Research trip journal, day 12

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

2014.05.29 Thursday

2014.05.30 Friday

Because the internet connection in my Econolodge room was faulty, I slept fitfully. Finally at 4:00 a.m., I decided that I wasn't sleeping and should work to get a good connection. I phoned the desk, and the clerk gave me a number for technical support. The technician created a special exception for my firewall and successfully provided a network node. I spent the next two hours preparing for the rest of my work in Leavenworth. I decided to reverse my plans, eat a breakfast in the hotel, tour and photograph the city, and go to the cemetery as the last task before leaving for Dayton.

Leavenworth City Tour

I began the driving tour that was suggested online, but realized that it revealed little of the Leavenworth contemporary to the Michael Kohn family. I photographed some of the warehouses near the landing, and began searching for the known Michael Kohn residences. Seven addresses were given in the censuses and city directories.
  • 909 North 7th Street (1882)—One source includes this address, which may be a typographic error. No building is at the location today.
    722 Kickapoo, Leavenworth, Kansas
    (2014, likely not a contemporary home)
  • 720 Kickapoo Street (1884-1893)—This residence was the family's most constant location, which indicates some stability in their finances. The present building, which is numbered 722, is unlikely to be the original building. (The building to the east is numbered 718, and the building to the west is 724.) The gables and porch seem to fit into 1910s or 1920s architecture styles. View from the west.
I had parked opposite the house, in front of a similar house where two women and a child were sitting on the stoop. The child asked me why I was photographing the house. "Because my great grandfather's brother lived there," I told him. The young woman with him said, "Well, I hope he wasn't kicked out of it like we've been. We're waiting for a truck now to take us away from here."
  •  523 North 4th Street (1894)—No building is at this location today.
    919 N 7th, Leavenworth, Kansas
    (2014, likely a contemporary building)
  • 919 North 7th Street (1896)—This location faces a busy street today, and I have little reason to suspect otherwise for the city of the 1890s. The entrances to the three apartments seem to be modified from the original only in the height of the outer opening for the step to the door. The apartment nearest the street corner appears to have been modified with clapboard siding that might have replaced a set of display windows for a street-facing business. On the left is an entrance for apartments 3 and 4, likely a stairway to the upstairs.
    833 Pottawatomie, Leavenworth, Kansas
    (2014, likely not a contemporary home)
  • 831 Pottawatomie Street (1899)—This location does not have a building contemporary to the Michael Kohn residence. The present building, which is numbered 833, is unlikely to be the original building. (The building to the east is numbered 829, and the building to the west is 837.) The gables and porch seem to fit into 1920s architecture styles. View from the west.
  • 417 North 7th Street (1900-1905)—No building is at this location today.
    786 Osage, Leavenworth, Kansas
    (likely not a contemporary home)
  • 784 Osage Street (1907)—This location also does not have a building contemporary to the Theodore Kohn residence. The present building, which is numbered 786, is unlikely to be the original building. (The building to the east is numbered 782, and the building to the west is 788.) The gables and porch seem to fit into 1920s architecture styles. View from the east. 
While I was photographing the house, a neighbor eyed me from 788 Osage, and a man stepped out from the barber shop at 792 Osage. A barechested man opened the screen door of 786, staring at me, and a boy leaned out behind him.The barber asked, "What's up with the camera?" I told him my reason, and he said, "Well, people in this neighborhood don't think anything good can come from somebody photographing their place. Especially someone in a van with out of state plates. But go ahead and do what you want." He nodded at the man and boy at 786, and motioned them to go inside while I took the photos. I thanked him as I closed up the camera and observed, "It's a good sign that you watch out for each other here. Not every street has a careful neighborhood watch." He smiled and wished me luck in my research.
All the addresses are now in poor neighborhoods, and the size of each home implies the residents are in the lower working class or welfare stratum. Reading the number of families enumerated in the 1895 through 1905 censuses, it is likely that the blocks now with 1920s single homes had been tenement row houses or low apartment buildings.

St. Joseph Catholic Church

This last address is within a half block from St. Joseph Catholic church. When I found it locked, I went to the parish office and asked for access. The woman at reception could not leave her position and called the bookkeeper to open the church for me. As we walked to the church, we talked about the German heritage festival that comes in early June. St. Joseph was formed to serve the German population, while the cathedral parish was formed for the Irish. Today the parish has no German speakers, though many still recognize their German background.

I drove through Fort Leavenworth, as suggested by online information for the city. A few sections of the facility seem to date from earlier times, including a few residences and a set of warehouse buildings that overlook a bend of the Missouri River. However, none of the original fort has been preserved except small portions in the on-site museum.

