John Witzel

Jack WitzelJohn Witzel, known as ‘Jack’, first came to the area known as Mount Carmel in Cavalier county in present day North Dakota in 1883. He was one of three brothers born to German immigrants in Tavistock, Oxford, Ontario.

In History of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and Surrounding Area, I learn that for whatever reason, John came by himself to search the area. The land had not yet been surveyed for settlement but Jack considered that a minor detail. He decided where he wanted to settle and then returned to his home in Ontario. He convinced his younger brother Adam, their friends Louis Schneider and Sabastian Koehmstedt to go back to Dakota Territory with him.

He started back and the three men shortly followed him on foot. His instructions to the three were to cross two small rivers and come to a small valley with a stream running through it.

When crossing the streams, Louis and Adam carried Sabastian, the smallest of the three, along with their supplies to keep them dry. When they arrived at the area now known as the ‘tree claim’ the weather had turned bad and they were cold.

They saw a small light on a hillside. Though they knew it might be an Indian camp, they decided to check it out – it was either that or freeze to death.

It was Jack Witzel who had taken shelter in a cave. He was wet and cold.

The three eventually ‘cornered’ homesteaded, meaning they built their homesteads on the corner of the claim, close to each other for company and to share work.

Jack’s first home was a dugout, a cave dug into the side of a hill and roofed with branches and sod.

A third brother, Harry, later joined John and Adam. Their parents and two sisters remained in Canada. All three brothers spent the remainder of their lives in the Mount Carmel area, close to the Canadian border.

Adam later married Etta Quigley. Thirteen children were born to their union, including Vera Alberta.

A note: Adam’s Homestead Certificate No. 4991, Application 18422 was recorded 7 Dec 1899. The land was now his. But for whatever reason he filed another claim in Canada.

The Homestead records for Saskatchewan show Adam applied for a homestead 6 April 1903. This was the about the same time as Etta’s father and brothers also filed claims in the area. Why? What happened to their plans?


Continuing Grace’s letter

After commenting on Estelle’s book, Grace foster continued, “Cleve’s homestead was south of your Grandparents. We know he came in 1903 to help Fosters move up . . .”

Cleve Quigley’s sister Ida Eveline Mae had married Frank Dryden Foster 16 Feb 1889 in Langdon, North Dakota. Both Ida and Frank were born in Canada and moved with their families to North Dakota in the 1880s.

In 1902 Frank, along with two brothers who had remained in Ontario, decided to homestead in Saskatchewan, where they staked out their claims. Frank returned to North Dakota to get ready to move the family to Canada.

“Frank had a full line of settler’s effects as he had already farmed several years, and these were shipped by train to Saskatoon. The family also came as far as Saskatoon by train. From there on, everything came by wagons and eldest son Jim, assisted by his uncle, Clive Quigley, rode horseback to drive the cattle and horses.” (Taken from North of the Gully, Frank and Ida Foster by Mr. & Mrs. Noah Foster. Mrs. Noah Foster probably is the Grace who is writing to Grandma McDowall.)

Cleve had applied for his Homestead Grant 9 Feb 1903. According to a 1916 Canada Census, he did become a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1905 at Fort Saskatchewan.

Many Americans did file for homestead in Western Canada. His father Ogden, brothers William and Fred also applied for and were granted homesteads. Only Fred would remain in the area.

Back to Grace, ” . . . also later dragging the chain for the railroad as far as Peace River & cooking in a camp there. Then joining the first world war (have a nice photo of him in uniform).”

Cleve’s draft card shows he was inducted in Calgary, Alberta on 18/4/1918. The typed numbers and letters are smudged on the card, making it hard to read his enlistment number. I can find no other information on his time in the military.

But there was a piece of important information on his card – where his father Ogden lived.

Cleve’s mother, Amanda Medora, had died in 1913 in New Mexico. Did Ogden stay in New Mexico?

By looking at Cleve’s bother William’s WWI Draft Registration, we find William was working for a mining company in Missouri. William listed his father Ogden as his nearest living relative, same address of Poplar Bluff that Cleve gave on his card.

Grace goes on, “Also knew he settled in Culver City. Could you or Thelma give us any other details? Birthdate, where he served overseas, his work in Culver City (did he not work on Hollywood sets) and what year he died? Or anything of interest or small stories you may have heard. . . ”

Cleve Clark Quigley was born 13 July 1885 in Walhalla, Pembina, North Dakota. But I can’t find any record of him serving overseas during the Great War, though I don’t rule it out. The 1920 US Census shows that he did move out to Culver City, California as did his father, Ogden and his brother William. Their sister Cassie was still living in Colorado but shortly moved out to Pomona where Grandma visited her in 1922.

