Tag Archives: Iowa

The Chicoine Family Reunion, Revisited

Note: The following provides an update to the post “The Chicoine Family Reunion,” which was published in March 2021. 

When I first shared a photograph of a Chicoine family reunion held at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, which took place nearly one hundred years ago, alongside a key prepared by the late Maurice Chicoine, a number of individuals were unidentified and the date of the photograph, as stated on the key, was presumed to be the summer of 1926. Now, after collaboration with numerous descendants of those pictured, additional blanks have been filled in—and the photograph is now believed to have been taken a year prior, on precisely 02 August 1925.

Why the change of date? In addition to the discovery of an original copy of the photograph that belonged to Maurice Chicoine and is now in the possession of Karen Chicoine, which is marked 1925, the presence or absence of several babies provide the primary clues. For example, Thomas and Rachel (Chicoine) Dougherty are pictured holding their children Annette and Richard; Annette, who was born in February 1925, clearly looks to be under a year old. Oswald Montagne, also pictured with an infant, had a daughter Marie who was born in September 1924. In addition, Emma (Chicoine) Beauchemin, pictured without an infant in arms, was expecting; her son would be born in December 1925.

Although initially, the details recorded in a 1925 newspaper clipping about the reunion led me to believe that it was taken the following year, given the other evidence it seems that this was not actually the case. The Sioux City Journal wrote on 04 August 1925 that at the reunion, “The oldest member of the family present was Mrs. Philip Bernard, Sioux City, 70 years old, and the youngest was Rose Chicoine, 6-month-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fedora Chicoine, of Jefferson.” Mrs. Philip Bernard, Delphine (Chicoine) Bernard, is present in the photograph, but Mrs. Fedora Chicoine and her infant daughter (who was actually named Dorothy; her mother was Rose) were not; it is, of course, entirely plausible that they had left the gathering early or were occupied off-camera at the time that the photograph was taken. Furthermore, the newspaper reporter named the wrong infant altogether—Annette Dougherty was two months younger! For that matter, Delphine (Chicoine) Bernard was not the actual oldest member of the family in attendance; that honor may have gone to her sister Elise (Chicoine) Benjamin.

Finally, the location of the photographer’s studio, stamped on the photograph, initially gave me pause. The photographer, Henry Griebel, was listed at the stamped address in the 1926 Sioux City Directory, but his home and studio were elsewhere in the 1925 Sioux City Directory. However, upon consideration, there was ample time for the photographer to have changed locations between January and August 1925. 

Chicoine descendant and fellow genealogist Michael Malloy graciously created the below key (click to view the full-size image) of what is now believed to be a photograph of the 1925 Chicoine Family Reunion, with superimposed text over the individuals in the image to aid in identification:

chicoine-family-reunion-picture

Chicoine Family Reunion, Riverside Park, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, 1925; digital image with superimposed text 2021, courtesy of Michael Malloy, digital image 2021, courtesy of Jeanette Borich; privately held by Ken Chicoine and Karen Chicoine, 2021.

An updated list of identities is below:

