nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Laramie

the tale of a marriage certificate

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Of my eight great-grandparents, I have found myself most drawn to the story of Ella Hawk and Frank Norman.  Before I became interested in them, my aunt did a considerable amount of work, so I have only had to fill in small gaps of information.  If you follow my Blog, you will know I have looked diligently for information on their lives before 1886 when they married in Laramie, Wyoming (for a poem about Ella’s early life, see https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/occupation-shoemaker/

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I know several bits of information about the day Ella and Frank married – July 24, 1886.  For one thing, I have stood in the Methodist Episcopal Church where they were married (see https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/sacred-spaces-2/ ).  Also, the newspapers for July 1886 are a great source of information on Laramie and the people living there at the time.

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I also have copies of Ella and Frank’s Application for a Marriage Licence and their Certificate of Marriage.  On the documents, Ella identified herself as Mary Ellen Rhoderick since she was previously married.

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Marriage Licence Application for Frank Norman and Ella Hawk (Mary E. Rhoderick)

Marriage Licence Application for Frank Norman and Ella Hawk (Mary E. Rhoderick)

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Certificate of Marriage for Frank Norman and Mary E. Rhoderick

Certificate of Marriage for Frank Norman and Mary E. Rhoderick

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Who were the people who signed my great-grandparents’ marriage documents?

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George W. Fox, with the very elegant signature, was the County Clerk in Laramie from 1885 to 1888.  An 1875 history of Laramie describes him as a ‘city alderman’, who, in 1866 crossed the Plains with an ox train, by way of Fort Laramie and the Big Horn’ to eventually work in the Laramie meat and vegetable market, and in the sales of dry goods.  The history says: ‘by fair and honorable dealing has very much endeared himself to our citizens. In fact as a benevolent, high minded, business gentleman Mr. Fox has no superior’ (History and Directory of Laramie City, Triggs, 1875).  George W. Fox is also known for his diary, kept in 1866 as he crossed the Plains (Annals of Wyoming 8 (3):580-601; https://archive.org/details/annalsofwyom8141932wyom ).  His stories of encounters with stampeding cattle and rattlesnakes vividly portray the wild west.

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S.H. Huber was the Minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  According to the July 10, 1886 Daily Boomerang newspaper, Pastor Huber had been in Laramie for two years.  He was in poor health and would stop preaching and leave for Illinois within the month.  Another article says he performed the Sherriff’s marriage the week before Ella and Frank’s marriage.  The First Methodist Episcopal Church, which still stands at 150N Second Street, was constructed in 1860 and was eventually moved across the street where today it is the oldest church building in Laramie.

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Although there are other possibilities, it is likely that Lizzie Langhoff was a friend or acquaintance of Ella. Among three Langhoff families in the Laramie area in the 1880s are Charles and Almena Langhoff with their children Lizzie, Emma, Anna, Louis and Minnie.  By 1884, this family had come from Plattsmouth, Nebraska (1880 US Census) to live in Laramie.  Lizzie, Louis and Anna appear in the Roll of Honor for schools in the Laramie area several times from 1884 to 1886 (Daily Boomerang).  Lizzie was born January 6, 1871, so she would have been 15 years old in July of 1886, perhaps old enough to witness a wedding.  Lizzie Langhoff died in Laramie on April 25, 1892 (Wyoming: Find a Grave Index 1850-2012) at the age of 21.

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Methodist Church in Laramie, front view

Methodist Episcopal Church in Laramie in 2002 – this is the back and side of the original church which was rolled across the street to its present position

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Ella and Frank did not stay in Laramie for long.  In the 1890s they lived in Denver Colorado where my grandfather Leo was born in 1890.

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Leo Norman, born 1890

Leo Norman, born 1890

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Unfortunately, Ella and Frank’s marriage did not last.  I have the paperwork for their Divorce Decree in 1896.  Nevertheless, I owe my existence to their decade-long marriage and the sense of adventure their short time in Laramie has brought to my own life.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 15, 2014 at 7:20 am

searching the newspapers #2

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Using the search features available, I have been looking in the Wyoming newspapers of the 1800s for any item about my great-grandfather.  It is slow work, partly because I don’t want to miss anything, partly because I am easily distracted by various interesting adds and articles.

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You may recall that I already know of an item about my great-grandfather in the July 26, 1886 edition of the Laramie ‘Daily Boomerang’ (page 4).  On July 25, 1886, he fell from his horse and broke his collar bone, only a day after he and my great-grandmother Ella were married.

