Category: ancestry

Willis Deininger Letter

In 1977, Willis J. Deininger wrote to his niece and my grandmother, Marian (Bohnsack) Davis, about their family.  It’s funny, because I worked a long time to figure out Willis’ mom’s siblings.  After I invested a lot of time and effort into the research, I found this note in one of my mom’s binders.  It would have been much more helpful to have found this before I spent all that time.

Willis’ note states “This is all I can find in her [Louisa (Muegge) Deininger’s] old bible, there is nothing about her parents or dads parents names. Sorry I can’t help you more. Willis & all”.

Here’s Willis information:

Willis’ parents: William Deininger,  born May 22, 1860; Louisa Muegge, born June 25, 1866.

William’s siblings:

  • John
  • Barbara – married Charles Menzemer
  • Amelia – married August Geselbracht
  • Mary – married Gotleib Weik

Louisa’s siblings:

  • Julius Muegge
  • Mary – married Paul Reschkowsky
  • Amelia – married John Ulreich

Willis’ siblings:

  • Bertha – married William Studier
  • Rose – married John Jowaski
  • Minnie – married Leo Bohnsack
  • Herbert
  • Clara – married Rex Lyles
  • Amanda – married John Jowaski and Ted Wagner
  • Pauline – married Cliff Dunstan
  • John – married Vivian Brush and Beulah Brush
  • Willis – married Alma Bardell
Willis Deininger Note

Biography: William Passmore

William Passmore

William Passmore is not a direct ancestor of mine.  His daughter Elizabeth Edna Passmore married James T. Davis, a nephew of my gg-grandfather John B. Davis.  Passmore was the coroner for the suicide of William Davis, brother of James T. Davis. His ties to the Davis family are why I’m posting his biography published in Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess and Carroll Counties, Illinois (1889), p257.

William Passmore, his wives Elizabeth and Sarah, and children Anna Marie, Salina, and John Yonatt are buried in Council Hill Cemetery. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate their graves when I visited Council Hill. Since I couldn’t find his headstone, here’s a panorama that I shot of the cemetery.

Council Hill Cemetery

William Passmore, Postmaster, grocer, and general merchant at Council Hill, is considered one of the most public-spirited men of his community. He has held the Office of Township Supervisor a period of twenty-one years; Justice of the Peace thirty years, and has occupied most of the other local offices. His years sit lightly on him, and he has the faculty of looking upon the bright side of life. He has an excellent command of language and is a natural auctioneer, a business in which his talents are often called into requisition.

Next in importance to a man’s own personality is that of those from whom he draws his origin. The parents of our subject were Richard and Elizabeth (Youatt) Passmore, natives of Devonshire, England, but born in different parishes. The paternal grandfather, John Passmore, was a man of note in his community, officiating as Clerk of his parish for years; was an auctioneer, and a blacksmith by trade. He spent his entire life in his native county, and died in 1827.

The father of our subject owned a farm of about twenty acres in Devonshire, where he spent his entire life engaged in agriculture and stock-raising. Both parents died in 1825. Their family consisted of two sons and two daughters. John died in January, 1889, in Michigan; Mary A. is a resident of Chicago, Ill.; William, our subject, was the third child; Elizabeth is a resident of Galesburg, Ill. William was born in Devonshire in the parish of Filleigh, and was left an orphan when a boy of three years. He was taken into the home of a paternal aunt, where he lived until he was fifteen, receiving a limited education in the parish school, and afterward worked on a farm. Later he began an apprenticeship at the blacksmith’s trade, which he followed six years.

In June of the year above mentioned our subject embarked for the United States at Liverpool, on the sailing-vessel “Lanarkshire,” and after a voyage of forty-five days landed in New York City. Thence he came directly to this county and located in Council Hill precinct, of which he has since been a resident. He occupied himself mostly at blacksmithing, putting up a shop and conducting it until 1850. On the 5th of April that year he sold his shop, and a short time later started across the plains to California. He was four and one-half months on the road, passing through Salt Lake City, where he heard Brigham Young deliver a Fourth of July oration. He commenced mining at Hangtown, but later established himself at Weaverville, and remained in that region until the fall of the year following. He then returned home via the water route, this trip occupying four months. The following spring he put up a new blacksmith shop at Council Hill, also a dwelling, and began the manufacture of wagons and other road vehicles, besides doing a general blacksmithing business. During the war he sold his shop and engaged in grist-milling, which he followed one year. In the meantime he had engaged in farming two years.

