Royalty in Residence

Fly the royal standard! The queen is residence, at least for now.

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Unfortunately, this photo isn’t great because it doesn’t  show how much bigger she is than the worker bees.

Last time we checked California Girls, we didn’t see this big girl, so we were anxious to spot her today. Even when we see plenty of larvae, both small and large, and capped brood, we always feel better when we see the queen.IMG_3591 This is especially true when we have to do a hive check when the sun isn’t at it’s highest making it difficult to ascertain if there are eggs or not.

They’ve also been busy building comb. IMG_3344
I love new comb! Isn’t it beautiful? And if you look closely, you can see some eggs. IMG_3344
This isn’t a good laying pattern. A strong queen would have laid eggs in all those cells, not in such a scattershot pattern, which makes our plan to requeen this hive look like a better and better idea.

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This is frame, from the same hive, looks better, but compare it to the pictures of the frames below taken from Buzzers’ Roost a few weeks ago.IMG_6548IMG_4852What Buzzers seem to excel at is bringing in nectar and pollen, especially nectar, as you see below. Note the freshly capped honey in the corners. So pretty. IMG_3703IMG_4572
Also, remember this from our last check? Bees
We experimented by rubberbanding this comb into an empty frame, hoping they would continue building it. IMG_7287
See the original comb at the right? They’ve attached it to the frame and continued to build! IMG_3656
We were even able to take the bands off.

Watch this space to see how they progress. 🙂

And now … for something completely unrelated: My tomato, pepper, and basil plants came in the mail yesterday. I order online because it’s difficult to get organically grown plants at our local nurseries (although I usually get a few organic herb plants from our CSA each spring). IMG_7675
The Engineer made me an enclosure to keep the red squirrels and chipmunks from digging them up.

I’m telling you this because I think it’s funny that my plants look like they’re in plant jail.

Whatever it takes to have home grown tomatoes and peppers this summer!

 

Decluttering Kym: A Continuing Saga

The holiday weekend seemed the perfect time to do several things:

  1. Go for a bike ride.
  2. Finally see Darling Daughter (for the first time in 3-1/2 months).
  3. Wash my car.
  4. Get rid of some clothes.

Here in Ohio, we’ve gone from winter to summer once again, do not pass go, do not collect $200, no spring for you.

To illustrate my point: On May 9, we had snow, and not just a few flakes either. Oh, no, this was stick to the ground snow, bend over branches because it’s so wet and heavy snow, kill the buds on my rhododendron snow.

Today, a little over two weeks later, it’s nearly 90F.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m delighted to put away my sweaters. It’s just, sometimes it would be nice to work up to the heat.

But, enough complaining. My bout with cancer taught me to be grateful for each day I get. “Happy to be here, happy to have hair,” continues to be my motto, as well as a reminder to keep things in perspective.

And yesterday, I was happy to see Darling Daughter and her partner. He’s just bought a house, which means they’re still picking their way around the boxes. Never one to miss the party, we were bringing more — including the china cabinet I mentioned in my previous post.

It felt odd, and somewhat dissatisfying, to have to sit six feet away and wear a mask, but I work with the public, and The Engineer lives with me, so we’ve been cautious about possibly exposing anyone to coronavirus. And Darling Daughter and partner are just careful, which is good, I think.

At least we got to see them and explore the house before heading home to top the day off with a bike ride on a cool, tree-lined path. It was delightful.

That left today for the car and closet.

By the time I got back from visiting Mom and our late breakfast, it was noon. The Engineer told me it might be a good idea to wait on doing the car.

Did I mention it’s a sunny, 89F today?
And we have mineral-rich well water.
Also, the car is black.

Suffice to my pigheadedness about doing the task on my schedule made the job much harder.

You probably know this, but don’t wash a black car at noon on a hot day. The whole surface looked like the bad example from a movie on how not to wash a car. It took a lot of muscle to get it presentable.

After that, the closet was easy, taking less than 30 minutes to fill three boxes.

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Hangers Emptied by My Purge Today

I was disappointed not to fill all five boxes I’d brought home, but I did empty a  lot of hangers! You can’t tell, but I’m blushing to realize I had enough clothes to empty fifty hangers without much effort.

