Category: Kansas

What happened to William Read Kirk after the devastating Ohio State Penitentiary fire of 1930?

The whereabouts of William Read Kirk after the Ohio State Penitentiary fire of 1930 is a fascinating and ongoing mystery for our family.

After the death of my husband’s grandmother Louise Reynolds (nee Froemling) in 1989, family members received numerous documents, photos and pieces of correspondence that were found amongst her effects.

Enlistment shots from Wanted Poster for William Read Kirk.

Enlistment photos used on the wanted poster for Pte. William Read Kirk for his desertion from the US Army in 1910. He was eventually captured and dishonorably discharged in 1912.

Although Louise had always been open about her adoption as an infant, she never knew much about her adoptive parents beyond information she received by word of mouth from other family members.

Louise Reynolds - Adoption Records request.

Louise Reynolds’ letter of February 9, 1972 to Wilmette, Illinois authorities to request her adoption records. 

Request for adoption records to Chicago, Illinois

Louise Reynold’s request to the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Chicago Illinois for her adoption information. 

Two of the pieces of correspondence she left were a letter to Clerk of the Court of Chicago, Illinois and another to Wilmette, Illinois to request her adoption information. As far as we can tell, she never received so much as an acknowledgement of her request. This is not really surprising as it’s only in recent decades that authorities have enabled adoptive children and birth parents to search for each other.

It does appear, however, by her handwritten notes on one piece of paper in her effects, that she managed to contact the officials in Wilmette. On this tiny piece of paper, she named her birth parents – Emma Mary Froemling and William Kirk. It was through my own research that I was able to identify both Emma and William.

Notes of Louise Reynolds

Handwritten research notes of Louise Reynolds regarding her birth parents. 

William Kirk's military enlistment record.

William Kirk’s enlistment records showing the notations regarding his desertion and subsequent surrender to military authorities. 

The 1910 US Federal Census shows William as an inmate at Fort Sheridan, Illinois military base, just prior to his desertion of April 15, 1911, as shown in his enlistment record (see right).

Chicago News of the Day, 1914 - Kirk, William

A “News of the Day” article from Chicago in 1914 regarding a grand jury being called regarding assault charges against one William Kirk? Was this our William Kirk?

I happened upon a news report in Chicago’s “News of the Day” from 1914 regarding a William Kirk of 428 E. 47th Street in Chicago, who was held to grand jury on testimony of Mrs. Alma Herchert for attacking here while showing her flat. I have no proof that this is my William Kirk, but the location and the timing are correct, as this is just a couple of years after he met Emma and fathered Louise in Chicago. I’m still looking for proof – or at least corroborating information.

All of this information so far casts a rather negative light on our William Kirk, especially if the “News of the Day” article proves to be about him. First of all, it appears that he fathered a child by Emma Mary Froemling and most likely deserted her as he did his military post, or worse yet, could it have been a case of rape? His military medical records point to a strong possibility of his “playing the field” during his military service as he was regularly treated for a rather serious sexually transmitted disease.

Kirk, William - 1930 US Census - Ohio State Penitentiary Fire of 1930

This 1930 US Census shows William Read Kirk as an inmate during the time of the Ohio State Penitentiary fire of 1930. What was the conviction for? When was he sentenced and sent to jail?

Later, he appears in the 1930 census as an inmate in Ohio State Penitentiary. Could this possibly be a result of a conviction for assault, as in that of a William Kirk against a woman in Chicago in 1914?

How long would it take for the case to proceed through the US courts of the time and would the sentence have been long enough for him to be in prison at Ohio State Penitentiary in 1930?

Whatever the reasons for his being there, the fact of the matter is that, according to the 1930 US census for Ohio State Penitentiary, our William Read Kirk was an inmate on April 11, 1930, just 10 days prior to a devastating fire that was started by three inmates attempting an escape from the prison on April 21, 1930.