Photo 1 Top Row: Agnes Chicoine, Emma Chicoine, Pauline Lambert, Elsie Montagne, Carrie Chicoine, Odile Chicoine, Luella (Limoges) Chicoine, Delia Brault, Albina Chicoine, Louise (Ryan) Chicoine, Edna (Quintal) Chicoine, Louisa (Chartier) Chicoine, Margaret (Norton) Wyant, Selena (Rubida) Quintal
Photo 1 Middle Row: Alphonse Chicoine, Alex Chicoine, Denis Chicoine, Edgar Chicoine, Edmond Chicoine, Odias Chicoine, Elmer Chicoine, Leo Chicoine, Conrad Chicoine, Emil Chicoine
Photo 1 Front Row: …?, Ferdinand Chicoine, Donald Chicoine, Orville Chicoine, Ella Jane Bertrand, Wallace Chicoine, Teresa Chicoine, Doris Chicoine, Bernice Chicoine, Veronica Chicoine, Madonna Chicoine, Marc Chicoine
Photo 2 Top Row: Ora Quintal, Ella Quintal, Loretta Quintal, Rose Montagu, Martin Chicoine, Cora (Chicoine) Brouillette, Martin Chicoine, Martin Quintal, Adrian Chicoine, Leander Bertrand, Mary E. (Bourassa) Fontaine, Ruth Chicoine, Aloysius Bourassa, Esther Bourassa, Laura (Montagne) Chicoine, Orise (Bernard) Montagne, Rachel (Chicoine) Dougherty with Richard Dougherty, Dalma (Cyr) Beaubien
Photo 2 Middle Row: Eugene Chicoine, Philip Bernard, Joe Montagne, Bert Crevier with Dean Crevier, Fedora Chicoine, Leonard Chicoine, Jean Baptiste Fontaine, William Chicoine?, Thomas D. Dougherty with Annette Dougherty, Arthur Chicoine, Louis Beaubien, Clarence Montagne
Photo 2 Front Row: Hubert Chicoine, Claire Montagne, Sylvia Madonna Chicoine, Gabriel Sirois, Oswald Montagne with Marie Jean Montagne, Lucille Crevier, Maurice Chicoine
Photo 3 Top Row: Evelyn (Cyr) Deranleau, Priest from Salix, Wiska (Cyr) Gregoire, Viola (Beaubien) Montagne, Melanie (Lutz) Adam, …?, Peter Adam, Elizabeth (Courtmanche) Adam, Sophia (Chicoine) Menard, Aglae (Sirois) Bosse, Joseph F. Chicoine, Marie (Pepin) Chicoine, Obeline (Chicoine) Lambert, Corrine (Montagne) Chicoine, Mayme Chicoine, Gertie (Crevier) Chicoine, Leona (Chicoine) Crevier, Yvonne (Morin) Chicoine, Beatrice Chicoine, Rose (Langle) Chicoine, Arsenia (Allard) Chicoine
Photo 3 Middle Row: Joe Gregoire, Sylvester Montagne, Laurence Chicoine with Irene Chicoine, Henry Adam, Ernest Menard, Maxine Chicoine, Charlotte Crevier, …?
Photo 4 Top Row: Simone Sirois, Bertha (Chicoine) Sirois, Genevieve Sirois, Happy Jauron with Elizabeth Jauron, Eva Marie (Chicoine) Jauron, Delphine (Chicoine) Bernard, Irene Trudeau, Marie (Perrault) Chicoine, Amanda Chicoine, Regina (Benjamin) Chicoine, Elise (Chicoine) Benjamin, Marcella Chicoine, Christina (Chicoine) Bourassa, Marie Philomine (Brouillette) Bourassa
Photo 4 Middle Row: Fabien Lambert, Raymond Chaussee, Joe Chicoine, Hermidas Chicoine, Jerome Gadbois with …?, Alfred Chicoine, Isaac Benjamin, Alex Bourassa, John Bourassa, Gerald Chicoine, Joseph Lambert, Francis Lambert
Photo 4 Front Row: …?, …?, …?, Pauline Chicoine, Janette Chicoine, Loretta Chicoine, …?, Gerald A. Chicoine, Roger Bourassa

Can you identify any of the remaining unnamed individuals in the photograph?

 

Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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An Iowa Ancestor Without a Church

Churches can be excellent sources of ancestral records, but determining an ancestor’s religious affiliation is not always straightforward—and, in some cases, an ancestor may not have been affiliated with a church all.

In the 1895 Iowa census, it was recorded that Hiram Hammond, an eighty-two year old retired farmer residing in Allamakee County, had no “religious belief.” This initially surprised me—wouldn’t it have been terribly unusual, even shameful, to openly declare a lack of religious belief at this time, particularly in a small Midwestern town? A quick scan of the neighbors recorded on the same page of the census, however, suggests that this may not have been the case. Out of thirty-one individuals recorded on a single page of this particular census, four others were noted to have no religious belief while one other was left blank. Those who did claim religious belief were either Lutheran, Methodist Episcopalian, or Congregational.

Hiram’s wife Eva Margaretha (née Stoehr) was recorded in the same census as being affiliated with the Lutheran church. As she was a German immigrant, this was not unexpected; decades earlier, she and Hiram had been married by a Lutheran minister. However, three of the couple’s four surviving adult children also appeared in the 1895 Iowa census, in separate households, and their affiliations differed from one another: their eldest son John was, like his father, recorded with no religious belief, while their daughter Mathilda was Lutheran and their daughter Louisa was Congregational. All three of their children’s spouses were Lutheran.

Marriage of Hiram Hammend [Hammond] and Margaretha Stoehr, 02 December 1854, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa; digitized photocopy courtesy of Ken Johnson, 2018.

Twenty years later—nineteen years after Hiram’s death, and nine years after Eva Margaretha’s—the same three adult children appeared in the 1915 Iowa census. This time, the space for John’s church affiliation was left blank, Mathilda was recorded as having no church affiliation, and Louisa was now Lutheran. It seems that Hiram’s apparent lack of interest in religion may have been shared by at least two of his children, if not three; son George lived out of state and was again not included in the Iowa census, so his affiliation is unknown.

Much of Hiram’s early life remains a mystery, and it is unknown whether he may have been affiliated with a church during the first thirty-odd years of his life before he wound up in Iowa Territory in 1845. After his death in 1896, the local newspaper printed an obituary that made no mention of any church affiliation, past or present, nor even a passing reference to Christianity in general. It did note positively Hiram’s success as a farmer and called him “a kindly neighbor and friend,” which leads me to believe that he was well-regarded in his community in any case. Hiram spent more than fifty years in northeastern Iowa, and his life as a farmer and father seems to have been a quiet one. It is believed that he was illiterate—his will was signed with a mark—and his name did not appear in local politics nor in a contemporary collection of local biographies.