According to the 1940 census, Cleve’s father Ogden was living with him. Ogden died 3 Mar 1941.

Cleve’s WWII Draft Registration does show that he worked for M.G.M Studios in Culver City.  Cleve died 5 Apr 1959 in Los Angeles. Cassie had died a few years before. William moved back to Canada where he died in 1980.

I don’t know if Grandma answered Grace’s letter. But by searching out answers to Grace’s questions and filling in the blanks with her information, we get a more complete picture of Cleve Clark Quigley’s life. By matching parts of information on his paper trail we are able to fill in some of the unknowns in other family members. Which of course brings forth more questions. . .



Unpacking Family Memorabilia

Gam's tableYesterday morning I finished going through what loose family photos I had. The photos were put into a labeled envelope, then placed in whichever family box.

The last small lidded box also held loose photos. Most of the Stafford photos had nothing written on the back. Some people I recognized but most I did not. Finally, after sorting what I could, I put the lid back on the box and set it aside, to come back to later.

I lifted the large box labeled ‘family papers’ off the stack of remaining boxes. Cut the tape and opened the box.

I did not remember what I put into the box when I packed it almost three months ago. But it soon became apparent that the papers and such in the box were from the drawers of Mom’s desk.

By the end of the day I had unpacked lots of loose photos though some were in envelopes, a manila envelope of pamphlets from funeral homes, Mom’s high school diploma, her five-year diaries spanning 1938 to 1941 and 1942 to 1947 and another diary that was locked, several large calendars used as daily journals, Great Aunt Ella’s diary for 1933 – 1934 and Gam’s journal spanning 1939 through Oct 1942, a week before her death.

There was a ledger that had numerous names and addresses grouped by states and provinces, other listings that made no sense and a Christmas list from 1948 through 1968 of gifts given and gifts received. Only by looking at the names listed did I figure out it was Aunt Ella’s book. Her name was not on the list but the first entry was her husband Hugh and on down through family and friends.

There were several church cookbooks and a small plastic spiral recipe notebook that Mom had written recipes in and also taped recipe clippings. (There are six stuffed full recipe boxes packed in another box. The recipe boxes were taped shut lest they spill.)

At the last minute I had thrown in a small souvenir bell from Manitoulin Island. McDowalls and family friends had settled on the Canadian island once it was opened for settlement.

Mom’s “What to Wear, How to Make It” high school Home Ec workbook from 1942 was a surprise find in her desk. She did not like to sew.

A black leather covered scrapbook with documented correspondence between Mom and other Arabian horse breeders. Drawings by friends, photos of horses. (There is a folder that Mom put together in ’96 about her favorite horses – this album may be the place to put those papers and photos.)

There was a small packet of folded letters from a family friend in France during WWI and a few letters from a friend in the Pacific during WWII.

At the bottom of the box were: my great grandfather Adam’s father Adam Witzel’s confirmation certificate written in German, great grandfather Adam’s citizenship paper and his marriage certificate to Ette Quigley.

The surprising find was a manila envelope with copies of old photos of the Stafford family and a letter written to my parents in 1994 by Aunt Lois, Dad’s sister-in-law. After detailing what it took to get these copies, she commented, “Sure is too bad Frieda never wrote on the backs of pictures.” I had to laugh, she was so right.

The round wooden table that was also delivered Monday now has new casters on it since the old metal castors were worn and rusty. The table has a label designating the store and manufacturer of the table. Someone had etched 1918 in the label. So the table was probably Pa and Gam’s, then passed onto Grandma McDowall and on to Mom. We put all five leaves in and found the table extends to 8′ and seats 12 comfortably.

The bookcase, which is in a few photos from the cabin in Montana, is upstairs and fulfilling its purpose of holding books. And the utilitarian family trunk is starting to fulfil its purpose of holding family memorabilia. 


Homesteading in Saskatchewan

Grace Foster in her letter to Grandma McDowall wrote “Cleve’s homestead was south of your Grandparents” meaning Ogden and Amanda Quigley.

Quigley homesteadAmong the loose photos was this photo. It had been taken out of an album and the back was damaged. Only “Grandpa Quigley’s homestead house 1905 ne[ . . . ] Sask” was legible.

Grace’s letter gave me the general location of where to look for Ogden’s homestead. It was not just across the Canada/ND border as I had assumed.

Maidstone, Saskatchewan is along Highway 16, almost at the Saskatchewan border with Alberta, far to the NW of Regina.

