Mar 20

Tombstone Tuesday–Blaine O, Opal M (Bollenbacher), & Billy D Laffin

Blaine, Opal, & Billy Laffin, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Blaine O, Opal M (Bollenbacher), and Billie D Laffin, located in row 10 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

LAFFIN

Blaine O.
1908-1988

Opal M.
1909-1998

Billy D.
1932-1953

Blaine O. Laffin was born in Mercer County, Ohio, on 2 June 1908, the son of Elza/Elzy and Martha Florence (Davis) Laffin. His given name was likely Okley B. [1]

In 1910 the Elzy Laffin family lived on Lewis Pike in Center Township, Mercer County, Ohio. Their household in 1910: Elzy, 26; Florence, 22; Helen, 3; and Blaine, 1. They rented their property and Elzy was a farmer. Elzy and Florence had been married 2 years and all of the family members were born in Ohio. [2]

By 1920 the Elzy Laffin family had moved to Liberty Township, Mercer County. Their household in 1920: Elzy 36; Florence, 32; Helen, 13; Blaine, 11; and Dillon, 3. They rented their property and Elzy farmed. [3]

Blaine Laffin married Opal Bollenbacher sometime around 1930 but I was unable to locate their marriage record on-line nor could I locate their names in the 1930 census.

Opal Marie Bollenbacher was born in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, on 7 February 1909, the daughter of Fred J. and Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher. Opal grew up in Liberty Township, south of Chatt. [4] [5]

After their marriage Blaine was baptized and confirmed at Zion Chatt, as an adult, on 3 July 1932. He was baptized and confirmed by Rev. Carl Yahl.

Blaine and Opal had a son, Billy Dee Laffin, born 6 September 1932 in Celina, Mercer County. That appears to be where the family lived at the time of his birth. Billy was baptized at Zion Chatt by Rev. Carl Yahl on 15 October 1932. Billy’s parents served as his sponsors.

The Blaine Laffin family moved to the Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana, area around 1937 and Blaine worked for the Essex Wire Company. They lived on Euclid Avenue. [6]

In 1940 the Laffin family lived on Church Street in Waynedale. They owned their home and Blaine operated a wire company. Their household in 1940: Blaine, 31; Opal, 31; and Billy, 7. [7] Billy attended Central High School in Fort Wayne and his photo is on-line at Ancestry.com, in their 1948 yearbook. [8]

Billy Laffin was a student at Wabash College when he developed a brain tumor and died about 6 months later, on 14 June 1953, at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne. He was only 20 years old. Klaehn Funeral Home in Fort Wayne was in charge of the arrangements and Billy was buried on the 17th. Blaine Laffin was the informant for the information on Billy’s death certificate. [9]

In 1958 Blaine and Opal Laffin lived on Baxter Street and Blaine was a foreman at Imperial Wire. By 1960 they had moved to East Maple Grove Avenue and Blaine was a supervisor at Imperial Wire. [10]

Blaine Laffin died 14 September 1988 in Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana. He was 80 years old and died of respiratory failure from COPD. He lived on Stonehedge Blvd, Fort Wayne and he was the supervisor of a wire and cable company. D.O. McComb was in charge of the funeral arrangements and he was buried on the 17th. [11]

Opal Marie (Bollenbacher) Laffin died 25 March 1998, at the Arbors at Fort Wayne, at the age of 89. Her death certificate indicates that she was born in Chattanooga, was a homemaker, and a widow. D.O. McComb was in charge of the funeral arrangements and she was buried on the 28th. Her nephew Brent Bollenbacher of Convoy, Ohio, was the informant for the information on her death certificate. [12]

It appears none of the Laffin funerals were held at Zion Chatt. They are not mentioned in the church records.

 

[1] “Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962,” Okley B. Laffin; index, Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 914953.

[2] 1910 U.S. Census, Center, Mercer, Ohio, ED 109, p.9A, dwelling 186, family 187, Elzy Laffin; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 1375227, NARA microfilm T624, roll 1214.

[3] 1920 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 140, p.13B, dwelling 269, family 288, Elzy Laffin; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T625, roll 1418.

[4] 1910 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 119, p.4A, dwelling & family 60, Fred J Bollenbaugher; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 1375227, NARA microfilm T624, roll 1214.

[5] 1920 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 140, p.9B, dwelling 177, family 191, Fred J. Bollenbacher; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T625, roll 1418.