Hiram’s funeral service, held at home, was led by Reverend Bargelt of the Methodist Episcopalian Church of Postville; this was the small town in which Hiram had retired several years prior. Perhaps Hiram did attend services at this church prior to his death—or what was perhaps more likely was that the reverend was a family friend simply performing a favor and following local custom. In contrast, his wife’s funeral services in 1906 were led by Reverend Puhl of the St. Paul Lutheran Church of Postville; Eva Margaretha’s affiliation with the Lutheran church had apparently remained constant throughout her adult life. If Hiram had not, perhaps, remained loyal to a hypothetical church of his boyhood, which lacked a presence in northeastern Iowa, then it seems plausible that he truly was a nineteenth-century “religious none.”

Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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The Canada Experiment

Mathias Noehl attempted to settle in Canada on at least two occasions after emigrating from Germany to the Midwest as a young man in 1886. After a stint living among relatives in Minnesota, he married fellow immigrant Elisabeth Hoffmann in North Washington, Chickasaw County, Iowa, in 1896. The couple had a son in 1897 and a daughter in 1898, and in 1899, as Mathias later wrote in his memoir, “The desire for migratory life befell us again.” He continued:

“We loaded all that we possessed into a railway car, and traveled to the plains of Alberta, Canada, to meet another stroke of ill fortune, which we had not expected. The climate and the foodstuffs of that country did not agree with us, so we took sick and the doctor advised us to return to the U.S. We went back to the forests of Minnesota, where between 1886 and 1894 I had built my air castles, with which I comforted my wife. My wife felt disappointed when we arrived there, and all I possessed consisted in nothing else but air castles. Besides, we had the terrible cold weather in winter 1899. We stayed there until spring; when the birds flew northward, we remembered the fleshpots of Iowa, and this drove us back to where in 1896 I had found my Waterloo. There, the death of two old people had pity on us, which made a dwelling available for our children and us […]. In 1900 we returned in bitter disappointment to North Washington, with all our savings lost, and one more child. That child is all we gained with our adventures in Canada.”

It is unknown where exactly in “the plains of Alberta” the Noehl family lived in 1899, but it is possible that they were in Pincher Creek, a settlement that attracted German-American Catholics around this time.

Despite finding failure in Alberta, Mathias remained convinced that Canada was in his future. In the spring of 1903, now thirty-four years old and the father of four children, he applied for a homestead in Saskatchewan. The homestead was located eighty-five miles east of Saskatoon near the village of Muenster, in an area known as St. Peter’s Colony. This colony, founded in 1902, was the brainchild of the Benedictine order, the German American Land Company, and the Catholic Settlement Society of St. Paul, Minnesota; land was set aside specifically for German Catholics, who responded to advertisements for the colony and flocked north from the Midwestern states. Here there was to be ample farmland, a colony of like-minded people who shared their language and faith, and a new monastery at the helm, to boot.

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The Noehl family was the target audience for this venture, but ultimately did not remain long enough to prove the homestead. A grandson recalled being told that the family found the water in Saskatchewan to be too alkaline, and apparently many settlers were displeased with the brush-covered land. As the Noehl family’s fourth child was born in Iowa in the spring of 1904, it seems that their time spent in Saskatchewan amounted to less than one year.

Mathias, ever filled with wanderlust, attempted once more to relocate from the Midwest, although he no longer had his sights set on Canada. As the story goes, he visited Oregon several years later and, finding a welcoming German community (perhaps Mt. Angel) and stunning forests that reminded him of his homeland, began to make plans for his family to move once again. However, as his wife was at that point expecting their seventh or eighth child, she put her foot down—and in Iowa they remained for good.

Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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An Iowa National Guardsman

Henry Joseph Adam of Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, was twenty-six years old when he enlisted in the Iowa National Guard in December 1907. He enlisted for a term of three years with Company L of the 56th Infantry, and received an honorable discharge when his term was complete. His character was noted to be “excellent” and his service “honest and faithful.”

Iowa National Guard Certificate for Henry Joseph Adam, Sioux City, Iowa, 1911; digital image 2021, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2021.

In December 1917, ten years after he had first enlisted with the Iowa National Guard, Henry enlisted once again, this time with Company D of the 4th Infantry. The United States had entered the “Great War” in April of that year, and by June the first draft registration was underway. Henry, now thirty-six, was not included in this first draft (which was limited to men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one), but perhaps he saw the writing on the wall and considered that service with the National Guard might put him in a better position than if he were to wait to be eventually drafted. In July 1918, he was appointed corporal, but soon thereafter his trajectory was altered.

Henry Joseph Adam, Sioux City, Iowa, ca. 1918; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2021.

Henry, a carpenter, relocated to Portsmouth, Virginia, where he became an employee of the George Leary Construction Company at the Norfolk Navy Yard. He commenced work on 01 September 1918, and on 12 September, when the third draft registration, for men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, was initiated, he dutifully completed his registration. He was called home to Iowa in late September when, tragically, his five-year-old son succumbed to extensive burns received when he fell into a fire. It could not have been easy for Henry to bid farewell to his wife and surviving son, who was ten years old, to return to the shipyards once again.

In late October, Henry became an employee of the United States government, assisting in the construction of a power plant at the Norfolk Navy Yard. It was on these grounds, as a skilled laborer in a necessary industrial occupation, that he completed a questionnaire claiming deferred classification of military duties. His work entailed building concrete forms; he stated that he had four years of specific experience, and six years of additional general experience. His daily wages amounted to eight dollars and twenty-five cents, and he was the sole supporter of his wife and child.

The questionnaire was signed and dated on 05 November 1918—less than one week before armistice would occur, marking the conclusion of the war on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Perhaps Henry’s questionnaire was never even submitted, or was returned to him in short order, which might explain how it ended up among other assorted family papers and survived for more than a century.

I have no record of when Henry’s employment at the Norfolk Navy Yard nor his service with the Iowa National Guard formally concluded. However, Henry would continue to apply his carpentry skills in the service of the government periodically throughout the rest of his life. During the Great Depression, he found employment with the Works Progress Administration, and during World War II, he was employed at a United States Air Force base near Sioux City before temporarily relocating to Portland, Oregon, where he once again became an essential worker in the shipyards.


Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.


SOURCES

Iowa National Guard Certificate, Henry Joseph Adam, Sioux City, Iowa, 06 January 1911; Adam Family; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2021.

Military Deferment Questionnaire, Form 1001, Office of the Provost Marshall General, for Henry Joseph Adam, Portsmouth, Virginia, 05 November 1918; Adam Family; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2021.

“World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 April 2021), card for Henry Joseph Adam, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives microfilm publication M1509; imaged from Family History Library film roll 1,643,352.

“Henry J. Adam” in Lasher, Louis G., Report of the Adjutant General of Iowa: For the Biennial Period Ended June 30, 1920 (Des Moines: The State of Iowa, 1920), 125; from “U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976,” Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 April 2021).

The Chicoine Family Reunion

Note: An updated post about this photograph, including a new date and additional identifications, was published in September 2021 and is available here.

A century ago, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the French Canadian blacksmith Leon Chicoine and his wife Marie Vary were in the habit of gathering annually for an extended family reunion at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa.

In the summer of 1925, the Sioux City Journal printed the following:

200 ATTEND FAMILY PICNIC AT RIVERSIDE

More than 200 members of the Chicoine family, residing in Sioux City and surrounding territory, held their annual picnic at Riverside park Sunday. Several hundred of the family, which is one of the pioneer families of this part of the country, are located in northwestern Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and northeastern Nebraska.

The majority of those who attended the picnic were from Sioux City, Jefferson, S.D., Elk Point, S.D., and Salix, Ia. The oldest member of the family present was Mrs. Philip Bernard, Sioux City, 70 years old, and the youngest was Rose Chicoine, 6-month-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fedora Chicoine, of Jefferson. A basket dinner and a program of games and sports occupied the afternoon and evening.

The following year, a large group photograph—or rather several photographs pieced together—was taken at the family gathering, and featured just shy of one hundred and fifty individuals. The photograph is labeled Griebel Photo along with a street address; according to the 1926 Sioux City Directory, a Henry Griebel was indeed at that address, but his home and studio were elsewhere in 1925. Thus, the 1926 date provided for this photograph seems plausible—and the decade itself is undeniable when taking into account that the women almost uniformly have their hair bobbed! Riverside Park, the location of the reunion, was a popular summer gathering place along the Sioux River, offering swimming, boating, and other recreational activities. 1926 marked the final year that Riverside Park would host the popular Interstate Fair, and an amusement park would open there the following year.

Chicoine Family Reunion, Riverside Park, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, 1926; digital image 2021, courtesy of Jeanette Borich; privately held by Ken Chicoine, 2021.

There is, fortunately, a key for this photograph, with many thanks to the late Maurice Chicoine. However, it is incomplete and not without error. If you recognize any kin in the photograph, please feel free to comment so that the key can be confirmed and/or updated accordingly. The names from the original key are transcribed below:

Photo 1 Top Row: Agnes Chicoine, Emma Chicoine, Pauline Lambert, Elsie Montagne, Carrie Chicoine, Odile Chicoine, Luella Limoges Chicoine, Delia Brault, Albina Chicoine, Louise Ryan Chicoine, Edna Quintal Chicoine, Mrs. Alphonse Chicoine, Mrs. Bob Wyant, Mrs. Quintal

Photo 1 Middle Row: Alphonse Chicoine, Alex Chicoine, Denis Chicoine, Edgar Chicoine, Edmond Chicoine, Odias Chicoine, Elmer Chicoine, Leo Chicoine, Conrad Chicoine, Emil Chicoine

Photo 1 Front Row: Orville Chicoine, Ferdinand Chicoine, Donald Chicoine, …?, Ilian Bertrand, Wallace Chicoine, Theresa Chicoine, Doris Chicoine, Bernice Chicoine, Veronica Chicoine, Madonna Chicoine, Marc Chicoine, Hubert Chicoine