Mount Calvary Cemetery

Some might think my research at the cemetery was disappointing. Quite the contrary; I believe I was able to corroborate my inferences from the Kohn family's homes.

In early May, I had written to the cemetery to inquire about burials I hoped to find:
  • Kohn, Francis John, died 22 July 1879
  • Kohn, John R., died 5 May 1883
  • Kohn, John, died 24 July 1905
  • Kohn, Michael, died 4 Sept 1905
  • Kohn, Theresia, died 22 Nov 1891
I also asked about other possible Kohn burials, children from the same family who appear in the state and federal censuses through 1910:
  • Kohn, Matthew, death date unknown, after 1895
  • Kohn, John R., date unknown, after 1905
  • Kohn, Peter, date unknown, after 1900
  • Kohn, Annie, date unknown, after 1905
  • Kohn, Leo, date unknown, after 1905 
Her response by phone had not been helpful, in which she claimed nobody named Kohn was buried there.

I drove about 3 miles south from Fort Leavenworth to Eisenhower Road, and then east about a mile to Desoto Road, which allows entrance to Mount Calvary cemetery. Prepared with the information available in the city library, the document Mount Calvary Cemetery Index: Leavenworth County, Kansas volume 1 (1869-1919),[compiled and published by Erwin C. Baker and Charles F. Pierce, Leavenworth KS, 1983] I had several line numbers that I could give to Gladys Armstrong [check name]. She checked the database she was currently building from hand- and typewritten records, found conflicting information, and brought out an original and very worn ledger of interments. She explained that the original ledgers had many inconsistencies and duplicated numbers for line entries. I photographed the two-page spreads as we looked up each line number I had.
  • Line number 1278 (page 48)—John R. Kohn, [died] Leavenworth 1883.05.05, [cause] measles, [parents] Mcl - Teresa Kohn, [marital status] single, [location] Single Grave, [remarks] German church, [priest] J.F. Cunningham
  • Line number 3243 (page 75)—Theresia Kohn, Germany 1852, Leavenworth Kan  21.91, paralysis, Theodore & Gertrude [Donebar or Dauter? inserted above], married, Single grave, German church, J.F. Cunningham
  • Line number 4422 (page 117)—Mary E. Rumpau, Michigan [This logged entry is not a match.]
  • Line number 4422 (page 124)—John Kohn, 11worth 1884, 11worth Kan, July 24/05, consumption, Michael & Teresa, single, single grave, St. Joseph's, John Ward 
  • Line number 4440 (page 118)—Julia Gunn, Ireland [This logged entry is not a match.]
  • Line number 4440 (page 125)—Michael Kohn, Leavenworth 1878, 11worth [Leavenworth]  Sept 4/05, consumption, Michael & Teresa, single, single grave, St. Joseph's, John Ward 
  • Line number 4555 (page 120)—Thomas Flanigan, Ireland [This logged entry is not a match.]
  • Line number 4555 (page 132)—Michael Kohn, Germany 1845, 11worth Aug. 26/07, Consumption, [no entry], married, single grave, St. Joseph's, P.R. McNamoran[?]
Every citation listed the burial to be in the "single burial section," in the extreme southwest corner of the cemetery, beyond the crucifix.
Gladys explained that the section held welfare and poverty cases as well as deceased with no next of kin or family burial plot. In most cases, the burial would have no stone to mark its location. There is, she said, some chronological order to the interments. The very oldest are in the southwest corner, and later interments occurred in groups, somewhat arranged in concentric rings of a quarter circle.

I went to the single section, read each stone that could be made out—many were in greatly pitted or poorly etched stone, many were overgrown with heavy moss, only very few in granite that could withstand the elements. I photographed the section, absent finding any stone for members of the Kohn family.

I left the cemetery and city with the understanding that the Michael Kohn family existed at the precipice of poverty. Theirs was no story of a successful immigrant, nor even of proudly making a meager living despite economic forces set against him. Perhaps there is little wonder that the family members often died young and that the family died out in the area.

Return to Dayton

My drive to Dayton included a more leisurely stretch that jogged south from Columbia to Jefferson City so I could follow the Katy Trail from Jefferson City to Case. The Katy Trail is a 237-mile bikeway that starts in Clinton (southeast of Kansas City) and from Boonville follows the Missouri River as it passes through the state. The trail is a separated, tree-lined, crushed-rock path that has few intersectons with roadways. State Highway 94 roughly parallels the trail from Jefferson City to Weldon Spring (southwest of St. Charles). I returned to the freeway west of Warrenton, and continued toward Dayton with only one gas stop in Pocahontas IL. I arrived home after almost twelve hours of driving, at 11:00 p.m. Dayton time.

Chronology of the Leavenworth Kohn Family

End of the Journal

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