Tag: Maps

Maps. Another Layer to the Story

Yesterday I presented virtually at the 13th Annual Minnesota Northstar Genealogy Conference. What a difference it is to present to an audience you cannot see, but know are there because the number of attendees is listed on the Go To Meeting dashboard.It was a great conference, and I am glad that I have my first virtual presentation under my belt. I look forward to doing it again, and I am hopeful that we will soon be meeting in person.

While tweaking my Maps presentation for this conference, I found a map that I feel adds, well, “another layer to the story” of the Lady Elgin. This 1857 Map of the Milwaukee & Superior Rail Road and its Connections. [1]

Trying to imagine what happened that day when the news of the disaster reached the Cook household, my mind goes in two directions. William might have been waiting at home on the farm in Stockbridge, Calumet County, with Sarah, James, Samuel, Alfred, Albert, and Henrietta. Or just as likely the family had traveled to Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac County, where both Mary Catherine and Watson were living. Kate had married Conner W. Healy in Fond du Lac on 14 Dec 1858, and Watson married Judith Louisa Drake in Stockbridge on 12 Oct 1859.

If I were planning this return welcome, I would choose the latter, as Jane, Elizabeth Ann, and Jacob would have been exhausted from their long journey home. First boarding the propeller The Sun in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada, traveling through the Great Lakes to Milwaukee. Once arriving in Milwaukee they would have caught the Milwaukee and Superior Railroad line to Cedarburg. In Cedarburg, they would have transferred to the Fond Du Lac Air Line to Fond du Lac. If you look at Calumet County lined in pink, you can see that the Manitowoc & Mississippi Rail Road was already entering the county, but was still a considerable distance from their home in Stockbridge. Arriving in Fond du Lac they would have been met with the whole family and been able to celebrate their return while taking a much-needed rest from their travels. 

What prompts me to write this post is not this anticipated happy welcome home, but the trip that William, Watson, and Jacob would make. The route they would have taken both going to Chicago, and the sad return trip home. 

As I see it in my mind’s eye, the news reached Fond du Lac, and it was from there that William and Watson boarded the Fond du Lac Air Line, riding the line to Cedarburg where they transferred to the Milwaukee & Superior line. Reaching Milwaukee, they boarded the Milwaukee and Chicago Railroad and headed south to meet Watson. Was he waiting for them in Racine, Racine County which is where he had been rescued? Or had he traveled to Milwaukee to wait. I would guess that after so many hours in the water being battered and thrown around by the waves, he was waiting for them in Racine. One can just imagine the hugs, the tears, and the joy of seeing Jacob. But also the tears and fears of what still was ahead of them when they reached Chicago. 

This brings to mind another question. In his own words, Jacob states: “It was about 2 o’clock in the night when the boat went down and about 5 the next afternoon I drifted in near enough to the shore to reach the end of a pole held out to me by a man suspended by a rope in the hands of several others from the top of that high clay bank south of Racine.” [2] Did the family stay at home till they heard from Jacob, or did they immediately prepare to leave for Chicago? 

I would guess that plans were made for the younger children to remain with Kate and Judith. Watson and Judith had a newborn son. Arthur Watson Cook was born 11 Jul 1860, and Kate and Conner’s little boy, Henry George Healy, would be celebrating his first birthday on October 4th. Two little nephews to keep entertained would help pass the time. 

The Lady Elgin was struck around 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning near Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois, then drifted south towards Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois where “it began to go to pieces.” [3] The high winds and waves sent Jacob north towards Racine, while other passengers went south towards Chicago. 

Just look at how the railway line hugs the shore of Lake Michigan! Joining Jacob in Racine, most likely on Sunday, September 9th, the three men traveled the rails to Chicago. I can just imagine Jacob looking out the window of the train noting landmarks that he could just see above the waves as he clung to “a piece of plank about eighteen inches wides by six feet in length.” [4] All three looking desperately for any sign of Jane and Elizabeth out on the water. Would Jacob have recognized the spot where the Lady Elgin was hit by the Augusta? Or was it too dark for him to recognize an exact location? 

