Research trip journal, day 10

2014.05.19 Monday

2014.05.20 Tuesday

2014.05.21 Wednesday

2014.05.22 Thursday

2014.05.23 Friday

2014.05.24 Saturday

2014.05.25 Sunday

2014.05.26 Monday

2014.05.27 Tuesday

2014.05.28 Wednesday

I had been in contact with St. Boniface Catholic church in Tipton, Kansas over several months. My first questions were on the parish history, then on the physical properties of their parish registers. Then, I listed all the sacramental "events" I hoped to document in family while they lived in and near Tipton. From this preparation, they realized I had much more to accomplish than merely a few baptisms and marriages. We came to agreement that I might do the work in place of the secretary, who typically answered isolated requests for parish records.

I arrived at the parish office around 10:30 today and introduced myself to Fr. Damian Richards and his mother. Fr. Damian and I spoke a bit about the parameters of photographing parts of the parish registers: I could photograph the double-page spreads, but I could only photograph those spreads that presented information for the Kohn, Ohnsat, Reinert, Gradig, Steichen, Schandler, Streit, Gasper, Gillen, Schwinden, Simeon, Ottley, Deneke, Ottley, and Riedel families—the in-law families of each of my uncles, aunts, granduncles, and grandaunts.

Baptism Register 03

I began with a fairly recent baptismal register, reading the entries and photographing a page where I saw a relative's name. At Fr. Damian's suggestion, I stopped the photography around 1960 and at the time to break for lunch. Baptism Register 03 has a full description of the source, although not the pages themselves.

The entries held a surprise for me: Some Kohn families who eventually lived some distance from Tipton had several baptisms performed at St. Boniface. It may be they resided nearby and later moved or they returned to Tipton for the baptism in their "home parish." My first cousins once removed, Ves and Ernest Kohn, who lived in Cawker City, Kansas, brought their babies to St. Boniface for baptism; my uncle Nick Kohn brought his babies from as far as Burr Oak in Jewell county for baptisms at St. Boniface.

Baptism Register 02

After lunch I set up the next previous baptismal register and photographed relevant pages through its entirety. "Baptismorum Registrum" appears to be the oldest baptism register; its spine, covers, and pages are very worn. But it is not the oldest; I was to photograph the rebound first volume next. Baptism Register 02 has a full description of this source.

I noticed also that at least one bound volume was missing. When I expressed concern that it was mislaid, Fr. Damian admitted that he had removed the more recent register of marriages, first communions, and confirmations from those that I could photograph.

Baptism Register 01

The earliest baptismal register, "Baptismorum Registrum Tipton, Kans 1884-1929" on the spine only has been rebound. The spine and covers exhibit only light shelf wear. The text, however, shows greater wear, discoloration and fragility at the edges of all pages; the ink on some pages has become quite faded.  Baptism Register 01 has a full description of the source.

Marriage Register 01

The first register of marriages is bound together with the first registers of first communions and confirmations. The title on the cover reads "Register of Marriages 1884-1935; First Communions 1890-1949; Confirmations 1892-1949 Vol. 1." Marriage, Communion, and Confirmation Registers 01 has a full description of the source. The photography went much more quickly, since the format of the marriage entries presented names per page. Thus, the criterion of one appearance of any of the family names was met on every spread.

Several marriages of brides from Beloit occurred at St. Boniface.

Confirmation Register 01

Similarly for the confirmation registers, which typically consisted of the names of a dozen or more youth receiving the sacrament. Every page was photographed.

First Communion Register 01

The registers here also consisted of lists of children receiving their first communion, generally 8 to 15 at a time. Every page was photographed.

Funeral Register 01

The state of this register is alarming. The original saddle-stitch binding was fairly inadequate for use as a register. Most pages are loose and torn at the fold of the saddle. Most pages are extremely worn at the edges. The paper is discolored, although the paper likely did not have a high acid content. At least that aspect has helped preserve the register, such as it is. The handwritten title reads "Liber Mortuorum Ecclesiae St Bonifacis Loco Tipton, Mitchell County Kansas 1884 to April 1914." Funeral Register 01 has a full description of the source.

The register entries were very short, and several entries could fit on a page. Because the criterion could be easily met, I was able to photograph each page.

Funeral Register 02

This volume has no title. Its covers are edged with adhesive plastic wrapping tape. Many pages have damage to the edges, and some pages are loose. Its poor condition is second only to Funeral Register 01.  Funeral Register 02 has a full description of the source.

