Wordless Wednesday: Thanksgiving Day Greetings

(Almost, but not quite . . .) Wordless Wednesday

"Thanksgiving Day Greetings"
Vintage postcard circa 1912: “Thanksgiving Day Greetings”

A card addressed to “Mrs. Geo. Schenk”, my great grandmother Mary G. (Rumping) Schenk, postmarked November 1912, from “Gussie”, Mary’s cousin Augusta “Gussie” (Rumping) Engelman.

The note on the back cuts right to the chase –

Greetings from Gussie. Why don’t you write?

Back of vintage postcard, circa 1912
Back of vintage postcard, circa 1912

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Amanuensis Monday: Johann (John) Schenck

Amanuensis Monday is a popular ongoing series created by John Newmark at Transylvanian Dutch.

“Amaneunsis” is defined as “one employed to write from dictation or to copy manuscript”.1

Today I decided to transcribe a short biography of Johann Schenck from page 1 of The Family Histories of Johann Schenck and Katharina Ziegler. Johann and Katharina are my second great grandparents.

Johann Frederick Schenck circa 1880

JOHANN (JOHN) SCHENCK was born in Switzerland on 1 Jan 1845.
As of this writing his exact birthplace and parentage have not been
located. According to one of his granddaughters, Katherine “Kitty”
Eisenbart Hathorn he was married first to a woman by the name of
Wuermuth (sp?). They had a son, John H. Schenck, who was born in
Michigan but never married and after the death of his father he
resided at the home of his uncle Christian Schenck. He was
unmarried and died in Red Jacket, Calumet, Michigan. His half-
brothers and sisters were notified of his death which occurred on
11 April 1917 according to the probate record.
John’s second marriage was to Katharine Ziegler on 4 Sep 1869
in Houghton, Houghton County, Michigan. They were married by a
Minister of the Gospel, T. E. Weber. The two witnesses were
Christian Schenck, John’s brother, and George Ziegler, Katherine’s
According to tradition (no verification) the two sons with
their father emigrated to America when the boys were in their early
years. The related story is that their father died en route and
was buried at sea. It is believed that the two sons John and
Christian located in the upper peninsula of Michigan referred to as
the Iron Mountain Range) located in the Northwestern part of the
state. It may be assumed the brothers were miners coming from and
locating in a mining area, although John’s death certificate
records his trade as a butcher but cause of death was consumption
which many of the miners were susceptible to.
John and Christian lived in many small communities in
northwestern Michigan including Hancock, Osceola, Houghton,
Franklin Mine, Quinesse, and Iron Mountain.
John was employed by Clark’s butcher Shop at the time of his
death which occurred on April 27, 1884 in Iron Mountain, Dickinson
County, Michigan, leaving a widow with eight children.2

I have done some independent research on Johann and will post a blog post in the future that compares this biography against the research I’ve done.

  1.  Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary : accessed 21 November 2016,amaneunsis.”
  2. Janetski, Edithann Rowe, and the Living Schenck Descendants, compilers. The Family Histories of Johann Schenck and Katharina Ziegler. Great Falls, Montana: Privately printed, 1996.

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A “shaky” leaf . . .

I usually ignore those “shaky” leaves on Ancestry. But this one – from the Indiana Wills and Probate Records collection – immediately caught my eye.

Probate and Will Record of Blasius Specht, pg. 395
Probate and Will Record of Blasius Specht, pg. 395
Probate and Will Record of Blasius Specht, pgs. 396 and 397
Probate and Will Record of Blasius Specht, pgs. 396 and 397

My 3rd great grandfather, Blasius Specht, was born 6 February 1817 in Forchheim (A. Emmendingen), Baden, Germany1 and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1833 when he was only 16 years old2.

I have not yet determined the exact date, but within a year or two he most likely married my 3rd great grandmother Frances Effa “Eva” Gueringer. Blasius and Eva had six children, including my 2nd great grandmother Eva Frances in 18513.

Eva Specht died sometime between 1851 and 1853 and Blasius married Otillia (marriage date and Otillia‘s maiden name unknown at this time).  Blasius and Otillia had one son, Blasius Specht Jr., in 18554.

This probate record is lengthy but the will itself is quite interesting, particularly with regard to the provisions Blasius made for his second wife Otillia. See paragraph “8th” below.

Here is the transcription.

