Sunday, 28 May 2017

Nels Nelson (1868-1931), Bachelor Homesteader in Saskatchewan

Nels Nelson about 1905

Children love stories involving treasure or buried loot. Dad told us tales of mysterious treasure said to be hidden in or under the derelict farmhouse that had belonged to his Uncle Nels. By the 1950's, when Dad was farming this land, my siblings and I took every opportunity to do some sleuthing. We never found a single thing.

Uncle Nels with a neighbour's child in front of his house

The story no doubt started as many family stories do, based on supposition and questionable theories. No money had been found when Nels died just after Christmas in 1931. It was thought that since he had remained a bachelor for life (unlike his family-oriented sisters) he would have been able to accumulate considerable wealth.

His farm was located on the historic Battleford Trail between Swift Current and Battleford, Saskatchewan. The Trail had been used by First Nations and then became a major supply route in the late 19th century. At the time of the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, it was used by Colonel William Otter and his men to reach Battleford from Swift Current to take part in the Battle of Cut Knife on 2 May 1885. Although the Cree and Metis won this battle decisively, the government forces would ultimately prevail and settlement by Europeans would occur. By the time the railroads came through the area, the trail had decreased in popularity but was still in occasional use into the 1920's.

Marker on the land north of the Nels Nelson property where the trail is still visible in the prairie

Dennis Nelson's relative visiting Ken Bardahl at the Battleford Trail marker 

Having a fairly large house enabled Nels to provide accommodation to travelers on this route. Still, did any of the homesteaders in the early days of Saskatchewan truly become wealthy? And how much could he have earned from providing accommodations to sporadic travelers? Really, I think the tales of hidden treasure were quite simply wishful thinking on the part of his surviving relatives.

But what of Uncle Nels? People who don't leave descendants often seem to get short-changed in the memory department. What can we learn about his life and times?

Nels Nelson was the second child born to Carl Johan Nelson and Karen Marie Nilsdatter, the first to be born in the United States after the family emigrated from Norway in 1867.

Church record from Ringerike, Buskerud, Norway indicating the departure of Carl, Karen and baby daughter Gunhild (Julia)

Nels would be the only son in a family of 8 children, the youngest of whom was my Grandma Louise. The family first settled in Wisconsin for three months but then moved to Le Grand, Douglas County, Minnesota. Nels was born on 26 September 1868 in Douglas County. By the time he was confirmed in the Pomme de Terre Lutheran Church on 30 November 1884, they were residing at Pomme de Terre, Grant County, Minnesota.

Carl and Karen Nelson with their children c1890 - Nels standing centre rear immediately behind my Grandmother Louise

Throughout the various census records from 1875 (Le Grand, Douglas County, MN) until 1905 (Erdahl, Grant County, MN), Nels is listed living with his parents and some or all of his sisters. In 1906 he was one of the witnesses to the marriage of his sister Louise to John Bardahl in Erdahl.

Nels Nelson (rear) farming with father Carl, 1898 Minnesota

In addition to his farming ventures, he was also in business with his brother-in-law Gus Gilbertson from 1903 to 1910. They had a general merchandise and hardware store in Erdahl. In 1906 they moved from a location on Main Street to one on Elm Avenue. "Farmers should remember that we buy cream - 21¢ per lb. of butter fat; eggs - 13¢ per dozen. Bring us your produce."

By 1910 when he left home, Nels would have been 42 years of age. In the census for that year in Erdahl, Carl and Karen are listed along with just one daughter and four grandchildren. The nest must have felt terribly empty for Carl and Karen. Several of their children had moved away, some to North Dakota and several, including son Nels, had taken up homesteads in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Family Picnic in Saskatchewan 1910
adults left to right: John Bardahl, Louise Nelson Bardahl, Josephine Nelson Nelson, Dennis Nelson, George Gilbertson, Nels Nelson on the far right (missing from this view of photo was Selma Nelson Gilbertson holding baby Marvel Bardahl)
children left to right: Wallace Nelson, Lyla Gilbertson, Lorraine Nelson, Arnold Gilbertson, Joetta Bardahl, Vernon Nelson, Francis Gilbertson

Father Carl died shortly before Christmas in 1911 and his widow Karen survived him by just over 4 years. Both died of stomach cancer and are buried in Erdahl Lutheran Cemetery in Grant County, Minnesota.