Elizabeth Ann’s body was recovered on Tuesday, September 11th and brought with the 14 other bodies recovered that day to the Chicago Courthouse, to be laid out for identification. As Watson described it in a letter to his sister, they did not recognize her the first day, but upon returning the next morning after she had been “washed” and put in a coffin, they found her. [5]

We do not know how long William and his sons stayed in Chicago, watching, waiting, praying that they would see the face of Jane. But at some point, they would have arranged for Elizabeth Ann’s coffin to travel north to Stockbridge. Most likely she was sent home as soon as she was recognized – you couldn’t just take a coffin back to the boarding house, and park it. 

And then the long, sad trip home. Riding the Milwaukee and Chicago Railroad north, past the spot at Winnetka where the Lady Elgin broke into pieces, past the spot near Waukegan where the Lady Elgin was struck, and following the bobbing path of Jacob to Racine as he clung on for dear life, hoping to be rescued. 

Sources:

  1.  Nesbitt & Company, and Milwaukee And Superior Railroad Company. Map of the Milwaukee & Superior Rail Road and its connections. New York, 1857. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/98688717/.
  2.  “An Appleton Man’s Escape. His Mother and Sister Were Both Lost—The Former’s Body Never Recovered,” Milwaukee Sentinel, 4 Sep 1892.
  3.  “Graves of Lady Elgin Dead Desecrated,” The Chicago Sunday Tribune, 26 May 1899, Sunday, p. 1, part 4; Editorial Sheet; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 4 Jul 2018).
  4. Ibid.
  5.  Watson Henry Cook (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin) to Loretta Elliott, Letter, 10 Mar 1861; privately held by CaroleAnne Prentice Chepurny. Also: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/memories/KC97-CQL

Sanborn Maps and the S.A. Cook Home

Through an email conversation with a distant cousin, the question arose as to whether or not there would have been a barn on Samuel A. Cook’s property on Commercial Street, Neenah, Winnebago, Wisconsin. Knowing that he lived in the city of Neenah, I said that I did not think that would be likely. Hmmm, let me see what I can find.

Photograph courtesy of the Neenah Public Library. WI.np100161.bib; accessed 10 May 2020

This past weekend I spent some time with the Neenah Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps from the Library of Congress webpage, and made a really fun discovery. I have used and referenced these maps many times over the years, but till now, had not come across an ancestor’s home that was relevant enough to be included. 

We have photographic images of the home before/or about the time it was sold to the YWCA in 1934, and before it was demolished in 1965. Three neighboring homes were also demolished to make room for the new YMCA building. Funny side note. According the Neenah-Menasha Y page, https://neenahmenashay.weebly.com/previous-homes.html “His [S.A’s] wife at the time, Jennie Christie is to be know [sic] for donating the home to the program, but little is know [sic] as who she is.” Jennie passed away in 1895 and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. [1] Samuel died in 1918 and is buried next to his wife. [2] It would have been their daughter, Maud Christie Cook Lancaster who donated the home to the YWCA. 

The Neenah Public Library has another image of the house in their collection, looking at the home from the north along what is now known as North Water Street. 

Photograph courtesy of the Neenah Public Library. WI.np100382.bib; accessed 10 Mar 2020

We also have an image of the house when a reunion photo was taken in August 1906. The one I am using here I put it through the new MyHeritage colorization function, which is so much fun to use, give it a try. You need to create a login to use the feature, but as of today, you don’t need a paid subscription to colorize a few images. Find it here: https://www.myheritage.com/incolor?s=423434371

Cook Family Reunion, August 1906

Back to the question that started this process. Would there have been a barn on this property? To answer that, I turned to the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps to see if by chance, this house was included. I was so excited to discover that yes, S.A.’s home was included in a number of the years available on the Library of Congress website. Find them here: https://www.loc.gov/collections/sanborn-maps/?fa=location:wisconsin%7Clocation:winnebago+county%7Clocation:neenah