[Transcription, page 395]

Last Will and Testament of Blasius Specht Deceased.

Be it remembered, That on the 19th day of November 1874
George Maier, one of the subscribing witnesses to the within
and foregoing “Last Will and Testament of Blasius Specht
Deceased late of said County, and filed in the Office of the
Clerk of said Circuit Court said. Which will was duly
proven and admitted to probate. Which will and the
proof thereon is in the words and figures following towit:
Sand Creek Township Jennings County Indiana, Novem-
ber 5th, 1874.5 “In the name of the most holy Trinity God, the
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I Blasius Specht of Sand Creek
Township, Jennings County, Indiana being perfect, sound
mind, have concluded that, after my decease, the following test-
amentary disposition shall be made of all my property to

          1st. My body shall be decently and according to
usuage [sic] interred.

                                 2nd. As heir general I write and name
my son, Blasius Specht, who shall receive all my Real Estate
in Sand Creek Township6 under condition, that, four years
after my decease he shall pay in all, without interest Four
Hundred Dollars7 to other six children namely, Peter Specht,
Frederick Specht, John Specht, Catharine Specht, Christina
and Eva Specht.

                                               3rd. My personal property shall
after my decease, be sold at public auction, and after my
wife Odilia Specht, has received her lawful share, the remain-
der shall be equally divided between my six above named

                   4th. My property in North Vernon, Jennings County
Indiana I bequeath to my above named children, Peter Specht,
Frederick, John, Catharine, Christina and Eve [sic].

                                                                                     5th. Until my son
Blasius Specht shall have attained his majority my wife
Odilila Specht, shall administrate everything in such
a manner that neither the Court nor law shall have
to make any disposition.

                                                6th. My son Blasius Specht
shall four years after my decease pay separately to
my daughter, Catharine Specht, Fifteen Dollars8.

[Transcription, page 396]

Last Will and Testament of Blasius Specht, Deceased.

7th. The eastern room of the lower story shall be at the dispo-
sal of my wife Odililia Specht during her lifetime.

My wife Odilia Specht, and my heir general, Blasius Specht
shall live together, but in case they could no longer agree, then
my son Blasius Specht shall have the obligation of making
a yearly delivery to my wife Odilia Specht as follows: four
hundred pounds of flour, five bushels of potatoes, one fattened
hog of two hundred pounds, ten bushels of corn pasturage
and winter feed for one cow, the third part of the vegetable
garden, twenty dollars9, and in case of sickness of my
wife Odilia Specht, my son, Blasius Specht, shall
procure her medical aid and medicine; also if on ac-
count of infirmity, she should be prevented from labor-
ing, he shall give her the third part of the garden vegeta-
bles further, my son Blasius Specht shall give her as
much ready made fire wood as she needs.

                                                                                  9th. Finally
in confirmation of this, I have not only signed this
my “Last Will and Testament” with my own hand, but
have also requested the necessary witnesses to do the
same. Sand Creek Township Jennings County Indiana.
November 5th 1874.
                                                                     Blasius Specht {Seal}
George Maier {Seal}
George Kipper {Seal}

Be it known, That on the 19th day of November 1874, George 
Meir, one of the subscribing witnesses to the within and fore-
going “Last Will and Testament of Blasius Specht, late of
said County deceased, personally appeared before Joseph 
L. Reiley, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Jennings County, in the
State of Indiana and being duly sworn by the Clerk
of said Court, upon his oath declared and testified
as follows: that is to say, that on the 5th day of Novem-
ber 1874 he saw the said Blasius Specht, sign his name
to said instrument in writing, as and for his “Last
Will and Testament, and that this deponent at the
same time heard the said Blasius Specht, declare

[Transcription, page 397]

declare [sic] the said instrument in writing to be his last will
and testament, and that the said instrument in writing
was at the same time at the request of the said Blasius
, and with his consent attested and sub-
scribed by the said affiant and George Kipper, in
the presence of the said Testator and in the presence
of each other, as subscribing witnesses thereto, and
that the said Blasius Specht was at the time of the sign-
ing and subscribing of the said instrument in writing
as aforesaid of full age (that is more than twenty
one years of age) and of sound and disposing
mind and memory, and not under any coercion or
restraint as the said deponent verily believes, and further
deponent says not.