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If only to show that I am being careful about my search, I have now found a corroborating article in the ‘Cheyenne Daily Sun’ for July 28, 1886 (page 3).

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I will never know if Frank was riding his own horse, or if he had to hire one from a place like Emery’s Livery Stable (in the add just to the right of the article).

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When we visited Laramie in 2002, I misread the article slightly and talked non-stop about how my great-grandfather had ridden his horse into the hills.  Do you see any mention of hills in either article?  Nevertheless, I was anxious to drive up into the hills east of Laramie, to see the landscape he might have seen.  The road cuts there showed a orange-pink bedrock and I brought a small chunk back with me to remember Frank’s unfortunate ride.  Looks a little ghostly under the scanner …

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm

searching the newspaper archives

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Still on the trail of my great-grandfather, I have turned for a short time to the wonderful source of the newspaper archive.  This may not uncover any new leads about my relative, but it is a fascinating way to search.

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I know from my Aunt’s earlier search for information, my great-grandfather (Frank Norman) and great-grandmother (Ella Hawk) were married in Laramie, Wyoming on July 24, 1886.  I have written before about my great-grandmother Ella and her father, Josiah Hawk, who was a shoemaker in Pennsylvania (https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/occupation-shoemaker/).  In 2002, we drove out to Laramie as part of a vacation adventure, and saw where Frank and Ella were married.  It was amazing to know I was standing where they did so long ago!

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My present search for Frank has taken me to the pages of the ‘Daily Boomerang’, a newspaper in Laramie.  This was a four page daily paper, reporting local and national events and providing advertising for Laramie in the 1880’s and 1890’s and beyond.  It included lots of local tid-bits in the ‘Personal Paragraphs’, ‘Personal Points’ and ‘About Town’ sections.  The ‘Laramie Boomerang’ continues today.

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In 2002, when I visited Laramie, I spent part of the day looking at the fragile paper archives of the ‘Daily Boomerang’.  Although my time was short, I was able to find out a little about the Minister who married Frank and Ella.

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Now, a little more than a decade later, I am able to access, online, every page of the paper.  This is thanks to the Wyoming Newspaper Project.  The project has converted over 800,000 pages of Wyoming newspapers into searchable digital format.  Today, all I have to do is type the searchword ‘Norman’ to find if Frank or Ella are mentioned in the pages of any of over one hundred Wyoming newspapers !  To search these papers, have a look at http://www.wyonewspapers.org .

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I know this effort may turn up some results since I already know of one article, found by my Aunt, about my great-grandfather.  On July 26, 1886, only two days after their wedding in Laramie, Frank receives a short mention in the ‘Daily Boomerang’.

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Just a little below the center of the page above, under ‘About Town’, it says:

Frank Norman, while out riding yesterday, was thrown from his horse and had his collar bone broken.

I know from later records that Frank made his living as a ‘hod carrier’, part of a bricklaying team.  The ‘hod carrier’ is the worker who carries bricks on a hod – a v-shaped wooden carrier with a handle, carried over the shoulder.  A collar bone injury would have been a hard turn of events for someone whose work involved carrying heavy loads.  It must have been a tradgedy for the couple newly married.

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I have a little work ahead of me since I want to look at all possible entries in the newspaper about Frank or Ella from the time of their marriage to about 1892 when Frank and Ella were living in Denver, Colorado.  There may be nothing more to find, and the search is made complicated because a common breed of horse for sale in Wyoming at the time – the ‘Norman’ !

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I will keep you up to date on my search for information about my great-grandfather.  Have you ever used newspapers to search for information about a member of your family?

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Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

May 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm

sacred spaces #2

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One of the repurposed churches I have encountered is the church where my great-grandmother and great-grandfather were married on July 24 in 1886 in Laramie, Wyoming.  The church was the First Methodist Episcopal Church on Second Street in Laramie.

The church building, constructed in 1860, still stands at 152 North Second Street, but when my great-grandparents were married there, it stood at a location across the street from its present location.  When it was abandoned as a church, it was rolled across the street on logs, where today it is the oldest church building in Laramie.

When we visited Laramie in 2002, we did not find the church immediately because it did not look like a church.  When it was rolled across the street, the back of the church faced the street…

A look at the rear of the building shows what the face of the church would have looked like in its previous location…

The church has been repurposed and today is used by a distance-training business.   Inside the church, I could see the windows overlooking the spot where once my great-grandparents stood to say their vows…

Have you gone on a journey to discover the people in your family history?  Have you stood where their feet once stood?

Written by jane tims

September 15, 2011 at 7:02 am

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