In Canada, the siblings settled near one another and provided a good deal of support to one another as they worked to establish farms, build houses and barns, churches and schools and a whole new community in the Atlas school district near Leinan, Saskatchewan. Nels filed for his own homestead near sisters Louise (and husband John Bardahl), Selma (and husband Gustav Gilbertson), and Josie (and husband Dennis Nelson). Another sister Laura (and husband Steve Bardahl) homesteaded a few miles away but don't seem to have remained long in the area. Nels's homestead application was dated January 1910 for the N.E.17-18-14 W3M. He later picked up the pre-emption on N.W. 16-18-14.

Nels Nelson in front of his home on the northeast quarter of section 17

The 1911 Canadian census is the first in which Nels appears as the head of his own household. He is 42 years old, single, of Norwegian extraction and a farmer. Listed just beneath him are his sisters Selma and Josephine with their husbands and children. He was still farming in the same area by the time of the 1916 Saskatchewan census and by then had become a Canadian citizen.

In 1918 when he made a visit to family in the United States, he was required to fill in a "Alien Registration and Declaration of Holdings" form. In it, he said he had been residing in Elbow Lake, MN since 21 December 1917 but was about to return to his home in Canada the following month (March 1918). His listed property included two quarter sections in Canada and a 1/8 interest in 240 acres in Grant County which he inherited as part of his mother's estate.

My cousin Roger believes that Nels moved to Medicine Hat around 1920, but attempts to find him in either location in the 1921 census have so far proven futile.

Nels died in hospital in Medicine Hat, Alberta on the 29th of December 1931 and is buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

Nels Nelson's stone in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Swift Current, Saskatchewan
Sisters Josie Nelson and Louise Bardahl administered his estate and nephews James and Ken Bardahl were the next owners of Nels Nelson's land.  Niece Joetta (Bardahl) Gordon lived in the home with her husband Ed Gordon and their young family for a few years in the 1930's. After that, the house was left to decay.  Only a few stories and family references to "Nels's place" remain to mark the dreams and efforts of this early Saskatchewan bachelor farmer.


  • Canadian Encyclopedia article on the Northwest Rebellion accessed online 22 May 2017 at
  • Wikpedia article on the Northwest Rebellion accessed online 22 May 2017 at
  • Memories to Cherish: Stewart Valley and Leinan, Stewart Valley-Leinan History Book Committee, 1987
  • 1887 Erdahl Centennial 1987 - Reunion July 2-3, 1988,The Erdahl Centennial Committee, 1987

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Humphrey Turner (1594-1672): The Well-ordered Life of an Early American Immigrant

Humphrey Turner was a tanner who emigrated to Plymouth Colony in its early days from somewhere in England. Some claim he was from Essex; his tombstone lists him among the men from Kent. Nothing is really known of his life in England except that he would have been married there (once if not twice) and had the first four of his children there. He married Lydia (possibly Gamer) in about 1618. Like so many other of my New England ancestors, they were undoubtedly religious dissidents who migrated to obtain religious freedom.

Cemetery in Scituate MA

Humphrey and Lydia were my 8th great grandparents. Their daughter Mary Turner (my 7th great grandmother) was born at Scituate, Massachusetts on 25 January 1634/5, the first of their children to be born in America. They probably arrived in 1633 but no record of them can be found in any of the ships' lists. In any event, he was listed as one of the freemen of Plymouth in 1633.

Humphrey certainly shows up in numerous records thereafter. It can be seen that he is a family man trying to make a living for himself and his family, that he is a staunch church member, that he was very active in community affairs and that he was a family man. He didn't seem to get into any trouble that landed him in the records for any misdeeds except for being fined 3s. two times by the court for non-appearance. 

Probably first landing at Plymouth, the family had moved some 20 miles to the new town of Scituate by early 1633. Humphrey was a founding member of the Scituate church on 8 January 1634/5, just a couple of weeks before daughter Mary was born. He built a log house on his lot on Kent Street and also one at his farm on the east side of Colman's Hills at  Scituate.  Thatch for the roofs would have come from the sedges of the nearby salt marshes. His farm was next to that of John Lothrop, the minister. Beyond the minister's property was the lot assigned to another of my ancestors, James Cudworth.

Memorial to Original Settlers of Scituate including Humphrey Turner
Photo courtesy Scrib & Barb Kelly of Find a Grave

On 1 January 1637/8 Humphrey was just one of many freemen of Scituate who complained that their land allocations were too small for them to subsist on. As a result, the court of assistants granted some extra land on condition that they inhabit those lands. Over the years, Humphrey bought and sold many parcels of land, including many properties deeded to his sons as they came of age.

Map of Settlement of Scituate 1633
Humphrey Turner's land highlighted in yellow

He did his part for his community:
  • Deputy for Scituate to Plymouth General Court (1640-1653)
  • Constable for Duxbury (1635-1639)
  • Plymouth jury and Grand jury (1638, 1642-1643)
  • Committee to divide lands in Scituate (1640)
  • Supervisor of highways (1647-1648)
  • Coroner's jury (1666)
Wife Lydia predeceased him by just a couple of years. Humphrey died sometime between 1 November 1672 and 29 May 1673. In his will he left his farm to son John Turner, his livestock to son Nathaniel Turner, clothing, bed and bedding to son Thomas Turner and money to other children and grandchildren. It isn't clear whether Lydia and Humphrey are buried in Scituate or in nearby Norwell since both cemeteries have memorial stones for them installed at a later time.

Memorial to Humphrey Turner, Scituate MA
Photo courtesy Scrib & Barb Kelly of Find a Grave
Generations later, many well-known Americans can claim descent from Humphrey Turner, including the following distant "cousins" of mine:
  • Ernest Hemingway (author)
  • Pete Seeger (folk singer)
  • Chevy Chase (comedian, actor)
  • Ellen De Generis (entertainer)
  • Allen Dulles (longest serving Director of the CIA)
  • John Foster Dulles (US Secretary of State)
  • Humphrey Bogart (actor).


  • Anderson, Robert Charles, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volumes 1-3; The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634-1635, Volumes 1-6. Boston: New England Historical and Genealogical Society, 1996-2011 accessed at 22 June 2015.
  • Deane, Samuel, History of Scituate Massachusetts From its First Settlement to 1831, Boston: James Loring, 1831.
  • Famous Kin website accessed 30 March 2107 at

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Visiting England: Locating the Burial Sites for John Mathias Barnard and Florence Hacon

Despite his well-documented life, it proved quite difficult to locate records surrounding the death and burial of my husband Graham's paternal grandfather John Mathias Barnard. Nothing could be located online. No one in the family seemed to possess a copy of his obituary, death certificate or photographs of his tombstone, or any of those for his wife Florence Hacon Barnard.

Contacting local societies and records offices in Suffolk before our visit last summer had not produced any leads. An in-person visit to the Suffolk Record Office in Lowestoft brought results when we visited there with Graham's niece Kate and her husband Mark last August. We knew that John Mathias Barnard had died sometime in January of 1945, but didn't have the specific date. Because he had been Mayor of Lowestoft in the 1920's, we surmised that his death would almost certainly have warranted an obituary, or perhaps even a news item, notwithstanding that the Second World War was still in progress. The local paper in Lowestoft in 1945 was a weekly paper called the "Lowestoft Journal". It was fairly easy to find what we were looking for in the microfilmed edition for Saturday 20 January, 1945: "Death of Former Lowestoft Mayor: Mr. J. M. Barnard". The condition of the record was quite bad with folds or lines throughout, making it very difficult to read. Nevertheless, it was clear that he had died the previous Saturday 13 January 1945 at the home of his daughter Mrs. (Winnie) Smith at Pond Farm, Worlingworth, Suffolk. He was 69.

