Tombstone Tuesday – Ed & Helen (Lee) Roesner

North Grove Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio

This is the tombstone of Edward Roesner and his wife Goldie “Helen”, nee Lee. They are buried in Ward 13, Row 7 in North Grove Cemetery, just north of Celina in Mercer County, Ohio. Edward was the subject of the two previous posts. The marker is inscribed:


Edward Roesner was born 27 November 1893 in Van Wert County, Ohio, to Dietrich and Christine (Schorr) Roesner. He was baptized 10 April 1896 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Van Wert. His parents were his sponsors at baptism. His siblings, Melinda, Christian, Friedrich, and Hanna were also baptized the same day. Another sister, Louise, was born and baptized the following month.  (Source: Church records, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Van Wert, page 69.) Edward married Helen Lee on 18 July 1921 in Van Wert County by W. F. Henkel, minister. (Vol. 15:586) Edward died 22 December 1957 in Mercer County, Ohio. According to his death certificate he died of acute cardiac failure due to chronic myocardial insufficiency.

Christian, Ed (standing), Fred Roesner, brothers

Roesner Rites Tuesday P.M. in Funeral Home. Edward Roesner, R.R. 4, Celina, died Sunday at 11 a.m. in the Otis hospital. He had been in failing health and death was attributed to a complication of ailments. Born in Van Wert County November 29, 1893, he was a retired railroader. He had been employed by the railroad for 46 years.  Thirty six years ago he was married to Helen Lee, who survives. He is also survived by a son, Frederick L. Roesner of Lima, a daughter, Mrs. Dwight Bennett of R. R. 3, Celina, nine grandchildren, a brother, Fred Roesner of Oregon and two sisters, Mrs. Larry Sheay of Santa Ana, Calif., and Mrs. Minnie Williams of Van Wert. Dick and Stallter have charge of the arrangements and friends may call in their Funeral Home on West Market Street, until the time of the rites. Rev. W.D. Sharp will have charge of the services on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in the Funeral Home.
(Source: The Daily Standard, 23 December 1957, page 9, column 1)

Edward’s obituary in The Van Wert Times Bulletin mentioned that his body was to be cremated. (Source: The Van Wert Times Bulletin, 23 December 1957, page 24)

Roesner Rites Held Tuesday P.M.
Rev. W.D. Sharp conducted funeral rites on Tuesday afternoon in Dick and Stallter Funeral Home for the late Edward Roesner. Rev. Sharp delivered the consoling sermon and read verses of several hymns. Interment was made in North Grove Cemetery with the following acting as pallbearers, Levi and Russell Lee, William Myers, Virgil Vorhees, Charles Kirkendall and Fred Boyd. (Source: The Daily Standard, 26 December 1957, page 3, column 7)

Helen G. Roesner, 86, died at 10:12 a.m. Sunday at Celina Manor, Celina. She was a homemaker. Her husband of 36 years, Edward Roesner, died Dec. 22, 1957. Survivors include a daughter, Louise Bennett of Celina; a son, Fred of Curtis; a brother, Russell Lee of Fort Wayne; a sister, Geneva Wilder of Fort Wayne; nine grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and six great-great-grandchildren. Services at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Lehman Funeral Home, Celina. Calling from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral Home. Burial in North Grove Cemetery, Celina. (Source: Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 30 September 1991, page 4A)

Louise, Helen, Ed, Fred Roesner, c1925

I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, Part 2

The Daily Standard, 27 April 1917, page 7

A few weeks ago I blogged about my 2011 Genealogy Goals. I have already had positive results from one of those goals—my goal to review information that I had already collected. By looking through documents I have here at home I was able to get some clues for additional research about Edward Roesner’s railroad accident in which he lost part of his right arm. This is something we, as researchers, should remember to do–look back through the documents and information we have already gathered and study them from time to time. There may be clues that we missed the first time around or information that we never followed up on. We may have collected some new information in the meantime, and when all the information is put together, we may be able to draw new conclusions for further research.

My research goal for this project was to find out more about Edward Roesner’s railroad accident. I had what I thought was an approximate date of his accident from his Railroad Retirement Board file. As I mentioned in last week’s blog, those records showed that he stopped working in April 1917 and that he did not work for the railroad for seven years. He resumed rail work in 1924. Something must have happened in 1917. He had been a brakeman since 1914, a physical and dangerous job. He returned to work as a crossing watchman in 1924, a job that was much less dangerous. It looked like his railroad accident might have occurred in April 1917. He was employed by the Cincinnati Northern Railroad at the time. The Cincinnati Northern Railroad (1894-1938) stretched from Franklin, Ohio, (near Cincinnati) north to Jackson, Michigan, a distance of about 186 miles.  (Wikipedia) Their trains ran through both Celina and Van Wert.

Next I looked at Edward’s WW1 Draft Registration card on The card was dated 5 June 1917. In answer to the question, Has person lost arm, leg, hand, foot, or both eyes or is he otherwise disabled, Edward answered “one hand.” This really narrowed down the time period in which the accident occurred. He had lost his arm before 5 June 1917. So, the April 1917 time period was looking very good as a place to start my search. Edward’s daughter, Louise, had told me the accident occurred in Celina. I would start there, looking through the April 1917 issues of the only newspaper in Celina, The Daily Standard, a weekly paper at that time. I looked through newspaper images on microfilm at the Mercer County Library in Celina and within minutes I found a newspaper item about Edward’s accident in their last issue for April 1917. That was an exciting find!

I learned that Edward’s railroad accident occurred 23 April 1917 in Celina. According to the newspaper article, Edward fell from a box car and the railroad car passed over his right arm at the elbow. They had to amputate his arm immediately. The accident occurred about 1:30 as the southbound Cincinnati Northern freight train No. 75 was passing between Warren and Logan Streets in Celina. Louise had told me that the accident occurred near what was once the creamery on Warren Street.

The newspaper article about the accident also said that Ed lived in Van Wert and that he was married! Married? He did not marry Helen Lee until 1921. This will need some further research. However, Edward stated that he was single on his WWI Draft Registration card, dated about six weeks after the accident. He also stated that he had never been married on his marriage license to Helen Lee. The newspaper probably got that information wrong, but I will still look for a marriage record before 1917.

What about Edward’s job as a brakeman? The brakeman on a train had a dangerous job. According to American Rails, the brakeman held one of the most dangerous occupations on the freight train, or anywhere on the railroad. Fela Law Help describes the job: the railroad brakeman worked with a conductor and an engineer, making up a freight and yard crew. Railroad brakemen usually helped with the coupling and uncoupling of cars as well as operating switches as the cars were dropped off and picked up. And, according to Wikipedia, the brakeman was a member of a railroad train’s crew responsible for assisting with braking a train when the conductor wanted the train to slow down. The brakemen rode in the caboose, the last car in the train, which was built specially to allow a crew member to apply the brakes of the caboose quickly and easily, which would help to slow the train. Brakemen were also required to watch the train when it was underway to look for signs of hot box, (a dangerous overheating of axles,) as well as for people trying to ride the train for free, and cargo shifting or falling off.

Ed’s daughter, Louise, said that after his accident the railroad gave him a lifetime job as a crossing watchman on Logan Street in Celina. According to her, Edward worked in Winchester, Indiana, after they closed the crossing in Celina. As a crossing watchman, Ed’s job would have consisted of operating a manual crossing gate and using a stop sign to control traffic at the crossing. According to Whippany Railway Museum, watchmen were also required to inspect passing trains for defects, report engineers who failed to properly sound the whistle or ring the bell at the crossing, and they were expected to keep the crossing area clear of snow or other debris that might interfere with safe operation. The watchman would sit in a “watch box” or “crossing shanty” until crossing gates became common about the middle of the 20th century.

Louise said that her father learned to function very well without his right arm. She recalled that he learned to write with his left hand, tie his shoe laces, and even garden, one of his favorite pastimes.  One of her earliest memories was when the family lived on Mackinaw Street in Celina.  Their house was very near the railroad tracks and she liked to run down the tracks and greet her father when he came home from work.  She said her dad would pick her up and carry her home.

Edward Roesner completed the 12 question WWI Draft Registration card on 5 June 1917. Below is a copy of that card. It is rather difficult to read and I have included a transcription below the card.

WWI Draft Registration, 12 question card, 1st Registration, transcription:
1.       Name:  Ed Roesner Age: 23
2.       Home address: 619 N. Cherry, Van Wert, Ohio
3.       Date of birth: Nov 29, 1893
4.       Are you (1) Natural-born citizen, (2) a naturalized citizen, (3) an alien, (4) or have you declared your intention:  1 yes
5.       Where were you born: Van Wert, Ohio
6.       If not a citizen, of what country are you a citizen? Left blank
7.       What is your present trade/occupation: None
8.       By whom employed? Where? Left blank
9.       Have you a father, mother, wife, child under 23, sister, brother under 12 solely dependent on you for support? None
10.   Married or single: Single Race: White
11.   What military service have you had: None
12.   Do you claim exemption from draft: None
13.   Tall, medium or short: Medium; Slender, medium or stout: Medium

  • Color of eyes:  Brown; Color of hair: Brown
  • Has person lost arm, leg, hand, foot, or both eyes, or  his he otherwise disabled: One hand

Signature of Registrar: Brough Johnson
Precinct, city or county, state: 1 Ward, Van Wert, Ohio
Date of registration: 5 June 1917
Edward also completed a WWII Registration Card in 1942, shown below.

