Research
* Look for census records for Telemachus B. Coffin, to add to what I know about where he was at different times.
* Start trying to find the Kiernan family that Telemachus’s wife came from.
* Continue to look for live relatives in the Scheier line.
* Figure out what events in direct line are next to find sources for. Order more original records from LDS for direct lines.

Organization
* I always forget to put this one on, but it is the most important! Back up the blog. I always put this on my calendar, and try very hard to back up on the first of the month.
* Go through the three inboxes on my desk and see what is lurking there to be put away, entered into the database, etc. [No progress on this one in November, so it stays on for December.]

Education
* Watch one online video or webinar about genealogy. [November was a challenging month to get any genealogy-related activity accomplished. We were away on vacation for 2 weeks and got home just in time to start obsessing about Thanksgiving and hosting. However, I discovered that there were 2 Legacy Family Tree webinars that had been presented and were only available free for the rest of the weekend after we got back. Both were a topic I wanted to hear. So I listened to both Mary E. Hills on organizing your research, and arian Pierre-Louis on breaking down brick walls, all on one Sunday afternoon after creating my holiday menu. Whew!]
* Start to learn about using genetics in genealogy. [I had an email from 2 different relatives at Thanksgiving about doing a test; that’s enough momentum to convince me that I need to know more about how to use a DNA test. Stay tuned.]

Research
* Continue to look for live relatives in the Scheier line. [No success in October. However, I did have a cause for a genealogy happy dance: I got registrations/certificates of marriage for two Scheier men, confirming that they were both sons of Zissel and in one case providing her maiden name and his birthplace with more than “Russia”. Her maiden name is not easy to decipher but I think I have it. ]
* Figure out what events in direct line are next to find sources for. Order more original records from LDS for direct lines. [See above for my increased motivation to do this.]

Organization
* I always forget to put this one on, but it is the most important! Back up the blog. I always put this on my calendar, and try very hard to back up on the first of the month. I’d put on backing up my genealogy database too, but I have that set up to back up in the cloud in two places. All the pictures have been another issue, until I broke down and bought a new computer with a *much* bigger hard drive. Now, a huge number of hours later the pictures are also backed up in the cloud – although only one place. Hm. Still needs tweaking.
* Label and add metadata to all the images I have scanned this Fall.
* Go through the three inboxes on my desk and see what is lurking there to be put away, entered into the database, etc.

Education
* Watch one online video or webinar about genealogy. November will be a challenging month to get this one accomplished since I am away for the first part of the month, and hosting a big family Thanksgiving at the end. I think I will probably watch/listen to one of the RootsMagic webinars that is available anytime, to give myself the most flexibility. [I listened to the Gena Philbert-Ortega webinar about finding your female relatives, sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society at the beginning of October. It was wonderful, and I learned a lot.]

Today, while avoiding the household tasks I should be doing, I have been making a spreadsheet to show the city directory I collected last week in Washington. I listened to a couple of talks about using city directories to add to what you know about a family and then when we visited the Library of Congress (I have my own official Reader card!) I started going through microfilmed city directories for the city of Milwaukee in search of the Scheiers. As an aside, choosing what to research at the Library of Congress was a very difficult choice. There are so many collections that called to me. Not to mention the history/exhibits side which we didn’t even see. And, difficult as it is to believe, we didn’t make it into the Local History and Genealogy Reading Room (not where the city directory microflims are kept).

The Scheier family has been one of my roadblocks in searching my husband’s family lines. Dan’s maternal grandmother was Pearl Scheier who married Benjamin Riddner and had two children. When I started researching his family, the only known connection was that he and my sister-in-law both had heard their mother refer to “Uncle Louis” and “Uncle Doc” – I think they actually may have met Uncle Doc when they were very young. As I started to search records I was able to document that Louis Scheier and Abe Scheier (a physician) existed in the right time and place. However, for years I was unable to find anything that actually documented their relationship to Pearl, or any of the other Scheier people I could find in the Milwaukee area. Then there was a picture of an older woman taken in Milwaukee, who I guessed was the mother of at least some of these people (why else would it be in my mother-in-law’s possession, right?

likely Zissel Scheier, in Milwaukee

I wonder if she knew who the woman in the picture was.). Intriguing hints but very little real data. This picture is still unidentified to my satisfaction, although I cannot figure out who else it might be.

I applied my usual scatter-shot approach to the problem and started looking at federal censuses, then Wisconsin sites for vital records (trying to find my mother-in-law’s birth record and her parents’ marriage among other things; also looking for anything about her brother who was rumored to have died very young). I’ve written before about some of my difficulties and about finally finding some of the Scheiers in the 1910 federal census which gave me the link between Zissel and her children Pearl, Ida, and Abe. Yay! Pearl and Abe are brother and sister, so “Uncle Doc” was an accurate title. But who is Ida? Never heard of or saw her name before. Huh. Then I found an obituary for Louis that listed his brother Abe and that connection was made.