His business and political life in the town and surrounding area were outlined in his obituary. He had been well known in Lowestoft fishing circles through his ownership of fishing smacks in the firm of Slater & Barnard. He was a representative on the Lowestoft Town Council for several years and served as alderman and then as mayor in 1923-24 and 1924-25. He was appointed a J.P. in 1927. He had moved away from Lowestoft for a number of years by the time of his death, living for some time at Wissett Lodge. His membership in the Halesworth and District Branch of the National Farmers' Union reflected his interest in farming; he was vice-chairman of this organization at the time of his death.

The list of mourners included his widow, son A. J. Barnard and three daughters: Miss F. E. Barnard, Mrs. W. A. Smith and Mrs. B. E. Gethings. His sister Mrs. F. Muir, daughter-in-law (Graham's mother Margaret), two nieces (Mrs. D Bryant and Miss F. Yeoman), a nephew (A. Barnard) and some cousins named Mohan were listed, as was his son-in-law J. Smith. The names of others present at the funeral were also listed. Then came a very lengthy list of all the wreaths given in his memory.

The funeral had been held at St. Margaret's Church, Lowestoft, on Thursday (18 December 1945). Hymns were "Lead Kindly Light" and "Rock of Ages".

St. Margaret's Church, Lowestoft

A visit to St. Margaret's was definitely next on our agenda. After being pointed in the general direction of burial locations from the 1940's, Graham quite quickly spotted the stone for his grandparents.

Kate, Graham and Mark at the grave site

Photo by Mark Churchman

Photo by Graham Barnard

St.Margaret's Church has been the Parish Church in Lowestoft,Suffolk, for over five centuries. The exterior walls are constructed of flint and mortar. The copper spire was new in 1954 so would not have been there at the time of John's or Florence's funerals there. It replaced the original lead on timber spire. The gilded weathercock is the tallest point on any building in the area and is thus a significant landmark. During the Second World War, incendiary bombs fell all around this area. One hit the roof and set fire to the roof timbers, but prompt action saved the church.

The north aisle contains a "Fishermen's Memorial" with the names of local fishermen lost at sea between 1865 and 1923. No doubt many of these men would have been well known to John.

Fishermen's Memorial on wall to right
Photo by Graham Barnard

The brass lecturn is one of very few remaining from pre-Reformation days. It was buried for safety during Puritan times. It was again removed to a place of safety in the crypt during the Second World War, restored to its former position on 19 May 1945, four months after John Barnard's funeral here.


  • Pye, Robert, "A Walk Around St. Margaret's", St. Margaret's Parochial Church Council, Hollingsworth Road, Lowestoft, Tyndale Press (Lowestoft)
  • "Death of Former Lowestoft Mayor: Mr. J. M. Barnard" from the "Lowestoft Journal" 20 January 1945 edition accessed on microfilm at the Suffolk Record Office, Lowestoft,Suffolk

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Visiting England: Yeovil,Somerset

My 9th great grandparents Stukely Westcott and Julianna Marchant were married in St. John's Church in Yeovil, Somerset on 5 October 1619. Stukely was from Ilminster, a town a few miles away, but the bride's Marchant family had deep roots in Yeovil. Family connections provided a perfect excuse for a visit to the town when we were in England this past summer.

St. John's Church, Yeovil
St.John's Church dates from 1380 and is built from  local limestone thought to have been quarried just north of the building. St.John's is famous for its large windows that give it a sense of light and space. It does not take much imagination to picture Stukely and Juliana, both in their late 20's, taking their vows here.

Interior of St. John's Church, Yeovil

Stukely and Juliana soon became parents to a growing family: Robert, Damaris, Samuel, Amos, Mercy and Jeremiah were all born in England and were probably all baptised here between 1619 and 1635. The baptismal font is as old as the church and would have been used in their baptisms.

Baptismal Font in St. John's Church

An early King James Bible (pictured below) in a case in the chancel was given to the church in 1617, some half dozen years after this version was first published. This Bible would have been in the church by the time of Stukely and Julianna's wedding and the baptisms of their children.

Early King James Bible

Stukely and Julianna did not live out their lives in Yeovil. On 1 May 1635, they and their 6 children boarded a ship to move to America, settling first in Salem and then moving to Providence, Rhode Island where they were among the founding families. It would seem that, notwithstanding their ties to the beautiful and traditional St. John's Church in Yeovil, they were among the legions of dissatisfied English folk heading to New England in search of a different form of religious expression. In the case of Stukely and Julianna, their connection with Roger Williams in Providence is clear evidence that they were ardent Baptists.

But the family connection to Yeovil did not end or begin with Stukely. Julianna's family had ties running even deeper in Yeovil. Her grandfather Captain John Marchant and his wife Eva Cominge had also been married in St. Johns. Their marriage was celebrated here on 18 July 1568.

The church tower rises 90 feet and contains 14 bells, some dating from the 15th century. One wonders if the bells would have pealed for their wedding. Or for that of Julianna's parents John Marchant Jr. and Joan Cotington; no date has yet been found for their wedding, but it was probably held here as well.

In addition to marriages, many family baptisms occurred here over the centuries, as well as funerals and burials. Community gardens have replaced much of what might once have been burying grounds. Not surprisingly there were no signs of any Westcott, Marchant, Cominge or Cottington tombstones here.

Community Gardens in the Church Grounds at St. John's Yeovil

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Visiting England: Plymouth

When the Mayflower departed Plymouth harbour for the New World in September of 1620, a baker's dozen of my ancestors were on board, bound for religious freedom and the promise of a new life in America. Having visited their destinations in Plymouth Colony of what is now Massachusetts, I had always hoped to visit their port of embarkation. This summer we had an opportunity to do just that.

Plymouth, England

I had no great expectations of finding any trace of my ancestors ever having been here. Nearly 400 years had passed! Nevertheless, the harbour itself would be largely unchanged and very evocative of their last view of their homeland.

We were surprised, however, to discover a surprising number of references to the Mayflower such as this plaque listing the passengers, including my Mayflower ancestors.

A conspicuous tourist area supposedly marks the steps that the Pilgrims would have descended to get aboard the Mayflower, but it is highly unlikely that these steps were actually used by any of my ancestors to get aboard. It is thought that the actual boarding area was a few blocks away.

There is also a Mayflower Museum associated with the Visitors'  Centre, but we were short of time and had been advised by the locals that it wasn't a particularly good museum for documenting actual Mayflower history. We chose instead to spend our time taking in the other things that Plymouth had to offer. While enjoying a delicious dinner at The Barbican Kitchen, we discovered that it was situated in the Plymouth Gin distillery.

We also learned that this building is thought to have been where the Pilgrim fathers spent their last night in England. They would have been sheltered under this very ceiling. (No, it was not a gin distillery lounge at that time!)

Over the centuries, many other historic events occurred in Plymouth. Commemorative stones are scattered throughout the walls and sidewalks of the Royal Citadel and the Barbican areas.

This is a charming town with many quaint cobbled streets that have probably been here for hundreds of years. I kept asking myself: Did my ancestors walk here?

The Hoe is a flat area of grassland and commemorative monuments situated just above the harbour. There are stunning panoramic views across Plymouth Sound. Smeaton's Tower lighthouse is a distinct landmark.

Another genealogical bonus was awaiting us. While on The Hoe, we were reminded that Plymouth was the home town of Sir Francis Drake and that he supposedly played bowls here before sailing off to defeat the Spanish Armada. Aha! We had an ancestor, John Marchant,  who sailed with Sir Francis. My imagination took flight with images of men like Captain John and Sir Francis strutting around the streets of Plymouth prior to setting off in their grand sailing vessels from this very harbour.