The oldest maps, August 1884 and September 1887, do not include the block that the home which was reportedly built in 1875, [3] was built upon, but I find it in 1891, 1895, 1900, 1906, and 1913. The Key [4] tells me that it is a Dwelling, Frame construction, two stories, with a shingle roof. There is a “stable”[5] on the property, although it is not very large in relation to the house. The 1906 and 1913 map tell us that the stable is approximately 30’ from the Fox River. Residing with S. A. and his family in the 1900 Federal Census [6] is John Pahlman, a servant, age 26, occupation: care of yard and barn. By the 1905 Wisconsin State Census [7], Enoy Chenett, age 24, had taken John’s place as the “coachman.”  In 1910 [8] Enoy had moved on, and John Demandt, age 22, occupation: servant, industry: private home, was residing with the family. So we now know there was a “stable” on the property. S.A. was an early adopter of the automobile, owning one by the August 1906 family reunion, as it was reported by his nephew, L. H. Cook, editor of the Marathon County Register that “Saturday morning S.A. Cook with his touring car and three other like machines that he had chartered left Neenah with the party for a trip around Lake Winnebago.” [9]

What I find most interesting is the porches, how much they change. Is this the fault of the artist drawing the map, or did S.A. actually change the façade so often? And what is that little nubbin that appears on the south side of the house in 1891 and 1900, on what might have been the fireplace wall? 

Taking a look at the change between the 1900 map and the 1906 map, you can see where they closed in part of the original open porch. Moving to the second image of the home from the Neenah Public Library, I have marked in red this part of the home that was enclosed sometime between 1900 and 1906. 

The enclosed porch addition

I am very curious as to what the plain small (as shown in the photograph) one story building (as indicated by the number 1 on the maps) at the back of the much more ornate 2 story section, was actually used for – could this have been the kitchen?

Oh to actually see interior images of this home, plus more detailed exterior shots. For now we have the Sanborn maps combined with the few images we have. I guess I should count myself lucky.


  1. Find A Grave memorial link: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/23764453/jennie-cook
  2. Find A Grave memorial link: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7181675
  3. Neenah Citizen, News Item, Neenah Citizen (Neenah, Wisconsin), 1998 Calendar produced by the Neenah Citizen, “Lost Neenah ~ Neenah’s architectural heritage, lost but not forgotten.”  Cit. Date: 10 Nov 2005.  
  4. Description of the terms used in the Key: https://www.loc.gov/collections/sanborn-maps/about-this-collection/
  5. The Key for the map labels it as such.
  6. 1900 U.S. census, Winnebago County, Wisconsin, population schedule, City of Neenah, 3rd Ward, enumeration district (ED) 127, sheet 1, p. 141A, dwelling 12, family 13, S. A. Cook household; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Apr 2001); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 1824.
  7. 1905 State Census, Winnebago County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Neenah, 3rd Ward, p. 10, family 1, line 1-6, S. A. Cook household; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 Feb 2007). 
  8. 1910 U.S. census, Winnebago County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Town of Neenah, City of Neenah, Third Ward, enumeration district (ED) 126, sheet 5, p. 279A, dwelling 52, family 53, Samuel A Cook household; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 31 Aug 2004); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T624, roll 1744.  
  9. “From The Chilton Times,” (Unity) Marathon County Register, 17 Aug 1906, Friday, p. 2, col. 3. Cit. Date: 18 Nov 2003.  

A Closer Look at the Map

Cook_Jacob_1872_Drew-St_Lawrence
1872 John Stephens Map of Appleton. Block 35, Lot 5

Writing two posts in a row that referenced the John Stephens 1872 Map of the City of Appleton, I found myself surprised at how different the city looked over the span of the few blocks between the addresses that I was studying. Looking at the map of the first address, the Jacob Harrison Cook home on Drew Street, the neighborhood looks much as it does today, recognizable at least. And this would make sense as it was located close to Lawrence University, which was founded in 1847, just as the city was being settled. Appleton would not incorporate as a village until 1853, and as a city until 1857. The biggest change that would occur near Jacob’s home  in Block 35, Lot 5, is that the University Grounds would be broken up, streets would run through it, and City Park would be established in 1882. But this neighborhood 144 years later, is recognizable. A few blocks to the west, the view of the city is very different, still wild, and not heavily inhabited. Lot 14 in Section 26 of the John Stephens 1872 map changed greatly over the years. And I find it fascinating, and frustrating. I realized that in order to truly understand the property as it changed from 1872 till 1901, I needed to start with the basics, the plat map showing the Township and Range, in this case the SW 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of Township 21 and Range 17, Section 26. See the map below with all my red markings.