At some point more recently, I went back to the 1910 census and noticed that Zissel reported having borne 9 children, 8 of whom were still living. So far I had 4 of them, living in this country. How many others came too? Who are they? I have been aware of a number of Scheiers in the Milwaukee area and have collected some of it, thinking they must be related. Sam Scheier, for example, was one of the witnesses for the naturalization application of Abe Scheier. Likely to be a relative, maybe or maybe not a brother. Then there is another picture from my mother-in-law of someone labeled Joseph B. Scheier on the back. Uh-oh, turns out there are 2 Joseph B. Scheiers in Milwaukee, born 5 years apart. One to Sam and one to someone else. So I have guessed that the picture is Sam’s son, and another indication that he is a relation.

Unfortunately, as is obvious, I have had too little true information and too many guestimates and assumptions to be comfortable about all this. So I went to the city directories at the LOC and – huzzah! – I found another Scheier and all of the Scheiers living together at different points. Now

Scheirs all together, 1904

this doesn’t prove that the siblings are in fact siblings, but it is another piece of the puzzle. The “new” Scheier, Julius, was the earliest Scheier I found listed, and seemed to be the key person. Going back to the censuses showed me that he was married and had 4 chidlren (including the other Joseph B.) and two of the children had appeared in the directories once old enough and employed. Looking on familysearch.org has provided me with some information about Julius’s marriage, including the invaluable listing of his parents’ names, and the birth of his three children born in this country, This was also how I pinned down which Joseph B. belonged to which parents. It turns out I was wrong about the picture and if I had only thought about the date on it I would have known that. The picture was dated as well as labelled, and the date was 1919. Sam’s son Joseph would have only been 13 that year, but Julius’s son would have been 18 and probably graduating from high school which is what the picture looks like.

Ben Riddner c 1923

I seem to be focused on family mysteries, so here is another one. This one has to do with my husband’s family and is a result of his mother not talking much about her parents or upbringing, or her life prior to marrying. The mysteries revolve around Ben Riddner, my mother-in-law’s father. The basic family information I started with was that there was a son who died, that there was a divorce, and that he was remarried and killed in an accident between a car and a train with with second wife and one of their two children. That’s it. No names, no dates, no places, no personalities. This is not only about the mysteries but also about my spending a lot of time hitting my head against a variety of brick walls, but in some cases finally breaking through.

The first wall was the son, brother to Sarah, and what his name was and the circumstances around his death were. I was told that his name might be Daniel and that he died as a young child before my mother-in-law was born. So I started combing online databases and writing letters requesting searches. Since many of these resources were Wisconsin vital records, I also searched for the marriage of Ben and Pearl.

Riddner-Scheier Marriage 1905

Lots of negative results. However, as it happens in the genealogy world, persistence and records becoming available finally produced answers. I acquired a marriage record (which also provided their parents’ names, hurrah!) and a death certificate.

I was interested to discover that Ben and Pearl married about 7 months after he arrived in this country.  He and his sister arrived in New York in June 1904 and the marriage was January 1905.  That’s fast work!  My current speculation is that they might have been some degree of cousins, and known each other (or at least known of each other) before they both settled in Milwaukee.

The death certificate for their son, Samuel, showed that he had been born September 6, 1906 and died July 28,l 1908 at not-quite 11 months old. Cause of death was given as Enterocolites (which would have been some sort of severe stomach pain). He died 4 months after my mother-in-law was born. So now we know his name was Samuel (probably named after Ben’s father who had died in Russia before Ben emigrated), not Daniel as my sister-in-law had originally guessed.

Samuel Riddner death certificate 1908

I also tried to locate the family in the federal census, and the Wisconsin state census. Tough going. The 1910 federal census was the first one I expected to find them in, and I knew that they were married and had a daughter at that time. They weren’t there. Anywhere.

Then I did something that you know you should do, but don’t always. I went back to Ancestry and looked for Ben Riddner again. Just casually, just for fun. And discovered that there was a new database up: Canadian border crossings; and look! there was Ben, crossing back into the US at Detroit in December 1910.

Detroit Crossing 1910

The records said he had been in Canada since 1908. Humph. No wonder I couldn’t find him in the 1910 census, he was not in the country. But where was his wife and daughter? As I have posted earlier, I still haven’t found Sarah but I did eventually find her mother (and grandmother and an aunt and an uncle all living together).

When Ben returned to this country in late 1910, he went to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his sister and her husband lived. I think he and his sister must have been pretty close. They emigrated together.  Why didn’t he go back to Milwaukee?  We may never know.

He settled in Fort Wayne, and two years later divorced Pearl. Interestingly, he claimed that she deserted him. The truth is less clear.

Divorce filed, March 1913

On the border crossing records, when he crossed back from Canada to the US, he said he had been in Canada since 1908. Missing information question: when in 1908 did he go and why? In 1908 there were two significant events in his family with Pearl: his daughter Sarah was born in March and his son Samuel, less than 2 years old, died in July. Both of these events happened in Milwaukee according to birth and death certificates. When Ben left did he ask his wife to go with him? Or was he leaving alone to look for work, planning to send for the family? Or was he leaving to escape the family? There is probably no way to know.