Photo 2 Top Row: Ora Quintal, Ella Quintal, Rose Montague, Martin Chicoine, Cora Chicoine, Marty …?, Martin Quintal, Adrian Chicoine, Leander Bertrand, Mrs. J. B. Fountain, Ruth Chicoine?, Aloysius Bourassa, Esther Bourassa, Laura Montagne Chicoine, Orise Montagne, Rachel Chicoine Dougherty holding Richard, Dalma Beaubien Montagne

Photo 2 Middle Row: Eugene Chicoine, Philip Bernard, Joe Montagne, Bert Crevier and baby, Fedora Chicoine, Leonard Chicoine, J. B. Fountain, William Chicoine?, T. D. Dougherty and child, Art Chicoine, Louis Beaubien, Clarence Montagne

Photo 2 Front Row: Claire Montagne, Madonna Chicoine, Gabriel Sirois, Oswald Montagne and child, Lucille Crevier, Maurice Chicoine

Photo 3 Top Row: Priest from Salix, Wiska Derauleau, Viola Montagne, Rosella Montagne, …?, Mr. Adams, Mrs. Adams, Sophia Menard, Mrs. Eugene Bosse, Joe Chicoine, Mrs. Joe Chicoine, Obeline Chicoine Lambert, Corrine Chicoine, Mayme Chicoine, Gertie Crevier Chicoine, Leona Chicoine Crevier, Yvone Morin Chicoine, Beatrice Chicoine, Rose Langle Chicoine, Arsenia Allard Chicoine

Photo 3 Middle Row: Joe Gregoire, Sylvester Montagne, Laurence and child, …?, Ernest Menard, Maxine Chicoine, Charlotte Crevier, …?

Photo 4 Top Row: Simone Sirois, Bertha Sirois, Genevieve Sirois, Happy Jauron with child, Mrs. Jauron, Delphine Chicoine, Irene Trudeau, Marie Perrault Chicoine, Amanda Chicoine, Regina Benjamin Chicoine, Elise Chicoine Benjamin, Marcella Chicoine, Christina Chicoine Bourassa, Mrs. Alex Bourassa

Photo 4 Middle Row: Fabien Lambert, Raymond Chaussee, Joe Chicoine, Hermidas Chicoine, Gerome Gadbois and child, Alfred Chicoine, Isaac Benjamin, Alex Bourassa, John Bourassa, Gerard Chicoine

Photo 4 Front Row: …?, …?, Pauline Chicoine, Janette Chicoine, Loretta Chicoine, …?, Bourassa child, Roger Bourassa

Not named in the key are my great-great-grandparents, Henry Joseph Adam and his wife Melanie Veronica Lutz, immediately recognizable to me although I never met either one. Two individuals standing near them, recorded as “Mr. and Mrs. Adams,” are, I believe, Henry’s uncle and aunt, Peter Adam and his wife Elizabeth Courtmanche. Both Peter and Henry’s father Timothy Adam, who died several years before this photograph was taken, were sons of Timothée Adam and Marguerite Chicoine, Marguerite being a daughter of the aforementioned Leon Chicoine and Marie Vary.

I was introduced to this photograph upon meeting for the first time a distant cousin and fellow genealogist, Jeanette Borich, in 2019. We were stunned to find that my great-great-grandmother Melanie (Lutz) Adam was standing immediately to the right of her stylishly-dressed grandmother Viola (Beaubien) Montagne in this photograph, and like to think that they would be pleased that their descendants are in touch nearly a century later.

Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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A Canine in the Courtroom

As much as I love research in historic newspaper collections, it’s not often that I find an ancestor’s name attached to a truly colorful piece. There are the expected mentions at milestones and sometimes occasional notations of one’s comings and goings in small town social columns—but rarely has an ancestor sparked his or her own headline or been featured not just in the local news, but in the newspaper of the state’s capital.

In 1927, my nineteen-year-old great grandfather managed just that. Gerald Joseph Adam, the son of Henry Joseph Adam and Melanie Veronica Lutz, was born in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, in 1908. Nineteen years later, he became involved in a spirited disagreement regarding the ownership of a particular dog. When this dispute went to court, it caught the attention of a journalist who saw the humor in the situation, and thus half a page—including photographs and sketches—was allotted to the story in the Des Moines Register.

Gerald was a recent graduate of Sioux City’s Central High School and was employed as a doorman at the downtown Princess Theater. He was also the proud owner of a German Shepherd named Fraulein. However, when another Sioux City resident attempted to claim Fraulein as his own, Gerald wound up in court—with his mother and their family cat in tow—to settle his case. He ultimately emerged victorious, but the full story, which featured several unconventional attempts to demonstrate ownership of his dog, is transcribed below:

Spanked the Baby to Settle Court DisputeSpanked the Baby to Settle Court Dispute Sun, Nov 6, 1927 – Page 67 · The Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa) · Newspapers.com

Spanked the Baby to Settle Court Dispute

“Boo-Hoo” Cried Baby Phyllis But Sioux City Justice Found Evidence Inconclusive.

BY WILLIS F. FORBES.