[6] U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995, 1937 Fort Wayne, Indiana, City Directory, p.386; Ancestry.com.

[7] 1940 U.S. Census, Waynedale, Allen, Indiana, ED 2-32, p.27B, line 59, Blaine Laffin; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T627, roll 1025.

[8] “U.S. School Yearbooks, 1888-2012,” Central High School, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1948; Ancestry.com.

[9] Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011, year 1953, roll 6, Billy D Laffin, 14 June 1953; Ancestry.com; Indiana State Board of Health, Death Certificates, 1900-2011, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.

[10] 1958 Fort Wayne, Indiana, City Directory, p.595; 1960 Fort Wayne, Indiana, City Directory, p.574; Ancestry.com.

[11] Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011, year 1988, roll 59; Blaine O Laffin, 14 Sep 1988; Ancestry.com; Indiana State Board of Health, Death Certificates, 1900-2011, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.

[12] Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011, year 1998, roll 4, Opal M Laffin; Ancestry.com; Indiana State Board of Health, Death Certificates, 1900-2011, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Mar 16

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 19)

My dad, Herbert Miller, was trained as a replacement troop during the fall of 1944 and by the end of that same year he was in Belgium fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. He had been assigned to Company L, 333rd Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, known as the Railsplitters.

US Army, 84th Division, 333rd Company, Infantry. WWII, Battle of the Bulge.

My dad wrote quite a few letters home during the time he served our country in Europe during WWII and I am grateful that his family saved them. I have many of the letters he wrote to his parents, Carl and Gertrude (Brewster) Miller, and to his sister Em and her husband Norval “Jack”.

I am transcribing my dad’s letters and posting them here on Karen’s Chatt, along with some of the photos he took during the war. The letters are from Pfc. Herbert Miller (35845400), Co. L, 333rd Infantry, A.P.O. 84, c/o Postmaster, New York, NY, to Mr. & Mrs. Norval Weitz, RR1, Rockford, Ohio.

Postmarked 29 April 1945, to Mr. & Mrs. Norval Weitz, RR #1, Rockford, Ohio. The stationary that was inside the envelope is postmarked 25 May 1945, Rockford, Ohio.

26 April 1945
Germany

Dear Em & Jack,

Just a few lines to let you know that I’m OK and feeling fine. I’ve been wanting to write for a couple of days but never got to it. But I guess it is “better late than never.”

I received the comic books you sent and also the hard candy. Thanks a lot. I’ll put in a request for a box in this letter.

So Norval has most of the plowing done and ground worked up.

How is the farm work coming along anyway? I sure would like to be there and help, mostly for the nights, not the work. Remember how we used to go skating or go to the show on Sunday night? Those were the good old days. I sure hope it isn’t too long before I see those days again.

Must close for now. Write soon.

Love,
Herbie

P.S. Please send a package of peanuts and cookies.

Service Flag at Carl Miller home for Herbert Miller, WWII.

No envelope; a type-written letter to my dad’s sister Em and her husband Norval “Jack.”

7 May 1945
Germany

Dear Em & Jack,

I guess it is about time I wrote a few letters. The mail hasn’t been coming in very good lately and I can’t find very much to write about.

How is everything coming along back home? OK I hope.

What do you think of the war by now? I saw some Russian soldiers the other day. Our company made contact with them and I went across the Elbe River with the rest of the guys to shake hands with them. They were those Russian horsemen that you hear quite a bit about. Then that night we had a party—one that I never will forget.

The Jerries are really afraid of the Russian soldiers. Swarms of Jerries were on the other side of the Elbe wanting to cross to surrender to the Americans. A lot of them came over and when the Russians came in sight some of them stripped and swam in the Elbe. The water was really cold. Even some German WACS and Civilian women did the same. What a sight.

One of the guys found a poem in a typewriter. I’m going to enclose it in this letter.

The mail just came in and I got a box from you. So I’m eating and pecking away with one finger. I don’t know how to type very well yet but I think I can pick it up if I keep pecking away.

Guess I’d better sign off for now. Am feeling fine and hope that you are the same.

Your brother,
Herbie

Russian Soldiers & 84th at Elbe River.

Russian Soldiers & 84th at Elbe River.

I believe this is the poem my dad mentioned. It is on the same type of paper and appears to have been typed with the same typewriter, but this one was sent to his parents on 4 May.

