Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Story of Father Joseph W Hausser

I found a short article a few nights ago noting the death of the wife of my third great uncle.  The headline for the article was "Mother of Three Priests."  Reading further, it mentions her two living sons who were priests and one who had died attending victims of small pox in Chicago.  I checked, and yes, I had a son named Joseph listed for her.  The only other info I had was Joseph's year of birth and location in the 1870 and 1880 censuses.

Further research led me to some stunning facts.  Joseph was 28 years old when he died.  He had been ordained in 1889 at the age of 22.  He had also left a will.  I thought this odd as I thought Catholic priests took vows of poverty.  But reading the will, things became clearer.  It was written only a few days before his death - probably when he realized that he had contracted small pox himself.  All the will designated was that the proceeds from his life insurance be left to his brother, also a Catholic priest.  What the money was to be used for wasn't mentioned.

I have to wonder what Joseph's last days were like.  He knew what would happen to him.  He would not have been able to say goodbye to his family in person as I'm sure they would have been prohibited from visiting him.  Did he write them letters?  Did they even know what he was going through as it happened?  What I do know is that I'm glad I learned about Father Joseph W Hausser and his short but special life.  

His tombstone at St. Boniface Cemetery in Chicago says, "He Died A Martyr To His Holy Calling."  You can visit his memorial on Find-A-Grave here.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Joyce Ann Fallon (19 Dec 1926 - 1 Jan 1928)

I'm a big proponent of the FAN club principle in genealogy.  I believe this term was coined by Elizabeth Shown Mills, a legend in the genealogy community.  FAN stands for Friends, Associates and Neighbors.  The lesson here is that you often need to expand your research to those people who surround your ancestor to find information about your ancestor.

I've been on a mission to prove who the parents of my 3rd great grandmother are.  So I expanded my search to include extended family.  I kept coming forward in the generations hoping an obituary would give some family history.  I saw the name of a child transcribed on a census record as Morinda.  I scratched my head on that one and pulled up the record to look at the image myself.  It looked like Norinda to me - not much better than Morinda.  I had to find out what her real name was so I did more searching.  (I love!)  I found another census with her name listed as Normandine.  Could that be the correct name?  I had to find out.  I finally hit pay dirt with a marriage record and had to chuckle.  Her name was Norma Dean.  I'd seen Dean used as a middle name for several people in this family.  I didn't get any closer to discovering my distant ancestors, but I did feel a sense of satisfaction at finding our who Morinda truly was.

While I was working on this extended family group, I realized that their small town did have newspapers transcribed and online at  I love when this happens.  Small town newspapers are great for documenting every movement of our ancestors. Contemporaries in those small towns may have a different view. My dad used to say that if you passed wind (not his actual words), everybody knew it.  So I spent several hours looking up important dates hoping that I'd find obituaries.  I found several.  One that really touched me was about a 1 year and 19-day old girl who died of double pneumonia.  It talked about her sunny disposition and how greatly she'd be missed.  The story touched me.  But what also impacted me was if I hadn't been scouring through these papers, I would never have known about little Joyce Ann Fallon from Appanoose County, Iowa.  She died between census years.  Yet again, I'm no closer to finding those elusive great grandparents, but I did find out about a little girl who died way too young and now you know about her too.

Hello New Blog!

Welcome to my new blog.  What does What Cheer Roots mean, you ask?  What Cheer (pronounced watt cheer) is a small town in Keokuk County, Iowa, United States.  The story has it that many miners from Wales settled in the area long ago.  A common greeting in Wales is What Cheer.  My father's family settled in What Cheer several generations back.  I never lived there but have visited many times.  I remember seeing a sign when I was a girl that proclaimed that we were entering What Cheer - town of flowers and blooming idiots!  I don't remember there being a lot of flowers there.  You can find out more about What Cheer from the town's Facebook Page:

What does genealogy mean to me?  I'm not on a mission to prove that I'm the long lost heir to a foreign crown.  Although I admit that would be a big perk. I'm not in it to leave a legacy for my family.  I don't have children.  And, frankly, most of the family members I've shared information with act as though they'd rather be somewhere else.  I'm in it more for selfish reasons.  I want to know who I am.  Where did I come from?  As I stated in my profile, genealogy is the ultimate jigsaw puzzle and I'm the picture.  Who are the piece parts that make up me?

Like most genealogists, I'm more than happy to share any information I've found.  I've been the recipient of data from several wonderful cousins.  Their research and guidance have been of tremendous help.  I only hope I'm able to pass on my findings to other researchers.

I consider myself to have intermediate genealogy skills even though I've been at it over 15 years. I'm not a very structured genealogist.  I'm never quite sure where or when my research will take me. But that's the fun part for me.  I welcome you to come along for the ride.  I'll share the sad, funny and downright odd information we'll come across on our adventures.