Johnie.  Is there another Walter Niehaus Niehaus, Walter, Birth Certificate, 1918born that day in Indianapolis?  Some kind of mistake?  None of our family’s researchers had ever recorded a middle name for Walter.    
     All it took was one more click to answer the questions.  Sure enough, when I opened the actual document I was able to confirm the match.  The information on this birth certificate agrees perfectly with the information I have about this uncle and his family.  Walter Johnie Niehaus’s father, John Niehaus, lived in Perry Township, Indianapolis, Indiana.  John was 29 years old and a “cloth cutter” (Actually, a garment cutter at C. B. Cones Clothing Manufacturer).  Walter’s mother was Louise Albers, 25 years old, a housewife in Perry Township, Indianapolis, Indiana. 
     But now I also know that Walter carried his father’s name as his middle name.  That might be significant, or at least somewhat expected, since none of the other five sons were named for him.  I learned that he was born at 8:00 a.m. and that the physician attending the birth was Frank P. Reid.  Since the line for the address of his place of birth was not completed I can’t know positively where that was. Not yet anyway.  Most likely, since it was 1918, Walter was born at John and Louise’s home at 1123 South Keystone Avenue.
     This youngster lived only seven months, succumbing to the deadly flu on 28 February 1919. 30 to 50 million people worldwide were infected in the pandemic of 1918-1919.   The secretary of the Indiana Board of Health issued an order prohibiting gatherings of more than five people when the virus began to spread.  Approximately 675,000 Americans died.  At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this killer flu strain or prevent its spread.  Walter was born  at a perilous time.
     I wish I could have known Uncle Walter.  But thanks to this genealogy find, I can be a tiny bit more acquainted with him.  It makes me think…Could there be other clues here on his birth certificate?  Where else can these tidbits of information take me?  Maybe I could find out where he was born. Could it have been in a hospital?  Are there medical records of any kind? I’ll be keeping this information in mind as more records come onto my research radar.  The quest never ends!
     If you have comments or more background on Walter Johnnie Niehaus or the records I’ve been discussing here, please leave me a message below.  I’m happy to hear from anyone with an interest in these family ties.
     Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Document: Walter Niehaus Birth Certificate at Scribd 
Related Reading:
Louise Charlotte Albers Niehaus
John Niehaus: A Cutter For C. B. Cones
Indianapolis In the Influenza Encyclopedia
The Great Pandemic
1918 Influenza Pandemic Virus