                                                            George Mair
Sworn to and subscribed by the said George Mair before
me, Joseph L. Reiley, Clerk of said Court, at Vernon,
the 19th day of November 1874. In attestation whereof,
I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed the
seal of said Court.

                                                           Joseph L. Reiley, Clerk

The State of Indiana   }
Jennings County         }  I Joseph L. Reiley, Clerk of the Circuit
Court of Jennings County, Ind. do hereby
certify that the within amended last will and testament
of Blasius Specht has been duly admitted to probate
and duly proved by the testimony of George Mair, one
of the subscribing witnesses thereto, that a complete
record of said Will, and of the testimony of the
said George Mair in proof thereof has been by me duly
made and recorded in book 2, at pages 395, 396
& 397, of the records of wills of said County.

     {Seal}         In attestation whereof, I have hereunto sub-
scribed my name, and affixed the seal
of said Court, at Vernon, this 19th day
of November 1874.
                         Joseph L. Reiley, Clerk of Circuit Court Jennings Co10

  1. “Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NZ65-14C : 28 November 2014), Blasius Specht, 07 Feb 1817; citing ; FHL microfilm 906,278.
  2. “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/QVR3-YSH3 : 15 April 2015), Blasius Speckt, 1833; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm.
  3. “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MM5C-SPD : 20 January 2015), Eva Rumping, Belmont Township, Lewis and Clark, Montana, United States; citing sheet 12A, family 235, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,240,912.
  4. “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MM15-PT6 : 20 January 2015), Blasur Spade, Sand Creek Township, Jennings, Indiana, United States; citing sheet 2B, family 35, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,240,379.
  5. As of the 1870 U.S. Census, Blasius lived in Sand Creek Township. The post office for that area was Brewersville.
  6. Based on the 1870 U.S. Census, I believe the “Real Estate” he is referring to here was a farm valued at $1,400, worth about $25,000 in today’s dollars. His “personal estate” at that time was valued at $348, worth about $6,100 in today’s dollars.
  7. Worth about $8,700 in today’s dollars.
  8. Worth about $330 in today’s dollars
  9. In today’s dollars, that same $20 would be worth about $350.
  10. “Indiana, Wills and Probate Records, 1798-1999,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 November 2016); Will Records, Vol 1-4, 1842-1889, pages 395-397, images 423-425 of 730, Blasius Specht will and probate record, 1874;  Original data from Indiana County, District and Probate Courts.

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When the little pieces fit together to tell a touching story

George Schenk | August 1900

On this date in 1915, my great grandfather George William Schenk died. He was survived by my 37-year-old great grandmother Mary and four children: his daughter Georgiana Frances, age 141; son Christopher, age 12; daughter Irene, age 9; and daughter Evelyn, age 5. He was preceded in death earlier that year by his daughter Valentine Dora, who was not quite 14 months old at the time of her death.

Several years ago while reading through an autograph book that belonged to my grandmother, I realized that the second page was signed by her father George. I was thrilled to see the little note he had written her. One of those beautiful personal treasures a family historian loves to find.

As I read the note a second time, I wondered why his handwriting seemed a bit shaky – like that of an elderly man. I knew he was in his late thirties when he died so it didn’t make sense.

And then I saw the date of the note – October 25, 1915.

My heart sank as I came to the realization that it had been written just six days prior to his death.

George Schenk | Date Unknown

I pulled out George’s death certificate and was reminded that he died of tuberculosis of the lungs and had been sick for two years prior to his death. And it occurred to me that he might have known the end was near when he signed his daughter’s autograph book.

Suddenly, the “little note” took on a whole new meaning.



Marysville, Montana | October 25, 1915

Dear Daughter Georgie:

First in your album, I sign my name; because I am your Father. First in my heart, put all your love; because you are my Daughter.

Your loving Father, George Schenk

Years later, my grandmother wrote these words in her journal2.

I realize the sense of security that only a Father can give a little girl.


There are no words when the little pieces come together to tell a touching story.

  1. Georgiana Frances was my grandmother. I suspect she was named after her father and he called her “Georgie”.
  2. My daughter-in-law gets the credit for locating this little gem in my grandmother’s journal. She had it blown up and framed and then gave it to me as a gift several years ago. It would be several more years before I discovered the autograph album and the note written by my great grandfather. I think they call this genealogy serendipity.

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