I’ll use the other boxes for the book clean-out.

Addendum: I did take a moment to remember the purpose of Memorial Day and be grateful for those who have fought for our country. This day always make me think of my dad. He was in the Navy, 1944-46, enlisting at the age of seventeen.

Dad died in 2002 and is buried in Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery.

ByrdMerlinE_Navybuddy WWII

Leonard Bujak (possibly Byak) and Dad — just a couple of sailors during World War II

I share Leonard’s name in the hope one of his descendents might come across this blog and see this picture of him, just in case they don’t have a copy.

 

 

 

 

Our New Neighbor Is Walking Around with a Tank on His Back Spraying His Yard

So, after four days of dead bees, we see this.

They know we keep bees. We have two, “No spray! Honey bees!” signs out front.

And I welcomed them to the neighborhood with a jar of honey.

Why do this in an area that is predominantly natural?
And why in the middle of the day, which is the worst time?

Seriously? What’s a dandelion, but a flower?

So frustrated and disheartened.

All we can hope is our girls don’t go over there.

Also, we can hope that all our dandelion fluff blows in that direction, making his battle such a losing one that he finally gives up.

What Honey Bees Do When Left to Their Own Devices

We checked both hives yesterday.

Buzzers’ Roost (II) seemed to be thriving despite the pesticide deaths. We saw eggs, larvae, capped brood, lots of nectar and pollen, and the queen.

In fact, they seemed to be getting crowded, so we added a deep box full of frames, plus an empty super for feed jars. We don’t use outside feeders because raccoons make a nightly circuit of our yard and would be delighted to gorge on a jar of sweet liquid.

The bees have also been making queen cups — lots of them. Though they were only cups and none had any eggs in as far as we could see, this is something to keep an eye on in case they’re getting ready to swarm.

This morning we had even better news:  There were very few dead bees outside their hive.

Perhaps the worst is over.

California Girls are also doing well, though there was fewer of everything — fewer eggs, fewer larvae, fewer capped brood cups. We also didn’t see the queen, always a little concerning especially this early in the year when the hives aren’t as full, and she should be easy to spot.

This isn’t as worrying as it would be at another time of the year because we plan to try to force them to requeen in the next few weeks anyway so we’ll have a locally reared queen for the winter.

We’ll do this by splitting the hive — taking the “old” queen and a few frames for brood and food and putting them in a nuc. If the full hive doesn’t successfully requeen, we can put them back together. No harm, no foul. And if worse comes to worse, and the queen is already gone, queens are generally available for purchase this time of year.

Still, they’ve been busy, as you can see below.

Bees

This lovely piece of fresh comb was brought to you by California Girls. 

Last time we checked their hive, we thought they needed more room, but were reluctant to add a full deep box. We compromised by adding a deep box half full of frames and using the other half for a big jar of sugar water.

I’m not sure we’ll do that again since this was the result. We should know if you give bees space, they feel compelled to fill it.

And yet, it’s gorgeous, isn’t it? Because it was evenly made, we were able to remove the comb from the inner cover and insert it into a foundationless frame, affixed with rubber bands.

This is an experiment which could go horribly wrong because although bees fill empty spaces, they do so by their own logic.

They might build out the comb, attach it to the frame beside it or create something we’d never dream of.

What we hope is they’ll use this comb and the attached frame as a base for a comb made wholly of wax.

Will we be kicking or congratulating ourselves next week?

Check back to find out!

 

 

 

 

Keeping Me Honest

Hi all. This post is more about holding myself accountable for a project I’m calling “Declutter Kym.”

Here’s a little background:

Last year, we moved my mom into a long-term care facility. (Before you ask, she’s fine. There have been no corona cases at her place, at least for now. Feel free to send prayers, good karma, whatever, that it stays that way.)

Anyway, Mom moved straight from the hospital to her new place, which left me the job of sorting, winnowing down, and cleaning out her belongings. She lived in a one-bedroom, one-floor apartment with four rooms including the bathroom.

It was not a large place.

Still, it’s amazing how much you can fit into a little place when you’re motivated, isn’t it?

Over the course of a month, I dug through Mom’s belongings, moving what she could use, and trying to make sure she had what she valued, while finding homes for the rest.

Fortunately, I had help. Darling Daughter gave up two of her weekends off to work with me, and The Engineer provided extra muscle and his van for the thrift shop donation and recycle bin trips, of which there were many. I also had two good friends help me sort out the last, for which I will be eternally grateful.

I wrote about some of this in an earlier post.

That experience caused me to look at my many, oh, so many, possessions with a new eye, and vow to pare them down to a more manageable amount.

You see, our house is too big for us and has been for years. We bought it because Mom was going to live with us (failed experiment), Darling Daughter was still in residence, and we had visitors from out of town fairly frequently.

Most of that is no longer true. It’s just The Engineer and I, and in a few years, we’ll move into a smaller place, which is another good reason to get rid of things.

Despite this, I ended up bringing “stuff” from Mom’s house to ours. I think she hoped we would sort of enfold all her extra items into our household, but even I drew the line at that.

Mostly, I took kitchen utensils and other useful items, but there were some sentimental objects too, and a huge collection of photos.

The albums took many evenings to sort through, and I’ve finally begun the process of scanning those relevant to my genealogy and loosely organizing the whole collection in archival envelopes and boxes.

Maybe someday I’ll sort through my own pictures and do the same.

First, I have other things I need to part with.

I began with the low-hanging fruit, books and clothing, keeping what I use or think I might use, and donating the rest.

In the ensuing months, however, I’ve learned this paring down process will need repeating  because my clothing and books again seem out of control.

Then there were the china cabinets.

I had a small corner cupboard, plus another small one Mom left after her brief residence with us. When we moved her, we brought home another, a larger, “primitive” one someone had made for her apartment.

I’d always liked that cupboard, homemade as it was, but face it, no one needs three china cabinets.

Our kitchen has enough cupboard space that I probably don’t need one. Yet I’d managed to fill two with garage sale treasures — Willow Ware, Lusterware, and bits of English china I’d collected through the years — and now brought a third one home.

Something had to be done before I managed to fill that one up too.  After a few weeks of trying to give it to friends, we donated Mom’s little one to a thrift store.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when Darling Daughter was moving with into a house with her partner.

“Do you still have that little china cupboard that was Grandma’s?” she asked.

No.

I looked again at the little corner cupboard (isn’t corner-shaped furniture clever?) and all the stuff inside.

I’d spent years and good money collecting those things, and had been putting off cleaning it out because that would be like admitting I’d wasted that money.

On the other hand, would anyone really buy any of it? Even if someone did, was the money I might recoup worth the time and effort it took to sell it?

Text to Darling Daughter: Do you want little corner china cabinet?

Response: Sure.

Response from Mom when I told her what was happening: What happened to my little cabinet?

See what I mean about enfolding her items into our household? In her mind, everything she owned is now living at my house.

Answer: Donated to Hospice shop.

Mom: I paid $150 for that!

Then she said she knew we couldn’t keep everything and it was okay.

Sunday, I cleaned out the collectibles, filling six empty kombucha boxes to take to the hospice shop. Working at a grocery store has proven very handy during the last year, if only as a continuing source of empty boxes :-).

This motivated me so much that today I sorted through my purses. I won’t tell you how many I’m getting rid of because it’s embarassing to own that many, but I’ll tell you I’m keeping about eight or ten, which should give you an idea.

In my defense, I bought most from charity shops and have used them all, but I no longer live a life that requires endless changes of purses. In fact, I’ve been using the same two for the last six months.

I know I still have too many.

It’s a process, remember?

And now, I need to look at those books again. Darling Daughter inherited a bookshelf from Mom, which we’ve been storing. Some of my books have accidentally migrated onto it, and I need to clear them out so we can take it to her.

 

 

Stating the Obvious: Pesticides Poison Bees

Here’s a healthy bee, foraging on the dandelions in our yard this weekend.IMG_8708
Here are some of the bees we found piled outside the Buzzers’ Roost (II) entrance this morning. IMG_8528IMG_1136
Notice anything?

We’ll start with the obvious: They’re dead.
Also, they don’t look too good because they’ve been out in the rain.