EPSON MFP image
Section 26, showing Lot 14

On September 25, 1882, a Sheriff’s Certificate was filed in Outagamie County, for the sale of the above named land to Gustave Zuehlke. I have been unable to locate the actual deed in the records online at FamilySearch.org, but it is referenced in the Quit Claim Deed filed December 9, 1882, when he sold the land to Christina Gross for $128.00. [1] A Quit Claim Deed is usually filed between family members, yet a quick search on Ancestry.com for Christina Gross, only told me that she was 53 years old in 1880, and lived on Packard Street, which is the street that runs below Lot 14. I am not sure if she is related to Gustave Zuehlke.

Fassbender_Peter_1872_Lot-14_John_Stephens_Map_edited-1
1872 John Stephens Map including Lot 14

Continuing my search for the next sale, I was surprised to discover a Warranty Deed for Lot 14 with an earlier date, March 13, 1882. [2]  In this sale, Christina, along with her husband Mathias sold to Lewis Albrecht the North 246 feet of the lot, for $600.00. With this sale, the large lot that measured 162 feet fronting Packard, and 495 feet along State Street, was starting to be divided and developed.

Map_Appleton_1889_Foote
Crop of an 1889 Map of Appleton

Two years later, State Street had continued north along the edge of Lot 14, and so the lot was reduced by approximately 38 feet, leaving a depth of 123.19 feet. It was at this time that Lewis, his wife Christine, Christina Gross and her husband Mathias, sold the North 60 feet of the South 180 feet of the lot. The purchaser, J. W. Corter, paid $350.00 for this small piece of land. The description of the sale makes me feel that I have missed a sale somewhere, as the numbers don’t add up, but this cropped image from an 1889 map, clearly shows the land that the Albrecht’s owned, and the smaller parcel that belonged to Corter. Time to get confused again, as on May 29, 1893, Mathias and his wife Christina Gross sold ALL of Lot 14 excepting the South 240 feet, and the parcel dedicated to State Street to B. W. Robeling for $500.00. [3]  Robeling in turn sold the North 60 feet of the South 300 feet to Peter Miller on September 18, 1893 for $475.00. [4] He in turn sold this exact land description, including a house to Peter Fassbinder [sic] on April 17, 1901, for $1,600.00. [5]  The block would continue to change in appearance over the next few years, but has now become recognizable as we see it in 2016. These two maps, Assessor Maps, one from 1900 and the other dated 1907 show the final changes. By 1907 Peter’s lot was known as Number 5, and the current description of this lot today reads: “FIFTH WARD PLAT 5WD N7FT OF LOT 4 AND ALL OF LOT 5 BLK 17” Peter’s grandson, Arthur Ellenbecker, and owner of his grandfather’s home until his death in 2003,

NW-1907 Assessor Plat
1907 Assessor Map
NW-CHG-1900
1900 Assessor Map

explained that his aunt, Anna Fassbender, had purchased the home on Lot 4 to use for her dressmaking business. When Peter decided to build a garage, he took this small parcel so as to make a proper driveway, and a better placement for the freestanding garage. Appleton.org produces nice maps of neighborhoods, and includes interesting facts about the homes here in Appleton. This is how the block looks today, in 2016. On this map it is very easy to see how the garage sits right on the property line. According to this site, the home has once again been converted back into a single family home, from the duplex that it was in 1999 when I took this picture, and when I first visited with Arthur.

1999 StateStreet2
SCFassbender Photo ~ August 1999
Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 3.06.04 PM
Appleton.org, accessed 14 Mar 2016

I am still amazed at how complicated buying and selling city property was in the late 1800s. I know that I am missing some of the buying and selling of Lot 14. The numbers just don’t add up. So in reality a stop at the courthouse is in order. But I don’t regret the exercise that I tasked myself with, of using the un-indexed records found on FamilySearch.org to learn more about the land and home that would shelter Fassbenders for over 100 years, from 1901 until 2003.