Mr. Passmore in the year of 1867, commenced operating as a grain-buyer and stock-dealer, and later engaged in general merchandising about the time of receiving the appointment of Postmaster. In 1872 he purchased back his old blacksmith shop, quit the grain business, but carried on his store. He has a snug home with ten acres of ground adjacent to his store and dwelling. He withdrew from his wagon-making enterprise in the fall of 1888, sold his shop again, and has since given his attention to the store and post-office, although officiating as auctioneer when called upon. A thirty years’ experience at this has rendered him an expert.

Mr. Passmore, on the 15th of January, 1849, was joined in wedlock to Miss Elizabeth Hughes, the marriage taking place at Council Hill. This lady was a native of Wales, and came to America with her parents in 1847. She departed this life at her home in Council Hill, Dec. 29, 1849, leaving no children. Our subject contracted a second marriage, Feb. 22, 1850, with Miss Sarah Hughes, also a native of Wales, and a sister of his first wife. Of this union there have been born ten children, only five of whom are living: George F. carries on blacksmithing in Radersburg, Mont.; Lizzie is the wife of James Davis, a farmer near Plainview, Pierce Co., Neb.; Ella married Dr. H. H. Hoagland, and they reside on a farm near Plainview, Neb.; William Y. is also farming in Nebraska; and Sarah O. Passmore, who also resides in Nebraska. The wife and mother died March 28, 1888. On the 11th day of March, 1889, Mr. Passmore was joined in matrimony with Miss Mary Jane Roberts, of Woodbine Township, Ill. In addition to the offices already mentioned Mr. Passmore has been a member of the School Board thirty years, and has served on the Grand and Petit Juries. Politically, he is a stanch Republican. Socially, he belongs to the Masonic fraternity (the R. A. M.), and the I. O. O. F. being in the latter a member of Subordinate Lodge No. 17.

U.S. Daughters of 1812

My gggg-grandfather, Christian Smith, served in the War of 1812. He was drafted into Captain Jacob Catterlin’s 2nd Regiment Ohio militia in Fairfield County, Ohio, and served from 1 Sept 1813 until 1 Mar 1814.  Christian was discharged at Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

A couple of months ago, I applied for membership into the U.S. Daughters of 1812.  Yesterday, I received confirmation that I’ve been accepted!  I’m so excited and pleased that I was able to prove direct lineal descent. I’ve been researching my family history for a long time;  I thought I knew about documenting lineage.   When I started filling out the application, I really learned about documentation.

Since Christian wasn’t listed in the U.S. Daughters of 1812 ancestor database, I had to detail all lineage connections.  (Hopefully he’ll be listed in the database soon!) Fortunately, I have his War of 1812 service and pension files, so proving service was not difficult.   What was challenging was getting all the birth, marriage, and death certificates from the other generations!


When I first started researching my family tree, I had one goal – trace my heritage with the goal of joining the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Well, almost 10 years have past and I am *this* close to having the proof.    Of course,getting the proof will probably take awhile.  I have to get will and probate records. I also have to deal with a name change.  Explaining that through proof should be interesting.  The revolutionary war records spells my ancestor as “Firestine” and most of the documents I have state it as “Firestone”.  Fun!  Anyway, it will probably take another year, but I feel that my goal is within reach!  At least, it’s closer than it was a decade ago.

Davis – Blewett Information

About the year 1770 a man by the name of — Painter brought his small son to a family by the name of Kempthorn who lived in Cornwall, England and left him for them to care for.  He went to the continent and sent back money to pay for the child’s expenses.  Mr. Painter appeared to be well to do.  After about 5 years, the money stopped and it was assumed that he had died.  The Kempthorn’s were evidently poor people and could not afford to keep the child so he was adopted by a man named Davies.  This boy’s name was probably Jacob, and he married Elizabeth who lived to be about 90 years old.

Tantalizing, isn’t it?  Who wouldn’t want to know more about their family history after reading something like this?  So how is it that I completely forgot about a 32-page document regarding the Davis-Blewett family?!

Davis-Blewett Family Info from David Mayo Davis

The fact that I didn’t remember I had this information HORRIFIES me.  This research was done by David Mayo Davis. My mom and grandmother received it from David’s widow Loretta in the early 2000s.  At first, it seems overwhelming detailed and confusingly laid out.   However, the information contained in the document is extremely valuable, accurate, and helpful.

Anyone searching the Blewett and Davis family from Crowan Parrish in Cornwall, England may find the document helpful.  The family starts with Jacob Painter who, after his father died, was adopted by Mr. Davies.  After Jacob and Elizabeth (Vivian)’s descendants came to America, the name changed to Davis.

Alvin Davis Jr and my grandfather have passed away, but the research lives on.  If you find this information helpful, let me know.