LOVING A SOLDIER

Loving a soldier is not all play;
In fact there’s little of it gay.
It’s mostly having but not to hold;
It’s being young and feeling old.

Loving a soldier is not all cream;
It’s being in love with a misty dream.
It’s getting a card from a southern camp,
And sending a letter with an Air Mail stamp.

It’s hoping for furloughs that can’t be;
It’s wondering if he’s gone overseas.
And when he comes it’s laughter together,
Unconscious of people, of time, and of weather.

It’s hearing him whisper of his love for you,
And answering his whisper that you love him, too.
Then comes the ring and a promise of love,
Knowing you’re watched by the Father above.

And loving a soldier’s goodbye at the train,
And wondering if you’ll see him again.
Reluctantly, painfully, letting him go,
Indies you’re crying for wanting him so.

Then you watch for the word he is well
And wait for a long no-letter spell.
And your feet are planted in sand not sod
And you’re living strength comes solely from God.

Loving a soldier is undefined fears
And crying until there are no more tears.
Hating the world, yourself, and the war,
And so discouraged you can fight no more.

And then giving up and kneel while praying,
And really mean the prayers you are saying.
And when the mail comes you shout out with joy;
You act like a kid with a new shining toy.

You know very well he’s an ocean away;
You keep loving him more every day.
You know very well living’s no fun
With a man in the Army to shoulder a gun.

Then you grit your teeth and put on a grin;
He’s gone to war and you’d better help win.
Then your birthday comes; you’re older today;
You feel just the same as you did yesterday.

But you’re not, you have changed. You’re wiser and stronger.
You can weather the war if it’s twenty years long.
You’ll sweat as you work all through the day;
Your job will be hard, you’ll earn your pay.

So loving a soldier is headaches and tears;
It’s living a life full of sadness and undefined fears.
Loving a soldier is really not fun,
But it’s worth the price when the battle is won.

Author unknown.

More war letters from my dad Herbert Miller to come in future blog posts.

Mar 13

Tombstone Tuesday–Clarence R. Bollenbacher

Clarence R Bollenbacher, Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2015 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Clarence R. Bollenbacher, located in row 7 of Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Clarence R.
Son of
F.J. & A. B.
BOLLENBACHER
Died 23 Aug 1904
Aged 1 y, 9 m, 21 d

Clarence R. Bollenbacher was born in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, on 3 November 1902, the second child born to Fredrick Jacob and Anna Barbara (Huffman) Bollenbacher. The family lived near Skeels Cross Road at the time of his birth. His given name is spelled Clarants in the Mercer County birth records. [1] There is no indication what his middle initial R stood for.

Clarence died in Mercer County on 23 August 1904, not yet 2 years old. There is no record of his baptism or death in Zion Chatt’s records and no record of his death in the Mercer County Probate.

Clarence had the following siblings:
Mabel E (1900-1989), married Lester Kaylor
Ernest W (1906-1971), married Mabel Howell
Opal Marie (1909-1998), married Blaine Laffin
Albert Frederick (1911-1974), married Lillian Deitsch
Luther Carl “Bun” (1915-1983)

 

[1] “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” database with images, FamilySearch.org, Clarants Bollenbacher, 3 Nov 1902; Liberty Township, Mercer County Births, Vol. 4 (1901-1908), p.14, no. 66; FHL microfilm 914953.

Mar 09

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 18)

My dad, Herbert Miller, was trained as a replacement troop during the fall of 1944 and by the end of that same year he was in Belgium fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. He had been assigned to Company L, 333rd Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, known as the Railsplitters.

Pfc Herbert M. Miller

I continue with the letters he sent home during that time, letters that his family lovingly saved all these years. And I am so grateful that they did.

I am transcribing the letters in the order they were written and I am now to May 1945.

The next letter, a V-Mail letter to his sister Emilene and her husband “Jack”, was typed and is easier to read than the hand-written letters.

V-mail envelope postmarked 26 May 1945, from Pfc Herbert Miller, to Mr. & Mrs. Norval Weitz, Rockford, Ohio. Inspected and passed by an Army examiner.

16 May 1945
Dear Emilene and Jack,

Decided to write a couple of letters this morning. There isn’t more to do. I received your letter that you wrote the 7th of May. That was the day before V-E Day. I also received a letter from Dorothy yesterday, the first letter I’ve received from her in about three weeks.

We can tell a little more about our location and some of the battles we were in. Did you see the German paratrooper knife that I sent home? I got that off of a paratrooper at a town by the name of Haerte [?] coming from the Ruhr to the Rhine River. That German flag has the name of the town on it. The German rifle I picked up on the other side of the Elbe River the day we set up with the Russians.

So Norval really likes his John Deere tractor. Dad said that he put in for a new John Deere tractor. I was wondering if he has it yet. I imagine it will take quite a while for the papers to come through. I imagine by the time you get this letter it will be about time to set out the tomato plants. Tomatoes always take a lot of work but they really pay off good if the weather is good.

The way your letter read you are going to quit your job and become a farmer. Can you drive the tractor yet? I would like to see you plow corn. I’ll bet you could really plow is out.

What are some of the names of the songs on the Hit Parade? Are there any good movies out now? I sure would like to see one. It has been quite a while since I have seen a show.

Guess I’d better sign off for now. Am feeling fine and hope you are the same.

Love,

Herbert

P.S. Please send a package of candy and [?]

Below are photos of some of the things my dad mentioned in this letter.

The Nazi flag, from the town of Dulken. He wrote the names of his Army buddies on the flag. I assume they were from Co. L, 333rd, 84th Division. Dulken is located in north Rhine-Westphalia, part of the municipality of Viersen.

Nazi flag from Dulken, Germany, with names from Co L, 333rd, 84th Div, Railspllitters.

Nazi flag from Dulken, Germany, with names from Co L, 333rd, 84th Div, Railspllitters.

Army buddies’ names on the Nazi flag:

S/Sgt. Larry Broderick
Pfc. Tommy Towbridge
Pfc. Dick Timmons
Pfc. Matt Trefun
Pfc. Herb Miller
Pvt. Frank Bailey
Pvt. John Groves
Pvt. John Proctor
Pfc. Ira Terry
Pvt. Max Trigillo
Pfc. Carrol Ketzenbuger

Photos of some 84th soldiers and Russian soldiers at the Elbe River:

84th & Russian soldiers at Elbe River.

84th & Russian soldiers at Elbe River.

84th & Russian soldiers at Elbe River.

German POWs & 84th, Elbe River.

The paratrooper’s knife. I could not locate the town of Haerte, where my dad said he got it:

V-E Day was 8 May and after that time he was able to write a little more information in his letters home. The division he was in, the 84th, the Railsplitters, was to be sent to the Pacific next and he probably would have gone there to fight had the war with Japan not ended.

Mar 06

Tombstone Tuesday–Fred J. & Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher

Fred J & Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Fred J. and Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher, located in row 9 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Anna
1879-1986

Fred J.
1874-1938

BOLLENBACHER

Fredrick Jacob “Fred” Bollenbacher was born in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, on 7 February 1874, the son of Jacob (1937-1915) and Caroline (Schaadt) Bollenbacher. Caroline Schaadt (1843-1880) was the second of Jacob’s three wives. [1]

Fred’s mother Caroline died on 7 March 1880, probably from complications of childbirth. Fred’s widowed father Jacob resided with his 7 children when the 1880 census was taken on 5 June of that year. The Jacob Bollenbacher household in 1880: Jacob, 42; Phoebe, 11; Louisa M, 10; Adolph, 8; Frederick J, 6; Henriette C, 4; Emma, 2; Peter, 3 months. Jacob was born in Bavaria and was a farmer. [2]

Jacob Bollenbacher married Anna Barbara Huffman in Mercer County, Ohio, on 15 February 1900. [3]

Anna Barbara Huffman was born in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, on 21 February 1879. Anna was the youngest of 4 children born to Ferdinand and Barbara (Schott) Huffman.

Anna was baptized at Zion Chatt on 30 March 1879 with Christ and Anna (Koch) Kessler serving as her sponsors. Anna was confirmed at Zion Chatt on 9 April 1893 by Rev. J.F.C. Soller. Her surname is sometimes spelled Hoffmann in Zion Chatt’s records.

