Saturday, April 22, 2017

Chipping Away at the Dagutis Family

My husband's family tree has been a particularly tough nut to crack. I discover a bit more each time I poke at it but what I know has taken years. His ethnicity is 98 percent eastern European. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Lithuania; his maternal grandmother, from Austria; and his maternal grandfather was a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian Emipre but immigrated from what is now Serbia and considered himself German.

My husband's oldest sister believes their paternal grandmother, Cecilia Dagutis/Degutis had 13 children, including three sets of twins. I have learned of nine children, including two boys who died young. Cecilia's oldest known son was John Joseph Degutis. I now believe was born on 16 April 1902 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

When the 1920 census was enumerated, John was 16 years old and worked as a clerk in a drug store. His family lived in West Hazleton. Five years later John was arrested and held on $3,000 bond. He was charged with performing an illegal operation which resulted in the death of Mrs. Linnie Baker. Arrested with John was Peter O'Donnell, who was described in the newspaper as being "friendly with the woman."

21 February 1925 Scranton Republic, courtesy of Newspapers.com

After the above article and similar ones appeared in several local newspapers no other mention of the incident has been found.

John married Mary Bridget (or Bernadette) O'Donnell, daughter of Hugh and Ella "Nellie" (Campbell) O'Donnell on 35 June 1925. For several years I knew nothing more about John and Mary. When I found them through a series of obituaries discovered on Newspapers.com, I discovered that John had changed the spelling of his surname to DeGatis. There is a family story that John had performed an abortion (which was illegal at the time) and disappeared for several years before his younger brother, Tony, found him in either Pittsburgh or Philadelphia.

I learned John and Mary had a son they named Bernard who lived but three days in in March 1928. Little Bernard died on 21 March of circulatory failure due to toxemia from his mother who had eclampsia. When I found the 1930 census, I discovered Bernard had a twin brother, John Joseph DeGatis, Jr., who lived. A sister Constance "Connie" followed in 1936. John Sr. worked as a pharmacist and a salesman for a candy manufacturer in 1930 and 1940, respectively.

He died on 26 April 1983 and was interred at Our Lady of Grace Cemetery in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. His wife, Mary, died on 7 February 2000 and was buried beside her husband.

John Joseph DeGatis, Jr., married Nancy McMullen; they had three children before her death in 1987. John Jr.'s second wife was Margaret Jane (Lavin) Berry. John's son Michael Dennis DeGatis died suddenly in 1993. He was married to Rosemary Mace and had three children. John Jr. died 11 May 2006.

Constance "Connie" DeGatis married Thomas Francis McArdle, who died on 16 September 1999 and was interred at Our Lady of Grace Cemetery. They had two children.

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Three Sons Born in One Year. . .Really?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Janet (Semple/Muir) Hutchison (1871-1942)

This is one in a series of posts about the family of my great great grandparents James and Margaret (Semple) Muir. Janet (Semple) Hutchison, Margaret's eldest child, was an aunt of my grandmother, Alice (Muir) Jennings.

Janet Semple was born on 25 November 1871 in Dalserf Scotland to Margaret Semple, who was unmarried at the time of her birth and worked as a dairy maid away from her parents' home. She returned to Dalserf for the birth of her daughter. A father was not listed on Janet's birth registration and Janet was known as Jessie throughout her life. She frequently used Muir as her surname before her marriage and she was raised as part of James and Margaret (Semple) Muir's household.

British Ordnance Survey of Dalserf, including the farm
Margaret's father leased

When Jessie was almost two years old her mother married James Muir. In 1881 Margaret, Jessie, and Robert Muir, were living with Margaret's parents, Peter and Janet (Torrance) Semple, at Swinhill Farm in Dalserf. Jessie's step-father was not enumerated with the rest of the family. From 1877 until 1886, Jessie's mother had six children. However, only the two youngest, Margaret and Peter (the fourth son so named) lived to adulthood.

When Jessie was 15 years old, she, her mother, and half siblings, boarded the Allen Line's S/S Manitoban in Glasgow. After stopping in Ireland, they arrived in Philadelphia on 30 September 1887. Jessie was included on the passenger manifest as Jessie Muir, but she was listed on a different page than her mother and half siblings. Her occupation was listed as a domestic.

Margaret and the children settled in Streator, Illinois. The town was the second fastest growing town in Illinois, besides Chicago. The coal mines attracted workers from every part of the globe. Two years after immigrating to the United States, Jessie married a fellow Scot, Alexander Hutchison on 2 January 1889 in Streator. Her step-father, James Muir, was listed as her father on the marriage certificate and acted as one of the witnesses to the marriage.