In 1914 Ben married Bessie Ganellin, in Chicago.

Ben Riddner and Bessie Ganellin, possibly wedding picture


So far, we don’t know when or why he went to Chicago, or how they met. There is some family belief that the Riddners were related to a Scheier family, and he may have had family connections in Chicago. Ben’s first wife, Pearl, was a Scheier and her younger brother was a physician in Chicago as early as 1917 and perhaps earlier. In 1914, Ben’s widowed mother, Leah Baile or Bella, emigrated to the US, and for some time she lived in Fort Wayne with Ben and Bessie (as listings in city directories show). By 1920 she was living in Chicago, just down the street from one of Bessie’s brothers. When she died in Chicago in 1930, the physician who signed her death certificate was Abe Scheier – a younger brother of Pearl. So there were certainly interactions, whether there were family relationships remains to be discovered.

And now we come to the mystery that started much of my searching for information about Ben Riddner. I had always been told that Ben and his wife and young son died in a car accident involving a train. I looked in every nook and cranny online for several years, trying to find some mention of such an accident. I figured that there would have to be newspaper coverage of an accident like that. But I didn’t even know where they were living, when I started my search. I looked all over the internet, focusing on Wisconsin and Indiana. Again, the strategy of going back and looking in places already searched finally paid off. The Friends of the Allen County Public Library put a death index online, and the Riddners were on it. I finally had a specific date and place, and I ordered the death certificates.

With the information about when and where the accident happened, I was able to find newspaper articles that described it and included pictures of Ben and Bessie. It turned out that they had recently had a stillbirth (a son) and Bessie’s father and 2 nieces were visiting from Chicago – probably to comfort her. Ben had just purchased a car and was still learning to drive. He decided to take a drive on a Sunday to practice, figuring there would be little traffic on the road. So Ben, Bessie, her father Carl and her little niece Evelyn went for a ride. The car reportedly stalled on the tracks of a railroad crossing just as a fast-moving train came through. Carl apparently saw the train approaching and broke the back window and tossed little Evelyn out of the car, saving her life. The three adults were killed at the scene.

Riddner gravestone

She should be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her mother.  She was only 2 at the time of the 1910 federal population census.

This family has been most elusive in the 1910 census.  Over the years I have tried every variation on the spelling of the last name that I can think of.  Finally, in the past year, I had some successes.

I know that her father (Ben Riddner) and her mother (Pearl Scheier Riddner) were in Milwaukee by about 1904 and married there in 1905.  I have copies of the application for the license (which gave their parents’ names – hurrah!) and the registration of the marriage.  I have a copy of Sarah’s birth certificate – she was born in Milwaukee in 1908.  There is no reason to think that the family would be anywhere else.  Except they don’t show up where I expected them to be.  And, except that the family story is that Ben left them and divorced Pearl, at some point, and moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Not clear when.

Then, having looked at everything (I thought), I went back and checked Ben’s name at ancestry.com again and – what do you know?! – a new database of crossings into the US from Canada.  And it turns out that Ben had been in Canada since sometime in 1908 until Dec. 1910.  So, no wonder I couldn’t find him in the census.  But what about his wife and child?

I started looking for Scheiers in the census.  I knew that there were Scheier relatives in Wisconsin in about the same time period.  I thought that a couple of them were brothers of Pearl, although I haven’t had evidence of that (beyond Sarah in later life calling them Uncle Doc and Uncle Louis).  I looked and looked for either of these in the 1910 census.  They, too, should be there and most likely in Wisconsin.  Eventually, and just recently, I finally found Abe (later Dr. Abe) under the name Abe Sheer (at least that is how it was indexed).  And, surprise!, when I looked at the image, he was living with his mother, Susie Sheir (Zissel or Zietle Scheier) and two sisters: Ida Sheer and Pearl Viddne (a misspelling of Riddner I never thought of).  A bonus.  I have some evidence that Abe and Pearl were brother and sister.  And found another sister.

But I still have missing Scheiers, and now I also have a mystery.  Pearl was still married at that point.  And she had a 2 year old daughter, who was not enumerated in the same household.  Why not?  Was Sarah living somewhere else at the time?  Why would she have been?  The remaining person I know about in this family, Louis Scheier, is still among the missing in the 1910 census.  The line for Susie or Zietle also shows that she had 9 children, 8 of whom were still living in 1910.  So I’m looking for at least 3 more Scheiers, somewhere in the world.  I have just finished going through the pages for the Ward and District that these Scheiers were in, page by page.  No Louis and no Sarah.  I tried looking at Heritage Quest briefly today, and still no Louis or Sarah.  So I have my work cut out for me.  Any suggestions are welcome as I make finding these two a goal for 2010.

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