Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Norris Family Plot at Mount Greenwood, Chicago

Last week I posted a story about William D. ROSSER in the Spanish American War. The following day, Bob and I went to a couple cemeteries on the southwest side of Chicago. Our trip was unplanned because if you remember my mentioning if the weatherman knew ahead of time I was planning a cemetery adventure, we would have inclement weather for the visit. Spur of the moment decisions worked! I tricked him again and the day was beautiful! 

About an hour's drive, our first stop was Mount Greenwood which is on 111th Street just east of Kedzie (Norris & Rosser -- my mom's side of family) and the other is Fairmount-Willow Hills Memorial Park in Willow Springs at 9100 Archer Ave. (Van Plew -- my dad's side of family).

I love visiting cemeteries especially the old ones. They don't put up monuments and beautiful headstones now like they did back when. Mount Greenwood Cemetery is considered one of the oldest cemeteries in Chicago "designed to be places of peaceful recreation as well as burial." according to the Mount Greenwood Cemetery Tour book published by the Ridge Historical Society and Mount Greenwood Cemetery. It is a peaceful setting with many tall trees on small, rolling hills. There are some famous Chicagoans buried in there, but this post isn't about them. Click on the link above for a short tour of the headstones and monuments in this cemetery.

Mount Greenwood is where Samuel (Sr.) and my half-great aunt Catherine (Katie) Wilhelmine (Buschick) NORRIS are buried along with their daughter Elizabeth and her husband William D. Rosser. I knew they were buried in this cemetery, but never visited to take pictures even though the cemetery is less than an hour away. I was hoping (and surprised) to be informed by the office clerk of more family members also in this eight-grave plot. She gave us the cemetery map, marked with the location of the family plot; we set out to find it.

There are pictures of William D. and Elizabeth on the previous post (link at this post's beginning). I wish I had more Norris/Rosser family pictures, but no more I have are identified...yet. 
I don't know about you... I do not like flat-to-the-ground headstones! We found the section okay. We parked the car in the shade and started to walk the area looking for the headstones. It took few passes before we spotted them even though we were both walking the area marked with an X on the map, and as you can see in the headstone pictures I have taken, the grass and dirt has started to cover the stones. We were in our new car which was equipped with everything but a trowel and brush for cleaning the stones. We did our best with our hands and shoes to uncover and clean them. The office assured me they would raise the stones and clean them off. I will be back next time we are down in that area just to make sure.

NORRIS AND ROSSER PLOT - Section 31, Lot 451
 Bob had to pull the branches back -- one side at a time -- just so I could get a picture of each name. In Photoshop, I combined the two sides' images to get the one above. I enhanced the names, but they are still hard to read.
You can see how we missed the family plot. The main headstone is shrouded by evergreens. The eight flat headstones in front are sinking...we did our best to pull the grass away and to scrape some of the dirt off just to see the dates or names.

Samuel Norris Sr. and Catherine Norris are buried side-by-side middle of row just in front of the family stone. To the right is their son Samuel Jr. To the left is son-in-law Ferdinand Pedersen and inline with him in next row is his wife Grace, daughter of Samuel and Catherine. To the right of Grace is William D. Rosser and then Elizabeth his wife. Their son Roger is the last to the right. According to the cemetery office, a Carol Booth's ashes are buried in Grace's grave space also. I am sure Carol would be Grace and Ferdinand's daughter or possibly a granddaughter, but not having any information on her, I can only speculate.

Samuel Norris Sr. 1852-1923

Catherine Norris 1852-1926

Elizabeth Norris Rosser 1881-1960 (Eastern Star emblem)

William D. Rosser 1876-1931 (Masonic emblem).

I asked the clerk to check for any other people with the Norris or Rosser name. Here are the surprises. I have to limit myself to how deep into collateral families I want to go, but my practice is - if information comes to me, I take it. Here are the surprises:

Samuel Norris Jr. 1892-1916 (Masonic emblem)

Ferdinand Pederson 1895-1969 (not sure of the type emblem)

Grace Rosser Pedersen 1902-1963 (can't make out if any emblem)

Roger N[orris] Rosser 1923-1926 (no emblem)
All of these can be found on Find A Grave. These are the ones I could identify as part of my family. There were a few other Norris names, but I couldn't immediately recognize they being part of the family. Besides, I didn't want to get that far off my line; I need to stay focussed on my families.

The other cemetery we visited the same day was quite a ways west. Fairmount-Willow Hills Memorial Park cemetery is tucked into a huge forest preserve. I'd like to explore it sometime. Anyway, the two graves there are on my dad's side of the family -- Van Plews, James Wright and his wife Anna F. (Harms). James is the son of Henry and Sarah (Almond). You might remember the letters Henry wrote about coming to America. I will leave this cemetery story for another time.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Military Monday: William D. Rosser and the Spanish War

I am somewhat familiar with the surname ROSSER. My mom always talked about her cousin Roy, but I don't remember too much more. I found a picture of Roy with aunt Florence and mom, and I was going to put a little story together about him, but as it turns out, he isn't the subject of this post. Today's post is about William, Roy's father.

The Rossers are distant relatives; they are part of my mom's side of the family I know very little about -- my great grandfather August F. Buschick's first marriage. Because they are collaterals, I haven't researched them much at all. Recently I was looking at some scans of the Buschick family when I came across a picture I never really paid a lot of attention to. I was thrilled to see a young man in a military uniform...identified as "Will Rosser Spanish American War."  Ah! It's Military Monday! We don't see much on the Spanish American war...this would be a nice posting.

I did a quick bit of info gathering on Ancestry.com and Fold3.com just for this post otherwise I wouldn't have anything to say and it would have to wait until "Wordless Wednesday," I write that with a grin. As it turns out, I may have more questions than answers.