But, look again.

IMG_8528_editIMG_1136Edit
Nearly every bee has its tongue (proboscis) out, which tells us they almost certainly died of pesticide poisoning. The second indicator is the many dead bees suddenly appearing outside the hive.

Since our hives are directly in sight of the house, we know the dead bees appeared overnight, littering the ground Sunday morning, with more on Monday, and many left on their front porch when we got up today.

Another symptom, which indicates the bees died after foraging on treated plants, rather than drift from someone’s “treatment,” is the fact that the other hive seems fine.

Since we live in a semi-rural area, surrounded by a few farms and many developments full of McMansions, the poison could have been sprayed on a crop or someone’s ornamentals.

It doesn’t matter. The bees are dead either way.

The hive still has a fair amount of bees, and they continue foraging, which is a good sign. They may recover from this.

And yet, this is a young hive, a nucleus hive, which means it’s small, just starting to grow into a full-sized colony. This poisoning will weaken the hive, making it more difficult to fight off the everyday bee pests — the hive beetles, the Yellow Jackets, and the dreaded Varroa Destructor, as well as any infections the bees may encounter. It’s equally likely the hive may not recover.

I’m disheartened and angry because I believe (completely without reason) someone saw a beetle or aphid on one of their plants, and couldn’t be bothered to learn how to treat those plants without killing my bees. Instead, they blasted their yard with insecticide, killing every insect around.

Yes, I’m being irrational, but how unfair that our hardworking bees – who do much to help pollinate everyone’s food source – are dying simply because they landed on a flower.

They’re bees. That’s what bees do. They fly from flower to flower, gathering nectar and pollen.

And now they’re dead.

Sigh.

Like most people, I get annoyed when beetles munch on my plants. And a true creature lover might argue even beetles deserve to live.

I am not that person, and I don’t expect you to be either.

But there are alternatives — many alternatives — to using pesticides.

Here are links to a few lists:

How to Keep Your Yard and Garden Pest-Free Without Harsh Chemicals” from Lifehacker

8 Natural and Homemade Insecticides: Save Your Garden Without Killing the Earth” (or the bees) from Treehugger

Pesticide Free Gardening” from Modern Agriculture

Probably the best source is Xerces Society: http://www.xerces.org/sites/default/files/2019-09/19-005_01_Organic-Approved-Pesticides_Overview-FS_web.pdf

It can be done.

And now, I’d like to ask you to give special attention to two particular types of chemicals commonly used in home gardens and yards;  neonicotinoids and glyphosate (commonly marketed as “Roundup”).

First up are the neonicotinoids, initially praised for their “low toxicity” to beneficial insects including bees. Alas, this has not proven to be true.  Although neonics don’t kill hives outright, they have been correlated to a shorter lifespan for bees, and higher incidence of queen loss. 

This is Buzzers’ Roost’s queen.  We’d like to keep her. 

The pesticide is also systemic, which means it leaches into all parts of the plant, not dispersing after the plant blooms.

For a more detailed report, read the Xerces report.

Neonicotinioids have been completely banned in the European Union since 2018.

The U.S., on the other hand, only recently banned twelve of them, leaving 47 still in use.

What you can do: Ask your gardening center which plants are not treated with neonicotinoids, and plan your plantings accordingly.

Next, we have glyphosate (commonly marketed as Roundup). Glyphosate-based products have been marketed as safe, but there have been several lawsuits settled in favor of plaintiffs who said using the chemical caused their Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. And there are more in the pipeline.

Studies are also now showing the chemical also affects bees’ health, specifically their gut biome. It also appears to affect their ability to find their way back to the hive.

Glyphosate is also finding its way into local streams and our water supply.

Is the death of a few dandelions worth this kind of damage?

So, when you pull the trigger on that insecticide bottle, remember you may also be pulling a trigger on your food and water supply, your health … and our bees.

 

 

1918 Photo of Sarah Melinda Kreighbaum Sholley and Frederick Sholley Family

SholleyFamilySimonFred

Sarah Melinda Kreighbaum Sholley and Frederick Sholley are the left two, top row, if you were curious after reading the last post. Seven of their children are pictured, including my grandmother (middle row, left), plus three of Dora’s children. Notation on back says “About 1918.” SholleySimonF_SarahMKreighbaumWedCert1890
Scan of Fred Sholley and Sarah M. Kreighbaum marriage certificate (which I somehow ended up with).

 

 

My Great Grandpa Was a Love Rat, and Great Grandma Was a Loose Woman

I supposed you might qualify that statement by saying Great Grandpa Fred Sholley and his wife, Sarah Melinda, redeemed themselves later in life. After all, they were married for forty years and raised nine children together.

To be fair, Fred’s waywardness may have been due to having lost his father at age nine.  And Sarah Melinda was an only child (quite unusual at that time, at least compared to the rest of her family), so she was probably a little spoilt.

I say you might qualify the statement, but I won’t. After finding out what I’ve recently learned, I’d have not let either near my Darling Daughter.

After piecing together their story, I find it difficult to accept their actions.

Read on, and perhaps you will understand.

From previous research, I knew the basics about “Fred” (Either Simon Frederick or Frederick Simon, depending on the record) Sholley and his wife Sarah Melinda Kreighbaum. This included the crucial BMD (Birth, Marriage, Death) details for both, and for their nine children.

Somehow I missed the fact their first child, Dora Estelle, was born more than two years before they married. In my defense, I can only say birth dates and years can vary by document, so until I find the actual birth record, I’m never confident I have it correct.

Dora’s record had eluded me (you’ll soon see why), so I figured she was, ahem, “premature,” as first children often are.

Pregnancy at the altar was, if not common, certainly not unheard of, and as I said, Great Grandpa and Grandma went on to have eight more children, so no big deal, right?

It was a legal notice in the archives of Newspapers.com (currently available for free with my library card) that put a different spin on things.

I love using newspaper archives because you never know what you’ll learn (about “monster porkers” or bushels of barley, for example). Or information about Fred’s brother Oliver’s probate, which pinpointed his date of death after I’d been unable to locate a death certificate.

But stumbling across this, from the 18 March 1890 issue of “The Akron Beacon Journal,” was quite a shocker.

Martha Sholley Seeking Separation
Martha J. Sholley vs. Frederick S. Sholley.
Plaintiff says they were married Jan. 11, 1887, and one child has been born of said marriage. She charges defendent with gross neglect of duty toward her and her child, that he has been guilty of adultery at various times, the exact date the plaintiff is unable to specify, with one Malinda Kreighbaum.Wherefore she prays that she may be divorced, that she may be restored to her maiden name of Martha J.Winkelman, that she be granted the custody of the child, and reasonable alimony. Kohler and Musser for the plaintiff.

Well! I nearly fell off the sofa. Not only had Great Grandpa Sholley been married before, he had a child I previously knew nothing about, and was running around with Great Grandma before his first wife divorced him.

A few days later, I finally had time to dig into the full story, which doesn’t paint Fred and Melinda in a very pretty light.

Here’s a quick overview:
Fred (23) married Martha Jane “Jennie” Winkelman (16) on 11 January 1887. This age difference would perhaps be shocking today, but back then, not so much, although her parents did have to sign for her, lying to say she was 17.

Five months later, Jennie gives birth to Anna May Sholley, making it quite possible Fred took up with Jennie when she was just 15.

Do the math: Jennie was born 12 August 1870. If you calculate 38-42 weeks for an average pregnancy, she was pregnant by sometime in September 1886. Either she was either incredibly fertile/unlucky, or they’d been at it for a while.

I swear I don’t do this type of calculation for every birth in my family tree. If I had, I would have notice Dora Estelle was two years “early.”

This case, however, warranted some extra scrutiny.

And although I didn’t find the birth certificate for either Dora or Anna, I did find the handwritten register from 1887 and 1888.

It listed Anna’s birth on 7 May 1887, with “Fredk Sholly” and “Jennie” Winkelman as her parents. However, there is another listing for “Sholly, child of Frederick” written in the same hand for 1 March 1888, parents listed as “Fredk” Sholly and Melinda Kreighbaum, with the notation “Illegitimate.” That child was Dora Estelle, born when Fred was 24, and Melinda was 16.