WWII Draft Registration Card, 1942

It is interesting to note that Edward’s father, Dietrich Roesner, was also involved in the transportation industry. In 1882-1883 he was a boatman on the Wabash and Erie Canal in northeast Indiana. It is also ironic that the advent of the railroad system pretty much put an end to the canal system in this country. And the Roesners were part of both of these means of transportation.

I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

Ed Roesner, Brakeman (far left) April 1914

There is a railroad worker in my husband’s family history. Edward Roesner, Joe’s grandfather, worked for the railroad for 46 years, first as a brakeman and later as a crossing watchman. The postcard shown here is dated 2 April 1914 and shows Edward standing at the far left. Edward identified the New York Central steam locomotive as engine LS & MS 5054. LS & MS stood for Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad, formed in 1869 and absorbed into the New York Central line in 1914.  Edward wrote the names of his railroad crew on the card. Left to right: Ed Roesner, brakeman; Red Bullio, conductor; Clarence Bell, fireman; Mac Bell, engineer; Gahagan and Demoss, both fireman.

Ed was born and raised in Van Wert, Ohio, and moved to Celina later in life. He lost most of his right arm in a railroad accident when he was a young man. Several years ago I ordered information about Edward’s railroad employment from the United States Railroad Retirement Board in Chicago. The following is information from that packet.

The Railroad Retirement Board records gave Edward’s date of birth and the names of his parents. Edward was born in Van Wert, Ohio, on 29 November 1893. He submitted his baptismal certificate to verify his date and place of birth. He submitted this in 1939. Unfortunately, a copy of that certificate was not included in the packet. Ed gave his father’s name as Heinrich Dietrich “Richard” Roesner and his mother as Jane Christine Schorr, which gave me new versions of their names to work with.

According to the records in the file Ed worked as a carpenter, building bridges for the Cincinnati Northern Railroad from May 1912-December 1912. He was a brakeman for the Cincinnati Northern Railroad from May 1913-Dec 1916. From December 1916-April 1917 he was a brakeman for the Nickel Plate Railroad at Fort Wayne, Indiana, and in April 1917 he was again employed by the Cincinnati Northern Railroad. His work records stopped at that time and he resumed work on October 1924 as a crossing watchman for Cincinnati Northern. His yearly wage as a crossing watchman for Cincinnati Northern ranged from $1127.67 in 1924 to $876 in 1931.

In January of 1953 Edward applied for an employee annuity under the Railroad Retirement Act. At that time he was employed by the New York Central Railroad, the Ohio Division at Winchester, Indiana. He had been a crossing watchman there from December 1950-May 1952. He received $300/month and only worked the first five months of 1952. He applied for an annuity that would begin before he reached age 65. He stated that he was totally and permanently disabled from both his regular occupation and from regular employment. His conditions were listed as arthritis, rheumatism, neuritis, and asthma. He stated that he had been employed as a crossing watchman for the last 15 years. He also stated that he was married to Helen Goldie Lee and his address was given as Route #2, Delphos, Ohio. Their marriage date of 18 July 1921, by W.F. Henkel of the Lutheran Church, Van Wert, Ohio, had been verified by their original marriage certificate, a copy of which was not included in the file I received.

At the request of the Railroad Retirement Board, he had a physical examination in January 1953. The results of that examination: He was age 59, weighed 128 pounds, appearance and nutrition fair, gait was ok, carriage normal, and muscular development fair. His blood pressure was 154/90, pulse 100, and respiration 20. There was no evidence of impaired vision or hearing.   There was however evidence of cardiovascular disease. He had dyspnea [shortness of breath] and his lungs showed characteristics of bronchitis. There was evidence of disease or injury to his lumbar spine and he had arthritis in some of his joints. His diagnosis was bronchitis, asthma, arthritis, and arteriosclerosis. No other medical problems were indicated, but they noted that his right arm was amputated two inches above the elbow. On 27 April 1953 Edward was awarded a full annuity, effective from 18 January 1953. He returned to work 2 June 1955. Edward passed away 22 December 1957. There was a copy of his death certificate in the file.