Sunday, May 29, 2016

“500” History For Me -- The Race Memories

     Each year in May many of us who grew up around Indianapolis have our own kinds of flashbacks.  What do you think about when you look back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 500-mile Race festivities?  These individual memories may not be of each year’s winner,  the speeds for qualifications or a certain crash.   Some have flashbacks that tend more toward activities of family, friends and neighbors on race day.  People situated on top of their cars in the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.I’m sure there are race fans everywhere who have thoughts of everyone sitting around a radio, having a beer and eating hot dogs grilled in the back yard. 
     My Indianapolis 500 memories are varied, changing as I got older.  Some are a child’s scattered pieces.  When I was growing up on the south side of Indy we listened to the race on the radio, from “Gentlemen Start Your Engines” to the checkered flag.  Of course, when I was a kid the race took most of the day since the speeds were much slower.  I’m sure I wasn’t paying attention for all those hours. 
     My Dad, Frank Niehaus, absolutely loved the entire spectacle.  He even listened to recordings of Indy race cars on his stereo, zooming around the room.  He could be found at practice or qualifications or the race itself over the years.  He talked about Andy Granatelli and the Novis and A. J. Foyt, Jim Hurtibuise, Billy Vukovich, Eddie Sachs, etc.  I recall my dad taking me to qualifications with him. It was probably just one year but the recollection sticks with me.  My most vivid memory of going with my dad is being in line early in the morning on 16th Street so we could get inside to get a good spot to see who would be in the 33-car lineup.  I was fascinated by the crowd, which is definitely a part of this experience. And the sound of the engines passing by is still thrilling, no matter how old I am.
     Frank Niehaus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Later in my years, I remember going with friends for practice or qualifications and sometimes I was there on race day.  As an adult I went one year with my best friend the night before the 500 to hang out and watch people, a tradition that continues for some.  We had tickets and watched the race; but again, the year and the final results are a blur.   Also, I was fortunate to get a pass over a period of years to a suite on the main straight-of-way to watch practice and tour the garage and the pits, up close and personal.  Just as prominent are race days when I invited friends to hang out at my house, listening to “Back Home Again In Indiana”, then that roar when all the cars fire up!  We would visit and eat and drink, all while keeping track (somewhat) on the radio of who’s still in the race using the newspaper’s 33-car lineup.  Yes, there was some friendly wagering  as well.
     Not many photographs from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are still with me. Although the ones I do have span the 1940s to the 1960s.  They tell many stories, but mostly of my Dad’s times at The Track. Dad’s in the photo on the right with his sun-shading hat, keeping his bald head from burning. He is about 30-35 years old here.   The infield photo above shows fans sitting on top of their cars, possibly inside the fourth turn. Judging from the cars, this is the late 1940s or early 1950s.  Below are two photos of the 1941 fire in the garage area that occurred as they were preparing to begin the race.  One shows the billowing smoke from across the infield.  Another is a striking photo of the aftermath in the garage area. I believe my parents took these photos. For a bit of the story about the tragedy that day is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
    “On the morning of the race a fire broke out in the garage area. George Barringer's revolutionary rear-engined car was destroyed. At the time, the car was being refueled (with gasoline). In a nearby garage, another car which was owned by Joel Thorne was being worked on with a welder. The fumes caught fire from the sparks of the welding, and a huge fire broke out which burned down about a third of the southern bank of garages. The start of the race was delayed by a couple hours, and fire fighters had trouble getting to the Speedway to put out the blaze due to the heavy race day traffic. Barringer's car was withdrawn, and he was credited with 32nd finishing position. With Sam Hanks and Barringer out, the race lined up with only 31 cars.”

1941 Speedway Garage Fire1941 Speedway Garage Fire Ruins

     I’m continuing through the years with a photo that looks like it’s taken from the grandstands across from the starting line.  In this one we can see the old pagoda, the 1956 DeSoto pace car and, if you look carefully, you’ll see the #29 Novi lined up to get underway.  Driver Paul Russo in #29 led the race for the first 21 laps before a blown tire threw the car out of the race.1956 Desoto, Speedway Pace Car, and #29 Novi, preparing for the start of the 1956 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
     The last 500 photo I'm posting is of Andy Granatelli and Parnelli Jones, car owner and driver. This is most likely from the late 1960s when they were running the turbine-powered cars. I’m not sure how my dad came to have this candid photo.  The quality tells me it was  purchased and maybe was given to him as a gift.  Granitelli and Jones 1
     I believe it’s appropo that I post these snipits of memories on May 29, 2016, during the running of the 100th Indianapolis 500.  Today is historic, but there’s a new twist.  It has been announced (as I’m writing this on Wednesday before the Sunday race) that for  the first time since 1950 the Indianapolis 500 will be shown live on TV in Indianapolis. I’m not sure how I feel about that since traditions are traditions, you know.  There was that special listening-on-the- radio ingredient.  Maybe I’ll sit on the deck and listen for a while.  But don’t get me wrong….we’ll definitely be tuning in for the live spectacle on TV.  Then later we’ll get a few of the inside details from Krissy and Caroline and Ben who are at the track today.
     I hope everyone has a safe and memorable Memorial Day Weekend.  Thanks for spending a little of your time at Hurley Travels.

     Nancy Hurley
To have some fun looking at 500 Drivers, Click Here