They had three children in Illinois before moving back to Scotland, but only two were living when they made the trip. On 14 February 1894, the young family arrived in Glasgow aboard the Anchor Line's S/S Ethiopia. They had traveled to New York City to board the ship.

In 1895 the family lived at 20 Swinhill Colliery, which was housing for the miners and owned by the colliery. There were just over 50 one- and two-room apartments in the complex. In 1910 the housing was described as fair in size, with five privy middens for residents living in all the apartments. There was no ground for private gardens, no sinks in the homes, and water had to be drawn from wells. By 1910 most of the complex had been demolished.

When the 1901 census was enumerated in Scotland, Alex and Jessie lived at 31 New Street in Stonehouse. Alex worked as a coal miner and the couple had five children. Interestingly, Jessie's mother and her family lived at the same address in 1861. I do not know if it was still being rented by the family or if this is merely a coincidence.

Jessie had a daughter in 1903. The family decided to return to the United States. They boarded the Anchor Line's S/S Furnessia in Glasgow on 21 July 1904 and arrived in New York City on 1 August. Traveling with Alex and Jessie were their six children. Everyone in the family was a United States citizen and their physical description was listed as good. The family's destination was Kirksville, Missouri.

Jessie had her last child, a daughter, in 1905. When the 1910 census was enumerated the family, including their seven children lived in Nineveh, Missouri, next door to Jessie's half sister, Margaret (Muir) Caswell. Alex and his brother-in-law were coal miners.

Children of Alexander and Janet "Jessie" (Semple) Hutchison
  1. Jessie Hutchison born about 1889; died about 1891 (this information was according to my grandmother)
  2. Alexander Hutchison born 1891-Illinois; died 1959; never married
  3. James Hutchison born 1893-Illinois; died 1970-Illinois; married Emma Frances Hanlin
  4. Maggie Hutchison born 1895-Scotland; died 1994-Missouri; married William Bruce Melching
  5. Lily Hutchison born 1898-Scotland; died 1989-Missouri; married Andrew Jackson McDaniel
  6. Joseph Hutchison born 1901-Scotland; died 1966-Georgia; married Ruth Anna Richardson*
  7. Jane "Janie" Hutchison born 1903-Scotland; died 1959-Missouri; never married
  8. Ruth Hutchison born 1905-Missouri; died 1993-Missouri; married David Connel Combs
In 1920 Jessie and Alex remained in Nineveh. Alex worked as a coal miner. All the children lived at home except for their daughter Maggie, who lived and worked in Kansas City, Missouri. Jessie's mother had moved from O'Fallon, Illinois, to Nineveh, sometime between 1912 and 1920. She lived nearby with her youngest daughter and granddaughter, Alice Muir, likely to be near her daughters, Jessie and Margaret.

Plat map of Novinger, which indicates it was at the junction of two
railroad lines; image courtesy of Plat Book of Adair County, Missouri

Jessie lost her husband 19 May 1927. She continued to live in Nineveh with a daughter. The John Blacksmith family boarded in their home. By 1935 Jessie had moved to nearby Novinger to a house she owned, which was valued at $400. Two of her children lived with her.

Jessie died on 23 February 1942 of pernicious anemia from which she had suffered for four years. She was buried in the Novinger City Cemetery beside her husband.

Mrs. Alexander Hutchinson of Novinger Dies

Succumbs at age of 70 after ten-year illness

Mrs. Jessie Hutchinson, 70 years old, died at her home in Novinger this morning at 10:30 o'clock after a ten-year illness.

The body is at the Dee Riley Funeral Home here and will remain there until Tuesday evening when it will be taken to the Hutchinson home. Funeral services will be held at Novinger Wednesday afternoon.

She is survived by her husband, Alexander Hutchinson, four daughters, and three sons, Mrs. Ruth Camles and Mrs. Margaret Melcher, of Kansas City, Mrs. Lillian McDaniels of Memphis, Mo., Miss Janie and Alex Hutchinson at home, Joe Hutchinson of Springfield, Ill., and Jimmie Hutchinson of Taylorville, Ill. One child preceded her in death.**

As published in the Kirksville Daily Express on 23 February 1942.

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*Joseph Hutchison may have also been married to Edna L. Ridgeway but I have been unable to definitively prove it.

**There are several inaccuracies in this obituary. The Hutchison surname is not spelled with two 'n's. Jessie's husband died in 1927 and did not survive her. All of the daughters' surnames are incorrect. Camles should be Combs; McDaniels should be McDaniel; and Melcher should be Melching.