09 July 2011

Treasures from the To-File Pile: Danes' Mystery Solved

This is another example of how working through the To-File Pile can take up a whole week....  Warning: this post carries a tragic death.

I picked up a bundle of scans on the Hegwer/Danes family sent to me by genealogy cousin Christi two years ago, thinking it would be something I could quickly file, but then I remembered Christi had said something about not knowing who all the people were.  I know that I read the whole packet several times when Christi emailed it:  I had been so elated to receive the few pages from a family Bible.  It was still easy to pick out the strangers' names: the deaths of two McCRACKENs in the Bible and a newspaper clipping about the suicide of a LIVERMAN.  Neither name was anywhere in my database or memory. I decided to try again to identify them before filing the printouts.  I reread all 19 pages; no answers, so I set them down.  The next night, I reread all 19 pages again.  This time it hit me that the obituary clipping was for the mother of Albert Wentling Danes, my step-great-grandfather (link to earlier blog about his marrying my great-grandmother Richardson).  While my copy of the newsclipping was completely unidentified, I found a much more legible copy of it at Colorado Historic Newspapers [1]:
I suddenly saw that her survivors included Al Danes (as well it should, since he was her son) and a "Mrs. McCracken!"  Aha: The mysterious McCracken's in the Bible must be related to Albert Wentling Danes and probably to a sister of his who married a McCracken!  This revelation had only taken a couple of years and another dozen reads to click in my little head....
 The Bible image is not too clear--just barely discernible:
xxx Edith McCracken Died July xx 1900 at Cortez      10 years
Earl McCracken Died April 10 1901 at Cortez    age 19
A return trip to Colorado Historic Newspapers found a brief mention for one of them [2]:
At Cortez, on Saturday last, Edith, the 10-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. McCracken, was stricken with that dread disease, diptheria, and, before proper remedies could take effect, the handsome, lovable child was a corpse.  The remains were buried the same night, and blighted hearts are within that recently happy home.  "Whom God loveth, He chasteneth.
It was easy to find the children in the 1900 census at Cortez, Montezuma, Colorado, with parents Jas H. and Minnie McCracken. Sadly, Minnie was listed as having had only 2 children, both living. How sad to think that less than a year after enumeration day, both of those children were dead. To verify, I searched in the 1910 census, easily finding James and Minnie in Denver, Denver, Colorado, with all data matching, including that Minnie had had 2 children who were both deceased. Suddenly, another revelation: the McCracken's were in the same household as a Jennie Liverman and her son, Kenneth.

Quickly, I went back to the obituary: sure enough, Mrs. Danes also had a surviving daughter, Mrs. Liverman.  Today's genealogy moral: read it, read it again, and then keep reading it over and over again.  Someday, it will sink in.  And, did you just see the other revelation? 

It took me a few more minutes, but then I went back to the suicide news clipping:  Kenneth Liverman.  More great sadness.  My copy of the clipping is barely legible and would only be a smudge here and Colorado Historic Newspapers doesn't have The Denver Times for that year.  Here's an excerpt from the long article headlined "Rejected Youth Ends Own Life" [3]:

Kenneth Liverman 17 years old ... committed suicide by shooting at the Albany hotel at 8 o'clock last night. The boy ended his life because Miss Julie Stewart, a 16-year-old student at the Central Business College refused to marry him. ... The boy left a note, addressed to his mother, ... in which he begs her not to worry over his death. He said that he had been forced to pawn her watch and his violin in order to secure money with which to purchase a revolver.  ... Young Liverman was an accomplished musician and linguist.  He and his mother had returned to Denver from Germany only last June.  For the past three years the boy had studied music in Leipsic, Germany, and also had studied for the stage.  He spoke German and French fluently.  A few weeks ago, Liverman, at the suggestion of his mother, entered the Central Business college to study shorthand.  She thought it would be better to prepare the boy for the management of a fortune left him by his father. ...
Quick research over the last week easily found more on the Liverman's and McCracken's, especially at Findagrave [4] and Colorado Historic Newspapers.  Certainly the refusal was a precipitating event, but also in the last 10 years, he had experienced the deaths of his 2 young cousins, his father, and his grandmother.  He had been uprooted to leave friends and family for Germany and then uprooted again to return to Colorado.  It's hard being a teenager in the best of circumstances.  Clearly, Kenneth had had more than his share of pain in just a few years.

Conclusions
  • Sometimes it takes reading something repeatedly before it sinks in or before the connections click.  (That's not just me, is it?)
  • Family keep clippings in a Bible for a reason.  With time, the reason can be found.
  • I will email the Liverman volunteer at Findagrave to see if he would like any of the info I have.
  • The To-File Pile is still not any smaller than it was.

Sources
[1] Durango Democrat (Durango, La Plata, Colorado); 18 Nov 1906; p. 1.  Found at www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org.  NOTE: I love this website and think it is the best of the historic newspapers sites.  Still, its OCR needs lots of work-arounds.  This article did not turn up through their search engine when searched for 'Danes,' 'Skeels,' 'Liverman,'or 'Cracken.'  I had the family Bible notation that she had died in Nov 1906 in Durango.  I already had a copy of the article, and given the margins, it appeared that the article was from the bottom of a page.  So, I went to Colorado Historic Newspapers, saw that they had the Durango Democrat for November 1906, and I started skimming every page from 1 Nov 1906.  Luckily for me, there are only four pages per issue and I only had to read to the 18th of the month!

[2] Durango Democrat (Durango, La Plata, Colorado); 1 Aug 1901; p. 3.  Found at www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org.

[3] Denver Times; 6 October 1910 (copy of the annotated clipping in the collection of the blogger).

[4] Searching at Findagrave.com for Liverman's in Colorado quickly gives photos and lots of info on the family, courtesy of Greg Liverman and Joyce Escue Culver.  Thank you, Findagrave volunteers!!!

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