Below are the two pages of the register, with small dots beside the relevant records.

I find myself wondering what the registration clerk thought as s/he wrote these records.

And what were Sarah Melinda’s parents (John H. Kreighbaum and Martha  Keplar Kreighbaum) thinking to let her fool with a married man?

Even more shocking (to me, at least) was the fact the relationship continued, culminating in a hasty marriage on 17 May 1890, and the birth of their second child just two months later.

Jennie also remarried, in 1891 (and I say “Good for her!”).

The next record for Anna has her in Jennie’s parents’ Green Township household in 1900, right next door to John H. and Martha Keplar (Melinda’s parents).

This seemingly ironic quirk of fate prompted me to look at earlier censuses, where I discovered Melinda and Jennie grew up next door to each other, making Fred and Melinda’s actions seem even more cruel.

How mortifying it must have been for Martha Jane “Jennie” Winkelman Sholley to have her face rubbed in her husband’s infidelity by a girl she knew as a child!

KreighbaumWinkelman1880

1880 census showing Kreighbaum and Winkelman households including  Martha “Jennie” Winkelman and Sarah Melinda Kreighbaum

Anna married in 1906, and she and her husband (Charles E. Strong) moved to California sometime in the 20s. She died of cancer at age 57 in 1944.

Sarah Melinda was also 57 when she died in 1930, with Fred following nine years later at age 75.

Jennie followed Anna to California and outlived them all, dying there in 1958 at age 87.

Perhaps it’s wrong to judge my ancestors so harshly. There was no such thing as a “no fault” dissolution of marriage back then: Someone always had to be found “at fault.”

But, Frederick’s actions seem irresponsible and greedy, as well as unkind, while Sarah Melinda seems unnecessarily cruel to take up with her neighbor’s husband, even if she and Jennie weren’t friends.

And yet, I’m glad I found this information because it rounds out my understanding of my grandmother. Perhaps her eagerness to get her children out of the house and married off quite young had something to do with her parents.

I must say I’d have learned the opposite lesson if this were my parent’s history, and encouraged my own children to take their time settling down in the hope of making better choices.

It’s possible Grandma never even knew her half-sister or about the tumultuous early years of her parents’ relationship.

I doubt anyone is still alive who can tell us.

Timeline
17 December 1863 – (Simon) Frederick Sholl(e)y born
12 August 1870 – Martha Jane “Jennie” Winkelman born
1880 census – Jennie and Sarah Melinda live next door to each other
13 March 1872 – Sarah Melinda Kreighbaum born
11 January 1887 – Simon Frederick (23) and Martha Jane (16) marry — signed for by parents, she’s underage, says 17, but she’s only 16
7 May 1887 – Anna May Sholly born (Martha Jane still only 16 — 5 month baby, so MJ pregnant at marriage. She is listed as #289 in the handwritten birth register. Parents listed as Fredk Sholly and Jennie Winkelman.
1 March 1888 – In same birth register, four lines above Anna May at #285 is listed “Sholly, Child of Fredk.” Parents listed as Fredk Sholly and Melinda Kreighbaum with the notation “Illegitimate.” Sarah Melinda is 16. Simon Frederick is 24. This is Dora Estelle.
18 March 1890 – Article in “The Akron Beacon Journal”
Martha Sholley Seeking Separation
Martha J. Sholley vs. Frederick S. Sholley.
Plaintiff says they were married Jan. 11, 1887, and one child has been born of said marriage. She charges defendent with gross neglect of duty toward her and her child, that he has been guilty of adultery at various times, the exact date the plaintiff is unable to specify, with one Malinda Kreighbaum.Wherefore she prays that she may be divorced, that she may be restored to her maiden name of Martha J.Winkelman, that she be granted the custody of the child, and reasonable alimony. Kohler and Musser for the plaintiff.