Sioux City, Ia., Nov. 4. – Old King Solomon of biblical fame undoubtedly was a wise old bird, but it is doubtful if ever in all his varied and colorful career he was called on to settle a more perplexing judicial problem than that which recently confronted Charles Lockie, a Sioux City justice of the peace.

Like that famous trial over which the biblical Solomon presided, the case which confronted this modern magistrate was one of disputed ownership. It had to do with a dog – and a beautiful dog it was – a fine, bright eyed, intelligent German police dog of undoubted aristocratic ancestry.

The contending claimants were Gerald Adam and C. C. Terrill, both well known and highly respected citizens with unimpeachable reputations for veracity.

Each claimed the dog and appeared in court, ably seconded by legal talent, ready and eager to produce conclusive evidence of their right to ownership.

Adam testified that he had purchased the dog from Miss Alice Spalding, well known Sioux City society woman, and that the dog later had disappeared. Miss Spalding took the stand and corroborated Adam’s story, positively identifying the animal as one she had sold to Adam.

Terrill, seconded by other witnesses, contended that the dog belonged to him. He said that the animal had been given to him when a pup and that he had raised it. F. Heitzman, who, Terrill said, had given him the dog, was present and substantiated this story. He also identified the dog.

Right at the beginning a dispute arose among the litigants as to the dog’s name. Adam said that its proper name was Fraulein, that being the name which appeared on its pedigree papers. Terrill said that the correct name was Lady, as that was what she had been christened when he first obtained her.

Unfortunately, the dog seemed to understand both German and English, as she responded to one name as readily as to the other.

For purposes of discussion in court the justice ruled that the dog would be known merely as Exhibit No. 2, and a tag bearing that inscription was attached to her collar.

Both sides of the case were prepared with ingenious plans to prove to the justice that the dog was theirs.

Mrs. Adam, the plaintiff’s mother, informed the court that she could prove it was her son’s dog by means of its fondness for cats. She said that Fraulein had always played with cats and she had brought with her the family cat to prove her contention.

The Terrill faction, however, strenuously objected to this test as being no test as all. They had brought with them another dog which they claimed was a full brother of Lady and they said that it wouldn’t chase the cat, either.

So, as the justice and the spectators breathlessly looked on, the cat was released in front of Lady’s alleged brother.

Apparently the brother dog was little interested in the fate of his sister for he had to be awakened from a sound sleep. He opened his eyes just in time to see Miss Kitty retire beneath the office safe.

The dog slowly got to his feet, ambled over to the safe and poked his nose under the strong box in the general vicinity of the cat.

Whether or not he and the pussy came to some sort of a whispered understanding during this process could not be ascertained, but when the cat finally was retrieved and held in front of the dog’s nose he merely sniffed and retired to his corner where he proceeded to go to sleep once more.

The male dog was much better behaved in the courtroom than was the female, who had to be taken out of the room so that the hearing could be conducted quietly. But, of course, he was only a disinterested spectator and she was Exhibit No. 2.

This test having failed, the Terrills presented a test which they said would prove conclusively they were the rightful owners.

They said that whenever anyone spanked a baby in Lady’s presence she would strenuously object. So they had brought 6-year-old Phyllis Theison, Terrill’s granddaughter, to court to prove the argument.

The second test was conducted rather informally in an adjoining room where Exhibit No. 2 had been taken in disgrace. It was carried out without the consent of the justice.

While the spanking process was going on the dog began to whine and jabber. If whining and jabbering could be construed as a protest against the spanking, then the dog protested. But it had been protesting so much during the whole trial that even this could hardly be taken as conclusive proof of identity.

Mrs. Adam further contended that Exhibit No. 2 was her son’s dog because it had a habit of sleeping on a davenport with its head on a pillow and because it would stand on its hind legs and drink out of the kitchen sink.

But unfortunately there was no inviting davenport nor kitchen sink included in the courtroom furniture, so these tests could not be carried out.

Somebody suggested that, inasmuch as Exhibit No. 2 and the male dog claimed to be her brother, resembled each other, a blood test might serve to settle the argument.

This was deemed inadvisable, however, and finally in desperation Justice Lockie asked if either side could produce identification marks to uphold their claim.

The Adam faction hailed this suggestion with delight. They pointed out that the registration papers which Miss Spalding had given them when she had sold Fraulein identified the animal by three little birthmarks on its neck.

The Terrill faction countered this argument by saying the marks were scars left by vaccination and they offered to produce the veterinarian who had done the vaccinating to prove it. So court was adjourned for the day so the Terrills could bring their witness to testify.

The next day Exhibit No. 2 came very near being held in contempt of court for she was late in arriving. The justice and witnesses gathered in court promptly at the designated hour, but Fraulein, or Lady, whichever you prefer to call her, failed to appear.

As it was necessary for the veterinarian to examine the disputed marks before he could testify, there was nothing to do but wait. It probably was the first time in the history of Woodbury county that a court waited for a dog.

