Friday, July 20, 2012

I & M Canal Boat conjures up thoughts of an ancestor

Did you ever find yourself so close to where an ancestor lived but couldn't do any research? Brings new meaning to the word "antsy!"

Braving the 99 degree heat, my husband, grandson and I were down in La Salle (Ill.). We were on a day trip to take a mule-pulled boat ride on the I & M Canal. That was our main destination. Going to a county courthouse or historical society was not.

Ah, but we weren't that far from where early records of my great grandfather August Ferdinand Buschick should be. I couldn't bring myself to ask if they would mind... I knew better! During the boat ride, I'm sure my husband knew my mind was more on the past than on the present.

Identified in family album as
August F. Buschick
[This is NOT August / 29 Jun 2017. The real image is on another post.]
Being on that historic canal boat ride close to where my great grandfather had lived got me to thinking about how little I knew about him. 

I found August F. in the 1850 census in Grand Rapids, La Salle Co., Illinois. He was 24, a farmer, b. "Germany"; and was living alone. I don't know when he actually arrived in America, but I did find a promising listing for an August Buschick who arrived 1849 New York, New York and another for an A.E. Buschick same year. I will have to track down these passenger list images to verify. 

I have a digital image of a naturalization card, dated Oct. 1, 1856 from Oswego, Illinois, Kendall Circuit Court for August Ferdinand, country of birth - Hamburg. Names of witnesses Gustav E. Bushick [sic] and Mathias Beaupre. The town of Oswego is about 45 miles northeast of Grand Rapids. Now I have another document to get a digital copy of.

August married Catherine Wylie sometime before Feb. 21, 1852 when daughter Catherine Wilhelmina was born in Ottawa, Illinois. The marriage record is another document that needs to be rustled up. So far I haven't been able to find it online in a preliminary search. They had two more children, Unnamed Baby girl before 1855 and a son Stuart about 1856. Young Catherine and Stuart were "deaf & dumb" according to 1860 census. I suspect the unnamed baby girl died early because she wasn't on the 1860 census.

By 1855 Illinois state census, August and family (2 females 10 yrs & under; 1 female 20-30 yrs old) are in West Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. I suspect the place August and Catherine lived was the Westside of Chicago, because according to the "Early History" page, on present-day West Chicago's website, their village (in 1855) was known as Junction, then in 1873 the Village of Turner, and finally 1896 it was changed to the Village of West Chicago.

I found a Chicago City Directory of 1856 on Distant Cousin website, which has August listed along with his brother Gustav. He was listed with the B. Scoville Co., but there was no address or other information.

TIMELINE (so far):
  • 1850 Grand Rapids, La Salle Co., Illinois
  • 1850-1852 August married (near GR, or possibly Ottawa where their first child was born)
  • 1855 "West" Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois
  • 1856 Oct 1, Oswego, Illinois Naturalization
  • 1856 Chicago City Directory
Why would August get naturalized in Oswego 1856 when he was living in Chicago in 1855? That seems quite a distance to travel in those days, unless he had started the papers there long before he decided to move to Chicago.

August F. wasn't down in the La Salle area for too long I guess. Did he come by water from New York through the Erie Canal, Great Lakes, onto Chicago, then take the I & M Canal to La Salle? Being a farmer, did he own his farm or was he working on someone else's? Are there tax records? Are there marriage records?  Could he have traveled from La Salle back to Chicago on a canal boat similar to the one we were on last Wednesday? It was only an over night trip.

These and many more questions will need to be answered. I can get some of them answered on my next trip to Salt Lake City... or maybe I'll just have to make another trip down to La Salle area.

OF EXTRA NOTE - a little serendipity 
As we disembarked the boat I bumped into a person who I hadn't seen for 50 years! He and I started kindergarten together and we went through 12 more years of school. The last time I saw him was our 1963 high school graduation. Greg was there with his grandchildren and it was good thing we didn't know about each other being on the boat until AFTER the trip. He was having a great time with the little ones and it would have been a shame if all we did was talk about old school days. Besides being drenched from the heat of the day, we had a wonderful surprise.


  1. august married twice, susan fowler was one of the wives they had a son Edwin Luther Buschick who fathered my great grandma Lydia buschick. he was never a fowler and hs no traceable family data. I often wondered if he kept two families at once.

    1. Kristin, please contact me directly through my email address in my profile. We may be able to help one another. There is much information to be had about our Chicago BUSCHICKs...we just need to do a little more digging.

      I know August was never a FOWLER. He married Susan around 1864. My grandfather Edwin Luther is the first child (I know of) to be born to them in 1865.

      Regards and I hope to hear from you soon.