SOURCES :

  1. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-5633-20?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1882-1886, vol. 56; image 56 of 644; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  2. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,”images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-4015-60?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1881-1882, vol. 53; image 277 of 646; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  3. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-30335-60?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1893, vol. 83; image 280 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  4. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-31835-88?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1893, vol. 83; image 587 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  5. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-50055-67?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1900-1901, vol. 103; image 586 of 663; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.

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John Stephens 1872 Map of Appleton

Fassbender_Peter_1925ca_State-St
769 State Street (now 529 North State Street) 1925 ca

I like to challenge myself in new ways of looking at the genealogy search, and the tools that are at hand, most often these days, the tools available to me from the comfort of my own home and computer. As I pondered how I wanted to expand on the information about Peter’s house on State Street to include in my book about the Fassbenders, I wondered how far back I could trace the property. Now I know that I could have jumped into the car and driven the ten minutes downtown to the courthouse, walked in, and asked for all they had on 529 North State Street, but that would have been almost too easy, and kinda rude. And because it was early on a Sunday morning and I was still in my robe, it wasn’t going to happen. So I did the next best thing, and turned to FamilySearch. As I have mentioned before they have in their collection, available for browsing, a large segment of the early deeds for Outagamie County. I started in 1901 and moved backwards.

Peter Fassbinder (sic) purchased the home from Peter Miller on April 17, 1901. [1]  The purchase price was $1,600.00. Moving in to town after having lived almost 40 years on acreage, and wide open spaces, he now lived on a lot 60 X 123, “more or less.” This had to be quite the adjustment, and a huge change in the way that they lived. What caught my eye on this Warranty Deed was the phrase: “…according to John Stephens map of the City of Appleton, published in the year 1872.” John Stephens had mapped this parcel as Lot 14, in Section 26. The piece that Peter purchased was the North 60 feet, of the South 300 feet of Lot 14. So, it would appear that Lot 14 had been divided into two parcels of land by 1901.

According to the City of Appleton, a home was built on this lot in 1894. (Still kicking myself that I had not noticed that this home sadly went into foreclosure in August 2012. It would have been so much fun to make this house special again.) Knowing the year the house was built, I was pretty confident that Peter Miller was the owner who had built the home – just seven years old when Peter and Elizabeth purchased it, and moved to Appleton.

Moving backwards, I discovered that Peter Miller had purchased the lot from B. W. Robeling on September 18, 1893, paying $475.00 for this unimproved piece of land. [2] Looking at the City Directory for 1893, I found no listing for Peter Miller, but found William B. Robeling residing in Brigg’s House. My next step was to discover how long W. B. Robeling had owned the property.

B. W. Robeling (As I type Robeling, I can’t help but think rambling. Which I hope I am not doing). B. W. Robeling purchased ALL of Lot 14, excepting the south 240 feet, from Mathias and Christina Gross on May 29, 1893, for $500.00. The lot size listed was 123.19 from State Street more or less, and 123 more or less in depth. [3]

It was time to search for the John Stephens map of 1872. I was pleasantly surprised that I could view this map in my robe, and without a drive to the library. It was online! This section of Appleton in 1872 looked very different than it does today, a side by side comparison with Google was needed.

Fassbender_Peter_1872_Lot-14_John_Stephens_Map_edited-1
A crop of John Stephens 1872 Map of Appleton
Fassbender_Peter_2016-03-12_Lot-14_Google
2016-03-12 Google Map

It is now apparent just how large this original parcel of land was. Lot 14 is just above the “T” at the bottom of the original map. The road that would eventually cut through this parcel, and is just visible below the “T” is unnamed on this map.

I think that I will stop this post with the Robeling purchase, stop my rambling, and continue with another post soon. Unless I have lost you all together.

SOURCES:

  1. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-50055-67?cc=1463639 : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1900-1901, vol. 103 > image 586 of 663; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  2. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-31835-88?cc=1463639 : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1893, vol. 83 > image 587 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  3. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-30335-60?cc=1463639 : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1893, vol. 83 > image 280 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.

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