Saskatchewan homestead files: “To encourage settlement in the west the Dominion Government offered a free homestead of 160 acres for a $10 registration fee. In order to receive the patent for the land the settler had to be a male 21 years of age or a woman who was the sole support of her family. Before being granted a patent the applicant had to be a British subject or a naturalized British subject, had to reside on the homestead for a period of time, usually six months of the year for three years, make improvements to the land by cultivating at least 30 acres of land, and erect a house worth at least $300.”

Homestead research results yielded homestead file numbers, names and land coordinates: part, section, township, range and meridian.

Once I had that information I went to Homesteads direct search I typed in name and legal description of the land. In this case, Ogden Quigley. Clicked search and a page appeared with basically the same information. But at the bottom is a note to proceed by visiting or contacting the Saskatoon office to consult the records.

So at the end of the search I know that Ogden Quigley with his three sons, Cleve, Fred and William, filled for homesteads in Saskatchewan. I know the legal land descriptions and I have a photo of Ogden’s homestead cabin.

Within a few years only one son remained in the area. What happened to Ogden and his other two sons?

Update on ‘Uncle Will”

Last night I retrieved a long ignored three-ring binder from the bottom shelf of a bookcase.

Inside the binder along with numerous copies of censuses and other records for the MacDowall family was a letter dated March 11/80 to Grandma McDowall (Vera Alberta Witzel) from her cousin Grace Foster in Maidstone, Saskatchewan.

Grace wrote, “…Sask. has a big drive going to write up family histories – especially early settlers. Fosters and Quigleys having come so early their names come up in several areas.

“As a family they are slow to respond to this sort of thing. Poor Estelle found that out with her family book. [Loyalists Clarks, Badgleys, and Allied Familes] …This winter(last fall) they got a little from us for a book in the area your Grandparents  homesteaded (remember the sloughy mosquito walk we took?) Then we did a bit for the district north east of that where Fosters first lived.

“…Yesterday a man from the school district Uncle Cleve homesteaded in, was here. He wanted to know if we were related to Cleve Clark Quigley & if we’d do a little write up for their history book. There is a little in Estelle’s book but they have it has mistakes too, such as Uncle Wif Wilfred dead and he’s still living at White Rock B. C. …”

So even though Uncle Will’s legal papers listed him as William John Quigley, the family still referred to him as Wilfred, or Uncle Will. Which begs the question as to why he changed his name in the first place.

Elusive Uncle Will

Uncle Will

On the back of this photo, Grandma McDowall wrote, “Uncle Will died in Aug 1980 at age of 101”.

Who was Uncle Will? We know he was a son of Ogden Quigley and his wife Amanda Medora.

But there is no birth record for William. There is a birth record for his brother John Wilfred, born 28 Sep 1880 in Earnestown, Ontario.

Using Family Search I found a death record for William John Quigley, son of Ogden and Amanda, born 28 Aug 1880 in Napanee, Canada. William was listed as single and died 1 Sep 1980 in White Rock, British Columbia.

The paper trail for William is sparse.

A WWI draft registration of 12 Sep 1918 lists William’s birth date as 28 Aug 1882. He is living in Flat River, St Francois, Missouri and working for the St Joseph Lead Company. His father is Ogden Quigley. William is of medium build, blue eyes and dark hair.

William’s Social Security application in June 1937 lists Ogden and Amanda as his parents.

6 Apr 1942, William John Quigley registered for WWII. Date of birth is given as 28 Aug 1880 in Ontario, Canada. He is living in Stockton, California and employed by A A Young. His hair is now grey.

There is a death notification entered in British Columbia but a search of the Social Security Death Index using his SS# yields nothing. The paper trail has ended.

But what if William John Quigley is also John Wilfred Quigley? There is a birth record for John. The date is close to what William has listed on various documents; 28 Aug/Sep, 1880/1882. John is listed in the 1881 Census of Canada as 8/12 mos. old.

The 1900 U.S. Census lists Wilfred, born Aug 1881, living in Hagerman, Chaves, New Mexico with his parents Ogden and Amanda Quigley as are his brothers Fred and Cleve. William is not listed.

Then Wilfred’s paper trail disappears.

Except on public family trees. Several list John Wilfred Quigley as having married in Iowa, died in Fergus, Montana on 31 Mar 1953. But I am not convinced it is the right John Wilfred/Wilford. The records sited do not match with a John Wilfred born in Canada.

It seems that for whatever reason, John Wilfred Quigley sometime after 1900 became William John Quigley.

I have Grandma McDowall’s Bible. She wrote down the names of her mother’s sisters and brothers: Cassie, Ida, Will, Fred, Cleve. Three brothers but no John is listed.