William David was born 27 Jul 1876 in Youngstown, Ohio to David and Ann (Samuels) Rosser who were both born in Wales. Of all the children cousin Roy Llewellyn is the only one with a noticeably Welch middle name. I wonder if that is a clue to where William's parents were from in Wales?

On the left in the image below is the 1898 Record for Private William D. Rosser. I found it on Ancestry.com while searching the Military records, but didn't find much more to go with this. I checked the Illinois list of volunteers for the Company M, 1st Illinois Infantry but couldn't find his name. Yet the documents I have found online all indicate he was part of that company. Was it an error? Maybe he was out of the infantry so fast he wasn't listed. Maybe that is why I can't find any more military information on him. I wonder if there are discharge papers; haven't seen those either. Was he in active duty? If so, he had a whirlwind adventure; he possibly signed up at the start in April, out around September, and back home to marry his sweetheart by the December of 1898. Makes my head spin!
(Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S., Spanish American War Volunteers, 1898 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.  Original data: General Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers who Served During the War with Spain. Microfilm publication M871, 126 rolls. Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780s–1917, Record Group 94. The National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.)

Doesn't William look proud in his uniform? I wonder, was he on his way to war or did he have the picture taken for his mother or sweetheart as something to remember him by... just in case? Or had he just come back? There is a medal on his chest. What is it for? Don't you wish sometimes the answers would be on the back of the photo? I was lucky my aunt Florence wrote his name under the picture in the family album.

Was his uniform actually for the Spanish American War? I wanted to make sure, so I checked a couple websites to compare uniforms. I concluded it was so similar to the others online, from the leggings to the canteen, they had to be of that war. 

Not being familiar with war medals, I can't make out or identify the medal pinned to his coat. I looked online for other medals from that war and found a ribbon with the cross, but the top "bling" didn't match to any. The medal might just signify which regiment he was associated with. Or, was the picture taken after the war and the medal was earned for some event during it?

I wonder if he knew what he was getting into when he volunteered? I heard many boys died from tainted food as well as malaria. Did he serve with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders? Was he one of those who charged up San Juan Hill? Was there anything exciting for the 1st Illinois to be involved in?

The Spanish American War only lasted from April to August 1898 with the Treaty of Paris being signed in December of that year. Makes one wonder how much time was given to actual fighting when you think of the travel time to the battle grounds of Cuba and Puerto Rico. 

From The Spanish American War Centennial website, Joe Petritsch gives "A Brief History of the 1st Illinois Volunteer Infantry." This is an interesting site because it explains 1st Illinois went to Cuba, but by the time the 1st Illinois got to Cuba, it was well into July 1898. They participated in (or prior to) the siege of Santiago. The 1st Illinois received orders to leave Cuba on 24 August around noon. They boarded a transport ship heading for New York's Long Island. There were many men who contracted tropical diseases which some died from. Petritsch never mentioned anything about tainted food. In September many of the men took a 60-day furlough and went home to Chicago. Some of the men who were quarantined didn't get leave. The members of the 1st Illinois Infantry were released from service in November 1898. They still remained part of the Illinois National Guard after they got home.

On 24 December 1898, in Chicago, William David Rosser married Elizabeth Susan NORRIS who is my "half first cousin once removed" and the daughter of Catherine W. (BUSCHICK) and Samuel NORRIS. Catherine is the daughter of my g-grandfather August Ferdinand Buschick and his first wife Catherine (WYLIE). They lived in the West Pullman area in south side of Chicago on Eggleston Ave. They had 10 children. Their first child Roy was the cousin mom talked about most. 

Continuing to look on Ancestry.com and on Fold3.com, I found William had registered for WW I. It is hard to make out, but at the bottom you can see "wife is Elizabeth Rosser" and they lived at 11527 Eggleston Ave. This address matches all the entries in censuses from 1900 to 1940 and if we had access to the 1950 and 1960 censuses, I would think Elizabeth remained there until her death. I found Fold3 to have slim pickings for Spanish American War information. 

I haven't done military research, so I'm not sure if William actually served in this war or how to find out. He would have been about 42 years old. Was that too old to serve? Was there an "old man's" draft? I couldn't find any more information. Maybe a Rosser family historian can tell me and I can fill in the blanks. My contact information is on the right column.

Source Citation: Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook; Roll: 1493571; Draft Board: 22.
Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

William * was a mail clerk or carrier according to the 1910-1930 censuses. 

William David Rosser died in August 1931 and is buried in Mt. Greenwood Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. Elizabeth applied for death benefits the following September. Here again it states he was in Co. M 1st Illinois Infantry and was an "Invalid" January 7, 1899. This doesn't tell me if he was injured in the Spanish American War or if on his job after serving. It left minor children blank, only his wife as a dependent. By 1931 all the children were out of the house with only one passing away in 1926. Elizabeth passed away Oct. 1961 at the age of 77.

This above card was also found on Ancestry.com. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.  Original data: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. T288, 546 rolls.

The picture of Elizabeth has been removed. It was mis-identified. If I can identify another, I'll add it to this post.

I would love to learn more about this family and if anyone connected to it is researching. There are so many blanks to fill in. Such as when and where Catherine (Wylie) Buschick died and is buried; when and where Catherine and August married. I know they were living in LaSalle County, Illinois in 1850 and by 1860 they can be found in Chicago.

To work up a time line of August's life, knowing more about Catherine could help me solve some mysteries like when and where August married his second wife, my great grandmother Susan FOWLER. Right now I can only guess and I don't like doing that.

* Corrections:
Originally I had written that William was a stone cutter and sculptor. He never was. The stone cutter and sculptor was his father-in-law's profession. (refer to the comment by Anonymous below.)