17 May 1890 – (Simon) Frederick and Sarah Melinda wed. He’s 26. She’s 18, and at least 7 mos pregnant with their second child. They go on to have seven more children.
16 July 1890 – John Oliver Sholley born
2 March 1891 – Martha Jane “Jennie” Winkelman remarries.
3 October 1906 – Anna May marries Charles E. Strong in Summit County, Ohio. Sometime between 1920 and 1930, they eventually move to California. Martha Jane “Jennie” follows by 1940.
29 January 1930 – Sarah Melinda dies at age 57.
24 March 1939 – (Simon) Frederick dies, aged 75.
2 September 1944 – Anna May dies of cancer at age 57.
21 March 1958 – Martha Jane “Jennie” dies, aged 87.

 

A Story Old as Time

It’s a common tale, one I’m sure you’ve heard before.

A young woman marries and quickly discovers her new husband is a drunken, abusive lout and not the loving partner she believed him to be.

They have children. Perhaps the woman finds hope in the idea the additional responsibilities will settle him, but instead, the abuse worsens. At times, things get so bad she must seek shelter for herself and her three small children with family and friends.

The years pass until one night her husband becomes violent again, this time over a minor remark.

Once more, she flees with her children.

A fight ensues, a gun appears, and the story ends, as such tales often do, in death.

Yes, the story is common, and old as the hills, but this time, it’s the narrative of my 3x great grandfather’s brother (my 4x great uncle?), Andrew Keplar and his daughter, whom he died defending in 1871.

I stumbled across the incident in History of Summit County, With an Outline Sketch of Ohio (ed., William Henry Perrin, 1881) while researching John A. Keplar (the 3x great grandfather).

History of Summit County, With an Outline Sketch of Ohiop598The book lists John’s siblings and where they ended up (boldface mine).

“Catharine, married Henry Warner; John, formerly of Green; Jacob, now a resident of Coventry ; Andrew, shot on August 16, 1871, by his son-in-law; Daniel, moved to De Kalb County, Ind.; George, formerly of Coventry, now deceased; Henry, died at eighteen ; Samuel, died in Illinois, and Lena, died after marrying Henry Cook.”

Curious, I continued researching the family and stumbled on the whole sorry story in Fifty Years and Over of Akron and Summit County [O] (page 804-807) by Samuel Alanson Lane (published 1892, with the author’s name listed on the cover as “Ex-sheriff Samuel A. Lane”).

More research proved ex-sheriff Lane’s account wasn’t 100% accurate. Sarah Jane Keplar married Godfrey Semler in 1862, not 1852, making her 19 at the time of the marriage and about 26 when her father was killed. Also, Godfrey was a grocer in the 1870 census, not a hotel keeper (although that could have changed by 1871, when the death occurred).

Ancestry subscribers have shared enough scans of news articles to show that Lane is correct on most details, however.

Andrew Keplar was killed in an altercation with his son-in-law, a known drunkard and abuser.

Semler, who was also injured, was convicted to five years hard labor for manslaughter, despite claiming his mother-in-law pulled the trigger. The governor pardoned him after two years, four months, and eight days after Sarah Jane and her mother rethought their testimony, concluding the shooting was probably an accident.

By that time, Lane says, Sarah had divorced Semler, returned to the use of her maiden name and was granted custody of the three children. A few years later she remarried.

Semler’s fate was somewhat different, and here I feel compelled to quote Lane verbatim: “And as to Semler, himself, instead of profiting by his bitter experience, and reforming his habits, while not regarded as especially vicious, the opinion entertained of him by those who know him best may be summed up in the single but expressive word— ‘worthless.'”

This summation is backed up by a newspaper clipping from 1879 about a drover named George Weary who was “relieved of about $250 in an East Liberty tavern while in the company of a few friends (?).” The money was taken while he slept at the bar.  The clipping continues, “He acknowledged that he as well as his companions did get a little “how-come-you-so” (as he expressed it), which fully explains all that took place in connection with the loss.” 

One of Weary’s “friends(?)” was Semler, who apparently bought a watch after the theft, flashing more money than his circumstances would merit. He claimed the money came from an employer having recently paid him, but the amount paid by the employer proved to be a small sum, which “knocked Semler’s story into a cocked-hat.”

Although I find the outdated wording amusing, it cannot take away the tragedy of this event.

Once again, my genealogical research has reminded me that life has always had its hardships, and the best we can do is take one day at a time, dealing with whatever comes our way and being glad when times are good.