Armada Memorial, Plymouth

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Samuel Lester Hoover (1855-1912)

My great grand-uncle Samuel Lester Hoover was the elusive half-brother to my mother's maternal grandfather Charles F. Edwards. Charles had been somewhat creative in the narrative of his origins, but he had correctly identified his half-brother Sam born from his mother's first marriage to a Hoover cousin.

Samuel Lester Hoover

Tragedy stalked Sam throughout his relatively short 56 year life. He was highly regarded by a nephew who knew him as someone who maintained good ties with the family, but it is generally felt that Sam was short-changed by life.

Samuel Lester Hoover was born in Leon, Decatur, Iowa on the 30th of December in 1855, just over 9 months after the marriage of his parents Barbara Hoover and William Hoover. (Barbara was the daughter of Christian Hoover and Mary Green while William may have been the son of Christian's brother Philip and his wife Hannah; if so, they would have been first cousins.) When Samuel was only two years old, his father William died.

Samuel's mother Barbara Hoover

Samuel's mother remarried in 1861 to a man named Louis Edwards. The Civil War broke out shortly after their marriage and Louis signed up with Company C of the 112th Illinois Infantry. Within 6 months, Lewis succumbed to illness. He spent the rest of the war in hospital, eventually dying of consumption in February of 1866. Barbara gave birth to twin daughters Mary (Minnie) and Martha (Grace) Edwards in November of either 1865 or 1866. (With no official birth records available at that time, proof of age was given by entries in the family Bible which appear to have been altered from one year to the other possibly in an attempt to ensure that the girls were seen as legitimate offspring of Lewis Edwards for Civil War minors' pensions.) Having never really known his birth father, 10 year-old Samuel had now lost a relatively unknown step-father as well.

A couple of years later, Barbara gave birth to a half-brother to Sam, my great grandfather Charles F. Edwards. She was widowed at the time and having four young children in this situation could not have made for an easy life for any of them.

At the time that the 1870 census was conducted in Keokuk, Iowa, widowed Barbara and her children, including 14 year-old Samuel, were living with her parents Chris and Mary Hoover. Ten years later, Sam and his cousin George Leffler were both living with these same grandparents in Osage Co., Kansas.  Samuel L. Hoover is listed as a grandson, age 24, coal miner. (By then, his mother Barbara had married for a third time and was living in Elk County, Kansas with husband George Payton and his family, including her own youngest three children.)

Osage County, Kansas
Google Earth Image

Osage County, Kansas, was a booming coal mining area. At the time, coal was the major source of energy, having taken over from wood  when the supply of timber dwindled. Mining was notoriously dirty and dangerous. One suspects that Sam would quite soon have been looking for a different form of employment.

On 12 December 1892, Samuel married Hannah Wilcox of a devout Mormon family in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tragedy would strike this couple again and again and again and again - and yet again. They had five children born between 1891 and 1905, all dying within months of birth. (One wonders whether Samuel's parents having been first cousins might have had anything to do with this consistent failure of his children to survive.)

On a brighter note, Samuel had found employment away from the coal mines. During his marriage to Hannah, he was working for the railroad as a switchman. (As the name suggests, a switchman is responsible for operating the switches to shuttle trains onto the correct tracks.) He was the Master of the Grand Lodge of the Switchmen's Mutual Aid Association when he signed his own Delegate's Credential as a representative of Salt Lake City Lodge No. 71 at the Convention to be held in Dallas, Texas on 19 September 1892, just a couple of months prior to his marriage. This was a union that had been organized in 1870 to obtain better working conditions and pay for its members; at the time, a switchman (one of the higher paid railway employees) earned $50 per week for working 12 hour days 7 days a week. Many strikes occurred during the 1880's and 90's and no doubt Samuel would have been involved in meetings to discuss ways to improve their lot.

According to his death certificate, it would have been in about 1893 that the family moved to Salt Lake City. However, a certificate of the Union Pacific Railroad Co. dated 18 December 1898 certified that he had been employed as a switchman in the Denver yard from 5 November 1895 until his resignation three years later. Work and conduct were stated as satisfactory. In any event, notwithstanding these three years in Denver, Salt Lake City did seem to be his primary home.