As a result of the fire and the callous actions of several guards who deliberately locked inmates in their cells and left those already locked in, the deaths of inmates totaled 319.

The “Ohio State Penitentiary Fire” website explains the circumstances in great detail.

According to the list of deceased in the disaster as published on this website, William Kirk was not one of the deceased. It is clear, however, that the fire resulted in a close examination of the environment and treatment of inmates at the time since the prison is documented to have been well over maximum capacity. The examination’s result was the parole of a couple of thousand inmates in 1931. Was William Kirk one of the parolees?

I don’t currently have answers to any of these questions as I have been unable to locate William after 1930. At present, there are 1940 census records for 26 states indexed and available for searching, including William’s home state of Ohio, yet I’ve found nothing about him in any of them. I will keep searching as more become searchable.

I would love to hear from anyone who has any information about William Read Kirk. The information I know for sure is:

Birth: June 18, 1888.

Residence: 1888 to 1908 in Stock Township, Noble County, Ohio.

Enlistment in the US Army: November 9, 1908.

Residence: 1910 in Fort Sheridan, Deerfield, Lake County, Illinois.

Residence: 1912 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for his desertion charges.

Dishonorable Discharge: January 18, 1912

Residence: 1920 on Monroe Street, Center Township, Noble County, Ohio, living with his aunt Martha C. Price (nee Kirk).

Residence: 1930 as an inmate in Ohio State Penitentiary.

 

Source:

  1. Ohio State Penitentiary, website; http://www.forgottenoh.com/Counties/Franklin/pen.html.
  2. A List of Victims of the Ohio Penitentiary Fire Along With Their Death Certificates, website; http://www.genealogybug.net/ohio_alhn/crime/ohio_pen_fire.html.

 

 

 

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions – June 26, 2014

Following are the Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org updates and additions.
FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions

The list is extensive and will break into multiple pages as June 18th seems to have been a very busy, productive day at FamilySearch.org.

The countries with the most additions are Italy, Netherlands, Brazil, United States and Poland.

 

FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions

Argentina

Belgium

Bolivia

Brazil

Canada

Chile

China

Croatia

Czechoslovakia

Denmark

El Salvador

Germany

Honduras

Hungary

India

Indonesia

Italy

Mexico

Netherlands

Paraguay

Peru

Philippines

Poland

Portugal

Puerto Rico

Russia

South Africa

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Ukraine

United Kingdom

  1. England, Kent, Manorial Documents, 1241-1976
  2. England, Norfolk, Parish Registers (County Record Office), 1510-1997
  3. England, Norfolk Register of Electors, 1844-1952
  4. Isle of Man Parish Registers, 1598-2009
  5. United Kingdom, World War I Service Records, 1914-1920

United States

Venezuela

Worldwide

 

Ancestry.com Updates and Additions

Canada

Poland

United Kingdom

United States

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions – May 12, 2014

FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and AdditionsFollowing are the most recent FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions.

 

FamilySearch.org

Belgium

Canada

England

India

Italy

South Africa

Spain

Sweden

Ukraine

United States

Worldwide

 

Ancestry.com

Canada

Germany

Ghana

Poland

Switzerland

United Kingdom

United States

Above are the most recent FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions.

 

Transcription: Biographies of John Sloan Smeltzer, Jules Hugg, James Keating (in part) and including Jacob and Mary Shellhammer.

John Smeltzer biographyThe following is my transcription from the original image of page 563 of “The History of Westmoreland County”, in my case concerning the Shellhammers, but mentioning the Smeltzer, Chambers, Meeker, Fox, Sloan, Stidard, Lawrence, Wicht, Theibert, Beck, Hugg, and Keating surnames.