But finally Exhibit No. 2 made her appearance and the veterinarian, after examining the spots, decided that they were birthmarks. He said he had vaccinated Terrill’s dog on her left hip.

So far as Terrill was concerned it was a “dawg-gone” case, for the learned justice decided that the dog was the rightful possession of the Adam family, the baby spanking and cat playing tests notwithstanding.

Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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Tombstone Tuesday: Wilhelm Heinrich Thoma (1827-1876)

Wilhelm Heinrich Thoma was born on 16 December 1827 in the village of Weißenstadt, located in what is now Upper Franconia, Bavaria, Germany, the son of Paulus and Elisabeth (Schmidt) Thoma. At the age of twenty-four, Wilhelm, along with his parents and six siblings, immigrated to America. Traveling aboard the Uhland, the family left Bremen bound for New Orleans, where they arrived in June 1852.

New Orleans was not to be their final destination; the family traveled up the Mississippi River until reaching northeastern Iowa, where they soon settled in the village of Garnavillo in Clayton County. A biography within The History of Clayton County, Iowa notes, “Upon coming to the United States, William Thoma proved himself an ambitious young man whose courage and determination were shown in definite action.”

On 28 May 1857, when Wilhelm, also known as William, was twenty-nine years old, he married eighteen-year-old Anna Margaretha Poesch, a fellow immigrant who also hailed from Weißenstadt. The couple had eleven known children: Frederick (1857-1925), Anna Katharina (1859-1919), John Lorenz (1861-1886), Anna Rosina (1862-1934), Margaretha B. (1864-1902), John Wilhelm (1866-1890), John Paulus (1868-1911), Anna Paulina (1869-1950), Maria Magdelena (1872-1954), John Christopher (1874-1934), and John Charles Thoma (1875-1932).

Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (www.findagrave.com : accessed 25 July 2020), photograph, Wilhelm H. Thoma (1827-1876), Memorial No. 146616631, Garnavillo Community Cemetery, Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa; photograph by Ken Johnson, 2016.

Wilhelm first entered the mercantile business while in his twenties, shortly after arriving in Iowa. In 1859, he established his own general store in Garnavillo, offering groceries and dry goods, which he operated until the time of his death. It was said at that time that “in his personal and business relations with the people he was the ‘soul of honor,’ a good, honest, straight forward man.”

Wilhelm was active in his community throughout his adulthood; his obituary noted, “In public matters Mr. Thoma has taken a lively interest, and exhibited a degree of earnest zeal in the advancement of his fellow countrymen, enjoying their confidence and support. He has held minor offices of trust, discharging the duties thereof satisfactory to the people.” One incident of note is that during the grasshopper plague of 1874, following an appeal from Kossuth County, Iowa, Wilhelm’s name was included among a list of individuals “designated to receive contributions for the grasshopper sufferers.” Furthermore, William was a member of the county Board of Supervisors at the time of his death, an office he was said to have held in “a most excellent and upright” manner.

Wilhelm Heinrich Thoma died in Garnavillo on 27 July 1876; he was forty-eight years old. Lengthy obituaries in multiple local newspapers did not share the cause of his death, but lauded his talents, one noting that he had “been counted among Clayton County’s best and most public spirited citizens,” and that “his own village loses a citizen whom it was equally a pleasure and honor to name as a friend.” Another commented upon his wealth and prominence, and called him “a man universally honored and beloved where known.” Wilhelm was buried at the Garnavillo City Cemetery in Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa.

Copyright © 2020 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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A Mother and Her Sons

Kathrine (Christensen) Walsted had lived in America for nearly thirteen years when she was photographed with her two young sons in 1919.1 She had immigrated from Denmark at the age of twenty; now in her early thirties, she resided with her husband and children in a small rental house in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa.2

Kathrine (Christensen) Walsted with sons Roy Louis Walsted and James Herman Walsted, circa 1919, Sioux City, Iowa; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2019.

It is a bit puzzling why her husband of nine years, Jens Jacob Walsted, known as James, was not photographed with her. Although James registered for the draft in September of 1918, it is not believed that he ever served in World War I.3 However, as he was a bricklayer by trade, it is possible that he traveled at times to work on building projects. Perhaps his wife wanted to surprise him with a portrait to keep with him when away. This may also be why Kathrine alone was photographed with her eldest son when he was an infant, several years prior.

Of course, James may simply not have enjoyed having his photograph taken! Although he lived to the age of seventy-five, only three informal photographs of him have been uncovered.4 One gives a glimpse of him as a young man, while the other snapshots were taken in his later years.