The 1900 Utah census for Salt Lake City lists Samuel Hoover (age 45)  and wife Hannah (age 29) as having been married for 12 years (which would make their wedding 1888 rather than 1892); no children are listed. His occupation is given as brakeman.

One might speculate whether it was the tragic deaths of all their children that caused the marriage to fall apart. In any event, the couple had divorced prior to Hannah's remarriage on 8 June 1909.

In the meantime, Sam continued his career with the railroad. His Certificate of Examination from the Oregon Short Line Railroad Company Southern Pacific Company - Lines East of Sparks dated 17 September 1910 certified his qualifications as a "Herder". (This position seems to be a variation on a switchman.) Perhaps because of his work with the railroad, he seemed to move around freely. It isn't clear whether he was actually living in Oregon at the time, but his sister Grace and her husband did live in Portland for awhile. Maybe he went there to recover from the dissolution of his marriage.

If so, he had recovered and moved on by 1910. Samuel was in his 50's when he developed a relationship with a much younger divorcee named Lillie Shagogue Chipps who was barely 20.

Lillie had already established quite a "history" for herself. She had married Joseph Chipps on 24 January 1908 at about 17 years of age but, according to newspaper reports when she sought a divorce from him, he deserted her on 8 February of that same year, ostensibly to look for work elsewhere. He had written to her from Montana and was reportedly seen in Cardston, Alberta. But he never reappeared and her divorce was granted. Lillie gave birth to daughter Violet on 8 June 1908. One might wonder whether the real reason for Joseph's disappearance might have been his discovery of Lillie's pregnancy, perhaps with personal knowledge that the child could not be his. Violet's birth certificate names her father as Sidney Devine. No record of a marriage between Lillie and Sidney has been located, but several other marriages are attributed to her: Frank Proudfoot on 16 May 1910, William Scheffler on 24 February 1912, Thomas O'Connor 15 March 1913,  John Morris 16 March 1914 and a common law relationship with James Morris in 1914 (or are these Morris's the same man?). Although there is no record of a husband named Swift, she was using the name "Mrs. Swift" by the time she was 25. Perhaps it was during a short lull in 1910 between the Proudfoot and Scheffler husbands that she took up with Samuel; a stillborn daughter was born to them on 25 February, 1911.

We are so fortunate that one rather rare record has survived from a month after the death of this daughter. (As with the two images of Sam that appear here, it was provided by Richard Lemon, a descendant of one of Sam's twin sisters.) It contains a wealth of information about his physical appearance and also gives us at least a glimpse of some much-needed relaxation and pleasure in Samuel's life. Utah fishing licence No. 3101 for S.L. Hoover of Salt Lake dated 24 March 1911 gives his height as 5 ft. 7 1/2 inches tall, weight of 155 pounds, fair complexion, light brown hair and blue eyes.

According to his death certificate, he died 28 June 1912 of apoplexy (a stroke).  It indicated that he was divorced, had been a switchman and was 56 at the time of his death.  The informant was his sister Grace (Mrs H.M. Bradshaw) who lived at 509 West 2 South, Salt Lake City.  Samuel had been living nearby at 569 West 1st North, Salt Lake City and had been in the state of Utah for 19 years.

The Salt Lake Tribune of 30 June 1912 (My Heritage, Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers): "All Knights of Pythias are urged to attend the funeral of Samuel L Hoover at O'Donnell's Chapel at 2 o'clock this afternoon. N.W. Sonnedecker KR&S"

His membership in this organization no doubt explains the uniform in the photograph below.

Samuel Lester Hoover

After a difficult life full of so much loss, Samuel was laid to rest at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City, Utah.

As for Lillie Shagogue, further tragedy was awaiting her. Her life ended in suicide from Lysol poisoning at the age of just 25.

Although none of the three small orphans she left behind would seem to belong to Samuel, daughter Violet would have been the oldest at 8 while the youngest was just a year old. One can only hope they were raised by a loving grandmother or other family member and that the trail of tragedies ended here.