HISTORY OF WESTMORELAND COUNTY

563

JOHN SLOAN SMELTZER.   The father of John Sloan Smeltzer, of Vandergrift Heights, was Christopher C. Smeltzer, born July 25, 1841, in Armstrong county, where he was reared to a farm lite. He has always followed agricultural pursuits. in connection with which he engaged for many years in threshing. He is a Democrat and a member of the Lutheran church. Mr. Smeltzer married Sarah Chrissman. and six of their ten children are now living: Ada. wife of Claude Chambers, of Grove county. Kansas; Robert Charles, heater in Vandergrift mills; Anna, wife of William Meeker, of Russel county, Kansas ; Jennie,  wife of David Fox, of Pawnee county. Kansas: Carrie, wife of Gibson Sloan, of the same county : and John Sloan. mentioned hereinafter. Mr. Smeltzer, the father, now resides near Ellerton, Armstrong county.

John Sloan Smeltzer, son of Christopher C. and Sarah {Chrissman) Smeltzer, was born February 10, 1878, in Adams county, Ohio, and received a limited common school education. 1n 1893 he entered the mills of the Apollo lron & Steel Company, serving first in the capacity of matcher. Three months later he was promoted to the position of doubler, in which he served eleven months and was then made catcher. Five months later he became rougher and in this capacity served seven years. In July, 1902, he was advanced to his present position of roller. Politically he is a Democrat. Mr. Smeltzer married, February 1, 1898, Daisy E., daughter of Jacob B. and Mary (Beck) Shellhammer of Armstrong county, and their children are: Viola M., Rita E., Ora A. T., Iva E., and Williard S.

JULES HUGG.   The parents of Jules Hugg, of Arnold. were John Battis and Victoria Hugg, his birth occurring February 3, 1843, near Lyons, France, and his education being received in the schools of his native country and England. He learned the glass-blowers trade, which he followed until 1870. In that year he emigrated with his wife and three children to the United States, settling in Norristown, Pennsylvania, where for a short time he worked as a glassblower. After a residence of seven months in McKeesport, he moved to New Albany, Indiana, remaining, however. hut a short time and going thence to Rock Island. Illinois. where he spent one year. At the end ot that time he returned to Pennsylvania and took up his abode in Belle Vernon, where he remained three years, after which he spent four years in Europe. On his return he settled at Albany, Indiana, and after remaining five years spent four years in Pittsburg. For three years thereafter he lived at Jeannette, and in 1892 moved to Arnold, the borough being but one year old. He there purchased property on which he has lived ever since, and for ten years worked in the mills as a glass-blower. During the last two years he has lived in retirement.

Mr. Hugg married, January 22, 1865, Marie, born June 29, 1846, in England, daughter of Caspar and Melina (Wicht) Theibert, and their children are: Ernest. born December 9, 1865, now of Jeannette : Minnie. born December 1, 1867, wife of Isaac Stidard, of Pittsburg : Clarice, born  June 21, 1870, wife of Clarence Lawrence, of Arnold : Lewis, born August 20, 1877, glassblower : Charles, born April 28, 1880, glassblower at Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania; and Harry, born August 12, 1883, also of Reynoldsville.

JAMES KEATING. It was in Ireland that James Keating. of Arnold. was born December 20. 1850. and it was thence he emigrated in 1863, with an aunt. settling for a short time in Elmira, New York. He then went to Pennsylvania. where for a time he worked about the mines in Canton and Fall…

 

The complete original scans of the document clips above can be accessed by clicking the image. To access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, search the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link in the upper right corner just below the search box and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar. It is recommended to search using both methods as the results do sometimes differ. All data on this site is available for free access and download.

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Additions and Updates

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Additions and UpdatesAncestry.com and FamilySearch.org Additions and Updates

 

FamilySearch.org

Colombia

El Salvador

Peru

Spain

Switzerland

United States

Wales

 

Ancestry.com

Australia

England

United States

 

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Additions and Updates – July 25, 2013

FamilySearch.org AdditionsAncestry.com and FamilySearch.org Additions and Updates – July 25, 2013

 

FamilySearch.org

Belgium

Brazil

France

Nicaragua

Spain

United States

 

Ancestry.com

United States