I’ve written many times about Emil MILLER and Hulda WACH, both immigrated to the US from Germany and settled in Chicago, where they eventually married. I knew from notes in family papers that Hulda married a second time, to John Severing, and they had a daughter Lillian. Based on that information, I found that Hulda and John married in January 1901 in Chicago and they were found living together in McHenry County, Illinois in 1910. John is found in the 1920 and 1930 censuses married to someone else and I therefore concluded that Hulda either died or remarried between 1910 and 1920.
I asked a fellow genealogist to check the death index for McHenry County for Hulda between 1910 and 1920; she found nothing. So earlier this month, I decided to conduct research in the local newspaper in hopes of uncovering what happened to her. I started going week by week, looking at the entire contents of the eight-page (usually) paper; it took five hours to go through one year. During 1910, there were a few mentions of Hulda and her children, mostly noting visits to (or from) Chicago. By the end of August 1910, she was still living and known as “Mrs. John Severing” having visited Chicago along with her daughters Lillian and Ida (“Mrs. Charles Brunner”).
Having just moved to a new city, I contacted the local library on Monday to ask if they did inter-library loans with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, knowing that they have these particular newspapers on microfilm that they loan out. Thankfully, they do, so I went to the library, got my new library card, and requested the films for 1910-1920 (this saves me a two-hour drive, roundtrip and parking costs, so I was pretty excited about that alone!!). When the films come in, I plan to resume my search with 1911.
But here’s the kicker. While looking for something else (because it always happens that way), I noticed that the Illinois Probate Records, 1819-1970 collection on FamilySearch was updated on 29 November. Curious to see what had been added, I followed the link and discovered there were many new counties, one of which….wait for it…was McHenry! So naturally I looked to see what was available. Although it reads “Probate Records v. 4 1844-1985” I learned that it is only an index. I headed over to the surnames beginning with S. They are organized by year, so I started with 1910 and it didn’t take long to find an entry for Hulda Severing in May 1914 (right underneath was a listing for her minor daughter, Lillian).
Unbelievable. First, I can’t believe that I finally found some sort of source that gives me some clue as to when she died, especially since I anticipated continuing the search through newspapers for a span of ten years! Naturally, when I get the films, I will head directly to May 1914 and start there, but in all honestly, I still plan to go through all the years when the family lived there. I found so many interesting nuggets in just one year, I’m sure I will find other interesting things as I search the remaining years.
Second, I’m surprised there is a probate file for her. I plan to call the county ASAP to find out how to obtain a copy of the file and hopefully that will give me more information such as a specific date and place of death.
While I’ve found this little nugget, there is still much more to uncover on this family. I still have no idea what happened to her first husband, Emil. In addition to the local newspaper, I’ve found several other items related to the family of her second husband John in the Rockford newspapers available on GenealogyBank. It was through many searches that I finally learned what became of Hulda and John’s daughter Lillian. The pieces are finally starting to come together and this probate file will be one more piece of the puzzle.
If you haven’t already, be sure to read my previous posts about this family: