December 22, 2014

Otto Family Had Five in World War II

Otto-Ranslow WWII newspaper

All Came Home

(click on image until it is viewable full-sized)

All of these men are, or were, my husband Jim’s uncles from his mother Mary Jane Otto Wilkerson’s side of the family.  Going by the dates mentioned in the article, it might have been written in 1944. As far as I know, all of these men are now deceased.  The parents, Adolph and Mamie (Boyert) Otto were residing in Clinton, Iowa when the newspaper article was written.

There were eleven children in the family, ten of whom reached adulthood.  A baby, Eugene Otto was born in about 1931 and died the same year.  The ten, in order of birth were: Dorothy (m. Earl Harris), Adolph ( m. Henrietta), Marion ( m. Clifford Ranslow), Alfrieda ( m. Marion Lathrop), Albert ( m. Helen Froslie), Evelyn (never married), Raymond (never married), Marvin ( m. Evelyne Sullivan), Charles ( m. (1) Mirt Maines  (2) Dorothy) and Mary Jane (deceased 1986; ( m. Loren Wilkerson)  [my mother-in-law].

Otto siblings (front): Alfrieda, Marian and Evelyn; (back) Adolph, Ray and Marvin. Photo taken 1986

MacArthur Left But Volckmann Remained

Clinton County Historical Society and Museum

Clinton County IAGenWeb

COG -77th Edition – Disasters

Cape Esperance, US Navy WWII era

COG -77th Edition – Disasters

My father-in-law, Loren Wilkerson, was in the Navy during World War II and near the end of the war he was on the CVE (carrier vessel escort) Cape Esperance as they made their way to Leyte Gulf for the battle that would eventually take place there.

On their way to the eventual battle, the Cape Esperance encountered one of the worst typhoons in naval history.  Named typhoon Cobra, it wreaked havoc and caused many deaths for the US Naval vessels caught in its path. If you are interested in reading more about this storm, I recommend the book Typhoon, The Other Enemy by Robert Calhoun. My husband read the book and sent it to his dad. (I didn’t get to read it before that happened, so I just ordered a copy of the book for our library today.) Even though Robert Calhoun was onboard a different ship, his experiences were essentially the same as Loren’s.

Admiral Nimitiz letter to the Pacific Fleet dated 13 Feb 1945 gives an accounting of the ships involved and the damages they suffered. Not only were ships lost, but the Aircraft Losses from Typhoon Cobra 1944 were extensive. The total of the lives lost was at least 800. At one point, Loren said the ship’s captain wanted to abandon the Cape Esperance, but the men didn’t want to do that, and they fought to save the ship instead.

It’s my goal to document Loren’s history, either in the Navy, or as a civilian, so that his descendants will know stories of his life. On July 24th of 2008 the city of Low Moor, Iowa honored their WWII veterans and my article Low Moor, Iowa Honors WWII Vets is a more extensive recounting of his experience during typhoon Cobra.

MyFamily Confusion With Old And New Sites

MyFamily choices

MyFamily button

Years ago, when I first subscribed to Ancestry, they had free MyFamily sites. I had two of them in those days: Yates and Allied Families, and Wilkerson and Allied Families.  I happily added tons of census records, photos, and any other sundry that pertained to our history.

Then, MyFamily decided this was a pretty lucrative deal and they began charging for what initially had been free.  Their sweetened offer now though was more storage space, so I signed on at $29.95 a year for both sites. Generous family members chipped in, and we continued on for a few more years.  This seemed like a good way to create a ‘repository’ of sorts for each group’s records. More than once my cousins and Jim’s were able to recover pictures when their computer’s failed them.

Skip ahead to present day. I had let my subscriptions lapse when I knew that our income would be tighter after Jim retired. The sites were still there, but ‘dormant’. Recently, since I had some new information and contacts, I created a new site named Old Bordeaux Washington in tribute to the little logging town in which my parents had grown up.  As a paid site, it has its own site address, making it much easier to find.

Admittedly, I’m not the sharpest knife in the bulb drawer, but it is is almost infuriatingly complicated to have TWO MyFamily ‘generation’ choices:

MyFamily choices

Even if I have paid and free sites, and old and new ones, I would just like to be able to universally login to them all! Is that too much to ask? No, but in order to do so I have to migrate my old sites to the new format. Granted, not impossible, but definitely tiresome. Oh, and I have to admit, I am just a teensy bit scared of doing it because I’m afraid if I try it I’ll lose all the info on the old sites.  Whoever said doing genealogy was easy?

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Genealogy Tracking: Wilkersons, Whitmores and L. Frank Boyd

Part 1

In 1994, when I first began doing our family genealogies, my father-in-law sent us some copies of old pictures he had of his Bean and Whitmore families. He knew more about the Beans than he did John Whitmore, but we were anxious to find out more about all of them. And so began the search.

During one of our visits to Iowa in 1995 I had an opportunity to talk to my father-in-law about his family history. He being the oldest of ten children, and having a memory like a steel trap, I knew that he would be the one to ask about what he knew of the earlier generations of Jim’s Wilkerson family. Loren did tell us that his father Wesley had been born in Des Moines County, Iowa, near Yarmouth, but he also said that there were no more Wilkersons living in southern Iowa “as far as he knew”. That always sends up a red flag to a family genealogist, and so during that visit we made a point of going to Des Moines County to see if we could find out what happened to the family.

We were looking for Wilkersons, Whit(t)mores, DeSpains and any other connecting family names when we pulled into the parking lot at Shiner Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Pleasant Grove in order to walk the cemetery. When we drove up we noticed an older pickup truck parked near the church, but we were intent on finding headstones and so we got out in the misty rain with paper, pencil and camera in hands and began our search. Almost right away we were finding all the names we were looking for, but not quite the specific older family members. After scribbling down as much information as we could glean from the headstones, we decided to ask inside the church about where the church records were kept.

This is rural Iowa where most of the people are warm, welcoming and friendly, as we were about to find out. After opening the door at the side of the church and calling “hello” a couple times, a very nice lady came to the bottom of the basement stairs to answer our questions. She had been painting one of the restrooms, but stopped right then and there and let us tell our “story” and the names we were looking for. After a bit, she got on the phone and called the church sexton, Mr. Stucker. His wife said he was “out in the fields” but that she would give him the message when he came in for lunch.

It seemed like just minutes later that another older pickup truck rolled into the gravel parking lot, and down the stairs came Mr. Stucker, farm boots and all, with his sexton’s book in hand. After introducing ourselves again and explaining our quest, he very willingly and generously handed his book to me, and I hurriedly copied down names, dates and grave locations while Mr. Stucker and my husband talked. As Jim and Mr. Stucker talked, Mr. Stucker said that his best friend was “Toad” Wilkerson and lived next door to him. (“Next door” means the next 80 acres or so close by!) He encouraged us to stop by and see “Toad” on our way home.

John Whitmore

At one point, when Jim said that we were looking for John Whitmore, Mr. Stucker perked right up and told us that John Whitmore was a Medal of Honor recipient in the Civil War, and that there was a Medal of Honor Society looking for living family members! We had no idea of John Whitmore’s Civil War service at that time. (to be continued)

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