Anna Huffman grew up in Liberty Township. The Ferdinand Huffman household in 1880: Ferdinand, 33; Barbara, 33; Mary, 11; Caroline, 9; George, 7; Henry, 1; Caroline, 65 [Ferdinand’s mother]. Ferdinand and Barbara’s 4 children are listed, but their fourth child, Henry, is a mystery. I wonder if this should have been Anna instead. She would have been 1 year old then. [4] 

In 1900 Anna, who was married by that time, lived with her parents when the 1900 census was taken on 12 June. Also in the household was her brother George and her paternal grandmother Caroline, the widowed mother of her father Ferdinand.  The Ferdinand Huffman household in 1900: Barbara, 53, head; Ferdinand, 53, husband; George, 36, son; Anna Bollenbacher, 21, daughter, married; and Caroline, 79, mother, widowed. [5]

By 1910 Fred and Anna Bollenbacher had been married 10 years and had 3 children in their household. Their household in 1910: Fred J, 36; Anna, 31; Mabel, 9; Ernest, 8; and Opal, 1. Fred was a general farmer. Anna had given birth to 4 children and 3 were living. [6]

In about 1916 Fred and Anna Bollenbacher and their 5 children lived on a 40-acre farm south of Chatt in about 1916. The land was located a little south of Frahm Pike and east of State Route 49. Fred was a farmer and a thresher who owned 2 horses and 3 cows and had an Indiana telephone, according to The Farm Journal Illustrated Directory of Mercer County, Ohio, 1916, 1921.

The Fred Bollenbacher household in 1920: Fred J, 45; Anna, 39; Mabel, 18; Ernest, 13; Albert, 8; Opal, 10; and Luther, 4. Fred was a farmer. [7] 

Fred & Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher family, c1920. Front, Fred & Anna; Middle: Opal, Luther, & Albert; Back: Mabel & Ernest.

A big thanks to Christy for sending me the above photo of the Fred J. and Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher family, taken about 1920. Christy is Fred and Anna’s great-granddaughter and she descends from their son Albert.

Fred J. Bollenbacher died 28 April 1938 in Liberty Township at the age of 64 years, 2 months, and 21 days. He was buried on the 30th. According to Zion Chatt’s records he was survived by his wife, 3 sons, 2 daughters, 6 grandchildren, 1 brother, 2 sisters, 3 half-brothers, and 3 half-sisters. Fred was a farmer and a thrasher. He took his own life by hanging due to ill health.

In 1940 Anna, a 61-year old widow, lived with her son Luther, age 24 and single, in the same house they had rented and lived in 5 years before. The census indicates that the house was not connected to a farm. Luther “Bun” was a general laborer, doing all sorts of odd jobs. [8]

Anna Bollenbacher, 107 years old, 1986.

I remember when Anna came to church and we had a 100th birthday celebration for her. She even worked in her garden in her last years. What a remarkable lady!

Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher, 1979. 100 years old.

Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher died of pneumonia and kidney failure in Coldwater, Mercer County, Ohio, on 6 December 1986, at the age of 107. She was buried on the 9th.

Fred and Anna are buried close to their son Luther, who died in 1983.

Fred and Anna had the following children:
Mabel E (1900-1989), married Lester Kaylor
Clarence R (1902-1904)
Ernest W (1906-1971), married Mabel Howell
Opal Marie (1909-1998), married Blaine Laffin
Albert Frederick (1911-1974), married Lillian Deitsch
Luther Carl “Bun” (1915-1983)

 

[1] Jacob Bollenbacher (1837-1915) had three wives: Louisa Friedericka Becker (1848-1864); Caroline Schaadt (1843-1880); and Magdalena Distler (1856-1923).

[2] 1880 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 188, p.473B, dwelling 48, family 50, Jacob Bollenbaugh; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T9, roll 1048.

[3] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” FamilySearch.org, Fred J Bollenbacher & Anna Barbara Huffman, 15 Feb 1900; Mercer County Marriages, Vol. 8, p.111; FHL microfilm 914957.

[4] 1880 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 188, p.472C, dwelling, family, Ferdinand Hoffman; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T9, roll 1048.

[5] 1900 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 85, p.9A, dwelling 164, family 169, Ferdinand Hoffman; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 1241304, NARA microfilm T623, roll 1304.

[6] 1910 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 119, p.4A, dwelling & family 60, Fred J Bollenbaugher; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 1375227, NARA microfilm T624, roll 1214.

[7] 1920 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 140, p.9B, dwelling 177, family 191, Fred J. Bollenbacher; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T625, roll 1418.

[8] 1940 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 54-22, p.8A, line 1, Anna Bollenbacher; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T627, roll 3114.

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