In any case, in this photograph, Kathrine appears elegant yet warm, with a faint smile at her lips and a hint of a dimple at her cheek. Her thick hair is pinned up in a bun, the trend of the bob having not yet swept America, and soft curls escape at her temples. She wears what might have been a white cotton voile waist.5

Her eldest son, Roy, seven or eight years old here, wears a dark suit and tie.6 His hair is neatly trimmed and combed to the side, and his expression is wide-eyed and solemn. Young James, named for his father, looks to be about a year and a half old, his fair hair in a bowl cut.7 His loose-fitting garment appears to feature some embroidery; as Kathrine was known to have been a member of a local needlecraft club, perhaps this was her own handiwork.8

Notably, Roy had barely recovered from a life-threatening brush with polio when his brother was born in November 1917. In September of that year, the Sioux City Journal had reported, “Roy Walstead [sic], 6-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. James Walstead [sic], 406 South Helen avenue, Morningside, is expected to recover completely from an attack of infantile paralysis, according to the attending physician. The boy is able to walk alone now and in six months he is expected to have recovered entirely. If recovery is complete it will constitute one of the few cases on record, according to the physician.”9

Roy did indeed recover, although he always walked with a limp, and it has been said that his younger brother was his staunch defender against bullies. However, Kathrine was surely grateful to have both of her sons by her side and in good health when, one hundred years ago, she dressed them in their finest clothes and ventured with them to the portrait studio.

Copyright © 2019 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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George and Leota

No wedding portrait of George Hiram Thoma and Anna Leota Fenton is known to exist. When they married on 23 March 1902, George was twenty-one years old while Leota had just celebrated her twenty-second birthday.1

And in fact, while photographs of their children abound, the earliest photograph yet uncovered of George and Leota together was taken twenty-six years later.

Leota (Fenton) Thoma and George Thoma, Sioux City, Iowa, 1928; digital image 2014, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2019. Collection courtesy of David Adam.

Another, a sharper yet more serious snapshot, was taken perhaps a decade or more after that.

Leota (Fenton) Thoma and George Thoma, 3500 Block of Nebraska Street, Sioux City, Iowa; digital image 2014, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2019. Collection courtesy of David Adam.

George and Leota had spent their first few years of marriage together not as Mr. and Mrs. Thoma, but as Mr. and Mrs. Neilson, before abruptly discarding this mysterious alias.

They had moved no less than half a dozen times within their first quarter-century together, first as newlyweds from Ashton, Iowa to Center, Nebraska, then to Sioux City, Iowa, then to Bassett, Nebraska, then to Decatur, Nebraska, then to Scribner, Nebraska, and finally back to Sioux City.

They had taken risks and faced failure as aspiring homesteaders and entrepreneurs.

But they had succeeded in raising four children together: Fenton, Fern, Norma, and Betty.

After years of effort to find a place to call home, they settled into a comfortable life together in Sioux City surrounded by their children and grandchildren.

They are remembered as “super grandparents” and as good, kind, fun-loving people who celebrated more than sixty years of marriage together.2

(Just not all of them were spent as Mr. and Mrs. Thoma.)

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Disturbing the Peace: A Skirmish at a Secret Society

Two days after the birth of his second child, Henry Joseph Adam of Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa got himself into a scuffle. On 26 August 1913, the Sioux City Journal reported:

After the Goat, Maybe

H. J. Adams [sic], 218 Market street, was taken into custody at 10 o’clock last night by Patrolman William Dempsey, who declared that Adams tride [sic] to break up a lodge meeting in a hall near Fifth and Douglas streets. Adams said that trouble started when he forgot the password. When the police arrived at the scene a battle was being waged between Adams and the other lodge members. He was charged with disturbing the peace.1

Henry, a carpenter by trade who was at that time thirty-two years old, was slight of build and no more than five feet five inches tall.2 Any further details of his encounter with the lodge members are unknown, including the identity of the lodge itself. The 1912 Sioux City Directory lists a number of “secret societies,” also known as fraternal organizations, located at or near Fifth and Douglas streets. The night of Henry’s encounter was a Monday, and assuming the locations and meeting times did not change between 1911, when the directory was printed, and August 1913, the only lodge meeting held on Monday nights at Fifth and Douglas streets was the Improved Order of Red Men.3 Why Henry was desperate to gain entrance to the meeting is anyone’s guess; perhaps he had a prior conflict with the organization, or perhaps he simply stumbled upon the meeting when out for a night of carousing away from the squalls of a newborn baby.

From left: Melanie (Lutz) Adam, son Gerald Joseph Adam, Henry Joseph Adam, and son Leon Francis Adam, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, circa 1915; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2019.

In any case, however, Henry was let off easy. A newspaper headline the next day announced “LENIENCY FOR HUSBAND,” and the subheading stated: “Wife Recently Became Mother, and Man Gets Freedom.” It was reported that Henry had been released the previous day out of “sympathy toward the wife.”4

Henry’s wife of almost eight years, Melanie Veronica (Lutz) Adam, must have been sincerely embarrassed by this turn of events, particularly as she was an upstanding member of a fraternal organization herself. Both Henry and Melanie were also active members of Sioux City’s Saint Jean Baptiste Catholic Church, not to mention the parents of two young children.5 However, if no news—meaning no more headlines—truly meant good news, it seems that Henry may have been able to avoid further trouble with the law for many years to come. As for whether he ever found a place within one of Sioux City’s secret societies, he did, in fact, with the Knights of Columbus.6

Copyright © 2019 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.
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