The Mystery of My Great-Grandfather

For years I have been delving into genealogy, especially after my maternal Grandmother, Hazel, died and I was gifted with a box of her research that none of the family wanted or understood. The box was large and heavy with binders, notes, photographs, and treasures that made my heart sing and set me on my journey toward researching my maternal family lines. Sometime later, I was also gifted with two volumes of rich well-written stories of my grandparents’ lives during the early 1900s, as told to one of my aunts. The truth is, I always knew more about my maternal side than my paternal, but I had a mystery to solve.

Grandma Hazel was the family historian for many years but she was never able to find information regarding Grandpa Marty’s mother who died when he was three years old. In those days, before the internet made family research commonplace, it was difficult to get your hands on essential documents unless you made a trip to the building where the information was stored, or you wrote letters and waited for weeks for a response. In the quest to find my great-grandmother, I easily picked up where Grandma left off.

Grandpa’s mother’s name was Johanna “Hannah” Buetow Bauman. For hours each weekend, I worked on Ancestry dot com looking for information to piece Hannah’s young life together. After digging, I found a census record showing that she lived in Minnesota in the late 1800s until her death. After I pinned down a city and details about her father. I finally found some online newspapers that led me to both her and her father’s obituary! However, I was not able to access the information due to a paywall that I could not afford. As I was about to give up, I contacted the appropriate newspaper to see how I could get the two obituaries for less than a subscription price. By providing details that I already knew from family stories and from my own research, I was offered the obituaries via email at no charge!

So, here is the story of my great-grandmother Hannah Buetow who passed away in 1919 at 27 years years young, leaving behind four children ranging in age from six down to two years old. Grandpa Marty was three years old when Hannah died, and his heart never forgot her.

The headline in the newspaper reads in big bold capital letters: MOTHER OF FOUR DEAD.

The subtitle reads: Sad Death of Mrs. Hannah Buetow Bauman in Itasca County – HERE FOR BURIAL – Two Weeks Earlier she Accompanied Family to New Home.

The obituary tells the story of a young mother with hour children who followed her husband to a small claim he held in the wilderness of Itasca County, 20 or so miles from Deer River. He had gone ahead to get the house everything ready for the family, and two weeks after Johanna and the children- Alvin, Harold, Martin, and Elise- arrived she was dead with Diphtheria. With the plethora of obituary details, I was able to strengthen Hannah’s branch to my family tree, and I was able to see what type of person she was- kind, caring, and very loving.

This type of experience is what I love most about genealogy; searching for detailed information about ancestors so that I may get an idea of what type of person they were, what they cared about, and how they went about their daily lives. I

Next time, I hope to share the story of my paternal great-grandfather who died very young. In the meantime, fruitful searching and happy writing!