Ed Roesner, Celina, Ohio

A copy of Helen’s Application for a Widow’s Insurance Annuity was included in the file. The application was dated 14 October 1965. In answer to the question about employment during the last 3 years, she stated that Ed had worked in Celina, Ohio, and Winchester, Indiana, from December 1954-November 1956. She gave her place of employment as Wright’s Restaurant and her address as Mercelina Trailer Court, both in Celina. Helen passed away in 1991 and that was noted in the file.

I received a lot of useful and interesting information from the United States Railroad Retirement Board.  The research fee was $27 and I received over 20 pages in the packet. The fee is not refundable and their records are limited to individuals who worked in the rail industry after 1936. The employee’s Social Security number should be included in a research request as well as their full name and date of birth and death.  I hope to learn more about railroad research at the 2011 Ohio Genealogical Society Conference later this month and hopefully I will be able to gather even more information about Edward Roesner and his career with the railroad.

When, where, and how did Edward lose his arm? The answers to these questions will be in my blog next weekend.

Tombstone Tuesday—Louis J. & Sarah H. (Breuninger) Schumm

Louis J & Sarah H Schumm, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Ohio

This is the tombstone photo of Louis J. Schumm and his wife Sarah, nee Breuninger.  They are buried in row 10 of Zion Cemetery,  Zion Lutheran Church, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. Louis’ home was the subject of the previous post. The marker is inscribed:

Louis J.
Sarah H.
His Wife

Ludwig Johann “LouisSchumm was born 26 April 1851 in Van Wert County, Ohio, the son of George Ludwig  and Anna Barbara (Pflueger) Schumm. His father immigrated to America from Ruppertshofen, Wuerttemberg, in 1833.

According to Zion Schumm’s records, Louis was baptized 28 April 1851, with Georg Schumm and wife as sponsors. He married Sarah Breuninger 8 February 1883 in Van Wert County by Rev. G.F.C. Seemeyer. (Vol. 6:221) Louis died 5 Apr 1938 in Van Wert County. According to his death certificate he died of arteriosclerotic heart disease and cardiac failure.

Louis J. Schumm, 87, a well known and highly respected farmer, passed away suddenly Tuesday morning at 7:00 while sitting in a chair in his home about one and one-half miles east of Willshire. The cause of his death was heart trouble.  He had been in failing health for some time, but became worse about a week before his passing when attacked by the flu.  The deceased was a son of the late George L. Schumm and wife, and was born in and lived all his life in this community.  He was a member of the Schumm Lutheran church.  Surviving are two children, Cornelius Schumm, and Mrs. Richard Allmandinger, both of Willshire Township; a half sister, Mrs. Fred Kreiselmeyer of Fort Wayne, and a half brother, William A. Buechner of Willshire Township.  Funeral services in charge of S.S. Buchanan & Son, will be held Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the home and 2 p.m. at the Schumm church, Rev. Alfred Moeller officiating.  Interment will be in the church cemetery.
(Source: Louis J. Schumm obituary, The Willshire Herald, Willshire, Ohio, 7 April 1938, page 1)

Louis J. Schumm (1851-1938)

An 1896 biographical sketch: Louis J. Schumm an enterprising farmer, was born in Willshire Township, Van Wert County, Ohio, April 26, 1851, and is a son of George M. [sic] [should be George L] and Mary [sic] [should be Barbara] Pflueger Schumm, and grandson of John Schumm, of whom mention in full is made in the biography of Henry G. Schumm, on another page.  Louis J. was, like his pioneer ancestor and his children, reared to farming, but was also taught the trade of a carpenter, and for thirteen years he followed this calling, proving himself to be an excellent mechanic and a master of his trade, erecting, during the period mentioned, some of the finest dwelling houses and barns in Willshire Township. He received a very good education, was taught both the English and German languages, while his business training was in no manner neglected.  He was joined in matrimony, February 8, 1883, with Miss Sarah Breuninger, the accomplished daughter of Louis and Mary (Seckel) Breuninger.  The parents of this amiable young lady were born in Wuerttemberg, Germany, and were married in Green Bay City, Wisconsin, where the father had for many years held a position as clerk, then he engaged in merchandising on his own account, and finally came to Van Wert County, Ohio, where he purchased a farm of 100 acres, which he cultivated until his death.  His widow resides on this farm and is a respected member of the Lutheran Church, of which her husband has also been a member.  To the happy marriage of our subject has been born one child–Freida E. Schumm—now the idol of his parents and the pet of his relatives.

Mr. Schumm had bought his present farm before his marriage, and it now comprises 100 acres.  It is drained with over 1,500 rods of tiling, and is improved with a neat modern frame dwelling and a bank barn of his own planning and construction, and which, owing to his skill as a carpenter, surpasses any similar structure in the county.  The most of his property Mr. Schumm has realized through his personal industry and the exercise of a sound discretion in the management of his affairs, and to his skill both as a mechanic and farmer.  In politics, Mr. Schumm has always exercised his franchise in the interests of the Democratic Party.  With his wife he is a devout member of the Lutheran Church, and his and her social standing is with the best families of Van Wert County, Ohio. (Source: A Portrait and Biographical Record of Allen and Van Wert Counties, Ohio (Chicago: A.W. Bowen & Co., 1896), 669-670)

The House on Evergreen Farm

Louis Schumm family: Frieda, Sarah (Breuninger), Cornelius, Louis Schumm (c1901)

This frame house was the home of three generations of my Schumm ancestors. It is located between Willshire and Schumm in Van Wert County, Ohio. Grandpa always said that the house was originally back in the woods and was moved to its current location. Both the 1872 and 1886 maps of Van Wert County show a house that was back a long lane, possibly as far as 1/8 mile from the road, north of where the house is today. The barn, which is also still standing, was built in 1886 and the house was probably moved closer to the road about the time the barn was built. That must have been quite a job to move a house back in those days. The above photo, taken about 1901, shows the house in its current location. The house was evidently built sometime before 1872.

Louis Schumm purchased the farm and house from Henry F. Tindall in 1878. Louis married Sarah Breuninger in 1883 and Sarah died in 1921. Cornelius and Hilda (Scaer) were married in 1927  and moved into the house with Louis. Louis passed away in 1938 and Cornelius and Hilda raised their family there. Cornelius passed away in 1986 and Hilda remained in the house until the early 1990s, when she could no longer maintain the house by herself. Hilda lived to be 101. Evergreen Farm is registered as an Ohio Century Farm.

Louis Schumm in yard


Louis Schumm home & yard

Until recently, the house was associated with the adjacent 80 acre farm, known as Evergreen Farm. That name comes from the time, years ago, when Louis Schumm and his son Cornelius maintained an elaborately trimmed evergreen hedge around the yard. There are still people today that remember the hedge and the pruned evergreens in the yard. Louis and Cornelius had to trim all of those evergreen trees every summer and the children in the family would rake up the cuttings. Some of the evergreens were so tall that they had to use stepladders to reach the tops.

Schumm Yard

The house does not look very large from the outside, but it is quite roomy inside. The following are some of my recollections of the house from my childhood.  The front door opened into a large family-type room. There was a large oak roll-top desk in this room and a painting of Martin Luther that hung over the desk. That painting now hangs in my office. There was also a round oak table and sideboard in this room. There was a formal living room off the family room. Grandma kept the living room closed off and the shades were always pulled shut. This kept the room cool in the summer. This room was used only for important family occasions such as Christmas, or for very special visitors. There was always a Victorian sofa and matching chair in the living room. Grandma had purchased the set when they were first married. There was a small parlor off the formal living room as well as a bedroom. There were also two small bedrooms upstairs. The kitchen was rather small and it was directly beyond the family room. In the kitchen was a door that opened onto a breezeway. There was always air flowing from the west to the east through the breezeway and it usually felt very comfortable back there. Across the breezeway was the summer kitchen.

The summer kitchen was located at the back of the house, to the north. The summer kitchen had windows on 3 sides and a door that opened onto the breezeway. All this ventilation allowed air to flow through the large room, keeping it cool. In the spring the family would move everything from the kitchen in the house into the summer kitchen. The women would do all of their cooking in the summer kitchen during the hot months and the family would also eat their meals there. At that time they used a wood-burning stove for cooking and to heat water for other purposes. The heat generated by the wood stove was kept away from the main house, keeping the house as cool as possible.

There are several farm buildings across the barnyard, away from the house. These include the large barn, a garage, and a granary.  Grandpa usually spent his days tinkering about in the garage. The granary was built by a distant relative, Abraham Pflueger. He carved his name and the date into a beam in the granary, “Abraham Pflueger, 1902.” There is a large pond to the northwest of the barn, dug in the 1960s.

Over the years the house has been updated with modern conveniences and has been redecorated several times. However, I will always remember it the way it used to be.

Amy, Esther, Louis, Cornelius, Florence Schumm

Schumm home, 1947