Tipton Heritage Museum

I finished photography by 4 p.m., and called Carolyn Ellenz to meet at the Tipton museum. She and her husband Dave have been working on the museum since 2007, and it has been open to visitors since late 2013. Carolyn led me through the displays, which fill the ground floor and part of the 2nd floor. She showed me their acquisitions about Caledonia, Minnesota, which was the first home of many families who resettled to Tipton. The amount of background information about that town is second only to the Houston County Historical Museum in Caledonia! She also proudly showed the genealogical studies of area families that local genealogists had published.
  • Tipton Heritage Museum
  • Hours:  1:00 to 4:00 p.m. each Friday
  • Special hours:  (to be determined) Saturday and Sunday of the St. Boniface Harvest Festival (first weekend in August)
  • Location: 602 Main Street, Tipton KS 67485 
  • Phone:  785-373-4315
Carolyn spoke of their outreach to local schools and the interest evidenced by volunteer workers in the museum. We shared ideas on making fragile documents available to researchers, rotating displays from the museum placed in local storefronts, and digitally archiving some of their collection.

John M. Kohn parcel, section 25, Carr Ckreek twp, 1884
I had asked Carolyn to print three files that showed portions of the 1884 plat map for Carr Creek township. My great-grandfather John M. Kohn homesteaded in section 25 for a few years before he relocated to La Crosse, Wisconsin in late 1880.  (In the portion of the 1884 plat map shown here, the southwest quarter of section 25 was then owned by H. Hodge. The transfer to Hodge occurred shortly before John M. moved his family to La Crosse, Wisconsin in late 1880.) He and his wife Susanna (Reinert) were enumerated here in the 1875 Kansas census and the 1880 U.S. Federal census. I have transcribed the land patent that documents the transfer to John M. under the Homestead Act. A family document refers to their dugout and sod house that they lived in while "proving" the land.

Also in Carr Creek were the farms owned by William Schwinden, the father-in-law to Peter Reinert, and John Schwinden, a brother-in-law.
William and John Schwinden parcels, sections 15 & 16, Carr Ckreek twp, 1884
The 1884 plat maps show both farms adjacent to each other. William owns the NW quarter of section 15, and John owns an irregular parcel in the N half of section 14.

Going to Section 25 in Carr Creek township

After 7:30, Frank Ohnsat.and his wife Marilyn showed up at the museum. It was nearing the end of their work day. Frank advised me on finding the 1874-1880 residence of John M. Kohn with accurate advice on roads, as the property was near Frank's farm. I left to photograph that location while Frank drove home an implement that he needed for the next day's work. We would meet after sunset.

Although I had 1884 and 1902 maps for locations of William and John Schwinden properties in Carr Creek township, I didn't explore their current appearance. Sunset was approaching, and I wanted to have time at the Kohn homestead.

Self-portrait at the homestead—SW quarter of section 25 with Mill Creek dividing the land
The sod home in Carr Creek township where John M. and Susanna Kohn lived has long gone, but the charm of the location remains. The creek is a small one named Mill Creek, and it was dry today. It set off a small area that could be suitable for livestock—John M. had a few cattle, a horse, some swine. The creek, though small, is impassible for tilling implements; access can only be made by the roads at the parcel's west and south boundaries.

Frank and Marilyn Ohnsat

I headed west to Frank's farm along the dirt roads from the John M. Kohn homestead. I arrived a bit before they did, but the timing was almost spot on. Today as I viewed the St. Boniface baptism records, I realized that Frank is just 25 days older than I. For some reason, my database had his birth year as 1950. We had a wide-ranging conversation about the economics of farming today. His farmland is in three areas: next to his home, where his father and grandfather farmed just west of Tipton, and land about 25 miles away, near Lucas, Kansas. We spoke of Frank's sisters and parents, of growing up in a small town, the reliance on towns like Osborne, Beloit, and Cawker City.

I got to know Marilyn, who had grew up just north of the Kansas-Nebraska border and graduated from Marymount, as did her sisters. (Again my database has been faulty: it reported her birthplace as Missouri.)

Their daughter Amy came home, and we talked about her new job as a teacher at St. Boniface schools.

I headed back to Riverbend by rock roads until I reached KS-181, bypassing Tipton and an additional 12 miles. The way reached the blacktop a bit south of Corinth elevator, where floodlights made the buildings stand tall in the dark, Kansas night.

2014.05.29 Thursday

2014.05.30 Friday

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